Ukraine Situation Report: Pentagon Promises More Bradleys, Strykers

With the Ukrainian counteroffensive going slower than anticipated because of deeply dug-in, heavily-mined Russian defenses causing personnel and equipment losses, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday Kyiv promised additional deliveries of armor and artillery pieces.

Ukraine’s allies will “continue to provide platforms,” Austin said during a press conference following the 14th meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group (UDCG). “We talked about the additional leverage and infantry fighting vehicles that are on the horizon, as well as artillery pieces and so we’re going to continue to generate combat power. We’re going to continue to push in additional Bradley Fighting Vehicles and also Strykers and artillery pieces.”

There were no announcements of new arms shipments to Ukraine on Tuesday and Austin did not provide details about how many additional armored vehicles and artillery pieces the U.S. will send or when.

Asked later by The War Zone for additional details, a Pentagon spokesman said more information would be available when an announcement is made. Earlier on Tuesday, Reuters reported that the U.S. would in the coming days announce a new, $1.3 billion aid package to provide Ukraine with additional “air defenses, counter-drone systems, exploding drones and ammunition.” That package will be provided through Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative Funds, which means the equipment will be purchased from industry as opposed to providing it from existing stocks.

According to the Oryx open source intelligence group, Ukraine has seen 15 Bradleys destroyed, 16 damaged and four damaged and abandoned. The U.S. has promised a total of 190 Bradleys. The U.S. has promised a total of 157 Strykers. Oryx has reported no Strykers lost. Those loss figures, of course, could be higher because Oryx only tabulates vehicles for which is has visual confirmation of major damage or loss.

There have been several videos and images emerging on social media of Bradleys in combat, but there have been few, if any, of Strykers. It is unknown why, though it is possible they are being held in reserve along with the bulk of Ukrainian forces set aside for the full brunt of the counteroffensive. Still, while additional Bradleys have been sent to replace lost ones, more Strykers have also been sent without word of any losses of the type.

Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman Army Gen. Mark Milley on Tuesday were addressing reporters after a meeting of the UDCG, an international group of some 50 nations working to supply Ukraine for its defense against Russia.

So far, the U.S. and allies have “trained 17 brigade combat teams – 63,000 Ukrainian troops,” said Milley. And that training continues with additional troops.

Asked if Ukraine’s now six-week-old counteroffensive was stalled or a failure, Milley said neither. He said that though war games held ahead of the counteroffensive showed that it would progress more rapidly than it has, Russia’s defensive lines have proven a great challenge.

“The Russians have had several months to put in a very complex linear defense-in-depth,” said Milley. “It’s not quite connected trench lines like World War I, but it’s not dissimilar from that either. Lots of complex minefields, Dragon’s Teeth, barbed wire, trenches, etc. They’ve got a very extensive security zone in depth, and then they’ve got at least two, perhaps even three main defensive belts, so they’ve had a lot of time to prepare them.”

Ukraine, meanwhile, has “a significant amount of combat power not yet committed,” said Milley, without offering specifics. “And I will not say what’s going to happen in the future, because that’s going to be a Ukrainian decision as to where and when they commit their reserves, etc.”

At the moment, Ukraine is “preserving” its “combat power, and then slowly and deliberately steadily working their way through all these minefields, and it’s a tough fight,” said Milley. “Very difficult, but it started about five or six weeks ago, and the various war games that were done ahead of time predicted certain levels of advance, and that has slowed down. Why? Because that’s the difference between war on paper and real war. “

The counteroffensive, he said, “is far from a failure. In my view, I think that it’s way too early to make that kind of call.”

The progress of this counteroffensive, plus any advances the Russians might make, are things we will keep a close eye on.

Before we head into the latest from Ukraine, The War Zone readers can catch up on our previous rolling coverage here.

The Latest

In an interview with the BBC published Tuesday, Ukrainian Gen Oleksandr Syrskyi offered some explanation of why Kyiv still fights for Bakhmut.

For Syrskyi, recapturing Bakhmut is “a matter of honor,” the BBC reported. “We lost many of our brothers, our servicemen, when we were defending Bakhmut… therefore we simply have to return it.”

Syrskyi also confirmed that U.S.-supplied Dual-Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions (DPICMs) cluster munitions had now arrived in Ukraine and would be ready to use within days. That’s something we reported about last week, which you can read more about here.

“We saw the US-supplied M777 howitzers, which will fire the shells, already in position around Bakhmut,” the BBC reported.

On the battlefield, Ukraine is making slow, incremental progress, then stopping to reassess before pushing off again, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said Tuesday on her Telegram channel.

“On the directions Mala Tokmachka-Novopokrovka and Velika Novosilka-Urozhayne, our defenders were successful,” she said of the fighting in Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk oblasts. “They are taking hold at the reached boundaries. The initiative is on our side.”

