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Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 466: Ukraine continues to signal the counteroffensive is about to start

Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 466: Ukraine continues to signal the counteroffensive is about to start
Article by: Hans Petter Midttun

Ukraine continues to signal the counteroffensive is about to start. Russia’s air attack repelled on approach to Kyiv. Explosions and drone attacks in Russia and occupied territories.

Daily overview — Summary report, June 4

Source: War Mapper.

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 18.00 pm, June 4, 2023 is in the dropdown menu below:

Situation in Ukraine. June 3, 2023. Source: ISW.

 

[The Russian Federation continues to wage a war of aggression. Despite the significant losses, they do not give up trying to occupy Ukrainian territory.]

[The enemy continues to disregard the laws and customs of war, and uses terror tactics, strikes, and strikes at both military and civilian targets.] Tonight, the Russian occupiers launched another missile attack on Ukraine. Information regarding the consequences of this terrorist attack is currently being clarified.

Yesterday, the enemy launched 2 missile strikes on the Donetsk and Dnipropetrovsk regions, in particular, using the Iskander OTRK. One Iskander-K missile hit the suburbs of Dnipro – a two-story residential building was damaged, and more than 20 civilians were moderately and severely injured, including children. In addition, the enemy carried out 30 airstrikes and fired 56 rocket salvo fire systems at the positions of our troops and populated areas.

The probability of launching missile and air strikes throughout the territory of Ukraine remains high.

The enemy continues to focus its main efforts on attempts to completely occupy the Luhansk and Donetsk regions. During the past day, 23 combat clashes took place.

  • Volyn’ and Polissya axes: the operational situation has not changed significantly.
Luhansk Battle Map. June 3, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Sivershchyna and Slobozhanshchyna axes: the enemy carried out an airstrike in the Gatishche district, Kharkiv region. He carried out mortar and artillery shelling of the settlements of Gremyach, Gai, Dmytrivka, Chernihiv region; Atynske, Bezsalivka, Oleksandrivka, Yunakivka, Mogrytsia, Stepok, Velika Pisarivka of the Sumy region, as well as Ivashki, Udy, Veterinary, Kozacha Lopan, Hoptivka, Visoka Yaruga, Pilna, Zelene, Vesele, Staritsa, Okhirtseve, Gatyshche, Vovchansk, Vilcha, Bochkove, Budarky and Chugunivka in Kharkiv Oblast.
  • Kupiansk axis: during the past day, the enemy conducted unsuccessful offensive actions near Novoselivskyi, Luhansk region. He carried out airstrikes in the Sergiyvka area of the Donetsk region. Massyutivka, Lyman Pershiy, Kislivka, Tabaivka, and Berestov in the Kharkiv region and Novoselivske in the Luhansk region were subjected to enemy artillery and mortar attacks.
Donetsk Battle Map. June 3, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Lyman axis: during the past day, the enemy conducted unsuccessful offensive actions in the area of Bilogorivka, Luhansk region, and Spirnyi – Donetsk region. He carried out airstrikes in the areas of Belogorivka, Luhansk region, and Siversk, Donetsk region. Areas of Makiivka, Nevske, and Bilogorivka in the Luhansk region and Verkhnokamianske, Torske, Spirne and Rozdolivka in the Donetsk region were hit by artillery fire.
Bakhmut Battle Map. June 3, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Bakhmut axis: the enemy carried out offensive actions in the direction of Ivanivskyi and Bila Hora, without success. He carried out airstrikes in the districts of Kurdyumivka and Bila Gora of the Donetsk region. Areas of settlements of Vasyukivka, Orikhovo-Vasylivka, Chasiv Yar, Sloviansk, Ivanivske, Predtechine, Bila Hora, New York and Shevchenko of Donetsk region were affected by enemy artillery shelling.
  • Avdiivka axis: the enemy did not conduct offensive Airstrikes in the Avdiivka area. He carried out artillery fire on the settlements of Avdiivka, Pervomaiske, Nevelske, and Karlivka in the Donetsk region.
  • Marinka axis: the enemy carried out offensive actions in the area of the city of Marinka last day, however, our defenders repelled all 11 enemy attacks. The enemy suffered significant losses in manpower and equipment. At the same time, the enemy continues to destroy our cities and villages, carried out an airstrike on Marinka, carried out artillery shelling of Maksimilianivka, Mariinka, Pobyeda, Novomykhailivka, Antonivka, Katerynivka, and Yantarne settlements in the Donetsk region.
  • Shakhtarske axis: the enemy carried out airstrikes in the areas of Vuhledar and Prechistivka of the Donetsk region. It shelled populated areas along the battle line, in particular, Vuhledar, Prechistivka, and Novoukrayinka in the Donetsk region.
Zaporizhzhia Battle Map. June 3, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Zaporizhzhia and Kherson axes: The enemy continues to conduct defensive He carried out airstrikes in the Poltavka and Gulyaipole districts of the Zaporizhzhia region. He carried out artillery shelling of the settlements of Vremivka, Zelene Pole, Donetsk region; Burlatske, Malynyvka, Biloghirya, Mala Tokmachka, Novodanilivka, Novoandriyivka, Kamianske, Lukyanivske and Komyshuvakha of the Zaporizhzhia region, as well as Zolota Balka, Zmiivka, Beryslav, Burgunka, Ivanivka, Dachi, Zimivnyk, Bilozerka, Dniprovske, Kizomys of the Kherson region and the city of Kherson.
Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. June 3, 2023. Source: ISW.

In Svatovo, Luhansk region, on June 2, about 40 servicemen of the Russian occupation forces, who voluntarily left their combat positions, deserted. To search for Russian deserters, 2 Russian helicopters and a unit of the Russian Guard of the occupiers were involved.

[Russian occupying forces continue to put pressure on Ukrainian citizens and violate human rights in the temporarily occupied territories. In particular, in Henichesk, Kherson Oblast, in the basements of the building of the former tax inspectorate, citizens of Ukraine with a pro-Ukrainian position are forcibly detained.]

[At the same time, the Russian occupiers continue to use the infrastructure of temporarily occupied settlements to provide medical care to their wounded servicemen. Recently, in the settlement of Skadovsk, Kherson Oblast, on the territory of a kindergarten, the invaders set up a field hospital, where more than 50 occupiers with injuries of varying degrees of severity are being treated.]

Over the past day, the Ukrainian Air Force forces have struck 11 strikes on personnel concentration areas, as well as 6 strikes on the enemy’s anti-aircraft missile systems.

Our defenders destroyed 6 enemy reconnaissance UAVs, as well as 2 Lancet-type attack UAVs.

During the past day, Ukrainian missile and artillery units hit the control post, an anti-aircraft missile complex, 6 artillery units in firing positions and 3 enemy ammunition depots.

Military Updates

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst.

Russia’s air attack repelled on approach to Kyiv, Ukraine says, Reuters reports. “Russia launched a wave of air attacks on Ukraine early on Sunday, with air defence systems repelling all missiles and drones on their approach to Kyiv, the capital’s military officials said.

According to preliminary information, not a single air target reached the capital, Serhiy Popko, the head of the military administration, said on the Telegram messaging app early on Sunday. Air defence destroyed everything that was heading towards the city already at their distant approaches.”

