Russo Ukrainian War. Day 226: Biden: Putin’s nuclear threat biggest risk since the Cuban Missile Crisis

 

Daily review

Article by: Hans Petter Midttun

Since September 21, in the Kharkiv oblast, the Armed Forces of Ukraine advanced 55 kilometers into the depth of Russian forces’ defenses. 29 settlements liberated in Kherson Oblast in 5 days. Russian forces fire missiles from Belarus for the first time since August. Re-purposed captured Russian equipment now makes up a large proportion of Ukraine’s military hardware. Over 1.6 million Ukrainians deported to Russia. Ukraine has sent almost half of its agricultural exports via the grain corridor. Russia submits objections to Ukraine genocide case in World Court. Ukrainian police have found the bodies of 534 civilians and evidence of torture in the recaptured territory. European Parliament calls for a massive increase in military assistance to Ukraine. Biden says Putin’s nuclear threat biggest risk since the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Daily overview — Summary report, October 7

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 06.00 am, October 7, 2022 is in the dropdown menu below

Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 226: Biden: Putin’s nuclear threat biggest risk since the Cuban Missile Crisis ~~

Situation in Ukraine. October 6, 2022. Source: ISW.

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“Russian forces are trying to hold the temporarily captured territories, concentrates efforts on attempts to disrupt the active actions of the Defence Forces in certain directions, and do not stop conducting offensive actions in the Bakhmut and Avdiyivka directions. Performs regrouping of troops in the Pivdennyy Buh direction.

 

Donetsk Battle Map. October 6, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Donetsk Battle Map. October 6, 2022. Source: ISW.

Russian forces are shelling the positions of our troops along the contact line, carrying out engineering equipment for defensive positions and lines in separate directions and conducting aerial reconnaissance. Strikes civilian infrastructure and civilian homes, violating international humanitarian law, laws and customs of war.

There remains the threat of air and missile strikes on the entire territory of Ukraine. Thus, during the past day, the occupiers launched 8 missile strikes, 15 airstrikes, and more than 70 MLRS attacks. Three X-22 cruise missiles of Russian forces did not reach their targets.

Objects and civilian population of more than 25 settlements were damaged by enemy fire. Among others – Novomykhailivka, Zaliznychne, Spirne, Davydiv Brid, Blahodativka and Myrne. The strikes on Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv and Nikopol were carried out solely to destroy civilian homes and critical infrastructure of the cities.

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

Russian forces fired in other directions:

  • in the Siversky direction – from artillery, in the areas of Boyaro-Lezhachi, Mezenivka and Ryzhivka settlements of the Sumy oblast;
Kharkiv Battle Map. October 6, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Kharkiv Battle Map. October 6, 2022. Source: ISW.

  • in the Slobozhansk direction – from tanks, mortars and MLRS, in the areas of the settlements of Dvorichne, Zarubivka, Vovchansk, Hatyshche;
  • in the Kramatorsk direction – from artillery of various types, in the areas of the settlements of Spirne, Bilohorivka, Verkhnokamianske, Serebryanka and Rozdolivka;
  • in the Bakhmut direction, Russian forces attacked the areas of Soledar, Bakhmut, Chasiv Yar, Kurdyumivka, Opytne, Zaitseve and New York settlements;
  • in the Avdiyivka direction, Maryinka, Shakhtarsky, Vodyanyi and Novomykhailivka districts were shelled from tanks, mortars, artillery and MLRS.
  • On the Novopavlivskyi and Zaporizhzhia directions, the infrastructure in the areas of Novoukrayinka, Novodanilivka, Chervone, Novosilka, Poltavka and Mali Shcherbaki was damaged by enemy shelling.
  • In the Pivdennyy Buh direction, more than twenty-five settlements along the entire line of contact were hit by fire.

Over the past day, units of the Defence Forces of Ukraine repelled attacks by Russian invaders in the areas of the settlements of Vyimka, Krasne, Bakhmut, Mayorsk, Vesele, Pobyeda, Nevelske, Kamianka and Ternovy Pody. [Yesterday, units of the Defense Forces of Ukraine repelled enemy attacks in the areas of Soledar, Bakhmutske, Yakovlivka, Odradivka, Zaitseve, Bakhmut, Krasnohorivka, Pobyeda, Vodyane and Lyubomirivka settlements.]

According to available information, reinforcements of five hundred demobilized criminals have arrived to reinforce the Russian army fighting in the temporarily occupied territory of the Donetsk region. Officers from among former Russian law enforcement officers have been appointed commanders of the newly arrived units. The command of the Russian troops issued an order to confiscate mobile phones from all arriving mobilized personnel.

[According to available information, the partial mobilization announced by the military-political leadership of the Russian Federation actually “absorbs” small settlements in remote regions of Russia. Conscription is carried out by the method of roundups, practically all male population of conscription age is forcibly taken to military commissariats. At the same time, in Moscow, the demobilization plan, which accounts for less than 0.2 percent of the population in districts, has not been fulfilled by half.]

[As before, the Russian invaders are using scorched earth tactics in Ukraine. Thus, during another chaotic retreat, Russian forces blew up the dam, which caused the settlement of Raihorodok to flood. There is mass destruction of archives and copies of documents, especially those containing the history of the occupation, in Kadiivka. In Svatovo, the main infrastructure facilities, buildings and territories have already been mined.]

