Issue 170, 12-18 September 2022 (Weekly update)

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Key takeaways

  • The Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) fully secured and liberated the entire Kharkiv Oblast last week. A video posted on Sunday, 18SEP, showed them crossing the Oskil river, which could indicate a new push to the east;
  • Lyman remains under Russian control as Ukrainians slightly extended their gains near the city last week. We assess that the defence of Lyman is linked to Russian defensive line preparations between Severodonetsk and Svatove;
  • The threat to Slovyansk, Kramatorsk, and SIversk has eased, and Russian ground attacks no longer threaten these cities;
  • Over the past three weeks, Russians probably captured five settlements in the Donetsk Oblast, a pace which is too slow to endanger the presence of UAF in the region;
  • There were no changes in the Zaporizhzhia area, but Russian commentators continue to predict a Ukrainian counterattack in this direction;
  • The situation in the Kherson Oblast did not change, but the UAF’s attempts to hinder Russian operations and mobility continued.

Frontline situation

The situation in Ukraine did not significantly change over the past seven days. Following a swift operation to liberate the Kharkiv Oblast, there were no follow-on, large-scale attacks on Russian forces east of the Oskil River. Ukrainians first secured their rear and ensured that the Kharkiv Oblast was under their total control.

It remains to be seen whether the next week will bring any changes in this direction.

Let’s talk about the counteroffensive in Kharkiv and its consequences.

Since day one of the war, Russia maintained control over parts of the Kharkiv Oblast, but Moscow could never capture it fully. Although its presence in the oblast fluctuated, especially around April when Ukrainians recaptured some territory, Russia and its proxies still controlled around a third of the oblast in early September.

But then the Ukrainian counterattack occurred. Within four days, Russian control decreased to 9% only thanks to the Oskil river, which proved to be the natural boundary Ukrainian forces were content to stop at. In other words, between 8-11SEP, the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) liberated 10,000 square kilometres of its territory, equivalent to Cyprus. It is unlikely that the Ukrainian General Staff expected such a fast pace of advance and such an operational, perhaps even strategic, success.

To a large extent, Moscow’s failure in the Kharkiv Oblast was self-imposed as the UAF superbly exposed and used to their advantage the weaknesses that the Russian Armed Forces had been experiencing. Some of these weaknesses stem from choices made during planning for this war. But some were directly linked to poor planning and poor intelligence collection activity days and weeks before the start of the UAF operation. The consequences of failure to halt the Ukrainian advance may have far-reaching consequences not only for the Russian military presence and activity in the northeastern parts of Ukraine but also, potentially, for the outcome of the war in general.

Long-term deficiencies

The Russian Armed Forces entered Ukraine o 24FEB with peacetime strength. The General Staff had not introduced additional mobilisational measures to increase the number of personnel in operational formations, especially tank and mechanised units. To make things worse, it appeared that not only were Russian battalions manned at 70-90% of their authorised strength but at some point, a decision had been made by the General Staff to decrease the number of service members at mechanised battalions from 539 or 461 personnel to around 345. Consequently, a Russian battalion tactical group, which had been previously assessed to have 700-900 men on average, could only deploy from 666 to as little as 499 men. This impacts their ability to organise a capable force, fight, defend and manoeuvre. Decreased personnel also meant that gaining and controlling territory would be increasingly difficult, especially if Russians started to bleed out, which despite optimistic forecasts, started happening very early in the war, especially on approaches to Kyiv from the north.

