Russo Ukrainian War. Day 239: Another Russian massive strike on Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure

 

Daily review

Article by: Zarina Zabrisky

The Russian army launched 11 missile and 28 air strikes, carried out more than 68e MLRS attacks, hitting more than 25 settlements. The Russian troops launched another massive strike with cruise missiles and Iranian strike UAVs on civilian infrastructure in Kyiv, Chernihiv, Vinnytsia, Ivano-Frankivsk, Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhia and Mykolaiv Oblasts. Overnight, Uman, Cherkasy Oblast, and Koblevo, Mykolaiv Oblast, were attacked. Russian authorities are likely setting information conditions to justify planned Russian retreats and the loss of significant territory in Kherson Oblast. Russian forces are setting information conditions to conduct a false-flag attack on the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant (HPP). Russia continues to use the guise of civilian “evacuations” as a cover for the mass forced removal of civilians from Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine. Putin declared martial law in the occupied territories. Russian forces continued to conduct limited assaults to recapture lost territory in northeastern Kharkiv Oblast. Russian military officials continued to forcibly mobilize Ukrainian residents of Russian-occupied territories.

Daily overview — Summary report, October 20

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 06.00 am, October 20, 2022 is in the dropdown menu below

Situation in Ukraine. October 19, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Situation in Ukraine. October 19, 2022. Source: ISW.

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The two hundred-thirty-ninths (239) day of the heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people to a russian military large-scale invasion continues.
The enemy is trying to keep the temporarily captured territories, concentrates efforts on restraining the actions of the Defence Forces in certain directions, at the same time, it does not abandon attempts to conduct offensive actions in the Bakhmut and Avdiivka directions.
Donetsk Battle Map. October 19, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Donetsk Battle Map. October 19, 2022. Source: ISW.

During the day, units of the Defence Forces repelled the attacks of the occupiers in the areas of settlements of Bilohorivka, Luhansk oblast; Bakhmut, Bakhmutske, Klishchiivka, Krasnohorivka, Novomykhailivka, Nevelske, Opytne and Maryinka of the Donetsk oblast.
The enemy is shelling the positions of our troops along the contact line, carrying out engineering equipment of defensive positions and lines in separate directions and conducting aerial reconnaissance. Violating the norms of International Humanitarian Law, the laws and customs of war, it continues to strike critical infrastructure and the homes of the civilian population.
During the day, the enemy launched eleven missile and twenty-eight air strikes, carried out more than sixty-five MLRS attacks.
Areas of more than twenty-five settlements were hit by the enemy. These are, in particular, Burshtyn in the Ivano-Frankivsk oblast, Ladyzhyn in the Vinnytsia oblast, Zelenodolsk in the Dnipropetrovsk oblast, Siversk, Sloviansk and Terny in the Donetsk oblast, Znachkove in the Zaporizhzhia oblast, and Davydiv Brid in the Kherson oblast. For their crimes, the occupiers used cruise, aviation and anti-aircraft guided missiles. In addition, the enemy launched more than ten Iranian-made Shahed-136 unmanned aerial vehicles, more than half of which were from the territory of the republic of belarus.
The situation has not changed significantly in the Volyn, Polissya and Siversky directions.
The enemy shelled in other directions:
Kharkiv Battle Map. October 19, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Kharkiv Battle Map. October 19, 2022. Source: ISW.

in the Slobozhansk direction – from artillery of various calibers, in the areas of the settlements of Hoptivka, Hryanykivka, Kolodyazne, Krasne, Ohirtseve and Strilecha of the Kharkiv oblast;
in the Kupyansk and Lyman directions – from barrel and rocket artillery, in the areas of the settlements of Berestove, Kyslivka, Pershotravneve of the Kharkiv oblast; Kovalivka, Novoyehoryvka, Novolyubivka in the Luhansk oblast and Zarichne, Terny and Torske in the Donetsk oblast;
in the Bakhmut direction – from tanks and artillery, in the areas of Andriivka, Bakhmut, Bakhmutske, Bilohorivka, Zelenopillya, Klishchiivka, Kurdyumivka, Pivnichne, Mayorsk, New York, Soledar and Yakovlivka settlements of the Donetsk oblast;
in the Avdiivka direction – from tanks, mortars, barrel and jet artillery, in the areas of Avdiivka, Vodyane, Pervomaiske, Opytne, Krasnohorivka, Maryinka, and Novomykhailivka settlements of the Donetsk oblast.
The enemy did not conduct active offensive actions in the Novopavlivskyi and Zaporizhzhia directions. Fired in the areas of more than 20 settlements along the entire contact line. Among them are Velyka Novosilka, Vremivka, Vuhledar, Zolota Nyva of the Donetsk oblast and Mykilske, Orihiv and Chervone of the Zaporizhzhia oblast.
The enemy continues to set up defensive positions in the South Buh direction. Russian enemy are shelling populated areas along the entire contact line to deter a counteroffensive of Ukrainian troops.
According to available information, reinforcements from the number of mobilized persons have arrived in the temporarily occupied territory of Luhansk oblast. Numerous cases of robberies and looting are noted. It is possible that a significant number of the mentioned imprisoned contingent arrived from penitentiary places.
According to preliminary information, the leaders of iran and the russian federation have agreed to send advisers and instructors on the use of attack UAVs to the territory of the russian federation. In particular, it is known about the training of the operators of the existing “Shahed-136” UAVs and the promising “Arash-2” UAVs.
Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. October, 19, 2022. Source: ISW. ~

Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. October, 19, 2022. Source: ISW.

There is a high probability that the russian occupiers will fire on the civilian population of the Kherson oblast. Thus, on the morning of October 19, 2022, in the temporarily occupied territory, messages were sent out calling for the evacuation of the population of Nova Kakhovka, allegedly in connection with the preparation of shelling by units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
According to detailed information, as a result of the strikes of the Defence Forces during the last few days, it was confirmed that enemy personnel and equipment were damaged in Zaporizhzhia oblast – up to 150 servicemen were injured and about 15 units of weapons and military equipment were destroyed.
Air Defence Forces have carried out ten strikes during the past day. The defeat of six areas of concentration of weapons and military equipment, as well as four positions of the enemy’s anti-aircraft missile systems, was confirmed. Air defence units shot down six cruise missiles, one Ka-52 helicopter and sixteen UAVs, fourteen of them “Shahed-136”. Iranian production.
Units of missile troops and artillery hit three control points, six areas of concentration of manpower, weapons and military equipment, one ammunition depot, an Electronic Warfare station and six other important objects, including a bridge and an enemy pontoon crossing.

Military Updates

Shelling by Russian troops. Icelandic Data Analyst. ~

Shelling by Russian troops. Icelandic Data Analyst.

Ukrainian military shot down 223 Shahed-136 in 36 days. For the first time, an Iranian kamikaze drone was shot down on September 13 in Kupyansk in the Kharkiv Oblast. Earlier, the head of Ukrainian intelligence, Budanov, said that Ukraine shoots down 70% of drones flying to Ukraine.
The occupiers do not abandon attempts to conduct offensive operations in the Bakhmut and Avdeevsky directions – the main thing from the summary of the General Staff on the evening of October 19:
During the day, the enemy launched 4 missile and 11 air strikes, made more than 10 attacks from multiple launch rocket systems.
The Russian troops launched another massive strike with cruise missiles and Iranian strike UAVs on civilian infrastructure in Kyiv, Chernihiv, Vinnytsia, Ivano-Frankivsk, Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhia and Mykolaiv Oblasts. Overnight, Uman, Cherkasy Oblast, and Koblevo, Mykolaiv Oblast, were attacked.   Air defense units shot down 4 cruise missiles, one Ka-52 helicopter, and 13 Shahed-136 UAVs.
 The ex-CIA director David Petraeus spoke about the solutions for confronting drone attacks and NATO’s actions in the event of a Russian nuclear strike. He shared the US experience in Syria. The partners should decide on the supply of F-16s to Ukraine soon.

Regional Updates

In Chernihiv Oblast, as a result of strikes by kamikaze drones, 3 injured.

In Ivano-Frankivsk, the Burshtyn TPP was attacked and a fire broke out. No casualties reported.
In Vinnytsia Oblast, a power facility, was hit.  Power outages reported.
In Zaporizhzhia Oblast, Russian troops attacked a critical infrastructure facility with S300 missiles. A fire broke out at the facility and was extinguished by rescuers. No casualties reported.
Heavy shelling in Energodar reported. The city has electricity and water outage. One of the substations and the building of the city executive committee are damaged. No casualties reported.
In Mykolaiv Oblast, Ukrainian army destroyed 13 Shahed-136 Iranian kamikaze drones.
Putin introduced martial law in the occupied territories of Ukraine. during the last Security Council of the Russian Federation. A few points:
  •  The so-called “governors” will receive additional powers to ensure security in the regions.
  •  Response measures under martial law will be determined by the “heads of the D/LPR”, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson Oblasts.
  •  It was “the Ukrainian special services that organized the explosion on the Crimean bridge.”
  •  The Kyiv “regime refused to negotiate,” continues to shell “new Russian territories” using “terrorist methods.”