Aviation of the Defence Forces carried out 23 strikes during the past 24 hours. It has been confirmed that a stronghold, 15 areas of concentration of weapons and military equipment, as well as 7 anti-aircraft missile systems of Russian forces have been hit. In addition, our air defence units shot down more than 20 enemy UAVs in various directions. Among them – 5 Orlan-10, 15 Shahed-136 and 1 Mohajer-6.

Over the past day, missile forces and artillery hit 5 areas of concentration of manpower, weapons and military equipment, 5 air defence positions, 2 artillery pieces, an ammunition warehouse and a crossing. [Yesterday, they hit 19 areas of concentration of manpower, weapons and military equipment, 2 ammunition depots and 6 artillery means.]“

Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. October 6, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. October 6, 2022. Source: ISW.

Military Updates

Russian forces fire missiles from Belarus for the first time since August, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Oleksii Hromov, Deputy Head of the Main Operational Directive of the Ukrainian General Staff and Yurii Ihnat, Spokesman for the Air Force. “This morning, four of the aggressor country’s Tu-22 M3 strategic aircraft carried out an airstrike on the territory of Ukraine from the airspace of Belarus. The last use of aircraft from this direction was on 28 August.

It was an attack on Khmelnytskyi Oblast, which the occupying forces hit with Kh-22 missiles. Russian troops launched a missile attack on the Shepetivka district in Khmelnytskyi Oblast on the morning of 6 October […]. One of the two missiles fell near an infrastructure target. The other missile fell on the wasteland.”

29 settlements liberated in Kherson Oblast in 5 days – Ukraine’s General Staff, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Oleksii Hromov, Deputy Head of the Main Operational Directive of the Ukrainian General Staff. “Since 1 October, 29 settlements have been brought under [Ukrainian] control. Hromov stated that on the Kherson front, the Russian troops are trying to counterattack using their reserves in order to hold back the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ offensive and regain control over the lost territories.

Natalia Humeniuk, head of the united coordinating press centre of the Defence Forces of the South of Ukraine, reported earlier that since the beginning of October, the Armed Forces of Ukraine have liberated over 400 sq. km of Kherson Oblast’s territory from the Russian occupiers.”

Since September 21, in the Kharkiv oblast, the Armed Forces of Ukraine advanced 55 kilometres into the depth of Russian forces’ defences, Brigadier General Oleksii Hromov, Deputy Chief of the Main Operations Department of the Ukrainian General Staff reports. “Since September 21, our troops managed to advance 55 kilometres deep into Russian forces’ defences, establish control over 93 settlements, and take control of more than 2,400 square kilometres of Slobozhanshchyna,” noted Oleksii Hromov.

In the period from September 30, Russian forces used 20 missiles of various types, including 13 ballistic missile launches. Russian forces also used 46 Shahed 136 kamikaze drones to attack military facilities, civilian infrastructure and troop positions — of which 24 drones were destroyed. That night, 9 out of 12 kamikaze drones were destroyed by the forces and means of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. In total, since the beginning of Russian forces’ use of Shahed 136 kamikaze unmanned aerial vehicles, 86 units were used by them, of which 60% were destroyed, – noted Oleksii Gromov.

Belarus continues to provide assistance to Russia in the war against Ukraine – the army of the Russian Federation uses Belarusian ammunition, spare parts and airspace to carry out airstrikes on Ukraine.

Since the beginning of October, almost 30 wagons with ammunition for the occupiers have been sent from the Belarusian missile and ammunition storage arsenals to the Donetsk and Kherson directions.

In total, since February 24, 26 echelons with ammunition were sent from the territory of Belarus – almost 250 wagons weighing more than 10,000 tons.

On the morning of October 6, four Russian Tu-22M3 aircraft hit Ukraine with air missiles from the territory of Belarus. The previous such shelling was recorded on August 28.

At Belarusian warehouses, bases and arsenals, a group of Russian officers select car tires, assemblies, aggregates and other spare parts for armoured vehicles of the Russian army for further shipment to the occupying forces.”

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

Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 226: Biden: Putin’s nuclear threat biggest risk since the Cuban Missile Crisis ~~

  • Re-purposed captured Russian equipment now makes up a large proportion of Ukraine’s military hardware. Ukraine has likely captured at least 440 Russian Main Battle Tanks, and around 650 other armoured vehicles since the invasion. Over half of Ukraine’s currently fielded tank fleet potentially consists of captured vehicles.
  • The failure of Russian crews to destroy intact equipment before withdrawing or surrendering highlights their poor state of training and low levels of battle discipline. With Russian formations under severe strain in several sectors and increasingly demoralised troops, Russia will likely continue to lose heavy weaponry.
  • Ukraine’s Armed Forces started a new phase of offensive operations in Kherson Oblast on 2 October 2022. Advancing south, Ukrainian units have pushed the front line forwards by up to an additional 20km, primarily making gains along the east bank of the Inhulets and west bank of the Dnipro, but not yet threatening the main Russian defensive positions.
  • Russian forces have typically broken contact and withdrawn. Russian commanders are likely to see the growing threat to the Nova Kakhovka sector as one of their most pressing concerns. The damaged river crossing over the Dnipro in this area remains one of the few routes available for them to resupply forces. Russia faces a dilemma: withdrawal of combat forces across the Dnipro makes defence of the rest of Kherson Oblast more tenable; but the political imperative will be to remain and defend.
  • Russia has committed the majority of its severely undermanned airborne forces, the VDV, to the defence of Kherson. Therefore, Russia currently has few additional, high quality rapidly deployable forces available to stabilise the front: it likely aims to deploy mobilised reservists to the sector.

