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ISW explained why Russia launched offensive in Kharkiv region

ISW explained why Russia launched offensive in Kharkiv region Russia is trying to create a buffer zone on the border in the Kharkiv region (photo: Getty Images)

The ongoing Russian operations in northern Kharkiv region are part of a plan to create a buffer zone to protect Russia's border areas from Ukrainian military strikes, according to a report by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

The report reminded that Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to a journalist's question about the objectives of Russian forces in the Kharkiv direction. He noted that the Russian army was succeeding according to plan and that Russian troops did not have immediate plans to capture Kharkiv.

According to Putin, Russian offensive operations in the Kharkiv direction are intended to create a buffer zone to protect Russian border areas, including the city of Belgorod, from strikes by Ukraine.

"ISW previously assessed that Russian forces appear to be prioritizing the establishment of a buffer zone along the international border over setting conditions for deeper penetrations into northern Kharkiv region," the report said.

Strategic goal is to stretch forces on the front line

The Institute continues to assess that Russian offensive operations along the Kharkiv international border have a strategic goal of engaging and pinning down Ukrainian forces in this axis to facilitate Russia's advance in other areas of Eastern Ukraine.

ISW believes that even limited Russian activity in other segments of the international border below the threshold of Russian offensive operations could lead to the stretching of Ukrainian forces along a wider front.

Russian forces will be able to distract and tie down Ukrainian forces in the border area until Russia maintains its presence in the northern Kharkiv region and threatens to penetrate other border areas.

"Russian forces have shown a propensity for conducting offensive operations along different sectors of the front in pulses with one sector decreasing in intensity as another increases, and Russian forces may slow offensive operations in northern Kharkiv region for a time but resume the tempo at a later time of their choosing," the report said.

Russian advance in the Kharkiv region

At the end of last week, Russia began an offensive operation in the Kharkiv region. The Russian forces crossed the Russian-Ukrainian state border, captured several villages, and northern districts of the town of Vovchansk.

After several days of fighting, the Armed Forces halted the enemy's advance toward Kharkiv and stabilized the front line.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated that with the operation in the Kharkiv direction, the Russians are attempting to weaken the Ukrainian Armed Forces along the entire front line.