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Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 483: Russia mined Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant – Ukrainian Intelligence

Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 483: Russia mined Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant – Ukrainian Intelligence

Russia mined Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant’s cooling system – Budanov. France decides to back Ukraine’s NATO bid. Successful use of a domestic drone with 1,000 km range reported by Ukraine.

Daily overview — Summary report, June 21

Source: War Mapper.

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 18.00 pm, June 21, 2023 is in the dropdown menu below:

Situation in Ukraine. June 20, 2023. Source: ISW.

 
Day 483 of the full-scale russian military aggression continues.
The russian federation continues to kill Ukrainian people, and ignores the laws and customs of war, while using terror tactics, carrying out striking both military and civilian targets.
During the day of June 21, the enemy carried out more than 30x airstrikes using 6x Iranian strike UAVs “Shahed-136/131”. All “Shaheds” were destroyed by Ukrainian Defense Forces. Moreover, the occupiers launched 23x MLRS attacks on Ukrainian settlements and Ukrainian Defense Forces. Unfortunately, there are dead and injured civilians, houses and other civilian infrastructure have been damaged.
The threat of missile and air strikes across Ukraine remains high.
The enemy continues to focus its main efforts on the Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Mar’inka axes, and heavy battles continue. Over 30x combat clashes took place during the day.
Volyn’ and Polissya axes: no significant changes detected. There are no signs of the formation enemy groupings.
On the training grounds of the republic of belarus, combat training and coordination of units of the russian armed forces are ongoing before they are sent to the frontlines in Ukraine.
Luhansk Battle Map. June 20, 2023. Source: ISW.
Sivershchyna and Slobozhanshchyna axes: the enemy forces maintain an enhanced presence in the Ukrainian border. They carried out airstrikes on Leonivka, Mykolaivka of the Chernihiv Oblast and Volfyna of the Sumy Oblast. russians shelled with mortars and artillery attacks the settlements such as Hrinivka, Yeline, Karpovychi, Leonivka, Chernihiv Oblast; Seredyna-Buda, Sytne, Fotofizh, Novi Virky, Volfine, Shpil’, Obod, Kindrativka, Loknya, Stepne of the Sumy Oblast, as well as Odnorobivka, Udy, Veterinarne, Kozacha Lopan’, Visoka Yaruga, Liptsi, Alisivka, Bugruvatka, Staritsa, Vovchans’k, Vovchans’ki Khutory, Bochkove, Pletenivka, Mala Vovcha, Varvarivka, Budarky, Rublene, Aniskine, Milove in Kharkiv Oblast.
Kup’yans’k axis: the occupiers carried out an airstrike at Sinkivka of the Kharkiv Oblast. Krasne Pershe, Figolivka, Novomlyns’k, Dvorichna, Zapadne, Masyutivka, Kislivka, Berestov in the Kharkiv Oblast were shelled by enemy artillery and mortars.
Donetsk Battle Map. June 20, 2023. Source: ISW.
Lyman axis: the enemy forces carried out unsuccessful offensives near Dibrova in Luhansk Oblast and Serebryanka in Donetsk Oblast. They carried out airstrikes at Novoyehorivka and Belogorivka areas of the Luhansk Oblast and Siversk – Donetsk Oblast. Stelmakhivka, Nevs’ke, Dibrova, Kuzmyne, Bilogorivka in the Luhansk Oblast and Tors’ke, Verkhn’yokam’ians’ke, Spirne and Rozdolivka in the Donetsk Oblast were shelled by artillery fire.
Bakhmut Battle Map. June 20, 2023. Source: ISW.
Bakhmut axis: the adversary carried out unsuccessful offensive operations in the vicinities of Orikhovo-Vasylivka, Ivanivskyi, and Bila Hora of the Donetsk Oblast. russians carried out airstrikes near Kurdyumivka and New York in the Donetsk Oblast. Vasyukivka, Orikhovo-Vasylivka, Bohdanivka, Kalynivka, Chasiv Yar, Ivanivs’ke, Ozaryanivka, Bila Hora, Kostyantynivka, Druzhba and Severny of the Donetsk Oblast were shelled by the enemy.
Avdiivka axis: the enemy forces carried out unsuccessful offensives near the Pivnichne and Pervomaisky areas of the Donetsk Oblast. Carried out airstrikes near Avdiivka, Severny and Pervomaisky. They shelled the settlements suck as Oleksandropil’, Keramik, Novokalynove, Berdychi, Stepove, Avdiivka, Tonenke, Severne, Pervomais’ke, Netaylove and Nevels’ke of the Donetsk Oblast.
Mar’inka axis: russian forces carried out offensive operations in the vicinities of Marinka, albeit without success. They carried out an airstrike at the Krasnohorivka area. At the same time, russians shelled Krasnohorivka, Zoryan, Hostre, Mar’inka, Georgiivka, Kurakhove, and Pobyeda in the Donetsk Oblast.
Shakhtars’k axis: the occupiers carried out offensives in the vicinities of Novomykhailivka and Vugledar, albeit without success. They carried out an airstrike at the Novomykhailivka district of the Donetsk Oblast. russians shelled Paraskoviivka, Novomykhailivka, Kostyantynivka, Elizavetivka, Katerynivka, Bogoyavlenka, Blagodatne, Prechistivka, Zolota Niva, and Velika Novosilka in the Donetsk Oblast.
Zaporizhzhia Battle Map. June 20, 2023. Source: ISW.
Zaporizhzhia and Kherson axes: russian forces are on the defensive. Conducted unsuccessful offensive actions near Pyatikhatok, Zaporizhzhia Oblast. The enemy forces carried out airstrikes at Preobrazhenka and Stopnohirsk of the Donetsk Oblast. They shelled Novoocheretuvate, Neskuchne, Blagodatne, Makarivka, Storozheve, Zelene Pole, Temyrivka, Novopil’, Burlats’ke of the Donetsk Oblast; Levadne, Chervone, Hulyaipole, Novoandriivka, Stepove, Pyatikhatky, Lobkovo, Kam’ians’ke of the Zaporizhzhia Oblast; Zolota Balka, Mykhailivka, Novooleksandrivka, Dudchany, Kachkarivka, Shlyakhove, Kozats’ke, Mykolaivka, Burgunka, Ivanivka, Sadove, Prydniprovs’ke, Naddniprians’ke, Molodizhne, Zimivnyk, Bilozerka, Romashkove, Antonivka, Kherson, Dniprovs’ke, Kizomys of the Kherson Oblast and Ochakiv of the Mykolaiv Oblast.
Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. June 20, 2023. Source: ISW.
Ukrainian Air Force carried out 12x strikes on concentrations of russian troops and 6x on enemy anti-aircraft missile systems.
Ukrainian Defense Forces shot down 1x russian Mi-24 attack helicopter.
Ukrainian missile and artillery units attacked 1x command post and 1x enemy ammunition depot.
 

