Russo-Ukrainian War, Day 118: Russia threatens Ukrainian “decision-making centers” and Lithuania

Russo Ukrainian War, Day 118: Russia threatens Ukrainian “decision making centers” and Lithuania

 

Daily review, Russo-Ukrainian war 2022

Article by: Zarina Zabrisky

Russia accused the Ukrainian army of destroying oil and gas platforms in the Black Sea and threatened retaliatory strikes “on decision-making centers.” Ukraine did not comment. Russia is also threatening Lithuania after the ban on the transit of goods to the Kaliningrad Oblast. Russia fired 14 missiles at the Odesa Oblast. The main battle in Donbas is for Sievierodonetsk: the fighting is underway in the city’s Industrial Zone. Russia continues to accumulate equipment in the Luhansk Oblast.

Summary report, June 20

Russo-Ukrainian War, Day 118: Russia threatens Ukrainian “decision-making centers” and Lithuania ~~

According to military expert Roman Ponomarenko, Chornomornaftogaz’s drilling rigs were under attack. Russia seized the oil and gas platforms in the Black sea from Ukraine in 2014 and used them for radio reconnaissance. The Russians accused Ukraine of the attack and threatened to strike “at Ukraine’s decision-making centers.” The Ukrainian command did not comment on this information.  Western partners are strongly opposed to Ukraine striking Russian territory. It is reported that the gas supply to Crimea was not interrupted.
Another alleged attack was reported in the village of Suzemka, Bryansk region in Russia by the Russian Federation. Ukraine did not comment on this information. Ukrainian cities Odesa, Mykolaiv, and Kharkiv have suffered more bombing and shelling.

Fierce fighting continued on the fronts. Near Sievierodonetsk, the Russians captured the village of Metolkino, for which hostilities lasted as long as Sievierodonetsk itself. The situation in the villages of Voronove and Syrotyne, formerly maintained by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, is unclear. The enemy continues an active attack in Sievierodonetsk. Russians need some kind of “victory”, because the slow advance of their troops, which has been observed for weeks, causes criticism and skeptical remarks. Their last big “victory” was a month ago after Azovstal’s defenders laid down their arms. Sievierodonetsk should be next.

Russo-Ukrainian War, Day 118: Russia threatens Ukrainian “decision-making centers” and Lithuania ~~

Luhansk Oblast: no changes. Russian army attacks; the Ukrainian army fights back, for instance, near  Mykolaivka (north of Vrubivka). A high-risk situation in Zolote, Russians seek to cut it off, surrounding Ukrainian troops in the Zolote – Hirske area.

Donetsk Oblast: fighting of varying intensity near Avdiivka, Vuhledar, and Niu-York.

Kharkiv Oblast, Izium and Sloviansk: no changes. The battles are on the same frontiers as in the previous days. Ukraine continues to hold Bohorodychne north of Sloviansk, which the Russian Army has been storming in vain for several weeks. And the Armed Forces of Ukraine retain the intrigue with the potential to go to Izium from the west.

In Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv, and Kherson Oblasts, positional battles have not changed significantly.

This map shows how little territory has changed hands in Ukraine over the past month. The fighting has shifted to very slow and grinding advances, reliant on artillery more than maneuver. Russian gains are in purple, Ukrainian gains in yellow. Credit: Twitter.com/nrg8000 ~

This map shows how little territory has changed hands in Ukraine over the past month. The fighting has shifted to very slow and grinding advances, reliant on artillery more than maneuver. Russian gains are in purple, Ukrainian gains in yellow. Credit: Twitter.com/nrg8000

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 06.00 am, June 21, 2022 is in the dropdown menu below.

According to information from the General Staff as of 06.00 21.06.2022, supplemented by its [18:00 assessment].

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The situation in the Volyn and Polissya areas is without significant changes.

In the Siversky direction, the enemy continues to provide enhanced protection of the Ukrainian-Russian border. It fired on civilian infrastructure in the area of ​​the settlement of Seredyna-Buda, Sumy oblast.

In the Kharkiv direction, the enemy’s main efforts are focused on maintaining the occupied borders, trying to prevent our units from retreating to the rear of the Russian group of troops operating in the Sloviansk direction. The enemy fired on civilian infrastructure in the areas of Dmytrivka, Chuhuiv, Korobochkyne, Stara Hnylytsia, and Bazaliivka.

In the Sloviansk direction, near the Bohorodychne and Dolyna, Ukrainian soldiers repulsed the assaults of the occupiers.

The enemy systematically carried out artillery shelling in the areas of the settlements of Hrushuvakha, Virnopillya, Adamivka, and Mazanivka. Inflicted air strikes on civilian infrastructure near Bogorodychne.

