Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, October 11
Karolina Hird, George Barros, Kateryna Stepanenko, Grace Mappes, Riley Bailey, and Frederick W. Kagan
October 11, 8:15 pm 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.
Russian forces conducted massive missile strikes across Ukraine for the second day in a row on October 11. The Ukrainian General Staff stated that Russian forces fired nearly 30 Kh-101 and Kh-55 cruise missiles from Tu-95 and Tu-160 strategic bombers and damaged critical infrastructure in Lviv, Vinnytsia, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, and Zaporizhia oblasts. Ukrainian air defense reportedly destroyed 21 cruise missiles and 11 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Social media footage shows the aftermath of strikes throughout Ukraine. Russian forces additionally continued to launch attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure with Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian air defense destroyed eight Shahed-136 drones in Mykolaiv Oblast on the night of October 10 and 11.
Army General Sergey Surovikin’s previous experience as commander of Russian Armed Forces in Syria likely does not explain the massive wave of missile strikes across Ukraine over the past few days, nor does it signal a change in the trajectory of Russian capabilities or strategy in Ukraine. Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) representative, Andriy Yusov, linked the recent strikes to Surovikin’s appointment as theatre commander and stated on October 11 that “throwing rockets at civilian infrastructure objects” is consistent with Surovikin’s tactics in Syria. However, Surovikin has been serving in Ukraine (as the Commander of the Russian Aerospace Forces and then reportedly of the southern grouping of Russian forces) since the beginning of the war, as have many senior Russian commanders similarly associated with Russian operations in Syria. Army General Aleksandr Dvornikov, who was appointed in April to the role that Surovikin now holds, similarly commanded Russian forces in Syria between 2015-2016 and became known for deliberately and brutally targeting civilians. Colonel General Aleksandr Chayko, the former commander of the Eastern Military District who took an active part in the first stages of the war in Ukraine, also served as Chief of Staff of Russian forces in Syria from 2015 and into 2016. As ISW noted in April, all Russian military district, aerospace, and airborne commanders served at least one tour in Syria as either chief of staff or commander of Russian forces, and Russian forces deliberately targeted civilian infrastructure including hospitals and breadlines throughout the period of Russia’s active engagement in that war. Disregard for international law and an enthusiasm for brutalizing civilian populations was standard operating procedure for Russian forces in Syria before, during, and after Surovikin’s tenure. It has become part of the Russian way of war.
Surovikin’s appointment will not lead to further “Syrianization” of Russian operations in Ukraine because the battlespace in Ukraine is fundamentally different from the battlespace in Syria, and direct comparisons to Surovikin’s Syrian “playbook” obfuscate the fact that Russia faces very different challenges in Ukraine. Russia cannot further “Syrianize” the war largely because of its failure to gain air superiority, which precludes its ability to launch the kind of massive carpet-bombing campaigns across Ukraine that it could, and did, conduct in Syria. ISW has previously assessed that Russian air operations would have been markedly different if conducted in contested airspace or a more challenging air-defense environment, as is the case in Ukraine. It is therefore highly unlikely that Surovikin’s role as theatre commander will cause a fundamental change in Russian air and missile operations in Ukraine as long as Ukraine’s Western backers continue to supply Kyiv with the air defenses needed to prevent Russia from gaining air superiority.
Russian military officials may instead have coordinated Surovikin’s appointment and the October 10 cruise missile strikes on Ukrainian critical infrastructure to rehabilitate the perception of the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD). Whoever was appointed as theatre commander would have overseen the October 10 cruise missile strikes, which Ukrainian intelligence reported had been planned as early as October 2 (and which Surovikin certainly did not plan, prepare for, and conduct on the day of his appointment). Russian milbloggers have recently lauded both the massive wave of strikes on October 10 and Surovikin’s appointment and correlated the two as positive developments for Russian operations in Ukraine. This narrative may be aligned with ongoing Russian information operations to rehabilitate the reputation of Central Military District Command Colonel General Aleksandr Lapin following Russian failures around Lyman as part of a wider campaign to bolster public opinion of the Russian military establishment. The Russian MoD is evidently invested in repairing its public image, and the informational effects of the October 10 missile strikes and the appointment of Surovikin, a hero in the extremist nationalist Russian information space, are likely intended to cater to the most vocal voices in that space.
