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*** Official Russia vs. Ukraine Discussion - Invasion has begun *** (6 Viewers)


Whether it becomes the main thrust of a fresh Russian offensive is too soon to determine. It is not in doubt that Russia has committed substantial resources to its latest push. Ukrainian officials claim that up to three battalions have been thrown at Avdiivka. They are supported by tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and aircraft launching from distance highly accurate guided “glide bombs”. Andriy Yermak, who heads the Ukrainian president’s office, tweeted: “The Russians threw a lot of forces in this direction. They are betting on quantity.”
Just as Ukraine throughout the summer has found breaking down well-prepared defences extremely tough, so too the Russians appear to be taking heavy punishment in their assault on Avdiivka. According to a post on October 12th by OSINTtechnical, a reliable open-source intelligence account on X (formerly Twitter), during the attack’s opening stages, probably within a period of 48 hours, Russia had lost 15 tanks, 33 infantry fighting vehicles and a number of artillery pieces, roughly an entire battalion’s worth of kit. A source suggested Ukraine has continued to extract an enormous cost: perhaps 50 tanks and 100-odd armoured vehicles in total.

As armoured columns begin advancing they are first slowed by minefields and then hit by artillery fire guided by drones. Russian territorial gains are so far estimated at less than two square miles. On the same day, President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on Telegram: “Avdiivka. We are holding our ground. It is Ukrainian courage and unity that will determine how this war will end.”
Were it to happen, losing Avdiivka would be a blow to Ukrainian morale. Like Bakhmut before it, the town, now in ruins with its 30,000 citizens long since evacuated, has become something of a symbol of Ukrainian resistance. It has held out against eight years of intermittent attacks by Russian-backed separatists since 2014. In the past 18 months it has withstood a series of assaults and massive artillery bombardments by Russian forces. In April Russian attempts to encircle the town only partially succeeded, with gains to its north and east. In response, Ukraine sent reserves to the area and established new and well-fortified defensive positions. These are beside a 200 metre-high ash dump, created by the Avdiivka Coke and Chemical Plant (before the war one of the biggest coke producers in Europe), that towers above the battlefield.

In the past couple of days some Russian sources have claimed that their forces have gained control of the coke plant. But the Institute for the Study of War, a think-tank, says it sees no evidence to confirm that, and warns that Russian military bloggers are now more circumscribed about what they are allowed to report in an effort by military commanders to manage the flow of information.
Russia’s offensive ambitions may have been boosted in recent weeks by the arrival of 300 shipping containers full of munitions, according to America’s government. The arms infusion arrived between September 7th and October 1st. Officials say that the transfer included large numbers of artillery shells—enough to have to have a substantial impact on the course of fighting. Ukraine’s counter-offensive relied on a massive infusion of shells from South Korea, and its rate of fire will inevitably fall in the months ahead.
The fight for the coke plant and the ash dump is likely to be hard and bitter in the days ahead. Whether or not Avdiivka falls to the Russians, it is still likely to have a negative effect on the continuing Ukrainian counter-offensive in the south. Progress there has slowed since the liberation of Robotyne in August. Western officials are sceptical that the front lines will now change much before winter sets in. If Ukraine needs to strengthen the Avdiivka front, it may have to reassign some of the forces that are fighting to the south of Orikhiv. That would further reduce the chances of a breakthrough before winter arrives.

It's actually more than 1000 containers of arms shipped from North Korea to Russia in recent weeks per NYT.
 

An ad hoc ground-based short-range surface-to-air missile system that uses the AIM-9M Sidewinder as its effector is reportedly part of a larger Pentagon project known as FrankenSAM that aims to bolster Ukraine's air defenses. U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin first revealed the existence of the AIM-9M-based air defense system earlier this week and said that the first examples would be delivered to Ukrainian forces soon. Turning Sidewinders into surface-to-air missiles was a possibility The War Zone had raised previously.

The AP was the first to report on FrankenSAM earlier today. Exactly when this effort started isn't clear, but the wire service says that the program "began months ago but has grown over time." The U.S. military did announce a sweeping plan to help expand and improve Ukraine's air and missile defenses last year.

"The U.S. has been able to improvise and build a new missile launcher from radars and other parts contributed by allies and partners," according to the AP. "The system will be able to launch AIM-9M Sidewinder missiles, which the U.S. announced Wednesday it will send to Ukraine in the latest aid package."

The first public mention of AIM-9Ms for Ukraine came in the announcement of another U.S. aid package back in August. At that time, how Ukrainian forces might use these missiles was unknown, but using them as ground-launched air defense weapons was a distinct possibility.

It is worth noting that the AIM-9M is a heat-seeking missile, though a radar could still be used to cue the launcher firing it to point at the target. Since the AIM-9M doesn't have high off-boresight engagement or lock-on-after-launch capability, this version of the Sidewinder would still need to pick up the thermal signature of whatever that threat might be using its own seeker before launch. The War Zone explored various possibilities of what might go into this new AIM-9M-based air defense system just earlier this week.

The U.S. military has already been known to be facilitating the integration of older AIM-7 Sparrow/RIM-7 Sea Sparrow radar-guided missiles onto Ukraine's existing Soviet-era Buk surface-to-air missile systems. This work, which AP has reported is also part of the FrankenSAM project, could offer some broad insight into what the final AIM-9M-based system might look like.
 

^Worth checking out.

This is also a longer analysis worth checking out:


The war in Ukraine has become a test of political will and industrial capacity between two competing blocks: allied countries aiding Ukraine, such as the United States and numerous countries in Europe and Asia; and axis countries aiding Russia, such as China, North Korea, and Iran. Despite Ukraine’s efforts to liberate territory illegally seized by Russia, offensive operations have been slow. Some policymakers have erroneously argued that poor Ukrainian strategy has contributed to the slow pace of operations. According to proponents of this view, the Ukrainian military mistakenly focused on conducting operations along multiple fronts rather than on a single front in Zaporizhzhia Oblast.[1]

To better understand military operations in Ukraine, this analysis asks three questions. What is the state of the offense-defense balance in the Ukraine war? What factors have impacted Ukrainian offensive operations? What are the policy implications for the United States and other Western countries?

Ukrainian operations raise the age-old question in warfare about whether it is easier for militaries to seize territory or defend it. This phenomenon is called the “offense-defense balance,” and it refers to the relative strength between the offense and defense in warfare.[2] The main idea is that there are several factors, such as geography, force employment, strategy, and technology, that can influence whether the offense or defense has the advantage.[3] When the offense has the advantage, it is generally easier for an attacking state to destroy its opponent’s military and seize territory than it is to defend one’s own territory. When the defense has the advantage, it is generally easier to hold territory than it is to move forward and seize it.[4]

This analysis utilizes several sources of information. To understand historical rates of advance, this assessment compiles data on offensive campaigns from World War I through Ukraine’s 2023 offensive.[5] It also examines open-source data on fortifications, unit positions, and the attrition of military equipment. In addition, it uses satellite imagery and drone footage of the battlefield in eastern and southern Ukraine to understand the challenges of offensive operations. Finally, the authors conducted interviews with Ukrainian, U.S., and European military officials.

The analysis comes to three main conclusions. First, defense has the advantage in the war. This reality should not come as a major surprise. Carl von Clausewitz wrote in On War that “defense is a stronger form of fighting than attack” and that “the superiority of the defensive (if rightly understood) is very great, far greater than appears at first sight.”[6] Ukrainian forces averaged approximately 90 meters of advance per day during their recent push on the southern front between early June and late August 2023.

Second, the reason for the slow pace of advance was not poor Ukrainian strategic choices, as some have argued.[7] Instead, it was likely caused by a Ukrainian change in force employment, especially the deliberate adoption of small-unit tactics, and the lack of key technology such as fighter aircraft for suppression of enemy air defense and close air support
. In addition, Russia constructed substantial defensive fortifications, including minefields, and utilized attack helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft, and unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) against advancing Ukrainian forces.

Third, Ukraine still retains the initiative in the war, and the United States and other Western countries should provide long-term aid packages that help Ukraine strengthen its defense and prevent or deter a Russian counterattack in the future. They should also provide additional aid to help Ukraine on offense to maximize the possibility that it can retake as much territory as possible from Russia. After all, one of the United States’ most significant adversaries, Russia, has been reduced to a second- or third-rate military power without a single U.S. military casualty.
As many as 120,000 Russian soldiers have been killed, as well as over 300,000 wounded, and Ukrainian soldiers have destroyed a massive number of Russian weapons systems, from main battle tanks and fighter aircraft to submarines and landing ships.[8] U.S. aid to Ukraine should continue even with U.S. support to Israel likely to grow following the October 2023 Hamas attack, since Russia, Iran, and their partners represent a significant threat to U.S. interests.

The rest of this brief is divided into three sections. The first examines the state of the war and the strength of the defensive advantage in Ukraine. The second section explores the factors contributing to the defensive advantage. The third outlines several policy implications for the United States and other Western countries.

More at link above


In the wake of Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine, many prominent Western news outlets and policymakers concluded that Ukraine is winning the information war. Yet the reality may be more complex. RAND researchers used an evidence-based approach to try to understand whether official Ukrainian influence campaigns related to the current war have been more persuasive than Russian ones, and, if so, why Ukraine's messaging may have been effective while Russia's efforts may have fallen flat.

To do this, the researchers examined each side's messaging toward not only its own public and military personnel but also the public and military personnel of its adversary. Specifically, they looked at Ukrainian-, Russian-, and English-language content produced and disseminated by official Ukrainian and Russian authorities and their affiliated institutions in the days leading up to and following two incidents: (1) Russia's initial offensive and the Battle for Kyiv, in February–March 2022, and (2) the announcement of Russia's partial mobilization, in September 2022. The researchers analyzed the two countries' messaging through the lens of persuasion research, which offers insights about the characteristics associated with successful influence campaigns. This report details the researchers' analysis and conclusions.
 

Oh wow check out this graph: Chinese yuan's share in the Russian imports (the black line). Approaching 40% as of August. [Source: Russian Central Bank]

Russia claims to have tested nuclear-powered cruise missile

Speaking at the annual meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club on 5 October, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed Russia successfully tested the ground-launched Burevestnik (RS-SSC-X-09 Skyfall) nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed cruise missile.

Testing, past and present
Putin publicly revealed the Burevestnik programme in 2018, although it is very likely that Russian engineers began working on the project in the early 2000s. Burevestnik utilises a large solid rocket booster to propel the missile from the ground and two smaller strap-on boosters to sustain it in flight until a small nuclear-powered reactor takes over. The appeal of using a nuclear power source is that it provides the missile with greater endurance than a turbojet or turbofan engine. Burevestnik’s maximum range is unknown, but American intelligence reports estimate it is ‘intercontinental’. Russian sources suggest a range between 10,000 and 20,000 kilometres. By comparison, Russia’s longest-range liquid-fuelled cruise missile, the Kh-102 (RS-AS-23 Kodiak), has a claimed maximum range of 4,500 kilometres.

Russia first tested Burevestnik in June 2016 and has done so on multiple occasions since then. Reportedly, the US intelligence community assesses that these were all completely or partially unsuccessful. The penultimate publicly known Burevestnik flight test occurred at the Pankovo missile test site on Novaya Zemlya in September 2022. The test Putin referred to almost certainly occurred at this location.
Evidence that Russia would test Burevestnik at the Pankovo site has been mounting since August 2023. Between 2 and 9 August, two Ilyushin Il-976 SKIP aircraft, which can record missile-telemetry data, appeared in the livery of Russia’s Rosatom atomic energy corporation at the nearby Rogachevo air base. A Notice to Airmen informing civil aircraft of potential hazards along flight routes was released as of 31 August for the area west of Novaya Zemlya, suggesting a possible future launch window.

One indicator was visible at the Pankova launch site itself. On 28 September 2023, satellite imagery showed multiple vehicles and a trailer stationed around a missile shelter with the top retracted. Typically, little activity is visible around such shelters. An oblong object approximately ten metres in length and green in colour appears inside. The object’s shape and colour appear consistent with footage of Burevestnik’s missile-launch canister released by Russia’s Ministry of Defence.

The precise time of the test and whether it succeeded is unknown. Although Putin said this was the ‘final successful test’ for Burevestnik, suggesting the missile has approached the end of its development cycle, this is unlikely because of the system’s multiple prior failed tests and the highly experimental character of the system’s propulsion unit. Russia has exaggerated the progress of other problematic missile programmes, such as the RS-28 Sarmat (RS-SS-X-29) intercontinental ballistic missile, and so such statements should be treated cautiously.

Purpose and practicality
Russia already possesses a significant number of delivery vehicles and associated warheads for its strategic arsenal, but Putin has said that missile defence developments in the United States will eventually ‘result in the complete devaluation of Russia’s nuclear potential’. The validity of this projection is questionable and both Russia and the US have deployed and are developing new types of defences against ballistic and cruise missiles.

From Russia’s perspective, Burevestnik may provide attractive new retaliatory capabilities because the missile remains within the atmosphere during flight; thus, certain types of US homeland missile defences such as the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system cannot detect and engage them. Because of Burevestnik’s very long range, it can also fly on circuitous flightpaths to approach targets from unexpected directions. Despite these advantages, the missile’s subsonic speed, large size and emission of radioactive material from its exhaust means it could be detectable and vulnerable to some types of point and short-range missile defences. Subsonic Russian land-attack cruise missiles have, for instance, appeared vulnerable to interception from Ukrainian air defences.

A complementary benefit for Moscow is that Burevestnik falls outside the scope of the Russia–US New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which limits the number of delivery vehicles and associated warheads that either country may deploy. The US has said future arms-control agreements must include the missile due to its obvious strategic purpose. Given the difficulties currently associated with bilateral arms control, however, it is unlikely this will be achievable in the foreseeable future.
 


Poland’s opposition parties look like they’ve won a solid victory in the country’s general election — and if the result holds it signals a radical change both in Poland and in the EU, where the current Law and Justice (PiS) party government has warred for eight years with Brussels over accusations it’s backsliding on the bloc’s democratic rules.


Rail logistics is a key part of sustaining Russia's invasion, Britain's Defense Ministry said on Sunday, adding that Moscow was using the rail network to move ammunition, armor, fuel, and personnel into Ukraine.

In its latest intelligence briefing, the ministry said Moscow was building a new rail line to Mariupol, which would "reduce travel times for supplies to the Zaporizhzhia front."

It said Russia was using civilian contractors and equipment to free up Russian soldiers, who are also trained for railway construction.

"The new line falls within the notional range of Ukrainian long-range precision strike systems," the ministry added.

It said the rail network in occupied areas of Ukraine remains viable but vulnerable to attack by Kyiv's forces.
 

