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Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 472: The Ukrainian counteroffensive recently began, says Putin

Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 472: The Ukrainian counteroffensive recently began, says Putin

Ukraine makes further gains around Bakhmut and in Western Donetsk. Putin acknowledges that the Ukrainian counteroffensive recently began. Ukrainian officials acknowledge that Ukrainian forces expect to suffer equipment losses during counteroffensive operations. Several independent sources reported additional evidence that an internal explosion likely destroyed the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant.

Daily overview — Summary report, June 10

Source: War Mapper.

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 18.00 pm, June 10, 2023 is in the dropdown menu below:

Situation in Ukraine. June 9, 2023. Source: ISW.

 

[The Russian Federation continues to wage a war of aggression, while completely ignoring International Humanitarian Law. In order to achieve their goals, Russians use terror tactics and carry out strikes and attacks on civilian objects and residential areas.]

[According to precise information, during the period from 00:00 at night to 04:20 [Friday] morning, the Russian occupiers attacked Ukraine with Iranian strike UAVs of the “Shahed” type and Kh-101/Kh-555 air-based cruise missiles against military facilities and critical infrastructure objects.]

[Ukrainian Air Defence Forces in cooperation with the air defence of other components of the Armed Forces of Ukraine destroyed 4 out of 7 Kh-101/Kh-555 cruise missiles, 4 out of 10 strike UAVs “Shahed“, “Lancet” and 4 UAVs of operational-tactical level (“Orlan-10” and “Supercam”).]

Last night, the Russian Federation launched yet another strike against Ukraine. Information on the aftermath of this terrorist attack is currently being updated.

On June 9, the adversary launched 8 missiles and 74 air strikes, 62 MLRS attacks at the positions of Ukrainian troops and various settlements. Unfortunately, the attacks have killed and wounded civilians. Also, a hospital in Hulyaipole, private houses in Zvyahel’ (Zhytomyr oblast), a cultural centre in Ochakiv (Mykolaiv oblast), and other civilian infrastructure in Odesa oblast were destroyed or damaged.

The likelihood of missile and air strikes across Ukraine remains high.

The adversary is focusing its main efforts on attempts to fully occupy Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts, and heavy fighting continues. On June 9, 34 combat engagements took place in the above-mentioned area of the frontline.

  • Volyn and Polissya axes: [the operational situation has not changed significantly. There are no signs of the formation of offensive groupings. Separate units of the armed forces of the Russian Federation continue to be stationed at the training grounds of the Republic of Belarus.]
Luhansk Battle Map. June 9, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Sivershchyna and Slobozhanshchyna axes: the adversary maintains its military presence in the areas of Russia bordering Ukraine. The enemy reinforces its group engaged in border protection with units of territorial troops. On June 9, the enemy launched an airstrike in the vicinity of the settlement of Budarky (Kharkiv oblast). It fired mortars and artillery at Karpovychi, Leonivka, Hrem’yach, Boyaro-Lezhachi, Sosnivka (Chernihiv Oblast), Khliborob, Sorokyne, Iskryskivshchyna, Neskuchne, Volfyne, Pavlivs’ke, Yunakivka, Myropillya, Mezenivka, Slavhorod, Velyka Pysarivka (Sumy oblast), as well as more than 20x settlements in Kharkiv Oblast. These include Basove, Veterynarne, Vysoka Yaruha, Izbyts’ke, Verkhnya Pysarivka, Dmytrivka, Hatyshche, Vovchans’k, Bochkove, Budarky, and Zemlyanky (Kharkiv oblast).
  • Kupiansk axis: the adversary launched airstrikes at Kotlyarivka (Kharkiv oblast) and Stel’makhivka (Luhansk oblast). Dvorichna, Masyutivka, Lyman Pershyi, Kyslivka, Tabaivka, Berestove (Kharkiv oblast), and Novoselivs’ke (Luhansk oblast) came under artillery and mortar fire.
Donetsk Battle Map. June 9, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Lyman axis: on June 9, the adversary conducted unsuccessful offensives in the vicinity of Bilohorivka and Vesele. The occupant forces launched airstrikes at the settlements of Nevs’ke (Luhansk Oblast), Yampolivka, Dronivka, Sivers’k, and Spirne (Donetsk Oblast). Nevs’ke, Bilohorivka (Luhansk oblast), Tors’ke, Dibrova, Verkhn’okam’yans’ke, Spirne, and Rozdolivka (Donetsk oblast) were shelled with artillery.
Bakhmut Battle Map. June 9, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Bakhmut axis: the adversary conducted offensive operations towards Bohdanivka, to no success. The invaders launched airstrikes near Kurdyumivka, Bila Hora, and Toretsk. The enemy fired artillery at the vicinities of settlements of Zvanivka, Nykyforivka, Vasyukivka, Orikhovo-Vasylivka, Novomarkove, Kalynivka, Ivanivske, Bila Hora, Druzhba, Toretsk, and Pivnichne (Donetsk oblast).
  • Avdiivka axis: the adversary made unsuccessful attempts to advance near Sjeverne. The invaders launched airstrikes in the vicinity of Vasylivka, Pervomaiske, and Nevelske (Donetsk oblast). The occupant forces fired artillery at the vicinities of settlements of Novodonetske, Berdychi, Avdiivka, Vodyane, Nevelske, and Pervomaiske (Donetsk oblast).
  • Marinka axis: Ukrainian defenders repelled all enemy attacks in the vicinity of the city of Marinka. The enemy suffered losses. At the same time, the enemy fired artillery in the vicinity of the settlements of Heorhiivka, Mar’inka, Ostrivs’ke, Kurakhove, Dachne, Pobjeda, Novomykhailivka, and Katerynivka (Donetsk oblast).
  • Shakhtarske axis: the enemy launched airstrikes in the vicinity of Velyka Novosilka and Blahodatne. The occupiers shelled the settlements of Vuhledar, Shakhtars’ke, Novoukrainka, Zolota Nyva, and Neskuchne (Donetsk oblast).
Zaporizhzhia Battle Map. June 9, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Zaporizhzhia and Kherson axes: the adversary stays on the defensive. The invaders launched airstrikes in the vicinities of Vremivka, Novosilka, Novopil’ (Donetsk oblast), Ol’hivs’ke, Hulyaipole, and Stepove (Zaporizhzhia oblast). The adversary fired artillery at more than 40 settlements. Among them are Vremivka, Vil’ne Pole (Donetsk oblast), Hulyaipole, Zaliznychne, Bilohir’ya, Mali Shcherbaky, Kam’yans’ke, Zhereb’yanky (Zaporizhzhia oblast), Marhanets’, Nikopol’ (Dnipropetrovsk oblast), Tyahynka (Kherson oblast), and the city of Kherson.
Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. June 9, 2023. Source: ISW.

In the settlements of the temporarily occupied part of Kherson oblast, the Russian occupiers continue to leverage the aftermath of their crime. In particular, they allow only the holders of Russian passports to evacuate from the flooded settlements. The occupiers are also forcibly expelling civilians from any intact homes to make room and accommodate the Russian occupation troops.

[In Arapivka, Luhansk Oblast, about 90 servicemen of the Russian occupation forces, who voluntarily left their combat positions, deserted.]

On June 9, Ukrainian Air Force launched 19 airstrikes on the concentrations of troops and 2 airstrikes on the anti-aircraft missile systems of the adversary.

On June 9, the Ukrainian missile and artillery troops hit 4 command posts, 6 concentrations of troops, weapons, and military equipment, 3 ammunition depots, and 5 enemy artillery units at their firing positions.

Military Updates

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst.

Russian Shahed attack: air defence activated over Odesa and Mykolaiv Oblasts, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Operational Command South. “An air-raid warning was announced in a number of regions [Friday] evening, and the activation of air defence over Odesa and Mykolaiv oblasts was subsequently reported. The command reported that air defence is in operation in the skies over Odesa and Mykolaiv Oblasts. The enemy is attacking with Shahed-136/131 assault drones, the military notes.”

Near Bakhmut, the Armed Forces of Ukraine advanced 1.2 km in some areas in day, – Cherevaty, Censor.net reports, citing Liga.Novyny and Serhii Cherevaty, the spokesman of the Eastern Group of Forces. “Soldiers of the Armed Forces near Bakhmut in a day advanced 1.2 km in some areas, taking advantage of the rotation of the Russians. 

