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Ukraine Conflict – July 4th.
Military and security developments
- Russian and separatist forces have continued to make slow but steady progress south and west of Lysychansk. The head of Luhansk oblast Serhiy Haidai confirmed this morning, 1 July, that Russian forces were storming the Lysychansk Oil Refinery. Russian forces have taken control of the north-western and south-eastern sections of the facility. Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) officials have furthermore claimed this morning that their forces have captured the village of Zolotarivka northwest of the oil refinery. While unconfirmed, this would indicate that Russian forces have taken control of a stretch of the T-1302 highway near an important road intersection which connects Lysychansk with Siversk further west. If true, this would mean Russian forces have reduced the lid of the encirclement around Lysychansk to as little as 8km, meaning there would now only be one small road out of Lysychansk still under Ukrainian control, which passes through the village of Bilohorivka. However, this remains unconfirmed.
- Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has furthermore claimed that his Chechen Akhmat special forces and LNR troops have continued to make progress northwest of the city after crossing the Siverskyi Donets River. Kadyrov has consistently made claims that have proven premature throughout the war, and so it remains to be seen whether the Russians have indeed captured half of the village of Privillya as he has now claimed. The Ukrainian General Staff have still not indicated any official plans for a withdrawal of Lysychansk, despite Russian claims earlier this week that the process had already begun. However, as previously assessed, if further Russian progress is made south of Privillya together with progress north of the oil refinery, a withdrawal will be increasingly necessary if Kyiv is to avoid significant numbers of troops being cut off inside the salient.
- The assault on Lysychansk city itself is also making progress, with Russian sources claiming their forces have captured the glass factory, the Stekolnyi suburb and Bila Hora to the south of the city, and are pushing east into the city centre.
- Further south along the Bakhmut line, Russian offensives continue to make limited but steady progress to the east and southeast of Bakhmut. The Ukrainian General Staff yesterday acknowledged that Russian forces along this axis, which include Wagner Group mercenaries, retain an advantage in terms of both number of forces and equipment, in particular artillery. This advantage has enabled the Russians to slowly but continually push the Ukrainians back towards Bakhmut in recent weeks, with reinforcements of this axis as reported on previously indicating Russian efforts to sustain this momentum and tighten the approaches to Bakhmut city.
- By contrast, further north Russian forces have continually failed to generate any momentum north of Kharkiv, or indeed southeast of Izyum in their effort to push towards Slovyansk, despite numerous renewed assaults in recent days. This is highly likely a result of Moscow’s overwhelming focus on operations around Lysychansk and Bakhmut, with limited available combat power to sustain offensives elsewhere at present.
- Following this week’s NATO Summit in Madrid, numerous Western governments have announced new military aid packages for Ukraine. US President Joe Biden confirmed yesterday that his government will soon announce a USD 800m package including air defence and artillery systems, which would take the total US support since the invasion to USD 7bn. France has similarly pledged to rapidly provide six more CAESAR 155mm self-propelled howitzers. Notably, an editorial in the state-controlled TASS news agency published today, 1 July, underlined the opportunities for the Russian military to study such Western weapons that had been captured following Ukrainian withdrawals in the Donbas. The editorial specifically claimed Russian forces had captured two CAESAR systems, as well as various other systems, including allegedly an intact British Brimstone missile captured near Zaporizhzhia. The capture of weaponry of course cuts both ways, providing opportunities for Western militaries to study captured Russian equipment, as well as fragments of advanced strike weapons in Ukrainian cities.
- Ukrainian authorities are reportedly considering the possibility of debt restructuring as the country struggles to secure enough funding. Authorities in Kyiv are in contact with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) regarding the available options as Kyiv seeks to reassure and remain on good terms with international investors. The government has reiterated that Ukraine is committed to servicing its foreign debt obligations. Whilst it is likely that some form of agreement will be reached should Ukraine struggle to make payments, the war will continue to put a massive strain on the country’s budget. For example, the Central Bank projects that the economy will shrink by at least 30 percent in 2022. However, the latest projections by the EBRD predict that the country’s GDP will bounce back to 25 percent in 2023, although this is based on the assumption that large-scale reconstruction would be underway. Whilst this is possible, much will inevitably depend on whether Ukraine and Russia can reach some form of peace settlement, which, at the moment, remains doubtful as neither side is prepared to back down from its current course.
- Latest public opinion polling conducted by the National Democratic Institute found that 90 percent of respondents at the national level want Ukraine to become a member of the EU, with the east and south of the country at 84 percent. Meanwhile, the desire to join NATO was lower, though still supported by 73 percent at the national level, and 65 and 59 percent in the south and east, respectively. The findings mark a notable increase from the last opinion poll on the topic in December 2021 when only 58 per cent of Ukrainians wanted to join the EU and only 48 per cent supported joining NATO. The change in sentiment is a direct result of the Russian invasion, which only increased unity within Ukraine and pushed the country further away from Russia’s influence. Most significantly for forecasting the length of the war, about 89 percent of Ukrainians said that they are against a peace deal with Moscow that would cede Ukrainian territory captured since the invasion. Such an overwhelming number reflects current thinking in Kyiv, with President Zelensky repeatedly emphasising his government’s war goals of recapturing all lost territory – including the Donbas and Crimea. Such a stance will make peace negotiations highly unlikely for the foreseeable future.
- 01 Jul 22. Ukraine: Pro-Moscow hackers will continue cyber assault on Ukraine’s government and private sector in support of Russia’s military operations. On 30 June, Ukraine’s State Service of Special Communication and Information Protection (SSSCIP) claimed that Ukrainian government and private sector organisations had been subjected to 796 cyber attacks since Russia’s invasion on 24 February. Of these attacks, the most impacted entities were those in government, defence, telecoms, and energy sectors. While these cyber intrusions have served a number of different purposes, most of the attacks (242 incidents) were aimed at exfiltrating sensitive information. These findings further confirm Microsoft’s report in April that Russian state-linked threat actors have launched more than 237 cyber operations against Ukraine aimed at a wide range of activities, including destructive and intelligence-gathering operations (see Sibylline Cyber Daily Analytical Update – 28 April 2022). With the SSSCIP warning that “the intensity of cyber attacks” launched by pro-Moscow hackers has not decreased in light of Russia’s full-scale military operation, further such cyber attacks are highly likely to occur in the coming weeks. These activities will likely target Ukraine’s government and/or critical infrastructure operators, such as those in defence or energy sector, with an aim of supporting Moscow’s military offensives in eastern Ukraine.
01 Jul 22. Russia: Sanctions Update.
On 26 June, Russian state media reported that Microsoft blocked Russia-based users from installing Windows 10 and 11. In March, Microsoft announced it would suspend new sales of its products and services in Russia due to the Ukraine war and in “compliance with governmental sanctions decisions”. Recent updates indicate sanctions against Moscow are effective as they disrupt businesses and people from accessing essential platforms which are crucial to conducting ‘business as usual’. Over the coming months, limited access to Microsoft updates will prompt Russian businesses to seek alternative platforms such as Ubuntu or download VPNs to access Western services. Continued disruption to businesses will likely cause low-level societal frustration, but this is highly unlikely to drive anti-war protests.
This week, Russian hacking group Killnet claimed responsibility for a day-long distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS) on Lithuania’s government websites. The DDoS attack was reportedly in retaliation for the European Union’s (EU) fourth sanctions package limiting transport lines to and from Russian territory of Kaliningrad, situated between Lithuania and Poland. Lithuania’s government institutions should anticipate further DDoS attacks as well as a heightened risk of ransomware threats over the coming days. Some media sources have also reported that the EU is reportedly seeking will a diplomatic solution, indicating that the territory could be excluded from sanctions.
In other sanctions-related news, Russia will spend USD 14.5 billion to increase local aircraft production as Western sanctions have limited imports of aircraft supplies to Moscow, and banned Russian airlines from flying to the US, Europe and other countries. Tough sanctions packages are successfully damaging Russia’s economy as limits on aircraft imports and free travel jeopardises a total contribution of over USD 20 billion to Russia’s GDP. Further, while Deputy PM Yury Borisov said domestically produced Russian aircraft should grow 81% by 2030, hefty penalties for sanctions violations will deter most states from engaging in business with Russia for the foreseeable future.
Russian long-range missiles have continued to target Ukrainian cities nearer the frontline after the intensification of strikes over the weekend. In particular, three Kh-22 anti-ship missiles overnight struck a high-rise residential building in the town of Serhiivka, just south of Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi in Odesa oblast. The attack has left at least 19 dead and over 30 injured at the time of writing. It is the latest high-casualty attack to target residential buildings in southwestern Ukraine following similar strikes in Mykolaiv and on Kremenchuk shopping centre earlier this week, both of which have left multiple civilians dead. These attacks reinforce our assessment that Russia is relying more heavily upon less accurate Soviet-era weapons due to its expenditure of more modern high-precision weapons, such as Kalibr cruise missiles. The number of long-range strikes has remained high in recent weeks, but there have been diminishing reports of high-precision Kalibr strikes and correspondingly more reports of inaccurate anti-ship missiles being used, namely the Kh-22. The latter weapons had been designed in the 1960s primarily as aircraft carrier killers. As such, they are not designed to strike ground targets and remain highly ill-suited for such missions, and thus are highly inaccurate. It is this inaccuracy that will continue to increase the risk of civilian collateral damage going forward, as the attack on Kremenchuk shopping centre on 27 June exemplified, which also utilised these inaccurate Kh-22 missiles. The Russian Ministry of Defence consistently claims that such strikes destroy weapon depots and hit their intended target. However, civilian infrastructure and housing remain very low military priority targets given the clearly diminishing stocks of long-range missiles. Faulty intelligence may in part explain the strike against Kremenchuk shopping centre, for example. However, the fact that the site was directly behind a large machine factory – a correspondingly higher priority military target – means the simplest explanation is that the second Kh-22 missile missed its target. Ultimately, the intensification of long-range strikes this week indicates that the Kremlin has no intention of easing up such attacks, but diminishing stocks of high-precision weaponry will mean growing reliance upon older, inaccurate missiles. This in turn will increase the risk of collateral damage against civilians across the country. The accuracy of Russian weapons cannot and should not be relied upon when conducting contingency planning. Proximity of assets or staff to potentially high-priority military targets, such as factories, railway yards, weapons depots and critical infrastructure, will thus carry elevated risks of being inadvertently struck – a trend which will only worsen as the war drags on and Russian stocks of precision weapons diminish still further.
