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Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 538: An air strike damages over 300 buildings in Odesa

Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 538: An air strike damages over 300 buildings in Odesa

Ukraine advances in the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area. Russia strikes Odesa with 15 Iranian-made drones and 8 missiles overnight. Over 300 buildings damaged and destroyed, including 30 historical monuments.

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Daily report day 538 – August 15, 2023

Source: War Mapper.

According to information from the General Staff as of 06.00 15.08.2023, supplemented by its [18:00 assessment].

Situation in Ukraine. August 14, 2023. Source ISW.

“Last night, the Russian Federation launched yet another strike against Ukraine. Information on the aftermath of this terrorist attack is currently being updated.

On August 14, the Russian occupiers launched a missile and airstrike on the territory of Ukraine, using 8 Kalibr missiles and 15 Iranian Shahed-136/131 combat drones against Odesa oblast. The forces and means of air defence of Ukraine intercepted all Kalibr missiles and UAVs.

The enemy launched a total of 14 missile and 72 airstrikes, 63 MLRS attacks at the positions of Ukrainian troops and various settlements. Unfortunately, the Russian terrorist attacks have killed and wounded civilians. Residential buildings, a shopping center, a student dormitory, kindergartens, schools, and other civilian infrastructure were destroyed or damaged.

The likelihood of missile and airstrikes across Ukraine remains high.

On August 14, there were more than 15 combat engagements.

  • Volyn and Polissya axes: no significant changes.
Luhansk Battle Map. August 14, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Sivershchyna and Slobozhanshchyna axes: the adversary launched airstrikes in the vicinities of Pavlivka and Stepne (Sumy oblast). The adversary fired mortars and artillery at more than 25 settlements, including Popivka, Hrem’yach (Chernihiv oblast), Atyns’ke, Stepne, Vodolahy (Sumy oblast), Ohirtseve, Hatyshche, and Pletenivka (Kharkiv oblast).
  • Kupiansk axis: the adversary launched airstrikes in the vicinities of Ivanivka, Zahryzove (Kharkiv oblast), and Stel’makhivka (Luhansk oblast). The invaders fired artillery and mortars at more than 15 settlements, including Fyholivka, Petropavlivka, Orlyans’ke, Kucherivka, Podoly, and Pershotravneve (Kharkiv oblast).
Donetsk Battle Map. August 14, 2023. Source ISW.
  • Lyman axis: the adversary launched airstrikes in the vicinities of Bilohorivka (Luhansk oblast) and Spirne (Donetsk oblast). the adversary fired artillery at more than 25 settlements, including Serebryanka, Dronivka, Zakitne, Vyimka, Pereizne, and Fedorivka (Donetsk oblast).
Bakhmut Battle Map. August 14, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Bakhmut axis: the adversary launched airstrikes in the vicinities of Vasyukivka and Klishchiivka (Donetsk oblast). More than 25 settlements, including Oleksandro-Shul’tyne, Stupochki, Kurdyumivka, Ozarianivka, and Druzhba (Donetsk oblast), suffered from enemy artillery shelling.
  • Avdiivka axis: the enemy launched an airstrike in the vicinity of Avdiivka. The settlements of Keramik, Avdiivka, Sjeverne, Pervomais’ke, and Nevel’s’ke (Donetsk oblast) came under artillery fire.
  • Marinka axis: the Ukrainian Defence Forces continue to hold back the Russian offensive in the vicinity of the cities of Mar’inka and Krasnohorivka (Donetsk oblast). The enemy launched an airstrike in the vicinity of Krasnohorivka and Novomykhailivka (Donetsk oblast). The invaders fired artillery at more than 10 settlements, including Krasnohorivka, Mar’inka, Heorhiivka, Hostre, Novomykhailivka, and Katerynivka (Donetsk oblast).
  • Shakhtarske axis: the enemy launched airstrikes in the vicinities of Velyka Novosilka, Blahodatne, Makarivka, and Urozhaine (Donetsk oblast). The invaders fired artillery at more than 10 settlements, including Vuhledar, Prechystivka, Zolota Nyva, Blahodatne, Urozhaine, Levadne, and Staromaiors’ke (Donetsk oblast).
Bakhmut Battle Map. August 14, 2023. Source ISW.
  • Zaporizhzhia axis: the enemy launched an airstrike in the vicinity of Novodanylivka (Zaporizhzhia oblast). More than 20 settlements, including Malynivka, Zaliznychne, Bilohir’ya, Stepnohirs’k, and Plavni (Zaporizhzhia oblast), suffered from enemy artillery shelling.
  • Kherson axis: the adversary launched an airstrike in the vicinity of Ol’hivka (Kherson oblast). More than 20 settlements came under enemy artillery fire, including Dniprovske, Berehove, Veletens’ke, Shyroka Balka (Kherson oblast), and the city of Kherson.
  • Zaporizhzhia Battle Map. August 14, 2023. Source: ISW.

At the same time, the Ukrainian Defence Forces continue to conduct the offensive operation on Melitopol’ and Berdyans’k axes, consolidating their positions, and conducting counter-battery fire.

In order to replenish its large-scale casualties, the adversary continues to conduct covert mobilization in the temporarily occupied territories. In particular, the occupation pseudo-government obliged all men at state-owned enterprises in the city of Starobil’s’k (Luhansk oblast) to undergo a medical examination and register for military service.

The Moscow regime continues to illegally integrate the population of the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine into its cultural and educational space. In particular, the Russian occupation administration organized the educational process according to the Russian curriculum by opening a school in Bekhtery (Kherson oblast). Children from the settlements of Obloi, Tendrivske, Zbur’ivka, and Novochornomor’ya were obliged to study in the school. In order to force students to attend the school according to the Russian curriculum, parents are intimidated by administrative liability for absences.

A verbal dispute between Kadyrovites and Dagestanis in the village of Mykhailivka (Zaporizhzhia oblast) broke out, while Russian propagandists were filming a video with a high-ranking Kadyrovite commander. During the dispute, both sides of the conflict opened fire on each other with small arms. During the clash, one of the occupants sustained fatal injuries, which led to an open confrontation between the units using grenade launchers, grenades, and small arms. As a result of the fighting, which was successful for the Dagestanis, more than 20 occupants were reported killed and 40 wounded on both sides. The commander of the Kadyrovites’ unit was punished by being sent to the front lines.

[The Moscow regime continues illegal integration of the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine into its socio-political space. Thus, in the settlement of Svatove (Luhansk oblast), in order to change the leadership of local governments, the occupiers demand that representatives of administrations and village councils resign from their positions of their own will. The occupiers plan to establish so-called “municipalities” to be headed by local collaborators based on the results of fake elections in the occupied territories on the single voting day in Russia on September 10.]

On August 14, Ukrainian Air Force launched 1 airstrike on a command post, 7 airstrikes on the concentrations of troops, weapons, and military equipment, as well as 3 airstrikes on the anti-aircraft missile systems of the adversary.

Also, the Ukrainian defenders intercepted 1 Ka-52 attack helicopter of the enemy.

