Russo Ukrainian War. Day 195: Zaporizhzhia NPP last line to Ukrainian energy system cut off

 

Daily review

The last line connecting ZNPP to the energy system of Ukraine cut off. Kremlin starts direct blackmailing the West and lays down conditions for flowing gas in “Nord Stream.” Germany keeps two nuclear reactors on standby to weather the gas crisis. Putin approves new foreign policy doctrine based on ‘Russian World’. The US says Russia is buying artillery ammunition from N.Korea. The International Committee of the Red Cross cannot guarantee the safety of Ukrainian prisoners of war.  In Brussels, Ukraine seeks backing for a special war crimes tribunal.

Situation in Ukraine. September 5, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Situation in Ukraine. September 5, 2022. Source: ISW.

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

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“Russian forces continue to focus their efforts on establishing full control over the territory of the Donetsk oblast, maintaining the temporarily captured districts of the Kherson, part of the Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, and Mykolaiv oblast.

There is still a threat of massive air and missile strikes on military and civilian infrastructure throughout the territory of Ukraine.

In the Black Sea, the carriers of Russian Kalibr sea-based cruise missiles are still in readiness for use.

In total, over the past day, Russian forces launched 3 missiles and more than 35 airstrikes and carried out about 50 attacks from MLRS. The Russian occupiers began the night of September 5 to 6 with insidious rocket attacks on civilian objects in the cities of Bakhmut and Kostyantynivka.

Donetsk. September 5, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Donetsk. September 5, 2022. Source: ISW.

Russian forces carried out airstrikes on the areas of Bayrak and Asiivka settlements of the Kharkiv oblast; Pryshyb, Vremivka, Velyka Novosilka, Novomykhailivka, Novopil of Donetsk oblast, Poltavka and Olgivske of Zaporizhzhia oblast, Bila Krynytsia, Bilohirka and Kostromka of Kherson oblast and Velyka Artakove, Ternivka and Lyubomirivka of Mykolaiv oblast.

The situation in the Volyn and Polissya directions has not changed significantly.

In other directions, Russian forces, using available means of fire damage, continued shelling military and civilian infrastructure, namely:

  • in the Siversky direction, the areas of Hrinivka settlements of Chernihiv oblast and Nova Huta, Sopych and Myropillia of Sumy oblast were shelled.
  • in the Kharkiv direction – Udy, Sosnivka, Svitlychne, Zolochiv, Prudyanka, Velyki Prohody, Nove, Pytomnyk, Ruska Lozova, Ruski Tyshky, Petrivka, Kostyantynivka, Pryshyb, Husarivka and Chepil;
  • in the Sloviansk direction – Virnopillya, Brazhkivka, Ridne, Dolyna, Krasnopillya, Dmytrivka, Bohorodychne, Donetske and Sloviansk;
  • in the Kramatorsk direction – Kryva Luka, Siversk, Verkhnokamianske, Ivano-Daryivka and Spirne;
  • in the Bakhmut direction – Rozdolivka, Bilohorivka, Yakovlivka, Soledar, Bakhmutske, Bakhmut, Hryhorivka, Vesela Dolyna, Odradivka, Zaitseve, New York, Yuryivka, Opytne, Vesele and Mayorsk;
  • in the Avdiivka direction – Avdiivka, Opytne, Pervomaiske and Maryinka;
  • in the Novopavlivskyi direction – Vremivka, Velyka Novosilka, Neskuchne, Shakhtarske, Novomykhailivka, Zolota Nyva, Prechystivka, Vuhledar, Pavlivka, Kostyantynivka;
  • in the Zaporizhzhia direction – Zelene Pole, Vremivka, Olhivske, Poltavka, Zaliznychne, Chervone, Hulyaipilske, Dorozhnianka, Novodanilivka and Bilohirya.
  • In the In the Pivdenny Buh direction, – Mykolayiv, Novohryhorivka, Yakovlivka, Partyzanske, Kvitneve, Kiselivka, Shevchenko, Ternovi Pody, Pravdyne, Lyubomirivka, Stepova Dolyna, Tavriyske, Myrne, Stepove, Novooleksandrivka, Pervomaiske, Kobzartsi, Petrivka, Zarichne, Ivanivka, Tokareve, Olgyne and Shyroke.

Russian forces continue to commit illegal actions and place personnel and military equipment in kindergartens (Verkhniy Rohachyk), temples of the Moscow Patriarchate (Chervony Mayak) in the Kherson oblast, and also uses the Holy Trinity Church in Mala Komyshuvaha, Kharkiv oblast, as a field hospital. [Russian occupiers turned off the Kakhovskaya HPP, which caused the blackout of part of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts.]

The defence forces continue to conduct a defensive operation, maintain defined boundaries and prevent Russian forces from advancing deep into the territory of Ukraine.

Our defenders successfully repelled enemy offensive attempts in the areas of Soledar, Zaitseve, Shakhta Butivka, and Spartak. [Yesterday, they repelled enemy offensive attempts in the areas of the settlements of Bilohorivka, Hryhorivka, Pokrovske, Bakhmutske, Lozove, Spartak, Soledar, Zaitseve and Semihirya, and in the Kramatorsk direction they had tactical success and knocked Russian forces out of the positions he had previously occupied.]

