ISW: Russian forces escalate offensive to gain momentum ahead of presidential elections
In challenging weather, Russian troops are intensifying their offensive maneuvers, seeking to take the initiative on the frontlines before Russia's upcoming presidential elections. Simultaneously, the Ukrainian Defense Forces are holding positions and refraining from counterattacks
This information is detailed in a report from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
Russian troops are currently engaging in offensive operations along Ukraine's front line. Notably, these actions occur near the Kharkiv-Luhansk border, Bakhmut, and the Avdiivka direction, with continuous ground attacks in western Zaporizhzhia region.
The ongoing pace of conflict aligns with ISW's evaluation that Russian forces have sought to regain control since mid-November 2023.
Recent statements from the Ukrainian military confirm that Russian troops have taken the initiative in specific areas, such as the Kharkiv-Luhansk border, Bakhmut, and Avdiivka-Donetsk direction. However, Ukrainian forces maintain the upper hand in key parts of southern Ukraine, evident in consistent counterattacks in western Zaporizhzhia and a notable Ukrainian presence along the eastern Kherson shore.
Russian troops’ attempt to seize initiative and launch offensives in early-mid November, despite challenging weather conditions, rather than waiting for severe frosts, signals they were under pressure.
According to the Institute, the Russian command aimed to peak the Ukrainian counteroffensive or prevent an early resumption this winter. Yet, the sequence of events indicates that Kyiv chose to significantly scale back its counteroffensive before the Russian offensive began.
However, analysts are uncertain if the ongoing Russian offensive will lead to significant operational successes in the near future.
In contrast, Ukrainian forces seem to be utilizing adverse weather and the ongoing Russian offensive to fortify defensive positions in non-counteroffensive areas. This strategy helps conserve resources and manpower for future offensives.
The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces reported 45 combat clashes on December 9. Ukrainian Defense Forces will persist in holding positions on the left bank of the Dnipro River in the Kherson region.