Центр оборонних стратегій

Russia’s war on Ukraine. 21.08.2023

Operational situation

Ukrainian Defense Forces continue their offensive operation on the Melitopol and Berdyansk directions, consolidating their positions on the achieved frontlines and engaging in counter-battery warfare. The enemy concentrates their main efforts on the Kupyansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, and Avdiivka directions.

General conclusion: 

  • Ukrainian Defense Forces continued offensive operations in at least three sections of the front, advancing on the Avdiivka-Donetsk line and in the west of Zaporizhzhia Oblast;
  • The Russian command increased the density of combat formations at the junctions of the 35th and 5th Armies on the Berdyansk direction;
  • It will be extremely difficult for the Russian 60th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade to hold the area near Zavitne Bazhannia solely with their own forces.
  • The village of Novodonetske is surrounded by the troops of the “Tavriya” Operational Grouping from three sides. Passage along the Novodonetsk-Kermenchyk road is complicated; to keep holding Novodonetske Russian forces will require additional efforts and resources;
  • Russian forces lack reserves on the Tokmak direction compared to the Berdyansk direction. To adequately respond to the actions of the Ukrainian “Tavriya” Operational Grouping on this front, the Russian command may engage no more than two regiments – the 114th Motorized Rifle Regiment and the 108th Air Assault Regiment. The rest of its reserves, namely the 201st Motorized Rifle Regiment of the 2nd Army Corps, several units of the 810th Separate Marine Brigade of the Black Sea Fleet, and the 1441st Motorized Rifle Regiment of the Territorial Troops, are already engaged in the operation. The 56th Air Assault Regiment of the 7th Air Assault Division is currently being deployed.
  • The advanced units of the “Tavriya” Operational Grouping have intensified their activities in the defense sector of the Russian 70th Motorized Rifle Regiment near Novopokrovka.
  • On the direction of Luhivske – Novokarlivka – Polohy, the “Tavriya” Operational Grouping carried out several successful attacks in the defense sector of the 38th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade of the 35th Army, worsening the tactical situation for the enemy;
  • To ensure the stability of the defense of the Russian “Vostok” Operational Grouping, its command immediately needs reserves of 2-3 brigades and up to a division;
  • The nighttime strike on the Kursk railway station and the Soltsy airbase revealed the unpreparedness of the Russian air defense system to cover these facilities;
  • The strikes carried out by the Ukrainian Defense Forces on Russian rear areas significantly deteriorate the morale of Russian forces in Ukraine and could threaten the sustainability of Russian defense on many critical sectors of the front;
  • Russian forces are struggling to solve the counter-battery warfare problem, primarily on the Zaporizhzhia direction. There is a shortage of officers due to casualties, and enlisted soldiers now command some Russian companies.
  • The Russian command on the Zaporizhzhia direction is trying to avoid the mistakes it made in the fall of 2022 in the Kharkiv Oblast, attempting to halt the Ukrainian Defense Forces’ advance through direct counter-battles, relying on a formal advantage in forces and means. Their approach is cautious, and they carefully monitor the situation on their flanks.
  • Russian troops experience difficulties due to the lack of tires for Ural and Kamaz trucks, which slows down the supply of ammunition to the frontline and could halt truck movement in the autumn. Lack of spare parts is also a problem;
  • Russian information sources are exaggerating the achievements of the Russian grouping on the Kupyansk direction to depict localized Russian offensive operations as more threatening. This tactic aims to compel the command of the Ukrainian Defense Forces to divert reserves from more operationally crucial areas of the front.

Change in the line of contact (LoC):  

  • Over 25 combat engagements took place in different directions.
  • On the Kupyansk direction, the troops of the Russian 1st Tank Army carried out unsuccessful offensive actions in the area of Synkivka and advanced to the northwest of Kreminna and near Bilohorivka. The Russian advance is significantly hampered by the minefields installed by Ukrainian Defense Forces near Synkivka and Petropavlivka.
  • Ukrainian Defense forces attacked near Vilshana, Synkivka, and Ivanivka in Kharkiv Oblast, Novoselivske, Torske, Bilohorivka and Serebryansk forest in Luhansk Oblast.
  • On the Bakhmut direction, the 200th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade of the 14th Army Corps of the Northern Fleet repulsed the attacks of Ukrainian Defense Forces near Berkhivka. The 137th Air Assault Regiment of the 106th Air Assault Division advanced slightly to the west of Yahidne.
  • The Defense Forces knocked out units of the Russian 72nd Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade of the 3rd Army Corps from their positions west and north of Andriivka and repelled their counterattack. They also repelled enemy attacks north of Bohdanivka, north and south of Klishchiivka and near Kurdyumivka.
  • On the Avdiivka direction, Ukrainian Defense Forces continue to hold back the advance of Russian troops in the Maryinka area.
  • The troops of the Russian 1st Army Corps were on the defensive: the 277th Rifle Battalion of the mobilization reserve near Krasnohorivka, the 109th Rifle Regiment of the mobilization reserve near Vesele, the 1st Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade near Pervomaiske, the 114th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade in the Staromykhailivka area.
  • Zaporizhzhia direction:
    • Tokmak direction (Robotyne): The forces of the “Tavriya” Operational Grouping attacked the positions of the 503rd Motorized Rifle Regiment north of Nesteryanka and the 291st Motorized Rifle Regiment near Kopani; advanced to the east of Robotyne. They captured Russian positions west of Verbove and continued to attack along the Robotyne – Verbove line. Part of the “Tavriya” forces bypassed Robotyne and broke through the defense of the Russian 1430th Motorized Rifle Regiment of the Territorial Troops in the direction of Novoprokopivka.
    • Berdiansk direction (Velyka Novosilka): troops of the “Tavria” Operational Grouping carried out offensive actions near Urozhaine, Staromayorske, in the direction of Staromlynivka and northeast of Kermenchyk.
  • Kherson direction: Ukrainian Defense Forces continue to operate on the islands in the Dnipro Delta, with ongoing battles. Russian forces continue to shell Ukrainian positions near the Antonivskyi Bridge. The intense artillery fire from the Defense Forces prevents the Russian infantry from engaging in combat on the islands in the Dnipro Delta. 
  • In the Black Sea-Azov Sea Maritime Operations Area, the following ships were on combat duty: in the Black Sea – 5 enemy ships, including 1 cruise missile carrier; in the Azov Sea – 1, in the Mediterranean – 8, including 2 cruise missile carriers. The total salvo is 28 Kalibr cruise missiles. 

