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Russo-Ukrainian war, day 560: Armenia questions ties with Russia, sends first aid to Ukraine

Armenia has reportedly provided its first aid to Ukraine since the war began. Over 7 million artillery shells and body armor have been procured or received since the invasion began. Romania denies Russian drones reached its territory.
Russo-Ukrainian war, day 560: Armenia questions ties with Russia, sends first aid to Ukraine

Morning report day 560 – September 6

The report is based on media reports, expert analyses, and official information posted online.

Situation

According to information from the General Staff as of 06.00 06.09.2023, supplemented by its [18:00 assessment].

“The Russian Federation continues to wage its war of aggression. Despite the significant losses, Russia has not abandoned its plans to fully occupy Ukrainian territory.

The adversary continues to kill civilians in Ukraine, ignore the laws and customs of war, and use terror tactics, as it launches strikes and shells at both military and civilian targets.

On September 5, the enemy launched 40 airstrikes and 51 MLRS attacks at the positions of Ukrainian troops and various settlements.

Unfortunately, the Russian terrorist attacks have killed and wounded civilians. Residential buildings and other civilian infrastructure were damaged.

The likelihood of missiles and airstrikes across Ukraine remains high.

On September 5, there were 28 combat engagements.

  • Volyn and Polissya axes: no significant changes.
  • Sivershchyna and Slobozhanshchyna axes: the adversary launched airstrikes in the vicinities of Sydorivka (Sumy oblast) and Veterynarne (Kharkiv). The adversary fired mortars and artillery at more than 25 settlements, including Karpovychi, Hrem’yach (Chernihiv oblast), Znob-Novhorods’ke, Starykove, Pokrovka, Oleksandrivka (Sumy oblast), Shevchenka, Starytsya, Hatyshche, Pletenivka, Nesterne, and Budarky (Kharkiv oblast).
  • Kupiansk axis: the Ukrainian Defence Forces repelled enemy attacks in the vicinity of Novoselivs’ke (Luhansk oblast). The adversary launched an airstrike in the vicinities of Petropavlivka and Krokhmal’ne (Kharkiv oblast). The enemy continues to fire artillery and mortars at various settlements, including Masyutivka, Syn’kivka, Ivanivka, Kyslivka, Tabaivka, and Pishchane (Kharkiv oblast).
  • Lyman axis: the Ukrainian Defense Forces repelled enemy attacks in the vicinity of Novojehorivka (Luhansk oblast). The enemy launched airstrikes in the vicinities of Bilohorivka (Luhansk Oblast), Tors’ke, Sivers’k, and Spirne (Donetsk Oblast). The enemy continues to fire artillery and mortars at various settlements, including Nevs’ke, Bilohorivka (Luhansk oblast), Tors’ke, Dronivka, Sivers’k, Verkhn’okam’yans’ke, Spirne, and Hryhorivka (Donetsk oblast).
  • Bakhmut axis: the Ukrainian Defense Forces repelled adversary attacks in the vicinities of Zaliznyans’ke, Klishchiivka, and Bila Hora (Donetsk oblast). The enemy launched an airstrike in the vicinity of Klishchiivka (Donetsk oblast). More than 20 settlements, including Vasyukivka, Novomarkove, Bakhmut, Stupochky, Bila Hora, and Zalizne (Donetsk oblast), were shelled with artillery.
  • Avdiivka axis: the adversary launched an airstrike in the vicinity of Avdiivka (Donetsk oblast). The enemy fired artillery at more than 10 settlements, including Novooleksandrivka, Berdychi, Avdiivka, Sjeverne, Pervomais’ke, and Nevel’s’ke (Donetsk oblast).
  • Marinka axis: the Ukrainian Defence Forces continue to hold back the Russian offensive in the vicinity of Mar’inka. The adversary launched an airstrike near Krasnohorivka. The invaders fired artillery at the settlements of Krasnohorivka, Mar’inka, Heorhiivka, Pobjeda, Novomykhailivka, and Yelyzavetivka (Donetsk oblast).
  • Shakhtarske axis: the enemy launched airstrikes in the vicinities of Vuhledar and Staromaiors’ke. The invaders fired artillery at more than 10 settlements, including Vuhledar, Prechystivka, Shakhtars’ke, Zolota Nyva, Velyka Novosilka, Blahodatne, and Urozhaine (Donetsk oblast).
  • Zaporizhzhia axis: the Ukrainian Defense Forces repelled enemy attacks in the vicinity of Robotyne (Zaporizhzhia oblast). The adversary launched airstrikes in the vicinities of Mala Tokmachka, Robotyne, and Orikhiv (Zaporizhzhia oblast). The adversary fired artillery at more than 15 settlements, including Chervona Krynytsya, Mala Tokmachka, Robotyne, Novodanylivka, and Orikhiv (Zaporizhzhia oblast).
  • Kherson axis: the enemy launched an airstrike in the vicinity of Mykhailivka (Kherson oblast). The invaders fired artillery at more than 15 settlements, including Mykhailivka, Havrylivka, Ivanivka, and Kherson (Kherson oblast).

At the same time, the Ukrainian Defense Forces continue to conduct the offensive operation on the Melitopol axis, consolidating their positions and conducting counter-battery fire.

On September 5, the Ukrainian Air Force launched 11 airstrikes on the concentrations of troops, weapons, and military equipment, as well as 2 airstrikes on the anti-aircraft missile systems of the adversary.

On September 5, the Ukrainian missile and artillery troops hit 1 concentration of manpower, weapons, and military equipment, 14 artillery systems at their firing positions, 1 ammunition depot, and 1 anti-aircraft missile system of the adversary.“

Missile attack on Kyiv: Ukrainian air defences destroy all enemy targets, Ukrinform reports, citing the Kyiv City Military Administration. “The enemy attacked Kyiv with cruise and ballistic missiles in the early hours of Wednesday, September 6. Another missile attack by the enemy on a peaceful city with the aim of killing the civilian population and destroying the infrastructure. And again, the attack was not simple but combined. According to preliminary information, Russian Tu-95MS strategic aircraft launched Kh-101/555/55 cruise missiles from the Saratov region. At the same time, missiles of a different type, probably ballistic ones, were launched at Kyiv, the report said.

According to the post, Ukrainian air defences destroyed all enemy targets moving towards the Ukrainian capital. No casualties or destruction have been recorded in Kyiv so far, the report added.”

Russian drone attack on Izmail port kills one, damages infrastructure -Odesa governor, Reuters reports. “A Russian drone attack earlier on Wednesday on the Danube port of Izmail in the Odesa region killed one person and damaged infrastructure, the region’s governor said on the Telegram messaging app.

During the nearly three-hour attack, several agricultural and port facilities were damaged and several fires recorded, said Oleh Kiper, the governor.”

Russians panic that Ukraine’s Armed Forces are closing in on them on another front, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Russian collaborator Oleksandr Khodakovskyi, a former officer of Ukraine’s Security Service, and the deputy chief of the so-called Russian National Guard in Donetsk People’s Republic. “Russian occupiers have reported that Ukraine’s Armed Forces have launched an offensive near the settlements of Novodonetske and Novomaiorske in the west of Donetsk Oblast, claiming that Ukrainian forces are trying to break through to enter Novodonetske, although Ukrainian top military officials have not confirmed this information yet.

Khodakovskyi confirmed that Ukrainian fighters have been firing a large number of shells on Russian positions “almost 24/7” for several days. Khodakovskyi said “in addition to the psychological impact on the soldiers, such intensive artillery fire led to the fact that minefields lost their effectiveness, and the constant artillery fire did not allow bomb experts to lay new mines and restore everything they destroyed. Khodakovskyi reported on Telegram that as a result of such actions, Ukrainian defenders were able to approach the Russian positions at close range, with nearly no losses. They set down their troops, then pulled their equipment back after targeting the Russian fortifications with direct fire, fearing an artillery response.