During the day, the enemy shelled the positions of the AFU 368 times, there were 15 combat clashes and five air raids. 120 Russians were killed, 163 were wounded, and 11 were captured. Defence forces hit three cannons, “Nona” mortar system, “Gvozdika” self-propelled artillery system, “Rapira” anti-tank system, “Hrad” MLRS, and three field ammunition depots.

According to Cherevaty, the regular Russian units that enter Bakhmut instead of the terrorists of the Wagner group do not know the area well enough and lack coordination. That’s why we struck; we are carrying out assault operations. During the day, our units advanced in some areas by 1.2 km. This is all within the framework of a defensive operation, the main task is to knock out the enemy’s potential as much as possible, Cherevaty said.”

Ukraine starts counteroffensive against Russia – Western media, Ukrainska Pravda reported Thursday, citing  ABC News and The Washington Post. “Anonymous sources stated in an interview with Western media outlets that on Thursday, 8 June 2023, Ukraine started a long-awaited counteroffensive against Russia. ABC reports that two Ukrainian officials, including a source close to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, confirmed that the active stage of the Ukrainian counteroffensive is ongoing. Last week Western officials stated that well-prepared Ukrainian troops had been gathering in strategic locations near the frontline during the last few days.

The Ukrainian forces intensified their attack at the frontline in the south-east of Ukraine. This information comes from four members of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, who preferred to remain anonymous since they are not allowed to publicly discuss the combat. The Ukrainian forces consist of specialised storm units, armed with Western armament and taught NATO tactics. The attacks in the South-East of Ukraine are a sign that the Ukrainian forces have significantly advanced deep into the Russia-occupied territory.

The so-called Russian war correspondents report about heavy fighting in Zaporizhzhia Oblast. The goal of the Ukrainian forces may be to cut the access of the Russian forces to the so-called ground bridge between mainland Russia and the occupied Crimean Peninsula, cutting the most important supply lines of the Russians. The Western media assumes that the Ukrainian troops may also try to liberate the cities of Melitopol and Enerhodar, where the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) is located.

Hanna Maliar, Ukraine’s Deputy Defence Minister, has reiterated that Ukrainian defence forces’ counteroffensive will not be announced publicly. Arvydas Anušauskas, Chief of the Lithuanian Defence Ministry, has stated that the Ukrainian counteroffensive would begin regardless of Russia’s blowing up of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant, as the timing had been approved.”

US officials confirm Ukrainian advances but say forces suffer losses – CNN, Ukrainska Pravda reported Thursday, citing CNN. “Ukrainian forces have met greater resistance from Russian forces than anticipated in their attempt to breach Russian lines in the vicinity of Bakhmut in recent days. Still, they appear to have made gains. CNN reported that Ukrainian forces managed to overrun some Russian forces in the east around Bakhmut, though Russian forces, armed with anti-tank missiles, grenades and mortars, have put up stiff resistance.

According to a CNN source in the US government, Russian forces have dug into defensive lines that are several layers deep in some areas and marked by minefields that have taken a heavy toll on Ukrainian armored vehicles.

One US official described Ukraine’s losses as significant, and explained that they include the MRAP armoured personnel vehicles that were supplied by the US. However, the US officials quoted in the CNN report said Ukraine’s losses are not expected to impact the larger Ukrainian counteroffensive. US and western officials long expected the counteroffensive to take time and put Ukrainian personnel and equipment, including Western-supplied systems, at high risk, CNN concluded.

On Thursday, 8 June, Ukraine’s 3rd Assault Brigade said its fighters had pushed Russian occupation forces 1.2 km back near Bakhmut, across a 1.8 km section of the frontline, over the course of the day.

There are active battles at front, there are many casualties on both sides, defenders of Ukraine are hitting entire depth of enemy’s battle formations, – Butusov, Censor.net reports, citing Yuriy Butusov, the editor-in-chief of Censor.NET. “The Ukrainian defence forces have effectively stopped the Russian offensive. Russian troops have lost their offensive capabilities in many parts of the frontline. There are active operations at the frontline, I would call it a struggle for tactical initiative. Thanks to these active actions, our defence forces have completely stopped the offensive of the ‘second army in Ukraine’. Somewhere the enemy is more active, somewhere we are, in many areas, Russian troops have lost their offensive capabilities, he wrote.

According to Butusov, our artillery is actively working with precise drone control. Ukraine’s defenders are striking to the depths of the enemy’s combat formations. At the same time, heavy fighting is taking place. There are many casualties on both sides.

Butusov writes that the Russians are conducting an active media campaign to boost the morale of their army. The enemy’s increasing number of drones allows them to post videos of our losses. Of course, the enemy has an advantage in armoured vehicles, aircraft, helicopters, and if Russian intelligence manages to spot the movement of our units in advance, the fighting is tough, he said.

Another airstrike against Ukraine on the night of 9 June, the Ukrainian General Staff reports. “On the night of June 9, 2023, between 10:00 p.m. and 04:00 a.m., the Russian invaders struck Ukraine with Iranian Shahed attack drones and Kh-101/Kh-55 air-based cruise missiles against military facilities and critical infrastructure facilities. “Shaheed” launches were carried out from the south, cruise missiles – from the Caspian Sea region, from four Tu-95ms strategic bombers.

During the attack, up to 16 attack UAVs and six air-based cruise missiles were launched. Air defence forces and means destroyed 4 Kh-101/Kh-55 cruise missiles, 10 Shahed-136/131 attack drones, Lancet and four UAVs of the operational-tactical level (“Orlan-10” and “Supercam”).

Also, at around 8:00 p.m. on June 8, the enemy attacked one of the civilian objects in Cherkasy region with two Kalibr missiles from the Black Sea.”

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

British Intelligence Map.

  • In the last 48 hours significant Ukrainian operations have been taking place in several sectors of eastern and southern Ukraine.
  • In some areas, Ukrainian forces have likely made good progress and penetrated the first line of Russian defences. In others, Ukrainian progress has been slower. Russian performance has been mixed: some units are likely conducting credible manoeuvre defence operations while others have pulled back in some disorder, amid increased reports of Russian casualties as they withdraw through their own minefields.
  • The Russian Airforce has been unusually active over southern Ukraine, where the airspace is more permissive for Russia than in other parts of the country. However, it remains unclear whether tactical airstrikes have been effective.
  • The Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI) was extended by 60 days on 17 May 2023. However, Russia almost certainly continues to hinder grain exports by deliberately slowing inspections and actively blocking some vessels. Currently, only one or two ships are being inspected per day, compared with six to eight in Autumn 2022.
  • Russia is likely attempting to force concessions on the re-opening of the Togliatti-Odesa pipeline, which exports ammonia from Russia through Ukraine, via Odesa. To complicate the situation, in recent days, the pipeline was damaged and is not currently operational.
  • There is likely to be further Russian rhetoric and obstruction of the BSGI in the weeks prior to the next extension deadline of 16 July 2023..

Losses of the Russian army 

As of Saturday 10 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 214660 (+890)
  • Tanks – 3909 (+8)
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 7607 (+7)
  • Artillery systems – 3717 (+15)
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 600 (+1)
  • Air defence means – 362 (+3)
  • Aircraft – 314 (+0)
  • Helicopters – 299 (+0)
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 6428 (+18)
  • Vessels/boats – 18 (+0)
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 3263 (+16)
  • Special equipment – 507 (+5)
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0)
  • Cruise missiles – 1176 (+5)

Russia has received hundreds of Iranian drones to attack Ukraine, says White House, Reuters reports. “Citing newly declassified information, the White House said the drones, or Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), were built in Iran, shipped across the Caspian Sea and then used by Russian forces against Ukraine. Russia has been using Iranian UAVs in recent weeks to strike Kyiv and terrorize the Ukrainian population, and the Russia-Iran military partnership appears to be deepening, White House spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

We are also concerned that Russia is working with Iran to produce Iranian UAVs from inside Russia. Kirby said the US had information that Russia was receiving materials from Iran required to build a drone manufacturing plant that could be fully operational early next year. We are releasing satellite imagery of the planned location of this UAV manufacturing plant in Russia’s Alabuga Special Economic Zone, he said. [….] A White House official said Iran had transferred several hundred drones to Russia since August.

