September 15, 2023

Institute for the Study of War: Ukrainian forces recapture village near Bahmut, ‘destroy’ Russian rifle brigade

Institute for the Study of War

Ukrainian forces liberated Andriivka in the Bakhmut area on September 14 and continued offensive operations near Bakhmut and in western Zaporizhia Oblast on September 15. The Ukrainian General Staff and other Ukrainian officials reported that Ukrainian forces liberated Andriivka on September 14 and achieved unspecified partial success near Klishchiivka (7km southwest of Bakhmut) on September 15. The Ukrainian 3rd Separate Assault Brigade reported that its personnel liberated Andriivka and “completely destroyed” the Russian 72nd Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade (3rd Army Corps) after encircling the settlement. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces continued offensive operations in western Zaporizhia Oblast and are inflicting significant losses on Russian manpower and equipment near Verbove (18km southeast of Orikhiv).

Russian State Duma Deputy and former Deputy Commander of the Southern Military District (SMD) Lieutenant General Andrei Gurulev complained about lying within the Russian military and highlighted the effectiveness of Ukrainian air defenses against Russian helicopters. Gurulev published a Telegram message on September 15 largely reiterating known Russian challenges, though with several notable points. Gurulev complained that the culture of lying in the Russian military is the main issue preventing a Russian victory in Ukraine and claimed that false reports are leading to poor decision-making at many levels within the Russian military. Gurulev also stated that Ukrainian air defenses at the front are effective against Russian helicopters and are preventing Russian helicopters from using previously highly effective anti-tank missiles, and he reiterated common complaints about Ukraine’s ability to conduct drone strikes on Russian rear areas and insufficient Russian counterbattery capabilities. Gurulev is notable for having previously leaked the audio message of former Commander of the 58th Combined Arms Army (SMD) Major General Ivan Popov’s grievances over the lack of support for Russian forces on July 12, and Gurulev‘s likely senior ties with the SMD lend weight to his complaints.

Ukrainian forces conducted naval drone strikes on Russian ships in the Black Sea on September 14. Ukrainian Stategic Command reported that Ukrainian forces caused unspecified damaged to two Russian “Vasily Bykov” Project 22160-class patrol ships in the southwestern Black Sea on September 14. The Russian MoD claimed that Russian Black Sea Fleet forces destroyed two Ukrainian naval drones in this area. Ukrainian newspaper Ukrainskaya Pravda reported that sources in the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) stated that a Ukrainian naval drone significantly damaged a Russian Bora-class corvette near the entrance to Sevastopol Bay on September 14 but the Russian MoD claimed that Russian Black Sea Fleet forces destroyed a Ukrainian naval drone and repelled the attack. A Russian source claimed that the corvette was not visibly damaged.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ukrainian forces liberated Andriivka in the Bakhmut area on September 14 and continued offensive operations near Bakhmut and in western Zaporizhia Oblast on September 15.
  • Russian State Duma Deputy and former Deputy Commander of the Southern Military District (SMD) Lieutenant General Andrei Gurulev complained about lying within the Russian military and highlighted the effectiveness of Ukrainian air defenses against Russian helicopters.
  • Ukrainian forces conducted naval drone strikes on Russian ships in the Black Sea on September 14.
  • Russian forces conducted another series of Shahed-131/-136 drone strikes targeting Ukrainian rear areas on September 15.
  • Russian State Duma Defense Committee Chairman Andrei Kartapolov explicitly stated that mobilized personnel will only demobilize at the end of Russia’s “special military operation.”
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) continues efforts to assume control over the Wagner Group’s operations in North Africa and may have assigned former commander of the Aerospace Forces (VKS) Sergei Surovikin to this task.
  • Russian forces conducted offensive operations along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line, near Bakhmut, along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line, and in western Zaporizhia Oblast and advanced in some areas on September 15.
  • Russian occupation authorities continue efforts to strengthen ground lines of communication (GLOCs) connecting occupied southern Ukraine to Russia and occupied Crimea.
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