August 2, 2023

Sitrep for Aug. 1-2, 2023 (as of 8 a.m.)

An operational pause has set in along the frontline. Meanwhile, both sides continue to hit each other's positions.

Strikes on Ukrainian Territory

Dashcam footage emerged showing a missile striking the multistory residential building in Kryvyi Rih, which was attacked on July 31. The car was driving along a road towards the house when the latter was hit. The explosion was powerful enough to dislodge the dashcam from its mount. The video quality is insufficient to identify the precise missile type, but it could have been a Kh-22 cruise missile or another similar munition equipped with a powerful warhead.

On July 31, Russian forces hit settlements in the AFU-controlled part of the Donetsk region. Six bombs were dropped on the evacuated village of Niu-York. Only residential infrastructure (two apartment blocks and 31 single-family residential houses) was damaged. As a result of a strike on Zoriane village, two men were killed, and a woman was wounded.

On Aug. 1, as a result of a strike on a hospital in Kherson, which was not for the first time, two floors of the building were destroyed, a young doctor was killed, and a nurse was wounded. Rescuers continue clearing the rubble.

On the night of Aug. 2, Russian forces hit Ukrainian ports on the Danube in the Odesa region with loitering munitions. As a result, an elevator was damaged, and a fire broke out.

Besides, during the strike on Izmail, an oil storage facility was destroyed.

The Financial Times, published a new article and, citing anonymous American officials, described the situation with artillery ammunition: according to their data, the AFU are currently firing up to 8,000 rounds a day, equating to 240,000 per month. Meanwhile, the US produces ten times fewer but plans to increase artillery ammunition production to 90,000 rounds per month by fiscal year 2025 (probably referring to 155mm rounds). This suggests a significant ammunition shortage, which likely prompted the transfer of cluster munitions to Ukraine. In the current phase of the war, when the AFU is focused on attrition warfare, artillery is crucial.

It has been reported that the USA is still waiting for the Europeans to come up with a final plan to train Ukrainian pilots to operate F-16 fighter aircraft. The plan is expected to include a list of countries which will provide F-16s for the purpose of training as well as those countries that will supply aircraft to the AFU after such training is completed. Also, it is still unknown whether American pilots will be taking part in training their Ukrainian counterparts. The whole process is being dragged out although initially the training was to start this month.

Pro-Russian sources report that a Ukrainian Mil Mi-24 attack helicopter has been shot down over the west bank of the Dnipro river, close to the village of Mykhaylivka in the Kherson region. According to Ukrainian sources though, it was a Mil Mi-8 helicopter and the crew survived. The video resolution does not make it possible to identify the helicopter type. We believe that the footage is a current one because it was made in summer while Russian forces retreated from these parts in November.

The National Resistance Center of Ukraine has published a video shot in the area of Dzharylhach island in the vicinity of Lazurne, Kherson region, to the south of Skadovsk, which is within the range of HIMARS. The video features Russian soldiers lining up for a parade after which the site is struck by HIMARS, although it is impossible to discern from the video where exactly the missile hit.

Earlier, we covered the story of Tihran Ohanesian and Mykyta Khanhanov, teenagers from Berdiansk killed during an attempted arrest, subsequently referred to as the "Berdiansk partisans" in the media. Recently, photographs taken at the site of the shooting have surfaced, revealing a large pool of  blood under their bodies. The burn mark on Tihran’s chest indicates that he was shot at close range with an assault rifle. In addition, there is an entry visible on his forehead above the bridge of the nose, while brain matter is visible behind Mykyta's head, which could explain the authorities' refusal to release the bodies. These discoveries raise suspicions that this was, in fact, an execution, as previously claimed by the Ukrainian human rights commissioner.

Mobilization Update

A court in the Khanty-Mansi autonomous region, while reviewing an appeal against the decision to mobilize an employee of Surgutneftegas [Russia's oil and gas company], has ruled that “according to Clause 5 of the General section of the mentioned Guidelines, draft exemption does not constitute an absolute base for deferral, as draft offices have the right to engage exempted persons in implementing mobilization actions.” Certain draft offices had previously alleged that a draft exemption would only be valid if granted prior to the commencement of the  mobilization.

It has become evident that the war will not end anytime soon. Even if Russian forces continue with their current tactics and refrain from launching a large-scale offensive, they may still require additional mobilization to at least facilitate partial rotation of the troops. Some Russian officials have hinted at this possibility.

According to our calculations, between July 31 and Aug. 1, 2023, there were at least 23 attempted arson attacks on draft offices in Russia. This record-breaking number  of incidents suggests an organized campaign behind the attacks. Most of the detained arsonists were not acting out of their own anti-war sentiments but rather under the influence of phone scammers. Similar stories of arsonists reveal a pattern where the scammers manipulated individuals into thinking that criminals had been operating in the draft office, either processing credit applications on their behalf or colluding with Ukraine. Astonishingly, one individual was even misled into believing that the draft office housed a bank branch attempting to issue a credit in their name. The arsonists now face prison sentences.