On August 14, the Ukrainian missile and artillery troops hit 2 concentrations of troops, weapons, and military equipment, 3 artillery systems at their firing positions, and 1 electronic warfare station of the adversary.“

Military Updates

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst.

Another massive Russian strike: explosions in Dnipro, Lutsk, and Lviv regions, Ukrinform reports. “In Dnipro, Russian missiles targeted an industrial enterprise, where a fire broke out and a person was injured. Missile hits were also recorded in Dnipro and Lviv regions. Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi reports that the invaders targeted the city in the early hours of Tuesday. We have hits here in Lviv. Unfortunately, private residences have also been affected. The relevant services are already on their way to the scene, the report says. The head of the Lviv Regional Military Administration, Maksym Kozytskyi, also reported the strikes in Lviv region, noting that he would later share the details.

Meanwhile, in Dnipro, at 4:20, one of the local enterprises was attacked, Serhiy Lysak, the head of the Regional Military Administration, reported this on social media. According to him, a person sustained injuries.

Lutsk Mayor Ihor Polishchuk says t one of the industrial enterprises in the city was hit, adding that casualties were reported.”

Ukrainian forces kill 99 Russian soldiers on southern Tavriia front, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Brigadier General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, Commander of the Tavriia Operational and Strategic Group of Forces. “Ukraine’s defence forces have killed 99 Russian soldiers and injured 190 on the Tavriia front in southern Ukraine over the course of the past day. Our army’s artillery units have carried out 1,620 firing missions over the course of the past day.

Also over the past day, enemy forces lost a total of 301 soldiers (99 were killed, 190 injured, and 12 captured). Ukrainian forces also destroyed 34 pieces of Russian military equipment on 14 August. This includes five tanks, eight armoured personnel carriers, five artillery systems and mortars, two multiple-launch rocket systems, one air defence system, two UAVs, eight vehicles and three pieces of special equipment. Ukrainian forces also destroyed three Russian ammunition storage points.”

In Lyman-Kupiansk direction, enemy is withdrawing its reserves, attracting “Storm Z” assault units, Censor.net reports, citing the spokesman of the Eastern Group of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Serhii Cherevaty. “To break through the Ukrainian defence, the enemy is adding a semi-criminal element from the “Storm Z” assault units and is actively using amphibious units.

Last day [13 August], in the Lymano-Kupian direction, the Russians fired 521 artillery strikes of various calibers and types, as well as mortars. In addition, seven air raids were carried out. 11 times the enemy tried to storm the positions of the Armed Forces During the fighting, 34 occupiers were eliminated, 95 were wounded, and two were captured, Cherevaty said.

Soldiers of the Armed Forces also destroyed four IFV-1s, a Msta-B howitzer, two mortars, a combat repair and evacuation vehicle, a ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft gun, three kamikaze drones, four trucks with ammunition, and six enemy dugouts. The Russians began to use more often the oldest model of the infantry fighting vehicle, which had been decommissioned by them before the war, Cherevaty noted.”

Russia deploys 14 warships to Black Sea, no missile carriers, Ukrinform reports, citing The Operational Command South. “As of 2:00 p.m., the enemy ship grouping in the Black Sea is deployed in the amount of 14 units, in the Azov Sea – one. No missile carriers have been spotted on combat duty, the statement reads.

The Operational Command South noted that the frigate, which attacked Odesa at night with its entire stock of Kalibr, returned to its basing point.”

Around 4:00 a.m. on August 15, 2023, the Russian invaders struck Ukraine with air and sea-based missiles, the Ukrainian General Staff reports. “In total, launches of at least 28 cruise missiles of various types were recorded: 4 Kh-22 cruise missiles – from six Tu-22M3 long-range aircraft (airfields based in Soltsy, Shaykovka); 20 Kh-101/Kh-555 cruise missiles from 11 strategic aviation aircraft (Engels, Olenegorsk airfields); and 4 Kalibr cruise missiles from a frigate from the Black Sea.

An air alert was announced throughout the territory of Ukraine. Air defence worked in many regions: anti-aircraft missile units, mobile fire groups, fighter aircraft, direct cover units. As a result of anti-aircraft combat by the forces and means of the Air Force, in cooperation with units of other components of the Defense Forces, 16 Kh-101/Kh-555 and “Kalibr” cruise missiles were destroyed.

In addition, 8 launches of enemy S-300/S-400 anti-aircraft guided missiles were recorded in the Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhzhia regions. Local military administrations will report on the consequences of the missile strike, destruction and victims.”

On the night of August 14, 2023, the enemy launched several waves of attack drones and Kalibr cruise missiles, the Ukrainian General Staff reports. “The UAVs attacked from the south-eastern direction (Prymorsko-Akhtarsk), “Kalibri” – from the Black Sea (an enemy frigate in the Yalta area). In total, the enemy used: 15 “Shahed-136/131” attack UAVs; and 8 Kalibr cruise missiles.

All targets were destroyed by the forces and means of air defence of the Air Force in cooperation with units of other components of the Defence Forces. Anti-aircraft guided missiles and small arms of direct cover units were used. As a result of the anti-aircraft battle due to the fall of fragments of missiles and drones, a fire broke out in several locations in the city of Odesa, rescuers are working.

Also, around 05:00 on August 14, 2023, in the direction of Bakhmut, an anti-aircraft missile unit of the Air Force destroyed an enemy helicopter (type to be specified).

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

British Intelligence Map.
  • In an online post on 10 August 2023, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov acknowledged the efforts of the Chechen Vostok Akhmat Battalion in the heavily contested Orhikiv sector in Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
  • Kadyrov’s comments highlighted the continuing role of one of the premier Chechen units in this key area. Vostok officially comes under the command of the Southern Military District’s 42nd Motor Rifle Division which has been active around the village of Robotyne.
  • Chechen forces comprise a relatively small but high-profile component of Russian forces in Ukraine. Kadyrov likely heavily promotes his units’ roles partially to burnish his credentials as a Putin loyalist.
  • 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.

As of Tuesday 15 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 254920 (+540)
  • Tanks – 4313 (+7)
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 8370 (+16)
  • Artillery systems – 5128 (+29)
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 714 (+0)
  • Air defence means – 482 (+3)
  • Aircraft – 315 (+0)
  • Helicopters – 314 (+1)
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 7584 (+22)
  • Vessels/boats – 18 (+0)
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 4242 (+29)
  • Special equipment – 769 (+3)
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0)
  • Cruise missiles – 1387 (+8)

Russian Federation is trying to accumulate stocks of long-range weapons, – Defence Intelligence, Censor.net reports, citing Vadym Skibitsky, a representative of the Ukrainian Defence Intelligence, in an interview with Obozrevatel. “Russian occupation forces are now trying to stockpile long-range weapons in order to continue shelling Ukraine. […] Now, Skibitsky noted, the invaders have changed their shelling tactics.

