Update for day 213 of the Russian invasion
In response to the protracted Belarusian military drills along the border, Ukraine has also deployed several units for exercises. There is currently no assessed threat from Belarusian forces.
Some 130 RU PMC from the "Liga" group have reportedly been deployed to Minsk with weaponry and ammo. The Belarusian PMC "HardService," which is closely tied to Lukashenko and the Russian PMC, was reported to have collected some 300 Ukrainian army uniforms as of Thursday, and there are concerns about RU false flag or sabotage operations to draw Belarus into the war. The areas of potential interest are Pinsk, Ivanova, and Kobryn along the southern M10 highway in Belarus closest to the UA border.
Kyiv/ West Ukraine (1):
Zelensky outlined the 3 promises for any RU troops that surrender as part of a plea for RU soldiers to avoid conscription and not commit to an illegal war:
- You will be treated in a civilized manner, following all conventions;
- No one will know the circumstances of your surrender, and no one in Russia will know that your surrender was voluntary;
- If you are afraid to return to Russia and do not want an exchange, we will find a way to ensure this as well."
Zelensky reiterated that the newly mobilized RU forces are meat for the grinder. The UA government also asked the world to respond to RU mobilization by finally providing ATACMS, doubling the supply of HIMARS systems and missiles for them, providing modern armored vehicles and tanks, and creating more training centers for UA soldiers.
The SBU launched a chatbot to identify collaborators in occupied territories participating in the sham referendums.
The UA government has also launched a chatbot for evacuation and humanitarian assistance 24/7 for those who have been forcibly deported into Russia or RU-controlled territories.
Ukraine is requesting an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council in response to the sham referendums being conducted by Russia in the occupied territories.
Ukraine created a specific organization, the Justice Initiative Fund, to collect information about specific RU war criminals, whether present in Ukraine or outside the country.
Ukraine mocked the Iranian claims of being an uninvolved 3rd party in the war following their supply of drones to Russia.
Harassing strikes continued over the day, with no other major changes in this region.
Kharkiv City (3):
RU continues to shell the border regions N of Kharkiv city, although in a diminished way compared to several weeks ago.
The UA offensive has continued to consolidate control over Kharkiv oblast W of the Oskil river, all the way to the RU border in essentially all directions.
Starting in the N and working down:
UA forces consolidated control over the E bank of the Oskil near Dvorichna, near Horobivka, and are apparently pushing further up along the E side of the river itself.
UA forces broke out from E Kupyansk today towards the south along the river, seizing control over the outlying suburb of Kucherivka and the former RU strongpoint of Podoly, while continuing to maneuver south along the E bank of the river. UA artillery ranged to the S and E to support offensives and suppress an unsuccessful RU counter-offensive from the East.
In general, it appears that UA is launching offensives from the areas under its control on the E side of the Oskil, with the ultimate goal of securing dominance over the riverbank and allowing for offensive operations to resume in force further E into Luhansk. The Russian regional forces are reportedly at great unease at this prospect.
UA forces are reported to have bypassed RU defenses to the N of Ridokub and managed to break through RU lines in the area with quick mechanized forces, similar to what was seen in the drive on Kupyansk. UA forces reportedly pushed several km to the NE from previously known positions.
UA troops reportedly moved into Rikodub, Karpivka, and Nove. RU counter-attacks stopped the UA consolidation of control over Nove and Karpivka. Still, the northernmost axis of attack into Ridkodub could entrench itself and repel the RU assault.
RU forces in this area are apparently deficient in terms of infantry and have been thus far relying on artillery barrages to suppress UA troops. Should UA find a method to render that inconsequential, it is reported that RU troops are not committing to a defense in depth here. The terrain is broadly rolling farmland, and RU is not believed to have committed to a major defensive posture except toward the Zharabets river further E.
UA artillery continues to pound towards the Zharabets river, indicating suppression of RU forces and supply lines
RU TG channels announced that UA forces were also maneuvering towards the Borova-Svatove highway and expressed fears that UA forces should reach Svatove (a major logistics and command hub for RU forces in the region) that they would threaten all the RU troops in Lyman.
