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Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 481: Russia resumes offensive in the Bakhmut sector

Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 481: Russia resumes offensive in the Bakhmut sector

Ukraine continues its counteroffensive on at least four sectors of the front. Russia resumes offensive in the Bakhmut sector.  The EU is accelerating arms deliveries to Ukraine.

War Mapper.

Daily overview — Summary report, June 19

Situation in Ukraine. June 18, 2023. Source: ISW.

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 18.00 pm, June 19, 2023 is in the dropdown menu below:

 
Day 481 of the full-scale russian military aggression continues.
The russian federation continues to kill civilian population of Ukraine and violates laws and customs of war; uses terror tactics, carries out strikes, and shells both military and civilian targets.
During the day of June 19, the russian occupiers launched another air and missile attack on the territory of Ukraine, using 4x Caliber cruise missiles and 4x Iranian strike UAVs “Shahed-136/131”. All 8x air targets were destroyed by Ukrainian Air Defense and the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
In addition, the enemy carried out 32 airstrikes, carried out about 40 attacks from rocket salvo systems on the positions of our troops and populated areas. Peaceful people suffered.
The threat of missile and air strikes remains high across Ukraine.
The enemy continues to focus its main efforts on the Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Mar’inka axes, and heavy fighting continues. 39x combat clashes took place during the day.
Volyn’ and Polissya axes: the operational situation has not changed significantly. There are no signs of the formation of offensive groupings.
On the training grounds of the republic of belarus, combat training and coordination of units of the russian troops are underway after which they are sent to the frontlines on the territory of Ukraine.
Luhansk Battle Map. June 18, 2023. Situation: in Ukraine.
Sivershchyna and Slobozhanshchyna axes: the enemy forces maintain an enhanced presence in the Ukrainian border. Shelled with mortars and artillery shelling of Gremyach settlements of Chernihiv Oblast; Seredyna-Buda, Chuykivka, Basivka, Turya of the Sumy Oblast, as well as Huryiv Kozachok, Udy, Chervona Zorya, Kozacha Lopan’, Hlyboke, Oliynikovo, Lyptsi, Ternova, Staritsa, Ohirtsevo, Hatyshche, Vovchans’k, Zybine, Okhrimivka, Varvarivka , Nesterne, Budarky, Krasny Yar in Kharkiv Oblast.
Kup’yans’k axis: the occupiers carried out an airstrike at Kislivka, Kharkiv Oblast. Krasne Pershe, Novomlyns’k, Dvorichna, Zapadne, Kislivka, Berestov of the Kharkiv Oblast were shelled by enemy artillery and mortars.
Donetsk Battle Map. June 18, 2023. Situation in Ukraine. June 18, 2023. Source: ISW.
Lyman axis: the enemy forces carried out offensive operations in the vicinities of Yampolivka, Torsky, west of Dibrova, Hryhorivka and Spirnyi of the Donetsk Oblast, albeit without success. They launched an airstrike on the village of Spirne in the Donetsk Oblast. Stelmakhivka, Nevs’ke, Belogorivka of the Luhansk Oblast and Tors’ke, Serebryanka, Verkhn’okam’ians’ke, Rozdolivka of the Donetsk Oblast were shelled by artillery.
