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Ukrainian forces are successfully launching a counter-offensive in Kharkiv and may soon push Russian troops back towards the Russian border, according to a US think tank.
Russian forces are withdrawing from the northeast region of Kharkiv and have notably destroyed several bridges in an effort to “succeed the Ukrainian attack”, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a group based in Washington DC.
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“Armies generally only destroy bridges if they have largely decided not to attempt to cross the river in the other direction anytime soon; therefore it is unlikely that Russian forces will launch operations to retake the northern outskirts. east of Kharkiv liberated by Ukrainian forces in the near future,” the report said.
Ukraine’s military success in Kharkiv could force a strategic shift in Russian forces, preventing reinforcements now needed in Kharkiv from providing support in other areas, the report said.
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These potential reinforcements, however, might not be enough for Russia to reclaim the region, he added.
“Given the current pace of Ukrainian advances, Russian forces may not be able to prevent Ukrainian forces from reaching the Russian border, even with additional reinforcements,” the ISW report said.
“The Ukrainian counter-offensive demonstrates promising Ukrainian capabilities and could set the conditions for new offensive operations in northeastern Kharkiv Oblast,” the report continued.
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In the southeastern region of Ukraine, the Russian army has captured Mariupol and may soon annex Kherson or declare the region’s independence from Ukraine, as it has done in Donetsk and Luhansk, according to the ISW report.
“According to all indications, Russian forces will announce the establishment of a People’s Republic of Kherson or possibly forcibly annex Kherson Oblast in the near future and intensify occupation measures in Mariupol,” the report continued. “Russian forces would increase their security presence in Kherson and Mariupol.”
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Pro-Russian politicians in Kherson are also campaigning for the region to “strive to become a subject of Russia” that “will resemble something close to Crimea in terms of the pace of development”, the report concludes.
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