Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, April 23

April 23, 2022 - Press ISW

Russian forces continued offensive operations along multiple axes even as they completed moving reinforcements drawn from the retreat from Kyiv into the east and continued redeploying some forces from Mariupol to the north. The Russians have not taken time to refit troops moving from Kyiv or Mariupol before recommitting them to combat operations. They are not pausing offensive operations to wait until they have concentrated overwhelming combat power, and they do not appear to be massing forces on a few decisive axes of advance. They are continuing the pattern of operations they have followed throughout the war: committing small collections of units to widely dispersed attacks along multiple axes and refusing to accept necessary operational pauses to set conditions for decisive operations.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, April 22

April 22, 2022 - Press ISW

A briefing by the Russian Deputy Commander of the Central Military District on April 22 reiterated standing Russian objectives in eastern and southern Ukraine and did not announce any new operations. Deputy Commander of the Central Military District Rustam Minnekaev gave a speech to the annual meeting of the Union of Defense Industries on April 22 that has been misinterpreted as the announcement of a new Russian campaign. Minnekaev said Russian forces began a new phase of the war two days ago, an unsurprising confirmation of the new phase of the Russian offensive announced by both Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ukrainian officials on April 19. He stated the primary objective of Russian forces is to capture the entirety of the Donbas region and southern Ukraine to provide a land bridge to Crimea; as ISW has previously assessed, Russian forces seek to capture the entirety of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts and retain control of the Kherson region.

Ukraine Invasion Update 24

April 22, 2022 - Press ISW

Russia and Ukraine are unlikely to resume negotiations in the coming weeks. Both sides await the outcome of Russia’s ongoing offensive in eastern Ukraine as they attempt to build leverage for future negotiations. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced that the second phase of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on April 19 and that its objective is the “complete liberation” of the entirety of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, which are claimed by Russia’s proxies in eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on April 17 that he “[doesn’t] trust the Russian military and Russian leadership” to not attempt to take Kyiv again if they win the battle for eastern Ukraine and re-emphasized that Ukraine is unwilling to give up its territory to end the war.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, April 21

April 21, 2022 - Press ISW

The Kremlin declared victory in the battle of Mariupol. Russian forces will attempt to starve out remaining Ukrainian defenders in the Azovstal Steel Plant rather than clear it through likely costly assaults. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu declared victory in the battle of Mariupol on April 21 despite the continued presence of Ukrainian forces in Mariupol’s Azovstal Steel Plant. In a staged, televised meeting, Putin ordered Shoigu to halt assaults on the plant to limit Russian casualties, claiming Russian forces have already captured the entirety of the city. The Kremlin will spin the (still incomplete) capture of Mariupol into a major victory in Ukraine to compensate for stalled or failed Russian offensives elsewhere.

The PLA’s Evolving Outlook on Urban Warfare: Learning, Training, and Implications for Taiwan

April 21, 2022 - Press ISW

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has been increasing its study, training, and preparation for future urban warfare over the past decade. The PLA has limited experience with urban warfare and so often relies on observations of other militaries to inform its outlook. Among the drivers for this interest in urban warfare is that any Chinese campaign to force “(re)unification” with Taiwan could involve intense fighting in Taiwanese cities. The current edition of the Science of Military Strategy mentions an urban offensive (城市进攻) as a component of island operations (岛上作战) but does not elaborate on the conduct of such an offensive, likely because of the sensitivity of this scenario. This campaign could present a particular challenge, given that over 90 percent of Taiwan’s population lives in cities. Beyond the possibility of invading Taiwan, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is also concerned about terrorist threats, whether real and imagined, within China’s cities or against the security of Chinese citizens and businesses worldwide. Meanwhile, the conduct of urban counterterrorism has become the focus of several exercises and exchanges undertaken by the PLA and the People’s Armed Police (PAP).

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, April 20

April 20, 2022 - Press ISW

Russian forces made minor advances in the ongoing offensive in eastern Ukraine on April 19, seizing several small towns and advancing into the key frontline towns of Rubizhne and Popasna. Russian forces continued major assaults with heavy air and artillery support but are continuing to build the logistics and command-and-control capabilities necessary for a larger offensive. Russian forces have not achieved any major breakthroughs, nor have they demonstrated any new capability to conduct multiple successful, simultaneous advances. Russian forces additionally made grinding progress against remaining Ukrainian defenders in Mariupol’s Azovstal Steel Works and announced plans for a May 9 Victory Day parade in the city – indicating Russian forces will declare victory in Mariupol by that date at the latest.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, April 19

April 19, 2022 - Press ISW

Russian and Ukrainian officials announced that the next phase of the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on April 19. Russian forces conducted intensive artillery and air bombardments of many areas along the front line from around Izyum to Mykolaiv but relatively few ground offensive operations. Russian forces continue to receive personnel and equipment reinforcements as well as command-and-control and logistics capabilities even as they conduct air and artillery preparations and some mechanized advances.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, April 18

April 18, 2022 - Press ISW

Russian forces began a new phase of large-scale offensive operations in eastern Ukraine on April 18 likely intended to capture the entirety of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. Russian forces have been concentrating reinforcements—including both newly-deployed units and damaged units withdrawn from northeastern Ukraine—to the Donbas axis for several weeks. Russian forces conducted large-scale assaults focused on Rubizhne, Popasna, and Marinka with heavy artillery support on April 18 after previously conducting only localized attacks and shelling along the line of contact. Russian forces have not secured any major territorial gains as of publication.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, April 17

April 17, 2022 - Press ISW

Russian forces likely captured the Port of Mariupol on April 16 despite Ukrainian General Staff denials, reducing organized Ukrainian resistance in the city to the Azovstal factory in eastern Mariupol. Russian and DNR forces released footage on April 16 confirming their presence in several key locations in southwestern Mariupol, including the port itself. Isolated groups of Ukrainian troops may remain active in Mariupol outside of the Azovstal factory, but they will likely be cleared out by Russian forces in the coming days. Russian forces likely seek to force the remaining defenders of the Azovstal factory to capitulate through overwhelming firepower to avoid costly clearing operations, but remaining Ukrainian defenders appear intent on staging a final stand. Russian forces will likely complete the capture of Mariupol in the coming week, but final assaults will likely continue to cost them dearly.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, April 16

April 16, 2022 - Press ISW

Ukraine’s sinking of the Moskva was a significant event that has likely triggered intensified Russian air and missile attacks in retaliation, but the decisive operations of this phase of the war will still be conducted on the ground in eastern Ukraine. The commitment of the Black Sea Fleet’s naval infantry to the fight around Mariupol some weeks ago meant that Russian naval operations would play a supporting role in the conflict. Increased Russian air and missile attacks are also unlikely to have a decisive impact on the outcome of the war, since there is no reason to assess that Russia has been holding enough air and missile capability in reserve to tip the balance if it is now committed. This report, and likely future reports as well, will thus remain focused on the ground operations, especially those in eastern Ukraine.