Materiel losses still count and the stories of cruelty continue in contrast to a disinformation war that remains.
— Turkey’s defense minister said preparations were underway for the resumption of grain shipments from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. Russia and Ukraine signed agreements last week to free up millions of tons of grain trapped by the fighting, potentially easing the global food crisis.
— At least two civilians were killed and three wounded when Russian forces shelled a hotel in the eastern city of Bakhmut, Ukrainian emergency authorities said. Bakhmut has been a focus of the Russian offensive in the region.
While halting traffic across the Dnieper River bridge makes only a slight dent in the overall Russian military operation, the attack was a morale-boosting victory for the Ukrainians.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter that the “occupiers should learn how to swim across” the Dnieper or “leave Kherson while it is still possible.” “There may not be a third warning,” he tweeted.
The bridge is the main crossing over the Dnieper in the Kherson region. The only other option is a dam at a hydroelectric plant in Kakhovka, which also came under Ukrainian fire last week but has remained open.
Knocking the crossings out would make it hard for the Russian military to keep supplying its forces in the region.
“We are doing all we can so that the occupiers have no logistical capabilities remaining on our land.” Ukraine’s president said during his nightly video address, noting the attack on the Antonivskiy bridge and other crossings in the region.
“Of course, they will all be rebuilt, but it will be us rebuilding them,” Zelenskyy added.
The accurate targeting of the bridge contrasted with Russia’s indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas since the invasion five months ago.
If accurate, the loss of 75,000 troops to death or injury would amount to a staggering toll: Estimates of the number of Russian forces in Ukraine ranged as high as 150,000 in the spring, meaning roughly half could be out of action.
Pentagon officials have said that losing just 10 percent of a military force, including both those killed and injured, renders a single unit unable to carry out combat-related tasks. Such losses also affect the morale and cohesion of a military unit.
Throughout the war, Ukraine and Russia have shielded their casualty numbers, keeping one another, and the rest of the world, guessing about the depth of their losses. Both sides have an interest in underreporting battlefield losses: Russia to preserve its domestic narrative of success, and Ukraine, to maintain morale. Troop deaths and injuries have been mounting, given that fierce fighting has endured for months, but the Biden administration’s estimate suggests just how high casualties may have gone on Russia’s side.
More recently, a senior adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said that Ukrainian military casualties were now between 100 and 200 per day.
Just weeks into the war, American officials offered what they said was a conservative estimate of more than 7,000 Russian war deaths so far — more than the number of American troops killed over 20 years in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. Russia followed with a far smaller count, saying on March 25 that 1,351 of its troops had been killed. And President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said the same month that an estimated 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed.
In May, Ukraine claimed that 30,000 Russian soldiers had been killed since the invasion began in February, a number impossible to independently verify. In April, a British intelligence assessment put the estimated Russian losses at half that number.
Mr. Zelensky made a new claim in his nightly address on Tuesday, saying that almost 40,000 Russian soldiers had been killed since the start of the war, with tens of thousands more injured. That claim comports, in broad terms, with the U.S. estimate of about 75,000 Russian total casualties.
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 make any territorial gains on the Kharkiv City Axis on July 27. The Derhachi City Council reported that heavy fighting is ongoing in Tsupivka as well as near Kozacha Lopan, Dementiivka, and Velykhiy Prohhody north of Kharkiv City. The Ukrainian General Staff also reported that Russian forces have established pontoon bridges in unspecified areas on this axis to improve logistics. Kharkiv Oblast Administration Head Oleh Synegubov reported that Russian forces struck Kharkiv City’s Industrial District with S-300 anti-air systems. Russian forces continued shelling along the entire line of contact.
