Iran Crisis Update, October 23

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Iran Crisis Update, October 23

Oct 23, 2022 – Press ISW

Iranian university and high school students are sustaining the momentum of the ongoing anti-regime protest movement, leading the demonstrations into their 37th consecutive day. Iranian students led 15 of 16 documented protests on October 23. Some students are challenging regime regulations within academic spaces. Sharif University students reportedly repelled Iranian security forces trying to enforce gender segregation on campus on October 23, for instance. The surge in student protest activity on October 23 compared to recent days suggests that students remain capable of successfully coordinating countrywide demonstrations despite intensifying regime censorship and disruptions to telecommunications.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, October 23

Oct 23, 2022 – Press ISW

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu likely sought to slow or suspend Western military aid to Ukraine and possibly weaken the NATO alliance in scare-mongering calls with several NATO defense ministers on October 23. Shoigu separately called his counterparts from France, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States on October 23, claiming that Ukraine is preparing to conduct a false-flag attack using a dirty bomb (a conventional explosive laced with radioactive material that is not a nuclear weapon) to accuse Russia of using weapons of mass destruction. Russian state media amplified this false and ridiculous claim. Russian Ministry of Defense reports on the calls contain slight differences; they state that Shoigu discussed a claimed “steady tendency towards further, uncontrolled escalation” in Ukraine in the call with his French counterpart; discussed the “situation in Ukraine” and made false claims that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb in his calls with the United Kingdom, France, and Turkey; and simply discussed the situation in Ukraine without reference to a dirty bomb in his conversation with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. Shoigu last spoke with Secretary Austin on October 21. Representatives from the United States, United Kingdom, and Ukraine categorically denied and condemned Shoigu’s false allegations, and US Secretary Austin called his UK counterpart, Ben Wallace, following the calls with Shoigu. France and Turkey have not issued formal statements as of this writing.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, October 22

Oct 22, 2022 – Press ISW

Russian forces continued to withdraw from western Kherson Oblast while preparing to conduct delaying actions that will likely be only partially effective. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces have completely abandoned their positions in Charivne and Chkalove (both approximately 33km northwest of Nova Kakhovka), and Russian officers and medics have reportedly evacuated from Beryslav. The Ukrainian General Staff added that Russian forces are also removing patients from the Kakhovka Hospital on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River, likely to free up hospital beds for Russian military casualties that may result from the withdrawal across the river. The Ukrainian General Staff noted that some Russian elements are preparing Kherson City for urban combat, while other servicemembers continue to flee the city via the ferry operating in the vicinity of the Antonivsky Bridge. The UK Ministry of Defense reported on October 22 that Russian forces completed construction of a barge bridge alongside the damaged bridge and forecasted that the barge bridge would become a critical crossing point for Russian forces as Ukrainian forces advance toward Kherson City. A large part of the Kherson City population has also reportedly left the city.

Iran Crisis Update, October 22

Oct 22, 2022 – Press ISW

Anti-regime protests in Iran occurred in at least 24 cities in 18 provinces on October 22—a significant increase from the protest activity in recent days. Protest organizations called for countrywide demonstrations on October 22 as CTP previously reported. Protestors are continuing to organize demonstrations despite ongoing and severe internet and telecommunications censorship. The protest organizations have called for additional demonstrations on October 26—the 40th day since the morality patrol killed Mahsa Amini.

Iran Crisis Update, October 21

Oct 21, 2022 – Press ISW

The regime’s use of extreme violence against protesters in Sistan and Baluchistan Province is likely entrenching long-term frustration against the political establishment there. One of Iran’s most senior Sunni clerics—Maulvi Abdol Hamid—criticized the regime on October 21 for its brutal suppression of protests in Zahedan on September 30. Abdol Hamid stated that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei was responsible for the crackdown, which may have killed over 90 protesters. Hamid is the Sunni Friday prayer leader in Zahedan. Large-scale protests erupted in Zahedan on October 21 in part to commemorate the three-week anniversary of the crackdown. Salafi jihadi militant group Jaish al Adl published a video on October 20, expressing support for the protesters and threatening to attack the regime, as CTP previously reported. There is no evidence to suggest that Jaish al Adl was involved in the October 21 protests.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, October 21

Oct 21, 2022 – Press ISW

The Russian withdrawal from western Kherson Oblast has begun. Russian forces likely intend to continue that withdrawal over the next several weeks but may struggle to withdraw in good order if Ukrainian forces choose to attack. Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command stated on October 21 that Russian forces are “quite actively” transferring ammunition, military equipment, and some unspecified units from the Dnipro River’s west bank to the east bank via ferries. The Southern Operational Command added that Russian forces deployed 2,000 mobilized men to hold the frontlines and are continuing to shell Ukrainian positions, likely in an effort to cover their withdrawal. Ukrainian military officials reported that the Russian occupation administration is preparing the evacuation of imported Russian specialists, Ukrainian collaborators, and Kherson’s banking system. Russian occupation administration in Beryslav and humanitarian facilities in Kherson City also reportedly ceased operations.

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This page collects ISW and CTP’s updates on the conflict in Ukraine. In late February 2022, ISW began publishing daily synthetic products covering key events related to renewed Russian aggression against Ukraine.

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