Morning report day 103 – June 06
Editor’s NoteAn overview of the situation based on observations by Roman Ponomarenko and recent updates:
In Luhansk Oblast, fighting for Sievierodonetsk continues. Russia attacks by units of the “People’s Militia of the Luhansk People’s Republic” (2nd and 7th brigades) plus separate units of the “mobilization reserve” and Kadyrov units from Rosgvardia. Ukraine’s forces, bolstered by the arrival of the Foreign Legion, delivered an unexpected on 2 June counter-strike. According to enemy data, Ukraine skillfully delivered artillery to Sivierodonetsk from Izium, which now attacks Russia, and has taken 8 POWs. This counterstrike, organized under conditions of the main supply route of Bakhmut-Lysychansk road being shelled by Russian artillery, testifies to the high skill of Ukraine’s command and good logistics. However, Ukraine’s major problem is that its main supply routes to Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk are inconvenient secondary roads, as Russia continues to shell Bakhmut-Lysychanck road.
Now, battles continue, and Ukraine’s Army confirms its status as master of urban warfare. Governor Serhiy Haidai stated that the Russian army has the task to capture Sievierodonetsk by June 10 or cut the Bakhmut-Lysychansk road. Major General of the Russian Armed Forces Roman Kutuzov died in this sector on June 5.
To the north of the Popasna fighting continues in the area of Komyshuvakha – Vrubivka. Russian troops continue to put pressure on Bakhmut and Soledar.
Near Izium, the Russian 35th army, which fought in Irpin near Kyiv and committed war crimes in March, most likely suffered heavy losses and lost combat capabilities. This explains why Russian troops have stopped active offensive operations from Izium.
At the same time, to the north of Sloviansk, active battles for Sviatohirsk continue. Russians are pushing from several directions. However, since Ukrainian troops control Bohorodychne, the situation remains controlled.
In the south, Russian troops unsuccessfully tried to push Ukrainian troops back in the Davydiv Brid area, which Ukrainians secured after a successful counteroffensive in the last days.
Information from the General Staff as of 06.00 06.06.2022, supplemented by its [18:00 assessment], is in the drop-down menu.
Show the Content
- [Russian forces did not take active action. The units of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus continue to focus on reconnaissance and engineering positions for equipment. During the inspection of combat readiness of units, special attention is paid to the development of tasks to overcome water obstacles and the interaction of airstrikes with the crews of helicopters of army aircraft.]
In the Siversky direction, Russian forces continue to provide enhanced protection of the Ukrainian-Russian border in the Bryansk and Kursk regions. To demonstrate the presence in the border areas, there are separate units of Russian forces, which are shelling the civilian infrastructure of the settlements of Chernihiv and Sumy oblasts of Ukraine.
In the Slobozhansky direction, Russian forces continue to fire on units of the Defense Forces with barrel artillery, rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and tanks. In order to support the offensive, Russian forces are intensively restoring the transport infrastructure and building pontoon-rail crossings across rivers in the temporarily occupied territories. [The use of electronic warfare continues to create conditions that make it impossible for Ukrainian units to use UAVs.]
- In the Kharkiv direction, the occupiers are actively defending, the main efforts are focused on maintaining the occupied borders. In order to increase the stability of the defence, Russian forces take additional measures on the engineering and fortification equipment positions. To restrain the actions of the Defense Forces, it is conducting intensive artillery and mortar shelling of our positions. In addition, Russian forces fired on civilian infrastructure in the areas of Bazylivka, Kutuzivka and Petrivske. [Yesterday, Russian forces fired on civilian infrastructure in the areas of the settlements of Tsyrkuny, Ruski and Cherkasy Tyshky, Staryi Saltiv. They fired missiles at the Korotych settlement.]
- In the Sloviansk direction, Russian forces’ main efforts are focused on continuing the offensive in the direction of the settlement of Sloviansk.
- From artillery of various calibres, Russian forces fired on civilian infrastructure in the areas of the settlements of Velyka Komyshuvakha, Virnopillya, Dibrivne, Nova Dmytrivka and Kurulka. [Yesterday, Russian forces fired on civilian infrastructure in the areas of Chepil, Dibrovne, Virnopillya, Dovhenke and Bohorodychne.]
