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Battle of Donbas (2022)

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Battle of Donbas (2022)
Part of the Eastern Ukraine offensive of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine
War for donbass 24-6-2022.svg
Military situation as of 3 August 2022: pink highlights areas held by the DNR, LNR, and Russia, yellow highlights areas held by the Ukrainian government.
For a more up-to-date map, see the Russo-Ukrainian War map
Date18 April 2022 – present
(4 months, 3 weeks and 5 days)
Location
Status

Ongoing

Belligerents
 Russia
* Kharkiv military–civilian administration
 Donetsk PR
 Luhansk PR
 Ukraine
Units involved
See order of battle See order of battle
Strength
87,000–110,000 40,000–50,000[6]
Strength estimates are as of the start of the invasion, not the battle itself.
Casualties and losses
Ukrainian claim:
6,300–7,350+ killed
Russian claim:
12,490+ killed
~2,750+ civilians killed, 3,000+ wounded
Reports vary widely. See Casualties for more details.

The battle of Donbas[7][8] is an ongoing military offensive that is part of the wider eastern Ukraine offensive of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. The battle began on 18 April 2022 between the armed forces of Russia and Ukraine for control of the provinces (oblasts) of Donetsk and Luhansk.[9][10][11] Military analysts consider the battle to be part of the second strategic phase of the invasion.[12][13]

The aim of the battle is to encircle Ukrainian troops in the Donbas and to annex the entire Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts to the Russian-backed separatist states of the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People's Republic (LPR).[14][15] The initial development and strategic importance of the battle of the Donbas has been compared to the Battle of Kursk (1943).[8][16][17]

By 23 June, Russian officials claimed to control 55% of the Donetsk region.[18][19][20] By 3 July, Russia claimed to control all of the Luhansk region.[21]

As of 3 July, Russia, LPR and DPR had captured the cities of Mariupol,[22] Sievierodonetsk,[23] Lysychansk,[24] Rubizhne,[25] and many more.

Background

On 25 March 2022, Russian officials declared that the first phase of the "special military operation" in Ukraine was complete. On 29 March 2022, they declared that they intended to scale back their military operations in the region around the capital city of Kyiv. This effectively ended Russian operations in northern Ukraine and in Northeastern Ukraine.[26] Russian military officials declared that the Ukrainian Navy and Air Force had been neutralized. They also stated that the DPR and LPR controlled 54% and 93% of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts, respectively.[18] The tactical withdrawal of Russian Armed Forces from the north was completed by 6 April 2022.[27][28] As the Ukrainian forces regained previously occupied territory, Russian war crimes — including the Bucha massacre — were discovered.

The Donbas region had been the site of protracted fighting between Russia-backed separatists from the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics and the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Between 2014 and late 2021, the war in Donbas had taken the lives of more than 10,000 separatist, Russian, and Ukrainian combatants, as well as 3,095 civilians.[29]

Prior operations

On 24 February 2022, Russia, along with the quasi-states DPR and LPR launched an invasion across numerous fronts, including in the Donbas. On February 24 and the present, Russian and allied forces began fighting the battle of Kharkiv, as well as numerous other small clashes aimed at capturing key Ukrainian cities. The Siege of Mariupol began on 24 February, destroying 95% of the city and potentially killing over 22,000 civilians.[30][31] Between 24 February and 18 April, Russian forces had not conducted much activity along the "Line of Contact," the front line which had more or less remained static since 2014, only launching small-scale reconnaissance efforts as well as small-scale artillery campaigns against Ukrainian military installations.

On 11 March 2022, Russian tanks allegedly shelled a care home for the elderly in Kreminna, killing 56 civilians and wounding an unknown number of residents.[32] According to Ukrainian authorities, an additional 15 civilians were abducted by Russian soldiers and taken to separatist-occupied territory in Luhansk Oblast.

On 8 April 2022, Russian forces allegedly launched an attack on the Kramatorsk railway station. The attack killed 59 civilians, including seven children, and wounded 114 more.[33][34] Ukrainian and Western officials decried the attack as "purposeful," a "monstrous war crime," and a "deliberate slaughter," while the Russian Defense Ministry denied the accusations and instead claimed the attack to be a false-flag operation by Ukrainian forces, arguing that the Tochka-U missile used was not a part of the Russian arsenal but rather the Ukrainian one.[35][36][37]

Opposing forces

Chechen Kadyrovites alongside Russian regular troops and separatist militiamen in the Donbas in June 2022
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy greets soldiers of the 24th Mechanized Brigade in the Donbas on 5 June 2022

Russian and pro-Russian separatist forces

For the battle, the Russians used three armies along with a tank division and a rocket artillery brigade. By mid-April, Russia had concentrated upwards of 65 battalion tactical groups (BTGs) on the line of contact. Over the course of several days before 18 April, 11 BTGs were added to the existing Russian strength in the Donbas, bringing the total number of BTGs in the Donbas to 76, amounting to a total of about 60,000 troops.[38][39]

The Union of Donbas Volunteers, a pro-Russian group of volunteers formed in 2014, was said to have an active strength of about 14,500 fighters.[40]

Western media citing officials of the European Union have reported that 10,000–20,000 Libyan, Syrian, Ethiopian, and Wagner Group mercenaries were mobilized by Russian forces in the Donbas.[41][42][43]

Ukraine

For the battle, the Ukrainians had concentrated six regular brigades and the Georgian Legion. According to Forbes on 1 February, Ukraine's army consisted of 20 active brigades, meaning that 30% of the Ukrainian active forces, or around 51,000 soldiers, were organized in the Donbas.[44][45] Additionally, units of the Territorial Defense force were active in the Donbas, along with an unknown number of civilian reserves, foreign volunteers, and partisans.