Russian forces, she added, are putting up a fierce resistance.

“The enemy’s task is to stop our advance,” she said. “And they put a lot of effort into it. Our enemy is strong. Therefore, our troops have to move in extremely difficult conditions.”

Maliar hinted at things to come, likening the pace of this counteroffensive to that of last Fall’s in Kherson.

“It is necessary to create certain conditions for further promotion,” she said. “And it takes time. Remember the liberation of Kherson – it was also more than one day.”

As for Kupiansk, where a Ukrainian military spokesman yesterday said Russian forces had amassed more than 100,000 troops and more than 900 tanks, Maliar said the Russian offensive there “is currently unsuccessful. The battles continue, but the initiative is already on our side.”

In and around Bakmut, meanwhile, Ukraine continues to make advances, she said.

For its part, the Russian Defense Ministry said that its forces inflicted heavy losses on Ukrainian troops and equipment across the front lines.

Russian troops repelled Ukrainian attempts to advance in Donetsk and Zaporizhia, the Russian MoD said.

And contrary to Maliar’s statement about Kupiansk, the influential Russian Archangel of The Special Forces Telegram channel says Russian troops are approaching that city in Kharkiv Oblast.

The Russian Armed Forces “are actively advancing in the Kupiansk direction, and according to sources, they have approached the line of sight to Kupiansk,” Archangel of the Special Force reported Tuesday. “There are fights. The enemy is in big trouble.”

A day after Vladimir Putin promised a response to Sunday’s attack on the Kerch Strait Bridge, Russia launched six Kalibr sea-launched cruise missiles and 36 Iranian-made Shahed-type attack drones at targets in Odesa and Mykoliav, according to the Ukrainian General Staff Facebook account. 

The Ukrainian General Staff claimed that all six missiles and 31 of the attack drones were destroyed.

However, “the fragments of hit rockets and the explosive wave from the hit damaged port infrastructure facilities and several private homes,” Ukraine’s Operational Command South said on its Facebook page. “An elderly man was injured in his own house, he is hospitalized.”

“It has been quite a long time since there was an attack with various types of sea- or air-based missiles,” Yuriy Ignat, the spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force, said at a news conference Tuesday, according to The New York Times.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that strikes were in retaliation for the attack on the Kerch Bridge, which Ukrainian and Russian officials have said was carried out by uncrewed surface vessels.

The Russian Defense Ministry (MoD) claimed on its Telegram channel that it carried out the attack “with precision sea-based weapons against facilities where terrorist acts against Russian troops were prepared using unmanned boats, as well as the place where it was manufactured at a ship repair plant near Odesa.”

The Russian MoD also claimed that it destroyed fuel storage facilities with a total of about 70,000 tons of fuel for Ukraine’s military stored close to Mykolaiv and Odesa.

Ukrainian presidential advisor Andriy Yermak published a photo on his Telegram channel Tuesday he said showed one of the Iranian-made drones shot down over Mykoliav that he said contained “a foreign engine carburetor.”

“The carburetor, as well as hundreds of other parts, are made in Western and Asian countries,” Yermak said. “Russians often erase serial numbers in foreign components. In the second photo, you can see the part with the erased serial number.”

Yermak called for added sanctions against companies manufacturing these components.

You can read more about how Iranian drones are loaded with foreign components in our coverage here.

Hours after the barrage, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) administrator Susan Power arrived in Odesa to announce that the U.S., “through its Agriculture Resilience Initiative-Ukraine (AGRI-Ukraine), is providing an additional $250 million to support Ukraine’s agriculture sector that has been battered by Russia’s aggression,” according to USAID. “This brings the U.S. government’s total investment in the AGRI-Ukraine initiative to $350 million.”

Power also denounced Russia’s decision to suspend participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative “that is hugely important in moving Ukrainian food to the global market.”

The Crimean peninsula, meanwhile, was subjected to an attempted attack by a large wave of aerial drones, according to Russian authorities and milbloggers. 

“At night, in the east of Crimea, air defense forces shot down nine UAVs, another 19 were suppressed by electronic warfare,” Crimean occupation governor Sergei Aksenov said Tuesday on his Telegram channel. “There were no casualties.”

The Russian Defense Ministry reported on its Telegram channel that 28 Ukrainian drones tried to attack Crimea while “another 11 were intercepted by electronic warfare means and crashed without reaching their target. There were no casualties or damage as a result of the foiled terrorist attack.”

The Kremlin-connected Rybar Telegram channel concurred that the attempted attack caused no damage, but offered additional details, including an even larger number of Ukrainian drones that were downed.

Beginning at about 1 a.m. local time Tuesday, “five groups of UAVs from the Shkolny airfield in Odesa took off in several directions,” Rybar wrote Tuesday.

