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Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 505: Russia keeps mum on the NATO summit

Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 505: Russia keeps mum on the NATO summit
Article by: Zarina Zabrisky

The Russian information space continues to exhibit a generally muted response to the NATO summit. At least 18 people, including six children, injured in a Russian attack in Zaporizhzhia. Former Russian officer Igor Girkin claims that certain members of Putin’s inner circle may push Putin to end the war to depose him.

Daily overview — Summary report, July 13

Source: War Mapper.

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 18.00 pm, July 13, 2023 is in the dropdown menu below:

Situation in Ukraine. July 12, 2023. Source: ISW.

 
Glory to Ukraine! Day 505 of the russian full-scale military aggression against Ukraine has begun.
The russian federation continues to wage its war of aggression. Despite the significant losses, russia has not abandoned its plans to fully occupy Ukrainian territory.
The adversary continues to kill civilians in Ukraine, ignore the laws and customs of war, and use terror tactics.
Last night, the russian federation launched yet another air strike on Ukraine, using Iranian Shahed combat UAVs.
Information on the aftermath of this terrorist attack is currently being updated.
During the day of July 12, the russian occupiers attacked Ukraine with Iranian-made Shahed combat drones. A total of 15x kamikaze drones were used. Air defense of the Ukrainian Defense Forces intercepted 11x of the combat UAVs. In total, the enemy launched more than 60x air strikes and 64x MLRS attacks at the positions of Ukrainian troops and various settlements. Unfortunately, the attacks have killed and wounded civilians, including children, destroyed residential buildings and other civilian infrastructure.
The likelihood of missile and air strikes across Ukraine remains high.
The adversary continues to focus its main efforts on Kup’yans’k, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Mar’inka axes, heavy fighting continues. During the day of July 12, there were more than 35x combat engagements.
Volyn and Polissya axes: no significant changes. No signs of formation of an offensive group. Certain units of the armed forces of the republic of belarus continue their missions in the areas bordering Ukraine.
Luhansk Battle Map. July 12, 2023. Source: ISW.
Sivershchyna and Slobozhanshchyna axes: the adversary continues to maintain its military presence. During the day of July 12, the adversary fired mortars and artillery at more than 10x settlements, including in the vicinities of Huta-Studenets’ka (Chernihiv oblast), Vyntorivka, Manukhivka (Sumy oblast), Vidrodzhenivs’ke, Izbyts’ke, Zemlyanky (Kharkiv oblast).
Kup’yans’k axis: the Ukrainian troops are standing their ground. The adversary launched an air strike in the vicinity of Kyslivka (Kharkiv oblast). Fyholivka, Novomlyns’k, Dvorichna, Zapadne, Kup’yans’k, and Kyslivka (Kharkiv oblast) came under artillery and mortar fire of the adversary.
Donetsk Battle Map. July 12, 2023. Source: ISW.
Lyman axis: during the day of July 12, the adversary conducted unsuccessful offensives in the vicinity of Novoselivs’ke (Luhansk oblast). The invaders launched air strikes near Bilohorivka (Luhansk oblast), Spirne, Vesele, and Rozdolivka (Donetsk oblast). More than 15x settlements, including Nevs’ke, Serebryans’kyi forest, Bilohorivka (Luhansk), Spirne, Berestove, and Rozdolivka (Donetsk oblast), were shelled with artillery.
Bakhmut Battle Map. July 12, 2023. Source: ISW.
Bakhmut axis: the enemy launched air strikes in the vicinities of Stupochky, Oleksandro-Shul’tyne, and Dyliivka (Donetsk oblast). More than 15x settlements, including Oleksandro-Shul’tyne, Dyliivka, Druzhba, Pivnichne, and Pivdenne (Donetsk oblast), suffered from enemy artillery shelling.
Avdiivka axis: under heavy fire from enemy aircraft and artillery, the Ukrainian defenders successfully repelled russian troops’ attacks in the vicinities of Avdiivka and Keramik (Donetsk oblast). The enemy launched an air strike near Panteleimonivka (Donetsk oblast). At the same time, the enemy fired artillery at more than 15x settlements, including Keramik, Berdychi, Avdiivka, Yasnobrodivka, and Karlivka (Donetsk oblast).
Mar’inka axis: the Ukrainian Defense Forces continue to hold back the russian offensive in the vicinity of Mar’inka. The enemy launched an air strike near Krasnohorivka (Donetsk oblast). The invaders shelled more than 15x settlements, including Mar’inka, Heorhiivka, Maksymil’yanivka, Pobjeda, Yelyzavetivka, and Katerynivka.
Shakhtars’ke axis: the enemy conducted unsuccessful offensives in the vicinity of Novomykhailivka and launched air strikes near Zolota Nyva, Makarivka, and Rivnopil’ (Donetsk oblast). The invaders shelled the settlements of Novomykhailivka, Vuhledar, Novoukrainka, Prechystivka, Zolota Nyva, and Velyka Novosilka (Donetsk oblast).
Zaporizhzhia Battle Map. July 12, 2023. Source: ISW.
Zaporizhzhia and Kherson axes: the adversary focuses its main efforts on preventing further advance of Ukrainian troops. The invaders fired artillery at more than 20x settlements, including Levadne, Ol’hivs’ke, Malynivka, Yehorivka, Orikhiv (Zaporizhzhia oblast), Nikopol’ (Dnipropetrovsk oblast), Shlyakhove, Tyahynka, Romashkove, Sofiivka, Stanislav (Kherson oblast), and the city of Kherson. At the same time, the Ukrainian Defense Forces continue to conduct the offensive operation on Melitopol’ and Berdyans’k axes, consolidating their positions, firing artillery for effect on the identified enemy targets, and conducting counter-battery fire.
Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. July 12, 2023. Source: ISW.
During the day of July 12, Ukrainian Air Force launched 6x air strikes on the concentrations of troops, weapons, and military equipment, as well as 4x air strikes on the anti-aircraft missile systems of the enemy.
During the day of July 12, the Ukrainian missile and artillery troops hit 1x command post, 16x artillery systems at their firing positions, 4x anti-aircraft missile systems, and 2x electronic warfare stations of the adversary.
 

