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Russo-Ukrainian War, Day 120: Kharkiv, Odesa, Mykolayiv under massive fire. Battle for Donbas.

Article by: Zarina Zabrisky

The Russian invaders carry out massive shelling and bombing of Kharkiv, Odesa, Mykolayiv, and other cities on the 81st anniversary of Hitler’s invasion of the USSR. All oil refining in Ukraine is destroyed. In Donbas, the battle for Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk goes on. The Ukrainian army is on the outskirts of Kherson and in the Kherson Oblast, a “hunt” on collaborators continues. Belarusian troops are digging trenches on the border with Ukraine, Poland, and Lithuania. Ursula Von der Leyen: “Ukraine deserved the status of an EU candidate.” Olaf Scholz called for the creation of a Marshall Plan for Ukraine, promised more weapons, and assured the support of the Ukrainian people.

Daily overview–summary report, June 23

According to military expert Roman Ponomarenko, the Russian invaders carried out massive shelling and bombing of Kharkiv, Odesa, Mykolayiv, and other cities. Civilian casualties were reported. In Novoshakhtynsk, Rostovs Oblast, in Russia, an unidentified kamikaze drone struck a refinery owned by Medvedchuk. A fire broke out, but the total amount of damage is unknown.

The head of Naftogaz Yurii Vitrenko said that “all oil refining in Ukraine do not work due to massive attacks by the aggressor. Consequently, it is difficult to provide logistics for petroleum products on the Ukrainian market and this leads to a deficit.”

The Kharkiv Oblast: based on the available data, the front stopped on a conditional line from Tsupovka to Staryi Saltiv. Artillery shelling on both sides and local fighting was reported in many areas. The enemy is actively bombing Kharkiv.

Credit: Deepstatemap

Izium — Sloviansk: despite the concentration of significant forces in this direction, the Russian command is not yet launching a massive offensive on Sloviansk and Barvinkovo. Near Kupiansk, the Russians built a crossing over the Oskil, near the destroyed railway bridge. Now they have the opportunity to relocate personnel and equipment across the river, reinforcing their troops near Izium.

The Luhansk Oblast is in an extremely difficult situation. The Armed Forces of Ukraine continue to hold part of Sievierodonetsk and positions near the villages of Syrotyne, Borivske, and Voronovo, south of the city. The Russians are trying to cut off and surround the last two villages. The fighting continues.

To the south of Lysychansk, the enemy broke through the front, captured Toshkivka and Ustynivka, and is now advancing to Bila Hora, near Lysychansk. If the Russians break into Lysychansk from the south, our Sievierodonetsk group will be in an operational environment, with no chance of a breakthrough.

Another difficult situation is in the Hirske-Zolote area. The Russians struck at Rai-Oleksandrivka from two directions, from Vrubivka and Myrna Dolyna, and seized it. The group of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Hirske — Zolote, which the Russian military estimated at 1500–2000 soldiers, was surrounded. According to some reports, Ukrainian troops managed to leave the encirclement and even withdrew heavy weapons. Some units had to remain in a difficult situation. For the Russian command, destroying the Ukrainian Army located in the Hirske-Zolote area is a key task, because in this way Russians protect the rear of the troops advancing on Bakhmut — Soledar from a possible strike. To achieve this, they even slightly reduced their assault on the Bakhmut, Soledar, and Lysychansk route.

The Donetsk Oblast: the Armed Forces of Ukraine struck a counterattack in the area of ​​Vuhledar, hitting the villages of Pavlivka and Yehorivka. The Russian invaders were significantly pushed, inflicting losses, but then began to counterattack. The fighting continues. Also active battles in the area of ​​Svitlodarsk.

The Zaporizhzhia Oblast: there are indirect data on the offensive actions of the Ukrainian army, but no details are available.

The Kherson Oblast: “collaborators hunt” continues. In Chornobayivka, an assassination attempt on the head of the local administration, Yuri Turuliov, who is hospitalized with an injury. In the Iron Port, the attempt on the former people’s deputy Oleksiy Kovaliov.

