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Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 468: Russians blow up a hydropower plant, Kherson is flooding

Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 468: Russians blow up a hydropower plant, Kherson is flooding

Russians blow up a hydropower plant. Kherson is flooding. Authorities begin evacuation. World leaders call Russian attack on Kakhovka plant a “war crime.”

World leaders call Russian attack on Kakhovka plant a “war crime”

Daily overview — Summary report, June 6

Source: War Mapper.

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 18.00 pm, June 6, 2023 is in the dropdown menu below:

 

“[The Russian Federation continues to wage a war of aggression, regardless of losses. To achieve their goals, Russians continue to use terror tactics, launch air strikes and attack civilian objects, in particular, residential areas.]

This night, the Russian Federation again launched a massive missile attack on Ukraine. During the attack, the enemy used 35 cruise missiles. However, all of them were destroyed in the air by other defenders.

Over the past day, the enemy launched 4 missiles and 64 airstrikes and launched 64 MLRS attacks on the positions of our troops and populated areas. Unfortunately, in addition to the destroyed infrastructure, civilians suffered.

The probability of launching missile and air strikes on the entire territory of Ukraine remains very high.

The enemy continues to focus its main efforts on attempts to completely occupy the Luhansk and Donetsk regions. During the past day, more than 40 combat clashes took place.

  • Volyn’ and Polissya axes: the operational situation has not changed significantly, and no signs of the formation of offensive groups have been detected. The Republic of Belarus continues to support Russian armed aggression – training of enemy units continues on its training grounds.
Luhansk Battle Map. June 5, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Sivershchyna and Slobozhanshchyna axes: the enemy continues to maintain a military presence in the areas bordering Ukraine. Over the past day, the enemy launched a missile attack on the city of Kharkiv, using 3 S-300 missiles. He also carried out airstrikes in the Seredyna-Buda districts of the Sumy region and Ohirtseve and Gatyshche of the Kharkiv region. He carried out mortar and artillery shelling of the settlements of Seredyna Buda, Baranivka, Bunyakyne, Stari Virky, Atynske, Volfyne, Obody, Yastrubyne, Kindrativka, Myropyllya, Krasnopillya, Velyka Pisarivka, Shevchenkove, Oleksandrivka of the Sumy region, as well as Basove, Sotnytskyi Kozachok, Guryev Kozachok, Udy, Veterinarne, Visoka Yaruga, Hlyboke, Lukyantsi, Staritsa, Ohirtseve, Gatishche, Pletenivka, Vovchansk, Mykolaivka, Nesterne, Budarky, Zarubinka, Shevyakivka, Odradne in Kharkiv region.
  • Kupiansk axis: during the past day, artillery and mortar attacks were carried out by the enemy in Kolodyazne, Krasne Pershe, Novomlynsk, Kutkivka, Dvorichna, Zapadne, Kislivka, Berestov in the Kharkiv region and Novoselivske in the Luhansk region.
Donetsk Battle Map. June 5, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Lyman axis: during the past day, the enemy conducted unsuccessful offensive actions in the area of Belogorivka, Luhansk region. He carried out airstrikes in the districts of Nevsky in the Luhansk region and Spirnyi in the Donetsk region. Nevske, Bilogorivka of the Luhansk region and Verkhnokamianske, Torske, Spirne, and Rozdolivka of the Donetsk region was hit by artillery fire.
Bakhmut Battle Map. June 5, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Bakhmut axis: the enemy carried out offensive actions in the direction of Ivanovsky, without success. A rocket struck a residential quarter in Komyshuvaha, destroying residential buildings. He also carried out airstrikes in the Toretsk and Bila Gora districts of the Donetsk region. Areas of settlements of Vasyukivka, Orihovo-Vasylivka, Khromov, Chasiv Yar, Ivanivske, Stupochki, Bila Gora, Diliivka and New York of the Donetsk region were affected by enemy artillery shelling. During the past day, as a result of the coordinated actions of units of the defence forces in the Lyman and Bakhmut axes, the enemy suffered more than 160 KIA and about 230 WIA. The enemy’s losses in weapons and military equipment amounted to 28 units.
  • Avdiivka axis: the enemy made an unsuccessful attack attempt in the direction of the settlements of Avdiivka, as well as Severna and Nevelske. He carried out airstrikes in the Avdiivka area of the Donetsk region. He carried out artillery shelling of the settlements of Novokalynove, Avdiivka, Lastochkine, Severne, Pervomaiske, Karlivka and Nevelske of the Donetsk region.
  • Marinka axis: our defenders repelled numerous enemy attacks in the area of the city of Marinka, inflicting significant losses on him. Estimated losses of the occupiers over the past day in this direction alone amounted to about 70 KIA and more than 100 WIA. 17 units of enemy equipment were also destroyed. At the same time, the enemy carried out airstrikes on Maryintsa, carried out artillery shelling of the settlements of Gostre, Georgiyivka, Marinka, Pobyeda, and Novomykhailivka of the Donetsk region.
  • Shakhtarske axis: the enemy carried out offensive actions in the direction of Novosilka, without success. He carried out an airstrike in the area of the settlement of Velika Novosilka. He shelled the settlements of Vugledar, Prechistivka, Novoukrainka and Vremivka in the Donetsk region. At the same time, in the specified direction, our soldiers shot down an enemy Ka-52 helicopter.
Zaporizhzhia Battle Map. June 5, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Zaporizhzhia and Kherson axes: The enemy continues to conduct defensive He launched an airstrike on Beryslav, Kherson region. He carried out artillery shelling of Burlatske, Novosilka, Zelene Pole, Novopil, and Temyrivka settlements of the Donetsk region; Olgivske, Poltavka, Malinivka, Gulyaipole, Zaliznychne, Gulyaipilske, Charivne, Biloghirya, Mala Tokmachka, Novodanilivka, Preobrazhenka, Novoandriivka, Shcherbaki, Stepove and Kamianske of the Zaporizhzhia region; Kozatske, Mykilske, Molodizhne, Dniprovske of the Kherson region and the city of Kherson.
Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. June 5, 2023. Source: ISW.

[Continuing the armed aggression, the Russian occupying forces suffer daily losses. Only on June 3, twenty trucks of wounded occupiers were brought to the school building and converted into a field hospital for the invaders in one of the settlements of the Swativ district of the Luhansk Oblast. It is also known that about two hundred people are already undergoing treatment at the specified facility.]

[Kupiansk axis: the enemy is forced to use civilian buildings of settlements in the Kharkiv Oblast as morgues, but without proper equipment.]

Over the past day, the Ukrainian Air Force has struck 19 strikes on areas where personnel are concentrated and 5 on enemy anti-aircraft missile complexes.

Last day, our defenders destroyed 10 enemy reconnaissance UAVs and 6 shock UAVs of various types.

During the past day, Ukrainian missile and artillery units hit 2 control points, 12 areas of concentration of manpower, weapons and military equipment, an ammunition warehouse, an anti-aircraft missile complex, 12 artillery units of the enemy in firing positions, as well as 4 more important targets.

MoD: Defence forces start going on the offensive in certain directions, Ukrinform reports. “Bakhmut sector remains the epicentre of military operations where the defence forces move along a wide front and have success. We continue holding the defence that began on February 24, 2022. The defensive operation consists of everything, including counteroffensive actions. Therefore, we start going on the offensive in certain directions.

In particular, the Bakhmut sector remains the epicentre of military operations. There we are moving along a fairly wide front. We are successful. We occupy the dominant heights. The enemy defends itself and wants to hold its positions. In the south, the enemy holds the defence. Fighting of local significance continues, Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine Hanna Maliar posted on Telegram.

According to the deputy minister, the Russians are actively spreading information about the counteroffensive because they need to divert attention from the defeat in Bakhmut direction.”

