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ISW: Russia may focus its potential offensive only in one operational direction

by Kateryna Denisova April 1, 2024 9:28 AM 2 min read
Soldiers on the Armored Infantry Vehicle 2 (BMP-2) on the road to the city, the outskirts of Avdiivka on Feb. 14, 2024. (Vlada Liberova/Libkos/Getty Images)
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Russia may focus its potential late spring or summer offensive against Ukraine in the western part of Donetsk Oblast, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) wrote in their April 1 report.

The Russian military command may consider the area near Avdiivka, a key front-line city in Donetsk Oblast captured by Russia in February, as a priority, the ISW said. Russia's willingness to commit a battalion of tanks to an attack in the area is one of the indications of such plans, the report said.

Referring to an unnamed Ukrainian service member, the ISW said that on March 30, Ukraine's Armed Forces appeared to repel the first Russia's battalion-sized mechanized assault since Moscow began a new campaign to seize Avdiivka in late October 2023.

Russian troops may have used 36 tanks and 12 infantry fighting vehicles near the village of Tonenke, which the ISW and the U.K. Defense Ministry consider likely to have been captured by Russian troops.

The Ukrainian military did not confirm this claim.

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War Notes

The ISW suggested that Ukrainian troops had to expend a "significant amount of material" to repel this assault, but the "ability to skillfully defend against a large-scale Russian assault in a particularly critical part of the front despite challenges suggests that Ukrainian forces can achieve significant battlefield effects if they are properly equipped."

Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine's Armed Forces Oleksandr Syrskyi said that a Russian attack on Kharkiv, which saw an escalation in strikes in recent weeks, cannot be ruled out.

The contact line near another hotspot, the village of Robotyne in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, was "in flux," but the situation was "not critical" despite Russian troops' assaults in the area, according to the Ukrainian military.

The ISW said that despite warnings about the accumulation of Russian forces in other parts of the front, Russia may focus on one sector.

"ISW continues to assess that Russian forces will likely only be able to launch a concerted large-scale offensive operation in one operational direction at a time due to Russia's own manpower and planning limitations," the report said.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said in late March that the situation on the battlefield has been stabilized compared to earlier months, but he did not rule out that a major Russian offensive may come at the end of May or in June.

Portrait of the Invader: 2 years of Russian soldiering in Ukraine
In two years of total war, Moscow has tried every trick to keep the death march going. It held a draft, expanded state-sponsored mercenary companies, recruited convicted prisoners, integrated proxies from occupied Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, and forcibly conscripted Ukrainians in occupied territor…
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