According to the Ukrainian General Staff, the Russian Armed Forces have lost more than 50,000 men since the war started. Even assuming that the number is inflated by 20% (or 10,000) and that not all the losses came from the land forces, Russia may have lost at least 35,000 ground forces personnel within the first six months of the war. Some of these losses cannot be replaced, even in the medium term, as they affected some of the best trained and equipped Russian military units, such as airborne forces, the 1st Guards Tank Army, or the 200th Mechniased Brigade of the Northern Fleet. Consequently, with losses in manpower and equipment mounting, Russia probably could not generate battalion tactical groups and instead started deploying less capable and smaller company tactical groups. To preserve personnel, the Russian tactical approach is to conduct artillery strikes on Ukrainian positions and undertake a reconnaissance-in-force attempt to break the defenders’ line. If this attempt failed, then artillery strikes would again seek to soften defences, followed by another ground attack, and so on. This highly inefficient approach delivers limited gains at high costs, especially to equipment and manpower. To fix this deficiency within its structures, a Russian command would seek areas that were either lightly defended, or that would crumble under a heavier attack. This is exactly what happened near Popasna in May when for a month, Russian forces could not break Ukrainian lines, but with reinforcements coming in probably from Mariupol, they managed to push Ukrainians 10-20 kilometres west within a few days. The same occurred near Lysychansk when Russians created a positive correlation of forces and used it to their advantage to capture the city. However, neither of these tactical successes delivered anything even remotely resembling operational victory because Russians again lacked manpower. After the first line of defence was broken, the attackers lacked the personnel to pursue withdrawing defenders and prevent them from establishing another line of defence further back. This is completely opposite to what happened in the Kharkiv Oblast in early September, when the speed of Ukrainian advance and the employment of highly mobile special and reconnaissance forces put constant pressure on withdrawing Russian formations, not allowing them to put up any organised defence. Most Russian forces ultimately withdrew from the Kharkiv Oblast in a disorganised rout.

Another long-term deficiency is the inability to properly maintain equipment in the field. This well-known problem has plagued land forces for years and decades. Since 2016 the land forces have been growing their repair and evacuation capabilities to address this weakness. To this end, each military district set up repair and evacuation battalions, which were later converted into regiments. The creation of MD-level regiments has increased the ability to evacuate and repair equipment by a factor of 1.4.

However, images and videos captured in the Izyum area in particular, and the Kharkiv Oblast in general, showed dozens of heavy equipment such as tanks, IFVs, and APCs in various states of decay. Some of them were clearly in line to be serviced and repaired, but the sheer number of vehicles abandoned makes one wonder about the impact they would have made on the frontlines when every tank, every armoured vehicle counts. Consequently, it is unclear whether repair and evacuation regiments significantly impacted the battlefield, especially in an environment where HIMARS and artillery threats seriously degraded Russian rear support.

But the Russian land forces lacked spare parts, lubricants, and probably personnel to undertake the necessary work to bring all these damaged or broken equipment back to service. Now, to some degree, this abandoned equipment will be used by Ukrainian land units.

Short-term mistakes

As we have already established, Russia does not have the personnel numbers to man the entire frontline properly. Until September, Moscow had the overall initiative and decided the time and place of its subsequent engagements. However, reports about the Ukrainian build-up aimed at retaking the Kherson Oblast and probably its own intelligence-gathered data presented the General Staff with a challenging dilemma: either to significantly weaken one of the directions to reinforce southern Ukraine or increase the chances of a Ukrainian counterattack in the Kherson Oblast by not augmenting its forces there. The first option was chosen, and the Russian military presence in Kharkiv Oblast was subsequently significantly reduced from mid-July. This came at a time when Russian attacks from Izyum towards Slovyansk were occurring daily and when the Izyum garrison could field several relatively well-equipped company/battalion tactical groups. The drawdown in the Kharkiv Oblast immediately impacted the number of attacks towards Slovyansk, not only undermining the pursuit of one of the main objectives in this war but also indicating that the garrison capabilities were reduced.

The Ukrainians, therefore, chose the best place to attack as Russia had no reserves to plug holes in the defences. Once the first line was broken, Ukrainians could manoeuvre in-depth relatively unopposed, surprising the opponent and causing organisational breakdown across entire Russia’s western army group.

From Moscow’s point of view,  we don’t know whether an intelligence failure where Russia did not see any signs of Ukrainian build-up, or maybe they realised the attack was a real possibility, but it was too late to respond.

At the same time, Moscow probably did not realise that Kyiv could employ 6-8 manoeuvre brigades into combat at once, perhaps suggesting that the General Staff could not accurately establish the strength, composition, and location of Ukrainian core units. After all, Ukraine deployed into combat some of its most seasoned formations, such as the 92nd Mechanised and the 3rd Tank Bridges or the 25th Airborne, 80th and 95th Air Assault Brigades. This was not a strategic reserve. These were frontline formations, which are regularly deployed into combat.

