Russo Ukrainian War, Day 125: Russia hits a shopping mall in Kremechuk with 1,000 civilians inside, killing 18

 

Daily review

Article by: Hans Petter Midttun

The Russian invaders fired X-22 missiles from Tu-22 M3 long-range bombers at a shopping mall in Kremenchuk, killing 18, and wounding 50. In Kharkiv, 4 dead, 19 wounded. The UN Security Council will discuss the attack tonight. Zelenskyy calls Russia “the largest terrorist organization in the world.” 11 missiles were launched at Mykolaiv overnight. Russia fired from 60 to 80 missiles at Ukraine over the weekend for the total price of $200 million. The Ukrainian army attacked the Russian invaders on Zmiiny Island, and repulsed the assault in the Kharkiv Oblast. Canadian and British Prime Ministers Justin Trudeau and Boris Johnson announced a half-billion-pound loan guarantee for Ukraine. The G7 tightens sanctions against Russia.

Daily overview — Summary report, June 27 

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 06.00 am, June 28, 2022

Situation. June 28 2022. Credit: British Intelligence. ~

Situation. June 28 2022. Credit: British Intelligence.

According to information from the General Staff as of 06.00 28.06.2022, supplemented by its [18:00 assessment].

The one-hundred-twenty-fifth (125) day of the heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people to a russian military invasion continues.

In the Volyn and Polissya directions, the armed forces of the republic of belarus are holding a scheduled training on communication with the involvement of communication points of command and control.

In the Siversky direction, aggressor fired from barrel artillery and jet artillery in the areas of Pokrovka, Starykove, Porozok and Verkhnya Pozhnya, Sumy oblast. Conducted aerial reconnaissance of the positions of our Orlan-10 UAVs in the border areas of Chernihiv oblast.

In the Kharkiv direction, the main group of enemy troops focuses on preventing the advance of our troops to the state border of Ukraine, continues to conduct assault operations to improve the tactical situation and restrain the actions of units of the Defense Forces.

The enemy launched an air strike near the settlement of Yavirske and fired artillery at elements of the infrastructure near the settlements of Kharkiv, Ruska Lozova, Staryi Saltiv, Peremoha, Chepil and Milova.

Ukrainian soldiers successfully repulsed the assault of the enemy in the direction of Dovhalivka — Zaliman. The occupiers withdrew.

In the Sloviansk direction, the enemy stormed Dovhenke-Dolyna and created conditions for an attack on Sloviansk. The main efforts are focused on continuing the offensive in the direction of Izium — Sloviansk.

It fired at the positions of our troops with artillery and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. Conducted aerial reconnaissance of UAVs near the village of Hrushuvakha. Our defenders resolutely stopped the enemy’s attempt in the direction of Dovhenke — Dolyna and pushed the enemy back.

The enemy did not take active action in the Kramatorsk direction. It carried out artillery shelling of the Mayaky and Tetyanivka settlements from barrel artillery.

The situation in Donbas. June 28 2022. Credit: Ukraine Mapper. ~

The situation in Donbas. June 28 2022. Credit: Ukraine Mapper.

In the Lysychansk direction, in order to inflict losses, the occupiers, in addition to using mortars and artillery, launched air strikes in the areas of Mykolayivka and Yakovlivka.

The enemy is storming Vovchoyarivka, the southern outskirts of the Lysychansk oil refinery, and fighting continues.

The enemy does not give up hope to take control of the Bakhmut-Lysychansk highway. In order to expose the firing positions of our units, it conducted reconnaissance by fighting in the direction of Mykolayivka — Spirne, and later conducted an offensive in that direction. Ukrainian soldiers successfully suppressed all these attempts and forced the enemy to retreat.

In the Bakhmut direction, the occupiers fired artillery at the districts of Kostiantynivka, Bilohorivka, Vyimka, Pokrovsky, Bakhmut, and Soledar. The enemy is also carrying out assault operations in the direction of Myronivka — Vuhlehirska TPP, the fighting continues.

In the Avdiivka, Kurakhiv, Novopavliv and Zaporizhzhia areas, the enemy did not take active action, firing barrel artillery and jet artillery at the areas of the settlements of Vodiane, Avdiivka, Katerynivka, Komar, Shcherbaky, Zelenyi Hai and Novodanylivka. It struck air strikes near Kamyanka, Avdiivka, and Shevchenko.

Our warriors repulsed the assault in the direction of Yehorivka — Pavlivka. The enemy retreated with losses.

