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Russo-Ukrainian war, day 564. Russia continues demanding banks are reconnected to SWIFT before rejoining grain deal

Russia not fully blocking Black Sea but uses tricks to control shipping lanes and create appearance of control. Ukraine needs more reserves to break through Russian lines according to Estonian intelligence.

Morning report day 564 – September 10

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 10.09.2023, supplemented by its [18:00 assessment].

“The Russian occupiers continue to violate the International Humanitarian Law, as they target and shell the positions of Ukrainian troops and civilian infrastructure alike, terrorizing civilians. Unfortunately, these acts of terrorism have killed and wounded civilians, destroyed residential buildings, and damaged civilian infrastructure.

The Ukrainian Defence Forces continue to conduct defensive operations in the east and the offensive operations in the south of Ukraine. As they destroy the enemy, they liberate the temporarily occupied territories and consolidate new positions.

On September 9, there were more than 30 combat engagements. The enemy launched 2 missiles, 40 airstrikes and more than 38 MLRS as attacks at the positions of Ukrainian troops and civilian targets in various settlements.

Last night, the occupiers attacked Ukraine with 32 Shahed-136/131 type kamikaze drones, 25 of which were intercepted by Ukrainian air defence. The Russian occupiers sent most of the combat UAVs to Kyiv oblast.

The enemy launched airstrikes at the settlements of Budarky, Ambarne, Syn’kivka, Kyslivka, Cherneshchyna (Kharkiv oblast), Novoselivs’ke, Bilohorivka (Luhansk oblast), Sivers’k, Andriivka, Krasnohorivka, Staromaiors’ke, Spirne, Vesele, Prechystivka, Zolota Nyva (Donetsk oblast), Robotyne, Kam’yanka (Zaporizhzhia oblast), and Arkhanhel’s’ke (Kherson oblast).

More than 45 settlements in Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson oblasts came under enemy artillery fire.

  • Volyn and Polissya axes: no significant changes.
  • Sivershchyna and Slobozhanshchyna axes: the adversary continues to maintain a group of troops safeguarding the state border. The enemy troops conduct active subversive activities in the border areas in order to prevent the deployment of our troops to threatened axes.
  • Khortytsia operational-strategic group, Kupiansk, Lyman, and Bakhmut axes: the occupants made unsuccessful attempts to break through the defence of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the vicinities of Berestove, Orikhovo-Vasylivka, and Bohdanivka. Fierce fighting continues in the vicinity of Klishchiivka.
  • Tavria operational-strategic group, Avdiivka, Marinka, and Shakhtarske axes: the Defence Forces continue to hold the initiative: they are holding back the enemy, conducting assault operations, and winning back Ukrainian land one meter at a time. In particular, Ukrainian soldiers repelled about 15 enemy attacks in the vicinity of Marinka.
  • Melitopol axis: the Ukrainian Defence Forces continue their offensive operation, inflicting significant losses in manpower and equipment on the occupation forces, forcing the enemy to withdraw from their positions.
  • Kherson axis: the Ukrainian Defence Forces continue to conduct counter-battery fire, destroy enemy depots, and successfully strike behind the enemy lines.

On September 10, 2023, the occupation authorities planned to hold illegal “elections of heads and deputies of local councils” in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. It is noteworthy that the vast majority of candidates do not even have a university degree and work as janitors, security guards, or cleaners. The occupiers simply use their identities to hide the real “leaders” of the occupied territories.

These pseudo-elections and their results will not be recognized by the entire civilized world, and the very fact they are being held and the locals taking part will be used by the occupation authorities to account for the numbers of men to be mobilized and further conscripted into the ranks of the aggressor country’s invading army.

The command of the Ukrainian Defence Forces calls for ignoring any participation in these pseudo-democratic events and avoiding conscription into the occupation army.

On September 9, the Ukrainian Air Force launched 8 airstrikes on the concentrations of troops, weapons, and military equipment of the adversary. In addition, air defence intercepted three reconnaissance UAVs.

Missile troops destroyed 6 artillery systems, 1 anti-aircraft missile system, 1 concentration of troops, and 1 fuel and lubrication depot of the adversary.“

Russian forces launch attack drones from the north, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the Ukrainian Air Force. “An air-raid warning has been issued in Chernihiv and Sumy oblasts due to a threat of loitering munitions. The Ukrainian Air Force reported at 23:08 that the Russians might use kamikaze UAVs in Sumy Oblast. A report emerged at 23:17 that attack drones were also heading towards Chernihiv Oblast.

Later, the Air Force issued an air-raid warning to Nizhyn and Pryluky of Chernihiv Oblast. Immediately after midnight, a message appeared, saying “a group of attack UAVs is approaching Kyiv Oblast, and an air-raid warning was issued in the oblast.”

Nighttime attack on Kyiv: Air defences destroy more than 20 UAVs, Ukrinform reports, citing the Kyiv Regional Military Administration. ”Ukraine’s air defence forces destroyed more than 20 aerial targets during a nighttime attack on Kyiv. Serhiy Popko, the head of the city administration, said that enemy drones attacked the capital in groups and from various directions. According to preliminary information, the enemy used Shahed UAVs.

The air defence forces managed to destroy more than two dozen enemy UAVs (the exact number and type will be made public by the Air Force). Debris fell in several districts of the capital. In Shevchenkivskyi [district], they damaged an apartment in a high-rise building. But most of the debris fell on open, unbuilt area, he said. Cars, trolleybus power lines, and road surfaces were damaged, Popko noted. At the moment, we know of one victim (without a threat to life), the report says.”

Over 320 invaders neutralized in Tavria sector in past 24 hours, Ukrinform reports, citing General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, the commander of the Tavria operational and strategic grouping of troops. “The work of the defence forces in the Tavria sector continues. In general, in the past 24 hours, the enemy attacked our positions 17 times and carried out 744 shelling attacks, four missile strikes and 18 airstrikes, Tarnavskyi said.

According to him, Ukrainian artillery units performed 1,468 fire missions in the Tavria sector in the last 24 hours. Over the last day, the enemy lost 321 troops (81 killed, 233 wounded, 7 taken prisoner). Ukrainian forces destroyed 40 pieces of enemy military equipment, including a tank, an IFV, nine artillery systems and mortars, an air defense system, a Zoopark radar, an ATGM system, 17 UAVs, six vehicles and three pieces of special equipment. Eight ammunition depots and two enemy command posts were also destroyed.”

Russian authority says drones attack Crimea, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Sergey Aksyonov, the so-called head of the Russian-occupied Crimea, has said that a Russian air defence system downed three Ukrainian drones in the peninsula’s western and northwestern parts on Saturday evening, 9 September.

Aksyonov reported at 19:24 that the Russian air defence system downed a Ukrainian UAV in the northwestern district of Crimea and asked the locals to keep calm. Aksyonov added at 20:38 that the air defence system downed two more drones in the western part of the Russian-occupied peninsula.”

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

  • In Russia’s Pskov Oblast, close to the Estonian border, the governor has organised volunteer security patrols to interdict further uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) attacks against Kresty air base. Reportedly up to 800 citizens have signed up to join the patrols. This initiative follows the reported damage of two IL-76 CANDID transport aircraft on 29 August 2023.
  • Due to the limited range of quadcopter UAVs, the attacks were on the base almost certainly launched from within the Russian Federation. The patrols will consist of groups of 50 divided among multiple municipalities which will patrol border areas and critical infrastructure, particularly airports and airbases.
  • The creation of these volunteer security patrols will likely act as a deterrence and provide a level of defence against quadcopter UAVs being operated from the immediate vicinity of the air base. Historically it has proven difficult to destroy UAVs using small-arms fire, so Russian forces will still require air-defence systems, with a surveillance capability and both kinetic and electronic means of interception, to destroy attacking UAVs. The use of volunteers highly likely indicates a shortage of trained security personnel within Russia.
  • Elements of the Ukrainian Armed Forces have advanced into the multi-layered main Russian defensive line east of the town of Robotyne. Ukrainian dismounted infantry forces are continuing to make gradual tactical advances against Russian positions and attrite Russian forces in the area.
  • Ukrainian forces have also maintained pressure on Russian positions to the south of Bakhmut, making gradual gains between Klishchiivka and Adriivka.
  • It is highly likely that Russia has redeployed forces from other areas of the frontline to replace degraded units around Robotyne. These redeployments are likely limiting Russia’s ability to carry out offensive operations of its own along other areas of the front line. The redeployments are also highly likely an indication of pressure on their defensive lines, particularly around Robotyne.