Russians intensified spread of fakes about alleged “offensive” of Defence Forces, Censor.net reports, citing the Strategic Communications Department of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. “Russian telegram channels and social networks are planning to increase the spread of false information about the combat operations of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. And their own formations, the statement said.

It is noted that Russian propagandists will disseminate false information about the counter-offensive, its directions, and the losses of Ukrainian troops to demoralize Ukrainians and mislead the community (including their own population). For this purpose, we have prepared old videos and photos showing damaged equipment, dead, and prisoners. As well as other fake materials,” the military added.

The statement stressed that reliable information should be obtained only from official sources. On the morning of 5 June, the Russian Ministry of Defence announced that the Ukrainian Armed Forces had launched a counter-offensive.”

Freedom of Russia Legion destroys Russian tanks in Belgorod Oblast using drones, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “The Freedom of Russia Legion has reported the destruction of two Russian tanks and other equipment using drones at night in the Shebekino district in Russia’s Belgorod Oblast.”

Russia launches air strike on Kyiv, city official says attack repelled, Reuters reports. “Russia launched a new wave of overnight air strikes on Kyiv, with officials at the Ukrainian capital saying that air defence systems downed more than 20 cruise missiles on their approach.

All were shot down, there were no hits, Serhiy Popko, head of Kyiv’s military administration, said on the Telegram messaging app.”

35 out of 35 missiles downed, the Ukrainian General Staff reports. “On the night of June 6, 2023, between 00:30 and 04:00, the Russian invaders attacked Ukraine with Kh-101/Kh-555 air-based cruise missiles. They attacked traditionally – from the Caspian Sea area with six Tu-95ms strategic bombers.

All 35 cruise missiles were destroyed by the forces and means of air defense of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Most of the X-101/X-555 were headed in the direction of the capital – to the area of responsibility of the Air Command Center.”

Ukraine has prepared network of saboteurs on territory of Russian Federation, to whom it provides drones for attacks, Censor.net reports, citing CNN. “Ukraine has developed a network of agents inside Russia who work on sabotage. Kyiv also began providing them with drones for organizing attacks. According to the publication, US officials believe that these agents inside Russia carried out the drone attack on the Kremlin in early May, launching drones from Russian territory.

CNN notes that it is currently unknown whether the latest attacks, in particular on the Moscow region and oil refineries in the south of the Russian Federation, were carried out from the territory of Russia by these agents. Also, the publication adds, the USA believes that Ukraine has created cells in the Russian Federation consisting of sympathizers of Ukraine who are well-trained to wage this kind of war. […]

Officials could not say for sure how Ukraine was able to send the drones behind enemy lines, but two sources told CNN that it had established well-established smuggling routes that could be used to send drones or components to Russia, where they could then be assembled, adds the publication. An employee of European intelligence noted that the Russian-Ukrainian border is large and very difficult to control, which makes it suitable for smuggling.

You also have to consider that this is a peripheral territory of Russia. Survival is everyone’s problem, so cash works wonders, he added. US officials believe that elements of the Ukrainian intelligence community are involved. President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky has established the general parameters of what his Security and Intelligence Service has the right to do, two sources said, but not every operation requires his signature, CNN added.

Military Updates

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

  • Over the last 48 hours there has been a substantial increase in fighting along numerous sectors of the front, including those which have been relatively quiet for several months.
  • Concurrently, the feud between Wagner Group and the Russian MoD has reached an unprecedented level. For the first time, Wagner owner Yevgeny Prigozhin has claimed that the army has employed deliberate, lethal force against Wagner units. Following an altercation, Wagner has likely detained a Russian army brigade commander.
  • Most of Wagner’s forces have now been withdrawn from Bakhmut. With Russia short of reserve units, the degree to which Wagner remains responsive to the MoD will be a key factor in the conflict over the coming weeks.
  • Over the course of May 2023, Russia launched over 300 Iranian Shahed series one way attack uncrewed aerial vehicles (OWA-UAVs) against Ukraine: its most intense use of this weapon system to date.
  • Russia is probably launching so many OWA-UAVs in an attempt to force Ukraine to fire stocks of valuable, advanced air defence missiles.
  • Russia is unlikely to have been notably successful: Ukraine has neutralised at least 90% of the incoming OWA-UAVs mostly using its older and cheaper air defence weapons and with electronic jamming. Russia has also likely been attempting to locate and strike Ukrainian forces well behind the front line. However, Russia remains very ineffective at hitting such dynamic targets at range because of its poor targeting processes.

Losses of the Russian army 

Losses of the Russian Army. Source: Euromaidan Press.
  • Personnel – about 211150 (+800)
  • Tanks – 3860 (+12)
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 7543 (+20))
  • Artillery systems – 3603 (+36)
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 590 (+6)
  • Air defence means – 351 (+2)
  • Aircraft – 313 (+0)
  • Helicopters – 299 (+1)
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 6332 (+20)
  • Vessels/boats – 18 (+0)
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 3212 (+23)
  • Special equipment – 489 (+5)
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0)
  • Cruise missiles – 1171(+35)

Kyiv City Military Administration reports over 250 targets shot down over city in May, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Kyiv City Military Administration. “At no time in the history of our planet… No city and no country… have ever been subjected to such severe air attacks with numerous hypersonic air-launched, ballistic, cruise missiles and modern military UAVs. As much as Kyiv in May. Kyiv withstood it.

The posted report indicates that Ukrainian air defence forces destroyed 7 Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, 13 Iskander ballistic missiles, 65 cruise missiles (Kh-101, Kh-555, Kalibr), and 169 UAVs in May.”

Over 10 tons of Russian ammunition and anti-aircraft gun were discovered in Kharkiv region, Censor.net reports, citing the SBI press service. “Another cache of Russian weapons, which the occupiers did not have time to take with them during their retreat, was discovered in the de-occupied territory of Kharkiv region. The cache was equipped in a forest belt in the territory of Velyky Burluk district. The cache contained anti-tank grenades, various mines, grenade launchers, high-explosive charges, boxes of ammunition of various calibres, and cluster munitions. The total weight of the found weapons is over 10 tonnes, the statement said.

According to the Bureau, the occupiers also left an anti-tank guided missile and a ZU-23 anti-aircraft mount in the forest belt. According to operational information, the weapon belonged to a motorised rifle regiment of the 11th Army Corps of the Russian Coastal Forces. The SBI has seized all the weapons and is preparing to transfer them to one of the Armed Forces brigades.”

Iran sold more than million dollars worth of ammunition to Russian Federation, Censor.net reports, citing Sky News. “The media has gained access to an alleged arms contract that may be the first hard evidence that Iran sold ammunition to Russia for the war in Ukraine. According to the publication, if the 16-page document, dated September 14, 2022, is authentic, it refers to artillery, tank shells, and missiles of various sizes worth a little more than $1 million. Also in the documents is a contract for T-72 tank barrels and howitzer barrels, as well as shells for it. This deal was worth about 740,000 US dollars. […]

This is a contract between the Iranians and the Russians regarding ammunition… We believe it is 100% authentic,” said a source in British security agencies. Ukraine and Britain, according to the publication, said that they plan to investigate the authenticity of the material and will take measures if its authenticity is established. […]

The head of the British Foreign Office, James Cleverley, said: “When we are given information, we will try to evaluate it and confirm it. And of course, we will make decisions based on that. … Where we have evidence that Iran provided military support to Russia in its attempt to invade Ukraine, we have taken action and, of course, we will always do the same.

Prystayko also added that the contract, if it is genuine, is proof that Russia is running out of military supplies.”

