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Russo-Ukrainian War, Day 115: EU recommends Ukraine and Moldova as membership candidates. Ukraine liberates over 1,000 settlements

Russo-Ukrainian War, Day 115: EU recommends Ukraine and Moldova as membership candidates. Ukraine liberates over 1,000 settlements
Article by: Hans Petter Midttun

The Ukrainian Army liberated over 1,000 settlements and attacks the Russian forces on land, air, and sea in southern areas. EU recommends Ukraine and Moldova as membership candidates. Putin accused the West of colonial arrogance and trying to crush his country with “stupid” sanctions that amounted to an economic “blitzkrieg” and threatened to use nuclear weapons.

Summary report, June 18: Military Summary

According to Roman Ponomarenko, a military analyst, The General Staff reported on 16 June that the Russian army involved about 330,000 personnel in the war against Ukraine, including
150,000 — ground forces;
70,000 — Navy and Air Force;
80,000 — reserve;
7000 — BARS combat army system;
18,000 — Rosgvardia;
8000 — PMC
The “People’s Militia” of the Donetsk and Luhansk “People’s Republics” should be mentioned, with about 20–30,000 bayonets.

According to government officials, the Ukrainian army personnel amounts to 700,000, plus a large number of units in the process of formation and training. The Ukrainian army is defending two fronts, due to the situation at the Belarusian border. President Zelenskyy ordered to check the readiness for the invasion of Belarus in 4 regions.

In Kharkiv Oblast fighting continues, the enemy is slowly but surely pressing on a fairly wide front, from Tsupovka to Staryi Saltiv, trying to solve a double task: to get closer to Kharkiv and secure the northern flank of the group operating in the Donbas. A few days ago, the Russians formed a “military-civil administration” in the occupied districts of Kharkiv Oblast, presented their coat of arms, and began preparations for annexation. Kharkiv is a target of massive terrorist attacks.


Izium: previous news about Ukraine’s 10-km advance to Izium turned out to be false. However, the Armed Forces of Ukraine are still attacking in the Izium direction. Dmytrivka has been liberated. Battles for Velyka Komyshevakha ongoing, with some successes. It is too early to talk about a decisive turning point here.

Sloviansk: fighting continues on the conditional line Krasnopillia — Dolyna — Bohorodychne — Sydorovo. The enemy is pressing, but can not advance.

Luhansk Oblast: no changes, it is also one of the hottest spots on the front. The Armed Forces of Ukraine continue to heroically hold Sievierodonetsk and several villages south of it, defend Lysychansk from pressure from the south, and keep Hirske, approaches to the Bakhmut-Lysychansk highway, Soledar and Bakhmut. The general situation remains difficult. The garrison of Sievierodonetsk is cut off, the supply is only by boats, which hardly meets all the needs of soldiers. The Russian invaders retain an advantage in artillery and report shelling sections of the Bakhmut-Siversk highway, which is currently supplying a group of our troops in Lysychansk. Yesterday, the Armed Forces of Ukraine destroyed the enemy’s ammunition depot in the city of Khrustalny, Luhansk Oblast.


Donetsk Oblast: it is hot for the third day in a row near Vuhledar, where active battles are taking place in the Pavlivka-Yegorivka-Shevchenko triangle. In other parts of the front in the region without changes. According to the enemy, today in Donetsk the Armed Forces of Ukraine destroyed an ammunition depot with an accurate artillery strike.

Zaporizhzhia, Kherson and Mykolaiv Oblasts — no updates.


The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 06.00 am, June 18, 2022 is in the dropdown menu below.


According to information from the General Staff as of 06.00 18.06.2022, supplemented by its [18:00 assessment].

“In the Volyn, Polissya, and Siversky directions, the situation has not changed significantly.

· [Combat training activities are being carried out with the personnel of engineering units of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus in the Volyn and Polissya directions.]

· [In the Siversky direction, Russian forces yesterday fired on civilian infrastructure near Mezenivka and Hlukhiv, Sumy region. In addition, enemy aircraft struck two settlements in the Sumy region.]

[In the Slobozhansky direction, Russian forces carry out remote mining of the area. Conducted air reconnaissance using UAVs.]

· In the Kharkiv direction, Russian forces are trying to prevent the Defense Forces from entering the state border of Ukraine and the rear of the Russian group of troops operating in the Sloviansk direction. To restore supply routes through railway overpasses, it plans to lay additional railway branches. Russian occupiers fired on civilian infrastructure in the areas of Kozacha Lopan, Petrivka, Korobochkine, and Pryshyb.

· [Yesterday, to identify weaknesses in the defence of our troops in the areas of Dementiyivka, Rubizhne, and Pyatihatki, Russian forces used sabotage and reconnaissance groups. Ukrainian soldiers found them and inflicted losses. Russian forces retreated. Not far from Kochubiivka, the occupiers tried to conduct reconnaissance by fighting. Our defenders did not give them any chance of success and Russian forces retreated with losses.]

