Russian Offensive Marketing campaign Evaluation, August 3

August 3, 8:30pm ET

Click on right here to see ISW’s interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map is up to date day by day alongside the static maps current on this report.

Russian forces are possible utilizing Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Energy Plant (NPP) in Enerhodar to play on Western fears of a nuclear catastrophe in Ukraine, possible in an effort to degrade Western will to offer navy help to a Ukrainian counteroffensive. Worldwide Atomic Vitality Company (IAEA) Director Normal Rafael Grossi mentioned on August 3 that Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Energy Plant (NPP), which is at the moment occupied by Russian forces, is “utterly uncontrolled” and that “each precept of nuclear security has been violated” on the plant.[1] He warned that Russian forces will not be respecting the bodily integrity of the plant and pleaded with Russia and Ukraine to shortly facilitate a go to of IAEA screens to the advanced. Russian Zaporizhia Occupation Administration Head Evgeniy Balitskyi responded that the IAEA was welcome on the plant: “We’re prepared to indicate how the Russian navy guards it immediately, and the way Ukraine, which receives weapons from the West, makes use of these weapons, together with drones, to assault the nuclear plant, appearing like a monkey with a grenade.”[2] Russian officers are framing Ukraine as irresponsibly utilizing Western-provided weapons and risking nuclear catastrophe to dissuade Western and different allied states from offering further navy help to Ukraine’s looming southern counteroffensive.

Russian forces based mostly across the NPP have attacked Ukrainian positions in Nikopol and elsewhere in current weeks, deliberately placing Ukraine in a troublesome place—both Ukraine returns hearth, risking worldwide condemnation and a nuclear incident (which Ukrainian forces are unlikely to do), or Ukrainian forces enable Russian forces to proceed firing on Ukrainian positions from an efficient “protected zone.” Ukrainian Mayor of Enerhodar Dmytro Orlov reported on August 3 that Russian forces launched rockets on Enerhodar from neighboring villages to falsely accuse Ukrainian forces of shelling Enerhodar and endangering the NPP.[3] ISW assessed on July 21 that Russian forces could also be storing heavy navy tools within the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Energy Plant (NPP) in Enerhodar to guard it from Ukrainian strikes.[4] Russian forces have additionally possible staged false flag assaults round Enerhodar since early July, as ISW beforehand reported.[5]

Russian forces possible set hearth to the jail advanced holding Ukrainian POWs in occupied Donetsk Oblast however blamed Ukraine for an alleged precision strike utilizing Western-supplied navy tools, more likely to deter further Western navy help to Ukraine. The Ukrainian Essential Navy Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported that it has decided that the Wagner Group intentionally set hearth to the jail advanced on July 28. This report is in keeping with the injury observable in Russian-provided video of the location. The GUR reported that Wagner forces “mined” the constructing with unspecified flammable substances, which led to a speedy unfold of fireside all through the constructing.[6] Russian-provided footage and business satellite tv for pc imagery from the colony confirmed that the partitions of the constructing had been burned however nonetheless standing and didn’t reveal shell craters or different indicators in keeping with an artillery strike. ISW beforehand reported that imagery from the location reveals that the assault solely broken one constructing, didn’t collapse the partitions of that constructing, and didn’t depart any shell craters within the neighborhood, very strongly suggesting that the destruction of the jail was the results of both a precision strike or an internally planted incendiary or explosive.[7] Russian officers beforehand claimed that the deaths of the POWs had been the results of a Ukrainian HIMARS strike, possible as a element of the continuing Russian data operation trying to dissuade the US from persevering with to offer Ukraine with HIMARS.