Russian President Vladimir Putin may be trying to temper expectations of significant Russian advances around Avdiivka in Donetsk Oblast. Putin claimed in an interview on Russian state television on October 15 that Russian forces are conducting an “active defense” in the Avdiivka, Kupyansk, and Zaporizhia directions.[1] Putin’s characterization of Russian offensive operations near Avdiivka as an “active defense,” instead of “active combat operations” as Russian UN Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya claimed on October 13, or discussing Russian operations as an “offensive” as some milbloggers have, may be an attempt to temper expectations of significant Russian advances.[2] Russian operations including intensive artillery and airstrikes are likely intended to degrade Ukrainian forces around Avdiivka.[3] Russian forces are unlikely to make significant breakthroughs or cut off Ukrainian forces in the settlement in the near term, and potential advances at scale would likely require a significant and protracted commitment of personnel and materiel.[4]

The Russian information space writ large is also metering its initial optimism about the prospects of Russian offensive operations around Avdiivka. Russian milbloggers initially reported maximalist and unverifiable claims of Russian advances over 10km, likely exaggerated the degree of Russian successes near Avdiivka during initial offensive operations, and expressed optimism for rapid Russian advances.[5] Some Russian milbloggers have since acknowledged difficulties in the Russian advance near Avdiivka and noted that Russian forces decreased their pace of offensive operations around the settlement.[6] Russian milbloggers have also begun to claim that intense and attritional fighting is ongoing around Avdiivka.[7] Many Russian milbloggers also continue to self-censor by limiting reports of Russian tactical actions and problems specific to individual sectors of the frontline.[8] A Russian milblogger claimed that unspecified actors, possibly the Russian military leadership and some subset of milbloggers, agreed to stop reporting on the Avdiivka operations, but reiterated complaints about general problems in the Russian military not specific to any sector of the front.[9]

Russian forces continued offensive operations aimed at encircling Avdiivka on October 15 but have yet to make further gains amid a likely decreasing tempo of Russian operations in the area. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled more than 15 Russian assaults near Avdiivka, as well as northwest and southwest of the settlement.[10] ISW has not yet observed visual confirmation of previous claims of Russian advances in the area or geolocated footage of any other Russian gains. Russian sources claimed notably fewer Russian advances in the area on October 15 compared to previous days and described these new alleged advances as marginal.[11] A Russian milblogger acknowledged that Ukrainian forces still maintain a presence at the Avdiivka Coke Plant following conflicting Russian claims about Russian control of the plant.[12]


Both Ukrainian military observers and Russian sources stated that Russian forces did not achieve their desired immediate breakthrough, and Russian forces faced initial high losses and a likely slower than anticipated rate of advance.[13] Avdiivka City Military Administration Head Vitaliy Barabash stated on October 12 that Russian forces conducted assaults with air support in 10 to 12 directions around the settlement, whereas the Ukrainian General Staff reported on October 15 that fighting occurred near only six settlements.[14] Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Oleksandr Shtupun stated on October 14 that the pace of Russian offensive operations near Avdiivka declined and that Russian forces have lost more than 300 pieces of military equipment and 3000 personnel since intensifying offensive operations in the area on October 9.[15]

Russian forces will likely continue offensive operations at this decreased tempo in the near term, however, and will remain a threat to Ukrainian forces in the area despite being unlikely to achieve a decisive breakthrough or encircle Avdiivka at this time. Any decrease in the tempo of Russian offensive operations may be the result of a temporary adjustment to the tactical situation, and Russian forces may intensify their attempts to encircle Avdiivka in the coming days. A Ukrainian military observer noted that Russian forces have penetrated Ukrainian flanks around Avdiivka and pose a significant threat to Ukrainian positions despite being unlikely to encircle Avdiivka in the near term.[16] Ukrainian military observers indicated that Russian forces had concentrated a significant grouping of forces consisting of elements of 15 motorized rifle regiments and 11 rifle regiments to the Avdiivka-Donetsk City front and have already executed regiment-size offensive operations in the area (meaning three or more battalions conducting cohesive assaults, a scale beyond that of most Russian or Ukrainian attacks at this stage in the war).[17] This reported Russian grouping will likely be able to sustain offensive operations aimed at encircling Avdiivka if Russian commanders are willing to sustain relatively high losses, despite being insufficient for an immediate breakthrough.

A prominent Russian milblogger and frontline unit commander complained that the Russian military leadership is uninterested in battalion level problems, supplementing other Russian milblogger complaints about general problems in the Russian military.[18] Russian “Vostok” Battalion Commander Alexander Khodakovsky, who has previously complained about problems affecting Russian forces’ ability to conduct effective combat operations, claimed on October 15 that Russian infantry on the front in Ukraine face problems with insufficient counterbattery capabilities, commander competency, medical support, rotations, and supplies.[19] Khodakovsky claimed that a lack of communication between Russian battalions and headquarters is common, so much so that (in an undated and unspecific anecdote) when Ukrainian forces struck a Russian headquarters building, a Russian battalion did not realize that the headquarters had been disabled and continued conducting operations independently. Another Russian milblogger, who said on October 14 that he concurred with the “agreement” to stop any commentary about Russian operations in Avdiivka, complained a few hours later that Russian forces, in general, are experiencing ammunition shortages and continued issues combating Ukrainian drones.[20] These complaints indicate that a wider disdain for the Russian military command persists despite likely top-down attempts to censor discussion about certain areas of the front.

Ukrainian forces continued offensive operations near Bakhmut and in western Zaporizhia Oblast on October 15 and slightly advanced south of Bakhmut.
Geolocated footage published on October 15 shows that Ukrainian forces marginally advanced towards the railway line north of Klishchiivka (7km southwest of Bakhmut), and Russian sources reported continued Ukrainian ground attacks south of Bakhmut on the Klishchiivka-Kurdyumivka-Andriivka line (7-13km southwest of Bakhmut).[21] Ukrainian military observer Kostyantyn Mashovets stated that Ukrainian forces took advantage of recent Russian counterattacks in western Zaporizhia Oblast to gradually advance near Kopani (5km northwest of Robotyne), east of Nesteryanka (10km northwest of Robotyne), and near Verbove (18km southeast of Orikhiv).[22] Ukrainian officials have not yet commented on any recent Ukrainian advances along the Robotyne-Novoprokopivka-Verbove line (20km southwest to 18km southeast of Orikhiv), however. Russian sources reported continued Ukrainian attacks on the Robotyne-Novoprokopivka-Verbove line on October 15.[23]
 

Russians are pushing some surprising vehicles into the battle in the Avdiivka direction.

At the moment we've seen a BTR-90 and a destroyed BTR-50 on the battlefield, both for the first time in this war.

The BTR-50 is an armored personnel carrier, which entered service in 1954.

They were first spotted in Ukraine in February 2023, but have not been seen in combat before. It's likely not the last time we see one though, as thousands have been produced and an unknown number have been sent to Ukraine.
BTR-90 is a rare wheeled armored personnel carrier with a 30 mm auto-cannon. Roughly explained, if you imagine slapping a BMP-2 turret to a larger and more modern version of a BTR-80 hull, you get a BTR-90. Not many have been produced, so it's not likely this will be a common sight.

Even though both have the abbreviation BTR in their name, they are not similar in any way. BTR comes from the Russian word бронетранспортёр, which quite literally means an armored carrier/transport.

I'll write a longer thread about the Russian offensive in Avdiivka in the following days.



India's Chief of Def. Staff on his view:

"geopolitical importance of Russia will go down"

"will see a more assertive China...Of course, then there will be a convergence of interest btwn the Russians & the Chinese & some other countries...N Korea & Iran...may join the bandwagon"
 

Video of a HIMARS strike on a Russian Zala UAV team located by Ukrainian SSO.


Of the many, many lessons American military leaders and tacticians are taking from Ukraine’s fight against Russian invaders, one stands above the rest for the head of US Army special operations: the criticality of information operations.

“I think [information ops] … could be the most important lesson learned from the crisis in Ukraine,” Lt. Gen. Jonathan Braga, commanding general of US Army Special Operations Command, said today. “I mean, the world has rallied to support the Ukrainian armed forces, in my belief, because of information operations and gathering support.


“I think the resistance and the resilience capability of the Ukrainian people is there because of successful information operations,” he said. “There’s tragedies all around the world that the world doesn’t necessarily pay as much attention to, but I think information operations is key.”

Beyond global support, Braga credited Ukraine’s aggressive and sophisticated public campaign for contributing to some 17,000 Russians deserting the military. (Last November, then-US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said Russia has seen 100,000 casualties, which presumably includes defections in addition to those killed or wounded.)

“Messaging has played a huge role in the tactical and operational sense,” he said. “You’ve had 17,000 Russians desert. That’s 17,000 soldiers you haven’t had to blow up on the battlefield or destroy.”

Braga said there’s a clear tactical benefit to “eroding the will of individual soldiers” and “impos[ing] doubt into the mind of the adversary.”

Ukraine’s military, and President Vlodomyr Zelenskyy personally, have been extremely aggressive in public messaging from the outset of the war — including a key video of Ukrainian leaders standing steadfast in Kyiv as Russian forces closed in on the first days of the invasion. Ever since, social media, as well as traditional media, has been saturated with videos of Ukrainian military successes as well as purported Russian depravity, each bolstering Western support for Ukraine.

Braga suggested the US Army has supported its Ukrainian partners in its information campaign, and that the US would be well served to follow Kyiv’s example in a future conflict.

Ultimately, he said, “warfare is about a contest of wills. You can have an annihilation strategy where you destroy every red icon on the map … but at the end of the day, you have to convince a human to stop doing what you’re doing.”


Ukraine, still locked in fierce combat with Russia along hundreds of miles of front line, also finds itself grappling with what are seen in Kyiv as worrying shifts in the geopolitics of the war.
The attention of key allies is pivoting to the war in Gaza, military aid from the United States is bogged down in the Republican fight over leadership in Congress and cracks in European support have emerged during elections in Poland and Slovakia.
“We are now in a new phase,” Pavlo Klimkin, a former Ukrainian foreign minister, said of the international politics of the fighting in Ukraine, which in the past week has been eclipsed by the eruption of war in Israel and Gaza. “The whole geopolitical environment has become more diverse, more messy,” he said in an interview.
Ukraine, Mr. Klimkin said, will need to counter Russian efforts to fan opposition to continued military aid in Europe and the United States, as Kyiv’s democratic allies hold elections. At home, he said, Ukraine must accelerate domestic arms production, to help prepare for a long war and drifting international attention.


A Russian governor was accused by critics on Sunday of “discrediting Russia’s armed forces” after telling residents in her region that the country had “no need” for its war in Ukraine.

Natalya Komarova, the governor of the Khanty-Mansiysk region and a member of President Vladimir Putin’s governing United Russia party, made the remarks during a meeting with residents in the Siberian city of Nizhnevartovsk on Saturday.

Critics have called for authorities to launch an investigation into her remarks, but Komarova hasn't been detained or faced any charges so far.

A video of the event posted on social media showed the politician being confronted by the wife of a Russian soldier who said that mobilized men had been poorly equipped for the front line.

Komarova told residents that Russia hadn't been prepared for the invasion of Ukraine.

“Are you asking me (why your husband does not have equipment), knowing that I’m the governor and not the minister of defense?”, the 67-year-old said.

“As a whole, we did not prepare for this war. We don’t need it. We were building a completely different world, so in this regard, there will certainly be some inconsistencies and unresolved issues,” she said.
 

Seeing people suggest that UAVs dropping munitions or roof screens on tanks were developments that first occurred in Ukraine. However, ISIS was using UAVs in that role in 2015-2016, and Russia started deploying these screens after the 2020 Karabakh War.
Interestingly, Russian tank crews began to abandon these screens after the first phase of the war, but then began to reinstall them once small UAVs became a growing threat in late 2022-2023.

Thread: https://twitter.com/MassDara/status/1713973874373574699

Excellent geospatial analysis from @OSIA_RUSI, identifying one location for DPRK-supplied weapons (most likely artillery shells) to Russia. A thread with a few thoughts. 1: This facility is beyond missile strike range for UAF but not drone range.


More than a year into the war with Russia, Ukrainians’ support of their president and the country’s military remains near the record highs set in the early months of the conflict. The rally effect for other institutions, however, may have been shorter-lived.

Over eight in 10 Ukrainians (81%) surveyed in July and August said they approved of the job that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is doing. His approval is statistically undiminished from the record-high 84% measured a little over a year ago, as the country’s residents exhibited an unprecedented level of unity and faith in their institutions.

While the executive and military branches continue to garner support from most Ukrainians, their support for other key national institutions has declined 18 months into the war. Confidence in the national government and the judiciary, as well as the perceived freedom of the media, all declined between seven and 13 percentage points from their record-high levels in 2022.
The decline since last year was the steepest for confidence in the national government (from 60% to 47%), perhaps precipitated by several high-profile corruption scandals involving public officials in 2023. Eight in 10 Ukrainians (80%) believe that corruption is widespread throughout the government, and even more (86%) believe that it is widespread within the country’s businesses.

However, more Ukrainians still express confidence in their government than at any point in the country’s prewar history since Gallup first started measuring confidence in 2006.

Similarly, the belief that their media has a lot of freedom dropped by 11 points from its peak in 2022 but remained higher than any prewar measurement in the previous decade. At the onset of the war, all major Ukrainian television news channels joined forces to create a single United News platform. While this move was broadly welcomed in support of national unity, some Ukrainians may have started to view the arrangement in a negative light.

Confidence in the judicial system fell somewhat less sharply, but still significantly. Ukrainians have, however, historically expressed little confidence in their judiciary. Trust in this institution did not surpass 30% even at the peak of Ukrainian unity in 2022. Approval levels for the judiciary (22%) are essentially back to prewar levels (19% in 2021).




With world leaders focusing their attention on trying to solve the Israel-Hamas conflict, Russian President Vladimir Putin has resumed hammering Ukraine on all fronts.

Over the weekend, Kremlin forces attacked Ukrainian energy infrastructure and struck regions with missiles and drones. Newly replenished Russian forces have also been pressing Ukrainian troops on all parts of the front line.

On Saturday and Sunday, Russia shelled the Kherson region alone more than 200 times, Oleksandr Prokudin, the regional governor, said in a statement.

Massive attacks caused disruption of electricity and water supply in Kherson and in the Donetsk region, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an evening statement Sunday. Kherson’s electricity supply has since been restored, with water restored to all but ten houses, he added.

“We must be aware that there will be more such Russian strikes as winter approaches. More on generation facilities, on the network. You have to be ready for this,” Zelenskyy said, addressing local authorities and energy companies. He said that the Ukrainian government has been doing everything it can to strengthen the country’s air defenses.

Those air defenses were busy on Monday, as Russia attacked Ukraine with five X-59 aviation missiles, one ballistic Iskander missile and 12 Shahed drones.

The Ukrainian Air Force reported shooting down only two missiles and 11 drones, with others striking housing and infrastructure. Ukraine’s central Poltava and Kirovohrad regions and western Khmelnytskyi region came under drone and missile attack. Air strikes and intense artillery fire were also reported in the northern regions of Chernihiv and Sumy, as well as northeastern Kharkiv.

Russian forces continued storming and shelling Ukrainian positions in Avdiivka and Mariinka in the Donetsk region, while attempting to regain positions near Robotyne on the Zaporizhzhia front, where Ukrainians are on the offensive, Ukrainian army general staff said Monday morning, adding that all attacks were unsuccessful.

“The situation is tough. But everything is under control. Russians have not advanced,” Vitalii Barabash, Avdiivka military administration head, told POLITICO.

But the Deepstate Project live map — a Ukrainian open source analytics project based on information from the general staff and soldiers on the ground analyzing Russia’s invasion — shows Moscow’s troops have advanced a few kilometers south and north of Avdiivka over the past 10 days, deepening the pocket they want to create around the destroyed city. Ukraine’s stats from the front show a growing number of Russian casualties: 800-1,000 a day since the start of their renewed assault.

“We can see the concentration of forces and efforts of the Russians. They made high-quality fortified areas along the entire front line, and now they want to break through the defense in the Donetsk direction and take Avdiivka,” Egor Firsov, Ukrainian army sergeant and combat medic, said in a Facebook post. “We managed to stop their attack for now. From my personal sources, Donetsk morgues and hospitals are now overcrowded. I will not say the exact number of enemy losses. But it’s definitely hundreds, just in one day. However, they will keep trying.”
 

Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 16 October 2023.

(1/5) The purported Private Military Company (PMC) Redut is recruiting mercenaries under the guise of "volunteers", including former Wagner personnel.

(2/5) The Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) likely supervises and finances the group’s activities, including its recruitment.