In the Russian Federation, in Belgorod, a substation was on fire again. Partial power outage.

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

  • On 18 October 2022, recently appointed commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, General Sergei Surovikin, told Russian media that ‘a difficult situation has emerged’ in the Kherson area. He endorsed the previously announced plans of the occupation authorities to evacuate the civilian population.
  • As the overall operational commander, Surovikin’s announcement highlighting negative news about the ‘special military operation’ is highly unusual. It likely indicates that the Russian authorities are seriously considering a major withdrawal of their forces from the area west of the Dnipro river.
  • A key challenge of any Russian withdrawal operation would be extracting troops and their equipment across the 1000m wide river in good order. With all the permanent bridges severely damaged, Russia would highly likely rely heavily on a temporary barge bridge it completed near Kherson in recent days, and military pontoon ferry units, which continue to operate at several locations.

Losses of the Russian army 

As of 20 October, the approximate losses of weapons and military equipment of the Russian Armed Forces from the beginning of the war to the present day:

Humanitarian 

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1582793707564285969

Environmental 

EU gas storage facilities are 92% full, according to the Head of the European Commission Ursula Von der Leyen. The share of Russian gas in the European market has decreased to 9%. “In the spring, we assumed that the refusal of Russian gas would take seven years. Today, the facts are that it took us only eight months to replace two-thirds of the supplies,” said Von der Leyen. Russia’s oil revenues have fallen to their lowest point in 2022.

Legal 

Support 

US industry ramps up production of HIMARS amid escalating war in Ukraine. Lockheed Martin plans to increase production of HIMARS “as Russia continues to sow instability in the region.” The company is poised to increase HIMARS production to 96 launchers a year from its current level of 60 launchers. Lockheed Martin is also considering expanding its Camden, Arkansas facility as demand continues to rise. The US Army is also putting pressure on Lockheed to further increase production. Purchasing chief Douglas Bush told reporters last month that the branch aims to “doubling or more than doubling” productivity, but said it would take time. This means that Lockheed could be asked to increase production to 120 HIMARS launchers a year.

New Developments 

The Ukrainian people and President Zelenskyy received the Andrey Sakharov Prize of the European Parliament “For Freedom of Thought.” Among the contenders were: “the brave people of Ukraine, represented by the elected President Volodymyr Zelensky”, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and the Colombian Truth Commission. The Sakharov Prize was approved by the European Parliament in 1988 and is awarded to individuals “who have made an exceptional contribution to the fight for human rights around the globe.”

Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of 19 October, 2022:

Russian authorities are likely setting information conditions to justify planned Russian retreats and significant territorial losses in Kherson Oblast. Commander of Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine Army General Sergey Surovikin reported during an appearance on Russian television that the Russian military leadership has to make “difficult decisions” regarding Kherson Oblast and accused Ukraine of planning to strike civilian and residential infrastructure in Kherson Oblast.[1] Kherson Occupation Head Vladimir Saldo relatedly noted that his administration is evacuating the west bank of the Dnipro River in anticipation of a “large-scale” Ukrainian offensive.[2] Surovikin‘s and Saldo’s statements are likely attempts to set information conditions for a full Russian retreat across the Dnipro River, which would cede Kherson City and other significant territory in Kherson Oblast to advancing Ukrainian troops. Russian military leaders have evidently learned from previous informational and operational failures during the recent Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kharkiv Oblast and are therefore likely attempting to mitigate the informational and operational consequences of failing to defend against another successful Ukrainian advance.

Russian forces are also setting information conditions to conduct a false-flag attack on the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant (HPP). The Russian military may believe that breaching the dam could cover their retreat from the right bank of the Dnipro River and prevent or delay Ukrainian advances across the river. Surovikin claimed on October 18 that he has received information that Kyiv intends to strike the dam at the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant (HPP), which he alleged would cause destructive flooding in Kherson Oblast.[3] Saldo echoed this claim and warned that Ukrainian forces intend to strike dams upstream of Kherson City.[4] Russian authorities likely intend these warnings about a purported Ukrainian strike on the Kakhovka HPP to set information conditions for Russian forces to damage the dam and blame Ukraine for the subsequent damage and loss of life, all while using the resulting floods to cover their own retreat further south into Kherson Oblast. The Kremlin could attempt to leverage such a false-flag attack to overshadow the news of a third humiliating retreat for Russian forces, this time from western Kherson. Such an attack would also further the false Russian information operation portraying Ukraine as a terrorist state that deliberately targets civilians.

