Russo Ukrainian War, Day 153: Ukraine gains fire control in Kherson

 

Daily review

Article by: Hans Petter Midttun

In the Kherson Oblast, Ukraine gains fire control over Russian forces’ logistics routes, destroys Russia’s command and observation post, while Russians kidnap 63 officials, about 300 activists. Ukraine reportedly destroys 50 Russian ammunition depots using HIMARS. Russian soldiers refusing to fight held captive in the Luhansk Oblast. Resumption of Ukraine’s grain exports to begin from Chornomorsk port. Ship insurers seek more assurances on Ukraine’s grain corridor. Russia’s Gazprom tightens squeeze on gas flow to Europe.  Zelenskyy dismisses the Commander of the Special Operations.

Daily overview — Summary report, July 26

According to military expert Stanislav Haider, as of July 26,

Yesterday’s best news for Ukraine is the arrival of the Polish PT-91 Twardy tanks. Finally, several Gepard anti-aircraft systems and Stormer HVM air defense systems are already in Ukraine. Four new HIMARS and 36 thousand artillery shells are already on their way to Ukraine. 

Donetsk Oblast. Currently, the crucial issue for the Russian troops is to create conditions for an offensive on the cities of Siversk and Soledar, which are firmly held by the Ukrainian Armed Force. There is heavy fighting in Novoluhanske and on the premises of the Vuglehirsk power plant. Yesterday afternoon, the Russians managed to break through the defenses of the plant from its eastern side and occupy part of the power plant’s high-voltage substation, but the Ukrainian forces are holding on.

In the area of Hryhorivka and Ivano-Dariivka, Ukraine repulsed another Russian attack as battles are taking place east of the settlements. 

At Vuhledar and in the direction of Volnovakha and Dokuchaevsk, there is a partial advance of Ukrainian troops. In the direction of Spirny, the Armed Forces of Ukraine successfully repelled the Russians and pushed them back to their previous positions. Avdiivka and Mariinka saw no changes.

Kharkiv Oblast. The situation didn’t change after the Russian forces tried to advance in the direction of Dementiivka but retreated as the Ukrainian troops inflicted significant losses on them. Currently, Russians effectively can only hold their lines to prevent an advance of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Also, the Russian troops didn’t advance from Izium towards Sloviansk on the entire axis, where Russia concentrated its most powerful grouping in the area comprising five armies. 

Russia slightly reinforced its troops in the direction of Chuhuiv with two battalion tactical groups (BTGs). At the same time, the Russians continue to bombard peaceful Kharkiv.

Kherson Oblast. The Ukrainian Armed Forces have fire control of important logistical routes in Kherson Oblast, so the Russians cannot move freely, maneuver, and create new assault groups. The bridgehead at the Inhulets river is expanding with Russian counterattacks being repulsed. Fighting continues in the areas Snihurivka and Kyselivka. 

Zaporizhzhia Oblast. The Russians deployed three additional BTGs in the area of Polohy-Kopani-Vasylivka, and for the time being, both sides continue the artillery battles there. In the Nesterianka area, the Armed Forces of Ukraine advanced a little.

There are reports that it’s been the third day now as Russians are loading their equipment in Novooleksiivka for  Kherson with all vehicles having the “V” marking.

Volyn direction. The Ukrainian military shot down two enemy UAVs in Volyn Oblast. The Belarusian Ministry of Defense of Belarus sent letters to companies regarding the possibility of purchasing 1,000 plastic bags. Earlier, they already bought iron bracelets for the identification of bodies. However, Belarusian President Lukashenka’s current goal is to tie down Ukrainian troops.

“If they were planning to attack now, why transfer equipment and shells to the Russian Federation? Yes, there are already many Russians wearing Belarusian uniforms, but for today, this is a bluff to distract the Ukrainian forces,” Haider believes.

The work of Ukrainian artillery. According to preliminary data, a Russian ammunition warehouse has been eliminated in Kozacha Lopan (Kharkiv Oblast), a command-observation post and warehouses with ammunition were destroyed in Kherson Oblast, Donetsk’s Budyonivskyi District and Kherson’s Snihurivka saw the destruction of two more Russian ammo dumps, and a Russian base was hit in Berdiansk, Zaporizhzhia Oblast.

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 06.00 am, July 26, 2022 is in the dropdown menu below. 

Situation in Ukraine, July25,2022. Source: ISW. ~

Situation in Ukraine, July25,2022. Source: ISW.

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“In the Volyn and Polissya directions, in the armed forces of the Republic of Belarus, training was held on the communication of control points. From the territory of this country, the conduct of aerial reconnaissance by UAVs of the operational-tactical level in the directions of the cities of Lutsk and Kovel of the Volyn region was noted. The threat of missile and air strikes from the territory and airspace of the Republic of Belarus remains. [The units of the armed forces of the Republic of Belarus continue to carry out the specified tasks of strengthening security in the border areas of the Brest and Gomel regions, and are also involved in combat training activities at military training grounds.]

In the Siversky direction, Russian forces shelled the areas of Khrinivka, Chernihiv oblast, and Tovstodubovo, Sumy oblast, with artillery and MLRS. [In order to demonstrate the presence and constrain the actions of our troops, Russian forces continue to hold separate units of the armed forces of the Russian federation in the border areas of the Bryansk and Kursk regions. Yesterday, Russian forces shelled the areas of Mikhalchyna Sloboda in Chernihiv oblast, as well as Pisky, Ryasne and Bilopylla in Sumy oblast, with artillery and MLRS.]

In the Slobozhansky direction, Russian forces are conducting combat operations intending to hold the occupied lines and prevent the advance of our troops.

