October 9, 2023

Sitrep for Oct. 6-9, 2023 (as of 9 a.m.)

Israel-Hamas War 

Currently, our team is fully engaged in reporting on the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian war, and we are not in a position to offer expert commentary on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While we firmly stand in support of Israel, we also strongly condemn any insensitivity or disregard for Israeli civilian casualties exhibited by the pro-Russian blogger community. There can be no justification for acts of terrorism.

Strikes on Ukrainian Territory

After our previous sitrep was recorded, another resident of the village of Hroza in the Kharkiv region died in the hospital due to a Russian strike on a cafe-shop on Oct. 5. Consequently, the death toll resulting from this strike has now reached 52.

Additionally, it turned out that during an attack on the city of Kharkiv on Oct. 6, reportedly involving two 9K720 Iskander mobile short-range ballistic missiles, not only was a 10-year-old boy killed, but also his 67-year-old grandmother. It is noteworthy that no military facilities are visible in the photos taken at the site of the strike.

On Oct. 6, the Rostec state corporation announced the transfer of a batch of new 2S40 Floks self-propelled mortar systems to the Russian Armed Forces. Shortly thereafter, a video emerged showing an FPV kamikaze drone striking such a vehicle. While the video's quality permits the identification of the vehicle, it is impossible to assess the aftermath as the recording ends before the moment of the strike. It is worth noting that the 2S40 Floks mortar system may look similar to the Western FH77 BW L52 Archer or the Ukrainian 22S2 Bohdana wheeled self-propelled howitzers. However, the Russian SPH has a 120mm gun, which renders it less long-range and powerful compared to the abovementioned Archer and Bohdana SPHs equipped with 155mm guns. Nevertheless, an advantage of the 2S40 Floks 120mm system is its capability to fire both shells and mines.

A Ukrainian drone filmed a Russian 2S19 Msta-S 152mm self-propelled howitzer firing a 2K25 Krasnopol laser-guided artillery shell. As such shells are equipped with a bottom gas generator, a smoke trail can be seen in the video. It is worth noting that the RuAF used a VAZ-2121 Niva SUV to transport the ammunition to the SPH. The 2K25 Krasnopol laser-guided artillery shell is a high-precision munition, which makes it somewhat comparable to the M982 Excalibur extended-range guided artillery shell. According to our observations, 2K25 Krasnopol artillery shells are currently used much less frequently than FAB air-dropped bombs with UMPK [Universal Gliding and Correction Module], likely due to the latter‘s lower production cost.

On Oct. 6, Russian air defense once again shot down a Russian aircraft, although its model was not specified. According to the pro-Russian Telegram channel Fighterbomber, which is associated with the Russian Air and Space Force, the crew survived.

A video has been published, filmed by a teenager who was blown up by a DPICM submunition in the city of Horlivka, Donetsk region, on Oct. 5. In the video, he can be seen up close, handling an unexploded submunition. It is crucial to emphasize that touching or attempting any manipulation with unexploded submunitions is extremely dangerous, and such actions should be avoided at all costs.

Western Assistance

Sweden will send a new military aid package worth $200 million to Ukraine, consisting mainly of ammunition and spare parts to earlier donated systems, Pål Henning Jonson, Swedish Minister for Defense, said. This is vital for Ukraine because, as mentioned multiple times (even though the transfer of ATACMS or Taurus missiles will significantly strengthen the AFU), it is essential not to overlook the need to replenish stocks of other ammunition in the ongoing war of attrition.

Furthermore, Jonson stated that Sweden is considering transferring JAS 39 Gripen fighter jets to Ukraine, but such a transfer would only be possible when Sweden becomes a full member of NATO.

Russia appointed head of the Zaporizhzhia region Yevhen Balytskyi has declared that starting from 2024, "more severe measures will be taken to ensure that only Russian citizens reside in our territory." According to him, receiving medical care with a Ukrainian passport will only be possible until the New Year.

