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Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 539: Russian missile kills three at Swedish factory in western Ukraine

Ukraine repels cross-border raid in northern Chernihiv Oblast. Russian missile targets Swedish factory in western Ukraine, kills three. India invites Russia but not Ukraine to upcoming G20 summit. 

Daily overview — Summary report, August 16

Source: War Mapper.

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

Situation in Ukraine. August 15, 2023. Source: ISW.
Day 539 of the russian full-scale military aggression against Ukraine has begun.
 
Last night, the russian federation conducted yet another air strike on Ukraine, using Iranian Shahed-136/131 combat UAVs. Information on the aftermath of this terrorist attack is currently being updated.
 
During the day of August 15, the russian occupiers attacked the territory of Ukraine with air- and sea-launched missiles. In total, at least 28x cruise missiles of various types were launched: 4x Kh-22 cruise missiles, 20x Kh-101/Kh-555 cruise missiles, and 4x Kalibr cruise missiles. The Ukrainian air defense destroyed 16x Kh-101/Kh-555, and Kalibr cruise missiles. In addition, at least 8x launches of enemy S-300 and S-400 anti-aircraft guided missiles were reported in Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhzhia oblasts.
 
During the day of August 15, the enemy launched a total of 42x missile, 56x air strikes, and 36x 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 15, there were around 30x combat engagements.
 
Volyn and Polissya axes: no significant changes.
 
Luhansk Battle Map. August 15, 2023. Source: ISW.
 
Sivershchyna and Slobozhanshchyna axes: the adversary launched air strikes in the vicinities of Atyns’ke, Yastrubyne, and Pavlivka (Sumy oblast). The invaders fired mortars and artillery at more than 30x settlements, including Tymonovychi, Khotiivka, Hrem’yach (Chernihiv oblast), Sytne, Shalyhyne, Stepne, Uhroidy, Popivka (Sumy oblast), Hraniv, Pletenivka, Okhrimivka, Kreidyanka, and Vil’khuvatka (Kharkiv oblast).
 
Kup’yans’k axis: the adversary conducted unsuccessful offensives in the areas southeast of Vil’shany and east of Petropavlivka (Kharkiv oblast). The invaders launched air strikes in the vicinities of Ivanivka, Zahryzove, Vil’shany (Kharkiv oblast), and Stel’makhivka (Luhansk oblast). The settlements of Kup’yans’k, Pishchane, Cherneshchyna (Kharkiv oblast) came under artillery and mortar fire of the adversary.
 
Donetsk Battle Map. August 15, 2023. Source: ISW.
 
Lyman axis: the adversary launched air strikes in the vicinities of Bilohorivka (Luhansk oblast), Sivers’k, Spirne, and Vesele (Donetsk oblast). The settlements of Kolodyazi and Sivers’k (Donetsk oblast) came under enemy artillery fire.
 
Bakhmut Battle Map. August 15, 2023. Source: ISW.
 
Bakhmut axis: the adversary launched air strikes in the vicinities of Vasyukivka, Klishchiivka, Andriivka, and Pivnichne (Donetsk oblast). More than 15x settlements, including Min’kivka, Hryhorivka, Bakhmut, Ivanivske, Predtechyne, and Dyliivka (Donetsk oblast), suffered from enemy artillery shelling.
 
Avdiivka axis: the enemy conducted unsuccessful offensive operations in the area south of Avdiivka (Donetsk oblast). The occupiers launched air strikes in the vicinities of Avdiivka and Nevel’s’ke. The invaders fired artillery at more than 10x settlements, including Novokalynove, Semenivka, Yasnobrodivka, Karlivka, 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 cities of Mar’inka and Krasnohorivka (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, Pobjeda, Novomykhailivka, Antonivka, and Yelyzavetivka (Donetsk oblast).
 
Shakhtars’ke axis: the enemy made unsuccessful attempts to regain the lost position in the vicinity of Urozhaine (Donetsk oblast). The invaders launched air strikes in the vicinities of Velyka Novosilka, Makarivka, Staromaiors’ke, and Urozhaine (Donetsk oblast). The invaders fired artillery at more than 10x settlements, including Bohoyavlenka, Zolota Nyva, Urozhaine, Blahodatne, Neskuchne, and Rivnopil’ (Donetsk oblast).
 
