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Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 537: Ukraine advances in the Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts

Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 537: Ukraine advances in the Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts

Ukraine advances in the Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts. Kherson Oblast declares mourning: 7 fatalities, 13 injuries in a day. Discussion on Ukraine’s NATO membership start.

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Daily report day 534 – August 14, 2023

Source: War Mapper.

According to information from the General Staff as of 06.00 14.08.2023, supplemented by its [18:00 assessment].

Glory to Ukraine! Day 537 of the russian full-scale military aggression against Ukraine has begun.
 
Last night, the russian federation launched yet another missile and air strike on Ukraine. Information on the aftermath of this terrorist attack is currently being updated.
 
During the day of August 13, the russian occupiers launched 2x missile, 43x air strikes and 55x MLRS attacks at the positions of Ukrainian troops and various settlements.
 
Unfortunately, the russian terrorist attacks have killed and wounded civilians, including children. Residential buildings and other civilian infrastructure were damaged.
 
The likelihood of missile and air strikes across Ukraine remains high.
 
During the day of August 13, there were 33x combat engagements.
 
Volyn and Polissya axes: no significant changes.
 
Luhansk Battle Map. August 13, 2023. Source: ISW.
 
Sivershchyna and Slobozhanshchyna axes: the adversary fired mortars and artillery at more than 15x settlements, including Halahanivka, Ukrains’ke, Hrem’yach, Novovasylivka (Chernihiv oblast), Volfyne, Tur’ya (Sumy oblast), Ohirtseve, Okip, and Budarky (Kharkiv oblast).
 
Kup’yans’k axis: the adversary conducted unsuccessful offensives in the areas southeast of Andriivka (Luhansk oblast). Kam’yanka, Petropavlivka, Pishchane, Berestove, and Kyslivka (Kharkiv oblast) came under artillery and mortar fire of the adversary.
 
Donetsk Battle Map. August 13, 2023. Source: ISW.
 
Lyman axis: the adversary launched air strikes in the vicinities of Bilohorivka (Luhansk oblast) and Vesele (Donetsk oblast). More than 15x settlements, including Bilohorivka (Luhansk oblast), Terny, Serebryanka, Verkhn’okam’yans’ke, Spirne, Dibrova, and Zvanivka (Donetsk oblast), were shelled with artillery.
 
Bakhmut Battle Map. August 13, 2023. Source: ISW.
 
Bakhmut axis: the adversary made unsuccessful attempts to regain the lost ground in the vicinities of Andriivka and Klishchiivka (Donetsk oblast). Russian forces launched an air strike in the vicinity of Klishchiivka. More than 20x settlements, including Min’kivka, Hryhorivka, Orikhovo-Vasylivka, Chasiv Yar, Ivanivske, Bila Hora, Pryvillya, and New York (Donetsk oblast), suffered from enemy artillery shelling.
 
Avdiivka axis: under heavy fire from enemy aircraft and artillery, the Ukrainian defenders continue to hold back russian troops’ advance in the vicinity of Avdiivka (Donetsk oblast).
The enemy launched an air strike in the vicinity of Avdiivka. The settlements of Oleksandropil’, Stepove, Keramik, Novokalynove, Avdiivka, Pervomais’ke, and Nevel’s’ke (Donetsk oblast) came under artillery fire.
 
Mar’inka axis: the Ukrainian Defense Forces continue to hold back the russian offensive in the vicinity of the city of Mar’inka (Donetsk oblast). The enemy launched an air strike in the vicinity of Krasnohorivka (Donetsk oblast). The invaders fired artillery at more than 10x settlements, including Krasnohorivka, Mar’inka, Pobjeda, Novomykhailivka, Kostyantynivka, and Antonivka (Donetsk oblast).
 
Shakhtars’ke axis: the enemy made unsuccessful attempts to regain the lost ground in the area west of Staromaiors’ke (Donetsk oblast). The invaders launched air strikes in the vicinities of Blahodatne and Staromaiors’ke. More than 10x settlements, including Vodyane, Vuhledar, Bohoyavlenka, Zolota Nyva, Velyka Novosilka, and Staromaiors’ke (Donetsk oblast), came under artillery shelling.
 
