How is the war going? — July 2024

In this video I give an overview of the frontline. There has been a long period of grinding fighting where the media attention has been relatively low, so it can be hard to keep track of events.

As usual, you can see the video here or read a transcript below.


In this video, I want to give an overview of the front line in Ukraine. It's been a while since I made one of these updates and quite a lot has happened. So I'm going to try to maintain the big focus and sort of show the big picture of what's going on. Because every day there are little things happening here and there. The Russians attacking here, the Ukrainians are counter-attacking here. And it can be hard to maintain the big perspective when you follow these things. And it can be hard to get a feeling of how are things actually going. So I will try to paint the big picture and explain what the two sides are trying to achieve on the front line and what the big trends are. So let's talk about it.

If we start in the north, then it's been almost two months since Russia started their new Kharkiv offensive. I'm using maps from to show this. When they launched this offensive, then it was all over the news. And there were some very alarmist messages about how Russia was going to take Kharkiv. And this was going to lead to a chain reaction and maybe the Ukrainian forces could collapse. And nothing of that has happened. The Russians have now been stuck in these two small areas for a long time. And it doesn't really seem like they have the strength to develop the offensive in this area a whole lot.

There have been some suggestions that the Russians are preparing to make similar attacks in other places on the front line further west. And that maybe this can stretch out the Ukrainian defenses or it can contribute to building a kind of buffer zone along the whole border. But so far, we have not seen that materialized. There have been some small attacks across the border, but nothing that can really be characterized as an attempt to get a real foothold.

The Western decision to allow Ukraine to use Western weapons to hit on the Russian side of the border has significantly complicated the operations for the Russians in this area. So I will say that presently, it does not look like Russia has the forces to really develop the offensive that they have started in the Kharkiv region. And also that Ukraine now has the means to preemptively hit the Russian forces if they start to build up forces on the Russian side of the border for another big push.

The big discussion right now is whether the Ukrainians have the strength to make a counter offensive in these small areas that the Russians have occupied. And if they can maybe push the Russians back out again, it's perhaps not militarily the most important task for the Ukrainian military. But I think that politically, it's something that they are going to prioritize because it's a way that the Ukrainians can demonstrate visible progress. The big picture at the moment in the war is that Ukraine is on the defensive. And that is a hard position to be in politically because the Ukrainians still have to persuade their partners that they can win the war if they get enough resources and that the Russians are not unbeatable. So it's not a hopeless fight. So these two areas in the Kharkiv region, they actually provide a pretty good opportunity for the Ukrainians to show a symbolic victory where they can really demonstrate offensive success in a year where otherwise they will mostly be fighting a defensive fight. And because of the nature of defensive operation, that means that they're going to be losing territory in other regions. So it's useful for them to be able to show off an area where they have actually gained territory.

If we move on to the eastern part of the front line, then it's an area where the Russian main effort is taking place. The most important goal for the Russian military is to take the entirety of the Lukhansk and the Donetsk regions. And they are investing a lot of resources in trying to make that happen. And the Russians are making progress in these areas. It is a slow, it's a grinding battle. It's taking place along most of the front line. So there are many places where we see small offensives with relatively small military units.

One of the big battles that are taking place right now is the battle for Chassiv Yar. The Russians have been trying to take the city for a long time and the Ukrainians are defending it quite well. It's an important city because it's located on the hills. And if the Russians can take the city, then that can open the path for the Russians to attack some important cities that are located in the valley behind Chassiv Yar. So that's, for example, the city of Konstyantinivka. It's a very slow and hard battle for Chassiv Yar that we are witnessing. There is a canal running through the city. And right now, the Russians have taken more or less the part of the city that is on the eastern side of that canal. But the biggest part of the city is on the western side of the canal and it's still under Ukrainian control. So this battle will probably continue for a while.

Another important battle is taking place a little further south. Here, the Russians are actually right now trying to take a city that is called Niu-York. Apparently, some Americans emigrated to this area about 100 years ago in the early days of the Soviet Union. And they founded this city and they called it New York. This area is interesting because there is a part of the front line that hasn't changed since Russia launched the full-scale invasion in 2022. And it is actually the last place where we still have the same front line as after the war in 2014-2015. The Russians are trying to work their way toward the city of Toretsk from two different directions. And if they can do that, then maybe they can create a pocket and they can force the Ukrainians to withdraw from a bigger area.

The last battle I will highlight is the Russian push from the city of Ocheretyne. It is perhaps the most important battle on the front line right now because what the Russians are trying to do is to reach this road that is running from the city of Pokrovsk and up toward Chassiv Yar. This road is very important for the Ukrainian logistics in the whole area. And if the Russians can cut this road, then it will significantly reduce the mobility of the Ukrainian forces in the area and make it much more difficult to get supplies to the front line.

