November 22, 2023

Sitrep for Nov. 20-22, 2023 (as of 9 a.m. UTC+3)

Frontline Situation Update

Videos documenting the challenges posed by the muddy season continue to emerge:

  • A Canadian Roshel Senator armored car struggles to navigate a sloppy dirt road;
  • A Turkish BMC Kirpi MRAP gets stuck in the mud;
  • A US-made HMMWV narrowly avoids submerging in slush.

The Chinese Desertcross 1000-3 all-terrain vehicles, purchased by the Russian Armed Forces, are not only incapable of crossing muddy terrain but are likely to get stuck while reaching it, unlike the armored vehicles mentioned above, which are capable of crossing such terrain.

The onset of the muddy season leads to a decrease in combat operations, prompting both sides to shift their focus to attacking the enemy’s rear.

A video filmed by a Russian soldier in an industrial area near Avdiivka has recently surfaced, depicting the operator amidst ruins (where fighting has persisted since 2015) with sounds of ongoing combat activities in the background. However, the video does not confirm any Russian advancement; the area is likely still contested.

Another video has emerged showing the use of incendiary cluster munitions, allegedly in Avdiivka. Although it cannot be geolocated, such munitions have been previously recorded being used within that area numerous times.

Russia’s Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu reported that the RuAF had successfully repelled Ukrainian attacks on the left bank of the Dnipro during a meeting of the MoD’s Collegium. However, his statements are contradicted by a video showing air-dropped FAB-500 bombs with Universal Gliding and Correction Modules (UMPKs) striking the village of Krynky in the Kherson region, unequivocally indicating that at least part of the village is currently under Ukrainian control. Similarly, the number of Ukrainians losses mentioned in Shoigu’s report, like previous official statements made by the Russian MoD on the subject, appears to be far from reality. It is impossible for losses sustained by Ukraine on the left bank of the Dnipro in one month to exceed those sustained during the entire Ukrainian summer offensive.

Ukrainian and Russian Strikes

On Nov. 19, the AFU allegedly launched five HIMARS MLRS rockets at the village of Kumachove in the Starobesheve district of the Donetsk region. The village is a little over 60km away from the nearest AFU positions, which is within HIMARS range. The rockets hit a school and the House of Culture, with military personnel reportedly present at the time. Photos of three bodies dressed in what appears to be camouflage attire have been published; however, we are currently unable to assert that these pictures were taken at the site of this particular strike.

The actress Polina Menshikh was giving a concert in honor of the Russian Missile Troops and Artillery Day at the time of the strike. A video of the moment of impact has been published on a pro-Russian Telegram channel. The video shows a large number of military personnel in attendance before the sounds of incoming rockets can be heard. The video ends with photos of the aftermath of the strike. Reports indicate that Menshikh was killed in the attack. According to Ukrainian officer Robert “Madyar” Brovdi, the strike resulted in 25 Russian soldiers killed and over 100 wounded. Brovdi also claimed that the soldiers killed were marines belonging to the 810th Brigade, which is surprising since, as far as we are aware, they are currently deployed on the Kherson axis. However, it is possible that some of them did attend the concert.

Sergey Lezhnyov, an advisor to the governor of the Oryol region, published a photo report detailing his trip to Kreminna on Nov. 14 to deliver aid to Russian positions. The geolocation of these photos was easily identified, and on Nov. 15, those exact positions were hit. During this period, Lezhnyov revisited the positions and promptly shared photos of the attack site, allowing the AFU to adjust their subsequent strikes, as noted by the pro-Russian military correspondent Romanov.

On the night of Nov. 21, Russian forces launched a missile strike on multiple settlements in the Donetsk region. In the town of Selydove, two missiles hit a building complex housing the city hospital, resulting in damage to three medical facilities. Currently, authorities have confirmed one fatality and eight injuries, with rubble still being cleared. The attack is alleged to have been executed using S-300 surface-to-air missiles. Given the extensive destruction observed, it is possible that a more powerful weapon might have been involved.

Western Assistance

On Nov. 20, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin visited Kyiv, demonstrating the United States' commitment to the ongoing support for Ukraine. During his visit, he announced an additional military aid package, part of the presidential initiative, directly drawn from US Army reserves, amounting to $100 million. The package includes:

  • One High Mobility Artillery Rocket System and additional ammunition;
  • 155mm and 105mm artillery rounds;
  • Stinger anti-aircraft missiles;
  • Javelin and AT-4 anti-armor systems;
  • Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked, Wire-Guided missiles;
  • More than 3 million rounds of small arms ammunition;
  • Demolition munitions for obstacle clearing;
  • Cold weather gear;
  • Spare parts, maintenance and other ancillary equipment.

This allocation is smaller in comparison to previous packages, potentially reflecting a decrease in combat operations.

On Nov. 21, in honor of the 10th anniversary of the Maidan Revolution, Kyiv was visited by German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, President of the European Council Charles Michel and President of Moldova Maia Sandu. They emphasized that they see Ukraine as a future member of the European Union and the European Council.

Pistorius also announced a new military aid package worth €1.3 billion, including:

  • 4 IRIS-T air defense systems;
  • 20,000 155mm artillery rounds;
  • various anti-tank weapons.

It is worth noting that Germany is the second-largest supplier of military aid to Ukraine after the United States.

In our previous sitrep, we mentioned that Ukrainian forces have resumed using Tochka and Tochka-U missiles, confirming our working hypothesis that Ukraine was able to repair missiles previously considered beyond repair. Rybar, a prominent pro-Russian Telegram channel/analyst, claims that Ukraine obtained these missiles from Armenia. We find this unlikely, as Armenia itself is in desperate need of such weapons due to constant threats from Azerbaijan. The Ministry of Defense of Armenia denies supplying missiles to Ukraine.

In early November, Andrey Lazhiev, a conscript soldier from Russia’s constituent republic of Karelia, died in a Sevastopol hospital. Lazhiev had been deployed to Crimea after taking the military oath. He later arrived at the hospital in a fatigued state with visible signs of beatings. Lazhiev’s parents were not allowed to see him, and following his death from cerebral edema, they were not given his body. The cause of death was attributed to “Ulysses Syndrome.” Lazhiev's father stated that his son was repeatedly offered a contract with the Ministry of Defense, but turned it down. We suspect that he may have suffered severe physical abuse as a result of his refusal.

A 23-year-old Moscow resident committed suicide at a shooting range. Before his death, he wrote to friends that he had received a summons but did not want to join the army.

The Moscow Times, citing its sources, reports that since Yevgeny Prigozhin, the deceased owner of the Wagner Group, had patrons in the A Just Russia party, he may have had a plan to attend a State Duma [lower house of the Russian Federal Assembly] session against the will of its speaker, Vyacheslav Volodin, accompanied by General Sergei Surovikin, former commander of Russia's Joint Forces Group in Ukraine, and announce the real number of losses sustained by the RuAF during the session. In this way he wanted to attract the attention of Putin, who had stopped receiving him, but in the end, he abandoned this plan.

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