Northeast – Kharkiv Area of Operations
- The Russian Federation Armed Forces (RFAF) remain focussed on preventing the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) from making ground towards the international border and have sought to fix UAF elements to prevent the reinforcement of other axes. (No change)
- Air, artillery, and rocket bombardment activities have continued across the outskirts of Kharkiv city and along the line of contact. (No change)
- On 30 Aug 22, reports suggest that the RFAF are now in control of Udy settlement, situated close to the Russian border – likely to increase the buffer zone and prevent cross-border fires by the UAF. There was limited activity near Lebyazhe in the last reporting period; however, RFAF bombardment activity continues along this axis – fixing the UAF.
Image showing reported geolocation of RFAF in Udy settlement. Source: @War_cube_
East – Donbas Area of Operations (assessed RFAF Main Effort)
- RFAF offensive activity along this axis has remained limited, concentrated along the southern portion of Donetsk region.
- Along the Bakhmut front, the UAF continue to defend from RFAF assaults to the south and the north-east. In Kodema, RFAF are reported to have made some advances on the eastern outskirts of the town; however, the UAF control the high ground to the west of the settlement.
- To the north-east, RFAF continue to probe UAF defensive lines near Soledar, and Bakhmutske but no gains have been noted in this period. Similarly, to the north of Slovyansk, the UAF continues defending its positions in Dovhenke and Bohorodychne.
- Near Donetsk city, RFAF ground assaults continue to be reported near Marinka, supported by RFAF bombardment activity along the majority of the line of contact.
South – Kherson and Black Sea Coast Area of Operations
- On 29 Aug 22, Ukrainian officials announced that the UAF has commenced its counteroffensive in Kherson region. Initial media reports in the last 24-hours indicate that the UAF have liberated several urban settlements, breaching the first line of RFAF defences. Ukrainian officials have not confirmed these advances at this stage and requested that the reporting embargo continues along this operational front.
- The UAF successfully targeted the Antonivsky and Kakhovka bridges on 28 & 29 Aug 22. One post suggested that the UAF also damaged an RFAF barge. Both bridges remain unusable for heavy military equipment and the RFAF continue to rely on alternative forms of resupply – including the ongoing construction of the pontoon bridge.
- The UAF also continued to target RFAF logistics nodes across the region including ammunition depots near Nova Kokhova, as well as command posts near the Kakhovka Bridge. This tempo is likely to persist in the coming weeks to support UAF ground assaults but is likely to be unsustainable in the medium term.
- On 29 Aug 22, reports suggested that Ukrainian partisan groups targeted an FSB base in Melitopol. Separate, unconfirmed reports that the RFAF have relocated its military hospital in Melitopol in response to the resistance threat.
Video of reported clashes in occupied Kherson region. Source: @nexta_tv
Image taken from Critical Threats and ISW showing NASA FIRMs data along the line of contact pertaining to the Kherson counter-offensive. Source: @bradyafr
Video reported to show UAF strikes into RFAF territory near Nova Kakhovka. Source: @Osinttechnical
- Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s defence minister, is reported to have been side-lined by Vladimir Putin. According to UK intelligence officials, Shoigu has been routinely mocked by his soldiers, due to his lack of relevant military experience and ineffectual leadership. This information follows Shoigu’s announcement last week that the RFAF would be slowing down its military operations in Ukraine in order to minimize civilian casualties.
- An inspection team from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is expected to arrive at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) later this week. The visit comes at a critical moment, following daily reports that the safety and security of the facility has been compromised due to fighting, shelling and industrial sabotage activities.
Post from IAEA Head, Rafael Grossi, ahead of his delegation's visit to the ZNPP. Source: @rafaelmgrossi
- The UAF has been using dummy HIMARs launchers made of wood to deceive the RFAF into wasting Kalibr missile stocks. The report from the Washington Post highlighted that the decoy vehicles appeared almost identical to the real thing when viewed by RFAF UAV sensors, which then passed the targeting data to Russian naval missile carriers situated in the Black Sea. According to local sources, this tactic has successfully decoyed at least 10 Kalibr missiles.
- US officials have reported that Russia has experienced “several failures” with its Iranian-supplied UAVs. Malfunction reports have coincided with the news that Russia has received its first shipment of the airframes, ahead of their deployment to front-line operations in Ukraine. The officials also stated this first shipment of UAVs is the start of a planned transfer of hundreds of Iranian UAVs of varying size, capability and type.
