Day 534 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Both Sides Exchange Attacks on their CapitalsUkraine | August 11, 2023, Friday // 13:09| views
Day 534 of the invasion of Ukraine. Summary of key events in the last 24 hours:
- The first group of Ukrainian pilots will complete their training on F-16 fighters next summer at the earliest
- Zelensky fired all the heads of military districts in Ukraine
- Russia shot down a drone over Moscow and hit Kyiv with missiles
- Explosions in Kyiv, air alert announced
- At least one killed and 16 injured in a Russian strike on the city of Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine
- Powerful night fire in Moscow. Putin's official residence and Vnukovo Airport are nearby.
- The US, the EU, Moldova and Romania are discussing routes to transport grain from Ukraine
- "The Economist": Ukrainians do not fight like Americans. And that may be bad news for Russia
The first group of Ukrainian pilots will complete their training on F-16 fighters next summer at the earliest
The first group of six Ukrainian pilots will complete training on American F-16 fighter jets as early as next summer, The Washington Post reported, citing Ukrainian, European and American officials and military personnel. Two other pilots have been selected as back-up candidates.
The Ukrainian military says the selected pilots have excellent English, but they will nevertheless be sent to Britain for a four-month language course. This postpones to January the start of combat training, which is expected to last six months. The representative of the Ministry of Defense of the Netherlands, Lt. Col. Mark van de Beek, emphasized that the main problem in the training of Ukrainian pilots is the lack of instructors.
The Chief of Aviation of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Serhiy Golubtsov, emphasized that the F-16s are equipped with a powerful radar that will allow Ukraine to identify more targets and better counter enemy aircraft, missiles and drones. In addition, Ukraine will be able to use British-supplied Harpoon anti-ship missiles to fight the Russian navy. American high-speed HARM missiles will also be launched from these fighter jets.
Zelensky fired all the heads of military districts in Ukraine
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky dismissed all the heads of the regional military commissions - that is, the military districts in the country.
"This system should be run by people who know exactly what war is and why cynicism and bribes during war are treason," Zelensky said in a video message on Telegram.
According to him, the system of mobilizing soldiers can be entrusted to "soldiers who have passed through the front or cannot be in the trenches because they have lost their health, they have lost limbs, but they have preserved their dignity and do not have cynicism."
Zelensky made the statement after a special meeting of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine on the issue of the inspection of military districts.
The President announced that 112 criminal cases and 33 investigations have already been initiated against military enlistment office officials.
Russia shot down a drone over Moscow and hit Kyiv with missiles
A drone was shot down over "Karamishevskaya Naberezhnaya" Street in Western Moscow, Mayor Sergey Sobyanin announced minutes after information about an explosion was heard in the city.
According to Sobyanin, the drone was shot down by anti-aircraft defense systems. However, the Ministry of Defense claims that its crash was the result of jamming with electronic warfare.
Earlier, Russian media reported that the airspace over Kaluga (to the southwest) and Vnukovo airport was closed. In the morning, the governor of the Kursk Oblast, Roman Starovoit, also announced the downing of two drones that came from Ukraine (the region borders internationally recognized Ukrainian territory), but the attack took place last night after 8 p.m. local time.
The Ukrainian Air Force, meanwhile, announced that Russia had launched a new missile attack on the country. According to the Ukrainian aviation, "Kinzhal" missiles were used towards Kyiv Oblast, an alert was declared in a number of others, from Zhytomyr and Khmelnytsky to Ivano-Frankivsk.
This is the second day in a row that targets in western Ukraine have been attacked. There is talk of destruction in Kyiv, where Mayor Vitali Klitschko reported explosions. According to him, debris from a rocket also fell into a building of a children's hospital, but no one was injured.
Explosions in Kyiv, air alert announced
An air alert was declared across Ukraine this morning. Several explosions were heard in the capital Kyiv.
Mayor Vitaly Klitschko urged residents to stay in shelters.
Massive air raid alert all over Ukraine this morning.— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) August 11, 2023
Air defense at work in many regions of Ukraine, including Kyiv. By preliminary information of Ukrainian Air Forces, Kinzhal missiles were launched. We heard really loud explosions.
Kyiv regional military administration… pic.twitter.com/CXBjsUAYcw
City officials said Ukrainian air defenses were activated.
Earlier it was reported that one person was killed and 16 injured in a Russian strike on the city of Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine.
The National Police specified that an “Iskander” missile was used in the attack.
At least one killed and 16 injured in a Russian strike on the city of Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine
One person was killed and 16 injured in another Russian attack on the city of Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine. Earlier, authorities in northeastern Ukraine ordered residents of 37 villages in the region of the city of Kupiansk to evacuate due to the increased threat from the advancing Russian army.