The Air Force Group of the Armed Forces of Ukraine continues to repulse missile and air strikes of Russian forces, and effectively covers critical objects on the territory of Ukraine. Air defence forces shot down a guided cruise missile over the Mykolaiv oblast.

During the past day, in order to support the actions of the land groups, the Ukrainian Air Force carried out more than 30 strikes aimed at destroying the manpower, combat and special equipment, as well as other military objects of Russian forces.

Missile troops and artillery continue to carry out counter-battery tasks, disrupting the command system, logistical support, destruction of anti-aircraft defences, firepower and the enemy manpower.

As a result of the coordinated work of aviation and artillery, several platoon strongholds, about 5 positions of anti-aircraft missile systems and an enemy artillery battery were hit. The losses of Russian forces are specified.

Kharkiv. September 5, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Kharkiv. September 5, 2022. Source: ISW.

[According to updated data, enemy losses have been confirmed. As a result of a successful fire attack in the area of ​​Kupyansk settlement in the Kharkiv region, the occupiers lost more than 100 servicemen killed and wounded, two combat vehicles were destroyed. In the city of Kherson, more than 30 servicemen and 3 enemy tanks were hit; and an anti-aircraft missile complex and six enemy trucks were destroyed in the area of ​​the Antoniv bridge and crossing.]

Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. September 5, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. September 5, 2022. Source: ISW.

[The successful actions of the Defense Forces led to the disabling of crossings in the Kherson area and once again nullified the aggressor’s attempts to resume the transfer of troops across the Dnipro River.]

[According to available information, the command of the military units of the 1st army corps of the Russian occupying forces is taking measures to forcibly transfer the personnel of conscript service to a contract, which makes it impossible for them to be released from military service within three years. In addition, one-time payments for signing such contracts do not apply to this category, which significantly reduces the morale and psychological state of personnel.]”

Military Updates 

Armed Forces of Ukraine destroy invaders’ warehouse containing S-300 missiles used for attacking Kharkiv, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Ukrainian defenders have destroyed a Russian warehouse from which the invaders took S-300 missile systems to attack Kharkiv.

And today I especially want to thank the warriors of one of our rocket artillery brigades, who with their accurate fire destroyed the very Russian depot from which the occupiers took S-300 missiles to bomb Kharkiv.”

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1566836412158283783

 

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

Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 195: Zaporizhzhia NPP last line to Ukrainian energy system cut off ~~

  • Ukraine’s offensive operations in the Kherson region continued over the weekend. On 05 September 2022, the Odesa Journal reported 27 sorties by Russian uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) on the west bank of the Dnipro, compared to an average of 50 a day throughout August. On 21 August 2022, Ukrainian forces reported shooting down three Russian Orlan-10 tactical UAVs in a single day.
  • In recent years, Russian doctrine has given an increasingly prominent role for UAVs, particularly to spot targets for its artillery to strike. UAVs can be vulnerable to both kinetic effects – where they are directly shot down – and to electronic jamming.
  • In the face of combat losses, it is likely that Russia is struggling to maintain stocks of UAVs, exacerbated by component shortages resulting from international sanctions. The limited availability of reconnaissance UAVs is likely degrading commanders’ tactical situational awareness and increasingly hampering Russian operations.
  • Despite its effects to contain recent Ukrainian offensive action, Russia’s main effort in Ukraine almost certainly remain its Donbas offensive operation. Its principal axes of advance in the Donbas remain at Avdiivka near Donetsk City and, 60km to the north, around Bakhmut. Although Russia has had the most success in this sector, its forces have still only been advancing around 1km per week towards Bakhmut.
  • The political goal of the Donbas operation almost certainly remains to secure the whole of Donetsk Oblast, which would enable the Kremlin to announce the ‘liberation’ of the Donbas. Russian forces have highly likely repeatedly missed deadlines to achieve this aim.
  • The Ukrainian authorities have claimed that Russian forces are now under orders to complete this mission by 15 September 2022. The force is highly unlikely to achieve this, which will further complicate Russia’s plans to run referendums on the occupied areas joining the Russian Federation.

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1566869882347462656

Losses of the Russian army 

As of Tuesday 6 September, 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 50150 (+350),
  • Tanks – 2077 (+9),
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 4484 (+25),
  • Artillery systems – 1179 (+22),
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 296 (+2),
  • Air defence means – 156 (+0),
  • Aircraft – 236 (+0),
  • Helicopters – 207 (+1),
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 3305 (+19),
  • Vessels/boats – 15 (+0),
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 876 (+9),
  • Special equipment – 109 (+2),
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0),
  • Cruise missiles – 209 (+4)

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

The US says Russia is buying artillery ammunition from N.Korea, Reuters reports. “US intelligence has assessed that Moscow is buying millions of artillery shells and rockets from North Korea, the New York Times reported, on the heels of reports that the Russian military has begun using Iranian-made drones. US officials said they could confirm that the New York Times reporting was accurate and that additional Russian purchases of North Korean military equipment were expected.

The Russian Ministry of Defense is in the process of purchasing millions of rockets and artillery shells from North Korea for use on the battlefield in Ukraine,” an official said by email when asked about the paper’s report. The official said the purchases indicated that the Russian military “continues to suffer from severe supply shortages in Ukraine, due in part to export controls and sanctions.”

