Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 4, 2023
Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 4, 2023
Karolina Hird, Grace Mappes, Nicole Wolkov, Angelica Evans, and Frederick W. Kagan
July 4, 2023, 8:35pm 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.
Click here to access ISW’s archive of interactive time-lapse maps of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These maps complement the static control-of-terrain map that ISW produces daily by showing a dynamic frontline. ISW will update this time-lapse map archive monthly.
Note: The data cutoff for this product was 2pm ET on July 4. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the July 5 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.
Ukrainian forces appear to be focusing on creating an asymmetrical attrition gradient that conserves Ukrainian manpower at the cost of a slower rate of territorial gains, while gradually wearing down Russian manpower and equipment. Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov reported on July 4 that Ukrainian forces are performing their main task of destroying Russian manpower, equipment, fuel depots, artillery, and air defenses and that a “war of destruction is equal to a war of kilometers.” Danilov’s assessment underlines the prioritization of Ukraine’s ongoing campaign to attrit Russian manpower and assets over attempting to conduct massive sweeping mechanized maneuvers to regain large swaths of territory rapidly. NATO Military Committee Chair Admiral Bob Bauer reported on July 3 that Ukrainian forces are correct to proceed cautiously and avoid high casualties in the counteroffensive and acknowledged that the counteroffensive is difficult due to landmines and other obstacles up to 30km deep into Russian-occupied territory. Bauer stated that Ukrainian forces should not face criticism or pressure for moving slowly.
Ukrainian forces have liberated territory in multiple areas of the front since the start of the counteroffensive in early June. Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar reported on July 3 that Ukrainian forces have liberated a total of 37.4 square kilometers in eastern and southern Ukraine in the past week. Ukrainian forces are continuing to make steady, gradual advances.
The current pace of Ukrainian operations is not indicative of a stalemate or evidence that Ukraine cannot retake large areas. Ukrainian forces conducted slow and gradual interdiction campaigns against Russian concentration areas in east (left) bank Kherson Oblast and limited ground attacks on the west (right) bank between August and November of 2022, before finally forcing the Russian withdrawal from the right bank in mid-November. The situation in southern Ukraine is different, of course, because there is no natural bottleneck of the sort created by Russian reliance on the two bridges over the Dnipro. The Ukrainian counter-offensive in Kherson nevertheless alternated phases of relatively rapid advance with long periods of preparation, combat focused on attritting Russian forces, and limited gains that ultimately made Russian positions on the west bank of the river untenable. By contrast, the Russian winter-spring offensive culminated in just over one month without making significant gains along the Luhansk-Kharkiv Oblast border. The current Ukrainian counter-offensive is less dramatic and rapid than the one that liberated much of Kharkiv Oblast, more successful than the failed Russian winter offensive, and generally most like the slower but ultimately successful Kherson counteroffensive in its pace and initial progress.
Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations on at least four sectors of the front and advanced on July 4. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that Russian forces repelled Ukrainian ground attacks in the Lyman direction. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces continue counteroffensive operations in the Bakhmut area, in the western Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area, and in western Zaporizhia Oblast. Ukrainian military officials stated that Ukrainian forces have made some unspecified advances on Bakhmut’s northern and southern flanks, and a prominent Russian milblogger also claimed that Ukrainian forces advanced north of Bakhmut. Ukrainian Tavrisk Group of Forces Spokesperson Valery Shershen stated that Ukrainian forces advanced up to two kilometers in the western Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area, and a Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces reached Pryyutne, 15 kilometers southwest of Velyka Novosilka in western Donetsk Oblast. Geolocated footage confirms that Ukrainian forces made additional advances south of Orikhiv in western Zaporizhia Oblast.