· [Yesterday, Russian occupiers fired on civilian infrastructure in the areas of Tsyrkuny, Verkhniy Saltiv, Pishchane, Ruska Lozova, and Krynychne.]

· In the Sloviansk direction, the main efforts of Russian forces continue to focus on the offensive in the direction of the city of Sloviansk, and the fighting continues. The aggressor carried out systematic artillery shelling in the areas of the settlements of Dibrivne, Dolyna, Krasnopillya, Hrushuvakha, and Adamivka. In the area of ​​the settlement of Krasnopillya Russian forces tried to resume assault operations, and fights proceed. [Yesterday, they tried to conduct reconnaissance by fighting near Krasnopilla, but were unsuccessful, and retreated.]

· [Yesterday, Russian forces carried out systematic artillery shelling in the areas of the settlements of Dibrivne, Pashkove, Hrushuvakha, Kurulka, and Velyka Komyshuvakha.]

· [Yesterday, units of the Defense Forces of Ukraine forced Russian forces to leave the village of Dmytrivka, Izium district, Kharkiv oblast.]

In the Donetsk direction, Russian forces continue to focus their efforts on the Sievierodonetsk and Bakhmut directions.

· They were not active in the Lyman direction. They fired artillery at the Sydorov and Mayaky districts.

· In the Sievierodonetsk direction, Russian forces continue to fire from artillery and rocket-propelled grenade launchers at the positions of our troops and civilian infrastructure near Lysychansk, Metolkino, Ustynivka and Voronovo. [Yesterday, they launched airstrikes on the positions of our units near Syrotyn and Borivske.]

· Fighting continues for the city of Sievierodonetsk. In order to improve the tactical situation, enemy units tried to carry out assault operations outside the city but were unsuccessful. [Yesterday, Ukrainian soldiers successfully repulsed the assault in the areas of Sirotin and Metolkino. Russian forces withdrew to the previously occupied positions.]

· In the Bakhmut direction, in addition to our positions, Russian forces fired artillery of various calibers at the civilian infrastructure in the areas of the settlements of Zolote, Spirne, Berestove, Soledar, Klynove, and Troitske. [Yesterday, Russian forces fired on civilian infrastructure in the areas of the settlements of Mykolaivka, Bilohorivka, Pokrovske, Zaitseve, and Stepne.]

· Not far from Hirske, Berestove, and Kodema, Ukrainian troops once again inflicted losses on Russian forces. After unsuccessful assaults, the occupiers withdrew. [Yesterday, near Hirske, Ukrainian defenders stopped a Russian attempt at reconnaissance by fighting. Also, Russian forces conducted unsuccessful assaults in the areas of Berestove and Kodema. They suffered losses and retreated.]

· [After regrouping yesterday, with the support of artillery, the occupiers attempted an assault near Nyrkove. Ukrainian soldiers stopped them.]

· In the Avdiivka, Kurakhivka, Novopavlivka, and Zaporizhzhia directions, Russian forces did not take active action. It fired on civilian infrastructure from artillery and MLRS in the settlements of Kamyanka, Avdiivka, Opytne, Volodymyrivka, Novosilka, and Shcherbaky. [Yesterday. it fired on civilian infrastructure in the settlements of Novoselivka, Krasnohorivka, Zelene Pole, and Kamyanske. It launched airstrikes on New York, Avdiivka and Pobeda.]

· As a result of the fire damage by the Defense Forces of Ukraine, units of the 11th Separate Motorized Rifle Regiment of the 1st Army Corps suffered significant losses and were withdrawn from the area of ​​combat operations to restore combat capability.

In the Pivdennyy Buh directions, in order to deter our troops, Russian forces fired artillery, mortars, and rocket-propelled grenades at the settlements of Shyroke, Blahodatne, Shevchenkove, Prybuzke, and Topolyne. At the same time, Russian forces are trying to improve the engineering equipment of the advanced positions and mine dangerous areas along the Inhulets River.

Russian forces continue to suffer losses in manpower and equipment. According to available information, during the past 24hrs, units of the Defense Forces have destroyed at least 30 units of various equipment and weapons of Russian forces. The information is currently being clarified and will be published shortly. Explosions of enemy ammunition depots continue. There is an increase in the number of desertions of the Russian occupiers.

[The occupiers continue to violate the rights and freedoms of the citizens of Ukraine in the temporarily occupied territory, destroy and export to the territory of the Russian Federation the property of the seized industrial enterprises, to carry out measures of the administrative-police regime. Russian forces do not understand and are afraid of total resistance from Ukrainians.]”

Military Updates 

Ukraine attacks Russian forces on land, air, and sea in southern areas controlled by Moscow, The New York Times reports. “The Ukrainian Air Force said it struck three clusters of enemy soldiers in the Kherson region; Ukraine’s volunteer force said its soldiers shot down a Russian helicopter; and the Ukrainian Navy said that it sank a Russian tugboat transporting ammunition, weapons, and personnel to Zmiinyi (Snake) Island, a tiny but strategically important piece of Ukrainian land off the coast of Odesa.”

