Will the front line in Ukraine change significantly in the first half of 2024?
Jul 2

Will the territory controlled by Ukraine/Russia change significantly at any time before July 1, 2024? (This includes the rest of December 2023.) This would include major territorial gains or capture of important cities/objects.

Possible examples: Russian capture of Zaporizhzhia/Kherson, Ukrainian Capture of Melitopol. Not sufficient: capture of cities like Bakhmut (little strategic importance or territorial gains).

The resolution will be subjective to a degree, feel free to ask about any particular cases. There are quite a few discussions on individual cases in the comments of linked markets, especially the earlier ones:

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@ConorRenwick This would probably fall under the category of “little strategic importance” similar to Bakhmut

@Arky The article says that both sides consider Avdiivka to be of key strategic importance

@ConorRenwick This is the full quote from the article:

Both sides regard Avdiivka as key to Russia's aim of securing full control of the two eastern "Donbas" provinces - Donetsk and Luhansk. These are among the four Ukrainian regions Russia says it has annexed but does not have full control of.

Avdiivka is seen as a gateway to Donetsk city, whose residential areas Russian officials say have been shelled by Ukrainian forces, sometimes from Avdiivka.

Seizing it could boost Russian morale and demoralise Ukrainian forces, which have made only incremental gains in a broad counteroffensive since June. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy himself visited in December.

"If the Russian army takes control of the (supply) road, the Ukrainian armed forces will evidently be forced to withdraw from Avdeyevka. That will be a great victory for the Russian army," Sergei Markov, a former Kremlin adviser, said on Feb. 5.

Mykola Bielieskov of the National Institute for Strategic Studies, an official think-tank in Kyiv, said taking Avdiivka would not decisively tip the situation in Moscow's favour but "would make the situation more tenable for occupied Donetsk as a major Russian logistics hub".

Bielieskov believes the battle is driven by a Kremlin desire to strengthen the hand of Western sceptics calling for a cut in support for Kyiv, citing the limited impact of billions of dollars in military aid.

While it indeed seems hardly possible for Russia to proceed much further without taking Avdiivka, I still don't think the capture itself gives them much more than a tactical (and moral) advantage.

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@PS "would make the situation more tenable for occupied Donetsk as a major Russian logistics hub". in other words an important strategic victory, and that's coming from a Ukrainian think tank too.

@ConorRenwick There’s no way the capture of Avdiivka is anywhere near the importance of the examples listed in the description. Melitopol or Kherson being captured would mean there was a huge collapse of the frontlines that fundamentally changes the state of the war.

@ConorRenwick I interpret it differently, and I haven't seen it widely described as strategic in the media.

@PS It was before Ukraine started losing it.

@AlexandreK That's true, but I don't think that makes a difference. My current position is that Avdiivka is indeed similar to Bakhmut in that respect; it certainly does not constitute a large territorial gain, but I also don't consider it a significant strategic target, and I don't think it is widely described as such.

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