Război în Ucraina. Update 1 August

ISW

Russian forces are reportedly continuing to transfer troops from northern Donetsk Oblast to support defensive positions in southern Ukraine and may be halting the Slovyansk campaign for the time being. The Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence (GUR) Representative Vadym Skibitsky stated that Russian forces withdrew airborne tactical groups from Donetsk Oblast and redeployed the units to occupied Kherson Oblast territories two weeks ago.[1] Skibitsky added that Russian forces are also redeploying elements of the Eastern Military District (EMD) operating in Slovyansk to southern Ukraine and are transferring a large number of troops to Crimea to prepare to defend occupied Kherson and/or Zaporizhia Oblasts against Ukrainian counteroffensives. The UK Defense Ministry also noted that Russian forces likely identified Zaporizhia Oblast as a vulnerable front in need of reinforcement, and the Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces are regrouping in Zaporizhia Oblast.[2] Social media footage has shown Russian forces moving equipment and personnel to both Zaporizhia and Kherson Oblasts in recent weeks.[3]

Key Takeaways

  • ISW assesses that Russian forces were responsible for the July 28 attack on the Olenivka prison that killed 53 Ukrainian POWs; two anonymous US officials confirmed that there is no evidence that Ukrainian forces used US-provided HIMARS, some of the only munitions Ukraine has that are precise enough to do the kind of limited damage seen in satellite and other imagery, to strike the prison.
  • Russian forces are transferring elements of the Eastern Military District (EMD) from the Slovyansk area to support defensive positions along the Southern Axis.
  • Russian forces did not conduct any offensive operations north of Slovyansk or around Siversk.
  • Russian forces conducted unsuccessful ground assaults on settlements south and southeast of Bakhmut.
  • Russian proxy authorities did not claim any territorial gains near Avdiivka as Russian forces launched unsuccessful ground assaults on Avdiivka and Pisky.
  • Russian regional officials are reportedly failing to provide promised payments to the “Atal” Volunteer Battalion of the Republic of Chuvashia.
  • The Kremlin is likely prioritizing propaganda and sham referenda over the welfare of Ukrainian civilians in occupied Ukrainian territories.
  • Russian occupation forces are likely increasing efforts to deter and suppress partisan movements in occupied territories as partisan attacks on Russian officials and Ukrainian collaborators continue.

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)

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Russian forces unsuccessfully attempted to advance southwest of Izyum and continued to shell settlements on the Kharkiv City-Izyum line on August 1. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled a Russian reconnaissance-in-force operation near Mazanivka, about 22km due southwest of Izyum.[6] Russian forces also shelled Chepil, Husarivka, Nortsivka, and Protopivka (northwest of Izyum) and Hrushuvakha, Ridne, Virnopillya, Dibrovne, and Barvinkove (west and southwest of Izyum).[7] Geolocated footage of Ukrainian forces destroying Russian infantry fighting vehicles about 20km northwest of Izyum published on August 1 suggests that Russian forces may also be attempting to advance west of Izyum.[8] Continued shelling westward may indicate that Russian forces may be setting conditions seize more settlements in greater Kharkiv Oblast, as opposed to defeating Ukrainian strongholds in Slovyansk.[9] The Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) also reported that Russian forces are withdrawing elements of the Eastern Military District (EMD) committed to the Slovyansk effort and transferring them to support defensive positions in southern Ukraine.[10]

Russian forces did not conduct offensive operations north of Slovyansk or around Siversk on August 1. Russian forces reportedly shelled Adamivka, Dolyna, and Krasnopillya northwest of Slovyansk.[11] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces did not attack any settlements in Siversk area due to declining morale in units that have suffered ”significant losses” of manpower and military equipment.[12] ISW has previously assessed that Russian offensive operations in this area would likely culminate in part because Russian commanders did not take enough time to reconstitute forces exhausted by the seizures of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk.[13] Ukrainian forces have reportedly struck a Russian headquarters building in Pervomaisk, about 10km due east of Popasna.[14]