Four cruise missiles and three attack drones were downed night of 4 June, the Ukrainian General Staff reports. “From 01:00 a.m. to 04:00 a.m. on June 4, 2023, the enemy used five Iranian attack UAVs “Shahed-136/131” from the Bryansk region, as well as six Kh-101/Kh-555 air-based cruise missiles fired from six Tu-95ms strategic bombers from the Caspian region.

Four cruise missiles and three attack drones were destroyed by the forces and means of air defence of the Air Force

Drone shot down in Crimea’s Dzhankoi, says Moscow-installed official, Reuters reports. “A drone was shot down in Dzhankoi in Crimea, a Russian-installed official in the peninsula that Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014, [alleged] on Sunday. There is damage to windows in several houses in a residential district” from the overnight incident, Oleg Kryuchkov, an adviser in the Moscow-installed administration of Crimea, posted on the Telegram messaging app. […] Reuters could not independently verify the report.

Russia has a military air base near Dzhankoi. Ukrainian officials have long said the city and surrounding areas have been turned into Moscow’s largest military base in Crimea.”

Explosions in Russian-occupied Berdiansk, Russians claim they shot down 6 missiles, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing  Berdiansk City Military Administration and Berdiansk Today Telegram channel. “The Berdiansk City Military Administration reported that at least eight explosions occurred in Berdiansk. Russian air defence was activated today, so we are waiting for more information about the strikes, the administration said.

Berdiansk Today said the city was hit more than 10 times. It said explosions were heard near the port and the airfield. Berdiansk Today also reported that Russian vessels were leaving the Berdiansk port.

Satellite imagery of consequences of Berdiansk port attack published, Ukrinform reports. “Imagery of the consequences of the attack on the port in temporarily occupied Berdiansk, Zaporizhzhia region, has been published. Damage from a recent strike on the port of Russian-occupied Berdiansk is visible in new satellite imagery. This site is more than 90 kilometres from the front line in Ukraine, OSINT analyst Brady Africk posted on Twitter.”

Loud explosions resound in Melitopol, and heavy smoke was seen over the city, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Ivan Fedorov, Mayor of Melitopol. “A series of loud explosions were heard in the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol, Zaporizhzhia Oblast. Heavy smoke was seen rising to the north of the city. Melitopol residents have reported five loud explosions which were heard clearly in the northern part of the city. We’re establishing the details.”

Explosion near the railway in Melitopol – mayor, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Mayor of Melitopol Ivan Fedorov. “An explosion occurred on a railway used by the Russians to transport personnel and military equipment. The incident took place not far from the occupied Melitopol, Zaporizhzhia Oblast. […] On 2 June, a car with four collaborators inside was blown up in the occupied Mykhailivka, Zaporizhzhia Oblast.

Two drones attacked fuel and energy facilities in Russia’s Smolensk region, – governor, Censor.net reported on Friday, citing RIA-News. “Two unmanned aerial vehicles attacked fuel and energy facilities in the Smolensk region of Russia. Two drones attacked fuel and energy facilities in the Smolensk region, with no critical damage, fires or casualties, the acting governor said,” the statement said. No details of the attack are currently known.”

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

  • Some local Russian security officials are likely interpreting Russia’s draconian wartime legislation to mean that public display of blue and yellow items is outlawed because it might evidence discreet support for Ukraine.
  • On 09 May 2023, a care home worker was reportedly arrested after wearing a blue and yellow jacket to work. In recent days, Russian National Guard troops arrested a 22 year old man in Volkhov near St Petersburg for displaying which was eventually determined to be the blue and yellow flag of Russia’s own Aerospace Forces.
  • The clampdown highlights uncertainty within a paranoid Russian officialdom of what is and is deemed permissible within an increasingly totalitarian system. Criticism of the arrests has come from an unexpected quarter: the ultra-nationalist, pro-war Liberal Democratic party. The party’s own branding features yellow on a blue background.
  • Russia has continued to redeploy regular units to the Bakhmut sector, as Wagner Group assault detachment complete their withdrawal to rear areas.
  • Russian VDV (airborne forces) have assumed an increasingly important role in Bakhmut: elements of the 76th and 106th divisions and two additional separate VDV brigades are now deployed to the sector.
  • The VDV is much degraded from its pre-invasion ‘elite’ status. However, Russian commanders have likely attempted to maintain some of these still relatively capable units as an uncommitted reserve. Because they have instead been forced to deploy them to hold the front line in Bakhmut, the whole Russian force is likely to be less flexible in reacting to operational challenges.

Losses of the Russian army 

Losses of Russian Army. Source: Euromaidan Press.

As of Sunday 4 June, the approximate losses of weapons and military equipment of the Russian Armed Forces from the beginning of the invasion to the present day:

  • Personnel – about 209940 (+470)
  • Tanks – 3837 (+8)
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 7512 (+10)
  • Artillery systems – 3555 (+22)
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 583 (+1)
  • Air defence means – 344 (+2)
  • Aircraft – 313 (+0)
  • Helicopters – 298 (+0)
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 6305 (+16)
  • Vessels/boats – 18 (+0)
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 3175 (+10)
  • Special equipment – 479 (+4)
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0)
  • Cruise missiles – 1132 (+0)

Prigozhin says Kremlin factions are destroying the Russian state, Reuters reports. “Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Saturday that Kremlin factions were destroying the state by trying to sow discord between him and Chechen fighters. That row had now been settled but infighting in the Kremlin had opened a Pandora’s Box of rifts, he said. […]

But he laid the blame for the discord on unidentified Kremlin factions – which he calls “Kremlin towers”. Their scheming had got so out of hand that Putin had been forced to scold them at a Security Council meeting, he said. Pandora’s Box is already open – we are not the ones who opened it, Prigozhin said in a message posted by his press service. Some Kremlin tower decided to play dangerous games. Dangerous games have become commonplace in the Kremlin towers…they are simply destroying the Russian state.

He did not identify the Kremlin faction but said that it continued its attempts to sow discord, it would have hell to pay. The Kremlin did not comment on his remarks. Putin held a Security Council meeting of Friday about what he said were “interethnic” relations inside the country. […] Prigozhin also said any battle between Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov‘s Akhmat special forces and Wagner would result in serious bloodshed but there was no doubt who would win.

He also again vented his anger about the current state of the war and the culpability of Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov. The ministry of defence is not in a state to do anything at all as it de-facto doesn’t exist – it is in chaos, Prigozhin said. The defence ministry did not respond to a request for comment. Niether Shoigu nor Gerasimov have commented in public about Prigozhin’s comments.”

Russia begins to strengthen its border with cadets: they were given small arms and grenade launchers, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the Ukrainian General Staff. “Russian invaders began using cadets of higher military educational institutions to protect the border; they are armed with small arms and grenade launchers.

The military leadership of the Russian Federation decided to strengthen the state border with cadets of higher military educational institutions. By 31 May, about 200 third-year cadets armed with small arms and grenade launchers have been sent to the western border of the Russian Federation under the pretext of an internship.”

