Day 546 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Kyiv Forces continue their Advance towards the Azov coastUkraine | August 23, 2023, Wednesday // 11:00| views
Day 546 of the invasion of Ukraine. Summary of key events in the last 24 hours:
- Ukraine continues its advance towards the Azov coast
- Three killed by drone in Belgorod Region, massive shelling of Donetsk
- Clouds of smoke in Crimea. Explosions on Cape Tarkhankut, the Bastion anti-ship complex was destroyed
- Putin appeared at the BRICS meeting in South Africa. Via video link
- Kyiv reported on casualties from Russian shelling, Moscow - on Ukrainian drone attacks
- A drone crashed into a building under construction in Moscow, two others were shot down near the Russian capital
- The Netherlands will supply Ukraine with a thousand chargers for remote demining
- USA: We do not encourage Ukrainian attacks on the territory of Russia
- Medvedev: Russia may annex South Ossetia and Abkhazia
- Gen. Surovikin was released from the Russian Aerospace Forces
Ukraine continues its advance towards the Azov coast
The Ukrainian troops have advanced in new positions after capturing the strategic for the Russians village of Robotyne in the southern part of the Zaporizhzhia Oblast. Now they are moving towards the villages of Novoprokopovka and Novodanilovka. This was announced on the national television air of Ukraine by the spokesman of the General Staff of its armed forces, Andrey Kovalev.
The ultimate goal of the Ukrainian offensive in the south is the city of Melitopol. Thus, Kyiv's forces would wedge into the Russian-occupied territories, splitting them in two, and regain access to the Sea of Azov, which Russia currently controls entirely.
Moreover, if successful, the operation would cut off a major Russian supply route for troops and their population in Crimea, which was annexed in 2014, leaving the alternative of the Crimean bridgehead. However, it proved too vulnerable to Ukrainian sabotage and drone attacks.
On the other hand, there are already bottlenecks in the transport of troops, weapons and ammunition from heavily militarized Crimea to the front in southern Ukraine, after earlier this month Ukraine managed to disable two existing bridges between its Russian-occupied southern territories and the peninsula.
In its frontline briefing today, British intelligence said Russia was already experiencing logistical difficulties in supplying Crimea after Ukrainian artillery badly damaged the bridges between the peninsula and southern Ukraine at Henichesk and Chongar in the east. For Russia, there remains a significantly longer route through Armiansk to the west.
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 23 August 2023— Ministry of Defence ???????? (@DefenceHQ) August 23, 2023
Find out more about Defence Intelligence's use of language: https://t.co/Va8F6AqttP
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"As of mid-August 2023, Russian forces continued to use pontoon bridges at the Chongar and Henichesk checkpoints between southern Ukraine and occupied Crimea," the report said. "The two permanent bridges were damaged by Ukrainian precision strikes in early August 2023."
The pontoon bridges would probably not be able to withstand the flow of heavy vehicles carrying ammunition and weapons to the front.
The ensuing traffic jams mean Russian forces are partially dependent on a long diversion through Armiansk, northern Crimea. This adds further friction to Russia's logistics network in the South.
That is, a capture of Melitopol would isolate Russian troops both in Crimea and in the western part of the strip they occupy in southern Ukraine. Similar isolation of their group in Kherson earlier in the war forced them to abandon that city on the west bank of the Dnieper and withdraw and entrench themselves on the east, from where they now fire on both Ukrainian forces and the civilian population.
Third, a breakthrough along the Melitopol route would move Ukrainian long-range missiles into positions for precision strikes on the peninsula. In an analysis by the Washington-based think tank Institute for the Study of War, Tokmak and Melitopol were identified as approaches to an advance on Crimea.
Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, said yesterday that Kyiv has no other way out but to take back Crimea by military means. It was previously thought that this would be possible through negotiations, which would eventually lead to a quick Ukrainian counter-offensive. However, it goes slowly and with heavy losses due to the well-organized Russian defense.
According to American political and military observers, a successful attack on Crimea would trigger an internal crisis in Russia, and it seems that this is what the Ukrainian political and military leadership is strategically counting on.
The road to this goal will be difficult and there are doubts that Ukraine can achieve it by the end of this year.
Last week, however, the media reported a successful Ukrainian breakthrough in the first line of Russian defense near the city of Tokmak, an important logistical hub between eastern Ukraine and Crimea and an approach to the peninsula occupied by Russia in 2014.
