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Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 502: NATO countries negotiate security guarantees for Ukraine before Vilnius summit

Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 502: NATO countries negotiate security guarantees for Ukraine before Vilnius summit
Article by: Hans Petter Midttun

NATO countries negotiate security guarantees for Ukraine before the Vilnius summit. Russia claims cruise missile shot down near Kerch Bridge. Russians strike a town in Zaporizhzhia during the distribution of humanitarian aid, killing 4 people.

Source: War Mapper.

Daily overview — Summary report, July 10

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

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

 

Tonight, the Russian Federation launched another missile attack on Mykolaiv. Information regarding the consequences of this terrorist attack is currently being clarified.

Over the past 24 hours, the Russian occupiers have carried out 30 airstrikes and launched 47 MLRS. Unfortunately, there are dead and wounded civilians, and residential buildings and other civil infrastructure were destroyed.

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

The enemy is concentrating its main efforts on the Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Marinka axes, heavy battles are ongoing. During the day 30 combat clashes took place.

  • Volyn’ and Polissya axes: the operational situation has not changed significantly.
Luhansk Battle Map. July 9, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Sivershchyna and Slobozhanshchyna axes: The enemy maintains a military presence During the day, he carried out an airstrike in the Gremyacha district of the Chernihiv region. During the day, he carried out mortar and artillery attacks on more than 15 settlements, in particular, Bleshnya, Kostobobriv, Buchka of the Chernihiv region; Golyshivske, Volfyne of the Sumy region and Udy and Vovchansk in the Kharkiv region.
  • Kupiansk axis: our soldiers are firmly holding the defence. The enemy carried out airstrikes in the Kolodyazny and Kislivka districts of the Kharkiv region. Krasne Pershe, Figolivka, Dvorichne, Kup’yansk, and Kislivka of the Kharkiv region were subjected to enemy artillery and mortar attacks.
Donetsk Battle Map. July 9, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Lyman axis: during the day, the enemy conducted assaults and tried to dislodge our troops from their occupied positions in the area west of Spirnyi, Donetsk region, without success. He carried out airstrikes in the areas of Novosadovo, Ivanivka, Serebryansk forest and Spirn in the Donetsk region. More than 10 settlements, in particular, Nevske, Bilogorivka of the Luhansk region and Verkhnokamianske, Rozdolivka, Berestov, and Vesele of the Donetsk region, were hit by artillery fire.
Bakhmut Battle Map. July 9, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Bakhmut axis: under heavy fire from the enemy’s aircraft and artillery, our defenders successfully repelled enemy attacks in the area of the Dubovo-Vasylivka settlement of the Donetsk region. The enemy launched airstrikes in the areas of Oleksandro-Shultine and Severnye settlements. More than 15 settlements were affected by enemy artillery fire, including Kramatorsk, Chasiv Yar, Dilyivka, Northern and Southern Donetsk region.
  • Avdiivka axis: the Defense Forces continue to hold back the advance of Russian troops in the Avdiivka area. At the same time, the enemy fired artillery at more than 15 settlements, including Keramik, Berdychi, Avdiivka, Vodyane, and Karlivka of the Donetsk region.
  • Marinka axis: under enemy artillery fire, our defenders repelled all enemy attacks in the area of the city of Marinka. The enemy launched an airstrike near Krasnohorivka, Donetsk region. He shelled more than 15 settlements, including Krasnohorivka, Mariinka, Georgiivka, Maksimilianivka, Pobyeda, Elizavetivka, and Katerynivka in the Donetsk region.
  • Shakhtarske axis: the enemy conducted unsuccessful offensive actions in the Novomykhailivka area of the Donetsk region. He shelled more than 10 settlements, including Novomykhailivka, Vugledar, Prechistivka, Zolota Niva, Shakhtarske, and Makarivka in the Donetsk region.
Zaporizhzhia Battle Map. July 9, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Zaporizhzhia and Kherson axes: the enemy concentrated its main efforts on preventing the further advance of our troops. He carried out airstrikes in the Rivnopol and Novodanilivka districts of the Zaporizhzhia region and Kozatskyi in the Kherson region. He carried out artillery shelling of more than 20 settlements, including Novodarivka, Gulyaipole, Preobrazhenka, Orihiv, Stepnohirsk of the Zaporizhzhia region; Nikopol, Dnipropetrovsk region; Beryslav, Vesele, Antonivka, Bilozerka of the Kherson region and the city of Kherson. At the same time, the Defense Forces of Ukraine continue to conduct an offensive operation in the Melitopol and Berdiansk directions, are entrenched at the reached boundaries, inflict fire damage from artillery, and carry out counter-battery countermeasures.
Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. July 9, 2023. Source: ISW.

More than 300 people who signed a contract with the armed forces of the Russian Federation are undergoing training at one of the training grounds of the Eastern Military District of the Altai Territory. Among the recruits are former prisoners, men of low social status without personal documents, drug addicts and hepatitis patients. Most of the mentioned persons have already turned to medical institutions to try to postpone their sending to the war zones on the territory of Ukraine.

[Forced passporting of Ukrainian citizens in the Luhansk Oblast continues. So, in the city of Starobils’k, Russian occupiers issued resident cards of the Russian Federation with a validity period of 3 months to all employees of the local hospital who were without one. Citizens of Ukraine are threatened that if they do not receive Russian documents within this period, they will be deported from the temporarily occupied territory with the confiscation of their homes.]

Ukrainian Air Force conducted 1 airstrike on enemy manpower concentrations.

Ukrainian missile and artillery units hit 2x manpower, weapons and military equipment concentrations, 2 artillery units at firing positions and 2x electronic warfare stations.

 

Military Updates

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst.

Our troops are conducting aerial reconnaissance of the area, demining the area and applying artillery fire – Maliar on the offensive in the south, Censor.net reports, citing Deputy Minister of Defense Hanna Maliar. “Today, the situation on the eastern and southern fronts has not changed significantly.

East. Hot fighting continues in all directions of the enemy’s offensive – Avdiivka, Mariinka, Kupiansk, Lyman. No change in positions. The enemy is on the defensive in the Bakhmut sector. On the southern flank, there is some advance of our troops. Fighting on the northern flank is unchanged.

South. Hot fighting continues in the offensive directions of our defence forces – Melitopol and Berdiansk – in the areas of Melitopol and Berdiansk. The process of consolidation of the achieved positions continues. Our troops are conducting aerial reconnaissance of the area, demining the terrain, and applying artillery fire to the identified enemy targets, carrying out counter-battery measures, ready to continue offensive actions. The active work of the Defense Forces in the Tauride sector continues.”

Ukrainian forces entrenching themselves on achieved lines in the south – deputy defence minister, Ukrinform reports, citing Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar. “Heavy fighting continues in the Melitopol and Berdiansk sectors where Ukrainian defence forces are on the offensive. At the same time, the defence forces are entrenching themselves on the achieved lines.

