Issue 325, 19 August – 25 August 2023 (Weekly update)

Situational report from the war in Ukraine – 19 August – 25 August 2023

Key takeaways from last week’s developments:

  • Last week delivered no operational and strategic developments in Ukraine; Ukrainians captured one village in the south, while Russians remained offensively focused in the north; The operational-strategic outlook remained unchanged;
  • Russians again reportedly made some gains east of Kupyansk in the Kharkiv Oblast as their aviation and artillery increased attacks on Ukrainian positions;
  • In the Luhansk Oblast Direction, Ukrainians conducted successful defensive operations as Russians made no territorial gains;
  • The overall situation in the Donetsk Oblast direction remained unchanged; Russians again counterattacked near Klishchiivka but were unsuccessful; Ukrainian posture became increasingly defensive;
  • In the Southern Direction, Ukrainians liberated Robotyne in the Orikhiv axis, while no changes were reported in the Velyka Novosilka sector;
  • Ukrainians maintained their presence on Dnipro’s left bank in the Kherson Oblast, while Russian artillery attacks decreased; Ukrainians destroyed at least one S-400 TEL in Crimea;
  • Russian use of missiles and suicide drones was again relatively limited; Ukrainians boasted an interception rate of 93% for Shaheds and 100% for cruise missiles;

Map 1. Frontline changes between 18AUG-24AUG2023

Executive summary

The overall strategic-operational situation in Ukraine did not change last week. Both sides made some tactical gains, but they had a limited impact on the overall outlook for the war.

Ukrainian focus is on the Orikhiv axis. Following the capture of Robotyne, Kyiv maintained elements of the 47th Mechanised Brigade and 46th and 82nd Air Assault Brigades to continue pushing south towards Tokmak. It also appears that since mid-week, they have attempted to push east towards Verbove to level off the frontline and prevent Russians from cutting off Ukrainian forces south of Novodanylivka. It is also east of Robotyne, where Ukrainians are slowly reaching Russian anti-tank fortifications, so their progress could face further difficulties.

So far, we continue to see Ukrainians attacking south along one axis, which makes it easier for Russians to concentrate their defences, forces, and artillery and thwart Kyiv’s movement. As a result, the progress will likely be slow until additional assault/breaching units are introduced to battle. We assess that elements of the 10th Corps are now in reserve and could be committed soon. Whether to exploit any gaps in Russian defences or to sustain operations is unclear.

However, 11 weeks into the counteroffensive, Ukrainians progressed some 14 km south of Orikhiv, which placed them around 19 km from Tokmak. The city is thus well within the range of Ukrainian artillery systems as its utility for the Russians as a logistics centre has likely decreased. Looking ahead, Ukrainians still face robust Russian defensive lines if they pursue the route straight towards Tomak.

Wars, of course, do not develop in a linear fashion. The biggest unknowns are the extent to which both sides have been attrited since early July and what operational and strategic reserves they maintain. As the reader knows, we assess that Ukrainians will be unable to sustain the current operations tempo for another few months. Russians spent over six months preparing defences in the south, knowing that the main Ukrainian push would occur there. They are also likely maintaining strategic reserves in case of sudden frontline ruptures. We thus expect no collapse of Russian lines.

On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal published an article about disagreements between Ukraine and the US on how to conduct the counteroffensive. Ukrainian Chief of General Staff reportedly assured Americans that Ukrainians were “on the cusp of a breakthrough.” However, Ukrainians were too thin and lacked sufficient force to achieve a breakthrough by combining artillery, mechanised forces and mine-clearing efforts. Kyiv responded by saying they needed to preserve their forces to be prepared for a long-term war with Russia.

Let’s see whether Ukraine will depart from its small-unit tactics and redeploy forces from elsewhere to tilt the balance in its favour in the Orikhiv axis. If not, we are likely to continue to see Ukrainian attacks with limited gains. Russian fortifications and defence-in-depth do not allow Kyiv to reach sufficient momentum for speedy advances.

In the meantime, Russians continued attacks on the Kupyansk axis in the Kharkiv Oblast. The situation there is vague, as Russian sources reported some Russian gains, which, however, have not been independently confirmed. Nevertheless, the Russian offensive focus on this area is clear, and we expect Moscow to continue pushing towards Kupyansk. Likewise, Ukrainian operations in the Klishchiivka stalled over the past two weeks. Not only did Kyiv not make any gains south of Bakhmut, but Russians counterattacked, reportedly retaking some territory. Bakhmut has been both sides’ centre of gravity in the Donetsk Oblast for months and, effectively, the area where the prospects for any changes were the highest in the region. But events from the past two weeks indicate that the frontline there could also “freeze” for the foreseeable future as both sides are operationally focused elsewhere and lack resources to open up a new direction of attack.

