Welcome to the Ukraine War Update. This is how things stand on Day 512 of Vladimir Putin’s three-day blitzkrieg.
The big news this week was mostly political. Putin had to beg off meeting with the heads of state of an organization he aspires to lead rather than face arrest as a war criminal. The Black Sea Grain Initiative ended…or at least this iteration ended. The International Olympic Committee announced it would not allow athletes from Russia or Belarus to participate as members of national teams. Tactically, the Ukrainians continue to look like the Minnesota Vikings circa the mid-1970s. They are grinding out small gains and holding them.
Here are some of my past updates.
Putin Has to Choose Between BRICS and Jail
The top political news is Russian President Vladimir Putin canceling a trip to the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) heads of state meeting rather than risk arrest as a war criminal. You can read my post on this fiasco at Vladimir Putin Cancels Trip to BRICS Summit Because of ICC Arrest Warrant. The fact that the South African government, when forced to choose between membership in the ICC and hosting Putin, chose ICC membership. This is not the act of a nation looking to create a new international order.
Black Sea Grain Initiative Is Done…for Now
The Black Sea Grain Initiative, the UN-sponsored program that allowed Ukrainian grain to be exported to the Third World, ended at midnight Wednesday. It was bookended by Russian missile strikes on port infrastructure in Odesa.
For the fourth night in a row, Russia continues its bombardment of Odesa. The main targets were agricultural producers, their stored agricultural products and equipment storage. As the attack with Caliber missiles happened in two waves rescue equipment was damaged. pic.twitter.com/2kdMrwUQ6l
— Mattia Nelles (@mattia_n) July 21, 2023
We need to look at this as the opening move in the negotiations for the next round of the grain deal, not as its ending; see Russia Kills the Black Sea Grain Initiative but Can It Make It Stick?
When the volley of Russian missiles struck Odessa overnight, one hit the Chinese consulate.
China confirmed that during the Russian missile-drone attack on Odesa, the building of the Consulate General was damaged. Earlier regional governor Oleh Kiper posted a pictures of the damage. pic.twitter.com/ijBNLli6G9
— NOELREPORTS 🇪🇺 🇺🇦 (@NOELreports) July 20, 2023
NATO Defense Expenditures
The defense expenditures of our NATO allies have been a bone of contention for years, but it really came to the forefront of the national conversation under President Trump. There is no doubt that a large number of NATO members are freeloaders. For years Germany has used its NATO budget to improve ports, railways, and highways because NATO forces would have to use them in case of war. In the meantime, the Bundeswehr, Luftwaffe, and Kriegsmarine have been driven into the dirt by neglect. This chart lets you know at a glance who are serious allies and who aren’t.
F-16 Project Continues on Track
Ukraine has been campaigning for over a year for modern fighter and attack aircraft. The last piece has fallen into place. Now it is only a matter of time until the first F-16s operate in Ukrainian airspace.
The US will allow European countries to train Ukrainians on F-16 fighter jets, a top Biden administration official confirmed, a potential boon for Ukraine’s efforts to counter Russia’s air superiority. https://t.co/UyuMLP87du
— CNN International (@cnni) July 16, 2023
A USV attack heavily damaged the only direct connection between Crimea and Russia; see Russia’s Bridge to Crimea Heavily Damaged…Again…by Ukrainian Attack. The railway bridge still operates, but vehicular traffic is single-tracked on one lane. The entire Russian war effort in Crimea and Kherson depends on the Kerch Strait Bridge and a single highway and rail line following the coast of the Sea of Azov.
The Kerch Strait Bridge is a logistically significant object.
Russia will only have 1 ground supply line – the costal highway on the Sea of Azov – to sustain (or evacuate) its tens of thousands of troops in occupied Kherson & Crimea if UKR manages to degrade/destroy the bridge. pic.twitter.com/f2Uaj6XE5u
— George Barros (@georgewbarros) July 17, 2023
No Matter Where You Go, Russians are Disliked
Instead of the invasion of Ukraine bolstering Russian power and prestige, it has resulted in both being devastated. This poll by Gallup shows how Russia’s image has been thrashed by its criminal behavior in Ukraine. These views of Russia directly impact the ability of the Russian government to carry out diplomacy, and when the war ends, it will make it more difficult for Russia and Russian companies to find foreign investment. When you add this to the abandonment of Russian culture by the Russian diaspora in Eastern and Central Europe and the creation of a Ukrainian national identity, this war will have to go down as one of the major strategic disasters in modern history.
