Apparently, Moscow is focused on conducting an orderly withdrawal of its troops, rather than holding its positions near the city.
The Russian military has likely decided to completely withdraw from its positions around Kharkov in the face of Ukrainian counter-offensives and limited reinforcements.
This is stated in the new report of the Institute for the Study of War (USA).PlayUnmute
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Russian units have generally not attempted to hold ground against counterattacking Ukrainian forces over the past few days, with a few exceptions.
Apparently, Moscow is focused on pursuing an orderly withdrawal and is prioritizing getting the Russians home before allowing proxy forces into Russia rather than trying to hold their ground near the city.
Thus, Ukraine seems to have won the battle for Kharkiv, analysts say.
“Ukrainian forces prevented Russian troops from encircling, let alone capturing, Kharkiv, and then drove them out from under the city, as they did with Russian troops trying to capture Kyiv,” the report says.
The Ukrainian Armed Forces will likely attempt to disrupt at least the westernmost of the land lines (CLCs) between Belgorod and the Russian forces centered around Izyum, although Russia uses several CLKs, including some farther away from the current Ukrainian positions.
The terrain to the east of the current Ukrainian positions may also favor Russian attempts to defend their position, as large water features direct traffic and create bottlenecks that the Ukrainians will have to break through.
Also, Russian troops attempted a ground offensive from Izyum, but to no avail.
Small-scale and unsuccessful attacks on the southern tip of the salient near Donetsk continued, but without real progress.
The main efforts of the Russians are still attempts to encircle Severodonetsk and Lisichansk from the north and from the south. Russian troops advancing from Popasna to the north have not made significant progress over the past day. Russian troops marching from north to south were unable to cross the Seversky Donets River and suffered crushing losses in their attempts.
The Russians may not have the extra fresh fighting power to make up for these losses and continue to advance on a large enough scale to complete the encirclement, although they will likely continue to try to do so.