Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, October 14
Karolina Hird, Katherine Lawlor, Grace Mappes, George Barros, and Frederick W. Kagan
October 14, 7:00 pm 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.
Russian President Vladimir Putin likely attempted to make a virtue of necessity by announcing that his “partial” mobilization will end in “about two weeks”—the same time the postponed fall conscription cycle is set to begin. Putin told reporters on October 14 that “nothing additional is planned” and that "partial mobilization is almost over." As ISW previously reported, Putin announced the postponement of Russia’s usual autumn conscription cycle from October 1 to November 1 on September 30, likely because Russia’s partial mobilization is taxing the bureaucracy of the Russian military commissariats that oversee the semiannual conscription cycle. Putin therefore likely needs to pause or end his partial mobilization to free up bureaucratic resources for conscription. Putin ordered the conscription of 120,000 men for the autumn cycle, 7,000 fewer than in autumn 2021. However, Russia’s annexation of occupied Ukraine changes the calculus for conscripts. Russian law generally prohibits the deployment of conscripts abroad. Russian law now considers Russian-occupied Kherson, Zaporizhia, Donetsk, and Luhansk oblasts to be Russian territory, however, ostensibly legalizing the use of conscripts on the front lines.
Putin may intend for mobilized personnel to plug gaps in Russia’s frontlines long enough for the autumn conscripts to receive some training and form additional units to improve Russian combat power in 2023. Putin confirmed on October 14 that mobilized personnel are receiving little training before they are sent to the frontlines. Putin announced that of the 220,000 people who have been mobilized since his September 21 order, 35,000 are already in Russian military units and 16,000 are already in units “involved in combat missions.” Putin also outlined the training these mobilized forces allegedly receive: 5-10 days of “initial training,” 5-15 days of training with combat units, “then the next stage is already directly in the troops taking part in hostilities.” This statement corroborates dozens of anecdotal reports from Russian outlets, milbloggers, and mobilized personnel of untrained, unequipped, and utterly unprepared men being rushed to the frontlines, where some have already surrendered to Ukrainian forces and others have been killed. Even the 10 days of training that mobilized personnel may receive likely does not consist of actual combat preparation for most units; anecdotal reports suggest that men in some units wandered around training grounds without commanding officers, food, or shelter for several days before being shipped to Ukraine. Many would-be trainers and officers were likely injured or killed in Ukraine before mobilization began. Russian training grounds are also likely understaffed, a problem that will likely persist into the autumn conscription cycle. The Ukrainian General Staff reported on October 14 that Russian military officials in Krasnodar Krai suspended sending mobilized persons to the training grounds in Primorsko-Akhtarsk until November 1 because Russian training grounds are not ready to accommodate, train or comprehensively provide for a large number of personnel.
Ukrainian and Western officials continue to reiterate that they have observed no indicators of preparations for a Belarusian invasion of Ukraine, despite alarmist reports in the Belarusian information space that President Alexander Lukashenko has introduced a “counter-terrorist operation” regime. Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei gave an interview to Russian outlet Izvestia on October 14 wherein he claimed that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko introduced a ”counter-terrorist operation regime” after a meeting with several law enforcement agencies. Makei cited concern that unspecified neighboring states were planning provocations related to seizure of areas of Belarusian territory. This claim was amplified by several Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Russian sources, who claimed that as part of the ”counter-terrorist operation regime,” Lukashenko began deploying groups of Belarusian forces supplemented by Russian troops. Belarusian opposition outlet Nasha Niva claimed that as part of this regime, Belarusian forces are conducting covert mobilization under the guise of combat readiness checks. However, Lukashenko emphasized in a comment to the press that there has been no introduction of a ”counter-terrorist operation regime” and that he has instead introduced a ”regime of a heightened terrorist threat.”
