Russo Ukrainian War. Day 250: Russians blew up bridge in Luhansk Oblast to slow Ukrainian advancement in the area

 

Daily review

Russian forces destroyed a bridge over the Krasna River in Krasnorichenske, Luhansk Oblast. Russia may use Iranian ballistic missiles against Ukraine starting in November.  Russian mobilization strongly suggests that Russia intends to keep fighting into 2023. Blinken accused Moscow of weaponizing food. There are about 4,300 Russian troops in Belarus. Over 61,000 crimes have been registered in Ukraine as part of the Russian invasion. Russia adds British overseas territories to its list of “unfriendly countries.” Ukraine’s Air Force picks pilots for training on Western-type fighter jets.

Daily overview — Summary report, November 1

A map by War Mapper of the approximate situation on the ground in Ukraine as of 00:00 UTC 31/10/22. ~

A map by War Mapper of the approximate situation on the ground in Ukraine as of 00:00 UTC 31/10/22.

Military updates

According to information from Ukraine’s General Staff as of 06.00 31.10.2022, supplemented by its [18:00 assessment]:

“Russian forces are trying to hold the temporarily captured territories, concentrating efforts on restraining the actions of the Defense Forces in certain directions, while at the same time not stopping offensive operations in the Bakhmut and Avdiivka directions.

During the day, units of the Defense Forces of Ukraine repelled the attacks of the occupiers in the areas of Zelene settlements of the Kharkiv region; Biloрorivka, Mykolaivka and Novoselivske in the Luhansk oblast; Avdiivka, Bakhmutske, Vesele, Vodyane, Mayorsk, Maryinka and Novobakhmutivka of the Donetsk oblast.

Russian forces continue shelling units of the Defense Forces along the contact line, carry out fortification equipment of the lines in separate directions and conduct aerial reconnaissance. Strikes critical infrastructure and civilian homes, violating international humanitarian law, laws and customs of war.

Over the past 24 hours, Russian forces have launched 4 missile strikes, 5 airstrikes and more than 90 MLRS attacks.

Areas of more than 20 settlements were hit by enemy attacks. Among them are Kupyansk in Kharkiv oblast, Siversk in Donetsk oblast, Nova Kamianka in Kherson oblast and Bereznehguvate and Ochakiv in Mykolaiv oblast.

In the Volyn and Polissya directions, the situation remains without significant changes. The Republic of Belarus supports the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukrainians. The Russian Federation continues to transfer individual units to the territory of this country. The threat of missile strikes and the use of attack UAVs from the territory of the Republic of Belarus remains.

Russian forces shelled in other directions:

  • in the Siversky direction – from mortars and artillery, in the areas of the settlements of Halahanivka, Chernihiv oblast, and Pokrovka, Sumy oblast;
  • in the Slobozhanskyi direction – from tanks, mortars, artillery and MLRS, in the areas of Hatishche, Kamianka, Krasne, Ohirtseve and Starytsa settlements of the Kharkiv oblast;
  • in the Kupyansk and Lyman directions – from artillery of various types, in the areas of Tabayivka and Terny settlements of the Kharkiv oblast; Hrekivka, Kovalivka, Karmazynivka, Makiivka, Novoyehorivka, Nevske, Ploschanka and Chervonopopivka in Luhansk oblast and Zarichne and Yampolivka in Donetsk oblast;
  • in the Bakhmut direction – from tanks, mortars, artillery and MLRS in the areas of Andriivka, Bakhmut, Bakhmutske, Bilohorivka, Mayorsk, Opytne, Verkhnyokamianske, Siversk, Soledar, Spirne and Yakovlivka settlements of the Donetsk oblast;
  • in the Avdiivka directions – from tanks and artillery of various calibres, in the areas of Avdiivka, Vodyane, Krasnohorivka, Maryinka, Novomykhailivka, and Pervomaiske settlements of the Donetsk oblast;
  • in the Novopavlivsky and Zaporizhzhia directions – from tanks, mortars, artillery and MLRS, in the areas of Vremivka, Vuhledar, Mykilske, Pavlivka, Paraskoviivka and Prechystivka settlements of the Donetsk oblast and Dorozhnyanka, Malynivka, Novodanylivka, Olhivske and Pavlivka in the Zaporizhzhia oblast.
  • In the Pivdennyy Buh direction about 20 settlements along the contact line were hit by fire. Among them are Bilohirka, Davydiv Brid, Myrne, Nova Kamianka, Pravdyne and Chervone in the Kherson oblast and Kiselivka and Ternovi Pody in the Mykolaiv oblast.

In the temporarily occupied territory of the Kherson oblast, the occupiers continue to dismantle and remove the equipment of cellular communication towers to the Donetsk oblast in order to establish and expand the coverage of the so-called national communication operators.