- [Yesterday, the occupiers tried unsuccessfully to conduct offensive and assault operations in the areas of the settlements of Bohorodychne and Dovhenke.]
In the Donetsk direction, the aggressor’s units are firing on the positions of our troops along the entire line of contact. Russian forces fired missiles at Sloviansk, Lysychansk and Orikhove. [Yesterday, Russian forces launched airstrikes on civilian infrastructure in the areas of Sloviansk and Lysychansk.]
- In the Lyman direction, with the support of artillery, Russian forces are conducting offensive operations in the area of Svyatohirsk. Russian forces are also conducting assault operations in the direction of the settlements of Shchurove and Staryi Karavan. Fighting continues in both directions. [Yesterday, with the support of artillery, Russian forces resumed the offensive near the village of Svyatogirsk and had significant losses in manpower, weapons and equipment. Conducts assault operations in the direction of the settlement of the Stary Karavan. The fighting continues.]
- In the Sievierodonetsk direction, Russian forces fired at our troops with mortars and artillery systems of various types. The civilian infrastructure in the areas of the settlements of Metolkino, Borivske, Ustynivka, Toshkivka and others was also affected. The occupiers continue to storm Sievierodonetsk. [Yesterday, Russian forces fired mortars, artillery and multiple rocket launchers at units of our troops and civilian infrastructure in the settlements of Sievierodonetsk, Lysychansk, Toshkivka, and Ustynivka.]
- In the Bakhmut direction, Russian forces fired on the positions of our units with mortars, artillery and MLRS in the areas of the settlements of Zolote, Orikhove, Gorske, Vrubivka, Klynove, Bilohorivka, Pokrovske and Rota. It used assault and army aircraft for airstrikes near Bakhmut and Berestove. It carried out assault operations in the areas of the settlements of Komyshuvakha, Berestove and Mykolayivka. Russian forces have suffered significant losses, have no success, and fighting continues.
- In the Avdiivka, Kurakhivka, Novopavlovsk and Zaporizhzhia directions, Russian forces did not conduct active hostilities. It fired on civilian infrastructure in the Novobakhmutivka, Kamyanka, Avdiivka, Mykilsky, Zolota Nyva and Poltavka districts. [Yesterday, Russian forces fired on civilian infrastructure in the settlements of Zaitseve, New York, Toretsk, Krasnohorivka, Marinka, Uspenivka, Orikhiv and Kamyanske. They launched airstrikes against Novoselivka, New York, Marinka and Kamyansky.]
- [Yesterday, the occupiers carried out assault operations in the areas of Bilohorivka and Mykolayivka. Russian forces suffered significant losses in manpower and equipment. There is no success, the fighting continues.]
In the Pivdennyy Buh direction, in order to bind our troops, the occupiers fired artillery of various calibres in the areas of the settlements of Tavriyske, Nova Zorya, Stepova Dolyna, Novomykolayivka and Kobzartsi. [Yesterday, the occupiers fired on the positions of our troops and tried to wage a counter-battery struggle. To clarify the position of our units and correct the fire, they conducted air reconnaissance using UAVs. Russian forces used artillery in the areas of the settlements of Mykolayiv, Prybuzke, Luch, Blahodatne, Shyroke and Tokareve.]
- Russian forces continue engineering positions for equipment in the areas of Shevchenivka, Olhino and other settlements.
- [Yesterday, Russian forces carried out assaults in the area of the settlement of Bila Krynytsia to restore the previously lost position. After the fire, the Defense Forces of Ukraine retreated to their former positions.]
Over the past 24hrs, seven enemy attacks have been repulsed in the Donetsk and Luhansk directions, four tanks, three artillery systems, eight armoured combat vehicles and three units of motor vehicles have been destroyed. Air defence units shot down a Ka-52 combat helicopter and an unmanned aerial vehicle.
[Russian forces continue to suffer significant losses during hostilities on the territory of Ukraine. In order to replenish units, Russian invaders continue forced mobilization measures in the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.]”
