Russia would be preparing its forces for a major offensive in Ukraine on several fronts

Residential building in Kharkov, where this Sunday an attack killed at least thirty civilians / efe

kyiv believes it is ready to continue the resistance and even regain ground in Kherson

President Vladimir Putin does not finish clearly enunciating the military objectives of the invasion of Ukraine. At first it seemed that the main target was kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, with the apparent intention of overthrowing President Volodymyr Zelensky and his government. Later, on March 25, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced the withdrawal of its troops from the kyiv area to concentrate them in Donbass, in the east of the country, with the purpose of completely taking over the provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk and putting them under the control of pro-Russian separatists.

Three and a half months have passed since the Russian Army intensified its efforts to seize all of Donbass from Ukraine, but a large part of the Donetsk region still remains. With the taking of Lisichansk, on July 3, the occupation of Lugansk was practically completed. Now the Russian Army is in a better tactical position to undertake the conquest of important cities in the Donetsk region such as Sloviansk, Kramatorsk and Bakhmut, against which the bombing does not stop.

In a meeting with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu just after the seizure of Lisichansk, Putin said that the units that took part in the assault deserve to “rest, accumulate strength and increase their combat capacity.” Then, last Thursday, the spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, Igor Konashenkov, confirmed that the Russian Army in Donbass would benefit from an “operational pause.”

However, the head of the Administration loyal to kyiv in Lugansk, Sergei Gaidai, has been warning for days that “the enemy troops do not abandon their attempts to penetrate deep into the Donetsk region (…) no pause is observed operational”. Missile and artillery shelling continues. The last one occurred on Sunday in Chasiv Yar, next to Bajmut, where a residential building was hit and whose balance according to the new figures provided yesterday amounts to 25 dead.

The US Institute for the Study of War (ISW) assures in a report released on its Twitter account that, despite the alleged pause, Russian troops are carrying out “limited ground offensives” in Donetsk with the aim of approach Sloviansk, Kramatorsk and take the highway that connects Izium with the city of Kharkov. According to the ISW, “they are likely to continue to limit themselves to small-scale offensive actions while they rebuild forces and set the conditions for a more significant offensive.” The US military studies center estimates that “when the Russian military command decides that it is sufficiently prepared to launch a larger offensive operation, it is most likely that it will continue the large-scale advance with more troops and thrust than has been seen so far. The exit from the operational pause may be gradual and not immediately noticeable.”

But, although the main declared objective of the Kremlin is the occupation of all of Donbass, the truth is that, according to the General Staff of the Ukrainian Army, Russian troops are also bombing Kharkiv, Odessa, Mykolaiv, Krivoy Rog, Dnipro and other central points. and south of the country, which indicates that there are much broader plans in the direction of the west. Yesterday, for example, Kharkov was once again hit by bombs. The administrative head of the region, Oleg Sinegúbov, reported three dead and 28 wounded, including a four-year-old boy and a 16-year-old teenager, in a new attack by Russian artillery carried out with multiple rocket launchers at night. Sunday. The Ukrainian presidential adviser, Oleksiy Arestovich, believes that Moscow has not given up its initial idea of ​​occupying Kharkov and does not rule out that the Russian forces that are being deployed to the north of the city end up launching an assault at any moment.

kyiv also exhibits plans and successes in its campaign, especially in order to recover the regions of Kherson and Mykolaiv, occupied by the Russian Army in the first days of the war with forces that advanced from the Crimean peninsula. The 60th Infantry Brigade of the Ukrainian Army announced yesterday the seizure of the town of Ivanivka, in the Kherson region, as part of a new counteroffensive.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshuk has appealed to the residents of the Russian-occupied territories in the Kherson and Zaporizhia regions to “leave those areas and remove their relatives by all available means.” According to her, “this is necessary so that the Armed Forces of Ukraine do not endanger the civilian population during the counter-offensive.” “Our artillery must work, because unemployment includes the use of armed force,” she added. However, Russia’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, Andrei Kelin, warned yesterday that his country “will not abandon the southern territories of Ukraine”, in fact, in Kherson and Zaporizhia there are already plans to hold popular consultations to be annexed to Russia as Crimea was.

In any case, kyiv hopes to turn the war around with the arrival of Western weapons. According to the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine SNBO, Oleksiy Danilov, assured yesterday through his Twitter account that “Western weapons are already changing the course of the war. And we haven’t started yet!” In his opinion, thanks to these weapons, it has been possible to “demoralize” the Russian troops and “destroy command posts, equipment and ammunition depots.”

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