Russia launched a missile strike during the day on August 19 targeting Chernihiv city center, killing 7, including a 6 year old girl; 100+ injured. Ukrainian forces conducted a drone strike on Soltsy airbase in Novgorod Oblast and reportedly damaged strategic aircraft. Russia is negotiating with Türkiye, Qatar on a new grain agreement – Bild.
Daily overview — Summary report, August 20
According to information from the General Staff as of 06.00 20.08.2023, supplemented by its [18:00 assessment].
Ukrainian pilots already begun training on Gripen jets, Zelenskyy said after meeting Swedish PM – Reuters. Ukraine has begun discussing with Sweden the possibility of receiving Gripen jets, said President Volodymyr Zelenskyy after meeting Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, Reuters informed. According to Zelenskyy, Ukrainian pilots had already begun training on the planes.
New Ukrainian “SkyKnight” UAVs ready to destroy Russian equipment – Defense Ministry. New Ukrainian-manufactured “SkyKnight” unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) featuring AI technology advancements will soon be delivered to the armed forces, said the Defense Ministry of Ukraine. These UAVs which were designed to operate autonomously in an automatic flight mode, are capable of transporting payloads of up to 2.5 kg.
Defense Ministry: Ukrainian military casulaties top-secret during martial law. Ukraine’s Defense Ministry neither confirmed nor denied the latest alleged numbers of the Ukrainian military casualties published in media, saying that these data are top-secret.
Russia says Ukrainian drones hit military airfield in Novgorod Oblast. On the morning of 19 August, Ukraine launched a drone attack on a military airfield in Novgorod Oblast in Russia, damaging at least one aircraft. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Ukrainian forces attacked the airfield with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) of the copter type. As a result of the attack, a fire broke out in the aircraft parking area which was promptly extinguished by firefighting teams. One aircraft was damaged, the ministry said, but no casualties were reported.
Ukraine forces destroy 15 of 17 Russian Shahed drones in overnight attack. Ukrainian Air Defense Forces intercepted and neutralized a total of 15 out of 17 Russian “Shahed” drones that attacked Ukrainian territory during the night of August 19. According to official sources from the Ukrainian Air Force, Russian attack was launched from the northern direction using the advanced strike drones, identified as “Shahed-136/131.” A total of 17 drones were launched from the vicinity of Kursk.
Ukraine forces neutralize 10 Russian DRG boats in the south. Ukrainian defense forces obliterated 10 boats employed by Russian diversionary-reconnaissance groups (DRGs) within a 24-hour period on August 18 in south of Ukraine. These boats, carrying a total of 40 Russian servicemen and military equipment, were attempting to infiltrate strategically significant areas. The information was confirmed by Nataliya Humeniuk, the Head of the Unified Coordination Press Center of the Operational Command “South.”
According to British Defence Intelligence, (last 48 hours):
- Over the last week, most of the front line has remained static. However, in the south, Ukrainian forces have continued their advance along the course of the Mokri Yaly river, securing the village of Urozhaine in the face of stiff Russian resistance.
- In the north, Russian forces have continued probing attacks in the Kupiansk area but achieved no significant advances.
- Across the front, both sides confront a similar challenge: attempting to defeat well-entrenched forces while having limited uncommitted forces to open new assaults.
Losses of the Russian army
Russian attack on Khmelnytskyi Oblast damages 400 buildings. Russian drone attack on Khmelnytskyi Oblast on 19 August damaged 400 buildings in the region, said the First Deputy Chief of the Khmelnytskyi Regional State Administration, Serhii Tiurin, according to Suspilne. Administrative buildings, schools, public facilities, as well as hundreds of private houses in the Medzhybizka and Derazhnianska communities were damaged in the drone attack, according to Tiurin. However, no casualties were reported.
Russian forces target Zhytomyr, Khmelnytskyi oblasts in overnight attacks. During the night of August 19, Russian military forces carried out a drone attack on an infrastructure target in Zhytomyr Oblast, causing a fire due to the wreckage of a downed kamikaze drone. “A fire broke out due to the debris of the downed drone, which was later contained by the Emergency Services specialists,” Vitaliy Bunechko, the head of Zhytomyr Oblast State Administration, reported.
Russian forces strike Chernihiv Drama Theater. Russian military forces launched an attack on the city center of Chernihiv, possibly utilizing a ballistic missile, Suspilne Chernihiv reports. A square, the university, and Drama Theater were attacked. There are reports of 90 casualties due to the Russian strike on the Drama Theater in Chernihiv. Seven individuals have lost their lives, including a child. In total, 90 people, including 12 children and 10 policemen, have been injured, Ministry of Internal Affairs reported.