Humanitarian 

Attack on Dnipro’s suburbs: number of people injured rises to 20, including 5 children, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Serhii Lysak, Head of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast Military Administration and State Emergency Service of Ukraine. “On Saturday evening, the Russians attacked the Pidhorodne hromada near Dnipro. The State Emergency Service of Ukraine reports that at around 21:00 on 3 June, as a result of a missile attack on the suburbs of Dnipro, two two-storey residential buildings were hit and two fires broke out.

The number of people injured in a Russian missile attack on the Pidhorodne hromada in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast [a hromada is an administrative unit designating a town, village or several villages and their adjacent territories – ed.] has risen to 20, including 5 children. Three of the children are in a serious condition. […]

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy noted that Russia is once again proving that it is a terrorist state, and the Russians will be held accountable for everything they have done against Ukraine and Ukrainians.”

Law enforcers checked 5,000 shelters in Ukraine, almost 20% of them are unsuitable for use, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Ihor Klymenko, Interior Minister of Ukraine, quoted by the press service of  the Ministry of Internal Affairs. “We checked more than 4,800 shelters across the country. 252 civil protection facilities were found to be closed, and 893 were unsuitable for use.”

On the night of 1 June 2023, during the Russian missile attack in the capital, three people were killed, including a child born in 2013. Residents tried to get into the shelter of a health centre in the Desnianskyi district, but the door was closed. Criminal proceedings have been initiated over this fact.”

Environmental

Situation at Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant remains vulnerable and potentially dangerous – IAEA, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing a statement of the IAEA. “The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant has been cut from external backup power supplies for three months, which makes it extremely vulnerable and dangerous in the event of a single power transmission line failure. It is noted that the ZNPP continues to rely on the only remaining operational 750 kilovolt (kV) power line for the external electricity it needs for reactor cooling and other essential nuclear safety and security functions.

A back-up 330 kV power line that was damaged on 1 March on the other side of the Dnipro River as seen from the Russian-controlled ZNPP still has not been repaired, with Ukraine saying that military action has prevented its experts from safely accessing the location situated in territory it controls to repair the line.

The lack of any back-up options means that when the 750 kV line is cut – as happened most recently on 22 May – Europe’s largest nuclear power plant (NPP) is forced to rely on emergency diesel generators as a last line of defence, clearly an unsustainable situation, the IAEA emphasises. IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi stresses the importance of following the five principles established by the agency to protect the site during military conflict. […]

Russia has not agreed to abide by the five principles outlined by Rafael Grossi on Tuesday, which are supposed to protect the the ZNPP. Ukraine, in turn, suggested adding two more principles to them.”

Emergency response system of ZNPP shut down due to Russians’ actions, Ukrainska Pravda reported on Friday, citing the press service of the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate (SNRI). “The Russians have almost completely degraded the emergency readiness and response system at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP). The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is yet to react to this situation.

The occupiers continue to put great pressure on the ZNPP staff, resorting to intimidation, searching private residencies of the employees, banning any contact with those currently in the Ukraine-controlled territory. They’ve been hindering the attempts of the ZNPP staff to leave the occupied territories and threatening to confiscate their property.

Due to the occupiers dismantling or stealing the important elements of systems, putting computer equipment out of order etc. repairing the physical protection system of the power plant requires significant efforts and resources. The occupiers have almost completely destroyed the emergency response system at the ZNPP, the SNRI reported.

Following the orders of the occupying administration, nuclear terrorists blocked the transfer of information from the automated control system of the radiation background at the ZNPP. The Ukrainian regulator has informed the IAEA about this incident, which is a threat to safety at the ZNPP. IAEA has not yet provided the plan of possible measures it can take in order to put this situation under control, Oleh Korikov, the acting head of SNRI, stated during an online meeting with international partners.

He stressed once again that repairing the nuclear safety and protection systems at the ZNPP is only possible on the condition of full liberation and demilitarisation of the power plant.”

Almost 40 kindergartens hit by Russian shelling in Mykolaiv, Ukrinform reports, citing the Mykolaiv City Council. “In Mykolaiv, 37 kindergartens have been damaged as a result of Russian strikes. Windows and doors were broken in kindergartens, roofs, fences, and playgrounds were destroyed. Despite the fact that combat operations are still underway, the city has begun to restore damaged buildings, the report says. […]

In general, as a result of Russian strikes targeting Mykolaiv, about 100 educational facilities incurred damage. As reported earlier, as a result of Russian aggression, about 400 educational facilities across Ukraine were completely destroyed and almost 3,000 were damaged.”

Occupiers refuse to provide insulin to people without Russian passports in Zaporizhzhia, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the National Resistance Center. “In the temporarily occupied territories of Zaporizhzhia Oblast, people with diabetes cannot receive insulin if they do not have a Russian passport. Insulin is not even given out to Ukrainian citizens who are collecting it for their children.”

By doing this, the occupiers are trying to force local residents to obtain Russian passports, the National Resistance Center noted. Russian invaders in the temporarily occupied territories of Kherson Oblast are forcing residents to obtain Russian passports by 1 September, threatening to cut off their electricity supply, confiscate their property, and forcibly evict them.”

Experts, politicians, diplomats meet in Warsaw to discuss return of Ukrainian children abducted by Russia, Ukrinform reports. “The leadership of Russia and all those involved in the abduction of Ukrainian children must be held accountable for this, and Ukrainian children must be returned to Ukraine. Ukrainian and Polish experts, politicians, diplomats and journalists emphasized this during the ‘Deportation of Ukrainian Children to Russia’ conference, which was held in the Senate of the Republic of Poland.

In her speech, President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola noted that there is something deeply inhumane about Putin’s abduction of Ukrainian children and their russification. Over 16,000 children were forcibly taken to Russia. According to Metsola, such actions are carried out in violation of the Ukrainian and international law. It is the crime of genocide, and it must not go unpunished.

Metsola emphasized that the EU stands in solidarity with Ukraine and is doing everything possible for the safe return of each Ukrainian child home. In her words, the EU provides support for the efforts to collect, document and preserve evidence regarding human rights violations and crimes committed during Russia’s war against Ukraine, in particular those related to the abduction and deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia.

Marshal of the Senate of the Republic of Poland Tomasz Grodzki mentioned that Russia’s abduction of Ukrainian children is a huge tragedy, resembling the worst in the history of mankind. He called the return of Ukrainian children home as soon as possible a task for the entire civilized world. Grodzki expressed hope that, sooner or later, Putin and his entourage would be brought to justice, as their attempts to russificate Ukrainian children must not go unpunished.

Ambassador of Ukraine to the Republic of Poland Vasyl Zvarych drew attention to the Children of War government portal (childrenofwar.gov.ua), containing the stories of children affected by the Russian invasion, namely those who came back home after Russia’s abduction. In his words, these children describe how they witnessed the murders of their parents, mockery in the so-called recreation camps, humiliation over nationality.

According to Zvarych, a total of 19,484 Ukrainian children were officially confirmed as abducted or forcibly taken to Russia or Belarus by the occupiers. Some 4,390 of them are orphans. Only 371 children have returned home so far. Zvarych emphasized that Ukraine is making every effort to bring Ukrainian children back. In particular, the Coordination Council for Child Protection and Safety was established, and the Bring Kids Back UA action plan was approved, uniting the efforts of the Ukrainian government and international partners.