(3/5) Since the start of the invasion, Redut has been involved in combat operations in Donetsk, Kharkiv, Kyiv, and Luhansk oblasts. The group highly likely has over 7,000 personnel.

(4/5) At present, Redut is one of a number of PMCs and Volunteer Corps units being utilised by the Russian Ministry of Defence to augment Russian regular forces.

(5/5) It is a realistic possibility that the Russian Ministry of Defence’s practise of recruiting through “volunteer” units has contributed to Russia avoiding further unpopular mobilisations.

North Korea may be sending arms to Russia for Ukraine war, images suggest

Russian ships linked to military transport networks have collected cargo from North Korea and delivered it to an apparent Russian military port on multiple occasions over the past two months, according to new satellite images providing the clearest evidence yet that Pyongyang may be helping Moscow’s war effort.

The two ships had no record of running this route between North Korea and Russia until August, when high-level meetings between North Korean and Russian officials began, paving the way for Kim Jong Un to meet Vladimir Putin last month.
U.S. intelligence assessments at the time suggested that Russia was looking to get North Korean weaponry to replenish its dwindling supplies for the war in Ukraine. White House officials said Friday this now appears to be happening and named one Russian vessel, alleging that North Korea has transported as many as 1,000 containers with “equipment and munitions” from North Korea to Russia “in recent weeks.”
But new satellite images, analyzed by the London-based Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and provided first to The Washington Post, suggest this operation is more regular, extensive and ongoing than the White House revealed.
Not one but two ships have been plying the route between the northeastern North Korean port of Rajin and a secure port facility in Dunai, in Russia’s Far East, making at least five round trips beginning mid-August through Saturday, according to the RUSI analysis.
Although it is impossible to tell what is being transported, the new images show ships linked to the Russian military logistics network, which strongly suggests these commercial vessels are carrying military equipment, RUSI analysts and U.S. officials say.
“This will have a very serious effect on the trajectory of the war [in Ukraine],” said Jack Watling, senior research fellow for land warfare at RUSI. “North Korea has the ability to manufacture a lot of ammunition, and it has significant stockpiles.”

Here is the link to the RUSI analysis referred to in the above article: https://rusi.org/explore-our-resear...-north-koreas-clandestine-supply-route-russia
 

Russia likely deployed elements of at least two Central Military District (CMD) brigades to reinforce offensive operations by Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) forces on the Avdiivka front. A Ukrainian military observer reported on October 16 that three Russian brigades — the DNR’s 114th Motorized Rifle Brigade (MRB) and the CMD’s 15th and 21st MRBs (both of the 2nd Combined Arms Army [2nd CAA]) — have been involved in recent attacks on Avdiivka alongside various scattered DNR elements, while Russian forces are holding the CMD’s 30th MRB in tactical reserve.[1] Elements of the CMD, particularly of the 2nd CAA, have been active along the Svatove-Kreminna line until recently, and the newly formed 25th CAA likely relieved them along the Svatove-Kreminna line.[2] 2nd CAA elements have primarily conducted defensive operations along the Svatove-Kreminna line for the last several months and have therefore likely had more time to rest and reconstitute before deploying to a more challenging sector of the frontline, which accounts in part for recent Russian advances in the previously stagnant Avdiivka sector of the front.

Russian forces continued offensive operations in the Avdiivka direction on October 16 and recently made some gains, albeit at a relatively slower pace than in the initial attacks. Geolocated footage posted on October 16 shows that Russian forces have marginally advanced past the E50 road about 3km south of Avdiivka.[3] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled a total of 22 Russian attacks in the Avdiivka direction in the past day, notably fewer than the 30 reported attacks on October 15.[4] Russian sources noted that Russian forces have increased the intensity of air and artillery strikes on the settlement in order to compensate for slow ground maneuvers, which are complicated by heavy Ukrainian fortifications surrounding Avdiivka.[5] During a meeting on the operational situation in Ukraine on October 16, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed that Russian forces have improved their tactical positions in unspecified areas and that the Russian “active defense” along the front, including near Avdiivka, is prohibiting Ukrainian advances.[6]

Ukrainian forces continued offensive operations near Bakhmut and in western Zaporizhia Oblast on October 16. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces conducted offensive operations in the Melitopol (western Zaporizhia Oblast) and Bakhmut directions.[7] Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted assaults near Avdiivka and on Verbove’s western and northwestern outskirts (10km east of Robotyne or 18km southwest of Orikhiv).[8] Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces are within 200 to 300 meters of Russian positions west of Verbove.[9]

Some Russian milbloggers continue to complain about the alleged restriction of information about Russian military failures. A Russian milblogger criticized an unspecified associate of Russian Lieutenant General Andrey Sychevoy, who was reportedly recently dismissed from a command position for military failures near Bakhmut, for causing Russian forces (presumably near Bakhmut) to suffer 1,500 casualties in September 2023.[14] The milblogger also criticized the broader Russian military command for communication failures and forcing injured personnel back into combat.[15] The milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces have crossed the railway line south of Bakhmut in some places and complained that only one major milblogger has discussed this issue, underlining the fact that many milbloggers restrict their presentation of negative information about Russian capabilities.[16] Another milblogger, who previously claimed to censor all but 10-20 percent of the “sad” information they receive, claimed that the first milblogger’s complaints provide a glimpse into the 80-90 percent of unreported information, yet criticized other Russian milbloggers for consistently claiming that the Ukrainian counteroffensive has failed.[17]
 
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With Ukraine’s monthslong southern counteroffensive making slow progress, Russia last week launched a large-scale assault of its own with a narrower aim: the small eastern city of Avdiivka.
By most accounts, it didn’t go well.

Ukraine’s military said it destroyed dozens of Russian tanks and other armored vehicles and killed hundreds of Russian troops while losing little territory. Video released by Ukrainian officials showed the damage, with artillery and bomblets dropped from drones crashing into one Russian vehicle after another, leaving them smoking on the road.
The assault may mark an inflection point in the conflict. Moscow is trying to retake the offensive, confident that Ukraine doesn’t have the capacity for a breakthrough in the south, said Konrad Muzyka, director of Rochan Consulting, a war analysis firm with a focus on Ukraine.
But in the 20th month of the war, it isn’t clear that either side is able to significantly move the front line, which hasn’t shifted much in nearly a year.

“Ukraine had the initiative during the summer,” Muzyka said. “Now, the initiative is slowly shifting. It will most likely be the Russians on the offensive.”
The heavy Russian losses stand as a testament to how difficult both sides have found it to make progress this year against enemies who are heavily dug in behind dense minefields covered by artillery.
Since the start of the summer, Kyiv has thrown thousands of troops toward the Russian lines in the southern Zaporizhzhia region, hoping to cut through to the Sea of Azov and sever supply lines to Russian forces in southern Ukraine. Initially, Ukrainian troops pushed forward in armored columns of their own, using tanks and other Western armored vehicles, which newly formed brigades trained on during the spring.
After losing some of those vehicles in June, however, Ukrainian forces reset, and instead began advancing on foot in smaller groups. Using this strategy, the Ukrainians managed to pierce the main line of Russian defenses in August, but have struggled since then to expand that gap into a major breach that would allow them to advance further south.
In deploying so many resources around Avdiivka, Moscow appears to have calculated that its troops have withstood the Ukrainian threat in the south and that additional manpower—which had previously been held in reserve—can be deployed in an offensive.

The small industrial city of Avdiivka has been a top Russian target for nearly a decade, since Moscow covertly sent its military to install separatist rulers in Ukraine’s east. Located just a few miles outside the Russian-occupied regional capital of Donetsk, Kyiv’s hold on Avdiivka allows Ukrainian forces to threaten logistics and transportation hubs in the region.
Since the start of the full-scale invasion in February last year, Russian forces had closed in on Avdiivka on three sides and flattened much of it with artillery and airstrikes. Yet, they had been unable to take—or encircle—the city itself, where Ukraine has built up fortifications since the initial conflict.
Then last week, several Russian battalions launched an assault on Avdiivka from several directions in columns of armored vehicles supported by air power and artillery, according to Ukrainian military officials.
They have seized several Ukrainian positions on the outskirts of Avdiivka, but are still far from what appears to be their aim of cutting the city off. Their progress has slowed after the initial push, and they have lost at least three dozen armored vehicles, according to open-source intelligence analysts, who comb through battlefield videos and satellite images to gauge and verify changes at the front.
The advance on Avdiivka marked the first time the Russians have employed large armored columns since February when Ukraine wiped out a Russian column advancing into the village of Vuhledar.

Col. Oleksiy Dmytrashkivskiy, a Ukrainian military spokesman, said the Russian assault on Avdiivka was every bit as disastrous as the one in February. The Russians lost 2,000 troops—with 800 killed—last Tuesday, the first day of the assault, he said, while Ukrainian drones and artillery took out dozens of tanks and other armored vehicles. Russian assaults around Avdiivka have also decreased since early last week, he said, but added that the Russians maintained air superiority in the area.
“The enemy is using regular army units, most likely the units that were pulled up as reserves,” Dmytrashkivskiy said.
The Russian Ministry of Defense didn’t respond to a request for comment about the assault on Avdiivka.
Last week, Vasily Nebenzya, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, claimed that the Ukrainian counteroffensive was finished and Russia was now on the offensive. But when asked about Avdiivka on Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said his forces were conducting “active defense” along the whole front line.
“Putin may be trying to temper expectations of significant Russian advances around Avdiivka,” the Institute of the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, wrote on Sunday. “Russian forces are unlikely to make significant breakthroughs or cut off Ukrainian forces in the settlement in the near term, and potential advances at scale would likely require a significant and protracted commitment of personnel and materiel.”

Thread from Mick Ryan here: https://twitter.com/WarintheFuture/status/1714149031868616710

Today marks 600 days since the large-scale Russian invasion of #Ukraine in February 2022. But as @ChristopherJM rightly points out, it is actually 3525 days since the beginning of Russia’s invasion and attempts to subjugate Ukraine. 1/19 🧵

Video: https://twitter.com/Archer83Able/status/1714109042514178235

ATGM fired by the Ukrainians misses a Russian BMP-1AM IFV just by centimeters.
 

Unlike Ukraine, which has been the recipient of hundreds of tanks and armoured vehicles, Israel is primarily seeking munitions, with interceptors for its Iron Dome missile defence system at the top of its wish list. Precision air-to-ground munitions and 120mm calibre tank rounds are also among its needs.
But as the conflict goes on, analysts say Israel’s defence forces could need the same kind of guided missile systems now running short in Ukraine, including armed drones, as well as 155mm artillery rounds.

Unlike Ukraine, Israel has its own defence industry and advanced weaponry, none of which has been targeted by an invading superpower. It also receives significant assistance from the US, which gives almost $4bn in military aid to the country annually, including about $500mn for air and missile defences.

The bigger questions for weapons supplies remain around the shape of the war — and whether Israel’s expected ground offensive in Gaza will draw in other armed groups, including Hizbollah, which has engaged Israeli forces across the Lebanese border sporadically in recent days.
A conflict with Hizbollah would significantly increase Israeli weapons needs, putting it in more direct competition with Ukraine for US supplies, analysts said.
“Everyone is watching the northern border and Hizbollah. If that gets larger, you’re going to need to talk about a different kind of conflict,” said Mark Cancian, a senior adviser with the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ international security programme.
Even if recent US diplomatic efforts succeed in stopping Hizbollah from opening a northern front in the war, the kind of warfare Israel undertakes in Gaza will determine its need for basic armaments, he added.
If Israel continues “sniping” at Hamas, it would need fewer munitions because the army would not go “door to door”, Cancian said. But a longer, full invasion of the densely populated territory would be another matter, sharply increasing Israeli demand for US supplies.
“Do they make a full-scale ground attack? In which case they’re going to need a lot of munitions,” Cancian said.


So far, little of the military aid rushed by the U.S. to Israel is of the kind that is needed for Ukraine. Israel’s most urgent request was for interceptors for its Iron Dome antimissile system that Ukraine doesn’t operate, while Ukraine’s key necessity is for 155mm artillery ammunition. Overall, Israel heavily relies on its huge air force, while air power plays a limited role in the war in Ukraine. During the 50-day Israeli incursion of Gaza in 2014, the Israeli army fired only 19,000 explosive 155mm shells, an amount that Ukraine consumes in as little as one week.
“The Israel Defense Force is very much a Western-style military, with air-based firepower, which can be handled more easily,” said Franz-Stefan Gady, CEO of Gady Consulting, a military consulting firm based in Vienna. “Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military remains a Soviet-era-legacy force with the majority of firepower that is ground-based, which is a lot harder for the U.S. to sustain.”


There are other resources that are being tapped for the conflict, including armaments. Israel has so far received several thousand 155mm artillery rounds since Hamas launched its attack, defense officials said.

This comes not long after the U.S. effectively emptied its prepositioned stockpiles of 155mm rounds kept in Israel, as part of its larger effort to meet Ukraine’s demand for the highly sought artillery.
 

Working together, the Pentagon, the State Department and the National Security Council staff came up with an idea. While the U.S. military’s existing stocks of the long-range Army Tactical Missile System were in short supply, the U.S. could send the medium-range version, carrying warheads containing hundreds of cluster bomblets that could hit targets 100 miles away.

The administration’s move to send the Anti-Personnel/Anti-Materiel, or APAM, an older version of the ATACMS that Ukraine had long sought, was kept secret for weeks after President Joe Biden made the final call, according to two U.S officials familiar with the discussions.

Their delivery and use marks a major escalation in the administration’s defense of Ukraine, providing Kyiv’s forces with a new and destructive ability to strike Russian targets well behind the front lines. That’s exactly what happened early Tuesday, with Ukrainian outlets reporting that Kyiv had destroyed nine Russian helicopters in the eastern cities of Berdyansk and Luhansk.
U.S. officials kept the decision to send them, and their actual shipment to the battlefield, quiet in order to maintain Kyiv’s element of surprise. Washington and Kyiv were concerned that announcing the transfer would prompt Russia to move equipment and ammunition depots farther behind their front lines and out of range of the missiles.

At the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and then-Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley had long resisted sending ATACMS. As POLITICO first reported, they argued that the U.S. already had a limited inventory of the weapon. They wanted to ensure DOD maintained a large enough stockpile for contingencies that might arise elsewhere in the world.

The NSC team wanted a solution that would balance Ukraine’s battlefield needs with DOD’s readiness concerns, at a reasonable cost. They knew Russia’s forces, though vast, were ill-equipped and ill-advised, and closely-stacked columns of armor behind the front lines were vulnerable.

The APAM variant of the ATACMS was a logical weapon to send to Ukraine because it was not part of any Pentagon war plans, and the Ukrainians can use them to more effectively take out open-air ammunition stores behind the Russian front lines, along with Russian motor depots.
Given the huge concentration of Russian troops along with their armor and munition depots still relatively close to the front lines, the new weapon can be expected to hit Russian logistics and command and control centers hard.

Biden relayed the news to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a Sept. 21 White House meeting: Ukraine would get a version of ATACMS, if not the long-range variant Kyiv had sought for so long.

U.S. officials secretly approved sending APAM in the package of aid announced Sept. 21, under the category of cluster munitions, the officials said. The administration briefed a number of members of Congress in a classified setting in order to prevent leaks.

The decision to send the weapons now comes as the administration has grown concerned about a Russian buildup of troops and equipment for a fall offensive, in what could be the largest Russian movement in months.


Russian forces have launched a series of mostly unsuccessful attacks against Ukrainian positions in Avdiyivka in the eastern Donetsk region over the past week, but have been repelled with large losses. The Russians have resorted to the relatively crude tactics of its earliest assaults in February 2022, throwing lightly equipped forces against Ukrainian lines in attacks that have been repulsed by the Ukrainian defenders.

