Război în Ucraina. Update 23 Iulie

ISW

Ukrainian forces are likely preparing to launch or have launched a counteroffensive in Kherson Oblast as of July 23, but open-source visibility on the progress and tempo of the counteroffensive will likely be limited and lag behind events. Ukrainian Kherson Oblast Administration Adviser Serhiy Khlan stated on July 23 that Ukrainian forces have seized unspecified settlements in Kherson Oblast but called on Ukrainian civilians to remain silent on the progress of the counteroffensive until Ukrainian authorities release official statements.[1] Foreign Policy National Security Reporter Jack Detsch reported on July 22 that an unspecified senior US defense official stated that Ukrainian forces have recaptured unspecified “portions of Russian-occupied villages” in Kherson over the past week of July 15-22, indicating that Ukrainian forces have made some unspecified territorial advances along frontlines.[2] The area between the front line and Kherson City is rural and primarily composed of small settlements that are less likely to report on force movements and engagements, allowing control-of-terrain in this area to change without evidence appearing in open-source reporting. Russian authorities additionally have no incentive to report on Ukrainian territorial gains. The informational dynamics that allow ISW to report on Russian offensive operations with relatively little lag are thus inverted in this situation.  ISW will report on the progress of any Ukrainian counteroffensives to the best of its ability within these constraints.

Key Takeaways

  • Ukrainian forces are likely preparing to launch, or have already launched, a counteroffensive in Kherson Oblast.
  • Head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov indicated that Colonel General Sergey Kuzovlev is the acting commander of the Southern Military District.
  • Russian forces conducted limited reconnaissance operations east of Bakhmut and continued limited ground attacks northwest of Slovyansk, east of Siversk, and south of Bakhmut.
  • The Kremlin continued to form regional volunteer battalions and likely intends to have 16 such battalions formed by the end of July.
  • Russian occupation authorities are continuing to prepare for referenda on the annexation of occupied areas into the Russian Federation and are taking measures to isolate occupied areas from the non-Russian information space.

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 conducted a limited ground assault northwest of Slovyansk and shelled settlements to the southeast and southwest of Izyum on July 23. The Ukrainian General Staff stated that Ukrainian troops neutralized a Russian reconnaissance group in Bohorodychne, about 20 km northwest of Slovyansk.[8] Russian forces shelled Dibrovne, Krasnopillya, and Mazanivka, all northwest of Slovyansk along the Kharkiv-Donetsk Oblast border, as well as areas southwest of Izyum in the vicinity of Barvinkove.[9]

Russian forces conducted ground attacks east of Siversk in an attempt to directly advance on the city on July 23. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian troops tried and failed to advance in the directions of Verkhnokamyankse and Siversk. The language of this report suggests that Russian forces may be advancing closer to the outskirts of Siversk itself from positions in the east.[10] Russian forces also continued air and artillery strikes to the north, south, and east of Siversk.[11]

Russian forces conducted limited reconnaissance operations to the east of Bakhmut and continued unsuccessful ground attacks south of Bakhmut on July 23. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces stopped Russian reconnaissance groups from probing Ukrainian positions around Pokrovske (5 km east of Bakhmut) and Soledar (10 km northeast of Bakhmut) and that Russian forces continued unsuccessful attacks near the Vuhledar Power Plant in Novoluhanske, about 20 km southeast of Bakhmut.[12] Russian forces continued artillery and airstrikes on and around Bakhmut to continue to set conditions for advances directly on the city.[13]

Russian forces did not conduct any confirmed ground attacks in the Avdiivka area and continued to fire on Ukrainian positions along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City frontline.[14] NASA FIRMS data from July 15-23 shows consistently fewer fires along the entire frontline in the Donbas, which strongly suggests that HIMARS are having a continued impact on Russian artillery capabilities.

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 did not conduct any ground assaults on the Kharkiv City Axis on July 23. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces continued to focus on restraining Ukrainian advances toward the international border.[15] Russian forces conducted an airstrike on Verkhnii Saltiv and continued shelling Kharkiv City and the surrounding settlements.[16]

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

Ukrainian forces struck a bridge over the Inhulets River less than 10 km from Kherson City in Dariivka, Kherson Oblast on July 23. Footage shows six equidistant points of impact on the bridge and that passenger vehicles are able to cross the bridge but must evade the holes.[17] Ukrainian Kherson Oblast Administration Adviser Serhiy Khlan stated that Ukrainian forces struck the Dariivka Bridge as part of a sustained operation to cut the supply lines of Russian forces in Kherson City.[18]

Russian forces conducted strikes on rear areas of the Southern Axis on July 23, likely to stymie Ukrainian preparations for a counteroffensive on this axis. Russian forces launched four Kalibr missiles at the port of Odesa, striking a pumping station and granary without significant damage.[19] Footage of the strike shows Ukrainian air defense intercepting at least two missiles.[20] Kirovohrad Oblast Head Andriy Raikovych stated that Russian forces also struck the Kanatove military airfield and a Ukrzaliznytsia rail transport facility in Kirovohrad Oblast with eight sea-launched Kalibr missiles and five air-launched Kh-22 missiles.[21] Ukrainian Mykolaiv Oblast Head Vitaly Kim stated that Russian forces again struck Mykolaiv City with six S-300 anti-air missiles.[22]

Russian forces did not conduct any ground assaults on the Southern Axis on July 23 and continued shelling along the entire line of contact.[23]

Militaryland

Day summary:

Russian forces are advancing at much slower peace than they’d like to, and pay a high price for every newly captured meter. Ukrainian forces are slowly gaining the initiative in some areas, and given the fact that fresh Ukrainian units are being moved to the frontline and the float of western weapons ain’t stopping, Russian forces might soon face some troubles in the most distant areas.

Ukrainian artillery shelled a bridge over Inhulec river, north-east of Kherson. The bridge is usable, but damaged, and complicates Russian resupply of Kherson furthermore.

Kharkiv & Chuhuiv direction

  • Ukrainian forces are probing Russian defenses south of Chuhuiv, alongside the M-03 highway.

Bakhmut Front

  • Russian forces advanced closer to Soledar and captured the settlement of Straipivka.
  • Heavy fighting is reported from the area of Novoluhanske and Vuhledar Power plant. Ukrainian forces are successfully repelling Russian attacks.
  • Ukrainian defenders repulsed an attack in the area of Pokrovske.

Slovyansk direction

  • Russian reconnaissance elements tried to flank Ukrainian positions in the vicinity of Bohorodychne. They were caught by Ukrainian forces and were forced to withdraw.
  • The enemy led an attack towards Verkhnokamyanske from multiple directions. The main assault was conducted from the direction of Verkhokamyanka. Ukrainian forces repulsed all attacks.
  • Russian troops tried to advance in the direction of Ivano-Darivka, but without success and retreated
  • Fighting continues in the vicinity of Spirne and Hryhorivka.

Donetsk Oblast

  • Russian forces attempted to advance closer to Vesele, but were stopped by Ukrainian defenders in the area.

Kherson Front

  • Ukrainian troops repelled a Russian attack on Andriivka from the direction of Mala Seidemynukha.
  • The enemy attempted to advance from the direction of Davidiv Brid towards Bilohirka, but was met with fierce resistance and had to retreat.
  • The information, as reported by Ukrainian General Staff, confirms Ukrainian forces are in control of Bilohirka, but they do not control Davydiv Brid.
  • Given the current situation in the area, it makes sense that Lozove is under Ukrainian control.

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