The ambassador believes that the priority task now is to disclose the issue of deportation as much as possible, so that the entire world knows about it, and provide assistance to Ukraine and the International Criminal Court (ICC) in collecting the evidence of the involvement of Russia and Belarus in the abduction of Ukrainian children.

Oksana Lytvynenko, a Ukrainian activist and volunteer, spoke about numerous cases of abuse, rape and humiliation of Ukrainians who tried to save children from being taken from the occupied areas to Russia.

Marek Michalak, Poland’s former Commissioner for Children’s Rights, noted that Putin’s actions are no different from those committed by Hitler in the middle of the last century. He expressed confidence that Russia would be held accountable for its crimes against Ukrainian children and the Ukrainian people.”

Support

The West did everything possible to prepare Ukraine for counteroffensive – White House, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing John Kirby, the White House National Security Council Strategic Communications coordinator and Ukrinform. “The United States believes that, together with its allies, it has provided Ukraine with proper military assistance to conduct a counteroffensive. We are very pleased that as of now we have met the needs of Ukraine to conduct its counteroffensive. When they start it is up to them, but we are sure that we have done everything possible, and when I say ‘we’, I mean not only the United States but also our allies and partners, Kirby said.

He added that he was referring not only to air defence systems but also to armoured vehicles, artillery, ammunition, and military exercises, which the Armed Forces of Ukraine will need even more as they advance. Military operations are a dynamic thing, and we must be sure that we are also dynamically ready to support them in the future. So, we have done a lot and are ready to continue to do a lot over the next days and months, the White House representative assured.”

Yermak: Netherlands to help increase number of Patriot systems for Ukraine, Ukrinform reports. “The Government of the Netherlands will work towards increasing the number of Patriot systems for Ukraine. We are working on a relevant coalition, Head of the President’s Office Andriy Yermak posted on Telegram.

As reported, Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte said at the end of May that the country was seriously considering the possibility of providing Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets but had not made a final decision yet.”

TPz 1 Fuchs: Ukraine will receive German armored personnel carriers, mil.in.ua reports. “Ukraine will receive modernized German TPz 1 Fuchs wheeled armored personnel carriers from industrial stocks. The ESUT reports about this. Armored vehicles will be modernized in Ukraine at a joint venture being currently created by Rheinmetall together with the Ukrainian Ukroboronprom State Concern, after which they will be supplied to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

The enterprise is planned to open in mid-July. Subsequently, Rheinmetall plans to establish serial production of armored personnel carriers as part of strategic cooperation. Such plans were previously announced by the CEO of Rheinmetall, Armin Papperger.

The most important element of upgrading the basic Fuchs APC is to improve its protection. Technically, the armored personnel carriers must reach or exceed the level of the latest version of the TPz Fuchs 1A8. The publication also notes that new versions of the Fuchs armored personnel carrier should be developed within the framework of technology transfer.

In particular, the idea of creating a variant of a wheeled infantry fighting vehicle is presented. For this purpose, in the rear part of the vehicle, it is planned to install a turret from the Marder infantry fighting vehicle, which is armed with a 20-mm RH 202 autocannon and a 7.62-mm MG3 machine gun paired with it.”

EU Foreign Affairs and Security Representative discusses Ukraine’s ammunition needs with South Korean Defence Minister, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, has held a meeting with South Korean Defence Minister Lee Jong-sup. […] Good meeting with Korean Defence Minister Lee Jong-sup at [Shangri-La Dialogue 2023]. Shared alarm at continued D​PRK provocations and discussed Ukraine’s needs for ammunition. We are working together to build a new security and defence partnership, following up on our successful summit.

On 23 May, Borrell said that since the beginning of the year, EU countries have transferred more than 200,000 pieces of ammunition, as well as 1,300 missiles, to Ukraine. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has urged the Alliance member states to agree to increase ammunition production with defence contractors, as their stockpiles of ammunition are being depleted due to support for Ukraine.”

Ukrainian Foreign Minister is outraged by slow introduction of sanctions against manufacturers of Russian drones and missiles, Ukrainska Pravda reported Friday. “Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called on partners to quicken the introduction of sanctions against Russian companies producing drones and missiles used for large-scale attacks on Ukraine. According to the Foreign Minister, since November 2022, Ukraine has handed  to partners  a list of 36 companies of the Russian military-industrial complex, against which they were asked to introduce restrictions.

From the list that we asked to sanction, frankly, only a small part of the companies were. And what do we see? Continuous missile attacks, continuous drone attacks. Almost every day, Ukrainians cannot sleep at night because of the air-raid warnings, he stressed.

Kuleba said that if this situation continues, Kyiv will have to bring the openness of this public conversation to an even higher level, with countries’ names and with explanations of why this or that country does not want to apply these sanctions. And then let our colleagues explain publicly to their citizens, the citizens of Ukraine – I understand when it comes to trade restrictions – what is the problem with applying sanctions against a Russian factory that cobbles together missiles that kill Ukrainians?” the Foreign Minister asked.

It will be interesting to hear what business and political interests are under threat from the introduction of sanctions against Russian missile and drone production,” he added. Russia has significantly stepped up air attacks on Ukraine since the end of March, and in May, Kyiv was hit by night missiles and drones 18 times.”

