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Kharkiv offensive – Putin forces a new front on Kiev

Kharkiv offensive – Putin forces a new front on Kiev

The Russians have crossed the border north of Kharkiv. Now Ukraine has to fight on another front and divide up its scarce reserves.

On Friday, Putin opened a new front in the Ukraine war: in the northeast between the Russian city of Belgorod and the second-largest Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. The main thrust is aimed directly at Kharkiv, a second direction a little further east is aimed at the Siwerskyi Donets River.

Near the main M20 road, the Russians captured the villages of Kudiivka and Hoptivka. Strilecha, Pyl’na and Borysivka also fell. On Saturday there will be a fight for the second row of villages. Further east near Siwerskyi Donets they try to work their way along both sides of the city of Wolchansk. The quick successes are not a big surprise, as the zone on the Ukrainian side was hardly or not at all occupied. So far it is a Russian copy of last year’s ill-fated Ukrainian Belgorod offensive.

No capture of Kharkiv

It is impossible to say what the Russians’ intentions are with the offensive, as they may have several goals in mind depending on developments. The first is an escalation of the war of attrition. Putin is waging the rich man’s war. He can afford to turn a previously quiet front section into a hot zone.

Kiev, on the other hand, has been waging the poor man’s war for months. There was already a lack of ammunition, heavy weapons and soldiers during the fighting in Donbass. Now Ukraine is being forced to deploy additional reserves in the north. Simply put: every grenade and every soldier sent to Kharkiv is – sorely – missing from the Donbass front. Already in Donbass, Ukraine was forced to send exhausted or newly formed units to the front. A new front will further strain reserves.

Fight from a distance

In the entire section up to Sumy the Russians did not gather 100,000 men. This is not enough for the big summer offensive that will push deep into Ukraine and then conquer Kharkiv. And at the moment only small groups seem to be fighting. Russian bloggers estimate the total strength at around 2,000 men and are tempering expectations. The Russians have so far only deployed a few soldiers, but are constantly bombing the zone all the way to Kharkiv – with artillery and glide bombs. Your goal is to hit the Ukrainian troops that have arrived as they are approaching and deploying. To do this, they attack depots and bridges. Among other things, the Staryi Saltov Dam was blown up. All things that Kiev could have done against the Russian deployment if it had had the means.

Ukraine suffers from the fact that the initiative has been completely passed over to the Russians, and its own forces are only ever used in response, without Russian plans being known in detail. The Russians have also concentrated troops opposite Sumy. There is a danger that as soon as the Ukrainians have set up a defense near Kharkiv, the Russians will change positions and shift their center of gravity to the west

Outlook of the Kharkiv operation

It is unlikely that the Russians will advance on and capture Kharkiv at this point. Rather, they will try to keep the fighting in the border region. Here they can create a zone under their control in order to stop the regular shelling of the Russian city of Belgorod. Kiev has nothing to gain in these battles; at the moment it is unlikely that Ukrainian forces will be sufficient for a real counteroffensive. Nevertheless, the Ukrainians cannot let the Russians have their way and leave them villages and towns in the border region without a fight.

And the Russians will try to use their overwhelming superiority in air, long-range weapons of all kinds and artillery to kill as many Ukrainian soldiers as possible and destroy the enemy’s military equipment. In addition, the fighting and heavy bombing will lead to civilian life behind the front becoming paralyzed because residents are fleeing. Putin doesn’t actually need to conquer Ukraine’s second-largest city for it to become worthless to Kiev. The Russian main focus will continue to be on the fighting in Donbass. In addition to the distraction and attrition effect of the fighting near Kharkiv, the Russians will try to achieve good starting positions in the north for a possible major offensive.

Putin draws on the full potential

The Russian operation shows that the Russians have taken the initiative for months and are advancing slowly but steadily. These movements on the ground cannot be denied, but some observers put them into perspective by pointing to incredible Russian losses. Motto: The Russians are still advancing a little, but they will bleed themselves dry in a few weeks. But now Putin is showing that he can send an entire army into battle straight away, which obviously doesn’t lack firepower.

The Russians will take advantage of the time until Western aid and ammunition packages arrive in Ukraine. A howitzer that is destroyed now will not fire new shells in the summer. Above all, the Ukrainians’ human losses weaken their army immensely.

Source: Stern

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