The process of [Ukrainian forces] entrenching themselves on the achieved lines is ongoing. Our forces are conducting aerial reconnaissance of the area, clearing mines and inflicting damage on identified enemy targets with artillery, carrying out counter-battery measures, and remaining ready to continue offensive actions, Maliar said.”

Powerful explosion rang out in occupied Melitopol, Censor.net reports. “The mayor of Melitopol (Zaporizhzhia region) Ivan Fedorov reports that a powerful explosion was heard in the north of the occupied city. According to preliminary information, something happened in the hangar of the village of Zarichne, which was turned into an enemy base, he wrote on Telegram.

There was explosion in industrial zone in Bryansk region, Censor.net reports. “The governor of the Bryansk region of Russia, Alexander Bogomaz, said that two Ukrainian missiles had been shot down in the region, and a sawmill in the village of Bytosh was destroyed. At the same time, the Baza telegram channel published a photo and claimed that a sawmill in the Bryansk region had been attacked by a drone.”

Occupiers claim cruise missile shot down near Kerch Bridge, Ukrinform reports, citing Telegram channel Mash. “Traffic on the Crimean Bridge is temporarily stopped in both directions. According to our information, this is connected with an attempt by the Armed Forces of Ukraine to attack its part in the area of Kerch, the report says.

According to the occupation authorities of Crimea, a cruise missile was shot down by air defence forces in the area of Kerch. Russia’s Telegram channels Mash and Shot published short videos from subscribers who allegedly recorded the work of air defences.”

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

British Intelligence Map.

  • Russia is almost certainly struggling with a crisis of combat medical provision, after suffering an average of around 400 casualties a day for 17 months.
  • The influx of military casualties has likely undermined the normal provision of some Russian civilian medical services, especially in border regions near Ukraine. It is likely that many dedicated military hospitals are being reserved for officer casualties.
  • As claimed by the head of the Kalashnikov company’s combat medicine training division, it is likely that up to 50 per cent of Russian combat fatalities could have been prevented with proper first aid. Very slow casualty evacuation, combined with the inappropriate use of the crude in-service Russian combat tourniquet, is reportedly a leading cause of preventable fatalities and amputations.
  • Russian state-approved media has responded to the 24 June 2023 Wagner Group mutiny in three phases. Outlets were almost certainly initially surprised by the mutiny and were not prepared; Russian TV maintained its usual schedule.
  • After the insurrection was defused, Russian state outlets sought to ‘correct’ claims that security forces had been passive. Narratives promoted the idea that President Vladimir Putin had triumphed by thwarting the insurrection, while avoiding bloodshed, and sought to unite the country behind the president.
  • Nearly a week later, the state started to play down the significance of Wagner owner Yevgeny Prigozhin and the mutiny, while tarnishing his character. Wagner Telegram channels have largely gone silent, almost certainly due to state intervention. By contrast, Putin has undertaken unusually prominent public engagements, almost certainly aiming to project strength.

Losses of the Russian army 

As of Monday 10 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 234480 (+440)
  • Tanks – 4085 (+7)
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 7966 (+2)
  • Artillery systems – 4371 (+5)
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 668 (+0)
  • Air defence means – 414 (+1)
  • Aircraft – 315 (+0)
  • Helicopters – 309 (+0)
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 6937 (+8)
  • Vessels/boats – 18 (+0)
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 3686 (+1)
  • Special equipment – 632 (+4)
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0)
  • Cruise missiles – 1271 (+0)

Defence Forces eliminate 4,380 occupiers, destroy 26 Russian tanks in past week, Ukrinform reports, citing Ukrainian Defence First Deputy Minister Oleksandr Pavliuk. “Between July 3, 2023, and July 9, 2023, Ukraine’s Defence Forces eliminated 4,380 Russian invaders and destroyed 178 enemy artillery systems.

During that period, the Ukrainian military smashed 26 Russian tanks, 76 armoured fighting vehicles, 178 artillery systems, 31 multiple launch rocket systems, 23 anti-aircraft warfare systems, 113 motor vehicles, and 45 special equipment units. Additionally, Ukrainian forces downed one enemy helicopter, 10 missiles and 128 unmanned aerial vehicles.”

Ukraine produced more shells in June than last year – Minister of Strategic Industries, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Oleksandr Kamyshin, Minister of Strategic Industries, in an interview with Bloomberg. “Ukraine produced more mortar bombs and artillery shells in June this year than in the whole of last year. At the same time, Kamyshin refused to specify how many more shells were produced in June than in 2022. According to the minister, increasing ammunition production is still a long way to go.

I would not say that we have done such great work that we could increase ammunition production in three months. In 2022, we produced so little, he said. According to the newspaper, the supply of weapons to Ukraine from the United States and its allies has so far been the main direction in the war, but Kyiv is in a hurry to establish its production in order not to depend so much on charity. Subsequently, Kamyshin seeks to make Ukraine a significant arms exporter again.

We have to be ambitious because we have no choice. […] The publication notes that Ukrainian ammunition production is increasing its pace, although from a low base. Ukrainian anti-tank systems Stugna-P (Skif) also began to be produced faster. The next priority is to increase the production of tanks and armoured vehicles, but Kamyshin notes this may happen in 3–6 months.”

Humanitarian 

Russians strike Orikhiv during distribution of humanitarian aid, killing 4 people, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Yurii Malashko, Head of Zaporizhzhia Oblast Military Administration, on Telegram. “The Ruscists have committed a war crime in the frontline city of Orikhiv; they struck the city with a guided aerial bomb while humanitarian aid was being distributed in a residential area. Four people were killed on the spot: women aged 43, 45 and 47, and a 47-year-old man. Eleven more local residents were hospitalised with injuries of varying severity.

In total, during the day, the Russians carried out 36 targeted attacks on 10 peaceful settlements in Zaporizhzhia Oblast: five attacks from MLRS on Levadne and Novodarivka and 30 attacks on Huliaipole, Zaliznychne, Novodanylivke, Olhivske, Chervone and Malynivka. A 65-year-old man was injured in Novodanilovka. The destruction of 10 civilian facilities was recorded.”

Environmental

Russians hit Ukraine’s energy facilities 271 times, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Ukrainian Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko, on air during the national 24/7 newscast. “Half of Ukraine’s energy sector has been damaged by Russian attacks during the 500 days of the full-scale war with Russia. So far, 271 hits to energy facilities have been confirmed. […] Unfortunately, there are facilities that have been completely destroyed and cannot be restored, the minister said.

He also reminded that the energy industry was under daily Russian attacks from 10 October 2022 to 9 March 2023. Halushchenko added that the most extensive repair campaign in history is already ongoing in Ukraine, and the task is to recover as much as possible before the heating season.

