UA-69458566-1

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Iran’s Attempt to Hit Israel with a Russian-Style Strike Package Failed...for Now

Brian Carter and Frederick W. Kagan

The Iranian April 13 missile-drone attack on Israel was very likely intended to cause significant damage below the threshold that would trigger a massive Israeli response.  The attack was designed to succeed, not to fail.  The strike package was modeled on those the Russians have used repeatedly against Ukraine to great effect. The attack caused more limited damage than intended likely because the Iranians underestimated the tremendous advantages Israel has in defending against such strikes compared with Ukraine. The Iranians will learn lessons from this strike and work to improve their abilities to penetrate Israeli defenses over time as the Russians have done in repeated strike series against Ukraine.

The strike consisted of approximately 170 drones, 30 cruise missiles, and 120 ballistic missiles.[1]  The drones were launched well before the ballistic missiles were fired, very likely in the expectation that they would arrive in Israel’s air defense window at about the same time as the cruise missiles and drones.  The Russians have used such an approach against Ukraine repeatedly.[2]  The purpose of such a package is to have the slower cruise missiles and drones distract and overwhelm air defenses in order to allow the ballistic missiles, which are much harder to shoot down, to reach their targets.  The Iranians very likely expected that few if any of the cruise missiles and drones would hit their targets, but likely hoped that a significantly higher percentage of the ballistic missiles would do so.

Only a few ballistic missiles penetrated Israeli air defenses and struck near Israeli military bases out of the 120 or so the Iranians fired.[3] Ukrainian air defenses have averaged interception rates of only about 46% of Russian ballistic missiles during recent large strikes.  The Iranians likely expected that Israeli rates would be higher than the Ukrainian rates but not above 90% against such a large ballistic missile salvo—the Russians, after all, have never fired close to that many large ballistic missiles in a single strike against Ukraine. Ukraine frequently intercepts more than 75% of Russian cruise missiles and drones, but many of those interceptions occur within the air defense umbrella that is also occupied with ballistic missile defense. The Iranians thus likely expected that at least some of their drones and cruise missiles would interfere with Israeli targeting of incoming ballistic missiles, whereas apparently none did.

Source: The Institute for the Study of War and the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute

Israel’s air defense system has a number of obvious advantages over Ukrainian air defense, but the full implications of some of those advantages might well have been unclear to Iranian strike planners. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Israel’s allies have much larger and robust anti-missile and air defense systems and stocks of interceptors for them than Ukraine does—especially as Ukraine exhausts its supplies of interceptors while awaiting renewed US military assistance.  Israel also benefits from the roughly 1,000 kilometers separating its borders from Iran’s.  Israel and its allies used that distance to intercept all of the incoming drones and cruise missiles with ground-based air defense and combat aircraft before they even came within Israel’s own missile-defense umbrella. Israel and its allies employed hundreds of combat aircraft in this effort.[4] Ukraine lacks both of these advantages.[5]  Iran also lacks access to the near-hypersonic missiles Russia has used to penetrate Ukrainian air defenses more reliably—at least for now.

Ukraine has, in particular, been unable to use combat aircraft to shoot down Russian drones and cruise missiles at scale, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky recently observed that Kyiv will likely use the F-16s Ukraine will receive this summer in those roles.[6] It has long been known that both drones and cruise missiles can be shot down by combat aircraft, but the Ukraine war has not yet seen a concerted effort made by a large and modern air force to intercept drone and cruise missile strikes at scale, and it is very possible that the Iranians underestimated the effectiveness of that effort.

Iran will learn additional lessons from the failed April 13 attack that it can leverage to launch more successful attacks in the future. The lessons that Iran will draw from this attack will allow it to build more successful strike packages in the future. The attack probably helped Iran identify the relative strengths and the weaknesses of the Israeli air defense system. Iran will likely also share the lessons it learned in this attack with Russia. Russia will then use these lessons to improve its ability to defeat US- and NATO-provided air defense systems in Ukraine. Iran may be able to share lessons with Russia about the relative strengths and weaknesses of US-built aircraft and air-to-air missiles in intercepting these missiles and drones.

Iran’s ability to penetrate Israeli air defenses with even a small number of large ballistic missiles presents serious security concerns for Israel. The only Iranian missiles that got through hit an Israeli military base, limiting the damage, but a future strike in which several ballistic missiles penetrate Israeli air defenses and hit Tel Aviv or Haifa could cause significant civilian casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure, including ports and energy. Russian strikes on Ukraine have demonstrated that even a small number of precise strikes against key nodes in energy or other infrastructure can cause disproportionate effects. Israel and its partners should not emerge from this successful defense with any sense of complacency.

