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ISW: Russian ‘threatening gains’ likely west of Bakhmut without US aid for Ukraine

Ukrainian officials are sounding alarms about an impending Russian offensive and the need for US military aid to fend it off.
ukrainian soldier 202a4
Credit: 1st Separate Tank Siver Brigade
ISW: Russian ‘threatening gains’ likely west of Bakhmut without US aid for Ukraine

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported on 15 April that Ukrainian officials continue to warn that US security assistance is vital to Ukrainian forces’ ability to defend against current and future Russian offensive operations forecasted to begin in late spring and summer.

Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Head Lieutenant General Kyrylo Budanov said that Ukrainian forces are preparing to repel a future Russian major offensive expected in late May or the beginning of June. However, according to Budanov, this will be “catastrophically difficult” without Western military assistance.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov said on 14 April that the current situation in eastern Ukraine is “tense” and that Russian forces are focusing their efforts west of Bakhmut in the Chasiv Yar direction. However, Umerov said that Ukrainian forces are successfully using modern technology against Russia’s larger quantities of personnel.

According to the ISW, the spokesperson for the Ukrainian Khortysia Group of Forces, Lieutenant Colonel Nazar Voloshyn, stated on 15 April that Ukrainian forces in the Bakhmut and Avdiivka directions can only use one to five artillery shells for every ten artillery shells that Russian forces fire. However, he said, Ukrainian artillery is more precise than Russian artillery.

The ISW reports that Ukrainian forces’ ability to repel intensified Russian offensive operations in eastern Ukraine has degraded due to material shortages and will likely continue to degrade in the near future should delays in US security assistance continue.

The ISW assessed that “future Russian assaults may be able to achieve more significant and threatening gains, particularly west of Bakhmut, should the US continue to withhold assistance to Ukraine.”

Other takeaways from the report:

  • A senior Estonian military official described intensified Russian offensive frontline operations and deep rear area strike campaigns as intended to degrade both Ukraine’s will to fight and Western unity.
  • Russian forces continue to adapt their drone tactics along the frontline as part of an offense-defense arms race to mitigate Ukrainian technological adaptions to offset Russian materiel advantages along the frontline.
  • A Russian insider source claimed that Russian officials are preparing to redeploy some former Wagner Group elements serving in Africa Corps to Belgorod Oblast.
  • Russian forces recently made confirmed advances near Siversk (northeast of Bakhmut), Avdiivka, and west of Donetsk City on 15 April

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