Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, August 5

Date: unknown

Location: www.understandingwar.org

Kateryna Stepanenko, Layne Phillipson, Karolina Hird, Katherine Lawlor, Angela Howard, and Frederick W. Kagan

August 5, 7:30pm ET

Click here to see ISW's interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.

Ukrainian officials confirmed that Russia is using Iranian-provided drones in Ukraine. Advisor to the Ukrainian President’s Office, Oleksiy Arestovych, stated on August 5 that Iran handed 46 drones over to Russia and that the Ukrainian government has already noted the use of these drones in combat in Ukraine. [1] At least a portion of the provided drones are older-generation “Shahed 129” heavy strike drones, which Russian forces may seek to use to attack US-provided HIMARS in Ukraine. [2] It is unclear whether the 46 drones represent all the drones that Tehran has agreed to send, or the number of Iranian drones that are currently operating in Ukraine.

Key Takeaways

  • Ukrainian officials confirmed that Russian forces are using Iranian-provided drones in Ukraine.
  • Russian forces conducted unsuccessful ground assaults on settlements south of Bakhmut.
  • Russian and Ukrainian forces exchanged heavy artillery fire in Pisky, suggesting that Russian forces are unlikely to have full control of Pisky despite Russian claims.
  • Russian forces conducted several limited ground assaults to the north, northwest, and southwest of Donetsk City.
  • Russian and Ukrainian forces accused each other of firing rounds near the Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in Enerhodar, but ISW cannot independently determine which party is responsible for the incident.
  • Russian forces have repeatedly used artillery systems deliberately positioned within the complex to fire on targets across the Dnipro River.
  • Russian forces unsuccessfully attempted to advance on Lozove, Kherson Oblast, likely targeting the Ukrainian bridgehead over the Inhulets River.
  • Russian federal subjects are forming new volunteer battalions in Omsk and Samara Oblasts.
  • Russian occupation authorities are likely accelerating passportization and rubleization efforts and civilian data collection in occupied territories in preparation for the upcoming pseudo-referenda on the annexation of occupied Ukrainian territory into Russia.
  • The Kremlin is continuing to replace Ukrainian collaborators in Russian occupation administrations with Russian officials, likely to prepare for formal Russian governance of annexed areas.

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.

  • Main Effort—Eastern Ukraine (comprised of one subordinate and two supporting efforts);
  • Subordinate Main Effort—Encirclement of Ukrainian Troops in the Cauldron between Izyum and Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts
  • Supporting Effort 1—Kharkiv City
  • Supporting Effort 2—Southern Axis
  • Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts
  • Activities in Russian-occupied Areas

Main Effort—Eastern Ukraine

Subordinate Main Effort—Southern Kharkiv, Donetsk, Luhansk Oblasts (Russian objective: Encircle Ukrainian forces in Eastern Ukraine and capture the entirety of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)

Russian forces did not conduct any confirmed ground attacks between Izyum and Slovyansk on August 5. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces shelled settlements along the Kharkiv-Donetsk Oblast border northwest of Slovyansk, including Bohorodychne, Dolyna, Dibrivne, Mazanivka, Adamivka, and Kurulka. [3]

Russian forces continued offensive operations in the Siversk area on August 5. The Ukrainian General Staff stated that Russian troops are engaged in small arms fire near Siversk in addition to continued artillery strikes on Siversk City and surrounding settlements.[4]

Russian forces conducted ground attacks south of Bakhmut on August 5. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian troops unsuccessfully attempted to gain ground and improve their tactical positions in Zaitseve and Vershyna, both within 5km of the southern outskirts of Bakhmut.[5] Several Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces are actively fighting at the Knauf Gips Donbas gypsum factory on the southeastern outskirts of Soledar, about 8km northeast of Bakhmut and directly along the T1302 Bakhmut-Lysychansk highway.[6] Ukrainian sources stated that Russian troops are struggling to get through Ukrainian defenses surrounding Bakhmut, and Russian forces will likely continue to impale themselves on fortified Ukrainian positions under the cover of heavy artillery fire without securing large gains rapidly.[7]

