Ukraine Situation Report: Advances Made In Grueling Fight
Ukraine appears to be making incremental advances in both Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia oblasts, but heavy rain might slow things down.
Ukrainian forces appear to be making some incremental but significant advances in their ongoing counteroffensive that stretches from southern and central Donetsk to Zaprorizhzhia Oblasts.
Ukrainian troops have captured the towns of Blagodatnoye and Neskuchnoe, in southeastern Donetsk Oblast as well as around Kamenskoye in north-central Zaporizhzhia Oblast, according to Ukrainian troops, who posted a video on Twitter that CNN geolocated and Russian milbloggers, who are providing most of the information emerging from the battlefield. We cannot independently verify any of these claims. And, as with all such reports, skepticism is warranted. In addition, there is little official information coming from the Ukrainian side, though that is beginning to change.
"We're seeing the first results of the counter-offensive actions, localized results," Valeryi Shershen, spokesperson for Ukraine's "Tavria" military sector, said on television, Reuters reported.
In southeastern Donetsk Oblast, the Armed Forces of Ukraine "entered Blagodatnoye, Volnovakha district,” according to the WarGonzo Telegram channel. “According to sources from the field, our troops retreated to previously prepared positions, since it was not possible to equip positions in Blagodatnoe and Neskuchnoe, due to proximity with the enemy.” Partially occupied heights are in their favor, WarGonzo reported. In addition, “with massive artillery support, the Armed Forces of Ukraine advanced on Rabotino.”
In addition to advances there, Ukraine has also been “able to gain a foothold on the northern outskirts of Makarovka and Urozhaynoye following them,” the Russian Military Informant Telegram channel reports. “There are fights going on right now.”
"A difficult situation is developing in the South Donetsk direction, the enemy, after using large forces and flank attacks, occupied three small villages on the Vremevsky ledge," the Russian Operation Z Telegram channel reported.
Several Russian Telegram channels say that territory is going back and forth, especially in Donetsk Oblast, with Ukrainian forces taking on heavy losses in personnel and equipment. Again, this cannot be independently verified.
Operation Z also reported that "the enemy breakthrough at the junction of the Zaporizhzhia Front has expanded: ours cover the lost positions and counterattack."
But there is another factor coming into play now that is affecting both sides.
“It's been pouring rain for three hours now,” Russian-installed Zaporizhzhia official and influential milblogger Vladimir Rogov wrote on his Telegram channel Sunday.
“Of course, in such weather, our aviation does not work against the enemy, as well as units that actively use UAVs.”
But the rain is bringing “significant” advantages for Russian forces, he claimed.
“Firstly, the structure of the Zaporizhzhia black soil and the complex composition of the soil in the Orikhiv and Pologovsky districts are such that even with a little rain, the rugged terrain turns not just into slush and mud, but into an insurmountable natural barrier.”
This barrier “will not be overcome not only by the French “wheeled tank” AMX-10RC or the German “Leopard-2,” weighing about 70 tons, but also by the much lighter Ukrainian Soviet T-72, weighing only about 45 tons. They will get stuck and become an easy target for our guys. The forecast is for rain until the evening. Tomorrow is predicted to be rainy.”
The rain is supposed to taper-off after Monday.
These intense battles have been occurring across Ukraine's southern planes and elsewhere as the country's major counteroffensive gains momentum. While exact progress on the battlefield is clouded heavily by the fog of war and limited official information, we are getting many videos from the front lines that are intriguing to say the least.
Incredible footage shows a close-quarter battle between Russian and Ukrainian infantry. Ukrainian soldiers, backed by up-armored HUMVEEs are seen assaulting a Russian position, resulting in an intense firefight.
The now infamous loss of multiple Bradleys in the open hours of the full-on counteroffensive's armored push continues to make ripples. Video that is said to be from the incident shows a Bradley crew firing its 25mm Bushmaster chain gun just as another Bradley passes by. The firing pauses at the last possible moment, narrowly avoiding what could have been a very nasty blue-on-blue accident.
First-person attack drones are wreaking havoc on both sides, with Russian types taking an especially high-profile role in what is being shown to the public since the offensive began. Here we see an attack on a M2 Bradley:
Another showing an attack on Ukrainian supply vehicles, which are far more vulnerable to many of these types of drones than heavy armor:
But Ukraine is also putting its own FPV 'drone army' to work against Russian forces, resulting in some very up-close and personal last images of its targets:
Armor has really been the focus of the early stages of this operation with some good videos depicting Ukrainian vehicles in action.
There has also been video of Russian surrenders as Ukraine pushes forward inch by inch into occupied areas.
Graphic video also shows Russian troops running for their lives from indirect fires:
Drone footage of a Russia Grad launcher being hit with pinpoint precision, resulting in its rounds cooking off, gives an idea of how Ukraine is putting its precision-guided weaponry to use under very dynamic battlefield conditions.