Future Implications

Russian failed attack on Kyiv during the early days and weeks of the war ended phase one of the conflict. Phase two, which lasted since late April, probably ended in Russian failure too. The fall of Izyum, crossing of Seversky Donetsk River towards Lyman, and pushing Russians out near Siversk mean that the threat to Slovyansk and Kramatorsk has been alleviated.

In fact, it is presently doubtful that Russians will rebuild their strength to the point that would allow them to threaten northern parts of the Donetsk Oblast again. The Western Group of Forces has been rendered ineffective, losing a big part of its combat capability. Russia will probably have no offensive potential in the northern parts of the front over the medium-term of at least six months.

We have, therefore, probably entered the third phase of the war, where Kyiv has the initiative and decides on future engagements. Kyiv is on the offence, while Moscow’s posture could become increasingly defensive overall.

The critical issue is a lack of personnel. To respond to any larger threat in any direction, assuming it is recognised in time, the Russian Armed Forces need to move their units around the frontline to reinforce their positions and plug gaps. This approach is unsustainable over the long term.

The only consolation for the Russian General Staff is that with the frontline smaller, Russians will have more troops per sq km to defend their territories. Conversely, Ukrainians will have fewer troops per sq km to hold recaptured territories and conduct attacks. However, whereas Ukraine has access to highly-motivated and relatively well-trained soldiers, Russian recruitment efforts have delivered mixed results at best, forcing Moscow to increasingly rely on forcefully mobilised, demotivated men from LPR/DPR and Wagner mercenaries.

Operationally, we do not know the Ukrainian plans and whether they will extend its attacks from the Kharkiv into the Luhansk Oblast. However, although considered a low-probability event now, another Kharkiv-like operation could relatively quickly place Ukrainian forces along the Luhansk-Severodonetsk line and effectively force the collapse of Russian forces’ willingness and ability to fight in this war. It is no longer science fiction to think that the war will end in a matter of weeks, months, and not years.

In this war, the Ukrainian strategy has been to trade territory for time, and with mounting Russian losses, the time is on Kyiv’s side.

Frontlines in Ukraine with FIRMS and artillery shellings data – 12-18 September 2022

Development of reported shellings since June 9 (Source)

Ukrainian General Staff reported shellings by city and oblast for the past seven days (Source)

 

There was a significant decrease in the number of reported Russian artillery fires. Kharkiv saw the biggest decline, but whether this is short-lived remains to be seen. Russians may have ‘lost’ many artillery systems in the oblast over the past two weeks, and it may take some time to fill the gap.

A total of 34% of strikes occurred in the Kharkiv, Mykolaiv and  Zaporizhzhia Oblasts, which is a 7% decrease compared to the previous week.

Heatmap with reported shellings, past seven days (Source)

 

The situation in Belarus

Last week, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s activity was limited. On Saturday,  during the Belarusian Day of Unity celebration, Lukashenka shortly referred to the issue of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict. He stated that the collapse of Ukraine had already begun and that other countries in the region could share its fate. Lukashenko also added the risk of nuclear conflict had significantly increased. We believe that the latter point was mainly directed at domestic audiences to gather support around the president in these difficult times.

Regarding the activities of the Belarusian military leadership, they were equally divided among Belarusian generals. Most of them were connected with the ongoing command-staff exercise. On Monday, the Chief of the Belarusian General Staff, Major General Viktor Gulevich, visited a command post of the Belarusian Special Operation Forces deployed during the drills. At the same time, the Head of the International Military Cooperation Department, Colonel Valery Revenko, hosted a briefing for foreign military attaches. Other activities of the Belarusian officers had an international character. On Tuesday,  the State Secretary of the Security Council, Lieutenant General Alexander Volfovich, participated in the extraordinary CSTO meeting, during which he presented the Belarusian point of view on the Armenian-Azerbaijani war. Two days later, a few Belarusian officers were involved in the CSTO Crisis Response Center meeting. Also, the Belarusian delegation visited an unspecified Serbian military facility and airbase as a part of an inspection regulated by the Vienna Document.

