Război în Ucraina. Update 26 Iulie 2022

ISW

Key Takeaways

  • Russian proxy and occupation leadership is enunciating expedited deadlines for the capture of Ukrainian territory to align with the Kremlin’s efforts to prepare for the annexation of occupied territories into the Russian Federation.
  • Russian forces gained marginal ground northeast of Bakhmut and are continuing to fight east and south of Bakhmut.
  • Russian forces conducted a limited attack northwest of Izyum, likely to secure Russian rear areas on the Izyum-Slovyansk line.
  • Russian forces conducted limited attacks southwest of Donetsk City near the Zaporizhia Oblast border.
  • Russian forces focused on defending occupied lines and conducted a limited ground assault in northwestern Kherson Oblast.
  • Ukrainian forces continued to strike Russian logistics nodes in Kherson Oblast.
  • The Kremlin is continuing to constitute regional volunteer battalions for deployment into Ukraine.
  • Ukrainian intelligence leaks continue to reveal the Kremlin’s annexation agendas for occupied Ukraine by way of falsified referenda.

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 limited ground attacks northwest of Slovyansk and shelled settlements to the southeast and southwest of Izyum on July 26. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian troops once again conducted an unsuccessful assault near Bohorodychne, about 20 km northwest of Slovyansk.[3] The Ukrainian General Staff also noted that Russian forces conducted a reconnaissance operation near Chepil, about 60 km northwest of Slovyansk between Kharkiv City and Izyum.[4] This reconnaissance attempt may suggest that Russian forces are seeking to secure the rear of operations on the Izyum-Slovyansk line. ISW will continue to monitor the Chepil area for indicators of the nature of Russian operations northwest of the Izyum-Slovyansk line. Russian forces continued to shell settlements along the Kharkiv-Donetsk Oblast border southeast of Izyum and around Barvinkove, southwest of Izyum.[5]

The Ukrainian General Staff additionally claimed that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian assaults in the area of the Sviati Hory National Nature Park, about 20 km northeast of Slovyansk.[6] The Sviati Hory park is bounded by the eastern bank of the Siverskyi Donets River, and it is unlikely that Russian forces have yet made it across the river and are advancing southwest toward Slovyansk. The language of the General Staff report is vague and may suggest that:

  1. Russian forces have either crossed the Siverskyi Donetsk River on the outskirts of the park (which is unlikely given previous challenges Russian troops have faced in opposed river crossings);
  2. That Ukrainian forces have crossed the Siverskyi Donetsk River onto the territory of the park and are engaging Russian troops in the area, which would be noteworthy, but for which there is no evidence;
  3. or that Russian forces simply carried out unspecified offensive actions somewhere near the park and in the general area northeast of Slovyansk.

ISW will continue to monitor developments and potential directions of Russian advances from the Sviati Hory area.

Russian forces made incremental gains northeast of Bakhmut between July 25 and 26. Geolocated footage posted by a Russian soldier walking freely along a very damaged segment of the T1302 Bakhmut-Lysychansk highway in Berestove (25 km northeast of Bakhmut) shows that Russian forces took control of Berestove on July 25.[7] The footage shows that Berestove has been essentially leveled by Russian artillery and is completely abandoned, which suggests that Ukrainian troops may have conducted a controlled withdrawal from the area. Russian forces will likely leverage this position to move southwest along the T1302 towards Soledar and attempt to assault Bakhmut from the Berestove-Soledar line. Russian forces are also fighting near Soledar itself.[8]

Russian forces continued to fight south of Bakhmut on July 26. Several Russian sources posted further confirmation that Russian forces, including Wagner Group mercenaries, have taken control of the Vuhlehirska Power Plant (also sometimes referred to as the Vuhledar Power Plant) about 25 km southeast of Bakhmut.[9] The Ukrainian General Staff stated that Russian forces are fighting in Semihirya (just northwest of the Vuhlehirska Power Plant).[10] ISW assessed on July 25 that Ukrainian troops likely conducted a controlled withdrawal from the power plant to Semihirya, and Russian forces will likely continue measured attempts to push north of the territory of the plant towards Bakhmut.

Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks southwest of Donetsk City on July 26. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces attempted to assault Blahodatne and Pavlivka, both about 45 km southwest of Donetsk City.[11] Blahodatne is within ISW-assessed Russian-controlled territory, and the Ukrainian General Staff’s report on an attack in its vicinity may suggest that Ukrainian troops have conducted limited counterattacks near Blahodatne as they have around Pavlivka. Russian troops additionally continued to focus offensive operations in the direction of Avdiivka and fired along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line of contact.

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 and continued to focus on maintaining defensive lines north of Kharkiv City to prevent Ukrainian forces from advancing toward the international border on July 26.[13] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces continued to conduct air and artillery strikes along the Kharkiv City Axis on July 26.[14] Russian forces conducted airstrikes on Mospanove, Zalyman, and Yavirske, all southeast of Kharkiv City, and launched tube and rocket artillery strikes on Kharkiv City and settlements to the north, northeast, and southeast.[15]

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

Russian forces continued their air and missile campaign against Odesa and Mykolaiv Oblasts on July 26. Ukrainian Air Force Command Spokesperson Yuriy Ignat reported that Russian bombers fired 13 air missiles at the coastal settlement of Zatoka south of the Dniester Estuary and other unspecified areas in Odesa Oblast from the Black Sea, and social media reports showed destruction of residential infrastructure.[16] Mykolaiv Oblast Administration Head Vitaly Kim reported that Russian forces fired 18 missiles at Mykolaiv Oblast, and about half of the missiles hit a defunct railway bridge, industrial areas, residential buildings, and critical infrastructure.[17] Kim specified that Russian forces launched six Kh-59 cruise missiles and 12 missiles from S-300 air defense systems.[18] The Ukrainian Southern Operational Command added that Russian forces targeted an unspecified port in Mykolaiv Oblast.[19]

Russian forces continued to focus on defending their occupied positions and attempted a limited unsuccessful assault in northwestern Kherson Oblast. The Ukrainian Southern Operational Command reported that Russian forces made another unsuccessful attempt to advance from occupied Ishchenka to Bilohirka on July 25, likely in an effort to push back Ukrainian positions on the eastern Inhulets Riverbank.[20] Russian forces also carried out air and missile strikes on settlements around the Ukrainian bridgehead over the Inhulets River.[21]

Ukrainian forces reportedly continued to strike Russian ammunition depots and manpower concentrations in Kherson Oblast, likely complicating Russian logistics in the region. The Ukrainian Southern Operational Command stated that Ukrainian forces destroyed a command post and an ammunition depot of the 11th Separate Guards Air Assault Brigade (based in Ulan Ude, Buryatia) in northern Kherson Oblast on July 25.[22] Advisor to the Kherson Oblast Military Administration Head Serhiy Khlan also confirmed that Russian forces are attempting to establish a pontoon crossing over the Inhulets River in Darivka (approximately 24 km northeast of Kherson City) to resume transport of heavy equipment after Ukrainian strikes damaged a bridge in the area.[23]

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