Ukraine Conflict Updates

 

This page collects ISW and CTP's updates on the conflict in Ukraine. In late February 2022, ISW began publishing daily synthetic products covering key events related to renewed Russian aggression against Ukraine. These Ukraine Conflict Updates replaced ISW’s previous “Indicators and Thresholds for Russian Military Operations in Ukraine and/or Belarus,” which we maintained from November 12, 2021, through February 17, 2022.

This list also includes prominent warning alerts that ISW and CTP launched beyond our daily Ukraine Conflict Updates. These products addressed critical inflection points as they occurred.

Click here to see our collection of reports from January 2 to May 31, 2024.

Click here to see our collection of reports from 2023.

Click here to see our collection of reports from 2022.

Click here to see ISW's interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map complements the static control-of-terrain maps that ISW daily produces with high-fidelity and, where possible, street-level assessments of the war in Ukraine.

Click here to access ISW’s archive of interactive time-lapse maps of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These maps complement the static control-of-terrain maps that ISW produces daily by showing a dynamic frontline. ISW will add new time-lapses to our archive on a monthly basis. This high-definition interactive map is resource-intensive. The performance and speed of the map correlate with the strength of your hardware.

Click here to read about the methodology behind ISW and CTP's mapping of this conflict. 


 

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 18, 2024

Click here to read the full report.

Angelica Evans, Kateryna Stepanenko, Karolina Hird, Christina Harward, and George Barros

July 18, 2024, 7:15 pm ET

Note: The data cut-off for this product was 1pm ET on July 18. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the July 19 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.

Ukrainian forces reportedly struck a Russian coast guard base in occupied Crimea on the night of July 17 to 18. Ukrainian outlet Suspilne reported on July 18 that sources in Ukrainian law enforcement stated that Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) conducted a naval and aerial drone strike during a Russian military exercise at a Russian coast guard base near occupied Lake Donuzlav, Crimea on the night of July 17 to 18 and damaged and disabled a headquarters with a control point, a warehouse with ammunition and equipment, an electric substation, technical facilities, and Russian firing positions.[1] A prominent Russian milblogger claimed that elements of the Russian 31st Air Force and Air Defense Division (4th Air Force and Air Defense Army) shot down at least 33 aerial drones but that debris from falling drones caused insignificant damage near occupied Yevpatoria.[2] The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed on July 18 that elements of the Black Sea Fleet (BSF) destroyed 10 naval drones in the Black Sea.[3]

European countries continue to display their commitment to Ukraine and unity in the face of Russian aggression. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated during the plenary session of the European Political Community summit in the United Kingdom (UK) on July 18 that Russian President Vladimir Putin has failed to divide Europe and thanked Ukraine's Western partners for easing restrictions on Ukraine's ability to use Western-provided weapons to strike military targets in Russian border areas north of Kharkiv Oblast.[4] Zelensky stated that Ukrainian forces have stopped the Russian offensive into northern Kharkiv Oblast and noted that Ukrainian strikes against military targets in Belgorod Oblast play a role in Ukraine's ability to repel this offensive. Zelensky called on Western states to further lift restrictions on Ukraine's ability to strike military targets in Russia to help defend Ukrainian civilians from Russian air, drone, and missile strikes. Zelensky will have additional meetings with UK officials and defense company representatives on July 19 and announced an intergovernmental agreement to support Ukraine's defense industry on July 18.[5] Ukraine also signed bilateral agreements with Czechia and Slovenia on July 18.[6] NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced that NATO will open a command center in Germany to oversee and coordinate NATO's military assistance and training projects that support the Ukrainian Armed Forces and that the command center will be operational in September 2024.[7] Stoltenberg stated that 700 personnel will staff the command center and help coordinate NATO member states' support for Ukraine. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on July 18 that she hopes to launch a "European Defense Union" during her second term to help address cross-border threats within the European Union (EU), beginning with new "European Air Shield" and cyber defense programs.[8]

Rosgvardia made an unprecedented proposal on July 17 to grant Russian Central Bank leadership the right to carry automatic weapons and handguns.[9] Rosgvardia — a security agency tasked with protecting Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s regime from internal threats and safeguarding some critical infrastructure — submitted a draft bill, which explained that Russian Central Bank leadership needs the right to carry weapons, including pistols, assault rifles, and submachine and machine guns,” to strengthen the protection and security of [Russian] infrastructure facilities.”[10] The Central Bank’s press service added that this proposal will allow the Central Bank to ensure the protection of the Russian Bank’s facilities and employees in occupied Ukraine.[11] The draft bill proposed allowing deputy chairpersons, their advisers, and department directors and deputies to carry pistols and submachine guns. The draft bill specified that security guards and employees of the departments involved in cash collection and weapons circulation at Central Bank facilities would receive assault rifles and machine guns if the bill passes. The draft bill did not list the Central Bank Head Elvira Nabiullina as a potential recipient of weapons, however.[12] ISW previously observed reports that Putin trusts Nabiullina and even granted her the “exclusive right” to voice her true opinions about the real economic situation in Russia. The reason for her exclusion from this proposal is unclear.[13] It is possible that she was excluded from the list because she does not work in high-risk areas, such as Russia’s border regions or occupied Ukraine. Russian military and political bloggers expressed frustration that Rosgvardia is considering allocating weapons to Central Bank employees despite the fact that these weapons are needed on the frontlines and Russian officers and contract servicemen are not allowed to carry short-barreled weapons.[14] Rosgvardia may have proposed to arm Central Bank leadership as part of its ongoing efforts to expand Rosgvardia’s authority in Russia and occupied Ukraine.[15] Rosgvardia may have also proposed to arm Central Bank employees to establish patronage networks over the banking sector in Russia and occupied Ukraine.

Kremlin officials continue to expand the geographic scope of Russia's proposed alternative "Eurasian security architecture." Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claimed at a press conference at the United Nations (UN) on July 17 that Russia and the People's Republic of China (PRC) are advocating within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the Gulf Cooperation Council (an economic union comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates) for the creation of a Eurasian security architecture.[16] Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed the creation of an alternative Eurasian security system with support from PRC President Xi Jinping on June 14. Putin has recently specifically highlighted that Russia is ready to discuss Eurasian security issues with the SCO and that Russia wants to develop dialogue with ASEAN .[17] Putin has labelled Vietnam — a country not typically included in political conceptions of Eurasia — as part of his proposed Eurasian security system.[18] The Gulf Cooperation Council consists of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudia Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates; and Russia appears to consider the Gulf states as potential members of Russia's envisioned "Eurasian" system.

The US continues efforts to build out a partnership with Armenia, sparking critical reactions from Kremlin officials. US Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Uzra Zeya traveled to Yerevan, Armenia on July 13 and announced that the US has allocated roughly $16 million to the formation of a patrol police force in Armenia and is working with Armenia to pursue law enforcement reforms.[19] Zeya also highlighted the joint US–Armenian "Eagle Partner" military exercise, which began on July 16, and confirmed that a US Army resident advisor will soon be attached to the Armenia Ministry of Defense.[20] Zeya noted that Armenia's participation in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) remains an Armenian choice that the US will respect but that the US has seen no evidence suggesting that "Russia's military presence contributes to a more peaceful and stable South Caucasus region." Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova accused the US of using visits to Armenia to pursue anti-Russian activities in the Caucasus.[21] A prominent Kremlin-affiliated Russian milblogger responded to Zeya's visit to Armenia and claimed that the US is trying to "intrude" on Armenia's law enforcement in order to "take control" of Armenia.[22] Armenia's relationship with the West has been particularly neuralgic for Russia as Armenia has taken concrete steps to distance itself from the Kremlin over the past months.[23]

Key Takeaways:

  • Ukrainian forces reportedly struck a Russian coast guard base in occupied Crimea on the night of July 17 to 18.
  • European countries continue to display their commitment to Ukraine and unity in the face of Russian aggression.
  • Rosgvardia made an unprecedented proposal on July 17 to grant Russian Central Bank leadership the right to carry automatic weapons and handguns.
  • Kremlin officials continue to expand the geographic scope of Russia's proposed alternative "Eurasian security architecture."
  • The US continues efforts to build out a partnership with Armenia, sparking critical reactions from Kremlin officials.
  • Russian forces recently marginally advanced along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line and near Kharkiv City, Toretsk, Avdiivka, and Hulyaipole.
  • Russian officials continue efforts to expand the Russian Armed Forces' training capacity and address force generation issues.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 17, 2024

Click here to read the full report

Angelica Evans, Riley Bailey, Karolina Hird, and George Barros

July 17, 2024, 6:30pm ET

Note: The data cut-off for this product was 12:30pm ET on July 17. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the July 18 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.

Russian state news outlets editorialized comments by Russian Security Council Deputy Chairperson Dmitry Medvedev and claimed that he said that the Ukrainian state will no longer exist by 2034, likely to support the Kremlin's efforts to prepare the Russian public for a long war in Ukraine while promising that Russia will complete its objective to destroy Ukrainian statehood within a decade. Russian media editorialized comments made by Russian Security Council Deputy Chairperson Dmitry Medvedev in an interview with Russian outlet Argumenty i Fakty (AIF) on July 17.[1] Medvedev claimed that "it is not for nothing" that NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg suggested that Ukraine could be able to join the alliance within the next ten years, concluding that Ukraine will "never" join NATO because NATO leadership will have changed by 2034 and because "it is quite possible that the notorious country 404 [a derogative use of the 404 computer 'error' code meant to suggest that Ukraine is not a real state] will not exist either."[2] Medvedev notably did not explicitly say that Ukraine will cease to exist by 2034 — rather it was a tangential implication of his statements — but Russian news outlets, including Kremlin newswire TASS, immediately began publishing stories with headlines such as "Medvedev Admitted that Ukraine Will No Longer Exist in 2034" and, "Medvedev Predicted the Disappearance of Ukraine by 2034."[3]

There are several implications to the way that Russian media is currently editorializing Medvedev's statements. First and foremost, the explicit suggestion that Russia will be able to "destroy Ukraine" by 2034 is a promise to the Russian public that Russia will be able to win the war and achieve its objective to destroy Ukrainian statehood within a decade. This sets careful information conditions and societal expectations for a war that will last another decade, but one that will end with Russia's desired "victory." This Russian narrative also directly and strongly undermines select Kremlin officials' separate attempts to suggest that Russia is willing to "negotiate" for "peace" with Ukraine and further emphasizes that the Kremlin's only desired end-state for the war is the complete destruction of the Ukrainian state and people. Russian President Vladimir Putin has carefully articulated his goals for the war as such and has demanded that Ukrainian forces withdraw from territory that Russian forces do not control as a precondition for any kind of "peace" negotiations, as ISW has previously assessed.[4] Neither Ukraine nor the West can expect to negotiate with Russia on Russia's terms if Russia's terms are premised on the eradication of Ukraine and its people in the next ten years.

Russian officials continue to seize on diplomatic meetings with European states to create the impression that Russia is normalizing its relations with the West and claim that there is limited Western support for Russia. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto on the sidelines of the United Nations (UN) on July 16 and reiterated the importance of Russian President Vladimir Putin's and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's July 5 meeting in Moscow.[5] Lavrov and Szijjarto amplified standard Kremlin narratives about the war in Ukraine, condemned Ukraine's supposed human rights violations against its "national minorities," and reiterated that Russian–Hungarian relations will continue to develop despite the "difficult international situation."[6] Szijjarto continued Orban's efforts to present Hungary as a possible mediator between Russia and Ukraine and claimed following a July 16 meeting with People's Republic of China (PRC) Foreign Minister Wang Yi that Hungary is in favor of keeping open channels of communication with Russia in order to "resolve the Ukraine conflict."[7] Putin attempted to portray Orban as a representative of the European Union (EU) empowered to speak on the EU's behalf during Orban's July 5 visit to Moscow, but EU officials have continued to deny that Orban is speaking for the EU as a whole.[8] European Council President Charles Michel denounced Orban's recent trip to Moscow in a letter published on July 16 and reiterated that Hungary's temporary, rotating role as President of the EU Council does not give Orban the mandate to represent the EU or engage with world leaders on behalf of the EU.[9] The European Parliament adopted a resolution on July 17 condemning Orban for visiting Russia.[10]

Russia and India continue to strengthen their bilateral relationship amid reports of ongoing Russian weapons exports to India. Mumbai-based English-language outlet, the Economic Times, reported on July 16 that the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) recently summoned the Ukrainian Ambassador to India and "raised an issue" with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's criticism of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's July 8–9 visit to Russia.[11] The Economic Times stated that the Indian government also postponed a joint cultural working group with Ukraine following Zelensky's statement. Chennai-based Indian outlet the Hindu reported on July 15, citing an unspecified defense official, that Russia will deliver two stealth frigates to the Indian Navy by February 2025 as part of a 2016 agreement.[12] The 2016 Russian­–Indian agreement requires that India will import two frigates from Russia by 2026 and that Russia will assist with the in-country manufacturing of two frigates by an Indian shipbuilding company.[13] The Times of India, citing unspecified defense officials, reported on July 12 that India recently requested Russia expedite the delivery of two Russian S-400 air defense systems in order to meet the Indian Air Force's requirements.[14] The defense officials claimed that the Russian government assured India that it will consider the request, and the Times of India reported that Russia has delivered only three of the five promised air defense systems thus far. Reuters reported on July 11 that an Indian government source stated that Indian state-run oil refineries are negotiating a long-term oil import deal with Russia following Modi's visit to Russia on July 8 and 9.[15]

Russia and Ukraine exchanged 95 prisoners of war (POWs) each in a one-to-one POW exchange on July 17. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksy stated that 95 Ukrainian POWs returned to Ukrainian held-territory in an exchange mediated by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) reported the return of 95 Russian POWs.[16] Ukrainian and international organizations have recorded abuse and torture amongst almost all Ukrainian POWs released from Russian detention, and ISW has extensively reported on footage and reports of Russian servicemen abusing and executing Ukrainian POWs.[17] One serviceman who returned in the July 17 exchange stated that he suffers from chronic stomach issues and breathing problems due to constant beatings and other abuse at the hands of his Russian captors.[18]

Kremlin officials continue attempts to curry favor with Russian ultranationalists by appealing to anti-migrant animus despite such appeals generating tensions with the Russian government’s efforts to execute the Kremlin's wider migration policy. Russian Investigative Committee Head Alexander Bastrykin chaired a review of the Investigative Committee's work for the first six months of 2024 on July 16 and specifically focused on the topic of investigating crimes associated with migrants.[19] The Investigative Committee claimed that specific violent and extremist crimes committed by migrants in Russia increased by five to 55 percent in the first six months of 2024.[20] The Investigative Committee claimed that crimes committed by migrants are closely related to abuses within Russian regulatory and law enforcement agencies as well as among entrepreneurs trying to attract foreign labor, likely attempting to tie claims about crimes committed by migrants to perceptions that corruption is facilitating illegal migration to Russia.[21] A prominent Russian ultranationalist pointed to the alleged statistics from the Investigative Committee to justify their routine claims about issues associated with migration in Russia.[22] The prominent ultranationalist also claimed that pro-migrant actors within the Russian State Duma are trying to prevent select Kremlin officials from addressing the issue of migration.[23] The ultranationalist's observations likely reflect the contradictory approach the Kremlin has used towards migrants instead of any wide rift on the topic of migration, however. The Kremlin is currently relying on migrants to offset labor shortages and is leveraging migrants as a recruitment pool for the war in Ukraine, but the Kremlin's appeals to ultranationalist xenophobia undermine these efforts.[24] ISW continues to assess that the Kremlin is struggling to reconcile inconsistent and contradictory policies that attempt to appease the Russian ultranationalist community's anti-migration position while leveraging migrants to address manpower and human capital needs.[25]

Key Takeaways:

  • Russian state news outlets editorialized comments by Russian Security Council Deputy Chairperson Dmitry Medvedev and claimed that he said that the Ukrainian state will no longer exist by 2034, likely to support the Kremlin's efforts to prepare the Russian public for a long war in Ukraine while promising that Russia will complete its objective to destroy Ukrainian statehood within a decade.
  • Russian officials continue to seize on diplomatic meetings with European states to create the impression that Russia is normalizing its relations with the West and claim that there is limited Western support for Russia.
  • Russia and India continue to strengthen their bilateral relationship amid reports of ongoing Russian weapons exports to India.
  • Russia and Ukraine exchanged 95 prisoners of war (POWs) each in a one-to-one POW exchange on July 17.
  • Kremlin officials continue attempts to curry favor with Russian ultranationalists by appealing to anti-migrant animus despite such appeals generating tensions with the Russian government’s efforts to execute the Kremlin's wider migration policy.
  • Ukrainian forces regained positions south of Toretsk, and Russian forces recently advanced north of Kharkiv City and near Kupyansk, Svatove, Avdiivka, and Vuhledar.
  • Russia's crypto-mobilization campaign continues to generate increasing financial costs for the Russian government.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 16, 2024

Click here to read the full report.

 Riley Bailey, Nicole Wolkov, Grace Mappes, Kateryna Stepanenko, Karolina Hird, and George Barros

 July 16, 2024, 6:30pm ET 

Ukrainian drone strikes deep within Russia continue to pressure Russia's air defense umbrella and force the Russian military command to prioritize allocating limited air defense assets to cover what it deems to be high-value targets. Satellite imagery collected on May 6 indicates that Russian forces have concentrated at least seven Pantsir-1 medium-range air defense systems around Russian President Vladimir Putin's residence in Valdai, Leningrad Oblast.[1] 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, stated on July 16 that such "focal" air defense coverage (static coverage of a singular target) is meaningless at scale because it allows Ukrainian drones to bypass Russian air defense coverage and strike from uncovered directions.[2] The Russian military apparently lacks the required conventional air defense systems to protect all critical facilities within western Russia and has even struggled to cover important potential targets in reportedly well-defended areas within Russia.[3] Pukhov called on the Russian military to introduce an innovative decentralized approach to protect facilities in Russia from Ukrainian drones and warned that Ukrainian drones will likely reach deeper within Russia.[4] The Russian military began forming mobile fire groups — decentralized groups that Ukraine successfully deployed to defend against Russian Shahed-136/131 drone strikes — in March 2024 but have yet to field these groups at the required scale to sufficiently protect critical facilities in western Russia.[5] Continued pressures on Russia's air defense umbrella have led select regional authorities to explicitly state that Russian companies and local authorities cannot rely on federal-level Russian air defenses and need to provide for their own anti-drone capabilities.[6] Pukhov suggested that the Russian military field a fleet of light aircraft to intercept Ukrainian drones but noted that Russia’s low level of light aircraft production would complicate such an effort.[7]

Ukrainian forces continue targeting Russian air defense systems in occupied Ukraine and in Russia’s border areas to set conditions to field F-16 fighter jets following their anticipated Summer-Fall 2024 arrival to Ukraine. Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi reported on July 16 that Ukrainian forces struck an S-300 position in occupied Donetsk Oblast and that Ukrainian forces have destroyed 20 S-300 launchers and 15 radar stations total in an unspecified time period.[8] Syrskyi published geolocated footage showing Ukrainian forces using cluster munitions to strike Russian air defense systems located east of occupied Manhush, Donetsk Oblast (west of Mariupol).[9] The Council of Deputies of Krasninskoye, Volgograd Oblast also claimed on July 15 that the commander of a Russian S-300 battery originally from the area was killed in a Ukrainian ATACMS strike against a S-300 position in the Kharkiv direction at 1300 local time on July 12.[10] The Russian S-300 commander more likely died in a Ukrainian strike against occupied Mariupol, as the commander's reported time of death is within 15 minutes of a reported strike against a Russian S-300 system near Mariupol on July 12. ISW has not observed indications of a Ukrainian strike against Russian air defense assets in Belgorod Oblast on July 12.[11] ISW is unable to confirm the location of the July 12 strike.

Syrskyi stated on July 16 that Ukrainian forces were systematically destroying Russia's air defense capabilities to set conditions for Ukraine's successful use of strike aircraft and noted that F-16s are arriving "soon."[12] Founder of the Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) "Kraken" Regiment Kostyantyn Nemichev stated on July 12 that Ukrainian forces destroyed four Russian S-300 systems that Russian forces used to strike Kharkiv City within an unspecified period of time.[13] The Council of Deputies of Krasninskoye, Volgograd Oblast claimed that the Russian S-300 battery commander killed on July 12 had noted in a recent letter that Ukrainian strikes against Russian air defense assets had killed two Russian battery commanders, likely air defense batteries, in the past two weeks (likely referring to some time in June-early July 2024).[14] The F-16 deliveries to Ukraine will likely begin in small numbers, and materiel and training constraints will likely prevent Ukrainian forces from leveraging fixed-wing airpower at scale in 2024, as ISW has previously noted.[15] Ukrainian officials have previously indicated that Ukrainian forces also intend to use F-16s and other fixed-wing aircraft as part of Ukraine's broader air defense umbrella.[16] However, as ISW previously noted, Ukraine will need to attrit Russia's overall air defense capabilities to safeguard F-16s and properly integrate them into Ukraine's combat operations.[17]

The Russian 235th Garrison Military Court released former 58th Combined Arms Army (CAA) Major General Ivan Popov from pre-detention on July 15 and placed him under house arrest until October 11.[18] The 235th Garrison Military Court previously refused a request to transfer Popov to house arrest in May 2024 due to opposition from the Russian Prosecutor’s Office.[19] Russian authorities arrested Popov on fraud charges on May 17, but ISW assessed that the real reason behind Popov’s arrest is likely tied to his leaked audio message in which he revealed that former Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu dismissed him for expressing persistent grievances about problems in western Zaporizhia Oblast during the Ukrainian Summer 2023 counteroffensive.[20] Russian political bloggers speculated that First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Russian Presidential Administration Sergey Kiriyenko may have influenced the court’s decision to transfer Popov to house arrest and that this transfer occurred during Russian Chief of General Staff Army General Valery Gerasimov’s leave.[21] One political blogger claimed that Gerasimov considers Popov a ”personal enemy,” which may explain why Kiriyenko made the decision during Gerasimov's absence.[22] The Russian MoD, however, published footage on July 16 of Gerasimov visiting a command post of the Russian Eastern Grouping of Forces (GoF), where he reportedly heard reports from Eastern GoF Commander Lieutenant General Alexander Sanchik and lauded the claimed Russian seizure of Urozhaine (a settlement on the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border).[23] ISW observed that the Kremlin recently publicly confirmed that Sanchik replaced Colonel General Sergei Kuzmenko as acting Eastern Military District (EMD) commander.[24]

Armenian police detained another Russian citizen in Armenia, likely at the request of Russian authorities, amid deteriorating Armenian-Russian political and security relations. The Armenian Police reported on July 15 that they detained Russian citizen "Ivan Ch" at the Zvartnots Yerevan International Airport after he arrived in Armenia from Kazakhstan and that Russian authorities put "Ivan Ch" on the Russian wanted list in 2023 for unauthorized abandonment of a military unit.[25] The Armenian police reportedly notified Russian law enforcement of Ivan Ch's detention.[26] Russian military authorities in Armenia previously detained Russian citizens in Armenia for desertion in December 2023 and April 2024, reportedly without notifying Armenian officials.[27] Armenian law enforcement, cooperating with Russian authorities, also recently detained a Russian citizen on Russia's wanted list at the Yerevan Airport for spreading false information about the Russian military.[28] Russia's detentions of its citizens and Russia's requests for Armenian authorities to detain Russian citizens in Armenia are likely part of a Kremlin effort to assert and demonstrate power over Armenia and challenge Armenia's sovereignty.

An investigation by Russian opposition outlet The Bell found that approximately 650,000 people left Russia following the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine and have not returned.[29] The Bell stated that official Russian estimates on how many people have permanently left the country since 2022 are deliberately misrepresentative of the actual scale and instead analyzed immigration statistics of the countries to which Russian citizens fled. The Bell found that the majority of these Russian citizens went to countries that have visa-free regime agreements with Russia, including Armenia (which took 110,000 Russians), Kazakhstan (which took 80,000 Russians), and Georgia (which took 74,000 Russians). Israel and the US took 80,000 and 48,000 Russian citizens, respectively. The actual number of Russian citizens who left Russia is likely greater than 700,000 given that The Bell reported that countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, Azerbaijan, Greece, and Cyprus did not provide Russian immigration data and that some countries such as Portugal lack updated Russian immigration statistics beyond 2022. Forbes notably reported in October 2022, citing sources in the Russian Presidential Administration, that about 700,000 people fled Russia in the first two weeks following the September 21, 2022, start of partial mobilization in Russia.[30] Russian officials previously engaged in a concerted effort to claim that a majority of those who fled since February 2022 began returning to Russia in 2023, but The Bell investigation undermines those Russian claims.[31] The Bell noted that the number of people it confirmed to have permanently left Russia accounts for only 0.5 percent of the whole Russian population, but that this percentage still represents the largest mass Russian emigration in the last two decades (since the period between 1992-2004, when 1.6 million people left Russia in the aftermath of the dissolution of the Soviet Union). The permanent loss of this population will continue to impact Russia's economy—ISW previously reported that mass emigration on such a scale caused mass skilled labor shortages and "brain-drain" amongst more educated and skilled parts of the labor force, who are more likely to be able to afford to permanently move abroad.[32]

Key Takeaways:

  • Ukrainian drone strikes deep within Russia continue to pressure Russia's air defense umbrella and force the Russian military command to prioritize allocating limited air defense assets to cover what it deems to be high-value targets.
  • Ukrainian forces continue targeting Russian air defense systems in occupied Ukraine and in Russia’s border areas to set conditions to field F-16 fighter jets following their anticipated Summer-Fall 2024 arrival to Ukraine.
  • The Russian 235th Garrison Military Court released former 58th Combined Arms Army (CAA) Major General Ivan Popov from pre-detention on July 15 center and placed him under house arrest until October 11.
  • Armenian police detained another Russian citizen in Armenia, likely at the request of Russian authorities, amid deteriorating Armenian-Russian political and security relations.
  • An investigation by Russian opposition outlet The Bell found that approximately 650,000 people left Russia following the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine and have not returned.
  • Russian forces recently advanced northwest of Avdiivka.
  • The Russian government is continuing to improve Russia's bureaucratic mobilization and conscription systems.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 15, 2024

Click here to read the full report.

Christina Harward, Nicole Wolkov, Karolina Hird, Grace Mappes, and George Barros

July 15, 2024, 7pm ET

Note: The data cut-off for this product was 12pm ET on July 15. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the July 16 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.

A recent Ukrainian poll indicates that Ukrainians widely reject Russia's demands for total Ukrainian capitulation, emphasizing that the Kremlin's conditions for the end of the war are entirely unreasonable and widely unpopular within Ukraine. Ukrainian outlet Dzerkalo Tyzhnya commissioned a poll by the Ukrainian Razumkov Center and published its results on July 15.[1] The poll found that 83 percent of respondents rejected Putin's statement that Ukraine must withdraw from all of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhia oblasts — including territory in these oblasts currently under Ukrainian control.[2] The poll also reported that 58 percent of respondents stated that Ukraine should not agree to enshrine a neutral, non-aligned, and non-nuclear status in its constitution. Putin demanded in June 2024 that Ukraine recognize Russia’s territorial claims over eastern and southern Ukraine (including territory that Russia does not currently occupy), "demilitarize," and pledge not to join NATO as preconditions to begin "peace" negotiations.[3] Putin’s extreme terms are tantamount to Ukraine's capitulation, indicating that Putin continues to be uninterested in good-faith negotiations on any terms other than Russia's. Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov recently accused NATO on July 14 of not respecting “Russia’s main concern” when NATO announced Ukraine’s prospects of admission into the alliance, claiming that the alliance’s behavior suggests that there is no basis for negotiations about the war in Ukraine.[4] Putin's framing of Ukraine's total capitulation as a reasonable precondition for peace negotiations is also part of an attempt to undermine Ukraine's efforts to garner international support for Ukraine's own legitimate negotiating positions, which are based on and backed by international law, by shifting international perceptions of logical negotiating terms in Russia's favor. Continued Russian efforts to claim that Ukraine is refusing "reasonable" demands intend to cast Ukraine as the unreasonable actor, despite the fact that Ukraine's rightful borders have been recognized by international law since 1991.

