August 14, 2023

Institute for the Study of War: Ukrainian forces advance in Donetsk-Zaporizhia border area

Institute for the Study of War

Ukrainian forces conducted counteroffensive operations on at least two sectors of the front on August 14 and reportedly advanced in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area. Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar reported that Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations in the Melitopol (western Zaporizhia Oblast) and Berdyansk (western Donetsk Oblast and eastern Zaporizhia Oblast) directions. Malyar added that Ukrainian forces achieved some unspecified successes south and southeast of Staromayorske (9km southeast of Velyka Novosilka) in the Urozhaine (9km south of Velyka Novosilka) direction. Malyar noted that Ukrainian forces are continuing to advance in Urozhaine, and some Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces control the northern part of the settlement. Alexander Khodakovsky, commander of the “Vostok” battalion defending near Urozhaine, complained that Russian forces are not deploying additional reserves and artillery battalions to the area. Khodakovsky claimed that the “Vostok” battalion is fighting for Urozhaine with all available forces but that the forces operating in the area are exhausted and suffering losses. ISW previously assessed that Russian forces lack available operational reserves that would allow them to carry out rotations or bring in additional reinforcements, and that Russian defensive lines may be brittle. Some Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations near Robotyne (13km south of Orikhiv) in western Zaporizhia Oblast and advanced in southern Klishchiivka (7km southwest of Bakhmut). Malyar added that Ukrainian forces advanced by three square kilometers in the Bakhmut direction in the past week and liberated 40 square kilometers total since Ukrainian forces began their offensive operations in this direction.

Crimean occupation authorities are attempting to impose new federal penalties on individuals who publish content revealing the locations and operations of Russian military assets in occupied Crimea, likely in response to Ukraine’s ongoing interdiction campaign. Crimean occupation head Sergey Aksyonov announced on August 14 that Crimean occupation officials will propose amendments at a federal level to increase the liability for the spread of photos and videos showing the location and operation of Russian air defense systems, other systems, and military and strategic assets. The amendments would also penalize individuals who publish images of the aftermath of Ukrainian strikes. Aksyonov’s initiative likely intends to improve Russian operational security and limit awareness of Ukrainian strikes on Russian rear areas in the Russian information space, and occupation officials have previously discussed similar restrictions following the attack on the Kerch Strait Bridge on July 17. A Kremlin-affiliated milblogger and prominent Russian propagandist Vladimir Solovyov both expressed concern that Russian authorities could wrongfully use such amendments to censor Russian journalists and milbloggers who report on Ukrainian strikes. Another Kremlin-affiliated milblogger claimed that Russian officials are unlikely to successfully prevent the publication of strike footage.

Russian forces conducted a series of missile and drone strikes targeting Odesa Oblast on the night of August 13 to 14. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian air defenses destroyed all eight Russian-launched Kalibr cruise missiles and 15 Shahed-131/136 drones. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that falling missile and drone debris caused fires in several locations in Odesa City.

Key Takeaways: 

  • Ukrainian forces conducted counteroffensive operations on at least two sectors of the front on August 14 and reportedly advanced in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area.
  • Crimean occupation authorities are attempting to impose new federal penalties on individuals who publish content revealing the locations and operations of Russian military assets in occupied Crimea, likely in response to Ukraine’s ongoing interdiction campaign.
  • Russian forces conducted a series of missile and drone strikes targeting Odesa Oblast on the night of August 13 to 14.
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) likely remains unable to fully take control of some Russian private military companies which are affiliated with or receive sponsorship from Russian officials and businessmen.
  • US officials announced a new $200 million security assistance package for Ukraine on August 14.
  • Ukrainian forces conducted offensive operations near Kupyansk, along the Svatove-Kreminna line, near Bakhmut, in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area, and in western Zaporizhia Oblast and advanced near Bakhmut.
  • Russian forces conducted offensive operations near Kupyansk, along the Svatove-Kreminna line, near Bakhmut, along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line, in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area, and in western Zaporizhia Oblast and advanced near Kupyansk.
  • The Russian National Guard (Rosgvardia) continues to form new regiments and appoint prominent Russian ultranationalists to command its units, possibly in an effort to incentivize recruitment.
  • Russian authorities are removing local officials in occupied territories of Ukraine likely in order to fill openings with preferred candidates in the upcoming regional elections.
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