Key Takeaways:

  • Ukrainian forces launched a significant mechanized counteroffensive operation in western Zaporizhia Oblast on July 26 and appear to have broken through certain pre-prepared Russian defensive positions south of Orikhiv.

  • Russian sources provided a wide range of diverging claims as to the scale of both the attack and resulting Ukrainian losses, indicating that the actual results and Ukrainian losses remain unclear.

  •  The battlefield geometry around Robotyne, as well as the force composition of the Russian elements defending there, offer important color to speculation surrounding the Ukrainian attack and gains.

  • Western and Ukrainian officials suggested that the attacks towards Robotyne mark an inflection in Ukraine’s counteroffensive effort. Today’s actions around Robotyne are likely the start of any “main thrust” Ukrainian forces might be launching, if US officials are correct, rather than the sum of such a thrust.

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  • Russian forces conducted a large-scale missile strike largely aimed at rear areas in Ukraine on the night of July 26.

  • The Russian Black Sea Fleet is increasing military posturing in the Black Sea, likely in an attempt to set conditions to forcibly stop and search civilian vessels and exert increased control in the area.

  • The US Department of Defense (DoD) announced on July 26 that it authorized another presidential drawdown to provide an additional $400 million of security assistance to Ukraine.

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  • Russia continues to find ways to remind Armenia and Azerbaijan that Moscow’s military and diplomatic presence in the South Caucasus is necessary. The Russian government may have intended for the Russia-Armenia-Azerbaijan trilateral meeting to reduce possible Iranian efforts to supplant Russian influence with Armenia by providing Shahed drones to Yerevan.

  • A prominent Kremlin-linked milblogger expressed his incredulity that the US has not provided Ukraine F-16 fighters yet and did not assess Russian deterrence or escalation cycle dynamics to be a factor.

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  • Russian forces conducted offensive operations along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line, in Bakhmut, along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line, in western Donetsk Oblast, and in western Zaporzhia Oblast on July 26 and have made advances in certain areas.

  • Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations along at least three sectors of the front on July 26 and have advanced in certain areas.

  • Ukrainian military sources reported that Russian forces have begun using Russian-produced Shahed drones against Ukraine.

  • Russian occupation authorities continue to pursue infrastructure projects in occupied areas to facilitate the economic integration of occupied Ukraine into the Russian system.

Authors:Karolina Hird, Nicole Wolkov, Angelica Evans, Christina Harward, George Barros, and Frederick W. Kagan

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