Ukraine receives USD 3,5 million for flood relief efforts after Kakhovka dam destruction. Ukraine has received over $3,5 million in aid from its partners for flood relief efforts after Russian troops destroyed the Kakhovka dam in the southern part of the country, said Minister of Internal Affairs Ihor Klymenko. The minister explained that the assistance helped Ukraine evacuate civilians, pump water from flooded buildings, provide people with drinking water and restore the electricity supply, and eliminate the consequences of Russian missile strikes.
Internal Ministry: Kakhovka power plant beyond repair after Russia destroyed its dam in June. The Kakhovka hydroelectric plant is beyond restoration as nearly half of its dam has been destroyed after Russia blew it up in June, according to Ukraine’s Interior Ministry.
Russia is negotiating with Türkiye, Qatar on a new grain agreement – Bild. Russia warned Ankara in advance, it would terminate the UN-brokered Black Sea agreement that unblocked Ukrainian grain export. Currently, Moscow is negotiating with Türkiye and Qatar on a new agreement on Russian grain shipment primarily to African countries, which will replace the previous deal, according to Bild.
Rheinmetall to begin maintaining Ukrainian tanks in August 2023, says CEO. Rheinmetall, Germany’s biggest arms maker, will start maintaining tanks in Ukraine in August, CEO Armin Papperger told in an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. Papperger said that the first 12 Ukrainian employees of the factory, which will be located in the western part of the country, are undergoing tank servicing training in Germany.
Zelenskyy visits Sweden, discusses CV-90 combat vehicles with Swedish PM. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, during his visit to Sweden on Saturday, initiated discussions with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson. As Swedish media Expressen convey, Kristersson welcomed Zelenskyy at his country residence, Harpsund. The Ukrainian delegation included several ministers, although specific names have not been disclosed. On the Swedish side, the negotiations involve Foreign Minister, Minister for Foreign Trade, Civil Protection Minister, and Defense Minister.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister answered to doubts about the success of the counter-offensive. Ukraine’s FM Kuleba spoke about the voices that the current Ukrainian counter-offensive could fail in his interview with Bild. “We take such statements calmly,” – Kuleba said. “According to unnamed officials, generals & analysts, Ukraine should have ceased to exist within three to 10 days in February 2022. They now assume that Ukraine cannot retake all of its territory so quickly. It shows that even doubters become more hopeful over time.“
SBU head unveils details of the ingenious first strike on Crimean Bridge. The first strike on the Crimean Bridge on the morning of October 8, 2022, just a day following Vladimir Putin’s 70th birthday celebration, featured a truck laden with explosives, expertly wrapped in plastic film. Ukraine launched a second assault on the bridge during the night of July 17, 2023, utilizing maritime drones, subsequently coined the “Marine Baby” operation.
- On the War
The Institute of Study of War has made the following assessment as of 20 August:
Russian forces launched a missile strike during the day on August 19 targeting Chernihiv City center after carrying out a series of Shahed drone strikes overnight. Russian forces struck Taras Shevchenko Theater in Chernihiv City, killing seven people and injuring 117. Chernihiv Oblast Administration Head Vyacheslav Chaus reported that Russian forces “probably” launched a “ballistic missile” at the theater, and Russian sources claimed that Russian forces used an Iskander-M ballistic missile during the strike. The theater reportedly hosted a drone exposition called “Lyuti Ptashky” (Angry Birds), which had previously occurred in other Ukrainian cities. The event organizer, Maria Berlinska, stated that organizers only shared the location of the event with individuals who registered and were screened before attending the event. The event reportedly ended shortly after an air raid warning, and organizers advised people to hide in a shelter. Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar stated that Russian forces are targeting public events to emotionally affect Ukrainians and noted that Russian forces have previously struck public events even without prior public announcements of such events. Many Russian milbloggers originally claimed that Russian forces targeted a Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) building, before most indicated that Russian forces struck the drone exhibition.
Ukrainian military officials reported that Russian forces also carried out 17 Shahed drone strikes overnight on August 19 and that Ukrainian forces shot down 15 drones. The Ukrainian General Staff later reported that Russian forces also carried out five missile strikes. The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed that Russian forces destroyed a Ukrainian ammunition depot in Khmelnytskyi Oblast, and Ukrainian regional officials reported that Russian attacks overnight on unspecified targets wounded eight people. The Zhytomyr Oblast Administration reported that a Russian loitering munition targeted unspecified infrastructure in the oblast and that debris from the shot down drone sparked a localized fire.
Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted a drone strike on Soltsy airbase in Novgorod Oblast and reportedly damaged strategic aircraft on August 19. Geolocated images published on August 19 show smoke rising from the Soltsy airbase. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and other Russian sources claimed that Russian forces shot down a Ukrainian drone using small arms and that a fire damaged one aircraft. A Russian insider source claimed that the fire damaged at least two aircraft and that the Soltsy airbase housed an unspecified number of Tu-22M3 (NATO reporting name Backfire-C) long-range supersonic bombers. The source also claimed that Russian forces moved the undamaged aircraft to Olenya air base, Murmask Oblast.
Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations on at least three sectors of the front on August 19, and advanced along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line and in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces continued offensive operations in the Berdiansk (Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area) and Melitopol (western Zaporizhzhia Oblast) directions. Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Serhiy Cherevaty stated that Ukrainian forces continue to maintain the initiative in the Bakhmut direction. Geolocated footage published on August 16 indicates that Ukrainian forces recently made limited advances east of Nevelske (directly west of Donetsk City). Additional geolocated footage published on August 19 indicates that Ukrainian forces advanced north of Robotyne in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast. CBS News reported on August 18 that anonymous US officials stated that Ukrainian forces are advancing in the direction of Tokmak (a major Russian stronghold in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast) and have cleared a Russian minefield north of Tokmak. US officials are likely referring to recent Ukrainian advances north and east of Robotyne (about 23km northeast of Tokmak). ISW previously assessed that recent Ukrainian advances near small settlements in the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area and in western Zaporizhzhia are likely tactically significant because of the structure of Russian defensive lines. These advances may allow Ukrainian forces to begin operating in less heavily mined areas of the Russian line of defense that are likely more conducive to more rapid Ukrainian gains.
Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Chief of the Russian General Staff and overall theater commander Army General Valery Gerasimov and senior officers at the Southern Military District (SMD) headquarters in Rostov-on-Don on August 19. This was reportedly Putin’s first visit to Rostov-on-Don since the Wagner Group took control of the SMD headquarters on June 23-24. Putin rarely visits areas associated with the war in Ukraine; in April he visited Kherson and Luhansk oblasts and in March he visited Mariupol. Putin’s visit to the SMD headquarters is likely a public gesture that he continues to side with Gerasimov and his group of commanders despite these commanders’ failure to stop Wagner’s rebellion or achieve the war aims Putin set for them. Putin’s visit occurred about two months after the rebellion, and he is likely attempting to portray himself as in control of his regime and military.
The Russian MoD is continuing to set conditions to possibly replace Wagner Group forces with MoD-affiliated private military companies (PMCs). A Wagner-affiliated source that there is an ongoing effort to recruit Wagner personnel to deploy to missions abroad as part of PMCs. The source claimed that unspecified Russian authorities – likely referring to Russian MoD – are forming the new “Rossiyskiy Ekpeditsionniy Korpus” (Russian Expeditionary Corps) PMC at the base of one of the advanced Spetsnaz brigades. The source also claimed that the Russian MoD controls “Redut” PMC (also known as “Zvezda” PMC), which is currently recruiting personnel for missions in Africa instead of in Ukraine. The source suggested that Redut PMC may have been attempting to recruit Wagner fighters to Redut’s operations in Africa, referring to a statement that Wagner commanders issued on August 9 warning fighters about calls from “second-rate” PMCs advertising jobs in Africa. The Russian MoD may be attempting to lure Wagner personnel away from Wagner with new work opportunities at MoD-controlled PMCs as part of a wider effort to break up Wagner.
- Russian forces launched a missile strike during the day on August 19 targeting Chernihiv City center after carrying out a series of Shahed drone strikes overnight.
- Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted a drone strike on Soltsy airbase in Novgorod Oblast and reportedly damaged strategic aircraft on August 19.
- Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations on at least three sectors of the front on August 19, and advanced along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line and in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Chief of the Russian General Staff and overall theater commander Army General Valery Gerasimov and senior officers at the Southern Military District (SMD) headquarters in Rostov-on-Don on August 19.
- The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) is continuing to set conditions to possibly replace Wagner Group forces with MoD-affiliated private military companies (PMCs).
- Russian forces conducted offensive operations along the Kupiansk-Svatove-Kreminna line, near Bakhmut, along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line, and in the western Donetsk-eastern Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area and advanced in certain areas on August 19.
- Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin signed a decree on August 17 establishing the Donetsk Higher Combined Arms Command School under the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD), likely in an effort to further integrate proxy military formations in occupied Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.
- Russian officials continue to deport children from occupied Ukraine to Russia.