Issue 190, 17 October 2022

folder_openUkraine Conflict Monitor

Situational report CAO 13OCT2022

Key takeaways

  • Monday delivered no frontline changes;
  • Russian Monday’s attacks on energy infrastructure confirm a pattern of strikes destined to cripple Ukraine’s electrical grid;
  • Frontline in Kkharkiv/Luhansk Oblats did not change, although Russians are very engaged in creating defensive lines and positions along the Troitske-Kreminna line;
  • There were no reported changes near Bakhmut, but Russians claimed that Ukrainians had reinforced their positions with national guard battalions;
  • Ukrainians reportedly conducted limited attacks in the Kherson Oblast but did not deliver any changes;
  • Key Belarusian military figures held yet another briefing on Monday where they talked about the regional security situation;
  • There were no changes in the posture of the Belarusian Armed Forces;

 

Monday proved to be largely uneventful when it came to any frontline changes. Neither side made any gains, although both are preparing for next Ukrainian counterattacks.

Russian main strategic goal is now to cripple Ukrainian energy infrastructure. On Monday morning, Moscow launched multiple Iranian Shahed-136 drones across the country, hitting Kyiv, Zaporizhzhia City, Vinnytsia, Sumy, Dnipropetrovsk, and Mykolaiv Oblasts. Ukrainians claim that 43 UAVs were launched on Ukraine altogether, but 37 were intercepted. One of the UAVs that managed to get through Ukrainian air defences in Kyiv hit the building belonging to UkrEnergo,  a national electricity transmission system operator. As a result of these strikes, the company announced that it does not rule out the introduction of rolling blackouts across the affected areas.

According to Zelensky, Russian strikes destroyed 30% of Ukraine’s power stations within a week. As we are inching towards the winter, we expect Russians to continue striking Ukraine’s power network.

The frontline situation in selected directions at axes

Kharkiv/Luhansk direction

This direction saw no frontline changes over the past few days.

According to Oleh Synyehubov, the Governor of the Kharkiv Oblast, on Monday, Russian artillery strikes continued along the entire frontline. Specifically targeted Vovchansk in the Chuguevsky district, villages of the Vovchansky community, and Dvorichne in the Kupyansky district. On Monday, sapper teams neutralised 630 unexploded items in the Kharkiv oblast.

Russians also conducted multiple strikes on Ukrainian positions and areas under their control in the Luhansk region. At the same time, they are improving defensive lines almost along the entire frontline, from Kreminna to Triotske, near the border. They specifically focus on digging trenches and placing dragon’s teeth to hinder the movement of armoured vehicles and channel their movement in a specific direction. According to the Telegram account of the Luhansk military administration, these fortifications are indicators of the Russian long-term plan to get entrenched in the entrance to the Luhansk Oblast. We, however, believe that these are desperate measures taken to stop advancing Ukrainian formations and degrade the tempo of their advance.

There were no frontline changes near Svatove. The decrease in the operational tempo is clearly visible. It is unclear what exactly caused it, whether the forces were logistically exhausted after they pushed from Kupyansk and captured Lyman.

However, Russian sources expect a large-scale Ukrainian attack near Svatove soon.

Near Kreminna, Russians still try to counterattack, with their objectives firmly set on Terny, Nevske, Torske. On the one hand, they hope to push the frontline from Kreminna as far away as possible and on the other, relieve the UAF’s pressure on Svatove. So far, these efforts did not deliver any results.

Donetsk Oblast direction

Russia slowly try to regain the initiative in the northern parts of the Donetsk Oblast.

According to Russian sources, Spirne is a no-man land, which, if confirmed, means that Russians managed to push Ukrainians from the settlement.

