Conflicts & War

Ukraine fears new push on Kyiv after Russian invasion forces regroup

Moscow/Lviv, Mar 27 (EFE).- Ukrainian forces are in control of the situation in the capital of Kyiv but believe that Russia will try once again to break their resistance and take the city after regrouping on Belarusian territory even as the Kremlin is continuing its offensive in southern and eastern Ukraine, especially in the Donbass region, where pro-Russian separatists hold sway.

“Several units were assigned to the Chernobyl area – in the Kyiv region – for their later relocation to Belarus with the objective of restoring their combat capability,” the Ukrainian General Staff said Sunday.

“It’s possible that after the implementation of these measures, the regrouping and strengthening of the forces, the occupiers may resume their actions to blockade Kyiv from the southwest,” the top military leadership body added.

The US-based Institute for the Study of War agreed with that evaluation, saying that the Russian army continues to assemble replacement equipment and reinforcement in Belarus and Russia north of Kyiv to fight for positions on the outskirts of the capital with an eye toward encircling the capital and capturing Chernihiv.

In its latest analysis of the situation in Ukraine, the ISW said that Russian activities around Kyiv show no changes in the top Russian leadership’s prioritization of the fight around the Ukrainian capital, where Moscow had concentrated the majority of its land forces devoted to subduing the neighboring country.

Over the past 24 hours in the Kyiv region, Russian troops carried out more than 30 bombardments of Ukrainian urban areas and social infrastructure, the Regional Military Administration said.

Since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 34 of the 69 communities in the Kyiv region have endured at least some level of destruction with more than 500 specific targets completely destroyed.

The ongoing Russian bombardment, meanwhile, threatens to transform Chernihiv into a second Mariupol, with that southeastern port city largely destroyed – with untold civilian suffering – but having emerged as a symbol of Ukrainian resistance.

“Due to the destruction of critical infrastructure and the active hostilities in the city of Chernihiv, there is no electricity, heating or water. Natural gas service is only partly operational,” the head of the Regional Military Administration, Vyacheslav Chaus, said.

Chernihiv Mayor Vladyslav Atroshenko said on Saturday that the “city is being broken to pieces.”

Despite Russia’s announcement on Friday that it was now going to focus on liberating all of the Donbass region from Ukraine’s partial control, the ISW has said it sees no indication that this is the case.

The ISW said that the Russians have not redeployed forces from Kyiv or any other part of Ukraine to concentrate them for gaining full control over the Donbass, adding that numerous indicators point to this lack of redeployment.

The entity also said that the ever more static nature of the fighting around Kyiv reflects the inability of Russian forces to subdue the city rather than any change in the Kremlin’s war objectives.

British military intelligence on Sunday, however, contradicted this analysis, with the Defense Ministry saying that the Russian military seems to be focusing its efforts on trying to surround Ukrainian forces that are directly facing it in the separatist regions in eastern Ukraine, in particular moving south from the city of Kharkiv and north from Mariupol.

The head of Ukraine’s General Intelligence Directorate, Brig. Gen. Kirill Budanov, agreed with London’s assessment.

“After the failures around Kyiv and the impossibility of toppling Ukraine’s central government, (Russian President Vladimir) Putin is already changing his main directions of operation to the south and east,” he said, as quoted by the UNIAN news agency.

“There are reasons to believe that he is considering a ‘Korean’ scenario for Ukraine. In fact, this is one way of creating a North and South Korea in Ukraine. After all, (Putin) definitely cannot capture the whole country,” Budanov said, referring to the longstanding divided nature of the Korean Peninsula.

In his opinion, the Kremlin is continuing to work on establishing a land corridor from the Crimean Peninsula – which Moscow annexed in 2014 – to the Donbass, but he emphasized that, for now, Russian forces are stymied by the “unyielding” city of Mariupol, where Ukrainian troops have refused to surrender.

However, the ISW believes that Russian forces in the relatively near future will manage to gain control of the city, which is in the Donetsk region.

The leader of the other pro-Russian separatist region of Lugansk said Sunday that holding a referendum on whether to allow Russia to annex it also is quite close, although Ukrainian Foreign Minister Oleg Nikolenko said this would be illegal.

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