All of Ukraine remains under risk of Russian missile attacks as Russian forces continued targeting civilian infrastructure far from the front line.
In northern Ukraine, Russian forces launched a wave of more than 20 projectiles from Belarus coinciding with the celebration of Ukrainian Statehood Day on 28 July. The missiles hit Chernihiv Oblast, Lutizh and Vyshgorod districts in the north of Kyiv, and Zhytomyr, according to Ukrainian officials and Belarusian opposition figures. Information about the victims is being clarified, however at least 15 injured are reported only in Kyiv. The Chernihiv regional Governor, Viacheslav Chaus, confirmed that nine rockets hit civilian settlements in Goncharivska and Honcharivska.
In eastern Ukraine, heavy fighting is ongoing in Tsupivka, as well as near Kozacha Lopan, Dementiivka, and Velykhiy Prohhody north of the city of Kharkiv. Russian shelling continues in Kharkiv city and settlements in the north, northeast, and southeast. At least one person was found dead after the shelling of a hotel on 27 July, and two people were killed after a missile attack in Chuguyev on 26 July.
On 27 July, Russian forces shelled Chepil, about 60 km northwest of Slovyansk, between the cities of Kharkiv and Izyum. Russian forces continued missile attacks on settlements along the border between Kharkiv and Donetsk Oblast, southeast of Izyum and around Barvinkove, southwest of Izyum.
In the Donbas , Russian forces made further progress in the east of Donetsk Oblast, gaining marginal ground northeast of Bakhmut. In addition, on 27 July Ukrainian forces withdrew from Novoluhanske – about 20 km south of Bakhmut. Intense fighting continues northeast and southeast of Bakhmut, as well as east and southeast of Siversk. On 27 July, Russian forces launched a rocket attack that destroyed a hotel and family households in Bakhmut. Russian forces also conducted missile and artillery strikes on Kramatorsk on 25 July. Near the border between Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts, Russian forces continued missile and artillery attacks along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City frontline.
On 27 July, the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) Militia claimed full control over the Vuhlehirska Thermal Power Plant, Ukraine’s second-largest power plant in the Donetsk region, close to the border with Russian-controlled Luhansk.
The Russian state-run news agency TASS informed on 28 July that more than 25,000 people, including nearly 4,000 children, have been evacuated to Russia from the Russian-backed separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in the past 24 hours.
In the south of Ukraine, Russian forces continued their air and missile campaign along the entire line of contact, targeting especially Odesa and Mykolaiv Oblast. On the morning of 28 July, Vitaliy Kim, Governor of Mykolaiv, declared that a massive rocket attack on Mykolaiv hit a secondary school in the Korabelny district, injuring at least one person. On 27 July, Russian forces also struck industrial infrastructure, repair enterprises, and residential areas in the city of Mykolaiv. On 23 July, Russia launched a missile attack on the Ukrainian port of Odesa, a day after signing an agreement to ease its blockade of the Black Sea coast and allow the safe transport of grain and other food products necessary to alleviate an upcoming global food crisis .
Russian forces continued to fortify their positions in Zaporizhzhia and Kherson Oblasts in preparation for Ukrainian counter-offensives. The Head of the Zaporizhzhia Oblast Military Administration, Oleksandr Starukh, reported on 25 July that Russian forces are digging trenches on the territory of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Enerhodar and hiding military equipment in residential neighborhoods. During the night of 26-27 July, Russian forces reportedly attacked Nikopol in the Dnipropetrovsk region with up to 40 projectiles of the Grad multiple launch rocket system from positions in Enerhodar.
Ukrainian forces attacked the Russian-controlled Antonivskyi Bridge east of the city of Kherson during the night of 26-27 July for the third time in ten days, making the bridge most likely inoperable. Overnight on 23-24 July, Ukrainian partisans blew up a Russian-controlled railway near Novobohdanivka in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, 30 km north of Melitopol.
In central Ukraine, five people were killed and 25 more were injured as a result of a Russian missile strike on the hangars of an aviation enterprise in the city of Kropyvnytskyi. On 23 July, Russian forces also hit Kropyvnytskyi killing three people and injuring 16 others. All of Ukraine remains under risk of Russian missile attacks, however, the risk of a Russian ground invasion of central and western Ukraine remains low.
