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Occupation forces lack mechanized forces necessary to advance beyond Bakhmut – ISW

KYIV. March 8 (Interfax-Ukraine) – The Russian occupation forces are unable to use a hypothetic capture of the town of Bakhmut in Donetsk region to generate operational effects, said the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), commenting on a statement by President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy on March 7 that the hypothetical Russian capture of Bakhmut would provide Russian forces an “open road” to Kramatorsk, Slovyansk, and other critical settlements in Donetsk region.

“Russian forces additionally likely lack the mechanized forces necessary to advance beyond Bakhmut, and the tactical “assault detachments” used in assaults against Bakhmut are likely unable to conduct maneuver warfare. Recent Russian advances within urban areas of Bakhmut demonstrate that Russian forces can secure limited tactical gains with infantry-led frontal assaults. Russian forces likely lack the mechanized forces necessary to exploit the roads (which are likely highly fortified) west of Bakhmut,” it said.

The analysts also said that Bakhmut is connected with other northwest towns by two routes used as supply channels and therefore heavily fortified, and any Russian attempt to advance down these roads would likely be highly costly.

According to the ISW, Russian forces have likely captured the eastern part of Bakhmut east of the Bakhmutka River following a controlled Ukrainian withdrawal from eastern Bakhmut as of March 7.

On March 7, Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks along the Kupiansk-Svatove-Kreminna line and continued ground attacks along the Avdiyivka-Donetsk City line.

A Russian sourse claimed that Ukrainian forces attempt to conduct operations across the Dnipro River in Kherson region.

Referring to a poll conducted by Russian independent polling organization The Levada Center, the ISW said that 51% of Russians feel negatively toward Russians who left the country due to mobilization (mostly Russians over 55 years old and those living in rural areas and cities with fewer than 100,000 residents), 10% of Russians polled indicated that they have a positive or understanding attitude toward those that left.

“The Levada Center’s polling data demonstrates that the Kremlin retains a strong hold over the domestic information space. The poll did not ask questions regarding attitudes to the war itself, indicating at minimum negative feelings towards those that escaped mobilization, if not overt support for the war,” the analysts said.