The British military believes Russia will make a push to try to seize the cities of Kramatorsk and Severodonetsk in eastern Ukraine.
The British made the comment Wednesday in a daily briefing it posts on Twitter about the war.
The Defense Ministry said Russia had some 22 battalion tactical groups near Izium in its attempt to advance in the area. Russia uses so-called battalion tactical groups — units of infantry typically reinforced with tanks, air defenses and artillery — in its operations. Each group typically has around 800 troops.
The British said: “Despite struggling to break through Ukrainian defenses and build momentum, Russia highly likely intends to proceed beyond Izium to capture the cities of Kramatorsk and Severodonetsk.”
It added: “Capturing these locations would consolidate Russian military control of the northeastern Donbas and provide a staging point for their efforts to cut off Ukrainian forces in the region.”
Analysts have been watching eastern Ukraine, now the site of the country’s heaviest fighting, expecting Russia to try to encircle Ukrainian forces. However, the going has been slow as Ukrainian fighters dig in and use long-range weapons, like howitzers, to target the Russians.