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ISW report: Ukrainian offensive in south draws Russian forces away from east

A new report from the Institute for the Study of War suggests Ukraine has frustrated Russian offensives on several fronts, even as Moscow redirects its aviation assets.
Ukrainian forces continued offensive operations near Bakhmut and Melitopol.
Ukrainian forces during offensive operations near Bakhmut. Photo: General Staff of Ukraine
ISW report: Ukrainian offensive in south draws Russian forces away from east

Ukrainian forces reportedly repelled numerous Russian ground and aerial attacks over the past day even as fighting has slowed on some fronts, according to a daily report from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

According to the US-based think tank, the tempo of Russian offensive operations has lessened in recent days along the Kupiansk-Svatove-Kreminna line in the east. Officials said fewer assaults were occurring near Kupiansk and Lyman, suggesting the Ukrainian counteroffensive has diverted Russian combat power away from that area. The ISW previously judged the Russian offensive there aimed to pin Ukrainian troops and prevent them reinforcing more vital sectors.

However, Russian aviation strikes have increased in Kharkiv, Luhansk, and Kherson oblasts. But they appear less active in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast where Ukraine’s forces are advancing in their counteroffensive.

Ukraine likely downed more Russian helicopters last month, making Moscow wary of further aviation losses. But Russian artillery remains active, and increased drone strikes are also impeding the Ukrainian advance there. “It remains unclear what Russian forces intend to achieve with increased aviation activity in Kherson Oblast and whether more airstrikes against Ukrainian targets in the Kupiansk and Lyman directions will be able to offset degraded Russian combat power in the area,” noted ISW.

Other key takeaways from the report:

    • Ukrainian forces continued offensive operations near Bakhmut in Donetsk Oblast and Melitopol in Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
    • Russian forces conducted offensive operations on the Kupiansk-Svatove-Kreminna line, near Bakhmut, in the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area, and in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast and did not make confirmed gains. A Russian source did assert one position was taken near Krasnohorivka.
    • Russia said it had foiled Ukrainian attacks along the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia provincial boundary. For their part, Ukraine’s forces were said to have repelled Russian assaults closer to Velyka Novosilka.
    • Ukrainian troops are still conducting offensive operations near Melitopol in western Zaporizhzhia, but neither side has secured fresh gains there. Away from the frontlines, Russian bloggers remained concerned Ukraine could attempt a risky river crossing to retake territory in the Kherson Oblast.
    • Russian sources stated that the Russian Aerospace Forces received a new batch of fifth-generation Su-57 stealth fighter and fourth-generation Su-35S air defense fighter aircraft. However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky insisted Iran has not yet agreed to sell missiles to Russia, despite the concerns of Western officials.

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