Last week, most of the training events were still linked to the command-staff exercise, which involved mainly Belarusian SOF with additional subunits separated from the mechanised formations and Belarusian Air Forces. Officially, some standalone drills were also observed. However, they may have been linked to the abovementioned command and staff drill. These exercises were carried out by the elements of the 120th Mechanised Brigade on Monday and the 51st Artillery Brigade’s battalions on Tuesday and Thursday.

What is more, much information about other mobilisation drills was published last week. The 19th and 120th Mechanised Brigades created security and maintenance subunits, presumably before the command-staff exercise. An additional department within the 1068th Storage Base was also stood up, but possibly in mid-April.

Last week, the number of observed transfers of military equipment increased compared to recent weeks. We link this development to the ongoing command and staff exercise. Some more notable transfers included T-72s and ZSU-23-4. According to unofficial information, they may have been removed from Belarusian storage facilities.

The activity of the Russian Armed Forces in Belarus was minimal last week. Only five military equipment transfers were reported, generally consisting of single trucks. Also, a decrease in the number of equipment brought was reported as only two cargo Il-76s arrived in Belarus over the past seven days.

Summary of losses

According to the Russian Ministry of Defence, since the start of the war, Ukraine has lost 293 aircraft (0), 155 helicopters (+2), 1,981 UAVs (+109), 375 anti-aircraft missile systems (launchers?)(+1), 5,022 tanks and other armoured combat vehicles (+39), 836 MLRS launchers (+6), 3,397 field artillery guns and mortars (+19), as well as 5,680 units of special military vehicles (+404).

According to the Ukrainian General Staff, Russia lost (killed) 54,480 personnel (+1,830), 2,210 tanks (+56), 4,718 armoured personnel vehicles (+228), 1,309 artillery systems (+162) and 312 MLRS (+18), 168 anti-aircraft systems (+6), 251 aircraft (+9) and 217 helicopters (+4), and 864 UAVs (+54), 3,578 vehicles and fuel tanks (+233), 15 warships and boats (0) and 122 special equipment (+5).

The number in parentheses denotes a weekly change.

The situation at selected axes and directions

Kharkiv direction

Last week and following the pullback of Russian forces, the Ukrainian Armed Forces focused on establishing control over the entire Kharkiv Oblast. Altogether, around 10,000 square kilometres were recaptured last week, a Cyprus-size area.

Generally speaking, the UAF did not pursue withdrawing Russians over the Oskil River. However, our sources confirmed that special forces units crossed the river and were conducting reconnaissance activity east of Oskil. Late in the week, Ukrainians captured the entire Kupiansk, bringing their presence east of the river. The UAF probably attacked towards Kivsharivka, but, at the current stage, we cannot talk about any type of counterattack or counteroffensive.

Ukrainians now control three bridges across the Oskil River, one in Kupyansk and two in Oskil. Of these three, at least two are operational. Additional crossings across the Siverskyi Donetsk River were captured in Yermivka and Sviatohirsk. The status of a bridge in Dvorichna is unclear.
On Friday, the UAF crossed the Oskil River, expanding their bridgehead, probably near Oskil.

Regardless, the UAF has a sound basis for further attacks on the Luhansk Oblast, especially its southwestern parts towards Lozove-Kreminna-Rubizhne-Severodonetsk.

However, to reach this area, Ukrainians need first to capture Lyman. The Russian defences of the city are solid. The UAF probably made some progress in this area by capturing neighbouring settlements, but this did not change the overall situation. The Russians control Lyman.

The longer the UAF waits in this area, the more time Moscow will have to prepare their defences and, consequently, the harder it will be for Ukrainians to break Russian lines.

Kharkiv City is no longer harassed by Russian standard artillery systems, such as BM-21s. However, it is still within reach of Russian “heavy” MLRS platforms such as BM-30 Smerch. Despite its withdrawal from the oblast, Russians will continue to attack Ukrainian civilian, industrial areas and military targets in the Kharkiv Oblast. Although, we expect the focus to be placed on the former.

