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ISW Reports: Russian Forces Intensify Offensive Operations Across Ukraine

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), in its April 3, 2024 report, indicates that Russian forces are intensifying their offensive operations across Ukraine. There has been a marked increase in the frequency and magnitude of mechanized ground assaults on specific frontline sectors in the last two weeks, signaling a widespread escalation of Russian mechanized attacks across the operational theater. This escalation is occurring alongside intensified missile and drone strikes against Ukrainian energy infrastructure. The intensification of these attacks forces the Ukrainian command to redistribute air defense systems away from the frontline, thereby facilitating Russian air operations in support of ground assaults more effectively.
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Many of these attacks are being countered using Ukrainian FPV drones, representing a tactical advancement in the conflict against Russian forces, particularly in destroying enemy tanks (Picture source: 14th Separate Regiment)

The report underscores the Russian military's capacity to adapt, albeit unevenly or slowly, suggesting that Ukrainian forces have a narrow window to optimally utilize new Western systems to generate significant operational impacts. The timely introduction of new Western systems could potentially enable Ukrainian forces to halt Russian progress and possibly conduct counter-offensive operations, contingent on available manpower.

Several Russian offensives have been repelled by Ukrainian forces. On March 20, Ukrainian forces countered a significant Russian offensive in the Lyman direction, with geolocated images showing Ukrainian forces damaging or destroying numerous Russian armored vehicles east of Terny (west of Kreminna). Ukrainian forces later overcame a battalion-sized Russian mechanized assault near Tonenke (west of Avdiivka) on March 30, in which Russian forces had reportedly committed at least 36 tanks and 12 infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs).

A Ukrainian serviceman reported the destruction of 12 Russian tanks and eight IFVs during the Tonenke assault, marking it as one of the few assaults of this scale along the entire frontline since the campaign to seize Avdiivka began in October 2023. Another significant engagement took place near Terny on January 20.

Further geolocated imagery from April 3 shows Ukrainian forces repelling a reinforced platoon-sized Russian mechanized assault near Terny. These images are likely recent and distinct from the March 20 footage of Russian assaults near Terny.

Many of these attacks are being countered using Ukrainian FPV drones, representing a tactical advancement in the conflict against Russian forces, particularly in destroying enemy tanks. Operated remotely with a first-person view, these drones provide Ukrainian operators with unmatched precision for surgical strikes against strategic targets. Equipped with high-definition cameras and sometimes explosive payloads, FPV drones can maneuver agilely through complex environments, allowing Ukrainian forces to identify and neutralize Russian tanks effectively. This asymmetrical warfare method, blending cutting-edge technology with guerrilla tactics, highlights the ingenuity of Ukrainian forces against a conventionally superior military adversary.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky recently announced during a joint briefing with Finnish President Aleksandra Stubb in Kyiv that Russia is planning to mobilize 300,000 new soldiers by June 1st. This statement comes as Ukraine and Russia continue to clash on multiple fronts. Alongside the intensification of mechanized ground offensives by Russia, this move towards massive mobilization marks an escalation in Russian military preparedness.

On his part, President Zelensky has mentioned that he does not see the need to mobilize 500,000 soldiers at the moment and that an audit had revealed the presence of sufficient forces within the army. Nevertheless, both countries will soon be forced to mobilize more men to maintain the current intensity of the conflict.

However, Russian forces might increase mechanized assaults before the spring's muddy conditions complicate mechanized maneuver warfare. They may also intensify these assaults to capitalize on Ukrainian material shortages before the expected arrival of Western security assistance.

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