President Zelenskyy said on April 15 that Ukrainian forces numbered 44,000 in the Donbas region.[46] On 19 April, the BBC reported that Ukrainian troops in the Donbas numbered 40,000–50,000 men.[47]

Prelude

In mid-April 2022, U.S. intelligence reported that Russia was "repositioning" its military units to the Donbas. Russian units from Northern Ukraine battlefronts in Kyiv, Sumy, Chernihiv, and elsewhere were noted by Maxar satellite imagery to be relocating to the Donbas region, while reinforcements from regions in Belarus and Russia supplemented these units.[48]

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov acknowledged the beginning of a new offensive in Donbas, claiming it to be a "very important moment in this entire special operation."[49] To address the new stage of the Russian offensive in Ukraine, French President Emmanuel Macron and US president Joe Biden held a meeting with representatives from France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, Italy, Poland, and Romania. They were joined by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel.[50]

Russian objectives

On 22 April the commander of Russia's Central Military District, Rustam Minnekayev, declared that the aim of the "second phase" of the country's invasion of Ukraine was to fully seize Donbas and Southern Ukraine and to establish a land corridor with Transnistria, a Russian-occupied breakaway unrecognized republic internationally recognized as part of Moldova. He added that there was "evidence that the Russian-speaking population is being oppressed" in Transnistria without providing further detail into his accusations.[51][52] The Ministry of Defence of Ukraine replied to this announcement by describing Russia's intentions as imperialism, saying that it contradicted previous Russian claims that assured that Russia did not have territorial ambitions over Ukraine and that Russia had admitted that "the goal of the 'second phase' of the war is not victory over the mythical Nazis, but simply the occupation of eastern and southern Ukraine".[51][53]

According to Russian sources, the official representative of the LPR forces, Andrey Marochko, stated that in order to secure the LPR land, their, DPR and Russian forces must push the Ukrainian forces away from the LPR's borders for no less than 300 kilometers.[54] The 300 km claim would mean the full Kharkiv Oblast and Donetsk region, parts of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Zaporizhya Oblast, Sumy Oblast and Poltava Oblast. Russian sources said that the LPR's ambassador in Russia, Rodion Miroshnik, confirmed that LPR troops would continue to participate in the Donbas offensive, saying the presence of Ukrainian units along the LPR's borders would threaten security.[55]

The ISW assessed that despite Russia's concentration in the east, they still had territorial ambitions beyond Luhansk and Donetsk Oblast.[56]

Battle

Russian tanks in Eastern Ukraine after crossing the Siverskyi Donets with pontoon bridges, April 2022

Early operations (18–30 April)

On the night of 18 April 2022, Russian forces launched an intensive bombardment campaign against positions in Luhansk, Donetsk, and Kharkiv Oblasts.[57] Russian shelling overnight in Donetsk killed two civilians and wounded nine, according to online news sources.[58] Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced that the "battle for Donbas" had begun.[59] Russian artillery pounded cities in the Donbas, aiming at destroying critical infrastructure.[60]

The head of the Luhansk regional military administration and effective governor of the oblast, Serhiy Haidai, called on the region's residents to evacuate immediately so as to not become hostages or to be killed by the Russians.[61]

By 25 April, Russian forces achieved a three-to-one numerical supremacy over the Ukrainian forces (the traditional number considered to be the requirement for an attacking force), concentrating upwards of 76 Battalion tactical groups (BTGs) with 800 personnel per BTG in the Donbas.[62][63][64][65]

In the first week, Russian forces secured full control over Kreminna,[66][67] advanced in Rubizhne,[68] occupied large areas of Popasna,[69][68] and continued to shell positions along the front line. According to a Ukrainian official, Russian forces captured 42 villages in the Donetsk Oblast, though she did not specify which villages had been captured.[4]

In the Slobozhansky and Donetsk operational districts, Russian troops intensified offensive operations in some areas, attempting to break through the Ukrainian defenses along almost the entire front line in Donetsk, Kharkiv and Luhansk regions.[70] Meanwhile, the Ukrainian government stated their forces launched a counterattack and recaptured the town of Marinka.[71] Libyan and Syrian mercenaries likely associated with the Wagner Group allegedly clashed with Ukrainian forces in Popasna. The Ukrainian government claimed that 20–25 mercenaries had been killed.[68]

Russian forces continued a slow, steady advance, capturing the towns of Popivka, Pischane, Novotoshkivske, Zarichne and Zhytlivka, and prepared to capture and advance past Popasna, advance southeast from Izium and westwards from Kreminna.[72][5]

Between 22 April and 29 April, 110 DPR servicemen were killed and 451 were injured.[73]

Intensified clashes (1–19 May)

Destroyed Russian pontoon bridge and vehicles near Bilohorivka during the battle of the Siverskyi Donets.

