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Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 496: Situation at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant extremely unstable

Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 496: Situation at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant extremely unstable
Article by: Hans Petter Midttun

Situation at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant extremely unstable. Ukraine continues attacks in western Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts and made marginal advances. Official Russian sources claim that Russian forces repel all Ukrainian assaults on the east (left) bank of Kherson Oblast.

Daily overview — Summary report, July 3

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

Situation in Ukraine. July 3, 2023. Source: ISW.

 

[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, and striking both military and civilian objects.]

Last night, the Russian Federation launched yet another attack using Iranian Shahed combat UAVs. Information on the aftermath of the Russian terrorist attack is currently being updated. 

According to the updated information, the Russian occupiers used 3x S-300 air defence system anti-aircraft guided missiles and 22 Iranian Shahed combat UAVs against civilian infrastructure in Sumy, Donetsk, and Zaporizhzhia oblasts on July 2. As a result of the anti-aircraft battle, the Ukrainian soldiers intercepted 16 Shahed combat UAVs.

In addition, the enemy launched 56 air strikes and 77 MLRS attacks at the positions of Ukrainian troops and various settlements. Unfortunately, the attacks have killed and wounded civilians, as well as destroyed or damaged civilian infrastructure, high-rise buildings, and private homes.

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

The adversary focuses its main efforts on Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Mar’inka axes, and heavy fighting continues. On July 3, there were more than 40x combat engagements.

  • Volynand Polissya axes: [no significant changes detected. There are no signs of the formation of offensive groupings. The Armed Forces of Belarus perform tasks on 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 3, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Sivershchynaand Slobozhanshchyna axes: the enemy launched airstrikes at the city of Sumy and in the vicinity of Katerynivka (Sumy oblast). The adversary fired mortars and artillery at more than 10x settlements, including Bachivs’k, Khodyne, Katerynivka (Sumy oblast), Veterynarne, Kozacha Lopan’, and Budarky (Kharkiv oblast).
Donetsk Battle Map. July 3, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Kup’yans’kand Lyman axes: the enemy was actively launching airstrikes. At the same time, the Ukrainian defenders successfully repelled 7 attacks of the adversary in the vicinities south of Novoselivs’ke, Novovodyane, west of Dibrova (Luhansk oblast), and north-east of Serebryans’ke forestry, as well as near Vesele (Donetsk Oblast). The adversary fired artillery and mortars at more than 15 settlements, including Petro-Ivanivka, Novomlyns’k, Kup’yans’k (Kharkiv oblast), Nevs’ke, Bilohorivka (Luhansk oblast), Verkhn’okam’yans’ke, Berestove, and Rozdolivka (Donetsk oblast).
Bakhmut Battle Map. July 3, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Bakhmut axis: under heavy fire from enemy aircraft and artillery, the Ukrainian defenders successfully repelled9x enemy attacks in the vicinities of Hryhorivka, Bohdanivka, west of Yahidne, Ivanivske, and south-east of Bila Hora (Donetsk oblast). The enemy fired artillery at more than 15 settlements, including Kramatorsk, Kostyantynivka, Vasyukivka, Bohdanivka, Chasiv Yar, Predtechyne, and Klishchiivka (Donetsk oblast). 
  • Avdiivka axis:the adversary fired artillery at more than 10 settlements, including Keramik, Avdiivka, Sjeverne, Vodyane, and Nevel’s’ke (Donetsk oblast).
  • Mar’inka axis: under enemy airstrikesand artillery fire, Ukrainian defenders repelled 15 enemy attacks in the vicinity of the city of Mar’inka. The enemy shelled more than 15 settlements, including Krasnohorivka, Heorhiivka, Maksymil’yanivka, Hostre, and Pobjeda (Donetsk oblast).
  • Shakhtars’ke axis: the enemy conducted unsuccessfuloffensive operations in the vicinity of Rivnopil’ (Donetsk oblast). The invaders launched an airstrike near Blahodatne (Donetsk oblast). The occupiers shelled more than 10 settlements, including Blahodatne, Vuhledar, Bohoyavlenka, Shakhtars’ke, and Zolota Nyva (Donetsk oblast).
Zaporizhzhia Battle Map. July 3, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Zaporizhzhiaand Kherson axes: the adversary focuses its main efforts on preventing the advance of Ukrainian troops. The invaders fired artillery at more than 30 settlements, including Huliaipilske, Bilohir’ya, Mala Tokmachka (Zaporizhzhia oblast), Marhanets’, Nikopol’ (Dnipropetrovsk oblast), Antonivka (Kherson oblast), and the city of Kherson.
Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. July 3, 2023. Source: ISW.

The Russian occupiers continue to violate international humanitarian law and use children’s institutions in the temporarily occupied settlements to provide medical care to their wounded soldiers. Thus, on the territory of a children’s recreation camp in the village of Makarove (Luhansk oblast), Russian servicemen set up a military hospital. It now accommodates more than 100 wounded occupants. Russian military equipment and checkpoints are scattered throughout the camp. Civilian residences are located in the immediate vicinity.

The situation is similar in the city of Lyman (Luhansk oblast), where the Russian occupiers have re-purposed the Yalynka children’s recreation camp into a military hospital. More than 100x wounded invaders are also being treated here. The territory of the camp is also used to station military equipment. 

On July 3, the Ukrainian Air Force launched 16 air strikes on the concentrations of the adversary troops.

On July 3, the Ukrainian missile and artillery troops hit 3 anti-aircraft missile systems, 2 concentrations of troops, 26 artillery systems at their firing positions, and 1 electronic warfare station of the enemy.

 

Military Updates

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst.

Drones over the Moscow ring road and redirected flights from Vnukovo: Russia attacked by UAVS, citing ZN.ua. “One of the downed drones fell near a military unit near Moscow. On the night of July 4, drones attacked Russia. Two drones were shot down in New Moscow (the territory of the Moscow region, attached to the capital of the Russian Federation in 2012 – ed.) near the village of Valuevo, Russian media write . Another drone was shot down in the Kaluga region, bordering New Moscow. One of the downed UAVs fell near Kubinka, Moscow Region. No casualties have been reported.

At the same time, Baza writes that the drone attacked a military unit located in Kubinka. In particular, he was sent to the administrative building on the territory of the unit. Eyewitnesses also reported that drones fly to Moscow and they are of an aircraft type. These targets, according to Baza , were already shot down in the area of ​​​​the Moscow Ring Road.