The World Bank estimated the losses of the Ukrainian energy industry at US$11 billion, but the minister noted that this amount is not permanent, as attacks continue so the total damage already exceeds this figure. As of 8 July, power lines were damaged in 10 oblasts and more than 300 settlements remain without electricity supply due to bad weather.”

Enemy mining critical infrastructure in occupied part of Zaporizhzhia region, Ukrinform reports, citing the mayor of Melitopol, Ivan Fedorov. “The enemy has laid explosives at a water pipeline and critical infrastructure facilities in the temporarily occupied Melitopol district, Zaporizhzhia region. Unfortunately, the enemy controls the ZNPP and we have information that the enemy has started to mine critical infrastructure in the occupied part of the Zaporizhzhia region, he said.

Fedorov specified that the issue concerns the water pipeline located in the Melitopol district and supplies the city with drinking water. In addition, in Melitopol, explosives were planted at important electrical facilities. The enemy will constantly blackmail the entire civilized world until our military forces liberate Enerhodar and the entire south from the enemy, the mayor said.

Earlier reports said that mine explosive barriers had been placed at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in technical premises and machine rooms.”

Russian aggression has killed 494 children in Ukraine, Ukrinform reports. “As of the morning of July 9, 2023, according to the official information provided by juvenile prosecutors, 494 children were killed and more than 1,051 received injuries of various degrees of severity, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office said in a post on Telegram. It is noted that these figures are not final, as work is underway in the areas of active hostilities, in the temporarily occupied and liberated territories.

Support

US explains why its cluster munitions pose less of a threat to civilians, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing CNN with reference to a US military official. “The US military has stated that its cluster munitions have a lower percentage of unexploded submunitions that could pose a threat to civilians. It is noted that the US military has been testing cluster munitions, which the administration of US President Joe Biden plans to send to Ukraine, in order to ensure that the munitions have a “dud rate” of 2.35% or lower.

According to the official, the munitions were tested “via live fire” and not through simulated or virtual tests. He added that the cluster munitions the US plans to send, the M864 and M483A1 models, were last tested in 2020 and 2017, respectively. The official explained that the ammunition was tested in various ways. 

US President Joe Biden’s administration is trying to emphasise that the cluster munitions it will provide to Ukraine pose less of a risk to civilians than the cluster munitions currently in use by Russia.  On Friday, the United States officially announced a new US$800 million military aid package to Ukraine, which included Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions (DPICM), or cluster munitions.

Cluster munitions usually release a large number of small elements, so they are considered more dangerous to the civilian population. These munitions also have an equally high percentage of failure, making them dangerous for years after the end of a conflict.  In 2008, more than 120 countries adopted a treaty banning the production, use, and stockpiling of cluster munitions. The United States, Russia and Ukraine refused to join it.”

NATO countries feverishly negotiate security guarantees for Ukraine ahead of Vilnius summit – Politico, Censor,net reports, citing Politico. “A group of NATO nations is in the midst of feverish negotiations in the last minutes before the NATO summit to finalize a declaration on security guarantees for Ukraine. The US, UK, Germany, and France have been negotiating with Kyiv for weeks on security guarantees. Other NATO, EU, and G-7 countries are also involved. The idea is to create a kind of “umbrella” for all countries willing to provide military assistance to Ukraine, even if the details differ from country to country.

These talks are part of a broader negotiation about what ultimate security guarantees for Ukraine should look like. Most allies agree that Ukraine can join at the earliest after the war. Therefore, the major Allies are working to determine what interim security commitments they can provide to Ukraine in the meantime. The discussion is ongoing, it is quite progressing, even very progressing, and we very much hope that it can be finalized before the end of the summit, the unnamed French official said.

The initiative may ultimately boil down to pledges to continue to provide much of the assistance that allies already provide: weapons, equipment, training, funding, and intelligence. But the intention is to offer a more permanent signal of unity to Ukraine, especially since Kyiv is unlikely to get the firm promise of NATO membership it wants at the summit. It’s basically a guarantee to Ukraine that we will continue to equip its armed forces, fund them, advise them, train them for a very long time to ensure that they have a deterrent against any future aggression, said a senior NATO diplomat.”

French Foreign Minister: Objective of security guarantees for Ukraine very clear, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Catherine Colonna, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, in an interview with RFI. “Security guarantees for Ukraine that are being discussed by its Western partners include supplying Ukraine with defence equipment and strengthening its capabilities to ensure it can deter any new acts of aggression on its territory.

Colonna said that France wants the NATO summit in Vilnius to consolidate the Alliance’s long-term support for Ukraine and to concretise Ukraine’s prospects of joining NATO. […] Meanwhile, Paris is working with several partners to flesh out the security guarantees that they could offer Ukraine not instead, but in parallel with its NATO integration.

These guarantees are still being discussed, but their objective is very clear: in the short term, to provide Ukraine with means of self-defence. In the longer term, to facilitate the strengthening of its capabilities in order to deter any new aggression,” Colonna said. She added that it appears quite reasonable to offer security guarantees to a country which is protecting Europe and serving as a guarantor of its safety.

In an interview with CNN, US President Joe Biden said that he discussed with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy the possibility of giving Ukraine security guarantees modelled after the ones given to Israel before Ukraine’s accession to NATO. Zelenskyy has previously stressed that Ukraine needs security guarantees not as an alternative to its NATO membership, but as a safeguard for the period before Ukraine accedes to the Alliance.

We have to lay out path for Ukraine to be able to qualify for NATO membership – Biden, Ukrinform reports. “It is necessary to pave a rational path for Ukraine to be able to qualify to get into NATO. US President Joe Biden said this in an interview with CNN, Ukrinform reports. […] He noted that he refused Russian President Vladimir Putin’s demands before the war for a commitment not to admit Ukraine because the alliance has an open-door policy.

But I think it’s premature to say, to call for a vote (on Ukraine’s NATO membership – ed.), you know, in now, because there’s other qualifications that need to be met, including democratization and some of those issues, Biden said.

As reported by Ukrinform, the senior director of the White House National Security Council for Europe, Amanda Sloat, stated that the United States adheres to the position that Ukraine must meet all NATO standards before becoming a member, and aims to continue cooperation with the Ukrainian side so that it can implement all the necessary reforms.”

It is not that Ukraine is not ready to join NATO, it is that NATO is not ready to accept Ukraine, Censor.net reports. “Former special representative of the US State Department, Kurt Volker, criticized the position of US President Joe Biden regarding Ukraine’s membership in NATO.

The opposite is happening with the president. It’s not that Ukraine is not ready for NATO membership. It’s that NATO is not ready to accept Ukraine. And this will be reflected in the future, the post says.”

Nearly two-thirds of Poles positive about relations with Ukraine, Ukrinform reports, citing Polskie Radio, which refers to the Center for Public Opinion Research (CBOS). “The share of Polish citizens who positively assess relations with Ukraine has more than doubled since 2018.Five years ago, this figure stood at 29%, and now it has reached 64%.