Let’s also look a bit into the future. As the reader can remember, we previously stated that Western support for Ukraine would peak in 2023. There is not enough (land) equipment in Europe to donate to Ukraine. A US official also indicated in the abovementioned WSJ article that the scale of Washington’s support for Ukraine in 2022-23 was unlikely to be repeated in 2024.

It is thus possible that the significant piece of equipment to be delivered to Ukraine next year will be F-16s multirole fighter aircraft. Over the past several days, Denmark and the Netherlands committed to delivering 61 airframes. How many Norway will hand over is unclear, but it could be around 12.

In October, the US will begin flight training for several Ukrainian pilots and ground training for aircraft maintenance crew. In the meantime, Denmark is already training eight pilots and 65 ground personnel. The training process will be slow. While some aircraft could appear in Ukraine by mid-2024, we cannot expect Kyiv to operate F-16 squadrons effectively within the next two years.

Based on our conversations in Kyiv in early July, it became clear that Ukrainian efforts to obtain a Western-made combat aircraft had little to do with the ongoing counteroffensive. Instead, Ukraine was seeking ways to modernise its air force over the long term and attach its aviation to Western supply chains and training. The complete transition will take years and will undoubtedly be costly. Their impact on the battlefield is also far from certain as the platforms to be donated are older generation F-16s.

Ukraine battle map

Please click here to access our interactive map and click here to access the archive.

The situation at selected axes and directions

(We have made minor structural changes to the report. From this update, the Kharkiv Oblast Direction only discusses information about the situation in the northern part of the region and Russian artillery strikes across the Kharkiv Oblast. Everything else (developments near Dvorchina, Kupyansk and farther south have been moved to the chapter on the Luhansk Oblast Direction).

Kharkiv Oblast Direction

(This section only covers ground developments in the northern Kharkiv Oblast and Russian artillery strikes across the entire region).

Last week delivered no frontline changes in the region. No Russian ground attacks were recorded near the state border.

According to Oleh Synehubov, the head of the Kharkiv Oblast administration, the Russians continued to shell civilian infrastructure in Kharkivsky, Bohodukhivsky, Kupyansky, Izuimsky and Chuhuivsky districts. In particular, Russians shelled Kupyansk, Kruhlyakivka, Kozacha Lopan, Cherneshchyna, Oleksandrivka, Vil’cha, Vovchansk and Kupyansk-Vuzlovyi Kolisnykivka, Dvorichna and Berestove, Strilecha, Veterynarne.

On Monday (21AUG), Synehubov stated that Russians increased artillery strikes on Kupyansk and that the city was heavily shelled throughout Sunday (20AUG), but the intensity of artillery strikes decreased throughout the week.

Luhansk Oblast Direction

According to Artem Lysohor, the Luhansk Oblast military administration head, Russians increased the number of air strikes and artillery and missile attacks in the Luhansk Oblast. This was coupled with the deployment of reserves into the fight. He added that Ukrainian forces were conducting defensive operations but also attempted to counterattack.

Roman Vlasenko, head of the Severodonetsk District State Administration, said the Ukrainian resistance movement was actively working in the occupied territories. Its work was focused on providing information about Russian concentration areas, the location of equipment and army warehouses. But he also added that people’s movement between cities is restricted without a Russian passport, and finding a job and receiving social benefits was impossible.

When it comes to the frontline, no changes were reported in the Dvorichna area. Neither Russian nor Ukrainian sources reported changes, but the Russian battleshaping efforts increased.

Russians continued to attack Ukrainian positions in vicinity of (IVO) Synkivka. Firstly, a Russian source said over the weekend that heavy battles had occurred on the eastern outskirts of the village. Still, Ukrainians have held their positions, which was supported by Ukrainian sources claiming that all Russian attacks IVO Synkivka were repelled on Sunday (20AUG). However, on Monday (21AUG), Russians reportedly captured the village, which was not independently confirmed. We assess that Synkivka was under Ukrainian control as of Friday (25AUG), but Russian attacks there were evident and increasing.