This is your regular reminder that Twitter is not real life.
The overwhelming majority of people on this planet dislike russia.
Even the narrative about the ‘global south’ supporting russia is way overblown.
Don’t call our region hawkish just because we have governments… pic.twitter.com/uM6o0y5DOe
— Bad Baltic Takes (@BadBalticTakes) July 14, 2023
Did I Mention the Rejection of Russian Cultural Influence?
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has caused a renaissance of interest in Ukrainian language, history, and culture. It has also caused a rejection of all things Russian.
The Kyiv City Council banned the public use of Russian-language books, music, performances, concerts, art albums, audiovisual works, and other media in the Ukrainian capital.https://t.co/t8cjjfGl2S
— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) July 14, 2023
It is a solid bet that other Ukrainian cities will follow suit and impose similar restrictions.
No Olympics for Russia and Belarus
Just to reiterate my point above, the IOC will not allow Russia and Belarus to compete in the 2024 games. The athletes from those countries can compete under a neutral, i.e., white flag.
— Steafan Dubhuidhe (comrade/comrades) (@AnarchoTerran) July 14, 2023
South Korea’s President Visits Ukraine Bearing Gifts
South Korea hasn’t been a big player in assisting Ukraine. It has provided non-lethal aid such as helmets, and in May, it “loaned” the US 155mm artillery ammunition that was subsequently given to Ukraine; see Putin’s War, Week 65. G7 Calls for War Crimes Trials and Reparations, F-16 Pilots Start Training, and Russia Is Invaded. On Saturday, South Korean President Yoon Suk-Yeol visited Kiev and offered to underwrite de-mining efforts and to help rebuild schools. He also visited Poland and inked a $13.7 billion arms deal plus an agreement to manufacture Korean-designed equipment in Poland. With the visit to Kiev put in context with the billions of dollars Poland has spent on South Korean military equipment, it is an indicator that South Korea is establishing itself as a power player in Eastern Europe.
SOUTH KOREA 🇰🇷 SUPPORTS UKRAINE 🇺🇦
South Korea 🇰🇷 to allocate $150 million to Ukraine 🇺🇦 for demining and help rebuild schools.
– 🇰🇷 Pres. Yoon Suk-Yeol
— Jason Jay Smart (@officejjsmart) July 15, 2023
Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant Update
Europe’s largest nuclear power plant remains on the front lines of the battle area. Earlier in the month, Ukraine accused Russia of planning to demolish the reactor, and Russia accused Ukraine of plotting a “false flag” attack to blame Russia, see BREAKING. Russia and Ukraine Accuse Each Other of Planning an Attack Tonight on Europe’s Largest Nuclear Reactor. IAEA inspectors are on the scene and have reported no signs of preparations for destruction.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has announced that they are continuing to Inspect the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant but that they have not seen Heavy Military Equipment, Mines, or Explosives at the Installation in the past week, however that they are still working with… pic.twitter.com/jFS1Fv5FVo
— OSINTdefender (@sentdefender) July 20, 2023
Prisoners of War
I’ve often noted that the only functioning diplomatic interaction between Russia and Ukraine is their prisoner exchange cartel. Unsurprisingly, the Ukrainians have tried to make their treatment of Russian prisoners in custody a public relations item. Ukraine allows the International Committee of the Red Cross access to its prisoner-of-war camps, a major difference from Russia. This is not to say war crimes don’t occur; they do. That is not unique to this war. A post-World War Il study by the British Army found that surrenders attempted after an exchange of small arms fire were rarely accepted.
One of the camps for Russian POWs in the West of Ukraine.
Ukraine abides by international conventions of treating prisoners of war. They get good food, medical care, are able to receive mail and call home.
Compare this to the state of Ukrainian Defenders when they return from… pic.twitter.com/z6UMVEkqrm
— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) July 15, 2023
Compare and contrast the health of these men with the videos of released Ukrainian prisoners and their conditions with those in Russian PW camps.
WTF I Mean wt-f***ing-f?
I don’t know anything about this guy other than he works for a Russian funded “think tank” and seems to be rather stupid. Sadly, he has a lot of influence with a particular slice of online conservatism.