The CBOS report points out that this undoubtedly is a sign of a rapprochement between the two peoples against the backdrop of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Sociologists note that immediately after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, there was also a clear increase in sympathy for Ukrainians on the part of Polish society.

Now, only 4% of Polish residents assess relations between the two countries as bad, CBOS added. Above-average positive ratings are most often observed among respondents aged 45 to 54, residents of large cities, more educated people, and respondents with a higher per capita income.”

New Developments

  1. Biden and NATO to offer support for Ukraine, not membership, ReutersIn a CNN interview previewing his trip, Biden urged caution for now on Ukraine’s drive to join NATO, saying the alliance could get drawn into the war with Russia due to NATO’s mutual defense pact. I don’t think there is unanimity in NATO about whether or not to bring Ukraine into the NATO family now, at this moment, in the middle of a war, Biden said. Zelenskyy said an invitation for Ukraine to join NATO would send a message that the Western defense alliance is not afraid of Moscow. Ukraine should get clear security guarantees while it is not in NATO, and Zelenskyy said that would be one of his goals in Vilnius, in an interview broadcast on Sunday.”
  2. Zelenskyy is still deciding whether to go to NATO summit, no clarity about main thing – Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing  Olha Stefanishyn, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integrationin an interview with European Pravda.No final decisions have yet been made (on the president’s visit – ed.). We don’t fully understand the format of all meetings in Vilnius, but we also don’t fully understand the decisions that will be physically put on the table. In other words, we are modelling the situation: Vilnius, a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council is taking place, and the president’s speech at the summit itself, on the table before the leaders are the final documents that are proposed to be admitted with the summit results. Now we don’t know what will be in these documents, she said. Stefanishyna added that the final documents will determine whether the president will attend the summit.”
  3. Putin will want negotiations when Ukrainian forces approach Crimean boundary, Ukrinform reports, citing ABC News. “Russian President Vladimir Putin will want to negotiate with Ukraine when the Ukrainian Armed Forces reach the administrative border with temporarily occupied Crimea. Asked if it is possible to force Putin into negotiations, Zelensky said this was a logical assumption. Well, it is absolutely clear, logical rhetoric that at that moment when Ukraine will reach the administrative border with a temporarily occupied Ukrainian peninsula, Crimea, it’s very likely that Putin will be forced to seek dialogue with the civilized world, unlike how it was before the full-scale invasion, because he will be weakened, Zelensky said. Zelensky earlier said in an interview with CNN that Ukraine’s ultimate goal was to liberate Crimea. “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, he said.”
  4. Medvedev threatens to strike three Ukrainian nuclear power plants and nuclear facilities in Europe, Ukrainska PravdaRussian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev has threatened to strike three Ukrainian nuclear power plants (NPPs) and nuclear facilities in Eastern Europe. […] If the attempt to attack the Smolensk NPP [in Desnogorsk, Russia] with NATO missiles is confirmed, we should consider the scenario of a simultaneous Russian strike on the Pivdennoukrainsk, Rivne and Khmelnytsky NPPs, as well as on nuclear facilities in Eastern Europe. There is no reason to hold back. An alleged attempt by the Ukrainian Armed Forces to attack the Smolensk NPP with missiles was reported on Sunday evening by the propaganda telegram channel Mash. There is no official information on the matter.”
  5. US Treasury warned China against providing assistance to Russia in war against Ukraine, net reports, citing US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen with reference to RBC-Ukraine. “The US Treasury warned China against providing assistance to Russia in the war against Ukraine or assisting in the evasion of sanctions. During meetings with Chinese officials, Yellen discussed, in particular, Russia’s war against Ukraine. I also emphasized the importance of ending Russia’s brutal and illegal war against Ukraine, she said. The US Treasury Secretary noted that the country continues to monitor the internal situation in Russia. She also emphasized that the US support for Ukraine will not change. And I reported that it is important that Chinese firms avoid providing Russia with material support or assistance in evading sanctions, she added.”
  6. “Good leader” and “right policy”: majority of Russians will support Putin in elections – sociology poll, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Levada Center, a Russian nongovernmental polling and sociological research organisation. “An opinion poll has indicated that around 70% of Russians will support dictator Vladimir Putin in the next election. Most respondents describe their attitude to Putin as “positive-neutral”. Two-thirds of respondents would like to see him re-elected in 2024. Supporters of his re-election explain this by saying that Putin is “pursuing the right policy”, “a good leader”, “acting in the interests of the people”, and that “there is no alternative to him”. The respondents believe that Putin expresses the interests of the “security forces” as well as “ordinary people”, “oligarchs”, and the “middle class”. Positive and neutral assessments of the dictator continue to prevail. […] Putin’s re-election is expected by 68% of Russians, a record number since 2012, except for May 2022 (when it was 72%).”
  7. There is a signal that there may be another rebellion in Russia – Zelensky, net reports. “There is a signal that there may be another uprising in Russia that many people will support. This was stated by President Volodymyr Zelensky in an interview with ABC News. They (Wagnerites – Ed.) decided to stop. Putin has no military power inside Russia, and his civilian population is not protected. There is a signal that there may be another uprising, a revolution in Russia. Moreover, there are many people who can support such a rebellion, Zelensky said. He added that he was confident that the Wagnerites would not attack Ukraine from the north, and claimed that Prigozhin was motivated by an attempt to improve his position in Russia.”
  8. Biden expresses support for Sweden’s NATO bid in call with Erdogan, ReutersUS President Joe Biden expressed a desire to see Sweden join NATO “as soon as possible” in a phone call with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in which they discussed Sweden’s bid to become a member of the Western alliance, the White House said on Sunday. Türkiye, along with Hungary, has been a stumbling block to Sweden’s bid, which requires unanimous approval by all NATO members. Erdogan told Biden that Stockholm has taken steps in the right direction for Ankara to ratify its bid, referring to an anti-terrorism law, but said these steps were not useful as Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) supporters continued to hold demonstrations in Sweden, the Turkish presidency’s communications directorate said separately on Sunday.”
  9. Gerasimov will no longer lead Russian army in Ukraine, net reports, citing Daily Mail.Valery Gerasimov will remain in the post of Chief of the General Staff, but operations in Ukraine will now be managed by Colonel-General Mykhailo Teplinsky, commander of the Airborne Forces. An enraged Vladimir Putin fired Gerasimov from the post of commander of the Russian forces in Ukraine. Personnel reshuffles took place immediately after the return of the “Azov” to Ukraine. The general was removed less than six months after his appointment, the newspaper writes. Z-warriors also reported on the removal of Gerasimov, saying that it was connected both to the “Wagnerians” and to a failed military strategy. [ISW first published the rumours on 28 June – ME].”
  10. Ukraine can start negotiations with EU without completely fulfilling all criteria of European Commission – official, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Stefanishyna in an interview with European Pravda. “Olha Stefanishyna, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, has acknowledged that Ukraine would not meet all the criteria of the European Commission necessary to start EU accession negotiations, but she still hopes that this will not prevent the start of negotiations. Stefanishyna expressed confidence that Ukraine will receive a favourable decision from the European Commission and then the European Council on starting accession negotiations with the EU in autumn. In general, I have such confidence based on certain negotiations held in the member states and with European institutions. But the situation may change because leaders make this decision, she said.”
  11. Trump already had 24 hours to stop war – Zelensky, net reports. “In an interview with ABC News published on Sunday, Zelensky commented on Trump’s claims that he could stop the war in 24 hours, with reference to Interfax-Ukraine. It is great to have a desire to end the war. But this desire should be based on some real experience. Well, it looks like Donald Trump has already had those 24 hours. We were in a state of war, not a full-scale war, but we were in a state of war, and I assume he had that time at his disposal, but he probably had some other priorities,” the Ukrainian president said. If we are talking about ending the war at the cost of Ukraine, that is, forcing us to give up our territories, well, I think that in this way Biden could have ended it even in five minutes, Zelensky said, adding, But we would not have agreed.”

