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Lieutenant General Oleksandr Pavliuk, Ukraine's deputy defense minister since February 2023, was appointed as the head of Ukraine's Ground Forces by a presidential decree on Feb. 11, 2024. (Defense Ministry/Telegram)
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Russia's goal in 2024 is to completely occupy Donetsk, Luhansk, and, if possible, Zaporizhzhia oblasts, Ukraine's Ground Forces Commander Oleksandr Pavliuk told The Times on May 2.

Russia is likely trying to take as much territory as possible before the impact of the recently passed U.S. aid bill for Ukraine can be felt on the battlefield.

Chasiv Yar, a town in Donetsk Oblast, remains one of Russia's key targets as it could facilitate further advances toward the nearby cities of Kostiantynivka, Kramatorsk, and Sloviansk, the Ukrainian military said.

Russian forces want to capture Chasiv Yar by May 9, in time for the celebration of cult-like Victory Day in Russia. Pavliuk believes that it will not happen.

"We are trying everything we can do to stop the Russian plan to capture Chasiv Yar before May 9," the commander said.

"But the Russians have a 10-to-one ratio of artillery superiority there, and total air superiority," Pavliuk added.

The commander hopes that fresh billions in U.S. military aid, which had been stalled for nearly seven months, will impact the Ukrainian battlefield.

"We will do everything we can to prevent a Russian breakthrough, and we hope that the American weaponry will help us. If it had arrived in time, we would not have lost the territories that we have lost in the last few months."

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War Notes

Apart from completing the occupation of three oblasts, Russian forces are still focused on capturing the regional centers of Kharkiv and Sumy, located proximately to the Ukrainian-Russian state border, as well, according to Pavliuk, who cited Ukraine's military intelligence.

"But we do not know how serious those plans are, nor if they are capable of realizing them with the forces they have at their disposal," he said.

The commander also expects the number of Russian troops to increase this year as the Russian summer offensive is looming.

"We believe the Russians want to mobilize 100,000 more troops and that they will use these to reinforce their forces already in Ukraine in June and July," Pavliuk said.

"By the end of the year, we think that the Russians intend to mobilize nearly 300,000 more soldiers. But also they are losing nearly 25,000 to 30,000 per month in dead and wounded."

Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine's Armed Forces Oleksandr Syrskyi said on April 28 that the Ukrainian forces had to retreat west from the villages of Berdychi, Semenivka, and Novomykhailivka in Donetsk Oblast as Russian troops continued to advance in the area.

Russian forces managed to break in and gain a foothold in a part of Ocheretyne, a front-line village nearly 10 kilometers from Berdychi and Semenivka.

Syrskyi said that Russia is involving up to four brigades (from 8,000 to 32,000 personnel) to conduct assault operations in the direction of the cities of Pokrovsk and Kurakhove west of Avdiivka, which was captured in February.

Battle of Chasiv Yar begins: On the ground with Ukrainian forces defending city key to Russia’s plans
Editor’s note: In accordance with the security protocols of the Ukrainian military, soldiers featured in this story are identified by first names and callsigns only. CHASIV YAR, DONETSK OBLAST – As he creeps between rubble-strewn garages near the central square of Chasiv Yar, the eyes and ears of t…
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