Issue 136, 2 August 2022
Situational report CAO 2AUG2022
- On Tuesday, Russian forces captured new territories south of Bakhmut and northwest and west of Donetsk.
- Russians withdrew several BTGs from the Izyum area and are probably moving them to Kherson/Zaporozhihia regions.
- This could create a favourable condition for Ukrainians, allowing them to recapture territories near Izyum.
- Moscow has likely temporarily abandoned the idea of capturing Siversk and Slovyansk.
- In Belarus, elements of General Staff-controlled artillery systems went to a nearby training range to conduct exercises.
Russian forces made incremental progress near Bakhmut and Donetsk on Tuesday. The pace of Russian advance is in line with our previous estimates that do not foresee large-scale attacks or high-tempo, combined-arms operations.
We are now witnessing an extensive reorganisation of the Russian posture in Ukraine that will probably impact how the conflict will unfold over the medium term. Most of the forces deployed around Izyum have been shifted to the Kherson and Zaporzhihia regions to augment Russian positions there. Kherson, in particular, is where the increase in Russian military presence has been the largest.
This comes despite Ukrainian precision strikes on bridges near Kherson and Russian rear bases. According to Serhii Khlan, adviser to the head of the Kherson Regional State Administration, Ukrainian forces have a certain advantage along the contact line. However, new equipment keeps arriving despite attacks on Russian rear bases, logistics hubs, transport arteries, and so on. Therefore, it is unclear to what extent Ukrainians can stop Russians from deploying reinforcements. A part of the problem could be capability-related. Still, it should also be stated that to transport military equipment on the ferry near the Antonovsky Bridge, Russians mix civilian vehicles with military ones, thus effectively preventing Ukrainians from shelling the crossing.
There were no frontline changes in this direction on Tuesday.
Russians tried to advance near Bayrak and Dementievka but were pushed back. There were also some reported attempts to attack Ukrainians in the Volchansky direction, without results. On the other hand, Russians claim to have advanced near the first two settlements, but there is no currently available evidence to support this claim.
Staryi Saltiv was air-struck.
Artillery strikes continued, but the intensity was smaller compared to previous days. According to the Ukrainian local press reports, some shells landed on civilian targets. It is unclear how many exactly, but numerous attacks are conducted from the Russian territory south of Belgorod.
When it comes to the areas south of Izyum, there weren’t any changes either. Russian formations tried to advance near Dovhenke and Dolyna, on the border of the Kharkiv and Donetsk Oblasts, but without success.
The scope of artillery strikes also appeared to have decreased. In this area, there also one was ait strike that targeted Dibrovne. The next few days should indicate whether this decline in artillery strikes is short-lived or a more prolonged development.
Russians recently withdrew around 3-5 BTGs from the Izyum area and presumably shifted them to the south of Ukraine. It is unclear presently whether replacements have been sent in.
After a short break, Russians resumed their attacks on Tuesday towards Siversk, but the level of effort appeared small. There was only one attack on Ivano-Darivka, which turned out to be unsuccessful. With the centre of effort placed elsewhere (Bakhmut, Kherson), it seems that the situation near Siversk resembles what has been happening south of Izyum. Russians will continue to attack Ukrainian lines, but they are unlikely to break defensive positions. Consequently, we are looking at a stalemate on this axis combined with Russian air and artillery attacks.
Russians, however, did make some progress near Bakhmut. The Ukrainian General Staff (UGS) claimed they made “partial progress along the Vidrodzhennya-Kodema line. According to pro-Russian social media posts, the attackers captured Semyhirja, so this may be what the UGS referred to.
The pace of Russian artillery and air strikes increased.
Between Siversk and Horlivka, Russians have some 12-15 BTGs.
The second prioritised axis is around Avdiivka, where Russians also probably advanced on Tuesday. The attackers most likely captured the Butovka-Donetskaya coal mine, a Ukrainian defensive position from 2014-15. Ukrainian forces now probably withdrew to Avdiivka.
Russians also progressed near Pisky, which the UGS confirms. Pro-Russian press reports indicate the attackers reached a dam and now occupy some 50% of the settlement.
There were no changes in this direction on Tuesday.
Russians are reportedly accumulating forces near the Tokmak – Melitopol line.
There were some unconfirmed reports about Ukrainian progress in Shcherbakiv, Nesterianka and Dorozhnyanka areas.