Bakhmut Battle Map. June 18, 2023. Situation in Ukraine. June 18, 2023. Source: ISW.
Bakhmut axis: russian forces carried out unsuccessful offensives in the vicinities of Orikhovo-Vasylivka, Donetsk Oblast. They shelled the settlements of Severny and Toretsk. Vasyukivka, Orikhovo-Vasylivka, Bohdanivka, Kalynivka, Chasiv Yar, Ivanivs’ke, Ozaryanivka, Bila Hora, Kostyantynivka, Druzhba, Pivnichne of Donetsk Oblast were under enemy artillery shelling.
Avdiivka axis: the enemy forces carried out unsuccessful offensives in the Avdiivka area. They shelled the areas of Orlivka, Avdiivka, Karlivka, Pervomais’ke, Nevels’ke settlements of the Donetsk Oblast.
Mar’inka axis: our defenders repelled all enemy attacks near Krasnohorivka, Mar’inka and Pobieda. The enemy launched an air strike near Mar’inka. At the same time, they shelled Krasnohorivka, Georgiivka, Mar’inka, and Pobyeda of the Donetsk Oblast.
Shakhtars’k axis: the enemy carried out offensive actions in the axis of Novomykhailivka. He carried out an air strike in the area of Zolotoi Niva. He shelled the settlements of Paraskoviivka, Kostyantynivka, Novomykhailivka, Vodyane, and Vugledar in the Donetsk Oblast.
Zaporizhzhia Battle Map. June 18, 2023. Situation in Ukraine. June 18, 2023. Source: ISW.
Zaporizhzhia and Kherson axes: russian forces are on the defensive. The enemy carried out airstrikes at Levadny, Zelene Pole and Novodarivka of Zaporizhzhia Oblast. They shelled the settlements of Blagodatne, Makarivka, Storozheve, Vremivka, Vilne Pole, Zelene Pole, Novopil’ of the Donetsk Oblast; Temyrivka, Levadne, Olgivs’ke, Chervone, Hulyaipole, Zaliznychne, Charivne, Novoandriivka, Shcherbaki, Stepove, Pyatikhatky, Lobkovo, Kam’ians’ke of the Zaporizhzhia Oblast; Beryslav, Tomarine, Kozats’ke, Burgunka, Ivanivka, Antonivka, Kherson, Dniprovs’ke, Kizomys, Sofiivka of the Kherson Oblast.
Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. June 18, 2023. Situation in Ukraine. June 18, 2023. Source: ISW.
The russian occupying forces continue to suffer heavy losses on the battlefield. As a result, the enemy continues to convert civilian facilities in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine into medical facilities. Thus, the occupiers turned the secondary school in the village of Rozhivka, Zaporizhzhia Oblast, into a military hospital. An operating room was placed in the attached dining room, and wards for the wounded were arranged in the classrooms. At the same time, this military hospital is used as a logistics hub for the redistribution of wounded and dead enemy servicemen. Heavily wounded soldiers and sergeants are being transported to medical facilities in Donetsk, Mariupol and Berdiansk by road transport. Wounded officers are transported to the russian federation by air.
Ukrainian Air Force conducted 15x airstrikes on the concentrations of enemy troops.
Ukrainian missile and artillery units attacked 3x command posts, 6x concentrations of russian troops, weapons and military equipment, 2x ammunition depots, 1x warehouse of fuel and lubricating materials, 14x artillery systems at firing positions, 3x anti-air defense systems and 2x others critical military objects.
 