Heavy fighting continues near Bakhmut, Opytne and Ivanhrad. Wagner PMC is conducting assault operations on the eastern outskirts of Bakhmut, but progress is slow despite mobilised reservists’ deployment. According to Russian sources, the UAF has deployed to the Bakhmut area National Guard (NG) units, specifically the 12th NG Battalion from Poltava, the 45th Operational Regiment from Lviv, the 25th NG Battalion from Cherkasy, and the Spetsnaz Detachment “Vega” from Lviv.

According to the Deputy Minister of Defense Hanna Malyar, Moscow plans to capture Bakhmut by the end of October. We have heard such timeframes from both sides, mainly regarding Russian operations. They never materialised, so we are very sceptical about their existence or the likelihood of happening, whether this pertains to Bakhmut or any other city or area.

Russian artillery activity did not decrease on Monday.

In the Kramatorsk direction, Russians fired on Hrekivka, Stelmakhivka, Zarichne, Kyslivka, Terny and Yampolivka settlements. In the Bakhmut and Avdiivka directions, Russians shlled Ukrainian positions along the entire contact line.

The UAF repelled Russian attacks near Spirne, Bakhmutske, Bakhmut, Mayorsk, Maryinka, Krasnohorivka, Pobyeda and Nevelske.

Zaporizhzhia direction

Monday delivered no frontline changes in this direction.

Positional battles and artillery exchanges continued along the entire frontline.

Russians shelled more than 25 settlements. Among them were Velyka Novosilka, Pavlivka, Olhivske and Mali Shcherbaky.

Ukrainian artillery also struck Russian concentration areas and positions in 12 places.

According to Ivan Fedorov, the legally elected Ukrainian mayor of Melitopol, around 3,000 residents of the city were forcefully mobilised by Russians. Fedorov also added that Melitopol had become the logistics centre for the transportation of military equipment in southern Ukraine, which should not be surprising given that the Crimea bridge is out of use.

Kherson direction

There were no frontline changes in this direction over the past few days.

Reports that surfaced over the weekend about a UAF attack on Mylove did not turn out to be true.

Russians claim that Ukrainians are regrouping and pulling in reserves, especially south of Mykolaiv. Ukrainians are reportedly creating a new strike group to launch a new attack, but its strength and composition are unclear. However, Russians believe that Ukrainians possess a numerical advantage.

Russian sources claimed on Monday that Ukrainian forces tried to push south from Dudachany toward Mylove. However, this attempt was not successful. Ukrainians also reportedly failed to break Russian lines near Davydiv Bird.

According to the Ukrainian General Staff, Russian guard units are creating engineering obstacles near Kherson to thwart UAF’s movement towards the city. Concurrently, the UGS claimed that Ukrainian collaborators and their families were being evacuated to Crimea. It was the second time the UGS reported about such events in Kherson. On 16OCT, the Staff stated that Russians had been evacuating “state institutions”, and their employees, Russian bank properties and money to Crimea. If this is confirmed, Moscow expects callous times ahead, including the complete withdrawal over the Dnieper.

Recent information released by Ukrainians also appears to point in this direction. In an intercepted call between an LPR’s soldier and his wife, the former said he expected a Ukrainian attack over the next few days.

Ukrainian attacks are hard to predict, so it is unclear whether an attack could really happen within a few days. That said, an increase in Ukrainian reports about the retreat of Russian institutions from Kherson and imminent counterattack could be a form of PSYOPS against Russians to demoralise units fighting near Kherson.

On Monday, Russian strikes on Ukrainian positions continued. Residential buildings in the Marhanetska and Chervonohryhorivska communities were damaged due to artillery, and BM-21 MLRS strikes. Using missiles fired from the S-300 system, Russians attacked the Bereznehuvata community near Mykolaiv. According to Operational Command South, Odesa and Mykolaiv regions were attacked by Iranian Kamikaze drones. Air defence forces shot down six UAVs over Odesa and nine over Mykolaiv.

According to Dmytro Pletenchuk, the press officer of Mykolayiv Oblast Military Administration, one UAV hit a sunflower oil container causing an oil spill in the city. Altogether, Ukraine provides 17% of the global sunflower oil supply.

