Ukrainian air defenses intercept a Russian missile over Kyiv, May 16, 2023
Map: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1404 GMT:
The latest Russian attacks have killed three civilians and injured 12 in the Kherson region in southern Ukraine.
Two people were slain and 10 wounded by shelling on the center of Kherson city.
Eight vehicles, including one ambulance; an administrative building; a hospital; and at least 15 houses were destroyed or damaged.
Russian artillery killed a 64-year-old man, critically injured his daughter, and moderately wounded his two-month-old granddaughter on the city’s outskirts.
The Russians fired on the car as the family was returning from a medical appointment.
UPDATE 1305 GMT:
UK military intelligence says reports that up to 15% of Russian troops in Ukraine were using drugs are credible.
The analysts note the estimate in September by the independent Russian media outlet Vertska of the drug use, including amphetamines and cannabis which are easy to obtain on the frontline.
The report is accompanied by evidence of a high rate of disciplinary incidents, crimes, and deaths related to alcohol abuse amongst Russian forces. Commanders are punishing drug and alcohol abusers by posting them to Storm-Z assault detachments “which have effectively become penal units”.
The analysts note that the problems of poor discipline and substance abuse will continue to be accentuated by the lack of rotation of combat troops away from the frontline.
UPDATE 0931 GMT:
The latest Russian attacks on the Kherson region in southern Ukraine have killed one person and injured two others, including a woman.
UPDATE 0812 GMT:
Two Russian State outlets, TASS and RIA Novosti, have acknowledged the Ukrainian advance east of the Dnipro River in southern Ukraine, only to withdraw the alerts within minutes.
The two outlets posted that Russian troops had moved to “more favourable positions”. The Russian Defense Ministry later snapped, “The transmission of a false report about the ‘regrouping’ of troops in the Dnipro area, allegedly on behalf of the Russian defence ministry’s press centre, is a provocation.”
Ukrainian forces expanded their foothold in the Kherson region last week, taking territory up to 4 km (2.6 miles) from the east (left) bank of the Dnipro.
Kyiv’s troops first crossed the Dnipro in early July, and in August established a pocket on the east bank, across from Kherson city.
Russia’s military insisted on Friday that its forces had repelled a Ukrainian attempt to establish a bridgehead.
Asked about the retraction of the reports today, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said:
You know that we do not comment on the very progress of the state of affairs directly on the battlefield of a special military operation . This is the prerogative of specialists, professionals, that is, our military. And in this case, we also believe that only our military can and should comment on the situation.
UPDATE 0724 GMT:
Working with partisans and resistance groups, Ukraine is stepping up deadly attacks on Russian forces, officials, and infrastructure.
On Sunday, three Russian guard officers were killed in an explosion caused by local partisans in occupied Melitopol in southeast Ukraine.
Ukraine military intelligence said the blast was in a Russian headquarters in the “New Post Office” during a meeting of officers of the Russian State security service FSB and the national guard Rosgvardia.
In the past week, partisans have assassinated a Russian proxy official in the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine, and a resistance group has derailed a Russian train and reportedly struck a munitions factory inside the country. There have been strikes against a Russian military base in the Kherson region and Black Sea Fleet assets in Crimea.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Ukraine President Volodomyr Zelenskiy has told the nation that it must be prepared for a renewal of Russia’s “energy war” on infrastructure.
Zelenskiy said in his nightly address:
We are almost halfway through November and must be prepared for the fact that the enemy may increase the number of drone or missile strikes on our infrastructure.
Russia is preparing for winter. And here, in Ukraine, all attention should be focused on defense, on responding to terrorists, on everything that Ukraine can do to get through the winter and improve our soldiers’ capabilities.
Ukrainian officials noted last week that Russia has recently attacked infrastructure 60 times. On Saturday, Energy Minister German Galushchenko assessed that Ukraine has enough energy resources to make it through the winter. However, he added, “The question is how much future attacks can affect supplies.“
Last winter, Russia fired thousands of missiles and Iranian-made Shahed “kamikaze” drones on infrastructure and other civilian sites across Ukraine.
At one point, half of the country’s energy grid was knocked out. However, air defenses — bolstered by assistance from international partners — held out, and by April much of the damage had been repaired.
Zelenskiy said on Sunday night:
I thank all our partners who have helped Ukraine with air defense. These are different countries: the United States, Germany, France, Britain, Norway, Italy, Romania, Sweden, the Netherlands, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Poland, the Baltic States and other countries. Patriot, NASAMS, IRIS-T, RAVEN, Hawk, and other systems.
The President said that he can’t speak about all preparations, but “the Ukrainian sky shield is already more powerful compared to last year”. Still, he noted, the defenses cannot yet fully protect the entire country.
Every country, every leader who helps us bolster our air defense helps protect lives. And I urge all Ukrainians, all those whose voice is heard in the world, our journalists, all those who support Ukraine in the world, to help boost the defense.