The Kremlin is probably going persevering with efforts to leverage its relationship with Tehran as a way to obtain drones to be used in Ukraine. Russian state-owned house company Roscosmos introduced on August 3 that Russia will launch a remote-sensing satellite tv for pc (named “Khayyam”) into orbit on behalf of Iran on August 9.[8] The Kremlin might intend this launch to encourage or repay Tehran for the supply of Iranian drones that might be employed in operations in Ukraine, and presumably different navy tools or help. Iran has an enormous ballistic missile arsenal and home missile manufacturing capabilities that it might present to Russia in alternate for financial and navy cooperation.[9] Iran has prioritized the event of its navy house program in recent times and launched one satellite tv for pc in April 2020 and one in April 2022. US and Center Japanese officers said as early as June 2021 that Russian officers had been making ready to ship a Russian-made Kanopus-V satellites to Iran, which might broaden Tehran’s general surveillance capabilities within the Center East and past.[10] As ISW reported on August 2, Russian and Iran are possible persevering with to facilitate cooperation via not too long ago signed bilateral aviation agreements as a way to bolster Russian navy capabilities in Ukraine and help Tehran with sanctions mitigation.[11]

The Russian Protection Ministry has altered the main target of its reporting after the autumn of Lysychansk, more likely to orient on narratives that resonate positively with milbloggers and warfare correspondents reasonably than people who draw criticism from that neighborhood. The Russian Protection Ministry has shifted its reporting type to concentrate on claims of declining Ukrainian morale and profitable Russian strikes on Western-provided navy tools, reasonably than reporting on day-to-day Russian advances on the frontline.[12] Russian forces have made restricted positive factors round Bakhmut and Avdiivka in current days, however the Russian Protection Ministry has not claimed territorial positive factors across the theater since a minimum of the autumn of Lysychansk. Milbloggers, warfare correspondents, and different teams have criticized the Protection Ministry and the Kremlin for exaggerated and inaccurate claims of territorial positive factors, undermining Moscow’s narratives and credibility.[13] The Protection Ministry apparently flirted with the concept of suppressing or trying to regulate the milblogger neighborhood, but it surely appears as an alternative to have opted to regulate its personal narratives.[14] The Protection Ministry is now letting milbloggers, warfare correspondents, and DNR officers cowl the state of affairs unfolding in Avdiivka, Pisky, and south of Bakhmut positively with out making claims of its personal which may draw criticism. Milbloggers launched footage from the reported seize of the Butivka Coal Mine air flow shaft and on the southern outskirts of Pisky, the place they celebrated recapturing small segments of years-long contested territory–but the Protection Ministry has made no assertion on the topic.[15] A number of the milbloggers resembling Maksim Fomin (recognized underneath alias Vladelen Tatarzkiy) have beforehand served inside DNR items and embrace anecdotes about their service within the Donetsk Metropolis space previous to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Such protection of the warfare possible goals to spice up morale amongst DNR and Russian fighters. The Kremlin or the Protection Ministry might have determined that the milbloggers and warfare correspondents are extra credible sources for the constituencies it cares most about and realized that its personal claims had been dropping credibility. They could alternatively be specializing in narratives that generate constructive resonance inside that neighborhood. 

Key Takeaways

  • Russian forces are possible utilizing Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Energy Plant (NPP) in Enerhodar to play on Western fears of a nuclear catastrophe in Ukraine, trying to thereby degrade the need of Western powers to offer navy help to a Ukrainian counteroffensive.
  • Russian forces possible set hearth to the jail advanced holding Ukrainian POWs in occupied Donetsk Oblast however blamed Ukraine for an alleged precision strike utilizing Western-supplied navy tools, more likely to enhance US hesitancy to proceed offering HIMARS to Ukraine.
  • Moscow is probably going persevering with efforts to leverage its relationship with Tehran as a way to safe drones to be used in Ukraine.
  • Russian forces carried out a restricted floor assault northwest of Slovyansk and continued efforts to advance on Bakhmut from the northeast, east, and southeast.
  • Russian forces are prioritizing frontal assaults on Avdiivka and failed to achieve floor in Pisky.
  • Russian forces are reportedly forming a strike group to stop Ukrainian counteroffensives in northern Kherson Oblast or counterattack towards them.
  • Russian occupation authorities might enable each in-person and on-line voting in upcoming pseudo-referenda on the annexation of occupied Ukrainian territory into Russia, enabling extra simple Russian vote rigging.

