April 27, 2024

Institute for the Study of War: Russian forces continue advance north of Avdiivka

Institute for the Study of War

Russian forces will likely make significant tactical gains in the coming weeks as Ukraine waits for US security assistance to arrive at the front but remain unlikely to overwhelm Ukrainian defenses. Politico reported on April 26 that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told US Speaker of the House Mike Johnson in December 2023 that Ukrainian forces would be able to “hold out” until March or April 2024 without additional US security assistance, a period through which Ukrainian forces are now passing without the arrival of US military aid. The arrival of US aid at the front in the coming weeks will allow the Ukrainian forces to address their current materiel constraints and blunt ongoing Russian offensive operations, and Russian forces appear to be intensifying efforts to destabilize Ukrainian defenses and gain ground ahead of the arrival of the American security assistance. Two Ukrainian intelligence officers reportedly told the Financial Times that Russian forces aim to use ongoing offensive operations and missile strikes against Ukraine to prepare the battlefield for an expected large-scale Russian offensive operation in late May or in June. The Financial Times reported that a Western official stated that Russian forces may make further “tactical breakthroughs” in the coming weeks but will not “overrun” Ukraine. Russian forces have opportunities to make significant tactical gains in the Avdiivka area and pursue an operationally significant objective with the seizure of Chasiv Yar; but, neither of these efforts is likely to develop into an operationally significant penetration in the near term, let alone cause the collapse of the Ukrainian defensive line in Donetsk Oblast.

Russian forces are continuing to exploit a tactical penetration north and northwest of Avdiivka and recently made additional confirmed advances in the area. Geolocated footage published on April 27 shows that Russian forces advanced to northern Novokalynove (north of Avdiivka), and Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces completely seized the settlement on April 27. Some milbloggers also claimed that Russian forces advanced into Keramik (directly northwest of Novokalynove), although ISW has not yet observed visual evidence of Russian forces in Keramik. Geolocated footage published on April 27 also shows that Russian forces advanced in western Ocheretyne, in southwestern Solovyove, and to a treeline south of Novobakhmutivka (all northwest of Avdiivka). Milbloggers claimed that Russian forces captured the entirety of Solovyove, which is consistent with available geolocated footage of Russian forces in the southwestern part of the settlement. Several Russian sources also claimed that fierce fighting continued in western Berdychi (northwest of Avdiivka) and that Russian forces were pushing Ukrainian forces further west of the settlement.

Key Takeaways

  • Russian forces will likely make significant tactical gains in the coming weeks as Ukraine waits for US security assistance to arrive at the front but remains unlikely to overwhelm Ukrainian defenses.
  • Well-provisioned Ukrainian forces will likely be able to prevent operationally significant Russian advances during Russia’s expected summer offensive effort, although Russian forces will nevertheless leverage select advantages and adaptations to pose a significant threat to Ukraine this summer.
  • The tempo of Russian offensive operations is currently higher in the Avdiivka direction than near Chasiv Yar, as Russian forces focus on exploiting a tactical situation that is unfavorable to Ukrainian troops northwest of Avdiivka. 
  • Russian forces are likely to intensify offensive operations near Chasiv Yar in the coming weeks, however, as Chasiv Yar provides Russian forces with the opportunity for more operationally significant advances.
  • Russian forces conducted large-scale cruise and ballistic missile strikes against Ukraine on the night of April 26 to 27 and have likely resumed sea based Kalibr cruise missile strikes after a long pause.
  • Ukrainian forces successfully conducted drone strikes against a Russian airfield and oil refineries in Krasnodar Krai on the night of April 26 to 27.
  • The Russian federal government continues efforts to codify increased control over migrant communities living in Russia.
  • The Kremlin is likely setting conditions to intensify its hybrid operations against Moldova.
  • Russian forces recently made confirmed advances north of Avdiivka and west of Donetsk City.
  • Russian federal subjects continue to sponsor Russian military formations.

For full report:  https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-april-27-2024 

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