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Ukraine Update – June 13.
Military and security developments
- Over the last 24-48 hours, both Russian and Ukrainian sources have confirmed that Russian forces are now in control of all residential areas of Severodonetsk, with the Ukrainian defence continuing to entrench itself in the Azot industrial zone in the northwest of the city.
- To the south of the city, Russian offensive operations have had mixed results. Efforts to retake the key town of Toshkivka continue to prove unsuccessful, which will continue to limit the pressure Russian forces are able to apply to Lysychansk given that the town guards the nearby P-66 highway that leads north. The Russian operational manoeuvre group operating from the Popasna spearhead have continued assaults on the north-eastern edge of the salient, which aims to cut off the T-1302 highway that connects Bakhmut to Lysychansk. The Ukrainians have repulsed Russian efforts to retake positions south of the villages of Berestove and Nahirne over the last 24 hours. However, the Russians have achieved some progress around the village of Komyshuvakha, which sits at the eastern edge of the Popasna salient. Progress along this axis will tighten the building encirclement around the town of Zolote, which is surrounded on three sides.
- Further south still, Russian forces have also made progress around Vozdvyzhenka and Roty. These villages lie north of the town of Svitlodarsk, which Russian forces seized several weeks ago. The area guards the eastern approaches to the M-03 highway, which runs northwest via Bakhmut all the way to Slovyansk. The M-03 will likely prove a key objective for Russian forces in future secondary offensive operations, if and when the Severodonetsk-Lysychansk is cut off and Russian forces pivot towards cutting off Bakhmut and Slovyansk.
- To the north, Russian forces have seen marginal success in applying pressure on Slovyansk, with attacks southeast of Izyum taking some territory after weeks of failed assaults. The amount of ground taken appears to be very limited, however, and reflects how difficult offensive operations against Slovyansk are proving, despite the consolidation of the eastern bank of the Siverskyi Donets River to the north of Slovyansk.
- The Ukrainian General Staff has claimed that elements of the DNR’s 1st Army Corps have refused to fight north of Kharkiv, due to the unit suffering high casualties in recent fighting. While we cannot confirm this, the report remains highly credible and aligns with our overall assessment that DNR forces are currently suffering from widespread ill discipline exacerbated by poor training and treatment of conscripts. The refusal to fight in Kharkiv furthermore aligns with earlier indications that DNR forces had refused to take part in the battle for Severodonetsk, for the simple reason that the city was in Luhansk and not Donetsk oblast. This reflects the highly regional and jurisdictional issues that continue to loom large in the Donbas, which have likely impacted Russian operational planning throughout the war.
- As outlined in yesterday’s alert, the firing of the DNR government earlier this week could well be linked to such reports. The head of the separatist region, Denis Pushilin, has faced mounting criticism from pro-war hardliners amid reports of riots opposing forced conscription. As such, a government shake-up is a probable attempt to demonstrate that the administration is trying to get a handle over the issues. Nevertheless, if the Ukrainian General Staff’s reports are true, this will impact Russia’s ability to stage offensive operations in areas where DNR forces are concentrated, and will only reinforce Russia’s enduring issues around force regeneration and low morale.
- On 9 June, investigative outlets revealed that according to official government data, the Kremlin has received almost 42,000 complaints and inquiries in April alone from the family members of soldiers missing in Ukraine. Although it is not possible to independently verify these figures, it is likely that the number is greater than what has been officially reported. As noted in our reporting this week, there are increasing indications that the Kremlin is concealing information regarding the true casualty figures and has not shared any official numbers since 25 March. Meanwhile, there are also growing media reports that Ukrainian volunteer groups, dubbed the “IT Army”, are circulating photos of killed Russian soldiers online with the intention of revealing the fate of missing soldiers to their Russian families. Furthermore, the Ukrainian government has also created a hotline called “Come Back Alive from Ukraine”, which is intended for Russian people to call to find information about their loved ones. Although unlikely in a short-term to trigger serious domestic unrest, the growing discontent and concern regarding the true death toll as well as treatment of troops at the frontline will only increase the longer the war continues, requiring the regime to tighten its control over the population still further.
- Russia-backed officials in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) have officially sentenced two British and one Moroccan men to death, convicting them of “mercenary activities”. While the DNR Supreme Court provided the sentence, and not that of Russia, the development is likely in part an attempt to discourage foreign nationals from volunteering to fight in Ukraine. Russia took pains to present captured Ukrainian soldiers of the Azov Regiment as being treated relatively well after the fall of Mariupol, including receiving medical attention. This will sit in sharp contrast to treatment of perceived “foreign mercenaries” if the executions go ahead, which would clearly signal to foreign volunteers that fair treatment is far from guaranteed if captured.
- The DNR’s decision will undoubtedly anger the UK, which has been one of Ukraine’s strongest supporters. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss immediately condemned the decision as a “sham judgement”. However, both London and Kyiv have very few options to respond short of a prisoner exchange. As such, the individuals could yet be held as bargaining chips for future exchanges, as it remains unclear when or if an execution is actually planned following the sentencing. However, if these men are ultimately exchanged for Russian soldiers, this may trigger backlash among Russian hardliners in the DNR given their seeming widespread support for the soldiers’ executions on social media. As a result, it remains a realistic possibility that the timing of the executions is designed to assuage hardliner criticism and distract from the mounting internal divisions within the DNR, as assessed above.
- Ukrainian officials reported yesterday that the country’s next year’s harvest could be cut by as much as 40 percent because of Russia’s war in Ukraine, further underlining the trend of rising food prices and shortages. This threat is further reinforced by the failure to reach any agreement with Russia or Turkey to establish a food corridor and unblock the Black Sea ports. It remains our assessment that an agreement between Russia and Ukraine on the issue is unlikely in the short term, with both sides continuing to blame each other for the mounting food crisis.
The deputy head of Ukraine’s Chief Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defence (GUR) Vadym Skibitsky has today, 10 June, laid bear the extent of Ukraine’s diminishing stocks of ammunition. He stated that Ukraine is now almost entirely reliant upon Western arms shipments. Unnamed US military sources supported this assessment on 9 June when they stated that Ukraine has depleted its stocks of Soviet and Russian-standard weaponry, and is thus now completely reliant upon international weapons shipments to sustain combat operations. Skibitsky emphasised that the conflict is now an “artillery war”, with Ukraine expending between 5,000 to 6,000 artillery shells every day. He confirmed that Ukrainian forces have used up all the ammunition for their own Soviet and domestic artillery systems, and are now using primarily 155-calibre NATO shells. The latest USD 700 million US military package announced on 1 June includes some 15,000 howitzer shells, but given Ukraine’s daily rate of expenditure of ammunition, such stocks are unlikely to provide Ukraine with a strategic reserve of ammunition, with diminishing stocks likely to limit Ukraine’s ability to conduct counteroffensive operations in particular. For every Ukrainian artillery piece, Russia is now estimated to have between 10 to 15. However, in contrast to Ukraine, Russia retains a much more extensive military-industrial complex that will be able to replenish stocks of conventional artillery ammunition at a much greater rate than Ukraine, despite international sanctions and supply chain disruption. This stands in contrast to Ukraine, where domestic manufacturing capacity is clearly insufficient to sustain the intensity of defensive operations during a protracted attritional conflict. The ongoing battle for Severodonetsk illustrates how Russian forces are relying upon artillery superiority to drive offensive operations, and Skibitsky’s warnings indicate that the attritional nature of current fighting in the Donbas could severely strain Ukraine’s ability to continue fighting without indefinite Western support. Consequently, Ukraine’s war effort will become increasingly beholden to Western domestic political opinion and the socio-economic conditions that ultimately define it. With economic indicators such as inflation, rising food and record energy prices raising the prospect of a global recession at the end of 2022 or beginning of 2023, macro-economic trends are highly likely to prove major factors in testing commitment to supporting Ukraine over the longer term. Numerous Western governments, including Germany, are already airing concerns over the long-term costs of supplying Ukraine, particularly given these poor economic projections. As such, growing calls from national populations for their governments to ease the cost of living crisis may ultimately prove politically incompatible with sending billions of dollars of military aid to Ukraine for an indefinite period – a dynamic which is likely to be Russia’s goal in grinding through the Donbas over the coming weeks and months.
- Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky stated on 8 June that the battle for Severodonetsk will determine the fate of the entire Donbas region, stating that the current fighting there is amongst the most brutal and heavy of the entire war. Russian forces have been steadily pushing Ukrainian forces back, with LNR officials claiming that Russia is now in control of the city’s airport in the southeast, though this has not yet been confirmed. Regional leaders yesterday, 8 June, confirmed that Ukrainian forces have now been forced back to the outskirts of the city, and that it is now impossible to evacuate civilians trapped behind Russian lines as the main Ukrainian defence appears to remain concentrated around the Azot industrial area in the northwest of the city. The particular focus the Zelensky administration has placed on the battle for the city likely reflects Kyiv’s intentions to hold on for as long as possible, in order to inflict maximum casualties on the attacking Russian forces, but it remains to be seen for how long Ukrainian forces can withstand the assault amid heavy Russian artillery bombardment.
- Around Popasna, Ukrainian forces are continuing to repel assaults by the Russian operational manoeuvre group, with the Ukrainian General Staff reporting that the key T-1302 highway running between Bakmut and Lysychansk remains under their control. The Russians are still struggling to make any momentum along this critical axis, which will ultimately determine when Russian forces can close the cauldron around the Severodonetsk salient, short of a river crossing further to the north. While it cannot be confirmed at this stage, the Ukrainians appear to be pushing the Russians back in places. Reports emerged overnight that the Russians have been pushed back from the village of Berestove, at the north of the spearhead. This follows Ukrainian claims earlier this week that the Russians had also retreated from the neighbouring village of Nahirne. If true, the withdrawals from these settlements would put the Russian frontline further from their objective of cutting off the T-1302 highway.
- Russian efforts to improve their positioning around Slovyansk have furthermore continued, though with little notable progress over the last 24 hours. The Ukrainian General Staff confirmed that Russian forces had conducted renewed but ultimately unsuccessful assaults on Raihorodok – a key settlement connecting Lyman with Slovyansk that spans the Siverskyi Donets River. Similarly, Russian forces have continued offensive operations along the M-03 highway southeast of Izyum, but again have failed to make any progress. Efforts to consolidate Russian control over the eastern bank of the Siverskyi Donets will likely facilitate a more concerted offensive along this axis in the coming days and weeks, particularly if Russian forces can cross the river south of Sviatohirsk and repair the bridge reportedly damaged by Ukrainian forces this week.
- Russian forces conducted a long-range strike against Zolotymyr oblast overnight, which the Russian Ministry of Defence claims destroyed a training centre allegedly used to train foreign mercenaries. The strike is the latest to hit Northern Ukraine following the attack on Kyiv on 5 June. Further attacks across the region will continue for the foreseeable future as the Kremlin continues to degrade Ukrainian capabilities and signal opposition to Western weapons shipments. Despite these threats, however, Western shipments are set to continue, with the US confirming it has sent a new batch of M777 howitzers and Poland confirming this week that it had reached a deal to supply 155mm Krab self-propelled howitzers. Both deals, together with the recent supplying of British M270s and US MLRS systems, underscore the emphasis at present in augmenting Ukrainian artillery and counter-battery capabilities, which the current bombardments of Severodonetsk and the surrounding area illustrate as a priority for Ukrainian defensive operations.
