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Russian forces aim to capture Chasiv Yar and Vovchansk – ISW

Sunday, 19 May 2024, 06:14
Russian forces aim to capture Chasiv Yar and Vovchansk – ISW
Ukrainian defenders. Photo: Ukraine’s General Staff

Analysts at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) believe that the Russians are seeking to capture the towns of Chasiv Yar and Vovchansk.

Source: ISW

Details: The ISW states that Russian forces have recently stepped up their efforts to capture the operationally important town of Chasiv Yar, taking advantage of offensives in northern Kharkiv Oblast and Ukraine's east and exerting greater pressure on Ukraine's Defence Forces.


Based on the analysed data, the Russians have failed to achieve any significant tactical success in the area of Chasiv Yar after a company-sized mechanised assault on the eastern outskirts of the town on 4 April and did not mount any similar mechanised assaults in the area until 17 May.

Russian offensive operations in the vicinity of Chasiv Yar have intensified since the 4 April assault, and the recent Russian mechanised assaults in the area are likely indicative of an overall intensification of Russian efforts to capture the town.

Analysts point out that from an operational point of view, the capture of Chasiv Yar is essential for the Russians, as it would provide Russian troops with favourable positions for further offensives against Kostiantynivka and Druzhkivka, the towns that form the southern part of the Ukrainian defence belt, which is the backbone of Ukraine's defence in Donetsk Oblast.


In addition, the Russians are currently prioritising the capture of Vovchansk, as it is likely to be one of the remaining tactical objectives of the first phase of their offensive in the north of Kharkiv Oblast.

The Russian military command has likely identified the capture of Vovchansk as one of the vital tactical objectives of the first phase of the offensive in northern Kharkiv Oblast. The city is the largest settlement directly on the border, which would provide Russian forces with a foothold close to the Russian rear to prepare and mount a second phase of the Russian offensive.

However, analysts point out that it is unclear whether the second phase of the Russian offensive in northern Kharkiv Oblast would prioritise Russia's operational objective of expanding the desired "buffer zone" along the border or whether Russia's operational objective would be to advance within effective artillery range of Kharkiv and its vicinity.

Russian troops may also be envisaging the next phase of the offensive from Vovchansk, aiming to advance to Velykyi Burluk to threaten the operational rear of Ukrainian forces defending the Kupiansk front.

To quote the ISW’s Key Takeaways on 18 May:

  • 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 theatre-wide pressure on Ukrainian forces.
  • Russian forces are likely preparing for the second phase of their offensive operation in northern Kharkiv Oblast, which Russian forces likely intend to launch following their anticipated seizure of Vovchansk.
  • Zelenskyy also outlined materiel requirements for Ukraine to combat Russia's air superiority and defend against the Russian air threat, especially given US-imposed restraints on Ukraine that prohibit Ukraine from striking targets within Russian territory and airspace.
  • Ukrainian officials have reportedly asked the US presidential administration to ease the restriction against using US-provided weapons to strike military targets in Russia.
  • Zelenskyy noted that Ukraine must overcome its manpower challenges in order to contest the theatre-wide initiative in Ukraine.
  • Ukraine's new mobilisation law went into effect on 18 May and will help Ukraine stabilise its force generation apparatus amid ongoing manpower constraints.
  • Russian Security Council Deputy Chairperson Dmitry Medvedev called for Russia's envisioned "buffer zone" to encompass all of Ukraine, illustrating that the Kremlin’s concept of the buffer zone is a thinly veiled justification for Russia's long-held intent to subsume the entirety of Ukraine and likely an effort to garner domestic support for the Russian war effort.
  • Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili vetoed the Russian-style "foreign agents" bill on 18 May, but the ruling Georgian Dream party will likely override Zurabishvili's veto in the coming weeks.
  • Russian forces recently marginally advanced near Avdiivka, Huliaipole, and Robotyne.

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