Despite the contradicting claims of an escalated preparatory regime in Belarus, White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told Voice of America that there are no indicators that Belarusian troops are preparing to enter Ukraine. ISW continues to assess that joint Belarusian and Russian forces will not invade Ukraine from the territory of Belarus. Russian forces continue to attrit their own combat capabilities as they impale themselves on attempts to capture tiny villages in Donbas and simply do not have the combat-effective mechanized troops available to supplement a Belarusian incursion into northern Ukraine and certainly not to conduct a mechanized drive on Kyiv. As ISW has previously reported, Lukashenko remains unlikely to enter the war on Russia’s behalf due to the domestic risks this would pose for the continued viability of his regime, as well as the low quality of Belarusian Armed Forces. Russian President Vladimir Putin is more likely weaponizing concerns over Belarusian involvement in the war to pin Ukrainian troops against the northern Ukraine-Belarus border.
Russian authorities are continuing to engage in “Russification” social programming schemes that target Ukrainian children. A local news outlet from Russia’s Novosibirsk Oblast reported on October 13 that 24 orphans from Luhansk Oblast arrived in Novosibirsk for placement with Russian foster families. Ukrainian Mayor of Melitopol Ivan Fedorov similarly reported that Russian occupation authorities in Melitopol and other occupied regions are deporting Ukrainian children to Russian-occupied Crimea, Krasnodar Krai, and Tula and Volgograd Oblasts under the guise of “children’s trips” and “further education” programs. As ISW has previously reported, such forced deportations of Ukrainian children to Russia and Russian-occupied territory may constitute violations of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Occupation authorities in Russian-occupied Mariupol are also reportedly pressuring Ukrainian teenagers to join the “Youth Guard,” a children’s paramilitary organization that encourages anti-Ukrainian sentiments. Mariupol Mayoral Advisor Petro Andryushchenko reported on October 14 that uniformed members of the Youth Guard visited a Ukrainian school and gave children one week to consider joining the group. The coerced engagement of Ukrainian children in youth militarization programs fits into wider Russification schemes intended to erase Ukrainian identity in Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin stated on October 14 that there is currently no additional need for further massive strikes against Ukraine. Putin claimed that Russian forces struck 22 of their 29 intended targets and that there are now unspecified “other tasks” for Russian forces to accomplish. Putin’s statement was likely aimed at mitigating informational backlash among pro-war milbloggers who oppose curtailing the costly missile campaign; Russian milbloggers had largely praised the resumption of strikes against Ukrainian cities but warned that a short campaign would be ineffective. Putin’s statement supports ISW’s previous assessment that Putin knew he would not be able to sustain high-intensity missiles strikes for a long time due to a dwindling arsenal of high-precision missiles. Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov claimed on October 14 that Russian forces have 609 high-precision missiles left from the pre-war stockpile of 1,844. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces continued cruise missile, aviation, kamikaze drone, and anti-aircraft missile strikes against Ukrainian critical infrastructure in Kyiv Oblast, Zaporizhzhia City, Mykolaiv City, and other areas in Mykolaiv Oblast on October 14. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed on October 14 that Russian forces targeted Ukrainian command and control elements and energy infrastructure in Kyiv and Kharkiv oblasts with sea-based missiles. These reports demonstrate a lower tempo of strikes than the 84 cruise missile strikes reported on October 10.
A prominent Russian milblogger accused unspecified senior officials within the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) of preparing to censor Russian milbloggers on October 14. Prominent Russian milblogger Semyon Pegov (employed by Telegram channel WarGonzo) accused “individual generals and military commanders” of developing a “hitlist” of Russian milbloggers that the MoD seeks to criminally prosecute for “discrediting” the Russian MoD’s activity and the Russian special military operation in Ukraine. Russian news aggregator Mash reported on October 14 that Chief of the Russian General Staff Valery Gerasimov personally signed an order instructing Russian state media censor Roskomnadzor to investigate prominent Russian milbloggers Igor Girkin (also known as Igor Strelkov), Semyon Pegov (WarGonzo), Yuri Podolyaka, Vladlen Tatarsky, Sergey Mardan, Igor Dimitriev, Kristina Potupchik, and authors of the Telegram channels GreyZone and Rybar. Unspecified Russian authorities detained the manager of several milblogger Telegram channels linked to Wagner financier Yevgeny Prigozhin on October 5. Moscow police previously arrested and released Pegov under unusual circumstances (reportedly for drunkenly threatening a hotel administrator) in Moscow on September 2. The situation will likely become clearer in the coming days. A key indicator for the status of a crackdown on Russian milbloggers will be any status update from former Russian militant commander and nationalist milblogger Igor Girkin. Girkin has not posted since October 10—a significant change in his behavior given that he usually posts multiple times daily.