As of Sunday 10 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 268630 (+490)
  • Tanks – 4554 (+10)
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 8755 (+16)
  • Artillery systems – 5811 (+22)
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 760 (+3)
  • Air defence means – 509 (+1)
  • Aircraft – 315 (+0)
  • Helicopters – 316 (+0)
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 8338 (+40)
  • Vessels/boats – 19 (+0)
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 4593 (+5)
  • Special equipment – 872 (+2)
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0)
  • Cruise missiles – 1455 (+0)

Ukraine’s Defence Intelligence reveals number of Russian troops in Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Interfax-Ukraine quoting Vadym Skibitskyi, Deputy Chief of the DIU. “Defence Intelligence of Ukraine (DIU) has reported that Russia amassed over 420,000 troops in the temporarily occupied Ukrainian territories, including Crimea. […]

That’s apart from the Russian National Guard, other bodies, special units, and the Russian security forces that support the occupying power in our territories. Skibitskyi also said Russia has deployed 46 Iskander missile launchers along the border with Ukraine.”

Russia ramps up artillery production but still falling short, Western official says, Reuters reports. “Russia may be able to increase production of artillery in the next couple years to about 2 million shells annually, about double some previous Western expectations but still far short of Moscow’s Ukraine war needs, a Western official said on Friday. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, estimated Russia fired between 10 million and 11 million rounds last year in Ukraine. Moscow launched its invasion in February 2022.

That’s the predicament they’ve got, the official told a small group of reporters. If you expended 10 million rounds last year and you’re in the middle of a fight and you can only produce 1 to 2 million rounds a year, I don’t think that’s a very strong position.

Other Russia investments in its defence sector may also allow Moscow to produce close to 200 tanks a year, double some previous Western estimates, the official said. But that too, the official said, was a far cry from what it needs after suffering heavy losses in Ukrainern. When you’ve lost 2,000 tanks, you’ve got a decade before you get to where you started, the official said, adding Russia had also lost 4,000 armored fighting vehicles, over 100 aircraft and suffered 270,000 casualties in the conflict, including both forces killed and wounded. […]

In July, Shoigu visited North Korea. The White House has said Russia is currently looking to North Korea to help replenish its stocks of weapons, adding that arms negotiations between Moscow and Pyongyang are actively advancing. The Western official said those negotiations were likely aimed at securing artillery and demonstrated Moscow’s desperation in Ukraine.”

Humanitarian

London says Russian attacks have reduced Ukraine’s ability to export grain by third, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Bloomberg and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in a press release. “The UK government’s press release said Russian strikes have damaged or destroyed at least 26 civilian port infrastructure facilities, warehouses, silos and grain elevators since July, reducing Ukraine’s export capacity by about one third. London notes that such volumes of grain would be enough to meet the food needs of about 1 million people throughout the year. 

The Prime Minister’s office also confirmed that the UK is conducting surveillance and reconnaissance flights in the Black Sea to deter Russia from carrying out illegal strikes against civilian vessels transporting grain. […]

It was reported earlier that the UK is preparing a summit for countries suffering from high food prices due to the war unleashed by the Russian Federation.”

Russia sticks to demands on Black Sea grain deal, rejects UN bank proposal, Reuters reports. “Russia said on Saturday it was sticking to its conditions for a return to the Black Sea grain deal which it quit in July. In particular, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia needed its state agricultural bank – and not a subsidiary of the bank, as proposed by the United Nations – to be reconnected to the international SWIFT bank payments system. All our conditions are perfectly well known. They do not need interpretation, they are absolutely concrete and all this is absolutely achievable, Peskov said. […]

Moscow’s uncompromising restatement of its position came five days after President Vladimir Putin met his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan and discussed the grain issue. Russia appears to have drawn encouragement from Erdogan’s statement at that meeting that Ukraine should “soften its approaches” in talks over reviving the deal, and export more grain to Africa rather than Europe. Ukraine said it would not alter its stand and would not be hostage to Russian blackmail.

Russia says its grain and fertiliser exports, though not specifically sanctioned by the West, face barriers in practice because of sanctions affecting port access, insurance, logistics and payments – including the removal of agricultural bank Rosselkhozbank from SWIFT. The UN has proposed that a Luxembourg-based subsidiary of Rosselkhozbank could immediately apply to SWIFT to”effectively enable acces” for the bank within 30 days. The agreements say that SWIFT should be open to Rosselkhozbank, and not to its subsidiary. That is, we are talking about the need to return to the basics, to the agreements that were in place originally and which we were promised would be fulfilled, Peskov said.

The president clearly said that the moment they are fulfilled, then the deal will immediately resume. But not vice versa, he added.”

New Ukraine’s Defence Minister plans to bring in new position of military ombudsman, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Interfax-Ukraine. “Rustem Umierov, the newly appointed Defence Minister of Ukraine, has announced the potential introduction of a new position, a military ombudsman.

We will focus on human lives; we will focus on our people. And that is why we are likely to introduce a new position called the military ombudsman, who will deal with the military needs of the people and our soldiers [in particular]. Umierov stressed that it is a soldier’s right to be fully equipped and have everything necessary for the fight so as to gain victory. The minister vowed that everything necessary would be procured and Ukraine would prevail.”

Support

US likely to send long-range ATACMS missiles to Ukraine for the first time, ABC News reports. “The Biden administration is likely to send Ukraine long-range Army Tactical Missile Systems, or ATACMS, to help in its fight to repel the Russian invasion of its territory, according to US officials. They are coming, said one official who had access to security assistance plans. The official noted that, as always, such plans are subject to change until officially announced. A second official said the missiles are on the table and likely to be included in an upcoming security assistance package, adding that a final decision has not been made. It could be months before Ukraine receives the missiles, according to the official.

With a range of up to 190 miles, depending on the version, deploying ATACMS could allow Ukraine to reach targets nearly four times further away than with the currently provided rockets for its US-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and M270 multiple-launch rocket systems. […]

The administration has until now rejected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s requests for the weapons, even after the United Kingdom and France have sent comparable Storm Shadow missiles, due to concerns both over escalation with Russia and of maintaining America’s own stockpiles.

In July of 2022, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the US was prepared to take risk, but implied that sending ATACMS could lead to direct conflict with Russia. […] One year later at the same event, Sullivan was less definitive. Whether or not we ultimately give ATACMS will be a decision for the president. He has spoken with President Zelenskyy about it. They continue to have that conversation, he said this July.

The Biden administration has taken an incremental approach with the types of weapons it has sent to Ukraine since the invasion, ramping up from handheld launchers, to sophisticated air-defense platforms, to armored vehicles, and reversing earlier decisions not to send Abrams tanks or to train Ukrainians on advanced F-16 fighters.”

Denmark handed Ukraine first 10 of donated Leopard 1 tanks, Censor.net reports, citing The Guardian. “The first 10 tanks have already been sent to Ukraine. And even more are on the way, the Danish Armed Forces said. It is noted that the Danish military in Germany is training Ukrainian soldiers to use these tanks. I have no doubt that this will help them win the defensive battle they are fighting now, said Army Chief Arpe Nielsen.”