Change in enemy disposition:

  • The 131st Motorized Rifle Regiment of the 1st Army Corps reinforced its combat formations in the defense sector of the 37th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade of the 36th Territorial Troops in the area of Novodonetske. 
  • The battalion of the 336th Separate Marines Brigade of the Baltic Fleet, reinforced with anti-tank equipment, strengthened its combat formations in the defense sector of the 143rd Motorized Rifle Regiment in the area of Novozlatopil.
  • Units of the Russian 71st Motorized Rifle Regiment and the 136th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade have been partially withdrawn to the Remivka – Staromlynivka line. They will form the core of forces covering the Staromlynivka-Novozlatopillia logistics route, which ensures the supply of the left flank of the entire 5th Army. 
  • The second battalion of the Russian 125th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade is being deployed behind the battle formations of the 37th separate motorized rifle brigade.

Escalation indicators:

  • The Netherlands and Denmark will transfer 42 F-16 fighters to Ukraine.

Possible operation situation developments: 

  • On the Kupyansk direction, the adversary will operate with two operational-tactical groupings: a northern one formed from the forces of the 6th Army, and a northwestern one consisting of units from the 1st Tank Army and the 11th Army Corps.
  • The Russian command is compelled to relocate at least two Separate Motorized Rifle Brigades and 1-2 Separate Motorized Rifle Regiments from the composition of other operational groupings, mainly the “Yug(South)” Operational Grouping, into the operational zone of the “Vostok (East)” Operational Grouping.
  • If the units of the “Tavriya” Operational Group manage to enter Pryiutne, the enemy will be compelled to retreat not only from Pryiutne but also from positions northeast of the village.

Russian operational losses from 24.02.22 to 21.08.23 

Personnel – almost 257,930 people (+460);

Tanks – 4,358 (+12);

Armored combat vehicles – 8,449 (+14);

Artillery systems – 5,264 (+19);

Multiple rocket launchers (MLRS) – 719 (+2);

Anti-aircraft warfare systems – 489 (0);

Vehicles and fuel tanks –7,692 (+12);

Aircraft – 315 (0);

Helicopters – 316 (0);

UAV operational and tactical level – 4,309 (+5);

Intercepted cruise missiles – 1,406 (0);

Boats/ships – 18 (0).


  • According to information provided by the MOD’s Situation Center, over the past day, Russian forces shelled 9 regions of Ukraine. 129 towns and villages and 37 infrastructure objects were attacked with various types of weapons.
  • In Chernihiv, 180 victims affected by the Russian rocket attack on August 19 sought medical assistance.
  • Around noon on Monday, the Russian forces dropped an explosive device at a 43-year-old civilian man in the village of Zolota Balka in Kherson Oblast. As a result of the attack, he received multiple shrapnel wounds to the chest, abdomen and leg, Kherson Oblast Military Administration reported.
  • Ukraine is in the final stages of collaboration with the international insurance market to establish an insurance scheme for grain ships destined for Black Sea ports. The funding for this coverage will be partially sourced from the “road fund,” according to information from the adviser to the Minister of Economy, Oleksandr Hryban, as reported by the Financial Times.
  • The investigation conducted by the Russian opposition publication “The Project” reveals the involvement of Olena Milska, the wife of Russian Minister of Emergency Situations Oleksandr Kurenkov and the head of various Russian “charitable” organizations, in the abduction of Ukrainian children from the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.
  • On August 14 and 16, the Russian occupation authorities conducted at least 9 searches in the houses of the Jehovah’s Witnesses religious organization in the temporarily occupied Crimea; two house arrests are known. According to Dmytro Lubinets, the Ukrainian Ombudsman, the Russian Federation has initiated over 100 criminal cases based on religious grounds against residents of Crimea. Among these cases, 17 are directed towards individuals associated with the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” organization.
  • According to Mykhailo Myagkov, scientific director of the Russian Military Historical Society, the new single official Russian history textbook portrays the Soviet dictator Stalin as “a man who held the position of commander-in-chief, and no major operation was carried out without his input, as a man who “nominated the generals of victory.” Myagkov especially emphasized that Stalin “clearly defended the interests of Soviet foreign policy.” He claimed that this is an objective portrayal as opposed to the ‘90s textbooks “financed by Soros” where Stalin “was a tyrant, a beast, an incompetent commander who overwhelmed the enemy with corpses,” and the “criminal Stalinist regime” ran through many textbooks as a red thread.

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