Interestingly, another Russian source said that Russian troops continued to attack towards Kyslivka and Petropavlivka. However, Russians had difficulties passing through Ukrainian minefields. It is unclear whether Ukrainians have deployed an extensive minefield network to hinder Russian movement in the area. Our Ukrainian source claimed that Ukrainian defensive preparations, in general, in the Luhansk and Kharkiv Oblasts left much to be desired and that one cannot compare them to the Surovikin line.

Nevertheless, the source added that Petropavlovka and Sinkivka were already in the “grey zone” as Russians took the initiative. This forced Kyiv to redeploy some units from the Bakhmut area to strengthen the Kupynask axis. This information, however, has not been confirmed.

Late in the week (23AUG), probably as a result of Russian attacks, Ukrainians reportedly conducted counterattacks towards Lyman Pershyi from Synkivka and Masyutivka, but no further information was provided on their progress.

According to a Russian source, on Sunday (20AUG), Russian aviation destroyed one river crossing over the Oskil River, leaving Ukrainians with the only remaining crossing IVO Borova. The sources said that the Ukrainian supply on the left bank of the river had become much more difficult. The source also added that Russian troops were preparing a massive attack, but he failed to provide additional information to substantiate these claims. Another Russian source said that the situation for Kyiv in the area deteriorated even though the 95th Air Assault Brigade had been redeployed into the area.

Neither Russian nor Ukrainian sources reported changes IVO Vilshana and farther south IVO Svatove.

Russians may have pushed west near Novoselivske, but this information remained unconfirmed.

No changes occurred IVO Karmazynivka, Nadiya and Makiivka, Ploshchanka and Chervonopopivka. Neither Russian nor Ukrainian sources reported changes IVO Terny, Torske, Yampolivka and Nevske.

In the Kreminna area, according to the Russian journalist, on Sunday (20AUG), Ukrainian troops pushed back Russian troops a little in the Serebryansky forest and near Dibrova, but this information also remained unverified.

On Monday (21AUG), Hanna Malyar, the Ukrainian Minister of Defence deputy, said that Russians conducted unsuccessful offensive actions IVO Bilohorivka. No changes occurred in the area over the week.

Based on the Russian MoD posts detailing operations in the Kharkiv and Luhansk Directions, Russians captured two strongholds, four dugouts and an observation post. They also claimed to have repelled all Ukrainian attacks conducted by elements of the 14th,115th Mechanised and 95th Air Assault Brigade.

Elements of the Russian 6th Combined Arms Army continued attacks towards Vilshana.

The MoD also added that assault groups from the Ukrainian 14th, 115th, and 67th Separate Mechanised Brigades and the 25th Airborne Brigade conducted nine attacks on Russian positions IVO Novoselivske and Pertopavlivka but failed due to Russian air and artillery strikes. The Russian operational-tactical and army aviation carried out 12 strikes, and one TOS strike against the Ukrainian tactical reserves from the 14th and 44th  Mechanised Brigades and against territorial defence units.

According to Aleksandr Savchuk, a Russian Centre Group of Forces Spokesperson, in the Svatove and Lyman direction, Russian forward units repelled more than 20 attacks by the Ukrainian 63rd, 67th, 42nd Mechanised Brigades, the 95th Air Assault Brigade, and the 5th National Guard Brigade. Russian aviation carried 20 missile and bombing strikes against Ukrainian concentration areas IVO Nevske, Serebryanka and Dibrova.

Map 2. Frontlines in the Kharkiv and Luhansk Oblasts, 19AUG – 25AUG 2023


(The data on Russian fortifications comes from Brady Africk).

Donetsk Oblast Direction

The past week delivered no frontline changes in the Donetsk Oblast. Both sides’ operations remained focused on areas south of Bakhmut. Yet, the frontline remained static across the region.

No changes occurred IVO Spirne, Verkhnokamyanske, Vyimka and Ivano Darivka, where neither Russian nor Ukrainian sources reported any changes.

The same pertains to Rozdolivka, Vasiukivka, Fedorivka and Vesele. Positional battles continued IVO Orikhovo – Vasylivka and Berkhivka. Especially near the latter, Ukrainian and Russian sources reported that both sides attempted attacks, but they led nowhere.

On Monday (21AUG), Malyar said Russian forces tried to regain lost positions IVO Zaliznyanske, Vasylivka and Bohdanivka, but their attacks were pushed back. She also added that 3.4 sq km were retaken between 14-20AUG, but she did not provide any information about where Ukrainians progressed.

