The war in Ukraine has been going on for three months. It soon became clear that Russia’s plan to seize Ukraine in a few days would not work. Russian troops were poorly prepared, often mutilated and suffered heavy casualties. The capture of Kiev failed and the troops turned east. It has already been said that they can not withstand much time.
But now the picture seems to be changing: the Russian Armed Forces have apparently won the Donbass. SRF foreign editor David Naur may fight to the bitter end about the war in the East.
Foreign teacher SRF, Focus on Russia
David Noir is a foreign editor at Radio SRF. From 2016 to 2021 he worked as a Radio SRF reporter in Russia.
SRF News: What is the current status of Donbass?
David Navier: The situation has become very difficult for the Ukrainians over the last few days. The Russians broke through the Ukrainian defenses in several places and advanced several kilometers. The Ukrainians are particularly vulnerable in the city of Chevrodonetsk, which they control. The Russians are launching a major offensive in the region. There is a risk of encircling the city.
Why is it important for Ukraine to take over the city?
Located in the Luhansk region, one of the two regions in the Chevroletonetsk Donbass. The city is basically still under Ukrainian control in the last corner of Luhansk. Now the Kremlin says it wants to “liberate” Donbass, which means it must actually occupy it. If Severodonetsk falls into Russian hands, Moscow can declare that its first war goal has been achieved: the Luhansk region will be under Russian control.
There are military experts who have almost written off the Russian war capability. Why are they winning again?
There are two reasons. First, the Russians have drastically reduced their war intentions. Instead of taking over the whole of Ukraine or the whole eastern part of the country, they are now fighting primarily in the Donbass, which is a very small area in terms of the size of Ukraine.
Second, the Russians changed their tactics. They gather massive troops and then fire cannons for several days from all the guns – then advance with superior force. This was a different approach than it was at the beginning of the war, and the Russians were very confused because they thought the Ukrainians would surrender.
I doubt that Putin will stop the war against Ukraine only when his army is physically unable to carry out further attacks.
What counter-measures should Ukraine take?
Ukraine needs more modern, heavier weapons from the West, especially artillery and armored vehicles. But the Ukrainians are already fighting hard for every village and every position – they are causing great loss to the Russians. According to military experts, this is actually a battlefield; The question is which army will go without strength first – it is not yet predictable whether it will be the Russians or the Ukrainians.
If the Russians had taken the whole Donbass, would they have achieved their goal?
It is difficult to say what the Russians would do in such a situation. I doubt that Putin will stop the war against Ukraine only when his army is physically unable to carry out further attacks. When simply several tanks were destroyed, several soldiers died. Then Moscow can lend a hand in the negotiations. Until then Russia will continue the war.
The conversation was moderated by Simon Halliger.
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