More attacks along the hundreds of miles of Ukrainian front lines are expected in the coming weeks, making it critical that Ukraine has the longer-range ATACMS to hit airfields and ammunition depots to blunt any Russian logistical advantages.

While Biden administration officials do not think Ukraine can achieve its goal of cutting off the Russian land bridge to Crimea before winter sets in and stalls the counteroffensive, they hope providing APAM can help mitigate any Russian advantage and buy Kyiv’s forces some time to recapture additional territory.

U.S. officials still require Ukraine to refrain from using American weapons to strike inside Russia, but there are no restrictions on using the equipment to hit targets within Ukraine and the occupied Crimean peninsula. Kyiv has also agreed to keep track of where its forces are firing cluster bombs, to help with cleanup later.



Ukraine has used long-range US ATACMS missiles that were secretly shipped to Kyiv to strike nine Russian military helicopters and airfields deep inside occupied territory, marking what Kremlin bloggers said was one of the most devastating bombardments of the war so far.
“Our agreements with President [Joe] Biden are being implemented. And very accurately. ATACMS have proven themselves,” said President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, confirming the first use of the US-supplied weapon system against occupied regions of Ukraine earlier on Tuesday.
A US official familiar with the situation confirmed Ukraine’s use of the ATACMS, which stands for army tactical missile system.
At least four missile strikes successfully targeted Russian military personnel, weapons and equipment, destroying nine helicopters, an air defence missile system, military vehicles, ammunition depots and airstrips near the southern city of Berdyansk and Luhansk in the east, according to the Ukrainian army’s general staff.

Ukraine’s strategic communications centre said the missiles, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, had “made well-aimed strikes on enemy airfields and helicopters near the temporarily occupied [cities of] Luhansk and Berdyansk”.

Videos circulating on Telegram appeared to show flames rising from the helicopters in the Berdyansk airfield and photographs purported to show debris from the ATACMS, including cluster bomblets. The Financial Times could not independently verify the footage and images.
Russian military bloggers confirmed the attack, with some calling it one of the most damaging hits on their forces since Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began.
“One of the most serious blows . . . if not the most serious” of the war, wrote a Russian military blogger known as Fighter Bomber. “There are losses in both people and technology.”

The Berdyansk airfield, located on the shore of the Sea of Azov west of the devastated city of Mariupol, has been occupied by Russian forces since the first days of the full-scale invasion in February 2022. Dozens of Russian attack helicopters, seen in satellite imagery, have been stationed at the airfield and used to target Ukrainian ground forces fighting in the country’s counteroffensive along the southern front line.
The FT reported last month that the decision to provide ATACMS to Ukraine was made before Zelenskyy visited the US last month, but the Biden administration chose not to announce it publicly to avoid tipping off Russia.


Video: https://twitter.com/RALee85/status/1714352528656085241

Video posted by Ukraine's General Staff of the ATACMS launch last night.
 

Per Rybar, not only ATACMS were used at Berdyansk but also GLSDBs (Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bombs). "Several helicopters received varying degrees of damage."


🧵The full version of the Berdyansk airbase explosions video after the Ukrainian ATACMS attack is not only interesting for what is seen in it, but for what is heard as well. Here's nearly the whole script


Videos posted over the past two weeks of of Russian LMUR missile strikes on buildings in the Novomykhailivka-Vuhledar area and Zaporizhzhia Oblast. 52/


Video from Ukraine's Presidential Brigade's 2nd Battalion defending against a Russian armored assault in the Avdiivka area. The video shows what looks like two damaged/destroyed Russian T-72B3 tanks and a Z-STS MRAP.
 

Working together, the Pentagon, the State Department and the National Security Council staff came up with an idea. While the U.S. military’s existing stocks of the long-range Army Tactical Missile System were in short supply, the U.S. could send the medium-range version, carrying warheads containing hundreds of cluster bomblets that could hit targets 100 miles away.

The administration’s move to send the Anti-Personnel/Anti-Materiel, or APAM, an older version of the ATACMS that Ukraine had long sought, was kept secret for weeks after President Joe Biden made the final call, according to two U.S officials familiar with the discussions.

Their delivery and use marks a major escalation in the administration’s defense of Ukraine, providing Kyiv’s forces with a new and destructive ability to strike Russian targets well behind the front lines. That’s exactly what happened early Tuesday, with Ukrainian outlets reporting that Kyiv had destroyed nine Russian helicopters in the eastern cities of Berdyansk and Luhansk.
U.S. officials kept the decision to send them, and their actual shipment to the battlefield, quiet in order to maintain Kyiv’s element of surprise. Washington and Kyiv were concerned that announcing the transfer would prompt Russia to move equipment and ammunition depots farther behind their front lines and out of range of the missiles.

At the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and then-Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley had long resisted sending ATACMS. As POLITICO first reported, they argued that the U.S. already had a limited inventory of the weapon. They wanted to ensure DOD maintained a large enough stockpile for contingencies that might arise elsewhere in the world.

The NSC team wanted a solution that would balance Ukraine’s battlefield needs with DOD’s readiness concerns, at a reasonable cost. They knew Russia’s forces, though vast, were ill-equipped and ill-advised, and closely-stacked columns of armor behind the front lines were vulnerable.

The APAM variant of the ATACMS was a logical weapon to send to Ukraine because it was not part of any Pentagon war plans, and the Ukrainians can use them to more effectively take out open-air ammunition stores behind the Russian front lines, along with Russian motor depots.
Given the huge concentration of Russian troops along with their armor and munition depots still relatively close to the front lines, the new weapon can be expected to hit Russian logistics and command and control centers hard.

Biden relayed the news to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a Sept. 21 White House meeting: Ukraine would get a version of ATACMS, if not the long-range variant Kyiv had sought for so long.

U.S. officials secretly approved sending APAM in the package of aid announced Sept. 21, under the category of cluster munitions, the officials said. The administration briefed a number of members of Congress in a classified setting in order to prevent leaks.

The decision to send the weapons now comes as the administration has grown concerned about a Russian buildup of troops and equipment for a fall offensive, in what could be the largest Russian movement in months.


Russian forces have launched a series of mostly unsuccessful attacks against Ukrainian positions in Avdiyivka in the eastern Donetsk region over the past week, but have been repelled with large losses. The Russians have resorted to the relatively crude tactics of its earliest assaults in February 2022, throwing lightly equipped forces against Ukrainian lines in attacks that have been repulsed by the Ukrainian defenders.

More attacks along the hundreds of miles of Ukrainian front lines are expected in the coming weeks, making it critical that Ukraine has the longer-range ATACMS to hit airfields and ammunition depots to blunt any Russian logistical advantages.

While Biden administration officials do not think Ukraine can achieve its goal of cutting off the Russian land bridge to Crimea before winter sets in and stalls the counteroffensive, they hope providing APAM can help mitigate any Russian advantage and buy Kyiv’s forces some time to recapture additional territory.

U.S. officials still require Ukraine to refrain from using American weapons to strike inside Russia, but there are no restrictions on using the equipment to hit targets within Ukraine and the occupied Crimean peninsula. Kyiv has also agreed to keep track of where its forces are firing cluster bombs, to help with cleanup later.



Ukraine has used long-range US ATACMS missiles that were secretly shipped to Kyiv to strike nine Russian military helicopters and airfields deep inside occupied territory, marking what Kremlin bloggers said was one of the most devastating bombardments of the war so far.
“Our agreements with President [Joe] Biden are being implemented. And very accurately. ATACMS have proven themselves,” said President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, confirming the first use of the US-supplied weapon system against occupied regions of Ukraine earlier on Tuesday.
A US official familiar with the situation confirmed Ukraine’s use of the ATACMS, which stands for army tactical missile system.
At least four missile strikes successfully targeted Russian military personnel, weapons and equipment, destroying nine helicopters, an air defence missile system, military vehicles, ammunition depots and airstrips near the southern city of Berdyansk and Luhansk in the east, according to the Ukrainian army’s general staff.

Ukraine’s strategic communications centre said the missiles, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, had “made well-aimed strikes on enemy airfields and helicopters near the temporarily occupied [cities of] Luhansk and Berdyansk”.

Videos circulating on Telegram appeared to show flames rising from the helicopters in the Berdyansk airfield and photographs purported to show debris from the ATACMS, including cluster bomblets. The Financial Times could not independently verify the footage and images.
Russian military bloggers confirmed the attack, with some calling it one of the most damaging hits on their forces since Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began.
“One of the most serious blows . . . if not the most serious” of the war, wrote a Russian military blogger known as Fighter Bomber. “There are losses in both people and technology.”

The Berdyansk airfield, located on the shore of the Sea of Azov west of the devastated city of Mariupol, has been occupied by Russian forces since the first days of the full-scale invasion in February 2022. Dozens of Russian attack helicopters, seen in satellite imagery, have been stationed at the airfield and used to target Ukrainian ground forces fighting in the country’s counteroffensive along the southern front line.
The FT reported last month that the decision to provide ATACMS to Ukraine was made before Zelenskyy visited the US last month, but the Biden administration chose not to announce it publicly to avoid tipping off Russia.


Video: https://twitter.com/RALee85/status/1714352528656085241

Video posted by Ukraine's General Staff of the ATACMS launch last night.
Man this could cause a stir in Russia. If Ukraine is using US made an delivered missiles to hit Russian targets, they may decide we are now directly involved and act accordingly.
 

Working together, the Pentagon, the State Department and the National Security Council staff came up with an idea. While the U.S. military’s existing stocks of the long-range Army Tactical Missile System were in short supply, the U.S. could send the medium-range version, carrying warheads containing hundreds of cluster bomblets that could hit targets 100 miles away.

The administration’s move to send the Anti-Personnel/Anti-Materiel, or APAM, an older version of the ATACMS that Ukraine had long sought, was kept secret for weeks after President Joe Biden made the final call, according to two U.S officials familiar with the discussions.

Their delivery and use marks a major escalation in the administration’s defense of Ukraine, providing Kyiv’s forces with a new and destructive ability to strike Russian targets well behind the front lines. That’s exactly what happened early Tuesday, with Ukrainian outlets reporting that Kyiv had destroyed nine Russian helicopters in the eastern cities of Berdyansk and Luhansk.
U.S. officials kept the decision to send them, and their actual shipment to the battlefield, quiet in order to maintain Kyiv’s element of surprise. Washington and Kyiv were concerned that announcing the transfer would prompt Russia to move equipment and ammunition depots farther behind their front lines and out of range of the missiles.

At the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and then-Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley had long resisted sending ATACMS. As POLITICO first reported, they argued that the U.S. already had a limited inventory of the weapon. They wanted to ensure DOD maintained a large enough stockpile for contingencies that might arise elsewhere in the world.

The NSC team wanted a solution that would balance Ukraine’s battlefield needs with DOD’s readiness concerns, at a reasonable cost. They knew Russia’s forces, though vast, were ill-equipped and ill-advised, and closely-stacked columns of armor behind the front lines were vulnerable.

The APAM variant of the ATACMS was a logical weapon to send to Ukraine because it was not part of any Pentagon war plans, and the Ukrainians can use them to more effectively take out open-air ammunition stores behind the Russian front lines, along with Russian motor depots.
Given the huge concentration of Russian troops along with their armor and munition depots still relatively close to the front lines, the new weapon can be expected to hit Russian logistics and command and control centers hard.

Biden relayed the news to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a Sept. 21 White House meeting: Ukraine would get a version of ATACMS, if not the long-range variant Kyiv had sought for so long.

U.S. officials secretly approved sending APAM in the package of aid announced Sept. 21, under the category of cluster munitions, the officials said. The administration briefed a number of members of Congress in a classified setting in order to prevent leaks.

The decision to send the weapons now comes as the administration has grown concerned about a Russian buildup of troops and equipment for a fall offensive, in what could be the largest Russian movement in months.


Russian forces have launched a series of mostly unsuccessful attacks against Ukrainian positions in Avdiyivka in the eastern Donetsk region over the past week, but have been repelled with large losses. The Russians have resorted to the relatively crude tactics of its earliest assaults in February 2022, throwing lightly equipped forces against Ukrainian lines in attacks that have been repulsed by the Ukrainian defenders.

More attacks along the hundreds of miles of Ukrainian front lines are expected in the coming weeks, making it critical that Ukraine has the longer-range ATACMS to hit airfields and ammunition depots to blunt any Russian logistical advantages.

While Biden administration officials do not think Ukraine can achieve its goal of cutting off the Russian land bridge to Crimea before winter sets in and stalls the counteroffensive, they hope providing APAM can help mitigate any Russian advantage and buy Kyiv’s forces some time to recapture additional territory.

U.S. officials still require Ukraine to refrain from using American weapons to strike inside Russia, but there are no restrictions on using the equipment to hit targets within Ukraine and the occupied Crimean peninsula. Kyiv has also agreed to keep track of where its forces are firing cluster bombs, to help with cleanup later.



Ukraine has used long-range US ATACMS missiles that were secretly shipped to Kyiv to strike nine Russian military helicopters and airfields deep inside occupied territory, marking what Kremlin bloggers said was one of the most devastating bombardments of the war so far.
“Our agreements with President [Joe] Biden are being implemented. And very accurately. ATACMS have proven themselves,” said President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, confirming the first use of the US-supplied weapon system against occupied regions of Ukraine earlier on Tuesday.
A US official familiar with the situation confirmed Ukraine’s use of the ATACMS, which stands for army tactical missile system.
At least four missile strikes successfully targeted Russian military personnel, weapons and equipment, destroying nine helicopters, an air defence missile system, military vehicles, ammunition depots and airstrips near the southern city of Berdyansk and Luhansk in the east, according to the Ukrainian army’s general staff.

Ukraine’s strategic communications centre said the missiles, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, had “made well-aimed strikes on enemy airfields and helicopters near the temporarily occupied [cities of] Luhansk and Berdyansk”.

Videos circulating on Telegram appeared to show flames rising from the helicopters in the Berdyansk airfield and photographs purported to show debris from the ATACMS, including cluster bomblets. The Financial Times could not independently verify the footage and images.
Russian military bloggers confirmed the attack, with some calling it one of the most damaging hits on their forces since Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began.
“One of the most serious blows . . . if not the most serious” of the war, wrote a Russian military blogger known as Fighter Bomber. “There are losses in both people and technology.”

The Berdyansk airfield, located on the shore of the Sea of Azov west of the devastated city of Mariupol, has been occupied by Russian forces since the first days of the full-scale invasion in February 2022. Dozens of Russian attack helicopters, seen in satellite imagery, have been stationed at the airfield and used to target Ukrainian ground forces fighting in the country’s counteroffensive along the southern front line.
The FT reported last month that the decision to provide ATACMS to Ukraine was made before Zelenskyy visited the US last month, but the Biden administration chose not to announce it publicly to avoid tipping off Russia.


Video: https://twitter.com/RALee85/status/1714352528656085241

Video posted by Ukraine's General Staff of the ATACMS launch last night.
Man this could cause a stir in Russia. If Ukraine is using US made an delivered missiles to hit Russian targets, they may decide we are now directly involved and act accordingly.
Literally the only thing Russia could do against the US/NATO is a nuclear strike which then they know would mean the end of Russia and all their leadership. Their ability to fight a conventional war has been degraded so significantly at this point that Poland on it's own could roll into Moscow in a week.
 

Rybar says that elements from Ukraine's 35th and 36th Marine Brigades have captured the town of Poima and are fighting for Pishchanivka on the left bank of the Dnipro river in Kherson Oblast with the aid of artillery and FPV strikes.


