ISW: Ukrainian success in Kherson and Kharkiv presents ru with terrible space-time dilemma

September 12,2022 465
ISW: Ukrainian success in Kherson and Kharkiv presents ru with terrible space-time dilemma

According to the latest update of the Institute for the Study of War, “The Ukrainian recapture of Izyum ended the prospect that Russia could accomplish its stated objectives in Donetsk Oblast. After retreating from Kyiv in early April, the stated Russian objectives had been to seize the complete territory of Luhansk and Donetsk Oblasts.

“The Russian campaign to achieve these objectives was an attack along an arc from Izyum through Severodonetsk to the area near Donetsk City. That attack aimed to seize Severodonetsk, Lysychansk, Slovyansk, Bakhmut, and Kramatorsk, and continue to the western boundary of Donetsk Oblast.

“Russian forces managed to take Severodonetsk on June 24 and Lysychansk on July 3 after a long and extremely costly campaign but then largely culminated, seizing no major settlements and little territory. The Russian position around Izyum still threatened Ukrainian defenders of Slovyansk, however, and retained for the Russians the opportunity to return to the attack on the northern sectors and Bakhmut.

“The loss of Izyum dooms the initial Russian campaign plan for this phase of the war and ensures that Russian advances toward Bakhmut or around Donetsk City cannot be decisive (if they occur at all).

“There is no basis for assessing that the counter-offensive announced in Kherson Oblast is merely a feint. Ukrainian forces have reportedly attacked and made gains at several important locations on the western bank of the Dnipro River. They have cut the two bridges across the river and continue to keep them cut as well as interfere with Russian efforts to maintain supply via barge and pontoon ferry.

“The current counter-offensive will not end the war. The campaign in northeast Ukraine will eventually culminate, allowing the Russians to re-establish a tenable defensive line and possibly even conduct localized counterattacks. Ukraine will have to launch subsequent counter-offensive operations, likely several, to finish the liberation of Russian-occupied territory. The war remains likely to stretch into 2023.”