30 June 22. US-Europe: NATO to increase military capabilities in Europe, increasing regional tensions with Russia. On 29 June, President Joe Biden announced at the NATO summit in Madrid that the US wants to reinforce its military capabilities in Europe in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The announcement comes only a few days after NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated that NATO will boost its forces along the alliance’s eastern flank, increasing the number of high readiness troops from around 40,000 to 300,000. President Biden also announced that the US will establish a permanent headquarters in Poland, while maintaining around 5,000 additional troops as part of a rotational brigade in Romania. In the Baltic states, the US military will also enhance its military capabilities, including aviation, air defence and special operations forces. The perception in Moscow that NATO is encroaching on Russian territory will exacerbate regional tensions and increase the threat of armed conflict.
- The growing encirclement of Lysychansk continues to make steady progress, with Russian forces encroaching further along the southern and western outskirts of the city. Yesterday, 29 June, Russian forces entered the Lysychansk oil refinery to the west of the city along the T-1302 highway. The Russians are currently attempting to gain control of the road in order to push further northwest, with the aim of closing off other routes out of the city. Luhansk oblast head Serhiy Haidai has claimed that two Russian battalion tactical groups (BTGs) are currently engaged in assaulting Lysychansk, though LNR forces are also likely to make up a significant portion of the overall Russian strength in the region.
- Russian sources have once again reiterated their claims that their forces had crossed the Siverskyi Donets River north of Lysychansk, with LNR forces now claiming to be in control of the village of Privillya. The Ukrainians have not confirmed this, but if true it may indicate that Ukrainian forces have already begun their withdrawal from the Lysychansk salient, as previously reported. If LNR and Russian forces have indeed seized Privillya, their next objective would most likely be pushing southwest along the river towards Bilohorivka, due north of the Lysychansk oil refinery. If they manage to take Bilohorivka, which has been under intermittent artillery bombardment in recent weeks, this would enable the Russians to cut off one of the only roads out of Lysychansk that runs to Siversk, and thus severely reduce the likelihood of a successful Ukrainian withdrawal from the city.
- Further south along the Bakhmut line, Russian forces have continued to assault at various points east of Bakhmut. Wagner Group-led forces have reportedly advanced around the villages of Klynove and Pokrovske, the latter of which is just 8km from the city. The Ukrainian General Staff this morning, 30 June, stated that their forces have successfully stopped the offensive around Klynove, as well as assaults further south around Novoluhanske. However, the Russians are nevertheless continuing to make steady progress southeast of Bakhmut overall, and are consolidating their control over increasing stretches of the M-03 highway that runs northwest towards Slovyansk.
- In a shock announcement this morning, 30 June, the Russian Ministry of Defence confirmed that Russian forces have withdrawn from the heavily fought over and strategically important Snake Island, also known as Zmiiny Island. Russian special forces seized the island on the first day of the invasion in February, and has over the subsequent months been fortified by Russian forces while under sustained attack from Ukrainian missiles and Bayraktar drones. Moscow has claimed that the withdrawal is a “gesture of goodwill” that illustrates Russia is not interfering in UN-led efforts to restart maritime grain exports through the Black Sea. However, this is highly likely to merely be a convenient political excuse that does little to conceal the poor performance of the Black Sea Fleet that has ultimately forced the Russian withdrawal.
- Less than 12 hours before the Russian announcement, Ukraine’s Operational Command South claimed that on 28 June their forces destroyed an advanced Pantsir-S1 air defence system that had been based on the island. Russia had been steadily reinforcing the strategic island in recent months with such systems, but numerous successful Ukrainian attacks in recent weeks have illustrated the enduring failures of Russia’s air defence network, exemplified most dramatically by the sinking of the Slava-class cruiser the Moskva. The sinking of the Project 22890 tugboat Vasily Bekh on 17 June by Ukrainian TB2 Bayraktar drones, which had been sailing to resupply the island, furthermore exposed the growing vulnerability of the Russian Navy’s surface fleet and thus the growing challenges to resupply the Snake Island garrison.
- Russia’s primary naval strategy in the Black Sea has been anti-access/area denial (A2/AD), prefaced around Russian naval-, air- and land-based assets depriving Ukraine and other actors the ability to operate in the Black Sea. Up until recent weeks this has been largely successful, as exemplified by the effective blockade of the Ukrainian coast and even the Turkish invocation of the Montreux Convention, which blocks the passage of warships through the Bosphorus. However, Ukraine’s effective use of Bayraktar drones, land-based artillery and anti-ship missiles, including both domestically produced Neptun and Western-supplied Harpoon missiles, has clearly led the Kremlin to conclude that Snake Island is no longer sustainable, or at least not worth the effort of defending given other operational priorities.
- Ultimately, an increasingly assertive Ukraine has in recent weeks clearly unhinged the Russian A2/AD strategy, with Ukraine’s growing anti-ship capabilities in fact depriving Russian forces the ability to operate with impunity along the Ukrainian coast. The withdrawal from Snake Island is thus in our assessment the clearest indication since the sinking of the Moskva of the failure of Russia’s A2/AD strategy, providing Kyiv with a major propaganda and operational victory that will ease the pressure on the Ukrainian coast.
- Russia accused Norway of blocking the transit of goods at a sole land border checkpoint between the two countries, stating the Norway was denying transit of food and medicine to Russian miners living in the Norwegian Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. Meanwhile, Norway’s Foreign Ministry denied wrongdoing, stating that the shipment was stopped “on the basis of the sanctions that prohibit Russian road transport companies from transporting goods on Norwegian territory.” Moscow nevertheless threatened retaliation, highlighting yet another flashpoint of tensions over alleged blockage of the transit of goods. Nevertheless, despite the threats, Russia is most likely to resort to the measures such as diplomatic expulsions as well as economic and political sanctions. Risk of cyber attacks is also set to increase in the short term, with Norway already reporting on 29 June that a cyber attack temporarily suspended several public and private websites. Similar cyber incidents were noted this week in Lithuania and coincide with heightened tensions over Kaliningrad.
- Moscow-backed officials said on 30 June that a vessel carrying about 7,000 tons of grain has departed from the occupied port of Berdyansk, with the ship reportedly heading “toward friendly countries.” This is the first grain shipment to leave the port since the start of the war. Meanwhile, Russia also confirmed today that its forces have withdrawn from Snake Island, stating that this is gesture of “goodwill” and a way to demonstrate that Moscow was not blocking effort to establish a corridor for grain exports. In general, however, the prospects of a wider deal to end Moscow’s blockage of Ukrainian ports is still distant, as reaffirmed today by Ukraine’s deputy minister for economy and lead trade negotiator, Taras Kachka, who said that attempts to a food security solution “on good will or grace of Russia will not work”. Meanwhile, Although Kachka said that Ukraine would accept a third state’s naval assistance to escort grain exporting vessels, such a scenario is still unlikely at present given that western countries are adamant about avoiding a direct military confrontation with Russia.
- For more strategic analysis and escalation outcomes to the current conflict in Ukraine, see our Scenario Planning and Projections report.
Today, 30 June, Belarusian sources reported that summons have been sent out en masse to Belarusian men ordering them to present themselves at military enlistment offices. It remains unclear at this stage whether the orders indicate an impending mass conscription of Belarusian citizens, but the orders reportedly stated that the summons were to facilitate “training to gather personnel for the formation of territorial defence in the event of a military threat”. Ahead of Belarus’ Independence Day on 3 July, President Alyaksandr Lukahsenka has today in a state address said that he will fight to protect Belarusian independence, claiming that NATO forces are building up along the country’s eastern and northern border. The announcement is almost certainly in response to this week’s NATO Madrid Summit, where the alliance pledged to significantly increase its forces in Eastern Europe. The reports are the latest escalation in Belarusian military posturing amid growing concerns in Kyiv that Russia is attempting to bring Minsk more directly into the war in Ukraine. On 24 June, Ukrainian intelligence claimed that Russian forces were intending to carry out false-flag attacks in Belarus in order to justify their involvement. However, despite the seeming escalation and growing military preparedness, it remains our assessment that Belarus is unlikely to launch a concerted offensive against northern Ukraine in the coming weeks. We assess this due to two principal factors. The first is Minsk’s limited military capabilities and the limited support Russia would be able to provide to sustain a major offensive given growing manpower shortages in the Donbas. Mass conscription would provide additional (albeit poor-quality) capability, but considering even Russia has not done so this remains unlikely in the short term. Secondly, direct Belarusian involvement in northern Ukraine would expose Belarus’ northern and western borders with NATO. The current dispute over the Kaliningrad region means this border is highly likely to be a strategic priority for both Minsk and Moscow, and as such the redeployment of forces into Ukraine would likely result in a net strategic loss and reduction in coercive leverage for Russia. In this respect, two unnamed EU sources have this morning claimed that a compromise deal between Lithuania and Russia may be reached within days to return cargo transit to the exclave of Kaliningrad to normal. Lithuania’s decision to enforce EU sanctions by limiting transit of various goods through their territory to the Russian exclave led to various threats of retaliation from Moscow, with Belarus playing a pivotal role in the credibility of these threats. The fact that European officials are now actively preparing to exempt Kaliningrad from transit sanctions indicates that such coercion is working, with particularly anxiety over the vulnerability of the Suwalki Gap that separates Belarus to Kaliningrad. Belarusian involvement in Ukraine would reduce the pressure on the Suwalki Gap, and thus likely undermine current coercive efforts to change EU policy.
