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ISW reveals reasons for intensification of Russian assaults in Donetsk region

ISW reveals reasons for intensification of Russian assaults in Donetsk region Russian forces have withdrawn Ukrainian forces to the Kharkiv region to intensify attacks in Donetsk (photo: Vitalii Nosach/RBC-Ukraine)

The Russian army has intensified its offensive operations in the Donetsk region while simultaneously reducing the number of attacks in the northern part of the Kharkiv region. This indicates that the Russian forces are trying to distract the Defense Forces to intensify their advance in other areas of the theater of operations, according to a report by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

It is noted that on the night of June 18, the Russian forces increased the intensity of attacks on the Toretsk-Horlivka direction to the southwest of Chasiv Yar and the northeast of Avdiivka, and maintained a relatively high intensity of attacks in this area from June 19 to 22, achieving several tactical victories.

The report reminded us that the Russian army had shown no activity in this sector of the front since the beginning of the year, so their activation and intensification deserve attention. At the same time, in recent days, the invaders have sharply reduced the pace of offensive operations in the northern part of the Kharkiv region, compared to the beginning of the offensive in mid-May 2024.

"The Russian command intended its offensive operation in Kharkiv region to fix Ukrainian manpower and scarce materiel along the northern border to grant Russian forces opportunities to re-intensify offensive operations in other more critical areas of the theater, particularly in Donetsk region," the ISW report said.

The Institute for the Study of War noted that sources in the Armed Forces confirmed that some Ukrainian forces had redeployed units to the Kharkiv direction from the Donetsk region, so Russian forces could use this anticipated weakness in the positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to intensify attacks, especially in the Toretsk-Horlivka direction.

Furthermore, the ISW report states that after the reduction in activity in the Kharkiv region, Russian forces are maintaining a high intensity of shelling towards Chasiv Yar and around Avdiivka. Analysts suggest that the invaders may soon intensify attacks in this area if the Russian command determines the coming weeks as a favorable time for advances in these areas before the Armed Forces of Ukraine redeploy reserves back to the Donetsk region.

"Ukrainian sources have warned that Russia will conduct a summer offensive that will likely focus on Ukraine's east after pursuing offensive operations in the north intended to stretch Ukraine's scarce resources, and recent intensifications in Donetsk region may indicate preparations for such a summer offensive, assuming it has not already begun," the ISW report said.

Current situation on the frontline

In the operational-strategic grouping Khortytsia, it was noted that on June 22, Russian soldiers suspended hostilities in the Kharkiv region and withdrew their units for replenishment due to significant losses.

Instead, the Russian army shelled Kharkiv with guided aerial bombs. As a result of the attack, three people were killed, and dozens were injured.

According to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, on June 22, 133 combat clashes were recorded on the frontline. The most intense situation is observed in the Pokrovsk and Toretsk directions.

The Institute for the Study of War suggests that the intensification of attacks in the Toretsk direction is related to the Russian attempt to strengthen the offensive on Chasiv Yar from the south.