A senior US defense official said that Russian forces have lost about 1,000 tanks in Ukraine so far

This video, released by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, shows the devastating impact of Russian TOS-1A rocket-propelled grenades that hit Ukrainian positions near Novomykhailivka in the Donetsk region on May 26 (Ukrainian Armed Forces/Cover Images/Reuters)

Ukrainian officials have said that Russian forces are using a wide range of weapons across several fronts in eastern Ukraine in an attempt to break down stubborn Ukrainian defenses, which are outnumbered.

Several of these officials describe the situation as “extremely difficult” and acknowledge that Ukrainian units may have to retreat in some places.

Ukrainian officials say that in recent days the Russians have combined short-range ballistic missiles, multiple launch missile systems, heavy artillery and tanks in a ruthless bombardment of towns and cities in the still-Ukrainian-controlled Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

Ukraine’s national police said civilians were killed in attacks on 13 settlements in Donetsk, with several previously not targeted towns affected. Russian forces appear to be expanding the number of towns they bomb as they try to destroy Ukrainian defenses and supply lines.

Their main objective appears to be the capture of Sloviansk, which has seen an increase in bombing in recent days. Mayor Vadim Lyach said that half of the city is now without water, and there will be no “gas supply until the heating season”.

An increasing number of Ukrainian officials describe the military situation in harrowing terms, even though Russian progress on the ground has been modest.

Fedir Venislavsky, a member of the Verkhovna Rada and a member of the National Security Committee, described the situation as “difficult”.

“The hottest places are Severodonetsk and Lesichansk. The enemy is trying to encircle our forces,” he told Ukrainian television.

The twin cities of Luhansk were almost completely destroyed, but Ukrainian troops still existed. It is estimated that approximately 15,000 civilians are still present in Severodonetsk.

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According to the latest assessment of the Institute for the Study of War in the Battlefield, “Russian forces may need to launch a ground offensive on Severodonetsk in the coming days to maintain their pace after sending a significant part of personnel, artillery, aviation and logistics to the front.”

Venislavskyi said that if the Russians could break the Ukrainian resistance there, their “next targets would be Bakhmut, Soledar” the westernmost towns.

In particular, regional officials say the highway linking Bakhmut and Lyseshansk – the route to resupply Ukrainian forces – is under constant attack.

“The enemy partially takes control of Lyman and goes to the outskirts of Severodonetsk. The situation in this area of ​​operations will be very difficult in the coming days,” he said.

He also noted that additional Russian forces are being sent, saying that “the enemy continues to accumulate reserves near Izyum to attack Sloviansk and Parvenkov.”

“The enemy is sending units from Primorsky Krai, the Far East and Siberia to Ukraine. Battalion groups are formed, loaded on the railways and sent to Ukraine,” Venislavsky said.

A building damaged in a missile attack in the city of Kramatorsk, Donetsk region, Ukraine, on May 26.
A building damaged in a missile attack in the city of Kramatorsk, Donetsk region, Ukraine, on May 26 (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

“The armed forces are defending for the fourth month now. Our defensive positions are being destroyed by the enemy every day,” said Serhiy Heyday, head of the Luhansk Regional Military Administration.

“The Luhansk region, the part under the control of Ukraine, is very small in terms of area. Therefore, the Russians will do their best to capture it. For them, this is the easiest way to achieve at least some intermediate victory. Our forces are gradually moving to more fortified positions,” he added.

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Hayday is one of several Ukrainian officials who assert that the defenses in the east are vastly outnumbered.

“You have to understand that a huge amount of equipment and people are fighting against us,” he said.

“It takes time [Western] Weapons to reach us. They must pass from west to east of Ukraine. One or two howitzers will not change the location; We will simply lose them. So, we need to wait and regroup.”

He also acknowledged the possibility that Ukrainian forces would retreat.

“Maybe we have to leave two more settlements. But we need to win the war, not the battle,” Haiday said.

Rostislav Smirnov, an advisor to Ukraine’s Interior Minister, told Ukrainian television that “the advantage of the Russians in [terms of] Eight to one, “the advantage in the equipment is more than double that.

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