Humanitarian 

Kharkiv authorities mulling evacuation of people from border areas, Ukrinform reports. “The Kharkiv Regional Military Administration mulls over the issue of a possible forced evacuation from the border settlements of the region as the number of strikes there has increased. Over the past day, 26 of our settlements were struck in north, north-eastern direction, Kupiansk direction. We are mulling over a decision on the possible forced evacuation of children and adults from the border areas, where we see that the military situation is getting worse, Oleh Syniehubov, Head of the Kharkiv Regional Military Administration, said during the United News telethon.

He added that two people were killed and three more were injured. […] As reported, the Russian army shelled four districts of Kharkiv region over the past day, injuring three people. In the morning, the Russians attacked Kupiansk.”

Russia says it sees ‘no prospects’ for further grain deal renewal, Reuters reports. “Russia’s foreign ministry said on Monday that it saw no prospects for extending the Black Sea grain export deal, which is set to expire in mid-July, Russian news agencies reported. TASS news agency quoted the ministry as saying that it was continuing consultations with the United Nations, and that ship inspections had resumed. RIA news agency said a new round of Russia-UN talks would take place in Geneva on June 9. […]

Russia has repeatedly threatened to quit the deal, complaining that obstacles still remain to its own exports of food and fertiliser. It also demands the reopening of a pipeline carrying ammonia from Russia to the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Pivdennyi – known in Russian as Yuzhny – for export to global markets, and the reconnection of its agricultural bank Rosselkhozbank to the SWIFT international payment network.

The agreement last came up for renewal on May 18 and Russia agreed at that point to extend it for 60 more days, to July 17.”

EU extends restrictions on Ukrainian grain imports, Reuters reports. “The European Commission said on Monday it was extending until Sept. 15 an arrangement whereby five of Ukraine’s EU neighbours can restrict imports of Ukrainian grain. The EU on May 2 allowed the five countries – Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia – to ban domestic sales of Ukrainian wheat, maize, rapeseed and sunflower seeds while allowing transit through them for export elsewhere, including to other EU countries.

Those restrictions, designed to ease excess supply, were due to expire on Monday. The five countries had sought an extension, complaining cheaper Ukrainian grain was making domestic production unprofitable. Ukraine lobbied for them to be lifted.

The European Commission said in a statement that they would phased out by Sept. 15. The Commission, which oversees EU trade policy, said bottlenecks and scarce storage capacity persisted and the mid-September phase-out would allow for improvements in getting grain out of Ukraine and through the transit countries.”

Environmental

Major dam breached in southern Ukraine, unleashing floodwaters, Reuters reports. “A major Soviet-era dam in the Russian controlled part of southern Ukraine was breached on Tuesday, unleashing floodwaters across the war zone in what both Ukraine and Russia said was an intentional attack by the other’s forces. Unverified videos on social media showed water surging through the remains of the dam with bystanders expressing their shock, sometimes in strong language. Water levels raced up by metres in a matter of hours.

The dam, 30 metres (yards) tall and 3.2 km (2 miles) long and which holds water equal to the Great Salt Lake in the US state of Utah, was built in 1956 on the Dnipro river as part of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant. It also supplies water to the Crimean peninsula, annexed by Russia in 2014, and to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, which is also under Russian control and which gets cooling water from the reservoir.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said there was no immediate nuclear safety risk at the plant due to the dam failure but that it was monitoring the situation closely. The head of the plant also said there was no current threat to the station.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy blamed Russia for the damage.”

Russians blow up Kakhovka Hydro Power Plant, authorities begin evacuation, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Operational Command Pivden (South) and Oleksandr Prokudin, Head of Kherson Oblast Military Administration. “Ukraine’s Operational Command Pivden (South) has reported that the Russian occupation forces have blown up the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant (HPP), with Kherson Oblast Military Administration confirming this information. […]

Prokudin recorded a video in which he confirmed the explosion at the Kakhovka HPP. He noted that they had started evacuation of the local population from dangerous areas. Prokudin also noted that the water will reach a critical level in 5 hours.

Kherson Oblast Military Administration reported that units of the National Police of Ukraine and Kherson Oblast’s State Emergency Service had been alerted to warn and evacuate the civilian population from potential flood zones on the right bank of the Dnipro River, including the villages of Mykolaivka, Olhivka, Lovo, Tiahynka, Poniativka, Ivanivka, Tokarivka, Poniativka, Prydniprovske, Sadove, and partly the city of Kherson – the Korabel microdistrict.

A resident of Kakhovka who evacuated to Ukraine-controlled territory has reported that there was only one explosion, and then the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant collapsed like a house of cards. He has said that the scale of the flooding is extensive, water is already in the town centre of Korsunka, and coastal areas are being washed away.”

Kherson is flooding: microdistrict cut off for safety reasons, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “The power supply has been cut off in the Korabel microdistrict in Kherson due to the flooding that happened as a result of Russian occupiers blowing up the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant (HPP).”

Russians have destroyed and damaged more than 1,500 cultural infrastructure objects in Ukraine, Ukrinform reports. “The Ministry of Culture and Information Policy continues to record damage to cultural infrastructure in Ukraine as a result of Russian aggression. Thus, as of May 25, 2023, 1,520 objects of cultural infrastructure were damaged, not including cultural heritage sites. Of them, almost a third (541) were destroyed, the press service of the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine reports.

As noted, clubs, libraries, museums, theaters, philharmonics, art education institutions (art schools and colleges) were damaged and destroyed in the territory of 216 territorial communities […].

According to Ministry’s statistics, Russians damaged 571 libraries, 82 museums and galleries, 25 theaters and philharmonics, and 115 art education institutions in Ukraine. At the same time, the department notes that club institutions – 727 objects – suffered the greatest damage among the cultural infrastructure.

The Ministry also notes that currently almost the entire territory of Luhansk and significant parts of the territories of Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, and Donetsk regions remain under temporary occupation, which makes it impossible to calculate the exact number of cultural infrastructure objects damaged during military operations and occupation.”

Russia has killed 485 children in Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “485 children have died as a result of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine says a total of 1,490 children have been injured as a result of Russia’s aggression. Since 24 February 2022, 485 children have been killed in Ukraine and over 1,005 have received injuries of varying degrees of severity.

Ukraine’s prosecutors for crimes against youth report that 387 children are considered missing. These numbers are not final, as the number of victims of Russia’s aggression is still being established in the combat areas and in temporarily occupied and liberated territories. […]

In addition, 19,505 children have been deported to Russia. 13,244 of them have been found, and 371 children have been brought back home.”

Support

Biden’s Adviser: Ukraine to achieve success and take back strategically significant territory, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing CNN. “Jake Sullivan, US National Security Adviser, described the prospects for the upcoming counterattack of Ukraine as positive. According to Biden’s adviser, the military actions of the Ukrainian forces will lead to them taking back “strategically significant territory”.

Exactly how much, in what places, that will be up to developments on the ground as the Ukrainians get this counteroffensive underway. But we believe that the Ukrainians will meet with success in this counteroffensive. Asked whether a counteroffensive would speed up the peace process, Sullivan said developments on the battlefield in Ukraine would have a “major impact” on any future talks between Ukraine and Russia.

President Zelensky himself has said that this war will end ultimately through diplomacy, the US presidential adviser said. The United States believes that, together with its allies, it has adequately provided Ukraine with military assistance for the upcoming counteroffensive.”

Ukraine has enough weapons to begin counter-offensive, says foreign minister, Reuters reports. “Ukraine has enough weapons to begin its counter-offensive against Russia, and the operation will give the country the victory it needs to join NATO, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told Reuters on Monday. Membership of the military alliance would probably only be possible for Ukraine after the end of active hostilities, Kuleba said in an interview in Kyiv.

Ukraine has for months feted a vast upcoming assault to retake the 18% of its territory still occupied by Russia, using tanks, armoured cars and artillery donated by its Western allies. Ukraine’s deputy defence minister said on Monday Kyiv was shifting to “offensive operations” on certain fronts but dismissed an earlier claim from Moscow that a major Ukrainian assault had taken place.”