New Developments

  1. Zelenskyy: We are ready for counteroffensive, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing WSJ. “President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has stated that Ukraine is ready for a counteroffensive as of now. […] We would like to have certain things, but we can’t wait for months. We strongly believe we will succeed; I don’t know how long it will take. […] Earlier, Zelenskyy said thatit is difficult for him to name the date when the counteroffensive will occur.”
  2. Indonesia proposes demilitarised zone, UN referendum for Ukraine peace plan, ReutersIndonesia’s defence minister on Saturday proposed a peace plan to end the war in Ukraine, calling for a demilitarised zone and a United Nations referendum in what he called disputed territory. Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko dismissed the plan, reiterating Kyiv’s position that Russia should withdraw its troops from Ukraine. Prabowo Subianto called on defence and military officials from around the world, gathered at the Shangri-La Dialogue defence meeting in Singapore, to issue a declaration calling for a cessation in hostilities. He proposed a multi-point plan including a ceasefire and establishing a demilitarised zone by withdrawing 15 kilometres (nearly 10 miles) from each party’s forward position. The demilitarised zone should be observed and monitored by a peacekeeping force deployed by the UN, he said, adding that a UN referendum should be held to ascertain objectively the wishes of the majority of the inhabitants of the various disputed areas. I propose that the Shangri-La dialogue find a mode of … voluntary declaration urging both Ukraine and Russia to immediately start negotiations for peace, Prabowo said.”
  3. It is necessary to prevent counteroffensive of Ukrainian army – Orban, net reported on Friday, citing LIGA.net. “Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that the country’s authorities “consider it necessary to prevent a counteroffensive by the Ukrainian army. The Hungarian prime minister called the counteroffensive a bloody massacre. Orban noted that the attacking side will suffer more losses than the defending side, adding that Kyiv may lose more soldiers than Moscow. Before the Ukrainians launch a counterattack, we must do everything in our power to achieve a ceasefire and start peace talks, he concluded.”
  4. White House explains why it does not support calls for ceasefire in Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing John Kirby, Coordinator of the White House National Security Council, as reported by Ukrinform. “We will support the efforts of any country if they help to find a way to a lasting peace that is consistent with the principles of the UN Charter. But we cannot and will not support calls for a ceasefire that will simply freeze existing lines of demarcation, legitimise Russia’s seizure of territory, and allow Putin to increase his control over regions he has already seized, he said. According to Kirby, the introduction of such a “truce” would give Russia time to rest, rearm and prepare for a new potential attack. He also stressed that Russia has yet to show any signs of readiness to engage in diplomacy to achieve a lasting and just peace in Ukraine. Therefore, the United States will continue to support the peace efforts of the Ukrainian side.”
  5. Putin’s press secretary says Russian leader wants to achieve his goals by means other than war, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing TASS. “Russian Presidential Press Secretary, Dmitry Peskov, has said that Vladimir Putin was open to proposals that would enable the Russian Federation to achieve its goals by means other than the war against Ukraine. […] Peskov also said that France does not appear to be a neutral country in terms of the war in Ukraine, and therefore it is unlikely to be an unbiased intermediary. Moreover, Peskov claimed that Ukraine has become a tool in the West’s hybrid war against the Russian Federation and said that trying to settle the conflict with a tool will lead nowhere.”
  6. Zelenskyy suggests that Russia perform “diplomatic exit”, withdrawing from occupied territories without fighting, Ukrainska PravdaVolodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, has said that if Russia wants a “diplomatic direction” in settlement of the war in Ukraine, it should withdraw its troops from the occupied territories without waiting for Ukraine to liberate them by force. […] Zelenskyy expressed confidence that “any other leadership of the Russian Federation will look for a way out of this situation” and even Russian society already understands that the issue of their internal explosion is a matter of time.”
  7. Zelenskyy responded to words of Trump, who would like to end war “in 24 hours“, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing WJS. “I didn’t understand when Donald Trump said that in 24 hours, I would bring Putin and Zelenskyy to the tableand ended the war. He could have done it. But that didn’t happen. Yes, the question was probably not as pressing at the time – because there was no full-scale invasion. But our territories were occupied, the president said
  8. German Chancellor rebukes critics opposed to supplying weapons to Ukraine, Ukrainska PravdaGerman Chancellor Olaf Scholz has delivered an impassioned speech during a pro-European rally in Berlin […]. A group of around 100 pro-Russian activists attended the rally; they were shouting, urging the West to stop arming Ukraine, and booed and heckled Scholz. […] Scholz was undeterred and continued his speech, offering a sharp rebuke to the pro-Russian activists. Putin is the true war-mongerer, he is the one who invaded Ukraine with 200,000 troops. Putin wants to destroy and conquer Ukraine, he stressed. He also said that the loudmouths” at the rally would know that Putin is a war-mongerer if they had even a little bit of brain in their heads. […] Scholz also said that Putin was responsible for the deaths of many people, including children and elderly people, and stressed that peace and freedom are threatened because of this war of aggression.”
  9. Kremlin bans Western journalists from Russia’s ‘Davos’, ReutersThe Kremlin said on Saturday that journalists from “unfriendly countries” would not be allowed into the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, which President Vladimir Putin has used to showcase the Russian economy to global investors. The forum in St Petersburg, the former imperial capital built by Tsar Peter the Great 300 years ago as a “window” to Europe, has been held since 1997 and is cast by many officials as Russia’s answer to the World Economic Forum held in Davos. Western journalists have never before been banned from the forum in such a blanket way. […] When Russia was booming in the 2000s, major Western investors and investment bankers flocked to the forum, seeking a slice of the explosive growth in the first decade of Putin’s rule. In recent years, though, the Westerners have been replaced by Chinese and Arab investors.”
  10. Crimea is shown as part of Russia in Hungarian “peace” video, Ukrainska PravdaThe Hungarian authorities have released a video calling for a speedy peace in Ukraine which depicts Crimea as part of Russian territory. […] Officially, Hungary, like the vast majority of countries in the world, does not recognise the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014.”

Assessment 

https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-june-3-2023*

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of  June 3, 2022:

Russian forces continued limited offensive operations along the Kupiansk-Svatove line on June 3. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations near Novoselivske, Luhansk Oblast (16km northwest of Svatove). A Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian reinforcements arrived during Russian ground attacks near Novoselivske and forced Russian forces to retreat towards Kuzemivka (15km northwest of Svatove). The milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces counter-attacked towards Kuzemivka but that Russian forces repelled the assaults. Other Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces conducted ground attacks near Dvorichna (16km northeast of Kupiansk), Masyutivka (13km northeast of Kupiansk), and Synkivka (9km northeast of Kupiansk).

Russian forces continued limited offensive operations northwest and south of Kreminna on June 3. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations near Makiivka (22km northwest of Kreminna), Bilohorivka (12km south of Kreminna) and Spirne (25km south of Kreminna). A Russian milblogger claimed that fighting in the Makiivka area is ongoing near the R-66 (Kreminna to Svatove) highway and that Russian forces advanced in forests west of Kreminna.

Regular Russian forces have likely largely relieved Wagner Group forces in Bakhmut amid a low offensive tempo in the area as of June 3. Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed on June 2 that 99 percent of Wagner units have left Bakhmut. The UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) reported that degraded Russian Airborne Forces (VDV) elements, including those of the 76th VDV Division, 106th VDV Division, and two unspecified brigades have deployed to the Bakhmut area and are increasing their role in the area. Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Serhiy Cherevaty stated that Russian forces lost 100,000 personnel killed and wounded in the 10-month Bakhmut effort. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive actions 6km west of Bakhmut near Ivanivske. A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian and Ukrainian forces are conducting positional engagements on the northern and southern flanks of Bakhmut. The milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces are strengthening defensive lines in this area because Russian forces aim to restart their offensive effort on June 5, the claimed completion date of the Wagner withdrawal from Bakhmut.

Russian forces on the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line continued to focus their offensive efforts on Marinka (on the southwestern outskirts of Donetsk City) on June 3. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled 14 Russian ground attacks in Marinka and near Oleksandrivka (immediately south of Donetsk City). The Ukrainian General Staff noted that Russian forces did not conduct ground attacks near Avdiivka. Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces gained some territory in northwestern Marinka and that Russian forces will likely attempt to encircle the settlement in June. One milblogger claimed that Russian forces made limited gains north of Avdiivka and complained that Ukrainian forces successfully constrained Russian offensive efforts west of Avdiivka near Krasnohorivka.

Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces continued limited ground attacks in western Donetsk Oblast on June 3. A Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces are attempting to seize the initiative in the Vuhledar direction but there are currently no reports that Ukrainian troops have broken through Russian lines. Another Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces are probing Russian defenses for future attacks near Pavlivka (2km southwest of Vuhledar) and Mykilske (3km southeast of Vuhledar). The Russian MoD claimed that Russian forces struck Ukrainian positions near Russian-controlled Pavlivka, which is consistent with other Russian claims of activity in the area.  None of these claims are particularly anomalous or unusual, and ISW has no independent confirmation of any of them.