30 June 22. Norway: Pro-Russia attacks against public and private entities underline heightened cyber security threat linked to the Ukraine conflict. On 29 June, the National Security Authority (NSM) accused pro-Russian criminal groups of targeting public and private sector organisations in a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack over the past 24 hours. While the NSM Director, Sofie Nystrøm, told local media that “no sensitive information was taken” during the attack, the Labour Inspection Authority reportedly was among the affected institutions. The attack follows closely an ongoing DDoS campaign against Lithuania by the pro-Russian hacktivist gang Killnet (see Sibylline Cyber Daily Analytical Update – 28 June 2022). Oslo, along with other Nordic governments, offered full support for Sweden and Finland’s applications to join NATO. Tensions between Oslo and Moscow have also risen amid a dispute over the blockade of Russian coal shipments transiting via Norway. The strong similarities between the campaigns against Lithuania and Norway suggest that it is highly possible that the same group was behind both attacks. With the Swedish and Finnish accession to NATO membership set to proceed as quickly as possible, this contentious issue will sustain the high risk of pro-Russian malicious cyber campaigns against European public and private institutions over the coming weeks. Government agencies and businesses in critical industries, such as energy, power, transport and finance, will be among the prime targets of such attacks.
29 June 22. Russia-Tajikistan: Russian visit underscores efforts to assert regional security role amid Afghan border threat. On 28 June, President Vladimir Putin met with his Tajik counterpart, President Emomali Rahmon, and announced that Russia is working to “normalise” the situation in Afghanistan and build relations with political forces governing the country. The two leaders agreed that the participation of Afghanistan’s ethnic groups will encourage stability. These statements took place during Putin’s first trip outside Russia since the invasion of Ukraine. The visit comes against the backdrop of the growing cross-border threat posed by the Afghanistan-based Islamic State – Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) and latent instability in Tajikistan’s flashpoint Gorno-Badakhshan region. Moscow’s military commitments in Ukraine have raised questions regarding its ability to fulfil its security role if the situation deteriorates in Central Asia. Notably, Russia operates a major military base in Dushanbe, the Tajik capital. As such, the visit likely represents a bid by Putin to assert Russia’s traditional role as the security guarantor in Central Asia amid growing instability along the Afghan border.
- Various separatist Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) officials have claimed over the last 24 hours that their forces have advanced as far as a third of the way into Lysychansk, amid growing indications that Ukrainian forces may have begun a fighting withdrawal from the city. The LNR’s ambassador to Russia, Rodion Miroshnik, claimed yesterday, 28 June, that Ukrainian forces had begun a large-scale withdrawal from the city and that separatist forces were fighting over the Shaktar football stadium, which sits along the main P-66 highway that runs through the centre of the city. Miroshnik has furthermore claimed this morning, 29 June, that around one third of Ukraine’s forces in the city have now surrendered in the southern suburbs of Lysychansk, with other Russian sources furthermore reiterating claims that their forces have managed to cross the Siverskyi Donets River around Pryvillya, northwest of Lysychansk.
- Such claims remain unconfirmed at present, but if the crossing around Pryvillya is true, this would significantly increase the risk of an encirclement of Lysychansk in the coming days, which would likely make a Ukrainian withdrawal from the city more pressing. The Ukrainian General Staff has not confirmed any plans to withdraw from Lysychansk, but LNR claims align with our own assessment that a Ukrainian withdrawal to a more defensible line further west remains increasingly likely as Russian forces continue to threaten to cut the city off.
- In this respect, Ukrainian forces are most likely to fall back to the next most defensible line running between Siversk and Bakhmut, which we will refer to as the ‘Bakhmut line’ (see Donbas map below). This line would have various advantages for the defending Ukrainians, including a string of almost unbroken villages running between Siversk-Soledar-Bakhmut which can be (and likely already have been) fortified. In addition, the Bakhmutka River stands at the back of the line guarding the T-0513 highway, which in turn will provide stronger ground lines of communication to resupply and reinforce Ukrainian forces on the frontline.
- A successful Ukrainian withdrawal from Lysychansk would in effect prevent Russian forces from executing the planned encirclement which has characterised Russian operations in the region for the last two months. This would allow highly experienced Ukrainian forces, including units of the International Legion, to escape and prevent their capture en masse. The Ukrainian General Staff are likely to want to avoid a repeat of the Zolote-Hirske pocket encirclement and the resultant loss of equipment and experienced manpower that followed. Nevertheless, as the only town in Luhansk oblast remaining under Ukrainian control, a Ukrainian withdrawal from the city would be a major victory for Russian forces that would allow President Vladimir Putin to announce the “liberation” of the LNR had been completed.
- Elsewhere along the frontline, and further south around Bakhmut, Russian forces have also continued to make steady progress. This morning the Ukrainian General Staff confirmed partially successful Russian assaults near Midna Ruda and Klynove, as well as renewed assaults against the Uglehirska Power Plant northwest of Svitlodarsk. Such assaults indicate further Russian encroachment around the M-03 highway that runs northwest towards Slovyansk. The Ukrainians have furthermore confirmed that the Russians have reinforced this axis with an additional battalion tactical group (BTG) in order to sustain the current momentum.
- On the southern axis, Ukrainian forces are managing to sustain the pressure on Russian defences along the Mykolaiv-Kherson border. On 28 June Ukrainian forces reportedly recaptured Zelenyi Hai and Barvinok, roughly 25km north of Kherson city, illustrating that despite Russian reinforcements to the area, the Ukrainians are still able to launch highly targeted counterattacks to exploit Russian vulnerabilities. This enduring pressure on Kherson city, one of the few cities Russian forces have taken in the four-month long invasion, is likely exacerbating local resistance to the Russian occupiers, which will continue to act as a drain on manpower across the southern axis as Russian security forces are redeployed to maintain order.
- United Kingdom-Europe: Policy and energy insecurity risks increase as UK to cut pipelines to EU. On 29 June, the Financial Times reported that the UK may cut supplies to industrial users and cut off interconnector pipelines to Europe via Belgium and the Netherlands in the event of severe gas shortages. If this emergency plan is triggered, it could exacerbate the energy crisis in Europe and increase operational risks for businesses in the UK. The UK’s energy regulator, Ofgem, published a report on 28 June which envisages cuts to the profits of local electricity distributors in the UK from a baseline annual rate of return of 6.8 to 4.75 percent as of April 2023 in order to encourage investment in maintenance and the improvement of its networks. Consequently, policy risks for businesses and the energy industry continue to increase, while the UK’s plan to cut off European interconnectors risks elevating socio-economic health and energy security risks across the region.
- The Russian-installed administration in Kherson has once again announced that it is preparing to hold a referendum to join Russia. The announcement follows yesterday’s reports that the Ukrainian mayor of Kherson city, Ihor Kolykhaiev, was arrested by pro-Russian forces, underlining Russia’s attempts to consolidate their political control over the region, which has seen a string of assassination attempts of Russia-backed officials, and local resistance since the invasion. Although it is unclear when such a referendum could take place, given that previous posited dates did not materialise in the “vote” being held, Moscow is nevertheless very likely to retain control over the region, particularly as it increased it coercion of locals, with about 45 percent of the region’s population having fled Kherson since the invasion.
The second day of the NATO Madrid Summit is taking place today, where member states will continue to debate the alliance’s response to Russian aggression ahead of the endorsement of a new Strategic Concept. While the details remain unpublished, NATO’s new Strategic Concept is set to designate Russia as the alliance’s biggest threat for the first time. Clearly in response, Russia’s state-owned space agency Roscosmos yesterday, 28 June, published satellite imagery and coordinates of numerous Western decision-making centres, including the Pentagon, Downing Street, and the Elysée Palace. The images are clearly a thinly veiled threat that aligns with the wider show of conventional missile capability inside Ukraine in recent days. However, despite the thinly veiled threats and heated rhetoric, Russia is highly unlikely to launch any attacks against any states outside Ukraine during the conference or after. In wider developments, the Kremlin stated on 28 June that it has no set timeframe for the end of the “special military operation” in Ukraine, saying that the invasion would end when Ukraine “lays down its arms”. This reinforces our assessment that Moscow is prepared to continue fighting the current attritional conflict for at least several more months. Much will depend on the campaign to conquer the entire Donbas region, but with Ukrainian forces possibly beginning their withdrawal from Lysychansk, half of that objective could be accomplished in the coming days if and when the “liberation” of Luhansk oblast is completed. Nevertheless, a campaign to conquer the remaining part of Donetsk oblast is set to take many more months, and could result in the war transitioning into a much more protracted conflict if this principal objective is not achieved.
- Pro-Russian cyber threat actors have continued to engage in malicious activities during this monitoring period. Cyber attacks launched by pro-Russian hacktivist groups in Lithuania posed the most notable threat during this monitoring period. With tensions over Vilnius’ blocking of certain goods into Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave set to persist, further disruptive cyber attacks – such as DDoS – are highly likely to emerge in the coming weeks. Government agencies or private sector entities – such as in the energy, transportation, and IT sectors – in the Baltic region will be the most at-risk for these cyber attacks.
- Meanwhile, Pro-Ukraine hackers have also continued their disruptive cyber activities during this monitoring period. Much like in previous weeks, these hackers have remained focused on leaking data from either Russian government agencies and/or Russia-based entities. While these attacks appear to have had a limited impact on the targeted organisations’ operations, such activity will continue to pose a long-term reputational threat for a firm implicated in any data leaks. These groups will likely also continue to launch other rudimentary cyber attacks – such as DDoS and defacement – against a wide range of sectors.
