Russia changed its tactics and massively hits energy facilities. Civilians panic, but the course of the war doesnʼt change. We analyze the situation on the 240th day of the war — with maps

Oleksiy Yarmolenko
Tetyana Lohvynenko
Russia changed its tactics and massively hits energy facilities. Civilians panic, but the course of the war doesnʼt change. We analyze the situation on the 240th day of the war — with maps

Ukrainian tank fires at the occupiers near Bakhmut, October 19, 2022.

Getty Images / «Babel'»

Russian troops began to massively attack the facilities of the energy infrastructure of Ukraine. This has absolutely no effect on the situation at the frontline and is only intended to cause panic and discomfort in the civilian population. At the same time, the actual advance of the troops of both Ukraine and Russia has almost completely stopped. However, the Russians have begun a large-scale evacuation of civilians from the right bank of the Kherson region, which may indicate that they are preparing to leave the city.

Over the past 10 days, the situation at the front has not changed significantly. Neither Ukraine nor Russia had serious successes or breakthroughs and were limited to minor tactical advances. Ukrainian troops advanced in Kharkiv and Kherson regions, and Russian troops — near Bakhmut in the Donetsk region.

The Russians changed their tactics: they openly switched to the mass terror of civilians. Many people talked about the fact that on the eve of winter, the occupiers could attack Ukrainian energy facilities in order to disrupt the heating season and significantly worsen the living conditions of Ukrainians. On October 10, Russia began to carry out massive strikes on energy infrastructure objects. Both Iranian drones and cruise missiles are used for this. In a week and a half, Russian troops struck the Burshtyn TPP in the Ivano-Frankivsk region and the Ladyzhyn TPP in the Vinnytsia region, TPP-3, TPP-5, and TPP-6 in Kyiv, Prydniprovska TPP in Dnipro, and electrical substations throughout the country. It is not known what other targets the Russians had since the Ukrainian air defense forces shot down more than half of the missiles and drones launched by the occupiers.

According to President Volodymyr Zelensky, the Russians have already destroyed at least 30% of Ukrainian power plants. Because of this, in many cities, there are interruptions in light, communication, and water supply. In Ukraine, timed shutdowns have been introduced to balance the system, and the authorities strongly urge to conserve and not turn on electrical appliances that consume a lot of energy, especially during peak hours — in the morning and in the evening.

Shelling creates problems for the civilian population in the rear but does not affect the situation at the front. The goal of the Russians is to sow panic among Ukrainians, make their living conditions uncomfortable, and morally oppress them. Russia also wants to weaken the desire of Ukrainians to continue the war and encourage them to put pressure on the authorities and resume negotiations with the Kremlin. However, it seems that the strategy leads to the opposite results: it only increases the hatred of Russia and the desire to win as soon as possible.

Mobilization continues in Russia. After the first days, when the Russians meekly went with summonses to the military commissariat, the situation changed. Most likely, the Russian opposition media and politicians who are abroad were able to convey to a certain part of the men the information that failure to appear on a summons means only a small fine and not a long term in prison, and the Russian military commissars began to have problems with recruitment. Apparently, this is precisely why, from the very morning of October 14, Moscow and St. Petersburg resorted to real raids: summonses were issued in offices, on the streets, at the entrances to the subway, and in other places. All this scared the Russians and forced the Kremlin to react — on the same day, Putin reported that 222,000 people had already been mobilized and that the process would be completed within two weeks. Putin also said that 16 thousand mobilized people are already on the frontline. Asked by journalists whether they were sent there too quickly, he assured that “even 10 days” are enough for preparation.

This means that Russia does not have time for serious training of the mobilized. The occupiers right now need to try to stop the advance of Ukrainian troops and hold the territories they control. The mobilized will be able to close certain holes along the front line, but their combat quality will be extremely low, and itʼs impossible even to dream of a possible offensive.

