Northeast – Kharkiv Area of Operations

  • RFAF have continued to shell the outskirts of Kharkiv and into Chuhuiv, however, there have been no reported ground assaults against the outskirts of the city over the last week.
  • Ukrainian forces reportedly liberated Bezruky, Slatine and Prudianka north of Kharkiv on 23 April, following the successful capture of Udy, further north near the Russian border. This counter-offensive appears to have stalled at the time of writing.
  • Reported mortaring in the village of Esman in Sumy Oblast, from Russian Federation territory.

Video of a TOS-1A Heavy Flamethrower reportedly being used in Kharkiv Oblast. Source: @RALee85

Telegram post reporting shelling in Sumy Oblast on 25 April. Source: @truexaadvertising

East – Donbas Area of Operations (assessed Russian Federation Armed Forces (RFAF) Main Effort)

  • On the Izyum axis, RFAF forces are making progress south-east towards Slovyansk and south-west towards Barvinkove. RFAF units are reported to be advancing along multiple parallel roads to be mutually supported, a revised tactic. This has led to a slower, but steadier rate of advance along the front between Izyum and Rubizhne.
  • There has been no reported RFAF advance in Popasna or Rubizhne, although both towns are under almost continuous bombardment.
  • RFAF made a small gain of a few KM in Luhansk Oblast, successfully destroying and capturing the village of Novotoshkivske on 26 Apr 22.

Post showing reported video of RFAF armour in Kharkiv region near Izyum. Source: @Osinttechnical

Post showing the destruction of residential property as a result of RFAF shelling in Avdiivka. Source: @Girkingirkin

South – Kherson and Black Sea Coast Area of Operations

  • UAF counter-offensive SE from Mykolaiv has reportedly liberated the villages of Pravdyne, Klapaia, Zelenyi Hai, and Barvinok.
  • RFAF is reportedly massing forces for a new advance towards Kryvyi Rih and has begun an offensive NW towards Mykolaiv to repel the UAF counterattack.
  • UAF defenders remain in subterranean networks at the Azovstal Metallurgical Combine in Mariupol. On 20 Apr 22, President Putin announced that he had called off RFAF plans to storm the Azovstal plant, and instead intended to save the lives of his soldiers by ordering them to “seal that industrial area off so that even a fly can’t get through”. Despite this order, reporting indicates some limited offensive activity to the north-east of Azovstal.
  • Residents of Kherson reportedly staged another protest at the Russian occupation on 27 Apr 22 – the protest was dispersed with riot-control gas and stun grenades.

Video from Russia Today showing the destruction at Azovstal. Source: @PelmeniPusha

Video showing the protests in Kherson on 27 April. Source: @AggregateOsint


  • Russia has reportedly suffered several explosions in Kursk and Belgorod Oblasts and claims to have shot down a Ukrainian Bayraktar TB-2 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). In the early hours of 27 Apr 22 explosions were reportedly heard in Kursk, which may well have been the sound of surface-to-air missile fire, as the governor subsequently reported a small UAV had been shot down. Additionally, there was a reported fire at an ammunition depot near Staraya Nelidovka, Belgorod Oblast – and another fire occurred at an oil refinery in Bryansk on 25 Apr 22. Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for these attacks, however statements by the government hint at Ukrainian involvement. Ukrainian Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak commented that it was natural that Russian regions where fuel and weapons are stored were learning about "demilitarisation" – likely a reference to part of the pretext used by Russia to justify its invasion of Ukraine.

Images of the Bayraktar TB-2 UAV which was supposedly shot down in Kursk on 26 Apr 22. Source: @UAWeapons

  • On 25 Apr 22, it was reported that an attack had occurred against the Transnistrian Ministry of State Security (MGB) building in Tiraspol using a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG). The RPG used in the attack on the MGB location was reported to be an RPG-27 (as seen in the below video and image), a weapon system that is used exclusively by the armed forces of Russia, Transnistria, and Gabon. There were no injuries reported in the attack. A day later, on 26 Apr 22 it was reported that two FM radio towers in Transnistria were blown up near the village of Mayak to the NNE of Tiraspol. On the morning of 27 Apr 22, the Transnistrian Police made a statement declaring that shots were fired, and a drone spotted near Kolbasna village in northern Transnistria on the Ukrainian border.

Video reportedly showing the RPG attack on the MGB building. Source: @tinso_ww

  • Russia has begun a campaign of strikes against rail infrastructure across western Ukraine. This week cruise missiles reportedly struck the following targets: a railway station in Rivne, the railway station in Zdolbuniv, an electrical substation in Krasne (E of Lviv), a railway station in Koziatyn, the railway station in Korosten, a railway station in Zhmerynka and two strikes on the road/rail bridge over the Dniester on the south coast at Zatoka, west of Odessa.

Images showing the destroyed bridge at Zatoka. Source: @space_osint

So What?