They combine different types of weapons during airstrikes, but the number of missiles in one strike wave has decreased. Also, the Russians are simulating launches, using fake targets, and conducting reconnaissance, including space. They seek to identify gaps to bypass our air defence system or hit our complexes to protect against threats from the air.”

Cluster of Russian manpower and equipment attacked in temporarily occupied Yuriivka, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Following an explosion in temporarily occupied Yuriivka, not far from Mariupol, Petro Andriushchenko, adviser to the mayor of Mariupol, has reported that a cluster of Russian manpower and equipment has been hit.

Yuriivka. Bavovna. Consequences. For now. A hit on the occupiers’ camp at the Volna [Wave] camp. A double hit. Not a single local was injured, except for the windows. However, the number of occupiers [killed and injured] is in the dozens. Just beautiful.” [Bavovna is a Ukrainian word for cotton; this is a reference to how Russian propaganda, initially refusing to use the word ‘vzryv’ (explosion), used ‘khlopok’ (a bang) instead. However, ‘khlopok’ also means cotton, and this has since become a meme – ed.] Andriushchenko added that the Russians initially wanted to keep this event quiet, but eventually they reported the strike.”

Humanitarian

Amputations in Ukraine reach scale of World War I, expreso.tv reported, citing The Wall Street Journal. “Tens of thousands estimated to have lost limbs since the start of Russia’s war against Ukraine, a toll not seen in recent armed conflicts in the West, The Wall Street Journal reports. Between 20,000 and 50,000 Ukrainians have lost one or more limbs since the beginning of Russia’s invasion in February 2022, the WSJ writes referring to the Ukrainian charity Hope Foundation and the German prosthesis manufacturer Ottobock.

The Kyiv-based Hope Foundation reported that 200,000 Ukrainians were seriously injured, with amputations occurring in 10% of cases. The data on 50,000 is based on information from the government and medical institutions, although the actual figure may be higher, as it takes time to register patients after they undergo the procedure.

It is noted that at the beginning of the war, the main causes of amputations were injuries sustained during artillery and rocket attacks. Now, many are injured by landmines laid along the front line. The high number of amputations reflects the brutal nature of the war, with heavy use of mines and artillery, missile and drone attacks targeting soldiers and civilians alike.

The main challenge is not producing enough artificial limbs, but having expert staff to care for amputees, each of whom needs a tailor-made prosthetic. Civilians often struggle to afford treatment, and many patients must rely on charities to obtain prostheses.

Before the Russian invasion, Ukraine had several thousand amputations annually, but its healthcare system is now overwhelmed. Many patients are waiting more than a year for a new limb, and young children among the amputees are particularly difficult to care for as they must change several prostheses by the time they become adults.”

Mayor’s adviser reports rise in mortality in Mariupol, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Petro Andriushchenko, adviser to the mayor of Mariupol, in an interview with Hromadske Radio. “Patients in temporarily occupied Mariupol are being discharged from hospital to die at home. Meanwhile, the death rate in the city is increasing. Andriushchenko says that insulin is in short supply in the city, so the situation is extremely difficult. […]

The mayor’s adviser maintains that the death rate in the city is steadily rising. About 400 people die in the city every week, he says. A year ago, after the occupation and destruction of the city, when there was still no water or electricity, the death rate was approximately 250 people per week. This is despite the fact that the hospital seems to be working and there seem to be ambulances. In general, this situation is indicative of the lack of doctors,” the mayor’s adviser says.

Andriushchenko says there is only one intensive care unit in the city – in Hospital No. 2. As far as medical care in Mariupol is concerned, the only real possibility in this city is to die, and that’s basically it. They have allegedly opened three hospitals in the city’s districts, but you can’t call them hospitals because there are no inpatients, the mayor’s adviser says.”

Romania Wants to Double Ukrainian Grain Transit, European Pravda reports. “Romania will increase its transit capacity for Ukrainian grain from two to four million tons per month. As reported by Agerpres, Sorin Grindeanu, the Minister of Transport and Infrastructure of Romania, made a statement regarding alternative transportation routes for Ukrainian grain after negotiations with representatives from the US, European Union, Moldova, Ukraine, and Romania.

We agreed that the export of Ukrainian grain should be expedited in the context of the known attacks on Ukrainian ports Reni and Izmail in recent weeks. During these meetings, we emphasised the importance of Romanian ground, rail, and maritime transport routes to support the continuous flow of exports and imports to and from Ukraine, said Grindeanu.

He added that from a transportation perspective, the Sulina Channel on the Danube River is the only viable waterway for these shipments. So it’s important to optimise the capacity of this route.”

Over 50% of nuclear power units repaired in Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal. “The Ukrainian energy system’s repair campaign is proceeding according to plan, and five nuclear power units have been repaired by now, with four more under repair. A total of 62% of coal handling plants’ (CHP) power units and 70% of thermal power plants’ (TPP) units have also been repaired. […]

In addition, 32 HPP units have been repaired or are under repair. Ukrenergo (Ukrainian national energy company) repaired almost 80% of the main networks. High-voltage substations have been restored to pre-war levels. Shmyhal said multi-level protection is being formed for energy facilities.”

Environmental

Up to five mines per square metre – Ukraine’s Defence Minister on Russian minefields, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing The Guardian. “Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov has said that during the counteroffensive, the Ukrainian military sometimes encounter as many as five Russian mines per square metre of territory. Today, Ukraine is the most heavily mined country in the world. Hundreds of kilometres of minefields, millions of explosive devices, in some parts of the frontline up to five mines per square metre. 

Russian minefields are a serious obstacle for our troops, but not insurmountable. We have skilled sappers and modern equipment, but they are extremely insufficient for the front that stretches hundreds of kilometres in the east and south of Ukraine Reznikov said that the huge minefields can be overcome, but it is critical that allies expand and expedite the training already being undertaken by some countries, including the UK.

The Guardian noted that the number of bomb disposal experts in the Ukrainian Armed Forces was insufficient to break through the complex Russian defences on the vast 600-mile (1,000-kilometre) front, where engineer units were targeted by heavy fire. Serhii Ryzhenko, the chief doctor at Mechnikov Hospital in Dnipro, where many of the most seriously wounded are being treated, said he was seeing 50 to 100 soldiers a day, with mines the second most common cause of injury after artillery.”

Russia’s actions in Ukraine can be considered genocide, but evidence must be examined, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Babel. “Beth Van Schaack, US Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice and representative of the US Department of State, believes that some of Russia’s actions in Ukraine can be considered genocide, but the evidence still needs to be examined in order to bring charges against its commission.

Genocide is difficult to prove because you have to have evidence that the perpetrators are acting with the intent to destroy a protected group, in whole or in part. But all the elements you mentioned are gratuitous violence, de-Ukrainisation rhetoric, Russification of children who were deported from Ukraine to Russia and Belarus; these are the types of evidence and the types of behaviour that can be considered for the accusation of genocide, said the Department of State representative.

