July 24, 2023

Sitrep for July 21-24, 2023 (as of 9 a.m.)

Strikes on Ukrainian and Russian Territories

On the morning of July 24, southern Moscow was attacked by two loitering munitions. One of the drones fell on Komsomolsky Avenue, close to the Ministry of Defense building, damaging  an office building, and shattering windows in nearby homes. Drone debris was found on the avenue itself, which briefly disrupted traffic. The second drone collided with a high-rise office building on Likhachev Street, presumably as the skyscraper was situated on its pre-programmed flight path. No casualties were reported. An eyewitness posted a video of a drone featuring a “canard” wing configuration flying over Moscow.

According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, both drones were neutralized using electronic warfare systems.

In a separate incident, a drone attack occurred near Dzhankoi in northern Crimea. Preliminary data suggests an ammunition depot was the target of the strike. Smoke rising from the site was visible in footage of the attack, however there were no signs of secondary detonations. Following the strike, railway and car traffic around Dzhankoi was suspended.

On July 22, several drones struck an ammunition depot and an airfield in the Oktiabrske urban-type settlement in Crimea, leading to the hospitalization of four people, and the suspension of railway traffic two and a half kilometers away from the depot. The Armed Forces of Ukraine have claimed responsibility for the strikes. Video from the scene reveals sounds of secondary detonations, and a convoy of Russian military trucks evacuating the area.

As there have been several strikes on Crimea over the recent days, it is hard to attribute  reports to a particular strike. The pro-Russian Rybar and Voyenny Osvedomitel [Military Informant] Telegram channels have claimed that the the ammunition depot in Oktiabrske was hit by Storm Shadow missiles, as the characteristic whizz of a flying cruise missile can allegedly be heard in one of the videos, without providing any further evidence. Given that, like cluster munitions, Storm Shadow missiles are regularly linked to various strikes without any evidence. It is possible that the strike in Oktiabrske could have been carried out by drones.

Russian Forces have probably managed to disperse their depots that had previously been close to the frontline, forcing the AFU to start targeting known depots located further back. Oktiabrske is reported to have been accumulating equipment for a long time, so Ukrainian forces must have long known of its existence.

Two persons were killed in a RuAF strike on the Chernihiv region on July 21.

The Transfiguration Cathedral (one of Ukraine’s largest Orthodox cathedrals) was damaged in an attack on Odesa on the night of July 22. Many residents were wounded as a result of multiple hits in the city center. Note that the center of Odesa, including the area around the cathedral, is under UNESCO protection (the organization has strongly condemned the attack).

On the night of July 24, Russian forces launched another attack on the Odesa region with kamikaze drones. As a result, the port infrastructure was damaged, and a hangar with grain was destroyed.

Frontline Situation Update

According to the DeepState Ukrainian project, over the past three days, Russian forces have made notable progress in the Svatove-Kupiansk direction near the village of Karmazynivka. According to AFU servicemen, the RuAF had total superiority in artillery there, and launched BM-21 Grad MLRS strikes even against small concentrations of Ukrainian soldiers up to three people. It is worth noting that Russian forces have been trying to move towards Kupiansk in recent months, as they consider the town to be an important logistical hub for Ukrainian forces.

In the Orikhiv direction, fighting continues in the area of Robotyne. A Ukrainian mechanized column advanced towards Russian positions there. As these positions were located on higher grounds the advancing vehicles were in full view, which made it easy to give fire directions to hit them. The AFU military vehicles managed to approach the positions but were stopped with strikes of FPV drones and Lancet loitering munitions, which destroyed and damaged a significant part of them (according to the Russian side, only one Ukrainian tank managed to escape after the attack). Drone footage shows strikes on an M2A2 Bradley IFV (geolocated 400 m from Robotyne) and a Leopard 2A6 tank with FPV drones and on another Leopard 2A6 tank with a Lancet loitering munition. The considerable size of these tanks makes it much easier to hit them with artillery and drones than other armored vehicles. A photo, taken at a Russian position captured by the AFU, illustrates a commanding view of the area, making it possible to resist the offensive quite effectively.

In the Kherson region, Lancet kamikaze drones hit Spada/Aspide surface-to-air missile systems (erroneously identified as NASAMS air defense systems in some Telegram channels).

Lancets, capable of covering a distance of up to 35 kilometers, have proven to be formidable weapons. They have been particularly effective on the Zaporizhzhia axis where advancing AFU armored convoys were hit by Kamov Ka-52 (Hokum B) attack helicopters using 9K121 Vikhr AGTM. The drones provided cover by attacking air defense systems attempting to take down the Russian helicopters (a combination we have previously discussed).

Igor Strelkov’s Arrest

On July 21 Igor Strelkov (Girkin) was arrested. Moscow's Meshchansky district court ordered him to be held in the Lefortovo pre-trial detention facility. The criminal investigation division of the Federal Security Service (FSB) initiated a case based on a post from May 25, 2022, on Strelkov's Telegram channel, with reference to a forensic report from the FSB's Institute of Forensics dated Jul. 17, 2023 which ascertained "public calls for extremist activity" (Part 2, Article 280 of the Russian Criminal Code). It appears that the FSB selected the first post they encountered on Strelkov's Telegram channel based on keyword search, following a recent political decision to apprehend Strelkov. In the aforementioned post, Strelkov expressed dismay over unpaid wages to mobilized men on the frontline, stating that it was "insufficient to just shoot" those responsible for such failures.

