Russian forces have likely given up on planning a single large encirclement of Ukrainian troops in the country’s east, analysts at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) think tank said in their latest assessment. Instead, Russia is likely to seek smaller encirclements and more incremental territorial gains. Although their forces have secured more terrain in the past week than earlier in May, this has been achieved by scaling back their objectives, the ISW said — largely abandoning operations around Izyum and concentrating on key front-line towns. Overall, Russia’s performance “remains poor,” the think tank said.
Severodonetsk: The battle for one of the last big cities under Ukrainian control in the eastern Luhansk region could become drawn-out urban combat if Russian forces succeed in surrounding it. The regional governor, Serhiy Haidai, has signaled that Ukrainian forces in the city may hold out, following the example of their counterparts in Mariupol. “Severodonetsk is fully under the Ukrainian authorities’ control. The armed forces are holding the defense,” Haidai said in a video Tuesday. He added that the situation was “stable” but “difficult.”
Elsewhere in Donbas: Russia is committing a “significant number of their troops, artillery, and aircraft” to defeat Ukrainian forces in Luhansk, the ISW said, likely by pulling resources from the cities of Kharkiv and Donetsk — where they are bracing for Ukrainian counteroffensives — and the Zaporizhzhia area. If the front line moves further west, as part of a wider campaign to seize Donbas entirely, Russia will again encounter the kind of logistical supply problems that plagued its early campaign, according to British defense officials.
Kyiv: Despite almost daily air raid sirens and the presence of soldiers in the streets, the Ukrainian capital is springing back to life, with restaurants, bars and stores full of people. More than 2 million Ukrainians have crossed back into the country since Feb. 28, border authorities said.
Chernihiv region: In this region in Ukraine’s north, a cross-border war is playing out as Russian tanks lob shells at Ukrainian villages, and bullets fly across a tense no man’s land in sporadic gunfights. Ukrainian border guards are watching warily as their adversaries again mass troops and equipment after being beaten back across the border.
Max Bearak contributed to this report.