In the South Buh direction, the enemy focuses its main efforts on maintaining the previously occupied frontiers, preventing our troops from conducting counter-offensive operations in the Kherson and Mykolayiv regions. In order to prevent the regrouping of units of the Defense Forces, it carried out fire damage to units of our troops with the use of artillery and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. It struck an air strike near the village of Potiomkine.

In the northwestern part of the Black Sea, the Black Sea Fleet’s naval group continues to block naval communications and reconnaissance. Two carriers of naval-based cruise missiles of the “Caliber” type are ready for the use of missile weapons in the Black Sea.

The strike aircraft of the Air Force inflicted powerful air strikes on the positions of the occupiers. In mainly on all areas of hostilities, Ukrainian Su-25 attack aircraft and Su-24m bombers made up to twenty group combat sorties.

Also, our soldiers continue to successfully perform missile and artillery fire missions. The results are being investigated. We will report on the general losses of the enemy in a separate report.

Military Updates

Ukrainian strike aircraft of the inflicted airstrikes on the positions of the Russian forces on Monday, June 27, according to the Ukrainian Air Force. In virtually all areas of hostilities, Ukrainian Su-25 attack aircraft and Su-24m bombers made up to twenty group combat sorties. As a result of air strikes, the ammunition depot, and the positions of two company tactical groups of the Russian occupiers were destroyed, and several dozen armored combat vehicles and enemy manpower were destroyed.

Ukrainian military launched over 10 accurate strikes on Zmiinyi (Snake) Island, Ukrinform reports. “We continue an [military] operation on Zmiinyi (Snake) Island. Last night more than 10 accurate strikes were launched on the island. We are checking the results now, but we have already been informed that one more Pantsir-S1 air defense missile gun system was hit, [Head of the United Coordinating Press Center of the Southern Defense Forces, Natalia Humeniuk, said].”

Enemy military vehicle columns driving westwards via Mariupol – Andriushchenko, Ukrinform reported on Sunday. “Large military vehicle columns have been driving westwards via Mariupol for four days in a row. The limited number of the military is remaining in the city, mainly to guard potential military objects (port, plants, railway). The relevant statement was made by Advisor to Mariupol Mayor Petro Andriushchenko on Telegram.”

Russia increases military presence in Belarus – intelligence, Ukrinform reports, citing Defence Intelligence of Ukraine (DIU) on Telegram. “The leadership of institutions and organizations in the Gomel Region were warned of the possible return of Russian military units. At the same time, Russians are planning to increase operational and tactical aviation numbers within the territory of Belarus. The formal reason is to carry out joint air patrol missions on the base of the joint combat training center of aviation and anti-aircraft defense units. For this purpose, 10 aircraft are expected to fly to the Baranovichi airfield,” the report states.

In addition, according to the Ukrainian intelligence, mobilization exercises started in Gomel Region on June 22, 2022. Meanwhile, reservist training exercises announced in the Belarusian mass media are not conducted. Belarusian reservists are now involved in general labor activities

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

  • Ukrainian forces continue to consolidate their positions on higher ground in the city of Lyschansak, after falling back from Sievierodonetsk. Ukrainian forces continue to disrupt Russian command and control with successful strikes deep behind Russian lines.
  • Over 24-26 June, Russia launched unusually intense waves of strikes across Ukraine using long-range missiles. These weapons highly likely included the Soviet-era AS-4 KITCHEN and more modern AS-23a KODIAK missiles, fired from both Belarussian and Russian airspace.
  • These weapons were designed to take on targets of strategic importance, but Russia continues to expend them in large numbers for tactical advantage. Similarly, it fielded the core elements of six different armies yet achieved only tactical success at Sievierodonetsk. The Russian armed forces are increasingly hollowed out. They currently accept a level of degraded combat effectiveness, which is probably unsustainable in the long term.
  • While Russia’s main operational focus remains the Sievierodonetsk-Lysychansk pocket, a week of consistently heavy shelling suggests Russia is now trying to regain momentum on the northern Izium axis. Ukrainian forces continue to hold the line in that sector, making good use of forested terrain to assist their defense.
  • Over the coming weeks, Russia’s campaign will highly likely increasingly rely on echelons of reserve forces. These consist of several distinct components which Russia has almost certainly already started to field.

Losses of the Russian army 

As of Monday 28 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 35250 (+250),
  • Tanks – 1567 (+15),
  • Armored combat vehicles – 3704 (+17),
  • Artillery systems – 778 (+7),
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 243 (+0),
  • Air defense means – 102 (+1),
  • Aircraft – 217 (+0),
  • Helicopters – 185 (+1),
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 2589 (+14),
  • Vessels/boats – 14 (+0),
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 636 (+0),
  • Special equipment – 61 (+1),
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0),
  • Cruise missiles – 139 (+0)

Russian enemy suffered the greatest losses (of the last day) in the Bakhmut direction.