Germany sends Ukraine two types of ammunition for Gepards, Ukrinform reports, citing the German Embassy in Ukraine. “Two types of ammunition are delivered to Ukraine for Gepard self-propelled guns: 150,000 APDS-T (Armor-Piercing-Discarding-Sabot-Tracer) sub-caliber ammunition, which contain heavy metal penetrating elements and are well suited for combating armored targets. Also 150,000 pieces of munitions of the classic HEI-T (High-Explosive-Incendiary – Tracer) type, which was designed to hit typical air targets, such as aircraft or guided missiles, the diplomatic mission informed.

Ukraine to receive Gepards from partners to protect energy facilities – Zelensky, Ukrinform reports. “Ukraine’s partners will provide more Gepard anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine to protect its energy infrastructure facilities. President Volodymyr Zelensky announced this in his latest video address to the nation.

And I’d like to thank our partners – we have another agreement. Ukraine will receive more Gepards to protect our energy grid, he said. Zelensky emphasized that Ukraine is mobilizing all its forces in order to increase the supply of various air defence systems and to ensure physical protection of energy infrastructure facilities from Russian strikes.”

Day of war costs Ukraine $100M – former defence minister, Ukrinform reports. “One day of war costs Ukraine US$100 million, says [former] Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov. That’s according to the minister’s exclusive interview with Ukrinform. […] The minister of defense clarified that supplies from volunteers from February 24, 2022 to the present day have amounted to 3% of everything that was involved in the war. […]

As Ukrinform reported earlier, since the outset of the full-scale invasion, Ukraine has received $100 billion in aid from international partners, namely in weapons and military equipment.”

Guarantees provision in Vilnius for Ukraine’s accession to NATO could change war course, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Olha Stefanishyna, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, as reported by European Pravda. “Ukraine did not get what it wanted at the Vilnius NATO summit, as Alliance leaders did not risk taking too much responsibility. Our main lesson from Vilnius is that the leaders [of NATO countries – ed.] are not ready to take responsibility for a more ambitious statement because they did not feel the support of society, Stefanishyna said. She added that the provision of guarantees in Vilnius for Ukraine’s accession to NATO could change the course of the war with Russia. […] We were outraged by this situation at first, but then we realised that we need the support of the societies and parliaments of these countries so that their leaders have enough will to make such a decision next time, Stefanishyna summed up.”

New developments

  1. UN does not fully understand what kind of war is going on in Ukraine – advisor, Ukrinform reports, citing the adviser to the head of the Ukrainian President’s Office, Mykhailo Podoliak. “The UN really does not fully understand what kind of war this is. They do not understand what such a position on the part of the UN can lead to (the lifting of Russia sanctions in exchange for the restoration of the grain agreement – ed.). A position that absolutely encourages Russia to continue the war, to maximize it, to scale it up, to expand attacks on civilian infrastructure, etc., he emphasized. Podoliak noted that the UN seeks to come to terms with Russia at the expense of Ukraine, which is deliberately violating the UN’s statutory documents and the principles of international law. We have to understand that the UN really tolerates Russia’s position and does it regularly, said the adviser to the head of the President’s Office. As Ukrinform reported earlier, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres offered Russian President Vladimir Putin to extend the “grain agreement” in exchange for connecting the subsidiary of the Russian agricultural bank, Rosselkhozbank, to the SWIFT international payment system.”
  2. G20 leaders have tools to restore maritime exports of Ukrainian grain – von der Leyen, Ukrinform reports, citing her speech published on the European Commission website. “G20 leaders have the tools and the responsibility to reopen the sea route for Ukrainian grain delivery to the most vulnerable nations, as only the resumption of transit of Ukrainian agricultural products through the Black Sea can stabilize global food prices. […] Climate change is a global threat. And a contributing factor to food insecurity. Food security is also a victim of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. We call on Russia to allow the grain form Ukraine to reach global markets via the Black Sea. We are doing our utmost to facilitate the grain to reach global markets via the land route. But for global prices to stabilise, grain also has to travel by sea, the president of the European Commission emphasized. No one should go hungry and the leaders of the G20 have the responsibility and the tools to enable the flow of grain to where it is needed, added Ursula von der Leyen.”
  3. G20 summit statement avoids condemning Russia for Ukraine war, calls for peace, Reuters reports. The Group of 20 nations adopted a consensus declaration on the opening day of a summit on Saturday that avoided condemnation of Russia for the war in Ukraine but called on all states to refrain from the use of force to seize territory. […] The consensus came as a surprise as the group is deeply divided over the war in Ukraine, with Western nations earlier pushing for strong condemnation of Russia in the Leaders’ Declaration, while other countries demanded a focus on broader economic issues. We call on all states to uphold the principles of international law including territorial integrity and sovereignty, international humanitarian law, and the multilateral system that safeguards peace and stability, the declaration said. […] The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible, the statement added. The declaration also called for the implementation of the Black Sea initiative for the safe flow of grain, food and fertiliser from Ukraine and Russia.”
  4. Ukraine disappointed with G20 declaration, Foreign Ministry suggests correct wording, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing European Pravda quoting Oleh Nikolenko, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry spokesman. “The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has commented on the final joint declaration of the G20 countries, expressing disappointment with its wording. […] The principle of ‘nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine’ remains pivotal like never before. […] The Foreign Ministry spokesman suggested certain changes for the main elements of the text for it to be closer to reality. He pointed out that in the declaration, it should be noted that Russia is waging war against Ukraine instead of the words about the “war in Ukraine,” and also stressed that it is the Russian Federation, and not “all countries,” that should refrain from using force for territorial gains. Nikolenko also pointed out the need for the summit participants to condemn Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and urge Russia to immediately stop it.”
  5. EU hopes for China’s positive role in achieving just peace in Ukraine, Ukrinform reports. “Frank exchange with PM Li Qiang. China has a key role to play in the common efforts to find solutions to global problems. Development, climate change, the global impact of Russia’s war on Ukraine. When it comes to the war, we hope China can play a positive role in achieving a just and lasting peace in Ukraine. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen reported this on her account on the social media platform (formerly Twitter), following her meeting with Chinese Prime Minister Li Qiang on the sidelines of the G20 summit in New Delhi.”
  6. Polish Ambassador: Best response to Russian nuclear blackmail “not to be intimidated”, Ukrinform reports, citing BBC. “The Ambassador of Poland to Ukraine, Bartosz Cichocki, believes that although the topic of Russia potentially starting a nuclear war should be taken seriously, one should not give in to Russian blackmail. The ambassador noted that Russian claims that Poland could be the target of a Russian nuclear strike are “terrible” and that the move to deploy tactical nuclear arms in Belarus is “very bad.” in the 21st century, we must seriously consider the topic of a nuclear war that Russia can start. However, if you give in to blackmail – it’s like in the case of a terrorist, a kidnapper – it will only encourage them to make further threats and attacks… It seems to me that the best response to such nuclear blackmail is not to be intimidated. Then, perhaps, this terrorist will understand that their threats against us do not work, said Cichocki.”
  7. MFA urges world to condemn Russia’s sham ‘elections’ in temporarily occupied areas, Ukrinform reports, citing the Ukrainian Foreign Affairs Ministry. “According to the ministry, Russia’s sham ‘elections’ to local occupation administrations within the temporarily occupied areas grossly violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, Ukrainian legislation and international law, namely the Charter of the United Nations. Russia’s pseudo-elections in the temporarily occupied areas are worthless. They will not have any legal consequences and will not lead to a change in the status of the Ukrainian territories seized by the Russian army, the statement reads. The ministry emphasized that, with fake elections in Ukrainian regions and Crimea, the Kremlin continues to delegitimize the Russian legislation system. Ukraine’s Foreign Affairs Ministry urged international partners to condemn Russia’s worthless and arbitrary actions, and not to recognize the legitimacy of any ‘administration’ that would be created as a result of sham ‘elections’, as well as any decisions made by them.”