The Russian Federation is likely extracting ammunition and other materiel from Belarusian storage bases—activity that is incompatible with setting conditions for a large-scale Russian or Belarusian ground attack against Ukraine from Belarus. The Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported on October 11 that a train with 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 past date. 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 report. Geolocated footage showed at least two Belarusian trains transporting Belarusian T-72 tanks and Ural military trucks in Minsk and Tor-M2 surface-to-air missile launchers in Orsha (Vitebsk Oblast) on October 11. Belarusian equipment movements into Russia indicate that Russian and Belarusian forces likely are not establishing assembly areas in Belarus. Belarusian equipment and supply movements to Crimea and Rostov Oblast indicate that Russian forces are less confident about the security of Russian ground lines of communication running through northern and western Luhansk Oblast given the ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensive there. Ukraine’s General Staff reiterated that it monitors Belarus and has not observed indicators of the formation of offensive groups in Belarus on October 11. Russian and or Belarusian forces remain unlikely to attack Ukraine from Belarus, as ISW has previously assessed.
Belarus remains a co-belligerent in Russia’s war against Ukraine, nonetheless. Belarus materially supports Russian offensives in Ukraine and provides Russian forces with havens from which to attack Ukraine with precision munitions. Russian forces struck Kyiv with Shahed-136 drones launched from Belarusian territory on October 10. The GUR additionally reported that Russia deployed 32 Shahed-136 drones to Belarus as of October 10 and that Russia will deploy eight more to Belarus by October 14.
- Russian forces conducted massive missile strikes across Ukraine for the second day in a row.
- Army General Sergey Surovikin’s previous experience as commander of Russian Armed Forces in Syria is likely unrelated to the massive wave of missile strikes across Ukraine over the past few days, nor does it signal a change in the trajectory of Russian capabilities or strategy in Ukraine.
- The Russian Federation is likely extracting ammunition and other materiel from Belarusian storage bases, which is incompatible with the notion that Russian forces are setting conditions for a ground attack against Ukraine from Belarus.
- Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces continued to conduct counteroffensives east of the Oskil River and in the direction of Kreminna-Svatove.
- Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian troops continued ground attacks in northern and western Kherson Oblast.
- Ukrainian forces are continuing an interdiction campaign to target Russian military, technical, and logistics assets and concentration areas in Kherson Oblast.
- Russian forces continued to conduct ground assaults in Donetsk Oblast.
- Russian reporting of explosions in Dzhankoy, Crimea, indicated panic over losing further logistics capabilities in Crimea following the Kerch Strait Bridge explosion.
- Russian federal subjects are announcing new extensions and phases of mobilization in select regions, which may indicate that they have not met their mobilization quotas.
- Russian and occupation administration officials continue to conduct filtration activities in Russian-occupied territories.
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). 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.  A Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces are regrouping and restoring combat capabilities near Kupyansk to prepare for assaults near the Pershotravneve-Kyslivka line. 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. 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. 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). Luhansk Oblast Head Serhiy Haidai also reported that Russian forces are continuing to mine territory in Luhansk Oblast to slow Ukrainian counteroffensive operations. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted routine indirect fire along the Oskil River-Kreminna line on October 11.
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. 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. 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. 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). 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. 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. Imagery posted on October 11 additionally shows damage to the Antonivsky Bridge in Kherson City following a Ukrainian HIMARS strike. Geolocated footage shows a Ukrainian RAM II loitering munition striking a Russian Osa air defense system near Kyselivka, 17km northwest of Kherson City.
