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Russo-Ukrainian war, day 526. Russia claims naval drone tried to attack its ship in Black Sea

As well, explosions reported near Russian-held airbase in Crimea, Ukraine identifies hundreds of thousands of Russian soldiers for war crimes checks and wants a peace summit this fall
Russo-Ukrainian war, day 526. Russia claims naval drone tried to attack its ship in Black Sea

Morning report day 526 – August 3


According to information from the General Staff as of 06.00 03.08.2023, supplemented by its [18:00 assessment].

“Last night, the Russian Federation struck another blow with Iranian attack UAVs of the “Shahed” type on Ukraine. Information regarding the consequences of this terrorist attack is currently being clarified.

During the past day, the Russian Federation also struck with Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles of the “Shahed” type. Ukrainian air defence destroyed 23 attack UAVs.

The enemy launched 5 missile strikes, 89 airstrikes and fired 67 MLRS strikes at the positions of our troops and populated areas. Unfortunately, there are victims among the civilian population.

The probability of further missile and air strikes on the entire territory of Ukraine remains very high.

During the past day, 44 combat clashes took place.

  • Volyn and Polissya axes: the operational situation has not changed significantly.
  • Sivershchyna and Slobozhanshchyna axes: the enemy carried out airstrikes in the areas of Volfyny, Stepny, Sumy Oblast, and Kozachoya Lopan, Kharkiv Oblast. He carried out mortar and artillery shelling of more than 25 settlements, including Senkivka, Karpovychi, Novovasylivka of Chernihiv region; Volfyne, Krasnopillya, Rozhkovichi, Stara Huta, Grabovske in the Sumy region and Timofiivka, Veterinarne, Okhrimivka, Petropavlivka in the Kharkiv region.
  • Kupiansk axis: the enemy carried out airstrikes in the areas of Petropavlivka, Ivanivka, and Kislivka. Kamianka, Dvorichna, Zapadne, Novomlynsk, Figolivka, Kindrashivka, Krasne Pershe and Kupiansk of the Kharkiv region were subjected to enemy artillery and mortar attacks.
  • Lyman axis: the enemy carried out airstrikes in the areas of Bilogorivka, Luhansk region, and Serebryanka and Spirnyi – Donetsk region. The settlements of Nevske, Bilogorivka in the Luhansk region and Verkhnokamianske, Spirne and Torske in the Donetsk region were hit by artillery fire.
  • Bakhmut axis: the enemy made unsuccessful attempts to restore lost positions west of Kurdyumivka, south of Andriivka, and west of Klishchiivka of the Donetsk region. The occupiers carried out airstrikes in the districts of Fedorivka, Maiskyi, Druzhba and New York. More than 10 settlements, including Vasyukivka, Hryhorivka, Bohdanivka, Bila Gora, Chasiv Yar, and Ivanivske of the Donetsk region, were affected by enemy artillery shelling.
  • Avdiivka axis: the enemy launched an airstrike in the Avdiivka area. Novokalynove, Stepove, Berdychi, Lastochkina, Avdiivka and Pervomaiske of the Donetsk region were hit by artillery fire.
  • Marinka axis: the defence forces continue to hold back the advance of Russian troops in the area of the city of Marinka. The enemy shelled the settlements of Krasnohorivka, Oleksandropil, Gostre, Mariinka, Paraskoviivka, and Novomykhailivka in the Donetsk region.
  • Shakhtarske axis: the enemy carried out airstrikes in the areas of Staromayorskyi and Makarivka. Made unsuccessful attempts to restore the lost position west of Staromayorsky and north of Urozhany. More than 15 settlements, including Vugledar, Vodyane, Blagodatne, Storozheve, Rivnopil and Zelene Pole of the Donetsk region, were hit by artillery fire.
  • Zaporizhzhia axes: the enemy is concentrating its main efforts on preventing the further advance of our troops. The enemy carried out airstrikes in the districts of Gulyaipol, Mala Tokmachka, Novodanilivka and Pyatikhatok of the Zaporizhzhia region. More than 15 settlements, including Novodarivka, Biloghirya, Gulyaipole, Zaliznychne, Pyatikhatky, and Kamianske of the Zaporizhzhia region, were hit by artillery fire.
  • Kherson axis: the enemy carried out airstrikes in the Odradokamyanka and Antonivka areas. More than 20 settlements, including Vesele, Dudchany, Dniprovske, Tyaginka, Lviv, Kizomys and the city of Kherson, were hit by artillery fire.

At the same time, the Ukrainian Defense Forces continue to conduct offensive operations on Melitopol’ and Berdyans’k axes, are entrenched at the reached boundaries, and carry out counter-battery countermeasures.

Russian occupiers continue to mobilize prisoners. Thus, following the order of the so-called “Ministry of Internal Affairs of the DNR”, measures are being taken to recruit persons who are serving sentences or have been detained for crimes of light or medium severity to the units of the internal forces. It was also established that becoming Wounded in Action does not remove their convictions, and persons who were under investigation will be cleared of suspicion only upon demobilization. The terrorists were tasked with intensifying the fight against crime and replenishing 1,000 units of internal forces at the expense of those suspected of committing criminal offences. At the same time, the re-certification of the police collaborators who have defected to the Russian Federation will be carried out after they have completed combat missions as part of the joint battalions of the internal troops of the so-called “MoI DNR”.

On August 1, Ukrainian Air Force launched 9 strikes on areas where the enemy’s personnel, weapons and military equipment are concentrated, and 3 on the occupiers’ anti-aircraft missile complexes. Also, our defenders destroyed 9 operational-tactical reconnaissance UAVs.

On August 2, the Ukrainian missile and artillery troops hit 21 artillery pieces in firing positions, 1 radar station, 3 control points, 1 area of concentration of weapons and military equipment, 2 anti-aircraft defence facilities, 1 area of concentration of personnel and 2 enemy ammunition depots.“

Russia claims its ship was attacked by a naval drone in the Black Sea, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing TASS, with reference to  Igor Konashenkov, representative of the Ministry of Defence of Russia. “The Russian Ministry of Defence claims that Ukraine tried to attack a Russian ship accompanying civilian sea transport in the Black Sea with a naval drone. Konashenkov claims it happened in the southwestern part of the Black Sea; the Ukrainian sea drone was allegedly destroyed. 

On 1 August, the Russian Ministry of Defence also claimed that Ukraine allegedly attempted to attack the ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet 340 kilometres southwest of occupied Sevastopol.”

Explosion sounds near air base in Crimea, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Radio Svoboda. “Anonymous Telegram channels have reported an explosion near the settlement of Hvardiiske in the Simferopol district of Crimea. The Hvardiiske Air Base is located there. The air base is under the control of the Air and Space Forces of the Russian Federation. Radio Svoboda reports that the 37th Mixed Aviation Regiment of the Russian Air Force is based there.

The occupation authorities did not react to the incident. In addition, the occupiers blocked Kerch (Crimean) Bridge on the morning of 2 August. It is currently reported that traffic has been restored.”

On the night of August 3, 2023, the enemy attacked from the north (Bryansk region) with “Shahed” type UAVs, the Ukrainian General Staff reports. “A total of 15 of these drones were launched. […] All enemy UAVs were destroyed.

On the night of August 2, 2023, the Russian occupation forces attacked Ukraine with Iranian attack drones of the “Shahed” type, the Ukrainian General Staff reports. “They were launched from three directions – Kursk, Primorsko-Akhtarsk (Russian Federation), Chauda (Crimea).

Anti-aircraft defense of the Defense Forces of Ukraine destroyed 23 attack UAVs. Most of the “shaheeds” were shot down in Kyiv region and Odesa region. Unfortunately, part of the drones launched by the enemy hit the port infrastructure in Odesa region. Local administrations will report on the consequences of the strike.”