Real Americans have stood with Putin since DAY ONE of their Special Military Operation 🇺🇸🇷🇺 pic.twitter.com/Vkz3Y9w7JH
— Jackson Hinkle 🇺🇸 (@jacksonhinklle) July 15, 2023
These 4 men will dismantle western wokeism. pic.twitter.com/Z1EARNZbT5
— Jackson Hinkle 🇺🇸 (@jacksonhinklle) July 18, 2023
He probably thinks he’s doing some kind of troll-by-sarcasm, but the fact that you can’t tell his sarcasm from his usual fare should make anyone listening to him reconsider.
As the amount of video covering combat operations grows, so does the effort by both sides to manipulate it. Both sides use video for propaganda though the methodology differs. The Ukrainians swamp social media with video to give the impression of inevitable victory. The Russians tend to edit one piece of video in several different ways. This is an example of that technique.
This example shows how Russian propaganda channels operate.
The first video is widely distributed in Russian channels, claiming that a Leopard hit a mine and got destroyed. The video gets cut right after the explosion (like in many Lancet videos) without revealing what really… pic.twitter.com/67U73uR6rv
— (((Tendar))) (@Tendar) July 14, 2023
Russian Telegram Star Killed in Action
Mikhail Luchin, known on Telegram as “Misha in Donbas,’ was killed in action near Bakhmut. Luchin was a drone operator and commander of a drone unit. He had about 22,000 followers on his Telegram account, where he posted combat action videos.
🇷🇺 This was Misha's last entry in Donbass. pic.twitter.com/X2tthMKnVE
— RADAR ID INTL (@RADARIDNEWS) July 20, 2023
He was also famous for raising money online to buy drones for his unit, only to have his account hacked and cleaned out. The hackers used the money to buy dildos which they shipped to the unit.
Take It With a Grain of Salt
I do my best not to cover the who’s-up-who’s-down stories about the Kremlin or the Russian high command because Here is a collection of stories that merit our attention.
It seems fair to assume that much of Russia’s elite are spending a lot of time calculating where things stand in the wake of Prigozhin’s mutiny and its curiously muted aftermath. | @AStuttaford https://t.co/xjff0Y1gTK
— National Review (@NRO) July 14, 2023
“The Ukrainian army could not break through our ranks at the front but our senior chief hit us from the rear, viciously beheading the army at the most difficult and intense moment,” he said in an audio message posted on Telegram on Wednesday.
“The senior chiefs apparently sensed some kind of danger from me and quickly concocted an order from the defence minister in just one day and got rid of me. I await my fate.”
Maj Gen Popov is the first senior Russian army commander to be sacked for insubordination since the beginning of the war.
I covered Popov’s ouster last week in Putin’s War, Week 72. Ukraine Misses NATO Membership but Still Wins and Ground Combat Gains Velocity.
In the next story, a former FSB colonel is arrested for running a Telegram channel that specializes in threatening to release embarrassing information on members of Russia’s elite.
Russian authorities arrested a former FSB colonel suspected of running the “Kremlin Laundress,” a Telegram channel which is believed to have extorted prominent politicians and businessmen, according to TASS. https://t.co/adFtsxCHEi
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) July 14, 2023
According to BRIEF, Polyakov was in charge of Department 2 of the FSB Service for Moscow and the Moscow Region, with culture, education, sports, and healthcare under his purview. His employees were reportedly involved in administrating Telegram channels.The Telegram channel also indicated that he may have been involved in working to discredit the head of the FSB of Moscow and the Moscow Region, Aleksey Dorofeev.
The relief of Popov mentioned above seems to have set off a cascade of removals of any senior officer tempted to buck Moscow’s orders or complain about the support of the war effort. It is rumored that Colonel General Mikhail Teplinsky, commander of all Russian Airborne forces, might be the next to go. It is also rumored that many Airborne officers will refuse to fight if that happens.
It turns out Shoigu-Gerasimov not only fired the Commander of 106th Airborne Division Major General Vladimir Seliverstov but also the Commander of 7th Guards Mountain Air Assault Division Col. Alexander Kornev. The tensions between VDV/Teplinsky and Shoigu-Gerasimov are mounting pic.twitter.com/2vZu1esbUd
— Giorgi Revishvili (@revishvilig) July 15, 2023
Videos like these, where soldiers and families are openly complaining about the conditions of service on Russian Telegram channels, are becoming common. Note that many don’t bother to wear a mask.
