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Vladimir Putin: The Ukraine war in maps: Russia advances slowly in Donetsk and Luhansk | International


April 21 | A new front opens

Russia’s offensive in the southeast of Ukraine has not significantly changed the front. According to the Institute of War Studies (ISW), Russian troops are concentrated in the cities of Popasna, Rubizhne and Severodonetsk. In Severodonetsk, which is home to 100,000 people, Russia says it has already captured several outlying suburbs.

The advance aims to reach at least the city of Kramatorsk, which is around 50 miles (80 kilometers) away. Capturing this city, south of Izium, would enable Moscow to unite the northern and southern parts of its front in the eastern area of Ukraine. Following the same logic, i.e. to take control of Donetsk and Luhansk in the Donbas region, Russian troops continue to attack Kharkiv and are moving from this city towards Izium.


Area recovered

by Ukraine

City controlled

by the Russians

Annexed by Russia

in 2014

Note: What does “control” mean? It requires exerting a physical influence over an area to prevent its use by the enemy. It could be achieved by occupying the area or by holding power over it with weapons. It does not imply any form of governance or legitimacy. Sources: Institute for the Study of War and American Enterprise Institute’s Critical Threats Project (for advances and areas under control); UK intelligence (besieged cities); EL PAÍS and other sources (fighting and airstrikes).

 

Area recovered by Ukraine

City controlled

by the Russians

Annexed by Russia

in 2014

Note: What does “control” mean? It requires exerting a physical influence over an area to prevent its use by the enemy. It could be achieved by occupying the area or by holding power over it with weapons. It does not imply any form of governance or legitimacy. Sources: Institute for the Study of War and American Enterprise Institute’s Critical Threats Project (for advances and areas under control); UK intelligence (besieged cities); EL PAÍS and other sources (fighting and airstrikes).

 

Area recovered by Ukraine

City controlled

by the Russians

Annexed by Russia

in 2014

Note: What does “control” mean? It requires exerting a physical influence over an area to prevent its use by the enemy. It could be achieved by occupying the area or by holding power over it with weapons. It does not imply any form of governance or legitimacy. Sources: Institute for the Study of War and American Enterprise Institute’s Critical Threats Project (for advances and areas under control); UK intelligence (besieged cities); EL PAÍS and other sources (fighting and airstrikes).

 

In the south, the Azostal steel plant has become the last bastion of Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol. After several days of negotiations, Russia has agreed to open a humanitarian corridor to allow the civilians who have been taking refuge there to leave the industrial complex. The ISW and British intelligence reports agree that the Kremlin will try to take control of Mariupol by May 9, which is a national holiday in Russia in honor of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in 1945.

In the Kherson region, on the border with the Crimea peninsula, which Putin annexed in 2014, Russia no longer appears to be mounting forces to reach Odessa – a change from the situation a few weeks ago. Most of the Kremlin’s soldiers are on the outskirts of the city of Kherson, which Ukraine is trying to recover.

April 19 | Rusia attacks Mariupol steel plant

Russian forces have begun a series of offensive operations in the east of Ukraine in a bid to take control of the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, in the Donbas region, according to the Institute of War Studies (IWS). For weeks, Russia’s forces in the east have been receiving reinforcements from the units that withdrew from Kyiv, the capital, as well as fresh new troops. The Kremlin on Monday launched land operations, supported by artillery fire, in towns such as Rubizhne and Popasna in Luhansk, and Marinka in Donetsk. This offensive indicates a change with respect to the situation of the past few weeks, when there was little movement from either side, with Russia limiting its attacks to the front line.


Area recovered

by Ukraine

City controlled

by the Russians

Annexed by Russia

in 2014

Note: What does “control” mean? It requires exerting a physical influence over an area to prevent its use by the enemy. It could be achieved by occupying the area or by holding power over it with weapons. It does not imply any form of governance or legitimacy. Sources: Institute for the Study of War and American Enterprise Institute’s Critical Threats Project (for advances and areas under control); UK intelligence (besieged cities); EL PAÍS and other sources (fighting and airstrikes).

