According to the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW), this may indicate that Russian troops intend to escalate their offensive along the Kupiansk-Svatove-Kreminna line.

Positional fighting on the line continued on March 1. The Institute cited Russian and Ukrainian sources as confirming that fighting continued northeast of Kupiansk near Synkivka and Petropavlivka, southeast of Kupiansk near Tabaivka, west of Kreminna near Terny and Yampolivka, and south of Kreminna near Bilohorivka.

ISW cites Russian mil bloggers who posted footage of alleged Russian troops striking a Ukrainian pontoon bridge over the Oskil River near Kupiansk-Vuzlovyi (southeast of Kupiansk) with guided aerial bombs and claims that Russian forces have allegedly destroyed all fixed bridges across the Oskil River.

The U.S. researchers add that Russian forces likely did indeed damage fixed bridges across the Oskil River during the September-October 2023 strike campaign. Although these efforts were unsuccessful in isolating Ukrainians near Kupiansk then, Ukrainian defense forces were not facing supply difficulties on the eastern bank of the Oskil River.

The Oskil River flow in Kharkiv Oblast. Kupiansk direction / Map: ISW

The ISW adds that units of the Chechen Akhmat special forces “Aida” and the Russian “GORB” detachment have begun operating near Bilohorivka.

According to Oleh Syniehubov, the head of the Kharkiv Regional Military Administration, Russian troops continue to storm the positions of Ukrainian defenders in the Kupiansk sector, trying to take advantage of favorable heights and hold Kupiansk as an essential logistics hub. However, despite the concentration of Russian forces, Ukrainians are holding back the onslaught and are not giving up their positions.

He adds that Russia uses all types of weapons to shell the border areas – aircraft, artillery, MLRS, drones, and civilians are being called to evacuate.

Kupiansk, a town in eastern Kharkiv Oblast with a pre-war population of about 30,000 people, was occupied from late February till September 2022. The city is a railway and road hub in Eastern Ukraine between Kharkiv and Luhansk regions.

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Constant missile attacks and deserted streets: how Kupiansk lives on the front line. It is 10-15 km / 6–9 miles from the front line and 40 km / 25 miles from the border with Russia. The city was severely damaged at the beginning of the full-scale invasion and during the battle for its liberation in September 2022.