Events also intensified in Belarus. Self-proclaimed President Alexander Lukashenko announced that a regional grouping of Belarusian and Russian troops would be deployed in the country. In Belarus, it was noted that approximately nine thousand Russians should come to the country. Also, Russian aviation, in particular MiG-31, capable of launching hypersonic missiles Kinzhal, were transferred to the Belarusian airfield in Machulyshchy. All this could indicate that Russia plans to fully involve Belarus in the war and use its army to advance again from Belarusian territory. However, there are factors that point to the opposite. Both Ukrainian intelligence and Belarusian activists assure that Russia is actively exporting equipment and ammunition from Belarus to restore its losses. If the Russian Federation was really preparing a new offensive from Belarus, then, on the contrary, it should transfer equipment there. The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces also says that the risks of a repeated attack by Belarus are increasing. But its analysts believe that the main goal will not be Kyiv but an attempt to cut off the logistical routes of supplies of Western weapons.

Presumably, the Russians want to continue to have a zone of instability on the Belarusian-Ukrainian border. Perhaps, various demonstrative actions will even start there, up to shelling across the border. This is necessary in order to keep a certain part of the Ukrainian forces there and prevent them from being transferred to other areas of the front.

On October 19, Putin announced martial law in the annexed territories of Ukraine: Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson regions. In the Russian Federation, martial law provides for a number of restrictions: from a ban on political rallies to forced evacuation, confiscation of property, and a ban on leaving the country. De facto, all this existed in the occupied territories even before — it was simply introduced by the decision of the local occupation authorities. Now, Russia has adapted the rules to its own legislation. In the regions around Ukraine, Putin introduced the “medium response level” and in others — the “high alert level” and the “basic alert level”.

It isnʼt known exactly why Putin made such a decision. This is similar to an attempt to introduce martial law in all of Russia but not to declare it officially. In addition, the Russian president has again given greater powers to regional governors, as was the case during the coronavirus pandemic. Now they will be able to create special headquarters that will be responsible for the security of the region and independently decide what measures are needed for this. That is, if necessary, they will be able to introduce a curfew, limit citizen departure, strengthen inspections, etc. The Kremlin likes to transfer responsibility for the organization to local authorities and, in case of failures and criticism from the population, blame everything on the governors.

Putin also created two headquarters: to coordinate the regions and support the Russian military in Ukraine. The former was assigned to head the mayor of Moscow, Sergei Sobyanin, and the latter to the prime minister, Mikhail Mishustin. Interestingly, since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, these two tried to distance themselves from the war as much as possible and almost didnʼt speak on the topic of events in Ukraine. It seems that the Kremlin noticed this and decided to smear absolutely the entire Russian elite in the war, including those who tried to stay away from it.

Kharkiv region

The situation in Kharkiv region has hardly changed over the past 10 days. Russian troops still control a small area near the Ukrainian border on the left bank of the Oskil River. According to Oleh Syniehubov, the head of the Kharkiv Regional Administration, this is less than 2% of the region — 32 settlements.

The Ukrainian army is trying to expand the bridgehead near the village of Dvorichna. However, so far, without success, as the occupiers hold positions in the village of Tavilzhanka.

To the south, near Kupyansk, the Ukrainian military continued its offensive along the P-07 highway, which leads to the city of Svatove, Luhansk region. There are ongoing battles in the area of the villages of Kyslivka and Kotlyarivka. However, it is also known that the Ukrainian military reached this road and further, as far as the administrative border of the Luhansk region near the village of Krokhmalne — a video from this location appeared on social networks.

In general, the offensive of the Defense Forces of Ukraine slowed down here. All this time, the occupiers have been building a line of defense between the cities of Svatove and Kreminna in the Luhansk region and have drawn up reserves there, including mobilized Russians. Therefore, it is more difficult for the Ukrainian military to move to these cities.



The Russians are still holding back the offensive of the Ukrainian army on the border between the towns of Svatove and Kreminna in the Luhansk region. After the liberation of Lyman, the Ukrainian Defense Forces immediately tried to cut the R-66 route between these cities, but now it seems that the Russians have managed to stabilize the situation.

The occupiers have pulled up reserves and are trying to counterattack in order to knock the Ukrainian army out of advantageous positions and go on the offensive again. The most heated battles continue for the villages of Torske, Terny, and Yampolivka, which are east of Lyman. The occupiers want to push Ukrainian troops to the right bank of the Zherebets River. If they are successful, it will make it difficult for Ukraine to carry out further attacks in the direction of the Luhansk region since it will be necessary to cross the river. Currently, it is known that the Ukrainian Defense Forces control the village of Stelmakhivka, where the river originates, and the villages of Makiivka and Nevske, through which it flows.