Now a fierce battle is ongoing on the approaches to Novodonetske. At the same time, the enemy [the Ukrainians – ed.] is trying to move towards Novomaiorske, using similar tactics, Khodakovskyi wrote on the morning of 5 September.

The Ukrainian military involved in the battles on that part of the front to comment on any Russian information. Their command maintains silence as always. As of now, Ukraine’s Defence Forces on the southern front line have advanced a little further west, near Staromaiorske and Urozhaine in Donetsk Oblast, and much further west, near Robotyne in Zaporizhzhia Oblast. Advances in these areas are likely to open the way to Mariupol in Donetsk Oblast, as well as to Berdiansk and Melitopol in Zaporizhzhia Oblast.”

Russian Defence Ministry reports drone attack in Bryansk Oblast, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “The Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation said that it allegedly stopped an attempted attack by aircraft-type drones at around midnight on 5 September. An unmanned aerial vehicle was destroyed over the territory of Bryansk Oblast by air defence systems.

The Russians also claimed to have brought down drones on the night of 4-5 September, this time supposedly over Kaluga, Moscow and Tver oblasts.”

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

  • Russia’s new school year has begun with a new curriculum incorporating both military skills and the Kremlin’s view of the history of Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin personally held an open lesson with 30 schoolchildren on the first day of term. Topics in the updated national history exam include Crimean reunification with Russia and the ‘Special Military Operation’ in Ukraine.
  • Russia’s parliament approved the curriculum last year. One element, the “Basics of Life Safety”, is aimed towards senior students and includes a basic military training module. This will include handling Kalashnikovs, the use of hand grenades, uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) operations, and battlefield first aid. Pupils may also be visited by Ukraine veterans.
  • The new curriculum serves three objectives: to indoctrinate students with the Kremlin rationale for the ‘Special Military Operation’, instil students with a martial mindset, and reduce training timelines for onwards mobilisation and deployment.
  • The introduction of UAV operations indicates their evolving importance on the battlefield and the lessons learnt about these systems directly from the conflict in Ukraine.
  • Russian authorities in the occupied regions of Ukraine plan to hold for the first time elections on 8-10 September 2023 in parallel with those held in the Russian Federation. Voting has already started in Zaporizhzhia and Mariupol.
  • Whilst over 1,000 candidates have been identified, there is a lack of qualified, experienced, and willing candidates according to some reports. There is also an absence of independent candidates that are not members of the Kremlin endorsed parties, indicating that these will not be free or fair elections. The Ukrainian Centre of National Resistance claims that the occupation administrations have significantly overstated the number of voters on the electoral register.
  • Kremlin polls indicate United Russia, the dominant political party in the Russian Federation, is predicted to gain 80 per cent of the vote in the four occupied regions. The United Russia party will likely command the majority of seats in an attempt to secure the Kremlin’s hold and influence over the occupied regions.

As of Wednesday 6 September, 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 266290 (+610)
  • Tanks – 4497 (+8)
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 8682 (+12)
  • Artillery systems – 5685 (+36)
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 748 (+1)
  • Air defence means – 505 (+1)
  • Aircraft – 315 (+0) 
  • Helicopters – 316 (+0)
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 8190 (+15)
  • Vessels/boats – 19 (+0)
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 4519 (+7)
  • Special equipment – 852 (+1)
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0)
  • Cruise missiles – 1447 (+0)

Nine Russian aircraft destroyed or damaged in latest attack from Russian territory, Euromaidan Press reports. “More information about the Ukrainian strike on the Russian strategic airfield in Pskov on 30 August became available. Previously, the complete destruction of 2 aircraft and possible damage to 2 more were confirmed, but further evaluation was complicated due to the cloudy weather. However, today, it was reported that those 5 previously invisible aircraft highly likely received some damage as well, increasing the number of damaged aircraft from 4 to 9.

But the biggest news is not about the damage inflicted but how Ukrainians did it. […] Some Russian analysts recalled how two weeks ago, Ukrainian saboteurs operating on the territory of the Russian Federation launched drones from the nearby settlements and damaged 2 Russian strategic bombers Tu-22m3, on 2 different airfields. These analysts suggested that maybe this drone strike was also launched from the Russian territory, but other analysts claimed that this was too crazy. The sheer scale of the strike would suggest that Ukrainians established a large-scale production of assault drones inside Russia, created launch pads, and a complicated system of surveillance and coordination, which, as they concluded, would be simply impossible to hide from the Russian Federal Security Services.

Unfortunately for Russians, this is exactly what happened. Right after the strike, the spokesman for Ukrainian Intelligence, Andriy Yusov, released a video of one of the initial tests of a new type of drone that could be assembled from simple cardboard. Possibly, this could be an Australian-made drone or a similar version.

Yusov also claimed that they had already used these drones in a small-scale attack on the Russian airfields in Kursk on 27 August and destroyed 4 fighter jets Su-30, and 1 jet Mig-29. Given that Ukrainians are literally using paper planes with explosives, they are very easy to create and assemble and very hard to detect by radars. Judging by the video, the drones also explode above the target and cover a large area with shrapnel that is capable of penetrating fuselage, fuel tanks, badly damaging an entire aircraft¸ and easily causing a fire. […]

Two days later, the Head of Ukrainian Intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, officially confirmed in an interview that the strike on Pskov was indeed launched from the territory of the Russian Federation. Simultaneously, Ukrainians released a video of the moment of the strike and destruction of one of the Russian strategic cargo planes IL-76. This means that Ukrainians did not just launch drones based on some information but on real-time intelligence that they were receiving via a flying drone. That is why Ukrainians could dynamically correct the trajectories, ensuring a much higher success rate.

British Intelligence recently released a report about all known Ukrainian drone strikes on Crimea and Russia in 2023, and it turned out that in less than 240 days, Ukrainians conducted 190 known strikes. Once again, this does not include those conducted near the contact line, just Crimea and Russia. And as you can also notice from the map, the reach of these drone strikes is very impressive – a lot of bases in the Moscow and Tula regions suffered over these months.

Taking only the last month – August – based only on the confirmed destruction of Russian equipment from videos that happened on the territory of the Russian Federation, Ukrainians destroyed 1.2 billion dollars worth of equipment, which is a substantial proportion of the Russian annual military budget, and is incomparable to how little Ukrainians spent on cheap drones and lately paper planes with explosives for these strikes.”

Russia covering aircraft with car tires will unlikely protect them from drones, Ukrinform reports, citing CNN. “The Russians invented a new way of “protecting” their aircraft from drone attacks with car tires. However, experts consider such a solution ineffective. Satellite imagery from Maxar of Engels Airbase, deep inside Russia, shows two Tu-95 strategic bombers with car tires on top of the airframes.

According to Francisco Serra-Martins of drone manufacturer One Way Aerospace whose drones have been used by Ukrainian forces, the makeshift attempt may have limited effect in terms of mitigating damage. It may reduce the thermal signature for exposed strategic aviation assets placed on airfield aprons, but they will still be observable under infrared cameras, he said.

A NATO military official told CNN the alliance had seen the makeshift attempt. We believe it’s meant to protect against drones. We don’t know if this will have any effect, he said.”

Cuba accuses Russia of recruiting its citizens for military operations in Ukraine, Ukrinform reports, citing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba. “The Ministry of the Interior has detected and it is working to neutralize and dismantle a human trafficking network that operates from Russia in order to incorporate Cuban citizens living there and even some living in Cuba, into the military forces that participate in military operations in Ukraine. Attempts of this nature have been neutralized and criminal proceedings have been initiated against those involved in these activities, the report states. […]

Cuba has a firm and clear historical position against mercenarism, and it plays an active role in the United Nations in rejection of the aforementioned practice, being the author of several of the initiatives approved in that forum, the ministry noted. Cuba’s Foreign Affairs Ministry emphasized that the country is not part of the war in Ukraine.