Russian Main Effort—Eastern Ukraine
Russian Subordinate Main Effort—Donetsk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)
Russian forces continued to conduct ground assaults in Donetsk Oblast on October 11. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian ground assaults near Bakhmut itself, northeast of Bakhkmut near Soledar and Bakhmutske, and south of Bakhmut near Mykolaivka and Mayorsk. A Russian source stated that Russian forces tried to advance in the areas of Ozeryanivka south of Bakhmut and Kamianka, southeast of Bakhmut on the N20 highway. The Ukrainian General Staff also reported that Ukrainian forces repelled a Russian ground assault west of Avdiivka near Pervomaiske. A Russian source claimed that Russian forces conducted ground assaults in the directions of Nevelske and Pervomaiske. The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed that Russian forces repelled three Ukrainian tactical company groups near Mykilske, Novomayorske, and Stepne in western Donetsk Oblast.
Supporting Effort—Southern Axis (Russian objective: Maintain frontline positions and secure rear areas against Ukrainian strikes)
Russian forces continued routine artillery, air, and missile strikes west of Hulyaipole, and in Dnipropetrovsk, Mykolaiv, and Odesa oblasts on October 10. Russian and Ukrainian sources reported that Russian forces struck Zaporizhia City, Mykolaiv City, Kryvyi Rih, Dnipro City, and unspecified locations in Odesa Oblast. Ukrainian sources also stated that Russian forces fired on Kutsurub Hromada, Mykolaiv Oblast, from positions on the Kinburn Spit in Mykolaiv Oblast.
Russian sources reported explosions in Dzhankoy, Crimea, on October 11. A Russian milblogger reported that the explosion occurred at a rail junction between the Kherson-Kerch and Kharkiv-Sevastopol rail lines but did not identify a cause. The source noted that the only logistics route through Crimea that supplies Russian forces in southern Ukraine runs through Dzhankoy. Russian news outlet Baza reported that a Russian tank accidentally fired while undergoing repairs, striking a house in Dzhankoy and wounding a child. The reporting and claims over this incident indicate Russian panic over losing further logistics capabilities in Crimea following the Kerch Strait Bridge explosion.
Russian occupation authorities intensified efforts to strengthen their physical control over the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) in occupied Enerhodar, likely to set conditions to take control over ZNPP operations and integrate the ZNPP into the Russian power grid. Ukrainian nuclear agency Energoatom reported that Russian occupation authorities kidnapped and tortured the ZNPP’s Deputy General Director Valeriy Martynyuk on October 10 and continue to hold Martynyuk in an unknown location. Energoatom stated that Russian occupation authorities are torturing Martynyuk to obtain personal information about ZNPP personnel to force them into working for Russian nuclear agency Rosatom instead. Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) stated that occupation authorities are forcing ZNPP personnel to sign contracts with Rosatom and use Russian passports for official work. Energoatom stated that Russian authorities have begun transporting beds, mattresses, heaters, and other household items to the ZNPP. Energoatom stated that Russian authorities are either trying to establish a winter base at the ZNPP or intend to take Ukrainian ZNPP personnel hostage as they did during the occupation of the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant in February and March 2022. Zaporizhia Occupation Administration Council Member Vladimir Rogov stated that the ZNPP has been reconnected to external power lines but that it is too early to talk about restarting the reactors.
Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts (Russian objective: Expand combat power without conducting general mobilization)
The Russian military command continues to deploy newly mobilized servicemen without combat training to frontlines in eastern and southern Ukraine. Luhansk Oblast Administration Head Serhiy Haidai reported that “thousands” of mobilized men are arriving in Luhansk Oblast but noted that only the first groups of these servicemen have any type of military experience. A Ukrainian Telegram channel uploaded a video of Russian mobilized men complaining about their deployment to Svatove from Moscow Oblast only 11 days after being drafted and despite their minimal or nonexistent military experience. Russian forces are also training mobilized men in occupied Ukrainian regions. A member of the Zaporizhia Oblast occupation administration, Vladimir Rogov, stated that Russian mobilized personnel are undergoing training in the suburbs of Melitopol. Footage also shows mobilized personnel reportedly training in occupied Luhansk Oblast. Mariupol Mayor’s Advisor Petro Andryushenko noted that the arrival of Russian military equipment in the direction of Manhush west of Mariupol, stating that Russian forces may be establishing a training center for the mobilized in the settlement. The Ukrainian General Staff emphasized that the deployment of mobilized Russians to Ukraine will not undermine Ukrainian forces’ counteroffensives.