Horrifying footage! Ukrainian families with children having a nice day outside in Zaporizhzhia when Russian missiles recklessly struck the middle of the city.— (((Tendar))) (@Tendar) August 11, 2023
This Russian terror and malice is but another stark reminder that you cannot parley with this Russian regime and their… pic.twitter.com/EVuINGbHBv
The National Police specified that an "Iskander" missile was used in the attack on the city of Zaporizhzhia. The secretary of the city council, Anatoly Kurtev, said that among the 16 injured were four children. Photos and videos shared by officials showed a large crater, mangled cars and a heavily damaged four-story building with a hotel sign. It was used by UN staff when they worked in the city, said Denis Brown, humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine.
Zaporizhzhia. Civilian building on fire after a Russian missile strike. As of now, one person has been reported dead, others wounded. My condolences. All services are on the scene, saving lives. Our every warrior destroying occupiers and liberating Ukrainian land brings justice… pic.twitter.com/S76rWDzk16— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) August 10, 2023
The Russian army is only a few kilometers from Kupiansk, claims the Moscow-appointed head of the administration of the Kharkiv region Vitaly Ganchev. The city administration of Kupiansk urges residents not to neglect their safety. A mandatory evacuation of all civilians from 37 settlements in the region has been ordered as Russia steps up its attacks there.
In his evening video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that additional defense packages are being prepared for the army, as well as air defense systems:
“We are preparing more defense packages for our soldiers, as well as more defense systems for the entire Ukrainian society, including air defense systems. I also had a very productive conversation with representatives of the British military leadership”.
About a thousand Ukrainian marines are expected to return from Britain to Ukraine soon after completing a training course. They are trained in a number of areas, including the use of anti-tank weapons and anti-aircraft missiles, as well as the use of mortars and unmanned aerial vehicles.
Powerful night fire in Moscow. Putin's official residence and Vnukovo Airport are nearby
In Odintsovo, 25 kilometers in a straight line from Red Square, a fire broke out on the night of Friday. TASS reported that a warehouse with an area of about 2,000 square meters was on fire and no one was injured, but clips of spectacular flames rising above the fire site were circulating on social networks throughout the night. According to rescue services of Russia, no one was injured.
A large fire in Odintsovo, Moscow region of Russia.— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) August 10, 2023
By preliminary information, a warehouse is on fire. pic.twitter.com/3u3Yz4RkXl
"In Odintsovo, Moscow Region, on Zelena Street No. 30, a warehouse with an area of 2,000 square meters caught fire. There were no reports of casualties," the Ministry of Emergency Situations reported to TASS. At 23:53, the fire was localized and limited to the territory of the warehouse. "The cause of the fire is unknown," the services say.
On social networks, eyewitnesses from the circles of local residents claimed to have heard explosions before the fire itself. Odintsovo is located halfway between Vnukovo Airport and the official residence of Vladimir Putin.
A day earlier, as Nexta reported, a kamikaze drone was shot down in the same area.
The US, the EU, Moldova and Romania are discussing routes to transport grain from Ukraine
The Romanian city of Galați is hosting today a meeting between representatives of the United States, the European Union, Moldova and Romania, during which alternative routes for transporting grain from Ukraine will be discussed, BTA reported. The agency quotes Agerpress, which refers to the American embassy in Bucharest.
After the meeting, a press conference is planned, in which representatives of the European Commission, Romanian Minister of Transport Sorin Grindeanu and Moldovan Minister of Agriculture Vladimir Bolya, as well as Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov, the head of the United States Sanctions Coordination Office Jim O'Brien and Magda Kopczynska - director for water transport in the Directorate General for Mobility and Transport will attend.
"The Economist": Ukrainians do not fight like Americans. And that may be bad news for Russia
The Ukrainian counteroffensive does not bring the expected results. The army is making painful progress. Paradoxically, however, this is not necessarily bad news for Kyiv, provided the Western allies allow the Ukrainians to fight on their own terms, writes "The Economist". It seems that Volodymyr Zelensky and his team have decided to bleed the Russian army. "Leave them hungry, crucify them and hit them" - this is how the Ukrainian operational strategy can be figuratively described.
More than two months have passed since Ukraine launched its counteroffensive and only a few days since the campaign appears to have entered its next phase.
The first part of the counteroffensive got off to a bad start as the over-ambitious offensive of the newly formed mechanized units quickly stalled. This was followed by coordinated attempts to exploit Ukraine's advantage in long-range firepower. The aim was to cut off Russian supplies and destroy the logistics centers and command posts of the aggressor.
It was about reducing the ability of Russian forces to react to Ukrainians looking for loopholes and weaknesses in the ranks of the occupier. This tactic is reminiscent of the maneuvers of the First World War. These operations have recently been supplemented by drone strikes against Moscow and a series of attacks by naval drones – “sharks” – against Russian patrol vessels in the Black Sea. Attacks on targets in the Russian capital have more psychological than military value. Their goal is to convey a message to the residents, to make their lives miserable, to show that war is not something abstract and that the Kremlin authorities are unable to stop an external threat.