1/ Relatives of convicts serving with a Storm Z penal company of convicts say that their men become 'ghosts' on being recruited and aren't being paid. They don't have proper fire support, uniforms or equipment, don't have medicines and aren't being evacuated when wounded. ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/pLdzWhIuub
— ChrisO_wiki (@ChrisO_wiki) July 16, 2023
Rashist mobiks in Bakhmut refused to complete "suicide orders" and are now threatened with shooting by their leadership. The men hit all bingo cards: terrible commanders, no ammo, no artillery and aviation support, delays in payments, and no rotation or rest:
"Hello. We’re the… pic.twitter.com/IpFykYAP0X
— Dmitri (@wartranslated) July 16, 2023
I lived through disco music, so I know cringe. This is cringe.
To call this ‘cringe’ would be an understatement of the century.
If you’re planning to watch the whole video make sure to grab a bucket just in case you might need to throw up.
I warned you!#Sarmat #WashingtonDC #USA #Russia #RussiaUkraineWar pic.twitter.com/9k6DE9lQTE
— Natalka (@NatalkaKyiv) July 16, 2023
Fighting continues in four areas. The Russians continue to attack in Kharkiv (see Putin’s War, Week 72. Ukraine Misses NATO Membership but Still Wins and Ground Combat Gains Velocity) and have gained a small amount of real estate. This operation strikes me as a spoiling attack to pull Ukrainian reinforcements from the main effort to shore up defenses. The Russian offensive in Kharkiv is by far the easiest area for the Russians to supply because of its proximity to the Russian border.
The Ukrainians continue attacking north and south of Bakhmut and are making slow but steady progress. The fighting farther south around Avdiivka/Marinka is indecisive. Both sides have had gains and losses. The Ukrainians are progressing in the three areas they are attacking in Zaporizhzhia.
I think former SEAL platoon commander Chuck Pfarrer has this right. I’d add that I think the Bakhmut experience taught the Russians that any Ukrainian advance has to be met with a full-blown counterattack. They require reserves to be moved and assembled and present a target to Ukrainian artillery before they can be used. The constant movement wears out men and machines and exposes them to attack. One of the reasons Popov was fired was because he demanded his units be taken out of the line and given time to rest and refit.
DIVIDE & CONQUER: By picking widely dispersed points of contact, UKR is making RU deploy units that are not mutually supporting. When conditions are right, UKR can bring superior forces to bear on isolated RU units. Genius, really. It’s also called the ‘rope-a-dope’. pic.twitter.com/Ypo1u5jks3
— Chuck Pfarrer | Indications & Warnings | (@ChuckPfarrer) July 14, 2023
The Butcher’s Bill
The butcher’s bill was a term used in the Royal Navy during the Age of Sail for the number of casualties after an engagement. Thanks to a Russian Telegram channel affiliated with Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Wagner Group PMC, we have an idea of the butcher’s bill for Wagner’s victory in Bakhmut.
Wagner-linked Telegram channel releases stats for warlord Yevgeny Prigohin's mercenary group from battle of Bakhmut:
-78,000 fighters, 49,000 of which were convicts
-22,000 killed, 40,000 wounded
-25,000 are now "alive and healthy"
-10,000 of those already in or going to Belarus
— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) July 19, 2023
Of a total strength of 78,000 men, 62,000 (79%) were casualties. Of the 40,000 wounded, 25,000 (60%) have returned to duty. This amounts to 37,000 men (47%) dead or invalided out. In the words of Pyrrhus of Epirus, “Another such victory and I am undone.”
Ukraine Begins Using US-Supplied Cluster Munitions
A week ago, the US released cluster munitions to Ukraine in the guise of 155mm Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions artillery rounds. The decision stirred up a contrived controversy notable for its dishonesty and the memory-holing of Russia’s use of cluster munitions since Day One of the war; see US Releases Cluster Munitions to Ukraine in Stopgap Effort to Aid Ukraine’s Offensive. Now that ammunition is in use.
Ukraine begins firing U.S.-provided cluster munitions at Russian forces https://t.co/nn9gnTpIbW
— Bo Snerdley (@BoSnerdley) July 20, 2023
Probably the first visual confirmation of US-delivered DPICM cluster ammunition in Ukrainian services. It shows a failed Russian advance near Krasnohorivka.
