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Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 495: Ukrainian writer Victoria Amelina dies after a Russian missile attack. 

Article by: Hans Petter Midttun

Victoria Amelina, an award-winning Ukrainian writer, dies after a Russian missile attack on Kramatorsk restaurant, bringing the death count to 13.  Heavy battles everywhere, especially Avdiivka; fighting continues near Antoniisvkyi bridge – officials. Prigozhin’s media empire shuts down.

Daily overview — Summary report, July 1

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 18.00 pm, July 1, 2023 is in the dropdown menu below:

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Day 495 of the full-scale russian military aggression continues.
The russian federation continues to wage a war of aggression. Despite the significant losses, he does not give up his plans for the full occupation of our territory.
The occupiers continue to kill Ukrainian civilians while continue ignoring laws and customs of war, using terror tactics, striking both military and civilian objects.
During the day July 2, the russian occupiers launched another missile-air strike at Ukraine, using 3x anti-aircraft guided missiles from the S-300 and 20x Iranian strike UAVs of the “Shahed” type against civilian infrastructure in Sumy, Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts. As a result of air combat, Ukrainian Air Defense Forces, in cooperation with other components of the Defense Forces of Ukraine, destroyed 14x attack UAVs of the “Shahed” type.
The enemy carried out 44x airstrikes and launched about 50x MLRS attacks on Ukrainian cities and Ukrainian Armed Forces.
The threat of missile and air strikes across Ukraine remains high.
The enemy is concentrating its main efforts on the Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Mar’inka axes, heavy battles are ongoing. More than 30x combat clashes took place during the day.
Volyn’ and Polissya axes: no significant changes detected. There is no signs of the formation of offensive groupings. Armed Forces of Belarus perform tasks in the border of Ukraine. Transferring of the russian armed forces, which underwent training at Belarusian training grounds, to the frontlines of Ukraine, has begun.
Luhansk Battle Map. July 2, 2023. Source: ISW.
Sivershchyna and Slobozhanshchyna axes: the enemy forces maintain an enhanced military presence. They carried out airstrikes at Sumy and in the Katerynivka area of the Sumy Oblast. russians shelled with mortars and artillery more than 10x settlements, including Bachivsk, Khodine, Katerynivka of the Sumy Oblast and Veterenarne, Kozacha Lopan’, Budarky of the Kharkiv Oblast.
Kup’yans’k axis: Petro-Ivanivka, Figolivka, Novomlyns’k, Dvorichna and Kup’yans’k of the Kharkiv Oblast were shelled by enemy artillery and mortar fire.
Donetsk Battle Map. July 2, 2023. Source: ISW.
Lyman axis: more than 10x settlements were shelled by artillery, in particular, Nevs’ke, Bilogorivka of the Luhansk Oblast and Verkhn’yokam’ians’ke, Berestov, Rozdolivka of the Donetsk Oblast.
Bakhmut Battle Map. July 2, 2023. Source: ISW.
Bakhmut axis: the enemy conducted unsuccessful offensives southeast of Orihovo-Vasylivka and west of Bakhmut. More than 10x settlements, including Kramators’k, Kostyantynivka, Vasyukivka, Bogdanivka, Chasiv Yar, Klishchiivka, and Bila Hora of the Donetsk Oblast, were shelled by artillery.
Avdiivka axis: the enemy forces shelled with artillery more than 10x settlements. Keramik, Avdiivka, Severne, Vodyane and Nevels’ke of the Donetsk Oblast were shelled.
Mar’inka axis: despite enemy airstrikes and artillery fire, our defenders repelled all 14x enemy attacks in the vicinities of Mar’inka. The enemy shelled more than 10x settlements. In particular, Krasnohorivka, Georgiivka, Maksimilianivka and Pobyeda of the Donetsk Oblast wereunder fire.
Shakhtars’k axis: russians launched an airstrike in the Blagodatny area of the Donetsk Oblast. Shelled more than 10x settlements, including Blagodatne, Vugledar, Bogoyavlenka, Shakhtars’ke, Zolota Niva and Vugledar of the Donetsk Oblast.
Zaporizhzhia Battle Map. July 2, 2023. Source: ISW.
Zaporizhzhia and Kherson axes: russian forces are on the defensive, and concentrate their main efforts on preventing the advance of Ukrainian troops. They shelled with artillery more than 30x settlements, including Hulyaipils’ke, Biloghirya, Mala Tokmachka of the Zaporizhzhia Oblast; Manganets, Nikopol’, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast; Antonivka of the Kherson Oblast and Kherson.
Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. July 2, 2023. Source: ISW.
Ukrainian Air Force conducted 14x strikes on enemy manpower concentrations.
Ukrainian missile and artillery units hit 2x enemy manpower, weapons and military equipment concentrations and 5x enemy artillery units at firing positions.
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Military Updates

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst.