- The Russian Ministry of Defence today, 9 June, confirmed that the Baltic Fleet are currently conducting naval exercises out of Kaliningrad, involving some 60 surface vessels and over 40 aircraft and helicopters. The exercises notably coincide with the ongoing NATO-led Baltic Operations (BALTOPS 22) exercises, which in turn involve over 45 ships from 14 NATO member states as well as Sweden and Finland. BALTOPS marks one of the clearest illustrations of the growing integration of Sweden and Finland into NATO operations since their formal application to join the alliance. In particular, the arrival of the USS Kearsarge, a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship, in Stockholm last week is a clear illustration of increasing NATO engagement in the Baltic and the first time such a large vessel has visited the port. Given the proximity of these coinciding naval exercises, tensions will remain high, particularly after two Russian corvettes were spotted off the coast of Stockholm shadowing the ongoing BALTOPS exercises. Incursions into Swedish waters or buzzing of warships remain possible, but both sides will likely remain extremely cautious not to provoke one another and so the exercises are likely to progress without major incident.
- The Kremlin announced yesterday that President Putin’s annual telephone marathon will not be held this month for the first time in 18 years. The cancellation marks the first time that the event, which gives citizens an opportunity to speak directly to the president, was postponed since 2004. Although the reason for the postponement is unclear, it coincides with growing reports and indications of a concerted effort by the Kremlin to stem growing dissent and criticism of the war effort in Russia. This is particularly the case regarding the rate of casualties and the reportedly poor training and treatment of conscripts, with the latest banning by a Russian court of the publication of any casualty figures by Russian media outlets likely to be reflective of the growing paranoia inside the Kremlin.
- A criminal case has reportedly been opened against Ukraine’s ruling Servant of the People party’s deputy Oleksiy Kovalyov, who has been accused of treason and expelled from parliament. Reports indicate that Kovalyov has been cooperating with the Russian forces in the occupied Kherson oblast. Moreover, according to his social media posts Kovalyov wrote that “full integration of Kherson farmers into Russia’s economic model is planned”, and that in Kherson region “Russia is here seriously and forever”, with reports indicating that he is supportive of the occupation. The development almost certainly represents an isolated case as opposed to an indication of a broader defection from Zelensky’s government, which remains united against Russia and determined to continue fighting to reclaim the occupied Ukrainian territories.
- On 8 June the head of the People’s Republic of Donetsk (DNR), Denis Pushilin, fired the prime minister of the region Alexander Ananchenko, replacing him with one Vitaly Khotsenko. Details around the dismissal are extremely limited at present, but the shake-up may reflect internal divisions amid accusations of incompetence and negligence being aired by various DNR-affiliated hardliners. As previously assessed, there have been numerous indications of rioting and resistance to forced conscription in the DNR, and the adviser to the Mayor of Mariupol Petro Andryshchenko has continued to claim that the DNR authorities are still unable to provide basic food security, as well as access to fresh water and medical services for the occupied city. Such dynamics, together with endemic corruption and factional competition, may have led to Ananchenko’s dismissal. Nevertheless, it is notable that Prime Minister Khotsenko’s first statement since his appointment came on national Russian television, where he claimed that the integration of the DNR and Russia is “already underway”. He stated that one of his key tasks as prime minister was the unification of the legislation of the DNR with that of Russia’s, underlining Moscow’s clear intention to annex the region.
Yesterday, 8 June, a high-level meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, in Ankara ended with no real progress, despite Turkish efforts to facilitate the restarting of Ukrainian grain exports. While Moscow has indicated willingness to resuming exports from Ukrainian ports, they continue to blame Kyiv for the blockade of their own Black Sea coast, with Lavrov demanding that Ukraine demine the approaches to various key ports, including Odesa, before any progress can be made. The Ukrainians have in turn rebuffed the current proposals, claiming that Russia has stipulated various unreasonable conditions, such as compulsory searches of Ukrainian vessels at sea. President Zelensky has today, 9 June, warned that ms of people could starve as a result of the Russian blockade. Both the UN and Turkey are set to continue efforts to facilitate an agreement, including an offer for Turkish warships to escort Ukrainian vessels. However, the statements that have followed yesterday’s Ankara meeting underline just how far both Kyiv and Moscow are from a mutually acceptable arrangement. As a result, global food insecurity will continue to increase ahead of the Autumn harvest as ms of tonnes of Ukrainian grain remain unable to reach the markets that need them.
- At a meeting of the National Defence Management Centre (NDCC) in Moscow yesterday, 7 June, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed that Russian forces have captured 97 percent of Luhansk oblast, as the battle for Severodonetsk continues. The current frontline inside the city remains dynamic and unclear at present, but both Russian and Ukrainian sources indicate that Russian forces are making steady progress. In line with earlier assessments, the head of the Luhansk Regional Administration Serhiy Haidai has stated today, 8 June, that Ukrainian forces may be forced to pull back to stronger defensive positions within the city, though he maintained that this will not mean an abandonment of the city. Haidai placed particular emphasis on the intensity of Russian bombardment of the city, with satellite imagery published by Maxar Technologies from 6 June showing Russian MLRS and towed artillery systems arrayed towards Severodonetsk. Russian offensive operations have throughout this conflict relied heavily upon artillery to clear Ukrainian positions, and as during the battle for Mariupol, it is thus likely that Russia is utilising intense artillery bombardments to clear the city section by section.
- Around Popasna, the Russian operational manoeuvre group continues to attack to the northeast, clearly aiming at supporting Russian operations around Severodonetsk by cutting off the T-1302 highway running to Lysychansk – allegedly Russian commander Dvornikov’s principal objective alongside the taking of Severodonetsk. However, the force continues to make little progress, with the Ukrainian General Staff this morning stating that the Russians have withdrawn at one point near the village of Nahirne, which lies on a key junction between the railway line and the T-1302. The General Staff have also stated, however, that an unspecified number of Russian units have been deployed in the area, which would likely aim at strengthening the Russian line to try and regain momentum in their push towards Lysychansk. Further east, Russian attacks against the key village of Toshkivka continue to see little progress. The village, taken by Ukrainian forces last week, will need to be retaken by Russian forces if they hope to apply pressure on Lysychansk from the south – as without which, the only means of attacking the city will be from Severodonetsk, across the Siverskyi Donets River.
- Around Lyman, Russian forces have continued consolidating their control over the eastern bank of the Siverskyi Donets, with Shoigu now claiming that Russia is in control of Sviatohirsk, Studenok, Yarova and Drobysheve to the northwest of Lyman. In addition, the Ukrainian General Staff have confirmed that Russian forces have renewed assaults on the Raihorodok, a key settlement connecting Lyman to Slovyansk. As anticipated, OSINT sources indicate that both the rail and road bridges crossing the Siverskyi Donets in the town have now been destroyed, clearly aimed at slowing the Russian advance towards Slovyansk.
- Along the Donetsk frontline, Russian forces have continued to intensify bombardments of various settlements, including around the critical point of Avdiivka. The frontline on this axis has moved very little beyond the pre-24 February line of contact, given the entrenched defences of Ukrainian forces built up since 2015 present an extremely difficult line to break. As such, Russian gains on this axis are more often measured in metres rather than kilometres, such is the attritional nature of the fighting here. Nevertheless, Russian forces have made some incremental gains north of Avdiivka in recent days, where they have reportedly reached the villages of Krasnohorivka and Kamyanka. While it does not appear that they have taken the settlements, their capture would mark a notable development given they sit on the H-20 highway, which runs north towards Kramatorsk.
- Along the southern axes, head of the Zaporizhia Oblast Military Administration Oleksandr Starukh has claimed that Russian forces have been relocating from Melitopol and Vasylivka towards Kherson city. Russian forces have been concentrating forces in these areas in recent weeks, including numerous old T-62 tanks. While Starukh suggested the Russians could be conducting a force rotation, they could equally be redistributing forces to reinforce the Kherson-Mykolaiv front following limited Ukrainian counterattacks along the line over the past two weeks. Much of the area remains contested and there are conflicting reports as to the current frontline. The Ukrainian General Staff on 7 June confirmed Russian assaults to regain lost territory around Lozove and Bila Krynytsia, but claimed they had made no ground. However, numerous Russian sources have now claimed they have regained control of the key settlement of Davydiv Brid, and thus pushed the Ukrainians back across the Inhulets River. This cannot be confirmed at this stage, but if Russian forces have retaken Davydiv Brid, they will have strengthened their ground lines of communication along the Mykolaiv-Kherson frontline.
- There are growing indications of a concerted effort by the Kremlin to stem growing dissent and criticism of the war effort at home, particularly the rate of casualties and the reportedly poor training and treatment of conscripts. A Russian court has this week banned the publication of any casualty figures by Russian media outlets, which is now considered a crime tantamount to revealing military secrets. The official death toll has not been updated by the Kremlin since 25 March, which then stood at 1,351.
- In addition, the Ukrainian Chief Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defence (GUR) claimed on 7 June that the Kremlin has employed lawyers and psychologists to persuade the families of sailors killed during the sinking of the Moskva not to disclose information about their deaths, allegedly threatening to withhold compensation and pensions if they do so. Defence Minister Shoigu also placed special emphasis on efforts to improve the treatment of conscripts during his speech at the NDCC yesterday. Conscripts are officially not being deployed in Ukraine, but the Ministry of Defence has acknowledged numerous cases of such deployments, allegedly by mistake. Nevertheless, Shoigu stated that the training regime of newly conscripted soldiers will learn the lessons of the war in Ukraine, including providing widespread battlefield first aid – a common criticism that Russian troops do not have sufficient first aid training.
- Similarly, there are further indications of continued resistance to forced conscription in the LNR and DNR. Ukrainian sources have now claimed that separatist authorities are offering compensation for wounded personnel and pensions to their families if killed, in a possible response to rioting of DNR conscripts near the frontline. Confirmation of such ill discipline is naturally hard to ascertain, but the DNR’s head Denis Pushilin himself stated last month that DNR auxiliaries were being relocated from Mariupol to respond to “riots” caused by an “internal struggle of political clans”. Other former DNR commanders, including Alexandr Khodakovsky and Igor Strelkov (Girkin), have been particularly critical of the treatment of Donbas conscripts, with the former alleging that his appeals to the DNR command to rotate demoralised conscripts to auxiliary tasks had been ignored. Such reports underline the relative ill discipline of DNR proxy forces and the resentment this is generating amongst its ranks. Though, by contrast, the LNR forces appear to be more professional despite the forced conscription, and thus are likely viewed as a more reliable force for Russian commanders.
- Amid increasing international attention on the issue of grain exports, Russian Defence Minister Shoigu announced on 7 June that the Russian-controlled ports of Berdyansk and Mariupol are now ready to resume grain exports, but that Ukraine still needed to demine the approaches to the ports for exports to take place. Russia thus continues to blame the Ukrainians for the blockade. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is in Ankara today, to discuss potential options for reopening grain exports. However, it remains to be seen whether Turkey can facilitate an agreement, particularly as the White House confirmed on 7 June that it is working on supplying Kyiv with anti-ship missiles that could yet threaten the Black Sea Fleet.
- Preparations to hold a referendum on joining Russian are reportedly underway in Melitopol, the key city in Zaporizhzhia oblast which borders Kherson oblast. Self-proclaimed authorities of the occupied city announced that they are beginning their preparations for the referendum following a visit from high-ranking Russian officials. Although it is unclear how quickly such a potential referendum might take place – given the previously announced deadlines of such referendums in other occupied cities – Russia-backed officials in the occupied Crimea have previously stated that the annexation of the Donbas, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia could be done within a year. The statements reaffirm our assessment that Russia will almost certainly not cede any territory that it has captured since the start of the invasion, with annexation the most likely objective.
On 7 June, Ukrainian President Zelensky stated in a Financial Times article that Ukraine will continue fighting to “achieve a full de-occupation of our entire territory”, and that a stalemate was “not an option”. This is the latest indication of Kyiv’s hardening position and unwillingness to countenance any concession of territory to Moscow, a stance mirrored by the Kremlin in recent weeks, which preparations for a referendum in Melitipol only underline. During a press conference in Ankara today, 8 June, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that for a meeting to take place between President Zelensky and Vladimir Putin, the formal negotiating process between the Ukrainian and Russian delegations would have to resume. Talks between the two sides broke down almost two months ago, and this week Zelensky has described them as at “level zero”. Given Kyiv’s hardening negotiating position, together with Moscow’s clear intention to control territory despite its continued failure to achieve rapid gains in the Donbas, it remains highly uncertain whether negotiations will resume in the short term. Even if they do, however, it remains our assessment that we are still far from a negotiated peace settlement, with the ongoing battle for Severodonetsk testament to both side’s willingness to continue fighting a war of attrition for the foreseeable future.