Assessment

  1. On the War

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of Saturday 9 September:

Et bilde som inneholder tekst, kart, atlas

Automatisk generert beskrivelse(quote) “Russian forces continued offensive operations along the Kupiansk-Svatove-Kreminna line and reportedly advanced on September 9. Russian sources claimed that Russian forces advanced near Synkivka (9km northeast of Kupiansk), Petropavlivka (7km east of Kupiansk), and Novoyehorivka (16km southwest of Svatove) on September 8 and 9. Russian Western Grouping of Forces Spokesperson Sergey Zybinsky claimed on September 9 that Russian forces captured five Ukrainian positions south of Serhiivka (12km southwest of Svatove). The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian ground attacks near Synkivka (8km northeast of Kupiansk), Novoyehorivka, and Berestove (30km south of Kreminna), and southeast of Dibrova (7km southwest of Kreminna). Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Ilya Yevlash stated that Russian forces in the Kupiansk direction are completing the formation of combat-ready assault units constituted piecemeal from defeated units but noted that these new units are entirely composed of rear-area elements without combat experience.

Russian officials claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted limited unsuccessful attacks on the Kupiansk-Svatove-Kreminna line on September 9. Zybinsky claimed that Russian forces repelled three Ukrainian attacks in the direction of Kovalivka (12km southwest of Svatove). Russian Central Grouping of Forces Spokesperson Alexander Savchuk claimed that Russian forces repelled six Ukrainian attacks near Torske (14km west of Kreminna) and the Serebryanske forest area (11km south of Kreminna).

Ukrainian forces continued offensive operations around Bakhmut on September 9 and reportedly advanced. The Ukrainian General Staff and Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Ilya Yevlash stated that Ukrainian forces achieved unspecified success south of Klishchiivka (7km southwest of Bakhmut). A prominent Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces completely pushed Russian forces out of Andriivka (10km southwest of Bakhmut), although ISW has yet to observe visual confirmation that Ukrainian forces have liberated the settlement. The milblogger claimed that the Russian line of control in the area now passes along the railway line east of Andriivka and Klishchiivka. Other Russian sources acknowledged that Ukrainian forces control the majority of Klishchiivka, although one Russian milblogger asserted that Klishchiivka and Andriivka are contested “gray zones.”

Et bilde som inneholder tekst, kart, skjermbilde, Font

Automatisk generert beskrivelseRussian forces counterattacked in the Bakhmut area on September 9 but did not make any confirmed gains. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces unsuccessfully attempted to break through Ukrainian positions near Orikhovo-Vasylivka (11km northwest of Bakhmut) and regain lost positions near Klishchiivka, Andriivka, and Kurdyumivka (13km southwest of Bakhmut). A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces counterattacked near Andriivka, tried to recapture heights near Klishchiivka, and attempted to push Ukrainian forces back from positions near Orikhovo-Vasylivka but did not specify an outcome. Other Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces counterattacked from positions in the northeastern outskirts of Klishchiivka and made marginal unspecified gains near Orikhovo-Vasylivka.

Russian forces continued limited offensive operations along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line on September 9 but did not advance. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces unsuccessfully attempted to dislodge Ukrainian forces from positions near Avdiivka and Marinka (27km southwest of Avdiivka) 10 times. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces also conducted assaults near Krasnohorivka (22km southwest of Avdiivka) and Novokalynove (12km northwest of Avdiivka). A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces also attacked Ukrainian positions near Novomykhailivka (36km southwest of Avdiivka) and on the southern approaches to Avdiivka but did not specify an outcome.

Ukrainian forces conducted offensive operations in the western Donetsk-eastern Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area and advanced on September 9. Geolocated footage published on September 9 indicates that Ukrainian forces advanced northwest of Novomayorske (18km southeast of Velyka Novosilka). Some Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces advanced near Novodonetske (12km southeast of Velyka Novosilka) and northeast of Novomayorske. Other Russian sources claimed on September 8 and 9 that Ukrainian forces unsuccessfully attacked near Novomayorske and Novodonetske and that Russian forces repelled all Ukrainian attempts to cross the Shaytanka River immediately northeast of the settlements, however.

Et bilde som inneholder tekst, kart, skjermbilde, Font

Automatisk generert beskrivelseRussian forces conducted offensive operations in the western Donetsk-eastern Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area on September 9 and reportedly advanced. Russian sources claimed on September 8 and 9 that Russian forces attacked near Pryyutne (16km southwest of Velyka Novosilka) and advanced up to three kilometers to the Hrusheva Gully, although ISW has not observed visual evidence of this claim. A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces recaptured positions on the outskirts of Novodonetske and Novomayorske after Ukrainian forces gained a foothold in these positions on September 8. Russian sources claimed that elements of the Russian 37th Motorized Rifle Brigade (36th Combined Arms Army, Eastern Military District), 40th Naval Infantry Brigade (Pacific Fleet), 4th Infantry Brigade, 5th Brigade (1st Donetsk People’s Republic [DNR] Army Corps) and the DNR “Kaskad” Operational Tactical Combat Formation are operating on the Novodonestke-Novomayorske line and that elements of the Russian 127th Motorized Rifle Division (5th Combined Arms Army, Eastern Military District) are operating near Pryyutne.

Ukrainian forces conducted offensive operations in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast and advanced on September 9. Geolocated footage published on September 9 indicates that Ukrainian forces advanced northeast and east of Novoprokopivka (13km south of Orikhiv), west of Verbove (20km southeast of Orikhiv), and south of Robotyne (10km south of Orikhiv). The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces achieved unspecified success south of Robotyne. Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces unsuccessfully attacked south of Robotyne, east and northeast of Novoprokopivka, and near Verbove.

Russian forces conducted offensive operations in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast but did not advance on September 9. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces unsuccessfully attacked near Robotyne. The Ukrainian General Staff and the UK MoD stated that Russian forces have deployed units, including elements of relatively elite Airborne (VDV) formations, to western Zaporizhzhia Oblast to replace degraded units operating near Robotyne, and a Ukrainian source stated that two regiments of the Russian 76th Guards Air Assault (VDV) Division have arrived in the Tokmak area. The commitment of some of the Russian military’s most capable formations for limited counterattacks in this critical sector of the front will likely attrit these formations further.

A Russian milblogger claimed that small Ukrainian groups landed on areas in the Dnipro River on September 8. A Russian milblogger claimed that a 12-person Ukrainian force landed on the eastern part of Oleshkivskyi Island (southeast of Antonivka) and a 10-person Ukrainian force landed near the Antonivsky rail bridge to Prydniprovske on the night of September 8.

Ukrainian forces made confirmed advances in the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area and in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast and made claimed advances south of Bakhmut on September 9. Geolocated footage published on September 9 shows that Ukrainian forces advanced northwest of Novomayorske (18km southeast of Velyka Novosilka) along the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia Oblast border, where Russian sources claim fighting has intensified in recent days. Additional geolocated footage published on September 9 shows that Ukrainian forces also advanced northeast and east of Novoprokopivka (13km south of Orikhiv) and west of Verbove (20km southeast of Orikhiv) in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces achieved unspecified successes south of Robotyne (10km south of Orikhiv). A Kremlin-affiliated Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces forced Russian forces to withdraw from Andriivka (9km southwest of Bakhmut), and another prominent milblogger claimed that Andriivka is now a contested “gray zone.” Ukrainian officials reported that Ukrainian forces also achieved unspecified success south of Klishchiivka. […]

Russia’s war in Ukraine is increasingly constraining Russian local and regional politics, with even the minimal pre-war competition suppressed and regional governments increasingly focused on their ability to generate resources for the war. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)’s Tatar-Bashkir service Idel Realii posted an interview on September 8 with Russian political scientist Dmitry Loboyko regarding “the peculiarities of election campaigns during the war.” Loboyko stated that this election season is one of the most “uncompetitive” in Russian history and that it particularly lacks opposition alternatives, especially as people are increasingly voting with the mindset that the war in Ukraine may last a year, five years, or even ten years. Loboyko also noted that Russian federal subjects (regions) are competing for resources on the basis of how many military personnel each region was able to mobilize for the war, with the insinuation that the federal government allocates more resources to regions that mobilized more personnel, thereby increasing inter-regional competition. […]

The Kremlin continues to refuse to rejoin the Black Sea Grain Initiative in an attempt to extract maximum concessions from the West and may believe that apparent support or acceptance for its demands from some international actors offers it more leverage in renegotiating the deal. […] Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan similarly supported offering Russia extensive concessions during the G20 summit in New Delhi, where he reportedly called on G20 leaders to resume insurance for Russian grain and fertilizer cargos and to reconnect Russian banks to SWIFT. The Kremlin may believe that Erdogan’s and Guterres’ support for offering concessions places further pressure on the West to acquiesce to Russian demands for rejoining the grain deal, and Russian officials will likely continue to reject offers that meet many of these demands in the hope of extracting a maximalist set of concessions. The Kremlin may alternatively have no intention of returning to the grain deal, however, and may instead aim to increase the market share and attractiveness of Russian grain by degrading Ukrainian grain export potential through continued strikes on grain and port infrastructure.

