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War in Ukraine: Is Russia Stalling Out? by Bridget Ryder

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War in Ukraine: Is Russia Stalling Out?

The British Defence Ministry estimates that Russian forces are stalling out in Ukraine due to lack of personnel and supplies. Ukraine has also announced that it is preparing a counter attack in the south of the country.

In the two weeks since the last significant Russian victory—the capture of the city of Lysychansk, the final remaining Ukrainian stronghold in the Luhansk region—Ukraine has maintained a foothold in two villages in Luhansk and held off further Russian advances. It also boasts that it has prevented Russian forces from advancing deeper into the Donetsk region, according to Reuters. 

Luhansk, where the last Russian victory took place, is one region of the Donbas: the industrial heart of eastern Ukraine and the most heavily contested area since the start of the war. Russia has firmly stated its intention to gain complete control of the region and put the weight of its invasion there. Meanwhile, Ukraine has placed its most advanced troops in Donbas. 

Reuters also reports that Britain’s Ministry of Defence, supportive of Kyiv, said last Thursday that it believed Russian forces weren’t advancing swiftly because of personnel shortages.

“While Russia may still make further territorial gains, their operational tempo and rate of advance is likely to be very slow without a significant operational pause for reorganisation and refit,” the British ministry said.

Russia also seems to be serious about Ukraine’s planned counterattack in the south. 

The AP reports that the British Ministry of Defence said Sunday that Russia is moving troops and equipment between Kherson, Mariupol, and Zaporizhzhya, and increasing security measures around Melitopol.

Defending those cities will only increase the strain on Russian troops, as commanders will have to make tough decisions about how to further spread already thin forces.

“Given the pressures on Russian manpower, the reinforcement of the south whilst the fight for the Donbas continues indicates the seriousness with which Russian commanders view the threat,” the ministry explained

At the same time, Russia is increasing its missile strikes on cities throughout the country.

Reuters reports that on July 19th, Russian missiles slammed into targets across Ukraine, killing at least two civilians and destroying multiple homes, according to Ukrainian officials.

Ukraine continues to accuse Russia of aiming at civilian targets, and Russia continues to denounce the claims as false. 

Much of the shelling has been in the south, targeting cities including Odessa and Mykolaiv near the coast, areas Russia has also stated it intends to put under its flag to control the Black Sea. This would create a Russian-held connection from Crimea to Moldova and the Transnistria region, where Russia also has a military base. 

Despite Russia’s bold claims and doomsdays threats—should Ukraine mount a counter offensive—Ukraine is showing that it believes Russia has exhausted its potential to advance, and that the war could be at a turning point. 

Bridget Ryder is Spain-based writer. She has written on politics, environment, and culture for American and international publications. She holds degrees in Spanish and Catholic Studies.