For the Full-scale Invasion of Ukraine, Russia engaged about 330,000 personnel — stated Brigadier General Oleksiy Hromov, Deputy Chief of the Main Operations Department of the Ukrainian General Staff. “To invade Ukraine, Russia engaged about 330,000 personnel. Their groups at various axes are close to 150,000 strong. If we add their air and sea components, there are about 220,000 military personnel. In addition, they engaged units of the national army combat reserve, the federal service of guard forces, and mobilization units, he said. According to the brigadier general, Russian forces are regrouping its forces in the Slobozhansky direction to enhance its offensive capability.”

1,023 Ukrainian settlements were liberated from Russian invaders, Ukrinform reports. “A total of 1,023 settlements have already been liberated from Russian invaders in Ukraine. Demining and infrastructure renovation efforts are underway within the deoccupied territory. The relevant statement was made by Deputy Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Kyrylo Tymoshenko at a briefing, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.”

Ukrainian military shoot down an enemy UAV not listed as in service with the Russian army, Ukrinform reports. “Ukrainian defenders have shot down Russia’s Merlin-VR unmanned aerial vehicle, which is not officially listed as in service with the Russian army. The relevant statement was made by the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on Telegram, an Ukrinform correspondent reports. It is an experimental drone, which was only shown to the public in September 2021 and has not yet been officially listed as in service with the Russian army.”

According to British Defence Intelligence, (last 48 hours):

· In the last 48 hours, Russia has likely renewed its efforts to advance south of Izium, with the goal of advancing deeper into the Donetsk Oblast, and to envelop the Sievierodonetsk Pocket from the north.

· Since 14 June, Russian and separatist officials have claimed they are attempting to establish humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to evacuate Sievierodonetsk. Russia has precedent, both earlier in the Ukraine campaign and in Syria, of using unilaterally-declared ‘humanitarian’ corridors as a mechanism to manipulate the battlespace and impose the forced transfer of populations.

· Ukrainian civilians trapped in Sievierodonetsk are likely to be suspicious of using the proposed corridor. Options to leave the town are limited by the destruction of bridges, but Russia’s proposed route would take them towards the town of Svatova, deeper inside Russian-occupied territory. If trapped civilians don’t take up the offer of exiting via a corridor, Russian will likely claim justification in making less of a distinction between them and any Ukrainian military targets in the area.

· Over the last 48 hours, Russian forces have likely continued to attempt to regain momentum on the Popasna axis, from which they seek to surround the Sievierodonetsk pocket from the south.

· In Russia, the war has accelerated the state’s long-term trajectory towards authoritarianism. In recent weeks, the Duma has started the process to introduce a 20-year sentence for Russians who fight against the Russian Federation. Speaking out against the invasion is also being criminalized.

· Despite the majority of Russians telling pollsters they support the ‘special military operation’, elements of the population both actively and passively demonstrate their opposition. The “Freedom for Russia Legion”, recruited from Russians, has almost certainly deployed in combat alongside the Ukrainian military. Some high-profile Russian officials have highly likely been side-lined after criticising the war.

· Scepticism about the war is likely also particularly strong amongst Russia’s business elite and oligarch community. Migration applications suggest that 15,000 Russian millionaires (in US dollars) are likely already attempting to leave the country. Motivations highly likely include both personal opposition to the invasion and an intent to escape the financial impact of the sanctions imposed on Russia. Should this exodus continue, it will likely exacerbate the war’s long-term damage to Russia’s economy.

Losses of the Russian army

Russian combat losses, June 17, 2002. Source:

As of Saturday 18 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 33350 (+200),
  • Tanks — 1465 (+9),
  • Armored combat vehicles — 3573 (+10),
  • Artillery systems — 739 (+5),
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS — 233 (+0),
  • Air defense means — 98 (+1),
  • Aircraft — 216 (+1),
  • Helicopters — 180 (+1),
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks — 2513 (+17),
  • Vessels/boats — 14 (+1),
  • UAV operational and tactical level — 594 (+1),
  • Special equipment — 55 (+0),
  • Mobile SRBM system — 4 (+0),
  • Cruise missiles — 129 (+0)

Russian enemy suffered the greatest losses (of the last day) in the Sloviansk, Bahmut, and Kryvyi Rih directions.


Millions of refugees from Ukraine have crossed borders into neighboring countries, and many more have been forced to move inside the country. 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. As of 16 June:

Individual refugees from Ukraine recorded across Europe: 5,137,933

  • · Belarus, Hungary, Republic of Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia 2,687,851
  • · Other European countries 2,305,082

Refugees from Ukraine registered for Temporary Protection or similar national protection schemes in Europe: 3,407,378

  • · Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia 1,309,894
  • · Other European countries 2,097,484

Border crossings from Ukraine (since 24 February 2022): 7,703,857

Border crossings to Ukraine (since 28 February 2022): 2,558,917

OHCHR recorded 10,094 civilian casualties in Ukraine as of June 16. 4,509 were killed (including 294 children) and 5,585 injured (including 463 children).


