Editor’s NoteIn its Russian offensive campaign assessment, the US-based Institute for the Study of War says that Russian forces have started their major offensive in Luhansk Oblast’s western part.
Russian forces have regained the initiative in Ukraine and have begun their next major offensive in Luhansk Oblast. The pace of Russian operations along the Svatove-Kreminna line in western Luhansk Oblast has increased markedly over the past week, and Russian sources are widely reporting that conventional Russian troops are attacking Ukrainian defensive lines and making marginal advances along the Kharkiv-Luhansk Oblast border, particularly northwest of Svatove near Kupyansk and west of Kreminna (1, 2, 3).
Geolocated combat footage has confirmed Russian gains in the Dvorichne area northwest of Svatove. Russian military command additionally appears to have fully committed elements of several conventional divisions to decisive offensive operations along the Svatove-Kreminna line, as ISW previously reported.
Elements of several regiments of the 144th and 3rd Motor Rifle Division (20th Combined Arms Army, Western Military District) and a regiment of the 90th Tank Division (Central Military District), supported by elements of the 76th Airborne Division and unspecified Southern Military District elements, are conducting offensive operations along the entire Svatove-Kreminna line and are reportedly advancing against Ukrainian defenses (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25).
Russia may be rushing to launch offensive in Donbas without sufficient combat power – ISW
The commitment of significant elements of at least three major Russian divisions to offensive operations in this sector indicates the Russian offensive has begun, even if Ukrainian forces are so far preventing Russian forces from securing significant gains. The Russian offensive likely has not yet reached its full tempo; Russian command has not yet committed elements of the 2nd Motorized Rifle Division (1st Guards Tank Army, Western Military District), which deployed to Luhansk Oblast in January after deploying to Belarus.
Russian forces are gradually beginning an offensive, but its success is not inherent or predetermined. While Russian forces in Luhansk Oblast now have the initiative (in that Russian forces are setting the terms of battle, ending the period of Ukrainian initiative from August 2022), the full commitment of these forces could lead to their eventual culmination along the Svatove-Kreminna line without achieving their objectives of capturing all of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts. That culmination would likely provide a window of opportunity for Ukrainian forces to exploit with their own counteroffensive.
Expected Russian offensive to target Donbas, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia regions – Ukraine security chief Danilov
Within 10 days, Russia plans to launch a new large-scale offensive – media
Russia didn’t show capacity to sustain multiple major offensive operations – ISW
Russia is trying to disperse Ukrainian forces ahead of a planned offensive campaign – ISW
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Tags: Luhansk Oblast, Russian offensive