Fighting continues for the village of Spirne, Donetsk region, southeast of the city of Siversk. The Ukrainian army freed it, but the Russians are trying to regain their positions.

There are also ongoing battles around Bakhmut. For several months, the Bakhmut direction is almost the only one along the entire front, where the Russians are very slowly, but advancing and trying to surround the city.

To the northeast of Bakhmut, the Russians are still unsuccessfully trying to capture the Soledar town and Bakhmut city. From the east, the occupiers have already entered its outskirts, and the city itself is shelled every day with all available weapons.

The occupiers are making the greatest efforts to reach Bakhmut from the south. Most likely, the Russians captured the village of Zaytseve near the former checkpoint Mayorske, so the Ukrainian positions near the checkpoint remain the last ones that separated the occupiers from the outskirts of the Toretsk town. Most likely, the Russians have already reached the road between Bakhmut and Horlivka in almost all places and are trying to cross it, advancing on the village of Kurdyumivka and the village of Klishchiivka. If the occupiers succeed, they will try to take the road between Bakhmut and Kostyantynivka under fire control. Bakhmut will be semi-surrounded.

Fighting on the western outskirts of Donetsk also continues, but here the Russians have much less success. They will have to break almost the strongest lines of defense of the Ukrainian army, which were built over the last 8 years. Therefore, fierce battles continue here for almost every position, trench, or stronghold. In almost three months of the offensive, the invaders only managed to capture the village of Pisky and push back the Ukrainian troops from some positions. There is no mention of the occupation of other settlements.

The frontline between the city of Vugledar and the village of Velyka Novosilka has not changed. The Russians are not trying to advance here yet.



Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions

The front line in the Zaporizhzhia region remains basically unchanged. Neither Ukraine nor Russia have resorted to serious offensives here since the spring and rely on artillery duels.

The status and mode of operation of the Zaporizhzhia NPP are being discussed. The Russians have already issued their “documents” on Russiaʼs de facto control over the ZNPP, but the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) continues to negotiate on this matter, in particular, to introduce a safety zone around the plant. For this purpose, the head of the IAEA, Raphael Grossi, traveled on the Kyiv-Moscow-Kyiv route on October 6-13 and met with Zelensky and Putin. He noted that there is progress in this matter, and he plans to go to Ukraine and Russia again in the near future. However, the security zone is unlikely to be introduced — Russiaʼs officials already say that they will not allow the creation of a “Ukrainian enclave” on the annexed territory.

In the Kherson region, the Ukrainian army continues to put pressure on the Russian troops on the right bank of the region, although no serious progress has been made in the last 10 days. Despite this, the Russians are still suffering because of the damaged bridges across the Dnipro — this significantly complicates logistics and the transfer of reinforcements.

The main news is that on October 18, the Russians announced the mandatory evacuation of residents of the right bank of the Kherson region to the other bank. The next day it became known that the occupation authorities and all their “departments” were leaving Kherson. Literally simultaneously with these announcements, the Russian media showed the first interview with the newly appointed head of the Russian forces in Ukraine, General Sergei Surovikin. When asked about Kherson, he said that the situation there is “difficult”, therefore “difficult decisions canʼt be ruled out”. Opinions immediately began to spread in the Russian information space that the occupiers planned to completely leave the right bank of the Kherson region and Kherson itself. Local collaborants assured that it would not be given to Ukraine, and the evacuation of civilians is necessary because the Ukrainian army is planning a massive offensive, and the city must be prepared for defense.

However, on October 14, the Russian publication Meduza reported that the Kremlin wants to negotiate with Ukraine on at least some kind of truce at the front. This is how they plan to buy time to prepare a new large-scale offensive in the spring of 2023. Sources of the publication say that for the sake of the agreement, the occupiers are even ready to withdraw troops from the right bank of the Kherson region. It is extremely difficult to keep it, and such actions can be presented as another “gesture of goodwill” and a step toward Ukraine. The Ukrainian authorities assure that they are not ready for any truce because this will allow the Kremlin to regroup and train the mobilized.

