Război în Ucraina. Update 18 Iulie

ISW

Key Takeaways

  • The Russian Ministry of Defense’s meeting with the leadership of the Eastern grouping of forces in Ukraine suggests that the Kremlin will not focus on seizing Slovyansk at this stage of the campaign but will instead prioritize attempting to seize Siversk and Bakhmut.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin’s likely effort to put the burden of supporting operations in Ukraine on ethnic minorities to avoid conducting a general mobilization of ethnic Russians may be sparking resistance in ethnic enclaves in Russia.
  • Russian forces conducted a series of ground attacks east of Siversk and south of Bakhmut.
  • Russian forces intensified efforts to advance on Avdiivka and conducted limited ground assaults along the Donetsk City-Avdiivka frontline.
  • Russian authorities are continuing to integrate occupied areas into the Russian trade economy.

Main Effort—Eastern Ukraine

Subordinate Main Effort—Southern Kharkiv, Donetsk, Luhansk Oblasts (Russian objective: Encircle Ukrainian forces in Eastern Ukraine and capture the entirety of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)

Russian forces continued to conduct air and artillery strikes to the northwest of Slovyansk and may be preparing to resume offensive operations southwest of Izyum towards Barvinkove on July 18.[8] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces tried and failed to advance around Brazhivka and Dmytrivka-both 20km northeast of Barvinkove along the T2122 highway.[9] Russian forces additionally conducted artillery strikes around Barvinkove in the areas of Karnaukhivka and Virnopillya.[10] As ISW has previously assessed, Russian forces may be attempting to set conditions for advances southwest of Izyum to complement advances towards Slovyansk from the southeast of Izyum or to open a new advance towards Kramatorsk, although Russian troops are unlikely to successfully advance on Kramatorsk from Barvinkove due to the complicated cross-country terrain in this area. Russian forces also continued strikes directly on Slovyansk and on settlements to the east of Slovyansk, including Tetyanivka, Donetske, and Starodubivka.[11]

Russian forces conducted a series of unsuccessful ground attacks to the east of Siversk on July 18. The Ukrainian General Staff stated that Ukrainian troops repelled Russian attempts to improve their tactical positions in the directions of Bilohorivka-Hryhorivka, Zolotarivka-Verkhnokamyanske, Zolotarivka-Serebryanka, and Verkhnokamyanka-Verkhnokamyanske.[12] Russian forces also conducted limited ground attacks near Spirne, about 10km southeast of Siversk and continued to strike Ukrainian positions around Siversk.[13]

Russian forces continued localized ground assaults south of Bakhmut on July 18. The Ukrainian General Staff noted that Russian forces unsuccessfully tried to advance along the Myronivka-Vuhledar Power Plant line, about 20km southeast of Bakhmut.[14] Russian forces conducted additional limited assaults in Novoluhanske and Semihirya, also south of Bakhmut, but did not make any confirmed advances.[15] Russian forces continued artillery, missile, and airstrikes around Bakhmut and struck Pokrovske, Vesela Dolyna, Kurdyumivka, Travneve, Shumy, and Soledar.[16]

Russian forces intensified ground attacks towards Avdiivka on July 18.[17] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian troops attempted to improve their tactical position around Verkhnotoretske and Kamyanka, both to the northeast of Avdiivka. Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) representative Eduard Basurin claimed that DNR forces have completely blocked the road from Avdiivka to Konstyantynivka (north of Avdiivka) and have surrounded Avdiivka in a semicircle.[18] Former Russian militant commander and Russian nationalist miblogger Igor Girkin noted that despite recent claims of success around Avdiivka, DNR units in this area are severely degraded and unlikely to make substantial gains under the threat of heavy Ukrainian artillery fire.

Supporting Effort #1—Kharkiv City (Russian objective: Defend ground lines of communication (GLOCs) to Izyum and prevent Ukrainian forces from reaching the Russian border)

Russian forces focused on preventing Ukrainian forces from advancing to the Russian border in Kharkiv Oblast on July 18.[20] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces continued to carry out air, artillery, and missile strikes on civilian and military infrastructure in Kharkiv City and settlements to the north, northeast, east, and southeast.[21] Russian Telegram channel Rybar claimed that Russian forces concentrated on striking Ukrainian positions in Chuhuiv on July 17-18.[22]The Ukrainian Main Military Directorate (GUR) reported that the “Cedar” (“Кедр”) Ukrainian GUR Reconnaissance unit conducted a special operation in Dementiivka, north of Kharkiv City on July 18.[23] The GUR stated that Ukrainian forces conducted a limited, localized counteroffensive that pushed “a large unit” of Russian forces out of Dementiivka.[24]

Supporting Effort #1—Kharkiv City (Russian objective: Defend ground lines of communication (GLOCs) to Izyum and prevent Ukrainian forces from reaching the Russian border)

Russian forces focused on preventing Ukrainian forces from advancing to the Russian border in Kharkiv Oblast on July 18.[20] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces continued to carry out air, artillery, and missile strikes on civilian and military infrastructure in Kharkiv City and settlements to the north, northeast, east, and southeast.[21] Russian Telegram channel Rybar claimed that Russian forces concentrated on striking Ukrainian positions in Chuhuiv on July 17-18.[22]The Ukrainian Main Military Directorate (GUR) reported that the “Cedar” (“Кедр”) Ukrainian GUR Reconnaissance unit conducted a special operation in Dementiivka, north of Kharkiv City on July 18.[23] The GUR stated that Ukrainian forces conducted a limited, localized counteroffensive that pushed “a large unit” of Russian forces out of Dementiivka.[24]

Supporting Effort #2—Southern Axis (Russian objective: Defend Kherson and Zaporizhia Oblasts against Ukrainian counterattacks)

Russian forces focused on maintaining occupied lines and preventing a Ukrainian offensive along the Southern Axis on July 18.[25] Russian forces conducted airstrikes on Ukrainian positions along the Kherson-Mykolaiv and Kherson-Dnipropetrovsk Oblast borders and settlements on the Zaporizhia Oblast frontline.[26] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian and Russian forces conducted mutual shelling strikes along the contact line along the Southern Axis.[27] Kherson Oblast officials reported that Russian forces continued changing their concentration areas to densely populated areas in Kherson Oblast in an effort to deter Ukrainian strikes on Russian positions.[28]

Russian Telegram channel Rybar claimed on July 18 that Ukrainian forces are increasing groupings of forces and equipment near the contact line in the Mykolaiv-Kryvyi Rih direction in preparation for an offensive on Kherson Oblast.[29] Rybar also claimed that Ukrainian forces set up a pontoon bridge in preparation for a possible offensive across the Inhulets River near Arhanhelske, Kherson Oblast.[30]

Activity in Russian-occupied Areas (Russian objective: consolidate administrative control of occupied areas; set conditions for potential annexation into the Russian Federation or some other future political arrangement of Moscow’s choosing)

Russian occupation authorities continued efforts to facilitate the economic integration of occupied areas into the Russian trade economy. The Ukrainian Resistance Center reported that Russian authorities are “nationalizing” grain stores in occupied Zaporizhia Oblast under a unified Russian-owned “State Grain Company.”[31] The report notes that Russian authorities are exporting up to 100,000 tons of stolen Ukrainian grain from Zaporizhia Oblast to Egypt, Turkey, and unspecified Middle Eastern countries. Leveraging grain exports will allow Russian authorities to tie Ukrainian products directly into their global trade networks.

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