 


[1] https://twitter.com/IDF/status/1779503384434819454

[2] https://isw.pub/UkrWar122923; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/special-report-russian-strikes-more-effective-ukraine-exhausts-defenses

[3] https://www.timesofisrael dot com/how-israel-foiled-irans-ballistic-missile-attack-that-focused-on-an-f-35-airbase/; https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2024/04/14/mapping-wide-scale-iranian-drone-missile-attacks/

[4] https://www.timesofisrael dot com/us-uk-and-jordan-intercept-many-of-the-iranian-drones-headed-to-israel/

[5] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/special-report-russian-strikes-more-effective-ukraine-exhausts-defenses

[6] https://isw.pub/UkrWar041324https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-april-6-2024

 

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, April 14, 2024

Nicole Wolkov, Riley Bailey, Grace Mappes, Angelica Evans, and Frederick W. Kagan

April 14, 2024, 7:15pm ET

Click here to see ISW’s interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.

Click here to see ISW’s 3D control of terrain topographic map of Ukraine. Use of a computer (not a mobile device) is strongly recommended for using this data-heavy tool.

Click here to access ISW’s archive of interactive time-lapse maps of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These maps complement the static control-of-terrain map that ISW produces daily by showing a dynamic frontline. ISW will update this time-lapse map archive monthly.

Note: The data cut-off for this product was 12:30pm ET on April 14. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the April 15 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.

Israel’s success in defending against large-scale Iranian missile and drone strikes from Iranian territory on April 13 underscores the vulnerabilities that Ukrainian geography and the continued degradation of Ukraine’s air defense umbrella pose for Ukrainian efforts to defend against regular Russian missile and drone strikes. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force launched roughly 170 Shahed-136/131 drones, 30 cruise missiles, and 120 ballistic missiles at targets in Israel in a strike package similar to recent Russian strike packages against Ukraine.[1] Russian forces have experimented with cruise missile, ballistic missile, and drone strikes of varying sizes and combinations, and are now routinely conducting large, combined strikes against targets in Ukraine.[2] Iran’s similarly large, combined strike package was far less successful than recent Russian strikes in Ukraine, however, with Israeli air defenses intercepting almost all of the roughly 320 air targets except several ballistic missiles.[3] Iranian drones and missiles had to cross more than 1,000 kilometers of Iraqi, Syrian, and Jordanian airspace before reaching Israel, affording Israel and its allies hours to identify, track, and intercept missiles and drones on approach to Israel.[4] Russian forces launch drones and missiles from throughout occupied Ukraine and in close proximity to Ukraine from within Russia, affording Ukrainian air defenders a fraction of the time that Israel and its allies leveraged to successfully blunt the mass Iranian missile and drone strike.[5] Israel also has a robust air defense umbrella that is responsible for responding to potential attacks across shorter borders with its neighbors, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank; whereas, Ukraine has increasingly degraded air defense capabilities to employ against missile and drone strikes across a much wider frontline in Ukraine as well as its international borders with Belarus and Russia. Ukraine also currently lacks the capability to conduct air-to-air interception with fixed wing aircraft as Israel and its allies did on the night of April 13. Ukraine’s large size compared to Israel makes it more difficult for Ukraine to emulate the density of air defense coverage that Israel enjoys, especially amid continued delays in US security assistance.

The exhaustion of US-provided air defenses resulting from delays in the resumption of US military assistance to Ukraine combined with improvements in Russian strike tactics have led to increasing effectiveness of the Russian strike campaign in Ukraine.[6] Without substantial and regular security assistance to Ukraine, Russian strikes threaten to constrain Ukraine’s long-term warfighting capabilities and set operational conditions for Russia to achieve significant gains on the battlefield.[7] Ukraine requires significant provisions of Western air defense systems and fighter jets capable of intercepting drones and missiles in order to establish a combined air defense umbrella that is even remotely as effective as the one Israel and its allies successfully used on April 13.[8]

Russia’s strike campaign against Ukraine demonstrates that even a limited number of successful ballistic or cruise missile strikes can cause significant and likely long-term damage to energy and other infrastructure, highlighting the need for an effective and well-provisioned air defense umbrella capable of a sustained high rate of interception. Recent large-scale Russian strike packages using drones, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles against Ukraine have caused significant damage to Ukrainian energy infrastructure. All 15 ballistic missiles and seven of the 44 cruise missiles that Russian forces launched against Ukrainian energy facilities on the night of March 21 to 22 successfully penetrated Ukrainian air defenses.[9] Some of the missiles significantly damaged the Dnipro Hydroelectric Power Plant (HPP) in Zaporizhzhia City and took it completely offline, and it will take some time to repair the plant.[10] Three of seven ballistic missiles and eight of 30 cruise missiles that Russian forces launched against Ukrainian HPPs on the night of March 28 to 29 successfully penetrated Ukrainian air defenses, damaging HPPs and thermal power plants (TPPs) in central and western Ukraine.[11] All 18 ballistic missiles and six of the 24 cruise missiles that Russian forces launched against Ukrainian energy infrastructure on the night of April 10 to 11 successfully penetrated Ukrainian air defenses, of which five missiles completely destroyed the Trypilska TPP in Kyiv Oblast.[12] The Russian strikes against Ukrainian energy facilities on the night of April 10 to 11 also damaged energy facilities in Zaporizhia and Lviv oblasts.[13] The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on April 11 that Russian strikes, not including the April 10 to 11 strike series, have disrupted 80 percent of the generation capacity of DTEK, Ukraine’s largest private energy company, which supplies about 20 percent of Ukraine’s power.[14]