The Ukrainian forces, with the help of artillery, inflict a fire defeat on the identified targets of the enemy, and also conduct counterbattery measures, Kovalev said today. They are doing this in parallel with offensive actions south of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region, entrenching themselves on the achieved lines. According to him, the enemy suffered significant losses in personnel, weapons and equipment.
Three killed by drone in Belgorod Region, massive shelling of Donetsk
Three civilians were killed in a drone attack in the Belgorod region, its governor Vyacheslav Gladkov announced today on Telegram. According to him, they struck in a village that is located near the border with Ukraine.
"Ukrainian armed forces launched an explosive device with a drone when people were on the street," he wrote.
The Ukrainian side has not commented on the claim.
In recent months, drone attacks in the two warring countries have intensified. Last night, a Ukrainian drone crashed into a building in central Moscow. The attack on the Russian capital from Tuesday to Wednesday was the sixth in a row by airstrikes in the region, AFP recalls. Meanwhile, BBC Verify has tracked more than 150 drone attacks on the territory of the Russian Federation and territory controlled by it since the beginning of 2023. Russian officials have blamed Kyiv for the latest attacks, but it is not clear who is responsible for them. Drone airstrikes are concentrated in Russia's Bryansk and Belgorod regions, near the border with Ukraine, as well as in Russia's annexed Crimea.
Today, news also came from Odesa region. Ukrainian authorities reported that ports were damaged in the Russian attack. It is about the ports of the Danube River, in the southern part of Odesa. According to local authorities, a grain storage facility was set on fire. The fire was brought under control quickly. Firefighters are still working at the scene.
The attack lasted three hours - claims the regional governor Oleg Kiper.
The Ukrainian Air Force claims to have destroyed 11 of the 20 drones that were shot down by the Russian Federation overnight on Wednesday.
The Danube ports of Izmail and Reni have become hubs for Ukrainian grain exports since July, when Russia withdrew from an agreement that allowed supplies to international markets via the Black Sea.
Donetsk is under heavy shelling, the Poddubni ZOV channel informs on Telegram. Ukrainian forces are simultaneously shelling several areas. The city center was also shelled. Shells explode in the yards of residential buildings and near social institutions.
Clouds of smoke in Crimea. Explosions on Cape Tarkhankut, the Bastion anti-ship complex was destroyed
At least three explosions were heard in the region of Cape Tarkhankut in the Crimean peninsula, reported Telegram channels oriented to the local communities in Crimea. Eyewitnesses saw explosions in the Olenevka area. According to initial data, the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) managed to hit a communication complex and an anti-ship complex "Bastion", deployed on Cape Tarkhankut.
#Russian anti-ship missile system "Bastion" hit in #Crimea— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) August 23, 2023
This was told by the adviser to the mayor of #Mariupol Andryushchenko. The Bastion complex, we recall, was the carrier of Onyx missiles, with which the occupiers strike at #Ukraine. https://t.co/QTuChd5g7z pic.twitter.com/SHjRoVbjLG
So far, there is no detail in the Russian media about what is happening on the peninsula, but local residents report that police patrols have come out along the entire road from Sevastopol to Yalta and are stopping cars and trucks.
The Russian side has not commented on the explosions, which this time cannot pass for passing supersonic aircraft, not least because geotagged photos show columns of grey-white smoke. The outcry comes just a day after the head of Ukraine's military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, announced that the Ukrainian people "these days" will see how the aggressor is destroyed on the territory of Crimea.
From what is known "on the map", right on Cape Tarkhankut are the positions of the 3rd Radio Engineering Regiment of Russia and the domes for radio relay messages. A series of publications in the local media were devoted to potential military targets in Crimea and explained to the public what targets the AFU could hit, so that residents near these objects could protect themselves and avoid them.
According to initial information, as a result of strikes by the Ukrainian side, the radar stations on Cape Tarkhankut were hit. The "Bastion" anti-ship missile complex, with which the Russian aggressors launch Oniks missiles at Ukrainian targets, has burned down. The 48Y6-K1 "Podlet" radar station was hit, which is used to detect air targets at low and extremely low altitudes when there is a complex situation and disturbances. Stations such as 48Y6-K1 "Podlet" manage C-300 and C-400 air defense systems.
