Russian President Vladimir Putin intends to occupy Ukrainian territory beyond the four illegally annexed regions through 2024–2026. By the end of 2024, Russia’s hopes to have completely taken control of the oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk as well as the Oskil River in Kharkiv.
By 2025 and 2026, Russian forces also hope to take control of sizable portions of Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv Oblast, and Zaporizhzhia, including the city of Kharkiv. The paper claims that Russias intends to occupy a large portion of eastern Ukraine east of the Dnipro River during the next 36 months, citing an unnamed source.
Russia’s Plans Ukrainian Occupation by 2026 –
- Illegally annexed four Ukrainian oblasts post-invasion in February 2022.
- Plans partly rely on Western support for Kyiv’s withdrawal.
“ISW cannot independently authenticate BILD’s reporting, but Russia’s reported plans for the war in Ukraine through 2026 are in line with continued Russian preparations for a prolonged war effort,” the think tank the Institute for the Study of War said in response to the Bild report.
Despite having occupied the Kherson region during the first year of the war, no longer prioritizes the south of Ukraine; instead, its goal is to prevent Ukrainian forces from moving closer to Crimea, according to the intelligence.
His intended to conquer the whole eastern region to the left of the Dnipro River within 36 months, according to a publication-quoting source with inside knowledge.”
They declared, “The river is then the new front,” according to Bild.
In recent months, Ukraine has launched counteroffensive operations and established a bridgehead on the eastern bank of the river, turning it into the focal point of the conflict.
The think tank Carnegie Endowment for International Peace stated in a report that appears to be gearing up for a protracted conflict based on its preparations, which include increasing its defense budget.
According to Bild, Russia’s plans are predicated on certain assumptions, such as the growth and effectiveness of the war economy, the annual death toll of 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers, and the election of a new US president in 2024 who will lessen support for Ukraine.
On Russia: Institute for Study of War and Ukrainian Intelligence react
ISW analysts point out that although Russia’s plan did not fully materialize, Bild previously published fairly accurate intelligence on plans for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in December 2021, predicting would attack from Crimea and the north in late January or early February 2022.
According to the ISW, Russia’s alleged war plans through 2026 are consistent with the country’s current offensive operations in the oblasts of Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv, as well as the Kremlin’s ongoing efforts to reorganize and enlarge its military in preparation for a protracted conflict.
The Institute points out that Russian forces are still conducting offensive operations outside of the four oblasts that they have illegally annexed, and that recent statements made by Russian officials suggest that they plan to occupy more territory in Ukraine. Additionally, it thinks that an abrupt withdrawal of Western military assistance would probably cause Ukraine’s defenses to crumble, opening the door for forces to possibly advance to the country’s western border. Nevertheless, does not currently have the means to maintain significant offensive gains.
Andriy Chernyak, a representative of Ukrainian military intelligence, responded to the report by affirming to LIGA.net that the occupiers intend to push forward on the front lines, but he added that does not have the military means to accomplish this.
But according to Kyrylo Budanov, head of the Main Intelligence Directorate, does not intend to attack Ukraine in 2025.