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Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 527: Rising tensions at Poland-Belarus border

Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 527: Rising tensions at Poland-Belarus border

A Russian drone struck targets as close as 200 metres from the Romanian border. 90 countries support ending the use of food as weapon. Poland deploys combat helicopters near Belarus border amid rising tensions.

Daily overview — Summary report, August 4

Source: War Mapper.

According to information from the General Staff as of 06.00 04.08.2023, supplemented by its [18:00 assessment].

Situation in Ukraine. August 3, 2023. Source: ISW.
Day 527 of the russian full-scale military aggression against Ukraine has begun.
During the day of August 3, the russian federation launched an attack using Iranian Shahed combat UAVs. The Ukrainian Air Defense destroyed all 15x enemy drones. Also, the enemy launched 1x missile, 57x air strikes, and 29x MLRS attacks at the positions of Ukrainian troops and various settlements. Unfortunately, there were civilian casualties.
The likelihood of further missile and air strikes across Ukraine remains very high.
During the day of August 3, there were around 40x combat engagements.
Volyn and Polissya axes: no significant changes.
Luhansk Battle Map. August 3, 2023. Source: ISW.
Sivershchyna and Slobozhanshchyna axes: the enemy launched air strikes in the vicinities of Veterynarne, Kharkiv, and Vesele (Kharkiv oblast). The invaders fired mortars and artillery at more than 40x settlements, including Karpovychi, Tymonovychi, Leonivka (Chernihiv oblast), Sopych, Kucherivka, Pavlivka, Myropillya, Krasnopillya (Sumy oblast), Hur’iv Kozachok, Vysoka Yaruha, Vovchans’k, Varvarivka, and Bolohivka (Kharkiv oblast).
Kup’yans’k axis: the adversary launched air strikes in the vicinity of Petropavlivka and Kyslivka. Fyholivka, Dvorichna, Kup’yans’k, and Kucherivka (Kharkiv oblast) came under artillery and mortar fire of the adversary.
Donetsk Battle Map. August 3, 2023. Source: ISW.
Lyman axis: the settlements of Nevs’ke, Bilohorivka (Luhansk oblast), Verkhn’okam’yans’ke, Spirne, and Tors’ke (Donetsk oblast) were shelled with artillery.
Bakhmut Battle Map. August 3, 2023. Source: ISW.
Bakhmut axis: the Ukrainian defense forces are holding back the enemy south and southeast of Ivanivske. The enemy launched air strikes in the vicinity of Chasiv Yar, Ivanivske, and Druzhba. More than 15x settlements, including Vasyukivka, Hryhorivka, Chasiv Yar, Klishchiivka, Predtechyne, and Pivnichne (Donetsk oblast), suffered from enemy artillery shelling.
Avdiivka axis: the enemy launched an air strike in the vicinity of Avdiivka. The invaders conducted unsuccessful offensives north and southeast of Avdiivka, and southeast of Pervomais’ke. The adversary fired artillery at Stepove, Lastochkyne, Avdiivka, Pervomais’ke, and Nevel’s’ke (Donetsk oblast).
Mar’inka axis: the Ukrainian Defense Forces continue to hold back the russian offensive in the vicinity of the city of Mar’inka. The enemy launched air strikes in the vicinity Krasnohorivka and Mar’inka. The invaders shelled the settlements of Krasnohorivka, Hostre, Maksymil’yanivka, Heorhiivka, Mar’inka, and Novomykhailivka (Donetsk oblast).
Shakhtars’ke axis: the enemy launched air strikes in the vicinity of Makarivka and the village of Rivnopil’. The adversary made unsuccessful attempts to regain the lost ground west of Staromaiors’ke and east of Urozhaine. Vremivka, Rivnopil’, and Novosilky (Donetsk oblast) came under artillery fire.
Zaporizhzhia Battle Map. August 3, 2023. Source: ISW.
Zaporizhzhia axis: the enemy launched air strikes in the vicinity of Uspenivka and Mala Tokmachka (Zaporizhzhia oblast). The adversary focuses its main efforts on preventing further advance of Ukrainian troops. More than 20x settlements, including Levadne, Hulyaipole, Novoandriivka, Mali Shcherbaky, Stepove, Stepnohirs’k (Zaporizhzhia oblast), and Nikopol’ (Dnipropetrovsk oblast), were shelled with artillery.
Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. August 3, 2023. Source: ISW.
Kherson axis: the adversary launched an air strike in the vicinity of Odradokam’yanka. More than 20x settlements, including Shevchenkivka, Respublikanets’, Beryslav, Sadove, Kherson, Dniprovs’ke (Kherson oblast), Dmytrivka, and Ochakiv (Mykolaiv oblast), were shelled with enemy artillery.
At the same time, the Ukrainian Defense Forces continue to conduct offensive operations on Melitopol’ and Berdyans’k axes, consolidating their positions, and conducting counter-battery fire.
In Enerhodar, temporarily captured by russian troops, the occupiers are forcing russian passports on the Zaporizhzhia NPP staff who plan to continue working at the plant. Otherwise, they face threats of reprisals. Thus, the russian occupation forces conduct regular searches of local residents in the city, both on the streets and in people’s homes or other premises. They check passports and phones. If a citizen’s passport turns out to be Ukrainian, they destroy the document and force them to apply for the russian passport. The occupiers also force people to change other documents, such as driver’s licenses, papers for movable and immovable property.
During the day of August 3, Ukrainian Air Force launched 9x air strikes on the concentrations of troops, weapons, and military equipment, as well as 2x air strikes on the anti-aircraft missile systems of the occupiers.
During the day of August 3, the Ukrainian missile and artillery troops hit 12x artillery systems at their firing positions, 1x radar station, 1x command post, 3x concentrations of troops, 2x air defense assets, and 3x ammunition depots of the enemy.

