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Russian army forms troops for advance on Kharkiv but cannot capture city - ISW

Russian army forms troops for advance on Kharkiv but cannot capture city - ISW The Russian army is amassing troops but will not be able to occupy Kharkiv (photo: UA)

The Russian military is forming the Northern grouping of troops from elements of the Leningrad Military District to conduct operations on the Belgorod-Kharkiv operational direction. The Russian army does not have sufficient forces to capture Kharkiv or Sumy, however, any operations in the direction of these cities will divert forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine from other fronts, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

The department refers to information from Ukrainian military observer Kostyantyn Mashovets, according to which Russian troops continue to transfer newly formed military units of the 44th Army Corps (AC) to the Northern grouping of troops within the Leningrad Military District (LMD).

According to the analyst, as of May 3, Russian troops have transferred personnel and equipment of the 30th Motorized Rifle Regiment (72nd Motorized Rifle Division, 44th AC, LMD) and the 128th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade to the Northern grouping of troops. The Russian army pretended to unload troops and equipment at railway stations in isolated areas of the Kursk region for further relocation to the Northern grouping of troops, presumably to then march to deployment areas in the Belgorod region.

Mashovets noted that the units of the 30th Motorized Rifle Regiment were initially relocated to the Kursk railway station and then transferred further to the Belgorod region, presumably to move to concentration areas near the Kharkiv region.

In addition, the analyst reminded that Russian troops have recently intensified air, drone, and missile strikes on the northeastern border regions of Ukraine, such as Chernihiv, Sumy, and Kharkiv regions.

Mashovets reiterated ISW's earlier assessment that the Russian Northern grouping of troops is unlikely to be able to carry out a successful offensive operation to capture Kharkiv and suggested that elements of the Russian 11th AC, 44th AC, and 6th AC (all - LMD) may subsequently attempt to conduct limited offensive actions or cross-border raids into the territory of the Kharkiv and Sumy regions.

"Ukrainian officials have increasingly warned about the threat of a possible future Russian offensive operation to seize Kharkiv city. ISW continues to assess that the Russian military lacks the forces necessary to seize the city but that Russian offensive operations against Kharkiv or Sumy cities would draw and fix Ukrainian forces from other, more critical parts of the frontline," the ISW report said.

Advance on Kharkiv

Recently, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Oleksandr Syrskyi, stated that Russia is increasing its military presence in Kharkiv and strengthening the most dangerous areas in this direction.

Over the past few months, the Russian army has intensified shelling of Kharkiv. At the same time, Kremlin propagandists are trying to intimidate the population with the risk of a large-scale offensive and occupation, which could provoke mass migration from the city.

However, for a possible occupation of Kharkiv, the enemy will need several years.

On the night of May 5, the Russian army shelled Kharkiv several times, first with Shahed drones, and later with guided air bombs.

On the night of May 6, the enemy shelled Kharkiv and Sumy, and in the cities, there was a partial loss of electricity and water supply.