— (((Tendar))) (@Tendar) July 20, 2023
Pentagon Announces New Aid Package
The US announced a new military aid package for Ukraine worth $1.3 billion under USAI. USAI is an authority under which the United States procures capabilities from industry or partners to then send to Ukraine.https://t.co/1FMBqh2qOH pic.twitter.com/s5e4TiXUyP
— NOELREPORTS 🇪🇺 🇺🇦 (@NOELreports) July 19, 2023
New Ammunition Supplier
Even though Bulgaria’s President Rumen Radev is pro-Russian and reluctant to help Ukraine, the old adage of “money talks and bullish** walks” is as true in Bulgaria as anywhere else.
Here is an update or new article on something I reported on months ago and often talk about in spaces.https://t.co/g2nXtPnD8M
— cameron (@cameron19460429) July 14, 2023
For those keeping score, this brings the number of nations producing artillery ammunition for Ukraine other than the United States to 10.
- Belgium: BAES (Belgium Advanced Engineering Solutions)
- Czech Republic: Explosia
- France: Nexter
- Germany: Rheinmetall
- Italy: OTO Melara
- Netherlands: NAMMO
- Poland: Huta Stalowa Wola
- Portugal: Expal
- Spain: Expal
- United Kingdom: BAE Systems
Last week BAE announced an eight-fold increase in ammunition production. Rheinmetall is activating mothballed ammunition plants. The US is bringing new ammunition plants online.
Which brings me to this nonsense.
Ukraine has more modern artillery systems than Russia. Russia not only does not have “10 times the ammunition” but is it engaged in an industrial battle to produce both artillery and ammunition that, in my view, it has no more hope of winning today than it did when it tried to match Ronaldus Magnus dollar for dollar in the late 1980s.
We’ve known the Russians had an equivalent to our Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), but this is the first concrete evidence it is being used in Ukraine.
Pic of a FAB-500 M-62 bomb equipped with the UMPK glide kit on a Su-24M frontline bomber. To my knowledge, this is the first visual confirmation of the UMPK being used on this aircraft. So far it’s been mainly Su-34/35. https://t.co/Fmox0bxN7k pic.twitter.com/Iz5AX9uUT4
— John Hardie (@JohnH105) July 15, 2023
Ukrainian Production Steps Up
Ukraine had an arms industry in its infancy when the war broke out. For most of its history, Ukraine focused on repairs and upgrades to Soviet equipment, but it also had home-grown artillery, anti-ship missile, and short-range ballistic missiles in production. Now some parts of the Ukrainian defense industry seem to be hitting their stride.
Ukraine began the war with *1* prototype 2S22 Bohdana long-range howitzer built for Western 155mm shells–and nearly scuttled it. But it escaped & fought in Battle of Snake Island. Now there are 3, and production looks imminent. Read-on for the full story. https://t.co/EL73UEFZF9
— Sebastien Roblin (@sebastienroblin) July 14, 2023
The Great HAWK Roundup
Last October, I posted on Spain transferring a batter of HAWK anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine. They were obsolescent and in storage awaiting demilitarization (Putin’s War, Week 33. Mobilization Muddle, a New Era in Air-to-Air Combat Begins, and Another Lull Before a Storm). As it turns out, they are effective against virtually all Russian aircraft and missiles. And there are lots of them in storage with US allies. Now the US is in the process of repurchasing them and shipping them to Ukraine.
So, the "Great Hawk Roundup" I've advocated for since 2022 has come to pass.
The Biden Administration should be highly praised for this move.
It is very strategically & financially astute policy act.
— Trent Telenko (@TrentTelenko) July 14, 2023
Fresh Out of Storage
There have been a lot of horror stories about the condition of Russian equipment coming out of storage depots. Tanks had been stripped of optics and engine parts for sale on the black market. Tires were dry-rotted. And on and on. This is another example.
Russian AA/artillery unit received 6 Tunguska air defence vehicles from MoD, likely from long conservation followed by major repairs – as a result, all six vehicles are disfunctional.
In the full version of the video, the reporter states that upon reception, three vehicles were… pic.twitter.com/5QfhbHEIv2
— Dmitri (@wartranslated) July 19, 2023
Here is a collection of some of the better combat action footage.