Beginning in May, Russian troops launched intensified battles—marked by mass artillery campaigns followed by ground assaults—on Ukrainian positions across the front line.[74]

By 7 May, the now largely destroyed city of Popasna was captured by Russian and Luhansk People Republic forces, with this being confirmed by the regional governor.[75][76] By 12 May, it was reported that Russian forces had seized Rubizhne.[77]

From 5 May to 13 May, a major battle on the Donets river took place, with Ukrainian defenders successfully repelling multiple Russian attempts to cross the strategic river.[78] The Ukrainian armed forces claimed to have destroyed an entire battalion of Russian forces, killing up to 1,000–1,500 soldiers.[79] The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) think tank reported that out of a force of 550 Russian troops, 485 were killed and wounded, as well as 80 vehicles lost.[80]

Ukraine claimed to have launched a counterattack against Russian forces near Izium on 15 May.[81][82] On the same day, it was reported that Russian forces had captured the village of Dovhen'ke, south of Izium.[83]

Russian breakthrough (20 May–3 July)

President Zelenskyy with the 24th Mechanized Brigade near the front line in the Donbas on 5 June 2022

Beginning in late May, Russian forces made breakthroughs in many regions across the front line. Russian troops were seen to be using a new "cauldron" approach to their efforts, abandoning large encirclements in favor of smaller ones, which enabled them to make the first major gains of the battle.[84]

On 20 May, Russian forces made further advances in the west and south of Popasna, with the aim of cutting off the road to Sievierodonetsk.[85][86] Despite stiff Ukrainian resistance, Russian forces finally broke through in the Popasna area on 20 May.[87] By 22 May, Russian forces managed to secure their route of advance and attempted to simultaneously push west towards Bakhmut and north to cut off-road links to Sievierodonetsk.[88]

Russian forces were reported entering the town of Lyman on 23 May, fully capturing it by the 26th,[89][90] whereas Ukrainian forces were reported leaving Sviatohirsk.[91] By 24 May, Russian forces captured the town of Svitlodarsk.[92]

On 1 June, Ukraine announced that 70–80% of Sieverodonetsk had been captured by Russian forces.[93] On 3 June, Ukraine claimed to have launched a counterattack to take back 20% of the city.[94] On 8 June, however, the Ukrainian Army was pushed back to the outskirts of the city of Sievierodonetsk.[95]

By mid-June, the general consensus in the military community was that Ukraine was almost out of ammunition and was heavily outgunned.[96] A senior Ukrainian military official added that Ukraine was reliant on the West to supply weapons, as Russia had an advantage of 10 to 15 times more artillery systems than Ukraine, and that Western rocket systems were needed to destroy Russian artillery.[97] Furthermore, despite Ukrainian forces using 5,000-6,000 rounds a day, specifically 155 mm Western-supplied rounds, they were still outgunned up to 40-to-1 in some locations.[98]

With the breakthrough near Popasna significantly slowed by Ukrainian heavy guns,[99] Russia began an offensive to the southeast of Popasna, aiming to bypass the Siverskyi Donets river and bombard Lysychansk from the south.[100] The ISW assessed that Russian commanders had been given the deadline of 26 June to make a breakthrough and seize Luhansk Oblast's full administrative territory.[100]

Fall of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk

Pro-Russian separatist troops advance towards Lysychansk, June 2022
Fire at the Toretska coal mine in Toretsk after Russian shelling on 27 June 2022

By 23 June, Russia had fully broken through in the south, seizing Toshkivka[101] and making major gains south of Lysychansk. Russian forces captured Loskutivka [uk], Myrna Dolyna, Rai-Oleksandrivka [uk] and Pidlisne [uk] all on 22 June.[102][103] On 23 June, Russian forces cut off and surrounded the towns of Hirske and Zolote, which they claimed to have fully captured by next day.[104][105] In addition, Russia made a push to fully secure the Azot chemical plant in Sievierodonetsk, which by 14 June had become the last refuge for Ukrainian soldiers in the city.[106] From the north, Russian troops were less successful, attempting to make breakthroughs near Mykolaivka and Bohorodychne, in an attempt to advance on the Donetsk city of Sloviansk.[107][108] Nonetheless, the Russian advance ground on, with Russia's breakthrough in the south putting pressure on the few remaining Ukrainian defenders of Luhansk Oblast to withdraw to defensive lines near the border with Donetsk Oblast.[109]

Russian forces had fully encircled Hirske and Zolote in their drive north to Lysychansk by 24 June.[110] Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces had suffered over 1,000 casualties, including 800 prisoners, in Hirske, Zolote and near Lysychansk over the previous two days.[111] By 25 June, Ukrainian officials had announced that their troops had retreated from Sievierodonetsk in order to avoid being surrounded by Russian troops, signalling the city's capture.[112][113][114] By 1 July, Russian forces continued encircling Lysychansk from the south and west, attempting to cut off the T1302 Lysychansk-Bakhmut highway from the city. As part of the encirclement, Russian forces claimed to have also seized Pryvillia, northwest of Lysychansk, after units made river crossings to the north and west of the town. Ukrainian positions near Siversk, Bilohorivka, Vovchoyarivka, Berestove, Yakovlivka, Vidrodzhennia, Mayorsk, and the Vuhlehirska thermal power plant were shelled by artillery.[115][116]

On 2–3 July, Russia and LPR separatist forces claimed to have captured and controlled Lysychansk, however Ukrainian officials, including president Volodymyr Zelenskyy,[117] had yet to officially acknowledge the strategic city's capture, only saying there were ongoing fierce clashes for the city.[118] The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) supported the Russian claim that Lysychansk had fallen on 2 July, suggesting the Ukrainian defenders likely "deliberately withdrew" from the city.[24] Furthermore, the Russian defence ministry claimed to have captured and were in the process of clearing many settlements on the Lysychansk outskirts, including Verkhnekamenka, Zolotarivka, Bilohorivka, Novodruzhesk, Maloryazantsevo, and Bila Hora.[119][120] Ukrainian officials subsequently conceded that Lysychansk was captured.