Kharkiv Battle Map, July 25,2022. Source: ISW ~

Kharkiv Battle Map, July 25,2022. Source: ISW

  • In the Kharkiv direction, it carried out fire damage from tanks, artillery and MLRS in the areas of the settlements of Borshcheva, Pytomnyk, Sosnivka, Ruski Tyshki, Petrivka, Dementiivka, Rubizhne, Duvanka, Mospanove, Ruska Lozova, Chuhuiv, Klugino-Bashkyrivka, Svitlychne, Pryshyb and Slatine. It carried out airstrikes near Zalyman and Mospanove. [Yesterday, Russian forces carried out fire damage from tanks, artillery and MLRS in the vicinity of Kharkiv, Udy, Verkhnyi Saltiv, Malynivka, Borshcheva and many other settlements. Airstrikes near Prudyanka and Petrivka. As a result of hostilities in the direction of Tsupivka – Dementiivka, Ukrainian soldiers inflicted significant losses on the occupiers.]
  • In the Sloviansk direction, Russian forces shelled the districts of Nortsivka, Bohorodychne, Dolyna, Chepil, Hrushuvaha, and Velyka Komyshuvakha. [Yesterday, shelling was recorded in the areas of the settlements of Nortsivka, Bohorodychne, Petrivske, Adamivka, Privillia, Barvinkove, Kostyantynivka, Nova Dmytrivka, Dolyna, Nova Mykolaivka, Karnaukhivka, Dibrovne, Chepil, Hrushuvaha, Mazanivka. Russian forces launched an air strike near Yavirsky. The invaders are trying to replenish the losses in manpower and equipment.]
Donetsk Battle Map July 25,2022. Source: ISW. ~

Donetsk Battle Map July 25,2022. Source: ISW.

In the Donetsk direction, Russian forces are concentrating their main efforts on trying to improve the tactical position and creating conditions for an offensive on the cities of Siversk and Soledar. Enemy units replenish stocks of ammunition and fuel and oil.

  • In the Kramatorsk direction, shelling from artillery and MLRS was recorded near Kryvya Luka, Zakitne, Dronivka, Hryhorivka, Verkhnyokamyanske, Zvanivka, Spirne and Pereizne. Russian forces launched airstrikes near Spirne and Serebryanka. Our soldiers successfully repelled enemy assaults in the areas of Spirne and the National Nature Park “Svyati Hory” and pushed Russian forces back. [Yesterday, Russian forces shelled the areas of Kryvya Luka, Platonivka, Zakitne, Siversk, Verkhnyokamyansky, Zvanivka, Hryhorivka, Ivano-Daryivka, and Spirne with artillery and MLRS. Used aviation near Hryhorivka and Serebryanka.]
  • [Yesterday, they attempted to advance near Spirne and Ivano-Daryivka. Received a strong rebuff and retreated.]
  • In the Bakhmut direction, Russian forces are firing artillery in the areas of the settlements of Berestove, Bilohorivka, Yakovlivka, Soledar, Bakhmutske, Pokrovske, Kostyantynivka, Vesela Dolyna, Zaitseve, Vershyna, Semihirya, Kodema, Travneve, Mayorsk and New York. It carried out airstrikes near Soledar, Vesela Dolyna and the territory of the Vuhlehirska TPP. [Yesterday, enemy shelling was recorded in the areas of the settlements of New York, Novoluhanske, Kodema, Berestove, Bilohorivka, Ivanovske, Soledar, Mayorsk, Bakhmutske, Pokrovske, Yakovlivka, Kurdyumivka, Bakhmut, Vesela Dolyna, Zaytseve, Travneve.]

  • [Yesterday Russian forces carried out airstrikes near Soledar, Pokrovske, New York and on the territory of the Vuhlehirska TPP. He led assault operations in the directions Klynove – Pokrovske and Volodymyrivka – Pokrovske, suffered losses and withdrew. In the area of ​​the Vuhlehirska TPP, individual units of Russian forces have partial success.]
  • Assault actions in the areas of the settlements of Berestove and Semihirya ended with losses and retreat for Russian forces. But enemy units are trying to advance in the direction of Pokrovske, and hostilities continue.
  • Russian forces did not conduct active operations in the Avdiyivka, Novopavlivka, and Zaporizhzhia directions. Shelling was recorded, in particular, near Avdiyivka, Zelene Pole, Orikhove, Shcherbaky and Kamianske. [Yesterday, the occupiers conducted aerial reconnaissance by UAVs. Airstrikes were carried out in the areas of Kamyana, Shevchenko, Vesele and Poltavka settlements.]

In the Pivdenny Buh directions, Russian forces continue to defend themselves and concentrate their efforts on preventing the advance of our troops. Fired artillery and tanks along the contact line. It also carried out airstrikes near Velyke Artakove, Kaluha, and Olhyne. Conducted aerial reconnaissance with the UAVs.

In the waters of the Black Sea, outside the base points, there are two carriers of sea-based cruise missiles of the “Kalibr” type. There is still a threat of missile strikes on critical infrastructure facilities.

Our planes and helicopters continue to carry out airstrikes against concentrations of enemy manpower and military equipment in designated directions. The occupiers continue to suffer significant losses in battles with Ukrainian soldiers.

[Russian personnel is demoralized. The Russian command in some directions is throwing manpower into the attacks without the protection of armoured vehicles. In this way, the officers keep the equipment in working order and try to take revenge on their subordinates for deliberately disabling the weapons. A similar practice of sabotage is widespread among the privates’ ranks of the occupiers in order not to participate in combat clashes with Ukrainian soldiers.]”

Military Updates 

Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. July 25, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. July 25, 2022. Source: ISW.

