Snapshot

Occupied Crimea heats up with explosions on Kerch Bridge and drone attack on Sevastopol military port. Ukrainian progress in five places, say Russians. Russian advances in regional Kharkiv, say Ukrainians.

Analysis

From the Institute for the Study of War:

·      Since the beginning of the Ukrainian counteroffensive on June 4 to July 9, ISW calculated that Ukrainian forces have liberated approximately 253 square kilometers of territory.

·      Ukrainian officials indicated that extensive Russian minefields and shortages of Western mine clearing equipment have slowed the pace of Ukrainian advances in the counteroffensive.

·      The Washington Post reported on July 15 that Russian forces heavily mined areas between 5 and 16 kilometers behind the frontline in the Zaporizhzhia region, which has forced Ukrainian forces to conduct ground attacks with infantry rather than Western kit.

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·      An unnamed Ukrainian officer told the Washington Post that Russian forces have prioritized destroying more advanced mine-clearing systems over Leopard tanks.

·      An unnamed senior Ukrainian official told the Washington Post that Ukraine has received less than 15 percent of the quantity of mine clearing and engineering material it requested ahead of the counteroffensive with some equipment arriving only last week.

ISW Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, February 26, 2024
Other Topics of Interest

ISW Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, February 26, 2024

Latest from the Institute for the Study of War.

General Developments

Following the NATO Summit which (again) set a timetable for the F-16 training of Ukrainian pilots, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN that “the President has given a green light, and we will allow, permit, support, facilitate and in fact provide the necessary tools for Ukrainians to begin being trained on F-16s, as soon as the Europeans are prepared.”

The UK reported that it has trained 18,000 Ukrainian troops – effectively two divisions – to date and released a video of that program.

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“Radish,” a senior Azov commander who was part of the Azovstal defense and recently returned from exile in Turkey, has re-joined his unit.

Jake Sullivan, the US National Security Advisor, said in an  interview with CNN, that the Biden administration, after taking office, discovered that the stocks of 155-mm artillery munitions used by howitzers "was relatively low,” but that “we are increasing our capacity to supply ammunition.”

Vladimir Putin said Russia has enough cluster munitions to answer if Ukraine were to use the weapons. What Putin didn’t say is that Russia has been using cluster munitions against civilian targets throughout its full-scale invasion and in its war in Donbas since 2014.

The Russian military leadership continued to be subject to changes.

Russia undertook 11 missile strikes, 49 airstrikes and 48 MLRS strikes; Ukraine undertook 15 airstrikes, according to the General Staff.

Russia shelled some 65 Ukrainian populations settlements, according to the General Staff.

Operational Aspects in Bakhmut

According to Ukrainian milbloggers, Ukrainian forces are pressing their advantage in some parts of Bakhmut.

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Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said: “In the Bakhmut direction, we are gradually moving forward. On the southern flank around Bakhmut, there is a daily advance. On the northern flank, we are trying to hold the occupied positions, the enemy is attacking.”

Russian and Ukrainian sources confirmed that some Chechen forces have deployed to the Bakhmut area, ISW reported.

Operational Aspects in Crimea, Kharkiv, Kherson, Luhansk, Russia and other areas

Explosions were heard and traffic on the Kerch bridge to Crimea was stopped due to an “emergency,” said the head of the Crimean occupational regime, Sergey Aksyonov.

Ukraine undertook an attack on Sevastopol, a key military port, in occupied Crimea last night using airborne and naval drones.

The number of Russian warships in the Black Sea has increased to 11, including two missile ships with a total volley of 12 Kalibr-type cruise missiles, according to a spokesperson for the Naval Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Yesterday, one person was killed, and one injured due to Russian shelling of the village of Kolodyazne in Kharkiv region and, overnight, Russian forces launched four S-300 missiles at Kharkiv city, the Regional Military Administration reported.

Russia struck the city three times yesterday. 

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In Luhansk region, pro-Russian sources said Russian forces “managed to advance in the Serebryanka forest from Shypylivka.”

Malyar said that “the enemy has been actively advancing in the Kupyansk direction in the Kharkiv region for two days in a row. We are on the defensive. There are fierce battles; the positions of the parties change dynamically several times a day.”

In central Donetsk region, pro-Russian sources said Ukrainian forces “managed to take a number of positions southwest of Pavlivka [near Maryinka].”

Ukrainian forces continue to operate on east (left) bank Kherson region near the Antonivsky Bridge across the Dnipro River, according to ISW.

Ukrainian forces continue to undertake “shaping operations” and hitting Russian targets with long-range weaponry, including the below warehouse in occupied Novooleksiivka, Kherson region.

Air defense systems were active over Belgorod in Russia, according to various sources. Artillery exchanges continued to occur in its western sections and Russian civilians have apparently left the five-kilometer border zone.

Fire broke out at a hospital for veterans under construction in Bryansk, Russia for the second time in a month, according to Russian state-owned media.

Operational Aspects on Boundary of the Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions and in Western Zaporizhzhia

Ukrainian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces have entered Staromaiorske along the Mokri Yaly River axis. The General Staff confirmed Ukrainian forces are in the northern part of Staromaiorske. Pro-Russian milbloggers confirmed that “units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine were able to break through the defenses in the north of Staromaiorske.”

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Geolocated footage published on July 15 shows that Ukrainian forces made limited gains northwest of Staromaiorske, according to ISW.

If completed, the taking of Staromaiorske would represent Ukraine’s most southward position/liberated settlement on this axis since the beginning of the summer offensive.

“In the Berdyansk direction, Ukrainian forces have advanced more than one kilometer in one of sections,” said Valerii Shershen, a spokesman for Ukraine’s southern forces, but did not identify the location.

“The Armed Forces of Ukraine attacked from the side of Kamianske just to the east of the M-18 highway and managed to take a number of important positions,” stated a pro-Russian source. This village is in the western Zaporizhzhia region and within the Berdyansk direction.

“Ukrainian units advanced in the forest belt along the railway line just west of Dorozhnyanka [to the east of Orikhiv in western Zaporizhzhia],” according to the same source.

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