Ukrainian sources indicated that Russian forces are concentrating limited, understaffed, and incohesive forces in the Sumy direction, but even such a Russian grouping of forces will be able to achieve the likely desired effect of drawing and fixing Ukrainian forces in the international border area. The deputy commander of a Ukrainian brigade operating in northern Kharkiv Oblast reported on May 20 that Russian forces, including Chechen forces, are accumulating in the Sumy direction but that the limited number of Russian personnel suggests that the Russian objective is to draw and fix Ukrainian forces to the international border area. Ukrainian military observer Kostyantyn Mashovets stated on May 20 that the Russian grouping in Kursk Oblast consists of 9,00010,000 personnel. Mashovets stated that this grouping consists of up to three under-strength motorized rifle regiments (each lacking one to two battalions); eight motorized rifle, tank, and infantry battalions; and one airborne (VDV) battalion all redeployed from various units, formations, and military districts; and at least two assault detachments at the echelon of a reinforced company or an under-strength battalion. Mashovets also reported on May 5 that an unspecified VDV battalion is part of the Russian grouping in Kursk Oblast, and a Russian milblogger (who has an avowed bias against the VDV and "Dnepr" Grouping of Forces Commander Colonel General Mikhail Teplinsky) claimed that the Russian 3rd VDV Battalion of the 104th VDV Regiment (76th VDV Division) is in Kursk Oblast. ISW continues to assess that even limited Russian activity in other areas of the international border below the threshold of Russian offensive operations could have the effect of stretching Ukrainian forces along a wider front and that Russian forces will be able to draw and fix Ukrainian forces to this area as long as Russia threatens penetrations of other border areas beyond northern Kharkiv Oblast.

Key Takeaways:

Ukrainian sources indicated that Russian forces are concentrating limited, understaffed, and incohesive forces in the Sumy direction, but even such a Russian grouping of forces will be able to achieve the likely desired effect of drawing and fixing Ukrainian forces in the international border area.

Kremlin officials expressed their condolences to senior Iranian officials following the announcement of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi's and Foreign Affairs Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian's deaths on May 20.

Russian President Vladimir Putin fired Russian Deputy Defense Minister Colonel General Yury Sadovenko on May 20, replacing him with former Deputy Economic Minister and current Federation Council Accounts Chamber Auditor Oleg Savelyev.

Putin also dismissed Presidential Advisor Alexandra Levitskaya on May 20, but the reason for Levitskayas dismissal is unclear.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reiterated the White House's unwillingness to approve Ukraine's use of US-provided weapons in strikes against military targets in Russia following a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group (also known as the Ramstein format) on May 20.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas stated that some unspecified countries, presumably NATO member states, have already sent personnel to train Ukrainian soldiers "on the ground."

Russian Security Council Deputy Chairperson Dmitry Medvedev amplified a known Russian information operation aimed at directly undermining Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's legitimacy as president.

Russian forces recently made confirmed advances near Vovchansk, Chasiv Yar, Avdiivka, and Donetsk City and in western Zaporizhia Oblast and the Dnipro River Delta.

Russian opposition outlet Vazhnye Istorii (iStories) reported that Russian military authorities and Kazakh law enforcement acting on Russian orders detained at least two more servicemen in Kazakhstan who had deserted from the Russian military.

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The Kremlin continues to time its nuclear saber-rattling to coincide with major policy discussions in the West as part of a Kremlin reflexive control campaign to influence Western decision-makers. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed on May 21 that missile elements of the Southern Military District (SMD) began the first stage of non-strategic (tactical) nuclear weapons exercises. The Russian MoD claimed that Russian Aerospace Forces will also exercise with Iskander ballistic missiles and Kinzhal aeroballistic missiles. The Russian MoD announced the preparations for these exercises on May 6. A prominent Kremlin-awarded milblogger explicitly tied Russian tactical nuclear weapons exercises to Kremlin efforts to influence Western decision-making particularly targeting the recent discussions about the restrictions on Ukraine's use of Western-provided weapons to strike military targets in Russia echoing ISW's assessment that Russia's tactical nuclear weapons tests are part of a Kremlin reflexive control campaign that often uses nuclear saber-rattling to influence Western decision-makers to engage in self-deterrence. Reflexive control is a key element of Russias hybrid warfare toolkit it is a tactic that relies on shaping an adversary with targeted rhetoric and information operations in such a way that the adversary voluntarily takes actions that are advantageous to Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reiterated to the New York Times (NYT) on May 20 that Russia currently enjoys a sanctuary in Russian territory from which Russian forces can conduct missile and glide bomb strikes against Ukraine and launch offensive operations with forces amassed in the international border area, as is the case with the ongoing limited Russian offensive in northern Kharkiv Oblast. ISW continues to assess that US and Western policies limiting Ukraine's ability to strike military targets in Russia are severely compromising Ukraine's ability to defend itself against current Russian offensive operations in northern Kharkiv Oblast or any area along the international border where Russian forces may choose to conduct offensive operations in the future.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky indicated that the limited Russian offensive in northern Ukraine is achieving its goal of drawing attention away from intense Russian offensive operations in eastern Ukraine. Zelensky stated in an interview with Reuters published on May 20 that the situation in northern Kharkiv Oblast is now stable but that no one is paying attention to the wave of Russian offensive operations in Donbas in the Chasiv Yar (Bakhmut), Pokrovsk (Avdiivka), and Kurakhove (west of Donetsk City) directions. Zelensky stated that the situation in northern Kharkiv Oblast has been stable for about a week, which is consistent with the slowing pace of Russian advances in the Lyptsi (north of Kharkiv City) and Vovchansk directions following the initial few days of relatively rapid tactical advances. Russian forces recently intensified their efforts to seize the operationally-significant town of Chasiv Yar west of Bakhmut as the tempo of operations in northern Kharkiv Oblast decreased, highlighting how the northern Kharkiv Oblast effort aims to draw and fix Ukrainian forces and create opportunities for Russian forces elsewhere in the theater. As ISW has consistently reported, Russian forces' most immediate prospect for operationally-significant gains remains the Chasiv Yar direction, as seizing Chasiv Yar would enable Russian forces to set conditions to attack part of a "fortress belt" of cities forming the backbone of Ukraine's Donetsk Oblast defenses, and Russian forces likely seek to exploit unfavorable situations for Ukrainian forces defending near Chasiv Yar and Avdiivka before US military assistance arrives at the frontlines at scale. The Ukrainian General Staff has reported for the past week that Russian forces maintain a higher tempo of offensive operations in the Avdiivka direction even as the situation in northern Kharkiv Oblast has stabilized.

The Russian military command reportedly initially planned that Russian forces would quickly make significant advances in northern Kharkiv Oblast, but the limited force grouping deployed to the area suggests that the Russian military command likely changed these plans in the lead up to offensive operations in Kharkiv Oblast. The Economist reported on May 20 that it viewed Russian military plans from an unspecified date about a planned Russian offensive in the Kharkiv City and Vovchansk directions. The Russian plans reportedly called for Russian forces to advance to Borshchova (about 20 kilometers northeast of Kharkiv City and about 16 kilometers from the international border) within 72 hours in order to place Russian forces within tube artillery range of Kharkiv City. The Russian plans also reportedly called for Russian forces to advance to Pechenihy (south of Vovchansk and about 50 kilometers from the international border) in an unspecified time frame. The Russian offensive was reportedly initially planned to begin May 15 to 16, and the Economist stated that it is unknown why Russian forces pushed forward their offensive operations in northern Kharkiv Oblast to May 10 instead. ISW assesses that Russian forces have advanced a maximum of about 10 kilometers deep in the Kharkiv City direction and a maximum of about seven kilometers deep in the Vovchansk direction since May 10. Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Deputy Chief Major General Vadym Skibitskyi reported on May 2 that Russian forces had concentrated about 35,000 personnel in the international border area and planned to concentrate a total of 50,000 to 70,000 personnel. Russian forces reportedly launched offensive operations in northern Kharkiv Oblast when the Northern Grouping of Forces was understrength and have only committed a limited amount of combat power to the area thus far.

Key Takeaways:

The Kremlin continues to time its nuclear saber-rattling to coincide with major policy discussions in the West as part of a Kremlin reflexive control campaign to influence Western decision-makers.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky indicated that the limited Russian offensive in northern Ukraine is achieving its goal of drawing attention away from intense Russian offensive operations in eastern Ukraine.

The Russian military command reportedly initially planned that Russian forces would quickly make significant advances in northern Kharkiv Oblast, but the limited force grouping deployed to the area suggests that the Russian military command likely changed these plans in the lead up to offensive operations in Kharkiv Oblast.

Russian authorities recently arrested the former commander of the 58th Combined Arms Army (CAA), Major General Ivan Popov, on fraud charges.

The Kremlin is likely using the pattern of recent arrests of high-ranking officials on corruption charges in the Russian MoD to conceal the real reasons for Popov's punishment almost 10 months after his conflict with the Russian military command and subsequent dismissal from his command position.

Satellite imagery indicates that Ukrainian forces likely damaged the Russian Black Sea Fleet's (BSF) Tsyklon small missile ship in occupied Sevastopol, Crimea on May 19.

Russian forces recently made confirmed advances near Vovchansk, Kreminna, Chasiv Yar, and Donetsk City.

A Russian milblogger claimed that frequent Ukrainian drone strikes against Russian vehicles that lack electronic warfare (EW) systems along the frontline have created an "urgent" shortage of off-road vehicles.

Russian authorities continue to illegally and forcibly deport Ukrainian citizens, including children, to Russia and to forcibly remove Ukrainian citizens deeper into occupied Ukraine.

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The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) proposed on May 21 that the Russian government reassess Russias maritime borders in the Baltic Sea so that these borders correspond to the modern geographical situation. The Russian MoD produced a since-deleted document, which appeared on the Russian governments legal portal on May 21, proposing that the Russian government should reassess the 1985 maritime borders in the Gulf of Finland because these borders were based on outdated small-scale nautical navigation maps developed in the mid-20th century. The document proposed to partially recognize the 1985 resolution as defunct. The document suggested that the Russian government should adjust the maritime border coordinates in the Gulf of Finland in the zone of Jhi, Sommers, Gogland, Rodsher, Malyy Tyuters, and Vigrund islands and near the northern delta of the Narva River. The document also proposed that the Russian government revise the area of the Curonian Spit, Cape Taran, a cape south of Cape Taran, and the Vistula Spit in the Baltic Sea. Sommers, Gogland, Rodsher, Malyy Tyuters, and Vigrund island are under Russian control, while Russia and Finland split control over the Jhi island. The northern delta of the Narva River is located between Russia and Estonia, while the Curonian Spit leads to the international border between Russia and Lithuania. The Vistula Spit (also known as the Baltic Spit in Russia) is split between Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia and Poland, and Cape Taran is just northwest of Kaliningrad City. The document stated that these proposed changes would establish a system of baselines for maritime borders on the southern part of the Russian islands in the eastern part of Gulf of Finland as well as in the areas of Baltiysk and Zelenogradsk, both in Kaliningrad Oblast. The document also noted that these changes will allow Russia to use corresponding water areas as Russian internal sea waters, and that the line of the Russian state border will shift due to the changes in the position of the external border of the territorial sea.

Kremlin and Russian MoD officials denied on May 22 that Russia is planning to change the Russian maritime border, but invertedly implied that the Russian government is considering undertaking some security measures in the Baltic Sea. Russian state news agencies Ria Novosti and TASS published statements from unnamed military-diplomatic sources, who claimed that Russia did not have and does not have any intentions of revising the state border line, economic zone, and continental shelf in the Baltic . Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that the Russian MoDs proposal is not politically motivated, despite the fact that the political situation has changed significantly since 1985. Peskov added that the escalation of tensions and the increased level of confrontation in the Baltic region requires appropriate steps from relevant Russian agencies to ensure security. Russian officials did not explain why the MoD proposal was removed from the governments legal portal.

Western officials noted that Russia may be reassessing the basis for maritime borders in order to revise maritime zones in the Baltic Sea. Finnish Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen stated on May 22 that the Finnish Foreign Ministry (MFA) is reviewing the reports about Russia's reassessment and that Finland expects Russia to act according to the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea. Finnish Prime Minister stated that Russia's review of maritime borders will likely be routine and that Finland is not worried about the reassessment. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis announced that Lithuania summoned the Russian charge d'affaires in connection with the reassessment. The Lithuanian MFA told Politico that Lithuania sees Russias actions as deliberate, targeted, escalatory provocations to intimidate neighboring countries and their societies. The Lithuanian MFA added that the Russian MoDs proposal is further proof that Russias aggressive and revisionist policy is a threat to the security of neighboring countries and Europe as a whole. Swedish Commander-in-Chief Mikael Byden expressed concern about Russian ambitions in the Baltic Sea and warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin aims to control the Baltic Sea and that Putin has his eyes on the island of Gotland. Byden did not rule out the possibility that Russia is already using oil tankers to conduct reconnaissance and sabotage in the Baltic Sea and near Gotland.


Key Takeaways:

The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) proposed on May 21 that the Russian government reassess Russias maritime borders in the Baltic Sea so that these borders correspond to the modern geographical situation.

Kremlin and Russian MoD officials denied on May 22 that Russia is planning to change the Russian maritime border, but invertedly implied that the Russian government is considering undertaking some security measures in the Baltic Sea.

Western officials noted that Russia may be reassessing the basis for maritime borders in order to revise maritime zones in the Baltic Sea.

The Kremlin appears to be developing a system to legalize the status of Russia's so-called compatriots abroad, likely as part of its efforts to set information conditions to justify further aggression and hybrid operations abroad as protecting Russia's compatriots.

United Kingdom (UK) Defense Minister Grant Shapps stated on May 22 that US and UK intelligence have evidence that the People's Republic of China (PRC) is now or will be providing lethal military assistance to Russia, a statement that US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan questioned.

Western officials warned that Russian intelligence services intend to increase sabotage activities and other hybrid operations against NATO member countries.

US Space Command reported on May 21 that Russia recently launched an anti-satellite weapon, the most recent report that Russia intends to field disruptive anti-satellite capabilities.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan indirectly accused Russia and directly accused Belarus of helping Azerbaijan to prepare for the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War, against the backdrop of deteriorating Armenian-Russian relations.

Ukrainian forces recently recaptured territory near Vovchansk and Chasiv Yar, and Russian forces recently marginally advanced near Vovchansk, Avdiivka, Donetsk City, and Velyka Novosilka.

Russian courts reportedly began forcibly hospitalizing Russians charged with political crimes such as spreading fake information about the Russian military, in psychiatric hospitals.

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How Delays in Western Aid Gave Russia the Initiative: From the Ukrainian Counteroffensive to Kharkiv

Ukraine and the West have defeated a months-long Russian effort to persuade the West to abandon Ukraine and set conditions to collapse Ukrainian defenses. Russian forces have conducted offensive operations since Fall 2023 that aimed to convince the West to abandon its commitment to Ukraine, and prolonged US debates about security assistance likely convinced the Kremlin that its efforts had partially succeeded. The effects of continued delays in US and Western security assistance set conditions for Russian forces to make more significant gains on the battlefield than they had previously been able to make, and the Russian military command likely concluded that Russian forces would be able to collapse the Ukrainian frontline at some point in the near to medium term. Ukrainian forces nevertheless prevented Russian forces from making operationally significant advances and limited the areas where Russian forces managed to make tactically significant gains even as Western supplies dwindled. The US decision to resume aid in late April 2024 and Europe's increasing efforts to mobilize support for Ukraine marked the failure of Russia's effort to convince the West to accept Russian victory. The course of operations over the past seven months has likely convinced Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian military command that continuous Russian offensive operations will let Russia gradually subsume Ukraine and destroy Ukrainian statehood piece by piece, however. Putin has likely concluded that weakening Western support for Ukraine over time is a valid theory of victory for him and will likely continue efforts to convince the West to surrender and allow Russia to destroy Ukrainian statehood. Putin and the Russian military also appear to have concluded that Ukraine will be unable to regain territories the Russians can seize and that creeping Russian advances even at high cost will therefore ultimately lead to overall Russian success. These apparent Russian assessments will encourage Putin to continue the war in pursuit of ultimate total victory.

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The Kremlin is pursuing a concerted effort to remove senior Russian defense officials and has likely expanded this effort to senior officers commanding Russian combat operations in Ukraine. The Russian Investigative Committee announced on May 23 the arrests of Russian Deputy Chief of the General Staff and Head of its Main Communications Directorate Lieutenant General Vadim Shamarin and Head of the Russian Ministry of Defense's (MoD) Department for State Procurement, Vladimir Verteletsky. Shamarin is accused of accepting a bribe of at least 36 million rubles (about $392,000), and two defendants in the Russian telecommunications industry have agreed to testify against him. Verteletsky is accused of corruption and accepting a large bribe with total damages of 70 million rubles (about $763,000). Five senior Russian MoD officials and former military commanders have been arrested on corruption charges since the arrest of Russian Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov on April 24, and a Russian insider source previously claimed that six more MoD officials plan to resign following former Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu's removal from the MoD. The Kremlin is likely using the guise of corruption charges as an excuse to hide the real reasons for ousting specific individuals from the MoD who have fallen from favor, as ISW has recently assessed.

Russian ultranationalist milbloggers also claimed that the Russian MoD dismissed the commander of the 20th Combined Arms Army (Moscow Military District , formerly Western Military District ), Lieutenant General Sukhrab Akhmedov. ISW is unable to confirm Akhmedov's removal, but claims of his removal are notable as this would be the first removal of an officer actively commanding Russian forces in Ukraine as a part of the most recent round of dismissals. The 20th CAA is currently heavily committed to offensive operations in the Lyman direction and failed to achieve significant tactical gains in the area during the Winter-Spring 2024 offensive on the Kharkiv-Luhansk axis. The milbloggers also directly connected Akhmedov's arrest with significant command issues in Ukraine, referencing their prior complaints about Akhmedov by name for his role in commanding attritional Russian assaults near Vuhledar, Donetsk Oblast in winter 20222023 when he commanded the 155th Naval Infantry Brigade or his role in Russian forces suffering significant casualties due to a Ukrainian rear area strike in summer 2023.

Key Takeaways:

The Kremlin is pursuing a concerted effort to remove senior Russian defense officials and has likely expanded this effort to senior officers commanding Russian combat operations in Ukraine.

Russian border guards removed buoys in Estonian waters of the Narva River, which demarcates the Estonian-Russian international border, likely to set conditions to further question maritime borders and test NATO resolve.

Select US officials are reportedly pressing for a reconsideration of the White House's current policy prohibiting Ukraine from using US-provided weapons to strike within Russia.

Polish Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Pawel Wronski stated on May 23 that Poland is considering using its air defense to protect Ukrainian airspace against Russian strikes.

Ukraines Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) conducted a series of drone strikes against Russian defense industrial facilities in the Republic of Tatarstan on May 23.

Iranian leaders have used the occasion of President Ebrahim Raisi's funeral events to emphasize close ties with Armenia even as tensions between Yerevan and Moscow continue to increase.

Ukrainian forces advanced near Lukyantsi and Kreminna, and Russian forces advanced near Berestove, Chasiv Yar, Avdiivka, Donetsk City, and Velyka Novosilka.

The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) proposed applying regular military punishments to volunteers, likely as part of the MoD's continued formalization efforts.

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Western media continues to report that Russian President Vladimir Putin is interested in a negotiated ceasefire in Ukraine, although Kremlin rhetoric and Russian military actions illustrate that Putin remains uninterested in meaningful negotiations and any settlement that would prevent him from pursuing the destruction of an independent Ukrainian state. Reuters reported on May 24 that four Russian sources who currently work or have worked with Putin stated that Putin is ready to negotiate a ceasefire that recognizes the current frontlines and that Putin is prepared to present the current amount of occupied Ukrainian territory as a Russian military victory to the Russian public. Western media reported similar interest from Putin in a negotiated ceasefire or settlement based on statements from unspecified Russian sources with some level of alleged connection to Putin or the Kremlin in December 2023 and January and February 2024. Western media has cited limited unspecified US and international officials as confirming that Putin has expressed interest in a ceasefire, although other Western media has reported that US sources have denied that there has been any official Russian outreach to the US on the matter.

The Kremlin routinely feigns interest in meaningful negotiations as part of a longstanding information operation that aims to persuade the West to make concessions on Ukrainian territorial integrity and sovereignty, and it is unclear if the unspecified Russian sources talking to Western media are advancing these efforts or accurately portraying Putin's interests and viewpoints. ISW cannot determine the veracity of the Russian sources' claims about Putin's intentions, and these private anonymous statements contrast sharply with Russian official public rhetoric and action. Putin and the Kremlin have notably intensified their expansionist rhetoric about Ukraine since December 2023 and have increasingly indicated that Russia intends to conquer more territory in Ukraine and is committed to destroying Ukrainian statehood and identity completely. Russian forces have conducted offensive operations in recent months that aim to make operationally significant advances and collapse the frontline, have opened a new front in Kharkiv Oblast (which Russia has not claimed through illegal annexation), and have sought to cause long-term damage to Ukrainian warfighting capabilities and economic potential in regular large-scale missile and drone strikes. These military operations suggest that the Kremlin is more interested in achieving its long-term goal of maximalist victory in Ukraine than in any settlement that would immediately freeze the frontline where it is currently located.

Key Takeaways:

Western media continues to report that Russian President Vladimir Putin is interested in a negotiated ceasefire in Ukraine, although Kremlin rhetoric and Russian military actions illustrate that Putin remains uninterested in meaningful negotiations and any settlement that would prevent him from pursuing the destruction of an independent Ukrainian state.

Russian sources that have spoken to Western media have also offered mutually contradictory characterizations of Putin's stance on negotiations.

These Russian sources notably highlighted territorial concessions as part of Putin's alleged envisioned ceasefire but have sparsely addressed the wider strategic objectives of Putin's war in Ukraine.

A ceasefire does not preclude Russia from resuming its offensive campaign to destroy Ukrainian statehood, and Russia would use any ceasefire to prepare for future offensive operations within Ukraine.

Russia is currently preparing for the possibility of a conventional war with NATO, and the Kremlin will likely view anything short of Ukrainian capitulation as an existential threat to Russia's ability to fight such a war.

The Kremlin will continue to feign interest in negotiations at critical moments in the war to influence Western decision-making on support for Ukraine and to continue efforts to extract preemptive concessions from the West.

Putin directly rejected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's legitimacy as president on May 24, the latest in a series of efforts to dismiss Zelensky's authority to engage in or reject negotiations with Russia and undermine Ukrainians' trust in Zelensky.

Unnamed Russian government officials and sources within the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and the Kremlin told the independent Russian outlet The Moscow Times that the ongoing effort to remove senior Russian defense officials and uniformed commanding officers will likely continue in the coming weeks and months.

Ukrainian forces conducted a series of successful missile strikes against military targets in Russian-occupied Ukraine on May 23 and 24.

Ukrainian forces reportedly conducted a drone strike against a Russian early warning radar system in Krasnodar Krai, Russia on the morning of May 23.

The Ukrainian military command continues to address Ukraine's manpower challenges.

The US Department of Defense (DoD) announced a military assistance package worth $275 million on May 24 to help Ukrainian forces repel Russian offensive operations in northern Kharkiv Oblast.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated on May 24 that NATO member states should consider lifting restrictions on Ukraine's use of Western-provided weapons to strike military targets in Russia.

Russian forces recently advanced near Vovchansk, Svatove, Kreminna, and Donetsk City.

