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Frontline report: Why Kupiansk matters, Russia’s next major offensive target

Russia has launched major operations around Kupiansk, a key railway hub, to support efforts to capture the entirety of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, and necessary for attacking Kharkiv
Kupiansk, city in Kharkiv Oblast. Reporting from Ukraine
Frontline report: Why Kupiansk matters, Russia’s next major offensive target

On 25 February, there are a lot of different updates from the Kupiansk direction.

As we indicated in a previous video, according to the Head of Ukrainian Intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, the anticipated Russian winter-spring offensive effort is underway precisely in this region. The main objective of the Russian forces in the area is the capture of Kupiansk. Kupiansk is a strategically important town for three main reasons.

Firstly, Kupiansk is an important logistical point and railway node that Russians could use for further deployments to the south and east.

Secondly, taking Kupiansk would provide support from the flanks, which is necessary for attacking Kharkiv – without taking Kupiansk, it is virtually impossible to encircle Kharkiv.

Thirdly, taking Kupiansk would facilitate achieving one of the most important Russian political goals because one of the declared primary objectives of the so-called special military operation is establishing control over the entire Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.

Reporting from Ukraine

Because of this, Russians have been stalking Kupiansk for a long time, and in that effort, they have tried to take Synkivka for up to twelve months, with a peak intensity in the last two months.

But ultimately, Ukrainians created a powerful set of fortifications, traps, and minefields that completely undermined any Russian efforts.

For this reason, Russians regrouped their forces in January and then suddenly attacked south of Kyslivka, successfully penetrating the Ukrainian defense and reaching Tabaivka. The main Russian objective was to encircle Kyslivka.

Kyslivka and Tabaivka in Kharkiv Oblast. Reporting from Ukraine

If we look at the topographic map, we can see that, in reality, the control over Tabaivka is actually of secondary importance, as this settlement is located in the lowlands.

The real fortress is formed around Kyslivka and small settlements nearby because they are located on the hills. That is why Ukrainians need to prevent the fall of Kyslivka. The Ukrainian high command decided to deploy reserves to stabilize the front line in this region and disrupt the Russian plans.

Geolocated images of the area show how the Ukrainians carry out all kinds of attacks on Russian infantry, vehicles, and heavy equipment, with a particular emphasis on attacks from FPV drones.

Some of the equipment whose destruction is visible in the images include a two-C-nineteen MSTA-S self-propelled system and an MT-twelve howitzer.

Incidentally, in one of the videos, an attack on a Starlink device is visible, reconfirming its widespread use by the Russian military. The latest updates indicate that Russian forces have redirected their efforts further south due to the attempt to encircle Kyslivka completely failing.

According to Ukrainian military analysts, elements of the Russian First Tank Regiment and Fifteenth Motorized Rifle Regiment are struggling to advance towards Kupiansk from the southeast near Tabaivka and Krokhmalne, so the Russian command has redeployed at least three assault units to the area to support efforts to break through Ukrainian lines and redirect advances northwest of Svatove.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy recently visited the front line in Kupiansk, receiving first-hand information from commanders in the area and offering support to the citizens who have recently suffered from mortar fire that reached residential areas.

This visit has been interpreted as a message that Kupiansk currently has the highest strategic importance.

Overall, the timely decision of the Ukrainian command to deploy reserves, coupled with the successful leveraging of fortifications and traps in the region, have prevented Russians from developing their southern offensive vector and disrupted the plan to complete the encirclement of Kyslivka from the south. Kyslivka is the crucial point of stability of the current front line, the fall of which could have compromised Kupiansk.

According to many analysts, the strategic significance of Kupiansk even outweighs that of Avdiivka, making it a crucial focal point in the current defensive strategy.

Ultimately, Ukraine needs to defend Kupiansk to ensure that Kharkhiv never becomes the next target of the Russian forces. However, Russian forces opened many more mutually supporting axes of advance in the Luhansk Oblast.

The scale of this joint offensive operation is massive, and this is something that Russians have never done before.

In our daily frontline report, we pair up with the military blogger Reporting from Ukraine to keep you informed about what is happening on the battlefield in the Russo-Ukrainian war.

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