The Russian leadership has admitted its defeat in Kharkiv region, which was the first defeat of the Russian Federation since the beginning of large-scale aggression against Ukraine in 2022, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported on its website.
The ISW report said, “The Kremlin’s acknowledgment of the defeat is part of an effort to mitigate and deflect criticism for such a devastating failure away from Russian President Vladimir Putin and onto the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and the uniformed military command.
“The Kremlin’s admission of defeat in Kharkiv shows that Putin is willing and able to recognize and even accept a Russian defeat at least in some circumstances and focus on deflecting blame from himself.”
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Kremlin officials and state media propagandists are extensively discussing the reasons for the Russian defeat in Kharkiv Oblast, “a marked change from their previous pattern of reporting on exaggerated or fabricated Russian successes with limited detail,” the ISW said.
The Kremlin is likely seeking to use the defeat in Kharkiv to facilitate crypto mobilisation efforts, strengthening patriotic rhetoric and discussion about more complete mobilisation, while revising the bill allowing the military to send appeals for regular semi-annual conscription by mail.
“Nothing in the Duma bill suggests that Putin is preparing to order general mobilisation, and it is far from clear that he could do so quickly.
“Large-scale conscription would very likely overwhelm the Russian MoD’s ability to induct, train, and equip new soldiers, particularly since the Russian training base appears to be strained in preparing the limited numbers of volunteer battalions currently being fielded.
“Russia would likely first have to expand its training base significantly, a time-consuming process, and then find and prepare for combat sufficient equipment to kit out large numbers of new units before it could even begin to handle a large influx of new conscripts.
“Widely-reported Russian materiel shortages suggest deep failures in the Russian military industry that would make generating the necessary equipment, ammunition, and supplies for a large conscript army very difficult.
“ISW has not identified any indicators that preparations for such activities have been ordered or are underway,” the Institute for the Study of War said.
At the same time, the report says that Ukrainian troops likely continued ground attacks along the Lyman-Yampil-Bilohorivka line in northern Donetsk region.
Ukrainian forces could also be conducting limited ground attacks across the Oskil River in Kharkiv region.
They also are continuing ground maneuvers in three areas of Kherson region as part of the ongoing southern counteroffensive.
Russian troops have only made incremental gains south of Bakhmut with continued ground attacks throughout Donetsk region.
The ISW also noted that the media controlled by the Kremlin under their influence have begun openly calling for intensive rocket attacks on critical civilian infrastructure of Ukraine and main supply routes (MSRs).
The report said, “These new calls are a stark departure from the Kremlin‘s previous line claiming that Russian forces did not target civilian infrastructure, and this new narrative is earning the Kremlin public support,” the report says.
The ISW noted that Russia’s military failures in Ukraine are likely continuing to weaken their leverage in the former Soviet Union.
This comes as evidenced of the reports of an attack on Armenian forces along the Azerbaijani-Armenian border.
The report concluded, “The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not comment on whether the Kremlin would fulfill its CSTO obligations to Armenia if Azerbaijan continued to press its attack.
“Russia’s hedging approach may damage Russia’s relationship with Armenia and with other CSTO member states, particularly If Russia cannot provide military or peacekeeping support.”