November 13, 2023

Sitrep for Nov. 10-13, 2023 (as of 9 a.m. UTC+3)

Ukrainian and Russian Strikes and Sabotage Acts

Ukrainian unmanned surface vessels attacked Russian landing craft in Vuzka Bay, near the village of Chornomorske in Crimea. According to a statement from the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, the vessels were equipped with 9K330 Tor SAM systems, which have been increasingly installed on Russian ships after the sinking of the Moskva cruiser, and transported BTR-82A armored personnel carriers. Naval OSINT analyst H. I. Sutton identified the vessels as the Project 11770 Serna-class and Project 1176 Ondatra-class landing crafts. According to the MID, both vessels have been sunk.

A new report indicates that two additional individuals were killed in the Sept. 13 strike on the Rostov-on-Don submarine in Sevastopol. Shoulder patches found on the graves of Nikita Sheiko and Andrey Krasnoyarov suggest that they served on the submarine and were likely on board at the time of the strike, along with other injured and deceased crew members.

Eight people were killed, and another 10 injured following the Nov. 10 strike on Skadovsk, according to the VChK-OGPU Telegram channel. Due to difficulties in identifying the bodies, the exact number of casualties has yet to be determined and may well increase to 10. According to pro-Russian sources, the target of the strike was the Military Investigation Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation. Two military police personnel are among the wounded, while the acting head of this branch of the Military Investigation Department and two officers are believed to have been killed.

On Nov. 11, in the occupied city of Melitopol, Ukrainian saboteurs reportedly caused an explosion at the Rosgvardia headquarters, the Russian National Guard, which was located in a Nova Poshta [postal service] facility. It is reported that three Rosgvardia officers were killed in the explosion.

During the night of Nov. 11, in Kolomna, Moscow region, reports indicate that Russian air defenses shot down a drone. The presumed target was the Bureau of Engineering Design, responsible for developing various missile components.

Early in the morning on Nov. 11, a sabotage operation took place on railway tracks in the Ryazan region, less than 200 km from Moscow. This marked an unprecedented event in such close proximity to the capital. 19 freight train cars derailed following the explosion on the railway tracks, the sound of a powerful explosion can be heard in the video. Seven train cars were transporting ammonium nitrate, while the contents of the others remain unknown.

On Nov. 11, a fire broke out at a gunpowder manufacturing plant in Kotovsk, Tambov region. Since this is the second such incident (four people were killed and twelve were injured in a fire in June), many journalists suspect an act of sabotage. The Ukrainian side did not claim responsibility for the incident. It is possible that the fire resulted from negligence, as Russian authorities have introduced a three-shift (or two 12-hour shift) work schedule without days off, to expedite manufacturing in military production facilities.

New photos have emerged showing the aftermath of strikes on the bridge over the Sukhi Yaly River. Despite several missile strikes, the bridge is still standing. Such bridges are challenging targets for aircraft, as they are practically impossible to destroy with missile strikes—only high-precision heavy air-dropped bombs can achieve such results.

Ukrainian forces attacked a column of Russian military trucks in the village of Hladkivka in the Kherson region using HIMARS MLRS rockets. A Ukrainian drone provided firing directions: first, the head of the column was hit, followed by the destruction of the tail. The attack induced panic among Russian military personnel, causing them to disperse in the surviving vehicles. Ammunition detonated in one of the trucks, while the third strike was launched on the remaining vehicles. A video of the aftermath of the strikes shows the bodies of KIAs and potentially WIAs. It is claimed that up to 25 people were killed, with approximately 20 more injured, and up to 16 vehicles were destroyed.

This attack became possible, in part, because Ukrainian drones can penetrate deep into the rear of the RuAF. According to some pro-Russian bloggers, this is attributed to the inadequacy of Russian electronic warfare.

Frontline Situation Update

Over the weekend, fighting continued on the Kherson axis in the areas of Poima, Pishchanivka and Pidstepne. There are speculations that the goal of the AFU on the left bank of the Dnipro River is to cut off the M-14 highway in the vicinity of its intersection with the M-17 highway near Poima. The M-14 highway is a belt road, running parallel to the frontline, and is of paramount importance for supplying Russian forces in Kakhovka. To achieve the mentioned objective, it is sufficient to bring it under fire control.

Fighting in the village of Krynky continues with mixed success, which has led to a renewed discussion in pro-Russian Telegram channels about the use of elite Russian units as assault infantry. In this case, the 10th Spetsnaz [Special Purpose] Brigade was deployed for frontal attacks, with reports of marines being redeployed to the area. Sometimes, the cause for such irrational actions lies in the blind execution of orders, while at other times, it stems from the desire to make a name for oneself by achieving some success, even at the cost of serious losses.

It is worth noting that elite Russian units have not been used for their intended purpose from the start of the full-scale invasion, resulting in heavy losses. Since then, they have been replenished by draftees and can only be considered elite on paper.

In the Avdiivka direction, by the end of last week, Russian forces had made some progress near the railway to the north of the town. Russian troops entered Stepove, but were unable to establish a foothold there, coming under fire from the AFU.

According to many analysts, the muddy season will bring an end to the Ukrainian offensive. Fresh footage from the frontline shows that the muddy season is in full swing. We expect that little will change on the frontline before the end of the year, despite President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s statements about his intention to continue the offensive. Most likely, in the near future, both sides will concentrate on strikes at rear targets with missiles or drones: with Ukraine focusing on diversions using, among other things, unmanned surface vessels, while Russia is likely to launch a new strike campaign against Ukraine's energy infrastructure.

