Key Takeaways from the ISW:

  • The Kremlin is conducting a concerted air and information operation to destroy Kharkiv City, convince Ukrainians to flee, and internally displace millions of Ukrainians ahead of a possible future Russian offensive operation against the city or elsewhere in Ukraine.
  • Kremlin mouthpieces are seizing on concerns about a future Russian offensive operation against Kharkiv City to conduct a likely coordinated information operation in an effort to create outsized panic among Ukrainians. ISW assesses that the likelihood of a successful Russian ground offensive against Kharkiv is very low if Ukraine receives renewed US military aid rapidly.
  • Russia is intensifying strike and information operations against Ukrainians in Kharkiv City to exploit ongoing constraints on Ukrainian air defenses and heightened tensions in Ukraine in the likely relatively brief window before the anticipated arrival of US military assistance to frontline areas.
  • Russian forces appear to be aiming to make a wide penetration of Ukrainian lines northwest of Avdiivka, Donetsk Oblast, but their ability to do so will likely be blunted by the arrival of US and other Western aid to the frontline.
  • The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on April 22 that Finland is taking concrete steps to protect itself against Russian hybrid operations weaponizing Russian-manufactured migrant crises on the Russian-Finnish border.
  •  The Kremlin appears to be highlighting its relationship with Azerbaijan while downplaying deteriorating Russian-Armenia relations following Russia’s failure to prevent Armenia’s loss of Nagorno-Karabakh in September 2023.
  • Russian forces recently advanced near Chasiv Yar, Avdiivka, and Donetsk City and in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area.
  • The Russian state “Sudoplatov” volunteer drone initiative is reportedly equipping Russian military personnel operating in the Bakhmut direction with cheap and defective first-person view (FPV) drones.

Authors: Riley Bailey, Angelica Evans, Nicole Wolkov, Christina Harward, Kateryna Stepanenko, and Frederick W. Kagan.

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