Western countries supporting Ukraine could see hope for a breakthrough in the fighting with the deployment of the 10th Operations Corps in late July and early August on the southern front. Its soldiers are trained in NATO countries and equipped with Western equipment. But despite progress on the three main lines of attack, the fighting is moving forward with difficulty, including because of Russia's extensive minefields.
Russian sources cited by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported that Ukrainian forces continued their attacks both northwest and southwest of Bakhmut, as well as in the area bordering the western part of Donetsk Oblast and the western and eastern parts of Zaporizhzhia area.
On July 31, Ukraine's Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar announced that during the previous week, Ukrainian forces had liberated an additional two square kilometers of territory around Bakhmut and 12.6 square kilometers in the direction of Berdiansk and Melitopol. This added to the total of about 200 square kilometers recovered since the counteroffensive began.
This suggests that so far there has not been much change in tempo and that the arrival of the 10th Corps may in fact have been intended primarily to relieve the 9th Corps - which had borne the brunt of the fighting since early June - rather than to begin a new, separate phase of operations.
The Commander of the British Armed Forces, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, vividly described Ukraine's operational strategy as "Starve them, crucify them and strike". The phases of "starvation" (attacks on logistics nodes) and "crucifixion" (separate actions taken along many axes of attack) run in parallel.
At some point, the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, will have to decide when and how to carry out the strike phase, which will include the deployment of new brigades. Their goal will be to break through the minefields to the main Russian defense line. It doesn't seem to have happened yet. It is not clear which of the three axes of attack will be chosen by General Zaluzhnyi as the main attack. Just like last year, when the focus suddenly shifted from Kherson to Kharkiv, the decision will be fraught with high risk and potential losses.
Taking an attack south from Zaporizhzhia through Tokmak to Melitopol and the Sea of Azov, a distance of 200 km, would provide Ukraine with the greatest strategic advantage. It would split Russian forces, cut land links with Crimea and put much of the peninsula within artillery and missile range. But it will also involve breaking not only the first heavily fortified Russian lines, but also breaking through the most strongly defended area of the entire front.
The Ukrainians learned in early June that large armored formations, unable to hide from Russian patrol drones, become extremely vulnerable to air strikes when stopped by minefields and other obstacles. The limited success currently enjoyed by the Ukrainians is mainly due to the actions of units at the platoon and company level. They hide in forest belts and small settlements.
An alternative could be to use the weaker Russian defenses in the east around the destroyed Bakhmut and then send forces south to the Donbas. This would be politically damaging for the Russians, who have invested so much blood and effort in the region, but less strategically useful for the Ukrainians than reaching the Black Sea coast.
However, by focusing now on Bakhmut, Ukraine is withdrawing some Russian forces from the south and thus possibly opening other gaps in Russian defenses. When the main blow is delivered, much will depend on whether the Russians can withdraw their troops in an organized manner. There is a possibility that their armed forces, exhausted from months of fighting, will "disperse".
The aggressor is already struggling with low combat morale, lack of ammunition and wrong decisions of the commanders. The main strike in Ukraine will be a real test for the armed forces of the Russian Federation. Military strategist Lawrence Friedman points out that the Ukrainian armed forces fight differently from the US military and allies. In their wars, the Americans have shown tremendous fire and air superiority on the battlefield, which Ukrainian forces do not currently possess.
The Ukrainian army cannot afford a "new version of blitzkrieg" that many in the West could get used to, watching the actions of the Americans, for example, in the Persian Gulf War. Hence the widespread disappointment that the Ukrainians, despite the support of NATO countries, were unable to achieve something similar.
But as Lawrence Friedman suggests, criticism of Ukraine is unfair. In their wars, the Americans were able to provide massive fire and air superiority on the battlefield, which was not possible for the Ukrainians.
The Ukrainians also did not have decades to master combined arms battalion combat. In addition, Russia has been able to use vast numbers of drones to bolster defenses, with an effect similar to the use of the machine gun in World War I.
The Ukrainians must achieve as much as possible before autumn and winter, before mud and snow make offensive operations difficult. They need success for many reasons: for the morale of their own soldiers and civilians; to maintain the confidence of allies and to maintain the belief that they could ultimately prevail.
Success before winter would show Vladimir Putin that his situation is only going to get worse.
But how should Ukrainian success be measured?
Analysts Michael Koffman and Franz-Stefan Gady, who frequent the front, argued recently in “The Economist” that Ukraine should be helped "to fight the way it fights best" rather than being encouraged to follow the -good western practices. And that, as Lawrence Friedman concludes, is to accept the logic of a struggle to the point of exhaustion.
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