Zaporizhzhia Battle Map. August 13, 2023. Source: ISW.
 
Zaporizhzhia axis: the enemy made unsuccessful attempts to regain the lost ground in the area east of Robotyne (Zaporizhzhia oblast). The enemy launched air strikes in the vicinities of Chervone, Charivne, and P’yatykhatky (Zaporizhzhia oblast). More than 20x settlements suffered from enemy artillery shelling, including Ol’hivs’ke, Malynivka, Hulyaipole, Mali Shcherbaky, Charivne, Lobkove, Kam’yans’ke (Zaporizhzhia oblast).
 
Kherson axis: the adversary launched air strikes in the vicinities of Zelenyi Hai, Odradokam’yanka, and Bilozerka (Kherson oblast). More than 20x settlements came under enemy artillery fire, including Zolota Balka, Veletens’ke, Stanislav, Komyshany, Novotyahynka, Kozats’ke, Antonivka, Tokarivka, the city of Kherson (Kherson oblast), and Ivanivka (Mykolaiv oblast).
 
At the same time, the Ukrainian Defense Forces continue to conduct the offensive operation on Melitopol’ and Berdyans’k axes, consolidating their positions, and conducting counter-battery fire.
 
During the day of August 13, Ukrainian Air Force launched 12x air strikes on the concentrations of troops, weapons, and military equipment, as well as 6x air strikes on the anti-aircraft missile systems of the adversary.
 
During the day of August 13, Ukrainian missile and artillery troops hit 2x artillery systems at their firing positions, 1x anti-aircraft missile system, 1x electronic warfare stations, and 1x air defense system of the enemy.
 

Military Updates

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst.

Russia conducts 2 missiles strikes, 24 aerial attacks, and 40 rocket artillery shelling on August 13 – Ukraine General Staff. The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces has released information regarding the strikes carried out by Russian occupiers on Ukrainian territory on August 13, 2023. During the day, Russian forces conducted 2 missile strikes, 24 aerial attacks, and approximately 40 rocket artillery shelling from multiple launch rocket systems on the positions of our forces and populated areas.

Frontline report: Ukraine’s complex drone and missile strike on Crimea exposes positions of Russian air defense. On 12 August 2023, Ukrainian Air Force conducted a complex drone and missile strike on Crimea. Ukraine attacked western Crimea with a group of cheap drones, while Crimean bridge with two missile attacks. While there is little information about damage, Ukrainians collected valuable information about Russia’s air defense.

Russia has likely started producing its domestic version of Shahed drones — CAR. According to the Conflict Armament Research (CAR) investigation, Russia might have already started producing its domestic version of previous imported from Iran Shahed drones. The CAR has inspected remnants of two Russian drones downed by Ukraine on 27 and 28 July 2023, drawing such conclusions. 

Ukraine’s drone strike reportedly eliminated dozens of invaders in Crimea on 12 August — Ukrainska Pravda. According to the Ukrainian outlet Ukrainska Pravda, referring to its sources in Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU), Ukraine killed or wounded dozens of Russian invaders in its drone strike on a logistical base in Crimea on 12 August 2023. Around 2 am local time on Saturday, 12 August 2023, 17 Ukrainian drones struck a Russian military base near the city of Yevpatoria in western Crimea, an area that has been under Russian control since Moscow’s 2014 seizure of the peninsula. The SBU sources said that the drones targeted tent camps, vehicle parks, and fuel storage facilities used by Russian troops. While damage assessments are underway, the sources say dozens of Russian soldiers were likely killed or wounded in the precisely targeted strikes.

MoD: Ukraine not yet secured bridgehead on Kherson’s Dnipro left bank, counter-battery fire tasks underway. A Ukrainian Defense Minister official denied expert suggestions that the Ukrainian troops might have established a bridgehead on the Russian-controlled eastern bank of the Dnipro in Kherson Oblast.

