Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 16
Kateryna Stepanenko, Mason Clark, George Barros, and Grace Mappes
June 16, 7:00 pm ET
Click here to see ISW's interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.
The leaders of Germany, France, Italy, and Romania committed to Ukrainian officials that the West would not demand any concessions from Ukraine to appease Russia and will support Ukraine to the end of the war during a visit to Kyiv on June 16. French President Emmanuel Macron declared that France, Germany, Italy, and Romania are “are doing everything so that Ukraine alone can decide its fate.” Macron added that Ukraine “must be able to win” and pledged to provide six more self-propelled howitzers. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stated that Germany will continue to provide financial, humanitarian, and weapons assistance for “Ukraine’s war of independence.” Macron, Scholz, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis additionally vowed to back Ukraine’s bid to become an official candidate for European Union membership. Sustained Western military support to Ukraine will be essential to enable Ukrainian forces to liberate Russian-occupied territory.
Ukrainian defense officials explicitly requested Western heavy artillery, unmanned aerial vehicles, and multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS) ahead of a protracted war. Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Denys Sharapov and Land Force Command Logistics Commander Volodymyr Karpenko stated that Ukrainian forces need hundreds of artillery systems, including infantry fighting vehicles and tanks, as Ukrainian forces have suffered 30% to 50% equipment losses in active combat. Sharapov and Karpenko noted that Ukrainian forces need Predator drones and loitering munitions to accurately strike Russian forces. Sharapov and Karpenko also asked for long-range precision weapons such as MLRS to defend the entire 2,500 km frontline in Ukraine.
Ukrainian officials stated that Russian forces have already committed about 330,000 servicemen to their invasion of Ukraine without conducting partial or full-scale mobilization in Russia. Ukrainian General Staff Main Operations Deputy Chief Oleksiy Gromov stated that Russian forces grouped 150,000 servicemen into battalion tactical groups (BTGs) and other formations and involved additional 70,000 troops from air and sea elements, with the remaining personnel staffing non-combat support units. Gromov noted that Russian forces committed more than 80,000 servicemen of the mobilized reserve, up to 7,000 reservists of the Russian Combat Army Reserve (BARS-2021), up to 18,000 members of the Russian National Guard (Rosguardia), and up to 8,000 troops from private military companies. Gromov did not specify if Ukrainian officials included information about forcibly mobilized servicemen in the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DNR and LNR) in these numbers. Gromov noted that the Kremlin may still increase the number of Russian military personnel in Ukraine by executing covert or full mobilization. Gromov noted that while it is unknown if the Kremlin will declare mobilization, Russian forces will still need time to execute the deployment and training of the new personnel whether or not the Kremlin announces full mobilization.
- Russian forces continued to launch ground assaults on Severodonetsk and settlements along the Ukrainian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) to Lysychansk. Ukrainian military intelligence reported that Russian forces are no longer operating as concrete battalion tactical groups (BTGs), as ISW previously assessed.
- Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations northwest of Slovyansk, while Ukrainian forces reportedly resumed preparations for counteroffensives west of Izyum.
- Russian and Ukrainian forces engaged in clashes north and northeast of Kharkiv City, though no significant territory changed hands.
- Russian forces continued to fortify fallback positions in northwestern Kherson Oblast, likely in anticipation of Ukrainian counteroffensives in the region.
- Head of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) Denis Pushilin continued to discuss and sign patronage agreements with Russian regional officials.
We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because those activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We will continue to evaluate and report on the effects of these criminal activities on the Ukrainian military and population and specifically on combat in Ukrainian urban areas. We utterly condemn these Russian violations of the laws of armed conflict, Geneva Conventions, and humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.
