ISW analyzes capabilities of Russian military to conduct offensive against Kharkiv

ISW analyzes capabilities of Russian military to conduct offensive against Kharkiv

The threat of a possible Russian offensive operation against Kharkiv is causing Ukraine to allocate additional forces and equipment to defending the city, although the Russian military lacks the forces necessary to seize the city.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said this in its latest report, according to Ukrinform.

ISW experts said referring to Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Oleksandr Syrskyi that Ukrainian forces are monitoring the increased number of Russian forces regrouping in the Kharkiv direction, likely referring to Belgorod region, and that Ukrainian forces have reinforced defensive positions in the "most threatened" areas with additional artillery and tank units.

“Syrskyi‘s statement provides no indication about the imminence of the possible Russian offensive operation against Kharkiv City about which Ukrainian officials have recently warned,” the report says.

Read also: War update: 131 combat clashes as Ukraine repels 55 Russian assaults on Avdiivka axis alone

Ukrainian military observer Kostyantyn Mashovets recently stated that Russian forces are regrouping elements of the 11th Army Corps (AC) and 6th Combined Arms Army (CAA) from the Kupyansk direction into Russia's newly-formed Northern Grouping of Forces. Elements of the 6th CAA have previously had exclusive responsibility for offensive operations northeast of Kupyansk, particularly near Synkivka.

According to Syrskyi, Ukrainian forces have recently improved their positions near Synkivka and a Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces retreated a short distance from Synkivka due to manpower shortages in the area, suggesting that Russian forces have likely pulled at least some elements of the 6th CAA from the area.

ISW noted that Russia’s inability to seize Synkivka despite repeated mass infantry and mechanized assaults over a months-long offensive effort calls into question their combat effectiveness and the combat effectiveness of the 6th CAA and Northern Grouping of Forces more broadly.

“ISW continues to assess that a potential future Russian offensive to seize Kharkiv City would be an extremely ambitious undertaking that would pose significant challenges to Russian forces, particularly since Russian forces will be facing better-equipped Ukrainian forces following the arrival of US military assistance,” the report says.

ISW doesn’t rule out that the Russian military may intend for the threat of a Russian offensive on Kharkiv City to stretch Ukrainian forces across a wider frontline in eastern Ukraine ahead of the start of the Russian summer offensive effort.

As to other sectors, ISW believes that recent Russian gains northwest of Avdiivka have prompted Ukrainian forces to withdraw from other limited tactical positions along the frontline west of Avdiivka, although these withdrawals have yet to facilitate rapid Russian tactical gains. “Russian forces remain unlikely to achieve a deeper operationally significant penetration in the area in the near term,” the report says.

As reported, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Oleksandr Syrskyi said that the situation on the battlefield in Ukraine escalated, as heavy fighting continued across all front lines.

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