In Lyman, operations and assaults continue. RU continues to commit to an urban defense in the face of potential UA encirclement or further menacing of their supply lines.
A RU SU-30m was shot down via a MANPADS while attacking UA's advancing troops in this area.
UA troops continue to press their control further E from Siversk, along the NE and E routes from Bilhorivka, and towards Verkhnokamyanka.
RU shelling continues to strike into UA positions in Bilhorivka and Spirne to the NE and SE of Siversk in an attempt to limit any further UA movement eastwards.
RU forces are also conducting door-to-door kidnappings and conscription among those remaining in Severodonetsk.
Although shelling continues, RU forces generally haven't taken much ground action in Solar over the past 72 hours.
RU assaults have managed to menace into SE Bakhmut region, as well as airstrikes and artillery strikes dedicated to severing what bridges remain across the central river. The bridges destroyed most recently were used predominantly for medical evacuation, as there is an alternate network for supplies and movement. The damage to these bridges has considerably lengthened the time for medevac, and many good men's luck ran out after having been involved in fighting from Hostomel to Severodonetsk. Another pair managed to hang on long enough for medevac.
UA continues to maintain a hold on the outskirts of the city, and the major UA hardpoints in the eastern industrial area are still believed to be standing.
With heavy shelling on both sides, RU has maintained a steady offensive attempt into E Bakhmut and SE Bahkmut.
RU shelling has continued to the outskirts of Avdiivka and Pisky, and UA forces are believed to have generally withdrawn from Pisky proper towards the fortified river town of Vodyane
The 3-star Russian general responsible for the Siege of Mariupol, Col. General Mikhail Mizintsev, has been appointed as Russia's Deputy Minister of Defense. For the last 8 years, he had been the head of the RU "National Defense Center," which is intended to be broadly the command hub for the RU and CSTO nations’ militaries. He has been punished for his behavior in Mariupol, terming him the "Butcher of Mariupol.”
While he has several decades of senior command experience and focuses on logistical problem solving, with casual disregard for civilian causalities or norms of war, it remains to be seen if he can effectively coordinate the highly chaotic RU operations in Ukraine.
For reference, 3-star General Dvornikov (also with a "butcher" epithet from Syria), who had been seen as a similar "golden child" in the RU military command, turned to alcoholism soon after being put in command of the whole UA invasion in April, before being relieved of command after the Battle of Severodonetsk ended in late June.
Almost every single UA POW from Mariupol has extreme malnutrition and other medical issues. An initiative to send them abroad for further treatment is ongoing.
Zaporizhia/Southern Axis (8):
UA forces continue to shell along the front lines with RU forces, with no reported major offensives in this area. UA forces continue to amass at several points, and RU is threatened by potential assaults towards Melitopol, Mariupol, or points closer to Donetsk city.
RU claims a UA SOF team managed to break through their lines near Polohy and enter into the rear areas of RU control. This team has had a bounty put out on them but apparently are still at large.
There are reports of heavy UA shelling of RU positions along the southern front, with RU concerns that these are preparatory fires for further assault. These have been mostly concentrated in the W near Tokmak.
RU forces launched at least 10 missiles at Zaporizhia city overnight, causing severe damage to infrastructure.
A large explosion happened in Melitopol near electrical substations, reportedly an IED planted by partisans.
RU has continued to pressure Mykolaiv with rocket artillery and suicide drones, and one Shahid-136 was shot down. RU has continued to launch some 60 UAV sorties in the region to conduct recon and adjust fire.
The streets are broadly empty in Kherson city as the referendum continues under duress.
There were 4 RU airstrikes and 5 Ukrainian airstrikes, which along with over 260 artillery strikes, were responsible for eliminating:
- 50 soldiers
- 19 APCs
- 5 artillery guns
- 2 air defense systems
- 3 Ammo depots
- 3 command posts
UA continues to advance towards Kherson from the NW direction, fighting is fierce across the bridgehead on the Inhulets, and the NE front remains apparently stagnant over the past 24 hours.
