Russia's offensive in eastern Ukraine has seen some "localised successes" of late, and only one city is standing in the way of total Russian control of a key province in the Donbas region, the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defense said Tuesday.
Russian forces are attempting to encircle several cities in the Donbas region, increasing the intensity of combat operations and concentrating artillery units in the region, leading to some successes, the British Ministry of Defense said in an intelligence update. The city of Severodonetsk is the last area under Ukrainian control in the Luhansk province, the northern province of the Donbas region, according to reports.
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"Russia has increased the intensity of its operations in the Donbas as it seeks to encircle Severodonetsk, Lyschansk, and Rubizhne," the British ministry said on Twitter.
"Russia’s capture of the Severodonetsk pocket would see the whole of Luhansk Oblast placed under Russian occupation," it added.
The illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine is continuing.— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) May 24, 2022
The map below is the latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine - 24 May 2022
Find out more about the UK government's response: https://t.co/jtTcuPCs66
🇺🇦 #StandWithUkraine 🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/fAw6Dj1aPm
The governor of Luhansk said on Monday that Russia is throwing everything it has at Severodonetsk in an attempt to claim a key victory in its war in Ukraine.
“The situation here is difficult because the Russian army has now thrown all [its] forces at capturing the Luhansk region," Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Haidai told a Ukrainian television station.
Capturing Severodonetsk, a city that before the war had a population of 100,000, would be presented "as a huge victory,” Haidai said, adding that Russia is using scorched-earth tactics against the town.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday that the fighting around Severodonetsk will be costly for the Ukrainian side.
“Today, from 50 to 100 people could be killed here in the most complicated area in the east of our country,” Zelensky said.
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The U.K. warned, however, that if Russia were to try and extend the front lines in Donbas further west, it could be in trouble.
"If the Donbas front line moves further west, this will extend Russian lines of communication and likely see its forces face further logistic resupply difficulties," the U.K. Defense Ministry said.