Losses of the Russian army 

As of 7 October, 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 61680 (+350),
  • Tanks – 2466 (+17),
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 5093 (+29),
  • Artillery systems – 1455 (+31),
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 344 (+0),
  • Air defence means – 177 (+0),
  • Aircraft – 266 (+0),
  • Helicopters – 233 (+1),
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 3862 (+8),
  • Vessels/boats – 15 (+0),
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 1067 (+20),
  • Special equipment – 135 (+1),
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0),
  • Cruise missiles – 246 (+0)

Russian enemy suffered the greatest losses (of the last day) in the Kramatorsk and Kryvyi Rih directions.

Conscripted Russians are already being used as cannon fodder in Ukraine’s south, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Nataliia Humeniuk, the head of the press centre of the defence forces of the south of Ukraine. “Russians who were mobilised after 21 September, after the so-called partial mobilisation was announced in Russia, are now being used as cannon fodder in the south of Ukraine.

Yes, there is evidence that the so-called ‘freshly mobilised’ Russians are already on our front, but the fact that they are ‘fresh’ does not improve their quality. They did not get enough training and are more likely serving as cannon fodder. Humeniuk added that the Russians are relying mainly on airborne assault troops, which have the highest rates of staffing.

Russia attempted to buy 200,000 bulletproof vests through third countries, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Interfax-Ukraine. “Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine’s Minister of Defence, said that Russia attempted to order 200,000 bulletproof vests and 500,000 sets of winter clothing through third countries, but was rebuffed by Turkey.

Reznikov believes that the failure of the so-called special military operation will lead to regime change in Russia. My understanding is that this is the failure of the current Kremlin regime in Russia. Accordingly, they will make some personnel decisions; someone will be blamed, most likely the Russian military, for the failure of the ‘special military operation’; they need some heads to roll. But the regime will no longer be able to withstand this, there will be regime change, there will be a ‘perfect storm’ in Russia.”

Humanitarian 

Over 1.6 million Ukrainians deported to Russia – Zelenskyy, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the press service of the President of Ukraine. “More than one million and six hundred thousand Ukrainians were forcibly deported to Russia. They are dispersed across the territory of this state, scattered throughout remote Russian regions. Many of them had their documents taken away, and many of them passed through terrible Russian filtration camps, where they were abused and intimidated. These are people. But for Russia, it is also a resource.

In June, Iryna Vereshchuk, Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine, reported that the occupiers have deported nearly 1,200,000 Ukrainian citizens, 240,000 of them being children, to Russia.”

Russia does not let out Ukrainians who have a Russian passport, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the Ministry for Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine. “Long queues of Ukrainian citizens who are trying to leave the territory of the Russian Federation have appeared on Russia’s borders with Latvia and Estonia; the FSB does not let out those people who have Russian passports. People are waiting for a chance to cross the border for two to six days. 

According to the Ministry’s data, citizens of Ukraine, who have a registration stamp in Crimea but do not have a Russian passport, are let out.”

Ukraine has sent almost half of its agricultural exports via grain corridor, Ukrinform reports.”Before Russia invaded Ukraine, 80-90% of all agricultural exports were delivered through seaports. When they were blocked, we had to redistribute export flows to rail, trucks, ferries and river ports. To date, thanks to the corridor, more than 270 ships loaded with 6.2 million tonnes of cargo, accounting for 48% of the total agricultural export, have left Ukraine,” Taras Vysotskyi, First Deputy Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine, said, the Ministry’s press service reports.

Vysotskyi noted that Ukraine, together with its EU partners, managed to establish the uninterrupted operation of the corridor, which made it possible to resume food supplies to African countries. According to him, about 1 million tonnes of agricultural products have already been sent to Africa.”

Millions of refugees from Ukraine have crossed borders into neighboring countries, and many more have been forced to move inside the country. The escalation of conflict in Ukraine has caused civilian casualties and destruction of civilian infrastructure, forcing people to flee their homes seeking safety, protection and assistance the UNHCR reports. As of 4 October:

Individual refugees from Ukraine recorded across Europe: 7,643,944
Hungary, Republic  of Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia 1,722,433
Russian Federation, Belarus 2,867,276
Other European countries 3,054,235
Refugees from Ukraine registered for Temporary Protection or similar national protection schemes in Europe: 4,207,891
Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia 1,615,686
Other European countries 2,592,205
Border crossings from Ukraine (since 24 February 2022): 13,736,198
Border crossings to Ukraine (since 28 February 2022): 6,468,695

Environmental 

Nord Stream investigation finds evidence of detonations, Swedish police say, Reuters reports. “A crime scene investigation of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines from Russia to Europe has strengthened suspicions of “gross sabotage” involving detonations, Sweden’s Security Service said on Thursday. Swedish and Danish authorities have been investigating four leaks from the pipelines in Swedish and Danish exclusive economic zones in the Baltic Sea since they were first spotted at the beginning of last week.

Europe, which is facing an energy crisis in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, is investigating what caused the damage. […] The security service said there was extensive damage to the gas pipelines and they had retrieved some material from the site that would now be analysed. The evidence “has strengthened the suspicions of gross sabotage”, they said. […]

Russia said on Thursday it had been informed via diplomatic channels that it was not able to join the investigation. As of now, there are no plans to ask the Russian side to join investigations, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, adding that Moscow replied it was not possible to conduct an objective investigation without its participation.”