Heavy battles everywhere, especially Avdiivka; fighting continues near Antoniisvkyi bridge – officials. Heavy battles are ongoing on all directions of the Ukrainian front; Ukraine’s Army is gradually advancing in the Berdiansk and Melitopol directions, while in the east, Russians are advancing in several directions, Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar informed in Telegram. “Our troops are facing intense enemy resistance, remote mining, and the redeployment of reserves, but they are persistently and tirelessly creating conditions for the fastest possible advance,” Maliar said about the gradual advances in the direction of Berdiansk and Melitopol.

Frontline report: Russian defense in Zaporizhzhia Oblast gradually deteriorates under Ukraine’s pressure

Ukrainian troops making advances on Bakhmut flanks – military. 

Russia launches first in 12 days air attack on Kyiv, Ukraine downs all launched missiles, drones. Overnight into 2 July, Russia launched an air attack on the Ukrainian capital using Kalibr missiles and Shahed drones after a 12-day break. Ukraine’s Air Force Command says air defenders have destroyed all 11 air targets, but falling debris injured one civilian, according to Kyiv Oblast authorities.

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

British Intelligence Map.

  • On 29 June 2023, Ukrainian authorities reported that, under emergency legislation,139,000 citizens have been evacuated from the combat zones in the Ukrainian controlled areas of the Donetsk, Kharkiv and Kherson regions since July 2022.

 

  • This is just one part of Ukraine’s ongoing broader crisis of displacement. The UN estimates 6.3 million Ukrainians remain refugees, and over five million internally displaced.

 

  • With a pre-war population of 44 million, a quarter of Ukrainians remain forced from their homes as a result of Russia’s invasion.

Losses of the Russian army 

Losses of the Russian Army. Source: Euromaidan Press.

Environmental

Explosion, 10-meter crater reported at airfield from where Russia launched Shahed drones at Ukraine. An explosion has been reported in Russia’s Primorsko-Akhtarsk near a military airfield, and a large crater has been created. The Mash Telegram channel claims that air defense systems in Primorsko-Akhtarsk shot down a missile that allegedly tried to attack a fuel and lubricant depot on the territory of the military airfield.

Ichkeria’s gov’t in exile considering creating special tribunal for Kadyrov, his Akhmat unit. The government-in-exile of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria is working on the possible creation of a special tribunal for Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov for creating his religious extremist unit Akhmat, which committed crimes against humanity in Ukraine, Ukrinform reports. “We are working on the possibility of creating a separate tribunal for Ramzan Kadyrov and his extremely radical religious sect Akhmat,” Inal Sherip, a member of the exile government of Ichkeria, told Ukrinform.

Russia’s war against Ukraine kills 494 children, prosecutors say. Russia’s war against Ukraine has killed 494 children and injured 1035, Ukraine’s Prosecutor’s General Office has informed. According to prosecutors, the number of casualties is not final, as Ukraine has limited access to the occupied territories and zones of heavy fighting. Earlier, Russian forces shelled residential areas in Bilopillia, Sumy Oblast, killing a father and son on Father’s Day, according to the regional state administration.

Support

Spain signs a declaration of support for Ukraine’s accession to NATO, Zelenskyy announces. Ukraine and Spain have signed a declaration of support for the country’s aspirations for membership in NATO during the visit of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has announced. The declaration does not mention when Ukraine will receive an invitation to the Alliance. However, Kyiv strongly emphasizes that it expects guarantees from NATO during the upcoming summit in Vilnius, RFE/RL reports.

New Developments

Joint Leopard tank workshop plan stalled due to disputes between Germany and Poland. According to Der Spiegel, there is an ongoing dispute between Berlin and Warsaw over the establishment of a joint workshop for the maintenance of Leopard tanks. The workshop is intended to ensure that the weapons systems delivered to Ukraine, which are damaged or worn out in combat, can be quickly repaired and maintained. The German Minister, Pistorius, had estimated the cost of the so-called maintenance hub to be around 150 million euros.

Prigozhin shuts down media empire, and even his trolls turn against him. Yevgeny Prigozhin has apparently not only lost control of the Wagner PMC but also his media empire and troll factory following the unsuccessful coup attempt and exile to Belarus. According to the Russian media Agentstvo, an internet bot network associated with Yevgeniy Prigozhin’s once-famed “troll factory” has started criticizing the businessman since May 2023. The report cites two experts who track bot activity on VKontakte and Twitter. The creator of the project “Chef’s Trap,” who wished to remain anonymous, told journalists that since May, about 13,000 of Prigozhin’s former bots on VKontakte have stopped working for their creator. “Chef’s Trap” has been monitoring the activity of approximately 127,000 bots on VKontakte since late 2019.