With the fall of Lysychansk and its western outskirts, Russia and the Luhansk People's Republic declared full control of Luhansk Oblast for the first time, achieving an objective of the Russian-led campaign.[121] Russian shelling of Sloviansk intensified on 3 July.[122]

Russian operational pause (4–16 July)

Unexploded Russian rocket in Oleksandrivka on 6 July
Aftermath of Russian shelling on Metallurg stadium in Bakhmut on 11 July

After fully capturing and occupying Luhansk Oblast, Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered defence minister Sergei Shoigu to continue the offensive in Donbas as planned, adding that units that fought on the Luhansk front "should certainly rest and increase their combat capabilities."[123] According to the Institute for the Study of War, Russian forces made no claimed or assessed territorial gains "for the first time in 133 days of war" and suggested that Russia was likely taking an "operational pause" to rest and regroup its forces before a planned renewed assault.[124] The UK defence ministry expected the city of Siversk to be the immediate tactical objective of their renewed assault.[125]

An intelligence briefing by the UK defence ministry on 4 July said Russian forces would "almost certainly" transition to capturing the rest of Donetsk Oblast, around 55 percent of which was already in control by Russian and Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) separatist forces. The ministry predicted the fighting in Donetsk would continue to be "grinding and attritional," typified by massive artillery shelling leveling towns and cities amid slow ground advances. Ukraine's governor of Luhansk, Serhiy Haidai said he expected Donetsk cities such as Sloviansk and Bakhmut to soon come under heavy Russian attack, and said both cities were increasingly being shelled. Similar to UK intelligence reports, the Ukrainians expected the Russians to push west along the Bakhmut-Lysychansk highway.[126][127][128] On 5 July, the mayor of Sloviansk, Vadym Liakh [uk; ru], urged residents to evacuate the city. "The nearest Russian positions are 7-10 km from the city," said Liakh.[129] The governor of Donetsk Oblast, Pavlo Kyrylenko, urged the 350,000 remaining residents to evacuate the province.[130]

Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai claimed that an attempt by Russian regular and reserve troops to expand a bridgehead on the Donets river had been stalled by a Ukrainian artillery attack.[131][132] Pro-Russian sources claimed the village of Spirne had been captured and advances were made during renewed ground assaults on the northern Donetsk village of Verkhnokamyansk; the claims were not independently confirmed at the time. Reportedly, both Russian and Ukrainian sources confirmed Ukrainian forces had recaptured the village of Solodke in a limited counterattack.[131]

On 11 July, President Zelenskyy dismissed the notion that there was an ongoing "operational pause" by the Russians, citing continued deadly shelling, air strikes, and continued reports of Ukrainian troops "repelling" various Russian assaults. Zelenskyy insisted that 34 Russian airstrikes in the past 24 hours were not indicative of an "operational pause".[133]

On 16 July, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced that the operational pause had finished.[134]

Assault on Donetsk Oblast (17 July–present)

By 17 July, Russian forces were in control of 55% of Donetsk Oblast. Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) Deputy Minister of Information Daniil Bezsonov stated on 25 July that the DPR expected to capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast by the end of August. Various Russian and Western sources had previously reported that Russia intended to hold referenda in occupied areas by the first half of September, likely sometime around September 11, which is the unified voting day in the Russian Federation.[135]

Between 17–20 July,[citation needed] Russian forces conducted repeated ground assaults east of Siversk and south of Bakhmut, but no major advancements were reported along the front line, with the Ukrainians claiming to have repelled many local assaults.[136] On 21 July, the British defence ministry warned that the Russians were closing in on the Vuhlehirska Power Station, the second largest power plant in Ukraine, and were attempting to make a breakthrough there.[137]

On 25 July, Russian forces gained control of Berestove. An LPR representative posted video footage of Wagner Group mercenaries in front of the entrance sign to Novoluhanske online, indicating that Russian troops had advanced into the town located roughly 25 km southeast of the Bakhmut outskirts. Several Russian sources also claimed that Russian forces had captured the Vuhlehirska power plant, located on the northern edge of Novoluhanske, and were actively clearing it, meanwhile the Ukrainian General Staff reported that the Russians only had "partial success" on that front. Pro-Russian sources said Wagner mercenary fighters took part in storming the power station and the fighting lasted several days before the plant was fully controlled by 26 July.[138] The ISW suggested Ukrainian troops likely conducted a "controlled withdrawal" from the Vuhlehirska reservoir area north-west towards Semyhirya.[139] A Ukrainian official confirmed the power plant's capture on 27 July.[140]

The DPR's Kalmius Brigade fires Giatsint-B artillery on Ukrainian positions in July 2022. Video released by the Russian Ministry of Defence.