Support between Iran and Russia was flowing both ways, Kirby said, with Iran seeking billions of dollars worth of military equipment from Russia including helicopters and radars. Russia has been offering Iran unprecedented defense cooperation, including on missiles, electronics, and air defence, he said.”

Humanitarian 

How I survived a Russian kamikaze drone attack on Kyiv

48 settlements were flooded in Kherson region, 23 in Mykolaiv region. 5 people are known to have died, 13 people are considered missing, – Ministry of Internal Affairs, Censsor.net reports, citing the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ihor Klymenko. “In the Kherson and Mykolaiv regions, liquidation of the consequences of flooding due to the undermining of the Kakhovka HPP by the Russian invaders continues.”

3,700 houses are underwater on Kherson Oblast’s right bank, while situation on left bank is critical, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Oleksandr Prokudin, Head of the Kherson Oblast Military Administration. “35 settlements are still flooded on the right bank. 3,763 houses are underwater, but the water is receding little by little. [On Friday] morning the average water level was 5.38 metres, but by evening it had dropped to almost 5 metres. In Kherson, the water has receded to the 5.08-metre mark, which is 60 cm below the maximum level. Prokudin said the water in the Kakhovka district is also going down. The water level has dropped by one and a half metres in the liberated settlements of Kozatske and Vesele, as well as in temporarily occupied Nova Kakhovka.

The situation in temporarily occupied Korsunka remains serious. The village is flooded, and the local cemetery is underwater. The cemeteries in the villages of Olhivka and Odradokamianka have also been washed away, Prokudin said.

He noted that the situation on the temporarily occupied left bank remains critical. In the Hola Prystan hromada [a hromada is an administrative unit designating a town, village or several villages and their adjacent territories – ed.], Hola Prystan, Velyka Kardashynka and Mala Kardashynka are 80% flooded. Kardashynka and Kokhany are completely submerged under the water. 60% of Stara Zburivka is flooded. In total, more than 3,100 houses in the area are known to have been flooded.

As for the reservoir itself, as of the evening, the water level has dropped to 11.33 metres… The reservoir is losing 6 centimetres of water per hour. In the Inhulets River, the water level has reached 6.29 metres. The intensity of the rise has decreased. The increase in water should stop in the near future, Prokudin said.

He reported that a total of 2,588 people have been evacuated to safe places.”

Environmental

The blowing up of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Station dam is the largest catastrophe caused by Russian invaders since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine reports. “At night of June 6, Russian occupiers blew up the dam of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Station. As of June 9, the destruction of the dam and the earthen insert between the station building and the locks is ongoing. Within a 24-hour period on June 8, the water level in the Kakhovka water reservoir decreased by nearly 1 meter. Since the morning of June 6, the water level has already dropped by a total of 4.7 meters.

The Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Station dam held a volume of approximately 18 million cubic meters of water. Ukraine has already lost 6.5 million cubic meters of water. An area of about 600 square kilometers in the Kherson region has been flooded. As of the morning of June 9, 46 settlements have been inundated.

In the evening of June 8, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy held a video call with representatives of the global environmental protection community, including politics and public figures, opinion leaders, and environmental experts. In his speech, the President of Ukraine emphasized that the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant disaster is not a natural disaster or a manifestation of the climate crisis, but a disaster ordered by Putin personally.

According to the President, this Russian crime of ecocide is the largest in Europe in decades. The Head of State also drew attention to the fact that due to the destruction of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant dam, fuel storage facilities, warehouses with chemicals and fertilizers, animal burial grounds, including two “anthrax burials” on the temporarily occupied territory, were flooded; sewage got into the water. Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced the creation of a high-level international working group that will consolidate worldwide efforts to bring Russia to justice for the ecocide in Ukraine.

Due to the destruction of the Kakhovka dam, 160,000 birds and over 20,000 wild animals are under threat. This was reported by Ruslan Strilets, the Minister of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine, during a telethon. […]

This is the largest environmental catastrophe in Ukraine since Chernobyl. Approximately 40,000 cubic meters of water are flowing out of the Kakhovka reservoir every second. Ukraine has already lost 6.5 cubic kilometers of water. We are in negotiations with the OSCE and UNEP regarding the involvement of their experts. We need a clear understanding of how this act of ‘desperation’ by the Russians will affect the environment and how we can restore nature where possible, emphasized Minister Ruslan Strilets.

According to Energoatom, despite blowing up of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Station dam by the Russian occupiers, the situation at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant remains under control. As of 8:00 on June 9, the water level in the Kakhovka reservoir near Nikopol is 11.74 meters, while in the cooling pond of the Zaporizhzhia NPP, it is 16.66 meters. This is sufficient to meet the station’s needs. The Zaporizhzhia NPP units have not been operational since September 2022, so active evaporation of water from the cooling pond has not been occurring since then.

Despite numerous calls from the IAEA and world leaders, Russian occupiers continue to transform the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant into a military base. According to the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense, military personnel of the Russian aggressors, armored vehicles, and trucks are constantly present near power units No. 1, 2, and 4, and their numbers are constantly increasing.

Ukrainian employees of the rotating shifts, who are supposed to inspect power units of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant at least 1-2 times a week, are not allowed to do their work. Those who attempted to carry out inspections have been beaten and tortured by Russian terrorists. Several employees of the ZNPP are in critical condition in the hospital.

More than 1,100 km of irrigation canals left without water in Ukraine, Ukrinform reports, citing the press service of the State Agency of Land Reclamation and Fisheries of Ukraine. “As of June 9, 350 pumping stations and irrigation channels with a total length of more than 1,100 km were left without an irrigation source due to the Kakhovka HPP explosion.

It is noted that the Kakhovka irrigation system, largest in Ukraine and Europe and one of the largest in the world, which provided water supply to an area of more than 250,000 ha, lost its only source of irrigation.”

Environmental

The blowing up of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Station dam is the largest catastrophe caused by Russian invaders since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine reports. “At night of June 6, Russian occupiers blew up the dam of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Station. As of June 9, the destruction of the dam and the earthen insert between the station building and the locks is ongoing. Within a 24-hour period on June 8, the water level in the Kakhovka water reservoir decreased by nearly 1 meter. Since the morning of June 6, the water level has already dropped by a total of 4.7 meters.

The Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Station dam held a volume of approximately 18 million cubic meters of water. Ukraine has already lost 6.5 million cubic meters of water. An area of about 600 square kilometers in the Kherson region has been flooded. As of the morning of June 9, 46 settlements have been inundated.

In the evening of June 8, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy held a video call with representatives of the global environmental protection community, including politics and public figures, opinion leaders, and environmental experts. In his speech, the President of Ukraine emphasized that the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant disaster is not a natural disaster or a manifestation of the climate crisis, but a disaster ordered by Putin personally.

According to the President, this Russian crime of ecocide is the largest in Europe in decades. The Head of State also drew attention to the fact that due to the destruction of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant dam, fuel storage facilities, warehouses with chemicals and fertilizers, animal burial grounds, including two “anthrax burials” on the temporarily occupied territory, were flooded; sewage got into the water. Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced the creation of a high-level international working group that will consolidate worldwide efforts to bring Russia to justice for the ecocide in Ukraine.

Due to the destruction of the Kakhovka dam, 160,000 birds and over 20,000 wild animals are under threat. This was reported by Ruslan Strilets, the Minister of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine, during a telethon. […]

This is the largest environmental catastrophe in Ukraine since Chernobyl. Approximately 40,000 cubic meters of water are flowing out of the Kakhovka reservoir every second. Ukraine has already lost 6.5 cubic kilometers of water. We are in negotiations with the OSCE and UNEP regarding the involvement of their experts. We need a clear understanding of how this act of ‘desperation’ by the Russians will affect the environment and how we can restore nature where possible, emphasized Minister Ruslan Strilets.

According to Energoatom, despite blowing up of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Station dam by the Russian occupiers, the situation at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant remains under control. As of 8:00 on June 9, the water level in the Kakhovka reservoir near Nikopol is 11.74 meters, while in the cooling pond of the Zaporizhzhia NPP, it is 16.66 meters. This is sufficient to meet the station’s needs. The Zaporizhzhia NPP units have not been operational since September 2022, so active evaporation of water from the cooling pond has not been occurring since then.