Van Schaack expressed confidence that prosecutors in Ukraine and other countries are carefully studying this evidence and determining whether they can open a case of genocide or not. At the same time, the underlying conduct, such as attacks on civilians, sexual abuse, displacement of children, can also be classified as war crimes and crimes against humanity, which are ultimately easier to prove. And it remains to be seen whether prosecutors will decide to press charges in genocide, added Van Schaack.”

Aggressors pursue two tasks regarding Ukrainian children, Ukrinform reports, citing the President’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights and Rehabilitation, Daria Herasymchuk, who spoke on the air of Ukrinform: Evening Stream.The Russian Federation runs a purposeful genocidal policy against Ukraine, killing and injuring children on Ukrainian soil or deporting them. This is a genocidal policy. They (Russians — ed.) pursue two tasks: either to eliminate and break the children here, on the territory of Ukraine, which they do – they kill, inflict serious injuries, commit sexual and psychological violence against children, that is, they break them, destroying the future of the Ukrainian nation here. Also, their second task is to abduct Ukrainian children in order to replenish their own nation, said the children’s ombudsperson.

According to her, often abducted Ukrainian children are sent to cadet corps or subjected to other militarization classes so that they later join the ranks of the Russian army. Herasymchuk also noted that the Russians exaggerate the data on children deported from Ukraine in order to present the crime as a “noble act.” The largest number we recorded in the Russian media is 744,000 allegedly ‘evacuated’ children. Everyone understands that this is in no way an evacuation, but rather an abduction, deportation, and forced displacement, but the Russians present it as a really noble act. And accordingly, the bigger the number they voice, the better the act ‘sounds’ to them, being more global,” she explained.

At the same time, according to Herasymchuk, the Russians have provided no confirmation of these data, as neither have they granted access to the children to the Ukrainian side, international organizations, or third countries. The President’s envoy emphasized that Ukraine has data on 19,500 children abducted by Russia, but this figure could potentially reach 300,000, as this is how many young Ukrainians used to live in the territories now temporarily occupied by the Russians. […]

The lawyer with the Regional Center for Human Rights NGO, Kateryna Rashevska, emphasized that the deportation of Ukrainian children by the Russians is nothing but genocide. This is definitely a purposeful policy, and to answer the question of why they do it, you need to look at the internal situation in Russia. The fact is that they are facing significant demographic problems, she noted. According to the legal expert, abduction and deportation of children is a tool for the physical extermination of the Ukrainian people as the Russians are getting stronger, while the Ukrainians are being weakened in this way.

According to Rashevska, it is now impossible to establish the exact number of deported children because there is no access to the territories temporarily captured by the Russians. International organizations, such as UN special representative Virginia Gamba, could help with establishing data, but she removed herself from the process, claiming that deported and forcibly displaced children are outside her mandate, Rashevska believes. However, the lawyer emphasizes that the issue of child abduction is indeed part of the UN special representative’s mandate. The specialist added that for legal qualification it does not matter whether the child was accompanied or unaccompanied at the time of their removal from the Ukrainian territory.

Such removals were mostly done through coercion and intimidation by Russian forces, which by their very presence created an atmosphere of fear and lack of freedom, where it was impossible to make a free and informed decision, she noted.”

Ex-major general of Ukraine’s Security Service sentenced for treason, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Prosecutor General’s Office of UkraineSecurity Service of Ukraine. “Valerii Shaitanov, a former Major General of the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU), […] and former first deputy head of the SSU’s Special Operations Centre Alpha, was found guilty of treason, an attempted act of terrorism, and illegal handling of firearms, ammunition or explosives by the Shevchenkivskyi District Court in Kyiv on 14 August. Shaitanov was sentenced to 12 years in prison with confiscation of property.

The prosecutors proved in court that he had collected information that was a state secret and passed it on to representatives of the Russian Federation. The investigation established that the official, under the alias Bobyl [a solitary man – ed.], had been in contact with an agent named Igor “Elbrus” Yegorov, a colonel in the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB). Yegorov was involved in the occupation and organisation of terrorist activity in Donbas in the summer of 2014, the Security Service of Ukraine said.

Acting on the instructions of the Russian secret services, Shaitanov looked for people among former SSU servicemen in order to commit a terrorist attack.”

Massive attack on Odesa: Number of damaged buildings grows to 296, Ukrinform reports, citing the Odesa City Council . “As of 4:00 p.m., damage to 296 buildings was recorded in Odesa, 1,460 windows with a total area of about 2.5 thousand square meters were broken by the blast wave, the report says.

As Ukrinform reported, the Russian forces attacked Odesa three times on the night of August 14, using 15 attack drones and eight Kalibr-type sea-based missiles. Seven educational institutions were destroyed, one of which is an architectural monument. Four medical facilities and the Armenian consulate were also damaged.”

Support

Norway will provide Ukraine with systems to combat UAVs, Censor.net reports, citing the press service of the Norwegian government. “Ukraine to receive systems to counter CORTEX Typhon C-UAS drones from Norway. The contract is estimated to be worth NOK 740 million (over $71 million). It is being funded through the UK-led International Fund for Ukraine (IFU), with Norway as the main donor.

This will greatly enhance Ukraine’s anti-drone capabilities and help protect the Ukrainian population and infrastructure, said Eric Lee, Director of Kongsberg DA.

[The CORTEX Typhon C-UAS is based on field-proven software and hardware from Teledyne Flir and KONGSBERG, including surveillance system and KONGSBERG Remote Weapon Station (RWS) and CORTEX Integrated Combat Solution (ICS).]

USA officially announced new $200 million aid package to Ukraine, Censor.net reports, citing US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, with reference to RBC-Ukraine. “The package included ammunition for artillery and air defence systems, anti-tank weapons, additional equipment for demining, etc. […] According to Blinken, the $200 million package includes: ammunition for air defence, artillery shells, anti-tank means, and additional equipment for demining.

Russia started this war and can end it at any time by withdrawing its troops from Ukraine and ending its brutal attacks. Until it does, the United States, our allies and partners will stand with Ukraine […], Blinken emphasized.”

Rheinmetall has confirmed deliveries of Luna unmanned system to Ukraine during 2023, Censor.net reports, citing Rheinmetall. “The German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall has confirmed the provision of a new generation Luna aerial reconnaissance system to Ukraine. Rheinmetall has reached another important milestone with the Luna NG reconnaissance drone. Airborne unmanned means of short-range reconnaissance of the new generation will now be deployed in Ukraine, the message reads.

It is noted that in the current year 2023, a technology group from Düsseldorf will supply the Armed Forces of Ukraine with an air reconnaissance system on behalf of Germany. […] “This is one of the newest systems of unmanned aerial reconnaissance, classification and detection of objects in real time, the concern reported.

[The LUNA NG unmanned aircraft is the latest element in the LUNA system for real-time airborne surveillance, detection and tracking. With its ultra-light but highly stable fuselage structure made of CFRP (carbon fibre reinforced plastic), it offers a flight time of over 12 hours – and with its data link range of over 100km, it achieves a spatial coverage of more than 30,000 km2. […] In flight, the LUNA NG impresses with its low acoustic, thermal and radar signatures.]”