The Financial Times (FT) reported on May 23 that Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksandr Lytvynenko stated that Russia recruited more than 385,000 military personnel in 2023.

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Ukrainian and Russian sources stated that Ukrainian forces are increasingly contesting the tactical initiative in northern Kharkiv Oblast and characterized Russian operations in the area as defensive, although Russian forces are likely attempting to bring the Northern Grouping of Forces up closer to its reported planned end strength before possibly intensifying offensive operations in the area. The Ukrainian General Staff reported on May 24 that Ukrainian forces are pushing Russian forces back from Ukrainian defenses in northern Kharkiv Oblast. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that Ukrainian forces established "combat control" over an unspecified section of the border where Russian forces had initially crossed into northern Kharkiv Oblast following the start of Russian offensive operations on May 10. A Ukrainian commander operating in the Lyptsi direction (north of Kharkiv City) stated that Ukrainian forces have completely stopped Russian offensive operations in the Strilecha-Hlyboke direction (north of Lyptsi) and that Ukrainian forces are now focused on regaining territory in the area. The commander stated that Ukrainian forces are successfully pushing Russian forces out of captured positions but that Russian forces are saturating the area with manpower and equipment to prevent Ukrainian forces from seizing the tactical initiative. A prominent Kremlin-affiliated milblogger claimed that Russian forces have partially transitioned to the defensive in northern Kharkiv Oblast after consolidating captured positions and are currently focused on destroying reserves that Ukrainian forces have concentrated near Kharkiv City. The milblogger assessed that Ukrainian forces would have to launch counterattacks in the area at the end of May 2024 to push Russian forces out of northern Kharkiv Oblast and that future Russian plans on this axis likely depend on the outcome of Ukrainian counterattacks. Russian forces launched their offensive operation into northern Kharkiv Oblast with limited manpower and have yet to commit significant reserves to the area, leading to a decreasing tempo of Russian advances and offensive operations. This decreasing tempo is likely presenting Ukrainian forces with tactical opportunities to counterattack, although Ukrainian forces are not yet conducting a limited counteroffensive operation that aims to push Russian forces completely out of northern Kharkiv Oblast.

The disparate Russian elements currently operating in northern Kharkiv Oblast and the Russian military's apparent hesitance to commit available reserves to fight suggests that Russian forces are likely attempting to bring the Northern Grouping of Forces up to its reported planned end strength before intensifying offensive operations and pursuing subsequent phases of the offensive operation in northern Kharkiv Oblast. Russian forces reportedly had roughly 35,000 personnel in the international border area as a part of the Northern Grouping of Forces when they started offensive operations on May 10, whereas Ukrainian sources had been indicating that the Russian military intends to concentrate a total of 50,000 to 70,000 personnel in the international border area. Russian forces likely launched the offensive operation in northern Kharkiv Oblast earlier than intended with an understrength force hoping to establish a foothold before the arrival of resumed US military aid to the front made that task more difficult. Ukrainian sources have identified elements of the 11th Army Corps , 44th AC, and 6th Combined Arms Army as the main elements of the Northern Grouping of Forces, and limited elements of these formations have participated in the offensive operation and have reportedly suffered significant casualties. Zelensky stated in an interview published on May 25 that Russian forces have suffered an eight-to-one casualty ratio in northern Kharkiv Oblast in the past two weeks, although these losses do not appear to have forced the Russian military to commit significant reserves from the 11th AC, 44th AC, or 6th CAA to sustain Russian offensive operations in the area.

Instead, Russian forces appear to be relying on limited elements of units that are part of various different force groupings in eastern Ukraine. Limited elements of the 47th Tank Division's 153rd Tank Regiment and 272nd Motorized Rifle Regiment (1st Guards Tank Army , Moscow Military District ) and limited elements of the 2nd Motorized Rifle Division's 1st Motorized Rifle Regiment (1st GTA, MMD) are reportedly operating near Vovchansk (northeast of Kharkiv City). Elements of the 47th Tank Division and the 2nd Motorized Rifle Division are currently heavily committed to intensified Russian offensive operations along the Kupyansk-Svatove line, and Ukrainian military observer Kostyantyn Mashovets previously reported that the Russian Western Grouping of Forces is "leasing" limited elements to the Northern Grouping of Forces. Elements of a battalion of the 98th Airborne (VDV) Division's 217th VDV Regiment are reportedly operating in a border area in Kursk Oblast, even though elements of the 217th VDV Regiment and other elements of the 98th VDV Division are participating in intensified assaults on Chasiv Yar's eastern outskirts. Russian forces have either been attacking with an understrength 217th VDV Regiment in the Chasiv Yar area for some time or have recently transferred a battalion of the regiment to the Northern Grouping of Forces.

Russian forces are likely holding back reserves of the 11th AC, 44th AC, and 6th CAA in order to establish the Northern Grouping at closer to its intended end strength. The Russian military command may be waiting to intensify offensive operations and pursue a second phase of the operation because its plans require a grouping of 50,000 to 70,000 personnel strong. Russian forces likely intend to launch the second phase of their offensive operation in northern Kharkiv Oblast following their intended seizure of Vovchansk, although positional fighting and possible Ukrainian counterattacks could require Russian forces to conduct another wave of intensified assaults in the area to complete the seizure of the settlement. Russian forces currently aim to establish a "buffer zone" in northern Kharkiv Oblast and advance to within tube artillery range of Kharkiv City, and it is unclear which goal a second phase of the operation will support or if Russian forces have a more ambitious operational objective in mind. The Northern Grouping of Forces, even at the upper limit of its reported end strength, will lack the necessary manpower needed to conduct a successful operation to envelop, encircle, or seize Kharkiv City.

Key Takeaways:

Ukrainian and Russian sources stated that Ukrainian forces are increasingly contesting the tactical initiative in northern Kharkiv Oblast and characterized Russian operations in the area as defensive, although Russian forces are likely attempting to bring the Northern Grouping of Forces up closer to its reported planned end strength before possibly intensifying offensive operations in the area.

The likely premature start of Russian offensive operations appears to have undermined Russian success in northern Kharkiv Oblast.

Russian forces continue to leverage their sanctuary in Russian airspace to strike Kharkiv City to devastating effect, likely as part of efforts to depopulate the city and demoralize Ukrainians.

Russian electronic warfare (EW) capabilities reportedly impacted the effectiveness of select Western weapon systems in Ukraine in 2023 as Ukraine and Russia continue to compete in a technical offense-defense race.

Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov categorically rejected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's legitimacy and outlined Russia's maximalist conditions for peace negotiations during an interview with Newsweek on May 25.

Russia is likely helping North Korea develop its defense industrial base (DIB) in exchange for North Korean munitions supplies, and US officials reportedly assess that Russia may also be supplying North Korea with military equipment, weapons, or technology.

Russian forces recently made confirmed advances near Donetsk City.

The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) has canceled its annual "Army Games" international competition for the second year in a row, prompting celebration among critical Russian ultranationalist milbloggers.

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Russian forces are reportedly concentrating forces of unspecified size in western Belgorod Oblast near the border with Ukraine, likely to fix and draw Ukrainian forces to the area and prepare for offensive operations that aim to expand the Russian foothold in the international border area in northeastern Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated on May 26 that Russian forces are preparing for new offensive actions and are concentrating a grouping of an unspecified size near the Ukrainian border 90 kilometers northwest of Kharkiv City. Zelensky appears to be referring to the Grayvoron-Borisovka-Proletarskiy area in western Belgorod Oblast, and ISW has observed satellite imagery of the area that suggests that Russian forces have expanded activities at depots and warehouses in settlements in the area in recent weeks. The current size of the possible Russian force concentration in the Grayvoron-Borisovka-Proletarskiy area remains unclear, however. Ukrainian State Border Service Representative Andrei Demchenko stated on May 26 that Russian forces may launch offensive operations into Sumy Oblast or areas of Kharkiv Oblast bordering Sumy Oblast in order to stretch and fix Ukrainian forces further along the international border area in northeastern Ukraine.

The Grayvoron-Borisovka-Proletarskiy area would notably offer Russian forces opportunities to launch offensive operations to the south in the direction of Zolochiv and Bohodukhiv, two Ukrainian towns northwest of Kharkiv City within 25 kilometers of the international border, or to the west in the direction of settlements along the P-45 highway that connects Bohodukhiv with Sumy City. Russian forces could pursue offensive operations in either one or both directions, and the Russian concentration here could be intended to cause Ukrainian forces to commit manpower and materiel to a wider section of the border in Kharkiv and Sumy oblasts. Russian forces are also concentrating limited forces in Kursk and Bryansk oblasts close to the border with Sumy Oblast, and even limited concentrations in the areas could aim to achieve the likely desired effect of further drawing and fixing Ukrainian forces in the international border area. Russian forces are currently bringing the Northern Grouping of Forces in the international border area up to its reported planned end strength and will likely launch only limited offensive operations along the Sumy-Kharkiv axis until the Northern Grouping of Forces is closer to its end strength. Even limited Russian offensive operations in these areas will add pressure that stretches Ukrainian manpower and materiel along a wider front and possibly allow Russian forces to establish tactical footholds to support subsequent operations either northwest of Kharkiv City or in the direction of Sumy City. The Northern Grouping of Forces, even at the upper limit of its reported end strength, will lack the necessary manpower needed to conduct a successful operation to envelop, encircle, or seize Kharkiv or Sumy cities, however.

Key Takeaways:

Russian forces are reportedly concentrating forces of unspecified size in western Belgorod Oblast near the border with Ukraine, likely to fix and draw Ukrainian forces to the area and prepare for offensive operations that aim to expand the Russian foothold in the international border area in northeastern Ukraine.

Western officials continue to publicly debate Ukraine's right to use Western-provided weapons to strike military targets in Russia amid Russian efforts to persuade the West to continue its self-imposed limitations and divide the NATO alliance.

Russia's defense industrial base (DIB) will reportedly manufacture and refurbish three times as many artillery shells as the West will produce in 2024, although Russian shells reportedly suffer from quality-control issues and Ukrainian artillery is reportedly more precise than Russian artillery.

Kremlin officials continue to indicate that Russia is not interested in meaningful negotiations with Ukraine and promote Kremlin information operations that aim to push the West to make concessions on Ukraine's sovereign territory and people.

Russian forces recently made confirmed advances near Svatove, Avdiivka, and Donetsk City.

Former Wagner Group fighters reportedly continue to form new units under Rosgvardia and Chechen Akhmat Spetsnaz.

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The NATO Parliamentary Assembly called on member states to lift their prohibitions against Ukraine using Western-provided weapons to strike within Russian territory. The NATO Parliamentary Assembly adopted a declaration on May 27 calling for NATO states to support Ukraine's "international right" to defend itself by lifting "some restrictions" on Ukraine's use of Western weapons to strike Russian territory. The declaration also calls for member states to accelerate their deliveries of critical weapons to Ukraine, and more than 200 representatives of NATO member states supported the declaration. Some NATO states, including the UK, have already lifted such restrictions on weapons they provide to Ukraine, but not enough Western states have done so to allow Ukraine to challenge Russia's sanctuary from which it can freely conduct airstrikes or stage ground operations against Ukraine. Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson told Swedish outlet Hallandsposten on May 26 in response to a question about Ukraine using Swedish-provided weapons against Russian territory that Sweden supports Ukraine's right under international law to defend itself through combat operations against Russian territory so long as these operations comply with international laws on combat.

Key Takeaways:

The NATO Parliamentary Assembly called on member states to lift their prohibitions against Ukraine using Western-provided weapons to strike within Russian territory.

Spain signed a 10-year bilateral security agreement with Ukraine on May 27.

Ukrainian forces continued to target Russian long-range early warning radar systems and oil and gas infrastructure within Russia on May 26 and 27.

Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly told German Chancellor Olaf Scholz before Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine that Ukraine is not an independent state and that Russia can unilaterally and forcibly change Ukraine's borders.

The New York Times (NYT) reported on May 26 that Western intelligence officials stated that the Russian General Staff's Main Directorate (GRU) are behind a series of low-level sabotage operations throughout Europe that aim to disrupt Western arms supplies to Ukraine and create the appearance of a European movement opposing support for Ukraine.

Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi stated on May 27 that he signed documents that will allow French military instructors to visit training centers in Ukraine.

The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) offered to help Armenia mitigate the effects of flooding in northern Armenia, although Armenia has not publicly requested help from Russia.

Russian officials are considering delisting the Taliban as a prohibited organization in Russia and will likely do so in the near term.

Russia may sign an agreement with the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) exchanging weapons for a Russian logistics hub at Port Sudan on the Red Sea.

Ukrainian forces recently made confirmed advances near Lyptsi and Russian forces advanced near Svatove and northwest of Avdiivka.

Russian forces continue formalization efforts for irregular units.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin grossly misrepresented the Ukrainian Constitution and Ukrainian domestic law on May 28 in order to further promote the Kremlin information operation claiming that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is no longer the legitimate president of Ukraine. Putin claimed on May 28 during a press conference in Tashkent, Uzbekistan that the Ukrainian Constitution provides for the extension of the powers of the Verkhovna Rada but "does not say anything about the extension of the powers of the president." Putin claimed that although the Ukrainian law on martial law prohibits presidential elections during martial law, which Ukraine was under for one month in 2018 and has been under since Russia's full-scale invasion in 2022, "this does not mean that are prolonged." Putin cited Article 111 of the Ukrainian Constitution, which he alleged provides that "in this case...presidential powers are transferred to the speaker of the parliament." Putin claimed that "the only legitimate authority" remaining in Ukraine is the Verkhovna Rada and the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada. Putin claimed that "if wanted to hold presidential elections, then the law on martial law would have been abolished...and elections would be held."

Russian allegations about Zelensky's lack of legitimacy are a known Kremlin information operation that Kremlin officials have been promoting extensively in recent weeks, in part targeted at foreign audiences. Putin made similar claims rejecting Zelensky as the president of Ukraine during a press conference in Minsk, Belarus on May 24. Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov also denied Zelensky's legitimacy in an interview with Newsweek on May 25. Putin's May 28 allegations contain specific legal jargon and references - largely incorrect or taken out of their legal context - to the text of the Ukrainian Constitution and laws. Putin is likely purposely inflating his statements with such nuanced legalese language to make it seem that he is highly educated in Ukrainian legal matters and is a definitive voice on the matter. The use of such language is likely also meant to cause listeners to believe Putin's false narratives without fact-checking, as legal jargon is inherently dense and opaque. The Ukrainian Constitution and the law relating to martial law, however, are not so opaque that a normal reader cannot understand them. The fact that Kremlin officials have recently promoted these narratives in detail at events in foreign countries and major Western publications suggests that this Kremlin information operation is largely aimed at foreign predominantly Western audiences.

Key Takeaways:

Russian President Vladimir Putin grossly misrepresented the Ukrainian Constitution and Ukrainian domestic law on May 28 in order to further promote the Kremlin information operation claiming that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is no longer the legitimate president of Ukraine.

Ukrainian Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada Ruslan Stefanchuk directly responded to Putin's deliberate misinterpretation of Ukrainian law and explicitly stated that the Ukrainian Constitution and laws stipulate that Zelensky remain in office until the end of martial law in Ukraine.

Russian allegations about Zelensky's lack of legitimacy are a known Kremlin information operation that Kremlin officials have been promoting extensively in recent weeks, in part targeted at foreign audiences.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)'s Committee on Culture supported a resolution that recognizes Russia's deliberate erasure of Ukrainian culture as an element of Russia's genocidal campaign in occupied Ukraine, consistent with ISW's longstanding assessment that Russia is pursuing a broad occupation strategy premised on eradicating Ukraine's national identity and independence.

Russian authorities are preparing to intensify the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia throughout Summer 2024, further consolidating another component of Russia's genocidal campaign in Ukraine.

Iran's continued support for Russia's defense industrial base (DIB) and provision of lethal aid to Russia is bolstering Russia's technological output and military capabilities on the battlefield in Ukraine.

The Georgian Parliament overrode Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili's veto of Georgia's Russian-style "foreign agents" law in an 84-to-4 vote on May 28.

A limited segment of the Russian ultranationalist information space has resumed its standard public criticisms of the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and warned that new Defense Minister Andrei Belousov may not solve certain systemic issues within the Russian MoD and military.

Portugal and Belgium both signed long-term bilateral security agreements with Ukraine on May 28.

Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed support on May 28 for delisting the Taliban as a prohibited organization in Russia, indicating that Russia will likely do so soon.

Ukrainian forces recently made confirmed advances near Lyptsi, and Russian forces recently made confirmed advances near Avdiivka and the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area.

The Russian military is reportedly intensifying efforts to recruit citizens from Central African countries to fight in Ukraine.

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Advisor to the Head of the Ukrainian President's Office Mykhaylo Podolyak stated that US-provided military aid has started arriving on the frontline but that it will take "weeks" for the gradual increase in US-provided military aid to reach "critical volumes." Podolyak told Bloomberg in an article published on May 29 that Russian forces currently have the "absolute advantage" in shells and missiles and that Russian forces will continue to try to advance along the frontline presumably to take advantage of the time before US military assistance arrives in sufficient quantities at the front. Podolyak warned that Russia may be trying to force Ukraine and its allies to freeze the current frontline a situation that ISW has long assessed would be advantageous to Russia by giving the Russian military time to reconstitute and prepare for renewed aggression against Ukraine. Additional Western military assistance will also likely take time to reach the frontlines and to be properly integrated into Ukrainian frontline troop formations. Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala stated on May 28 that the first "tens of thousands" of 155mm artillery ammunition sourced through the Czech-led initiative for Ukraine will arrive in Ukraine within "days."

Sweden announced its 16th and largest military aid package to Ukraine, worth 13.3 billion kronor (about $1.25 billion), on May 29. The Swedish Ministry of Defense (MoD) reported that the package includes ASC 890 Airborne Surveillance and Control aircraft (the Swedish version of an airborne early warning and control airborne radar system) and RB 99-AMRAAM medium-range air-to-air missiles (that are also modified to be ground-to-air) to strengthen Ukrainian air defense capabilities, additional 155mm artillery ammunition, and "the entire Swedish stock" of Pansarbandvagn 302 armored vehicles among other provisions.

Western officials are increasingly suggesting that they support Ukraine's right to use Western-provided weapons to strike military targets in Russia. French President Emmanuel Macron stated on May 28 at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that France supports Ukraine's use of French-provided weapons to strike Russian "military sites from which missiles are fired" and other Russian "military sites from which Ukraine is attacked" in Russian territory. Macron noted that Ukraine should not strike "other military" or civilian targets in Russia, likely referring to Russian sites that are not actively involved in attacks on Ukraine. Scholz stated at the May 28 press conference that Germany recognizes Ukraine's right to defend itself against Russian strikes under international law as long as "regulations" on Ukraine's use of Western-provided weapons are "within the framework of international law." Scholz's recognition of Ukraine's right to strike military targets on Russian territory is notable as it defines the issue in terms of international legal norms but ultimately does not reflect a change in Germany's position against providing Ukraine with long-range Taurus missiles or allowing Ukraine to strike military targets in Russia with German-provided weapons.

Key Takeaways:

Advisor to the Head of the Ukrainian President's Office Mykhaylo Podolyak stated that US-provided military aid has started arriving on the frontline but that it will take "weeks" for the gradual increase in US-provided military aid to reach "critical volumes.

Sweden announced its 16th and largest military aid package to Ukraine, worth 13.3 billion kronor (about $1.25 billion), on May 29.

Western officials are increasingly suggesting that they support Ukraine's right to use Western-provided weapons to strike military targets in Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin appointed Russian Presidential Aide Alexei Dyumin as Secretary of Russia's State Council on May 29.

Russia blamed Ukraine for the recent several-month-long suspension of prisoner of war (POW) exchanges over the backdrop of reports of pervasive Russian abuses against Ukrainian POWs.

Russian President Vladimir Putin continues his efforts to prepare the Russian population for a protracted war effort.

Belarus suspended its participation in the Cold War-era Conventional Armed Forces (CFE) in Europe Treaty on May 28.

Russian forces recently advanced north and northeast of Kharkiv City, near Kreminna, Chasiv Yar, and Avdiivka.

Russia continues efforts to expand social benefits for Russian military personnel, veterans of the war in Ukraine, and their families.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with US and Singaporean officials and highlighted the upcoming Global Peace Summit during the International Institute for Strategic Studies' (IISS) Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on June 2. Zelensky met with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee to discuss the battlefield situation, Ukraine's need for additional air defense systems, and the importance of Ukraine's ability to strike Russian military targets near Kharkiv Oblast.<1> Zelensky also met with Singaporean President Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Prime Minister Lawrence Wong, and Singaporean businessmen and emphasized Ukraine's interest in increasing its cooperation with Singapore and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).<2> Zelensky announced during the conference that 106 countries have confirmed their participation in the upcoming June 15-16 Global Peace Summit in Switzerland and noted that Ukraine invited every country to the upcoming summit except for Russia, which is the aggressor in this conflict.<3> Zelensky warned that Russian officials are attempting to disrupt the peace summit and discourage countries from attending the summit by threatening to "block" the import and export of food, agricultural, and chemical products. Zelensky also noted that the summit is an important step towards the resolution of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.<4> Ukrainian and Western media reported on June 2 that diplomatic sources in Saudi Arabia stated that Saudi Arabia will not participate in the Global Peace Summit following the May 31 announcement that the People's Republic of China (PRC) will not send a representative to the summit.<5>

The provision of Western air defense systems and the lifting of Western restrictions on Ukraine's ability to strike military targets in Russian territory with Western-provided weapons remain crucial for Ukraine to repel Russian glide bomb and missile strikes against Kharkiv City. A dozen Western countries have recently partially or completely lifted restrictions on Ukraine's use of Western-provided weapons to strike military targets in Russian territory.<6> These policy changes will allow Ukrainian forces to use Western-provided systems to strike Russian firing and staging areas in Russia's border areas and airspace. Ukrainian officials reported that Ukrainian forces downed a number of Russian military aircraft in February 2024, many of which were conducting glide bomb strikes in the Avdiivka direction.<7> Ukrainian forces' ability to down Russian military aircraft in a frontline area indicates that Ukrainian forces will likely be able to replicate the same effects with both Ukrainian and Western-provided systems to protect northern Kharkiv Oblast and Kharkiv City from Russian glide bomb strikes launched from Russian airspace. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has previously stated that Russian forces would not be able to seize Kharkiv City if Ukrainian forces received two Patriot air defense systems to deploy to the region.<8> Russian forces have targeted Kharkiv City with glide bombs and various missile strikes in the past several weeks, although two Patriot batteries in northern Kharkiv Oblast would have limited effectiveness in defending against Russian airstrikes without the ability to fire on Russian aircraft in Russian airspace.<9>

Ukrainian field commanders are reportedly compensating for training difficulties that mobilization has exacerbated by training new personnel on the frontline. Ukrainian field commanders told the Washington Post that they have devoted significant time to teaching basic skills to newly-redeployed personnel because they do not learn these skills at training centers.<10> The Washington Post reported on June 2 that Ukrainian soldiers who had served in the rear also lack adequate skills upon arrival at the front even though many had been serving in the military prior to the start of the full-scale invasion in 2022. The problems the Washington Post identified are not surprising in these circumstances. Most of the Ukrainian forces on the frontline have been fighting for more than two years and are exhausted, so Ukraine is under pressure to speedily rotate them with fresh forces and replace losses to maintain its defense.<11> There is a difficult tradeoff to make between pulling experienced soldiers from the frontline to train new personnel or accepting bottlenecks in training the new personnel. One Ukrainian officer reportedly told the Washington Post that Ukraine needs NATO instructors to train new personnel and to halve training times to one month.<12> Russian rear-area strike campaigns against even the westernmost regions of Ukraine have ensured that Ukraine has effectively no safe rear area in which it can safely train personnel, and sending personnel to train in NATO states such as the ongoing UK-led Operation Interflex training program both removes Ukrainian field commanders from the training process and increases the delay in deploying soldiers as Ukraine must transport these personnel to and from NATO states. Ukraine will not resolve these issues quickly, and the average overall quality of Ukrainian forces on the frontline will likely decrease as experienced personnel rotate out and newly-deployed personnel reach the frontline even as the number of available soldiers increases. New soldiers will likely learn rapidly as they fight alongside experienced veterans, however.

