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Ukraine War, 15 August 2023
Let me start this one with trying to make sense out of diverse reports about missile strikes of the last few days.
On 9 August, Ukrainians reported three ‘Kinzhal alerts’: that is, three air raid alerts caused by MiG-31Ks of the VKS taking-off from Machulishchy AB. Gauging by available reports, the first of these three included an attempted launch, but no missile was released. Reason is unclear (and I doubt we’re going to know any time soon), but it seems either the missile malfunctioned, or the jet suffered another case of trouble with its D-30F6 engines (the VKS lost at least four MiG-31s the last year, most of these to engine-related problems).
On 11 August, the VKS released four Kinzhal missiles on targets in north-western Ukraine: one was shot down in the Kyiv area, but three others came through: two hit the Korolivka AB, outside Kolomyya, south-east of Ivano Frankivsk, while one hit a private home nearby, killing a child. Apparently, Korolivka AB is one of forward operating bases of the 7th Brigade, PSU, equipped with Su-24s. And, as far as I can say, this was – so far – the Kinzhal attack reaching the deepest into Ukraine (Korolivka is some 450km south of the border to Belarus).
On 12 August, the PSU reported the downing of three Russian Shahed-136 UAVs.
Tu-22M-3s were airborne over the Azov Sea on 13 August, but I’m not sure if they have launched any Kh-22s or Kh-32s that day.
Early on 14 August, the Russians released 15 Shahed-136s and 8 Kalibrs in direction of Odessa: seems, the PSU claimed all of them as shot down, but impression is that several did get through and have caused damage. That said, RUMINT has it the PSU has received its second ‘full’ MIM-104 Patriot SAM-system (not sure if PAC-2 or PAC-3, but probably a combination of the two): wouldn’t be surprised if this was deployed for the defence of Odesa.
Yesterday, a total of eight Tu-95 launched from Olenya AB, on the Kola Peninsula. The Kh-101/555s they’ve released some 5-6 hours later have reached their targets in western Ukraine early this morning. From what I’ve heard by now, they’ve targeted the airports of Lviv (six detonations reported), plus the Ivano-Frankivsk and Starokostyantyniv air bases. Gauging by preliminary reports, the PSU has shot down most of incoming missiles, but an apartment home was hit in Lviv.
For its part, the PSU seems to have flown another series of Storm Shadow/SCAL-EG-strikes. Reports are indicating hits on the Russian supply dumps in the Dzhankoy area, in the port of Berdyansk, and in the Mariupol area (reportedly: it was a Russian HQ that was hit in the Volna area, outside Mariupol), yesterday.
Ah yes and:
- The Russian-appointed ‘head’ of the Kherson region stated, three days ago, that the repairs on the Chongar Bridge are going to take 1-2 months…
- yesterday (14 August) early in the morning, the ZSU claimed one Ka-52 of the VKS as shot down over the Bakhmut area.
BATTLE OF DONBAS
Kupyansk… even if, as explained yesterday, it’s ‘on hand’ that the mass of Russian units is out of condition to run offensive operations, it is surprising to hear the 1st GTA seems to have abandoned its offensive on Synkivka and from Pershotravneve in south-western direction. Its latest attacks might have gained something like 200 metres – if at all – and that at a cost of about a battalion of troops killed or wounded. Once again, cannot stress enough: this is not about the lack of troops. The Russians have enough troops in this area. It’s no only the 1st GTA that is around, but the 6th and 20th CAAs, plus units of the XI AC. The entire 30th MRB, 2nd MRD, 4th, 7th, and the 47th TDs are deployed north-east and east of Kupyansk (facing an equivalent of three brigades of the ZSU). But, it seems their commands cannot accumulate enough supplies and artillery, and the units in question…. no idea: I mean, this is such a mass of troops, over 200 main battle tanks and something like two or three times as much artillery - and they simply can’t advance…
That said, a particularly bitter battle is reported from… your guess: ‘Bilohorivka’. …and then one somewhere between Lyman, Svatvoe, and Kremina…Supposedly, the ZSU is ‘still holding out’, but the situation is ‘extremely difficult.
Given there are about 100 Bilohorivkas in all of Ukraine, and at least four can be found anywhere between Lyman, Svatove and Lysychansk, I have no idea which one is meant in this case. One Bilohorivka is south-east of Terny, and I doubt there are any Russians nearby. The other is on the eastern side of the Serebranysk Forest, and under the Russian control. Think to recall there was one somewhere in the Svatove area, but can’t find it right now (and, as mentioned the last week: sorry, got no contacts there).
UPDATE: found it! It’s ‘that’ Bilohorivka - ‘the one on the Siversky Donets’, about 10km west of Lysichansk.
Klishchivka…the Russians launched a mechanised attack - either yesterday, or the day before - this time in the Andriivka area. It was so ‘successful’ that they’ve lost at least three T-90Ms plus a T-80BV before even crossing the railway line… Perhaps this is why the 1st GTA, 2nd and 6th CAA etc., further north, are not trying in any more serious fashion…
Staromaiorske/Staromlynivka…Although still busy recovering captured Russian vehicles from the Urozhayne area, and de-mining the place, Ukrainians have continued their offensive by pushing into Pryutne and clearing the fields north of Zavitne Bazhannya. Problem: turns out the ZSU hasn’t got much space to manoeuvre in this area. All its probes in between of Pryutne and Zavitne Bazhannya (and dozens of these were run the last two months) came back with losses and reports about soft, marshy ground, and immense volumes of mines. So, guess, an approach from the West on Zavitne Bazhannya is a ‘no go’ solution. In the east, there’s the concentration of Russian forces in the Kermenchyk area, centred on their 5th Tank Brigade. These have proven ‘shy’ of exiting their hideouts and supporting infantry – because of the dominance by Ukrainian artillery. But, precisely this is making me guess that the ZSU might want to smoke them out as next, before trying to push for Staromlynivka in serious.
Robotyne…is short of falling, but still a bloody mess. The fighting is now focusing on the southern side of the (ruined) village, with the 65th Mech pushing from north and west, the 47th Mech from the east, and the Russians squeezed in between. The situation is similar to that in Urozhayne of the last week: what’s left of the VSRF is hunkered in fortified basements, trying to hold out no matter what, but cut off from supplies and reinforcements because Ukrainians have the only approach road under their fire control. Have seen a number of ghastly videos of Russian troops cut off from their units committing suicides, the last few days (all taken by Ukainian UAVs): they really must have lost any hope…
Not sure if it’s the 65th or the Skala Assault Battalion that’s savaging the Russians in Kopani, further west….
Further east and south-east: Ukrainians have re-launched their advance into Verbove (must admit: didn’t expect that), and have gained some ground there. They’re also continuing to approach Novoprokopvika by fighting through the 2nd Line of Russian defences (‘first big trench’).
Oleshky…. The Russian social media is bitterly complaining about Ukrainians expanding their bridgeheads in the Kozachi Laheri area, about Ukrainians advancing into northern outskirts of Oleshky, too, about the lack of air- and artillery support etc.. Ukrainians are completely silent about what’s going on there. Thus, sorry, still no idea what exactly is going on.