October 17, 2022

Sitrep for October 16-17 (as of 13:00)

Russian attacks on Ukrainian cities

On the night and morning of October 17, many attacks with Shahed-136 loitering munitions were reported in different regions of Ukraine, including Kyiv, which was affected quite badly. Despite the fact that the drones mainly targeted infrastructure facilities (for example, the office of Ukraine’s national energy company NPC Ukrenerho), residential buildings were also hit. 18 people were rescued from one of them, two people remain under the rubble. There is information about killed civilians. We do not know if the attacks on residential buildings were intentional or accidental.

During the night, Ukrainian forces reportedly shot down 26 kamikaze drones, but others reached their targets. The question of the number of Shahed-136 UAVs at the disposal of the RF Armed Forces also remains open, considering the fact that dozens of such drones are used for attacks every day.

According to the head of the Mykolaiv regional military administration Vitalii Kim, loitering munitions hit a warehouse of an industrial enterprise in the Mykolaiv region. As a result, a fire broke out, sunflower oil tanks and an office of a pharmaceutical company caught fire.

Besides, some areas of the Odesa, Dnipropetrovsk and Sumy regions were under attack. Energy facilities and critical infrastructure facilities were hit, there are victims.

On October 16, more than 40 Russian shells hit Nikopol, wounding a 47-year-old man.

In Bakhmut, which is now actually on the frontline, a rocket hit a residential house, and some people were killed. Even though obligatory evacuation has been declared in the area for a long time, there are still civilians in Bakhmut.

The situation on the frontline

Def Mon analyst reports unsuccessful Russian attacks in the Donetsk direction and on the Bakhmut-Soledar line. According to FIRMS satellite images of the fires, fighting continues, but without much progress.

There are reports that the lull in the Kherson direction could be connected with changes in weather conditions - heavy rains began. Our team supposes that this hypothesis might be correct.

Ukrainian attacks

The Russian side claimed that the Donetsk city administration was hit, and there were two casualties. They claim that the attack was carried out by HIMARS multiple launch rocket system, but without evidence. The pictured shell fragments are very difficult to identify (but this time the military was able to photograph them correctly in situ).

Since city administration buildings tend to also contain military authorities, they are considered legitimate military targets, and thus, we are of the opinion that it was a deliberate attack.

Having geolocated the previous day’s video that was filmed near the Belgorod airport, investigators have come to a conclusion that the missile most likely hit a Pantsir air defense system. The extent of the damage is unknown.

Remains of AGM-88 HARM anti-radiation missiles have already been found in the Belgorod region earlier.

Video of a hit, presumably, by a GMLRS rocket on Russian positions was published.

Russian forces began utilizing Geran-1 kamikaze drones. These are Shahed-131 loitering munitions that look very similar to Geran-2 (Shared-136), but are significantly smaller. They can be differentiated by its engine, which is a lot smaller in Shahed-131, and by some elements of the frame – Shahed-136’s warhead (around 50 kg) extends past the triangle-shaped hull.

Western intelligence came to a conclusion that Iran is preparing to give Russia two types of ballistic missiles: Fateh-110 (range of 300 km) and Zolfaghar (range of 700 km).

In terms of their specifications, these missiles are similar to Russia’s Iskanders (including the weight of the warhead) and have circular error probables (CEP) of around 15 m. We consider the shipment of these Iranian ballistic missiles to be another evidence that the supply of Iskanders is running out   (except for the emergency reserves). It should also be noted that it’s been a long time since we have seen any use of Tochka-U missiles by separatists or Russian forces.

Distinguished arms control expert (nuclear weapons included) Jeffrey Lewis believes that it makes no sense not to arm Ukraine with ATACMS missiles.

Israel’s Minister of Diaspora Affairs Nachman Shai upon receiving the news about Iranian intention to supply Russia with ballistic missiles noted that it is time for Israel to join Ukraine's most active allies and start aiding the country’s efforts along with the US and NATO countries.

We believe Israel could theoretically provide Ukraine with IAI Harop loitering munitions, but we find this unlikely as Russia still has leverage over Israel. For example, there are Israeli non-profit organizations still operating in Russia, which can be closed. There is also behind-the-scenes diplomacy and tacit deals ensuring that geographical influence of the Iranians in Syria will not spread anywhere near the Golan Heights, guaranteed by Russia.

So, since the supply of Iranian ballistic missiles to Russia does not threaten the security of Israel, we do not expect it to answer with supply of any modern powerful weapons to Ukraine.

Spain joins the supply of air defense systems to Ukraine and transfers the 1989 model Hawk SAM system, which is an approximate analogue of the 2К12 Kub and S-125 systems.

According to French Minister of the Armed Forces Sebastien Lecornu, France will train about 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers. France has also plans to supply Ukraine with 6 more Caesar self-propelled howitzers, Crotale SAM systems and several MLRS.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Burbock assured Ukraine of further military support from Germany and noted that at present supporting Ukrainian air defense is more important than the supply of German tanks.

The outgoing Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, said that Ukraine had asked Germany to create a "European tank alliance" that would allow Ukraine to transfer two hundred Leopard 2 MBTs. We believe that this is not feasible, since as a rule, European countries do not have tanks in storage. A more realistic option would be if Poland ceded its Leopards and received Abrams from the USA, the Leopards would be transferred to whoever wants to switch to them from the T-72, and the T-72s would go to Ukraine, where they are already mastered. Additionally, there are options to pick up the T-72s from Kuwait and Morocco, supplying them with Abrams as well.

A number of countries, including China and Egypt, have urged their citizens to leave Ukraine. We believe that these countries, like Serbia, simply repeated the spring travel alerts to their citizens. There is no reason to believe that this is caused by a new danger.

There are videos showing the movements of Russian forces on the territory of Belarus. We believe that this may be due to a decision to train the mobilized Russians at the training grounds in Belarus. According to the decree of President Putin, the regular autumn draft starts on November 1, during which it is planned to call up 120,000 conscripts. However, at the moment there are no facilities to train them. Training grounds in Russia are now fully packed with 220,000 mobilized soldiers, and some mobilized were sent to training grounds in the occupied territories of Ukraine.

There are some videos showing cargo trains with Belarusian armored vehicles. The Belaruski Hayun project (same as our team) is inclined to believe that the rotation of the Belarusian forces is taking place, and not a preparation for invasion. Other videos show Russian military automotive vehicles (military trucks with soldiers among them), but not armored vehicles. It drastically differs from the January of 2022, when redeployment of armored vehicles and artillery to Belarus had been conducted in order to enable the advance to Kyiv.

The total number of Russian troops at the territory of Belarus will comprise slightly fewer than 9 thousand men.

Zvezda TV channel (state owned) shows how the mobilized are trained at the base of the 61st Separate Naval Infantry Brigade. Training with Gvozdika self-propelled howitzers and DJI drones can be seen. Notably, these drones are not licensed for operating with the State Secrets Department, so officially it's impossible for the army to use them.

Russian MiG-29 fighter jets, which had been based in Millerovo and in Kursk, were redeployed to some other location. We suppose that these jets have not been recommissioned, but relocated as far as possible for safety reasons.