Friday, May 24, 2024

Russia Inches Forward in East Ukraine Amid Questions on Kyiv’s War Updates

HomeWARRussia Inches Forward in East Ukraine Amid Questions on Kyiv's War Updates

In a dynamic and fluid battlefield situation, Russian forces appear to be gaining tactical ground in several locations across eastern Ukraine. While the territorial gains are relatively modest so far, daily advances of a few hundred meters to a kilometer are now routine along parts of the frontline.

This increased tempo follows Russia’s capture in February of the industrial town of Avdiivka, which marked a significant symbolic and strategic victory for Moscow’s forces after months of grinding attritional warfare. The losses for Ukraine are accumulating, prompting criticism from influential military bloggers who accuse the armed forces of painting an overly optimistic picture of the situation.

Intense Fighting Around Donetsk

One of the main focal points is the Donetsk region, where open source intelligence reports depict Russian units making simultaneous pushes at multiple points along a 20-25 kilometer stretch of the frontlines.

The independent Ukrainian monitoring group DeepState, which meticulously tracks shifts in territorial control, documented Russian advances over a 24-hour period in eight different locations in this area of operations.

Military bloggers on both sides report that Russian troops have crossed a water obstacle and seized the settlements of Semenivka and Berdychi. This was confirmed by the commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, General Oleksandr Syrskyi, who said up to four Russian brigades were involved in offensive operations there.

A few kilometers to the north, the villages of Soloviove and parts of Keramik also appear to have fallen under Russian control after heavy fighting, according to online reports.

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Fierce urban combat is ongoing around the industrial town of Krasnohorivka, with Russian units attacking from the south and east in an effort to capture a large refractory brick factory considered key terrain. One Russian military blogger stated that “the liberation (sic) of the refractory plant would actually mean the fall of the Krasnohorivka fortification.”

First Gains in Kharkiv in Months

Significantly, Russian forces have also achieved their first reported territorial advances in almost three months in the northern Kharkiv region. This area of the frontlines has been largely static since Ukraine’s forces liberated swaths of the region in a lightning counter-offensive last fall.

But now a Ukrainian army spokesman acknowledged Russian units have become “significantly more active” in Kharkiv over the past day. DeepState assessed a Russian advance of 1-2 kilometers into the village of Kyslivka.

While isolated incidents, these localized gains in multiple sectors point to a renewed offensive push by Moscow’s troops to regain momentum and make tangible progress.

Criticism of Ukraine’s Battlefield Messaging

As losses mount, influential Ukrainian military bloggers like the anonymous “Myroshnykov” and the DeepState group itself have taken aim at official communications from Kyiv regarding the situation on the frontlines.

They accuse the armed forces of issuing increasingly unrealistic and over-optimistic assessments that gloss over setbacks and downplay Russian advances. DeepState, for example, disputed a claim by a Ukrainian spokesperson that two-thirds of the villages of Soloviove and Ocheretyne remained under Kyiv’s control.

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The monitoring group stated Russian troops had controlled the center of Ocheretyne, including the railway station, for at least three days. It used graphic drone footage of a Russian soldier being killed to argue that isolated incidents were being overemphasized, while the bigger picture of territorial losses was being obscured.

“You can watch with pleasure forever the video of a Russian being torn to pieces,” DeepState wrote, “but nearby there is another location that requires attention: Muscovites calmly moving around the village, keeping it under control.”

General Syrskyi appeared to acknowledge the criticism, stating “there is a dynamic change in the situation, some positions change hands several times a day, which give rise to an ambiguous understanding of the situation.”

However, he also warned bluntly that “the situation at the front has escalated” and that Russia had managed to concentrate forces to create “a significant advantage” in numbers and firepower in key areas.

A Prelude to a Bigger Offensive?

Many Western military analysts assess the current increased tempo from Russian forces as likely preparations and probing actions ahead of an even larger offensive push expected in the coming weeks or months.

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The Institute for the Study of War stated “Russian forces will likely make significant tactical gains in the coming weeks as Ukraine waits for US security assistance to arrive at the front but remain unlikely to overwhelm Ukrainian defenses.”

With its missile and artillery stockpiles heavily depleted after over a year of combat operations, Ukraine is awaiting the arrival of newly promised ammunition and weaponry from the United States following six months of bureaucratic delays.

Russia, meanwhile, is taking advantage of its current supremacy in fires to make incremental advances before that window closes.

Another key factor is manpower. While the quality of Moscow’s infantry remains questionable, Russia’s ability to consistently muster quantitative overmatch against Ukraine’s forces in localized sectors is viewed as decisive.

“Without manpower advantage, Russia’s artillery and airpower advantage would not be sufficient for Russia to make gains,” assessed one military analyst. “The relative manpower situation is likely the most important factor that will determine the war’s trajectory.”

As both sides burn through personnel at prodigious rates, the coming months are likely to see more fierce attritional battles across the ravaged Donbas region in what could be a pivotal period determining Ukraine’s fortunes and the ultimate outcome of the biggest ground war in Europe since World War II.



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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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