Ukrainian field commanders' decisions to train newly-deployed personnel on the front before committing them to combat indicates that the overall quality of Ukrainian forces will likely remain higher than that of Russian forces in the near- to mid-term. Russian forces have consistently used newly-deployed mobilized personnel, penal convicts, and fresh contract and volunteer soldiers without adequate training to conduct mass, infantry-led "meat assaults" to make marginal gains in Ukraine and have proven willing to continue suffering extensive casualties for these gains.<13> The Russian force generation mechanism has largely met the replacement rate of casualties in Ukraine, however, incentivizing fast redeployments of new personnel for additional "meat" assaults over effective training. Russian milbloggers have consistently complained about ineffective Russian training since partial mobilization in September 2022, and a former Russian Storm-Z instructor recently claimed that Russian "strategic" reserves are "doing nothing for months" due to training bottlenecks resulting from an inadequate number of instructors.<14> Further Ukrainian cooperation with NATO instructors, particularly if those NATO instructors assist training in rear areas in Ukraine, provides further opportunities for Ukraine to improve its basic training mechanisms and improve the quality of newly deployed personnel.

The New York Times (NYT) published an investigation on June 2 into the forced relocation and deportation of 46 Ukrainian children from a foster home in occupied Kherson Oblast during 2022.<15> The NYT analyzed photos, social media posts, and official government documents and concluded that Russian government officials participated in the forced relocation of these children and that occupation officials are withholding the children from their parents and relatives as part of a wider effort to strip Ukrainian children of their identities. The NYT reported that a Russian federal adoption site listed 22 of these Ukrainian children for adoption in Russia and placed at least two children with Russian families. The NYT consulted legal experts who determined that the Russian intent to strip children of their Ukrainian identity is a violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and may amount to a war crime. ISW analysts assisted with the preparation of this report by reviewing some of its findings and sources.

The Telegraph reported on June 1 in a since-removed article that British officials ordered the United Kingdom's (UK) Security Service (MI5) to refocus its counterintelligence efforts towards Russian, People's Republic of China (PRC), and Iranian agents operating in the UK.<16> Unnamed government sources told The Telegraph that the growing number of PRC agents and Iranian organized criminal groups in the UK have shifted MI5's recruiting targets and that the UK's support for Ukraine had led to increased Russian spying in the UK. ISW is refraining from publishing additional details from the article until The Telegraph provides further details about the article's removal.

Russian war commentator Alexander Artamonov drew backlash from Kremlin-affiliated Russian propagandists for claiming that Ukrainians are "second-class citizens." contradicting the Kremlins false efforts to portray Ukrainian and Russian people as one nation. Artamonov reportedly stated on a live broadcast on a Russian state television channel on June 1 that he "does not have a very high opinion of Ukrainians" and that he "insists Ukrainians are second-class citizens."<17> Russian State Duma Deputy and convicted unregistered Russian foreign agent Maria Butina, Russian ultranationalist and former State Duma Deputy Zakhar Prilepin, Kremlin-affiliated Russian milbloggers, and other pro-war Russian commentators heavily criticized Artamonov and reiterated the false narrative that Russians and Ukrainians are actually the same.<18> Artamonov notably received backlash for contradicting the Kremlin's established false narrative that claims that Ukrainians are Russians in an attempt to delegitimize and erase Ukrainian identity and justify Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Russian occupation officials and Russian forces in occupied Ukraine have subjugated Ukrainian civilians in occupied territory to violence, property theft, religious persecution, forced deportation, and impressment into the Russian military all as part of an ongoing campaign to eradicate an independent Ukrainian national and cultural identity.<19>

Key Takeaways:

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with US and Singaporean officials and highlighted the upcoming Global Peace Summit during the International Institute for Strategic Studies' (IISS) Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on June 2.
The provision of Western air defense systems and the lifting of Western restrictions on Ukraine's ability to strike military targets Russian territory with Western-provided weapons remain crucial for Ukraine to repel Russian glide bomb and missile strikes against Kharkiv City.
Ukrainian field commanders are reportedly compensating for training difficulties that mobilization has exacerbated by training new personnel on the frontline.
Ukrainian field commanders' decisions to train newly-deployed personnel on the front before committing them to combat indicates that the overall quality of Ukrainian forces will likely remain higher than that of Russian forces in the near- to mid-term.
The New York Times (NYT) published an investigation on June 2 into the forced relocation and deportation of 46 Ukrainian children from a foster home in occupied Kherson Oblast during 2022.
The Telegraph reported on June 1 in a since-removed article that British officials ordered the United Kingdom's (UK) Security Service (MI5) to refocus its counterintelligence efforts towards Russian, People's Republic of China (PRC), and Iranian agents operating in the UK.
Russian war commentator Alexander Artamonov drew backlash from Kremlin-affiliated Russian propagandists for claiming that Ukrainians are "second-class citizens." contradicting the Kremlins false efforts to portray Ukrainian and Russian people as one nation.
Russian forces recently advanced near Vovchansk, Avdiivka, Donetsk City, and Krynky.
Russia continues to indoctrinate Russian minors into military-political thinking to set conditions for long-term force generation.

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Ukrainian forces struck a Russian S-300/400 air defense battery in Belgorod Oblast likely with HIMARS on June 1 or 2. Geolocated imagery published on June 3 shows two destroyed launchers and a damaged command post of a Russian S-300/400 air defense system in a field east of Kiselyovo (just north of Belgorod City).<1> Russian sources widely speculated that Ukrainian forces used US-provided HIMARS, but Ukrainian officials have yet to comment on the strike.<2> The S-300/400 air defense system was located roughly 60 kilometers from the current frontline in northern Kharkiv Oblast and over 80 kilometers from Kharkiv City, which is within the range of HIMARS but exceeds the range of other MLRS systems that Ukrainian forces reportedly use to conduct strikes into Belgorod Oblast.<3> Russian sources have increasingly claimed that Ukrainian forces are using HIMARS to strike Belgorod Oblast since the US partially lifted its restrictions on Ukraine's ability to use US-provided weapons to strike military targets in Russian border areas with Kharkiv Oblast.<4> Russian sources will likely continue to characterize any successful strike in Belgorod Oblast as a HIMARS strike regardless of the system used.

The People's Republic of China (PRC) and Russia are reportedly in disagreement about economic issues such as the proposed Power of Siberia 2 (PS-2) pipeline despite publicly portraying themselves as diplomatically aligned. The Financial Times (FT) reported on June 2 that three unspecified sources familiar with the matter stated that the PRC and Russia disagree about the details of the PS-2 gas pipeline, with the PRC wanting to pay prices near Russia's subsidized domestic gas prices and to only commit to buying a small part of the pipeline's planned capacity.<5> Gazprom Head Alexei Miller reportedly did not accompany Russian President Vladimir Putin on his recent visit to the PRC due to these disagreements over the pipeline. FT reported that Putin asked PRC President Xi Jinping during their May 2024 meetings to come to an agreement on the pipeline, but FT reported that sources said that a pipeline agreement "remains distant." FT noted that Russia needs the pipeline to launch as expected more than the PRC. FT reported that it gained access to an unreleased report by an unspecified major Russian bank that stated that if the PS-2 pipeline does not launch in 2029, Gazprom's profits are forecasted to drop by almost 15 percent, which is especially significant following Gazprom's $6.9 billion loss in 2023, its largest loss in more than 25 years. FT, citing a recent report by Columbia University's Center on Global Energy Policy, also stated that the PRC will mostly or entirely be able to meet its projected increased demand for imported gas with existing supply contracts until 2030, but that the PRC's demand for imported gas will exceed the capacity of its existing contracts by about 150 billion cubic meters by 2040.<6> The PRC is likely aware of Russia's more immediate need for the pipeline and is using Beijing's upper hand in the energy sphere to extract concessions from Russia on the issue.

Putin also reportedly asked Xi in May 2024 to "snub" the upcoming Ukrainian peace conference in Switzerland amid continued Russian efforts to discredit and otherwise undermine the peace conference.<7> Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba stated on June 3 that Russia is trying to discredit the upcoming Ukrainian peace summit by convincing other states that the summit is insignificant, that they should not participate, and that if they do they should participate at the lowest possible level.<8> Other Ukrainian officials have recently emphasized that it is imperative for both the United States and the PRC to attend the June 2024 peace summit as their participation is "decisive" in compelling Russia to participate in the process of restoring peace and security.<9> The PRC announced on May 31 that it would not be joining the peace summit, and Saudi Arabia has reportedly decided not to attend.<10>

Russian forces continue to abuse Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) in violation of the Geneva Convention on POWs. Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada Human Rights Commissioner Dmytro Lyubinets amplified footage on June 2 showing a group of three Russian servicemen beating, threatening, and harassing a group of four Ukrainian POWs.<11> The footage shows one Russian serviceman shooting the ground immediately next to a POW's head and the Russian servicemen forcing the POWs to sing the Russian national anthem. Lyubinets stated the preliminary information suggests that the incident was filmed in the Kharkiv direction, where Russian forces recently began offensive operations. The Ukrainian Prosecutor General's Office reported on June 3 that it opened an investigation into the incident.<12> Russian opposition outlet Vazhnye Istorii identified the Russian serviceman who filmed the video as Alexei Kirpin, a former soldier in the far-right "Rusich" assault formation.<13> Ukraine-based ZMINA Human Rights Center reported that Russian authorities are also mistreating and beating Ukrainian POWs in pre-trial detention centers in Russia.<14> ISW has observed evidence of widespread violations of the Geneva Convention on POWs committed by the Russian military in recent months, including Russian forces executing Ukrainian POWs and using POWs as human shields on the battlefield.<15>

Russian military and political leadership continues to pursue increased military, political, and economic cooperation with several African states. Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yunus-Bek Yevkurov traveled to Benghazi, Libya on May 31 and met with Libyan National Army (LNA) Commander-in-Chief Khalifa Haftar at the Ar Rajma military base in eastern Libya.<16> Yevkurov promised to enhance LNA capabilities in eastern Libya.<17> Russia has recently reinforced its military presence in eastern Libya and increased deployments of Russian military personnel and supplies to the area since at least March 2024.<18> The American Enterprise Institute's Critical Threats Project (CTP) previously assessed that the intensified Russian military efforts in Libya are likely partially contributing to the wider Kremlin effort to secure a naval base in Tobruk, Libya, and that Yevkurov has been particularly involved in negotiations with LNA officials over Russian naval basing in Libya since August 2023.<19> Yevkurov also traveled to Niger on June 3 to meet with Nigerien junta head Abdirahmane Tiani, Nigerien junta defense minister Salifou Modi, and Nigerian junta interior minister Mohamed Toumba, reportedly signing a "multi-sectoral cooperation" memorandum of understanding.<20> Russia has recently increased its military presence in Nigerthe Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD)'s Africa Corps deployed to Niger in April 2023 and stated its intentions to replace US forces in northern Niger, then entered a base housing US military personnel in the country in May 2024.<21> The US notably intends to remove all American troops from Niger by September 15, 2024.<22> Alongside increased Russian military presence in Niger and efforts to supplant US forces, Russia is also reportedly seeking to take over uranium assets in Niger currently held by French state-controlled company Orano SA, and the "multi-sectoral cooperation" agreement signed by Yevkurov and his Nigerien counterparts may support this Russian effort.<23>

While Yevkurov primarily pursues military cooperation with African states, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is also visiting Africa to discuss Russian political and economic engagement with various African partners. Lavrov met with Guinean junta officials in Conarky, Guinea, on June 3 to discuss Russian-Guinean relations.<24> The Guinean junta's relationship with Russia is complicated, but the Kremlin maintains substantial economic and resource-based interests in Guinea. Russia depends on Guinea for a significant share of its bauxite, a refined-mineral-based material that is used in the production of spark plug insulators and other circuit and furnace related industrial goods.<25> The Kremlin may desire to maintain access to bauxite to support the Russian defense industrial base (DIB). Lavrov also met Congolese officials in Ollombo, Congo on the evening of June 3, to discuss the situation in Libya, as Congolese President Denis Sassou-Nguessos is the head of the African Union High-Level Committee on the Crisis in Libya.<26> Russian officials have attempted to maintain firm relations with Congo over the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, with Lavrov visiting Congo in 2022 and Russian President Vladimir Putin calling Neguesso in March 2024.<27> Lavrov is also expected to travel to Chad on June 5 and Burkina Faso sometime in the coming days as well.<28> Lavrov's visit to Chad in particular continues Russian efforts to grow ties with the Chadian regime since Putin met with Chadian President Mahamat Dby in Moscow in January 2024, and Russia likely aims to establish itself as the primary security partner across the Sahel to advance Russias economic and military interests in the region.<29> CTP previously forecast that aligning with Russia and the Russia-backed Sahelian juntas could pave the way for the Chadian junta to expand its defense and economic ties with Russia to address its own regime security needs and internal pressure to distance itself from the West.<30>

The Russian military is reportedly forcibly sending Russian servicemembers who refused to fight to the front in Ukraine from Russia instead of standing trial for their refusal to participate in combat. Russian opposition outlet Verstka reported on June 3 that Russian military authorities began forcibly sending hundreds of Russian servicemembers who refused to take part in Russian combat operations to the front in Ukraine, including to northern Kharkiv Oblast and Donetsk Oblast, in May 2024.<31> Verstka stated that the Russian military holds the servicemembers at military unit basepoints in Russia as they await trial for crimes related to their refusal to fight before suddenly cancelling their trials and immediately sending them to Ukraine. Verstka reported that Russian authorities used physical abuse to coerce some soldiers into volunteering to go to Ukraine before forcing others from their holding cells at gunpoint and transporting them to the frontlines. Verstka reported that Sverdlovsk Oblast Commissioner for Human Rights Tatyana Merzlyankova claimed on May 6 that she visited a collection point for servicemembers who refused to fight but that management stated that there were no violations of the servicemembers' civil rights. Verstka reported that Russian authorities cancelled the trials of at least 170 servicemembers who refused to fight and deployed them to Ukraine and that investigators, prosecutors, and lawyers were all unaware of this. Verstka reported that several sources, including one source from the Russian presidential administration, stated that the Russian military sends conscripts and "incompetent" reservists, who have signed contracts with the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD), to noncombat roles in Russia's border forces to free up experienced military personnel for the Russian offensive operation in northern Kharkiv Oblast, but that the Russian military is also sending deserters to fight. A Russian lawyer, who specializes in cases related to servicemembers refusing to fight, reportedly stated that the Russian MoD may be stopping criminal cases to send such servicemembers to the front due to a shortage of forces needed to fight in northern Kharkiv Oblast. ISW previously assessed that Russian forces likely launched the offensive operation in northern Kharkiv Oblast when the Northern Grouping of Forces was understrength, and the Russian MoD may be sending servicemembers awaiting their trials to the front in Kharkiv Oblast to strengthen the limited forces in the area.<32>

Georgian Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili signed the Russian-style "foreign agents" bill into law on June 3 amid continued protests.<33> The Georgian Parliament overwhelmingly overrode Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili's veto of the law on May 28, and Georgian Dream Secretary General Kakha Kaladze stated on June 3 that Georgian officials will fine and seize the property of any organizations that refuse to register under the law.<34>

Key Takeaways:

Ukrainian forces struck a Russian S-300/400 air defense battery in Belgorod Oblast likely with HIMARS on June 1 or 2.
The People's Republic of China (PRC) and Russia are reportedly in disagreement about economic issues such as the proposed Power of Siberia 2 (PS-2) pipeline despite publicly portraying themselves as diplomatically aligned.
Putin also reportedly asked Xi in May 2024 to "snub" the upcoming Ukrainian peace conference in Switzerland amid continued Russian efforts to discredit and otherwise undermine the peace conference.
Russian forces continue to abuse Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) in violation of the Geneva Convention on POWs.
Russian military and political leadership continues to pursue increased military, political, and economic cooperation with several African states.
The Russian military is reportedly forcibly sending Russian servicemembers who refused to fight to the front in Ukraine from Russia instead of standing trial for their refusal to participate in combat.
Georgian Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili signed the Russian-style "foreign agents" bill into law on June 3 amid continued protests.
Ukrainian forces recently advanced within Vovchansk and Russian forces recently advanced near Lyptsi, Avdiivka, and Velyka Novoslika and in western Zaporizhia Oblast.
The family members of mobilized Russian personnel continue to protest for the demobilization of their relatives.

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Select Russian military commentators continue to complain about superior Ukrainian drone and electronic warfare (EW) capabilities on the battlefield, continuing to highlight the rapid and constant tactical and technological innovation cycles that are shaping the battlespace in Ukraine. A Russian milblogger who formerly served as a "Storm-Z" unit instructor posted a list of complaints on June 4 detailing the challenges that Russian forces face in repelling Ukrainian drones and claimed that effective and pervasive Ukrainian drone use is now the "leading factor" in Ukraine's ability to repel Russian offensive actions.<1> The milblogger made six points about the Russian-Ukrainian drone disparity, claiming first and foremost that Ukrainian troops have a large numerical advantage in first person view (FPV) drones and FPV drone operators. The milblogger claimed that Ukrainian assault groups have a 3-4:1 FPV drone advantage over Russian assault units, while Ukrainian mechanized groups have a 6-10:1 FPV drone advantage over comparable Russian units. The milblogger noted that Ukraine also has specialized and centralized drone units within existing Ukrainian ground units, which allows Ukrainian forces to better integrate reconnaissance and attack drone capabilities into basic tactical maneuvers. Russian forces, by contrast, lack the centralized and organized drone-unit system and adequate EW and electronic reconnaissance (ER) capabilities to counter Ukrainian drones.<2> Another milblogger, whose initial post from May 31 spurred the former Storm-Z instructor to weigh in on the issue, noted that specialized Ukrainian drone units have heavily targeted and destroyed unprotected Russian armored equipment in the Avdiivka direction, inhibiting Russian offensive prospects in the area.<3> The milblogger emphasized that the provision of FPV drones and required EW and ER systems to Russian forces is done on an ad hoc volunteer basis, as there is no centralized supply mechanism from the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD). These remarks on Russia's need to centralize its drone warfare capabilities echo recent calls made by a cadre of Russian commentators, including former Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) head Dmitry Rogozin.<4> As Ukrainian forces adapt and better integrate new technologies into their force, Russian forces will likely feel pressured to do the same in order to retain technological and tactical parity on the battlefield. This offense-defense and capability scaling race is central to the development of combat means in a contemporary war.

Ukraine and its partners have reportedly drafted a document for the Global Peace Summit in Switzerland on June 15 that calls for future engagement with Russia on a limited number of issues connected to Russias invasion of Ukraine, although the Kremlin remains unlikely to engage in meaningful negotiations on the proposal or any wider settlement to the war in Ukraine. Bloomberg reported on June 4 that the draft document aims to generate consensus among summit participants on nuclear safety, food security, and the return of abducted Ukrainian civilians and children.<5> The document reportedly states that this consensus will serve as a "confidence building measure" for future engagement with Russian officials on these issues.<6> The reported document specifically deems nuclear threats as "inadmissible" and calls for the return of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) to Ukrainian control, and freedom of navigation in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov so that Ukrainian agricultural products can reach third parties and the return of all deported and unlawfully displaced Ukrainian children and civilians to Ukraine.<7>

Russian officials have routinely been explicitly hostile to engagement with Ukraine on many of these issues, however. The Kremlin frequently threatens Ukraine and the West with nuclear weapons in order to promote Western self-deterrence. The Kremlin also uses nuclear rhetoric as a common tool of its reflexive control campaign aimed at influencing Western decision-making.<8> Russian officials have repeatedly attempted to use Russias physical control over the ZNPP to try to force international organizations to legitimize Russia's occupation of the ZNPP and by extension Russian occupation of Ukrainian territory.<9> Russia withdrew from the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which facilitated limited agricultural exports from Ukrainian ports, in July 2023 and has since routinely targeted Ukrainian ports and agricultural infrastructure in southern Ukraine in an effort to constrain Ukraine's ability to provide grain and other agricultural products to its partners.<10> Russian officials have shown very limited openness to the return of Ukrainian children from Russia and occupied Ukraine to Ukraine through mediation with third parties.<11> The Kremlin and Russian occupation officials continue to deport Ukrainian civilians and children from occupied Ukraine, however, and there is no indication that Russia is willing to stop this campaign or return deported and unlawfully displaced Ukrainians back to Ukraine at scale.<12> The Kremlin continues to feign interest in meaningful negotiations with Ukraine in an effort to push the West to make concessions on Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and the Kremlin may use engagement on these more limited issues to pursue similar concessions.<13>

Russia is conducting a wide-scale hybrid warfare campaign targeting NATO states in tandem with Russian efforts to augment its conventional military capabilities in preparation for a potential conflict with NATO. Bloomberg reported on June 3 that Norwegian Chief of Defense Eirik Kristoffersen stated that NATO has a window of two to three years to rebuild its forces and stocks before Russia has rebuilt its own ability to conduct a conventional attack, presumably against NATO.<14> Kristoffersen stated that this expedited time frame is due to Russia's current elevated defense industrial base (DIB) output. Western officials also continue to highlight Russia's current engagement in hybrid warfare activities across Europe. The Financial Times (FT) reported on June 4 that Western governments are trying to formulate a response to the growing series of Russian-backed sabotage attempts on military bases and civilian infrastructure in Europe.<15> FT reported that an unspecified Western defense advisor stated that Russia has a "highly developed lexicon" for hybrid warfare, including information and psychological operations and sabotage. The defense advisor noted that Russia is learning from and adapting its hybrid warfare operations, stating that Russia is "constantly observing" the West's reactions to these hybrid warfare operations and "testing to see which of actions work." FT reported that Russia has resorted to using proxies, such as operatives from criminal gangs, to conduct the sabotage attacks after European governments expelled hundreds of Russian diplomats and spies. NATO and its member states have repeatedly warned about intensifying Russian hybrid operations on NATO member territory.<16>

