Fierce battles for control of Donbas’ strategic Severodonetsk-Bakhmut road were still raging on Thursday, with heavy Russian Federation (RF) artillery bombardments landing at multiple locations along its length, and renewed RF ground attacks nearby, news and official reports said on Thursday.

Ukraine’s Army General Staff (AGS) in a May 26 morning situation report said that dozens of RF artillery and rocket artillery strikes hit both the road – critical for Ukraine Armed Forces (UAF) supply to the Ukrainian defenses in the city Severodonetsk.

According to both Kremlin statements and Ukrainian military intelligence estimates, the bastion towns Severodonetsk and Lysychansk are the main objectives for an RF offensive kicked off by the RF in late April. The Bakhmut road is one of only two routes the UAF has to supply troops in the two cities.


A smaller, gravelled road between Severodonetsk and Bakhmut, running through the town of Siviersk, is still open to vehicle traffic, but now also under fire from RF artillery at some locations, the pro Russia-Readovka news platform reported on May 26.

According to Readovka and other RF state-controlled media, supply to UAF units defending Severodonetsk, Lysychansk and surrounding towns and villages was hanging on a thread.

Independent Ukrainian journalist Yurii Butusov in a late May 25 report filed from Severodonetsk said RF artillery strikes were heavy but that RF ground attacks were “extremely slow”, due to strong UAF resistance.

RF patrols that physically reached the Bakhmuta-Severodonetsk road on the morning of the 25th were destroyed or forced to retreat by UAF attacks in the afternoon, he said.

The Ukrainian logistics hub in Bakhmut appeared on Thursday to be facing a new, second threat, from an RF push north-west from the recently-captured town of Svitlodarsk.

Butusov said elements of the RF 76th Airborne Division were leading the attack and that UAF defenses, though holding, were unable to prevent RF units from moving freely and concentrating where wished.


The AGS situation estimate said UAF units were under pressure at several locations but holding their ground, and claimed RF ground attacks were repelled with losses. The estimate said the attacks hit Severodonetsk, surrounding suburbs, and further to the south the towns Krasnohorodika, Kaminka, Avdievka, and Piski.

The AGS report claimed UAF forces on Wednesday likewise fought off RF attacks against the town Lyman, to the north of Severodonetsk. However, Twitter feeds on Thursday purportedly recorded by Ukrainian troops, showed UAF units retreating from the town.

According to a May 26 article in the Ukrainian magazine Defense Express, RF forces in recent weeks have switched tactics away from attacks by massive armored columns attempting a blitzkrieg-style breakthrough of Ukrainian lines, to slower, more methodical attacks using massed artillery to break UAF defenses.

The RF high command has to back up its attack against Severodonetsk concentrated six divisions of artillery – between 150 and 300 heavy guns – the article said. Reportedly, last week a train of 13 rail cars loaded with hundreds of tons of shells and artillery rockets arrived in the railhead town of Sviatove, as ammunition for the RF bombardments.

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