Military Updates

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst.

Russia resumes offensive in Bakhmut sector – Ukraine’s General Staff. Over the past 24 hours, Russian forces have conducted a series of unsuccessful offensives in the direction of Orikhovo-Vasylivka in the Bakhmut sector (Donetsk Oblast, eastern Ukraine), the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported in its daily frontline update on 18 June 2023. The Russian forces carried out air strikes on the settlements of Ivanivske, Pivnichne, Bila Hora, and Toretsk in Donetsk Oblast and shelled residential areas of Vasyukivka, Orikhovo-Vasylivka, Novomarkove, Bohdanivka, Kalynivka, Chasiv Yar, Ivanivske, Ozaryanivka, and Kostyantynivka (all settlements are located in the Bakhmut sector of the Donetsk Oblast), according to the General Staff f Ukraine’s Armed Forces.

Ukraine continued counteroffensive in at least four sectors on June 17 – ISW. Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive actions on at least four sectors of the front on 17 June, according to the US-based think tank Institute for the Study of War (ISW). The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and other Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted localized ground attacks west and south of Kreminna. Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar stated that Ukrainian forces continue counteroffensive operations near Bakhmut, and Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces attacked on the northern and southern outskirts of Bakhmut.

Most intense combat focused in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, western Donetsk Oblast, and around Donetsk’s Bakhmut – UK intel. In its latest intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine, the British Defense Ministry highlights the ongoing heavy fighting in three main areas: Zaporizhzhia Oblast, western Donetsk Oblast, and Donetsk’s Bakhmut, noting Ukraine’s limited advances and significant casualties on both sides.

Russia adopts defensive posture along entire southern front – Ukraine’s General Staff. Russian forces got into a defensive posture along the entire frontline in Zaporizhzhia and Kherson oblasts, the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported in its daily frontline update on 17 June 2023. Within the last 24 hours, Russian forces launched airstrikes in Mala Tokmachka in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast and Kozatske in the Kherson Oblast, according to Ukraine’s General Staff.

Russian Army fortifying Crimea against Ukrainian counteroffensive, satellite images reveal. Russians are digging in near villages or even within populated areas of northern Crimea, satellite images obtained by Skhemy/RFE/RL show. In an anticipation of a potential Ukrainian counteroffensive, the Russian Army has been seen constructing numerous defensive lines in Crimea, extending from the administrative border with Ukraine to Dzhankoi, according to satellite images obtained by journalists from Krym Realii and Skhemy. These images, provided by Planet Labs, offer a glimpse into Russia’s strategic military maneuvers in the embattled peninsula.

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

British Intelligence Map.

  • Over the last ten days, Russia has highly likely started relocating elements of its Dnipro Group of Forces (DGF) from the eastern bank of the Dnipro River to reinforce the Zaporizhzhia and Bakhmut sectors.

 

  • This potentially involves several thousand troops from the 49th Army, including its 34th Separate Motorised Brigade, as well as Airborne Forces (VDV) and Naval Infantry units.

 

  • The DGF redeployment likely reflects Russia’s perception that a major Ukrainian attack across the Dnipro is now less likely following the collapse of Kakhovka Dam and the resulting flooding.

Losses of the Russian army 

Ukrainian troops destroyed or damaged 77 pieces of Russian equipment in south on June 17 – military. The Ukrainian commander of the Tavria group of forces says Ukrainian troops destroyed or damaged 77 units of Russian military equipment on the southern front on 17 June. “Every day turns into hell for the Russians. Our soldiers decimate the enemy skillfully. Over the past day, the enemy’s losses in killed and wounded amounted to more than four companies,” Gen. Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, the Tavria Operational Strategic Group of Forces commander, wrote on Telegram, adding that Russia lost 77 units of equipment as destroyed or damaged, including a Ka-52 attack helicopter and 24 tanks.

Humanitarian 

Russian artillery strike kills a father and son in northeastern Ukraine. Russian forces shelled residential areas in Bilopillia, Sumy Oblast, killing a father and his 4-year-old son, according to the Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine. The Russian artillery shelling across the Russo-Ukrainian border took people off guard in downtown Bilopillia around 4:20 pm, according to the Mayor of Bilopillia, Yurii Zarko. “A father and son were just passing by. A shell landed literally three meters away from them. They attempted to run for cover and did not make it five meters. The father died on the spot. The child was not taken to the hospital in time and died in his arms,” Yurii Zarko told Suspilne, a Ukrainian news media.

Environmental

Evidence suggests Russia destroyed Kakhovka dam from within – NYT. The evidence suggests that an explosive charge detonated in a passageway under the Kakhovka dam’s concrete block and destroyed the dam, according to the New York Times (NYT). Referring to engineers from Ukraine and the United States, the NYT claimed that Russian forces, which controlled the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant before its destruction, planted explosives deep inside the dam.

Support

Europe to accelerate arms shipments to Ukraine, EU industry chief says – Reuters. The EU is speeding up arms deliveries to Ukraine to support the country’s counter-offensive against Russian forces, European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton said on 18 June in an interview with the French daily Le Parisien, according to Reuters. “We are going to step up our efforts to deliver arms and ammunition – this is a war of high intensity in which they play a crucial role,” the EU industry chief said, citing a pledge to supply a million high-calibre weapons over the next 12 months. “We are preparing for the war to last several more months, or even longer,” he added.