At the same time, immediately after the appearance of drones, the planes that were supposed to land at Vnukovo Airport began to circle over it, but did not land. As a result, at least five flights were diverted to other airports.

Armed Forces destroyed 19 Russian ammunition depots and 7 command posts in 7 days, – Ministry of Defense, Censor.net reports, citing Deputy Minister of Defence Hanna Maliar. “Last week, the Defense Forces managed to destroy high-priority enemy targets, on average, every 70 minutes, the report said.

Yes, in 7 days it was affected: 94 places of gathering of troops; 22 anti-aircraft missile systems; 19 ammunition depots; 7 command points. It is this kind of routine work that creates the conditions for a further breakthrough in the enemy’s defence, Maliar added.”

Russians lost almost three companies in Tavriia sector over past day, Ukrinform reports, citing General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, commander of the Tavriia operational and strategic grouping of troops. “[Ukraine’s] defence forces continue to advance in the Tavriia direction. Units of rocket troops and artillery performed 1,389 tasks over the last day. The enemy’s losses amounted to almost three companies of those killed and wounded in action, the post reads.

According to Tarnavskyi, Ukrainian defenders destroyed 34 pieces of the enemy’s military equipment, including a Ka-52 helicopter, four tanks, three armored fighting vehicles, two D-30 guns, a BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launcher, two SuperCam UAVs, a Zala UAV, a 2A36 Giatsint-B gun, a Strela-10 anti-aircraft missile system, two Msta-B howitzers and vehicles. Also, 12 enemy ammunition depots were destroyed, he added.”

On the night of July 3, 2023, the Russian occupation forces carried out another attack with Iranian attack drones of the “Shahed” type from the southeast, the Ukrainian General Staff reports. “In total, the launches of 17 of these UAVs were recorded.

As a result of air defence by the forces and means of the Air Force, in cooperation with the air defence of other components of the Defence Forces of Ukraine, 13 attack UAVs “Shahed-136/131” were destroyed. The rest did not achieve their goals.”

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

https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1676258654377463813

In recent weeks, Russia has prioritised and refined tactics aimed at slowing Ukrainian armoured counteroffensive operations in southern Ukraine.

  • The core of this approach has been Russia’s very heavy use of anti-tank mines. In some areas the density of its minefields indicate that it has likely used many more mines than laid down in its military doctrine. Having slowed the Ukrainian advance, Russia has then attempted to strike Ukrainian armoured vehicles with one-way attack uncrewed aerial vehicles, attack helicopters and artillery.
  • Although Russia has achieved some success with this approach in the early stages of Ukraine’s counter-offensive, its forces continue to suffer from key weaknesses, especially overstretched units and a shortage of artillery munitions.
  • 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.

As of Tuesday 4 July, 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 231030 (+770)
  • Tanks – 4059 (+2)
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 7908 (+9)
  • Artillery systems – 4252 (+32)
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 647 (+6)
  • Air defence means – 394 (+3)
  • Aircraft – 315 (+0)
  • Helicopters – 309 (+0)
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 6834 (+18)
  • Vessels/boats – 18 (+0)
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 6843 (+9)
  • Special equipment – 590 (+0)
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0)
  • Cruise missiles – 1264 (+0)

Arms supplies from Iran to Russia have become regular – Ukraine’s Air Force spokesperson, Ukrinform reports. “Iran continues to supply Russia with weapons, and in this regard, Ukraine hopes for pressure from the international community on Iran to stop these supplies. Yurii Ihnat, the spokesperson for the Ukrainian Air Force Command, said. Flights from Iran to the Russian Federation have become regular. There is no need to connect [attacks on Ukraine] with the arrival of aircraft [from Iran]. They have a common sea. They can deliver much larger volumes of cargo through the Caspian Sea, Ihnat said.

Therefore, according to him, it makes no sense to talk about the ways of delivery of Iranian-made Shahed one-way attack drones. The question is how much and what Iran can deliver, what type of weapon. Because the missile issue cannot be ruled out either. The Russian Federation needs this weaponry, he said. Ihnat noted that Ukrainian society hopes that the world community will put pressure on Iran so that this does not happen.”

Prigozhin breaks his silence, draws conclusions to the “march” and promises “future victories”, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing audio recording published by the Grey Zone Telegram-channel, which, according to Russian media outlets, is closely associated with the Wagner Group. “Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of the Wagner Private Military Company (PMC), claimed that his “march of justice” was targeted against traitors, and at the moment he is expecting “next victories on the front”.

Prigozhin claimed that the “march of justice” of the Wagner PMC had fighting against traitors and for the mobilisation of society as its goals. And I think that we managed to achieve much. I am sure that in the near future you will see our next victories in the front, he stated. He did not specify whose victories he considers his own and did not provide any information about his whereabouts. It is unknown when the audio was recorded. The latest statement of Prigozhin was published on 26 June.”

Soldiers of anti-aircraft missile troops have already shot down over 3,000 Russian targets, Ukrinform reports. “Soldiers of the anti-aircraft missile troops of the Ukrainian Air Force have already shot down more than 3,000 Russian targets, which saved thousands of Ukrainian lives and preserved hundreds of critical infrastructure facilities. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said this in his nightly video address, Ukrinform reports.

First of all, I congratulate our anti-aircraft warriors – the warriors of the anti-aircraft missile troops of the Ukrainian Air Force, who are celebrating their holiday today. I thank you for every target you have shot down, warriors! More than 3,000 targets have been shot down: more than 180 aircraft, more than 130 helicopters, nearly 40 ballistic and more than 1,000 cruise missiles, more than 1,600 drones of various types… All this means thousands and thousands of lives saved by you, hundreds of critical infrastructure facilities that you have protected, Zelensky said.”

Ukraine’s ‘Army of Drones’ destroyed 75 units of enemy equipment within a week – minister, Ukrinform reports. “Ukrainian units receiving assistance as part of the “Army of Drones” project destroyed 75 units of Russian equipment within a week, including nine tanks. According to Ukrinform, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister for Innovations, Development of Education, Science and Technologies, Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov said this in a Telegram post.