The Ukrainian army is on the outskirts of Kherson, in some areas up to 10 km. from the city. It will be very difficult to overcome this distance, due to the need to storm Russia’s powerful defense. Despite the Russian attacks, the Ukrainian Army maintains the bridgehead between Andriyivka and Davydiv Brid. Fighting also continues for Snihurivka, in the area of ​​Kyselivka and Shyroka Balka.

Credit: Deepstatemap

In the Kryvyi Rih direction, the battles for Khreshchenivka and Zolota Balka continue.

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 06.00 am, June 23, 2022 is in the dropdown menu below.

According to information from the General Staff as of 06.00 23.06.2022, supplemented by its [18:00 assessment].


In the Volyn and Polissya directions, in the period from June 22 to July 1, 2022 in the Gomel region, near the state border with Ukraine, mobilization training of the armed forces of the republic of belarus will continue. During it, it is planned to work out the issue of conscription of conscripts.

As part of combat training activities, exercises are also conducted with units of the Special Operations Forces of belarus with the involvement of instructors of the Armed Forces of the russian federation. The main attention is paid to sabotage and reconnaissance activities.

In the Siversky direction, enemy units continue to be located in the border areas of Bryansk and Kursk regions. The enemy maintains up to three battalion tactical groups from the 1st Tank Army of the Western Military District and airborne units. Improves defensive positions in the area of ​​the settlement of Tiotkino, Kursk region. The aggressor continues to fire on units of the Defense Forces in the border areas in Sumy oblast.

In the Kharkiv direction, the enemy’s main efforts are focused on preventing the Defense Forces from entering the rear of a group of occupying forces operating in the Sloviansk direction. The enemy conducted air reconnaissance in the areas of Bayrak and Rubizhne.

In the Sloviansk direction, the aggressor’s group focuses on improving the tactical situation and identifying weaknesses in the defense of our troops. The enemy is trying to create conditions for the resumption of the offensive in the directions of Izium — Barvinkove and Izium — Sloviansk. In order to strengthen the grouping of troops in the area of ​​the city of Izium, the enemy moved up to two tank units. The occupiers plan to use heavy flamethrower systems in the Sloviansk direction.

In the Donetsk direction, the enemy is concentrating its main efforts on establishing full control over the city of Sievierodonetsk, conducting offensive operations to surround our troops near the city of Lysychansk, and blocking the main logistics routes.

In the Sievierodonetsk direction, the enemy captured the settlements of Loskutivka and Ray-Oleksandrivka. Conducts assault operations in order to establish control over the settlement of Syrotyne. Carries out preparatory measures for the forcing of the Siversky Donets River.

In the Bakhmut direction, the occupiers are conducting offensive operations in the directions of the settlements of Zolote and Vovchoyarivka. They are trying to seize the dominant heights in the area of ​​Berestove in order to establish control over the Bakhmut-Lysychansk highway. To strengthen the group in this direction, in the area of ​​the settlement of Novotoshkivske, the enemy transferred to one battalion tactical group from the Central Military District.

In the Kramatorsk, Avdiivka, Kurakhivka, Novopavlivka and Zaporizhzhia directions, the enemy did not take active action. Carries out shelling in order to restrain the actions of units of the Defense Forces and prevent their transfer to other directions.

In the South Buh direction, the occupiers are concentrating their main efforts on preventing our troops from conducting counter-offensive operations in the Kherson and Mykolayiv oblasts. It carries out engineering equipment positions.

In the Mykolayiv direction, the enemy developed artillery divisions in certain areas. In the future, attempts to carry out assault operations in the directions of Kiselivka — Posad-Pokrovske and Oleksandrivka — Lupareve in order to reach the administrative borders of the Kherson region are not excluded.

In the Kryvyi Rih direction, the aggressor is carrying out engineering improvement of positions.

Ships of the Black Sea Fleet in the waters of the Black and Azov Seas continue to perform tasks of isolating the area of ​​hostilities and reconnaissance. The aggressor continues to block civilian shipping in the northwestern part of the Black Sea.

Five missile cruise missile launchers (up to 40 missiles in total) are ready for use in the Black Sea.

Our units continue to perform missile and artillery fire missions in certain areas. Ukrainian defenders inflict losses on the russian occupiers in all areas where active hostilities continue.


Military Updates 

In the Luhansk Oblast, the Russian invaders seized two settlements and are trying to seize the dominant heights in the Berestove area in order to establish control over the Bakhmut-Lysychansk highway. The enemy took Loskutivka and Rai-Oleksandrovka, which are located near Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk, reports the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

The Russians are approaching Lysychansk. The city is being shelled by artillery, tanks, and aviation. At least 3 civilians were injured, and several police officers were injured. Rocket strikes hit the buildings of the police, the prosecutor’s office, and the SBU.

Sievierodonetsk remains the hottest spot. ️7,000–8,000 civilians remain in the city, said the mayor of the city. Before the start of the war, it was a city with more than 110 thousand people. The invaders deported the rest of the city’s population to the previously occupied part of the Luhansk region. For civilians on Azot, the military delivers water, food, and medicine

In the Donetsk Oblast, the Armed Forces of Ukraine stopped the offensive of the Russian occupiers in the direction of Molodezhne and Ekaterynivka and repulsed the assault of the Russian invaders in the direction of Mironovka — Semihorye, according to the speaker of the Ministry of Defense.

Russia hit the beach in the Donetsk region, using cluster shells. 1 person was killed, and 11 were injured, including 6 children, said Pavel Kirilenko, chairman of the Donetsk OVA.

In the Sumy Oblast, over 80 air strikes were recorded over the past day. The invaders continued to shell the Sumy Oblast from various types of weapons. 1 civilian was killed. Also, two policemen exploded on a Russian mine while on patrol: they survived but were injured.

In the Kharkiv Oblast, the Russian army is conducting military operations to contain the units of the Defense Forces and prevent them from reaching the state border. He carried out artillery shelling of Kharkiv and the settlements of the region, said General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

In the Kharkiv Oblast, the Russian invaders shelled Chuhuiv. There are dead and wounded, said the adviser to the head of the Kharkiv Regional Council Natalia Popova. As a result of the morning shelling of the occupiers, an apartment building in Zolochiv was destroyed. Three dead people were pulled out from under the rubble: two men and one woman, said the head of the Zolochiv community, Viktor Kovalenko. ️Five women from the village of Prishib near Balaklia died as a result of a Russian mortar attack, according to the head of the Izium regional administration Stepan Maselsky.

In the Zaporizhzhia Oblast, invaders continue to abduct residents of Enerhodar and the nuclear plant employees. “People are kidnapped en masse, the location of some of them is unknown. The rest are in very difficult conditions: they are tortured with electric shock and mocked both physically and mentally,” said the mayor of the city of Energodar Dmitry Orlov on his TG channel.

In the Kherson Oblast, two explosions were reported in Skadovsk, according to the mayor of Skadovsk Alexei Yakovlev. ️Also, the head of the GUR Kirill Budanov confirmed an assassination on a Russian collaborator Alexei Kovalev, who is injured.

In the Mykolaiv Oblast, the city was hit by 7 missiles. As a result of the shelling, several high-rise buildings, private houses, a school, and two enterprises with fuel and lubricants were damaged. Fire on a total area of ​​260 sq. m. was put out by the rescuers of the State Emergency Service. The port industry object was damaged. Another fire broke out on the territory of a private enterprise where sunflower oil was stored. 4 wounded were reported. Russian military strikes also reportedly hit Ukrainian grain terminals, owned by Canadian agribusiness Viterra and US grain trader Bunge Ltd., and at least one person was injured in the attacks, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Sunflower storage facility burns in Mykolaiv. Photo by Zarina Zabrisky.

In the Odesa Oblast, Russia launched four missile strikes. No casualties. An infrastructure facility, a large industrial enterprise, was damaged. What exactly — the authorities do not specify. The Russian Federation shelled Odesa with anti-ship Onyx anti-ship supersonic missiles on June 14, 18, 19, and 20. Ukrainian air defense shot down eight missiles over the region, but on the afternoon of June 20, nine missiles could not be destroyed and hit a logistics food warehouse in Odesa. Odesa is the only region shelled by Onyxes. The remaining regions were mainly attacked with Kh-101 and Kh-55 missiles from strategic bombers. Massive shelling of the regions begins when the Russian army has problems and losses on the front line.