Hans Petter Midttun: Russia was not invited to join the investigation of its downing of MH-17 in 2014 either. And as in 2014, Russia is again spreading disinformation to blame other parties and distort the truth.

US on Russia’s takeover of ZNPP: Piece of paper issued by Putin does not change anything, Ukrinform reports, citing State Department Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel. “Zaporizhzhia belongs to Ukraine, and the [Zaporizhzhia] power plant belongs to Ukraine. And the electricity and the energy that it produces rightly belongs to Ukraine, he said, when asked to comment on Putin’s decree on the transfer of the occupied power plant to Russia’s federal ownership.

Patel said that Putin has absolutely no authority to take over a power plant in another country. Therefore, he continued, a piece of paper issued by him [Putin] or his government certainly doesn’t change that fact either. Russian troops seized the nuclear power plant in March. On October 5, the Kremlin officially announced that the power plant now allegedly belongs to Russia.”

Legal 

Russia submits objections to Ukraine genocide case in World Court, Reuters reports. “Russia has submitted preliminary objections to a genocide case against Moscow brought by Ukraine, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) said Thursday. […] The filing, which the court tweeted Thursday it had received on Oct. 3, has not been made public.

In a letter to the United Nations court in March, Moscow argued that the ICJ, also known as the World Court, did not have jurisdiction because the genocide convention does not regulate the use of force between states. The filing signifies a change in Moscow’s attitude to the ICJ case. Russia is now engaging with the court, whereas it has previously skipped hearings and not filed documents directly with the court.

Ukraine filed a case with the ICJ shortly after Russia’s invasion began on Feb. 24, saying that Moscow’s stated justification, that it was acting to prevent a genocide in eastern Ukraine, was unfounded. During hearings in March, Ukraine said there was no threat of genocide in eastern Ukraine, and that the U.N.’s 1948 Genocide Convention, which both countries have signed, does not allow an invasion to prevent one. 

After those hearings, which Russia had skipped, ICJ judges ordered Russia to stop the invasion of Ukraine as an emergency measure while it looked into the merits of Ukraine’s claim.”

Ukrainian police have found the bodies of 534 civilians and evidence of torture in the recaptured territory, The New York Times reports. “Ukrainian police have recovered 534 bodies of civilians in territory recaptured by the Ukrainian Army since early September, Serhii Bolvinov, head of the investigative department of the regional police force in Kharkiv, said at a news briefing on Thursday. The bodies included 226 women and 19 children. Most of the civilian bodies recovered — 447 — were found in a mass burial site in Izium.

The police have also discovered 22 locations that they suspect were used as torture chambers in areas of Kharkiv Province that were recently freed from Russian control, he said. Investigators have been gathering documents and other evidence from the sites and witness testimony, including from former detainees. Russian units set up such places of detention of civilians and prisoners of war in almost all the settlements where they were based, Mr. Bolvinov said. […]

The most common torture techniques were electric shocks and severe beatings with sticks and other objects, Mr. Bolvinov said. There are cases of pulling out nails and using gas masks to restrict breathing. Most of the victims were residents who were detained for violating the nightly curfew or accused of acting as target spotters for Ukrainian artillery attacks.”

418 children were killed, 789 children injured, 7,992 deported by foe forces, and 237 reported missing – the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine reports as of October 7. 2,608 educational establishments are damaged as a result of shelling and bombings, 313 of them are destroyed fully. As of October 5, 38,222 crimes of aggression and war crimes and 16,998 crimes against national security were registered.

Support 

European Parliament calls for a massive increase of military assistance to Ukraine, Ukrinform reports. “Members of the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling on the world to increase military assistance to Ukraine amid the Russian military aggression. According to the press service of the European Parliament, the resolution was adopted by 504 votes in favour 26 against and 36 abstentions.

Hailing the courage of the Ukrainian people defending their country and European values, MEPs urge EU member states and other countries supporting Ukraine to increase massively their military assistance, particularly in areas requested by the Ukrainian government. MEPs call on hesitating member states to provide their fair share of necessary military assistance, which will help shorten the war.”

The Ukrainian military learns how to operate NASAMS and IRIS-T, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Yurii Ihnat, spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force. “The Ukrainian military is being trained to operate NASAMS [Norwegian Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems] and IRIS-T [InfraRed Imagery Sidewinder Tail-controlled] anti-aircraft missile systems.

On September 16, the Pentagon announced that the first two NASAMS SAM batteries will arrive in Ukraine within the next two months.”

Macron: Europe to send more military gear to Ukraine including French howitzers, Reuters reports. “French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday European countries would send Ukraine more military equipment to counter Russia, including more French Caesar-type howitzers.”

New Developments 

  1. Biden says Putin’s nuclear threat biggest risk since Cuban Missile Crisis, Reuters «US President Joe Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons is the biggest such threat since the Cuban Missile Crisis, as Russia’s military leadership faced a rare domestic public backlash over the war in Ukraine. Biden said the United States was “trying to figure out” Putin’s off-ramp from the war, warning that the Russian leader was not joking when he talks about the potential use of tactical nuclear weapons or biological or chemical weapons because his military is, you might say, is significantly underperforming“.

