Huge Russian missile strikes have no effect on the Ukraine frontline

Russian forces carried out huge missile attacks across Ukraine on the 2nd time in a row on the 11th of October. On October 11, the Ukrainian General Staff stated that Russian forces fired nearly 30 Kh-101 as well as Kh-55 cruise missiles from Tu95 and Tu-160 strategic bombers and damaged infrastructure critical to Lviv, Vinnytsia, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, and Zaporizhia Oblasts. 1. Ukrainian air defense has reportedly has destroyed 21 cruise missiles as well as 11 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). 2. Social media videos demonstrate the aftermath of strikes throughout Ukraine. [3] Russian forces additionally continued to launch attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure with Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones. 4 According to the Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian air defenses destroyed eight Shahed-136 drones in Mykolaiv Oblast on the night between October 10 and 11. [5]

Army General Sergey Surovikin’s previous experience as the commander of Russian Armed Forces in Syria likely does not explain the massive wave of missile strikes across Ukraine over the past few days or signal any shift in the direction of Russian capabilities or its strategy in Ukraine. The Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) representative, Andriy Yusov, linked the recent strike to Surovikin’s appointment as theatre commander and stated on the 11th of October the fact that “throwing rockets at civilian infrastructure objects” is in line with the tactics of Surovikin in Syria. Surovikin’s tactics in Syria are not. Surovikin has been within Ukraine (as the Commander of the Russian Aerospace Forces and then the Southern Grouping in Russian troops) since the beginning of the war, as have many senior Russian commanders who are also associated with Russian operations in Syria. 7. Major General of the Army Aleksandr Dvornikov, who was appointed in April for the post that Surovikin now holds, similarly had the command of Russian forces in Syria between 2015 and 2016 and was famous for his deliberate and brutally attacking civilians. 8 Colonel General Aleksandr Chayko, the former commander of the Eastern Military District who took an active part in the initial stages of the conflict in Ukraine was also the Chief of Staff for Russian forces in Syria until the end of 2015 and 2016. [9] As ISW stated in April, every one of the Russian military district or airborne commanders served at least one mission in Syria as either the chief of staff or commander of Russian forces. Russian forces deliberately targeted civilian infrastructure , including food and medical facilities throughout the duration of Russia’s active involvement in the war. In the 10th century, disregard of international law, and an enthralling enthusiasm for committing a brutal attack on civilians was standard operating procedure for Russian forces in Syria before, during, and after the rule of Surovikin. It is now part of the Russian way of war.

Surovikin’s appointment will not result in a further “Syrianization” of Russian operations in Ukraine since the battlespace in Ukraine is fundamentally different from the battlespace in Syria and direct comparisons with Surovikin’s Syrian “playbook” obfuscate the reality that Russia has its own unique challenges in Ukraine. Russia cannot more “Syrianize” the war largely due to its inability attain air supremacy, which precludes its ability to carry out the same massive carpet-bombing campaigns across Ukraine that it was able to have conducted in Syria. ISW has previously analyzed it is likely that Russian actions in the air would have been markedly different if conducted in contested airspace or a more demanding air defense environment, such as is the scenario in Ukraine. 11] It is extremely unlikely that the role of Surovikin as commander of the theatre will trigger fundamental changes of Russian activities in the air or missile field of Ukraine as long as Ukraine’s Western supporters continue to provide Kyiv with air defences needed to stop Russia from developing air superiority.

Russian military officials could instead have coordinated Surovikin’s appointment and the October 10 cruise missile strikes on Ukrainian critical infrastructure to rehabilitate the image from that of the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD). Whoever was appointed as theater commander was responsible for the October 10 cruise missile strikes, which Ukrainian intelligence reported had been planned as early as October 2 (and which Surovikin certainly did not prepare, plan for, and take part in prior to his appointment). [1212 Russian milbloggers have been lauding the huge wave of strikes on October 10 and Surovikin’s selection and linked the two as positive developments for Russian activities in Ukraine. This may be in line with ongoing Russian information-related operations to restore the image for Central Military District Command Colonel General Aleksandr Lapin following Russian failures in the area of Lyman as part of a wider strategy to improve the public’s perception about and support for the Russian militarists. The Russian MoD is clearly invested in repairing its public image, and the informational consequences of the October 10 missile strikes and the appointment of Surovikin who is a hero within the extremist nationalist Russian information space, are likely intended to cater to the most vocal voices within that space.