Armed Forces of Ukraine control half of Sievierodonetsk, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “The Russians did control 70% of Sievierodonetsk, but within two days they were pushed back, and the city has been divided in half [in terms of control], [Serhii Haidai, head of the Luhansk Oblast Military Administration, said.] According to Haidai, the occupiers have lost huge numbers of personnel, with eight Russians taken prisoner.” At the same time, situation is constantly changing in this area:
In Donbas, Ukrainian Armed Forces repelled fifty attacks and destroyed 18 tanks in a week, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “In general, in the last week, military personnel of the Joint Forces group repelled 56 Russian attacks. They destroyed 18 tanks, 34 artillery Systems, 48 armoured combat vehicles, 3 special armoured vehicles and 44 vehicles. Air defence units shot down two Russian K-52 multipurpose helicopters, two cruise missiles and 16 unmanned aerial vehicles.”
Almost 60% of Zaporizhzhia Oblast is occupied – Oblast Military Administration, Ukrainska Pravda reports. Almost 60% of the territory of Zaporizhzhia Oblast is temporarily occupied by Russian troops, Oleksandr Starukh, head of the Zaporizhzhia Oblast Military Administration, reported at a meeting with President Zelensky,
Ukrainian military reinforces defence in Kharkiv direction, Ukrinform reports. “In Kharkiv direction, measures are taken to reinforce the defence in the areas where our troops managed to improve their tactical position, Commander of the Defense Forces, Lieutenant-General Serhiy Nayev said while visiting the Ukrainian positions, the Joint Forces Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine posted on Facebook.”
Ukrainian Railways showed a Russian-bombed plant in Kyiv, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “On the morning of 5 June, 4 Russian missiles struck the Darnytsia Railway Car Repair Plant on the left bank of Kyiv. One railwayman was injured. In the evening, Ukrzaliznytsia [Ukrainian Railways] showed journalists the consequences of the missile strike and confirmed that there was no military equipment at the plant. Railway carriages are repaired there. According to the Ukrainska Pravda correspondent, one part of the plant has been completely destroyed; the other building, with its equipment, was partially destroyed; and the other has a broken roof, windows, doors, and shredded equipment.”
Russia has already used over 2,500 missiles against Ukraine, Ukrinform reports. “Russian troops have fired 2,503 missiles against Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian all-out invasion, [according to President Zelensky].”
- In the early hours of 5 June, Russian Kh-101 air-launched cruise missiles struck rail infrastructure in Kyiv, likely in an attempt disrupt the supply of Western military equipment to frontline Ukrainian units.
- In the Donbas, heavy fighting continues in the contested town of Sievierodonetsk and Russian forces continue to push towards Sloviansk as part of their attempted encirclement of Ukrainian forces.
- At sea, following the loss of the cruiser Moskva in April, Russian forces have likely moved multiple air defence assets to Zmiinyi (Snake) Island in the western Black Sea, including SA-15 and SA-22 systems. It is likely these weapons are intended to provide air defence for Russian naval vessels operating around Zmiinyi Island.
- Russia’s activity on Zmiinyi Island contributes to its blockade of the Ukrainian coast and hinders the resumption of maritime trade, including exports of Ukrainian grain.
- Over the last 24 hours, Ukrainian forces have counterattacked in the contested city of Sievierodonetsk in eastern Ukraine, likely blunting the operational momentum Russian forces previously gained through concentrating combat units and firepower.
- Russian forces committed in this area include personnel mobilised from the reserve of Russian-led Separatist Forces of the self-declared Luhansk People’s Republic. These troops are poorly equipped and trained, and lack heavy equipment in comparison to regular Russian units.
- The use of proxy infantry forces for urban clearance operations is a Russian tactic previously observed in Syria, where Russia employed V Corps of the Syrian Army to assault urban areas. This approach likely indicates a desire to limit casualties suffered by regular Russian forces.
As of Monday 6 June, the approximate losses of weapons and military equipment of the Russian Armed Forces from the beginning of the war to the present day:
- Personnel – more than 31250 (+100),
- Tanks – 1386 (+5),
- Armoured combat vehicles – 3400 (+8),
- Artillery systems – 690 (+4),
- Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 207 (+0),
- Air defence means – 96 (+1),
- Aircraft – 211 (+1),
- Helicopters – 176 (+1),
- Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 2395 (+35),
- Vessels/boats – 13 (+0),
- UAV operational and tactical level – 551 (+3),
- Special equipment – 53 (+0),
- Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0),
- Cruise missiles – 125 (+3)
Russian enemy suffered the greatest losses (of the last day) in the Sloviansk direction.