We don’t report intimately on Russian warfare crimes as a result of these actions are well-covered in Western media and don’t immediately have an effect on the navy operations we’re assessing and forecasting. We’ll proceed to guage and report on the consequences of those legal actions on the Ukrainian navy and inhabitants and particularly on fight in Ukrainian city areas. We totally condemn these Russian violations of the legal guidelines of armed battle, Geneva Conventions, and humanity regardless that we don’t describe them in these studies.

  • Essential Effort—Japanese Ukraine (comprised of 1 subordinate and two supporting efforts);
  • Subordinate Essential Effort—Encirclement of Ukrainian Troops within the Cauldron between Izyum and Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts
  • Supporting Effort 1—Kharkiv Metropolis
  • Supporting Effort 2—Southern Axis
  • Mobilization and Power Technology Efforts
  • Actions in Russian-occupied Areas

Essential Effort—Japanese Ukraine

Subordinate Essential Effort—Southern Kharkiv, Donetsk, Luhansk Oblasts (Russian goal: Encircle Ukrainian forces in Japanese Ukraine and seize the whole lot of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)

Russian forces carried out a restricted floor assault northwest of Slovyansk and continued to shell settlements west and southeast of Izyum on August 3. The Ukrainian Normal Employees reported that Ukrainian troops neutralized a Russian reconnaissance-in-force try south of Mazanivka, about 25km northwest of Slovyansk close to the Kharkiv-Donetsk Oblast border.[16] Russian forces moreover carried out artillery strikes close to Protopopivka, Mechebylove, Husarivka, Chepil and Nortsivka, all settlements mendacity alongside the arc that ranges from the west to northwest of the Izyum space.[17] Continuous artillery strikes west of Izyum are in keeping with ISW’s evaluation that Russian forces could also be setting circumstances to advance westward from the rear of the Izyum-Slovyansk line additional into Kharkiv Oblast.

Russian forces didn’t conduct any confirmed floor assaults within the Siversk space and shelled Siversk Metropolis and surrounding settlements on August 3.[18]

Russian forces carried out a sequence of floor assaults to the northeast, east, and southeast of Bakhmut on August 3. The Ukrainian Normal Employees said that Russian forces carried out assaults round Volodymyrivka, Yakovlivka, and Soledar (all inside 15km northeast of Bakhmut), Pokrovske (about 5km due east of Bakhmut), and Vidrozhennya, Kodema, Zaitseve, Semihirya, and Dolomytne (all inside 20km southeast of Bakhumt).[19] The Territorial Protection of the Donetsk Folks’s Republic (DNR) claimed that DNR forces have taken management of Travneve, a small settlement about 19km south of Bakhmut.[20] Whereas ISW can’t independently affirm the validity of this territorial declare, it’s in keeping with studies that Russian forces are persevering with to combat for positions across the Novoluhanske space in an effort to push northwards on Bakhmut.

Russian forces continued to prioritize unsuccessful frontal assaults onto Avdiivka and did not advance into Pisky on August 3. The Ukrainian Normal Employees reported that Russian forces unsuccessfully tried to interrupt via Ukrainian defenses in Avdiivka from Spartak and Mineralne, each located southwest and southeast of Avdiivka, respectively.[21] Russian forces additionally resumed unsuccessful assaults northeast of Avdiivka, trying to assault Kransohorivka from each Novoselivka Druha and Vasylivka. The Ukrainian Normal Employees additionally famous that Ukrainian forces repelled a Russian assault on Pisky from the Donetsk Metropolis route. Russian milblogger Maksim Fomin (alias Vladelen Tatarzkiy) printed footage of Russian troops on the southern outskirts of Pisky, regardless of claiming that many Donetsk Folks’s Republic (DNR) battalions are efficiently advancing via Pisky.[22] DNR First Deputy Info Minister Daniil Bezsonov claimed that Russian forces have secured half of Pisky on August 3, however the declare is just not in keeping with Fomin’s footage.[23] Russian forces continued heavy shelling round Avdiivka and Pisky in an try to disrupt Ukrainian fortifications and set circumstances for an advance.[24]

Ukrainian forces repelled Russian offensive operations west of Donetsk Metropolis on August 3. The Ukrainian Normal Employees reported that Russian forces unsuccessfully tried to advance to Mariinka and Bilohirka and withdrew.[25] Russian forces haven’t been persistently combating round Mariinka in comparison with persistent assaults round Avdiivka and Bakhmut.