We expect Russia could try to purchase additional North Korean military equipment going forward, said the official, who did not want to be identified by name. The Times quoted US government officials as saying that the purchases showed US-led sanctions had begun to bite and reduce Russia’s ability to sustain its invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow has called a “special military operation”.

The paper’s report on Monday said the recently declassified intelligence provided no details about what was purchased, beyond saying that the items included artillery shells and rockets.”

Humanitarian 

The International Committee of the Red Cross cannot guarantee the safety of Ukrainian prisoners of war – General Director Mardini, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “The International Committee of the Red Cross explained the reasons why they cannot guarantee the safety of Ukrainian prisoners of war, in particular regarding the defenders of Azovstal in Olenivka. According to Mardini, the organisation registered an estimated 1,800 combatants who left Azovstal – as was agreed upon by both sides.

We registered them with the understanding that we would be able to visit them. But we could not… The ICRC is unable to guarantee the safety of Ukrainian prisoners of war. We neither have an army nor weapons. said Robert Mardini.

According to Mardini, the safety of prisoners of war is the responsibility of those holding them. “Of course, we are devastated to know that prisoners of war are dying in a detention facility, suffering and dying from a lack of medical care, or because of shelling or attack. This is unacceptable. However, we cannot guarantee their safety because we are not there. This is the responsibility of the parties in accordance with the conventions they adopted, signed and ratified,” says the general director of the ICRC.

The Ukrainians hoped that the safety of the POWs would be guaranteed by the International Committee of the Red Cross, but the Russians staged a terrorist attack in Olenivka and failed to provide lists of Ukrainian PoWs killed.

International organisations are not allowed to visit the prisoners – representatives of the ICRC were given the limited opportunity to examine only a few hundred POWs “on both sides”. Russia has violated and continues to violate  numerous regulations agreed upon and clearly stipulated by the Geneva Convention. So far, ICRC representatives have not yet been allowed to visit Olenivka.

At the same time, General Director Mardini guaranteed that they are doing everything possible in their correspondence with the Russian Federation to have access to the POWs.”

OHCHR recorded 1,162 civilian casualties in Ukraine between 1 – 30 August. 294 were killed (including 9 children) and 868 injured (including 54 children).

Environmental 

The last line connecting ZNPP to the energy system of Ukraine cut off, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Energoatom. “Today, 5 September 2022, as a result of the fire that occurred due to shelling, the 330 kW ZTPP-Ferro-alloy power line was disconnected, that is, the last line that connected the ZNPP/ZTPP node with the energy system of Ukraine. As a result, the 6th power unit was unloaded and disconnected from the grid, which currently supplies the ZNPP’s own needs.”

Energoatom notes that over the past three days, Russian occupying forces have been fiercely shelling the area around the ZNPP. This is the second time in history that the ZNPP has been shut down. The first time was on 25 August.”

ZNPP one step away from radiation disaster due to Russian provocation – Zelensky, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Due to another Russian provocative attack, the last power transmission line connecting the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) with the Ukrainian energy system has been damaged. Again, this is the second time that the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) was one step away from a radiation disaster due to a Russian provocation.

I think the fact that Russia is doing this right now, before the IAEA’s conclusions [are released], is very eloquent. The shelling of the territory of the nuclear power plant means that the terrorist state does not care what the IAEA will say, they do not care what the international community will decide.

Russia is only interested in the situation remaining as dangerous as possible for as long as possible. This can be changed only by strengthening sanctions, only by officially recognising Russia as a terrorist state on all levels.”

Scientists release new forecast for the spread of radiation in event of accident at Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Ukrainian Hydrometeorological Center. “In the event of an accident at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP), radioactive contamination would primarily affect the south of Ukraine, including Crimea, and then move on to Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Moldova and Romania.

Scientists also modelled similar accidents at the South Ukrainian Nuclear Power Plant, Rivne  Nuclear Power Plant, and Khmelnytskyi Nuclear Power Plant. It is noted that the radiation background in the ZNPP observation zone within the period from 4 August to 5 September 2022 remained stable.”

Germany keeps two nuclear reactors on standby to weather the gas crisis, Reuters reports. “Germany plans to keep two of its three remaining nuclear power stations on standby, beyond a year-end deadline to ditch the fuel, to ensure enough electricity supply through the winter during a gas crunch. German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said in a statement on Monday the move did not mean Berlin was reneging on its long-standing promise to exit nuclear energy by the end of 2022.

Habeck said a stress test by power grid operators had shown there could be hours of crisis in electricity supply over the winter given tightness in the European energy market. It remains very improbable that we will have crisis situations and extreme scenarios, Habeck said. I have to do everything necessary to fully guarantee security of provision.

Legal 

Ukraine’s Prime Minister reveals the cost of damage directly caused by Russian aggression, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Ukraine has verified US$326 billion worth of damage directly caused by Russia’s aggression. Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said this in a statement following the 8th meeting of the EU-Ukraine Association Council, Interfax-Ukraine reports.

“Together with the World Bank, the Ministry for Communities and Territories Development has verified damage caused by Russia worth US$326 billion. That is, direct damage which has already been verified as of today, physical damage,” Shmyhal explained.