Russian and Ukrainian officials escalated their rhetoric surrounding the situation at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) on July 4, but Russia is likely focused on accusing Ukraine of irresponsible actions around the ZNPP including setting conditions for a possible false flag attack. Russia remains unlikely to generate a radiological incident at the ZNPP at this time. The Ukrainian General Staff reported on July 4 that Ukrainian officials have begun preparations for a potential Russian provocation at the ZNPP “in the near future” and warned that Russian forces placed objects “resembling explosive devices” on the outer roofs of the ZNPP’s third and fourth reactors in order to blame damage to these areas on Ukrainian shelling. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky echoed this statement in his nightly address on July 4, and other Ukrainian military sources warned of possible Russian provocations at the plant. As ISW has previously reported, it is unlikely that limited Russian sabotage at the ZNPP that Russia could hope to blame on Ukraine would be able to generate a massive radiological incident, as the ZNPP’s reactors were constructed to withstand considerable damage. Ukrainian military sources reiterated this assessment and noted that even if the purported explosive devices detonate, the damage would not harm the reactor but would rather create the false impression that Ukrainian forces had shelled the reactors. Advisor to the head of Russian nuclear energy operator Rosenergoatom, Renat Karchaa, also claimed on July 4 that Ukraine is planning to strike the ZNPP overnight on July 4-5. ISW has previously assessed that such provocative Russian statements, and even the possibility of a tangible provocation at the plant, are likely part of a Russian wider information operation meant to accuse Ukraine of irresponsibility at the ZNPP ahead of the upcoming NATO summit and dissuade Ukrainian forces from conducting counteroffensive operations against occupied Zaporizhia Oblast.
The reported reorganization of Russian internal security organs suggests that the Kremlin has not yet concluded that it has effectively neutralized the threats of future armed rebellions following the Wagner Group’s June 23-24 rebellion. Russian outlet Vedomosti reported on July 3, citing internal law enforcement sources, that Russian law enforcement authorities are considering reassigning the “Grom” special units of the Russian Federal Drug Control Service (part of the Ministry of Internal Affairs) to Rosgvardia (Russian National Guard). Vedomosti noted that this reported change follows Russian President Vladimir Putin’s meeting with heads of various Russian law enforcement agencies on June 26 in the wake of the Wagner armed rebellion. Several Russian sources spoke out against the reported transfer of ”Grom” to Rosgvardia, citing overall poorer equipment, training, and leadership quality. Vedomosti claimed that Alexander Khinstein, former advisor to Rosgvardia Head Viktor Zolotov, warned that the assignment of ”Grom” units to Rosgvardia would be a ”dangerous experiment.” The alleged restructuring of Russia’s internal security forces suggests that the Kremlin is working to build an effective anti-rebellion force following Wagner’s armed rebellion. The fact that these purported changes are happening following the rebellion indicates that the Kremlin was correctly dissatisfied with the performance of security forces, which failed to stop or even contest Wagner’s march on Moscow, and suggests that the Kremlin has not ruled out the risk of future such rebellions.
Russian authorities are absolving Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin of financial responsibility for damages caused by the Wagner Group rebellion and reportedly returned significant liquid assets to Prigozhin, possibly as part of the deal negotiated between Putin, Prigozhin, and Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko. The Rostov-on-Don administration claimed that the total damages from Prigozhin’s rebellion amounted to 92.5 million rubles (roughly $1 million), and that the administration will not recover damages from Prigozhin or the Wagner Group. St. Petersburg news outlet Fontanka claimed, citing internal sources, that Russian authorities returned over 10 billion rubles (roughly $111 million) in cash, five gold bars, and hundreds of thousands of US dollars in cash to Prigozhin on July 2 that authorities had seized from Prigozhin-affiliated facilities in St. Petersburg on June 24. Fontanka claimed that authorities only reversed their decision to hold onto Prigozhin‘s liquid assets on July 2 but did not specify a reason for the reversal. The legal basis that Russian authorities would have had for seizing Prigozhin’s assets remains unclear in any case, as Russian authorities dropped criminal charges against Prigozhin for the rebellion. A prominent Russian milblogger claimed that part of Prigozhin’s liquid assets were supposed to be compensation to the families of Russian pilots whom Wagner forces killed during the rebellion, but it is now uncertain whether Wagner will make those payments. The milblogger assessed that Wagner will likely use at least part of the returned assets to support transferring Wagner Group personnel to Belarus.