It is acting and it will firmly act against those who within the national territory participate in any form of human trafficking for mercenarism or recruitment purposes so that Cuban citizens may raise weapons against any country, the ministry added. A reminder that the Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Kazakhstan reported earlier on the attempts to recruit locals in the country’s northern regions to join Russian forces in the war against Ukraine.”

Defence Forces of South don’t observe enemy’s preparations for winter, Ukrinform reports, citing Natalia Humeniuk, head of the Joint Coordination Press Center of the Southern Defense Forces. “We are not observing strong preparations for winter. Perhaps because their logistics are complicated. They barely have time to meet their current needs for ammunition, protective equipment, and to bring in some new units of equipment to replace damaged or destroyed ones. That is why we have not seen such a massive procurement of winterization supplies, said Humeniuk.

She suggested that the Russians are studying the situation and want to understand to which frontier they need to supply winter equipment, since they do not know where they will stay until then.”

Humanitarian

Russian Defeat for Erdoğan. How Turkish Leader Failed to Secure Ukraine Grain Deal with Putin, European Pravda reports. “On September 4, a meeting between the presidents of Russia and Türkiye took place in Russian Sochi – Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The Turkish leader had been pushing for this meeting persistently and for a long time. […] Despite promising statements before the negotiations, Putin did not budge an inch on the issue of restoring the so-called “grain deal,” demanding the cancellation of some sanctions. He did not even guarantee that his demands would end there. There is still no agreement on grain exports that would satisfy both Russia and Ukraine. Kyiv has responded with a refusal to the new proposals or ultimatums conveyed by Putin through Erdoğan. Moreover, Ukraine’s position has supporters among Western leaders. […]

This meeting was supposed to take place not in Russia but in Türkiye. Erdoğan did not hide his strong desire for it. The first agreement for the Russian president’s visit was reached in the spring. Erdoğan publicly announced it and even named the date. But nothing happened. There was a new agreement later. It was supposedly reached in early July when Russia effectively suspended the grain deal but did not acknowledge it. Talks were then scheduled for August. Later, when the Kremlin publicly announced it quit the grain deal, negotiations resumed, but Moscow continued to feed Ankara promises. Erdoğan’s preferred urgent trip was pushed to ‘late August.’ They seemed to have agreed on a specific date, but even that fell apart…

The situation was made even more intriguing by the fact that this was supposed to be Putin’s first foreign visit after the ICC arrest warrant. Türkiye, as a state that had not ratified the Rome Statute, provided additional guarantees that Putin would not be arrested either in Ankara or Istanbul, but even that did not work. Putin raised another demand – the meeting had to take place in Russia.

Even then, Türkiye made concessions. What is remarkable is the silence of the country’s leadership in response to the humiliating attack by Russian military on the ship Şükrü Okan, a bulk carrier which was heading for the port of Izmail. The Turkish civilian crew was put on their knees. The video was subsequently posted on social media by the Russian military department. While everyone, including the US State Department, made outraged statements about Russia’s gross violations of maritime rules, Ankara limited itself to evasive “peaceful” formulations not to anger the Russians. […]

The resumption of the grain deal is of paramount importance for Türkiye. Perhaps no less so than for Ukraine. However, if for Kyiv, it is primarily an economic matter, for Türkiye, it’s a geopolitical one. In July 2022, with the agreement on the grain corridor, Erdoğan secured his ticket to the premier league. He became the guarantor of ensuring that the global food market receives grain, thereby safeguarding African nations from skyrocketing prices, food shortages, and consequently, hunger, social upheaval, and security crises.

The respect of Middle Eastern states, influence in Africa and Southeast Asia, and the satisfaction of a significant segment of Turkish voters for whom Türkiye’s imperial strength is not a simple word. All of this is very important and Erdoğan gained it last year. However, the withdrawal from the “grain deal” by Putin in July 2023 meant that all of these assets started losing value. […]

During the closing press conference, the Turkish leader lacked details in his statements about the grain deal. There was no ‘signal to the world’ that he had announced at the beginning of the negotiations. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan limited himself to words about Türkiye “believing to reach a solution that will meet the expectations in a short time.”

Vladimir Putin, on the other hand, was quick to clarify the expectations. First and foremost, he stated that he did not see a need for the “grain deal” at all. […] Termination of the grain deal has not affected the situation in international food markets and prices continue declining markets – I want to emphasise this, said Putin, despite the unanimous demands from African leaders who recently visited Russia to resume the grain corridor. […]

Russia will not take any steps to resume free navigation of food from Ukrainian ports until the West fulfills Russia’s conditions. Among these conditions are lifting SWIFT sanctions on Rosselkhozbank and removing sanctions from EU and US companies (an unspecified number) engaged in trade in food and fertilisers. However, there’s a problem. Ukraine must also agree to these conditions. Officially, Kyiv has already responded with a categorical refusal. The Ukrainian side is unwavering – no lifting of sanctions for Russia is possible.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative must be restored. It must be restored not through blackmail, or the fulfilment of the whims of the Russian Federation. But because there were no legal or political grounds for the Russians to withdraw from the agreement in the first place. If we make concessions now, they will return in a month, leaving the deal again and putting forward new conditions. This is just classic blackmail, responded the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, following the Sochi negotiations.”

Almost 800 medical facilities partially or completely restored in Ukraine, Ukrinform reports, citing the press service of the Health Ministry of Ukraine. “Over more than 18 months of the war, 799 medical facilities have already been completely or partially restored in various regions across Ukraine. In particular, 384 facilities have been fully restored and another 415 were partially restored, the report says.

It is noted that most medical facilities were restored in Mykolaiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Chernihiv regions. The Health Ministry stressed that the restoration of medical infrastructure is among the state’s priorities so that Ukrainian patients can have access to high-quality healthcare in wartime. Despite Russian attacks, the Health Ministry, together with its partners, continues to work on restoring the Ukrainian healthcare infrastructure.

As reported, as of May 2023, Russian attacks completely destroyed 177 medical facilities and damaged more than 1,400 in Ukraine.”

Environmental

There’s a Battle Over Carbon Emerging from the War in Ukraine, Politico reports. “A new international effort is working to hold Russia accountable for the climate impact of its invasion. […] Last November, more than half a year after de Klerk daydreamed his climate accounting vision, he and his small team presented a first batch of results at a yearly United Nations climate summit held in Egypt. The findings contained in their report revealed that emissions attributable to the war’s first seven months totalled at least 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in direct, indirect and prospective reconstruction-related emissions. The figure is equivalent to the Netherlands’ entire emissions over the same period.second report released in June updates that figure to 120 million metric tons of carbon dioxide for the war’s first 12 months.

Everyone knows that war is destructive to humans and buildings and land and societies, usually concentrated to the combatant countries. But as the world has slowly come to terms with the planet’s warming, it’s become clear that war is also destructive to the Earth’s climate, damage that spreads to all humans and all countries regardless of their relationship to the conflict. That damage will be expensive to mitigate, and de Klerk is part of a two-part effort to first, account for the destruction and second, to hold Russia accountable for it. […]

History has, of late, taken a different turn. Tara Sonenshine, a professor of practice at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy who has written on the war’s environmental toll, says Ukraine’s emphasis on throwing light on the conflict’s emissions not only reflects a preoccupation over climate damage but also serves a second purpose: It ties Ukraine’s battle for survival to a major issue also threatening Western societies. The Ukrainians have to constantly connect the dots to build support, she said. The professor calls the strategy Western values alignment. That includes at the top of the list, right now, climate change, she added. Part messaging or not, Ukraine’s position has brought to the forefront a debate long overlooked.

