ua en ru

ISW explained why Russians want to seize Vovchansk in Kharkiv region

ISW explained why Russians want to seize Vovchansk in Kharkiv region Photo: shelling of Vovchansk (screenshot from Suspilno's video)

In the Kharkiv region, Russian forces are reportedly attempting to swiftly isolate the area of ​​combat operations east of the Siverskyi Donets River and seize Vovchansk - a direction of advancement that, according to Russian command, may pose a threat to the Ukrainian grouping defending the Kupiansk direction, informs the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

ISW has geolocation images from May 11th, which document the destruction by Russians of a bridge over the dam of the Siverskyi Donets River in Staryi Saltiv (southwest of Vovchansk), as well as a strike on the bridge over the Vovcha River, connecting Tykhe and Vovchanski Khutory (both west of Vovchansk).

Analysts suggest that the occupiers demolished the bridges in order to isolate Ukrainian forces operating on both sides of the water bodies, preventing them from reinforcing the defense near Vovchansk.

Russia's attempts to destroy Ukrainian ground lines of communication (GLOC) southwest and east of Vovchansk indicate that Russian forces may focus on capturing Vovchansk instead of bypassing the populated area or expanding the front further east along the border between Russia and Ukraine.

The Institute speculates that the occupiers may also intend to conduct offensive actions near Vovchansk to pressure the operational rear of Ukrainian forces defending against Russian attacks on the Kupiansk direction, diverting Ukrainian units defending in the Kupiansk area.

The Russian foothold in Vovchansk does little to advance Russian efforts towards Kharkiv, though Russians may believe that a foothold in this settlement could enable them to launch offensive operations towards Velykyi Burluk.

ISW notes that Russia's advance south of Vovchansk will require long movements across open terrain — a capability Russian forces have not demonstrated over the past year and a half of fighting in Ukraine.

As military expert Vladyslav Seleznov previously noted, Vovchansk is well fortified, but control over it depends on the resources the occupiers are willing to sacrifice.

According to DeepState information as of the night of May 12th, Russian forces have occupied the villages of Pletenivka and Ohirtseve and are moving towards Vovchansk.

Currently, there are approximately 300-400 local residents remaining in the city.