A joint investigation by Russian opposition student journal DOXA and open-source outlet Kidmapping highlights the role of the Kremlin-backed Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) in Russifying Ukrainian children whom Russian authorities have deported to Russia.<17> DOXA found that from the early days of Russia's 2022 full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russian officials deported children from orphanages and boarding schools in occupied Donetsk Oblast to Russia's Rostov Oblast, where they were visited by Metropolitan Mercury (Igor Ivanov) of Rostov and Novocherkassk, who spoke to them about the ROC and seemingly enticed them to consider baptism into the ROC.<18> ROC clergy have also called for the baptism of deported Ukrainian children into the ROC and reportedly encouraged them to join various "military-patriotic" youth organizations in Russia.<19> DOXA and Kidmapping also found that deported children from occupied Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts stayed at shelters run by the ROC in Voronezh Oblast, where ROC clergy and affiliated officials hold "military-patriotic" events for the deported children in order to encourage pro-Russian and pro-ROC sentiment and cut the children off from their Ukrainian identities.<20> ISW has previously assessed that the ROC is instrumental in enacting the Kremlin's occupation plan for Ukraine, and this appears to extend to Russian efforts to Russify deported Ukrainian children living in Russia.<21> Kremlin-appointed Commissioner on Children's Rights Maria Lvova-Belova, against whom the International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant due to her role in facilitating the deportation of Ukrainian children, is notably married to an ROC priest.<22> Lvova-Belova and her husband have themselves adopted a deported Ukrainian child from Mariupol, highlighting the personal involvement of the ROC and other Kremlin officials in the deportation of Ukrainian children.<23> ISW continues to assess that the deportation of Ukrainian children, with the intent to destroy their Ukrainian identities via such Russification projects, amounts to a violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which prohibits "forcibly transferring children of a group to another group" on grounds that it is an act of genocide.<24>

Russian President Vladimir Putin named First Deputy Speaker of the Federation Council and United Russia Secretary Andrei Turchak the acting governor of the Altai Republic on June 4.<25> Turchak chaired the Russian State Duma "Special Military Operation" Working Group dedicated to resolving issues with Russia's war effort in Ukraine and reported on the working group's efforts directly to Putin.<26> Former Altai Republic Head Oleg Khorokhordin resigned on June 4 reportedly to transition to a new, unspecified position.<27> Putin met with Turchak via videoconference to discuss Turchak's new position and stated that the Altai Republic is a "promising but difficult" multinational republic where the Russian government wants to develop the tourism industry.<28> Russian outlet Vedomosti reported on June 3 that three sources close to the Russian presidential administration stated that the Presidential Plenipotentiary Representative in the Ural Federal District Vladimir Yakushev may replace Turchak as United Russia Secretary.<29>

Russian sources speculated on the meaning behind Turchak's appointment. Russian opposition outlet Meduza stated that sources close to the presidential administration noted that Putin offered Turchak the position during a videoconference, not during a personal meeting as Putin usually does.<30> Meduza's sources reportedly stated that Turchak's new position is a demotion, comparing it to an "execution" and "deportation to a colony settlement." A source reportedly stated that Turchak lost his position in the "power vertical" and that Turchak must have "seriously screwed up." Meduza reported that a source close to the St. Petersburg government claimed that Putin moved Turchak because Turchak was "too active" in St. Petersburg and St. Petersburg Governor Alexander Beglov complained to Putin a version with which other Meduza sources reportedly disagreed. A Russian milblogger refuted claims that Turchak's appointment is "political exile" and claimed that the Altai Republic is geographically important given its position near Central Asia and Xinjiang, China.<31> The milblogger claimed that the West is active in Central Asia and that Russia will need logistics hubs and a strong executive power in the area if there are "serious showdowns" in Central Asia between the West and Russia. A Russian insider source claimed that the Russian government may launch a new association of federal subjects that Turchak will supervise.<32> The insider source claimed that the Russian government may hold a referendum, which Turchak will also oversee, to unify the Altai Republic and neighboring Altai Krai. There are multiple defense industrial enterprises in Altai Krai, and if the insider source's claim about plans to unify Altai Republic and Altai Krai are true, the Kremlin may have appointed Turchak to oversee Russian defense industrial efforts in the region as part of a wider Kremlin effort to increase Russia's defense industrial production.<33> Putin may have also moved Turchak in an effort to sideline and demote him without having to make a public show of the demotion, especially if Putin was displeased with Turchak's advocacy for Russian servicemembers fighting in Ukraine.

Newly appointed Russian Defense Minister Andrei Belousov reportedly invited select Russian war correspondents and milbloggers to meet with him to coopt several Russian information space actors, prompting limited criticism from a prominent Russian milblogger. A Russian insider source claimed on May 26 that Belousov planned to meet with milbloggers and military correspondents to demonstrate that he has "nothing in common with his predecessor Sergei Shoigu."<34> The Russian information space largely celebrated Belousov's appointment as Defense Minister and expressed hope that his appointment would foster positive changes to the endemic problems that persisted under Shoigu's MoD, such as the Shoigu MoDs tendency to lie about Russias military performance in Ukraine and failures to adequately supply frontline forces.<35> ISW has previously observed that the Kremlin began efforts to coopt Russian milbloggers critical of the Russian military's poor performance in the war in Ukraine by offering them state awards and government positions starting in November 2022 in an effort to regain control over the Russian information space.<36> A prominent Russian milblogger, who has previously criticized the Russian MoD and routinely posts complaints on his Telegram channel from Russian servicemen on the frontlines, claimed that Belousov invited a limited number of already-respected military correspondents, whom the Kremlin has coopted and likely deemed to be "safe," and milbloggers to meet with him.<37> The milblogger further claimed that he would not be surprised if Russian MoD employees from the "old team," likely referring to Shoigu's affiliates at the Russian MoD, organized the meeting and expressed doubt that the Russian MoD would listen to milblogger suggestions. Russian milbloggers appear to be experimenting with different ways to express critical opinions of the Russian MoD following Belousov's appointment, and Belousov may be meeting with military correspondents to constrain this criticism.<38>

Key Takeaways:

Select Russian military commentators continue to complain about superior Ukrainian drone and electronic warfare (EW) capabilities on the battlefield, continuing to highlight the rapid and constant tactical and technological innovation cycles that are shaping the battlespace in Ukraine.
Ukraine and its partners have reportedly drafted a document for the Global Peace Summit in Switzerland on June 15 that calls for future engagement with Russia on a limited number of issues connected to Russias invasion of Ukraine, although the Kremlin remains unlikely to engage in meaningful negotiations on the proposal or any wider settlement to the war in Ukraine.
Russia is conducting a wide-scale hybrid warfare campaign targeting NATO states in tandem with Russian efforts to augment its conventional military capabilities in preparation for a potential conflict with NATO
A joint investigation by Russian opposition student journal DOXA and open-source outlet Kidmapping highlights the role of the Kremlin-backed Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) in Russifying Ukrainian children whom Russian authorities have deported to Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin named First Deputy Speaker of the Federation Council and United Russia Secretary Andrei Turchak the acting governor of the Altai Republic on June 4.
Newly appointed Russian Defense Minister Andrei Belousov reportedly invited select Russian war correspondents and milbloggers to meet with him to coopt several Russian information space actors, prompting limited criticism from a prominent Russian milblogger.
Russian forces recently advanced near Vovchansk, Siversk, and Donetsk City.
The Russian military reportedly continues to forcibly send Russian military personnel, including those with serious medical issues, to fight in Ukraine.
Russia continues efforts to militarize deported Ukrainian youth and prepare them for future service in the Russian armed forces.

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US officials continue to attempt to clarify US policy regarding Ukraine's ability to strike a limited subset of Russian military targets within Russia with US-provided weapons, but public communications about US policy remain unclear. US National Security Spokesperson John Kirby stated during a press conference on June 4 that "there's never been a restriction on the Ukrainians shooting down hostile aircraft, even if those aircraft are not necessarily in Ukrainian airspace."<1> Kirby made this statement in response to a question about whether America's recent partial lifting of restrictions on Ukraine's ability to strike targets within Russia with US-provided weapons pertains to strikes against Russian aircraft operating in Russian airspace. Kirby suggested that Ukrainian forces can shoot down Russian aircraft within Russian airspace if they "pose an impending threat" to Ukraine and stated that Ukrainian forces already have done so since the beginning of the war. It remains unclear what the official US policy on what Russian aircraft constitute "an impending threat" to Ukraine, and Kirby's statements did not elucidate how the US administration views this issue. ISW continues to assess that Ukraine's ability to defend itself against devastating Russian glide bomb strikes is heavily contingent on Ukraine's ability to target Russian aircraft within Russian airspace using US-provided air defense systems before Russian aircraft can launch strikes at Ukrainian cities, critical infrastructure, and frontline positions.<2> The current lack of clarity in US restrictions on Ukraine's use of US-provided weapons to strike Russian military assets within Russia has routinely missed the opportunity to force Russia to self-deter against conducting such strikes on Ukrainian territory from Russian airspace.<3> Russian forces continued to conduct intense glide bomb attacks against Ukraine on June 5, likely largely from Russian airspace.<4>|

Kirby also stated during the press conference that the US cannot confirm if Ukraine has already used US-provided weapons in strikes on Russia since the US partially loosened its restrictions on May 30, but the Associated Press (AP) reported on June 5, citing an unnamed US senator and Western official, that Ukraine has used US-provided weapons to strike Russia "in recent days."<5> ISW has observed geolocated footage from June 1 or 2 that shows a likely Ukrainian HIMARS strike on a Russian S-300/400 air defense system in Belgorod Oblast.<6>

Western-provided artillery ammunition has reportedly started arriving to Ukrainian forces on the frontline, although not at a scale that would allow Ukrainian forces to fully challenge the Russian military's current artillery shell advantage. Ukrainian soldiers operating near Vovchansk (northeast of Kharkiv City) told the Telegraph in an article published on June 5 that Western-provided ammunition started to reach their sector of the frontline, but that Russian forces in the area still maintain a munitions advantage.<7> One Ukrainian soldier told the Telegraph that Russian forces still maintain a five-to-one artillery advantage. A Ukrainian soldier operating in an unspecified area of the frontline told Estonian outlet ERR that Western-provided ammunition began to "trickle" to the frontline but has not arrived at scale.<8> The Ukrainian soldier stated that Russian forces continue to have a "significant advantage" in munitions. ISW continues to assess that Russian forces are attempting to make tactically and operationally significant gains before US military assistance arrives to Ukrainian forces at the frontline at scale, and that the initial arrival of Western-provided weaponry will take some time to have tactical to operational effect on the frontline.<9>

Russian missile and drone strikes have caused significant long-term damage to Ukraine's energy grid, and Ukraine will reportedly face even greater energy constraints in summer 2024. The Financial Times (FT) reported on June 5 that Russia has knocked out or captured over half of Ukraine's power generation capacity, bringing Ukrainian energy production to below 20 gigawatts (likely meaning per year) from 55 gigawatts per year before the start of the full-scale invasion in 2022.<10> European Union (EU) Ambassador to Ukraine Katarina Matherovna told FT that Russia has destroyed 9.2 gigawatts of annual Ukrainian generation capacity since resuming large scale missile and drone strikes against Ukrainian energy infrastructure in late March 2024.<11> A Ukrainian official told FT that Russian forces damaged 1.2 gigawatts of annual Ukrainian generation capacity alone during strikes against energy infrastructure on the night of May 31 to June 1.<12> Ukrainian state electricity transmission operator Ukrenergo stated on June 5 that it expects the Ukrainian energy system to face its most difficult period in the middle of summer 2024 as energy consumption increases due to the heat.<13> The Russian military has attempted to exploit degraded Ukrainian air defense capabilities in spring 2024 to collapse Ukraine's energy grid and constrain Ukraine's defense industrial capacity.<14> Russia will likely continue periodic large-scale strikes against energy infrastructure to cause significant long-term damage that degrades Ukrainian war fighting capabilities while setting conditions for pronounced humanitarian pressures in winter 20242025.

Ukrainian outlet Liga reported on June 4 that a source in Ukraine's Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) stated that there are roughly 550,000 Russian military and paramilitary personnel concentrated in occupied Ukraine and near the international border.<15> The GUR source reportedly stated that there are about 32,000 Rosgvardia, Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), and other law enforcement personnel operating in occupied Ukraine, in addition to about 520,000 Russian military personnel in and around Ukraine. ISW cannot independently confirm these figures, and the numbers likely encompass combat and other non-combat military personnel who perform support functions and do not represent Russia's immediate combat power. Ukrainian Ground Forces Commander Lieutenant General Oleksandr Pavlyuk stated that as of May 3 there were roughly 510,000 to 515,000 Russian personnel deployed in Ukraine.<16> Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed in December 2023 that there were 617,000 Russian personnel in the combat zone, likely referring to all Russian military personnel in the zone of the special military operation, which includes staging areas in border areas within Russia.<17> GUR Spokesperson Andriy Yusov reported in January 2024 that there are 35,000 Rosgvardia personnel in occupied Ukraine and that Russian authorities are considering deploying more Rosgvardia personnel to occupied areas.<18>

Russian President Vladimir Putin stated on June 4 that former Russian Defense Minister and Russian Security Council Secretary Sergei Shoigu will coordinate efforts to increase Russian defense industrial capacity alongside former Tula Oblast Governor and Presidential Aide Alexei Dyumin and Security Council Deputy Chairperson Dmitry Medvedev.<19> Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitri Peskov stated that Shoigu, Dyumin, and Medvedev will each oversee an unspecified aspect of the effort to increase Russian defense industrial capacity.<20> Shoigu's roughly equivalent position with Dyumin and Medvedev further indicates that the Kremlin has demoted Shoigu following his removal from defense minister and suggests that he is a secondary figure in newly appointed Russian Defense Minister Andrei Belousov's task to significantly mobilize the Russian economy and DIB for a protracted war in Ukraine.<21> Putin routinely rotates Kremlin officials in and out of his personal favor with the aim of incentivizing them to strive to regain his support, and Putin may have tasked Dyumin and Shoigu with DIB efforts in order to maintain their devotion following Shoigu's demotion from his prior long-term role as defense minister and rebukes against Dyumin's possible effort to become defense minister in the aftermath of the Wagner Group's rebellion in June 2023.<22> Shoigu is currently working with the Presidential Administration's Military-Industrial Complex Commission and the Federal Service for Cooperation with Foreign Countries, suggesting that Shoigu is likely involved in the Kremlin's efforts to leverage relationships with Iran, North Korea, Belarus, and the People's Republic of China (PRC) to help Russia procure the components and materiel it needs for increasing military industrial capacity.<23> Putin recently appointed Dyumin to the board of state-owned defense conglomerate Rostec and specifically tasked Dyumin with assisting Russian efforts to provide the Russian military with necessary weapons and equipment.<24> It remains to be seen how involved Shoigu, Dyumin, and Medvedev will be in efforts to expand Russia's DIB, however, and their roles may be at most nominal.

The apparent demotion of former First Deputy Speaker of the Federation Council and United Russia Secretary Andrei Turchak on June 4 is likely part of Russian President Vladimir Putins ongoing effort to remove from power the political and military figures that violated his trust in 2023. The Russian Federal Council terminated Turchaks powers on June 5 after Putin appointed Turchak to become the governor of Altai Republic on June 4.<25> Chairperson of the Russian Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko wryly stated in a farewell message that Turchak will turn Altai Republic into a tourist Mecca.<26> Russian insider sources and political bloggers widely claimed that Putin most likely removed Turchak from his position in Moscow for his allegedly close relationship with deceased Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin and conflict with the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) over the control of occupied Ukrainian territories.<27> Some Russian insider sources and political bloggers also claimed that Putin may have also been dissatisfied with Turchaks execution of a Kremlin effort to have Russian veterans participate in the Russian primaries in his role as the Chairperson of the Russian State Duma "Special Military Operation" Working Group, although some Russian sources pointed out that this failure was unlikely to have warranted Turchaks exile to one of the most economically depressed regions in Russia over 4,000 kilometers from the Kremlin.<28> Some Russian sources also speculated that Turchak was demoted for his excessive involvement in local St. Petersburg political drama, and many sources cited Turchaks tendency to intervene in Kremlin intrigues in an effort to improve his own political standing including by partnering up with former Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.<29>

Putin had likely exiled Turchak from the Kremlin because he perceived Turchak to be disloyal to the regime. ISW previously observed Russian insider reports that Prigozhin used Turchak to directly deliver Wagner Group complaints about the Russian military failures in winter 2023 to Putin in hopes that this information would prompt Putin to reappoint Wagner-affiliated commanders.<30> Turchak reportedly delivered a blunt briefing about Russian military failures in February 2023 but did not convince Putin to initiate military command changes, likely because Putin perceived Turchaks briefing as an act of disloyalty. ISW continues to assess that Putin values loyalty over competence and had previously interpreted Prigozhins complaints about supply shortages and military failures as acts of disloyalty.<31> A former Russian intelligence source notably revealed that Putin began to distance himself from Wagner after Prigozhin scolded him in October 2022.<32> One Russian political commentator connected Turchaks demotion to the recent arrest of the former commander of the 58th Combined Arms Army (CAA) Major General Ivan Popov.<33> Popov published an audio recording in July 2023 in which he stated that he was fired after raising concerns over the need for troop rotations among Russian forces receiving the summer 2023 Ukrainian counteroffensive.<34> Russian State Duma Deputy and former Deputy Commander of the Southern Military District (SMD) Lieutenant General Andrei Gurulev leaked Popovs audio message, and Turchak notably implied that Popov was not involved in the leak.<35> ISW assessed that Popov likely deliberately recorded this message to appeal to the Kremlin to trigger a military command change within the Russian General Staff.<36> Popov also equated himself with a rebellion leader less than a month after the Wagner mutiny, and Turchaks expressed support for Popov may have further convinced Putin of Turchaks disloyalty.<37>

A recent meeting of the Kremlin-appointed Russian Human Rights Council (HRC) on Russia's migration policy reflects Russia's competing imperatives of attracting migrants to offset Russian labor shortages while also catering to its ultranationalist anti-migrant constituency. The HRC held a meeting on June 4 on "ensuring the rights of Russian citizens in the implementation of migration policy" and discussed several initiatives to strengthen Russian federal control over migrant communities living within Russia.<38> The HRC discussed making Russian language tests mandatory for all children of migrants hoping to enroll in schools and kindergartens; creating "social adaptation centers" for migrants to learn the Russian language; and recognizing children who do not speak Russian at the legally mandated level as having "special educational needs," all of which would require federal oversight and funding in order to ease the integration of migrants into the Russian social sphere.<39> Some participants of the HRC meeting proposed much harsher policy changes. For example, Kaluga Oblast Minster of Internal Policy Oleg Kalugin called for a rule prohibiting labor migrants from bringing their families to Russia in the first place, suggesting that the cost of helping integrate the families of migrants into Russian society is not worth the social burden on Russian society.<40> Russian business-focused outlet Kommersant noted that these policies are mainly targeted at migrant communities from Armenia and Central Asia, predominantly Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan.<41> The meetings focus on migrant policy as a means to protect Russian citizens (mostly insinuated to be ethnic Russians or naturalized foreign citizens) rhetorically sets a strong wedge between "Russians" and "migrants" as opposing camps, and specifically identifies Central Asian migrants as potentially threatening the rights of Russian citizens. Russian domestic policy is increasingly trying to balance a heavy reliance on migrant labor, particularly from Central Asia, to maintain its domestic economy as it continues to compensate for economic shortfalls resulting from its war in Ukraine, while also disenfranchising migrant communities to cater to its vocal and influential ultranationalist constituency.<42> The HRC will similarly have to balance fostering a policy that encourages and attracts migrants to move to Russia in the hopes of obtaining economic benefit while also appeasing the cadre of commentators that espouse anti-migrant and xenophobic views that hold that migration policy is a threat to ethnic Russians.

Chechen Republic Rosgvardia Head and Russian State Duma Deputy Adam Delimkhanov accused State Duma Deputy Chairman and New People Party Head Vladislav Davankov of contradicting the Russian Constitution and attempting to divide Russian society, exposing continued tension between Chechen efforts to operate autonomously and the Russian states efforts to regulate perceived Islamic extremist threats from migrant and indigenous Muslim communities. Davankov submitted a bill to the State Duma on May 28 that would allow educational institutions and regional authorities to ban religious clothing that "partially or completely hides the face" from municipal and public spaces.<43> Delimkhanov responded to Davankov's proposal by claiming that the Russian Constitution guarantees religious freedom and noting that the hijab, which he claims is a religious obligation for Muslim women, does not cover the face.<44> Delimkhanov claimed that Chechens are against niqab, which covers the face, however. Delimkhanov further asserted that Davankov's bill could cause a rift in Russian society since he raised "one of the most sensitive topics" without "proper consideration of the subject." Delimkhanov also observed that Russian Orthodox Christianity expects women to wear headscarves for piety and humility. Davankov defended himself against Delimkhanov's criticisms citing Russia's secular education system and claimed that parents demanded the ban in schools given that migrant children "have difficulty speaking Russian, let alone wearing religious clothing."<45> Davankov also noted that the Russian Supreme Court upheld a ban against wearing religious garments in schools in the Mordovia Republic in 2015.<46> Delimkhanov's immediate criticism of Davankov highlights continued tension between the Chechen Republic and the Russian government's long-term efforts to subjugate Chechnya, likely exacerbated by intensified Kremlin crackdowns against indigenous and migrant Muslim communities following the March 22 Crocus City Hall terrorist attack.<47> The renewed debate on restrictions against Islamic religious clothing will likely continue to foster division along ethnic and religious lines, despite the Kremlin's efforts to portray Russia as a harmonious and united multiethnic and multi-confessional country.<48>

Russian state-owned gas company Gazprom reportedly assesses that it is unlikely to recover gas sales it lost following the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, illustrating how Western sanctions are achieving some long-term impacts against Russian revenue streams supporting Russia's war effort. The Financial Times (FT) reported on June 5 that Gazprom's leadership commissioned a report at the end of 2023 on the long-term prospects for gas sales, which found that Gazprom's annual exports to Europe by 2035 will average 50 billion to 75 billion cubic meters roughly a third of its annual exports to Europe before the full-scale invasion.<49> Gazprom reportedly noted that a new pipeline to the People's Republic of China (PRC) aims to offset lost export volume to Europe but will only have the capacity to transport 50 billion cubic meters of gas per year.<50> Russia has relied on oil revenues to buoy federal budgets amid increased spending on its war in Ukraine, and long-term constraints on other energy exports will likely limit additional significant sources of funding for the Kremlin.<51> Russia has managed to rely on oil revenues to support a record level of defense spending in 2024 by engaging in a concerted effort to circumvent the G7's price cap on Russian oil and petroleum products.<52> The West is expanding sanctions to curtail Russian efforts to skirt the G7 price cap, and significant constraints on Russian oil exports could also achieve substantial impacts on Russian state revenue.<53>

Russian investigative outlet the Insider and Moldovan outlet Little Country published an investigation on June 5 detailing how former Moldovan Chief of the General Staff Igor Gorgan operated as an agent on behalf of the Russian General Staffs Main Directorate (GRU). The Insider and Little Country reported that they obtained access to Telegram correspondence between Gorgan and his GRU handler Colonel Alexei Makarov which shows that Gorgan regularly reported on internal Moldovan matters and the visits of Ukrainian Ministry of Defense (MoD) representatives to Moldova since 2019.<54> The Insider reported that an unspecified military intelligence source stated that GRU's active contact with Gorgan began when Gorgan served on a NATO mission in 2004.<55> Gorgan served as Moldovan Chief of the General Staff in 2013 and from 2019 to 2021 and reportedly offered GRU information on Moldovan military capabilities and activities, requests from the Ukrainian MoD, and information about internal Moldovan politics.<56> Gorgan reportedly assured the GRU that he still has contacts in the Moldovan MoD who can continue to supply him with information.<57>Gorgan also reportedly routinely told Makarov that Moldova was ready for the arrival of Russian forces and that he would keep "the whole situation in the army under control" and help Russia "deal with politicians."<58> The GRU's response to Gorgan's offers is currently unclear. The Kremlin is engaged in efforts to destabilize Moldova and prevent Moldova's European Union accession, and Gorgan's relationship with the GRU illustrates how Russia is leveraging pro-Russian Moldovan actors in these efforts and how Russia could rely on such actors to conduct future hybrid operations or support conventional military aggression against Moldova.<59>