Ukraine continues to demonstrate its willingness to negotiate with Russia on Ukraine’s own terms, and Ukraine’s demands for a peace settlement are in accordance with international law — in direct contrast to Russia’s unwillingness to engage in negotiations that end in anything short of full Ukrainian surrender. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated on July 15 that Ukrainian plans for a second peace summit should be ready by November 2024 and reiterated that a Russian representative should attend.[5] Zelensky stated that in preparation, Ukraine will hold a meeting in Qatar on energy security in late July or early August 2024, a meeting on freedom of navigation in Turkey in August 2024, and a meeting on prisoner of war (POW) exchanges and the repatriation of deported Ukrainian children in Canada in September 2024 — three issues on which the communique of the first Ukraine-initiated Global Peace Summit in Switzerland in June 2024 focused.[6] Recent Kremlin statements continue to demonstrate that Russia is inflexible on negotiations with Ukraine, however, and Kremlin officials have directly stated that Russia would not participate in a second peace summit because its terms are a non-starter given Russian demands.[7] Ukrainian officials emphasized that the purpose of the first peace summit was to facilitate a peace based on international law, including laws to which the Russian Federation is party.[8] Ukraine’s demands that Russia completely withdraw from Ukrainian territory are provided for under international law and are therefore reasonable. Russia’s demands for Ukraine’s complete capitulation and continued Russian occupation of Ukrainian land are and would be violations of international law, however. ISW also continues to assess that Putin’s demands for Ukrainian capitulation would allow Russian forces and occupation administrations to continue their large-scale and deliberate ethnic cleansing campaigns in occupied Ukraine, and the complete reinstatement of Ukraine’s territory integrity is necessary to liberate the Ukrainian people from Russian occupation.[9] An acceptance of anything but Ukraine’s liberation of its people is an implicit endorsement of Russia's illegal occupation of over five million Ukrainians.

European Union (EU) officials continue to take steps to demonstrate the EU’s non-alignment with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s political stances concerning the war in Ukraine. Balazs Orban, Viktor Orban’s Political Director, stated on July 15 that Viktor Orban has additional “trips and negotiations” planned and wrote to the European Council about his previous visits to and discussions about negotiations with Ukraine, Russia, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and the US.[10] EU Commission Spokesperson Eric Mamer stated on July 15 that due to Orban’s recent actions, EU leaders, including European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, would not attend informal meetings led by Hungary.[11] Politico reported on July 15 that three unspecified EU diplomats stated that EU High Commissioner Josep Borrel will hold a “formal” foreign affairs council meeting at the same time as Hungary’s foreign affairs summit in Budapest in late August 2024.[12] A source reportedly stated that other EU foreign ministers want to “send a clear signal that Hungary does not speak for the EU.” Swedish Minister for EU Affairs Jessika Roswall told Reuters on July 11 that Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland would only send civil servants to government meetings connected with Hungary’s EU Council presidency in July 2024 and that other EU states are considering similar measures.[13]

The Russian government proposed to significantly increase the number of conditions on which the Russian government can designate a person as a terrorist or extremist, likely as part of efforts to censor criticisms about Russia’s war in Ukraine. The Russian government submitted a bill to the State Duma on July 15 that would expand the number of articles of the Russian Criminal Code under which the Russian Federal Service for Financial Monitoring (Rosfinmonitoring) could add people to Russia’s list of terrorists and extremists.[14] The proposal notably would allow Rosfinmonitoring to add people whom Russian authorities have convicted of spreading "fakes" about the Russian military out of political, ideological, racial, national, or religious hatred to the list. The proposal would also allow Rosfinmonitoring to add people accused of committing unspecified "other crimes" motivated by political, ideological, racial, national, or religious hatred to the list — granting the Russian government significant leeway to designate people who have allegedly committed a wide array of crimes as terrorists and extremists. The Kremlin has repeatedly attempted to portray Russia as a harmonious multinational and multireligious society despite recent increases in xenophobic rhetoric from Russia's ultranationalist community.[15] The Russian government is likely looking to change the mechanisms for adding people to the terrorist and extremist list in order to incentivize Russians to engage in self-censorship by tightening the Kremlin's control over criticism in Russian society, especially about Russia’s war in Ukraine, while posturing these changes as part of efforts to ensure political and religious freedom and societal harmony in Russia.

Ukrainian forces conducted drone strikes against Russian energy infrastructure overnight on July 14 to 15 and reportedly also hit Russian military assets in occupied Crimea. Lipetsk Oblast Head Igor Artamonov claimed on July 15 that a Ukrainian drone struck the grounds of an electrical substation in Stanovlyansky Raion, Lipetsk Oblast, and the Oryol Oblast administration claimed that a Ukrainian drone damaged an oil storage container after Russian electronic warfare (EW) suppressed the drone over a fuel and energy complex in the Oryolsky Raion.[16] A local Crimean channel claimed that Ukrainian drones struck either a Russian S-300/S-400 air defense system or a Black Sea Fleet (BSF) electronic intelligence unit near occupied Cape Fiolent, but ISW is unable to confirm this strike.[17] The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that Russian forces downed six Ukrainian drones over occupied Crimea and one Ukrainian drone over Lipetsk Oblast overnight on July 14 to 15 and another Ukrainian drone near western Crimea on the afternoon of July 15.[18]

A new Russian migrant assimilation program highlights the apparent struggle the Russian government is facing with reconciling aspects of its policy towards Central Asian migrants as the Russian state desires to present itself as welcoming and multicultural while also emphasizing the primacy of Russian language and historical legacy. Kremlin-affiliated business-focused outlet Kommersant reported on July 15 that the Russian Federal Agency for Ethnic Affairs (FADN) has developed a 70-minute lecture for Central Asian migrants on how to adapt to life in Russia.[19] Kommersant reportedly reviewed the course, which has four sections: "fundamentals of migration and labor legislation," "fundamentals of informal behavior in Russia," "responsibility for non-compliance with Russian legislation," and "the history of relations between Russian and the countries of Central Asia." The course reportedly emphasizes that migrants may undergo a simplified process for acquiring citizenship if they choose to serve with the Russian military, suggesting that the Russian government continues to use the promise of citizenship as a method of luring Central Asian migrants into the army. The course also stresses that "it is important to remember that Russia is a secular state" so migrants must not perform religious rituals, including daily prayers, in public spaces and that "Russians are a multinational people, but everyone speaks Russian." Kommersant found that the course offers a paternalistic and Russia-centric version of Central Asian history, claiming that "big money from the Soviet budget allowed the Central Asian republics to develop successfully."

The purposed assimilation lecture distills several of the tensions that currently exist in Russia's relationship with its migrant minority communities, particularly those from various Central Asian states. As ISW has written at length, Russia's reliance on Central Asian migrants to support Russia’s labor force and sustain military mobilization efforts, has caused substantial frictions within such communities, particularly as many pro-war ultranationalist voices have espoused increasingly xenophobic rhetoric over the backdrop of the war in Ukraine.[20] Head of the Russian Federal Service for the Supervision of Education and Science (Rosnobrnadzor) Anzor Muzaev, for example, advocated that migrants’ children must know Russian to study in Russian schools.[21] Several ultranationalist commentators responded and suggested that the Russian government must adopt a harsher response that prohibits migrants from bringing their families to Russia or prohibits migrant children from studying in public schools at all.[22] The FADN's assimilation program is ostensibly meant to soothe these tensions, but emphasizes that Russian language, history, and culture are meant to enjoy special primacy in migrant communities—directly undermining the Kremlin narrative that Russia is an open and accepting multicultural and multireligious society. This program may also increase tensions and feelings of disenfranchisement within Central Asian migrant communities by enforcing their isolation from their languages, customs, and religious practices.

Chechen Republic Head Ramzan Kadyrov is posturing himself and the North Caucasus as key to Russia's outreach to the Arab world. Kadyrov met on July 15 with United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ambassador to Russia Mohammed Akhmed Sultan Essa Al Jaber and Qatari Ambassador to Russia Sheikh Ahmed bin Nasser Al Thani in Grozny, Chechnya at the ongoing Caucasus Investment Forum.[23] Kadyrov emphasized Qatar’s and the UAE’s "warm relations" with Russia and Qatar, while also highlighting their individual relationships with Chechnya and the wider Caucasus region. The Kremlin likely seeks to use the Caucasus' unique geopolitical, religious, and socio-cultural positioning vis-a-vis the Arab world in order to draw investment to the region and increase political and diplomatic ties with major political players such as Qatar and the UAE. Qatar and the UAE, for example, continue to mediate prisoner of war (POW) exchanges and the repatriation of deported Ukrainian children, so it remains in Russia's interest to maintain firm ties with Gulf states.[24]

Key Takeaways:

  • A recent Ukrainian poll indicates that Ukrainians widely reject Russia's demands for total Ukrainian capitulation, emphasizing that the Kremlin's conditions for the end of the war are entirely unreasonable and widely unpopular within Ukraine.
  • Ukraine continues to demonstrate its willingness to negotiate with Russia on Ukraine’s own terms, and Ukraine’s demands for a peace settlement are in accordance with international law — in direct contrast to Russia’s unwillingness to engage in negotiations that end in anything short of full Ukrainian surrender.
  • European Union (EU) officials continue to take steps to demonstrate the EU’s non-alignment with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s political stances concerning the war in Ukraine.
  • The Russian government proposed to significantly increase the number of conditions on which the Russian government can designate a person as a terrorist or extremist, likely as part of efforts to censor criticisms about Russia’s war in Ukraine.
  • Ukrainian forces conducted drone strikes against Russian energy infrastructure overnight on July 14 to 15 and reportedly also hit Russian military assets in occupied Crimea.
  • A new Russian migrant assimilation program highlights the apparent struggle the Russian government is facing with reconciling aspects of its policy towards Central Asian migrants as the Russian state desires to present itself as welcoming and multicultural while also emphasizing the primacy of Russian language and historical legacy.
  • Chechen Republic Head Ramzan Kadyrov is posturing himself and the North Caucasus as key to Russia's outreach to the Arab world.
  • Ukrainian forces recently regained lost positions near Toretsk, and Russian forces recently advanced near Toretsk and Avdiivka.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin emphasized ongoing Russian efforts to integrate the metallurgy industry in occupied Ukraine into Russia's defense industrial base (DIB).

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 14, 2024

Click here to read the full report with maps

Russian officials and milbloggers reiterated complaints about poor security around critical infrastructure in rear areas of Russia in response to a July 13 Ukrainian drone strike against an oil depot near Tsimlyansk, Rostov Oblast. Russian sources circulated footage on July 13 and 14 of two security guards armed with anti-drone guns seemingly watching a Ukrainian drone strike the oil depot without attempting to shoot down the drone and criticized the security guards for not defending the depot.[1] Russian sources alleged that Russian authorities have attempted to absolve themselves of responsibility for Ukrainian drone strikes by ordering Russian facilities to hire their own security and questioned why the Russian government has not organized mobile fire groups similar to Ukraine's mobile fire groups that defend against Russian Shahed-136/131 drone strikes.[2] Former Roscosmos (Russian space agency) head and Zaporizhia Oblast occupation senator Dmitry Rogozin responded to milblogger criticism on July 14 and claimed that Rosgvardia - a security agency tasked with protecting Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s regime from internal threats and some critical infrastructure - does not have the necessary manpower to set up defense posts at every critical facility in Russia.[3] Rogozin suggested that Russia should form, train, and equip specialized BARS (Russian Combat Army Reserve) volunteer units to provide technical and armed protection of critical energy and transport infrastructure facilities and called on the Russian government and Russian President Vladimir Putin to consider his proposal. Rogozin supervises several BARS units including the Russian BARS-10 Battalion of the "Tsarskiye Volki" Brigade, and owners of Russian irregular formations have previously attempted to use threats to Russian territory in order to advocate for their forces to move from frontline areas in Ukraine to defend Russia's rear and border areas.[4] Russian milbloggers have routinely complained about the Russian government's inability to address and repel Ukrainian strikes against Russian infrastructure.[5]

The Russian military command may have committed under-equipped units initially intended to act as an operational reserve to combat operations, possibly due to constraints on the Russian defense industrial base (DIB) or efforts to reinforce ongoing Russian grinding assaults in Ukraine. Ukrainian military observer Kostyantyn Mashovets stated on July 13 that the Russian military command intended to form the 27th Motorized Rifle Division (2nd Combined Arms Army, Central Military District) as an operational reserve of the Central Grouping of Forces (the command currently overseeing Russian offensive operations in the Avdiivka and Toretsk directions) that could be brought into battle in the event of the development of a Ukrainian counteroffensive in the Avdiivka direction or a Russian offensive in the Toretsk direction.[6] Mashovets stated that the Russian military command, however, deployed the 27th Motorized Rifle Division's 433rd Motorized Rifle Regiment, which is staffed by degraded remnants of the 21st Motorized Rifle Brigade, to the area northwest of Avdiivka before fully restoring its combat capability. Mashovets added that the Russian military command deployed the 506th and 589th motorized rifle regiments to the Toretsk direction ahead of schedule before the units reached their "planned terms."[7] Mashovets stated in March 2024 that the Russian military command only planned to equip the units of the 27th Motorized Rifle Division with up to 87 percent of its doctrinally required amounts of weapons and equipment and that the Russian military command planned to have the 433rd, 506th, and 598th motorized rifle regiments ready for combat by late spring or early summer 2024.[8] ISW first observed reports of elements of the 27th Motorized Rifle Division operating near Avdiivka in April 2024 and near Toretsk in early July 2024.[9] Mashovets' July 14 observation that these regiments deployed to combat earlier than planned, however, may suggest that the Russian military command fell behind the intended staffing and armament schedule and failed to equip these units up to the target 87 percent mark. ISW previously assessed that Russia's ongoing force generation efforts are creating a marginal number of additional forces not immediately committed to the front as reinforcements that Russia can use to gradually establish operational reserves but that the Russian DIB is unlikely able to fully support Russia's reserve manpower.[10] The Russian military command may also have deployed the units early in order to reinforce Russian forces' ongoing grinding assaults in eastern Ukraine.[11]

Ukraine signed a series of security agreements and received several aid packages amid and following the July 9-11 NATO summit. NATO member states issued a declaration on July 10 announcing a Pledge of Long-Term Security Assistance for Ukraine of at least 40 billion euros (about $43 billion) within the next year that will purchase military equipment for Ukraine; fund the maintenance, logistics, and transportation of military equipment; fund military training for Ukrainian forces; invest in Ukraine' defense industrial base (DIB); and supply non-lethal aid to Ukraine.[12] Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced on July 11 that he signed a bilateral security agreement with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis and Iohaniss announced that Romania will transfer a Patriot air defense system to Ukraine at an unspecified future date.[13] Zelensky and Luxembourgish Prime Minister Luc Frieden signed a ten-year bilateral security agreement on July 10, and Zelensky and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk signed a security agreement requiring Poland to train Ukrainian volunteers and Ukrainian Legion units in Poland and provide Western equipment for the units.[14] Zelensky stated on July 14 that Ukraine is also negotiating agreements with Czechia, Slovenia, and Ireland.[15] The European Commission announced on July 13 that 21 countries and the European Union (EU) formed the Ukraine Compact that declares their support for Ukraine's independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.[16] The Compact pledges to support Ukraine's defensive needs, accelerate the development of Ukraine's forces, and allow them to respond swiftly to future Russian aggression against Ukraine. Australia committed to contributing to the training of Ukrainian forces and allocated 250 million Australian dollars (about $170 million) worth of military aid to Ukraine on July 11 which includes air defense missiles, anti-tank weapons, and artillery ammunition.[17]

Key Takeaways:

  • Russian officials and milbloggers reiterated complaints about poor security around critical infrastructure in rear areas of Russia in response to a July 13 Ukrainian drone strike against an oil depot near Tsimlyansk, Rostov Oblast.
  • The Russian military command may have committed under-equipped units initially intended to act as an operational reserve to combat operations, possibly due to constraints on the Russian defense industrial base (DIB) or efforts to reinforce ongoing Russian grinding assaults in Ukraine.
  • Ukraine signed a series of security agreements and received several aid packages amid and following the July 9-11 NATO summit.
  • Ukrainian forces recently regained lost positions near Vovchansk, and Russian forces recently advanced near Avdiivka.
  • Russian State Duma Defense Committee Chairman Andrei Kartapolov reiterated on July 14 that the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) is not planning to demobilize servicemembers that Russia mobilized in Fall 2022 before the end of the war.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 13, 2024

Click here to read the full report with maps

 Angelica Evans, Riley Bailey, Nicole Wolkov, Christina Harward, and Frederick W. Kagan

 July 13, 2024, 4:35pm ET 

Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) reportedly conducted successful drone strikes against an oil depot near Tsimlyansk, Rostov Oblast on the morning of July 13. Ukrainian outlet Suspilne reported that its sources stated that SBU drones struck the oil depot, which stored various grades of gas and diesel fuel.[1] Russian sources amplified footage showing the fire at an oil depot near Tsimlyansk, Rostov Oblast (156km northeast of Rostov-on-Don), and Rostov Oblast Head Vasily Golubev confirmed that a drone strike caused the fire.[2] A Ukrainian military observer told Ukrainian media that Ukrainian forces are targeting Russian military logistics, including oil depots, and that Rostov Oblast is one of Russia's most important military logistics hubs.[3]

Russia and Iran continue to signal their commitment to deepening bilateral relations and multilateral cooperation. Iranian President-elect Masoud Pezeshkian published an article in the Tehran Times on July 12 in which Pezeshkian praised the People's Republic of China (PRC) and Russia for standing by Iran during "challenging times."[4] Pezeshkian stated that Russia is a "valued strategic ally and neighbor" to Iran and that his government will remain committed to expanding and prioritizing bilateral and multilateral cooperation with Russia, including through BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). Pezeshkian claimed that Iran "strives for peace" between Russia and Ukraine and is prepared to support initiatives aimed at peace. Russian Ambassador to Iran Alexei Dedov stated during an interview with Russian state news agency RIA Novosti published on July 13 that Russia will pursue the same strategic course with Iran under Pezeshkian as Russia pursued under deceased Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.[5] Dedov claimed that Russia is prepared to consider peace mediation proposals from Iran, although Russian President Vladimir Putin recently rejected the possibility of any third-party mediation efforts between Russia and Ukraine.[6] Dedov stated that Russia and Iran will sign a comprehensive strategic partnership agreement in the "foreseeable future," but did not provide a concrete timeline for this agreement.

A detained Russian businessman and a Russian military official who were reportedly connected to detained former Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov recently died on the same day. Russian media reported that Igor Kotelnikov, a businessman accused of bribing senior officials in the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD), died of heart failure in a detention facility in Moscow on July 8.[7] A Russian insider source claimed that Russian Federal Security (FSB) officers were attempting to pressure Kotelnikov to testify against Ivanov and other unnamed MoD officials when Kotelnikov fell ill in solitary confinement.[8] A Wagner-affiliated milblogger claimed that Kotelnikov had agreed with FSB military counterintelligence to testify against Ivanov.[9] Russian media reported that the head of the MoD's State Examination Department and Ivanov's former subordinate, Magomed Khandayev, also died on July 8 in Moscow of unspecified causes.[10] Russian authorities reportedly questioned Khandayev as a witness in Ivanov's case, but Khandayev was not facing any criminal charges of his own.[11] Russian authorities arrested Ivanov on April 24, 2024, on charges of accepting bribes, and Ivanov's arrest was the first arrest part of an ongoing large-scale removal of Russian defense officials.[12]

Armenian border guards, cooperating with Russian authorities, reportedly detained a Russian citizen in Yerevan, likely as part of a continued Kremlin effort to assert political power over Armenia and challenge Armenia's sovereignty amid deteriorating Russian-Armenian relations. Russian opposition outlet Agentstvo Novosti reported on July 13, citing two sources familiar with the matter, that Armenian border guards detained Natalia Taranushenko, whom the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) placed on its wanted list for spreading false information about Russia's invasion of Ukraine, at the Yerevan airport.[13] Agentstvo Novosti's sources reported that Armenian border guards detained Taranushenko and transferred her to local police officials, who then released her on the agreement she appear at local law enforcement agencies. The sources also stated that Russian authorities "forced" Armenian security authorities to cooperate and that Armenian police contacted their Russian counterparts. Russian military police of the 102nd Military Base previously detained Russian citizens in Armenia in December 2023 and April 2024 without notifying the Armenian authorities.[14]

Key Takeaways:

  • Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) reportedly conducted successful drone strikes against an oil depot near Tsimlyansk, Rostov Oblast on the morning of July 13.
  • Russia and Iran continue to signal their commitment to deepening bilateral relations and multilateral cooperation.
  • A detained Russian businessman and a Russian military official who were reportedly connected to detained former Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov recently died on the same day.
  • Armenian border guards, cooperating with Russian authorities, reportedly detained a Russian citizen in Yerevan, likely as part of a continued Kremlin effort to assert political power over Armenia and challenge Armenia's sovereignty amid deteriorating Russian-Armenian relations.
  • Ukrainian forces recently regained lost positions near Kupyansk and Svatove, and Russian forces recently advanced near Kreminna, Toretsk and Avdiivka and in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area.
  • The Russian military continues efforts to improve training capacity.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 12, 2024

Click here to read the full report with maps

Riley Bailey, Angelica Evans, Grace Mappes, Christina Harward, and Frederick W. Kagan

July 12, 2024, 7:45pm ET

Western and US officials reportedly assess that Ukrainian forces will continue to be on the defensive for the next six months and will not be able to conduct a large-scale counteroffensive operation until 2025. Ukrainian forces are already attempting to contest the tactical initiative in limited counterattacks in select sectors of the front, however, and Ukrainian forces may be able to conduct limited counteroffensive operations even while largely on the defensive depending on the arrival of Western aid. The New York Times (NYT) reported on July 11 that a senior NATO official stated that Ukraine would have to wait for more Western security assistance and deploy more of its forces to the frontline before conducting counteroffensive operations and that Ukraine would likely not be able to conduct these operations until 2025.[1] A senior US defense official stated that Ukrainian forces would remain on the defensive for the next six months (until January 2025) and that Russian forces will be unlikely to gain significant ground during this time.[2] ISW continues to assess that Russian forces currently remain unlikely to achieve operationally significant gains in Ukraine, and Russian President Vladimir Putin's articulated theory of victory aims for Russian forces to make consistent gradual creeping advances instead of pursuing rapid operationally significant maneuver.[3]

Ukraine is currently addressing its manpower challenges and forming several new brigades that Ukraine could commit to support contesting the initiative, and the provision of Western security assistance needed for equipping these brigades will determine when and at what scale Ukraine can contest the initiative.[4] The arrival of Western-provided aid to the frontlines has allowed Ukrainian forces to stabilize critical areas of the front, and Ukrainian forces have conducted tactically significant and successful localized counterattacks in northern Kharkiv Oblast and towards Kreminna (in the Donetsk-Luhansk Oblast border area) starting in mid-May 2024.[5] Ukrainian forces will likely be able to intensify both the scale and regularity of counterattacks over the coming months as further Western security assistance arrives at the frontline and as Ukraine continues to build out reserves and new brigades.[6] Russian forces are currently attempting to maintain consistent offensive pressure on Ukraine to force Ukrainian forces to commit manpower and materiel to defensive operations instead of accumulating these resources for counteroffensive operations.[7] Russian forces are attempting to achieve this effect through consistent offensive operations throughout eastern and northeastern Ukraine that stretch Ukrainian forces, but nevertheless, Ukrainian forces are leveraging their capabilities and exploiting Russian vulnerabilities to conduct tactical counterattacks.

Ukrainian forces have so far conducted several large-scale counteroffensive operations that have been operationally successful throughout the full-scale invasion, but this approach to liberating territory is not the only possible approach for Ukrainian forces. Breaking out of the current positional warfare in Ukraine is a challenging task for both Russian and Ukrainian forces, and smaller-scale Ukrainian counteroffensive operations present opportunities for pursuing operationally significant objectives without the challenges associated with conducting larger-scale counteroffensive operations. Smaller-scale counteroffensive operations would likely allow Ukraine to start degrading Russia's ability to leverage the theater-wide initiative sooner and more quickly reduce some of the theater-wide pressures on Ukrainian forces. Western security assistance that provides 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 remains the only likely path for reducing Putin's current commitment to destroying Ukrainian statehood and identity regardless of time or cost. These Ukrainian operations do not need to be individual, distinct large-scale endeavors, however, and instead can be a series of compounding counteroffensive operations over the course of late 2024 and throughout 2025.

The Kremlin continues to signal its unwillingness to participate in peace negotiations that do not result in complete Ukrainian and Western capitulation to the Kremlin's demands amid ongoing Ukrainian efforts to form an international consensus for future negotiations. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yuriy Galuzin stated on July 12 that Russia is aware of Ukraine's and the West's intentions to invite Russia to attend a second Global Peace Summit later in 2024 but that Russia does not "accept such ultimatums" and does not "intend to participate in such summits."[8] Galuzin claimed that Ukraine's peace formula (which calls for, among other issues, the withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine, free and safe passage through the Black Sea, the restoration of Ukraine's territorial integrity, and a binding long-term peace agreement) is an "ultimatum" and an "absolute dead-end."[9]

The United Nations (UN) General Assembly passed a resolution on July 12 demanding that Russia "urgently withdraw" its forces and unauthorized personnel from the occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) and "immediately return" the plant to full Ukrainian control, which the Russian Permanent Mission to the UN called a "politicized project" with only Western support.[10] Russian First Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Dmitry Polyanskyi claimed that the resolution is an "ultimatum" and an effort to create the appearance that Ukraine has widespread support.[11] Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Spokesperson Maria Zakharova attempted to frame the UN General Assembly's majority support for the resolution as a failure for Ukraine.[12] Notably, only eight states--all Russian "allies" – Belarus, Burundi, Cuba, North Korea, Eritrea, Mali, Nicaragua, and Syria – voted against the resolution.[13] Kremlin officials will likely continue to frame legitimate Ukrainian negotiating positions as "ultimatums" in order to justify the Kremlin's disinterest in peace negotiations and its continued war against Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the NATO summit on July 11 and announced that Ukraine will hold a conference dedicated to food security and freedom of navigation in Turkey within the framework of the June 2024 Peace Summit.[14] Zelensky also thanked Erdogan for his support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and Erdogan stated that Turkey has begun work to revitalize the Black Sea Grain Initiative.[15] Erdogan has previously attempted to present Turkey as a possible mediator in future peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, and Kremlin officials have repeatedly denied the possibility of Erdogan serving as a future mediator.[16]

Russian Defense Minister Andrei Belousov used a phone call with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on July 12, his second in three weeks, to reiterate standard Russian threats intended to coerce the US out of supporting Ukraine as part of an ongoing reflexive control campaign targeting Western decision-makers.[17] Austin stressed to Belousov the importance of maintaining lines of communication amid Russia's ongoing war against Ukraine, while Belousov discussed "preventing security threats" and reducing the "risk of possible escalation." Austin and Belousov held their first phone call on June 26, and Belousov issued similarly vague threats about the "danger of further escalation" if the United States continues to supply weapons to Ukraine.[18] Russian officials consistently use vague threats of escalation against the United States or other Western countries as part of efforts to discourage Western support for Ukraine.[19]

The United Kingdom (UK) government has reportedly not permitted Ukraine to use UK-supplied Storm Shadow missiles to strike military targets within Russia, despite previous Western reporting and UK official statements to the contrary. The Telegraph reported on July 11 that unspecified sources in the UK government stated that the UK's policy "had not changed" and that the UK had not permitted Ukraine to use UK-provided Storm Shadow missiles to strike military targets within Russia.[20] A senior UK defense source reportedly stated that the situation is "more nuanced" and that Ukrainian Storm Shadow strikes into Russia are "not going to happen." The source reportedly stated that Ukraine would require permission from three countries, including the UK and France, to conduct Storm Shadow strikes against Russian territory. The Telegraph did not specify the third country. New UK Foreign Secretary David Lammy stated in an interview with European Pravda published on July 12 that the UK is "reflecting on" Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's requests for Western states to lift restrictions on the use of Western-provided weapons against Russian territory."[21] Lammy stated that the UK has held discussions with Zelensky over the last few days and has decided to "look at some other things." Lammy stated that the UK supports Ukraine's right to self-defense but declined to detail the UK's "operational decisions" about the matter. Western media interpreted statements by former UK Prime Minister David Cameron about Ukraine's possible use of Storm Shadows on May 3 differently, with Reuters reporting that Cameron stated that the UK had no objection to Ukraine using UK-provided weapons to strike targets within Russia, and BBC stating the Cameron did not directly support Ukraine's use of British weapons in these strikes.[22] Bloomberg reported on July 10 that new UK Prime Minister Keir Starmer, however, stated that it is Ukraine's decision how to deploy Storm Shadows missiles for defensive purposes.[23] Zelensky stated on July 10 that he learned of the UK's permission for Ukraine to use Storm Shadows against military targets in Russia and met with Starmer to "discuss the practical implementation of this decision."[24] The exact contours of the UK's policy regarding Ukraine's use of Storm Shadow cruise missiles remain unclear.