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)
The Ukrainian General Staff released vague information indicating that Ukrainian forces may have launched a localized counterattack southeast of Izyum. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled a Russian reconnaissance group in Pasika (approximately 18 km southeast of Izyum) that attempted to “expose Ukrainian positions” in the settlement on July 27. There is no visual confirmation of Ukrainian forces operating in Pasika as of this publication and ISW is unable to verify this report. ISW assessed that Russian forces control Pasika based on geolocated footage of Russian forces advancing south via Bohorodychne (just southeast of Pasika) in mid-July. Ukrainian forces holding a position in Pasika would require a Ukrainian counteroffensive that reached Pasika (likely via Bohorodychne), but Ukrainian and Russian sources have not claimed such an operation as of this publication. The Ukrainian General Staff previously reported that Ukrainian forces stopped another Russian advance on Bohorodychne on July 26 but did not claim that Ukrainian forces recaptured territory northwest of Bohorodychne. The Russian Occupation Administration Head in Sviatohirsk Vladimir Rybalkin claimed that unconfirmed Ukrainian social media reports that Ukrainian forces retook Yarova, Sviatohirsk, and Bohorodychne are false. ISW will continue to monitor the situation and try to fill information gaps in this area.
Russian forces continued to shell settlements northwest of Slovyansk and southwest of Izyum on July 27. Russian forces have also shelled Chepil, about 60 km northwest of Slovyansk between Kharkiv City and Izyum. Russian forces previously conducted an unsuccessful reconnaissance-in-force in the Chepil area on July 26, and the shelling may indicate that Russian forces seek to set conditions to advance into the settlement.
Russian forces attempted limited ground assaults east of Siversk on July 27 but did not make any new territorial gains. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces unsuccessfully attempted to attack Verkhnokamyanske (about 8 km east of Siversk) from the northeast. Russian forces also reportedly launched an airstrike on Serebryanka (approximately 8km northeast of Siversk) and shelled settlements around Siversk.
Russian forces continued to attack settlements southeast and northeast of Bakhmut and made limited territorial gains on July 27. The Ukrainian General Staff noted that Russian forces launched unsuccessful assaults on Soledar (approximately 13 km northeast of Bakhmut) from the southeastern direction. The Ukrainian General Staff added that Ukrainian forces repelled a Russian reconnaissance-in-force attempt on Semihirya (about 16 km southeast of Bakhmut) and an attack on Berestove, situated on the T1302 Bkahmut-Lysychansk highway. Geolocated footage showed that Wagner mercenaries have reached Klynove (about 12 km southeast of Bakhmut), and Russian Telegram channel Readovka claimed that Russian forces established control over Pokrovske, just northeast of Klynove. Svitlodarsk City Military Administration Deputy Head Maxim Cherevko confirmed that Ukrainian forces withdrew from Novoluhanske (about 20 km south of Bakhmut), and the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) Militia claimed full control over the Vuhlehirska Thermal Power Plant. Donetsk Oblast Administration stated that Russian forces launched a missile strike that destroyed a hotel in Bakhmut.
Russian forces did not conduct offensive operations around Avdiivka or near the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border on July 27. LNR Interior Minister Vitaly Kiselev maintained that Russian forces began an assault on Avdiivka, however.
Supporting Effort #2—Southern Axis (Russian objective: Defend Kherson and Zaporizhia Oblasts against Ukrainian counterattacks)
Ukrainian forces struck the Russian-controlled Antonivskyi Bridge east of Kherson City overnight on July 26-27 for the third time in ten days. Ukrainian forces launched eight projectiles at the Antonivskyi vehicle bridge and two projectiles at the Antonivskyi railway bridge, 6 km east up the Dnipro River from the vehicle bridge. Russian-backed Kherson Oblast Administration Deputy Kirill Stremousov announced that the vehicle bridge is closed to all traffic and that the rail bridge also sustained damage. Images and footage of the strike aftermath show damage across the entire width of the vehicle bridge, likely rendering the bridge inoperable. The Russian Defense Ministry claimed that Russian air defense shot down ten Ukrainian Vilkha and HIMARS projectiles over Antonivka and Brilivka, likely referring to the bridge strikes, but footage of the strikes shows Russian air defense systems only activating after the Ukrainian strikes landed.