Military Updates

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst.

Russia launched 1,961 Shahed drones against Ukraine–Zelenskyy. Russia has launched at least 1,961 “Shahed” drones against Ukraine since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, according to President Zelenskyy’s statement. In his words: “In total, the terrorists have already launched at least 1,961 “Shahed” drones against Ukraine, and a significant portion of them have been successfully shot down. Unfortunately, not all of them. We are working to shoot down more: to shoot down as many as possible. We are working to have more air defense systems in place.”

Ukrainian counteroffensive in the South slowed by shrubs in unplowed fields. Undergrowth across the battlefields of southern Ukraine is likely one factor that slows the progress of combat in the areas, UK Intelligence reports. According to British Intelligence, the predominately arable land in the combat zone has now been left fallow for 18 months. And weeds and shrubs grow actively under the warm, damp summer conditions.

Russian cadet pilots train by shelling Ukraine’s Sumy border Oblast – Ukraine’s National Resistance Center. Russia trains cadet pilots by shelling Ukraine’s Sumy Oblast amid pilot shortage, Ukraine’s National Resistance Center reported. Since August 2023, cadets from Russian flight schools have been taking part in firing range training, using unguided missiles from helicopters against settlements of the Sumy border Oblast. However, due to the low professional level, some missiles hit objects in Russia.

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

  • In the last two weeks, Russia has conducted several waves of strikes against Ukrainian ports on the Danube River using Iranian-produced one-way attack uncrewed aerial vehicles (OWA UAVs). It is highly likely attempting to coerce international shipping into stopping trading via the ports.
  • OWA UAVs have struck targets as close as 200 metres from the Romanian border, suggesting that Russia has evolved its risk appetite for conducting strikes near NATO territory.
  • There is a realistic possibility that Russia is using OWA UAVs to strike this area in the belief they are less likely to risk escalation than cruise missiles: Russia likely considers them as acceptably accurate, and they have much smaller warheads than cruise missiles.

Losses of the Russian army

Losses of the Russian Army. Source: Euromaidan Press.

Humanitarian

Ukrainian official expresses concern over Germany’s recruitment of Ukrainian refugees. Lana Zerkal, the advisor to the Minister of Energy and Former Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs made an appearance in the interview with Yanina Sokolova. Zerkal expressed her concerns, stating, “What really troubles me is that in Germany, they are not just creating conditions for our women with children to stay, but they are establishing specialized recruiting agencies to employ Ukrainian women and men. They understand that we possess certain skills and are inclined towards work.”

“Against the logic of war.” Kyiv Biennial returns to Ukraine, focusing on artists’ displacement. Despite the challenges posed by the ongoing Russia’s war against Ukraine, organizers of the Kyiv Biennial have confirmed that the event’s fifth edition will take place this October, Observer reports. The international art exhibition, this year dedicated to the topic of displacement in times of war, will be held in Kyiv, as well as the Ukrainian cities of Ivano-Frankivsk and Uzhhorod, before moving to Vienna, Warsaw, and Berlin. The primary international location for the biennial will be Vienna’s Augarten Contemporary, followed by shows at Warsaw’s Museum of Modern Art and a 2024 exhibition in Berlin. However, before moving beyond Ukraine’s borders, Kyiv’s Dovzhenko Centre, Ivano-Frankivsk’s Asortymentna Kimnata, and Uzhhorod’s Sorry, No Rooms Available will host presentations and events within their “endangered yet working infrastructures.” These cities, situated away from the frontlines, have offered refuge to evacuated artists over the past year and plan to showcase artwork created during the war.