The Telegraph reported on September 8 that the United Kingdom’s military aircraft are conducting patrols over the Black Sea to deter Russian forces from conducting attacks against civilian vessels carrying grain exports. NATO previously announced on July 26 that it would increase surveillance and reconnaissance in the Black Sea region, including with maritime patrol aircraft and drones, given Russian threats against civilian ships and attacks on Ukrainian ports. […]

Key Takeaways:

  • Ukrainian forces made confirmed advances in the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area and in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast and made claimed advances south of Bakhmut on September 9.
  • Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Spokesperson Vadym Skibitskyi reemphasized Ukraine’s right to target critical Russian strategic and military objects in rear areas.
  • Russia’s war in Ukraine is increasingly constraining Russian local and regional politics, with even the minimal pre-war competition suppressed and regional governments increasingly focused on their ability to generate resources for the war.
  • The Kremlin continues to refuse to rejoin the Black Sea Grain Initiative in an attempt to extract maximum concessions from the West and may believe that apparent support or acceptance for its demands from some international actors offers it more leverage in renegotiating the deal.
  • 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 and advanced in some areas on September 9.“ (unquote)

Ukraine’s Defence Intelligence Chief doesn’t foresee protracted war, yet there is catch, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing  Interfax-Ukraine news agency. “Kyrylo Budanov, Chief of Defence Intelligence of Ukraine (DIU), believes Russia’s war against Ukraine will not last for too long.

I don’t endorse the assumption that this will be a long war. This is my personal opinion, based on the analysis of the data we have, first of all, concerning the enemy. Budanov said the Russians are incapable of conducting protracted operations. However, it’s quite clear that you are right if you consider six months, seven months, a year, and you think this is a long time, the DIU chief said.”

We have to show Putin we are ready for long confrontation – Nuland, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Victoria Nuland, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, as reported by European Pravda. ”Ukraine’s allies should prepare for a long confrontation in the war against Russia, including by helping the Ukrainian economy to recover as soon as possible. The recent visit of US Secretary of State Blinken to Kyiv, and he visited not only Kyiv, showed… no matter how serious the success [of the Ukrainian military – ed.] is and their advancement in the next few days and weeks, everything will not end in coming weeks. We have a long road ahead in development, the reconstruction of Ukraine. We must be ready financially, psychologically, and mentally for this, Nuland said.

Nuland said that in addition to intensifying the weapon provision to Ukraine, this (i.e. a long confrontation) will mean intensifying efforts to rebuild the Ukrainian economy, and this should happen even before the war ends. We have to help Ukraine reset economic growth by ensuring the Ukrainian businesses start-up in relatively safe territories, Nuland stated. Nuland said it becomes an important factor of victory for Ukraine if we are talking about a long-term war.

If Putin wins, it will mean that evil will become something acceptable to the world. Therefore, we should help Ukraine, because it stands on the side of good and democracy, Nuland said, adding that what happens in Ukraine will have an aftermath for the whole world. Additionally, Nuland said US efforts should help Ukraine reduce its dependence on China.”

No civilians suffered in “unknown drones” attacks in Russia – Ukraine’s Defence Intelligence Chief, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Interfax-Ukraine. “Kyrylo Budanov, Chief of the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine, has said that no civilians were injured in the attacks by “unknown drones” in Russia, and that the attacks targeted Russian military industry facilities.

You have to consider, let’s say, which targets are being affected. These are, first of all, facilities of the military industry. For example, recently, some drones attacked the Kremnyi EL enterprise. This is a company that produces the main, let’s say, microcircuits, which are not purchased [anywhere else], and [they] are used in Iskander missiles. The choice of target for these unknown drones is quite understandable. And so it is everywhere. If you analyse what has been targeted in Moscow Oblast, Tula Oblast, etc., these are all military industry facilities.

He stressed that this is the difference that distinguishes us from the Russians: no civilians have been injured. There are explosions. There are very large, let’s say, sabotage actions and events. But people do not suffer, Budanov said. He stressed that the explosions in the aggressor country sober up the society a bit, but there is still no mass effect for Ukraine. However, the oblasts where military facilities are located are affected, indeed.

At the same time, the first signs of small shifts towards panic have begun. For example, Russian insurance companies have started insuring civilians against drone attacks. Since no civilians have been injured, this is a sign of panic, he explained.

Budanov also noted that the attacks have resulted in constant disruptions to civilian aviation in Russia. He said that some airlines have already officially withdrawn from Moscow airports and stopped flying there. This is a matter of time. I think that significant problems will be created in this way. And this will have a direct impact on people, who, in turn, will start to talk about their dissatisfaction at least a little bit, let’s say, at least in the kitchen. This will be a step forward, Budanov added.”

The Russians are getting better: What Moscow has learned in Ukraine, ISW reports, citing CSET’s Magarita Konaev and Owen Daniels. “Russian forces have reportedly made notable changes to their command and control (C2) in Ukraine to protect command infrastructure and improve information sharing, although Russian force deployments are likely still exacerbating issues with horizontal integration. Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET) Deputy Director of Analysis Magarita Konaev and CSET Fellow Owen Daniels stated on September 6 that Russian forces moved headquarters out of range of most Ukrainian strike systems and have placed forward command posts further underground and behind heavily defended positions. It is unclear if Russian forces have employed this more protected command infrastructure throughout Ukraine and to what degree these defensive efforts have impeded Ukraine’s ongoing interdiction campaign.

Konaev and Daniels stated that Russian forces have improved communications between command posts and units at the front by laying field cables and using safer radio communications. The Royal United Services Insitute (RUSI) stated on September 4 that Russian forces are also trying to improve signals through the wider use of application based C2 services that require less training. Konaev and Daniels noted that signals at the battalion level downward are still often unencrypted and that Russian personnel still frequently communicate sensitive information through unsecure channels.

Konaev and Daniels concluded that Russian forces still face challenges creating a horizontally integrated command structure to share information across different units in real time, a challenge the Russian military previously identified which has been exacerbated by Russia’s current force structure in Ukraine. The Russian force grouping in Ukraine is comprised of both regular and irregular units, often deployed together and separate from their respective parent formations, further complicating efforts to horizontally integrate units. Russian forces in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast, for example, are notably comprised of elements of the 58th Combined Arms Army (Southern Military District), Russian Airborne Forces (VDV), Spetsnaz, naval infantry, irregular volunteer battalions, and brigades entirely made up of mobilized personnel. Russian command is likely struggling to share information and create a common command space across these widely disparate forces defending against Ukrainian counteroffensive operations.

Artillery constraints in Ukraine are reportedly prompting the Russian military to accelerate longstanding efforts to implement a fires doctrine prioritizing accuracy over volume. Konaev and Daniels stated that Russian forces have tightened the link between reconnaissance systems and artillery units to improve fire accuracy, as Russian forces face growing constraints on their ability to leverage mass indirect fire. RUSI noted on September 4 that Russian commanders are doubling down on the need to prioritize the development of a reconnaissance fires complex (RFC) due to assessing that existing Russian fires doctrine, which heavily relies on a high volume of fires and pre-established calculations of the density of fires needed to achieve certain effects, without a reliable system of rapid battle damage assessment, is non-viable. 

