Russo Ukrainian War, Day 123: Russia continues massive missile strikes on Ukraine. Lavrov compares the EU and NATO to Hitler’s Germany.”

 

Daily review

Article by: Hans Petter Midttun

Russian invaders continue to launch missile strikes on military and critical civilian infrastructure in Ukraine. After months of fighting, Russian invaders enter Sievierodonetsk. The Ukrainian army retreats in a coordinated manner. Ukrainian soldiers stop the Russian invaders’ offensive in Sloviansk’s direction, inflicting losses. Putin threatens to hand over nuclear weapons to Belarus. Lavrov compares the EU and NATO with Hitler’s Germany. Germany will provide Ukraine with a one billion Euro grant for social and humanitarian needs. Poland asks for an increase in NATO’s presence on its territory due to the Russian threat. The US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan formed a “partnership” to contain China and Russia in the Indo-Pacific region.

Daily overview — Summary report, June 25 

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 06.00 am, June 26, 2022 is in the dropdown menu below. 

Show the Content

According to information from the General Staff as of 06.00 26.06.2022, supplemented by its [18:00 assessment].

“Russian occupiers continue to launch missile strikes on military and critical civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.

In the Volyn and Polissya directions, the situation regarding the activities of the armed forces of the Republic of Belarus has not changed. [Units of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus, on a rotating basis, perform tasks to cover the Belarusian-Ukrainian border in the Brest and Gomel regions. The threat of missiles and airstrikes from the territory of this country remains.]

The situation in Donbas. June 26 2022. Credit: DeepState.Map. ~

The situation in Donbas. June 26 2022. Credit: DeepState.Map.

In the Siversky direction, the aggressor fired artillery at the positions of the Defense Forces in the border areas of Sumy and Chernihiv oblasts. [The occupiers continue to improve defensive positions in the border areas of the Russian federation. Yesterday, Russian forces fired artillery at the positions of our troops in the areas of the settlements of Hrynivka and Yanzhulivka in the Chernihiv oblast.]

[In the Slobozhansky direction, Russian forces are taking measures to provide its units with ammunition. Takes measures to replenish losses.]

  • In the Kharkiv direction, Russian forces continue to conduct defensive operations. It carried out artillery shelling in the areas of the settlements of Udy, Kharkiv, Bazaliyivka, Ruski Tyshky, Stary Saltiv, Verkhniy Saltiv, Kutuzivka, Rubizhne, Dementiyivka, Chepil, Svitlychne, Korobochkine, Ivanivka, Shestakove and Pechenihy.
  • In the Sloviansk direction, Russian forces concentrated their main efforts on conducting an offensive in the directions of the settlements of Dovhenke and Mazanivka. It fired from artillery and rocket-propelled grenade launchers in the areas of Nova Dmytrivka, Khrestyshche, Dibrivne, Bohorodychne, Novopavlivka, Adamivka, Hrushuvakha, Vernopillya, Krasnopillya, Mazanivka, Vesele and Kurulka. [Yesterday, Ukrainian soldiers stopped an enemy attack in the area of ​​Bohorodychne and an assault in the direction of Mazanivka. The occupiers withdrew with losses.]

In the Donetsk direction, Russian forces are focused on the Lysychansk direction and attempt to encircle units of the Defense Forces in the Lysychansk area. It carried out shelling near Vovchoyarivka, Loskutivka, Bila Hora, Verkhnokamyanka, Vyimka, Verkhnokamyansky and Zolotarivka. Inflicted an air strike by a pair of Su-25s near the village of Bila Hora.

  • [After the withdrawal of our troops, Russian forces are consolidated in the areas of the settlements of Sievierodonetsk, Syrotyne, Voronove and Borivske.]
  • Russian forces did not take active action in the Kramatorsk direction. It carried out fire damage from artillery in the areas of Mayaki, Pyskunivka, and Siversk. [Yesterday, Russian forces carried out shelling in the areas of the settlements of Mayaki, Pyskunivka and Siversk. To identify the positions of our troops and adjust the fire, it conducted aerial reconnaissance of the Orlan-10 UAV.]
  • [In the Lysychansk direction, Russian forces yesterday fired on the areas of the settlements of Vovchoyarivka, Loskutivka, Bila Hora, Verkhnokamyanka, Verkhnyokamyanske, Vyimka and Zolotarivka.]
  • [In the Bakhmut direction, enemy mortar, artillery and MLRS shelling were yesterday recorded used near the settlements of Kostiantynivka, Pokrovske, Mykolaivka, Vershyna, Berestove, Zaitseve, Klynove, New York, Volodymyrivka and Ivano-Daryivka.]
  • [Yesterday, our defenders successfully repulsed all offensive and assault actions of Russian forces in the directions of the settlements of Pokrovske, New York and Marinka. The occupiers withdrew.]
  • [To restrain the actions of our troops, Russian forces yesterday carried out demonstrative actions in the direction of the settlement of Vershina. Russian forces also struck Ka-52 and Mi-24 helicopters near Pavlivka.]
  • In the Avdiivka, Kurakhiv, Novopavliv and Zaporizhzhia directions, it is conducting hostilities and carrying out systematic fire action to restrain our troops and prevent them from being transferred to threatening directions.
  • It carried out shelling from tanks and artillery in the areas of the settlements of Keramik, Krasnohorivka, Sievierne, Vodiane, Opytne, Umanske, Tonenke, Karlivka, Novomykhailivka, Maryinka, Paraskoviivka, Pavlivka, Shevchenko, Prechystivka, Zolota Nyva, Novosilka , Volodymyrivka, Huliaipilske, Bilogirya, Novopil, Chervone, Zelene Pole, Huliaipole and Malynivka.