In this case a Russian electronic warfare system is struck with great precision. Russian EW struggled early in the war to have an impact but has become far more of a challenge as time went on. The presence of disruptive Russian EW in this current counteroffensive has been noted repeatedly.
With those glimpses from the front, let's discuss what else is happening. The War Zone readers can also catch up on our previous rolling coverage here.
Russia claims another attack by multiple drone boats occurred against one of its intelligence ships operating in the Black Sea. This one, like one just weeks ago, did not occur near Crimean waters. Instead it happened in the far southeastern reaches of the Black Sea, near Turkey.
Russia claims that the Priazovye repelled the attack and was not damaged. It also shared pictures of the drone boats, which do not match any known types being used by Ukraine, but they look very much like the boats that supposedly attacked the Russian intelligence ship Yuriy Ivanov in May.
There is plenty of skepticism about this event, especially surrounding the possibility that it was staged, like some believe the one before it was, to drive concerns among NATO members. Naval analyst HI Sutton laid out this theory in a series of tweets today:
President Volodymyr Zelensky has finally acknowledged that the counteroffensive is underway, stating:
"Counteroffensive and defensive actions are taking place in Ukraine, but I will not say in detail what stage they are at." He went on to list his military leadership cadre and said, "They are all in a positive mood. Pass that on to Putin."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made his second visit to Kyiv yesterday. There he met with President Zelensky and announced hundreds of millions of dollars in additional aid to Ukraine.
Part of the messaging of the visit included a statement that Canada has finally officially seized one of Russia's An-124 Condor cargo jets that was operating charter services for Volga Dnepr airlines. The jet has been on the ground in Toronto since just after the war began and Canada closed its airspace to Russian aircraft. Now that the seizure is finalized, Canada says it will be giving the jet to Ukraine. The AN-124 was originally designed in Ukraine.
While in Kyiv, Prime Minister Tredeau stated, according to Ukrainska Pravda:
"Today, thanks to the legislation that we passed, we confiscate this aircraft, which was owned by Russia, and begin the process of transferring this asset to Ukraine so that it will never be used by Russia again in support of the war."
The An-124s are important to Russia's massive logistics trail needed to support the war in Ukraine and other commitments abroad. With just a couple dozen in operational service across Russian charter and military operations, the type is key for moving outsized equipment, such as surface-to-air missile systems, and other materiel to forward locales.
General Sergei Shoigu, Russia's top military officer has stated that he wants to make it so all mercenary forces fall directly under the purview of the Russian military. Not just in command and control structure, but by those forces signing contracts directly with the Russian Ministry Of Defense.
This comes after months of Wagner boss Prigozhin lambasting Shoigu for Russia's performance in Ukraine and often contrasting his mercenary forces abilities with the state of regular military forces in a poor light.
Prigozhin says he will not comply with such an order.
Regardless, the divide between Prigozhin and Shoigu appears to be quickly deepening.
Train traffic in the Kirovsky district of the occupied Crimean peninsula was temporarily suspended after damage to the tracks, Russian media and the Russian-installed regional governor said on his Telegram channel Sunday.
"In Crimea, there was an explosion on the railway tracks," the Russian Baza media outlet reported on its Telegram channel Sunday.
"According to preliminary data, it happened at about 4 pm, when a freight train was passing by. The explosion damaged the railroad tracks."
“There were no casualties. I am personally in control of the situation. I ask everyone to remain calm and trust only trusted sources of information,” occupation governor Sergey Aksenov said on his Telegram channel Sunday.
He later issued an update.
“Traffic on the railway section in the Kirovsky district of Crimea has been restored. Thanks to the employees of the Crimean Railway and other services who participated in the repair of damage.”
Another attack on a critical railway artery that leverages the land bridge between Russia and Crimea in southern Ukraine may have occurred as well, although there is no confirmation at this time.
Another couple Russian 'franken-weapons' have hit the battlefield. This time a BTR-80 with a UB-32 aerial rocket pods and a pair of MTLBs with naval A-22 rocket launchers bolted on top of them. We have seen Russia increasingly raid its naval armaments and pairing them with in-service ground vehicles in an attempt to up their firepower.
Some new video purporting to show the aftermath of the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam has surfaced.
Meanwhile, the delicate balance that kept the flow of water in check in Southern Ukraine has been totally upended by the dam's destruction. Now the Northern Crimean Canal is nearly totally dried up.
The sprawling, Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is in the process of shutting down its sixth and final active reactor. The 'cold shutdown mode' stops fission reaction and the subsequent heat it produces. With the supply of critical cooling water to the plant in jeopardy, the move was taken to reduce the chances of a nuclear catastrophe.
Toyota techincals are a staple of conflict around the globe, and Ukraine is no different.
Finally, Ukraine's embattled wildlife continues to capture the hearts of many, including these Ukrainian soldiers who seemed to have adopted their own battle racoon.
Most likely name: Rocket.
That's it for now. We'll update this story when there's more news to report about Ukraine.
Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com