  1. Reznikov to Russian officers: You can still save Russia from tragedy, Ukrainska PravdaOleksii Reznikov, Minister of Defence of Ukraine, has appealed to Russian servicemen not to waste time and save Russia from tragedy, and the Russian army from humiliation. He has stated that the leadership of the Russian Federation deceived and betrayed the soldiers, sending them to die for the illusory goals of Vladimir Putin.”
  2. Zelenskyy Called On EU Summit in Prague to Implement His “Peace Formula”, European PravdaPresident Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in his video address to the summit of the European Political Community in Prague, called for the implementation of his “peace formula” for Ukraine. The first is to punish the aggressor. The second is aid to Ukraine. The third point is the restoration of security and territorial integrity of Ukraine. The fourth point is security guarantees. The fifth is determination. In 225 days of full-scale war, we have all already shown that Europe can influence the issues of war and peace. But now – all together – we must ensure that the formula for war is completely blocked and the formula for peace is fully implemented, the president said.”
  3. Informal meeting of EU leaders kicks off in Prague, UkrinformThe 27 heads of state and government will discuss the three most pressing and intertwined issues, including the Russian war in Ukraine, energy, and the economic situation, according to European Council President Charles Michel.”
  4. Own Commissioner by 2030: Ukrainian Government Disclosed Country’s Possible EU Accession, European PravdaDeputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine, Olha Stefanishyna, is convinced that Ukraine’s EU accession will be completed by 2030. She admitted that some forces still oppose it. We are now conducting negotiations with everyone on how to start negotiations. The absolute majority of EU countries are confident that negotiations may start in 2023.”
  5. Putin: Russia expects sanctions pressure to increase, ReutersPresident Vladimir Putin on Thursday said that consumer demand remained weak and that he expected sanctions pressure on the Russian economy to intensify, in televised remarks from a meeting with government officials.But the Russian economy has defied some predictions from Western analysts that it was facing a 15% hit to gross domestic product (GDP) this year. Russia’s Economy Ministry now expects a 2.9% contraction in 2022, while Western leaders hope the impact of sanctions will be long-lasting and hold back the Russian economy for years.”

Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

map source: https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-october-6*

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of 6 October, 2022:

Ukrainian Counteroffensives 

Eastern Ukraine: (Oskil River-Kreminna Line)

Ukrainian forces likely continued counteroffensive operations in northeastern Kharkiv Oblast near Kupyansk on October 6. […] Geolocated footage shows Ukrainian troops in Hlushkivka, 14km southeast of Kupyansk, indicating that Ukrainian troops are continuing to make eastward gains around Kupyansk. A Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces are attempting to extend the counteroffensive pocket around Kupyansk northeast towards Vilshana and east towards Orlianka (22km east of Kupyansk) and that Ukrainian troops are sending reinforcements to this pocket. The deputy chief of the Main Operational Department of the Ukrainian General Staff, Brigadier General Oleksiy Hromov, reported that Russian troops are attempting to slow Ukrainian advances in the Kupyansk-Svatove direction, suggesting that Russian troops around Kupyansk are concerned that Ukrainians will use positions in this area to threaten Svatove from the northwest.

Ukrainian troops likely continued counteroffensive operations to threaten Russian positions along the Kreminna-Svatove road in western Luhansk Oblast on October 6. Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) “Ambassador” to Russia Rodion Miroshnik claimed that over 10,000 Ukrainian troops have amassed west of Kreminna, and that Russian forces have largely lost contact with Svatove and Kreminna. Several Russian sources stated that Ukrainian troops are continuing sabotage and reconnaissance activities along the R66 (Svatove-Kreminna road) and that Russian troops are preparing for the defense of the Svatove-Kreminna line. Local citizens and Russian troops have reportedly evacuated Svatove in anticipation of Ukrainian attacks. 

Southern Ukraine: (Kherson Oblast)

Russian troops are likely establishing defensive positions in upper Kherson Oblast following the collapse of the Russian line in northeast Kherson.  Satellite imagery dated October 3 and 4 shows Russian trench lines and radar deflector systems in the Beryslav-Nova Kakovkha area, which suggests that Russian troops are falling back to reinforce defensive positions in central Kherson Oblast in the face of recent Ukrainian advances in northeast Kherson Oblast. Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces largely focused on regrouping in northern Kherson Oblast and did not conduct ground attacks on October 6. The Russian MoD echoed claims made by some milbloggers that Ukrainian troops conducted limited ground attacks to break through new Russian defensive lines in northern Kherson, particularly from Piatykhatky (about 35km south of the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast border). 

Russian sources also suggested that Ukrainian troops conducted limited ground attacks northwest of Kherson City on October 6. A Russian milblogger stated that Ukrainian forces are conducting troop rotations northwest and west of Kherson City near Posad Pokrovske and Oleksandrivka in preparation for further attacks in the direction of Kherson City. The milblogger claimed that Ukrainian troops attacked Russian positions near Novohryhorivka, about 25km northwest of Kherson City. Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command noted that a reinforced Russian tactical unit of an unspecified echelon attempted to attack in the direction of Lyubomirivka (27km northwest of Kherson City), likely in an attempt to push the frontline further north of Kherson City to afford Russian troops a wider buffer zone between Ukrainian positions and critical concentration areas near the Dnipro River on October 5.

Ukrainian forces additionally continued their interdiction campaign in support of ground operations on October 6. Social media footage shows the aftermath of a HIMARS strike on a building used by Russian forces in Kherson City on the night of October 5 to 6. Residents of Oleshky (5km southwest of Kherson City) reported smoke following Ukrainian strikes in the area. Ukrainian forces also reportedly conducted strikes on the Antonivskyi Bridge.