UK to harden Ukraine’s cyber defenses against Russian attacks on critical infrastructure. The UK will give a major boost to Ukrainian cyber defenses as Ukraine mounts a counteroffensive, according to a British Government statement. According to the statement, Britain is going to roll out a major two-year expansion to its cyber defense program in Ukraine, protecting the country’s critical national infrastructure from crippling Russian cyber attacks. The package will include £16 million ($20.5 million) in UK funding and the potential for a further £9 million ($11.5 million) contribution from international allies.

Denmark ready to provide Ukraine with F-16 jets, Danish Defense Minister says. Denmark is ready to provide Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets after the approval of the United States, which manufactures these aircraft, according to the acting Danish Defense Minister, Troels Lund Poulsen, Radio 4 reported. “Ukraine needs aircraft. More than ever, if they want to win their fight. This also applies to Danish F-16 fighters,” Poulsen said. Denmark has 43 F-16 fighters, 30 of which are in active use. The Danish Air Force plans to replace the F-16 jets with modern F-35 fighters.

New Developments

Peace in Ukraine cannot mean freezing war on Russia’s terms, NATO chief says. It is impossible to achieve sustainable peace in Ukraine on Russian terms, Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg told the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag on 18 June. Jens Stoltenberg said Ukraine should have reliable security guarantees after the war ends to prevent Russia from attacking this country again.

Russia ‘totally irresponsible’ moving nukes to Belarus, Biden says. US President Joe Biden has commented on Russia’s President Vladimir Putin’s statements about deploying the first batch of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, north of Ukraine, Sky News reported. US President told reporters he condemned Putin’s decision to deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus.

Russians should go to 2024 Olympics in tanks – President of Russia’s Wrestling Federation. Russians should consider going to Paris for the 2024 Summer Olympics in tanks, Mikhail Mamiashvili, president of the Wrestling Federation of Russia, said. Mamiashvili threatened France while commenting on the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision to admit Russian and Belarusian athletes to Olympic Games in neutral status. “If they want to see us in the Olympics as a team of refugees, we have to go to Paris in tanks. There’s no other option,” Mamiashvili told RIA Novosti Sport, a state-owned Russian news media.

Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of  June 18, 2022:

Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive actions on at least four sectors of the front on June 18 and made limited territorial gains. Geolocated footage suggests that Ukrainian forces made limited advances within 30km south of Kreminna.[1]Avdiivka City Military Administration Head Vitaliy Barabash reported that Ukrainian forces advanced more than a kilometer north of Avdiivka on the Donetsk City frontline over the past two weeks.[2] Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted counteroffensive operations south, southwest, and southeast of Velyka Novosilka on the administrative border between western Donetsk and eastern Zaporizhzhia oblasts and made some localized advances.[3] Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast, and geolocated footage suggests that Ukrainian forces entered the western part of Pyatykhatky (41km southeast of Zaporizhzhia City), southwest of Orikhiv.[4] Ukrainian Tavrisk Group of Forces Spokesperson Captain Valeriy Shershen stated that Russian forces continue to counterattack in western Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia oblasts, and that Ukrainian forces have “a lot of work.”[5] Ukrainian Melitopol Mayor Ivan Fedorov reported that Russian forces continue to transfer personnel and heavy military equipment from around Nova Kakhovka and Kakhovka in eastern Kherson Oblast to the Zaporizhzhia Oblast frontline via Melitopol.[6]

Ukrainian forces may be temporarily pausing counteroffensive operations to reevaluate their tactics for future operations. Head of the Estonian Defense Forces Intelligence Center Colonel Margo Grosberg stated on June 16 that he assesses “we won’t see an offensive over the next seven days.”[7]The Wall Street Journal similarly reported on June 17 that Ukrainian forces “have mostly paused their advances in recent days” as Ukrainian command reexamines tactics.[8] These reports are consistent with ISW’s recent observations of the scale and approach of localized Ukrainian counterattacks in southern and eastern Ukraine.[9] ISW has previously noted that Ukraine has not yet committed the majority of its available forces to counteroffensive operations and has not yet launched its main effort.[10] Operational pauses are a common feature of major offensive undertakings, and this pause does not signify the end of Ukraine’s counteroffensive.

