An updated version of this story is available here.

Overview

·      Russia launches missiles from the Black Sea and from the air, targeting at least one civilian facility.

·      Kremlin increasingly reliant on limited elite airborne units to fend off counteroffensive.

·      Zelensky announces goal to ramp up domestic munition industry.

·      Limited changes Monday on the front lines in Donetsk and Luhansk.

·      A captured Russian soldier describes his ordeal to the Ukrainian military.

Missiles from the sea

Russian forces conducted a missile strike on the rear areas of advancing Ukrainian Armed Forces (AFU) on Monday, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

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Ukrainian officials reported that Russian ships launched four Kalibr cruise missiles from the Black Sea and aircraft launched two Kh-59 cruise missiles from the airspace above the occupied sector of the Kherson Region in the direction of Kryvyi Rih, and that Ukrainian air defenses intercepted all but two of them.

The AFU reported that the cruise missiles struck a civilian industrial facility in the Poltava region.

Meanwhile, the Russian Ministry of Defense claimed on Monday that its navy used sea-to-land precision-guided missiles to destroy an ammunition depot in the Donetsk region, including a number of armored personal vehicles, a Krab self-propelled artillery unit and a Grad combat vehicle.

West Bad, Russia Strong – Key Points from Putin’s Latest Speech
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West Bad, Russia Strong – Key Points from Putin’s Latest Speech

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s latest address to the nation was mostly a repetition of previous rhetoric and did not address Transnistria’s appeal for Moscow’s protection.

Russian Ministry of Defense Spokesperson Igor Konashenkov claimed Russian forces had repelled attacks by Ukraine’s 82nd Airborne Assault Brigade and 46th Airmobile Brigade in the Zaporizhzhia region, and two attacks in Luhansk on Monday. The Kremlin’s claims have not been independently verified.

By contrast, the ISW reported on Monday that Russian forces conducted offensive operations on the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line, near Bakhmut, along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line, and in western Donetsk, and did not make any confirmed advances.

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Elite Russian units deployed to recently liberated Robotyne

The Russian military command continues to expend relatively elite Russian airborne forces (VDV) by deploying them to defend vulnerable positions against Ukrainian counteroffensives, the ISW reported.

Intelligence footage gathered over the weekend indicates that the Russian military command deployed elements of the Russian 76th Air Assault Guards Division to reinforce positions near Robotyne, likely arriving from the Luhansk Region. ISW had previously observed that elements of almost all Russian air assault formations are operating in areas where Ukrainian forces are conducting counteroffensive operations.

The ISW projected that the reliance upon and degradation of these forces will likely weaken Russia’s ability to sustain complex defensive operations and almost certainly disrupt any intent to resume offensive operations at scale.

Zelensky promises stepped-up domestic weapons production

President Volodymyr Zelensky met on Monday with the Ministry of Strategic Industries (Ukroboronprom) as well as the heads of Ukrainian companies who produce drones, missiles, artillery and armored vehicles, with the goal of increasing domestic production.

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“We are maximizing production capacity. Ukraine can do it. Funding is available. Our defense industry will yield better results,” Zelensky said in his daily statement.

Looking at the other side of the front, Ukrainian military intelligence (HUR) believes Russia is replenishing its munitions more quickly than anticipated. Here are the new figures for Russian missile stocks, compared with Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov’s January 2023 estimates:

·         270 Iskander ballistic and cruise missiles (+126 from January).

·         140 sea based Kalibr cruise missiles (+81 from January).

·         Roughly 100 Kh-101/Kh-55/Kh-555 cruise missiles (-18 from January).

·         Roughly 75 Kinzhal ballistic missiles (+22 from January).

·         150 Kh-22/32 missiles (-12 from January).

 

Operations - Luhansk

Russian units attacked Ukrainian positions on the Kupyansk-Svatove line on Monday, and reportedly made limited advances on the frontline. A Russian milblogger claimed that the occupying forces seized two Ukrainian positions in the Synkivka-Petropavlivka sector (9 km northeast and 6 km east of Kupyansk, respectively.

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Another Kremlin-affiliate blogger added that swampy terrain and continuous minefields in the Kupyansk direction create serious problems for Russian advances in this area.

Operations – Donetsk

Ukrainian forces conducted offensive operations near Bakhmut and advanced on Monday. Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar reported that Ukrainian forces had pushed Russian forces out of positions east of Klishchiivka (7 km southwest of Bakhmut) and in the center of the settlement and are continuing to advance along Bakhmut’s southern flank.

Meanwhile, Russian forces conducted offensive operations near Bakhmut and reportedly advanced. The Ukrainian General Staff reported on its Facebook page however that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations near Klishchiivka.

Captured soldier recounts familiar story of Russian blackmail

A 32-year-old Russian captured solder, a private in the 1008th Heavy Assault Regiment, described to his Ukrainian captors how he was given an ultimatum of returning to jail on trumped-up charges or else enlist in the Russian army in order to have his criminal record expunged and be paid 200,000 rubles (about $2,000) for his service.

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According to a Ukrinform report on Monday, the soldier had previously served a sentence in a penal colony before he was released. He subsequently reported regularly to the federal penitentiary system, where he was met by Russian military recruiters who allegedly told him he could either go to prison – because they would plant drugs on him, they said – or enlist for service in Ukraine. He said he signed that contract in mid-July. In the end, he said, he had been paid 37,500 rubles ($375).

Colonel General Oleksandr Syrsky, Commander of the Land Forces of the AFU posted a video of the prisoner’s interrogation on Telegram.

The soldier said there was no available drinking water at his position and had to scramble for rations. Coming under assault from Ukrainian forces, the Russian unit was attacked by grenades.

The conscript sustained life-threatening injuries, and his Russian comrades left him behind to be either captured or bleed to death. His Ukrainian captors saved his life, the AFU colonel reported.

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