July 3

Sitrep for July 1-3, 2024 (as of 8:30 a.m.) UTC+3

Frontline Situation Update

Russian forces have finally captured the eastern part of Chasiv Yar, specifically the Kanal neighborhood, which is separated from the main part of the town by the Severskyi Donets-Donbas Canal. The pro-Russian telegram channel Archangel Spetsnaz confirms this, reporting that the neighborhood has been taken by the 98th Airborne Division of the Russian Airborne Forces. A video geolocated directly next to the canal shows soldiers holding a Russian Airborne Forces flag and a Russian flag in a half-destroyed building. Ukrainian military observer Kostiantyn Mashovets claims that the eastern part of Chasiv Yar has been completely captured by the Russians. Statements of Bild journalist Julian Röpcke claiming that the Armed Forces of Ukraine drove the Russian Armed Forces out of the Kanal neighborhood have proven unreliable. However, on July 3, he stated that the fall of the neighborhood was inevitable after Russian forces had reached its western edge.

Russian forces have also made some progress in the Toretsk direction. South of the town of Toretsk, they were able to approach the village of Niu-York and, according to some reports, even capture its southern part. A successful attack during a rotation of Ukrainian forces is again cited as a possible reason for Russian progress in this direction.

Russian forces may have switched their focus to the Toretsk direction after encountering increased difficulty advancing in the Ocheretyne direction. However, such a “dispersion” of resources, according to Mashovets, negatively impacts the offensive potential of the RuAF.

On the Donetsk axis, the RuAF, using a "squeezing" tactic, managed to capture most of the town of Krasnohorivka, north of the town of Marinka, after nearly two months.

Although this tactic allows for progress despite heavy losses, it cannot be regarded as successful or sustainable. At this pace, capturing the remaining coveted areas of Ukraine would take many years. Even a large country like Russia is unlikely to have the resources for such prolonged combat operations.

Ukrainian journalist Yurii Butusov discussed the problems faced by the AFU on this axis. According to him, the commander of the 59th Motorized Infantry Brigade lacks the competence for his position. A brigade commander should not be engaging in "micromanagement" or assigning tasks to specific assault groups, UAV operators or artillery crews. Butusov believes that it is poor management of well-prepared fighters that led to difficulties for defending Ukrainian forces and allowed Russian troops to advance in Krasnohorivka.

Ukrainian military expert Serhii "Flash" Beskrestnov notes that Russian forces have recently achieved some success in countering Ukrainian electronic warfare. They have begun to use FPV kamikaze drones operating at a frequency of about 500 MHz more often, whereas the AFU do not have enough "jammers" for such frequencies. Beskrestnov also posted a video by the Russian Sudoplatov project showing an FPV drone attacking a Ukrainian pickup truck equipped with an EW system operating in the 700 to 1020 MHz frequency band. It is worth noting that the Sudoplatov group was previously criticized for deploying a large number of identical drones, which were relatively easy for the AFU to jam.

Western Assistance

Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov met with Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin in Washington, where Austin announced a new military aid package from the United States amounting to $2.3 billion. This package will include, among other things, missiles for the Patriot and NASAMS surface-to-air missile air defense systems, which will be delivered in an accelerated manner, as well as anti-tank missiles and artillery projectiles.

Some associate this large amount of ammunition with recent pledges to supply Ukraine with another Patriot SAM system. It was previously reported that the promised system was located in Poland, which initially refused to transfer air defense systems to Ukraine to avoid weakening its own defense.

Ukrainian and Russian Strikes

Russian forces have launched new Iskander ballistic missile strikes on Ukrainian territory. On July 1, an Iskander-M missile with a cluster munition warhead targeted the Myrhorod airbase in the Poltava region. Drone footage provided by the Russian Ministry of Defense shows that at least two Su-27 aircraft were destroyed, with another four likely damaged. The continued ability of Russian reconnaissance drones to operate deep within Ukrainian territory remains puzzling. It was previously reported that radio frequency analyzers had been deployed to detect reconnaissance UAVs, and that shooting them down had become relatively straightforward. It is unclear whether there were no anti-aircraft guns at this particular airfield or whether Ukrainian forces failed to detect the drone in time.

On July 2, another Iskander missile strike targeted the Poltava air base. Despite initial reports indicating that a Mi-24 helicopter had been hit, Ukrainian sources claim that all helicopters were left unharmed by the strike.

On the evening of July 1, the AFU launched a missile strike on a Black Sea Fleet facility near Cape Fiolent in Sevastopol. Occupation authorities claim to have intercepted four Ukrainian missiles. However, the Astra Telegram channel reports that one missile hit a BSF logistics support center. According to the Dos’ye Shpiona [Spi Dossier] Telegram channel, the target of the strike was a warehouse containing Shahed-136 (Geran 2) loitering munitions, with around 90 units destroyed as a result of the attack.