Environmental

90 countries support ending the use of food as weapon. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on all United Nations member countries to demand that Russia stop using the Black Sea as a tool of blackmail, Reuters reports. This comes after Moscow withdrew from a deal that had allowed Ukraine to safely export its grain to global markets. Blinken chaired a UN Security Council meeting focused on famine and food insecurity caused by conflict, during which he urged nations to take a stand against Russia’s actions.

Ukraine nears breakthrough in confiscating EU-based Russian assets. Having frozen more than $300 billion in Russian mainly state assets, the EU and US is much slower on freezing, let alone confiscating private assets of Russian oligarchs. Currently, Ukraine is pursuing a sanctions case against one of the country’s largest energy companies, owned by Russians, that could potentially lead to a breakthrough. In this case, Ukraine aims to confiscate energy assets controlled by three oligarchs affiliated with the Kremlin through an international network of letterbox companies, particularly VS Energy, located on Amsterdam’s Keizersgracht. A positive outcome would become a precedent for both Dutch and EU sanction policy, accelerating the confiscation of other Russian oligarchs’ property in the West for Ukraine.

Support

French Amb to Ukraine visited unit that utilizes Franco-Italian air defense system SAMP/T. The French Ambassador to Ukraine, Etienne de Poncins, recently paid a visit to a Ukrainian unit utilizing the Franco-Italian Surface-to-Air Missile Platform/Terrain (SAMP/T) system, which offers protection against Russian attacks. During the visit, de Poncins expressed his appreciation for the system’s role in safeguarding both the Ukrainian people and armed forces from potential threats like Russian drones and missiles. He added that he had a “frank exchange of views” with the military and called SAMP/T a “confirmation of France’s support in the fight against Russian aggression.”

Georgia restricts car exports to Russia, Belarus. On 1 August, exports and re-exports of American cars from Georgia to Russia were restricted, according to the Revenue Service of the Ministry of Finance, Radio Liberty’s Caucasus “Echo of the Caucasus” reports. Exports and re-exports of cars imported from the European Union to Russia will be restricted starting 26 September.

New Developments

German DM: Time to deliver Taurus cruise missiles has not yet come for us. German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius reaffirms his decision not to deliver Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine. During his visit to the Gebirgsjägerbrigade 23 in Bad Reichenhall and Bischofswiesen, the SPD politician stated that providing the missiles is not the government’s top priority, citing concerns about their extended range potentially reaching Russian territory.

Meet the gray cardinals of anti-Russian sanctions. Kyiv not Kiev sat down with Vladyslav Vlasiuk, advisor to President Zelenskyy’s Office and member of the Yermak-McFaul international working group on Russian sanctions, to find out what needs to be done to make anti-Russian sanctions truly effective. And there remains much to be done. Currently, sanctions loopholes allow Russia to continue its deadly weapons production, used in the war against Ukraine. For example, the missile that killed 11 people in Kryvyi Rih on 13 June contained 53 components originating from democratic countries, the Presidential Office reported.

Poland deploys combat helicopters near Belarus border amid rising tensions. Polish Armed Forces have recently relocated combat helicopters from the 1st Land Aviation Brigade and the 25th Air Cavalry Brigade near the border with Belarus, TVP reports. The urgency to fortify border security follows a recent incident in which two Belarusian helicopters violated Polish airspace in the Podlaskie region. In response to the breach, Minister of National Defense, Mariusz Błaszczak instructed the increase in troops and the allocation of additional resources, including the deployment of helicopters. NATO has been informed of the incident, and the charge d’affaires of the Belarusian Embassy has been summoned to the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs for an explanation.

Wagner Group takes up “convenient for provocations” positions near Lithuanian border – Lithuanian President. Wagner Group mercenaries take up positions in Belarus’ Grodno Oblast near the Lithuanian border, LRT reported, citing Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda. On 3 August, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda met with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on the Polish side, discussing the relocation of Wagner mercenaries in Belarus.

EU fumbles frozen Russian billions, risks own budgets. A year and a half after the beginning of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, one of the most discussed issues in the context of compensation for damages are the frozen assets of Russia, estimated at hundreds of billions of US dollars. For example, the European Union alone controls assets of the Central Bank of Russia worth over $200 billion, and this figure does not include tens of billions of private funds and property of Russian oligarchs.

Russia adds Norway to list of “unfriendly countries”. The Russian government has added Norway to the list of “unfriendly countries” and limited the number of employees Norwegian diplomatic missions can hire, the Russian government reported. “The government has included the Kingdom of Norway in the list of foreign states that commit unfriendly actions against Russian diplomatic and consular missions abroad,” the statement said.