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

British Intelligence Map.
  • Over the last week, there has been an uptick in small-scale combat along the banks of the lower reaches of the Dnipro River.
  • Ukrainian forces have worked to raid or set up small bridgeheads at new locations on the Russian-held east bank. This is in addition to expanding the bridgehead Ukraine has maintained near the ruined Antonivsky Bridge since June 2023. Some of these operations likely took advantage of a local Russian force rotation.
  • The combatants also continue to skirmish for control of small islands in the Dnipro estuary. Russian commanders face a dilemma of whether to strengthen this area or to deploy troops in the areas of Ukraine’s main counter-offensive operations, farther to the east.

Losses of the Russian army

Losses of the Russian Army. Source: Euromaidan Press.

Humanitarian

Kherson Oblast declares mourning: 7 fatalities, 13 injuries in a day. Following the Russian shelling in Kherson Oblast on Sunday, 7 individuals tragically lost their lives, while another 13 suffered injuries. In response to this incident, a day of mourning has been officially proclaimed within the oblast, effective from Monday. Minister of Internal Affairs Ihor Klymenko conveyed, “As of 5:00 PM, due to Russia’s military aggression within Kherson Oblast, a total of 20 individuals have been affected. Among them, 7 have sadly lost their lives (5 in Shyroka Balta, 2 in Stanislav), and 13 have sustained injuries (3 each in Kherson and Beryslav, 2 each in Stanislav and Komyshany, and 1 each in Veletenske, Zolote Balta, and Novokayirakh).”

Russian artillery killed an entire family with a newborn child in their village. On the morning of 13 August 2023, Russia killed seven people in south-Ukrainian Kherson Oblast, informed the head of Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ihor Klymenko. In particular, Russian shelling killed the entire family, with a 12-year-old son and a newborn daughter, in Shyroka Balka village, located on the Dnipro coast 10 km from Russian positions. Their daughter was only 23 days old. Their son was initially hospitalized in difficult conduction, but unfortunately, doctors couldn’t help. Russian shells directly hit the house of this family.

Environmental

Russia created world’s largest minefield along 750-mile front line. The extensive deployment of landmines by Russian forces has significantly impacted the dynamics of the war, causing Ukrainian soldiers to alter their strategies and tactics to navigate this deadly threat, Insider writes. At the forefront of this issue is the staggering density of the minefields, particularly in some regions where reports suggest Russia has placed up to five mines per square meter. Ukrainian officials have characterized these minefields as “insane,” highlighting the unprecedented challenge they pose to the advancing Ukrainian forces.

Support

“We do this not only in Ukraine’s interests but also in our own,” Estonia Amb to Ukraine. In an interview with Delfi, the newly appointed Estonian Ambassador to Ukraine, Annely Kolk, highlighted the reasons behind Estonia’s resolute backing of Ukraine. “We do this not only in Ukraine’s interests but also in our own. Since the onset of the war, the main goal of every Estonian diplomat has been to provide support to Ukraine. Estonia indeed offers colossal support. We realize that Ukraine is fighting for the freedom of all of Europe. Russia is our neighbor too, and if Ukraine doesn’t halt it, similar situations might occur with us. We understand well what Russia represents, having been under its occupation,” Kolk stated.

UK Chief of Defence Staff Radakin visited Ukraine, discussed current counteroffensive with Ukrainian Commander in Chief Zaluzhnyi. The UK Chief of Defense Staff Admiral Tony Radakin visited Ukraine last week, meeting with Ukrainian Commander in Chief General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi. It was Radakin’s fifth visit to Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian full-scale invasion on 24 February 2022. “We discussed the Ukrainian counteroffensive, and I reaffirmed the UK’s unwavering support,” Radakin wrote on Twitter.

New Developments

Russian claim about inspection of cargo ship in Black Sea exposed as false– InformNapalm. The Russian Defense Ministry has been caught in a lie regarding their assertion that Russian forces successfully inspected the dry cargo ship Sukru Okan in the Black Sea, as reported by InformNapalm. The investigative project cites “data from objective monitoring” by sailors aboard one of the vessels who were “observing the situation.” InformNapalm asserts that the Russians fabricated claims about a “warning shooting” and the deployment of an inspection team via helicopter.

