Key Takeaways from the ISW:

  • Ukrainian armored vehicles are operating beyond the final line of the Russian defensive layer that Ukrainian forces in western Zaporizhia Oblast are currently penetrating, although ISW is not yet prepared to assess that Ukrainian forces have broken fully through this Russian defensive layer.

  • Russian forces currently defending in western Zaporizhia Oblast have been unable to prevent Ukrainian forces from making gradual but steady advances since mid-August.

  • Ukrainian forces conducted a series of drone and missile strikes targeting the Russian airfield near occupied Saky, Crimea, and may have damaged Russian aircraft.

  • Satellite imagery confirms that Ukrainian forces also struck the 744th Communications Center of the Command of the Black Sea Fleet in occupied Crimea on September 20 as part of an apparent Ukrainian effort to target Black Sea Fleet facilities.

  • Russian forces conducted a notably large series of missile strikes against Ukraine on the night of September 20 to 21, likely to correspond with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to the United States.

  • The Kremlin continues to seek to intensify divisions between Ukraine and its Central European partners following Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

  • The Russian State Duma will reportedly propose a bill allowing the Russian National Guard (Rosgvardia) to include volunteer formations amid continued rumors about the Wagner Group operating alongside Rosgvardia.

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  • The Kremlin is reportedly pushing propaganda narratives that highlight Russian artillery and aviation while downplaying the efforts of Russian forces conducting ground operations, likely in order to avoid discussion of Russian personnel losses and poor counterbattery capabilities.

  • The Kremlin is likely aiming to blame Armenian leadership and the West for Azerbaijan’s recent military operation into Nagorno-Karabakh.

  • Russian forces conducted offensive operations along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line, near Bakhmut, along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line, in the western Donetsk-eastern Zaporizhia Oblast border area, and in western Zaporizhia Oblast but did not advance.



Authors: Christina Harward, Riley Bailey, Angelica Evans, Grace Mappes, and Mason Clark.

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