August 7, 2023

Sitrep for Aug. 4–7, 2023 (as of 11:30 a.m.)

Frontline Situation Update

According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the Russian Armed Forces have captured the settlement of Novoselivske northwest of Svatove. The DeepState Ukrainian project has already marked that fact on their map.

Strikes on Ukrainian and Russian Territory

During the attack on the port of Novorossiysk on Aug. 4, an unmanned surface vessel hit the Olenegorsky Gornyak [Olenegorsk Miner] Ropucha-class landing ship of the Russian Navy. The video shows the ship noticeably banked to port as a result of the attack. Subsequently, the ship was towed to the port for repairs. Satellite images showing the Olenegorsky Gornyak docked at the pier have already appeared. Unlike torpedoes, USVs strike at the waterline, so a ship has a better chance of staying afloat after such an attack.

On the night of Aug. 5, another USV attacked the Russian Sig chemical/oil tanker near the Crimean Bridge. Later, the Ukrainian side published a video of the attack which caused a 2-meter hole in the tanker, damaged the engine room (it was flooded with water) on the starboard side and several compartments.

The Ukrainian authorities have declared the entire Black Sea area and six Russian ports (Taman, Anapa, Novorossiysk, Gelendzhik, Tuapse and Sochi) combat zones. Earlier, Russia issued a similar warning regarding the ports of Ukraine following the grain deal termination. In this regard, the Russian Army may have difficulties supplying its group in Syria: due to the Montreux Convention restrictions Russia has to use civilian vessels for this purpose, as the passage of warships is prohibited.

Andriy Tarasenko, a historian from Khrakiv, has recalled WWI archival photographs showing warships with anti-torpedo netting installed. It is hard to say if similar protective equipment will actually be used and be effective against USVs.

On the morning of Aug. 5, Yasynuvata, Donetsk region, was attacked with BM-21 Grad MLRS, while Horlivka was attacked with artillery. There are killed and wounded.

On the evening of Aug. 5, Donetsk was attacked with projectiles hitting the DonNUET university, an apartment building and an office. Photographs made near the university building have been published showing a tail assembly fragment stuck in flooring, which belongs to a HIMARS MLRS rocket. Other shots show a similarly stuck part of the body of a US cluster munition. In addition, there are photographs, also taken at the scene, that show US cluster submunitions. Based on the above, we can unequivocally state that the AFU had used cluster munitions within a residential area, which is a war crime.

It is worth noting that Ukraine had previously promised not to use US cluster munitions within populated areas.

On the night of Aug. 6, Russian forces launched a massive missile and drone attack on the territory of Ukraine. Meanwhile, a blood transfusion center was hit in the Kharkiv region, resulting in deaths and injuries.

During the same night, a rescuer lost his life while extinguishing a fire in the Starokostiantyniv community, Khmelnytskyi region. The fire was caused by a strike on the Starokostiantyniv air base, home to Sukhoi Su-24 bombers equipped with SCALP-EG / Storm Shadow long-range cruise missiles. According to Ukrainian sources, Kh-47M2 Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, 3M-54 Kalibr cruise missiles, Kh-101 cruise missiles, and Shahed-136 (Geran-2) loitering munitions targeted the air base that night. Satellite images reveal reinforced concrete shelters on the airfield, possibly harboring aircraft, which considerably complicates their destruction. Consequently, the Russian Aerospace Forces employed a significant arsenal of missiles and drones. While satellite images from Aug. 6 have surfaced, their poor quality prevents definitive confirmation of the existing markings as fire remnants. However, it is already evident that the extent of damage caused by this scale of attack is strikingly limited.

In the early hours of Aug. 6, two individuals were killed as a result of a Ukrainian attack on the village of Hornostaivka located within the annexed segment of the Kherson region.

On Aug. 6, a Ukrainian UJ-22 Airborne UAV was downed near Podolsk, Moscow region. The exact target of the drone remains unknown, given the presence of numerous military facilities in both Moscow and its surrounding regions.

Ukrainian forces also struck the bridges connecting Crimea to mainland Ukraine: the Chonhar road bridge and the Henichesk bridge leading to the closed-off Arabat Spit. Evident damage to the bridges is apparent in photographs. A civilian inside a vehicle was wounded by rocket fragments during the Henichesk bridge attack, casting doubt that it is not connected with Russian forces. West of the Chonhar bridge, containment booms have been positioned in the strait as a safeguard against USVs, yet the purpose of their deployment in this specific area is unclear.

Even in the event of a complete bridge collapse, Russian forces can swiftly establish one or multiple pontoon crossings. Thus, attacks on bridges will not lead to a complete disruption of supply routes for the Russian force grouping going from Crimea. Nevertheless, this attack will complicate Russian logistics.