Despite numerous calls from the IAEA and world leaders, Russian occupiers continue to transform the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant into a military base. According to the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense, military personnel of the Russian aggressors, armored vehicles, and trucks are constantly present near power units No. 1, 2, and 4, and their numbers are constantly increasing.

Ukrainian employees of the rotating shifts, who are supposed to inspect power units of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant at least 1-2 times a week, are not allowed to do their work. Those who attempted to carry out inspections have been beaten and tortured by Russian terrorists. Several employees of the ZNPP are in critical condition in the hospital.

More than 1,100 km of irrigation canals left without water in Ukraine, Ukrinform reports, citing the press service of the State Agency of Land Reclamation and Fisheries of Ukraine. “As of June 9, 350 pumping stations and irrigation channels with a total length of more than 1,100 km were left without an irrigation source due to the Kakhovka HPP explosion.

It is noted that the Kakhovka irrigation system, largest in Ukraine and Europe and one of the largest in the world, which provided water supply to an area of more than 250,000 ha, lost its only source of irrigation.”

32 countries join Ukraine’s lawsuit against Russia in UN court under Genocide Convention, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the press service of the UN ICJ on 9 June. “The majority of judges at the UN International Court of Justice (ICJ) have approved a decision whereby 32 states will join a lawsuit Ukraine has filed against Russia on the grounds of its violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

Fourteen of the judges voted for and one against. 26 EU member states – all except Hungary – have joined Ukraine’s lawsuit at the preliminary objection stage, along with Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, Lichtenstein and the UK. However, the court unanimously rejected the US’s request to join Ukraine’s lawsuit against Russia at the preliminary objection stage.

The hearing of the first case brought by Ukraine against Russia, wherein Russia is accused of violating two UN conventions, started on 6 June and will end on 14 June. Consequently, the judgment may potentially be delivered in late 2023 or early 2024.”

Decision to blow up Kakhovka HPP was made by Putin personally, Censor.net reports, citing a representative of the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine Andriy Yusov in an іnterview with “Ukrainian truth”. “The decision to blow up the Kakhovka HPP was made personally by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Now criminal proceedings have been initiated, the investigation is ongoing, and all data is being transferred as part of this investigation. Yes, it was explosives. Yes, it was an internal explosion and controlled detonation. This is the information we can now make public, he said. […]

According to Ukrainian intelligence, no one but Russia had the technical capability to blow up the hydroelectric power plant. The NYT interviewed experts and also concluded that the plant was blown up from the inside. The telegram channel of the 205th motorized rifle brigade of the Russian Federation, which is suspected of blowing up the dam, wrote about the mining of the hydroelectric power plant and the possibility of blowing it up in October 2022.”

US satellites recorded explosion on Kakhovka HPP before it was destroyed, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing The New York Times, with reference to an official of the US presidential administration. “According to a representative of the presidential administration, satellites equipped with infrared sensors detected a thermal trace, which is characteristic of a powerful explosion, immediately before the hydroelectric dam collapsed.

According to the source of the publication, US intelligence analysts are inclined to believe that Russia was behind the explosion. At the same time, he added that US intelligence agencies still do not have convincing evidence of who exactly is responsible. The administration official did not rule out that previous dam damage or increased water pressure could have contributed to the destruction, but US officials believe the explosion, whether intentional or accidental, was the most likely cause of the disaster.

Earlier, the European Commission stated that Russia should bear primary responsibility for the destruction of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant (HPP) since it started the war against Ukraine.

On the morning of 6 June, Operational Command Pivden (South) reported that the Russian occupiers had blown up the Kakhovka HPP. Later, the Oblast Military Administration confirmed this information. Oleksandr Prokudin, Head of Kherson Oblast Military Adminstration, said that the evacuation of the local population from dangerous areas had begun..

Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, called Russia’s blowing up of the Kakhovka HPP a terrible war crime and probably the largest man-made disaster in Europe in recent decades. The incident was condemned by a number of foreign leaders and European officials.”

Interception by SSU confirms that Kakhovka HPP was blown up by subversive group of occupiers, Censor.net reports. “The invaders wanted to blackmail Ukraine by blowing up the dam and causing a man-made disaster in the south of our country. The occupiers tell each other about this in a telephone conversation intercepted by the SSU. It’s not them (the Ukrainian side – Ed.) who did it. Our sabotage group is there. They wanted to scare people with this dam. It didn’t go according to plan, but more than they planned, says the Russian military. […]

The investigation was initiated under two articles of the Criminal Code – Article 438 (violation of the laws and customs of war) and Article 441 (ecocide).”

Support

Ukraine is unlikely to get an invitation to NATO at Vilnius summit – US ambassador, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Politico. “Julianne Smith, the US Ambassador under NATO, believes that the members of the alliance consider it unlikely that Ukraine’s invitation to NATO will be approved at the NATO summit in Vilnius next month. I think the allies now are in agreement that a proper invitation [of Ukraine to NATO – ed.] is unlikely while they’re [Ukrainians – ed.] engaged in a full-scale war, Smith believes. At the same time she insists that NATO assures Ukraine of long-term support and tries to find a way to demonstrate it in Vilnius. […]

Smith remarked that between the invitation of Ukraine to become a NATO member and the decision of the Bucharest NATO summit there is an array of options and added that the latest meeting of the foreign affairs ministers of the NATO member states in Oslo played an important role in the discussion of this issue. We are much closer to a landing zone than we were three or four months ago, Smith stated. […]

Earlier, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the President of Ukraine, stated that he understands that it is impossible for Ukraine to ascend to NATO during the war but sees no point in participating in the NATO summit in Vilnius if Ukraine will not receive specific signals about joining the alliance.”

Scholz, Macron, and Duda will discuss security guarantees for Ukraine in Paris, – Politico, Censor.net reports, citing Politico. “The leaders of Germany, France and Poland will meet to work out a common position ahead of the NATO summit in July. Scholz, Macron, and Duda will meet over dinner and discuss Ukraine’s aspirations for NATO membership and the security guarantees its allies can provide.

The publication notes: NATO members agree that Ukraine will not be able to join the Alliance as long as the war with the Russian Federation continues. As for how exactly to respond to her desire to do so, opinions were divided. Poland has traditionally demanded strong security guarantees for Ukraine. Macron made a similar statement last week. But Sholtz is more cautious: he says that the focus should be on how we can support Ukraine.

Politico quotes a French diplomat as saying that NATO should send a strong signal to Russia when the Ukrainian counteroffensive begins. “If we don’t find a solution that satisfies everyone, there is a risk that we will not reach … a unified statement and that will obviously be the biggest gift we can give to Russia,” the diplomat said.

Scholz, Macron, and Duda are also going to discuss issues of defense and European sovereignty.”

Pentagon will announce a new package of military assistance to Ukraine worth more than $2 billion, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Bloomberg. “The Pentagon is set to announce a long-term package of military assistance to Ukraine on Friday, including air defence equipment, which will be worth more than $2 billion.

The funds, allocated under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, will be used to purchase Hawk missile launchers and missiles, as well as GEM-T and PAC-3 missiles for the Patriot air defence system. The publication notes that the announcement will be made as military analysts say that Ukraine’s long-anticipated counteroffensive is getting underway.”

Belgium to supply Ukraine with 105mm ammunition worth $35 million, Reuters reports. “Belgium will supply Ukraine with 105mm artillery rounds worth 32.4 million euros ($35 million), a spokesperson for Belgium’s defence ministry said on Friday. The ammunition will be purchased from Belgian industry and will be delivered as soon as possible, a statement said.”

US Congress introduces resolution demanding provision of ATACMS to Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing European Pravda. “On Friday, members of the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs representing the Democratic and Republican parties announced a resolution calling on President Joe Biden’s administration to hand over ATACMS long-range missiles to Ukraine. According to Republican Michael McCall, the co-author of the Resolution, and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, if the United States does not provide Ukraine with all the necessary weapons, it will help prolong the war.

