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ISW: Russia fails to achieve goal of seizing Donbas by end of March

by The Kyiv Independent news desk April 2, 2023 7:13 AM 2 min read
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Russia's winter offensive has failed to achieve the Kremlin's goal of seizing Ukraine's Donbas, comprised of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, by March 31, the Institute of the Study of War said in its latest update, citing Russian, Ukrainian, and Western sources.

Chief of Russia's General Staff Valery Gerasimov announced on Dec. 22 that Russian forces would focus most of their efforts on taking the entirety of Donetsk Oblast. Russian forces later launched their winter offensive in early February, the ISW said.

The UK Ministry of Defense said in its April 1 intelligence update that "eighty days on, it is increasingly apparent that (Gerasimov's)  project has failed."

Russian military bloggers have expressed concern over Russian forces' ability to finish their offensive operations in Bakhmut and Avdiivka in Donetsk Oblast before Ukraine's expected counteroffensive that the bloggers anticipate as coming sometime between Orthodox Easter on April 16 and Soviet Labor Day on May 9, the ISW wrote.

Miliary bloggers are also reportedly disappointed that the winter offensive did not produce any decisive battles and believe that Russia will not be able to continue any large scale offensive operations if Russia does not take control of Bakhmut and Avdiivka in the coming weeks.

In addition to assessing that Russia's winter offensive would be unsuccessful, the ISW evaluated that "Russia would lack the combat power necessary to sustain more than one major offensive operation in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, and ongoing recruitment campaigns in Russia and occupied Ukrainian territories may indicate that Russia is preparing for reserve shortages."

Can Russia afford to commit to a years-long war?
When Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an all-out war against Ukraine, U.S. intelligence claimed that Russian forces planned to sweep Kyiv within days. More than 13 months on, Ukraine’s defenses still stand firm. But Ukrainians are now faced with a different threat – the Kremlin appears to…
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