The Russian military is trying to carry out offensive operations in several areas of the front in Ukraine during the most challenging weather, with the aim of taking and keeping the initiative ahead of the presidential elections, which are scheduled for March next year. This was stated by the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW) in the latest assessment of the state of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has been in power for over 23 years, announced on Friday that he will run for re-election in the March elections.
More in an interview with an expert on Russia, Pavel Havlíček:
According to ISW, Russian forces are currently attempting to conduct offensive operations on most of the front in Ukraine, especially along the border between Kharkiv and Luhansk regions, near Bakhmut and around Avdijivka. The Ukrainian command admits that the enemy managed to take the combat initiative in these places. The Russians are also launching ground attacks in the west of the Zaporozhye region. Ukrainian troops maintain the initiative in key areas in the south of Ukraine, as evidenced by their counterattacks in the west of the Zaporozhye region, but also by their presence on the east bank of the Dnieper in the Kherson region.
US analysts point out that the Russians are trying to seize the initiative despite adverse weather conditions, confirming assumptions that bad weather, including mud, strong winds, snow and frost, may slow but not stop the fighting on the front.
The fact that the Russian military has taken this course since early or mid-November, when the weather conditions are the most demanding of the year, may indicate that it is under pressure to seize and hold the initiative in the run-up to the elections. However, according to ISW, it is not clear whether the current Russian offensive operations will create the conditions for the Russians to make any significant gains.
“The severe weather appears to have slowed the pace of Russian advance along the entire front line, increased Russian casualties and further eroded the morale of Russian troops,” ISW writes.