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Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 516: Attack on Odesa is another war crime of the Kremlin – Borrell

Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 516: Attack on Odesa is another war crime of the Kremlin – Borrell

Russia attacks Odesa fifth time in a row, killing one, damaging a major cathedral and UNESCO heritage site. Ukrainian drones attack Crimea and Moscow. Lukashenko threatens Poland with Wagnerites.

 

Daily overview — Summary report, July 24

Source: War Mapper.

Situation

According to information from the General Staff as of 06.00 24.07.2023, supplemented by its [18:00 assessment].

Situation in Ukraine. July 23, 2023. Source: ISW.

“The Russian Federation continues to kill civilians in Ukraine, ignoring the laws and customs of war, using terror tactics, striking, and shelling both military and civilian targets.

Last night, the Russian Federation launched yet another airstrike with Iranian Shahed combat UAVs in Ukraine. Information on the aftermath of this terrorist attack is currently being updated.

On July 23, Russian occupants launched a missile attack on the territory of Ukraine, using 17 cruise missiles and 2 ballistic missiles. The forces and means of air defence of the Air Force of Ukraine intercepted 9 cruise missiles. In addition, the enemy launched 39 airstrikes and 49 MLRS attacks at the positions of Ukrainian troops and various settlements. Unfortunately, the attacks have caused civilian casualties, residences, religious buildings, and other civilian infrastructure were damaged.

The likelihood of missiles and airstrikes across Ukraine remains high.

The adversary continues to focus its main efforts on Kupiansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Marinka axes, and heavy fighting continues. On July 23, there were 35 combat engagements.

  • Volyn and Polissya axes: no significant changes. No signs of the 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 23, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Sivershchyna and Slobozhanshchyna axes: the adversary continues to maintain its military presence. The invaders launched airstrikes in the vicinities of Pavlivka and Stepne (Sumy oblast). The Russian forces fired mortars and artillery at more than 20 settlements, including Tymonovychi (Chernihiv oblast), Seredyna-Buda, Pokrovka, Uhroidy, Yunakivka (Sumy oblast), Udy, Kozacha Lopan’, Budarky, Hatyshche, and Veterynarne (Kharkiv oblast).
  • Kupiansk axis: the Ukrainian troops are standing their ground. The adversary launched an airstrike in the vicinity of Kucherivka (Kharkiv oblast). Fyholivka, Berestove, Novomlyns’k, Dvorichna, and Kyslivka (Kharkiv oblast) came under artillery and mortar fire.
Donetsk Battle Map. July 23, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Lyman axis: the adversary conducted unsuccessful offensive operations in the vicinity of Tors’ke (Donetsk oblast). The invaders launched an airstrike in the vicinity of Serebryans’kyi forest (Donetsk oblast). The settlements of Nevs’ke, Bilohorivka (Luhansk oblast), Tors’ke, Spirne, Verkhn’okam’yans’ke, and Rozdolivka (Donetsk oblast) were shelled with artillery.
Bakhmut Battle Map. July 23, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Bakhmut axis: under heavy fire from enemy artillery, the Ukrainian defenders successfully repelled the attacks in the vicinities of Bohdanivka, Klishchiivka, and northeast of Orikhovo-Vasylivka (Donetsk oblast). More than 10 settlements, including Bila Hora, Bohdanivka, Ivanivske, Druzhba, and New York (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 Nevel’s’ke. At the same time, the enemy fired artillery at more than 10 settlements, including Avdiivka, Karlivka, Sjeverne, and Nevel’s’ke (Donetsk oblast).
  • Marinka axis: the Ukrainian Defence Forces continue to hold back the Russian offensive in the vicinities of Krasnohorivka, and Marinka. The enemy shelled more than 15 settlements, including Krasnohorivka, Oleksandropil’, Katerynivka, Mar’inka, and Pobjeda (Donetsk oblast).
  • Shakhtarske axis: the enemy conducted unsuccessful offensives in the vicinity of Novomykhailivka and launched airstrikes near Blahodatne and Makarivka (Donetsk oblast). The invaders shelled more than 15 settlements, including Zolota Nyva, Prechystivka, Vodyane, Vuhledar, and Blahodatne (Donetsk oblast).
Zaporizhzhia Battle Map. July 23, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Zaporizhzhia and Kherson axes: the adversary focuses its main efforts on preventing the further advance of Ukrainian troops. The invaders made unsuccessful attempts to regain the lost position in the vicinity of Pryyutne (Zaporizhzhia oblast). The adversary launched airstrikes in the vicinities of Mala Tokmachka, Orikhiv, Novodanylivka (Zaporizhzhia oblast), and Antonivka (Kherson oblast). More than 30 settlements were shelled with artillery, including Novodariivka, Hulyaipole, Huliaipilske, Novoandriivka, Stepove (Zaporizhzhia oblast), Illinka, Kam’yans’ke, Nikopol’ (Dnipropetrovsk oblast), Antonivka, Havrylivka, Novoberyslav, Respublikanets’, Kizomys (Kherson oblast), the city of Kherson, Yaselka, and Ochakiv (Mykolaiv oblast). At the same time, the Ukrainian Defence 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 23, 2023. Source: ISW.

[The Russian occupiers continue robbing civilians, appropriating the grain harvest of Ukraine. Thus, in the village of Pryshyb, Zaporizhzhia Oblast, the Russian occupiers are taking out a large number of freight wagons with various types of grain crops from the territory of the agricultural enterprise with the help of diesel locomotives.]

Military Updates

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst.

On July 23, Ukrainian Air Force launched 7 airstrikes on the concentrations of troops, weapons and military equipment of the adversary. Also, the Ukrainian defenders intercepted 4 operational-tactical level reconnaissance UAVs of the enemy.

On July 23, the Ukrainian missile and artillery troops hit 1 concentration of manpower, weapons, and military equipment of the adversary, 6 artillery systems at their firing positions, 1 command post, 1 air defence system, and 1 electronic warfare station of the enemy.“

Russian ammunition depot hit during a Ukrainian drone attack in Crimea – official, Reuters reports. “An ammunition depot was hit during a Ukrainian drone attack on Dzhankoi in Crimea early on Monday, with Russian air defence forces shooting down or electronically jamming 11 drones over the area, a Russian-installed official said.

Sergei Aksyonov, the Russian-installed governor of the Crimean Peninsula that Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014, also said that a residential building was damaged in the area. He said there was no indication of any casualties, but people within a 5 km (3 miles) radius of the incident were being evacuated.”

Russia switches to active defence in Berdiansk, Melitopol directions – military, Ukrinform reports. “In the zone of responsibility of the Tavria group of troops, the enemy continues to focus its efforts on conducting offensive operations in Avdiivka and Mariinka directions and active defensive operations are also recorded in Berdiansk and Melitopol directions, Major Valeriy Shershen, spokesman for the joint press centre of the defence forces of Ukraine of Tavria direction.

He noted that the Russians had attacked Ukrainian military positions 24 times over the past day. Under heavy enemy aircraft and artillery fire, our defenders successfully repelled all attacks of the Russian troops. In addition, the enemy launched 577 strikes using tanks, MLRS, and tube artillery, the spokesman said.

He noted that the Russians had significantly intensified airstrikes and Quadro kamikaze drone strikes. Over the past 24 hours, enemy dense air fire, 23 airstrikes were recorded. Su-35 aircraft are also used.

Moreover, 15 Quadro kamikaze drone strikes were recorded, which is the biggest number in a week. And this is done to force us to abandon, particularly, the offensive operations, Shershen informed. The spokesman stressed that the Ukrainian military perfectly understands the tactic of the Russians.”

