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ISW reports on concentration of Russians at border and prospects of future offensives

ISW reports on concentration of Russians at border and prospects of future offensives Illustrative photo (photo: Getty Images)

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has identified three locations within Russia where the Russian army is concentrated. Experts believe the number of forces present is limited; however, even this number could compel Ukraine to redeploy and stretch its troops along the state border in the event of the onset of offensive actions, according to the ISW report.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has assessed that Russian forces are concentrating in the Grayvoron-Borisovka-Proletarsky area in the western part of the Belgorod region.

Satellite images suggest that Russian troops have expanded activities at bases and storage facilities in these settlements in recent weeks. However, the current size of this possible concentration remains unclear, according to ISW experts.

The Grayvoron-Borisovka-Proletarsky area would provide Russian forces with the capability to launch offensive operations southward towards Zolochiv and Bohodukhiv, two Ukrainian towns northwest of Kharkiv within 25 kilometers of the international border, or westward towards settlements along the R-45 highway, which connects Bohodukhiv with Sumy, the report states.

ISW suggests that the Russian army could conduct offensive operations in one or both directions simultaneously, and the concentration of Russians here could force Ukrainian forces to redeploy troops across a larger section of the border in the Kharkiv and Sumy regions.

Russian forces are also concentrating limited forces in Kursk and Bryansk regions near the border with the Sumy region.

The Institute's analysts believe that even a limited concentration in these areas could achieve the probable desired effect of further drawing and tying down Ukrainian forces along the international border.

The Russian armed forces are currently bringing the Northern Group of Forces near the border to its planned final strength and are likely to conduct only limited offensive actions in the Sumy-Kharkiv direction until the Northern Group approaches its final strength, ISW predicts.

"Even limited Russian offensive operations in these areas will add pressure that stretches Ukrainian manpower and materiel along a wider front and possibly allow Russian forces to establish tactical footholds to support subsequent operations either northwest of Kharkiv city or in the direction of Sumy city," the report states.

However, the Northern Group of Forces, even reaching the upper limit of its declared final strength, will not have the necessary manpower required to conduct a successful encirclement or capture operation of Kharkiv or Sumy, ISW believes.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated yesterday, May 26, that Russia is assembling another group of forces near the border with Ukraine. The Russian army is preparing an offensive 90 kilometers northwest of Kharkiv.

The State Border Service stated that the Russian army is maintaining its units near the border with the Sumy region, but these forces are insufficient for a successful offensive, while the Ukrainian Defense Forces are ready for any scenario.