[The occupation authorities of the temporarily occupied territory of the Kherson region are trying to create conditions unsuitable for the local civilian population in the controlled territory. Thus, in Nova Kakhovka, since October 29 of this year, access to the Internet has been turned off and, through loudspeakers, they are spreading information about the need to leave the region within 48 hours due to the threat of allegedly missile strikes by the Armed Forces of Ukraine.]

[Medical personnel of local hospitals and operational services of the city are subject to priority so-called “evacuation”. In addition, the occupation authorities issued a decree obliging entrepreneurs to sell off all food products and close shops and markets from November 1, 2022.]

Preparations for the evacuation of individual units and military equipment of Russian forces from the right-bank part of the Kherson region are ongoing. For this purpose, the availability of watercraft of the river fleet is verified, pontoon crossings are installed, and the serviceability and readiness of barges are periodically checked. The other day, two of them were successfully destroyed by units of the Defense Forces of Ukraine in the area of ​​the Antonivsky Bridge.

[According to available information, Russian forces are taking preparatory measures to withdraw artillery units from the right-bank part of the Kherson region, with their subsequent possible transfer to other directions.]

According to detailed information, damage to Russian manpower and equipment in the previous days has been confirmed. Thus, in the Kherson oblast, a column of enemy military equipment was destroyed, in Zaporizhzhia – an ammunition depot, 5 units of weapons and military equipment of various types were destroyed and wounded to 120 military personnel.

During the day, the aviation of the Defense Forces struck Russian forces 21 times, of which: 15 – on the areas of concentration of weapons and military equipment, 2 – on platoon strongholds, and 4 – on the positions of Russian air defence complexes. In different directions, our air defence units shot down 1 enemy helicopter and 1 Su-25 attack aircraft.

Over the past day, soldiers of the missile troops and artillery hit the control post and the anti-aircraft missile installation.“

Russians blow up bridges due to the approach of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Serhii Haidai, the head of Luhansk Oblast Military Administration, has stated that the Russian occupiers blew up a bridge over the Krasna River near the village of Krasnorichenske in Luhansk Oblast because they were afraid that Ukraine’s Armed Forces were closing in. He also added that the occupiers had blown up another bridge near Kreminna (Luhansk Oblast) on 29 October.

Russian troops are blowing up bridges in Luhansk Oblast and placing landmines to prevent Ukrainian advances

Haidai stated that the Russian command tasked its troops with stopping the advance of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, but the weather was getting better, so things would speed up for the defenders. 

The head of Luhansk Oblast Military Administration noted that the Russians systematically attack Bilohorivka, and after that they send troops ahead to scout, but these “traditionally do not return”. 

Heavy fighting is also taking place on the Svatove front. The route between Svatove and Kreminna is under the fire control of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, so the Russians cannot receive reinforcements and new ammunition in these areas of the contact zone quickly. According to Haidai, almost everything around Kreminna and Svatove was mined, including riverbanks, roads and bridges.”

Invaders mine all outskirts of Sievierodonetsk, preparing for defence, Ukrinform reports. “In the temporarily captured Sievierodonetsk, Luhansk region, the number of Russian troops preparing for the Ukrainian offensive has increased significantly, with the biggest threat to the Ukrainian military being the total mining of the surrounding areas. That’s according to Oleksandr Striuk, who chairs the Sievierodonetsk City Military and Civilian Administration, who spoke on the air of Kyiv TV.

Preparations for defences are and will probably pose quite serious problems for our military, as everything around is being mined, defence lines are being built, and some structures are being erected – it’s hard to say whether it’s being done professionally, but some efforts are being made. The biggest threat is the mining of all the outskirts, said Striuk.”

Anti-aircraft units shoot down Russian attack aircraft in south Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the Ukrainian Air Force Command.  “On 30 October, around 20:00 on the southern front, an anti-aircraft missile unit of the Air Force shot down a Russian Su-25 attack aircraft. It was reported that the Ukrainian Air Force also shot down a Russian combat helicopter in Kharkiv Oblast on Sunday.”

The most prepared and combat-ready Russian units are located in Kherson, the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine (DIU) reports. “The most prepared and combat-capable Russian units are located in Kherson. [This includes] airborne troops, special forces and marines. These are the most combat-ready units in Russia. These units form the backbone of the group, which is also strengthened by mobilised [personnel].

The combat component, i.e. units that can pose any danger to us, is approximately 40,000. […] These are [deployed] to Kherson, in the areas of the western bank of the Dnieper, as well […] on the eastern bank,” Kyrylo Budanov said.”