If we go to the southern part of the front line, then frankly, there isn't a whole lot happening right now. The Russians have been pushing to take back the territory that Ukraine gained during the summer offensive last year. And they've been partly successful. They've managed to take back some of it. And there is still fighting, but there isn't a whole lot of movement right now.

And finally, if we go to the area across the Dnipro River, then there is also not a whole lot to talk about. There was a Ukrainian presence for a long time on the Russian control side of the river, to some extent. That is still the case. But it seems that the Russians have managed to contain the Ukrainian presence and to get it more or less under control. We haven't heard a whole lot of news from this area recently.

And I think there might be a connection to what is happening in the Kharkiv region when the Russians attacked into the Kharkiv region. And then many people said that this is a diversion operation and that the goal is to force the Ukrainians to take forces from other areas, which would then create weaknesses that the Russians could exploit. And I think what people had in mind was that this was supposed to create weaknesses in the Donetsk area where the Russian main effort is taking place. And I don't think that has worked in that sense because we don't really see signs that the Kharkiv offensive has forced the Ukrainians to divert resources from the eastern part of the front line. But I do think it's possible that it has diverted resources away from the Dnipro area and that that is the reason why we are now seeing less activity in this area, because the Ukrainians are focusing on trying to put together a counter offensive in the Kharkiv area instead.

So that was the front line. The biggest fights are taking place in the east where the Russian main effort is. But there are also some interesting things that are taking place in the north where it will be interesting to see if the Ukrainians can have success with a counter offensive in the coming months. And then in the south and across the Dnipro River, it seems to be quite stable right now.

Finally, I also need to mention the long range strikes that are taking place. There is an important strategic air campaign that is going on from both sides. So behind the front lines, we see deep strikes with both missiles and long range drones. The Russians are going really hard after the Ukrainian energy infrastructure and the Ukrainians are focusing on Russian oil production facilities.

But in addition to that, there's also a long range battle that is taking place that is connected to the fact that pretty soon Ukraine will get F-16 fighter jets. So the Russians are trying to hit whatever they can of Ukrainian air bases because they can be used to operate F-16s. And the Ukrainians on their side, they're trying to hit all the Russian air defense systems that they can find so that once F-16s arrive, then they will be able to operate more freely.

So the big picture is that we still have the Russians on the offensive. And it's this kind of slow and grinding way of fighting where they're gradually trying to push the Ukrainians back in the Donbas area. And it's actually a little hard to say who's winning at the moment because I think that both sides have a feeling that things are going pretty well for them. On the Russian side, they look at the battlefield and they see that they're actually making progress. They are taking territory in Donetsk, which is the most important task for them. But on the Ukrainian side, their strategy for 2024 is to be on the defensive and to focus on causing attrition on the Russian forces. So the Ukrainians are expecting to lose territory in this phase, and they do that in exchange for high casualty numbers on the Russian side. And I think the Ukrainians are actually quite happy about the casualties that they are inflicting on the Russians, both in terms of manpower and in terms of equipment that they destroy.

So the politicians in both Russia and in Ukraine will look at what's happening on the battlefield and they will think that, well, it's going pretty well. It's more or less according to the plan. And I think we should expect this to continue, this overall picture in the coming months, the Russians will continue to push and the Ukrainians will try to benefit from that willingness that the Russians have to keep attacking. Because when you attack, you take bigger casualties and at some point, sooner or later, the offensive will reach what is called the point of culmination. That's the moment at which the Russians will no longer be able to make progress because the offensive has just run out of energy. And that will happen at some point.

So if I am to finish off with a couple of things that I think we could look out for in the coming months, then I will say the first thing is that we should look out for signs that the Russian offensive has culminated. And it may be that they can continue this grinding kind of offensive and take a lot of territory before eventually things will slow down when the bad weather comes in the fall. But it might also be that they culminate before that and that suddenly they stop making any progress at all.

And the other thing I will say that it will be really interesting to look out for is, of course, F-16s. And it's really hard to predict how big a difference it will make that Ukraine will get more modern fighter jets and how well they will be able to use them. But I think the effect that Ukraine is hoping to get with F-16s is to intercept the Russian jets that are coming in to throw glide bombs on the Ukrainian forces. So glide bombs are really big bombs that have been equipped with some wings and then they're dropped from a Russian jet and they can glide for maybe 60, 70, 80 kilometers and then they can hit a target fairly precisely. And these bombs are currently a huge problem for the Ukrainian forces on the front line. And if the F-16s can mean that Russia won't be able to use those bombs so much anymore, then that would make a huge difference for the Ukrainians. So I think that's another thing to look out for in the couple of months if the F-16s will make a difference in reducing the pressure on the Ukrainian positions or if the Russians will manage to find some kind of solution where F-16s won't make a big difference.

Okay, I will end it here. I hope you found it useful with this overview of the front lines. If you want to support the channel, you can subscribe to my newsletter on Thank you very much for watching and I will see you again next time.