Our team has recently published an article showing that the easing of restrictions on strikes with Western precision weapons against targets on Russian territory has led to a sharp reduction in missile attacks on the city of Kharkiv, thereby saving many civilian lives. Since the beginning of 2024, the city has been subjected to at least 17 S-300/400 missile attacks, resulting in 35 deaths and 205 injuries. The intensity of the attacks increased with the start of the Russian offensive in the Kharkiv region. From May 10 to May 31, S-300/400 missiles struck the city at least six times, with 25 missiles used in total. On May 30-31, it became known that the Biden administration had authorized Ukraine to attack threatening targets in Russian regions bordering Ukraine. Already on June 1-2, the AFU struck an S-300/400 battery in the Belgorod region, destroying at least two launchers, two ground surveillance radars and several tractor units. As a result, no attacks involving these missiles on Kharkiv were recorded over the past month. Only two such strikes were reported in the Kharkiv region, both without casualties. The range of the HIMARS MLRS authorized for use on Russian territory is about 80 km [50 mi], forcing Russian forces to move their S-300 SAM systems further away from the border, from where they can no longer target Kharkiv.

We believe that lifting the remaining restrictions on the use of Western weapons will help save even more Ukrainian civilian lives. Currently, the Russian Aerospace Forces are using bombers to drop Universal Inter-Branch Gliding Munitions (UMPB D-30SN) and bombs equipped with Universal Gliding and Correction Modules (UMPK) from a safe distance, 35 to 40 km [22 to 25 mi] away from the frontline, on Kharkiv and other populated areas in Ukraine. Lifting the restriction on the use of ATACMS tactical ballistic missiles against targets deep within Russian territory will allow the AFU to target a significant number of airfields from which aircraft conducting missile and bomb strikes on Ukrainian cities take off. Under such conditions, Russia would be forced to relocate its aircraft to more distant airbases. This strategy has already been observed in Crimea, which is entirely within ATACMS range and not subject to restrictions. Such relocation would disrupt the established logistics chains supporting the aircraft. As a result, Ukraine would gain a respite of several months, during which the Russian Aerospace Forces would be significantly limited in their strike capabilities and forced to prioritize targets, likely focusing on direct support to their ground forces. During this time, the first F-16 fighter aircraft are expected to finally arrive in Ukraine, potentially equipped with long-range missile systems. Additional SAM batteries, whose crews will have completed their training, are also anticipated to materialize. This will further reduce the threat of Russian missile and bomb strikes against Ukraine's civilian population.

On June 1, residents of the Belgorod and Kursk regions were left without electricity for several hours. According to the local electricity company Belgorodenergo, the power supply issues in several districts of the Belgorod region and the city of Belgorod were due to a "technological disruption caused by external impacts on the energy facility." It is worth noting that Ukraine lacks the capability to attack power generation facilities the way Russia does. The drones used by Ukraine can damage a transformer substation but are not capable of, for example, destroying a hydroelectric or thermal power station building and obliterating a machine room. Therefore, residents of Russia's regions bordering Ukraine do not face serious power outages lasting more than a few hours. In contrast, the aftermath of Russian strikes on Ukraine's power-generating facilities can take months and years to repair.

In a recent sitrep, we discussed British intelligence estimates of Russian losses, clarifying the term "casualties" and how it can be misinterpreted by journalists. We also discussed that many of those lightly wounded (suffering from shrapnel wounds or concussions) return to the frontline relatively quickly and can be counted in the overall losses’ statistics several times a month. A notable example is Denis Ivanovsky, a mobilized soldier from the Belgorod region. In October 2022, Ivanovsky was wounded and initially treated in a hospital in the "LPR." Two days after having shrapnel removed, he was sent back to the frontline, indicating his injury was relatively minor according to his account. On Dec. 28 of the same year, Ivanovsky was wounded again and transferred to Russian territory. However, he has yet to receive the necessary medical assistance or compensation for his injuries. The specific location of where he is receiving treatment and the severity of his second injury are unspecified.

We have noted that a recent article in The Wall Street Journal about the current situation on the frontline in Ukraine contains several inaccuracies. To begin with, the authors claim that the rail-and-road bridge from Russia to Crimea has not been used for nearly a year to transport heavy military vehicles since Ukraine severely damaged it with two maritime surface drones. This is incorrect. Locals regularly send us photos and videos of military trains heading to Crimea (we take care of the safety of our sources and cannot publish these photos and videos), and sometimes such photos are even published in open sources. For example, in February 2024, the ATESH movement recorded the unloading of T-62 tanks in Yevpatoria. We believe that such evidence does not appear very often for two reasons. First, in Crimea, the pressure from local intelligence services and authorities on activists is particularly strong, making such posts very dangerous. Second, after more than two years of war, locals have become accustomed to trains transporting military vehicles, pay less attention to them and have stopped taking photos. At the beginning of May, we commented on a study by the Molfar research group, which, after analyzing several satellite images, concluded that Russia had almost stopped using the Crimean Bridge as a supply route for its troops. It is worth noting that the absence of evidence of something is not evidence of its actual absence; if trains with military equipment are not recorded on the bridge on some days, it does not mean they did not pass on other days.

The article also quotes Russian officials who claim that five people on a beach in Sevastopol were killed by submunitions from an ATACMS tactical ballistic missile. Additionally, it includes opinions from some OSINT analysts who believe that "debris appeared to be from Russian interceptors and not US weapons." As we have said before, the large number of recorded explosions indicates that these were submunitions from a missile with a cluster munition warhead. The debris of an anti-aircraft missile found nearby only confirms the Russian MoD's account that the missile deviated from its trajectory and exploded in the air over the beach due to an interception.