September 25, 2023

Sitrep for Sept. 22-25, 2023 (as of 9 a.m.)

Frontline Situation Update

Over the past few days, there has been little to no progress on the frontline. Both sides are trying to inflict maximum damage to the enemy's supply depots and logistical hubs located away from the frontline.

Heavy fighting continues on the Zaporizhzhia axis, south of Robotyne, near the villages of Novoprokopivka and Verbove. OSINT analyst Def Mon notes that Ukrainian forces were able to take control of Russian trenches southwest of Robotyne and forest lines between Robotyne and Novoprokopivka. Fighting is now taking place on the northern outskirts of Novoprokopivka, with the Armed Forces of Ukraine advancing not only from the north, but also from the northwest, northeast and east, thus gradually beginning to encircle the village. The "Surovikin line" (marked with a yellow line on the Def Mon map) runs south of Novoprokopivka. Advancing on the village from the east, Ukrainian troops are moving along this line of fortifications. On the outskirts of Verbove, where the AFU managed to break through the above-mentioned line with armored vehicles, fighting continues in the area of the anti-tank ditch and the line of concrete pyramids. Satellite images show traces of artillery fire near the first houses on the western outskirts of Verbove.

In the Bakhmut direction, the AFU managed to push back Russian forces behind the railway in one of the sections of the Andriivka-Kurdiumivka frontline. Heavy fighting also continues in the area.

In the Svatove direction, neither side has made any progress, despite the fact that combat is still ongoing there.

Strikes on Ukrainian and Russian Territory

Russian forces continue to attack port infrastructure in the Odesa region. According to Oleh Kiper, Head of the Odesa Regional Military Administration, as a result of a combined attack with loitering munitions and missiles on the night of Sept. 25, one person was injured, and part of the port infrastructure of the city of Odesa and the Odesa region was damaged. Spokeswoman for Ukraine's Operational Command South Natalia Humeniuk stated that all 19 Shahed-136 (Geran-2) loitering munitions were shot down, and two 3M-54 Kalibr cruise missiles were intercepted over the Mykolaiv and Kirovohrad regions, of the 12 fired. (According to the AFU, 11 out of 12 3M-54 Kalibr cruise missiles and two P-800 Oniks cruise missiles launched by the RuAF were shot down; resulting in two people killed.)

On Sept. 24, on City Day, Ukrainian forces hit Kursk: as a result of a drone attack on an administrative building in the city center (presumably the headquarters of the Federal Security Service (FSB)), no one was injured. Another drone attempting to attack the Khalino military airfield in Kursk was shot down by air defenses or suppressed by electronic warfare. According to pro-Russian Telegram channels, when Russian servicemen attempted to inspect the drone, it detonated, probably after its self-destruct mechanism had triggered. As a result, an unspecified number of people were killed.

On Sept. 22, Ukrainian forces attacked the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol. Photos, videos and satellite images show significant damage to the building. A video also captured the moment of a second strike on the headquarters, clearly showing a cruise missile; Ukrainian sources claim these were Storm Shadow missiles. Kyrylo Budanov, Chief of the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine's Ministry of Defense stated that at least 9 people were killed in the attack, and 16 were wounded, allegedly including Russian generals: commander of the group General-Colonel Aleksandr Romanchuk and chief of staff Lieutenant General Oleg Tsekov.

However, the Russian Ministry of Defense only reported one serviceman missing in action. It is worth noting that the above-ground floors of the headquarters were unlikely to have been occupied, which explains why senior officers, according to Ukrainian intelligence, were wounded but not killed. After today's situation report, Ukrainian special forces stated that, according to their updated data, the commander of the Black Sea Fleet and 34 other officers had been killed.

According to Mikhail Razvozhayev, the Kremlin-appointed governor of Sevastopol, the residents of Sevastopol responded to this attack with a "flashmob" by singing the city's anthem.

In response to complaints from local residents about the poor condition of bomb shelters, Razvozhaev stated that the shelters were temporary shelters and were not supposed to have utilities. He suggested that Sevastopol residents should renovate the shelters themselves. Another issue was that many shelters were locked at the time of the missile threat.

A satellite image of Sevastopol Bay was published, showing a multi-layered defense against Ukrainian unmanned surface vessels, including barges, booms and nets. There are gaps in defensive lines to allow for the passage of military ships.