LATEST SIGNIFICANT UPDATES
Pro-Russian operations maintain pace; Moscow will increasingly target Baltic states as tensions over Lithuania’s blocking of Kaliningrad grow in the coming weeks.
- On 27 June, the Lithuanian government disclosed that several of the country’s state and private websites were subject to Distributed Denial-of-Service attacks (DDoS). Lithuania’s Deputy Defence Minister, Margiris Abukevicius, claimed that the main targets of this campaign were “state institutions, transport institutions, and media websites”. The pro-Russian hacktivist group Killnet claimed responsibility via the dark web and alleged that these attacks were in response to Vilnius’ decision to block the transit of certain goods to Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave. As such, these attacks are the latest pro-Russian retaliatory cyber campaigns against Lithuania since the Russian hacktivist group Legion – Cyber Spetsnaz RF declared “cyber war” against the country for similar reasons (see Sibylline Cyber Daily Analytical Update – 24 June 2022).
- On 23 June, the National Cyber Security Center of Lithuania (NKSC) warned that the country’s public institutions were increasingly being targeted in Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks. The NKSC claimed that these cyber attacks most severely impacted transport agencies, financial institutions, and other high-profile public entities. This is the latest development since the pro-Moscow hacktivist group Killnet – Legion’s parent group – began targeting Italian government agencies with DDoS activity in early May for similar reasons (see Sibylline Weekly Ukraine Cyber Update – 18 May 2022).
- On 22 June, Microsoft’s Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) disclosed that Russian state-linked hackers had increased their cyber efforts against western governments supporting Ukraine. These threat actors have reportedly targeted 128 entities across 42 countries, including the UK and other NATO member states. Of these entities, the top targeted sectors were government agencies (49 percent), IT (20 percent), critical infrastructure operators (19 percent), and NGOs (12 percent). The MSTIC found that only 29 percent of these Moscow-backed cyber attacks were successful, underlying our assessment that the ongoing cyber assault from pro-Kyiv hackers – including those from the US and the IT Army of Ukraine – and Russia’s poor preparation have severely limited Moscow’s capacity to launch effective cyber operations (see Sibylline Cyber Alert – 23 June 2022).
Pro-Ukraine hackers continue data leak operations; Russian government agencies and critical infrastructure will remain most at-risk for future attacks
- On 24-25 June, a Twitter account purportedly linked to the Anonymous hacktivist collective’s sub-group Team OneFist claimed the hackers disrupted the operations of the Russian Government’s Public Services Portal for one hour. The Public Services Portal’s website claims that it “is part of the infrastructure which provides data exchange and technological interaction of information systems used for rending state and municipal services in electronic form”. If officially confirmed, this would constitute the group’s most notable attack since it claimed on 1 June to have hacked the Federal State Unitary Enterprise in Moscow and leaked sensitive information (see Sibylline Weekly Ukraine Cyber Update – 7 June 2022). With Team OneFist warning that additional disruptive cyber attacks are forthcoming, entities operating in Russia’s critical infrastructure, such as energy or transportation, will be the most at-risk for such activities.
- On 22 June, a separate Twitter account allegedly affiliated with Anonymous claimed that the group hacked and exfiltrated over 30,000 emails from the Ecuadorian Embassy in Moscow. The emails reportedly discussed topics such as expulsion orders for Ecuadorian citizens in Russia and 2013 discussions between Moscow and Quito over the situation regarding US National Security Agency (NSA) whistle-blower Edward Snowden following his asylum in Russia over leaking information on the NSA’s cyber surveillance activities. Ecuador previously declined to provide Snowden asylum because he did not have a valid US passport. Despite the subject matter of this data leak, this incident is consistent with Anonymous’ targeting of foreign government entities and organisations based in Russia as a form of protest against their perceived support of Moscow despite its ongoing military operations in Ukraine.
- On 21 June, the hacktivist collective Anonymous claimed via Twitter to have leaked 41.1 GB of emails from the Russian city Krasnoyarsk’s Public Chamber onto the whistle-blower site Distributed Denial-of-Secrets (DDoSecrets). If officially confirmed, this incident would be indicative of the hacktivist collective’s allegation that they have leaked over 12 m Russian files and emails since declaring “cyber war” against the Russian government in late February and early March. Moreover, it would be consistent with the Russian government’s 20 June disclosure that “Russian information infrastructure” is increasingly being targeted by several cyber threat actors, such as the US, Ukraine, and EU member states.
Publicly-disclosed pro-Russian cyber attacks continued during this monitoring period, with the DDoS attacks in Lithuania presenting the most notable threat. Lithuania’s National Cyber Security Centre (NKSC) warned that “similar or greater intensity” pro-Russian cyber attacks are highly likely to emerge in the coming days. Despite this warning, DDoS attacks are a relatively rudimentary cyber operation that presents a temporary threat to targeted organisations. Indeed, nearly 98 percent of network-layer DDoS attacks in Q4 2021 lasted under an hour according to cyber security firm Cloudflare. While the length of such attacks is likely to be short, the growing quantity of such activity does present an increasing concern for Lithuania-based businesses. Multiple weekly disruptive cyber attacks against Lithuania’s critical infrastructure, such as public transportation, energy, or finance, will likely have knock-on effects for dependent industries and cause short-term but sporadic business disruptions, such as increased transportation costs or product shortages. The implementation of best practices outlined by government organisations, including the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) – such as the enabling of firewall logging of accepted and denied traffic or defining strict “TCP keepalive” or maximum connection on all perimeter devices – should help limit organisations’ exposure to this DDoS risk. Much like during previous monitoring periods, pro-Ukraine hacking groups have continued to engage in data leaking and disruptive cyber operations to express their political grievances over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. There have been no significant escalations or deviations in the Pro-Kyiv-linked cyber intrusions observed during this previous monitoring period. As such, with Anonymous’ sub-groups warning that further cyber attacks are forthcoming, Russia’s critical infrastructure operators – such as energy, telecommunications, or transportation, and/or high-profile Russia-based organisations, such as manufacturing or foreign diplomatic entities, will likely remain the most at-risk for these cyber attacks. Such campaigns will pose a long-term reputational threat to all foreign organisations operating in Russia implicated in these data leaks and could result in regulatory fines being levied under regional data protection frameworks, such as the EU’s GDPR. Pro-Kyiv hackers are also liable to launch other politically motivated cyber attacks, such as defacement or DDoS, as well.
28 June 22. Russia: G7 energy price cap likely to face delays amid concerns over Russian retaliation. On 28 June, leaders of G7 countries reached an agreement to consider options for introducing price caps on Russian oil and gas imports. The move represents a bid to further limit Moscow’s energy revenues, with oil export revenues having increased in May despite a reduction in overall export volumes amid Western sanctions. In addition, G7 governments aim to use the price caps to curb soaring energy prices and inflation. In the coming weeks, G7 leaders will deliberate the details of a price cap, with the US having proposed a plan to lift sanctions on cargo ships that transport Russian oil for countries that agree to buy the supplies at a set maximum cap. However, discussions are likely to face delays amid concerns among some European governments that the introduction of a price cap could prompt Russian retaliation by dramatically cutting energy exports to Europe, compounding existing energy supply chain disruptions and inflationary pressures.
- On 25 June Ukrainian officials confirmed that Russian forces took total control of Severodonetsk and its surrounding settlements on the eastern bank of the Siverskyi Donets River. Ukrainian forces had seemingly completed their withdrawal from the town on 24 June and as such Russian forces now have complete control of the eastern bank of the Siverskyi Donets river south of Izyum. The Ukrainians now occupy elevated ground in Severodonetsk’s sister city Lysychansk across the river. This will provide Ukrainian forces with a significant defensive advantage when compared to the defence of Severodonetsk, and could allow them to hold off Russian attacks for a prolonged period of time if ground lines of communication through Siversk are maintained.
- However, the risk of encirclement continues to grow as Russian forces continue to encroach on southern and western Lysychansk. Fighting is now taking place at the city’s suburbs, including around the city’s Gelatin Factory, in Bila Hora to the southeast and allegedly Privillya to the northwest. The latter remains unconfirmed and would mean that Russian forces have either successfully crossed the river in the north, or have inserted light forces via helicopter. Nevertheless, Russian forces are continuing to tighten the perimeter around Lysychansk, with the last remaining roads out of the salient now under sustained Russian artillery fire.
- Further south, Russian forces completed the capture of Zolote and Hirske on 24-25 June, though it still remains unclear how many Ukrainian soldiers the Russians captured. Nevertheless, the fall of Zolote-Hirske has significantly shortened the frontline by some 30-40km. This will allow Russian forces to redistribute forces along the frontline, both south of Lysychansk but also along the wider Popasna salient frontline to support operations against the T-1302 highway and Bakhmut to the west. Cutting off Lysychansk will remain the primary objective for Russian forces in the Donbas, and the shortened frontline will likely enable Russian commanders to bring to bear their significant advantage in artillery against Ukrainian forces that are keeping supply lines into Lysychansk open. As such, an intensification of attacks to seize the T-1302 highway, which some Russian sources are already claiming is under Russian control, is likely in the coming days.
- Russian offensive operations elsewhere along the frontline have furthermore continued over the weekend, with limited Russian progress of a few kilometres at various points east and southeast of Bakhmut. DNR forces have claimed to have captured Kodema, 15km southeast of Bakhmut, indicating continued steady progress along this axis. Elsewhere, Russian forces continued attacking southeast of Izyum along the M-03 highway towards Slovyansk, but with little to no confirmed progress. Similarly, Russian offensive operations north of Kharkiv have achieved little in recent days, though large stretches of the frontline remain contested as Russian forces attempt to improve their positioning in order to continue threatening Kharkiv.
