Another Russian defeat?
Think tank sees Ukraine victorious in battle for Kharkiv
05/14/2022, 1:19 p.m.
The city of Kharkiv has been hotly contested since the start of the Ukrainian war. Today, the Institute for the Study of War believes that the Russian armed forces suffered a serious setback there. Experts even suspect a local victory.
Ukrainian forces “appear to have won the Battle of Kharkiv”. This is the assessment of the American Institute for the Study of War, a defense think tank. Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, lies just 50 kilometers from the Russian border and has been bombarded by Russia since the war began in February.
The US institute sees the fighting around Kharkiv as another clear setback to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war aims. This is evidenced, among other things, by the fact that Russian units did not attempt to hold their positions around the city against a counterattack by Ukrainian troops. “Ukraine appears to have won the battle for Kharkiv,” the institute said. “Ukrainian forces prevented Russian troops from encircling, let alone taking, Kharkiv, and then drove them from the outskirts of the city.” They would have done the same in the battle for the Ukrainian capital of kyiv.
According to international military experts, the successes could be based mainly on the fact that the Russian army had deployed in the sector only poorly trained fighters from the separatist regions of Lugansk and Donetsk. A recently published video of the capture of two soldiers from Khrustalnyj seems to support this thesis.
Replacement by mercenaries?
On the other hand, American experts suspect a change in strategy on the part of Russia. Apparently, the action is aimed at replacing their own troops with mercenaries, among others. Analysts say Russian units have made little attempt to assert themselves against Ukrainian forces in recent days. “Reports from Western officials and a video from a Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) officer indicate that Moscow is focusing on an orderly withdrawal of its own troops, rather than holding positions near the city.” After that, the proxy forces would be allowed to intervene in the forces. Ukraine now controls an area extending to the Siverskyi Donets River, about 40 km east of the city.
Earlier, British military intelligence said Russia had lost “significant armored maneuver elements” of a tactical battalion group, usually numbering around 800 men, in an unsuccessful attempt to cross the important Donbass river southeast of Kharkiv. Local authorities also report that Moscow continues to bomb villages north of Kharkiv.
On Friday evening, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov wrote in a Facebook post: “We are entering a new and long phase of the war.” He predicted “extremely difficult weeks” in which Ukraine would be largely alone against an “enraged aggressor”. In his daily video address on Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said: “The gradual liberation of the Kharkiv region proves that we will leave no one to the enemy.”