There has been no official confirmation of an investigation or prosecution of these milbloggers as of October 14. Senior Russian propagandist and RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan responded to Pegov’s claim on October 14 and implied that prosecuting military bloggers is not only a bad idea but impossible to implement. Many milbloggers expressed outrage at the prospect that elements of the Russian government would seek to censor ardent patriots who seek to hold the MoD accountable and expressed hopes that ”rumors” about the milblogger hitlist are untrue. The interests of the Kremlin do not intrinsically align with the MoD in this situation: Putin has overtly courted the support of the milblogger community in recent months, as ISW has extensively covered, and has used the milbloggers to frame senior MoD officials and the MoD as a whole as possible scapegoats for military failures in Ukraine. Nor did the milbloggers blame the Kremlin for the alleged hitlist; Pegov emphasized that this sort of alleged censorship was likely not Putin’s intention when he opened dialogue with milbloggers in June and called for reporters and journalists to tell the truth about the “special military operation.”
- Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that his “partial” mobilization will end in “about two weeks”—likely to free up bureaucratic bandwidth for the normal autumn conscription cycle that will begin on November 1.
- Putin may intend for mobilized personnel to plug gaps in Russia’s frontlines long enough for the autumn conscripts to receive some training and form additional units to improve Russian combat power in 2023.
- Ukrainian and Western officials continue to reiterate that they have observed no indicators of preparations for a Belarusian invasion of Ukraine, despite alarmist reports in the Belarusian information space that President Alexander Lukashenko has introduced a “counter-terrorist operation” regime.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin stated on October 14 that there is currently no additional need for further massive strikes against Ukraine.
- Russian authorities are continuing to engage in “Russification” social programming schemes that target Ukrainian children.
- A prominent Russian milblogger accused unspecified senior officials within the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) of preparing to censor Russian milbloggers on October 14, but there is no official confirmation of an investigation or prosecution of these milbloggers.
- Russian sources continued to claim that Ukrainian forces are conducting counteroffensive operations in northeast Kharkiv Oblast east of Kupyansk.
- Russian troops conducted limited ground attacks west of Kreminna in order to regain lost positions.
- Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks in northwestern Kherson Oblast in order to regain lost positions.
- Russian troops continued ground attacks around Bakhmut and Donetsk City.
- Russian authorities expressed increasing concern over Ukrainian strikes against Russian rear logistics lines in southern Donetsk Oblast.
- Russian occupation authorities are continuing to consolidate control of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) through strengthened security measures amid negotiations to establish a nuclear safety and protective zone at the plant.
- Russian officials continued to brand their movement of populations out of Kherson Oblast as recreational “humanitarian trips” rather than evacuations.
We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because those 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 population and specifically on combat in Ukrainian urban areas. We utterly condemn these Russian violations of the laws of armed conflict, Geneva Conventions, and humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.
- Ukrainian Counteroffensives—Southern and Eastern Ukraine
- Russian Main Effort—Eastern Ukraine (comprised of one subordinate and two supporting efforts);
- Russian Subordinate Main Effort—Capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast
- Russian Supporting Effort—Southern Axis
- Russian Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts
- Activities in Russian-occupied Areas
Ukrainian Counteroffensives (Ukrainian efforts to liberate Russian-occupied territories)
Eastern Ukraine: (Oskil River-Kreminna Line)
Russian sources continued to claim that Ukrainian troops are conducting counteroffensive operations in northeastern Kharkiv Oblast on October 14. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted ground attacks in the Kupyansk area. A Russian milblogger similarly claimed that Ukrainian troops are continuing to attack along the Pershotravene-Kyslivka line, about 20km east of Kupyansk. ISW offers no assessment of these Russian claims.
