dispatches
August 9, 2023

Sitrep for Aug. 8–9, 2023 (as of 8:30 a.m.)

Strikes on Ukrainian and Russian Territory

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, has announced the conclusion of the rescue operation following a double strike on Pokrovsk in the Donetsk region. The latest report confirms a death toll of 9, with at least 82 injured, including two children, although alternate sources suggest 88 injured. The State Emergency Service of Ukraine has released a video depicting the clearance of debris, revealing that both damaged structures were ordinary residential homes with no signs of military facilities. Investigators have determined that the building housing a hotel was hit by an 9K720 Iskander mobile short-range ballistic missile system, as confirmed by Pavlo Kyrylenko, Head of the Donetsk Regional Military Administration. Notably, a double tap tactic was employed, with a second missile striking nearly the same spot 37 minutes after the initial attack.

The Russian Ministry of Defense has claimed the strike targeted a "command post of the united group of Ukrainian forces Khortytsia" in Pokrovsk. Russia's MoD refers to it as "Krasnoarmeysk of the Donetsk People's Republic." It could be speculated that people in military uniform were spotted near the hotel or pizzeria, but it is hard to imagine a command post located within a residential area. This is another testament to the compromised state of Russian intelligence.

The pro-Russian Telegram channel Trinadtsatyy [the 13th] of “DPR” serviceman Egor Guzenko, has published a narrative detailing a two-week operation. This endeavor reportedly involved collecting coordinates for 223 significant targets across Ukraine, obtained from corrupted military sources within the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and through various covert missions. They ominously claim that these targets will be "erased, along with everyone present." Such a number seems improbably high, leaving room for speculation on how many of these are not legitimate targets—we assume the vast majority are not. Judging by the scarcity of obituaries for high-ranking Ukrainian officers in recent months, Russian forces have had little success in hitting crucial AFU strategic targets.

New details have emerged regarding the missile strike on a residential building in Kryvyi Rih that occurred on July 31: the roof of the ninth floor has collapsed. As the building had already been evacuated and cordoned off, no injuries occurred. The initial strike had destroyed a portion of the building, impacting apartments on the 4th to 8th floors.

There has been another attempt to attack Moscow using Ukrainian drones. Mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin reported that one loitering munition was intercepted by an air defense system near the Domodedovo airport, resulting in its temporary closure for an hour, while another one was neutralized near the Minsk Highway.

After yesterday's deliberation on the glass booths spotted on a rooftop in the town of Krasnogorsk, we have received a slew of photos depicting houses with similar installations from various parts of the Moscow region. Intriguingly, some of these structures started to appear as early as late 2022. Many of them are also equipped with cameras, seemingly designed to detect incoming drones. Those inside these booths might even attempt to listen for the approaching drone motors.

We believe Ukraine has developed an efficient system for tracking incoming missiles and drones. Local residents can promptly report them via an app, allowing air defense forces to anticipate which parts of the country are most likely to be targeted. This is particularly crucial for intercepting loitering munitions and cruise missiles, which fly at low altitudes and may elude ground surveillance radars until they are relatively close to the target.

Frontline Situation Update

Fighting continues along various sectors of the frontline with mixed success for both sides. A small advance of the Russian Armed Forces can be noted in the Svatove direction: according to the DeepState Ukrainian project map, Russian forces have managed to capture the settlement of Novoselivske, northwest of Svatove.

We still see no signs of a large-scale offensive by the RuAF or any preparations for one, such as troop build-ups in the Kupiansk direction. We consider Russian offensive maneuvers in the Svatove direction likely to be a tactic to divert Ukrainian forces from other areas making them relocate reserves from the Zaporizhzhia axis to defend the northern Luhansk region, specifically Kupiansk.

The DeepState Telegram channel describes the ongoing situation on the Zaporizhzhia axis, citing an AFU soldier. Russian command has reportedly deployed fresh troops and a significant number of assault units to the area. These units are launching ground assaults through fields and tree lines taking advantage of tall, two-meter grass. Given current circumstances, agricultural lands in the area remain uncultivated and have grown over. It is worth noting that wet weather and tall grass have been noted by British intelligence as hindrances to the Ukrainian advance (we do agree that wet conditions are unfavorable, but find the tall grass issue somewhat exaggerated).

Limited firepower hinders the control of the entire territory, allowing the enemy to bypass Ukrainian observation posts and positions. This situation is compounded by the AFU’s lack of platoon and company-level strongpoints in the area.

Russia’s offensive tactics involve sending Storm-Z units to attack Ukrainian trenches. This demands a perilous 2-kilometer advance under a constant onslaught of artillery, with both cluster and high-explosive fragmentation shells, and mortar fire. Those who survive are subsequently met with a barrage of machine-gun fire as they approach the trenches.

Rybar, a prominent pro-Russian Telegram channel, has shed light on the situation along the Bakhmut direction, particularly around the villages of Andriivka, Klishchiivka and Kurdiumivka. After several days of relative calm, Ukrainian forces launched an offensive. Following softening up the enemy, the 22nd Mechanized Brigade of the AFU pressed forward. Infantry assault groups lead the charge, supported by artillery and tank fire. Strongpoints frequently change hands throughout the battle.