Military Updates

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst.

Successful use of domestic drone with 1,000 km range reported by Ukroboronprom. Nataliia Sad, the spokesperson for Ukraine’s state-owned defense conglomerate Ukroboronprom, published on Facebook an undated photo of her with the Ukrainian Army’s Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi, Air Force Commander Mykola Oleshchuk, and Ukroboronprom Yurii Husyev, and captioned it, “After the successful 1000 km use of our drone.” Last October, amid the intensifying Russian air attacks, Ukroboronprom announced the development of a Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicle with a range of up to 1,000 kilometers, capable of carrying a 75 kg warhead.

Ukraine’s defense minister warns against unrealistic expectations for Ukraine’s counteroffensive. Expectations for blitzkrieg progress are based on Ukraine’s successful operations to liberate Kharkiv and Kherson oblasts, but the weather, terrain, and conditions are totally different now. Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov has urged for patience regarding the current counteroffensive, stating that the situation differs significantly from the swift progress made in the Kharkiv Oblast. In an interview with Current Time, Reznikov attributed heightened expectations around Ukraine’s counteroffensive to fall of 2022, during which Ukraine made two lightning campaigns to liberate Kherson and Kharkiv oblasts.

Ukraine conducts offensive operations in three sectors, makes gains – ISW. In its daily update, the Institute for Study of War has assessed that Ukrainian forces have carried out counteroffensive measures in three distinct sectors along the frontline on June 19 and “made gains,” according to various sources. A Russian military blogger confirmed that the Ukrainian military forces continued their strategic onslaughts in the areas northwest, northeast, and southwest of Bakhmut on the same day. They also asserted that the Ukrainian forces progressed near Krasnopolivka, which lies approximately 12km northeast of Bakhmut.

Ukraine shoots down most drones in Russian night attack but critical infrastructure in Lviv hit. As well, ballistic missiles hit the east-Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia, near which they damaged farming businesses and recreational areas. Ukraine’s Air Force reported shooting down 32 of 35 drones in Russia’s attack on Ukraine on 20 June. The drones, which targeted military and infrastructure objects, were launched from Russia’s Bryansk Oblast and the east bank of the Azov Sea, the Air Force said. Most were shot down in the skies over Kyiv. However, a critical infrastructure object in the west-Ukrainian Lviv Oblast suffered three strikes, according to Ukraine’s authorities in the region. There were no casualties.

