Russian Troops Too ‘Exhausted’ to Defend Front Line: ISW


Ukrainian service members collect unexploded shells after fighting with a Russian raiding group in Kyiv, on February 26, 2022. An ISW assessment from April 23, 2023, called Russian troops fighting throughout Ukraine “exhausted” and “disorganized.”SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

An assessment released Sunday from a prominent United States-based think tank described Russian troops in Ukraine as too “disorganized” and “exhausted” to maintain crucial front line positions.

Institute for the Study of War (ISW) wrote that most of Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s available military forces are currently involved in offensive or defensive operations in Ukraine and “significant reserves” would need to be brought in order to achieve any effective offensive operations.

The ISW assessment comes as fierce fighting continues in Ukraine, including in the highly-contested city of Bakhmut. Talks of Ukraine mounting a counteroffensive have also intensified, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a Sunday interview with Al Arabiya that his forces are “getting ready” for a counterattack and “doing everything we can in order to make it stronger.”

Sunday’s “special edition campaign assessment” from ISW detailed Russia’s order of battle (ORBAT) in Ukraine and assessed its capabilities along the front lines.

Russian troops are currently operating in seven areas, according to the think tank: Avdiivka-Donetsk; Bakhmut; Kupiansk; Kherson Oblast; Luhansk region; the western part of Donetsk Oblast/eastern part of Zaporizhzhia Oblast; and the western part of the Zaporizhzhia region.

“The generally exhausted condition of troops and the apparently disorganized and fragmented deployment pattern in some areas will likely pose significant obstacles to Russia’s prospects for defending critical sectors of the front line,” the ISW said.

The ISW also noted that it does not assume any Russian units or formations are currently at full capacity.

“[I]t is highly likely that the majority of Russian elements throughout Ukraine are substantially below full strength due to losses taken during previous phases of the war,” the ISW said.

Most of the Russian offensives in the various regions have not been successful, while the front in Kherson city has been “mostly static” since Putin’s troop withdrawal there last year, according to the report.

The assessment also detailed the current state of the months-long conflict in Bakhmut. The ISW said recent movements by Russian forces there suggest the country’s military leadership is seeking to seize control of the city before Ukraine launches its counteroffensive.

Russia’s Ministry of Defense recently committed airborne troops to fight alongside the Wagner Group of mercenaries, which has given Putin’s side the advantage in the city. However, this could come at a great cost to Wagner.

Since the airborne units are “likely further removed from direct, highly attritional urban combat than Wagner elements,” these formations “will thus likely emerge from the battle for Bakhmut in substantially better shape than Wagner.”

But while the “Wagner Group continues to take heavy losses,” Russia “may well be able to complete the seizure of the city at some point,” ISW said.

Newsweek reached out to the Russian Defense Ministry via email for comment.

One comment

  1. “An assessment released Sunday from a prominent United States-based think tank described Russian troops in Ukraine as too “disorganized” and “exhausted” to maintain crucial front line positions.”

    That’s very good. But, dead ruzzians would be better.

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