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ISW: Russian forces retain initiative on Bakhmut front line
The arrival of Russian forces to Bakhmut in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk Oblast has allowed Russia to retain the initiative near the city and offset the culmination of the Wagner Group's offensive in the area, the Institute for the Study of War said in its Jan. 31 update.
The assessment disputes a Dec. 27 assessment, also by the ISW, claiming that the Russian offensive of Bakhmut had culminated.
Russian regular forces, along with Kremlin-controlled private mercenary Wager Group, have been attempting to capture Bakhmut for months as Russia tries to consolidate its grip over the entirety of Donetsk Oblast, half of which it currently controls.
The ISW report references Denys Yarolavsky, the commander of a Ukrainian unit operating in Bakhmut, who confirmed reinforcement from “super-qualified” Russian conventional troops.
Despite Russian gains around Bakhmut, the imminent fall of Bakhmut or a surprise Russian encirclement of Ukrainian units remains “extraordinarily unlikely," according to the ISW.
ISW and Ukrainian officials do agree, however, on an imminent Russian offensive that will likely take place in Ukraine's eastern Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts.
But the report assessed probing Russian attacks near Pavlivka and Vuhledar in Donetsk Oblast as “unlikely to reinforce other Russian offensives in eastern Ukraine due to the seeming lack of overall operational coordination between these separate offensives.”