Russia wants to take control of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant from 1 September, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Enerhoatom. “The occupiers told the heads of structural subdivisions of Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant that Russia wants to put the nuclear power plant under Rosatom’s control from 1 September.”

The Dutch intelligence service says it prevented a Russian spy from infiltrating the International Criminal Court, The New York Times reports. “Dutch officials said 36-year-old Sergey Vladimirovich Cherkasov spent years building an identity as a Brazilian citizen, polishing a résumé that got him an internship at the International Criminal Court in The Hague before Dutch officials blew his cover.

According to Dutch intelligence, Mr. Cherkasov pretended to be a Brazilian named Viktor Muller Ferreira, and got an internship at the court using a detailed cover story that hid his ties to the Russian military intelligence agency, the G.R.U.

Mr. Cherkasov was due to start working at the court, but was denied entry to the Netherlands at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport in April after the AIVD, the Dutch intelligence agency, tipped off immigration officials. He was sent back to Brazil and declared an “undesirable alien,” intelligence officials said in a statement Thursday. Officials did not say how they identified him as a spy.

The International Criminal Court is investigating potential war crimes by Russia in its invasion of Ukraine, as well as the Russian-Georgian war in 2008.”

Occupiers are bringing their families over to Kherson and moving into Ukrainians’ apartments — Deputy Minister of Defence of Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Russia has stepped up the relocation of families of servicemen in the Russian occupying forces to Ukrainian settlements occupied by the Russian aggressor. In particular, [this situation] is happening in Kherson, [Deputy Minister of Defence of Ukraine Hanna Maliar said]. The newcomers, so-called Russian settlers, are arbitrarily inhabiting the abandoned houses and apartments of Ukrainian citizens who left to save their lives since the beginning of the large-scale Russian invasion.

In addition, according to Maliar, the Russian invaders are increasing measures with respect to the forced passportization of the population of the territories they occupy. In particular, they have already created a fast-tracked procedure so that passports are received within two weeks.”

323 children were killed, and 583 children injured, the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine reports as of June 18. 2,028 educational establishments are damaged as a result of shelling and bombings, 209 of them are destroyed fully. 18,201 crimes of aggression and war crimes and 8,913 crimes against national security were registered.


Ramstein 3: Ukrainian MoD reports on the outcomes, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Oleksii Reznikov, the Minister of Defence of Ukraine, summed up the outcomes of the third meeting in the Ramstein format [the meeting of defense ministers from Western-aligned nations aimed at developing new strategies and initiatives to assist Ukraine in combatting the ongoing Russian aggression — ed.].

Georgia, Moldova, and Ecuador “have joined the club.” It was agreed that Ukraine will receive more weapons from its Western partners. In particular, 155-mm guns, HIMARS, Harpoons, and more from the USA; helicopters from Slovakia; artillery from Canada, Poland, and the Netherlands, and MLRS from Germany. “…and something more,” Reznikov added.”


Ukraine to US Defense Industry: We Need Long-Range, Precision Weapons, National Defense Magazine reports. The frontline is 2,500 kilometers long (equivalent to the distance from Kyiv to Paris). There is active combat along more than 1,000 kilometers (equivalent to the distance from Kyiv to Berlin). About one million Ukrainians are involved in the defense of the country. And Ukraine has to support them all. We have to supply them with small arms, personal protection gear, and with means of communication. Denys Sharapov, Ukraine’s deputy minister of the defense in charge of procurement, support for weapons and equipment, and Brig. Gen. Volodymyr Karpenko, land forces command logistics commander, explained.

Think about this: one brigade occupies around 40 kilometers of the front line. That means that to cover the active combat conflict we need 40 brigades. Every brigade is 100 infantry fighting vehicles, 30 tanks, and 54 artillery systems — just for one brigade, and we have 40 of them. I’m not going to talk about the anti-tank guided missiles or anti-tank guided weapons for now. I’m just talking about heavy weapons. As of today, we have approximately 30 to 40, sometimes up to 50 percent of losses of equipment as a result of active combat. So, we have lost approximately 50 percent. Approximately 1,300 infantry fighting vehicles have been lost, 400 tanks, 700 artillery systems.

“We have received a large number of weapon systems, but unfortunately with such a massively expendable resource, it only covers 10 to 15 percent of our needs. We need artillery, we need artillery rounds, infantry fighting vehicles, combat vehicles, and tanks. We really need air-defense systems and multiple launch rocket systems. Also, high-precision weapon systems [as they] will give us an edge over Russian forces, the upper hand in this war.