The situation in Bakhmut remained unchanged. Also on Monday, the Russian MoD claimed that Russian airborne forces had repelled a Ukrainian attack on the city’s western outskirts.

Late in the week, another Russian source provided a more detailed picture of the Ukrainian operations in the Bakhmut area. The source stated that after several assaults, Ukrainians paused to re-equip, presumably regroup, and prepare for new attacks. The source added that the 2nd battalion of the 3rd Separate Assault Brigade only had 28% of combat-ready personnel and less than half of regular equipment.

Between Konstantynivka and Bila Hora, the UAF was actively training and improving the interoperability of assault units from the 92nd Mechanised and 57th Mechanised Brigades and the 24 “Aidar” Battalion of the 5th Assault Brigade. These formations are to be deployed south of Bakhmut, probably IVO Klishchiivka. In the first echelon, 14 assault groups of the Liut (Fury) Assault Brigade of Ukraine’s National Police were being prepared to attack, of which eight intended to attack Klishchiivka to dislodge Russian troops from the village.

The source also added a concentration of six Ukrainian assault groups IVO Siversk. So far, we have seen no upticks in Ukrainian ground activities in this area.

The 10th Mountain Assault Brigade and 54th Separate Mechanised Brigade have been reportedly intensively preparing reserves to conduct offensive operations.

During the weekend, Russians tried to counterattack IVO Andriivka but were unsuccessful. On Sunday (20 AUG), Russian artillery hit Ukrainian positions IVO Klishchiivka and counterattacked to dislodge Ukrainians from heights west of the village. Russian sources said the Russian Forces had taken the initiative in this area, while the Ukrainian posture is defensive.

Ukrainian sources claimed that battles IVO Klishchiivka and Andriivka continued. Near the latter, UAF reportedly advanced as of Tuesday (22AUG).

Ukrainian bloggers said Russian “combined mining” in the Klishchiivka and Andriivka areas significantly reduced their advances. This system of laying mines is when several anti-personnel mines are placed around an anti-tank mine, greatly exacerbating the effects of the detonation. A Ukrainian soldier said that seven PMN-4 high-explosive anti-personnel mines were once found around a Soviet TM-62 anti-tank mine in an area of 1-2 square meters. One of the soldiers we spoke to in Ukraine in early July also confirmed that the number of mines Russians placed significantly exceeded what Russian regulations advised.

Map 3. Frontline changes in the Bakhmut axis between 18-24AUG

Neither Russian nor Ukrainian sources reported any changes IVO Bila Hora and Ivanivske.

On Saturday (19AUG), Russians tried to attack IVO Novokalynove but were unsuccessful.

Neither Russian nor Ukrainian sources reported changes IVO Keramik, Stepove, Krasnohorivka, Berdychi, Vesele and Kamyanka.

Russians maintained attacks from Kruta Balka towards Avdiivka but made no progress.

Ukrainian artillery reportedly struck Russian concentration areas south of Pervomaiske, but these attacks were not followed by ground operations.

Neither Russian nor Ukrainian sources reported changes IVO Tonenke, Severne, Vodyane and Nevelske.

Mariinka and Krasnohorivka were again subject to Russian ground attacks supported by aviation and artillery. Yet, they again made no progress towards capturing either village.

Russian attacks towards Novomykhailivka were also unsuccessful. No changes occurred IVO Pobieda and Vuhledar.

According to Vadym Astafiev, a Russian South Group of Forces Spokesperson, Russian aviation was engaged in conducting air-to-ground attacks against Ukrainian concentration areas in the Lysychansk, Soledar-Bakhnut, Oleksandro-Kalynove, Avdiivka and Mariinka directions. Russian missiles also struck the Mezhevaya unloading station in the Avdiivka direction, claiming three ammunition train carriages, ten delivery vehicles and Ukrainian personnel destroyed.

Russian Su-34 medium-range fighter-bomber/strike aircraft hit deployment points of the 45th Artillery Brigade with guided munitions IVO Siversk, the 3rd Separate Airborne Assault Brigade IVO Stupochky, the 23rd Special Forces Battalion IVO Chervone, 28th Separate Mechanised Brigade in the Soledar-Bakhmut direction and 24th Mechanised Brigade in the Oleksandro-Kalynove direction.

