November 10, 2023

Sitrep for Nov. 8-10, 2023 (as of 9:30 a.m. UTC+3)

Russia requested an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Nov. 8 in response to a strike on a building reportedly housing the Department of Labor and Social Protection of the Population in Donetsk. As detailed in the previous sitrep, there is compelling evidence suggesting that the building also housed the Republican Center for Unmanned Systems named after Vladimir Zhoga [a Russian-Ukrainian separatist who commanded the Sparta Battalion, a pro-Russian separatist force that is involved in the war]. On the same day, an obituary for the sapper Yury Volodkevich, who died on the day of the strike in Donetsk, indirectly confirmed the presence of military personnel in the building. It is worth noting that handling explosives correctly is crucial when working with drones, which either drop them on the enemy or function as loitering munitions. Sappers are the best-suited for training others in this regard.

Additionally, pro-Russian journalists identified the chief of the Zhoga Center with the call sign "Inok." He demanded the retrieval of a wounded individual in military uniform. As is often the case, the UN Security Council meeting did not lead to any resolution.

Frontline Situation Update

While there were initial reports of a single armored vehicle crossing the Dnipro River using a Medium Floating Carrier, there is now evidence that it was not an isolated incident. A video filmed near the village of Krynky shows a burning HMMWV armored vehicle in service of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. These pieces of evidence are leading pro-Russian milbloggers to express renewed concerns about a possible AFU offensive on the Kherson axis. Despite ongoing fighting on the left bank of the Dnipro, the frontline remains unchanged.

Ukrainian and Russian Strikes

On the morning of Nov. 10, the AFU launched a missile attack on the occupied town of Skadovsk in the Kherson region. According to Radio Liberty sources, Ukrainians used HIMARS MLRS rockets. The intended target of the strike was presumably a building used as housing by high-ranking Russian officers. According to one account, the building was occupied by officers of the Federal Security Service (FSB), while another version suggests it housed the Military Prosecutor's Office. More precise details  cannot be ascertained until obituaries become available. Petro Andryushchenko, Advisor to the Ukrainian mayor of Mariupol, said that five Russians were killed and 15 others were wounded.

In the occupied town of Oleshky in the Kherson region, a drone filmed a video showing a Ukrainian UAV "lurking" on the roof of a residential building. When a Russian soldier emerged on the roof and approached the drone, it attacked the soldier, resulting in an explosion. The deceased Russian soldier was identified as an FPV drone operator and instructor with the call sign "Scientist."

On Nov. 5, in the village of Nechaeve near Oleshky, Russian soldiers shot two civilians in a residential building’s courtyard. A day later, a 28-year-old serviceman from the Leningrad region, Aleksey Kosenkov, was detained on suspicion of the execution. The motive behind the crime is still unknown.

In the area of Avdiivka, the Russian Armed Forces used munitions containing self-aiming submunitions (SPBE), targeting Ukrainian armored vehicles. While the first instance of such submunitions being used since the start of the full-scale invasion was recorded in July 2022, they had been frequently deployed in Syria before. We believe that the Russian Army has run out of Soviet-made SPBE submunitions, and those used were newly manufactured ones. These submunitions locate a target using its thermal signature while descending with a parachute, detonating in close proximity to the ground and "firing" an explosively formed projectile. SPBE submunitions are delivered to the target via cluster bombs or MLRS rockets equipped with cluster warheads.

On Nov. 8, a Russian missile—allegedly a Kh-31P medium-range supersonic anti-radiation missile—hit the Liberian-flagged KMAX Ruler merchant ship while it was docked in the port of Odesa. As a result, a Ukrainian harbor pilot was killed and three Filipino crew members were injured. The ship's conning tower and radar were damaged by prefabricated fragments.

It is worth noting that an anti-radiation missile explosion, similar to most air defense missiles, does not typically leave a large crater or a hole in a ship’s hull. Instead, it primarily induces a fragmentation effect, distinct from the high-explosive impact caused by air-dropped bombs or artillery shells. In the case of a pronounced high-explosive effect, the pressure from exploding gasses generates a shockwave, causing substantial damage to the target, often resulting in a noticeable crater formed at the impact site (as observed in the aftermath of the recent attack on Odesa). On the contrary, if a fragmentation munition is used, the impact sites are dotted with traces of damage caused by fragments, as seen in the aftermath of the strikes on the Liberian ship or the marketplace in the town of Kostiantynivka in the Donetsk region.

