Ukraine Project

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, April 19, 2024

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov signaled Russia’s intent to seize Kharkiv City in a future significant Russian offensive operation, the first senior Kremlin official to outright identify the city as a possible Russian operational objective following recent Ukrainian warnings that Russian forces may attempt to seize the city starting in Summer 2024.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, April 18, 2024

Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Head Lieutenant General Kyrylo Budanov specified that the Russian offensive effort that Ukrainian officials have been forecasting will likely begin in June 2024. Budanov stated in an April 17 article in the Washington Post that Russia will launch a “big” offensive in June 2024 with the aim of seizing all of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts. Budanov also stated that Russian forces will try to make battlefield gains throughout 2024 as part of efforts to influence Western decision-making. Budanov had previously forecasted that a future major Russian offensive would begin in late May or early June 2024, and it is notable that Budanov has now narrowed his forecast to June and identified the likely aim of the Russian offensive. Previous major Russian offensive efforts have similarly aimed to seize the remainder of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, April 17, 2024

Ukrainian forces struck a Russian military airfield in occupied Dzhankoi, Crimea, overnight on April 16 to 17. Geolocated footage posted on April 16 shows explosions at the airfield in Dzhankoi, where the Russian 39th Separate Helicopter Regiment (27th Composite Aviation Division, 4th Air Force and Air Defense Army, Southern Military District) is based.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, April 16, 2024

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky emphasized that continued shortages in air defense systems and artillery are preventing Ukraine from effectively defending itself against Russian strikes and ground assaults. Zelensky stated in an interview with PBS News Hour, which aired on April 15, that Ukrainian forces continue to lack enough air defense systems to protect Ukraine’s critical infrastructure. Zelensky noted that Ukrainian forces were only able to destroy the first seven of the 11 Russian missiles launched against the Trypilska Thermal Power Plant (TPP) on April 11 before running out of air defense missiles, allowing the remaining four missiles to destroy the plant.

America’s Stark Choice in Ukraine and the Cost of Letting Russia Win

The current US debate about providing additional military assistance to Ukraine is based in part on the assumption that the war will remain stalemated regardless of US actions. That assumption is false. The Russians are breaking out of positional warfare and beginning to restore maneuver to the battlefield because of the delays in the provision of US military assistance to Ukraine. Ukraine cannot hold the present lines now without the rapid resumption of US assistance, particularly air defense and artillery that only the US can provide rapidly and at scale.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, April 15, 2024

Ukrainian officials continue to warn that US security assistance is vital to Ukrainian forces’ ability to defend against current and future Russian offensive operations forecasted to begin in late spring and summer. Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Head Lieutenant General Kyrylo Budanov stated that Ukrainian forces are preparing to repel a future Russian major offensive expected in late May or the beginning of June but noted that this will be “catastrophically difficult” without Western military assistance. Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov stated on April 14 that the current situation in eastern Ukraine is “tense” and that Russian forces are focusing their efforts west of Bakhmut in the Chasiv Yar direction. Umerov stated that Ukrainian forces are successfully using modern technology against Russia’s larger quantities of personnel.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, April 13, 2024

Russian forces are pursuing at least three operational-level efforts that are not mutually reinforcing but let Russian forces prioritize grinding, tactical gains on a single sector of their choice at a time. Ukrainian forces will increasingly struggle to defend against these Russian efforts the longer Ukraine lacks further US military assistance. Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi stated on April 13 that the situation in eastern Ukraine has significantly worsened in recent days and that Russian forces are conducting mechanized attacks in the Lyman, Bakhmut, and Pokrovsk (west of Avdiivka) directions.

Special Report: Russian Strikes More Effective as Ukraine Exhausts Defenses

The exhaustion of US-provided air defenses resulting from delays in the resumption of US military aid to Ukraine combined with improvements in Russian strike tactics have led to the increasing effectiveness of Russian missile and drone strike strikes against Ukraine without a dramatic increase in the size or frequency of such strikes.