The US Department of Defense (DoD) announced on July 11 a military aid package for Ukraine worth $225 million.[25] The package includes one Patriot air defense battery; munitions for National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS); Stinger anti-aircraft missiles; High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) ammunition; 155mm and 105mm artillery rounds; and Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked, Wire-Guided (TOW) equipment and missiles.

Indian state-run oil refineries are reportedly negotiating an oil import deal with Russia, likely as a result of the recent meetings between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin and improving Russo-Indian energy relations in recent months. Reuters reported on July 11 that an Indian government source stated that Indian state-run oil refineries are negotiating a long-term oil import deal with Russia but have yet to agree on issues such as the payment currency.[26] The source reportedly stated that private Indian oil refineries may also join the negotiations later. Modi met with Putin in Moscow on July 8 and 9 and issued a joint statement about strengthening mutually beneficial energy cooperation.[27] Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak stated on July 9 that India and Russia are considering entering a long-term agreement on oil supplies.[28] Indian private and state-run oil refineries reportedly refused to accept Russian crude oil transported on Russian PJSC Sovcomflot tankers due to US sanctions in early 2024, but Bloomberg reported on May 1 that Indian state-owned Indian Oil Corporation resumed buying Russian crude oil delivered on a PJSC Sovcomflot tanker.[29]

The Kremlin continues to intensify efforts to encourage self-censorship among information space voices and consolidate physical control over internet infrastructure. Russian State Duma Information Policy Committee member Anton Nemkin stated on July 11 that Russian federal censor Roskomnadzor will crack down against users registering for anonymous social media accounts by forcing applications, including Telegram and WhatsApp, to require phone numbers to register for an account and to establish communications with telecommunications companies to prevent Russians from registering accounts using gray market SIM cards.[30] Nemkin stated that Roskomnadzor will work with Telegram and WhatsApp specifically but will develop new rules for user verification and content moderation by late 2024 or late 2025. The Russian Ministry of Justice designated two small, anonymous Russian Telegram channels claiming to have insider information about the Russian government, VChK-OGPU and Russkiy Criminal, as foreign agents on July 12, just one day after announcing that Roskomnadzor may require channels with a daily audience of more than 1,000 people to provide identifying information in the future.[31] Russian opposition outlet Astra stated that the Russian Ministry of Justice alleged that the administrators of the two insider source channels are two defendants in an extortion case involving Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov.[32] The Kremlin likely means to punish these channels in order to illustrate to the rest of the Russian ultranationalist information space that Russians cannot hide behind anonymous Telegram accounts to spread criticisms or rumors about the Kremlin without retribution.

Russian authorities are also throttling speeds for users accessing certain Western social media sites likely to discourage the use of these sites ahead of possible domestic bans. Nemkin stated that Roskomnadzor is not currently considering blocking WhatsApp like it has other Western social media sites but noted that Russia is applying "technological measures such as slowdowns" to WhatsApp, particularly in the Republic of Dagestan.[33] Russia's largest telecommunications operator Rostelecom stated on July 12 that Russians may experience slow load times and low video resolution when accessing YouTube regardless of telecom operator due to a lack of servers hosting content within Russia, but a telecom source told Russian opposition outlet Meduza that this narrative is false.[34] The Russian telecom source instead claimed that Russian authorities have begun deliberately slowing down speeds for users accessing YouTube within Russia, and Meduza cited the University of Michigan's Censored Planet project as saying that Roskomnadzor used its specialized TSPU (technical means of countering threats) system to slow down access to X (formerly Twitter) in 2021.[35] Russian news outlet Gazeta reported that Russia is considering blocking YouTube in September 2024, but Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov denied such reports.[36]

Key Takeaways:

  • Western and US officials reportedly assess that Ukrainian forces will continue to be on the defensive for the next six months and will not be able to conduct a large-scale counteroffensive operation until 2025. Ukrainian forces are already attempting to contest the tactical initiative in limited counterattacks in select sectors of the front, however, and Ukrainian forces may be able to conduct limited counteroffensive operations even while largely on the defensive depending on the arrival of Western aid.
  • The Kremlin continues to signal its unwillingness to participate in peace negotiations that do not result in complete Ukrainian and Western capitulation to the Kremlin's demands amid ongoing Ukrainian efforts to form an international consensus for future negotiations.
  • Russian Defense Minister Andrei Belousov used a phone call with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on July 12, his second in three weeks, to reiterate standard Russian threats intended to coerce the US out of supporting Ukraine as part of an ongoing reflexive control campaign targeting Western decision-makers.
  • The United Kingdom (UK) government has reportedly not permitted Ukraine to use UK-supplied Storm Shadow missiles to strike military targets within Russia, despite previous Western reporting and UK official statements to the contrary.
  • The US Department of Defense (DoD) announced on July 11 a military aid package for Ukraine worth $225 million.
  • Indian state-run oil refineries are reportedly negotiating an oil import deal with Russia, likely as a result of the recent meetings between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin and improving Russo-Indian energy relations in recent months.
  • The Kremlin continues to intensify efforts to encourage self-censorship among information space voices and consolidate physical control over internet infrastructure.
  • Russian forces recently made confirmed advances near Avdiivka and in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area.
  • Russian infantry units are reportedly assaulting Ukrainian trench positions in single-file columns due to pervasive Ukrainian minefields and poor assault training.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Zaporizhia Oblast occupation administration head Yevgeny Balitsky on July 12 and discussed social and infrastructure projects in occupied Zaporizhia Oblast.
 

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 11, 2024

Click here to read the full report.

Angelica Evans, Grace Mappes, Riley Bailey, Christina Harward, and Frederick W. Kagan

July 11, 2024, 6:50pm ET

Note: The data cut-off for this product was 1:30pm ET on July 11. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the July 12 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.

Russian authorities reportedly attempted to assassinate leading figures in the European defense industrial base (DIB), likely as part of Russian efforts to disrupt and deter Western aid to Ukraine and Russia's wider efforts to destabilize NATO members. CNN reported on July 11 that five US and Western officials stated that US intelligence uncovered a Kremlin plan in early 2024 to assassinate German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall CEO Armin Papperger.[1] US intelligence reportedly informed the German government, which was able to foil the plot. CNN reported that the planned assassination against Papperger was one of multiple plans to kill European defense industry executives, but that the plot against Papperger was the "most mature." European authorities have reported that Russian actors and proxies have conducted sabotage and other hybrid warfare operations aimed at deterring and disrupting Western aid to Ukraine, and NATO and its member states have repeatedly warned about intensifying Russian hybrid operations on NATO member territory.[2]

Finnish authorities reported an increase in GPS "malfunctions" in the past week and that most disruptions to aviation and maritime GPS and radar originate from within Russia.[3] Finnish federal transport and communications agency Traficom told Finnish outlet Iltalehti on July 11 that GPS "malfunctions" have increased in the past week in reference to a specific incident in the Gulf of Finland overnight on July 10-11.[4] A Finnish maritime pilot reported on X (formerly Twitter) that he experienced severe GPS and radar malfunctions overnight while guiding other boats near Kotka and Hamina on Finland's southern coast.[5] The pilot published footage of his radar malfunctioning and reported that GPS was unavailable for 90 percent of the route between the Orrengrund pilot substation and Hamina harbor.[6] Reports of increased GPS and radar disruptions in the Gulf of Finland cohere with reports of Russian GPS jamming affecting Baltic states and other areas of Europe. Likely Russian jamming from Kaliningrad has previously jammed the GPS of a plane carrying then–UK Defense Minister Grant Shapps and forced Finnish aircraft carrier Finnair to ground multiple flights out of Finland.[7] The GPS interference in the Baltics forced Finnair to cancel flights to Tartu, Estonia until the Tartu airport implemented an approach solution for planes flying into the airport that does not rely on GPS.[8] Russia's apparent GPS jamming is likely part of Russia's intensifying hybrid campaign directly targeting NATO states likely aimed at undermining support for Ukraine and NATO unity.[9]

Ukraine intends to hold a second meeting of the Global Peace Summit by the end of 2024 and reportedly plans to invite Russia to participate. Deputy Head of the Ukrainian Presidential Office Ihor Zhovkva stated on June 21 that Ukraine wants to hold the second meeting of the summit by the end of 2024, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated on July 4 that "Russian representatives must be present" at any subsequent summit that discusses a legitimate plan to end the war.[10] Bloomberg reported on July 11 that a Ukrainian official stated that Ukraine wants to convene the second meeting of the summit before November 2024 and invite Russian representatives.[11] The Kremlin pointedly stated that Russian representatives would not have attended the first meeting of the Global Peace Summit in Switzerland in June even if they had been invited.[12] Russian President Vladimir Putin has indicated that he is opposed to any agreement short of Ukrainian surrender, however, despite other Kremlin officials continuing to feign interest in meaningful negotiations.[13] The first meeting of the Ukrainian-initiated Global Peace Summit aimed to create a global consensus on negotiations about the war in Ukraine so that Ukraine and its international partners can present a joint peace plan to a Russian representative at a subsequent peace summit, and Ukraine has never indicated that it intends to exclude Russia entirely from its peace process.[14]

European Union (EU) leadership is reportedly considering restricting Hungary's power as EU Council president following Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow and his efforts to present himself as a potential mediator between Russia and Ukraine. POLITICO Europe, European Pravda, and Ukrainian outlet Suspilne reported on July 8, 9, and 11 that they obtained a copy of a letter from Orban to European Council President Charles Michel detailing Orban's July 5 meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and various claimed Russian positions on negotiations and the frontline situation in Ukraine.[15] Orban reportedly advocated for immediate peace negotiations in the letter and claimed that he did not offer any opinions or policy proposals to Putin on behalf of the EU or EU Council during his visit to Moscow.[16] Orban claimed in the letter that he will continue his efforts to facilitate negotiations and "clarify the possibilities for achieving peace" in the coming weeks. The Financial Times (FT) reported on July 10 that, according to three people familiar with the matter, the EU's legal service told member states that Orban's trip to Moscow may have violated a series of EU treaties that forbid any "measure that could jeopardize the attainment of the Union's objectives."[17] Several diplomats told FT that many EU member states are considering boycotting ministerial meetings in Hungary and that a sub-group of member states are discussing how to use the EU treaty to restrict Hungary's power and influence as EU Council president. Pro-European political group Renew Europe president Valerie Hayer called on the European Council to prematurely terminate Hungary's EU Council presidency following Orban's visit to Moscow.[18] Orban has previously flouted EU foreign policy and norms, including opposing sanctions against Russia, and will likely continue to use his position as EU Council president to posture himself as a potential mediator for the end of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.[19]

The Russian government continued efforts to root out critical voices and consolidate control over the Russian information space. Russian federal censor Roskomnadzor stated on July 11 that the agency may require social media account owners with a daily audience of over 1,000 people to provide identifying information to Roskomnadzor in the future.[20] Roskomnadzor stated that in accordance with a Russian law requiring consumers to have "reliable information" about the owner of an information distributor, the agency could require account owners to provide their full name and contact information to the Russian government. Roskomnadzor noted that it will prohibit Russian companies from advertising on the social media pages of owners who have not provided their information to the agency. The Russian government has likely identified the individuals behind most prominent Russian social media accounts but is likely aiming to identify the owners of smaller social media accounts that claim to have insider information into the inner workings of the Russian government, military, or companies. BBC reported in September 2023 that advertisements are a significant money-making method for more prominent Russian milbloggers, and Roskomnadzor likely hopes to force smaller channels whose owners may need the supplemental income to provide their information by restricting their advertisement revenue.[21]

The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) claimed that it prevented a terrorist attack against an Orthodox church in Maykop, Republic of Adygea on July 11.[22] The FSB claimed that a man from Central Asia, supposedly affiliated with an unspecified international terrorist organization, planned to murder the church's clergy and security guards and burn down the church. The FSB claimed that officers found and seized prohibited materials, the flag of an unspecified terrorist organization, a knife, and components of an incendiary device belonging to the man. The Russian government opened an investigation into the terrorist attack.

Key Takeaways:

  • Russian authorities reportedly attempted to assassinate leading figures in the European defense industrial base (DIB), likely as part of Russian efforts to disrupt and deter Western aid to Ukraine and Russia's wider efforts to destabilize NATO members.
  • Finnish authorities reported an increase in GPS "malfunctions" in the past week and that most disruptions to aviation and maritime GPS and radar originate from within Russia
  • Ukraine intends to hold a second meeting of the Global Peace Summit by the end of 2024 and reportedly plans to invite Russia to participate.
  • European Union (EU) leadership is reportedly considering restricting Hungary's power as EU Council president following Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Moscow and his efforts to present himself as a potential mediator between Russia and Ukraine.
  • The Russian government continued efforts to root out critical voices and consolidate control over the Russian information space.
  • The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) claimed that it prevented a terrorist attack against an Orthodox church in Maykop, Republic of Adygea on July 11.
  • Ukrainian forces advanced north of Kharkiv City; and Russian forces recently advanced south of Siversk, northwest of Avdiivka, and west of Donetsk City.
  • Russian federal subjects (regions) continue to use monetary incentives as part of Russia's crypto-mobilization recruitment efforts.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 10, 2024

Click here to read the full report

Riley Bailey, Nicole Wolkov, Kateryna Stepanenko, Karolina Hird and George Barros

July 10, 2024, 7:30pm ET

Note: The data cut-off for this product was 1:30pm ET on July 10. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the July 11 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.

Ukrainian First Deputy Defense Minister Lieutenant General Ivan Havrylyuk stressed that robust Western security assistance will be crucial for Ukraine's ability to contest and seize the battlefield initiative. Havrylyuk also challenged the notion that Russian forces will be able to indefinitely sustain the consistent gradual creeping advances that support Russian President Vladimir Putin's theory of victory for winning a war of attrition in Ukraine. Havrylyuk published an article entitled "What Factors Will Allow Ukraine to Conduct a Counteroffensive" on July 9 wherein he states that Ukraine must contest the initiative and conduct counteroffensive operations in order to neutralize the Kremlin's efforts to protract the war and to increase costs on Russia that will force it towards a just peace aligned with Ukraine's terms.[1] Havrylyuk stated that Ukraine can contest the initiative if Ukraine strengthens combat brigades with personnel, ammunition, and equipment and specifically staffs and equips new brigades.[2] Havrylyuk also noted that it will be critical for Ukraine to create and consistently replenish reserves and sufficiently train new personnel.[3] Havrylyuk emphasized that Western security assistance will be critically important in determining at what scale Ukraine can achieve these tasks and called for more air defense systems, artillery shells, and long-range strike capabilities to strengthen Ukrainian combat effectiveness and operational capabilities.[4] Ukraine is addressing its manpower challenges and is already forming several new brigades, but Ukraine's ability to equip these brigades will be the determining factor for how, when, and at what scale Ukraine can commit new brigades to support potential counteroffensive operations.[5] Current reporting suggests that Ukraine will not be able to fully equip all new planned brigades without the arrival of additional Western security assistance.[6] Western security assistance that provides Ukrainian forces with the necessary equipment and weapons at the scale, timing, and regularity required for operations that liberate significant swaths of occupied Ukraine remains the only likely path for reducing Putin's current commitment to destroying Ukrainian statehood and identity.[7]

Ukrainian forces are already attempting to contest the battlefield initiative in limited and localized counterattacks at the tactical level — emphasizing that the current state of grinding positional warfare along the frontline is not an indefinitely stable one. The arrival of Western-provided aid to the frontlines has allowed Ukrainian forces to stabilize critical areas of the front, and Ukrainian forces have conducted tactically significant and successful localized counterattacks in northern Kharkiv Oblast and towards Kreminna (in the Donetsk-Luhansk Oblast border area) starting in mid-May 2024.[8] Ukrainian forces are not yet conducting counterattacks at the scale necessary to seize the battlefield initiative, but these tactical Ukrainian counterattacks are increasing the costs imposed on Russian forces for continuing to pursue their slow, grinding theory of advance. For example, Ukrainian counterattacks in northern Kharkiv Oblast have forced Russian troops to redeploy select Russian elements away from where their centralized command formation should hypothetically be — ISW observed that Russia moved elements of the 810th Naval Infantry Brigade (Black Sea Fleet) and a battalion tactical group of the 9th Motorized Rifle Brigade (1st Donetsk People's Republic Army Corps) to northern Kharkiv Oblast in mid-June while other elements of the 810th Infantry and 9th Motorized Rifle brigades remained near Krynky, Kherson Oblast, and Toretsk, Donetsk Oblast respectively, where they had been fighting for some time.[9] ISW also recently assessed that the Russian military command was separating and deploying elements of Russian Airborne (VDV) formations across the frontline — elements of the 106th VDV Division's 137th VDV Regiment are reportedly fighting in Kherson Oblast, while other elements of the regiment are fighting near Siversk, Donetsk Oblast.[10] The disparate deployment of elements of the same wider formation is a strong indicator that Russian forces are beginning to feel the pressure of Ukrainian counterattacks — emphasizing that the frontline is not as static as Putin assesses it to be. Ukraine's ability to launch more powerful and organized counterattacks, however, continues to be contingent on sustained Western military support.

Havrylyuk assessed that Russia will face medium- to long-term economic and equipment challenges that will impede the Russian military's ability to indefinitely retain the theater-wide initiative, sustain consistent offensive pressure that results in gradual creeping advances, and win a war of attrition. Havrylyuk stated that Russian forces still retain a significant artillery, armored vehicle, and manpower advantage over Ukrainian forces and that Ukraine lacks effective countermeasures to degrade the Russian aviation capabilities that are facilitating Russian tactical advances.[11] Havrylyuk stated that Russian forces are leveraging these advantages and the theater-wide initiative to intensify and sustain the tempo of their offensive operations in order to exhaust Ukrainian forces and prevent Ukraine from accumulating the manpower and materiel needed to contest the initiative.[12] Havrylyuk assessed that Russian forces will not make significant advances in the future but that the current positional warfare suits the Kremlin's attempt to protract the war and convince the West that Ukraine's victory is impossible.[13] Havrylyuk's assessment is consistent with ISW's assessment about Putin's strategic calculus, his desire to protract the war, and his attempts to convince the West to abandon Ukraine.[14] Putin and the Russian military command likely view the retention of the initiative as a strategic priority and assess that Ukraine will be unable to conduct any operationally significant counteroffensive operations as long as Russia maintains consistent offensive pressure against Ukraine.[15]

Havrylyuk challenged Russia's prospects for indefinitely maintaining that offensive pressure, however, suggesting that Russia has reached a limit for mobilizing its defense industrial base (DIB) in support of the war effort.[16] Russia will likely face human capital and supply chain constraints in the medium-term that will prevent the Kremlin from gradually mobilizing Russia's DIB as it has done so far, presenting Putin with more politically fraught economic choices should he deem further economic mobilization necessary.[17] Havrylyuk stated that Russia is not producing enough to cover its current military equipment losses in Ukraine, increasingly relying on dwindling stockpiles of mainly Soviet-era equipment and becoming more dependent on foreign partners for military materiel.[18] Russia has extensively relied on the refurbishment of Soviet-era equipment to expand defense outputs, and growing constraints on available combat-ready equipment will pose challenges for sustaining Russian operations in Ukraine in the medium- to long-term.[19] Ukrainian forces that have accumulated the manpower and materiel needed for operationally significant counteroffensive operations can exploit disruptions that even temporary Russian equipment constraints cause to contest and seize the battlefield initiative.[20] Havrylyuk assessed that Russian forces will face fewer manpower challenges, although even Russia's current ability to generate as many new personnel as battlefield losses leads to culminations - periods of temporary regrouping and reconstitution and lower offensive tempo — which will provide opportunities for sufficiently prepared Ukrainian forces to contest and seize the battlefield initiative.[21]

Putin's articulated theory of a slow, grinding victory in Ukraine is notably premised on accepting continuously high casualty rates, as exemplified by reported Russian losses accrued during two recent offensive efforts. In his July 9 article, Havrylyuk claimed that Russian forces suffered 5,000 casualties for just one district of Chasiv Yar, likely referring to Kanal Microraion (the only neighborhood of easternmost Chasiv Yar that Russian forces currently control).[22] Kanal Microraion is around three blocks wide and three blocks long, and the loss of 5,000 personnel for such a small piece of territory is indicative of the highly attritional way in which Russian forces are conducting their offensive operations. Ukrainian Kharkiv Group of Forces Chief-of-Staff Viktor Solimchuk similarly reported on July 10 that Russian forces lost (killed, wounded, or captured) 91 percent of the personnel they committed to fighting (reportedly amounting to roughly a division‘s worth of personnel) in northern Kharkiv Oblast at the start of the Kharkiv Oblast offensive in early May 2024.[23] Solimchuk also noted that Russian offensive efforts in Vovchansk, Kharkiv Oblast, have severely weakened the 138th Motorized Rifle Brigade (6th Combined Arms Army, Leningrad Military District).[24] Ukrainian and Western sources recently reported that the 83rd Airborne (VDV) Brigade suffered such devastating losses in Kharkiv Oblast that it is no longer combat-effective.[25] ISW cannot independently verify either Ukrainian or Western estimates of Russian casualties, but the recent increase in reports of entire Russian units becoming combat ineffective due to losses highlights the tactics on which Russian forces are relying on to pursue Putin's theory of a slow, gradual, grinding victory in Ukraine.

NATO allies reaffirmed their commitment to supporting Ukraine and announced new security assistance packages for the Ukrainian war effort at the NATO summit in Washington, DC on July 9 and 10. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated that he expects NATO allies to agree on a substantial package for Ukraine which includes establishing a NATO command center in Weisbaden, Germany to facilitate the training of Ukrainian personnel and the delivery of security assistance, establishing a new joint training center in Bydgoszcz, Poland, a long-term pledge of continued support for Ukraine, new announcements of provisions of air defense systems and F-16 fighter jets, and bilateral security agreements between NATO allies and Ukraine.[26] Stoltenberg noted that these pledges will constitute a "strong bridge" for possible, future Ukrainian NATO membership. US President Joe Biden, Dutch Prime Minister Dick Schoof, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky issued a joint statement on July 9 pledging to provide five additional Patriot air defense systems to Ukraine.[27] The joint statement notes that the US and its partners, including Canada, Norway, Spain, and the United Kingdom, intend to provide Ukraine with "dozens" of tactical air defense systems in the coming months. Biden, Schoof, and Danish Prime Minister Mette Fredriksen issued a joint statement on July 10 noting that the Netherlands and Denmark are in the process of transferring F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine and that Ukraine will start operating F-16s in the Summer of 2024.[28] Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store announced on July 10 that Norway will provide Ukraine with six F-16s starting at an unspecified date in 2024.[29] The Dutch Ministry of Defense (MoD) stated on July 10 that the Netherlands will allocate an additional 300 million euros (about $325 million) to purchase ammunition for F-16s.[30] The new United Kingdom (UK) Prime Minister, Keir Starmer, reaffirmed on July 9 that he would continue the UK's policy of allowing Ukrainian forces to strike military targets in Russian territory with UK-provided Storm Shadow missiles.[31]

Russian Security Council Deputy Chairperson Dmitry Medvedev reaffirmed that Russia would not accept or uphold any negotiated peace settlements with Kyiv short of Ukrainian capitulation, the destruction of the entire Ukrainian state, and the full occupation of Ukraine. Medvedev stated on July 10 that even if Kyiv agrees to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most recent conditions for peace — namely recognizing Russia’s territorial claims over eastern and southern Ukraine, including territory that Russia does not currently occupy, and pledging not to join NATO — and signs documents resulting in Ukrainian surrender, these actions will not constitute the “end of the Russian military operation” in Ukraine.[32] Medvedev stated that even if Ukraine surrenders, Russia will eventually still need to destroy the remaining Ukrainian “radicals” and return “remaining [Ukrainian] lands to the bosom of the Russian land.” Medvedev also implied that Russian-Ukrainian negotiations will likely take place only after there is a radical change within the Ukrainian government and that this can only occur after Ukrainian society stages a “third bloody Maidan” revolution in response to a ceasefire agreement and Ukraine’s willingness to abandon prospects for NATO accession. Medvedev insinuated that the Kremlin plans to continue its conquest of Ukraine following a negotiated peace agreement. Medvedev’s argumentation also indicates that the Kremlin believes that the full conquest of Ukraine will be easier if Kyiv accepts deeply unpopular ceasefire agreements and concessions at the current stage of the war, in anticipation that Ukrainian society would demand a government change that could benefit the Kremlin. The Kremlin has misread domestic Ukrainian sentiment before, however. Ukrainian officials have long warned that the Kremlin launched an elaborate “Maidan 3” information campaign, which aims to undermine the Ukrainian government likely in order to trigger a government change and establish a pro-Kremlin government in Ukraine.[33]

Servicemembers of a Russian motorized rifle regiment that was previously implicated in the execution of Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) in late May 2024 reportedly executed two Ukrainian POWs in the same area in western Zaporizhia Oblast in June 2024. Ukrainian social media sources amplified footage on July 10 showing Russian servicemembers shooting two Ukrainian POWs in the Zaporizhia direction and identified the perpetrators as servicemembers of the Russian 70th Motorized Rifle Regiment (42nd Motorized Rifle Division, 58th Combined Arms Army [CAA], Southern Military District [SMD]).[34] Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin stated on July 10 that the video clearly showed Ukrainian personnel laying down their arms and cooperating with Russian orders and noted that the investigation found that the incident took place near Robotyne in June 2024.[35] The execution of POWs is a violation of the Geneva Convention on POWs.[36] Ukraine’s Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) previously identified four servicemembers of the Russian 70th Motorized Rifle Regiment who executed Ukrainian POWs near Robotyne in late May 2024.[37] ISW assessed on June 19 that the Russian military command endorses a culture of permissiveness towards war crimes perpetrated by subordinates throughout the theater in Ukraine, especially in Donetsk and Zaporizhia oblasts.[38] ISW also assessed that individual tactical-level commanders are likely enabling their subordinates to commit such atrocities given the pervasiveness and recurrence of these war crimes across different operational commands. The fact that the same military unit has continued to commit these crimes also suggests that the Russian high command is failing to properly discipline troops and maintain order.