Ukraine Army gains fire control over Russian forces’ logistics routes in Kherson region, Ukrinform reports. “The Ukrainian military has achieved fire control of the Russian invaders’ logistical routes in the Kherson region, which offers Ukraine an additional advantage on the battlefield. That’s according to Natalia Humeniuk, chief of the Joint Coordination Press Center of Ukraine’s Southern Defense Forces.

We have fire control over logistical routes and methods of movement, while they are now trying to conceal ammunition deliveries under the guise of humanitarian cargo – the practice we’ve been aware of from their actions in Donbas. But their capacities simply aren’t very large now and they have no opportunity to utilize the logistics routes that we control.

As Ukrinform reported earlier, the press office of Defense Forces in Ukraine’s south noted that the Armed Forces are advancing in the Kherson region, but the results of their offensive will be reported once they have secured regained ground.”

Ukraine says it has destroyed 50 Russian ammunition depots using HIMARS, Reuters reports. “Ukraine said on Monday its forces had used U.S-supplied HIMARS rocket systems to destroy 50 Russian ammunition depots since receiving the weapons last month.

In comments on national television, Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov underlined the growing impact that the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) is having as Ukraine tries to repel Russia’s invasion. This cuts their (Russian) logistical chains and takes away their ability to conduct active fighting and cover our armed forces with heavy shelling, Reznikov said.

Reznikov said Ukrainian artillery crews had conducted “precise” strikes on several bridges. He gave no details but was apparently referring to three river crossings in Russian-occupied Kherson region which local occupation authorities say were attacked by HIMARS over the past week.”

Invaders force public utility companies to repair Antonivskyi bridge, Ukrayinska Pravda reports, citing the Kherson Oblast State Administration. “The invaders are trying to patch up Antonivskyi bridge and the bridge near the Kakhovska hydroelectric power station, which were damaged by accurate strikes of the Ukrainian armed forces. Road specialists refused to repair the bridges, so the invaders forced ordinary employees of KPs (municipal enterprises – ed.) to do it.”

Russia’s command and observation post were destroyed in Kherson Region, Ukrinform reports. The Armed Forces of Ukraine have destroyed a command and observation post of Russia’s National Guard, which yesterday attempted to conduct counteroffensive operations in the Kherson direction. Russian forces attempted to launch a counteroffensive in two directions in Beryslav District but failed.

Kherson region: Ukrainian Armed Forces show destroyed a battery of Russian S-300 missile system, Ukrayinska Pravda reported, citing Operational Command South. “On the night of 23-24 July, Ukrainian missile and artillery units destroyed a battery of Russian S-300 air defence systems near Zelenotropynske (Kherson Oblast – ed.) during fire missions. Pivden Operational Command reports that this was a “response” to the aggressors’ night-time shelling in Mykolaiv.”

Russian soldiers who refuse to fight are being held captive in the Luhansk region — media, Ukrayinska Pravda reports, citing The Insider. “Investigative journalists report that professional Russian soldiers who refuse to continue to take part in the war with Ukraine are being held “in custody” in Russian-occupied areas of Luhansk Oblast and being forced to return to the front. One relative of the soldier currently being held in Brianka told The Insider that the number of refuseniks is considerable. The military command refuses to let them go home, fearing that the rest of the professional soldiers will follow their example.”

According to British Defence Intelligence, (last 48 hours): 

Situation in Ukraine. July 26 2022. British Intelligence. ~

Situation in Ukraine. July 26 2022. British Intelligence.

  • On 24 July 2022, Russian cruise missiles hit the dock-side in Ukraine’s Odesa Port. The Russian MoD claimed to have hit a Ukrainian warship and a stockpile of anti-ship missiles. There is no indication that such targets were at the location the missiles hit.
  • Russia almost certainly perceives anti-ship missiles as a key threat which is limiting the effectiveness of their Black Sea Fleet. This has significantly undermined the overall invasion plan, as Russia cannot realistically attempt an amphibious assault to seize Odesa.
  • Russia will continue to prioritise efforts to degrade and destroy Ukraine’s anti-ship capability. However, Russia’s targeting processes are highly likely routinely undermined by dated intelligence, poor planning, and a top-down approach to operations.
  • Inconclusive fighting continues in both the Donbas and Kherson sectors. Russian commanders continue to face a dilemma; whether to resource the offensive in the east or to bolster the defence in the west.
  • On 18 July 2022, intelligence identified a Russian military vehicle refit and refurbishment facility near Barvinok, in Russia’s Belgorod Oblast, 10km from the Ukrainian border. At least 300 damaged vehicles were present, including main battle tanks, armoured personnel carriers, and general support trucks.
  • In addition to its well-documented personnel problems, Russia likely continues to struggle to extract and repair the thousands of combat vehicles which have been damaged in action in Ukraine..

Losses of the Russian army 

As of Tuesday 26 July, the approximate losses of weapons and military equipment of the Russian Armed Forces from the beginning of the war to the present day:

  • Personnel – more than 39870 (+170),
  • Tanks – 1737 (+7),
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 3959 (+9),
  • Artillery systems – 880 (+4),
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 258 (+1),
  • Air defence means – 117 (+1),
  • Aircraft – 222 (+0),
  • Helicopters – 189 (+1),
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 2835 (+3),
  • Vessels/boats – 15 (+0),
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 722 (+3),
  • Special equipment – 75 (+2),
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0),
  • Cruise missiles – 174 (+0)

Russian enemy suffered the greatest losses (of the last day) in the Bakhmut direction.

Humanitarian 

The queue for evacuation: Five people die at the checkpoint in Vasylivka in a week, Ukrinform reports. ” Vasylivka is the only gate for residents of the temporarily occupied territories of Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, Donetsk, and Luhansk regions to the government-controlled territory. More than 1,200 cars are in a queue at the Russian checkpoint. Five thousand residents of the temporarily occupied territories try to leave. Five people died there in a week, Melitopol Mayor Ivan Fedorov posted on Telegram. Russians allow from 20 to 150 cars to drive through a checkpoint a day, but there are much more people willing to leave, so the queue grows every day.”