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

  • Undergrowth regrowing across the battlefields of southern Ukraine is likely one factor contributing to the generally slow progress of combat in the area.
  • The predominately arable land in the combat zone has now been left fallow for 18 months, with the return of weeds and shrubs accelerating under the warm, damp summer conditions. The extra cover helps camouflage Russian defensive positions and makes defensive mine fields harder to clear.
  • Although undergrowth can also provide cover for small stealthy infantry assaults, the net effect has been to make it harder for either side to make advances.
  • Over the last two months, Russia has likely started forming up major new formations to add depth to its ground forces. These include the 25th Combined Arms Army.
  • Since its invasion of Ukraine, Russia has mainly deployed mobilised reservists to back-fill established formations, or as part of territorial defence infantry regiments. It has rarely established new, all-arms organisations such as combined arms armies which are designed to be a self-sufficient force. An exception to this was the 3rd Army Corps created in summer 2022, which has generally performed poorly.
  • Russia will likely deploy any new formation as a reserve force in Ukraine. However, in the longer term, Russia aspires to strengthen its forces facing NATO. Without a major new wave of mandatory mobilisation, Russia is unlikely to find enough new troops to resource even one new army.

As of Thursday 3 August, 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 247850 (+620)
  • Tanks – 4224 (+7)
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 8234 (+21)
  • Artillery systems – 4892 (+26)
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 704 (+4)
  • Air defence means – 465 (+2)
  • Aircraft – 315 (+0)
  • Helicopters – 311 (+0)
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 7372 (+23)
  • Vessels/boats – 18 (+0)
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 4077 (+35)
  • Special equipment – 721 (+3)
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0)
  • Cruise missiles – 1347 (+0)

Russians brought 65 wounded to Skadovsk after HIMARS missiles struck Dzharylhach Island, – Mass media, reports, citing the Center for Journalistic Investigations (CJI). “After the strikes of highly mobile M142 HIMARS artillery missile systems on Dzharylhach Island in the Kherson region, the occupiers brought about 65 of their wounded soldiers to the Skadovsky Central City Hospital. Some of them died on operating tables. The invaders strictly forbade the locals to talk about the number of their dead and wounded and began rotating doctors from the Russian Federation.

It is noted that locals were strictly forbidden to talk about losses among the occupying forces. Those who do not comply with this order are threatened with reprisals. Russians threaten terror even to family members of violators.”

Iran is pursuing the construction of drone factories in Belarus and Russia, ISW reports. “Iran is pursuing the construction of drone factories in Belarus and Russia, which will help Russia acquire Iranian drones more readily and provide Iran with numerous economic and military benefits. […] Ukraine claimed in May 2023 that Iranian engineers are exploring how to convert factories in Gomel, Belarus into drone production facilities. The Biden administration revealed in June that Iran is helping Russia build a drone manufacturing factory in Yelabuga, Tatarstan, Russia. Iran opened an Ababil-2 drone factory in Dushanbe, Tajikistan in May 2022. Bagheri notably attended the opening ceremony of this factory. The production of Iranian drones in Belarus and Russia will benefit both Russia and Iran:

  • Russia will benefit by acquiring Iranian drones for its invasion of Ukraine more readily. Israeli and Ukrainian media have noted that the construction of an Iranian drone factory in Belarus would alleviate the “logistical problems” Russia faces in transporting Iranian drones from Iran to Russia via the Middle East. […]
  • Iran will benefit by receiving revenue for the Iranian economy. The British Secret Intelligence Service revealed in July that Iran seeks to acquire cash from Russia in return for Iranian drones. Iran is currently facing critical economic conditions, with the value of the rial surpassing 500,000 rials to one US dollar on August 1. The Iran Statistical Center reported on July 25 that Iran’s inflation rate is approximately 47.5 percent.
  • Russia can also benefit Iran’s military. Western media speculated in late 2022 that Iran might receive Russian Su-35 fighter jets in return for supplying Russia with drones. […] Western media reported in March that Russia provided Iran with advanced surveillance software and cyber weapons in exchange for drones. A high-ranking Israeli military official separately expressed concern in June that Russia is providing Iran with Western weapons captured in Ukraine.”

SSU special forces destroyed more than 1 billion dollars’ worth of Russian equipment, reports, citing Oleh Yemets, commander of the White Wolf special unit of the SSU’s Special Operations Centre A. “One of the units of the SSU’s Special Operations Centre A alone destroyed more than $1 billion worth of Russian equipment. In total, the special forces of this SSU unit are responsible for about 5% of all Russian tanks destroyed by Ukrainian troops since the beginning of the war. That is, every 20th tank burned in Ukraine was the work of a special SSU unit.


Russian strikes devastate 40,000t of grain bound for Africa, China, Israel, Ukrinform reports, citing Deputy Prime Minister for Reconstruction, Minister of Community, Territory, and Infrastructure Development Oleksandr Kubrakov. “Ukrainian grain is irreplaceable for the world and it cannot be replaced by any other country in the coming years. That is why any disruption of logistics chains causes a shortage and price hikes, which affects everyone around the world, the minister emphasized.

According to Kubrakov, the Russians attacked warehouses and grain silos located in the ports of the Danube cluster. Almost 40,000 tonnes of products bound for African countries, China, and Israel were damaged. The Port of Izmail suffered the greatest destruction. The sea station and infrastructure of the Ukrainian Danube Shipping Company, a key Ukrainian freight carrier on the Danube, were also damaged.

The world must resist. Attacks on Ukrainian ports are a threat to the world. We are able to defend ourselves, our air defense forces know how to use weapons effectively. We need more of those. Every system is a life saved.

Russia’s overnight attack on Izmail port causes jump in food prices worldwide – Reuters, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Reuters. “Wheat prices on the Chicago Stock Exchange jumped 6.5% after the Russian attack on the port of Izmail on the night of 1-2 August. Chicago wheat prices jumped 4% following Wednesday’s attack and were still up around 2.5% later in the morning, with traders worried anew about a hit to global supplies from driving Ukraine, one of the world’s top exporters, off the market, the media writes. The agency cited an “industry source” who confirmed that the level of damage at the port of Ismail was “serious”.

Analysts also report that grain exports from Ukraine decreased by 40% for the month compared to June as of 1 August due to the breakdown of the grain deal, the agency says. Russia’s attack on Izmail means that the Kremlin is ramping up its use of force to reimpose a [maritime] blockade [of Ukraine], Reuters writes.

The Danube port, thanks to NATO member Romania, has served as the main alternative route from Ukraine for grain exports since Russia resumed the de facto blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports in mid-July.

However, Russia has been relentlessly attacking Ukraine’s agricultural and port infrastructure for over two weeks after refusing to extend a deal that lifted its wartime blockade of Ukrainian ports last year. Russian drones struck Ukraine’s Danube ports in the end of July, destroying a grain storage point. Ukrainian officials said Moscow had struck 26 port facilities, five civilian ships and 180,000 tonnes of grain in nine days of strikes since Russia’s withdrawal from the grain deal. Moscow says it will consider ships bound for Ukrainian seaports as potential military targets.”


Total war-related damage to Ukraine’s infrastructure exceeds $150B – KSE, Ukrinform reports, citing the Kyiv School of Economics (KSE Institute). “As of June 2023, the total amount of direct documented damage inflicted on Ukraine’s infrastructure due to Russia’s full-scale invasion is estimated at $150.5 billion (by replacement cost),” the report says. According to the researchers’ calculations, the largest share in the total amount of losses is that to the housing stock, $55.9 billion, taking into account losses of approximately $1 billion from flooding and destruction of residential buildings due to the explosion at the Kakhovka HPP dam. According to preliminary reports by regional military administrations, as of June 2023, the total number of housing facilities destroyed or damaged as a result of hostilities stands at about 167,200, of which 147,800 are private households, 19,100 apartment blocks, and 350 dormitories.

