Date: 14 August 2023 Author: Grzegorz Kuczyński

Russian Forces Intensify Shelling of Kupyansk

Heavy fighting has emerged in the easternmost section of the Russian-Ukrainian frontline. Russian troops are trying to break through Ukraine’s defenses in the Kupyansk direction and capture the city. In addition, Ukrainian forces are getting pummeled by dozens of air strikes and artillery barrages from Russian territory. A mandatory evacuation has been ordered for the Ukrainian city of Kupyansk on the eastern bank of the Oskil river, a sign that the Ukrainian military command might seek to withdraw from a strip of land and form a defense line along the river.


Kupyansk, which lies in the Kharkiv region, fell to Moscow’s forces within the first week of their invasion. It remained under Russian control for several months, before a swift Ukrainian offensive liberated the city in September, along with a number of other settlements in the region. The frontline stalled along the Svatove-Kreminna axis, several dozen kilometers east of Kupyansk. In early August, the Russians launched an offensive and took several settlements. The line of contact moved westwards. Ukrainian Army Land Forces Commander General Oleksandr Syrsky on August 9 confirmed Russia has concentrated its forces to attack in the Kupyansk direction. Eight convict-formed ‘Storm-Z’ assault units have been deployed to the area. Russian military bloggers and officials said on August 13 that their forces slowly advanced towards Kupyansk yet were not able to break through Ukrainian defense lines. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces had conducted unsuccessful offensive operations nine kilometers northwest of Kupyansk and twenty kilometers southeast of the city. Russian and Ukrainian reports say that fierce fighting takes place halfway between Kupyansk, the Oskil river, and Svatove. Some small settlements regularly change hands. On August 10, Ukraine ordered the mandatory evacuation of all civilians from 37 settlements in the northeast as Russia steps up its attacks there. The Kupyansk evacuation order includes settlements to the north and east of the city–on both sides of the Oskil river. Ukraine announced the plans to evacuate more than 11,000 people, including 600 children. Some districts, including a major railway station on the left bank of the Oskil river, are being evacuated. Residents could evacuate to Kharkiv, some 90 kilometers west, where they would have the option to move to safer regions. However, some locals refuse to leave, mostly the elderly and families with children, according to the head of the city administration. In March, the Ukrainian government decided on the mandatory evacuation of children in all sites of intense fighting with Russian invading forces.

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