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Russia is redeploying forces from Zaporizhzhia to Donetsk region: ISW explains what it means. Map

Russian war criminals. Source: rosmedia

Russian military commanders are redeploying units of two airborne divisions from Zaporizhzhia region to Donetsk region to reinforce and intensify their current offensive operations. The enemy is probably trying to take advantage of the current "window of vulnerability" of the Ukrainian Defense Forces before American military assistance begins to reach the front line on a large scale.

This is stated in a report by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). The analysts named three frontline areas where Russia could send these army units, but do not claim that this will happen at all.

Whom Russia has withdrawn from the Zaporizhzhia sector

Some Russian and Ukrainian sources said that the enemy planned to move units of the 76th and 7th Divisions, which had been operating in the area of Robotyno in the western Zaporizhzhia region since the height of the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the summer of 2023.

On May 1, Ukrainian military observer Kostyantyn Mashovets said that the Russian military command had recently made such a decision. He said that at least one battalion of the 76th Division would be relocated from near Orikhiv, in his opinion, to the front in Luhansk region or to the Kramatorsk/Bakhmut direction.

On April 29, a Russian blogger with an openly biased attitude toward the Russian Federation's Airborne Forces and the commander of the Dnipro troop group, Colonel General Mikhail Teplynsky, claimed that elements of the 76th and 7th divisions from the general forces deployed on the left bank of Kherson and in the western part of Zaporizhzhia would soon be operating in other areas. He did not name which areas, and later suggested that the command wanted to replace units of the 104th Airborne Division near the Ukrainian tactical foothold in Krynky on the left bank of the Dnipro River. The propagandist did not provide any further updates on the alleged redeployment of the units.

Russia is redeploying forces from Zaporizhzhia to Donetsk region: ISW explains what it means. Map

"We have not yet received confirmation that elements of the 76th and 7th divisions have been redeployed to other areas. But these Russian and Ukrainian reports are significant. Any redeployment of Russian forces from Zaporizhzhia region to the eastern part of Ukraine requires a more thorough examination in the coming days," ISW noted.

Experts recalled that in the middle of summer 2023, elements of these two divisions of the Russian Armed Forces were redeployed from the Liman and Kherson directions to the Robotyno area, which strengthened the enemy's "defense" in this area at a critical moment. In particular, this way the occupiers were able to prevent the Armed Forces of Ukraine from breaking through their "defense" line in Zaporizhzhia. The redeployed enemy forces launched counterattacks that demonstrated that the 76th and 7th Divisions were relatively more combat-ready than other Russian troops at the time, and they recovered to some extent during their next sluggish offensive in the south.

"In recent weeks, Russian troops captured most of Robotyno. Perhaps that is why the command decided that the probable combat-ready units of the 76th and 7th Airborne Divisions would be more useful in other areas," the ISW suggested.

Where the Russian Federation could deploy new forces

According to military experts, the occupiers may try to move units of one or both of these divisions to the east to support offensive operations in Donetsk region and take advantage of the current "window of vulnerability" of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

"At present, Russian troops are trying to use the offensive northwest of Avdiivka to achieve a broader breakthrough in the area and are intensifying operations to capture the operationally important town of Chasiv Yar," the ISW reminded.

Russia is redeploying forces from Zaporizhzhia to Donetsk region: ISW explains what it means. Map

It suggests that the Russian military command intends to use elements of the 76th and 7th Divisions as significant reinforcements to any of these efforts in order to achieve operationally significant gains before the arrival of U.S. military assistance allows the Ukrainian Defense Forces to slow the enemy's advance and stabilize the front line.

In the Avdiivka sector, Russia has now formed a relatively cohesive grouping of troops, consisting mainly of elements of the Central Military District and the 1st Army Corps of the "DPR," although they are likely exhausted from intense offensive operations over the past few months. It is possible that reinforcements from the VDP units could serve as an operational force for the enemy to continue attacks in the area.

Russia is redeploying forces from Zaporizhzhia to Donetsk region: ISW explains what it means. Map

In the Bakhmut direction, analysts estimate that Russia has formed a less cohesive group of troops, consisting, in particular, of elements of several divisions and airborne brigades. Therefore, the redeployment of units of the 76th and 7th Divisions to this area could intensify the occupiers' attacks on Chasiv Yar.

Another possible option is the transfer of these units of the Russian army to the Kupiansk-Svatove-Kreminna line, where the invaders have resumed their offensive.

"However, Russian troops seem to be trying to consolidate this entire area under the responsibility of the Moscow Military District, and the redeployment of the 76th and 7th Airborne Divisions may not be as useful in these efforts as the more intensive operations currently underway in the Donetsk region," ISW explained.

Russia is redeploying forces from Zaporizhzhia to Donetsk region: ISW explains what it means. Map

Nevertheless, they believe that any redeployment of these elements would give Russian forces the opportunity to intensify offensive operations and "put the Ukrainian Armed Forces under pressure regardless of their location."

So far, military experts have not made any estimates as to which of these frontline areas is the most likely to be the place where the Russian VDP forces could be redeployed, if at all.

"We will continue to monitor reports of a possible redeployment of elements of the 76th and 7th Divisions, as this poses a significant risk to Ukraine's ability to slow down ongoing Russian offensives in the east in the coming weeks before US security assistance arrives," ISW concluded.

As OBOZ.UA reported earlier, analysts have already estimated that the Russian Armed Forces command will have to choose which direction to intensify the offensive. They emphasize that despite minor successes near Avdiivka and some advances in the Chasovyi Yar area, the occupation forces are currently unable to simultaneously break through in several areas of the front.

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