Ukrainian Deputy Energy Minister Svitlana Hrynchuk told CNN in an article published on April 14 that successful Russian strikes over the course of just a few days in the past few weeks have destroyed a year's worth of Ukrainian repairs to energy facilities following the winter 2022-2023 Russian strike campaign.[15] A Ukrainian source told CNN that Russian forces have changed their strike tactics to launch a large number of missiles and drones simultaneously against a limited number of targets. DTEK Head Maksym Timchenko stated that Russia began targeting Ukrainian energy generation infrastructure, instead of transmission systems, in late March 2024.[16] DTEK previously warned that more accurate and concentrated Russian strikes are inflicting greater damage against Ukrainian energy facilities than previous Russian attacks did.[17] Israel, the US, and their allies and partners should be cognizant of the risk that even small numbers of missiles penetrating defense umbrellas can cause nonlinear damage to modern societies if they hit the right targets.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) is falsely equating the April 13 large-scale Iranian strikes targeting Israel with the April 1 Israeli strike targeting Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) officials in Damascus, amplifying Iran’s “justification” for the April 13 strikes. The Russian MFA issued a statement on April 14 in response to the April 13 Iranian strikes amplifying Iran's claim that Iran conducted the April 13 strikes as an act of “self-defense” in response to claimed Israeli airstrikes on Iranian targets, including the April 1 strike targeting IRGC officials in Damascus.[18] The Russian MFA reiterated its condemnation of the April 1 Israeli strike and accused Western members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) of impeding the UNSC’s ability to “adequately respond” to the April 1 Israeli strike targeting IRGC officials. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held a phone call with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian later on April 14, and the Russian MFA again amplified Iran’s claim that the April 13 strikes were a response to the April 1 Israeli strike in the readout of the call.[19] Russian MFA Spokesperson Maria Zakharova notably refused an Israeli request for Russia to condemn the April 13 Iranian strikes, claiming that Israel has never condemned a Ukrainian strike against Russia and criticizing Israel for its statements supporting Ukraine.[20] The Russian government is willfully furthering an information operation to justify Iran’s April 13 strikes against Israel to the international community.

Russian milbloggers largely responded to the April 13 Iranian strikes against Israel by suggesting that the increased threat of military escalation in the Middle East will likely draw Western, specifically US, attention and aid away from Ukraine. Russian milbloggers leaned into an established information operation on April 13 and 14 claiming that the Western media will slowly stop covering the war in Ukraine as Western attention turns to the risk of escalation in the Middle East and suggested that the US and Ukraine’s other Western allies may begin to falter in their expected aid deliveries to Ukraine because the West may prioritize aiding Israel.[21] Several Russian milbloggers specifically gloated that if Ukraine does not receive additional Western air defense systems, Russian drones and missiles will “safely cruise” in uncontested Ukrainian air space.[22] Russian milbloggers and Kremlin officials, including Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitri Peskov, expressed similar hopes following the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel.[23] Significant delays in US military assistance have already created shortages in Ukraine’s air defense missile and ammunition stockpiles, hindering Ukraine’s ability to defend against Russian frontline offensive operations and drone and missile strikes against rear areas, creating opportunities that Russian forces are actively exploiting. Russian President Vladimir Putin is likely operating on the assumption that US military assistance to Ukraine will either be further delayed or permanently ended, and any evidence supporting that notion will likely encourage Russian efforts to strain Ukrainian forces past their breaking point on the battlefield and in deep rear areas. ISW continues to assess that Ukraine’s ability to defend against Russian offensive operations and Russia’s ongoing strike campaign is heavily dependent on continued US security assistance and that the longer Ukrainian forces go under-provisioned, the harder it will be to defend against Russian offensive operations.[24]

Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi reported that the senior Russian military command aims to seize Chasiv Yar, Donetsk Oblast by Russia’s Victory Day holiday on May 9.[25] The Russian military command’s objective to seize Chasiv Yar in only three and a half weeks indicates that the Russian command likely assesses that Russian forces will be able to seize the town at a faster tempo of offensive operations than efforts to seize Bakhmut in May 2023 or Avdiivka in February 2024.[26] The Russian military command likely assesses that continued Ukrainian critical munitions shortages will enable Russian forces to seize Chasiv Yar in several weeks, despite ISW’s assessment that Russian forces have currently only reached the easternmost part of the Kanal Microraion in easternmost Chasiv Yar. The Russian command has routinely set unrealistic goals for Russian advances, however, and a Russian milblogger expressed hope that Russian forces may be able to just enter the Novyi Microraion in southeastern Chasiv Yar by May 9.[27] The Russian military will likely intend to capitalize on significant Ukrainian artillery and air defense shortages that are crucial to Ukrainian defense and that were not constraining Ukraine’s defense of Bakhmut or Avdiivka to the same degree as their current constraints, however. The Russian military command will likely continue efforts against Chasiv Yar until the effort culminates, but Russian forces may be able to make speedier advances than in prior efforts given the degree of Ukraine’s current artillery and air defense shortages.