Still, with Ukrainian troops battling through three layers of densely packed Russian defenses ringing the 600-mile front and grappling with large minefields, long-range fire is welcome. It’s not just the front line but Russia’s sacred sanctuary in Crimea that is now in the crosshairs.
“We just saw how the Ukrainians are going to do it,” said Ben Hodges, a retired three-star general and former commander of the U.S. Army in Europe. “You don’t have to sit on top of the land bridge to cut it. If you can use long-range fire to make it difficult for the Russians to move, then you’re well on your way to severing the land bridge and isolating all of Crimea.”
Hodges also said the strike on an unprotected Russian position was a sign that Moscow hadn’t learned to disperse its troops even after repeated Ukrainian strikes on the Russian Black Sea Fleet and its headquarters and after Ukraine had taken out top Russian officers in the more than 19 months since the full-scale invasion began.
“How in the hell could they have that many helicopters sitting out in the open unprotected when they should have known that Ukraine had received this capability?” Hodges said.


The U.S. has refused to discuss the delivery publicly, but officials familiar with the move also confirmed it earlier in the day. Fewer than a dozen of the missiles got into Ukraine within the last few days, said officials. Their arrival at the warfront gives Ukraine a critical ability to strike Russian targets that are farther away, allowing Ukrainian forces to stay safely out of range. The officials were not authorized to publicly discuss the matter before an official announcement and spoke Tuesday on the condition of anonymity.

Because of lingering U.S. concerns about escalating tensions with Russia, the ATACMS version that went to Ukraine will have a shorter range than the maximum distance the missiles can have. While some versions of the missiles can go as far as about 180 miles (about 300 kilometers), the ones sent to Ukraine have a shorter range and carry cluster munitions, which, when fired, open in the air, releasing hundreds of bomblets rather than a single warhead. According to a U.S. official, the ones delivered to Ukraine have a maximum range of a bit more than 100 miles (roughly 160 kilometers).

NYT says the number is about 20: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/10/17/world/europe/ukraine-atacms-attacks-russia.html

After many reports that a decision had been made to supply the weapons, their delivery was carried out in secrecy, out of concern that they could be attacked by Russia as they were shipped into the country. In addition, Ukraine wanted to try to catch the Russians off guard. Two Western officials said the United States had sent about 20 of the missiles to Ukraine.

Now that the American missiles have arrived, Germany will be further pressed to donate its Taurus missiles systems. Like Mr. Biden, Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany has resisted giving Ukraine his country’s long-range missiles, partly to avoid escalating the conflict. The Taurus has a range of more than 310 miles and would be the newest and most sophisticated long-range missile yet for Kyiv.
 
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Ukraine used US-provided ATACMS long-range missiles to strike Russian targets in occupied Ukraine for the first time on October 17. The Wall Street Journal and other Western media outlets confirmed on October 17 that the US “secretly” provided Ukraine with ATACMS with a range of 165km in recent days and reported that Ukrainian forces already used ATACMS to strike Russian-controlled airfields in occupied Berdyansk, Zaporizhia Oblast and Luhansk City, Luhansk Oblast.[1] Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also stated in his nightly address on October 17 that ATACMS “have proven themselves” but did not directly confirm ATACMS were used in these strikes, and multiple Russian sources claimed Ukrainian forces used ATACMS in the Berdyansk strike.[2] Various Russian sources amplified images reportedly of ATACMS M74 cluster submunitions found at the site of the strike in Berdyansk.[3] The US likely transferred the ATACMS systems in secret to provide Ukrainian forces operational surprise, and the overall shock in the Russian information space suggests that Ukraine achieved the desired effect. Ukrainian Special Operations Forces Command did not specify that Ukrainian forces used ATACMS in the strikes but stated that the strikes destroyed nine Russian helicopters of various models, other unspecified special equipment, an anti-aircraft missile launcher, an ammunition warehouse, and damaged runway infrastructure.[4] Footage reportedly from the Berdyansk airfield shows heavy fires and explosions due to the continued detonation of ammunition in an ammunition depot.[5] NASA Fire Information for Resource Management (FIRMS) data from October 17 also confirms heat signatures following explosions in Berdyansk but has not yet confirmed heat signatures at the Luhansk airfield.[6]

The Ukrainian ATACMS strikes on operationally significant Russian airfields in Ukraine will likely prompt the Russian command to disperse aviation assets and withdraw some aircraft to airfields further from the frontline. Russian forces notably operated rotary-wing aircraft from the Berdyansk airfield in the early months of the ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensive in western Zaporizhia Oblast to great effect against large mechanized Ukrainian assaults.[7] Previous satellite imagery of the Berdyansk airfield showed that Russian forces dispersed aircraft across the airfield, and Ukrainian forces were likely only able to conduct strikes on individual aircraft with previously available long-range missiles.[8] The cluster munition–armed version of the ATACMS long range missiles will allow Ukrainian forces to conduct strikes on Russian airfields that can more widely destroy Russian aircraft and other assets. Russian milbloggers immediately drew parallels between the Ukrainian strikes on the Berdyansk and Luhansk City airfields and a series of Ukrainian HIMARS strikes on the Chornobaivka airfield in Kherson Oblast during the 2022 Kherson counteroffensive.[9] The arrival of Western-provided HIMARS allowed Ukrainian forces to conduct repeated strikes on the Chornobaivka airfield, which caused significant Russian aviation losses, and Russian command withdrew military equipment and aviation from the airfield due to their inability to combat Ukrainian HIMARS strikes.[10] Russian milbloggers noted that Russian forces adapted their airfields to Ukrainian long-range strike capabilities but that ATACMS are a new missile threat which will similarly force the Russian command to adapt once again.[11] The Russian military has consistently shown it can adapt to new Ukrainian strike capabilities — but only after suffering initial and pronounced losses from Ukrainian capabilities Russian commanders realistically should have prepared for.

The likely dispersal of Russian aircraft at airfields throughout occupied Ukraine and the relocation of aviation assets further away from the frontline will likely disrupt Russian aviation support for defensive efforts and localized offensive operations. The relocation of aircraft to airfields further in the rear will likely impact the loitering time that Russian aviation will have to support operations. This will likely be particularly significant for Russian rotary-wing aircraft, which operated in relatively small sections of the frontline for long periods of time to degrade advancing mechanized Ukrainian forces at the beginning of the counteroffensive in June and July of 2023.[12] The dispersal of aviation assets at a larger number of airfields will also likely present the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) greater coordination and sustainment challenges.

The arrival of ATACMS long-range missiles also poses a significant threat to Russian ammunition depots in rear areas and will likely force the Russian command to choose between fortifying existing depots or further dispersing depots throughout occupied Ukraine. The arrival of HIMARS to Ukraine in June 2022 allowed Ukrainian forces to conduct an operationally significant interdiction campaign in support of counteroffensive operations in Kherson and Kharkiv oblasts, part of which targeted overly concentrated Russian ammunition depots.[13] The Russian command reluctantly moved away from using highly concentrated ammunition depots, extending Russian logistics along longer ground lines of communications (GLOCs), which ultimately complicated the provision of ammunition and supplies to the frontline to a certain degree.[14] ATACMS will likely present Russian forces with a similar challenge, and Russian forces can either focus on fortifying existing depots or create an even more dispersed and therefore over-extended logistics system for ammunition.

The Russian information space expressed widespread fear over the use of ATACMS, and Russian concerns over the possibility of future strikes will likely impact Russian decision-making beyond the current Ukrainian ability to sustain regular ATACMS strikes. Russian sources bemoaned the strikes on the Berdyansk and Luhansk City airfields as one of the most devastating Ukrainian strikes on a Russian target since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.[15] Russian sources particularly credited the use of ATACMS for the severity of the strike and expressed fears that the Russian command would not adapt quickly enough to the new missile threat.[16] The Russian command will likely have to consider the potential Ukrainian use of ATACMS when making operational and tactical decisions about the placement of military assets regardless of the frequency of such strikes, and the current level of Russian concern suggests that this calculation may be particularly pronounced in the coming weeks. Ukraine has likely only received a limited number of ATACMS, however, and will need more if it is to sustain and amplify these initial effects.[17]
 

The European Parliament improved and endorsed a proposal for a €50 billion (roughly $53 billion) facility to support Ukraine's recovery, reconstruction and modernization from 2024. It would be paid over a period of four years.

The aid package was adopted with 512 votes in favour, 45 against and 63 abstentions.

"This is a strong sign of our support and solidarity," Michael Gahler, co-rapporteur for the Committee on Foreign Affairs, said. The adopted draft provides for controls to prevent "any embezzlement, any waste and any corruption," Gahler added.

Ukraine is to submit a reconstruction plan for the aid package, and the European Commission is to sign off on the distribution of the funds. The MEPs also proposed using confiscated assets of Russian citizens and companies for Ukraine.

According to the document, the reconstruction and modernization of the country should be geared toward EU requirements for Ukraine's possible accession. The country officially became a candidate for EU membership last June.


Germany's KfW development bank, acting on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, signed an agreement with the Ukrainian state-owned power company Ukrenerho for a €76 million (roughly $80 million) grant to repair war damage to the Ukrainian power grid and substations.

Measures to improve the energy efficiency of the entire grid are also planned, according to a KfW statement. For example, the reconstruction of the grid infrastructure will include the use of reinforced concrete to protect the facilities against further attacks, as well as energy-efficient technologies.

Ukraine's power grid has been severely damaged by targeted Russian airstrikes since the start of the war.

According to the KfW, by April 30 Ukraine's energy production capacity was less than half what it had been before the war.

In addition, 41 out of 94 high-voltage transformers had been damaged or completely destroyed by attacks, according to the report. This has led to massive restrictions, instability and blackouts in the grid.
 
And for what?
Ego

But really, the armed forces of Russia and their economic power have decreased substantially due to their folly of an invasion of Ukraine. The most tragic part though is the casualties to the men and women. The sheer number of amputees and maimed people in those countries will be felt for generations to come.
 
Man, those battle losses listed at the end are rather stunning. Russia is paying a high price for their invasion. And for what?
At this point, to keep Putin in power.

If Putin concedes defeat in Ukraine, he concedes power as Russia politically and historically demands a 'strong man'. The Russians value their leadership being strong over anything else- including benevolent, smart, effective, etc. Putin is stuck. He can't win (as long as Ukraine continues to have support from US/NATO and other allies) and he can't lose because he knows as soon as he admits defeat then his days are quickly numbered.

Putin watched the absolute failure of our withdrawal from Afghanistan and saw the US as weak- giving him a window of opportunity to take Ukraine which is absolutely crucial if he were to rebuild the Russian Empire as was/is his life's goal. He underestimated, as well as pretty much everyone else, the capability and more importantly willpower of the Ukrainian people to withstand Russia as well as overestimated the capability and effectiveness of the Russian conventional forces. We got lucky in that Ukraine held up long enough to convince the US/NATO and allies that they weren't a losing cause and gained support, otherwise a subjugated Ukraine in Russian power would mean further Russian aggression/expansion and encourage other belligerents to try for themselves, most notably China with Taiwan.

Russia will throw the one resource that they have always had and go to in times of war at this which is sheer manpower. The collective tolerance for huge losses is higher in Russian than in any Western democratic country. Their history is one where the people are continually asked to sacrifice themselves. In pretty much every war Russia has fought for the last couple of hundred years the cycle is pretty much exactly the same. They enter the war, suffer significant defeats and then mobilize the populace as little more than cannon fodder with the attitude that we have more people than you have ammunition. Sadly, this means a lot of dead and wounded Russians that I am sure many have no desire to be there. It will also mean more Ukrainian deaths.

The only good things we can get out of this is 1. Russian conventional military might is so degraded that it poses very little threat to neighboring countries and 2. With US/NATO and allies continued support, showing resolve, we can avoid future wars that could be much bloodier and more internationally consequential.
 
Man, those battle losses listed at the end are rather stunning. Russia is paying a high price for their invasion. And for what?
At this point a second land bridge to their Baltic port. And some productive natural resources. High price paid, though.
 
From UK MoD: https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1714517813665112349

(1/5) There has been a significant increase in Russian offensive activity on the Kupiansk-Lyman axis in the last two weeks.

(2/5) Russian shelling has intensified and elements of the Russian 6th and 25th Combined Arms Armies (CAA) and the 1st Guards Tank Army have conducted attacks, but with limited success.

(3/5) It is highly likely that this activity is part of an ongoing Russian offensive being conducted on multiple axes in eastern Ukraine.

(4/5) The objective of Russian Ground Forces (RGF) on the Kupiansk-Lyman axis is probably to advance west to the Oskil River to create a buffer zone around Luhansk Oblast.

(5/5) RGF have built up combat capacity in the Kupiansk-Lyman direction in recent months. However, Ukrainian forces retain a significant defensive presence on this axis and it is highly unlikely RGF will achieve a major operational breakthrough.



New satellite imagery of Russian-occupied Berdyansk airport shows several burned areas following Ukraine's strike on the site with ATACMS.

Higher resolution imagery is needed to confirm the extent of the damage, but several helicopters have moved since the strike.


Avdiivka is a tough spot to fight for both armies. Open terrain around the city, some tricky water features, bad roads. And each side has spent years laying mines and fortifying positions. It’s been a battleground since 2014.


Russian President Vladimir Putin said he’s ordered fighter jets armed with hypersonic missiles to begin round-the-clock patrols over the Black Sea, ratcheting up tensions with the US amid the war in Ukraine and the spiraling crisis in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas.
Putin told reporters in Beijing after talks Wednesday with Chinese President Xi Jinping that he’d ordered MiG-31 aircraft armed with Kinzhal missiles that “have a range of more than 1,000 kilometers at a speed of Mach 9” to conduct permanent missions over neutral waters in the Black Sea.
“This is not a threat, but we will exercise visual control — control with weapons — over what is happening in the Mediterranean Sea,” Putin said. The US has moved two aviation groups into the Mediterranean in response to the Israel-Hamas war, and its recent delivery of ATACMS long-range missiles to Ukraine showed Washington was getting more deeply involved in the conflict there, he said.


Russian forces are likely to escelate their assault on the front line town of Avdiivka, a local Ukrainian official said on Wednesday.

Russia claimed to have improved its position around Avdiivka in recent days. It now controls territor to the north, south and east of the town, which lies just north of Donetsk.

"I can say for sure that this is the largest offensive that has ever taken place in Avdiivka since the war began in 2014," said the head of the town's administration, Vitaliy Barabash.

"Most likely, in the next few days we expect this escalation to continue."


Sweden has reported partial damage to an undersea telecommunications cable in the Baltic Sea running to Estonia, which authorities believe happened at the same time as damage to an undersea gas pipeline and telecom cable from Finland to Estonia.

Finland launched an investigation into possible sabotage after reporting the damage to its gas pipeline to Estonia last week.

Swedish minister for civil defence Carl-Oskar Bohlin said the damage to the cable between Sweden and Estonia appeared to have happened at the same time, but it is unclear what caused it.

“It is not a total cable break. There is a partial damage on this cable," Mr Bohlin said. “We cannot assess what caused the damage."


Ukrainian forces have made a "breakthrough" across the River Dnipro, a Russian milblogger has claimed.

The well-known Russian blogger "Rybar" claimed on Tuesday night that Ukrainian formations operating near the destroyed Antonivsky bridge had advanced and occupied the village of Poyma.

It's not the first time that Ukraine has reportedly crossed the river, but Rybar's report of a "breakthrough" is interesting.

If Kyiv's forces are able to establish a true bridgehead on the opposite side of the Dnipro it could enable them to get not just troops but tanks and artillery across the river.

This would further stretch Russian forces who are already having to hold off Ukrainian pressure right along the lengthy frontline.

Rybar continued: "After the arrival of reinforcements, the Ukrainian Armed Forces moved on and were able to reach the northern outskirts of Peschanivka . Fighting in the area continues."
 
