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ISW: Russian offensive slows in northern Kharkiv Oblast, halts at 8km from border

ISW reports the Russian offensive in northern Kharkiv slows, advancing no more than 8 km from the border, with Western restrictions on strikes inside Russia complicating the Ukrainian defense of vulnerable border areas.
Ukrainian troops. Photo: General Staff of Ukraine
ISW: Russian offensive slows in northern Kharkiv Oblast, halts at 8km from border

The US-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reports a slowdown in the pace of Russian offensive operations in northern Kharkiv Oblast, following initial gains in areas that were less defended, according to Ukrainian officials.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and military officials have reported that Ukrainian forces have somewhat stabilized conditions in northern Kharkiv Oblast, which borders Russia.

Lieutenant Colonel Nazar Voloshyn, spokesperson for the Ukrainian Khortytsia Group of Forces, stated that despite Russian efforts to gain tactical advantages near Lukyantsi and Vovchansk for future offensives, Ukrainian counterattacks, along with artillery and drone strikes, are thwarting Russian advances in these areas.

isw situation northern kharkiv oblast 15 may 2024 according iswmapkharkivobalstnorth15may2024
Situation in northern Kharkiv Oblast as of 15 May 2024, according to ISW.

Officials from the Kharkiv Oblast Administration reported on 15 May that ongoing Russian shelling prevents Ukrainian forces from building fortifications within three to five kilometers of the international border. Consequently, Ukrainian forces have established the first and second lines of defense approximately 12 to 13 kilometers and 20 kilometers from the border, respectively.

“ISW currently assesses that Russian forces have advanced no more than eight kilometers from the international border in northern Kharkiv Oblast,” the report reads.

Russian forces in Russia can easily conduct artillery strikes against Ukrainian defensive positions near the international border. Meanwhile, Western restrictions on using Western-supplied weapons systems to strike Russian rear areas across the border leave Ukrainian defenses close to the border vulnerable and potentially indefensible, ISW notes.

Russian forces have been able to make tactical advances in northern Kharkiv Oblast since May 10 in areas where Ukrainian forces purposefully did not establish significant defensive lines and currently appear to be prioritizing the creation of a “buffer zone” over a deep penetration into Kharkiv Oblast,” ISW says.

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