Ukraine Bolsters Defenses as Russia Eyes Kiev in Renewed Offensive Strategy

Written by Henrik Rothen

May.12 - 2024 8:48 PM CET

Photo: Dmytro Larin /
Photo: Dmytro Larin /
Ten New Brigades to Defend Kiev as Russia Sharpens Focus on the Capital.

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The Ukrainian Armed Forces are set to form ten new brigades, part of which will be dedicated to defending Kiev against any potential Russian advances.

This strategic decision, revealed by Alexander Pavlyuk, Commander of the Ground Forces of Ukraine, in an interview with The Economist, underscores the ongoing threat that Russia poses to the Ukrainian capital. This is reported by Moscow Times.

Persistent Threats and the Defense of Kiev

Despite shifting dynamics on the battlefield, the Russian ambition to capture Kiev remains unshaken.

"Defending Kiev is still one of our main tasks, no matter how tough the situation is in the east," Pavlyuk asserted.

The city, which he described as the "heart of Ukraine," plays a crucial role in the nation's defense strategy.

Pavlyuk, who previously orchestrated the city’s defense during the initial months of Russia’s full-scale invasion, emphasized the evolved nature of the threat, noting that Russia can no longer conduct large-scale attacks across multiple fronts due to ammunition shortages.

Focused Russian Advances and Ukrainian Responses

With the Russian military strategy now seemingly more focused, Pavlyuk pointed out that the Luhansk and Donetsk directions will likely remain Moscow's primary concern.

However, he noted, Russian forces are stretching Ukrainian defenses further by striking areas to the north, including Kharkiv and Sumy regions.

Critical Phase Ahead

The next two months could be pivotal in the conflict, Pavlyuk suggested, as Russia commits its remaining battle-ready forces to test the depleted Ukrainian troops.

However, he remains hopeful as more military aid from the United States is expected to reach the front lines soon, potentially bolstering Ukraine's defensive capabilities.

On May 10, Russia opened a new front in the Kharkiv region, rapidly capturing at least eight settlements and advancing to the northern outskirts of Volchansk, according to the Ukrainian project DeepState.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reports that Russia launched this northern offensive in Kharkiv before completing the redeployment of units meant to participate, indicating a potentially rushed operation.

While Russian forces lack the resources to encircle or capture Kharkiv, their continued advance could enable artillery strikes on the city.

Sources close to the Kremlin, cited by Meduza, suggest that following a failed Ukrainian counteroffensive, Russian President Vladimir Putin perceived a weakness in Ukraine’s resolve and is prepared to push for a decisive victory, which includes renewed attempts to seize Kiev and Kharkiv.

These cities hold symbolic significance, especially Kharkiv, with its large Russian-speaking population, representing a symbolic victory for Moscow.

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