Ukraine Situation Report: Just 13% Of Russia’s Iskander Ballistic Missiles Left, Kyiv’s Intel Chief Claims
Russia is buying thousands of Iranian drones to keep up its strikes against cities and other targets, according to Ukraine’s intelligence chief.
Russia is running perilously low on missiles with which to strike the interior of Ukraine, according to Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence directorate.
In an interview with Ukrainian Pravda that has been translated into English, Budanov said that Russia has a ready supply of Iranian “Shahed” drones, but is buying them in large numbers because its missile stocks are “almost exhausted."
“About 13 percent remains for Iskanders, about 43 percent for Kalibr-PL, Kalibr-NK missiles, and about 45 percent for Kh-101 and Kh-555 missiles,” Budanov told the Ukrainian newspaper. “It is generally very dangerous to fall below 30 percent because it already goes [in]to 'NZ' [reserve stocks]. … Due to the lack of missiles and their low efficiency and accuracy, they were forced to use Iranian drones. They use 'Shahed' en masse here.”
Budanov said Russia is ordering suicide drones from Iran "all of the time" and have used about 330 against Ukrainian targets. Of those, 222 have been shot down, he claims.
The Tweet below reportedly shows an Iranian-made Shahed-131 suicide drone, which the Russians refer to as Geran-1, which was brought down somewhere in Ukraine. The drone’s nose cone has come off, exposing what appears to be a shaped-charge warhead.
“Others, to one degree or another, reached their goals – not always their goals, sometimes somewhere close, but 30% of drones reach their goals,” Budanov said. “A one-time batch delivery is about 300 units.”
Russia is now deploying its second batch of Iranian suicide drones, he said. Ukrainian intelligence officials believe Russia has ordered at least 1,700 drones of all types from Iran, but most of them have not yet been built, much less delivered, Budanov said.
The details that Budanov provided could not be verified independently and should stand as his own assertions.
Separately, CNN and The New York Times both reported today that U.S. Central Intelligence Director William Burns traveled to Ukraine either this month.
“While there, he reinforced the US commitment to provide support to Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression, including continued intelligence sharing,” an unnamed U.S. official said, according to CNN.
Burns traveled to Kyiv "to discuss the United States’ continued intelligence cooperation with Ukraine, and reinforce Washington’s support in the war against Russia," an anonymous U.S. official told The Times.
Before diving into the most recent details of the war, catch up on our previous rolling coverage here.
Reuters reviewed more than 1,000 pages of Russian documents found in an abandoned command post in Balakliia, Ukraine. The records show disarray in the Russian ranks, poorly trained and equipped troops, and widespread anxiety over the presence of U.S.-supplied Ukrainian High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) in the area, according to Reuters Special Correspondent Mari Saito.
Russian troops reportedly attempted to burn sensitive documents before retreating from the command post but were unsuccessful. The photos below show the boiler in which Russian troops tried to incinerate intelligence before being overrun.
Russians stationed in the area where the command bunker was located were delivered drones without operational software. In July, they learned that Ukrainian HIMARS was in range of their positions. The launchers delivered precision strikes, the aftermath of which was shown in the video below in September.
One of the documents recorded that the leader of a "flamethrower" company from the Russian-occupied territory of Luhansk had eight troops with convictions that included rape and sexual assault. In current Russian military parlance, "flamethrower" typically refers to thermobaric weapons, such as the TOS-1A thermobaric multiple rocket launch system, which you can read more about here.
There have been multiple accounts of Russia recruiting convicts for service in Ukraine, including soliciting volunteers for the Wagner Group from inside prison. One such member of the Wagner private military contractor group was wounded and interrogated by Ukrainian forces, as seen in the video below. The man says that just 12 of the original 50 members of the man’s unit remained alive when the video was shot.
As interesting and informative as first-hand accounts and videos of the conflict are to outsiders, posting too much information online can be disastrous for troops on the ground. The video below shows a building full of Russian-allied Chechen troops showing off their accommodations. They show off their equipment, cheer, and even play the piano. The footage, which includes exterior shots of the building, was enough for Ukrainian forces to geolocate the unit’s position and hit them with HIMARS.
The video below appears to be the aftermath of those strikes.
A large fire is raging in Shakhtarsk, in the Donbas region, some 50 kilometers behind Russian lines. The fire appears to be burning fuel tanks, but it is unknown what caused the blaze.