The UAF, too, has been shelling Russian targets on the other side of the border. The intensity of cross-border artillery exchanges may increase over the coming days and weeks.

Frontlines with FIRMS and artillery shelling data – Kharkiv Oblast, 12-18 September 2022

 

Donetsk Oblast Direction

The Donetsk Oblast direction is probably subordinated to Rusian efforts in the Luhansk-Kharkiv Oblasts.

Within this direction, Russia needs to conduct two concurrent operations. Previously, all its forces were engaged in (probing) attacks on Ukrainian troops across the entire frontline, from Siversk to Donetsk. With the fall of Izyum and the deployment of Ukrainian troops along the Siversky Donets River to the east, not only did the threat to Slovyansk/Siversk diminish, but Russian forces had to transition from the offence to the defence quickly. Their main line of defence is probably located along the Shypylivka-Verkhn’okam’yanka-Mykolaivka line. However, the exact extension of Ukrainian territorial lines is unclear. Ukrainian forces are yet to undertake offensive operations in an urban setting in this war, so it is difficult to predict how a Ukrainian assault on any of these cities could unfold. But we expect Kyiv to try to avoid urban battles and create conditions for the Russians and their proxies to abandon occupied urban areas. In this respect, the fall of Lyman is key to allowing Kyiv forces to approach Severodonetsk from the west and exert further pressure on Russian and proxy formations deployed around this area.

Russians are also now probably undertaking delaying actions to prepare for the defence of Lysychansk and Severodonetsk.

Further south, Russian operations focus solely on the offence, although the effects of these actions have a tactical impact without any significant changes to the operational situation.

There were no updates pertaining to the situation in Soledar, so we assume that the overall situation did not alter. Russians are probably in the eastern parts of the city, unable to move further.

Bakhmut is still under Ukrainian control. Last week, pro-Russian sources claimed that the attackers entered the northeastern part of the city, but this assertion was never confirmed. We assess that the Russian and proxy forces are around five km east of the town, but they continue attempting to inch closer to the city, mainly from Pidhorode and Pokrovske.

Attacks toward Bakhmut from the south continued as well. There Russians were more successful as they captured Mykolaivka Druha, physically severing the ground line of communication between Horlivka and Bakhmut. The T0513 road was probably used sparingly recently as the attackers’ fire controlled it from the heights near Kodema.

Russians and their proxies also probably entered/captured Mayorsk and Krasnohorivka. It is worth putting these and other recent gains into context. Even assuming all gains are confirmed, Moscow’s forces captured five settlements between Siversk and Donetsk over the past three weeks of fighting in the Donetsk Oblast (Mykolaivka Druha, Mayorsk, Krasnohorivka, Pisky, and Opytne). That’s an average of one settlement per four days. Even if this pace could be maintained going ahead, it is too slow to destroy Ukrainian forces in the Donetsk Oblast. In fact, it is more likely that the attackers will bleed out rather than the Ukrainians be destroyed. The capture of the oblast, so explicitly articulated by the Russian General Staff personnel in April when announcing the second stage of the war, is currently unachievable over the medium-term (six months plus).

Significant reinforcements would be needed to push the operations forward, and it is rather doubtful that Moscow has any spare operational formations to send to this part of the front. Most of the fighting in the Donetsk Oblast is conducted by DPR and Wagner forces, with elements derived from the Russian 8th Combined Arms Army only playing a supportive role. The capacity of the DPR to mobilise more men has likely been exhausted due to the ongoing forceful enrolment campaign. Ironically, in the current political climate and given the Kremlin’s reluctance to call mobilisation, Wagner has the largest mobilisational potential. Last week, a video was posted online, which showed the company’s owner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, talking to inmates of one of the prisons in Russia, encouraging them to sign a six-month long contract with Wagner.