War of drones: minus 75 units of Russian equipment in a week. The strike units whose work is provided by the ‘Army of Drones’ continue to demonstrate top results, the post reads. According to Fedorov, during the week of June 26 to July 3, drones helped Ukrainian defenders destroy 9 enemy tanks, 27 armored fighting vehicles, 4 self-propelled howitzers, 4 guns and 2 MLRS.”

Humanitarian 

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1676079385726599168

Kremlin: “Not too many hopes” for Black Sea grain deal, Reuters report. “Russia is pessimistic about the prospects of renewing the Black Sea grain deal because no progress has been made in implementing accompanying agreements that pertain to Russian exports, the Kremlin said on Monday. The Financial Times reported on Monday that the European Union was considering a proposal for the Russian Agricultural Bank to set up a subsidiary to reconnect to the global financial network, as an incentive for Moscow to extend the deal.

The deal, under which Russia has guaranteed the safety of grain ships heading to and from Ukrainian ports through waters it controls, is set to expire on July 18 and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a briefing there were not too many hopes it would be extended.

When the deal was signed in July 2022, the United Nations and Russia also signed a memorandum of understanding committing the UN to facilitate unimpeded access of Russian fertiliser and other products to global markets. To fulfil the memorandum, Russia says several conditions must be met, including the readmission of the Russian Agricultural Bank (Rosselkhozbank) to the Belgian-based international banking payment system, SWIFT.

Asked to comment on the FT report, Peskov said: So far we have nothing to report on the implementation of that part of the agreement that concerned the Russian side.”

EU may lift sanctions on Russian bank to preserve grain deal, Ukrinform reports, citing Financial Times. “The European Union is considering allowing a Russian sanctioned bank to set up a subsidiary that will be able to reconnect to the SWIFT international interbank information and payment system. According to the newspaper’s sources, the move is aimed at protecting the Black Sea grain deal, which is under threat from the Kremlin’s ultimatums. This will allow Ukraine to export food to world markets.

The report (citing anonymous sources) says that the plan proposed by Moscow during the UN-brokered talks would allow a Russian agricultural bank to set up a subsidiary to make payments related to grain exports. The subsidiary will be allowed to use the global Swift system, which was closed to the largest Russian banks after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The issue is complicated by the fact that Russian Agricultural Bank is fully owned by the Kremlin. Its former chairman of the board, Dmitry Patrushev, is Russian current Minister of Agriculture and the son of Nikolai Patrushev, Putin’s aide and secretary of the Russian Security Council, who played an important role in fomenting the war against Ukraine. It is noted that the Kremlin refused to comment on the EU proposal. The European Commission also declined to comment.”

Environmental

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1676033332231000065

Zaluzhny and president of “Energoatom” Kotin agreed on joint interaction regarding situation at ZNPP, Censor.net reports, citing the Ukrainian General Staff. «Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valeriy Zaluzhnyi and Chief of the General Staff Serhiy Shaptala, together with President of NNEGC Energoatom Petro Kotin and Director of Rivne NPP Pavlo Kovtoniuk, agreed to cooperate with the military and power engineers to plan possible scenarios at the plant. 

“We worked out the issue of information exchange between the army and power engineers to analyse, plan and forecast possible scenarios at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. We agreed on close cooperation to ensure timely response to certain situations,” the statement said.»

ZNPP connected to backup power line for first time in four months – IAEA, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing IAEA. “The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) has been reconnected to the only available backup power line four months after its loss, said IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi. He emphasised that was an important step because it was necessary for cooling the reactor (one of the units of the station remains in a state of hot shutdown, while the rest is in a state of cold shutdown – ed.) and other important functions of nuclear safety. Before the start of the full-scale war, in February 2022, four 750 kV lines led to the ZNPP, the IAEA clarified. 

At the same time, the situation with the energy supply at the site remains extremely fragile and unstable. While the reconnection of the backup power line is positive, the plant’s external power situation remains very vulnerable, highlighting the precarious nuclear and safety situation at the site, Grossi said.”

Putin’s statements about the financing of PMC “Wagner” are direct proof that mercenaries were part of Russian army, Censor.net reports, citing Prosecutor General of Ukraine Andrii Kostin in a Reuters comment. “Last week, Putin said that PMV “Wagner” and its founder Yevgeny Prigozhin received almost $2 billion from Russia last year. As Russia tries to separate the Wagner PMC forces from its own military, Putin’s comments about state budget spending on mercenaries were direct evidence that they are not only de facto, but probably illegally, also part of the Russian army. believes Kostin.

At the same time, the use of mercenaries by states in armed conflicts is prohibited by the Geneva Conventions. According to Kostin, among the more than 93,000 cases of potential war crimes investigated by the Prosecutor General’s Office, there were many atrocities committed by Wagner’s troops. The Prosecutor General noted that their atrocities are one of the most serious crimes against our civilians and our prisoners of war.

Kostin also added that PMC Wagner” poses a threat not only to Ukraine, but also to peace and security in many countries, including Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. Kostin appealed to allies, including the United States and Britain, to designate the Wagner PMC as a terrorist organization so that it could be prosecuted and its assets frozen.”

Moscow says 700,000 children from Ukraine conflict zones now in Russia, Reuters reports. “Russia has brought some 700,000 children from the conflict zones in Ukraine into Russian territory, Grigory Karasin, head of the international committee in the Federation Council, Russia’s upper house of parliament, said late on Sunday. In recent years, 700,000 children have found refuge with us, fleeing the bombing and shelling from the conflict areas in Ukraine, Karasin wrote on his Telegram messaging channel.

Russia launched a full-scale invasion on its western neighbour Ukraine in February 2022. Moscow [allege] its programme of bring children from Ukraine into Russian territory is to protect orphans and children abandoned in the conflict zone. However, Ukraine says many children have been illegally deported and the United States says thousands of children have been forcibly removed from their homes.

Most of the movement of people and children occurred in the first few months of the war and before Ukraine started its major counter offensive to regain occupied territories in the east and south in late August.”

US continues to insist on “hybrid tribunal” for crime of aggression, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “The United States continues to support the idea of a “hybrid tribunal” against Russia for the crime of aggression. This was announced on Monday, 3 July, at a press conference in The Hague by Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr., reports correspondent of European Pravda

The United States supports an international tribunal that is based on Ukrainian law but includes concepts of international law,” the official said. He added that the United States “looks forward to working with our counterparts in Ukraine, our partners in the EU and all other actors to ensure that we have the right forum to ensure justice and accountability.

