Moscow is pouring new conscripts to the front line to try to halt Ukrainian advances.

A Ukrainian vehicle in the recaptured village of Yatskivka in the Donetsk region of Ukraine last month.
A Ukrainian vehicle in the recaptured village of Yatskivka in the Donetsk region of Ukraine last month.Credit…Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

KYIV, Ukraine — The Russian army is staging intense but so far ineffective attacks in Ukraine’s east using newly drafted soldiers, a Ukrainian general and Western analysts say, as Moscow tries to improve its faltering positions with hastily trained troops.

Russia is pouring the new conscripts to the front line in an attempt to halt recent Ukrainian advances while rebuilding ground forces decimated during eight months of war. Military analysts had predicted the deployment of Russian men after a chaotic mobilization in September to front line areas through the fall, with high numbers of casualties expected.

Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, the commander of the Ukrainian military, said in a statement posted on the Telegram messaging app on Thursday that Russian forces had tripled the intensity of attacks along some parts of the front. He did not say what the time frame was or where the attacks were coming from.

Russian forces are staging up to 80 assaults per day, General Zaluzhnyi said in the statement, which described a telephone conversation with an American general, Christopher G. Cavoli, the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe.

Russian reservists recruited during the partial mobilization of troops in the Rostov region, Russia.
Russian reservists recruited during the partial mobilization of troops in the Rostov region, Russia.Credit…Sergey Pivovarov/Reuters

“We discussed the situation at the front,” General Zaluzhnyi wrote. Ukrainian forces, he said he had told his U.S. colleague, were beating back the attacks, “thanks to the courage and skills of our warriors.”

An assessment from the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based analytical group, also said that the increase in infantry in the Donbas region in the east has not resulted in Russia’s gaining new ground.

Seeking a quick advance, it said, the Russian army was “wasting the fresh supply of mobilized personnel on marginal gains” by attacking before massing sufficient soldiers to ensure success. The attacks were directed at several towns and villages, including Bakhmut and Avdiivka.

“Russian forces would likely have had more success in such offensive operations if they had waited until enough mobilized personnel had arrived to amass a force large enough to overcome Ukrainian defenses,” the institute said in a statement on Thursday.

The scale of Russian losses in these infantry advances is uncertain. The institute described the advances as “impaling” ill-prepared units on well dug-in defensive positions of Ukraine’s battle-hardened troops. The Ukrainian military’s estimates of Russian casualties are seen to be inflated, but the relative increase in the reported numbers suggests a rising toll. On Friday, the Ukrainian military said more than 800 Russian soldiers had been wounded or killed over the previous 24 hours.

A bridge in Sviatohirsk, Ukraine, that was damaged by retreating Ukrainian forces during the summer.
A bridge in Sviatohirsk, Ukraine, that was damaged by retreating Ukrainian forces during the summer.Credit…Ivor Prickett for The New York Times
A Ukrainian drone operator near Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region in October.
A Ukrainian drone operator near Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region in October.Credit…Finbarr O’Reilly for The New York Times

In its two counteroffensives in the northeast and the south, the Ukrainian military has reported step-by-step gains in cutting supply lines and targeting Russian ammunition and fuel depots with long-range rockets and artillery.

In the south, where Ukrainian troops are advancing toward the Russian-occupied city of Kherson, the Ukrainian military said Friday morning that its artillery battalions had fired more than 160 times at Russian positions over the past 24 hours, but it also reported Russian return fire into Ukrainian positions.

With Russian and Ukrainian forces apparently preparing for battle in Kherson, and conflicting signals over what may be coming, the remaining residents of the city have been stocking up on food and fuel to survive combat.

New York Times – November 4, 2022

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