Russia and Ukraine exchange the bodies of 320 fallen soldiers after talks, The New York Times reports. “Ukraine and Russia have exchanged the bodies of 320 fallen soldiers in the Zaporizhzhia region. The operation took place on Thursday and followed a negotiated agreement between the warring sides to transfer the remains of soldiers on a one-to-one basis, according to a statement released on Saturday by Ukrainian officials.
Previously, Ukrainian officials had said that Russia had been reluctant to discuss repatriating its dead. Ukrainian soldiers have been tasked with recovering the bodies of Russian soldiers and placing them in refrigerated railway cars in several cities, among them Kyiv, Zaporizhzhia and Dnipro.”
The health ministry receives 38 tonnes of medicines as humanitarian aid in the past week alone, Ukrinform reports. “Throughout the past week, the Ministry of Health received 22 ambulance vehicles and 38 tonnes of medicines as humanitarian aid. This was reported on the ministry’s website, according to Ukrinform.
As noted, 22 ambulance vehicles, an oxygen station, an industrial generator, 15 electric generators, 10 tonnes of insulin drugs, 28 tonnes of direct-action antivirals were received from various donors and charities. In addition, the batch included 150 helmets, 735 bulletproof vests, 3,680 tactical first aid kits, 2,500 tourniquets, 900 hemostatic bandages, 4,300 thermal blankets, 22.5 tonnes of personal protective equipment, 3.5 tonnes of reagents for laboratory tests, a tonne of disinfectants, 20,000 rapid tests for SARS-COV-2 antigen, 840,000 water purification bactericidal pills, and 50 portable kits for water quality testing.”
The escalation of conflict in Ukraine has caused civilian casualties and destruction of civilian infrastructure, forcing people to flee their homes seeking safety, protection and assistance the UNHCR reports. Millions of refugees from Ukraine have crossed borders into neighbouring countries, and many more have been forced to move inside the country. They need protection and support. As of 1 June:
Individual refugees from Ukraine recorded across Europe: 4,712,784
- Belarus, Hungary, Republic of Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia 2,466,377
- Other European countries 2,246,407
Refugees from Ukraine registered for Temporary Protection or similar national protection schemes in Europe: 2,928,252
- Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia 1,278,096
- Other European countries 1,650,156
Border crossings from Ukraine (since 24 February 2022): 6,983,041
Border crossings to Ukraine (since 28 February 2022): 2,102,047
OHCHR recorded 9,197 civilian casualties in Ukraine as of June 2 (no update). 4,183 were killed (including 268 children) and 5,014 injured (including 427 children).
Energoatom releases video of Russian missile flying over the nuclear power plant, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Energoatom, the national nuclear power operator, has released a video of a Russian Kalibr missile flying over the Pivdennoukrainska (South Ukrainian) nuclear power plant in Mykolaiv Oblast on Sunday morning.”
“On 5 June, Russia carried out another act of nuclear terrorism. At 05:30, a Russian cruise missile, which might have been a Kalibr missile, flew dangerously low over the Pivdennoukrainska NPP, Energoatom stated. Russia continues to threaten the nuclear security of the Ukrainian NPPs and is threatening the entire world with a new nuclear disaster. The Ruscists [Russians – ed.] still cannot comprehend that even the smallest fragment of a missile could cause a nuclear disaster and a radiation leak if it hits an operating power unit.”
At least UAH 900B is required to rebuild destroyed Ukrainian roads, Ukrinform reports. “Currently, 900 billion hryvnias are needed to restore the roads. It will take two to four years to restore the road infrastructure. We believe that it would be right to attract frozen Russian funds for this restoration, [Andrii Ivko, first deputy head at Ukraine’s State Road Agency Ukravtodor,] said. He also said that 24,000 kilometres of roads and 302 artificial structures, including bridges and overpasses, had been completely destroyed in Ukraine.”
262 children were killed, and 467 children injured, the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine reports as of June 6. 1,938 educational establishments are damaged as a result of shelling and bombings, 182 of them are destroyed fully. 15,842 crimes of aggression and war crimes and 7,457 crimes against national security were registered.
