In its latest intelligence update, the British Defense Ministry says that Russia remains “concerned about guarding the extremities” of its extended Donbas front line, with a central dilemma for its operational planners being which threat to prioritize – a possible major Ukrainian breakthrough in the oblast of Zaporizhzhia or Luhansk.
The ministry tweeted:
- “As of 07 February 2023, open source imagery indicated Russia had likely further bolstered defensive fortifications in central Zaporizhzhia Oblast, southern Ukraine, particularly near the town of Tarasivka. As of 08 January 2023, Russia had established defensive fortifications between the towns of Vasilyvka and Orikhiv, Zaporizhzhia Oblast.”
- “Despite the current operational focus on central Donbas, Russia remains concerned about guarding the extremities of its extended front line. This is demonstrated by continued construction of defensive fortifications in Zaporizhzhia and Luhansk oblasts and deployments of personnel. Russia’s front line in Ukraine amounts to approximately 1,288 km with the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia oblast frontline at 192 km.”
- “A major Ukrainian breakthrough in Zaporizhzhia would seriously challenge the viability of Russia’s ‘land bridge’ linking Russia’s Rostov region and Crimea; Ukrainian success in Luhansk would further undermine Russia’s professed war aim of ‘liberating’ the Donbas. Deciding which of these threats to prioritise countering is likely one of the central dilemmas for Russian operational planners.”