08:45 13 May 2022

Occupiers may refuse attempts to surround Ukrainian army along Izium-Sloviansk-Debaltseve line, ISW reports

The russian occupiers may abandon attempts to surround Ukrainian troops along the Izium-Sloviansk-Debaltseve line because of unsuccessful attempts to attack. The remaining forces will be deployed to achieve at least some success in the direction of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk.

This is evidenced by data from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

As of May 12, russian troops are likely to control almost all of Rubizhne and the city of Voievodovka north of Sievierodonetsk. Most likely, in the coming days, the invaders will try to launch a ground offensive on Sievierodonetsk or its environs.

The relative success of russian troops near Sieverodonetsk, combined with their failed attempts to advance from Izium and the marked decline in attack power, suggests that russia may be abandoning the Izium Axis.

The ISW adds that data on the advance of russian troops in Popasna to the north, towards Sievierodonetsk-Lysychansk, and not east to the Sloviansk-Debaltseve highway, confirm this hypothesis.

"It is unclear if russian forces can encircle, let alone capture, Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk even if they focus their efforts on that much-reduced objective. russian offensives have bogged down every time they hit a built-up area throughout this war, and these areas are unlikely to be different. 

Continued and expanding reports of demoralization and refusals to fight among russian units suggest that the effective combat power of russian troops in the east continues to be low and may drop further. If the russians abandon efforts to advance from Izium, moreover, Ukrainian forces would be able to concentrate their efforts on defending Sievierodonetsk-Lysychansk or, in the worst case, breaking a russian encirclement before those settlements fall.

The Ukrainian counteroffensive around Kharkiv is also forcing the Russian command to make hard choices, as it was likely intended to do.  The UK Ministry of Defense reports that Russian forces pulled back from Kharkiv have been sent toward Rubizhne and Severodonetsk but at the cost of ceding ground in Kharkiv from which the Russians had been shelling the city," the statement said.

At the same time, it is stated that russian troops are strengthening their positions on Zmiinyi Island, trying to block Ukrainian maritime communications and opportunities in the northwestern part of the Black Sea on the outskirts of Odesa.

russia's main efforts, ISW notes, are currently focused on eastern Ukraine.

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