Russian air defense units “destroyed 17 drones from the Pantsir anti-aircraft missile and gun system and small arms near Capes Tarkhankut and Priboyny, as well as Razdolie, Olenevka and Portovoy,” according to Rybar.

According to the Rybar Telegram channel, several Ukrainian drones were downed by electronic warfare around Cape Tarkhankut in eastern Crimea. (Google Earth image)

Rybar also noted that “at least one reconnaissance UAV of an unidentified type took off from the airfield in Chernobaevka near Kherson, which provided visual tracking for kamikaze drones from Karkinitsky Bay. After the raid, [it] returned.”

The attack “was the most massive in recent months, but our servicemen successfully repelled it,” said Rybar. “None of the UAVs reached the target. Moreover, only a couple of drones were shot down by anti-aircraft weapons – the air defense rifle detachments achieved the greatest result, which proves their effectiveness against low-flying targets.”

The War Zone could not independently verify these claims.

Images of Russian Navy Project 775II Ropucha II-class Kaliningrad and Project 775 Ropucha I-class Olenegorskiy Gornyak amphibious landing ships emerged transiting near the Kerch Bridge on Monday.

But even before the most recent attack on that span, which has severely reduced motor vehicle traffic, the Russian Navy began using its large landing craft to ferry trucks across the strait. The ferry service began earlier this month in response to severe holiday season traffic over the bridge that resulted from a lack of air transport, the Russian Izvestia news outlet reported on July 7.

A few days earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin order the use of ferry crossings to reduce the waiting time.

During the meeting with Putin, Transportation Minister Vitaly Savelyev said the Russian Defense Ministry was “ready to provide two large landing ships, each of which takes 40 vehicles,” Izvestia reported.

While that helped alleviate the traffic jams at the time, Russian officials noted that the “peak situation is expected on July 16-17,” Izvestia reported.

The bridge was attacked Sunday, July 16 and by Tuesday, traffic was barely restored.

“Russian tourists fleeing occupied Crimea likely exacerbated traffic and likely impeded Russian logistics from Crimea to rear areas in Zaporizhia and Kherson oblasts,” the Institute for the Study of War reported Sunday. “Occupation authorities asked civilians to consider alternate evacuation routes to mitigate the immediate traffic issues.”

Germany’s Bundeswehr has agreed to a $1.7 billion deal to purchase “several hundred thousand” artillery shells from the Rheinmetall arms maker, the company announced Tuesday. 

“The need to replenish stores of ammunition caused by the war in Ukraine is resulting in major artillery ammunition contracts for Rheinmetall,” the company said in a release. “In all, the scope of delivery encompasses several hundred thousand shells of various types, including fuses and propelling charges.” 

Ukraine, meanwhile, is ramping up its own 155mm artillery shell production. It recently signed two contracts with the Belgian Europlasma group’s Les Forges de Tarbes subsidiary for the purchase a total of 420,000 large hollow bodies for 155mm shells, according to the French La Tribune publication. The first contract calls for the delivery of 60,000 large hollow bodies to be delivered in 2024 the publication reported.

On July 17, the company announced it signed a deal, lasting at least three years, to deliver an additional 120,000 large hollow bodies per year beginning in 2026.

The publication did not specify the cost of the deal.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky came out swinging during an interview with African journalists.

“We were cut off from the electricity in the winter,” he said. “There has not been a blackout on this continent for 100 years. The last blackout was under Hitler. He (Putin) is doing the same as Hitler. The ways of capturing Ukraine were the same as in fascist Germany. He did all the same, only he did not take Kyiv.”

A Swedish-donated CV9040C Infantry Fighting Vehicle was recently spotted in Ukraine with Saab’s Barracuda camouflage designed to defeat “hostile sensors and target acquisition systems in all phases of the mission.”

More video has emerged of Ukrainian First Person Video (FPV) drones attacking Russian equipment.

The Ukrainian General Staff shared video of an Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter in action on the battlefield.

The Ukrainian Air Force shared a video of an Su-25 Frogfoot attack jet firing unguided Zuni rockets at Russian positions. The first evidence of the use of those U.S.-donated rockets emerged in May, which you can read more about in our story here.

And finally, Russian commentators seem to be fed up and having none of it with the country’s elites.

That’s it for now. We’ll update this story when there’s more news to report about Ukraine.

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Howard Altman Avatar

Howard Altman

Senior Staff Writer

Howard is a Senior Staff Writer for The War Zone, and a former Senior Managing Editor for Military Times. Prior to this, he covered military affairs for the Tampa Bay Times as a Senior Writer. Howard’s work has appeared in various publications including Yahoo News, RealClearDefense, and Air Force Times.