Russia continues to use the guise of civilian “evacuations” as a cover for the mass forced removal of civilians from Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine. Saldo’s announcement of a mass withdrawal from the west bank of the Dnipro River is likely intended in part to evacuate Russian occupation officials, collaborators, and other occupation organs in anticipation of imminent Ukrainian advances, but Russian officials are likely also using the façade of humanitarian necessity to deport large populations of Ukrainians to Russia, as ISW has previously reported. Russia does not appear to reap any economic benefits from resettling tens of thousands of unwilling Ukrainians in Russia, suggesting that the purpose of such removals is both to damage Ukraine’s long-term economic recovery as it retakes its territory and, more importantly, to support Russia’s ethnic cleansing campaign, which is attempting to eradicate the Ukrainian ethnicity and culture.[5]  The Russians may also intend to press “evacuated” Ukrainians into their armed forces, offsetting the losses and failures of the partial mobilization.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s October 19 declaration of martial law readiness is largely legal theater meant to legitimize activities the Russian military needs to undertake or is already undertaking while creating a framework for future mobilization and domestic restrictions.[6] Putin declared varying levels of “martial law readiness” across Russia and in Russian-occupied Ukrainian territories. These declarations outline four levels of readiness, ranging from “maximum” (full-scale martial law in Russian-occupied Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts) to “basic” (across all of Russia).[7]

Mobilization in the Russian Federation. Source: ISW. ~

Mobilization in the Russian Federation. Source: ISW.

Putin did not formally declare martial law outside of Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, and Luhansk oblasts, but instead directed areas outside Ukraine to build out the legal framework necessary to support Russian mobilization.[8] Putin’s speech framed the declaration of martial law in four Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine as a continuation of the wartime status quo, adjusted to Russian legal frameworks after Russia’s illegal annexation of those territories.[9] Putin’s decree did not spell out immediate next steps under martial law or elevated readiness levels but granted sweeping emergency powers to regional governors and gave local authorities until October 22 to develop and submit specific proposals for those next steps. Additional information will become apparent as regional governors and law enforcement submit and implement those proposals, which will likely be directed at least in part by the Kremlin but laundered through local authorities. Putin also left himself a path to expand his declarations of martial law, noting that “If necessary, in the Russian Federation during the period of martial law, other measures provided for by the [federal law covering martial law] may be applied.”[10] That language leaves open the door for future declarations and expansions of government authorities.

Putin’s decrees identified several sectors in which the Russian state will be exerting increasing control:

  • In areas of maximum and medium readiness, the decree calls for unspecified “mobilization measures in the economic sphere,” likely to provide economic and industrial support to Putin’s so-called “partial” mobilization of at least 300,000 Russian men.
  • In all areas, the decree makes provisions for government control of transportation and communications infrastructure as well as increased security around government buildings and other critical infrastructure.
  • In areas of maximum application of martial law (Russian-occupied Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, and Luhansk), the decree calls for the establishment of “territorial defense” headquarters with unspecified roles.
  • In areas of medium and elevated readiness, the decree enables regional leaders to take measures for territorial defense and civil defense.
  • In areas of medium readiness, the decree enables governments to forcibly “temporarily resettle” civilians.
  • The decree also includes vague language for each category, authorizing local authorities to “implement measures to meet the needs of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, other troops, military formations, bodies and needs of the population.” Such language could be used to legalize almost any government action.
  • In areas of elevated, medium, and maximum readiness, the decree allows for restricting movements of people and vehicles. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yevgeny Ivanov claimed on October 19 that the government does not currently intend to restrict movement out of the country.[11] However, Putin’s decree would likely provide legal cover for the implementation of such restrictions without passing additional decrees.

These moves closer to full-scale martial law are unsurprising but disordered—a competent modern military should implement economic mobilization, secure lines of transportation, and coordinate territorial defense before or as initial mobilization for war begins, not as follow-on reserve mobilization nears its completion (Putin announced on October 14 that his “partial” mobilization would end by early November).[12] These moves are likely necessary to fulfill basic military requirements, such as feeding, housing, equipping, and transporting mobilized and conscripted troops to the front lines; forcing defense contractors or other private businesses to align with government production requirements; and more easily controlling both the Russian population and the Ukrainian civilian populations in Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine.

