In today's summary:
- The Ukrainian command has officially reported liberating Urozhaine on the Vremevsky Bulge.
- Russian Telegram channel Rybar: Ukrainian units have been expelled from the left bank in Kherson Region.
- Russian troops are struggling to pierce Ukrainian defenses toward Kupiansk.
- The Reni Seaport on the Danube in the Odesa Region has suffered a loitering munitions strike.
- Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) reports the elimination of a Ukrainian sabotage group in the Bryansk Region.
- Ukrainian POWs liberated from Russian captivity recount systemic torture.
- Romania confirms plans to train Ukrainian pilots to use F-16 fighter jets.
- The Ukrainian Armed Forces demonstrate a new mine detection technique using drones with thermal imaging.
The front line
Ukraine’s 35th Separate Marine Brigade posted a video on Facebook, confirming that Ukraine now controls Urozhaine on the Vremevsky Bulge. Andriy Kovalev, a spokesperson for Ukraine's General Staff, reports that Ukrainian troops are securing their newly gained positions in Urozhaine. Ukraine's Deputy Minister of Defense Hanna Maliar corroborates his statement.
Vostok, a “DPR” battalion, reports in its Telegram channel that after capturing Urozhaine, Ukrainian troops have set out toward Oktiabrske (renamed to Kermenchyk in 2016). The capture of this settlement will allow the Ukrainians to solve the problem of Novodonetske to the north without attacking it head-on.
Russian pro-war blogger WarGonzo admits that the Ukrainian assault activity has placed the northern part of Robotyne to the south of Orikhiv in the gray zone. As geolocation suggests, the Ukrainians have almost entirely bypassed the settlement from the east. As WarGonzo reports, Ukrainian units have also launched an assault outside Verbove.
Meanwhile, pro-Russian Telegram channel Voyenny Osvedomitel (“Military Informer”) asserts that Robotyne “remains under the full control” of the Russians. As proof, he offers the photo of an 810th Marine Brigade serviceman “in the center of Robotyne” made on August 14. While the shot's geolocation indeed places the soldier in the center of the settlement, it can hardly be accepted as evidence of “full control”.
Ukrainian military observer Kostiantyn Mashovets reports the Ukrainians essentially breaching the defense line between Kopani and Robotyne, adding that the Ukrainian counteroffensive in this sector is far from “losing steam”.
Blogger and Ukrainian military officer Tatarigami points out that the capture of Robotyne might imply the subsequent need to storm Novoprokopivka and Solodka Balka. He published a video based on satellite images illustrating the evolution of Russian defenses in the vicinity of these settlements.
Russian pro-war channel Rybar reports the destruction of a Ukrainian bridgehead near Kozachi Laheri in Kherson Region. Despite the heavy artillery fire and shelling from the enemy, the Russian troops are said to have completely cleared the Dnipro's left bank from Ukrainian forces and have established control over the area.
Ground Forces Commander Oleksandr Syrskyi has visited Ukrainian positions in the Kupiansk sector. As per the general’s statement, Russian units, mostly made up of former prison inmates, are making daily attempts to breach Ukrainian defense on the approaches to Kupiansk. A Ukrainian military officer engaged in combat in the sector previously reported Russia’s use of Storm Z convict units, adding they are sustaining heavy losses when advancing.
Syrskyi also reported a regrouping of Russian troops in the Lyman sector, where they are staging a new offensive. In the Bakhmut sector, the Ukrainians are making slow progress despite the ongoing counterattacks by the enemy.
Shelling and sabotage
On the night of August 16, Russian UAVs attacked the Reni Seaport situated on the Danube's left bank not far from the Romanian border. As the Head of Ukraine's Presidential Administration Andrii Yermak reported, a suicide drone crashed into two metal hangars, setting them on fire. No one was injured. The town’s mayor Ihor Plekhov reports damage to the old grain elevator, some of the silo towers, and warehouses. According to him, a new grain warehouse that was about to be commissioned was also destroyed.
The Ukrainian Air Force command reported the interception of 13 Shahed drones on the night of August 16.
Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) reports the attempt of a Ukrainian sabotage unit to enter Bryansk Region. Four saboteurs are said to have been killed. The FSB statement also mentions that the Ukrainian troops were carrying drones labeled “property of the FSB of Russia”. Zvezda, the television channel of Russia's MoD, released a video of men in camouflage lying face down on the ground.
As the governor of the region, Alexander Bogomaz, writes on Telegram, an infiltration attempt by a six-strong Ukrainian sabotage group has been thwarted, with five out of six enemy troops killed in action. Meanwhile, Rybar offers an alternative version: the group counted 15 troops, and the enemy death toll stands at four, with the rest retreating. Russia's losses stand at one killed.
A Russian strike in the Synelnykove District of Dnipropetrovsk Region killed an 18-year-old. Six more were wounded, including a two-year-old girl.
CNN released footage of a sea drone strike on the Kerch Bridge on August 17. The recording was provided by Ukrainian secret services, who appear to have access to the CCTV cameras on the bridge.
The video shows the drone operator’s screen an instant before the sea drone delivered about 850 kilos of explosives to one of the bridge's concrete supports. The CCTV footage shows the moment of the drone attacking the road bridge and the explosion of another drone near the railway bridge. The head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) Vasyl Maliuk stated the operation employed Sea Baby drones, which he called a “unique invention” of his agency.
For more details on how the Ukrainians are cutting off Crimea from Russia using long-range missiles and suicide drones and why the peninsula's importance in the conflict exceeds its symbolic value, read The Insider's new feature story (available in Russia; English translation coming soon).
Ukrainian soldiers who survived Russian captivity told the BBC about the torture they endured in SIZO No. 2, a detention center in Taganrog. According to the liberated POWs, men and women were subjected to daily beating, electric torture, and intimidation and hardly got any food or medical assistance, causing many to die in captivity.
Romania has officially confirmed its intention to train Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16 fighter jets. The announcement is available on the website of President Klaus Iohannis.
The first photograph of a British Challenger 2 tank has surfaced, presumably from the combat zone. The tank in the image features a top-mounted metal cage for protection against UAVs and loitering munitions. The Telegram channel of the Russian Center for the Analysis of Strategies and Technology (the AST Center) asserts the tank in the photo is fielded by the 82nd Separate Assault Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
A photo has also been published of the Stridsvagn 122 tank (a modified Leopard 2A5) with Barracuda MCS multispectral camouflage, provided by Sweden.
CNN has demonstrated a new demining technique adopted by the Ukrainian troops. In the Zaporizhzhia sector, deminers are using drones with thermal imaging during the night: metal mines accumulate heat during the day and remain warm for a longer period than the ground they are in, which is why thermal imaging provides reliable detection.
The Financial Times wrote about the US urging Iran to curb its supplies of drones and their parts to Russia as part of the talks on alleviating the tensions between Washington and Tehran. According to FT, the possibility of weakening the anti-Iranian sanctions might be on the table. An FT source says that Tehran has asked Moscow to stop using Iranian UAVs in Ukraine more than once, but Washington demands “more concrete steps”.
For the principal developments of August 15, read our previous digest: Ukrainians gain foothold in Robotyne, Ukraine comes under massive missile strike. What happened on the front line on August 15?