Russian authorities may be aware of the fact that their forces are highly unlikely to seize previously planned major objectives in the near future, British Intelligence reported in its daily update on Ukraine on 19 March 2023.
On 3 March 2023, authorities in the Russian-controlled part of Zaporizhzhia Oblast in southeastern Ukraine published a decree that declared occupied Melitopol as the new capital of Zaporizhzhia Oblast. The Russian-installed head of the oblast, Evgeniy Balitskiy, said that this was a temporary measure until the city of Zaporizhzhia was controlled by Russia, British Intel reported.
Russia has never managed to occupy Zaporizhzhia city, the capital of Zaporizhzhia Oblast, and a major industrial center of 700,000 residents. Zaporizhzhia is located approximately 35 kilometers from the current front line.
Zaporizhzhia is one of the four oblasts in Ukraine that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin claimed to have annexed as part of the Russian Federation on 30 September 2022.
The quiet declaration of an alternative capital is likely acknowledgment within the Russian system that its forces are unable to reach previously planned major objectives in the near future, according to British Intelligence.
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