Russian sources conducted limited ground attacks to regain lost positions west of Kreminna on October 14. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian troops repelled a Russian attack near Terny, 16km northwest of Kreminna. Russian sources similarly reported fighting ongoing in the Terny-Torske area, with one milblogger claiming that the 208th Russian Cossack Regiment is fighting near Terny. Russian milbloggers claimed that between 35,000 and 45,000 Ukrainian personnel have concentrated along the Svatove-Kreminna line and that Ukrainian troops are continually conducting reconnaissance operations in the direction of Kreminna. ISW offers no assessment of this Russian claim.
Southern Ukraine: (Kherson Oblast)
Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks in northwestern Kherson Oblast on October 14 to regain lost positions. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian troops repelled a Russian attack on Sukhyi Stavok, 10km southwest of Davydiv Brid and near the Inhulets River along the Kherson-Mykolaiv Oblast border. Russian sources similarly reported that Russian troops are attacking Ukrainian strongholds around Sukhyi Stavok and making marginal gains in this area, although ISW has not observed any confirmation of Russian gains in the Sukhyi Stavok-Davydiv Brid pocket. The Russian MoD and other Russian sources additionally claimed that Ukrainian troops are conducting ground attacks throughout northern and northwestern Kherson Oblast, particularly towards Piatykhatky (20km southeast of Davydiv Brid) and Ishchenka-Bezvodne (8km southeast of Davydiv Brid). A Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian troops are reinforcing their positions along the Osokorivka-Novooleksandrivka line along the west bank of the Dnipro River north of Beryslav. The same Russian sources also cautioned that the Ukrainian command is preparing for a counteroffensive northwest of Kherson City towards Ternovi Pody and Pravdyne. ISW makes no effort to forecast potential Ukrainian operations.
Ukrainian military officials maintained operational silence regarding Ukrainian counteroffensive actions in Kherson Oblast on October 14. Footage and imagery taken by locals provides visual evidence of the continued Ukrainian interdiction campaign against Russian concentration areas and military assets east of Kherson City in the Beryslav-Nova Kakhkova area. Social media footage shows smoke rising over Tavriisk and the Kakhovka Raion (district), approximately 55km east of Kherson City. Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command confirmed that Ukrainian troops struck four Russian air defense positions in Beryslav and the Kakhkova Raion.
Russian Main Effort—Eastern Ukraine
Russian Subordinate Main Effort—Donetsk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)
Russian forces continued ground attacks in Donetsk Oblast on October 14. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian ground attacks near Bakhmut, northeast of Bakhmut near Vesele and Nova Kamianka, and south of Bakhmut near Optyne, Odradivka, and Ivanhrad. Russian sources made conflicting claims on whether Ukrainian forces are withdrawing from or rotating forces in and around Bakhmut. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian ground attacks west of Donetsk City near Nevelske. Russian news outlet RT reported that Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance groups frequently probe Russian positions near Zolotarivka, east of Siversk, indicating that the Russian position near Bilohorivka may be vulnerable. The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed that Ukrainian forces retreated from positions in the Vremivka area in western Donetsk Oblast and that Russian forces took positions on high ground near Vremivka, though ISW cannot verify this claim.
Supporting Effort—Southern Axis (Russian objective: Maintain frontline positions and secure rear areas against Ukrainian strikes)
Russian authorities expressed increasing concern over Ukrainian strikes against Russian rear logistics lines in southern Donetsk Oblast. The Mariupol occupation administration claimed that Russian air defenses in Primorsky Raion intercepted several missiles targeting the Mariupol port area. Images reportedly from Mariupol show smoke plumes supposedly from air defense missiles in the Mariupol area. Ukrainian Mariupol Mayoral Advisor Petro Andryushchenko reported that Russian air defense did not activate in Primorsky Raion or near the Mariupol port but instead activated near Mariupol’s left bank and Kalmius districts. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces are intensifying security measures and conducting searches at checkpoints in Melitopol, Zaporizhia Oblast. Russian forces may be reacting to the recent Kerch Strait Bridge attack, which increased the importance of securing the logistics lines through Mariupol and Melitopol to Kherson Oblast.