Counter-battery fighting is currently underway on Dnipro’s left bank in Kherson region – Humeniuk, Ukrinform reports. “On the left bank of the Dnipro in the Kherson region, counter-battery artillery battles are currently underway as the Ukrainian military is trying to clear a certain territory, which the infantry will then be able to seize without endangering the lives of the soldiers. […]

We would also really like to gain a foothold there and feel strong. In fact, a counter-battery fight is going on now, and those reports that are running toward the left bank ahead of our forces are doing us a lot of harm. In fact, we are trying to clear the territory, which can then be seized by our Defense Forces without a threat to the lives of the soldiers who will take these positions, Humenyuk said. According to the spokesperson, the public should remain patient and wait for its military to do its work and be able to report on the results once they are achieved.”

Russia loses almost two companies worth of manpower as KIAs, WIAs in Tavria direction on Sunday, Ukrinform reports, citing the commander of the Tavria Operational-Strategic Group of Forces, General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi. “In the Tavria direction, Russian troops lost almost two companies killed and wounded in a day, and 30 units of military equipment were destroyed. On the Tavria axis, the Defence Forces are systematically knocking the enemy out of their positions, Tarnavskyi said.

The Commander added that Ukraine’s artillery units in the Tavria direction had performed 1,211 fire missions. Over the last day, the enemy’s losses in terms of those killed and wounded in action amounted to almost two companies. Thirty units of the enemy’s military equipment were destroyed, Tarnavskyi informed. In particular, a main battle tank, seven anti-aircraft systems, 12 artillery systems and mortars, as well as a number of military trucks were destroyed. The Ukrainian forces also destroyed seven Russian ammunition depots.”

Russian Defence Ministry claims to have repelled a drone attack on Moscow, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the Ministry of Defence of Russia on Telegram. “The Russian Ministry of Defence said that on the morning of 24 July, it had stopped an attempt by two Ukrainian drones to attack targets in Moscow. Two Ukrainian UAVs were downed by means of electronic warfare and crashed, the Russian Defence Ministry said. The ministry also reported that no one was injured in the drone attack.

Russian media and Telegram channels reported a drone attack on the Russian capital, damaging a building near the Russian Ministry of Defence. Another drone hit the Leroy Merlin business centre in Moscow.”

The fifth attack on Odesa in a row, the Ukrainian General Staff reports. “On the night of July 23, 2023, the occupiers again attacked Odesa. In total, the enemy used 19 different types of missiles for the strike: 5 “Onyx” from the coastal missile complex “Bastion” (Crimea); 3 Kh-22 air-launched cruise missiles – launches were carried out by Tu-22MZ aircraft from the Black Sea; 4 Kalibr sea-based cruise missiles, presumably from a submarine from the Black Sea; 5 land-based cruise missiles “Iskander-K” (Crimea); and 2 “Iskander-M” ballistic missiles (Crimea).

As a result of combat operations of the Defence Forces of Ukraine, 9 aerial targets [out of 19] were destroyed: 4 Kalibr sea-based cruise missiles and 5 Iskander-K land-based cruise missiles.”

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

British Intelligence Map.
  • All Russian school children are to be taught the basics of operating combat drones. Russian Senator Artem Sheikin announced that the lessons will include how to conduct terrain reconnaissance and ways to counter enemy uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs).
  • The UAV lessons join assault rifle training, hand grenade skills and combat first aid in the revised ‘Basics of Life Safety’ syllabus for year 10 and 11 students, due to be mandated from 1 September 2023.
  • Russia’s renewed emphasis on military induction for children is largely an effort to cultivate a culture of militarised patriotism rather than develop genuine capability. However, the addition of UAV skills does highlight how Russia has identified the use of tactical UAVs in Ukraine as an enduring component of contemporary war.
  • In recent days there has been an increase in artillery fire along the north of the front line, in Luhansk and Kharkiv oblasts. This has likely been accompanied by some increase in Russian small-unit assaults, but the situation has been obfuscated by Russian disinformation.
  • Russia has likely only achieved marginal gains, but its renewed activity in the north highlights its importance to the Kremlin, when it is concurrently facing significant pressure in the southern Zaporizhzhia sector.
  • Russia’s Western Group of Forces is likely trying to advance back to the Oskil River in order to create a buffer zone around Luhansk Oblast, the possession of which Russia almost certainly considers one of its fundamental objectives of the war.

Losses of the Russian army 

As of Monday 24 July, the approximate losses of weapons and military equipment of the Russian Armed Forces from the beginning of the invasion to the present day:

  • Personnel – about 242620 (+660)
  • Tanks – 4162 (+11)
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 8118 (+13)
  • Artillery systems – 4675 (+17)
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 697 (+0)
  • Air defence means – 452 (+1)
  • Aircraft – 315 (+0)
  • Helicopters – 310 (+0)
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 7182 (+10)
  • Vessels/boats – 18 (+0)
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 3963 (+5)
  • Special equipment – 698 (+2)
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0)
  • Cruise missiles – 1307 (+9)

Ukraine’s interdiction campaign against Russian rear areas causes “shell hunger”, ISW reports. “Ukrainian officials stated on July 22 that Ukraine’s interdiction campaign against Russian military targets in rear areas is successfully degrading Russian logistics and counterbattery capabilities, likely contributing to an asymmetrical attrition gradient in Ukraine’s favour. Ukrainian Chief of the Main Directorate of Missile Troops and Artillery and Unmanned Systems of the General Staff Colonel Serhiy Baranov stated on July 22 that Ukrainian missile and artillery units are responsible for approximately 90 percent of Russian losses. Baranov stated that Ukrainian missile and artillery units have created a long-range “fire fist” thanks to Western high-precision missiles and artillery systems and that Ukrainian strikes are so powerful and accurate that Russian forces can no longer conduct effective counterbattery fire. 

Ukrainian Southern Operational Command Spokesperson Captain First Rank Nataliya Humenyuk stated on July 22 that Ukrainian attacks on Russian ammunition concentrations in deep rear areas are causing logistical issues for the Russian military. Humenyuk noted that this trend is reflected in decreased Russian shelling in Kherson Oblast, which indicates that Russian forces are experiencing “shell hunger” in the area

Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Commander Brigadier General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi compared Ukraine’s counteroffensive to boxing on July 13 and stated that Ukraine intends to “hold the opponent at arm’s length” in order to avoid close combat because Ukraine can effectively defeat Russian forces from a long distance, likely referencing Ukraine’s continued interdiction campaign in eastern and southern Ukraine. Baranov’s, Humenyuk’s, and Tarnavskyi’s statements suggest that the Ukrainian military is successfully carrying out this interdiction campaign. This campaign is a central aspect of Ukraine’s plan to create an asymmetrical attrition gradient that conserves Ukrainian manpower at the cost of a slower rate of territorial gains while gradually wearing down Russian manpower and equipment.”

Russia trying to increase production of drones and missiles – intel deputy chief, Ukrinform reports. “In general, the large-scale war shows that no matter how much we say that the Russian Federation does not have high-precision weapons, it is actually a war of technologies. And with regard to improvement and build-up, there is one small caveat for us: they [the Russians] are trying to establish and increase the production of any weapons, especially UAVs, artillery rounds and, of course, missiles, Vadym Skibitsky, deputy chief of the [Defence Intelligence of Ukraine], said.

The intelligence deputy chief noted that now all the efforts of both Ukrainian government structures and the military intelligence of Ukraine were aimed at blocking the foreign components’ supply channels to Russia for the production of weapons. By the way, it works. For some types of weapons, for the same high-precision missiles, we can see the result. We see the result as the supply of foreign components is stopped. The Russian Federation is trying to replace them with analogues, but the accuracy and effectiveness of these weapons are already lower than it was at the very beginning, he assured.