- The US plans to announce as early as this week that it will purchase a medium-to-long range NASAMS surface-to-air missile defence system for Ukraine. The system can hit targets up to 170km away and once Ukrainian crews are trained on the new system their delivery will augment Ukrainian air defence capabilities, though it remains unclear how many systems are being purchased. Their deployment will nevertheless undermine the Russian Air Force (VKS) room for manoeuvre over Ukraine still further, as Russian forces continue to struggle to deploy air power effectively.
- Nevertheless, a significant intensification of Russian long-range strikes over the weekend indicates continued Russian efforts to degrade Ukrainian air capability. The Ukrainian Air Force Command reported that Russian forces fired over 50 missiles, including ground-, air- and sea-launched systems, at Ukrainian targets this weekend in Chernihiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv, Khmelmytskyi, Kyiv, Lviv, Mykolaiv and Zhytomyr oblasts. This represents one of the most intense long-range coordinated strikes since the beginning of the war. While Ukrainian air defences did intercept a number of these missiles, the wave of attacks supports our assessment that despite diminishing Russian stocks of precision weapons, all areas of Ukraine will remain highly vulnerable to Russian strikes for the foreseeable future.
- One of the most significant strikes was against the Schevchenkivskyi district of Kyiv on 26 June. Russian Tu-95 and Tu-160 bombers launched X101 missiles at extreme range while flying over the Caspian Sea. It was the first major strike to hit central Kyiv since late April and hit in the general vicinity of the Artem State Joint-Stock Holding Company, which manufactures air-to-air missiles, anti-tank missiles and aircraft equipment, among other military systems. Russian sea-launched missiles also struck Yaroviv, while six Tu-22M3 bombers launched a volley of at least 12 cruise missiles over Belarusian airspace against Zhymotyr and Desna. Further missiles also struck residential buildings in Kyiv beyond the Artem factory.
- The significant intensification of long-range strikes came as leaders of the G7 countries gathered for an annual summit in Germany. Given the meeting was in large part focused on sustaining Western military support for Ukraine, it is highly likely that the strikes were a demonstration of strength and capability, though it is highly unlikely to impact the level of support G7 governments will provide Ukraine. Indeed, it could have the opposite effect by refocusing minds on the enduring need to counter Russian long-range capabilities. The G7 is also considering new sanctions on Russia, including on Russian defence supply chains, which are expected to be announced shortly. Moreover, the leaders have also announced a ban on the import of Russian gold, the country’s second-largest export after energy, and are also scheduled to discuss ways to cap the price of Russian oil, in a bid to further punish Moscow economically and deprive it of its key revenue source. The wave of strikes is likely also in part, as predicted, a response to the European Union’s decision to grant both Ukraine and Moldova candidate member status on 23 June.
- Meanwhile, President Putin also said over the weekend that Russia would transfer nuclear-capable missile systems to Belarus in the coming months. The announcement follows Lukashenka reportedly stressing his concerns to Putin regarding what Belarus perceives to be a threat from NATO and the US close to its borders. The move is reflective of increased nuclear posturing following heightened tensions over Kaliningrad and follows Kyiv’s accusations that Moscow is aiming to formally draw Belarus into the war, following missile strikes on 25 June from Belarus on Ukraine’s northern Chernigiv region. Nevertheless, it remains our assessment that Belarus is unlikely to become formally involved in the war at this time, though Russia will likely increasingly use the Belarusian territory to launch similar strikes as well as enhance the perception of a nuclear threat by stationing nuclear-capable missiles on its territory.
- The Russian state news agency TASS reported that another pro-Russian official in the occupied city of Kherson was targeted in a failed assassination attempt. The announcement follows last week’s successful targeting of another member of the Russia-installed military-civilian administration, for which Ukrainian authorities claimed responsibility. A local Ukrainian official also confirmed the assassination attempt, stating that “the occupiers continue to terrorise the population” and forcing locals to take up Russian passports. Since the start of the invasion, Moscow has continuously tried but ultimately failed to project a sense that the local populations wish to join Russia, despite Putin signing a decree streamlining the citizenship process for residents in the area, as well as attempting to mobilise crowds in support of obtaining a Russian passport.
On 24 June Ukrainian intelligence claimed that Russian forces were intending to carry out false-flag attacks in Belarus in order to justify their involvement in the war in Ukraine. According to Ukraine’s Main Directorate of Intelligence (GUR), Russian private military contractors and “sabotage groups” have arrived in Mozyr (around 40km north of the Ukrainian Zhytomyr oblast border). The operatives are reportedly under the orders of Russian military intelligence (GRU) and aim to stage a series of attacks at the Mozyr refinery as well as civilian infrastructure. On 26 June President Volodymyr Zelensky directly appealed to the Belarusian people to resist being drawn into the war. While Russian forces clearly utilised false-flag attacks in eastern Ukraine to justify the initial invasion, Ukrainian GUR intelligence has previously warned of Russian false-flag operations which have subsequently not materialised. As such, it remains unclear if and when such attacks will go ahead. The GUR’s intelligence nevertheless recognises a credible threat, though it ultimately does not significantly alter our assessment that a major ground invasion of northern Ukraine remains unlikely at this stage. Indeed, the GUR took pains on 25 June to emphasise that it considers the Belarusian Army incapable of carrying out an offensive on its own without significant Russian support – support which we in turn assess is unlikely to materialise in the short term given growing Russian manpower shortages in the Donbas. GUR spokesman Vadym Skibitsky stated that there are currently only around 1,500 Russian troops inside Belarus, while Minsk itself has seven battalion tactical groups (BTGs) rotating regularly along the Ukrainian border. Furthermore, Skibitsky assesses that it would take some three to four weeks to establish a joint Russian-Belarusian invasion force, with an additional two to three weeks required just to deploy the Russian forces to Belarus beforehand. As such, this reinforces our assessment that an invasion of northern Ukraine remains unlikely in the next few months, and if it were to happen, we would expect to see several weeks of build-up beforehand which would remain a key warning and indicator for our forecasting. Nevertheless, a false-flag attack inside Belarus could serve the Russian war effort short of triggering an invasion of northern Ukraine. Manpower issues and resistance to mobilisation mean that the Kremlin is likely to see the Belarusian Army as a potential source of regular manpower, which could support its offensive operations elsewhere in Ukraine. The Belarusian Army currently has around 60,000 active personnel of varying to poor quality, and some 300,000 reserves, with Minsk announcing last month that it intends to increase recruitment to boost its force size. As such, a false-flag attack could justify the deployment of Belarusian forces in support roles in eastern Ukraine. Such a move would reflect Moscow’s increasingly desperate need for manpower. However, we also assess that this scenario remains unlikely as the short-term boost to manpower reserves would more likely result in a net strategic loss for the Kremlin. The deployment of Belarusian troops to eastern Ukraine would be extremely unpopular inside Belarus, placing additional manpower pressures on security forces to maintain order. In addition, it would also ease the pressure on Ukrainian forces screening the northern border, potentially allowing for their redeployment to the Donbas. Such a move would also expose Belarus’ western and southern border to not only Ukrainian strikes but, arguably more importantly, NATO deployments. Given the heightened tensions with neighbouring Lithuania and Moscow’s threats to retaliate over the Kaliningrad transit ban, it would be an inopportune time for the Kremlin to commit Belarusian forces to Ukraine, as this would inevitably reduce the pressure on the Lithuanian and Polish borders and thus limit the coercive leverage available to the Kremlin during the dispute.
24 June 22. Lithuania-Russia: Lithuania-based public entities will continue to be targeted by pro-Moscow threat actors amid rising tensions with Vilnius. On 23 June, the National Cyber Security Center of Lithuania (NKSC) warned that the country’s public institutions were increasingly being targeted in Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks. The NKSC claimed that these cyber attacks most severely impacted transport agencies, financial institutions, and other high-profile public entities. These cyber disruptions follow the Russian hacktivist group Legion – Cyber Spetsnaz RF’s 21 June Telegram post which declared cyber war on Lithuania over Vilnius’ decision to block the transit of certain goods to Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave. As such, this incident is consistent with Pro-Moscow hacking groups’ pledge to defend Russia against punitive actions undertaken by the west over its invasion of Ukraine. This is the latest development since the pro-Moscow hacktivist group Killnet – Legion’s parent group – began targeting Italian government agencies with DDoS activity in early May for similar reasons (see Sibylline Weekly Ukraine Cyber Update – 18 May 2022). Further pro-Russia cyber attacks are highly likely to be launched against EU-based critical infrastructure in the coming weeks, especially as pro-Moscow hackers step up retaliatory efforts to western allies’ enforcement of sanctions on Russia.
30 June 22. Ukraine: Belarusian Invasion Threat. Today, 30 June, Belarusian sources reported that summons have been sent out en masse to Belarusians ordering them to present themselves at military enlistment offices. It remains unclear at this stage whether the orders indicate an impending mass conscription of Belarusian citizens, or preparations to call up reservists. The orders reportedly stated that the summons were to facilitate “training to gather personnel for the formation of territorial defence in the event of a military threat”. The summons have reportedly been addressed to both men and women eligible for military service, including reservists, but have also reportedly addressed individuals not fit for military service.
Ahead of Belarus’ Independence Day on 3 July, President Alyaksandr Lukahsenka has today in a state address said that he will fight to protect Belarusian independence, claiming that NATO forces are building up along the country’s eastern and northern border. The announcement is almost certainly in response to this week’s NATO Madrid Summit, where the alliance pledged to significantly increase its forces in Eastern Europe.