Lengthy read here with some video:

Ukraine’s special forces use daring raids and distraction tactics in bid to free Crimea

A swarm of Ukrainian jet skis races across the ocean under pitch black skies, visible only from the infra-red camera of a drone watching from above. They slow down as they approach the shore to avoid detection and hurry onto dry land.

“Crimea will be Ukrainian,” one of the men says in video footage seen by CNN after landing, holding a Ukrainian flag.

That soldier was call-sign “Muzykant,” meaning “the musician” in English. He was a violinist who became a soldier with Ukraine’s special forces. Muzykant is the squad leader of the Bratstvo battalion which, along with Ukraine’s defense intelligence and other units, carried out the infiltration into Crimea earlier this month.

“I was so high on adrenaline,” Muzykant told CNN, explaining that the whole operation felt like a blur. “I only really understood I had been to Crimea after we returned to our base. I realized we had completed a colossal task.”

That amphibious operation, early in October, was an infiltration by Ukraine’s special forces into Russia’s biggest stronghold in occupied Ukraine, part of a recent trend that has seen Kyiv increase its attacks on the peninsula. The exact date and time of the attack have not been disclosed.
Muzykant was one of 10 Bratstvo battalion soldiers involved in the night assault on Crimea, in cooperation with other Ukrainian units – the total number of operatives is still unknown. They sailed through rough seas on larger speedboats, before switching to lower profile jet skis when they were in range of the peninsula. They then raced towards the shore, destroyed Russian military equipment placed by the sea and headed back, all in a matter of hours.

The objective was not just to sabotage some of the military equipment Moscow keeps close to the shore, but also to convey a message to Ukrainian citizens in the territory.

“We did it so that people in Ukraine and in occupied Crimea don’t lose spirit and keep faith in Crimea returning to Ukraine,” Muzykant said. Russian forces illegally annexed Crimea in 2014. The peninsula holds a deep symbolic importance to Russian President Vladimir Putin and it’s a strategically vital logistics hub for the Kremlin’s war effort.

More at link above. I believe this is referencing a different operation than the one here that was previously posted a couple pages back. The operation in that article appears to have been in late August whereas the one above took place in early October.
 
It is amazing that this recent Russian failed offensive seems to have been using mainly T-62 and BTR-50's. Typical military tactics is that an offensive should be lead by your best trained and best equipped troops. Russia, on the other hand, is taking equipment built in the 60's and throwing that up against the wall to see if it sticks.
 
Thread (maps and images at link): https://twitter.com/Tatarigami_UA/status/1714650439587885387

The Frontelligence Insight team analyzed reports of a successful strike at Berdiansk airport using high-res imagery from September and medium-res imagery from October 17th. The analysis confirmed the strike's success. 🧵Thread:
2/ The official Ukrainian Ministry of Defense (MoD) account has officially confirmed the successful execution of Operation "Dragonfly." This operation effectively targeted both Berdyansk and Luhansk Airfields
3/ Our preliminary analysis aligns with the statement from the MoD, indicating that multiple vehicles are likely to be burnt or destroyed. Yet, due to the limited quality of the available imagery, we cannot definitively determine the extent of this damage at this time.
4/ By examining historical imagery from September and August, it becomes evident that this section of the airfield has consistently been used to house attack helicopters, including models such as the Mi-28, Mi-24, and Ka-52.
5/ The high consistency strongly suggests that the lost Russian helicopters match those previously identified in this area. Additionally, it's important to note that many other helicopters have remained parked on the airstrip, even after the attack.

6/ In conclusion, it's important to acknowledge that the damage is probably more widespread than reported here. There are additional signs of destruction on the airfield, but we haven't included them in this report because we couldn't properly identify damaged objects

7/ Nevertheless, the impact of this devastating attack is undeniable. It will likely disrupt helicopter operations in the South of Ukraine for some time, compelling the Russians to adjust their logistics and the operations of nearby helicopter bases.

Preliminary assessment here says four Mi-8 and five Ka-52s were destroyed. Would wait for more confirmation on exact numbers though. ISW may have that info in the coming days.

Video: https://twitter.com/Osinttechnical/status/1714645074800164914

6x Ukrainian MGM-140 ATACMS salvo

Some images here: https://twitter.com/cxemu/status/1714705446328578373

Berdyansk airfield after missile strikes of the Armed Forces of Ukraine: satellite photos.

In the pictures of Planet Labs for October 18, which are at the disposal of the journalists of "Scheme" @KOvsianyi, the places of damage are visible. The satellite photo shows a part of the runway of the airport, where helicopters used to be located.

Another thread: https://twitter.com/OSINTua/status/1714604462159835285

Let's read a short thread about the recent Russian advance near Avdiivka. I need to notice that there are no conclusions, thoughts, predictions, etc. Not in this thread. Just facts about destroyed or abandoned Russian armor. And only in one place - near the slagheap.

Thread (with some maps and images at link): https://twitter.com/emilkastehelmi/status/1714715790153248909

The Russians have been attacking in the Avdiivka direction for a week.

Even though the intensity of the offensive has decreased, Russia has suffered large equipment losses and has made very limited progress, Ukraine is still in a potentially dangerous situation. 1/ The general situation in Avdiivka is clear. Russians attempt to encircle the city from two sides. In order to do this, the Russians would have to advance through multiple fields and villages. After a week of fighting, Ukraine still has a 7-8 km gap between the Russian pincers. 2/
As the frontlines have been largely static for almost a year now, the Ukrainians have had time to prepare. The terrain mostly favors the defender, and there aren’t many surprising directions of advance. The Russians likely noticed this too during the last week. 3/
Next, we will take a closer look on the Russian efforts on both sides of the city. In short, the Russians didn't achieve much in terms of captured square kilometres. However, they did lose much in terms of manpower and vehicles. 4/
Northern sector:

Initially some Russian units managed to reach the railroad and the waste heap on the northern side of Avdiivka. Ukraine inflicted major losses on the advancing units. It seems Russians have failed to establish a lasting foothold in either of these points. 5/
Southern sector:

Russia tried to attack from Vodiane towards Sieverne and Tonenke. There was some minor progress at some treelines, but mostly the attacks were repelled. There is no indication of Ukraine losing any villages or significant positions in this area. 6/
Avdiivka bears very limited strategical meaning. If the Russians capture it, they won't have any good options for continuing the offensive. The area behind Avdiivka doesn't directly enable further operations. Capturing Avdiivka would only straighten the frontline. 7/
Russian goals seem to be more of a political nature. They have not had any victories in months - capturing Bakhmut was hardly one. The Avdiivka salient could provide, in theory, possibilities for faster success. However, Russians have not yet been able to exploit this. 8/
Even though the first attacks were repelled, Russia will likely attack in this direction again in the future. There aren't many similar targets elsewhere. Progress will probably be slow, naturally depending on how much resources Russia will direct into capturing Avdiivka. 9/
In Bakhmut, Russians eventually switched from active flanking efforts into capturing the city block by block. If the Russians are fixated on capturing Avdiivka, there can be a long and difficult battle ahead, as Ukrainians are likely just as determined to hold it. 10/
In the long run, Ukraine may need to solve the encirclement threat with a counterattack. Especially the northern direction can develop into a real issue. Russians don’t need to advance far in order to make the situation more complicated for AFU. The distances are short. 11/
There are some worrying features, even though Ukraine managed to repel Russians for now.

Russia proved two things. It tried to take the initiative in a relatively fresh direction. Secondly, it still has reserves to do it, even though many have claimed the opposite. 12/
Even though it seems Russians have learned some lessons from previous offensives, for example from Vuhledar, the tactical outcome of the offensive in Avdiivka was still a failure. This, however, indicates that Russia aims to actively learn and adapt. 13/

This is a cool feature. An OSINT group based out of Finland named Black Bird Group analyzes the invasion and have an interactive map of the battlefield here: https://www.scribblemaps.com/maps/view/The_War_in_Ukraine/091194
 

Sweden’s Saab JAS 39 Gripen, a high-tech fighter developed during the Cold War with the Soviet Union, could be about to see hot conflict with Moscow for the first time.

Over recent weeks in Sweden, the center-right government has been gently preparing the ground for a potential deployment of the aircraft to Ukraine following announcements by European neighbors Norway, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands that they plan to send Lockheed Martin F-16 jets to Kyiv.

Defense Minister Pål Jonson said earlier this month that he had instructed Swedish military leadership to examine the potential impact of providing various types of support to Ukraine’s fighter-jet capability, including exporting or donating Gripen planes. The military is to report back by November 6, Jonson said.

“This analysis is going to need to look at how our defensive capabilities are affected, both our operative capability here and now and our long-term defense finances,” he told reporters in Stockholm.

The F-16 decisions are making the Gripen's deployment an active point of discussion.

Stefan Ungerth, a specialist on air defense at the Swedish Defense Research Agency, called it “a matter of time.”

If Sweden were to decide to send the jets, experts suggest it could take up to a year before they are flying over Ukraine, as pilots and engineers would need training on its unfamiliar systems. Still, the planes could have a big impact.


“Even a relatively small number of planes, say 10, would be of great benefit both operatively and in terms of morale for Ukraine,” Ungerth said.

The Gripen could meaningfully help Ukraine’s efforts to control its airspace. It is seen as relatively cheap and easy to maintain and it can operate from shorter, narrower runways, including improvised landing strips on straight stretches of highway. This reduces the risk of aircraft congregating at a larger base and being destroyed by a single enemy attack.

Analysts at the Royal United Services Institute, a U.K. think tank, noted in a report last year that the Gripen is specifically equipped to counter Russia's fighter and surface-to-air missile radar.
 

Russian sources claimed that likely company-sized elements of two Ukrainian naval infantry brigades conducted an assault across the Dnipro River onto the east (left) bank of Kherson Oblast on October 17-18. Geolocated footage published on October 18 indicates that Ukrainian forces advanced north of Pishchanivka (14km east of Kherson City and 3km from the Dnipro River) and into Poyma (11km east of Kherson City and 4km from the Dnipro River).[1] A prominent Russian milblogger claimed that two Ukrainian “assault groups” landed on the east bank of the Dnipro River and broke through initial Russian defenses, temporarily occupying all of Poyma and positions on the northern outskirts of Pishchanivka on the afternoon of October 17.[2] The milblogger later claimed that Russian forces pushed Ukrainian forces back from these positions towards the Dnipro River.[3] The milblogger claimed that a Ukrainian sabotage group is still operating in Pishchanivka as of the afternoon of October 18. The milblogger, however, suggested that Russian forces only maintain positions on the southern outskirts of the settlement. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) also acknowledged the Ukrainian operations, claiming that Russian forces stopped four Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance groups near Pidstepne (16km east of Kherson City) and Poyma.[4] Another prominent Russian milblogger also claimed that Ukrainian forces occupied Poyma on the night of October 17 to 18.[5]

Russian sources expressed pronounced concern about ongoing Ukrainian activity on the east bank of Kherson Oblast and framed these activities as part of a potential larger Ukrainian operation. The majority of Russian claims about developments on the east bank are largely single-sourced to one prominent Russian milblogger who has recently heavily focused his reporting on this section of the front.[6] Russian sources characterized the reported assaults as a Ukrainian effort to expand a “bridgehead” on the east bank and the initial stages of a larger offensive operation across the Dnipro River.[7] Russian President Vladimir Putin similarly described Ukrainian activity in Kherson Oblast as the “next counteroffensive” and continued his typical rhetorical line by painting all Ukrainian offensive operations as a failure.[8] The prominent Russian milblogger who is the basis for many of these claims has expressed concern about a Ukrainian offensive across the Dnipro River on and off throughout 2023 and escalated his warnings in late September 2023. The milblogger reacted to the reported assault on the night of October 17 to 18 by accusing the Russian MoD of not taking the threat of a Ukrainian crossing seriously.[9]
Russian concerns about the ability of Russian forces to repel a potential Ukrainian offensive operation across the Dnipro River may be partially connected to the condition of the Russian grouping of forces on the left bank. The Russian command has drawn relatively more elite units from the Kherson direction to support defensive operations in western Zaporizhia Oblast in recent months due to likely viewing Kherson as a quiet sector, and the current force composition in the area is likely relatively less combat effective.[10] Ukrainian Southern Operational Command Spokesperson Captain First Rank Nataliya Humenyuk stated on October 17 that Russian forces were still redeploying trained units from the Kherson direction to the Zaporizhia and eastern directions.[11] The Russian military may have recently redeployed elements of the 41st Combined Arms Army (Central Military District) and the 810th Naval Infantry Brigade (Black Sea Fleet) to the Kherson direction, however, but it is unclear where in Kherson Oblast elements of the 41st Combined Arms Army are currently deployed.[12] Ukrainian counteroffensive operations reportedly previously rendered the 810th Naval Infantry Brigade combat ineffective as of September 22.[13]

ISW will not speculate on the scope and prospects of ongoing Ukrainian activity on the east bank of Kherson Oblast but does not assess that Ukrainian forces have created a bridgehead on the east bank of Kherson Oblast suitable for the further maneuver of sizeable mechanized forces at this time. However, it is noteworthy that prominent and generally reliable Russian sources are discussing Ukrainian activities on the east bank as occurring at a larger scale than previously documented tactical cross-river raids by Ukrainian forces. ISW will continue to monitor the area closely and assess control of terrain changes and Russian responses, in line with its standing policy of not forecasting Ukrainian actions.

Another thread with imagery on link: https://twitter.com/Tatarigami_UA/status/1714797845457350817

Amid the predominant public focus on the successful ATACMS strike at Berdyansk airfield, our team has also assembled a comprehensive report on the outcomes of a similar strike at Luhansk airport, where numerous Russian attack and transport helicopters are stationed.
🧵Thread:
2/
The visual evidence from the Planet Labs imagery at our disposal shows that a minimum of 5 helicopters have experienced varying degrees of damage. There's also a chance that other airfield vehicles have been affected, but the current resolution makes confirmation difficult.
3/

In the October 18th imagery, scorch marks from explosions are evident on the airport apron, confirming the deployment of the previously reported M-39 ATACMS missile with nearly a thousand anti-personnel and anti-material bomblets.
4/ To rule out the chance of these scorch marks being old or from previous shelling, we've included imagery from October 10 for comparison. In that imagery, you can observe various pre-existing scorch marks and oil stains, but there are no signs of extensive explosions.
5/ By analyzing scorch mark patterns and submunition characteristics, we've concluded that avoiding damage, especially for larger objects like helicopters, is highly challenging. This is supported by secondary indicators like rotor absence, leaks, and missing parts.
6/ The affected area is extensive, and there appears to be a crater. However, we cannot confirm whether it solely resulted from the missile impact, a vehicle detonation, or a combination of both simultaneously.
7/ While the report of the attack is dated October 17th, multiple helicopters are still present at the base, mirroring a pattern observed at Berdyansk airfield.
8/ In conclusion, the attacks in both Berdyansk and Luhansk were successful, despite being protected by various air defense systems. Our team will continue to closely monitor the situation to collect additional data for future updates.

Oryx has four Mi-8's and five Ka-52's on their list for Russian equipment losses for 18/10/2023
 

Nato is stepping up patrols in the Baltic Sea after recent damage to undersea infrastructure in the region, the transatlantic military alliance said on Thursday.

“The increased measures include additional surveillance and reconnaissance flights, including with maritime patrol aircraft, Nato Awacs planes and drones. A fleet of four Nato minehunters is also being dispatched to the area,” Reuters reports Nato said in a statement.

The Balticconnector pipeline linking Finland and Estonia ruptured earlier this month in a possible deliberate act of sabotage, authorities have said. Both countries are Nato members that border Russia.

Finnish police said on Thursday they had completed their crime scene investigation into the damage to a subsea gas pipeline between Finland and Estonia.