Supporting Effort #1—Kharkiv Metropolis (Russian goal: Defend floor strains of communication (GLOCs) to Izyum and stop Ukrainian forces from reaching the Russian border)

Russian forces continued restricted unsuccessful floor assaults alongside the Kharkiv Metropolis Axis on August 3. Russian forces did not advance within the Kochubeivka-Dementiivka route, roughly 40km north of Kharkiv Metropolis. Russian troops are persevering with efforts to keep up occupied frontiers in northeast Kharkiv Oblast and carried out aerial reconnaissance and digital warfare (EW) operations on this space.[26]  Kharkiv Oblast Head Oleg Synegubov said that Russian forces struck two neighborhoods in Kharkiv Metropolis with S-300 air protection missiles shot from Belgorod, Russia, and continued shelling areas north, east, and south of Kharkiv Metropolis.[27]

Supporting Effort #2—Southern Axis (Russian goal: Defend Kherson and Zaporizhia Oblasts towards Ukrainian counterattacks)

Russian forces tried to regain misplaced positions in northwestern Kherson Oblast on August 2 and August 3. Ukrainian navy officers reported that Russian forces carried out an unsucessful reconnaissance-in-force operation close to Bilohirka on the western financial institution of the Inhulets River.[28] Russian forces have additionally carried out an airstrike on Andriivka, simply south of Bilohirka, possible in an effort to destroy the Ukrainian bridgehead over the Inhulets River.[29] Russian forces continued to shell Ukrainian positions alongside the Kherson Oblast border, and have launched Smerch MLRS rockets, S-300 air protection missiles, and three Kh-101 cruise missiles onto Mykolaiv Metropolis and Mykolaiv Oblast.[30]

Russian forces are reportedly making a strike group to preempt Ukrainian counteroffensives on the Kherson-Dnipropetrovsk Oblast administrative border. The Ukrainian Southern Operational Command reported that Russian forces are making a strike group to conduct offensive operations in northern Kherson Oblast, repel Ukrainian counteroffensives, and attain the Kherson-Dnipropetrovsk Oblast administrative border.[31] Kryvyi Rih Navy Administration Head Oleksandr Vilkul added that Russian forces are accumulating navy tools and servicemen within the Kryvyi Rih route (referring to troop positioning in northern Kherson Oblast).[32] Russian forces could also be persevering with to shell settlements round southwest of Kryvyi Rih and Nikopol to both set circumstances for an advance from northern Kherson Oblast onto Zaporizhia Metropolis through Nikopol or are concentrating on Ukrainian floor strains of communication (GLOCs) from Zaporizhia Metropolis forward of Ukrainian counteroffensives.[33]

Russian forces are persevering with to switch tools all through the Southern Axis. Geolocated social media footage confirmed Russian navy automobiles shifting within the northern route from southern Melitopol.[34] Mariupol Mayor Advisor Petro Andryushenko printed footage of a Russian navy convoy composed of engineering automobiles and vehicles driving from Mariupol within the route of Berdyansk.[35] The Ukrainian Normal Employees reported that Russian forces are withdrawing navy tools that had initially been dedicated to the Zaporizhia Oblast frontline on the finish of Might as a consequence of a scarcity of personnel to man the tools. The Ukrainian Normal Employees added that Russian forces are distributing the withdrawn tools to unspecified tank parts of the 58th Mixed Arms Army.[36] Such redistribution might point out that the Zaporizhia Oblast frontline is especially susceptible however that the Russians don’t intend to strengthen it.