The Russian military’s ongoing restructuring of the Western Military District (WMD) into the Moscow and Leningrad military districts (MMD and LMD) is reportedly shifting areas of operational responsibility (AOR) for Russian force groupings in Ukraine. Ukrainian military observer Kostyantyn Mashovets reported on April 14 that Russian units part of the Bryansk, Kursk, and Belgorod border groupings will form part of the LMD and that elements of the 11th Army Corps (AC) and the 138th Motorized Rifle Brigade (6th Combined Arms Army [CAA]) and likely elements of the currently-forming 44th AC and the 25th Motorized Rifle Brigade (6th CAA) will form the “Northern” Grouping of Forces alongside existing units on the border in Bryansk, Kursk, and Belgorod oblasts.[28] This report suggests that the entire 6th CAA and 11th AC are also subordinated to the LMD, which would be consistent with the boundaries of the military district and the permanent stations of those formations. Mashovets also reported that the 1st Guards Tank Army, 20th CAA, and 25th CAA will integrate into the MMD and be responsible for the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line on the Kharkiv-Luhansk Oblast axis — an observation also largely consistent with the military district boundaries and permanent stations of those formations. Mashovets also speculated on possible commanders for the MMD as well as the LMD and Northern Grouping of Forces, but ISW is unable to confirm these speculations.[29] Mashovets’ report suggests that the LMD’s Northern Grouping of Forces is pulling Russian formations currently operating on the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line — including elements of the 6th CAA and 11th AC — to the northern international border and elsewhere in the theater, which will undermine any Russian offensive efforts on that line and may create confusion in the Russian military command as it seeks to disentangle the WMD into the MMD and LMD.[30] This redeployment could support possible future Russian operations against Kharkiv City to which Ukrainian leaders have previously alluded.[31]

The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) has reportedly fired the commanders of a combined arms army and motorized rifle regiment operating in southern Ukraine likely for failing to recapture areas lost during the Ukrainian summer-fall 2023 counteroffensive. Russian sources claimed on April 13 and 14 that the Russian military command fired Lieutenant General Arkady Marzoev, commander of the Russian 18th Combined Arms Army (Southern Military District [SMD]) that has been fighting near Krynky, Kherson Oblast, as well as the commander of the 70th Motorized Rifle Regiment (42nd Motorized Rifle Division, 58th Combined Arms Army [CAA], SMD) that has been fighting near Robotyne, Zaporizhia Oblast.[32] ISW is unable to confirm these reported firings. Elements of the 18th CAA have been repelling Ukrainian attacks and attempting to push Ukrainian forces from their positions in east (left) bank Kherson Oblast since Ukrainian forces established a limited tactical bridgehead in November 2023, and have notably failed.[33] Elements of the 70th Motorized Rifle Regiment have been conducting periodic counterattacks to recapture territory in and around Robotyne since September 2023 and suffered significant degradation as a result.[34] Elements of the 18th CAA and the 70th Motorized Rifle Regiment have been unable to recapture all the territory that Ukrainian forces captured in Zaporizhia and Kherson oblasts during the summer-fall 2023 counteroffensive. If the Russian sources’ speculations are accurate, the Russian MoD is likely replacing these commanders in hopes that new leadership will oversee the seizure of more territory around Robotyne and Krynky, thereby allowing the Russian MoD to claim with some degree of believability that Russia has undone the results of the Ukrainian counteroffensive.

Key Takeaways:

  • Israel’s success in defending against large-scale Iranian missile and drone strikes from Iranian territory on April 13 underscores the vulnerabilities that Ukrainian geography and the continued degradation of Ukraine’s air defense umbrella pose for Ukrainian efforts to defend against regular Russian missile and drone strikes.
  • The exhaustion of US-provided air defenses resulting from delays in the resumption of US military assistance to Ukraine combined with improvements in Russian strike tactics have led to increasing effectiveness of the Russian strike campaign in Ukraine.
  • Russia’s strike campaign against Ukraine demonstrates that even a limited number of successful ballistic or cruise missile strikes can cause significant and likely long-term damage to energy and other infrastructure, highlighting the need for an effective and well-provisioned air defense umbrella capable of a sustained high rate of interception.
  • The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) is falsely equating the April 13 large-scale Iranian strikes targeting Israel with the April 1 Israeli strike targeting Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) officials in Damascus, amplifying Iran’s “justification” for the April 13 strikes.
  • Russian milbloggers largely responded to the April 13 Iranian strikes against Israel by suggesting that the increased threat of military escalation in the Middle East will likely draw Western, specifically US, attention and aid away from Ukraine.
  • Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi reported that the senior Russian military command aims to seize Chasiv Yar, Donetsk Oblast by Russia’s Victory Day holiday on May 9.
  • The Russian military’s ongoing restructuring of the Western Military District (WMD) into the Moscow and Leningrad military districts (MMD and LMD) is reportedly shifting areas of operational responsibility (AOR) for Russian force groupings in Ukraine.
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) has reportedly fired the commanders of a combined arms army and motorized rifle regiment operating in southern Ukraine likely for failing to recapture areas lost during the Ukrainian summer-fall 2023 counteroffensive.
  • Ukrainian forces advanced south of Kreminna and southwest of Donetsk City and Russian forces recently made confirmed advances near Chasiv Yar (west of Bakhmut) and Avdiivka.