The official Chechen response to an attack against a Russian opposition journalist in Chechnya may impact Chechen Republic Head Ramzan Kadyrov’s standing in the Russian ultranationalist information space. Russian opposition outlet Novaya Gazeta reported on July 4 that unspecified, masked actors in Grozny, Chechnya intercepted a car containing one of its journalists, Yelena Milashina, severely assaulted Milashina, destroyed her equipment and documents, and warned Milashina against writing “anything.” Milashina traveled to Chechnya in order to cover the trial of Zarema Musayeva, the mother of an exiled Chechen opposition activist, and the attackers also assaulted Musayeva’s lawyer, Alexander Nemov, who was in the car with Milashina. Chechen courts sentenced Musayeva to five and a half years in prison on July 5 for alleged fraud and attacking Chechen authorities, but some Russian opposition voices claimed that Chechen authorities prosecuted Musayeva due to her son‘s activism. Prominent Russian ultranationalist voices seized on Milashina’s attack despite its lack of relevance to the war in Ukraine likely out of concern for broader press censorship. The voices condemned attacks against journalists – including Milashina – as unacceptable even though they disagree with Milashina. The Russian Union of Journalists and the Russian Human Rights Council both issued statements of condemnation and opened investigations into the attack.
Kadyrov’s prominence in the broader Russian information space will likely force Kadyrov to choose between preserving his regime and his support in the ultranationalist information space, however. Kadyrov’s response was a brief acknowledgment that the relevant Chechen authorities are investigating the ”incident” - a response inconsistent in tone and content with Kadyrov’s usual flamboyant, long-winded messaging. Kadyrov previously condemned Milashina as a ”terrorist” and demanded her detention, which is largely consistent with his overall effort to retain his authoritarian rule in Chechnya. If Kadyrov supports the investigation into Milashina’s attack, he risks undermining his domestic regime and crackdowns against Chechen opposition voices. But if Kadyrov refuses to support the investigation, then he risks undermining his standing within an information space that is hypersensitive to the prospect of increased censorship. Kadyrov already struggles to balance these dual aims in his force arrayment in Ukraine; Kadyrov portrays Akhmat forces as capable fighters against Ukraine but has simultaneously largely avoided committing them intensive and attritional combat, and some Russian milbloggers have complained that Chechen forces are distracted posing online while other Russian forces actually fight. Chechen forces notably failed to engage Prigozhin’s rebels despite ostentatiously mobilizing and moving ostensibly to fight them, although Putin might have directed Kadyrov to avoid combat with Wagner forces.
Russia is reportedly forming a new combined arms army as part of the Northern Fleet, likely in order to posture its preparedness against NATO. Russian news outlet Izvestia reported that Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) sources claimed that the existing 14th Army Corps of the Northern Fleet will be reformed into the new combined arms army with motorized rifle brigades, divisions, and regiments subordinate to it. Izvestia suggested that the 14th Army Corps‘ 200th and 80th Brigades will be reorganized into a division under the new combined arms army. Russian army corps before the 2022 invasion of Ukraine existed only within fleets and largely performed the same functions as combined arms armies. The reported decision to form a new combined arms army is thus likely posturing ahead of the NATO summit on July 11-12 intended to show Russia’s military response to the accession of Finland and possibly Sweden to the alliance. The promotion of the 14th Army Corps to a combined arms army level will not by itself increase Russian combat capacity, and it is unclear where the Russian military leadership could find the personnel and equipment that would be needed for the new organization to generate a material difference.
The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted a drone attack on Moscow Oblast and Novaya Moskva on July 4. The Russian MoD claimed that Russian air defenses shot down and electronic warfare suppressed five of five Ukrainian drones. Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian air defenses destroyed two drones near Valuevo, electronic warfare suppressed one in the Odinstovo Raion, one drone fell near Krivosheino, and one flew toward a military unit in Kubinka - likely the Russian airbase there. One Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces may have intended to strike Vnukovo Airport, and Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced that Russian authorities temporarily redirected some flights from Vnukovo Airport in response to the drones. Another milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces may have conducted the drone attack in retaliation for an alleged Russian strike on a Ukrainian Security Services (SBU) building in Sumy Oblast.
- Ukrainian forces appear to be focusing on creating an asymmetrical attrition gradient that conserves Ukrainian manpower at the cost of a slower rate of territorial gains, while gradually wearing down Russian manpower and equipment. The current pace of Ukrainian operations is not indicative of a stalemate or evidence that Ukraine cannot retake large areas.
- Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations on at least four sectors of the front and advanced on July 4.