It is the first time that serious attention has been focused on how the war has contributed to global emissions, said Doug Weir, who heads the Conflict and Environment Observatory. To be sure, the war’s emissions do not command more attention in Kyiv and other capitals than its human cost. But Ukrainian officialsbroadcasting the findings of de Klerk and his colleagues, sometimes to great effect, have raised the issue’s profile. Speaking to diplomats at a United Nations climate change summit in Bonn this June, a Ukrainian delegate cited the findings of the “international group of experts,” as he called them, to voice accusations that Russia was harming the environment with the invasion of Ukraine.

The intervention, during which the Ukrainian delegate also faulted Moscow with broader accusations over the war, prompted a stern response from Russia, whose representative objected to the “anti-Russian rhetoric.” Ukraine’s minister of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources, Ruslan Strilets, has also highlighted the findings of de Klerk and his team. In July remarks, he cited their estimate to accuse Russia of setting his country back by 120 million metric tons of carbon dioxide because of the war.

Even Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has had things to say about the emissions of the war. Midway through his opening speech at a November UN meeting in Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh, he invited other leaders to help Ukraine “assess the impact of military actions on (the) climate and environment.”

The UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine has not yet concluded that Russia is committing genocide in Ukraine, ISW reports.Head of the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine Erik Mose stated on September 4 that the commission has not yet concluded that Russia is committing genocide in Ukraine. Mose stated that the commission must determine the intent of the perpetrators and identify the “need” to physically or biologically exterminate a certain group to meet the legal qualifications under the Genocide Convention. 

Mose stated that the commission has found evidence for a large number of war crimes, specifically evidence of torture and strikes on Ukrainian energy infrastructure that the commission could consider as crimes against humanity. Mose also stated that the commission previously determined that certain statements in Russian mass media could be considered as incitement to commit genocide. Mose noted that the commission’s investigation into genocide in Ukraine will continue. 

Article II of the 1948 Convention of the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the Genocide Convention) states that “genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measure intended to prevent births within the group; forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.” 

Article III states that “the following acts shall be punishable: genocide; conspiracy to commit genocide; direct and public incitement to commit genocide; attempt to commit genocide; complicity in genocide.”

Support

At beginning of Russian invasion, Ukraine had resources for maximum of 2-2.5 months of active fighting, Censor.net reports, citing Oleksiy Reznikov’s report after 22 months as the Minister of Defence of Ukraine. “After February 24, the most acute problem that had to be solved was weapons. According to the General Staff’s assessment, the resources of the Defence Forces should have been enough for 2-2.5 months of intense fighting. After that, our army would have physically ended. We were extracting everything that was possible and impossible, said Reznikov.

According to him, in 18 months, more than 7 million artillery shells, mines, tank rounds, and MLRS have been purchased, manufactured to the order of the Ministry of Defence, and received as international technical assistance for the Defense Forces. Over 4,500 artillery systems and mortars. About 3,500 systems protect our skies – from MANPADS to Patriot. More than 6,500 tanks, armored vehicles, and armored vehicles. More than 2 thousand trucks. A large number of small arms, radars, engineering equipment, various types of missiles, helicopters, evacuation vehicles, and much more.

More than 70,000 Ukrainian soldiers also underwent training abroad. Currently, Ukrainian pilots, engineers, and technicians are mastering modern Western aircraft.

As of today, Ukraine has received, physically or in the form of commitments, military aid in the amount of about $100 billion, Reznikov noted. During the term of office, my team and I worked on more than 160 official international events, not counting numerous performances for various audiences and informal contacts, the message reads.

Reznikov emphasized that in six months they not only provided the army, but also created a reserve of 200,000 body armour and more than 120,000 helmets. More than 1.2 million sets of winter uniforms and 2.5 million summer uniforms and much more have been delivered. In one word, we survived as a state and a nation. And we began to implement the plan of our victory, he emphasized.”

Germany announces delivery of new batch of military aid to Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the website of the German government. “The German government has reported on a new batch of military aid delivered to Ukraine. The new package of military assistance from Germany includes, in particular, more than 10,000 shells for Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft guns. Ukraine also received an armoured Beaver motorcycle carrier.

In addition, Germany transferred over four vehicles to protect the state border, 20,000 safety glasses, 32 Zetros trucks, four 8×8 Hx81 tractors and four semi-trailers. The new package also includes more than eight million rounds of small arms ammunition and almost 27,000 rounds of 40 mm rocket-propelled grenades.

On 30 August, the German government announced the provision of the next package of military assistance to Ukraine, in particular Leopard 1A5 tanks and a TRML-4D radar for air surveillance.”

For first time since beginning of Russian invasion, Armenia has provided aid to Ukraine, Censor.net reports, citing “Radio Azatutyun”.For the first time since the beginning of the full-scale war, Armenia provided humanitarian aid to Ukraine. Currently, it is not known what kind of aid Ukraine will receive.

According to the interlocutors of the publication, Yerevan will officially announce humanitarian aid to Ukraine in the near future. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Government of Armenia have not yet officially commented on this information.”

Lithuanian President says corruption in Ukraine slows down weapon supply, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing LRT. “Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda has said the corruption scandals in Ukraine have a significant impact on Western countries when making decisions on the weapons supply to Kyiv. This is an important reason. This is a very important reason. Since those states that support Ukraine are democratic states, it means that they should take into account their society’s mood and their voters’ opinion.

Imagine the situation: voters in one of the states see that there are very visible corruption scandals in the aid-directed country. This is a huge reputational blow for this state. Nauseda made such comments after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy decided to replace Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov with Rustem Umerov, who had been head of the State Property Fund since last year. […]

Arvydas Anušauskas, Lithuanian Defence Minister, said that the successor of Ukraine’s current Defence Minister, Oleksii Reznikov, would have to make efforts to establish relations with Western leaders. Norway will lead NATO’s efforts to westernise Ukrainian defence procurement and develop cooperation between NATO’s member states and Ukraine.”

New developments

  1. Foreign Minister explains why Ukraine cannot conduct peace talks with Putin, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing NHK. “Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has said that Kyiv cannot conduct peace talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin because he cannot be trusted. He said that Putin cannot be trusted, because even if he gives you his word, there is no guarantee that he keeps it. He is not a person with whom you can seriously negotiate something. If you think that you have successfully agreed with him, then you are putting yourself in danger of being attacked by him, Kuleba said. The Ukrainian Foreign Minister believes that the more successful Ukraine is on the battlefield, the more Russia will be ready for negotiations, but he does not see a possibility for negotiations with the Russian Federation in the near future. If we want to exist as a nation, if we want to survive, we must win, no matter the cost, Kuleba is convinced.”
  2. No drone reached Romania – Romanian President, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Digi24. “Klaus Iohannis, President of Romania, stated that no drone fell on the territory of Romania. […] Iohannis reported that Romania has established “total control over our national space, but yes, we are worried because these attacks occur at a very small distance from the Romanian border. On 4 September, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry with reference to the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine reported that during the Russian attack on Ukrainian ports on the Danube river on 3 September at night Russian Shahed drones fell down in the territory of Romania, and added the photo of the explosion from the other side of Danube. Romania’s Defence Ministry denies this information, claiming Russian drones did not pose a threat for Romania. Later, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba reported that Ukraine has photo evidence of the crash of Shahed drones on the Romanian territory.”
  3. “Western handlers” deliberately put a Jew in charge of Ukraine – Putin, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Meduza. “Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that “Western handlers put an ethnic Jew in charge of modern Ukraine” to “cover up the anti-human nature” of Ukraine. This makes the situation utterly repugnant: that an ethnic Jew is covering up the glorification of Nazism and of those who once presided over the Holocaust in Ukraine.”
  4. Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry reacts to Putin’s remarks about Zelenskyy’s Jewish origin, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Oleh Nikolenko, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. “Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs believes that Kremlin dictator Vladimir Putin is obsessed with the Ukrainian president’s ethnic origin, and that this is indicative of his deep-rooted antisemitism. […] We call on the world to strongly condemn the Russian president’s antisemitic statements. In the modern world, there should be no place for hatred on ethnic grounds.”
  5. US says North Korea will ‘pay a price’ for any weapons supplies to Russia, Reuters reports. “Arms negotiations between Russia and North Korea are actively advancing, a US official said on Tuesday and warned leader Kim Jong Un that his country would pay a price for supplying Russia with weapons to use in Ukraine. Providing weapons to Russia is not going to reflect well on North Korea and they will pay a price for this in the international community, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters at the White House. The Kremlin said earlier on Tuesday it had nothing to say about statements by US officials that Kim planned to travel to Russia this month to meet President Vladimir Putin and discuss weapons supplies to Moscow.”
  6. Ukraine Parliament dismisses Defence Minister Reznikov, Ukrinform reports. “The Verkhovna Rada voted to dismiss Oleksii Reznikov from the post of Minister of Defence. That’s according to People’s Deputy from the Holos parliamentary faction, Yaroslav Zheleznyak, who broke the news on Telegram. He specified that the adoption of the relevant resolution saw the support of 327 lawmakers.”