There will be no heating season in Sloviansk – Mayor, Ukrayinska Pravda reports, citing Novyny Donbasu. “Vadym Liakh, Head of the Sloviansk City Military Administration, believes that it will be impossible to start the heating season with the onset of cold weather because of the war. We understand that if the temperature falls below zero, the tank [with water] will freeze. The cistern, which we will drive up and leave overnight, will freeze. You may heat your apartment if there is electricity, but the sewage system will freeze. You have to think seriously here, about how to survive – specifically to survive – because there will actually be no heating season.

He stressed that the residents of Sloviansk should evacuate, as Russian troops would still attempt to seize the town. Liakh stated that about 22,000 people remain in Sloviansk, including 3,000 – 4,000 children.”

Russians kidnap 63 officials, about 300 activists in the Kherson region, Ukrinform reports. “Russian occupiers have kidnapped 63 representatives of local government agencies and about 300 activists in the Kherson region.

According to Dmytro Butrii, the acting head of the Kherson regional military administration, the number of abductees is actually much higher, because the Russian invaders intensified their terror against the civilian population. They check cars, personal belongings, phones, men are forced to undress, and if the Russian military does not like something (on the phone, tattoos, etc.), then “people are simply taken away.”

️️Environmental 

On grain export from Ukraine:

  • Resumption of Ukraine’s grain exports to begin from Chornomorsk port, UkrinformWithin the 24 hours, we will be ready to work on resuming exports of agricultural products from our ports. We are talking about the port of Chornomorsk – it will be the first. The next will be Odesa and then – the port of Pivdennyi, Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Infrastructure, Yuriy Vaskov said.

Vaskov noted that within two weeks, Ukraine would be technically ready to export agricultural products from all three ports. We hope that the first shipment will be made within this week, Vaskov added.”

  • Ship insurers seek more assurances on Ukraine grain corridor, Reuters reported two days before the agreement opening for grain export from Ukraine was signed on Friday. “Insurers will only be willing to cover ships sailing through a proposed corridor to get Ukrainian grain out if there are arrangements for international navy escorts and a clear strategy to deal with sea mines, underwriters and brokers said. Insurance for the ships would be possible “if a sensible solution were offered”, said Rory Colacicchi, a partner at insurance broker McGill and Partners. There would have to be escorts, mine sweepers, so an underwriter could say ‘that’s given us the satisfaction that it’s not just a gamble’. At the moment, that’s just a gamble, you wouldn’t be able to go.”
  • Ship insurers sail into unknown with Ukraine grain risks after deal reached, Reuters reported on Friday. “Securing shipping and insurance will be a crucial part of the process ahead. The LMA has placed Ukrainian waters on their high risk zone and any sailings need to get approval from underwriters, who are waiting for more detail on the specifics of how the agreement will work. The will is there for this humanitarian initiative, but underwriters cannot give any idea of the sort of cover or the prices until they know more, an insurance source familiar with the situation said.

Guy Platten, secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping, a global trade group, said it was ready to work with all parties. Ensuring crew safety will be crucial if we are to get this agreement moving quickly, Platten said. Questions remain over how ships will navigate heavily mined waters and how we can effectively crew the ships in the region to meet the suggested deadline.”

EU countries seek deal on weakened plan to cut winter gas use, Reuters reports. “European Union countries are set to approve a weakened emergency EU proposal to curb their gas demand on Tuesday, with opt-outs allowing them to follow different national paths to prepare for Russian supply cuts. With a dozen EU countries already facing reduced Russian supplies, Brussels has warned that a full cut-off is likely – and is urging countries to prepare by saving gas and storing it for winter.

The European Commission last week proposed emergency rules requiring each country to cut its gas use by 15% from August to March. The target would be voluntary, but the Commission could make it binding in a supply emergency. However, the plan has faced resistance from a range of governments and countries have redrafted it to include exemptions for numerous countries and industries. Energy ministers from EU countries meet on Tuesday to approve the final version. Member states have to make sure that their targets are feasible given their domestic situation, a senior EU diplomat said.

But others warned that the weakened rules risked countries failing to save enough gas for winter. While governments including Germany, Europe’s biggest gas user, have upped their energy saving measures, EU countries have reduced their combined gas use by just 5%, despite months of soaring prices and dwindling Russian supplies.”

Russia’s Gazprom tightens squeeze on gas flow to Europe, Reuters reports. “Russia tightened its gas squeeze on Europe on Monday as Gazprom said supplies through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany would drop to just 20% of capacity. Gazprom said flows would fall to 33 million cubic metres per day from 0400 GMT on Wednesday because it needed to halt the operation of a Siemens gas turbine at a compressor station on instructions from an industry watchdog.

Germany said it saw no technical reason for the latest reduction, which comes as Russia and the West exchange economic blows in response to what Moscow calls its special military operation in Ukraine. […] Politicians in Europe have said Russia could cut off gas flows this winter, which would thrust Germany into recession and lead to soaring prices for consumers already grappling with higher prices for food and energy.”

“Gazprom” increased the pressure on the Ukrainian gas pipeline without warning, Ukrayinska Pravda reports. “The Russian company “Gazprom” without warning increased the gas pressure on the main gas pipeline “Urengoi-Pomari-Uzhgorod” on the section of the state border of Ukraine with the Russian Federation. The Ukrainian operator informed “Gazprom” that the untimely submission of information may lead to emergency situations on the main gas pipeline.

