Russian forces in northern Ukraine appear to have experienced some setbacks, particularly in the region between Sumy and Kyiv. As seen on the map below, on 25-26 February, Russian forces were occupying a continuous stretch of territory, 30-40 miles deep in some places. However, in a series of counterattacks and ambushes, Ukrainian military units and popular militias broke contact between Russian forces along the Mena-Shostka direction, and forced open a wedge between Russian groups, all the way to the international border. Ukrainian forces also broke the encirclements of Konotop and Sumy, though Konotop was once again surrounded. Chernihiv, Sumy, and Kharkiv continue to thwart attempts at encirclement, though Russian forces have expanded their control of the territory between Sumy and Kharkiv.
In the east, Russian forces have gradually expanded control of the oblasts [provinces] of Luhansk and Donetsk, though the Luhansk and Donetsk separatist militias appear to have been of little assistance in this area, other than holding the territory they already occupy and holding the attention of Ukrainian government forces opposite them.
In the south, Russian forces advancing out of Crimea have made the most steady progress. Russian forces are now outside of, or have entered, Mykolaiv, a port which well-known for its naval-building shipyards. Russian units are in the process of securing the southern bank of the Dnepr River, between Nova Kakhovka and Zaporizhzhia, which forms a water course that is 8-10 miles wide in places. Russian spearheads have advanced eastwards toward the towns of Orikhiv and Poholy, as well as along the coast toward Berdyansk. A Ukrainian-controlled salient separates these two efforts. Russian-controlled Melitopol is located at the western end of this salient. Russian forces in Berdyansk will likely link up with those advancing west from Mariupol, in the coming days, while those from Poholy will continue towards Donetsk; the junction of forces in this area north of the Sea of Azov will allow the Russian military to consolidate its forces in the south and regroup for the next effort.
Blog Editor Patrick Cloutier is the author of Mussolini’s War in the East 1941-1943.