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Ukrainian Will Soon Change Russia’s Invasion Plans

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Over the last 24 hours, the Ukrainian counter-offensive north and east of the key city of Kharkiv has gained more ground. The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) predicts that Russian soldiers will be driven back far enough in the coming days that the metropolis will be out of range of Russian artillery fire. The Ukrainian army recently took control of a number of settlements north and east of Kharkiv, diminishing Russian forces’ capacity to threaten Ukraine’s second-largest city.

In contrast to the relatively isolated counterattacks that Ukrainian forces have performed throughout the war, the latest Ukrainian operation appears to be a successful, broad-based counteroffensive. Instead of concentrating on a tight offensive, the Ukrainian military is retaking regions in a wide arc surrounding Kharkiv. This shows new capability for large-scale offensive operations.

According to the ISW, the Ukrainian military’s readiness to concentrate the soldiers needed for offensive operations of this magnitude demonstrates its confidence in resisting ongoing Russian operations to encircle its own troops in the Severodonetsk region. As they run further east of recent Ukrainian advances, Ukrainian forces are unlikely to directly threaten Russian ground lines of communication to Izyum. Ukrainian forces, on the other hand, may be able to reduce Russian pressure on Kharkiv and then conduct incursions near the Russian border.

Russian soldiers have begun blowing up bridges to slow down the Ukrainian counter-offensive in the northeast, according to the Ukrainian military for the first time. The Ukrainian General Staff said that Russian forces had taken minimal offensive measures for the second day in succession, but artillery fire and aerial reconnaissance had continued. Russian units are expected to take a break before going on to the next phase of capturing all of Donetsk and Luhansk, according to the General Staff.

A landing boat belonging to the Russian Black Sea Fleet was shot down, according to the Ukrainian military. The ship drowned near Snake Island, according to Ukrainian authorities. “An enemy Serna landing craft was destroyed in the Black Sea,” Sergei Brachuk, the Odessa military administration’s press chief, wrote on his Telegram channel. He also posted a video purporting to show the ship being shot down by a drone. The Russian side initially had no comment on the purported event.

The Russian frigate Admiral Makarov was shot upon and caught fire in this vicinity, according to Ukrainian journalists the day before. Neither the Ukrainian nor the Russian governments have confirmed this. It’s unclear whether the reports were referring to two different Russian boats or if they were referring to the same item.

“No, we have no such information,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said when asked about the allegation. There is no indication that the Makarov was struck, according to Western defense authorities.

The Russian flagship Moskva, which sank last month, is substantially smaller than Admiral Makarov. She is the most powerful Russian battleship in the Black Sea, having just been in service for five years. If the claims are accurate, the defeat would not only be strategically disastrous for the Kremlin, but it would also cause enormous problems for Russian propaganda just ahead of the May 9 Victory Day celebrations.

Meanwhile, no substantial area changes on the southern axis have occurred in the last 24 hours. Russian troops are bolstering their forward positions. Russian besiegers have continued their ground assault on Mariupol’s Azov Steel Plant. The ISW, however, is unable to confirm any tangible Russian progress in this area. According to a Ukrainian official and the Russian Defense Ministry, about 50 women, children, and the elderly who were trapped in bunkers beneath the Mariupol Steel Plant throughout the siege were evacuated on Friday.

It is impossible to independently verify claims made by both parties from the combat zone about losses or military victories. The Russian push has so far been successful.

Image Credit: Getty

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