Institute for the Study of War:  Russian troops withdrawn from Kharkiv city are redeployed to western Donetsk

May 19, 2022

FULL ARTICLE

Ukrainian military officials reported that some Russian troops withdrawn from the Kharkiv City axis have redeployed to western Donetsk Oblast on May 19. The Ukrainian General Staff said that 260 servicemen withdrawn from the Kharkiv City axis arrived to replace the significant combat losses that the 107th Motorized Rifle Battalion has taken approximately 20 km southwest of Donetsk City.[1] The Ukrainian Military Directorate (GUR) intercepted a Russian serviceman’s call suggesting that some of the 400 servicemen from the Kharkiv City axis who had arrived elsewhere in Donbas were shocked by the intensity of the fighting there compared with what they had experienced in Kharkiv Oblast.[2]

Russian forces are continuing to suffer shortages of reserve manpower, causing the Russian military command to consolidate depleted battalion tactical groups (BTGs). An unnamed US defense official reported that Russian forces still have 106 BTGs operating in Ukraine but had to disband and combine some to compensate for losses.[3] Ukrainian General Staff Main Operations Deputy Chief Oleksiy Gromov reported that Russian forces are combining units of the Pacific and Northern Fleets at the permanent locations of the 40th Separate Marine Brigade and the 200th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade, respectively.[4] Gromov added that Russian forces are training servicemen in Krasnodar Krai to replenish units of the 49th Combined Arms Army and are trying to restore combat power of Russian units withdrawn from the battlefront in occupied Crimea.

Unknown Russian perpetrators conducted a series of Molotov cocktail attacks on Russian military commissariats throughout the country in May, likely in protest of covert mobilization. Russian media and local Telegram channels reported deliberate acts of arson against military commissariats in three Moscow Oblast settlements—Omsk, Volgograd, Ryazan Oblast, and Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District—between May 4 and May 18.[5] Ukrainian General Staff Main Operations Deputy Chief Oleksiy Gromov said that there were at least 12 cases of deliberate arson against military commissariats in total and five last week.[6] Russian officials caught two 16-year-olds in the act in one Moscow Oblast settlement, which suggests that Russian citizens are likely responsible for the attacks on military commissariats.[7]

Key Takeaways

  • Russian forces are intensifying operations to advance north and west of Popasna in preparation for an offensive toward Severodonetsk.

  • Russian and proxy authorities in Mariupol are struggling to establish coherent administrative control of the city.

  • Russian forces reportedly attempted to regain control of the settlements they lost during the Ukrainian counteroffensive north of Kharkiv City.

  • Russian forces are bolstering their naval presence around Snake Island to fortify their grouping on the island.