- The focus of Russian operations in the Donbas continues to be the capture of Severodonetsk, with heavy fighting in the city centre and conflicting reports confusing the picture on the ground. Some Ukrainian journalists have questioned previous reports by the Ukrainian Luhansk regional commander Serhiy Haidai that Ukrainian forces had conducted a successful counterattack in the city on 5 June, leading to a confused information space at present. What is clear, however, is that the Russians remain in control of a significant portion of the city, with Ukrainian defensive operations seemingly focused around the Azot industrial plant and the surrounding neighbourhoods in the northwest of the city. As was the case during the battle for Mariupol, the nature of urban street-to-street fighting will mean conflicting reports will continue to confuse the situation on the ground.
- On 6 June President Volodymyr Zelensky underscored the difficult decisions facing Ukrainian commanders as to whether to continue defending Severodonetsk or withdraw to more defensible terrain in neighbouring Lysychansk. Zelensky stated that Ukrainian forces continue to hold in the city, but that depending on future developments a decision will made on “further action”, in an allusion to a likely withdrawal across the Siverskyi Donets River. However, he did say that such a withdrawal would make any attempt to retake the city “very expensive”, claiming that Ukrainian forces would need “five times more equipment and people to attack”. Aside from the obvious aim of shoring up local morale by underscoring the importance of defending the area, this illustrates that Ukrainian commanders are continuing to factor in the prospect of future counteroffensives into their current defensive operations. This in turn tells us a lot about Kyiv’s current operational and strategic thinking, namely their readiness to engage in attritional warfare to wear the Russians down to later facilitate a shift to the strategic counteroffensive.
- In this respect, the limited Ukrainian counteroffensives both along the Mykolaiv-Kherson and North Kharkiv axes have slowed in recent days, with little movement on either side. Russian forces have continued largely unsuccessful combat operations north of Kherson in a bid to push Ukrainian forces back after the Ukrainian General Staff confirmed on 5 June that they had taken the village of Sukhyi Stavok – a settlement due south of the strategic Davydiv Brid crossing across the Inhulets River. Similarly, north of Kharkiv, Russian forces have been forced onto the defensive. According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence, elements of the Russian 6th Combined Arms Army (CAA), Baltic Fleet and the 1st Army Corps of the DNR are currently conducting the bulk of these defensive operations in the area. Reports of Russian forces remotely planting mines around the village of Rubizhne underline ongoing efforts to slow the Ukrainian advances along this axis in order to protect the key ground lines of communication to the east across the Siverskyi Donets River.
- Russian forces are also continuing to consolidate their control over the eastern bank of the Siverskyi Donets River around Lyman. Russian sources have reported that their forces are now “clearing” the settlement of Sviatohirsk, to the northwest of Lyman. The Russian Ministry of Defence has subsequently reported that Ukrainian forces blew up the bridge south of the town, with other non-official Russian sources maintaining that Ukrainian forces have subsequently withdrawn across the river. This has yet to be confirmed, but once Russian forces take Sviatohirsk, they will have gained control of all significant settlements on the eastern bank of the river along this axis. This will allow for a consolidation of Russian control along the river and facilitate renewed pressure on Slovyansk. In this respect, the Ukrainian General Staff have today, 7 June, reported that the Russians are attempting renewed offensive action against the villages of Dovhenke and Dolyna, which sit along the key M-03 highway running between Izyum and Slovyansk. While Ukrainian forces have succeeded in repelling most Russian attacks in this direction over the past few weeks, a consolidated eastern bank will allow Russian forces to concentrate their forces at key road and bridge crossing points, with the aim of advancing towards Slovyansk.
- The Ukrainian South Operational Command confirmed that the Nika-Tera grain terminal in Mykolaiv, the second largest grain terminal in Ukraine, has been heavily damaged following a Russian strike on 4 June. The terminal has a grain capacity of some 515,000 metric tonnes and handled 3.9 m million tones of grain in the year 2020-2021. The EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell commented on 6 June that the strike will contribute to the global food crisis, which continues to mount as around 22-25 m tonnes of Ukrainian grain remains stuck in Ukrainian silos unable to reach world markets.
- In this vein, Turkey continues to facilitate bilateral discussions with both Moscow and Kyiv with the aim of brokering an agreement to restart grain exports in the Black Sea. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is due in Ankara tomorrow, 8 June, for talks on Turkish proposals to unblock Ukrainian ports. President Zelensky on 6 June underlined that no Ukrainian official had been invited to the talks, though the meeting is likely only an initial step by Turkey to gauge willingness on both sides to work towards some sort of agreement. Trilateral meetings are likely in the coming weeks, though given OSINT sources indicate that Russia is covertly exporting Ukrainian grain in Russian merchant ships, a deal on reopening Ukrainian ports is far from certain – particularly given President Zelensky yesterday described the current state of peace talks as at “level zero”.
- Notably, the Ukrainian Navy yesterday, 6 June, claimed it had succeeded in pushing a Black Sea Fleet surface grouping some 100km from the Ukrainian coast, while also stating that the Russian fleet is relying more heavily upon land-based coastal defence systems in Crimea, Kherson and Snake Island to defend their warships. Such claims would indicate Ukrainian anti-ship and coastal defence capabilities are having an increasing deterrent effect. This will likely continue to ease the Russian blockade as Ukraine is now receiving advanced Harpoon anti-ship missiles from Denmark, with the Russian admiralty keen to avoid a repeat of the embarrassing sinking of the Moskva. Nevertheless, even as Russian warships operate further from the Ukrainian coast, Russia still has effective control over the northern Black Sea, and its anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) strategy will continue to block grain exports without some sort of agreement.
- As such, the unstable military situation in the Black Sea will continue to destabilise wider economic activities, impacting markets far afield that had nevertheless been reliant upon Black Sea port infrastructure. BP has this week confirmed that it will shut down operations at the Baku-Tbilisi-Supsa oil pipeline, which runs from the Sangachal Terminal near Baku, Azerbaijan, to Georgia’s Supsa terminal. The move follows repeated pipeline closures since 15 March due to sustained concerns over the safety of oil tankers in the Black Sea, which reports of extensive naval mining has only reinforced. While oil will be rerouted through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline terminating on the Turkish Mediterranean coast, the closure of the BTS pipeline reinforces that mining and ongoing naval operations will continue to delay the resumption of normal economic activity in the Black Sea for the foreseeable future.
Yesterday, 6 June, the Ukrainian General Staff reported that various unspecified Russian units have been deployed along the southern Belarusian border. While the quantity of troops and equipment arrayed there remains unclear, the General Staff maintain that units of Iskandr-M ballistic missile systems, advanced anti-aircraft Pantsir and S-400 systems, together with “tactical and operational aircraft” have been deployed. The reports came as the General Staff claimed that Belarus plans to increase the size of its army from 45,000 to 80,000 troops, amid ongoing military drills along its southern border. The Russian deployment of highly advanced air defence systems and aircraft to southern Belarus is highly significant, but does not alter our assessment that a ground invasion from Belarus remains unlikely at present. Rather, the deployments more likely reflect two other key factors.
First, President Vladimir Putin’s threats to continue long-range strikes against Ukrainian targets, largely in response to Western arms shipments, and MLRS and M270 rocket systems in particular. Second, diminishing stocks of long-range precision weapons, including cruise and hypersonic missiles. The Ukrainian Chief Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defence (GUR) on 25 May claimed that Russia had used 60 percent of its high-precision weapon stocks during the war, and as a result is becoming increasingly reliant upon aircraft and ‘dumb bombs’ to strike key targets. Indeed, the Ukrainian Navy only yesterday claimed that the Russian Navy has in recent weeks been striking ground targets with anti-ship missiles, reinforcing this assessment given the expenditure of advanced Kalibr sea-to-ground cruise missiles in recent weeks.
Diminishing stocks of precision long-range weapons, including the sea-launched Kalibr and air-launched Kh-55 family of missiles, are thus increasing Russia’s reliance upon VKS aircraft to strike targets, which largely use conventional munitions. This would account for the deployment of advanced air defence systems in southern Belarus, likely aimed at creating an air-defence umbrella to protect attack and bomber aircraft during raids against Northern and Western Ukraine. It is thus our assessment that Russian forces are likely preparing to utilise aircraft sorties to a greater extent over Northern and Western Ukraine than earlier in the war.
Ukrainian air defences remain strongest in this part of the country, meaning the Kremlin are potentially prepared to risk their aircraft in order to maintain the capability to strike targets across the full breadth of the country. This is likely driven by political as much as military considerations, as Putin doubles down on his threats to escalate punitive strikes in response to Western arms shipments. Nevertheless, given the nature of the so-called ‘dumb munitions’ deployed by conventional aircraft, growing reliance on closer-range aircraft would ultimately reduce the precision of Russian strikes and thus increase the risk of collateral damage and civilian casualties. Railway infrastructure and military depots across Northern and Western Ukraine will nevertheless continue to be the highest priority targets for long-range and air strikes. However, the 5 June strike against Kyiv illustrates increasing Russian willingness to strike key cities beyond the immediate Donbas frontline. The deployment in southern Belarus is likely aimed at facilitating such strike capability over the longer term, underlining that after 100 days of war and despite the withdrawal of Russian forces from Kyiv oblast, Kyiv and Western Ukraine are set to remain highly vulnerable to Russian attacks for the foreseeable future.
- Since our last Ukraine update, the military situation on the ground in eastern and southern Ukraine has not shifted significantly. However, Ukrainian forces have launched numerous successful counteroffensives in recent days which are stemming the momentum of the Russian offensive.
- In particular, Ukrainian forces have launched a successful counteroffensive in the city of Severodonetsk in recent days. The head of the Luhansk Regional State Administration Serhiy Haidai stated on 5 June that Kyiv had recaptured 70% of the city in the previous two days – a major reversal considering last week Russian forces had been in control of 70% of the city themselves. However, in his morning briefing today, 6 June, Haidai reported that the situation in the city has “deteriorated somewhat”. He stated that the situation remains highly dynamic as Ukrainian forces focus on holding positions in the industrial zone of the city, which would suggest that the Russians have managed to push the Ukrainian forces back in the northwest of the city at least.
- While Russian counter attacks seemingly make progress this morning, the fact that the Ukrainians managed to launch a successful counteroffensive at all is highly significant, reflecting not only Ukrainian counteroffensive capability but also enduring Russian deficiencies – particularly of Chechen units which were seemingly unprepared for a counterattack. Severodonetsk has remained the key operational focus for Russian forces in Ukraine in recent weeks, where Russian commanders have committed a significant concentration of resources and units. As a result, the Ukrainian counteroffensive over the weekend suggests that Russian combat power currently arrayed on this axis may be insufficient to take the city without further reinforcements – reinforcements that are likely to be made up of degraded units with poorer and poorer quality equipment.
- According to a Ukrainian official, the commander of Russian forces in the Donbas Aleksandr Dvornikov has now been tasked with “completely capturing Severodonetsk, or completely cutting off the Lysychansk-Bakhmut highway and taking it under control” by 10 June. While Haidai’s morning report today, 6 June, indicates that the Russians may be seeing some success at pushing the Ukrainians back, it is clear that the Ukrainians retain the capability and will to continue defending the city, despite its disadvantageous defensive position in contrast to its sister city Lysychansk across the river. This will present ever more challenges for Russian forces to maintain momentum, with Ukrainian political and military leaders expressing confidence in recent days that their forces can continue holding out in the city for the next two weeks – a notable shift in tone given that last week it appeared likely that Kyiv would withdraw to Lysychansk. Given the relatively slow Russian progress and clear setbacks, it thus remains to be seen whether Dvornikov’s forces will succeed in meeting a 10 June timeline, if indeed Moscow has set such a goal.
