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ISW: Russia likely to ramp up offensive before US military aid reaches Ukraine

Russian troops have had tactical successes over the past six months due to deteriorating Ukrainian military supplies and equipment, but it’s unlikely they’ll achieve a breakthrough to rupture the front lines.
ISW: Russia likely to ramp up offensive before US military aid reaches Ukraine
Ukrainian troops on the frontline. Photo: General Staff
ISW: Russia likely to ramp up offensive before US military aid reaches Ukraine

Russian forces are likely to intensify their offensive operations, missile strikes, and drone attacks in the coming weeks before US military aid reaches Ukraine’s frontlines, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

“Russian forces have maintained and, in some areas, intensified ongoing offensive operations, likely to exploit abnormally dry spring ground conditions and persisting Ukrainian materiel shortages before the arrival of promised Western security assistance,” the analysts believe.

Russian forces have also sought to undermine Ukraine’s degraded air defenses in an effort to collapse the Ukrainian energy grid and cause long-term damage to Ukraine’s infrastructure and defense industrial capacity.

However, Russian troops have only achieved tactical successes over the past six months as Ukrainian military supplies and equipment deteriorated, and it is unlikely that Russian forces will now be able to achieve a breakthrough that would rupture the front lines, the ISW report suggests.

“Ukrainian forces may suffer additional setbacks in the coming weeks while waiting for US security assistance that will allow Ukraine to stabilize the front, but they will likely be able to blunt the current Russian offensive assuming the resumed US assistance arrives promptly,” the analysts noted. 

The ISW assessment states Russia seeks to make operationally significant gains while Ukrainian defenses remain degraded, especially in areas like west of Avdiivka and near Chasiv Yar where breakthroughs may be possible. However, Russian advances over the past six months have been limited to tactical successes as Ukrainian stocks depleted.

Regardless of delays in American military aid, Ukraine is projected to be in an improved position by June 2024, potentially prompting Russia to overhaul its anticipated summer offensive plans.

Other takeaways:

  • Russian forces recently advanced near Chasiv Yar and Avdiivka in Donetsk Oblast, while Ukraine gained ground south of Kreminna in Luhansk Oblast.
  • Both sides report Russian use of US 203mm artillery ammunition, likely sourced from Iran.
  • The Kremlin appears clamping down on calls to probe a Russian propagandist’s murder amid efforts to control separatist messaging.
  • The Kremlin appears to be censoring calls to investigate the reported murder of a Russian propagandist and US national Russell Bonner Bentley III in the city of Donetsk, amid wider efforts to control DNR-affiliated voices.

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