Espreso. Global

Russia's capabilities near Kharkiv and Sumy, summer offensive and mobilization to Ukraine's Armed Forces. Column by Serhiy Zgurets

8 May, 2024 Wednesday

We talked to a National Guard serviceman about the situation in the Bakhmut sector in Donetsk region, and to an expert about the general assessment of the situation on the front line


The situation in the Bakhmut sector

Over the past day, there were slightly fewer combat clashes along the entire front line than usual - 90. Of course, it can be concluded that Russian units are exhausted, but so far we are still talking about certain Russian regroupings after significant losses in manpower and equipment. Each section of the front has its own special situation.

Volodymyr Nazarenko, an artillery officer with the 3rd Svoboda Battalion of the 4th Rubizh National Guard Brigade, emphasized that it is necessary to clearly understand what a combat clash means. According to the military, it is a counter-battery duel, artillery or mortar fire, when the enemy inflicts fire with or without a target.

"It's very difficult to characterize and really say how many combat clashes there were, and what exactly to understand by this statement. In fact, Russia's losses are much higher, and if you count every actual firefight, every machine gun fire, every shot, there will be more combat clashes. If we count combat engagements as battles when the Russian enemy tries to advance and when it uses some small groups or accumulations of infantry that try to advance with armored vehicles and are repulsed, when Ukrainian Defense Forces in most cases simply destroy the groups at the stage when they even approach their zero lines," Nazarenko explained.

According to the military, after a significant improvement in the weather two weeks ago, the Russian army has intensified its activities.

"The better the weather is, the more visible it is, the warmer it is, the more opportunities there are to conduct logistics, movement, and accumulation. In general, the trend is that the occupation units, corps, divisions, regiments, battalions, groups, brigades, each of these units has been tasked with exerting maximum pressure and trying to advance. But in most cases, again, their units are exhausted and suffer huge losses. We must clearly understand that for the enemy, human resources are an unlimited resource, they can continuously supply and mobilize orc reserves. Moreover, unfortunately, we hear about statements that they are also trying to mobilize Ukrainians from the temporarily occupied territories, who are actually being held as slaves. The key thing is that the enemy can afford countless attempts to advance, and it is based only on the reserves they quickly replenish," summarized the Rubizh National Guard officer.

Situation in the Pokrovsk and Kurakhove sectors

Russia is currently trying to put pressure on Ukraine's defense line in many areas. When commenting on the situation on the front line, Ukrainian Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Syrskyi singled out two areas in particular - Pokrovsk and Kurakhove. In these areas, the Russian army is trying to break through Ukraine's defense, and the task of the Armed Forces in these conditions remains unchanged - to ensure the retention of the positions held by Ukrainian troops, to inflict maximum losses on the Russian enemy and at the same time create the preconditions for the formation of Ukrainian reserves.

Viktor Kevliuk, a military expert at the Ukrainian Center for Defense Strategies, believes that Russia has penetrated Ukraine's defense to the maximum extent possible in the Pokrovsk sector.

"The enemy's 30th and 35th brigades are advancing in the Ocheretyne-Novo Oleksandrivka area, the 433rd regiment of the 27th Division and the 55th brigade are advancing in the Novobakhmutivka-Sokil area. But the pace of the offensive there sharply decreased, and the commander of the enemy's 41st Army was forced to put the 74th Brigade into the battle, which was restoring combat capability and has not yet completed this process. The 132nd Brigade of Donetsk separatists is advancing in the direction of Arkhanhelske. In general, the Pokrovsk direction is the only one where the Russian enemy has a real chance to turn its tactical success into operational success. The goal of Russia's actions here is to form the southern flank of the upcoming operation to encircle Toretsk. In the Kurakhove direction, the situation is as follows: Russia's 5th and 110th brigades are advancing from Staromykhailivka, which is under Russian control, towards Krasnohorivka. Along the highway to Kurakhove, the 103rd regiment of the 150th division is moving through Heorhiivka, and through Pobieda two regiments of the 242nd and 255th regiments of the 20th division," said the expert.

Also, Russia has the 163rd regiment of the 150th division and the 96th unit of the mobilization reserve ready to immediately replenish losses at the front.

According to him, Russia's goal is to form a northern flank to further encircle Ukrainian troops in Vuhledar.

