09:25 26 May 2024

Likely premature start of Russian offensive undermine Russian success in Kharkiv region — ISW

Фото: Фейсбук / Генштаб ЗСУ

The premature start of Russian offensive operations undermined the Russian Federation's success in the north of the Kharkiv region, and as a result, the offensive has become a failure.

This is the opinion of the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), Rubryka writes.

American analysts have studied data from which it follows that Russian troops began their offensive operation in the north of the Kharkiv region with limited forces and have not yet transferred significant reserves there.

This led to a decrease in the pace of Russian advance and offensive operations.

"This decreasing tempo is likely presenting Ukrainian forces with tactical opportunities to counterattack, although Ukrainian forces are not yet conducting a limited counteroffensive operation that aims to push Russian forces completely out of the northern Kharkiv region," experts noted in the report.

Russian troops are probably trying to bring the number of the Northern group to the planned final level before intensifying offensive operations in the north of the Kharkiv region. Such plans of the military command of the Russian Federation are evidenced by:

  • the disparity of Russian units currently operating in the north of the Kharkiv region,
  • the obvious indecision of the Russian military regarding the involvement of available reserves in hostilities.

According to reports, about 35,000 Northern Group of Forces troops were in the border area when the offensive operations started on May 10, while Ukrainian sources indicated that the Russian military intended to concentrate 50,000 to 70,000 troops in the area.

American experts also suggest that Russian troops probably launched an offensive operation in the north of the Kharkiv region earlier than planned:

  • using insufficient personnel,
  • hoping to gain a foothold before the arrival of military aid from the United States of America made the task even more difficult.

As indicated in the ISW review, the premature start of Russian offensive operations likely undermined Russian success in the north of the Kharkiv region.

Russian forces reportedly managed to catch Ukrainian forces off guard on May 10 and achieve significant tactical gains in areas that Ukrainian officials reported were less secure.

Ukraine's State Bureau of Investigation also announced that it has started an investigation into the improper preparation of Ukrainian defense in this area and the abandonment of Ukrainian positions in the Lyptsi and Vovchansk directions.

Detectives noted that this allowed Russian forces to advance to the area's second line of Ukrainian defense. However, limited manpower appears to have prevented Russian forces from achieving deeper penetration.

Although it is quite possible that the Russian military command believed that the concentration of larger forces would alert the Ukrainian troops and deprive them of the opportunity to carry out an operational surprise. It was Russia's decision not to immediately introduce significant reserves that probably prevented Russian forces from achieving rapid gains and deeper penetration.

"Ukrainian forces have now established themselves at defensive positions in the area, and Russian forces have likely expended their tactical opportunity to make relatively rapid gains against lightly-held positions in this area," the report added.

Key ISW takeaways as of May 25:

  • Ukrainian and Russian sources stated that Ukrainian forces are increasingly contesting the tactical initiative in northern Kharkiv region and characterized Russian operations in the area as defensive, although Russian forces are likely attempting to bring the Northern Grouping of Forces up closer to its reported planned end strength before possibly intensifying offensive operations in the area.
  • The likely premature start of Russian offensive operations appears to have undermined Russian success in northern Kharkiv region.
  • Russian forces continue to leverage their sanctuary in Russian airspace to strike Kharkiv City to devastating effect, likely as part of efforts to depopulate the city and demoralize Ukrainians.
  • Russian electronic warfare (EW) capabilities reportedly impacted the effectiveness of select Western weapon systems in Ukraine in 2023 as Ukraine and Russia continue to compete in a technical offense-defense race.
  • Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov categorically rejected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's legitimacy and outlined Russia's maximalist conditions for peace negotiations during an interview with Newsweek on May 25.
  • Russia is likely helping North Korea develop its defense industrial base (DIB) in exchange for North Korean munitions supplies, and US officials reportedly assess that Russia may also be supplying North Korea with military equipment, weapons, or technology.
  • Russian forces recently made confirmed advances near Donetsk City.
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) has cancelled its annual "Army Games" international competition for the second year in a row, prompting celebration among critical Russian ultranationalist milbloggers.

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