KHARKIV, UKRAINE, Apr 11 — A Russian ground operation against Kharkiv in the very near future is unlikely, but Russian efforts to create strategic reserves and reposition forces in the theater could allow Russian forces to launch an offensive toward the city in the summer, according to the Institute for the Study of War report.

Analysts say the threat of a Russian offensive operation targeting Kharkiv or Sumy city appears to be forcing the Ukrainian military to redistribute its limited manpower and material to the construction of defensive fortifications in those areas, and an active Russian operation to seize these cities would only further exacerbate this dynamic.

“The Russian forces are able to allocate significant resources in hopes of achieving operationally significant breakthroughs in frontline areas of their choosing and can exploit areas of the front previously made vulnerable by Ukrainian manpower and materiel transfers,” the report says.

The ISW notes that Ukrainian forces will likely not be able to contest the theater-wide initiative and more proactively allocate their resources without continuing to address their manpower issues and receiving additional Western aid.

According to experts, the Russian military maintains the theater-wide initiative in Ukraine, and Russia’s ability to conduct opportunistic offensive operations in almost any area of the frontline will continue to strain Ukraine’s already stretched resources, regardless of any one operation’s success in actually seizing a targeted city or settlement.

According to Oleh Syniehubov, head of the Kharkiv Regional Military Administration, the situation on the Kharkiv region’s border with the Russian Federation is currently calm and fully under the control of the Ukrainian forces. He said that the administration doesn’t see Russian troops on the border, which Russia “could use to open a new front,” but they monitor the borderlands constantly.

Syniehubov also called rumors about a possible Russian offensive on Kharkiv manipulations, saying, “Russia has only one goal, it’s to terrorize civilians, to commit terrorist acts. They have no other goals since 2022.”

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