In the Pivdennyy Buh direction, Russian forces are concentrating their main efforts on maintaining the occupied frontiers and exerting fire on our units to prevent the regrouping of troops. Our aircraft, in the relevant areas, struck at enemy clusters. The losses of the occupiers are being clarified.

In the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, the Black Sea Fleet are focused on blocking civilian shipping in the northwestern part of the Black Sea. [It is operating two high-precision weapons carriers in readiness to launch missile strikes on objects on the territory of Ukraine. The total volley is up to sixteen Kalibr cruise missiles.]

[The personnel of Russian forces is demoralized, and the promised “huge” payments for participation in hostilities by the command of the Russian occupation forces under various pretexts are not carried out. The occupiers continue to suffer heavy losses in battles with the Ukrainian Defense Forces.]”

Military Updates 

Several explosions were heard in Kyiv, Ukrinform reports citing Suspilne. Several explosions rocked Ukraine’s capital Kyiv early on Sunday, June 26. “According to the Ukrainian Air Force Command, on June 25, Russian forces used sea-based Kalibr missiles against targets in western Ukraine, Kh-22 and ground-based Iskander and Tochka-U missiles against targets in northern Ukraine, and Oniks missiles and Bastion complexes against targets in southern Ukraine.”

Donbas. June 26 2022. Credit: Ukraine War Map. ~

Donbas. June 26 2022. Credit: Ukraine War Map.

Sievierodonetsk under Russian occupation, civilians leave bomb shelters at Azot plant, Ukrinform reported Saturday evening. “Russian invaders have fully seized the city of Sievierodonetsk, Luhansk Region, and appointed a ‘commandant’. Now they are filming propagandist videos with civilians, who are leaving bomb shelters at the Azot plant. The relevant statement was made by Sievierodonetsk City Military Civil Administration Head Oleksandr Striuk during a nationwide telethon, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.”

Pentagon comments on the retreat of Ukraine’s Armed Forces from Sievierodonetsk, Ukrinform reports. “I just want to put into context what we’re seeing in Sievierodonetsk in terms of the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ managed retreat from that location,” a senior Pentagon official said at a briefing on June 24. He suggested looking at the sweep of the past four months: Russia had to completely recalibrate its plans, because its initial plans were overly ambitious and mismanaged, going from their multi-axis attempt that was defeated by the Ukrainians to a focus on Eastern Ukraine.

And really, the Russians are just eking out inch by inch of territory here, the official said. He noted it’s important to reflect on the cost that Russia has paid for this very small, very incremental gain. So in terms of the situation in Sievierodonetsk, the way that I view it is the Ukrainian Armed Forces are performing a professional, tactical retrograde to consolidate their forces in positions where they can better defend themselves. And I see this as occurring on the heels of their ability to continue to pin down Russian forces over a very long period of time in a very small geographic area, the representative of the Pentagon said.

Intelligence: Latest missile strikes were a “large-scale provocation” by Russia to draw Belarus into war, Ukrinform reports, citing Defence Intelligence of Ukraine (DIU). On the night of June 25, a massive missile and bomb attack was carried out against Kyiv, Chernihiv, and Sumy regions. Six Russian Tu-22M3 bombers launched 12 X-22 cruise missiles from Belarusian airspace. The launch line was the area of ​​the town of Petrykov, not far from Mozyr, approximately 50-60 kilometres from the state border of Ukraine, DIU reports.

The agency notes that this is the first case of an air strike on Ukraine directly launched from Belarusian territory. “Today’s shelling is directly related to the Kremlin’s efforts to involve Belarus as a party to the war against Ukraine,” the intelligence service said. In the early hours of Saturday, Russian invaders fired missiles at Zhytomyr, Lviv, and Chernihiv regions.”

Kremlin planning terrorist attack on Mozyr to draw Belarus into war with Ukraine – Ukrainian intelligence, Ukrayinska Pravda reports, citing Chief Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine. “According to the information we obtained, the Russian Federation will attempt to draw Belarus into the armed conflict with Ukraine by conducting a series of provocations targeting [Belarusian – ed.] infrastructure and the civilian population.

Sabotage groups disguised as civilians have arrived in the city of Mozyr in order to carry out these provocations. We know that one of these groups is planning to carry out a series of terrorist attacks on the territory of Belarus… Russia’s military intelligence agency (GRU) is planning to conduct a series of artillery and missile strikes on the Mozyr Oil Refinery, as well as civilian infrastructure and residential buildings. The attacks will be accompanied by explosions in residential buildings, hospitals and schools.”