- The prospect of Russian progress is not limited to the taking of Severodonetsk, however. As the Ukrainian official’s report maintains, cutting off the T-1302 Lysychansk-Bakhmut highway has remained the principal goal of the operational manoeuvre group operating out of Popasna, southwest of Severodonetsk. However, despite continuous fighting along the entire Popasna frontline in recent days, Russian forces have made little confirmed progress, including against the T-1302. On 5 June President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the town of Soledar, less than 10km from the Popasna frontline which remains a likely target for Russian forces looking to close the cauldron around the Severodonetsk-Lysychansk salient. Zelensky’s visit reflects the importance of the Ukrainian defence on this axis to the continuation of operations throughout the salient. The Ukrainian General Staff have reported that the Russians have transferred some 20 units of unspecified equipment to replenish losses along this axis, suggesting that the Russian operational manoeuvre group continues to sustain casualties while making only marginal gains.
- Ukrainian forces have furthermore attempted various other counteroffensives elsewhere along the frontline, seemingly taking advantage of Russian preoccupation with the Severodonetsk salient to gain advantage at other key points. Yesterday, 5 June, Ukrainian forces reportedly launched limited counterattacks north of Kharkiv city, including against the contested villages of Ternova, Rubizhne and Turove. Russian OSINT sources have furthermore claimed that a Ukrainian engineering unit reached the Khotomlya River, some 46km east of Kharkiv and east of the Pechenihy Reservoir along the Siverskyi Donets River. It has remained unclear to what extent Ukrainian forces have been operating east of the Siverskyi Donets in Kharkiv oblast, with the Ukrainian General Staff providing no confirmation. However, if engineering and other units are operating in the area, this will further threaten Russian ground lines of communication along this axis, including critical routes supplying forces further south around Izyum.
- On 5 June, Russia launched airstrikes on Kyiv, claiming that it had destroyed some Western military supplies. The event marks the first time since 28 April that Moscow has strike the Ukrainian capital, demonstrating willingness to continue targeting all parts of Ukraine despite concentrating its efforts on the east. The attack struck the Darnystia railway repair works in eastern Kyiv, though the Kremlin maintains they struck a site housing T-72 tanks provided by former Soviet-bloc NATO members. While there is no evidence as of yet that such tanks were housed there, the targeting of a railway yard aligns with the general pattern of long-range strikes across Ukraine in recent months.
- The attack follows President Putin’s warnings to the US against supplying Ukraine with long-range rocket systems, stating that this would push Moscow to strike “objects that we haven’t yet struck”. Although Putin did not specify which sites could be targeted, the warning came after Washington gave Kyiv four precision-guided, medium-range rocket systems – though stopping short of providing long-range weapons that could reach deep into Russia, which would have marked a notable escalation. The UK has furthermore confirmed on 5 June that it will supply Ukraine with M270 launchers, which with a range of up to 80km. While such systems will most likely be utilised to target Russian artillery positions, the M270s will nevertheless be the longest-range conventional battlefield weapons available to the Ukrainians. The likelihood of additional strikes on Kyiv will thus remain high, with retaliatory or punitive strikes against further weapons stores and railway junctions likely. For further analysis on the security situation and the challenges to a return to business operations in Northern and Western Ukraine, including Kyiv, see our recent Situation Update Brief.
- France is in talks with the UAE to replace Russian oil, according to a statement made by the country’s finance minister on 5 June. The statement follows the EU’s approval of the sixth round of sanctions against Russia last week, which included a partial ban on Russian oil imports. In another related development, French President Emmanuel Macron stated on 4 June that Putin should not be “humiliated” by the West in order to allow a diplomatic solution once the fighting ends. The statement reflects the broader position Paris has taken since before the invasion, which has maintained diplomatic contact with the Kremlin in a bid to eventually mediate a peace settlement or ceasefire, though Kyiv has responded angrily to the French stance. The criticism reflects the two-track approach to dealing with Russia emerging within NATO, namely: the more hard-line and less compromising approach supported by not only Kyiv, but also the Baltics, Poland, the US and UK; and the more cautious and willing to compromise approach supported by France and Germany. While the prospects for a peace settlement remain remote at present, eventually some sort of agreement or ceasefire will need to be reached, and such a difference in diplomatic approach will likely strain intra-NATO relations when and if negotiations open.
- Russia’s foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova condemned the West after confirming that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had to cancel his scheduled trip to Serbia after neighbouring Bulgaria, North Macedonia, and Montenegro closed their airspace to his plane. Zakharova called the decision “another closed channel of communication”, underlining the strained diplomatic relations and growing willingness of EU and NATO member states to challenge Moscow. Notably, relations remain amicable between Russia and Serbia, a candidate for EU accession, with the latter remaining very dependent on Russia for oil and gas and subsequently refusing to join Western sanctions against Moscow.
- For more strategic analysis and escalation outcomes to the current conflict in Ukraine, see our Scenario Planning and Projections report.
On 3 June Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated that Russia will continue the war in Ukraine until “Russia achieves all of its objectives”, in the latest indication that Moscow has not abandoned its more ambitious strategic goals despite the reduction in operational military objectives in Eastern Ukraine. Russian Minister of Defence Sergei Shoigu similarly stated on 3 June that Russian forces will “accelerate” the military operation after allegedly identifying unspecified “new tasks” that will improve unit effectiveness and tactics. In this vein, the Kremlin has in the last 48 hours sought to present an optimistic assessment of the operation in the Donbas, with state-aligned media outlets disseminating assessments that the operation is going “very well” and Russian forces are allegedly suffering “much fewer losses compared to the enemy”. The reaffirmation of the “demilitarisation and denazification” goals of the “special military operation” follow earlier criticism last week from pro-war hardliners over perceptions that Russian war aims have been reduced. Such positive statements over the last 72 hours may be aimed in part at assuaging such hard-line critics, but the Ukrainian counteroffensive in Severodonetsk will threaten any timelines for the rapid capture of the city. The invasion of Ukraine is now over 100 days old, but despite the reorientation of Russian forces to the east and ample opportunities to learn the lessons of earlier mistakes, Russia has continued to suffer very high casualties for relatively limited tactical gains. As Western states, including the US and UK, continue to increase military aid to Ukraine despite Russian threats, further strikes against Kyiv and other Western cities are increasingly likely in the coming weeks, particularly if the Donbas offensive continues to stall.
- Pro-Russian cyber threat actors have continued to engage in malicious activities during this monitoring period. These groups’, especially Killnet’s, continued targeting of Western countries providing aid to Ukraine is expected to remain a persistent threat in the coming months. Western government agencies, critical infrastructure operators, such as in telecommunications, and key private sector partners, such as in technology, will likely constitute the most high-value targets for these attacks.
- Pro-Ukraine hackers have remained highly active during this monitoring period, with the hacktivist collective Anonymous continuing to target Russia-based organisations and government agencies. While these attacks are expected to predominately impact Russian government agencies and its private sector partners, the hacking and leaking of RKPLaw’s internal and customer data highlights the latent financial and reputational risks posed to Western firms that maintain operations in Russia. Western entities impacted by these data leaks will be at a heightened risk of being levied with fines under regional data protection laws, such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
- Pro-Russian operations maintain pace; hacktivists and cyber criminals continue to focus on European targets supporting Ukraine
- On 6 June, industry reports claimed that the municipal government of Palermo, Sicily, took its local systems offline after being subject to a ransomware attack. The incident reportedly had a widespread impact on city operations, including its public services and bureaucratic capabilities being taken offline. Further details about this incident, including the attacker’s identity, are currently limited. Nevertheless, this attack follows the pro-Russian hacking group Killnet’s series of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against Italian government agencies and early May warning that it is “learning to kill your [the West’s] servers” as a part of its pledge to target Western countries providing support to Ukraine over Russia’s invasion (see Sibylline Cyber Daily Analytical Update – 16 May 2022). If officially confirmed, this incident would constitute Killnet’s first Ukraine-related attack making use of ransomware, albeit without reports of an accompanying request for ransom. As such it would represent an escalation of its cyber capabilities.
- Pro-Ukraine hackers continue data leak operations; the leaking of targets’ data could pose a financial threat to Western firms operating in Russi
- On 6 June, industry reports claimed that Russia’s Ministry of Construction, Housing, and Utilities’ website was compromised by a defacement attack. Russian state news agency RIA reported that the government agency’s site’s webpage was altered to read “Glory to Ukraine” and later taken offline. Further details of this incident are limited. However, given the political messages left on the Russian ministry’s website, this incident is highly likely to have been perpetrated by a pro-Ukraine hacking group. This latest attack is also consistent with the series of disruptive cyber attacks that Kyiv-aligned hacking groups, such as Anonymous or Ukraine’s IT Army, have launched against both Russian public and private sector targets since Moscow invaded Ukraine on 24 February.
- On 3 June, several Twitter accounts allegedly linked to the Anonymous hacktivist collective claimed that the group hacked the Russian law firm Rustam Kurmaev and Partners (RKPLaw) and exfiltrated approximately 1 TB of data. RKPLaw is a leading Russian law firm that has both foreign and Russian banking, media, oil, industrial, and state-aligned entities as customers. While details of this incident remain limited, Anonymous claimed to have leaked data including files, emails, court files, and backups related to both its internal operations and clients. If officially confirmed, this incident would be indicative of the hacktivist collective’s 5 June allegation that they have leaked over 12 m Russian files and emails since declaring its “cyber war” against the Russian government in late February and early March.
- On 1 June, the previously unobserved hacktivist group named “Team Onefist” claimed via Twitter to have hacked the Federal State Unitary Enterprise – which is in charge of waste management – in Moscow and leaked sensitive information. The group claimed that “any chem/bio weapons made in Russia produces such waste and invoices for its removal is in here [the data leak]”. It is unclear if Team Onefist’s cyber attack and subsequent data leak have had any impact on the Federal State Unitary Enterprise’s operations.
- On 1 June, another Twitter account allegedly linked to the Anonymous collective claimed the group hacked Russia’s Vyberi Radio group and leaked around 823 GB via the whistle blower site Distributed Denial-of-Secrets (DDoSecrets). Vyberi Radio operates an estimated 100 radio stations in 18 different cities in Russia. Such activity is consistent with pro-Ukraine hackers’ ongoing attempt to counter the Russian government’s misinformation/disinformation campaigns by disrupting Russian media outlets’ operations. This is the latest such campaign since TV programmes displaying the 9 May Victory Day Parade in Russia were hacked and altered to display anti-war messages (see Sibylline Weekly Ukraine Cyber Update – 10 May 2022).
- On 1 June, US General and Director of the National Security Agency (NSA) Paul Nakasone disclosed that the US’ cyber forces have been engaged in “offensive, defensive, [and] information operations” to help support Ukraine against Russia’s invasion. While Nakasone declined to provide specifics of these operations, he claimed that they were in line with international laws and conducted under “complete civilian oversight of the military”.