An investigation published by Vazhnyye Istorii [IStories, an independent Russian investigative media outlet] reports that in addition to state-owned corporations such as the Russian Railways, large privately held enterprises are involved in recruiting contract soldiers to be sent to the frontline. In particular, Rusal [Russia’s largest aluminum company] is hiring those willing to go to war to corporations related to Oleg Deripaska [a Russian oligarch close to Putin] such as, for example, the Ruslan private security company. A day after being hired, the “employee” signs a contract with the Ministry of Defense. Thus, in addition to the Ministry of Defense war participation pay, he also receives a bonus from a private company. In addition to Rusal, the scheme is also in effect in the following companies: Novatek [Russia's second-largest natural gas producer], Mospromstroy [Russia's construction company] and PIK [Russia's housing developer].

Members  of the European Parliament from Germany, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, Bulgaria, and other countries have called upon the European Commission and EU member states to revise their visa policy "with the aim of adapting the guiding principles of issuing entry visas to Russians and reviewing the procedures for granting asylum" for those Russian nationals who left the country to avoid serving in the RuAF. Our team has previously joined the initiative by the Vesna [Spring] movement calling for development of such mechanisms.

A long-haul truck driver from Bashkortostan, a constituent republic of Russia, was killed near Yasynuvata, Donetsk region. He was allegedly delivering so-called humanitarian aid (meat and semi-finished products) for servicemen from Rosgvardia [the National Guard of Russia]. Reportedly, the driver asked locals for a shortcut and took their advice, ending up on a dangerous road. Despite the truck having no markings indicating it was military, a loitering munition hit its cab, killing the driver and burning down the vehicle (we believe this could be a war crime). The strike's location has been geolocated and is about five kilometers from AFU-controlled Avdiivka.

The Belarusian Hajun monitoring project reports an expansion of the Wagner Group's camp in Belarus. According to their sources, old military warehouses in Poplavy, the former military town No28 near Asipovichy, are now being used. After large convoys from the Wagner Group started arriving at the camp in the village of Tsel, satellite images also showed some activity in the aforementioned military town, located 27 km away from the village.

Pro-Russian Telegram channels posted a video allegedly showing fragments of a Storm Shadow missile found in Crimea. We agree with the missile's identification, but the blurred horizon in the video has hindered geo confirmation. As far as we know, the UK has not banned the use of its weaponry in Crimea.

More high-quality images of the FAB-500 M-62 air-dropped bomb with UMPK [Universal Gliding and Correction Module] have emerged. The bomb's tail assembly has been enhanced with two additional keels.

A video of a Lancet loitering munition hitting an IRIS-T air defense system, or, according to the pro-Russian Telegram channel Voyenny Osvedomitel [Military Informant], its high-quality mockup, has been published. In the video, we see a hit, causing debris to scatter, but notably, no detonation of the ammunition pack occurs. Remarkably, the launcher, or its self-propelled mockup, which is unlikely, has not suffered serious damage, puts transport and launch containers in the marching position and leaves. It is possible that the Lancet may have slightly missed the transport and launch containers and only grazed them with its wings, or alternatively,  the containers might have been empty by coincidence.

The Institute for the Study of War reports that Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s regime is allegedly negotiating to begin assembling Iranian attack drones near Gomel, and that Russian representatives have visited the planned production site. We haven't seen unequivocal confirmation yet, but on Jul. 31, Belarusian Defense Minister Viktar Khrenin visited Iran.

Christo Grozev [Bellingcat’s investigative journalist], on a video from the Russia-Africa Summit, found Major General Andrey Averyanov, head of the 29155th military unit—the most famous of the secret and the most secret of the famous Russian military units. While other participants name their positions during introductions, he is simply saying, "Andrey Averyanov. Security." The 29155 military unit is subordinated to the GRU [Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the RuAF] and engaged in sabotage around the world. This unit included Chepiga and Mishkin, who poisoned Sergei Skripal, it is responsible for the explosions of warehouses in the Czech Republic, the attempted murder of Emilyan Gebrev, etc. Averyanov's presence at this meeting probably shows how seriously Putin takes this event.

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has published a new video featuring his fighters supposedly stationed at the frontline. Well-equipped "Kadyrovtsy" troops [nominally National Guard and Police units loyal to Kadyrov personally] are shown moving through a forest line, using scarce anti-tank guided missiles, ostensibly hitting targets, scouting, and firing thermobaric grenades with RPG rocket-propelled grenade launchers, allegedly striking selected targets. However, no enemy soldiers or armored vehicles are visible in the video, leaving viewers uncertain about their intended targets of the "Kadyrovtsy". Previously, it was reported that the Akhmat special forces unit was deployed to Klishchiivka to "restore order" and stabilize the frontline. However, the video published by Kadyrov, was geolocated in the Belgorod region, two kilometers away from the Ukrainian border.