Ukrainians soldiers pinned down by enemy fire get evacuated by a BTR during an assault in Zaporizhzhia pic.twitter.com/UbqLK9XgCq
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) July 15, 2023
Remains of the convoy that was hit yesterday. There is additional footage of burned corpses and killed Russian personnel which I won't include. It appears Marines from the Caspian Flotilla were among the soldiers in this column. https://t.co/l2n8CrZJGY pic.twitter.com/DHDQD9tXj9
— NOELREPORTS 🇪🇺 🇺🇦 (@NOELreports) July 15, 2023
This is one of the more amazing pieces of video I’ve seen. A Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle was hit by a Russian sabot round…and drove away.
Bradley after being hit by a Russian tank 💪💪💪 pic.twitter.com/X2n2jMFLfR
— Mykhailo Lavrovskyi (@Lavrovskyi) July 14, 2023
This is why you don’t use a very expensive missile to engage a small and very cheap quadrocopter.
Wow…Insane Footage showing a Russian 9K331 Tor-M1 Surface-to-Air Missile System attempting to Target and Shoot Down a Ukrainian Drone and only Missing by near Inches. pic.twitter.com/ouleUlf7YH
— OSINTdefender (@sentdefender) July 14, 2023
Switchblade Back Brief
This is a good article on the US-produced Switchblade suicide drone.
Had a bit of chat with Switchblade 300's user about his experience with it.
In short: not that bad.
— NIP «Tysk» (@TyskNIP) July 16, 2023
What If a Plane Crashes in the Water and No One Gives a Rip?
It is increasingly difficult to watch the actions of Russians…anywhere…and not come away with the feeling that they are the product of a gravely wounded society. Monday, a Russian Su-25 crashed into the ocean off the Russian seaside resort of Yeysk on the Sea of Azov. The pilot ejected (see 0:05 in the video) and made a safe water landing. No one came to rescue him. He struggled for eight minutes and drowned.
Russians continue their meltdown over the footage of a Su-25 that crashed into the sea yesterday. Apparently, the pilot died after drowning – he was in the water for 8 minutes, and no one on the beach bothered trying to help him, instead preferring to swim and drink beer. pic.twitter.com/lD8TRJTbmf
— Dmitri (@wartranslated) July 18, 2023
Timur Khismatullin, a 27-year-old Senior Lieutenant, commander of an assault squadron, pilot of the Russian Su-25 that crashed off the coast of Yeysk, Krasnodar. He didn’t survive.
H/t @guteniev https://t.co/aLYbgOLzPO pic.twitter.com/Z7y9CAJojv
— KIU • Russian Officers killed in Ukraine 🇨🇿🇺🇦 (@KilledInUkraine) July 18, 2023
Russian Telegram military sources are indignant that not a single Russian helped the military pilot who drowned after his Su-25 crashed into the sea yesterday in Krasnodar, Yeysk.
“He drowned alive for 8 minutes while the men were splashing & chicks were drinking cold beer” pic.twitter.com/VcGBmY54SF
— Clash Report (@clashreport) July 18, 2023
Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTP)
This is a good example of the type of combined arms operation needed for Ukraine to succeed. My interpretation is that the manual clearing of the minefield occurs after a breach. In the SOSR mnemonic (Suppress enemy fire, Obscure the point of the breach, Seize the far side of the obstacle, Reduce the obstacle), this is the “Reduce the obstacle” stage.
Combined Arms in Action:
In this video you can see the 2nd BN, 3rd Assault Brigade conducting a beach using infantry, armor, and artillery near Bakhmut.
However, at 0:43 you can see 🇺🇦 soldiers using grappling hooks to clear a minefield of AT mines essentially by hand. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/D7F3pFxzrE
— CJ (@CasualArtyFan) July 19, 2023
This is a good article on how Ukraine deals with the extensive minefield the Russians have laid.
Worth a read 👇. The UAF are trying to get through miles of minefields and other traps as Russian forces—dysfunctional and stretched as they are in key ways— still bring artillery fire on them and remotely re-mine some areas. (1/2) https://t.co/NNUfdmqzt0
— Dara Massicot (@MassDara) July 16, 2023
This infographic on the fighting near Kupiansk shows why I think this is a spoiling attack. Kupiansk is a critical supply node for the Ukrainian Army, so it has to be defended. If you look a the topography in front of the Russian direction of attack you’ll see a river overlooked by a dominant hill mass. It is hard to see how the Russians generate the combat power necessary to carry that hill mass and put Kupiansk in jeopardy.