Assessment

  1. On the War

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of Tuesday 5 September:

(quote) Russian forces conducted offensive operations along the Kupiansk-Svatove line on September 5 and did not make confirmed advances. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful operations near Novoyehorivka (16km southwest of Svatove) and Bilohorivka (10km south of Kreminna). A Russian news aggregator claimed that Russian forces captured several unspecified Ukrainian positions near Synkivka (7km east of Kupiansk) and Petropavlivka (9km northeast of Kupiansk) and continued to push Ukrainian forces out of positions near Petropavlivka. Russian sources claimed on the evening of September 4 that Russian forces were successful near Novoselivske (15km northwest of Svatove) and continued to advance slowly toward the Oskil River west of Svatove. Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar reported on September 5 that Ukrainian forces are repelling about eight Russian attacks each day in the Lyman direction and that Russian forces are preparing for more offensive operations in the Lyman and Kupiansk directions.

Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations near Kreminna on September 5. The Russian MoD and other Russian sources claimed that Russian forces repelled Ukrainian attacks near Dibrova (7km southwest of Kreminna), the Serebryanske forest area (10km southwest of Kreminna), and Torske (15km west of Kreminna).

Ukrainian forces continued offensive operations in the Bakhmut direction on September 5 and have made confirmed advances. Geolocated footage posted on September 5 indicates that Ukrainian forces have made marginal gains south of Andriivka (10km southwest of Bakhmut). The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces continued offensive operations south of Bakhmut and are consolidating positions in the area. Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Ilya Yevlash noted that Ukrainian forces are advancing in the Klishchiivka area (6km southwest of Bakhmut). One Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces managed to advance in the western part of Klishchiivka and took control of an unspecified sector of the road that runs through the settlement.

Russian forces conducted offensive operations in the Bakhmut direction on September 5 and did not make any confirmed advances. The Ukrainian General Staff stated that Ukrainian troops repelled unsuccessful Russian attacks north of Klishchiivka. Several Russian milbloggers claimed that there are ongoing positional battles near the Berkhivka reservoir (about 2km northwest of Bakhmut) and that Russian forces regained lost positions near Kurdyumivka (12km southwest of Bakhmut). The Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) 4th Motorized Rifle Brigade claimed that elements of the 4th Brigade and Chechen “Akhmat” fighters also recaptured positions near Klishchiivka.

A Russian source claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted limited and unsuccessful attacks on the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line on September 5. A Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted a platoon-sized attack near Opytne (about 3km southwest of Avdiivka on the northwestern outskirts of Donetsk City) but that Russian forces ultimately repelled the attack.

Russian forces conducted offensive operations southwest of Donetsk City on September 5 and did not make any claimed or confirmed advances. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces continued unsuccessful ground attacks near Marinka (on the southwestern outskirts of Donetsk City). A Russian milblogger noted that Russian forces continue to assault Marinka but that the frontline southwest of Donetsk City has not changed.

Et bilde som inneholder tekst, kart, atlas, Font

Automatisk generert beskrivelse

Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces increased the tempo of offensive operations and marginally advanced in the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area on September 5. Russian milbloggers widely claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted small-scale armored assaults against positions of the Russian 37th Motorized Rifle Brigade (36th Combined Arms Army, Eastern Military District), 40th Naval Infantry Brigade (Pacific Fleet), and possibly the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) “Kaskad” Operational Tactical Combat Formation on the Novodonetske-Novomayorske line (11-17km southeast of Velyka Novosilka). Russian “Vostok” Battalion Commander Alexander Khodakovsky claimed that Ukrainian forces captured some unspecified Russian positions in this area, but other Russian milbloggers claimed that heavy fighting is still ongoing on the outskirts of Novodonetske and Novomayorske. Khodakovsky also claimed that heavy Ukrainian artillery fire southeast of Velyka Novosilka is degrading Russian morale and reducing the effectiveness of Russian minefields in the area, as Russian sappers are unable to lay more mines. Another prominent milblogger noted that Russian forces in this area need increased counterbattery capabilities to combat Ukrainian artillery. Russian milbloggers also claimed that fighting is ongoing near Staromayorske and Urozhaine (both about 8km south of Velyka Novosilka). A Russian milblogger claimed that an unspecified Russian naval infantry unit, likely the 155th Naval Infantry Brigade (Black Sea Fleet), and elements of the 29th Combined Arms Army (Eastern Military District) repelled Ukrainian attacks north of Mykilske (27km southwest of Donetsk City).

A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces conducted an unsuccessful counterattack near Pryyutne (16km southwest of Velyka Novosilka) in the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area on September 5.

Ukrainian forces continued offensive operations in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast and advanced on September 5. Geolocated footage published on September 5 indicates that Ukrainian forces advanced northwest and south of Robotyne (10km south of Orikhiv) and northwest of Verbove (18km southeast of Orikhiv). Russian sources, including the Russian MoD, claimed that Russian forces repelled small Ukrainian infantry attacks on the Robotyne-Verbove line.

Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces recaptured several positions in Robotyne as of September 5, but ISW has observed no visual confirmation of these claims. Russian milbloggers claimed on September 4 and 5 that unspecified elements of the 76th Guards Air Assault (VDV) Division recaptured several streets in southern Robotyne during counterattacks from the west and east. Another milblogger claimed that Russian forces conducted additional counter-attacks northeast of Novoprokopivka and southwest of Verbove, and that positions on the Robotyne-Verbove and Robotyne-Novoprokopivka lines frequently change hands.

Et bilde som inneholder tekst, skjermbilde, Font, kart

Automatisk generert beskrivelse

A Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces maintain limited positions in the east (left) bank of Kherson Oblast near Kherson City but that Russian forces have stabilized the situation near Hola Prystan. The milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces landed two small groups of 20 total personnel near the Antonivsky Bridge and that a 10-person Ukrainian grouping holds a position near Pidstepne (about 12km east of the Antonivsky Bridge). Another milblogger claimed the situation near the Antonivsky Bridge and Dachy is increasingly tense due to nearby Ukrainian positions.