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

British Intelligence Map.

  • Intense fighting continues in sectors of southern Ukraine. However, over recent weeks, Russia has continued to expend significant effort building defensive lines deep in rear areas, especially on the approaches to occupied Crimea.
  • This includes an extensive zone of defences of 9 km in length, 3.5 km north of the town Armyansk, on the narrow bridge of land connecting Crimea to the Kherson region.
  • These elaborate defences highlight the Russian command’s assessment that Ukrainian forces are capable of directly assaulting Crimea.
  • Russia continues to see maintaining control of the peninsula as a top political priority.

Losses of the Russian army 

Losses of the Russian Army. Source: Euromaidan Press.

Humanitarian 

6.3 million Ukrainian refugees registered abroad – UNHCR. 6.3 million Ukrainians have fled the country due to Russia’s war. Since the Second World War, this is the largest flow of refugees that has been registered in a short period of time, Caroline Lindholm Billing, Representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said at a briefing at the Ukraine media center. “The number of Ukrainians abroad is 6 million 300 thousand people seeking protection in European countries. And most of them are children and women,” she emphasized.

Environmental

Russia mined Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant–Ukrainian Intelligence. Russian forces have mined the cooling system of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. This was announced by Chief of Ukraine’s Main Directorate of Intelligence Kyrylo Budanov, during the national telethon, Liga reports. According to him, today, there is a “certain threat” to the Zaporizhzhia NPP. He noted that the power plant remains under Russian control, and the destruction of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant disrupted water access to the nuclear facility’s cooling pond.

Support

France decides to back Ukraine’s NATO bid – Le Monde. After a recent French Defense Council meeting in Paris on 12 June, France now favors the approach of defending the prospect of Ukrainian NATO membership, Le Monde says, referring to its sources. The report states that France will adhere to this stance during discussions among Ukraine’s allies leading up to the upcoming annual NATO summit in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius on 11 and 12 July. “According to our information, a recent Defense Council meeting at the Elysée Palace on 12 June examined the possibility of Ukraine’s accession, an option now considered by Paris as a security guarantee in its own right, since it could discourage Russia from continuing the war or, should the conflict come to an end, prevent any further aggression,” Le Monde wrote.

European Commission proposes €50 billion aid package for Ukraine. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has outlined a 50 billion euro ($54.6 billion) aid package for Ukraine for the next four years, CNBC reports. The package would be in the form of a budget reserve from the EU’s 2021-27 budget, and it was proposed ahead of an international conference being held in the UK aimed at raising more funds for Ukraine’s reconstruction.

US to set out a “robust” assistance package for Ukraine – Blinken. On 20 June, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he would set out a new assistance package for Ukraine at a London conference to encourage private companies to invest in the country’s reconstruction after Russia’s invasion, Reuters reported. Kyiv and London will host the Ukraine recovery conference in London on 21 and 22 June, bringing together over 1,000 foreign officials from 60+ states, business leaders, and global investors to explore strategies for supporting the country’s reconstruction efforts.

New Developments

UK moves to use frozen Russian assets to help Ukraine rebuild – NYT. The British government is considering legislation that would allow the diversion of frozen Russian assets towards Ukraine’s reconstruction efforts, while maintaining sanctions until Russia provides compensation to its war-ravaged neighbor, as Russia’s destructive attacks on Ukraine continue to mount, The News York Times reports. The British announcement aligns with the decision made at the recent G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, to place a freeze on approximately $300 billion worth of Russian assets held by banks and financial institutions.

“Uran battalion”: Russia’s space agency recruits soldiers to fight in Ukraine – Financial Times. Roscosmos, which has avoided any substantial sanctions, is offering special benefits for Russians who sign up to fight against Ukraine amid Russia’s faltering mobilization drive. Roscosmos, Russia’s state space agency, is using cinematic advertisements to recruit for the Uran volunteer battalion, a militia being mobilized to fight in the ongoing Ukrainian war, Financial Times reports. Traditionally known for its partnerships with NASA and space expeditions, the agency is now seemingly allied with the Russian army. Despite this, Roscosmos has not been directly impacted by Western sanctions, and three of its cosmonauts are currently on the International Space Station with American astronauts.