The infrastructure sector (transportation, railway infrastructure, road management, aviation industry and port industry) is a runner-up in terms of losses incurred ($36.6 billion). Losses to business assets are estimated at $11.4 billion. It is emphasized that at least 426 large and medium-sized private enterprises and state-owned companies have been damaged or destroyed since the outset of the war but the number of destroyed enterprises may be significantly higher, since there is currently no information about facilities located in the temporarily occupied territories.

Direct documented damages caused by the destruction of educational facilities amount to $9.7 billion. In total, as a result of hostilities, almost 3,400 educational institutions have been damaged. According to tentative estimates, $8.8 billion losses have been caused to the infrastructure of the Ukrainian energy industry, of which $638 million is direct losses from the blow-up of the Kakhovka HPP. Another $8.7 billion is direct losses to the agricultural sector.

The total amount of damages from the destruction and damage to social security, research, and health care facilities, as well as cultural buildings, sports facilities, and administrative buildings stands at about $5.9 billion. As reported earlier, the Ministry of Economy estimated direct damage caused to Ukraine due to the explosion of the Kakhovka HPP at nearly $2 billion.”

Ukraine has only 26 units of equipment for humanitarian demining, Ukrinform reports. “Humanitarian demining is a separate direction without which recovery or transformation is simply impossible. We are already actively working on it, we are enlisting the help of partners. There are specific countries that can help, there is specific equipment that we need, in particular, these are drones and heavy demining machines. Currently, we have only 26 of them in our country. This is very few. We need more,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said during a meeting with the heads of foreign diplomatic missions, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.”

Russian soldiers who tortured, raped or killed civilians are not to be exchanged – Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Yurii Belousov, Head of the Department for Combating Crimes Committed during the Armed Conflict at the Office of the Prosecutor General, in an interview with Interfax-Ukraine news agency. “We have a particular stance on this: if a person commits especially serious crimes, then he is to serve his sentence in Ukraine and is not subject to exchange. These are our conditional red lines. Because if we exchange everyone, what will stop them from committing war crimes? When this concerns murder, sexual violence, torture, then these sentences will be served in Ukraine.

Regarding the exchange, the representative of the Prosecutor General’s Office noted that there should be a certain balance. On the one hand, Ukraine has obligations to the victims – people require justice and punishment of the guilty. On the other hand, there are obligations to Ukrainian citizens held in Russian captivity. Therefore, these are difficult decisions, added the head of the department.

Specifying how many of the convicts participated in the exchange procedure, Belousov said that they can be counted in ones, not in dozens. When it comes to war crimes, he said, this typically applies to citizens of the Russian Federation; citizens of Ukraine from certain regions of the Luhansk and Donetsk Oblast are also captured, but their actions are qualified under the article of high treason.

Speaking about how many Russian military men are physically held in Ukraine, the head of the Department of War said: The figure is hundreds. I’d like to note that we do not have civilian hostages, while they hold our civilians [in captivity – ed.].”

Ukraine identifies hundreds of thousands of Russian soldiers, checks their involvement in war crimes – Prosecutor General’s Office, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Yurii Belousov, Head of the Department of Counteracting Crimes Committed Amidst an Armed Conflict of the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine, in an interview for Interfax-Ukraine news agency. “The Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine, jointly with the Security Service of Ukraine and the National Police of Ukraine, have identified hundreds of thousands Russian soldiers, who are in Ukraine at the moment. The law enforcers are currently checking their involvement in war crimes.

There are certain databases with personal information of all identified Russians – these of the military and the intelligence. Not all of them have committed war crimes. It is important to understand that – unfortunately, crossing the border by the military during an armed conflict is not considered a crime, according to international standards. And we adhere to these standards, and the rule of law is of utmost importance for us.

There is also a category of potential suspects whose involvement in committing war crimes is being investigated. There are tens of thousands of such soldiers. Belousov reported that there were 386 individuals suspected of committing war crimes. Indictment acts against 225 of these individuals have been filed in court, 54 suspects were convicted, he specified.

Some of the suspects have received real prison sentences. 15 out of 54 sentences are real, not [passed] in absentia. As a rule, those who get them are low-ranking military, privates or low-ranking officers because we are not able to detain generals during combat action but, luckily for us, some of them die in combat, Bielousov remarked. In addition to that, all Russian prisoners of war are undergoing a special procedure, a screening. If we see there are signs that a prisoner of war may have been involved in war crimes, we start to dig deeper and investigate. Far from everyone is really involved, he revealed.”


United States prepares new military aid package for Ukraine – Politico, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Politico. “The United States may announce a new military aid package for Ukraine on the second Sunday of August. The newspaper said the US Department of Defense expects the latest tranche to be announced in Washington early next week. The article says Kyiv is looking forward to the arrival of US-made Abrams tanks, expected in Ukraine in early September, which could help break through the Russian defence line. Meanwhile, Pentagon sources expect the Ukrainian counteroffensive to be ongoing at least through the autumn and possibly into the winter.

Last week, the US Department of Defense announced another US$400 million military aid package for Ukraine. […] The total amount of US military assistance to Ukraine since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022 has reached more than US$43.7 billion. The United States announced the previous military aid package to Ukraine worth US$800 million on 7 July. It included cluster munitions for the first time since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion.”

Zelenskyy: 12 countries join G7 declaration on security guarantees for Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing President Zelensky during the meeting with the heads of foreign diplomatic institutions on 2 August. “To date, 12 other partner countries have joined the Joint Declaration with the G7: Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Iceland, Spain, Norway, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Finland, Czechia and Sweden.

Zelensky also added that Ukraine is starting work on bilateral agreements this week. The first state in this matter was the United States. According to Zelensky, the other countries that could join the Joint Declaration will be discussed at a closed-door meeting. The president also stated that in the second half of this year, the package of security guarantees for Ukraine “ill become quite specific.”

Zelensky: Ukraine wants to hold Peace Summit in fall, reports, citing President Zelensky with reference to Ukrinform. “Ukraine wants to hold the Global Peace Summit in the fall. The head of state noted that one of the main guidelines for the work of Ukrainian ambassadors should be the implementation of the Peace Formula. Gradually, the Peace Formula presented by Ukraine is gaining the support of the world majority. The absolute majority of states and peoples of the world seek peace and international tranquility, seek security and the reliable dismantling of threats created by Russia. The ten points of the Peace Formula reflect exactly this important task, Zelensky emphasized. […]

Public opinion in the countries where you are staying, leaders and their key advisers, the entire political class – everyone should know and understand Ukraine’s desire for a fair and honest peace. There are countries that can help with the security and political points of the Peace Formula, with issues of justice. There are countries whose humanitarian influence, role, traditions in international relations are able to help with the return of Ukrainian children who were forcibly deported to Russia, with the return of our military and civilian prisoners. We are doing our best at the national level. You should feel the mood within your countries, you must know the emotional and political levers and direct them for the full implementation of all ten points of the Peace Formula, Zelensky emphasized, addressing the diplomats.

