Institute for the Study of War: Russians control all of Sievierodonetsk except for the industrial area 

June 20, 2022

FULL ARTICLE

Ukrainian officials are emphasizing that the coming week will be decisive for Russian efforts to take control of Severodonetsk.[1] Deputy Ukrainian Defense Minister Hanna Malyar reported that Russian leadership has set June 26 as the deadline for Russian forces to reach the Luhansk Oblast administrative border, which will likely result in intensified efforts to take full control of Severodonetsk and move westward towards the Oblast border.[2] Head of the Luhansk Regional State Administration Serhiy Haidai reported that Russian forces control all of Severodonetsk except for the industrial zone as of June 20, which is the first explicit Ukrainian confirmation that Russian forces control all of Severodonetsk with the exception of the Azot plant.[3] Russian forces will likely continue efforts to clear the Azot plant and complete encirclement operations south of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk by driving up the T1302 Bakhmut-Lysychansk highway.

Russian authorities likely seek to leverage the consequences of Russia’s blockade on Ukrainian grain exports in order to cajole the West into weakening its sanctions. Head of state-owned propaganda outlet RT Margarita Simonyan stated on June 20 that the famine caused by Russia’s blockade on grain exports will force the rest of the world to lift sanctions in order to curb further effects of global famine.[4] Simonyan’s statement is especially salient considering a report by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office that Ukraine had generated 12% of global wheat and barley exports and that Russia’s blockade has trapped over 20 million tons of grain in storage.[5]

The UK Ministry of Defense claimed on June 20 that consistent failures of the Russian air force have significantly contributed to Russia’s limited success in Ukraine.[6] The UK MoD emphasized that the Russian air force has continually underperformed and been largely risk-averse, failing to establish air superiority or give Russian forces a decisive advantage in Ukraine. The report additionally claimed that training procedures for air force personnel are scripted and designed to impress senior officials but do not adequately prepare personnel for the challenges of active air combat.

Key Takeaways

  • Ukrainian sources stated that the coming week will be decisive for Russian forces to complete the capture of Severodonetsk and that Russian forces will focus troops and equipment on the area.

  • Ukrainian sources confirmed that Russian forces control all of Severodonetsk with the exception of the Azot industrial zone, where fights are ongoing.

  • Russian sources are likely setting information conditions to justify slow and unsuccessful advances towards Slovyansk from the southeast of Izyum and west of Lyman.

  • Russian forces are likely intensifying operations to interdict Ukrainian lines of communication along the T1302 Bakhmut-Lysychansk highway in order to support escalating operations in Severodonetsk-Lysychansk.

  • Russian forces continued to focus on resisting further Ukrainian advances north of Kharkiv City towards the international border.

  • Russian forces are continuing defensive operations along the Southern Axis.

  • Ukrainian partisan activity is continuing to complicate efforts by Russian occupation authorities to consolidate control of occupied areas.