Three Russian missile carriers remain combat-ready in the Black Sea, Ukrinform reports. “Three Russian missile carriers with a total volley of 24 Kalibr-type cruise missiles are remaining combat-ready in the Black Sea. The relevant statement was made by the Naval Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Russian forces is enhancing air defence and anti-submarine sabotage defence measures, as the minesweeper, Ivan Golubets was hit at the outer anchorage at the port of Sevastopol, the report states. In the Sea of Azov, Russian forces continue to control maritime communications, keeping up to three warships and boats combat-ready. In the Mediterranean Sea, there are 13 Russian warships, including five Kalibr-type cruise missile carriers.”

According to British Defence Intelligence (last 48 hours):

  • Russia has deployed several thousand newly mobilised reservists to the front line in Ukraine since mid-October. In many cases they are poorly equipped. In September, Russian officers were concerned that some recently mobilised reservists were arriving in Ukraine without weapons.
  • Open source images suggest that those rifles which have been issued to mobilised reservists are typically AKMs, a weapon first introduced in 1959. Many are likely in barely usable condition following poor storage. AKM fires 7.62mm ammunition while Russia’s regular combat units are mostly armed with 5.45mm AK-74M or AK-12 rifles.
  • The integration of reservists with contract soldiers and combat veterans in Ukraine will mean Russian logisticians will have to push two types of small arms ammunition to front line positions, rather than one. This will likely further complicate Russia’s already strained logistics systems.
  • On 27 October 2022, Russian mogul Yevgeny Prigozhin posted online, apparently admitting allegations that his private military company, the Wagner Group, had altered its standards & was recruiting Russian convicts suffering from serious diseases including HIV & Hepatitis C.
  • The role of Wagner Group has evolved significantly since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In previous conflicts, it maintained relatively high recruitment standards, with many of its operators having previously served as professional Russian soldiers. The admission of prisoners with serious medical concerns highlights an approach which now prioritises numbers over experience or quality.
  • Prigozhin’s has recently discussed plans to create a 200km long defensive ‘Wagner Line’ in eastern Ukraine. This endeavour would require a large labour force. There is a realistic possibility that some of the convict recruits will initially be put to work constructing the defences.

As of Monday 31, the approximate losses of weapons and military equipment of the Russian Armed Forces from the beginning of the invasion to the present day:

  • Personnel – more than 71820 (+620),
  • Tanks – 2686 (+14),
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 5485 (+32),
  • Artillery systems – 1728 (+4),
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 383 (+0),
  • Air defence means – 197 (+0),
  • Aircraft – 275 (+1),
  • Helicopters – 253 (+1),
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 4128 (+8),
  • Vessels/boats – 16 (+0),
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 1413 (+1),
  • Special equipment – 154 (+0),
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0),
  • Cruise missiles – 352 (+0)

Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 250: Russians blew up bridge in Luhansk Oblast to slow Ukrainian advancement in the area ~~

The occupiers suffered the biggest losses in the Avdiivka and Lyman directions, according to the General Staff.

Already in November, the Russian Federation may use Iranian ballistic missiles against Ukraine, nv.ua reports. “Russia may use Iranian short-range ballistic missiles against Ukraine as early as November. These are Fateh-110 and Zolfaghar SRBM missiles. This was stated by the head of the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine (DIU), Kyrylo Budanov, in an interview with The Drive.

I believe that probably next month [in November] we will see them being used here [in Ukraine], Budanov said. The Russian Federation has exhausted its stocks of Iskanders, but the aggressor country still has Kh-22 and S-300 missiles — Air Force.

According to him, this is a serious threat to Ukraine. “Iranian missiles, unlike Russian ones, have a quite high accuracy and very high speed. And these characteristics have been tested in battles,” explained the head of Ukrainian intelligence. It is about Iranian short-range ballistic missiles Fateh-110 and Zolfaghar. They are capable of hitting targets at a distance of 300 and 700 km.”

Russian officials massively flee abroad to avoid mobilisation, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Russian government officials and members of the Moscow City Hall are saving themselves from mobilisation by fleeing abroad, as reported by the media. Nastoyashchee Vremya reports about the departure of the employees of the Ministry of Education of Russia, the Ministry of Digital Development, and the Central Bank of Russia. Some departments of the Moscow City Hall are missing 20-30% of their staff. Officials go on vacation and do not come back.”

Dutch high-tech sector unconsciously supplies technology to Russia, Ukrinform reports, citing NOS. “Dutch high-tech companies unwittingly sell their technology to firms founded by the Russian military intelligence agency. This is confirmed by a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense after statements on the issue, voiced by Jan Swillens, head of the Military Intelligence and Security Service (MIVD).

According to Swillens, the Russian secret service has set up dozens of firms that operate in the Netherlands as ‘front companies’ to evade Western sanctions. Those companies buy technology only to smuggle it to Russia for military purposes, the official says.”

Humanitarian

UN World Food Program ship blocked in Ukrainian port due to Russia’s actions, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “A ship with grain for Ethiopia within the framework of the UN World Food Program could not leave the Ukrainian port on Sunday due to the actions of the Russian Federation. It was reported by Oleksandr Kubrakov, the Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine, on Twitter.