- Main Effort—Eastern Ukraine (comprised of one subordinate and three supporting efforts);
- Subordinate Main Effort—Encirclement of Ukrainian troops in the cauldron between Izyum and Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts
- Supporting Effort 1—Kharkiv City;
- Supporting Effort 2—Southern Axis;
- Activities in Russian-occupied Areas
Main Effort—Eastern Ukraine
Subordinate Main Effort—Southern Kharkiv, Donetsk, Luhansk Oblasts (Russian objective: Encircle Ukrainian forces in Eastern Ukraine and capture the entirety of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)
Russian forces are prioritizing operations to disrupt Ukrainian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) to Lysychansk from several directions. Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Valeryi Zalyzhnyi said that Russian forces are simultaneously launching assaults in Donbas in nine directions, presented as a two-part direction including the main location Russian forces are attacking from and their intended objective: Popasna-Komyshuvakha, Popasna-Mykolaivka, Popasna-Berestove, Bohorodychne-Slovyansk, Izyum-Slovyansk, Popasna-Svitlodarsk, Severodonetsk-Lysychansk, Severodonetsk-Metolkine, and Komushuvakha-Toshkivka. Ukrainian General Staff Main Operations Deputy Chief Oleksiy Gromov noted that Russian forces are committing smaller elements (company or platoon-sized assault groups) rather than full-fledged battalion tactical groups (BTGs) for offensive operations. Gromov added that Russian forces are not conducting offensive operations at night. The UK Defense Ministry also stated that Russian forces are operating in “increasingly ad hoc and severely undermanned groupings” in Donbas that typically advance by foot.
Russian forces conducted ground assaults in Severodonetsk in a grinding effort to establish control over the city. Gromov reported that Ukrainian forces continue to resist Russian attacks in Severodonetsk and are halting Russian operations to capture Metolkine and Syrotyne, just southeast of Severodonetsk. Russian forces likely intend to capture Metolkine and Syvrotyne, rather than strictly concentrating on Severodonetsk, to push back Ukrainian forces on the western bank of Siverskyi Donets River and secure access to the eastern riverbank. Gromov clarified that Ukrainian forces retain several logistics routes to Severodonetsk despite the destruction of four bridges over the Siverskyi Donets River, pushing back on recent media reports and Russian claims that Ukrainian forces in the city are completely cut off. Head of the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) Leonid Pasechnik stated that Ukrainian forces still control the territory of the Azot Chemical Plant but that Russian and proxy forces entered the premises of the facility on June 16.
Russian forces continued to attack Ukrainian GLOCs around Popasna on June 16. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repulsed Russian assaults on Berestove, situated on the T1302 Bakhmut-Lysychansk highway. Pro-Russian milblogger and Russian military journalist Yevgeniy Poddubnyi claimed that Russian forces control unspecified segments along the T1302 and have interdicted transfer of Ukrainian reserves from Bakhmut but ISW cannot independently confirm this claim. The Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) Territorial Defense additionally claimed to have established control over Novoluhanske, Luhanske, Rozsadky, and Shakhtarsk, southeast of Bakhmut.
Russian forces launched unsuccessful assaults northwest of Slovyansk and made incremental territorial advances southeast of Izyum. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces failed to seize Dolyna (on the E40 highway to Slovyansk) and retreated to previously occupied positions. Geolocated footage shows Ukrainian forces targeting Russian heavy artillery attempting to advance from the east and the northwestern outskirts of Bohorodychne, approximately 25 km southeast of Izyum. Ukrainian forces may be resuming counteroffensive operations west of Izyum. Pro-Russian Telegram channel Rybar claimed that Ukrainian forces established a pontoon bridge over the Siverskyi Donets River, approximately 26 km west of Izyum, on June 15. Continued Russian artillery fire west and northwest of Izyum is also likely an indicator of Ukrainian counteroffensives in the area. If confirmed, this Ukrainian counteroffensive is likely intended to sever Russian lines of communication to the Izyum and Lyman areas.