Oil rises for a second day on supply tightness concerns, Reuters reports. “Oil prices rose on Tuesday for a second day on increasing concerns about tightening European supply after Russia, a key oil and natural gas supplier to the region, cut gas supply through a major pipeline. Russia’s cut in supplies will leave countries unable to meet its goals to refill natural gas storage ahead of the winter demand period. Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, faces potentially rationing gas to industry to keep its citizens warm during the winter months.

This could prompt end-users to swap their gas for oil products, particularly diesel. But this also carries risks since Russia supplies most of the region’s diesel fuel and prices for drivers who depend on the fuel are expected to rise.”

Legal

‘An abyss of fear’: A report accuses Russia of further abuses against civilians, The New York Times reports. “Russian forces have tortured and beaten civilians in the areas of southern Ukraine that they control, part of a series of abuses that may amount to war crimes, Human Rights Watch said this weekend in a report that further undermined the public case repeatedly made by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia for the invasion.

Atrocities committed by Russian forces north of Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, have already drawn global outrage and have been the subject of war crimes trials by Ukrainian prosecutors, but the report by Human Rights Watch, a New York-based nonprofit, casts a spotlight on the south of the country, where the Russian occupation forces tightly control access and information.

Russian forces have turned occupied areas of southern Ukraine into an abyss of fear and wild lawlessness, said Yulia Gorbunova, senior Ukraine researcher at Human Rights Watch. Torture, inhumane treatment, as well as arbitrary detention and unlawful confinement of civilians, are among the apparent war crimes we have documented. Ms. Gorbunova said that the Russian authorities should end such abuses immediately and understand that they would be held accountable.”

“It feels like you are going to die 100 times a day.” How I survived the Russian destruction of Mariupol

FM Kuleba: World should recognize Russia’s actions in Ukraine as genocide, Ukrinform reports, citing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. “The Russian leadership, officials, and public figures have long been laying the ideological basis for genocide. Among other things, he draws attention to last year’s article by Russian president Vladimir Putin “On the historical unity of Russians and Ukrainians” in which the leader of the aggressor country once again stated that Ukrainians and Russians are “one people”, and “modern Ukraine is a complete product of the Soviet era”, while “true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia”.

The minister emphasizes that the Russian leader has never hidden his intentions, thinking that the existence of Ukraine as a state is a mistake that needs to be corrected, and Ukrainians are, in fact, Russians, so they will either agree to be “one people” with the Russians or be subject to destruction

Also, Kuleba notes, direct public incitement to genocide is also contained in a number of articles of the Russian state media outlets, posts of high-ranking Russian officials on social networks, or in their statements on TV. Thus, on February 26, Ria Novosti Russian state news agency published an article saying that Ukraine would cease to exist as a result of Russia’s “military special operation”, and its author claimed that Putin had assumed “historical responsibility” by deciding “not to entrust ultimate solution for the Ukrainian issue to future generations.”

“During the following month, Russian military units stationed near Kyiv, particularly in Buch, committed terrible atrocities. On April 5, Deputy Head of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Dmitri Medvedev wrote on his Telegram channel: “…the essence of Ukrainianness, fueled by anti-Russian poison and lies about its identity, is a big fake…” In his frankly genocidal statement, Medvedev claims that Ukrainian identity does not exist and has never existed,” Kuleba noted.

In his opinion, all these articles, posts on social networks, and statements that appeared during the fighting in Ukraine incited Russian soldiers to commit crimes against Ukrainians only because they belong to the Ukrainian national group.

He points out that this is evidenced by the mass murders in the captured territories, in particular in Buch and other towns, where the executioners – the Russian military – conducted house searches according to FSB’s lists to find and execute the most active local Ukrainian figures, activists, volunteers, former military personnel, their relatives and friends. Putin subsequently responded to compelling evidence of mass genocidal atrocities committed by his army by rewarding the units involved in those massacres, being a direct indication that the crimes were not isolated incidents, Kuleba emphasizes.

The minister also draws attention to the fact that since the invasion, Russia, according to its own official statements, has taken at least 1.9 million people from Ukraine, including more than 307,000 children, by force or with threats of force and is now changings the legislation to speed up the adoption of children from Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine and ensure their further upbringing as members of the Russian national group, losing the Ukrainian identity. “These are clear acts of genocide in accordance with Article II(e) of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,” the foreign minister stresses.

Kuleba adds that over the centuries, Russian elites have cultivated notions of Russian superiority and exceptionalism, as well as chauvinism, false messianism, and toxic masculinity, which has led to a consistent policy of hatred towards other groups. Thus, inside the country, the regime persecutes Jehovah’s Witnesses, the LGBT community, and political dissidents and opposition figures. Outside the country, this overall policy of hatred and chauvinism has acquired a genocidal character with regard to Ukrainians as a national group.

“This led to a real encouragement to exterminate members of the Ukrainian national group in the course of armed aggression. Ukrainians are offered a choice: to give up their Ukrainian identity or to be annihilated,” the minister says.

Summing up, he concludes that the actions of the Russian Federation and its officials, armed forces, and mass media against Ukrainians are genocide, and the world cannot keep silent about it. Kuleba also notes that Ukraine, together with international partners, lawyers, and experts, gathers all the necessary evidence to hold Russia, the Russian leadership, and the military to account for their war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of aggression.”

358 children were killed, and 609 children injured, the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine reports as of July 26. 2,188 educational establishments are damaged as a result of shelling and bombings, 221 of them are destroyed fully. 25,165 crimes of aggression and war crimes and 11,980 crimes against national security were registered.

Ukraine says 18 medics killed, hundreds of facilities damaged since invasion, Reuters reports. “Ukraine’s health ministry said at least 18 medical personnel had been killed and nearly 900 medical facilities damaged or destroyed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which entered its sixth month on Sunday.”