Russian federal subjects are announcing new phases of mobilization in select regions. Rostov Oblast Governor Vasiliy Golubev noted stated that the oblast “received a new mobilization task” and stated that local enlistment commissions began the implementation of an unspecified mobilization order. Voronezh Oblast Governor Alexander Gusyev noted that mobilization activities will continue past October 10. It is unclear if these oblasts are launching a second mobilization wave or are following an entirely new mobilization order. It is possible that these oblasts could have failed to meet an initial mobilization quota and must extend their mobilization periods, a practice previously seen during the recruitment of volunteer battalions throughout the summer. A Russian milblogger even noted that Rostov and Kursk oblasts, despite having reported the completion of their mobilization orders, might need to continue their mobilization campaigns past the initial deadline to achieve original mobilization quotas.
Russian officials are continuing to use mobilization as a form of punishment against individuals who refuse the Kremlin’s mobilization orders. Governor of Magadan Oblast Sergey Nosov in a leaked conversation with subordinates demanded that they directly issue a mobilization order to the manager of the gold mining company for refusing to administer mobilization notices to his employees. An unnamed business owner told RFE/RL that local officials are extorting businessmen for 10 percent of their employees in exchange for exempting firms’ top employees from mobilization. The Kremlin has also mandated all Russian business owners to provide information regarding their employees to local military enlistment centers, and local officials may use these lists to coercively mobilize more men. Local officials may use the guise of mobilization to demand bribes from business owners; Ukrainian and Russian sources have reported the emergence of such organized corruption schemes within the Russian defense sector.
Russian enlistment officers continued to issue wrongful mobilization summonses and are increasingly attempting to coerce men to accept these notices. Russian authorities are issuing mobilization notices to deceased persons. St. Peterburg-based outlet Fontanka reported that employees of housing maintenance offices left mobilization notices on the doors of men who have been dead for years. RFE/RL shared accounts of wrongfully mobilized men who had stated that enlistment officers, despite knowing of their wrongful mobilization, attempted to physically and mentally coerce men into accepting their summons. Russian enlistment centers are likely continuing to mobilize exempt men to meet previously established mobilization quotas despite the Kremlin’s claims that it is addressing the issue of wrongful mobilization.
Some Russians continued to express resistance to mobilization throughout Russia. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that over a hundred mobilized men at an unspecified Eastern Military District training ground refuse to comply with command orders and are not leaving their barracks in protest of poor living and sanitary conditions. A Russian man attempted to commit arson against a military recruitment center in Ryazan Oblast, and unknown perpetrators threw Molotov cocktails at a city hall in Chelyabinsk Oblast.
Activity in Russian-occupied Areas (Russian objective: consolidate administrative control of occupied and annexed areas; forcibly integrate Ukrainian civilians into Russian sociocultural, economic, military, and governance systems)
Russian and occupation administration officials continue to conduct filtration activities in Russian-occupied territories on October 11. The Ukrainian Resistance Center reported that Russian forces are detaining the family members and friends of Ukrainian military and law enforcement personnel in Starobilsk, Luhansk Oblast. Mariupol City Advisor Petro Andryushenko claimed on October 11 that the Russian Federal Security Service and the Russian investigative committee have established a filtration center at the Central District Police Department in Mariupol, Donetsk Oblast. Andryushenko also claimed that Russian authorities established a torture chamber at the filtration facility where FSB personnel coerce confessions from detainees. Kharkiv Oblast Head Oleh Synehubov reported on October 11 that 37 children illegally taken from Kharkiv Oblast by Russian and occupation administration officials rejoined their parents in Zakarpattia Oblast. Russian and occupation administration officials continue to remove Ukrainian children from Russian-occupied territories. The Head of the Kherson occupation administration Vladimir Saldo is currently implementing a program to take up to 40,000 children and adults from Kherson Oblast to Russian-occupied Crimea and the Russian Federation. Russian and occupation administration officials will likely intensify filtration activities as Ukrainian counteroffensives progress.
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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