Military expert sees chances for success of the Ukrainian counter-offensive
03:52: Two months after the start of the Ukrainian counter-offensive, military expert Christian Mölling from the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) sees realistic chances for Ukraine’s success. “If the Ukrainians manage to get through the first Russian line of defense, the offensive will be successful,” Mölling told the Funke media group newspapers (Saturday).
It would be enough if the troops “advance to the transverse supply lines on the railway and road in the direction of Melitopol,” said Mölling. “Then they could shell the whole area up to the Sea of Azov with artillery and rocket artillery. The terrain would then no longer be defensible for the Russians,” he added.
The “main phase of the offensive” has not yet begun, Mölling emphasized, the Ukrainians are still testing “cautious advances.” “It’s enough if they position themselves so well that it’s no longer possible for the Russians to hold the south. Then they have to withdraw,” said Mölling of the Funke media group. “This war can be decided without a decisive battle. It doesn’t need to end like a Hollywood movie.”
According to Mölling, the offensive is progressing “slowly but surely”. In the west, there was a false expectation that Ukrainian troops would be able to advance to the Sea of Azov in a very short time, he said. “This was not possible because the West had not supplied enough of the necessary weapons.” This shows the “ignorance of Western – including German – decision-makers in politics and government”.
Ukraine needs more of all Western weapon systems that have been delivered so far, as well as longer-range missiles, Mölling added, criticizing that Germany has always delivered too late.
London: G7 price cap for Russian oil continues to have an effect
12:35 a.m.: According to the British government, the price cap imposed on Russian oil by the G7 countries and other allies is still having an effect. This emerges from a message from the Ministry of Finance in London, which was published on Saturday night.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) reported a drop in Russian oil export revenues in June of almost ten billion US dollars (around nine billion euros) compared to the same month last year. Between May and June alone, revenues fell by $ 1.5 billion (1.36 billion euros).
The research organization Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air also estimates that the price cap on crude oil costs Russia 160 billion euros a day. The British also quoted Russian government sources as saying Moscow’s energy sector revenues in the first quarter of this year were down 45 percent year-on-year.
The price cap for Russian oil introduced in December last year is intended to force Russia to sell oil to buyers in other countries for a maximum of $60 per barrel (159 liters). The upper limit is one of the sanctions with which the West is responding to the war of aggression against Ukraine launched by Moscow. From February, the price cap was also extended to oil products.
Media: Several explosions near the Crimean bridge
Saturday, August 05, 00:31: According to Russian and Ukrainian media, there were several explosions near the Crimean Bridge on Saturday night. Ukrainian media reported three explosions near the bridge connecting the Moscow-held Black Sea peninsula of Crimea and mainland Russia. The bridge should be completely darkened and closed to traffic.
An alleged Russian radio message to the ships in the Kerch Strait was also published on the Internet. It calls on all ships to be more vigilant in the event of an attack by air and sea drones.
A representative of the Russian occupation administration in Crimea spoke on Telegram of an “active dangerous situation”. There were initially no further official statements. In Russian and Ukrainian Telegram channels there were suspicions that a drone might have hit a tanker. The information could not be checked independently.
Poland counts Wagner fighters in Belarus as a threat from Moscow
9.45 p.m.: According to the Polish leadership, the fighters of the Russian private army Wagner in Belarus will continue to be controlled entirely from Moscow. President Andrzej Duda said this during a visit to the Polish Navy’s operational center in Gdynia on Friday. There he was informed about ongoing Russian naval maneuvers in the Baltic Sea.
You can’t actually speak of a private army with Wagner, Duda said, according to the PAP agency. “I have no doubt that the actions that Wagner is carrying out are actually controlled by the Russian state.” That is why Poland sees the deployment of the troops in Belarus as part of the Russian threat.
After a failed mutiny by Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin, thousands of gunmen were sent to the neighboring country, where their status and role are unclear. The military in Poland and Lithuania estimate that there are 4,000 Wagner fighters in Belarus so far.
Russian officers die after perfidious poison attack
12.50 p.m.: At least two Russian officers have apparently died in a poison attack in Russian-occupied Mariupol. As the adviser to the Ukrainian exile mayor, Petro Andryushchenko, writes on Telegram, according to “t-online”, pro-Ukrainian partisans from Group “Y” are said to have managed to poison food at a military celebration. 15 other soldiers were hospitalized.
The poisoning is said to have taken place on “Navy Day” – a Russian public holiday for members of the Russian Navy. Apparently cyanide and pesticides were used. Andryushchenko writes on Telegram: “Rats need poison. The day begins with good news.” His statements cannot be verified independently.
Russia is recruiting new soldiers
Friday, August 4, 05:01: According to the Deputy Chief of the Russian National Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, since January more than 231,000 Russians have offered their services in the war against Ukraine and signed a contract with the Defense Ministry. A lot has been done to make military service more attractive, the former Kremlin chief said on Thursday at a meeting to equip the armed forces.
The number given by Medvedev, citing military information, is about twice as high as that of May, when he spoke of 117,000 volunteers and contract soldiers. According to Medvedev, numerous organizational, economic and social steps have been taken in recent months to attract more volunteers. Those doing military service and their families would also have better social security, he said.
The exact figures on the strength and repositioning of the Russian army are difficult to obtain because of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. After massive war losses last year, Moscow drafted around 300,000 reservists in a partial mobilization. At the same time, however, tens of thousands fled abroad to avoid a possible forced military operation against Ukraine. Russian troops invaded Ukraine in February 2022.
Ukrainian intelligence implicated in both attacks on Crimean bridge
9:20 p.m.: Kiev was involved in both Crimean Bridge attacks. This was stated by the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Oleksiy Danilov on state television, as reported by Sky News. According to Danilov, the Ukrainian security service SBU was involved in both incidents.
The Crimean Bridge was first damaged by an explosion on October 8, 2022. Another attack was carried out on July 17 of this year. Two explosions damaged the bridge again. Earlier this month, SBU chief Vasyl Maliuk spoke of the destruction of the Crimean bridge as one of their “achievements”.
US Institute: Russian Attacks Target Ukrainian Grain
11.10 a.m.: According to experts, Russia’s attacks on Ukrainian ports with grain silos are probably targeted attacks to drive up food prices. By keeping Ukrainian grain out of the world market, Russia can hope to benefit from higher prices, the US Institute for War Studies (ISW) said in Washington.
Experts referred to the destruction of 40,000 tons of grain at a port in the Odessa region on the night of August 2. According to this, the quantities of grain destroyed by military attacks have now risen to more than 200,000 tons since Russia canceled the agreement on July 17 to ship Ukrainian food via the Black Sea. Although Russia claims that it is attacking military targets, grain silos are being hit, according to the ISW analysis.
Russia’s exit from the Turkey-UN brokered grain deal, attacks on ports and threats to attack ships bound for Ukraine are causing grain prices to fluctuate, sources said. According to experts, Russia in particular, which is one of the largest exporters of wheat, will benefit from higher prices.
London: Regrowing undergrowth makes fighting in southern Ukraine more difficult
09.30 am: According to the British Ministry of Defense, regrowing undergrowth is making fighting in southern Ukraine more difficult. The mostly agricultural area in the combat zone has now been fallow for 18 months, allowing weeds and shrubs to regrow faster in the warm, humid summer conditions, the ministry said in London on Thursday.
This means additional camouflage for Russian defense positions and makes clearing minefields more difficult, the British wrote in their daily update on Twitter. Although the undergrowth can also provide camouflage for small, stealthy infantry attacks, the bottom line is that it is more difficult for either side to advance.