Assessment 

https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-july-9-2023*

  1. On the war. 

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

Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks north of Svatove and south of Kreminna on July 9. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful ground attacks near Berestove (20km northeast of Svatove), Novoselivske (13km northwest of Svatove), Stelmakhivka (15km northwest of Svatove), Spirne (25km south of Kreminna), and Vesele (30km south of Kreminna). Footage posted on July 9 purportedly shows Ukrainian forces repelling a small platoon-sized Russian assault with tank and infantry fighting vehicle support near Bilohorivka. Footage posted on July 9 purportedly shows artillery elements of the Russian 1st Guards Tank Army (Western Military District) operating near Kotlyarivka (27km northwest of Svatove), units of the 120th Guards Artillery Brigade (41st Combined Arms Army, Central Military District) operating near Kreminna, and units of the 3rd Guards Spetsnaz Brigade operating in the Lyman direction. […]

Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations in the Bakhmut area on July 9. Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Commander Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi stated that Ukrainian forces have been successful and continue to advance in the Bakhmut direction. A Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces made some advances west of Andriivka (8km south of Bakhmut) but that they failed to capture a dominant height approaching Andriivka. The milblogger also claimed that Ukrainian counterattacks near Klishchiivka (7km southwest of Bakhmut) were unsuccessful. Other Russian milbloggers claimed that the situation for Ukrainian forces near Klishchiivka is improving and restated that Russian control of this settlement is vital to the broader Russian defense of Bakhmut. One milblogger complained that the Russian 72nd Motorized Rifle Brigade (3rd Army Corps) is inadequately defending in the Klishchiivka area and left holes in its defensive lines that elements of the Russian 106th Airborne (VDV) Division must fill. Elements of the 72nd Motorized Rifle Brigade previously failed to hold their positions against Ukrainian counterattacks in the Bakhmut area in May 2023, demonstrating pervasive issues with the Russian force generation effort and drawing extensive ire in the Russian information space. A Russian milblogger claimed that the Russian 98th VDV Division is defending against Ukrainian ground attacks near Berkhivka (6km northwest of Bakhmut).

Russian forces continued limited ground attacks in the Bakhmut area on July 9. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled a Russian ground attack near Dubovo-Vasylivka (6km northwest of Bakhmut). A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces conducted failed ground attacks from their positions in Berkhivka. Another milblogger claimed that Russian forces had unspecified tactical successes north of Bakhmut, however.

Russian and Ukrainian forces continued ground attacks on the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line, and Russian forces advanced as of July 9. Geolocated footage indicates that Russian forces made marginal advances southwest of Vesele (4km northeast of Avdiivka) as of July 9. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful attacks near Avdiivka, Novokalynove (11km northwest of Avdiivka), Stepove (3km northwest of Avdiivka), Pervomaiske (11km southwest of Avdiivka), Nevelske (13km southwest of Avdiivka), Marinka (immediately southwest of Donetsk City), and Novomykhaillivka (10km southwest of Donetsk City). A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces also conducted unsuccessful ground attacks southwest of Avdiivka. […]

Ukrainian forces continued to advance in the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia oblasts administrative border area on July 9. Ukrainian military officials reported that Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations and counter-battery measures in the Berdiansk direction. A Kremlin-affiliated milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces advanced towards Pryyutne (17km southwest of Velyka Novosilka) from the north and are currently about 2km away from the settlement. The milblogger claimed that Russian forces unsuccessfully counterattacked from the direction of Urozhaine (9km south of Velyka Novosilka) towards Blahodatne (5km south of Velyka Novosilka). The Ukrainian General Staff similarly reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian attacks near Blahodatne.

Ukrainian forces continued to conduct counteroffensive operations in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast on July 9. […] A Kremlin-affiliated milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces continued attacks towards Robotyne but were not successful. Another Kremlin-affiliated milblogger claimed that a Ukrainian assault group broke through Russian defenses on the seam between unspecified Russian regiments northeast of Robotyne and that fighting is ongoing for control over positions of the 7th company of the 71st Guards Motorized Rifle Regiment (42nd Motorized Rifle Division, 58th Combined Arms Army, Southern Military District [SMD]). Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces withdrew personnel from Pyatykhatky (25km southwest of Orikhiv) but noted that Ukrainian forces retain positions between Zherebyanky (27km southwest of Orikhiv) and Pyatykhatky.[66] ISW has not observed visual evidence confirming Russian claims at the time of this publication. A Russian source indicated that elements of the Russian BARS-1 (Russian Combat Army Reserve) volunteer detachment are operating as part of the 70thGuards Motorized Rifle Regiment (42nd Motorized Rifle Division, 58th Combined Arms Army, SMD) alongside drone operators from the “Tsarskiye Volky” (Tsar’s Wolves) detachment in the Zaporizhzhia direction. A Russian source also noted that elements of the Russian “Osman” Spetsnaz unit are fighting in the Zaporizhzhia direction.

Russian forces reportedly continued to reestablish positions on the east (left) bank of the Dnipro River that were previously flooded after the destruction of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant (KHPP) dam. Head of the Ukrainian Joint Coordination Press Center of the Southern Forces Captain Nataliya Humenyuk stated that Russian forces are partially successful in restoring some positions but continue to encounter mines that dispersed throughout Russian positions during the flood. Humenyuk noted that many Russian servicemen are reluctant to return to their abandoned positions due to mining but that the Russian military command forces them to do so. Russian milbloggers previously claimed that Russian forces suffered significant casualties along the coast after being caught in minefields as they attempted to suppress Ukrainian positions near the Antonivsky Bridge.

