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ISW: Russian forces prepare for second phase of offensive in Kharkiv Oblast, reinforcements arriving

Russian military is transferring additional regiments and brigades to northern Kharkiv Oblast, Ukrainian officials report, suggesting preparations for the next phase of offensive operations in the oblast.
Ukraine's frontline.
Ukraine’s frontline. Credit: President Volodymyr Zelenskyy via Telegram
ISW: Russian forces prepare for second phase of offensive in Kharkiv Oblast, reinforcements arriving

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported on 30 May that Russian forces likely intend to launch the second phase of their offensive operation in northern Kharkiv Oblast following their intended seizure of Vovchansk.

According to the ISW, positional fighting and possible Ukrainian counterattacks could require Russian forces to conduct another wave of intensified assaults in the area to complete the seizure of the settlement.

Senior Ukrainian military officials have reported that Russian forces are transferring additional units to northern Kharkiv Oblast from other areas along the frontline, indicating Russia’s continued prioritization of efforts to draw and fix Ukrainian forces in the oblast, according to the report.

Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi said on 30 May that “the Russian military is transferring elements of an unspecified number of additional regiments and brigades from other unspecified areas of the frontline and from training grounds to the Strilecha-Lyptsi (north of Kharkiv City) and Vovchansk (northeast of Kharkiv City) areas in northern Kharkiv Oblast.”

However, Syrskyi said that “the Russian military does not have enough forces in northern Kharkiv Oblast to conduct a full-scale offensive and break through Ukrainian defenses.”

Kharkiv Oblast Military Administration Head Oleh Syniehubov also said, “Russian forces are transferring reserves to the Lyptsi and Vovchansk directions to draw and fix as many Ukrainian forces in northern Kharkiv Oblast as possible and maintain the current tempo of Russian offensive operations in the area.”

According to the report, Syniehubov said that “Russian forces have not concentrated a ‘strike group’ near Zolochiv Hromada, Kharkiv Oblast (northwest of Kharkiv City) but that Russian forces could redirect forces in the Lyptsi and Vovchansk directions to the Zolochiv direction.”

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported on 30 May that the Russian military’s transfer of reinforcements to Kharkiv Oblast indicates that the Russian military likely continues to prioritize efforts to draw and fix Ukrainian forces from critical sectors of the frontline in eastern Ukraine and establish a ‘buffer zone’ in northern Kharkiv Oblast.

Other key takeaways from the report:

  • Ukraine’s European allies continue to announce their support for allowing Ukraine to use Western-provided weapons to strike military targets in Russia.
  • Western countries continue efforts to increase artillery production and procurement for Ukraine.
  • NATO member states reportedly lack sufficient air defense capabilities to protect members of the Alliance in Central and Eastern Europe in the event of a full-scale attack.
  • Russia formed a new unnamed airborne (VDV) regiment based in occupied Crimea, which currently operates in the Zaporizhzhia direction.

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