Even as Russian forces push to conquer all of Ukraine’s Donbas region, conditions in the areas already under their control are deteriorating to the point that a massive outbreak of disease is looming over the civilian population of Mariupol, according to the U.K. Ministry of Defence.
Russia now controls most of the eastern city of Severodonetsk. Still, it has not been able to close a pincer maneuver around the wider Ukrainian salient in the east, according to the U.K. MoD’s latest intelligence assessment. While fighting continues to rage, Russia is “struggling to provide basic services to the population” in the territory it occupies.
“Access to safe drinking water has been inconsistent, while major disruption to telephone and internet services continues,” the U.K. MoD said. “There is likely a critical shortage of medicines in Kherson, while Mariupol is at risk of a major cholera outbreak. Isolated cases of cholera have been reported since May.”
A major cholera epidemic hit Ukraine in 1995, and several outbreaks since along the Azov Sea coast. Cholera is a bacterial infection of the small intestines that causes diarrhea and vomiting. Usually contracted from contaminated water supplies, it can be fatal. Another outbreak in Mariupol could further stress medical services in the region.
While the fighting has largely stalled, devolving into an artillery duel in Ukraine’s east and south, plenty has happened in the last 24 hours. Catch up on it all in this previous situation report.
U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace traveled to Kyiv for two days this week to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky and Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov. The meetings focused on the UK continuing to provide operationally effective lethal aid that meets Ukraine's current and future needs.
The meetings occurred at nearly the same time as a pro-Russian court in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) separatist state sentenced two British men and a Moroccan national to death for fighting with Ukrainian forces.
The European Parliament has announced it supports Ukraine becoming a member of the European Union. The move would enroll Ukraine in the EU economic bloc, which would give it direct access to European markets and consumers and promote the free movement of labor and services across its borders with EU member states. It does not carry mutual military assistance assurances as would membership in NATO.
NATO is propping up Ukraine’s military with much-needed artillery ammunition, but those rounds are being rapidly expended in duels with Russian batteries in the Donbas, according to a new report from The Guardian.
Vadym Skibitsky, deputy head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, told the outlet that “this is an artillery war now.” Ukraine is “losing in terms of artillery,” he said. Ukraine has used up most of its artillery, firing between 5,000 and 6,000 of its Soviet-era artillery rounds at Russian forces daily, Skibitsky said. He said that Ukrainian forces are now almost entirely dependent on NATO-supplied 155mm artillery systems and ammunition.
Ukraine is racking up some hits with all that expended ordnance, including what has been identified as a critical base used by Wagner Group, a shadowy private Russian mercenary company, in the Donbas. Videos of the torched base popped up online.
Ukraine is suffering its share of equipment and personnel losses in the fighting. As many as 200 Ukrainian troops are killed each day according to a report by the BBC, up from about 60-100 daily troop deaths Zelenskyy estimated a few days ago.
Counted among Ukrainian equipment losses are increasing numbers and types of Western-supplied weapon systems, like this M777 towed howitzer near Lysychansk, in the middle of the most hotly contested swathe of eastern Ukraine.
Another DANA self-propelled 152mm howitzer donated by the Czech Republic showed up in Ukrainian Army service.
Ukrainian airborne forces showed off using their U.K.-supplied Martlet lightweight multirole missiles as surface-to-air weapons capable of shooting down Russian drones like the Orlan-10 fixed-wing unmanned aerial system.
Similar man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) struck this Russian Su-25 Grach but did not down the close air support jet. The pilot apparently was able to return to base and land the aircraft, which undoubtedly will need extensive repair if it ever returns to flight status.
Whatever a Russian Navy warship anchored in Sevastopol was aiming at was not hit by an air-defense missile it supposedly launched on Friday. It stands to reason that Russian sailors are nervous about Ukrainian air strikes on their Navy, which has suffered a handful of historic losses at the hands of drones and missiles. The tactic of in-port launches is not something new to Russian naval forces.
Check out this Spetsnaz soldier with a tricked out PK-1:
We are also seeing more images of Russia's tiny fleet of Terminator fighting vehicles now operating on the battlefield in Ukraine:
We will continue to update this post with new information until we state otherwise.
Contact the author: Dan@thewarzone.com