The task he chose instead is extremely dangerous. His team of four get shelled by the Russians every single time they go out, though no-one has been killed. "I know to some extent it's a matter of chance," Serhii shrugs, and breaks into a soft smile. "But at least if it happens to me, then I will know it was for a cause."
Supporting Effort #2—Southern Axis (Russian objective: Defend Kherson and Zaporizhia Oblasts against Ukrainian counterattacks)
Russian forces launched unsuccessful assaults in northern Kherson Oblast on August 1 and August 2, likely in an effort to prevent Ukrainian forces from advancing into Russian occupied positions. Ukrainian military officials reported that Russian forces launched an unsuccessful attack on Trydolyubivka (just south of the Kherson-Dnipropetrovsk Oblast border) and conducted a failed reconnaissance-in-force operation in Bilohirka, situated on the western bank of the Inhulets River. Russian forces continued to launch airstrikes and shell Ukrainian positions near the Ukrainian bridgehead over the Inhulets River and on the Kherson-Dnipropetrovsk Oblast border. Kherson Oblast Administration Head Dmytro Burtiy reported that Ukrainian forces liberated seven more unnamed settlements in Kherson Oblast on August 2.
Russian forces continued to accumulate and transfer forces to southern Ukraine from other axes. The Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Representative Vadym Skibitsky reported that a battalion tactical group (BTG) of Russian airborne troops arrived in Crimea and will deploy to the frontlines in the near future. Skibitsky had previously reported that Russian forces started redeploying airborne troops from Donetsk Oblast to occupied Kherson Oblast territories, and the BTG will likely support Russian efforts to suppress Ukrainian counteroffensives in the region. Skibitsky added that Russian forces are expanding air defense systems in Crimea and are regrouping forces in the Zaporizhia and Kherson Oblast directions, which likely indicates that Russian forces are intending to defend their positions from Ukrainian counteroffensives throughout the Southern Axis. The Ukrainian Southern Operational Command noted that there have not been any changes to the Russian force composition in Kherson Oblast as of August 2, however. Ukrainian Advisor to the Mayor of Mariupol Petro Andryushenko also published footage of a convoy of Russian engineering equipment and personnel carriers moving through Mariupol in the Zaporizhia Oblast direction.
Russian forces continued to fire at Mykolaiv and Dnipropetrovsk Oblasts with MLRS and air defense systems. Ukrainian officials reported that Russian forces fired S-300 air defense missiles and Uragan MLRS systems at Mykolaiv City and launched 16 rockets from Smerch MLRS at the Kryvorizka Power Station. Russian forces also shelled other settlements in Mykolaiv and Dnipropetrovsk Oblasts with MLRS and tube artillery. Russian forces did not fire on Nikopol on August 2, however they are likely to resume attacks on the settlement. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken also noted that Russian forces are continuing to use the occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) just south of Nikopol, as a “human shield” for their military base, as Ukrainian forces will not fire at the NPP in self-defense.
Ukrainian forces continued to target Russian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) and positions in Kherson Oblast, setting conditions for a counteroffensive in the region. Geolocated footage showed that Ukrainian forces struck Russian ammunition depots in Arkhanhel’s’ke and Starosillya, both situated on the T2207 GLOC in northwestern Kherson Oblast and the eastern Inhulets River bank. Geolocated footage showed Ukrainian forces hitting Russian mortar positions in Soldatske (approximately 30km northwest of Kherson City) with a likely US-provided Phoenix Ghost loitering munition. The Ukrainian Southern Operational Command reported that Ukrainian aviation also hit three Russian strongholds in Oleksandrivka and Maksymivka, indicating that Ukrainian aviation continues to operate northwest and north of Kherson City. Social media footage also showed a series of explosions in Chornobaivka, a settlement just northwest of Kherson City that Ukrainian forces have struck on numerous previous occasions.
Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts (Russian objective: Expand combat power without conducting general mobilization)
Russian federal subjects (regions) are likely changing conditions for volunteer battalion recruits to receive one-time enlistment payments. The Republic of Bashkortostan specified that recruits will receive their one-time enlistment payment of 200,000 rubles (approximately $3,300) but the funds will be frozen until 90 days after their enlistment. The Republic of Bashkortostan also noted that recruits will receive their daily payments of 2,000 rubles (approximately $32) for service after their training at the end of each month. ISW has previously reported that 40 servicemen from the Chuvash ”Atal” volunteer battalion complained that they have not received their promised enlistment bonuses and post-training period payments. Federal subjects are likely beginning to adjust their payment schedules. New battalions such as Saratov Oblast’s two unnamed units advertised that the recruits will receive enlistment bonuses of 150,000 rubles (approximately $2,400) after three months of service. The federal subjects are likely trying to prevent Russian recruits from obtaining the enlistment payments and deserting prior to deploying to Ukraine. The federal subjects may also be unable to generate funds to immediately pay recruits, however.
All views about how the war in Ukraine is going must be viewed through the strategic and operational goals of both sides in this phase of the war. 2/14
Ukraine won the war for Ukraine in April at the battle of Kyiv, forcing Russia to change their strategic objective to “taking full control of Donbas region.” But as Russia has said, if they take the Donbas/Southern Ukraine, they will refocus on taking all of Ukraine/Kyiv. 3/14
Russian strategic goals today are the seizure/control/retain the Donbas and key southern areas. Ukraine’s objective is to re-claim all Ukrainian land and force the Russian military to withdraw from Ukraine. 4/14
Ukrainian strategy can be summarized by “avoiding the enemy’s strengths.” Defend where needed & allow Russians to die against Ukrainian forces or attack through long range precision strikes (artillery/HIMARS) that allow Ukraine to avoid costly attritional close battles. 5/14
Make no mistake. Ukraine cannot achieve its goals through fires alone. If you want to retake, retain, control land, cities, Ukrainian populations – you have to close with and seize, secure, and defend those urban areas. 6/14
Fires are key for Ukraine, a smaller and weaker (quantity of needed equipment – artillery, tanks, IFVs) force to destroy critical requirements to Russian strengths & strategy – i.e. their logistics (ammo, fuel, food) & C2 – thus causing them to culminate before close fights. 7/
Kherson is important because if seized by Ukraine, it would be the first successful major offensive operation in achieving Ukraine’s goals of reclaiming all Ukraine land and removing the only Russian force west of the Dnipro. 8/14
IMO Ukraine cannot just siege Kherson. That is not the approach I see unfolding. Ukraine cares about the civilians trapped in the city. They also do not have the time to just siege the city. 9/14
The more time that passes, Russia can shift forces from other areas to Southern Ukraine like we have seen recently. 10/14
Ukraine seeks to avoid a massive fight in the Kherson urban area. They do not want to destroy Kherson city to save it. They do not want to kill Ukrainian civilians or the city’s physical terrain and infrastructure. 11/14
HIMARS and other fires isolate Russian forces West of the Dnipro. This has included taking out key bridges, road intersections, ammunition supplies, command & control sites. Prevent/constrain the Russian forces from being resupplied, reinforced, or having a withdrawal option. 12/
I do see Ukraine retaking Kherson, where Russia is weak at the moment. This will be a major win in claiming the initiative, international information campaign & maintaining support for Ukraine. But Russia maintains strength in the Donbas. Major fights still to come. 13/14
Bottom line. Yes, Russia is in running out of steam and capability, but it is still a major threat and Ukraine will not be able to achieve their goals without massive amounts of western weapons and support, more than the amounts flowing or promised to arrive today. 14/14
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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 conducted multiple unsuccessful offensive operations along the Kharkiv City Axis on August 2. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces withdrew after attempting to advance from Ternova to Bayrak, approximately 48km northeast of Kharkiv City, and Dementiivka, approximately 67km north of Kharkiv City. Russian forces launched an airstrike on Verkhnii Saltiv and continued conducting tank, tube, and rocket artillery strikes on Kharkiv City and settlements to the north, northeast, and southeast.