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Institute for the Study of War: Russian forces return to hostilities after an operational pause

July 17, 2022



Russian forces are continuing a measured return from the operational pause and conducted limited ground attacks in Donetsk Oblast on July 17. As ISW has previously noted, the end of the Russian operational pause is unlikely to create a massive new wave of ground assaults across multiple axes of advance despite Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s public order for exactly that. Russian troops are prioritizing advances around Siversk and Bakhmut while maintaining defensive positions north of Kharkiv City and along the Southern Axis. Russian forces continued to set conditions for resumed offensives toward Slovyansk, shelled settlements along the Izyum-Slovyansk salient, and otherwise conducted artillery, missile, and air strikes throughout Ukraine. The Russian Ministry of Defense notably did not claim any new territorial gains on July 17. ISW continues to forecast that the end of the operational pause will be characterized by a fluctuating and staggered resumption of ground offensives.

Key Takeaways

  • Russian forces continued a measured return from the operational pause and did not make any confirmed territorial gains on July 17.

  • Russian forces continued limited ground assaults around Siversk, Bakhmut, and Donetsk City and otherwise fired at civilian and military infrastructure throughout the Donbas.

  • Russian forces focused on defensive operations north of Kharkiv City and along the Southern Axis.

  • The Kremlin may be setting long-term conditions for force generation efforts in anticipation of protracted hostilities in Ukraine.

  • Russian occupation authorities are likely using the threat of partisan activities to justify harsher societal controls in occupied areas.

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