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ISW: Russian Defense Minister overestimates territorial gains in Ukraine

Freshly appointed Russian Defense Minister Andrey Belousov significantly overstated Russian territorial advances in Ukraine since the start of 2024, claiming 880 square kilometers captured compared to ISW’s assessment of approximately 752 square kilometers.
Andrey Belousov, Russian Defense Minister
Andrey Belousov, Russian Defense Minister. Source: Wikipedia
ISW: Russian Defense Minister overestimates territorial gains in Ukraine

Russian Defense Minister Andrey Belousov significantly exaggerated Russian territorial advances in Ukraine since the beginning of 2024, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

Russian forces launched a new offensive on 10 May by crossing into Ukraine’s northern Kharkiv Oblast, with Vovchansk being among their primary targets. However, the Russian advance near Vovchansk stalled as Ukrainian forces successfully resisted it and started a counteroffensive.

ISW reports that while Russian forces made substantial tactical gains in northern Kharkiv Oblast in early May 2024, Belousov’s claim on 31 May that Russian forces have captured 880 square kilometers so far this year is an overestimation.

Based on ISW observations, Russian forces have only seized approximately 752 square kilometers in 2024. 

The institute previously assessed that Russian forces took control of about 516 square kilometers between 1 January 2024 and 29 April 2024.

As of 31 May, Ukrainian forces control approximately 70% of Vovchansk in Kharkiv Oblast amid ongoing street battles with Russian troops. Despite Russia’s attempts to advance with small groups, their efforts have been largely unsuccessful. 

Earlier, ISW reported that the Russian offensive in Kharkiv faced setbacks due to a hasty start and limited manpower. Russia aimed to gain ground before US military aid arrived but only achieved minor tactical gains. 

On 31 May, ISW also noted that Russian forces were preparing for the second phase of their offensive in Kharkiv Oblast by transferring additional regiments and brigades to northern Kharkiv. However, Commander-in-Chief Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi claimed that Russia lacked the manpower for a full-scale breakthrough.

Russia appointed a new Defense Minister, Andrey Belousov, replacing Sergey Shoigu at the beginning of May. However, according to UK intelligence, this change is unlikely to have a major immediate effect on Russia’s approach to war in Ukraine.

Read more: 

Frontline report: Russian offensive in Kharkiv stalls with Vovchansk as bridges over river destroyed

Stoltenberg: NATO’s weapons policy change bolsters Ukraine’s Kharkiv defense

Prominent Ukrainian combat medic Iryna Tsybukh killed on Kharkiv front. Here’s her farewell letter

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

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