 

We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because these activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We will continue to evaluate and report on the effects of these criminal activities on the Ukrainian military and the Ukrainian population and specifically on combat in Ukrainian urban areas. We utterly condemn Russian violations of the laws of armed conflict and the Geneva Conventions and crimes against humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports. 

  • Russian Main Effort – Eastern Ukraine (comprised of two subordinate main efforts)
  • Russian Subordinate Main Effort #1 – Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and encircle northern Donetsk Oblast
  • Russian Subordinate Main Effort #2 – Capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast
  • Russian Supporting Effort – Southern Axis
  • Russian Air, Missile, and Drone Campaign
  • Russian Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts
  • Russian Technological Adaptations
  • Activities in Russian-occupied areas
  • Ukrainian Defense Industrial Base Efforts
  • Russian Information Operations and Narratives
  • Significant Activity in Belarus


Russian Main Effort – Eastern Ukraine

Russian Subordinate Main Effort #1 – Luhansk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and northern Donetsk Oblast)

Ukrainian forces made confirmed advances south of Kreminna as of April 14. Geolocated footage published on April 14 indicates that Ukrainian forces advanced east of Bilohorivka (south of Kreminna), although the Ukrainian advance was likely not recent.[35] A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces recently marginally advanced to the eastern outskirts of Terny (west of Kreminna), although ISW has not observed visual confirmation of this claim.[36]

Ukrainian Air Force Commander Lieutenant General Mykola Oleshchuk thanked Ukrainian pilots on April 14 for conducting a successful strike against an unspecified Russian military object in occupied Luhansk Oblast on April 13.[37] Ukrainian Air Force Spokesperson Major Ilya Yevlash stated that Ukrainian pilots struck a Russian control post in occupied Luhansk Oblast with Storm Shadow/SCALP missiles and noted that Ukraine needs additional long-range missiles to conduct similar strikes against Russian military infrastructure in occupied Ukraine.[38] Russian sources claimed on April 13 that Ukrainian forces conducted a Storm Shadow strike against the Luhansk Machine Building Plant in occupied Luhansk City.[39]

 

Russian Subordinate Main Effort #2 – Donetsk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)

Positional engagements continued northeast of Bakhmut on April 14. Positional engagements continued east of Siversk near Verkhnokamyanske; southeast of Siversk near Vyimka, Spirne, and Vesele; and south of Siversk near Rozdolivka.[40]

 

Russian forces recently made confirmed advances east of Chasiv Yar on April 14 and continued offensive operations in the area. Geolocated footage published on April 14 indicates that Russian forces advanced northeast of the Kanal Microraion (easternmost Chasiv Yar) and along a windbreak southeast of Chasiv Yar.[41] A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces advanced north of Ivanivske, although ISW has not observed visual evidence of this claim.[42] Fighting continued near the Novyi Microraion in southeastern Chasiv Yar; northeast of Chasiv Yar near Bohdanivka; southeast of Chasiv Yar near Klishchiivka, Andriivka, and Opytne; and south of Chasiv Yar near Niu York.[43] Ukrainian Khortytsia Group of Forces Spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Nazar Voloshyn stated that Russian forces are assaulting Chasiv Yar and the surrounding areas in small assault groups “almost 24 hours a day” and that the Bakhmut and Avdiivka directions are the most active sectors of the frontline in eastern Ukraine).[44] Elements of the Russian 58th Spetsnaz Battalion (1st Donetsk People’s Republic Army Corps [DNR AC]) are reportedly operating near Chasiv Yar; elements of the 11th Airborne (VDV) Brigade are reportedly operating near Ivanivske; and elements of the “Alexander Nevsky” Volunteer Reconnaissance and Assault Brigade (Volunteer Corps) are reportedly operating near Klishchiivka.[45]

 

Russian forces recently made a confirmed advance west of Avdiivka, amid continued Russian offensive operations in the area on April 14. Geolocated footage published on April 14 indicates that Russian forces recently advanced east of Novobakhmutivka (northwest of Avdiivka).[46] Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces advanced in the direction of Yasnobrodivka (west of Avdiivka), although ISW has not observed visual evidence of this claim.[47] Fighting continued northwest of Avdiivka near Novobakhmutivka, Novokalynove, and Berdychi; west of Avdiivka near Semenivka, Umanske, and Tonenke; and southwest of Avdiivka near Pervomaiske, Vodyane, and Nevelske.[48] Elements of the Russian 114th Motorized Rifle Brigade (1st DNR AC) reportedly continue operating near Semenivka.[49]

Ukrainian forces recently regained a position southwest of Donetsk City amid continued positional fighting in the area on April 14. Geolocated footage published on April 13 shows that Ukrainian forces marginally advanced along Timiryazeva Street in southwestern Novomykhailivka (southwest of Donetsk City).[50] Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces continued advancing westward along Tsentralna Street in central Novomykhailivka, although ISW has not observed visual confirmation of this claim.[51] Positional fighting also continued west of Donetsk City near Krasnohorivka and Heorhiivka.[52]