Military Updates

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst.

Russian Defense Minister downplays Ukraine’s counteroffensive amid NATO Summit – ISW. On 11 July, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu implausibly claimed that Russian air defenses have intercepted 176 HIMARS rockets and 27 Storm Shadow cruise missiles since the start of the Ukrainian counteroffensive, ISW reports. Shoigu tried to present possible Ukrainian interdiction efforts in southern Ukraine as ineffective by claiming that Ukrainian forces have lost 26,000 servicemembers and 1,244 tanks and infantry fighting vehicles since starting counteroffensive operations on 4 June.

Ukrainian troops advance in two directions near Donetsk’s Bakhmut – military. Ukrainian troops continue to conduct offensive operations north and south of the city of Bakhmut, Donetsk Oblast, and have had “some success” south of the city, according to Andrii Kovaliov, the spokesman for the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. “In the areas of Bila Hora – Andriivka and Bila Hora – Kurdiumivka, they have had some success and are consolidating the achieved boundaries,” the spokesman said on 12 July, according to the Military Media Center.

Cluster munitions will be next “game changer” against Russia, Ukraine Defense Minister hopes. Speaking on the sidelines of the NATO summit on 11 July, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said he hoped cluster munitions would become the next game-changer against Russia on the battlefield, according to Politico. “As we got in May 2022 155-millimeter artillery systems, it became a game changer. In July, we got different types of [Multiple Launch Rocket Systems] it became [the] next game changer … And I hope that cluster munitions [become] a next game changer as weaponry or ammunition for liberation of our temporarily occupied territories,” he said.