The party that will win in this war will be the party that will first start using contemporary high-precision equipment and weapon systems. And Predator drones are a part of the modernized, highly accurate, highly precise, modern equipment. It gives us an advantage that allows us to accurately strike Russian forces. […]

Unfortunately, today, we don’t have the technologies that would allow us to limit human casualties. […] You have to understand that all of the [unmanned aerial vehicles], the armed UAVs that are needed, the kamikaze drones, are the weapons that will allow us to extend the line of contact. So, the [increased] space between us and Russian forces will limit human casualties while still increasing the efficiency of the destruction of enemy vehicles. We need both the multiple launch rocket systems and the kamikaze drones [loitering munitions].

If we can use long-range items like the drones — like the MLRS — that will allow us to extend the effective range up to 60 kilometers, that will give us the upper hand and that will give us significant success. And if we can increase the number of multiple launch rocket systems and kamikaze drones that will decrease the rate of consumption of artillery systems. […]

Unfortunately, we don’t have an opportunity today to have foreign-supplied equipment sent back to a restoration facility simply because of time constraints. That is why we are discussing spare parts here so that we can maintain and repair that equipment right in the field.

For example, the M777 artillery systems are really prone to be damaged by enemy artillery. For every battery of M777, there are six pieces. After every artillery contact, we have to take two artillery pieces and take them back to the rear to maintain them because some of the subsystems are damaged by shrapnel. This happens every day. Equipment that has gone to the rear of the frontline is maintained solely by Ukrainian specialists that have been trained by different foreign companies for that specific purpose.”

Slovakia donates 5 helicopters, and Grad rockets to Ukraine, The Daily Sun reports. Slovakia has donated one Mi-2 and four Mi-17 helicopters and thousands of Grad rockets to Ukraine, reports AFP. Defence Minister Jaroslav Nad revealed this on Thursday on his Facebook account.

UK to give Ukraine more than 20 M109 self-propelled guns, Daily Banner reports. “UK purchased over 20 ACS for Ukraine in Belgium. This was stated by British Defense Minister Ben Wallace, speaking after a meeting of NATO defence ministers in Brussels, reports sky news. More than 20 American long-range M109 guns were purchased from a Belgian arms company. Self-propelled guns that fire 155 mm projectiles will be delivered to Ukraine after repairs.”

On June 15, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced $1 billion in additional security assistance for Ukraine, according to US Department of Defense. “This includes authorization of a Presidential Drawdown of security assistance valued at up to $350 million, as well as $650 million in Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) funds. This authorization is the twelfth drawdown of equipment from DoD inventories for Ukraine since August 2021.

United States security assistance committed to Ukraine includes over 1,400 Stinger anti-aircraft systems; over 6,500 Javelin anti-armor systems; over 20,000 other anti-armor systems; over 700 Switchblade Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems; 126 155mm Howitzers and 260,000 155mm artillery rounds; 108 Tactical Vehicles to tow 155mm Howitzers; 19 Tactical Vehicles to recover equipment; [4] High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and ammunition; 20 Mi-17 helicopters; Hundreds of Armored High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles; 200 M113 Armored Personnel Carriers; over 7,000 small arms; 0ver 50,000,000 rounds of small arms ammunition; 75,000 sets of body armor and helmets; 121 Phoenix Ghost Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems; Laser-guided rocket systems; Puma Unmanned Aerial Systems; Unmanned Coastal Defense Vessels; 22 counter-artillery radars; Four counter-mortar radars; Four air surveillance radars; Two harpoon coastal defense systems; M18A1 Claymore anti-personnel munitions; C-4 explosives and demolition equipment for obstacle clearing; Tactical secure communications systems; Thousands of night vision devices, thermal imagery systems, optics, and laser rangefinders; Commercial satellite imagery services; Explosive ordnance disposal protective gear; Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear protective equipment; Medical supplies to include first aid kits; Electronic jamming equipment; Field equipment and spare parts; and funding for training, maintenance, and sustainment.”

New developments

A. Germany, France, Italy, and Romania Back Immediate EU Candidate Status for Ukraine, European Pravda reports. “After a meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, the leaders of Germany, Italy, Romania, and France called for “immediate” EU candidate status for Ukraine, reports BFMTV.”

B. Zelenskyy to Macron, Scholz, and Сo.: Russia doesn’t want peace, it wants war, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis that Russia does not want peace, but only wants war, and to destroy Ukraine and the EU.”

C. Combative Putin dismisses ‘stupid’ Western sanctions ‘blitzkrieg’, Reuters reports. “Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the West on Friday of colonial arrogance and trying to crush his country with “stupid” sanctions that amounted to an economic “blitzkrieg”. “We are strong people and can cope with any challenge. Like our ancestors, we will solve any problem, the entire thousand-year history of our country speaks of this.” Putin drew applause from the hall when he reaffirmed his determination to continue the “special military operation” in Ukraine that has unleashed what he said was an “unprecedented” barrage of Western economic sanctions.”