Russian forces have long sought to implement the concept of RFC prior to the 2022 invasion of Ukraine, which dictates that Russian forces employ high-precision, long-range weapons linked to real-time intelligence data and precise targeting provided by an intelligence and fire-direction center. RUSI added that Russian forces are prioritizing strike accuracy over volume because they lack the ammunition to sustain mass indirect fires, have difficulties transporting a large volume of ammunition to the frontline, and see diminishing effectiveness with mass strikes. Russia is also reportedly increasing the production of Krasnopol laser-guided shells and Lancet drones (loitering munitions) to increase fires accuracy. Russian units at the front are rapidly learning and innovating, but their ability to fully implement the desired RFC will likely be constrained by their ability to issue improved communications systems — and provide necessary training — to forces in combat.

Russian forces are additionally reportedly adapting their deployment of electronic warfare (EW) complexes. Konaev and Daniels stated that Russian forces have dispersed their deployment of EW complexes since spring 2022 from a concentration of roughly 10 EW complexes for every 20 kilometres of the frontline to 1 major EW system every 10 kilometres, with additional supporting EW assets deployed as needed. The dispersal of these EW assets suggests that Russian forces have improved the coverage that a single EW complex provides, although Konaev and Daniels noted that the systems still have issues with limited coverage and EW fratricide. RUSI stated that Russian forces are dispersing Pole-21 systems and treating them as disposable EW systems in order to provide wide-area protection from Ukrainian drone strikes. Russian sources particularly credited superior Russian EW capabilities for aiding Russian forces’ successful defense against the start of the Ukrainian counteroffensive in southern Ukraine in June. Konaev and Daniels added that these EW systems continue to present challenges for Ukrainian drones transmitting targeting information and securing Ukrainian signals.”

Landmines everywhere and lack of aircraft, artillery and experienced commanders are slowing down Ukrainian army’s advance, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “ Ukrainska Pravda investigated the actual pace of the Ukrainian offensive, what is preventing it from accelerating and what problems the large-scale operation in Ukraine’s south and east has revealed. To prepare this article, Ukrainska Pravda spoke to several dozen military servicemen, experts and volunteers. Some of them agreed to be recorded, while others expressed their opinions off the record. […]

Perhaps the only thing on which both Western analysts and Ukrainian military agree is that the main difficulty of this wave of offensive for the Defence Forces is overcoming minefields. As experts pointed out in a conversation with Ukrainska Pravda, sometimes mines are laid at a distance of 50-60 centimetres from each other. The enemy has a huge number of mines. There are places where there are a dozen mines of various types per square metre. And in the current green [summer – ed.] conditions, they are not visible,” Robert Brovdi, who goes by the alias Madiar and is a company commander of an attack UAV unit, told Ukrainska Pravda.Frontline.

One module of the Russian universal minelayer (UMZ, remote mine-laying vehicle) can carry from 30 to 120 anti-tank mines or up to 2,100 Lepestok-type land mines. There can be six such modules in a UMZ. Therefore, the minefield laid by one vehicle can be up to 30 metres wide and 5 kilometres long. Ukrainian soldiers faced this problem most acutely on the main offensive front, which is the Tavriia front, that is, in Zaporizhzhia Oblast and part of Donetsk Oblast. There, the Russians had a year and a half to prepare for a Ukrainian offensive.

Even experienced soldiers are now saying that there are an unrealistic number of mines in front of us, and moving through a mined area is a very slow process. A group is sent out, and everything starts working on it – from machine guns to mortars, artillery, kamikaze drones… […] However, given our success near Robotyne, I believe that soon we will be able to accelerate the pace of the offensive a little bit. We have managed to break through the main minefields and defensive lines on this front,” Ihor Hanenko, commander of the 47th Magura Brigade’s mechanised unit, told Ukrainska Pravda. 

What is important is that the Russians are not just densely laying mines everywhere, they are also doing it quite competently. The mines are laid out in such a way that after a small advance, Ukrainian forces will remain in the most exposed area and will be accessible to strikes by anti-tank weapons or artillery. […]

Ukraine desperately needs lots of mine clearance equipment. Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine’s former Defence Minister, has stressed this in an interview with The Guardian. […] At the same time, as Western media reported, on the eve of the offensive, Ukraine had received less than 15% of all the mine clearance and engineering equipment it had requested from its Western partners. […] Mine clearance is a rather sensitive topic. The Russians know that Ukraine is short of the necessary gear, so they specifically prey on any vehicles appearing on the battlefield. As a result, the Ukrainian military often has to carry out mine clearance manually. For this reason, Ukraine needs more foreign-trained sappers. […]

The second particularly acute and obvious challenge to the Ukrainian offensive is the extremely small arsenal of aircraft and air defence assets. In July and August, the Western media spread the artificially inflated idea that we are fighting following a Soviet doctrine rather than a Western one. We are fighting as we see fit and as is technically possible. No US doctrine could cope with our war, at least because we do not have aircraft, Andrii Zahorodniuk, Chairman of the Board of the Defence Strategy Centre, former Ukraine’s Defence Minister (2019-2020), said in an interview with UP.

As Western experts and experienced Ukrainian military officers told UP, given the resources available to Ukraine, no NATO country would dare to conduct such large-scale offensive operations as the Ukrainian Defence Forces are undertaking. Especially in a climate where extensive Russian air defence forces are hindering Ukrainian aircraft, which currently cannot boast any significant strength. The Ukrainian Defence Forces have extremely limited potential to break down Russian fortifications from the air and provide substantial air support to the ground forces without parity in the skies. On the other hand, the Russians do enjoy this advantage, and they are exercising it to the fullest by launching strikes against the Ukrainians.

The issue of supplying Ukraine with F-16s has finally been unblocked, which is undoubtedly fortunate. However, we should bear in mind that firstly, Western aircraft, under the most optimistic forecasts, may only appear in Ukrainian skies in spring. Secondly, fighter jets alone are not a Wunderwaffe since what matters is the arsenal of weapons that will be supplied along with the aircraft.

Artillery and ammunition also remain an urgent need for Ukraine. The scope of the deficit is certainly nothing compared to last summer when Ukraine was retreating from Luhansk Oblast as it could not respond to Russian fire, but the need is nevertheless there. Ukrainian artillerymen have more precise systems and ammunition than the Russians, but their numbers are far less.

The Russians still do not have a significant shortage of ammunition. True, compared to the previous phases of the war, the ammunition stocks have shrunk somewhat since we are blowing up their ammunition storage points and disrupting their logistics. But it’s still not a shortage. They are aware of their advantage and build their tactics around artillery, says Petro Kuzyk, commander of the Svoboda battalion, comparing the intensity of last year’s Russian artillery activity in the city of Sievierodonetsk with the current one in the area of the city of Bakhmut.

Besides the lack of warplanes and artillery, Ukrainian forces in Kherson Oblast face another obstacle – the shortage of a river fleetAndrii Diachenko, Chief of Staff of the Lubart Special Forces unit, tells UP. Instead of armed boats suitably adapted to the war’s challenges, the units use inflatable vessels, which they manage to get through volunteers. […]

Ukraine was initially ahead of the curve in terms of using First-Person View (FPV) drones compared to the Russians. However, Russia quickly retooled and significantly expanded its production, which caused Ukrainian volunteers to sound the alarm. It’s enough to imagine a situation where soldiers of two armies are entrenched in two foxholes near each other. You may send people to attack the hostile forces, and machine guns will target them as they run across the field. Or you might want to launch an FPV drone for mopping up [the adversary forces] before the attack and save a good part of your soldiers for the sake of US$400, Mariia Berlinska, Head of the Aerial Reconnaissance Support Centre, told UP.