- Sergei Shoigu was appointed by Putin as defence minister in 2012 and is one of Putin’s longest-serving ministers; he also oversaw Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Shoigu’s marginalisation, despite his former closeness to Putin, is a clear indicator that the Russian president no longer has confidence in the Defence Minister’s ability to command operations in Ukraine. Also, Putin’s increasingly direct role in overseeing military operations is a further indicator that the RFAF is making slow progress, compared to its earlier successes in Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk in late June. The line of contact has been almost static for over a month and RFAF commanders are now facing a Ukrainian counter-attack alongside an increasingly fragmented senior echelon.
- The IAEA visit to the ZNPP is critical to highlighting to a global audience that the United Nations retains the authority to independently verify the situation on the ground. Whilst shelling is the primary concern, due to the facility’s robust infrastructure, reports of outages will be important to understand, evaluate, and implement recommendations to stabilise that environment as well as replacing any damaged sensors for monitoring the plant. The visit will also act as reassurance to President Zelenskyy and other western leaders, who have voiced concern that Russia’s occupation of ZNPP will result in a nuclear disaster. However, whilst Russia is willing to facilitate this visit, it is unlikely to listen to western calls to demilitarize the ZNPP. Deliberate shelling of movement corridors to disrupt the inspection team’s movements is also a realistic possibility, despite Russia’s assurances.
- Specific details regarding the issues with the Iranian UAVs have not been disclosed, likely due to the sensitives on the intelligence collection method or source. However, the few details revealed highlight that Russia is actively seeking to fill a capability gap in the area of both reconnaissance and armed strike UAVs, which is a likely indicator of the effects of sanctions on Russian domestic production. Whilst issues have been reported, it is important to note that purchasing Iranian systems is still likely to be the fastest way for Russia to procure additional and replacement capabilities which may assist with the targeting of UAF high-value targets such as HIMARS and M270 launchers.
The UAF focus in the next seven days will likely be on building offensive momentum along the Kherson-Mykolaiv border region, whilst maintaining shaping activities and supporting strikes to degrade RFAF command and control and logistics positions and further isolate RFAF elements west of the Dnipro River.
Despite limited reporting from the ground, it is assessed that the UAF main axis of advance is from the bridgehead over the Inhulets River near Andriivka, Lozove and Bilohirka. It is a realistic possibility that the UAF will seek to advance toward the Nova Kakhova dam in order to isolate RFAF elements west of the river. This action, in combination with concentrated UAF targeting of the Antonivsky and Kakhovka bridges and further strikes against pontoon bridges and barges, will prevent Russian resupply, mutual support and manoeuvre of reserve elements. It is a realistic possibility that the retreat of Russian command and control elements east of the river, combined with bombardment and isolation will force the Russian soldiers in Kherson and environs to consider retreat (where possible) or surrender, thus preventing excessive collateral damage to settlements the UAF wishes to preserve for the future. The RFAF main effort, from a GLoC standpoint, will be to establish and maintain those supply routes. Failure to do-so will likely allow the UAF to commit more forces to this effort and restrict RFAF manoeuvrability.
Some RFAF reinforcements have been reported to be moving to solidify its defensive lines on the western bank of the Dnipro River; however, it is currently unclear if these numbers will be sufficient to stymie the UAF advance. It is also a possibility that the RFAF will seek to divert some Ukrainian forces from the main counter-offensive effort by conducting spoiling attacks further north in villages south of Kryvyi Rih.
Elsewhere, RFAF spoiling attacks will continue along the Northeast Axis, and to the north of Izyum to counter UAF advances and prevent the redeployment of additional forces to support the South Axis main effort. However, no significant changes in control are to be expected in the next 7-days.
On the eastern Axis, the situation is likely to remain unchanged as the RFAF strive to make incremental advances towards the satellite towns and villages east and south of Bakhmut. Progress is likely to remain slow, but there is unlikely to be a pause unless the situation in the west becomes critical for the RFAF. Russia currently lacks the manoeuvre elements, air power or fires to be able to force UAF withdrawals in the short-term.
Additionally, along the South Axis, partisan activities are highly likely to continue – probably focussed on Melitopol – to prevent the RFAF from diverting resources to Kherson region and degrade morale