Război în Ucraina. Update 31 Iulie

ISW

Russian forces have resumed localized ground attacks northwest and southwest of Izyum and may be setting conditions for offensive operations further west into Kharkiv Oblast or toward Kharkiv City. Russian forces have already launched unsuccessful assaults and reconnaissance-in-force attempts on Chepil, Shchurivka, and Husarivka (northwest of Izyum) and resumed assaults on Dmytrivka and Brazhikivka (southwest of Izyum) in recent days.[1] Russian forces maintained positions around Balaklia and Velyka Komyshuvakha for months and may use these two areas as springboards for an offensive operation. Russian forces may use their positions around Balaklia to restart assaults on Kharkiv City from the southeast. Russian forces are extremely unlikely to seize Kharkiv Oblast or capture Kharkiv City – the second most populated city in Ukraine – given the pace of Russian progress in Donbas and continued challenges in force generation and logistics. ISW has previously assessed that Russian President Vladimir Putin may have ordered Russian forces to take Kharkiv City and the unoccupied portion of Kharkiv Oblast but that he is unlikely to be successful in such goals. Russian forces may also be conducting spoiling attacks to prevent Ukrainian counteroffensives.

Key Takeaways

  • The Kremlin has not responded to the International Red Cross (ICRC) request to access the Olenivka prison as of July 31, hindering the international investigation efforts.
  • Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks southwest and northwest of Izyum, consistent with ISW’s assessment that Russian forces may be setting conditions for advances northwest of the current Izyum-Slovyansk line.
  • Russian forces continued ground attacks northwest of Slovyansk, northeast of Siversk, and to the east and south of Bakhmut.
  • Russian forces made marginal gains in the Avdiivka area and continued ground attacks towards Avdiivka and Pisky.
  • Russian authorities began recruiting volunteers for the Nevsky and Ladoga Battalions in Leningrad Oblast, Russia.
  • Russian occupation authorities continued to prepare for a referendum in Kherson Oblast and took measures to depict support for Russian control of the occupied territories.

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 southwest and northwest of Izyum and continued to shell settlements in this area on July 31. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted an unsuccessful attack on Dmytrivka, about 20km southwest of Izyum.[12] Russian forces also conducted reconnaissance-in-force westward of Nova Husarivka to Husarivka (about 50km northwest of Izyum) and shelled Semylanne and Chervona Polyana, both 30km southwest of Izyum.[13] As ISW assessed on July 30, Russian forces may be reprioritizing offensive operations in the area northwest of the Izyum-Slovyansk in order to set conditions for westward advances from the Izyum area deeper into Kharkiv Oblast.[14]

Russian forces conducted a limited ground attack northwest of Slovyansk and otherwise shelled settlements along the Kharkiv-Donetsk Oblast border on July 31. The Ukrainian General Staff stated that Russian forces conducted an unsuccessful reconnaissance-in-force operation near Dolyna (about 20km northwest of Slovyansk along the E40 highway).[15] Russian troops also conducted artillery strikes near Dolyna, Krasnopillya, Mazanivka, and Adamivka – all settlements near the oblast border northwest of Slovyansk.[16] The Ukrainian General Staff noted that Russian troops are transferring separate units from the Slovyansk direction to the Zaporizhia direction, which is consistent with ISW’s assessment that Russian military leadership is likely de-prioritizing attempts to advance on Slovyansk in favor of operations elsewhere in Donbas and Southern Ukraine.[17]

Russian forces conducted a limited ground attack northeast of Siversk on July 31. The Ukrainian General Staff stated that Russian troops withdrew after an unsuccessful reconnaissance-in-force attempt near Serebryanka, 5km northeast of Siversk.[18] Russian forces also continued air and artillery strikes on Siversk and the surrounding settlements of Vymika, Spirne, Zvanivka, Verkhnokamyanske, Kryva Luka, Hryhorivka, and others.[19]

Russian forces conducted a series of ground assaults to the northeast, east, and southeast of Bakhmut on July 31. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces attempted to improve their tactical positions on the Roty-Vershyna line, about 15km southeast of Bakhmut along the E40 highway.[20] Russian forces also attempted to improve their tactical positions in the direction of Bakhmut from positions in Pokrovske, just east of Bakhmut.[21] Ukrainian troops neutralized a Russian reconnaissance-in-force attempt in the direction of Strapivka to Soledar, which is within 10km northeast of Bakhmut.[22] Russian forces continued air and artillery strikes on Ukrainian positions surrounding Bakhmut in order to support attempts to advance from the south and east.[23]

Russian forces conducted several limited ground attacks northeast and southwest of Avdiivka and made marginal gains during offensive operations around Avdiivka on July 31.[24] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces attempted advances around Kamyanka (less than 10km northeast of Avdiika) and Pisky (about 15km southwest of Avdiivka) and that unspecified separate Russian units had ”partial success” around Avdiivka.[25] Donetsk People‘s Republic (DNR) Deputy Information Minister Daniil Bezsonov claimed that Russian and DNR forces secured positions on the southeastern outskirts of Pisky, which is consistent with the Ukrainian General Staff’s statement that Russian forces attempted to push northwest of Donetsk City towards Pisky and had unspecified “partial success“ in the general area of Avdiivka.[26] Russian forces continued to shell along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City frontline in order to cover ground attacks towards Avdiivka and Pisky.[27]

