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Haidai also stressed the need to get more Western arms in order to outmatch Russia’s firepower.

Meanwhile, according to Ukraine Armed Forces (UAF) reports, Russia is increasingly and indiscriminately shelling cities and villages in Donetsk Region, particularly areas around Slovyansk, as well as civilian infrastructure facilities and the Lysychansk-Bakhmut highway. Such tactics were observed at the end of the first phase of the war when Russian troops were retreating from Kyiv.

The current frontline developments and the Russian political and military leadership’s latest statements suggest the completion of the second phase. Now, the continuing missile strikes are supposed to keep Kyiv on tenterhooks while Russian forces regroup and gear up for new offensive operations in the Donbas.

Putin told Shoigu that after the Lysychansk campaign the troops needed “time to have a rest and replenish their potential.”

In pursuit of Putin’s “plan” the Russian army continues to rely on its time-tested scorched-earth tactics in reverse, which were also used to capture Severodonetsk. Russian troops entered the city after it was totally destroyed.

Two top-rank Russian commanders are known to have led the Lysychansk offensive. According to the U.S.-based think tank Institute for the Study of War, Putin entrusted the mission to Col.-Gen. Alexander Lapin, commander of the Central Military District, and Army Gen. Sergei Suvorykin, commander of Russia’s Aerospace Force.

This likely means that in prioritizing the Luhansk operation he does not trust lower-ranking officers.