According to Shmyhal, US$105 billion of this amount is the verified amount that is required to rebuild various facilities. US$17 billion is needed for rapid recovery, US$3.4 billion of which Ukraine will receive this year, and the rest in 2023.”

In Brussels, Ukraine seeks backing for a special war crimes tribunal, Reuters reports. “Ukraine’s government on Monday sought political backing in Brussels for the creation of a special tribunal to prosecute Russian military and political leaders it holds responsible for starting the war. Several Ukrainian leaders attending a conference on war crimes accountability in the European capital argued for a court dedicated to prosecuting high-level Russian perpetrators, in addition to the International Criminal Court.

The Hague-based ICC launched its own investigation into alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes days after Moscow’s Feb. 24 invasion, but it does not have jurisdiction to prosecute aggression in Ukraine. “Ukraine has been working (…) for the creation of an international special tribunal which will try all the top leaders of the Russian Federation for the military aggression against our state,” said Andriy Yermak, head of Cabinet for Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky.”

Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 195: Zaporizhzhia NPP last line to Ukrainian energy system cut off ~~

382 children were killed, 741 children injured, 7,343 deported by foe forces, and 236 reported missing – the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine reports as of September 6. 2,328 educational establishments are damaged as a result of shelling and bombings, 289 of them are destroyed fully. 32,093 crimes of aggression and war crimes and 14,932 crimes against national security were registered.

Support 

New Developments 

  1. Putin approves new foreign policy doctrine based on ‘Russian World’, Reuters reports. “While presented as a kind of soft power strategy, it enshrines in official policy ideas around Russian politics and religion that some hardliners have used to justify Moscow’s occupation of parts of Ukraine and support for breakaway pro-Russian entities in the east of the country.”
  2. Kremlin Starts Direct Blackmailing the West and Lays Down Conditions for Flowing Gas in “Nord Stream”, European Pravda reports, citing Interfax. “Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the gas flow via the Nord Stream would remain problematic until Western sanctions are dropped. Pumping problems arose because of sanctions imposed against our country and several companies by Western states, including Germany and the UK. There are no other reasons that would lead to problems with pumping,”
  3. Russia should not be branded a terrorism sponsor, Biden says, ReutersUS President Joe Biden on Monday said Russia should not be designated a state sponsor of terrorism, a label Ukraine has pushed for amid Russia’s ongoing invasion while Moscow has warned it would rupture US-Russian ties.”
  4. Ukraine expects to proceed to EU accession negotiations in a few months, which is the next step in joining the EU, European PravdaThe association agreement is fulfilled almost by 65%. We are very actively moving towards its implementation. Other procedures cannot replace the agreement. We must fulfil all the requirements. Meanwhile, we have to fulfil the seven requirements set by granting Ukraine candidate status,” Ukrainian Prime Minister Dmytro Shmyhal said.”
  5. The world is once again on the verge of an atomic catastrophe, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the Minister of Energy of Ukraine, Herman Halushchenko “The world is once again on the verge of an atomic catastrophe, and the only way to ensure nuclear security is to de-occupy the nuclear power plant and create a demilitarised zone around it. As soon as the main part of the IAEA mission left the ZNPP, the station was once again cut off.”
  6. Zelenskyy and Macron’s conversation takes more than an hour and a half; war, IAEA and ZNPP were discussed, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Zelenskyy on Twitter. “Presidents of Ukraine and France Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Emmanuel Macron have held negotiations that took more than 1.5 hours. They talked about the war in Ukraine, and the visit of the IAEA mission to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP).”
  7. Court shuts down Novaya Gazeta, one of Russia’s last independent media, ReutersNovaya Gazeta, one of Russia’s few remaining independent news outlets, was stripped of its media licence on Monday, and in effect banned from operating. In a statement, Novaya Gazeta said the decision by Moscow’s Basmanny District Court, which often handles politically charged cases, had “killed the newspaper, stolen 30 years of life from its workers, and deprived readers of the right to information”. The United Nations Human Rights office called the judgment “yet another blow to the independence of Russian media”, and urged Moscow to protect press freedom.”

Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of Monday 5 September:

The Ukrainian counteroffensive is tangibly degrading Russian logistics and administrative capabilities in occupied southern Ukraine. As ISW has previously reported, Ukrainian officials explicitly confirmed that Ukrainian troops seek to attrit Russian logistical capabilities in the south through precision strikes on manpower and equipment concentrations, command centers, and logistics nodes. These counteroffensive actions also have intentional radiating effects on Russian occupation authorities. The head of the Kherson Oblast occupation regime, Kirill Stremousov, told Russian media outlet TASS that his administration has paused annexation referendum plans in Kherson Oblast due to “security” concerns. The Ukrainian Resistance Center similarly reported that Russian occupation authorities are abandoning plans for referenda due to the ongoing counteroffensive. Shortly after TASS published his comment, Stremousov posted on Telegram denying he called for a pause because his administration had never set an official date for the referendum. Both of Stremousov’s statements indicate a high level of disorganization within occupation regimes that is likely being exacerbated by the effects of the counteroffensive. Ukrainian forces intend to slowly chip away at both Russian tactical and operational level capabilities in Kherson Oblast, and in doing so will likely have significant impacts on the administrative and bureaucratic capabilities of occupation officials. 