Lithuania Prepares New Assistance Package for Ukraine, European Pravda reports, “Lithuania is preparing a new shipment of support for Ukraine. Millions of ammunition units, anti-drones… In two weeks, after the Ramstein format meeting we will announce more information about the support for the fighting, tweeted Arvydas Anušauskas, Lithuanian Defence Minister.”

Ukraine not to use F-16 jets in summer – Defence Minister, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing NHK. “When asked about the F-16 fighters, Reznikov replied that they would not change the situation this summer. He said that it would take time to train Ukrainian pilots, and Ukraine will also have to agree with its partners to provide engineers and technical personnel who can deal with the maintenance and repair of these aircraft.

According to him, Ukraine will be ready to deploy the F-16s in the fall or winter. Currently, some Western countries are preparing or have offered to train Ukrainian pilots to pilot these fighters.”

Germany May Reconsider Its Position on Modern Fighter Jets for Ukraine, European Pravda reports. “The German government may review its position on the potential supply of advanced Western fighter jets to Ukraine. We are currently in a phase of reassessment and examining what is possible, and what we want and can do. I believe we will make a decision within the next two weeks, stated German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius in an interview with DW. According to Pistorius, Germany needs to reassess its policy of the past decades.

German society and German politics have indeed changed their minds. If someone had told me two years ago that Germany would provide heavy weapons worth three to five billion euros, I wouldn’t have believed it, added the German Defence Minister.”

Belgium to address Ukraine in regards to alleged deployment of its weapons in Russian Belgorod Oblast, Ukrainian Pravda reports, citing Het Laatste Nieuws. “The Belgian government will turn to Ukraine for clarification due to information suggesting that Belgian-made weapons were used by anti-Putin armed groups to raid Belgorod Oblast of the Russian Federation. According to a “reliable source” of the media outlet, Belgian Defence and Foreign Ministers Ludivine Dedonder and Hadja Lahbib will contact the Ukrainian authorities as soon as possible to get an explanation of the situation.

These supplies are intended for the Ukrainian armed forces to protect their territory and population from Russian invasion. This is clearly indicated in the documents accompanying each delivery, says the source to the HLN. So these weapons are not intended for isolated groups with domestic Russian interests, it added.

Earlier, The Washington Post, citing intelligence, reported that the fighters of the Russian Volunteer Corps and the Freedom of Russia Legion, which fight on the side of Ukraine and which invaded Belgorod Oblast at the end of May, used at least four tactical vehicles previously transferred to Ukraine by Western powers. These include MRAP-type armoured vehicles with enhanced anti-mine protection, as well as rifles manufactured by the Czech Republic and Belgium and at least one AT-4 anti-tank grenade launcher, which is often used by the US and generally Western military.

The United States has repeatedly emphasised that it does not approve of the use of its weapons for military operations outside Ukraine. Ukrainian intelligence said that Western equipment of the Russian insurgents was a trophy from fighting with the troops of the regular Russian army.

On 22 May, fighters of the so-called Russian Volunteer Corps and the Freedom of Russia Legion invaded Russian Belgorod Oblast for the first time. Since then, these groups have raided Russian territory several times.”

New Developments

  1. Explosion at Nova Kakhovka dam threatens Ukraine’s Kherson region with devastating floodwaters, MeduzaUkraine’s Operational Command South has confirmed that an explosion on Tuesday morning destroyed the Nova Kakhovka dam, which guards the Kherson region’s coastal cities against a reservoir with water levels currently at a 30-year high. In a statementon Facebook, the Ukrainian military accused Russian occupation forces of blowing up the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant. The loss of the dam is expected to unleash flood waters downstream and exacerbate Ukraine’s energy shortages after months of Russian missile strikes targeting power generation and grid facilities across the country.”
  2. President convenes Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council, Zelensky wrote on twitter. “Russian terrorists. The destruction of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant dam only confirms for the whole world that they must be expelled from every corner of Ukrainian land. Not a single meter should be left to them, because they use every meter for terror. It’s only Ukraine’s victory that will return security. And this victory will come. The terrorists will not be able to stop Ukraine with water, missiles or anything else. All services are working. I have convened the National Security and Defense Council. Please spread official and verified information only.
  3. Russian radio broadcasts panicked Putin’s address due to “invasion by Armed Forces of Ukraine”, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Meduza, RIA Novosti referring to the statement by Putin’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov, and the Operative Staffof Belgorod Oblast. “In Rostov, Belgorod and Voronezh oblasts in Russia, radio broadcast an address of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in which he called upon Russians to evacuate to the interior of the country due to the invasion by the Ukrainian army and announced mobilisation. Local authorities and the Kremlin claim that the address is fake. […] Peskov called the address fake and claimed that control over the broadcast had been restored. The authorities in the regions believe that the address was intended to spread panic.”
  4. Video of Ukraine’s Defence Ministry shown on several TV channels in Crimea, Ukrainska Pravda reported Sunday, citing the State Border Guard Serviceof Ukraine; Oleg Kryuchkov, the so-called “adviser” to the Head of Russian-occupied Crimea, and Suspilne. “In the Russian-occupied Crimea, several cable operators showed a video of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, informing that Ukraine would not announce the start of the counteroffensive. [….] According to the representative of the invaders, Oleg Kryuchkov, the broadcast of a number of Crimean cable operators is broken, the signal is being disconnected. […] On 4 June, the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine released a video, in which they hinted at a counteroffensive, noting that there would be no announcement about its start.”
  5. S. sanctions target Russian influence campaign in Moldova, Reuters reports. “The United States imposed sanctions on Monday on members of a Russian intelligence-linked group for their role in Moscow’s efforts to destabilize democracy and influence elections in Moldova, the Treasury Department said. The new sanctions target seven Russian individuals, some of whom maintain ties to Russian intelligence services, the department said in a statement. They include the group’s leader, Konstantin Prokopyevich Sapozhnikov, who organized the plot to destabilize the government of Moldova in early 2023, it said. The group is part of a large global information operation connected to Russia that targets Ukraine and bordering countries as well as the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States, the Treasury Department said. The group’s members provoke, train and oversee groups in democratic countries and conduct anti-government protests, rallies, marches and demonstrations, it added.”

Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of  June 2, 2022:

Russian forces reportedly conducted unsuccessful reconnaissance-in-force operations northeast of Kharkiv City on June 5. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that a Russian sabotage and reconnaissance group unsuccessfully attempted to cross the Russian border into Ukraine near Zelene (34km northeast of Kharkiv City).

Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks northeast of Kupiansk and along the Svatove-Kreminna line. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive actions near Novoselivske (15km northwest of Svatove) and Bilohorivka (10km south of Kreminna). Russian milbloggers also claimed that fighting was ongoing near Novoselivske and Bilohorivka. Russian milbloggers continued to claim that Russian forces seized Novomlynsk (21km northeast of Kupiansk), while other milbloggers claimed that Russian forces advanced near the settlement. ISW has not observed visual evidence that Russian forces advanced toward or seized Novomlynsk. The pace of Russian attacks seemingly decreased since June 4.

Russian forces continued limited offensive operations on the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line on June 5. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces unsuccessfully attacked Ukrainian positions near Nevelske (17km northwest of Donetsk City) and Marinka (20km west of Donetsk City). Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted ground attacks near Opytne (3km southwest of Avdiivka) and Vodyane (7km southwest of Avdiivka), with one source characterizing the attacks as reconnaissance-in-force operations. A Russian milblogger also claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted ground attacks near Pervomaiske (10km southwest of Avdiivka). The Russian MoD reported that Chechen “Akhmat” Special Forces (Spetsnaz) units continued to conduct offensive actions near Marinka. Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces attempted to seize the initiative in Marinka and seized unspecified Russian positions south of Marinka.