The head of state emphasized the need to organize and hold the Global Peace Summit. We are working on making it happen this autumn. The world majority is needed and can be at the summit: representatives of the North and the South, the East, the West. Autumn is very, very soon, but there is still time to prepare the summit and involve the majority of the world’s countries. This depends on your activity, the President emphasized

New developments

  1. Polish Foreign Ministry says current relations with Ukraine are “not the best”, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Paweł Jabłoński on Polish radio station RMF FM. “Paweł Jabłoński, Polish Deputy Foreign Minister, has said relations with Ukraine have not been the best lately due to remarks made by Ukrainian government officials. Jabłoński said there are many issues on which Poland and Ukraine cannot agree. […] He believes that the representatives of Ukraine “expressed some [strong] emotions”, but, he said, Poland remains lenient because Ukraine is under attack. The Polish deputy foreign minister added that Ukraine should not attack its allies either. We follow a policy of Polish national interests. We support Ukraine to the extent that it aligns with Polish national interests. This has always been the case and will always be the case, the Polish official added.”
  2. Poland summons Ukraine’s ambassador amid dispute over Kyiv’s insufficient gratitude for support, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing European Pravda, with reference to a short message from the Polish Foreign Ministry. “Poland’s Foreign Ministry has summoned Ukraine’s ambassador Vasyl Zvarych after the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry summoned the Polish ambassador amid Warsaw’s criticism of Kyiv’s alleged lack of appreciation. […] Earlier on Tuesday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Polish ambassador after statements by Marcin Przydacz, the Secretary of State in the Chancellery of the President of Poland. In an interview with Polish media, Marcin Przydacz mentioned that Ukraine had received significant support from Poland, and it was time for Ukraine to start appreciating the role Poland played for it in recent months and years. The relevant statements of the Polish official were made in the context of the situation with blocking the export of Ukrainian grain through Poland. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian President’s Office said that a Polish official’s claims that Kyiv does not sufficiently appreciate the assistance provided by Poland were groundless.”

Andrii Sybiha, Deputy Head of the Ukrainian President’s Office also said: “Given these exceptional circumstances, pushing Ukraine to accept the closing of borders for Ukrainian agricultural products as part of its gratitude to Poland is equivalent to forcing us to agree to euthanasia. There is nothing worse than when your saviour demands a rescue fee from you while you bleed to death […].”

  1. Round-the-clock Russian strikes on Ukrainian cities once again make it clear that Russia does not seek peace, – US Ambassador Brink, reports, citing US Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink. “Russia’s attacks on Kryvyi Rih, Kharkiv, Kyiv, Kherson once again make it clear that Russia does not seek peace, does not think about the safety of the civilian population. Houses. Ports. Granaries. Historical buildings. Men. Women. Children. Round-the-clock intensified Russian strikes on Kryvyi Rih, Kharkiv, Kyiv, Kherson once again make it clear that Russia does not seek peace, does not think about the safety of the civilian population and does not consider to people all over the world who rely on food from Ukraine, Brink wrote.”
  2. Borrelll on latest attacks of Russian Federation against Ukraine: worsening global food security, reports, citing the chief diplomat of the European Union, Josep Borrelll. “Russia continues airstrikes on Kyiv, Odesa and Ukrainian ports on the Danube. These targeted attacks on Ukrainian grain infrastructure worsen global food security, putting millions of the most vulnerable population at risk, Borrelll wrote.”
  3. Putin talks to Erdoğan by phone, discussing grain deal and agreeing to meet in Türkiye, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Presidency of the Republic of Türkiye. “President Erdoğan had a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The two leaders agreed on Putin’s visit to Türkiye. Erdoğan stressed that no steps should be taken to escalate the Russo-Ukrainian war and emphasised the importance of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which he describes as a bridge of peace. He said a long-term halt to the Black Sea Initiative would not benefit anyone and that grain-hungry, low-income countries would be the most affected. Erdoğan noted that grain prices, down 23% earlier, had increased by 15% in the past two weeks. Erdoğan added that Türkiye would further intensify efforts and diplomacy to continue the Black Sea Grain Initiative.”
  4. Russian Federation is ready to return to “grain agreement”, but West must fulfil all obligations, – Putin, reports, citing RIA Novosti. “Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has declared his readiness to return to the grain agreement but wants the West to fulfill all the demands of the Russian Federation. In the negotiations with Erdogan, Putin outlined Russia’s position regarding the grain agreement, confirmed his readiness to return to it as soon as the West fulfils all its obligations to Russia, the message reads.”
  5. Polish Defence Ministry confirms that Belarusian helicopters violated state border, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing European Pravda, citing the statement of the Ministry. “On Tuesday evening, the Polish Ministry of National Defence confirmed that two Belarusian helicopters violated Polish airspace. The Polish Defence Ministry claims that Polish airspace was violated by helicopters that carried out exercises near the border. Minsk previously informed Warsaw about these exercises.”


On the War

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of Wednesday 2 August:

Russian forces continued offensive operations along the Kupiansk-Svatove line and made unconfirmed gains on August 2. Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces continued successful offensive efforts towards Kupiansk, and one milblogger reported that Russian forces advanced up to the eastern bank of the Oskil River near Kalynove (9km northeast of Kupiansk). The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that elements of the Western Grouping of Forces, including the 1st Guards Tank Army (Western Military District), improved their tactical positions near Tymkivka (20km due east of Kupiansk), Novoselivske (14km northwest of Svatove), and in a forested area in the Kuzemivka direction (14km northwest of Svatove).

Ukrainian forces conducted limited counterattacks along the Kupiansk-Svatove line and did not make claimed or confirmed advances on August 2. A Russian milblogger warned that the Ukrainians are accumulating forces in the area in preparation for a large counterattack. The Russian MoD claimed that Russian forces repelled Ukrainian attacks near Novoselivske, and a Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces unsuccessfully attacked north of Kuzemivka.

Russian forces continued offensive operations near Kreminna on August 2 and made confirmed gains. Geolocated footage posted on August 2 shows that Russian forces made marginal advances south of Bilohorivka (10km south of Kreminna) around July 31. Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces continue successful attacks on Ukrainian positions west of Kreminna near Torske and southwest of Kreminna in the Serebryanske forest area. Russian Center Group of Forces Spokesperson Alexander Savchuk additionally claimed that elements of the Russian Center Group of Forces captured seven Ukrainian strongholds near Karmazynivka (28km northwest of Kreminna) and Chervonopopivka (6km northwest of Kreminna).

Ukrainian forces conducted limited counterattacks near Kreminna but did not make any claimed or confirmed advances on August 2. Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted unsuccessful attacks between Svatove and Kreminna on the Raihorodka—Karmazynivka line (roughly 30km northwest of Kreminna). The Russian MoD claimed that Russian troops repelled unsuccessful Ukrainian ground attacks northwest of Kreminna near Novovodyane, west of Kreminna of Torske, and southwest of Kreminna in the Serebryanske forest area. Russian sources noted that Ukrainian forces continue continuous and unsuccessful attacks against Russian positions in the Serebryanske forest area.

Ukrainian forces continued offensive operations in the Bakhmut area on August 2 and reportedly advanced in the area. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces conducted offensive operations south of Bakhmut. A Kremlin-affiliated milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces attacked several Russian positions along the Andriivka-Kurdyumivka line (8km to 13km southwest of Bakhmut) and advanced north of Kurdyumivka. The milblogger claimed that the situation in Bakhmut has stabilized and that Russian and Ukrainian forces are engaged in positional battles near Klishchiivka (7km southwest of Bakhmut). Another milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted unsuccessful counterattacks near Mayorske (20km south of Bakhmut).

Russian forces continued ground attacks in the Bakhmut area on August 2 and did not make claimed or confirmed advances. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations north and west of Klishchiivka, south of Andriivka, and northwest and west of Kurdyumivka. The Ukrainian General Staff also reported that Russian forces retreated from positions south of Andriivka. A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces counterattacked north and west of Klishchiivka. Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Serhiy Cherevaty reported that Russian forces have increased the intensity of their artillery fire in the Bakhmut direction. A Russian milblogger amplified footage on August 2 claiming to show elements of the 57th Motorized Rifle Brigade (5th Combined Arms Army, Eastern Military District) operating in the Bakhmut direction. The suggestion that an element of the 5th Combined Arms Army, which is predominantly operating in western Donetsk Oblast, has partially deployed to the Bakhmut area suggests that Russian forces may be rushing disparate elements to the area to hold the defense unless the milblogger simply misidentified the unit.