Russian forces conducted several limited ground attacks to the north and west of Donetsk City on August 5. The Ukrainian General Staff stated that Russian troops unsuccessfully attempted to advance towards Krasnohorivka (15km north of Donetsk City), Avdiivka (about 6km north of Donetsk City), and Pisky (about 5km northwest of Donetsk City).[8] Despite claims made by Russian sources that Russian troops have taken complete control of Pisky, geolocated videos from the area suggest that Pisky remains under heavy artillery fire from all sides, which means that Russian forces likely have not yet been able to actually establish full control of urban parts of Pisky itself.[9] Russian troops also unsuccessfully attempted to advance on Marinka, directly on the southwestern outskirts of Donetsk City.[10] Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) Deputy Internal Minister Vitaly Kiselev claimed that separate DNR brigades and Wagner Group forces took control of half of Marinka.[11] While ISW cannot independently confirm the status of block-to-block control of Marinka, Russian troops will likely attempt to advance through the town from positions in the Petrovskyi district of Donetsk City.

Supporting Effort #1—Kharkiv City (Russian objective: Defend ground lines of communication (GLOCs) to Izyum and prevent Ukrainian forces from reaching the Russian border)

Russian forces continued to focus on preventing Ukrainian forces from creating conditions to resume a counteroffensive on the Kharkiv City Axis on August 5. Russian forces continued to conduct aerial reconnaissance and engage Ukrainian forces in positional battles in settlements northwest of Kharkiv City but did not make any territorial gains.[12] Russian forces continued shelling Kharkiv City and settlements to the northeast, northwest, and southeast.[13]

Supporting Effort #2—Southern Axis (Russian objective: Defend Kherson and Zaporizhia Oblasts against Ukrainian counterattacks)

Russian forces continued to launch unsuccessful assaults in northwestern Kherson Oblast, likely targeting the Ukrainian bridgehead over the Inhulets River. Ukrainian military officials reported that two Russian platoon-sized units consisting of SPETSNAZ and tank elements unsuccessfully attempted to advance onto Lozove, situated on the eastern Inhulets River bank.[14] Russian forces also continued to launch airstrikes near Lozove, Velyke Artakove, and Andiivka, all in the vicinity of the Ukrainian bridgehead.[15] Russian forces have also intensified aerial reconnaissance and maintained heavy artillery fire along the line of contact on the Kherson Oblast administrative border.[16]

Russian forces continued to target Nikopol, Mykolaiv City, Dnipropetrovsk, and Odesa Oblasts with artillery, MLRS, and missile strikes on August 5. Dnipropetrovsk Oblast regional authorities reported that Russian forces launched approximately 60 rockets from Grad MLRS systems at Nikopol’s civilian infrastructure and struck Myrivska Hromada (community district) with a Kh-59 cruise missile.[17] Mykolaiv Oblast officials reported that Russian forces shelled Mykolaiv City with Pion heavy artillery. [18] The Ukrainian General Staff also reported that Russian forces launched a missile strike on unspecified infrastructure in Mykolaivka on the Odesa-Mykolaiv Oblast border.[19]

Russian and Ukrainian officials accused each other of firing rounds near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in Enerhodar on August 5. Ukrainian state nuclear power enterprise Energoatom reported that Russian forces conducted another artillery provocation and damaged three high-voltage communications lines of the Zaporizhzhia NPP autotransformer near the plant’s industrial site.[20] Enerhodar Mayor Dmytro Orlov also noted that Russian forces shelled Enerhodar’s residential neighborhoods from the direction of the Zaporizhzhia NPP, resulting in power outages in most neighborhoods.[21] Russian occupation authorities in Enerhodar claimed that Ukrainian artillery shelled the territory of the Zaporizhzhia NPP, damaging two power lines that are necessary for the operation of power units in the city.[22] ISW cannot independently determine which party is responsible for the incident, however, Russian forces are likely continuing to use positions around the Zaporizhzhia NPP to shell Nikopol just across the Kakhovka Reservoir. The UK Defense Ministry also assessed that Russian forces are using facilities at the Zaporizhzhia NPP and in Enerhodar City as a sanctuary in which to rest and protect their equipment from Ukrainian strikes, given the protected status of the NPP.[23]