Explosions were reported at Russian storage depots in occupied Svatove, Ukrayinska Pravda reports. People living in temporarily occupied Svatove in Luhansk Oblast have heard explosions at military storage depots, says Serhii Haidai, the head of the Luhansk Oblast Military Administration.

HIMARS in action: enemy command posts destroyed in Donbas, Ukrinform reports, citing Guildhall. “On June 24, the Ukrainians destroyed a command post of the 20th Army of the Russian Armed Forces’ Western Military District (unit 89425, originally based in Voronezh), located in a school building. As a result of the strike, a significant number of Russian officers with the army headquarters were hit, while much of Russian forces equipment parked at the site was damaged. Also overnight Friday, the advanced command post of the Russian army’s airborne assault troops was hit by another strike. A significant amount of equipment and weapons was destroyed in the attack, which also brought multiple casualties to enemy forces. One of the commanders of the 106th airborne assault division, Colonel A.V. Vasilyev, (unit 55599, originally from Tula) was eliminated, the report says.”

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

  • Most Ukrainian forces have likely withdrawn from their remaining defensive positions in the Donbas city of Sievierodonetsk. In April 2022, Russia revised its immediate campaign plan from aiming to occupy the majority of Ukraine, to a more focused offensive in the Donbas. Russia’s capture of the city is a significant achievement within this reduced objective. The settlement was a major industrial centre and it occupies a strategic position on the Siverskyi Donets River.
  • However, it is only one of several challenging objectives Russia will need to achieve to occupy the whole of the Donbas region. These include advancing on the major centre of Kramatorsk and securing the main supply routes to Donetsk city.
  • Ukraine is likely re-configuring its defence of the Sievierodonetsk-Lysychansk sector, as Russian armoured units continue to make creeping gains on the southern edge of the build-up area.
  • Since the start of June, the Russian high command has highly likely removed several Generals from key operational command roles in the war in Ukraine. These include the commander of Airborne Forces (VDV) General-Colonel Andrei Serdyukov; and commander Southern Group of Forces (SGF) General of the Army Alexandr Dvornikov. Dvornikov was also for a time probably acting as over-all operational commander.

Command of the SGF is likely to transfer to Colonel-General Sergei Surovikin, as SGF continues to perform a central part in Russia’s offensive in the Donbas. For over thirty years, Surovikin’s career has been dogged with allegations of corruption and brutality.

Losses of the Russian army 

As of Monday 26 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 34850 (+150),
  • Tanks – 1532 (+21),
  • Armored combat vehicles – 3659 (+14),
  • Artillery systems – 764 (+0),
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 243 (+2),
  • Air defense means – 99 (+0),
  • Aircraft – 217 (+0),
  • Helicopters – 184 (+0),
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 2564 (+4),
  • Vessels/boats – 14 (+0),
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 630 (+4),
  • Special equipment – 60 (+0),
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0),
  • Cruise missiles – 139 (+2)

Russian enemy suffered the greatest losses (of the last day) in the Bakhmut and Kurakhove directions.

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1540477117867098112

Humanitarian 

Mayor advised all Mykolaiv residents to evacuate on Friday – the city is under Russian attack, Ukrayinska Pravda reports. Oleksandr Sienkevych, the Mayor of Mykolaiv, said that the situation in the city of Mykolaiv is dangerous due to constant Russian shelling. He urged the residents of Mykolaiv to evacuate to safer areas.

“Overall, the situation is bad. Every day we are being shelled. As of today, a total of 111 people have been killed, including one child. In addition, 502 people have been wounded, including six children [as of 21 June – ed.]. We are being shelled every day, with different types of munitions. Around 80% of those munitions are cluster munitions. This means they are fired from Smerch [Tornado – ed.] or Uragan [Hurricane – ed.] multiple-launch rocket systems.

As of today, according to our counts, around 230,000 Mykolaiv residents remain in the city, out of 480,000 people who lived here before the war.”

A ship recently docked in occupied Berdiansk’s port is believed to try to take out stolen Ukrainian grain, Ukrinform reports, citing Berdiansk City Council. “A dry cargo vessel has checked in the port of Berdiansk, the city in southern Ukraine, which has been temporarily captured by Russian invasion forces. Ukraine officials believe a batch of Ukrainian grains will be loaded onto the ship to be illegally exported out of the country. “Most likely, our city will be deprived of the last remaining grain stocks,” the statement reads.

Locals who saw the ship in the port said it was accompanied by four Russian warships. Earlier it was reported that every day, the occupiers take out from Melitopol 30 to 50 trucks loaded with grain. This year’s crop will either be seized or bought at dumped prices of $80 per tonne, the invaders warned local farmers.

OHCHR recorded 10,506 civilian casualties in Ukraine as of June 23. 4,677 were killed (including 321 children) and 5,829 injured (including 483 children).

️Environmental

Ukraine will need at least 10 years to demine its territory, official says, Reuters reports. “Ukraine will need at least a decade to clear all the mines and explosives from its land and territorial waters once its war with Russia is over, an emergency services official said on Friday.

Ukraine has managed to clear 620 square kilometres of land that were littered with thousands of explosive devices, including 2,000 bombs dropped from the air, but nearly 300,000 square kilometres are still seen as “contaminated”, the official said.”

