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Russians prepare for second phase of offensive in Kharkiv Oblast and redeploy reserves – ISW

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Russians prepare for second phase of offensive in Kharkiv Oblast and redeploy reserves – ISW

The build-up of Russian forces in Kharkiv Oblast has indicated that they are likely to make efforts to push Ukrainian forces out of critically important areas of the battlefield in Ukraine’s east and create a so-called buffer zone in the north of Kharkiv Oblast. By doing so, the Russians are intending to launch the second phase of their offensive in Kharkiv Oblast.

Source: Institute for the Study of War (ISW)

Details: Oleksandr Syrskyi, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported on 30 May that Russian forces were redeploying their troops from other fronts and training grounds to the Strilecha-Lyptsi area (to the north of Kharkiv) and Vovchansk (to the northeast of Kharkiv).

Syrskyi reported that the Russian forces concentrated in the north of Kharkiv Oblast did not have enough manpower to carry out a full-scale offensive and break through Ukraine’s defences there. 

Oleh Syniehubov, Head of Kharkiv Oblast Military Administration, declared that Russian troops were moving reserves to the Lyptsi and Vovchansk fronts in order to draw and entrench as many Ukrainian forces as possible in the north of Kharkiv Oblast and maintain the current pace of the Russian offensive there.

Russian forces are likely planning to start the second phase of their offensive operations in the north of Kharkiv Oblast after the planned capture of Vovchansk.

The ISW estimated that Russian forces were likely to hold back many of its Northern Grouping of Forces’s reserves. The grouping would not have the manpower to mount a successful operation to surround or capture the city of Kharkiv, even at the upper end of its stated final number of 50,000-70,000. 

To quote the ISW’s Key Takeaways on 30 May:  

US President Joe Biden reportedly approved a policy change that will permit Ukraine to use US-provided weapons, including GMLRS rockets – but not longer-range ATACMS missiles – to strike within Russian territory near the border with Kharkiv Oblast.
Ukraine’s European allies continue to announce their support for allowing Ukraine to use Western-provided weapons to strike military targets in Russia.
Senior Ukrainian military officials reported that Russian forces are transferring forces to northern Kharkiv Oblast from other sectors of the front line, indicating that the Russian military continues to prioritise efforts to draw and fix Ukrainian forces in northern Kharkiv Oblast.
French officials reportedly may soon announce that France is sending military trainers to Ukraine.
Western countries continue efforts to increase artillery production and procurement for Ukraine.
NATO member states reportedly lack sufficient air defenсe capabilities to protect members of the Alliance in Central and Eastern Europe in the event of a full-scale attack.
The Russian government approved a package of amendments to the Russian tax code on 30 May that will introduce a progressive income tax scale starting in 2025, marginally placing some of the financial burdens of Russia’s long-war effort in Ukraine onto Russia’s wealthy elite.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin continued efforts to address Russia’s ongoing demographic crisis as part of the „Year of the Family“ 2024 domestic policy initiative.
Russian peacekeepers in Moldova’s Russian-backed breakaway republic of Transnistria are reportedly conducting a month-long unauthorised inspection of their armoured vehicles and may conduct further provocations in the coming months.
Ukrainian forces recently advanced near Vovchansk, and Russian forces recently advanced near Chasiv Yar, Avdiivka, and Donetsk City and in the east (left) bank of Kherson Oblast.
Russia formed a new unnamed airborne (VDV) regiment based in occupied Crimea, which currently operates on the Zaporizhzhia front.

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