He noted that the ship Ikaria Angel with 40,000 tons of grain for Ethiopia was supposed to leave the Ukrainian port today as part of the UN World Food Program (WFP).

The minister added that these products were intended for the people of Ethiopia, who are on the verge of starvation. However, due to the blocking of the Black Sea Grain Initiative [an agreement brokered by the UN with Russia and Türkiye launched on 22 July to enable ships to transport grain from Ukraine – ed.]  by the Russian Federation, export is currently impossible.“

Russia blocks 218 ships participating in ‘grain initiative’, Ukrinform reports. “Due to the fact that, as of October 30, the Ukrainian side does not have permits from the Joint Coordination Center to pass through the safe corridor and carry out inspections, 218 vessels are actually blocked in their current positions, the press service of the Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine posted on Facebook.

In particular, 95 ships were already loaded and left Ukrainian ports awaiting inspection for heading to the final consumer; 101 empty ships are awaiting inspection at the entrance to Ukrainian ports; 22 loaded ships are waiting to leave Ukrainian ports.”

Ukraine’s foreign minister explains why the attack on Russian warships is merely a pretext for Russia’s withdrawal from the grain deal, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “By suspending its participation in the grain deal on a false pretext of explosions 220 kilometres away from the grain corridor, Russia is blocking 2 million tonnes of grain on 176 vessels already at sea — enough to feed over 7 million people.

Russia planned this [its withdrawal from the initiative] well in advance. The current queue with grain has been accumulating in the Black Sea since September, when Russia started deliberately delaying the functioning of the corridor and seeking to undermine the deal. Russia took the decision to resume its hunger games long ago and is now trying to justify it, [Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said].”

Environmental

Russian occupation forces plant twice as many mines now as they did in Kyiv Oblast – Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Earlier we would talk about clearing mines in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. Now we unfortunately are forced to consider clearing away mines across the majority of our country. Mines have been planted almost everywhere [in the recently liberated territories of Ukraine – ed.].

There, mines have been planted twice as densely as in Kyiv or Chernihiv oblasts. This is of course connected to the duration of the occupation by Russian forces, but also with the fact that they are increasingly using this tactic to prevent our troops from advancing; that is why they are trying to plant mines everywhere.”

The minister said that over the course of the past several months, Ukraine’s State Emergency Service has detected over 250,000 explosive devices, with another 130,000 such devices detected by the National Police.

Legal

Over 61,000 crimes have been registered in Ukraine as part of the Russian invasion, Ukrinform reports. “A total of 61,640 crimes have been registered in Ukraine by law enforcement officers as part of the Russian full-scale invasion. The relevant statement was made by the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office on Telegram.

In particular, a total of 43,003 crimes of aggression and war crimes committed by the Russian military were registered, namely 41,472 crimes related to the breaking of laws and customs of war, 73 crimes related to planning, preparing for, starting and waging an aggressive war, 37 crimes related to the propaganda of war, and 1,421 other crimes.

Additionally, law enforcement officers registered 18,637 crimes against national security, including 12,675 crimes related to the encroachment on the territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine, 1,828 crimes related to state treason, 265 crimes related to collaborative activities, 64 crimes related to the assistance to the aggressor state, 64 crimes related to sabotage, and 649 other crimes.”

Support

Italy and France preparing a decision on radars and air defence systems transfer to Ukraine, Militarnii reports. “Italy has plans to transfer to Ukraine the modern SAMP-T anti-aircraft missile systems together with France. This was reported by the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, which was citing its own sources.

SAMP-T may enter into the sixth package of military assistance to Ukraine, which the Italian government must approve in mid-November. The media, however, notes that intentions to transfer such weapons to Ukraine may face political conflicts. If nevertheless, the decision to supply SAMP-T is made, then Italy will transfer radars and France will transfer launchers. Currently, there are very few such systems — 10 are in service in France and another 5 in Italy.

In addition, Italy can transfer to Ukraine its Spada/Aspide ground-based anti-aircraft missile systems, which have been decommissioned but are still capable of shooting down aircraft and drones.”

Ukraine’s Air Force picks pilots for training on Western-type fighter jets, Ukrinform reports, citing ArmyInform. “A dozen of pilots have already been selected by Ukraine’s Air Force for training on Western fighter jets. That’s according to the spokesman for the Air Force, Yuriy Ihnat. These are young pilots with knowledge of the English language and powerful combat experience, the report reads.

Ihnat noted that the issue of providing Ukraine with Western-type fighter jets, possibly F15s and F16s, remains urgent. Ukrainian pilots are ready to leave for training as soon as tomorrow. It is up to the Western partners, who are to finally decide on the type of aircraft that can be provided to the embattled country.”