Ukrainian military officials maintained their operational silence and did not release any information pertaining to Ukrainian advances in Kherson Oblast on September 5. Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command reported that Ukrainian forces shot down two Russian reconnaissance drones in Vysokopillya after previously not confirming that Ukrainian forces entered the town. ISW independently assessed that Ukrainian forces captured the town on September 4 due to several social media videos. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces launched airstrikes on Bezimenne and Sukhyi Stavok, approximately six and ten kilometers southeast of the Ukrainian bridgehead over the Inhulets River. Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces recaptured Kostromka (the village in between Bezimenne and Sukhyi Stavok), but geolocated footage depicted Ukrainian tanks attacking Russian positions around the settlement. Combined with the geolocated footage, the Ukrainian General Staff report may indicate that Ukrainian forces advanced in the Kostromka and Bezimenne areas. The Ukrainian General Staff also reported that Russian forces shelled the area of Novovoskresenske (about 18km southeast of Vysokopillya) but it is unclear if Ukrainian forces have advanced in the vicinity of the settlement.

Ukrainian forces continued to target Russian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) and ammunition depots in Central Kherson Oblast. Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command noted that Ukrainian forces destroyed a Russian pontoon crossing in Lvove (west of Nova Kakhovka), struck the command post of the 35th Combined Arms Army in the Kakhovka Raion, and two observation posts belonging to battalion tactical groups (BTGs) of the 247th Guards Air Assault Regiment in Mykolaiv Raion and the 126th Separate Coastal Defense Brigade in Beryslav Raion. Ukraine‘s Southern Operational Command added that Ukrainian forces struck a pontoon crossing in the area of the Kakhovka Bridge on September 5. Ukrainian strikes also reportedly destroyed a Russian ammunition depot in Tomyna Balka (about 19km west of Kherson City), indicating Ukrainian forces are not operating in the settlement. CNN previously reported that Ukrainian forces liberated the settlement on August 29. Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command added that Ukrainian missile units destroyed two ammunition depots in Khersonskyi Raion. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian strikes eliminated 30 Russian servicemen and three tanks in the area of the Antonivsky Bridge, and an anti-aircraft missile system with six trucks near an unspecified crossing. Geolocated footage showed Russian military convoys waiting to cross the Dnipro River from the left bank, and the Russian convoys remain vulnerable to Ukrainian strikes. The Ukrainian General Staff added that Russian forces are prohibiting and threatening locals from crossing the Dnipro River.

Social media footage from September 4 and September 5 also supports Ukrainian military reports that Ukrainian forces are continuing their missile campaign throughout central Kherson Oblast. Ukrainian Telegram channels reported smoke around the Darivka Bridge over the Inhulets River, which is likely the result of another round of Ukrainian strikes on the GLOC east of Kherson City. Ukrainian social media users also reported witnessing explosions in the industrial area of Tavriisk (east of Nova Kakhovka) and in Kherson City. Kherson City residents also noted that unspecified actors fired signal flares in the city on September 4.

Russian forces are continuing to undertake measures to establish river crossings and maintain their GLOCs to northern Kherson Oblast. Head of the Kherson Oblast occupation regime, Kirill Stremousov published a video rant depicting a pontoon crossing constructed out of barges in the background along the Antonivsky Road Bridge. The footage showed that the pontoon bridge is halfway finished from the Kherson City direction. Satellite imagery from September 4 also showed three Russian pontoons and ferries operating west of Nova Kakhovka.

Some milbloggers continued to express criticism towards Russian defenses around Inhulets River, with one milblogger claiming that Russian SPETSNAZ requested artillery support for hours before Ukrainian forces were able to break through Russian defenses. Former Russian politician Viktor Alksnis noted that the Russian Defense Ministry again limited its discussion of conducting offensive operations, which likely indicated that Russian forces are largely undertaking defensive measures. Alksnis noted that Russians do not have awareness of the lack of progress during the Russian ”special military operation” in Ukraine. Ukraine’s Center for Countering Disinformation also noted that the Kremlin is exploiting Ukrainian operational silence to invent false claims about the Ukrainian counteroffensive.

Putin publicly praised DNR and LNR forces (and denigrated the Russian military) on September 5, likely to motivate proxy recruitment and reframe Russian coverage of the war. Russian President Vladimir Putin stated on September 5 that personnel in the 1st and 2nd Army Corps (the armed forces of the DNR and LNR) are fighting better in Donbas than professional Russian soldiers and insinuated that he is unhappy with the performance of the Russian Ministry of Defense. Putin’s comments are likely intended to promote recruitment and force generation in the DNR and LNR and refocus coverage of the war in the Russian media space away from the fighting in southern Ukraine. Russian forces have increasingly relied on DNR and LNR personnel as core fighting forces, and the Kremlin likely seeks to rhetorically elevate their role in the war to enhance recruitment and increase morale. Putin additionally likely seeks to elevate the Kremlin’s preferred (and false) narrative of its invasion of Ukraine as an effort to “protect” the DNR and LNR by praising their forces. 