Risks near Chasiv Yar

The reserve colonel of the Ukrainian Armed Forces emphasized that the most combat-ready unit of the Russian armed forces - the 98th Airborne Division from Ivanovo and the 11th Separate Air Assault Brigade - are fighting in Chasiv Yar. There are also the 7th so-called St. George Volunteer Assault Brigade and the 58th Separate Special Forces Battalion of the First Army Corps.

"On the northern flank between Bohdanivka and Kalynivka, the 217th and 299th regiments of the 98th division are bogged down in the defense of the Khortytsia group. On the southern flank, near Ivanivske, the 11th Air Assault Brigade is self-destructing, assisted by the 102nd Regiment of the 150th Division. In both the north and south, Russia's advance on May 7 was 0 meters. The gray zone, where the 331st Regiment of the 98th Division is fighting, is being transformed. They regularly attack the eastern outskirts of Chasiv Yar. Those who reach the Novyi neighborhood or the Kanal neighborhood take pictures with the Russian flag, die immediately, and Moscow starts talking about the capture of Chasiv Yar," explained Kevliuk.

As for Russia's access to the Pokrovsk-Kostiantynivka highway, he said that the occupiers are about 16 kilometers away from the intersection, meaning that artillery and unmanned systems are under fire control, but this does not interfere with the logistics of the Ukrainian Defense Forces in Chasiv Yar: "If the enemy achieves something there, it will not mean any fatal consequences for the defense of Chasiv Yar, because there are backup logistics routes. In general, this activity in the area of Chasiv Yar is the formation of the northern flank for further encirclement of Ukrainian tactical group defending in the area of Toretsk."

Russian capabilities near Kharkiv and Sumy

The reserve colonel of the Ukrainian Armed Forces believes that strange things are happening there, including the beginning of the formation of the Sever operational group of troops, headed by the commander of the new Leningrad Military District, General Lapin. The grouping included the 11th Army Corps of Kaliningrad, the 44th Army Corps in Karelia, and probably the 138th Brigade of the 6th Combined Arms Army.

"The 44th Corps is being redeployed to these areas in an interesting way, the echelons arriving in the Kursk region unload at very small, almost unknown stations, where there are a minimum of people, a minimum of personnel, and then move to the Belgorod region to their areas of concentration on their own. What all this can mean, I think, is that Russia's goal is, first, to distract the command of the Defense Forces from more important areas, to make it impossible to use, primarily, strategic reserves that may be needed in other operational areas. And, accordingly, the constant threat of raids in the direction of Kharkiv and Sumy will encourage Ukraine's command to keep a certain group of troops in the Siverskyi and Slobozhanskyi operational regions to deter this Russian activity. I don't think we should talk about a major offensive, because there are not enough forces and means there," emphasized the military expert of the Center for Defense Strategies.

The Russian summer offensive

Kevliuk asserts that statements about a major Russian summer offensive are primarily a major information offensive.

"To start something in the summer, the enemy will need at least 60 days to quickly deploy the relevant groups, and this is not happening today. If the enemy manages to achieve some operational success, it will need strategic reserves, and there are no reserves to develop these successes. Now the facade of the Russian government is being renovated, the self-proclaimed (I don't know who) is being inaugurated, and after these processes are completed, if partial mobilization is announced, then I think a major offensive could begin in 90-180 days, but so far I don't see whether such large-scale events can be held this summer. The enemy has neither groups, nor material resources, nor relevant capabilities," the expert explained.

Mobilization to the Ukrainian Armed Forces

Ukraine's need for ammunition has not been met even despite the announced assistance, as some of the promised supplies have yet to be produced.

As for mobilization to the army, the reserve colonel said: "Our politicians have successfully failed everything related to this. What has not been done?" First of all, there is no healthy communication between the state and the population regarding mobilization and the defense of the state in general.  Military service is not organized, no decision has been made in time to deploy reserve components for the Defense Forces, and this is not just the Armed Forces, reserves are also needed in the State Special Communications Service, the Border Guard Service and other components."

He added that the activities of the Territorial Recruitment and Social Support Centers are in disarray, which is getting worse. In addition, the frequent change of military officers and other employees also raises doubts, because a person should have information about the specifics of this work.

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