Italy handed over M109L, PzH 2000 howitzers and MLRS rocket systems to Ukraine, Liga.net reports. “The Italian government of Mario Draghi quietly transferred a significant amount of heavy weapons to Ukraine, including multiple rocket launchers and self-propelled artillery, according to La Repubblica.

The fifth military assistance package, announced on October 17, in particular, refers to the supply of 20 to 30 M109L self-propelled artillery mounts. This is an Italian version of the American SPG, which was produced at the end of the Cold War and is now in storage. Ukraine is armed with about 50 M109 self-propelled guns from the UK, Norway and Latvia.

According to La Repubblica, as part of military assistance, Italy also donated to Ukraine six PzH 2000 howitzers (out of 68 that it had), two tracked MLRS multiple launch rocket systems (out of 18) and dozens of M113 infantry fighting vehicles.”

EU Can ‘Transfer’ Russia’s Frozen Billions to Compensate Ukraine: Official, Newsweek reports. “European Union (EU) Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said on Saturday that money from frozen Russian assets might be used to compensate Ukraine amid the invasion of the Eastern European country. […]

So far, the assets of 90 people have been frozen, more than 17 billion euros in seven member states, including 2.2 billion euros in Germany, he said on Saturday, according to AFP. If it is criminal money confiscated by the EU, it is possible to transfer it to a compensation fund for Ukraine. With some Ukrainian officials calling for the money to be used to rebuild Ukraine after the mass destruction that was caused by Russia, Reynders said on Saturday that this amount is far from being sufficient to finance reconstruction.”

New developments

  1. Putin is ready for negotiations with the West on certain conditions, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing RIA Novosti and RT. “[We are] ready to talk with the West about reducing tensions, but only if there are realistic proposals based on an equal approach. Lavrov also added that the leadership of Russia, especially Putin, is still ready for negotiations regarding Ukraine. On 27 October, […] Putin, whose armies attacked Ukraine and violated the world order, said that sooner or later the West would have to start a “dialogue on an equal footing.”
  2. Kremlin says Putin and Biden could discuss guarantees of Russia’s security, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing RIA Novosti and RBC. “The desire of the US to listen to our concerns, which is in fact the desire of the US to return to the situation of December 2021-January 2022 and to ask itself the question: what the Russians are offering may not suit us all, but perhaps we should sit down at the negotiating table. I am referring to the draft documents that were submitted to both Brussels and Washington. […] On 17 December 2021, the [Russia] […] published two draft agreements on so-called “security guarantees” that Vladimir Putin demanded from NATO, and which Moscow sent to Washington.”
  3. Ukraine responds to Russian foreign minister: the condition for negotiations is an immediate end to war, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Oleh Nikolenko, spokesman for the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. “The only realistic proposal should be for Russia to immediately end the war against Ukraine and withdraw Russian troops from Ukrainian territory, beyond its borders as of 1991. He added that people who want to negotiate do not destroy the country’s energy system so that its population freezes in winter; they do not engage in mass executions of civilians; do not shell residential areas; do not announce the mobilisation of an additional 300,000 military personnel; do not block grain supplies, and do not push forward any ultimatums.”
  4. U.N. chief delays travel to try to bring Russia back into Black Sea grain deal, Reuters reports. “The head of the United Nations said he was “deeply concerned” by Russia’s decision to suspend its participation in a U.N.-brokered grain deal and delayed a foreign visit to try to revive the agreement, which aims to ease a global food crisis. […] On Saturday, US President Joe Biden called Russia’s move “purely outrageous”, saying it would increase starvation, while Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Moscow of weaponising food.”
  5. NATO calls on Russia to urgently renew Ukraine grain deal, Reuters reports. “NATO on Sunday called on Moscow to urgently renew the U.N.-brokered deal that enabled Ukraine to resume grain exports via the Black Sea amid a global food crisis. President Putin must stop weaponising food and end his illegal war on Ukraine, NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu said. We call on Russia to reconsider its decision and renew the deal urgently, enabling food to reach those who need it most.”
  6. EU urges Moscow to revoke the suspension of Ukraine grain deal, Reuters reports. “The European Union on Sunday called on Russia to reverse its decision to pull out of a U.N.-brokered deal that enabled Ukrainian grain exports via the Black Sea amid a global food crisis. Russia’s decision to suspend participation in the Black Sea deal puts at risk the main export route of much needed grain and fertilisers to address the global food crisis caused by its war against Ukraine, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Twitter.”
  7. Russia says the UK Navy blew up Nord Stream and directed Ukrainian drone attacks on the Black Sea fleet, Reuters reports. “Russia’s defence ministry said on Saturday that British navy personnel blew up the Nord Stream gas pipelines last month […]. Russia did not give evidence for its claim […]. The Russian ministry said that “British specialists” from the same unit directed Ukrainian drone attacks on ships of the Russian Black Sea fleet in Crimea earlier on Saturday […].” “To detract from their disastrous handling of the illegal invasion of Ukraine, the Russian Ministry of Defence is resorting to peddling false claims of an epic scale,” the British defence ministry said.”
  8. Russia expands the list of “unfriendly” states by 11 territories, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “The Russians have expanded their list of “unfriendly” countries by adding the following overseas territories of the UK: Bermuda; British Antarctic Territory; British Indian Ocean Territory; Cayman Islands; Falkland Islands; Montserrat; Pitcairn Islands; Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; Akrotiri and Decelia; and the Turks and Caicos Islands.”