This spring, the media reported that Brussels and the G7 countries are inclined to believe that the most realistic prospect of bringing to justice those responsible for the crime of aggression against Ukraine will be a “hybrid tribunal” that would combine the national jurisdiction of Ukraine and a process based on international law with judges from different countries.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the President of Ukraine, called for the creation of a full-fledged international tribunal to prosecute the Russian crime of aggression and criticised one of the suggested formats, the so-called hybrid tribunalduring his speech in the Hague. Only one institution is able to react to the crime of aggression – a tribunal. A tribunal, not something hybrid that will only allow to formally ‘close the case’,  Zelenskyy asserted.”

Support

US poised to give Ukraine controversial cluster bombs, The Washington Post reports. “The Biden administration is pushing lawmakers and allies to put aside human rights concerns as regular ammunition stocks are depleted. Confronted with a worrying shortage of artillery ammunition, a counteroffensive that has been slow to launch and increasingly desperate appeals from Kyiv for more weaponry, the Biden administration is facing an imminent decision over whether to supply Ukraine with controversial cluster bombs.

We have been thinking about DPICM for a long time, Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Friday at the National Press Club, referring to dual-purpose improved conventional munitions. Yes, of course there’s a decision-making process ongoing.

Senior administration and defense officials have in recent weeks contacted Capitol Hill and allies long opposed to the use of cluster munitions to make the case that they are needed on the Ukraine battlefield and to provide assurances on how they would be used. Deputy national security adviser Jon Finer made calls to lawmakers to gauge the comfort level on the issue, according to people familiar with the conversations, though they were told that a final decision had not yet been made.”

Germany and Denmark will deliver dozens of Leopard 1 A5s to Ukraine in coming weeks, – Pistorius, Censor.net reports, citing German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said this in an interview with Rzeczpospolita. “In the coming weeks, dozens of Leopard 1 A5 battle tanks will be delivered to Ukraine, provided by Germany and Denmark, he said.

Acting Danish Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen previously said that Denmark and Germany will hand over 80 Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine.

Provision of F-16 should be promoted as soon as possible, pilots are ready to conduct training process at least tomorrow, Censor.net reports, citing the Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat, with reference to Ukrinform. The Air Force of the AFU is ready to begin the process of providing Ukraine with modern Western fighters, the lists of pilots for training have been approved and they can leave. The process, which has already been launched, seems to have the green light from all the members of our newly created aviation coalition, so it is necessary to advance as quickly as possible.

Everything is ready in the Air Force. We are ready to receive the equipment, the pilots are ready to leave at least tomorrow and conduct the training process,” he explained.The spokesman reminded that the lists of Ukrainian pilots for training have already been approved by the commander.According to Ignat, without aviation, it is difficult for Ukrainian ground forces to advance and win back their territories.”

Ouestion of Ukraine’s membership in NATO will be discussed only after end of war, – Pistorius, Censor.net reports, citing the German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius in an interview with Rzeczpospolita. “NATO will not be able to answer questions regarding Ukraine’s accession to the Alliance while the war continues in the country. During the Vilnius summit, for the first time, a meeting of the Ukraine-NATO Council will take place at the level of heads of state or government. Thus, Kyiv will have an equal seat at the table of this Alliance body. This is a big step towards adaptation to NATO structures and processes, Pistorius said.

He noted that during recent meetings with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, they agreed that the Alliance should not under any circumstances become a party to the conflict. And that is why the issue of Ukraine’s membership will be discussed only after the end of the war.

Therefore, we will not be able to answer the question regarding Ukraine’s accession to NATO while the war in Ukraine continues. Only then will we all, and allies, I think, then there will be 32, together with Sweden, together with Ukraine, decide the terms of joining the Alliance, – emphasized the head of the German Defense Ministry.”

Aid to Ukraine is support for common European values, Censor.net reports, citing Ukrinform and the President of the European Council, Charles Michel. “Your visit to Kyiv yesterday sends a powerful signal of support for the people of Ukraine. It is support for our common values, because today Ukraine is on the front line in the fight for our European principles and values. Our duty is to support the people of Ukraine as much as we can and for as long as necessary, said Michel, addressing the head of the government of Spain, which has been presiding over the EU since July 1.

The President of the European Council noted that the EU recently faced the biggest challenges in its history: the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis. Spain has always been at the forefront of solving these problems, maintaining a constructive position, focusing on concrete results and demonstrating the will to reach powerful compromises.

New Developments

  1. Pope’s envoy after his visit to Moscow: There is no peace plan, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Reuters. “After visiting Moscow, Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, Pope Francis’ special representative, said that the Vatican had no peace plan for the war in Ukraine and that his mission was focused on humanitarian issues. There is not a peace plan, not a mediation… There is a big aspiration that the violence will end and that human life can be preserved, starting with the protection of the little ones. Zuppi has said that his mission to Moscow regarding the war in Ukraine was focused on humanitarian issues and did not include any discussions of a peace plan. This week, Zuppi met in Moscow with Yury Ushakov, one of President Vladimir Putin’s advisors, and Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church. Earlier in June, he also visited Kyiv for talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
  2. 40 employees of the Russian embassy flew out of Romania. Bucharest expelled them because of the Russian Federationʼs war against Ukraine, ua reports, citing Europa Liberă România.”The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania has decided to reduce the diplomatic and technical-administrative staff of Russian embassies in the country. It is about 11 diplomats and 29 people from other personnel. They explained that the reduction of the Russian diplomatic mission in Bucharest will show the current level of bilateral relations in the context of Russiaʼs resolution of an aggressive war against Ukraine. At the same time, it will reflect “a level close to the level of diplomatic and technical-administrative representation of Romania in Russia. In general, Russia has to reduce the number of employees of its embassies in Romania by 51 positions: 21 diplomats and 30 technical and administrative staff.
  3. Intelligence chief: Russia’s FSB is assigned to kill Prigozhin, Kyiv IndependentAfter Wagner Group’s short-lived rebellion, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) was tasked with liquidating mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin, according to Ukraine’s military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov. In any case, all of such potential assassination attempts will not be fast. It will take them some time to have the proper approaches and to reach the stage when they’re ready to conduct a huge operation,” Budanov told the War Zone media outlet. But once again, I’d like to underline that it’s a big open question. Would they be successful in fulfilling that? Will they dare to execute that order?”reports.

Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

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

Ukrainian and Russian forces continued limited attacks on the Svatove-Kreminna line and south of Kreminna on July 3. […] Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces also attacked near Nevske (18km northwest of Kreminna) and in the Serebrianska forest area (10km south of Kreminna). Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces attacked Ukrainian positions near Novoselivske (15km northwest of Svatove) on July 2 and 3. Chechen Republic Head Ramzan Kadyrov confirmed on July 2 that Chechen Akhmat special forces continue to operate in the Kreminna area. Russian milbloggers also claimed that elements of the Russian 228th Guards Motorized Rifle Regiment (90th Guards Tank Division, Central Military District) are operating near Kreminna and that the 85th Brigade of the 2nd Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) Army Corps is operating near Bilohorivka (12km southwest of Kreminna).

Russian and Ukrainian forces continued ground attacks in the Bakhmut area on July 3. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian troops conducted unsuccessful offensive operations west of Bakhmut itself, and northwest of Bakhmut near Orikhovo-Vasylivka (10km northwest), Minkivka (13km northwest), and Bohdanivka (5km northwest). Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar reported on July 3 that Ukrainian troops continue to advance in unspecified parts of the Bakhmut direction. Russian milbloggers continued to discuss Ukrainian counteroffensive operations southwest of Bakhmut, particularly between Kurdiumivka (13km southwest) and Klishchiivka (6km southwest). Geolocated combat footage posted on July 2 shows that Ukrainian forces have advanced towards the treeline west of Klishchiivka. Russian sources, including the Russian MoD claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted ground attacks near Klishchiivka, Kurdiumivka, and Ozarianivka (16km southwest of Bakhmut). Several Russian sources claimed that elements of the 4th Brigade of the 2nd LNR Army Corps repelled Ukrainian attacks near Klishchiivka.

Russian forces continued ground attacks along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line on July 3. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations near Avdiivka and that Ukrainian forces repelled 14 Russian ground attacks near Marinka (on the southwestern outskirts of Donetsk City). Geolocated footage posted on July 3 shows that Russian forces have made a marginal advance southeast of Pervomaiske (on the northwestern outskirts of Donetsk City). A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful attacks southwest of Avdiivka and within Marinka. […]

Ukrainian forces continued to conduct ground attacks along the administrative border between western Donetsk and eastern Zaporizhzhia oblasts on July 3. Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar reported that Ukrainian forces continue to conduct successful offensive operations in the Novosilka direction (immediately west of Velyka Novosilka) and the Staromaiorske direction (9km south of Velyka Novosilka) and conducted offensive operations in the Novodarivka (14km southwest of Velyka Novosilka) and Pryyutne (15km southwest of Velyka Novosilka) directions. Maliar also reported that Ukrainian forces have liberated an additional 28.4 square kilometers in southern Ukraine, for a total of 154.4 liberated square kilometers in an unspecified time frame (presumably since the start of Ukrainian counteroffensive operations in early June). The Russian MoD and other Russian sources claimed that Russian forces repelled Ukrainian attacks near Makarivka (7km south of Velyka Novosilka), Urozhaine (9km south of Velyka Novosilka), Pryyutne, and Staromaiorske.

Ukrainian forces conducted limited ground attacks in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast on July 2. Maliar reported that Ukrainian forces conducted offensive operations in the Novodanylivka (6km south of Orikhiv) and Robotyne (12km south of Orikhiv) directions. A Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces captured an unspecified number of Russian positions near Luhivske (18km southeast of Orikhiv) and advanced toward Robotyne. Russian sources claimed that Russian forces repelled Ukrainian forces attacking with a grouping of up to two assault platoons near Robotyne. Russian sources did not report ground attacks near Pyatykhatky (25km southwest of Orikhiv) but claimed that Russian and Ukrainian artillery is active near the settlement. Footage published on July 3 purportedly shows units of the 247th Guards Air Assault (VDV) Regiment (7th Guards Mountain VDV Division) operating in the Zaporizhzhia direction. Russian sources claimed on July 2 that elements of the 1430th Motorized Rifle Regiment of Territorial Troops (TRV) are operating near Robotyne and that elements of the 22nd Separate Guards Special Purpose Brigade (GRU) are operating in the Orikhiv direction.

Russian forces are accumulating military equipment in the rear of occupied Zaporizhzhia Oblast. Satellite imagery published on July 2 shows new helicopters and vehicles at the Berdiansk airport. Ukrainian Melitopol Mayor Ivan Fedorov reported on July 3 that Russian military helicopters are accumulating in Berdiansk and Kyrylivka. Ukrainian Mariupol Mayoral Advisor Petro Andryushchenko reported on July 2 and 3 that Russian forces are transporting military equipment in the Berdiansk direction. […]

Official Russian sources continue to claim that Russian forces repel all Ukrainian assaults on the east (left) bank of Kherson Oblast near the Antonivsky Bridge. Kherson Oblast Occupation Head Vladimir Saldo claimed on July 3 that Russian forces repel all of the Ukrainian forces that attempt to cross the Dnipro River. […] Another Russian milblogger claimed that fighting is ongoing near Antonivsky Bridge.

Ukrainian forces conducted counteroffensive operations in at least four sectors of the front and made marginal advances on July 3. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted counter-offensive operations in the Lyman direction. Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar stated that Ukrainian forces continue counteroffensive operations in the Bakhmut area, the western Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia Oblast border area, and in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast. Maliar stated that Ukrainian forces recaptured nine square kilometers of territory in eastern Ukraine, and geolocated footage shows that Ukrainian forces have advanced southwest of Bakhmut. Maliar stated that Ukrainian forces also recaptured 28.4 square kilometers in southern Ukraine in the past week for a total of 158.4 square kilometers in southern Ukraine during an unspecified time period. A Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces made limited gains south of Orikhiv in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast.]