Select US military bases in Europe have instituted increased alert levels in response to intensified Russian sabotage and hybrid operations against NATO allies over the past several months. CNN reported on July 9, citing multiple sources familiar with the matter, that the US recently implemented additional safety protocols and raised the state of alert at US military bases in Europe after receiving intelligence that Russian-backed actors may be planning sabotage attacks against US facilities and personnel.[39] CNN's sources stated that several US military bases in Europe raised their alert level to “Force Protection Condition Charlie,” which applies "when an incident occurs, or intelligence is received indicating some form of terrorist action or targeting against personnel or facilities is likely."[40] NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed on July 10 that the US has increased its alert levels for some US bases in Europe and noted that Russian sabotage attempts and other malign acts against NATO allies are part of a campaign to intimidate NATO countries that support Ukraine.[41] Stoltenberg stated that NATO is increasing its awareness, intelligence sharing, and cyber defenses to combat increased Russian hybrid threats. The Washington Post reported on July 10, citing Kremlin documents obtained by an unspecified European intelligence service, that Russia is identifying individuals and recruiting sympathizers through social media to stage sabotage operations in Europe.[42] The Kremlin documents show that Kremlin political strategists in July 2023 analyzed the Facebook profiles of over 1,200 people who they believed were workers of the two large German plants and highlighted posts demonstrating an anti-government, anti-immigration, and anti-Ukraine position. Unspecified Western officials noted that Russia is increasingly working through proxies, including via internet recruits, which offers some deniability while maximizing the pool of potential recruits. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis noted that individuals recruited online for Russian sabotage operations may not have a Russian handler in a NATO country.[43]

Key Takeaways:

  • Ukrainian First Deputy Defense Minister Lieutenant General Ivan Havrylyuk stressed that robust Western security assistance will be crucial for Ukraine's ability to contest and seize the battlefield initiative. Havrylyuk also challenged the notion that Russian forces will be able to indefinitely sustain the consistent gradual creeping advances that support Russian President Vladimir Putin's theory of victory for winning a war of attrition in Ukraine.
  • Ukrainian forces are already attempting to contest the battlefield initiative in limited and localized counterattacks at the tactical level — emphasizing that the current state of grinding positional warfare along the frontline is not an indefinitely stable one.
  • Havrylyuk assessed that Russia will face medium- to long-term economic and equipment challenges that will impede the Russian military's ability to indefinitely retain the theater-wide initiative, sustain consistent offensive pressure that results in gradual creeping advances, and win a war of attrition.
  • Putin's articulated theory of a slow, grinding victory in Ukraine is notably premised on accepting continuously high casualty rates, as exemplified by reported Russian losses accrued during two recent offensive efforts.
  • NATO allies reaffirmed their commitment to supporting Ukraine and announced new security assistance packages for the Ukrainian war effort at the NATO summit in Washington, DC on July 9 and 10.
  • Russian Security Council Deputy Chairperson Dmitry Medvedev reaffirmed that Russia would not accept or uphold any negotiated peace settlements with Kyiv short of Ukrainian capitulation, the destruction of the entire Ukrainian state, and the full occupation of Ukraine.
  • Servicemembers of a Russian motorized rifle regiment that was previously implicated in the execution of Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) in late May 2024 reportedly executed two Ukrainian POWs in the same area in western Zaporizhia Oblast in June 2024.
  • Select US military bases in Europe have instituted increased alert levels in response to intensified Russian sabotage and hybrid operations against NATO allies over the past several months.
  • Russian forces recently advanced in Vovchansk, near Kreminna, and near Toretsk.
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed on July 10 that the Russian military trained the first batch of Moscow Military District (MMD) counter-drone instructors at the Alabino training ground in Moscow Oblast.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 9, 2024

Click here to read the full report.

Karolina Hird, Nicole Wolkov, Kateryna Stepanenko, Grace Mappes, and Fredrick W. Kagan

July 9, 2024, 8:45pm ET

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi issued a joint statement on July 9 about strengthening mutually beneficial political, economic, energy, and military-technical cooperation between Russia and India. Modi met with Putin in Moscow on July 8 and 9 to discuss furthering Russo-Indian relations, which Putin referred to as a "particularly privileged strategic partnership."[1] The joint statement specifically pledged to increase joint production of spare components and parts for servicing Russian-made military equipment and weapons in India, agreed to establish a working group on technological cooperation, and planned to reorient the existing Russo-Indian Intergovernmental Commission on Military and Military-Technical Cooperation on joint research, development, and production of advanced defense technologies and systems.[2]  Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak stated that India and Russia are considering entering a long-term agreement on oil supplies and that Russia is considering allowing Indian companies to participate in Russian gas projects.[3] Head of the Russian state nuclear energy operator Rosatom Alexei Likhachev stated during a tour that Putin and Modi took at a Rosatom exhibition that Russia is offering to assist India in constructing low-power tropical nuclear power plants.[4] Modi credited Russo-Indian energy, economic, and food security cooperation for helping to control Indian inflation and ensure economic stability.[5]

Putin has been intensifying efforts to strengthen Russian relations with non-Western countries through individualized appeals, although he is likely emphasizing Russo-Indian cooperation in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and BRICS as part of a wider Russian effort to create an alternative "Eurasian security architecture" leveraging existing Eurasian multilateral organizations.[6] Putin stated that Russia and India will continue to closely cooperate in multilateral organizations such as the United Nations (UN), SCO, and BRICS.[7] Putin and Russian Defense Minister Andrey Belousov have both explicitly identified the SCO and BRICS as the pillars of this "Eurasian security architecture."[8] Putin also recently visited the People's Republic of China (PRC), North Korea, and Vietnam to strengthen bilateral cooperation with these countries and attempt to build a coalition of support for Russia from non-Western countries.[9]

Modi tacitly supported the Kremlin's false narrative that Russia is interested in a peaceful, negotiated resolution to the war in Ukraine, likely in exchange for deepening economic, energy, and technological cooperation with Russia. Putin thanked Modi for trying to find a "peaceful" way to resolve the war in Ukraine, and Modi stated that dialogue, not war, is necessary for a peaceful solution.[10] Modi also stated that India is ready to assist Russia in establishing peace as soon as possible. Modi notably did not frame India as a potential mediator between Russia and Ukraine, and Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated to the press following Russian-Indian negotiations that Modi did not claim to be a mediator in the war.[11] Putin has previously expressed support for non-Western countries' mediation efforts - most notably the People's Republic of China (PRC) and a coalition of African states — as part of Russian information operations falsely portraying Russia as willing to negotiate with Ukraine.[12] Putin previously amplified the false narrative that Russian authorities are interested in good-faith negotiations but continues to state that his prerequisites for negotiation require Ukraine's full capitulation through "demilitarization" and the surrender of significant territory that Russia does not currently occupy.[13] Putin has more recently rejected any efforts of third-party mediation.[14]

Putin may have pledged to return Indian volunteers fighting in Ukraine during a private dinner with Modi in Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Oblast on July 8. Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra stated on July 9 that Modi “strongly” raised the need for Russia to facilitate the early discharge of Indian nationals “who have been misled” into fighting in Ukraine as part of the Russian military.[15] Kwatra stated that Russian officials promised the early discharge of Indian nationals and noted that around 35 to 50 Indian nationals have fought in Ukraine under misleading offers of high-paying “support roles” in the Russian military and that 10 of these Indian nationals already returned to India.[16] Unnamed sources told Indian news media company New Delhi Television (NDTV) that Putin personally agreed to discharge all Indian volunteers who had signed military service contracts with the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and pledged to facilitate the return of Indian volunteers.[17] Unnamed sources told the Indian English-language newspaper The Hindu that India expects the release of Indian volunteers within the coming weeks after Modi’s ”direct intervention” in the matter.[18] Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated that the Kremlin will not comment on these reports, although Russian state news agency TASS notably paraphrased Indian reports as stating that Indian citizens were allegedly fighting in Ukraine ”by mistake.”[19] The official Kremlin read-out of the July 8 meeting also omitted to mention the Putin-Modi discussion of Indian volunteers fighting in Ukraine.[20]

The recruitment of Indian volunteers into the Russian military is certainly not a “mistake” and is part of the Kremlin’s deceptive volunteer recruitment campaign aimed at reinforcing the frontlines in Ukraine without declaring unpopular mobilization in Russia. Indian officials announced their efforts in February 2024 to secure early discharge for 20 Indian nationals recruited into the Russian military.[21] The Indian Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) announced in March 2022 that it uncovered “a major human trafficking network” that lured Indian citizens to work in Russia but forced them to join the Russian military.[22] A group of Indian men published a video appeal in March 2024 requesting help from the Indian government to return from Russia, stating that Russian officials coerced them into joining the Russian army upon arrival to Russia on tourist visas and threatened to imprison them for 10 years.[23] Indian nationals told Reuters in March 2024 that recruiters offered permanent residency in Russia after six months of combat service.[24] The recruitment of Indian nationals is part of an ongoing Kremlin force generation campaign which began in Spring 2022 as a way for Putin to avoid declaring deeply unpopular mobilization in Russia and has continued following Putin's partial mobilization declaration in September 2022.[25] The Kremlin entrusted a wide range of recruiters including Russian government officials, businessmen, private military companies (PMCs), and foreign nationals with recruiting any available volunteers to fight in Ukraine, often using deceptive practices and incentives.[26] ISW observed Russia commit citizens of Nepal, Cuba, Serbia, and Central Asian and African countries to combat operations in Ukraine under deceptive premises such as offers of Russian citizenship or steep financial compensations.[27]

Some unnamed US government officials appear to believe that Ukraine does not need to liberate its occupied lands and people to win the war, despite Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent clear statements that Russia will not accept a negotiated ceasefire on any terms other than Ukrainian capitulation and will not abandon its goals of the total destruction of the entire Ukrainian state--not just the lands it currently occupies. The New York Times (NYT) reported on July 9 that anonymous US officials think that "even without formally winning back its land, Ukraine could still emerge a victor in the war by moving closer to NATO and Europe."[28] This US assessment is premised on several faulty assumptions—first and foremost on the assumption that Ukraine's NATO or European Union (EU) membership is guaranteed. Ukraine’s NATO and EU membership should not be taken as a given in discussions of the future of Ukrainian security.[29] This assessment also rests on the assumption that losing the lands Russia currently occupies and its civilians under Russian occupation will not severely compromise Ukraine's future economic viability and ability to defend itself against future Russian attacks, which, as ISW has frequently emphasized, is not the case.[30] The lands Russia currently occupies are both economically and strategically necessary for Ukraine, and their continued occupation will deprive Ukraine of economic resources and strategically critical land. Putin himself has stated that Russia will not be content with ending the war on the lines it currently holds and has explicitly called for the Ukrainian withdrawal from the non-occupied parts of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhia oblasts as a prerequisite for any sort of "peace" negotiations with Ukraine.[31] The areas Putin is currently demanding include the large cities of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, among other things. Putin has, furthermore, continually framed the war as a struggle against NATO and repeated his insistence that Ukraine change its constitution to formally abandon any aspirations of joining the alliance.[32]  There is no basis for assessing that Putin would agree to a ceasefire that leaves Ukraine closer to NATO. Finally, this suggestion is contingent on the faulty assumption that Russian aggression will "end" with the conclusion of the war on Russia's terms. ISW, on the contrary, has assessed that a negotiated ceasefire on Russian terms will afford the Russian military time to rest and reconstitute, likely before conducting a future attack on Ukraine from a much more advanced and fortified frontline.[33] Putin has been firm and consistent in his ultimate goal of destroying the Ukrainian state and will not give up that goal until he feels that he has achieved it.[34]

Several independent investigations, including one conducted by the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU), concluded that a Russian missile struck the Kyiv City Okhmatdyt Children's Hospital on July 8 amid continued official Russian denials and deflections. The HRMMU assessed on July 9 that the Okhmatdyt strike "was likely caused by a direct hit from a Russian missile."[35] Open-source investigations conducted by MolfarBellingcat, and a Ukrainian reserve officer for the Ukrainian outlet Euromaidan Press concluded that a Russian Kh-101 cruise missile struck the hospital.[36] The investigations cited visual characteristics of the Kh-101 model that are consistent with clear footage of the missile seconds before its impact. Ukraine called a meeting of the UN Security Council (UNSC) on July 9 to discuss the Okhmatdyt strike, and several international officials condemned Russia for so blatantly striking a civilian object.[37] Russian officials and commentators, however, continue to deny Russian responsibility for the strike or blame it on an errant Ukrainian air defense missile, despite the growing body of documentation to the contrary.[38] Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova claimed that a Ukrainian NASAMS air defense missile struck the Okhmatdyt hospital and accused Ukraine of using the strike for informational effect to "further escalate" the war.[39] Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov claimed that a Ukrainian missile hit Okhmatdyt and called it a "PR operation in blood."[40]  A former pro-Russian Ukrainian Rada deputy attempted to justify the strike by claiming that Ukrainian forces had an air defense headquarters in the area.[41] These Russian claims are baseless and refuted by the aforementioned visual evidence and open-source investigations, and as ISW stated on July 8, do not absolve Russian forces of legal or moral responsibility for the impacts of the strike on Okhmatdyt.[42]

Ukrainian forces conducted a series of drone strikes against Russian energy and military infrastructure in Belgorod, Kursk, Rostov, Astrakhan, and Volgograd oblasts overnight on July 8 to 9. Sources in Ukrainian intelligence told Ukrainian media that Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) and Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) conducted drone strikes against the Akhtubinsk military airfield in Astrakhan Oblast, an electrical substation in Rostov Oblast, and an oil depot in Kalach-on-Don in Volgograd Oblast overnight.[43] Geolocated footage published on July 9 shows fires at an electrical substation in Yudino, Rostov Oblast and the Kalach-on-Don oil depot.[44]  Russian and Ukrainian sources reported that Ukrainian drones also struck electrical substations at an oil refinery, butter factory, and gas stations in Kursk Oblast, as well as the Energomash electrical equipment plant in Belgorod City.[45] Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces launched over 40 drones at areas in Russia overnight, including "several dozen" drones against Rostov Oblast, and that Russian air defenses intercepted most but not all of the drones.[46]

Russian President Vladimir Putin appointed new military prosecutors on July 8, likely in support of ongoing, long-term Russian military reforms. Putin appointed Russian Lieutenant General of Justice Sergey Kazakov as military prosecutor of the Russian Joint Group of Forces for a five-year term, replacing Lieutenant General of Justice Alexey Naida.[47] Putin appointed Naida as military prosecutor of the Leningrad Military District (LMD), Major General of Justice Konstantin Olkhovatenko as Central Military District (CMD) military prosecutor, Major General of Justice Igor Kupreev as Northern Fleet military prosecutor, and Major General of Justice Oleg Okorokov as Black Sea Fleet (BSF) military prosecutor.[48] Putin appointed Lieutenant General of Justice Andrey Popov on April 8 as military prosecutor of the Moscow Military District (MMD) after having served in the same position for the CMD.[49] Putin is likely shifting around and appointing new military prosecutors to support his effort to reform and encourage discipline within the Russian military in the long-term.

Newly-elected Iranian President Masoud Pezeshkian reiterated Iran's continued willingness to enter a comprehensive strategic partnership with Russia, emphasizing the continuity in Iran's support for Russia even under a new presidential administration. Pezeshkian spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the phone on July 8 and reportedly voiced Iran's willingness to sign a comprehensive strategic partnership agreement with Russia at the upcoming October 2024 BRICS summit.[50] Putin in turn highlighted his satisfaction with close Russo-Iranian relations and expressed his readiness for "joint work" in various areas.[51] Pezeshkian's apparent willingness to pursue and develop a strategic partnership with Russia is consistent with the efforts of his predecessor, Ebrahim Raisi, to expand bilateral cooperation by having consistent meetings with Putin and other Russian officials.[52] ISW-CTP previously assessed that Pezeshkian's presidency is unlikely to create meaningful changes in the Iranian regime, as Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei will continue to dictate Iran's foreign policy objectives.[53]

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) released affidavits on July 9 for several hundred X (formerly Twitter) accounts and domain names used by Russian state media and security services to operate a bot farm aimed at spreading disinformation in the United States and abroad.[54] The DoJ announced that it seized two domain names and searched 986 X accounts linked to an artificial intelligence (AI)-enhanced bot farm developed by Russian state media network RT and operated by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB). The DoJ reported that this bot farm used AI to create fictitious social media profiles of individuals falsely posing as US individuals to promote messages in support of Russian government objectives. The DoJ said that RT leadership has sought to develop alternative means to distribute Russian narratives beyond its international TV broadcasts since at least 2022 and began establishing this bot farm in April 2022. The DoJ added that the Kremlin approved and offered financial support in early 2023 to create and lead a private intelligence organization to spread Russian disinformation using this bot farm. US Attorney General Merrick Garland reported that DoJ searches and seizures have disrupted a Russian "AI-enabled propaganda campaign" intended to sow disinformation among US and international social media outlets. The DoJ report emphasized the prevalence of fictitious social media accounts, particularly on X, that were linked to both the bot farm and the seized domain names. The DoJ reported that X voluntarily suspended the remaining identified bot accounts. These X accounts propagated debunked narratives and Kremlin talking points about the war in Ukraine, such as Kremlin claims that parts of Poland, Ukraine, and Lithuania were “gifts” from Russia. The bot farm pushed other narratives in video format such as a video of Russian President Vladimir Putin claiming that the war in Ukraine is not a territorial conflict or a matter of geopolitical balance, but rather about the “principles on which the New World Order will be based.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi issued a joint statement on July 9 about strengthening mutually beneficial political, economic, energy, and military-technical cooperation between Russia and India.
  • Putin has been intensifying efforts to strengthen Russian relations with non-Western countries through individualized appeals, although he is likely emphasizing Russo-Indian cooperation in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and BRICS as part of a wider Russian effort to create an alternative "Eurasian security architecture" leveraging existing Eurasian multilateral organizations.
  • Modi tacitly supported the Kremlin's false narrative that Russia is interested in a peaceful, negotiated resolution to the war in Ukraine, likely in exchange for deepening economic, energy, and technological cooperation with Russia.
  • Putin may have pledged to return Indian volunteers fighting in Ukraine during a private dinner with Modi in Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Oblast on July 8.
  • Some unnamed US government officials appear to believe that Ukraine does not need to liberate its occupied lands and people to win the war, despite Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent clear statements that Russia will not accept a negotiated ceasefire on any terms other than Ukrainian capitulation and will not abandon its goals of the total destruction of the entire Ukrainian state--not just the lands it currently occupies.
  • Several independent investigations, including one conducted by the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU), concluded that a Russian missile struck the Kyiv City Okhmatdyt Children's Hospital on July 8 amid continued official Russian denials and deflections.
  • Ukrainian forces conducted a series of drone strikes against Russian energy and military infrastructure in Belgorod, Kursk, Rostov, Astrakhan, and Volgograd oblasts overnight on July 8 to 9.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin appointed new military prosecutors on July 8, likely in support of ongoing, long-term Russian military reforms.
  • Newly-elected Iranian President Masoud Pezeshkian reiterated Iran's continued willingness to enter a comprehensive strategic partnership with Russia, emphasizing the continuity in Iran's support for Russia even under a new presidential administration.
  • The US Department of Justice (DoJ) released affidavits on July 9 for several hundred X (formerly Twitter) accounts and domain names used by Russian state media and security services to operate a bot farm aimed at spreading disinformation in the US and abroad.
  • Russian forces recently made confirmed advances southeast of Chasiv Yar, near Avdiivka, and southwest of Donetsk City, and Ukrainian forces recently advanced north of Kharkiv City.
  • Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin signed a decree ordering the reestablishment of the Saratov Higher Artillery Command School on July 8, likely as part of ongoing efforts to build out a cadre of Russian officers.
  • Russian authorities continue to deploy Rosgvardia contingents to occupied Ukraine to serve law enforcement functions.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 8, 2024

Click here to read the full report.

Nicole Wolkov, Grace Mappes, Christina Harward, Karolina Hird, and Frederick W. Kagan

July 8, 2024, 6pm ET

Note: The data cut-off for this product was 12:15pm ET on July 8 ISW will cover subsequent reports in the July 9 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.

A Russian Kh-101 cruise missile hit the Okhmatdyt Children's Hospital in central Kyiv during a wider series of missile strikes targeting critical Ukrainian infrastructure throughout the day on July 8. Ukrainian Air Force Commander Lieutenant General Mykola Oleshchuk stated that Russian forces conducted two rounds of combined missile strikes on July 8—first launching four Kh-101 cruise missiles from Saratov Oblast and two Iskander-M ballistic missiles from occupied Crimea and Kursk Oblast overnight on July 7 to 8, and then launching a second wave of missiles, including one Kh-47 Kinzhal aeroballistic missile, four Iskander-M ballistic missiles, one 3M22 Zircon cruise missile, 13 Kh-101 cruise missiles, 14 Kalibr cruise missiles, two Kh-22 cruise missiles, and three Kh-59/69 guided air missiles around 1000 local time on July 8.[1] Ukrainian air defense shot down two Kh-101s in the first wave, and one Kh-47, three Iskanders, 11 Kh-101s, 12 Kalibrs, and three Kh-59/69s during the second wave.[2] Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that Russian forces targeted residential and other civilian infrastructure in Kyiv, Dnipro, Kryvyi Rih, Slovyansk, and Kramatorsk cities.[3]

Footage taken by a bystander in Kyiv City shows the second before a Russian missile struck the Okhmatdyt Children's Hospital—Ukraine's largest pediatric hospital that treats thousands of patients, including cancer cases, daily.[4] The footage clearly shows a single missile flying at a sharp downward trajectory before making contact with the hospital building. Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) conducted a preliminary investigation of the blast site at Okhmatdyt and concluded that Russian forces used a Kh-101 missile to strike the hospital.[5] The Okhmatdyt Children's Hospital published footage showing extensive damage to medical facilities on the premises.[6] Falling debris from Russian missiles also struck the Isida Maternity Hospital in western Kyiv City after the initial strike on the Okhmatdyt hospital, and Russian missile strikes also damaged residential infrastructure elsewhere both in Kyiv and Dnipro cities.[7] The Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs has confirmed 22 deaths and 74 injured in Kyiv City and 11 deaths and 64 injured within Dnipropetrovsk Oblast as of the time of this publication.[8] Zelensky announced that Ukraine is convening an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in response to these Russian strikes.[9] Russia is currently the president of the UNSC.

Russian officials and information space actors are attempting to deflect responsibility for the Okhmatdyt Children's Hospital strike by making false claims about the missiles involved and the state of the hospital — all contrary to available evidence. The Ukrainian Center for Countering Disinformation warned on July 9 that various Russian propaganda sources are amplifying a wide variety of information operations deflecting blame for the strike away from Russia, including false claims that Ukraine was using part or all of the hospital to treat wounded Ukrainian soldiers, that Ukraine was storing missiles at the hospital, and that Ukrainian air defense missiles and not a Russian missile hit the hospital.[10] The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that available footage "clearly confirms" that falling Ukrainian air defense missiles damaged civilian objects within Kyiv City, likely referring to the Okhmatdyt Children's Hospital and not to another medical facility within the city that Ukrainian officials acknowledged was damaged by falling missile debris.[11] Russian sources widely circulated the footage and image of the missile in the second before it hit the Okhmatdyt Children's Hospital, and some milbloggers even published misleading posts falsely claiming that it was a Ukrainian air defense missile and not an attacking Russian Kh-101 missile.[12] The trajectory of the missile in the video and the visible turbojet engine under its hull match the frame of a Russian Kh-101 and do not support claims that it was an air defense interceptor, nor does the missile appear damaged by air defense interceptors.[13] The Ukrainian SBU also reported that the serial numbers of the missile components match those of other Russian Kh-101s launched at Ukraine.[14] Some Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces were attempting to strike the Artem machine building plant roughly 1.6 kilometers north of the Okhmatdyt Children's Hospital, but other Russian missiles actually hit the Artem Plant during the strike.[15]

Many of these false Russian information operations would not absolve Russian forces of legal or moral responsibility for the impacts of their strikes against Ukraine even if true. Russian information operations falsely portraying the Okhmatdyt Children's Hospital as partially or completely a military hospital falsely suggest that such a hospital is inherently a legitimate military target. The Okhmatdyt Children's Hospital is notably not a military hospital—it is the largest multidisciplinary children's hospital in Ukraine and treats up to 18,000 children per year.[16] Article 19 of the Geneva Convention, to which Russia is a signatory, relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War states that the international legal protection to civilian hospitals does not end unless the hospital undertakes "acts harmful to the enemy," and Article 19 explicitly excludes the presence of sick or wounded military personnel as an act "harmful to the enemy."[17] Article 19 also states that the "enemy" must give a warning prior to attacking a hospital allegedly containing a "harmful" military target, and no Russian sources are claiming that Russian authorities issued such a warning, nor have any offered proof that a hospital full of sick children was posing an imminent threat to Russian forces.[18] The Russian MoD's claim that a Ukrainian air defense interceptor hit civilian objects and Russian milblogger claims that a Russian missile accidentally hit the hospital also do not absolve Russian forces of responsibility for these consequences, as Russia is the aggressor state in this war and Ukraine would not have to defend against Russian strikes if Russia had not launched its full-scale invasion of and routine missile strike series against Ukraine.

The July 8 Russian missile strikes likely employed a new and noteworthy tactic to maximize the damage from such strike series. Former Ukrainian Air Forces Spokesperson Colonel Yuriy Ihnat stated following the strikes on July 8 that Russian forces are constantly improving their reconnaissance and strike drone capabilities and the efficacy of both cruise and ballistic missiles, noting that during the July 8 strike Russian cruise missiles flew at "extremely low" altitudes.[19] Ihnat noted that in some cases, Ukrainian air defense forces had to attempt to intercept cruise missiles flying as low as 50 meters above the ground. Ukrainian air defenses have historically had high shoot-down rates for certain types of cruise missiles, particularly the older Kh-101 variety, but Ihnat's suggestion of Russian forces launching cruise missile strikes at such low altitudes indicates that Russian forces may have innovated their tactics and/or technology somewhat to inflict maximum damage on Ukrainian infrastructure by giving Ukrainian air defense practically no time to respond until the missile is already within close range of the ground.[20] Ihnat noted that Russian forces are reducing the electromagnetic signatures of the drones until the last possible moment to prevent their detection by Ukrainian forces, which Ihnat noted means that by the time Ukrainian forces detect the drone, the missile the drone was guiding could already be close to the target point.[21] Russia has consistently adapted the strike packages it uses against Ukraine to take advantage of Ukraine's air defense shortages, and the July 8 strikes represent a new and adapted strike package that Ukraine will need to learn to respond to with requisite levels of Western-provided air defense systems.[22]

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and People's Republic of China (PRC) President Xi Jinping continued to posture themselves as potential mediators to an end to the war in Ukraine during a July 8 meeting in Beijing, despite Russian President Vladimir Putin's rejection of serious negotiations or any third-party mediation. Orban called the PRC a "key power" in creating conditions for peace and stated that Hungary highly appreciates the PRC's peace initiative.[23] Xi stated that the international community should support direct negotiations between Russia and Ukraine and that other unspecified major world powers should employ "positive energy rather than negative energy" to support a ceasefire as soon as possible.[24] Xi also claimed that the PRC and Hungary share the same basic proposals to end the war. Orban and Xi are likely trying to mutually reinforce each other's efforts to portray Hungary and the PRC as neutral mediators despite Orban's consistent efforts to oppose and undermine the European Union's (EU) support for Ukraine and increasing evidence that the PRC is supporting Russia's war effort by providing Russia with dual-use goods and unconfirmed reports of joint PRC–Russian production of loitering munitions.[25] Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky responded to a question at a July 8 press conference about whether Hungary could serve as a mediator to an end to the war and stated that only serious and strong alliances could stop the war and that a foreign country's representative holding bilateral discussions with Putin does not indicate Putin's interest in ending the war.[26] Zelensky also noted that countries with strong economies that influence Russia's economy and countries with militaries that threaten Russia's military - such as the US, the PRC, and the entire EU — could lead international mediation efforts and pressure Russia. Putin rejected Russian participation in possible ceasefire negotiations processes, denied interest in a ceasefire altogether, and demanded Ukrainian capitulation through "demilitarization" and the surrender of significant territory that Russia does not currently occupy on July 4 and 5.[27]

Russian Vice Admiral Sergei Lipilin replaced Vice Admiral Vladimir Vorobyov as Russian Baltic Fleet Commander. The Russian military officially introduced Lipilin as Baltic Fleet Commander at a Russian Navy ceremony in Kronstadt in St. Petersburg on July 8.[28] Lipilin previously served as the Baltic Fleet's Chief of Staff and First Deputy Commander since 2021, and Vorobyov is now Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy.[29]

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) claimed on July 8 that a May 2024 op-ed by an ISW Russia analyst published in the Telegraph was unsubstantiated.[30] The op-ed was a brief presentation of in-depth and well-documented research that ISW has published regarding Russia's occupation of Ukraine and project to destroy Ukrainian statehood via genocidal means.[31] ISW stands by its assessments, including those presented in the Telegraph op-ed.