Key Takeaways

  • The Ukrainian counteroffensive is tangibly degrading Russian logistics and administrative capabilities in occupied southern Ukraine.
  • Putin publicly praised DNR and LNR forces (and denigrated the Russian military) on September 5, likely to motivate proxy recruitment and reframe Russian coverage of the war.
  • Ukrainian military officials maintained their operational silence regarding the progress of the Ukrainian counteroffensive but reported on the further destruction of Russian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) in Central Kherson Oblast.
  • Russian forces conducted ground attacks east of Siversk, northeast and south of Bakhmut, and along the northwestern outskirts of Donetsk City.
  • Ukrainian special forces conducted a limited operation against a Russian FSB base in the Enerhodar area.
  • Power unit No. 6 of the ZNPP became disconnected from the Ukrainian power grid.
  • Russian authorities continue to seek unconventional sources of combat power and are increasingly turning to ill and infirm individuals.
  • Occupation authorities set a 1.25 ruble/1 hryvnia exchange rate in Zaporizhzhia Oblast in order to facilitate the economic integration of occupied Zaporizhzhia into the Russian Federation.

Russia is ready to negotiate Moscow’s conditions for ending the Russian war in Ukraine, ISW reported. “Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated that Russia is ready to negotiate Moscow’s conditions for ending the Russian war in Ukraine on September 4, but the Kremlin is maintaining its maximalist goals to  “denazify” Ukraine. 

Peskov said that the Kremlin would discuss with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky how Ukraine would meet Russian conditions during peace negotiations and noted that Russia will complete all stated objectives of the “special military operation.” Peskov also noted that all conflicts end at the negotiations table and expressed that relations between Russia and the West will improve soon.

Peskov’s statement comes amidst the reports of the Ukrainian counteroffensive progress in southern Ukraine. The stated objectives of the “special military operation” include regime change in Kyiv as well as the surrender of all of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts to the Kremlin. Russian efforts to integrate occupied areas of Kherson, Zaporizhzhia and Kharkiv Oblasts demonstrate that Moscow expects to keep those territories permanently as well. Peskov’s statement is thus a reiteration of Moscow’s demands for Ukrainian surrender and offers no indication that Moscow is willing to negotiate seriously and on the basis of a realistic assessment of its prospects in a war that is turning in Ukraine’s direction.”

Putin approves new foreign policy doctrine based on ‘Russian World’, Reuters reports. “President Vladimir Putin on Monday approved a new foreign policy doctrine based around the concept of a “Russian World”, a notion that conservative ideologues have used to justify intervention abroad in support of Russian speakers. The 31-page “humanitarian policy”, published more than six months into the war in Ukraine, says Russia should “protect, safeguard and advance the traditions and ideals of the Russian World”.

While presented as a kind of soft power strategy, it enshrines in official policy ideas around Russian politics and religion that some hardliners have used to justify Moscow’s occupation of parts of Ukraine and support for breakaway pro-Russian entities in the east of the country.

The Russian Federation provides support to its compatriots living abroad in the fulfilment of their rights, to ensure the protection of their interests and the preservation of their Russian cultural identity,” the policy said. It said that Russia’s ties with its compatriots abroad allowed it to “strengthen on the international stage its image as a democratic country striving for the creating of a multi-polar world.”

Putin has for years been highlighting what he sees as the tragic fate of some 25 million ethnic Russians who found themselves living outside Russia in newly independent states when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, an event he has called a geopolitical catastrophe. Russia has continued to regard the former Soviet space, from the Baltics to Central Asia, as its legitimate sphere of influence – a notion fiercely resisted by many of those countries as well as by the West.

The new policy says Russia should increase cooperation with Slavic nations, China, and India, and further strengthen its ties to the Middle East, Latin America and Africa. It said Moscow should further deepen its ties with Abkhazia and Ossetia, two Georgian regions recognised as independent by Moscow after its war against Georgia in 2008, as well as the two breakaway entities in eastern Ukraine, the self-styled Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic.”

An assessment of the ongoing Ukrainian offensive in Kherson, by Michael Kofman, Research Program Director in the Russia Studies Program at CNA and a Fellow at the Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington, DC:

A few brief thoughts on the Ukrainian offensive. First, it’s best to manage expectations, these types of operations take weeks or months to play out. In my view it is very early, there is limited information available, and far too soon to issue judgments. My best guess on the Ukrainian approach is to steadily press Russian forces toward the Dnipro river. Perhaps splitting the main Russian group of forces between those defending the city of Kherson and those holding territory east of the Inhulets river.

As Russian forces are pressed to choose between retreat and envelopment, over time they will likely withdraw to secondary defensive lines, steadily compressing the battlespace. If successful, Ukraine may begin to isolate these groupings into several large pockets. With supply lines strained, given regular strikes against bridges and relatively weak capacity of ferries, this could place Russian forces in an untenable position, eventually forcing a retreat across the river. Ukraine will probably have more success pushing the northern pocket.

I doubt Ukraine seeks a fight for the city of Kherson itself, which would be costly and could destroy much of it. Instead, to steadily compress the pocket around it, make reinforcement impossible, and force a Russian withdrawal (ala Zmiinyi (Snake) Island).

My impression is that there are at least three axes of advance in Kherson, but it’s difficult to tell the composition of Ukrainian forces. I’m making an educated guess here. So far, there are visible signs of UA gains, with breaks through the first line of Russian defences. That said, Russian forces will retreat to secondary lines. As friction increases, the pace of the advance could slow down. As I often suggest, outcomes are contingent. Having used HARM to suppress Russian air defence, and likely EW, Ukraine may have pockets of localized air superiority (enough for TB2 to operate on parts of the front), but it will require sustained suppression against Russian ADS which could regenerate.