RU forces in Snihurivka along the W bank of the Inhulets continue to be struck by UA artillery, as do their supply lines and possibly small bridges across the Inhulets river. UA citizens in the town staged a protest today regarding the illegal referendum in the town.
Fighting continues SW of Davidy Brid near Sukhyi Stavok, where UA forces already crossing the Inhulets river attempt to make gains towards the western of 2 major supply highways for RU forces NE of Kherson. This is the highest concentration of RU air power and artillery strikes. UA strikes here damaged one of the major RU strong points in Davidy Brid proper.
UA forces in the NE continue to engage in artillery strikes against RU positions near and far, and the front lines have remained relatively stagnant over the past 48 hours.
UA strikes targeted the Rosgvardia base in downtown Kherson, as well as exerting control over the Nova Kahkovka dam and the surrounding region, which appears to be the hail-mary play by Russia to construct a more reliable bridge crossing on the Dnipro. UA also struck RU positions near the Antonovsky bridge.
The head of the RU Rosgvardia troops in Kherson, originally head of the Rosgvardia detachment from Rostov in Russia, has been identified as the commander responsible for the torture and suppression of citizens in Kherson.
The sham referendum continues in Kherson at gunpoint, scheduled to last until the 27th. Few people attend the referendums, so armed soldiers accompany "poll workers" to people's houses and force them to vote twice for all family members registered there. Additionally, there are threats to people's employment and pay, as well as threats to deport them further into RU-controlled territory if they don't participate.
Apparently, one major method of resistance has been greasing as many doors handle as possible with petroleum jelly so that RU soldiers cannot easily enter in a timely fashion.
In Kherson, members of the resistance movement put up posters with the exact coordinates of the buildings where the occupiers plan to hold the referendum and an explosion emoji.
The RU occupation government stated that anyone coscripted in the region is forbidden to leave the region without the military commandant's explicit permission. This is believed to be preparation for a mass "volunteer battalion" conscription as soon as the sham referendum is complete. The FSB currently has lists for some 8,000 conscripts in Kherson and 4000 in the Zaporizhia region. Those with RU passports are being sent summons already for mobilization
Putin reportedly refused to allow for the withdrawal of RU soldiers from N of the Dnipro in Kherson to prevent "another humiliating admission of failure," This has severely damaged the morale among commanders and troops there. This was reported by the NYT.
Reportedly in the black sea, there are 3 combat ships and 1 submarine with about 28 missiles available for use, deployed off the coast of Crimea. Storms continue in the region.
Conscription of Crimean Tatars is ongoing in Crimea, with some 1000 individuals already seized. The goal is apparently to both staff RU units and also to remove the undesired ethnic group.
The losses were most pronounced in the Kherson and Lyman regions.
Russia approved amendments to the criminal code, with a penalty of 10 years for voluntary surrender and 15 years for desertion from mobilization or service. There was also a 15-year penalty for looting, likely dissuading RU soldiers.
Police checkpoints have been set up in the Krasnodar region of Russia due to low motivation among citizens to participate in the mobilization and door-to-door summons for service. The RU forces are believed to be breaking their mobilization efforts up into 3 categories:
- 240 soldiers (Total 56,300)
- 11x APC
- 26x tanks
- 29x Artillery (9x MLRS)
- 51x vehicles
- 4x Aircraft
- 1x Helicopter
- 5x UAV
The 1st wave will receive less than 2 weeks of training and be immediately deployed to shore up defensive positions in Ukraine. They are not expected to do much more than hold ground. The 2nd wave will receive training for up to a month and then be sent in. The 3rd wave will receive at least one month of training before being sent in as ideally more capable soldiers.
Georgia has instituted restrictions at the Russian border due to massive amounts of Russian citizens trying to depart into Georgia. The queues last for several miles.
Estonia joined Ukraine's lawsuit regarding the Russian genocide in the International Court of Justice.
Protests continue in Russia regarding the proposed mobilization laws, and reported kidnappings and assaults of female protestors by RU police forces have been caught on camera and audio. More than 700 people were arrested today across Russia.
There are unconfirmed reports of a RU anti-air system engaging targets over St. Petersburg.