Ukrainian forces likely continued to target Russian ammunition depots and positions in Kherson Oblast. The Ukrainian Southern Operational Command reported destroying three Russian ammunition depots in Kherson City, and in Prydniprovske and Tokarivka (both situated east of Kherson City along the Dnipro River).[24] Ukrainian Telegram channel Operativnyi ZSU reported that Ukrainian forces have struck two unspecified military infrastructure objects in Oleshky and Nova Kakhovka with high-precision weapons.[25] Ukrainian forces reportedly destroyed four Russian S-300 air defense missile systems, and geolocated footage showed Ukrainian missile units destroying Russian armored personnel carriers in Starosillya along the T2207 ground line of communication (GLOCs).[26] Local social media users reported on and published footage suggesting that Russian forces seized Kherson City Clinical Hospital after Ukrainian strikes on a Russian base in Kherson City in mid-July and are unloading military equipment in the building.[27]

Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts (Russian objective: Expand combat power without conducting general mobilization)

Russian sources confirmed the formation of the 3rd Army Corps on August 5. Russian milblogger and military correspondent Sasha Kots announced recruitment for the “Samara” volunteer battalion in Samara Oblast and noted that the battalion will join the 3rd Army Corps of the Russian Armed Forces.[28] The battalion is recruiting men between the ages of 18 and 50 who have completed at least middle or high school education, without required prior military experience.[29] ISW has previously reported that Ukrainian officials believed that Russian forces were forming a 15,500-person-strong 3rd Army Corps within the Western Military District (WMD) based out of Mulino, Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, but did not have official confirmation of its formation from Russian sources.[30] Sasha Kots’ announcement also indicates that the Kremlin is likely planning to compose the 3rd Army Corps at least in part from volunteer battalions.

Russian federal subjects (regions) continued to form regionally-based volunteer battalions. Omsk Oblast Governor Aleksandr Butkov reported on August 5 that Omsk Oblast is continuing to form three volunteer battalions - “Irtysh,” “Avangard,” and “Om” - to deploy to Donbas to provide engineering, medical and logistical support.[31] Butkov stated that Omsk Oblast will provide a one-time payment of 100,000 rubles (approximately $1,612) to recruits but specified that the funds will only be accessible after three months of service.[32] Omsk Oblast news outlet BK55 reported that recruits will receive a monthly salary is 40,000 to 50,000 (approximately $661-$826) which will increase to 130,000 (approximately $2,147) once they enter the territory of Ukraine.[33]

Russian forces continued to face low morale issues within its federal republics. Russian Telegram channel Rybar stated that the Akbuzat movement (a human rights activism movement) in the Russian Republic of Bashkortostan is calling on Bashkortostan servicemen to terminate their contracts with the Russian Armed Forces.[34] Rybar reported that Akbuzat leadership is offering legal assistance to those who break their contracts. Rybar condemned the movement and accused the Akbuzat leadership of sharing the personal data of applicants with third-parties, including the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).[35]

Activity in Russian-occupied Areas (Russian objective: consolidate administrative control of occupied areas; set conditions for potential annexation into the Russian Federation or some other future political arrangement of Moscow’s choosing)

Russian occupation authorities are dramatically expanding their passportization of occupied Ukrainian territories by requiring Ukrainian civilians to acquire Russian passports to participate in basic life activities. Occupation authorities are also increasingly requiring the use of the Russian ruble rather than the Ukrainian hryvnia and will likely begin levying Russian taxes on Ukrainian residents of occupied areas.

Ukraine’s Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported on August 5 that Russian occupation authorities in Melitopol are forcing Ukrainian tenants who rent plots of agricultural land to negotiate new rental agreements, even if their agreements remain active.[36] Renegotiation of their rental agreements requires a Russian passport. The GUR also reported that Russian occupation authorities are requiring all Ukrainian vehicle license plates to transfer to temporary Russian-style license plates and to re-register their vehicles in a Russian system. Re-registration will require a Russian passport. The GUR also reported that the Russian-appointed Minister of Agrarian Policy for Kherson Oblast, Ukrainian collaborator Oleksii Kovalev, ordered Kherson farmers to register their businesses and pay taxes under Russian law. The GUR also reported that Russian authorities sent letters to businesspeople and self-employed residents of Kamianske, Zaporizhia Oblast requesting that they register their businesses and begin paying Russian taxes. Registration of business activity will require a Russian passport.