To place the offensive in context, much of the front has become active with Ukrainian forces launching localized counterattacks around Kharkiv and Donbas. These local initiatives are probably designed to take advantage of lost Russian momentum.

On managing expectations – one thing to consider is that the better military commanders of the 20th century would have struggled to keep up with social media expectations, and a media glare that often seeks to magnify minor tactical events into major strategic indicators. Overall, the geography is favourable to Ukraine, and in this area, they can establish a relative advantage if not in forces than in fires and logistics. Russian forces have been reinforced over the summer, but many BTGs are likely at half strength, with strained supply lines. That said, I have strong priors on this, having seen the right river bank of Kherson as the area where Russia’s position is the most vulnerable, and the region overall as of greater strategic significance relative to others. 

Russian forces in the southwest around Kherson city are struggling to consolidate a defensible perimeter west of the river. The units deployed there are relatively light, and under pressure. They could even be forced over time to retreat east across the Dnipro. In addition, taking back territory is not a singular objective. Sustainability and force preservation matter. One of the challenges for Ukraine will be to keep relative costs low so as to be better positioned for future operations, and subsequent phases over the long term.”

  1. Consequences and what to do? 

Germany heading for a recession despite new relief plan – economists, Reuters reports. “Germany, Europe’s largest economy, is still on course for a recession even with a new government plan to spend 65 billion euros ($64.49 billion) on shielding energy customers and businesses from soaring inflation, economists say.

The latest package brings to 95 billion euros the amount allocated to inflation-busting since the Ukraine war began in February. By contrast, the government spent 300 billion euros on propping up the economy over the two years of the pandemic. “The third relief package does little to change the fact that Germany is likely to slide into recession in the autumn,” said Commerzbank chief economist Joerg Kraemer.

ING chief economist Carsten Brzeski agreed: “The package will probably fall short in preventing the broader economy from falling into recession.” Economists widely define a recession as two or more consecutive quarters of negative growth or contraction.

The German economy grew by the narrowest of margins in the second quarter, and the war in Ukraine, soaring energy prices, the pandemic and supply disruptions are now pushing it towards a downturn, which it may already be in.”

EU races to shield industry as Russia gas stoppage shakes markets, Reuters reports. “European gas prices surged, stocks slid and the euro sank on Monday after Russia halted gas flows via a major pipeline, sending another shock wave through economies in the region still struggling to recover from the pandemic. European Union governments are pushing through multi-billion euro packages to prevent utilities from buckling under a liquidity squeeze and to protect households from soaring energy bills.

Prices could rise further after Russia’s state-controlled Gazprom said it would stop pumping gas via Nord Stream 1. Europe has accused Russia of weaponising energy supplies in retaliation for Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine. […]

Many European power distributors have already collapsed and some major generators could be at risk, hit by caps that limit the price rises they can pass to consumers or caught out by hedging bets, with gas prices now 400% more than a year ago.

Ukraine can substitute NS1 capacity through its network, Reuters reports. “Ukraine is able to substitute Nord Stream 1 pipeline capacity through Sudzha, its only working transit point with Russia, the head of its gas transit operator told Reuters on Monday. “They don’t use Sudzha to its full capacity. The booking (for daily transit volumes) is 77 million (cubic metres), but they are only pumping 41 (million),” the transmission operator’s Chief Executive Sergiy Makogon told Reuters.

Sweden’s cost of living crisis spooks voters ahead of the election, Reuters reports. “With its robust welfare provisions and green energy mix, wealthy Sweden should be better placed than most countries in Europe to withstand the energy-driven cost of living crisis battering the continent. But consumer worries over soaring electricity bills, rising interest rates and stalling economic growth mean the campaign for the general election on Sept. 11 has turned into something of a bidding war between the centre-left and right-wing blocs over which can do more to ease the short-term pain. That could entail long-term costs for the economy. […]

Swedes are among Europe’s most well-off. The welfare system – though much less generous than it used to be – means poverty rates are well below the European average. But in recent decades, the gap between rich and poor has been growing, leaving many vulnerable to inflation that is currently at around 8%.”

Russia’s energy export revenues reached almost €160B since it invaded Ukraine, Ukrinform reports, citing the report of the Finland-based Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA). “For the six months of the war against Ukraine – from February 24 to August 24 – Russia earned at least €158 billion in revenue from fossil fuel exports, which indicates the need for immediate tightening of economic restrictions on the Russian Federation.

It is noted that Russia earned EUR 158 billion in revenue from fossil fuel exports in the first six months of the war (February 24 to August 24). In particular, the EU imported 54% of this, worth approximately EUR 85 billion, being the largest fossil fuel importer, followed by China (EUR 34.9 bln), Turkey (EUR 10.7 bln), India (EUR 6.6 bln), Japan (EUR 2.5 bln), Egypt (EUR 2.3 bln), and South Korea (EUR 2 bln).

Fossil fuel exports have contributed approximately EUR 43 billion to Russia’s federal budget since the start of the invasion, helping fund war crimes in Ukraine. Surging fossil fuel prices mean that Russia’s current revenue is far above previous years’ level, despite the reductions in this year’s export volumes, the report reads.