 

Positional fighting continued in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area on April 14. Positional fighting continued south of Velyka Novosilka near Staromayorske and Urozhaine.[53] Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command Spokesperson Colonel Nataliya Humenyuk stated that Russian forces in southern Ukraine — likely referring to the frontline between Kamyanske, Zaporizhia Oblast (northwest of Robotyne) to Vuhledar, Donetsk Oblast — are rotating units and are shifting assaults east to the Velyka Novosilka area.[54] Humenyuk stated that Ukrainian forces are observing an increased number of Russian assaults near Velyka Novosilka and fewer near Robotyne and that Russian forces are not using armored vehicles in these assaults.

Russian Supporting Effort – Southern Axis (Russian objective: Maintain frontline positions and secure rear areas against Ukrainian strikes)

Positional fighting continued near Robotyne and northwest of Verbove (east of Robotyne) in western Zaporizhia Oblast on April 14.[55] Elements of the Russian 7th Airborne (VDV) Division are reportedly operating near Robotyne.[56]

 

Positional fighting continued in the east (left) bank of Kherson Oblast, including near Krynky, on April 14.[57]

 

Russian Air, Missile, and Drone Campaign (Russian Objective: Target Ukrainian military and civilian infrastructure in the rear and on the frontline)

Russian forces conducted a limited series of missile and drone strikes against Ukraine on the night of April 13 to 14 and later on April 14. Ukrainian military officials reported that Russian forces launched 10 Shahed-136/131 drones from Kursk Oblast and four S-300/S-400 missiles from occupied Donetsk Oblast.[58] Ukrainian officials reported that Ukrainian forces downed all 10 Shahed drones over Kharkiv Oblast and that Russian forces struck Selydove, Donetsk Oblast with the four S-300 missiles and a D-30 universal joint glide munition (UMPB), a guided glide bomb.[59] Kharkiv Oblast Military Administration Head Oleh Synehubov stated that Russian forces struck critical infrastructure in Kharkiv City with at least two Shaheds, however.[60] Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command reported that Ukrainian forces destroyed two Russian Kh-59 cruise missiles targeting Odesa City later on April 14.[61]

Russian Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts (Russian objective: Expand combat power without conducting general mobilization)

See topline text.

Russian Technological Adaptations (Russian objective: Introduce technological innovations to optimize systems for use in Ukraine)

Nothing significant to report.

Ukrainian Defense Industrial Efforts (Ukrainian objective: Develop its defense industrial base to become more self-sufficient in cooperation with US, European, and international partners)

ISW is not publishing coverage of Ukrainian defense industrial efforts today.

Activities in Russian-occupied areas (Russian objective: Consolidate administrative control of annexed areas; forcibly integrate Ukrainian citizens into Russian sociocultural, economic, military, and governance systems)

ISW is not publishing coverage of activities in Russian-occupied area today.

Russian Information Operations and Narratives

Ukrainian officials warned that Russian forces may be preparing to conduct a false flag provocation at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) amid Russian accusations that Ukrainian forces are behind recent alleged drone strikes against the ZNPP. The Ukrainian General Staff warned on April 14 that intelligence indicates that Russia is preparing to conduct another false flag provocation at the ZNPP.[62] Russian sources have recently accused Ukrainian forces of conducting drone strikes against the ZNPP and this information operation could be part of the Kremlin’s effort to lay the groundwork for a false flag attack at the ZNPP.[63] Russia has routinely raised the specter of a radiological incident at the ZNPP to prompt negotiations with international organizations, including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), that aim to force these organizations to meet with Russian occupation officials and legitimize Russia’s occupation of the ZNPP and by extension Russia’s occupation of sovereign Ukrainian land.[64]

Significant activity in Belarus (Russian efforts to increase its military presence in Belarus and further integrate Belarus into Russian-favorable frameworks and Wagner Group activity in Belarus)

Nothing significant to report.

Note: ISW does not receive any classified material from any source, uses only publicly available information, and draws extensively on Russian, Ukrainian, and Western reporting and social media as well as commercially available satellite imagery and other geospatial data as the basis for these reports. References to all sources used are provided in the endnotes of each update.