Supporting Effort #1—Kharkiv City (Russian objective: Withdraw forces to the north and defend ground lines of communication (GLOCs) to Izyum)
Russian forces reportedly continued to engage in localized clashes with Ukrainian elements to maintain their occupied positions near the international border on June 16. Pro-Russian Telegram channel Rybar claimed that Russian forces fought Ukrainian units in Dementiivka and Ruska Lozova along the Belgorod-Kharkiv City highway and in Rubizhne and Ternova, approximately 45 km northeast of Kharkiv City. NASA FIRMS data observed significant high-temperature anomalies in Dementiivka but did not confirm any anomalies in Ruska Lozova.
[Source: NASA’s Fire Information for Resource Management System over Dementiivka for June 16]
Supporting Effort #2—Southern Axis (Objective: Defend Kherson and Zaporizhia Oblasts against Ukrainian counterattacks)
Russian forces continued to fortify fallback positions in Kherson and Mykolaiv oblasts, likely in response to local Ukrainian counterattacks. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian engineering elements improved defensive positions around Bezvodne and Ishchenka, just southeast of the contested town of Davydiv Brid on the Russian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) in northwestern Kherson Oblast. Ukrainian General Staff Main Operations Deputy Chief Oleksiy Gromov noted that Russian forces are also dismantling concrete irrigation structures in Kherson Oblast to conceal heavy artillery from Ukrainian strikes. Russian forces reportedly shelled Ukrainian positions on the Kherson-Mykolaiv and Kherson-Dnipropetrovsk Oblast borders, likely in a counter-battery attempt to hinder Ukrainian advances. Odesa Oblast Civil-Military Administration Spokesperson Serhiy Bratchuk claimed that Ukrainian forces had unspecified successes on the Southern Axis, but ISW cannot independently verify this claim.
Russian forces may be staging false flag attacks around Kherson City to discourage civilian support for Ukrainian counteroffensive operations. The Ukrainian Southern Operational Command reported civilian casualties during an explosion on June 15 at a local market in Chornobaivka, a settlement just north of Kherson City known for Ukrainian strikes against Russian ammunition depots in the area. The Ukrainian Southern Operational Command stated that Russian forces seek to destabilize public opinion in Kherson City and blame Ukrainian forces for launching strikes on civilian infrastructure.
Russian forces reportedly performed demonstrative assaults on settlements in eastern Zaporizhia Oblast to fix Ukrainian units in place. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces eliminated a Russian sabotage and reconnaissance group operating on the Zaporizhia-Donetsk Oblast border on June 16.
Activity in Russian-occupied Areas (Russian objective: consolidate administrative control of occupied areas; set conditions for potential annexation into the Russian Federation or some other future political arrangement of Moscow’s choosing)
Head of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) Denis Pushilin continued to pursue ad hoc cooperation arrangements with Russian regional officials at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum on June 16. Pushilin signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with Moscow Oblast Governor Andrey Vorobyov under which Moscow Oblast will offer patronage to Tel’manivskyi and Novoazovsk districts, just east of Mariupol. Pushilin signed another memorandum with Tula Governor Alexei Dyumin for the restoration of Mariupol’s Left Bank district. Pushillin also discussed patronage over occupied Khrestivka (northeast of Donetsk City) with the Republic of Sakha Head Aisen Nikolaev and unspecified Donetsk Oblast settlements with the Tver Oblast Governor Igor Rudenya. Pushilin is likely attempting to secure Russian financial assistance to restore occupied settlements in Donetsk Oblast, but his cooperation agreements with Russian local officials further indicate the DNR‘s lack of coherent annexation policies.
The Kremlin is introducing more measures to establish permanent societal control over occupied Ukrainian territories. Self-proclaimed Deputy Head of the Kherson Military-Civil Administration Kiril Stremousov announced that all children born in Kherson Oblast after February 24 will automatically receive Russian citizenship. The Russian Internal Ministry also announced that Ukrainian “refugees” (many of whom were likely forcibly relocated to Russia) from occupied territories must receive proper documentation before August 17 to remain in Russia. The Kremlin likely seeks to coerce illegally deported Ukrainian citizens in Russia to accept Russian citizenship or return to Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine.
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