ISW: Capture of Severodonetsk will not bring any significant benefit to the Russian Federation

Capturing Severodonetsk will allow Moscow to claim that it has completely taken over the Luhansk region, but it will give Russia no other significant military or economic benefit.

Source: American Institute for the Study of War (ISW)

Details: Severodonetsk is important to the Russians at this stage of the war, primarily because it is the last major settlement in the Lugansk region that is not controlled by the Russians.

They are paying a price for their current tactical success in the Donbas that does not correspond to any real benefit after taking the city. Moscow has drawn forces, equipment and materiel in all other directions to achieve this single goal. ISW notes that Moscow “carelessly spends combat power to take the city.”

It is noted that the Ukrainian military is suffering serious losses in the battle for Severodonetsk and faced the most serious challenge since the blockade of Azovstal in Mariupol, and may well suffer a serious tactical defeat in the coming days if Severodonetsk falls, although such an outcome is by no means guaranteed.

The capture of Severodonetsk can only help in conquering the rest of the Donetsk region if it gives the Russians momentum to build successive operations, but the battle for Severodonetsk will most likely prevent the continuation of large-scale Russian offensives.

The Russians have concentrated a much larger proportion of their offensive combat forces to the capture of Severodonetsk than the Ukrainians, forming a “gradient of attrition” generally in favor of Kyiv. The Ukrainians also continue to receive supplies and equipment from their allies, however slow and limited the flow may be.

The Russians, by contrast, continue to see clear signs that they are burning their existing reserves of manpower and equipment, and there is no reason to expect relief in the coming months. The Russian troops could not advance in any other direction for several weeks and for the most part did not even try to do so.

If Russian troops stuck on secondary axes lose their will to fight as the battle for Severodonetsk consumes most of Russia’s available resources, Ukraine could have a chance to launch serious counter-offensives with a good chance of success. This prospect is uncertain, and Ukraine may not be able to seize the opportunity, even if it does.

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