Key Takeaways:

  • A Russian Kh-101 cruise missile hit the Okhmatdyt Children's Hospital in central Kyiv during a wider series of missile strikes targeting critical Ukrainian infrastructure throughout the day on July 8.
  • Russian officials and information space actors are attempting to deflect responsibility for the Okhmatdyt Children's Hospital strike by making false claims about the missiles involved and the state of the hospital — all contrary to available evidence.
  • The July 8 Russian missile strikes likely employed a new and noteworthy tactic to maximize the damage from such strike series
  • Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and People's Republic of China (PRC) President Xi Jinping continued to posture themselves as potential mediators to an end to the war in Ukraine during a July 8 meeting in Beijing, despite Russian President Vladimir Putin's rejection of serious negotiations or any third-party mediation.
  • Russian Vice Admiral Sergei Lipilin replaced Vice Admiral Vladimir Vorobyov as Russian Baltic Fleet Commander.
  • Ukrainian forces recently regained lost positions in Chasiv Yar, and Russian forces recently advanced near Donetsk City and in western Zaporizhia Oblast.
  • Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin called on July 8 for Russia to increase its domestic production of drones fivefold by 2030.


Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 7, 2024

Click here to read the full report with maps

Christina Harward, Riley Bailey, Nicole Wolkov, Grace Mappes, and George Barros

July 7, 2024, 5:25pm ET 

Ukrainian forces conducted a drone strike against a Russian ammunition depot in Sergeevka, Voronezh Oblast on the night of July 6 to 7.  Ukrainian outlet Suspilne reported that its sources stated that the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) conducted the strike and reported that the ammunition depot contained surface-to-surface missiles, surface-to-air missiles, ammunition for tanks and artillery, and small arms rounds.[1] Geolocated footage published on July 7 taken near Morozovka, Voronezh Oblast (just northeast of Sergeevka along the M2 highway) shows a smoke plume and explosions with visible secondary detonations in the distance.[2] Voronezh Oblast Governor Alexander Gusev claimed on July 7 that Russian air defense systems destroyed several Ukrainian drones over Voronezh Oblast and that drone debris fell on a warehouse in Podgorensky Raion, causing a fire and secondary explosions.[3] NASA Fire Information for Resource Management (FIRMS) data from July 7 detected anomalous heat signatures near Sergeevka.[4]

Satellite imagery confirms that the Ukrainian Air Force conducted a successful strike against a reported Russian regimental command post in Belgorod Oblast in late June 2024, likely with Western-provided weapons – further demonstrating how Ukraine could disrupt Russian offensive operations should the West continue to lift restrictions on Ukraine's use of Western-provided weapons to strike military targets in Russia. The Ukrainian General Staff reported on June 23 that the Ukrainian Air Force struck the command post of an unspecified Russian motorized rifle regiment in Nekhoteevka, Belgorod Oblast on an unspecified date.[5] Geolocated footage of the strike shows that the command post was less than one kilometer from the Russian-Ukrainian border.[6] Satellite imagery collected on April 1 and June 28 shows significant damage to the building that reportedly housed the command post in Nekhoteevka.[7] Ukrainian forces likely used a French-made Armement Air-Sol Modulaire Hammer precision-guided bomb.[8] The command post's location close to the frontline in northern Kharkiv Oblast suggests that it was involved with ongoing Russian offensive operations north of Kharkiv City.[9] The Nekhoteevka strike demonstrates Ukraine's ability to conduct successful strikes on Russian military targets within Russia using Western-provided weapons to degrade Russian forces' ability to conduct offensive operations in Ukraine. ISW continues to assess that Ukraine should be able to use Western-provided weapons, including ATACMS missiles, to strike Russian military targets within Russia's operational rear and deep rear areas to substantially disrupt Russian operations at scale.[10]

Ukrainian drone operators appear to be improving their capabilities to interdict longer-range Russian drones in mid-air, and these technological innovations may allow Ukrainian forces to ease pressures on short-range and medium-range air defense assets if successfully fielded at scale. Footage posted on June 1 shows Ukrainian forces using first-person view (FPV) drones to strike a Russian tactical Zala reconnaissance drone and a medium-range Orlan-10 reconnaissance drone in mid-flight in the Velyka Novosilka area.[11] The Ukrainian Kharkiv Group of Forces posted footage on June 29 showing a Ukrainian FPV drone intercepting a Russian Lancet loitering munition in mid-air in the Kharkiv direction.[12] Both Ukrainian and Russian forces appear to be improving their capability to use FPV drones to intercept other FPV drones at the tactical level, but ISW has yet to observe confirmation of Russian forces using FPV drones to strike Ukrainian loitering munitions or longer-range reconnaissance drones in mid-air.[13] Russian forces leveraged constraints on Ukrainian air defense assets in recent months to more freely operate fixed-wing reconnaissance drones in Ukraine, including in deep Ukrainian rear areas, which likely allowed Russian forces to improve their reconnaissance fire and reconnaissance strike complexes (RFC/RSC).[14] A robust Ukrainian capability to use cheap and widely-available drones to interdict more expensive Russian reconnaissance drones at scale would likely allow Ukrainian forces to degrade Russia's RFC/RSC while conserving expensive and scarce short- and medium-range air defense interceptors for more expensive and significant Russian air targets. ISW has yet to observe Ukrainian forces using FPV drones to strike conventional Russian reconnaissance drones at scale, however. Russian and Ukrainian forces are currently engaged in a technological offense-defense race, and Ukraine's capability to field technological innovations at scale ahead of Russian adaptations is crucial for Ukraine's ability to offset Russia's current materiel advantages.[15]

Chechen "Akhmat" Spetsnaz forces likely coerced a Russian milblogger to issue a public apology after he criticized "Akhmat" forces – an illustrative example of unprofessionalism in the Russian military. An often-critical Russian milblogger claimed on June 5 that "TikTokers" are "standing behind" conscripts in Belgorod Oblast, insinuating that Chechen "Akhmat" forces are not contributing to ongoing Russian offensive operations in the Kharkiv direction.[16] The milblogger later published an apology video on July 7 in which the milblogger is sitting with a soldier from the "Akhmat" Spetsnaz "Aida" Detachment and acknowledged that he was referring to "Akhmat" forces as "TikTokers.[17] The milblogger claimed on July 7 that he met with "Akhmat" Spetsnaz Commander Apty Alaudinov and that Akhmat forces are actually fighting on the frontline in the Kharkiv direction. The milblogger notably pointedly criticized the Russian military command for Russia's lack of progress and significant losses in the Vovchansk direction in the July 5 video but only focused his July 7 apology on his comments about "Akhmat" forces.[18] Russian milbloggers have previously criticized "Akhmat" forces for not contributing to Russian military operations and only visiting frontline areas for propaganda purposes, and Chechen officials have tried to publicly restore "Akhmat's" reputation.[19] The Kremlin has recently undertaken measures that have successfully limited criticisms of the Russian military in the Russian information space, and Alaudinov's immediate involvement in the issue after the milblogger's July 5 video demonstrates the extreme measures that select members of the Russian military command are able to take to suppress critical voices.[20] The "Akhmat" forces' response to the milblogger's video also demonstrates the widespread unprofessionalism that is pervasive throughout the Russian military, since it appears that the "Akhmat" forces took matters affecting their reputations into their own hands.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ukrainian forces conducted a drone strike against a Russian ammunition depot in Sergeevka, Voronezh Oblast on the night of July 6 to 7.
  • Satellite imagery confirms that the Ukrainian Air Force conducted a successful strike against a reported Russian regimental command post in Belgorod Oblast in late June 2024, likely with Western-provided weapons – further demonstrating how Ukraine could disrupt Russian offensive operations should the West continue to lift restrictions on Ukraine's use of Western-provided weapons to strike military targets in Russia.
  • Ukrainian drone operators appear to be improving their capabilities to interdict longer-range Russian drones in mid-air, and these technological innovations may allow Ukrainian forces to ease pressures on short-range and medium-range air defense assets if successfully fielded at scale.
  • Chechen "Akhmat" Spetsnaz forces likely coerced a Russian milblogger to issue a public apology after he criticized "Akhmat" forces – an illustrative example of unprofessionalism in the Russian military.
  • Russian forces recently made confirmed advances near Chasiv Yar and Toretsk, and Ukrainian forces recently advanced north of Kharkiv City.
  • Open-source researchers analyzed satellite imagery and assessed that Russia has removed roughly 42 percent of Russian tanks from pre-war open-air storage since the start of the full-scale invasion.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 6, 2024

Click here to read the full report with maps

Grace Mappes, Angelica Evans, Christina Harward, Riley Bailey, and Frederick W. Kagan

July 6, 2024, 4:20pm ET 

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban continues to posture himself as a potential mediator to end the war in Ukraine despite Russian President Vladimir Putin's rejection of mediation or serious negotiations. Orban is likely aiming to shift Western focus towards possible peace negotiations as part of his overarching effort to undermine European support for Ukraine. Orban published an op-ed in Newsweek on July 5 in which Orban accused NATO of choosing conflict over peace and stated that NATO was established to maintain peace.[1] Orban's op-ed follows his visits to Kyiv on July 2 and Moscow on July 5 to advocate for Russia and Ukraine to start negotiations.[2] Orban's efforts to push for negotiations are likely part of his ongoing effort to shift European focus to discussions about peace negotiations and away from discussions about military support for Ukraine. Orban has consistently opposed and undermined the European Union (EU)'s efforts to provide military assistance to Ukraine, and shifting Europe's focus away from military assistance supports this broader aim now that Hungary has assumed the EU Council presidency.[3] Bulgarian Prime Minister Dimitar Glavchev offered on July 5 for Bulgaria to mediate peace negotiations between Ukraine and Russia and emphasized that negotiations must comply with the UN charter and international law.[4] Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan similarly pushed for Ukraine to widen and accelerate Ukraine's ongoing peace process on July 6 to prevent "deepening polarization" and "prioritize diplomacy."[5]

Orban's and others' calls for negotiations and Ukraine's peace formula are distinct efforts with different aims, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has demonstrated that he is not interested in any negotiated agreements short of Ukraine's capitulation. Putin rejected Russian participation in possible ceasefire negotiations processes and denied interest in a ceasefire altogether on July 4 and 5.[6] Putin instead demanded Ukrainian capitulation through "demilitarization" and the surrender of significant territory that Russia does not currently occupy — all following months of attempts to portray Russia as willing to negotiate but falsely painting Ukrainian officials as either unwilling or unable to negotiate.[7] Ukraine recently concluded the first of multiple summits with its partners to establish conditions for possible future negotiations that would result in an enduring peace on terms acceptable to Ukraine and its supporters, and dozens of partner states and international organizations, including Hungary, Turkey, and Bulgaria, signed a Joint Peace Communique affirming their support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity on June 16.[8] Ukraine's ability to pursue its own peace process is contingent on its ability to liberate operationally-significant territory. Ukraine cannot undertake successful counteroffensive efforts in support of this aim without Western military support in the near- and medium-terms.

Ukrainian forces struck energy infrastructure in Krasnodar Krai with drones on the night of July 5 to 6. The Krasnodar Krai Operational Headquarters stated that Russian forces shot down Ukrainian drones near Leningradskaya, Yeysk and Pavlovskaya, Krasnodar Krai on the night of July 5 to 6 and that falling drone debris damaged a cell phone tower in Yeysk and caused a fire at an oil depot in Pavlovskaya.[9] The Krasnodar Krai Operational Headquarters also stated that Ukrainian drones struck a fuel tank in Leningradskaya, Krasnodar Krai. Russian opposition outlet Astra posted footage on July 6 of fires at fuel tanks in Leningradskaya and the Lukoil oil depot in Pavlovskaya.[10]

Iran announced on July 6 that Iran and Russia signed a bank agreement on July 4 enabling Russia and Iran to trade in the Russian ruble and Iranian rial.[11] Iranian Central Bank Head Mohammadreza Farzin announced that he and Russian Central Bank Head Elvira Nabiullina also signed a memorandum of understanding on unspecified joint measures for both banks.

The Russian government continues efforts to isolate the Russian people from material it considers antithetical to state interests and ideology. Russian federal censor Rozkomnadzor announced on July 4 that it recently blocked Russians from accessing 25 mobile virtual private network (VPN) services.[12] Russian outlet RBK reported on July 4 that it obtained a letter from the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) demanding that Russian telecom operators prohibit clients from using foreign- and domestic-based Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) accounts, which allow clients to make phone calls via an Internet connection instead of a traditional phone line and are more difficult to trace.[13] The FSB alleged that the VoIP prohibition will help reduce fraud.[14] Rozkomnadzor announced in April 2024 that it began blocking 150 popular VPN services and restricting access to websites and social media posts that advertise VPNs as of March 1, 2024.[15] Russian State Duma Committee on Information Policy, Information Technology, and Communication Deputy Chairperson Oleg Matveychev stated in October 2023 that Rozkomnadzor is maintaining a list of VPNs that "comply" with existing Russian legislation and will continue to operate in Russia while Rozkomnadzor will block VPNs that "violate Russian laws."[16] Kremlin-sponsored outlet Izvestia clarified in March 2024 that Rozkomnadzor considers any VPN services that allow Russians to access prohibited content and resources as violating Russian law and eligible to be blocked.[17]

The Russian Ministries of Education, Higher Education, Science, and Culture have approved a plan to develop criteria for an annual review of works of literature, art, media, or other materials to determine if a work uses an "excessive" amount of foreign vocabulary.[18] The order claims that developing the criteria is part of the Russian government's efforts to protect Russia against "external destructive information, psychological influence, ... and activities aimed at destroying [Russia's] traditional values." The Kremlin's efforts to ban VPNs and identify works that employ "excessive use of foreign vocabulary" are part of ongoing efforts to consolidate control over the Russian information space and promote further Russian nationalist values domestically.

Key Takeaways:

  • Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban continues to posture himself as a potential mediator to end the war in Ukraine despite Putin's rejection of mediation or serious negotiations. Orban is likely aiming to shift Western focus towards possible peace negotiations as part of his overarching effort to undermine European support for Ukraine.
  • Orban's and others' calls for negotiations and Ukraine's peace formula, are distinct efforts with different aims, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has demonstrated he is not interested in any negotiated agreements short of Ukraine's capitulation.
  • Ukrainian forces struck energy infrastructure in Krasnodar Krai with drones on the night of July 5 to 6.
  • Iran announced on July 6 that Iran and Russia signed a bank agreement on July 4 enabling Russia and Iran to trade in the Russian ruble and Iranian rial.
  • The Russian government continues efforts to isolate the Russian people from material it considers antithetical to state interests and ideology.
  • Russian forces recently advanced near Kupyansk, Siversk, and Avdiivka.
  • Russian federal subjects (regions) continue to increase monetary incentives to recruit contract soldiers (kontraktniki).

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 5, 2024

Click here to read the full report with maps

Riley Bailey, Grace Mappes, Angelica Evans, Christina Harward, and Frederick W. Kagan

July 5, 2024, 7:20pm ET

Russian President Vladimir Putin used a meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on July 5 to oppose a negotiated ceasefire altogether and expressed his commitment to pursuing a "final" end to the war that would achieve his goal of destroying Ukrainian statehood. Putin met with Orban in Moscow and reportedly discussed Ukraine and the possibility of a negotiated ceasefire agreement.[1] Putin explicitly rejected Russian participation in any meaningful negotiations on a ceasefire agreement on July 4 in a departure from his usual feigned interest in negotiations, and Putin notably outright rejected any negotiated ceasefire in a press conference with Orban on July 5.[2] Putin stated that an agreement between Russia and Ukraine should not result in a temporary ceasefire since this would allow Ukraine to regroup and rearm and that Russia instead favors a "complete" and "final" end to the conflict.[3] Putin is currently unwilling to accept anything short of the destruction of Ukrainian statehood and identity, however, as his remarks and demands have consistently illustrated.[4]

Putin is demanding both the surrender of a significant portion of Ukraine's territory and people to Russian occupation and Ukrainian military capitulation in advance of any negotiations on an end-state to the war. Putin called for the complete Ukrainian withdrawal from "Donbas and Novorossiya" as a prerequisite for ending the war during his press conference with Orban — a reference to Putin's June 14 demand for Ukraine to recognize the Russian occupation of occupied Kherson, Zaporizhia, Donetsk, and Luhansk oblasts and for Ukraine to surrender all territory that Russia does not currently hold in the four oblasts.[5] The imagined borders of "Novorossiya" are disputed among Russian ultranationalists, however, and Putin and the Kremlin have routinely indicated that they hold aims of territorial conquest beyond the administrative boundaries of the four oblasts that Russia has illegally annexed.[6] Putin also invoked concerns on July 4 about Ukrainian military reconstitution and expansion during a potential ceasefire to call for Ukraine's "irreversible" "demilitarization" as a prerequisite to negotiations.[7] Putin has long called for Ukraine's "demilitarization" — a demand that Ukraine abandon its ability to resist Russian aggression so that Putin can freely impose his will upon Ukraine.[8] Putin would almost certainly use Ukraine's capitulation to achieve his other goal of deposing Ukraine's democratically elected government and replacing it with a pro-Russian government and a political system to his liking.

Ukrainian counteroffensive operations that liberate operationally significant territory remain the soundest course of action for degrading Putin's confidence in and commitment to his desired end state for his war of aggression against Ukraine. Putin's rejection of any ceasefire indicates that he is increasingly confident in his assessment that Russia can pursue victory by continuing creeping advances in Ukraine, outlasting Western support for Ukraine, and winning a war of attrition against Ukrainian forces.[9] Putin's demands, achieved through either Ukraine's capitulation or the protracted war he assesses Russian forces can successfully wage, are not consistent with the survival of an independent Ukrainian state or the Ukrainian people, nor are they compatible with NATO's vital security interests. Putin's confidence in Russia's ability to encourage capitulation or win a protracted war of attrition is based on the assessment that Ukraine will not be able to conduct operationally significant counteroffensive operations.[10] The West must hasten to provide Ukraine the support it needs to conduct counteroffensive operations to invalidate Putin's calculus and avoid protracting the war more than necessary to secure a peace acceptable to Ukraine and its partners.[11]

Putin's rejection of any ceasefire agreement contradicts the Kremlin's previous effort to place the onus for negotiations on the West and Ukraine. Putin blamed the West and Ukraine for the lack of negotiations while explicitly rejecting future Russian participation in any meaningful ceasefire negotiations during his July 4 press conference at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a stark contradiction in his rhetoric.[12] Putin also dismissed the possibility that any international body or head of state could mediate a ceasefire agreement between Russia and Ukraine, despite previously presenting China and various Western leaders as possible actors that Russia could negotiate with. Russian opposition outlet Meduza reported on July 5 that it obtained a Kremlin manual ordering pro-Kremlin and Russian state media to highlight Putin's July 4 statements blaming the West and Ukraine for impeding peace negotiations with "ultimatums" and framing Russia as a willing, good-faith negotiator.[13] The manual recommends that Russian state media should present Putin's demands for Ukrainian capitulation as logical and realistic and Ukraine and the West as untrustworthy and deceptive. Putin's statements during his July 4 press conference and July 5 meetings will likely complicate the apparent ongoing Kremlin effort to convince select audiences that Russia remains interested in negotiations.[14]

Putin attempted to portray Orban as an EU representative who can speak on the EU's behalf – a claim that EU officials explicitly denied. Putin stated before his talks with Orban that he understands that Orban visited Russia "not only as [Russia's] long-standing partner, but also as the presiding officer of the EU Council."[15] Putin stated that he hoped Orban would speak to the position of Orban's "European partners" during their discussion. Orban stated that he would like to discuss Russia's position on issues that are "important to Europe" and claimed that Hungary will likely soon become the only state in Europe that can speak to all parties of the war in Ukraine. The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) stated that Orban visited Russia without agreeing or coordinating with Ukraine and emphasized that there can be no agreements on Ukraine without Ukraine.[16] EU High Commissioner Josep Borrell and European Council President Charles Michel both explicitly stated that the EU Council presidency does not give Orban a mandate to visit Russia and that Orban is not acting on behalf of the EU.[17] Borrell stated that Orban's visit to Russia is "exclusively" within the framework of Hungarian-Russian bilateral relations and noted that the EU excludes official contacts between the EU and Putin.[18] NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also stated that Orban is representing Hungary, not NATO.[19] Putin has repeatedly portrayed the West as his envisioned negotiating partner in a ceasefire agreement but notably dismissed all intermediary parties as possible mediators for an agreement between Ukraine and Russia on July 4.[20] Putin's attempts to portray Orban as a legitimate representative of the EU who possesses the authority to speak about possible negotiations on July 5 directly contradicts Putin's July 4 claims that intermediaries lack the competency and authority to mediate an end to the war.[21]

Recent Russian domestic polls suggest that Kremlin information operations are influencing domestic Russian support of the war in Ukraine. Independent Russian polling organization Levada Center published the results of a June 2024 poll on July 4 indicating that 58 percent of respondents believe that Russia should either definitely start peace negotiations with Ukraine in the near term or should start negotiations sooner rather than later, an all-time high since the start of the war but only a marginal increase since Levada's most recent polling in May 2024.[22] Levada Center noted that Russian support for negotiations previously peaked at 57 percent each in October 2022 and November 2023 and that support for negotiations had hovered between 48 and 53 percent since January 2024. Senior Kremlin officials have largely perpetuated information operations aimed at portraying Russia as willing to negotiate with Ukraine but only on Russian terms that amount to Ukraine's complete capitulation and destruction.[23] Levada noted that 41 percent of Russians believe that Russia is more interested in negotiations than Ukraine; that this number has been relatively consistent since 2023; and that these respondents largely believe that Russia is "going in the right direction," approve of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and trust information about the war from television media (as opposed to information from the internet).

Prominent Kremlin information operations justifying the war in Ukraine have impacted domestic support for the war. Levada reported that two-thirds of respondents blame the US and NATO for the war in Ukraine and the resulting casualties, that this number has increased from around 53 percent since June 2023, and that half of these respondents believe that the war in Ukraine could escalate into a direct confrontation between Russia and NATO.[24] Levada noted that Russians remain concerned about the war; 95 percent of respondents expressed at least some concern about Ukrainian shelling of border areas and strikes against rear areas and about 86 percent of respondents are concerned about the "use of nuclear weapons" (actor unspecified) and the Western supply of weapons to Ukraine. Levada noted that 34 percent of Russians believe that the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine "could be justified" but that over half of respondents remain directly opposed.

These Russian polls indicate that Russians who criticize the conduct of the war in Ukraine still support the war due to patriotism and disenfranchisement. Russian sociological organization Public Sociological Laboratory (PS Lab) told opposition outlet Verstka in an article published on July 5 that "non-opponents" to the war are increasingly criticizing the war in Ukraine but still believe that Russia should continue the war and will not say that the war is a mistake.[25] PS Lab defines "non-opponents" as those supporting, justifying, or distancing themselves from the war and that most justify the war but are not "convinced supporters." PS Lab stated that most "non-opponents" share three attributes: they are apolitical and have a "detachment" from power, they possess serious and specific complaints about the government, and they cite patriotism for both their war justifications and their war criticisms. PS Lab noted that these "non-opponents" believe that they cannot influence the Russian government yet also feel more connected to the Russian government and identity than before the war, indicating that Kremlin propaganda is successfully establishing a degree of domestic unity that "non-opponents" value more than protesting against the Kremlin over their discontent about the war's conduct. Levada reported that the percentage of Russians who are proud of Russia's military actions in Ukraine rose to 48 percent, up from 45 percent in November 2023 and 38 percent from September 2023 – but still below the 51 percent peak following the onset of the war in February and March 2022.[26] Russian propaganda has created a layer of patriotism that likely acts as a buffer between complaints about the conduct of the war and the government that the Kremlin can endure and meaningful opposition that the Kremlin is unwilling or unable to tolerate.

PL Lab told Verstka that the percentage of actual "non-opponents" within Russia is difficult to estimate, but Verstka suggested several indicators that this percentage could range between 30 and 50 percent. Verstka noted that about 49 percent of respondents in a March 2024 Levada poll named human casualties as a possible reason for stopping the war in Ukraine and an increase in the number of respondents who avoid assessing the war.[27] Levada's June 2024 poll reported that 31 percent of respondents follow the war but do not pay close attention whereas 19 percent closely follow the war.[28]

Many of Russia's "non-opponents" of the war have criticisms that parallel those of Russian ultranationalist milbloggers, yet they lack the ultranationalists' close attention to the war and desire for political change in support of Russian war aims. PS Labs told Verstka that surveyed "non-opponents" spoke about conversations with family members fighting in Ukraine who complained that Russian television lies about the real situation on the frontlines – echoing a longstanding Russian milblogger criticism that Russian state media frequently portrays the situation on the front as better than it is.[29] The "non-opponent" belief that they cannot influence the government and their inattention to the details of the war is a stark departure from the Russian ultranationalist voices, many of whom believe they can influence policy and have advocated for the better treatment of Russian military personnel, better conduct of the war in Ukraine, and even attempted political campaigns aimed at prompting change to these ends.[30]

Ukrainian forces conducted successful drone and missile strikes against targets in Tambov and Rostov oblasts and Krasnodar Krai on July 4 and 5. Ukrainian media reported that sources within Ukrainian intelligence stated that Ukraine's Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) conducted a successful drone strike against a gunpowder plant in Kotovsk, Tambov Oblast on July 4 and that the GUR is clarifying the consequences of the strike.[31] Russian opposition media outlet SOTA posted footage claiming to show the Ukrainian drone strike against the Tambov gunpowder plant.[32] GUR Spokesperson Andriy Yusov declined to comment on the reported strike on July 5 but stated that this gunpowder plant is a key Russian military enterprise and suggested that Russia will struggle to restart operations at the plant.[33]

Footage published on July 4 and 5 shows that a Ukrainian drone struck the Novoshakhtinsky oil refinery's (NZNP) "Rostovskyi" oil depot in Rostov-on-Don and caused a subsequent explosion and fire at the depot on the night of July 4 to 5.[34] Rostov Oblast Governor Vasily Golubev stated that Russian air defenses destroyed 10 drones over Rostov Oblast and that debris from Ukrainian drones caused fires in Rostov Oblast.[35] NZNP is reportedly the largest supplier of petroleum products in southern Russia, and it is highly likely that the Russian Southern Military District (SMD) (which is based in Rostov-on-Don) uses products from the Rostovskyi oil depot.[36]

Sources within Krasnodar Krai emergency services told Russian opposition outlet Astra that several Ukrainian drones and at least two unspecified missiles struck Russia's Primorsko-Akhtarsk air base in Krasnodar Krai on the night of July 4 to 5 and damaged a nearby substation, disrupting power to nearby residential areas.[37] Astra stated that the strike wounded a Russian servicemember and noted that the Russian 960th Guards Attack Aviation Regiment (1st Guards Mixed Aviation Division, 4th Guards Air Force and Air Defense Army) is stationed at the airbase and is typically armed with Su-25, Su-25UB, and Su-25SM3 attack aircraft. Ukrainian officials have not commented on the Krasnodar Krai strike as of this report, and the damage to the airfield is currently unclear. The Russian Investigative Committee has reportedly opened a criminal investigation into the Krasnodar Krai strike on charges of terrorism.[38]

Key Takeaways:

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin used a meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on July 5 to oppose a negotiated ceasefire altogether and expressed his commitment to pursuing a "final" end to the war that would achieve his goal of destroying Ukrainian statehood.
  • Putin is demanding both the surrender of a significant portion of Ukraine's territory and people to Russian occupation and Ukrainian military capitulation in advance of any negotiations on an end-state to the war.
  • Ukrainian counteroffensive operations that liberate operationally significant territory remain the soundest course of action for degrading Putin's confidence in and commitment to his desired end state for his war of aggression against Ukraine.
  • Putin's rejection of any ceasefire agreement contradicts the Kremlin's previous effort to place the onus for negotiations on the West and Ukraine.
  • Putin attempted to portray Orban as an EU representative who can speak on the EU's behalf – a claim that EU officials explicitly denied.
  • Recent Russian domestic polls suggest that Kremlin information operations are influencing domestic Russian support of the war in Ukraine.
  • These Russian polls indicate that Russians who criticize the conduct of the war in Ukraine still support the war due to patriotism and disenfranchisement.
  • Many of Russia's "non-opponents" to the war have criticisms that parallel those of Russian ultranationalist milbloggers, yet they lack the ultranationalists' close attention to the war and desire for political change in support of Russian war aims.
  • Ukrainian forces conducted successful drone and missile strikes against targets in Tambov and Rostov oblasts and Krasnodar Krai on July 4 and 5.
  • Russian forces recently advanced near Vovchansk, Toretsk, and Donetsk City.
  • Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) officials continue to portray themselves as providing adequate medical care and other support for Russian soldiers who fought in Ukraine amid ongoing criticisms that the Russian military command sends injured soldiers to fight on the frontline.