Ukrainian forces continued ground attacks in western Donetsk and eastern Zaporizhzhia oblasts, and made further limited tactical gains on June 5. Geolocated footage published on June 4 and 5 indicates that Ukrainian forces likely advanced southwest of Velyka Novosilka and within 1.5km northwest of Storozheve (5km southwest of Velyka Novosilka). Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces crossed the Shaitanka River and conducted assaults near Novodonetske (13km southeast of Velyka Novosilka) throughout the day. Milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces pushed Russian forces out of Novodonetske and maintained a presence within the settlement as of the evening of June 5. Russian ”Vostok” volunteer battalion commander Alexander Khodakovsky, who is reportedly commanding forces near Novodonetske, confirmed that Ukrainian forces maintain a presence within the settlement. Russian milbloggers claimed that elements of the 36th Combined Arms Army (Eastern Military District) and the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) “Kaskad” Operational Combat Tactical Formation also defended against Ukrainian advances around Novodonetske. […] Russian milbloggers widely claimed that Russian forces recaptured Neskuchne (2km south of Velyka Novosilka) on June 5, although ISW has not observed visual confirmation that Russian forces did so. Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces attempted to advance near Novodarivka (15km southwest of Velyka Novosilka), Rivnopil (11km southwest of Velyka Novosilka), and Neskuchne and unsuccessfully attempted to seize Russian positions near Pryiutne (17km southwest of Velyka Novosilka) and Levadne (20km southwest of Velyka Novosilka). One milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces advanced 500 to 3,000 meters near Rivnopil and Neskuchne. Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces pushed Ukrainian forces out of Novodarivka either on June 4 or 5, although a prominent milblogger claimed that neither Ukrainian nor Russian forces control the settlement.

Ukrainian forces continue to target rear Russian positions throughout southern Ukraine. Ukrainian Commander of the Tavria Group of Troops Brigadier General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi reported on June 4 that Ukrainian forces destroyed 18 Russian anti-aircraft guns and five ammunition storage areas in southern Ukraine. Russian sources claimed on June 5 that Ukrainian forces struck Mykhailivka (40km north of Melitopol) with unspecified heavy fire and launched a missile strike on Melitopol. Zaporizhzhia Oblast occupation official Vladimir Rogov claimed that Ukrainian forces have recently started to target Russian rear areas in Zaporizhzhia Oblast more heavily, particularly with Tochka-U and Storm Shadow missiles. Rogov claimed that Ukrainian forces are primarily targeting transport logistics and other infrastructure facilities.

Russian and Ukrainian officials are signaling the start of the Ukrainian counteroffensive. ISW offers no assessment of these signals at this time. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed on June 5 that Ukrainian forces conducted a “large-scale offensive” across five sectors of the frontline in southwestern Donetsk Oblast on June 4. The Russian MoD claimed that Russian forces repelled all Ukrainian attacks and assigned Chief of the Russian General Staff Army General Valery Gerasimov to oversee the southwestern Donetsk frontline. Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar noted on June 5 that Ukrainian forces are “transferring to offensive actions” in some unspecified areas of the front. Maliar added that Russian sources are actively spreading information about the Ukrainian counteroffensive to deflect attention from Russian losses in the Bakhmut direction. The Russian MoD’s claims that Russian forces immediately repelled Ukrainian counteroffensives are consistent with previous false Russian claims made during past counteroffensives. Ukrainian forces are likely making limited gains despite Russian denials. ISW will not attempt to assess at this time whether or not these gains are part of broader counter-offensive operations. ISW observed an increase in combat activity in different sectors of the frontline but will not speculate about the intent, weight, or focus of Ukrainian counteroffensives operations. A successful counteroffensive operation may take days, weeks, or even months before its outcome becomes fully clear, during which time Russian sources may falsely claim to have defeated it.

Ukrainian forces made limited advances north and southwest of Bakhmut on June 5. Maliar reported that Ukrainian forces are conducting offensive operations on the eastern front in the Bakhmut area and advanced 200 to 1,600 meters in the direction of Orikhovo-Vasylivka (11km northwest of Bakhmut), and 100 to 700 meters near Ivanivske (6km west of Bakhmut) and Klishchiivka (7km southwest of Bakhmut). Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Serhiy Cherevaty reported that mechanized Ukrainian forces also advanced from 300 meters to one kilometer in the direction of Zaliznyanske (13km north of Bakhmut) and Bohdanivka (8km northwest of Bakhmut). Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the Ukrainian forces in the Bakhmut direction for “moving forward” in their areas of responsibility on June 5. Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed that Ukrainian forces captured an unspecified part of Berkhivka (6km north of Bakhmut) and criticized the Russian military command for previously withdrawing Russian forces from the Berkhivksy Reservoir on May 12 to protect their positions in the settlement. Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces repelled Ukrainian assaults in the direction of Soledar (12km northeast of Bakhmut), likely referring to the wider area north and northeast of Bakhmut. One milblogger claimed that Russian forces fought Ukrainian forces near Rozdolivka (19km northeast of Bakhmut). Another milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces also attacked Russian positions in an unspecified location in the Siversk (31km northeast of Bakhmut) area. Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces repelled a Ukrainian assault near Mayorsk (21km southwest of Bakhmut) and north of Horlivka (26km south of Bakhmut). ISW has not observed visual confirmation of Ukrainian advances in the Bakhmut associated with these limited offensives on June 5.

The pro-Ukrainian all-Russian Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK) claimed that it continues to operate in a Russian border settlement in Belgorod Oblast as of June 5. Geolocated footage published on June 5 shows the RDK personnel operating in Novaya Tavolzhanka (a small settlement about 3km from the Kharkiv-Belgorod Oblast border). The Freedom of Russia Legion (LSR), which conducted a raid into Belgorod Oblast with the RDK, published footage purportedly showing LSR forces striking Russian tanks and armored vehicles near the Shebekino checkpoint, about 7km northeast of Novaya Tavolzhanka. The Russian MoD claimed on June 5 that Russian forces and the Russian Border Guard Service repelled two attacks near Novaya Tavolzhanka on June 4, but did not respond to the RDK’s claim that RDK personnel still operate in the settlement.

Chechen Republic Head Ramzan Kadyrov claimed that Chechen forces are ready to defend against raids in Belgorod Oblast, likely in part to keep his forces out of combat in Ukraine. Kadyrov claimed on June 5 that he has 70,000 Chechen servicemen serving in unspecified formations in the Russian military who could defend against the raids into Belgorod Oblast due to their extensive anti-terrorism training. Kadyrov notably stated that the Russian “Commander-in-Chief” – implying Russian President Vladimir Putin – “knows better,” but that Kadyrov wanted to “remind” everyone that Chechen units could have dealt with ”terrorists who invaded Belgorod Oblast.” Kadyrov’s suggestion for Chechen forces to operate in Belgorod Oblast follows Putin‘s order deploying Chechen units to areas along the Donetsk frontline on May 31. Kadyrov’s rhetorical shift towards suggesting that Chechen forces get involved in Belgorod Oblast may suggest a desire to preserve his forces from engaging in combat in more challenging sectors of the front. ISW previously assessed that Kadyrov appeared to have been conserving forces and did not deploy forces to participate in large-scale offensive operations since summer 2022. Kadyrov previously claimed on May 26 that 7,000 Chechen servicemen are operating in Ukraine. If Kadyrov’s claims are close to accurate, only about 10 percent of available Chechen forces are serving in Ukraine, but his statements are impossible to verify.

