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Russia has started to gain the upper hand in the contested eastern regions of Ukraine after failing to achieve earlier, more significant targets over the previous 100 days.
“Joint efforts of the Russian Ministry of Defense and Russian Railways have created conditions for the resumption of full-fledged traffic between Russia, Donbass, Ukraine and Crimea on six railway sections,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a Telegram post on Tuesday.
The battle over the town of Sieverodonetsk has continued to intensify over the past few days, with both Ukraine and Russia claiming at various points to have made gains in the city. The picture in certain pockets remains uncertain, but it grows increasingly clear that Russia has started to gain the advantage in the broader eastern region.
Russia initially controlled small parts of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, but after shifting targets to the rebel states, Putin has found his troops gaining the initiative.
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Wednesday’s update from the British Ministry of Defense noted that Ukrainian forces have recently achieved “some success” in the Kherson region, but that both sides have faced “similar challenges” in maintaining a defensive line while “freeing up capable combat units for offensive operations.”
That may sound like good news for Kyiv, but it follows Moscow making serious gains over the past weeks. Russia claimed to have control over 97% of the Donbas region, and some analysts have projected that Russian forces could take full control within the next two weeks.
But Russia’s gains come at a great cost of sustained manpower and equipment at levels that would take some considerable time to complete.
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The Institute for the Study of War last week called the Russian progress “costly,” according to Newsweek.
The weekend proved significant for the Ukrainian forces, though, as their counterattacks have also led some analysts to suggest that Russia’s combat power is declining.
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Russia has attempted to stall any decline with a naval blockade to continue cutting off supply routes into the south and the east.
Russian forces have also bombarded key supply routes from Bakhmut to Lycychansk, which could leave Sieverodonetsk with only one supply road via Siversk, according to the BBC.