Assessment of the Russian Offensive Campaign, April 19


April 19, 5:30 p.m. ET

Russian and Ukrainian officials announced that the next phase of the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on April 19. Russian forces conducted heavy artillery and air bombardment in many areas along the front line from Izyum to Mykolaiv, but relatively few offensive ground operations. Russian forces continue to receive personnel and equipment reinforcements as well as command and control and logistics capabilities even as they carry out air and artillery preparations and some mechanized advances.

The Russians have not fully set the conditions for a full-scale offensive operation. The Russians did not have enough time to replenish the forces withdrawn from the Battle of kyiv and properly prepare them for a new offensive in the east. The Russians still appear to be developing logistical and command and control capabilities even as they enter the next round of major combat. The tempo of Russian operations continues to suggest that President Vladimir Putin requires a hasty offensive to achieve his stated goals, perhaps by “VE Day” on May 9. The haste and partial preparation of the Russian attack will likely undermine its effectiveness and may jeopardize its success.

Russian forces appear to be attempting a broad encirclement of Ukrainian troops along axes from Izyum in the southeast and the city of Donetsk in the north, even as they push west from Popasna and positions north of Severodonetsk. Russian ground offensives in the past 24 hours have occurred around Izyum, Kreminna (north of Severodonetsk) and the city of Donetsk towards Avdiivka. Only the advance towards and eventually through the Kreminna made significant progress. An encirclement of this magnitude would likely take a long time to complete against Ukrainian resistance. Even if the Russians achieved such an encirclement and trapped a large concentration of Ukrainian forces in one or more pockets, the Ukrainian defenders would probably be able to hold out for a considerable period and may well be able to escape.

The Russians can alternatively try to complete several smaller encirclements simultaneously, each trapping fewer Ukrainian forces and therefore taking less time to complete and then reduce. The coordination of such operations is complicated and exceeds the planning and execution capabilities that the Russian army has demonstrated so far in the conflict.

Ukrainian forces continue to defend parts of the Azovstal complex in Mariupol, but Russian officials and media are gathering in and near the town, likely with a view to declaring victory in the coming days as fighting continues. or not.

Key points to remember

  • The next phase of the Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine is said to have begun, largely with artillery and aerial bombardments supporting a few small-scale ground offensives.
  • Russian officials and media are likely preparing to declare victory in Mariupol in the coming days, perhaps before Ukrainian forces in the Azovstal facility are completely defeated.
  • The Russians can attempt a single large encirclement of Ukrainian forces from Izyum to the city of Donetsk or a series of smaller encirclements within this arc. It is too early to assess the planned Russian maneuver plan.
  • Russian operations continue to proceed in haste, as if President Vladimir Putin has set an arbitrary date by which they must succeed. Putin may have decided to announce a Russian success and completion of the operation on VE Day, May 9. The haste with which Russian forces move can jeopardize the success of their operations.

We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because these activities are well covered by Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we assess and plan. We will continue to assess and report on the effects of these criminal activities on the Ukrainian army and population and more specifically on the fighting in Ukrainian urban areas. We strongly condemn these Russian violations of the law of armed conflict, the Geneva Conventions and humanity, even if we do not describe them in these reports.

The ISW has updated its assessment of the four main efforts in which Russian forces are currently engaged:

  • Main Effort – Eastern Ukraine (composed of two subordinate supporting efforts);
  • Support Effort 1—Kharkiv and Izyum;
  • Support Effort 2—South Axis;
  • Supporting Effort 3 — Sumy and Northeastern Ukraine.

Main Effort – Eastern Ukraine

Subordinate Main Effort – Mariupol (Russian objective: Capture Mariupol and reduce Ukrainian defenders)

Russian forces continued to prioritize the capture of the Azovstal Ironworks from the north, but made no significant advances by 19 April. The leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR), Denis Pushilin, announced that the capture of Azovstal was the main priority of the DNR, and the people The spokesman of the militia, Eduard Basurin, said that an assault with Russian forces began on April 19.[1] Adviser to the Ukrainian mayor of Mariupol, Petro Andryushenko, said Russian forces gathered heavy weapons and tanks in the city’s Left Bank district near the factory, but continued to shell residential streets in the area. piece.[2] Russian forces carried out an airstrike on the northern end of the plant on April 18.[3] Russian social media accounts have posted photos of Russian forces entering a warehouse near Azovstal, but ISW cannot confirm the authenticity or location of the images.[4]

The Russian Ministry of Defense made another request for the Ukrainian fighters of the Azov regiment to surrender, which the defenders of Mariupol refused. Ukrainian forces held their positions at the factory and continued limited street fighting in central Mariupol.[5]

The Kremlin is likely trying to expedite the capture of Mariupol for the Russian national news space judging by the heavy presence of Kremlin-sponsored journalists in the area.[6] The Russians can announce success even though Ukrainian forces retain their grip on parts of Azovstal, or they can wait until Russian or proxy forces have secured the entire installation.

Subordinate Main Effort – Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts (Russian objective: capture the entirety of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts, the territory claimed by Russia’s proxies in Donbass)

Russian forces stepped up offensive operations in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts on April 19.[7] Russian artillery fire continued to target Popasna, Rubizhe, Lysychansk and Severodonetsk and shell various settlements in Donetsk Oblast over the past 24 hours.[8] Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said Russian troops were consolidating near Adviivka and Mariinka.[9] Ukrainian forces reportedly repelled attempted Russian advances towards Avdiivka, Popasna and Rubizhne on the night of 18 April.[10] Pro-Russian sources also claimed that Russian troops entered Torske in order to encircle Ukrainian positions in Lysychansk, Severodonetsk and Rubizhne, but the ISW cannot independently verify this claim.[11]

Supporting Effort #1—Kharkiv and Izyum: (Russian objective: advance southeast to support Russian operations in Luhansk Oblast; defend ground lines of communication (GLOC) to Izyum axis)

Russian forces continued to shell settlements in Kharkiv Oblast and maintained a partial blockade of Kharkiv city on April 19.[12] The Ukrainian General Staff said Russian troops launched an unsuccessful offensive south of Izyum and generally conducted offensive operations along the eastern bank of the Siversky Donets River.[13] Vyacheslav Zadorenko, the mayor of Derhachi, which is about 10 miles northwest of the city of Kharkiv, said Russian forces were likely blockading about six settlements around Derhachi as of April 10.[14]

Supporting Effort #2—South Axis: (Objective: Defend Kherson against Ukrainian counterattacks)

Russian forces continued to fight outside Oleksandrivka on April 19 without any significant territorial changes.[15] Head of Zaporizhia Oblast Oleksandr Staruckh said Russian units were concentrating in Polohy in central Zaporizhia Oblast.[16] Russian forces may intend to halt Ukrainian counter-offensives in this area or may plan a more ambitious advance to reach the N15 highway east of the city of Zaporizhia.

Supporting Effort #3—Subi and Northeastern Ukraine: (Russian objective: withdraw combat power in good order for redeployment to eastern Ukraine)

There has been no significant change in this area in the past 24 hours.

Immediate things to watch out for

  • Russian forces will likely continue to attack southeast of Izyum, west of Kreminna and Popasna, and north of the city of Donetsk via Avdiivka.
  • Russian troops and aircraft will continue to shell the Azovstal facility, and Russian officials may declare victory in Mariupol even before the facility is fully cleared.
  • Russian forces are likely to increase the scale of offensive ground operations in the coming days, but it is too early to tell how quickly they will do so or how large these offensives will be. It’s also too early to assess how the Russians are likely to weigh their efforts in the arc from Izyum to Donetsk City.

See quotes


About Author

Comments are closed.