Et bilde som inneholder tekst, kart, atlas, Font

Automatisk generert beskrivelseUkrainian forces reportedly conducted ground attacks along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line on August 2 and did not make claimed or confirmed advances. The Russian MoD claimed that Russian forces repelled Ukrainian attacks near Krasnohorivka (22km southwest of Avdiivka), Marinka (27km southwest of Avdiivka), and Staromykhailivka (19km southwest of Avdiivka). A Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted unsuccessful counterattacks near Marinka. Another milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces are entrenched in positions near Nevelske (13km southwest of Avdiivka) and are attempting to advance near Novomykhailivka (36km southwest of Avdiivka).

Russian forces continued ground attacks along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line and made confirmed advances in the area as of August 2. Geolocated footage published on August 1 shows that Russian forces advanced north of Vodyane (8km southwest of Avdiivka). The Ukrainian General Staff claimed that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian ground attacks near Avdiivka and Marinka. A Russian media aggregator and a milblogger claimed that Russian forces unsuccessfully attacked near Marinka and Pobieda (5km southwest of Donetsk City).

Ukrainian forces conducted counteroffensive operations in the western Donetsk-eastern Zaporizhzhia Oblast area and did not make any confirmed or claimed advances on August 2. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces conducted counteroffensive operations in the Berdiansk direction (western Donetsk-eastern Zaporizhzhia Oblast area). The Russian MoD and other Russian sources claimed that Russian forces repelled a Ukrainian attack near Urozhaine (9km south of Velyka Novosilka) and west of Staromayorske (9km south of Velyka Novosilka). A Russian news aggregator claimed that positional battles are ongoing near Staromayorske.

Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks in the western Donetsk-eastern Zaporizhzhia Oblast area and did not make any confirmed or claimed advances on August 2. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces unsuccessfully attempted to restore lost positions east and west of Staromayorske and north of Urozhaine. Some Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces hold the northern part of Staromayorske, while Russian forces control the heights and the fields south of Staromayorske and all of Urozhaine. One Russian milblogger claimed that most of Staromayorske remains contested, however.

Et bilde som inneholder tekst, kart, skjermbilde, Font

Automatisk generert beskrivelseUkrainian forces conducted counteroffensive operations in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast and did not make any confirmed or claimed advances on August 2. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces conducted counteroffensive operations in the Melitopol direction (western Zaporizhzhia Oblast). The Russian MoD and other Russian sources claimed that Russian forces repelled small Ukrainian attacks near Robotyne (10km south of Orikhiv) and Pyatykhatky (25km southwest of Orikhiv). […] Another milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted an attack in the Mala Tokamachka-Bilohirya direction (9-16km southeast of Orikhiv). […]

A Russian source claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted a missile strike on occupied Crimea. A Kremlin-affiliated milblogger claimed on August 2 that Ukrainian forces launched a missile strike on the Hvardiiske airfield (about 15km north of Simferopol), but that the missile fell near the airfield.

The Russian MoD continues to accuse Ukraine of attacking Russian vessels in the Black Sea, likely in an attempt to set conditions to escalate Russian naval activity and increase Russian control over the Black Sea. The Russian MoD claimed that an unspecified Russian naval vessel destroyed a Ukrainian unmanned boat that attacked the Russian naval vessel while it was escorting a civilian transport ship in the southwestern part of the Black Sea.

A dispute among prominent voices in the Russian information space highlights the Kremlin’s sensitivity to Russian reporting about setbacks in Crimea in particular and possibly in Ukraine in general and has further exposed fault lines within the milblogger community. A pro-war milblogger accused other prominent pro-war milbloggers who have been critical of the Russian conduct of the war on August 2 of being “imbeciles” who support “provocative publications” and the “frantic criticism of the [Russian Ministry of Defense]” because the milbloggers posted images reportedly showing the aftermath of recent Ukrainian strikes near Sevastopol and on the Chonhar Bridge, which some sources suggested would irresponsibly spread panic. A notorious Kremlin-backed pro-Russian Ukrainian blogger additionally accused one of the critical milbloggers under attack of stealing crowdsourced collection funds meant for Russian forces. Both these specific critiques drew significant attention from other pro-war Russian commentators, many of whom supported the critical channels being attacked for reporting on the Crimea strikes. One milblogger noted that the crux of the issue lies with the fact that these two channels post pictures of purported Ukrainian strikes on Crimea but emphasized that the original images came from Ukrainian Telegram channels. Another prominent milblogger claimed that the dispute over posting images of strikes in Crimea became so intense that it attracted the attention of the Crimean Federal Security Service (FSB) branch and Crimean occupation head Sergey Aksyonov, likely because these entities are interested in preventing panic in Crimea.

The dispute over these two milbloggers, alongside the accompanying allegations, suggests that the issue of strikes against Crimea is a distinctly neuralgic point in the pro-war Russian information space. ISW previously noted that following an apparent Ukrainian strike on the Chonhar Bridge on July 29 the vast majority of Russian milbloggers stayed silent with a few select channels simply reposting imagery of the resulting damage in the days that followed. ISW assessed that the lack of milblogger discussion following the Chonhar strike suggests that the Kremlin may have formally directed milbloggers not to cover it. The criticism of the two critical milboggers’ coverage of the Crimean strikes further supports ISW’s previous assessment and underlines the fact that coverage of events in Crimea has created substantial tension in the Russian information space. Russian authorities, including the Crimean occupation administration, have a vested interest in restricting the dissemination of information about the strikes and their implications for Russian logistics through the occupied peninsula due to concerns that this information will cause panic in the population and call into question Russia’s ability to effectively secure its occupied territory. […]

Russian forces conducted a drone strike on the night of August 1-2 that destroyed port infrastructure in Odesa Oblast including 40,000 tons of grain. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted a Shahed drone strike targeting Kyiv and Odesa oblasts and that Ukrainian air defenses destroyed 23 drones, but an unspecified number of drones struck port infrastructure in Odesa Oblast. BBC Russia reported that the Russian strike destroyed 40,000 tons of grain intended for shipment to several African countries, China, and Israel at the Izmail port in Odesa Oblast. The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported on July 31 that Russian forces destroyed 180,000 tons of grain between Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative on July 17 and July 26. The Kremlin has repeatedly pledged to send 25,000 to 50,000 tons of grain to six unspecified African countries in the next three to four months free of charge–a fraction of the Ukrainian grain it has destroyed. Russian forces are likely striking grain storage infrastructure while claiming that they are striking military targets, in an attempt to have Russia supplant Ukraine as the supplier of grain to Africa and other states to ensure that Moscow rather than Kyiv benefits financially. The destruction of Ukrainian grain and the disruption of grain shipments following Russia’s withdrawal from the grain deal and Russian posturing and threats to attack neutral shipping going to and from Ukraine are also causing grain prices to fluctuate, and the Russians may hope to benefit from higher prices if they can keep Ukrainian grain largely off the global market.

Russian Airborne Forces (VDV) Commander Colonel General Mikhail Teplinsky announced the formation of up two new VDV regiments and the reestablishment of the 104th VDV Division by the end of 2023. Teplinsky announced that the existing 31st Guards Separate VDV Assault Brigade will be subordinated to the 104th VDV Division. Teplinsky claimed that one battery of a new artillery brigade (presumably of the 104th Division) is already fighting in Ukraine. The Russian military has been attempting to stand up multiple new division and army corps-level formations since the end of 2022 when Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s announced the reconstitution of the Moscow and Leningrad military districts and the establishment of several new formations. Ongoing Russian force generation efforts will likely staff the new VDV formations with new, untrained personnel rather than recruit experienced personnel more typical of the VDV’s historical elite status. The UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) reported that the Russian MoD has likely begun staffing its new formations including the new 25th Army Corps (Central Military District), but that Russia is unlikely to recruit enough personnel to staff even one new army-level formation without conducting a general mobilization.