 

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 4, 2024

Click here to read the full report

Angelica Evans, Riley Bailey, Nicole Wolkov, Karolina Hird, and Frederick W. Kagan

July 4, 2024, 5:45pm ET

Note: The data cut-off for this product was 12:30pm ET on July 4. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the July 5 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.

Russian President Vladimir Putin explicitly rejected Russian participation in any meaningful negotiations on a ceasefire agreement, instead demanding Ukraine's "irreversible" "demilitarization" as a precondition for any ceasefire agreement. Putin is thus demanding that Ukraine effectively surrender in advance of any ceasefire. Putin commented on the prospects of a negotiated ceasefire in Ukraine at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, on July 4, but instead of offering his typical feigned interest in such negotiations he outright rejected any ceasefire negotiation process.[1] Putin has repeatedly portrayed the West as his envisioned negotiating partner in a ceasefire agreement in order to prompt Western concessions on Ukrainian sovereignty, but Putin notably dismissed all intermediary parties as possible mediators for an agreement between Ukraine and Russia.[2] Putin also dismissed the Verkhovna Rada as a possible point of contact for negotiations despite previously claiming that the body was the only legitimate Ukrainian entity that Russia could negotiate with.[3] Putin has now labeled all Ukrainian governing institutions illegitimate or unsuitable for negotiations and has dismissed the idea of third parties participating in negotiations — de facto rejecting any realistic process for meaningfully negotiating a ceasefire agreement.[4]

Putin instead highlighted his demand for Ukraine's "demilitarization" as a primary prerequisite for any ceasefire agreement, demanding that Ukraine agree to "demilitarization" measures that would be irreversible.[5] Putin argued that Russia cannot allow the Ukrainian military to take advantage of a ceasefire to reconstitute its forces.[6] Putin notably did not address the near-certainty that Russian forces would take advantage of a potential ceasefire in exactly such a way, and ISW continues to assess that Russia would use the respite of a ceasefire to reconstitute and expand its forces and to further mobilize its defense industrial base (DIB) for future aggression aiming to destroy the Ukrainian state.[7] Putin's rejection of any ceasefire agreement short of Ukrainian capitulation further illustrates that he is confident in his assessment that Russia can pursue victory by continuing creeping advances in Ukraine, outlasting Western support for Ukraine, and winning a war of attrition against Ukrainian forces.[8]

Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officers reportedly detained the commander of the Russian 83rd Guards Airborne Assault (VDV) Brigade, Colonel Artyom Gorodilov, on fraud charges on July 3 following reports of the brigade suffering heavy losses in the Kharkiv direction in June 2024.[9] Kremlin-affiliated business outlet Kommersant stated that FSB military counterintelligence officers detained Gorodilov in Ryazan Oblast on a charge of especially large-scale fraud and transported Gorodilov to the Russian Investigative Committee's headquarters in Moscow.[10] Russian media reported that Gorodilov denied the charge and stated that he will seek acquittal in the future, and that the Russian 235th Garrison Military Court sent Gorodilov to a pre-trial detention center.[11] Gorodilov reportedly served as commander of the Russian 234th Guards VDV Regiment (76th VDV Division) from 2019 until an unspecified recent date, and Russian media first introduced Gorodilov as commander of the 83rd VDV Brigade in May 2024.[12] The New York Times reported in December 2022 that elements of the 234th VDV Regiment under Gorodilov's leadership committed massacres of Ukrainian civilians in Bucha, Kyiv Oblast in March 2022.[13] If Gorodilov was indeed the commander of the 83rd VDV Brigade at the time of his arrest, then the Russian high command gave him increased responsibilities as commander of a separate brigade rather than of a regiment subordinated to a division between Russian atrocities in Bucha and the Russian Kharkiv Oblast offensive. Ukrainian officials recently reported that the Russian military command attempted to withdraw elements of the 83rd VDV Brigade from the Kharkiv direction after suffering significant losses that rendered the elements[14]

Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian military command may be punishing Gorodilov for what Putin perceives as gross incompetence that failed to achieve its military objectives while causing the deaths of a significant number of "elite" Russian servicemembers in the Kharkiv direction, as Russian VDV troops were widely considered elite prior to Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine and the Russian military command may still consider them to be elite.[15] Russian authorities have recently arrested a series of Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) officials and high-ranking military officers on criminal charges seemingly unrelated to their positions, including recently announcing charges of forgery and high treason against former 58th Combined Arms Army (CAA) Commander Major General  Ivan Popov.[16] Putin appears to be willing to accept low levels of incompetence in exchange for loyalty but continues to levy seemingly unrelated criminal charges against Russian officials who transgress beyond acceptable levels of incompetence and insubordination.

Russian President Vladimir Putin supported the Shanghai Cooperation Organization's (SCO) efforts to expand its presence in Central Asia and will likely use an increased SCO presence as one of its levers to expand Russian influence in the region. Putin commended on July 4 the SCO's development of its Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure and the official establishment of the SCO Anti-Drug Center in Dushanbe — an initiative that Tajik President Emomali Rahmon had proposed in 2019.[17] SCO General Secretary Zhang Ming stated that Central Asia is the "core" of the SCO and that peace and prosperity in Central Asia is closely linked to the SCO's stability and development.[18] Putin also stated his support for reviving the SCO-Afghanistan contact group and noted that Russia has received signals from the Taliban that it may be ready to help Russia combat terrorism.[19]

The US Department of Defense (DoD) announced the purchase of $2.2 billion worth of US-produced air defense interceptors and an aid package worth $150 million for Ukraine on July 3.[20] The DoD stated that it will purchase $2.2 billion worth of recently produced PATRIOT and NASAMS air defense missiles for Ukraine to help protect the Ukrainian people and Ukraine's critical infrastructure from Russian drone and missile strikes. The DoD has yet to announce that it is sending these air defense missiles to Ukraine. The DoD stated that it is also provided an aid package worth $150 million from the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA), which includes: HAWK air defense missiles; HIMARS ammunition; 155mm and 105mm artillery shells; 81mm mortar rounds; Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked, Wire-Guided (TOW) missiles; Javelin and AT-4 anti-armor systems; small arms ammunition and grenades; demolition equipment and munitions; tactical vehicles and air navigation systems; and space parts, maintenance, and other equipment. The DoD noted that the PDA package is the Biden Administration's 60th tranche of equipment provided to Ukraine since August 2021.

Key Takeaways:

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin explicitly rejected Russian participation in any meaningful negotiations on a ceasefire agreement, instead demanding Ukraine's "irreversible" "demilitarization" as a precondition for any ceasefire agreement. Putin is thus demanding that Ukraine effectively surrender in advance of any ceasefire.
  • Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officers reportedly detained the commander of the Russian 83rd Guards Airborne Assault (VDV) Brigade, Colonel Artyom Gorodilov, on fraud charges on July 3 following reports of the brigade suffering heavy losses in the Kharkiv direction in June 2024.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin supported the Shanghai Cooperation Organization's (SCO) efforts to expand its presence in Central Asia and will likely use an increased SCO presence as one of its levers to expand Russian influence in the region.
  • The US Department of Defense (DoD) announced the purchase of $2.2 billion worth of US-produced air defense interceptors and an aid package worth $150 million for Ukraine on July 3.
  • Russian forces recently advanced near Kreminna, Avdiivka, and Donetsk City.
  • Russian Security Council Deputy Chairperson Dmitry Medvedev claimed on July 4 that around 190,000 Russians signed military service contracts during the first six months of 2024 during a Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) meeting about staffing the Russian military with contract soldiers.

 

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 3, 2024

Click here to read the full report

Riley Bailey, Grace Mappes, Karolina Hird, Nicole Wolkov, and George Barros

July 3, 2024, 6:30pm ET 

Ukraine is addressing its manpower challenges and is forming several new brigades, but delayed and insufficient Western weapons deliveries will likely prevent Ukraine from equipping all these new brigades. Timely and appropriate Western security assistance continues to be a crucial determinant of when and at what scale Ukrainian forces can contest the battlefield initiative and conduct operationally significant counteroffensive operations in the future. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated in an interview with Bloomberg published on July 3 that Ukrainian forces are better positioned in terms of manpower than they were a few months ago and that Ukraine's ability to conduct a future counteroffensive operation depends on equipping brigades with heavy equipment, such as mechanized fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers, tanks, and heavy artillery (likely referencing at least 10 planned new Ukrainian brigades.)[1] The commander of a Ukrainian brigade operating near Chasiv Yar provided a similar assessment at the tactical level on July 3, stating that Ukrainian forces in his area of operations are more in need of ammunition than manpower.[2] Zelensky stated that military equipment is taking too long to arrive at the front, however, echoing his comments from early June 2024 about how the slow arrival of US security assistance was complicating Ukrainian efforts to equip reserve brigades sufficiently to commit them to defensive operations.[3] Ukrainian media has routinely highlighted in recent months the lack of sufficient materiel for equipping all the new Ukrainian brigades currently being formed, and current reporting suggests that Ukraine will not be able to fully equip all their upcoming brigades without the arrival of additional Western security assistance.[4] The months-long delay of Western security assistance exacerbated challenges with Ukraine’s force mobilization efforts.[5]

Ukraine's ability to conduct operationally significant counteroffensive operations at the time of its choosing is crucial to avoid protracting the war. Russian President Vladimir Putin's theory of victory that Russia will be able to make creeping advances in Ukraine indefinitely is likely incentivizing Putin to protract the war and hardening his commitment to destroying Ukrainian statehood, and Putin is unlikely to change his calculus without Ukraine inflicting further significant defeats on Russian forces.[6] Ukraine does not have the time and flexibility to wait for Western security assistance to equip new units. Russian forces are likely currently attempting to leverage the theater-wide initiative to try to force Ukraine to commit manpower and materiel to current defensive operations and to prevent Ukraine from accumulating the decisive personnel and resources it needs to contest the initiative.[7] The longer Ukraine must wait to equip and deploy new brigades the more opportunities Russian forces will have to disrupt Ukrainian efforts to concentrate new uncommitted combat power for future counteroffensive operations. Western security assistance that allows Ukrainian forces to equip new units will ease these pressures, and more certainty in what forces will be available will permit Ukraine to start concretely planning future counteroffensive operations. Western security assistance that provides Ukrainian forces with the necessary equipment and weapons at the scale, timing, and regularity required for operations that liberate significant swaths of occupied Ukraine remains the only likely path for reducing Putin's current commitment to destroying Ukrainian statehood and identity.[8]

Russian President Vladimir Putin is leveraging existing Eurasian-focused and Russian-led international organizations as the cornerstone for his new proposed alternative "Eurasian security architecture." Russian Defense Minister Andrey Belousov stated during the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Defense Ministers' meeting on July 3 that Putin's recently-announced “Eurasian security structure” will cover "all spheres of activity" and is "open to all Eurasian countries without exception."[9] Belousov emphasized the importance of the Russian-Belarusian Union State, Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), CIS, and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in the creation of this new Eurasian security architecture.[10] Putin previously emphasized on June 21 that Russia wants to discuss Eurasian security issues with these international organizations and BRICS.[11]

Putin held bilateral meetings with the heads of various SCO member states, observers, and dialogue partners on the sidelines of the SCO summit on July 3, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, People's Republic of China (PRC) President Xi Jinping, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Mongolian President Ukhnaagiin Khürelsükh, and Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.[12] The Kremlin readouts for each meeting were largely boilerplate and emphasized a long history of friendly relations, strong trade, and growing energy cooperation — all portraying Russia as part of a network of friendly economic partners within Eurasia despite Western sanctions. Putin has been attempting to create a coalition of states friendly to act as an alternative to the West and undermine NATO and has recently pursued the PRC, North Korea, Vietnam, and Venezuela in support of this coalition, and is especially seeking to persuade and portray the PRC as invested in this Eurasian security architecture.[13] Senior Russian officials including Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov celebrated the July 3 Putin-Xi meeting as having gone "excellently" and with "complete mutual understanding," while Xi reiterated ongoing Kremlin information operations aimed at undermining the Ukrainian peace formula.[14] Putin and Khürelsükh discussed further developing rail infrastructure between Russia and Mongolia, and the Kremlin's readout of the meeting emphasized that these rail lines would increase logistics between Russia and the PRC through Mongolia and enable trilateral trade, while the official Mongolian readout did not include this emphasis.[15]

Ukraine conducted a naval drone strike against Russian naval infrastructure in Novorossiysk, Krasnodar Krai on the night July 3 and reportedly damaged energy infrastructure during an aerial drone strike on Belgorod Oblast on the night of July 1. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that Russian Black Sea Fleet (BSF) forces destroyed three Ukrainian naval drones en route to Novorossiysk, and the Russian MoD and Russian milbloggers later amplified footage reportedly showing BSF elements repelling naval drones that were reportedly targeting the Russian naval base in Novorossiysk.[16] Novorossiysk Mayor Andrey Kravchenko confirmed the attack and announced the closure of beaches.[17] Ukrainian Naval Spokesperson Captain Third Rank Dmytro Pletenchuk noted on July 3 that the Ukrainian Navy is not yet ready to confirm details of the attack, however. ISW has not yet observed visual evidence of the attack damaging Russian naval targets.[18]

Ukrainian outlet Suspilne, citing sources within the Ukrainian special forces, reported on June 3 that a June 1 Ukrainian drone strike "seriously damaged" the Oskol Electrometallurgical Plant (OEMK) in Belgorod Oblast.[19] Suspilne stated that Ukrainian loitering munitions targeted two OEMK electrical substations—the Stary Oskol Substation near Neznamovo and the Metalurgiyna Substation near Volokonovka— causing the entire OMEK to lose power.[20] Suspilne noted that the OMEK is the only full-cycle metallurgical enterprise in Russia, so an outage could severely impact metallurgical outputs.[21] Russian sources noted electricity outages near Stary Oskol on July 1, apparently as a result of the Ukrainian strike.[22]

Unspecified People's Republic of China (PRC) and Russian companies are reportedly working together to develop a drone similar to the Iranian-designed Shahed loitering munition for Russia to use in Ukraine. Two unspecified European officials told Bloomberg in a July 2 article that unspecified Russian and PRC companies held talks in 2023 about collaborating to "replicate" Shahed drones and started developing and testing a prototype in 2024.[23] The officials stated the companies are preparing to ship the drones to Russia but that Russian forces have yet to use the drones against Ukraine. Bloomberg reported that, according to another official familiar with the matter, the United States assesses that the PRC is not currently providing lethal aid to Russia but is sending kits to Russia that Russia can convert into attack drones, while continuing to consider whether to send fully built drones to Russia. ISW cannot independently verify any of these reported officials' statements. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated in an interview with Bloomberg published on July 3 that Ukraine does not have evidence that the PRC is providing Russia with weapons but noted that Russia has acquired dual-use goods from the PRC. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated on May 1 that the PRC's export of dual-use goods to Russia have helped Russia significantly increase its defense production and that Russia is acquiring 70 percent of its machine tools and 90 percent of its microelectronics from the PRC.[24] The provision of jointly PRC- and Russian-made loitering munitions to Russia to use in Ukraine would be a significant inflection in PRC-Russian relations and would suggest that Russian President Vladimir Putin had secured a notable concession from PRC President Xi Jinping given that ISW continues to assess that the PRC is attempting to portray itself as a neutral mediator and retains the upper hand in PRC-Russian relations.[25]

Key Takeaways:

  • Ukraine is addressing its manpower challenges and is forming several new brigades, but delayed and insufficient Western weapons deliveries will likely prevent Ukraine from equipping all these new brigades. Timely and appropriate Western security assistance continues to be crucial determinant of when and at what scale Ukrainian forces can contest the battlefield initiative and conduct operationally significant counteroffensive operations in the future.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin is leveraging existing Eurasian-focused and Russian-led international organizations as the cornerstone for his new proposed alternative "Eurasian security architecture."
  • Ukraine conducted a naval drone strike against Russian naval infrastructure in Novorossiysk, Krasnodar Krai on the night July 3 and reportedly damaged energy infrastructure during an aerial drone strike on Belgorod Oblast on the night of July 1.
  • Unspecified People's Republic of China (PRC) and Russian companies are reportedly working together to develop a drone similar to the Iranian-designed Shahed loitering munition for Russia to use in Ukraine.
  • Russian forces recently advanced within easternmost Chasiv Yar, in the Toretsk direction, and near Avdiivka, and Ukrainian forces recently advanced within Vovchansk, near Kreminna, and southeast of Chasiv Yar.
  • The Kremlin continues efforts to position Russian veterans that have fought in Ukraine in official roles in Russian domestic politics.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 2, 2024

 click here to read the full report

Nicole Wolkov, Christina Harward, Grace Mappes, Karolina Hird, and George Barros

July 2, 2024, 7:30pm ET

Note: The data cut-off for this product was 12:30pm ET on July 2. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the July 3 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.

The interplay between ongoing Russian offensive operations in the Chasiv Yar, Toretsk, and Avdiivka directions indicates that the Russian military command may intend to leverage the ongoing Toretsk push to create operational opportunities for advances in either the Chasiv Yar or Avdiivka areas. Russian preparations that can support multiple future branch plans suggest a more developed level of operational planning and foresight than the Russian command has proven capable of executing thus far in the war since early 2022. The ability of this operational planning to come to fruition, however, will be bounded by the overall poor tactical-level capabilities of Russian forces currently fighting in these areas. Ukrainian Khortytsia Group of Forces Spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Nazar Voloshyn stated in an interview with Ukrainian outlet Suspilne Donbas on July 2 that Russian forces are beginning to storm Chasiv Yar from the Toretsk direction (south of Chasiv Yar) and have been attacking in the direction of Toretsk-Chasiv Yar using mainly small infantry groups and occasional mechanized assaults.[1] Voloshyn's suggestion that Russian forces are trying to attack towards the southern flank of Chasiv Yar from the Toretsk area is noteworthy. If Russian forces are able to develop a larger salient in the general Shumy-Pivdenne-Pivniche-Toretsk area, then they may be able to more credibly threaten Chasiv Yar from the south, complementing ongoing offensive Russian efforts north of Chasiv Yar near Kalynivka. Russian forces have continued attacks in the area south and southeast of Chasiv Yar, particularly near Klishchiivka, Andriivka, and Kurdyumivka, suggesting that the Russian command remains interested, at least in principle, in maintaining access to the southern flank of the Chasiv Yar area. Recent Russian advances in Mayorske (east of Toretsk) affords Russian forces positions on the east (left) bank of the Siversky Donets-Donbas Canal, allowing them to advance towards Chasiv Yar from the south along one bank of the canal as opposed to trying to cross the canalizing terrain in northern and eastern Chasiv Yar.

Ukrainian military observer Kostyantyn Mashovets, however, linked Russian efforts in the Toretsk direction with efforts to break through to the Pokrovsk direction (also referred to as the Avdiivka direction or the area west/southwest of Toretsk).[2] Mashovets noted on July 2 that Russian forces have intensified attacks on Toretsk in the past 24 hours and that the Russian Central Grouping of Forces (the command of which is also notably responsible for Russian troops attacking west of Avdiivka) has deployed additional battalions and assault companies near Toretsk to support ongoing offensive operations.[3] Mashovets noted that operational factors in the Toretsk direction "are directly related" to the Avdiivka direction and assessed that Russian troops of the Central Grouping of Forces are trying to interdict Ukrainian positions along the H-32 Pokrovsk-Kostyantynivka road (a major Ukrainian ground line of communication [GLOC] that supplies Ukrainian forces in Toretsk).[4]

Mashovets' and Voloshyn's separate observations on the prospects of Russian offensive operations near Toretsk reflect a noteworthy battlefield dynamic — the Russian command may have chosen to escalate offensive operations near Toretsk in mid-June exactly because this area offers Russian forces a flexible point of departure from which they can either attack north towards Chasiv Yar or west/southwest in the Avdiivka direction, depending on whatever route of attack the Russian command deems the most immediately promising. The apparent decision to attack near Toretsk emphasizes that the Russian command may be planning operations with more foresight and understanding of the operational situation than previously, when the Russian command pushed for incoherent offensive operations on unrelated parts of the front. The ability of the Russian command to actually bring these operational plans to bear, however, is contingent on the tactical-level performance of the troops in the Toretsk area and their ability to exploit tactical successes into operationally-significant breakthroughs.[5] As ISW previously noted, the main Russian forces concentration in the Toretsk area is formed of lower-quality forces of the Donetsk People's Republic (DNR) and Territorial Troops, which will likely struggle to properly execute attacks, especially as Ukraine receives additional military aid over the coming weeks and months.[6]

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban likely used his unannounced visit to Kyiv on July 2 to posture himself as a peacemaker following Hungary's accession to the European Union (EU) Council presidency on July 1, but Orban’s efforts are very unlikely to bring about any robust peace in Ukraine. Orban met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, and the Hungarian government readout emphasized that Orban met with Zelensky specifically to ask him to "consider a time-bound ceasefire" and "speed up the peace negotiations" given that "the rules of international diplomacy are slow and complicated."[7] The Hungarian readout suggested that Orban specifically made this request to coincide with Hungary's EU Council presidency. Zelensky stated that he and Orban discussed bilateral issues, infrastructure, energy issues, and "how to bring a just and lasting peace closer."[8] Ukrainian Presidential Administration Deputy Head Ihor Zhovka stated that Zelensky listened to Orban's proposal before emphasizing that Ukraine is working to draft a peace plan and hold another peace summit, which Zhovka stated Russia can attend "in one way or another."[9] Zhovka noted that Hungary is not the first country to discuss a possible ceasefire but emphasized that "such [peace and negotiations] processes cannot be perceived in isolation."[10] ISW continues to assess that a ceasefire in Ukraine on the current lines is unlikely to deter further Russian aggression and only allow Russia critical time to rebuild its forces and prepare for future aggression against Ukraine.

The Kremlin is waging an intensified information campaign aimed at pushing Ukraine to negotiate with Russia on Russian terms, and any Russian, Western, or other efforts to cajole Ukraine to prematurely negotiate with Russia would only weaken Ukraine and embolden further Russian aggression inside and beyond Ukraine.[11] Orban’s recent messaging about a ceasefire could support the Kremlin’s larger strategic messaging that seeks to establish a Russian-preferable operational pause or convince Ukraine’s international partners to abandon Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin recently articulated a theory of victory that posits that gradual and indefinite Russian advances within Ukraine will eventually enable Russian victory.[12] Putin likely assesses that Russia can protract the war indefinitely and win a war of attrition so long as he can deny decisive international support to Ukraine.[13] Russia’s slow but steady battlefield gains since late 2023 likely reinforce Putin’s assessment and incentivize Putin to avoid any kind of true ceasefire that would end the war. Putin and other senior Russian officials have consistently reiterated that Russia is uninterested in any negotiations that do not result in further Ukrainian territorial concessions of areas that Russia does not already occupy.[14] Freezing the current lines in Ukraine would provide Russia with operationally and strategically significant Ukrainian territory from which Russia can launch renewed aggression with an experienced military and revitalized defense industrial base.

Several Russian State Duma deputies proposed a bill that would exclude a significant number of ethnicities from Russia's "compatriots" resettlement program, undermining the Kremlin's efforts to leverage its "compatriots abroad" to offset Russian labor shortages and set informational conditions to justify potential hybrid operations against other countries with Russian and Russian-speaking populations. Just Russia Party Duma Deputy Dmitry Kuznetsov and Communist Party Duma Deputy Mikhail Matveyev authored a bill that would exclude citizens of countries formerly within the Soviet Union from using the "compatriots" program to resettle in Russia and that would limit the definition of "compatriots" eligible for resettlement as ethnicities historically living in the territory of Russia and the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR).[15] Kuznetsov and Matveyev claimed that 50 to 70 percent of applicants for the "compatriots" resettlement program in recent years are citizens of Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Armenia and claimed that "several generations of citizens" of post-Soviet countries after the collapse of the Soviet Union have grown up with their own countries' "traditional, cultural, and moral values" and do not have any "blood, historical, cultural, spiritual, or any other connection" with Russia or its people. The Russian government notably eased the requirements for “compatriots” living abroad to apply to resettle in Russia in February 2024 by no longer requiring an applicant to prove their Russian-language proficiency if they previously renounced Russian citizenship; were born or permanently resided in the Soviet Union and had Soviet citizenship; or have relatives who were born or permanently resided on territory formerly part of the Soviet Union or Russian Empire.[16] Russian ultranationalist milbloggers have been increasingly critical of the Russian government's decision to provide migrants with Russian citizenship, while others have supported this practice on the condition that migrants with acquired Russian citizenship serve in the Russian military in Ukraine.[17] Russian ultranationalists' increasing animosity toward migrants may have influenced Kuznetsov and Matveyev to propose implementing restrictions against many citizens that would be eligible for resettlement in Russia and by extension, greatly limiting the number of people the Russian government can include in its "compatriots abroad" narrative. Setting strict definitions on Russia's classification of its "compatriots" directly undermines ongoing Kremin efforts to set informational conditions to justify potential hybrid operations against other countries with Russian and Russian-speaking populations and to use "compatriot" resettlement to offset labor shortages and long-term population decline.[18]

Ukrainian forces struck an ammunition depot at a Russian military base in occupied Crimea on July 1 that reportedly housed Shahed drones. Ukrainian Air Force Commander Lieutenant General Mykola Oleshchuk stated on July 2 that Ukrainian forces struck an ammunition depot in occupied Crimea on July 1.[19] A Russian source posted a photo on July 2 purportedly of the aftermath of a Ukrainian cruise missile strike against a Shahed drone warehouse near occupied Sevastopol on the evening of July 1, and the geolocated photograph indicates that Ukrainian forces struck the base of Russian military unit 99375 near occupied Flotske (south of Sevastopol).[20] Russian opposition outlet Astra reported on July 2 that Ukrainian forces launched at least six Storm Shadow missiles at Sevastopol on the evening of July 1 and that one missile struck the Russian Black Sea Fleet's 758th Logistics Center in occupied Sevastopol.[21] A Crimea-based Telegram channel stated on July 1 that Russian air defense systems activated near occupied Flotske and Sevastopol and that there were explosions near an unspecified Russian military unit near Flotske.[22] Sevastopol occupation head Mikhail Razvozhaev claimed that Russian forces shot down five unspecified air targets over the water and near Balaklava and that small fires started.[23]

Russia may be intensifying its efforts to conduct reconnaissance and disrupt communications in the underwater and air space near NATO states. Bloomberg reported on July 1, citing three unspecified sources, that Russian Kilo-class submarines operated in unspecified areas near the Irish Sea once 18 months ago (in December 2022 or January 2023) and once at an unspecified "more recent" date.[24] Bloomberg reported that the sources stated that these submarine movements "went beyond what UK officials had previously seen," but did not offer specifics on how the new events were anomalous. Bloomberg noted that Cork, Ireland is a landing point for the EXA Atlantic submarine cable that connects the UK and Canada and that a spokesperson for the Irish Department of Defense stated that government agencies are working to protect Ireland's data cables. Sources reportedly stated that Russian submarine deployments to the Irish Sea area could be part of efforts to identify potential weaknesses in Irish and British maritime defenses or to intimidate the UK due to British support for Ukraine. Bloomberg reported that a source noted that the varying depths of the Irish Sea would make it difficult for a Russian submarine to traverse the entire Irish Sea submerged. It is unclear why the Russian submarines were operating near the Irish Sea, but the submarines may have been conducting reconnaissance on the defense and communications of NATO members Canada and the UK.