Zaporizhzhia Battle Map. August 15, 2023. Source: ISW.
 
Zaporizhzhia axis: the enemy launched air strikes in the vicinities of Omel’nyk, Mala Tokmachka, Novodanylivka, and Robotyne (Zaporizhzhia oblast). More than 25x settlements suffered from enemy artillery shelling, including Levadne, Hulyaipole, Bilohir’ya, Luk’yanivs’ke, P’yatykhatky, and Plavni (Zaporizhzhia oblast).
 
Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. August 15, 2023. Source: ISW.
 
Kherson axis: the adversary launched air strikes in the vicinities of Mykolaivka and Sadove (Kherson oblast). The enemy fired artillery at the settlements of Ponyativka, Kherson, Novodmytrivka (Kherson oblast), and Ochakiv (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.
 
Against the backdrop of declining morale in the occupation forces’ personnel, the enemy command is increasingly resorting to staged filming of its successes. Thus, filming preparations are reported in the temporarily occupied settlement of Kozachi Laheri (Kherson oblast). The propaganda video to be shot by a russian film crew is to follow the plot of “Destruction of 150x servicemen of the Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance group in the local village house of culture” [community center]. However, as of August 13, 2023, the building is taken by up to 25x former convicted prisoners of the russian occupation forces.
 
During the day of August 15, Ukrainian Air Force launched 7x air strikes on the concentrations of troops, weapons, and military equipment of the adversary.
 
During the day of August 15, the Ukrainian missile and artillery troops hit 4x artillery systems at their firing positions, 1x anti-aircraft missiles system, and 1x other important target of the adversary.
 

Military Updates

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst.

Frontline report: Inside Ukraine’s cross-river raid in Kherson oblast and capture of Russian battalion commander. In a swift overnight operation, Ukrainian forces crossed the Dnipro River in Kozachi Laheri, captured territory and troops, including a Russian battalion commander.

Ukraine repels cross-border raid in northern Chernihiv Oblast. Ukraine’s Joint Forces Commander says border guards near Novhorod Siverskyi repelled an attempt of 10-14 men trying to cross from Russia.

WSJ: West, Ukraine prepare for next phase of offensive in spring 2024. Ukraine’s attempt to swiftly rout Russian forces has stalled, leading strategists in Kyiv and the West to ready for a grinding war lasting months or years.

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

https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1691755278490845309

  • Russia has almost certainly started to deploy domestically produced one way attack Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles (OWA-UAVs) based on Iranian Shahed designs. Russian forces have been importing Iranian-made systems since September 2022.

 

  • Indigenous manufacturing will likely allow Russia to establish a more reliable supply of OWA-UAVs. The performance of these weapons has been variable and Ukraine has proved effective in neutralising the majority of incoming OWA-UAVs.

 

  • Russia likely aims for self-sufficiency in OWA-UAVs in the coming months. However, in the interim, Russia remains reliant on components and whole weapons from Iran, primarily shipped via the Caspian Sea.

Losses of the Russian army

 

Losses of the Russian Army. Source: Euromaidan Press.

 

 

Humanitarian

Russian missile targets Swedish SKF factory in western Ukraine, killing three – Reuters. On 15 August, Swedish bearings maker SKF (SKFb.ST) said a Russian missile hit its factory in the western city of Lutsk, killing three employees, according to Reuters. SKF’s spokesperson, Carl Bjernstam, said that the company would assess the damage caused by the Russian attack on the factory. He also added that the company’s primary focus was on its employees and their safety.

Russian troops force schools to adopt Kremlin-curated curriculum in occupied territories of Ukraine – General Staff. The Moscow-installed authorities in the temporarily occupied village of Bekhtery in Kherson Oblast have opened a school that introduced education based on the Russian curriculum, says the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Russian troops have forced children from four settlements – Obloyi, Tendrivske, Zburiivka, and Novochornomoria to study at the school. Their parents have been threatened by administrative penalties if children avoid visiting the institution.

Over 9,400 civilians killed in Ukraine since start of war, says UN. The UN cautioned that its numbers are likely an undercount, given the challenges of verifying information from active war zones.

