The past several days have seen a rapid breakthrough of Ukrainian forces along the Kharkiv frontlines, amounting to the capture of several villages towards the key city of Kupiansk. Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces have launched a counter offensive against the areas around the city of Izyum. The recent advancements come as Russian forces have diverted resources to counter Ukrainian operations along the Kherson front.
The city sign reads Kupiansk
?Telegram channel Kharkiv Life pic.twitter.com/LD57xY8NfR
— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) September 9, 2022
Kupiansk is a major logistical hub for Russia’s ground lines of communication to support operations along the Izyum front and the rest of Luhansk. Located at the intersection of the P07 and P79 highways, as well as being a key rail hub, Kupiansk is a crucial center for supplies coming both south and west from Russia. Having captured the town of Shevchenkove, Ukrainian forces have advanced to the outskirts of Kupiansk with reports of shelling in the area tonight. If captured by Ukraine, Russia will lose one of its main bases of operation in the region that will cut off supply access to Izyum.
Ukrainian forces have also launched counter offensives along the Izyum frontline, with reports of new fighting happening in Lyman, which was captured by Russian in May, as well as Izyum itself, which was captured by Russian in March. For Russia, the capture of Izyum was a strategic victory that allowed for its forces from the Luhansk and Kharkiv fronts to meet and create the upper part of a cauldron that surrounds the rest of the Donbas region. Since May, the Izyum frontline has been static due to heavy Ukrainian resistance, as well as the diversion of Russian troops to other areas of operation.
Apparently this bridge leads to Lyman and the UA was already crossing over it earlier.
— Voice of War (@Ardiaei1912) September 9, 2022
It has been speculated among analysts of the Ukraine conflict that the cause for such rapid gains is due to general lack of Russian defenses in the area. As stated previously, Russia had diverted a significant amount of forces and equipment to counter Ukraine’s Kherson offensive, leaving sparse pockets of Luhansk Peoples’ Republic reservists to hold up the positions behind the Kharkiv frontline. Russia will likely re-divert its forces back to this area to reinforce separatist forces.
The unfolding of the counter offensive was described by former Minister of Defense of the Donetsk People’s Republic Igor Girkin, who posted to his Telegram channel yesterday that an organized Russian defense south of Kharkiv was “alles kaput,” meaning “all is destroyed,” adding that “Fights are going on near approaches to Kupyansk. The enemy, using mobile DRGs, makes deep raids behind the lines of our disoriented troops, causing panic with small forces and destroying rear checkpoints, intercepting roads and transport columns. Thanks to reliable communications – these groups are supported by pinpoint missile strikes, and our aviation is not able to recognize “friend or foe” in this mess – therefore, such raids by the enemy are “getting away with” so far.”
??defenders address Zelenskyy from liberated Balakliya
— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) September 8, 2022
If Ukraine is successful in taking Kupiansk, it will cut off supplies to Izyum while it faces attacks from three sides. Likewise, advancements by Ukrainian forces will also extend the range artillery and rockets can target key rail and road infrastructure being used by Russia in Luhansk to supply operations. Analysts and military officials from all sides of the conflict have agreed that the Ukraine war is ultimately a war of attrition now. With that, having or not having access to supply routes will play a crucial role in the success of current and future operations. Kupiansk is a key node in Russia’s ground lines of communication and its loss will impact the Izyum front.