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ISW: Ukraine advances south of Bakhmut as Russia struggles to divert forces

The think-tank doubts Russia’s renewed offensive operations near Kupiansk will succeed in diverting Ukrainian forces from the south, as the newly formed 25th Combined Arms Army does not have the strength for meaningful offensives
ISW: Ukraine advances south of Bakhmut as Russia struggles to divert forces

Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations and made gains south of the crucial Donbas city of Bakhmut even as Russia rotated in fresh regiments to shore up defenses, according to an Institute for the Study of War (ISW) report.

The ISW update states Ukrainian troops advanced towards a tree line between Robotyne and Verbove, around 6 km southeast of Robotyne. Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Captain Ilya Yevlash emphasized Ukraine will keep fighting through winter.

Map by ISW

“Yevlash’s statement supports ISW’s assessment that weather will not prevent either side from conducting offensive operations throughout the winter if well-supplied,” the report says.

Meanwhile, Russia likely rotated fresh regiments into the vital Orikhiv sector on the Zaporizhzhia front after withdrawing depleted units in September, per the ISW.

Elements of Russia’s 42nd Motorized Rifle Division pulled back after heavy casualties, and airborne units moved in. But the 42nd Motorized Rifle Division has since returned after reconstituting, showing Russia’s ability to sustain Orikhiv defenses.

In northeastern Ukraine, Russia appears to have renewed offensive operations near Kupiansk to divert Ukrainian resources from the south.

“Ukrainian officials reported a decrease in Russian activity near Kupiansk in recent weeks, but Captain Ilya Yevlash stated on October 6 that Russian forces resumed combat operations near Kupiansk-Lyman,” the ISW reports.

Russia likely aims to draw Ukrainian forces from southern Ukraine. But the ISW doubts the newly formed 25th Combined Arms Army has the strength for meaningful offensives there.

The 25th CAA deployed ahead of schedule and is likely understaffed and poorly trained. Degraded Western Military District units, including the 1st Guards Tank Army and 6th Combined Arms Army, also remain near Kupiansk.

“ISW does not assess at this time that a grouping comprised of the 25th CAA and degraded WMD elements will sustain meaningful offensives around Kupiansk,” the ISW states.

To boost mobilization, Russia may be expanding military bases in occupied Ukraine. Satellite images show Russia expanding training facilities in occupied Donbas, likely to support new reserve regiments ordered by Moscow.

Meanwhile, Russian commanders from the initial invasion remain influential, just not on frontlines, the ISW suggests. Former district commanders now advise defense firms, hoping to return to command.

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