Russian strike damages nuclear installation in Kharkiv, Ukrinform reports. “As a result of another Russian strike on Kharkiv on June 25, 2022, the nuclear subcritical installation “Source of Neutrons was damaged. According to the operating entity of the National Science Center Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology, additional damage to buildings and infrastructure of the industrial site was established after a preliminary inspection, the press service of the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine posted on Telegram.

The staff continue to inspect the buildings, structures and equipment of the installation to identify any damage, but these works are hampered by the constant danger of new shelling.

Currently, the Source of Neutrons is in a deep subcritical state. The operating personnel monitor the condition of the installation, continue to work to eliminate the consequences of hostilities, and maintain the equipment of the nuclear installation in working order. However, this work is complicated and is sometimes impossible due to the danger of new shelling of the site. There is no external power supply to the Source of Neutrons. The radiation background in the experimental hall of the building is within the norm.”

Legal

US Senate committee approves resolution recognizing Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, Hardwo reports. “The US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations approved a resolution to include Russia on the list of countries that support terrorism. The resolution was proposed by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham on May 9 and supported by Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal. The final decision to recognize Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism must be made by the administration of President Joe Biden.

Among the arguments for recognizing Russia as a state supporting terrorism, senators name: Putin’s encouragement of acts of international terrorism against political opponents and nation-states; campaign of terror against civilians during the Second Chechen War; support for militants, and acts of violence against Ukrainian civilians since 2014; strikes on civilians in Syria; material support of the authorities of the country sponsoring terrorism Syria; subversive activities of mercenaries around the world, including Wagner PMCs in Ukraine, Syria, Sudan, and Libya; committing war crimes in Chechnya, Georgia, Syria, and Ukraine, which led to the death of countless civilians; numerous mass executions of civilians and attempts to hide their crimes with mass graves throughout Ukraine and more.”

Prosecuting collaborators: Ukraine opens 830 cases so far, Ukrinform reports. “This was announced in an interview with NV.ua by the head of the National Police, Ihor Klymenko. A total of 830 criminal proceedings have been initiated under the article on collaborationism. Some 1,355 persons have already been charged as of today. Fifty-five such cases have already been forwarded to court, the police chief said.

The suspects are often those from among local officials, as well as former law enforcers. There are people who openly sympathized with the Russian Federation, waiting for the ‘Russian world’ to come. It was due to the propaganda imposed by the Russian mass media for years, as well as some political parties that had been operating in our country, Klymenko said.”

Russo-Ukrainian War, Day 123: Russia continues massive missile strikes on Ukraine. Lavrov compares the EU and NATO to Hitler’s Germany.” ~~

339 children were killed, and 613 children injured, the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine reports as of June 26. 2,061 educational establishments are damaged as a result of shelling and bombings, 213 of them are destroyed fully. 19,707 crimes of aggression and war crimes and 9,751 crimes against national security were registered.

Support

Russian forces unable to target Western weapons entering Ukraine – US official, Ukrinform reports, citing Sky News. Russian forces are trying but have been unable to target Western weapons flowing into Ukraine, a US defence official said. “The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said weapons, including longer-range systems, were entering the country without being stopped by Russian occupiers.”

The US [might] train Ukrainian fighter pilots on F-15 and F-16 fighter jets, Ukraine Business News reports. “The US Congress introduced a bill that will allow the United States to begin training Ukrainian pilots and aircrew members on F-15s, F-16s, and other air platforms while the administration continues to consider sending such equipment,” announced Congressman Adam Kinzinger. According to Kinzinger, neither the Ukrainians nor the Russians have established air superiority thus far. However, the United States can help Ukraine change the situation in the air, giving Ukrainian forces a decisive advantage in the war. Furthermore, it is noted this program will strengthen the Ukrainian military and ensure their long-term stability and security.”

Ukraine needs ‘fire parity’ with Russia to defend the Luhansk region, top general says, Reuters reports. “Ukraine needs “fire parity” with Russia in order to stabilize the difficult situation in the country’s eastern region of Luhansk, Ukraine’s top general told his US counterpart during a phone call on Friday. We discussed the operational situation and the delivery flow of international technical assistance,” Ukraine’s General Valeriy Zaluzhniy wrote on the Telegram app after a phone call with US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley.”

Commando Network Coordinates Flow of Weapons in Ukraine, Officials Say, The New York Times reports. As Russian troops press ahead with a grinding campaign to seize eastern Ukraine, the nation’s ability to resist the onslaught depends more than ever on help from the United States and its allies — including a stealthy network of commandos and spies rushing to provide weapons, intelligence and training, according to US and European officials.

Much of this work happens outside Ukraine, at bases in Germany, France and Britain, for example. But even as the Biden administration has declared it will not deploy American troops to Ukraine, some C.I.A. personnel have continued to operate in the country secretly, mostly in the capital, Kyiv, directing much of the vast amounts of intelligence the United States is sharing with Ukrainian forces, according to current and former officials.