Germany plans to allocate EUR 5B in aid to Ukraine every year – Lindner, Ukrinform reports. “Finance Minister of Ukraine and Germany – Sergii Marchenko and Christian Lindner – signed a memorandum of cooperation between the two countries. […] The memorandum provides for ensuring advisory support by the German side to Ukraine, including in the areas of customs policy, monitoring of financial markets, management of state investments, and privatization of state enterprises. […]

The German finance minister expressed confidence that his country will continue to support Ukraine “as much as necessary”. To date, Germany has already provided EUR 22 billion in financial support, including EUR 12 billion in military assistance. In Germany, Lindner said that a program of support for Ukraine until 2027 has already been developed, which provides for annual support, including military assistance, at the level of EUR 5 billion annually.”

Ukrainian minister announces raising US$6.3m for 10,000 kamikaze drones, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation, has announced a UAH 235 million (US$6.3 million) fundraising campaign to buy 10,000 kamikaze drones. We are launching Operation Unity! UNITED24 [government initiative], Come Back Alive [foundation], and Monobank are joining forces to raise UAH 235 million for 10,000 kamikaze drones. Over UAH 30 million (approx. US$797,000) was raised in less than two and a half hours. As of 12:52 (Kyiv time), we have raised UAH 35 million (approx. US$930,000).

The minister added that FPV drones will be purchased abroad, and in Ukraine, they will be equipped with combat payloads worth a total of roughly US$1.5 million: These are the drones that are needed at the frontline. They change the course of events. Everyone who makes a contribution has a chance to get a platinum Monobank card, a meeting with UNITED24 ambassadors, and military souvenirs from Come Back Alive.”

Evaders caught at border would be enough for 5 brigades of AFU, Censor.net reports, citing Financial Times. “During the entire period of the full-scale war, as many men were detained on the border of Ukraine as needed to form five brigades of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. As noted, this includes 13,600 people who were simply caught and another 6,100 who were arrested at the border because they used fake documents. In its statements, the FT relies on data obtained from Ukrainian border guards.

The recent wave of corruption scandals shows that some people pay thousands of dollars for documents on exemption from military service, the newspaper writes. The FT emphasizes that despite the “patriotic fervour”, there are people who are trying to avoid being drafted into the army. They are willing to pay big money for this.”

New developments

  1. Now there are only two personal lines of behaviour – Zelensky to Ukrainians, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “President Volodymyr Zelenskyy emphasises that now everyone should either fight for the sake of Ukraine or help in this battle. Now there are only two personal lines of behavior: either you fight for Ukraine, or you help fight and save lives.”
  2. Ukraine must not lose the war, Ukrinform reports, citing German Federal Minister of Finance Christian Lindner. “It is about the future of the European order of peace and freedom. Ukraine cannot lose this war, the politician told German journalists in Kyiv. He added that Russia was attacking Ukraine for its choice in favour of democracy. Lindner assured Ukraine of continued support from the German government.
  3. North Korea’s Kim, Russia’s Putin exchange letters, vow stronger ties, Reuters reports. “North Korea leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin exchanged letters on Tuesday pledging to develop their ties into what Kim called a long-standing strategic relationship, Pyongyang’s state media KCNA said. […] The United States has accused North Korea of providing weapons to Russia for its war in Ukraine, including artillery shells, shoulder-fired rockets and missiles. Pyongyang and Moscow have denied any arms transactions.”
  4. We expect Ukraine to understand that Poland has its own interests and obligations, Censor.net reports, citing ZN.ua. “President of Poland Andrzej Duda said that despite the support of Ukraine, the country should first of all defend its own interests. Therefore, the Polish leader promised to protect the domestic market from grain from Ukraine. Journalists asked the head of Poland to comment on Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s statements that Poland, even against the decision of the European Commission, will not agree to lifting the blockade on the import of Ukrainian grain to Poland after September 15.”
  5. China defence minister to visit Russia, Belarus Aug 14-19, Reuters reports. “China’s defence minister Li Shangfu will visit Russia and Belarus from Aug. 14-19, the ministry said in a statement on Monday. While in Russia, Li will attend an international security meeting and make a speech there, according to the statement. He will also meet with leaders from Russia’s national defence department. During his visit to Belarus, he will meet with the Belarus’ head of state and military. Li will also visit military departments in Belarus. China and Russia has strengthened military ties, conducting joint patrols and military exercises. Li had met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in April, vowing to strengthen military cooperation. In July, Li met with the head of Russia’s navy in Beijing.”
  6. Twenty-two Russian diplomats leave Moldova as relations slide, Reuters reports. “Twenty-two Russian diplomats flew out of the Moldovan capital of Chisinau on Monday, leaving behind a skeleton staff as relations between the two countries deteriorate. Moldovan officials have said the reduction of staff at the Russian embassy to 25 from 80 will establish parity with Moldova’s embassy in Moscow. Ex-Soviet state Moldova has been buffeted by Russia’s war in neighbouring Ukraine and its pro-European President Maia Sandu has denounced the invasion and accused Moscow of trying to destabilise her country.”

Assessment

  1. On the War

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of Monday 14 August:

Russian forces conducted offensive operations near Kupiansk and advanced on August 14. Geolocated footage published on August 13 indicates that Russian forces advanced near Orlianka (22km east of Kupiansk) and Mykolaivka (24km east of Kupiansk). Russian Western Grouping of Forces Spokesperson Sergey Zybinsky claimed that elements of the Russian 6th Combined Arms Army (Western Military District) took control of multiple Ukrainian positions and observation posts near Vilshana (15km northeast of Kupiansk). Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces captured positions and occupied the line from Synkivka (8km northeast of Kupiansk) to Petropavlivka (7km east of Kupiansk), where positional battles are ongoing. One of the milbloggers claimed that Russian forces are currently about 7km from Kupiansk. Former deputy interior minister of the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) Vitaly Kiselev similarly claimed that Russian forces are directly on the outskirts of Kupiansk, but ISW has not observed visual confirmation of these claims. Kiselev claimed that Russian forces are unlikely to capture Kupiansk in the near future due to Ukrainian force composition and defensive preparations in the city. Russian sources claimed that Russian forces conducted offensive operations near Petropavlivka, Synkivka, and Kyslivka (20km southeast of Kupiansk). The Russian MoD claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted unsuccessful attacks near Pershotravneve (21km east of Kupiansk) and Mankivka (about 15km east of Kupiansk). A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces are accumulating reinforcements and introducing new units into battle in the Kupiansk direction, and Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar reported that Russian forces are increasing the density of mine-explosive barriers along the international border between Kharkiv and Belgorod oblasts, possibly to disrupt further pro-Ukrainian cross border raids.

Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations near Kupiansk on August 14. The Russian MoD and Zybinsky claimed that Ukrainian forces unsuccessfully attacked near Synkivka and the Usa forest (likely between Synkivka and Lyman Pershyi).