  • Outside of the Izyum axis, the RFAF are making very few territorial gains. It is likely that the pace at which Russia has recommitted forces to the Donbas front has prevented the effective massing of combat power prior to commencement of the offensive.
  • It is likely that Russia has redeployed some forces from Mariupol further north into Donbas to assist in the ongoing offensive, however, it is a realistic possibility that these forces departing have left small gaps or weaknesses in the encirclement of Mariupol, which may be exploited by Ukrainian defenders conducting limited raids against any isolated Russian outposts. It is likely that as well as degrading Russian combat power and lowering RFAF morale, raids must be conducted to resupply ammunition for the defenders – something which they are almost certainly critically low on.
  • Reinforcements from the former northern-front, alongside newly constituted formations have likely contributed to the initial Russian success moving south from Izyum – likely to cut the rail link to Slovyansk and prevent resupply and reinforcement for defenders. The amended tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) adopted by the RFAF on this axis is likely to be working effectively due to the terrain permitting it, with mutually supporting units being able to increase firepower where required and outflank UAF defences. If the Russians can successfully integrate close air support and indirect fires with these composite units, it is a realistic possibility that the UAF will be unable to prevent the Russians from disrupting their rail resupply. The isolation of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk would likely have a significant detrimental effect on the UAF units along the former line-of-control and allowing the Russians to slowly reduce the encircled defenders.
  • Without significant reinforcement or a collapse of the UAF defences further north, it is unlikely that the RFAF will break through the former line of control in Donbas near Malinka and Kurakhove. Offensive manoeuvre will likely be supported by fires and air to break the line, however, the extensive period (8 years) the UAF have had to conduct defensive engineering works, conduct planning, and resource the defence is likely to stymie the Russian advance. The line is unlikely to collapse within the next week.
  • The Russian counter-offensive in Mykolaiv Oblast may have some initial success in pushing back UAF towards Mykolaiv city, however, it is unlikely that the RFAF will be able to advance as far west as they did in March and be within indirect fire (IDF) range of the city proper. It is also unlikely that the RFAF will make significant progress towards Kryvyi Rih due to the extended supply lines from bases in the Crimea and having to clear or bypass Inhulets on the MSR north.
  • It is likely that the Ukrainians are responsible for attacks into the Russian Federation. Targets are predominantly key logistics supplies such as fuel and ammunition – both essential to conduct offensive manoeuvre against a dug-in and well-prepared adversary. The lack of direct claims of responsibility is likely due to fear of more severe repercussions against civilian and infrastructure targets within all of Ukraine – particularly Kyiv where formerly-displaced civilians are beginning to return.
  • Attacks in Transnistria are highly likely to be false-flag attacks conducted by Russian intelligence or security services to create uncertainty for the Ukrainians, Moldovans, and Romanians on the western flank. Ukraine has no logical reason to extend the zone of conflict to the west. The threat to Odessa from Transnistrian and RFAF units is low given the terrain and their limited capabilities, however, it cannot be discounted and therefore is likely to tie up Ukrainian forces and prevent them from deploying east to reinforce the defensive line. Any offensive conducted against Moldova or Ukraine from Transnistria would require significant air support and reinforcement, both of which activities can be observed by NATO countries to provide early warning.
  • A shift in targeting efforts for Russian long-range precision weapons is indicative that the Russians have now prioritised disruption of lethal aid and supplies from western countries to the Ukrainians. This is likely an indicator that the Russians envisage a longer campaign in Ukraine – so it is worth disrupting resupply rather than focusing their diminishing stocks of precision-guided weapons in direct support of offensive manoeuvre. It is likely that other critical national infrastructure (CNI) will be targeted in coming days, including (conventional) power stations, electrical substations, railheads and storage areas, fuel refineries and storage, as well as ammunition dumps. These locations are likely to be targeted despite civilian presence, and locations which are used by foreign volunteers and advisors are also likely to be high on the Russian priority target list.

What Next?

It is highly likely that over the next week the RFAF will seek to exploit their penetration of the Ukrainian defences south of Izyum. Doctrinally, the Russian forces reinforce success and therefore it is likely that further forces will be forced into the salient. The approach from the north will hinder the UAF defence, as they are predominantly orientated towards the east and RFAF units attacking out of the Donbas. It is a realistic possibility that Russia will commit significant forces to the salient in the hope of isolating UAF defenders in Slovyansk and Kramatorsk. However, it is unlikely that the Russians will be able to move with sufficient pace, nor break through the southern lines to complete a massive encirclement of the UAF defensive line. Combined with the attempted destruction of the rail network in western Ukraine and disruption of resupply, in the medium term (1-6 months) then the UAF may be forced to retreat as their limited supply lines become further restricted. It is currently unknown whether the UAF have sufficient mobile reserves to plug the gap and prevent exploitation by the RFAF.

It is likely that once the Russian response to attacks in the Russian Federation has been observed, the Ukrainians will continue to launch air and special-operations raids against logistics nodes and stores in Russia. It is possible that Russian retaliation will focus on CNI to apply pressure to the Ukrainian government via the citizens, and to further disrupt western aid.

Whilst unlikely, a military operation originating in Transnistria is possible. It would be unlikely to be successful as a unilateral operation, however, Putin may view the loss of the OGRF as an acceptable price for causing multiple dilemmas for NATO leadership and eastern European nations such as Moldova and Romania. It would also apply pressure to the UAF due to the strategic importance of Odessa, which must be defended despite the low likelihood of attack. It is a realistic possibility that further low-level attacks will occur in Transnistria, likely perpetrated on behalf of (or by) Russia in order to sow the seeds of uncertainty.