Publicly-disclosed cyber attacks launched by pro-Russian hacking groups moderately decreased during this latest monitoring period. In line with previous weeks, pro-Russian hacktivist groups, such as Killnet, were the most active Moscow-aligned threat actors. The latest ransomware attack launched against Palermo’s municipal government has yet to be officially confirmed as a pro-Russian attack. However, if it is, this incident would constitute groups such as Killnet’s first Ukraine-related attack employing a ransomware tool (albeit without accompanying ransom demand) and could be indicative of the success its dark web recruitment programme has had in augmenting its cyber capabilities. With the group promising via social media platforms such as Telegram to continue compromising “strategic targets” in the West, further disruptive or destructive attacks are likely forthcoming. Western government agencies, critical infrastructure operators, such as telecoms, and key private sector industries, such as technology, will constitute the most at-risk targets for such cyber activities. Meanwhile, pro-Ukraine hackers, such as the IT Army of Ukraine and Anonymous, have also continued to launch cyber attacks as a part of their #OpRussia campaign aimed at either expressing political grievances with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine or disrupting its misinformation operations. As in previous weeks, Anonymous and its affiliated hackers have remained the most active actors in this conflict. The majority of these campaigns are expected to have a limited impact on entities not directly supporting the Russian government’s operations. However, the attack launched against RKPLaw underscores the potential risk that such attacks could pose to Western firms that maintain operations in Russia. The limited information over what type of data is included in the leak makes it difficult to assess the severity of this incident. However, if it is discovered that Western firms and their EU-based customers are implicated, there is a heightened risk that they will be levied fines under regional data protection laws, such as the EU’s GDPR. Any fines levied under such laws will sustain the legal and reputational risks for companies experiencing data breaches.
Europe: Rationing for industrial gas users during winter and fuel shortages are likely, says the bloc’s energy watchdog. On 7 June, Fatih Birol, the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA), warned that according to the agency’s new report, energy efficiency has to be boosted in order to prevent rationing during winter. He claimed that rationing for industrial gas users is a possibility during winter, should it be a particularly cold season. Furthermore, Birol said that fuel shortages, including diesel, petrol and kerosene, over the summer are likely due to increased demands by holidaymakers and the EU’s latest Russian oil embargo. Birol’s statements highlight that energy security issues across Europe increase operational and policy risks for industries reliant on gas, while the lack of government action to boost energy efficiency will contribute to lasting socio-economic health risks.
Russia: Establishment of new Interior Ministry department underscores possibility of martial law declaration. State-run news sources have reported that Russia’s Interior Ministry has established a new department to help enforce martial law. The Main Directorate of Rapid Response is also tasked with coordinating ministry forces if a state of emergency or counter-terrorism operation is declared, protecting Interior Ministry buildings and overseeing civil defence activities. Kremlin officials reported that the new directorate reflects “current demands”, despite the government having repeatedly claimed that there are no plans to declare martial law since the invasion of Ukraine on 24 February. Nevertheless, the creation of the directorate underscores ongoing contingency planning to bolster capabilities in case of a deterioration in the domestic security situation. In the event that martial law or a state of emergency are declared in the coming months, which will be more likely if the Russian offensive in the Donbas stalls, the new department would support the further crackdown on civil liberties such as freedom of speech and movement. (Source: Sibylline)
09 June 22. ‘Brutal’ battle for Ukraine’s Sievierodonetsk will determine fate of Donbas – president. Sievierodonetsk battle key to Donbas – Zelenskiy.
- Industrial city is being destroyed, Luhansk governor
- Ukrainian troops pull back to city outskirts
- Russian troops outnumber Ukrainian in Donbas – U.S.
The battle for the Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk is brutal and will determine the fate of the Donbas region, said the country’s president, as Russian troops lay waste to the city in an assault aimed at controlling eastern Ukraine.
After failing to take control of the capital Kyiv, the Kremlin says it is now seeking to completely “liberate” Ukraine’s breakaway Donbas where Russian-backed separatists broke away from Ukrainian government control in 2014.
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Around a third of the Donbas was held by the separatists before the Feb. 24 invasion.
“This is a very brutal battle, very tough, perhaps one of the most difficult throughout this war,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a video statement on Wednesday.
“Sievierodonetsk remains the epicentre of the encounter in Donbas … Largely, that is where the fate of our Donbas is being decided now,” he added.
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Ukrainian fighters in Sievierodonetsk pulled back to the city’s outskirts on Wednesday but have vowed to fight there for as long as possible.
Artillery shelling has turned the city in Ukraine’s Luhansk province to a bombed-out wasteland. Luhansk’s regional governor, Serhiy Gaidai, said the centre of the town was being destroyed.
“Our fighters are hanging on in the Sievierodonetsk industrial zone. But fighting is going on not just in the industrial zone, but right in the city of Sievierodonetsk,” Gaidai told Ukrainian television late on Wednesday.
Ukrainian forces still control all of Sievierodonetsk’s smaller twin city Lysychansk on the west bank of the Siverskyi Donets River but Russian forces were destroying residential buildings there, Gaidai said.
Reuters could not independently verify the situation on the ground in either city.
Kyiv’s ambassador to the United States told CNN that Ukrainian troops were vastly outnumbered in Luhansk and Donetsk, which collectively form the Donbas, a largely Russian-speaking region.
But “as we already saw in the battle for Kyiv, we can lose something temporarily. Of course, we’re trying to minimize that because we know what (can) happen (when) Russians control territories, but we will get it back,” Oksana Markarova said.
Gaidai said Russia now controlled more than 98% of Luhansk.
‘GOD SAVED ME’
West of Sievierodonetsk in Sloviansk, one of the main Donbas cities in Ukrainian hands, women with small children lined up to collect aid on Wednesday while other residents carried buckets of water across the city.
Most residents have fled but authorities say around 24,000 remain in the city, in the path of an expected assault by Russian forces regrouping to the north.
Albina Petrovna, 85, described the moment her building was caught in an attack, which left her windows shattered and her balcony destroyed.
“Broken glass fell on me but God saved me, I have scratches everywhere,” she said.
Ukraine’s military said four people were killed during Russian shelling on around 20 towns in the Donbas over the past 24 hours, and that its troops had killed 31 Russian soldiers. Reuters could not immediately verify the figures.
In Soledar, Donetsk, residents took shelter in basements as shells hit the town on Wednesday.
“We are shelled day and night. The shelling is ongoing. We stay in the basement almost all the time. The apartment is close, we run there during the day. During the night we stay here,” said a resident, who did not provide her name.
Another resident, 65-year-old Antonina, sobbed and asked, “When is it going to end?”
Soledar is only 18 km (11 miles) from the town of Bakhmut, which lies at the start of a crucial supply road to the cities of Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk.
Ukraine and the West accuse Russian troops of targeting civilians and war crimes, charges Moscow rejects.
Moscow says it is engaged in a “special military operation” to disarm and “denazify” its neighbour. Ukraine and its allies say Moscow has launched an unprovoked war of aggression, killing thousands of civilians and flattening cities.
United Nations figures show more than 7 m people have crossed the border from Ukraine since Russia invaded on Feb. 24.
Ukraine is one of the world’s biggest grain exporters, and Western countries accuse Russia of creating a risk of global famine by blockading Ukraine’s Black Sea and Azov Sea ports. Moscow says Western sanctions are responsible for food shortages.
Turkey has been trying to broker negotiations to open up Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu hosted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday and said a U.N.-backed deal on the ports was possible with further talks.
Lavrov said the Ukrainian ports could be opened, but Ukraine would have to de-mine them first. Ukraine dismissed Russia’s assurances as “empty words” and said Russian attacks on farmland and agricultural sites were exacerbating the crisis.
Vitaliy Kim, governor of the Mykolaiv region, where Russian shelling destroyed the warehouses of one of Ukraine’s largest agricultural commodities terminals over the weekend, told Reuters Moscow was trying to scare the world into meeting its terms.
The Kremlin cited Russian President Vladimir Putin as saying Western sanctions must be lifted for Russian grain to reach markets.
Zelenskiy told a Yale University summit of business leaders by video link on Wednesday that he believes Russia will not seek a diplomatic end to the war unless the world supports Ukrainian troops in their fight.
“We are an independent, righteous, normal country,” Zelenskiy said, adding about his troops’ war efforts: “We do it on our land and we slowly push them back. That’s how we’re going to keep on moving.” (Source: Reuters)
09 June 22. Fact Sheet on WMD Threat Reduction Efforts with Ukraine, Russia and Other Former Soviet Union Countries.
The History and Accomplishments of U.S. Collaboration With the International Community to Reduce Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Threats in Ukraine, Russia, and Other Countries of the Former Soviet Union
- Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States, along with allies, partners, and international organizations, has led cooperative efforts to reduce legacy threats from nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons left in the Soviet Union’s successor states, including Russia. These cooperative threat reduction efforts have helped advance global peace and security, and have supported the global consensus that the world is safer when we work together to increase transparency and reduce the risks from weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs.
- The U.S. Congress created the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program through the passage of the Soviet Threat Reduction Act of 1991. The CTR Program provided U.S. funding and expertise to: 1) consolidate and secure WMD and WMD-related material in a limited number of secure sites; 2) inventory and account for these weapons and materials; 3) provide safe handling and safe disposition of these weapons and materials as called for by arms control agreements; and 4) offer assistance in finding gainful employment for thousands of former Soviet scientists with expert knowledge of WMD, WMD-related materials, or their delivery systems
- The United States has provided this assistance with transparency and in cooperation with our partners, which included Russia prior to 2014, toward mutually-decided objectives, and has been reported on a regular basis.
- In addition to the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction work, the Departments of Energy and State have supported nuclear, chemical, and biological threat reduction efforts, often with technical assistance from other U.S. departments and agencies. This work has occurred in collaboration with other countries, such as Canada, the European Union, Japan, Norway, the Republic of Korea, and others; multilateral organizations, and the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC); and the Science and Technology Center in Ukraine (STCU).
- Thirty years later, amidst its war of aggression against Ukraine, Russia seeks, with support from the People’s Republic of China (PRC), to undermine that work by spreading disinformation and sowing mistrust in the people and institutions all over the world that contribute to WMD threat reduction. This Fact Sheet provides an overview of the history of threat reduction and nonproliferation programs supported by the United States, in cooperation with countries of the former Soviet Union, including the Governments of Russia and Ukraine.
Achievements of this cooperation across the former Soviet Union include:
- Destroying 2,531 missiles, decommissioning more than 1,300 WMD delivery systems (silos, mobile launchers, submarines, and strategic bombers), upgrading security at 24 nuclear weapon storage sites, and securely moving over 600 shipments of nuclear warheads from less secure storage to more secure storage or destruction (almost all of this work in Russia).
- Ukraine’s voluntary and verifiable renunciation of nuclear weapons, with the transfer of Soviet missiles, nuclear weapons, and weapons-usable nuclear materials to Russia or destruction of such missiles, weapons, and materials, and accession to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation (NPT) as a non-nuclear-weapon State Party in December 1994.
- Joint efforts by the United States and partners working with Russia to destroy Russia’s declared chemical weapons stockpile under international verification by the Technical Secretariat of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and ensuring that Soviet scientists with weapons-related knowledge could have sustainable civilian employment—in particular, supporting scientists to remove incentives to seek or accept of terrorist or other state actor employment and financing.
- Engagement of thousands of former Russian biological weapons scientists to conduct peaceful biological research projects for public health purposes, with the Russian government’s full approval. (These types of projects were very similar to biological research projects Russia is now criticizing in other former Soviet countries.)
- Securing Russia’s active approval of and collaboration, as a full member of the ISTC Governing Board until 2014, in peaceful biological research projects worth ms of dollars to advance public health with Georgia, Kazakhstan, Armenia, and other former Soviet Union countries. (The Russian government repeatedly approved, and often collaborated in, the very projects it is now criticizing.)
- Ukraine has no nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons programs. On March 11 and 18, 2022, United Nations (UN) High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu similarly stated that the UN is not aware of any biological weapons programs in Ukraine. Those comments were reiterated on May 13, 2022, by the UN Deputy High Representative for Disarmament Affairs.
- Today, the collaborations in Ukraine remain peaceful efforts to improve nuclear and radiological safety and security, disease surveillance, chemical safety and security, and readiness to respond to epidemics and pandemics such as COVID-19.
- Many of these collaborations are multilateral and involve the G7-led Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the World Health Organization (WHO), the OPCW, and other UN specialized agencies.
- Ukraine has become a leader in transparency and in promoting nonproliferation and global health security norms. For example, in December 2021, Ukraine completed a voluntary, external, WHO-led evaluation of its capacity to prevent, detect, and rapidly respond to public health emergencies.