Last week, we published photos of a Pantsir-series SAM system set up on a concrete tower east of the village of Kapustino in the Moscow region, captured by one of our readers. Radio Liberty discovered another air defense system north of Moscow at a reclaimed solid domestic waste ground in Dolgoprudny. In our opinion, these satellite images show a two-track arctic TOR-M2 DT surface-to-air missile system. Additionally, another air defense system of the Pantsir-S family was stationed in Sochi, almost directly on the beach.

Air defense system north of Moscow.
TOR-M2 DT surface-to-air missile systems.

Footage of the first Lancet loitering munition, reportedly equipped with a thermal camera, has been released. These improved drones could now be used to conduct nighttime strikes.

Photos of 120mm mortar rounds, presumably of North Korean origin, in service with the RuAF, have emerged. It is unclear on what grounds the conclusion was drawn that they were specifically produced in the DPRK. Unfortunately, the experts whose opinions we usually rely on have ceased their work.

Western Assistance

Spokesman of the Air Force Command of the AFU Yurii Ihnat has revealed that Ukraine will soon receive a third battalion of the Patriot surface-to-air missile system. A typical air defense system includes several components, such as ground surveillance radars, launchers and guided missile transporters. Each Patriot system battalion consists of 4 to 6 batteries, and each battery includes six launchers, totaling 24 to 36 launchers.

Lithuania has transferred two NASAMS surface-to-air missile launchers to Ukraine.

Thirty thousand Ukrainian military personnel have reportedly completed training in the United Kingdom, seven weeks earlier than originally planned.

According to the Norwegian Minister of Defense, in 2024 the country will spend over 1 billion Norwegian Kroner [$90 million] on training Ukrainian military personnel. As of today, Norwegian instructors are training Ukrainian soldiers at a base in Germany.

Last week, our sitreps covered the protests of mobilized soldiers’ family members during a rally organized by the Russian Communist Party in Moscow and Russian spin doctors’ response thereto. A similar rally of mobilized soldiers’ families in Krasnoyarsk has not been given a green light by the local administration under the pretext of coronavirus restrictions, although the said restrictions did not hinder public celebrations on National Unity Day on Nov. 4.

The issue of personnel shortage presents challenges for both parties in the conflict. Ukraine has also witnessed rallies and protests organized by soldiers’ family members demanding leaves and rotation for their loved ones.

The Washington Post and Der Spiegel jointly published an article on the sabotage of the Nord Stream gas pipelines. According to sources among Ukrainian and European officials, AFU Colonel Roman Chervinsky played a pivotal role in organizing the explosions. He coordinated the logistics of the operation and commanded a squad of six people who, using false documents, rented a yacht and, with the help of deep-sea equipment, placed explosive devices on the pipeline. Allegedly, Chervinsky reported to individuals accountable to General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, Commander-in-Chief of the AFU. Furthermore, reports indicate that Dutch intelligence possessed information about plans to sabotage the gas pipelines, and the CIA warned the Ukrainian side to refrain from such actions. Despite these warnings, the pipelines were blown up three months later. Zaluzhnyi and Zelenskyy, however, denied Ukraine's involvement in the incident.

Currently, Chervinsky is held in a Ukrainian pre-trial detention center on charges of abuse of authority in another special operation. Presumably, without his command's approval, he attempted to persuade a Russian Aerospace Forces pilot to defect to the AFU in July 2022. During his conversation with the Russian pilot, he disclosed the coordinates of the Ukrainian Kanatove airport in the Kirovohrad region. The airport was subsequently attacked, resulting in one person killed and seventeen injured. Chervinsky claims that he did not carry out this operation without permission, but rather followed the orders of the command. His detention is attributed to his criticism of Zelenskyy and individuals around him whom he accused of working for Russia.

Our team has launched a Telegram channel, managed by volunteers under the guidance of a full-time editor. The channel is dedicated to providing summaries of strikes on civilian infrastructure.

  • Kherson region: on the night of Nov. 10 to 11, as a result of artillery shelling in the village of Antonivka, one elderly man was killed, and another one was injured. On Nov. 12, in the Dniprovskyi district of the city of Kherson, an elderly man was killed, while his wife was sent to a hospital in moderately severe condition.
  • Donetsk region: on Nov. 11, as a result of shelling in the town of Toretsk, two people were killed. On Nov. 12, in the village of Minkivka, Bakhmut district, a civilian was killed.
  • Sumy region: on Nov. 11, as a result of a strike on the highway between the villages of Stara Huta and Nova Huta, two civilians riding a motorcycle were killed.
  • Zaporizhzhia region: on Nov. 10, as a result of shelling in the village of Mala Tokmachka, a married couple was hit: the husband was killed, and the wife was sent to a hospital.
  • The occupied part of the Donetsk region: on Nov. 11, as a result of a strike on the city of Donetsk, a man was killed in the Kirovskyi district, and a woman was wounded in the Kuibyshevskyi district. In addition, on Nov. 11, a woman was killed as a result of a strike on the city of Horlivka. On Nov. 12, another woman was killed as a result of a strike on the Petrovskyi district of Donetsk.