Oleksiy Reznikov says Ukraine had no economic or political motives to damage the Nord Streams and connects these theories to “era of Ukrainocentrism” in the world. Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov has expressed skepticism towards media investigations suggesting Ukraine’s involvement in the Nord Stream pipeline explosions. In an interview with Current Time, Reznikov categorically denied Ukraine’s interest in such sabotage and linked such theories to the “era of Ukrainocentrism” in the world. Reznikov was asked to comment on a joint investigation by German publications ARD and Die Zeit and Dutch channel NOS, which concluded that Ukrainian special services were likely responsible for the Nord Stream explosions. These plans were allegedly known to Western intelligence, and the CIA supposedly asked Ukraine not to proceed, “but it was done, albeit later.”

Prigozhin escalates conflict with Russia’s Ministry of Defense – UK intelligence. Amid Ukraine’s counteroffensive, Wagner financier Yevgeny Prigozhin is defying the Russian Ministry of Defense’s orders for his mercenaries to sign official state contracts and says he awaits the ministry’s reply to a “contract” of his own making, the UK intelligence says in its daily update. “On 19 June 2023, Wagner Group owner Yevgeny Prigozhin said that he was expecting a reply from the Russian MoD regarding a ‘contract’ of his own drafting which he had delivered to the ministry three days before.

Car explosion injures Russian-installed official of Zaporizhzhia Oblast. On 19 June, Russian Telegram channels reported that Vladymyr Epifanov, an aide to the Russian-imposed deputy minister of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Oblast, was injured after his car exploded in occupied Crimea.

Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of  June 20, 2022:

Ukrainian forces conducted counteroffensive operations in at least two sectors of the front on June 20. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces continued offensive operations on the administrative border between Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk oblasts and in western Zaporizhzhia oblast.[1]  The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that units of the Eastern Grouping of Forces repelled four Ukrainian assaults near Orikhiv, Zaporizhzhia Oblast, and in western Donetsk Oblast.[2] Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar reported on June 19 that Russian forces have committed significant forces to stop Ukrainian offensives, making Ukrainian advances difficult.[3] Maliar added that ongoing Ukrainian operations have several tasks that are not solely focused on liberating territory and that Ukrainian forces have yet to start the main phase of counteroffensive operations.[4]

The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) continues to respond to Ukrainian counteroffensive operations with a relatively high degree of rhetorical coherence, suggesting that the MoD has learned from its past mishandling of the information space during previous Ukrainian counteroffensives. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu addressed the MoD Collegium on June 20 and began his speech by addressing ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensive operations in western Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts.[5] Shoigu claimed that the counteroffensive began on June 4, consistent with ISW’s previous assessment of when the counteroffensive began.[6] Shoigu additionally claimed that Ukrainian troops have launched 263 attacks on Russian positions since June 4 but denied that Ukrainian forces have made gains anywhere in the theater, contrary to publicly available geolocated evidence of Ukrainian advances. The fact that Shoigu addressed the counteroffensive in such a public and relatively even-keeled manner (even while maintaining typical MoD denial of Ukrainian successes) is a notable inflection from the Russian MoD’s failure to prepare a unified response to Ukraine‘s Kharkiv and Kherson Oblast counteroffensives in 2022 and the resulting panic in the Russian information space, indicating the Russian information space has somewhat adapted to and learned from past moments of informational collapse.[7]

Russian forces conducted a missile and drone strike on Ukraine on June 20. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces launched 35 Shahed-131/136 drones, seven S-300 missiles, and one Iskander-M missile targeting Kyiv Oblast and civilian infrastructure facilities in Zaporizhzhia Oblast and that Ukrainian forces shot down 32 Shahed drones.[8] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces launched the Shahed drones from Bryansk Oblast and the eastern coast of the Sea of Azov.[9]

Key Takeaways

  • Ukrainian forces conducted counteroffensive operations in at least two sectors of the front on June 20.
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) continues to respond to Ukrainian counteroffensive operations with a relatively high degree of rhetorical coherence, suggesting that the MoD has learned from its past mishandling of the information space during previous Ukrainian counteroffensives.
  • Russian forces conducted a missile and drone strike on Ukraine on June 20.
  • Russian forces continued a slightly intensified pace of ground attacks near Kreminna.
  • Russian and Ukrainian forces continued ground attacks near Bakhmut.
  • Russian forces continued ground attacks along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line.
  • Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations on the administrative border between Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk oblasts.
  • Ukrainian forces continued limited ground attacks in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
  • The Kremlin continues to lower the requirements for Russian military service in an effort to increase recruitment.
  • Russia aims to use the annual International Military-Technical Forum “Army-2023” to diversify and expand its defense industrial base (DIB).

 

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