The Russian Federation is likely extracting ammunition and other items from Belarusian storage bases–activity that is not compatible with setting the conditions for a massive Russian or Belarusian military strike against Ukraine in Belarus. The Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported on October 11 that a train carrying 492 tons of ammunition from the Belarusian 43rd Missile and Ammunition Storage Arsenal in Gomel arrived at the Kirovskaya Railway Station in Crimea on an unspecified recent time. [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 supports this story. Geolocated footage shows that at the very least, two Belarusian trains carrying Belarusian T-72 tanks and Ural military trucks in Minsk and Tor-M2 surface-to air missile launchers located in Orsha (Vitebsk Oblast) on October 11. 14 Belarusian equipment movements to Russia show that Russian and Belarusian forces likely are not creating assembly zones in Belarus. Belarusian equipment and supply movements into Crimea and Rostov Oblast indicate the fact that Russian forces are less certain regarding the security of Russian ground lines of communication that run through the western and northern regions of Luhansk Oblast, given the ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensive there. The Ukrainian General Staff reiterated that it monitors Belarus and hasn’t observed evidence of the formation of offensive groups in Belarus on October 11. [15] Russian and or Belarusian forces are unlikely to strike Ukraine from Belarus in the manner that ISW has previously assessed. [16]

Belarus remains a co-belligerent partner in Russia’s conflict with Ukraine, nonetheless. Belarus materially supports Russian military operations in Ukraine and provides Russian forces with havens from which to strike Ukraine using precise munitions. Russian forces attacked Kyiv with Shahed-136 drones which were launched from Belarusian territory on October 10. 17] The GUR further stated that Russia had deployed 32 drones from the Shahed-136 series to Belarus at the time of October 10 in addition to stating that Russia will send eight drones to Belarus by October 14. [18]

Key Takeaways

  • Russian forces launched massive missile strikes throughout Ukraine on the 2nd day in row.
  • Army General Sergey Surovikin’s previous experience as commander of Russian Armed Forces in Syria is not likely to be related to the huge wave of missile strikes across Ukraine over the past few days. Neither does it suggest a shift in the trajectory of Russian capabilities or strategy in Ukraine.
  • HTML0 The Russian Federation is likely extracting ammunition and other materiel from Belarusian storage bases, which is incompatible with the idea of Russian forces are setting conditions for a ground strike on Ukraine by importing material from Belarus.
  • HTML0Russian sources said that Ukrainian forces were continuing to carry out counteroffensives to the east along the Oskil River and in the direction of Kreminna-Svatove.
  • HTML0 Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian troops carried out ground assaults in northern and western Kherson Oblast.
  • HTML0Ukrainian forces are continuing an interdiction campaign to take on Russian military technical, logistical and logistics assets and areas of concentration located in Kherson Oblast.
  • HTML0Russian military forces continue to carry out ground attacks throughout Donetsk Oblast.
  • Russian reports of explosions in Dzhankoy, Crimea, indicated panic over losing further logistical capabilities in Crimea in the wake of incident with the Kerch Strait Bridge explosion.
  • Russian Federal subjects are announcing new extensions and phases of mobilization in selected regions, which could mean that they are not meeting their mobilization requirements.
  • Russian and occupation administration officials continue to carry out filtration operations within Russian-occupied territory.

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 Huge Russian missile strikes have no impact on the Ukraine frontline. Further reporting Huge Russian missile strikes are having no impact on the Ukraine frontline.