Ukraine Has No Nuclear Weapons Program
- During the Cold War, the Soviet military stationed a sizable number of nuclear weapons in Ukraine, believed to be around 1,800 nuclear warheads as well as strategic bombers and nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). There were also several locations in Ukraine where Soviet tactical nuclear weapons were stored. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia retained control of these weapons under the aegis of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
- Ukraine assumed obligations under the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I) in 1992 as a successor state to the Soviet Union, and in 1994 joined the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as a non-nuclear-weapon State Party, renouncing the Soviet legacy nuclear weapons that had been deployed or stored in Ukraine.
- The transfer of all nuclear weapons from Ukraine to the Russian Federation was completed by 1996, in return for reactor fuel for peaceful uses and security assurances from Russia, the United States, and the United Kingdom as set forth in the 1994 Budapest Memorandum. All ICBMs were dismantled or removed from Ukraine, and all nuclear missile silos in Ukraine were destroyed.
- As a Non-Nuclear Weapon State Party to the NPT, Ukraine has upheld its obligation not to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or to seek or receive assistance in their manufacture. Ukraine also has met its NPT obligation to accept IAEA safeguards on all nuclear material in the country, and in addition has in force an Additional Protocol to its NPT-required safeguards agreement to enable the IAEA to provide credible assurances to the international community that all nuclear material in Ukraine remains in peaceful activities. The IAEA has repeatedly stated that it has found no indication that would give rise to a proliferation concern in Ukraine.
- In a further demonstration of Ukraine’s dedication to nuclear nonproliferation, at the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit hosted by the United States, Ukraine voluntarily pledged to remove its highly enriched uranium (HEU).
o Through the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) efforts, 234 kg of Ukraine’s HEU was repatriated to Russia, the original exporter of this material. The material was then down-blended to low enriched uranium (LEU). In exchange for eliminating this HEU inventory, NNSA provided LEU fuel for the research reactor at the Kyiv Institute for Nuclear Research and supported the development and construction of the Neutron Source Facility at the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology, with both facilities being used for peaceful purposes.
o The very small quantity of HEU that remains in Ukraine is intended for specific scientific purposes, such as nuclear forensics, and is well below the amount needed to produce a nuclear device. Ukraine does not possess uranium enrichment or spent fuel reprocessing capabilities, nor does it possess substantial quantities of separated plutonium.
- Ukraine has consistently stated that it has no intention of acquiring nuclear weapons and has consistently supported other key elements of international nonproliferation regimes, such as the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Zangger Committee, the Wassenaar Arrangement, the Australia Group, and the Missile Technology Control Regime. Further, Ukraine has signed and ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.
Ukraine Has No Biological Weapons Program
- At the time of its dissolution in 1991, the Soviet Union, despite being a State Party to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), had a large and sophisticated biological weapons program, consisting of dozens of research, development, and production facilities, with tens of thousands of employees, spread across many of its successor states.
- In violation of the BWC, this Soviet weapons complex developed a broad range of biological pathogens for use as weapons against plants, animals, and humans, including the weaponization of anthrax, plague, and smallpox.
- In contrast, no other European state nor the United States possessed any biological weapon development programs, in compliance with their obligations under the BWC. When the Soviet Union dissolved, it left some newly independent states, like Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, with legacy biological weapons program facilities, equipment, and materials that were vulnerable to theft, misuse, and unsafe handling and storage. The U.S. Departments of Defense and State funded programs to help transition such former Soviet weapons facilities into peaceful public health facilities.
- The United States, through international collaboration, has also worked to address other biological threats throughout the former Soviet Union. Subject matter experts in biology, biodefense, public health, and related fields were engaged from across the U.S. government. These efforts advanced disease surveillance and enhanced peaceful biological research cooperation between former Soviet Union scientists and the global scientific community, consistent with international norms for safety, security, nonproliferation, and transparency.
- The United States has also worked collaboratively to improve Ukraine’s biological safety, security, and disease surveillance for both human and animal health, providing support to 46 peaceful Ukrainian laboratories, health facilities, and disease diagnostic sites over the last two decades. The collaborative programs have focused on improving public health and agricultural safety measures at the nexus of nonproliferation.
- This work, often conducted in partnership with outside organizations, such as the WHO and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), has resulted in safer and more effective disease surveillance and detection. Ukrainian scientists have acted consistent with international best practices and norms in publishing research results, partnering with international colleagues and multilateral organizations, and widely distributing their research and public health findings.
- Ukraine owns and operates its public health laboratories and associated infrastructure, and the United States is proud to collaborate, cooperate, and provide assistance in support of this infrastructure. These facilities operate just like other state or local public health and research laboratories around the world. Furthermore, all equipment and training provided by the United States is subject to U.S. export control processes, audits, and acquisition laws and regulations, which ensures transparency and compliance with domestic and international laws.
- This assistance has directly and measurably improved Ukraine’s preparedness and response efforts to detect and report outbreaks, including COVID-19 response, and has helped protect its food supply in addition to many other benefits that accrued from this partnership.
Ukraine Has No Chemical Weapons Program
- Ukraine has been a respected member of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) since ratifying the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in 1998.
- Ukraine has consistently demonstrated its commitment to uphold the international norm against the use of chemical weapons, including through its participation at the OPCW and its implementation of its obligations under the CWC.
- Ukraine regularly plays an active role at the OPCW Conference of the States Parties and was most recently a member of the OPCW Executive Council from 2018 to 2020. Ukraine previously held a number of leadership roles at the OPCW, to include chairing the Executive Council from 2012 to 2014.
- The United States has been clear since ratifying the CWC in 1997 that it will never under any circumstances develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile or retain chemical weapons, or transfer, direct or indirectly, chemical weapons to anyone; use chemical weapons; engage in any military preparations to use chemical weapons; or assist encourage or induce, in any way, anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a state party under the CWC.
- The United States is committed to the destruction of all chemical weapons around the world and has provided substantial aid and support to numerous countries in the destruction of their chemical weapons, including Russia and Syria. (Source: US DoD)
08 June 22. Ukraine to buy Polish howitzers as long war looms with Russia. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has announced his country is selling 155mm Krab self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine amid the country’s fight against Russia’s invasion.
“We are now signing one of the largest, if not the largest defense contracts for exports of the past 30 years,” Morawiecki said on June 7 during his visit to the plant of Polish defense company Huta Stalowa Wola, which makes the Krab. “This is a sale of weapons for Ukrainians … which will be very important weapons in the battlefield, most likely in Ukraine’s east.”
The arms are meant to strengthen Ukraine’s artillery forces by giving them the capability to strike targets at a distance of up to 40 km (25 miles), according to data from the manufacturer.
To make the Krab’s chassis, Huta Stalowa Wola bought a license for the technology used in the chassis of the K9 Thunder howitzer from South Korea’s Hanwha Defense.
The value of the contract and the number of the Krabs to be supplied to Ukraine was not officially disclosed. However, local daily Dziennik Gazeta Prawna reported the deal covers about 60 howitzers and it is valued at some PLN 3 bn, or $700 m. The transaction marks Poland’s first export sale of the weapon.
Deliveries are expected to begin this year and be completed in 2023. To finance the purchase, Ukraine will use funds from its state budget, but also money it receives from the European Union, Morawiecki said.
Last month, Poland reportedly delivered a battalion of about 18 second-hand Krabs to Ukraine. The Polish government transferred these weapons to the Ukrainian armed forces as military aid. (Source: Defense News)
08 June 22. Russian microchip maker eyes Taiwan exit in response to sanctions. The Russian-based company MCST, which produces Elbrus microchips, said in early June that it could move its production line from Taiwan, the world-leading producer of semiconductors, to the Micron plant based in Zelenograd, a city near Moscow. Russian media reported the potential move, citing MCST officials, and Defense News confirmed the information through a source with knowledge of its business dealings.
Micron is jointly controlled by AFK Sistema and Rostec, two Russian industrial conglomerates, and produces microchips for both military and civilian use.
Defense and commercial companies in Russia rely heavily on foreign-made microchips. While Russian engineers provide the design specifications, the technology is assembled by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, or TSMC. Following the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, TSMS ceased production of Russian-designed Baikal and Elbrus microchips.
The Russian military uses Taiwanese-assembled processors in its computer systems as well as microchips for weapons and equipment made by Angstrem, another Zelenograd-based company. Angstrem makes a wide range of products, from discrete transistors to microprocessors, according to its website, and produces 600-nanometer microchips for military use.
Shpak, has described the potential decision to leave Taiwan as “not a tragedy.” And the departure would likely benefit Rostec, which has long lobbied to create a domestic microchip-industrial base.
In 2020, the company said it would be able to modernize the country’s microchip industry with 800bn rubles (U.S. $13bn), but other industry players anticipated such an undertaking would require more then 1 trillion rubles.
Experts and industry members have also warned that localizing semiconductor production will prove a difficult task because Russia lacks the technology to produce sophisticated microchips. “Locally we can produce chips for travel cards — not much [else],” a former government official told Defense News.
In 2019, Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov said it is “stupid” to think Russia has an effective microchip-industrial base. At the time, he blamed government bureaucracy for a lack of coordination.
MCST previously encouraged Russian companies to only use domestically made microchips for the sake of national security. In January 2022, the Russian company’s CEO, Alexander Kim, wrote a letter to government officials protesting an effort to relax rules around a goal for domestic companies to solely use Russian-made microchips starting in 2023. The change in regulation would allow companies to use foreign-made motherboards, which contain foreign-made microchips, Kim explained in the letter, as reported by business daily RBC Russian.
The Russian Defense Ministry hasn’t disclosed the percentage of foreign-made semiconductors it uses. But its media outlet Krasnaya Zvezda, or Red Star, reported in 2018 that the ministry that year purchased more than 500 working stations that use Elbrus processors in a deal exceeding 400m rubles.
In October 2020, the ministry launched another tender for Elbrus-based computers worth more than 191m rubles.
But in January 2022, the Interior Ministry complained about the production capacity of Elbrus processors. MCST said at that time it was looking into the problem.
A Russian analyst involved in state-backed work, speaking to Defense News on the condition of anonymity, said Micron will be able to sustain the local defense sector alone, but that microchip quality will see a decline after the move from Taiwan.
Industry members anticipate Micron will be able to produce 90-nanometer chips at best, whereas Taiwan has the capacity to create smaller, more efficient chips — down to 5 nanometers.
In March, several Russian companies locally producing semiconductors appealed to the government to include their businesses in its list of so-called backbone enterprises, which would allow them to set up facilities in China with government support. For its part, China has invested heavily in the production of semiconductors and also buys from Taiwan.
Despite strong Sino-Russo military cooperation, Moscow is reluctant to share sensitive defense information with its ally. During the past few years, several Russians were jailed after being accused of spying for China.
Ruslan Pukhov, who leads the Moscow-based Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies think tank, said reliance on China might not be much better than the current situation, suggesting the best way to boost domestic microchip production is through tax relief for manufacturers. (Source: Defense News)
09 June 22. Polish “Krabs” are ready for battle: Defence Minister reports on the weapons received. Polish self-propelled Krab howitzers (155 mm) are ready for use by the Armed Forces of Ukraine at the front, in addition to a number of other weapons received from Ukraine’s partners.
Source: Minister of Defence of Ukraine, Oleksiy Reznikov
Quote: “I am happy to announce that the Polish self-propelled artillery mount Krab is ready to carry out combat missions at the front. After the M777 and FH70 guns and the CAESAR and the M109A3 anti-aircraft guns, these are the fifth type of 155-mm artillery we have been able to deploy.”
Details: Reznikov clarified that the Ministry of Defence has already provided the Armed Forces of Ukraine with more than 150 155-mm artillery platforms.