Ukrainian forces continue to advance in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast. Geolocated footage posted on September 5 shows Russian forces striking Ukrainian positions northwest and west of Robotyne, indicating that Ukrainian forces have advanced into an area near the settlement that Russian forces previously claimed to control. Additional geolocated footage posted on September 5 shows that Ukrainian forces have also advanced south of Robotyne and northwest of Verbove (about 10km east of Robotyne). Geolocated evidence of Ukrainian forces northwest of Verbove suggests that Ukrainian forces are advancing along the line of Russian fortifications that runs into the settlement. Ukrainian military sources also confirmed that Ukrainian forces have been successful in the Robotyne—Novoprokopivka directions south of Orikhiv, and further reported that Ukrainian forces are pursuing successful offensive operations south of Bakhmut.

Russian sources continue to complain that Russian forces lack sufficient counterbattery capabilities and artillery munitions in the face of ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensive activities, which the Kremlin and the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) are reportedly attempting to combat. Russian milbloggers claimed on September 4 and 5 that Russian counterbattery systems are performing poorly along the front in Ukraine. The milbloggers claimed that Russian forces are relying heavily on Lancet drones and 220mm and 300mm rounds for Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), of which there are limited stockpiles. One Russian milblogger noted that the Russian MoD‘s plans to form five new artillery brigades in each of Russia’s five military districts are in part meant to improve general counterbattery capabilities. It is unclear if the milblogger is claiming that the MoD plans to form five or 25 brigades total. The milblogger claimed that the Russian MoD would equip the new brigades with 203-mm 2S7 Pion and 2S7M Malka artillery systems from Russian stores. The New York Times reported on September 4 that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok from September 10-13 and will reportedly discuss North Korea’s supply of artillery shells to Russia. Russian sources have continually complained that Russian forces face problems with counterbattery operations.

Ukrainian counteroffensive operations in the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area are likely succeeding in pinning elements of the 7th Guards Mountain Airborne (VDV) Division and preventing them from laterally redeploying to critical areas of the front in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast. A Russian milblogger posted an audio recording on September 5 purportedly from a soldier in the Russian 247th VDV Regiment in which the soldier claims that he has to retrieve bodies of Russian personnel near Staromayorske because the Russian command is not overseeing the retrieval of bodies and claimed that his unit lost 49 killed in action in one day of fighting. The Russian soldier’s claims suggest that elements of the 247th Regiment remain defending in the western Donetsk-eastern Zaporizhzhia Oblast area, despite claims from a prominent Russian source in late August that some elements are fighting in the Robotyne area. ISW previously observed that elements of 108th VDV Regiment and 56th VDV Regiment — the two other constituent regiments of the 7th VDV Division — have redeployed to the Robotyne area.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reiterated boilerplate rhetoric intended to dismiss recent Ukrainian advances and highlight the beginning of a new academic year for Russian military institutions during a meeting with Russian military leadership on September 5. Shoigu claimed that the Ukrainian forces had not achieved any of their goals for the counter-offensive. Shoigu noted that the Zaporizhzhia direction, most likely referring to the Robotyne area, has become the tensest area of the front lines and that Ukrainian forces have committed several brigades from their “strategic reserve” to this area. Shoigu claimed that Russian forces have destroyed a heavily exaggerated amount of Ukrainian personnel and military equipment since the Ukrainian counteroffensive began in June 2023. Shoigu noted that Russian military schools and training programs began a new academic year on September 1. Shoigu also noted that the curriculum of Russian military training programs has been adjusted to prepare students for the conditions they would face fighting in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin drew historical parallels between Soviet participation in the Second World War and the current war in Ukraine to set ideological expectations for a prolonged war effort. Putin gave a speech on September 5 that invoked the memory of significant Soviet military victories during the Second World War, including turning points in the battles of Stalingrad and Kursk and recapturing the Caucasus and Donbas. […] Putin criticized the international community’s “attitude” to the buildup to the Second World War — very likely criticizing European countries for failing to intervene against Nazi Germany prior to the outbreak of war (and ignoring the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact that briefly allied the Soviet Union with Nazi Germany, permitted the Soviet invasion of the Baltic States, and partitioned Poland) — as also creating conditions for the current conflict in Ukraine and drew parallels between reconstruction efforts and veterans assistance measures during and after the Second World War and the current war in Ukraine. Putin also reamplified the Kremlin information operation falsely portraying the Ukrainian government as a “Nazi regime.” These direct parallels between the “special military operation” and the Second World War are likely the closest that Putin or any other senior Russian official has come to acknowledging the war in Ukraine as an actual war. These parallels also message to a domestic Russian audience that the ongoing Russian war effort is really a war effort despite the insistence on the euphemistic “special military operation.”

The Armenian government appears to be seriously questioning its decades-long security relationship with Russia, amid reports of Armenian humanitarian aid to Ukraine and increasing public dissatisfaction with Russia’s security guarantees. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Armenia service Radio Azatutyun reported on September 5th that the Armenian government has reportedly sent unspecified humanitarian aid to Ukraine for the first time since the war in Ukraine began. Radio Azatutyan’s sources claimed that Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s wife Anna Hakobyan will personally deliver the aid to Kyiv and attend the “Third Summit of First Ladies and Gentlemen” that begins on September 6. The Armenian government has not officially confirmed this information. Pashinyan notably stated that Russia cannot meet Armenia’s security needs in an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica published on September 4 and called Armenia’s dependence on Russia for security a “strategic mistake.” Pashinyan also reported that Russia could not meet Armenia’s security needs even if it so desired, given the Russian military’s current need for weapons and ammunition likely referring to use in Ukraine. Kremlin newswire TASS notably reported on August 28 that Azerbaijani law enforcement officers detained three Nagorno-Karabakh residents, reportedly escorted by Russian peacekeepers, at a checkpoint in the Lachin corridor, prompting protests outside the Russian embassy in Yerevan. A Kremlin-affiliated Russian milblogger confirmed on September 5 that Major General Kirill Kulakov replaced Colonel General Alexander Lentsov as the commander of the Russian peacekeeping contingent in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ukrainian forces continue to advance in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
  • Russian sources continue to complain that Russian forces lack sufficient counterbattery capabilities and artillery munitions in the face of ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensive activities, which the Kremlin and the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) are reportedly attempting to combat.
  • Ukrainian counteroffensive operations in the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area are likely succeeding in pinning elements of the 7th Guards Mountain Airborne (VDV) Division and preventing them from laterally redeploying to critical areas of the front in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
  • Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reiterated boilerplate rhetoric intended to dismiss recent Ukrainian advances and highlight the beginning of a new academic year for Russian military institutions during a meeting with Russian military leadership on September 5.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin drew historical parallels between Soviet participation in the Second World War and the current war in Ukraine to set ideological expectations for a prolonged war effort.
  • The Armenian government appears to be seriously questioning its decades-long security relationship with Russia, amid reports of Armenian humanitarian aid to Ukraine and increasing public dissatisfaction with Russia’s security guarantees.
  • Russian forces conducted offensive operations along the Kupiansk-Svatove-Kreminna line, near Bakhmut, along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line, in the western Donetsk-eastern Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area, and in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast and advanced in some areas on September 5.
  • Ukrainian forces conducted offensive operations in at least two sectors of the front and advanced near Bakhmut, in the western Donetsk-eastern Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area, and in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast on September 5.
  • Russian sources continue to report on Russian efforts to recruit volunteers amid continued rumors of general mobilization.
  • The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) reportedly attempted to assassinate a Russian occupation official in occupied Luhansk Oblast on September 5.“ (unquote)

Former CIA director expects chain reaction effect from AFU’s progress on front, Ukrinform reports. “The Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) are accumulating progress on the battlefield, which may have a chain reaction effect and eventually lead to Russia’s defeat. The relevant statement was made by General David Petraeus, Commander of the US Central Command in 2008-2010, Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency in 2011-2012, during the Kyiv Security Forum.