Russian sources accused Ukrainian forces of targeting the Kerch Strait Bridge on July 9. Crimean Occupation Head Sergei Aksyonov claimed that Russian air defense systems shot down a cruise missile in the Kerch area, and Crimean Occupation Ministry of Transport reportedly temporarily stopped traffic over the bridge resulting in a 3.5km to 6km traffic jam. Russian milbloggers shared footage of Russian air defense systems activating but it is unclear what weapon these systems shot down. A Kremlin-affiliated milblogger doubted Aksyonov’s claim about Russian forces shooting down a cruise missile, noting that Ukrainian aircraft would need to launch a missile from a dangerously close position near the frontline.

Ukrainian forces conducted counteroffensive operations on at least three sectors of the front on July 9. Ukrainian Ground Forces Commander Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi stated that Ukrainian forces successfully continue to advance in the Bakhmut direction. Ukrainian officials reported that Ukrainian forces continued to conduct counteroffensive operations in the Berdiansk and Melitopol directions. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and Kremlin-affiliated milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted attacks in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast. A Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces are attacking Russian positions in small groups and are targeting Russian rear positions, warehouses, and infrastructure. Ukrainian military officials also reiterated that Ukrainian forces are continuing their interdiction campaigns in southern and eastern Ukraine.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that Ukrainian forces are attempting to soften Russian defenses before liberating territory, accepting a slower pace of advance. The WSJ also reported that Ukrainian forces are focusing on dislodging Russian forces from fortifications and minefields, which are over 24km deep in some areas of Russian occupied territory. Lieutenant Colonel Oleksiy Telehin of Ukraine’s 108th Territorial Defense Brigade told the WSJ that Russian forces are continually able to bring in replacements even if Ukrainian forces destroy entire units. ISW has assessed that Russian forces lack operational reserves. Telehin’s statement likely refers to locally available tactical reserves. Another unit commander in the 108th Territorial Defense Brigade stated that the shortage of armored vehicles makes it difficult for Ukrainian forces to advance on well-prepared positions. WSJ sources also cited the lack of Ukrainian air superiority as one of the factors slowing down Ukrainian counteroffensives. ISW continues to assess that the current pace of the Ukrainian counteroffensive is reflective of a deliberate effort to conserve Ukrainian combat power and attrit Russian manpower and equipment at the cost of slower territorial advances.

US President Joe Biden stated that Ukraine cannot join NATO until Russia’s war in Ukraine is over. Biden told CNN on July 9 that it is premature to vote on Ukraine’s NATO membership and that the alliance should “lay out a rational path for Ukraine to be able to qualify to be able to get into NATO.” Biden’s statement follows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s July 7 statement that Ukraine “deserves NATO membership” and precedes the NATO summit in Vilnius on July 11 and July 12.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed Türkiye’s decision to allow the release of five Ukrainian commanders involved in the defense of the Azovstal Metallurgical Combine in Mariupol, Donetsk Oblast with his Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan on July 9. Ukraine, Russia, and Türkiye previously agreed in September 2022 that Azovstal commanders would remain in Türkiye for the duration of the war after Russia freed some Azovstal defenders in an Ankara-brokered prisoner exchange. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky brought five Azovstal commanders home to Ukraine on July 8. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) announced that Lavrov and Fidan discussed the situation regarding the release of Azovstal defenders in a phone call initiated by the Turkish side but did not provide additional details regarding the discussion. Lavrov reportedly emphasized to Fidan that further deliveries of military aid to Ukraine are “destructive” and “can lead to negative consequences,” likely in an effort to discourage further military support for Ukraine. The Turkish MFA also noted that Fidan and Lavrov discussed the United Nations-brokered grain export deal, while the Russian MFA predictably blamed the West for its “inability to take necessary steps” to implement the agreement. The grain deal expires on July 17, and it is likely that the Kremlin will threaten to not extend the deal to advance its objectives.

The Russian ultranationalist community continued to blame the Kremlin for trusting Türkiye to uphold the deal and to keep Azovstal defenders in Türkiye. Russian ultranationalists have been consistently criticizing the Kremlin’s decisions to free Azovstal defenders in other prisoner exchanges because the Kremlin had portrayed these Ukrainian fighters as “Nazis” during the Battle of Mariupol. One Russian milblogger observed that the release of Azovstal defenders undermines Russia’s aim to ”denazify” Ukraine, while another milblogger implied that Russia should not have trusted Türkiye to uphold the deal given that Türkiye is Russia’s ”historical enemy.” A Kremlin-affiliated milblogger claimed that Russia could have avoided this release by not organizing the initial prisoner of war (POW) exchange in 2022, and another Russian milblogger stated that Russia was once again misled because Russian officials irresponsibly prioritized the release of Kremlin-affiliated former Ukrainian MP Viktor Medvedchuk – who is a godfather to one of Putin’s children – from Ukrainian captivity. Another milblogger stated that the news of the Azovstal commanders’ release had upset Russian military personnel on the frontlines and urged people to reevaluate the reasons for Wagner Group’s armed rebellion – implying that the rebellion’s goals of changes within the Russian military command and information space are still needed in Russia.] The milblogger added that this incident is one of many incidents since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine that are dividing Russian society. […]

Central African Republic (CAR) Presidential Spokesperson Albert Yaloke Mokpem stated on July 8 that Wagner Group personnel leaving CAR are conducting rotations and are not withdrawing. Reuters reported that a CAR military source claimed that several hundred Wagner forces recently left CAR, and ISW observed footage published on July 6 purportedly showing 600 Wagner personnel departing from an airport in Bangui, CAR. ISW previously assessed that some Wagner personnel in CAR may be leaving after refusing to sign contracts with the Russian MoD given similar reports of Wagner personnel departing Syria. Wagner personnel may be attempting to remain in CAR to maintain control over Wagner-owned natural resource extraction operations in CAR.[36]