Kindergarten, sports complex, flats damaged in Russian massive night missile strike on Ukraine’s center, west. At least three people were killed by a Russian night attack that also damaged a sports center used for all-Ukrainian competitions.

Environmental

Latvia could begin Ukrainian grain exports in fall 2023 – Delfi. Latvia could begin transporting Ukrainian grain in fall 2023, said the chairman of Latvian Railways’ board, Rinalds Plavnieks, according to Delfi. He mentioned that previously he had doubts over the possibility of transporting Ukrainian grain by railway through Latvia.

Ukraine eyes grounded Russian cargo planes in Canada, Germany as asset seizures stall. Antonov Airlines seeks to expand its NATO cargo fleet with 4 seized Russian planes worth over $240 million, but confiscation obstacles persist despite Canada’s precedent.

Ukraine seizes over USD 200 mln in assets from sanctioned tycoon Firtash over gas theft scheme. Ukraine has seized over $200 mln in assets of oligarch Dmytro Firtash who was previously sanctioned for selling titanium products that Kyiv said ended up being used by Russian military enterprises. In the latest case, three more top managers of the Regional Gas Company, the company he controls received “notices of suspicion” of embezzlement.

Support

Rheinmetall to supply Ukraine with Luna drone system this year, company confirms. German defense group Rheinmetall has confirmed its plans to supply Ukraine with a next-generation LUNA-NG air-supported short-range reconnaissance system. The system should be ready for delivery in 2023 to enhance the effectiveness of the Ukrainian military through advanced technology, says the arms manufacturer company.

 

New Developments

Work.ua CEO: 1.5 years enough time for brands to exit Russia – now we cut ties. Work.ua, Ukraine’s top job portal, says it will no longer cooperate with companies maintaining business ties in Russia – even big names like Metro and Philip Morris. Its CEO has issued a manifesto for others to follow suit.

India invites Russia but not Ukraine to upcoming G20 summit. India has released the list of invitees for September’s G20 summit in New Delhi, which includes Russia but notably excludes Ukraine.

President Zelenskyy wants to expand domestic production and imports of drones.
Zelenskyy says upscaling the domestic production and imports of drones is one of the most important tasks, says the UAVs are consumables in the war zone.

Assessment

  1. On the War

The Institute of Study of War has made the following assessment as of 15 August:

Ukrainian forces conducted counteroffensive operations on at least three sectors of the front on August 15 and reportedly advanced in Luhansk Oblast and western Zaporizhzhia Oblast. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations in the Bakhmut, Melitopol (western Zaporizhzhia Oblast), and Berdiansk (western Donetsk-eastern Zaporizhzhia Oblast) directions.[1] Coordinates published by a Russian milblogger on August 15 indicate that Ukrainian forces have advanced south of Dibrova (7km southwest of Kreminna).[2] Geolocated footage posted on August 14 indicates that Ukrainian forces advanced into Robotyne, and further Russian and Ukrainian reporting published on August 15 suggests that Ukrainian forces have committed additional counteroffensive brigades to the western Zaporizhzhia oblast area.[3] Ukrainian Colonel Petro Chernyk stated that the Ukrainian counteroffensive is advancing slowly in southern Ukraine because Ukrainian forces must overcome a three-echeloned Russian defensive line.[4] Chernyk stated that the Russian line of defense includes a first line of minefields stretching several kilometers wide; a second line with artillery, equipment, and personnel concentrations; and a third line of rear positions meant to preserve resources.[5] Chernyk noted that Ukrainian counterbattery measures are especially important in order to prevent Russian artillery from targeting Ukrainian mine-clearing equipment.[6] Chernyk’s statements are in line with ISW’s previous assessments that Russia’s doctrinally sound elastic defense is slowing Ukrainian forces’ advances in southern Ukraine.[7]

 