Humanitarian 

The impact of the war on income and employment in Ukraine, International Labour Organization (ILO) reports. The Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine has resulted in a devastating humanitarian crisis, causing large losses of life, massive destruction of infrastructure, and immense human suffering. As of mid-June, more than 7.5 million Ukrainians have fled the country and 8 million have had to relocate within the country.

Preliminary assessments say that national income will drastically drop this year by between 35 and 45 %. According to ILO estimates  30 % of all jobs – approximately 4.8 million – have been lost since the outbreak of the war.
As the conflict drags on, more Ukrainians could lose their jobs and millions could be pushed into poverty, which could offset the country’s development efforts.

OHCHR recorded 10,631 civilian casualties in Ukraine as of June 27. 4,731 were killed (including 330 children) and 5,900 injured (including 489 children).

️Environmental 

A missile flew critically low above the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant on Sunday – Enerhoatom, Ukrayinska Pravda reports, citing Energoatom. “Today, 26 June 2022, the Ruscists again resorted to nuclear terrorism – at 6 a.m. an enemy missile flew critically low above the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant. The flight has been captured on video. The missile made its way from the South to the North of Ukraine. It’s likely that Kyiv, where there’ve been explosions all morning, was its goal.

Enerhoatom once again focuses international attention on “Russia’s reckless actions” that threaten not only the security of Ukraine but also the security of the whole of Europe. “Any damage to the active power unit will have very serious consequences and may threaten the world with a horrible nuclear disaster”, – claims Enerhoatom.”

Legal 

Russians have launched about 500 strikes on civilian infrastructure last week, Ukrinform reports. “The center of the capital was struck. Prosecutors and investigators, as well as experts of the Military Council at the Prosecutor General’s Office, are working at the site of the missile attack,” Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova posted on Facebook. According to her, Russia launched massive missile attacks throughout Ukraine this weekend.”

According to Ukrainian Forbes, Russia fired 60 to 80 long-range missiles worth up to $220 million against Ukraine on 25-26 June only.

Rescuers dig for survivors of Russian missiles strike on the Ukrainian shopping mall, Reuters reports. “Firefighters and soldiers searched for survivors in the rubble of a shopping mall in central Ukraine on Tuesday after a Russian missile strike killed at least 16 people in an attack condemned by the United Nations and the West. More than 1,000 people were inside when two Russian missiles slammed into the mall, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said. At least 16 people were killed and 59 injured, Ukraine’s emergency services said.

“This is not an accidental hit, this is a calculated Russian strike exactly onto this shopping center,” Zelensky said in an evening video address. He said the death count could rise. More than 40 people had been reported missing, Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office said.”

Russo-Ukrainian War, Day 125: Russia hits a shopping mall in Kremechuk with 1,000 civilians inside, killing 18 ~~

341 children were killed, and 622 children injured, the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine reports as of June 28. 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.

Russia exports at least 400,000 tonnes of grain from Ukraine – agriculture ministry, Ukrinform reports. “At the time of the actual occupation, there were about one and a half million tonnes of grain in these areas, according to elevator registers. We received information from Ukrainians staying in those territories about the fact of export. If you add all these cases, this is about 400,000 tonnes,” [Ukraine’s First Deputy Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food, Taras Vysotskyi, said to RFE/RL’s Crimea.Realities project.]

According to the Center for Food and Land Use Research of the Kyiv School of Economics (KSE Institute), Vysotskyi added, that the losses of Ukrainian agriculture from the full-scale invasion have already amounted to $4.3 billion. Russia is deliberately destroying agric

Support

G7 Leaders to provide support and stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes – statement, Ukrinform reports. The Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) will continue to provide support and stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes, and will intensify sanctions pressure on Russia.

“We, the Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7), are steadfast in our solidarity with Ukraine, and reaffirm our unwavering commitment to supporting the government and people of Ukraine in their courageous defense of their country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and in their fight for a peaceful, prosperous and democratic future. […] We will continue to provide financial, humanitarian, military, and diplomatic support and stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes,” the statement reads. […]

The G7 noted that this devastating war had produced dramatic consequences far beyond Europe. The G7 expressed support for Ukraine’s efforts to end the war. It is up to Ukraine to decide on a future peace settlement, free from external pressure or influence, the G7 added.