Western Assistance

Politico reports that Ukraine has formed a group of pilots for training in F-16 fighter aircraft. It includes eight military pilots proficient in English. Another 20 Ukrainian pilots, with a lower level of English proficiency, will begin language courses in the United Kingdom this month.

Apparently, among military pilots, English language proficiency is not as widespread (although, seemingly, if a fighter jet has to intercept a foreign aircraft, communication will likely have to be conducted in English).

Lithuania will transfer NASAMS surface-to-air missile systems, anti-drone systems, and other equipment to Ukraine.

The United Kingdom is considering the possibility of supplying Ukraine with short-range surface-to-air missile systems initially equipped with ASRAAM IR air-to-air missiles, mounted on the chassis of the Supacat High Mobility Transporter.

In connection with the Ukrainian Air Force Day, a video showcasing the operations of NASAMS and S-125 Neva/Pechora surface-to-air missile systems was published.

A Ukrainian Air Defense Forces lieutenant colonel revealed in an interview with the Times that in December 2022, Kyiv was on the brink of evacuation due to Russia's intense strikes on the energy infrastructure. Had Ukraine's air defense been insufficient or ineffective, more than 2.5 million people would have had to be evacuated to prevent freezing.

It's crucial to bear this in mind and prepare for the next winter by procuring generators and spare parts for the energy infrastructure and seeking additional ways to protect it from air attacks, which Russia is likely to continue at a similar intensity as seen last winter.

The interview also mentions that while the US produces 160 missiles annually for the Patriot system, Ukraine spends this number of missiles in just a month due to the intensity of strikes.

Last week, the US Army approved full-scale production of the new AMPV tracked armored personnel carrier based on the Bradley IFV chassis. In March, the first vehicles were delivered to the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, signaling the gradual transition of the US ground forces from the M113 armored personnel carriers, used since the 1960s, to the AMPVs. The withdrawn M113s will likely be gradually transferred to Ukraine (though it is worth noting that thousands of such APCs are stored in US military depots).

A video emerged showing a military crime committed by Russian soldiers who were torturing a Ukrainian prisoner of war wearing a green armband, threatening him with an ax, pistol, and assault rifle. We suppose that the video was recorded at least several months ago. The POW mentions places like Kolesnykivka and Kulykivka, which likely indicates the Kharkiv region.

Military expert Yigal Levin criticized one of our sitreps, pointing out that, when we are using the term “combined arms,” we are actually talking about “supporting arms.” In his opinion, the fundamental difference is that the term “combined arms” implies the simultaneous involvement of various branches or types of troops, while the term “supporting arms” suggests a sequential collaboration.

This juxtaposition of terms, as far as we can tell, originates from William Lind, who introduced this concept in his Maneuver Warfare Handbook in 1985. Based on our analysis of Google Books, the differentiation of these terms did not gain substantial recognition in specialized literature in the 20th or the 21st centuries where the term “combined arms” keeps being referred to as a component of supporting arms. In the Multitran online dictionary, there is a translation of the term “supporting arms”, but only with reference to Yigal Levin. Thus, his assertion cannot be regarded as universally accepted.

Levin also criticizes Ruslan Leviev for the lack of a specialized military education, but Lind does not have one either, he never served in the army, and has an educational background in history. According to Robert Coram, during lectures, students accused Lind of “never dodging a bullet, never leading a man in battle, and never even wearing a uniform.”

Levin also fears that Ukrainians may receive misinformation from Russian experts, but according to the article he cited, Leviev is not among the war experts popular in Ukraine while the Russian experts who are, cover the war from an unjustifiably optimistic perspective for the AFU.

We did not mean that after the start of artillery fire, reconnaissance ceases its work, or that when a tank column advances, artillery also ceases operation. In fact, aerial reconnaissance persists throughout the entire battle to monitor the situation, correcting artillery fire, which, in turn, continues to support the mechanized offensive to the extent that it is safe for the troops, and enables commanding officers to receive the most up-to-date information on the ongoing developments on the battlefield.

Commander of the Ukrainian Support Forces, Brigadier General Dmytro Gerega, talks about the difficulty of overcoming minefields deployed by the RuAF, which consist of several high density swaths, 10 to 40 kilometers each. Lines of obstacles include anti-tank minefields, non-explosive obstacles in the form of anti-tank ditches, concrete pyramids (the so-called dragon's teeth), anti-tank traps and wire obstacles. Mines are often placed in such a way that they cannot be cleared. In addition, we saw the use of booby traps: anti-personnel mines are set in a trench and are detonated remotely based on aerial observation only after Ukrainian soldiers enter a trench. According to Gerega, to overcome these obstacles, a significant number of sapper units are needed, whose personnel must be able to make passages in enemy obstacles both manually and with the help of specialized engineering equipment, which is currently insufficient.