Russian milbloggers have seized on recent Ukrainian activity on the east (left) bank of Kherson Oblast to call for an increased presence of small river vessels and equipment in the Dnipro River to prevent further Ukrainian advances. Russian milbloggers appealed on July 2 to the heads of the Dagestan and Tatarstan Republics, Astrakhan Oblast, Krasnodar Krai, and Primorsky Krai to send boats confiscated from poachers to the Kherson Oblast frontline, specifying that 10 regiments and brigades of the Southern Military District’s “Dnepr” (the Russian word for Dnipro) Grouping of Forces sorely need the vessels. ISW previously reported on July 2 that milbloggers are accusing the Russian MoD of failing to provide Russian forces on the east bank with requisite boats and other equipment, and it appears that milbloggers outsourced their requests for additional logistical support to Russian regional heads. Dagestan Republic Head Sergey Melikov responded to the milblogger appeal on July 3 and ordered Dagestan to solve the issue of transferring confiscated poaching boats to Russian forces. One Russian milblogger called for the resurrection of the “Dnepr” flotilla,” a special miliary river unit that was active in the 1735-1739 and 1787-1792 Russo-Turkish wars, the Russian Civil War, and World War II. The milblogger claimed that a resurrected “Dnepr” flotilla could significantly ameliorate the position of Russian troops in the Kherson direction and that this grouping could be reinforced with simple, civilian-use boats. Several other milbloggers, including former Russian officer Igor Girkin, claimed that Russian forces in Kherson Oblast need small boats and equipment in order to keep Ukrainian troops as far back from the Dnipro delta as possible. The overall anxious milblogger response to recent Ukrainian activity across the Dnipro River suggests that many Russian milbloggers fear Ukraine’s ability to cross the river and believe that the current command of the “Dnepr” grouping has not sufficiently prepared its troops for that potentiality.

Russian Security Council Deputy Chairperson Dmitry Medvedev published an essay that reamplified inflammatory Russian rhetoric towards Ukraine and the West, likely to undermine support for Ukraine at the upcoming NATO summit. Medvedev’s July 3 essay paints his usual alarmist rhetoric in new colors; he again portrayed the war in Ukraine as part of a broader existential conflict against the West, restated many of Putin’s extreme pre-war demands that transcended Ukraine, and implied that Russia is prepared to engage in this broader conflict for “decades” if these demands are not met. Medvedev claimed that “armageddon” is “probable” if the West does not agree to negotiate a new world order with Russia, absurdly claiming that the nuclear “taboo” is broken (presumably by the US use of atomic weapons in 1945–it is otherwise entirely unclear to what he might be referring) to falsely imply that nuclear war is a certainty. Medvedev attempted to portray Russia as connected to partners outside of the West despite Western sanctions, and that states not aligned with the West actively stand against it. Medvedev’s essay is consistent with his and other senior Kremlin officials’ prior attempts to scare Western states, organizations, and media prior to significant international discussions about military, political, and economic support for Ukraine and its effort to liberate Russian-held territories. Medvedev’s essay is a restatement of existing Russian narratives and does not represent a true inflection in Russian political, military, or nuclear rhetoric.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reiterated boilerplate rhetoric about the current state of the war in Ukraine and the Wagner Group rebellion on July 3. Shoigu notably did not directly name the Wagner Group or its financier Yevgeny Prigozhin while discussing the “provocation,” opting instead to denounce the rebellion and credit the loyalty of the Russian military as the reason for the rebellion’s failure. Shoigu also claimed that Ukrainian forces have lost 2,500 pieces of military equipment since June 4, likely intending to undermine Western support for the Ukrainian counteroffensive. Shoigu’s speech did not present any new rhetorical arguments and is likely continued projection of claimed internal stability following the rebellion and portraying the Russian military as capable of defending against the Ukrainian counteroffensive. […]

The Kremlin continues to use tools of digital authoritarianism to surveil Russia’s domestic population and aims to expand domestic production of surveillance technology. The New York Times (NYT) reported on June 3 that the Kremlin has given Russian law enforcement, including the Federal Security Service (FSB), more tools to monitor the location of phones, break into personal accounts, and track activity in encrypted applications such as Telegram, WhatsApp and Signal. According to Russian internal records that NYT reportedly obtained, the Russian government reportedly aims to expand its surveillance technology tools by supporting the transition of Russian technology firms into producing advanced tools for Russian intelligence services. Russian technology firms may be experiencing a shortage of skilled employees given the number of skilled workers that left Russia after the start of the war in February 2022.] ISW has previously reported on the Kremlin’s use of automated technology to censor the Russian information space and trading of surveillance tools in exchange for weapons to use in Ukraine.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ukrainian forces conducted counteroffensive operations in at least four sectors of the front and made marginal advances on July 3.
  • Russian milbloggers have seized on recent Ukrainian activity on the east (left) bank of Kherson Oblast to call for an increased presence of small river vessels and equipment in the Dnipro River to prevent further Ukrainian advances.
  • Russian Security Council Deputy Chairperson Dmitry Medvedev published an essay that reamplified inflammatory Russian rhetoric towards Ukraine and the West, likely to undermine support for Ukraine at the upcoming NATO summit
  • Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reiterated boilerplate rhetoric about the current state of the war in Ukraine and the Wagner Group rebellion on July 3.
  • Russian forces continued drone and missile strikes against rear areas in Ukraine overnight and during the day on July 3.
  • The Kremlin continues to use tools of digital authoritarianism to surveil Russia’s domestic population and aims to expand domestic production of surveillance technology.
  • Ukrainian and Russian forces continued limited attacks on the Svatove-Kreminna line and south of Kreminna.
  • Russian and Ukrainian forces continued ground attacks in the Bakhmut area.
  • Ukrainian forces reportedly continued limited ground attacks in western Donetsk Oblast, near the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia oblasts administrative border, and in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
  • Official Russian sources continue to claim that Russian forces repel all Ukrainian assaults on the east (left) bank of Kherson Oblast near the Antonivsky Bridge.
  • The Wagner Group is reportedly suspending regional recruitment on a temporary basis.

Russian officials continue efforts to portray Russia as a safe custodian of Ukrainian children while inadvertently confirming that Russia is facilitating mass deportations of Ukrainian children to the Russian Federation.