- Russian and Ukrainian officials escalated their rhetoric surrounding the situation at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) on July 5, but Russia is likely focused on accusing Ukraine of irresponsible actions around the ZNPP including setting conditions for a possible false flag attack. Russia remains unlikely to generate a radiological incident at the ZNPP at this time.
- The reported reorganization of Russian internal security organs suggests that the Kremlin has not yet concluded that it has effectively neutralized the threats of future armed rebellions following the Wagner Group’s June 23-24 rebellion.
- Russian authorities are absolving Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin of financial responsibility for damages caused by the Wagner Group rebellion and reportedly returned significant liquid assets to Prigozhin, possibly as part of the deal negotiated between Putin, Prigozhin, and Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko.
- The official Chechen response to an attack against a Russian opposition journalist in Chechnya may impact Chechen Republic Head Ramzan Kadyrov’s standing in the Russian ultranationalist information space.
- Kadyrov’s prominence in the broader Russian information space will likely force Kadyrov to choose between preserving his regime and his support in the ultranationalist information space, however.
- Russia is reportedly forming a new combined arms army as part of the Northern Fleet, likely in order to posture its preparedness against NATO.
- The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted a drone attack on Moscow Oblast and Novaya Moskva on July 4.
- Russian conducted limited ground attacks along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line and south of Kreminna.
- Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted limited ground attacks along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line.
- Russian and Ukrainian forces escalated ground attacks in the Bakhmut area.
- Russian forces continued ground attacks along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line on July 4.
- Russian and Ukrainian forces conducted ground attacks in western Donetsk Oblast.
- Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations near Orikhiv in western Zaporizhia Oblast.
- Russia continues efforts to mobilize its defense industrial base (DIB).
- Russian officials continue to deport Ukrainian children to Russia under the guise of providing pediatric healthcare.
We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because these 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 the Ukrainian 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.
- Russian Main Effort – Eastern Ukraine (comprised of two subordinate main efforts)
- Russian Subordinate Main Effort #1 – Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and encircle northern Donetsk Oblast
- Russian Subordinate Main Effort #2 – Capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast
- Russian Supporting Effort – Southern Axis
- Russian Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts
- Activities in Russian-occupied areas
Russian Main Effort – Eastern Ukraine
Russian Subordinate Main Effort #1 – Luhansk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and northern Donetsk Oblast)
The Ukrainian General Staff reported on July 4 that Russian sabotage and reconnaissance groups made unsuccessful attempts to cross the northern international border between Ukraine and Russia in unspecified areas in the Siversk and Slobozhansk directions.
Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line and south of Kreminna on July 4. Geolocated footage published on July 4 shows that Russian forces made limited advances east of Nevske (18km northwest of Kreminna). The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations near Novoselivske (15km northwest of Svatove), Novovodyane (16km southwest of Svatove), Dibrova (7km southwest of Kreminna), the Serebrianske forest area (10km south of Kreminna), and Vesele (30km south of Kreminna). A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian and Ukrainian forces attempted to advance in the Svatove direction and that Russian forces conducted attacks near Kuzemivka (14km northwest of Svatove). Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Serhiy Cherevaty reported on June 3 that Russian forces have about 180,000 troops in the area of responsibility of the Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces, 120,000 of which are operating in the Kupyansk-Lyman direction, including Airborne (VDV) forces, mechanized units, BARS (Russian Combat Reserve) units, Territorial Defense units, and Storm-Z assault units. Footage published on July 4 purportedly shows the 123rd Motorized Rifle Brigade (2nd Luhansk People’s Republic Army Corps) operating near Spirne (25km south of Kreminna).
Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted limited ground attacks along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line on July 4. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that Russian forces repelled a Ukrainian attack near Novoselivske, Novovodyane, and Yampolivka (16km west of Kreminna). Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted unsuccessful ground attacks from Torske (16km west of Kreminna) and that artillery and UAV units of the Russian 120th Guards Artillery Brigade (41st Combined Arms Army, Central Military District) repelled Ukrainian attacks near Dibrova.
