Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, May 26, 2024

May 26, 2024 - ISW Press

Russian forces are reportedly concentrating forces of unspecified size in western Belgorod Oblast near the border with Ukraine, likely to fix and draw Ukrainian forces to the area and prepare for offensive operations that aim to expand the Russian foothold in the international border area in northeastern Ukraine. Western officials continue to publicly debate Ukraine's right to use Western-provided weapons to strike military targets in Russia amid Russian efforts to persuade the West to continue its self-imposed limitations and divide the NATO alliance.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, May 25, 2024

May 25, 2024 - ISW Press

Ukrainian and Russian sources stated that Ukrainian forces are increasingly contesting the tactical initiative in northern Kharkiv Oblast and characterized Russian operations in the area as defensive, although Russian forces are likely attempting to bring the Northern Grouping of Forces up closer to its reported planned end strength before possibly intensifying offensive operations in the area. The Ukrainian General Staff reported on May 24 that Ukrainian forces are pushing Russian forces back from Ukrainian defenses in northern Kharkiv Oblast. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that Ukrainian forces established "combat control" over an unspecified section of the border where Russian forces had initially crossed into northern Kharkiv Oblast following the start of Russian offensive operations on May 10.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, May 24, 2024

May 24, 2024 - ISW Press

Western media continues to report that Russian President Vladimir Putin is interested in a negotiated ceasefire in Ukraine, although Kremlin rhetoric and Russian military actions illustrate that Putin remains uninterested in meaningful negotiations and any settlement that would prevent him from pursuing the destruction of an independent Ukrainian state.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, May 23, 2024

May 23, 2024 - ISW Press

The Kremlin is pursuing a concerted effort to remove senior Russian defense officials and has likely expanded this effort to senior officers commanding Russian combat operations in Ukraine. The Russian Investigative Committee announced on May 23 the arrests of Russian Deputy Chief of the General Staff and Head of its Main Communications Directorate Lieutenant General Vadim Shamarin and Head of the Russian Ministry of Defense's (MoD) Department for State Procurement, Vladimir Verteletsky.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, May 22, 2024

May 22, 2024 - ISW Press

The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) proposed on May 21 that the Russian government reassess Russia’s maritime borders in the Baltic Sea so that these borders “correspond to the modern geographical situation.” The Russian MoD produced a since-deleted document, which appeared on the Russian government’s legal portal on May 21, proposing that the Russian government should reassess the 1985 maritime borders in the Gulf of Finland because these borders were based on outdated “small-scale nautical navigation maps” developed in the mid-20th century.

Iran Update, May 22, 2024

May 22, 2024 - ISW Press

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei presided over the funeral for Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian, and others in Tehran on May 22.

How Delays in Western Aid Gave Russia the Initiative: From the Ukrainian Counteroffensive to Kharkiv

May 22, 2024 - ISW Press

Ukraine and the West have defeated a months-long Russian effort to persuade the West to abandon Ukraine and set conditions to collapse Ukrainian defenses. Russian forces have conducted offensive operations since Fall 2023 that aimed to convince the West to abandon its commitment to Ukraine, and prolonged US debates about security assistance likely convinced the Kremlin that its efforts had partially succeeded. The effects of continued delays in US and Western security assistance set conditions for Russian forces to make more significant gains on the battlefield than they had previously been able to make, and the Russian military command likely concluded that Russian forces would be able to collapse the Ukrainian frontline at some point in the near to medium term.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, May 21, 2024

May 21, 2024 - ISW Press

The Kremlin continues to time its nuclear saber-rattling to coincide with major policy discussions in the West as part of a Kremlin reflexive control campaign to influence Western decision-makers. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed on May 21 that missile elements of the Southern Military District (SMD) began the first stage of non-strategic (tactical) nuclear weapons exercises. The Russian MoD claimed that Russian Aerospace Forces will also exercise with Iskander ballistic missiles and Kinzhal aeroballistic missiles. The Russian MoD announced the preparations for these exercises on May 6.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, May 20, 2024

May 20, 2024 - ISW Press

Ukrainian sources indicated that Russian forces are concentrating limited, understaffed, and incohesive forces in the Sumy direction, but even such a Russian grouping of forces will be able to achieve the likely desired effect of drawing and fixing Ukrainian forces in the international border area. The deputy commander of a Ukrainian brigade operating in northern Kharkiv Oblast reported on May 20 that Russian forces, including Chechen forces, are accumulating in the Sumy direction but that the limited number of Russian personnel suggests that the Russian objective is to draw and fix Ukrainian forces to the international border area.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, May 18, 2024

May 18, 2024 - ISW Press

Russian forces have recently intensified their effort to seize the operationally significant town of Chasiv Yar, seeking to exploit how Russian offensive operations in northern Kharkiv Oblast and ongoing offensive operations throughout eastern Ukraine have generated greater theater-wide pressure on Ukrainian forces. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted an unsuccessful roughly reinforced company-sized mechanized assault with two tanks and 21 infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) in the direction of the Novyi Microraion in eastern Chasiv Yar on May 17.