Russia appears to be using tactics that mimic what worked for them in Mariupol: surrounding a city with ground troops, cutting off Ukrainian forces’ ability to get reinforcements (or food, water, and fuel), then relentlessly pounding Ukrainian positions with artillery, rocket fire, and airstrikes, progressively shrinking the ring around the city.
Eventually, Russian troops move in with infantry and armor to strike the defenders when they are at their weakest, capturing the city. The pattern has proven effective and is presently being reprised in numerous Ukrainian strongholds in the Donbas. Russia’s strategy in the Donbas is coming into sharper relief with the capture of each major town, and it doesn’t bode well for Kyiv.
There is a pocket-forming around the Ukrainian troops in the northern shoulder of the Donbas. Russia is seeking to surround the UAF troops in this pocket by saturating key Ukrainian strongholds with heavy bombardment, attempting to peel off more cities on the outside of the pocket, progressively forcing UAF defenders either further west – or trapping them in the pocket and then destroying them by fire and later ground troops.