Later, Ukrainian military intelligence also released footage of a drone recording the destruction of the S-400 air defense system at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday in the area of Cape Tarkhankut. Russian military correspondents commented on the footage with understandable irritation. "What the strike was used for is unknown at this time, but it can be assumed that it was a Strom Shadow cruise missile. In addition, a Ukrainian reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicle, carrying out objective control, was hovering directly above the air defense missile positions. Such incidents raise fair questions about the quality of air defense cover in one of the most missile-dangerous regions of Russia.", "Военен осведомител" summarizes. The GUR also specifies that as a result of the explosion, the installation itself, the rockets loaded on it and the personnel of the complex were completely destroyed.
Tarkhankut had strategic communication importance for the Ukrainian army before the annexation of Crimea. The 1476th separate radar company and the 160th radar platoon, part of the 40th separate radio engineering brigade of the Air Force of Ukraine, were stationed there. After the capture of Crimea, the 3rd radio engineering regiment was formed at the base of the Ukrainians as part of the radio engineering troops of the Russian Aerospace Forces.
Putin appeared at the BRICS meeting in South Africa. Via video link
The summit of the five BRICS countries, although devoted to the topic of whether to expand the organization and how it can be a counterbalance to Western powers, started last night in Johannesburg under the shadow of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. More precisely - with a video speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin, writes the "New York Times", quoted by BTA.
???????? Russian President Putin's full speech at BRICS Summit. pic.twitter.com/TlS4ZsY7Ay— BRICS (@BRICSinfo) August 22, 2023
The Russian head of state is the only one of the five heads of government who did not arrive in the Republic of South Africa, as he is wanted for war crimes by virtue of a warrant issued by the International Criminal Court, the American publication states.
On the opening day of the economic summit, Putin launched a series of attacks on the West, speaking indignantly of "illegitimate sanctions" against his country and threatening to permanently end grain exports from Ukraine, writes the Washington Post. In his 17-minute pre-recorded speech, he focused on the war in Ukraine and Russia's relationship with the West - although South African officials had said East-West friction should not dominate the meeting and hoped to steer the conversation away from the worsening geopolitical climate, commented the publication.
Chinese President Xi Jinping also brought an air of confrontation to the summit, saying in a speech read on his behalf by a Chinese government minister minutes after Putin's address that "some country obsessed with maintaining its hegemony is doing do everything possible to cripple emerging markets and developing countries," apparently referring to the United States, the Washington Post notes.
The BRICS countries represent about 40% of the world's population and a quarter of the world's GDP, and the group has been considering expansion for some time, writes the British "Guardian". Leaders from more than 40 countries, mostly from Africa and other countries in the Global South, arrived for the three-day summit in Johannesburg. According to South African organizers, many of these countries have expressed interest in joining the organization.
There is a debate among the group's members about how far enlargement should go and what criteria should be used in deciding on membership, with India's position being the most cautious, the paper said. Brazil supports Argentina's admission to BRICS, but warns that rapid expansion could weaken the organization's influence, the Guardian also writes.
On the opening day of the meeting, there were calls for more economic cooperation and interaction in areas such as health, education and climate change, while reflecting a growing sentiment in some parts of the world that institutions perceived as Western-led, including The UN, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund do not take into account the interests of developing countries, writes the Spanish newspaper Pais.
BRICS officials have rejected suggestions that under the influence of China and Russia the bloc is moving towards opposition to the West, saying it is more concerned with the interests of the Global South, the publication commented, but added that the US and the EU will be watching closely the events in Johannesburg, like the long list of countries queuing up to join BRICS, suggest that the bloc's calls for a reorganization of the world governance structure may be appealing to many.
Kyiv reported on casualties from Russian shelling, Moscow - on Ukrainian drone attacks
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the European partners for the military support and help to rebuild his country.
The Ukrainian prosecutor's office claims that three people were killed by Russian shelling in the Donetsk Oblast.
Moscow reported another series of drone attacks, one of which crashed into a building under construction.
"There are planes for Ukraine. There are additional armored technologies and we are strengthening air defense," President Zelensky said in his usual video address. In recent days, he visited Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark and finally Greece, where he spoke with several heads of state and government from the Balkan region, including Bulgarian Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov.
Denmark and the Netherlands promised to provide Ukraine with the much-desired F-16 fighter jets.
The Netherlands will supply Ukraine with a thousand chargers for remote demining, Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren said in Kyiv after a meeting with her colleague Oleksii Reznikov. The news comes at a time when heavily mined Russian defense lines are slowing down a counteroffensive by Ukrainian forces.
