One hundred days have passed since the beginning of Russia’s armed invasion of Ukraine. The official goal of the Kremlin is to conquer the entire Donbass. The most difficult situation is currently in Severodonetsk in the Luhansk region.
Tough fighting has been going on for this city since last week. Russian troops, backed by heavy artillery, currently control about 70-80 percent Swiewierodoniecka. Taking over the city would give Russia de facto control of the Luhansk Oblast, one of the two regions that make up Donbass, the industrial heart of Ukraine.
The progressive loss of position in the Luhansk Oblast and the bordering part of the Donetsk Oblast and, above all, the course of the fights for Severodonetsk testify to the growing exhaustion of the defenders, analysts at the Warsaw Center for Eastern Studies believe. They also recall that some Ukrainian units were in the Donbas even before February 24 and constantly take part in clashes with the aggressor.
On February 24, Russian troops crossed the borders of Ukraine from the east and south, and from the north from the territory of Belarus. Ukraine was also attacked from the part of Donbas, which had been occupied by Russia since 2014 and controlled by Moscow-dependent separatists.
After withdrawing from the Kiev area and northern Ukraine in March, Russian forces focused on the Donbas in the eastern part of the country. Russian troops finally took control of Mariupol in the Donetsk region in mid-May when the last Ukrainian defenders surrendered after fierce resistance. The Russians secured a land bridge between Donbass and Crimea, which will be difficult for Ukrainians to liberate, and for Russians to pacify as well.
The heavy fighting in the eastern regions of Ukraine, where Russia can more easily supply its troops, is taking its toll on the Ukrainian forces. The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, announced that between 60 and 100 Ukrainian soldiers could be killed every day. However, the authorities of this country very rarely comment on losses among their own armed forces. Various sources estimate that from several to several thousand Ukrainian soldiers may have died.
According to British estimates, Russia probably lost around 14,000-15,000 soldiers. The Pentagon, in turn, estimated the Russian losses at nearly 1,000 tanks and over 350 artillery systems.
The front line now stretches for over 1,000 kilometers, and almost 125,000 square meters, or one fifth of Ukraine, is under the control of the occupiers, Zelenskiy informed. The president added that some three thousand square meters of the country were contaminated with mines and unexploded bombs.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reported that 4,113 civilians, including 262 children, have been killed and 4,916 injured since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine. The victims mainly come from the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts: 2,337 killed and 2,808 wounded. Most of them died as a result of rocket and heavy artillery fire. The real death toll is probably much higher, and could even reach 27,000 if the estimates of the victims from Mariupol are correct.
Since the beginning of the invasion, over 6.8 million refugees have fled from Ukraine: 3.6 million to Poland, 990,000 to Romania, 680,000 to Hungary, 480,000 to Moldova and 460,000 to Slovakia – the UN said on Sunday. Among the countries not bordering with Ukraine, the largest number of refugees was taken by Germany (over 710,000), the Czech Republic (360,000) and Bulgaria (270,000). Most of the refugees are women, children and the elderly. Another 8 million people were displaced to the territory of Ukraine.
As fighting is now largely limited in the east, more than a million Ukrainian refugees have already returned home. More than 5 million remain abroad, representing the largest displacement crisis of the 21st century.
The Russians engaged nearly 170,000 members of military personnel in the war, of which about 100,000 soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and the so-called militia of people’s separatists and several thousand soldiers of the Rosguard. According to the Ukrainian side, the number of defenders amounts to a total of 450,000 soldiers of all formations, including the Territorial Defense and the National Guard.
Documented Russian war crimes in Ukraine include mass killings, torture, rape, looting, attacks on civilian targets such as housing estates, schools, hospitals and humanitarian corridors, and the use of ammunition prohibited by the Geneva Convention, such as cluster bombs.
In addition, approximately 1.4 million Ukrainians, including 232,000 children, have been deported to the Russian Federation since the beginning of the aggression. After staying in filter camps established in the occupied territories, these people are gradually transported deep into Russia.
Main photo source: PAP / EPA / STR