Militants want to shoot three captured foreigners, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “The militants say they have completed a “criminal investigation” of three foreigners – the British citizens’ Sean Pinner and Andrew Hill, as well as a citizen of the Kingdom of Morocco, Saadun Brahim. According to the occupiers, the “three men took part in Ukraine’s armed aggression for a fee to seize power in the DPR”. The first “court hearing” will take place soon. The militants write that three foreigners “may be sentenced to an exceptional measure – the death penalty.”
According to international law, this is abduction, and foreigners have been captured; the “court” has no legal force. The killing of prisoners is considered to be a war crime and has no statute of limitations.”
Slovakia to deliver eight Zuzana 2 howitzers to Ukraine, Reuters reports. Slovakia will deliver eight self-propelled Zuzana 2 howitzers to Ukraine under a commercial contract that a state-controlled producer signed, the Slovak Defence Ministry said on Thursday. The 155-mm howitzer has a range of more than 40 kilometres which is almost 5 kilometres more than the most powerful Russian howitzer (the upgraded 2C5M). Equipped with a modern automated fire control system that is connected to communications and uses digital maps of the area. Zuzana 2 is capable of inflicting fire damage in MRSI (Multiple Rounds Simultaneous Impact) mode, in which projectiles fired on several different trajectories hit the target simultaneously, Army Inform reports.
Norwegian self-propelled howitzers are already at the front line, Ukrinform reports. “Self-propelled howitzers M109A3, provided as part of international technical assistance by Norway, are already at the forefront, hitting targets with high precision and destroying Russian forces. This was stated by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valeriy Zaluzhnyi on Telegram, Ukrinform reports.”
Poland to sell 60 Krab self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine, Ukrinform reports. Poland will sell three more squadrons of Krab 155mm self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine, according to the Polish news site Dzennik. “The contract for the supply of artillery pieces worth PLN 3 billion ($700 million) has become the largest military export order in Poland in the last 20 years, the statement said. The artillery will be delivered to Ukraine in the next few months. Ukraine became the first export customer of this type of weapon. In late May, Poland has already provided Ukraine with 18 Krab self-propelled howitzers (three batteries) and trained 100 Ukrainian artillerymen to work with them.”
Ukraine has bought Belgian M109 howitzers from a private company, MIL.IN.UA reports. Former Belgian Army M109 155mm self-propelled howitzers were sold to Ukraine by a private company. This was announced by Belgian Defense Minister Ludivine Dedonder. It is reported that the private company OIP Land Systems has sold self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine.
Spain is ready to deliver anti-aircraft missiles and Leopard battle tanks to Ukraine, El Pais reports. Spain is willing to make a qualitative leap in its military support to Ukraine against the Russian invasion, according to government sources. Until now it had delivered ammunition, individual protection equipment and light weapons (C-90 grenade launchers or machine guns). It is now preparing the supply of heavy weapons, with anti-aircraft missiles and Leopard A4 battle tanks, as well as the required training. The tanks are a part of the batch of second-hand units Germany sold to Spain in 1995 and is being taken out of long-time storage. Defence sources estimate that around 40 could be rehabilitated and delivered to Ukraine after renovation.
- In response to arms supplies to Ukraine, Putin threatens to use missiles to strike targets “not yet hit”, Ukrainska Pravda reports citing Rossiya-1 state TV channel. “If Kyiv obtains long-range missiles, Russia will draw its own conclusions and use its munitions on targets that have not yet been hit.“
- Sweden and Finland joining NATO would be tough for Russia, the top US general says, Reuters reports. “Finland and Sweden joining NATO would put Russia in a difficult military position in the Baltic Sea, top US General Mark Milley said on Saturday during a visit to Stockholm ahead of a military exercise. Their joining would mean the Baltic Sea’s coastline would, bar short strips around Russian cities Kaliningrad and St Petersburg, be encircled by NATO members. So from a Russian perspective that will be very problematic for them, militarily speaking, and it would be very advantageous to NATO,” said Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”
- War in Ukraine caused panic in Europe, – Erdogan, Censor.net reports. “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused panic among European countries. This was stated by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to members of the ruling Justice and Development Party. “While our country has been successfully dealing with illegal migration from Syria for 11 years, we are witnessing panic in Europe due to the Ukrainian-Russian crisis,” Erdogan said in a speech. The Turkish head of state added that he prayed that the world would get out of the crisis as soon as possible, which was caused by the invasion of Russian troops into Ukraine.”
