Russia is likely to ramp up its offensive as it has paused its operations in eastern Ukraine.
William Alberque, director of the arms control program at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, while speaking to news agency Moscow Times said that if Russia has paused its offensive operations it is likely that it will increase the scale of violence.
Russia now controls key Ukrainian cities like Severodonetsk and Lysychansk and has gained a strong foothold in eastern Ukraine. It is now taking time to replenish its forces, weapons and reposition the army so that it can carry out its next wave of attacks.
After the fall of Lysychansk, no territorial gain has been reported in Ukraine’s east by the Russian forces. The evidence that Russia is resting its forces after making strategic gains is evident from the Russian defence ministry statement to troops.
“Servicemen are given the opportunity to rest and receive letters and parcels from home,” a statement from the Russian defence ministry said.
Moscow now controls half of Donbas, though it claims to control the entirety of the region and is seeking full control like it does with Luhansk. But experts believe that Russian forces are replenishing so that it can mount a fresh offensive to control Kyiv.
However, the path to Kyiv will go through Sloviansk and Kramatorsk.
Even though Russian forces are implementing a strategic pause, attacks on areas bordering Sloviansk continue. The rocket strikes at a cultural center in Vinnytsia, attack on a residential area in Chasiv Yar and nine missile strikes in Mykolaiv which killed dozens of civilians show that missile strikes are providing cover to the strategic replenishment drive.
Military analyst Michael Kofman said the fight for Sloviansk and Kramatorsk will be one of the significant battles in the ongoing war. He said Russian forces will likely launch a two-pronged attack on these two cities where they will move south from the Russian-held city of Izyum while launching simultaneous attacks from the east.
Russian president Vladimir Putin kept warning that his forces have not yet begun its full-scale offensive. He said his troops ‘haven’t even started anything yet in earnest’.
Ukrainian forces are now reliant on the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) the US is sending since last month as it may help it attack Russian bases far away from the frontlines.