Covering the Land of Lincoln

Huge Russian missile strikes have no impact on the Ukraine frontline

Russian forces carried out massive missile strikes across Ukraine on the 2nd time in a row on October 11. The Ukrainian General Staff stated that Russian forces fired close to 30 Kh-101 and Kh55 cruise missiles from Tu-95 as well as Tu-160 strategic bombers, and damaged vital infrastructure in Lviv, Vinnytsia, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, and Zaporizhia Oblasts. 1. Ukrainian air defense has reportedly has destroyed 21 cruise missiles and 11 UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) (UAVs). 2: Social media footage shows the aftermath of strikes throughout Ukraine. [33 Russian forces additionally continued to launch attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure with Iranian-made drones. 4. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian air defense had destroyed eight Shahed-136 drones within Mykolaiv Oblast on the night of October 10 and 11. [5]

Army General Sergey Surovikin’s previous experiences as the commander of Russian Armed Forces in Syria likely does not explain the huge wave of missile attacks across Ukraine in the last few days, nor does it signal any shift in the direction of Russian capabilities or its strategy in Ukraine. Ukrainian’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) representative, Andriy Yusov, linked the recent attacks due to Surovikin’s selection as the theatre commander and stated on October 11 on the 11th of October that “throwing rockets at civilian infrastructure objects” is consistent with the tactics of Surovikin in Syria. [6] However, Surovikin is serving within Ukraine (as the commander of the Russian Aerospace Forces and then the Southern Grouping of Russian military) since the start of the war, and so are a number of senior Russian commanders similarly associated with Russian activities in Syria. 7. Major General of the Army Aleksandr Dvornikov, who was appointed in April to the role that Surovikin is currently in, had the command of Russian soldiers in Syria between 2015 and 2016 and was known for deliberately and brutally killing civilians. [8] Colonel General Aleksandr Chayko, the former commander of the Eastern Military District who took active part in beginning stages of the war in Ukraine, also served as Chief of Staff of Russian forces in Syria from 2015 and into 2016. [9] As ISW noted in April the month of April, every one of the Russian military district, aerospace, and airborne commanders had at least one time in Syria as chief of staff or commander of Russian forces. Russian forces attacked civilian infrastructure such as food and medical facilities throughout the duration of Russia’s active involvement during the conflict. [10] Disregard for international law, and an enthralling enthusiasm to savagely attack civilians was the norm for Russian soldiers in Syria prior to, during, and following the time of Surovikin’s presidency. It’s now part of the Russian way of war.

Surovikin’s appointment won’t lead to further “Syrianization” of Russian operations in Ukraine because the battlespace in Ukraine is fundamentally different from that of Syria, and direct comparisons with Surovikin’s Syrian “playbook” obfuscate the reality that Russia is facing very different challenges in Ukraine. Russia is unable to more “Syrianize” the war largely because of its failure to gain air superiority and therefore, is unable to launch the kind of massive air-bombing operations across Ukraine that it was able to have conducted in Syria. ISW has previously concluded that Russian military operations have been markedly different in an environment of the airspace of a conflict or in a demanding air defense environment, such as is the case in Ukraine. 11] It is very unlikely that Surovikin’s position as theatre commander will cause fundamental changes regarding Russian activities in the air or missile field of Ukraine in the long run, as the country’s Western supporters continue to provide Kyiv with air defences necessary to stop Russia from gaining air supremacy.

Russian military officials could instead have coordinated the selection of Surovikin as well as the cruise missile attacks on Ukrainian critical infrastructure to rehabilitate the image of the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD). Whoever was named the theater commander was responsible for the cruise missile strikes which Ukrainian intelligence reported had been scheduled in the early hours of October 2 (and Surovikin definitely didn’t plan, prepare for, or take part in prior to the appointment). [1212 Russian bloggers have recently praised the enormous storm of strikes that took place on October 10 as well as Surovikin’s appointment and correlated both as positive developments for Russian operations in Ukraine. This story could be linked with the ongoing Russian information operations in order to repair the reputation of Central Military District Command Colonel General Aleksandr Lapin following Russian failures regarding Lyman as part of a bigger campaign to bolster public opinion about and support for the Russian militarists. The Russian MoD is evidently invested in the restoration of its image, and the informational effects of the October 10 missile attacks as well as the selection of Surovikin who is a hero within the extremist nationalist Russian media, is likely intended to cater to the most vocal voices in this space.