Russian forces conducted offensive operations along the Svatove-Kreminna line but did not advance on August 14. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations southeast of Andriivka (15km west of Svatove), and Ukrainian Luhansk Oblast Military Administration Head Artem Lysohor reported that Russian forces unsuccessfully attempted to advance towards Andriivka. Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar reported that Russian forces are unsuccessfully attempting to push Ukrainian forces out of the Serebryanske forest area (10km southwest of Kreminna). A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces continue to advance near Karmazynivka (13km southwest of Svatove) and Novoselivske (14km northwest of Svatove). Another Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces unsuccessfully attacked near Myasozharivka (15km west of Svatove) and that this is a new Russian direction of attack. Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces have not been able to break through Ukrainian defenses near Bilohorivka (12km south of Kreminna) and Spirne (25km south of Kreminna).

Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted offensive operations along the Svatove-Kreminna line but did not advance on August 14. Russian sources including the Russian MoD claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted unsuccessful attacks near Novoselivske, Bilohorivka, and Dibrova (7km southwest of Kreminna). Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian counter-attacks near Torske (15km west of Kreminna) and Terny (17km west of Kreminna) have slowed Russian activity in the area.

Ukrainian forces continued offensive operations in the Bakhmut direction and marginally advanced on August 14. Geolocated footage published on August 13 shows that Ukrainian forces made minor advances south of Klishchiivka (7km southwest of Bakhmut) while attacking Russian positions. Some Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces advanced in southern Klishchiivka, while others claimed that Russian forces repelled the attacks. A Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces also conducted a failed attack near Ivanivske (6km west of Bakhmut) on August 13.

Russian forces continued offensive operations near Bakhmut and reportedly advanced on August 14. Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces recaptured lost positions in Klishchiivka while counterattacking, and some milbloggers claimed that Russian forces recaptured the entire settlement. ISW has not observed visual confirmation of these claims, however. Ukrainian officials reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful attempts to recapture lost positions near Klishchiivka, west of Andriivka (10km southwest of Bakhmut), and near Kurdyumivka (13km southwest of Bakhmut).

Russian and Ukrainian forces continued to engage in positional battles on the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line on August 14. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive actions near Avdiivka, Marinka (on the southwestern outskirts of Donetsk City), and Krasnohorivka (directly west of Donetsk City. A Russian milblogger characterized fighting in the Avdiivka and Marinka directions as positional because both Russian and Ukrainian forces are focusing on other areas of the front.

Ukrainian forces continued offensive operations in the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area on August 14 and reportedly advanced. Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar reported that Ukrainian forces achieved some unspecified successes south and southeast of Staromayorske (9km south of Velyka Novosilka) and in the Urozhaine direction (9km south of Velyka Novosilka). Maliar also reported that Ukrainian forces continue offensive operations in the Berdiansk direction (Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area). The “Vostok” Battalion, which is defending near Urozhaine, claimed that it is deploying personnel to the rear and second or third levels of defense, suggesting that Ukrainian forces may have advanced near Urozhaine. Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces repelled Ukrainian attempts to advance in Urozhaine. Several milbloggers continued to claim that Ukrainian forces control the northern part of Urozhaine while Russian forces continue to occupy the southern part of the settlement and that the rest of the area in and near the settlement remains contested.

Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks in the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area on August 14 but did not make any confirmed or claimed advances. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces unsuccessfully attempted to regain lost positions west of Staromayorske. Several Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces withdrew from Urozhaine and that elements of the 40th Naval Infantry Brigade (Pacific Fleet) covered their withdrawal. ISW has not observed visual confirmation that Russian forces have completely withdrawn from Urozhaine, and Russian forces likely maintain some positions in the south of the settlement. A Russian milblogger claimed that elements of the “Sokol” Volunteer Battalion of the 108th Air Assault (VDV) Regiment and a reconnaissance company of the 247th VDV Regiment (both of the 7th Guards Mountain VDV Division) are operating near Staromayorske and Urozhaine.

Ukrainian forces conducted offensive operations in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast on August 14, but did not make confirmed or claimed advances. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces continued offensive 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 (13km south of Orikhiv). A Russian milblogger claimed that elements of the 56th VDV Regiment (7th Guards Mountain VDV Division) repelled Ukrainian attacks in the Orikhiv direction.

Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast on August 14 and recently made claimed advances. Russian milbloggers claimed on August 13 that elements of the 42nd Motorized Rifle Division (58th Combined Arms Army, Southern Military District) and elements of the 108th VDV Regiment (7th Guards Mountain VDV Division) advanced in the Orikhiv direction. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces unsuccessfully attempted to regain lost positions east of Robotyne.

Russian sources continue to claim that Ukrainian forces hold limited positions on the left (east) bank of the Dnipro River in Kherson Oblast. A Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces continue to cross to the east bank of the Dnipro River on small boats near the Antonivsky Bridge and Kozachi Laheri. Russian sources amplified footage of a Russian Su-24 bomber flying over Kherson Oblast and speculated that it was striking Ukrainian positions near the Antonivsky Bridge or Kozachi Laheri.

Ukrainian forces conducted counteroffensive operations on at least two sectors of the front on August 14 and reportedly advanced in the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area. Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar reported that Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations in the Melitopol (western Zaporizhzhia Oblast) and Berdiansk (western Donetsk Oblast and eastern Zaporizhzhia Oblast) directions. Maliar added that Ukrainian forces achieved some unspecified successes south and southeast of Staromayorske (9km southeast of Velyka Novosilka) in the Urozhaine (9km south of Velyka Novosilka) direction. Maliar noted that Ukrainian forces are continuing to advance in Urozhaine, and some Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces control the northern part of the settlement. Alexander Khodakovsky, commander of the “Vostok” battalion defending near Urozhaine, complained that Russian forces are not deploying additional reserves and artillery battalions to the area. Khodakovsky claimed that the “Vostok” battalion is fighting for Urozhaine with all available forces but that the forces operating in the area are exhausted and suffering losses. ISW previously assessed that Russian forces lack available operational reserves that would allow them to carry out rotations or bring in additional reinforcements, and that Russian defensive lines may be brittle. Some Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations near Robotyne (13km south of Orikhiv) in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast and advanced in southern Klishchiivka (7km southwest of Bakhmut). Maliar added that Ukrainian forces advanced by three square kilometers in the Bakhmut direction in the past week and liberated 40 square kilometers total since Ukrainian forces began their offensive operations in this direction.

Crimean occupation authorities are attempting to impose new federal penalties on individuals who publish content revealing the locations and operations of Russian military assets in occupied Crimea, likely in response to Ukraine’s ongoing interdiction campaign. Crimean occupation head Sergey Aksyonov announced on August 14 that Crimean occupation officials will propose amendments at a federal level to increase the liability for the spread of photos and videos showing the location and operation of Russian air defense systems, other systems, and military and strategic assets. The amendments would also penalize individuals who publish images of the aftermath of Ukrainian strikes. Aksyonov’s initiative likely intends to improve Russian operational security and limit awareness of Ukrainian strikes on Russian rear areas in the Russian information space, and occupation officials have previously discussed similar restrictions following the attack on the Kerch Strait Bridge on July 17. A Kremlin-affiliated milblogger and prominent Russian propagandist Vladimir Solovyov both expressed concern that Russian authorities could wrongfully use such amendments to censor Russian journalists and milbloggers who report on Ukrainian strikes. Another Kremlin-affiliated milblogger claimed that Russian officials are unlikely to successfully prevent the publication of strike footage.