According to the Minister, the stockpile of shells of this calibre is 10% higher than the stockpile Ukraine had, on 24 February 2022, of large-calibre shells of the Soviet type. The effectiveness of these shells is higher than Soviet models, resulting in less consumption.
At the same time, the Armed Forces of Ukraine have received more than fifty guns of other significant calibres, as well as shells for them, which make up more than 75% of the volume [of weapons of this type] that existed at the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion.
Quote: “Dozens of Soviet-style MLRS units and tens of thousands of shells, hundreds of mortars and hundreds of thousands of shells for them have strengthened our defences during this period.
The Ministry of Defence of Ukraine is competing with the Russian army in taking the lead, having been supplied with tanks and other Soviet-style armoured vehicles which already number in the hundreds.”
Details: The Minister thanked the aerospace and defence company Ukroboronprom, whose specialists restored or put into service for the Armed Forces “hundreds of units of military and special equipment, including captured Russian equipment.”
Ukraine has received about 250 Western-style armoured vehicles (M113 TM armoured personnel carriers, M113 YPR-765 infantry fighting vehicles, Bushmaster protected mobility vehicles, Mastiff protected patrol vehicles, Husky tactical support vehicles, Wolfhound heavy armoured trucks, etc.) from its partners, and continues to work to acquire more.
Reznikov mentioned “thousands” of MANPADS (Stinger, Starstreak, Mistral, Piorun, Grom, etc.), anti-tank guided missiles, or ATGMs (NLAW, Javelin, Milan, etc.) and grenade launchers (Panzerfaust, Carl Gustaf, AT4, RGW-90 HH / MATADOR, etc.).
Quote: “This is by no means a complete list, as it is too early to talk about some other modern weapons systems; we will discuss them later. But the enemy will feel their effects now.
In addition, the Ministry of Defence has deployed hundreds of drones through various mechanisms, including several dozen combat drones.
We expect serious unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the coming aid packages.
The coastal defence has been strengthened by extremely effective Harpoon complexes, which in combination with our Neptune [anti-ship missile] are already forcing the enemy fleet to stay at a distance so as not to suffer the same fate as the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, the cruiser “Moskva.”
Details: Reznikov noted the Ministry of Defence has already fulfilled the initial 155-mm artillery request from the Armed Forces by 90%, and 100% of this initial need will be fulfilled within 1-2 weeks. The Ministry of Defence has a plan to supply artillery until the end of July.
American and British partners have decided to provide Ukraine with multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS), and Ukrainian soldiers have been learning to use them for some time now.
Ukrainian fighters are also learning to work with some other types of western weapons, about which “no political decisions have been taken yet,” Reznikov hinted.
“I am deliberately not going into the number of radars, medical vehicles, aerial bombs, etc. In the near future, I will also discuss separately and in detail the materiel, financing and personal armour protection, as well as the control systems,” the minister wrote.
In his view, the Armed Forces of Ukraine have already received “a significant number of weapons, [which] would be enough for a victorious defence against any army in Europe, but not against Russia,” and therefore Ukraine will need heavy weapons in the shortest possible time.
08 June 22. Norway donates 22 howitzers to Ukraine. Norway donated 22 self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine, including spare parts, ammunition and other gear, the Norwegian defence ministry said on Wednesday.
“The Norwegian government has waited to publicly announce the donation for security reasons. Future donations may not be announced or commented upon,” it said in a statement. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Reuters)
07 June 22. Blighter to provide Counter UAS radars to support Ukraine. Blighter Surveillance Systems (www.blighter.com) the British designer and manufacturer of electronic-scanning radars and surveillance solutions, will supply a significant number of its A422 radars as part of a Counter-UAS capability being deployed to support Ukrainian forces in the ongoing conflict with Russia.
The A422 is a medium-range air security military radar capable of detecting and reporting airborne as well as ground targets at up to 20km. The radar has unsurpassed clutter suppression for near horizon, urban and shoreline operation. The A422 offers moving target detection and machine learning classification to aid long range vision for 180° and is ideally suited to the detection of low-slow-small targets.
This order follows on from Blighter’s most recent contract to supply vehicle-mounted tactical radars on an Uncrewed Ground Vehicle (UGV) for a Northern European NATO customer.
The delivery of these radars to Ukraine adds to the United Kingdom’s existing contribution to the war effort, ranging from the 5,000 NLAWs and anti-tank missiles, to Starstreak missiles, body armour, helmets, and communications equipment. This forms part of Western allies’ wider military support for Ukraine, sending a variety of defensive weapons to hold off Russia’s advances. The first delivery of the radars will take place this month.
Blighter CEO, James Long said: “We are proud to be part of the broad package of military support that the UK is providing to Ukrainian forces. The versatility and reliability of Blighter’s A422 radar as part of a comprehensively proven Counter-UAS capability is very well suited to sustaining and strengthening Ukraine’s battlefield operations”.
07 June 22. Ukraine’s Zelenskyy says stalemate with Russia ‘not an option.’ President tells FT conference that western sanctions ‘have not really influenced’ Moscow’s position. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said a stalemate in the war with Russia was “not an option for us” as he once more appealed for western military support to restore his country’s territorial integrity. “We are inferior in terms of equipment and therefore we are not capable of advancing,” he said. “We are going to suffer more losses and people are my priority.” Speaking to Financial Times editor Roula Khalaf at the FT’s Global Boardroom conference on Tuesday, Zelenskyy said pushing Russian forces back to positions occupied before the February 24 invasion would amount to a “serious temporary victory” for Ukraine but full sovereignty over its territory remained his ultimate goal. The war has entered an attritional phase in the eastern Donbas region, the focal point of the fighting, with Russia using its superior artillery forces to grind down Ukrainian troops and make incremental territorial gains. Zelenskyy has said Ukraine could be losing up to 100 troops a day. Ukrainian officials have repeatedly asked western partners for the rapid supply of longer-range heavy weaponry to push back Russian forces but have been dismayed by the slow pace of deliveries and the continuing fear in some capitals of provoking a Russian escalation. Zelenskyy said that “victory must be achieved on the battlefield”. But he also insisted he was open to peace talks despite atrocities committed by Russian troops during their 100-day onslaught. Any war should be ended at the negotiating table, he said. However, peace negotiations would have to be face to face with President Vladimir Putin, because there was “nobody else to talk to” but the Russian leader. Zelenskyy hit out at what he saw as attempts by some western allies to explore the terms of a ceasefire without involving Kyiv. “We need abiding interest from the west, western support for Ukraine’s sovereignty. There cannot be talks behind Ukraine’s back anytime. “How can we achieve a ceasefire on the territory of Ukraine without listening to the position of this country? This is very surprising.” He said his allies could do more to bring Russia to the negotiating table by supplying Ukraine with arms and by toughening economic sanctions on Moscow, including a complete oil and gas embargo. They should not be mere mediators, he said, but should be ensuring that Moscow ended its hostilities and would honour any ceasefire. They should, he said, be setting the “preconditions” for peace. (Source: FT.com)
03 June 22. US Army delays multi-domain doctrine, sends team to glean info from Ukraine fight. TRADOC Commander Gen. Paul Funk wants to include the latest data from Ukraine conflict. “Why would we not take advantage of that just for some timeline?” he said.
The US Army’s forthcoming multi-domain operations doctrine, previously expected to be published in June, will come out later than expected as the Army evaluates it against the unfolding war in Ukraine, according to a top general, including dispatching a team to Europe to glean the latest information.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has given the Army a chance to ensure that its multi-domain operations concept, essentially how the Army plans to fight wars in the future, is adequately developed and effective, said Gen. Paul Funk, commander of Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC).
“Somebody has presented us an opportunity to look at our stuff and not expose our most precious treasure — our sons and daughters — to it,” Funk told reporters Thursday after an event hosted by the Association of the US Army. “And they’ve given us this opportunity to look at it. Why would we not take advantage of that just for some timeline? Why would we not look at this and make sure we’re we’re on the right track?”
The delay could be news to lawmakers who were told just last month by Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville that June was still the target deadline for the doctrine. Spokespeople for neither the Army nor TRADOC clarified the apparent disparate timelines as of press time following a request from Breaking Defense Thursday.
The Army has been developing its multi-domain operations strategy as the service’s future warfighting concept for several years. It’s meant to establish how the service plans to fight on the future battlefield in all the warfighting domains, including digital and electronic operations. But in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Army has an opportunity to measure its draft doctrine against a real-world conflict.
Funk said the doctrine still will be out before the end of the calendar year and that Army is taking an extra “90 to 100 days” to “look at it to make sure we’re on track.”
“I think we are,” Funk said. “Frankly, it’s been pretty clear that we are.”
Funk said that the service had sent personnel from the Army’s Center for Lessons Learned and doctrine staff to Europe to “capture and check what we’re writing as doctrine.” The goal is make sure what is written in doctrine is what war is “going to look like on the battlefield of today and is it going to be sufficient for tomorrow,” he said.
The four-star declined to say exactly where the doctrine and lessons learned staff are in Europe. But, he said, they are talking to Ukrainians, people training Ukrainians and refugees to gather as much information as possible about the Russian military from the tactical level up to the strategic.
“They’re trying to gather on everything, but they’re trying to do it through a lens of ‘Are we going to be ready for the future?’,” Funk said.
Russia’ unprovoked invasion of Ukraine began in late February. Though they’ve been beaten back by a surprisingly aggressive Ukrainian resistance, the Russian military has used artillery to devastating effect, pummeling several Ukrainian cities and, the United Nations says, killing thousands of civilians. But the war has come at tremendous cost for the Russians, with thousands of troops killed, according to NATO. Russia has also reportedly lost hundreds, if not thousands, of ground vehicles in Ukraine. The war has highlighted numerous shortfalls of the Russian military has it tries to move troops and supplies around the battlefield, providing myriad lessons for the US military.
Earlier this week, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said, for instance, that the conflict had demonstrated the importance of logistics, the impact that drones can have on the battlefield and the necessity of secure communications.
“We are very much looking every single day in real-time at what’s happening in Ukraine,” Wormuth said.
The Army’s broader multi-domain operations effort includes new formations and new platforms. The Army is in the midst of a multi-bn dollar modernization effort that includes new, secure networks to longer-range artillery and advanced helicopters — all with an eye on potential conflict with Russia and China.
The Army’s also created Multi-Domain Task Forces in the Indo-Pacific and Europe that will be home to long-range fires, cyber and electronic warfare capabilities as part of multidomain operations.
“This is a doctrine for 2030,” Funk said. “So let’s make sure it’s at least as right as we can make it right now.” (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
03 June 22. NATO conducts multi-domain vigilance activity in Norway. Nato’s vigilance activities aim to enhance overall cohesion of the allied and partner nations. Around 50 aircraft from the UK, France, Germany, Sweden and other allied and partner nations have taken part in Nato’s large-scale, multi-domain vigilance activity in Norway.
Conducted on 2 June, the vigilance activity focused on integrating command and control (C2) of joint forces in the North of Supreme Allied Commander Europe’s (SACEUR) Area of Responsibility (AoR).
The activity was led by Norway and involved the participation of nearly 130 participants from Nato allies and partner nations.
Participating aircraft included tankers, fighters, C-130 Hercules, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft.
The aircraft demonstrated the Nato’s ability on combat air power at the range.
Royal Norwegian Air Force Air Chief major general Rolf Folland said: “The exercise focuses on synchronisation the air, sea and land domains to enhance Alliance cohesion, interoperability and the ability to cooperate with our partners.”
As part of the vigilance activity, the participants practiced tactical command and control (C2) carried out simulated live joint fires and operated in a contested environment with electronic warfare (EW) threats.
The exercise also involved air-to-air refuelling (AAR) for the allied aircrew, as many aircraft flew from their home bases.
Furthermore, the US ground missile launchers and maritime vessels were played notionally for advanced training scenarios.
The activity allowed participating nations to strengthen relationships with each other.
Nato’s vigilance activities aim to enhance overall cohesion of the allied and partner nations.