The Presidentʼs Office of Ukraine has already noted that the Russians can cover up the provocations they plan to carry out in Kherson with the announced evacuation and then blame it on the Ukrainian military. On October 19, residents of Kherson began to receive messages urging them to evacuate because the Ukrainian Armed Forces were allegedly going to attack residential areas.

It is currently unclear why Russia forcibly evacuates or actually deports residents of the right bank of the Kherson region. Perhaps the occupiers are trying to evacuate their own equipment and troops under cover of civilians. The Ukrainian military wonʼt hit them during the crossing because civilians will be there. Perhaps the Russians are planning to withdraw to Kherson and force the Ukrainian army to storm the city, and start in-city battles. This will lead to serious losses and significant destruction of the city itself. In addition, when the Russians retreat to the left bank, they will be able to shell Kherson with all available weapons without problems. At the same time, getting of the Ukrainian Defense Forces to the Dnipro will allow Ukraine to remove the threat to Mykolaiv and Odesa and free up many forces to transfer them to other directions.



Supply of weapons

The Russians shelled Ukraine en masse on October 10 and continued to strike targets in the rear with missiles and Iranian kamikaze drones. Because of this, the authorities of Ukraine actively began to request Western air defense systems.

On the evening of October 11, the first German IRIS-T air defense system arrived in Ukraine. It has three launchers. In total, Germany has to hand over four such complexes: one more before the end of the year and two at the beginning of 2023.

NASAMS systems are also coming. In the USA, after the mass shelling of Ukraine, the authorities emphasized that they are speeding up deliveries. The first ones are expected already in October. Two batteries, eight launchers each, should arrive then. One NASAMS battery or one IRIS-T complex can completely cover a city, in particular Kyiv.

On the 12th of October, the sixth meeting in the Ramstein format was held, the main topic of which was the delivery of Western air defense systems. From what was already said, Spain agreed to provide four Hawk air defense systems. This is an American system of medium range, which was developed back in the 1960s, but since then, it has been repeatedly modernized. Ukraine is also negotiating with France about the supply of Crotale anti-aircraft missile systems. They are quite mobile, and therefore can be used to cover both large stationary objects and troops during the offensive or defense. Negotiations have also begun regarding SAMP-T air defense systems. This complex is manufactured by the Eurosam company. Its key components are the Aster 30 missile and the Arabel multifunctional radar. The target detection range is up to 80 kilometers. The SAMP-T air defense system has a minimum reaction time and a high rate of fire — eight missiles can be launched in 10 seconds.

Iranian Shahed-136 kamikaze drones have become quite a problem for Ukrainian troops. They are small and cheap, so it is quite difficult and expensive to shoot them down with missiles of large air defense systems. To fight them, Ukraine has already asked for anti-aircraft guns, in particular the American C-RAM. In the near future, NATO promises to hand over to Ukraine hundreds of active interference stations to combat drones.

As usual, the US announces a new aid package at least once every 10 days. So, on October 14, it was announced that military aid to Ukraine in the amount of $725 million would be provided. These are mainly ammunition: for HIMARS and 155 mm artillery, in particular high-precision ones. The US also promised more than 5,000 units of anti-tank weapons, approximately 200 HMMWV armored vehicles, additional HARM anti-radar missiles, and more.

Deliveries of armored vehicles to Ukraine from Greece have begun. This is part of a circular exchange with Germany: the Germans transfer their 40 Marder APCs to the Greeks, and in return, Greece gives Ukraine the same number of old Soviet BMP-1s.

This week, almost for the first time during the war, a new development of the Ukrainian defense and industrial complex was publicly announced. Ukroboronprom is working on a kamikaze attack drone with a warhead of 75 kilograms and a flight range of 1,000 kilometers. In fact, it is an analogue of Iranian kamikaze drones, but with a slightly larger warhead. If all goes well, Ukrainian drones could become as much of a problem for the Russians as Shahed-136 became for the Defense Forces of Ukraine. However, the details have not yet been disclosed when the drones will be put into service — it is also unknown.

Translated from Ukrainian by Anton Semyzhenko.

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The wreckage of an Iranian kamikaze drone found after strikes on Kyiv, October 17, 2022.

Getty Images / «Babel'»