The G7 Leaders condemned Russia’s unjustified use of nuclear rhetoric and signaling and reiterated that any use of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons would be unacceptable and met with severe consequences. […]They also expressed serious concern after the announcement by Russia that it could transfer missiles with nuclear capabilities to Belarus.

The G7 will continue to coordinate efforts to meet Ukraine’s urgent requirements for military and defence equipment. They will also continue to coordinate to provide Ukraine with the “material, training and logistic, intelligence, and economic support to build up its armed forces”.

With a view to a viable post-war peace settlement, the G7 are ready to reach arrangements together with interested countries and institutions and Ukraine on sustained security commitments to help Ukraine defend itself, secure its free and democratic future, and deter future Russian aggression.

“We stand ready to further strengthen Ukraine’s resilience by expanding our cooperation in intelligence and information sharing, information security, as well as maritime security. We will continue supporting Ukraine in defending its networks against cyber incidents and expand our cooperation in the fields of energy security, the safety and security of nuclear material and facilities, and environmental, and water use issues,” the G7 stressed.

They also promised to continue to support Ukraine in resisting threats to its democratic institutions and their common democratic values and principles, including through support for free media as well as countering disinformation and interference in democratic processes. […]

The G7 strongly condemned ongoing attacks on civilians and non-combatants, the systematic targeting of critical infrastructure, schools and kindergartens, healthcare personnel and facilities, as well as conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence in Ukraine. They further condemned the deliberate targeting of Ukrainian cultural sites and regarded the destruction of Ukrainian heritage by Russian forces – and suppression of the Ukrainian language and media in areas illegally occupied by Russia – as an attempt to wipe out Ukraine’s history and cultural identity. […]

The G7 urgently called on Russia to cease, without condition, its attacks on agricultural and transport infrastructure and enable free passage of agricultural shipping from Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea. The G7 are united and determined to strongly support Ukraine in producing and exporting grain, oil, and other agricultural products. […]

The US to announce purchase of medium- to long-range surface-to-air missile defense system for Ukraine, CNN reports. “The US plans to announce as soon as this week that it has purchased an advanced, medium-to-long range surface-to-air missile defense system for Ukraine, a source familiar with the announcement tells CNN.

In response to requests by Ukrainian forces, other military assistance is also likely to be announced this week, including additional artillery ammunition and counter-battery radars. Ukrainian officials have asked for the missile defense system, known as a NASAMS system, given the weapons can hit targets more than 100 miles away, though the Ukrainian forces will likely need to be trained on the systems, a source said. The NASMAS system is the same one that protects Washington, DC, and the area around the nation’s capital.”

There is an opportunity to turn the tide in war in Ukraine, Johnson and Macron believe, Ukrinform reports. “During a meeting at the G7 summit, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron agreed to step up military support for Ukraine and noted the critical need for such steps at this stage of the war. “President Macron praised the Prime Minister’s [Boris Johnson’s] ongoing military support to Ukraine and the leaders agreed to step up this work,” reads the press release of the British Prime Minister’s Office.

As noted, the French and British leaders agreed that now is a critical moment for the war in Ukraine, and there is an opportunity to turn the tide in the war. Johnson stressed any attempt to settle the conflict now will only cause enduring instability and give Putin licence to manipulate both sovereign countries and international markets in perpetuity.”

Baykar Makina to donate three drones to Ukraine, Ukrinform reports. “Baykar has been informed that a crowdfunding campaign called ‘The People’s Bayraktar’ was successful in raising funds to buy several Bayraktar TB2 UAVs for Ukrainians to use in defense of their homeland. Business leaders and ordinary people have contributed – small and large – to reach this milestone within a matter of a few days’ time. Baykar will not accept payment for the TB2s, and will send three UAVs free of charge to the Ukrainian war front, the statement on Baykar Makina’s Twitter account reads.

The company asked that the raised funds be remitted instead to the struggling people of Ukraine. “We are touched by their solidarity and determination in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges. Baykar prays for a just resolution and lasting peace, the statement said.

Russia struggling to find hundreds of imported parts for its aircraft fleet – intelligence, Ukrinform reports, citing Defence Intelligence of Ukraine (DIU). “Russian defense companies are trying to find a substitution for hundreds of components for their aircraft. “Materials of official correspondence dated June 20 were intercepted between the command of the 8th special aviation division and the management of defense companies that produce, repair, and maintain the An, Il, and Tu aircraft of various types and purposes. The command is concerned over the lack of imported components for repair and maintenance,” reads the report.

