KHARKIV OBLAST, UKRAINE, May 13 — According to analysts at the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW), the Russian offensive on Vovchansk is largely a result of restrictions on Ukraine using Western-provided weapons to strike legitimate military targets on Russian territory, according to the ISW report of May 12.

On May 10, Russia launched a new ground offensive north and northeast of the Kharkiv region, moving forward in small incursions and trying to probe Ukrainian defenses. The border communities came under heavy Russian shelling and air strikes with heavy glide bombs. 

According to ISW, Russian forces are trying to encircle Vovchansk as they are approaching the city itself via Buhruvatka, Starytsia, and Izbytske to the west along the C-210817 road and via Vovchanski Khutory to the east along the O-210825 road.

“The Russian seizure of any of these settlements would cut these Ukrainian ground lines of communication to Vovchansk and make the remaining increasingly crucial to the city’s defense,” the report says.

The ISW also noted that Russian troops are increasingly targeting bridges across nearby water features to isolate the Ukrainian defense of Vovchansk from other areas. They refer to a Ukrainian military observer Kostiantyn Mashovets said that Vovchansk is the leading Russian effort in the northern Kharkiv Oblast direction and that Russian forces intend to bypass Vovchansk itself from the southwest and south.

Mashovets noted that Vovchansk’s proximity to the international border affords Russian forces “many opportunities,” including allowing Russian forces to conduct operations with limited forces and means to achieve a specific result; provides Russian forces with a “small shoulder of delivery” to allow stable control and fire support without moving their artillery; and allows for quick fuel and weapons deliveries to the frontline,” the statement reads.

According to ISW, Russia is likely to control Ohirtseve, Hatyshche, and Tykhe to the west of Vovchansk. There are battles for Buhruvatka, north of Kharkiv — for areas where Russians have advanced.

As the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Oleksandr Syrskyi, writes, fighting continues along the state border of the Russian Federation. “The situation is difficult, but the Ukrainian Defense Forces are doing everything to hold their defensive lines and positions, inflicting damage on the enemy,” Syrskyi wrote.

Intense battles are ongoing in the Kupiansk, Siversk, Lyman, and Pokrovsk directions, and the situation is changing dynamically. Syrskyi said that in some areas, the Russian army has had partial success, while in others, the Defense Forces are pushing the Russians back and improving their tactical position.

In addition, the General Staff reports that Russians are conducting assault operations in the directions of Strilecha — Hlyboke, Oliinykove — Hlyboke, Olinykove — Lukiantsi, Murom — Starytsia, Pletenivka — Tykhe.

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  • The Russian shelling in Vovchansk on May 13 injured three people, reported the Kharkiv Regional Military Administration.