Support 

First Stormer HVM air defense systems arrive in Ukraine, Ukrinform reports, citing a Operational Command South report. “The first six Stormer HVM [(High Velocity Missile)] air defense systems have arrived at the front in Ukraine. The British Stormer HVM air defense systems can ‘see’ enemy attack aircraft at a distance of up to 18 km.”

Three Gepard artillery units already in Ukraine – Defense Minister Reznikov, Ukrinform reports. “So far, I can say that the first three Gepards officially arrived from Germany today. These are anti-aircraft systems, for which several tens of thousands of rounds have also been shipped. Accordingly, we expect the first 15 Gepards. The first three arrived in Ukraine today, and they are already at the disposal of the Armed Forces, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, said.”

Poland delivers a batch of PT-91 Twardy tanks to Ukraine, Ukrinform reports. “The report initially voiced by Krzysztof Platek, the spokesman of the Armaments Agency of the Ministry of Defense of Poland, voiced on the “WoW – Wolski o Wojnie” YouTube channel, was confirmed on Monday by the Head of the Ukrainian President’s Office, Andriy Yermak, on Twitter.

The shortage of tanks that emerges in Poland after the transfer to Ukraine of more than 200 T-72 tanks and a certain number of PT-91 Twardy tanks, whose number I can’t name, will be fully compensated, even with a surplus, Platek said.

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1551668611239907329

Ukraine wants more ‘game-changer’ HIMARS. The US says it’s complicated, The Washington Post reports. “Since a recent HIMARS strike on an enemy ammunition depot in Izium, located southeast of Ukraine’s second-largest city Kharkiv, Russian shelling has been “10 times less” than before, said Bohdan Dmytruk, a battalion commander in Ukraine’s 93rd Mechanized Brigade. Yet the Biden administration has parceled out the rocket systems slowly, watching how the Ukrainians handle them — and how the Russians respond. To fighters on the ground, that makes little sense at a crucial moment in the war.

In his battalion alone, Dmytruk said, the number of killed and injured has fallen dramatically compared with when his soldiers moved to this part of the front line three months ago. “We have about one guy suffer a concussion every week now. Before the HIMARS hit, it was about two to three a day because of the intensity of the shelling.” Dmytruk and soldiers in the area attributed the drop-off in what was near-constant bombardment to the Russians’ need to conserve shells after the depot was destroyed, and their fear that firing their own artillery will alert the far more accurate and agile HIMARS to their positions.

“They have no idea where it is,” Dmytruk said of the wheeled launch vehicle and its four-man crew, which can fire and drive away at up to 60 miles per hour within two minutes. Already, he said, the Russians are likely adjusting to the new weapons by moving their supplies deeper into Russian-held territory beyond the 50-mile HIMAR range. […] “For an effective counteroffensive, we need at least 100,” with longer-range munition than what has been supplied, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said […].

There’s a window of opportunity that’s narrowing rather rapidly to change the trajectory of this war. But right now, I just don’t hear the urgency to do so,” said Alina Polyakova, president and chief executive of the Center for European Policy Analysis. She defined that window as within the next four to six months. US and allied incrementalism — the measured provision of more and better equipment after, instead of before, Russians have advanced in a particular battlespace — will make it ever-harder to dislodge established Russian facts on the ground, Polyakova and others said.

US administration and military officials have said that one of their top concerns is not provoking Russia into a direct conflict with NATO, even as Ukraine points out that Russia invaded their country without provocation. […]

The HIMARS have been so effective that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has ordered commanders to prioritize them for targeting. Moscow is hoping to use drones — likely bought from Iran, according to US officials — to find and destroy the HIMARS. […] The HIMARS can also fire a munition called the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) with a range of nearly 186 miles, nearly quadruple what they are now supplied with, but the Pentagon has withheld those out of concern the missiles might land in Russia itself.

The restriction has frustrated Ukrainian officials, who described it as paternalistic. In a battle now largely conducted with artillery at distances where troops of opposite sides rarely see each other, the longer-range missiles would also allow Ukrainian forces to move their HIMARS further back from the front lines, better insulating them from enemy detection. “The sooner we receive them, the more lives of our soldiers we will save, and the sooner we will start the counteroffensive operation,” Yehor Cherniev, a member of the Ukrainian parliament, said in a statement. “It is unfortunate that we have to spend weeks and months to convince our partners.”

In late May, as the decision to provide HIMARS was being made, President Biden told reporters that “we’re not going to send to Ukraine rocket systems that can strike into Russia.” […] The Americans have said they want to see how the Ukrainians use and absorb particular capabilities into their arsenal before they send more advanced weaponry, even if potential delays cost lives.

From Ukraine’s perspective, that decision process is “like in a computer game,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in an interview. “You have to unlock the next level, but before you do it, you usually die a couple of times. The problem with real life is that you can’t die multiple times before you get to the next level.”

Another potential US concern is the availability of the weapons themselves. There are likely between 1,000 and 3,000 ATACMS in US stocks, said Chris Dougherty, a senior defense fellow at the Center for a New American Security. They’re the oldest missiles in Army inventory, according to the service, and are periodically tested to ensure viability. The replacement munition, which can fire even further, is not yet in production.

The Defense Department said in 2020 that the United States had a supply of 410 HIMARS, but the Pentagon declined to produce a current figure. Stockpiles are “internal to DoD,” said spokesperson Jessica Maxwell.”

