Approaching Kharkiv, Russian army pushes kyiv to expand front – rts.ch

Since Friday, May 10, Russian forces have been advancing along the border in northeastern Ukraine, and are closing in on Kharkiv. However, the Kremlin’s immediate objective does not appear to be the country’s second largest city, but rather to force Kew to clear the rest of the front line.

Since last week, Russian troops have again crossed the border and launched a ground offensive in the northeastern part of Ukraine, in the Kharkiv region. According to Ukraine’s National Defense and Security Council, 30,000 Russian soldiers are involved in this new offensive.

Within four days, Kremlin troops were able to capture several positions and advance towards the village of Liptsi (north of Kharkiv) and Volsansk (northeast of Kharkiv), creating a total of two pockets along the border. 130 square kilometers.

In red, the Russian advance in northeastern Ukraine. In green, territories liberated by Ukraine since the start of the war. (Data as of May 13, 2024) [(https://deepstatemap.live) – RTSinfo]

Expected surgery

On Tuesday, the director of Ukrainian military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, announced on public television that the situation in the Kharkiv region was “stabilizing”. An announcement confirmed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, but denied by Moscow, explains for its part that the western and northern parts of Volchansk “have come under the control of Russian forces”.

>> See the 7:30pm report on the first day of the ground offensive in the Kharkiv area:

Russia launched a ground offensive in the Kharkiv region in northeastern Ukraine

Russia launches ground offensive in north-eastern Ukraine’s Kharkiv region / 7:30 pm / 2 min. / Friday at 7:30 p.m

If the situation wasn’t clear, it is clear that this is a failure for Kyiv, because the operation was expected. Since the beginning of the year, various Ukrainian intelligence reports have indicated that the Russian military is redeploying units for a new offensive along the northern border.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov specifically threatened to attack Kharkiv Oblast in Belgorod to protect themselves from cross-border attacks.

On May 13, 2024, local residents evacuated to Kharkiv due to Russian shelling near the city of Vovsansk, Kharkiv province.  In total, at least 6,000 residents had to be evacuated over the past few days. [REUTERS - Stringer]
Local residents evacuate to Kharkiv due to Russian shelling near the town of Volsansk, Kharkiv province, on May 13, 2024. In total, at least 6,000 residents had to be evacuated over the past few days. [REUTERS – Stringer]

To explain this failure of the Ukrainian army, military experts point to the border area where it was difficult to establish fortifications. Since the start of the war, it has actually been under constant Russian fire.

Experts continue to highlight persistent shortages of ammunition, military equipment and personnel to counter Russian attacks.

Units are simply not ready to fight

Konstantin Kalinovsky, Ukrainian soldier

However, the problem is undoubtedly deeper, as Konstantin Kalinovsky, a veteran of the Ukrainian army, explains on the social network, the main problem is that the command (…) units that failed to prepare for the expected Russian attack simply did not exist. It’s not just the lack of bulwarks that make it ready to fight, it’s disunity, poor communication, poor positioning.

>> Check out Laurent Burkhalter’s analysis of the first day of the Russian offensive in the Kharkiv region at 7:30 p.m.:

Laurent Burkhalter takes on the Russian military offensive in the Kharkiv region

Laurent Burkhalter takes on the Russian army-led offensive in the Kharkiv region / 7:30 pm / 1 min. / Friday at 7:30 p.m

An observation shared by Frontelligence Insight. “This is the result of systemic problems resulting from a lack of understanding of the brigade’s capabilities and readiness and personnel training issues, leading to an inability to effectively deploy and allocate resources when needed,” details System X in the Ukrainian Conflict and Open Source Research.

Our top military and political leaders do not like negative reports. Reporting problems is frustrating

Konstantin Kalinovsky, Ukrainian soldier

In a sign of tension within the high command, Volodymyr Zelensky announced on Monday that he was sacking and replacing the commander of Ukrainian troops on the Northeastern Front. For Konstantin Kalinovsky, this conclusion is reasonable, but the underlying problem is undoubtedly more hierarchical.

“Our top military and political leaders do not like negative reports. There is a reluctance to report problems. This leads to commanders not wanting to seek help and not reporting the true situation, instead trying to squash problems in the hope that they will never erupt,” he analysed.

Kharkiv, not reached

If recent Russian developments demonstrate some of the shortcomings of the Ukrainian military, analysts caution against any interpretation.

Moscow’s forces were able to advance relatively quickly to the northeast, but these were often lightly defended and largely unpopulated territories. The actual defense lines lie a little further south between Kharkiv and the border towns.

For many experts, the Russian offensive aims to create a buffer zone to protect Belgorod and force Ukrainian troops to withdraw from the rest of the front. Asked by The New York TimesFranz-Stefan Gady, a military analyst, explains that the aim was to unquestionably distance Ukrainian forces from Chassiv Yar, one of the last strongholds in Donetsk Oblast, further south.

>> Read more on this topic: The reported fall of Tchassiv Yar, one of the last Ukrainian strongholds in the Donetsk region?

In green, territories liberated by Ukraine since the start of the war.  In Bordeaux, territory annexed by Russia during the Donbass War.  In red, Ukrainian territory occupied by Russia since February 2022. [(https://deepstatemap.live) - RTSinfo]

In green, territories liberated by Ukraine since the start of the war. In Bordeaux, territory annexed by Russia during the Donbass War. In red, Ukrainian territory occupied by Russia since February 2022. [(https://deepstatemap.live) – RTSinfo]

Many analysts have already detected the arrival of reinforcements from units that recently fought in the Tchassiv Yar area, such as the 92nd Assault Brigade. However, it is not now possible to say whether these people were transplanted from Chasiv, or whether they were units that stayed in Kharkiv.

With 30,000 men, the Russians did not have enough forces to directly attack Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city of 1.3 million people. “The least likely hypothesis is that Russia is trying to capture the city,” he says At Le Picaro An anonymous French officer.

No progress or great success. So Russia above all seeks to create a new threat to force Ukraine to reallocate its resources and its men. “The Ukrainians are in the situation of the Germans in 1944: they still had strong units, but not enough to hold all the fronts,” the official concluded in the French newspaper.

Adding to the potential threat, the Russians have concentrated forces on the other side of the border opposite the town of Sumy, about 150km northwest of Kharkiv.

Tristan Herdick

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