 


[1] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/iran-update-april-13-2024

[2] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/special-report-russian-strikes-more-effective-ukraine-exhausts-defenses

[3] https://twitter.com/IDF/status/1779503384434819454 ; https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog_entry/iran-strike-caused-slight-damage-to-idf-military-base-military-spokesman/

[4] https://www.i24news dot tv/en/news/israel-at-war/artc-amid-escalating-tension-israel-on-high-alert-for-iranian-attack-live-updates

[5] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-january-23-2024 ; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-january-8-2024 ; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-january-2-2024 ; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-december-29-2023 ; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-7-2024 ; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-april-11-2024 ; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-22-2024 ; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-29-2024%C2%A0

[6] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/special-report-russian-strikes-more-effective-ukraine-exhausts-defenses

[7] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/special-report-russian-strikes-more-effective-ukraine-exhausts-defenses

[8] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/special-report-russian-strikes-more-effective-ukraine-exhausts-defenses ; https://isw.pub/UkrWar041324 ; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-april-6-2024

[9] https://isw.pub/UkrWar032224

[10] https://isw.pub/UkrWar032224

[11] https://isw.pub/UkrWar032924

[12] https://isw.pub/UkrWar041124 ; https://euromaidanpress dot com/2024/04/12/russians-hit-trypilska-power-station-with-five-kh-69-missiles-on-11-april/

[13] https://isw.pub/UkrWar041124

[14] https://isw.pub/UkrWar041124

[15] https://www.cnn.com/2024/04/14/europe/russia-tactics-ukraine-energy-power-strikes-intl/index.html

[16] https://www.cnn.com/2024/04/14/europe/russia-tactics-ukraine-energy-power-strikes-intl/index.html

[17] https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2024/03/29/ukraine-russia-airstrikes-energy-war/ ; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/special-report-russian-strikes-more-effective-ukraine-exhausts-defenses

[18] https://t.me/MID_Russia/38669 ; https://twitter.com/iran_un/status/1779269993043022053?s=46&t=1sf9TeAul0X5cDCMsI9AAg

[19] https://t.me/tass_agency/243922 ; https://t.me/MID_Russia/38682 ; https://mid dot ru/ru/foreign_policy/news/1944225/

[20] https://t.me/MID_Russia/38671

[21] https://t.me/dva_majors/39925 ; https://t.me/dva_majors/39951 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/120129 ; https://t.me/prigozhin_2023_tg/10066 ; https://t.me/negumanitarnaya_pomosch_Z/16802 ; https://t.me/negumanitarnaya_pomosch_Z/16813

[22] https://t.me/basurin_e/10464 ; https://t.me/dva_majors/39951

[23] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-october-8-2023 ; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-october-9-2023 ; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-october-10-2023

[24] https://isw.pub/UkrWar041324 ; https://isw.pub/UkrWarO41224

[25] https://t.me/osirskiy/652

[26] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/kremlin%E2%80%99s-pyrrhic-victory-bakhmut-retrospective-battle-bakhmut ; https://isw.pub/UkrWar021724 ; https://isw.pub/UkrWar021824

[27] https://t.me/motopatriot/21694 ; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-october-18 ; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-16-2023 ; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-2-2023

[28] https://t.me/zvizdecmanhustu/1778

[29] https://t.me/zvizdecmanhustu/1778

[30] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-31-2024https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/April%2010%20Russian%20Offensive%20Campaign%20Assessment%20PDF.pdf; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-19-2024

[31] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-22-2024https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/April%2010%20Russian%20Offensive%20Campaign%20Assessment%20PDF.pdfhttps://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Russian%20Offensive%20Campaign%20Assessment%20April%206%2C%202024%20%28PDF%29.pdf

[32] https://t.me/osetin20/8308 ; https://t.me/dva_majors/39922; https://twitter.com/666_mancer/status/1779426949279977736

[33] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-29-2024https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-october-20-2023https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/2023-12-22-PDF-Russian%20Offensive%20Campaign%20Assessment_0.pdfhttps://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Russian%20Offensive%20Campaign%20Assessment%2C%20January%2021%2C%202024%20PDF_0.pdfhttps://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Jan%2027%2C%202024%20Russian%20Offensive%20Campaign%20Assessment%20PDF.pdfhttps://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-18-2024; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-november-17-2023

[34] https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Russian%20Offensive%20Campaign%20Assessment%2C%20March%207%2C%202024%20PDF.pdfhttps://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Russian%20Offensive%20Campaign%20Assessment%2C%20March%2010%2C%202024%20%28PDF%29.pdfhttps://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Sept%2026%20Russian%20Offensive%20Campaign%20Assessment%20PDF_0.pdfhttps://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Russian%20Offensive%20Campaign%20Assessment%20February%2024%202024.pdfhttps://understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Russian%20Offensive%20Campaign%20Assessment%20March%2020%2C%202024%20%28PDF%29.pdf;

[35] https://x.com/Ryan72101/status/1779413953791049830https://t.me/AptiAlaudinovAKHMAT/3945

[36] https://t.me/motopatriot/21679

[37] https://t.me/ComAFUA/266 ; https://t.me/luhanskaVTSA/18219

[38] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/04/14/u-povitryanyh-sylah-rozpovily-detali-urazhennya-punktu-upravlinnya-vijsk-rf-u-lugansku/

[39] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-april-13-2024

[40] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid029nobnM4YUr6zH81HR9msAfDf8MhERx8xUeQPfyW7EL2HHAPkQVmPPmrLLo4LvfZWl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0fGbgSY6GU6zEUzB6JyTjVkZi6Pf49RnFvTEyYu3LtQobQYSWxeH1NWYhiK8fqvA8l ; https://t.me/mod_russia/37624

[41] https://t.me/creamy_caprice/5124; https://t.me/creamy_caprice/5123; https://t.me/Khortytsky_wind/115