D. Putin suggests Russia would use nuclear weapons if sovereignty is threatened, The Washington Post reports. “Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested Friday that Russia would be prepared to use nuclear weapons if its sovereignty was threatened as a result of its invasion of Ukraine.”

E. Gas flows to France from Germany halted after Russia reduces supplies, Reuters reports. “Gas flows from Germany to France have stopped since June 15 after what German officials on Friday described as Russia’s politically motivated decision to reduce supplies to the European Union. European leaders have been blunt in blaming Russia for a reduction in gas supplies through its Nord Stream 1 pipeline in suspected retaliation for economic sanctions imposed over the war in Ukraine. The Kremlin denies the cuts are premeditated.”

F. EU recommends Ukraine and Moldova as membership candidates in snub to Russia, Reuters reports. “The European Union’s executive recommended on Friday that Ukraine and Moldova become candidates for membership […]. If the European Commission’s decision is ratified as expected next week at a leaders’ summit, it will be a major morale boost for Kyiv and further Western snub for Russian President Vladimir Putin after his invasion of Ukraine.”


Assessments by the Institute of Study of War. Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 17

On the War

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of Friday 17 June:

(quote) Russian forces are continuing to deploy additional forces to support offensive operations in the Sievierodonetsk-Lysychansk area, and Ukrainian defenses remain strong. Ukrainian Defense Ministry Spokesperson Oleksandr Motuzyanyk reported that Russian forces are transferring tanks, armored personnel carriers, engineering equipment, and vehicles from Svatove, along the Russian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) in Luhansk Oblast, to Starobilsk, just 40 km east of Sievierodonetsk. Social media users reported that Russian forces are likely redeploying equipment from northern Kharkiv Oblast to Donbas and published footage of Russian heavy artillery arriving by rail in Stary Osokol, Belgorod Oblast on June 17. UK Chief of Defense Tony Radakin stated that Russian forces are “diminishing” in power by committing large quantities of personnel and equipment for incremental gains in one area. The Russian military has concentrated the vast majority of its available combat power to capture Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk at the expense of other axes of advance and is suffering heavy casualties to do so.

Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that Russian forces will attack Ukrainian positions near Donetsk City but reiterated that the new tactic will require additional time during his address at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum on June 17. Putin stated that Russian forces will stop what he claimed is the Ukrainian shelling of Donetsk City by attacking Ukrainian fortifications from the rear. Putin may have amplified reports of shelling of civilian areas of Donetsk City, which Ukrainian officials have denied, to discourage Western officials from supplying weapons to Ukraine. Putin also declared that Russian forces will fully complete the “special military operation” in Ukraine, and noted that Russian and proxy forces will intensify counter-battery combat. Putin urged Russian forces to refrain from entirely destroying cities that they aim to “liberate,” ignoring the destruction Russian forces have inflicted on Ukrainian cities and the artillery-heavy tactics Russian forces are currently employing in Sievierodonetsk.”

Unconfirmed Ukrainian sources report that the Kremlin fired the Commander of the Russian Airborne Forces, Colonel-General Andrey Serdyukov, due to mass casualties among Russian paratroopers. Odesa Oblast Military-Civil Administration Spokesperson Serhiy Bratchuk reported that the Kremlin appointed the current chief of staff of the Central Military District, Colonel-General Mikhail Teplinsky, as Serdyukov’s replacement and named the Deputy Commander of the Russian Airborne Forces, Lieutenant General Anatoly Kontsevoi, as the First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Russian Airborne Forces. ISW cannot independently confirm these claims or Serdyukov’s exact role in the invasion of Ukraine, but they, if true, would indicate that Serdyukov is being held responsible for the poor performance of and high casualties among Russian VDV units, particularly in early operations around Kyiv. Continued dismissals and possible internal purges of senior Russian officers will likely further degrade poor Russian command and control capabilities and the confidence of Russian officers.

Key Takeaways

  • Russian forces continued to launch unsuccessful ground assaults against Sievierodonetsk and its southeastern outskirts on June 17.
  • Russian forces continued efforts to sever Ukrainian lines of communication to Lysychansk, both from the north toward Sloviansk and in the south near Bakhmut.
  • Ukrainian forces are likely conducting a counteroffensive northwest of Izium intended to draw Russian forces away from offensive operations toward Sloviansk and disrupt Russian supply lines and are making minor gains.
  • Ukrainian forces and aviation continued to strike Russian logistics and fortifications in occupied settlements along the Southern Axis, with localized fighting ongoing.
  • Russian forces continued to regroup and transfer personnel within Zaporizhzhia Oblast to maintain defensive positions along the frontline.
  • Russian President Putin reaffirmed his commitment to “completing” the Russian operation in Ukraine but acknowledged that unspecified new Russian tactics (which are likely simply explanations for poor Russian performance) will take time.
  • Unconfirmed Ukrainian sources reported that the Kremlin fired the commander of the Russian Airborne Forces, Colonel-General Andrey Serdyukov, due to poor performance.“ (unquote)

Putin has ‘strategically lost’ war in Ukraine — UK armed forces chief, Ukrinform reports. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his troops have already strategically lost the war against Ukraine. That’s according to Sky News.