Assessment

  1. On the War

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of Sunday, 30 October:

Russian President Vladimir Putin will most likely try to continue conventional military operations in Ukraine to hold currently occupied territories, gain new ground, and set conditions for the collapse of Western support for Ukraine that he likely expects to occur this winter. Putin has likely not abandoned hopes of achieving his maximalist aims in Ukraine through conventional military means, which he is pursuing in parallel with efforts to break Ukraine’s will to fight and the West’s will to continue supporting Kyiv. Putin is unlikely to escalate to the use of tactical nuclear weapons barring the sudden collapse of the Russian military permitting Ukrainian forces to make uncontrolled advances throughout the theater. Such a situation is possible but unlikely. Putin is extraordinarily unlikely to seek direct military conflict with NATO. Putin is very likely to continue to hint at the possibility of Russian tactical nuclear use and attacks on NATO, however, as parts of his effort to break Western will to continue supporting Ukraine.

This forecast rests on two assessments. First, that Putin is setting conditions to continue throwing poorly prepared Russian troops directly into the fighting in Ukraine for the foreseeable future rather than pausing operations to reconstitute effective military forces. Second, that Putin’s theory of victory relies on using the harsh winter to break Europe’s will. These assessments offer a series of timelines that support the forecast.

Russian force-generation efforts will occur over the course of several predictable time periods. Putin has declared that the “partial mobilization” of reservists is complete. That declaration means that, in principle, the Russian military will stop calling up reservists and instead focus on completing their brief training periods before sending them to fight in Ukraine. ISW previously assessed that most of the remaining called-up reservists will arrive in the theater of war over the next few weeks.

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu announced that continued reserve mobilization efforts will take the form of renewed efforts to recruit “volunteers,” likely into volunteer battalions—efforts that were largely shelved during the “partial mobilization.” Russia will likely struggle to fill out new “volunteer” units rapidly following the reserve call-ups and the flight of hundreds of thousands of Russians who feared those call-ups. Continued attempts to create “volunteer” units will thus likely generate little meaningful combat power and will be spread over an extended period of time.

The Russian military will begin its semi-annual conscription call-up a month later than usual on November 1, 2022. Russia’s conscription cycle offers a set of predictable timelines. Normal Russian conscript training involves a period of roughly six months of individual basic and advanced training followed by the assignment of conscripts to combat units in which they complete their remaining six months of mandatory service. Russian law bans sending conscripts to combat operations abroad with fewer than four months of training, although it specifies that conditions of war or martial law allow the Russian military to deploy conscripts to fight earlier than that. Putin has declared martial law states of varying degrees of urgency throughout the Russian Federation and could use that declaration to trigger the exemption from the mandatory training period. The annexation of four Ukrainian oblasts offers another possible basis for exemption, because Russian law does not preclude the use of conscripts in Russian territory regardless of how much training they have received.

Raw conscripts with no military experience and fewer than four months of training are likely to be nearly useless on the battlefield in any case. Putin may rush limited numbers of such conscripts to combat before their four-month training period is complete, but most will likely be held back until March 2023 at the earliest.

The Russian military will likely find it necessary to send these conscripts to units in Ukraine at the end of their six-month period of initial training in any case, however, as there are unlikely to be enough functional combat units at home stations in Russia to receive them. The Russian military has fully committed its available ground forces units to Ukraine in a series of force-generation efforts, as ISW has previously reported. The partial mobilization and volunteer battalion recruitment efforts are further evidence that the Russian military has no remaining uncommitted ground forces to send. The Russian military likely will be unable to keep called-up conscripts in training areas for more than six months, however, because the next semi-annual conscription call-up would normally begin around April 1, 2023. Conscripts called up beginning on November 1, 2022, will thus likely be assigned to combat and support units in Ukraine and begin to arrive on the battlefield around May 2023.

The Russian Defense Ministry will not likely be able to conduct additional reserve call-ups as long as it is engaged in providing conscripts with initial training. The next window for a large-scale reserve mobilization would thus likely be not earlier than March 1.

The combination of the just-completed partial reserve mobilization and the annual conscription cycle thus creates two likely waves of Russian troops flowing into Ukraine—one moving in over the next few weeks, and the other starting to flow in spring 2023.