On 26 July, the Ukrainian General Staff stated that Russian forces were fighting in the village of Semyhirya, west of the Vuhlehirska power plant.[141] On 27 July, geolocated video footage posted online showed that Wagner mercenaries had reached Klynove, while pro-Russian Telegram channel Readovka claimed that Russian forces established control over Pokrovske.[142] On 28 July, the Ukrainian General Staff said the Russians made small gains near Soledar and Vershyna and resumed assaults on Avdiivka and Pisky. The Ukrainians accused Russian troops of wearing Ukrainian uniforms during their ground assaults.[143][144] The Ukrainian military claimed to have neutralised 270 Russian and pro-Russian troops and destroyed seven tanks on 28 July, and that that they successfully repelled all assaults on Soledar-Vershnya and the Avdiivka-Pisky fronts.[145][146] However, the separatists claimed Russian and DPR forces in the Avdiivka area had made significant advances north and east of the city.[147]

Donetsk and Bakhmut Front

On 29 July, an explosion killed and wounded scores of Ukrainian POWs in Russian-occupied Olenivka. As of 30 July, the perpetrator of the attack remained disputed.[147] On 30 July, President Zelenskyy ordered all remaining civilians in the Donetsk region to evacuate. Between 200,000 and 220,000 civilians still lived in the unoccupied territory of Donetsk Oblast, according to Ukrainian estimates.[148]

On 1 August, the British defence ministry said Russia had made slow progress on the Bakhmut axis during daily assaults in the last four days.[149] Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai alleged that Russian forces were attempting to recruit and mobilise residents in LPR-controlled cities such as Alchevsk.[150] On 2 August, Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu stated that Russian forces had captured six front line settlements in recent days: Berestove, Pokrovske, Novoluhanske, Semyhiria, Hryhorivka, and Stryapivka.[151] On the same day, Russian forces captured Ukrainian positions around the Butivka Coal mine, southwest of Avdiivka, dislodging Ukrainian positions that had been held there since 2015. The Ukrainian General Staff also stated that Russian forces had "partial success" along the Vidrozhennya-Kodema line, about 20 km southeast of Bakhmut.[152]

On 5 August, Russian sources claimed that Russian troops were actively fighting at the Knauf Gips Donbas gypsum factory on the southeastern outskirts of Soledar. Meanwhile, separatist authorities claimed that separate DPR brigades and Wagner Group forces had taken control of half of Marinka, but the Ukrainians reported the assaults on Marinka were unsuccessful. Geolocated footage posted by DPR troops also suggested Travneve was likely captured by this day.[153][154] On 6 August, combat footage confirmed that Russian forces advanced into the eastern outskirts of Marinka. On 7 August, Russian forces pierced through the defenses of Pisky and reached the center of the settlement.[155] Russian sources claimed the villages of Volodymyrivka and Stryapivka, located southeast of Soledar, were captured by 9 August.[156] On 10 August, the DPR claimed to have captured Hladosove, west of Travneve.[157] On 11 August, Russian and DPR sources claimed that roughly 90 percent of Pisky had been captured, and combat footage purportedly showed the Russians bombarding the village with TOS-1A thermobaric artillery.[158] The Russian defence ministry claimed to have fully captured Pisky by 14 August,[159] but the Ukrainian military denied that it had been captured.[160] The ISW assessed that Pisky had been captured by 24 August.[161]

On 29 August, Russian and DPR forces claimed to have captured Kodema, west of Semyhiria and 13 km southwest of Bakhmut, however the Ukrainian General Staff reported to have repelled the advance on the settlement.[162] Russian and separatist forces, including elements of Wagner mercenaries, were reportedly continuing to fight for control of Kodema on 31 August.[163] Russian sources claimed that Wagner Group fighters established full control over the entirety of Kodema by the end of the day on September 6. ISW assessed that this claim is likely true. A Russian military correspondent posted footage of soldiers moving freely around streets in Kodema. Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) 3rd Brigade claimed they are also advancing from the outskirts of Horlivka (20km south of Bakhmut). Russian sources claimed that the 11th DNR Regiment took control of a bridge on the road that runs between Pisky and Pervomaiske (both on the northwestern outskirts of Donetsk City) and are continuing efforts to advance westward on Pervomaiske. [164]

Foreign involvement

Support for Ukraine

The Ukrainians continued a campaign of targeting Russian ammunition depots and logistics sites in Donetsk province with air strikes and, reportedly, U.S.-supplied M142 HIMARS or M270 rocket artillery systems. Video emerged of an apparent ammunition depot in the Snizhne, Donetsk region exploding, with pro-Ukrainian sources suggesting Ukrainian forces used M142 HIMARS supplied by the U.S. to attack the depot deep behind Russian-DPR front lines.[165][166] Oleksiy Arestovych, a Ukrainian presidential advisor, claimed that continued attacks on Russian ammunition depots and increased Ukrainian artillery supplies from NATO countries were forcing the Russians to conserve artillery shells and rockets for the first time. He argued that if this trend continued, the Ukrainians would, eventually, achieve artillery and logistical superiority on the battlefield in the Donbas.[131] President Zelenskyy, in his nightly public address, also hailed the impact Western-supplied artillery pieces were reportedly having on Russian logistics and strike capabilities.[167]

In late July 2022, Ukrainian soldiers and officers fighting in Donetsk offered anecdotal evidence of a significant reduction in Russian artillery fire. Former Western soldiers, calling themselves the Mozat Group, were offering informal basic training to Ukrainian troops.[168]

Support for Russia

The United States assessed in late August 2022 that Russia had received Qods Mohajer-6 and Shahed-series UAVs from Iran over several days that month, as part of a Russian plan to obtain hundreds of such vehicles for use in the invasion of Ukraine; national security adviser Jake Sullivan had warned in July about such a plan. Also according to US sources, Russian operators undertook training in Iran as part of the deal. A US official said in late August that Russia had faced "numerous failures" with the vehicles.[169][170]

Casualties

Military casualties

The Ukrainian government refrained from providing overall numbers of casualties to their own forces in the Donbas, although they did periodically offer various estimates of daily casualty counts. According to Ukraine, between 50 and 100 Ukrainian soldiers were being killed daily on the Donbas front as of late May.[171] By early June, up to 200 Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 800+ wounded daily in the Donbas.[172][173] By mid-June, some Ukrainian officials estimated that Ukrainian forces were sustaining well over the previous mark of 1,000 casualties per day, including 200-500 killed.[174]

With respect to Russian casualties, the Ukrainian Operational Command East provided daily casualty claims of Russian troops until 20 June.