- Germany faces a 5 billion euros a year hit from Russian gas sanctions, Welt am Sonntag reports, Reuters reports. “Russia’s sanctions against Gazprom Germania and its subsidiaries could cost German taxpayers and gas users an extra 5 billion euros ($5.4 billion) a year to pay for replacement gas, the Welt am Sonntag weekly reported, citing industry representatives.”
- Russian ministry website appears hacked, Reuters reports. “The website of Russia’s Ministry of Construction, Housing and Utilities appeared to have been hacked, with an internet search for the site leading to a “Glory to Ukraine” sign in Ukrainian.”
- Medvedev criticizes the West for sanctions on family members of politicians, TASS reports. “Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Security Council Dmitry Medvedev has criticized the West for illegitimate sanctions against family members of Russian politicians.”
Assessment on the War
The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of Sunday 5 June:
Ukrainian forces reportedly killed Russian Major General Roman Kutuzov on June 5. Russian Telegram channels reported that Kutuzov was killed near Mykolaivka, Luhansk Oblast (near Popasna) on June 5. Kutuzov likely commanded the Donetsk People’s Republic’s 1st Army Corps at the time of his death, though ISW cannot confirm his exact position. Some sources reported that Kutuzov commanded the 5th Combined Arms Army (CAA) at the time of his death, but we assess this is likely incorrect—Kutuzov served as acting commander of the 5th CAA from 2017 to 2019, and Major General Alexei Vladimirovich Podilov currently commands the 5th CAA. High-level Russian commanders have taken remarkably high losses during combat in Ukraine, and will likely continue to do so as the Russian command continues to deploy military leadership directly to the frontline. Kutuzov’s death has not yet been confirmed but would be at least the seventh death of a general in Ukraine since the beginning of the war.
Maj-Gen Roman Kutuzov, commander of Russia's 5th Combined Arms Army, was reportedly killed in Luhansk Oblast, according to LDNR sources – https://t.co/ab5zAKYnYw pic.twitter.com/dlUZD70CM1
— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) June 5, 2022
Russian forces conducted their first missile strike against Kyiv in over a month on June 5. Advisor to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense Vadym Denysenko stated that Russian forces fired five X-22 cruise missiles from a Tu-95 aircraft at Kyiv from the direction of the Caspian Sea that hit the Darnytsia Rail Car Repair Plant on the outskirts of Kyiv. The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed that this strike targeted T-72 tanks supplied to Ukraine by other Eastern European countries, but images of the target area confirm that the missiles hit the Darnytsia plant. It is unclear if Russian forces intended to strike foreign-provided Ukrainian tanks and missed, or if the Kremlin is attempting to obfuscate its intended target. This attack on Kyiv likely indicates that Russian forces are continuing to target Ukrainian infrastructure in non-critical areas of Ukraine in order to disrupt Ukrainian logistics as Russian forces take considerable losses in Donbas.
Russian military bloggers continued to reckon with overarching struggles in Russian force generation on June 5. Russian milblogger Alexander Khodakovsky accused “screamers in the guise of patriots” of hypocritically calling for general mobilization while at the same time discrediting the Russian military leadership and driving away those who would voluntarily take up arms for Russia. Khodakovsky blamed the pervasive public discourse on general mobilization for making people overthink and subsequently become less willing to enter military service, thereby forcing Russian military command closer to actually needing to announce general mobilization. Khodakovsky suggested that this discourse is setting Russia up for a long war in Ukraine and that Russian authorities have been positioned to take the blame for losses. Russian war journalist Alexander Sladkov claimed that the Russian grouping in Ukraine is an ”exclusively professional army” not staffed by conscripts, while simultaneously calling for the removal of health requirements for rear and combat specialities in order to mobilize those who should be medically disqualified. These and other comments by Russian military specialists indicate the Russian military community is increasingly aware of issues in sustaining mobilization efforts and different actors are seeking to apportion blame as Russian operations continue to stall.
- Ukrainian counterattacks in Sievierodonetsk recaptured large parts of the city and forced Russian troops out of the southern suburbs of the city.
- Russian forces continued efforts to converge on Sloviansk from the southeast of Izium and west of Lyman but remain unlikely to make notable advances around Sloviansk due to their continued prioritization of Sievierodonetsk.
