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Ukrainian soldiers reload an artillery unit on the front line, in the direction of the Kreminna in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, on Jan. 30, 2024. (Ignacio Marin/Anadolu via Getty Images)
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Russian forces have regained the strategic initiative in Ukraine and will be able to pursue offensive operations in 2024, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) wrote in its Feb. 26 report.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Feb. 25 that the Russian military was preparing to launch a new offensive in the spring or early summer of this year.

The ISW affirmed this assessment, noting Russia's recent battlefield gains and the disappointments of Ukraine's 2023 counteroffensive.

"Russian forces have regained the theater-wide initiative and will be able to pursue offensive operations when and where they choose as long as they hold the initiative," the ISW said.

Analysts predicted that if Ukrainian forces lead "an active defense" in 2024, Russia will gain a number of advantages, including the opportunity to choose "the time, location, and scale" of offensive campaigns.

"Russian forces will have the ability to maneuver reserve concentrations and determine how and where to allocate resources while forcing Ukraine to respond defensively," the ISW said.

The ISW suggested the Ukrainian military could deny Russian forces these advantages by conducting their own offensive campaigns, seizing the initiative from Moscow. Ukraine's ability to do so is contingent on having "enough means" to mount another counteroffensive.

Those means hinge on the delivery of substantial military aid from the United States, which has run out of funding for Ukraine while the latest $61-billion security assistance package remains tied up in Congress.

Commander-in-Chief Oleksandr Syrskyi has reportedly prepared two versions of the war plan, one to pursue if the funding comes through and one if it does not.

Zelensky said in an interview with Fox News on Feb. 22 that Ukrainian forces are preparing to launch new offenses against Russian troops.

Our readers’ questions about the war, answered. Vol. 5
Editor’s note: We asked members of the Kyiv Independent community to share the questions they have about the war. Here’s what they asked, and how we answered. Join our community to ask a question in the next round. Read our previous answers here, here, here, and here. Question: What is

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