Pentagon expects Ukraine's counteroffensive to continue through fall

The Pentagon expects Ukraine's offensive to last at least through the fall and possibly into the winter, Politico reported on Aug. 1, citing the Pentagon officials.

The outlet wrote that Ukraine's 150,000 troops, including several Western-trained brigades, have been committed in the three directions of the counteroffensive.

According to the U.S. officials, Kyiv's forces are making "incremental gains" in all three directions but face "stiff Russian resistance," specifically "second and third layers of defenses."

Ukraine's military focuses its efforts around the Russian-held city of Bakhmut and in the south, particularly in the Melitopol and Berdiansk directions. According to a recent report by the General Staff, Russian troops have been forced to retreat from their positions near Avdiivka.

In turn, Russian forces are concentrating in the Kupiansk, Lyman, and Svatove directions to draw in Ukrainian troops from Bakhmut, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said on Aug. 1.

Politico reported that the U.S. is preparing another military aid package for Ukraine, possibly to be presented early next week. The magazine did not elaborate on its content, however.

In the most recent tranche announced on July 25, Ukraine is to receive $400 million in military aid from the U.S., including munitions for Patriots air defense systems, NASAMS, and HIMARS, as well as Stingers, Javelins, and other weapons.

Politico reminded that Ukraine is awaiting the arrival of M1 Abrams tanks, expected as soon as early September.

A number of Abrams tanks will be initially transported to Germany in August, where they will undergo final refurbishments, the outlet reported earlier. Once that process is complete, the first batch of Abrams will be shipped to Ukraine the following month.

Kyiv, Odesa oblasts hit by Russian strikes overnight

The aftermath of Russian strikes against Odesa Oblast on Aug. 2, 2023. (Source: Governor Oleh Kiper/Telegram)

Russian forces launched large-scale drone strikes against Kyiv and Odesa oblasts overnight, local officials reported on Aug. 2.

According to the reports, some 11 oblasts in total came under attack over the past day, leaving at least two people dead and at least 15 injured.

According to the Kyiv City Military Administration, all the drones launched against Kyiv – more than 10 – have been shot down, but the fallen debris caused damage on the ground.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko announced that debris from a drone fell in the Solomianskyi district, damaging the ninth to eleventh floors of an administrative building and in the Sviatoshynskyi district. An explosion was also recorded in the Holosiivskyi district.

Debris also fell in the Bucha district of Kyiv Oblast, starting a fire in a residential house, the State Emergency Service said.

No casualties have been reported in Kyiv Oblast.

Odesa Oblast was also targeted by Russian Shahed drones, Governor Oleh Kiper reported.

Ukrainian defenses shot down some of them, but others managed to hit port and industrial infrastructure in the south, starting a fire and damaging a grain elevator. No casualties have been so far reported, Kiper said.

Commenting on the strikes, head of the Presidential Office Andrii Yermak called for tougher international sanctions against Russia so that it cannot produce arms with which it attacks Ukraine.

"They (Russia) want to increase the quantity (of these arms) to kill people, destroy infrastructure, and start famine in the countries of the Global South," Yermak wrote on his Telegram channel.

He also appealed to Ukraine's partners to provide more air defense systems against Russian strikes.

Russian forces launched further strikes elsewhere in Ukraine over the past day.

In Donetsk Oblast, three civilians were injured in Russian attacks, Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko reported.

Russian strikes injured two people in Kurakhove and one in Chasiv Yar. Several houses and civilian infrastructure were also damaged, Kyrylenko specified.

In Kharkiv Oblast, one person was killed and another injured in the attacks, Governor Oleh Syniehubov said.

The governor said a Russian missile attack against the village of Pershotravneve in the Izium district killed a 91-year-old woman and injured a 40-year-old man, who is hospitalized and in severe condition.

Russian strikes also damaged a shop and residential houses in Pershotravneve and other civilian buildings across the oblast, Syniehubov added.

In Kherson Oblast, one person was killed and ten injured over the past day, Governor Oleksandr Prokudin reported.

On Aug. 1, Russian forces hit a hospital in Kherson, killing a doctor and injuring five other members of the medical staff, Prokudin said.

Russia also targeted a school in the Beryslav district, he added.

In the early hours of Aug. 2, Russian forces launched more strikes against Kherson, injuring a 56-year-old woman and 59-year-old man and damaging houses and a bank.

In Zaporizhzhia Oblast, a 42-year-old man was injured and hospitalized following a Russian airstrike against Orikhiv, Governor Yurii Malashko informed.

He added 34 cases of property damage reported across the oblast.

Russia likely builds 'major new formations' for deployment in Ukraine

Russia has likely started forming major new formations over the last two months to "add depth to its ground forces" in Ukraine, the U.K. Defense Ministry said in its latest intelligence report on Aug. 2.

However, London believes Moscow is unlikely to find enough troops for even one new army without a fresh wave of mandatory mobilization.

The strategy to build new and self-sufficient formations, such as the 25th Combined Arms Army, is a significant shift in Moscow's approach toward using its reserves, the U.K. Defense Ministry commented.

Previously, the Russian military backfilled already established formations or used mobilized reservists as territorial defense infantry regiments. The exception was the 3rd Army Corps created in the summer of 2022, "which has generally performed poorly," the ministry added.

While the new formations will most likely be deployed as reserves in Ukraine, the analysis said in the long term, the Kremlin seeks to strengthen its forces facing NATO.

The Russian State Duma, Russia's lower parliament, voted on July 25 to raise the maximum conscription age from 27 to 30. The U.K. Defense Ministry commented earlier that this highlights Russia's failure to insulate its population from the effects of the war.

Russian dictator Vladimir Putin also signed a bill to gradually increase the upper age limit for reservists, with senior officers liable for mobilization up to the age of 70.

According to Ukraine's military intelligence, Russia has also forcibly mobilized from 55,000 to 60,000 men in the occupied territories of Ukraine since the start of 2022.