Russia Conducts Lowest Rates of Offensive Operations since January 2023 – UK Intelligence

Friday, 17 March 2023

Russian troops have temporarily depleted the combat capability of their deployed formations in Ukraine and have had one of the lowest rates of offensive operations since at least January 2023.

As UK Defence Intelligence reports, in recent days, Russian and Wagner Group forces have obtained footholds west of the Bakhmutka River in the centre of the contested Donbas town of Bakhmut. Over the preceding week, the river had marked the front line. The Ukrainian Armed Forces continue to defend the west of the city.

However, more broadly across the front line, Russia is conducting some of the lowest rates of local offensive action that has been seen since at least January 2023. 

This is most likely because Russian forces have temporarily depleted the deployed formations’ combat power to the extent that even local offensive actions are not currently sustainable.

Russian leaders will likely seek to regenerate the offensive potential of the force once personnel and munition stocks are replenished. In the meantime, commanders will likely be forced to choose between conducting offensive operations and conducting a credible defence of the entire line.

Western intelligence estimates Russia's losses in recent months in the battles for the city of Bakhmut (Ukr), Donetsk Oblast, at 20,000-30,000 mercenaries from the Wagner Private Military Company (PMC); about a third of them may be dead. 

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin assured Ukraine of support regardless of what decision it makes regarding the defence of the city.

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