< Back

Russia concentrates forces near the border with Ukraine

May 27, 2024

Russian troops are concentrating unspecified numbers of troops in the western Belgorod region near the border with Ukraine to draw Ukrainian forces into the area and prepare for offensive operations to expand Russia's foothold in the border area in northeastern Ukraine.

This is stated in an analytical report by the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW).


According to analysts, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on May 26 that Russian troops were preparing for new offensives and concentrating groups near the Ukrainian border, 90 kilometers northwest of Kharkiv.

"Zelensky appears to have been referring to the Hraivoron-Borysivka-Proletarsky area in western Belgorod Oblast, and satellite imagery of the area suggests that Russian troops have stepped up activities at bases and depots in settlements in the area in recent weeks," the analyst report said.

However, the current size of the possible concentration of Russian troops in the Hraivoron-Borysivka-Proletarsky area remains unclear, ISW noted.

"A representative of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, Andriy Demchenko, said on May 26 that Russian troops could launch offensive operations in Sumy region or areas of Kharkiv region bordering Sumy region in order to stretch and consolidate Ukrainian forces further along the international border in northeastern Ukraine," the analytical report says.

Analysts emphasize that in the area of Hraivoron-Borysivka-Proletarsky, Russian troops have the opportunity to launch offensive operations southward towards Zolochiv and Bohodukhiv (two Ukrainian cities northwest of Kharkiv within 25 kilometers of the international border), or westward towards settlements along the P-45 highway, which connects Bohodukhiv to Sumy.

It is noted that Russian troops can conduct offensive operations in one or both directions, and the Russian concentration here may be aimed at forcing Ukrainian troops to redeploy forces and assets to a wider section of the border in Kharkiv and Sumy regions.

According to ISW, Russian forces are also concentrating limited forces in Kursk and Bryansk oblasts near the border with Sumy oblast, and even a limited concentration in these areas could be aimed at further distracting and entrenching Ukrainian forces near the international border.

Currently, Russian troops are bringing the Northern Group of troops near the international border to its planned final strength and are likely to launch only limited offensive operations along the Sumy-Kharkiv direction until the Northern Group of troops reaches its final strength, the analytical report says.

"Even limited Russian offensives in these areas would increase pressure that would stretch Ukrainian manpower and equipment over a wider front and possibly allow Russian forces to establish tactical bridgeheads to support further operations either northwest of Kharkiv or toward the city of Sumy," the analysts said.

However, the Northern Group of Forces, even at the upper limit of its stated end strength, will lack the manpower necessary to conduct a successful operation to surround or capture the cities of Kharkiv or Sumy, ISW emphasized.

Author - Ihor Lontkivskyi 27.05.24

Recent news