Russian forces conducted a series of missile and drone strikes targeting Odesa Oblast on the night of August 13 to 14. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian air defenses destroyed all eight Russian-launched Kalibr cruise missiles and 15 Shahed-131/136 drones. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that falling missile and drone debris caused fires in several locations in Odesa City.

The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) likely remains unable to fully take control of some Russian private military companies which are affiliated with or receive sponsorship from Russian officials and businessmen. Russian opposition outlet Dossier reported on August 14 that longtime associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin Arkady Rosenburg and the Russian state-affiliated bank VTB have provided over 300 million rubles ($3.04 million) to the Convoy PMC since late 2022. Dossier reported that Russian energy enterprises Promresurs and Coal Trading also gave a combined 109.5 million rubles ($1.11 million) to Convoy PMC, even though neither enterprise’s profit margins supported the donations. Crimean occupation head Sergey Aksyonov reportedly politically supports the Convoy PMC. The Convoy PMC began formal recruitment for activities in Ukraine in November 2022, and Convoy personnel signed contracts either directly with Convoy PMC or with the Russian 150th Motorized Rifle Division (8th Combined Arms Army, Southern Military District). Dossier noted that Convoy is not subordinate to the 150th Motorized Rifle Division and has its own area of responsibility in Ukraine and command structure. Convoy PMC is reportedly based out of occupied Perevalne, Crimea, and is currently operating in the Kherson direction after originally defending Russian logistics lines on the Melitopol-Dzhankoi highway. Convoy PMC reportedly has 400 personnel as of summer 2023, who receive salaries of 200-300 thousand rubles ($2,030-3,045) per month. Ongoing private financial and political support for the Convoy private military company (PMC) and its continued operations in Ukraine separate from the MoD command structure indicates that the MoD is unable to fully integrate irregular formations into the conventional Russian military despite its announced intent to do so.

Convoy PMC founder Konstantin Pikalov has prior affiliations with the Wagner Group and is reportedly affiliated with the Russian General Staff Main Directorate (GRU). Dossier reported that Pikalov is also the cofounder of the St. Petersburg Cossack Society “Convoy,” and that Pikalov attempted to break into the military services industry starting in 2014 but did not experience much success until he joined the Wagner Group in the Central African Republic (CAR) in 2018. Pikalov reportedly served as an advisor to Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin or as part of a security detail rather than as a fighter. Dossier reported that Pikalov is affiliated with GRU agent Stanislav Poluzanov, whom he later recruited as a deputy commander in Convoy. Dossier reported that there are no records of Pikalov interacting with Prigozhin-affiliated structures after 2018, and Convoy PMC continued international security work in 2019. Dossier reported that Pikalov had little military experience prior to his involvement with the Wagner Group and that Pikalov is the opposite of Prigozhin: “manual and safe for power.” […]

Key Takeaways:

  • Ukrainian forces conducted counteroffensive operations on at least two sectors of the front on August 14 and reportedly advanced in the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area.
  • Crimean occupation authorities are attempting to impose new federal penalties on individuals who publish content revealing the locations and operations of Russian military assets in occupied Crimea, likely in response to Ukraine’s ongoing interdiction campaign.
  • Russian forces conducted a series of missile and drone strikes targeting Odesa Oblast on the night of August 13 to 14.
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) likely remains unable to fully take control of some Russian private military companies which are affiliated with or receive sponsorship from Russian officials and businessmen.
  • US officials announced a new $200 million security assistance package for Ukraine on August 14.
  • Ukrainian forces conducted offensive operations near Kupiansk, along the Svatove-Kreminna line, near Bakhmut, in the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area, and in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast and advanced near Bakhmut.
  • Russian forces conducted offensive operations near Kupiansk, along the Svatove-Kreminna line, near Bakhmut, along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line, in the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area, and in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast and advanced near Kupiansk.
  • The Russian National Guard (Rosgvardia) continues to form new regiments and appoint prominent Russian ultranationalists to command its units, possibly in an effort to incentivize recruitment.
  • Russian authorities are removing local officials in occupied territories of Ukraine likely in order to fill openings with preferred candidates in the upcoming regional elections.

Russians attack bulk carrier heading to Izmail in Black Sea, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Ministry of Defence of Russia. “In the small hours of 13 August, a Russian ship opened “warning” fire on the Sukra Okan, a bulk carrier which was heading for the port of Izmail in Odesa Oblast, Ukraine, under the flag of Palau. The incident took place in the Black Sea.

The Russians complained that the vessel had supposedly ignored some “demands to stop for an inspection to check for prohibited cargo”. The Russians apparently fired warning shots and sent a Ka-29 combat helicopter with a group of troops on board. The Russian troops landed on the vessel and conducted a so-called “inspection”. After that, the Sukra Okan continued on its route to Izmail.

The Russian claim has since been refuted. According to Andrii Klymenko: “According to objective control data provided to InformNapalm by the sailors of one of the vessels (), who observed this event from a distance, the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation lied about the successful inspection of the vessel. As the sailors pointed out, the vessel “Sukra Okan” did not comply with the demands of the ship to stop, but simply temporarily changed its course in the direction of the shore, the territorial waters of Türkiye. There was no helicopter and no warning shots either. There were only threats from the Russians on the radio. […]

  1. Consequences and what to do?

Ukraine’s exports in 1H 2023 14.3% down on year, Ukrinform reports, citing the State Statistics Service of Ukraine. “In the first half of 2023, the export of goods amounted to $19,406.9 million, or 85.7% against the first half of 2022, imports – to $30,447.3 million, or 120.7%,” the report says. The negative balance stood at $11.04 billion against $2.6 billion in the first half of 2022. […]

During the reporting period, Ukraine most actively increased the export of cereals – by 26% ($5.3 billion), as well as that of fats and oils of animal or vegetable origin – by 3.5% ($2.8 billion). The main increase in imports year-on-year was observed for electric power equipment (+48%, by $2.9 billion), nuclear reactors and boilers (+21.2%, by $2.2 billion) and vehicles, except railway (+16.1 %, by $2.9 billion).”

Tumbling rouble claws back ground as central bank to meet, Reuters reports. “The tumbling rouble reversed course late on Monday, rising back to the strong side of 100 against the dollar after Russia’s central bank announced an extraordinary policy meeting for Tuesday. President Vladimir Putin’s economic adviser earlier rebuked the central bank as the rouble slid past 101, blaming its loose policy in a sign of growing discord among monetary authorities.

