November 10, 2023

Institute for the Study of War:  Ukrainian drones sink two small Russian landing ships

Institute for the Study of War

Ukraine’s Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) stated that Ukrainian surface attack drones sank two Russian Black Sea Fleet (BSF) small landing ships in occupied Crimea on November 10. The GUR published satellite imagery and reported that the Ukrainian surface attack drone strike on Uzka Bay near Chornomorsk, occupied Crimea sunk one Project 1176 Akula-class small landing ship and one Project 11770 Serna-class small landing ship. The GUR reported that the Serna-class ship was carrying a crew and was loaded with armored vehicles, including BTR-82 armored personnel carriers, and that Russian forces previously used Serna-class ships to provide cover for Russian BSF ships during raids when Russian forces lacked naval air-defense equipment. A prominent Kremlin-affiliated milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted the strike on Uzka Bay with four unmanned boats and that it was one of three series of Ukrainian strikes on occupied Crimea on November 10. The milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces also attempted to conduct a drone strike on an oil depot in Feodosia and a Neptune cruise missile strike on BSF and Federal Security Service (FSB) bases in Chornomorsk. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that Russian air defenses shot down a Neptune missile over the Black Sea off the coast of Crimea and intercepted two drones over Crimea. ISW continues to assess that Ukrainian forces have been conducting an interdiction campaign against Russian military infrastructure in occupied Crimea, primarily BSF assets, since June 2023 to degrade the Russian military’s ability to use Crimea as a staging and rear area for Russian operations in southern Ukraine.

Russian milbloggers continue to overreact to the Russian failure to push Ukrainian forces from positions in east (left) bank Kherson Oblast. A prominent Russian milblogger reiterated common complaints about inadequate Russian counterbattery fire, electronic warfare, air defense, and assault operations along the Dnipro River in Kherson Oblast. The milblogger especially complained about improper usage of the Russian 10th Spetsnaz Brigade (Main Military Intelligence Directorate [GRU]) to conduct frontal assaults like standard infantry against Ukrainian positions on the east bank even though these frontal assaults are ineffective in this area. The milblogger expressed concerns about possible future Ukrainian operations in the Kherson direction, but other milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces are currently unable to achieve a breakthrough in this direction.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ukraine’s Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) stated that Ukrainian surface attack drones sank two Russian Black Sea Fleet (BSF) small landing ships in occupied Crimea on November 10.
  • Russian milbloggers continue to overreact to the Russian failure to push Ukrainian forces from positions in east (left) bank Kherson Oblast.
  • Russian forces are launching significantly smaller and less frequent drone strikes against Ukraine in the past month than in previous months ahead of an anticipated large-scale winter strike campaign.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin again visited the Southern Military District (SMD) headquarters in Rostov-on-Don on November 10, possibly in an effort to portray himself as an involved wartime leader ahead of the upcoming presidential elections in March 2024.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin will reportedly hold his annual live “Direct Line” forum and annual press conference in tandem on December 14, and the event will likely serve to promote his presidential campaign.
  • Ukrainian Ombudsman Dmitry Lubinets announced on November 10 that Bohdan Yermokhin, a 17-year-old Ukrainian whom Russian authorities forcibly deported from occupied Mariupol to Russia and attempted to conscript, will return to Ukraine.
  • The United Kingdom-led Operation Interflex has achieved its goal of training 30,000 Ukrainian soldiers between June 2022 and December 2023.
  • Russian forces conducted offensive operations on November 10 along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line, near Bakhmut, near Avdiivka, west and southwest of Donetsk City, in western Donetsk Oblast, in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area, and in western Zaporizhia Oblast and advanced in some areas.
  • Russian forces continue to struggle with low morale and poor discipline.
  • Ukrainian Telegram channel Mariupol Resistance and Ukrainian Mariupol City Advisor Petro Andryushchenko reported on November 10 that Ukrainian partisans detonated a police car in occupied Mariupol, Donetsk Oblast.
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