Putin has slow-rolled his introduction of legal concepts and frameworks like military and economic mobilization, annexation, and martial law to the Russian population since September, attempting to normalize these concepts and limit domestic dissent. Putin likely understands that these measures are unpopular but may be counting on an upswell of fatalistic patriotism as more Russian families and businesses become tied to, and implicated in, the war in Ukraine. By gradually introducing additional measures, he likely also intends to work out likely unsolvable bureaucratic flaws in the Russian system, creating a more competent bureaucracy to implement the autumn conscription cycle (beginning November 1) as well as likely future waves of mobilization.

Putin also may be setting conditions for a less orthodox kind of under-the-radar mobilization: the creation of Ukrainian-style Territorial Defense Forces. Putin ordered local authorities to create a “territorial defense headquarters” in the four occupied Ukrainian oblasts and empowered local governors to undertake unspecified “territorial defense activities” in medium and elevated readiness areas (largely territories that border or are near Ukraine). This preparation likely serves at least two purposes: creating a legal framework for the forcible mobilization of Ukrainian civilians in Russian-occupied territories, as ISW has forecasted, and at least experimenting with a new kind of Russian military force.[13] Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces played a critical role in the defense of Kyiv and the recapture of other key Ukrainian cities. Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces are composed of a core of veterans and part-time reservists, largely officers, but can be built out by civilian volunteers in wartime who are then led by the officer corps.

Wagner financier Yevgeny Prigozhin may also be driving Putin toward unconventional methods of continuing the war. Prigozhin announced on October 19 that he sent senior Wagner commander Andrey Bogatov to Belgorod Oblast within the last two weeks to “create a people’s militia.” Prigozhin claimed that Wagner instructors will teach this “people’s militia” to “defend the borders of the oblast.”[14] The term he used for “people’s militia” (narodnoe opolcheniye) has a long history in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union but is essentially an irregular and untrained force that fights behind the frontlines or beside a conventional army. Prigozhin may be attempting to draw upon the historical notion of a people’s militia fighting a great patriotic war to reinvigorate Russian enthusiasm for the invasion of Ukraine, a notion that may appeal to the historically-minded Putin. However, Prigozhin’s proposed Belgorod People’s Militia is not apparently similar to the more structured Territorial Defense Forces and uses different language, suggesting at least rhetorical tension between the Kremlin’s and Prigozhin’s visions.

Prigozhin is also continuing efforts to set himself and Wagner Group forces apart from conventional Russian military elements. The Russian outlet RIA claimed that Wagner engineering units are actively building a fortified “Wagner Line” that runs adjacent to territories in Luhansk and Donetsk Oblasts.[15] Prigozhin reportedly stated that the construction of the “Wagner Line” is meant to protect other elements of the Russian Armed Forces while Wagner units capture more territory in Donetsk Oblast.[16] Prigozhin’s statements indicate that he is likely continuing to promote Wagner units as superior to conventional Russian Armed Forces in a bid to increase his influence among Kremlin officials. Russian outlet RIA published a supposed map of the “Wagner line” that suggests that Prigozhin and Wagner forces may expect the Russian military to lose considerable territory in Luhansk Oblast, putting Prigozhin’s publicity of the line at odds with the specious Kremlin narrative that Russia will hold all of Luhansk Oblast.[17]

Key Takeaways

  • Russian authorities are likely setting information conditions to justify planned Russian retreats and the loss of significant territory in Kherson Oblast.
  • Russian forces are setting information conditions to conduct a false-flag attack on the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant (HPP); the Russian military may believe that breaching the dam could cover their retreat from the right bank of the Dnipro River and prevent or delay Ukrainian advances across the river.
  • Russia continues to use the guise of civilian “evacuations” as a cover for the mass forced removal of civilians from Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin’s October 19 declaration of martial law readiness is largely legal theater meant to legitimize activities the Russian military needs to undertake or is already undertaking while creating a framework for future mobilization and domestic restrictions.
  • Wagner financier Yevgeny Prigozhin is continuing efforts to set himself and Wagner Group forces apart from conventional Russian military elements.
  • Russian forces continued to conduct limited assaults to recapture lost territory in northeastern Kharkiv Oblast.
  • Russian and Ukrainian forces reportedly continued to conduct assaults in the Kreminna-Svatove area.
  • Russian sources widely claimed that Ukrainian troops conducted another offensive push in northwestern Kherson Oblast.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin passed a decree on October 19 seeking to address Russian military personnels’ ongoing concerns about timely payments and setting the blame on Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and Finance Minister Anton Siluanov for future payment issues.
  • The Russian parliament proposed legal measures that would allow Russian authorities to minimize the domestic impacts of partial mobilization in potential future mobilization waves.
  • Russian military officials continued to forcibly mobilize Ukrainian residents of Russian-occupied territories to labor or fight on behalf of the Russian military.

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