The Russian Black Sea Fleet is attempting to mitigate complications with logistical support in occupied Crimea by shifting resources to mainland Russia. Ukrainian Southern Operational Command Spokesperson Natalia Humenyuk reported on June 5 that Russian forces are transferring the Black Sea Fleet’s logistics centers from Sevastopol, occupied Crimea, to Novorossiysk, Krasnodar Krai. Humenyuk stated that Russian forces are moving the logistics centers because of widespread logistical and ammunition provision issues in occupied Crimea. Humenyuk noted that Russian amphibious ships are continuing to maneuver in the Black Sea and enter Sevastopol, but that the overall center of gravity of the Black Sea Fleet appears to be shifting towards Novorossiysk. Recent strikes on Russian concentration areas, logistics hubs, and transportation assets in southern Ukraine may be causing increased anxiety over the security of the Black Sea Fleet, and the move to Krasnodar Krai is likely in part reflective of this fact.

Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin is continuing efforts to exacerbate the divide between the Wagner Group and the Russian MoD. Prigozhin’s press service published a video on June 4 showing a Wagner fighter interrogating a Russian soldier who identified himself as Lieutenant Colonel Roman Venevitin of the 72nd Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade (3rd Army Corps). Venevitin admitted on camera that he ordered his unit to fire on a Wagner vehicle while intoxicated due to his own “personal animosity” towards Wagner. Venevitin appeared to have sustained facial injuries during the time of his capture by Wagner. Prigozhin also claimed that Wagner personnel engaged in a small skirmish with Russian MoD personnel in Semihirya (15km southeast of Bakhmut) on May 17 after the MoD personnel fired on Wagner fighters when they tried to stop the MoD personnel from laying mines in Wagner’s rear. As ISW has previously assessed, Prigozhin continues to inject such anti-MoD narratives into the Russian information space in order to retain his status in the information space following the culmination of Wagner’s Bakhmut offensive and Wagner’s withdrawal from combat in Ukraine. The suggestion that units operating under the Russian MoD are actively firing on Wagner while intoxicated strengthens Prigozhin’s argument that the Russian MoD is a combat-ineffective and somewhat nefarious force.

Russian milbloggers responded to the video of Lieutenant Colonel Venevitin with concern, indicating that several prominent pro-war voices are becoming increasingly concerned over the ramifications of the Wagner-MoD divide. One prominent milblogger called for Venevitin to be tried by the military prosecutor’s office, which would be normal practice in such cases, but noted that the Wagner-MoD conflict “continues to be unhealthy.” Another milblogger who claimed to have personally spoken to Wagner commanders accused both Wagner and MoD units of not knowing what they are fighting for and all of trying to outcompete each other to be “heroes.” Former Russian officer and prominent critical milblogger Igor Girkin noted that the video of Venevitin is another step towards “troubles” regardless of the circumstances of the incident and that Prigozhin is provoking an open war between units ostensibly on the same side of the war. As Prigozhin continues his efforts to maintain informational relevance his rhetorical charades will likely further deepen the divide between the MoD and Wagner, thus hindering the overall combat-effectiveness of both forces and additionally generating increasing discontent in the information space that used to back him.

Key Takeaways

  • Russian and Ukrainian officials are signaling the start of the Ukrainian counteroffensive.
  • Ukrainian forces conducted limited successful offensives north and southwest of Bakhmut.
  • The pro-Ukrainian all-Russian Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK) claimed that it continues to operate in a Russian border settlement in Belgorod Oblast as of June 5.
  • Chechen Republic Head Ramzan Kadyrov claimed that Chechen forces are ready to defend against raids in Belgorod Oblast, likely partially in order to keep his forces out of combat in Ukraine.
  • The Russian Black Sea Fleet is attempting to mitigate complications with logistical support in occupied Crimea by shifting resources to mainland Russia.
  • Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin is continuing efforts to exacerbate the divide between the Wagner Group and the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD).
  • Russian milbloggers responded to the video of Lieutenant Colonel Venevitin with concern, indicating that several prominent pro-war voices are becoming increasingly concerned over the ramifications of the Wagner-MoD divide.
  • Russian forces reportedly conducted unsuccessful reconnaissance-in-force operations northeast of Kharkiv City and continued limited ground attacks northeast of Kupiansk and along the Svatove-Kreminna line.
  • Russian forces continued limited offensive operations on the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line.
  • Ukrainian forces continued ground attacks in western Donetsk and eastern Zaporizhzhia oblasts and made further limited tactical gains.
  • Ukrainian forces continue to target rear Russian positions throughout southern Ukraine.
  • Iran has allegedly signed contracts with Russia for about $1.74 million in ammunition for Russia to use in Ukraine.

Ukrainian sources and Belarusian sources indicated that Belarus has been involved in the forced deportation of Ukrainian children.

Scale of internal conflicts in Russia will only increase, – Defence Intelligence of Ukraine, Censor.net reports, citing Andriy Yusov, a representative of the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine, with reference to Ukrinform. “The scale of internal conflicts in Russia will only increase, with all its combat-ready forces concentrated in Ukraine, and disorder, chaos, anarchy and powerlessness in Russia itself.

In recent months, these events have been gaining momentum. The geography of the insurgents’ activities is expanding, the number of participants in these actions is increasing, and in the end, we must consider not only the individual events in the Belgorod region, but the so-called Russian Federation as a whole today is a failed state with a huge number of conflicts inside it. The central government is inadequate, and the events in the Belgorod region demonstrate this. Anything combat-ready is concentrated in the occupied Ukrainian territories, while in Russia itself there is disorder, chaos, anarchy and anarchy. This means that similar conflicts can spread in different parts of this territory, which is now called the Russian Federation, Yusov emphasized, adding that the events will also affect the Russian capital region.

He also confirmed that the Kremlin is not currently transferring troops from Ukraine, but is trying to limit itself to the internal resources of the Russian Armed Forces. There is information about the preparation of such measures. But the fact that they are already using their own Armed Forces, including army aviation and artillery, is a proven fact, and accordingly, the Putin regime is simply unable to continue to hide the fact that nothing is happening, Yusov said.

As a reminder, the Legion “Freedom of Russia” and the Russian Volunteer Corps are conducting another raid on the territory of the Belgorod region of the Russian Federation. Deputy Defense Minister Anna Maliar stated that the complication of the internal political situation in Russia was predictable, as this war is destroying not only Ukraine but also Russia.”

Milley on Counteroffensive: Ukraine Is Well-Prepared, but Too Early to Talk about Outcome, European Pravda reports. “General Mark A. Milley, US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General, has highly praised the readiness of the Armed Forces of Ukraine for the upcoming counteroffensive. According to the top US general, Ukraine is in a war that’s an existential threat for the very survival of Ukraine and has greater meaning for the rest of the world — for Europe, really for the United States, but also for the globe, Milley commented to CNN.

Speaking about the future Ukrainian counteroffensive, Milley noted that Ukraine is very well prepared for a counteroffensive against Russia, it is too early to tell what outcomes are going to happen. At the same time, the war has also begun creeping into Russia, as suspected Ukrainian drone strikes hit inside Moscow and a shelling attack was carried out in Belgorod. Asked Monday if such attacks would risk escalating the conflict, Milley said there is always risk of escalation, and it’s something the US is watching very, very carefully.”

Arsenal of terror. Why did Russia increase its shelling and how many missiles did it have left, RBK Ukraine asks? “In May, Russia fired almost two hundred missiles at Ukraine. In recent weeks, the capital has received the most. […] On April 28, Russia launched a new air campaign, carrying out massive strikes on the capital and rear regions of Ukraine. The aggressor almost certainly releases a swarm of Iranian “shaheeds”, or cruise and ballistic missiles, or both at the same time. After the autumn-winter attacks, the Russians changed their shelling tactics and their targets.