Key Takeaways:

US officials continue to attempt to clarify US policy regarding Ukraine's ability to strike a limited subset of Russian military targets within Russia with US-provided weapons, but public communications about US policy remain unclear.
Western-provided artillery ammunition has reportedly started arriving to Ukrainian forces on the frontline, although not at a scale that would allow Ukrainian forces to fully challenge the Russian military's current artillery shell advantage.
Russian missile and drone strikes have caused significant long-term damage to Ukraine's energy grid, and Ukraine will reportedly face even greater energy constraints in summer 2024.
Ukrainian outlet Liga reported on June 4 that a source in Ukraine's Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) stated that there are roughly 550,000 Russian military and paramilitary personnel concentrated in occupied Ukraine and near the international border.
Russian President Vladimir Putin stated on June 4 that former Russian Defense Minister and Russian Security Council Secretary Sergei Shoigu will coordinate efforts to increase Russian defense industrial capacity alongside former Tula Oblast Governor and Presidential Aide Alexei Dyumin and Security Council Deputy Chairperson Dmitry Medvedev.
The apparent demotion of former First Deputy Speaker of the Federation Council and United Russia Secretary Andrei Turchak on June 4 is likely part of Russian President Vladimir Putins ongoing effort to remove from power the political and military figures that violated his trust in 2023.
A recent meeting of the Kremlin-appointed Russian Human Rights Council (HRC) on Russia's migration policy reflects Russia's competing imperatives of attracting migrants to offset Russian labor shortages while also catering to its ultranationalist anti-migrant constituency.
Chechen Republic Rosgvardia Head and Russian State Duma Deputy Adam Delimkhanov accused State Duma Deputy Chairman and New People Party Head Vladislav Davankov of contradicting the Russian Constitution and attempting to divide Russian society, exposing continued tension between Chechen efforts to operate autonomously and the Russian states efforts to regulate perceived Islamic extremist threats from migrant and indigenous Muslim communities.
Russian state-owned gas company Gazprom reportedly assesses that it is unlikely to recover gas sales it lost following the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, illustrating how Western sanctions are achieving some long-term impacts against Russian revenue streams supporting Russia's war effort.
Russian investigative outlet the Insider and Moldovan outlet Little Country published an investigation on June 5 detailing how former Moldovan Chief of the General Staff Igor Gorgan operated as an agent on behalf of the Russian General Staffs Main Directorate (GRU).
Russian forces recently advanced southeast of Kupyansk, near Chasiv Yar, west of Avdiivka, and southwest of Donetsk City.
The Kremlin likely authorized the Crimean branch of the Kremlin-created "Defenders of Fatherland" state fund to help grant combatants in Russian private military companies (PMCs) legal veteran statuses, possibly as part of an ongoing state effort to centralize control over irregular formations operating in Ukraine.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to repackage long-standing, tired threats about direct confrontation with the West by claiming that Russia will provide long-range strike capabilities to unspecified actors for strikes against the West. Putin's threat aims to influence Western decision-making about Ukraine's ability to strike military targets within Russia using Western-provided weapons but notably does not threaten escalation in Ukraine or through direct confrontation, suggesting that the Kremlin may be adjusting to select Western perceptions about the credibility of such Russian threats. Putin stated during a meeting with the heads of foreign press organizations on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) on June 5 that Russia could begin supplying long-range weapons to unspecified adversaries of the West as a "symmetrical response" to the lifting of some Western restrictions on Ukraine's use of Western-provided weapons to strike military targets within Russia.<1> Putin rhetorically asked why Russia should not have the right to supply weapons of a similar class (compared to those the West has allowed Ukraine to use for strikes on Russian territory) to unspecified actors that will conduct strikes on Western "sensitive targets."<2> Kremlin actors routinely threaten to directly strike Western targets in an effort to use Western fears of escalation with Russia to encourage the West to self-deter its support for Ukraine, and Putin's June 5 threat is not a notable inflection in this regard.<3>

Putin may assess that select Western actors will be more concerned about Russia providing long-range strike capabilities to actors willing to attack the West than the Kremlin's tired rhetoric about direct confrontation between the West and Russia. Russia is very unlikely to directly provide scarce high-end long-range strike capabilities to other actors, however, since it uses many of these systems for large-scale strikes against Ukraine. It is also unclear what systems Putin means by weapons of a "similar class." The United Kingdom lifted restrictions on Ukraine's ability to use Storm Shadow cruise missiles with a range of over 250 kilometers for strikes against military targets within Russia, which is the Western system with the longest range that Ukrainian forces are currently permitted to use for such strikes.<4> The kinds of long-range strike systems Russia could ostensibly give other actors would be limited if Putin's "proportional" threat is credible. Russia's likely unwillingness to provide long-range systems does not preclude Russian efforts to help the West's adversaries acquire long-range strike capabilities, however. Russia is reportedly providing North Korea with ballistic missile technology in return for North Korea's provision of artillery munition to Russia, for example.<5> Putin and the Kremlin have threatened escalation at every critical juncture in Western debates about support for Ukraine, and this latest threat aims to constrain the easing of remaining Western restrictions on Ukraine's ability to strike military targets within Russia using Western weapons.<6> Lifting remaining restrictions on Ukraine's use of Western weapons can allow Ukrainian forces to substantially degrade Russian operations by eliminating Russia's ability to use Russian territory as a sanctuary space to optimize its rear areas to support Russias campaign to destroy Ukrainian statehood.<7>

Russian naval vessels will make a port call in Cuba on June 1217, likely as part of a larger effort to invoke the historical memory of the Cuban Missile Crisis as part of Russias reflexive control campaign to encourage US self-deterrence. The Cuban Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces announced on June 6 that four Russian vessels from the Northern Fleet the Admiral Gorshkov frigate, the Kazan nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine, the Academic Pashin replenishment oiler, and the Nikolai Chiker rescue tug will make an official visit to the port of Havana from June 12 to 17.<8> Reuters reported that a senior US official stated that the Russian vessels may also stop in Venezuela on an unspecified date in Summer 2024.<9> The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) stated that Russias objective is to ensure a Russian naval presence in "operationally important areas of the far ocean zone."<10> Russian media noted that the Admiral Gorshkov is carrying Zircon hypersonic missiles, which the Kremlin has touted as capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.<11> The Cuban Ministry of Revolutionary Armed Forces specifically claimed, however, that none of the vessels are carrying nuclear weapons, so the Russian port call "does not represent a threat to the region."<12> ISW is unable to verify this Cuban assertion. The Russian Navy's port calls in states in the Western hemisphere that have historically strained relationships with the US aim to highlight Russia's strong relations with these states and are likely part of Russia's reflexive control campaign to force the US to self-deter and not enact policies that offer further support to Ukraine. Putin has repeatedly used nuclear saber-rattling to push the West to self-deter during times when the West has faced key moments on critical policy decisions in how to best support Ukraine.<13> The Kremlin likely hopes that the clear allusion to the Cuban Missile Crisis and the inclusion of a reportedly nuclear weaponscapable ship will force the West to engage in self-deterrence. The Kremlin likely coordinated the announcement of the Russian navy's port calls in Cuba with Putin's threats to provide long-range strike capabilities to unspecified actors for strikes against the West, as both activities can instill fear in the West. Putin notably did not threaten escalation in Ukraine or direct confrontation between Russia and the West.

Putin inadvertently indicated on June 5 that Russian forces may be suffering roughly 20,000 monthly casualties in Ukraine, which, if accurate, would be roughly equal to or just below the number of new personnel that Russia reportedly generates per month. Putin inadvertently suggested that roughly 5,000 Russian personnel are killed in action in Ukraine each month, which further suggests that roughly 15,000 Russian personnel are wounded in action, assuming a standard three-to-one wounded-to-killed casualty ratio.<14> ISW cannot confirm Putin's suggested casualty rate and his apparent inadvertent admission does not serve as a clear claim about Russian casualties in Ukraine. Putin's suggested figure does align somewhat with the lower end of Ukrainian reporting about Russian casualty rates, however. Ukrainian Ground Forces Commander Lieutenant General Oleksandr Pavlyuk stated on May 2 that Russian forces suffer about 25,000 to 30,000 killed and wounded personnel per month.<15> Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Deputy Chief Major General Vadym Skibitskyi reported on January 15, 2024, that Russia recruits around 30,000 personnel per month.<16> Ruslan Pukhov, the head of the Moscow-based Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies and a member of a Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) civilian advisory board, similarly claimed in mid-April 2024 that current Russian crypto-mobilization efforts are generating roughly 30,000 new personnel each month.<17> Russian officials are reportedly concerned about decreasing recruitment rates ahead of the expected Russian Summer 2024 offensive effort, and it is unclear if the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) has maintained the roughly 30,000 recruitment rate it reportedly had in January and April of 2024.<18>

Russian forces have notably established a more sustainable force generation apparatus in recent months for ongoing offensive operations and have intensified efforts to establish operational- and strategic-level reserves.<19> Russian forces have leveraged their possession of the theater-wide initiative in Ukraine to dictate a tempo of fighting in recent months that would generate casualties roughly equal to or slightly less than the rate of newly generated forces.<20> This has allowed Russian forces to immediately replenish losses along the frontline and sustain their overall offensive tempo in Ukraine but has set limits on the extent to which Russian forces can intensify offensive operations in any given direction.<21> The marginal amount of additional newly generated forces not immediately committed to the front as reinforcements has allowed Russian forces to gradually establish operational reserves.<22> Pavlyuk stated in early May 2024 that Russian forces intended to generate about 100,000 more personnel for use in offensive operations this June and July and 300,000 more personnel by the end of 2024.<23> Russia will likely fall far short of this immediate and near-term goal, even at the lower limit of reported or suggested monthly Russian casualties and the upper limit of reported monthly Russian force generation. ISW continues to assess that likely poorly trained and equipped Russian operational- and strategic-level reserves are unlikely to be ready to act as a first-echelon penetration force or as a second-echelon exploitation force capable of conducting large-scale assaults in 2024 if Ukrainian forces have the wherewithal to resist them.<24>

Limitations on Western capabilities to train partner pilots on F-16 fighter jets are reportedly creating bottlenecks that will affect Ukraine's ability to effectively field F-16s in the future. Politico reported that Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, and Belgium plan to send over 60 F-16 aircraft to Ukraine in Summer 2024.<25> Politico reported on June 5 that US, European, and Ukrainian officials and lawmakers stated that US, Danish, and Romanian F-16 pilot training facilities can only train a limited number of Ukrainian pilots, however. Politico reported that US Air Force Spokesperson Laurel Falls stated that the US National Guard is planning to train 12 Ukrainian pilots by the end of September 2024. The Danish training facility is reportedly training eight Ukrainian pilots, but this facility will reportedly close in November 2024, and the Romanian training facility is reportedly not yet operational. A full squadron of 20 aircraft requires 40 pilots. A former DoD official reportedly stated that if the current training constraints continue, Ukraine will only have enough pilots for a full squadron at the end of 2025. Ukraine will not be able to use all the Western-provided aircraft as effectively as possible until the necessary number of Ukrainian pilots complete training.

Select Western countries have indicated that Ukraine will be permitted to use F-16s for strikes within Russia but Ukraine's ability to operate F-16s near the international border is contingent on Ukraine's ability to destroy air defense assets in Russia.<26> Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated on May 18 that Ukraine needs about 120130 advanced fighter aircraft to achieve air parity with Russia but that Russia's biggest advantage is Western-imposed restrictions prohibiting Ukraine from using Western-provided weapons to strike military targets in Russia.<27> Ukraine may be able to set conditions to have Ukrainian aviation operate in the air domain to support Ukrainian ground operations if Ukraine is able to sufficiently destroy Russian air defense assets within Russia using Western long-range strike capabilities, obtain a sufficient cadre of pilots capable of flying F-16s, and receive a timely delivery and a sufficient number of F-16 airframes.

French authorities are investigating multiple recent pro-Russian sabotage and societal influence operations in France amid continued Russian hybrid war measures against NATO states and France aimed at weakening support for Ukraine. French media reported on June 5 and 6 that French authorities detained a man with pro-Russian beliefs and dual Ukrainian-Russian citizenship at a hotel on the outskirts of Paris after the man sustained injuries from making explosives in his hotel room.<28> French media reported that French authorities assess that the man sought to attack French security assistance allocated to Ukraine and that authorities found additional explosives, materials to make explosives, small arms, money, and passports in the man's hotel room. The man reportedly fought with the Russian military for two years in an unspecified location (presumably in Ukraine) prior to this incident.<29> NBC reported that a source within the French National Anti-Terrorist Prosecutors Office stated that it is "too early for us to say" whether the incident is connected to a Russian sabotage campaign, though French and other European intelligence agencies have recently warned about a projected increase in Russian sabotage operations in the coming weeks.<30> Macron plans to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on June 7 in Paris and Reuters reported that French officials may use the visit to announce the transfer of French military trainers to Ukraine.<31> Russian actors may be attempting to use sabotage attacks to degrade French support for Ukraine or disrupt French efforts to prepare materiel and military trainers for deployment to Ukraine. French authorities are also investigating potential Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) involvement in recent incidents likely aimed at fomenting domestic unrest and distrust of Macron.<32>

The Russian Investigative Committee announced the arrest of a French citizen on June 6 following the early June arrest in France. The Russian Investigative Committee announced and published footage of Russian authorities detaining an unspecified French citizen under charges of failing to provide proper documentation required by law for legally designated "foreign agents." The Russian Investigative Committee claimed in its report that the French citizen also spent "several years" on multiple trips to Russia collecting information about the Russian military that "can be used against the security of the state" if "foreign sources" obtain this information, essentially accusing the man of espionage but not yet formally charging him with espionage-related offenses.<33> Reuters reported that Swiss-based nonprofit Center for Humanitarian Dialogue stated that Russian authorities arrested Laurent Vinatier, who worked as a Russia and Eurasia advisor for the center, and that French President Emmanuel Macron also confirmed Vinatier's arrest.<34>

Ukrainian forces struck an oil refinery in Rostov Oblast and reportedly struck an oil depot in Belgorod Oblast on the night of June 5 to 6.<35> Rostov Oblast Governor Vasily Golubov acknowledged that a fire started at the Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery after a drone strike.<36> Geolocated footage published on June 6 shows a fire at the Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery in Rostov Oblast.<37> Radio Svoboda published satellite imagery on June 6 showing that the Ukrainian strike hit a liquified hydrocarbon gas production site.<38> Radio Svoboda reported that the Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery has a capacity of five million tons per year, and a prominent Russian milblogger claimed that the facility is mostly export oriented.<39> Ukrainian forces previously struck the Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery in June 2022 and March 2023.<40> Belgorod Oblast Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov claimed on June 6 that a Ukrainian drone strike caused a fire at an oil depot in Starooskolsky Gorodskoy Okrug.<41> ISW has not observed visual confirmation of the reported Ukrainian strike on the oil depot in Starooskolsky Raion.

Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada Committee on Human Rights, Deoccupation, and Reintegration Deputy Chairperson Ruslan Horbenko estimated that the Ukrainian military will recruit roughly 120,000 personnel in 2024, although the apparent slow arrival of Western security assistance will likely limit Ukraine's ability to sufficiently provision and equip these forces at scale in the near-term.<42> Horbenko stated in an interview with Ukrainian outlet Ukrinform published on June 6 that the Ukrainian military command and frontline commanders stated that the Ukrainian military needs 100,000 to 110,000 recruits in 2024. Western military aid to Ukraine is unlikely to provision and equip these forces with sufficient materiel given the current rate and limited scale at which Western military aid is arriving in Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky recently acknowledged that the slow arrival of US security assistance is complicating Ukrainian efforts to commit reserves to ongoing Ukrainian defensive operations since the Ukrainian military is unable to sufficiently equip reserve brigades to conduct rotations for frontline units.<43> The arrival of US and Western military assistance to Ukrainian forces on the frontline at scale will likely aid Ukrainian efforts to bring reserves closer to their intended end strength and sufficiently provision new planned brigades.

Russian and Taliban officials expressed interest in bilateral cooperation, indicating that Russia will likely soon delist the Taliban as a prohibited organization in Russia. Taliban acting Minister of Labor and Social Relations Abdul Umari gave an interview to Kremlin newswire TASS at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum (SPIEF) on June 6 in which he expressed interest in expanding economic and energy ties with Russia and stated that the Taliban is "looking forward to Russia's decision to exclude from the list of banned organizations ."<44> Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed support for delisting the Taliban on May 28, ahead of the Taliban delegation's visit to Russia.<45> Russian Security Council Secretary Sergei Shoigu stated at a meeting with the security council secretaries of Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) member states that Russia is concerned about the situation in Afghanistan and claimed that there are unspecified "new militant training camps" in Afghanistan and unspecified terrorists are moving from Syria and Iraq to Afghanistan.<46> Shoigu's statement indicates that Russia is likely interested in cooperating with the Taliban to degrade the Islamic State-Khorasan Province (IS-KP), an adversary of the Taliban and the perpetrators of the March 22 Crocus City Hall attack in Moscow.<47>

Key Takeaways:

Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to repackage longstanding, tired threats about direct confrontation with the West by claiming that Russian will provide long-range strike capabilities to unspecified actors for strikes against the West. Putin's threat aims to influence Western decision-making about Ukraine's ability to strike military targets within Russia using Western-provided weapons but notably does not threaten escalation in Ukraine or through direct confrontation, suggesting that the Kremlin may be adjusting to select Western perceptions about the credibility of such Russian threats.
Russian naval vessels will make a port call in Cuba on June 1217, likely as part of a larger effort to invoke the historical memory of the Cuban Missile Crisis as part of Russias reflexive control campaign to encourage US self-deterrence.
Putin inadvertently indicated on June 5 that Russian forces may be suffering roughly 20,000 monthly casualties in Ukraine, which, if accurate, would be roughly equal to or just below the number of new personnel that Russia reportedly generates per month.
Limitations on Western capabilities to train partner pilots on F-16 fighter jets are reportedly creating bottlenecks that will affect Ukraine's ability to effectively field F-16s in the future.
French authorities are investigating multiple recent pro-Russian sabotage and societal influence operations in France amid continued Russian hybrid war measures against NATO states and France aimed at weakening support for Ukraine.
The Russian Investigative Committee announced the arrest of a French citizen on June 6 following the early June arrest in France.
Ukrainian forces struck an oil refinery in Rostov Oblast and reportedly struck an oil depot in Belgorod Oblast on the night of June 5 to 6.
Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada Committee on Human Rights, Deoccupation, and Reintegration Deputy Chairperson Ruslan Horbenko estimated that the Ukrainian military will recruit roughly 120,000 personnel in 2024, although the apparent slow arrival of Western security assistance will likely limit Ukraine's ability to sufficiently provision and equip these forces at scale in the near-term.
Russian and Taliban officials expressed interest in bilateral cooperation, indicating that Russia will likely soon delist the Taliban as a prohibited organization in Russia.
Russian forces recently advanced within Vovchansk, southeast of Kupyansk, northeast of Siversk, northwest of Avdiivka, south of Velyka Novosilka, and near Krynky.
Russia's continued demographic crisis will present long-term constraints on human capital within Russia.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin articulated a theory of victory in Ukraine on June 7 that assumes that Russian forces will be able to continue gradual creeping advances indefinitely, prevent Ukraine from conducting successful operationally significant counteroffensive operations, and win a war of attrition against Ukrainian forces. Putin stated following his speech at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) that Russia does not need to conduct another call-up of reservists similar to Russias September 2022 partial mobilization because Russia is not trying to rapidly achieve its military objectives in Ukraine.<1> Putin acknowledged that the current Russian military contingent committed to the war in Ukraine (reportedly the Russian militarys entire combat-capable ground force as of January 2024) would be insufficient for a rapid victory but suggested that Russian forces are instead pursuing a more gradual approach.<2> Putin stated that Russian forces aim to "squeeze" Ukrainian forces out "of those territories that should be under Russian control" and therefore Russia does not need to conduct another mobilization wave.<3> Putin asserted that Russian crypto-mobilization efforts are sufficient for this approach and that Russia has recruited 160,000 new personnel so far in 2024 (a figure consistent with reports that the Russian military recruits between 20,000-30,000 recruits per month).<4>

Putin's assessment that gradual Russian gains will allow Russia to achieve his goals in Ukraine is predicated on the assumption that Ukrainian forces will be unable to liberate any significant territory that Russian forces seize and that the Russian military will be able to sustain offensive operations that achieve gradual tactical gains regardless of heavy losses. Western intelligence has previously assessed that Putin assesses that US and Western support to Ukraine is finite" and that Russian forces have blunted Ukrainian efforts to retake significant territory.<5> Putin's assessment has been reinforced by the recent months of delayed Western security assistance and corresponding Ukrainian materiel constraints, which allowed Russian forces to seize and maintain the theater-wide initiative and conduct consistent offensive operations throughout eastern Ukraine that achieved gradual tactical gains.<6> Putin's June 7 comments support ISW's previous assessment that Putin's assessment of Ukrainian capabilities and how Putins perceived limits to Western support would incentivize Putin to pursue creeping offensive operations indefinitely if more rapid operations that lead to rapid decisive results seem unattainable.<7>

Putin's theory of victory rests on Russia's ability to outlast and overcome pledged Western security assistance to Ukraine and Ukrainian efforts to mobilize more of its economy and population for the war effort, indicating that Putin likely assesses that Russian forces will be able to leverage their advantages in manpower and materiel to overwhelm on Ukrainian forces. Putin's apparent assessment that Russia can "squeeze" Ukrainian forces out of all the lands it desires to occupy assumes that Ukraine will not acquire and sustain the manpower and materiel required to prevent indefinite Russian attempts to gradually advance along the front or needed to contest the initiative and conduct operationally significant counteroffensive operations. Ukrainian forces have previously shown that when they are well provisioned, they can prevent Russian forces from making even marginal tactical gains, force Russian offensive operations to culminate, and launch counteroffensive operations that liberate operationally significant territory.<8> Russian forces are currently leveraging the theater-wide initiative in Ukraine to dictate a tempo of fighting that generates casualties roughly equal to or slightly less than the rate of newly generated forces, which has allowed Russian forces to sustain their overall offensive tempo in Ukraine.<9> Russia is also further mobilizing its defense industrial base (DIB) and is generally far ahead of Ukraine and the West in this regard.<10> Putin and the Russian military command likely assess that Russian numerical manpower and materiel advantages will allow Russia to sustain this force generation replacement rate and field the required materiel needed to sustain indefinite creeping advances.

