April 26, 2024

Institute for the Study of War: Russian forces advance north of Avidiivka

Institute for the Study of War

Western media continues to report that select US officials have resumed discussing the idea of “freezing the lines” where they are because the latest package of US military assistance to Ukraine may not be enough for Ukraine to regain all its territory. Supporters of the current package have not claimed that it would by itself allow Ukraine to liberate all occupied territory, and the discussion of possible end states of the war is very premature as President Joe Biden signed the bill authorizing the new package only two days ago. US military assistance is currently en route to Ukraine and will take several weeks to arrive to frontline units and have tangible battlefield impacts. Ukrainian forces will first have to leverage the incoming US aid to stabilize the frontlines and stop ongoing Russian advances, particularly in the Avdiivka and Chasiv Yar directions, in the coming weeks. The scale and intensity of the forecasted Summer 2024 Russian offensive operation that will likely begin in June also remains unclear, and the Russian military command may be actively assessing and revising plans for its summer offensive effort to account for facing better-equipped Ukrainian forces. Ukrainian forces will have to defend against the Russian summer offensive effort and prevent Russian forces from making operationally significant advances over the summer months before Ukrainian forces will be in a position to contest the theater-wide initiative and conduct a counteroffensive operation later in 2024 or 2025. Ukrainian forces must also address their ongoing manpower challenges through training new personnel, equipping new units, and reconstituting old units. The exact timeline for these efforts, which will likely play a significant role in determining the timeline for Ukraine‘s future counteroffensive operations, is unclear. ISW continues to assess that sufficient and consistent Western aid will be critical for future Ukrainian counteroffensive efforts, although the US and the West will likely need to be responsive as the Ukrainian military command determines the scope and focus of such operations and relays Ukraine’s needs to Western partners in the weeks and months preceding future counteroffensive operations. Ukraine’s ability to regain all of its territory in the long term rests on numerous future decisions in the West, in the Kremlin, and in Kyiv, and any discussions that treat the prospects of Ukrainian victory or defeat as predetermined outcomes ignore how all involved parties could dynamically alter the course of the war in Ukraine.

Key Takeaways

  • Western media continues to report that select US officials have resumed discussing the idea of “freezing the lines” where they are because the latest package of US military assistance to Ukraine may not be enough for Ukraine to regain all its territory. Supporters of the current package have not claimed that it would by itself allow Ukraine to liberate all occupied territory, and the discussion of possible end states of the war is very premature as President Joe Biden signed the bill authorizing the new package only two days ago.
  • Public meetings between officials from Russia, Belarus, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Iran, and North Korea have surged in recent days, with at least 10 high-level bilateral meetings between April 22 and 26, underscoring the deepening multilateral partnership these states are constructing to confront the West.
  • PRC officials claimed that NATO bears responsibility for Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine amid meetings between PRC officials and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on April 26.
  • Ukraine’s Western partners continue to provide Ukraine with immediate and longer-term military assistance, particularly for Ukraine’s air defenses.
  • The Ukrainian military has reportedly pulled US-provided M1A1 Abrams tanks from the frontline in part because of the widespread threat of Russian drones and other strikes.
  • Russian authorities continue efforts to expand the definition of prosecutable anti-war sentiment to portray Russians who oppose the war in Ukraine as opposing Russia itself.
  • Russian forces recently made a confirmed advance northwest of Avdiivka, and Ukrainian forces made a confirmed advance in east (left) bank Kherson Oblast, although this advance was likely not recent.
  • Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Tatar-Bashkort service Idel Realii reported on April 26 that Samara Oblast is forming a new “Batyr” volunteer motorized rifle battalion.
  • The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) issued a joint statement on behalf of 45 member states stating that Russia has arbitrarily detained thousands of Ukrainian civilians in occupied Ukraine and subjected them to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.’

For full report:  https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-april-26-2024 

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