Skibitsky also noted that the Russians’ plans for the war in Ukraine had not changed.”

Russia’s Kh-22, Oniks missiles modernized – intelligence, Ukrinform reports, citing Deputy Chief of the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine, Vadym Skibitskyi. “The Russians see a shortage of high-precision missiles they had before the start of the war. Last year they could use from 80 to 110 cruise missiles of the same type, for example, Kh-101, in one strike but now they have no such opportunity, Skibitskyi said, commenting on Russia’s use of various types of missiles during the recent strikes.

Another factor in the expansion of the munition types deployed by the Russians is the fact that they managed to modernize part of the existing weapons, Skibitsky added. In addition, we clearly know that measures were taken to modernize some types of missiles. That’s including the Kh-22, which, in fact, has already become the Kh-32. The Main Directorate of Intelligence also has information about the measures taken by the Russian Federation to modernize the Oniks missiles, said the GUR spokesman.

He emphasized that Oniks is an anti-ship missile intended for other purposes. In autumn, Mykolaiv, Odesa, and Kherson regions have already been hit by these missiles, and many misses were recorded back then. So after modernization, they again resumed the use of the Bal and Bastion complexes. Bastion is an Oniks missile, which is used, again, against civilian objects, Skibitskyi noted.”

Humanitarian 

Russia starts to study condition of Ukraine’s energy facilities – Skibitsky, Ukrinform reports. “”We are monitoring all issues related to the study of our energy facilities by the Russian Federation. They have started such work, Vadym Skibitsky, deputy chief of the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, posted on Telegram.

According to him, Russia uses various types of intelligence, including space intelligence, and the purpose of these actions is to find out the condition of the Ukrainian energy industry and identify those critical objects that have an impact on the energy system of our country.

As reported, according to Minister of Energy German Galushchenko, half of the entire energy system of Ukraine was damaged by shelling by Russian troops. A total of 271 hits to energy infrastructure objects were recorded, some of them cannot be restored.”

Lithuanian President opposes easing sanctions against Russia in exchange for continuation of grain deal, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda considers it wrong to ease sanctions against Russia in exchange for an agreement on the safe export of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea. […] The Lithuanian president stressed that sanctions should not be eased against either Russia or Belarus. He also added Lithuania believes that sanctions against Belarus should be as tough as those against Russia.”

Environmental

Russia will continue to resort to nuclear blackmail – intelligence, Ukrinform reports. “As for the use of nuclear blackmail, this is not the first time. This blackmail exists and will be used further by Russia because it is one of the elements of pressure on us and the world community, Vadym Skibitsky, deputy chief of the [Defence Intelligence of Ukraine]. According to him, Russia is taking measures to improve the infrastructure, inspecting those objects that are in the territory of Belarus.

We, as military intelligence, understand what activities they conducted all the time in the occupied territories of Crimea, and even before the occupation. Because the Russian Federation, and its Black Sea Fleet, practiced during exercises the delivery of nuclear munitions from the territory of the Russian Federation to the Crimean Peninsula, Skibitsky noted. All these procedures are known, the intelligence understands how this happens, especially if it concerns mobile missile bases, precisely those where ammunition is stored, he added.

When asked about Russia’s nuclear arsenal, Skibitsky said that the Russians were trying to modernize it.

The extent to which the Russian Federation is ready to use [its nuclear arsenal] will depend on many factors. But nevertheless, we clearly understand that, in particular, China [very specifically told the Russian Federation to not use nuclear weapons]. Because everyone understands: the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons is one of the key elements of the overall global security system, Skibitsky said.”

Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine investigates stealing of Ukrainian children by Belarusian Red Cross, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Andrii Kostin, Prosecutor General on Twitter. “The participation of the Belarusian Red Cross in the forced deportation of Ukrainian children from the territories occupied by the Russian Federation to Belarus is complicity in the commission of an international crime.

This organisation grossly violates the norms of the Geneva Conventions, as well as the fundamental principles of the Red Cross Movement. We hope that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will address this breach of integrity and take appropriate action. For our part, we have launched an investigation to ensure that every case of forced displacement and/or deportation of Ukrainian children is held accountable.

In June, the Belarusian Red Cross reported that more than 700 children from Ukraine had been brought to Belarus.”

Russian attack on Odesa kills one, damages cathedral, Ukrainian officials say, Reuters reports. “Odesa: another night attack of the monsters, Oleh Kiper, governor of the Odesa region, said on the Telegram messaging app. One person was killed and 19 injured, including four children, in the missile attacks that also destroyed six houses and apartment buildings. Fourteen people were hospitalised, he said.

The Spaso-Preobrazhenskyi Cathedral, or the Transfiguration Cathedral, was severely damaged, Odesa’s military administration said. Odesa’s largest church building, it is located in the historic city centre, which is a UNESCO world heritage site. The cathedral’s archdeacon, Andriy Palchuk, told Reuters the missile strike had started a fire which only affected one corner of the cathedral containing non-historic religious artefacts for purchase by worshippers. […]

Ukraine’s defence ministry said the cathedral had now been “destroyed twice” – by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. The early 19th-century cathedral was demolished in 1936 as part of Stalin’s anti-religious campaigns and rebuilt when Ukraine gained independence from Moscow in 1991.

Parts of the building were destroyed, the floors were covered in rubble and chunks were ripped off the cathedral’s ornate walls. Several local residents from the surrounding area came to assist with cleaning up the rubble. […]

Russia has attacked Odesa with missiles and drones several times since it withdrew on Monday from a year-old deal that had allowed for safe exports of Ukraine’s grain from Black Sea ports. Odesa’s ports were the departure point for grain leaving Ukraine in the Türkiye and UN-brokered agreement. […] Russia has been pounding Odesa and other Ukrainian food export facilities nearly daily over the past week.”

Night attack on Odesa is another war crime of Kremlin, – Borrelll, Censor.net reports. “The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Policy and Security Policy Josep Borrelll said that the night shelling of Odesa is another war crime of the Russian Federation. The continuous Russian missile terror against Odesa, which is protected by UNESCO, is another war crime by the Kremlin, which also destroyed the main Orthodox cathedral – a world heritage site. Russia has already damaged hundreds of cultural objects in an attempt to destroy Ukraine. […]

According to the Air Force, 9 out of 19 enemy missiles were destroyed during the attack on Odesa. The City Hall specified that as a result of the barbaric night shelling of Odesa, more than 40 buildings were mutilated in the city. According to the Odesa RMA, 25 architectural monuments of the XIX-XX centuries were damaged in the city as a result of the strike.”

Support

Zelenskyy: Ukraine needs true air shield to defeat terror, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing President Zelenskyy on Telegram. “Ukraine needs a true air shield; this is the only way to defeat Russia’s missile terror. We have already shown that we can shoot down even those Russian missiles that the terrorists are particularly proud of. Thanks to the help of [Ukraine’s] partners and the air defence systems Ukraine had received; the defenders of our skies have saved thousands of lives. But we need more air defence systems – for all of our territory, for all our cities and communities. The world must not become numb to Russian terror – we must defeat this terror. And it can be done!”

Ukrainian pilots to start training on F-16s as early as August – Reznikov, Ukrinform reports, citing CNN. “The training of Ukrainian pilots who will master the American F-16 fighter jets will kick off in August and take at least six months, said the Ukrainian Minister of Defense, Oleksii Reznikov. Ukraine also needs to create the proper infrastructure for the said warplanes. According to Reznikov’s optimistic forecast, pilots will be able to fly the F-16 as early as next spring. Reznikov emphasized that, if Ukraine had these fighters now, they would certainly help make more progress in the counteroffensive.