“President Putin has used about 25% of his army’s power to gain a tiny amount of territory and 50,000 people either dead or injured. […] Any notion that this is a success for Russia is nonsense. Russia is failing. […] It might be getting some tactical successes over the last few weeks. And those might continue for the next few weeks. But Russia is losing strategically,” said Admiral Tony Radakin, the head of the UK’s armed forces.

He added that Moscow had been forced to give up its objectives of taking over most Ukrainian cities and was now engaged in a tactical battle in which fighting is “tough.”

“The Russian machine is grinding away, and it’s gaining a couple of — two, three, five — kilometres every day. And that’s tough for Ukraine, but this is going to be a long fight. And we’re supporting Ukraine, Ukraine has shown how courageous it really is. And Russia has vulnerabilities because it’s running out of people, it’s running out of hi-tech missiles,” Radakin said.”

Consequences and what to do?

As Russia advances, US and Europe must redouble aid to Ukraine, The Washington Post editorial board writes. “Overestimated and overconfident, Russia’s armed forces floundered in the face of fierce resistance after invading Ukraine on Feb. 24. They retreated from Kyiv and other cities they had expected to take within a few days. Some of Ukraine’s supporters then made the opposite error of triumphalism — or so it would appear from more recent events in that country. Victory for Ukraine is nowhere near a realistic short-term prospect.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has reorganized and mounted a bloody, tactically primitive but effective offensive in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. Russian artillery is inflicting thousands of combat casualties on Ukraine’s outgunned troops, and the Russians are close to capturing Sievierodonetsk, a prelude to control over Luhansk, one of Donbas’s two component provinces.

With the invasion now nearly four months old and at an inflection point — between its initial shocks and a longer-term grind — the United States and its allies must learn the right lessons and draw the right conclusions. The first is to take seriously both Russia’s intentions and its capabilities. Mr. Putin still considers all Ukraine to be Russian, as he indicated in a June 9 speech likening his current war to Peter the Great’s 18th-century campaign to retake territory from the Swedish Empire. Despite the vast losses of men and materiel Mr. Putin has already sustained, the Russian military retains an advantage over Ukraine in heavy weaponry crucial to the fight: planes, tanks and artillery.

At the same time, Russia has indeed been forced to expend enormous resources for the sake of relatively limited territorial gains. It could have to pause its offensive if and when the fight for Sievierodonetsk ends. Holding the ground will likely require facing an insurgency. Economic sanctions should deny Russia access to technology it needs to rearm. Thus, Ukraine can not only withstand the onslaught but also bounce back and take the fight to the Russians — if it gets enough arms, especially heavy artillery, from its allies, promptly.

The good news is that at least some of the needed armament is on the way. The Biden administration announced an additional $1 billion worth on Wednesday, including artillery, ammunition and coastal defense systems. At a meeting of more than 50 nations at NATO’s Brussels headquarters that same day, five other countries promised Ukraine long-range precision strike weapons systems. Germany, which has been slow to fulfill its promises, says it will soon send Ukrainian troops three multiple-launch rocket systems.

Difficult as it will be to counter Mr. Putin’s military capabilities, the true challenge facing the West is to match his determination, despite the war’s painful economic repercussions. On that front, the evidence is more mixed: The Biden administration, Britain and NATO’s Eastern European members are projecting firmness while other leaders, such as President Emmanuel Macron of France, allude to an eventual negotiated settlement. France, Germany, Italy and Romania on Thursday did support making Ukraine a candidate for eventual membership in the European Union.

A stalemated war could give Russia time to consolidate its territorial gains — and foment division within Western ranks. Hastening and broadening military aid to Kyiv is the best way to prevent that.”

Hans Petter Midttun’s assessment

“Putin has ‘strategically lost’ war in Ukraine”, Admiral Tony Radakin, the head of the UK’s armed forces said. But is that true?

From the perspective of a conventional war, he is probably right.

Russia’s “Blitzkrieg” failed nearly before it started, and its territorial gains after nearly four months of a full-scale war are extremely limited. It has lost an unheard amount of equipment in the process. Its combat aircraft are only operating over occupied territories and missile launches are conducted from a “safe distance”. Its stock of high-precision missiles is running low. More importantly, it has lost or weakened some of its best fighting formations. The failure to anticipate Ukrainian resistance and the subsequent complacency of Russian commanders has led to significant losses across many of Russia’s elite units, including the airborne forces. Russia has likely suffered devastating losses amongst its mid and junior-ranking officers in the conflict. Unless it declares full mobilization, Russia is slowly running out of manpower to uphold the present momentum.