New Developments 

  1. Zelenskyy: We will be able to do what previous generations failed to do, Ukrayinska PravdaPreserving unity now, working together for victory is the most important national task, which we all will definitely fulfil. And therefore, we will be able to do what previous generations could not do. This applies to our defence in this war for independence, to our movement towards a united Europe, towards full membership in the EU, and to our ability to become one of the most modern states in the world. There is no one now who would doubt this. There are only those who argue about how to achieve this.”
  2. Lavrov plans to “save” Ukrainians from the “Zelenskyy regime”, Ukryinska Pravda reports, citing Meduza. “We feel sorry for the Ukrainian people, who deserve far better. We feel sorry for Ukrainian history, which is collapsing before our eyes, and we feel sorry for those who have succumbed to the state propaganda of the Kyiv regime which aims to make Ukraine an eternal enemy of Russia. The Russian and Ukrainian people will continue to live together. We will definitely help the Ukrainian people to get rid of a regime that is completely anti-people and anti-historical.”
  3. Moscow wants to negotiate “on a wider range of issues”, Ukrayinska Pravda reports, citing Interfax. “Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that Moscow is prepared to negotiate with Kyiv “on a wider range of issues”, but complained that the resumption of the negotiation process does not depend on the Russian side. The Ukrainian authorities, starting with the president and ending with his numerous, innumerable advisers, repeatedly say that there will be no talks until Ukraine defeats Russia on the battlefield.”
  4. President Zelensky has dismissed the Commander of the Special Operations, the Ukrainian General Staff The President has dismissed Hryhoriy Anatoliyovych HALAGHAN from the post of Commander of the Special Operations Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Viktor Oleksandrovych KHORENKA has been appointed as the new commander.

Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of 25 July, 2022:

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of Monday 25 July:

(quote) Russian forces made marginal territorial gains south of Bakhmut on July 25 but are largely suffering from the same fundamental limitations that previously prevented them from rapidly gaining substantial ground during offensive operations in Luhansk Oblast. Geolocated social media footage from July 25 shows that troops of the Wagner Group Private Military Company (PMC) have advanced into Novoluhanske and Russian and Ukrainian sources noted that Russian forces are taking control of the territory of the Vuhledar Power Plant on the northern edge of Novoluhanske, likely as a result of a controlled Ukrainian withdrawal from the area.

Russian Telegram channels began reporting on Russian attempts to advance on Novoluhanske as early as May 25, which means that Russian troops have been unsuccessfully attacking this single location for two months. Novoluhanske is neither a large settlement nor is it characterized by particularly challenging terrain, yet Russian forces have impaled themselves on it for weeks.

The capture of Novoluhanske and the Vuhledar Power Plant will not generate an advantageous salient along which Russian troops will be able to advance northwards towards Bakhmut. The Russian campaign to seize the Sievierodonetsk-Lysychansk area benefitted from the fact that they had already created a salient with those two cities near its apex. They were able continually to press on the flanks of Ukrainian defensive positions until they had secured Sievierodonetsk.  They struggled after that to take advantage of the fact that Lysychansk remained at the apex of a salient until they managed to break out from Popasna to the south and drive northward.  Siversk is currently the town closest to the apex of the remaining salient, and Russian forces have struggled to advance against it. The Russian seizure of Novoluhanske and the Vuhledar Power Plant, on the other hand, flattens the Ukrainian defensive line rather than perpetuating a salient, thereby limiting the advantage the occupation of those areas gives to the Russian forces.

The operations around Novoluhanske indicate that Russian forces are suffering the same limitations in terms of their ability to effectively use battlefield geometry (such as the creation of effective salients) to their advantage, which is exacerbated by the extreme difficulty Russian forces regularly have capturing small and relatively insignificant bits of terrain over weeks or months of fighting. These limitations will grow as Russian units continually degrade themselves during assaults on small villages. Russian forces are unlikely to be able to effectively leverage the capture of Novoluhanske to take Bakhmut, and the continual tactical and operational limitations they are facing on the battlefield will likely contribute to the culmination of the offensive in Donbas before capturing Bakhmut, Sloviansk, or any other major city in Donetsk Oblast.

Key Takeaways

  • Russian forces made marginal gains south of Bakhmut but are unlikely to be able to effectively leverage these advances to take full control of Bakhmut itself.
  • Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks north of Kharkiv City, east of Siversk, and east of Bakhmut.
  • Russian forces are continuing to fortify and strengthen positions in Zaporizhzhia and Kherson Oblasts in anticipation of Ukrainian counteroffensives.
  • Ukrainian forces are continuing to strike Russian strongholds along the Southern Axis.
  • Russian forces continued to withdraw military equipment from storage in Omsk and face challenges with repairing damaged combat vehicles.
  • Russian occupation officials are continuing to set conditions for the annexation of occupied territories to the Russian Federation and to extend administrative control of occupied areas of Ukraine.“ (unquote)

Ukrainian IT Army blocks over 750 Russian online platforms in past two weeks, Ukrinform reports, citing the press service of the Ministry of Digital Transformation. “July 11 through July 24, the Ukrainian IT Army disabled more than 750 Russian online resources, including those of the Russian Foreign Ministry, various military agencies, and others.”

2. Consequences and what to do? 

The global food crisis demands an urgent Western response, William Rhodes and Stuart Mackintosh argue in a commentary in Reuters. “Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine shocked the world, forced Western countries to respond, and is driving up the cost of energy and food across the globe. High prices in the United States may spell electoral disaster for President Joe Biden’s administration in November’s congressional elections. However, the most urgent economic, social, and human crises are unfolding in poorer countries where populations face war, spillover-driven inflation, and more expensive foreign-currency debt.

Together these dynamics put populations in Asia, Africa, and some parts of Latin America and the Caribbean at risk of shortages, riots, unrest, and famine. The conflict in Ukraine is directly affecting supplies of food. News of a deal between Russia and Ukraine to allow grain exports is welcome. However, many minefields must be cleared and the deal be made to work in a time of war. We cannot yet assume trade routes will fully reopen. Russia and Ukraine together account for nearly a third of global wheat supplies, so any stoppage or constriction in trade affects access to basic foodstuffs for many.