Weather offers another likely periodization of Russian efforts that coincides well with the force-generation timelines discussed above. Fall in Ukraine is generally wet and muddy but not usually so bad as to make mechanized offensives impossible. Winter, on the other hand, is usually the best season for mechanized warfare in Ukraine. Ukrainian land is among the most fertile on earth in part because of the dense network of rivers and streams that irrigate it. That network also breaks up the land and can inhibit mechanized advances by canalizing them along roads (although both Russian and Ukrainian troops are, in principle, trained and equipped to operate on this terrain in any season, Ukrainian troops have been far more successful, in general, in doing so.) When the ground freezes hard, however, most of the streams and some of the rivers also freeze, greatly facilitating cross-country mechanized advances. Spring is the nightmare season for fighting in Ukraine. The thaw swells rivers and streams and turns fields into seas of mud. Mechanized warfare in the spring muddy season is extremely difficult (although, again, not impossible for forces like Ukraine’s and, theoretically, Russia’s, that are properly equipped and trained for it).

The Russian partial mobilization is thus flowing forces into Ukraine now in a way that is likely meant to stiffen Russian defenses and allow Russian forces to hold their positions against expected Ukrainian counter-offensive operations through the rest of the fall and into the dangerous winter period. If Putin intends to deploy Russian boys about to be conscripted after four or six months of training, he could be setting conditions for Russian forces to resume offensive operations after the end of the spring thaw.

The Russian partial mobilization of reservists just completed strongly suggests that Putin intends to keep fighting into 2023 rather than expecting to secure some sort of ceasefire or to escalate in a way that could end the war on his terms. He has paid a very high domestic price for this mobilization effort in the flight of hundreds of thousands of Russians to other countries, unprecedented protests, and equally unprecedented criticisms of the performance of the Russian military and the Russian government. This price makes sense if Putin intends to keep fighting and recognizes the need to get reinforcements to Ukraine right now in order to hold his positions long enough for fresh conscripts to arrive and turn the tide in his favor, as he might think. It makes far less sense if he intends to escalate to the use of tactical nuclear weapons either in an effort to win the war or in hopes of securing a ceasefire or some other off-ramp on favorable terms. It could make sense as part of a non-escalatory effort to pursue negotiations for some off-ramp had Putin not accompanied his announcement of the end of partial mobilization with repetitions of his maximalist claims regarding the illegitimacy of the Ukrainian state and the artificiality of the Ukrainian ethnos that are incompatible with serious negotiations.

Putin’s efforts to break Europe’s will by withholding Russian energy supplies over the winter offers yet another timeline that coheres well with the others. The theory underlying this Russian effort would be that freezing European populations will put such pressure on their governments that European states will begin to accept Putin’s demands to stop providing weapons and other forms of support to Ukraine, at least, and possibly to lift various sanctions on Russia as well. This theory will not really be falsifiable until well into 2023, however. European governments have ostentatiously prepared their populations for a difficult winter, stocked up as best they can on energy supplies, and set conditions to reduce energy usage even at significant economic cost. These actions signal that European leaders are ready for the kinds of pressures they are likely to encounter early in the cold season. Putin can hope that they will not be able to withstand those pressures all through the winter, but the validity of that hope will not be clear until the coldest weather has had a chance to build them. This timeline thus also coincides with the likely availability of the next wave of Russian forces in spring 2023—Putin will have been able to observe the effect of winter on European will and choose whether to commit his conscripts or pursue some other course of action.

These timelines are likely more significant in shaping Putin’s thoughts and decisions than in shaping effects on the ground. Roughly one-third of the mobilized reservists have already arrived in Ukraine, according to Putin, and they have made relatively little difference on the battlefield. The UK Ministry of Defense noted that they are reinforcing combat units that were in some cases effectively destroyed—reduced to 10 percent of their normal complements. The arrival of hastily mobilized and untrained reservists into such units will not render them combat effective. The deployment of raw conscripts after four or six months of training in 2023 will likely have similarly nugatory effects on the battlefield. But Putin does not appear to recognize these facts and seems rather to expect the reserves called up at such surprising cost to make a real difference.

Putin is thus setting conditions to continue waging conventional war for the foreseeable future rather than preparing to try to end the war by escalation or by making for some “off-ramp.” He could always change his mind, to be sure. But Ukraine and the West should be operating on the assumption that Ukraine will continue to have many months in which to regain control of strategically vital terrain, for which it will also continue to require continued large-scale Western support.

On the battlefield, Ukrainian forces conducted further offensive operations in northeastern Ukraine, and Russian forces continued to set conditions for a withdrawal from Kherson. Those developments are summarized briefly and will be covered in more detail tomorrow.