The United Nations' International Telecommunications Union (ITU) reviewed concerns from Luxembourg, Sweden, France, and the Netherlands about recent interference to their satellite networks that jammed GPS signals, endangered air traffic control, and interrupted children's TV shows to display footage of the war in Ukraine.[25] The ITU reported that two satellite operators both geolocated the source of the interference against French and Swedish satellite networks to near Moscow, Kaliningrad, and Pavlovka (there are numerous Pavlovkas in Russia and it is unclear to which Pavlovka, Russia the ITU is referring). ISW has also observed high levels of GPS jamming over Poland and the Baltic region since late 2023, which some analysts and experts have attributed to Russian electronic warfare (EW) activity near Kaliningrad and St. Petersburg.[26] ISW has also observed increased reports of disruptions in air communications near the UK and Ireland.[27] The Telegraph, citing flight tracker data, also reported on June 30 that roughly 28 percent of the UK's Royal Air Force transport and surveillance flights over Eastern Europe and 16 percent of flights over northwestern Europe between January and April 2024 experienced GPS interference.[28] Air traffic control communications reportedly from the Shanwick Oceanic Control (overseeing the international airspace zone covering the northeastern Atlantic Ocean between the west coast of Scotland and Ireland to the southwestern coast of Iceland) indicated that a June 2024 flight between Madrid, Spain, and Toronto, Canada, was unable to ascend to a higher altitude due to apparent GPS jamming affecting other aircraft at the higher altitude.[29] The Resilient Navigation and Timing Foundation, a nonprofit advocating for improved GPS security, noted, however, that a GPS jammer is not always able to recover after experiencing jamming and assessed that the aircraft that experienced the jamming over the Atlantic was likely flying from the Baltic region or Middle East and that one of its GPS receivers had not recovered by the time it entered the Shanwick Oceanic Control Zone. Anomalous Russian submarine activity in the Irish Sea and apparent Russian GPS manipulations in a nearby area and across much of NATO airspace may not be directly related, but both represent Russian efforts to interfere with the water and air space of NATO members.

Russian authorities appear to be publicly fixating on crackdowns against fight clubs and restricting the niqab to signal that Russian authorities are adequately combatting terrorist threats in the North Caucasus instead of addressing systemic issues of Islamist extremism in the region. Russian outlets reported on June 28 that security forces searched a mixed martial arts (MMA) sports club with links to former Russian MMA fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov in Dagestan Republic since an attacker involved in the June 23 terrorist attacks in Dagestan reportedly trained at the sports club.[30] Russian outlet RBK reported on July 1 that the Russian Federal Tax Service (FNS) seized Nurmagomedov's bank accounts due to a debt of 297 million rubles (about $3.4 million).[31] Russian media reported on July 2 that Russian law enforcement also detained a former coach of the Russian national youth wrestling team in Moscow in a terrorism case.[32] Russian milbloggers have criticized the purported widespread participation of Dagestani youth in MMA fight clubs, which milbloggers claim encourage Islamist extremist ideology.[33] Along with MMA clubs, Russian authorities are also cracking down against niqabs (a garment worn by some Muslim women to cover their entire body and face, excluding their eyes), which they have framed as symbolic of Islamic extremism. Russian Investigative Committee Head Alexander Bastrykin voiced indirect support for banning niqabs, but Dagestan Head Sergei Melikov stated that he is personally against the practice.[34] The Muftiate of Dagestan, which was expected to issue a fatwa (a legal ruling issued by an Islamic jurist on the grounds of Islamic law) against wearing the niqab, stated on July 2 that it could not find sufficient grounds for a general ban on niqab but that local and temporary bans are permitted for security reasons.[35] Russian ultranationalists also claimed that Dagestani officials know the identities of extremist thought leaders but have allowed radical Salafi-Jihadists to control entire spheres of public life within the republic.[36] Residents of Sergokala, Dagestan who reportedly knew some of the assailants in the June 23 terrorist attacks told RBK in a July 1 article that all the attackers attended a "Wahhabi" mosque whose imam had not been approved by the Muftiate of Dagestan.[37] Russian authorities' fixation on cracking down on fight clubs and regulations on niqabs while ignoring systemic issues of Islamist extremism and rising ethnic and religious tension in Russia may actually fuel radicalization in the region and ethnic and religious friction.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on July 2 assigning the Russian 999th Air Base in Kant, Kyrgyzstan the "guards" honorific for "mass heroism and bravery."[38] The 999th Air Base is part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization's (CSTO) Collective Rapid Deployment Forces. Russian milblogger and Kremlin Human Rights Committee member Alexander "Sasha" Kots claimed that Putin's decree suggests that the 999th Airbase may be supporting combat missions in or near Ukraine.[39]

Key Takeaways:

  • The interplay between ongoing Russian offensive operations in the Chasiv Yar, Toretsk, and Avdiivka directions indicates that the Russian military command may intend to leverage the ongoing Toretsk push to create operational opportunities for advances in either the Chasiv Yar or Avdiivka areas. Russian preparations that can support multiple future branch plans in Donetsk Oblast suggest a more developed level of operational planning and foresight than the Russian command has proven capable of executing thus far in the war since early 2022. The ability of this operational planning to come to fruition, however, will be bounded by the overall poor tactical-level capabilities of Russian forces currently fighting in these areas.
  • Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban likely used his unannounced visit to Kyiv on July 2 to posture himself as a peacemaker following Hungary's accession to the European Union (EU) Council presidency on July 1, but Orban’s efforts are very unlikely to bring about any robust peace in Ukraine.
  • The Kremlin is waging an intensified information campaign aimed at pushing Ukraine to negotiate with Russia on Russian terms, and any Russian, Western, or other efforts to cajole Ukraine to prematurely negotiate with Russia would only weaken Ukraine and embolden further Russian aggression inside and beyond Ukraine.
  • Several Russian State Duma deputies proposed a bill that would exclude a significant number of ethnicities from Russia's "compatriots" resettlement program, undermining the Kremlin's efforts to leverage its "compatriots abroad" to offset Russian labor shortages and set informational conditions to justify potential hybrid operations against other countries with Russian and Russian-speaking populations.
  • Ukrainian forces struck an ammunition depot at a Russian military base in occupied Crimea on July 1 that reportedly housed Shahed drones.
  • Russia may be intensifying its efforts to conduct reconnaissance and disrupt communications in the underwater and air space near NATO states.
  • Russian authorities appear to be publicly fixating on crackdowns against fight clubs and restricting the niqab to signal that Russian authorities are adequately combatting terrorist threats in the North Caucasus instead of addressing systemic issues of Islamist extremism in the region.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on July 2 assigning the Russian 999th Air Base in Kant, Kyrgyzstan the "guards" honorific for "mass heroism and bravery.
  • Russian forces recently advanced near Vovchansk, Chasiv Yar, Avdiivka, and the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area.
  • Russia is reportedly recruiting women from Russian penal colonies to fight in Ukraine, and some of these recruits are reportedly fighting on the frontline.


Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 1, 2024

Click here to read the full report.

Nicole Wolkov, Christina Harward, Angelica Evans, Karolina Hird, and Frederick W. Kagan

July 1, 2024, 5pm ET 

Note: The data cut-off for this product was 12:15pm ET on July 1. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the July 2 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.

Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) Head Vladimir Kolokoltsev boasted that Russian authorities have increased detentions and prosecutions related to illegal migration into Russia while calling for intensified Russian government crackdowns against illegal migration. Kolokoltsev claimed on July 1 at a Russian government meeting on crime prevention that the MVD has detected over double the number of crimes related to organizing illegal migration and have prosecuted roughly a quarter more individuals who were illegally in Russia, presumably in comparison with 2023.[1] Kolokoltsev also claimed that the number of "serious" and "especially serious" crimes committed by foreigners in Russia decreased by 7.6 percent in 2024 in comparison to 2023. Kolokoltsev also noted that select crimes that foreigners have committed in Russia have increased interethnic tension in Russia. Kolokoltsev characterized Russia's fight against illegal migration as "strategically important" and called for joint efforts to resolve migration issues, likely referring to coordinated efforts between multiple Russian state security organs.

Russian milbloggers criticized Kolokoltsev's statistics and claimed that the reported reduction in crimes committed by foreign citizens in Russia is a result of Russian authorities' decision to grant Russian citizenship to migrants — not actual decreases in migrant crime.[2] One milblogger insinuated that Kolokoltsev was directly attempting to defy Russian Investigative Committee Head Alexander Bastrykin, who claimed on July 27 that migrant crime is spreading across Russia and that migrants committed an increased percentage of "especially serious" and "extremist" crimes in Russia in 2023.[3] Russian ultranationalists have routinely criticized the Russian government's policy of giving migrants Russian citizenship, although some Russian milbloggers and some State Duma members have previously justified Russia’s ongoing coercive crypto-mobilization efforts, which disproportionally target migrants, by claiming that migrants who receive Russian citizenship must fight in Ukraine to “earn” their Russian citizenship and that migrants who fight in Ukraine will receive Russian citizenship.[4] Significant Russian ultranationalist efforts to stop the Russian government from giving Russian citizenship to migrants and other "compatriots abroad" (which Russia loosely defines as ethnic Russians and Russian-speakers living outside of Russia) may hinder Russia's ongoing weaponization of passportization to generate military manpower, offset domestic labor shortages, and set informational conditions to justify potential hybrid operations against other countries with Russian and Russian-speaking populations.[5]

Russia assumed its one-month-long rotating presidency of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on July 1 for the first time since April 2023 and will likely use this position as a power projection base within the international system as it historically has.[6] Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will chair UNSC debates on July 16 and 17.[7] ISW assessed during Russia's April 2023 presidency that Russia exploited its UNSC presidency to further several narratives regarding Russia's desired sway in the international system and has previously noted that Russia uses its UNSC veto power as a base of power projection.[8] Several high-ranking Russian officials have recently launched several information operations meant to deflect responsibility for well-documented Russian violations of international law committed in Ukraine, likely to set conditions for the upcoming UNSC presidency.[9]

South Korea's Ministry of Unification announced on July 1 that North Korean state TV channel Korean Central TV switched to transmitting broadcasts via Russian satellites instead of Chinese satellites, reportedly affecting South Korea's ability to monitor North Korean state TV.[10] South Korean media and North Korean monitoring organizations reported on July 1 that they suddenly stopped receiving Korean Central TV broadcasts, and South Korean's Ministry of Unification later announced that North Korea stopped transmitting broadcasts through Chinese satellites and that the reception from the Russian satellites is restricted in some areas of South Korea.[11] South Korean state broadcaster KBS reported that signals from the Russian satellites overlap with certain domestic frequency banks, making the signals difficult to receive in South Korea.[12] North Korea monitoring organization North Korea Tech stated on July 1 that North Korea is using Russia's Express-103 satellite, which transmits to a significantly smaller area of the world (reportedly excluding most of Asia, Europe, and Africa) compared to the Chinese Chinasat-12 satellite that North Korea previously used for its broadcasts.[13] It is unclear if North Korea is temporarily switching its broadcasts to Russian satellites or if the change is more permanent; however, it is notable that the Kremlin may be aiding North Korean efforts to conceal information from South Korea and other Western allies.

Hungary assumed the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union (EU) Council on July 1.[14] The EU Council presidencies work in "trios" every 18 months that set long-term goals and prepare a common agenda for the EU Council.[15] Hungary is currently a part of the "trio" that includes Spain, which held the presidency from July 2023 to December 2023, and Belgium, which held the presidency from January 2024 to June 2024. The Spanish–Belgian–Hungarian trio set its 18-month program in July 2023, which expressed commitment to "helping the rest of the world cope with the consequences of Russia's war and contributing to the coordination of long-term financial support for the reconstruction of Ukraine."[16] Each presidency also sets its own six-month priorities, and Hungary's seven focus areas include reinforcing the EU's defense policy, making the EU enlargement policy consistent and merit-based, stemming illegal migration, promoting farmer-oriented EU agricultural policy, and addressing the EU's demographic challenges.[17]

Key Takeaways:

  • Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) Head Vladimir Kolokoltsev boasted that Russian authorities have increased detentions and prosecutions related to illegal migration into Russia while calling for intensified Russian government crackdowns against illegal migration.
  • Russia assumed its one-month-long rotating presidency of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on July 1 for the first time since April 2023 and will likely use this position as a power projection base within the international system as it historically has.
  • South Korea's Ministry of Unification announced on July 1 that North Korean state TV channel Korean Central TV switched to transmitting broadcasts via Russian satellites instead of Chinese satellites, reportedly affecting South Korea's ability to monitor North Korean state TV.
  • Hungary assumed the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union (EU) Council on July 1.
  • Ukrainian forces recently advanced near Kreminna, and Russian forces recently advanced near Avdiivka.
  • The Russian information space continues to discuss the mistreatment of wounded and disabled Russian servicemembers in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's theory of victory that Russia will be able to make creeping advances in Ukraine indefinitely will incentivize Putin to protract the war and harden Putin's commitment to destroying Ukrainian statehood. The West must hasten to provide Ukraine the support it needs to conduct counteroffensive operations to invalidate Putin's theory of victory and avoid protracting the war more than necessary to secure a peace acceptable to Ukraine and its partners. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer published on June 30 that he fears that the West is afraid of pushing for full Ukrainian victory due to Western concerns about Russian stability and that this fear has allowed Putin to pursue the seizure of as much Ukrainian territory as possible.[1] Zelensky warned that every Russian advance strengthens Russia's bargaining power and that Putin can choose to try to leverage this bargaining power at opportune moments to pursue a ceasefire that would allow Russia to prepare for future aggression against Ukraine.[2]

Putin has articulated a theory of victory 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.[3] The Russian military command is currently prioritizing consistent offensive operations that achieve gradual tactical gains over conducting a large-scale discrete offensive operation that aims to make operationally significant gains through rapid maneuver.[4] Putin and the Russian military command likely view creeping offensive operations as a more guaranteed approach to making gains in Ukraine than larger mobile offensives and appear to be accepting the reality that Russian forces may have to pursue individual operationally significant objectives over the course of many months if not years.[5] Putin has recently demanded that Ukraine cede all of occupied Kherson, Zaporizhia, Donetsk, and Luhansk oblasts as well as the parts of those four oblasts that Ukraine currently controls.[6] A protracted war favors Putin's calculus since he likely assesses that Russia will be able to hold any ground it takes and that Russian forces will be more likely to achieve his current stated territorial objectives the longer the war progresses. Putin and the Kremlin have intentionally set no limits to their objectives of conquest in Ukraine and have suggested repeatedly that areas outside of Kherson, Zaporizhia, Donetsk, and Luhansk oblasts are part of Russia.[7] Protracted war will likely incentivize Putin to explicitly set new territorial objectives as long as he assesses that Ukrainian forces can neither stop his advances nor conduct meaningful counteroffensives.

Putin retains his objective of entirely destroying Ukrainian statehood and identity, and all his objectives for territorial conquest in Ukraine are a means to this end.[8] Putin likely hopes that creeping Russian advances in Ukraine will convince the West that Ukrainian victory is unattainable and that concessions on Ukrainian territorial integrity and sovereignty are preferable to Ukrainian defeat.[9] Putin is currently unwilling to accept anything short of full Ukrainian capitulation, however, as his remarks and demands consistently show, and he will see any negotiated ceasefire agreement as a mechanism for Russia to prepare for renewed offensive operations in the future to achieve his overall aims. A negotiated ceasefire that further establishes a precedent for violating Ukrainian territorial integrity and sovereignty beyond the precedent already established by the Minsk Accords following Russia's seizure of Crimea and parts of Luhansk and Donetsk in 2014 will strengthen Russia's position to pursue the full eradication of Ukrainian statehood at a later date. This ceasefire would provide Russia a respite in the war to reconstitute and expand its forces and to further mobilize its defense industrial base (DIB) for future aggression.[10] Putin and the Russian military command likely hope that a ceasefire will allow Russia to launch a future stage of the war with a military more capable of pursuing operationally significant advances. Putin is not yet interested in a ceasefire, however, as he appears to continue to assess that he can achieve his aims by force. He might become more open to a ceasefire if that condition changes, but a negotiated ceasefire on Putin's terms would amount to Ukrainian and Western capitulation. Neither of these courses of action are consistent with the survival of an independent Ukrainian state or the Ukrainian people, nor are they compatible with NATO's vital security interests.

Ukraine's partners can help Ukraine reduce Putin's willingness to continue to wage endless war in pursuit of Ukraine's destruction by helping Ukraine conduct significant counteroffensive operations that liberate Ukrainian territory and invalidate Putin's assumptions about what Russia can achieve in Ukraine by force. Putin's current 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.[11] Putin and the Russian military command are increasingly viewing the retention of the theater-wide initiative as a strategic imperative and will continue to leverage the initiative to try to force Ukraine to commit manpower and materiel to current defensive operations and to prevent Ukraine from accumulating the personnel and resources Ukraine needs to contest the initiative.[12] Putin's theory of victory rests on the assessment that Ukraine lacks the capability to liberate operationally significant territory — Russia's creeping advances hold no operational significance if Ukraine can undo those gains more rapidly when Ukraine regains the battlefield- or theater-wide initiative. Western security assistance and Ukrainian force generation efforts that allow Ukraine to contest the initiative are thus crucial to changing Putin's calculus, and it is unlikely that Putin will change his assessment regarding the feasibility of destroying Ukraine without further significant Russian defeats. Western security assistance that provides 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 remains the only likely path for reducing Putin's current commitment to destroying Ukrainian statehood and identity regardless of time or cost.

Ukraine is also pursuing diplomatic conditions to support an end-state to the war that would prevent Russia from inflicting a defeat that could set conditions for future aggression. Switzerland hosted the Ukrainian-initiated Global Peace Summit on June 15, which aimed to create a global consensus on negotiations about the war in Ukraine so that Ukraine and its international partners can give a joint peace plan to a Russian representative at a subsequent peace summit once Putin is willing to negotiate on terms other than total Ukrainian capitulation.[13] Ukraine aims to establish a basis for negotiations that will prevent Russia from convincing other countries to support concessions that would allow Russia to pursue Ukraine's destruction at a later date.

The Russian military command appears to be separating some limited elements of airborne (VDV) units and formations into smaller components across different sectors of the front, and the Russian military command may still view VDV units as relatively elite, at least compared with other Russian units and formations. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed on June 30 that elements of the 106th Airborne (VDV) Division's 137th VDV Regiment are operating in the Kherson direction, while ISW has observed widespread reports as recently as June 29 claiming that elements of the 137th VDV Regiment are operating in the Siversk direction.[14] A Russian source claimed in late May 2024 that elements of the 98th VDV Division's 217th VDV Regiment were operating in a border area of Kursk Oblast.[15] ISW observed reports that elements of the 217th VDV Regiment were also operating near Chasiv Yar in late May 2024, and elements of the 217th VDV Regiment reportedly continue to operate near Chasiv Yar as of June 28.[16] Elements of the 83rd VDV Brigade have reportedly been operating within Vovchansk since at least the beginning of June 2024, and ISW most recently observed reports on June 11 that elements of the 83rd Brigade were also operating near Chasiv Yar.[17] A Russian milblogger claimed on May 1 that the Russian command decided to transfer elements of the 76th VDV Division to Krynky, Kherson Oblast, and ISW observed reports that squad-sized elements of the 76th VDV Division were operating in the Kherson direction in late May 2024 and mid-June 2024.[18] ISW has yet to observe confirmation of a more significant redeployment of the 76th VDV Division. Ukrainian military observer Kostyantyn Mashovets also stated on May 5 that a battalion of the 76th VDV Division's 104th VDV Regiment was operating in Kursk Oblast.[19]

This deployment of limited elements of the same VDV units and formations across diverging axes and distances is at odds with standard military practice. Elements of individual Russian VDV brigades and regiments have been deployed to the areas of responsibility of more than one grouping of forces, decisions that only Russian theater commander Chief of the Russian General Staff Army General Valery Gerasimov or possibly VDV Commander Colonel General Mikhail Teplinsky could likely have made. ISW has previously assessed that Russian forces have heavily degraded the once-elite VDV units and are employing them in attritional ground assaults and counterattacks regardless of their designated functions and elite capabilities – essentially transforming the VDV into motorized rifle units.[20] The Russian military command, however, may still assess VDV units to be of higher quality, particularly if these VDV units have retained some of the generally higher quality officer cadre with which they started the war. The decision to break up VDV regiments and brigades suggests that the Russian military command is willing to forego using VDV units and formations to pursue their own coherent offensive operations in select sectors of the front. The Russian military command may instead hope that the presence of supposedly more elite VDV units in various sectors will improve the relative combat effectiveness of other nearby lower-quality units and therefore marginally improve combat effectiveness throughout the frontline. It remains unclear why Russian forces are deploying VDV elements in this way, however, and ISW offers these possible explanations with low confidence. ISW will continue to closely track how Russian forces employ these limited redeployed VDV elements in ongoing offensive operations.

Ukrainian forces reportedly struck the Novolipetsk Metallurgical Plant (NLMK) in Lipetsk Oblast on June 30. Russian media outlet Baza reported on June 30 that seven Ukrainian drones and their debris struck the plant and damaged an oxygen separation unit and caused a fire in a garage on the plant's territory on the morning of June 30.[21] Lipetsk Oblast Governor Igor Artamonov stated that Russian air defenses downed nine drones over Lipetsk's industrial zone and that debris from one drone struck the roof of a residential building.[22] NLMK representatives claimed that Ukrainian drones targeted the plant but downplayed the impact of the strike, calling the strike "meaningless."[23] The June 30 strike appears to be the fifth strike against NLMK following strikes against the plant on June 17 and in February, April, and May 2024.[24] NLMK claims to be Russia's largest producer of steel and high value-added steel products.[25]

Dagestan Republic Head Sergei Melikov publicly sided with Chechen Republic Head Ramzan Kadyrov in a recent debate between Kadyrov and Russian Investigative Commitee Head Alexander Bastrykin about responses to religious extremism in Russia amid growing ethnic and religious tension in Russia. Bastrykin claimed on June 29, referencing the June 23 terrorist attacks in Dagestan, that "Islamist terrorists" were "able to carry their banner of Islamic terror" into Russia and called on the State Duma to respond to this threat.[26] Kadyrov swiftly responded to Bastrykin on June 29 and urged him and other Russian officials to avoid characterizing all Muslims as terrorists as such statements could jeopardize Russia's unity and stability.[27] ISW assessed that it is significant that Kadyrov, who often presents himself as a representative of Russia's Muslim minority, was willing to openly criticize Bastrykin, a senior Kremlin official who has positioned himself as a prominent figure in Russia's ultranationalist movement.[28] Melikov expressed "absolute solidarity" with Kadyrov on June 30 and claimed that unspecified "outside observers" continue to accuse Dagestanis of radicalism and equate all Muslims with criminals.[29] Melikov called such statements dangerous and noted that some high-ranking individuals appear to be deliberately attempting to escalate the situation, likely referencing Bastrykin's statement. Melikov's decision to publicly side with Kadyrov in a debate with Bastrykin emphasizes the increasing divide between Russian officials attempting to maintain a veneer of multiethnic and multi-religious stability and unity in Russia and other Russian officials who support Russia's ultranationalist movement. Russian President Vladimir Putin may weigh in on Kadyrov's and Bastrykin's debate in hopes of quelling concerns among Russians about potential Islamist terrorist threats and stopping a potential conflict between Bastrykin and Kadyrov before it expands to other senior Russian officials.

Russian law enforcement reportedly detained Gadzhimurad Atayev (also known as Khanov), the man whom Russian ultranationalists recently accused of harassing a Russian doctor in Dagestan who refused to see a patient who would not remove her niqab (a long garment worn by some Muslim women to cover their entire body and face, excluding their eyes).[30] Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported in October 2015 that German authorities arrested a Dagestani imam known as "Gadzhimurad K." and "Murad Atajev" in Berlin on suspicion of recruiting Islamic State (IS) militants.[31] RFE/RL reported that Atayev ran pro-IS social media accounts and characterized him as a "well-known figure in the Russian-language pro-jihadi world." Russian outlets claimed that Atayev works as an assistant to a Buynaksk City official and promotes "[Muslim] religious-traditional values" on social media.[32] Atayev's detention only occurred after Russian ultranationalists expressed public outrage against him to the point where Bastrykin commented on the issue, suggesting that Russian authorities detained Atayev in response to ultranationalist outrage - not his alleged IS affiliations - despite likely knowing about his Islamist extremist tendencies beforehand.

Military and civilian flights continue to experience GPS interference over Europe and the Middle East, highlighting the role of long-term GPS jamming in ongoing and future conflicts. The Telegraph, citing flight tracker data, reported on June 30 that hundreds of the United Kingdom (UK) Royal Air Force's (RAF) 1,467 total transport and surveillance flights between January and April 2024 experienced GPS interference.[33] The Telegraph reported that roughly 28 percent (142 of 504) of RAF transport and surveillance flights over Eastern Europe, 16 percent of flights over northwestern Europe, and 45 percent of flights over the Middle East experienced GPS jamming in the first four months of 2024. UK Defense Secretary Grant Shapps and an unnamed defense source attributed the GPS jamming to Russian actors, but The Telegraph noted that some of the GPS jamming signals in the Middle East may be originating in Israel in addition to Russian military installations in Syria. ISW has observed high levels of GPS jamming over Poland and the Baltic region since late 2023, which some analysts and experts have attributed to Russian electronic warfare (EW) activity near Kaliningrad and St. Petersburg.[34] The Resilient Navigation and Timing Foundation (RNTF), a nonprofit advocating for improved GPS security, responded on June 19 to recent reports of the first confirmed instance of GPS jamming on a commercial trans-Atlantic flight route and stated that an aircraft's GPS receiver cannot always recover on its own after experiencing jamming and may operate in "degraded mode" until a pilot or technician fixes the receiver.[35] RNTF assessed that an aircraft flying the commercial trans-Atlantic route during the reported jamming instance may have previously flown from the Baltic Region or Middle East where jamming is more prevalent and been experiencing ongoing issues with its GPS receiver due to previous exposure. ISW has observed no reports that Russian actors are attempting to jam GPS over western Europe or the Atlantic Ocean. GPS-guided systems will likely become increasingly unreliable over war zones as long-range jamming against prominent GPS-guided weapons and systems becomes more normal.

Key Takeaways:

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin's theory of victory that Russia will be able to make creeping advances in Ukraine indefinitely will incentivize Putin to protract the war and harden Putin's commitment to destroying Ukrainian statehood. The West must hasten to provide Ukraine the support it needs to conduct counteroffensive operations to invalidate Putin's theory of victory and avoid protracting the war more than necessary to secure a peace acceptable to Ukraine and its partners.
  • Putin retains his objective of entirely destroying Ukrainian statehood and identity, and all his objectives for territorial conquest in Ukraine are a means to this end.
  • The Russian military command appears to be separating some limited elements of airborne (VDV) units and formations into smaller components across different sectors of the front, and the Russian military command may still view VDV units as relatively elite, at least compared with other Russian units and formations.
  • Ukrainian forces reportedly struck the Novolipetsk Metallurgical Plant (NLMK) in Lipetsk Oblast on June 30.
  • Dagestan Republic Head Sergei Melikov publicly sided with Chechen Republic Head Ramzan Kadyrov in a recent debate between Kadyrov and Russian Investigative Commitee Head Alexander Bastrykin about responses to religious extremism in Russia amid growing ethnic and religious tension in Russia.
  • Military and civilian flights continue to experience GPS interference over Europe and the Middle East, highlighting the role of long-term GPS jamming in ongoing and future conflicts.
  • Ukrainian forces recently regained lost positions near Kreminna, and Russian forces recently advanced near Lyptsi, Vovchansk, Kupyansk, and Avdiivka.
  • A Russian milblogger claimed on June 29 that Russian military commanders sent about 50 wounded soldiers of the 26th Tank Regiment (47th Tank Division, 1st Guards Tank Army, Moscow Military District [MMD]), who are on leave awaiting medical treatments, to the front against doctors' instructions.

Angelica Evans, Riley Bailey, Christina Harward, Nicole Wolkov, and Frederick W. Kagan

June 29, 2024, 6pm ET 

Two prominent Russian officials appear to be spearheading divergent paths for addressing religious extremism in Russia as ethnic and religious tension in Russia continues to rise. Russian Investigative Committee Head Alexander Bastrykin commented on the June 23 terrorist attacks in the Republic of Dagestan and claimed on June 29 that Islamic terrorists were "able to carry their banner of Islamic terror" into Russia and that the State Duma must respond to the threat of Islamic terrorists in Russia.[1] Bastrykin's indictment of Islamists prompted backlash from Chechen Republic Head Ramzan Kadyrov, who urged Bastrykin and other Russian officials to choose their words carefully and avoid characterizing all Muslims as terrorists.[2] Kadyrov warned that such statements threaten the unity and stability of Russia's socio-political situation. Russian milbloggers and lower-level Russian officials have previously participated in similar debates, and it is significant that Kadyrov was willing to openly criticize another high-level Kremlin official on this issue.[3] Bastrykin has previously positioned himself as a prominent figure in Russia's ultranationalist movement and is placing himself at odds with Kadyrov, who often presents himself as a representative of Russia's Muslim minority.[4] Putin previously attempted to quell concerns within the Russian information space about the threat posed by migrant and Muslim communities following the Crocus City Hall attack on March 22 by simultaneously calling for unspecified changes to Russia's migration policy and denouncing Islamophobia and xenophobia.[5] Putin may weigh in on Bastrykin's and Kadyrov's debate in the coming days in hopes of similarly quelling concern among Russians and a possible future conflict between Bastrykin and Kadyrov.