According to Petraeus, Russians did not distinguish themselves by particularly impressive battlefield expertise but established formidable defences, and the fighting is very hard. Meanwhile, in his words, Ukrainian forces are adapting to tactics on the ground very impressively, and their reactions have been truly admirable. Ukraine’s Defence Forces are keeping Russians stretched out all along the front line and not letting them concentrate in one place.

Ukrainian warriors are creating conditions for further progress by striking Russian ammunition and fuel depots, air and sea bases in Crimea, and logistics lines. Petraeus mentioned that, with Western artillery systems, Ukrainian forces can now outrange Russian systems. In his opinion, certain conditions are being created on the battlefield, and at some point the Armed Forces of Ukraine will be able to strike with the reserve forces available.

All of this is beginning to accumulate, and the question is when do the Russian forces begin to crumble, and when do they crack, and then how effectively can Ukraine take advantage of that to get within range of these critical lines of communications that run along the southeastern and southern part of Ukraine, and can you cut off Crimea […], ideally even take down the Kerch Strait Bridge. If that can be done, then you have the Russian forces in a pretty perilous situation, Petraeus concluded.”

Russian forces reportedly attempted to expand minefields in southern Ukraine following the start of the Ukrainian counteroffensive in June, ISW reports, citing the RUSI report “Stormbreak: Fighting Through Russian Defences in Ukraine’s 2023 Offensive”. “The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) reported that the Russian command determined at the start of the Ukrainian counteroffensive that Ukrainian forces might be able to easily breach the Russian doctrinal minefield depth of 120 meters leading Russian forces to aim to increase the depth of their minefields up to 500 meters. 

RUSI stated that Russian forces lacked enough mines to mine these larger areas as densely as Russian doctrine dictates, causing Russian forces to deviate from doctrine, including by using improvised explosive devices and a wider and differential distance between mines RUSI stated that Russian forces tried to compensate for decreased minefield density by increasing the effectiveness of anti-tank mines by placing two on top of each other. Ukrainian operations across several sectors of the front have likely further compounded these constraints on the Russian effort to expand minefields by forcing Russian forces to disperse their mining efforts along wide sectors of the frontline.

Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Spokesperson Oleksandr Shtupun stated on September 3 that minefields near the next series of Russian defensive positions in western Zaporizhzhia are less dense than the initial defensive layer that Ukrainian forces advanced through. ISW has previously assessed that Ukrainian forces may encounter denser minefields at certain sections of subsequent series of Russian defensive positions, however.

Limitations on Russian artillery capabilities and Ukrainian advantages in counter-battery fire are forcing the Russians to deviate from their own doctrine, RUSI reported.RUSI stated that Russian forces have been attempting to adapt their fire doctrine since before Ukrainian counteroffensive operations began. RUSI noted that Russian forces are attempting to prioritize strike accuracy over volume because they lack enough ammunition to sustain doctrinally designated artillery fire, have difficulties transporting a large volume of ammunition to frontline areas, and are seeing diminishing effectiveness of mass strikes as they lose counterbattery radars and their guns suffer from barrel wear. RUSI stated that Russian forces are attempting to increase the production of Krasnopol laser-guided shells and the use of Lancet drones (loitering munitions) in order to increase accuracy and reduce the number of munitions used in attacks. 

RUSI also observed that Russian forces have often prepared their fighting positions for remote demolition with improvised explosives instead of striking their own positions with artillery after Russian forces have withdrawn, as Russian doctrine dictates. These adaptations suggest that reduced Russian artillery capabilities may be further weakening the Russian defense in certain sectors as artillery fire is a critical component of the Russian elastic defense. A shift towards more precise fire doctrine may allow Russian forces to strengthen these capabilities, but constraints on Russian training capacity will likely prevent Russian forces from implementing this shift at scale in the near term. Russian sources have continually claimed since the start of the counteroffensive that the Russians lack sufficient counterbattery capabilities on various sectors of the front. 

Estonian Defense Forces Intelligence Center Commander Colonel Margo Grosberg reported on September 1 that Ukrainian artillery capabilities are “equal or even better” than those of Russian forces and have been able to push Russian artillery units back from the frontline, preventing them from supporting Russian forces.”

Ukrainian intercepts show Russian soldiers’ anger at losses, disarray, Reuters reports. “Excerpts from 17 phone calls placed in early July by Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine – and intercepted by Ukrainian intelligence services – show them complaining about poor equipment and heavy losses. Ukraine’s counteroffensive was in its second month when Andrey, a Russian soldier, called his wife to say his unit was taking heavy casualties. They were so badly equipped, he said, it felt like the Soviet forces in World War Two.

They are fucking us up,” Andrey said by telephone on July 12, comparing the onslaught to the worst moments of Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union. No fucking ammunition, nothing … Shall we use our fingers as bayonets?

The conversation was one excerpt from 17 phone calls placed by Russian soldiers fighting in the south and east of Ukraine that were intercepted in the first two weeks of July by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), the country’s main intelligence agency. The expletive-laden intercepts, shared with Reuters by a Ukrainian intelligence source, provide a rare – albeit partial – glimpse into the conditions of some Russian soldiers as Kyiv prosecuted a major counteroffensive, which started in early June, two military analysts told Reuters. […]

While Russia has so far largely stemmed Ukraine’s military campaign and made some modest territorial gains of its own in places, the soldiers in the intercepts complain that their units have suffered from heavy losses, a lack of munitions, proper training and equipment, as well as poor morale. […]. Reuters was unable to determine how representative the intercepts are of the conditions in Russia’s armed forces. The Ukrainian intelligence source said they illustrated the challenges facing Russian soldiers but did not elaborate on how the recordings were selected.

Neil Melvin, director of International Security Studies at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a defence and security think tank headquartered in London, said the calls appeared to confirm some Russian forces were thrown into defensive operations with little preparation and were sustaining high casualties, sowing tensions between soldiers and commanders. […] The SBU said in a statement it was constantly monitoring the situation in occupied parts of Ukraine, including via telephone intercepts, but it did not provide any further details. […]

The source provided what the SBU said were the names, telephone numbers and, in most cases, the units of 15 soldiers speaking in the intercepts. Reuters verified that the mobile numbers provided were registered in the names of the enlisted men or their relatives but calls either went unanswered or the phones were turned off. Reuters is only using excerpts from some of the 10 soldiers whose identity it was able to verify using messaging accounts or social media in their names, which in some cases contained photographs of them in military uniforms. […]

In the excerpts, several soldiers used profane language to describe Russian units that had taken heavy casualties and had been unable to retrieve their wounded. One said his detachment had managed to advance but at a high price.

“That’s it. There is no second battalion left. They fucking turned it to crumbs,” Maxim, a soldier from the Siberian region of Irkutsk, told his wife Anna by phone on July 3. He said the battalion – a unit that usually comprises around 500 troops – had been on the Lyman front in the northeast, one of three areas where the Ukrainian General Staff were reporting heavy fighting and Russian counter-attacks at the time. […] The SBU said Maxim served in Russia’s 52nd Regiment. […]

Maxim referred to his dead comrades as “cargo 200”, a term that originated during the Soviet Union’s 1979-89 war in Afghanistan as a military codeword for the zinc coffins used to transport home the bodies of dead Russian soldiers. Often shortened to “200”, it is still widely used in both Russia and Ukraine to describe slain soldiers, while “Cargo 300” denotes the wounded. “Basically, they couldn’t even retrieve the (cargo) 300s. The 300s became 200s,” Maxim said, meaning that the wounded soldiers had been left on the battlefield and died. […]

Following months of fierce Ukrainian resistance on the battlefield, Putin in September announced a partial mobilisation of hundreds of thousands of reservists to replenish the ranks. He later acknowledged in a speech to defence chiefs in December that it had been dogged by certain problems. […]

About nine months later, the soldier, Alexei, was on the phone to his mother from Ukraine, talking graphically about battlefield losses. “They were torn apart. They’re lying there: they can’t even collect some of them. They’re already rotten – eaten by worms,” he told her on July 12. […] “Just imagine, thrown on the front line with no equipment, nothing,” he told his mother. She did not respond to Reuters’s requests for comment by phone and on social media. […]

 Alexei, a soldier, told his mother in a July 12 call that recently mobilised troops were being sent to the frontline to fight. The SBU intercept said Alexei was located in Russian trenches around the occupied city of Rubizhne in Ukraine’s eastern region of Luhansk. […] Alexei derided his superiors and the army high command for concealing troop losses from Putin. “Everything is covered up,” he said. “Everyone’s scared… They’re sending mobilised troops to the front line,” he added. “In the end, the generals couldn’t care less.”