At the same time, a few dozen commandos from other NATO countries, including Britain, France, Canada and Lithuania, also have been working inside Ukraine. The United States withdrew its own 150 military instructors before the war began in February, but commandos from these allies either remained or have gone in and out of the country since then, training and advising Ukrainian troops and providing an on-the-ground conduit for weapons and other aid, three US officials said.

Few other details have emerged about what the C.I.A. personnel or the commandos are doing, but their presence in the country […] hints at the scale of the secretive effort to assist Ukraine that is underway. […]

Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the Army’s 10th Special Forces Group, which before the war had been training Ukrainian commandos at a base in the country’s west, quietly established a coalition planning cell in Germany to coordinate military assistance to Ukrainian commandos and other Ukrainian troops. The cell has now grown to 20 nations. Army Secretary Christine E. Wormuth offered a glimpse into the operation last month, saying the special operations cell had helped manage the flow of weapons and equipment in Ukraine. “As the Ukrainians try to move that around and evade the Russians potentially trying to target convoys, you know, we are trying to be able to help coordinate moving all of those different sort of shipments,” she said […]

The cell, which was modeled after a structure used in Afghanistan, is part of a broader set of operational and intelligence coordination cells run by the Pentagon’s European Command to speed allied assistance to Ukrainian troops. At Ramstein Air Base in Germany, for example, a US Air Force and Air National Guard team called Grey Wolf provides support, including on tactics and techniques, to the Ukrainian air force, a military spokesman said.

The commandos are not on the front lines with Ukrainian troops and instead advise from headquarters in other parts of the country or remotely by encrypted communications, according to American and other Western officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss operational matters. But the signs of their stealthy logistics, training and intelligence support are tangible on the battlefield.

Several lower-level Ukrainian commanders recently expressed appreciation to the United States for intelligence gleaned from satellite imagery, which they can call up on tablet computers provided by the allies. The tablets run a battlefield mapping app that the Ukrainians use to target and attack Russian troops. […]

“What is an untold story is the international partnership with the special operations forces of a multitude of different countries,” Lt. Gen. Jonathan P. Braga, the commander of US Army Special Operations Command, told senators in April in describing the planning cell. […] Representative Jason Crow, a Colorado Democrat on the House Armed Services and Intelligence Committees, said in an interview that the relationships Ukrainian commandos developed with American and other counterparts over the past several years had proved invaluable in the fight against Russia. […]

The C.I.A. officers operating in Ukraine have focused on directing the intelligence that the US government has been providing the Ukrainian government. Most of their work has been in Kyiv, according to current and former officials. […]

After a meeting in Brussels this month, General Milley and military leaders from nearly 50 countries pledged to increase the flow of advanced artillery and other weaponry to Ukraine. “That all takes a bit of time, and it takes a significant amount of effort,” General Milley said. American troops need six to eight weeks to learn how to use the systems, but the Ukrainians have a two-week accelerated training program, he said. […]

The Ukrainian military’s most acute training problem right now is that it is losing its most battle-hardened and well-trained forces, according to former American officials who have worked with the Ukrainians.”

Ukraine to receive EUR 1 billion grant from Germany – finance ministry, Ukrinform reports. “Minister of Finance Serhiy Marchenko of Ukraine and his German counterpart Christian Lindner have signed an Agreement between the two governments on providing Ukraine with EUR 1 billion in grant funding. This was reported by the press service of Ukraine’s finance ministry, Ukrinform reports. The funds will be directed to the state budget of Ukraine to finance priority social and humanitarian expenditures amid martial law, the statement reads.”

New developments 

  1. Blockade of Kaliningrad: Lukashenko says Lithuania has declared war on Russia, Ukrayinska Pravda reports, citing RIA Novosti. “Alexander Lukashenko, the self-proclaimed President of Belarus, has said at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin that the blockade on the transit of some goods to Kaliningrad is “akin to a declaration of war”. [Lukashenko] added that he hopes for a tough and mirrored response from Russia to these “hostile actions” by Lithuania.

  1. Putin says he will soon give Belarus Iskanders that can carry “nuclear” missiles, Ukrayinska Pravda reports, citing RIA Novosti. “Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, has stated that he will soon give Belarus Iskander M systems, which can carry ballistic and cruise missiles. Putin emphasised that these missiles could have nuclear warheads
  2. S. Congress seeks to recognize Russian war crimes in Ukraine as genocide, Ukrinform reports, citing Foreign Policy. “A draft of the resolution, seen by Foreign Policy, argues that atrocities committed by Russian troops in Ukraine, including indiscriminate attacks on civilians, the direct targeting of maternity hospitals and medical facilities, and the forcible transfer of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians to Russia and Russian-held territory meet the criteria laid out in Article II of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Explaining their position, the sponsors of the resolution point to statements made by Russian state media and top officials, including President Vladimir Putin, aimed at undermining Ukrainian statehood and sovereignty.”
  3. Lavrov compares EU and NATO with Hitler’s Germany, Ukrayinska PravdaSergey Lavrov, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, said that the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation are building a coalition to engage in a war with Russia, comparing them to Hitler during World War II.”
  4. The Kremlin reacts to Ukraine’s EU candidate member status:
    1. “The main thing is that it shouldn’t create problems for Russia”, Ukrayinska Pravda reports, citing Interfax. According to Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary of the President of Russia, “granting Ukraine and Moldova candidate status for EU membership is an internal European issue, saying that the main thing is that these processes should not lead to big problems in these countries’ relations with Russia“.
    2. Russia says EU candidate status for Ukraine and Moldova will have negative consequences, ReutersRussia on Friday said the decision by European Union leaders to accept Ukraine and Moldova as membership candidates would have negative consequences and amounted to the EU’s “enslaving” neighbouring countries. Although it could take years for the countries to join the European bloc, the decision to accept them as candidates is a symbol of the EU’s intention to reach deep into the former Soviet Union.”

Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of Saturday 25 June, 2022:

Russo-Ukrainian War, Day 123: Russia continues massive missile strikes on Ukraine. Lavrov compares the EU and NATO to Hitler’s Germany.” ~~

The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced the commanders of the “central” and “southern” groupings of forces in Ukraine on June 24, confirming previously rumored changes reported on June 21.[1] Spokesperson for the Russian MoD Igor Konashenkov stated on June 24 that Commander of the Central Military District Colonel-General Alexander Lapin is in command of the “central” group of forces, which is responsible for operations against Lysychansk (and presumably Sievierodonetsk).[2] Konashenkov additionally stated that Army General Sergei Surovikin, commander of the Russian Aerospace Forces, commands the ”southern” group of forces and oversaw the encirclement of Hirske and Zolote.[3] The Russian MoD’s announcement confirms ISW’s assessment from June 21 that the Russian high command is reshuffling and restructuring military command in order to better organize operations in Ukraine, though the Russian MoD statement does not state when the changes occurred.[4] The UK MoD confirmed that the Russian command has removed several generals from key operational roles in Ukraine, including Commander of the Airborne Forces (VDV) Colonel General Andrei Serdyukov and Commander of Russia’s Southern Military District Alexander Dvornikov, who was likely was acting as overall theatre commander.[5] The UK MoD noted that command of the Southern Military District will transfer to Surovikin.[6] The Russian MoD’s statement notably only discusses the center and south force groupings (not the Southern Military District as a whole), but Dvornikov has likely been removed from his previous role.

Russian forces conducted an abnormally large series of missile strikes against Ukrainian rear areas on June 25.[7] The Ukrainian Airforce Command reported that Russian forces fired over 50 ground-, air-, and sea-based missiles at Ukraine and targeted areas in Zhytomyr, Kyiv, Khmelmytskyi, Chernihiv, Lviv, Mykolaiv, Kharkiv, and Dnipropetrovsk oblasts.[8] The Ukrainian Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported that six Russian Tu-22M3 bombers departed from the Shaykova airbase in Belarus and launched 12 Kh-22 cruise missiles at land targets in Kyiv, Sumy, and Chernihiv Oblasts, which is the first such launch from Belarus.[9] The Ukrainian Airforce Command noted that Russian forces used sea-based Kalibr missiles against targets in western Ukraine, X-22 and ground-based Iskander and Tochka-U missiles against targets in northern Ukraine, and ONYX missiles and Bastion complexes against targets in southern Ukraine.[10] Ukrainian air defense reportedly shot down many of the missiles, which were likely intended to target critical support infrastructure in areas of Ukraine where there is no direct combat.

Ukrainian intelligence assessed that the Kremlin is continuing covert partial mobilization efforts in support of what it increasingly recognizes as a war of attrition in Eastern Ukraine.[11] Representative of the Ukrainian Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Vadym Skibitsky stated that the Kremlin recognizes it is waging a war of attrition and is conducting secretive partial mobilization efforts while additionally mobilizing the BARS (Combat Army Reserve of the Country) system and other constant-readiness elements. Skibitsky noted that 105 battalion tactical groups (BTGs) are taking part in the war in Ukraine and that Russian reserve capabilities could increase this number to anywhere between 150 and 160 BTGs but did not specify a timeframe for this mobilization. Skibitsky reiterated that the Kremlin’s main goal is to secure control of the entire Donbas and that its secondary priority is the consolidation of its control of Kherson Oblast by September 11, when the Kremlin seeks to hold referenda to directly annex territories or create quasi-state “People’s Republics.” The Kremlin intends to conduct a protracted conflict in Ukraine and is seeking to advance mobilization efforts to support long-term military and political goals in occupied areas of Ukraine.

Russo-Ukrainian War, Day 123: Russia continues massive missile strikes on Ukraine. Lavrov compares the EU and NATO to Hitler’s Germany.” ~~

Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) firmly stated that Belarusian involvement in the war in Ukraine on behalf of Russia remains highly unlikely.[12] GUR representative Vadym Skibitsky stated that Belarusian forces will not attack Ukraine without the support of Russian troops, of which there are approximately 1,500 in Belarus. Skibitsky noted that Belarus has seven BTGs on a rotating basis near the border with Ukraine and that the formation of a Russian-Belarusian joint shock group would take three to four weeks, with two to three weeks needed to simply deploy sufficient Russian forces into Belarus. The GUR’s statement reaffirms ISW’s previous assessments that, while recent Belarusian actions along the Ukrainian border are threatening and likely intended to fix Ukrainian forces in place with the threat of Belarusian action, they are highly unlikely to preempt actual involvement in the war.[13]