Russian Federation is likely extracting ammunition and other materiel from Belarusian storage bases–activity that is not compatible with setting the conditions for a large-scale Russian or Belarusian ground attack against Ukraine from Belarus. The Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported on October 11 that a train with four92 tonnes of ammunition from Belarusian 43rd Missile and Ammunition Storage Arsenal in Gomel arrived at the Kirovskaya Railway Station in Crimea on an unspecified recent future date. [13] The GUR reported that Belarusian officials plan to send an additional 13 trains with weapons, equipment, ammunition, and other unspecified materiel from five different Belarusian bases to the Kamenska (Kamensk-Shakhtinsky) and Marchevo (Taganrog) railway stations in Rostov Oblast on an unspecified future date. Open-source social media footage confirms this report. Geo-located footage of the presence of at most two Belarusian trains carrying Belarusian T-72 tanks and Ural military trucks in Minsk and Tor-M2 missiles that are surface-to-air launchers located in Orsha (Vitebsk Oblast) on October 11. 14 Belarusian equipment movement to Russia suggest that Russian and Belarusian forces are likely not establishing assembly areas in Belarus. Belarusian supply and equipment movement towards Crimea as well as Rostov Oblast suggest it is likely that Russian forces are less confident about how secure Russian ground lines of communication running through northern and western Luhansk Oblast, given the ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensive in the region. The Ukrainian General Staff reiterated that it monitors Belarus and has not observed evidence for the formation or formation of groups of attack in Belarus on the 11th of October. [15] Russian and or Belarusian forces remain unlikely to launch an attack on Ukraine from Belarus, as ISW previously analyzed. [16]

Belarus remains a co-belligerent partner in Russia’s conflict against Ukraine, nonetheless. Belarus actively supports Russian attacks in Ukraine and supplies Russian forces with havens from which to attack Ukraine with precision weapons. Russian forces struck Kyiv with drones dubbed Shahed-136 launched from Belarusian territory on October 10. [17 The GUR further announced that Russia has deployed 32 drones of the Shahed-136 type to Belarus on October 10, and that Russia will send eight drones to Belarus on October 14. [18]

Key Takeaways

  • Russian forces conducted large-scale missile strike throughout Ukraine in the Ukraine for the second day in a row.
  • Army General Sergey Surovikin’s previous experience as commander of Russian Armed Forces in Syria is probably not related to the massive wave of missile strikes across Ukraine over the past few days. Neither does it signal a change in the direction of Russian capabilities or strategy in Ukraine.
  • The Russian Federation is likely extracting ammunition and other materials from Belarusian storage bases that are incompatible with the idea the Russian forces are establishing the conditions for a ground assault against Ukraine by importing material from Belarus.
  • Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces continued to conduct counteroffensives to the east along the Oskil River and in the direction of Kreminna -Svatove.
  • HTML0 Russian sources claim that Ukrainian troops were continuing ground operations in western and northern Kherson Oblast.
  • Ukrainian forces are conducting an ongoing interdiction campaign to take on Russian military logistical, technical and other assets as well as concentration zones located in Kherson Oblast.
  • Russian troops continued conducting ground incursions throughout Donetsk Oblast.
  • Russian reporting of the explosions that occurred in Dzhankoy, Crimea, indicated fear of losing other logistical capabilities in Crimea after incident with the Kerch Strait Bridge explosion.
  • Russian Federal subjects are announcing new extensions and stages of mobilisation within selected regions, which could indicate that they are not meeting their mobilization quotas.
  • Russian and official of the occupation administration continue to conduct filtration activities in the Russian-occupied territories.

We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because those activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We will continue to evaluate and report on the effects of these criminal activities on the Ukrainian military and population and specifically on combat in Ukrainian urban areas. We utterly condemn these Russian violations of the laws of armed conflict, Geneva Conventions, and humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.