The enemy did not take active action in the Kramatorsk direction. It fired at the positions of the defense forces with artillery, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, and mortars along the line of contact.

In the Sievierodonetsk direction, the shelling of units of our troops from the artillery of various calibers continues. It struck air strikes near Ustynivka, Hirske and Lysychansk. It does not stop the assault in order to establish full control over the city of Sievierodonetsk. In addition to this city, our soldiers are successfully resisting the assaults in the areas of Syrotyne and Bila Hora.

In the Bakhmut direction, in the areas of the settlements of Mykolayivka, Vershyna and Semyhirya, the enemy is conducting offensive operations; fighting continues. In addition, the enemy cynically fired on civilian infrastructure near Pokrovskе, Mykolayivka, and Bilohorivka.

It launched an air strike in the Avdiivka area near New York.

It fired on civilian infrastructure in the areas of Ocheretyne, Avdiivka, Kamyanka, Netaylove, Mykilske and Orikhove.

An air strike near Shcherbaky was recorded in the Kurakhiv direction. Defenders of Ukraine have stopped attempts at hostile assault in the Marinka area. The enemy fled ingloriously.

In the Novopavlivsk and Zaporizhzhzia directions, the enemy did not take active action.

In the South Buh direction, the enemy suffers losses. Trying to contain Ukrainian defense forces, it fired artillery, mortars, and multiple rocket launchers at the Murakhivka, Topolyne, Bila Krynytsia, and Maryino districts. The enemy fired airstrikes at civilian infrastructure near Ochakivo and Kutsurub. Conducts air reconnaissance of UAVs.

At the same time strengthens the fortification equipment of the advanced positions by building long-term firing points.

In the waters of the Black and Azov Seas, 5 high-precision weapons carriers are being held in readiness to launch missile strikes on objects on the territory of Ukraine.

According to available information, due to significant losses in the command staff of airborne units, the enemy is forced to recruit reserve officers for military service with short-term contracts for a period of three months.

Military Updates 

Luhansk Oblast. June 20. ~

Luhansk Oblast. June 20.

The Luhansk Oblast: Fighting continues for control of Sievierodonetsk, where Ukrainian troops control only the territory of the Azot plant, according to the head of the Luhansk OVA Serhiy Haidai. At the plant, in addition to the military, there are 568 civilians, including 38 children. The situation is extremely difficult along the entire line of the Luhansk front. The Armed Forces of Ukraine have lost control over Metolkino near Sievierodonetsk. The Luhansk Oblast is being destroyed by heavy artillery.  People are being evacuated. The leadership of the Russian Federation has set the task to reach the borders of the Luhansk Oblast before June 26, said Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar. “Now there are, without exaggeration, decisive battles in the Sievierodonetsk region. They are striving to break through the defenses of our troops and are trying to encircle the grouping of our troops that is carrying out the defense of Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk.”

The Donetsk Oblast: The Russian army is advancing along the Lysychansk-Bakhmut highway, the settlements close to it are under constant shelling. In Lysychansk, the number of victims is not possible to establish. The Ukrainian defenders are not surrounded. They inflict significant losses on the enemy, said the head of the Luhansk OVA Serhiy Haidai. President Zelenskyy secretly visited Lysychansk under shelling, covertly, to support and figure out the situation. A Russian sabotage and reconnaissance group tried to operate in the Bakhmut direction but retreated as a result of the Ukrainian attack. The Russian army attempted an assault but failed. In Sloviansk’s direction, the main efforts of the Russian army are concentrated on holding positions. In the area of ​​the village of Bohorodychne, Ukrainian defenders successfully repulsed the enemy assault.

 

In the Zaporizhzhia Oblast, the Armed Forces of Ukraine are moving from defense to offensive operations, according to the commander of the Azov unit Rodion Kudriashov. “We advance forward positions and press the enemy as far as possible. The front line is leveled and becomes similar to a positional war. In the coming weeks, the commanders plan to break the enemy. Initiative groups will provoke the enemy, identify firing points and suppress them.” At the same time, the Institute for the Study of War reported that the counter-offensive actions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in this direction are forcing the Russians to send reinforcements there.

In the Kherson Oblast, three Russian servicemen were shot from a machine gun in a restaurant, 2 killed, 1 wounded. These are the actions of Ukrainian partisans.
The Armed Forces of Ukraine pushed back the occupiers from the first line of defense in the Kherson Oblast. The Armed Forces of Ukraine delivered accurate strikes on the warehouses located in the rear. In Nova Kakhovka, three times in a row, there was a well-aimed hit on the Russian ammunition depots. Near Sofiivka and Davydiv Brid, Ukrainian fighters carried out counteroffensive actions. The enemy is currently fortifying the second and third lines of defense.