The Russian Ministry of Defense reported that one drone crashed into a building under construction in Moscow City, and two others were shot down by air defenses near the capital. No one was injured in the attack that night. The drones were Ukrainian, the agency also claims. All four Moscow airports have temporarily stopped working, but are now operating again, added a representative of the authorities. AFP notes that there are now almost daily drone attacks in Russia, often targeting Moscow.
President Vladimir Putin received in the Kremlin the Russian-appointed heads of the annexed Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia regions, Leonid Pasechnik and Yevgeny Balitsky, according to whom 87 percent of the Zaporizhzhia region’s residents support the Russian president's policies.
On September 10, there will be local elections across the country, in which the residents of the four new regions will participate for the first time. Their accession to Russia is not recognized by the international community.
A drone crashed into a building under construction in Moscow, two others were shot down near the Russian capital
One drone crashed into a building under construction in Moscow's business district, and two others were shot down by Russian air defenses near the capital. No people were injured in the attack that night, TASS reported, citing the Russian Defense Ministry.
It said the drones were Ukrainian. So far, there has been no reaction from Ukraine, which generally does not comment on such attacks.
The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that the first drone's signal had been jammed with electronic warfare equipment. As a result, the unmanned aerial vehicle fell on a building under construction in Moscow City.
The building in question suffered minor damage. Several windows were broken in two neighboring five-story buildings, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin announced.
Two drones were shot down in the Mozhaisky and Khimki districts of the Moscow region, respectively southwest and northwest of the Russian capital, the Ministry of Defense also announced.
Sobyanin initially said one drone crashed into a building under construction in Moscow's business district and another was shot down by Russian air defenses near the capital.
All four Moscow airports temporarily stopped working, but are now operating again, a representative of the authorities said. At least one flight (from Sochi to Moscow) was diverted to Nizhny Novgorod.
In Russia, there are drone attacks almost every day, AFP notes. Moscow is often targeted.
Yesterday, Russian authorities announced that the country's air defenses had shot down four Ukrainian drones near the capital and in the Bryansk region, which borders Ukraine.
The Netherlands will supply Ukraine with a thousand chargers for remote demining
The Netherlands will supply Ukraine with a thousand chargers for remote demining, Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren said in Kyiv, quoted by Reuters.
The news comes at a time when solidly mined Russian defense lines are slowing down the counteroffensive of Ukrainian forces aimed at returning the territories captured by Russia, the agency notes.
"It has been decided to deliver about a thousand portable chargers for remote demining, the charge of which overcomes engineering barriers," said the Dutch defense minister in a meeting yesterday with his Ukrainian counterpart, Oleksii Reznikov.
"Now, as far as I know, you are faced with the problem of an extraordinary density of mines in the territories through which you pass," Ollongren stated, addressing Reznikov.
Earlier yesterday, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said that Germany and other partners could jointly deliver aid to the advance of Ukrainian forces through the solid belt of land mines, according to Reuters.
USA: We do not encourage Ukrainian attacks on the territory of Russia
The State Department said the United States does not encourage Ukrainian attacks on Russia's internationally recognized territory.
“It is up to Ukraine to decide how to defend itself against the Russian invasion that began last February”, a State Department spokesman said. He added that Russia could end the war at any time by withdrawing from Ukraine. Earlier, the Russian Ministry of Defense reported that one Ukrainian drone crashed into a building under construction in Moscow City, and two others were shot down by air defenses near the capital. No one was injured in the attack. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the European partners for the military support and help to rebuild his country. Denmark and the Netherlands have promised to provide Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets, which it has long been demanding.
Medvedev: Russia may annex South Ossetia and Abkhazia
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who is currently the deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, said that Russia could annex the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia from Georgia, Reuters reported.
"The idea of joining is still popular there and it is quite possible that it will be implemented if there are good reasons for it," Medvedev wrote in an article published in the Russian newspaper “Аргументы и Факты”.
Gen. Surovikin was released from the Russian Aerospace Forces
General Surovikin was relieved as commander of the Russian Air Force. This is what Russian publications write, citing their sources from the Ministry of Defense.
He was reportedly sent "to rest" a few weeks ago. Speculation about his whereabouts arose shortly after Wagner's rebellion two months ago. Information appeared that together with the Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, Surovikin knew about the intentions of the mercenaries, but withheld information.
His post as commander of Russia's Aerospace Forces also comes just days after Russia's failed Luna-25 mission.
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