During the fighting, a LPR battalion commander was killed when he and his fighters were surrounded by Ukrainian forces close to Kreminna and "fought to the last", according to the LPR. The clashes left an unknown number of killed and wounded.[175]

On 18 July, two Americans, a Canadian, and a Swedish national were killed during a Russian tank ambush during clashes near Hryhorivka, northeast of Siversk. The foreign fighters were part of a special operations unit of Ukraine's Territorial Defence Forces.[176]

Breakdown Casualties Time period Source
Ukrainian forces
(ZSU, NGU)
12,490+ killed 21 April – 20 June 2022 Russian Ministry of Defense[177]
Russian and allied forces
(RAF, DPR, LPR, PMC Wagner)
6,343–7,363+ soldiers killed 18 April – 20 June 2022 Ukrainian Eastern Command[178]
Donetsk PR forces 982+ killed, 4,165+ wounded 23 April – 14 July 2022 Donetsk PR[179]

Civilian casualties

Refugees gather their belongings in front of a van on the way from Bylbasovka (Donetsk) to Dnipropetrovsk on 23 June 2022.

During the battle, Russia intensified its attacks on civilian areas. 60 civilians were believed to be killed and at least seven wounded due to a Russian airstrike on a school sheltering about 90 civilians in Luhansk Oblast,[180] whereas the bodies of 44 civilians were recovered from rubble underneath an apartment building in Izium.[181] During the battle of Kreminna, near Rubizhne and Lysychansk,[182] Ukrainian forces lost control amid heavy fighting.[183] More than 200 civilians were killed during the battle, with four additional civilians being killed and one more wounded as they attempted to escape the fighting.[184] The Ukrainian government claimed that over 1,500 civilians were killed in Sievierodonetsk on 26 May.[185] On 10 July, a Russian rocket attack in Chasiv Yar struck a multi-story residential building, killing at least 34 people.[186][187]

As of 17 July, military activity related to the battle was confirmed to have killed at least 2,750 civilians and wounded over 3,000 more. As of 11 July, the United Nations counted 2,219 civilians killed in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions alone, in addition to 2,310 civilians wounded.[188]

The true number of civilian deaths and injuries is guaranteed to be significantly higher. Civilian casualties are impossible to tabulate due to the fog of war and lack of information flow due to the military occupation of segments of Ukrainian territory. For example, according to Ukrainian sources, "thousands" of civilians were killed in Lysychansk, although official data only accounted for 150 killed civilians.[189]

Civilian Deaths by Area
Area Casualties Time period Source
Bilohorivka 60 killed, 7 wounded 8 May 2022 Ukrainian government[190]
Donetsk Oblast
(excluding Mariupol)
433 killed, 961 wounded 18 April – 4 August 2022 Ukrainian government[191]
Kreminna 200 killed 18–19 April 2022 Ukrainian government[192]
Sievierodonetsk 1,100+ killed, 52+ wounded 27 May 2022 Ukrainian government[193]
Lysychansk 158+ killed, 42+ wounded 25 May 2022 Ukrainian government[194][195]
Kharkiv Oblast
(excluding Izium)
379+ killed, 328+ wounded 18 April – 11 July 2022 Ukrainian government[196][197]
Luhansk Oblast
(excluding Sievierodonetsk)
90 killed, 72 wounded 18 April – 16 June 2022 Ukrainian government[198]
Azovstal 600 wounded 29 April 2022 Ukrainian government[199]
Donetsk PR 354 killed, 999 wounded 23 April – 14 July 2022 Donetsk PR[200]
Luhansk PR 15+ killed, 3+ wounded 28 April – 8 June 2022 Luhansk PR[201]
TOTAL 2,799+ killed, 3,080+ wounded 18 April – 4 August 2022

Analysis

By 28 July, the ISW suggested the Russians were prioritizing their advance towards Bakhmut, from east and southeast of the city, at the expense of the Siversk front.[202]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ The ISW and Ukrainian forces claim Ukrainian control over Bilohorivka[citation needed] and the outskirts of Lysychansk.[citation needed]