Missile strikes were also carried out on the Ukrainian concentration area of the 3rd Motorised Infantry Battalion of the 92nd Separate Mechanised Brigades IVO Novodmytrivka and Molocharka.

Artillery hit a material supply centre of the 28th Separate Mechanised Brigade in an unspecified area, an ammunition depot IVO Bilohorivka and the temporary deployment point of the 105th Rifle Battalion and the 109th Territorial Defence Brigade in Krasnohorivka. FPV drones hit eight infantry Ukrainian groups, a fighting vehicle and a dugout of the 110th Mechanised Brigade IVO Andriivka.

Map 4. Frontlines in the Donetsk Oblast with Russian fortifications, 19AUG – 25AUG 2023

Southern Ukraine direction

The Velyka Novoselivka axis

Last week delivered small frontline changes in this axis as Ukrainian attacks continued. After liberating Urozhayne, Ukrainians focused on regrouping and restoring the combat capabilities of their units.

According to the Russian MoD, on Friday (18AUG), Ukrainian rotation was interrupted by Russian air and artillery strikes. As Russian bloggers noted, the rotation involved elements of the 1st Tank Brigade partially deployed in Stayomaroske. On Tuesday (22AUG), Ukrainians also withdrew the 253rd Territorial Defence Battalion (TDB) and deployed the 230th TDB of the 128th Territorial Defence Brigade towards Staromayorske.

The same source also claimed that several 37th Naval Infantry Brigade’s attacks IVO Urozhayne were repelled on the same day. The Russian MoD noted that four unsuccessful Ukrainian reconnaissance attempts took place IVO Staromayorske and Pryuutne on Saturday (19AUG).

On Monday (21AUG), Ukrainians again conducted at least a single attack towards Urozhayne and continued to probe Russian defences in the axis. On this day, a  video was posted online reportedly showing a Russian “BDM-4” (BMD-4?) amphibious infantry fighting vehicle engaging Ukrainian personnel on this axis.

The latter half of the week saw no major battles. Russian sources continued to claim that Ukrainian positions in Staromayorske and Urozhayne on Tuesday (22AUG) were under “fire attack”. A day later, two Ukrainian reconnaissance attempts IVO Rivnopil were interdicted.

The Russian fire effort throughout the week focused on Ukrainian concentration areas – mainly IVO Urozhayne, Stayomaroske, Rivnopil, and Velyka Novosilka. On Monday (21AUG), Russian artillery shelled an unspecified command post in Novosilka.

Ukrainians attempted to extend their gains south of Urozhayne but made no progress. They, nevertheless, extended their gains slightly east of the village.

A Ukrainian source said on Tuesday that Russian forces in Pryuutne were making “their last stand”. Yet, since this claim was made, Ukrainians made no advances near the village either.

One of the reasons why this occurred was because Ukrainians were reportedly rotating.

IVO Staromayorske, Russian artillery destroyed a Ukrainian ammunition depot. Moreover, due to the heavy losses, Ukrainians rotated the 253rd Territorial Defence Battalion and deployed the 230th Territorial Defence Battalion of the 128th Territorial Defence Brigade.

Russian aviation struck Staromayorske, Makarivka and Urozhayne while artillery shelled Velyka Novoselivka and Urozhayne.


Map 5. Frontline changes in the Velyka Novosilka axis between 18-24AUG

The Orkhiv axis

Last week, Ukrainians maintained momentum and managed to liberate Robotyne and some areas east of the village. Despite this, the overall progress was minimal. Ukrainians levelled off the frontline, slightly alleviating concerns of a Russian counterattack that could cut Robotyne off.

As stated in the previous UCM issue, around 11-12AUG, elements of the Ukrainian 46th Airmobile Brigade probably entered Robotyne. Since Friday (18AUG), the Ukrainian 82nd Air Assault Brigade and 65th Mechanised Brigades conducted several attacks per day to capture the city. As a result, the first information about the possible liberation of the Robotyne appeared on Sunday and Monday (20-21AUG). On Wednesday (23AUG), a Ukrainian flag was raised in the village, confirming its liberation. As such, the battle for Robotyne lasted at least 12 days.

Also on Wednesday, the Ukrainian General Staff informed about unsuccessful Russian offensive attempts IVO Mala Tomachka, likely meant to counter recent Ukrainian territorial gains.