Substantive discussion about Ukraine’s NATO membership has begun in US, Ukraine Amb to US says. In a recent interview with LB.ua, Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova, highlighted the success of the Vilnius Summit, revealing that in the United States, “substantive discussions about Ukraine’s NATO membership” has begun. “In the US, a substantive discussion about Ukraine’s NATO membership has begun: it’s not about ‘whether it’s time to talk about it now,’ but about ‘how and when it will happen.’ This is in addition to concrete achievements such as launching the Ukraine-NATO Council and the declaration of G7 countries regarding security commitments,” Markarova said.

Ukraine FM dismisses German concerns about Taurus missiles delivery. Kuleba, as cited by BILD, refuted German concerns of missile misuse against Russian targets, citing precedent from other partners, while underscoring German arms’ role in saving Ukrainian lives and asserting the rockets’ territorial deployment aligned with international law for regaining rightful control.

Ukraine’s Head of Border Guard and Intelligence Deputy Head installed a border sign on Zmiinyi (Snake) Island, paying tribute to fallen defenders. Ukraine’s head of the State Border Guard Service, Serhiy Deyneko, and deputy head of Ukraine’s deputy head of Defence Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, Dmytro Yusov, installed a border sign on Zmiinyi (Snake) Island, paying tribute to fallen defenders. Russian occupiers destroyed the previous border sign on Zmiyinyi island. Today, a border sign has been installed on Zmiyinyi Island. Historical justice was restored by the servicemen of the State Border Service with the full support of the servicemen of the Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense. The next border sign will be installed in our Ukrainian Crimea after its liberation by the Defense Forces of Ukraine,” Deyneko said in a video.

Assessment

  1. On the War

The Institute of Study of War has made the following assessment as of 13 August:

Ukrainian forces conducted counteroffensive operations on at least two sectors of the front on August 13 and reportedly advanced in the western Donetsk-eastern Zaporizhzhia Oblast area and in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces conducted offensive operations in the Berdiansk (western Donetsk-eastern Zaporizhzhia Oblast area) and Melitopol (western Zaporizhzhia Oblast) directions and achieved partial success near Robotyne (western Zaporizhzhia Oblast, 13km south of Orikhiv).[1] Several Russian sources claimed on August 12 that Russian forces withdrew from Urozhaine (in the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia Oblast area), although many Russian sources refuted those claims on August 13 and claimed instead that Russian forces still occupy the southern part of Urozhaine, that fighting is ongoing, and that areas of Urozhaine are contested.[2] ISW has not observed confirmation that Russian forces have completely withdrawn from Urozhaine and Russian forces likely currently maintain positions in at least the southern part of the settlement.

The Russian information space is seizing on Ukrainian gains in Urozhaine (in the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area) to highlight poor Russian morale and command challenges in the area. A Russian milblogger complained on August 12 that the Russian 37th Separate Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade (36th Combined Arms Army, Eastern Military District) failed to dedicate tank units to support its infantry in Urozhaine and prematurely withdrew from Urozhaine on August 10, claiming they lacked reinforcements when in reality the unit’s personnel were drunk in the rear areas.[3] The milblogger complained that the entire 36th Combined Arms Army (CAA) is unwilling to defend the settlement while the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) “Kaskad” Operational Tactical Combat Formation and the 40th Naval Infantry Brigade (Pacific Fleet) defend Urozhaine.[4] These complaints generated a multitude of responses in the Russian information space, including attempts to deescalate tensions between the implicated Russian formations, doubling down on complaints against the 37th Brigade and 36th CAA, and accusing the initial milblogger who reported a Russian withdrawal from Urozhaine of attempting to inflate the reputation of other defending units at the expense of the 36th CAA’s reputation.[5] One milblogger blamed the current situation on the front on the Russian military command’s removal of Major General Ivan Popov as commander of the 58th CAA in early July 2023.[6] The milbloggers notably targeted their complaints at the personnel of these units rather than the unit or theater commanders, suggesting that Popov’s removal and other rumored command purges may have removed mid-level Russian military commanders as a readily available scapegoat for Russian military failures.[7] Alexander Khodakovsky, commander of the “Vostok” battalion defending near Urozhaine, referenced Russian Airborne Forces (VDV) Commander Colonel General Mikhail Teplinsky as saying that Russia cannot win in defense, and Khodakovsky complained that Russia expended its resources too early in the war and now needs to pause to accumulate resources for a new operation, indicating recognition that the Russian elastic defense in this area has its limitations.[8] Teplinsky is reportedly responsible for planning the Russian defense of the Velyka Novosilka area.[9]