Berlinska estimates that the Russians have reached a monthly production of 45-50,000 FPV drones, while Ukraine’s pace is still inferior. Apart from the drones themselves, munitions for them should also be considered. The side with more attack drones of different types and classes will be victorious. No matter how much equipment we have on the ground or how much our Western partners give us. Tanks that take months to manufacture and cost millions of dollars are burned in seconds by a drone that costs a few hundred bucks, Berlinska emphasises.

Aerial reconnaissance troops whom UP interviewed say they face a shortage of not only kamikaze drones but also other UAVs. The government could have solved the supply problem earlier, but it “slept through” the issue, waking up only in recent months. We are still flying Mavic-3s, which we are looking for all over the world and for which we are chipping in with our own money. We have been asking for a year now to have a UAV crew in each company, but we don’t have them. And this is while all actions are being carried out under the cover of UAVs. […] The Ukrainian soldiers have also pointed out that the Russians have highly efficient electronic warfare systems that effectively suppress the activities of Ukrainian drones. Furthermore, Russian electronic warfare forces significantly obstruct the interaction between Ukrainian units on the contact line, affecting the means of communication between brigades on the battlefield.

In the wake of the counteroffensive which has unfolded in 2023, Ukraine has been assembling at least two dozen newly formed brigades of the National Guard and the Armed Forces. Nine units of the Offensive Guard, mechanised and artillery brigades, marines, assault forces, – everything was on the list. Despite the Offensive Guard receiving most of the media attention, the military command had their hopes pinned on the newly formed brigades of the Armed Forces. 

The brigades of the Ukrainian Armed Forces had the opportunity to undergo military recruit training and specialised preparation abroad in order to later sit behind the wheel of the newly arrived German Leopards, British Challengers, American Paladin self-propelled guns, Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and Maxxpro armoured fighting vehicles. 

Many in the ranks of the “old” brigades are of the opinion that perhaps instead of assembling new brigades, it might be better to create new battalions within existing ones. After all, these have established their rear, logistics, and connections with volunteers, as well as, quite importantly, mid-level officers that have undergone their baptism of fire in combat. This means there is a chance for competent management. […]

Entering the fourth month of the offensive, Ukrainska Pravda recorded drastically opposing views on the performance of the newly formed brigades at the front – both from the servicemen of these brigades and the units working alongside them. Those recruits of the 43rd and 32nd mechanised brigades who underwent their military recruit training in Germany and now are on the defensive along the Kupiansk – Lyman line told us of their struggle with applying the knowledge gained abroad – it simply does not coincide with the realities on the ground. […] Another problem in the training of recruits is associated with a lack of time for coordination directly in Ukraine. Usually, the military leadership explains this as a security factor, as the location of any training ground is known to the Russians, and in order to avoid additional losses, coordination takes place in the same “express format” or is carried out as a pure formality. […]  

Another problem faced by the newly formed brigades and from which they themselves suffer is the lack of well-trained mid-level commanders. Firstly, they are quite literally lacking in numbers – like ordinary soldiers, they are killed and injured.  Secondly, these positions are often taken by newbies – graduates of university military faculties without combat experience. […] Every underprepared fighter on the ground, or worse, an unskilled commander, is a risk not only for their own unit, but for everyone who works alongside them. […]

Many military experts are saying that the Ukrainian Defence Forces still have at least two months to achieve significant results in the liberation of the occupied territories in this phase of the war. One of the factors is the weather, which can considerably affect the actions of both sides. With the onset of autumn rains and impassable unpaved roads, any combat missions become much more difficult because of the inability to use armoured vehicles.

As for the pace of the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ offensive, no premature conclusions should be drawn, but the full range of difficulties faced by the Ukrainian military needs to be taken into account. Like Andrii Zahorodniuk, Chairman of the Board of the Centre for Defence Strategies and former Minister of Defence, has said, no one can estimate the pace of the offensive because there is nothing to compare it to. If someone has drawn a schedule for the offensive, it is purely theoretical. As all generals know, no war goes according to plan. The offensive is not fast or slow – it goes as it can go. The leadership of the Armed Forces is not wasting time, it is the only thing they live for, Zahorodniuk sums up.”

Ukraine’s army needs additional reserves to break through all Russian defence lines – Estonian intelligence, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the Estonian public broadcasting ERR. “Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service has stated that Ukraine’s counteroffensive’s most important events are taking place in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, just like before. Estonian intelligence said the further success of Ukraine’s Armed Forces depends on how quickly they can deploy additional reserves and forces.

ERR added that, at the same time, Russian forces are trying to conduct counterattacks and thereby make the Ukrainians withdraw from Zaporizhzhia toward Lyman and Kreminna, but Russia has not succeeded in this plan.

As Estonian intelligence noted, Ukraine’s Armed Forces are controlling the settlements south of Bakhmut, which, most likely, gives them a significant tactical advantage, puts pressure on Russian troops, creates the need to transfer Russian additional reserves there and thereby supports the actions of Ukrainian forces on the Zaporizhzhia front and during counteroffensive actions.”

Russia pulls almost all its aircraft out of Belarus in August, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Belaruski Hajun, an independent Belarusian military monitoring media outlet. “Russia withdrew all of its aircraft from Belarus in August, except for one Su-25 attack aircraft. The monitoring group reports that the entire Russian Aerospace Forces aircraft group was withdrawn on 5 August.

11 helicopters (four Mi-8s and seven Mi-24s) of the Russian Aerospace Forces left Machulishchy [airbase in Belarus] for Seshcha airfield (Russia’s Bryansk Oblast). Nine Su-34 and Su-30SM Russian Aerospace Forces fighter jets flew from the Baranavičy airfield [Belarus] to the Russian Federation. Most of the helicopters and planes that left had been in Belarus since early January 2023. Thus, the aircraft element of the Regional Military Grouping (RMG) in Belarus has ceased to exist. As of 1 September, only one Su-25 attack aircraft was left in Belarus, which landed at Machulishchy on 25 July and moved to Lida airfield on 31 August.

Meanwhile, as Hajun reports, about 2,100 Russian Armed Forces troops remain in the country. We may state that a significant reduction in the number of Russian troops stationed in Belarus occurred in July and August. The field camps of the Russian Armed Forces at the following training grounds were shut down: “Abuz-Liasnoŭski, Liepieĺski and Asipovičy, and the troops stationed there and belonging to the RMG left for the Russian Federation, and it was not a rotation.”

Russian Navy does not block ships in Black Sea, but resorts to tricks – Ukrainian Navy, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Dmytro Pletenchuk, spokesman for the Ukrainian Navy, in an interview with Radio Liberty. “The Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation currently does not block vessels in the Black Sea. The Russian military is busy guarding its permanent deployment points and the coast. Now, they are mostly busy with the protection and defence of their permanent deployment points, bases and coast. Their tactics in the Black Sea were reduced to a very simple formula: 12 nautical miles is a sovereign territory; this is the so-called territorial sea. This is the part of the sea from the shore, which is actually the state’s territory.”

However, the Russian fleet resorts to tricks to create the appearance of control over the Black Sea and cargo traffic, both to domestic Russian audiences and to the world, Pletenchuk says. Using international law, they block off a section of the sea in this part of the internal economic zone and announce there, for example, firing exercises. This is allowed. And, accordingly, they have a legal reason to control this area. They always do it [training – ed.] on trade routes to complicate navigation in this way. Some ships, of course, do not pay attention to this, realising that it is all a fake.

There are no reasons for this; there is no mandate. Who can declare an embargo, for example, a blockade? International organisations should voice this. And Russia understands this very well, which is why they resort to such tricks. But at the same time, their rhetoric for the domestic audience is completely different. In the informational and international space, [it sounds – ed.] precisely as the prevention of arms smuggling.”

The USA adopts the law on Black Sea security, Сentre for Global Studies Strategy XXI reports. “The United States is on the verge of adopting the long-awaited in political and expert circles Black Sea Security Act of 2023. It is obvious that the consideration of this document by the US Congress demonstrates a radical change in the attitude of the most powerful country in the world towards our region and its maritime security and is also capable of positively influencing the strengthening of Ukraine’s national security. In fact, the bill is an addition to another draft of the document – the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which determines US national defense spending in the 2024 fiscal year.