Key Takeaways

  • The Russian Ministry of Defense stated that the leadership of its central and southern groups of forces fighting Ukraine has changed, confirming ISW’s previous assessment that the Russian high command is restructuring the leadership of operations in Ukraine.
  • Ukrainian intelligence officials emphasized that Belarus remains highly unlikely to join the war in Ukraine.
  • Ukrainian sources confirmed that Russian forces have taken full control of Sievierodonetsk and are fighting within Lysychansk.
  • Russian forces made measured gains to the north and southeast of Bakhmut.
  • Russian forces continued unsuccessful attempts to advance southeast of Izium toward Sloviansk.
  • Russian forces continued positional battles north of Kharkiv City.
  • Russian forces attempted to strengthen their defensive lines and recapture lost positions on the Southern Axis.

Defense intel chief: Before year-end, active hostilities will decrease virtually to nothing, we will return to 1991 borders, Ukrinform reports, citing Major General Kyrylo Budanov, head of DIU. “Ukraine will return to its 1991 borders. There will be no other scenarios, and we are not considering any other scenarios. (…) Before the end of the year, active fighting will decrease virtually to nothing. We will regain control over our territories in the foreseeable future, Budanov said.

He reaffirmed that part of the Ukrainian Army’s success in the Russian-Ukrainian war now depends on international support, and praised Britain’s recent proposal to train 10,000 Ukrainian servicemen. The UK’s support is really strong. This is a great example of cooperation and assistance, said the defense intelligence chief. According to Budanov, Russian President Vladimir Putin will not succeed. This is a tragedy to which he led Russia and Ukraine, and it will end in disaster for Russia. Nothing else, concluded the top spy.”

The Belarusian army is not able to carry out the offensive on its own without the participation of Russia, but the Kremlin keeps in reserve a third of its BTGr, the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine (DIU) claims. “Currently, the Belarusian army keeps only seven battalions, which are now stationed on a rotating basis near the Ukrainian border. And the time required for the deployment of strike forces is 3-4 weeks. This was announced by the representative of DIU, Vadym Skibitsky in an interview with RBC-Ukraine.

“Some special units of the Russian Federation together with the units of the special operations forces of Belarus are presently conducting joint exercises to practice actions on the territory of Ukraine. Training takes place along the entire border. A similar training program was observed during all previous joint exercises of the armies of Belarus and Russia. That is why the main threat now lies in the actions of sabotage and reconnaissance groups.

At the same time, taking into account the experience of March-April, the formation of the strike group will take 3-4 weeks, of which 2-3 will be needed for the return of Russian army units to Belarus. At the same time, the conduct of offensive hostilities by the Belarusian armed forces is considered to be extremely unlikely on its own. In general, the number of Belarusian units, which are rotated near the border, is 4-6 thousand people. There are also 1,500 personnel of Russian units in the country – air component, air defense, special forces, and missile forces.”

Russia’s grinding battlefield gains seen driven by new tactics, Reuters reports. It took Russia weeks of fierce fighting, an untold number of casualties, and relentless shelling before the exhausted Ukrainian defenders of Sievierodonetsk received orders to quit its smoldering wreckage. […]  With a reported 90% of the industrial city’s buildings damaged, most of its around 100,000 residents long gone, and with limited strategic value beyond a sprawling chemicals plant, it does not look like much of a prize.

But its capture, if and when officially confirmed, is likely to be hailed by Russia as evidence that its switch from its early and unsuccessful attempts at “lightning warfare” to a much slower grinding offensive that relies more on long-range shelling rather than close-quarters combat, is paying off. […] Yes it’s slow, but the strategy works and it means far [fewer] casualties,” said the official, who declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak on the subject.

Konrad Muzyka, a Poland-based military analyst, said the tactical change meant Moscow could commit fewer troops to offensives amid unconfirmed Western suggestions that Russia is experiencing manpower problems. […]

The fall of Sievierodonetsk would leave only one other major settlement in Ukraine’s Luhansk region outside the control of Russia and its proxies – the nearby twin city of Lysychansk, which lies across the Siverskyi Donets River and on high ground, making it harder to overwhelm. Luhansk is one of two regions that make up the wider Donbas area whose capture by Russian forces on behalf of proxy separatists is framed by Moscow as one of its main aims.

Ukrainian analysts say Kyiv is forcing Russia to pay a high price for its creeping progress. The length of time Sievierodonetsk’s defenders held out slowed Russian efforts elsewhere and sucked up Moscow’s finite resources, they say. “Our forces had to withdraw and conduct a tactical retreat because there was essentially nothing left there to defend,” said Oleksander Musiyenko, a Kyiv-based military analyst. There was no city left there and, secondly, we could not allow them (Ukrainian forces) to be encircled. […].

One Moscow-based military analyst who declined to be named, citing Russia’s wartime censorship laws, compared the fighting around Sievierodonetsk to World War One, saying Russian forces had advanced only around 100 meters a day for the last month. Russia’s aims at this point in the conflict were less about gaining territory, he suggested, and more about inflicting maximum casualties. […]

Russia still faces major obstacles in its campaign to control Donbas as Ukraine still controls almost half of the Donetsk region, the other region it is targeting, including the heavily fortified cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, both of which are larger than Sievierodonetsk.