In the Kyiv Oblast, an effective air defense system has been created around Kyiv, according to Lieutenant General, Commander of the Group of Forces, and Means of Defense of the City of Kyiv Oleksandr Pavlyuk. Despite the layered air defense system, the threat of missile attacks on the capital remains, Pavlyuk said.

Belarus equips fortifications along the borders with Ukraine and EU countries. The Belarusian military is digging trenches near the borders with Ukraine, Poland, and Lithuania.

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

  • Since 19 June, Russian forces have highly likely advanced over 5km towards the southern approaches of the Donbas city of Lysychansk. Some Ukrainian units have withdrawn, probably to avoid being encircled. Russia’s improved performance in this sector is likely a result of recent unit reinforcement and heavy concentration of fire.
  • Russian forces are putting the Lysychansk-Sievierodonetsk pocket under increasing pressure with this creeping advance around the fringes of the built-up area. However, its efforts to achieve a deeper encirclement to take western Donetsk Oblast remain stalled.

Losses of the Russian army 

As of Monday 23 June, the approximate losses of weapons and military equipment of the Russian Armed Forces from the beginning of the war to the present day:

  • 34430 killed soldiers (+200)
  • 1504 tanks (+8)
  • 3632 APV (+18)
  • 756 artillery systems (+4)
  • 216 aircraft and 183 helicopters (+1)
  • 14 boats and cutters


More than 8 million people left Ukraine since the beginning of the war. According to the latest data from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, most Ukrainians left for Poland (more than 4 million). More than 1.3 million people arrived in Russia from Ukraine. Ukrainians also travel to Romania, Moldova, Slovakia, Hungary, and other European countries.

At least 22,000 people have died in Mariupol since the beginning of the war, according to the mayor of the city Vadim Boychenko during a briefing.

Türkiye announced some progress in unblocking the export of Ukrainian grain: a meeting between Türkiye, Russia, Ukraine, and the UN will be held to discuss the withdrawal of ships with grain from Ukrainian ports in the coming weeks. The departure of the Turkish cargo ship Azov Concord from the port of Mariupol is reported.

Lithuania has expanded restrictions on the transit of sanctioned goods through its territory to the Kaliningrad region of the Russian Federation. The ban applies not only to the railway but also to motorways. Lithuanian customs officers are turning trucks with prohibited goods. Queues forming at checkpoints are reported.

The Russian invaders force Ukrainian doctors to issue fictitious certificates. In the temporarily occupied city of Tokmak, Zaporizhzhia region, the occupiers threaten local doctors to provide certificates of inability to continue military service for health reasons.

In Kherson Oblast, the Russian invaders burn the bodies of killed their personnel. They take the bodies of their dead soldiers to the Chaplynka airfield, load corpses into a pit filled with car tires, and burn them. Local residents complain about the putrid smell.


“Russia’s invasion has left about 18 million metric tons of grain stranded in Ukraine, heightening fears of a global food crisis after months in which the war has already driven up the cost of food worldwide,” writes the WSJ.

Serious accusations have been brought against the Russian Federation, including committing genocide and war crimes, said an adviser to the head of the UN on the prevention of genocide, in a speech to the UN Security Council.


The first 12 German self-propelled Panzerhaubitze2000 artillery mounts with trained Ukrainian crews, announced The Armed Forces Command. This is the 6th type of 155 mm artillery received by the Armed Forces of Ukraine from the allies — M777, FH70, M109, AHS Krab, and Caesar are already available at the front. In total, Ukraine should receive 7 Panzerhaubitze from Germany and another 5 from the Netherlands. Training takes about 40 days.

Ukrainian military will begin their training to work with the Mars-II MLRS in Germany next week, said German Defense Minister. During her speech in the Bundestag, she announced that Germany would supply Ukraine with three systems of this type. The same number of combat units will come from the United Kingdom and 4 from the United States, according to RND.

Boris Johnson stated that Ukraine should not “give up its territories in exchange for peace,” and the territory should be restored “at least to the borders on February 24.”

️Ukraine’s military spending reaches $5–6 billion monthly. According to the head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Samantha Power, this is a “staggering” cost, and even the $ 7.5 billion that the US administration is preparing to allocate in aid to Ukraine will not be enough to cover the costs caused by the war.

