September 6, 2023

Sitrep for Sept. 5–6, 2023 (as of 8:30 a.m.)

Frontline Situation Update

On the Zaporizhzhia axis, the Armed Forces of Ukraine have launched an offensive along the Novodonetske-Novomaiorske line, east of Staromlynivka; the same direction the Ukrainians pursued after liberating Urozhaine. Oleksandr Khodakovskyi, a former field commander in the "DPR" who now commands a military unit of Russia’s National Guard in the annexed "republic," reported that over the past few days, the AFU had conducted intensive artillery preparatory bombardments, significantly undermining the effectiveness of the minefields; while restoring them amidst nearly incessant fire proved unfeasible. Subsequently, Ukrainian forces were able to bring in armored vehicles, deploy troops close to Russian positions around Novodonetske and engage in combat, with armored vehicles retreating to their previous positions after delivering the infantry to the battlefield. Ukrainian advances around Novomaiorske are currently unfolding in much the same way.

Although it is impossible to fully clear minefields with artillery strikes (even using cluster munitions), the AFU seem to have managed to reduce their effectiveness.

Judging by videos published by pro-Russian sources, fierce fighting is ongoing in the area of Novodonetske. One of the videos shows two tanks lost by the AFU on the battlefield. One tank is driving across the field past another, presumably abandoned or damaged, when, according to the pro-Russian Telegram channel Voin-DV, it hits a mine, and then comes under shelling. Another video shows Russian forces hitting Ukrainian armored vehicles using a 2S1 Gvozdika 122mm self-propelled howitzer and a BM-21 Grad MLRS.

OSINT analyst Def Mon notes that the AFU are gaining a foothold in the area of Kamianske, south of Zaporizhzhia.

As we suspected, Ukrainian forces are trying to expand their bridgehead near the first "Surovikin line."

Fighting also continues in the area of Verbove in the Orikhiv direction close to the first "Surovikin line."  A video has emerged filmed by a Russian drone that drops VOG (fragmentation grenade launcher rounds) grenades on Ukrainian soldiers after spotting them in an anti-tank ditch. The video was geolocated at Russian fortifications in the area of Verbove. Ukrainian foot-mobile infantry groups without armored vehicles are still present in the area.

Also in the Orikhiv direction, the first-ever combat loss of a Challenger 2 tank has been recorded. Previously, one tank was destroyed as a result of friendly fire in Iraq in 2003.

Strikes on Ukrainian and Russian Territory

During the night of Sept. 6, Russian forces launched a strike using loitering munitions in the Odesa region. Head of the Odesa Regional Military Administration Oleh Kiper reported damage to the port and agricultural infrastructure. One employee of an agricultural enterprise was killed.

Vyacheslav Gladkov, governor of the Belgorod region, reported that an attack on Sept. 5 aimed at the border village of Kozinka in the Belgorod region resulted in the death of one local resident and injury to another.

On Sept. 5, in Donetsk, a missile struck a residential building. Judging by its markings, it appears to have been an AGM-88 HARM missile. Since this is an anti-radiation missile that should not target houses, it is possible that it was intercepted by air defense forces.

According to the JCCC DPR (Joint Center for Control and Coordination of the "DPR"), as a result of this attack on Donetsk two people were killed, seven injured, and a residential building was destroyed.

In the Kherson region, Russian forces shelled the village of Ivanivka, presumably using mortars. Two women were wounded.

Military commissariats will be granted access to the closed section of the Federal Bailiff Service's database. This move aims to recruit more Russians into contract-based military service. It is likely that instead of debt collectors, draft offices will now reach out to debtors and offer to resolve their financial issues by signing a contract.

The pro-Russian Telegram channel Fighterbomber [associated with the Russian Air and Space Force] has posted information about the first use of a FAB-1500M-54 heavy air-dropped bomb with UMPK [Universal Gliding and Correction Module], which was previously incorrectly reported by TASS [Russian state-owned news agency] as the use of the Kh-47M2 Kinzhal hypersonic missile from a Sukhoi Su-34 bomber. This module is distinct from those used with the FAB-500 or FAB-250 bombs and was designed from scratch. It is claimed to have an accuracy of 5 meters and an impact area of 2 square kilometers, but we consider these numbers to be exaggerated. With each bomb loaded with just under 700 kg of explosive, as claimed by Fighterbomber, the Su-34 can currently carry two such air-dropped bombs, and in the future, potentially three in a single sortie.

Last year, we saw videos of LMURs (light multipurpose guided missiles, also known as Izdeliye [Product] 305) being used, however, with the introduction of air-dropped bombs with UMPK, their usage has significantly decreased. The pro-Russian Telegram channel Voin-DV posted a video claiming to show the use of LMURs near the village of Novomykhailivka in the Donetsk region, guided by an Orlan-10 UAV.

Satellite images revealed that at the Engels airbase in the Saratov region (approximately 500 km from the Ukrainian border), which was attacked by Ukrainian drones on Dec. 5, 2022, tires have been placed on the wings and part of the fuselages of bomber aircraft stationed there.

The reason behind this move is not entirely clear. Some believe it is a defense measure against grenades dropped from drones. Independent military expert Thord Are Iversen, a retired naval officer from Norway, suggests that this could reduce the radar visibility of the bombers. Perhaps, tires distort the thermal signature of the aircraft, which is used for targeting by certain types of missiles. Finally, it could be a form of busywork, a for-show activity for reporting purposes.

Western Assistance

Belgian Army leadership believes that F-16 fighter aircraft, owned by the country, are in too poor a condition and have reached the end of their service life, making them unsuitable for deployment to Ukraine. However, it is our opinion that even if this is the case, they should be transferred for use as spare parts.

Germany has sent a new military aid package to Ukraine. It includes the following:

  • 10,080 rounds of ammunition for GEPARD self-propelled anti-aircraft guns;
  • Over 8.5 million rounds of small arms ammunition;
  • 27,000 40mm rounds;
  • A Biber armored bridge-laying vehicle;
  • 32 Zetros trucks;
  • 4 8x8 HX81 truck tractor trains and semi-trailers;
  • 4 border protection vehicles;
  • 20,000 safety glasses.

It is worth noting that Mercedes-Benz has delivered more than 100 Zetros off-road vehicles to the AFU for military support and logistics tasks and provided training for Ukrainian drivers. However, the nature of this training is not specified.

Belarus's Alyaksandr Lukashenka has ordered the country’s embassies to cease issuing passports to Belarusians living abroad. Until now, Belarusian expatriates could get new passports at the country's diplomatic missions. However, according to Lukashenka’s decree, they can only get a new passport or renew an old one in Belarus. Considering recent developments, we recommend that Russians living abroad obtain a second passport while it is still feasible.