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Russian troops in southern Ukraine refuse to fight, surrender to Ukrainian Forces - ISW

Russian troops in southern Ukraine refuse to fight, surrender to Ukrainian Forces - ISW Russian military (Getty Images)
Author: Maria Kholina

"Occupiers continue to face challenges with supply, logistics, and rotation in southern Ukraine, as reported by Major General Ivan Popov, the former commander of the 58th Combined Arms Army of the Russian Federation on the Zaporizhzhia front. This has led to Russian soldiers refusing to fight and surrendering to Ukrainian forces, according to analysts from the Institute for the Study of War.

The recent dismissal of General Popov from his position by the Russian Ministry of Defense, and the issues he cited continue to have effects on Russian military operations in southern Ukraine and the discourse around these operations.

A well-known Russian blogger affiliated with the Kremlin criticized the Ukrainian Defense Forces' operations for exhausting Russian forces holding the southern territories amidst the counteroffensive.

He also pointed out that the Russian military command failed to address rotation issues, as raised by General Popov before his dismissal.

Another prominent war correspondent supported the ousted Russian general, stating that the problems outlined by Popov seem more significant to the Russian Ministry of Defense than deploying him to Syria or other measures to soften the information.

Some Russian milbloggers amplified reports of several Russian assault groups with forces of up to a platoon simultaneously surrendering to Ukrainian forces in the Zaporizhzhia direction.

"The persistent logistical and operational issues faced by Russia in southern Ukraine might have contributed to the inability or reluctance of these forces to fight and the subsequent reports of capitulation," reads the ISW report.

Key takeaways:

  • The July 17 Kerch Strait Bridge attack is likely having immediate ramifications on Russian military logistics in southern Ukraine.
  • Russian forces conducted a strike campaign ostensibly against Ukrainian military objects in southern Ukraine in explicit retaliation for the Kerch Strait Bridge attack.
  • Ukrainian forces conducted counteroffensive actions on at least three sectors of the frontline against the backdrop of increased Russian offensive operations and claimed tactical gains along the Kharkiv-Luhansk regions border on July 18.
  • Russia continues legislative manipulations to repress domestic dissent through introducing fear of criminal liability.
  • The Telegraph concluded that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and Belarusian authorities are actively involved in the forced deportation of Ukrainian children.
  • Russian forces continued offensive operations along the Kupyansk-Svatove line, southwest of Kreminna, and in the Bakhmut and Avdiivka-Donetsk City areas and made limited territorial gains in all sectors.
  • Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations around Bakhmut and advanced north of Bakhmut.
  • Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks in the western Donetsk-eastern Zaporizhia region area and recently made limited advances in western Zaporizhia region.
  • Some Russian sources suggested that recent measures supporting the development of the Russian National Guard (Rosgvardia) allow it to posture as an alternative Russian military formation.
  • Russia continues to formalize methods of social programming targeted at youth in occupied areas of Ukraine.

The situation on the southern Ukrainian front:

Ukrainian forces continue counteroffensives on multiple directoins, including Zaporizhzhia, Berdiansk, and Tavriisk. While they make progress and improve positions, liberation of territories is hindered by heavily mined areas and fortified Russian defenses, highlighted by Ground Forces Commander Alexander Syrskyi in an interview with BBC.

Concurrently, the Ukrainian forces continue to strike Russian ammunition depots and logistical centers on the occupied territory in the south of the country.

As recently noted by the UK Ministry of Defense, Russian occupiers are suffering from a lack of counter-battery radars.

Around a week ago, Valerii Shershen, the spokesperson for the Joint Press Center of the Defense Forces of the Tavriisk Direction, said that Ukrainian forces captured a record number of Russian soldiers in the area."