It is noted that Russia is finding ways to circumvent the imposed restrictions and reroute oil supplies by refining, blending, transshipments and ship-to-ship transfers. Stronger rules and enforcement are needed to prevent crude oil and oil products containing Russian oil from entering markets with bans in place, CREA says.

In this context, it is underscored that the EU and the UK need to start using their leverage in global shipping. The EU must ban the use of European-owned ships and European ports for shipping Russian oil to third countries, while the UK needs to stop allowing its insurance industry to participate in this trade, the experts note.

Moreover, CREA explains that it is essential for Europe to accelerate energy-saving measures and to accelerate the deployment of clean energy, heat pumps, electric vehicles, and other technology to replace Russian fossil fuels. As a reminder, oil and gas exports are considered one of the main sources of Russian revenues.”

 

Hans Petter Midttun: For the last 8,5 years the West has relentlessly pursued a policy based on a desire to avoid the war escalating into a broader conflict between Russia and NATO. Russia, however, has pursued a very different strategy. More importantly, the realities do not support the Western narrative

This is not a “war in Ukraine”, but a war between two fundamentally different world orders. An autocracy is trying to impose its will on liberal democracies. A dictator is trying to tear down the security architecture that has secured peace, stability and prosperity in Europe since 1945. President Putin is demanding that NATO step back from its commitment to defend Eastern and Central Europe. Freedom of Navigation – fundamental to global trade – is under assault. Russia has weaponized food, energy, and information with global consequences. The truth is being challenged. The world is facing famines, and a “terrorist state” is trying to blackmail us into submission to abandon our core values and principles. The so-called “war in Ukraine” is only an object and a part of a wider strategy aiming at undermining European unity and breaking transatlantic ties.

While the European Parliament has clearly stated that the EU member states are exposed to a Russian Hybrid War, NATO has come up with the rather feeble conclusion that “the Euro-Atlantic area is not at peace”. On 16 September 2021 the Parliament assessed Russia to be a long-term threat to European security. It stated that “the current Russian regime is threatening peace and security in Europe” and cited a long list of aggressive behavior, including “the illegal and violent occupation and annexation of Crimea; the violation of the territorial integrity and the destabilisation of Ukraine, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova; alleged acts of terrorism on the territory of the EU Member States; cyberattacks and attacks on sensitive infrastructure in the EU Member States; election interference; and violations of the sea and air space of countries in the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea regions.”

Russia has already defined NATO as a threat and a party to the conflict. It has publically declared that the West is waging an information wareconomic war, acts of aggression, war with Russia through a proxy and a total war. It sees our defence aid to Ukraine as proof of our participation. In December 2021 it even handed over a set of ultimatums to the USA and the Alliance after having waged a Hybrid War against the West for years.

The international community is exposed to increasing Russian nuclear blackmail. In a joint statement on June 27, the G7 Leaders condemned “Russia’s unjustified use of nuclear rhetoric and signaling. Russia must abide by its international commitments, including those which ban the use of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. We urge Russia to behave responsibly and exercise restraint, and reiterate that any use of such weapons would be unacceptable and met with severe consequences. In this regard we express serious concern after the announcement by Russia that it could transfer missiles with nuclear capabilities to Belarus.” The statement must be seen in the context of Russia already waging war between Ukrainian Nuclear Power Plants putting the world at risk of a nuclear catastrophe several times bigger than Chornobyl.

Since the very start of the full-scale invasion, I have repeatedly stressed that the war will cause a “tsunami of ripple effects” (e.g. costs of living, food and energy insecurity, famine, recession, inflation, and more) increasing the likelihood of global unrest, riots, and collapse of the governments. I fear that the political landscape in both the USA and Europe will change in the time to come as voters grow increasingly frustrated. My concern has not been dampened by the recent escalation in the Russian energy war against the West. International media is increasingly focusing on its impact on the European economy and ultimately, our resilience.

Putin’s approval of a new foreign policy doctrine based on the “Russian World” is all about messaging. It is both a show of defiance as well as a declaration of intent. Russia is not about to end the war or withdraw its military forces to its territory. In February, the Estonian Intelligence stated that “Military pressure and threats of war have become key foreign policy tools for Russia. Western countries must prepare for increasingly sustained military pressure from Russia – direct threats of war have become an integral part of the foreign policy of Putin’s Russia over the past year.” The new foreign policy doctrine underlines the assessment. “Russian World” does not acknowledge international recognised borders and is linked to Russia’s sphere of interests. That includes several NATO member states.

All of the above represents an obvious mismatch between the US and NATO strategic messaging, and the Russian actions and messaging. Despite the Russian strategic communication and military actions, the West is still describing the war as a war between Russia and Ukraine only.

Until now we have seen no change in Russian behaviour as a consequence of Western sanctions and military support to Ukraine. Russia has on the contrary escalated its war against the West, reiterated its aim and objectives of the so-called “special military operation” and continued its war and atrocities in Ukraine. It is expected to continue for the unforeseen future.

We might, therefore, want to consider changing our strategic messaging, and our strategy and introducing means that help convince Russia of the futility of upholding a war it cannot possibly win.

President Putin – or the ones who are likely to topple him – must be convinced that we mean business. That requires a new strategy. Not more of the same.

 

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