Despite this tactical success, Russian artillery, aviation and UAV maintained a high tempo of attacks on Ukrainian positions IVO Robotyne, Novodanilyvka, Mala Tokmkachka, Orikhiv and Yehorivka. They also targeted Huliaipole, Huliaipilske, Chervone, Charivne, Potlivka, Bilhoriya, and Zatyshsha.

A Russian BOBR UAV subunit claimed to have killed at least four Ukrainian servicemen IVO Robotyne over the weekend (18-19AUG). On Wednesday (23AUG), the unit published several videos confirming further attacks, including on a pick-up truck.

Russian MoD claimed to have conducted successful strikes on the 65th Mechanised Brigade’s ammo depot IVO Omelnyk (21AUG) and the command and observation point of the 46th Airmobile Brigade IVO Orikhiv (22AUG).

The Russian source asserted on Wednesday (22AUG) that the 118th Mechanised Brigade had been deployed to Mala Tomachka, possibly to be committed to battle “when there is a breakthrough at the Robotyne-Verbove line”.

As a result of the loss of Robotyne, Russians reportedly started to look for empty houses in Tokmak, which might be used to accommodate their additional forces. However, Ukrainian artillery fire could interrupt the movement of reinforcements.

Map 6. Frontline changes in the Orikhiv axis between 18-24AUG

Map 7. Frontlines in the Orikhiv axis with Russian fortifications and units involved in combat as of 25AUG

No changes occurred in the western part of the Orikhiv axis.

The situation in this part of the frontline remained stable throughout the week. However, Russians slightly increased their fire activity throughout the week.

The only information linked to possible fighting appeared on Tuesday (22AUG) when Russian sources reported unspecified “disturbing Ukrainian sabotage sorties” IVO Pyatchatki.

Over the weekend (19AUG and 20AUG), Russians shelled two/three frontline towns daily.
This refers mainly to Pyatchatki, Stepove, Kamyanske, and Mali Scherbaky.

On Monday (21AUG), they started utilising aviation, and the number of daily sorties (aviation and artillery attacks) increased to five/six (hit towns). On Wednesday (23AUG), Russians presumably hit a Ukrainian P-18 radar deployed IVO Zaporizhzhia.

Map 8. Frontlines in Southern Ukraine with Russian fortifications, 19AUG – 25AUG 2023

Kherson Direction and Crimea

Although no significant frontline changes occurred last week in the Kherson Oblast, Ukrainians maintained their presence on Dnipro’s left bank.

Reportedly, attempts to expand bridgeheads IVO Hola Prystan, Oleshky, Kozachi Laheri and Nova Kakhovka continued, but the extent to which they were successful is unclear. A lack of clarity mainly refers to the Kozachi Laheri area from where Russians reported Ukrainians were pushed back two weeks ago.

That said, Ukrainian artillery strikes made it more difficult for Russians to deploy reserves to the frontline and engage Ukrainians in close combat. But a Russian source added that Russian long-range weapons actively struck Ukrainian units in the rear.

Alexander Khodakovsky, the “Vostok” battalion commander, also complained that Russian forces continued to face problems with counterbattery fire as Russians were experiencing artillery systems shortages. He added that Russian forces began to receive “outdated” D-20 towed gun-howitzers, which are not suitable for counterbattery missions, although they were still useful when engaging advancing Ukrainian formations. It is unclear how common this problem is across all Russian forces in the Kherson Oblast.

The source said that Russian forces lacked adequate counterbattery capabilities, especially since the 58th Combined Arms Army Commander, Major General Ivan Popov, was dismissed in early July. On the other hand, another Russian source asserted that Russian forces were improving artillery tactics and that artillery units had become far more accurate than they were a year ago.

According to Natalia Humeniuk, the spokesperson for the Ukrainian Command South, Russian use of artillery decreased. She said that some days, Russians conducted 40 artillery attacks per day, but this number recently started to increase to 80. But, the number of shells in these attacks was much lower than in the past weeks. They used 500 or more shells in 70-80 daily attacks back then. She added that this number had decreased to 300 shells per day.

As such, Ukrainian and Russian reports indicate that Moscow has issues with artillery fire in the Kherson Oblast. A part of this likely stems from the redeployment of assets and supplies to the Zaporizhihia Oblast to thwart Ukrainian attacks there. Secondly, the fact that Russians are rationing shells is known. Problems in the Kherson Oblast are probably more acute than elsewhere. The key issue is whether the decrease will continue to deepen. While it is possible, we assess that there is a threshold below which the number of shells fired will not drop.