According to the DIU, in order to find a way out of the crisis, the Russians plan to work out the possibility of import substitution separately for each type of aircraft, using the capacities of the Russian military industry. “Most items in question are for IL-96-400vvip. Also, 114 components are manufactured in Germany, France, the USA, Great Britain, Ukraine, and the Netherlands. They also need 71 imported components for Tu-214 aircraft, 39 for Tu-154, and many parts for other types of aircraft,” the intelligence said.”

DIU: “The chairman of the Russian Federation Council’s committee on constitutional law and state-building said that “the import substitution program has failed completely, except for the bravura reports of industry departments.”

New developments 

  1. NATO to boost troops on high alert to over 300,000 -Stoltenberg, ReutersNATO will boost the number of troops on high alert by more than sevenfold to over 300,000, its secretary-general said on Monday, as allies prepared to adopt a new strategy describing Moscow as a direct threat four months into the Ukraine war. Russia has walked away from the partnership and the dialogue that NATO has tried to establish with Russia for many years, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in Brussels ahead of a NATO summit later this week in Madrid. They have chosen confrontation instead of dialogue. We regret that – but of course, then we need to respond to that reality, he told reporters.”
  2. Ukraine’s EU Membership Perspective Correlates with NATO Membership Path, European PravdaSince the fall of the Berlin Wall, the successive waves of enlargement went the way: NATO accession first and EU accession following. We don’t know which will be the case for Ukraine or Moldova or Bosnia or Georgia. We’ll see. But there is an interdependency between the two organizations. We will see how the balance between the two will be played this time, and we’ll decide this together with our Ukrainian friends and partners, [Deputy Secretary-General of NATO Mircea Geoană said].

When the Allies decided to have this division of Labor, NATO dealing with nonlethal support and the Allies taking the military support, that was a deliberate decision. NATO is an organization that is the “risk owner.” With all due respect, our number one job is to protect 1 billion people living in NATO countries, where article 5 does operate. That’s why we try to avoid the risk of escalation, as the war between Russia and NATO would be something that is in the interest of no one.”

  1. The US, G7 to tighten sanctions against Russia and support Ukraine – White House, Ukrinform According to the White House statement, in the span of a few months, “US exports to Russia, including critical technology inputs Putin needs to maintain his military, have decreased by approximately 97%. Russia’s imports of goods from around the world could fall by 40%. “Our measures will continue to sap Putin’s military-industrial complex of critical components, prevent the central bank’s foreign reserves from propping up an ailing economy and deprive Putin of the resources he needs to wage his war and hold the kleptocracy to account for its ill-gotten gains, the statement said.”
  2. Russia’s Medvedev says any NATO encroachment on Crimea could lead to World War 3, ReutersFor us, Crimea is a part of Russia. And that means forever. Any attempt to encroach on Crimea is a declaration of war against our country, Medvedev told the news website Argumenty i Fakty. And if this is done by a NATO member-state, this means conflict with the entire North Atlantic alliance; a World War Three. A complete catastrophe. Medvedev, now deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, also said that if Finland and Sweden joined NATO, Russia would strengthen its borders and would be “ready for retaliatory steps,” and that could include the prospect of installing Iskander hypersonic missiles on their threshold.”
  3. G7 leaders in solidarity over capping price for Russian oil – White House, UkrinformLeaders of the Group of Seven, who recently held a summit in Germany, have reached an absolute consensus on the need to restrict prices for Russian oil. At the same time, the mechanism needs to be worked out to this end. That’s according to Jake Sullivan, the US National Security Advisor.”
  4. G7 should strengthen sanctions against Russia after missile strikes on Kyiv – Yermak, UkrinformThe G7 summit must respond to Russia’s strikes on Kyiv. Sanctions should be more aggressive. An embargo on gold exports is good, but a gas embargo is needed in the new EU sanctions package,” Yermak wrote on Telegram. In his opinion, military convoys to unblock Ukrainian ports should be the answer to the food crisis orchestrated by Russia. Recognition of Russia as a sponsor of terrorism is very necessary, he said. He also reiterated that Ukraine needs more heavy weapons.”
  5. “Grain corridor” from Ukraine to launch in three to four weeks if deal reached, Turkish official says, Ukrinform reports citing Haber Türk.The opening of the “grain corridor” will take three to four weeks, but the main factor in starting this process is the agreement that is yet to be reached between Ukraine and Russia. To this end, Istanbul is ready to host a meeting in the Turkey-Ukraine-Russia-UN format. This was stated by the Turkish President’s spokesman and foreign affairs adviser Ibrahim Kalin.”
  6. Russia defaults on foreign debt, Ukrinform reports, citing Bloomberg. “The Russian Federation for the first time defaults on foreign debt, which has become a climax of ever-tougher Western sanctions, which have shut payments paths to creditors. At the end of the day on Sunday, the grace period on about $100 million of snared interest payments due May 27 expired, a deadline considered an event of default if missed. Russia has pushed back against the default designation, saying it has the funds to cover any bills, with billions of dollars a week still pouring into state coffers from energy exports, and that it has been forced into non-payment.”
  7. Russia’s Killnet hacker group says it attacked Lithuania, ReutersRussian hacker group Killnet claimed responsibility on Monday for a DDOS cyber-attack on Lithuania, saying it was in response to Vilnius’s decision to block the transit of goods sanctioned by the European Union to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.”

Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of Saturday 27 June, 2022:

Assessed Control of Terrain in Ukrain and Main Russian Maneuver Axes as of June 27, 2022. Credit: ISW. ~

Assessed Control of Terrain in Ukrain and Main Russian Maneuver Axes as of June 27, 2022. Credit: ISW.

A Russian missile strike hit a shopping mall in a residential area of Kremenchuk, Poltava Oblast on June 27, likely killing many civilians. Ukrainian sources stated that over 1,000 civilians were inside the mall at the time of the strike, and officials are still clarifying the number of casualties. The Kremenchuk strike follows a wider intensification of Russian missile strikes against Ukrainian infrastructure and civilian targets in recent days. Advisor to the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs Vadym Denisenko stated on June 26 that Russian forces have begun a campaign of massive and largely indiscriminate missile strikes against Ukrainian cities, which echoes statements made by an unnamed US defense official on June 27 that Russian forces are increasingly relying on artillery and missile strikes to advance operations in Ukraine. As Russian forces continue to burn through their supply of high-precision weaponry, such attacks that cause substantial collateral civilian damage will likely escalate.

Russian military authorities continue to seek ways to replenish their increasingly exhausted force capabilities without announcing general mobilization. An unnamed senior US defense official stated on June 27 that Russian forces are likely running low on senior military leaders and are relying more heavily on retired officers and reserves to replace officer casualties. The UK Ministry of Defense similarly reported that Russian forces will likely rely heavily on reserve echelons, namely the Combat Army Reserve (BARS) and Human Mobilization Resource, in order to galvanize volunteer support and fill out the third battalion tactical group (BTG) within regular (and depleted) brigades. As ISW has previously assessed, such reserves are unlikely to provide Russian forces with meaningful regeneration of force capabilities.

Key Takeaways:

  • Russian forces struck a shopping mall in Kremenchuk as part of a recent escalation in strikes against Ukrainian infrastructure and cities.
  • Russian forces made incremental advances southwest of Lysychansk near the T1302 Bakhmut-Lysychansk highway but have not entirely severed Ukrainian lines of communication into Bakhmut.
  • Russian forces made measured advances during offensive operations to the east of Bakhmut.
  • Ukrainian forces repelled Russian offensives north of Sloviansk.
  • Russian forces made limited and localized attacks along contested frontlines around Kharkiv City but did not make any advances on June 27.
  • Ukrainian counteroffensives along the Southern Axis continue to force Russian troops to prioritize defensive operations along the line of contact.

Russian occupation authorities are taking steps to strengthen economic control of occupied territories and force Ukrainian civilians to switch to the ruble.

Russia will soon exhaust its combat capabilities, Western assessments predict, The Washington Post reports. The Russian military will soon exhaust its combat capabilities and be forced to bring its offensive in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region to a grinding halt, according to Western intelligence predictions and military experts.

“There will come a time when the tiny advances Russia is making become unsustainable in light of the costs and they will need a significant pause to regenerate capability,” said a senior Western official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive issue. […]

According to chatter on Russian Telegram channels and Ukraine’s deputy defense minister, Anna Malyar, the Russian military is under pressure to bring all of Luhansk under Russian control by Sunday, perhaps explaining the heightened momentum of the past week.

But the “creeping” advances are dependent almost entirely on the expenditure of vast quantities of ammunition, notably artillery shells, which are being fired at a rate almost no military in the world would be able to sustain for long, said the senior Western official. Russia, meanwhile, is continuing to suffer heavy losses of equipment and men, calling into question how much longer it can remain on the attack, the official said.

Officials refuse to offer a time frame, but British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, citing intelligence assessments, indicated this week that Russia would be able to continue to fight on only for the “next few months.” After that, “Russia could come to a point when there is no longer any forward momentum because it has exhausted its resources,” he told the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung in an interview.