This strategy largely relies on Russia's ability to retain the theater-wide initiative, which Ukrainian forces can contest if Ukraine addresses its ongoing manpower challenges and receives sufficient, timely, and consistent Western security assistance.<11> Western security assistance pledges and Ukrainian force generation efforts will eventually allow Ukraine to accumulate the forces and materiel it needs to contest the initiative if ongoing Russian offensive operations are not successful in forcing Ukraine to divert manpower and materiel to defensive operations.<12>

Russian efforts to prevent Ukraine from accumulating the personnel and resources Ukraine needs to contest the initiative therefore are a part of an attritional war approach, in which the Russian military command believes that ongoing Russian offensive operations will inflict relatively more significant losses on Ukrainian forces and force Ukraine to divert manpower and materiel to stabilize the front instead of preparing for future counteroffensive efforts. This approach also requires that Russian forces avoid suffering outsized losses that would prevent Russia from sustaining offensive operations. There are limits to Russian force generation, as Putin himself admits with his continued aversion to another partial mobilization wave, and Russia's ability to expand its DIB has extensively relied on the refurbishment of extensive Soviet-era stocks, which are a finite resource.<13> Putin and the Russian military command likely calculate that these limits will not begin constraining Russia's ability to sustain its offensive tempo in Ukraine in the near-to-medium term, however. This approach requires that Ukraine is not able to inflict losses on Russian forces that decrease this offensive tempo or force Russian offensive efforts to culminate. ISW continues to assess that Ukraine should contest the initiative as soon as possible because Russian forces are reaping a variety of benefits from holding the initiative, including their ability to pursue a strategy of attritional warfare.<14>

Putin's theory of victory hinges on a critical assumption that the West will abandon Ukraine to Russian victory, either on its own accord or in response to Russian efforts to persuade the West to do so, and it is far from clear that the West will do so. Putin notably did not identify what specific goals he assesses gradual tactical Russian gains will achieve, although the Russian military command has likely previously believed that such gains would encourage Western debates about continued support for Ukraine and cause weakened Western support that exacerbates Ukrainian materiel constraints.<15> Putin also did not specify which territory "should" be under Russian control, part of continued Kremlin rhetoric that purposefully leaves open room for further territorial conquest in Ukraine.<16> The current rate of Russian advance suggests that Russian forces may pursue individual operationally significant objectives over the course of many months if not years, and efforts to not bound the Kremlin's territorial objectives likely intend to justify indefinite creeping offensive operations as long as it takes to achieve Western and Ukrainian capitulation.<17> Putin may believe that as long as Russia can prevent Ukraine from contesting the initiative he can lock in limited territorial conquests while encouraging Western debates about continued aid to Ukraine once current pledges of security assistance are expended.

The end of Western security assistance would eventually lead to the collapse of the frontline and total Russian victory in Ukraine, a reality that recent months of delayed Western security assistance has further highlighted.<18> The West must proactively provide Ukrainian forces with the necessary equipment and weapons at the scale, timing, and regularity that Ukrainian forces require for operations that liberate significant swaths of occupied Ukraine and challenge Putin's belief that he can gradually subsume Ukraine should rapid total victory appear unreachable. The West also maintains the ability to substantially disrupt Russian operations at scale by allowing Ukraine to use Western-provided weapons to strike Russias operational rear and deep rear areas in Russian territory.<19> The West must not surrender to Russia's strategic effort to destroy Western commitment to Ukrainian survival and must remember that Ukrainian victory has always been possible as long as the West remains committed to that goal.<20>

Putin indirectly indicated that Ukrainian strikes on Russian territory with Western-provided weapons do not cross a supposed Russian "red line" that would result in Russian nuclear escalation. Putin stated that Russia's nuclear doctrine calls for Russia to only use nuclear weapons in the event of "exceptional cases" of threats to Russia's sovereignty and territorial integrity.<21> Putin stated that he does not think such an "exceptional" case has arisen so "there is no such need" for Russia to use nuclear weapons. Ukrainian forces have struck military targets in Belgorod Oblast with US-provided HIMARS systems using GMLRS since early June 2024.<22> Putins June 7 statement is a significant rhetorical reversal given that Putin and other Kremlin officials have previously threatened Russian nuclear weapon use should Western states allow Ukraine to strike into Russian territory with Western-provided weapons.<23> Western and Ukrainian policies and actions have crossed Russia's supposed "red lines" several times throughout the war without drawing a significant Russian reaction, indicating that many of Russia's "red lines" are most likely information operations designed to push the West to self-deter.<24>

Putin heavily focused on proposals to solve Russia's labor shortage issues during his speech at SPIEF on June 7. Putin outlined a 10-point plan to grow the Russian economy and acknowledged that Russia is suffering from demographic challenges and labor shortages.<25> Putin called on the Russian government to enact multiple reforms to increase the labor supply and productivity, such as improving education and training, automating and digitalizing Russian industry, increasing the use of artificial intelligence (AI), and increasing spending on research and development. Putin highlighted the necessity of migrant labor to increase Russia's economic growth but stated that Russia has not yet developed a "meaningful" migration policy. Putin specified that Russia only needs skilled and educated migrant laborers with a knowledge of Russian language and culture and who will "not create any problems for local citizens in the workplace and in life." Putin ended his SPIEF appearance by stating that Russia "will treat the culture and traditions of peoples of the Russian Federation" with respect as "unity is strength." Putin has touted Russia as a unified multiethnic and multinational state, but his June 7 statements demonstrate the differing policies and perceptions towards the indigenous, federally recognized peoples of Russia and migrants.<26> Putin's migration policy proposals demonstrate how the Kremlin continues to struggle to balance Russia's need for migrants to compensate for labor shortages and wide-scale anti-migrant sentiments in Russia, particularly as the Kremlin tries to further mobilize the Russian defense industrial base (DIB).

Putin attempted to frame Russia's economic issues in a positive light, likely to prepare Russian citizens to make more personal sacrifices as Russia sustains a protracted war in Ukraine at the expense of Russian citizens standards of living. Putin framed Russia's labor shortages as resulting from Russia's alleged "record low" unemployment, not a consequence of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.<27> Putin stated that people who have reached retirement age have experience and knowledge that is useful to the Russian economy and that many pensioners have "aspirations" to continue working. Putin proposed that the Russian government annually increase pensions starting in February 2025 for pensioners who continue to work even after they reach retirement age. Putin met with St. Petersburg Governor Alexander Beglov before his speech at SPIEF, during which Beglov presented the idea of increasing pensions as a direct request from working pensioners.<28> Large-scale protests erupted in Russia in 2018 when the Kremlin announced a raise in the retirement age, and Putin is likely trying to use monetary incentives to push pensioners to choose to work beyond the retirement age to help ease Russia's labor shortages.<29> Putin also highlighted the strength of Russia's DIB, claiming that Russia has increased its production of ammunition by more than 20 times in an unspecified time frame and that Russia has superior aviation and armored vehicle technology than the West.<30> Putin claimed that the Russian DIB has increased its production of civilian products by about five percent over the past two years, likely to justify Russia's increased defense spending and recent efforts to mobilize the DIB to civilians. Sberbank CEO Herman Gref, however, stated on June 7 at SPIEF that the alleged "unprecedented" growth of wages in Russia will last at most another year.<31>

Putin continued efforts to portray Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as an illegitimate president and identified the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada (parliament) as a legitimate actor with which the Kremlin can negotiate instead of Zelensky. Putins recent statements are the latest in a series designed to obfuscate the legality of Zelensky's extended term by misrepresenting the Ukrainian Constitution and Ukrainian laws.<32> Putin continued to claim that Zelensky is an illegitimate actor who has "usurped" power in Ukraine as the Ukrainian Constitution does not allow for a Ukrainian president to extend his term beyond the five-year fixed term.<33> Putin cherrypicked specific articles of the Ukrainian Constitution to make his argument, including articles he also recently grossly mischaracterized or took out of their legal context during a speech on May 28.<34> Putin claimed on June 7 that the Verkhovna Rada's power is extended under a period of martial law and that presidential powers should be "transferred to the speaker of the Rada" under articles 109, 110, and 111 of the Ukrainian Constitution now that Zelensky has "usurped" power.<35> Article 109 states that "the resignation of the President of Ukraine enters into force from the moment he or she personally announces the statement of resignation at a meeting of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine."<36> Article 110 states that "the inability of the President of Ukraine to exercise his or her powers for reasons of health shall be determined at a meeting of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and confirmed by a decision adopted by the majority of its constitutional composition."<37> Article 111 states that "the President of Ukraine may be removed from office by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine by the procedure of impeachment, in the event that he or she commits state treason or other crime." Putin is invoking these articles to suggest that Zelensky's extended term is "illegal" and that the Verkhovna Rada is the single authority to assume power should Zelensky resign, be impeached, or otherwise leave office before the natural end of his term. Putin also invoked Article 83, which states that in the event of martial law, the Verkhovna Rada's powers are extended, and Article 103, which states that a Ukrainian president's term is five years - again claiming that presidential terms cannot be extended under martial law while the Verkhovna Rada's term can be extended.<38>

Putin claimed that the Ukrainian Constitution does not mention extending the Ukrainian presidential term, but this statement ignores the Ukrainian legal framework about martial law. Article 19 of the Ukrainian law "On the Legal Regime of Martial Law" states that presidential and Verkhovna Rada elections are prohibited under martial law and forbids the Ukrainian president from abolishing martial law as long as there exists a "threat of attack or danger to the state independence of Ukraine and its territorial integrity."<39> Article 64 of the Ukrainian constitution states that "under conditions of war or a state of emergency, specific restrictions on rights and freedoms may be established with the indication of the period of validity of these restrictions" except for the rights and freedoms stipulated by certain articles, none of which are mentioned above.<40>

Putin's recent focus on legitimizing the Verkhovna Rada and its speaker in lieu of Zelensky highlights a target for Russian destabilization operations.<41> ISW has repeatedly assessed that recent Russian information operations aim to sow multiple divisions between the Ukrainian people, military, military leadership, and political leadership to undermine domestic and international support for Zelensky and Ukraine's decision to defend against the Russian invasion.<42> Ukrainian intelligence has identified a Russian information campaign called "Maidan-3" that specifically aims to spread doubt about Zelensky's legitimacy and has projected that these information operations will peak from late May to July 2024.<43> These information operations may intend to set informational conditions to eventually declare a Kremlin-backed actor as Ukrainian president, Verkhovna Rada speaker, or another title with whom the Kremlin claims it can "legally" negotiate with instead of Zelensky.<44> Two figures previously floated as possible replacements for Zelensky have since emerged in the wake of these information operations.<45> Former pro-Russia Ukrainian MP Viktor Medvedchuk recently participated in the information operation to discredit Zelensky.<46> Former pro-Russia Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych traveled to Minsk on May 24 for an unspecified reason, and Ukrainian intelligence described Yanukovych's last trip to Minsk in 2022 as a Kremlin effort to prepare Yanukovych for a "special operation" to be reinstated as president of Ukraine.<47>

Putin attempted to introduce his children and the children of other senior Russian officials to the public sphere at SPIEF, likely to set conditions for them to eventually assume high-profile and powerful roles in the Russian government. Independent Belarusian outlet Vot Tak reported that Putin's youngest daughter Katerina Tikhonova spoke virtually on a June 6 panel about the role of defense industrial organizations and discussed Russian technological development and import substitution.<48> Vot Tak also reported that Putin's eldest daughter Maria Vorontsova spoke on a panel about biotechnology on June 7.<49> Vot Tak reported that Tikhonova spoke at SPIEF in 2021 in a panel about BRICS and that Vorontsova has only previously attended SPIEF as a guest where she did two interviews on the sidelines.<50> Kremlin newswire TASS characterized Tikhonova as Innopraktika Company General Director and notably went out of its way to promote Vorontsovas professional titles and accolades by highlighting her position as Deputy Head of the Russian Faculty of Fundamental Medicine at Moscow State University and a member of the Russian Association for the Promotion of Science, and a Candidate of Medical Science (equivalent to a PhD of Medical Science).<51> TASS did not mention their familial connection to Putin. TASS is likely attempting to portray Tikhonova and Vorontsova as authoritative figures and to introduce them as trustworthy and knowledgeable individuals to the Russian public.

A Russian insider source claimed that the children of other senior Russian officials participated in SPIEF including: both sons of former Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Head and current Russian Institute for Strategic Studies Director Mikhail Fradkov - First Deputy Administrator of the Presidential Administration Pavel Fradkov and CEO and Chairperson of Russian state-owned bank Promsvyazbank Pyotr Fradkov; Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov's daughter Yelizaveta Peskova; Presidential Aide Nikolai Patrushev's son Russian Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev; Presidental Administration Head Anton Vaino's son the Kremlin's Agency for Strategic Initiatives' youth work head Alexander Vaino; Russian oligarch Boris Rotenberg's son Vice President of Gazprombank Roman Rotenberg; Presidental Administration First Deputy Head Sergei Kiriyenko's son Alexander Kiriyenko; Security Council Secretary Sergei Shoigu's daughter Ksenia Shoigu; and Putin's first cousin once removed ("niece") and Defenders of the Fatherland Foundation Chairperson Anna Tsivileva.<52>

US National Security Council Senior Director for Arms Control, Disarmament, and Nonproliferation Pranay Vaddi stated that the US has prepared a new nuclear weapons policy specifically to deter Russia, the People's Republic of China (PRC), North Korea, and Iran.<53> Vaddi stated at the 2024 Arms Control Association meeting that the US may have to deploy more strategic nuclear weapons in the coming years and that the US should be prepared if the US president makes such a decision.<54> Vaddi stated that the US remains committed to international arms control and non-proliferation values and agreements. Vaddi stated that Russia has repeatedly rejected talks with the US to negotiate a successor to the New START strategic arms limitation pact, which expires in 2026, and that the PRC has refused to discuss expanding its nuclear arsenal with the US.

The US Department of Defense (DoD) announced a $225 million security assistance package for Ukraine on June 7.<55> The package includes missiles for HAWK air defense systems; Stinger anti-aircraft missiles; ammunition for HIMARS; 155mm and 105mm artillery rounds; M113 armored personnel carriers; Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked, Wire-Guided (TOW) missiles; Javelin and AT-4 anti-armor systems; and other materiel.<56>

French President Emmanuel Macron announced on June 6 that France will provide Ukraine with an unspecified number of Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets and equip and train a brigade of 4,500 Ukrainian soldiers.<57> Macron stated that Ukrainian pilots will likely train between five and six months on Mirage-2000-5 aircraft in France and stated that Ukraine will have Mirage-2000-5 pilots by the end of 2024.<58>

The Russian Supreme Court declared an organization that does not exist as "extremist" on June 7, consistent with previous ISW assessments that Russia seeks to expand the legal definition of "extremism" to increasingly prosecute domestic anti-war sentiment. The Russian Supreme Court declared the "Anti-Russian Separatist Movement" and its "structural divisions" as extremist in accordance with a Russian Ministry of Justice request to this effect submitted on April 26.<59> Russian opposition media has noted that no such organization exists, and Russian authorities have previously designated other non-existent organizations meant to encompass broader social movements as extremist.<60> Russian authorities likely intend to use this new extremist designation to further prosecute anti-war sentiment among Russians and within occupied Ukraine, particularly movements opposing Russias occupation of Ukraine and movements within ethnic minority communities advocating for better treatment of Russian military personnel and mobilized personnel from these communities.<61>

The Kremlin continues efforts to destabilize the Balkans and dismantle the 1995 Dayton Accords that ended the 1992-1995 Bosnian War, likely as part of a larger strategic effort that seeks to divide and distract Europe. Russian President Vladimir Putin and President of Republika Srpska (the Serbian political entity within Bosnia and Herzegovina) Milorad Dodik met on June 6 in St. Petersburg, and Dodik attended the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).<62> Dodik announced in a June 7 interview with Kremlin newswire TASS that Republika Srpska will adopt a Russia-style "foreign agents" bill, which would restrict the activities of non-profit organizations that receive foreign funding, that the government had previously withdrawn.<63> Dodik also stated Republika Srpska's intention to hold a referendum on its independence from Bosnia and Herzegovina at an unspecified date.<64> The Kremlin has previously leveraged its relationship with Republika Srpska to further influence the Balkans, sow divisions in the West, and undermine the Dayton Accords to throw the Balkans into turmoil.<65>

Key Takeaways:

Russian President Vladimir Putin articulated a theory of victory in Ukraine on June 7 that assumes that Russian forces will be able to continue gradual creeping advances indefinitely, prevent Ukraine from conducting successful operationally significant counteroffensive operations, and win a war of attrition against Ukrainian forces.
Putin's theory of victory rests on Russia's ability to outlast and overcome pledged Western security assistance to Ukraine and Ukrainian efforts to mobilize more of its economy and population for the war effort, indicating that Putin likely assesses that Russian forces will be able to leverage their advantages in manpower and materiel to overwhelm on Ukrainian forces.
Putin's theory of victory hinges on a critical assumption that the West will abandon Ukraine to Russian victory, either on its own accord or in response to Russian efforts to persuade the West to do so, and it is far from clear that the West will do so.
Putin indirectly indicated that Ukrainian strikes on Russian territory with Western-provided weapons do not cross a supposed Russian "red line" that would result in Russian nuclear escalation.
Putin heavily focused on proposals to solve Russia's labor shortage issues during his speech at SPIEF on June 7.
Putin attempted to frame Russia's economic issues in a positive light, likely to prepare Russian citizens to make more personal sacrifices as Russia sustains a protracted war in Ukraine at the expense of Russian citizens standards of living.
Putin continued efforts to portray Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as an illegitimate president and identified the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada (parliament) as a legitimate actor with which the Kremlin can negotiate instead of Zelensky. Putins recent statements are the latest in a series designed to obfuscate the legality of Zelensky's extended term by misrepresenting the Ukrainian Constitution and Ukrainian laws.
Putin attempted to introduce his children and the children of other senior Russian officials to the public sphere at SPIEF, likely to set conditions for them to eventually assume high-profile and powerful roles in the Russian government.
US National Security Council Senior Director for Arms Control, Disarmament, and Nonproliferation Pranay Vaddi stated that the US has prepared a new nuclear weapons policy specifically to deter Russia, the People's Republic of China (PRC), North Korea, and Iran.
The US Department of Defense (DoD) announced a $225 million security assistance package for Ukraine on June 7.
French President Emmanuel Macron announced on June 6 that France will provide Ukraine with an unspecified number of Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets and equip and train a brigade of 4,500 Ukrainian soldiers.
The Russian Supreme Court declared an organization that does not exist as "extremist" on June 7, consistent with previous ISW assessments that Russia seeks to expand the legal definition of "extremism" to increasingly prosecute domestic anti-war sentiment.
The Kremlin continues efforts to destabilize the Balkans and dismantle the 1995 Dayton Accords that ended the 1992-1995 Bosnian War, likely as part of a larger strategic effort that seeks to divide and distract Europe.
Russian forces recently advanced near Svatove, near Chasiv Yar, and northwest of Avdiivka.

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The Russian military command is reportedly transferring an unspecified number of forces to the Ukrainian-Russian border area near Kharkiv Oblast, but it is unclear if the Russian military command plans to immediately commit these redeployed forces to combat or use them to reinforce the Northern Grouping of Forces to bring it closer to its reported planned end strength. Chechen Akhmat Spetsnaz Commander Apty Alaudinov claimed in an interview with Russian state media outlet RT on June 8 that Russian authorities decided to transfer elements of the Akhmat Spetsnaz to the Kharkiv direction from unspecified areas at the end of May 2024.<1> Alaudinov claimed that the "Kashtan" detachment, formerly known as Akhmat "Kamerton" detachment and renamed after its new commander, is operating in the Kharkiv direction. Ukrainian Khortytsia Group of Forces Spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Nazar Voloshyn stated on June 8 that Akhmat forces are serving as blocking units specialized disciplinary units that fire upon friendly forces if they engage in an unauthorized retreat in the international border area, and it is possible that the Russian military command transferred Akhmat forces to the area solely for this purpose and not to conduct offensive operations.<2> Voloshyn also stated that the Russian military command is increasing the Russian force grouping near the border area by transferring elements of unspecified regiments and brigades from other sectors of the front, including from occupied Kherson Oblast. Voloshyn stated that the Russian military command intends to commit unspecified airborne (VDV) elements and additional elements of the 11th and 44th Army Corps (both of the Leningrad Military District ) to offensive operations in unspecified areas of the border area. Elements of the 11th and 44th Army Corps have been conducting offensive operations in northern Kharkiv Oblast, and a battalion of the 98th VDV Division is reportedly operating in a border area in Kursk Oblast.<3> The Ukrainian Resistance Center stated on June 8 that the Russian military command is redeploying unspecified units and drone operators from the Kherson direction to the Kharkiv direction.<4> Russian forces reportedly had roughly 35,000 personnel in the international border area as a part of the Northern Grouping of Forces when they started offensive operations on May 10, whereas Ukrainian sources have indicated that the Russian military initially sought to concentrate at least 50,000 to 70,000 personnel in the international border area as of early May.<5> It is unclear whether Russian forces have altered the planned end strength of the Northern Grouping of Forces since launching the offensive operation into northern Kharkiv Oblast on May 10. A Russian milblogger claimed on June 6 that the Russian military command has only committed about 15,000 personnel to the offensive operation in northern Kharkiv Oblast.<6>

Ukrainian military observer Kostyantyn Mashovets noted on June 8 that a fraction of the reported 30,000 personnel that Russia generates each month arrives at the front as combat force replacements and reinforcements and that Russian force generation efforts have allowed Russian forces to establish only limited operational and strategic reserves. Mashovets stated that on average each Russian operational grouping of forces receives between 1,000 to 1,500 combat personnel as replacements or reinforcements every month and may receive 2,000 if the grouping is responsible for intensified offensive operations.<7> There are six operational Russian grouping of forces operating within and near Ukraine, meaning that Mashovets is suggesting that Russian forces receive a total of 6,000 to 12,000 new combat personnel each month.<8> This figure is not incongruent with Ukrainian and Russian reports from January and April 2024 that Russia recruits 30,000 new personnel per month since a large number of these new personnel will fulfill combat support and combat service support roles or later assume combat arms roles following training.<9> Russian President Vladimir Putin stated on June 7 that Russia has recruited 160,000 new personnel so far in 2024, a figure fairly consistent with reports that the Russian military recruits about 30,000 personnel a month.<10> Russian forces have leveraged their possession of the theater-wide initiative to determine a tempo of fighting in Ukraine in recent months that appears to generate casualties roughly equal to or slightly less than the rate of newly generated forces.<11> This careful balance between Russian casualties and newly generated forces requires that Russian forces not significantly intensify offensive operations for a prolonged period of time, however. This balance becomes even more narrow when considering losses and new force generation for just Russian combat personnel.<12> ISW has observed a "pulsing" of Russian offensive operations along the front in recent months, wherein Russian forces alternate between intensified assaults and a lower operational tempo to replenish losses.<13> The availability of new combat personnel is likely one of several determining factors for when Russian forces decide to alternate between intensified offensive operations.

Mashovets stated that Russian forces have accumulated at most 60,000 personnel in operational and strategic reserves over the past six to eight months (roughly from October 2023 to June 2024).<14> Russian forces have likely not properly trained or equipped these reserves, which they have previously used largely as manpower pools for restaffing and reinforcing committed units conducting grinding, infantry-heavy assaults with occasional limited mechanized assaults.<15> ISW continues to assess that planned Russian operational- and strategic-level reserves are unlikely to be ready to act as a first-echelon penetration force or as a second-echelon exploitation force capable of conducting effective large-scale combined arms assaults.<16> These reported limited operational- and strategic-level Russian reserves likely will be insufficient to support simultaneous large-scale offensive efforts in several directions. The Russian military command will likely have to choose one main effort during its expected summer offensive effort, if it intends for these reserves to sustain a large-scale offensive operation.