The success of the Ukrainian counteroffensive is directly related to the military assistance provided by the United States and our allies. Therefore, it is extremely disappointing that the administration is delaying billions of dollars of military funding, which could be immediately transferred to Ukraine and in turn help its Armed Forces significantly change the situation on the battlefield, he said.

In the document, the decisions of the governments of the UK and France to transfer Storm Shadow and SCALP-EG long-range missiles, respectively, both with a range of 250 kilometres, are mentioned. The United States and its allies jointly own thousands of ATACMS missiles that could be transferred to Ukraine, the draft resolution said, stating that Russia’s current dominance in long-range weapons forces Ukrainian forces to fight at a much greater disadvantage”.

If passed, the House of Representatives will call on the United States to immediately transfer to Ukraine a sufficient number of ATACMS to accelerate Ukraine’s victory in Russia’s unprovoked aggressive war, while maintaining the combat readiness of the US military. The expeditious provision of this critical weapon system will provide the Ukrainian military with a critical deep-strike capability they currently lack, disrupt Russia’s warfighting ability, and could hasten Ukraine’s victory, the resolution says.”

New Developments

  1. Putin notes start of Ukrainian counteroffensive, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing RIA Novosti. “Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that the Ukrainian counteroffensive has started. We can say with absolute certainty that this offensive has started. A sign of this is the deployment of strategic reserves of the Ukrainian army. Putin added that in no combat area have the Ukrainians achieved their goals.”
  2. Putin says tactical nuclear weapons to be deployed in Belarus in July, ReutersRussia will start deploying tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus after special storage facilities are made ready on July 7-8, President Vladimir Putin said on Friday, Moscow’s first move of such warheads outside Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union. Putin announced in March he had agreed todeploy such weapons in Belarus, pointing to U.S deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in a host of European countries over many decades.”
  3. Question of Ukraine’s membership in NATO is almost resolved, Putin does not have right of veto, – Stoltenberg, net reports, citing Voice of America and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. “Allies have repeatedly stated that they agree that Ukraine will become a member of the Alliance. The last time all NATO Allies made this statement was at the Summit in Madrid last summer. Later, we unanimously decided that only Ukraine and the members of the organization should decide when it is time to formally invite Ukraine to join NATO. And this does not depend on Moscow and Putin. He has no veto over NATO’s expansion, he explained. Stoltenberg added that there is agreement on another important issue – Ukraine’s victory in the war, not Putin’s. Because if Ukraine ceases to exist as a sovereign, independent, democratic, European state, then discussing its membership in NATO will make no sense at all, the Alliance’s Secretary General added.”
  4. NATO may base troops in Sweden before Stockholm joins, government says, ReutersSweden will allow NATO to base troops on its territory even before it formally joins the defence alliance, the prime minister and defence minister said on Friday. Sweden applied last year to join NATO as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Objections from Türkiye and Hungary have delayed the bid and Sweden now hopes to joinby a NATO summit in Lithuania next month. The government has decided that the Swedish Armed Forces may undertake preparations with NATO and NATO countries to enable future joint operations, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and Defence Minister Pal Jonson said.”
  5. Russia and Belarus want talks again – Lukashenko, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Belarusian President’s Telegram channel Pul Pervogo. “At a meeting with the secretaries of the security councils of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation member states, self-proclaimed Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and Russian dictator Vladimir Putin once again called for negotiations to achieve “peace” in the war against Ukraine. We need to sit down at the negotiating table. This is the position of the Russian president, and this has been the Belarusian position from the very beginning. I know this one hundred per cent, probably more than anyone else. Because we often communicate with the Russian president. So peace and only peace. At the same time, Lukashenko accused the West of not wanting peace as understood by the Russian and Belarusian authorities. The West has grabbed hold of Ukraine with a firm grip in order to crush Russia under its feet, to wipe its feet on it, the Belarusian dictator said. However, according to him, the Russian and Belarusian presidents will not kneel down. So we need to negotiate while it is still possible. It will get worse, Lukashenko threatened.”
  6. Ukrainian Foreign Minister on UN’s reaction to Kakhovka dam tragedy: Silent as if their mouths were filled with water, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing European Pravda. “Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba sharply criticised the United Nations’ response to Russia’s blowing up of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant (HPP) dam. According to the minister, The UN made a very specific mistake: on the day when we had a terrorist attack and a crime of genocide, they celebrated the day of the Russian language, they were silent about the event as if their mouths were filled with water.”

Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of  June 9, 2022:

Russian and Ukrainian forces conducted limited and localized ground attacks south of Kreminna on June 9. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian ground attacks near Bilohorivka (10km south of Kreminna) and Vesele (32km south of Kreminna). The Russian Southern Group of Forces spokesperson claimed that Russian sources repelled three Ukrainian ground attacks in the Lysychansk direction. A Russian milblogger indicated that limited engagements near Bilohorivka continue and claimed that the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) 123rd Motorized Rifle Brigade made marginal advances in the area. Former LNR official Rodion Miroshnik claimed that Russian forces control most of Bilohorivka, but ISW is unable to confirm this claim. Geolocated combat footage published on June 9 shows that the Russan 24th Separate Guards Spetsnaz Brigade continues to operate in the Kreminna area. Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Serhiy Cherevaty also stated that Russian forces are anticipating Ukrainian attacks but are unsure where Ukrainian forces would attack on the Luhansk frontline.

Ukrainian and Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks around Bakhmut on June 9. Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar reported that Ukrainian forces are conducting active operations in the Bakhmut area. Ukrainian Ground Forces Commander Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi reported that Ukrainian operations are ongoing in the Bakhmut direction and that Russian forces are on the defensive in Bakhmut. Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Serhiy Cherevaty reported that Russian and Ukrainian forces conducted 15 engagements near Bakhmut on June 9. A Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces made limited advances west of Berkhivka (6km northwest of Bakhmut) and toward Klishchiivka (7km southwest of Bakhmut), and that Ukrainian forces conducted assault operations near Dubovo-Vasylivka (6km northwest of Bakhmut). The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations near: Orikhovo-Vasylivka (11km northwest of Bakhmut), Bohdanivka (5km northwest of Bakhmut), Ivanivske (6k west of Bakhmut), Bila Hora (12km southwest of Bakhmut), and Stupochky (13km southwest of Bakhmut). Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces conducted ground attacks southwest of Berkhivka. Another milblogger amplified footage on June 8 purportedly showing the 200th Separate Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade of the 14th Army Corps (Northern Fleet) operating near Bakhmut.

Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line on June 9. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive actions near Opytne (3km southwest of Avdiivka), Sieverne (6km west of Avdiivka), and Nevelske (13km southwest of Avdiivka) and that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian attacks near Marinka. Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces conducted assault operations near Sieverne (6km west of Avdiivka) and Pervomaiske (11km southwest of Avdiivka). The Ukrainian General Staff reported that a Chechen “Akhmat” unit is operating, looting goods, and filming staged combat videos in the southwestern part of Donetsk City.

Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations in at least four areas of the front on June 9. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that Russian forces repelled limited and localized Ukrainian ground attacks in the Kreminna area. Ukrainian officials stated on June 9 that Ukrainian forces advanced 1.2 kilometers in continued offensive operations near Bakhmut on June 8. Ukrainian forces continued limited counteroffensive operations in western Donetsk Oblast near the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia Oblast border on June 9, and made tactical gains in the area. Ukrainian forces also continued ground attacks in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast overnight from June 8 to 9 and during the day on June 9, and a Russian source suggested that Ukrainian forces made incremental gains during the attacks.

Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledged on June 9 that the Ukrainian counteroffensive recently began and noted that Ukrainian forces still have offensive potential, a departure from previous Kremlin efforts to downplay Ukrainian counteroffensives. Putin stated that fighting has been ongoing for five days and claimed that Ukrainian forces “did not reach their aims in any area of combat” after committing “strategic reserves.” Putin claimed that Ukrainian forces suffered significant losses and attributed Russian successes to superior Russian military equipment and personnel. Putin added that the Russian military command is “realistically” assessing the current situation and “will proceed from these realities.” Putin’s discussion of the Ukrainian counter-offensive is a notable departure from his previous distanced approach to discussing battlefield realities and may indicate that the Kremlin is learning from its previous failed approach to rhetorically downplay successful Ukrainian counteroffensives in 2022. ISW previously reported on May 2 that the Kremlin reportedly adopted a new information policy directing officials to not downplay the prospects of a Ukrainian counteroffensive and focus on the Russian fight against Western-provided weapon systems.