Nevertheless, it is difficult to consider them an effective combat force that would have an operational impact on the battlefield. Apart from attacking Ukrainian-held settlements, the purpose of the Wagner personnel is to maintain pressure on the defenders and tie up their forces. Were it not for them, there would probably be no progress in the Donetsk Oblast direction.

Frontlines with FIRMS and artillery shelling data – Izyum-Siversk-Bakhmut, 12-18 September 2022

 

Frontlines with FIRMS and artillery shelling data – Donetsk Oblast – 12-18 September 2022

 

Zaporizhzhia direction

There were no frontline changes in this direction last week.

There is increasing number of reports suggesting that Ukrainians are preparing for a counterattack in Zaporizhzhia. Although such rumours have been circulating for over two weeks, no large-scale attacks have occurred. Most of these reports claim that Kyiv is concentrating its forces near Vuhledar, suggesting that the ultimate goal could be to reach Mariupol.

We must remember that Kyiv is running a very effective PSYOPS against Russians. A counterattack in the Kherson direction had been announced weeks if not months in advance, which stood in stark contrast to operational security measures applied when the attack kicked off. While Russia had forces in place to respond to the attack in Kherson, they were utterly unprepared to deal with another assault in the Kharkiv Oblast. Maybe Ukraine will strike somewhere else, where they feel the chances of success are the highest.

But strategically, “destroying” the Russian land bridge between Crimea and Donetsk Oblast would significantly impact Russian operations in the south, be a massive PR defeat, and threaten Russian positions in the Kherson Oblast.

Frontlines with FIRMS and artillery shelling data – Zaporizhzhia, 12-18 September 2022

 

Kherson direction

There appeared to be no frontline changes in the Kherson Oblast last week.

According to Oleksandr Samoilenko, the speaker of Kherson Oblast’s legislature, Ukrainian forces liberated Kyselivka, but this claim has never been confirmed.

Over the past week, Ukrainians made no confirmed territorial gains. However, interestingly, according to Russian sources, Ukrainians could be spreading their forces slightly to decrease the effectiveness of artillery strikes. In the offense, they use small but highly mobile groups to conduct raids deep behind the enemy’s lines. One of such raids reportedly ended in Charivne,  halfway between Beryslav and Davydiv Brid.

We noticed no changes when it came to the Ukrainian approach. The plan is based on maintaining ground pressure on Russian formations while simultaneously conducting precision attacks on Russian army rear services, bridges, and C2 points.

But despite numerous attacks on bridges and pontoon crossings, Moscow maintains its ability to move forces across the theatre. For instance, the hole in the Nova Khakovka bridge has been filled with rubble and dirt to make it passable. Russians are resorting to many makeshift fixes not to lose their access to the northern part of the Kherson Oblast, and so far, it is working.

The Ukrainian General Staff occasionally claims that the Russian military prepares ways of retreat in Kherson Oblast. We, however, have seen no such preparations. The sinking rail cars could mean efforts to maintain crossings to ensure movement, not necessarily in anticipation of a withdrawal. On the contrary, last week, some of our Ukrainian sources claimed that Russians were rotating their forces while simultaneously reinforcing their presence north of Dnieper.

On Sunday night, there was a skirmish in the city of Kherson, but it is unclear who fought with you and what caused it. One of the most recurring answers to these questions talked about an exchange of fire between Chechen fighters and those from Wagner. But, of course, this is just a guess.

To hinder attempts to organise the referendum on joining Russia, on Friday, Ukrainian forces conducted multiple PGM attacks on Russia’s occupation headquarters in Kherson. Altogether, up to five missiles landed on the Kherson Administrative Court, which houses the occupation administration, and which, at that time, held a meeting of Russian-appointed city and municipal heads. The strike delivered at least three dead. Kyiv’s goal is clear. On the one hand, it seeks to force the occupiers and their appointed officials to abandon the referendum idea. On the other, it sends a message to potential collaborators that they could also be targeted.

Frontlines with FIRMS and artillery shelling data – Kherson and Mykolaiv Oblasts, 12-18September 2022

 

Outlook for the week of 19-25SEP

In assessing the probability or likelihood of certain events, we will use a set of terms followed by the US Intelligence Community.