The training, which Reznikov says will apparently take place in Denmark and the Netherlands and possibly the UK or Poland, will also include intensive training for technical staff. The Minister of Defense noted that aircraft maintenance is a serious task. He noted that the training may be split between countries, but the final plans are still being finalized.”

Zelenskyy announces new assistance from partners: More air defence systems and long-range weapons, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing President Zelensky’s evening address. “We have already started preparing for the upcoming week. There will be a lot of different events that will definitely bolster Ukraine’s defence. I thank NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg for promptly convening the first meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council. In fact, immediately after our conversation yesterday, we agreed on the date – the meeting will take place this Wednesday. We are preparing it to be meaningful.

We are also preparing new support packages from our partners – everything that brings the defeat of Russian terrorists closer. More air defence for Ukraine, more artillery, more long-range weapons. 

The recipe for ending the war is obvious: everything depends on the unity and determination of all those who value freedom, culture and life.” 

US still refuses to transfer ATACMS to Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing The Washington Post referring to unnamed US officials. “The administration of US President Joe Biden refuses to transfer long-range ATACMS missiles to Ukraine, despite requests from Kyiv and pressure from US lawmakers. The representatives of the Pentagon and the presidential administration said that there had been neither changes nor substantive discussions on this issue over the past few months.

The Pentagon believes that Ukraine has more pressing needs. The Pentagon also fears that sending long-range missiles to Ukraine would seriously undermine US readiness for potential conflicts. Officials said the number of ATACMS in the US arsenal should remain fixed until they are replaced by the next generation of longer-range PrSM missiles. They are expected to enter service by the end of this year.

The Washington Post reported that Lockheed Martin company produces 500 units of ATACMS annually, but they are intended for sale to other countries.

New York Times reported that US President Joe Biden’s administration is having a “quiet” debate about whether to send Ukraine ATACMS long-range tactical missile systems. At the same time, during the NATO summit in Vilnius, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that during his talks with US President Joe Biden, he had raised the issue of providing Ukraine with ATACMS, but no agreements had been reached.”

New Developments

  1. TV channel “Russia 1: “We will not save Odesa, we will rebuild it later”, Censor.net reports, citing the Butusov Plus Telegram channel. “Russian propagandist Vladimir Solovyov called for the wiping out of Ukrainian cities on the air of the Russia 1 propaganda channel. Russian propagandists commented cynically on the strike on Odesa, saying that they were happy to see the attacks. […] To hell with destroying Kyiv. Destroy Lviv… Of course, we will not save Odesa. We’ll rebuild it later. It will be much easier. What should we do? Well, at least the port area. I remember that the Opera House should be preserved, Solovyov said.”
  2. UN condemned night shelling of Odesa without mentioning Russia, Censor.net reports, citing the official UN Twitter account. “The United Nations condemned the Russian shelling of Odesa but did not mention Russia in its statement. “Today, the people of Odesa woke up again to the sounds of explosions. The blows were inflicted on the historic centre, damaging houses, the cathedral and causing the death and injury of civilians. International humanitarian law clearly indicates that civilians and civilian infrastructure are not targets,” the post reads.”
  3. Lukashenko threatens Poland with Wagnerites: They want to go to West, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing President Lukashenko’s press service. “Alexander Lukashenko, the self-proclaimed President of Belarus, has said that the Wagner Private Military Company (PMC) fighters are “stressing him out” because they want to attack Poland.
  4. Stoltenberg convenes Ukraine-NATO Council at Zelenskyy’s request, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing dpa and European Pravda. “NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has agreed to convene a meeting of the newly formed Ukraine-NATO Council at the request of President Volodymyr Zelensky. Alliance spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said that the meeting will be held on Wednesday at the ambassadors’ level to consult on the latest developments and discuss Ukrainian grain transportation through the Black Sea. In his evening video address on 22 July, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that during a telephone conversation he had asked Stoltenberg to immediately convene the NATO-Ukraine Council due to Russia’s aggressive steps in the Black Sea.
  5. Putin hosts Lukashenko, calls Ukraine counter-offensive a failure, Reuters reports. “Russian President Vladimir Putin said Ukraine’s counter-offensive has failed as he hosted Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, his close ally, for talks in St Petersburg on Sunday. […] Ukraine began its long-anticipated counter-offensive last month but has so far made only small gains against well entrenched Russian forces who control more than a sixth of its territory after nearly 17 months of war. US General Mark Milley, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Tuesday the Ukrainian drive was far from a failure but would be long, hard and bloody.”

Assessment 

https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-july-23-2023*

  1. On the War

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of Sunday 23 July:

(quote) Russian forces continued offensive operations along the Svatove-Kreminna line on July 23 and reportedly made tactically significant gains southwest of Svatove. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations near Nadiya, Luhansk Oblast (15km west of Svatove) and Torske (16km west of Kremmina), and Hryhorivka (11km south of Kreminna) in Donetsk Oblast. A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful assaults in the Serebryanske forest area south of Kreminna and near Nevske (18km northwest of Kreminna) and Makiivka (23km northwest of Kreminna). Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces crossed the Zherebets River west of Karmazynivka (12km southwest of Svatove) and made further advances on the west (right) bank of the river towards Novoyehorivka (15km southwest of Svatove). One milblogger claimed that Russian forces advanced up to four kilometers in depth west of Karmazynivka, although ISW has not seen visual confirmation of any recent Russian advances in the area. […]

Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted ground attacks along the Svatove-Kreminna line but did not make any gains on July 23. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that Russian elements of the Central Grouping of Forces repelled six Ukrainian assaults near Novovodyane (16km southwest of Svatove) and Karmazynivka, four Ukrainian assaults in the Kreminna area, and Ukrainian assaults south of Kreminna near Bilohorikva, Donetsk Oblast (30km south of Kreminna). A Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces also conducted unsuccessful offensives near the Serebryanske forest area, Nevske, Torske, and Dibrova (5km southwest of Kreminna).

Russian sources may be exaggerating Russian gains and Ukrainian offensive activity along the Kupiansk-Svatove-Kreminna line to portray ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensive operations as a failure. ISW has observed recent Russian claims of Russian advances northeast of Kupiansk, southwest of Svatove, and west of Kreminna, although corroborating visual confirmation has not accompanied these claims. Russian sources previously amplified older footage on July 8 to claim that Russian forces advanced near Torske, but ISW has not observed any current visual confirmation of these claims. The United Kingdom Ministry of Defense (UK MoD) reported on July 23 that Russian forces are intentionally trying to portray marginal gains in Luhansk and Kharkiv oblasts as significant tactical advances. The Russian MoD and a few select milbloggers have claimed widespread Ukrainian counteroffensive activity along the Kreminna-Svatove line in recent weeks. A notable Ukrainian counteroffensive effort in Luhansk Oblast would likely generate substantial discussion amongst Russian milbloggers, however, which ISW has not observed. Significant Russian gains in this region would also generate geolocated footage and other confirmation, which ISW has also not observed.

Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations in the Bakhmut area and reportedly made gains near Bakhmut City on July 23. A Ukrainian source reported that Ukrainian forces advanced northwest of Khromove (immediately west of Bakhmut), and a Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces pushed Russian forces to the city limits of the settlement. […] A Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces are conducting ongoing offensive actions near Kurdyumivka (13km southwest of Bakhmut).

Russian forces continued offensive operations in the Bakhmut area on July 23 but did not make any confirmed gains. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian assaults near Bohdanivka (6km northwest of Bakhmut), Orikhovo-Vasylivka (11km northwest of Bakhmut), Ivanivske (6km west of Bakhmut), and Klishchiivka. Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces repelled a Russian counterattack near Hryhorivka (9km northwest of Bakhmut) and that Russian forces conducted assaults near Kurdyumivka.

Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces continued limited ground attacks along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City front without advancing on July 23. The Russian MoD claimed that Russian elements of the Southern Grouping of Forces repelled Ukrainian assaults near Vodyane (8km southwest of Avdiivka) and Sieverne (6km west of Avdiivka).

Russian forces continued offensive operations along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City front on July 23 but did not make any confirmed gains. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian assaults near Avdiivka, Nevelske (13km southwest of Avdiivka), Krasnohorivka (22km southwest of Avdiivka), Marinka (27km southwest of Avdiivka), and Novomykhailivka (36km southwest of Avdiivka). A Russian milblogger also claimed that Russian forces made unspecified gains north of Novomykhailivka and conducted an unsuccessful assault near Pervomaiske (11km southwest of Avdiivka).

Ukrainian forces continued offensive operations along the western Donetsk-eastern Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area and advanced as of July 23. Geolocated footage published on July 22 shows that Ukrainian forces have entered northern Staromayorske (9km south of Velyka Novosilka), though the extent of current Ukrainian positions in or near the settlement is unclear. A Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces advanced north of Staromayorske and on the northern outskirts of Pryyutne (14km southwest of Velyka Novosilka). Another Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces repelled small Ukrainian assault groups near Staromayorske and Urozhaine (9km south of Velyka Novosilka).

Russian forces continued limited offensive operations along the western Donetsk-eastern Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area and did not advance on July 23. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian attempts to retake lost positions near Pryyutne and south of Novodarivka (15km southwest of Velyka Novosilka). A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces conducted a failed counterattack towards Blahodatne (4km south of Velyka Novosilka) from the south.

Ukrainian forces continued offensive operations in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast and advanced on July 23. Geolocated footage shows that Ukrainian forces made marginal advances south of Kamianske (30km southwest of Orikhiv) as of July 22. Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Spokesperson Major Valery Shershen reported that Ukrainian forces advanced over two kilometers into Russian defensive positions and across the front line in the Melitopol (western Zaporizhzhia Oblast) direction between July 21 and 22. […] 

Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted waves of mechanized attacks towards Robotyne overnight from July 22 to 23 and on July 23 but that Russian forces repelled all the attacks.

Ukrainian and Russian forces continue to skirmish in east (left) bank Kherson Oblast and on the Dnipro River delta islands. A Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces still maintain a presence in east bank Kherson Oblast near Oleshky and that Ukrainian special forces are probing Russian defenses near Hola Prystan (10km south of Kherson City) and Krynky (31km northeast of Kherson City). Ukrainian Southern Operational Command Spokesperson Captain First Rank Nataliya Humenyuk reported that Russian Airborne (VDV) units and other special units are deployed along the Dnipro River and attempt sabotage activities along the river and near the delta islands. Humenyuk stated that the Russian military command transfers degraded units from various parts of the front to Kherson Oblast to recover and that Russian forces recently established training grounds on Dzharylhach Island (in the Black Sea 70km southeast of Kherson City) for this effort.

Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed his continuing concern over the potential threats that the Wagner Group and Yevgeny Prigozhin may pose to him through symbolism and posturing during a meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in St. Petersburg, Russia. Putin made several significant symbolic gestures during his July 23 meeting with Lukashenko, suggesting that Putin sought to project power and confidence in his own supremacy over the Prigozhin-aligned St. Petersburg-based faction. Putin took Lukashenko to visit Kronstadt in St. Petersburg – the historically significant island fortress where Russian soldiers and sailors conducted a famous unsuccessful anti-Bolshevik insurrection in early 1921 that the Soviet government ultimately suppressed. […] Putin‘s public meeting with Beglov, Shoigu‘s daughter, and Lukashenko on the historic grounds of the failed Kronstadt rebellion was almost certainly intended to signal Putin’s and his loyalist cadre‘s defeat of Prigozhin‘s armed rebellion and Prigozhin’s St. Petersburg-based supporters. Putin also made an unusual effort to take photographs with crowds of local Russian citizens, including children, while at Kronstadt, likely to present himself as a popular and beloved leader among the Russian people. These symbolic gestures indicate that Putin is concerned about his perceived popularity, the security of his regime, and the array of factions competing for power within the high echelons of Russian governance.

Lukashenko told Putin that the Wagner Group in Belarus will remain in central Belarus likely subtly reminding Putin of the threat the Wagner military organization still poses to him and underlining Lukashenko’s control over that power. Lukashenko’s statements were likely meant to make Putin reflect on the uncomfortable (for Putin) fact that Wagner’s new garrison in Belarus puts its forces half as far from Moscow as Wagner’s previous base in southern Russia. The Wagner Group’s previous base in Krasnodar Krai was about 1,370 km from Moscow, whereas its new base in Belarus is about 720 km along an excellent military highway.

Putin and Lukashenko also amplified information operations targeting the West. The leaders amplified their false claims that Ukraine’s counteroffensive has failed. Senior Western and Ukrainian leaders–and ISW–continue to assess that it is too early to evaluate Ukraine’s counteroffensive since Ukraine still has significant uncommitted prepared forces and retains the ability to launch decisive operations at times and places of its choosing. Lukashenko and Putin also reiterated an information operation that the Wagner Group poses a threat to Poland. There is no indication that Wagner fighters in Belarus have the heavy weaponry necessary to mount a serious offensive against Ukraine or Poland without significant rearmament, as it was a condition of the Putin-Lukashenko-Prigozhin deal ending the armed rebellion that Wagner surrender such weapons to the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD). Maxar imagery of the main Wagner base in Tsel, Asipovichy, collected at an oblique angle on July 23 indicates that the vehicles currently parked in and around the vehicle storage area are primarily hundreds of cars, small trucks, and approximately 35 semi-trailers. Wagner forces in Belarus pose no military threat to Poland or Ukraine, for that matter, until and unless they are re-equipped with mechanized equipment. They pose no meaningful threat to NATO even then.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CNN on July 23 that Ukrainian forces have liberated approximately 50 percent of the territory that Russian forces captured since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022. This figure is largely consistent with ISW’s current assessment of control of terrain. Analysts can employ several methods to calculate control of terrain with varying results depending on the cartographical projection used and other factors. An estimate using ISW’s control of terrain data and the Mercator projection indicates that Ukrainian forces liberated about 53 percent of the land that Russian forces captured since February 2022. Estimates made using different data sources, measurement methods, or projections will generate different numbers. Factors, such as higher confidence about unconfirmed Russian claimed territorial gains, can impact such estimations as well. ISW appreciates and closely studies government officials’ statements about control of terrain geometry to cross-reference, confirm, and where necessary correct assessments.

Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations on at least three sectors of the front line and advanced on July 23. Geolocated footage published on July 22 shows that Ukrainian forces made some advances in the western Donetsk-eastern Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area near Staromayorske (9km south of Velyka Novosilka), and some Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces also advanced near Pryyutne (14km southwest of Velyka Novosilka). Geolocated footage published on July 22 also shows that Ukrainian forces made marginal advances in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast near Kamianske, and Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted additional ground attacks south of Orikhiv near Robotyne (12km south). The Ukrainian General Staff reported continued Ukrainian counteroffensive operations in both areas of the front. Some Russian and Ukrainian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces continued attacking on Bakhmut’s northern and southern flanks and reportedly made advances near Khromove (immediately west of Bakhmut). […]

Further speculation about former Russian officer and ardent nationalist Igor Girkin’s arrest and the public posturing of Girkin’s affiliates suggests that a limited section of the pro-war community may have been contemplating political action in opposition to the Kremlin. Angry Patriots Club member and leader of the “Civil Solidarity” movement Georgy Fedorov claimed on July 22 that the Club developed a strategy and specific action plan for a campaign to defend Girkin and will be reaching out to grassroots supporters for help. Fedorov also announced that the Angry Patriots Club will release a political statement sometime next week. A Russian insider source claimed that Girkin planned to start formal legal procedures to create a political party in the spring of 2024. The insider source claimed that Girkin had discussed with Angry Patriots members the possibility of holding a founding party congress in fall 2023 and plans to form regional branches for the Angry Patriots Club. The Angry Patriots Club has opened a St Petersburg regional chapter and published a 17-point political resolution on June 26 that signaled its interest in participating in Russian politics. The Angry Patriots Club’s political resolution explicitly states that it will use legal means to compel Russian leadership to ”end the policy of appeasement and behind-the-scenes agreement with the West” and declares its ”intention to claim political power.” The Angry Patriots Club’s resolution indicates that this section of the pro-war community may have attempted to set conditions for future political actions opposing figures in the Kremlin whom the Angry Patriots Club believes seek to end the war. Girkin previously claimed that there is a faction within the Kremlin arguing in favor of freezing the front line in Ukraine and negotiating with the West, and the Angry Patriots appeared to be preparing to explicitly challenge this faction through a political project. Factions within the Kremlin are likely aiming to maneuver for more influence against the backdrop of Russia’s 2024 presidential elections, and Girkin’s alleged plans to explicitly cast himself and his affiliates as political actors ahead of the elections likely threatened some of these factions.

Angry Patriots members likely view Girkin’s arrest as an existential threat to the segment of the ultranationalist community he represents and will likely intensify their campaign to cast Girkin as an opposition figure. Angry Patriots Club member Yevgeny Mikhailov continued to criticize the Kremlin, calling Girkin’s arrest a ”gross mistake” and highlighting the double standards that Russian authorities use for prominent Russian officials who have criticized Russian forces’ conduct in the war in Ukraine. Mikhailov noted the hypocrisy of arresting a ”Russian patriot” who he claimed ”led the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics to victory in 2014” while allowing Russian State Duma Deputy Sergei Morozov to go unpunished for saying that officers who sent mobilized personnel into combat without preparation “should be shot themselves.” […] The continued support for Girkin despite his arrest suggests that Girkin established a strong personal loyalty among his affiliates reminiscent of other ultranationalist figures, particularly Prigozhin’s support among Wagner personnel and affiliated milbloggers.

The Kremlin may be attempting to censor an isolated segment of the Russian ultranationalist community that is consistently vocally hostile to the Kremlin. Russian news outlet Kommersant reported on July 21 that Russian law enforcement is investigating Angry Patriots Club Chair Pavel Gubarev for extremism because of his Telegram posts. Milbloggers outside of Girkin’s relatively isolated Angry Patriots Club have notably not commented on Girkin’s arrest, suggesting a fragmentation in the Russian ultranationalist community along factional affiliations and ideological differences on Russia’s approach to the war in Ukraine. Continued Russian law enforcement censorship of Angry Patriots members likely indicates that the Kremlin does not intend to censor the wider ultranationalist community at this time and is likely isolating this round of censorship primarily to the Angry Patriots movement and their affiliates.

The head of one of the largest suppliers of surveillance equipment to Russian special services died on July 22. Russian law enforcement found “IKS Holding” Head Anton Cherepennikov dead in his office on July 22 and later claimed that Cherepennikov suffocated during a xenon gas therapy session. IKS Holding owns the developer of the YADRO data storage system, which Russian authorities reportedly use in efforts to monitor Russian internet users, and the Citadel Group, which produces operational-search measures that Russian special services use to listen to phone calls and monitor internet activities.

Key Takeaways:

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed his continuing concern over the potential threats that the Wagner Group and Yevgeny Prigozhin may pose to him through symbolism and posturing during a meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in St. Petersburg, Russia.
  • Lukashenko told Putin that the Wagner Group in Belarus will remain in central Belarus likely subtly reminding Putin of the threat the Wagner military organization still poses to him and underlining Lukashenko’s control over that power.
  • Putin and Lukashenko also amplified information operations targeting the West.
  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CNN on July 23 that Ukrainian forces have liberated approximately 50 percent of the territory that Russian forces captured since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022.
  • Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations on at least three sectors of the front line and advanced on July 23.
  • Russian forces conducted another series of missile strikes against port infrastructure and the city center in Odesa City overnight on July 22 to 23, severely damaging civilian areas.
  • The Kremlin may be attempting to censor an isolated segment of the Russian ultranationalist community that is consistently vocally hostile to the Kremlin. […]
  • The head of one of the largest suppliers of surveillance equipment to Russian special services died on July 22.
  • Russian forces continued offensive operations along the Svatove-Kreminna line and reportedly made tactically significant gains.
  • Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations along the Svatove-Kreminna line and in the Bakhmut area, and reportedly made gains near Bakhmut.
  • Russian forces continued offensive operations in the Bakhmut and Avdiivka-Donetsk City areas but did not advance.
  • Ukrainian forces continued offensive operations in the western Donetsk-eastern Zaporizhzhia oblasts border area and in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast and advanced.
  • Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks in the western Donetsk-eastern Zaporizhzhia oblasts border area.
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) continues to recruit prisoners to fight in Ukraine.
  • Russian occupation authorities are bringing foreign citizens to occupied Ukraine to artificially alter demographics. (unquote)

Blinken says Ukraine has taken back 50% of territory that Russia seized, Reuters reports. “US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that while Ukraine has reconquered half the territory that Russia initially seized in its invasion, Kyiv faced a very hard fight to win back more.

It’s already taken back about 50% of what was initially seized,” Blinken said in an interview to CNN on Sunday. These are still relatively early days of the counteroffensive. It is tough, he said, adding: It will not play out over the next week or two. We’re still looking I think at several months.

Hopes that Ukraine could quickly clear Moscow’s forces from its territory following the launch of a summer counteroffensive are fading as Kyiv’s troops struggle to breach heavily entrenched Russian positions in the country’s south and east. Late last month President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was quoted as saying that progress against Russian forces was “slower than desired” but that Kyiv would not be pressured into speeding it up.”

Russia failed long ago in its objective of wiping Ukraine off the map – US Secretary of State, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing CNN. “US Secretary of State Antony Blinken believes that Russia “has already lost the war” in Ukraine, given the goals that Russia set for itself at the beginning of the full-scale invasion. The objective was to erase Ukraine from the map, to eliminate its independence, its sovereignty, to subsume it into Russia. That failed a long time ago.

Blinken stressed that, unlike the Russians, Ukrainians are fighting for their land, for their future, for their country, for their freedom. In the same interview, Blinken stated that the US believes Ukraine’s counteroffensive will continue for at least a few more months.

He added that during the counteroffensive operations, the Armed Forces of Ukraine faced significant resistance. These are still relatively early days of a counter-offensive. It’s hard. It won’t be completed in the next week or two, Blinken added.”

Ukraine’s Defence Minister believes Ukraine will win war by next summer and join NATO, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing CNN. “Oleksii Reznikov, Defence Minister of Ukraine, believes that Ukraine will win the war by next summer and could be admitted to NATO in July 2024.

The minister said that he considers the NATO summit in July next year to be a possible moment for Ukraine to join the Alliance. Who knows, maybe it will be a very important day for Ukraine. It is just my forecast, Reznikov said. He acknowledged that Ukraine will be able to join the Alliance only after the war is over, because we have no options to have a unanimous vote while the fighting is going on.