Contrarily, much of the Russian information space prematurely claimed that the Ukrainian counteroffensive has failed after Russian forces damaged more Western-provided Ukrainian military equipment on June 9. Battlefield footage shows damaged or destroyed Western-provided infantry fighting vehicles and tanks in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast, though the number of Ukrainian vehicles several Russian sources claimed Russian forces destroyed are highly inflated. Ukrainian forces previously lost military equipment in the same location on June 8. Some prominent Russian ultranationalists claimed that damaged or destroyed Western-provided equipment indicated that Ukrainian forces failed to launch a large-scale counteroffensive. Russian nationalists are widely celebrating the 58th Combined Arms Army (Southern Military District), despite Russian forces only executing basic defensive operations that should not be so unusual as to deserve wide praise. One Kremlin-affiliated milblogger claimed that Ukrainian offensive activity is in the decline, while a retired Russian general expressed gratitude to elements of the Russian 58th Combined Arms Army and proclaimed these elements as heroes despite battles continuing along different frontlines. Another Russian milblogger claimed that a counteroffensive can only last up to 10 to 15 days, implying that Ukrainian counteroffensive will soon culminate. However, other ultranationalists warned that Ukrainian forces have not yet carried out the main offensive and noted that Russian forces are reinforcing the second echelon in anticipation of Ukrainian breakthroughs. A Wagner-affiliated milblogger condemned the excessive enthusiasm around the destruction of Ukrainian military equipment, noting that Western kit is not “some kind of magic.” Many Russian ultranationalists appear to be overcorrecting for their previous fears of the Ukrainian counteroffensive.

Ukrainian officials directly acknowledged that Ukrainian forces expect to suffer equipment losses during counteroffensive operations. Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar stated on June 9 that losses are expected during combat operations and that “military equipment that cannot be destroyed” has yet to be invented. Maliar added that Russian sources are heavily amplifying footage of Ukrainian equipment losses for informational effects. The Economist reported that Ukrainian forces are using critical Western equipment in areas of the frontline where Ukrainian forces have recently suffered equipment losses. ISW previously assessed that Ukrainian forces appear to have committed only a portion of their available reserves for current counteroffensive operations, and that the existing reports of damaged Western-provided equipment are not a definitive measure of current Ukrainian combat power. Available footage of Ukrainian equipment losses additionally indicates that many of these armored vehicles have been rendered immobile, but not outright destroyed, and are likely recoverable by Ukrainian forces. The footage also suggests that the Ukrainian crews of these armored vehicles, who are far more valuable than the vehicles themselves and can remount new or repaired vehicles, likely survived and withdrew once the vehicles became immobilized.

The Russian command structure responsible for areas of southern Ukraine is unclear and likely overlapping. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) published a video statement on June 8 from the commander of the Russian grouping in the Zaporizhzhia operational direction, Colonel General Alexander Romanchuk, wherein he reported details about Ukrainian assaults in southern Ukraine. Romanchuk is reportedly the Deputy Commander of the Southern Military District (SMD), although his level of responsibility for southern Ukraine remains unclear. A Russian colonel previously claimed that Russian Airborne Forces (VDV) commander Colonel General Mikhail Teplinksy also played a decisive role in commanding Russian forces that repelled recent Ukrainian assaults in southern Ukraine. Teplinsky is rumored to be deputy theater commander and responsible for the Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, and southern Donetsk operational directions. It is unclear if Romanchuk would report to Teplinsky or SMD Commander Colonel General Sergey Kuzovlev. The Russian MoD also claimed that overall theater commander and Chief of the Russian General Staff Army General Valery Gerasimov took command of Russian operations in southern Ukraine on June 5. The command relations between these four officers — Romanchuk, Teplinsky, Kuzovlev, and Gerasimov — who have all been described as primarily responsible for Russian forces in this area are unclear. […]

Several independent sources reported additional evidence that an internal explosion likely destroyed the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant (KHPP) dam on June 6. Norwegian seismic monitoring center NORSAR reported that seismic data indicates that an explosion occurred on June 6 at 2:54am local time, about the same time as the collapse of the KHPP dam. NORSAR seismologist Volker Oye stated that seismic data indicated a pulse of energy that was “typical of an explosion.” Seismic data cannot locate the energy pulse of the explosion to a more exact location than within 20 to 30km of the KHPP, however. Oye stated that it would be an “unusual coincidence” if something other than an explosion caused the energy pulse. The New York Times reported that an unnamed senior White House official stated that US spy satellites equipped with infrared sensors detected an explosion at the KHPP dam before it collapsed. The Wall Street Journal reported that multiple engineers and munition experts assessed that an explosive blast likely detonated at a specific point or multiple points of weakness, which destroyed the KHPP dam. ISW previously reported that engineering and munitions experts that the New York Times interviewed believe that a deliberate explosion caused the KHPP dam’s collapse. The preponderance of evidence suggests that a deliberate explosion damaged the KHPP dam. ISW continues to assess that the balance of evidence, reasoning, and rhetoric suggests that the Russians deliberately damaged the dam.

The White House revealed on June 9 that Iran is helping Russia build a drone manufacturing factory in Yelabuga, Republic of Tatarstan, Russia, underscoring the growing military cooperation between Tehran and Moscow despite Western sanctions. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby stated on June 9 that the drone factory — which the Wall Street Journal reported in February 2023 could produce at least 6,000 Iranian Shahed-136 drones — could be operational by early 2024. Kirby previously announced on May 15 that Russia is seeking to purchase new drones from Iran after expending most of its Iranian drone supply. A factory producing Iranian drones in Russia would support Russia’s war effort against Ukraine. Russia could provide Iran with advanced military equipment that would modernize Iran’s air force, such as Su-35 fighter jets, attack helicopters, radars, and YAK-130 combat trainer aircraft, in return for helping construct the factory. Officials of an unspecified US ally previously stated that Iranian officials travelled to Yelabuga in January 2023 to discuss the construction of a new drone manufacturing facility in the city, reporting the same claim the facility could produce 6,000 or more drones in the coming years.

Chief of the Russian General Staff Army General Valery Gerasimov discussed increasing Russian-Chinese military cooperation with Chinese Central Military Commission (CMC) Joint Staff Department Chief of Staff Liu Zhenli on June 9. Gerasimov emphasized the importance of joint military exercises within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Association of South East Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) Defense Ministers Meeting (SMOA Plus) format. Gerasimov also claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping confirmed that Russian–Chinese strategic cooperation is at “the highest level.”

Key Takeaways

  • Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations in at least four areas of the front on June 9, making further gains around Bakhmut and in Western Donetsk.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledged on June 9 that the Ukrainian counteroffensive recently began and noted that Ukrainian forces still have offensive potential, a departure from previous Kremlin efforts to downplay Ukrainian counteroffensives.
  • Contrarily, much of the Russian information space prematurely claimed that the Ukrainian counteroffensive has failed after Russian forces damaged more Western-provided Ukrainian military equipment on June 9.
  • Ukrainian officials directly acknowledged that Ukrainian forces expect to suffer equipment losses during counteroffensive operations.
  • The Russian command structure responsible for areas of southern Ukraine is unclear and likely overlapping.
  • Russian forces carried out missile and drone strikes across Ukraine on the night of June 8 to 9.
  • Several independent sources reported additional evidence that an internal explosion likely destroyed the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant (KHPP) dam on June 6.
  • The White House revealed on June 9 that Iran is helping Russia build a drone manufacturing factory in Yelabuga, Republic of Tatarstan, Russia, underscoring the growing military cooperation between Tehran and Moscow despite Western sanctions.
  • Chief of the Russian General Staff Army General Valery Gerasimov discussed increasing Russian-Chinese military cooperation with Chinese Central Military Commission (CMC) Joint Staff Department Chief of Staff Liu Zhenli on June 9.
  • Russian and Ukrainian forces conducted limited and localized ground attacks south of Kreminna.
  • Russian forces continued ground attacks near Bakhmut and on the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line.
  • Ukrainian forces continued limited ground attacks on the administrative border between Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia oblasts and in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
  • Russia continues to evade international sanctions and has reportedly restored access to key Western microchips and electronics that Russia needs to produce military equipment.
  • A Ukrainian report states that Russian authorities may be preparing evacuations from northern Crimea.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on June 9 that Russia will begin deploying tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus in July 2023, and this is not an escalation from Putin’s prior nuclear weapons rhetoric.