The Ukrainian advisor to the Kherson Oblast Military Administration, Serhiy Khlan, reported on August 4 that Russian occupation forces began to detain civilians for trying to exchange rubles to hryvnias in Kherson Oblast and began making pension payments in rubles to accelerate the forced rubleization of the occupied economy.[37] Pensioners hoping to collect their pensions are required to provide their personal information to occupation authorities. Khlan also reported that Russian forces require Ukrainian civilians who wish to have internet or cell phone access to provide their passports and personal information to authorities. Ukrainian Telegram Channel Mariupol Now reported that residents must bring their passports with them to register to vote in the annexation referenda.[38] The Ukrainian Mayor of Enerhodar, Zaporizhia Oblast, Dmytro Orlov, said that Russian authorities are using the records of utility companies and the passport information of pensioners to build a database of Ukrainian civilian information to falsify the results of the planned pseudo-referenda on accession into Rusia.[39] Orlov speculated that Russian forces are rushing to implement the referenda because ”they are well aware they have almost no time left.”

Voter registration for Russia’s annexation pseudo-referenda in occupied Ukraine will likely pose an impossible choice to pro-Ukrainian residents, who will need to provide identification to register to vote that can then be used to falsify or disregard their votes. The forced Russian passportization of occupied areas and the mass collection of residents’ data will enable occupying forces to better monitor dissent and votes and could allow Russian authorities to target and penalize any Ukrainian who votes against Russia’s annexation, as ISW previously reported.[40] Russian occupation authorities could also confiscate Ukrainian passports, making it more difficult for Ukrainian civilians to flee occupied areas.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin is continuing to replace Ukrainian collaborators in occupation administrations with Russian officials, likely to prepare for formal Russian governance of annexed areas. Russian authorities replaced the head of the Kherson Oblast Civil-Military Administration, Ukrainian collaborator Vladimir Saldo, with Russian Deputy Head of Kaliningrad Oblast Sergey Yeliseyev on August 4. Yeliseyev was an employee of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) from 1993-2005.[41] Saldo announced that he was leaving his position to seek medical treatment after consultations with colleagues and doctors. Russian sources reported that he suffered from a form of nervous exhaustion after complications from COVID-19, while the Russian outlet BAZA and various Ukrainian partisan sources suggested he had been poisoned and was in a medically induced coma.[42] Ukrainian partisan channel Zalizna Palianytsia boasted that the ”fate of the traitors has been decided in advance;” either Ukrainian partisans will kill them, or Russians will poison them.[43]

[1] https://strana dot today/news/402398-iran-peredal-rossii-bespilotniki-rossijane-ispolzujut-ikh-v-vojne-protiv-ukrainy.html

[2] https://strana dot today/news/402398-iran-peredal-rossii-bespilotniki-rossijane-ispolzujut-ikh-v-vojne-protiv-ukrainy.html; https://censor dot net/ua/news/3356154/iran_peredav_rf_boyiovi_bezpilotnyky_shahed_129_djerelohttps://cybershafarat dot com/2022/08/05/islamic-republic-of-iran-delivered-46-drones-to-russia/; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/irans-drone-inventory-and-poten...

[3] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02qc2q9e5MRf57qjmRxa... https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0QqheY94X6ugsY7cX8hH...

 [4] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02qc2q9e5MRf57qjmRxa... https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0QqheY94X6ugsY7cX8hH... https://twitter.com/RALee85/status/1555531574292189184https://t.me/RVvoenkor/22040

[5] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02qc2q9e5MRf57qjmRxa... https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0QqheY94X6ugsY7cX8hH...

[6] https://t.me/epoddubny/11821; https://t.me/rybar/36683

[7] https://t.me/pavlokyrylenko_donoda/4447https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cat_JaVkIJY; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02qc2q9e5MRf57qjmRxa... https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0QqheY94X6ugsY7cX8hH... https://twitter.com/Militarylandnet/status/1555295138880143361

[8] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02qc2q9e5MRf57qjmRxa... https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0QqheY94X6ugsY7cX8hH...

[9] https://t.me/kommunist/8095; https://t.me/NeoficialniyBeZsonoV/16367; https://t.me/NeoficialniyBeZsonoV/16369; https://t.me/rybar/36712;https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/39030

[10] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02qc2q9e5MRf57qjmRxa...