Russian officials have said there are no current plans for a new wave of mobilisation and it is focused on recruiting professional soldiers. Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, said in July that 185,000 new recruits had joined the army as professional contract soldiers since the start of the year.

A fourth soldier, also named Andrey, told his wife on July 5 about problems retrieving wounded and dead troops from the battlefield as well as heavy casualties sustained by a Russian company. The SBU intercept said the soldier was the deputy commander of a fighting vehicle. […] “The guys got fucked up yesterday. The whole ninth company was turned to rubbish – that’s 72 people. There’s 17 guys left.”

Consequences and what to do?

Hans Petter Middtun:: The Romanian denial of any Russian drones reaching its territory seems to fit into an established NATO pattern.

On December 16, 2022, Moscow launched a massive attack on Ukraine, firing 74 missiles. On April 27, the Polish Attorney General announced that debris from an unidentified military aerial object was found in a forest in the north of Poland. Two weeks later, Poland’s Defence Minister, Mariusz Błaszczak, confirmed that the object was a Russian missile that fell near Bydgoszcz – close to a NATO training centre – on December 16. On May 10, Poland’s Air Force Technical Institute stated that fragments were presumably from a Russian Kh-55 missile.

The incident happened a month after a Ukrainian S-300 missile landed in Poland after trying to counter a Russian missile attack. On 15 November 2022, Russia launched a massive missile attack on the military and civilian infrastructure of Ukraine. Residential buildings of citizens and objects of critical infrastructure in Kyiv, Zhytomyr, Vinnytsya, Poltava, Lviv, Khmelnytskyi and other regions were affected. More than 90 missiles and more than 10 UAVs were launched, some against targets close to the Polish border.

The explosion was first reported in the Polish media, describing a blast close to the Polish village of Przewodow, about 6km (4 miles) from the Ukrainian border. Two people were killed.

At the time, Warsaw was allegedly considering triggering NATO Article 4. Under Article 4 of NATO’s founding treaty, members can bring any issue of concern, especially related to the security of a member country, to the table for discussion within the North Atlantic Council. Since the Alliance’s creation in 1949, the article has been invoked only seven times.

The missile strike – initially feared to be a Russian missile – revealed further division within NATO.

Baltic states were quick to call on the collective defence of NATO. The President of Lithuania Gitanas Nauseda declared that: “Every inch of NATO territory must be defended! And others said the incident made the case for even greater military support for Ukraine. Latvia’s defence minister, Artis Pabriks, suggested NATO could provide more air defences for Poland and part of the territory of Ukraine. Kaja Kallas, Estonia’s prime minister, said the West should give Ukraine more military, humanitarian and financial support.

In contrast, the initial response from the United States and other Western countries was to call for calm and wait for the facts to emerge. There was a clear desire to avoid any escalation that could involve a collective NATO military response.”

The Romanian incident on 3 September – where Ukraine documented that Russian Shahed drones fell in the territory of Romania and presented a photo showing the crash – might further illustrate the sensitivity of the issue. NATO and most of its member states are doing their uttermost to avoid escalating the war into a broader confrontation between Russia and NATO.

The only problem is that it already is a broader confrontation between Russia and the West. As repeatedly stressed, the military confrontation on and above Ukrainian territory is only a part of a broader strategy.

Everything Russia has written, stated, or done since 2007 has been about NATO. The Alliance has long been presented as a threat to Russia. It has falsely claimed that NATO is expanding eastwards while in reality, Eastern Europe has collectively sought protection in the Alliance in fear of Russian westward expansion (as demonstrated in Ukraine since 2014). Ukraine’s westward trajectory – starting with the EU association agreement – triggered the war in 2014. Its continued alignment with NATO (as a consequence of Russia’s war) triggered the full-scale invasion on 24 February last year.

In his article ”On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians“, President Putin claimed that “Western countries directly interfered in Ukraine’s internal affairs and supported the coup [in 2014]. [Ukraine is] under the protection and control of the Western powers. […] The Western authors of the anti-Russia project set up the Ukrainian political system in such a way that presidents, members of parliament and ministers would change but the attitude of separation from and enmity with Russia would remain.”

Russia has long defined NATO as a party to the war. It has declared that the West is waging an information war, economic war, acts of aggression, war with Russia through a proxy and a total war. It sees Western defence support for Ukraine as proof of its active participation. The sanctions are seen as acts of aggression.

More telling, in December 2021 it handed over a set of ultimatums to the USA and the Alliance after having waged a Hybrid War against the West for years.

Ukraine is a crucial object in a broader anti-Western strategy: Ukraine is needed to transform Russia into a Great Power; while Great Power status is needed to dominate Europe and compete with the US and China on equal terms.

NATO has, however, still failed to acknowledge that the military confrontation in Ukraine – Russia’s attempt to defeat Ukraine at any cost – is part of a broader confrontation.

The response by its member states to Russian missiles and drones crashing on NATO territory must be seen in this context: The fear of escalation of an ongoing broader confrontation. The fear of responding resolutely to a war in Europe with global repercussions. A war – or rather the ripple effects from the war – that continue to undermine NATO and the EU from within.

These are but a sample of many incidents that cause deep concerns in the West.

On 29 September 2022, a Russian fighter jet came dangerously close to shooting down an unarmed British surveillance plane over the Black Sea. A leaked document listed several other Russian reactions to surveillance flights by US, British and French aircraft between October and the end of February, including one on 30 December in which another British Rivet Joint, accompanied by two British Typhoon fighter jets, was intercepted by Russian combat aircraft that came within 100 feet.

In March, two Russian Su-27s forced down a US Air Force drone over the Black Sea on Tuesday after damaging the propeller of the MQ-9 Reaper drone.

In May, a Russian Su-35 performed repeated aggressive and dangerous manoeuvres close to a Polish L410 Turbolet aircraft on a scheduled patrol mission under the auspices of Frontex in international airspace over the Black Sea. NATO combat aircraft were put on alert.

In my humble opinion, none of the incidents listed above are “accidents”. They are all the result of calculated risks taken by a country in open confrontation with the West. They are a logical consequence of its foreign policy, military strategies and doctrines, diplomatic statements, hybrid war and war of aggression against the West.

Continuing to step back will not solve the broader confrontation.

The war in Ukraine will continue until NATO – or more likely, a coalition of the willing – steps forward and start acting responsibly.

Hans Petter Midttun is educated at the Royal Norwegian Naval Academy, the Norwegian National Defence Command and Staff College and the Norwegian Defense College, as well as education from the Federal Defence Forces of Germany. He has broad international experience from both operations and postings abroad (NATO, Germany, Spain, Belgium, and Ukraine). The service includes seven years in command of frigates and six NATO deployments. Midttun put into operation, tested and verified the operational capabilities of one of the newest frigates in the Norwegian Navy. He served at the Norwegian Joint Headquarters and Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) before being posted to Ukraine as the Norwegian Defence Attache (2014-2018). Based on previous experiences, Midttun is presently publishing articles and analytic works on the security situation in and around Ukraine as a private person.
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