Ukrainian officials continue to signal that Ukrainian forces are prepared to start counteroffensive operations. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated in a June 3 interview with the Wall Street Journal that Ukraine is ready to launch a counteroffensive. Zelensky stated that Ukraine “would like to have certain things, but … can’t wait for months” to start counteroffensive operations. Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar stated on June 3 that “military plans love silence” and that she will “discuss something else” in the meantime, likely acknowledging that Ukrainian officials have started to more strictly enforce a regime of informational silence about operations in preparation for upcoming counteroffensives. Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs Ihor Klymenko stated on June 3 that Ukraine has formed all nine brigades of the “Offensive Guard” and that these formations are ready to take part in hostilities at Zelensky’s and Ukrainian Commander in Chief General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi’s orders.

Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin escalated his feud with the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD), likely hoping to draw criticism back to the Russian military leadership and downplay his ongoing conflict with Chechen Republic Head Ramzan Kadyrov. Prigozhin alleged on June 2 that representatives of the MoD placed anti-tank mines and other explosive devices along routes that Wagner forces were using to withdraw from Bakhmut. Prigozhin asserted that these charges were placed in rear areas with no Ukrainian activity and that the MoD likely meant for Wagner forces to detonate the explosives in order to give Wagner a “public flogging.” Prigozhin also further responded to a concerted attack that Chechen commanders launched against him on June 1 and stated on June 3 that he and Kadyrov settled the conflict. Prigozhin claimed that he called Kadyrov on June 1 and the two agreed to let the “whole story” about the conflict dissipate. Prigozhin suggested that a group in the Kremlin may have started the conflict between Kadyrov’s forces and Wagner and insinuated that the Kremlin often plays ”dangerous games” that could destabilize interethnic relations within Russia. Kadyrov has yet to publicly address the conflict between Chechen forces and Wagner.

Prigozhin has not yet responded to Kadyrov or the Chechen commanders who started the attack in an antagonistic manner typical of his usual approach to responding to critiques. The claimed private phone call between Prigozhin and Kadyrov would suggest that Prigozhin is concerned that this typical public response might further antagonize Kadyrov and Chechen commanders and that Prigozhin is concerned about having another prominent silovik figure like Kadyrov aligned against him. Prigozhin likely accused the MoD of trying to kill Wagner forces and the Kremlin of creating the conflict with the Chechen commanders to quickly reorient Russian discussion back to his usual targets of ire, the Russian military and political leadership. Prigozhin is also likely aiming to rally pro-war ultranationalist groups, specifically Kadyrov and Chechen commanders, to join him in criticizing those targets as he has done before.

Prigozhin’s flamboyant allegations are also likely an attempt to retain his heightened initiative within the Russian information space following the capture of Bakhmut. Prigozhin has consistently shaped discussions within the Russian information space leading up to the capture of Bakhmut and following the end of Wagner’s effort in the city by engaging in a near-daily series of public outbursts and demonstrative actions. Prigozhin has used his heightened profile following the capture of Bakhmut to intensify his attacks against the Russian military establishment and elites and bolster his attempt to solidify himself as the central figure of the Russian ultranationalist community. The concerted attack from Chechen commanders represents the first instance since the capture of Bakhmut that Prigozhin has not been the one to initiate larger conversations about himself and the Wagner Group within the Russian information space. Prigozhin’s desire to retain Kadyrov as a potential ally has likely constrained Prigozhin’s regular approach to shaping the Russian information space. Prigozhin has routinely used Wagner’s claimed responsibility for tactical gains to legitimize his pursuit of influence and his criticism of others, and he is likely also concerned that he may soon lose his current ability to dominate discussions about himself and Wagner as Wagner Group forces withdraw to rear areas to replenish and reconstitute. Prigozhin’s dramatic accusation against the MoD aims to remove any constraints resulting from his conflict with Kadyrov, shift the conversation back to criticizing his opponents in the MoD, and allow Prigozhin to continue determining how he and Wagner are portrayed.

Prigozhin seized on general Russian discontent with security on the Belgorod Oblast border to threaten that Wagner Group forces may operate in Russian territory without approval from the Russian military command. Prigozhin claimed that Wagner will not wait for an invitation or permission from the MoD to defend Belgorod Oblast if the MoD does not curb security threats to the region. Prigozhin justified his threat of insubordination by claiming that Wagner aims to protect the Russian people, implying that Wagner will assume the role of border defender that the MoD should already occupy. Prigozhin’s threats capitalize on complaints from other prominent information space voices that Russian authorities have not done enough to protect border areas from the impacts of the war and reflect Prigozhin‘s current loss of informational initiative.

Prigozhin’s threats also indicate that he may aim for Wagner forces to assume primary or sole responsibility for an axis in the Ukrainian theater now that Wagner forces have withdrawn from that role in the Bakhmut area. Prigozhin may see the Belgorod-Ukraine border as an easy enough front line to defend as the raids into Russia have thus far occurred on an extremely limited scale. Deploying Wagner forces to the Belgorod border would allow Prigozhin to maintain his position as a commander of frontline forces without the grueling demands of conducting human wave-style frontal assaults against a heavily fortified Ukrainian city. Prigozhin’s apparent threat to undertake military operations, even defensive ones, on Russian territory without the permission of the Russian MoD is astonishing if it is anything other than flamboyant rhetoric. It implies that Prigozhin regards himself as able to use large military forces loyal to him at his own discretion and beyond the control of the actual Russian military. Russian President Vladimir Putin would have to have tremendous confidence in Prigozhin’s personal loyalty to himself to be at all comfortable with such a situation.

A Russian Duma Deputy stated during a public forum on June 1 that Russia has failed to accomplish any of its articulated goals for the “special military operation” in Ukraine. First Duma Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Affairs Konstantin Zatulin emphasized that of Russia’s officially declared goals at the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine — “denazification, demilitarization, the neutrality of Ukraine, and the protection of the inhabitants of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics”—none have actually been met. Zatulin further noted that as the war has worn on, these goals have ceased to hold actual meaning and suggested that Russian forces should have been more aggressive in efforts to push Ukrainian forces back from the borders of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. Zatulin’s critical observations are noteworthy considering that he is a contributor to the Kremlin-affiliated Valdai Discussion Club, which famously upholds views complementary to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the official Kremlin propaganda line. Zatulin’s apparent views of the war represent an absolute minority within the Russian domestic political environment, as self-censorship and general information space repressions are commonplace. However, such statements coming from a relatively mainstream and well-platformed official suggest that a small subset of the predominant pro-war Russian political faction may feel somewhat empowered to voice discontent and advocate for escalated goals as the war continues.

