Ukrainian S-200 missiles targeted Russian military and logistics objects, including the Kerch Bridge; Ukraine’s Mariupol garrison’s commanders returned home; the US pledged cluster munitions for the Ukrainian Army; the Russian media claims that Putin has replaced his Chief of Staff, Valery Gerasimov.[/editorial]
Day 501: July 09
Today there is a lot of news all over the front.
First of all, today, Ukrainians reportedly conducted a missile strike on the Crimean Bridge in occupied Crimea. Russian sources reported that Ukrainian Air Force made an attempt to once again destroy the bridge and cut off the Southern Russian Group located in Zaporizhzhia from supplies. Russian air defense operators claimed that they shot down the missile just several kilometers north of Russia’s Taman and that the remnants of the intercepted missile fell into the Azov Sea.
Nonetheless, Russian authorities closed the bridge and caused massive traffic jams. Local authority’s representatives claimed that Ukrainians used a cruise missile. Russian analysts stated that any use of cruise missiles would necessitate Ukrainian jets to fly way too close to the front line, exposing themselves to the Russian air defense.
Russian sources report a temporary suspension of traffic on the Kerch Bridge in both directions after the activity of the Russian air defenses near Crimea’s occupied Kerch
— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) July 9, 2023
Later there were two more strikes: one on Russian military objects in Russia’s Rostov Oblast and one in Bryansk Oblast. Here, Russian air defense was unsuccessful in shooting down the missile, so local surveillance cameras captured the rocket’s arrival. The footage was quickly analyzed, and almost all analysts agreed that Ukrainians used modified S-200 rockets that follow a ballistic trajectory, which is why such rockets have a range of up to 400 km.
A video of what appears to be a missile of the Soviet-made S-200 air defense system impacting a sawmill in the settlement of Bytosh in Bryansk Oblast of Russia earlier on Sunday.
Presumably, the Ukrainians started to covert these missiles for the use against ground targets. pic.twitter.com/yPSJPO5el2
— Status-6 (@Archer83Able) July 9, 2023
Interestingly, simultaneously with the strike on the Crimean Bridge, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense officially confirmed that they were responsible for the destruction of the Crimean Bridge last year. The combination of such news made some analysts raise the alarm that Ukrainians are determined to destroy the bridge in the near future and called for the reinforcement of the area with even more air defense systems.
The Russian Ministry of Defense should also come out with an official announcement. Today some media sources reported that Putin removed the Chief of the General Staff, Gerasimov, from the position of the commander of the so-called special military operation. Gerasimov should still formally remain the Chief of Staff to avoid the loss of face, but the new commander should be Colonel-General Teplinskiy, who was the commander of Airborne forces. The changes have not yet been confirmed by Russian officials, however, such changes would not be unlikely in the aftermath of the completely failed winter offensive campaign, even while Wagner forces achieved notable results. The Russian High Command had an unclear structure from the very beginning, and such rotations of commanders and complications of the chain of command make it less and less efficient because everyone has an incentive to blame someone else for the failures on the front line.
Explosions are reported at a Russian military base in occupied Zarichne, according to Mayor of Melitopol Ivan Fedorov
Zarichne is a vital logistics hub 21 km north of occupied Melitopol (Zaporizhzhia Oblast, southeastern Ukraine).
— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) July 9, 2023
In the meantime, Ukrainians finally returned their commanders of the Azov Regiment back to Ukraine. These commanders were responsible for holding Mariupol for more than 2 months at the beginning of the invasion, which required Russians to devote tens of thousands of soldiers, giving Ukrainians time to form a defense line. Azov Regiment was considered to be the most elite Ukrainian detachment, with extremely high standards for physical readiness as well as years of combat experience. The commanders stated that they would join the army again and continue to fight, and with the ongoing counteroffensive operation, it is no doubt that these commanders would cause a lot of damage to Russian forces.
Regarding the Ukrainian Air Force, it is about to receive 10 helicopters, Mi-24. The helicopters were already seen en route in Poland and should get to the front very soon. Currently, Ukrainians are amply using these helicopters in the Kherson region to protect the Ukrainian bridgehead on the other side of the river and facilitate offensive operations toward Oleshky.
Finally, to help Ukrainians to proceed faster with their counteroffensive, the United States announced new weapon deliveries, which this time included cluster munitions. A cluster munition is a specialist shell that scatters explosives covering a large area. Right now, Ukrainians are facing countless Russian positions and fortifications in the fields, which means that deliveries of such weapons will greatly help Ukrainians to conduct their storming operation faster and with fewer casualties.
In our daily frontline report, we pair up with the military blogger Reporting from Ukraine to keep you informed about what is happening on the battlefield in the Russo-Ukrainian war.
- Ukraine liberates over 14 km² over the past week – General Staff
- Ukrainian forces advance near Bakhmut – Ukraine’s Defense Ministry
- Ukrainian continued counteroffensive operations on at least three front sectors on 8 July – ISW
- Frontline report: Ukrainians make strides in southern front’s Velyka Novosilka axis, outmaneuvering Russian defenses
- Steady progress of the Ukrainian military near Bakhmut, according to British intelligence