Head of Regional Security and Conflict Studies at the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation, Research Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science
Source: Maria Zolkina’s Twitter
Sievierodonetsk is no more. Our soldiers started leaving the city in an orderly manner. It is no longer possible to hold and effectively fight there. 121 days of incredible and professional defense despite the quantity and the superiority of the enemy. What else is there to know?
The Army of Russia can proceed forward only by completely devastating the areas it captures. This tactic is as simple as “scorched earth”. They are unable to prevail in terms of tactics and planning. That is why less numerous units of the Ukrainian Armed Forces withstood the so-called “2d army” for more than 4 months.
Ukraine has three main goals: keep the land, keep the army, and exhaust Russia’s army up to a maximum. Over the last few weeks, the Battle for Sievierodonetsk had become more and more about exhausting the skilled human resources Russia possesses. And now it is about saving the Ukrainian army units, who are our main resource.
Now the battle will move to a sister city of Lysychansk. Positions there are incomparably better for Ukraine, as the city is on the hill. New weapons shipments can make this battle different from one for Sievierodonetsk.
Sievierodonetsk is an example of just how much timely weapons supply matters. Earlier supply of heavy artillery could have significantly changed this 4-months battle. In any case, the skill of the Ukrainian Armed Forces was yet again proven to be superior to that of the Russians.
Sievierodonetsk will be treated by Russian propaganda as a big victory, of course. But for Ukraine, it is just one more example of heroism and skill. Sometimes, you must make a step back to save the army. Especially, if the city was turned to rubble by heavy Russian bombardments.
Another signal: the logic of military decision-making prevails over the political mindset. Just like Russia manages its forces, Ukrainian authorities could have done the same and forced the army to hold its ground at any cost. And it is good that we cherish the lives of our soldiers more.
Ukraine needs to accumulate more weapons, preserve its military units, and plan its counteractions based on these two key assets.