Wall Street Journal (WSJ) interview with Russian prisoners of war (POWs) indicates continued significant morale and command issues among frontline Russian units and the continued Russian use of “barrier forces” to shoot retreating soldiers.[11]WSJ amplified the statements of three unidentified Russian POWs who voluntarily surrendered to Ukrainian forces during Ukrainian counteroffensive operations near Velyka Novosilka, on the administrative border between Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia oblasts. The POWs reported widespread fear of a Ukrainian counteroffensive among Russian forces on the frontlines. The POWs indicated that the Russian military command sees Russian conscripts and penal recruits as expendable, and claimed Russian officers order injured personnel deemed unfit for service back to the front line and use “barrier forces” to prevent penal recruits in “Storm-Z” units from retreating. Barrier forces are specialized units that threaten to shoot their own personnel either to prevent retreats or to force them to attack, and unverified social media footage recently circulated depicting Russian barrier troops shooting retreating Russian forces in Ukraine.[12] The POWs also indicated that Russian forces struggle to supply and staff their units, including struggling to crew tanks and armored vehicles.[13]The POWs expressed concern about returning to Russia in a POW exchange due to Russian laws prohibiting voluntary surrender to the enemy.

EU Internal Market Commissioner Theirry Breton announced on June 18 that the EU is accelerating arms deliveries to Ukraine. Breton referenced a pledge that the EU would supply a million high quality weapons to Ukraine over the coming year and stated that the EU is “going to step up our efforts to deliver arms and ammunition” as “this is a war of high intensity in which [high quality weapons] play a crucial role.”[14]

Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly supported select Russian milbloggers’ proposal to create a Presidential Administration working group, likely in an effort to integrate prominent milbloggers into the pro-Kremlin information space. The working group would reportedly include members of the Russian presidential administration and aim to coordinate ideas on the war in Ukraine.[15] It is unclear if and how Russian milbloggers will participate in the Presidential Administration working group, however. Putin’s support of a working group to focus on war reporting suggests that Putin intends to continue to publicly engage with pro-Kremlin mobloggers in an attempt to expand his support in the ultranationalist community. The Kremlin has previously coopted prominent Kremlin-affiliated milbloggers by offering them official roles on the Russian Human Rights Council and in the Mobilization Working Group likely in exchange for amplifying pro-Kremlin rhetoric.[16]

Key Takeaways

  • Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive actions on at least four sectors of the front on June 18 and made limited territorial gains.
  • Ukrainian forces may be temporarily pausing counteroffensive operations to reevaluate their tactics for future operations.
  • Wall Street Journal (WSJ) interview with Russian prisoners of war (POWs) indicates continued significant morale and command issues among frontline Russian units and the continued Russian use of “barrier forces” to shoot retreating soldiers.
  • EU Internal Market Commissioner Theirry Breton announced on June 18 that the EU is accelerating arms deliveries to Ukraine.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly supported select Russian milbloggers’ proposal to create a Presidential Administration working group, likely in an effort to integrate prominent milbloggers into the pro-Kremlin information space.
  • Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks north of Svatove and south of Kreminna.
  • Russian and Ukrainian forces conducted limited ground attacks around Bakhmut and along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line.
  • Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations on the administrative border between western Donetsk and eastern Zaporizhzhia oblasts.
  • Russian sources claimed that Russian forces continued to repel Ukrainian counteroffensive operations in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast
  • Some Russian ultranationalist figures are concerned that the Russian Ministry of Defense’s efforts to formalize volunteer formations will trigger command changes and degrade combat effectiveness.
  • Russian occupation officials are continuing to prioritize medical treatment for Russian military personnel in occupied Mariupol, reportedly significantly increasing the civilian mortality rate in the city.

 

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