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Reserves of military equipment, manpower, necessary for offensive, depleted in Russia – ISW

KYIV. Feb 17 (Interfax-Ukraine) – Russia’s costly military campaign in Ukraine has likely significantly depleted Russian equipment and manpower reserves necessary to sustain a successful large-scale offensive in eastern Ukraine, according to the report of the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) for February 15.

“UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace … estimated that Russia could have committed up to 97 percent of its army to the fight in Ukraine and that its combat effectiveness has decreased by 40 percent due to an almost First World War level of attrition … ISW cannot independently confirm Wallace’s estimates, but his observation that Russia lacks sufficient mechanized combat power for a breakthrough aligns with previous ISW assessments … Wallace’s observations also suggest that Russia does not have untapped combat-ready reserves capable of executing a large-scale offensive,” the report reads.

ISW also notes the inability of the Russian Federation to restore the number of equipment lost in the war. “Russia lost about 50 percent of its T-72B and T-72B3M tanks and many T-80 tanks, forcing Russian forces to rely on older equipment … Russia’s low industrial output is a critical weakness,” the report reads.

Analysts question the ability of the Russian defense industry to quickly establish large-scale production of tanks and are convinced that the Russian Federation will not do this in time to influence the outcome of the current campaign.

“The timely Western provisions of tanks and armored vehicles to Ukraine would further offset Russia’s ability to conduct mechanized warfare as Russia struggles to restart its defense production in the immediate term. Ukraine likely continues to have a window of opportunity to initiate large-scale counteroffensives over the next few months, but its ability to do so likely rests heavily on the speed and scale at which the West provides it the necessary materiel, particularly tanks and armored vehicles,” the ISW says.

The analysts also suggest that Russian President Vladimir Putin is unlikely to announce measures for further escalation of the war in Ukraine, major new Russian mobilization initiatives, or any other significant policy in his planned address to the Russian Federal Assembly on February 21, and most likely will present measures for the integration of the occupied territories into the Russian Federation as a new achievement.

It is reported that on Wednesday, Russian troops continued offensive operations north-west of Svatove and on the Svatove—Kreminna line in Luhansk region, in Bakhmut area, on the western outskirts of Donetsk and in the west of Donetsk region.

“Russian sources implied that Ukrainian forces may hold positions on the east (left) bank of the Dnipro River in Kherson region, although ISW has not observed any confirmation of the claim,” the report reads.