Update from Ukrainian military expert Oleg Zhdanov – 21st September

Posted on 21 September 2022



An update from the Ukrainian military expert Oleg Zhdanov for 21tst September 2022.

Kyiv time: 17:00

The frontline situation is more or less stable, but on the political side, it’s a hurricane.

Like before, Russians are continuing to occupy Donetsk Oblast. In the past day, they carried out 8 missile and 35 air strikes, 21 shellings from MLRS on civilian infrastructure. As a result of shelling, infrastructure in more than 50 settlements was damaged. In Pechenegy, the dam strikes caused harm that may risk flooding. However, this and many other strikes do not affect the direction of hostilities, and thus can be considered terrorist strikes.

In this episode and more recent episodes, there is less focus on the directions in general, but more on global events.

Volyn-Polesye direction

No changes. Limited Russian forces in Belarus are being transferred to the south. Lukashenko is currently in Moscow, likely discussing the probability of Belarus taking part in the war against Ukraine.

In other directions, there is constant shelling along the whole frontline, and Ukraine is responding. 

South-Eastern direction

Over 25 settlements were shelled by Russians. Thanks to successful actions by Ukraine, a large number of both vehicle and personnel enemy locations have been struck, resulting in casualties. To replenish forces in occupied territories, forced mobilisation (i.e. catching people in the street) continues, for all men between 18-60 years of age. At the moment, they do not even go through training and are being sent to the frontline immediately, indicating a catastrophic situation in units. 

The enemy continues advances in Donetsk direction with Russian attacks repelled in over 10 settlements. 


Ukrainian air force struck over 20 targets, including 19 personnel and vehicle locations and 2 air defence locations, destroying 1 Su-25 and 4 UAVs. Advanced Russian planes are appearing less and less every day, with the majority of Russian planes being Su-25 and Su-24. Given that every day, at least 1 plane is taken down, we can assume these are mostly piloted by young inexperienced pilots. Pilots are not easy to train either, so the situation with the air force for Russians is complicated.

We are moving forward and advancing, there is unconfirmed information about success in the Lyman direction, approaching Svatovo. In the southern of Ukraine, we continue destroying enemy logistics and ammo caches. We may be as close as 8km away from the city of Kherson, according to some non-official sources.

Political news

  • Ukraine found an agreement with one of the NATO countries to build a joint ammunition production plant. Building such a plant in Ukraine is impossible in current conditions. The country is likely to be bordering Ukraine, so it is either Slovakia or Poland.
  • Putin’s speech, the so-called “address to the people”: he declared partial mobilisation; announced once again changes of the SMO, which is now occupation of Donetsk and Luhansk; warned the West to use nuclear weapons; supported occupied territories joining Russia.
  • In detail on the above: Russians carried out pseudo-meetings of “civilian activists” in occupied territories, who pseudo-voted to hold a referendum. This is a desperate move from Russia that will lead to catastrophic consequences. First, no one will accept these as legitimate, especially due to ongoing hostilities and the lack of integrity, which is a requirement by Russia’s own legislation; but also, many people have left the territories, and are on the frontline or in hospitals. Given the latter, in addition to the recruitment of convicts, Russia cannot be considered a state that is using legal practices. With the dates of referendums set to the end of September, they are very much in a hurry, hoping to amend the constitution and add the territories to Russia, giving them the right to “defend” themselves. The latter is questionable given that they are retreating and taking losses in several directions at the moment. The “defending” part is particularly amusing given that Russians did nothing after the strikes on Crimea, and in fact withdrew forces, including planes and submarines, to other areas. Thus, Zelensky is completely right by saying that the referendums to not change anything for us. 
  • On mobilisation, they called for the drafting of 300,00 new soldiers, but it shows another hole in their imperial foundation. The project Novorossiya was made up by ideologists in 2014, this term is meant to include up to 10 Oblasts of south-eastern Ukraine that would need to be joining Russia. The Russian plan is simple: announce mobilisation, threaten the world with nukes, force Ukraine to negotiate, which would lead to a ceasefire, and conduct referendums (with 80%+ of residents voting “for”), then they would quickly annex the territories, just like in Crimea, or if Putin has time, he could declare these territories as Novorossiya, i.e. a separate state, call it the new Ukraine and bring it into the allied state with Russia, similarly to Belarus, and similar to the ultimatum Russia gave to Armenia to protect it from Azerbaijan. Meanwhile, the “banderovite” Ukraine stays with the West. While they are collecting 300,00 new soldiers, they would threaten the world with a nuclear war and annex the territories, and after that Putin may attempt to conquer Ukraine further. However, such a scenario would only work if Ukraine accepted to not resist, which is clearly not happening, so we go on.
  • Shoygu announced mobilisation of 300,000 out of 25 million potential. All state borders are now being closed for men between 18-60 years old. Yet, there are no grounds for mobilisation since martial law was not imposed. Also, drafting 300,000 people with only 6,000 claimed losses on the Ukrainian side is ridiculous. To recruit 300,000 people, immense financial resources are required to pay, train, and equip them. With this in mind, the group will not be ready until 2023. In fact, if the partners were quicker with weapon deliveries to Ukraine, this group could have been too late to war. Regardless, the quality of these formations will be low, these are not professionals, but civilians in the operational reserve, and despite the fact that some of them will be motivated, the vast majority will try to avoid mobilisation. The most important thing is for the West not to stop supplying Ukraine. The hidden mobilisation has failed. The volunteer battalions have failed. Oligarchs did not create and PMCs. There is nothing to show that this campaign would be successful.

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