[11] https://t.me/kommunist/8095

[12] https://t.me/der_rada/2208https://t.me/rybar/36689https://t.me/rybar/36683https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02qc2q9e5MRf57qjmRxa...https://t.me/synegubov/3856

[13] https://t.me/der_rada/2208https://t.me/der_rada/2208https://t.me/spravdi/14781https://t.me/spravdi/14761https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0QqheY94X6ugsY7cX8hH...https://t.me/synegubov/3856; https://t.me/der_rada/2208; https://t.me/synegubov/3856https://t.me/stranaua/56207

[14] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02qc2q9e5MRf57qjmRxa... https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=466622484930600

[15] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02qc2q9e5MRf57qjmRxa...

[16] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0QqheY94X6ugsY7cX8hH... https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02qc2q9e5MRf57qjmRxa...

[17] https://t.me/Yevtushenko_E/413https://t.me/Yevtushenko_E/418; https://t.me/vilkul/1686; https://t.me/mykola_lukashuk/915; https://t.me/dnipropetrovskaODA/1472; https://armyinform dot com.ua/2022/08/05/vorog-obstrilyav-iz-gradiv-zhytlovi-kvartaly-nikopolya/; . https://t.me/spravdi/14781; https://t.me/spravdi/14776; https://twitter.com/EmineDzheppar/status/1555094719407001600

[18] https://t.me/mykolaivskaODA/2019; https://t.me/senkevichonline/1947; https://t.me/mykolaivskaoblrada/3384;  https://armyinform dot com.ua/2022/08/05/u-mykolayevi-vranczi-progrymily-potuzhni-vybuhy/; https://armyinform dot com.ua/2022/08/05/vden-rosijski-okupanty-obstrilyaly-mykolayiv-ye-zagybli/

[19] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0QqheY94X6ugsY7cX8hH...

[20] https://t.me/energoatom_ua/8672

[21] https://t.me/orlovdmytroEn/763; https://t.me/orlovdmytroEn/764; https://t.me/stranaua/56307https://t.me/stranaua/56307https://t.me/spravdi/14804

[22] https://ria dot ru/20220805/obstrel-1807586790.html

[23] https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1555431020542951424?s=20&t=Lg-s79V0...

[24] https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=466622484930600

[25] https://t.me/operativnoZSU/35155

[26] https://twitter.com/PaulJawin/status/1555407688930136067?s=20&t=XaRQAeIKOrTKgWHDsslHaw;%20https://twitter.com/neonhandrail/status/1555440063072243712?s=20&t=XaRQAeIKOrTKgWHDsslHawhttps://twitter.com/neonhandrail/status/1554232385385799680?s=20&t=XaRQAeIKOrTKgWHDsslHaw  

[27] https://twitter.com/bayraktar_1love/status/1555185860651491331?s=20&t=XaRQAeIKOrTKgWHDsslHaw; https://twitter.com/PauliusZaleckas/status/1555474361087401984?s=20&t=XaRQAeIKOrTKgWHDsslHaw

[28] https://t.me/sashakots/34743?single

[29] https://regnum dot ru/news/society/3658860.html

[30] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign...; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign...

[31] https://bk55 dot ru/news/article/205829/?utm_source=google.com&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=google.com&utm_referrer=google.com

[32] https://bk55 dot ru/news/article/205829/?utm_source=google.com&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=google.com&utm_referrer=google.com

[33] https://bk55 dot ru/news/article/205739/

[34] https://t.me/rybar/36713; https://www.idelreal.org/a/31958650.html

[35] https://t.me/rybar/36713

[36] https://gur dot gov.ua/content/tryvaie-prymusova-pasportyzatsiia-na-okupovanykh-terytoriiakh.html

[37] https://www.facebook.com/sergey.khlan/posts/pfbid021ECthTnXv5Pbnzk174umP...https://www.facebook.com/sergey.khlan/posts/pfbid025aoqgzr9PuynAJjoDDhF3...

[38] https://t.me/mariupolnow/16975

[39] https://t.me/orlovdmytroEn/762

[40] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-ass...

[41] https://focus dot ua/voennye-novosti/524528-polnomochiya-peredal-eks-sotrudniku-fsb-hersonskiy-kollaborant-saldo-gospitalizirovan

[42] https://t.me/Stremousov_Kirill/201; https://t.me/bazabazon/12676https://t.me/bazabazon/12677https://t.me/bazabazon/12675

[43] https://t.me/zalpalyanytsya/1271