The key is that, so far, no evidence suggests a breakdown of Russian artillery capabilities in the region.

Ukrainian landing groups continued to operate near and on islands in the Dnipro River delta. Russian sources claimed that Russian forces had destroyed one Ukrainian boat and repelled another that attempted to land on Bilohrudy Island. The source also claimed that a Ukrainian grouping landed on Melyky Island southwest of Kherson City and established an observation post there.

A Russian source added that the training of a 120-man assault unit of the Ukrainian 121st Territorial Defence Brigade was completed in Novovorontsovka and Apostolove.

According to Natalia Humeniuk, the spokesperson for the Ukrainian Command South, Ukrainian forces’ current main task in Kherson Oblast is to set conditions for the security of future operations and manoeuvres on the left bank of the Dnipro River. Humenyuk stated that Ukrainian forces were focused on “counterbattery measures” to destroy the Russian rivering presence that could hinder Ukrainian operations. Humeniuk also noted that there were no fundamental changes in the frontline in the south.

On Wednesday (23AUG), elements of the Russian S-400 air defence system were destroyed IVO Olenivka on Cape Tarkhankut in an operation presumably conducted by Ukrainian military intelligence. It is unclear how much damage the entire battery sustained, but at least one TEL was certainly destroyed. Given that the explosion was filmed from a UAV, the event again highlighted that Russians cannot intercept all Ukrainian long-range UAVs that can penetrate the outer and inner layers of the Russian air defence umbrella.

A day later, on the Independence Day of Ukraine (24AUG), Ukrainian Military Intelligence (HUR) released information about a joint operation with the Ukrainian Navy, which saw the deployment of special forces IVO Olenivka and Mayak in Crimea. It is unclear what the objective of the operation was, but the HUR stated that Ukrainians clashed with a Russian unit, which led to the latter’s losses in personnel and equipment (four speedboats and 30 men). In response to this attack, the Russian source said that Ukrainian attacks were becoming increasingly high, while Russian commanders disregard gaps in defences.

The Olenivka/Mayak area hosts a NEBO-M early warning site comprising various multi-band design radars, allowing it to track ballistic missiles and reportedly low-observable aircraft. But whether the system was the objective of the mission is unknown.

Map 9. Frontlines in the Kherson Oblast with Russian fortifications, 19AUG – 25AUG 2023

Summary of losses

According to the Russian Ministry of Defence, since the start of the war, Ukraine has lost 464 aircraft (+3), 246 helicopters (0), 6,085 UAVs (+254), 433 anti-aircraft missile systems (launchers?)(+2), 11,492 tanks and other armoured combat vehicles (+126), 1,144 MLRS launchers (0), 6,042 field artillery guns and mortars (+114), as well as 12,424 units of special military vehicles (+117).

According to the Ukrainian General Staff, Russia lost (eliminated) 259,630 personnel (+3,120), 4,378 tanks (+46), 8,521 armoured combat vehicles (+111), 5,361 artillery systems (+168) and 724 MLR systems (+10), 495 anti-aircraft systems (+9), 315 aircraft (0) and 316 helicopters (0), and 4,356 UAVs (+80), 7,790 vehicles and fuel tanks (+132), 1,409 cruise missiles (+3), 18 warships and boats (0) and 802 special vehicles (+46).

(Numbers in parentheses denote a weekly change.)

Russian air and missile strikes on Ukraine

From the missile strikes perspective, the past seven days were peaceful. The reported attack occurred on Friday (25AUG) when Russian Su-34s fired two Kh-59 TV-guided cruise missiles, and surface combatants also fired two Kalibr cruise missiles from the Black Sea. According to the Ukrainian Air Force Command, all missiles were intercepted.

Last week, Russians also fired 29 Shahed 131/136 kamikaze drones, of which Ukrainians claimed to have shot down 27. The overall trajectory of the Shaheds use is declining. The average number of vehicles used in the last seven attacks is nine, a decrease from 19 around 20JUL.

Other attacks were also limited. Last week saw a decline in MLRS attacks.

Chart 1. Number of Russian attacks in August (Source: Ukrainian General Staff)


Chart 2. Russian air and missile strikes on Ukraine (Shaheds excluded)  (Source: Ukrainian Air Force Command/General Staff)


Chart 3. The number of Shehed 131/136 kamikaze drones interceptions (Source: Ukrainian Air Force Command)


Outlook for the week of 26AUG-31AUG

In assessing the probability or likelihood of certain events, we use a set of terms proposed by the US Intelligence Community.