- Ukrainian troops reportedly conducted limited and localized counterattacks north of Kharkiv City.
- Russian forces continued to hold their defensive lines and fire at Ukrainian positions along the Southern Axis.
- Ukrainian forces likely killed Russian Major General Roman Kutuzov near Popasna.“
Consequences and what to do?
The Russian invasion of Ukraine, now more than 100 days old, has followed this pattern. Russian dictator Vladimir Putin gambled on a bungled blitzkrieg toward Kyiv that failed. In those heady, early days, the world marveled at Ukrainian heroism, symbolized by the troops who responded to a Russian demand for surrender with the immortal words: “Russian warship, go f— yourself.” Pictures of Ukrainian tractors dragging captured Russian tanks become an Internet sensation.
But despite suffering heavy losses of men and material — the Pentagon has estimated that Russia has lost about 1,000 tanks — Putin has not ended his evil invasion. He merely downsized it. In mid-April, he redirected his forces to focus on the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. By massing their artillery, the Russians have made life “hell” for Ukrainian troops in this sector. President Volodymyr Zelensky says the Russians are killing as many as 100 Ukrainian troops a day and wounding up to 500 more. The invaders control about 20 percent of Ukraine — an area larger than the Netherlands.
Putin reportedly calculates that he can still win the war by waiting for the will of the West to erode, and there are many in the West who have given him encouragement. Former secretary of state Henry Kissinger suggests that Ukraine must cede territory for peace, and French President Emmanuel Macron insists that Russia must not be “humiliated.” Meaning Putin should be rewarded for his unlawful aggression?
This is the counsel of despair, and it is divorced from the facts on the ground. A recent poll finds that nearly 80 percent of Ukrainians say their country is moving in the right direction, and many Ukrainian refugees are returning home.
The battlefield picture is grimmer than a month ago but far brighter than three months ago. Yes, the Ukrainians have lost some ground — but they have also regained ground. They have driven the “orcs,” as they call the invaders, out of northern Ukraine and are retaking villages in the south. Ukrainian troops have even reclaimed part of Sievierodonetsk, a city in the far east that had looked lost a week ago.
While the Russians continue “to make incremental, grinding, and costly progress in eastern Ukraine” (to quote the Institute for the Study of War), they have not come close to encircling Ukrainian troops or breaking their will to fight. Russian forces, by contrast, continue to suffer from incompetent leadership and low morale — which helps to explain why they don’t advance until artillery has pulverized everything in their path. Ukraine still has far more forces, with 700,000 troops facing fewer than 200,000 invaders, and its arsenal continues to improve with deliveries of Western weapons.
During the past 100 days, we have swung from excessive pessimism to excessive optimism and now to excessive pessimism again. This is not the moment to lose faith in Ukraine. This is the moment to redouble our support for its freedom fighters. […]
For months, the Ukrainians have been begging for multiple launch rocket systems that would allow them to neutralize Russian artillery. Finally, last week, Biden agreed to supply M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems — but only four of them. Sorry, that won’t cut it. While allies are plugging some gaps (Germany is promising to send its IRIS-T air defenses), Biden still refuses to supply the Patriot long-range air-defense systems or the fighter aircraft (MiG-29s or, better, F-16s) that Ukraine desperately needs. He also refuses to do anything about the Russian naval blockade of the Black Sea, which is strangling Ukraine’s economy.
Biden would do well to remember the Powell Doctrine, formulated by the late secretary of state Colin L. Powell. He counseled against getting involved in “halfhearted half-wars” and argued that when the United States uses force, it should do so with overwhelming might to win. The same doctrine should apply to military assistance: Instead of offering Ukraine just enough aid to avoid being defeated, we should be providing such overwhelming support that it can win the war (meaning, liberate most of the territory lost since Feb. 24). Ukraine shows no sign of tiring of the struggle. Neither should we.”
Hans Petter: In the article “Western ‘Unity’ Is Making the Ukraine War Worse” published in The Washington Post, Pankaj Mishra, an Indian essayist and novelist, presents us with an assessment of the West that, while provoking, still offers us an insight into how we are perceived outside Europe and the USA.
More than 100 days of war in Ukraine have not only unleashed multiple political, economic and environmental crises; Vladimir Putin’s invasion has also revived dangerous delusions in the West.