Russian forces did not conduct any confirmed ground attacks west of Hulyaipole on October 14 and continued routine artillery strikes throughout western Zaporizhia, Mykolaiv, and Dnipropetrovsk Oblasts. Ukrainian sources reported that Russian forces targeted Dnipro City and Nikopol, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast with loitering munitions.
Russian occupation authorities are continuing to increase their presence and strengthen security measures at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) amid negotiations to establish a nuclear safety and protective zone at the plant. The Ukrainian General Staff reported on October 14 that Russian occupation authorities increased the presence of Russian personnel at the ZNPP on October 10-11 and are using the plant as a base. Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) Deputy Interior Minister Vitaly Kiselyov posted footage from Russian outlet Izvestia in which the correspondent claimed that there are no Russian military vehicles or other assets at the ZNPP. The footage also shows Rosgvardia personnel at the ZNPP entrance conducting identification checks. A Russian source stated that Russian authorities believe that Ukraine will not keep its promises regarding the establishment of a nuclear safety zone and reported that occupation authorities are building a protective cover for the dry storage of spent nuclear fuel.
Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts (Russian objective: Expand combat power without conducting general mobilization)
The presence of large numbers of Russian citizens fleeing mobilization continues to drive tensions in Central Asian states. Kyrgyzstan Minister of Labor, Social Security and Migration, Kudaibergen Bazarbaev, told the Kyrgyz parliament on October 12 that 760,000 Russian citizens have entered Kyrgyzstan in 2022 and that 730,000 have left for other countries. However, the Deputy Minister of Digital Development, Aidarbek Mambetkadyrov, claimed that 190,000 Russian citizens arrived in Kyrgyzstan in the first nine months of 2022, a huge and unexplained discrepancy in official Kyrgyzstan government statistics. A member of Kyrgyzstan’s parliament called for restrictions on Russians entering the country in response to huge numbers of Russian migrants.
Russian citizens are likely continuing to resist mobilization through arson attacks on military commissariats. An unidentified person threw a Molotov cocktail into a window of the military registration and enlistment office in Votkinsk, the Udmurtia Republic on October 14.
Activity in Russian-occupied Areas (Russian objective: consolidate administrative control of occupied and annexed areas; forcibly integrate Ukrainian civilians into Russian sociocultural, economic, military, and governance systems)
Russian officials continued to brand their evacuations of Kherson Oblast as recreational “humanitarian trips” rather than evacuations. The deputy head of the Kherson Oblast Occupation Administration, Kirill Stremousov, encouraged Kherson Oblast civilians on October 14 to take “a humanitarian trip for recreation and recovery to the Russian Federation” to avoid civilian casualties during the “cleansing of the territory.” Stremousov promised that Russian officials would find accommodations for Kherson residents in Russia and provided a hotline to call for interested residents. Stremousov unintentionally implied that Kherson is not yet part of the Russian Federation despite the Kremlin’s illegal September 30 annexation of Kherson Oblast. Continued Ukrainian advances toward the Dnipro River in central Kherson Oblast correlate with Russian evacuation attempts, as ISW has previously reported.
Russian occupation officials continued their filtration measures and crackdowns in occupied Ukrainian territory. Ukraine’s Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported on October 14 that Russian authorities in occupied areas are continuing to organize raids to hunt for partisans who report Russian movements and locations to Ukrainian authorities, checking basements, garages, and civilians’ phones for evidence of partisan sympathies. Local Ukrainian outlets in occupied areas shared advice for citizens in occupied areas to stay safe at Russian checkpoints. Russian forces are also undertaking counterintelligence measures outside of Ukrainian territory. The Russian-appointed Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) deputy internal minister, Vitaly Kiselyov, claimed on October 14 that the FSB detained a Belgorod police officer suspected of transferring data from the Russian Internal Affairs Ministry database to Ukrainian officials.
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.
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