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

British Intelligence Map.

Losses of the Russian army 

Losses of the Russian Army. Source: Euromaidan Press.

Humanitarian 

Russian attack on Zaporizhzhia’s city park: 18 people, including 6 children, were injured. At least 18 people, including six children, were injured during a Russian attack in Zaporizhzhia today. The news was reported by Suspilne. The injuries were caused by the fallout of a drone in a city park, leading to substantial damages. The head of Zaporizhzhia Regional State Administration, Yuriy Malashko, updated that the number of injured reached 18, including six children.

Environmental

Russian night drone attack: infrastructure damage reported in central Ukraine. On the night of 12 July 2023, Russian invaders attacked Ukraine from the north-eastern direction (Kursk) with Iranian-made Shahed-136/131 attack drones, Ukrainian Air Force informedA total of 15 kamikaze drones were used in the strike. 11 of them were destroyed by Ukraine’s air defense. Anti-aircraft missile units, fighter aircraft, mobile fire groups of the Air Force, and air defense of other components of the Defense Forces of Ukraine were involved in repelling the attack,” the Air Force said.

Support

Norway to provide Ukraine with 2 NASAMS launchers and a thousand drones. At NATO Summit, Norway announced new military support for Ukraine. The aid includes an air defense package and drones for reconnaissance and target identification. On 12 July, on the second day of the NATO summit, Norway announced a support package that includes a Norwegian Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS), Minister of Defense of Norway Bjørn Arild Gram reports.

Instead of inviting Ukraine to membership, Alliance to launch NATO-Ukraine Council. Instead of an invitation to NATO membership, expected by Ukraine, the Allies agreed on a three-part package of support. It includes the NATO-Ukraine Council, long-term military assistance and the abolition of the required Membership Action Plan. On 11 July, at NATO Summit in Vilnius, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, following a closed-door meeting of NATO member states, that Ukraine will receive an invitation to join NATO when “all allies agree, and the conditions are met.” Instead of its invitation to NATO membership at Summit 2023, allies agreed on a three-part package of support for Ukraine to bring it closer to joining the military-political bloc.

Framework for Ukraine’s security guarantees: main points of G7’s declaration. During the NATO summit in Vilnius, the Group of Seven (G7) nations have committed to a “Joint Declaration on Support for Ukraine.” The leaders of the Group of Seven countries, along with Ukraine, have currently agreed not on the specific parameters of ‘security guarantees’, but on their framework. Specific bilateral agreements will be signed later. The declaration, published on the British government website, intended to formalize security commitments and arrangements, underscores the G7’s determination to stand with Ukraine as it defends itself against Russian aggression. It is launched to ensure Ukraine’s security in the long-term, following the summit where the G7 countries, along with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, gathered once more.

G7 nations establish Ukraine’s security guarantee framework at Vilnius NATO summit. During the NATO summit in Vilnius, the Group of Seven (G7) countries agreed on a framework document regarding security guarantees for Ukraine, according to a report from European Pravda’s correspondent in Vilnius. The document, titled “Joint Declaration on Support for Ukraine,” has been open for any country to sign, according to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, whose country currently presides over the G7.

Ukraine and Sweden to cooperate in defense procurement – Ukraine’s Minister of Defense. Ukraine’s Minister of Defense Oleksii Reznikov announced the signing of an agreement on cooperation in defense procurement between Ukraine and Sweden. ‘More good news from Vilnius! Ukraine and Sweden signed an agreement on cooperation in defense procurement. This document provides great opportunities both for our Armed Forces and for Swedish companies like SAAB and others. Thank you to my friend & colleague, Pål Jonson. United by shared colors, united by shared values!’ Oleksii Reznikov wrote in his Twitter.