Key Takeaways

  • Ukrainian officials continue to signal that Ukrainian forces are prepared to start counteroffensive operations.
  • Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin escalated his feud with the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD), likely hoping to draw criticism back to the Russian military leadership and downplay his ongoing conflict with Chechen Republic Head Ramzan Kadyrov. Prigozhin’s flamboyant allegations are also likely an attempt to retain his heightened initiative within the Russian information space following the capture of Bakhmut.
  • Prigozhin seized on general Russian discontent with security on the Belgorod Oblast border to threaten that Wagner Group forces may operate in Russian territory without approval from the Russian military command.
  • A Russian Duma Deputy stated during a public forum on June 1 that Russia has failed to accomplish any of its articulated goals for the “special military operation” in Ukraine.
  • Russian forces continued limited offensive operations along the Kupiansk-Svatove line and northwest and south of Kreminna.
  • Regular Russian forces have likely largely relieved Wagner Group forces in Bakhmut amid a low offensive tempo in the area as of June 3.
  • Russian forces focused offensive operations on the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line near Marinka.
  • Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces continued limited ground attacks in western Donetsk Oblast.
  • Russian forces continued efforts to establish defensive positions in Kherson Oblast.
  • The Russian military leadership is attempting to create and staff new military formations.
  • Likely Ukrainian partisans assassinated a Russian collaborator in occupied Zaporizhzhia Oblast.

Ukraine’s Armed Forces begin to de-mine territory for upcoming counteroffensive – The Washington Post, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing The Washington Post. “Like Russia, Ukraine has laid thousands of mines along its front line. And to advance into occupied territory, its troops now need to get through these lines without tipping off the Russians, who would notice if heavy machinery were brought in or explosions were set off. This means sappers must go out to the fields and quietly remove the mines. They do it by hand. At night.”

The commander of engineers of the 1st Tank Brigade with the call sign Klimat (“Climate”) said this kind of mine-clearing work has been going on for weeks, but he declined to describe precise locations or methods used to deactivate the mines. According to him, once a path has been cleared, signs are set up – sometimes lighted, with the beams facing away from Russian positions.

Also, Ukrainian bomb disposal experts use specially modified vehicles based on the famous German Leopard 2 battle tank and Soviet-designed vehicles, the Meteorit UR-77. Western nations have also sent some modern engineering tanks, including Leopard 2R mine-clearing tanks supplied by Finland, that can plough through minefields.

According to Serhii Matveichuk, a colonel in Ukraine’s Directorate of Engineer Troops, the best option for mine clearance could be a M1150 assault vehicle based on the M1 Abrams, but Ukraine did not receive such equipment. He noted that in general, the Ukrainian army lacks engineering tanks and other similar tools.

According to Ukrainian soldiers, Russia lays its mines in a pattern: one line of anti tank mines, a line of antipersonnel lines alongside booby traps, and then another line of anti tank mines. Drones can be used to spot the anti tank mines, soldiers say, but antipersonnel mines are harder to find.

Matveichuk also said that Russia has created a massive system of engineering barriers that pose a serious obstacle to the mobility of troops. The Washington Post notes that the Ukrainians will have to break through these fortifications in order to regain territory and oust the Russians. And this, in turn, requires special training and equipment, as well as careful reconnaissance to find the weaknesses of the invaders.

In addition, it is noted that the offensive will be harder than the liberation of Ukrainian territories last fall, because the Russians are learning from their mistakes and are also better prepared. The WP emphasises that all this is likely the reason why the long-awaited counteroffensive has not yet begun.”

Russians deliver explosives to chemical plant in Crimea, preparing for provocation, Ukrainian Pravda reports. “Oleksandr Prokudin, Head of Kherson Oblast Military Administration, has said that the Russian invaders are preparing another chemical provocation to stop the Armed Forces of Ukraine and accuse Ukraine of environmental terrorism. 

According to the Resistance Forces, the Russians are preparing another provocation at a chemical plant in Armiansk in temporarily occupied Crimea. They have taken explosives to the Crimea TITAN plant and are mining the area. A possible explosion will cause the release of thousands of tonnes of toxic substances into the atmosphere and lead to a deadly danger to people and the environment.

Prokudin said that in the event of a provocation, residents of Crimea and at least seven other regions of Ukraine, as well as Türkiye and the aggressor country itself, will suffer. He posted a guide for the population with an algorithm of actions in the event of chemical hazards and added that the authorities are constantly monitoring this situation and are ready to respond promptly to all threats that may arise.”

Counter-offensive on track despite Russian missile barrages, Ukrainian defence official says, Reuters reports. “Ukraine’s plans for a counteroffensive against Russian occupation remain on track, its deputy defence minister told Reuters on Saturday, despite an unprecedented wave of missile and drone attacks across the country in recent weeks. Volodymyr V. Havrylov said that alongside cruise missile strikes, Ukraine had faced repeated volleys of ballistic missiles in May, especially in urban centres including the capital, Kyiv. Their primary goal is to stop our counter-offensive and target decision-making centres, he said on the sidelines of Asia’s top security conference, the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

Havrylov called Russia’s heavy use of ballistic missiles in May a last strategic resort and noted that his country’s air defence systems had been more than 90 percent effective against the attacks. For Russia it was a huge surprise to find that the effectiveness of (their ballistic missiles) was almost zero against modern air defence systems, which we received from our partners, he said.

The United States and Germany provided Ukraine advanced Patriot missile batteries this year. Ukraine had already received advanced shorter-range systems such as NASAMS and IRIS-T from Western partners. […]

Havrylov declined to comment about recent drone attacks and border incursions into Russian territory, including some strikes that reached near Moscow. They (Russia) have a lot of internal events that are of course linked to this war, he said. We have a lot of people inside Russia who support Ukraine. […]

Havrylov, who joined defence and military officials from all over the world at the Singapore meeting, said Ukraine expects NATO allies to provide a detailed roadmap to membership at the defence pact’s summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, next month. We want to see a clear… set of steps to be taken by both sides, he said. Not just an indication that the door is open. He added that Ukraine also expected guarantees of security to be provided while the country is in a transition period on the way to membership.

He dismissed a proposal by Indonesia’s defence minister at the Singapore meetings to establish a demilitarised zone to halt the fighting in Ukraine, saying: We are not going to negotiate any deal related to loss of our territory, including Crimea.

Havrylov praised the recent supply of British Storm Shadow cruise missiles, which British defence minister Ben Wallace said on Friday had not missed any targets Ukraine had attacked. The addition of modern fighter aircraft such as F-16s would improve the country’s air defence capabilities, Havrylov said. He said he could not comment on whether Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb, another long-range strike weapon Western allies have provided this year, had been used in combat yet.”

Gen Petraeus: Counteroffensive of Armed Forces of Ukraine will be impressive, Ukrinform reports. “General David Petraeus, former director of the CIA, believes that the counteroffensive of the Ukrainian army will be impressive and will culminate in the first three to four days. […]

My sense is that they will achieve combined arms effects in other words, they will successfully carry out combined arms operations where you have engineers that are breaching the obstacles and diffusing the minefields and so forth; armour following right on through protected by infantry against anti-tank missiles; air defence keeping the Russians aircraft off them; electronic warfare jamming their radio networks; logistics right up behind them; artillery and mortars right out in front of them, Petraeus told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme after visiting Kyiv and meeting with President Zelensky, The Guardian reports.

Petraeus added that the lead elements inevitably culminate after 72-96 hours. Speaking of Crimea, he noted that Ukraine, in his opinion, will cut the ability of the Russians to resupply Crimea and begin the process of isolating Crimea. When asked about the liberation of Crimea, he said: Not in this counteroffensive. But if they can get to the point of beginning to isolate Crimea, I think that changes the dynamics very, very substantially, the General added.”

