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RUS Captures Major UA City Before June 2023?

Related Question on Metaculus:

From the Wikipedia article 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine:

On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine in a major escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War, which began in 2014. The invasion has likely resulted in tens of thousands of deaths on both sides and caused Europe's largest refugee crisis since World War II.

. . .

Russian attacks were initially launched on a northern front from Belarus towards Kyiv, a north-eastern front towards Kharkiv, a southern front from Crimea, and a south-eastern front from Luhansk and Donetsk. Russia's advance towards Kyiv stalled in March, with Russian troops retreating from the northern front by April. On the southern and south-eastern fronts, Russia captured Kherson in March and then Mariupol in May after a siege. On 19 April, Russia launched a renewed attack on the Donbas region, with Luhansk Oblast fully captured by 3 July. Ukrainian forces launched counteroffensives in the south in August, and in the northeast in September. In November, Ukraine retook the city of Kherson.

In December, there were reports about an upcoming Russian offensive.

The Economist: A looming Russian offensive

Russia is massing men and arms for a new offensive. As soon as January, but more likely in the spring, it could launch a big attack from Donbas in the east, from the south or even from Belarus, a puppet state in the north. Russian troops will aim to drive back Ukrainian forces and could even stage a second attempt to take Kyiv, the capital.

The Economist: An interview with General Valery Zaluzhny, head of Ukraine’s armed forces

Valery Zaluzhny: Russian mobilisation has worked. It is not true that their problems are so dire that these people will not fight. They will. A tsar tells them to go to war, and they go to war. I’ve studied the history of the two Chechen wars—it was the same. They may not be that well equipped, but they still present a problem for us. We estimate that they have a reserve of 1.2m-1.5m people… The Russians are preparing some 200,000 fresh troops. I have no doubt they will have another go at Kyiv.

The Institute for the Study of War: Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, December 15

Russia may be setting conditions to conduct a new offensive against Ukraine— possibly against Kyiv—in winter 2023. Such an attack is extraordinarily unlikely to succeed.

Putin continues to pursue maximalist goals in Ukraine using multiple mechanisms intended to compel Ukrainians to negotiate on Russia’s terms and likely make preemptive concessions highly favorable to Russia.

For more information about large cities in Ukraine see the Wikipedia article List of cities in Ukraine and the map below.

map of Ukrainian cities with populations indicated

Lencer, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Will Russia capture or surround a large Ukrainian city before June 1, 2023?

This question will resolve as Yes if Russia manages to capture or surround at least one large Ukrainian city before June 1, 2023, according to The Institute for the Study of War (ISW). A large city is a city with pre-war population of at least 100,000. Metaculus will interpret the assessment by ISW for qualifying cities that ISW describes as "captured" or "surrounded" or similar terms, or which are shown on maps from ISW to be clearly surrounded or within territory which ISW has indicated to be within an assessed Russian advance or assessed Russian-controlled territory.

Examples of such cities closest to the frontline are: Sumy, Kharkiv, Sloviansk, Kramatorsk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson.

  • Cities that were under Russian control as of December 21, 2022 do not affect the resolution of this question (based on ISW's December 21, 2022 assessment)
  • If the map and characterization in the text of the assessment conflict, the text will be favored.
  • Language such as "Russia likely captured" the qualifying city will be sufficient for resolution.

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