On Sept. 22, Russian forces struck the city of Kremenchuk. Civilian infrastructure was hit. As of the time of recording, one person was killed and 31 others were injured, including 3 children.

On Sept. 18, as reported previously, an act of sabotage occurred at the Chkalovsky air base in the Moscow region. An eyewitness provided us with pictures of an aircraft, which we could not precisely geolocate, however, the pictures do match the surroundings of the Chkalovsky air base. The photos show damage to the underside of the aircraft, confirming the Ukrainian version that it was an act of sabotage rather than a drone strike.

US media, citing sources among congressional officials and the president's administration, report that Biden informed Zelenskyy about the decision to provide Ukraine with a small number of ATACMS tactical ballistic missiles with cluster munition warheads. It is stated that this was not publicly disclosed in order to prevent Russian forces from having time to prepare. Such missiles with cluster munition warheads are not intended for destroying various structures but are effective against concentrations of personnel, military equipment and open storage facilities. The exact number of missiles to be provided is not disclosed, but it is likely to be in the dozens. Budanov mentioned in an interview with The Drive that he would like to see hundreds of ATACMS missiles.

Analysts studying Russia’s war against Ukraine have put together a map of Ukrainian strikes on Russian air defense systems that have been carried out since the Ukrainian offensive began. As of today, 25 such strikes have been conducted, which have inflicted serious damage to Russian forces.

On Sept. 23, the Russian Ministry of Defense reported that the Russian Armed Forces had struck a Ukrainian cargo train carrying military equipment.

A short while later, a video was published showing a strike on a train with AFU equipment in Rodynske, Donetsk region, which is over 40 km from the frontline. The strike had been guided and filmed by a UAV which had managed to penetrate through the Ukrainian air defense. It is believed that the strike was launched by a 9A53 Tornado-S MLRS.

Western Assistance

After President Zelenskyy’s visit to Canada, Prime-Minister Justin Trudeau announced a package of additional military aid to Ukraine worth $482 million which will be delivered over the next three years. So far, no details have been revealed.

It has been reported that Luxembourg has handed over more military aid to Ukraine, including:

  • 9 Primoco One 150 reconnaissance UAVs;
  • 3.2 million rounds of 12.7mm ammunition;
  • 16 armored ambulances;
  • 800 helmets;
  • 150 night vision goggles.

Andriy Tarasenko, a Kharkiv-based historian specializing in military vehicles and the author of the btvt.info website, has drawn attention to the increasing use of decoy targets by Russian military engineers. Some of their works include shelters covered with camouflage netting, housing corner reflectors, visible on radar, and catalytic heating stoves, emitting heat. Depending on the arrangement of these components, these structures can replicate various types of military equipment.

We have previously observed various Russian adaptations of the MT-LB multi-purpose armored vehicle, outfitted with a range of armaments, including naval cannons and anti-aircraft systems. A photograph published at the end of last week appears to show an MT-LB equipped with an A-22 Ogon 140mm naval MLRS that was destroyed near the village of Kozachi Laheri, in the Kherson region on the left bank of the Dnipro River. Additionally, an image has emerged showing an MT-LB equipped with an RBU-6000 Smerch-2 anti-submarine missile system. These systems launch depth charges and are typically found on naval ships.

The Conflict Armament Research group has determined that Russian-made Shahed-136 loitering munitions use Russian Kometa-M satellite navigation antennas, as we reported last August. It has now come to light, however, that Ukrainian military engineers are removing these antennas from wrecked drones and incorporating them into the production of their own UAVs.

A widely discussed image from a video recording has emerged, showing a Russian soldier from the Zaporizhzhia axis, proudly displaying his recently signed contract. It is possible that the soldier mistakenly believes that he will be able to return home after serving his year-long contract. However, all contracts signed during the period of mobilization are open-ended.

Previously, we have observed various corrupt officials going to the "special military operation" zone to avoid criminal prosecution. In the Russian constituent Republic of Komi, a sexual violence criminal case has been initiated against 28-year-old Nikolay P. According to investigators, he allegedly committed acts of sexual violence against his 15-year-old stepdaughter over a period of three years. The suspect has not been detained because he left for military training, after which he will be deployed to the war in Ukraine.