October 27, 2023

Sitrep for Oct. 25-27, 2023 (as of 11 a.m.)

Frontline Situation Update

The Russian Armed Forces continue to make gains in the Avdiivka direction. Russian soldiers have managed to progress north of Avdiivka, near the town of Krasnohorivka, seizing the spoil tip and gaining control over the railroad. Pro-Russian claims regarding the significance of this recent advance, with the capture of the spoil tip now granting Russian forces crucial tactical higher ground, seem somewhat overstated. The spoil tip is a relatively low man-made mound devoid of vegetation. Its height, in our view, does not provide any significant advantage, as almost all units are already equipped with reconnaissance drones. Moreover, any positions on the spoil tip will immediately become targets for enemy’s mortars or other types of weaponry.

Likewise, the narrowing of the corridor supplying the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Avdiivka, from 9 km to 7 km, also does not appear to be of great consequence, as this supply route was regularly shelled by Russian mortars even when it was wider.

We consider it premature to assert that the supply route to Avdiivka could soon be cut off. Should Russian forces be able to further advance in this area, they will soon reach the Avdiivka Coke Plant, likely boasting multiple underground levels. This scenario would lead the RuAF into a battle stretching over many weeks, although this plant is less extensive than the Azovstal Steel Factory in Mariupol, which Russian forces were able to capture only after lengthy negotiations and the surrender of the Azov Regiment fighters.

Should the plant be captured, it will become impossible to use the only paved road slightly south of it to supply Avdiivka. However, by that time, the ground will likely freeze, and the AFU will then be able to use dirt roads through the fields. Although, in our opinion, it would be most reasonable for the AFU to withdraw from Avdiivka if Russian forces occupy the plant, it is not impossible that, as with Bakhmut, a decision to hold on until the end may be made.

Previously, we assumed that there might still be civilians in Avdiivka. However, this fact has now been confirmed by Iryna Vereshchuk, the Minister of Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine, who stated that there are still around a thousand civilians there. This is also acknowledged by Russian propaganda media, which is urging not to spare the civilians who remain in Avdiivka. On that subject, the UNIAN Ukrainian news portal released a video of an elderly woman currently residing there. Another video featuring Avdiivka's civilians seeking humanitarian aid has also been published.

On Oct. 25, an attack occurred on an AFU ammunition storage facility near the village of Tsvitokha in the Slavuta district of the Khmelnytskyi region. Secondary detonations could be heard in a video from the scene, and NASA's FIRMS satellite imagery confirms the impact on this storage facility.

On Oct. 26, the VChK-OGPU Telegram channel reported ATACMS tactical ballistic missile strikes on S-400 SAM systemsin the Luhansk region. However, no visual or other evidence was provided. Additionally, video footage that could not be geolocated of an alleged missile strike, which many are linking to the reports of the ATACMS strikes in the outskirts of Luhansk, has surfaced. However, there is no certainty regarding the authenticity of these claims.

Furthermore, on Oct. 25, debris from an ATACMS missile was discovered in the Lutuhyne district of the Luhansk region, even though as far as we know, there were no reports of a strike in that area.

Western Assistance

The Chair of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization military committee, Dutch Admiral Rob Bauer, emphasized the necessity of establishing a unified standard for 155mm artillery ammunition. He also expressed concerns about compatibility issues between artillery shells and guns from various countries, drawing parallels between the business models of weapons manufacturers and those of companies producing printers and ink cartridges.

The issue stems from the fact that, although such a standard existed during the Cold War (the American M107 projectile from World War II), NATO member countries diverged from it after the Cold War ended. They began producing artillery rounds of the same caliber but with various new long-range modifications and extended barrels. This divergence has resulted in most modern NATO guns requiring unique artillery range tables (data books that provide aiming instructions for accurate firing) for each type of 155mm shell produced by different countries. Before Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, this problem was less critical, because, in local conflicts, each country could supply its artillery with a limited number of specific rounds without problems. However, this situation now affects not only the firing accuracy but can also be fraught with premature failure of the gun. For example, Ukrainian Panzerhaubitze 2000 self-propelled gun crews reportedly encountered this problem after firing US-made artillery shells.

According to Bloomberg, the European Union is falling behind on its plans to supply Ukraine with a million artillery rounds by March 2024. Currently, only a third of the planned deliveries have been fulfilled, and there is a risk of missing the deadline due to the large volume of contracts. This concern was also voiced by Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, who pointed out that while the EU has provided Ukraine with 300,000 rounds, North Korea has delivered 350,000 rounds to Russia.