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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 in the Kharkiv City direction, instead focusing on maintaining previously occupied lines and preventing Ukrainian forces from advancing toward the Russian border in Kharkiv Oblast on July 31.[28] Russian forces launched an airstrike near Staryi Saltiv, approximately 46km east of Kharkiv City, and continued conducting tube, tank, and rocket artillery strikes on Kharkiv City and settlements to the north, northeast, and southeast.[29]

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

Russian forces continued to undertake defensive measures in Kherson Oblast in preparation for a Ukrainian counteroffensive in the region. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces are attempting to prevent Ukrainian forces from advancing from the northeast into Kherson Oblast and continued shelling Ukrainian positions along the Kherson-Mykolaiv and Kherson-Dnipropetrovsk Oblast borders.[30] The Russian Defense Ministry claimed that Russian forces launched airstrikes on Ukrainian positions in Bilohirka and Bila Krynytsia, seemingly confirming that Ukraine retains a bridgehead on the eastern Inhulets River bank.[31] Satellite imagery also showed that Russian forces dug trenches near the Antonivskyi Bridge (on the right bank of the Dnipro River) and set up radar reflectors along both Antonivskyi road and railway bridges to prevent Ukrainian missile strikes.[32] Social media footage showed that Russian forces are also attempting to repair the bridge on July 31.[33]

Russian forces continued to shell and launch missile strikes against Nikopol and Mykolaiv City, after targeting the two cities throughout the week.[34] The Ukrainian Southern Operational Command reported that Russian forces fired two air-launched cruise missiles at Nikopol and 50 rockets from Grad MLRS systems.[35] Russian forces reportedly fired at Mykolaiv City with Smerch MLRS systems and modified S-300 air defense missiles on July 31.[36] Ukrainian officials stated that Russian rockets hit residential areas and social infrastructure, but the Russian Defense Ministry claimed to have destroyed a Ukrainian ammunition depot in Mykolaiv City.[37]

Ukrainian forces continue to successfully target Russian strongholds, transit routes, and ammunition depots throughout the Southern Axis. Ukrainian officials confirmed that Ukrainian forces destroyed a field ammunition depot in Vysoke (about 48km due northeast of Kherson City), and geolocated footage showed another large explosion in northern Kherson Oblast near the Dnipro River.[38] Advisor to the Ukrainian Internal Affairs Minister Anton Herashenko also confirmed that Ukrainian forces used western-provided HIMARS to strike a 40-car train with Russian equipment and personnel in Brylivka (about 47km southeast of Kherson City) on July 30, resulting in 80 dead and 200 wounded Russian servicemen.[39] Ukrainian news outlet “Ria Melitopol” published footage of an explosion at the Melitopol airfield on July 31. Ukrainian forces had targeted a reported Russian ammunition depot and base near the airfield on July 3.[40] Ukrainian forces likely conducted the strike against the airfield, but Ukrainian officials have not taken credit for or explained the explosion as of the time of this publication. The Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) also confirmed that a Ukrainian strike on Russian positions in Verhniy Tokmak and Chernihivka (both approximately 40km southeast of Tokmak) on July 29, resulted in Russian forces relocating their personnel and equipment from those settlements to Berdyansk and Tokmak.[41] The GUR specified that approximately 100 Russian servicemen remain around Chernihivka to maintain checkpoints but that most of the personnel are relocating and mining the roads.[42] The GUR also noted that the strike wounded at least 40 Russian servicemen.

Militaryland

Day summary:

Ukrainian troops are unable to hold off overhelming Russian forces in the area of Bakhmut. The enemy is slowly, but surely advancing towards Bakhmut from the southern and eastern direction. Russian army also continues its offensive attempts in the area of Donetsk, but have so far only minimal gains and Ukrainian defenders are able to repel these attacks.

Russian army shelled the border areas of Chernihiv and Sumy Oblasts again, and caused damage to civilian infrastructure.

Kharkiv & Chuhuiv direction

  • Russian reconnaissance group tried to locate Ukrainian positions in the vicinity of Husarivka. The attempt, from the direction of Nova Husarivka, was reveled and supressed.

Bakhmut Front

  • Russian troops attacked Ukrainian positions at Yakovlivka, the attack was repelled.
  • The enemy is slowly, but surely advancing towards Soledar from the direction of Stryapivka. Russian army has air and manpower superiority in the area.
  • Russian forces captured Pokrovske after a fierce resistance by the defenders. Ukrainian troops remain in the vicinity of the town.
  • Russian troops used newly gained positions at Pokrovske to advance towards Bakhmut. The attempt was repulsed.
  • The enemy attacked Ukrainian forces in the vicinity of Zaitseve (near Vershyna), but without success and retreated.
  • Russian forces attacked Semyhirya from three sides and established control over the eastern outskirts of the settlement.
  • Ukrainian troops repelled a Russian attack towards Travnate from the direction of Dolomite.
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Slovyansk direction

  • Ukrainian defenders repelled Russian assaults in the area of Dmytrivka and Brazhivka.
  • Russian reconnaissance element was discovered in the vicinity of Dolyna. After a brief skirmish, the enemy retreated.

Donetsk Oblast

  • Ukrainian troops stopped Russian advance from Novoselivka Druha towards Krasnohorivka. The enemy however gained a new ground alongside the local road.
  • Russian troops continue its assault towards Avdiivka and reportedly captured Butovka mine, north of Spartak.
  • Ukrainian forces repelled a number of attacks on Krasnohorivka and Marinka.
  • Russian forces launched an offensive towards Marinka and Pavlivka.

Kherson Front

Ukrainian troops repelled a Russian attack on Bilohirka from the direction of Bruskynske.

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