The Black Sea Security Act project was submitted by Senators Jean Shaheen (Democrat) and Mitt Romney (Republican), which also shows bipartisan support for US involvement in strengthening the security of the Black Sea region. According to a report on the website of the US Congress the NDAA bill has already passed both chambers. Now it is up to the US President to sign it.

In the bill on Black Sea security, the US Congress reached, among other things, the following conclusions, which are very important for Ukraine:

  • it is in the interests of the United States to support efforts to prevent the spread of further armed conflict in Europe by recognizing the Black Sea region as an arena of Russian aggression;
  • the Black Sea states are crucial to countering aggression by the government of the Russian Federation and contributing to NATO’s collective security;
  • repeated, illegal, unprovoked and violent attempts by the Russian Federation to expand its territory and control access to the Mediterranean through the Black Sea pose a threat to the national security of the United States and NATO; […]

The draft law on Black Sea security contains a number of tasks that the US sets before itself, as well as views on the issues of ensuring the security of the Black Sea region, including:

  1. The US will discuss with NATO and the Alliance partners the issue of a regular presence in the Black Sea on a rotational basis (meaning, first of all, a military presence). […]
  2. The United States has a responsibility to find solutions to the food security issues arising from the blockade of Ukrainian seaports, as this global issue will have critical implications for the national security of the United States, its partners and allies.
  3. Not later than 180 days after the effective date of the Black Sea Security Act, the US National Security Council, together with the Department of State, the Department of Defense and other relevant federal departments and agencies, are required to prepare an interagency Black Sea Security and Development Strategy with a classified appendix.
  4. The Black Sea Security and Development Strategy will be directed, in particular, to:
  • providing effective and efficient assistance to regional security partners in accordance with the values and interests of the United States, providing priority assistance that will strengthen defenses and improve interoperability with NATO forces;
  • strengthening the support of the United States for the energy security of the region, integration with Europe and reducing the dependence of regional partners on Russia, while simultaneously supporting the diversification of energy resources;
  • easing economic pressure from the Russian Federation and the PRC on the Black Sea countries and identifying new opportunities for foreign direct investment from the United States and partner countries, as well as strengthening US business ties with regional partners in accordance with the values and interests of the United States, etc.;
  1. The US will also consider placing an interstate military headquarters in the Black Sea region, which will be responsible for planning, combat readiness, conducting exercises and coordinating military activities in the wider Black Sea region;
  2. no later than 360 days after the date of entry into force of the Black Sea Security Act, the US Government must identify the necessary programs, policies or budgetary resources necessary to implement the Black Sea Security and Development Strategy for the 2024, 2025 and 2026 fiscal years.

Certainly, it is extremely important that the bill pays special attention to the aggression of the Russian Federation, the need to increase security assistance to regional partners, economic issues, energy independence, the blockade of Ukrainian ports, as well as the clearly stated desire of the United States to invest in the security of the Black Sea region, which once again emphasizes the fact that the strategic course to strengthen relations between the superpower and the countries of the region.”

Consequences and what to do?

Ukraine’s annual military expenditures are estimated at UAH 3T, Ukraine Business News reports. “Of this amount, UAH 1.6T is for the security and defence sectors, said the newly appointed Minister of Defence, Rustem Umerov, on September 6. As he noted, the budget’s revenue totals UAH 1.4T, that is, more than UAH 1.5T needs to be sourced.

According to him, more than a million people have joined the country’s security and defence sector, of which more than 800,000 are in the Ukrainian military.

For comparison, before the war this figure was 261,000. Also, defence expenditures have increased by more than six times compared to 2021, and on the Armed Forces, by almost 10 times. The defence budget currently makes up a third of GDP, a huge figure for any economy in the world, Umerov stated. He specified that by the end of the current year Ukraine will need an additional UAH 250B for monetary support, and that these costs are increasing every day.”

Hans Petter Midtuun: I am regularly asked how long will the war last. When will it end?

After 498 weeks and 4 days of war, the end of the war seems further away than ever. The sad fact is that 3491 days ago, Europe was in a state of peace. The strategic environment has since changed, and peace has over time turned into conflict (20 February 2014) and full-scale war (24 February 2022).

Another depressing fact is that the war has continued to escalate. The escalation includes – but is not limited to – its (non-attributable) destruction of underwater pipelines and cables in Europe, massive attacks on critical infrastructure in Ukraine, its weaponization of food and energy supplies globally, the destruction of the Kakhovka dam and its Nuclear Blackmail. The latter includes both its explicit threats to use nuclear arms, as well as its warfare around Ukraine’s 15 nuclear reactors.

Additionally, both Russia and Ukraine are making crucial lessons learned on the battlefield enabling them to develop new weapon systems and adapt their way of fighting. The was is turning into a war of drones, unlike anything the world has ever seen. It will allow both to develop offensive capabilities that will be increasingly difficult for the international community to sanction or control.

I fear that the war will both escalate and remain protracted if the West uphold its present “strategy”.

The true nature of the war must be acknowledged for the West to find a solution to a war that not only is it to fight but also directly undermines our way of life.

Here are some of the facts that will determine the course of the war and help answer the question “When will the war end?”

Firstly, Ukraine cannot stop fighting. If it does, it ceases to exist. It is a fundamental fight that cannot end in negotiations (before Russia is evicted, enabling discussions about economic compensation, return of POWs, legal repercussions, demilitarisation of Russia, etc.). A ceasefire or a truce – a “Minsk 3” agreement – will only create the conditions for Russia’s next full-scale invasion.

Secondly, Russia cannot stop its aggression. It is in its imperialistic nature to seek expansion at the cost of its neighbours. Control over Ukraine is crucial to its Great Power ambitions. Having prepared for the assault for 15 years – having shaped both the physical and cognitive battlefield – and launched the war, Russia has ended up in a “now-or-never” situation. Its cards have been played. If it stops, its Great Power ambitions are forever lost. It will remain a pariah state and a minor partner of China. Its regime will not survive anything but a victory.

Thirdly, acknowledging the fact that neither Ukraine nor Russia can afford to stop fighting, peace can only be restored through international intervention. China could choose to join the Western sanctions and support President Zelensky’s 10-point peace plan, further eroding Russia’s ability to wage war. The US and Europe could elect to stop all defence, financial and humanitarian support to Ukraine, forcing it to accept concessions (in conflict with international law, their shared values, and principles, and not least, their common security interests). The West could also select to do what for 12 years was seen as the only strategic viable solution: A military intervention according to the UN “Responsible to Protect” doctrine.

To reach this point, however, several things need to happen.

Western politicians need to acknowledge the scale and scope of the war, the broader confrontation, and not least, what is truly at stake. We need to see an immediate increase in investment in security and defence. The US and European defence industries need to be mobilised, requiring governments to commit to long-term investments. We need to see a dramatic change in strategic narrative and messaging. Existing misleading mantras (e.g. “WW3 will start if we act”; “Russia-Ukraine war”; “all wars end in negotiations”) must be replaced with an honest depiction of the present security situation (as well as own shortcomings).

We must not least, see the establishment of a new temporary (potentially permanent) military alliance willing to take one step forward and engage.

Upholding the present “strategy” will allow Russia to maintain the strategic initiative, enabling it to escalate the war as it sees fit knowing that the West lacks the will and ability to deny it its strategic aim and objectives.

Until the West can fundamentally change the Russian strategic calculus through the demonstration of strength – both political will and military capability – this war might never end.

The war of drones might enable the victim of the war of aggression to uphold its self-defence and inflict damage on the aggressor indefinitely. Unfortunately, it will most likely also allow the aggressor to uphold an increasingly ruthless war.

It’s time to stop asking why we failed to avoid WW2.

It is time to ask why we failed to stop the largest and most dramatic war in Europe since WW2; a war that continues to escalate and cause increasing global repercussions..

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