Additionally, there are shaped charge warheads that produce a fast-moving jet of metal capable of penetrating armor. For example, using shaped charge Rocket Propelled Grenades against infantry, as opposed to armored vehicles, is ineffective as the explosion blast travels along the flight path of the grenade, with minimal effects on targets around the sides of the explosion, unless, of course, the exploding munition is a fragmentation device. A reasonably effective countermeasure against shaped charge projectiles is slat armor grids, installed on armored vehicles to protect them against penetrating munitions and drones. They cause the shaped charge to detonate upon hitting the grid, as opposed to the vehicle itself, thereby preventing the weakened metal jet from penetrating a vehicle’s armor.

Another type of warhead is the shaped charge with explosively formed penetrators, found on the self-aiming combat submunitions discussed earlier. These weapons detonate in the air and form an EFP directed towards their target.

While EFPs have less piercing power than penetrative jets, they can travel several meters without losing their shape, rendering slat armors ineffective against them.

A video of the latest iteration of the Lancet loitering munition equipped with such a warhead striking a Bradley IFV was recorded on the Donetsk axis. In the footage, one can clearly distinguish two flashes occurring almost simultaneously: one when the charge explodes approximately 4 meters from the target, and a second when the EFP reaches the armored vehicle.

To the best of our knowledge, the Ukrainian side is currently attempting to build its own version of the Lancet drone. In our assessment, these new drones ought to be equipped with EFPs to realize the greatest effect on the battlefield.

Western Assistance

New Czech BM-21MT Striga 122mm MLRS, resembling the Czechoslovak RM-70 or the Soviet BM-21 Grad MLRS but installed on a modern Tatra Force (815-7) 4x4 chassis, have been delivered to Ukraine.

The United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs has approved a bill aiming to transfer frozen Russian assets to assist Ukraine. If enacted, the bill would mandate the Biden administration to transfer frozen Russian assets to Ukraine and prohibit their return to Russia until reparations are paid to Ukraine.

Slovakia's new government has rejected the 14th military aid package for Ukraine. The previous government proposed to provide an assistance package worth 40.3 million euros, including approximately 4 million 7.62mm rounds, more than 5 thousand 125mm tank rounds, 140 KUB anti-aircraft guided missiles, 8 mortars and 1200 mortar bombs.

In our last sitrep, we mentioned a protest demanding the return of mobilized soldiers home, held by their relatives at a Communist Party of the Russian Federation rally. Russian propaganda has not yet determined its response to this public request. Pro-Russian war correspondent Alexander Sladkov reported that he asked Putin about the fate of mobilized soldiers and found that they would all serve in Ukraine until the end of the "special military operation." He also pointed out that the contracts of volunteer fighters and ex-convicts are becoming indefinite. Anastasia Kashevarova [pro-Russian propagandist and supply volunteer] confirmed that the return of mobilized soldiers home before the end of the war is impossible, but promised to keep fighting for paid leaves and rotation.

According to Dmitry Medvedev, Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Security Council, since the beginning of the year, 410,000 individuals have signed contracts with the Russian Ministry of Defense. It is worth noting that according to earlier reports, the plan was to recruit about 400,000 people. We doubt that this recruitment drive will end anytime soon, and believe that, in reality, significantly fewer volunteer fighters have been enlisted. The aforementioned reports by pro-Russian war correspondents about the shortage of personnel, preventing the granting of leaves and conducting rotations, confirm our assumptions about insufficient recruitment.

Russia is attempting to retrieve helicopter spare parts that it has exported to partners all over the world, including Egypt, Brazil and Pakistan. Allegedly, in April 2022, a Russian delegation held talks in Cairo with the leaders of Egypt on the return of 150 engines for Mil Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters Russia had sold them earlier. According to earlier reports, Egypt planned to supply missiles to Russia but backed down under US pressure.