Russia does not have sufficient forces to occupy Ukraine and an attempt to do just that, will break the backs of its defence and security forces. Reports of armed resistance in the occupied territories underline the fact that Ukrainians will not accept Russian control. It faces a real danger of a strategic defeat. Its armed forces could be locked in Ukraine for many years to come. The rationale for the war itself — the possibility of a “better peace” — is gone. Ukraine and Ukrainians will forever be Russia’s enemy.

Additionally, the invasion has triggered a “new Cold War” and an arms race, which together with sanctions will put the Russian economy under enormous pressure. Russia’s economy is under siege. Any kind of reset and normalization with the vest is presently in the blue. Even countries that have put national interests before collective security have now been forced to reconsider their relationship with Russia. Not only are its great power ambitions at risk, but the very foundations of the Russian state are also in danger.

From a hybrid war perspective, however, Admiral Tony Radakin might be underestimating both the scope of the war, as well as the resilience of both Russia and Ukraine. More crucially, he might be overestimating the resilience of the “Joker”. The outcome of the war will most likely be decided by the West. A decision to intervene would have an immediate impact. Our decisions regarding support (weapons, financial, humanitarian, etc.), sanctions, energy policy, and negotiations will be equally important.

What started as a hybrid war on 20 February 2014, and turned into a conventional, full-scale war 8 years and 4 days later, has already reverted to a protracted, hybrid war.

This war will not be decided on the physical battlefield. It will be decided through the long-term employment of both military and non-military means. While the military effort will continue to play a crucial role, the main battlefield has once again moved to the cognitive space. It has become a question about resilience and who endures the consequences of the war the best.

While Russia’s military success is limited, its disregard for the soldier’s life and well-being allows it to continue fighting through the use of mass. Having made the strategic blunder to invade, this has turned into a now-or-never moment for Russia, which compels it to continue. Additionally, it has already succeeded in setting the table for a potential Ukrainian defeat.

Firstly, it has discouraged the West from intervening actively. The joint and combined capabilities of the world’s strongest military alliance will not help tip the balance in favour of Ukraine. It has even deterred NATO from delivering the weapons Ukraine needs to evict Russian forces from its territory.

Secondly, both the USA and Europe are already feeling the consequences of the war. Costs of living are soaring as a consequence of increasing prices on energy, food, fertilizers, transport, inflation, and more. In contrast to Russia, the population in the West decides the faith of its elected leaders. An angry population will punish the ruling government irrespectively if it is to blame or not. That is, unfortunately not the case in an autocracy like Russia. Russians are used to economic hardship and they will buckle down under the “Western assault against the Motherland”. The likelihood of the West blinking first is, therefore, very high and Russia knows it. Some of our leaders are already talking openly about peace at the cost of Ukrainian sovereignty and security.

Thirdly, while we have helped Ukraine slow down the Russian advance on land, we have done little to change the maritime problem. NATO member states have delivered anti-ship missile systems forcing the Black Sea Fleet to operate further away from the Ukrainian coast. The systems do, however, not break the maritime blockade of the Ukrainian ports. Having lost more than 60% of its imports and exports, Ukraine has become dependent upon $5–7 billion in international financial aid every month just to be able to uphold the basic functions of the state. The economy needed to rebuild Ukraine after the war (estimated to be around $600 billion so far) and increase the living standards of its population comes on top of this. Breaking the maritime blockade is, therefore, crucial to ensure Ukrainian survival as an independent, sovereign, and economic viable state.

Lastly, Russia does not show any signs of giving in. That’s probably going to be the case right up to the point where it falters and collapses. The West, in contrast, are already showing signs of fatigue. The aggressor gets his motivation from public polls showing increasing dissatisfaction with the ripple effects of the war, every sign of discord within the Alliance, and every time the President of France, Chancellor of Germany or Prime Minister of Italy talks about the need to negotiate (at the costs of Ukrainian territory, every time the UN and the many humanitarian organisations highlights the food crisis and the need to resolve the war, and not least, every time President Biden and General Secretary Stoltenberg stress that the West will not get actively engaged in Ukraine for the fear of the (broader) war turning into a broader confrontation. Which it already is.

While Russia might be close to reaching its culmination point in its land war, its maritime war continues unabated. While it might be unable to occupy much more territory, it is already controlling 100% of Ukraine’s Maritime Exclusive Economic Zones. It is already occupying the greater part of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson Oblasts, and might succeed in achieving control of as much as one-third of Ukrainian territory and maritime areas under its jurisdictions. It has created the perfect position to undermine Ukrainian statehood in the face of potentially declining Western support.

As previous operations have shown, NATO support does not last forever. Failing to do what is needed to end the war on Ukrainian terms, Russia might find strength and resolve in believing that the final outcome is given. It only needs to uphold the military pressure (as it did in 2014–22) and wait it out. Ukraine might fall the moment the Western resolve falters.

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