Asked whether he thought the war would be over by next summer, he quickly replied: Yes. We will win this war.”

Counteroffensive may stall due to lack of weapons and training – WSJ, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing The Wall Street Journal. “Ukraine’s counteroffensive may stall due to the lack of sufficient weapons and training of the Ukrainian military. When Ukraine launched a counteroffensive in the spring of this year, the Western military knew that Kyiv did not have enough training and weapons – from shells to combat aircraft – to dislodge Russian troops. However, they hoped that Ukrainian courage and ingenuity would win.

They haven’t. Deep and deadly minefields, extensive fortifications and Russian air power have combined to largely block significant advances by Ukrainian troops. Instead, the campaign risks descending into a stalemate with the potential to burn through lives and equipment without a major shift in momentum. the WSJ says. As the likelihood of any large-scale Ukrainian breakthrough decreases this year, Washington and its allies face the disturbing prospect of a longer war requiring huge new investments in modern weapons and more training to give Kyiv a chance to win.

The publication recalls that US President Joe Biden will participate in the elections in the fall of 2024. According to many people in Washington, the White House’s concern about the impact of the war on the election campaign is prompting increasing caution about the amount of support that can be offered to Kyiv. At the same time, it is noted that American indecision contrasts with a change of views in Europe, where in recent months, more and more leaders have been inclined to believe that Ukraine must win the conflict and Russia must lose to ensure the security of the continent.

But the European military does not have enough resources to provide Ukraine with everything it needs to dislodge the occupation forces from about 20% of the country’s territory they control. Western diplomats say that European leaders are likely to significantly increase support for Kyiv if they feel the reluctance of the United States. At the same time, Ukrainian and Western intelligence says the Russian military has low morale due to exhaustion, poor supplies, and civil infightings among Russian leaders.

Russia appears unable to seize the initiative and attack Ukrainian positions, but its forces remain robust enough to man hundreds of miles of fortifications and large numbers of aircraft, which are keeping Kyiv’s troops at bay, the WSJ said.

The publication also reminds that no Western army would try to break through the established Russian defences without controlling the sky. Ukraine’s lack of air defence and anti-aircraft weapons has allowed Russia to dominate in the skies over most of the front. If Ukraine receives the F-16 fighter jets, their impact on combat operations will depend on many factors, including the number of aircraft delivered, the complexity of their onboard equipment and the weapons systems they will be equipped with. The WSJ writes that employing modern fighters in combat will be also challenging, requiring a different level of synchronisation of Ukrainian operations.”

Tenth convoy of Wagnerites arrives in Belarus, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Belaruski Hajun, an independent Belarusian military monitoring media outlet  “On the morning of 23 July, while Oleksandr Lukashenko visited Russia, the 10th convoy of Wagner Private Military Company (PMC) fighters arrived in Belarus, activists report. According to the activists, there are at least 10 pieces of equipment in the convoy: a tented KamAZ truck, several UAZ-452s, a Volkswagen Transporter minibus and at least six trucks. 

It is noted that most of the cars have their number plates covered or have number plates with Russian registration or registration in the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic and Donetsk People’s Republic. The convoy is accompanied by the traffic police of the Republic of Belarus. It is also noteworthy that this convoy changed its route and, unlike the previous ones, did not follow a direct motorway. 

The State Border Guard Service of Ukraine states that approximately 5,000 Russian mercenaries of the Wagner Group are in Belarus as of 22 July. Meanwhile, Lukashenko said that the Wagnerites want to attack Poland, and he is allegedly restraining them.”

Ukraine is losing on average 4-5 men to advance a few hundred feet in its counteroffensive, causing morale to suffer, report says, Business Insider reports. “Nederst i skjemaet

Ukrainian troops are suffering from deteriorating morale as casualties mount in their grinding counteroffensive to take back territory from Russia, a report says. Every hundred meters of land we gain means 4-5 infantrymen who have left the ranks – this is the average loss,” an unnamed Ukrainian infantryman told The Kyiv Post. He said that as soon as they attack Russian positions, they use artillery to hammer our positions from front to back.

As long as we are standing and holding on, we can say there are no losses; there may be some light injuries. As soon as we move forward, there are hefty losses. Up to half a unit for every kilometre we capture, or roughly 0.6 miles, and it is not a given that we will hold this kilometre later, he said. The soldier, fighting near Russian-occupied Donetsk, told the outlet that his unit had captured and then lost several Russian trenches because Ukraine’s armed forces had been training to capture them but had not practiced holding them from counterattacks, he said.

A combat medic who requested anonymity told The Kyiv Post that the Russians were given too much advance notice of Ukraine’s counteroffensive, which meant they were well-prepared. Russian forces prepared by creating dense minefields, which means Ukraine’s forces are moving at a snail’s pace. Every square inch is mined, he said. He added that many sappers are being killed as they go ahead of the other troops.

Along with coming up against mines, Ukrainian soldiers are also facing attacks by booby traps, shell strikes, serial bombs, artillery, and more, the soldier said. In one month, we have only advanced one kilometre and a half. We move forward by inches, but I don’t think it’s worth all the human resources and materiel that we have spent, he said.

Despite some cases of deteriorating morale, the soldiers said their units were still willing to carry on attacking. Other units who spoke to the outlet painted a different, more upbeat picture, particularly those fighting around Bakhmut, who said attacks have been victorious and that morale is excellent. While Ukraine is suffering from high casualties, fewer men are being killed than expected because of cautious tactics and high-quality armored vehicles supplied by Ukraine’s Western allies, The Times of London reported.”

  1. Consequences and what to do?

What I Learned in Ukraine, Øverst i skjemaet

Nederst i skjemaet

Bret Stephens shared in The New York Times. “[…] I learned how strange it is to visit a country to which no plane flies and, as of last Monday, no ship sails — thanks to Vladimir Putin’s cruel and cynical withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative through which Ukrainian farm products reached hungry countries like Kenya, Lebanon and Somalia. The only feasible way for a visitor to get from the Polish border to Kyiv is a nine-hour train ride, where the sign inside the carriage door urges, “Be Brave Like Ukraine.” […]

I learned that you need to download the Air Alert! app to your smartphone as soon as you enter the country. It sounds an alarm every time the system detects drones, missiles or other incoming aerial threats in your vicinity, something that happened time and again during my short stay. […]

I learned that Kyiv is hopping. Despite what the US Embassy says have been 1,620 missile and drone attacks on the city — and despite an economy that contracted 29 percent in the first year of the war — cars jam the roads, people dine in outdoor cafes on well-swept sidewalks and activists, civil servants and elected officials freely share divergent views with visiting columnists. To adapt a phrase attributed to Yitzhak Rabin, Ukrainians are going about their everyday lives as if there is no war, while waging war as if there is no everyday life.

I learned that every member of the American Embassy staff in Kyiv, led by our courageous and cleareyed ambassador, Bridget Brink, volunteered for the duty. […] They have the job of overseeing one of the largest US assistance efforts since the Marshall Plan, ensuring that tens of thousands of individual pieces of American military hardware in Ukrainian hands are properly accounted for, reconstituting an embassy that was gutted on the eve of Russia’s invasion and keeping tabs on Russian war crimes — some 95,000 of which have been documented so far by the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office.

I learned what it was like to sit in conference rooms and walk along corridors that would soon be shattered by Russian ordnance. On Tuesday, I joined a diplomatic group led by Administrator Samantha Power of the United States Agency for International Development on a visit to the port of Odesa. Power met first with Ukrainian officials to discuss logistical options for their exports after Putin’s withdrawal from the grain agreement, then with farmers to discuss issues like de-mining their fields and de-risking their finances. The stately Port Authority building in which the meetings took place, a purely civilian target, was struck barely a day after our departure.