Russia’s use of Iranian-made drones is not generating asymmetric effects the way the Ukrainian use of US-provided HIMARS systems has done and is unlikely to affect the course of the war significantly. The deputy chief of the Main Operational Department of the Ukrainian General Staff, Brigadier General Oleksiy Hromov, stated on October 6 that Russian forces have used a total of 86 Iranian Shahed-136 drones against Ukraine, 60% of which Ukrainian forces have already been destroyed. As ISW reported yesterday, Russian forces do not appear to be focusing these drones on asymmetric nodes near the battlefield. They have used many drones against civilian targets in rear areas, likely hoping to generate nonlinear effects through terror. Such efforts are not succeeding. Ukrainian Air Force Command Spokesperson Yuri Ignat stated that the Russian army is increasingly using the Iranian-made drones to conserve its stock of high-precision missiles. Russian forces have likely used a non-trivial percentage of the Shahed-136 supply so far if the claims of an anonymous US intelligence official at the end of August were correct that Iran would likely provide ”hundreds” of drones to Russia.

The Wagner Private Military Company announced the creation of its own private Telegram channel on October 6, indicating that Wagner financier Yevgeny Prigozhin may want a voice that is clearly his own to compete with milbloggers and possibly Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov, who all have their own Telegram channels. A Telegram channel affiliated with Prigozhin shared the invitation to the Wagner channel, “Peacekeeper.” The Russian-language invitation reads “We arrived from Hell. We are WAGNER – our business is death, and business is going well.” In addition to Peacekeeper, the channel suggested that followers subscribe to the “Novorossiya Z Project,” another private channel. The creation of a group for Wagner to share “uncensored materials from the front” may be in part a recruitment tool but is likely also an attempt to establish a formal means for Prigozhin and his allies to directly influence the information space in much the same way that Kadyrov and the Russian nationalist milbloggers use Telegram. 

Key Takeaways

  • Russia’s use of Iranian-made drones is not generating asymmetric effects the way the Ukrainian use of US-provided HIMARS systems has done and is unlikely to affect the course of the war significantly.
  • The Wagner Private Military Company announced the creation of its own private Telegram channel on October 6, indicating that Wagner financier Yevgeny Prigozhin may want a voice that is clearly his own to compete with milbloggers and possibly Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov, who all have their own Telegram channels.
  • Ukrainian forces likely continued counteroffensive operations in northeastern Kharkiv Oblast near Kupyansk and operations to threaten Russian positions along the Kreminna-Svatove road in western Luhansk Oblast on October 6.
  • Russian troops are likely establishing defensive positions in upper Kherson Oblast following the collapse of the Russian line in northeast Kherson.
  • Russian troops continued ground attacks in Donetsk Oblast on October 6 and likely made incremental gains around Bakhmut.
  • Russian forces continued to conduct routine artillery, air, and missile strikes west of Hulyaipole, and in Dnipropetrovsk and Mykolaiv Oblasts on October 6.
  • Local Russian officials appear to be frantically looking for ways to fund their mobilized units as the Kremlin increasingly expects local administrations to pay for the war effort from their own budgets.

The Ukrainian Resistance Center reported on October 6 that Russian forces began the forced mobilization of Ukrainian citizens in Russian-occupied Kremmina and Starobilsk, Luhansk Oblast.“

Russia unable to regain control over territories liberated by Ukraine – Canada’s intelligence, Ukrinform reports. That’s according to an update issued via Twitter. “Current Ukrainian gains are very likely durable. Due to attrition and severely limited re-supply options, Russian forces lack the capacity to stage a counter-attack, the agency wrote.

It is noted that Russian forces have been pushed back more than 20 km in some sectors of the front northeast of  Kherson in southern Ukraine. Russian forces north of the Dnipro river are in an increasingly precarious position, and additional Ukrainian successes in the area in the coming weeks would not be surprising, the report concludes.”

Russia Lashes Out in Ukraine, Raising Question of What’s Next, The New York Times reports. “Facing battlefield setbacks and domestic criticism, the Kremlin has escalated its war, claiming ownership of a nuclear plant and launching more attacks on Ukrainian cities. Deadly Russian strikes on Ukrainians far behind the front lines and new concerns about the safety of an endangered nuclear power plant highlighted questions about how Vladimir V. Putin’s government, with its troops retreating and dissension escalating at home on Thursday, might lash out if its battlefield losses continue.

As Ukraine claimed to retake more towns and villages in the south and east, missiles hit a residential area in the city of Zaporizhzhia, killing at least seven people, with five others missing — the latest in a series of attacks on civilian targets far from the fighting. […]

Ukrainian and Western analysts say Russian attacks on civilian targets have grown more indiscriminate, serving little military purpose but reminding people that no part of the country is safe. Less than a week ago, a rocket blast killed at least 30 civilians in Zaporizhzhia at a checkpoint and a bus stop, officials said.

A day after the Kremlin announced that it would “nationalize” the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant it has seized in Ukraine, the United Nation’s top atomic energy official said on Thursday that he could not recognize any change of ownership of the plant, which he described as unlawful and destabilizing. And he said a nuclear accident there is a very, very clear possibility.

Russia may yet prevail in the war that Mr. Putin launched in February — it still has superior firepower and numbers, and control of a significant amount of Ukrainian territory. But its military position in Ukraine has worsened in the past month, and as it has, Mr. Putin has repeatedly escalated the war, in words and deeds, rather than seek a way out.