Teplinsky’s announcement indicates that he maintains his position and the public support of the Russian MoD following rumors of his arrest, possibly as a result of his affiliations with the Wagner Group, in mid-July. Teplinsky credited Shoigu and Russian Chief of the General Staff Army General Valery Gerasimov for strengthening the VDV by forming new units prior to the start of the 2022 full scale invasion of Ukraine in a show of deference. Teplinsky specifically credited Shoigu with provisioning the VDV with modern equipment and helping develop VDV formations. Teplinsky has been hostile to Gerasimov and has previously directed forceful complaints against the seniormost Russian military command, setting a precedent for insubordination among other Russian military commanders. Teplinsky’s public appearance and comments in direct support of the MoD command structure indicate that the MoD has coerced Teplinsky into publicly realigning with the MoD following the June 24 rebellion and July rumors of significant military command changes.

The Russian MoD officially provided weapons and vehicles to the Belgorod and Kursk Oblast Territorial Defense forces on August 2, reallocating conventional military assets as a part of the Kremlin’s efforts to steadily expand Russia’s internal security capabilities following the Wagner Group’s armed rebellion on June 24. Russian media reported that the Russian MoD provided machine guns, anti-drone guns, and UAZ vehicles to the Belgorod and Kursk Oblast Territorial Defense forces. Belgorod Oblast Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov stated that Russian authorities provided each of the Belgorod Oblast Territorial Defense‘s eight battalions with five UAZ vehicles, additional car radios, quadcopters, and anti-drone guns. Kursk Oblast Governor Roman Starovoit also announced that the first batch of weapons arrived in Kursk Oblast and that more weapons will arrive “in the near future.” Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov reportedly stated that the Kremlin issued the weapons to the Belgorod and Kursk Oblast Territorial Defense forces against the backdrop of attacks from the territory of Ukraine.

The repeated allocation of additional military assets to Belgorod and Kursk oblasts indicates that the Kremlin is growing increasingly concerned about continued attacks on Russia’s border with Ukraine. […] Ukrainian officials reported on June 22 that Russian forces transferred several GRU Spetsnaz units to Kursk Oblast to fight pro-Ukrainian Russian partisans. A Kremlin-affiliated Russian milblogger claimed that Russian authorities will store the weapons provided to the Belgorod and Kursk Oblast Territorial Defense forces in a centralized location and noted that it is unclear how the territorial defense forces will be able to access the weapons in an emergency if they are stored in a locked storage facility. The claim that Russian authorities will lock up the weapons provided to the Belgorod and Kursk Territorial Defense forces, if true, indicates that the Kremlin is attempting to balance the need for increased border security with the need to avoid empowering decentralized military formations that might one day be able to launch an armed rebellion similar to Wagner’s actions on June 24. Moscow might also fear the results of large numbers of small arms getting into the hands of poorly trained territorial forces or the general population.

Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations on at least three sectors of the front and reportedly advanced near Bakhmut on August 2. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces conducted offensive operations near Bakhmut and in the Berdiansk (Zaporizhzhia-Donetsk Oblast area) and Melitopol directions (western Zaporizhzhia Oblast). A Kremlin-affiliated milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces advanced north of Kurdyumivka in the Bakhmut area. Russian sources claimed that Russian forces repelled Ukrainian attacks on the Svatove-Kreminna line in the Lyman direction, near Staromayorske on the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia Oblast border, and near Robotyne in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast.

Key Takeaways:

  • A dispute among prominent voices in the Russian information space highlights the Kremlin’s sensitivity to Russian reporting about setbacks in Crimea in particular and possibly in Ukraine in general and has further exposed fault lines within the milblogger community. This dispute, alongside the accompanying allegations, suggests that the issue of strikes against Crimea is a distinctly neuralgic point in the pro-war Russian information space.
  • The highest echelons of the Russian military command may have directed milbloggers to stay silent about problems that can be directly blamed on the Russian military command.
  • Russian forces conducted a drone strike on the night of August 1-2 that destroyed port infrastructure in Odesa Oblast including 40,000 tons of grain.
  • Russian Airborne Forces (VDV) Commander Colonel General Mikhail Teplinsky announced the formation of up two new VDV regiments and the reestablishment of the 104th VDV Division by the end of 2023. Teplinsky’s announcement indicates that he maintains his position and the public support of the Russian MoD following rumors of his arrest, possibly as a result of his affiliations with the Wagner Group, in mid-July.
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) officially provided weapons and vehicles to the Belgorod and Kursk Oblast Territorial Defense forces on August 2, reallocating conventional military assets as a part of the Kremlin’s efforts to steadily expand Russia’s internal security capabilities following the Wagner Group’s armed rebellion on June 24.
  • Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations on at least three sectors of the front and reportedly advanced near Bakhmut on August 2.
  • Russian forces conducted offensive operations along the Kupiansk-Svatove line, near Kreminna, around Bakhmut, and along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line and advanced in some areas.
  • Russian civilians are increasingly targeting military registration and enlistment centers across Russia as a result of what Russian sources claim are targeted scam calls.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin pushed the Kremlin narrative of “Novorossiya” and announced Russian government initiatives to provide books to occupied territories of Ukraine on August 2. (unquote)

Ukrainian troops trained by the West stumble in battle, The New York Times reports. “Ukraine’s army has for now set aside US fighting methods and reverted to tactics it knows best. The first several weeks of Ukraine’s long-awaited counter-offensive have not been kind to the Ukrainian troops who were trained and armed by the United States and its allies. Equipped with advanced American weapons and heralded as the vanguard of a major assault, the troops became bogged down in dense Russian minefields under constant fire from artillery and helicopter gunships. Units got lost. One unit delayed a nighttime attack until dawn, losing its advantage. Another fared so badly that commanders yanked it off the battlefield altogether.

Now the Western-trained Ukrainian brigades are trying to turn things around, US officials and independent analysts say. Ukrainian military commanders have changed tactics, focusing on wearing down the Russian forces with artillery and long-range missiles instead of plunging into minefields under fire. A troop surge is underway in the country’s south, with a second wave of Western-trained forces launching mostly small-scale attacks to punch through Russian lines.

But early results have been mixed. While Ukrainian troops have retaken a few villages, they have yet to make the kinds of sweeping gains that characterized their successes in the strategically important cities of Kherson and Kharkiv last fall. The complicated training in Western maneuvers has given the Ukrainians scant solace in the face of barrage after barrage of Russian artillery. Ukraine’s decision to change tactics is a clear signal that NATO’s hopes for large advances made by Ukrainian formations armed with new weapons, new training and an injection of artillery ammunition have failed to materialize, at least for now.

It raises questions about the quality of the training the Ukrainians received from the West and about whether tens of billions of dollars’ worth of weapons, including nearly $44 billion worth from the Biden administration, have been successful in transforming the Ukrainian military into a NATO-standard fighting force.

The counteroffensive itself hasn’t failed; it will drag on for several months into the fall, said Michael Kofman, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who recently visited the front lines. Arguably, the problem was in the assumption that with a few months of training, Ukrainian units could be converted into fighting more the way American forces might fight, leading the assault against a well-prepared Russian defense, rather than helping Ukrainians fight more the best way they know how.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has increasingly signaled that his strategy is to wait out Ukraine and its allies and win the war by exhausting them. American officials are worried that Ukraine’s return to its old tactics risks that it will race through precious ammunition supplies, which could play into Mr. Putin’s hands and disadvantage Ukraine in a war of attrition. Biden administration officials had hoped the nine Western-trained brigades, some 36,000 troops, would show that the American way of warfare was superior to the Russian approach. While the Russians have a rigidly centralized command structure, the Americans taught the Ukrainians to empower senior enlisted soldiers to make quick decisions on the battlefield and to deploy combined arms tactics — synchronized attacks by infantry, armor and artillery forces.

