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Northern front: What Ukraine's Defense Minister warns about and where Russia might launch attack

Northern front: What Ukraine's Defense Minister warns about and where Russia might launch attack Photo: Ukrainian Forces prepare to repel Northern offensive (Getty Images)

Russian forces may be preparing to open a new front in northern Ukraine. Defense Minister Rustem Umerov warns of a possible enemy breakthrough.

Military-political analyst of the Information Resistance group, Oleksandr Kovalenko, shared insights with RBC-Ukraine on where exactly the new northern front might emerge.


What Umerov revealed

In an interview with Reuters, Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov disclosed that Russia is deploying increasing numbers of troops and equipment to the front lines, despite the full-scale invasion having lasted for two years and three months.

The defense forces managed to stabilize a new front in the northeastern part of Kharkiv region, which emerged on May 10. However, Rustem Umerov warns that Moscow is preparing for another breakthrough.

"Their objective is to open a new front in the north to start using all their manpower, firing power, against us, they are continuing with their objective to destroy the nation," he stated.

According to him, the Armed Forces of Ukraine are holding their ground for now, but more weapons and long-range missiles are needed to prevent a breakthrough in the new area. Ukraine is grateful for the assistance received, but only half of what was promised has been delivered. The enemy is fully exploiting these delays in supply.

Possible directions of a Northern offensive

Reports about an offensive targeting the Kharkiv and Sumy regions emerged in April. On May 10, Russian forces began advancing towards Kharkiv and Vovchansk, but were halted after two weeks.

Despite this, they have not abandoned the idea of advancing in the Sumy region. Sources within military structures confirm to RBC-Ukraine that the enemy has all the prerequisites in place for this.

Since late last year, Russian forces have been actively employing sabotage and reconnaissance groups in Sumy. These groups aim to identify Ukrainian positions, defensive lines, and inflict damage.

Regarding potential targets, a large-scale offensive on Sumy seems unlikely. The exact direction the enemy will choose is still unclear. It could be from the Kursk region towards Sumy via the town of Sudzha, along the Rylsk-Troebortnoe line towards Hlukhiv and Putyvl, or even from the Belgorod region.

Northern front: What Ukraine's Defense Minister warns about and where Russia might launch attack

Photo: Possible directions of attack in the Sumy region (

Read more in the material Threat from north: Will Russia invade Sumy region and where offensive might begin.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also mentioned the new front. According to him, enemy groups are gathering 90 km northwest of Kharkiv, directly opposite the Sumy region. Some reports indicate that there are already between 10,000 to 15,000 Russian soldiers in that area.

Oleksandr Kovalenko, a military-political analyst from the Information Resistance group, considers a new front in the Sumy region to be the most obvious, given the extensive discussions about it.

"Russians have recently been concentrating forces and equipment in the Kursk region. This means there could be a threat to the Sumy direction," he stated in a comment to RBC-Ukraine.

On the other hand, it is unclear exactly what Umerov meant. It is quite possible that the military is preparing to repel possible attacks in other directions as well.

"I can only say that there is indeed a risk of a border scenario, as in the Kharkiv region. The Russians have fewer forces and means directly in the Kursk region, but they might attempt something," the expert added.

He does not rule out that the Bryansk group of troops could launch a raiding diversion somewhere in the border area of the Chernihiv region.

"But it's not about a breakthrough to Kyiv or anything like that," Kovalenko said.

How events might unfold

Even if the Russian forces open a front in the Sumy direction, it is likely to be a raiding operation with attempts to advance or simulate border skirmishes. Capturing or encircling Sumy would require significantly more forces than they currently have in the Kursk region.

Therefore, any offensive actions will be much weaker than those in the northeastern part of the Kharkiv region.

"They have concentrated a lot of forces and means there. In the Bryansk and Kursk regions, their potential is approximately four times less. If they try to organize something, it will be about four times less powerful," explained Oleksandr Kovalenko.

In such a scenario, the Defense Forces will be able to localize the breakthrough even faster. The Russian army will operate in the gray zone, and the main task of the Ukrainian Armed Forces will be to limit their actions. As in the Kharkiv region, where they are trapped between two rivers, stuck in the village of Lyptsi, unable to move, and essentially blocked.

"Meanwhile, they are losing a huge amount of resources. It is more advantageous for us to exhaust them this way. If they want to get into another trap, let them," he noted.

Is there a threat of a new front from Belarus

Recently, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk. Both made statements about the war and agreed not to recognize the legitimacy of the Ukrainian government.

Prior to this, Russian combat aviation began returning to Belarusian airfields. Today, according to monitoring Telegram channels, seven Su-type aircraft flew in Belarusian airspace along the northern border of Ukraine.

This has raised concerns about whether Russia is preparing to open a northern front from Belarus. However, Oleksandr Kovalenko believes there is no such threat.

"If something were to start happening there, we would know about it very soon. There is no formation of a strike group observed. Nothing is happening in terms of creating strike formations for a breakthrough," he noted.

In his opinion, it is unlikely that Lukashenko is interested in once again providing his territory for Putin's offensive forces.

"Will he yield to Putin now, when Russia is demonstrably losing resources and capabilities? No, it is not logical at all. The question is rather whether he will provide his army. The answer is no, he will not," concluded the expert.