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  175. ^ "Pro-Russian separatist army commander killed in east of Ukraine". BBC News. Archived from the original on 30 April 2022. Retrieved 24 April 2022.
  176. ^ "Russian tank attack in eastern Ukraine kills 2 Americans, Canadian and Swede". Politico. 23 July 2022. Retrieved 24 July 2022.
  177. ^ 120 killed (21 April) [1] Archived 22 April 2022 at the Wayback Machine 80 killed (22 April) [2] 200 killed (23 April),[3] Archived 1 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 160 killed (25 April) [4] 560 killed (26 April),[5] Archived 27 April 2022 at the Wayback Machine 120 killed (27 April),[6] Archived 27 April 2022 at the Wayback Machine 320 killed (28 April),[7] Archived 28 April 2022 at the Wayback Machine 280 killed (29 April),[8] Archived 29 April 2022 at the Wayback Machine 320 killed (30 April),[9] Archived 12 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine [10] Archived 1 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 440 killed (1 May) [11] Archived 14 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 160 killed (2 May) [12] 230 killed (3 May)[13] Archived 5 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 310 killed (4 May) [14] Archived 9 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 600 killed (5 May) [15] Archived 14 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 280 killed (6 May) [16] 210 killed (7 May) [17] 420 killed (8 May) [18] Archived 10 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 350 killed (9 May) [19] 280 killed (11 May) [20] 320 killed (12 May) [21] 620 killed (13 May) [22] Archived 14 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine [23] 100 killed (14 May) [24] 360 killed (16 May) [25] Archived 18 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 470 killed (17 May) [26] Archived 18 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 270 killed (18 May) [27] Archived 18 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 210 killed (22 May) [28] Archived 23 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 230 killed (23 May) [29] Archived 23 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 350 killed (26 May) [30] Archived 26 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 140 killed (1 June) [31] 240 killed (2 June) [32] 360 killed (3 June) [33] 400 killed (4 June) [34] 400 killed (7 June) [35] 780 killed (8 June) [36] 300 killed (11 June) [37] 350 killed (14 June) [38] 280 killed (16 June) [39] 200 killed (17 June) [40] 160 killed (18 June) [41] 400 killed (19 June) [42] 450 killed (20 June) [43] total of 12,490+ killed claimed by Russia
  178. ^ 200 killed in artillery strike on Russian command post [44] 300 killed in PMC Wagner base strike [45] 20-25 killed during battle of Popasna [46] Archived 21 April 2022 at the Wayback Machine 485-1,500+ killed during battle of Siverskyi Donets [47] Archived 14 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine [48] 20 killed (18 April),[49] Archived 12 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 30 killed (19 April),[50] Archived 27 April 2022 at the Wayback Machine 36 killed (20 April),[51] Archived 30 April 2022 at the Wayback Machine 200 killed (21 April),[52] Archived 22 April 2022 at the Wayback Machine 130 killed (22 April),[53] Archived 23 April 2022 at the Wayback Machine 150 killed (23 April),[54] Archived 26 April 2022 at the Wayback Machine 100 killed (24 April),[55] Archived 1 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 160 killed (25 April),[56] Archived 26 April 2022 at the Wayback Machine 100 killed (26 April),[57] Archived 9 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 75 killed (27 April),[58] Archived 27 April 2022 at the Wayback Machine 42 killed (28 April),[59] Archived 28 April 2022 at the Wayback Machine 173 killed (29 April), [60] Archived 29 April 2022 at the Wayback Machine 81 killed (30 April), [61] 57 killed (1 May), [62] Archived 1 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 275 killed (2 May), [63] Archived 2 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine [64] Archived 9 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 40 killed (3 May), [65] Archived 8 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 36 killed (4 May), [66] Archived 4 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 32 killed (5 May), [67] Archived 9 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 15 killed (6 May), [68] Archived 7 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 107 killed (7 May) [69] Archived 13 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 190 killed (8 May) [70] Archived 9 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 250 killed (9 May) [71] Archived 10 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 260 killed (10 May) [72] Archived 11 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 250 killed (11 May) [73] Archived 11 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 180 killed (12 May) [74] Archived 13 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 130 killed (13 May) [75] 80 killed (14 May) [76] 84 killed (15 May) [77] 178 killed (16 May) [78] Archived 17 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 110 killed (17 May) [79] Archived 18 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 220 killed (18 May) [80] Archived 18 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 40 killed (19 May) [81] Archived 20 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 80 killed (20 May) [82] Archived 20 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 28 killed (21 May) [83] Archived 21 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 9 killed (22 May) [84] Archived 22 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 30 killed (23 May) [85] Archived 23 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 180 killed (24 May) [86] Archived 24 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 62 killed (25 May) [87] Archived 25 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 87 killed (26 May) [88] Archived 26 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 60 killed (27 May) [89] Archived 27 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 33 killed (28 May) [90] Archived 1 June 2022 at the Wayback Machine 39 killed (29 May) [91] Archived 30 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 50 killed (30 May) [92] Archived 30 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine 22 killed (31 May) [93] 38 killed (1 June) [94] 32 killed (2 June) [95] 36 killed (3 June) [96] 60 killed (4 June) [97] 43 killed (5 June) [98] 48 killed (6 June) [99] 56 killed (7 June) [100] 31 killed (8 June) [101] 32 killed (9 June) [102] 30 killed (10 June) [103] 20 killed (11 June) [104] 18 killed (12 June) [105] 48 killed (13 June) [106] 73 killed (14 June) [107] 34 killed (15 June) [108] 26 killed (16 June) [109] 15 killed (17 June) [110] 87 killed (18 June) [111] 14 killed (19 June) [112] 106 killed (20 June) [113] total of 6,343–7,363+ killed claimed by Ukraine
