Key Takeaways from the ISW:

  • “Vostok” Battalion commander Alexander Khodakovsky suggested that Russia freeze the war in Ukraine along the current frontlines, reintroducing a narrative that had been largely dormant since Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin’s armed rebellion.

  • Khodakovsky commands forces defending in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area and his comments about freezing the war follow the Ukrainian liberation of Urozhaine on August 16, suggesting that recent Ukrainian advances may be significantly weakening confidence in the Russian defense along the wider front in southern Ukraine.

  • Recent Ukrainian advances near small settlements in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area and in western Zaporizhia Oblast are likely tactically significant because of the structure of Russian defensive lines.

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  • Russian forces have dedicated significant effort, resources, and personnel to hold settlements such as Robotyne and Urozhaine, and recent Ukrainian advances in these areas are therefore likely reflective of a wider degradation of defending Russian forces.

  • Russian efforts to ramp up the domestic production of Iranian Shahed-136/-131 drones indicate that Russia aims to develop the long-term capability to conduct large strike series in Ukraine.

  • Russian reports about the state of the Chonhar Bridge in occupied Kherson Oblast indicate that Ukrainian strikes disrupted a major Russian ground line of communication (GLOC) to Crimea for 11 days.

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  • Russian forces conducted offensive operations along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line, near Bakhmut, along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line, and in the western Donetsk-eastern Zaporizhia Oblast border area on August 17 and advanced in certain areas.

  • Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations on at least three sectors of the front on August 17 and advanced near Bakhmut and in western Zaporizhia Oblast.

Authors: Nicole Wolkov, Angelica Evans, Riley Bailey, Christina Harward, and Mason Clark.

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