Key inflections in ongoing military operations on October 30:

  • Unconfirmed Russian reports claimed that Russian Lieutenant General Andrey Mordvichev (Commander of the 8th Combined Arms Army of the Southern Military District) replaced Colonel General Alexander Lapin as Central Military District (CMD) commander as of October 30. Russian sources continue to make contradictory reports about whether Lapin was fully relieved of command of the CMD or just relieved of command of the Russian operational “Central Group of Forces” operating in Ukraine.
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense and Russian sources claimed that Russian forces repelled Ukrainian assaults on Pershotravneve, Tabaivka, and Berestove in Kharkiv Oblast.
  • Ukrainian sources and geolocated reports indicate that Russian forces destroyed a bridge over the Krasna River in Krasnorichenske, Luhansk Oblast. Russian milbloggers accused Ukrainian forces of destroying the bridge.
  • A Russian occupation official stated that Russian force are preparing to defend Kherson City by engineering defenses in Bilozerka and Chornobaivka. Ukrainian military official also noted that Russian officials continued to prepare defenses around Kherson City.
  • Ukrainian military officials reported that Russian forces are preparing to withdraw artillery units from unspecified areas on the western bank of the Dnipro River to possibly reinforce other directions. Ukrainian military officials also reported that several hundred Rosgvardia servicemen deployed from the Republic of Chechnya to Kalanchak in southwestern Kherson Oblast.
  • Russian forces continued to shell Ukrainian positions in Beryslav Raion, Kherson Oblast, and both Ukrainian and Russian sources provided limited information regarding the situation on the Kherson Oblast frontline.
  • Russian sources claimed that Russian forces captured Vodyane, Donetsk Oblast, (4km northwest of Donetsk International Airport) on October 30. The Ukrainian General Staff’s evening report did not report repelling Russian attacks in this area as it usually does, potentially indicating that the Russian claims are accurate.
  • Russian sources reported that Russian forces captured Pavlivka, Donetsk Oblast, (2km southwest of Vuhledar) on October 30. Some Russian sources claim that Russian forces control only half of Pavlivka as of October 30. The Ukrainian General Staff’s evening report did not report repelling Russian attacks in this area as it usually does, potentially indicating that the Russian claims are accurate.
  • Russian forces launched Kh-59 cruise missiles at Ochakiv, Mykolaiv Oblast. Russian sources claimed that Russian forces targeted and destroyed military infrastructure in Ochakiv.
  • Mobilized men from the Republic of Komi appealed to Russian authorities with complaints of insufficient military equipment and body armor.
  • Russia announced its intention to supply 500,000 tons of grain to the “poorest countries” following its withdrawal from the deal that allowed Ukraine to export its grain. Ukraine announced that it intends to export agricultural products to maintain global food security.
  • Ukrainian military officials reported that Russian forces continued to create conditions in Nova Kakhovka to drive local inhabitants to evacuate.
  • Occupation authorities in Kherson Oblast announced a dual currency system that allows the use of both rubles and hryvnya, unwinding a months-long effort to enforce rubleization in the oblast.“ 

There are about 4,300 military personnel of the terrorist country on the territory of Belarus, DIU reports. “There are about 4,300 military personnel of a terrorist country on the territory of Belarus. In an interview with the American publication “The War Zone”, the head of the GUR of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, Major General Kyrylo Budanov, spoke about the possibility of a large-scale invasion of Russians from the territory of Belarus to block the supply of aid to Ukraine from partners.

Cutting off supply lines from the west is a strategic objective of Russian forces. And, we can say, this is the cherished dream of the Russian Federation. If we talk about the Russian military activity in Belarus, then the presence of the Russian military in Belarus is not so large. There are only about 4,300 military personnel. And they are very limited. This group is very limited in heavy weapons systems and the majority – about 80% of the group – are mobilized personnel. So, I can say that at the current stage there is no threat of an invasion from Belarus.

But the situation can change very quickly when Russia loses Kherson. After leaving Kherson, this combat-capable group will be partially redeployed in the direction of Zaporizhzhia, but some of them may move to Belarus and pose a threat there,” said the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence.”

“Putin’s chef” requests that YouTube be blocked in Russia, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Holod. “Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian businessman and founder of the Wagner Group who is also known as “Putin’s chef”, has submitted a formal request to the Prosecutor General to conduct an audit of YouTube’s activities and to consider declaring the American company Google LLC “undesirable” in the Russian Federation.

Prigozhin claims that since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, a “full-scale information war” has been launched against the Russian Federation, involving the extensive use of “disinformation and negative attitudes inculcated via YouTube”. In his request, Prigozhin alleges that YouTube is spreading fake news, publishes Russophobic content, is calling for the overthrow of the government in Russia, etc.

Hans Petter Midttun’s assessment:

As Russia continues to escalate, it’s time the West proved its will to defend international law

 

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