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ISW: Ukraine’s path to regaining territory hinges on West, Russia, Kyiv decisions

Ukraine’s path to regaining occupied territories hinges on future decisions by the West (providing sufficient aid), Russia (scale of forecasted offensive), and Ukraine’s ability to leverage Western aid.
ISW: Russia likely to ramp up offensive before US military aid reaches Ukraine
Ukrainian troops on the frontline. Photo: General Staff
ISW: Ukraine’s path to regaining territory hinges on West, Russia, Kyiv decisions

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported on 26 April that Ukraine’s ability to regain all of its territory in the long term rests on numerous future decisions in the West, in the Kremlin, and in Kyiv.

According to the ISW, “sufficient and consistent Western aid will be critical for future Ukrainian counteroffensive efforts.”

The analysis comes as Western officials have reportedly discussed the idea of “freezing the lines” at the current frontlines, suggesting the latest US military aid package may not enable Ukraine to recover all Russian-occupied areas. However, the ISW notes these discussions are “very premature” as the newly approved assistance has yet to reach front-line Ukrainian units.

“Ukrainian forces will first have to leverage the incoming US aid to stabilize the frontlines and stop ongoing Russian advances, particularly in the Avdiivka and Chasiv Yar directions, in the coming weeks,” the report states.

ISW also said that Ukraine faces the looming challenge of a forecasted major Russian offensive operation likely beginning in June.

“The scale and intensity of the forecasted Summer 2024 Russian offensive operation remains unclear, and the Russian military command may be actively assessing and revising plans…to account for facing better-equipped Ukrainian forces,” according to the ISW.

The report cautions that “any discussions that treat the prospects of Ukrainian victory or defeat as predetermined outcomes ignore how all involved parties could dynamically alter the course of the war in Ukraine.”

Other takeaways from the report:

  • Public meetings between officials from Russia, Belarus, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Iran, and North Korea have surged in recent days, with at least 10 high-level bilateral meetings between April 22 and 26, underscoring the deepening multilateral partnership these states are constructing to confront the West.
  • Russian forces recently made a confirmed advance northwest of Avdiivka, and Ukrainian forces made a confirmed advance in the east (left) bank of Kherson Oblast, although this advance was likely not recent.
  • The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) issued a joint statement on behalf of 45 member states stating that Russia has arbitrarily detained thousands of Ukrainian civilians in occupied Ukraine and subjected them to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.

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