Western officials championed that approach as more efficient than the costly strategy of wearing Russian forces down by attrition, which threatens to deplete Ukraine’s ammunition stocks.

Much of the training involved teaching Ukrainian troops how to go on the offensive rather than stay on defense. For years, Ukrainian troops had worked on defensive tactics as Russian-backed separatists launched attacks in eastern Ukraine. When Moscow began its full-scale invasion last year, Ukrainian troops put their defensive operations into play, denying Russia the swift victory it had anticipated.

The effort to take back their own territory is requiring them to fight in different ways, Colin H. Kahl, who recently stepped down as the Pentagon’s top policy official, said last month.

But the Western-trained brigades received only four to six weeks of combined arms training, and units made several mistakes at the start of the counteroffensive in early June that set them back, according to US officials and analysts who recently visited the front lines and spoke to Ukrainian troops and commanders. Some units failed to follow cleared paths and ran into mines. When a unit delayed a nighttime attack, an accompanying artillery bombardment to cover its advance went ahead as scheduled, tipping off the Russians.

In the first two weeks of the counteroffensive, as much as 20 percent of the weaponry Ukraine sent to the battlefield was damaged or destroyed, according to US and European officials. The toll included some of the formidable Western fighting machines — tanks and armored personnel carriers — that the Ukrainians were counting on to beat back the Russians. Military experts said that using newly learned tactics for the first time was always going to be hard, especially given that the Russian response was to assume a defensive crouch and fire massive barrages of artillery.

They were given a tall order, said Rob Lee, a Russian military specialist at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia and a former US Marine officer, who has also traveled to the front lines. They had a short amount of time to train on new equipment and to develop unit cohesion, and then they were thrown into one of the most difficult combat situations. They were put in an incredibly tough position.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine acknowledged in late July that his country’s counteroffensive against dug-in Russian troops was advancing more slowly than expected. We did have plans to start it in the spring, but we didn’t because, frankly, we had not enough munitions and armaments and not enough properly trained brigades — I mean, properly trained in these weapons, Mr. Zelensky said via video link at the Aspen Security Forum, an annual national-security conference. He added that because we started it a bit late, Russia had time to mine all of our lands and build several lines of defense.

Ukraine may well return to the American way of warfare if it breaks through dug-in Russian defenses, some military experts said. But offense is harder than defense, as Russia demonstrated last year when it abandoned its initial plans to advance to Kyiv.

I do not think they’re abandoning combined arms tactics, Philip M. Breedlove, a retired four-star Air Force general who was NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe, said in an interview. If they were to get through the first, second or third lines of defense, I think you’re going to see the definition of combined arms. […]

US officials said, however, the surge in Ukrainian forces in the past week came at a time when the Ukrainians were clearing paths through some of the Russian defenses and beginning to wear down Russian troops and artillery. A Western official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss operational details and intelligence assessments, said the Russians were stretched and still experiencing problems with logistics, supply, personnel and weapons.

General Breedlove concurred and said he still expected the Ukrainian counteroffensive to put Russia at a disadvantage. The Ukrainians are in a place now where they understand how they want to employ their forces, he said. And we’re starting to see the Russians move backwards.”

Pentagon forecasts Ukraine’s counteroffensive to be challenging and lengthy, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Brigadier General Patrick Ryder, Pentagon Press Secretary, during a briefing on 1 August. “The US Department of Defense has been observing the Ukrainian Defence Forces’ advance as part of a counteroffensive but predicts it will be a challenging and prolonged struggle. Ryder said the US continues to see the Ukrainian counteroffensive move forward, adding that it has and will continue to be a tough fight for the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU).

The general also emphasised US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s remarks that this will be a marathon and not a sprint, summing up that Washington is going to continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes. And so again, our focus is going to be on communicating with them, communicating with our allies and partners to ensure that, as they have needs on the battlefield, that we’re able to support them, Ryder pointed out.

Russian spin doctors prepare another round of disinformation campaign on Ukraine – intel, Ukrinform reports, citing Defence Intelligence of Ukraine (DIU). “The [DIU] received from partners information on Russia’s social engineering agencies preparing yet another package of provocative materials aimed at discrediting Ukraine in the international arena and inciting domestic political strife.

The following topics are proposed for circulation among the target audiences in Germany, France, Israel, and the USA: ‘Africans: ‘France, get out. Welcome, Russia,’ ‘Macron’s Pacific dances on the rake,’ ‘The German economy faces a collapse,’ ‘The crisis has already come to every household, ‘The cases against Netanyahu were fabricated in line with the same patterns as those against Trump,’ the report states.

According to the [DIU], certain pieces will be targeting the Ukrainian information space on the following topics: “Who takes bribes and who goes to the front lines,” “Political sparring: when will the battle begin?”, “The show’s over: there will be no elections,” “Is it war time or peace time?” etc.

Intelligence says Russian political pundits traditionally operate according to the principle of a drop of truth for a tonne of lies. GUR notes that at the same time, Russians are trying to find and actualize real problems and weak points, including those applicable to the Western world. For example: ‘According to Destatis, the total indebtedness of social security authorities decreased by more than EUR 47 billion last year (and this is taking into account the increase in costs for accepting Ukrainian refugees). To be sure, social security authorities have gone to great lengths to cut costs. However, the fact that many already poor Germans were left without help is hardly a concern of the federal government. It is too busy supplying tanks and ammunition for Ukraine,’ the statement states.

Military intelligence explained that the purpose of all such pieces is the same: to convince Ukrainians and their allies of the futility of resistance, to sow doubt and opposition within the anti-Putin coalition, and to create the impression that there are other, “more important” problems to address. Each piece has an appendix with recommendations for desired comments ‘from average readers’ such as: ‘Write a 200-character comment on behalf of an Israeli who harbors traditional hostility toward Europe and France. They are not interested in Africa at all, but the problems of long-standing ill-wishers bring them pleasure, said the agency.

The [DIU] recalled that the only way to counter enemy propaganda in the media space is to verify information and remain critical of materials aimed at inciting enmity among allies. As reported earlier, according to the Ukrainian Institute of Media and Communication, almost 84% of Ukrainians have noted an expansion of the Russian propaganda influence in the media field.”

Conflicts within Russian elites to further develop – Ukraine’s defence intel, Ukrinform reports, citing Andriy Yusov, a spokesman for the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine (DIU). “There are many conflicts within Russia and Putin’s elites, and they will, of course, only be growing. What we saw from (Wagner Group leader Yevgeny – ed.) Prigozhin’s story is a certain tip of the iceberg. There are also a lot of interesting processes going on there, he said. Answering the question of whether another mutiny could unfold involving a march of own troops toward Moscow, Yusov noted that intelligence has certain thoughts about who could theoretically take the helm of such an effort.

But if we name a specific name now, we can hamper the preparation of this wonderful project and affect its implementation. Therefore, let them prepare. Indeed, in the empire that is dying, there are many willing to secure their future already in the post-Putin Russian Federation – or whatever remains, said the GUR spokesman.”

Consequences and what to do?

G7 ambassadors name steps they expect from Ukraine for investments in reconstruction, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing European Pravda. “The G7 Ambassadors have named the steps and reforms expected from Ukraine, preparing for the post-war reconstruction of the country and the inflow of Western investments. The G7 ambassadors said that they met with Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and talked about further steps after the Conference on the reconstruction of Ukraine.