Russian forces try to restore Russian GLOCs after Ukrainian strikes on Russian strongholds in southern Ukraine. Advisor to the Kherson Oblast Navy Administration Head Serhiy Khlan reported that Russian forces started to unfold out ammunition warehouses to mitigate the dangers and effectiveness of Ukrainian strikes however famous that such distribution disadvantages Russian positions in Kherson Oblast.[37] Social media footage additionally confirmed that Russian forces try to restore the Antonivskiy Street Bridge east of Kherson Metropolis and are extensively utilizing a ferry over the Dnipro River.[38] The UK Protection Ministry assessed that Ukrainian strikes on a Russian ammunition practice in Brylivka on July 30 has possible quickly impaired Russian railway connections between Kherson Oblast and Crimea, but it surely famous that Russian forces are more likely to restore the railway line inside just a few days.[39] Social media footage of an explosion in Brylivka printed on August 3 means that Ukrainian forces may need focused the placement for the second time.[40] Melitopol Mayor Ivan Fedorov said that Russian forces are attempting to revive their bases on the Melitopol airfield.[41]

Mobilization and Power Technology Efforts (Russian goal: Develop fight energy with out conducting common mobilization)

Russian navy management possible ordered the institution of “locations of relaxation” for Russian servicemembers inside occupied Ukraine to allow some depart for Russian forces with out letting these forces return to Russian territory, the place they might extra simply desert. Ukraine’s Essential Navy Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported on August 3 that Russian forces within the villages of Henicheska Hirka and Antonivka, Kherson Oblast are nationalizing (illegally seizing) privately-owned kids’s camps, recreation services, and golf equipment, and purchased up inflatable boats and mattresses, to determine “bases for the placement and remainder of the occupying forces.”[42]

Exercise in Russian-occupied Areas (Russian goal: consolidate administrative management of occupied areas; set circumstances for potential annexation into the Russian Federation or another future political association of Moscow’s selecting)

Russian occupation authorities might enable each in-person and on-line voting in upcoming pseudo-referenda on the annexation of occupied Ukrainian territory into Russia, enabling extra simple Russian vote rigging. The Ukrainian Mayor of Melitopol, Ivan Fedorov, introduced on August 2 that Russian occupation forces plan to permit “voting from dwelling” within the upcoming fake referendum that Russia will use to annex occupied Ukrainian territories.[43] Fedorov warned that occupation forces are threatening to deport Ukrainians who vote towards the sham referendum. Ukrainian information outlet Strana beforehand reported on July 29 that the Donetsk Folks’s Republic (DNR) “Public Headquarters of the Referendum” introduced will probably be attainable to vote on-line within the referendum to hitch Russia.[44] The Kremlin launched on-line voting to some regional Russian elections in 2021 and unfold it to the whole nation in March 2022, more likely to allow Russian President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia get together to extra simply pad their votes and to restrict the efficacy of election observers.[45] Russian opposition politicians and elections observers reported main discrepancies between on-line votes and paper ballots in areas the place on-line voting was examined in 2021, suggesting that the Kremlin added on-line votes to their tally every time their candidates wanted a lift. On-line voting in occupied Ukrainian territories could be much more farcical—many civilians in occupied areas haven’t any entry to electrical energy or operating water, not to mention to the web.

Russian occupation authorities are persevering with to set circumstances for long-term Russian management of occupied Ukrainian territories. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin met with the top of the Russian-appointed head of the Zaporizhia Occupation Administration, Evgeniy Balitskyi, on August 3 to debate a complete, three-year plan to rebuild roads in Zaporizhia Oblast and to debate growing Russian financing of the area.[46] Balitskyi individually introduced that occupation authorities are extending the deadline for native businesspeople and authorized entities to register for enterprise licenses within the oblast, suggesting that many Ukrainian companies will not be cooperating with Russian occupiers.[47] Deputy Kherson Occupation Administration Head Ekaterina Gubareva introduced on August 3 that occupation authorities will give Russian passports and citizenship to folks in Kherson even when they don’t have native residency permits or everlasting addresses within the area.[48] In the meantime, Ukraine’s Essential Navy Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported on August 3 that Russian occupation forces are destroying Ukrainian telecommunications networks that refused to cooperate with the occupiers in Chornobaivka, Kherson Oblast.[49] GUR added that Russian occupation forces try to power occupied populations to make use of Russian rubles as an alternative of Ukrainian hryvnyas by destroying ATMs that course of hryvnya transactions.

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