Russian military bloggers split on Ukraine assault in south, official Kyiv says it’s not the big offensive, Kyiv Post reported Thursday. “Russian military bloggers on Thursday were split on the progress of a substantial Ukrainian ground attack launched overnight in the Zaporizhzhia sector, as a senior Kyiv official said the Ukrainian army’s long-awaited counteroffensive is yet to be launched. In one of the most detailed descriptions of combat reportedly taking place in the vicinity of the city Orikhiv, Russian military writer Aleksandr Sladkov claimed elements of Russia’s 42nd Motor Rifle Division threw back a series of Ukrainian tank and armored infantry assaults, inflicting serious losses on attackers.

Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) units riding as many as 120 tanks and armored personnel carriers, and backed by heavy artillery strikes, assaulted Russian lines three times in assaults starting at 1 a.m., Sladkov said in a Vblog, citing messages he said he received from Russian combat units involved in the fighting. Russian land mines, artillery fire and anti-tank missiles destroyed around 20 Ukrainian combat vehicles by morning and Russian defense lines were strong and holding, he claimed.

Russian military “journalist” Simyon Pegov, in a 10:30 a.m. post, reported four Ukrainian armored columns each led by four or five tanks attacked Russian positions to the east and west of Orikhiv. Over the day Ukrainian assaults and attempts to break through along the Orikhiv-Tokmak highway did not stop, he said. It’s too early to say the Ukrainian assault has failed. From the combat positions they are saying that in the direction of Orikhiv-Tokmak the enemy (AFU) infantry is still advancing and trying to dig in. Like before (in overnight fighting), enemy artillery and tanks are working over our positions intensively, Pegov said. In a 13:00 update, Pegov said fighting was continuing and that Russian forces were taking losses.

The independent military cartography group DeepState on Thursday confirmed Russian reports of serious fighting, saying heavy battles were in progress in a 20-km. section of the southern from between the town Orikhiv and the village Pavlikva, to the west of the Orikhiv-Tokmak highway. Many Russian sources reported some of the heaviest Ukrainian artillery fire seen yet in the war. Some said Russian positions were being hit by “tons” of shells. Sladkov claimed one infantry company – a relatively small unit of 80-150 men – was hit by more than 1,000 howitzer rounds overnight. 

Multiple sources claimed AFU units were firing HIMARS guided missiles – a US-delivered precision-guided weapon the Ukrainian military has rarely used against frontline positions in the past – at Russian defensive positions. Russian tank and attack helicopters held in reserve were committed to the Orikhiv line, other reports said. For the second time in three days, scattered Russian Telegram channels reported German Leopard tanks on the line and under fire, but without conclusive evidence.

The Russian Telegram channel Voin DV claimed that a Ukrainian assault between Zaporizhzhia villages Rabotyne and Verbove was effectively wiped out, with the AFU’s 65th Mechanized Brigade allegedly losing fifteen tanks, four infantry fighting vehicles and nine armored personnel carriers. “Evidence” backing up the claim included drone images without a clear date or location. Kyiv Post was unable to confirm the Voin DV claims.

Ukraine’s Army General Staff in its Thursday morning situation report made practically no mention of ground fighting in the Zaporizhzhia sector, reporting AFU units “repelled” Russian attacks along the Orikhiv-Vasylivka line, and listing Russian artillery and shell strikes made against villages and positions over the past 24 hours. Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security Council, in Wednesday evening remarks during a nationally televised news telethon, reiterated the longstanding official Kyiv narrative that, although military activity across the war’s 1,500 km. has been intensifying for some time, the big Ukrainian counteroffensive has not started. The national leadership will soon kick it off, he said. […]

A possible objective for Ukraine’s big offensive could be the town of Tokmak, an important Russian army logistics and supply hub to the south of Orikhiv. 

The AFU for more than a month has increasingly targeted Russian artillery, according to most analysts as part of a strategy of weakening Kremlin forces’ ability to shoot back at a general offensive. By late May Ukrainian forces were claiming an average of 15-20 Russian howitzers or rocket launchers destroyed daily. Starting Monday, according to these official Ukrainian estimates, the pace of Russian artillery has spiked dramatically and, on some days, almost tripled, with 42 systems claimed put out of action on Monday, 41 on Tuesday and 29 on Wednesday.”

Russian sources provided explanations for its claimed successes during the June 8 attacks, ISW reports. “Russian sources are praising Russian forces’ effective use of electronic warfare (EW) systems, air support, and landmines against Ukrainian forces. 

Multiple Russian sources reported that Russian EW severely interfered with Ukrainian command and control signals, GPS-enabled devices, UAV controls. Russian sources reported that Ukrainian forces had insufficient air defense in the Orikhiv sector, that Russian forces operated with an unprecedented amount of rotary wing air support, and that Russian aviation was able to return to a high level of activity after not actively engaging in combat operations since the beginning of the full-scale invasion in 2022. Continuous Russian missile and drone attacks against Kyiv and critical Ukrainian infrastructure may have fixed Ukraine’s more advanced air defense systems away from the frontline, although ISW cannot assess which systems would be effective against the kinds of air support missions Russian aircraft were flying. ISW’s previous assessments that Russian air and missile attacks were not setting conditions to defend against the Ukrainian counter-offensive may thus have been inaccurate.

Russian sources also praised at length their claimed defensive success using layered field fortifications and landmines, with Major General Popov stating that Russian minefields played a “very important role” in defeating the initial Ukrainian advance in the early hours of June 8. CNN additionally reported that an anonymous US official said that Russian landmines degraded Ukrainian armored vehicles.

Russian forces appear to have executed their formal tactical defensive doctrine in response to the Ukrainian attacks southwest of Orikhiv. Russian doctrine for a defending motorized rifle battalion calls for a first echelon of troops to repel or slow attacking forces with minefields, fortifications, and strongpoints, with a second echelon of forces counterattacking against an enemy breakthrough. Russian forces apparently operated in this fashion in this sector – Ukrainian forces penetrated the initial defensive lines; Russian forces pulled back to a second line of fortifications; and Russian reserves subsequently counterattacked to retake the initial line of defenses. This maneuver is a regular feature of defensive operations and has been executed by both Ukrainian and Russian forces throughout the war. Early control of terrain changes day to day should thus not be misconstrued as the overall result of a wider attack.

Ukrainian attacks in western Zaporizhzhia on June 8 do not represent the full extent of Ukrainian capabilities in the current counteroffensive. Ukraine previously demonstrated the ability to conduct a coordinated and effective offensive operation using multiple mechanized brigades as early as September 2022 during the liberation of Kharkiv Oblast. Ukrainian forces possessed this capability – in terms of both available forces and the capacity to coordinate complex attacks – before the provision of Western kit for offensive brigades and additional training from NATO partners.

Ukraine’s counteroffensive will likely consist of many undertakings of varied size, including more localized attacks as observed in this sector on June 8, and the smaller efforts do not represent the maximum capacity of Ukrainian numbers or effectiveness. Ukraine reportedly formed 12 dedicated counteroffensive brigades, nine equipped with Western kit and three with existing equipment, and these units will almost certainly be joined by experienced Ukrainian units already online. Ukraine appears to have committed only a portion of the large reserve of forces available for counteroffensive operations, and observers should avoid counting down reported Ukrainian brigades committed or reportedly damaged Western kit as the measure of the remaining effective combat power of Ukrainian forces.

It is additionally noteworthy that the Russian Southern Military District Forces deployed in this particular area are likely to be a higher quality force grouping than Russia has elsewhere in theater, and their defensive performance is unlikely to be reflective of defensive capabilities of Russian groupings elsewhere on the front. […] The Russian defense of this sector should not be taken as indicative of overall Russian defensive capabilities as Ukraine continues counter-offensive operations. Russian forces defending in other sectors have indeed performed much more poorly. Ukraine, having recently regained the battlefield initiative across the theater, will be able to choose exactly where in to continue attacking based on observed defensive capabilities of various Russian groupings along the frontline among other factors.”