Russian forces continued to launch unsuccessful assaults on settlements southeast and northeast of Bakhmut. The Ukrainian General Staff noted that Ukrainian forces neutralized a Russian reconnaissance-in-force attempt in Yakovlivka and an assault on Soledar, about 17km and 13km northeast of Bakhmut, respectively.[15] Russian forces also launched an assault on Vershyna (approximately 12km southeast of Bakhmut) and attempted to improve tactical positions around Bakhmut, but were unsucessful and retreated.[16] Russian Telegram channel Voennyi Osvedomitel published footage of destroyed vehicles in a field, claiming that Russian forces are within two kilometers of Bakhmut.[17] ISW cannot independently verify that this footage is in Bakhmut’s immediate vicinity or if Voennyi Osvedomitel’s claim is true. Russian Telegram channel Z Kraken also claimed that fighting is ongoing east of Bakhmut.[18]

Russian forces continued offensive operations around Avdiivka and resumed assaults west of Donetsk City on August 1. Russian forces unsuccessfully attacked Avdiivka and Pisky and then withdrew.[19] Russian proxy authorities and military correspondents did not claim any new territorial gains around Avdiivka on August 1.[20] Social media footage showed large clouds of smoke in Avdiivka, reportedly after Russian artillery fire in the area.[21] Russian forces also attempted to conduct a reconnaissance-in-force operation in Mariinka, but Ukrainian forces neutralized the reconnaissance group and forced it to retreat.[22]

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 conducted a limited and unsuccessful reconnaissance-in-force operation in an unspecified area on the Kharkiv City Axis on August 1. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces withdrew after attempting a reconnaissance-in-force attempt in an unspecified area on the Kharkiv City Axis.[23] The Derhachi City reported that fighting continued near Dementiivka, and it is possible that Russian forces attempted the unsuccessful reconnaissance-in-force operation northwest of Kharkiv City.[24] Russian forces launched an airstrike on Mospanove, approximately 55km southeast of Kharkiv City, and maintained artillery fire on Kharkiv City and settlements to the north, northeast, and southeast.[25]

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

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Russian forces maintained defensive positions along the Kherson Oblast administrative border and continued to undertake measures to hinder Ukrainian advances. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces launched airstrikes on Bila Krynytsia and Andriivka, both near Ukrainian bridgeheads across the Inhulets River, and Olhyne (along the northern part of the T2207 highway).[26] Russian forces maintained heavy artillery fire in northern Kherson Oblast, likely in an effort to prevent Ukrainian advances from the northeast.[27] The Ukrainian Southern Operational Command also noted that Russian forces may form strike groups in the near future and that Russian forces continue to transfer units from Donbas to southern Ukraine.[28] Satellite images also showed Russian forces fortifications within irrigation systems in Pravdyne, approximately 33km northwest of Kherson City.[29] Ukrainian marines reportedly took 11 Russian servicemembers prisoner after conducting a localized counterattack in unspecified area of Kherson Oblast. Ukrainian forces claim to  have liberated 46 settlements in total in the region since the start of the Russian occupation.[30]

Russian forces continued to target Mykolaiv City, Nikopol, settlements in southwestern Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, and Odesa Oblast between July 31 and August 1. The Ukrainian Southern Operational Command reported that Russian forces shelled Mykolaiv City with S-300 anti-aircraft missiles from occupied territories in Kherson Oblast.[31] Ukrainian National Police stated that strikes on Mykolaiv resulted in damage to 58 private homes, 13 apartment buildings, an emergency room, and other civilian infrastructure.[32] Dnipropetrovsk Oblast Administration Head Valentyn Reznivhenko reported that Russian forces fired more than 60 rockets from Grad MLRS systems at civilian objects in Nikopol, and local Dnipropetrovsk authorities reported shelling in the Kryvyi Rih district that damaged railway infrastructure.[33] The Ukrainian Southern Operational Command noted that Russian forces hit a dry grass field with two Iskander-type missiles launched from Crimea, but the Russian Defense Ministry claimed that the strikes destroyed a Ukrainian anti-ship missile system.[34]

Ukrainian forces continued to disrupt Russian logistics by targeting Russian ammunition depots in northwestern and southern Kherson Oblast. Ukrainian officials reported that Ukrainian forces struck a Russian warehouse in Skadovsk (about 65km due south of Kherson City), and social media footage showed large cloud of red smoke stemming from the warehouse on August 1.[35] The Ukrainian Southern Operational Command reported that Ukrainian forces also struck two Russian strongholds in Oleksandrivka and Blahodatne (both northwest of Kherson City), and electronic warfare (EW) stations in Bilyaivka in northern Kherson Oblast.[36] The Ukrainian General Staff announced receiving additional four HIMARS rocket systems from the US on August 1 and will likely continue to target Russian logistics and strongholds throughout southern Ukraine.[37]

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