A Russian warship forcibly stopped and searched a civilian cargo ship en route to the Izmail port in Odesa Oblast, likely as part of a Kremlin effort to curtail maritime traffic to Ukrainian ports without committing naval assets to fully enforce a blockade. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) stated that the Russian Vasily Bykov patrol ship forcibly stopped and searched a dry cargo ship sailing under the flag of Palau after it did not respond to the Vasily Bykov’s demand for inspection.[10] The Russian MoD stated that the Russian forces conducted small arms warning fire near the civilian ship before a Ka-29 helicopter landed on the vessel with a group of Russian personnel.[11] The Russian MoD claimed that the Russian personnel conducted an inspection and then allowed the civilian vessel to continue along its route to the Izmail port.[12]

The Russian MoD announced on July 19 that it would consider all ships en route to Ukrainian ports as potential military cargo carriers and the flag countries of such vessels as “involved in the Ukrainian conflict on the side of the Kyiv regime.”[13] Russian forces did not stop three civilian ships which openly advertised their destination as Ukraine over their ships‘ automatic identification system (AIS) on July 30.[14] The reports of the three civilian ships sailing to Ukraine unhindered suggested that Russian forces may be unable or unwilling to forcibly stop and search neutral vessels, and Russian forces likely conducted their first forced inspection to reimpose the threat of escalation against civilian vessels en route to Ukraine.[15] Russian forces also likely conducted the forced stop and inspection to undermine confidence in temporary trading corridors through the Black Sea to Ukrainian ports, which Ukrainian officials announced on August 10.[16] The Russian naval posturing in the Black Sea is likely intentionally ambiguous and seeks to create a chilling effect on civilian maritime traffic to Ukraine without requiring Russian forces to commit Black Sea Fleet assets to the enforcement of a naval blockade.[17] The Russian military is likely less willing to commit the Black Sea Fleet to such a blockade than it was in July following notable Ukrainian strikes on Russian naval targets in the Black Sea and the Novorossiysk naval base in Krasnodar Krai in early August.[18]

Key Takeaways:

  • Ukrainian forces conducted counteroffensive operations on at least two sectors of the front on August 13 and reportedly advanced in the western Donetsk-eastern Zaporizhzhia Oblast area and in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
  • ISW has not observed confirmation that Russian forces have completely withdrawn from Urozhaine and Russian forces likely currently maintain positions in at least the southern part of the settlement.
  • The Russian information space is seizing on Ukrainian gains in Urozhaine (in the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area) to highlight poor Russian morale and command challenges in the area.
  • A Russian warship forcibly stopped and searched a civilian cargo ship en route to the Izmail port in Odesa Oblast, likely as part of a Kremlin effort to curtail maritime traffic to Ukrainian ports without committing naval assets to fully enforce a blockade.
  • Russian forces conducted offensive operations along the Kupiansk-Svatove line and attempted to regain lost positions near Bakhmut, in the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area, and in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast, and reportedly advanced in some areas.
  • Ukrainian forces conducted offensive operations along the Kupiansk-Svatove line, near Kreminna, near Bakhmut, in the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area, and in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast, and reportedly advanced in several areas.
  • The Wagner Group is likely downsizing and reconfiguring to adapt to financial pressure following the June 24 Wagner rebellion.
  • Ukrainian partisans claimed to have attacked a Russian military base in occupied Mariupol on August 13.
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