Almost no chance Very unlikely Unlikely Roughly even chance Likely Very likely Almost certain(ly)
Remote Highly improbable Improbable (improbably) Roughly even odds Probable


Highly probable Nearly certain
0-5% 5-20% 20-45% 45-55% 55-80% 80-95% 95-99%


To introduce more accountability to our forecasts, each weekly update assesses how correct (or incorrect) our predictions were. Please also remember that while we try to remain as objective as possible regarding our performance, the reader will ultimately have to decide how (in)accurate we have been.

Previous forecast

“We continue to expect Russians to maintain at least the current tempo of attacks in the Kupyansk axis in the Kharkiv Oblast. If they commit more resources, they will likely make some territorial gains.”  Russians indeed maintained the current offensive pace, but whether they made gains is unclear as no frontline changes were independently confirmed.

Score: 0.5/1

“Regarding the Luhansk Oblast, we assess that there is a roughly even chance that Russians will progress over the next seven days. It is unlikely that Ukrainians will liberate any village.” Neither side made any confirmed gains in the region.

Score: 1/1

When it comes to the Donetsk Oblast, let’s divide the forecast into possible Russian and Ukrainian courses of action. 1) Based on the overall Russian performance and troop deployments, it is highly unlikely that Russians will capture one village or more in the entire region over the next seven days. 2) We assess that Ukrainians are also unlikely to liberate any villages in the Kurdiumivka-Klishchiivka area. We expect no major changes (one village or more captured) in other parts of the Donetsk Oblast. While this forecast was accurate, it is worth emphasising that Russians launched counterattacks IVO Klishchiivka, indicating a shift from a defensive to an offensive posture.

Score: 1/1

“Moving onto the southern direction, we maintain that the Ukrainian progress will highly likely be very slow, and there is a roughly even chance they will capture Robotyne. We expect no major Ukrainian breakthrough or a collapse of Russian defences in the south.” Ukrainians only advanced in IVO Robotyne across the entire region.

Score: 1/1

“In the Kherson Oblast, we assess that Ukrainians will likely retain their forces on Dnipro’s left bank IVO the Antonivskyi Bridge. They may also attempt to conduct riverine raids in other parts of the region and establish limited bridgeheads. The prospects of Ukrainian progress on Dnipro’s left bank decreased compared to two weeks ago. The pullback from the Kozachi Laheri area confirms that the Ukrainian General Staff does not plan to conduct a major offensive operation in the region.” We were correct in predicting that Ukrainians would be able to maintain their presence on Dnipro’s left bank and that additional riverine raids were possible. No major attacks occurred.

Score: 1/1

Final score: 4.5/5 (90%)

The forecast for the week of 26AUG-31AUG

Regarding the Kharkiv Oblast Direction, we expect no frontline changes. There is a small possibility that Russians will conduct cross-border raids, but they will certainly continue conducting artillery attacks across the region.

Regarding the Luhansk Oblast Direction, Russians are highly likely to continue conducting offensive operations. This particularly refers to the northern parts of the region (Kupyansk axis). While they are likely to make progress there, we assess that there is a roughly even chance that they will capture a village. Moving farther south, we assess that it is unlikely that Russians or Ukrainians will capture any village in the region, but in this context, Russians are more likely to advance compared to Ukrainians.

When it comes to the Donetsk Oblast, let’s divide the forecast into possible Russian and Ukrainian courses of action. 1) Based on the overall Russian performance and troop deployments, it is highly unlikely that Russians will capture one village or more in the entire region over the next seven days. But it is possible that they will progress IVO Klishchiivka. 2) We assess that Ukrainians are also unlikely to liberate any villages in the Kurdiumivka-Klishchiivka area. We expect no major changes (one village or more captured) in other parts of the Donetsk Oblast.

Moving onto the Southern Direction, we maintain that the Ukrainian progress will highly likely be very slow. Although Ukrainians are likely to capture some territory, they are unlikely to liberate a village across the entire direction. We continue to expect no major Ukrainian breakthroughs or a collapse of Russian defences in the south.

In the Kherson Oblast, we assess that Ukrainians will highly retain their forces on Dnipro’s left bank IVO the Antonivskyi Bridge. They are also highly likely to continue conducting harassing attacks across the Dnipro, but these riverine operations are highly unlikely to develop into a major offensive operation in the region.