Tanks play crucial role in Ukraine’s counter-offensive – Chairman of US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Ukrainska Pravda reported Friday, citing CNN. “General Mark Milley, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, has stressed the importance of tanks for Ukraine’s future counter-offensive. The US general said the tanks would provide decisive firepower in the counter-offensive by the Ukrainian Defence Forces. Tanks are very important, both for the defense and the offense. Upgraded modern tanks, the training that goes with it, the ability to use them will be fundamental to Ukrainian success, Milley stated.

He noted that when the counter-offensive begins, tanks will operate together with artillery, infantry and other ground forces. Meanwhile, Milley stressed that the issue of supplying F-16 jets is part of a long-term plan to equip Ukraine. Everyone recognizes that Ukraine needs a modernized air force and everyone knows that. It’s going to take a considerable length of time, effort, money, to build that air force, the general emphasised.”

Russia has not struck Ukraine from territory of Belarus since autumn, – Air Force, Censor.net reports, citing the spokesman of the Air Force of Ukraine Yuriy Ihnat, with reference to Radio Svoboda. “The enemy is currently attacking from the territory of Russia. They have no special need (to attack from the territory of Belarus). Since the fall, we have not seen the enemy using its weapons from the territory of Belarus. Usually, it is Briansk and Kursk regions, Ihnat said.

Ihnat also explained why it was quieter in Kyiv that night. It depends on what [weapon is being used]. Last time there was ballistics. It cannot be shot down at long range, because the range of the Patriot is short – a few tens of kilometres. And cruise missiles can be shot down not only by this system, but also by other systems, even by mobile groups, and by aircraft. That’s why cruise missiles can be shot down on the outskirts of the city, at the targets they want to hit, he added.”

They have no systemic approach, – Ihnat about latest enemy air attacks on Ukraine, Censor.net reports, citing the spokesman of the Ukrainian Air Force, Yuriy Ihnat, with reference to RBC-Ukraine.Recently, Russia has been using its weapons atypically in attacks on the territory of Ukraine. In particular, it has begun to make more use of ballistic missiles. He noted that ballistic missiles cannot be shot down at long range. […]

Ihnat noted that Russians have recently been using their weapons in an atypical way. In particular, they have been actively using ballistic weapons such as Iskanders. He hits us with those Iskanders when he thinks we don’t expect it. But, as you can see, Iskanders are being shot down both in the skies of the capital and on the outskirts. We can say that they do not have a systematic approach, the spokesman said.

He noted that the occupiers usually attack Ukraine with kamikaze drones from 23:00. By 4:00, the drones are circling in the sky, and our soldiers are hunting them all over the country. At the same time, cruise missiles are flying at night – from 1:00 to 3:00. Ihnat noted that with their attacks, the Russians are trying to hit certain targets in the capital, deplete our air defence system, as well as keep the population on edge and spread panic.”

  1. Consequences and what to do?

Hans Petter Midttun: The West – the US and its allies and partners did everything possible to prepare Ukraine for a counteroffensive, John Kirby, the White House National Security Council Strategic Communications coordinator stated.  

We are very pleased that as of now we have met the needs of Ukraine to conduct its counteroffensive.”

His statement was an echo of those of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

The North Atlantic Alliance has provided Ukraine with enough military assistance to liberate the territories seized by Russia, […] I am confident that Ukraine now has the capacity to liberate the occupied territories. But we need to do more.”

The West has been asking Ukraine what it needs to defend itself since the first Ramstein meeting on 26 April 2022. Ukraine has, however, been asking for defence support since 2014.

Despite the statements of having provided Ukraine with what it needs to succeed – or rather conduct the first of many counteroffensives – the Ukrainian narrative is far more sobering. After a week in Kyiv, I have yet to meet one expert or analyst agreeing on the Western assessments. More crucially, Ukraine has been clear throughout that while being grateful for the support provided, it still lacks several of the tools needed to proceed.

President Zelensky’s latest statement is quite telling.

We are ready for counteroffensive. We would like to have certain things, but we can’t wait for months.”

Instead of asking Ukraine what it needs to liberate the occupied territories, the West should wargame the counteroffensive themselves to establish Ukrainian requirements to succeed. They have the situational appreciation needed to develop operational estimates, concepts of operations and operational plans as the basis for generic force generation. This would allow the West to further improve its strategic appraisal and provide real-time advice on the tools needed to evict Russian forces from Ukraine.

The process would allow the US and Europe to establish realistic timelines for not only the defence aid but also a better understanding of the urgent requirement to mobilise the defence industry. More crucially, it would help establish critical Ukrainian vulnerabilities and, consequently, possible options to close the military gaps identified.

Ukraine lacks air defence to protect its biggest cities. Except for Kyiv, most cities sustain damage when exposed to air and missile strikes. All sectors are exposed to daily airstrikes and Russian Air Force suffers few losses. This indicates that the forthcoming counteroffensive is vulnerable to Russian Air Power for the lack of air defence.

As previously stressed, Ukraine has only partial air control. According to the US Air Force, Airspace Control is inherently joint and intrinsically all domains (Land, Maritime and Air). Airspace control is required to enhance air and missile defence; facilitate joint fires; enhance and support movement, manoeuvre, and employment of land component forces, conduct fleet defence and project power from naval surface forces; maximize the effectiveness of operations conducted in, from, and through the air; and integrate and synchronize all-domain operations to create synergistic effects and achieve Joint Forces Commander’s objectives. Ukraine cannot establish most of the effects described above due to a lack of modern, western-made combat aircraft. The vulnerability has a direct impact on the forthcoming counteroffensive and only NATO (or its member states) are in a position to fill the gap quickly.

The Ukrainian economy is for several reasons, no longer viable. It is exposed to massive destruction because of the war influencing the industrial and agricultural foundation, tourism, financial market, international investments, and more. It is not least, suffering the consequences of a maritime blockade. Ukraine might not have the tools needed to break the blockade for decades. Only NATO or its member states possess the tools needed to re-establish maritime trade in the Black Sea.

The three examples of critical vulnerabilities would be some of the outcomes of a Western operational planning process. Instead of waiting for Ukrainian requests, the West would be able to provide advice and timely support.

The slow and incremental supply of Western defence aid serves as evidence that the West has failed to plan and prepare for the Ukrainian offensive.

In my humble opinion, Western politicians urgently need to ask for military advice from their own armed forces instead of providing political statements like “We have met the needs of Ukraine to conduct its counteroffensive” or “Ukraine has everything it needs to start the counteroffensive” when it is obviously for anyone with a basic military background that this is not true.

The present situation – the lack of Western military advice – is alarming bearing in mind that the West continue to respond to the developing military situation, leaving Russia the initiative to shape the battlefield and, consequently, accepting a protracted war it’s not properly prepared to sustain.

Acknowledging that NATO is exposed to a Russian hybrid war would be a starting point for accepting a greater responsibility for defending European democracy, values and principles against a war that has already started.

Deciding to act involves risks. Risk aversion, however, does not reduce risks. Quite the opposite: Doing nothing has contributed to the war in Europe. It’s time to change the dynamic and start shaping the battlefield.

 

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