Russians continue to move their forces to southern sectors (Kherson and Zaporozhihia). Elements from the 35th Combined Arms Army (CAA) were seen on the southern bank of the Dnieper River, between Velyka Lepetykha and Enerhodar.
On the economic level, on 1AUG, fuel prices on occupied territories as the same or even cheaper than in Russia (59 rubles for a litre of 95 gasoline, 55 rubles for 92 gasoline, 65 rubles for diesel fuel and 27 rubles for gas). According to local pro-Russian reports, this has been made possible thanks to “the continuous financial and fuel assistance of the Russian Federation to the Zaporizhzhia region.”
Russians are also trying to increase trade between the region and mainland Russia by creating flexible and easy procedures for registering retailers. A fixed exchange rate has also been set to 1 hryvnia to 1.5 rubles.
There are no changes in the Kherson direction on Tuesday.
According to the head of the military administration, Dmitry Butri, the Ukrainian Armed Forces liberated 46 occupied settlements from the Russian military. He did not specify when. However, we assess that this has happened since Russians were pushed back from Voznesens’k in early March that started the Ukrainian counterattack that led them to the outskirts of Kherson. According to Butri, 90% of villages have been destroyed by Russian artillery fires.
Russian operations continue to be defensive as they focus on preventing the advance of the Ukrainian units. They are also trying to rebuild bridges previously destroyed by Ukrainian MLRS strikes. It now seems that all bridges near Kherson have been engaged as recent satellite imagery we have seen (but cannot publish) show a missile crater on Khakovka dam – exactly here. The strike probably happened on the night of 1/2 August.
That said, some limited attacks did occur. On Tuesday, Russians attacked Ukrainian positions in Trudoliubivka and Bilohirka. We expect Russian ground attacks to gather pace over the short-term as more units arrive to the Kherson Oblast.
According to the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine (Military intelligence: HUR), at the Kalanchak railway station, Russians blew up their own train. Russians set up a smoke screen to prevent the train from being targeted by a HIMARS as it was being unloaded. However, a large explosion occurred a couple of hours into the process. According to HUR, it was caused by the mishandling of ammunition. The locomotive was not damaged as the train moved back to Crimea. (The event may have happened a few days ago).
But Ukrainians have also admitted to striking another military train and destroying 40 platforms.
In Genichesk, Ukrainian partisans distributed leaflets that called for the upcoming referendum to be ignored.
Military activity in Belarus
On 2AUG, most events were related to the ongoing Day of the Airborne Troops. Service members of the Belarusian Special Operation Forces were congratulated by the Belarusian President and the Belarusian Minister of Defence. During the official congratulation, Aleksandr Lukashenka referred to the history of airborne formations and stated that they are guarantees of Belarusian military safety, especially due to the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian conflict. According to him, the Special Operation Forces have always been and will be an elite of the Belarusian Armed Forces.
The Chief of Belarusian General Staff, Major General Viktor Gulevich, and the Commander of the Belarusian Special Operation Forces, Major General Vadim Denisenko, took part in the official celebration of the Day of the Airborne Troops, which was held in the 38th Air Assault Brigade’s base in Brest. The 5th Spetsnaz Brigade hosted a similar ceremony, but it is unclear who attended it.
The Belarusian Minister of Defence, Lieutenant General Viktor Chrenin, and the Head of the Main Department of Combat Training, Major General Andrey Nekrashevich, participated in the farewell ceremony of Belarusian servicemen selected to participate in the “Tank Biathlon” and the “Sniper Frontier” episodes of the International Army Games 2022. The ceremony took place in the Machulischy Air Base just before the teams left Belarus (to Russia and Venezuela)
On 2AUG, there were two noteworthy transfers of Belarusian military equipment. Firstly, four BTRs were seen on the move towards Kobryn. Secondly, the equipment from the 51st Artillery Brigade in Osipovichi was also out moving. These included various MLRS systems (BM-27, BM-30, B-200) and Tochka-U missile systems (465th Missile Brigade) accompanied by different support vehicles. They were probably en route to the nearby training range.
Multiple training flights were reported also reported on Tuesday. At least five fighters were operating from Baranovichi and Lida Air Bases.
On Tuesday, there were no noteworthy transfers of Russian military equipment.
Lines of advance in Ukraine
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