Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s characterization of Ukraine as an “anti-Russian” entity that must be defeated militarily reaffirms his intentions to destroy the country, the U.S.-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said in its Sept. 1 report.
According to ISW, during a meeting with schoolchildren in Kaliningrad, Putin stated that the purpose of the “special military operation” is to eliminate the “anti-Russian enclave” that is forming in Ukraine and is an existential threat to the Russian state.
The Kremlin uses the term “special military operation” to refer to its war on Ukraine in order to mask the scale and intentions of its invasion of Ukraine from the Russian public.
ISW experts said Putin also invoked the concept of an “anti-Russia” in his Feb. 24 speech declaring the “special operation” in Ukraine.
“Putin’s reiteration of an ‘anti-Russian’ entity that must be defeated militarily to defend Russia reaffirms his maximalist intentions for Ukraine and is likely intended to set the information conditions to call for further Russian efforts and force generation going into the fall and winter of this year,” the report says.
It is also noted that the Ukrainian General Staff stated that Putin has extended the deadline for Russian forces to capture Donetsk Oblast from Aug. 31 to the still highly unlikely target date of Sept. 15, and Russian forces are conducting several redeployments to meet this goal.
However, ISW experts believe Russian forces remain highly unlikely to make the progress necessary to capture the oblast by Sept. 15, even despite the redeployment of elements of the Central Military District there.
At the same time, ISW says the Kremlin is likely seeking to capitalize on the significance of seizing areas around the city of Donetsk that have been contested since 2014 to boost the morale of Russian and proxy forces.
“Russian forces have not been successful in advancing toward Siversk or capturing the E40 highway to Slovyansk and Bakhmut since the fall of Lysychansk, and are likely experiencing challenges incentivizing Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) elements to continue fighting to reach the Donetsk Oblast administrative borders,” it said.
ISW experts also said that Russian military bloggers are continuing their attempts to claim that Ukraine’s counter-offensive in the south has already failed.
Other conclusions of ISW analysts about the situation in Ukraine over the past day:
- Ukrainian forces continued to target Russian logistical nodes and key positions throughout Kherson Oblast in support of the ongoing counter-offensive in southern Ukraine;
- Russian military bloggers reiterated claims that Ukrainian forces are fighting along four axes of advance in western Kherson Oblast;
- Russian forces conducted ground attacks northwest of Slovyansk, south and northeast of Bakhmut, and northwest and southwest of the city of Donetsk;
- Russian authorities escalated claims that Ukrainian forces are threatening both the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) and the newly arrived International Atomic Energy Agency delegation on the territory of the ZNPP;
- The Russian 3rd Army Corps is continuing to form for deployment to Donbas;
- Russian occupation authorities are likely increasingly recognizing their inability to successfully hold sham referenda in occupied areas of Ukraine due to Russian military failures and ongoing Ukrainian resistance in occupied territories.
Russia’s war against Ukraine: Map of hostilities
Battles and Ukrainian counteroffensive in southern Ukraine: Map of hostilities (Kherson, Mykolayiv oblasts)
Battle for Donbas
Battles in Kharkiv Oblast