Russian troops have regained the initiative in Ukraine and launched another major offensive in Luhansk Region, according to the 8 January report by the US Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
“The pace of Russian operations along the Svatove-Kreminna line in western Luhansk Oblast has increased markedly over the past week, and Russian sources are widely reporting that conventional Russian troops are attacking Ukrainian defensive lines and making marginal advances along the Kharkiv-Luhansk Oblast border, particularly northwest of Svatove near Kupyansk and west of Kreminna,” the message reads.
Geolocated footage has confirmed Russian gains in the Dvorichne area northwest of Svatove.
Moreover, Russian military command appears to have fully committed elements of several conventional divisions to decisive offensive operations along the Svatove-Kreminna line, as ISW previously reported.
Elements of several regiments of the 144th and 3rd Motor Rifle Division (20th Combined Arms Army, Western Military District) and a regiment of the 90th Tank Division (Central Military District), supported by elements of the 76th Airborne Division and unspecified Southern Military District elements, are conducting offensive operations along the entire Svatove-Kreminna line and are reportedly advancing against Ukrainian defences.
The commitment of significant elements of at least three major Russian divisions to offensive operations in this sector indicates the Russian offensive has begun, even if Ukrainian forces are so far preventing Russian forces from securing significant gains.
The Russian offensive likely has not yet reached its full tempo; Russian command has not yet committed elements of the 2nd Motorized Rifle Division (1st Guards Tank Army, Western Military District), which deployed to Luhansk Region in January after deploying to Belarus.
“Russian forces are gradually beginning an offensive, but its success is not inherent or predetermined. While Russian forces in Luhansk Oblast now have the initiative (in that Russian forces are setting the terms of battle, ending the period of Ukrainian initiative from August 2022), the full commitment of these forces could lead to their eventual culmination along the Svatove-Kreminna line without achieving their objectives of capturing all of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts,” ISW noted.
That culmination would likely provide a window of opportunity for Ukrainian forces to exploit with their own counteroffensive.
Earlier, the Head of the Luhansk Regional Military Administration, Serhiy Hayday, said that Russian invaders could start attacking in three areas in Luhansk Region - Svatove, Kreminna, and Bilohorivka - but the Ukrainian Armed Forces are ready for this.