Ukrainian forces conducted a drone strike against a Russian military airfield in the North Ossetia-Alania Republic on the night of June 7 to 8. Ukrainian outlet Suspilne reported on June 8 that its sources in the Ukrainian special services stated that Ukraine's Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) conducted a drone strike against an airfield in North Ossetia on the night of June 7 to 8.<17> Geolocated footage published on June 8 shows a drone targeting the Mozdok Airbase followed by a rising smoke plume.<18> North Ossetia-Alania Republic Head Sergei Menyaylo claimed that Russian forces shot down three drones targeting a military airfield in Mozdok and that unspecified objects sustained minor damage and caught fire.<19> The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that Russian forces destroyed a drone over the North Ossetia-Alania Republic on the morning of June 8.<20> A Russian milblogger amplified footage of Russian forces reportedly shooting down a drone near oil infrastructure in Nogai Raion, Republic of Dagestan, but ISW has not observed further evidence of Ukrainian drone strikes in the area.<21> One Russian milblogger, however, claimed that a number of sources "erroneously" reported the strike near the Mozdok airfield as a strike against the oil field in Nogai Raion.<22>

Russian strikes have caused widespread damage to Ukraine's energy grid, and Ukraine will continue to face serious constraints on power generation capacity. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal stated on June 7 that only 27 percent of large Ukrainian thermal power plants (TPPs) are operational and that Russian missile and drone strikes damaged or destroyed the other 73 percent.<23> Shmyhal stated that recent Russian strikes have knocked out 9.2 gigawatts of Ukrainian generation capacity and stated that this is half of the generation capacity that Ukraine used in Winter 2023-2024.<24> The Financial Times (FT) reported on June 5 that Russia has knocked out or captured over half of Ukraine's generation capacity, bringing Ukrainian energy production to below 20 gigawatts from 55 gigawatts before the start of the full-scale invasion in 2022.<25> Shmyhal stated that Russian forces have destroyed 42 power generators and damaged 20 hydropower generators at Ukrainian energy generation facilities.<26> Shmyhal emphasized that Ukraine is taking steps to relieve pressure on Ukraine's energy grid and plans to restore as much energy generation capacity as possible before Winter 2024-2025.<27> Ukraines nuclear operator Energoatom stated on June 7 that it connected an additional reactor at an unspecified nuclear power plant to the energy grid.<28> The head of Ukrainian state electricity transmission operator Ukrenergo, Volodymyr Kudrytskyi, stated that this will relieve Ukrainian power constraints for the next two weeks before increased summer consumption begins.<29> Shmyhal stated that Ukraine is currently importing 1.7 gigawatts from the European Union (EU) but that the EU is able to export a maximum of 2.2 gigawatts to Ukraine.<30>

US President Joe Biden met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Paris on June 7. Biden and Zelensky discussed the battlefield situation, Ukraine's defensive capabilities, preparations to finalize a US-Ukraine bilateral security agreement, and the upcoming Ukraine peace conference in Switzerland.<31> Biden apologized for the delay in US security assistance to Ukraine and reiterated US support for Ukraine against Russian aggression.<32> Zelensky emphasized that Ukraine needs more security assistance to strengthen its defense of Kharkiv Oblast and that Ukraine needs more opportunities to strike military targets in Russia to protect against Russian aggression from across the international border.<33> ISW continues to assess that the delays in US security assistance to Ukraine have severely constrained Ukrainian defensive capabilities in recent months and emboldened Russian forces to launch and make tactically significant gains in their new offensive operation in northern Kharkiv Oblast and double down on operations elsewhere in the theater.<34>

Longtime Russian Central Bank Head Elvira Nabiullina is reportedly a balancing force among Russian President Vladimir Putin's economic advisors despite pressure for Russian officials to unequivocally support the long-term war effort in Ukraine. Bloomberg reported on June 7 that former Russian Service for Financial Markets Head and former Central Bank Deputy Head Oleg Vyugin stated that Nabiullina has known Putin for years and has the "exclusive right" to tell Putin "what he doesn't like" because Putin views her as straightforward and uninfluenced by corruption.<35> Bloomberg reported that Nabiullina balances against Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, who advocates for Russia to shape its budget to ensure a victorious Russian war effort, and former economic aid and new Kremlin Deputy Chief of Staff Maxim Oreshkin, who portrays the Russian war as a global conflict against the West. Bloomberg cited a senior government official who stated that Nabiullina is raising concerns about the impacts of Russian labor shortages caused by the war and a "swollen" budget amid high defense spending. A leaked video published on March 2, 2022, showed Nabiullina speaking about her hyperfocus on the Russian economy after the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine and concern over greater domestic sacrifices.<36> Bloomberg reported that Putin has begun overruling Nabiullina in some cases but assessed that Putin is unlikely to remove her for the foreseeable future.<37> Bloomberg cited anonymous sources as saying that Putin wants to avoid dismissing personnel in a way that could be viewed as destabilizing or as being done under pressure.

Nabiullina is especially notable because she has previously mitigated the economic fallout of Putin's geopolitical ambitions and reportedly tried to resign from her position in May 2022 in opposition to the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.<38> The Economist reported on May 31 that Nabiullina ensured the stability of the ruble after Putin's annexation of Crimea in 2014 and that in 2022 she feared that her resignation would lead to the arrests of her deputies at the Central Bank.<39> The Economist reported that Nabiullina has largely favored regulatory market reforms but that she learned early in her career in the late 1990s and early 2000s that the Russian economy can only take so much change. The Economist noted that she has navigated accordingly as she gained power under Putin, implementing some regulatory changes within the existing Russian economic system, and has shifted her focus to minimize the economic impact of the war in Ukraine on the Russian public since February 2022. Nabiullina's reported ability to speak candidly to Putin about the impact of the war on the Russian economy is especially significant given Putin's recent efforts to oust any officials who have lost Putin's favor or otherwise perceived as disloyal to Putin and his war effort.<40> Putin has recently been preoccupied with assuaging domestic concerns about Russia's economy and has attempted to portray Russia's economic issues positively, and he may be more willing to tolerate Nabiullina's candor or even appreciate her honesty given her track record for stability.<41>

Ukraine's Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) and Russian opposition outlets reported that unspecified actors attempted to assassinate the former Russian occupation mayor of Kupyansk, Kharkiv Oblast, Hennadiy Matsehora in Stary Oskol, Belgorod Oblast on June 7.<42> The GUR stated that Matsehora is in critical condition at a hospital in Moscow.<43> The Ukrainian Kharkiv Oblast Prosecutor's Office reported on May 20 that Matsehora, who was originally lawfully elected as Mayor of Kupyansk in 2020, defected and helped Russian forces in February 2022 and that Ukrainian authorities will try Mateshora in absentia for treason.<44>

Key Takeaways:

The Russian military command is reportedly transferring an unspecified number of forces to the Ukrainian-Russian border area near Kharkiv Oblast, but it is unclear if the Russian military command plans to immediately commit these redeployed forces to combat or use them to reinforce the Northern Grouping of Forces to bring it closer to its reported planned end strength.
Ukrainian military observer Kostyantyn Mashovets noted on June 8 that a fraction of the reported 30,000 personnel that Russia generates each month arrives at the front as combat force replacements and reinforcements and that Russian force generation efforts have allowed Russian forces to establish only limited operational and strategic reserves.
Ukrainian forces conducted a drone strike against a Russian military airfield in the North Ossetia-Alania Republic on the night of June 7 to 8.
Russian strikes have caused widespread damage to Ukraine's energy grid, and Ukraine will continue to face serious constraints on power generation capacity.
US President Joe Biden met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Paris on June 7.
Longtime Russian Central Bank Head Elvira Nabiullina is reportedly a balancing force among Russian President Vladimir Putin's economic advisors despite pressure for Russian officials to unequivocally support the long-term war effort in Ukraine.
Ukraine's Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) and Russian opposition outlets reported that unspecified actors attempted to assassinate the former Russian occupation mayor of Kupyansk, Kharkiv Oblast, Hennadiy Matsehora in Stary Oskol, Belgorod Oblast on June 7.
Russian forces recently advanced north of Kharkiv City, southeast of Kupyansk, within easternmost Chasiv Yar, northwest of Avdiivka, and southwest of Donetsk City.
Russian actors are using video appeals from Russian servicemen to refute reports of high Russian losses in northern Kharkiv Oblast.

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The Biden Administrations limited policy change permitting Ukraine to use US-provided weapons to strike some Russian military targets in a small area within Russian territory has reduced the size of Russias ground sanctuary by only 16 percent at maximum. US policy still preserves at least 84 percent of Russia's ground sanctuary territory within range of Ukrainian ATACMS. US policy restricting Ukraines usage of US-provided weapons has effectively created a vast sanctuary territory in range of US-provided weapons but that Ukrainian forces are not allowed to strike with US-provided weapons which Russia exploits to shield its combat forces, command and control, logistics, and rear area support services that the Russian military uses to conduct its military operations in Ukraine.<1> US policy still protects the vast majority of Russias operational rear and deep rear, and US policy forbids Ukraine from using ATACMS anywhere in Russia.<2> US President Joe Bidens limited policy change in late May 2024 regarding the use of US-provided weapons against military targets in Russia removed a maximum of 16 percent of Russia's ground sanctuary, assuming that Ukrainian forces can strike all legitimate Russian military targets in range of Ukrainian HIMARS using GMLRS in Belgorod, Kursk, and Bryansk oblasts. It is far from clear that Ukrainian forces have permission to do so, however. Senior US officials have described Ukraines ability to strike into Russia with GMLRS as being for counterbattery fire and geographically bounded to the Kharkiv area, and have stated that Ukrainian forces may strike Russian military objects deployed just across the border, suggesting that Ukraine may be prohibited from striking Russian military targets further in the rear or in other areas in Kursk and Bryansk oblasts that are still in range of GMLRS.<3> US officials statements also indicate that Ukrainian forces may be constrained from striking Russian military targets that are not actively involved in ground attacks and strikes against Ukraine.<4> The reduction of the sanctuary spaces area may be less than 16 percent, therefore.

Key Takeaways:

The Biden Administrations limited policy change permitting Ukraine to use US-provided weapons to strike some Russian military targets in a small area within Russian territory has reduced the size of Russias ground sanctuary by only 16 percent at maximum. US policy still preserves at least 84 percent of Russia's ground sanctuary territory within range of Ukrainian ATACMS.
Likely Ukrainian forces struck a Russian Su-57 fighter aircraft at the Akhtubinsk Airfield in Astrakhan Oblast between June 7 and 8.
Ukrainian forces may have struck a Russian large landing ship or patrol boat in Yeysk, Krasnodar Krai on the night of June 8 to 9.
The Kremlin's concerted effort to remove and arrest senior Russian defense officials may be extending to civilian regional administration officials.
The pro-Kremlin Moldovan Victory opposition electoral bloc held its second congress in Moscow on June 9 following a series of meetings between pro-Kremlin Moldovan opposition politicians and Russian officials from June 6 to 9.
Former pro-Russian Moldovan president and current head of the Moldovan Socialist Party Igor Dodon gave interviews to Russian state news agencies TASS and RIA Novosti on June 9 in which he promoted several known Kremlin narratives targeting the current Moldovan government many of which Moldovan opposition politicians also promoted at the Victory bloc congress.
The Kremlin will likely try to exploit its ties to Dodon as part of its wider efforts to destabilize Moldovan democracy and influence the Moldovan government.
Russian forces recently advanced near Kupyansk, Siversk, Chasiv Yar, Avdiivka, and Donetsk City.
Russian officials continue efforts to coerce migrants into military service.

https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-june- 9-2024

  

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Ukrainian forces conducted a strike against Russian air defense assets in occupied Crimea overnight on June 9 to 10, likely with ATACMS. The Ukrainian General Staff reported on June 10 that Ukrainian forces struck a Russian S-400 air defense battery near occupied Dzhankoi and two S-300 batteries near occupied Chornomorske and Yevpatoria.<1> The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian strikes hit the radar stations of each battery and caused secondary ammunition detonations and that Russian air defenses did not intercept any of the Ukrainian missiles. Russian opposition outlet Astra reported that Ukrainian forces launched at least 10 ATACMS missiles and that each targeted air defense installation was an element of the Russian 31st Air Defense Division (4th Guards Air Force and Air Defense Army, Southern Military District and Russian Aerospace Forces ).<2> Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian air defenses intercepted multiple Ukrainian ATACMS missiles overnight but largely did not report that any of the missiles hit their targets, and the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) has not commented on the strikes as of the time of this publication.<3> ISW has not observed visual confirmation of the extent of damages from the Ukrainian strikes. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Schemes project published satellite imagery of burn marks at a Russian military object near a railway junction in Dzhankoi but noted that the imagerys resolution is too low to determine specific damage.<4> A Russian milblogger who focuses on Russian air and air defense and has been largely critical of the Russian MoD criticized the Russian MoD in response to the strikes, claiming that Russian officers are falsely reporting no losses to their superiors despite actually suffering heavy losses.<5>

Ukrainian strikes against Russian military and logistics assets in connection to the United States' partial removal of Russian sanctuary in Belgorod Oblast may have compelled Russian forces to change their deployment and transport patterns. The Crimea-based Atesh Ukrainian partisan movement reported on June 10 that Russian forces recently redeployed air defense systems from occupied Crimea to Belgorod Oblast and that Russian air defenses are not completely covering Crimea as a result.<6> Footage dated June 8 shows that Russia has begun transporting fuel across the Kerch Strait across the railway bridge.<7> Ukrainian Southern Operational Command Spokesperson Captain Third Rank Dmytro Pletenchuk stated on April 29 that Russian authorities have not transported fuel across the Kerch Strait railway bridge since March 2024 due to the threat of a Ukrainian strike against the bridge as a fuel transport crossed, which could ignite and possibly destroy the bridge.<8> Ukrainian militaryfocused news outlet Militarnyi assessed on June 10 that Ukrainian strikes against railway barges across the Kerch Strait on May 30 prompted Russian authorities to begin transporting fuel across the railway bridge again.<9> It is unclear whether Russian authorities will continue to use the Kerch Strait railway bridge for fuel and logistics transport to occupied Crimea in the near to medium term. Doing so would likely alleviate some logistics constraints as Russia struggles to compensate for lost ferries across the strait but would leave the Kerch Strait bridge increasingly vulnerable to Ukrainian strikes, particularly if Russian air defense coverage of Crimea is degraded as Atesh reported.

Ukraine's Southern Operational Command Spokesperson Captain Third Rank Dmytro Pletenchuk denied on June 10 a Sky News report that Ukrainian forces struck a Russian Ropucha-class landing ship in the Sea of Azov on the night of June 8 to 9.<10> Pletenchuk also stated that there are three large Russian amphibious assault ships and three Buyan-M-class corvettes in the Sea of Azov as of May 10.<11> Sky News reported on June 9, citing a Ukrainian military source, that Ukrainian forces sunk or damaged a Russian Ropucha-class landing ship that Russian forces had recently moved from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov, which ISW amplified.<12>

New Russian Defense Minister Andrei Belousov met with a select group of Russian milbloggers and military commentators on June 10, suggesting that the Kremlin seeks to partially use Belousov's replacement of widely unpopular former Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to build bridges and cultivate ties with a broader milblogger community via a cadre of coopted and loyal military commentators. Russian state news agencies TASS and RIA Novosti reported on June 10 that Belousov met with several military correspondents (also known as voyenkory or milbloggers) covering the war in Ukraine and claimed that the conversation was "frank and constructive."<13> TASS and RIA noted that Belousov hopes to hold such meetings regularly. Russian insider sources and milbloggers claimed in late May and early June that Belousov was planning to meet with select milbloggers, and some of the more critical milbloggers criticized Belousov for reportedly not inviting them to the meeting.<14> Russian media confirmed on June 10 that several prominent and generally Kremlin-aligned milbloggers attended Belousov's meeting, including head of the WarGonzo social media military project Semyon Pegov, Komsomolskaya Pravda military correspondent and Kremlin-appointed member of the Human Rights Council Alexander Kots; Zvezda military correspondent Anatoly Brodkin; Russia Today (RT) military correspondent Murad Gazdiev, Readovka correspondent Maxim Dolgov, and others.<15> Gazdiev claimed on his personal Telegram channel on June 10 that the milbloggers delivered good and bad news from the front to Belousov and promised unspecified "huge changes."<16>

The Kremlin likely attempted to falsely portray Belousov as more attentive to milbloggers' criticisms than his predecessor in an effort to co-opt a larger non-Kremlin affiliated milblogger community. The Kremlin and Shoigu previously appeared at odds over milblogger reproachmentRussian President Vladimir Putin met with select milbloggers in July 2022 and June 2023 to discuss the situation on the frontline in Ukraine, while the Russian MoD continuously tried to crack down against critical milbloggers, who often used Shoigu as an informational scapegoat for Russian operational failures in Ukraine.<17> The Kremlin has long endeavored to coopt milbloggers, especially those critical of the Russian military leadership, in an effort to control the information space, as ISW previously assessed.<18> Belousov's meeting represents MoD outreach to several milbloggers who have had the Kremlin's favor for some time now and likely intended to court this group of commentators and ensure their continued loyalty to a new MoD under Belousov. Belousov's milblogger outreach is more likely to be a performative attempt to secure their loyalty than introduce systemic changes within the Russian MoD, as several Russian milbloggers who were not invited to the meeting previously noted.<19> Both the Kremlin and the Russian MoD have a vested interest in appearing open to dialogue with milbloggers, who represent a major pro-war constituency, and the Kremlin is likely aiming to portray Belousov as more cognizant of this fact than his predecessor.

Officials from Russia, Iran, and the People's Republic of China (PRC) held bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the BRICS foreign ministers meeting in Nizhny Novgorod on June 10. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke at the BRICS meeting and highlighted the organization's recent expansion.<20> Lavrov reiterated standard Kremlin narratives about how the Western rules-based order is detrimental to other states and about the supposed merits of the creation of a multipolar world. Lavrov claimed that the "winds of change" are driving BRICS forward. Lavrov met with officials from Brazil, South Africa, Ethiopia, Laos, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt during the BRICS event as well.<21>

Lavrov met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the sidelines of the BRICS meeting on June 10. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and Chinese MFA both stated that Lavrov and Wang discussed diplomatic coordination in international organizations such as the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).<22> The Chinese MFA stated that developing Russo-Chinese relations are a "strategic choice" by both parties and that Lavrov and Wang "exchanged views" on the war in Ukrainian war."<23> The Russian MFA labeled the Russo-Chinese relationship as a "strategic partnership" and stated that Lavrov thanked Wang for the PRC's "balanced" line on the war in Ukraine and for not sending a representative to the June 15-16 Ukrainian peace summit in Switzerland.<24> The Russian MFA also stated that Lavrov and Wang discussed stability in the Asia-Pacific region, where they accused the US of allegedly creating anti-Russian and anti-Chinese military-political structures.<25> Lavrov also met with acting Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Ali Bagheri Kani on June 10 and discussed efforts to form a Russo-Iranian "strategic partnership" and create a new comprehensive intergovernmental agreement.<26> Kremlin newswire TASS reported that Kani stated that Iran "sees enormous potential for expanding and strengthening interaction."<27> Kani and Wang also met on June 10 and reportedly discussed increasing cooperation.<28> Russian outlet Vedomosti reported on June 9 that Russian Ambassador to North Korea Alexander Matsegora stated that Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit North Korea, and an unspecified diplomatic source reportedly stated that the visit will occur in the coming weeks after Putin visits Vietnam.<29> ISW continues to assess that Russia, the PRC, Iran, North Korea, and Belarus are deepening their multilateral partnerships in order to confront the West.<30>

The Armenian National Assembly will likely hold an emergency session by June 17 during which the Armenian opposition parties will demand Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's and his cabinet's resignation. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Armenian Service Radio Azatutyun reported on June 10 that 33 members of the Armenian opposition factions "Armenian Alliance" and "I Have Honor" supported convening an emergency session of the National Assembly to discuss passing a resolution calling for Pashinyan's and his cabinet's resignation and the formation of a new government.<31> The opposition factions blame Pashinyan for what they see as failures to defend and secure the territorial integrity and borders of Armenia.<32> Radio Azatutyun noted that Armenian law stipulates that the National Assembly needs the support of 27 members of the 107-seat National Assembly to call an emergency session.<33> Pashinyan's Civil Contract Party's National Assembly leader Hayk Konjoryan stated that Civil Contract National Assembly members will not participate in the June 17 emergency session.<34>

The US Department of State announced on June 10 that the US and Poland jointly launched the Ukraine Communications Group (UCG) in Warsaw to counter Russian disinformation by offering fact-based reporting about the war in Ukraine.<35> Representatives of unspecified countries will reportedly collaborate with the UCG. The US Department of State emphasized that Russia often uses false narratives to obfuscate its war aims and try to fracture worldwide solidarity with Ukraine.

Finnish authorities reported that a Russian military aircraft temporarily violated Finnish airspace on June 10 amid continued Russian efforts to undermine Finnish sovereignty. The Finnish Ministry of Defense (MoD) reported that it is investigating an incident in which an unspecified Russian military aircraft flew roughly 2.5 kilometers deep into Finnish airspace over the Gulf of Finland for two minutes on the morning of June 10.<36> The Russian MoD has not responded to the Finnish report as of this publication but claimed on June 10 that Russian Tu-95MS missile carriers and Tu-22M3 bombers conducted flights over neutral waters of the Baltic, Barents, and Norwegian seas.<37> This reported incursion likely forwards the ongoing Kremlin effort to undermine Finnish sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Russian MoD proposed on May 21 that the Russian government should reassess Russia's maritime borders in the Gulf of Finland, which some Western officials have warned may be part of an effort to revise maritime zones in the Baltic Sea.<38> The Kremlin has also been running a number of information operations aimed at portraying Finland as an enemy to Russia and Russians, ultimately setting information conditions to justify potential future aggression against Finland.<39>

Key Takeaways:

Ukrainian forces conducted a strike against Russian air defense assets in occupied Crimea overnight on June 9 to 10, likely with ATACMS.
Ukraine's Southern Operational Command Spokesperson Captain Third Rank Dmytro Pletenchuk denied on June 10 a Sky News report that Ukrainian forces struck a Russian Ropucha-class landing ship in the Sea of Azov on the night of June 8 to 9.
New Russian Defense Minister Andrei Belousov met with a select group of Russian milbloggers and military commentators on June 10, suggesting that the Kremlin seeks to partially use Belousov's replacement of widely unpopular former Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to build bridges and cultivate ties with a broader milblogger community via a cadre of coopted and loyal military commentators.
Officials from Russia, Iran, and the People's Republic of China (PRC) held bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the BRICS foreign ministers meeting in Nizhny Novgorod on June 10.
The Armenian National Assembly will likely hold an emergency session by June 17 during which the Armenian opposition parties will demand Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's and his cabinet's resignation.
The US Department of State announced on June 10 that the US and Poland jointly launched the Ukraine Communications Group (UCG) in Warsaw to counter Russian disinformation by offering fact-based reporting about the war in Ukraine.
Finnish authorities reported that a Russian military aircraft temporarily violated Finnish airspace on June 10 amid continued Russian efforts to undermine Finnish sovereignty.
Russian forces recently advanced southwest of Donetsk City and in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area.
Russian Defense Minister Andrey Belousov appears to be focusing on healthcare programs for Russian servicemembers in his new role.

https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-june- 10-2024

  

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Ukraine's Western allies continue to provide monetary and military assistance to Ukraine, including air defense systems. The Estonian Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced on June 11 that Estonia will provide an undisclosed number of Mistral man-portable short-range air defense systems and missiles to Ukraine as part of a new military assistance package.<1> European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced during the Ukrainian Recovery Conference in Berlin on June 11 that the European Union (EU) will transfer roughly 1.5 billion euros ($1.6 billion) worth of profits from frozen Russian assets to Ukraine in July, of which Ukraine will allocate 90 percent to defense spending and 10 percent to reconstruction.<2> Von der Leyen stated that the EU will also transfer an additional 1.9 billion euros ($2 billion) to Ukraine from the EU's Ukraine Facility mechanism, which is a separate fund that provides for the EU to transfer up to 50 billion euros ($53.7 billion) to Ukraine between 2024 and 2027.<3> German Chancellor Olaf Scholz reiterated during the Ukrainian Recovery Conference that Germany will deliver a Patriot air defense system to Ukraine in the coming weeks and announced that Germany will also deliver an IRIS-T air defense system, an unspecified number of Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft guns, and an unspecified number and type of missiles and ammunition to Ukraine in the coming weeks and months.<4> The German MoD initially announced the transfer of this third Patriot system in April 2024.<5> The New York Times, citing senior US administration and military officials, reported on June 11 that US President Joe Biden recently approved the transfer of another Patriot system to Ukraine following a series of high-level meetings and internal debates regarding the best ways to meet Ukraine's need for additional air defenses.<6> Unnamed US officials stated that the new system could be deployed to the frontline within several days depending on any maintenance or modifications that the system may need, as the system is currently stationed in Poland.