To involve the private sector in recovery and reconstruction of Ukraine, transparency and accountability are crucial, the ambassadors emphasised. The ambassadors said that Ukraine is expected to take several steps in the anti-corruption sphere, in particular the timely appointment of a new head of the National Agency on Corruption Prevention; the restoration of the system of declaring assets and financial reporting of political parties; strengthening anti-corruption institutions, specifically the Specialized Anti-corruption Prosecution and Agency for Investigation and Management of Assets.

We also encouraged the adoption of laws to ensure a strong and independent Anti-Monopoly Committee and to improve corporate governance of SOEs, in line with OECD guidelines, they added. The ambassadors said they share the opinion on the need to start preparations for the conference on the reconstruction of Ukraine for 2024 in Germany.”

Ukrainian students underperforming due to war, pandemic impact – Education Ministry, Ukrinform reports, citing the Ministry of Education and Science. “Due to the kids studying in stressful conditions in the past years, the educational process has suffered a lot. The pandemic, war, air strikes and blackouts – all of this had a strong impact on education. Currently, we are dealing with educational losses, which means the loss of knowledge, abilities, skills and/or slowing down or interruption of academic progress due to pauses in the education of a particular student, the statement reads.

As the ministry noted, in the first half of the academic year 2022/2023, only 15% of educational facilities worked offline, while 33% operated remotely, and another 51% – in mixed mode. At the same time, teachers report a deterioration in student performance. Some 57% of teachers in villages and 44% in cities report a downgrade in Ukrainian language performance, 52% and 47% – in foreign language studies, 45% and 40% – in mathematics, and 37% and 25% – in computer science.

We see that we are gradually losing the mental potential of our youths and it is necessary to find ways to fix this situation, the ministry noted.”

Hans Petter Midtuun:The New York Times reports that “Ukrainian troops trained by the West stumble in battle and have changed tactics, focusing on wearing down the Russian forces with artillery and long-range missiles instead of plunging into minefields under fire. It points out that the Ukrainian Armed Forces has yet to make the sweeping gains that characterized their successes in Kherson and Kharkiv Oblast last year (The authors mistakenly refer to Kherson and Kharkiv city).

The newspaper argues that the Ukrainian tactics and results “raise questions about the quality of the training the Ukrainians received from the West and about whether tens of billions of dollars worth of weapons, including nearly $44 billion worth from the Biden administration, have been successful in transforming the Ukrainian military into a NATO-standard fighting force?

The authors highlight US concerns over the change in tactics, arguing that it implies a continued high expenditure of precious ammunition, which could disadvantage Ukraine in a war of attrition.

I have strong reservations about the article and question its intentions. Not so much for factual faults as for lack of balance.

Firstly, the West has not fought a war anywhere like what Ukraine is presently fighting since WW2. In my opinion, the ongoing war in Ukraine is far more complex than the Second World War. It is fought in more dimensions, with a higher degree of transparency, at (at times) greater range and with far more complex and intelligent weapon systems than any previous wars.

Secondly, neither the US nor any of the European countries have fought a superior military power during the last 75 years. Still, they have at times faltered and failed because of their opponents’ superior willingness to take casualties in battle.

Ukraine has until now successfully countered and defeated a superior Military Power with the help of not only Western defence aid or Russian failings but also superior tactics and motivation.

More importantly, Ukraine – unlike the US – is not supported by an alliance on the battlefield. Ukraine is fighting the enemy alone. It is conducting a counteroffensive even without many of the tools the US sees as a prerequisite for success.

Thirdly, it ignores the fact that the last time the Allies tried to break through a well-prepared defensive network consisting of anti-tank trenches, zigzag trenches, concrete bollards (also known as “dragon’s teeth”), metal anti-tank hedgehogs and barbed wire fences and minefields, protected by artillery, tanks, and air power was at Normandy on 6 June 1944. At the time, Allied forces needed more than 7 weeks to achieve a breakthrough. Achieving Air Supremacy was key. Their success was, however, also partly due to strategic blunders by their opponent.

Ukraine is facing similar kinds of challenges made even greater by the obvious disparity in Air Power. Russia is using its superior Air Power to counter the Ukrainian counteroffensive. It is exploring Ukraine’s lack of Air Defence and is introducing missiles for its helicopters with greater stand-off distance. Russia is not least, using kamikaze drones with great effect.

Fourthly, the article also ignores the fact that Ukraine in the fall of 2022 achieved a sweeping advance in Kharkiv Oblast against an unprepared enemy. Having learned the hard way, Russia will not be surprised again.

That is reflected in its defensive preparations not only along the 1,200 km long frontline but also its international borders with Ukraine.

Fifthly, the idea that one might change a military culture – the result of decades of education, training, exercises and fighting – in weeks is outright ridiculous.

That said, the combined Western efforts since 2014, including the support by the Multinational Joint Commission, NATO’s defence reform program, Ukraine’s impressive support to NATO-led operations, bilateral exchange programme and more, have helped Ukraine approach war differently and more holistic than it otherwise would have done a decade ago. It has enabled it to adapt its warfighting based on best practice, acknowledging that Ukraine at times has established the “best practice” itself.

Sixthly, while the US strategy might be more effective than the Russian – bearing in mind that the US has not conducted a similar kind of operation against a dug-in and highly qualified opponent like Russia – it is also based on the US achieving Air Control.

In 1991, Operation Desert Storm became the largest air campaign since the conflict in Southeast Asia. The Coalition of the Gulf War had a staggering 2,780 fixed-wing aircraft in the theatre of operations. The US and its 40 allied nations flew more than 116,000 combat air sorties and dropped 88,500 tons of bombs against Iraqi forces. After an air campaign of six weeks, the ground campaign lasted only 100 hours before Kuwait was liberated.

The West has until now failed to provide Ukraine with one single Western-built modern combat aircraft. Russia has, however, thousands of fourth- and fifth-generation fighters.

Lastly, the article presents the high ammunition expenditure as a Ukrainian problem only. It argues that Ukraine’s present strategy threatens to deplete Ukraine’s ammunition stocks.

While that is not wrong, it does not reflect the core problem: Having failed to invest in security and defence for decades – and having failed to mobilise US and European defence industries and ramp up production after the war started in 2014 – and having failed to stop the war as envisaged in NATO’s 2010 strategic concept – AND having failed to provide Ukraine with the tools needed to quickly defeat Russian forces, Ukraine is left with no other options than to adapt its strategy.

So what?

Ukraine cannot fight a war on Western terms because of slow and incremental Western defence support which has also enabled Russia to dig in and prepare for the counteroffensive. The fact that Ukraine’s persisting critical vulnerabilities consist of a lack of Air Power, Air Defence and Maritime Power, does not stop anonymous officials, “experts”, and journalists from raising both unrealistic expectations and, when they for obvious reasons don’t come true, spread disappointment.

The fact that this happens despite Ukraine’s efforts to balance expectations in light of the challenges it is facing – facing a superior military power behind well-prepared defensive lines while lacking all the tools needed to defeat it – raises the question of the motive behind this and similar kinds of articles.

The article does, however, get one thing right. Offence is harder than defence. That is, however, also reflected in the Ukrainian strategy.

The Russian forces are stretched and are experiencing increasing problems with command and control, personnel, logistics, weapons, and ammunition. Ukraine is slowly reducing a superior military power.

It has – or is in the process of – achieving superiority in artillery and main battle tanks. It is increasing its ability to attack targets on Russian territory. It is improving its ability to wage war at sea. Many of the improvements are made without Western support.

I would suggest that the West needs to look to Ukraine to address its own shortcomings. The biggest is that it allows Ukraine to protect European security and stability alone.

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