Russian commentators are also noting the challenges, emphasizing a chronic shortage of manpower. “Russia does not have enough physical strength in the zone of the special military operation in Ukraine … taking into account the almost one thousand kilometres (or more) line of confrontation,” wrote Russian military blogger Yuri Kotyenok on his Telegram account. He estimated that Russia would need 500,000 troops to attain its goals, which would only be possible with a large-scale mobilization, a potentially risky and unpopular move that President Vladimir Putin has so far refrained from the undertaking.

The Russian onslaught has already outlasted forecasts that Russia’s offensive capabilities would peak by the summer. Aggressive recruitment of contract soldiers and reservists has helped generate as many as 40,000 to 50,000 troops to replenish those lost or incapacitated in the first weeks of the fighting, according to Ukrainian officials. Russia has been hauling ancient tanks out of storage and away from bases across the vast country to throw them onto the front lines in Ukraine.

The Russians still have the advantage over Ukrainian forces, who are suffering, too. Ukrainian officials put the number of their soldiers killed in action at as many as 200 a day. The Ukrainians have also almost entirely run out of the Soviet-era ammunition on which their own weapons systems rely, and they are still in the process of transitioning to Western systems.

But conditions for Ukrainian troops are only likely to improve as more sophisticated Western weapons arrive, while those of Russian forces can be expected to deteriorate as they dig deeper into their stocks of old, outdated equipment, said retired Gen. Ben Hodges, a former commander of US forces in Europe who is now with the Center for European Policy Analysis. At some point in the coming months, the Ukrainians will have received enough Western weaponry that it is likely they will be able to go on the counteroffensive and reverse the tide of the war, he said.

“I remain very optimistic that Ukraine is going to win, and that by the end of this year Russia will be driven back to the Feb. 24 line,” he said […]. But my assessment is that things are going to be trending in favor of the Ukrainians in the next few weeks.” […]

It is difficult to predict the future because so much isn’t known about the conditions and strength of Ukrainian forces, said Mattia Nelles, a German political analyst who studies Ukraine. The Ukrainians have maintained a high level of operational secrecy, making it hard to know, for example, how many troops they still have in the Lysychansk area or the true rate of casualties, he said.

Another unknown is the extent of Russian artillery stocks, which Western intelligence agencies had initially underestimated, the Western official said. Expecting a short war in which Ukrainian forces quickly folded, the Russians made no effort to ramp up production before the invasion, and although they have presumably now done so, their defense industrial complex does not have the capacity to keep up with the “enormous” rate at which Russia is expending artillery shells, the Western official said. “Their supply is not infinite,” he said.

And although Ukrainian forces are having a tough time right now, they do not appear in danger of collapse, said Michael Kofman, director of Russian studies at the Center for Naval Analysis (CNA), speaking to the Silverado Policy Accelerator podcast, Geopolitics Decanted. The Ukrainians are continuing to harass Russian forces north of the city of Kharkiv and have made limited gains in a small offensive outside the city of Kherson in southern Ukraine, helping divert Russian resources away from the Donbas front.

The minor territorial gains currently being notched by Russia are less significant “The most significant part of the war isn’t these geographic points, because now it’s a contest of will but also a materiel contest, of who is going to run out of equipment and ammunition and their best units first,” he said. “Both of these forces are likely to get exhausted over the summer, and then there will be an operational pause.” […]

NATO will not take part in the military unblocking of the Black Sea, European Pravda reports. “We don’t feel and don’t think that NATO imposing military options will be of help in this situation. This will lead only to escalation,” said Deputy Secretary-General of NATO Mircea Geoană in an interview with EuroPravda.

Geoană notes the partners are trying to find other solutions. The first is by rail and by land to EU ports. This route, despite its shortcomings, already lets export at least some of the grain. The other issue, which is indeed very complex, is how to have corridors across the Black Sea. That will be done with Russia because Russia is a player in this. Turkey, the NATO ally, is playing a constructive role in trying to find a solution that will be viable. And I believe that the UN is the best actor here, too, he added.

Former Minister of Defense of Ukraine Andriy Zagorodniuk believes that Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea can be unblocked in several ways, but they all involve the military.

2. Consequences and what to do? 

Reznikov explains to the West that the European part of Russia must be demilitarised for security reasons, Ukrayinska Pravda reports. “Oleksii Reznikov, the Minister of Defence of Ukraine, believes that the only way to resume dialogue between the West and Russia may be the demilitarisation of the European part of the aggressor state. Reznikov explained that the Russians’ most recent missile strikes on Ukrainian cities were carried out from the Caspian and Black Seas and the airspace of Belarus, which is pretending not to be a party in the military conflict. According to Reznikov, this is a strategic threat to the security of the entire European continent.