 Military situation in Belarus

On 17OCT, the fixed group of representatives of Belarusian military-political leadership participated in an informational meeting with the personnel of the Minsk Tractor Plant. The event involved the Secretary of the State Security Council (Lt. Gen. Alexander Volfovich), the Minister of Defence (Lt. Gen. Viktor Khrenin), as well as the Charmain of the State Security and  Border Committees (respectively lieutenant generals Ivan Tertel and Lt. Gen. Anatoly Lappo) and Belarusian Minister of Economy Alexander Chervyakov.

During the meeting, the Secretary of State Security spoke about the negative western influence on the current political-military situation in Europe. Volfovich claimed that the so-called collective west is doing everything to drag Belarus into the Russo-Ukrainian conflict, just like it did with Russia and Ukraine. Moreover, Volfovich stated that the elements of the joint Union State grouping are currently deployed to deter potential aggressive actions of the Belarusian enemy. He also declared that joint exercises of Russian and Belarusian forces are planned.

Later on, the Head of the Belarusian MoD stated that military leadership would not allow unleashing the military conflict on the Belarusian territory. Khrenin referred to the joint grouping of the Union State forces claiming that detailed issues of its deployment and potential use were the subject of several exercises conducted since its formation. According to him, current measures linked to the readiness of the joint grouping are taken in stages following the development of security challenges and threats along the borders of the Union State. Nevertheless, the Belarusian Minister of Defence once more repeated that Belarus is not going to attack anyone and pointed out that current military activities are a response to the actions of Belarusian opponents.

It might be added that the Head of the Belarusian KDB (KGB) Lt. Gen. Ivan Tertel spoke up during the meeting. He referred to the latest detainments of potential saboteurs in Belarus. According to Tertel, the west is haunted by the fact that Belarus remains an example of stability in Europe. That’s why BYPOL (a union of Belarusian security officers) representatives prepared terrorist attacks initiated by Polish Special Services. Belarusian power agencies acted decisively and thwarted attacks.

At the same time, the Head of the Belarusian International Military Cooperation Department (IMC), Col. Valery Revenko, led the informational briefing for foreign Military Attaches to Belarus. The gathering was held in the Central Officers House and attended by 19 military diplomats, who were provided with the details linked to the composition, locations and planned training activities of the joint Russo-Belarusian group of forces.

During the meeting, Revenko noted that the high level of tension around Belarus manifested with increasing western involvement in the Russo-Ukrainian conflict, as well as several Ukrainian provocations carried out near the Belarusian border (including firing accidents or violating the Belarusian airspace with UAVs). According to him, these actions, combined with the creation of extremist volunteer formations with Belarusian citizens, were a reason to activate the deployment of the regional grouping of forces,  which will involve Russian mechanised formation (presumably division-level) from the Western Military District. As claimed by Revenko, this means that up to 9,000 servicemen, accompanied by up to 170 tanks, 200 armoured vehicles and 100 artillery pieces, would ultimately arrive in Belarus. These forces will be located at four training grounds in the state’s eastern and central parts. They will also conduct  a tactical exercise combined with live ammo firing of anti-air rocket systems and special-tactical drills related to the engineering actions. Col. Revenko stated the decision about the deployment of the joint force should be treated as a necessary measure of strategic containment aimed at preventing military aggression against Belarus and Russia. It is worth noting that generally, his statement was slightly more belligerent and included multiple incriminations, especially against Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic States, but also the whole of NATO. The organisation was accused of various provocations and their desire to destabilise the situation in Belarus. Despite that, in the end, the Head of the Belarusian IMC highlighted the defensive stance of the Belarusian Armed Forces and called foreign military diplomats to deescalate the situation with peaceful methods.