The Balticconnector pipeline linking Finland and Estonia ruptured earlier this month in what authorities said may have been a deliberate act of sabotage, cutting off the flow of gas between the two countries until April at least.

Reuters reports police said in a statement that samples collected at the site in cooperation with Finland’s armed forces and coast guard would now be analysed.

Finland had said it cannot exclude the possibility that a “state actor” was behind the damage. The pipeline connects two Nato countries, with Finland joining the alliance in April 2023 as a result of applying after Russian launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.


Kyiv's forces have made some headway against Russian forces in southern Ukraine but face new Russian attacks around the eastern town of Avdiivka, the Ukrainian military said on Thursday.
In an update on Kyiv's more than four-month-old counteroffensive in the south and east, military spokesperson Oleksandr Stupun reported an advance of 400 metres (0.25 mile) to the southwest of Verbove in the Zaporizhzhia region.
 

Based on accounts provided by two Serbian fighters who travelled to Russia, as well as a leaked list of recruited Serbs, the Guardian found that Russian officials appear to have made plans to recruit hundreds of Serbian nationals to bolster the army.

UK MoD: https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1714879183271211392

On 14 October 2023, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin declared that damage from Ukraine’s July 2023 strike on the Crimean bridge had been repaired ahead of schedule. (1/5)
Although fully operational, use of the bridge remains restricted due to procedures enacted following the first Ukrainian attack in October 2022. Trucks and fuel supplies continue to be moved by ferry. (2/5)
The Crimean bridge will remain a vital link in sustaining Russia’s occupation of Crimea and its forces in southern Ukraine. (3/5)
However, it is now almost certainly a significant security burden requiring multi-domain protection, including the use of air defence systems and crews who would otherwise be deployed elsewhere. (4/5)
Russian security forces confidence in their ability to protect this large and vulnerable structure will continue to be threatened by the ingenuity of Ukraine’s military and security services. (5/5)


Would have been so helpful for Ukraine to have these ATACMS in June, when Ka-52 gunships were destroying advancing columns in Zaporizhzhia.


"Currently, there will be no deliveries of Taurus missiles to Ukraine. In my opinion, the federal government and the chancellor of Germany have made this very clear. We have also informed the Ukrainian government about this decision, and in detail. And for now, this is all I can say publicly about this occasion," Jäger emphasised.


Russian Telegram channels are posting about a strike by the Lancet-3 loitering drone against a Ukrainian helicopter 18km from the city of Donetsk. Some channels are suggesting a more advanced, AI-enabled Lancet version. Unclear which version was used.
 

A brief update on both airfields:

- Nearly all helicopters have been relocated from the airstrip, with only a few remaining in Luhansk

-Berdyansk Airfield appears to retain approximately six helicopters, which are undergoing some maintenance, likely before their relocation

I can't say with certainty, but it appears they are removing blades for subsequent ground transportation. At least 6 helicopters are irreparably damaged due to fire, 1 is in poor condition, and 1 likely has already been removed, making it challenging to determine its exact state

Cool feature: https://twitter.com/georgewbarros/status/1715140710549131458

NEW: 3D map functionality 🌎

Users can now examine our Ukraine control of terrain map in 3D to better appreciate how topography and elevation data affects the battlefield.

This 3D map lives beneath the classic 2D map, just scroll down a little further

Here is link: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/36a7f6a6f5a9448496de641cf64bd375


Despite the determined efforts of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU), five months of offensive operations have not breached Russia’s defence lines in Zaporizhzhia. Ukraine retains some options to make Russian dispositions uncomfortable, but it is highly unlikely that there will be a breakthrough towards Tokmak this year unless Russian forces decide to withdraw. The Ukrainians now face a difficult set of competing imperatives: to maintain pressure on the Russians while reconstituting their units for future offensive operations.
Attrition and Initiative
Both Russia and Ukraine have struggled to generate offensive combat power in 2023. The heavy attrition of experienced junior officers and trained field-grade staff has limited the scale at which offensive action can be synchronised. Combined with terrain that contains fighting and the canalising effect of dense minefields, Ukrainian forces have been restricted to company-scale operations. When they have expanded the scale of operations, Ukrainian forces have found that they lose synchronisation with their supporting arms. Russia has similarly struggled to synchronise and coordinate larger-scale activities, but this has not prevented it from attempting them, at great cost in personnel and materiel.

For both sides, the ability to expand the scale at which they can operate effectively is constrained by training opportunities. Ukrainian units – committed to the front – struggle to be pulled far enough from the Russians to train at larger scale. Russia, meanwhile, is having to commit many of its replacement troops to keep up the strength of its units at the front because of its high rate of casualties. So long as this high casualty rate can be maintained, therefore, it becomes possible to suppress Russia’s ability to train sufficient new troops to the standard needed to effectively conduct offensive action.

If sustaining a high casualty rate suppresses Russia’s ability to regain the initiative, the question becomes whether Ukraine and its international partners can refine the training pipeline – better connecting training inside and outside of Ukraine – to enable Ukraine to exploit the opportunity in the spring. This is complicated by the need to keep up the pressure on Russian forces.
During the winter of 2022–3, much of the front saw intense skirmishing, but only limited Ukrainian attempts to significantly alter the line of control. The lack of a threat of offensive action by the AFU allowed Russia to build three extensive defence lines with mines, trenches and obstacles, which made Ukraine’s offensive operations this summer an order of magnitude more difficult. If Ukraine does not continue to pressure the Russian line in the winter, the risk is that these defence lines are expanded. Thus, Kyiv must balance reconstitution with a need to keep up pressure on Russian forces.

The Materiel Balance
Ukraine will face further challenges because of the shifting balance of materiel advantage. Over the summer Ukraine gained fires superiority for the first time, delivering more rounds per day onto Russian positions than came back in many sectors. This was critical to the progress made, but saw an ammunition consumption rate above 200,000 rounds per month.

Sufficient ammunition to sustain this rate of fire is not going to be forthcoming as NATO stockpiles deplete, and production rates for ammunition remain too low to meet this level of demand. On the Russian side, by comparison, production has turned a corner. Not only is Russian domestic ammunition production rising rapidly, but new ammunition production is being supplied from Iran, North Korea and other states. Bottlenecks in spare barrels and other critical parts will prevent Russia from establishing fires dominance for the next quarter, while NATO production should increase later in 2024, but for a while Ukraine faces the challenge of maintaining Russian attrition without an abundance of artillery.

Another challenge lies in air defence. The one plausible path towards Russia gaining a decisive advantage on the battlefield is if its aerospace forces are able to begin bombing from medium altitude, significantly increasing the accuracy of their strikes. To do this, they would need to denude Ukraine of its air defences. In this light, Russia’s impending strikes on Ukrainian critical national infrastructure remain a strategic threat. If Russia can destroy the ability to pump water in Ukraine’s cities during periods of cold temperature, pipes will burst, potentially rendering urban areas uninhabitable. Thus, the missiles must be intercepted – but interceptors are a scarce commodity.

For Russia, the supply of strike munitions is increasing. In October 2022 Russia was producing approximately 40 long-range missiles a month. Now it is producing over 100 a month, and this is supplemented by large numbers of Geran-2 UAVs. Furthermore, on 18 October, UN Security Council restrictions on Iran’s missile programme lapsed. Russia has been pushing for Iran to supply it with missiles after that date, with an expectation that this will provide a large supply of missiles in the winter. NATO’s ability to expand the production of interceptors and radar for air defences is therefore critical.

Keeping Russia Unbalanced
Despite these threats, Ukraine has options for continuing to cause Russia’s position in southern Ukraine to deteriorate. Long-range strikes using ATACMS destroyed Electronic Warfare helicopters that had been important for protecting Russian forces from a range of effects. Carefully orchestrated attacks on Russian air defences are also making a range of softer targets more vulnerable. Once these gaps open, Ukraine can maximise the efficiency of the limited stocks of GMLRS it possesses to destroy and disrupt Russian logistics.
At the same time, if a massed breakthrough is looking less likely, Ukraine can exploit the width of the front to keep Russian forces in the field as the weather deteriorates. Recent attacks across the Dnipro, for example, expand the frontage that Russian troops must defend, reducing the number of forces that can be pulled back and trained or reconstituted. Actions that make progress where the Russians have left themselves vulnerable can be rapidly exploited. Russian commanders cannot, therefore, simply trade space on their flanks.

The winter once again poses an opportunity to maximise Russian losses. If Russian troops are drawn into the defence along a wide front, with Ukrainian troops pushing into opportunities rather than trying to break through defended areas, then Russian forces will be outside, getting wet and cold. If targeted strikes can degrade their logistics, then the limited training and fieldcraft of Russian forces can maximise climactic injuries. It is notable that Russian casualties last winter were exceedingly high, even when Russia had fires superiority.

Further activity in the Black Sea is also important. Firstly, expanding the threat to the Crimean Peninsula spreads out increasingly threatened and scarce defensive systems like the S-400. Secondly, the progressive erosion of the Black Sea Fleet’s freedom of manoeuvre helps to set the conditions for the isolation of Crimea in 2024. While these conditions can be created, however, they are all dependent upon the AFU being able to reconstitute. With Washington embroiled in political dysfunction, the assurances needed to plan for 2024 will increasingly fall on European capitals. Thus, for Ukraine’s international partners, the task of creating the conditions for a successful campaign in 2024 must be committed to today.
 
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So far, the ATACMS missiles that Ukraine has gotten are examples of the initial variant, known variously as the MGM-140A, the M39, and the Block I. These missiles have payloads consisting of 950 relatively small M74 submunitions. Though the area across which the submunitions are dispersed depends on release height and intended density dispersion, a stated typical profile for a single MGM-140A would see it rain its payload across a circular area some 677 feet in diameter, covering 360,000 square feet in total.

As The War Zone previously explained in detail, airfields like the one Berdyansk, packed with 'soft targets' like helicopters, jets, and air defense systems out in the open, are exactly the kind of things that cluster munition-filled versions of ATACMS are ideally suited to strike. The satellite imagery from earlier today offers clear evidence of just how effective the strike on Berdyansk was thanks to the capabilities these missiles offer.

On top of that, MGM-140As, even though they have shorter ranges than later versions of ATACMS, just give the Ukrainian military additional capacity to strike at targets deeper inside Russian-occupied areas of the country. Based on the understood positions of the front lines now, Block I ATACMS are more than capable of hitting Russian forces in most parts of the country, including the northern part of the Crimean Peninsula.


Ukrainian forces used U.S.-supplied long-range ATACMS missiles for the first time this week, with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy saying on Tuesday that the weapons had "proven themselves."
Ukraine had repeatedly asked the U.S. for ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile Systems), which Kyiv has pledged not to use inside Russia's territory.
The Biden administration may soon begin shipping to Ukraine several variants of Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS), a long-range missile system that often carries varying amounts of cluster bomblets.

Senior Ukrainian officials have said they could help alter the course of the 20-month-old war, allowing Ukrainian forces to disrupt previously unreachable supply lines, air bases and rail networks used by Russia in occupied territories.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday the missiles would not significantly change the battlefield situation. The following information relies heavily on U.S. Army presentations and budget data.

- The M39 Block I ATACMS is a guided missile with a range of 25 to 165 km (15 to 100 miles) that carries a payload of 950 anti-personnel and equipment-destroying bomblets. The M39 Block I was added to the U.S. arsenal in 1991 and is no longer in production. There were about 1,650 made with several hundred used in conflicts such as Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom, according to Army documents. Remaining units are being modernized to a version what does not contain cluster munitions. The Pentagon says the dud rate - the percentage of distributed munitions that do not explode once deployed - is classified.

- M39A1 Block IA ATACMS is guided in part by GPS and has a range of 70 to 300 km (40 to 190 miles) carrying a payload of 300 M74 bomblets. There were 610 produced with about 74 used in Operation Iraqi Freedom, according to Army documents. The M39 Block IA joined the U.S. arsenal in 1997 and is no longer in production, with remaining units being modernized to a version that does not contain cluster munitions. The Pentagon says the dud rate is classified. According to a Reuters review of Army documents and budget documents - less than 1,114 M39 and M39A1 warheads remain in stores due to field use and the modification program.

- M48 ATACMS deliver a single, 500-pound (230-kg) high-explosive warhead at a range of 70 to 300 km (40 to 190 miles). The explosion sends hundreds of thousands of fragments across its target area. There were about 176 made with about 55 used in conflicts such as Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom, according to Army documents. The M48 joined the U.S. arsenal in 2001.
- ATACMS M57 deliver a single, 500-pound (230-kg) high-explosive warhead at a range of 70 to 300 km (40 to 190 miles) similar to the M48. There were about 513 made, with about 33 used in conflicts such as Operation Enduring Freedom, according to Army Documents. The M57 debuted in 2004.
- M57A1 has specifications nearly identical to the M57, but the height of the blast can be changed, allowing blast fragments to be disbursed across a larger area.
 

Russian sources continued to discuss larger-than-usual Ukrainian ground operations on the east (left) bank of Kherson Oblast on October 19, and Ukrainian forces likely maintain a limited presence in some east bank areas near the Dnipro River shoreline and the Antonivsky railway bridge. The prominent Russian milblogger who initiated Russian discussion of Ukrainian assaults on the east bank on October 18 claimed on October 19 that two Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance groups of a Ukrainian naval infantry brigade crossed the Dnipro River, overwhelmed the Russian troops in the area, and gained a foothold in the village of Krynky (30km east of Kherson City and about 2km inland from the Dnipro River shoreline).[1] The milblogger claimed that Russian infantry counterattacked and pushed Ukrainian forces back towards the outskirts of the village but noted that Ukrainian troops still control some houses in Krynky and are waiting for reinforcements to arrive in the area.[2] Another Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces used more manpower in attacks on Krynky than in previous attacks.[3] Several Russian sources, including Kherson Oblast occupation head Vladimir Saldo, claimed that Russian forces managed to push Ukrainian forces back from the Poyma-Pishchanivka-Pidstepne area (15km east of Kherson City) to the Dnipro River shoreline and to positions under the Antonivsky railway bridge, where they claim Ukrainian forces are trying to rest and regroup under constant Russian air and artillery strikes.[4] The Ukrainian General Staff also notably tacitly acknowledged Ukrainian operations on the east bank and reported on October 19 that Russian airstrikes hit Pishchanivka, implying Ukrainian forces were operating in the town.[5] While Russian sources continue to offer slightly diverging claims about the scale of the Ukrainian attacks on the east bank, ISW continues to assess that current Ukrainian actions appear to be larger than previously observed tactical raids, and available geolocated footage indicates that Ukrainian forces maintain a presence along the shoreline and near the Antonivsky railway bridge despite Russian counterattacks.[6]

Ukrainian officials reported on October 19 that Ukrainian forces have downed five Russian fixed wing aircraft within the past 10 days in Donetsk Oblast amid high Russian ground vehicle losses near Avdiivka.[10] Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Commander Brigadier General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi reported on October 19 that Ukrainian forces shot down five fixed-wing aircraft, including at least one Su-25 fighter jet, in Donetsk Oblast.[11] Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Oleksandr Shtupun stated that Russian forces primarily use attack aircraft to conduct airstrikes but that the aircraft are ineffective at range, forcing Russian aircraft to fly closer to the front line and resulting in the loss of five aircraft in 10 days.[12] Shtupun stated that there are unconfirmed reports that Ukrainian forces damaged additional Russian aircraft.[13] Shutpun reported that Russian forces also operate Su-34 and Su-35 fighters in the Tavriisk direction but that Russian forces do not fly these aircraft close to the front line out of fear of Ukrainian air defenses.[14] Russian forces notably suffered vehicle losses of likely at least 45 tanks and armored vehicles, at least one battalion tactical group’s (BTG) worth, in the initial days of the offensive effort near Avdiivka.[15] Tarnavskyi’s announcement indicates that Russian forces continue to pay a high materiel cost to support the ongoing Avdiivka effort, and continued materiel losses will likely continue to slow down the Russian pace of advance in the area.