In the Kharkiv Oblast, Russian forces continued to focus on resisting further Ukrainian advances north of Kharkiv City towards the international border. Intense shelling of Kharkiv continues, and the number of casualties among civilians is rising.

In occupied Melitopol, Syrian militants entered the city, said  the mayor of the city Ivan Fedorov.

In the Odesa Oblast, 19 air raids were reported last week, with the sirens sounding for more than 11 hours, with the average duration being 36 minutes. Russia reinforces its Black Sea fleet. Ukraine’s Operational Command “South” said. In the Black Sea, the ship grouping has decreased by 1 missile ship of permanent presence, now there are 2 of them, submarines, as well as 3 airborne troops. The threat of an attack by 28 cruise missiles remains. The official announcement of Operational Command South: the Russians launched a massive missile strike in the south of the country with 14 missiles on Ochakiv, on the mouth of the Danube, on the Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi district of Odesa Oblast, and on Odesa itself. Agricultural areas in the region and in the suburbs of Ochakovo were damaged, and a logistics food warehouse in Odesa was burnt down as a result of a missile strike. The fire on an area of over 300 square meters was promptly eliminated by rescuers. There are no civilian casualties.

“The attack on the towers of Chernomorneftegaz has untied the hands of the Russian Federation, in the near future retaliatory strikes will be inflicted on decision-making centers,” MP Sheremet told Russian media.

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

  • On 17 June 2022, Ukrainian forces claimed their first successful use of Western-donated Harpoon anti-ship missiles to engage Russian maritime forces. The target of the attack was almost certainly the Russian naval tug Spasatel Vasily Bekh, which was delivering weapons and personnel to Zmiinyi (Snake) Island in the north-western Black Sea.
  • The destruction of the Russian vessel on the resupply mission demonstrates the difficulty Russia faces when attempting to support their forces occupying Zmiinyi (Snake) Island. That is the latest in a series of Russian vessels, including the cruiser Moskva, to be damaged or destroyed by Ukraine during the conflict.
  • Ukrainian coastal defense capability has largely neutralized Russia’s ability to establish sea control and project maritime force in the north-western Black Sea. This has undermined the viability of Russia’s original operational design for the invasion, which involved holding the Odesa region at risk from the sea.

Losses of the Russian army 

As of Monday 21 June, the approximate losses of weapons and military equipment of the Russian Armed Forces from the beginning of the war to the present day

Humanitarian 

Ukrainian men held captive for 109 days were subjected to physical and psychological torture. They were forced to greet prison guards with pioneer salutes, read and translate Soviet books about pioneer heroes and Stalin’s biography, study and sing the Russian national anthem and a whole set of Russian songs: “We are Russian, God is with us!”, “Uncle Vova, we are with you.”

EU Special Representative for Human Rights visited Irpin, Bucha. “I saw the mass graves of victims of Russia’s war of aggression, talked with the local priest who knew them, and stood in a bombed-out shopping center. War crimes, and those who commit them must be called to account.”

Environmental

The Russian military took control of the Zaporizhzhia Iron Ore Plant. At present, this poses a serious threat to the region, as severe pollution can occur. Without pumping, surface waters and horizons will be contaminated with iron ore. As a result, groundwater pollution is also possible, from which the region’s residents receive water.

Hungary offers a new route for grain exports from Ukraine through its territory due to the disruption of normal routes through the Black Sea due to the Russian invasion, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Siyarto said on Monday.

Legal 

Ukrainian Parliament supported the ratification of the Istanbul Convention, which was one of the conditions for obtaining EU candidate status. The Istanbul Convention is an international agreement of the Council of Europe. It has been signed by 45 countries and the European Union. Ukraine joined in 201. The attempt made in 2016 failed due to the mention in the document of the concepts of “gender” and “sexual orientation”.

NYT: Russia used in Ukraine over 210 types of ammunition banned under international treaties. A New York Times investigation examined over 1,000 photos and identified more than 2,000 munitions used by the Russian army in Ukraine, an absolute majority of which were unguided. More than 330 weapons analyzed by NYT appeared to have been used on or near civilian structures.

Support 

The EU has extended sanctions against Russia for annexing Crimea for a year – until June 23, 2023. They ban the import of goods from Crimea, the export of certain goods and technologies, as well as investments in infrastructure and the financial industry.

Boris Johnson on how the world should help Ukraine win the war: 

1. Ukraine should be provided with all necessary armaments, ammunition, equipment, and training. Britain plans to train about 10,000 Ukrainian servicemen every 4 months.

2. It is necessary to help Ukraine maintain the stability of its state institutions with financial assistance.

3. It is necessary to provide routes for the export of Ukrainian food by land to maintain revenues in the Ukrainian economy.