 

Almost no chance Very unlikely Unlikely Roughly even chance Likely Very likely Almost certain(ly)
Remote Highly improbable Improbable (improbably) Roughly even odds Probable

(Probably)

Highly probable Nearly certain
0-5% 5-20% 20-45% 45-55% 55-80% 80-95% 95-99%

 

We have decided to introduce more accountability to our forecasts. Therefore, each weekly update will feature an assessment of how correct (or incorrect) our predictions were. Here is what we said last week. Please also remember that while we try to remain as objective as possible regarding our performance, the reader will ultimately have to decide how (in)accurate we have been.

Previous forecasts

“Starting with the Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine will likely make more gains next week. There is roughly even chance they will begin to attack Russian positions in the northwestern parts of the Luhansk Oblast.” This forecast was correct in that Ukraine established control over all areas west of the Oskil River and extended their gains over the river in Kupyansk.

“Regarding areas around Izyum, we believe this is no longer a viable axis of advance. The tables have turned. Ukrainians either control the city or will liberate it over the coming days. We think it is likely that Ukrainian forces will recapture Lyman (although this may have already happened), and they will likely push forward towards Severodonetsk, Nova Astrakhan, and Krasnorichens’ke. There is a roughly even chance that Severodonetsk will be retaken.” This forecast was incorrect. Although Izyum was taken, Ukrainian progress in this area was limited to capturing a couple of settlements near Lyman. Lyman remains under the control of Russian forces.

“Pressure on Slovyansk has been alleviated, and a Russian attack no longer threatens the city.” This forecast was correct. We are removing Slovyansk from the forecast.

“The same probably goes for Siversk. There have been reports that the Ukrainians are near the Lysychansk Oil Refinery. There is a roughly even chance that Lysychansk and Severodonetsk will be liberated.” We were right that Siversk is no longer threatened, but we overestimated the Ukrainian ability to push towards Lysychansk and Severodonetsk.

“However, Ukrainians will likely continue their tactical raids over the Donets River.” This forecast was correct.

“Regarding Soldedar, Russians and their proxies will likely make minimal gains.” There was no information about Russian progress in this area.

“We assess that there is a roughly even chance that Russians will make some progress near Bakhmut.” Russians and proxies made incremental gains without impacting the overall operational situation in this area.

“We do not expect major changes in Russian behaviour in the Zaporizhzhia direction next week. But given multiple reports that Ukrainians may be preparing an attack in this direction, we assess a roughly even chance it will happen.” This forecast was correct.

“Lastly, the Kherson Oblast. It is likely that Ukrainians to make some progress in this area. There is roughly even chance they will reach Kherson and that Russians will pull back over the river.” This forecast was generally correct as Ukrainians extended their territorial control slightly, but they did not reach Kherson.

Score: 6.5/9

Next week’s forecast

Everything in war is contingent. With this in mind, here are our predictions for the next week.

Starting with the Kharkiv Oblast, we believe that areas Ukrainians have retaken are now stabilised. We believe Kyiv will likely attempt to push east of the Oskil River, although we are uncertain how organised this effort will be. We do not know whether a new counterattack is being prepared that will seek to push through Russian lines in the northern parts of the Luhansk Oblast.

We think there is roughly even chance that Ukrainian forces will capture Lyman. However, we believe that Ukrainians will likely make new gains around the city.

We think there is roughly even chance that Ukrainians will enter Lysychansk. We think it is unlikely that they will enter Severodonetsk.

There are no changes regarding Soldedar. Russians and their proxies will likely make minimal gains.

There are no changes regarding Bakhmut. We assess that there is a roughly even chance that Russians will make some progress near the city. However, we believe they will likely capture some surrounding settlements.

We do not expect major changes in Russian behaviour in the Zaporizhzhia direction next week. But given multiple reports that Ukrainians may be preparing an attack in this direction, we assess a roughly even chance it will happen.

Lastly, the Kherson Oblast. It is likely that Ukrainians to make some progress in this area. We believe it is unlikely they will reach Kherson next week, and the Russians will abandon their positions north of the Dnieper.

 

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