In western Ukraine, there have been no significant developments, however air raid alarms sounded in Lviv on July 27 due to a threat of a missile strike from the Black Sea.
Developments in Russia
Recently published reports indicated that the Russian economy is sinking into recession and inflation is at a 10-year high. Data from the Rosstat statistical service showed a further fall in industrial production. Automobile production fell by 89 percent year-on-year, one of the industries most affected by Western sanctions. In addition, real disposable income in Russia fell by 0.8 percent in the second quarter of 2022.
On 28 July, the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade reported that H&M, the Swedish fashion retailer, has decided to sell its assets in Russia. The potential buyer could be a Russian company or an entity from a ”friendly” country. H&M announced earlier this month that it had decided to start a process of liquidating its business in Russia.
On 28 July, a Russian court fined WhatsApp 18 million rubles, the owner of Tinder 2 million rubles and the owner of Snapchat and Hotels.com 1 million rubles for allegedly refusing to store Russian user data in the country. Russia has confronted large tech companies over content, censorship, data and local representation, with disputes that have intensified since the war in Ukraine began. These developments highlight the risks faced by international companies that maintain operations or assets in Russia.
Russia continues to intensify its pressure on Europe as Gazprom announced on 25 July that supply through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany would be reduced to 20 percent, just 33 million cubic metres per day from Wednesday 27 July – halving the present, already reduced level. Nord Stream 1 has a capacity of around 160 million cubic meters per day.
On 26 July, the European Union approved a weakened emergency plan to contain its gas demand, agreeing to exempt some countries and critical industries, such as the energy-intensive steel industry, after some governments resisted the EU’s original proposal to impose a binding 15 percent cut on all countries. Countries such as Ireland and Malta – that are not connected to the gas networks of other EU countries – will be exempt from the 15 percent. In addition, countries that meet the EU target of filling gas tanks by August and those that have the capacity to export gas to other EU countries could face weaker targets. Hungary was the only country to oppose the deal, according to two EU officials. Natural gas and electricity prices are expected to spike across Europe, affecting households and businesses. Rising interest rates, soaring inflation and the prolonged energy crisis are all indicators that a world economy recession is very likely.
The first shipment of Ukrainian grain under the UN-brokered Black Sea agreement is expected to depart within days, a spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General said on 25 July. As part of the deal, grain ships would sail through a safe corridor in the Black Sea under the guidance of Ukrainian pilots, and then pass through the Bosporus Strait – a major shipping corridor in north-western Turkey – to reach world markets and alleviate the global food crisis. The parties to the agreement have reaffirmed their commitment, as the Russian attack on Odesa port on 23 July raised doubts about the future of the deal. The problem with the Black Sea grain export agreement however is that the damage insurance issue is not addressed. The fear of lack of insurance cover for Ukrainian ships could be even a greater impediment to grain exports than the Russian strike at the port of Odesa.
Russian troops are likely to continue to prioritize attempting to seize Siversk and Bakhmut rather than seizing Slovyansk, that remains a priority and a close objective. Russia is likely planning to advance on Slovyansk from positions around Izyum and Barvinkove or to open a new advance towards Kramatorsk. However, Russian forces are unlikely to successfully advance on Kramatorsk from Barvinkove due to the complicated cross-country ground in this territory.
Ukraine’s counter-offensive in Kherson Oblast is likely to continue to grow. Likewise, Ukrainian forces are likely to continue attacking Russian ammunition depots and Russian military forces concentrations in Kherson Oblast in order to disrupt Russian logistics in the region.
Russian officials continue to struggle to recruit sufficient workforce to reopen businesses, clear rubble or establish occupation bureaucracies in the occupied Ukrainian territories as the majority of Ukrainians in these territories are refusing to collaborate with Russian occupation officials. The Ukrainian Resistance Centre also reported that the Russian authorities do not have enough medical professionals in Luhansk Oblast because locals are refusing to cooperate, forcing the Kremlin to import Russian doctors from Novosibirsk and Volgograd on a rotating basis. On 27 July, the Mariupol City Council announced that Russian forces stopped providing humanitarian assistance to Mariupol residents to force them to demine and clear rubble on behalf of the occupation administration in exchange for food. Therefore, it is highly likely that Russian occupation officials will use food aid and other humanitarian assistance to force the occupied populations to cooperate with and work.