The story of what happened near Kozachi Laheri, a village on the left bank of the Dnipro in the Kherson region, has spread widely in pro-Russian media.

Several days ago, a group of Ukrainian troops crossed the river and gained a foothold near the settlement. The positions there had been held by a unit led by Major Tomov of the RuAF. At some point, the unit lost communication. A couple of days later, Russian forces received an unexpected request for help, allegedly from Tomov’s unit, which had engaged AFU units and was asking for backup. “DPR” serviceman Egor Guzenko immediately suspected a trap, believing that the radio of Tomov’s unit had ended up in enemy’s hands, which was subsequently confirmed, as photographs were published showing captured fighters of Tomov’s unit outside Kozachi Laheri. The attempt to counter the Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance group cost the RuAF 25 men killed and wounded, including three officers.

Trinadtsatyy specifically highlights the issue of high-ranking commanders receiving no objective reports, which has pushed him to write letters directly to the minister of defense’s reception office. We do not expect such complaints to yield any results, as lower-ranking officers will always have a well-grounded fear of retaliation for truthful reports, until the MoD’s feedback system is completely changed.

Mobilization Update

The Lyudi Baikala [People of Baikal] independent media outlet reports that the Irkutsk region headquarters of the United Russia party [Putin’s ruling party] is collecting school supplies to support children of mobilized soldiers, even though the average salary of a mobilized soldier is 200,000 rubles [$2065], a significant amount even by Moscow standards.

Customs in Buryatia [Russia's constituent republic] and the Khabarovsk region handed over confiscated goods worth 19 million rubles [$196,000] to the "special military operation". They included: timber and lumber, hygiene products, clothing, tactical gloves, backpacks and bags, protective knee pads and elbow pads, cloak tents, thermal backpacks, collimator and optical sights, paracord survival kits, and flashlight tasers. It is quite possible that customs seize the goods that Russian volunteers buy and send them on their own behalf.

A court in the Krasnodar region sentenced local resident Andrey Kovalenko to five years in prison. He was accused of funding Alexei Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation and of creating a malware that obtained bank card information from computers in Western Europe, North and South America. Kovalenko allegedly used this information to buy goods in online stores.

The Moscow Times' Russian-language service has analyzed fresh satellite images of one of Russia's largest military vehicle storage bases, Vagzhanovo, which is located in Buryatia near the Divizionnaya railway station, and found that since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, Russia has withdrawn from storage more than 40 percent of Soviet tanks and combat vehicles stored outdoors. Experts believe that T-62 tanks accounted for a significant part of the withdrawn vehicles. According to journalists' calculations, in September 2021, about 3,840 armored vehicles were stored at Vagzhanovo, by November 2022 about 2,600 armored vehicles remained at the base, and by May 2023 — about 2,270. Thus, during this time, 1,570 units were removed from the base, which is 40.8% of all armored vehicles. Moreover, a large portion (32%) was removed from storage after the announcement of the “partial” mobilization at the end of 2022. It is worth noting that this does not mean that 1,500 vehicles will appear on the frontline: a notable part of them will almost certainly be used as spare parts donors to assemble a single working tank from several tanks.

The German automotive and arms manufacturer Rheinmetall has purchased 50 Leopard 1 tanks from Belgium. Some of the tanks will undergo refitting, while others will be disassembled for parts. Preliminary plans suggest that Ukraine will receive 30 of these tanks.

In May 2023, we reported that the Pentagon had spent billions of dollars less on military aid to Kyiv than initially anticipated due to the calculation not factoring in equipment and hardware depreciation. The amount “saved,” which was initially reported at $3 billion and grew to $6.2 billion by August, will be used to deliver new military aid packages. According to preliminary information, the first package, valued at $200 million, will soon be announced. It will include mine-clearing equipment, TOW anti-tank missiles, AT-4 anti-armor systems, anti-aircraft missiles for air defense and ammunition for HIMARS MLRS.

Upon analyzing satellite imagery provided by NASA's Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS), we have reached the conclusion that, in at least three cases, the pro-Russian Telegram channel Voyenny Osvedomitel [Military Informant] erroneously identified marks on the Starokostiantyniv air base as fire damage resulting from the Aug. 6 strike.

An article about the Ukrainian Air Force has been released by Bild, highlighting the continuous efforts of the Russian side to neutralize it. As a result, the Ukrainian Air Force relocates daily its few Sukhoi Su-24 aircraft, crucial carriers of SCALP-EG/Storm Shadow missiles. This required the restoration of Soviet-era airfields and, in some instances, the adaptation of road segments into functional runways. Moreover, to safeguard these airfields, the most valuable Western air defense systems like Patriot and Iris-T are employed.

Satellite images have been published, depicting the departure of the Olenegorsky Gornyak Ropucha-class landing ship from the port of Novorossiysk. Our team has acquired a video revealing a large metal "patch" on the ship's left side. It appears probable that the vessel is en route to a dry dock for overhaul. (A subsequent image emerged after the sitrep was compiled, confirming the landing ship's arrival at a dry dock).