According to the U.K. Ministry of Defense, Russia is blaming a rash of railway explosions on anti-war partisans in Belarus and inside Russia. Most recently, on Oct. 24, the governor of Russia’s Belgorod region announced that a blast damaged the main rail link between Russia and Belarus near the village of Novozybkovo, approximately 15km from the Russia-Belarus border. The incident is part of a “wider trend of dissident attacks against railways in Russia and Belarus,” the U.K. MoD said in its latest assessment of the war.
“The Russia military primarily relies on rail transport for deploying forces to Ukraine, but with a network extending to over 33,000km, largely transiting isolated areas, the system is extremely challenging to secure against physical threats,” the U.K. MoD said.
The photos in the Tweet below reportedly show Ukrainian personnel training to use American-supplied patrol boats. In June, the Pentagon announced that 18 patrol boats of various types would be included in another aid package for Ukraine's armed forces, as you can read more about here.
The pictures, which may all be of the same boat, show mounted .50 caliber M2 and 7.62x51mm M240 machine guns and a 40mm Mk 19 Mod 3 automatic grenade launcher. The Tweet indicates that the individuals in the images have also received items from the non-profit Come Back Alive foundation.
A rare Russian BMP-1AM "Basurmanin" modernized IFV was captured by the Ukrainian army. However, we can also observe that a Ukrainian soldier is carrying an even rarer ex-Russian TBG-7VL thermobaric RPG-7 projectile based on the PG-7VL.
On the Ukrainian side, the video in the Tweet below shows not just a rare example of a 9A83 transporter-erector-launcher and radar (TELAR) associated with the S-300V1 surface-to-air missile system, but also of it in action.
The video below reportedly shows Ukrainian special operations forces (SOF) personnel in the recently liberated Nevs'ke, Luhansk Oblast.
Ukrainian forces continue to employ commercially available drones on a wide scale, like the ones in the video below, identified as DHI Mavic 3s, to drop munitions on Russian targets.
Intense combat footage emerged from the 4th Rapid Reaction Brigade of the Ukrainian National Guard in action on the Eastern front. The troops are seen fighting at close ranges with small arms, recoilless rifles, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, and machine guns. At one point, they are seen fighting from a position in what appears to be a children’s playground.
TV Zvezda, the official television channel of the Russian Ministry of Defense, has shown interesting footage, stills from which are seen in the Tweets below, of Su-34 Fullback combat jet operations at Baltimor Air Base. Baltimor is in Russia's Voronezh region, which borders Ukraine.
One Su-34 seen in the footage has an array of red stars painted on its side, each of which reportedly represents 10 combat sorties. This would mean that the jet has flown 240 total combat sorties, though this apparently includes missions flown over Syria, according to TV Zvezda.
Kh-29T TV-guided air-to-surface missiles, as well as R-73 heat-seeking short-range air-to-air missiles, are seen in the clips, too.
The Polish Senate, the upper house of the country's Parliament, adopted a resolution today declaring the Russian government to be running a "terrorist state." The resolution included examples of credible reports of Russian war crimes and crimes against humanity, including torture, forced deportations of civilians, deliberate targeting of civilian areas, and more.
As Russian officials continue to claim, without evidence, that Ukraine is planning to detonate a dirty bomb on its own soil, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said today that NATO allies “reject this transparently false allegation.” You can read more about these evidenceless accusations here.
“Russia often accuses others of what they intend to do themselves,” he said. “We have seen this pattern before. From Syria to Ukraine. Russia must not use false pretexts for further escalation. The world is watching closely."
Meanwhile, Russia’s ambassador to the U.K., Andrey Kelin, told CNN that “it is out of the question” that Russian President Vladimir Putin would order nuclear weapons deployed in Ukraine.
Hardline Russian television presenter Vladimir Solovyov, a frequent commentator on the war in Ukraine, which he actively supports, has made new statements framing the conflict as an existential issue for Russia. He also called for a full mobilization in Russia, to include its economy, as well as its armed forces, to help turn the tide of the war.
In Moscow, Russia's Federal Protective Service, or FSO, has launched an exercise overnight. The drill turned heads on social media since the FSO is charged with protecting senior government officials, including President Vladimir Putin, from terrorist attacks and other major contingencies.
However, there are no indications one way or another that this was primarily a "counter-coup" exercise as some have speculated. The FSO appears to have quietly announced that the drills were coming on Monday, saying in a statement that they would ostensibly focus on training related to "suppressing terrorist threats, extinguishing fires, providing emergency medical care, and detaining offenders."
We will continue to update this post until we state otherwise.
Contact the authors: Dan@thewarzone.com