Ukraine’s cities are reeling, Western powers face a serious dilemma

Lyschansk: Now that Russia is about to close the lock Severodonetsk – Crucial city for your goal to capture Eastern Ukraine– and that Kremlin Since he is already observing this neighboring city, the question of the impact of the situation on the battlefield on the next stage of the conflict is becoming more urgent for Ukraine’s western allies.

“The Russians are leaving everything to isolate Sievierodonetsk,” he said yesterday on Telegram. Regional Governor Serhi Heidi. The next two or three days will be crucial.”

From LyschanskOn the other side of the river, Ukrainian forces resist the Russian attack with the advantage the terrain gives them, but with fewer and fewer weapons to defend.

A man walks through the yard of a house damaged after a bombing killed two people in the city of Lyschansk in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine, on June 13, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.Aris Messines – Agence France-Presse

“If more help from military equipment does not arrive, we will be expelled, there is no doubt about it,” says Oleksandr Voronenko, 46, a military policeman stationed in Lyschansk. Every day we see destroyed equipment and weapons, and we have to replace them with something. “

I have always appealed to the Ukrainian authorities NATO allies That speeds up the shipment of long-range weapons and even the most basic supplies like ammunition.

But with the scale of the war turning more firmly in Russia’s favour, Ukraine’s allies – whose economies are at risk and their resolve tested – may soon be forced to answer questions much deeper than arms provision, such as deciding whether to pressure the kyiv into sitting down peace talks with Moscow or risk More aggressive military escalation by Russia.

“It has always been known that when the center of gravity of war shifts from the south to the east, the Russians will have a much better chance of occupying territory, given the number of their forces and previous territorial acquisitions,” says Ian. Lesser, former US official. He heads the headquarters of the German Marshall Fund in Brussels. “But there are also more serious and long-standing questions about the nature of the conflict, the aspirations of Ukraine and the aspirations of the West in relation to that,” he adds.

While they wait, in Donbass regionIn which the battle of Sievierodonetsk is taking place, the Ukrainians suffer heavy losses: according to their own estimates, the number of victims of Ukraine is 100-200 per day. And the bloodbath goes from bad to worse, in part because of the Ukrainians’ determination to fight to the bitter end, despite the bleak picture in the east.

A picture of a house completely destroyed after a bombing in the city of Lysichansk in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine, on June 13, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
A picture of a house completely destroyed after a bombing in the city of Lysichansk in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine, on June 13, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.Aris Messines – Agence France-Presse

Supplies from the West that have reached the front lines are neither as generous nor as sophisticated as Ukraine would like, and other supplies do not arrive directly on the battlefield: they are destroyed by Russian fire before they can be used.

The Ukrainian government sent reinforcements and resources to prevent the fall of Sievierodonetsk, an industrial city of strategic importance and the last major urban center on the territory of Ukraine. Lugansk. The district governor said Russian forces blew up two bridges leading into the city center, and bombed the only remaining bridge, an important supply line for Ukrainian forces.

The battle is about to move to the sister city: Lyschansk. From the top of one of its hills, it seems clear that this city, which will soon be targeted by the Russian attack, is easier to defend than other parts of Donbass: it is located on high ground. The vast plains of the region are rich in natural resources, but elevation in them is rare.

In this sense, the Ukrainian defenders have an advantage. But the defense of this city, which before the war had a population of about 100 thousand, is impossible without the supplies to supply the Ukrainian tanks and artillery with shells, or without food and supplies to feed and equip the troops.

For Europeans, the question of how to defend Ukraine is already as much tactical as it is political, and problematic closer to home. Several European Union countries, for example, are concerned that they have sent Ukraine too much of their own ammunition and left their stocks unreplenished. Since the bloc’s foreign policy and defense are not complementary, each leader has to purchase his own military supplies.

European Union officials say they will seek to use a $9.5 billion financing pool to jointly purchase military equipment, to allay doubts about Ukraine’s military support for fear of seriously weakening the defense capabilities of other parts of Europe.

The bloc also faces another wide-ranging and politically tense decision: whether to go ahead with Ukraine’s bid to join the European Union, a decision that could strengthen Zelensky internally and perhaps give him more political space to negotiate a ceasefire, but which could also cement Russia. The same on Ukrainian soil, or even worse.

Translated by Jaime Arambaid

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