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Recently, Russia has made progress in the war in the eastern four provinces of Ukraine. However, what puzzles me is why Russia is not launching further offensives near Belgorod and Kharkiv, leaving the entire northern front relatively calm.

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    The obvious explanation is that they're short on resources.
    – Allure
    Feb 29 at 3:31
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    The last time they tried to take Kharkiv, it did not go well for them. The area's only gotten more fortified since then.
    – Mark
    Feb 29 at 3:46
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    They’ll probably do just that after the Russian Presidential election, as that’s when a new wave of mobilization is expected to happen. Feb 29 at 5:27
  • @Mark: to be fair, they failed to take it because they sent too few troops to take such a big city. And they got attacked on the streets, had their supply/2nd line columns ambushed etc. Feb 29 at 9:07
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    Military decisions are borderline also political decisions, but I believe we armchair generals cannot really answer this question more than with opinions. You could ask if Russian official sources have somehow commented on that possibility or military/political experts all over the World, but even that would likely be mostly opinion-based. I think the answer is that it's not yet an all out war for Russia but likely "only" a limited war. They want to bite a junk out of Ukraine in the end, but not Ukraine as a whole (which they couldn't swallow anyway). Feb 29 at 9:22

2 Answers 2

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Russia does not have enough immediate resources to open the second front line in the north without withdrawing troops and heavy weapons from the current one.

It is obviously a military secret how much resources are still available, but likely there is a reason why they buy weapons from North Korea and send the 50 year old tanks to the front.

They still need some army to protect the long borders of Russian federation and likely some of the most advanced weapons are reserved for defense of the own country.

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Why should Russia wish to open up another offensive on the Northern front, and advance beyond the defensive lines they have already built there, when they've only just got the Southern front moving forward?

I think the most obvious explanation though is that Kharkiv isn't formally annexed into Russia, whereas the south-eastern regions circling the Azov Sea are now annexed into Russia, so it follows that Russia considers those annexed regions to be most valuable or most viable to retain.

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  • Did they actually build defensive line or significance across the internationally recognized (i.e. pre-war) border? IIRC most of their build (Surovikin Line etc.) was in occupied areas. Feb 29 at 7:01
  • IIRC the Ukraine-allied Russian proxies waltzed into that area pretty easily on their raid, so that suggests Russia didn't have much of a line there. (Maybe they built one after that.) Feb 29 at 7:06
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    "Why should Russia wish to..." To accelerate territorial gains maybe? Once you are at war, you could as well do it extensively and use advances elsewhere to have more bargaining power later on. Feb 29 at 9:25
  • @Dolphin613Motorboat, to be honest I don't know exactly where Russia's dug-in defensive lines are, but I assume both sides will dig in along any line where they are stationary for a while. I assume Russia has a defensive line in the North currently, at the front of the territory it has seized, not at the front of its pre-war border
    – Steve
    Feb 29 at 9:47
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    @NoDataDumpNoContribution, indeed but the fact that Russia has paused in a particular place suggests it doesn't have the resources to keep any larger offensive going than it is already doing. And if you've only just started to push forward and breach the opponent's defences in one place, you wouldn't suddenly reallocate those resources elsewhere - usually you do the opposite, concentrate all the forces you can spare at the breach, and push through the gap so that you get a volume of your forces behind the opponent's existing defensive line.
    – Steve
    Feb 29 at 9:54

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