ISW: There is a real threat that Russian forces will take Chasiv Yar

Since March, Russian invaders have stepped up their efforts to take the town before US assistance strengthens Ukraine’s defenses.

According to a 26 April assessment by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), Russian invading troops pose an actual threat to take Chasiv Yar, even though they might not be able to do it quickly.

Russians are attempting to advance to Chasiv Yar, 10km from Bakhmut

The strategically significant town of Chasiv Yar, ten kilometers from the destroyed and captured Bakhmut town, sits atop commanding heights that are advantageous for defensive operations (see the DeepState’s war map).

Since March 2024, Russian soldiers stationed on Chasiv Yar’s eastern periphery have been stepping up their attempts to take the town. According to the Ukrainian military, the Russians are attempting to advance to the town of Chasiv Yar, and the situation on the front lines in the Donetsk region has been deteriorating recently.

In contrast to the Russian offensive northwest of Avdiivka, the ISW claims that the Russian assault on Chasiv Yar is far greater.

Since taking the town would probably allow Russian forces to launch more offensive operations against towns that form a significant Ukrainian defensive belt in Donetsk region, the ISW states that “the offensive effort to seize Chasiv Yar offers Russian forces the most immediate prospects for operationally significant advances.”

According to the ISW study, there is a possibility that Russian forces may not be able to capture Chasiv Yar quickly, despite their serious threat to do so.

“Russian forces are probably trying to take as much territory as they can before the arrival of US security assistance, which greatly strengthens Ukrainian defensive capabilities in the coming weeks,” the ISW concluded.

Furthermore, it suggests that “despite the relative operational insignificance of those gains, the area provides greater opportunities for making more rapid tactical gains, which may be the reason why the Russian military command is intensifying offensive operations northwest of Avdiivka.”

Russians are attempting to destroy Chasiv Yar – Ukrainian officer

Russia is attempting to destroy Chasiv Yar because it is aware that it will be impossible to take the town in the Donetsk region. Maksym Matviychuk, a Ukrainian officer and commander of the Rubizh brigade’s reconnaissance platoon, announced this on the Espreso TV channel.

“At the moment, the enemy is assembling more reserves and mobilizing the largest number of forces—which is now a small number. With all of its strength, the Russian army is attempting to seize Chasiv Yar by avoiding it from the flanks. However, in this region, the Russian occupants now face two issues. One of these is the artificial river known as the Siverskyi Donets, which prevents opposing equipment from moving. For us, this is an example of a ready-made defense line that will require significant effort on the part of the adversary to breach. The Russians will only be able to establish a small bridgehead, even if they are successful,” the NGU officer stated, adding that the Ukrainian defense forces would quickly retake it.

Chasiv Yar is a height that is very difficult to take. Matviychuk predicted that the Russian army would attempt to breach the flanks because it is aware of this.

According to analysts at ISW, “the offensive effort to seize Chasiv Yar offers Russian forces the most immediate prospects for operationally significant advances, as the seizure of the town would likely allow Russian forces to launch subsequent offensive operations against towns that form a significant Ukrainian defensive belt in the Donetsk region.”

While they probably won’t be able to take Chasiv Yar quickly, they also stress that the Russian forces “do pose a real threat” to doing so. Furthermore, the ISW implies that Russian forces are most likely attempting to seize as much ground as they can before US assistance to Ukraine arrives. 

Other conclusions drawn from the ISW’s Ukraine front line report:

  • If Russian forces manage to stabilize their minor pocket northwest of Avdiivka, they may force Ukrainian forces to retreat from other tactical positions along the frontline west of Avdiivka to a more defendable line.
  • According to reports, US officials are concerned that Ukraine might not be able to reclaim all of its territory with the current round of military assistance from the US. Furthermore, Ukraine is addressing other warfighting demands, including the expansion of its defense industrial base (DIB) and personnel issues. The US military support is only one aspect of what Ukraine needs right now.
  • Russian forces are reportedly using drones modified to withstand Ukrainian electronic warfare (EW) capabilities in key frontline sectors. This is likely an attempt to take advantage of new technological advancements and a brief window of opportunity before US security assistance reaches Ukraine.
  • Russian and Ukrainian forces have recently confirmed advances near the border areas of the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia Oblast and Avdiivka, respectively, as well as near Siversk.
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