I learned that Ukrainians have no interest in turning their victimization into an identity. Years ago, in Belgrade, I saw how the Serbian government had preserved the wreck of its old defense ministry, hit by NATO bombs in the 1999 Kosovo war, in keeping with its self-pitying perceptions of that war. By contrast, in Bucha, the Kyiv suburb that suffered some of the worst atrocities during Russia’s brief occupation in the early days of the war, I witnessed the transformation of apartment buildings dotted with patched-up bullet holes into trendy co-working spaces. As Anatoliy Fedoruk, the mayor of Bucha, told Power, “Memory will stay in memoirs but residents want to rebuild without reminders.”

I learned that Ukrainians aren’t likely to trade sovereign territory for Western security assurances, much less for some kind of armistice deal with Moscow. They tried the former in the 1990s with the Budapest Memorandum, in which they surrendered the nuclear arsenal on their soil to Russia for the sake of toothless guarantees of territorial integrity. They tried the latter with the equally toothless Minsk agreements after Russia’s first invasion in 2014. The goal of Western policy should be to provide Ukraine with the military means they need to win, rather than to pressure Ukraine into again bargaining away its rights to sovereignty and security for the sake of assuaging our anxieties about Russian escalation.

I learned that, for all the aid we’ve given Ukraine, we are the true beneficiaries in the relationship, and they the true benefactors. Ben Wallace, Britain’s usually thoughtful defense minister, suggested after this month’s NATO summit that Ukrainians should show more gratitude to their arms suppliers. That gets the relationship backwards. NATO countries are paying for their long-term security in money, which is cheap, and munitions, which are replaceable. Ukrainians are counting their costs in lives and limbs lost.”

Hans Petter Midttun: I chose to share the Bret Stephens observations from visiting Ukraine – not only because I have made many of the same during my four returns to Kyiv after the full-scale war started – but also because his observations are important.

The words “Be Brave Like Ukraine” signify so much more than just courage.

After 9,5 years of war, Ukrainians maintain an exemptional spirit. As their country is suffering massive destruction, they are rebuilding. Ukraine is discussing how it can learn from other countries and skip stages of development and introduce developing technologies.

Ukrainians are indeed going about their everyday lives as if there is no war while waging war as if there is no everyday life.

I have myself experienced walking into a shopping mall minutes after the end of an air raid, only to hear the squeals of happiness and joyful laughter of children enjoying the local attractions. Or watch children’s carefree use of playgrounds, knowing that the situation for far too many children is radically different elsewhere in Ukraine. Daily, Ukrainian children experience the horror of war up front. Too many are killed or maimed by Putin’s soldiers. The war has made others orphans. Many are being forcibly deported and displaced by Russia. Millions have become refugees in European countries while others have become internally displaced. Parents are doing their uttermost to shield their children knowing that they represent Ukraine’s future and that the future – not the past – is the only thing that matters.

I learned that, for all the aid we’ve given Ukraine, we are the true beneficiaries in the relationship, and they are the true benefactors.

It is not the words of Ukrainians, but those of so many Western politicians who recognise the scope of the Russian aggression and acknowledge what is at stake for Europe.

Yes, we are all paying a price for Russia’s war against Ukraine. But the price we pay is in money. While the price Ukrainians pay is in blood. And if we let Putin win, all of us will pay a much higher price, for many years to come.

If Putin and other authoritarian leaders see that force is rewarded, they will use force again to achieve their goals. That would make our world more dangerous and all of us more vulnerable. So, it is in our security interest to support Ukraine. There will be no lasting peace if the aggressor wins. If oppression and autocracy prevail over freedom and democracy.” (Jens Stoltenberg, 25 November, 2022)

On 14 September 2022, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, stated:

Much is at stake here. Not just for Ukraine – but all of Europe and the world at large. […] This is not only a war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine. This is a war on our energy, a war on our economy, a war on our values and a war on our future. This is about autocracy against democracy.”

Ukrainians are enduring suffering, horror, and destruction knowing that they are not only fighting for their right to exist but also for the security and stability of Europe. They are defending democracy – our shared values and principles – while its international partners do their best to remain detached to avoid a confrontation with Russia.

Their defence aid is arriving slowly and incremental, denying Ukraine the opportunity to explore hard-won gains on the battlefield (autumn 2022) and giving Russia time to dig in and prepare for the Ukrainian counteroffensive.

And still, the West is denying Ukraine all the tools it needs to succeed. Even more telling, some dare to express disappointment for the lack of progress on the battlefield and the absence of Ukrainian gratitude.

While most Ukrainians focus on ending the war and rebuilding their country, too many in the West fear that too much support may trigger the war in Ukraine to spread. While Ukrainians dream of the restoration of peace and normality, the West dreams of a return to normality and a reduction of the costs of living. While Ukraine hopes for the support needed to defeat Russia, the West fear the potential consequences of a Russian defeat. While Ukraine is fighting for our shared values and principles, NATO member states have become skilled in voicing their concerns.

This explains why nearly a decade after the war started only 11 out of 31 member countries have reached the pledge to invest at least 2% of GDP in defence. Why nearly a decade into the war, the West has failed to ramp up the defence industries’ production capacity. It not least, explains why NATO members acknowledge that expenditure beyond 2% of GDP will be needed to remedy existing shortfalls and meet the requirements across all domains arising from a more contested security order – a decade after the security order became contested.

While Ukraine is responding and countering Russian aggressions, NATO is talking about them.

Ukraine is desperately defending itself because it knows that no Western “security assurances” or “peace agreement” with Russia will guarantee its sovereignty and independence. The USA and the UK failed to live up to their Budapest commitments; NATO failed to fulfil its commitments as defined in its 2010 Strategic Concept; the UN failed to respond resolutely to Russia’s violation of its charters; and not least, the Russian Federation has failed to live up to any of its bi- and multilateral agreements and treaties.

Even as Ukraine is fighting for its existence – and the war continues to escalate – its partners are failing to do what is needed.

This is why we need to stop discussing why the World failed to stop Word War 2 from happening despite the many signs of intent from a reversionistic and aggressive Nazi Germany. Because history is repeating itself – the World has once again failed to stop a reversionistic and aggressive imperialistic power from waging a war with global repercussions – it is time to start discussing why we failed to acknowledge and act upon 15 years of Russian violations of international law. Despite its stated intentions, its military build-up, its hybrid war, and wars of aggression.

Why did NATO fail to prepare for a full-scale war despite the indications and warnings?

Provide Ukraine with the military aid it needs to deter Russia’s aggression, The Washington Post argued 19 September 2014, days after Ukraine had been forced to accept a cease-fire that locked in Russian control over a large slice of eastern Ukraine, and as President Poroshenko was leaving Washington after having pleaded for defence support. He had hoped to prevent renewed Russian aggression. “The weapons will help us to prevent the next war”, he said, knowing that full-scale war would be coming unless Russia was deterred.

Why are the Russians doing this to Ukraine? Because they can, because the world has allowed them to,” Yuliya Payevska said in her testimony to the US Helsinki Commission.

Russia was not deterred, and a full-scale war is taking place in Europe. Deterring Russia – mobilising the US and European defence industries, rebuilding NATO Force and Command structure, military diplomacy, evicting Russia from Ukraine and punishing it for its war of aggression – is the only way forward if we want to restore peace in Europe.

Continuing a strategy that turned peace into conflict and later, full-scale war is utterly irrational. Yet, that is what most Heads of States are arguing.

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