Top NATO official praises Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Reuters, citing Rob Bauer, Chair of the NATO Military Committee. “Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russia is complicated by an abundance of landmines and other obstacles in the occupied territories, and Ukrainian troops are right to proceed with caution. Counteroffensive is hard…People should never think that this is an easy walkover. It will never be, Bauer told journalists at the NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Ukrainian troops face fortifications up to 30 km deep as they try to breach Russia’s defence lines, Bauer stated, providing historical comparisons. We saw in Normandy in the Second World War that it took seven, eight, nine weeks for the allies to actually break through the defensive lines of the Germans. And so, it is not a surprise that it is not going fast, he added.

Bauer’s comment is similar to remarks made by General Mark Milley, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, who stated on 30 June that the counteroffensive will be very hard, very long, and “very, very bloody”. Bauer said that the Ukrainian forces were doing the right thing in proceeding cautiously as they try to advance in order to prevent big losses.It is extremely difficult, this type of operation, and I think the way they do it is commendable, Bauer stated.

He stressed that the Ukrainian forces should not be pressured or criticised for not advancing more quickly. This is a very, very difficult time for them, Bauer added. Earlier, the White House stated that the United States would stay in constant touch with Ukraine and will continue to provide support through training, equipment and advice so that its counteroffensive against Russia is successful.

Russia’s Is Sending Its Heaviest Artillery Into Ukraine, And It Is Getting DestroyedForbes reports. “Russia’s giant 240mm self-propelled mortars are appearing in increasing numbers on the battlefield in Ukraine – and getting destroyed just as fast. The presence of this lumbering beast of war may be a sign that Russian artillery is increasingly overstretched, and they are resorting to obsolete weapons with a poor chance of survival.

The 2S4 Tyulpan (“Tulip”) is the largest mortar in use in the world today. It is mounted on a tracked, armored vehicle, much like most modern self-propelled artillery, but rather than a long-range cannon it carries a huge, short-range mortar. The Tyulpan was first produced in 1959 and the last one rolled off the production line back in 1988, making it around 45 years old now – still younger than many of the tanks now in the Russian front line.

The biggest cannon in the US Army’s arsenal is the 155mm howitzer on the M109 Paladin which throws a shell weighing about 100 pounds to a range of up to 25 miles. The Russian 240mm mortar lobs a bomb weighing up to 500 pounds to a range of 11 miles. It looks fearsome, and its rounds are devastating where they hit. […]

Modern artillery fire missions are often described as ‘shoot and scoot,’ in which vehicles fire a few shots and then rapidly change position to avoid counter-battery fire. This is vital for survival in high-intensity conflict like the current one in which both sides deploy artillery-spotting radar and drones are constantly looking for guns firing behind enemy lines. The Tyulpan is poorly suited to this type of warfare as it takes around 25 minutes to prepare for firing, and fires just one round per minute. The Paladin can fire its first round within sixty seconds of halting, and can fire a burst of eight rounds in one minute before moving on[…]

On Twitter, Richard Vereker has analyzed open-source intelligence on Russian losses compiled by Warpsotting and looked at the changes month by month. Losses of 152mm artillery pieces, which are the mainstay or Russia’s artillery and which have previously suffered the highest losses, have dropped below the smaller 122mm caliber weapons for the last two months. This may be an indication that, after losing more than 300 152mm self-propelled guns and 170 towed 152mm guns, Russia is starting to run low. (Or, perhaps even worse for them, they may be running out of 152mm ammunition).

The early phases of the war were marked by Russia’s massive superiority in artillery, sometimes described as a seven-to-one advantage in artillery pieces. That advantage is disappearing fast if it has not already gone, and Ukrainian forces are now using artillery like the German-made 155mm PzH 2000 and truck-mounted 155mm Caesars as well as US-supplied HIMARS multiple launch rocket systems.

It is hard to get reliable information on the state of the war. But based on the available information on casualties, Russia’s heavy mortar losses may be the first signs of serious problems with its artillery.

Ihnat commented on the temporary absence of shelling in Kyiv, Ukrinform reports, citing Yuriy Ihnat, the spokesman of the Ukrainian Air Force. “According to statistics, most enemy missile attacks on Ukraine are carried out at night, because it complicates the work of air defence. So that we have quite a lot of problems, they are launched from different directions, on different routes, which complicates the work of air defence and distracts the attention of our anti-aircraft fighters and other specialists who shoot down these UAVs, he added.

Other components of the Defense Forces also work on the “Shaheeds”: large-caliber machine guns, anti-aircraft guns, and MANPADS. Fighters also play the role of air defense. However, Ihnat noted that if these were F-16s and not MIG-29s, the effectiveness would have increased many times.

He also noted that the short-term absence of shelling of the capital can probably be related to both the enemy’s plans and the fact that the occupiers’ stocks of missiles and drones are not infinite. There are days when it is more, there are days when it is less. If we haven’t seen shelling for three days, it doesn’t mean that we should relax, and they have decreased, he emphasized.”

On May 13, “Patriot” SAM destroyed three enemy helicopters and two planes in Bryansk region, Censor.net reports. “The video shows the calculation work of the S-300, Buk-M1, Nasams, IRIS-T, and Patriot air defense systems. It also says that they keep lists of which targets of the Russian Federation destroyed by this or that complex. For this, special stickers are simply pasted on the equipment.

In particular, three helicopters and two planes on May 13 are listed in the list of enemy targets hit by the Patriot division.

With Crimea under Russian occupation, war not over yet, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing CNN. “President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that the ultimate goal of Ukraine under his leadership is the liberation of Crimea, and only then will it mean that “the war is over”, and Zelenskyy will not consider “peace” without Crimea a “victory”.In particular, Zelenskyy said that his ultimate goal is to liberate Crimea, which was annexed in 2014: “We cannot imagine Ukraine without Crimea. And while Crimea is under the Russian occupation, it means only one thing: the war is not over yet?

When asked if there was any scenario in which there could be peace without Crimea, Zelenskyy said: It will not be victory then. He has also commented on the Wagner Group’s rebellion in Russia and said that the Russian dictator’s reaction was weak.

We see Putin’s reaction. It’s weak. Firstly, we see he doesn’t control everything. Wagner’s moving deep into Russia and taking certain regions shows how easy it is to do. Putin doesn’t control the situation in the regions. All that vertical of power he used to have is just crumbling down.”Zelenskyy has said that Ukrainian intelligence reports indicate that the Kremlin is measuring Prigozhin’s support, and that half of Russia supports the Wagner leader and his rebellion.”