Russian Subordinate Main Effort #2 – Donetsk Oblast (Russian Objective: Capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)
Russian and Ukrainian forces escalated ground attacks in the Bakhmut area on July 4. Ukranian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar reported that the situation in Bakhmut has escalated, and that Russian and Ukrainian forces are dueling for the initiative and control of terrain. Malyar also stated that Ukrainian forces are advancing on the southern flank of Klishchiivka (7km southwest of Bakhmut) and that fighting continues on Klishchiivka’s northern flank. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled nine Russian attacks near Hryhorivka (8km northwest of Bakhmut), Bohdanivka (5km northwest of Bakhmut), Ivanivske (6km west of Bakhmut), west of Yahidne (2km north of Bakhmut), and southeast of Bila Hora (15km southwest of Bakhmut). The Ukrainian General Staff also reported that Ukrainian forces conducted offensive operations north and south of Bakhmut, entrenching themselves in new positions. Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces advanced near Dubovo-Vasylivka (6km northwest of Bakhmut). A Russian milblogger also claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted offensive operations near Klishchiivka, Ozarianivka (16km southwest of Bakhmut), and Kurdiumivka (12km southwest of Bakhmut). The milblogger claimed that Russian forces held their positions and counterattacked from Berkhivka (6km north of Bakhmut) and along the M-03 highway in the direction of Minkivka (13km northwest of Bakhmut). The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that units of the Russian Southern Group of Forces repelled 10 Ukrainian attacks near Orikhovo-Vasylivka (11km northwest of Bakhmut), Yahidne, and Klishchivka.
Pervasive issues with Russian combat capabilities likely continue to affect the ability of Russian forces to defend against Ukrainian counterattacks in the Bakhmut area. Former Russian officer and prominent critical milblogger Igor Girkin claimed that Ukrainian forces are advancing north of Bakhmut where understaffed units of the Russian 3rd Army Corps (Western Military District) have been deployed. ISW previously reported the formation and failure of the 3rd Army Corps, a new formation created in 2022 that was decimated during its first deployment to Kharkiv Oblast in September 2022 and again in its subsequent deployments to the Bakhmut area. ISW previously assessed that issues with the ad hoc commitment of various depleted force groupings to the Bakhmut axis, alongside apparent command and control failures, were likely preventing Russian forces in the area from conducting sound defensive operations and would likely offer Ukrainian forces opportunities to exploit with limited counterattacks.
Russian forces continued ground attacks along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line on July 4. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces defended against Russian offensive operations near Avdiivka and repelled 15 Russian ground attacks near Marinka (on the southwestern outskirts of Donetsk City). A Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations in the Avdiivka direction. Another milblogger claimed that Russian forces carried out unsuccessful offensive operations in Marinka and on the southwestern approach to Avdiivka.
Russian Supporting Effort – Southern Axis (Russian objective: Maintain frontline positions and secure rear areas against Ukrainian strikes)
Russian and Ukrainian forces conducted ground attacks in western Donetsk Oblast on July 4. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations near Rivnopil, 10km southwest of Velyka Novosilka along the western Donetsk-eastern Zaporizhia Oblast border. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that Russian forces repelled Ukrainian attacks in the Vuhledar area east of Velyka Novosilka and south of Velyka Novosilka near Urozhaine. A Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces reached the borders of Pryyutne, 15km southwest of Velyka Novosilka in eastern Zaporizhia Oblast. Ukrainian Tavrisk Direction Spokesperson Valeriy Shershen noted on July 4 that Ukrainian forces have advanced up to 2km into Russian defenses in an unspecified area of the Berdyansk (western Donetsk-eastern Zaporizhia oblasts) direction.
Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations near Orikhiv in western Zaporizhia Oblast on July 4. Geolocated footage posted on July 4 shows elements of the 810th Naval Infantry Brigade (Black Sea Fleet) and 58th Combined Arms Army (Southern Military District) shelling Ukrainian positions south of Orikhiv, indicating that Ukrainian forces have advanced to within 2km north of Robotyne. Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces continued attacks towards Robotyne but that elements of the 70th Motorized Rifle Regiment (42nd Motorized Rifle Division, 58th Combined Arms Army, Southern Military District) repelled Ukrainian attacks west of Robotyne. Russian milbloggers additionally claimed that several small Ukrainian assault groups launched an attack southwest of Orikhiv towards the Pyatykhatyky-Zherebryanky line (about 25km southwest of Orikhiv) and reported that elements of the Crimea and Sudoplatov volunteer battalions and the 429th Motorized Rifle Regiment (19th Motorized Rifle Division, 58th Combined Arms Army, Southern Military District) are defending in this area.