Russian forces conducted a large-scale missile strike against targets mainly in Ukrainian rear areas on the night of August 14-15. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces launched 28 missiles, including four Kh-22 anti-ship missiles, 20 Kh-101/555 air-based cruise missiles, and four Kalibr sea-based cruise missiles, at targets throughout Ukraine on the night of August 14-15 and that Ukrainian air defenses shot down 16 Kh-101/555 and Kalibr missiles.[8] The Ukrainian General Staff also reported that Russian forces launched eight S-300/400 missiles in ground attack mode at targets in Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts.[9] The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that the missile strikes targeted key enterprises in Ukraine’s defense-industrial base.[10] Ukrainian and Russian sources reported that Russian missiles targeted various rear areas of Ukraine, including industrial areas in Dnipropetrovsk, Volyn, Lviv, Cherkassy and Donetsk oblasts.[11] Russian sources claimed that Russian forces struck the Starokostyantyniv airfield in Khmelnytskyi Oblast, although Ukrainian sources did not confirm this strike.[12] Russian sources may be inflating claims of the strike on Khmelnytskyi Oblast in order to frame Russia as effectively targeting Ukrainian assets associated with Ukraine’s counteroffensive capabilities.[13]

 

The Kremlin is using the Army-2023 forum in Moscow (August 14-20) to foster bilateral military and political relations with other states and posture itself as a reliable and technologically advanced partner. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that over 77,000 representatives from over 1,500 Russian defense industrial base (DIB) enterprises are presenting over 28,500 defensive and technical developments at the forum, and that representatives from over 82 countries are in attendance.[14] The MoD claimed that Russia conducted 14 bilateral meetings on the first day of the forum.[15] Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin met with officials from Myanmar, Pakistan, Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh, and Djibouti to discuss bilateral defense relations.[16] The Russian MoD also posted photographs of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu viewing Iranian, Chinese, and Indian exhibitions.[17] Chinese Defense Minister Colonel General Li Shangfu spoke at the forum to celebrate Russian-Chinese strategic cooperation and to signal Chinese readiness for further cooperation.[18] The Russian MoD featured multiple Iranian drones at the forum.[19] The Russian MoD also postured itself as a viable long-term defense partner and weapons producer by hosting conversations on long term Russian military training, the intended integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into Russian weapons and control systems, the utilization of three-dimensional printing for Russian naval repairs, and the modernization of domestic rescue and underwater equipment.[20]

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Shoigu made largely boilerplate comments framing the Russian government as effectively meeting Russian force generation efforts, portraying Western and Ukrainian resources as limited, and promoting international cooperation against the West. Shoigu claimed on August 15 at the Moscow International Security Conference that the Russian defense industrial base (DIB) has produced various weapons, tanks, armored vehicles, and drones in an amount of time and alleged that Russian and Soviet equipment capabilities surpass Western equipment capabilities.[21] Shoigu claimed that Western sanctions on Russia have helped to increase domestic military equipment production through import substitution at DIB enterprises, part of a longstanding (and inaccurate) Kremlin narrative since 2014 claiming that international sanctions strengthen Russia.[22]  Shoigu claimed that in contrast, Ukrainian resources and Western military arsenals are almost completely depleted.[23] ISW continues to assess that Russia has failed to mobilize its DIB to adequately support the war effort, however.[24]

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated unsubstantiated claims on August 15 at the Moscow International Security Conference that the West is responsible for “igniting the conflict” in Ukraine.[25] Shoigu and Putin reiterated rhetoric accusing the West of creating instability in Africa, Latin America, and Asia and advocated for deepening Russian defense relations with those countries and the creation of a “multipolar world order.”[26] Shoigu also alleged that the West escalated international conflicts including “the situation around Taiwan.”[27] Shoigu’s reference to Taiwan likely indicates Russia’s continued efforts to create a “no limits” partnership between Beijing and Moscow despite China’s reservations. 