Ukrainian forces reportedly advanced south of Bakhmut and in western Zaporizhia Oblast amid continued counteroffensive operations on October 19. A Ukrainian soldier stated that Ukrainian forces achieved unspecified success near Klishchiivka (7km southwest of Bakhmut), Andriivka (10km southwest of Bakhmut), and Kurdyumivka (13km southwest of Bakhmut) and advanced into the Russian defensive line towards Opytne (3km south of Bakhmut).[16] Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Captain Ilya Yevlash stated on October 18 that Ukrainian forces have advanced across the railway line in unspecified areas south of Bakhmut.[17] Russian sources also claimed that Ukrainian forces advanced across the railway line in Klishchiivka on October 18.[18] ISW has not yet observed visual confirmation of Ukrainian troops operating beyond the rail line east of Klishchiivka. The Ukrainian General Staff and other Ukrainian military sources reported that Ukrainian forces were successful south of Robotyne and southwest of Verbove (10km east of Robotyne).[19] Ukrainian military observer Kostyantyn Mashovets stated that Ukrainian forces pushed Russian forces back from positions near Verbove and advanced between 1.5-1.6km into Russian defensive lines in an unspecified part of the Robotyne front.[20]

A Russian milblogger observed that Ukrainian forces are successfully and asymmetrically attriting Russian reserves in ongoing offensive operations. In a series of long Telegram posts on October 19, the milblogger noted that Ukrainian forces are purposefully conducting offensive operations to attrit limited Russian reserves while preserving their own reserves to the utmost possible extent.[26] The milblogger claimed that the state of Russian infantry is at its lowest point in the war and emphasized that Ukrainian forces are exploiting the fact that Ukraine knows Russia will not conduct a general mobilization.[27] These observations are largely consistent with ISW's assessment that Russian forces largely lack high-quality reserves and are struggling to generate, train, and soundly deploy reserves to effectively plug holes in the frontline and pursue offensive operations, instead relying largely on tactical-level lateral redeployments.[28] ISW has also previously observed that Ukrainian forces have engaged Russian troops in an asymmetrical attrition gradient along many critical sectors of the frontline.[29] Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) analyst Dr Jack Watling similarly observed on October 19 that as long as Ukrainian forces can continue inflicting a high casualty rate on Russian forces, ”it becomes possible to suppress Russia’s ability to train sufficient new troops to the standard needed to effectively conduct offensive action.”[30]

The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) reportedly continues efforts to push remnants of the Wagner Group out of Syria. A Kremlin-affiliated Russian milblogger amplified claims on October 19 that the Russian MoD and Syrian forces allegedly acting under the Russian MoD’s influence are trying to push Wagner forces stationed near Palmyra out of Syria.[31] A Russian insider source claiming to have connections to the Wagner Group claimed that ISIS and other extremist groups will likely take advantage of Wagner’s withdrawal from Syria, further destabilizing the region.[32]
 
Russia and Ukraine are a textbook example of what nuclear weapons can do for a country. If Ukraine had them, this never would have happened. If Russia didn't have them, they would have never attacked and if they did, they likely have been a target for China in the east and Ukraine in the west after all these failed advances.

This is why Iran, NK, etc needs to never have nukes. It gives them the authority to attack with little chance anyone will ever advance beyond their own borders.
 

Exclusive: We have emails and documents from members of GRU Unit 29155–Putin’s assassination and sabotage squad—proving their culpability for a 2011 bombing in Bulgaria. The IEDs were planted in Czechia.The target was ammunition bound for Georgia.


Hmm. Israeli officials tell @axios the Pentagon plans to send them tens of thousands of 155mm artillery shells that had been destined for Ukraine from US emergency stocks.


According to some estimates, Ukraine fired 180-230k rounds in July & August achieving local fire superiority for the 1st time. 🇺🇦 will struggle to achieve similar rates of fire in 2024. The #s discussed below are relatively small when compared to overall artillery consumption.

Ukrainian forces not receiving these 'tens of thousands' of 155mm shells earmarked for use in Ukraine is not significant in its own right. It does, however, amplify an existing downward trend for 2024 when it comes to stockpiling artillery ammunition for future 🇺🇦 operations.


Ukrainian resistance forces in Russian-occupied Melitopol blew up a car of Russian soldiers who were allegedly looting empty apartments in the city, said Ivan Fedorov, the city’s exiled mayor.

“They regularly tracked and looted empty apartments in the city. And at this time, our resistance forces were tracking the occupiers,” Fedorov said. “During another night hunt in the area of Aviamistechka, at the very moment of loading looted goods into the car, an explosion occurred.”

A United Nations commission of inquiry on Ukraine found additional evidence that Russian forces had committed “indiscriminate attacks” and war crimes in Ukraine, including rape and the deportation of children to Russia, Reuters reports.

“The commission has found new evidence that Russian authorities have committed violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law, and corresponding crimes, in areas that came under their control in Ukraine,” it said in a report submitted to the UN general assembly that highlighted attacks in the cities of Uman and Kherson, among others.

“The commission has recently documented attacks that affected civilian objects, such as residential buildings, a railway station, shops, and a warehouse for civilian use, leading to numerous casualties.”

Though Russia has denied committing war crimes or targeting civilians, the commission said it had documented cases of rape “with the use of force or psychological coercion”.

“Most of the incidents occurred after the perpetrators broke into the victims’ homes,” it said. “Victims reported rapes at gunpoint and threats of killing or of inflicting other serious harm to the victims or their relatives.”

The commission also documented the transfer of 31 children from Ukraine to Russia in May and “concluded that it was an unlawful deportation and a war crime”. Moscow has repeatedly denied forcibly taking Ukrainian children.

The Russian diplomatic mission in Geneva did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
 
UK MoD: https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1715241527071441273

(1/7) On 17 October 2023, several Russian helicopters and air defence equipment were likely struck at Berdyansk and Luhansk airfields.
(2/7) Although the extent of damage is currently unconfirmed, it is likely nine Russian military helicopters at Berdyansk and five at Luhansk were destroyed, with Ukraine claiming to have used the US-provided long-range army tactical missiles (ATACMS) for the first time.
(3/7) Given that Russian fixed wing close air support to date has been extremely poor, Russian defensive lines have become increasingly reliant on rotary wing support in the face of the Ukrainian offensive.
(4/8) Berdyansk was being used as a primary Forward Operating Base on the southern axis providing both logistics and offensive/defensive capabilities.
(5/8) If confirmed, it is highly likely these losses will have an impact on Russia’s ability both to defend and conduct further offensive activity on this axis.
(6/8) Given the current strain on Russian military production, the confirmed loss of any air frames will be difficult to replace in the short to medium term.
(7/8) This loss will also likely create additional pressure on Russia’s pilots and air frames, already almost certainly suffering combat exhaustion and maintenance issues due to the unanticipated protracted campaign.
(8/8) There is a realistic possibility this strike will compel Russia to once again relocate its operating bases and command and control nodes farther from the front lines, increasing the burden on logistics chains.

Overview of situation of crossing Dnipro River: https://twitter.com/War_Mapper/status/1715323121257816443


The work of the small group from Ukraine’s 45th Artillery Brigade is part of a largely unseen battle taking place far from the trenches. With front lines hardening after nearly 20 months of war, progress for either side depends on being able to silence, or at least quieten, the enemy’s guns so that infantry and vehicles can advance.
With some 70% of Ukrainian combat casualties resulting from artillery strikes, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, taking Russian guns out of the fight saves Ukrainian lives.
In this contest, Ukraine has an advantage in the accuracy of its artillery, aided by Western equipment and Ukrainian ingenuity. That has helped Kyiv’s forces to gain near-parity in a field where Russia previously had an edge, according to soldiers on the front line. Russia is also improving, Ukrainian soldiers say, by using drones to guide its big guns.
“This is one of the key tactical contests,” said Michael Kofman, a defense analyst and expert on Russian and Ukrainian militaries at the Carnegie Endowment. “And since the war is heavily driven by effective employment of artillery, it is one of the principal battles that play out.”

With the war dragging on, Ukraine and its partners are struggling to boost the production of artillery shells, leading to rationing and increasing the importance of accuracy. Russia is also suffering from shortages, and relentless Ukrainian strikes have forced it to relocate ammunition stocks further from the front lines.
“It’s not just your ability to successfully engage a target,” Kofman said. “It also matters how many artillery shells it takes you to be able to conduct these missions.”
WarSpotting, an independent group tracking losses in the war, says Ukraine has destroyed 177 Russian guns including multiple-launch rocket systems since its counteroffensive began in June. In the southern Zaporizhzhia region, the focus of the counteroffensive, its analysts say Russia has had 92 guns destroyed while Ukraine has lost 19.

When Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union, the military equipped groups of spotters with a compass and sent them into fields adjacent to enemy positions, to monitor the trajectory of artillery strikes and report back on whether an enemy target had been struck. Soviet doctrine holds that as many as 250 shells should be used to destroy a single enemy battery.
Drones have revolutionized Ukraine’s way of war, and precision strikes have allowed it to ration shells.
But Russian forces are also adapting. Capt. Vasyl Semkanych, press officer of the 45th, said that early in the invasion Russia wasted thousands of artillery shells, on one occasion firing 900 into an empty field far from his brigade’s positions. During its failed winter offensive and until Ukraine launched its counteroffensive in the summer, Russia deployed towed artillery close to its forward line of troops and kept it in place so long that Ukraine had ample time to strike it.
Now, Semkanych said Russia is combining blanket artillery strikes according to Soviet doctrine with precision strikes guided by drones. It is also targeting each element of Ukraine’s counter-battery strategy: radars, drones and artillery pieces. Its electronic-warfare systems down several Ukrainian drones each day. Nail’s unit has to move its guns constantly to avoid Russian fire.
Ukraine has fewer than a dozen counter-battery radars and they are a particularly high-value target. Soldiers limit their use to avoid exposure, but when switched on they emit radio waves that are easy to detect by Russia’s anti-radiation missiles. Hammer’s radar has been targeted twice by Russian forces.

If the radar is spotted, operators can see on the computer that its signal has been detected. They then decide whether to move location or go dark, deactivating the signal and temporarily leaving the base, Hammer said. It is only at night that they travel out to radar positions or rotate personnel there.
“When we destroy enemy infantry, we know that sooner or later, more will come,” he said. “If we destroy an artillery piece, we ensure relative peace on a section of the front line for quite a long time.”
 

Russian forces launched a renewed offensive push near Avdiivka on October 20 and marginally advanced, indicating that the Russian military command remains committed to offensive operations in the area despite heavy materiel and personnel losses. Geolocated footage published on October 20 shows that Russian forces secured minor advances west of Krasnohorivka (5km north of Avdiivka).[1] Russian milbloggers and a Ukrainian military observer claimed that Russian forces captured a Ukrainian stronghold near the waste heap just northeast of Avdiivka, advanced to a rail station north of Avdiivka, and advanced near the “Tsarska Okhota” restaurant south of Avdiivka.[2] One prominent Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces unsuccessfully attacked near Sieverne (6km west of Avdiivka), south of Avdiivka, near Stepove (8km northwest of Avdiivka), and near Novokalynove (11km northwest of Avdiivka), however.[3] Other milbloggers claimed that Russian forces advanced up to one kilometer on the Stepove-Berdychi line (8-10km northwest of Avdiivka) on October 19 and that fighting is ongoing near Berdychi on October 20.[4] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian attacks near Avdiivka, Novokalynove, Stepove, Pervomaiske (11km southwest of Avdiivka), and Sieverne.[5]

The Ukrainian General Staff reported on October 20 that Ukrainian forces damaged and destroyed almost 50 Russian tanks and over 100 armored vehicles during the past day of fighting near Avdiivka.[6] Ukrainian soldiers operating in the Avdiivka area reported on October 20 that Ukrainian forces have destroyed 200 Russian armored vehicles in the past four days.[7] Avdiivka City Military Administration Head Vitaliy Barabash stated that Russian forces are attempting to repair damaged equipment while still in the field.[8] Footage published on October 20 shows Ukrainian forces striking a Russian TOS-1 thermobaric artillery system near Avdiivka.[9] A Russian milblogger complained that Russian counterbattery fire near Avdiivka is decreasing in effectiveness due to poor communication and the failure to stockpile munitions ahead of the offensive effort, very likely exacerbating material losses in the area.[10] The initial Russian offensive operations in the Avdiivka area on October 10 also resulted in high verified Russian equipment losses, and the fact that Russian forces regrouped and re-launched assaults after the initial attacks suggests that either Russian forces believe they can feasibly take Avdiivka, or that the Russian military command is poorly prioritizing offensive operations regardless of cost.[11]

Ukrainian forces continued larger-than-usual ground operations on the east (left) bank of Kherson Oblast on October 20 and established a confirmed presence in a settlement on the east bank. Geolocated footage published on October 19 indicates that Ukrainian forces advanced into northeastern Krynky (27km east from Kherson City and 2km from the Dnipro River).[12] Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces are establishing a foothold near Krynky and continue to maintain their presence near the Antonivsky roadway and railway bridges.[13] A prominent Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces temporarily advanced further into Krynky up to the Kozachi Laheri-Krynky-Korsunka road before Russian airstrikes pushed Ukrainian troops back to the northern outskirts of the settlement.[14] Another Russian milblogger claimed that fighting is ongoing near Pishchanivka (14km east from Kherson City and 4km from the Dnipro River) and that a Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance group is operating on the southern outskirts of the settlement.[15] The prominent Russian milblogger suggested that Russian forces only maintained positions on the southern outskirts of Pishchanivka as of the afternoon of October 18, and the Ukrainian General Staff reported on October 19 that Russian aviation struck Pishchanivka, implying that Ukrainian forces were still operating in the settlement.[16] ISW has not observed any other visual confirmation of Ukrainian forces maintaining positions in east bank settlements other than Krynky, however.

Russian and Ukrainian sources continue to indicate that the Russian units defending the east bank of Kherson Oblast are relatively less combat effective than other Russian forces elsewhere on the front. A Ukrainian military observer stated that the Russian Dnepr Grouping of Forces is primarily comprised of elements of the 49th Combined Arms Army (Southern Military District) and likely elements of the newly created 18th Combined Arms Army.[17] The majority of the 49th Combined Arms Army (CAA) has been deployed to east bank Kherson Oblast since Russian forces withdrew from the west (right) bank, and elements of the 49th CAA’s 205th Motorized Rifle Regiment have since suffered significant casualties.[18] The United Kingdom Ministry of Defense (UK MoD) reported on August 21 that the Russian military was likely forming the new 18th CAA from other units currently operating in Kherson Oblast, and it is unlikely that the new units of the 18th CAA are entirely comprised of fresh forces or staffed to doctrinal end strength.[19] The deployment of the 18th CAA to Kherson Oblast is reminiscent of the rushed deployment of the newly created 25th CAA to the Kupyansk and Lyman directions in early September 2023, and the 18th CAA likely faces similar issues with a lack of personnel, equipment, and proper training.[20] A Russian milblogger claimed that elements of the 26th Motorized Rifle Regiment, reportedly of 70th Motorized Rifle Division of the 18th CAA, are defending against Ukrainian activities near Krynky.[21] Another Russian milblogger claimed that elements of the 1st Battalion of the 177th Naval Infantry Regiment (Caspian Flotilla) are operating near the Antonivsky railway bridge.[22] Elements of the 177th Naval Infantry Regiment have been defending in western Zaporizhia Oblast since the start of the Ukrainian counteroffensive and have likely suffered significant casualties.[23]
 

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