  179. ^ [114] [115] [116] [117] [118] [119] [120] [121] [122] [123] [124] [125]
  180. ^ "60 believed killed after school attack by Russia in east Ukraine". www.aljazeera.com. Archived from the original on 8 May 2022. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  181. ^ "Bodies of 44 civilians found under rubble of five-story house in occupied Izyum, says governor". news.yahoo.com. Archived from the original on 10 May 2022. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  182. ^ "Росіяни взяли під контроль Кремінну, йдуть вуличні бої – Гайдай". Українська правда (in Ukrainian). Archived from the original on 19 April 2022. Retrieved 19 April 2022.
  183. ^ Sangal, Aditi; Macaya, Melissa; Chowdhury, Maureen; Caldwell, Travis; Regan, Helen; Guy, Jack; Ramsay, George (18 April 2022). "Control over city of Kreminna "lost" amid heavy fighting". CNN. Archived from the original on 21 April 2022. Retrieved 21 April 2022.
  184. ^ Zabrisky, Zarina [@ZarinaZabrisky] (18 April 2022). "#Luhansk region The Russians opened fire on the cars with civilians trying to leave Kremennaya, 4 dead, 1 wounded. Medics cannot reach her because of the endless shelling and street fighting. Serhiy Gaidai, head of the Luhansk OVA" (Tweet). Retrieved 24 April 2022 – via Twitter.
  185. ^ "Ukraine fears repeat of Mariupol horrors as Donbas offensive increases". 27 May 2022. Archived from the original on 27 May 2022. Retrieved 27 May 2022.
  186. ^ "Russian missile attack on high-rise building in Donetsk region: death toll rises to 15". Archived from the original on 10 July 2022. Retrieved 10 July 2022.
  187. ^ "Chasiv Yar death toll rises to 34 in one of Russia's deadliest attacks so far". the Guardian. 12 July 2022. Retrieved 13 July 2022.
  188. ^ 2,951 civilians killed and 3,584 wounded from the start of the invasion until 11 July [126], with 732 killed and 1,371 wounded up to 24 February [127], leaving a total of 2,219 civilians killed and 2,310 wounded counted by the U.N. during the period of the battle
  189. ^ "'The Russians are determined': Ukrainian soldiers defending Donbas city try to keep up morale under fire". Archived from the original on 26 May 2022. Retrieved 26 May 2022.
  190. ^ "Ukraine war: 60 people killed after bomb hits school, Zelensky says". BBC News. 8 May 2022. Archived from the original on 9 May 2022. Retrieved 23 May 2022.
  191. ^ 678 civilians were killed and 1,750 wounded during the period of the invasion[128], of which 245 civilians were killed and 789 were wounded between 24 February - 18 April,[129] leaving a total of 433 civilians killed and 961 wounded between 18 April - 4 August
  192. ^ "Russia takes Donbas town but Ukrainian frontline 'still holding'". The Guardian. 19 April 2022. Archived from the original on 22 April 2022. Retrieved 19 April 2022.
  193. ^ Up to 26 May 2022, at least 1,500 people had been killed since the start of the Russian invasion on 24 February 2022,[130] Archived 28 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine including around 400 who died by 12 April 2022.[131] Archived 26 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine
  194. ^ "Russian forces have 'upper hand' in Donbas fighting, Ukrainian officials say". TheGuardian.com. 26 May 2022. Archived from the original on 28 May 2022. Retrieved 26 May 2022.
  195. ^ "8 killed in Lysychansk as Russian forces try to storm the city, Ukrainian military official says". 27 June 2022.
  196. ^ 379 civilians killed in the period 18 April - 27 June (554 civilians killed up until 18 April [132], 936 civilians killed up until 3 July [133] leaving a total of 306 civilians dead during the period of the battle
  197. ^ 328+ wounded between 18 April and 27 June) 15 wounded (18 April) [134] 14 wounded (19 April) [135] 7 wounded (21 April) [136] 19 wounded (22 April) [137] 6 wounded (23 April) [138] 9 wounded (25 April) [139] 12 wounded (26 April) [140] 3 wounded (27 April) [141] 2 wounded (28 April) [142] 5 wounded (29 April) [143] 8 wounded (1 May) [144] 8 wounded (2 May) [145] 1 wounded (3 May) [146] 5 wounded (6 May) [147] 5 wounded (8 May) [148] 10 wounded (10 May) [149] 4 wounded (13 May) [150] 5+ wounded (19 May) [151] 3 wounded (20 May) [152] 3 wounded (24 May) [153] 19 wounded (26 May) [154] 4 wounded (30 May) [155] 14 wounded (31 May) [156] 1 wounded (2 June) [157] 1 wounded (5 June) [158] 3 wounded (7 June) [159] 6 wounded (8 June) [160] 28 wounded (9 June) [161] 2 wounded (13 June) [162] 3 wounded (14 June) [163] 10 wounded (20 June) [164] 16 wounded (21 June) [165] 9 wounded (22 June) [166] 22 wounded (27 June) [167] 6 wounded (28 June) [168] 9 wounded (29 June) [169] 5 wounded (30 June) [170] 5 wounded (7 July) [171] 31 wounded (11 July)[172]
  198. ^ [173] Archived 21 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine [174] Archived 8 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine [175] Archived 22 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine [176] Archived 23 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine [177] [178] Archived 23 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine [179] Archived 29 April 2022 at the Wayback Machine [180] Archived 23 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine [181] Archived 24 April 2022 at the Wayback Machine [182] Archived 15 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine [183] Archived 15 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine [184] Archived 16 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine [185] Archived 17 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine [186] Archived 21 May 2022 at the Wayback Machine [187] Archived 26 April 2022 at the Wayback Machine [188] Archived 29 April 2022 at the Wayback Machine[189] [190] [191] [192]
  199. ^ "600 injured in recent bombing of Azovstal steel plant, Mariupol mayor says". 29 April 2022. Archived from the original on 3 May 2022. Retrieved 23 May 2022.
  200. ^ "Обзор социально-гуманитарной ситуации, сложившейся на территории Донецкой Народной Республики вследствие военных действий в период с 09 по 15 июля 2022 г."
  201. ^ "Around World journal". 19 December 2019. Archived from the original on 28 April 2022. Retrieved 1 May 2022.[193] [194]
  202. ^ "Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 30". The Institute for the Study of War. 30 July 2022. Retrieved 31 July 2022.