  1. Consequences and what to do?

NATO cannot allow Russia to win in Ukraine – the head of the Alliance’s Military Committee, Ukrinform reports. “NATO allies take some risks in supplying Ukraine with arms and ammunition, but this aid is essential to prevent Russia from winning its war of aggression against Ukraine and from spreading the war to other European countries. The head of NATO’s Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer, stated this at a meeting with journalists at NATO’s Brussels headquarters.

As the Secretary General of NATO said, we have to take risks, especially in land space. If Ukraine loses this war, it will only be the beginning of even more instability. The Russians want to return (their influence – ed.) back to the borders of 1997, which includes the three Baltic states, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria. This is unacceptable for us. We must realize that this war is not only about Ukraine. It is about much more. So we have to continue to support Ukraine for as long as necessary because we cannot allow Russia to win,” Bauer said.

He refrained from commenting on how “devastated” NATO’s arsenals are at the moment, but admitted that after the aid to Ukraine, the allies do have somewhat lower stock levels of some types of ammunition. Their replenishment is the responsibility, first of all, of NATO member countries, which must assess their own stocks and take into account the volume of orders in industry.

At the same time, according to the head of the NATO Military Committee, one should not underestimate Russia’s military potential, which it is capable of reviving and launching a new attack. The Russian army, especially its ground forces, is now 90% involved in the war in Ukraine. I don’t think they have enough strength for anything else. But we are convinced that the Russians will be able to recover, so all our plans are built on the basis of the state of the Russian army, as it was before the Russian attack against Ukraine. Besides, they (Russians) will learn lessons from this war as well. So we continue to view Russia as a serious threat in the naval and, especially, in the air force components. They also have great capabilities in space and at the level of nuclear forces, the admiral noted.

He added that currently Russia is quite cautious in its attitude towards NATO, as it is already “very, very busy” in Ukraine. So the Russian army will need some time, probably several years, to restore its offensive potential. This time should be used by the Alliance and allied countries to determine the further development of defense capabilities and force positioning.”

Ukraine’s National Agency on Corruption Prevention adds Domestos, Rexona, Dove to list of international sponsors of war, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the press service of the NACP. “The National Agency on Corruption Prevention of Ukraine (NACP) has added Unilever Corporation, which is widely represented in Ukraine by Domestos, Axe, Rexona, Dove, etc., to the list of international sponsors of the war. The company pays significant taxes to the Russian state budget, thus supporting the aggressor’s economy and contributing to the continuation of Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Unilever employs more than 3,000 people in Russia. In 2022, the Russian business accounted for 1.4% of Unilever’s turnover and 2% of its net profit, which in 2022 increased by 24.9% compared to 2021 and amounted to €8.03 billion. The company’s revenues increased to €60.1 billion (+14.5%). Unilever’s sales grew in all categories, with the largest increase in cosmetics sales (+20.8%).

After Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Unilever promised to suspend all imports and exports of its products to and from Russia, as well as to stop all media and advertising spending. Nevertheless, during the first year of the full-scale war, Unilever Russia’s profits doubled from 4.8 billion roubles (€56 million) in 2021 to more than 9.2 billion roubles (€108 million) last year.

Additionally, thanks to the significant profit (+91%), Unilever Russia managed to increase its capital to 34.5 billion roubles [approximately €355.5 million] in 2022 from 25.3 billion roubles [approximately €260.7 million] in 2021, or +37%. Unilever Rus paid about $50 million in taxes to the Russian budget in 2022.

Unilever said that the company’s position on doing business in Russia has not changed, but that its factories in Omsk, Yekaterinburg, St. Petersburg and Tula continue to operate and its offices continue to operate, ensuring the presence of its brands at the point of sale.”

Hans Petter Midttun: Russia might be running out of both artillery and ammunition. That’s not only the result of high expenditure, tear and wear, and lack of maintenance. Ukraine has been actively disrupting Russian Land Lines of Communication. With superior intelligence and a recognised ground picture, it has also been able to strike Russian command and control nodes, logistical hubs, and concentrations of manpower and equipment.

During the last week alone, Ukraine has struck 94 places of troop concentrations; 22 anti-aircraft missile systems; 19 ammunition depots, and 7 command posts.

Ukraine is, however, also actively hunting down Russian artillery.

Ukrainian forces have destroyed far more pieces of Russian artillery in June than in any month since the start of the full-scale invasion. If the present trends persist, July may prove to be even more devastating. Acknowledging that we are only four days into the month, the numbers are consistent with trends since January: The number of Russian artillery pieces destroyed is increasing by the month.

If the trend persists, Russia might end up losing around 900 guns by the end of the month.

In total, 4252 pieces of artillery have been eliminated since 24 February 2022. 52,8% of these (2245) have been destroyed since 1 January. Additionally, Russia is experiencing an increasing number of technical problems upholding the operational status of old artillery pieces.

According to David Hambling (Forbes:)

“The early phases of the war were marked by Russia’s massive superiority in artillery, sometimes described as a seven-to-one advantage in artillery pieces. That advantage is disappearing fast if it has not already gone, and Ukrainian forces are now using artillery like the German-made 155mm PzH 2000 and truck-mounted 155mm Caesars as well as US-supplied HIMARS multiple launch rocket systems.

It is hard to get reliable information on the state of the war. But based on the available information on casualties, Russia’s heavy mortar losses may be the first signs of serious problems with its artillery.

Ukraine is actively shaping the battlefield. It is removing one of the systems protecting the extreme numbers of anti-tank mines laid in front of the 30 km deep layers of trenches.

As it is successfully destroying Russian artillery, it “only” remains to destroy Russian Air Power, precision-guided munition, kamikaze drones, fortified positions and their anti-tank weapons, and its electronic warfare systems, before starting to clear the minefields (while lacking the mechanical tools).

Rob Bauer, Chair of the NATO Military Committee, assessment that “Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russia is complicated by an abundance of landmines and other obstacles in the occupied territories, and Ukrainian troops are right to proceed with caution. Counteroffensive is hard…” is an understatement. General Mark Milley, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, was clearer when he stated, “that the counteroffensive will be very hard, very long, and very, very bloody”. 

Both are – indirectly – arguing in favour of more weapon supplies to Ukraine. F-16 and Air Defence is at the very top of the list.

 

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