Assessment

  1. On the War

The Institute of Study of War has made the following assessment as of 4 August:

Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations on at least three sectors of the front on August 3 and reportedly advanced in some areas. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces continued offensive operations in the Berdiansk (Zaporizhzhia-Donetsk Oblast border area) and Melitopol (western Zaporizhzhia Oblast) directions, and Ukrainian officials stated that Ukrainian forces continued to advance in the Bakhmut direction.[1] Ukrainian Director of the Department of Planning of the Main Directorate of the National Guard Colonel Mykola Urshalovych stated that Ukrainian forces advanced up to 650m into Russian defenses along a 1.5km front in the Melitopol direction.[2]  A Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces advanced near Mykilske (27km southwest of Donetsk City) in western Donetsk Oblast.[3] Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov stated on August 3 that the Ukrainian counteroffensive does not have a set deadline or schedule.[4] Danilov added that Russian defensive lines along the front continue to be heavily mined, with some areas having three, four, or five mines per square meter.[5]

Russian forces conducted a series of drone strikes on August 3, primarily targeting Kyiv. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian air defenses shot down all 15 Iranian-made Shahed-131/136 drones launched by Russian forces on August 3.[6] The Kyiv City Military Administration reported that Ukrainian air defenses destroyed almost a dozen targets near Kyiv on August 3.[7] Ukrainian Air Force Spokesperson Colonel Yuriy Ihnat stated that Russian forces launched the drones from occupied Crimea, Krasnodar Krai, and Kursk and Bryansk oblasts.[8] Ihnat added that Russian forces have moved many drone launch sites to the eastern coast of the Sea of Azov in Krasnodar Krai due to Ukrainian strike capabilities against Crimea and Russian border regions.[9]

The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) took down Russian Airborne Forces (VDV) Commander Colonel General Mikhail Teplinsky’s August 2 speech, possibly due to his disclosure of Russian casualties in Ukraine. Teplinsky claimed on VDV Day (August 2, a holiday celebrating the Russian airborne forces) that at least 8,500 VDV personnel have been wounded in Ukraine since the start of the war, a rare official disclosure of Russian casualties, which Russian officials have largely sought to obscure as the war has progressed.[10] Russian MoD mouthpiece TV Zvezda took down Teplinsky’s August 2 speech, and some Russian sources claimed this removal was due to the casualty count.[11] BBC and opposition outlet Mediazona have confirmed that at least 1,800 VDV personnel were killed in action in Ukraine as of July 30, and a killed to wounded ratio of 1:3 is on average (if not slightly better) for Russian forces in Ukraine.[12] The Russian MoD may have also sought to censor Teplinsky’s disclosure of details regarding new VDV formations, as Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and other military officials have previously discussed the establishment of other formations but not specified their names and exact subordination to existing units.[13] Teplinsky previously capitalized on Russia’s ”Defender of the Fatherland” Day on February 23 to criticize Russian Chief of the General Staff and overall theater commander Army General Valery Gerasimov about the extent of Russian casualties in Ukraine.[14]

Russian prosecutors reportedly classified the investigation into ardent Russian ultranationalist and former FSB officer Igor Girkin on August 2. Girkin’s lawyer Alexander Molokhov stated that materials relevant to Girkin’s case have been classified as “top secret” and refused to issue further comments so as to not violate his non-disclosure agreements.[15] Girkin‘s supporters continued to call for the start of a movement to demand Girkin’s release via political means and claimed that Girkin is a political prisoner.[16] Girkin’s wife Miroslava Reginskaya appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin directly in a public letter for Girkin’s release, noting that Girkin’s arrest was either someone’s attempt to curry favor with unnamed officials or an effort to censor the truth about the situation on the frontlines.[17]

Key Takeaways:

  • Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations on at least three sectors of the front on August 3 and reportedly advanced in some areas.
  • Russian forces conducted a series of drone strikes on August 3, primarily targeting Kyiv.
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) took down Russian Airborne Forces (VDV) Commander Colonel General Mikhail Teplinsky’s August 2 speech, possibly due to his disclosure of Russian casualties in Ukraine.
  • Russian prosecutors reportedly classified the investigation into ardent Russian ultranationalist and former FSB officer Igor Girkin on August 2.
  • Russian forces conducted offensive operations along the Kupiansk-Svatove-Kreminna line, near Bakhmut, along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line, and in the western Donetsk-eastern Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area on August 3 and made advances in certain areas.
  • Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations on at least three sectors of the front on August 3 and reportedly advanced near Kreminna and Vuhledar.
  • The Kremlin is attempting to establish favorable conditions to attract additional volunteers to serve in the Russian Armed Forces.
  • A report from Yale University’s Conflict Observatory supports ISW’s longstanding assessments that Russian and occupation authorities are using forced passportization measures to consolidate social and legal control over occupied areas of Ukraine.
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