2. Consequences and what to do?

Boris Johnson says he fears Ukraine will be coerced to make a “bad peace”, Reuters reports. “British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday that he feared Ukraine could face pressure to agree on a peace deal with Russia that was not in its interests, due to the economic consequences of the war in Europe.

Too many countries are saying this is a European war that is unnecessary … and so the pressure will grow to encourage – coerce, maybe – the Ukrainians to a bad peace, he told broadcasters in the Rwandan capital Kigali, where he is attending a Commonwealth summit.

Johnson said the consequences of Russian President Vladimir Putin being able to get his way in Ukraine would be dangerous to international security and a long-term economic disaster“.

Hans Petter Midttun: The fall of Sievierodonetsk was inevitable given the imbalance in force and the size of the area Ukraine is defending.

Russia has the advantage of being able to concentrate its military efforts, while Ukraine is forced to protect the entire 2,500 kilometers of the frontline and actively defend the 1,000 kilometers of it being exposed to active combat. To fully grasp the scope of its security challenges, 2500 km is equivalent to the entire land border of Norway or the distance between Oslo and the southernmost tip of Italy, while the latter is equal to the distance from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea.

On top of that, Russia is capable of striking targets across all of Ukraine, an area that equals the combined size of Portugal, Serbia, Czechia, Ireland, Lithuania, Latvia, Croatia, Estonia, and Denmark.

The asymmetry in long-range weapons is tremendous. The lack of long-range artillery and MLRS have been extensively covered by several recent statements and analyses. The 1:10 ratio in artillery duels and the quickly depleting ammunition stocks that will soon render parts of the Ukrainian artillery useless give a new sense of urgency in both upholding and increasing the flow of weapons to Ukraine.

For Ukraine to achieve parity with the Russian army in the east, Western nations will need to provide Ukraine with 1,000 howitzers, 300 multiple-launch rocket systems, 500 tanks, 2,000 armored vehicles, and 1,000 drones.

Ukraine needs 40 brigades to cover the active frontline over time. Every brigade is supposed to have 100 infantry fighting vehicles, 30 tanks, and 54 artillery systems. As of mid-June, Ukraine has, however, lost approximately 30 to 40, sometimes up to 50 percent of losses of the equipment as a result of combat. Approximately 1,300 infantry fighting vehicles, 400 tanks, and 700 artillery systems have been lost. The inflow of Western weapons does not compensate for the losses and does, therefore, by no means help Ukraine meet the urgent need for parity.

Additionally, the Russian Federation has a complete “toolbox” at its disposal, while Ukraine does not have a Navy and has a small and ageing Air Force. While the Ukrainian Navy lately has received anti-ship missiles enabling it to deny the Russian Black Sea Fleet the ability to operate freely in the northern part of the Black Sea, it is unable to break the maritime blockade that is both strangling its economy and inducing a global famine.

The Ukrainian air force has enough pilots, planes, weapons, and fuel to launch up to 30 sorties a day. Unless the West starts delivering F-15/F-16 combat planes, losses and technical status of the present aging air fleet will slowly deplete its ability to control its airspace and support land forces. “We need suppression of enemy air defense capability. We need air-to-ground capability and the [biggest] priority is air-to-air capability.”

Russia in contrast is operating 200-300 sorties a day. That said, Russian combat aircraft mostly avoid conducting sorties over Ukrainian territory, likely because of the threat from intact Ukrainian air defense missiles systems. Of the 20,000 or so sorties that the Russian air force has flown so far in the Ukraine war, fewer than 3,000 have entered Ukrainian airspace.

As we have seen in the last 24 hours, Russia is still capable of launching massive missile attacks against both military and civilian infrastructure. It has already launched more than 2,700 missiles against Ukraine, which is 400 more than the 2,300 Tomahawks USA has launched during the last 32 years of international operations). Ukraine urgently needs medium and long-range ground-based air defense to both protect the population, critical infrastructure, and its Armed Forces.

Russia’s capture of Sievierodonetsk comes after weeks of concentrated joint efforts and at very high costs. The Russian losses during 4 months of war have been staggering. Its resources are not limitless. The longer the war lasts, the bigger the losses in manpower and equipment, logistic challenges, and problems in motivation and recruitment. The longer the war lasts, the more effective the sanctions will have on Russia’s ability to wage war. While the fall of Sievierodonetsk might have been inevitable, an extremely slow offensive might very well soon be grinding to a halt.

The faster the West provides Ukraine with the tools it desperately needs, the faster the Russian offensive will come to a complete stop. Afterward, it’s only a matter of turning the tide.

Ukraine needs independent journalism. And we need you. Join our community on Patreon and help us better connect Ukraine to the world. We’ll use your contribution to attract new authors, upgrade our website, and optimize its SEO. For as little as the cost of one cup of coffee a month, you can help build bridges between Ukraine and the rest of the world, plus become a co-creator and vote for topics we should cover next. Become a patron or see other ways to support. Become a Patron!

Tags: