July 24, 2023

Institute for the Study of War: Russia attempts to suppress reports of Ukraine drone strikes in Moscow

Institute for the Study of War

Likely Ukrainian forces conducted a drone strike near the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) building in Moscow on July 24. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) claimed that Russian electronic warfare (EW) suppressed two Ukrainian UAVs that detonated, damaging two non-residential buildings. One drone detonated on Komsomolsky Prospekt within 500 meters of the MoD building and within 200 meters of a reported secret Russian General Staff Main Directorate (GRU) building. Russian sources reported that the second drone hit a business center on Likhachev Prospekt. CNN reported that an unspecified Ukrainian intelligence official confirmed that Ukrainian forces conducted the attack. Ukrainian Digital Transformation Minister Mykhailo Fedorov stated that unspecified UAVs attacked the capital and warned that more UAV attacks against Russia will occur. Russian opposition source The Insider reported that Russian authorities banned Russian television channels from covering the drone strikes, citing sources in Russian state media channels. Russian milbloggers had a muted reaction to these strikes; some criticized the Russian air defenses for allowing the drones to penetrate that far into Moscow, while others argued that the informational victory of such attacks is minimal and short-lived.

Likely Ukrainian forces targeted Russian military assets in occupied Crimea, temporarily disrupting Russian logistics through Crimea on July 24. The Russian MFA accused Ukrainian forces of attacking occupied Crimea with 17 UAVs, and the MFA claimed that Russian EW suppressed 14 UAVs while air defenses shot down three UAVs. Crimean occupation head Sergey Aksyonov claimed that one UAV hit an ammunition depot in Dzhankoy Raion. A prominent Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces also launched three Storm Shadow missiles at an ammunition depot in Vilne (19km southwest of Dzhankoy) and a repair base in Novostepne (immediately south of Dzhankoy). Ukrainian Mariupol Mayoral Advisor Petro Andyushchenko reported that strikes injured three Russian personnel at the Vesele military airfield (10km southwest of Dzhankoy) and reported additional explosions near Krasnohvardiiske (20km southwest of Dzhankoy). Aksyonov temporarily suspended road traffic on the Dzhankoy-Simferopol highway as well as rail traffic through Dzhankoy Raion. Aksyonov also announced the evacuation of all civilians within a five-kilometer radius of the strike area in Dzhankoy Raion. Crimean occupation advisor Oleg Kryuchkov stated that occupation authorities will strictly monitor social media posts that could help Ukrainian forces identify targets in Crimea.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an article published on July 24 likely intended to mitigate damage to Russia’s position in Africa and his own reputation resulting from Russia’s withdrawal from the Ukraine-Russia grain deal, Russian attacks on Ukrainian grain and port facilities, and Putin’s inability to attend the upcoming BRICS summit due to the International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant issued for him. Putin outlined Russia’s goals for establishing partner relationships with Africa and called for the continuation of “traditionally close cooperation on the world stage.” Putin also emphasized Russia’s trade with African economic partners and the importance of “uninterrupted food supply” for the “maintenance of the political stability of African states,” accusing the collective West of exploiting the grain deal for its own benefit at the expense of Russia and countries such as Ethiopia, Sudan, and Somalia. Putin’s article follows Russia’s withdrawal from the grain deal and attacks that have destroyed tens of thousands of tons of Ukrainian grain and Ukrainian facilities essential to transporting the grain to areas of Africa that rely heavily on Ukrainian grain. Putin is also likely attempting to mitigate the opportunity cost and embarrassment of his inability to personally attend the BRICS Summit in South Africa due to the ICC arrest warrant.

Key Takeaways:

  • Likely Ukrainian forces conducted a drone strike near the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) building in Moscow on July 24.
  • Likely Ukrainian forces targeted Russian military assets in occupied Crimea, temporarily disrupting Russian logistics through Crimea on July 24.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an article published on July 24 likely intended to mitigate damage to Russia’s position in Africa and his own reputation resulting from Russia’s withdrawal from the Ukraine-Russia grain deal, Russian attacks on Ukrainian grain and port facilities, and Putin’s inability to attend the upcoming BRICS summit due to the International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant issued for him.
  • Russia conducted another drone strike on Ukrainian port infrastructure in Odesa Oblast overnight on July 23-24.
  • Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations along at least three sectors of the front on July 24 and have reportedly advanced in certain areas.
  • The Kremlin continues to codify domestic repression into Russian law, generating minimal opposition from select Russian lawmakers.
  • Russian forces conducted offensive operations along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line, in the Bakhmut area, and along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line and made marginal gains south of Kreminna.
  • Ukrainian forces conducted offensive operations along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line, and in the Bakhmut area and reportedly advanced in the Bakhmut area.
  • Russian forces conducted offensive operations in western Donetsk Oblast and did not make any confirmed or claimed gains.
  • Ukrainian forces conducted offensive operations in western Donetsk Oblast and in western Zaporizhia Oblast and reportedly advanced in the Orikhiv area.
  • Russian officials continue to highlight the claimed successes of the Russian defense industrial base (DIB).
  • Ukrainian officials continue to reveal the involvement of Belarusian entities in the forced deportation of Ukrainian children.
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