  • Ukrainian Counteroffensives—Southern and Eastern Ukraine
  • Russian Main Effort—Eastern Ukraine (comprised of one subordinate and two supporting efforts);
  • Russian Subordinate Main Effort—Capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast
  • Russian Supporting Effort—Southern Axis
  • Russian Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts
  • Activities in Russian-occupied Areas

Ukrainian Counteroffensives (Ukrainian efforts to liberate Russian-occupied territories)

Eastern Ukraine: (Oskil River-Kreminna Line)

Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces continued to conduct offensive operations east of the Oskil River in the direction of Kreminna and Svatove on October 11. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that Russian forces repelled Ukrainian forces near Krokhmalne in Kharkiv Oblast (20km northwest of Svatove) and Stel’makhivka in Luhansk Oblast (15km northwest of Svatove).[19] The Russian MoD also claimed that Ukrainian forces unsuccessfully attempted to cross the Zherebets River southwest of Svatove in the direction of Raihorodka and Novovodiane, Luhansk Oblast, on October 11.[20] [21] A Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces are regrouping and restoring combat capabilities near Kupyansk to prepare for assaults near the Pershotravneve-Kyslivka line.[22] The milblogger also claimed that Ukrainian forces are concentrating personnel and equipment in the Lyman-Svatove direction to launch an offensive on Svatove and Kreminna with a strike group of up to 40,000 personnel.[23]  ISW makes no effort to forecast Ukrainian operations or to evaluate the likelihood of Russian forecasts about them.

Russian sources claimed that Russian forces conducted a local counterattack and recaptured territories west of Kreminna while continuing to establish defensive positions in the Kreminna-Svatove area on October 11. Russian milbloggers claimed on October 11 that Russian forces conducted counteroffensive operations east of Lyman and recaptured Terny, Torske, Novosadove, Makiivka, and Nevske, although ISW cannot independently verify any of these claims.[24] Russian sources posted videos on October 11 purporting to show Russian forces constructing trenches with BTM-3 entrenching machines along the Svatove-Kreminna line, with one source dubbing the effort a Russian-made “Maginot” line (referring to the massive belt of French fortifications built between the two world wars that the Germans simply drove around).[25] Luhansk Oblast Head Serhiy Haidai also reported that Russian forces are continuing to mine territory in Luhansk Oblast to slow Ukrainian counteroffensive operations.[26] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted routine indirect fire along the Oskil River-Kreminna line on October 11.[27]

Southern Ukraine: (Kherson Oblast)

Russian sources continued to claim that Ukrainian troops conducted ground attacks in northern and western Kherson Oblast on October 11. The Russian MoD claimed that two Ukrainian battalion tactical groups (BTGs) conducted offensive operations in the direction of Borozenske and Piatykhatky—both along the current Davydiv Brid-Dudchany frontline in northern Kherson Oblast and about 35km from the critical Russian-controlled town of Beryslav.[28] A Russian milblogger similarly indicated that Ukrainian troops are preparing to advance south of the Davydiv Brid-Dudchany line and conducting artillery preparations for subsequent attacks on Russian positions in the direction of Beryslav.[29] Russian milbloggers additionally indicated that Ukrainian troops are attempting to reinforce positions in the Davydiv Brid area (western Kherson Oblast near the Mykolaiv Oblast border and along the Inhulets River) to prepare for advances to the southeast.[30] Several Russian sources reported that Ukrainian troops attempted to attack toward Bruskynske (6km south of Davyvid Brid), Ishchenka (8km southeast of Davydiv Brid), and Sadok (12km southeast of Davydiv Brid).[31] ISW offers no evaluation of these Russian claims regarding likely future Ukrainian operations or force groupings.

Ukrainian military officials largely maintained their operational silence regarding Ukrainian ground attacks in Kherson Oblast but reiterated that Ukrainian forces are continuing an interdiction campaign to target Russian military, technical, and logistics assets and concentration areas.[32] Geolocated social media footage posted October 11 shows the aftermath of October 10 Ukrainian strikes on a medical college dormitory in Beryslav that Russian forces were reportedly using as quarters.[33] Imagery posted on October 11 additionally shows damage to the Antonivsky Bridge in Kherson City following a Ukrainian HIMARS strike.[34] Geolocated footage shows a Ukrainian RAM II loitering munition striking a Russian Osa air defense system near Kyselivka, 17km northwest of Kherson City.[35]

Contrasting views Huge Russian missile strikes are having no impact on the Ukraine frontline. Forthcoming reporting The massive Russian missile strikes are having no impact on the Ukraine frontline.


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