Shell continues trading Russian gas despite pledge to withdraw. Despite pledging to withdraw from the Russian energy market, Shell continues to trade Russian gas, sparking controversy and accusations of accepting “blood money.” The multinational oil and gas company says there is a “dilemma” between pressuring Russia and stable energy supplies.

Iran may supply Russia with Mohajer-6 drones – Ukraine Air Force. The spokesman for the Air Force of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, Yurii Ihnat, does not rule out that Iran may provide Russia with Mohajer-6 UAVs as part of its military assistance. He said this on the national telethon, Liga reports. “No one doubts that the enemy constantly receives attack UAVs from Iran. This is evident from the regular flights of military transport aircraft from Tehran to Moscow. As well as transportation, probably by sea via the Caspian Sea. This is to Astrakhan and Makhachkala,” Ihnat said.

Reputational risk and security concerns force Russia to cancel MAKS 2023 air show – UK intel. In its latest intelligence update, the British Defense Ministry says Russia’s cancellation of its premier international air show, MAKS 2023, is attributed to security concerns stemming from recent unmanned aerial vehicle attacks, the potential reputational damage due to fewer international delegations, and the challenges faced by the country’s aerospace industry.

Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of  June 31, 2022:

Ukrainian forces reportedly conducted counteroffensive operations in six sectors of the front on July 2 and made gains in some of these areas. The Russian Ministry of Defense and other Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted offensive operations in the Lyman direction, in the Bakhmut area, along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City front, in western Donetsk Oblast, on the administrative border between Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk oblasts, and in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast.[1] Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Serhiy Cherevaty reported on July 2 that Ukrainian forces are continuing to make unspecified advances on the flanks around Bakhmut.[2] A Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces made unspecified gains southwest of Klishchiivka (7km southwest of Bakhmut).[3] Geolocated footage published on July 1 indicates that Ukrainian forces advanced northeast of Volodymyrivka (12km southeast of Vuhledar) in western Donetsk Oblast.[4] Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations south and southwest of Orikhiv in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast.[5] Zaporizhzhia Oblast occupation deputy Vladimir Rogov claimed that Ukrainian forces advanced towards Russian trench positions near Robotyne (12km south of Orikhiv) and that there is ongoing close combat in these trenches.[6] Some Russian sources continue to describe these Ukrainian counteroffensive operations as smaller tactical operations than earlier Ukrainian counteroffensive operations.[7]

Russian forces conducted another series of drone and missile strikes targeting southern Ukraine and Kyiv on July 2. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces launched 11 missiles and eight Shahed drones at Ukraine, including three Kalibr missiles at Odesa and Mykolaiv oblasts.[8] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces intercepted all three Kalibr cruise missiles and eight Shahed drones.[9] The Kyiv City Military Administration reported that Ukrainian air defenses shot down all Russian Shahed drones targeting Kyiv, and Ukraine‘s Southern Operational Command reported that Ukrainian forces shot down two drones over Mykolaiv Oblast.[10]

The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) is attempting to consolidate control over the Russian information space by undermining select Russian milbloggers who did not repeat the MoD’s desired framing regarding the claimed defeat of a Ukrainian presence on the east (left) bank Kherson Oblast on July 1. The Russian MoD claimed on July 1 and July 2 that Russian forces successfully repelled Ukrainian landings near the Antonivsky Bridge and disproportionally celebrated defeating a small Ukrainian landing on the eastern (left) bank of the Dnipro River.[11] Some Russian milbloggers, however, contrary to the MoD‘s reports noted that fighting is still ongoing and that Ukrainian forces maintained some positions near Antonivsky Bridge as of July 2.[12] A prominent Russian milblogger amplified a post on July 1 from an unspecified Telegram channel, which criticized several prominent Kremlin and Wagner-affiliated Telegram channels for contradicting the Russian MoD’s official narrative.[13] The post accused select milbloggers of spreading false information about the situation around the Antonivsky Bridge and  other Russian MoD claims – ultimately accusing these channels of assisting Ukrainian “psychological operations.”[14] Russian milbloggers who contradicted the MoD’s report responded in turn by accusing the Russian General Staff of launching an attack on the Russian milblogger community.[15] These defiant milbloggers claimed that the Russian General Staff and the MoD previously attempted to open a criminal case against milbloggers in 2022 and claimed that milbloggers’ accurate coverage of frontline realities greatly undermines defense officials’ efforts to exaggerate Russia’s successes.[16] Some of these defiant milbloggers directly interact with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and it is likely that the Russian MoD seeks to censor some Kremlin-affiliated milbloggers out of a concern that these ultranationalists may expose Russian military failures to Putin during their monthly ”special military operations” milblogger working groups within the Kremlin.[17]