Based on open sources, Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] in collaboration with BBC News Russian and a team of volunteers, have verified the identities of 33,904 Russian fighters killed in Ukraine. It is worth noting that no updates regarding casualties with the rank of lieutenant colonel or higher have emerged over the past two weeks. Therefore, there is currently no confirmation that any high-ranking officers were killed in the recent strike on the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet, the Minsk large landing ship, or the Rostov-on-Don submarine. Nevertheless, it remains plausible that their identities may surface in due course.

The Mozhem Ob'yasnit [We Can Explain] Telegram channel has found that the heads of seven Russian regions have established their own awards intended for the war participants and supporting organizations. However, it has been discovered that governors hand out these medals and bonus payments to their advisers and bloggers. For example, Governor of the Chelyabinsk region Aleksey Teksler awarded the "For Courage and Valor" medal to milblogger Yury Podolyaka, who compiles military briefs from the comfort of his own home.

In recent months, we have observed multiple, though not always successful, attacks on the Crimean Bridge. These attacks managed to disrupt traffic across the bridge, especially the railway, but only for a few hours. Satellite images have emerged showing that the span damaged in the last successful attack has been repaired. Additionally, the images reveal cables stretched between barges, possibly serving as a barrier against maritime surface drones.

There have been no official confirmations regarding the transfer of ATACMS tactical ballistic missiles to Ukraine. However, information from various sources suggests that ATACMS missiles with cluster warheads will be supplied, which cannot cause any harm to structures like the bridge. Furthermore, in anticipation of potential supply disruptions, the Russian side is constructing railway and road connections from the Rostov region to the city of Mariupol, as previously reported.

The Beyond Parallel project, citing satellite images, reports that cargo transportation between North Korea and Russia has significantly increased following the meeting between Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin. On Oct. 5, a record number of freight cars, at least 73, was recorded at the Tumangang Rail Facility. For comparison, in the past five years, there have never been more than 20 cars at this rail facility simultaneously.

CBS News, citing unnamed American officials, reports that North Korea has initiated the transportation of certain artillery-related items to Russia. We believe that this may pertain to individual artillery components, such as barrels or ammunition, rather than complete artillery systems.

Last year, there were several reports suggesting that the special forces of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine attempted to seize the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. However, we deemed these reports unreliable since, even if the attacks were successful, it would have been impossible to maintain control over the captured power plant without the presence of heavy armored vehicles. Later, videos of raids across the Dnipro River were published, which we believed to be evidence of sabotage attacks similar to those carried out by the Ukrainian soldiers on the left bank of the Dnipro near the city of Kherson.

Kyrylo Budanov, Chief of the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine's Ministry of Defense, admitted in an interview on Oct. 9, 2023, that special forces made three unsuccessful attempts to capture Enerhodar and the ZNPP. In August 2022, Ukrainian special forces crossed the Kakhovka Reservoir in the vicinity of Enerhodar using high-speed boats in an effort to establish a bridgehead on the left bank to facilitate the city's liberation and take control of the ZNPP. According to Budanov, at that time the Main Intelligence Directorate lacked experience in conducting such operations, and without sufficient artillery support, the special forces were unable to establish a bridgehead and retreated. Subsequently, the Main Intelligence Directorate made two more attempts to land on the left bank, involving hundreds of personnel in one of the efforts. During the third landing, the Russians deployed heavy military vehicles, including tanks, on the left bank, and the Ukrainian special forces again failed to establish a bridgehead and had to retreat. Budanov emphasized that despite the operations' failures, the experience gained proved to be valuable.

We are uncertain about the rationale behind the recent actions of the Main Intelligence Directorate. As previously mentioned, there was a peculiar landing in Crimea recently, seemingly aimed solely at capturing footage of the Ukrainian flag in shallow waters. Additionally, in late September, CNN reported that the Main Intelligence Directorate special forces were involved in attacks on groups affiliated with the Wagner Group in Sudan. Subsequently, video evidence of these attacks was released in early October.