Posted BY: Streiff

Just before Easter, the Russians announced that they had accomplished all of their pre-invasion objectives and were beginning a new phase. The new phase required the abandonment of Russia’s attempt to seize control of Kyiv and focus the war on gaining control of Donbas and establishing a land bridge from Russia to Crimea (read Ukraine’s Future Depends on These Three Fights That Russia Must Win and 10 Days Into Putin’s ‘New Phase’ of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine, There Are Minor Advances but the Clock Is Ticking). That goal eventually expanded to creating Russian-owned territory from Russia to Moldova and stripping Ukraine of all access to the Black Sea (Putin Decides to Widen the War With Ukraine to Achieve His Objectives).

Credit: UK Ministry of Defence on Twitter

Since those posts, the war has become much more static. Near Kherson, in the south, a few villages exchange hands each week. Russia has deported thousands of residents of Kherson and, according to reports, is attempting to organize a fake government, like those of the “republics” in Donetsk and Luhansk, to declare its independence from Ukraine…and fealty to Moscow (Russia Is Creating Facts on the Ground to Support Annexing Eastern Ukraine).

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Credit: UK Ministry of Defence on Twitter

The siege of Mariupol still occupies a handful of Russian battalion tactical groups (BTGs), and the defenders still control most of the sprawling Azovstal iron and steelworks. A mixed force of Ukrainian infantry and marines are surviving on a tenuous resupply line via the sea and sheltering in a tunnel complex designed to defeat a nuclear attack.

Credit: UK Ministry of Defence on Twitter

The southern part of the Donbas front, on the Zaporizhzhia axis, is much like the area around Kherson, with both sides jockeying for position and gaining and losing villages.

Last week, Ukraine set into motion a surprising counteroffensive between the city of Kharkiv and the Russian border. As a result, Ukrainian troops are now on the border, and Russian troops are falling back into Russia.

Last week, I posted on that counteroffensive in Russian Troops Retreat From Ukraine to Russia: Planned Redeployment or the Beginning of Collapse? and Russia Suspends Most Offensive Operations in Reaction to Ukraine’s Surprising Counteroffensive. The threat posed to the Russian army to the east of the counteroffensive area is critical. The main supply line, both rail and road, from Russia into Donbas is now within Ukrainian artillery range. Likewise, the primary rail line from Belarus and Western Russia to the war zone passes within range of Ukrainian artillery. However, the jury is still out on how aggressive the Ukrainians will be in shelling targets inside Russia.

One of the things we’ve learned from this counteroffensive is where the “soldiers” from Russian territory in Donbas fit in. Because they are not Russian, they are not allowed to retreat into Russia. Instead, they are caught between the approaching Ukrainian Army and Russian border guards.