Wagner Group-affiliated sources are undermining private military companies (PMCs) affiliated with the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD). Several Russian and Belarusian insider sources claimed on August 15 that rumors currently circulating about the alleged transfer of Wagner commanders to the Russian MoD’s “Redut” PMC are false.”[28] The insider sources called the rumors a ”dream” of the Russian MoD and denied that any Wagner commanders are transferring to ”Redut” and are instead continuing to fulfill tasks as part of Wagner leadership.[29] Wagner affiliated sources and Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin previously harshly criticized ”Redut” and its constituent units over the backdrop of Wagner’s tensions with the Russian MoD during the Battle of Bakhmut.[30] The acerbic responses of many Wagner-affiliated channels to the allegation that some Wagner commanders may be transferring to ”Redut” suggests that Wagner sources have a continued interest in undermining various MoD-associated organs. As ISW reported on August 14, the Russian MoD appears to be struggling to consolidate control of other PMCs associated with Russian businessmen and enterprises, and likely hopes to maintain a grasp on “Redut” despite rhetorical attacks by Wagner affiliated channels.[31]

 

Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin continues to comment on Wagner issues on the African continent to remain active in the information space, but is notably refraining from commenting on the war in Ukraine. A Wagner-affiliated Telegram channel posted an audio recording of Prigozhin on August 15 wherein Prigozhin commented on the alleged arrests of protesters wearing Wagner shirts in Ghana and claimed that the incident proves that Wagner has continued support around the world and in Africa.[32] Wagner channels previously posted an audio clip of Prigozhin discussing the coup in Niger and Wagner’s presence in Africa on August 8.[33] Prigozhin appears to be using his limited public addresses to focus on platforming Wagner’s interests in Africa as opposed to commenting on the situation in Ukraine or reports of Wagner activity in Russia and Belarus, possibly indicating he is following imposed limitations on his involvement – even rhetorically – with the war in Ukraine.

Russian news outlet Kommersant reported that Russian authorities are developing a mechanism to fully control and shut off civilian mobile telecommunications networks in the event of a declared emergency, possibly related to pro-Ukrainian cross border raids. Kommersant reported on August 15 that Russian authorities are considering amendments to the Russian development strategy for the communications industry that would create a mechanism for law enforcement agencies and civilian communication operators to share frequencies and allow law enforcement agencies to take complete control over jointly used frequencies in the event of a declared emergency.[34] Kommersant reported that experts say it is possible that sharing frequencies could also improve the quality of mobile communications ”in peacetime” because operators will have access to previously restricted frequencies currently only used by Russian authorities.[35] Russian authorities may hope to institute such mechanisms to exert greater control of communications networks and the wider information space in the wake of recent events such as limited pro-Ukrainian cross-border incursions, wherein civilian communications greatly contributed to panic spreading and undermining the official Russian line of the incidents.[36]

 

Key Takeaways:

  • Ukrainian forces conducted counteroffensive operations on at least three sectors of the front on August 15 and reportedly advanced in Luhansk Oblast and western Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
  • Russian forces conducted a large-scale missile strike against targets mainly in Ukrainian rear areas on the night of August 14-15.
  • The Kremlin is using the Army-2023 forum in Moscow (August 14-20) to foster bilateral military and political relations with other states and posture itself as a reliable and technologically advanced partner.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and Shoigu made largely boilerplate comments framing the Russian government as effectively meeting Russian force generation efforts, portraying Western and Ukrainian resources as limited, and promoting international cooperation against the West.
  • Wagner Group affiliated sources are undermining private military companies (PMCs) affiliated with the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD).
  • Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin continues to comment on Wagner issues on the African continent to remain active in the information space but is notably refraining from commenting on the war in Ukraine.
  • Russian news outlet Kommersant reported that Russian authorities are developing a mechanism to fully control and shut off civilian mobile telecommunications networks in the event of a declared emergency, possibly related to pro-Ukrainian cross border raids.
  • Russian forces conducted offensive operations along the Kupiansk-Svatove-Kreminna line, near Bakhmut, along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line, and in the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area, and reportedly advanced near Svatove and Bakhmut.
  • Ukrainian forces conducted counteroffensive operations on at least three sectors of the front on August 15 and reportedly advanced in Luhansk Oblast and western Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
  • The Russian “Vostok” Battalion, which is notably fighting near Urozhaine claimed on August 15 that Russian forces have entirely lost Urozhaine and blamed a lack of infantry and equipment for the loss of the settlement, but ISW has not yet observed visual confirmation that Russian forces have completely withdrawn from the town.
  • The Russian federal subject “Bashkortostan Regiment” volunteer formation has reportedly deployed to Ukraine.
  • Russian authorities continue to integrate occupied Ukrainian territories into the Russian cultural and educational sphere.

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