Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 30
Karolina Hird, Kateryna Stepanenko, Frederick W. Kagan, and Grace Mappes
June 30, 7:25pm 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.
Russian forces retreated from the Snake Island on June 30 following a Ukrainian missile and artillery campaign. The Russian Defense Ministry spun the retreat as “a step of goodwill.” The Russian Defense Ministry claimed that the Kremlin does not interfere with United Nations (UN) efforts to organize a humanitarian corridor for agricultural export from Ukraine but did not acknowledge the Ukrainian artillery and missile campaign that had actually caused the retreat. The Ukrainian Southern Operational Command had announced elements of that campaign on June 21. The Russian Defense Ministry has claimed that Russian forces defeated all Ukrainian drone and missile attacks leading up to their retreat despite considerable evidence to the contrary. The Russian defeat on the Snake Island will alleviate some pressure off the Ukrainian coast by removing Russian air defense and anti-ship missile systems from the island. The retreat itself will not end the sea blockade, however, as Russian forces have access to land-based anti-ship systems in Crimea and western Kherson Oblast that can still target Ukrainian cargo as well as the use of the remaining ships of the Black Sea Fleet.
Russian milbloggers overwhelmingly defended the Russian decision to withdraw troops and equipment from the island, claiming that Russian forces are prioritizing the “liberation of Donbas.” Some said that Russian forces do not have enough capacity to destroy Ukrainian coastal troops and others claimed that Russian forces will be more successful striking Ukrainians when they attempt to deploy their own troops to the island. Milbloggers have previously criticized the Russian military command for failing to retreat to save equipment and manpower and are likely content with the Russian retreat from the Snake Island. Milbloggers, following the Kremlin line, did not acknowledge the role Ukrainian strikes against the island played in compelling Russian forces to retreat.
Russian authorities continue to galvanize the support of proxy actors in order to support force generation efforts. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov announced on June 29 that another Akhmat special battalion, the Vostok (east)-Akhmat battalion, has been successfully formed and will shortly move to its point of permanent deployment and begin active service. As ISW reported on June 28, Kadyrov stated he intends to form four new Akhmat special operations battalions and announced the formation of the Zapad (west)-Akhmat battalion early this week.
- Russian troops made limited gains within the Lysychansk Oil Refinery and around Lysychansk.
- Russian forces continued offensive operations to the south and east of Bakhmut and to the north of Slovyansk.
- Russian forces continued efforts to regain control of settlements north of Kharkiv City.
- Ukrainian counteroffensives continue to force Russian troops on the Southern Axis to prioritize defensive operations.
- Russian occupation authorities took measures to ensure further economic and financial integration of occupied areas into the Russian system.
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 made limited gains within the Lysychansk Oil Refinery and continued offensive operations on and around Lysychansk on June 30. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces had “partial success” on the territory of the Lysychansk Oil Refinery and control the northwestern and southeastern portions of the refinery. Geolocated footage posted by Russian outlet RIA Novosti showed Russian and proxy forces of the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) within the plant. Russian troops are likely trying to drive through the northeastern corner of the refinery in order to advance into Lysychansk proper from the refinery. Head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov also claimed that Chechen Akhmat Special Forces and the 2nd Corps of the LNR advanced towards Lysychansk from the northwest and crossed the Siverskyi Donetsk river around Kreminna and Stara Krasnyanka, both within 10km northwest of Lysychansk. Kadyrov claimed that Russian and proxy forces control half of Privillya, and will continue efforts to advance on Lysychansk through Novodruzhesk from these positions in the northwest.
