Russian army is preparing to attack Kupyansk in coming weeks - ISW
Russian troops may intensify their efforts to seize Kupyansk in the coming weeks, but don't intend to launch large-scale offensives in other parts of Kharkiv region
This is stated in a report by the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
It is noted that Russian forces appear to have conditions conducive to intensifying operations in the Kupyansk direction with the intent of making territorial gains in areas that are more operationally significant than other areas that Russian forces are currently attempting to seize.
According to Ukrainian officials, during the winter of 2024, the Russian forces plan to capture Kupyansk and Borova, 35 kilometers west of Svatove. Experts suggest that Russia's seizure of those towns would likely force Ukrainian forces off the east bank of the Oskil River in the Kharkiv region and set conditions for future Russian offensive operations along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line.
At the same time, the tempo of Russian operations in the Kupyansk direction and the apparent configuration of Russian forces in the occupied Luhansk and Kharkiv regions overall does not indicate an impending Russian offensive effort along the entire Kupyansk-Lyman line.
Military analysts argue that at this point, Russia has not accumulated enough forces in the Belgorod region to launch large-scale offensive operations in the north or northeast of Kharkiv region.
The report also notes that Russian forces appear to have gradually reconstituted units badly degraded during the Ukrainian counteroffensive in September 2022 and Russia’s failed winter-spring 2023 offensive, and the Russian command likely intends these relatively well-rested and reconstituted units to intensify localized offensive operations that Russian forces started in the area in October 2023.
Experts report that Russian regular forces in the Kupyansk direction are drawn primarily from the Western Military District and thus benefit from a degree of organizational coherence unlike Russian forces in other parts of Ukraine, which are often thrown together from various military districts and airborne units. The relative coherence of the WMD force grouping in the Kupyansk direction likely generates relatively more effective command and control among these forces.
"It remains unclear if these WMD elements are able to conduct large-scale assaults that would be significantly more effective than the disorganized and costly Russian offensive operations around Avdiivka," the ISW report says.
According to Oleksandr Musienko, director of the Center for Military Legal Studies, the Russian troops regrouped and replenished reserves in the Kupyansk direction and near Lyman, so they plan to launch an offensive on Kupyansk on January 10-15.