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Intelligence: Russia tries to delay Ukraine’s counteroffensive with assaults in the east

by The Kyiv Independent news desk February 15, 2023 10:52 AM 2 min read
This audio is created with AI assistance

Russia’s strategy of attacking Bakhmut and Vuhledar in Donetsk Oblast aims to delay Ukraine’s counteroffensive, Andriy Yusov, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s Main Intelligence Directorate spokesperson, reported on Feb. 15.

Yusov also said the ongoing Russian offensive isn’t comparable to the scale of the large-scale invasion of Feb. 24, as Russia faces equipment issues despite having mobilized manpower.

Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate, said in an interview on Jan. 4 that Ukraine is planning a major counteroffensive in spring, expecting the fighting to be the “hottest” in March.

According to the latest report from the Institute for the Study of War, U.S. defense planners expressed concern about the Ukrainian determination to hold Bakhmut, suggesting prioritizing the preparation for the spring counteroffensive instead.

However, the ISW continues to assess that the “decision to defend Bakhmut is likely a strategically sound effort despite its costs for Ukraine,” due to the significant costs incurred by Russian forces that will likely set favorable conditions for a future Ukrainian counteroffensive.

Bakhmut and surrounding areas remain the primary focus of Russia, as Moscow seeks to open up the main road leading to two other cities in the east — Kramatorsk and Sloviansk.

On Feb. 12, Russia claimed it had seized control of Krasna Hora, a village about five kilometers north of Bakhmut, Ukraine denied the statement the next day.

However, the U.K. defense ministry said in its daily intelligence update that over the past three days, Russia’s Wagner mercenaries had “almost certainly” made further small gains around the northern outskirts of Bakhmut, including into Krasna Hora.

The battle for Bakhmut is the fiercest at the moment, according to Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. He said on Feb. 14 that the fighting for the eastern city is the most extensive in terms of losses, and Ukrainian forces continue to repel attacks.

One night in Bakhmut: Civilians wait for the end as Russia draws closer
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