Unknown persons leaked an image of what appears to be the Wagner Group’s founding charter on July 9, possibly to present the Wagner Group as a professional organization. The document, dated May 1, 2014, commits Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin and Wagner Group commander Dmitry Utkin to follow a set of rules for their new private military company’s participation for combat in eastern Ukraine. Prigozhin’s duties as “director” include the responsibility to provide weapons and funding; provide guarantees for the killed and wounded; provide permanent work; protect personnel against criminal charges for mercenaryism (article 359 of Russia’s Criminal Code); resolve all issues “collegially”; participate in person; and not go against the Russian nation. Utkin’s responsibilities as “commander” were to select and train personnel; get rid of deserters; prohibit alcohol and drugs; resolve issues “collegially”; implement lessons learned and complete tasks to the end; not go against “VVP” (Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin); and not lie or deceive and always tell the truth as it is. It is unclear who leaked this document or why. Russian law enforcement, which raided Prigozhin’s home, and pro-Prigozhin actors likely had access to the document. The leak may be part of an effort to rehabilitate Wagner’s image following Prigozhin’s June 24 rebellion. The document reiterates that Wagner’s founding principles are to fight Russia’s war in Ukraine in loyal service to Russian President Vladimir Putin and “the Russian nation.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to not rapidly dispose of the Wagner Group and prosecute rebellion participants is placing himself and his subordinates in an awkward position. It remains unclear who benefits from the leak of Wagner’s alleged founding document as the document makes the Wagner Group look professional and appealing in comparison with the regular Russian military. Wagner is still reportedly recruiting within Russia while the Russian MoD is reportedly conducting a competing effort to recruit Wagner fighters to sign contracts with the MoD. Putin’s decision to not dispose of the Wagner Group – previously Russia’s most combat capable force – is making it difficult for Putin and other Russian power players to know how to interact with the Wagner Group and its leaders and fighters.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ukrainian forces conducted counteroffensive operations on at least three sectors of the front on July 9.
  • The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that Ukrainian forces are attempting to soften Russian defenses before liberating territory, accepting a slower pace of advance.
  • US President Joe Biden stated that Ukraine cannot join NATO until Russia’s war in Ukraine is over.
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed Türkiye’s decision to allow the release of five Ukrainian commanders involved in the defense of the Azovstal Metallurgical Combine in Mariupol, Donetsk Oblast with his Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan on July 9.
  • The Russian ultranationalist community continued to blame the Kremlin for trusting Türkiye to uphold the deal and to keep Azovstal defenders in Türkiye.
  • Former Russian officer and ardent nationalist Igor Girkin claimed that the Russian Federal Security Service’s (FSB) Service for the Protection of the Constitutional Order (UZKS) is deliberately censoring him.
  • Central African Republic (CAR) Presidental Spokesperson Albert Yaloke Mokpem stated on July 8 that Wagner Group personnel leaving CAR are conducting rotations and are not withdrawing.
  • Unknown persons leaked an image of what appears to be the Wagner Group’s founding charter on July 9, possibly to present the Wagner Group as a professional organization.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to not rapidly dispose of the Wagner Group and prosecute rebellion participants is placing himself and his subordinates in an awkward position.
  • Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks north of Svatove and south of Kreminna.
  • Ukrainian and Russian forces continued counteroffensive operations in the Bakhmut area.
  • Russian and Ukrainian forces continued ground attacks on the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line, and Russian forces advanced as of July 9.
  • Ukrainian forces continued to advance in the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia oblasts administrative border area, and continued counteroffensive operations in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
  • Russian forces reportedly continued to reestablish previously flooded positions on the east (left) bank of the Dnipro River in Kherson Oblast.
  • Russian sources accused Ukrainian forces of targeting the Kerch Strait Bridge.

The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) is reportedly accepting Wagner Group mercenaries for contract service with the Russian MoD in Molkino, Krasnodar Krai.

WSJ analyses why Ukraine’s counteroffensive is “such slow going”, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing BBC referring to WSJ. “The Wall Street Journal explained that the Russian military has had months to dig in and set up defences, including bunkers, which is why Ukraine’s counteroffensive is slow. The journalists have tried to answer the question that is asked every day both in Ukraine and in the West: why the counteroffensive is so slow. The authors have pointed out once again that last year, thanks to skillful manoeuvres, Ukraine managed to gain an advantage over the Russian army, despite the lack of manpower, weapons and sufficient air support.

Skillful command, good knowledge of the territory and effective use of drones and digital technology allowed the Ukrainian military to repel a much larger and initially better-equipped army, which looked clumsy and bogged down in bureaucratic delays. The outlet has written that “that’s all over” now.

Ukraine is now attempting to dislodge an entrenched enemy, one of the most daunting operations any military can undertake. Russian troops have spent months building physical defences that include bunkers, tank traps and mine fields. For Russian forces, which earlier this year tried to seize more Ukrainian territory, the offensive was unsuccessful, but it will be easier to maintain defensive positions, the WSJ writes, citing Michael O’Hanlon, a security specialist at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

According to the media, Ukrainian soldiers said that the Russian military in Zaporizhzhia Oblast built kilometres of winding, interconnected trenches, some of which are reinforced with concrete or covered with branches and soil to make them difficult to detect with drones. The fields are also heavily mined, and in at least two cases, according to Ukrainian soldiers, the bodies of dead Russian soldiers were also mined.

A Ukrainian soldier has explained to the outlet that to take these positions, the area must first be covered by artillery fire, and then the troops have to move forward with armoured vehicles to engage the infantry. However, the lack of tanks and other armoured vehicles makes this strategy difficult to implement.

Attacking the dug-in forces of the occupiers was a difficult challenge even for the most powerful armies in the world, the WSJ says. It took the Allies who landed on the Normandy coast during World War II more than two months to break through the German fortifications and move inland. In 1991, before the coalition ground forces advanced during Operation Desert Storm, the United States waged a five-week air campaign to weaken the Iraqi military’s positions, the outlet writes.”

  1. Consequences and what to do?

Ukraine to join NATO regardless of decisions of Vilnius summit – Ukrainian official, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Olha Stefanishyna, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, in an interview with European Pravda. “[She] is convinced that Ukraine will join NATO regardless of whether it is invited to join the bloc at the Vilnius summit on 11-12 July. Stefanishyna noted that Ukraine will definitely not hear “no” in Vilnius regarding its future membership in NATO. Now there is a discussion about what kind of “yes” it will be. You need to be aware of this. We will not hear “no”, “never”, “until the war ends there” – there will be no such messages,” the deputy prime minister stressed.

According to her, NATO is now discussing what could be a favourable decision on Ukraine, and”it is very important to realise this.”

Ukraine’s accession to NATO must be started now, without waiting for end of war – Former president of Lithuania, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the Associated Press. “The former president of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaitė, explained why it is necessary to start the process of Ukraine’s accession to NATO now and not wait for the end of the war unleashed by the Russian Federation. The accession process must start, because waiting for a post-war situation allows Putin to never ever finish this war, Grybauskaitė said. If we really care about the security of NATO territory, Ukraine inevitably needs to be part of it, Grybauskaitė emphasised. 

At the same time, she doubts that positive decisions for Ukraine will be made at the NATO summit in Vilnius. Now, according to Grybauskaitė , many Western leaders are still confused about the Kremlin’s true intentions and lack the political will to respond accordingly. The former president said that many Europeans still do not understand the gulf in values between Russia and the West. She rejected as an “illusion” the idea that the Russian Federation and Ukraine could find a common language through negotiations.

It’s not just the war against Ukraine, it’s the quest against our entire civilization. If Ukraine does not achieve a definitive victory on the battlefield, the West will end up in limbo. The aggressive actions against it will last for decades to come, she added.”

Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister explains what will happen if Ukraine is not invited to join NATO during Vilnius summit, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Olha Stefanishyna, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration, in an interview with European Pravda. “This will definitely require us to reconsider our strategy,” Stefanishyna said after being asked whether a disappointment with decisions made in Vilnius might affect Ukraine’s resolve to join NATO. She explained that the decision made in Vilnius will launch a number of processes either way. A failure to obtain the invitation to join NATO will shift Ukraine’s focus from membership to security guarantees.

The exact decision made in Vilnius will launch a large number of processes related to strategic planning, defence aid, defence planning, questions related to the transformation of [Ukraine’s] security and defence sector, priorities in cooperation with allies, and the content of security guarantees. If the decision concerning Ukraine’s NATO membership is not made in Vilnius or is delayed, it means that security guarantees become the priority. The focus will shift.

Stefanishyna also stressed that NATO membership was the cheapest security guarantee for Ukraine. It is a kind of outsourcing of political responsibility for everything that will happen after the war. Because there is an entire agency responsible for mutual compatibility, cooperation, training, and professional development.

Ukraine’s NATO membership is more than a security guarantee; it will also ease the political responsibility of each leader making decisions about giving aid to Ukraine during the war. These are really obvious facts for us, so we find the discussions that involve absolutely ridiculous arguments about Russia particularly frustrating. Stefanishyna said she was convinced Ukraine would join NATO whether it receives an invitation to do so during the NATO summit in Vilnius or not.”

Kyiv fears informal US-Russia talks are linked to Ukraine’s NATO membership, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing a representative of the Ukrainian authorities in a comment to NBC News. “Kyiv is concerned about reports of meetings between former US officials and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, fearing that this may indicate a weakening of US support for Ukraine.

An unnamed Ukrainian official said that Kyiv was “closely monitoring the publications and comments regarding the secret meeting”, as well as reports that similar backroom consultations between US and Russian citizens took place in other parts of the world. Given the timing of the appearance of these materials in the mass media on the eve of the Vilnius summit, the question arises whether Washington’s tough position regarding the invitation of Ukraine to NATO is somehow not connected with these backroom consultations, the statement reads.

NBC News previously reported that a group of former high-ranking US government officials held an informal meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in April of this year to lay foundations for future negotiations to end the war in Ukraine. According to media reports, the participants in the negotiations informed the administration of US President Joe Biden about their content. But the administration later stated that it had neither authorised nor supported such secret meetings.”

 

Hans Petter Midttun: Former special representative of the US State Department, Kurt Volker, nailed it when he stated that “it is not that Ukraine is not ready to join NATO, it is NATO that is not ready to accept Ukraine.”

President Biden continues to argue that a Ukrainian NATO membership would draw the alliance into the war with Russia due to collective commitment in NATO’s Article 5.

“The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.”

Biden concludes that war with Russia must end before NATO can consider membership for Ukraine, thereby giving Russia all the motivation it needs to continue the war. As long as the war continues – on land, at sea and in the air; by conventional or hybrid means; low or high intensity – Ukraine will be denied NATO membership. More crucially, as long as Ukraine remains outside the Alliance it will lack the tools it needs to defeat Russia. It will lack the Sea and Air Power required to break the maritime embargo and establish air control. The Alliance is the only party that can provide these means at the scale and scope needed to succeed.

President Biden fails to explain the subtle nuisance between the notion of “one of all, all for one” and the realities of the NATO collective defence commitment.

Allies can provide any form of assistance they deem necessary to respond to a situation. This is an individual obligation on each Ally and each Ally is responsible for determining what it deems necessary in the particular circumstances.”

A Ukrainian NATO membership does not automatically mean that the member states will provide more support than they already do. It only means that the Alliance – in contrast to today – will become committed to the Ukrainian victory. NATO’s credibility and deterrence will be at stake.

Ukraine has never asked for NATO boots on the ground. It has, however, repeatedly asked the Alliance to close the sky and ensure the Freedom of Navigation in the Black Sea (breaking the ongoing maritime embargo and weaponizing food at the cost of famine globally). It is asking for the military capabilities it lacks, including F-16 and long-range weapons. It is also asking for more of everything it has already received, like ammunition and air defence systems. But it is not asking for boots on the ground.

President Biden fails to explain why Russia – which presently risks being defeated by Ukraine – would choose to stay and fight Ukraine + NATO’s 31 member states. He fails to explain Ukraine’s present contribution to European security and stability paid by its horrendous sacrifices. He fails to explain the benefits of a Ukrainian NATO membership, including the closure of the “grey zones” triggering Russian aggressions; Ukraine’s contribution to European defence and security autonomy; and its role in containing a country that is imperialistic and aggressive by nature.

Biden also fails to explain the consequences a potential Ukrainian defeat will have for European security and stability. Make no mistake: Russia has every reason to believe that victory is within its reach. One has only to lift one’s eyes from the 1-dimensional land war to multi-dimensional hybrid war to see the merits of its thinking.

He fails to explain that several NATO members are defending themselves against future Russian aggression in Ukraine today. Eastern Europe is (at large) acting according to NATO’s late strategic concept which was committed to stop conflicts and wars threatening the security and stability of its member states. NATO is divided between those who acknowledge that the Alliance needs to defeat Russia today to avoid future military confrontations and those that desperately hope Russia will self-destruct in Ukraine. Biden is supporting the group that has argued for a reduced NATO Level of Ambitions because of a lack of sustainability and military capabilities after decades of underfinancing and cutbacks.

President Biden is, in essence, upholding the strategic messaging he presented after 24 February: If Ukraine becomes a NATO member the Alliance will be involved in a war with Russia. This entails the risk of nuclear war.

In the world of Biden, Ukrainian NATO membership has no benefits. Only risks and costs.

The narrative is intriguing as NATO is already very much involved. This was always a Russian-induced confrontation with the West. All Russian strategic threat assessments, diplomatic statements and initiatives, military and non-military actions, strategies, concepts, doctrines, disinformation, and propaganda are all about NATO. Russia has been waging a hybrid war against the US and Europe for years already. President Biden – along with most West-European Heads of States – fails to explain the broader confrontation. Consequently, NATO has failed to come up with a strategy that counters Russia’s ongoing efforts to destabilise the West from within. The political landscape in Europe is, therefore, slowly being transformed in a manner that potentially undermines NATO and EU cohesion.

Lacking the courage to offer Ukraine NATO membership at Vilnius – despite this being the only diplomatic initiative that might potentially end the war – the US, the UK, Poland, France, and Germany are unlikely to offer Ukraine security guarantees beyond what they are already providing: More slow and incremental defence support.

A Vilnius Summit declaration that does not include a Ukrainian NATO membership and the consequential security guarantees will be seen by Russia as yet another evidence of NATO being deterred by the world’s biggest nuclear power.

 

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