Swedish Air Force Chief of Operations colonel Peter Greberg said: “The activity was a fantastic opportunity to train combined air operations and a clear confirmation that the Swedish Air Force is fully interoperable and ready to integrate into the Nato air domain.” (Source: airforce-technology.com)
06 June 22. Ukraine conflict: US to provide Gray Eagle UAVs to Kyiv. The US government intends to supply Ukraine with General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) MQ-1C Gray Eagle medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) armed with air-to-surface missiles. Reuters announced the plan on 1 June, saying that the Biden administration will provide four Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft equipped with Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire missiles.
The report came about two months after Forbes first said in early April that GA-ASI was to supply “heavy attack drones” to Kyiv to assist in Ukraine’s ongoing combat operations against Russian forces in the country. GA-ASI did not respond to a Janes request for confirmation and comment on the proposed transfer. According to Reuters, the latest plan to supply the Gray Eagles is yet to be approved by the US Congress.
The Gray Eagle is an upgraded US Army variant of the RQ-1 Predator, which was also later developed into the larger and more capable MQ-9 Reaper.
06 June 22. UK to gift multiple-launch rocket systems to Ukraine. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced that Britain will send M270 launchers, which can strike targets up to 80km away with precision guided rockets. The UK will give multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS) to Ukraine to help the country defend itself against Russian aggression, the Defence Secretary has announced. The cutting edge M270 weapon system, which can strike targets up to 80km away with pinpoint accuracy, will offer a significant boost in capability for the Ukrainian forces. The UK’s decision has been co-ordinated closely with the US decision to gift the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) variant of MLRS.
Alongside the weapon system, the UK will also supply M31A1 munitions at scale.
The decision by Ben Wallace comes in response to requests from Ukrainian forces for longer range precision weapons in order to defend themselves from Russian heavy artillery, which has been used to devastating effect in the eastern Donbas region.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:
The UK stands with Ukraine in this fight and is taking a leading role in supplying its heroic troops with the vital weapons they need to defend their country from unprovoked invasion. If the international community continues its support, I believe Ukraine can win.
As Russia’s tactics change, so must our support to Ukraine. These highly capable multiple-launch rocket systems will enable our Ukrainian friends to better protect themselves against the brutal use of long-range artillery, which Putin’s forces have used indiscriminately to flatten cities.
Ukrainian troops will be trained on how to use the launchers in the UK, so that they can maximise the effectiveness of the systems. Britain previously announced that Ukrainian personnel would be trained to use a variety of armoured vehicles which the UK donated, including Mastiff, Husky and Wolfhound.
The UK was the first European country to supply lethal aid to Ukraine, and has since provided thousands of anti-tank missiles, anti-air systems and armoured vehicles to Ukrainian forces.
Britain has also taken a leading role in coordinating international donations of military aid, with Ben Wallace hosting two international donor conferences to coordinate support from 35 partner nations, while RAF aircraft have moved thousands of tonnes of military assistance from donors around the world to Ukraine.
The UK will continue to provide aid to ensure Ukraine has what it needs to defend itself against brutal Russian aggression. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
06 June 22. Russia strikes Kyiv again after weeks, Putin warns West on missile supplies.
- One hospitalised in Kyiv, no immediate reports of death
- Putin warns U.S. against supplying Ukraine longer-range missiles
- Zelenskiy travels close to front-line near Sievierodonetsk
- Ukrainian troops control half of Sievierodonetsk -Gaidai
Russia struck Kyiv with missiles for the first time in more than a month, while President Vladimir Putin warned he would hit new targets in Ukraine if western nations supplied the country with longer-range missiles.
In Sievierodonetsk, the main battlefield in the east where Russia has concentrated its forces, Ukrainian forces are holding their ground after having retaken half of the city, said Serhiy Gaidai, governor of Luhansk province where the city is located.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Sunday said he travelled to Lysychansk, south from Sievierodonetsk, and Soledar – rare outings for him outside Kyiv since the start of the Russian invasion on Feb. 24 and could be the closest to the frontline yet.
“What you all deserve is victory – that is the most important thing. But not at any cost,” Zelenskiy, wearing his trademark khaki T-shirt, told Ukrainian troops in a video released on Sunday night.
Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk are in the Luhansk region and Soledar is in the Donetsk region. Both regions make up the Donbas, Ukraine’s industrial heartland, which Russia claims it is on a mission to “liberate”.
In the Kyiv attack, one person was hospitalised though there were no immediate reports of deaths. Dark smoke could be seen from many miles away after Russia’s attack on two outlying districts on Sunday.
Ukraine said the strike hit a rail car repair works, while Moscow said it had destroyed tanks sent by Eastern European countries to Ukraine.
Oleksandr Kamyshin, head of the Ukrainian railway, confirmed four missiles had smashed into the Darnytsia rail car repair facility in eastern Kyiv, but said there was no military hardware at the site.
The strike was a sudden reminder of war in Kyiv where normal life has largely returned since Russian forces were driven from its outskirts in March.
The “missile strikes at Kyiv have only one goal – kill as many as possible”, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter.
Ukraine said Russia had carried out the Kyiv strike using long-range air-launched missiles fired from heavy bombers as far away as the Caspian Sea.
Ukraine’s nuclear power operator said a Russian cruise missile had flown “critically low” over the country’s second largest nuclear power plant.
‘CRACKING THEM LIKE NUTS’
Sunday’s attack was the first big strike on Kyiv since late April, when a missile killed a journalist.
Russia has recently focused its destructive might on front lines in the east and south, although occasionally it strikes elsewhere in what it calls a campaign to degrade Ukraine’s military infrastructure and block Western arms shipments.
Putin warned the West that Russia would strike new targets if the United States started supplying Ukraine with longer-range missiles, the TASS news agency reported on Sunday.
The United States said last week it would send new, advanced medium-range rocket systems to Ukraine.
In an interview with Russian state television, Putin said the rockets Washington had promised so far were comparable to Soviet-era weapons Ukraine already had, Putin said.
If Washington were to deliver longer-range rockets, “we will strike at those targets which we have not yet been hitting”, he said. He dismissed the impact of Western drones, saying Russia had been “cracking them like nuts”.
Britain said it would supply Ukraine with multiple-launch rocket systems that can strike targets up to 80km (50 miles) away.
‘CONTINUE TO STORM SIEVIERODONETSK’
Heavy fighting continues in Sievierodonetsk and Russian forces are pushing towards Sloviansk, Britain’s Ministry of Defence said in a Twitter update.
However, Governor Gaidai earlier said Ukrainian forces were continuing to push the Russians back from Sievierodonetsk, about 85 kms (53 miles) east of Sloviansk.
The claims could not be independently verified. Both sides say they have inflicted huge casualties in Sievierodonetsk.
In Lysychansk, Russian forces fired on a bakery and several administrative and residential buildings, Gaidai said on Monday, adding one civilian had been wounded.
Evacuations resumed from the Ukrainian-held part of Luhansk province on Sunday, and 98 people had escaped, Gaidai said.
A Russian state media journalist on Sunday said Russian Major General Roman Kutuzov had been killed in eastern Ukraine, adding to the string of high-ranking military casualties sustained by Moscow.
The governor of Russia’s western Kursk region, Roman Starovoit, said the border village of Tyotkino had come under fire from Ukraine this morning which targeted a bridge and some local businesses. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Ukraine’s military reported that its forces repelled seven attacks in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions on Sunday, destroying four tanks and shooting down a combat helicopter.
Russian forces are “conducting intensive artillery and mortar shelling of our positions” in the Kharkiv region in Donetsk, Ukraine’s military general staff said on Monday.
It said Russia was targeting civilian infrastructure in several towns. Moscow denies it targets civilians. In a Sunday address in Rome, Pope Francis called the war “the negation of God’s dream”. (Source: Reuters)
04 June 22. Moscow deploys planes and electronic jamming as it ‘throws everything’ at battle for Donbas.
Moscow has unleashed the full force of its military aircraft and deployed electronic jamming systems for the first time as it “throws everything” at the battle for the Donbas.
Russia has had to rely on aerial attacks to make progress as ground units have suffered “huge losses” in the fight for the key town of Severodonetsk, according to the region’s governor.
Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of Luhansk province, said Russian forces had suffered severe defeats and were blowing up bridges across the Siverskyi Donets river to prevent Ukraine from bringing in military reinforcements and delivering aid to civilians in Severodonetsk.
“Right now, our soldiers have pushed them back, they (the Russians) are suffering huge casualties,” Mr Gaidai said in a live TV broadcast on Saturday.
“The Russian army, as we understand, is throwing all its efforts, all its reserves in that direction,” he said.
The governor said Ukrainian forces had recaptured around one-fifth of the territory they had lost in the city, though Russia claimed last night that Ukrainian units were retreating towards neighbouring Lysychansk.
Both sides have suffered punishing losses in street-by-street battles for the Soviet-era factory city, where roads have been riddled with craters and destroyed vehicles.
If Severodonetsk falls, Lysychansk would be the last city that Russia needs to capture to have full control of Luhansk province, which along with Donetsk province makes up the Donbas.
The area has become the focus of Russia’s invasion as President Vladimir Putin seeks to rebuild momentum after a failed attempt to take the capital Kyiv.
In a significant shift, electronic warfare has become far more of a factor in eastern Ukraine, where shorter supply lines are allowing Russia to move equipment around much more easily.
Electronic war has three basic elements: probe, attack and protect. First, intelligence is gathered by locating enemy electronic signals. On attack, “white noise” jamming disables and degrades enemy systems, including radio and telephone communications, air defence and artillery radars. Then there is spoofing, which confuses and deceives. When it works, munitions miss their targets.
A Ukrainian intelligence official called the Russian threat “pretty severe” when it comes to disrupting reconnaissance efforts and commanders’ communications with troops. Russian jamming of GPS receivers on drones that Ukraine uses to locate the enemy and direct artillery fire is particularly intense “on the line of contact”, he said.
“They are jamming everything their systems can reach,” said an official of Aerorozvidka, a reconnaissance team of Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicle tinkerers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of safety concerns. “We can’t say they dominate, but they hinder us greatly.”
Ukraine has had some successes in countering Russia’s electronic warfare efforts, capturing important pieces of hardware and destroying at least two multi-vehicle mobile electronic warfare units.
One was a Krasukha-4, which a US Army database says is designed to jam satellite signals as well as surveillance radar and radar-guided weapons from more than 100 miles away. The other was a more advanced Borisoglebsk-2, which can jam drone guidance systems and radio-controlled land mines.
Some analysts believe Russian commanders held back units earlier in the war, fearing they would be captured.
Russia may have also limited its use of electronic warfare early in the conflict because of concerns that ill-trained or poorly motivated technicians might not operate it properly.
The communications problems were evident with many Russian troops talking on insecure open radio channels, easily monitored by outsiders.
The Kremlin also claims to have more than 1,000 small, versatile Orlan-10 unmanned aerial vehicles it uses for reconnaissance, targeting, jamming and telephone interception.
Russia has lost about 50 of its Orlan-10s in the war, but “whatever they lost could be a small portion of what’s flying”, said researcher Samuel Bendett, of the Centre for Naval Analyses think tank.
In an intelligence update on Saturday, the UK Ministry of Defence said: “With its operational focus switching to the Donbas, Russia has been able to increase its employment of tactical air to support its creeping advance, combining airstrikes and massed artillery fires to bring its overwhelming firepower to bear.
“The combined use of air and artillery strikes has been a key factor in Russia’s recent tactical successes in the region.”
Mr Gaidi, in Luhansk, once again asked for advanced weaponry from Ukraine’s allies.
“As soon as we have enough Western long-range weapons, we will push their artillery away from our positions. And then, believe me, the Russian infantry, they will just run,” he said.
Moscow has said the Western weapons will pour “fuel on the fire”, but will not change the course of what it calls a “special military operation”. (Source: Daily Telegraph)
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