Australia to supply 30 Bushmaster protected mobility vehicles to Ukraine. Australia will provide Ukraine with a new defense package that includes 30 Bushmaster armored personnel carriers, President Zelenskyy wrote. “Negotiations with Mr. Anthony Albanese, Prime Minister of Australia. Thank you! New powerful defense package, including 30 Bushmasters. As always, we have a full political understanding. A successful meeting!” Zelenskyy wrote in his Telegram channel.

UK’s Sunak announces new aid package for Ukraine with 70 vehicles and ammunition, says G7 will provide security guarantees. The British government said on Tuesday it would provide Ukraine with more than 70 combat and logistic vehicles, thousands of rounds of ammunition for Challenger 2 tanks, and a 50 million pound ($64.7 million) support package for equipment repair, Reuters reported. The UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also said that all Group of Seven (G7) members – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States – were expected to agree on Wednesday, the second day NATO summit in Vilnius, on long-term, bilateral security commitments for Ukraine that would be detailed.

New Developments

Zelenskyy: “We will not exchange any status for our territory, not even a single village.” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has ruled out the possibility of any compromises on Ukraine’s future NATO membership in the context of potential negotiations with Russia over territories. Zelenskyy made this statement during a press conference on Wednesday following the NATO Summit in Vilnius, as reported by a European Pravda correspondent. The President addressed information suggesting that the US and Germany are deliberately evading providing Ukraine with a clear timeline for NATO membership, in case the question of membership becomes a subject of negotiations with Russia.

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Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of  July 12, 2022:

The Group of Seven (G7) Coalition and NATO signed agreements to offer Ukraine long-term security commitments during the NATO Summit in Vilnius on July 12. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced that NATO has agreed on a three-part package that will give Ukraine a multi-year program of practical assistance, create a NATO-Ukrainian coordination council, and commits NATO to allow Ukraine to join the alliance without going through a Membership Action Plan (MAP).[1] G7 members Germany, Japan, France, Canada, Italy, Britain, and the United States signed a general framework document called the “Joint Declaration of Support for Ukraine” aimed at offering the Ukraine military, financial, and intelligence support and stated that each member of the G7 will enter into bilateral security negotiations with Ukraine regarding the document.[2] Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stated that other countries would have the opportunity to join the declaration at a later stage.[3] The general framework document also reportedly promises immediate steps to swiftly provide Ukraine with all necessary support in the event of a new attack but did not specify what that support would look like.[4] Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that the agreements reached at the NATO summit mean that Ukraine would receive formal security guarantees, although neither the NATO nor the G7 agreements currently provide such guarantees.[5] Ukraine did secure notable agreements that will strengthen long-term Western support for Ukraine at the NATO summit, and these agreements will likely serve as the framework for potential increases in Western security assistance to Ukraine.

Ukraine secured additional bilateral security and defense agreements during the second day of the NATO summit on July 12. Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov signed agreements with Swedish Defense Minister Paul Jonsson on cooperation in the field of defense procurement and with the French Defense Ministry on increasing French military assistance to Ukraine by 170 million euros.[6] The Ukrainian Presidential Office announced that Australia will send an additional 30 Bushmaster armored vehicles to Ukraine.[7] The UK government stated that the UK will provide Ukraine with an additional 50 million pounds in security assistance, including additional ammunition for Challenger tanks.[8] Norwegian Defense Minister Bjorn Arild Gram stated that Norway will provide an additional NASAM (Norwegian Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System) support package, including two additional fire control centers, two launch units, and spare parts.[9] Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida noted that Japan will provide Ukraine with $30 million in non-lethal equipment including drone detection systems.[10]

The Russian information space continues to exhibit a generally muted response to the NATO summit. Many Russian sources claimed that they have long had access to planning documents for the summit and that none of the resulting agreements come as a surprise, and many milbloggers claimed that the summit has been a “failure” for Ukraine because Ukraine did not secure immediate NATO membership.[11] Russian Security Council Deputy Chairperson Dmitry Medvedev emphasized that participants of the summit are acting in “predictable ways” and that the West will continue to provide Ukraine with military aid, and Russia will therefore continue to pursue the same goals in Ukraine.[12] Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov delivered boilerplate Kremlin rhetoric by stating that the G7’s provision of “security guarantees” to Ukraine is “potentially very dangerous” and an encroachment on Russian security interests.[13]

