New York State In-depth

The massive Russian missile airstrike have little effect on the Ukraine frontline

Russian forces carried out huge missile attacks all over Ukraine on the 2nd time in a row on the 11th of October. The Ukrainian General Staff stated that Russian forces fired more than 30 Kh-101 as well as Kh-55 cruise missiles from Tu-95 as well as Tu-160 strategic bombers and damaged infrastructure critical to Lviv, Vinnytsia, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, and Zaporizhia Oblasts. 1. Ukrainian air defense has reportedly destroyed 21 cruise missiles and 11 UAVs. (UAVs). 2: Social media footage shows the aftermath of strikes throughout Ukraine. [33 Russian forces continued to launch attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure with Iranian-made drones. 4. In the Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian air defenses destroyed eight Shahed-136 drones within Mykolaiv Oblast on the night of October 10 and 11. [5]

Army General Sergey Surovikin’s previous experience as the commander of Russian Armed Forces in Syria probably does not account for the huge wave of missile attacks across Ukraine during the past few days, nor does it signal a change in the trajectory of Russian capabilities or strategies in Ukraine. Ukrainian’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) representative, Andriy Yusov, linked the recent attacks to Surovikin’s appointment as theater commander. He stated on October 11 on the 11th of October that “throwing rockets at civilian infrastructure objects” is in keeping with the tactics of Surovikin in Syria. [6] However, Surovikin is serving as a commander in Ukraine (as the commander of the Russian Aerospace Forces and then reportedly of the southern grouping of Russian forces) since the beginning of the conflict, as do a variety of top Russian commanders similarly associated with Russian actions in Syria. 7. Major General of the Army Aleksandr Dvornikov, who was appointed in April to the role that Surovikin currently holds, also was in charge of Russian troops 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 the initial stages of the conflict in Ukraine and also served as Chief of Staff for Russian troops in Syria until the end of 2015 and 2016. [9] As ISW reported in April that every one of the Russian military district as well as airborne commanders have served at least one mission in Syria as either the chief of staff or the commander of Russian forces. Russian forces attacked civilian infrastructure such as hospitals and breadlines throughout the period of Russia’s active engagement in that war. 10. Disregard of international law and an enthusiasm for brutalizing civilian populations was a standard procedure of Russian forces in Syria prior to, during and after the rule of Surovikin. It’s now part of the Russian strategy of war.

Surovikin’s selection will not result in a further “Syrianization” of Russian operations in Ukraine due to the fact that the battlefield in Ukraine is vastly different from the battlespace in Syria, and direct comparisons with the Surovikin’s Syrian “playbook” obfuscate the reality that Russia is facing very different problems in Ukraine. Russia cannot further “Syrianize” the war largely due to its inability gain air superiority and therefore, is unable to carry out the same massive carpet-bombing campaign all over Ukraine that it was able to, conduct in Syria. ISW has previously analyzed that Russian actions in the air would be significantly different in an environment of an airspace that was contested or in a demanding air defense environment, such as is the scenario in Ukraine. 11] It is highly unlikely that Surovikin’s role as theater commander will result in an important change of Russian military and air operations within Ukraine as long as Ukraine’s Western backers continue to supply Kyiv in the form of air defenses needed to stop Russia from gaining air supremacy.

Russian military officials could instead have coordinated the appointment of Surovikin and the cruise missile attacks on Ukrainian critical infrastructure in order to improve the perception from the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD). The person who was chosen as the theater commander was responsible for the cruise missile strikes, which Ukrainian intelligence reports claimed had been scheduled from the beginning of October (and Surovikin did not prepare, plan for, and conduct on the day of his appointment). [12The 12 Russian milbloggers have been lauding the huge strike on the 10th of October and Surovikin’s appointment , and have interpreted the two as positive events to Russian activities in Ukraine. This may be in line with ongoing Russian information operations in order to repair the image for Central Military District Command Colonel General Aleksandr Lapin following Russian failures regarding Lyman in a bigger strategy to improve the public’s perception of the Russian army establishment. The Russian MoD is evidently invested in repairing its public image. The media results of the 10 October missile attacks as well as the selection of Surovikin as a hero in the extremist nationalist Russian infosphere, could be to cater to those who are most vocal in this space.

The Russian Federation is likely extracting ammunition and other items from Belarusian storage bases–activity that does not fit with the requirements for a massive Russian or Belarusian ground assault against Ukraine from Belarus. The Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported on October 11 that a train with more than 492 tons 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 claim. Geo-located footage of at least two Belarusian trains transporting Belarusian T-72 tanks, Ural military vehicles in Minsk and Tor-M2 missiles that are surface-to-air launchers inside Orsha (Vitebsk Oblast) on the 11th of October. 14 Belarusian equipment movement to Russia show the fact that Russian and Belarusian forces may not be establishing assembly areas in Belarus. Belarusian supplies and equipment movements into Crimea as well as Rostov Oblast indicate the fact that Russian forces are less certain about the security of Russian ground lines of communication running through northern and western Luhansk Oblast, given the ongoing Ukrainian offensive there. The Ukraine’s General Staff reiterated that it supervises Belarus and has not seen evidence for the formation or formation of groups of attack in Belarus on the 11th of October. [15] Russian and or Belarusian forces are not likely to attack Ukraine from Belarus according to what ISW has previously concluded. [16]

Belarus is a co-belligerent of Russia’s conflict against Ukraine but it is not a co-belligerent. Belarus actively supports Russian attacks in Ukraine and supplies Russian forces with havens from which to attack Ukraine with precision munitions. Russian forces hit Kyiv using Shahed-136 drones that were launched from Belarusian territory on October 10. 17 The GUR additionally stated that Russia has deployed 32 drones of the Shahed-136 type to Belarus on October 10, and that Russia will deploy eight more to Belarus by October 14. [18]

Key Takeaways

  • Russian forces conducted massive missile strikes across Ukraine in the Ukraine for the second consecutive day.
  • Army General Sergey Surovikin’s previous experience as the commander of Russian Armed Forces in Syria is probably not related to the huge wave of missile strikes across Ukraine over the past few days, nor does it indicate a change in the course of Russian capabilities or strategy within Ukraine.
  • The Russian Federation is likely extracting ammunition and other items from Belarusian storage bases, which is incompatible with the idea of Russian forces are setting conditions for a ground attack on 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.
  • Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian troops continued ground attacks in the western and northern regions of Kherson Oblast.
  • HTML0Ukrainian forces are continuing an interdiction campaign to take on Russian military logistical, technical and other assets and concentration areas located in Kherson Oblast.
  • HTML0Russian military forces continue to carry out ground attacks throughout Donetsk Oblast.
  • Russian reporting of explosions within Dzhankoy, Crimea, indicated panic over losing further logistical capabilities in Crimea after incident with the Kerch Strait Bridge explosion.
  • Russian federal subjects are announcing new extensions and phases of mobilization in select regions, which may indicate that they haven’t met their mobilization quotas.
  • Russian and official of the occupation administration continue to conduct filtration activities in 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]

Sourcing The massive Russian missile airstrike have little impact on the Ukraine frontline. Read more Massive Russian missile strikes are having no impact on the Ukraine frontline.


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