Ukrainian forces conducted a strike in the Russian rear of occupied Zaporizhia Oblast on July 4. Geolocated footage posted on July 4 shows the aftermath of a reported Ukrainian Storm Shadow missile strike on an unspecified Russian warehouse facility in Yakymivka, about 23km southwest of Melitopol along the T2209 Melitopol-Chonhar highway. Russian sources additionally claimed that Ukrainian forces struck Vasylivka (35km north of Melitopol along the E105 highway).
Russian sources continued to claim that Ukrainian forces are active near the Antonivsky Bridge on the east (left) bank of Kherson Oblast despite the Russian MoD’s efforts to claim that Russian forces have full control of this area. One Russian milblogger claimed that there are heavy battles ongoing near the Antonivsky Bridge, and another warned that Ukrainian troops are regrouping and replenishing units to prepare for further attacks across the Dnipro River. The Russian MoD claimed on July 1 that Russian troops fully restored their positions along the eastern shoreline of the Dnipro River, but milbloggers have continued to warn that Ukrainian forces maintain a presence on the east bank and are preparing for additional attacks. Ukrainian Southern Operational Command Spokesperson Nataliya Humenyuk also noted that Russian forces near the Dnipro River are trying to retake positions previously flooded by the explosion of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant (KHPP) dam.
An influx of Russian tourists to Crimea is generating serious traffic jams along one of Russia’s most important ground lines of communication, prompting Putin and other senior Russian officials to direct state resources to help tourists move closer to a zone of active hostilities. Russian Transport Minister Vitaly Saveliev met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 4 to report on the situation at the entrance to the Kerch Strait Bridge and to ask for increased ferry crossings to reduce traffic jams. Putin called for maximizing the use of ferries to ”normalize” the transport situation across the Kerch Strait and indicated that the Russian MoD should also lend transport assets to the area. A Russian milblogger claimed that the traffic at the entrance of the Kerch Strait Bridge in Krasnodar Krai has increased by 40% since July 1 and is expected to increase further in the coming days as the summer tourist season is in full swing. Another Russian milblogger called on the Black Sea Fleet to provide two large landing ships for the crossing of civilian vehicles to solve traffic issues and emphasized that Russian authorities have seriously underestimated the desire of Russians to continue vacationing in occupied Crimea despite ongoing hostilities. Russian authorities are dealing with pervasive civilian and transport issues to Crimea partially because of their continued refusal to fully mobilize Russian society onto a wartime footing, resulting in the continued promotion of tourism to occupied Crimea despite the fact it is a legitimate rear-area target for continued Ukrainian strikes.
Russian Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts (Russian objective: Expand combat power without conducting general mobilization)
Russia continues efforts to mobilize its defense industrial base (DIB). Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov, and unspecified other military leaders and DIB representatives discussed the implementation of the Russian state defense order to increase DIB production, but the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) did not provide details on the topics discussed or agreed plans. Yelabuga, Tatarstan regional entity “Alabuga Start” advertised a program for women aged 16 to 22 to develop careers building drones. The program claims to offer benefits including a 52,000 ruble ($577) monthly salary, training, housing, relocation aid, and opportunities for further education. ISW has previously reported that a Russo-Iranian contract is providing for the manufacture of Shahed drones in the Alabuga Special Economic Zone (SEZ).
Russian officials continue to posture Russia as able to generate enough manpower to maintain the war effort in Ukraine. Russian Security Council Deputy Chairperson Dmitry Medvedev claimed that Russian forces have recruited over 185,000 contract and conscripted personnel since January 1, 2023, 109,000 of whom are in reserve. Medvedev claimed that Russian forces recruited 1,400 people per day for contract service in June 2023.
Russia continues efforts to expand international military cooperation. Russian Navy Commander-in-Chief Nikolai Yevmenov and Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu met in Beijing on July 3 and discussed ongoing mutual cooperation and organizing joint military exercises. Russian Deputy Defense Minister Colonel General Alexander Fomin met with Kuwaiti Army Assistant Chief of Staff Brigadier General Fawaz Al-Harbi in Moscow on July 4 and confirmed Russian and Kuwaiti intent to further defense cooperation.
