By simultaneously repelling the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the south of the country and the attack in the east itself, Russian forces risk splitting their forces, the British Ministry of Defense said in its intelligence update.
Russia continues to advance on Kupiansk in eastern Ukraine and is trying to force Ukraine to split its units in the south and east, the update said.
“Given that Russia has made modest gains near Kupiansk since the start of the Ukrainian counteroffensive in June, they are most likely trying to capitalize on this” by continuing to provide resources to this area of the front, the ministry said.
However, this could force Russia itself to split its troops to prevent a Ukrainian breakthrough around Orikhiv in the south, the update said.
Ukrainian forces have reached Russia’s first main line of defense there, despite efforts by Russian forces, consisting primarily of elements of the 58th Combined Arms Army and Russian Airborne Forces, to stop them.
Meanwhile, the White House said on Friday that Ukrainian forces had made “remarkable progress” in recent days in their offensive in the south against Russian troops.
“Any objective observer of this counteroffensive cannot deny that they have now made progress,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters, calling anonymous officials’ criticism of the Ukrainian efforts “unhelpful.”