[42] https://t.me/z_arhiv/26512

[43] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0fGbgSY6GU6zEUzB6JyTjVkZi6Pf49RnFvTEyYu3LtQobQYSWxeH1NWYhiK8fqvA8l ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid029nobnM4YUr6zH81HR9msAfDf8MhERx8xUeQPfyW7EL2HHAPkQVmPPmrLLo4LvfZWl ; https://t.me/wargonzo/19359 ; https://t.me/rybar/59142

[44] https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/04/14/obstanovka-na-shodi-zagostrylas-ale-zalyshayetsya-kontrolovanoyu-rechnyk-osuv-hortyczya/

[45] https://t.me/nm_dnr/12090 ; https://t.me/NeoficialniyBeZsonoV/35051 ; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/66097 ; https://t.me/Sladkov_plus/10242

[46] https://x.com/Bielitzling/status/1779494940906541234; https://x.com/PuenteUribarri/status/1779440408935694368; https://x.com/VigorousFalcon/status/1779498463169741127; https://t.me/creamy_caprice/5122; https://t.me/Khortytsky_wind/115

[47] https://t.me/wargonzo/19359 ; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/9522

[48] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid029nobnM4YUr6zH81HR9msAfDf8MhERx8xUeQPfyW7EL2HHAPkQVmPPmrLLo4LvfZWl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02d8rzFh5TCDwuJPwepbauD7fT4rnvaeynPNTsRUkbtHBJuKi88GNjkwFh4JScTFfcl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0fGbgSY6GU6zEUzB6JyTjVkZi6Pf49RnFvTEyYu3LtQobQYSWxeH1NWYhiK8fqvA8l ; https://t.me/mod_russia/37624 ; https://t.me/rybar/59142 ; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/9522 ; https://t.me/wargonzo/19359

[49] https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/9549

[50] https://t.me/creamy_caprice/5116; https://t.me/voin_dv/7910

[51] https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/9550; https://t.me/motopatriot/21674

[52] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid029nobnM4YUr6zH81HR9msAfDf8MhERx8xUeQPfyW7EL2HHAPkQVmPPmrLLo4LvfZWl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02d8rzFh5TCDwuJPwepbauD7fT4rnvaeynPNTsRUkbtHBJuKi88GNjkwFh4JScTFfcl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0fGbgSY6GU6zEUzB6JyTjVkZi6Pf49RnFvTEyYu3LtQobQYSWxeH1NWYhiK8fqvA8lhttps://t.me/mod_russia/37621; https://t.me/wargonzo/19359

[53] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid029nobnM4YUr6zH81HR9msAfDf8MhERx8xUeQPfyW7EL2HHAPkQVmPPmrLLo4LvfZWl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02d8rzFh5TCDwuJPwepbauD7fT4rnvaeynPNTsRUkbtHBJuKi88GNjkwFh4JScTFfcl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0fGbgSY6GU6zEUzB6JyTjVkZi6Pf49RnFvTEyYu3LtQobQYSWxeH1NWYhiK8fqvA8l; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/9524

[54] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/04/14/u-sylah-oborony-rozpovily-pro-rotacziyi-voroga-i-zminu-napryamkiv-shturmovyh-dij/

[55] https://t.me/rybar/59142 ; https://t.me/dva_majors/39913 ; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/9514

[56] https://t.me/boris_rozhin/120209 (Robotyne)

[57] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid029nobnM4YUr6zH81HR9msAfDf8MhERx8xUeQPfyW7EL2HHAPkQVmPPmrLLo4LvfZWl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02d8rzFh5TCDwuJPwepbauD7fT4rnvaeynPNTsRUkbtHBJuKi88GNjkwFh4JScTFfcl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0fGbgSY6GU6zEUzB6JyTjVkZi6Pf49RnFvTEyYu3LtQobQYSWxeH1NWYhiK8fqvA8l ; https://www.facebook.com/OperationalCommandSouth/posts/pfbid032zzSV4wyWZeJY2NJDFpoHpXnUhRYqZdDoLh1F6WgnkRizFUcgvNbMiHivX5tomM6l

[58] https://t.me/ComAFUA/265 ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid026EPzHJcVrvTxwTftWv2GDDLHxfGMppSV58o9XDjAUTRZ2R7PvSyxjSnKzARrEC7Cl

[59] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/04/14/vijska-rf-atakuvaly-selydove-raketamy-s-300-ta-aviabomboyu/ ; https://t.me/selidyvskamva/15561

[60] https://t.me/synegubov/9071 ; https://t.me/synegubov/9075

[61] https://t.me/SJTF_Odes/8248

[62] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02TXTJRGuko3LrqZBfoJP7yePw1f27BZchGLA81pTQgk2qv9x9KiRACcc28jUzcfG6l ; https://t.me/SJTF_Odes/8240 ; https://t.me/orlovdmytroEn/3916

[63] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-april-7-2024 ; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-april-10-2024 ; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-april-8-2024

[64] https://isw.pub/UkrWar030824 ; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-april-7-2024 ; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-june-30-2023