The UK’s military intelligence reports that Ukraine is reaching deeper behind Russian lines but that on the ground the war has reached a stalemate, at least momentarily.
“We now assess that the events of Saky airfield on August 9 put more than half of Black Sea fleet’s naval aviation combat jets out of use,” an official told Reuters.
Earlier this month, multiple explosions at the Saky air base on the annexed Crimean peninsula sent beach vacationers running for shelter and damaged nine Russian fighter jets.
On August 12th, Britain’s Ministry of Defence updated its intelligence on the blasts to state that while the explosions—which Russia attributed to an accident but for which experts suspect Ukraine may have been responsible—destroyed only a fraction of Russia’s air fleet, the navy’s air capability was seriously degraded.
An official, speaking to Reuters anonymously, said that Ukraine was now consistently achieving “kinetic effects” deep behind Russia’s lines and having a material impact on Russia’s logistics support and “a significant psychological effect” on the Russian forces.
“We now assess that the events of Saky airfield on August 9 put more than half of Black Sea fleet’s naval aviation combat jets out of use,” the official said.
He also told Reuters that the Black Sea fleet was struggling to function as much more than “a coast defence flotilla” occasionally conducting missile strikes, and that its potential to threaten amphibious assault on Odessa had been stymied.
The official added that in general the war was at a “moment of near operational standstill.”
“Neither side’s ground forces have sufficient concentrated ground combat power to launch effective offensive actions which would in any way materially affect the course of war,” the official said.
The British Ministry of Defence intelligence service’s August 19th report also highlighted the plight of Kharkiv. Ukraine’s second most important city has been under constant attack by Russia since the start of the war, as it lies just 15 kilometres from the Russian front and within range of most Russian long-distance artillery. According to British Defence Intelligence, Russia holds the area “lightly” and likely continues to heavily target it to keep Ukrainian forces in the city and its surroundings instead of being deployed elsewhere. Civilians are regularly victims of the attacks.