October 26, 2023

Institute for the Study of War:

Institute for the Study of War

Ukrainian forces marginally advanced in western Zaporizhia Oblast and continued offensive operations near Bakhmut on October 25. Geolocated footage published on October 24 indicates that Ukrainian forces made further marginal advances west of Robotyne. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces also achieved unspecified partial success west of Verbove (9km west of Robotyne). Ukrainian Ground Forces Spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Volodymyr Fityo stated on October 24 that Ukrainian forces are conducting offensive operations near Klishchiivka (7km southwest of Bakhmut) and Andriivka (10km southwest of Bakhmut).

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky noted that Ukrainian forces are preparing for a fall-winter Russian strike campaign against Ukraine after another series of Russian drone strikes on the night of October 24 to 25. Ukrainian military sources reported that Ukrainian air defenses destroyed a total of 11 Russian Shahed-131/136 drones over Khmelnytskyi and Mykolaiv oblasts. Zelensky stated that Ukraine is preparing to defend against a Russian fall-winter strike campaign against Ukrainian energy infrastructure and suggested that Ukraine is planning for its own strikes on Russian military assets in turn. Zelensky stated that the Russian military is aware of Ukraine’s intentions to strike Russian military infrastructure in Crimea and Russia and is moving the Black Sea Fleet (BSF) away from Crimea and Russian aircraft further from the Russia-Ukraine border, likely in response to continued Ukrainian strikes against Russian naval and aviation assets.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited an Eastern Grouping of Forces command post in the south Donetsk direction (Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area) on October 25. Shoigu awarded medals to the commanders of the 155th Naval Infantry Brigade (Pacific Fleet) and 810th Naval Infantry Brigade (Black Sea Fleet) and claimed that these units successfully repelled Ukrainian offensive operations. ISW has observed recent claims that elements of the 810th Naval Infantry Brigade are operating in the Kherson direction, however.

Key Takeaways: Russian forces advance near Avdiivka with continued high casualties

  • Ukrainian forces marginally advanced in western Zaporizhia Oblast and continued offensive operations near Bakhmut on October 25.
  • Russian forces conducted offensive operations near Avdiivka on October 25 and made a confirmed advance.
  • Russian sources claimed on October 25 that Ukrainian forces resumed larger-than-usual ground operations on the east (left) bank of Kherson Oblast and maintain positions in several areas on the east bank. Only a handful of Russian sources are currently claiming that Ukrainian forces have resumed larger-than-usual ground operations on the east bank, however.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky noted that Ukrainian forces are preparing for a fall-winter Russian strike campaign against Ukraine after another series of Russian drone strikes on the night of October 24 to 25.
  • Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited an Eastern Grouping of Forces command post in the south Donetsk direction (Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area) on October 25.
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) confirmed that Lieutenant General Andrei Kuzmenko is the Russian Eastern Grouping of Forces Commander on October 25, likely also confirming Kuzmenko’s position as Eastern Military District (EMD) commander.
  • The Kremlin’s support for ultranationalist Russian Orthodox religion and ideology appears to be complicating Chechen Republic Head Ramzan Kadyrov’s ability to balance appealing to his Chechen Muslim constituencies with keeping the Kremlin’s favor.
  • Russian forces conducted offensive operations along the Kupyansk-Svatove line, near Bakhmut, southwest of Donetsk City, in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area, and in western Zaporizhia but did not make confirmed advances.
  • Russian National Security Council Deputy Chairperson Dmitry Medvedev claimed that nearly 385,000 people have entered service with the Russian armed forces between January 1 and October 25, 2023.
  • Russian occupation authorities continue to use medical infrastructure to justify the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia and to further consolidate control of occupied areas of Ukraine.
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