Moscow’s key supply route to Kherson hit in barrage of strikes, Kyiv’s forces claim. Magazine photo spreads seem incongruous but it’s only part of the massive propaganda battle that continues. It’s not ever been Teen Vogue.
- Russian proxy and occupation leadership is enunciating expedited deadlines for the capture of Ukrainian territory to align with the Kremlin’s efforts to prepare for the annexation of occupied territories into the Russian Federation.
- Russian forces gained marginal ground northeast of Bakhmut and are continuing to fight east and south of Bakhmut.
- Russian forces conducted a limited attack northwest of Izyum, likely to secure Russian rear areas on the Izyum-Slovyansk line.
- Russian forces conducted limited attacks southwest of Donetsk City near the Zaporizhia Oblast border.
- Russian forces focused on defending occupied lines and conducted a limited ground assault in northwestern Kherson Oblast.
- Ukrainian forces continued to strike Russian logistics nodes in Kherson Oblast.
- The Kremlin is continuing to constitute regional volunteer battalions for deployment into Ukraine.
- Ukrainian intelligence leaks continue to reveal the Kremlin’s annexation agendas for occupied Ukraine by way of falsified referenda.
Supporting Effort #1—Kharkiv City (Russian objective: Defend ground lines of communication (GLOCs) to Izyum and prevent Ukrainian forces from reaching the Russian border)
Russian forces did not conduct any ground assaults and continued to focus on maintaining defensive lines north of Kharkiv City to prevent Ukrainian forces from advancing toward the international border on July 26. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces continued to conduct air and artillery strikes along the Kharkiv City Axis on July 26. Russian forces conducted airstrikes on Mospanove, Zalyman, and Yavirske, all southeast of Kharkiv City, and launched tube and rocket artillery strikes on Kharkiv City and settlements to the north, northeast, and southeast.
Subordinate Main Effort—Southern Kharkiv, Donetsk, Luhansk Oblasts (Russian objective: Encircle Ukrainian forces in Eastern Ukraine and capture the entirety of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)
Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks northwest of Slovyansk and shelled settlements to the southeast and southwest of Izyum on July 26. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian troops once again conducted an unsuccessful assault near Bohorodychne, about 20 km northwest of Slovyansk. The Ukrainian General Staff also noted that Russian forces conducted a reconnaissance operation near Chepil, about 60 km northwest of Slovyansk between Kharkiv City and Izyum. This reconnaissance attempt may suggest that Russian forces are seeking to secure the rear of operations on the Izyum-Slovyansk line. ISW will continue to monitor the Chepil area for indicators of the nature of Russian operations northwest of the Izyum-Slovyansk line. Russian forces continued to shell settlements along the Kharkiv-Donetsk Oblast border southeast of Izyum and around Barvinkove, southwest of Izyum.
The Ukrainian General Staff additionally claimed that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian assaults in the area of the Sviati Hory National Nature Park, about 20 km northeast of Slovyansk. The Sviati Hory park is bounded by the eastern bank of the Siverskyi Donets River, and it is unlikely that Russian forces have yet made it across the river and are advancing southwest toward Slovyansk. The language of the General Staff report is vague and may suggest that:
- Russian forces have either crossed the Siverskyi Donetsk River on the outskirts of the park (which is unlikely given previous challenges Russian troops have faced in opposed river crossings);
- That Ukrainian forces have crossed the Siverskyi Donetsk River onto the territory of the park and are engaging Russian troops in the area, which would be noteworthy, but for which there is no evidence;
- or that Russian forces simply carried out unspecified offensive actions somewhere near the park and in the general area northeast of Slovyansk.
Supporting Effort #2—Southern Axis (Russian objective: Defend Kherson and Zaporizhia Oblasts against Ukrainian counterattacks)
Russian forces continued their air and missile campaign against Odesa and Mykolaiv Oblasts on July 26. Ukrainian Air Force Command Spokesperson Yuriy Ignat reported that Russian bombers fired 13 air missiles at the coastal settlement of Zatoka south of the Dniester Estuary and other unspecified areas in Odesa Oblast from the Black Sea, and social media reports showed destruction of residential infrastructure. Mykolaiv Oblast Administration Head Vitaly Kim reported that Russian forces fired 18 missiles at Mykolaiv Oblast, and about half of the missiles hit a defunct railway bridge, industrial areas, residential buildings, and critical infrastructure. Kim specified that Russian forces launched six Kh-59 cruise missiles and 12 missiles from S-300 air defense systems. The Ukrainian Southern Operational Command added that Russian forces targeted an unspecified port in Mykolaiv Oblast.