The rouble has lost around a quarter of its value against the dollar since Putin sent troops into Ukraine in February 2022, as Western sanctions take their toll on Russia’s balance of trade and military spending soars. On the Moscow Exchange, the rouble sank as low as 101.75 on Monday, its weakest in almost 17 months and down 30% down so far this year. By 1452 GMT it had pared all intraday losses and was gaining 0.9% on the day to 98.53.”

Hans Petter Midttun: In the article “ Ministry of Defeat” (Міністерство поразки), Maria Berlinska invites Ukrainians to a grown-up discussion.

She argued that defeat begins with underestimating the enemy, stressing that we are at the beginning of a war with a very serious enemy who knows how to play the long game and is willing to go all the way.

Russia has just started to fight, while we are already starting to run out of resources.

Berlinska recommends honest realism, arguing that Ukraine can only count on its own human resources. Only Ukrainians will die defending Ukraine (as well as the security and stability of Europe). Along with most Ukrainians, she has long realised that NATO will not help protect Ukrainian cities and citizens because of the fear of nuclear Russia.

She argues that “the one who will have more technologies, who will be able to systematically apply them, will win this war”.

Ukraine is fighting a war non have experienced before. It is a total war shaped by radical technological developments. Berlinska stresses the urgent need to mobilise Ukraine’s technological potential to meet evolving developments.

It is necessary to prepare technologically because humanity is moving towards wars of robots, neurons, artificial intelligence, situational awareness systems, intelligent guidance systems, automated combat control systems, etc. The Ministry of Defence is wasting this time.”

In a battlefield where modern, heavy weapon systems are destroyed by drones costing “hundreds of dollars”, it’s time to take stock, mobilise and rise to the occasion. The article is criticising the Ukrainian government in general – and the Ministry of Defence especially – for failing to meet the new realities of war. Despite warnings of an imminent full-scale invasion, Ukraine failed to establish a robust drone production. It had to wait for months while manufacturers ordered and waited for essential components. For the first months, Ukraine defended itself almost without drones. The UAVs they had was mostly supplied by volunteers.

Maria Berlinska highlights the need to learn from the enemy.

Russia has long established the assembly of drones across the country, already producing tens of thousands of strike systems. It has established long-term contracts with large factories in China. It has even made training on drones mandatory in schools, preparing their children for a war it expects to last for years (knowing that the West is not prepared for a protracted war).

The article stresses the need to dramatically and quickly increase the volume of production of drones.

Presently, Ukraine has dozens of drone producers. It needs hundreds. Ukraine urgently needs more specialists. Now the monthly production capacity is in the thousands while hundreds of thousands are needed. To explore the full potential of the 1,000 drone crews Ukraine is fielding, it needs at least 150,000 drones per month.

Additionally – and equally crucial – Ukraine urgently needs a vast number of anti-drone systems.

These are not long-term requirements. The evolving drone war is happening right now. The number of systems crossing the frontline will greatly increase in the upcoming months. We are already seeing a great number of reports and videos of not only weapon systems but also individual soldiers being hunted by kamikaze drones. Lacking adequate defence, the psychological impact must be immense.

Maria Berlinska argues that “with the level of training and technological support that we have, it may be worth seriously reconsidering the approach to the counter-offensive. Maybe take a little break to better prepare.” Unless Ukraine prepares and adapts, the writing is on the wall.

The article obviously caught the attention of the Ukrainian government.

Yesterday evening, President Zelensky stressed that:

Obviously, the Ukrainian production of drones – Leleka, Fury, etc. – as well as supplies from partners and all forms of imports – must grow, and this is one of the most important tasks. It is very important that all officials in the defence system perceive this task exactly as it is said on the frontline. Drones are consumables, and there should be as many of them as needed – as our warriors need – to save lives and ensure results in battles. There is much to be done in this area, and it is too early to say that we are doing enough.”

In an article published yesterday, the Ukrainian Minister of Defence, Oleksii Reznikov, highlighted that – as a response to public concerns – that since 22 February 2022, 32 domestic-made unmanned aerial systems of various types have been approved for operation (including reconnaissance, strike, kamikaze drones and loitering ammunition). 10 different models of first-person view (FPV) are officially in operation by the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

He points out the changes in legislation made during the last 18 months to Ministers simplify import, the procedures for concluding contracts, accepting UAVs, allowing them to operate and delivering them to the front, as well as the simplification of procedures for putting the drones into service. As a consequence, the supply of Ukrainian-made UAVs has increased exponentially. Ukraine is presently spending more than UAH 40 billion [$1,08 billion] on UAVs, half of which comes from the Ministry of Defence.

Reznikov acknowledges that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is tasked to ensure that the Ukrainian Armed Forces have a technological advantage over the enemy. At the same time, he stresses that the needs of the Armed Forces of Ukraine significantly exceed the possibilities of Ukraine’s budget.

The Ministry has taken several initiatives to mitigate the resource situation. Two months ago, under the Ministry of Defence, Ukraine created the Accelerator for Innovative Development. Together with the Ministry of Digital Development, the General Staff and the commands of the military branches, the MoD is working to speed up the procurement and distribution of drones. According to Reznikov, the distribution process has been reduced to 4-5 days during the past month alone.

Together with the Ministry of Digital Transformation, the MoD is in the process of purchasing drones at the expense of the United24 project, which is managed by the Ministry of Digital Transformation and State Special Communications Service. The very same day, Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation, announced a UAH 235 million (US$6.3 million) fundraising campaign to buy 10,000 kamikaze drones (which according to Maria Berlinska will suffice for days rather than months).

UAVs are also transferred to the army through general orders together with the State Special Communications Service. Ukraine, not least, continues to conclude contracts for the purchase of UAVs. Both foreign-made complexes tested in combat (Bayraktar TB2, Atlas PRO, Warmate 3.0, Fly Eye 3.0), as well as domestically produced drones (Aist, Fury, ACS-3, Windhover, PD-2, RAM-2, Spectator-M1), have been contracted or put into service. The purchase of the newly approved Phoenix 03 Heavy UCAV, E-300 Enterprise, and D-80 Discovery systems has begun.

The bottom line is that a protracted war continues to evolve. New technologies are being introduced at a fast pace and the one who has the most cost-effective technology – the ability to break the will and ability of the opponent – will be victorious.

High-end weapon systems alone will not ensure a Ukrainian victory. A fast-evolving drone war on land, in the air and at sea might prove to be decisive. This is technology available to all countries and where the outcome is decided by the ability to mobilise the industrial base, the population and not least, the resources needed to ensure a massive rate of production.

Being subject to a full-scale war, massive destruction, brain drain and maritime embargo, Ukraine is highly likely both lacking the economic and industrial foundation to meet the evolving trends. The outcome of the war, therefore, depends on the West’s ability to mobilise and prioritise the production of the defence systems Europe (including Ukraine) needs to ensure its security and stability.

The West urgently needs to speed up its preparations for a war of drones.

Equally crucial, it needs to prove Maria Berlinska wrong: The West will not only help protect Ukrainian cities and citizens – it must help end the war before it turns into a protracted war that only ends when we lose the will to defend our shared values and principles. That’s when autocracy defeats democracy.

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