The muted Russian response belies the reality that the summit demonstrated the degree to which the 2022 Russian invasion has set back the goals for which the Kremlin claims it launched the war. The aim of preventing NATO expansion and, indeed, rolling back earlier rounds of NATO expansion and pushing NATO back from Russia’s borders was one of the Kremlin’s stated demands before the invasion.[14] The Kremlin has repeated this aim continually throughout the war. The lack of general outcry within the Russian information space regarding developments at the NATO summit, as well as Finland’s NATO accession and Türkiye’s agreement to forward Sweden’s accession protocol, likely indicates that the Kremlin has internalized these defeats and desires to avoid dwelling on them. Many Russian sources are reporting on the NATO summit in a dispassionate and muted manner that is not commensurate with the wider defeat that the summit actually represents for Russia’s pre-war aims.

Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations on at least three sectors of the frontline on July 12 and reportedly made gains in some areas. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces continued offensive operations in the Bakhmut, Melitopol (western Zaporizhzhia Oblast), and Berdiansk (Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area) directions.[15] The Ukrainian General Staff also reported that Ukrainian forces achieved partial success along the Bila Hora-Andriivka and Bila Hora–Kurdyumivka lines (up to 13km southwest of Bakhmut).[16] Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Spokesperson Major Valerii Shershen stated that Ukrainian forces achieved partial success and advanced along the frontline in the Berdiansk direction.[17] Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces also advanced near Orikhovo-Vasylivka (11km northwest of Bakhmut) southwest of Velyka Novosilka, Donetsk Oblast, and south of Orikhiv in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast.[18]

Russian forces conducted another series of Shahed drone strikes across Ukraine on July 12. Ukrainian military sources reported that Russia launched 15 Shahed drones from Kursk Oblast and that Ukrainian air defense forces shot down 11 of the launched drones.[19] Russian forces have notably not conducted missile strikes aimed at Ukrainian infrastructure over the past few days as the NATO summit is ongoing in Vilnius, behavior that diverges somewhat from previous Russian patterns of conducting missile strikes to correspond with major international political events that are relevant to the war in Ukraine.[20]

The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced that the Wagner Group has almost completely handed weapons and military equipment over to the MoD. Russian MoD spokesperson Igor Konashenkov announced on July 12 that the Wagner Group transferred more than 2,000 pieces of equipment and weapons to the Russian MoD.[21] Konashenkov stated that the transferred weapons include T-90, T-80, and T-72 tanks, multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS), anti-aircraft missile systems, howitzers, anti-tank guns, mortar systems, armored tractors, armored personnel carriers, vehicles, and small arms.[22] Konashenkov stated that the Russian MoD transferred all the equipment and armaments to rear areas where Russian repair and recovery units will maintain and prepare the equipment for use.[23] Konashenkov also claimed that dozens of units of the transferred equipment had never been used in combat conditions.[24] A Russian milblogger challenged Konashenkov’s claims about the equipment and claimed that a RU MoD employee stated that while Wagner’s equipment was in good condition, it had clearly seen combat and that there was no unused equipment.[25] The Russian MoD announcement, following the Kremlin‘s acknowledgment of Putin’s June 29 meeting with Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin, is likely part of the Kremlin’s wider narrative effort to portray itself as fully in control and the Wagner rebellion as a settled affair.[26]