Britain, together with its allies, must unblock Ukraine’s seaports and help immediately export 25 million tons of wheat and corn to the world’s least developed countries. To do this, it is necessary to provide appropriate weapons to Ukraine and support diplomatic efforts, in particular, through the UN to create a safe corridor from Odesa.

Australia sends 4 M113 armored personnel carriers to Ukraine. According to Australian news outlet 9News, 4 out of 14 promised armored personnel carriers were sent to Ukraine this week as part of a military aid package worth $285 million.

After Russia restricted the shipment of Kazakh oil, Kazakhstan in response reportedly blocked 1,700 cars with Russian coal on its territory.

New developments 

All EU countries support the status of a candidate for EU membership for Ukraine. Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine for Integration with the European Union and NATO Olga Stefanishina said during the telethon that “EU countries have expressed support for granting Ukraine candidate status, without waiting for a meeting on June 24.”

The Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orbán supports the recommendation of the European Commission to grant Ukraine the status of a candidate for EU membership, said the press secretary of the Hungarian Prime Minister Bertalan Havashi.

Lithuania has banned railway transit through its territory of sanctioned goods to the Kaliningrad region of the Russian Federation. In Russia, the Foreign Ministry summoned the Chargé d’Affaires of Lithuania and told her that “either you return everything as it was, or Russia reserves the right to take action to protect its national interests.” The Federation Council added that Russia would have its hands free and in general “this is a direct NATO aggression against Russia.” Also in the Russian Federation, it has already been announced that the training with the participation of heavy weapons will be held in the Kaliningrad region.

The new head of the British Armed Forces called for preparing the country for war in Europe and creating an army capable of defeating Russia. According to Sanders, the Russian invasion of Ukraine emphasizes the main goal of the British army – “to protect Britain, ready to fight and win wars on land.”

NATO must be prepared to use nuclear weapons in the event of similar actions by Russia, said German Air Force Commander-in-Chief. “If necessary, we NATO countries must be ready to use nuclear weapons if Russia is the first to do so,” he said.

Assessment 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of Sunday 20 June, 2022:

Ukrainian officials are emphasizing that the coming week will be decisive for Russian efforts to take control of Sievierodonetsk.[1] Deputy Ukrainian Defense Minister Hanna Malyar reported that Russian leadership has set June 26 as the deadline for Russian forces to reach the Luhansk Oblast administrative border, which will likely result in intensified efforts to take full control of Sievierodonetsk and move westward towards the Oblast border.[2] Head of the Luhansk Regional State Administration Serhiy Haidai reported that Russian forces control all of Sievierodonetsk except for the industrial zone as of June 20, which is the first explicit Ukrainian confirmation that Russian forces control all of Sievierodonetsk with the exception of the Azot plant.[3] Russian forces will likely continue efforts to clear the Azot plant and complete encirclement operations south of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk by driving up the T1302 Bakhmut-Lysychansk highway.

Russian authorities likely seek to leverage the consequences of Russia’s blockade on Ukrainian grain exports in order to cajole the West into weakening its sanctions. Head of state-owned propaganda outlet RT Margarita Simonyan stated on June 20 that the famine caused by Russia’s blockade on grain exports will force the rest of the world to lift sanctions in order to curb further effects of global famine.[4] Simonyan’s statement is especially salient considering a report by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office that Ukraine had generated 12% of global wheat and barley exports and that Russia’s blockade has trapped over 20 million tons of grain in storage.[5]

The UK Ministry of Defense claimed on June 20 that consistent failures of the Russian air force have significantly contributed to Russia’s limited success in Ukraine.[6] The UK MoD emphasized that the Russian air force has continually underperformed and been largely risk-averse, failing to establish air superiority or give Russian forces a decisive advantage in Ukraine. The report additionally claimed that training procedures for air force personnel are scripted and designed to impress senior officials but do not adequately prepare personnel for the challenges of active air combat.

Key Takeaways

  • Ukrainian sources stated that the coming week will be decisive for Russian forces to complete the capture of Sievierodonetsk and that Russian forces will focus troops and equipment on the area.
  • Ukrainian sources confirmed that Russian forces control all of Sievierodonetsk with the exception of the Azot industrial zone, where fights are ongoing.
  • Russian sources are likely setting information conditions to justify slow and unsuccessful advances towards Sloviansk from the southeast of Izium and west of Lyman.
  • Russian forces are likely intensifying operations to interdict Ukrainian lines of communication along the T1302 Bakhmut-Lysychansk highway in order to support escalating operations in Sievierodonetsk-Lysychansk.
  • Russian forces continued to focus on resisting further Ukrainian advances north of Kharkiv City towards the international border.
  • Russian forces are continuing defensive operations along the Southern Axis.
  • Ukrainian partisan activity is continuing to complicate efforts by Russian occupation authorities to consolidate control of occupied areas.

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