Despite the fact that at that time the enemy fired 50-100 missiles, after which, it would seem, Moscow’s arsenal was greatly “weakened”, during a two-month pause they managed to replenish supplies. May was the second highest month of missiles fired by the enemy, if we take the statistics from the autumn of last year. There was more only in December. The pace and intensity with which Russia has taken it makes one doubt that it really has that bad of a stockpile and missile production.

Russia spent the most missiles in the first months of the warThen the enemy fired at military and civilian objects, railway junctions and fuel infrastructure. It is unlikely that Moscow managed to achieve the desired effect. Instead, already then, the stockpile of missiles of the Russians was greatly “thinned out”. As of the end of April, the aggressor still had approximately 20-30% of the ballistic “Iskander-M” from the pre-war indicators – it was these missiles that were first used most often by the enemy, as well as 70% of the stock of “Calibers”.

Moscow started the second missile campaign in October, betting on the destruction of our energy infrastructure. Since July, the advance of the enemy at the front slowed down. And in September, in a matter of days, the aggressor began to rapidly lose the already captured territories, for which he had been fighting for several months.

The Kremlin then tried to save its position in two ways. The first is to carry out a mobilization, saturating the front with people, even untrained ones, in order to hold on to what is there. Meanwhile, to force Ukrainians to accept Moscow’s conditions, gradually creating unbearable conditions for us without light, water and heat.

Schematically, the Russian attacks in the autumn-winter period looked like this: at first once a week, and later once or twice, the enemy collected 50-100 rockets, which they directed at energy facilities. Attacks took place mostly on weekdays and precisely at the height of the day, when there was a peak load on the power system, in order to cause as much damage as possible.

The basis of the volley was “Kalibr” and X-101 / X-555. When Russian stocks began to run out, they were diluted with old Soviet X-22s. They are completely inaccurate and have a limited range of 600 kilometers. At the same time, since the fall, the Iranian attack drones “Shaheda” have appeared in the enemy’s arsenal, which were most often launched at electrical substations and, as a rule, in the dark, in order to make it difficult to fix and shoot them down.

By the end of November, the Russians were more or less successfully moving towards their goal – the light in Ukrainian homes was becoming less and less frequent, and blackouts were predicted for the country. However, after our energy engineers figured out Moscow’s technical plan and developed steps to prevent it, the Kremlin’s plans were buried. There is no doubt that the Ukrainian energy system has suffered very significant damage. However, it is telling that after five months of systematic shelling and eight hundred spent missiles, by the end of February, almost all Ukrainians had light in their homes 24 hours a day.

April 27-28 can be considered as the starting point for the current air campaign. Since then, the Russians have resumed missile strikes, combining them with drone “strikes”. In contrast to the fall-winter campaign, the Russians now typically launch fewer than 50 missiles per attack, ranging from a few to several dozen. However, they do it more often – either for a while, or once every few days, and usually at night.

In total, from April 28 to June 4, the aggressor attacked Ukraine with approximately 256 missiles (not including anti-aircraft missiles for the S-300 complexes) and 444 “shahedas”. Of them, 198 and 416 units were released in May, respectively. It is characteristic that the enemy is launching massive missile attacks for the second time, when he has nothing to show directly on the battlefield. That was the case in the fall and it seems to have happened now – after the failure of the “big” Russian offensive.

With these strikes, Russia sets itself several tasks at once. Now the aggressor wants to disrupt the future offensive operation of Ukraine, trying to destroy our accumulation of equipment, troops and ammunition. That is, a significant proportion of the strikes are indeed aimed specifically at military facilities, including Western air defence systems.

Most often, the Russians now launch Kh-101 missiles, in smaller numbers – “Kalibr”. Given the fact that since winter our air defence system has been strengthened with means capable of combating cruise missiles, the Kremlin began to use ballistic weapons more actively. Probably hoping that it would be guaranteed to hit the target. In May alone, the Russians launched 7 “Kinzhals”, which are called air launched ballistic, and about 20 of its prototypes – Iskander-M missiles. In Moscow, it seems, there is no peace since they learned that the Patriot air defence system, which can knock down ballistics, has appeared in the arsenal of our army. And at least twice the Russians unsuccessfully tried to “hunt down” and destroy him.

The second goal is that by hitting Kiev and the relatively rear regions, Moscow is trying to force us to pull air defence away from the front so that their aviation can feel freer there.

The third task is more moral and psychological, and it, obviously, primarily concerns the residents of the capital. The purpose of constant night shelling is not only to make it difficult to repel them, but also to suppress people’s resistance. The Kremlin expects that after another sleepless night with explosions, Ukrainians will become more receptive to negotiations. However, after 15 months of war and the autumn-winter campaign, the enemy did not realize that in this way he was only getting the opposite effect.

The attack, which the Russians organized in the afternoon of May 29, is knocked out of this scheme. From the north – probably from the Bryansk region of the Russian Federation – the aggressor fired at Kyiv with “Iskander” ballistic and cruise missiles. As propaganda publications later wrote, the targets of these attacks were the so-called “decision-making centres”, so the attack was chosen during working hours. And the short flight time – less than 10 minutes – should reduce the opportunities for response. Last week, the aggressor repeated the shelling of the capital with “Iskanders” from the same direction.

Russia’s own reserves and pace of missile production are definitely not enough to sustain the May intensity of shelling for a long time. However, unfortunately, there are enough of them to continue such attacks for some time. According to data provided by informed sources of RBC-Ukraine in military circles, as of June 3, the Russians had in stock:

  • 150 Kalibr missiles;
  • approximately 90 units of X-101 / X-555;
  • approximately 140 Iskander-M ballistic missiles;
  • 45 “Iskander-K” cruise missiles;
  • about 80 units of “ Kinzhal”;
  • approximately 180 Kh-22 missiles.

According to the latest estimates provided to the GUR , the Russians are now able to produce about 25 Kalibrs per month, Kh-101 – 35 units, Kinzhal– 2 units per month, ballistic missiles 9M723 to “Iskander-M” – 5 units. That is, now Moscow is clearly firing more missiles than it produces.

As for the “Shaheed” reserves, as of June 4, the aggressor has already released 1,377 Iranian attack UAVs out of the 1,750 provided for in the contract.

The experience of May shows that Russia is resorting to new methods and combining different means to break through the Ukrainian air defence. And from time to time they succeed. In addition, even if all the missiles are successfully shot down, their fragments falling from the sky also pose a threat. It is worth preparing for the fact that the same systematic shelling may continue at least until the intensification of our offensive.”

Black Sea blockade of Russian Federation is equivalent to piracy, NATO countries have means to stop it, Censor.net reports, citing the Center for Transport Strategies and the former US special representative in Ukraine, Kurt Volker. “According to him, even if the grain agreement works normally, allowing a limited flow of grain exports, it creates a legal facade that legitimizes Russia’s military actions to block all other Ukrainian maritime exports. The Grains Agreement gives Russia an unprecedented role in overseeing Black Sea shipping, despite the fact that it has legal claims to only 10% of the Black Sea coastline and is a party to the Montreux Convention, which was designed to ensure free trade through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits. The convention assigns Türkiye, not Russia, the role of ensuring freedom of navigation, Volker explained.

According to the diplomat, the time has come to stop similar pirate actions of the Russian Federation in the Black Sea. The US, Great Britain, the Netherlands, the G7 countries, the EU, and all NATO allies should demand that Russia immediately abandon its threats to normal commercial shipping in the international waters of the Black Sea, which would allow Ukrainian ports to return to full operation.

Yes, Volker suggests that Western allies should increase demining efforts in the Black Sea by providing appropriate technical means; western governments to introduce war risk insurance programs for shipping companies that conduct direct trade with Ukraine (insurance should cover both ships and cargo); NATO countries to participate in operations that do not pose a threat to freedom of navigation in the international waters of the Black Sea to maintain the principle of unimpeded transit.

