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The Russians will face challenges in launching attacks due to adverse weather conditions and inability to perform manoeuvres — ISW

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Estimated Reading Time: 3 min

Recent offensive operations by Russian troops aim to exploit two strategic opportunities – the impending spring thaw and challenges in Western assistance to Ukraine. However, these factors won’t provide the aggressor with significant operational advantages, limiting their ability to maneuver swiftly over large areas.

According to a report from the Institute for the Study of War, Ukraine is entering the «thaw» season, where the spring thaw makes mechanized movements challenging, slowing down offensive operations along the front line. Some Russian bloggers note that the spring-like conditions in southern Ukraine hinder deploying reserves to reinforce the Defense Forces in the Zaporizhzhia region.

Russian forces may be attempting tactical advances during favorable terrain and weather conditions to exhaust Ukrainian forces and secure advantageous positions before facing real challenges. The Institute for the Study of War suggests that the Russian military command is aware that promised European assistance, including artillery ammunition, will likely take effect by autumn 2024.

Despite the increase in European security assistance, it may not fully address the equipment gap caused by the complete cessation of US military aid, especially in modern air defense systems like surface-to-air missiles for the Patriot system.

The Institute of Warfare assesses the results of the Russian operation to capture Avdiivka, noting that while the aggressor advanced almost nine kilometers in four months, they suffered substantial losses. The inability to complete a full operational encirclement of Avdiivka and the withdrawal of Ukrainian units from the city in a normal manner are highlighted.

Russian forces managed to pull Ukrainian troops back, forcing the use of limited Ukrainian stocks of critical equipment, but without securing significant operational advantages. This pattern is expected to repeat in current offensive operations in the Kharkiv-Luhansk border and the western part of Zaporizhzhia.

The Institute for the Study of Warfare emphasizes that Russian troops haven’t demonstrated the ability to provide significant operational advantages or execute rapid mechanized maneuvers over large areas. The capture of Avdiivka shouldn’t be seen as a demonstration of such capability.

The report distinguishes between tactical and operational gains, noting that Russian forces, since October 2023, moved less than 10 kilometers in and around Avdiivka. Additionally, Avdiivka is almost 60 kilometers from the Donetsk region’s border, requiring large-scale and sophisticated cross-country maneuvers to reach it in a short time.

Russian troops have yet to demonstrate the ability to execute such maneuvers, whether near Avdiivka or any other part of the frontline. Despite a potential Russian offensive targeting Kupyansk, the likelihood of pushing Ukrainian forces to the left bank of the Oskil River remains uncertain. The ISW report notes that Russian troops in the Kupyansk direction have maintained positions in small tactical areas for months. Additionally, Russian offensives south of Orikhiv are expected to face limitations, with little advancement beyond the village itself due to climatic difficulties mentioned earlier.

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