New developments 

In Russia, in the Rostov region, the Novoshakhtinsky oil refinery belonging to Putin’s close ally Viktor Medvedchuk is on fire. In 2014 the wives of Medvedchuk and Kozak received shares in the plant. Last year, Medvedchuk’s family sold a stake in the refinery.

️A Russian border helicopter entered Estonian airspace and stayed there for almost two minutes. The Russian Ambassador was handed a note.

Russian troops are conducting exercises near the borders of Estonia, simulating missile attacks on a NATO country before the NATO summit next week. “It has never been as serious as it is now. This is real life. They actually simulate missile strikes on NATO territory and let us know that they are notifying us of this,” said the representative of the Estonian Foreign Ministry

Global confidence in Vladimir Putin has plummeted to 20-year lows, according to new international polling data from the Pew Research Center.


Credit: ISW.

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of Sunday 23 June, 2022:

Reinforced Russian air-defense systems in eastern Ukraine are increasingly limiting the effectiveness of Ukrainian drones, undermining a key Ukrainian capability in the war. Foreign Policy’s Jack Detsch quoted several anonymous Ukrainian officials and military personnel that Ukrainian forces have largely halted the use of Turkish Bayraktar drones, which were used to great effect earlier in the war, due to improvements in Russian air-defense capabilities.[1] Ukrainian officials are reportedly increasingly concerned that US-provided Gray Eagle strike drones will also be shot down by reinforced Russian air defense over the Donbas.[2] Ukrainian forces have reportedly scaled back air operations to 20 to 30 sorties per day and are facing a deficit of available aircraft for active pilots. Russian forces are likely prioritizing deploying air defenses to eastern Ukraine to nullify Ukrainian operations and to protect the artillery systems Russian forces are reliant on to make advances. However, the Ukrainian air force and armed drones remain active elsewhere, inflicting several successful strikes on targets in Kherson Oblast in the last week.

Members of the Russian military community continue to comment on the shortcomings of Russian force generation capabilities, which are having tangible impacts on the morale and discipline of Russians fighting in Ukraine. Russian milblogger Yuri Kotyenok claimed that Russian troops lack the numbers and strength for success in combat in Ukraine.[3] Kotyenok accused Russian leadership of deploying new and under-trained recruits and called for replenishment of forces with well-trained recruits with ground infantry experience — though the Russian military is unlikely to be able to quickly generate such a force, as ISW has previously assessed. Despite growing calls for increased recruitment from nationalist figures, Russian leadership continues to carry out coercive partial mobilization efforts that are only producing limited numbers of replacements while negatively impacting the morale and discipline of forcibly mobilized personnel. Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) claimed that Russian authorities in Luhansk are arranging gas leaks in apartment buildings to force men who are hiding from mobilization into the streets.[4] The Ukrainian Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) additionally reported that Russian soldiers in occupied Tokmak, Zaporizhzhia Oblast, are appealing to local Ukrainian doctors to issue them certificates alleging medical inability to continue military service.[5]

Ukrainian forces conducted a drone strike (likely with a loitering munition, though this cannot be confirmed) on a Russian oil refinery in Novoshakhtinsk, Rostov Oblast, on June 22.[6] Russian Telegram channel Voenyi Osvedomitel claimed that the strike, which targeted Russian infrastructure within 15 km of the Ukrainian border, originated from Donetsk Oblast.[7] Ukrainian forces have not targeted Russian infrastructure for several weeks, and this strike is likely an attempt to disrupt Russian logistics and fuel supply to Russian operations in eastern Ukraine.

Key Takeaways

  • Russian forces continued to make gains to the south of Lysychansk and will likely reach the city in the coming days, although they are unlikely to quickly capture the Sievierodonetsk-Lysychansk area.
  • Russian forces continued offensive operations towards Sloviansk and made minor advances.
  • Russian forces intensified efforts to interdict Ukrainian lines of communication along the T1302 Bakhmut-Lysychansk highway in order to support Russian operations towards Lysychansk.
  • Russian forces focused on defensive operations along the Southern Axis and may have made marginal gains within Mykolaiv Oblast.
  • Russian authorities are continuing measures to facilitate the economic integration of occupied areas.

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