Wheat prices are up while sunflower oil, meat, poultry, and a raft of other staples have also jumped in price, driven by higher fuel and fertilizer costs. The United Nations’ Food Price Index, which captures the effects of war and supply disruptions, recently reached an all-time high of 156, up from 103 in 2020.

The alarming economic and political crisis in Sri Lanka shows what may occur elsewhere. Long-standing poor governance and corruption in the South Asian country has combined with economic crises, price hikes, and fuel and food shortages to snap the threads of economic and societal stability. The result is unrest, riots, and a collapse of the government.

Sri Lanka is unlikely to be the last country to face economic and governmental strife. Other poorly run, indebted, and stressed states – and their populations – could be weeks or months from similar turmoil. […]

As the rich in the West grumble, governments in poorer states are reacting by placing restrictions on food exportsaccording to World Bank President David Malpass. He rightly notes that while inflation is bad for all, the poorest were already spending at least half of their income on food. They have extraordinarily little room to absorb price increases before they go hungry and their children face malnutrition.

Oxfam estimates as many as 323 million people are on the brink of starvation; the United Nations reckons 869 million are facing hunger. Unfortunately, the leaders of the world’s wealthy states are so far doing too little to avert the developing food emergency. In June the G7 group of nations, led by the United States, pledged $4.5 billion to help address the looming food shortage. But this is not enough to avoid disaster. […]

The food crisis requires rapid action and resources of at least $22 billion, according to the U.N. World Food Programme. Delay will only increase the human, economic, and societal costs. […]

In sum, national political and financial leaders still must work to ensure we avoid a food price crisis, famine, and human catastrophe. Recent history suggests politicians often lack the will to act, even though they know what is needed and that the upfront financial costs are manageable. We hope we are wrong in this case. We fear we are not.”

Hans Petter Midttun: I have long argued that Western humanitarian intervention in Ukraine is inevitable. Despite the US and NATO’s continued declarations that they will not deploy military forces to help defend Ukraine, it is bound to happen. Why? Because the alternative is worse.

Unless forcibly evicted, Russia is not about to withdraw from Ukraine. It started a war 8,5 years ago to defeat Ukraine as a part of its broader confrontation with the West. It has waged a hybrid war against the USA and Europe for years already, trying to undermine the unity of both the EU and NATO to ensure its rise to “great power” status.

The full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February was a strategic blunder first of all because it spiralled the West into action after 8 years of inaction. The international community finally realised the extent of the Russian menace. As a result, the war in Ukraine has turned into a “now-or-never” moment for the Russian Federation: Either it succeeds, or its great power ambitions are “forever” lost.

The West might, however, find itself in a similar predicament exactly because of the repercussions of the broader confrontation.

We have failed to respond to Russian transgressions of international law for more than 14 years for the fear of direct military confrontation between NATO and  Russia. That is the opposite of deterrence.

NATO deterrence is not decided in Brussels or Washington, but Moscow and Bejing. If our strategic opponents do not believe in the Alliance’s will and ability to act – irrespectively of the assessment being right or wrong – deterrence has failed the moment they act in a manner that undermines our collective security. Russia’s war in Ukraine is such an event. Its hybrid war against NATO and EU member states is yet another. Its multiple cyber-attacks, meddling in referendums and elections, information operations, and more, do not bear the signs of a country being deterred by NATO. Its economic warfare, including the weaponizing of energy and food, is yet one more example.

Presently, an alliance of 30 countries is being deterred by one country (with a GDP the size of Canada or Spain) because it is a nuclear power. NATO is faced with a choice: Either it stops and defeats Russia in Ukraine, or it forever accepts the consequences of its nuclear “fait accompli” strategy. Failure to act is a signal that the Alliance will continue to take a step backwards every time a nuclear power takes on step forward (into the territory of another country). The idea that we might act differently if a NATO member state is subject to Russian aggression has little credibility. Firstly, credibility itself is the essence of deterrence, and we have failed to uphold it. NATO’s new Strategic Concept 2022 is in fact, a commitment to do less. Secondly, the nuclear dilemma the Alliance is facing over Ukraine will not be easier if a NATO member is attacked. Thirdly, a failure to act today will further embolden Russia and thereby, increase the likelihood of yet another Russian miscalculation and a future military confrontation.

As repeatedly stressed, the “tsunami of ripple effects” will foster unrest, riots, and a collapse of governments. President Biden, Chancellor Scholz, President Macron, Prime Minister Støre, Frederiksen, Rutte, Sánchez, Costa, Trudeau, and more, will likely be held responsible for the increasing costs of living and the lack of energy and food security, having failed to act resolutely when challenged. While Russia bears full responsibility for the war, NATO’s failure to intervene in Ukraine has enabled a Russian protracted war with escalating global consequences.

Having failed to avert the global consequences of the war, the West also risks losing its global economic, diplomatic and military influence. Europe is facing a recession. Just as importantly, the prime guarantor of international law is seen to be failing to defend its core values and principles. At a time when global democracy has reached a new low when more than a third of the world’s population lives under authoritarian rule and just 6.4% enjoy full democracy, Western courage and moral obligations are seen to falter.

The world is watching a nuclear power deterring what was seen as the greatest military alliance in history. It serves as a lesson for more to follow.

“Only the lost is forever owned”. The West – the USA, NATO and the EU – is in principle faced with a similar “now-or-never” moment as Russia. We either succeed in Ukraine or accept losing global influence. If we are unable to stop a war in our own “backyard” and its consequential “tsunami of ripple effects” NATO will no longer be seen as a global military power. I fear that the potential consequences – unrest, riots, and the possible collapse of governments – might help accelerate our demise.

All of this, however, can be countered. Western humanitarian intervention in Ukraine is, therefore, inevitable.

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