The reports are the latest escalation in Belarusian military posturing amid growing concerns in Kyiv that Russia is attempting to bring Minsk more directly into the war in Ukraine. On 24 June, Ukrainian intelligence claimed that Russian forces were intending to carry out false-flag attacks in Belarus in order to justify their involvement. However, despite the seeming escalation and growing military preparedness, it remains our assessment that Belarus is unlikely to launch a concerted offensive against northern Ukraine in the coming weeks. (Source: Sibylline)
04 Jul 22. Ukraine withdraws from battered Lysychansk city; Russia claims major victory.
- City was last Ukrainian stronghold in Luhansk region
- Russia says has “liberated” Luhansk region
- Zelenskiy vows to regain control with long-range weapons
- Blasts hit Russia’s Belgorod, southern Ukraine base -officials
Ukraine’s forces have withdrawn from the bombed-out city of Lysychansk, prompting Russia to claim full control of the eastern Luhansk region, a key Kremlin war goal, but President Volodymyr Zelenskiy vowed to regain the lost territory.
Ukraine on Sunday said the tactical withdrawal would save the lives of its soldiers who would regroup, to launch a counter offensive with the help of long-range Western weapons.
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But Moscow said the capture of Lysychansk less than a week after taking neighbouring Sievierdonetsk meant it had “liberated” Luhansk. It said it will give Luhansk to the self-proclaimed Russian-backed Luhansk People’s Republic whose independence it recognised on the eve of the war.
The battlefield focus now shifts to the neighbouring Donetsk region, where Kyiv still controls swathes of territory.
“If the commanders of our army withdraw people from certain points at the front, where the enemy has the greatest advantage in firepower, and this also applies to Lysychansk, it means only one thing,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly video on Sunday.
“That we will return thanks to our tactics, thanks to the increase in the supply of modern weapons.”
Zelenskiy said Russia was concentrating its firepower on the Donbas front, but Ukraine would hit back with long-range weapons such as the U.S.-supplied HIMARS rocket launchers.
“The fact that we protect the lives of our soldiers, our people, plays an equally important role. We will rebuild the walls, we will win back the land, and people must be protected above all else,” Zelenskiy said.
Since abandoning an assault on the capital Kyiv, Russia has concentrated its military operation on the industrial Donbas heartland that comprises the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, where Moscow-backed separatist proxies have been fighting Ukraine since 2014.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu informed President Vladimir Putin that Luhansk had been “liberated”, the defence ministry said, after Russia earlier said its forces had captured villages around Lysychansk and encircled the city. read more
Ukraine’s military command said its forces had been forced to retreat from the city.
“The continuation of the defence of the city would lead to fatal consequences. In order to preserve the lives of Ukrainian defenders, a decision was made to withdraw,” it said in a statement on social media.
Ukrainian officials, who say references to “liberating” Ukrainian territory are Russian propaganda, had reported intense artillery barrages on residential areas.
West of Lysychansk in Donetsk region, at least six people were killed when the Ukrainian city of Sloviansk was hit by powerful shelling from multiple rocket launchers on Sunday, local officials said. read more
Thousands of civilians have been killed and cities levelled since Russia invaded on Feb. 24, with Kyiv accusing Moscow of deliberately targeting civilians. Moscow denies this.
Russia says what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine aims to protect Russian speakers from nationalists. Ukraine and its Western allies say this is a baseless pretext for flagrant aggression that aims to seize territory.
While Russia would try to frame its advance in Luhansk as a significant moment in the war, it came at a high cost to Russia’s military, said Neil Melvin of the London-based think tank RUSI.
“Ukraine’s position was never that they could defend all of this. What they’ve been trying to do is to slow down the Russian assault and cause maximum damage, while they build up for a counteroffensive,” he said.
Zelenskiy said Russia had “brutally” struck Kharkiv, Kramatorsk and Sloviansk with rocket attacks, leaving six dead and 20 wounded in Sloviansk alone.
Russia’s defence ministry also said on Sunday it had struck the military infrastructure of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city in the northeast, where a Reuters reporter said Ukrainian forces had been building fortifications after nightly shelling.
Outside a school in Kharkiv, some residents threw debris into a large crater created by an early morning rocket strike while others got help repairing damaged houses.
“The wife was lucky that she woke up early in the morning because the roof fell exactly where she had been sleeping,” one resident, Oleksii Mihulin, told Reuters.
About 70 km (44 miles) from Kharkiv on the Russian side of the border, Russia also reported explosions on Sunday in Belgorod, which it said killed at least three people and destroyed homes. read more
“The sound was so strong that I jumped up, I woke up, got very scared and started screaming,” a Belgorod resident told Reuters, adding the blasts occurred around 3 a.m. (0000 GMT).
Moscow has accused Kyiv of numerous attacks on Belgorod and other areas bordering Ukraine. Kyiv has never claimed responsibility for any of these incidents. read more
MILITARY BASE HIT
Ukraine said its air force had flown some 15 sorties “in virtually all directions of hostilities”, destroying equipment and two ammunition depots.
In the Russian-occupied southern Ukrainian city of Melitopol, Ukrainian forces hit a military logistics base with more than 30 strikes on Sunday, the city’s exiled mayor Ivan Fedorov said. A Russian-installed official confirmed that strikes had hit the city. read more
Reuters could not independently verify the battlefield reports.
Ukraine has repeatedly appealed for an acceleration in weapons supplies from the West, saying its forces are heavily outgunned. (Source: Reuters)
01 Jul 22. $820m in Additional Security Assistance for Ukraine. This afternoon, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced $820m in additional security assistance for Ukraine. This includes an authorization of a Presidential Drawdown of security assistance valued at up to $50 m, as well as $770m in Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) funds.
The PDA authorization is the fourteenth drawdown of equipment from DoD inventories for Ukraine that the Biden Administration has authorized since August 2021. Capabilities in this package include:
- Additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).
Under USAI, the DoD will provide Ukraine with critical capabilities to defend against Russian aggression. Included in this package are:
- Two National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS);
- Up to 150,000 rounds of 155mm artillery ammunition; and
- Four additional counter-artillery radars.
Unlike Presidential Drawdown, USAI is an authority under which the United States procures capabilities from industry rather than delivering equipment that is drawn down from DoD stocks. This announcement represents the beginning of a contracting process to provide additional capabilities to Ukraine’s Armed Forces.
The United States has now committed approximately $7.6 bn in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden Administration, including approximately $6.9 bn since the beginning of Russia’s unprovoked invasion on February 24. Since 2014, the United States has committed more than $8.8 bn in security assistance to Ukraine.
The United States continues to work with its Allies and partners to provide Ukraine with capabilities to meet its evolving battlefield requirements. In particular, DoD recognizes Norway’s cooperation to enable the historic provision by the United States of modern air defense systems that will help Ukraine defend against Russia’s brutal air attacks. (Source: US DoD)
01 Jul 22. Russians Retreat From Snake Island, Says DOD Official.
The Defense Department does not believe there is any credence to Russia saying its retreat from Snake Island (in the Black Sea area of Ukraine) was a gesture of goodwill, said a senior DOD official today, who took questions from the Pentagon press regarding Russia and Ukraine.
“We view this development as that the Ukrainians were very successful at applying significant pressure on the Russians, including by using Harpoon missiles that they recently acquired to attack a resupply ship. When you realize how barren and deserted Snake Island is, you understand the importance of resupply. So, the Ukrainians made it very hard for the Russians to sustain their operations there made them very vulnerable to Ukrainian strikes. So, that of course, is why Russia left the island,” the official said.
The result of this is that it does make it a lot easier for Ukraine to defend Odesa and in the future to be able to open those sea lanes without Russia controlling Snake Island, the official added.
Fighting continues in the Donbas, the official said, with high casualties on both sides and very little ground changing hands.
Regarding the recent deliveries of High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems from the U.S. Ukrainian forces have had good success in employing these longer-range artillery systems, to include targeting Russian command posts, the official said.
In other related news, this afternoon, DOD announced $820m in additional security assistance for Ukraine. This includes an authorization of a presidential drawdown of security assistance valued at up to $50m, as well as $770m in Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, or USAI funds.
The presidential drawdown authorization is the fourteenth drawdown of equipment from DOD inventories for Ukraine that the president has authorized since August 2021. Capabilities in this package include additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems.
Under USAI, the department will provide Ukraine with:
- Two National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems;
- Up to 150,000 rounds of 155 mm artillery ammunition; and
- Four additional counter-artillery radars.
Unlike presidential drawdowns, USAI is an authority under which the United States procures capabilities from industry rather than delivering equipment that is drawn down from DOD stocks. This announcement represents the beginning of a contracting process to provide additional capabilities to Ukraine’s armed forces.
The United States has now committed approximately $7.6 bn in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden Administration, including approximately $6.9 bn since the beginning of Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24. Since 2014, the United States has committed more than $8.8 bn in security assistance to Ukraine, according to the Pentagon. (Source: US DoD)
30 June 22. Ukraine conflict: Baykar to commit entire Bayraktar production to Ukraine. Turkey’s Baykar will devote all its capacities to meet the needs of the Ukrainian armed forces, Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said on 28 June. Reznikov said that having received 50 Bayraktar TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) from Baykar since Russia’s invasion in late February, the Turkish company is to devote its energies to fulfiling Ukraine’s requirement for “dozens more” of the aircraft. The defence minister’s comment came a day after Baykar said it was to donate a further three Bayraktars to Ukraine that had been crow funded, in addition to a Bayraktar that Lithuania had acquired on Ukraine’s behalf. At the same time, Reznikov said that Ukraine and Turkey are continuing work to build a joint Baykar plant in Ukraine to locally build the UCAVs, an agreement for which was signed before the Russian invasion. “These are plans for the mid-term, [but for now] it is about ordering dozens more UAVs,” he said, adding that a new batch of Bayraktars is expected to be received in mid-July. (Source: Janes)
30 June 22. Norway and the UK to provide more M270 MLRS units to Ukraine. Norway will also donate 5,000 grenades and the UK will contribute more forces to Nato to deal with future threats. The Government of Norway has announced that it will cooperate with the UK to transfer M270 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) to Ukraine. As part of efforts to arm the Ukrainian forces with more weapon support, Norway will transfer three units of MLRS to the UK.