Die Welt reports that Rheinmetall, the German automotive and arms manufacturer, has received an order from the Bundeswehr for the production of 333,000 rounds of 155mm caliber ammunition by 2029. This order is stated to be for Rheinmetall itself and purportedly for the AFU. However, the company has raised the price for each round in the contract by one and a half times. In our opinion, the introduction of this standardized type of ammunition due to competition will eventually lead to a decrease in their cost.

Given the lengthy lead times and relatively small quantities, we regard such promises with a degree of skepticism. As experience has shown, even the most specific delivery deadlines can be subject to changes.

Denmark has pledged a new aid package to Ukraine worth $520 million. It will include the following:

  • T-72 tanks;
  • BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles;
  • artillery shells;
  • drones;
  • small arms;
  • armored recovery vehicles.

Furthermore, Denmark has supported the European Union's project for the joint procurement of artillery ammunition (the above mentioned million rounds by March 2024).

The US Department of Defense has announced additional security assistance to meet Ukraine’s critical security and defense needs. The capabilities in this package, valued at up to $150 million, include:

  • Additional munitions for National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS);
  • AIM-9M missiles for air defense (which Ukraine is now capable of converting into surface-to-air missiles);
  • Stinger anti-aircraft missiles;
  • Additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS);
  • 155mm and 105mm artillery rounds;
  • Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked, Wire-Guided (TOW) missiles;
  • Javelin anti-armor systems;
  • More than 2 million rounds of small arms ammunition;
  • Night vision devices;
  • Demolitions munitions for obstacle clearing;
  • Cold weather gear; and
  • Spare parts, maintenance and other ancillary equipment.

Mike Johnson, a Republican who had previously opposed providing further aid to Ukraine, has been elected as the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. It remains to be seen whether any difficulties arise in coordinating new aid packages.

The situation in Nagorno-Karabakh has raised questions about the presence of the Russian military base in Armenia. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Armenia's Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has stated that he sees no benefits to the continued presence of any Russian military base in Armenia, as Russia has failed to fulfill its alliance commitments.

The new Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico has announced that his country will no longer offer military aid to Ukraine and that negotiations are needed to achieve peace. According to him, even if peace talks take ten years, it would be better than to go on killing each other. To date, Slovakia transferred an S-300 SAM system, Zuzana-2 howitzers, Mil Mi-17 helicopters, and all of the country’s 13 MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine.

Two weeks ago we wrote about convoys of tanks equipped with mine plows heading towards the Ukrainian border. We postulate that Russia possesses many more mine plows than other countries. Likely to address this problem, the Metinvest group headed by Ukrainian billionaire Rinat Akhmetov started producing mine plows analogous to the Russian KMT-7 model. Starting soon, the enterprise will deliver up to 5 mine plows monthly.

In our last sitrep, we told of emerging confirmations of a Russian helicopter being shot down by friendly fire. We have now found obituaries for two of the three crew members who were killed: Major Grigoriy Azanov and Aleksey Kontievsky.


Friendly fire episodes by Russian air defense have been rather frequent. This could possibly be related to the fact that lacking precision weapons, Russian military aircraft are forced to fly near the line of contact thereby increasing their risk of coming under friendly fire. It could also be related to Russian air defense crews not having sufficient qualifications.

The gun-identification analyst known as Calibre Obscura has announced that he is ceasing operations and deleting the account. In addition to the fact that open data analytics often turns from a hobby to an unpaid job, the results of his work were often stolen, published and presented as someone else's work. Furthermore, in his opinion, a significant portion of the audience is not interested in objectivity but only seeks investigations into the actions of the opposing side.

This wave of analysts quitting in recent months is further complicated by the fact that after Elon Musk took over Twitter, the tools that once allowed content archiving stopped working.

The New York Times investigated the strike on a hospital in the Gaza Strip. While the most plausible version remains the misfiring of a rocket fired from Gaza toward Israel, a video from Al Jazeera’s broadcast, which many have cited as confirmation, shows a different Israeli anti-missile rocket exploding in a different location unrelated to the hospital courtyard damage. Supporting the version that a Palestinian missile struck the hospital courtyard is the fact that only a very small crater was left at the site of the impact. Additionally, Hamas refused to provide debris for analysis, claiming that “the missile dissolved like salt in water,” which is practically impossible.