Latest Russian Offensive Assessment

Latest Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment

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ISW LogoRussian Offensive Campaign AssessmentKateryna Stepanenko, Katherine Lawlor, Karolina Hird, Angela Howard, and Frederick W. KaganAugust 3, 8:30pm ETClick 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 are likely using Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in Enerhodar to play on Western fears of a nuclear disaster in Ukraine, likely in an effort to degrade Western will to provide military support to a Ukrainian counteroffensive. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi said on August 3 that Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), which is currently occupied by Russian forces, is “completely out of control” and that “every principle of nuclear safety has been violated” at the plant. He warned that Russian forces are not respecting the physical integrity of the plant and pleaded with Russia and Ukraine to quickly facilitate a visit of IAEA monitors to the complex. Russian Zaporizhia Occupation Administration Head Evgeniy Balitskyi responded that the IAEA was welcome at the plant: “We are ready to show how the Russian military guards it today, and how Ukraine, which receives weapons from the West, uses these weapons, including drones, to attack the nuclear plant, acting like a monkey with a grenade.” Russian officials are framing Ukraine as irresponsibly using Western-provided weapons and risking nuclear disaster to dissuade Western and other allied states from providing additional military support to Ukraine’s looming southern counteroffensive.Russian forces based around the NPP have attacked Ukrainian positions in Nikopol and elsewhere in recent weeks, intentionally putting Ukraine in a difficult position—either Ukraine returns fire, risking international condemnation and a nuclear incident (which Ukrainian forces are unlikely to do), or Ukrainian forces allow Russian forces to continue firing on Ukrainian positions from an effective “safe zone.” Ukrainian Mayor of Enerhodar Dmytro Orlov reported on August 3 that Russian forces launched rockets on Enerhodar from neighboring villages to falsely accuse Ukrainian forces of shelling Enerhodar and endangering the NPP. ISW assessed on July 21 that Russian forces may be storing heavy military equipment in the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in Enerhodar to protect it from Ukrainian strikes. Russian forces have also likely staged false flag attacks around Enerhodar since early July, as ISW previously reported.Key Takeaways:Russian forces are likely using Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in Enerhodar to play on Western fears of a nuclear disaster in Ukraine, attempting to thereby degrade the will of Western powers to provide military support to a Ukrainian counteroffensive.Russian forces likely set fire to the prison complex holding Ukrainian POWs in occupied Donetsk Oblast but blamed Ukraine for an alleged precision strike using Western-supplied military equipment, likely to increase US hesitancy to continue providing HIMARS to Ukraine.Moscow is likely to continue efforts to leverage its relationship with Tehran in order to secure drones for use in Ukraine.Russian forces conducted a limited ground attack northwest of Slovyansk and continued efforts to advance on Bakhmut from the northeast, east, and southeast.Russian forces are prioritizing frontal assaults on Avdiivka and failed to gain ground in Pisky.Russian forces are reportedly forming a strike group to prevent Ukrainian counteroffensives in northern Kherson Oblast or counterattack against them.Russian occupation authorities may allow both in-person and online voting in upcoming pseudo-referenda on the annexation of occupied Ukrainian territory into Russia, enabling more straightforward Russian vote rigging.Click here to read the full report.The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) is a non-partisan, non-profit, public policy research organization. ISW advances an informed understanding of military affairs through reliable research, trusted analysis, and innovative education. We are committed to improving the nation’s ability to execute military operations and respond to emerging threats in order to achieve US strategic objectives.Donate online or by sending a check to the Institute for the Study of War at 1400 16th Street NW, Suite #515, Washington, DC, 20036. Please consider including the Institute for the Study of War in your estate plans.To learn about further ways to get involved, please contact ISW’s Business Development Director, Megan Beth Lott, at mlott@understandingwar.org or (202) 293-5550 ext. 209.ISW is a tax-exempt organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donations are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
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