1. A civilian cargo vessel sailed from Odesa yesterday despite warnings from Russia that its navy could target ships using Ukraine’s Black Sea export hubs, AFP reported. Russia issued its maritime threat after scuppering the Black Sea Grain Initiative key deal month, which guaranteed safe passage for grain shipments from three Ukrainian ports. President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the development. “Ukraine has just made an important step toward restoring the freedom of navigation in the Black Sea,” he said on social media.
2. Tens of thousands of Muscovites are taking part in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to the Russian capital’s mayor Sergei Sobyanin. “Forty-five thousand Muscovites are fighting in the area,” Sobyanin was cited as saying by Russia news agency Interfax. The mayor added they represented a “considerable part” of the fighters there. Among them, “at least 5,000 people are professional soldiers,” he also said.
3. Bulgaria will support the declaration of the “Big Seven” (G7) countries regarding the provision of long-term security guarantees for Ukraine. There are now 16 participants: Greece, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, North Macedonia and Bulgaria.
4. F-16 jet fighters will be in Ukraine no earlier than the spring of 2024, according to the leader of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) Yuriy Ihnat. “It is already obvious that we will not be able to protect Ukraine with F-16 aircraft during this fall and winter,” UNIAN reported him as saying. “We understand that our pilots will soon be trained in the countries that are members of the aviation coalition. But at the same time, the strengthening of our air defense needs to be carried out and is being carried out. Recently, two more [Patriot] launchers were announced,” he said.
5. Ukraine’s need for additional drones was discussed between Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Valery Zaluzhny and colleagues from the United States and Britain. “Another extremely important issue is drones. Countering enemy drones and building up our own capabilities. We agreed with our partners to focus work in this direction,” Zaluzhny said on Telegram.
6. More than 75 percent of Ukrainian refugees and internally displaced people intend to return home, according to Karen Whiting, Deputy Representative of the UN Refugee Agency in Ukraine. She also told Ukrainska Pravda that 15 percent of both categories want to return home within the next three months.
NATO senior official, Stian Jensen, who previously suggested trading Ukrainian territory to Russia for NATO membership, admitted to his “mistake.” In a follow-up interview with a Norwegian media outlet, he said that his “statement about this was part of a larger discussion about possible future scenarios in Ukraine, and I shouldn’t have said that. It was a mistake.”
8. The development is associated with upcoming discussions on Ukraine aid in Congress. “Republicans for Ukraine” is a project supported by the “Defending Democracy Together” organization. US President Joe Biden’s administration has asked Congress to provide Ukraine with more than $13 billion in emergency defense aid and more than $8 billion in humanitarian aid by the end of 2023.
President Zelensky’s Message
Ukraine has just made an important step toward restoring the freedom of navigation in the Black Sea. The first civilian vessel has passed through Ukraine’s new humanitarian corridor, departing from the port of Odesa. It’s currently on its way to the Bosporus.— Volodymyr Zelenskyy / Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) August 16, 2023
Ukraine Summer Offensive Summary
Operational Aspects on the Southern Front
Geolocated footage published on August 16 indicates that Ukrainian forces advanced northeast of Robotyne (10 kilometers south of Orikhiv) in the western Zaporizhzhia region and have likely made wider gains in the surrounding areas given weeks of consistent Ukrainian activity in the forested areas northeast of the settlement, ISW said. The relevant units would include the 82nd Air Assault Brigade, which is one of Ukraine’s best trained and equipped.
Ukrainian forces have broken through the Russian defense positions in the north and east of Robotyne and pushed the enemy from significant parts out of the town. Also, some areas west of the town have been cleared from any Russian presence.#Ukraine #Zaporizhzhia #Robotyne pic.twitter.com/tBETxqjsvR— (((Tendar))) (@Tendar) August 15, 2023
Pro-Russian milblogger and arch-propagandist War Gonzo conceded that Ukrainian forces were not only consistently assaulting around Verbove and Robotyne but had partial control of the latter’s northern side.
Ukrainian officials confirmed Ukrainian forces have liberated Urozhaine (9 kilometers south of Velyka Novosilka) in the Zaporizhzhia-Donetsk regional border area, and the Ukrainian 35th Marine Brigade published footage of their personnel raising the Ukrainian flag in the center of the settlement, ISW said.
Pro-Ukrainian milblogger Karymat posted a video of house-to-house fighting to take Urozhaine.
Pro-Ukrainian milblogger and Ukrainian reserve officer, Tatarigami, Tweeted about the next points south from Urozhaine in the direction of Mariupol.
As our troops progress in Robotyne, dealing substantial harm to the enemy, Novoprokopivka and Solodka Balka area could theoretically become future russian defense point. This video uses satellite imagery and annotations to showcase the defense line's evolution near Solodka Balka pic.twitter.com/olZBVdsH1W— Tatarigami_UA (@Tatarigami_UA) August 15, 2023
A Russian soldier at Urozhaine was reported by a Telegram channel as saying: “These troops were preparing for a deep breakthrough beyond the Surovikin line.”
Other Operational Aspects
One reliable pro-Ukrainian milblogger continues to maintain that Ukraine has established double pontoon bridges across the Dnipro near Kherson and are using them to resupply a bridge head in occupied Kherson region. Ukrainian authorities have offered limited commentary on the situation.
Ukraine’s defense forces have disabled five out of six large landing ships of the Russian navy, according to Ukrainian Navy spokesperson Dmytro Pletenchuk.
An 18-year-old boy was killed and four others injured as a result of the Russian attack on Mezhova in Dnipropetrovsk.
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