A few months ago, acute divisions plagued the United States, the European Union and ties between them. Germany, Europe’s leading nation, had developed a mutually profitable relationship with Russia. Poland, a frontline state now aligned against Russia, was descending deeper into autocracy, inviting punitive measures from its EU partners. A mendacious Tory prime minister led the United Kingdom. The US, damaged by Trumpism, a mismanaged pandemic and a military debacle in Afghanistan, was debating the likelihood of civil war. French President Emmanuel Macron had declared NATO was experiencing “brain death.”
As soon as Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his assault, Western politicians and journalists raced to announce that such fissures had miraculously dissolved. Lauding “Western unity” and the rejuvenation of “the free world,” they seemed to spend as much time trying to refurbish the West’s self-image as coming up with an effective rejoinder to Putin’s invasion.
Of course, unfocused actions bred largely of self-regard were always doomed to fail. Take, for instance, sanctions, widely hailed as projecting Western resolve against Putinism. Ineffective against even toothless regimes such as Cuba, sanctions have predictably failed to deter the Russian leader while exposing billions across the world to steep inflation and hunger.
Additional punitive measures have been very selectively imposed, with more focus on maintaining unity than on the political, economic and social repercussions for a world that has barely recovered from two radically destructive years of the pandemic. It should not be surprising that most nations, including close Western allies such as India and Türkiye, continue to do business with Russia, or that Putin has retaliated by blockading ports that supply the world with wheat and fertilizers.
Now convinced of their own rhetoric about the strength of the Western coalition, US politicians and commentators have clamored to change the regime in Moscow and fatally weaken Russia, with no reference to how such fantasies of supreme power worked out in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. Meanwhile, three months into the war, these same figures seem no closer to defining realistic Western objectives in Ukraine.
In fact, the options before the US and Europe have always been blindingly clear.
They could throw their full support behind Ukraine’s resistance to Russia, make sanctions watertight and cut off all financial support for Putin’s war machine. Or they could bring forward the unavoidable obligation to talk to their enemies and offer incentives for both Ukraine and Russia to reach a negotiated solution. […]
Hans Petter Midttun: While I find his perception of the West important and I agree with his assessment of our half-hearted support and the two options he outlines above, this is where I start disagreeing and stopped quoting his article.
His assessment of national interests and interdependency is probably correct, but only if we ignore the same nations’ interest in defending and upholding the international security architecture that has laid the foundation for nearly 80 years of peace and prosperity. And only if we agree with his assessment of the war as a conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and not as it is, as part of its much broader confrontation with the West. He discusses disunity as a constant while ignoring the “healing power” of a common enemy. Because that is what Russia has become: An enemy. It is a threat to European security, stability and prosperity.
We no longer hold President Putin responsible alone. Increasingly more have started to hold the Russian population responsible for the situation in Russia and, therefore, for its horrific, illegitimate and unprovoked assault on a peaceful neighbour and a European democratic state.
But that doesn’t change the fact that our efforts are half-hearted. Max Boot articulated this brilliantly when he reminded us about the Powell Doctrine, which counsel against getting involved in “half-hearted half-wars” and argued that when the United States uses force, it should do so with overwhelming might to win”, arguing that “the same doctrine should apply to military assistance: Instead of offering Ukraine just enough aid to avoid being defeated, we should be providing such overwhelming support that it can win the war (meaning, liberate most of the territory lost since Feb. 24).”
I have argued relentlessly that NATO is bound to become directly engaged in Ukraine sooner or later. It is inevitable. The ambitions and tasks laid down in its strategic concept are essential for our common security. The ripple effects of the war are increasing by the day and will at one stage threaten European stability, security, and prosperity. The weapons Ukraine needs to evict Russian forces from its territory and break the maritime embargo require “operators” from the Alliance to work effectively. Additionally, Russia will fight until it is faced with overwhelming military power.
That moment, however, will only happen when state leaders stop pursuing delusional ideas of negotiations and concessions in Ukraine as a means to stop Russia’s war against the West. It starts with the decision to urgently strengthen the armed forces of the European countries and rebuild the “toolbox” needed to ensure collective security, a decision that is more than 8 years overdue. That decision alone might suffice to end the war and force Russia to withdraw as it would signify a fully united, resilient, and determined West at last. NATO would finally be speaking a language Russia understands.