The Kremlin continues efforts to codify legal instruments and repressive measures intended to broadly censor foreigners and foreign organizations in Russia. The Russian State Duma adopted a bill in its first reading on June 11 that seeks to codify the Russian government's ability to recognize "any" foreign organization as "undesirable."<7> The Duma first approved the draft version of this bill on May 27.<8> The Duma also adopted an additional bill in its first reading that introduces criminal penalties including fines and imprisonment for someone's participation in "any" organization classified as "undesirable."<9> Duma Chairperson Vyacheslav Volodin noted that this new bill will fill a gap in the existing legislation, which only has provisions to class foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as "undesirable."<10> The new bill will extend the undesirable classification to any foreign and international organizations, thereby broadening the Kremlin's discretion to target and censor a wide range of foreign organizations operating within Russia. The Kremlin has previously used the "undesirable" designation to block opposition media outlets, civil society organizations, and human rights-focused organizations from entering or operating within Russia, as ISW has previously reported.<11> Kremlin-appointed Russian Commissioner for Human Rights Tatiana Moskalkova also notably called on June 11 for the establishment of a legal mechanism that would allow the Russian government to prosecute foreigners for "Russophobia as a manifestation of extremism."<12> Russian authorities widely use accusations of "Russophobia" in an attempt to undermine any undesirable policy or rhetoric they deem to be "anti-Russian," and have similarly used charges of extremism with broad discretion to suppress and discourage domestic opposition.<13>

A prominent Kremlin-awarded Russian milblogger channel announced that it opened a second "media school" in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, likely to support Kremlin efforts to expand its influence in the international information space, particularly in Central Asia. The Rybar Telegram channel claimed on June 11 that it is opening the "Rybar Media School" in Bishkek because Kyrgyzstan lacks military-political and industry expertise as well as a "blogosphere" and opinion journalism.<14> Rybar framed its establishment of a "media school" in Bishkek as an effort to coordinate and assert Russia's position in Central Asia and warned that Russia could be "expelled" from Central Asia in three to five years if Russia fails to assert itself and manage its informational influence in the region. Rybar's founder and manager Mikhail Zvinchuk gave a lecture to students at the Kyrgyz National University about the benefits of using Telegram to "solve problems" in the current information environment. Rybar claimed that Zvinchuk's lecture was only the first in a series of lectures and trainings for Kyrgyz media workers, students, public relations professionals, and press services to learn how to use multimedia to develop local Kyrgyz journalism. Rybar claimed that journalists from the Kyrgyz-branch of the official Russian government outlet Rossiyskaya Gazeta, "complained" about the lack of Russian journalistic work in Central Asia and claimed that the West outbalances Russia in its support for Kyrgyz journalism. Zvinchuk gave a masterclass in December 2023 on the importance of Telegram and other social media to press heads at Russian state-owned defense conglomerate Rostec likely in an effort to normalize the war without directly involving the Kremlin or other official state bodies. Rybar announced that it opened a media school in an unspecified location in the Balkans in April 2024.<15> Rybar claimed that multiple Serbian and Republika Srpska (the Serbian entity within Bosnia and Herzegovina) outlets highlighted Rybar's "debut" in the Balkans, while notably no Kyrgyz Russian- or Kyrgyz-language news outlets reported on the new "media school" in Bishkek as of this publication.<16> Rybar will likely attempt to expand its media influence in other foreign countries, and the Kremlin will likely seek to use coopted milbloggers like Rybar to expand Russian influence in international media.

Danish authorities arrested a Danish-Russian dual citizen accused of having connections to Russian intelligence services, which is likely part of the Kremlin's continued efforts to re-intensify its hybrid campaign against Western countries. The Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR) reported on June 11 that Danish authorities arrested an unidentified woman with dual Danish-Russian citizenship related to a recent investigation into the woman's connections to Russian foreign intelligence.<17> DR reported on June 3, citing leaked documents from Western intelligence services, that the women's legal aid clinic for Russian speakers received at least 338,000 Danish kroner (about $49,000) from the Russian Fund for the Support and Protection of the Rights of Compatriots Living Abroad (Pravfond), which DR describes as closely linked to the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR).<18> The Guardian, which saw the same leaked documents, reported that Pravfond's leadership has multiple Russian intelligence agents, including longtime SVR officers Vladimir Pozdorovkin and Anatoly Sorokin.<19> The Guardian reported that Pravfond operates throughout Europe and that Pozdorovkin specifically oversees Pravfond's operations in Nordic and Baltic countries while Sorokin oversees operations in the Middle East, Moldova, and Transnistria.<20> DR reported and that the woman is a "central figure" in Denmark's Russian-speaking community and noted she has traveled to Russia and elsewhere for conferences with Pravfond participation or sponsorship.<21> The Kremlin has recently intensified its hybrid campaigns in Europe, and the Kremlin has been leaning into a narrative about protecting Russians and Russian-speakers outside of Russia often called "compatriots abroad" as part of its wider toolkit of hybrid manipulations.<22> The "compatriots abroad" narrative sets informational conditions for the Kremlin to justify hybrid operations or even direct interference against countries it claims do not adequately protect so-called Russian "compatriots" should these countries take actions unfavorable to the Kremlin. DR noted that several European intelligence sources stated that the Kremlin aims to use counseling and assistance centers of which Pravfond funds at least 34 in 21 countries to justify direct interference in other countries.<23>

Kremlin newswire TASS reported on June 11 that the former Head of the Russian Ministry of Defense's (MoD) Military Academy, Grigory Molchanov, was appointed Deputy Secretary of the Russian Security Council.<24> Russian outlet RBK stated that Molchanov has served in the Russian military since 1973 and noted that the Security Council's first new appointment since former Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu became Security Council Secretary on May 13.<25> Russian outlet RTVI noted that there are currently eight deputy secretaries and one first deputy secretary in addition to Shoigu.<26>

Key Takeaways:

Ukraine's Western allies continue to provide monetary and military assistance to Ukraine, including air defense systems.
The Kremlin continues efforts to codify legal instruments and repressive measures intended to broadly censor foreigners and foreign organizations in Russia.
A prominent Kremlin-awarded Russian milblogger channel announced that it opened a second "media school" in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, likely to support Kremlin efforts to expand its influence in the international information space, particularly in Central Asia.
Danish authorities arrested a Danish-Russian dual citizen accused of having connections to Russian intelligence services, which is likely part of the Kremlin's continued efforts to re-intensify its hybrid campaign against Western countries.
Kremlin newswire TASS reported on June 11 that the former Head of the Russian Ministry of Defense's (MoD) Military Academy, Grigory Molchanov, was appointed Deputy Secretary of the Russian Security Council.
Russian forces recently advanced southeast of Kupyansk and northwest of Avdiivka.
Russia may have suffered a damaged or destroyed military naval vessel in the Barents Sea.
Belarusian officials continue to implicate themselves in the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children to Belarus and their re-education in Belarusian programs.

https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-june- 11-2024

  

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Ukrainian forces may be conducting an effort aimed at degrading Russian air defenses, which, if successful, could enable Ukraine to more effectively leverage manned fixed-wing airpower in the long run. The Ukrainian General Staff reported on June 12 that Ukrainian forces targeted one S-300 air defense battery and two S-400 air defense batteries near occupied Belbek and Sevastopol, Crimea overnight on June 11 to 12. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that the strikes destroyed at least two S-300/S-400 Russian air defense radar systems and caused secondary ammunition detonations, and that the Ukrainian military is clarifying battle damage. Geolocated imagery published on June 12 shows damaged and destroyed Russian S-300 assets north of occupied Yevpatoria and a destroyed Russian S-400 radar system south of occupied Dzhankoy, supporting the Ukrainian General Staff's June 10 report about strikes against Russian air defense assets in these areas. Some Russian sources speculated that Ukrainian forces used ATACMS in the June 11 to 12 strike, although ISW is unable to confirm which systems Ukrainian forces used. Founder of the Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) "Kraken" Regiment Kostyantyn Nemichev confirmed on June 12 that Ukrainian forces used HIMARS to destroy four Russian S-300 systems in Belgorod Oblast on an unspecified date, and Ukrainian outlet Suspilne referred to Nemichev's statements as the first official Ukrainian confirmation of strikes against a Russian S-300 battery in Belgorod Oblast on June 1 or 2. Ukrainian forces destruction of the Russian air defense systems in Belgorod Oblast reportedly prompted the Russian command to deploy air defense assets from Crimea to Belgorod Oblast in early June 2024, reportedly degrading Russian air defense coverage around Crimea. GUR Spokesperson Andriy Yusov also clarified on June 12 that Ukrainian drone strikes against the Akhtubinsk Airfield in Astrakhan Oblast between June 7 and 8 damaged two Russian Su-57 fighter aircraft instead of just one aircraft as previously reported. S-300/S-400 air defense systems and Su-57 fighters are significant Russian air defense and aviation assets that deny Ukraine the ability to fly aircraft near the front and support Russian offensive operations in Ukraine.

Ukrainian forces may seek to actively degrade Russian air defenses before Ukraine receives a significant number of aircraft in order to set conditions for Ukraines future use of manned fixed-wing airpower closer to frontline areas. Ukrainian forces may be attempting to degrade Russian air defenses ahead of anticipated F-16 fighter jet deliveries to Ukraine, which reportedly will begin in small quantities in summer and fall 2024. Ukrainian forces may be able to eventually work towards a concept of operations that combines fixed-wing airpower to support ground operations if the Ukrainian military receives a sufficient number of fighter jets, Western partners train enough trained pilots, and if Ukraine succeeds in degrading Russian air defense capabilities.

Key Takeaways:

Ukrainian forces may be conducting an effort aimed at degrading Russian air defenses, which, if successful, could enable Ukraine to more effectively leverage manned fixed-wing airpower in the long run.

Russian Northern Fleet naval vessels arrived at Havana Harbor, Cuba, on June 12 for their planned five-day long port call.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated that Armenia "will leave" and "will decide when to leave" the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in a question-and-answer session with the Armenian National Assembly on June 12 amid Armenia's continued efforts to distance itself from security and political relations with Russia.

Georgian opposition-leaning outlet Mtavari reported that the Georgian government is planning to resume diplomatic relations with Russia.

Russian forces made confirmed advances near Vovchansk, Siversk, and Avdiivka and in western Zaporizhia Oblast.

Russian President Vladimir Putin highlighted Russian defense company officials in a list of recent recipients of labor awards during a "Russia Day" speech on June 11, indicating Putin's continued emphasis on strengthening the Russian defense industrial base (DIB).

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Russian President Vladimir Putin outlined his uncompromising demands for Ukraines capitulation as a prerequisite for "peace" negotiations in Ukraine, including the recognition of Russias illegal annexation of occupied and Ukrainian-controlled territory in eastern and southern Ukraine, in an attempt to undermine the June 15-16 Global Peace Summit in Switzerland. Putin stated during a speech at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) on June 14 that Ukrainian forces must begin to "completely withdraw" from Ukrainian-controlled territory in Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia, and Kherson oblasts (which the Kremlin illegally declared as annexed in September 2022) and that Ukraine officially abandons its goal to join NATO before Russia can agree to a ceasefire and peace negotiations. Putin stated that Russia is prepared to begin negotiations with Ukraine as soon as Ukraine agrees to withdraw from the entirety of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia, and Kherson oblasts (which is in total 18 percent of Ukraines territory). Russian forces currently occupy 75 percent of the total area of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia, and Kherson oblasts, and Putin is effectively demanding that Ukraine cede 40 percent of Donetsk Oblast, 25 percent of Kherson Oblast, 25 percent of Zaporizhia oblasts, and one percent of Luhansk Oblast that Russian forces do not control, including the provincial capitals Zaporizhia City and Kherson City. Putin's demands require Ukraine to surrender the strategic provincial capitals of Zaporizhia City and Kherson City for no good reason. Russian forces fled Kherson City in November 2022. Putin unconvincingly claimed that Russian forces will "immediately" enforce the ceasefire and will guarantee the "unhindered and safe" withdrawal of Ukrainian forces from the four oblasts, a promise that rings particularly hollow following months of Russian war crimes against Ukrainian civilians and prisoners of war (POWs), and numerous Russian violations of the Minsk Accords ceasefire between 2015 and 2022. Putin demanded that the international community recognize the four illegally annexed and occupied oblasts as part of Russia and lift all Western sanctions against Russia in the event of a peaceful resolution to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, a demand which will irrevocably damage the principle of state sovereignty and the inviolability of international borders.

Putin also reiterated his previous conditions for "peace," namely that Ukraine must agree to full demilitarization and "denazification" (the toppling of the current Ukrainian government and its replacement with pro-Russian proxies) and abandon its aspirations to join any external security blocs. Putin claimed that Ukraine must come to these decisions independently and not on the orders of its "Western masters" and reiterated a series of claims insinuating that the West controls Ukraine and that Ukraine is not a sovereign country. Putin claimed that it would be "impossible" for any peace format without Russian participation to resolve the war in Ukraine and that the Western and Ukrainian policies against negotiating with Russia are "idiotic."

Putin's demands continue to reflect his long-demanded ultimatums that are based on presuppositions that deny the existence of an independent and sovereign Ukraine and that seek to seduce the West to preemptively compromise on Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated on June 14 that Putin has put forth similar ultimatums and that Putin has no intention to stop attacking Ukraine. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that Russia, not Ukraine, must withdraw its forces from Ukrainian territory and that Putin's ultimatums are a signal that Russia has not abandoned its military objectives in Ukraine. Several prominent Russian milbloggers also stated that Putins demands are unachievable and resemble an ultimatum to the West, and this speech rings similar to the absurd ultimatums Putin delivered to the US and NATO in December 2021 as part of a diplomatic rouse to buy time as Putin prepared to invade Ukraine and seize Kyiv. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov denied interpretations that Putins June 14 speech was another ultimatum. ISW continues to assess that the Kremlin is not interested in good faith negotiations with Ukraine and only feigns its interest in negotiations as part of a wider informational effort intended to convince the West to preemptively make concessions that violate Ukraine's sovereignty.

Key Takeaways:

Russian President Vladimir Putin outlined his uncompromising demands for Ukraines capitulation as a prerequisite for "peace" negotiations in Ukraine, including the recognition of Russias illegal annexation of occupied and Ukrainian-controlled territory in eastern and southern Ukraine, in an attempt to undermine the June 15-16 Global Peace Summit in Switzerland.

Putin proposed to establish an alternative Eurasian and world security system with support from People's Republic of China (PRC) President Xi Jinping, likely to undermine NATO.

The Kremlin has frequently timed the intensification of its information operations, including negotiations, to coincide with major policy debates in the West in order to influence Western decision-making.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev continued to rail against Western colonialism while ignoring Russia's imperial history and contemporary Russian imperialist aspirations to dominate Russias neighbors in eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia.

Medvedev also promoted Kremlin information operations that aim to exploit Moldovan identity politics in order to disrupt Moldova's European Union (EU) accession by destabilizing Moldovan society.

Medvedev also threatened Armenia on the eve of Armenian Security Council Secretary Armen Grigoryan's attendance at the June 15-16 Global Peace Summit in Switzerland.

An unnamed senior US Department of Defense official reportedly said that the Biden Administration has no imminent plans to lift restrictions prohibiting Ukrainian forces from striking military targets in Russias operational and deep rear areas in Russian territory with US-provided weapons.

Ukrainian forces conducted a large series of drone strikes against Russia on the night of June 13 to 14.

Russian forces recently made confirmed advances near Avdiivka and Donetsk City.

Russian President Vladimir Putin stated on June 14 that there are currently almost 700,000 Russian personnel in the "special military operation zone," which includes both occupied Ukraine and areas within Russia bordering Ukraine, during the meeting with participants of the "Time of Heroes" program.

Institute for the Study of War

  

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Krieg Ruland - Ukraine [Alle anzeigen] , Rang: Warren Buffett(3306), 09.5.24 08:42
 
Subject Auszeichnungen Author Message Date ID
RE: Krieg Ruland - Ukraine
09.5.24 08:45
1
ISW - Russian forces conducted large-scale missile and ...
09.5.24 08:53
2
ISW - Putin used his May 9 Victory Day speech to relit...
10.5.24 08:11
3
      RE: ISW - Putin used his May 9 Victory Day speech to r...
10.5.24 20:52
4
      ISW - Russian forces began an offensive operation along...
11.5.24 09:26
5
      ISW - Russian forces are conducting relatively limited ...
12.5.24 12:04
6
      ISW - Putin replaced Sergei Shoigu
13.5.24 08:10
7
      ISW - Putin's Safe Space: Defeating Russia's Kharkiv Op...
13.5.24 19:30
8
      ISW - Russian forces continued to make tactically signi...
14.5.24 10:41
9
      ISW - The pace of Russian offensive operations in north...
15.5.24 07:53
10
      ISW - The tempo of Russian offensive operations in nort...
16.5.24 11:39
11
      ISW - Ukrainian officials reported that Ukrainian force...
17.5.24 08:16
12
      ISW - Ptin framed Russian offensive operations in north...
18.5.24 10:05
13
      ISW - ussian forces have recently intensified their eff...
19.5.24 09:19
14
      ISW - Ukrainian forces reportedly conducted successful ...
20.5.24 09:37
15
     ISW - Russian forces are concentrating limited, underst...
21.5.24 10:04
16
      ISW - he Kremlin continues to time its nuclear saber-ra...
22.5.24 07:57
17
      ISW - The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) proposed on...
23.5.24 08:31
18
      ISW - From the Ukrainian Counteroffensive to Kharkiv
23.5.24 17:01
19
      ISW - The Kremlin is pursuing a concerted effort to rem...
24.5.24 08:42
20
      ISW - estern media continues to report that Russian Pre...
25.5.24 11:20
21
      ISW - Ukrainian and Russian sources stated that Ukraini...
26.5.24 09:59
22
      ISW - Russian forces are reportedly concentrating force...
27.5.24 09:14
23
      ISW - The NATO Parliamentary Assembly called on member ...
28.5.24 07:42
24
      ISW - Putin grossly misrepresented the Ukrainian Const...
29.5.24 07:52
25
      ISW - US-provided military aid has started arriving on...
30.5.24 09:16
26
      ISW - Zelensky met with US and Singaporean officials
03.6.24 08:01
27
      ISW - Ukrainian forces struck a Russian S-300/400 air ...
04.6.24 09:42
28
      ISW - Russian military commentators continue to compla...
05.6.24 08:24
29
      ISW - US officials continue to attempt to clarify US po...
06.6.24 09:54
30
      ISW - Putin sought to repackage long-standing, tired th...
07.6.24 08:26
31
      ISW - Putin articulated a theory of victory in Ukraine
08.6.24 11:37
32
      ISW - Russian military command is reportedly transferri...
09.6.24 07:20
33
      ISW - size of Russias ground sanctuary by only 16 per...
10.6.24 11:18
34
      ISW - Ukrainian forces conducted a strike against Russ...
11.6.24 09:24
35
      ISW - Ukraine's Western allies continue to provide mon...
12.6.24 08:13
36
      ISW - Ukrainian forces may be conducting an effort ai...
13.6.24 09:47
37
      ISW - outlined his uncompromising demands for Ukraine...
15.6.24 10:59
38
      gelscht
17.5.24 00:58
39
Ukraine meldet nach Angriffen schwere Schden am Stromn...
09.5.24 11:13
40
Russisches Geld fr Aufrstung von Ukraine
09.5.24 15:20
41
Russische Bodenoffensive in Region Charkiw
11.5.24 08:03
42
Russland besttigt Offensive bei Charkiw
12.5.24 11:33
43
Putin wechselt Verteidigungsminister
13.5.24 06:21
44
Kiew sieht Stabilisierung bei Charkiw
14.5.24 18:43
45
Ukraine meldet Rckzug von Einheiten an Charkiw-Front
15.5.24 16:34
46
Russen jagen gezielt ukrainische Sanitter
16.5.24 23:34
47
RE: Russen jagen gezielt ukrainische Sanitter
17.5.24 06:57
48
      RE: Russen jagen gezielt ukrainische Sanitter
17.5.24 08:50
49
      RE: Russen jagen gezielt ukrainische Sanitter
18.5.24 11:54
50
wiiw-Studie: Groteil auslndischer Firmen weiter in Ru...
17.5.24 08:06
51
Nur 30% der Russen wollen Ende des Kriegs, falls Putin ...
18.5.24 12:14
52
RE: Nur 30% der Russen wollen Ende des Kriegs, falls Pu...
18.5.24 14:00
53
RE: Nur 30% der Russen wollen Ende des Kriegs, falls Pu...
18.5.24 14:06
54
RE: Nur 30% der Russen wollen Ende des Kriegs, falls Pu...
18.5.24 20:29
55
Moskau meldet weitere Eroberungen
19.5.24 08:13
56
Fr Medwedew gibt es nur noch legitime Ziele
20.5.24 21:33
57
RE: Fr Medwedew gibt es nur noch legitime Zielewitzig
21.5.24 00:13
58
      RE: Fr Medwedew gibt es nur noch legitime Ziele
23.5.24 19:54
59
Ukraine: Lage im Gebiet Donezk extrem schwierig
22.5.24 06:50
60
Ukraine: Russische Bodenoffensive in Charkiw gestoppt
24.5.24 15:32
61
Putin besucht Usbekistan
26.5.24 23:23
62
Russland produziert 3x mehr Granaten als Alliierte der ...
26.5.24 23:48
63
Ukraine berschreitet rote Linien
26.5.24 23:55
64
USA und Deutschland wtend ber Ukraine
28.5.24 22:34
65
RE: USA und Deutschland wtend ber Ukraine
29.5.24 05:59
66
Scholz und Macron: Ukraine darf auch Ziele in Russland ...
29.5.24 05:54
67
Ukraine macht aus dem M1 Abrams einen Frankenstein-Panz...
01.6.24 09:12
68
Ukrainische Stromtarife drastisch erhht
01.6.24 15:41
69
Russische Zentralbank lsst Leitzins erneut bei 16 Proz...
08.6.24 16:08
70
ISW: Ukraine signed bilateral ten-year security agreeme...
14.6.24 08:24
71

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