Activities in Russian-occupied areas (Russian objective: Consolidate administrative control of annexed areas; forcibly integrate Ukrainian civilians into Russian sociocultural, economic, military, and governance systems)
Russian officials continue to deport Ukrainian children to Russia under the guise of providing pediatric healthcare. Russian Commissioner for Children's Rights Maria Lvova-Belova claimed on July 4 that Russian authorities sent 23 disabled children from occupied Donetsk Oblast to a rehabilitation center in Krasnogorsk, Moscow Oblast and 12 children to a rehabilitation center in Elektrostal, Moscow Oblast. Lvova-Belova claimed that Russian authorities plan to send about 370 more children in at least four more trips to rehabilitation centers by the end of 2023. Lvova-Belova did not specify if the children have returned or will return to occupied Donetsk Oblast. ISW has previously reported on Russian authorities using access to pediatric healthcare as a guise to deport children in occupied Ukraine to Russia.
Significant activity in Belarus (Russian efforts to increase its military presence in Belarus and further integrate Belarus into Russian-favorable frameworks).
ISW will continue to report daily observed Russian and Belarusian military activity in Belarus, as part of ongoing Kremlin efforts to increase their control over Belarus and other Russian actions in Belarus.
Nothing significant to report.
Note: ISW does not receive any classified material from any source, uses only publicly available information, and draws extensively on Russian, Ukrainian, and Western reporting and social media as well as commercially available satellite imagery and other geospatial data as the basis for these reports. References to all sources used are provided in the endnotes of each update.
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 https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-june-5-2023; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-may-31-2023; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-june-2-2023 ; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-june-24-2023
 https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Russian%20Offensive%20Campaign%20Assessment%2C%20May%2031%2C%202023%20PDF.pdf; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign...
 https://t.me/mod_russia/28057; https://t.me/mod_russia/28057; https://t.me/severrealii/18203 ; https://t.me/shot_shot/53667 ; https://t.me/shot_shot/53668 ; https://t.me/svobodnieslova/2376 ; https://t.me/bazabazon/19166 ; https://t.me/sotaproject/62267; https://t.me/vrogov/10743; https://t.me/istories_media/2957; https://t.me/astrapress/31717; https://t.me/astrapress/31721; https://t.me/astrapress/31723; https://t.me/astrapress/31724 ; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/48938 ; https://t.me/milinfolive/103099 ; https://t.me/milinfolive/103100 ; https://t.me/milinfolive/103102 ; https://t.me/milinfolive/103107
 https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02A52T2ugTVhiavau9evCzYCUKw7ZJdEccNPotT5BoeWZaKcopvwQGEWDWtirJjwTfl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02pkdwwHKJ5eZcJc9FQ6u2pJAfj4vkxsmmVQTVdqqNbJFGN4KTPEKy7wywg3ATtH9ol ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02A52T2ugTVhiavau9evCzYCUKw7ZJdEccNPotT5BoeWZaKcopvwQGEWDWtirJjwTfl
 https://suspilne dot media/521387-na-berdanskomu-napramku-zaporizkoi-oblasti-vijskovi-zsu-prosunulisa-do-dvoh-kilometriv-vpered/; https://www.facebook.com/PresscentrTavria/videos/932914671129838/
 https://t.me/rybar/49306; https://t.me/batalyon15/2205; https://t.me/batalyon15/2202; https://t.me/batalyon15/2200; https://t.me/negumanitarnaya_pomosch_Z/8536; https://t.me/voin_dv/3520; https://t.me/rusich_army/9742; https://t.me/rusich_army/9741; https://t.me/rusich_army/9739; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/48667
 https://t.me/boris_rozhin/91146; https://t.me/readovkanews/61932; https://t.me/dva_majors/20233; https://t.me/dva_majors/20234; https://t.me/dva_majors/20196 ; https://t.me/russkiy_opolchenec/37139
 https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-july-1-2023; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-july-2-2023; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-ass...
 http://www.mod.gov dot cn/gfbw/qwfb/16234721.html; https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-07-03/china-says-it-wants-m...