 

Area recovered by Ukraine

City controlled

by the Russians

Annexed by Russia

in 2014

Note: What does “control” mean? It requires exerting a physical influence over an area to prevent its use by the enemy. It could be achieved by occupying the area or by holding power over it with weapons. It does not imply any form of governance or legitimacy. Sources: Institute for the Study of War and American Enterprise Institute’s Critical Threats Project (for advances and areas under control); UK intelligence (besieged cities); EL PAÍS and other sources (fighting and airstrikes).

 

Area recovered by Ukraine

City controlled

by the Russians

Annexed by Russia

in 2014

Note: What does “control” mean? It requires exerting a physical influence over an area to prevent its use by the enemy. It could be achieved by occupying the area or by holding power over it with weapons. It does not imply any form of governance or legitimacy. Sources: Institute for the Study of War and American Enterprise Institute’s Critical Threats Project (for advances and areas under control); UK intelligence (besieged cities); EL PAÍS and other sources (fighting and airstrikes).

 

Russian troops now almost completely control the port city of Mariupol, which has been besieged by Russia’s forces for more than 50 days. The Ukrainian resistance retains control of the Azovstal steel factory in the port of the city, Kremlin’s forces are working to take over this last stronghold. The factory was heavily bombed by Russian troops on Monday, but despite this, they were not able to advance, according to the ISW. The steel plant is the last bastion that Russia needs to defeat in order to control the city, which was home to 430,000 people before the invasion.

The Azovstal steel plant is the last line of Ukraine’s defense against Russia’s efforts to unify a corridor between the Crimea peninsula and the east of Ukraine. The Ukrainian army shared images of its troops carrying out counterattacks near the plant, although the ISW believes that Russia’s forces will soon defeat the defenders near the factory.

The invading forces in Mariupol are being supported by pro-Russian militias from the Donbas region, which have already begun to attack the steel plant. The militia spokesperson of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, Eduard Basurin, said: “Some assault groups, specially selected for this mission, have already begun their work, and we are being assisted by the Russian Federation with its aviation and artillery.” According to Basurin, who was interviewed by Russian public television, pro-Russian forces now control all residential neighborhoods of Mariupol.

While there is low morale among Russian fighters, Kremlin’s forces greatly outnumber those of Ukraine, and simply concentrating them in Donbas could be enough to defeat Ukraine’s troops in the east of the country. The ISW, however, believes that Russia will pay a high price for this move given that Moscow has not taken any operative pause following the failure of its offensive in the north of Ukraine.

April 17 | The war intensifies in the east

In the past few hours, Russia launched airstrikes on the cities of Kyiv, Lviv and Kharkiv. This was perhaps in retaliation for the sinking of the Russian ship Moskva or as a reminder that Putin can attack these cities from long range, even if the Kremlin’s troops have withdrawn from the west.

The Russian invasion continued to be concentrated in the east of Ukraine. Moscow has four main goals: to occupy Severodonetsk and Rubizhne in the Luhansk area, advance from Izyum in the north towards Donetsk; control Mariupol and defend their positions in Kherson, in the south.

In Luhansk and Donetsk, the fronts have not moved for days. According to The New York Times, Russia has around 40 battalions in the east – up to 40,000 troops. What’s more, it could reinforce its numbers with some of the 40,000 soldiers who have been withdrawn from the north of Ukraine. Before the invasion, it was estimated that Ukraine had around 30,000 troops in the east, but it is difficult to estimate the size of the army, which may have received reinforcements.

According to UK intelligence reports, Russia was continuing to strike Ukrainian positions along the east of the country and was “planning on renewing its offensive activity.”

Satellite image of the Azovstal steel plant taken on April 9.
Satellite image of the Azovstal steel plant taken on April 9. MAXAR TECHNOLOGIES (via REUTERS)

Meanwhile, Mariupol appeared close to falling to the Russians. On Saturday, the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskiy admitted that the defending forces only controlled a small part of the city, in the port, and the Azovstal steel plant.

In the area surrounding Kherson, Russian forces were not able to make any advances, according to the ISW. In the last few days, Russia has been attacking Ukraine’s positions in the west of the city. It also bombed the city of Mykolaiv, near the Black Sea, but these offensives, it gained no new territory.



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