The Oskil River, which runs from north to south from Russia all the way to the Donets River in eastern Ukraine, is a natural defensive barrier.
So it made sense that when dozens of eager Ukrainian brigades broke through fragile Russian lines outside the free city of Kharkiv in the first week of September, the Russians retreated 30 miles east across the river.
If the Russian army had not been exhausted from seven months of fighting against a more creative and determined enemy – and if the Kremlin had not attacked units in the east in order to strengthen the south, it launched a second Ukrainian counterattack also In action – Oskeel’s line of defense may be holding up.
you did not. A major Russian supply center is now in peril farther to the south: the town of Lyman.
After crossing Oskil, the Ukrainians continued to push. Today, they have no fewer than five bridges on the east side of the river.
Yes, the Kremlin has announced nationwide mobilization, and is chaotically conscripting a potentially 300,000-man military service. No, these conscripts will not arrive in time – or, under utter lack of training, under any circumstances – to save the Russian position east of Oskil.
This has huge ramifications for Russia’s control of the northern part of Luhansk Oblast, which since 2014 has been under the control of pro-Russian separatists – and which is now subject to a bogus “referendum” aimed at making the territory formally part of Russia.
Ukrainians move through eastern Ukraine. Three axes of their counterattack are preparing to encircle and isolate the Russian garrison at Lyman, a major railway center through which much of the supplies for the Russian army pass in the east.
Russian forces east of Kharkiv are now retreating to A the new A defensive line connecting a valley running from the town of Svatov in the north to Kremena in the south, 25 miles away. The valley, surrounded on both sides by high ground, is not exactly a strong position for any defenders.
The Russian air force in recent days has increased the rate of its sorties in the east in a desperate attempt to rescue the beleaguered Russian ground forces, but heavy Ukrainian air defenses have reduced the impact of these air operations. On Saturday alone, the Ukrainians shot down four Russian planes.
The most likely question now is not whether The Ukrainians captured Lyman, but when. Separate Ukrainian forces flow north through the Donets River from positions east of Lyman, north through the same river from positions west of Lyman and east through Oskil from positions north of Lyman.
The northern maneuver may be the most disastrous for the Russians, since it is wide enough to isolate several battalions with thousands of troops. or even more Troops if the Kremlin manages to push reinforcements into the region.
Mike Martin, a fellow in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, is betting on the latter. “Liman is like the old bait and switch,” is chirp. “Command the flanks north and east of the Lyman causing the Russians to reinforce this important railway junction. Then make a much larger encirclement movement to detain the whole group.”