Russian forces continued to focus on defending their occupied positions and attempted a limited unsuccessful assault in northwestern Kherson Oblast. The Ukrainian Southern Operational Command reported that Russian forces made another unsuccessful attempt to advance from occupied Ishchenka to Bilohirka on July 25, likely in an effort to push back Ukrainian positions on the eastern Inhulets Riverbank. Russian forces also carried out air and missile strikes on settlements around the Ukrainian bridgehead over the Inhulets River.
Ukrainian forces reportedly continued to strike Russian ammunition depots and manpower concentrations in Kherson Oblast, likely complicating Russian logistics in the region. The Ukrainian Southern Operational Command stated that Ukrainian forces destroyed a command post and an ammunition depot of the 11th Separate Guards Air Assault Brigade (based in Ulan Ude, Buryatia) in northern Kherson Oblast on July 25. Advisor to the Kherson Oblast Military Administration Head Serhiy Khlan also confirmed that Russian forces are attempting to establish a pontoon crossing over the Inhulets River in Darivka (approximately 24 km northeast of Kherson City) to resume transport of heavy equipment after Ukrainian strikes damaged a bridge in the area.
A key Russian held bridge into the occupied southern city of Kherson was hit with a barrage of rocket fire by Ukrainian forces who appeared to be stepping up operations to isolate the city.
Video and witness accounts showed up to 18 detonations on the Antonivskiy bridge over the Dnipro river, one of the main Russian resupply routes into Kherson, with Russian anti-missile air defences apparently failing to intercept the strikes.
Senior presidential adviser to Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Anton Herashchenko, cited Ukraine’s armed forces in an update posted on Tuesday morning: “Himars dealt another powerful blow to one of the two bridges across the Dnieper, which are used by the invaders for a massive transfer of troops. Let’s hope that this time the Antonivskiy bridge will not withstand the power of the Himars missile attack.”
The bridge has come under repeated attack in the past week as Ukraine has tried to cut off the handful of routes Russia can use to move heavy weapons in and around Kherson, including a road over the dam at nearby Nova Khakovka.
Kherson, captured in early March, has long been a focus for the Ukrainians, with the defenders making limited gains in the countryside between Mykolaiv and the target city since April. But, apparently helped by longer-range weapons, with an effective firing distance of up to 50 miles (80km), the Ukrainians are growing more confident.
Sergiy Khlan, an aide to the administrative head of the Kherson region, told Ukrainian TV a turning point had been reached, and the region “will definitely be liberated by September”.
1. Russian missile strikes hit civilian targets, port infrastructure in Odesa and Mykolaiv
Russia targeted Ukraine's Black Sea regions of Odesa and Mykolaiv with airstrikes on Tuesday, hitting private property and port infrastructure along the country's southern coast, the Ukrainian military said.
The Kremlin's forces used air-launched missiles in the attack, Ukraine's Operational Command South said in a Facebook post.
In the Odesa region, a number of private buildings in coastal villages were hit and caught fire, the report said. In the Mykolaiv region, port infrastructure was targeted despite the agreement Moscow and Kyiv signed last week that was intended to allow grain shipments to resume from Ukraine's Black Sea ports.
Hours after the strikes, a Moscow-installed official in southern Ukraine said the Odesa and Mykolaiv regions would soon be "liberated" by Russian forces, just like the already occupied Kherson region further east.
The bombardment continued on other fronts, with Russian missiles claimed to have destroyed a school in Donetsk.
Capturing the rest of the eastern industrial region of the Donbas remains the Kremlin's priority, although the recent escalation in missile attacks and shelling across the country signifies a possible offensive in the making, Ukrainian authorities have warned.
2. Mayor of Kramatorsk says 'very difficult winter' is ahead
The mayor of Kramatorsk, the last major city in the Donbas region still under Ukrainian control, said on Tuesday that the winter will be "very difficult" because of the damaged gas pipelines and the need to heat the 60,000 people still living there.
Kramatorsk, which had 150,000 inhabitants before the war, is the last administrative centre still under Ukrainian control in the east. Targeted by Russian forces, the town is regularly bombed.
"This winter will be very difficult. The whole Donetsk region is without gas and if the front line remains where it is today, it will not be possible to repair the damaged pipelines," its mayor Oleksandr Honcharenko told AFP.
The lack of gas would also force the authorities to cut off the water supply, which will freeze in winter due to the sub-zero temperatures in the region.
According to him, most of the 60,000 inhabitants of Kramatorsk who have decided to stay are elderly: "They would rather die than leave.
Ukrainian units need to push back Russian troops by at least 20 kilometres to make possible repairs to the gas pipelines, which will be difficult without new arms deliveries from Kyiv's Western allies.
"We need air defence systems to stop all those missiles and more artillery to stop the Russians on the front line, otherwise they will advance," Goncharenko said.
"They only advance one kilometre in a week or two, but they are coming. And with only Kalashnikovs, it is not possible to stop them," he argues.