On Monday, the Belarusian MoD informed about the rotation of forces involved in protecting the state border[1] . It is unknown which military formations replaced already involved units near the border. Nevertheless, the presence of a BTR-80K battalion-level command vehicle (which entered the service in the Belarusian Armed Forces simultaneously with BTR-82A) might suggest that a mechanised battalion equipped with the most modern Belarusian APC (from the 6th or 120th Mechanised Brigades) are currently involved in the protection of the Belarusian border, which according to the representative of Belarusian State Border Committee Col. Anton Bychkovsky is subjected constant reconnaissance activities from the Ukrainian side.

Regarding the training activities of the Belarusian Armed Forces, Col. Valery Revenko stated that the sudden inspection of the Belarusian Armed Forces between 11-12OCT, involved consolidated companies from the 38th Air Assault Brigade, as well as from the 6th and 120th Mechanised Brigades. According to him, the total number of forces did not exceed 500 personnel and 50 pieces of military equipment.

Apart from that, the equipment of the 103rd Airborne Brigade returned to the home garrison after the joint CSTO drills in Kazakhstan. It pertains to at least one company set of BTRs and several light vehicles and trucks marked with red squares. Also, the 50th Mixed Aviation Base finished training with reserve personnel called up during a sudden mobilisation inspection that started on 28SEP. It should be mentioned that unofficial sources reported intense training actions at the Obuz-Lesniovsky Training Ground, where presumably part of the Russian forces which arrived in Belarus is currently located.

On 17OCT, about seven transfers of Belarusian military equipment can be considered noteworthy:

  1. An echelon with several tanks, BTRs, and passenger cars was moving from Dzyarzhynsk Railway Station towards Minsk;
  2. Presumably, another echelon consisting of about twenty various trucks and a few tracked vehicles was moving from Minsk towards Smolevichi;
  3. A single trailer with an OSA anti-air system departed from Pugovichi in the direction of Osipovichi;
  4. Three KAYMAN reconnaissance vehicles were also moving towards Osipovichi from Pugovichi;
  5. An echelon with 22 BTRs, 25 trucks, two light vehicles and several wagons was moving from Zhlobin Railway Station towards Gomel-Passenger Railway Station.
  6. Four trucks with a UAZ 469 departing from Vitebsk towards the intersection of the M8 and R21 highways (southeast);
  7. Five trucks moving on the M3 highway towards its intersection with the R46 highway;

Besides, the training flights of presumably two Mi-8 helicopters were reported. Unofficial sources also provided footage of a few military echelons that can’t be directly linked to the abovementioned movements. However, the exact date of those videos might differ.

Regarding the actions of the Russian Armed Forces deployed In Belarus, a single Russian echelon with about 30 various trucks and four personnel passenger cars moved from Kolodischi Railway Station to the Fanipol Railway Station in the evening. What is more, the presence of at least one KAMAZ truck was reported in Gomel.

Information about mobilisation in Russia
  • According to the Military Commissar of Moscow, the tasks of partial mobilisation were completed in the city. Some temporary mobilisation points were closed.
  • The identity of two Tajik citizens who killed several mobilised servicemen at the training ground in Belgorod region was revealed – Rakhmonov Mehrob (23 years old) and Aeskhon Aminzod (24 years old). Both of them were volunteers and arrived at the training area on 11OCT.
  • The mobilised servicemen complained about receiving airsoft vests.
  • At least twenty complaints about the mobilisation process were submitted in Krasnoyarsk. Most of them were linked to the mobilisation of citizens with health problems.
  • Dozens of mobilised citizens undergoing training in the Kazan Tank School will be deployed to Ukraine next week.
  • Relatives of mobilised citizens from Yakutia will be provided with cabbages, onions and carrots.
  • Russian SOTA published a video of Russian children (with teacher) delivering mobilisation summons
Lines of advance in Ukraine

**IMPORTANT NOTE**

To improve performance, we have divided the map into two. One is the archive map, which contains data before the current week.

Another one is the current map, which only covers the current week’s events.

The current map is updated daily, and the archive is once a week.

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