Russian forces continued offensive operations east of Bakhmut on June 30. Deputy Chief of Main Operations Department of the Ukrainian General Staff Brigadier General Oleksiy Gromov noted that Russian forces around Bakhmut have a distinct advantage in terms of force and means. Gromov stated that Russian forces are conducting operations towards Soledar, which lies just northeast of Bakhmut along the T0513 Bakhmut-Siversk highway, and suggests that Russian forces additionally seek to interdict Ukrainian lines of communication along the T0513. Russian troops also unsuccessfully fought for control of Klynove and Novoluhanske, both southeast of Bakhmut. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled a series of Russian assaults on the Mykolaivka-Spirne, Volodymyrivka-Pokrovske lines northeast of Bakhmut and around Dolomytne and the Vuhledar Power Plant south of Bakhmut. These limited gains around Bakhmut may indicate that Russian forces may soon seek to set conditions for an offensive operation towards Bakhmut itself, although they are likely more focused in the short term on interdicting and controlling lines of communication emanating from Bakhmut.
Russian forces continued attempts to advance southeast towards Slovyansk from the Kharkiv-Donetsk Oblast border on June 30. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces unsuccessfully attempted to advance from Dovhenke to Mazanivka, which as ISW has previously assessed is a likely attempt to drive on Slovyansk from the west side of a series of reservoirs that run parallel to the E40 highway. Russian forces additionally fought in Bohorodychne and Krasnopillya, both northwest of Slovyansk along the E40 highway. Russian forces conducted an airstrike on Tetyanivka, 20km directly north of Slovyansk, and targeted civilian infrastructure in Slovyansk itself in order to set conditions for further offensive drives on Slovyansk.
Supporting Effort #1—Kharkiv City (Russian objective: Defend ground lines of communication (GLOCs) to Izyum and prevent Ukrainian forces from reaching the Russian border)
Russian forces continued limited ground assaults to regain positions north of Kharkiv City on June 30. Russian Telegram channels claimed that Russian forces took control of Dementiivka (20km north of Kharkiv City) between June 29 and June 30. Ukrainian sources disputed this claim and stated that fighting is ongoing in Dementiivka, indicating that the current frontlines in northern Kharkiv Oblast continue to be highly contested. Russian and Ukrainian forces reportedly clashed near the international border and fought for control of Udy, Prudyanka, Pytomnyk, Tsupivka, and Velky Prokhody. Russian forces additionally conducted air, artillery, and missile strikes against Ukrainian positions and civilian infrastructure throughout northern Kharkiv Oblast.
Supporting Effort #2—Southern Axis (Objective: Defend Kherson and Zaporizhia Oblasts against Ukrainian counterattacks)
Russian forces continued to prioritize defensive operations along the Southern Axis on June 30. Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command stated that Ukrainian forces have reestablished control over Potemkyne (northwestern Kherson Oblast) and that Ukrainian troops are continuing to gradually advance and place pressure on Russian forces to maintain defensive lines. The Russian grouping in Zaporizhia similarly focused on defensive operations and fired on Ukrainian positions along the frontline in Zaporizhia. Russian forces conducted a series of missile, artillery, and airstrikes across Mykolaiv, Dnipropetrovsk, and Odesa Oblasts. The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed that the Russian grouping on Snake Island withdrew on June 30 as a gesture of ”goodwill” to the international community.
The Ukrainian Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported that Russian forces are conducting a wide-scale “agitation” to recruit men willing to sign military contracts in Transnistria. The GUR stated that Russian actors are disseminating information on signing military contracts through Transnistrian media, mail brochures, and advertising in public spaces, as well as in meetings held with employees of industrial and agricultural enterprises. Russian authorities likely hope to leverage pro-Russian sentiment in Transnistria to support “covert mobilization” efforts.
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)
Russian authorities continued measures to facilitate the economic and financial integration of occupied territories on June 29. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin met with the governors of Russian Oblasts that have established relationships with areas of the Donbas and discussed preparations for various infrastructure projects. Khusnullin reported that Russian authorities are continuing to prepare to re-open the Port of Mariupol and that Russian authorities have already exported 7,000 tons of Ukrainian grain through the Port of Berdyansk. Mayor of Enerhodar Dmytro Orlov additionally stated that Russian authorities in Enerhodar are spreading fake information that non-cash payment systems will no longer be making hryvnia payments in order to prompt residents to withdraw large quantities of hryvnias.
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