Therefore, Western partners’ rapid response should be to provide Ukraine with modern air and missile defense systems. According to Reznikov, this will create an additional security border of 500-1,000 km for other NATO countries.

In addition, according to the Minister, the sanctions regime must be tightened up so that Russia does not have the opportunity to produce high-tech weapons, including cruise missiles. Reznikov added that many of the components in Russian missiles are manufactured in NATO member states.

Separately, he outlined his vision of long-term measures to ensure peace on the continent. The long-term answer is just as obvious – the condition for dialogue on restoring relations between the civilized world and Russia should be the demilitarisation of at least the European part of the terrorist state. The depth and parameters of demilitarisation should be determined by experts.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda: Now is the time to make NATO even stronger, The Washington Post reports. “Never again” was the oath most widely pledged after the end of World War II. Yet for more than 100 days now, Russia’s brutal war of aggression has been raging in Ukraine. The war has fundamentally challenged the security architecture of the West. NATO’s initial response was admirable. But now we must go further — by making urgently needed adjustments to the alliance and its structure. NATO must adapt to a radically changed security environment.

Russia has been publicly challenging the West for at least the past 15 years. It has tried to gain the upper hand through aggressive action, first in Georgia in 2008, then in Ukrainian Crimea and Donbas in 2014. Despite all this, some Western countries have continued business as usual with Moscow, some even expanding their cooperation. For decades, the West has failed to understand what Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime is about — namely expansionism, revisionism, violence, rule by fear, and coercion. Russia is not interested in creation or cooperation, but rather in destruction and rule by force.

Feb. 24, 2022, was the day when the rose-tinted glasses fell off. Now the countries of the West have imposed stringent sanctions on Russia and are delivering heavy weapons to Ukraine. Europe has started moving toward energy independence from Russia. It might seem as though a lot has been done, but this is not enough to stop the war in Ukraine. And are we really doing enough to stop Putin from continuing his aggression elsewhere?

The time has come to understand that Russia cannot be stopped by persuasion, cooperation, appeasement or concessions. Russia takes such gestures as a sign of weakness, as permission to expand and intensify its onslaught. When Putin hears Western leaders talk about the need to negotiate, the need for a cease-fire, and the need to avoid “humiliating” Russia, he is only encouraged to increase his gamble for world conquest. Recently Putin even compared himself to Peter the Great and openly declared his determination to take back lands previously occupied by the Russian Empire. Such rhetoric clearly demonstrates his contempt for one of the most fundamental pillars of the rules-based international order: the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Putin is clear in his desire to subvert Western values, cut the links between North America and Europe, and subdue Europe to Russia’s will. He knows that he can achieve these aims by confronting NATO. We can prevent this from happening by ensuring that the transatlantic community has a clear plan for defense. We are at a crucial moment in history, one where we must show decisiveness and determination. The NATO summit scheduled to start on June 29 in Madrid will be our chance to do so.

First, we must clearly define Russia as an explicit long-term threat to the entire Euro-Atlantic area. NATO policies must be adjusted accordingly. There is no place for passive hesitation and appeasement.

Second, we must scale up our defenses. We can no longer place our faith in the policy of tentative reinforcement. We need to make sure that NATO has no weaknesses. It is crucial that no potential adversary should be tempted to attack the alliance. […]

Third, we must make sure Ukraine wins. We must provide every form of support to Ukraine, including (and most especially) heavy weapons, quickly and in significant quantities. Time and numbers matter in this war. We must understand that every centimeter of Ukrainian land occupied by Putin’s forces brings Russian terror closer to our door. We must understand that this war is about the world we and our children are going to live in. Values cannot defend themselves. If left undefended, they will perish, and democracy will be replaced by authoritarianism. We need to choose between succumbing or standing up for our values. We need to choose Ukraine.

And finally, NATO’s “open-door policy” must be officially maintained as the most effective tool in expanding security and providing peace for millions of Europeans. We should wholeheartedly welcome Sweden and Finland into the alliance. This decision will have a wide-ranging positive impact on the Baltic region and NATO as a whole.

To be truly safe and stable, Europe must be whole and free, united in peace, democracy, and prosperity. For this future to become a reality, the success of NATO as the backbone of collective defense spanning the whole transatlantic area is crucial. This also means that the alliance will have to reinvent itself. Only by being more proactive, investing more in our indivisible security, and making it more difficult for adversaries to wreak havoc can we hope to achieve the return of lasting peace in Europe.”

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