Ukrainian advances have drawn a chorus of outrage from Russian hawks, a remarkable departure in a country where dissent is often treated as a crime. They have accused top officials of incompetence and dishonesty, and have demanded that all of Russia be put on a war footing. One Russian official in an occupied part of Ukraine even suggested on Thursday that the defense minister shoot himself.

At the same time, Mr. Putin’s military draft has prompted widespread protests and an exodus of young men from the country, as word filters past Russian censorship that the troops are suffering heavy casualties, loss of territory, inadequate equipment and terrible morale. Some people fear or oppose the war, and as Mr. Putin has acknowledged, bungling has led to the conscription of many ineligible men. After he announced the draft on Sept. 21, the Kremlin said it would call up 300,000 men, though Russian news outlets have reported that it could be many more.

Under growing pressure, Mr. Putin and his allies have suggested that Russia could use nuclear weapons. That has alarmed officials in Europe. In Washington, American officials think it is probably a bluff, but a possibility they need to treat seriously. And in a bellicose speech last week, Mr. Putin accused the United States of “satanism,” referred to Western leaders as “the enemy” and cast the war as a fight for Russia’s survival — a far cry from his original claims to be protecting ethnic Russians in Ukraine and ridding Ukraine of fascists.

This week, his government completed the formalities to illegally annex four regions of Ukraine that it does not fully control, even as it loses ground there and Mr. Putin’s own spokesman conceded that the boundaries were unclear. The Kremlin has signaled that with the annexation, which would follow staged referendums, it will now claim that Ukrainian military action in that part of Ukraine is an attack on Russian territory, justifying a harsh response. […]

On Thursday, the Swedish government said its investigators had confirmed that explosions caused the damage to leaking natural gas pipelines under the Baltic Sea, and said they had gathered evidence, but did not elaborate. […] Some European officials have speculated that Russia could have sabotaged its own lines to amplify Europe’s fears of energy shortages, which would be an escalation of a different kind. […]”

Putin confronted by insider over Ukraine war, US intelligence finds, The Washington Post reports. “The disagreement by a member of Putin’s inner circle was deemed significant enough that it was included in President Biden’s daily intelligence briefing. A member of Vladimir Putin’s inner circle has voiced disagreement directly to the Russian president in recent weeks over his handling of the war in Ukraine, according to information obtained by US intelligence. The criticism marks the clearest indication yet of turmoil within Russia’s leadership over the stewardship of a war that has gone disastrously wrong for Moscow, forcing Putin last month to order the mobilization of hundreds of thousands of troops in a desperate bid to reverse recent battlefield losses.

The information was deemed significant enough that it was included in President Biden’s daily intelligence briefing and shared with other US officials, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence. The discontent that the member of Putin’s inner circle expressed related to what the insider considered mismanagement of the war effort and mistakes being made by those executing the military campaign, according to one of the people.

The insider’s identity could not be confirmed, although the name has been included in US intelligence reporting. The new intelligence, coupled with comments from Russian officials, underscores divisions within Putin’s upper echelon, where officials have long been loath to bring bad news to an autocratic Russian leader who is seen as more isolated that at any time in his 22-year rule. […]

The number of people Putin counts as close or trusted aides and advisers is small and composed primarily of colleagues from his days serving as a KBG officer and those he met while a deputy to the mayor of St. Petersburg in the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The mobilization has sparked domestic unrest, prompted hundreds of thousands of Russian fighting-age men to flee the country and been beset by bureaucratic incompetence, with individuals being called up who are supposed to be excluded from service.

As the war enters its eighth month, and Russian victory remains elusive and ill-defined, the unquestioning loyalty Putin has enjoyed may be slipping, intelligence officials said, but they cautioned there was no indication the Russian leader was on the brink of being swept aside.

Since the start of the occupation we have witnessed growing alarm from a number of Putin’s inner circle, a Western intelligence official said. Our assessments suggest they are particularly exercised by recent Russian losses, misguided direction and extensive military shortcomings. A second senior Western official said the internal tensions are consistent with the way in which the campaign has gone for the Russians and the atmospherics in the Kremlin. There are a lot of people who are convinced this isn’t going well or the right course of action. […]

The situation has led to public criticism of Putin’s defense minister and top generals in a rare outpouring of discontent. Ramzan Kadyrov, head of Russia’s Chechen Republic, who has sent Chechen militias to fight against Ukraine, lashed out at a top general in recent days and said he should be demoted to private. […] Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a longtime Putin ally whose Wagner mercenaries have also been fighting for Moscow in Ukraine, agreed with Kadyrov, describing Russian military leaders as “pieces of garbage” in a statement. […]

Putin’s problems on the battlefield are compounded by a haphazard mobilization at home. It seems to me his position is fragile, one Russian official said of Putin in an interview on the day the mobilization was announced. In all these months we have heard that half the world is on our side. But neither Modi nor Xi are now supporting this, the Russian official said, referring to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who were seen to be distancing themselves from Putin’s war effort during a summit last month in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

In another conversation this week, the official said he had not heard about any direct challenges to Putin from within the inner circle. But there are protests by the heads of parliamentary committees about how the president and the military are conducting the war — about why the army is not being supplied properly, about why the campaign is not going as it should, the official said.

Senior security officials in Europe said they were not aware that anyone had dared to challenge Putin directly over the course of events in Ukraine and added that they hadn’t seen the US intelligence reporting on the criticism directed at Putin. Even so, some of those officials said that cracks were increasingly evident across multiple layers of the Russian system, citing outbreaks of criticism and finger-pointing across the Russian military, security services and regional governments now forcing military-age men into service.

One senior European security official described growing criticism of Putin — behind his back, including from within the Kremlin ranks. They think he’s stubborn, the official said, and obsessed with Ukraine — an obsession they do not necessarily share. A second security official in Europe said: There is scapegoating. Finger-pointing. All of this is happening.

Two Russian business executives who maintain contacts with political officials echoed those sentiments and said the coming weeks could be crucial for determining Putin’s future and what decisions he makes about the war. If the Russian military doesn’t stem its losses, then infighting will break out, said one of these people, a member of the Russian business elite. This is a breaking point. […]”

 

  1. Consequences and what to do? 

IMF’s Georgieva sees ‘darkening’ outlook for the global economy, rising recession risks, Reuters reports. “The International Monetary Fund will next week downgrade its forecast for 2.9% global growth in 2023, Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Thursday, citing rising risks of recession and financial instability. Georgieva said the outlook for the global economy was “darkening” given the shocks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and climate disasters on all continents, and it could well get worse.

We are experiencing a fundamental shift in the global economy, from a world of relative predictability … to a world with more fragility – greater uncertainty, higher economic volatility, geopolitical confrontations, and more frequent and devastating natural disasters, she said in a speech at Georgetown University. Georgieva said the old order, characterized by adherence to global rules, low-interest rates and low inflation, was giving way to one in which any country can be thrown off course more easily and more often.

She said all of the world’s largest economies – Europe, China and the United States – were now slowing down, which was dampening demand for exports from emerging and developing countries, already hit hard by high food and energy prices. […]

Georgieva said the division of the global economy into blocs supporting Russia, opposing it, or “sitting on the bench” following its invasion of Ukraine would wind up reducing important efficiencies and hurting poor people the most. We cannot afford the world to break apart,” she said. “If we go to a point where we cut off parts of the world from each other, it will be the poor in rich countries and it will be the poor countries that will bear the brunt of the impact of it.

Uncertainty remained high and more economic shocks were possible, she said, warning that high debt levels and liquidity concerns could amplify the rapid and disorderly repricing of assets on financial markets.”

 

Hans Petter Midttun: In the article ‘They Are in a Panic’: Ukraine’s Troops Size Up the Enemy” (The New York Times) a Ukrainian battalion commander shared some of his experiences from the liberation of Kharkiv oblast.

Some of the Russians, demotivated and scared, and some hungry, were ready to give themselves up. But some kept fighting, believing Russian indoctrination that the Ukrainians would torture and kill them if they allowed themselves to be captured. On one occasion a Russian soldier pulled the pin of a grenade and killed himself, saying he would never let himself be taken prisoner, Swat said. “We jumped to him but we were too late,” he said. “So they are also brave soldiers, and they are afraid.”

 

 

 

A platoon commander named Boris elaborated:

For all the recent defeats, he said, he does not think the Russian army is by any means broken. “They will fight, they continue to fight,” he said. “It’s the Slavic mentality: to fight for your friends. They also have friends who died.”

He and his men all voiced concern about the mobilization in Russia, and the new strength it would bring to the Russian side. The Ukrainian Army is growing stronger, but it is not yet where it needs to be, Swat said. “For all these small victories, it was a very, very tough time,” he said of the last seven months of the war. “Slowly we recover, but we are not there yet. And Russia has a lot of power, and it is unlimited in its weapons.”

As winter is approaching, the dynamic will change. A freezing cold winter of the past or a mild winter like this year will have an impact on both Russia’s and Ukraine’s ability to manoeuvre or dig in.

The partial mobilization of 300,000 Russian men will to some degree influence the further development of the war. The mobilisation will, however, not alter the fundamental flaws of the Russian Armed Forces. Mark Hertling summarized this brilliantly when arguing that in 2 months it is impossible to:

  • “train” combined arms warfare, especially for large formations;
  • “teach” Generals, Colonels and new Sergeants the tenets of leadership;
  • “fix” a supply system that has been plagued with corruption for years;
  • “coordinate” tankers, infantry, artillery, intel, engineers, air forces and others for battlefield operations;
  • “counter distrust” soldiers have in the Russian government;
  • issue equipment, uniforms, ammo, food, supplies, and spare parts, that aren’t there (sanctions do work);
  • change culture.

All of this – but especially changing culture, adapting leadership and building trust – takes years, even decades. That’s particularly true after having lost nearly 62,000 soldiers killed in action, and 2-3 times that wounded in action.

There will be no trust. But there will be demonstrations of bravery. There will be armed resistance. They will fight to retain the territory they have occupied for lack of other options. The Russian Armed Forces will continue to inflict damage, suffering and death in Ukraine until ordered to stop.

This war will continue until Russia recognises that peace is a better solution than war. It will continue as long as Ukraine is fighting alone, still having critical vulnerabilities and receiving a limited number of weapons and ammunition from the West.

The Russian regime might last for decades or it might be gone by Tuesday. Putin will remain president until he suddenly finds himself evicted. Until that happens, the West must convince Putin and the rushists hawks that they cannot possibly win. For a regime that only understands strength and military power, the keywords you are seeking are: Overwhelming force. Humanitarian Intervention. No-Fly Zone. Freedom of Navigation.

The bottom line is that national pride will not allow Russia to be defeated by Ukraine. Withdrawing in the face of a NATO intervention, however, is by far a more acceptable “off-ramp”.

 

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