Kremlin propagandists are claiming that Ukraine is planning to invade Russia's Belgorod Oblast, while other Russian sources have said Russian forces need to regain control over Kupiansk in Ukraine's Kharkiv Oblast in order to reduce the risk of a Ukrainian offensive, the Institute for the Study of War said in its latest update.
The D.C.-based think tank noted that "Russian claims of an imminent Ukrainian attack on Belgorod Oblast are absurd and only aim to scare the general public to support the war." Not only does "Ukraine have no strategic interest in invading Russia, it has no ability to do so at such a scale," the ISW wrote.
While Russia seeks ways to shore up support for its war against Ukraine, the ISW noted that support for Russia's invasion is in fact declining among Russians who live in regions that border Ukraine.
Relatives of mobilized men have also organized protests in 15 Russian oblasts since the end of October, the most notable being in oblasts that are on the border with Ukraine, the ISW wrote, citing Russian opposition outlets.
According to the ISW, the speculations of a Ukraine invasion may also be an attempt to appease Russian pro-war nationalists who have criticized the Kremlin for failing to defend Russia and the illegally Russian annexed territories of Ukraine.