Norwegian Defence Minister Bjørn Arild Gram said: “Our weapons are in need of a significant modernisation, so we agreed with the British that they will receive Norwegian weapons to be able to ship [as] part of their MLRS to Ukraine.”
According to open data, the Ukraine Armed Forces currently possess 12 M270 MLRS units.
Norway will also donate 5,000 grenades to Ukraine, in addition to the 5,000 grenades provided earlier.
Gram added: “It is important that there is ammunition in Ukraine for the weapon systems that were already delivered.
“This [M270 MLRS] is a weapon that has range and accuracy and is, therefore, a significant contribution.”
The M270 MLRS is a 227mm, highly mobile, rocket artillery system manufactured by Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. It fires surface-to-surface rockets and army tactical missile systems.
At a Nato summit held in Madrid, alliance leaders decided on a stronger forward defence posture in the wake of Russia’s unprovoked assault on Ukraine.
During the summit, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced an increased contribution to the organisation to ensure stability across Europe.
Under Nato’s New Force Model, the UK will provide RAF Typhoon and F-35B Lightning fighter jets, vessels, and brigade-sized land forces to the alliance’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).
It will also support the new Allied Reaction Force, which is a multi-domain force formed to respond during crisis situations.
The country also plans to enhance the lethality of its deployments in Estonia with helicopters and artillery systems.
US President Joe Biden said that the country will increase its troop presence in Europe.
At present, over 100,000 US service members are deployed across Europe.
Biden said: “In Poland, we’re going to establish a permanent headquarters of the US 5th Army Corps and strengthen Nato interoperability across the entire eastern flank.”
In order to strengthen Nato’s deterrence and defence posture in Latvia, Canadian Minister of National Defence Anita Anand signed a joint declaration with Latvian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Dr Artis Pabriks. As per the agreement, Canada will continue to lead Nato forces as the Framework Nation in Latvia and establish elements of a forward brigade command and control. Earlier this month, the UK proposed a new training programme for the Ukrainian armed forces. (Source: army-technology.com)
30 June 22. UK announces further £1bn in military support to Ukraine. Next phase of UK military support will enhance and sustain Ukraine’s resistance to the Russian invasion.
- Next phase of UK military support will enhance and sustain Ukraine’s resistance to the Russian invasion
- Brings total UK military and economic support to £3.8bn this year
- Announcement comes as President Zelenskyy addresses NATO leaders, calling for urgent support to help Ukraine turn the tide in the war
The UK will provide another £1 bn of military support to Ukraine, the Prime Minister has announced at the NATO Leaders’ Summit today (Thursday 30th June).
This uplift to funding will herald a new phase in the international community’s support to Ukraine. It will go towards capabilities including sophisticated air defence systems, uncrewed aerial vehicles, innovative new electronic warfare equipment and thousands of pieces of vital kit for Ukrainian soldiers.
It represents the first step in enabling Ukraine to go beyond their valiant defence against the illegal Russian invasion to mounting offensive operations against Russian ground forces in order to restore Ukrainian sovereignty
The UK is leading the way in providing vital military assistance to Ukraine. Today’s announcement brings the total UK military support since the outbreak of war to £2.3bn – more than any country other than the United States. Support so far includes more than 5,000 NLAW anti-tank missiles made in Northern Ireland, long-range multiple launch rocket systems, artillery systems, including 155mm self propelled guns, and rapid design and production of short to medium range persistent loitering munitions by a UK start-up company.
Last week the Prime Minister also announced the UK was offering a comprehensive new training programme to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, helping them build long-term endurance in the face of continuing Russian barbarism.
The UK’s support to Ukraine represents the highest rate of UK military spending on a conflict since the height of the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. Speaking at a special meeting of NATO leaders addressed by President Zelenskyy yesterday the Prime Minister called on allies to step up their support to provide the strategic resilience Ukraine needs.
The Prime Minister said: “Putin’s brutality continues to take Ukrainian lives and threaten peace and security across Europe. As Putin fails to make the gains he had anticipated and hoped for and the futility of this war becomes clear to all, his attacks against the Ukrainian people are increasingly barbaric. UK weapons, equipment and training are transforming Ukraine’s defences against this onslaught. And we will continue to stand squarely behind the Ukrainian people to ensure Putin fails in Ukraine.”
As well as bolstering and sustaining the Ukrainian Armed Forces, UK military support is supporting the thriving UK defence industry. Last week the Defence Secretary gathered representatives of the UK defence sector in Downing Street to discuss how to boost production in response to the increased demand created by the conflict in Ukraine.
UK defence companies are stepping up to provide the vital support Ukraine needs. We have provided £100 m worth of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles through a company based in Berkshire. These orders have allowed the company to significantly upscale their production and have used the lessons from the conflict in Ukraine to inform development of their products, advancing several years of development which will directly benefit both the UK and the defence industry.
The MoD has also launched a £25m innovation fund to harness niche technologies within UK small & medium size enterprises. The fund will accelerate the development of equipment for the Ukrainian armed forces with the competition focusing on bolstering the existing provision for artillery, coastal defence and aerial systems.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Britain’s commitment to Ukraine is real and constant and we will stand by them until Russia changes course. This military assistance will help them intensify their fight against Russian aggression and ensure they have the defence capabilities they need.”
The UK’s military support for Ukraine is in addition to the £1.5bn of humanitarian and economic support provided to the country since February. This support for Ukraine is in addition to the new commitments the Prime Minister announced to NATO’s collective defences at the Summit yesterday. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
30 June 22. Russia steps up attacks in Ukraine after landmark NATO summit.
- NATO brands Russia most ‘significant and direct threat’
- Ukraine lauds ‘difficult but essential decisions’ by NATO
- Putin: Russia will respond to NATO moves in Finland, Sweden
- Russian missile attacks intensify across Ukraine
– Russia pressed on with its offensive in eastern Ukraine on Thursday after NATO branded Moscow the biggest “direct threat” to Western security and agreed plans to modernise Kyiv’s beleaguered armed forces.
Ukrainian authorities said they were trying to evacuate residents from the frontline eastern city of Lysychansk, the focus of Russia’s attacks where about 15,000 people remained under relentless shelling.
“Fighting is going on all the time. The Russians are constantly on the offensive. There is no let-up,” regional Governor Serhiy Gaidai told Ukrainian television.
Russian troops had attacked the Lysychansk oil refinery on Thursday morning, Gaidai later wrote on Telegram.
The ambassador of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic told Russia’s RIA news agency the Lysychansk oil refinery was now fully controlled by Russian and pro-Russian forces, and all roads to Lysychansk were also under their control.
Russian forces are trying to encircle Lysychansk as they seek to capture the Donbas region, which comprises Donetsk and Luhansk provinces.
At a summit on Wednesday dominated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the geopolitical upheaval it has caused, NATO invited Sweden and Finland to join and pledged a seven-fold increase from 2023 in combat forces on high alert along its eastern flank.
In reaction, President Vladimir Putin said Russia would respond in kind if NATO set up infrastructure in Finland and Sweden after they join the U.S.-led military alliance. read more
Putin was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying he could not rule out that tensions would emerge in Moscow’s relations with Helsinki and Stockholm over their joining NATO.
U.S. President Joe Biden announced more land, sea and air force deployments across Europe from Spain in the west to Romania and Poland bordering Ukraine.
These included a permanent army headquarters with accompanying battalion in Poland – the first full-time U.S. deployment on NATO’s eastern fringes. read more
“President Putin’s war against Ukraine has shattered peace in Europe and has created the biggest security crisis in Europe since the Second World War,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference, committing to put 300,000 NATO troops on high readiness from 2023. “NATO has responded with strength and unity.” read more
Britain said it would provide another 1 bn pounds ($1.2 bn) of military support to Ukraine, including air defence systems, uncrewed aerial vehicles and new electronic warfare equipment. read more
UKRAINE PLEADS FOR MORE WEAPONS
As the 30 national NATO leaders were meeting in Madrid, Russian forces intensified attacks in Ukraine, including missile strikes and shelling on the southern Mykolaiv region close to front lines and the Black Sea.
The mayor of Mykolaiv city said a Russian missile had killed at least five people in a residential building there, while Moscow said its forces had hit what it called a training base for foreign mercenaries in the region.
Attacks on the northeastern city of Kharkiv continued, Ukraine’s military said, with shelling from tanks, mortars and missiles.
Video showed police and emergency workers examining the destroyed remains of a factory and damaged residential buildings in Kharkiv on Wednesday.
“Where, why and what they (Russians) targeted is unclear, yet. We are figuring out where they aimed because there are no military units in that area,” Volodymyr Tymoshko, chief of Kharkiv region police told Reuters.
In the southern Kherson region, Ukrainian forces were fighting back with artillery strikes of their own, Oleskiy Arestovych, adviser to the Ukrainian president, said in a video posted online.
A video clip aired on Russia’s RIA state news agency showed former U.S. soldier Alexander Drueke, who was captured while fighting for Ukrainian forces. read more
“My combat experience here was that one mission on that one day,” said Drueke, from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, referring to the day he was captured outside Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. “I didn’t fire a shot. I would hope that would play a factor in whatever sentence I do or don’t receive.”
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy once again told NATO that Ukrainian forces needed more weapons and money, and faster, to erode Russia’s huge edge in artillery and missile firepower, and said Moscow’s ambitions did not stop at Ukraine.
The Russian invasion that began on Feb. 24 has destroyed cities, killed thousands and sent ms fleeing. Russia says it is pursuing a “special military operation” to rid Ukraine of dangerous nationalists. Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of an unprovoked, imperial-style land grab. The top U.S. intelligence official Avril Haines said on Wednesday the most likely near term scenario is a grinding conflict in which Moscow makes only incremental gains, but no breakthrough on its goal of taking most of Ukraine.