Finally, NATO countries must warn that any attack by any organization on a commercial vessel in the international waters of the Black Sea will be considered an act of piracy and will not be tolerated. Under international law, such attacks can be met with a direct military response. NATO countries have the means for this, even if their ships do not enter the Black Sea,” the American diplomat added.

Maintaining freedom of navigation in the Black Sea is consistent with the long-term policy of the United States and other countries and primarily serves economic, not military, goals. It would be incredibly brazen and reckless for Russia to attack international vessels in the open waters of the Black Sea. It’s time to admit that Russia is bluffing and opening Odesa’s ports forever, he concluded.”

 

  1. Consequences and what to do?

As of May 2023, permanent population of Ukraine is 29 million people, Censor.net reports, citing Ukrainian Institute of the Future. “There will be no one to create GDP in Ukraine. There are only 9.1-9.5 million Ukrainians working, and if you subtract state employees, there are about 6-7 million people left. They are the “team” that carries the others – 22-23 million people, including pensioners, children, students, the unemployed, dependents, the same employees of the budget sphere, etc., the message says.

According to the Institute, since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion, 8.6 million Ukrainians have not returned home after going abroad. The UIF also reports that the fertility rate has already fallen below 1. For the population to grow, this rate must be above 2 – that is, the number of births per number of women of reproductive age.”

Only 40% of Slovaks and 46% of Bulgarians believe in Russia’s attack on Ukraine; figures in Hungary improve, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Research conducted by GLOBSEC. “The organisation has commissioned a representative sociological survey in eight Central and Eastern European countries and compared its results with a similar survey conducted a year ago in the second half of spring 2022. The study included Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Czechia, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Slovakia.

Over the year, the share of those who agree that Russia is primarily responsible for the attack on Ukraine has increased or remained almost unchanged in most of the surveyed countries. Last year, there was only one country where less than half of the citizens supported this opinion – Hungary (48%). Today, Hungarian society has significantly changed its mind, with more than half of Hungarians believing in Russia’s groundless attack – 54%.

However, the results of two other countries, Slovakia and Bulgaria, were disastrous. In Bulgaria, belief in Russia’s guilt of the attack on Ukraine fell from 50% to 46%, while in Slovakia, the dynamics are even more frightening – this figure fell from 51% to 40%, the lowest among the countries surveyed.

The Slovak president has previously expressed concern about the rise of pro-Russian sentiments in his country. Slovak intelligence services have recently exposed Russia’s attempt to rig the upcoming parliamentary elections scheduled for September.”

 

Hans Petter Midttun: Ukraine has started using the Russian hybrid war script for “Donbas 2014” against the Russian Federation.

In 2014, shortly after the Revolution of Dignity (Euromaidan), Russian proxies tried to mirror the revolution in the north, east and south of Ukraine. To stop them from being defeated by Ukrainian volunteers and security and defence forces, Russian forces invaded Donbas on 24 August 2014. Russia started building a proxy force on the occupied territories claiming them to be so-called separatists. They were manned, trained, armed, paid, and supplied by the Russian Federation.

It built its disinformation narrative on the false claim that Ukraine was a failed state and in the process of disintegration. In April 2014, Russia alleged that its agents were not active in Ukraine, that pro-Russia demonstrations were comprised exclusively of Ukrainian citizens acting of their own volition, that separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine enjoyed broad popular support, that the situation in eastern Ukraine risked spiralling into civil war, that Ukrainians in Donetsk rejected the so-called illegitimate authorities in Kyiv and established independent “People’s Republics”, that ethnic Russians in Ukraine were under threat, that Ukraine’s new government was led by radical nationalists and fascists, that ethnic minorities faced persecution in Ukraine from the “fascist” government in Kyiv, and that Russia was not using energy and trade as weapons against Ukraine.

All of the above claims have since been thoroughly and repeatedly debunked. Still, they remain the basis for its “justification” for its illegal and unprovoked full-scale invasion on 24 February 2022.

Russia has long waged war in the cognitive spaces of populations and key decision- and policymakers in both Ukraine and the West. It aims to confuse and manipulate. Using disinformation, cyber-attacks, blackmail, provocations, fabrications, military deceptions, and other active measures, it creates a virtual reality that prompts its victims into making the political decisions Russia wants without suspecting (or acknowledging) they are being manipulated.

Ukraine has started using the Russian hybrid war strategy against the aggressor.

The incursion of the so-called Russian Volunteer Corps (RVC) and the Freedom of Russia Legion (FRL) into Russia follows the same script as the so-called DNR and LNR forces. A pro-Ukrainian and anti-Kremlin force, manned, trained, equipped, and sustained by “someone” has suddenly started operating on Russian territory.

Ukraine is – as Russia has been claiming since 2014 – denying any role while admitting that it provides intelligence.

The RVC was founded by a far-right Russian national last August and allegedly consists of Russians who have been fighting in and for Ukraine against their own country. Ukrainian Defence Intelligence (DIU) says the RVC is an independent underground group inside Russia that also has a unit in the Ukrainian Foreign Legion. The latter says it has nothing to do with the RVC.

According to Reuters, the FRL claim it was formed last spring “out of the wish of Russians to fight in the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine against Putin’s armed gang”.

They claim that their units consist of only Russian citizens and that their military equipment – some of which are Western produced – are “trophies” captured from the Russian Forces on the battlefield. Additionally, they are allegedly receiving hundreds of applications daily from residents of Belgorod, Bryansk, Kursk, and Voronezh who are ready to join.

The aim of the incursions, the groups say, was to force Moscow to redeploy soldiers from occupied areas of Ukraine to defend its borders, stretching its defences ahead of a planned Ukrainian counteroffensive, a goal which aligns with the broader objectives of Ukraine’s military

Additionally, RVC and FRL aim to “liberate the Belgorod region and entire Russia from the dictatorial regime of Vladimir Putin.” They are openly talking about a forthcoming civil war and revolution.

Their narratives are supported by Ukraine. It claims that it has no role in its incursion into Russia. However, it supports and strengthens the key strategic messages.

The scale of internal conflicts in Russia will only increase, with all its combat-ready forces concentrated in Ukraine, and disorder, chaos, anarchy and powerlessness in Russia itself.”

We have already said that the deterioration of the domestic political situation in Russia is predictable. Society cannot accept what is happening for so long or remain silent for so long. This cannot suit, as I hope, the majority of Russians, because this war is destroying not only Ukraine but also Russia. We are watching what is happening. It is clear that the situation will become more complicated, as the Russians do not abandon their plans to fight here, and accordingly, they complicate the situation in their country.”

Events in Belgorod and other border regions of Muscovite showed the complete inability of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation to act effectively against armed Russian rebel groups. Distrust towards the government, fear, and search for a new support base pushes the Russian population towards a path of degradation making them willing to rely on a pocket army of criminals. The Defence Intelligence of Ukraine states that the internal situation in Russia is worsening every day.”

While Ukraine has never acknowledged its responsibility, the hacking of Russian radio and cable network to spread fear and cause chaos, combined with the multiple attacks against railway, fuel and ammunition depots, the defence industry, command and control nodes, airfields, and more inside Russia and occupied territories further help shape the battlefield of the mind.

Russia is not only being defeated at sea, in the air and on land but is now also forced to defend its collective cognitive space. While every Russian attack on Ukraine – including its many war crimes and genocide – only strengthens the Ukrainian resolve, Russians are gradually being exposed to real fear and uncertainty.

Ironically, the Ukrainian efforts are being indirectly (and probably unintentionally) supported by Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin. His messaging further reduces trust, and undermine the Russian narrative and its attempt to operate effectively.

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