The Russian MoD’s conflict with the milblogger community over a trivial combat operation may indicate that the Russian military command does not think it has any other successes to report to Putin amidst the ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensive. One milblogger noted that Russian defense officials worry that milbloggers’ coverage of the war endangers their official positions and implied that the Russian MoD may be attempting to recover from the Wagner Group’s rebellion on June 24.[18] ISW previously reported that the Russian MoD may have exaggerated its victory in east Kherson Oblast to repair the reputation of the Russian ”Dnepr” Group of Forces and the Southern Military District (SMD), whose headquarters in Rostov-on-Don the Wagner Group surrounded a week before.[19] The Russian MoD has consistently exaggerated Ukrainian losses since the beginning of the full-scale invasion and may not be confident that such tired narratives are sufficiently offsetting the lack of any Russian progress on the battlefield as Ukrainian forces continue to make limited but steady advances in eastern and southern Ukraine.


The Russian MoD’s attempt to overstate a potential tactical Russian victory near the Antonivsky Bridge and its efforts to restrict opposing information has backfired.
 Russian milbloggers began to blame Russia’s military command for failing to provide Russian servicemen in east bank Kherson Oblast with boats and other supplies and generally accused the Russian MoD of lying about the situation on the frontlines for its own self-interested reasons.[20] One milblogger observed that the Russian MoD failed to provide Russian forces with more boats despite the fact that an acute and persistent Russian lack of patrol boats for littoral security has been widely known since at least April 2023, while another milblogger claimed that Russia should authorize the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) to create a parallel control system over the Russian MoD to resolve bureaucratic problems.[21] The Russian pro-war community thus continues to criticize the Russian MoD even after Wagner’s failed rebellion and even as Prigozhin losses his platform in Russia.


Putin continues to face the choice of either siding with the Russian MoD to defend its weakened reputation or maintaining his support among pro-war ultranationalist milbloggers and their patronage networks. 
The Russian MoD had launched similar organized attacks against hostile milbloggers in July and October 2022 that did not result in milbloggers’ arrests or punishments for their criticism of the Russian military command.[22] ISW assessed that Putin was not interested in restricting the milblogger community as he valued its support for the invasion of Ukraine and instead increasingly co-opted select milbloggers by bringing them into the pro-Kremlin fold – likely in part to check the Russian MoD.[23] Wagner financier Yevgeny Prigozhin had extensively used Russian milbloggers to promote his efforts to replace Russian MoD leadership with Wagner-affiliated officials prior to his rebellion, and Putin now faces the choice of censoring or appeasing Russian milbloggers in the aftermath of the rebellion.[24] Putin will need to restrict Russian milbloggers from criticizing the Russian MoD if he seeks to reestablish and reinforce the MoD’s credibility, but the MoD’s failures, struggles, and apparent pervasive dishonesty may make that task infeasible. Putin may thus instead decide to continue appeasing the milblogger community and scapegoating the Russian MoD for military failures in Ukraine, a far easier undertaking. That course of action could let Putin retain support for the war among the Russian ultranationalist camp at the expense of the Russian MoD. But that course of action also carries risk for Putin: the continued erosion of the MoD’s credibility could enable other ambitious Russian figures to promote their interests at its expense, as Prigozhin tried to do.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ukrainian forces reportedly conducted counteroffensive operations in six sectors of the front on July 2 and made gains in some of these areas.
  • Russian forces conducted another series of drone and missile strikes targeting southern Ukraine and Kyiv on July 2.
  • The Russian MoD’s conflict with the milblogger community over a trivial combat operation may indicate that the Russian military command does not think it has any other successes to report to Putin amidst the ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensive.
  • The Russian MoD’s attempt to overstate a potential tactical Russian victory near the Antonivsky Bridge and its efforts to restrict opposing information has backfired.
  • Putin continues to face the choice of either siding with the Russian MoD to defend its weakened reputation or maintaining his support among pro-war ultranationalist milbloggers and their patronage networks.
  • Russian and Ukrainian forces continued to engage in positional battles along the Kupiansk-Svatove-Kreminna frontline.
  • Ukrainian and Russian forces continued to conduct limited ground attacks around Bakhmut and along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line.
  • Ukrainian forces reportedly conducted limited offensive operations in western Donetsk Oblast and have advanced as of July 2.
  • Russian sources claimed that Russian and Ukrainian forces conducted limited offensive operations in the western Donetsk-eastern Zaporizhzhia oblasts border area.
  • Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces maintain limited positions in east (left) bank Kherson Oblast near the Antonivsky Bridge as of July 2.
  • Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated that Russian officials plan to create regional centers for the development of drones in Nizhny Novgorod as well as in occupied Sevastopol, Crimea, and Mariupol, Donetsk Oblast.
  • Ukrainian and Belarusian sources reported that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and other Belarusian officials and citizens are actively involved in the deportation of Ukrainian children from occupied territories to Belarus.

 

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