Russian forces attempted a limited ground assault on the Southern Axis on July 27. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces attempted an assault in the Bilohirka, Kherson Oblast, area, southwest of Davydiv Brid, but withdrew. Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command reported on July 26 that Ukrainian forces destroyed a Russian stronghold in Andriivka, 15 km southwest of Davydiv Brid, and fully retook the settlement. Russian forces reportedly struck Nikopol, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, with up to 40 Grad multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) projectiles from positions in Enerhodar, Zaporizhia Oblast, overnight on July 26-27. Russian forces also struck industrial infrastructure, repair enterprises, and residential areas in Mykolaiv City on July 27. Russian forces continued shelling along the entire line of contact.
Air Force officials said last week that a variety of American planes could be given to Ukrainian pilots in their fight against Russia, including the A-10 Warthog. But in a message to Military.com on Tuesday, Yuriy Sak -- an adviser to Ukraine's minister of defense -- made it clear: The country doesn't need A-10s, it needs the more modern F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jet.
The Russian army is working to replenish its battered, depleted artillery batteries. According to the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for the Study of War, satellite imagery indicates that the army in late July pulled from storage 60 old 2S7 203-millimeter tracked howitzers.
That’s a third of the 2S7s the army had in storage at the 9th Arsenal in Omsk, in Russia’s vast Siberia region.
The huge withdrawal of old howitzers is consistent with the Kremlin’s efforts, five months into Russia’s wider war on Ukraine, to make good steep losses in people and equipment.
Depending on the outside estimate you believe, the Russian armed forces have lost between 15,000 and 30,000 troops killed plus several times that number wounded. Confirmed vehicle losses include more than 4,800 tanks, fighting vehicles and artillery pieces.
The artillery losses—320 towed and self-propelled howitzers and heavy mortars plus rocket-launchers—are significant. The Russian army has lost in Ukraine more artillery than many Western armies possess in their entire arsenals.
Those losses include just two 2S7s that independent analysts can confirm. The Russian army rolled into Ukraine with more than 100 of the 47-ton howitzers. It’s unlikely the army is expanding its artillery force-structure—it’s struggling even to recruit enough infantry to replenish existing brigades.
The headquarters overseeing exports of Ukrainian grain has been unveiled in Istanbul today, and a senior Turkish official said the first ship is likely to depart Black Sea ports in a few days. The joint coordination centre (JCC) in Istanbul will oversee departures from three Ukrainian ports in which ships must circumvent mines, and will conduct inspections of incoming ships for weapons. All vessels pass through Turkish waters.
Ukraine’s navy confirmed on Wednesday that work had started at three Ukrainian Black Sea ports aimed at preparing for the resumption of grain exports. “In connection with the signing of the agreement on the unblocking of Ukrainian ports for the export of grain, work has been resumed in the ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk and Pivdeny,” the navy said on Facebook.
The Russian deputy foreign minister, Andrei Rudenko, has said a Turkish-brokered deal to unblock Ukrainian grain exports on the Black Sea could collapse if obstacles to Russia’s agricultural exports are not promptly removed.
Insurance uncertainty poses the biggest obstacle to grain ships leaving Ukraine’s Black Sea ports this week, exporters say. Questions remain over whether insurance companies will be willing to insure the vessels as they navigate the mined waters, while buyers are hesitant to make new orders given the risk of Russian attacks.
2/ Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) have been conducting an extensive suppression of enemy air defense (SEAD) campaign for the past 3-4 weeks here with little results. Air engagements between VKS & Ukrainian fights in the Odesa region has led to minor losses on both sides.
Jomini of the West
3/ It is likely the Russian MoD intends to severely weaken Ukrainian Air Defenses in the south to allow for VKS air & missile strikes to have greater latitude in interdicting the flow of military supplies from west Ukraine into the east.
Jomini of the West
4/ VKS & Ukrainian Air Force sorties remained focused on the Sloyansk-Siversk-Bakhmut Line of Operation with the Ukrainians still able to run intercept missions beyond the Russian forward line of troops.