Institute for the Study of War is a pro-Ukraine think tank that has been scrutinizing all the play-by-play moves in this war with Russia.
In their report, there is no talk of stalemate – that’s a cope for pro-Kiev shills. The news assessment is about the Russians’ offensive actions, while Kiev has settled into a ‘strategic defense’ stance.
For the Ukrainians, it’s somewhat advantageous to be on defense, in terms of losses – but they will never ‘liberate’ Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporozhie and Kherson oblasts (regions) by just holding their ground.
The report will describe Russian advances as ‘marginal’ – which they are – but after thousands of hours reading military analysts of every stripe, it becomes clear to me that Moscow’s ‘war of attrition’ arrives at victory not necessarily by rapid territorial conquests, but mainly by degrading the enemy’s military capabilities in troops, ammo, and equipment.
The attrition would have wiped Kiev’s troops in a few months, were it not for the unprecedented global alliance led by the US top send tons of money and military hardware for President Zelensky and his trusted Azov Nazis to dig in and resist.
Another factor is that at this point in the conflict, time is on the Russian’s side. Kiev conscripts the old, the infirm and even women, and lives by the grace of donors, while Russia has hundreds of thousands of fresh new contracted troops, and its military-industrial complex is stronger by the day.
So, in their offensive actions, Russians are probing weaknesses, making Kiev shift reserves to key Donetsk city Avdiivka, for example, weakening other places on the 600-mile frontline.
The plan is to apply pressure at multiple points of the front until the degraded and overextended Ukrainian defenses break down and fold.
The ISW observes that Russian forces are edging forward at three key points.
“ISW’s update confirmed Russian advances in the frontline hotspots near the devastated city of Bakhmut in Donetsk region, the besieged Ukrainian fortress city of Avdiivka, also in Donetsk, and in the the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area, which this summer was at the heart of Kiev’s own offensive efforts.”
In most of the long frontline, only ‘Positional engagements’ are ongoing, with forces probing each other’s positions seeking local tactical advantage.
“Ukraine has transitioned from counteroffensive operations into a more defensive posture with the onset of winter. Russian forces, meanwhile, have launched fresh efforts to capture ground and reverse the meager gains won by Kiev’s troops through a costly summer and fall of fighting.
Moscow’s troops have advanced northwest of Bakhmut, with the ISW citing geolocated footage published on January 17 suggesting ‘a marginal gain in the residential area in northern Bohdanivka’, just outside the destroyed city that was captured by Russian units in May 2023 after months of devastating combat.”
Ukrainian sources report Russian efforts around Bakhmut, as well as in the direction of Kupyansk, in northern Kharkov Oblast.
“Elsewhere, Russian forces advanced southwest of Avdiivka, the fortified city that has long been a fulcrum for the Ukrainian military on the Donetsk front. The settlement sits just outside Donetsk, which since 2014 has been occupied by local separatists and their Russian patrons. The city is considered the unofficial capital of the Donbas region, making it a key political and logistical goal.”
Russian forces assaulted and captured a position east of Nevelske, southwest of Avdiivka, in their months-long effort to encircle the town.
Fighting also continues ‘at the coke plant to [Avdiivka’s] northwest, at the industrial zone to its southeast, near Sieverne to its west, and near Pervomaiske and Nevelske to its southwest’ – we see how the multiple axis of attack aim to disperse and pulverize defensive assets.
“To the south, Russian units are pushing forwards into the territory briefly liberated by Ukrainian troops over the summer along the administrative border between the Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions. ‘Geolocated footage published on January 18 shows that Russian forces previously marginally advanced southeast of Rivnopil’, ISW wrote.”