In a nod to the precipitous deterioration in relations with Russia since the invasion, a NATO communique called Russia the “most significant and direct threat to the allies’ security”, having previously classified it as a “strategic partner”.
NATO issued a new Strategic Concept document, its first since 2010, that said a “strong independent Ukraine is vital for the stability of the Euro-Atlantic area”.
To that end, NATO agreed a long-term financial and military aid package to modernise Ukraine’s largely Soviet-era military.
“We stand in full solidarity with the government and the people of Ukraine in the heroic defence of their country,” the communique said.
30 June 22. Ukrainian troops train in Britain to use advanced rocket systems. Hundreds of Ukrainian troops have completed military training in Britain, including on the Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) the British government is supplying to help counter Russian artillery tactics.
Media were invited to film Ukrainian troops loading and firing 105mm light guns during exercises in Salisbury, southern England – one part of a British-led programme that has been undertaken by more than 450 Ukrainian armed forces with support from New Zealand. The MLRS systems were also shown in use.
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The training is part of a wide-ranging international support package following Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24, as the West seeks to help Ukraine repel Russian forces by providing increasingly advanced weapons systems and skills to use them.
Moscow says it is conducting a “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine and rid it of “fascists”. Ukraine and its Western allies say Russia is waging an unprovoked war of aggression.
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“It’s a force multiplier,” Captain James Oliphant of the Royal Artillery, who was involved in the three-week MLRS training element, told reporters.
“Because it’s a tracked vehicle – their rockets systems are wheeled – it is going to give them more manoeuvrability which is going to aid in their survivability.”
On Wednesday Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told NATO leaders his country needed more weapons and money to defend itself as Russia intensified its attacks across several fronts. read more
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During a surprise visit to Kyiv this month British Prime Minister Boris Johnson – lauded by Zelenskiy as a “great friend” – announced a separate training operation for Ukrainian forces, with the potential to train up to 10,000 soldiers every 120 days.
British trainers praised the attitude of their Ukrainian counterparts.
“Their appetite at the beginning was, as you can imagine, extremely high and very needy but as they have become more atuned and accustomed to being able to operate the system that has started to calm down,” Oliphant said.
“They’re now in a position where the battery commander himself is now exercising his troops under his own doctrine and tactics.” (Source: Reuters)
29 June 22. Ukraine is set to receive a new weapons system in its conflict with Russia – the Norwegian Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems or NASAMS. Designed to provide medium to long-range air defence against aircraft, cruise missiles or drones, NASAMS can fire short-range AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles plus the medium-range AIM-120 – identical to the missiles used on fighter aircraft. The latest version uses the GhostEye radar system originally developed for the Patriot air defence system. The system has a limited range of about 20 miles, meaning it is best suited to defend key infrastructure and population centres. (Source: Forces.net)
27 June 22. Russia to provide nuclear-capable missiles and fighter jets to Belarus. Russia will provide nuclear-capable Iskander-M missiles to Belarus and upgrade the country’s fighter jets to allow them to carry tactical atomic weapons, President Vladimir Putin said over the weekend.
A “decision was made in our country: Within the next several months, we will transfer to Belarus the Iskander-M tactical missile systems, which are known to use both ballistic and cruise missiles, both conventional and nuclear,” Putin said on June 25 following a meeting with his Belarusian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko.
During the same meeting, Lukashenko asked the Russian dictator to upgrade his country’s Sukhoi Su-25 fighter jets to allow them to carry nuclear weapons. The Belarusian leader claimed this would enable the country’s air force to mirror NATO drills.
“We are very concerned about training flights by the U.S. and NATO airplanes, which practice carrying nuclear warheads and nuclear weapons,” Lukashenko said. “Therefore, I ask you to consider an equivalent response to these actions, without overdoing it.”
Putin replied that Belarusian fighter jets could be fitted with additional gear at Russian aviation plants, and Russia’s military could provide training to their pilots.
The Belarusian military “has a fairly big number of Su-25 planes. They can be respectively re-equipped,” he said.
The financial details of the potential upgrade were not disclosed. Industry publications estimate Belarus operates 67 Su-25s, which makes the fighter jet the most prevalent combat aircraft in the country’s fleet.
The latest development comes as the two countries are tightening their military cooperation in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Belarus supports Russia’s war, and its authoritarian leader has long requested Putin to provide his country’s armed forces with Iskander missile systems, claiming Belarus could be invaded by NATO’s member states.
Alliance members have no such intentions.
Last February, Minsk held a referendum which enabled the country’s authorities to modify the constitution’s article describing Belarus as a “nuclear-free zone” and a “neutral” state, potentially enabling Russia to deploy additional nuclear weapons along NATO’s eastern flank.
On Saturday, Russia launched dozens of missiles on several areas across the country far from the heart of the eastern battles. Some of the missiles were fired from Russian long-range Tu-22 bombers deployed from Belarus for the first time, Ukraine’s air command said.
Belarus hosts Russian military units and was used as a staging ground before Russia invaded Ukraine, but its own troops have not crossed the border. (Source: Defense News)
24 June 22. Fact Sheet on U.S. Security Assistance to Ukraine.
The United States has committed approximately $6.8bn in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden Administration, including approximately $6.1bn since the beginning of Russia’s unprovoked invasion on February 24.
On June 23, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced the authorization of a Presidential Drawdown of security assistance valued at up to $450 m for Ukraine. This authorization is the thirteenth drawdown of equipment from DoD inventories for Ukraine since August 2021.
United States security assistance committed to Ukraine includes:
- Over 1,400 Stinger anti-aircraft systems;
- Over 6,500 Javelin anti-armor systems;
- Over 20,000 other anti-armor systems;
- Over 700 Switchblade Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems;
- 126 155mm Howitzers and 260,000 155mm artillery rounds;
- 36,000 105mm artillery rounds;
- 126 Tactical Vehicles to tow 155mm Howitzers;
- 19 Tactical Vehicles to recover equipment;
- Eight High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and ammunition;
- 20 Mi-17 helicopters;
- Hundreds of Armored High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles;
- 200 M113 Armored Personnel Carriers;
- Over 10,000 grenade launchers and small arms;
- Over 59,000,000 rounds of small arms ammunition;
- 75,000 sets of body armor and helmets;
- 121 Phoenix Ghost Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems;
- Laser-guided rocket systems;
- Puma Unmanned Aerial Systems;
- Unmanned Coastal Defense Vessels;
- 22 counter-artillery radars;
- Four counter-mortar radars;
- Four air surveillance radars;
- Two harpoon coastal defense systems;
- 18 coastal and riverine patrol boats;
- M18A1 Claymore anti-personnel munitions;
- C-4 explosives and demolition equipment for obstacle clearing;
- Tactical secure communications systems;
- Thousands of night vision devices, thermal imagery systems, optics, and laser rangefinders;
- Commercial satellite imagery services;
- Explosive ordnance disposal protective gear;
- Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear protective equipment;
- Medical supplies to include first aid kits;
- Electronic jamming equipment;
- Field equipment and spare parts;
- Funding for training, maintenance, and sustainment.
The United States also continues to work with its Allies and partners to identify and provide Ukraine with additional capabilities to defend itself. (Source: US DoD)
24 June 22. Two Security Assistance Packages for Ukraine Contribute to Coastal, Waterway Defense. In the last month, the U.S. pledged more than $1.4 bn in security assistance to Ukraine. Some of that assistance is aimed at helping the Ukrainian military better defend their coast and waterways.
On Thursday, the U.S. promised $450m in security assistance through presidential drawdown authority — the 13th such outlay this year. Included in that package were 18 coastal and riverine patrol boats.
Earlier this month, the U.S. pledged $1 bn in support through both presidential drawdown authority and the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. Included in that support package were, among other things, two Harpoon coastal defense systems.
Included in the package announced Thursday are two 35-foot, small-unit riverine craft; six 40-foot maritime combat craft; and ten 34-foot, Dauntless Sea Ark patrol boats.
“These are largely to protect the riverways and to enable Ukraine to maintain its control of the riverways. They can also be used in … close-in coastal areas,” said a senior defense official during a briefing today at the Pentagon.
To contribute to coastal defense, the official said, the United States, along with partner and allied nations, have provided the Harpoon system. Earlier this month, the U.S. committed to the donation of two Harpoon launch systems, which the Ukrainians have asked to have mounted on trucks. Other nations have also agreed to provide the Harpoon missiles themselves to be used in those launchers.
“This will be helpful in enabling the Ukrainians to defend … Odessa and other positions along the Black Sea coast,” the official said.
In addition to the coastal and riverine patrol boats, the latest presidential drawdown authority security assistance package to Ukraine includes four High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS; 36,000 rounds of 105 mm ammunition; 18 tactical vehicles with which to move 155 mm artillery; 1,200 Mk 19 grenade launchers; and 2,000 machine guns.
“Obviously with each of these packages, we provide a lot of spare parts,” the official said. “We want to make sure they can keep the systems up and running.”
The United States is not alone in providing military assistance to the Ukrainians, who have been defending their sovereignty against an unprovoked and illegal invasion by Russia since February.
“This isn’t just a U.S.-only effort,” the official said. “We’re really proud of Secretary Austin’s leadership through the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, where he has brought together … roughly 50 defense ministers from around the world, certainly many Europeans but also others from other parts of the world, to show their support for Ukraine and to provide tangible support.”
Last week in Brussels, the official said, 50 nations participated in the Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting.
“At that meeting, we heard 20 countries announcing new donations,” the official said. “When I talk about the HIMARS system, this is part of the category of multiple-launch rocket systems, and the allies are also providing these systems.”
Germany, the official said, has promised the M270 MLRS system, while the U.K. is already providing that system. Slovakia, Canada and Poland are also providing additional artillery capabilities.
“It really is a global effort and one that we are happy to be playing a leadership role in,” the official said. (Source: US DoD)
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