Pavel Gubarev, Strelkov's associate in the Club of Angry Patriots, called on everyone to come to the Meshchansky Court immediately after Strelkov's detention, but only managed to gather a couple dozen people.

Perhaps in an attempt to prevent a new armed rebellion, fighters of the Vikhr [Vortex] volunteer unit have been disarmed on the day of Strelkov's detention. The Vikhr volunteer unit is under the patronage of Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev, who sponsored Strelkov during his actions in Donbas.

As a result of an AFU attack, Rostislav Zhuravlyov, a RIA Novosti [Russian state-owned news agency] journalist, was killed, a RIA Novosti photojournalist and two Izvestiya [News] journalists were wounded. The Ministry of Defense immediately declared that cluster munitions were used to carry out the strike. According to various sources, Zhuravlyov and other journalists were filming the work of a BM-21 Grad MLRS crew. When the artillery crew finished firing and left their positions, the journalists stayed for some time to collect equipment, and came under retaliatory fire. Since this was counter battery fire, it was not particularly significant that Zhuravlyov was wearing a military uniform rendering him indistinguishable from other combatants (also note that he was wearing Russian Ground Forces collar patches in the photo). Nevertheless, independent journalist Aleksey Kovalyov found an old interview with Zhuravlyov in which he stated “liberal ideas” about journalists needing to stand out from combatants on the battlefield only apply in the case of international conflicts, where it is possible to be "above the fray." In instances where a journalist’s compatriots are involved in conflict, Zhuravlyov fails to see why he should look any different from the military. Thus, it appears being indistinguishable from combatants was a long stand viewpoint.

In this context, it is worth noting that we have seen cases where Russian “correspondents” blatantly disregard journalistic ethics by assisting in loading projectiles on camera.

Two videos have emerged showing Ukrainian forces damaging, and possibly destroying, Russian Zoopark-1 1L261 counter-battery radar systems.

In Saint Petersburg, mobile recruiting centers for military contract service have begun to appear. However, there does not seem to be anyone queuing at these tents.

Yevgeny Prigozhin [owner of the Wagner Group] registered a Belarusian subsidiary of his Concord company—Concord Management and Consulting—in the village of Tsel, located in the Asipovichy district of the Mogilev region. This location is home to the Wagner Group’s camp, which continues to grow: images from Jul. 22 show significantly more equipment than those from Jul. 14, 16, and 19.

In the Bryansk region, near the village of Znob on the Russia-Ukraine border, two EOD operators were killed, and the third was injured while installing a mine.

At the airfield in Yeysk, Russia, the Russian Aerospace Forces have marked new airfield parking spaces with drawings of non-existent aircrafts.

Deliveries of Western Military Equipment

Germany has announced a new military aid package for Ukraine, which includes:

  • 10 Leopard 1A5 tanks;
  • 20 MG3 machine guns for tanks and armored vehicles;
  • 1305 155mm artillery rounds;
  • 2064 155mm artillery smoke rounds;
  • 1 bridge-layer and 12 trailers;
  • 4 border protection vehicles;
  • 10 ground surveillance radars;
  • 16 Zetros trucks;
  • 100,000 first aid kits.

It has also become known that Germany provided Ukraine with Vulcano precision ammunition, comparable to Russia's 2K25 Krasnopol projectiles. These laser-guided, high-precision projectiles have a firing range of 55 km when used with M109 or M777 howitzers, and a range of 70 km when used with Panzerhaubitze 2000, CAESAR, or Krab self-propelled guns. The extended range is achieved through the sub-caliber construction of these projectiles (their diameter is smaller than the 155mm gun caliber, reducing air resistance during flight).

Approximately two weeks ago, we wrote about the planned opening of a tank and armored vehicle production and repair plant in Ukraine by the Rheinmetall corporation. At the same time, we expressed our concerns regarding the feasibility of this project in light of the existing deficit of air defense systems.

Director of the Rheinmetall corporation Armin Papperger announced that the planned factory will be protected with its own air defense system. At the same time, it has been revealed that Germany lacks ammunition for the Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft guns transferred to Ukraine. These anti-aircraft systems have long been decommissioned in Germany, and ammunition for them was not produced. Brazil and Switzerland refused to provide their rounds to Ukraine, so it was necessary to restore their production. Initially, 300 thousand missiles were promised to Ukraine, however, only 40 thousand have been delivered this year.

The Ukrainian Armed Forces have received Bradley IFVs with a set of Bradley Reactive Armor Tiles (BRAT). These additions should provide additional protection against anti-tank guided missiles, grenade launchers, and similar weaponry.

A video was published showing a hit on a Bradley IFV with such protection, where we can see that the IFV was hit in the rear, caught fire, but remained operational.

It became known that Britain has handed over Wolfram mobile systems to Ukraine designed to launch British Brimstone ground attack missiles, which were previously launched only from the air.

Earlier, we reported on the difficulties with launching a repair plant in Poland and the termination of the tank servicing agreement by Germany. Minister of National Defense of Poland Mariusz Blaszczak unexpectedly announced that a repair center has begun operating at the Bumar military plant in Gliwice in the southern part of the country, and two Leopard tanks have already been brought there from Ukraine.