Former Russian officer and ardent nationalist Igor Girkin claimed that certain members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle may push Putin to end the war in order to depose him. Girkin claimed that Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin’s rebellion succeeded, resulting in a power redistribution according to the plans of Prigozhin’s patrons, whom Girkin suggested include Presidential Administration First Deputy Chief of Staff Sergey Kiriyenko, billionaire and Putin’s reported personal banker Yuri Kovalchuk, and energy executives Arkady and Boris Rotenberg.[27] Girkin claimed that the power structure including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Moscow Oblast Governor Andrei Vorobev, and Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has been weakened following the rebellion. Girkin claimed that members of the “Ozero Cooperative” – an association unifying the dachas of Putin and several members of his inner circle in Leningrad Oblast – want to oust Putin in favor of one of its own members, such as Prigozhin or Kiriyenko. Girkin claimed that the “Ozero Cooperative” first aims to sabotage Russian military operations, the defense industrial base (DIB), and control of rear areas to make Putin realize he must accept defeat in the war. Girkin warned that the “Ozero Cooperative” members will target the Ministry of Defense, Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), and other structures outside the control of the presidential administration.

Girkin’s claims are likely part of his ongoing effort to diminish Russian political and domestic support for a potential ceasefire in the war in Ukraine, but his targeting of specific members of Putin’s inner circle is notable. Girkin has repeatedly accused Prigozhin of being part of the faction arguing in favor of freezing the lines in Ukraine while Girkin has argued in favor of a grinding, protracted war effort, as ISW has previously reported.[28] Kiriyenko in particular is a prominent Kremlin mouthpiece for domestic policy and occupation matters. Kiriyenko has reportedly positioned himself to expand his political reach in recent years, including into education development, oversight of regional elections, development of the Russian internet and information bloc, and political nongovernmental organizations.[29] Russian opposition outlet Meduza, citing sources within the presidential administration, previously reported that Kiriyenko is attempting to position himself as a possible successor to Putin.[30] Meduza’s sources saw Kiriyenko’s lack of connection to regional governments or businesses as undermining his prospects but noted that Kiriyenko is likely able to overcome these issues. Girkin is most likely attempting to portray Prigozhin as a direct threat to Putin’s regime in order to encourage harsher Kremlin action against Prigozhin and discourage any efforts to freeze the front in Ukraine. Girkin may be trying to discredit Kiriyenko and other claimed Prigozhin patrons to undermine any support that Prigozhin may have among any possible remaining prominent patrons.[31]

Key Takeaways:

  • The Group of Seven (G7) Coalition and NATO signed agreements to offer Ukraine long-term security commitments during the NATO Summit in Vilnius on July 12.
  • Ukraine secured additional bilateral security and defense agreements during the second day of the NATO summit on July 12.
  • The Russian information space continues to exhibit a generally muted response to the NATO summit. The muted Russian response belies the reality that the summit demonstrated the degree to which the 2022 Russian invasion has set back the goals for which the Kremlin claims it launched the war.
  • Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations on at least three sectors of the frontline on July 12 and reportedly made gains in some areas.
  • Russian forces conducted another series of Shahed drone strikes across Ukraine on July 12.
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced that the Wagner Group has almost completely handed weapons and military equipment over to the MoD.
  • Former Russian officer and ardent nationalist Igor Girkin claimed that certain members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle may push Putin to end the war in order to depose him.
  • Russian and Ukrainian forces reportedly conducted limited ground attacks along the Kupiansk-Svatove line.
  • Russian and Ukrainian forces continued skirmishes in the Kreminna area, where Russian forces reportedly made limited gains.
  • Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations in the Bakhmut area.
  • Russian and Ukrainian forces conducted ground attacks along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line.
  • Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted limited ground attacks in western Donetsk Oblast.
  • Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations along the administrative border between Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk oblasts.
  • Ukrainian forces continued limited mechanized assault operations in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
  • Russian officials continue to grapple with the issue of securing Russia’s international borders.
  • Russian occupation authorities are using the promise of medical treatment to coerce residents of occupied territories to receive Russian passports and relocate to Russian territory.

 

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