August 11, 2023

Institute for the Study of War: Ukraine forces make tactical advance in Zaporizhia

Institute for the Study of War

Ukrainian forces made tactically significant advances in western Zaporizhia Oblast amid continued counteroffensive operations on at least three sectors of the front on August 11. Geolocated footage published on August 11 confirms that Ukrainian forces reached the northern outskirts of Robotyne (10km south of Orikhiv) in western Zaporizhia Oblast, though the permanence and extent of these positions are currently unclear. Ukrainian forces have conducted regular ground attacks towards Robotyne for weeks as part of their operations aimed at degrading Russian defenses. The Ukrainian forces’ ability to advance to the outskirts of Robotyne — which Russian forces have dedicated significant effort, time, and resources to defend — remains significant even if Ukrainian gains are limited at this time. Geolocated footage published on August 11 shows that Ukrainian forces advanced into Urozhaine (9km south of Velyka Novosilka) along the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area. Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces pushed Russian forces back into the settlement on August 10 and 11. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations in the Bakhmut, Berdyansk (Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area), and Melitopol (western Zaporizhia Oblast) directions.Russian forces conducted another series of missile strikes in Ukraine on August 11 and targeted a Ukrainian airfield for the second time in the last week. Ukrainian military sources reported that Russian forces launched four Kinzhal missiles and that Ukrainian air defenses intercepted one missile over Kyiv Oblast. The Ukrainian Air Force claimed that the other Kinzhal missiles struck near the Kolomyia airfield in Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast. Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces targeted the Starokostyantyniv airfield in Khmelnytskyi Oblast on August 6 because Ukrainian forces store foreign-supplied missiles including Storm Shadow cruise missiles at warehouses on the base. Russia’s targeting of the Starokostyantyniv and Kolomyia airfields in the past week suggests that Russian forces are increasingly concerned about Ukraine’s interdiction campaign.Russian sources claimed that the Wagner Group appears to be maintaining a presence at its facilities in Belarus, though the status of its rumored withdrawal to Russian remains unclear. A Russian milblogger posted satellite imagery captured on August 3 claiming to show that an additional 930 Wagner vehicles and 18 additional low-bed semi-trailers were present at the Wagner camp in Tsel, Asipovichy, Belarus compared to imagery from July 17. The milblogger claimed that the imagery from August 3 shows that 40 shipping containers arrived and that unspecified construction is occurring at the camp. The milblogger also claimed that the number of tents at the Wagner camp has not changed and that the number of cars present at the camp indicates that it is likely fully staffed. Russian rumors about Wagner’s withdrawal from Belarus surfaced on August 8, so this additional satellite footage from August 3 does not completely refute those claims. The footage does suggest that Wagner intended to expand its presence in Belarus and believed that elements of the deal ensuring its operations in the country were still in place as of August 3.Key Takeaways: Ukrainian forces made tactically significant advances in western Zaporizhia Oblast and reached the outskirts of Robotyne amid continued counteroffensive operations on at least three sectors of the front on August 11.Ukrainian counteroffensive operations appear to be forcing the Russian military to laterally redeploy Russian forces defending in western Zaporizhia Oblast, indicating that the Ukrainian effort there may be significantly degrading Russian defenses.Russia’s necessary practice of conducting lateral redeployments to key sectors of the front will likely further weaken Russian defensive lines in aggregate, as both Russian and Ukrainian operations are fixing Russian units to certain sectors of the front.The further degradation of defending Russian forces creates opportunities for any Ukrainian breakthrough to be potentially decisive.Russian forces appear to be intensifying offensive operations northeast of Kupyansk, likely to draw Ukrainian forces away from more operationally significant areas of the front.Russian forces conducted another series of missile strikes in Ukraine on August 11 and targeted a Ukrainian airfield for the second time in the last week.Russian sources claimed that the Wagner Group appears to be maintaining a presence at its facilities in Belarus, though the status of its rumored withdrawal to Russian remains unclear.The Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) is struggling with significant personnel shortages, especially in occupied territories in Ukraine, amid a broader power shift between other Russian internal security organs.The Kremlin and Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) are likely attempting to deflect blame for Ukrainian shelling in Russian border areas onto mid-level officers.Russian forces conducted offensive operations along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line, near Bakhmut, on the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line, and in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast area on August 11 and advanced in some areas.Ukrainian forces conducted offensive operations on at least three sectors of the front on August 11 and advanced in the western Donetsk-eastern Zaporizhia Oblast border area and in western Zaporizhia Oblast.The Russian defense industrial base (DIB) has begun producing “Geran-2” drones, a modified version of the Iranian-produced Shahed-131/136 drone that will likely enable Russia‘s ability to maintain or potentially increase the frequency of Russia’s drone strikes on Ukraine.Russian occupation authorities are taking steps to make the upcoming regional elections in the Russian occupied territories appear to be fair and competitive.
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