Occupiers are creating “militia” in Crimea due to fear of counteroffensive by AFU, Censor.net reports, citing Krym.Realii. “The head of the occupying “authority” in Crimea, Serhiy Aksyonov, said that a “militia” would be formed on the peninsula. It should take part in repelling the counteroffensive of the AFU. 

Our Crimean militia, I can’t say the number at the moment, but the forces and means are more than enough to carry out tasks for the defense of Crimea, we have formed. All commanders have been appointed. All have visited their areas of responsibility, Aksyonov said.”

Russian propaganda wants to shift blame for hydroelectric power plant explosion from Russia to Zelenskyy, Censor.net, citing Ukraine’s Defence Intelligence. “Russia, as the aggressor state, has come up with another information operation to discredit Ukraine and its military and political leadership, namely the tragedy at the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station.  The joint efforts of Ukraine’s intelligence community have provided information that a Russian social engineering agency has launched a new stage of a campaign to discredit the Ukrainian military command and Ukrainian statesmen.

As part of this campaign, a number of provocative materials have been prepared which, according to the authors, should shift responsibility for the explosion at the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station dam onto Ukraine and create the preconditions for a political crisis.”:

According to Defence Intelligence, the prepared headlines are clickbait, containing direct accusations against the military and political leadership, particularly the President of Ukraine, such as: – If I can’t have you, no one can! Desperate to succeed in a possible offensive, Zelenskyy turned to scorched earth tactics, but directed them against his own people.”

 

  1. Consequences and what to do?

 

Hans Petter Midttun: I have previously addressed the issue of Russian credibility. It has none. In the article “Russia has no credibility. So stop reporting what it claims in Olenivka” I argued that:

Freedom of bias is crucial in a situation where we don’t know the facts or don’t have access to all the evidence. The presumption of innocence is a legal principle that anyone accused of any crime is considered innocent until proven guilty; it also guides us when we address atrocities and war crimes.

Our choice of words, however, is extremely important. In the act of being politically correct and adhering to the rule of “objectivity,” we run the risk of ignoring what we already know as facts. More crucially, the act of balancing includes the risk of lending credit to the aggressor while diminishing that of the victim.

After having followed Russia’s war against Ukraine closely since 20 February 2014 and after having served as a Defence Attaché in Ukraine from 2014-18, I will claim to have established an objective view of the credibility of Russia and Ukraine.

The short version is that when it comes to truth and lies, Russia and Ukraine are two distinctly different countries. It is as distinctive as night and day.

Where Russia is an autocracy that has weaponized information and uses disinformation to confuse and manipulates as a part of its hybrid war, Ukraine is a democracy that – like any NATO or EU member state – adheres to fundamental human rights. In contrast to Russia, the president, government, and parliament are held accountable by the people.

“Objectivity” – the freedom from bias – and the use of phrases like “Russia and Ukraine claim,” “Russia and Ukraine allege,” and “Russia and Ukraine accuse each other,” have become both a part of our vocabulary and journalistic standards. That should, however, not stop us from adding credibility to the equation.

While Ukraine is not perfect, Russia is outright broken. We cannot continue addressing them as a peer.

One is an aggressor, and the other is a victim. One represents autocracy, the other democracy. One is at war against our shared values, while the other represents and defends them. One is assaulting the international rule of law, while the other is protecting it. One uses the information to confuse and manipulate, while the other uses it to inspire us. One lies and one represents truth. And between the two, only Ukraine is credible.”

I am reiterating the text because the media is still not addressing the issue of Russian credibility. This is demonstrated in its coverage of the Russian destruction of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Station dam. After 9 years of war, Ukrainian media knows Russia intimately and is well familiar with both its hybrid war and influence operations. After having ignored the first 8 years of the war, international media is not yet up to speed.

Timothy Snyder, Levin Professor of History at Yale, nailed the issue when he published what he believes should be guidelines for writing about the Nova Kakhovka Dam catastrophe (and all other war crimes committed in Ukraine):

  • Avoid the temptation to “bothsides” a calamity. That’s not journalism.
  • When a Russian spokesperson claims that Ukraine did something (e.g. blow a dam), this is not part of a story of an event in the real world. It is part of a different story: about all the outrageous claims Russia has made about Ukraine since invading in 2014.
  • Citing Russian claims next to Ukrainian claims is unfair to the Ukrainians. What Russian spokespersons have said has almost always been untrue, whereas what Ukrainian spokespersons have said has largely been reliable. The juxtaposition suggests a false equality.
  • If a Russian spokesman (e.g. Dmitri Peskov) must be cited, it must be mentioned that this specific figure has lied about every aspect of this war. This is not insult but context. Readers picking up the story in the middle need to know the background.
  • If Russian propaganda for external consumption is cited, so must that for internal consumption. Propagandists long argued that Ukrainian dams should be blown. A Russian parliamentarian takes for granted Russia blew the dam and rejoices. […]
  • The story doesn’t start at the moment the dam explodes. For the last fifteen months Russia has been killing Ukrainian civilians and destroying Ukrainian civilian infrastructure, whereas Ukraine has been trying to protect its people and the structures that keep them alive. […]
  • Objectivity does not mean treating an event as a coin flip between two public statements. It demands thinking about the objects and the settings that readers require for understanding amidst uncertainty.”

His recommendations are a great reminder when it comes to coverage of the war itself. Ukraine has focused on operations security (opsec) to protect critical information and deny Russia the ability to exploit open-source information. The efforts are supported by Ukrainian media which has taken the role of British media during WW2 seeing itself as a part of Ukraine’s total defence efforts (in contrast to international media which sees itself as an “objective third-party” reporting on wars from afar.

Unfortunately, it leaves the information space open for Russian exploitation. Russian officials, experts and bloggers are widely quoted by international media. According to the Strategic Communications Department of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Russians have intensified the spread of fakes about the alleged “offensive” of Defence Forces. It tends to exaggerate Ukrainian losses and Russian success.

Being fed video recordings – both new, old and manipulated – does not provide a complete picture of the military situation.

In the words of Micheal Kofman, Director, Russia Studies at CNA:

Early impression is that this looks much closer to Kherson than Kharkiv. Those who thought it would be difficult, with high levels of attrition, are therefore not surprised. But this is based on very fragmentary visual evidence. For folks asking about how the UA offensive is going. This isn’t something you judge based on a few days of fighting. Footage of combat losses, which is to be expected, can have an anchoring effect. The offensive will play out over weeks, and likely months.”

We should not be surprised that Ukraine is suffering losses. It was always inevitable and an integrated part of warfighting.

On 22 May, I stressed that the forthcoming series of Ukrainian offensives will be challenging.

Despite all its improvements, Ukraine is about to do something Russia has failed to achieve for 15 months at tremendous costs: Attack well-prepared, fortified positions protected by tank traps, minefields, artillery, anti-armour weapons, and not least, Russian Air Power and Air Defence.

According to Russian information space, the Ukrainian losses are attributed to some of these factors: well-prepared Russian defensive positions and effective use of electronic warfare (EW) systems, air support, and landmines. According to UK Defence Intelligence, the Russian Airforce has been unusually active over southern Ukraine, where the airspace is more permissive for Russia than in other parts of the country.

While it is an extremely brutal war, we are presently only seeing what Russia wants us to see. We do not have a clear, objective understanding of the situation on the battlefield. It is too early to define the course of events only after days of increased fighting and before Ukraine has even committed the main bulk of its offensive forces. It is by no means a reflection of the overall offensive actions.

In the words of UK Defence Intelligence:

“In some areas, Ukrainian forces have likely made good progress and penetrated the first line of Russian defences. In others, Ukrainian progress has been slower. Russian performance has been mixed: some units are likely conducting credible manoeuvre defence operations while others have pulled back in some disorder, amid increased reports of Russian casualties as they withdraw through their own minefields.”

Managing expectations are, therefore, more important than ever. Ukraine and the West are committed to a protracted war. The West has yet to provide Ukraine with the tools it needs to win and will be suffering the consequences of the slow and incremental defence support.

Ukraine has planned and prepared accordingly. The West needs to increase the flow of defence aid.

 

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