The Ukrainian Army continues to push north and south of the city, but the main effort is clearly in the south.
The fighting in this area is often fierce but without decisive results by either side. This also has the appearance of a spoiling offensive by the Russians. The last thing the Ukrainians need at this point is to lose the Avdiivka salient and they will be forced to push fresh troops into the fighting here and away from the main effort.
CREDIT: ISW Interactive Map
The main fighting is on the outskirts of the town of Robotyne on the Orikhiv-Tokmak-Melitopol axis where Ukrainian troops are trying to breach the first Russian obstacle belt. The progress is very slow. I think we will see a penetration here in the next two weeks and then we will learn a lot. The ferocity of the Russian defense here leads me to believe the succeeding lines of defense are either lightly manned or without troops. If that is the case, then we could witness a race between the two armies to the next defensive line.
Ukrainian troops successfully advanced on 3 directions of the southern front, said Kovalev, spokesman of the General Staff.
The defense forces are entrenched at the frontiers in the directions
🔸️Novodanilivka – Verbove
🔸️Novodanilivka – Robotyne
— Feher_Junior (@Feher_Junior) July 21, 2023
Volunteers for Deportation Recruited
A similar offer was made in Kherson before the Russians evacuated the area.
Russian Telegram channels post this flyer that was put into mailboxes of the residents of temporarily occupied Enerhodar (the city closest to Zaporizhzhia NPP).
They are invited to move to the Russian Far East.
Translation of the flyer's content is below:
"Ministry of the… pic.twitter.com/SSYzlQZtoj
— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) July 15, 2023
The Ukrainians continue to occupy a bridgehead on the left bank of Dnieper in the area of the now-destroyed Antonovsky Bridge. There is the potential for a supporting attack here if the Russian defenses in Zaporizhzhia begin to come unglued. Otherwise, this bridgehead pins down Russian forces who otherwise would be available as reinforcements.
A Russian Arms Depot in Occupied-Crimea near the Town of Staryi Krym also know as “Old Crimea” has reportedly been Struck by a Ukrainian “Kamikaze” Attack Drone this morning causing a Large Fire to occur and setting off Secondary Explosions. pic.twitter.com/Wx1AlO1oHP
— OSINTdefender (@sentdefender) July 19, 2023
Pro-Ukrainian Chechen fighters ambush a Russian supply truck in Belgorod Oblast, Russia.
An ambush by pro-Ukrainian Chechen warfighters: pic.twitter.com/DlaGkQxp5I
— Illia Ponomarenko 🇺🇦 (@IAPonomarenko) July 17, 2023
The Dyagilevo airfield has been hit (The War in Ukraine Heats up as Drones Attack Russian Airbase Only 100 Miles From Moscow) before with greater effect. But pinprick strikes deep inside Russia have a psychological impact that far exceeds the damage they cause (Putin’s War Comes Home as Kremlin Is Hit by Drone Attack).
⚡️The 🇷🇺Russian Military Airfield "Dyagilevo" in the Ryazan region was previously attacked with the help of a UAV, – reports Baza
According to "Baza" sources, the airfield was attacked around 3 am on July 20 – at that time an explosion was heard.
According to preliminary data,… pic.twitter.com/HbEJNLQz0e
— 🇺🇦Ukrainian Front (@front_ukrainian) July 20, 2023
The Ukrainians have dropped an OPSEC wall around their operations that is very different from just a few months ago when it seemed like every Ukrainian unit was posting combat videos. What we see right now is largely what they want us to see. The most significant evidence of this new security regime is that we still don’t know the whereabouts of nine trained armor and mechanized brigades, including the one equipped with Challenger 2 tanks.
Based on what I’m inferring is the Ukrainian operational concept, we can expect to see continued pressure south of Bakhmut. This looks to be the secondary focus of the Ukrainian offensive, and I think a breakthrough south of the city is very likely, given the chaos in the Russian chain of command in the area. Pressure will continue around Robotyne to breach the first Russian defensive belt, and the Ukrainians will try to turn that into an exploitation.