Russian officials, Kremlin advisors, and other unspecified knowledgeable figures who spoke on condition of anonymity reportedly told Bloomberg that Putin seeks to conduct a new major offensive and that he believes that Russia’s tolerance to accept causalities will allow Russia to win the war in the long run despite Russian failures so far.
This report is consistent with ISW’s current assessment and forecast that the Kremlin is likely preparing to conduct a decisive strategic action—most likely in Luhansk Oblast—in the next six months intended to regain the initiative and end Ukraine’s current string of operational successes.
ISW previously assessed that the decisive strategic action in Luhansk Oblast could be either a major offensive or a Russian defensive operation to defeat and exploit a Ukrainian counteroffensive.
Recent limited Russian ground attacks in Zaporizhzhia Oblast may be intended to disperse Ukrainian forces and set conditions for an offensive in Luhansk. Russia is redeploying elements of the 2nd Motorized Rifle Division from Belarus to Luhansk Oblast. This recent development suggests that the planned Russian offensive referenced in the Bloomberg report is most likely aimed at Luhansk Oblast though it could also occur in the Vuhledar area in western Donetsk. This new offensive is extremely unlikely to target northern Ukraine from Belarus. There continues to be no indication that Russian forces are forming strike groups in Belarus; Russian elements in Belarus are largely using Belarusian infrastructure and training capacity for training rotations.
Russian milbloggers are also increasingly writing off the notion of a second attack against Kyiv as an information operation and are suggesting that the most likely target for a Russian offensive would be in eastern Ukraine or neighboring Kharkiv Oblast.