Russian ultranationalists continue to express growing doubt in Russian authorities' ability to prevent another terrorist attack and to address ethnic and religious tensions within Russia following the June 23 terrorist attacks in the Republic of Dagestan. Russian ultranationalists widely circulated a story alleging that extremists harassed a Russian doctor in Dagestan who refused to see a patient who would not remove her niqab (a long garment worn by some Muslim women to cover their entire body and face, excluding their eyes) and claimed that extremist actors orchestrated the event to incite further ethnic and religious tensions within Dagestan.[6] Russian ultranationalists also claimed that Dagestani officials know the identities of extremist thought leaders but have allowed radical Salafi-Jihadists to control entire spheres of public life within the republic.[7] These claims led to renewed discussions about banning niqab in Russia, which prompted Bastrykin to voice indirect support for banning the style of dress.[8] Select Western and Muslim-majority countries have imposed various statutes banning religious dress and garments that cover one's face, although the Russian ultranationalist discussion focusing on niqab is strange given the scarcity of Muslims wearing niqab in Russia. The Russian ultranationalist preoccupation with the niqab appears to be a talking point for ultranationalists to express their perception of an extremist threat emanating from Russia's Muslim-minority communities and to criticize Russian authorities for not doing enough to prevent what ultranationalists consider to be inevitable future terrorist attacks.[9] Russian ultranationalists will likely continue to express their fears about further terrorist attacks in ways that further inflame ethnic and religious tension, and ISW continues to assess that Russian ultranationalist rhetoric is partially alienating minority and Muslim-majority communities and generating animosities that Salafi-Jihadi groups can exploit in recruitment efforts.[10]

Ten Ukrainian civilians whom Russian and Belarusian authorities arrested and held in captivity or prison, including individuals detained before Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, returned to Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated on June 29 that 10 Ukrainian civilians returned to Ukraine from Russian and Belarusian captivity as part of the 53rd prisoner-of-war (POW) exchange that Ukrainian officials initially announced on June 25.[11] Ukrainian officials stated that among the returned civilians were First Deputy Head of the Crimean Tatar Majlis Nariman Dzhelyal, whom Russian authorities arrested in 2021; two Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church priests, whom Russian authorities arrested in occupied Berdyansk in 2022; five Ukrainian citizens, whom Belarusian authorities arrested in Belarus; and two Ukrainian civilians, whom Russian authorities detained in occupied Donetsk Oblast in 2017.[12] Zelensky stated that the Vatican mediated the return of the 10 Ukrainian civilians.[13] Ukrainian and Russian officials have not commented on whether Russia received civilians or POWs in exchange for these 10 Ukrainian civilians.

Key Takeaways:

  • Two prominent Russian officials appear to be spearheading divergent paths for addressing religious extremism in Russia as ethnic and religious tension in Russia continues to rise.
  • Russian ultranationalists continue to express growing doubt in Russian authorities' ability to prevent another terrorist attack and to address ethnic and religious tensions within Russia following the June 23 terrorist attacks in the Republic of Dagestan.
  • Ten Ukrainian civilians whom Russian and Belarusian authorities arrested and held in captivity or prison, including individuals detained before Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, returned to Ukraine.
  • Ukrainian forces recently regained lost positions near Kreminna, and Russian forces recently advanced near Kupyansk, Chasiv Yar, Toretsk, and Donetsk City.
  • Some new Russian military personnel are reportedly receiving insufficient training before deploying to Ukraine.


Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 28, 2024

Grace Mappes, Christina Harward, Riley Bailey, Nicole Wolkov, and Frederick W. Kagan
June 28, 2024, 8pm ET

Russian President Vladimir Putin directed on June 28 the production and deployment of nuclear-capable short- and intermediate-range missiles following the American withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty in 2019, likely as part of the Kremlin's ongoing reflexive control campaign to influence Western decision making in Russia's favor.[1] Putin attended a Russian Security Council meeting in which he claimed that Russia had vowed to uphold the INF's provisions against producing or deploying intermediate-range ground-based missiles until the United States violated these provisions and that Russia must now also produce and deploy such systems.[2] The United States suspended participation in the INF on February 1, 2019, and withdrew from the treaty on August 2, 2019, due to Russian violations of the treaty with its development, testing, and deployment of intermediate-range 9M729 (SSC-8) missiles, and Russia suspended its participation in the INF in response on February 2, 2019.[3] Putin specifically cited two 2024 US bilateral military exercises; one with the Philippines in Northern Luzon, Philippines on April 11 and a second with Denmark near Bornholm Island, Denmark on May 3-5. Both of these bilateral US exercises involved a Typhon Medium Range Capability (MRC) launcher, which US readouts specified can launch SM-6 and Tomahawk missiles.[4] The SM-6 missiles have a maximum range of 370 kilometers, while the Tomahawks have a maximum range of about 2,500 kilometers.[5] US officials did not specify which missiles, if any, may have been involved in either exercise.

Putin is more likely using these exercises as a scapegoat for his broader reflexive control campaign aimed at discouraging Western military assistance to Ukraine. These US and partner exercises involved launchers capable of launching missiles that could pose variable threats to Russia from the exercise locations. Bornholm Island is roughly 300 kilometers from the westernmost shore of Kaliningrad Oblast and roughly 1,400 kilometers from Moscow. The US Sixth Fleet specified that the Bornholm Island exercise involved transporting the Typhon launcher from land to shore as part of convoy protection rehearsals, suggesting that these exercises likely involved shorter-range weapons.[6] The Russian border area closest to the Philippines – the area southwest of Vladivostok – is roughly 2,800 kilometers from Northern Luzon, out of range of the Tomahawk missiles. Putin's June 27 condemnation follows the People's Republic of China (PRC) delayed condemnation of the US exercise in Northern Luzon on May 30. Putin likely invoked the Philippines exercise in part to posture favorably to the PRC, North Korea, and Vietnam as he attempts to create a coalition of states in support of a new "Eurasian security architecture."[7] The Kremlin has invoked the fear of a nuclear confrontation between Russia and the West throughout its full-scale invasion to push the West to self-deter from providing Ukraine the weapons it needs to sustain its defense against Russian forces, and the Kremlin notably employs this effort during key moments in Western political discussions about further military assistance to Ukraine.[8]

Ukrainian forces reportedly struck an oil depot in Russia on June 28 and reportedly struck a microelectronics plant and a military unit on the night of June 27 to 28. Tambov Oblast Governor Maksim Yegorov claimed that a drone struck an oil depot in Michurinsky Raion and started a fire on the morning of June 28.[9] Russian opposition outlet Astra stated that the drone hit the Transnefteprodukt "Nikolskoe" linear production and dispatch station in Novonikolskoe.[10] Astra also reported that Ukrainian forces struck an unspecified military unit in Karachev, Bryansk Oblast and the "Kremniy El" microelectronics plant in Bryansk City - one of the largest microelectronics manufacturers in Russia that makes components for military equipment - on the night of June 27 to 28.[11] Bryansk Oblast Governor Alexander Bogomaz claimed that Russian forces suppressed a Ukrainian drone with electronic warfare (EW) over Bryansk City and that drone debris damaged an administrative building.[12] The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that Russian forces destroyed 12 drones over Bryansk Oblast but did not mention any drone strikes against Tambov Oblast.[13]

The Ukrainian Armed Forces Center for Strategic Communications (StratCom) reported on June 28 that Ukrainian forces have damaged or destroyed more than 30 Russian military aircraft in the first six months of 2024, although ISW cannot confirm this report fully. Ukrainian StratCom stated that Ukrainian forces destroyed or damaged nine Su-25 aircraft, one Su-57 aircraft, two MiG-31 aircraft, roughly 13 Su-34 aircraft, two Su-35 aircraft, two A-50 long-range radar detection aircraft, one Il-22M11 airborne command post aircraft, and one Tu-22M3 strategic bomber in the first six months of 2024.[14] Ukrainian StratCom stated that most of the strikes against the Russian aircraft occurred in occupied Ukraine except for a handful of strikes over the Sea of Azov and within Russia.[15] Ukrainian StratCom did not specify what portion of these Ukrainian strikes were air defense interceptions of Russian aircraft in flight and what percentage were strikes against Russian aircraft at airfields. Russian officials acknowledged that Ukrainian forces downed an A-50 long-range radar detection aircraft in February 2024 after Ukrainian forces reportedly shot down another A-50 aircraft and Il-22M11 airborne command post aircraft in January 2024.[16] Satellite imagery indicates that Ukrainian strikes damaged at least one Russian Su-57 in June 2024, and footage indicates that Ukrainian forces downed a Russian Tu-22M3 strategic bomber in mid-April.[17] Satellite imagery indicates that Ukrainian forces destroyed two MiG-31 aircraft in occupied Crimea in an ATACMS strike in May 2024.[18] Ukrainian officials reported the downing of numerous Su-34 aircraft in February and March 2024, although ISW cannot verify these reports or Ukrainian StratCom's figures concerning Su-34, Su-35, and Su-25 aircraft.[19] The downing of Russian aircraft, especially critical aircraft like the A-50 and Il-22, has previously temporarily constrained Russian aviation activities over occupied Ukraine, but Ukrainian forces have yet to be able to significantly attempt to contest the air domain.[20] Ukrainian officials have routinely highlighted a need for additional air defense assets and advanced fighter aircraft in order to significantly contest the air domain and pursue air parity with Russian forces.[21] Russian forces have exploited continued constraints on Ukraine's air defense umbrella to field Russian tactical aircraft regularly along the frontline that conduct widespread glide bomb strikes against Ukrainian positions in support of ongoing Russian offensive operations.[22]

Many Russian elites have reportedly shifted from criticizing Russia's war effort in Ukraine to supporting it because they assess that Russia is prevailing. Russian opposition journalist and founder of Russian opposition television channel TV Rain Mikhail Zygar reported in a June 28 Foreign Affairs article that many Russian elites who were opposed to the war in 2022 started to support the war in 2023 because they "believe Russia is prevailing [in the war]" given Russia's slow but steady battlefield gains, a persisting Ukrainian munitions disadvantage, and perceived "waning" Western security assistance to Ukraine.[23] One unspecified Russian oligarch who previously criticized the war reportedly told Zygar that Russia must win the war otherwise "they won't allow us to live... and Russia would collapse." Zygar reported that Russian elites have even started speculating about war outcomes that would constitute a Russian victory. ISW cannot independently verify any of Zygar's reports. Zygar's statements are consistent with ISW's assessment that Russian elites came to heel behind Russian President Vladimir Putin in support of the war following intensified crackdowns against the Russian elite after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Zygar's report that Russian elites are now assessing that Russia can prevail on the battlefield and are even discussing a Russian victory indicates that elites may also be supporting Putin's stated theory of victory, which posits that Russian forces will be able to continue gradual creeping advances indefinitely, prevent operationally significant Ukrainian counteroffensive operations, and eventually win a war of attrition.[24]

Russian officials called for harsher punishments in Russia's criminal system, likely in response to the recent terrorist attacks in Dagestan. Russian Investigative Committee Head Alexander Bastrykin stated at the International Youth Legal Forum in St. Petersburg on June 28 that Russia should consider lifting the moratorium on the death penalty for certain, unspecified cases.[25] Head of the Russian Constitutional Court Valery Zorkin stated on June 26 that the Constitutional Court considers the return of the death penalty to be inadmissible within the framework of the current constitution, but Bastrykin suggested on June 28 that a presidential decree may be able to lift the moratorium without changing the constitution.[26] Bastrykin claimed that the March 2024 Crocus City Hall terrorist attack demonstrates the need for the return to the death penalty and complained that a defendant could receive the death penalty for the murder of at least two to three people during the Soviet Union, but the terrorists that conducted the Crocus City Hall attack that killed over 100 people will receive a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.[27] Russian Justice Minister Konstantin Chuychenko stated on June 28 that the Ministry of Justice recently prepared a bill that would designate forced labor as the main punishment for more than 65 crimes.[28] Chuychenko claimed that forced labor is a "more humane" form of punishment than imprisonment and reduces recidivism.[29] Bastrykin claimed on June 27 that migrant crime is spreading in Russia and called for stricter migration policies, prompting widescale xenophobic support for Bastrykin's statements from Russia's ultranationalist milbloggers.[30] Other Russian officials called for the return of the death penalty in the days following the March 2024 Crocus City Hall attack, and Bastrykin is likely renewing these appeals in response to the June 23 terrorist attacks in Dagestan.

Russia may be creating a shadow fleet to transport Russian liquified natural gas (LNG) and circumvent Western sanctions. Bloomberg reported on June 27 that there is evidence that Russia is creating a shadow fleet to transport Russian LNG in similar ways to how Russia created a shadow fleet to avoid the G7 price cap on Russian crude oil.[31] Bloomberg reported that a little-known company in Dubai has acquired at least eight vessels in the past three months and that Russia has reportedly already granted four of these vessels permission to traverse Russian Arctic waters in Summer 2024. At least three of the eight vessels reportedly list their insurers as "unknown," a common tactic tankers carrying Russian crude oil have used to skirt the G7 price cap. Bloomberg noted that it cannot independently connect these vessels to major Russian entities directly. The latest EU sanctions package from June 24 forbids EU entities from providing reloading services of Russian LNG in EU territory for transshipment operations to third countries.[32]

Key Takeaways:

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin directed on June 28 the production and deployment of nuclear-capable short- and intermediate-range missiles following the American withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty in 2019, likely as part of the Kremlin's ongoing reflexive control campaign to influence Western decision making in Russia's favor.
  • Ukrainian forces reportedly struck an oil depot in Russia on June 28 and reportedly struck a microelectronics plant and a military unit on the night of June 27 to 28.
  • The Ukrainian Armed Forces Center for Strategic Communications (StratCom) reported on June 28 that Ukrainian forces have damaged or destroyed more than 30 Russian military aircraft in the first six months of 2024, although ISW cannot confirm this report fully.
  • Many Russian elites have reportedly shifted from criticizing Russia's war effort in Ukraine to supporting it because they assess that Russia is prevailing.
  • Russian officials called for harsher punishments in Russia's criminal system, likely in response to the recent terrorist attacks in Dagestan.
  • Russia may be creating a shadow fleet to transport Russian liquified natural gas (LNG) and circumvent Western sanctions.
  • Ukrainian forces recently regained lost positions near Vovchansk and Kreminna, and Russian forces recently advanced near Chasiv Yar.
  • Russian opposition outlet Vazhnye Istorii used Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat) data to estimate that over 71,000 Russian men died in the war in Ukraine in 2022 and 2023.
 

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 27, 2024

Click here to read the full report.

Riley Bailey, Christina Harward, Grace Mappes, Angelica Evans, and Frederick W. Kagan

June 27, 2024, 8:25pm ET

Note: The data cut-off for this product was 12:45pm ET on June 27. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the June 28 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.

Russian forces have sustained the tempo of their offensive operations in the Toretsk direction since activating in the area on June 18 and likely aim to reduce a Ukrainian salient in the area, but there is little current likelihood of rapid Russian gains near Toretsk. Russian forces have committed only limited forces to this operation so far, which suggests that Russian forces continue to prioritize gradual advances through consistent grinding assaults over operationally significant gains through rapid maneuver. Russian forces increased the intensity of their assaults in the Toretsk direction (southwest of Chasiv Yar and northeast of Avdiivka) on the night of June 18 after being generally inactive on this sector of the front so far in 2024.[1] Russian forces have so far conducted mainly frontal infantry-heavy assaults on small settlements south and east of Toretsk and have yet to conduct any significant mechanized assaults in the area.[2] Russian forces have yet to make any notable tactical gains in the area. Russian forces have sought to exploit how renewed Russian offensive operations in northern Kharkiv Oblast have drawn and fixed Ukrainian forces from other sectors of the frontline to pursue gains in critical frontline areas, particularly in Donetsk Oblast.[3] It is noteworthy, however, that Russian forces have recently intensified operations in a previously inactive sector of the front instead of their efforts to advance in the Pokrovsk direction (west of Avdiivka) or to seize the operationally significant town of Chasiv Yar.[4] The further Russian forces advance in the Chasiv Yar area and northwest of Avdiivka without making similar gains in the Toretsk direction, the deeper the Ukrainian salient in the Toretsk direction would become, offering Ukrainian forces an area from which to conduct routine fire against immediate rear areas of the Russian advance in the Chasiv Yar and Avdiivka directions. A deeper salient in the Toretsk area would also leave Russian forces more vulnerable to significant Ukrainian counterattacks on the southern front of the Chasiv Yar direction and the northern front of the Avdiivka salient. Russian offensive operations near Toretsk likely aim to reduce the threat posed by this Ukrainian salient while Russian forces continue to pursue gains in the Avdiivka and Chasiv Yar directions.

Russian offensive operations in the Toretsk direction suggest that the Russian military command does not consider a large-scale operation to advance towards Kostyantynivka from multiple operational directions feasible. Kostyantynivka is the southern edge of a belt of four major Ukrainian cities that forms the backbone of Ukraine's defense of Donetsk Oblast, and Russian forces have long sought to seize cities within this Ukrainian fortress belt.[5] Russian forces made relatively rapid tactical gains northwest of Avdiivka in April 2024, and ISW assessed at that time that Russian forces may have intended to advance northward along the H-20 (Donetsk City-Kostyantynivka) highway towards Kostyantynivka from the south to support future offensive operations from Chasiv Yar towards Kostyantynivka from the east. [6] Russian forces have not succeeded in seizing Chasiv Yar or making further significant tactical gains into the town in recent months, however, and the rate of Russian advance northwest of Avdiivka has since slowed significantly.[7] A Russian operation to advance north along the H-20 highway and westward from Chasiv Yar would also have pursued the operational envelopment and encirclement of the Ukrainian grouping in the Toretsk area, a considerable undertaking that Russian forces have routinely failed to achieve against other Ukrainian force groupings throughout the full-scale invasion.[8] Continued Russian offensive operations west and southwest of Avdiivka and the continued Russian focus on advancing northwest of Avdiivka towards the T0504 (Kostyantynivka-Pokrovsk) highway instead of further north of the Avdiivka salient suggests that Russian forces currently aim to advance westward towards Pokrovsk instead of pursuing operations that could support a wider operation to seize Kostyantynivka from the south and east. The Russian military command may intend for operations in the Toretsk direction to support an envisioned push from Chasiv Yar towards Kostyantynivka in a narrower offensive operation to seize the city. Russian forces may alternatively have no intention of making significant tactical gains in the Toretsk direction and may hope that offensive operations in the area will apply pressure on Ukrainian forces along a wider front in Donetsk Oblast and facilitate gains in the Chasiv Yar and Avdiivka directions.

Russian forces have so far committed limited combat power to their offensive operations in the Toretsk direction and will struggle to make significant tactical gains in the area without significant reinforcement. Elements of the Russian 132nd Motorized Rifle Brigade (1st Donetsk People's Republic [DNR] Army Corps [AC]) and 1436th and 1st motorized rifle regiments of Russia's Territorial Troops are operating in the Toretsk direction — significantly less combat power than what the Russian military has committed to the Chasiv Yar and Avdiivka directions.[9] DNR and Russian Territorial Troops also tend to be less combat effective than more conventional or formerly elite Russian units and formations, although it is unclear to what extent this differential remains given the overall degradation of the quality of all Russian units and formations.[10] It is possible that other Russian elements are fighting in the Toretsk direction but have not been identified yet, but DNR and Russian Territorial Troop elements appear to be the main forces currently fighting in the area. Toretsk is roughly the same size as Chasiv Yar, and elements of a brigade and two regiments are very likely insufficient for an operation to seize the town. The arrival or commitment of Russian reinforcements in the area would be an indicator that Russian forces intend for operations in the Toretsk direction to be more tactically significant than diversionary. Even if Russian forces were able to succeed in seizing Toretsk, however, advances beyond the settlement would be equally if not more difficult given the open terrain and large water features to the north and northwest. ISW currently assesses rapid Russian tactical gains in the Toretsk direction to be unlikely. Russian forces may nonetheless intend to conduct consistent offensive operations in the area to pursue creeping tactical gains as they are throughout the theater.

Slow grinding Russian offensive operations in the Toretsk direction are in line with Russian President Vladimir Putin's articulated theory of victory that posits 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.[11] 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 Russian forces may accept the prospect of conducting offensive operations for months to seize Toretsk and advance northwestward towards Kostyantynivka.[12] The Russian military command likely hopes that offensive pressure in the Toretsk direction will aid its efforts to prevent Ukraine from accumulating the personnel and resources Ukraine needs to contest the theater-wide initiative, and this objective may supersede any specific territorial operational objective that Russian forces have in the Toretsk area.[13] 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.

Ukraine signed long-term security agreements with the European Union (EU), Lithuania, and Estonia on June 27. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and European Council President Charles Michel signed a security agreement that pledges that the EU will provide 50 billion euros ($53.5 billion) worth of support to Ukraine through the Ukraine Facility program from 2024-2028, long-term defense cooperation, and urgent consultations within 24 hours of any future aggression against Ukraine.[14] The Ukrainian-Estonian agreement pledges that Estonia will allocate at least 0.25 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) to military support for Ukraine from 2024–2027 and long-term Estonian assistance to Ukraine in the form of artillery, anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), missiles, mines, grenade launchers, drones, and electronic warfare (EW) systems.[15] The Ukrainian-Lithuanian agreement pledges that Lithuania will allocate 0.25 percent of its GDP to military support for Ukraine annually.[16]

Russian officials and information space actors continue to frame migrants as a threat to Russian society amid ongoing efforts to utilize migrant communities to address Russia's force generation needs. Russian Investigative Committee Head Alexander Bastrykin claimed during the St. Petersburg International Legal Forum on June 27 that migrant crime is spreading across Russia and intensifying in various Russian federal subjects, including Moscow and St. Petersburg.[17] Bastrykin claimed that migrants committed 38,936 crimes in Russia in 2023 and that an increased percentage of crimes committed by migrants were "especially serious" and "extremist" crimes.[18] Bastrykin advocated for a change in Russia's migration policy and suggested that Russia should strictly regulate migration and hold employers responsible for the actions of their employees who are migrants. Bastrykin claimed that Russian officials have identified and registered 30,000 recently naturalized migrants for military service since October 2023 and sent 10,000 of these recently naturalized migrants to the "special military operation zone" in Ukraine.[19] Bastrykin claimed that the migrants are digging trenches, building fortifications, and replenishing rear Russian units. Bastrykin claimed that the Russian Constitution requires naturalized Russian citizens to register for military service and participate in the war in Ukraine if necessary. The legal mechanism that the Russian government is using to recruit and deploy recently naturalized migrants to Ukraine is unclear and is unlikely to be part of Russia's existing conscription system or reserve mobilization system. The Russian government may be offering naturalized migrants the opportunity to sign a contract for military service or volunteer units in order to avoid deportation or jail time.

Russian milbloggers seized on Bastrykin's speech to levy increasingly xenophobic criticisms against migrants. Several Russian milbloggers praised and defended Bastrykin's recommendation to restrict Russia's migration policy and criticized other Russian officials for not taking steps to address Russia's ongoing migration issues.[20] One milblogger insinuated that labor migrants are stealing job opportunities from ethnic Russians.[21] Another milblogger called on Russian authorities to increase penalties for migration violations, while another Russian source claimed that Russian authorities should confiscate Russian passports from any recently naturalized migrants who refuse to fight in Ukraine.[22] A Russian milblogger blamed Russia's migration policy for the perceived recent growth in terrorism and extremism in Russia and amplified a statement that Russian authorities should bury Islamic terrorists with a pig's head in order to defile their bodies.[23] ISW previously assessed that the recent likely Islamic State (IS) affiliated Wilayat Kavkaz terrorist attacks in the Republic of Dagestan on June 23 have increased fears within the Russian information space about further terrorist attacks and instability in the North Caucasus.[24] The IS also claimed responsibility for a mass shooting and bombing at the Crocus City Hall concert venue in Moscow in March 2024.[25] The terrorist attacks coupled with Bastrykin's speech appear to have encouraged increased xenophobic rhetoric within the ultranationalist Russian information space, which, alongside exploitative force generation efforts, may be exacerbating the radicalization of migrants. A Russian insider source recently claimed that Dagestan's force generation efforts caused practitioners at a government-friendly mosque to move to a more radical mosque with alleged Wahhabi connections, where the June 23 attackers were supposedly radicalized.[26] ISW continues to assess that Russian force generation efforts and ultranationalist rhetoric are alienating minority and Muslim-majority communities in Russia and generating animosities that Salafi-Jihadi groups can exploit in recruitment efforts.[27]

The Kremlin may be using indirect means to bypass Russian law and codify a state ideology that emphasizes Russia's "traditional" social values while attempting to increase Russia's birth rate. Russian Deputy Minister of Justice Vsevolod Vukolov stated on June 27 that Russian State Duma deputies are preparing a bill to ban the so-called "child-free" "ideology," which Vukolov claimed promotes the "extremist" idea that women "do not need to give birth" and "can do without children."[28] Vukolov claimed that the ban is necessary to encourage higher birth rates - echoing Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent emphasis on Russia's demographic crisis.[29] Vukolov also stated that the Ministry of Justice is preparing a draft presidential decree that will include the concept of "traditional values" in the official "normative dictionary" of the Russian language, which the Russian government publishes every five years and describes the norms of the Russian language.[30] Vukolov claimed that officially defining "traditional values" will allow Russia to avoid having to "defend itself against Western manuals."[31] Russian authorities have previously designated non-existent organizations meant to encompass broad "social movements" as "extremist," most notably with the ban of the "LGBT Movement" and the "Anti-Russian Separatist Movement" in November 2023 and June 2024, respectively.[32] Russian President Vladimir Putin also declared 2024 the "Year of the Family" and used his annual New Year's address in December 2023 to emphasize the Russian family as the "backbone" of Russia.[33] The Russian Constitution forbids Russia from proclaiming a state ideology and commits the Russian state to recognize ideological diversity, yet select Russian officials have called for Russia to codify a state ideology.[34] The Kremlin may be attempting to circumvent the official ban on a state ideology and signal its envisioned, desired ideology by instead identifying the concepts that do not comply with this ideology and defining core concepts of this ideology in official platforms outside of the constitution. ISW previously assessed that the Kremlin is highly aware of the potential for ethnic, religious, and national tensions to prompt discontent in Russia and is therefore unlikely to codify an explicit state ideology in the short term.[35]

There is currently no evidence supporting recent reports that North Korea may be sending engineering forces to rear areas of occupied Ukraine, and ISW has been unable to locate the North Korean confirmation that some Western amplifications allege has been made. Western news outlets circulated reports that North Korea is planning to send engineering forces to occupied Ukraine, largely citing a June 25 statement from Pentagon Spokesperson Major General Pat Ryder.[36] Ryder stated that he questions a hypothetical North Korean decision to send "forces to be cannon fodder" in Russia's war in Ukraine, and the reports implied that Ryder's statement confirms that North Korea is sending engineering forces to Ukraine.[37] Ryder did not confirm these reports, however; Ryder was responding to a question claiming that the North Korean Central Military Commission "confirmed" the report, and Ryder himself hedged his answer by stating that "that's something to keep an eye on."[38] ISW has been unable to find any such statement by the North Korean Central Military Commission. The most recent press release from the North Korean Central Military Commission is from its Vice Chairperson Pak Jong Chon on June 24, in which Pak expresses support for Russia in its war in Ukraine but does not confirm any force deployments to Ukraine.[39] Similar statements from North Korean officials mentioning Russia or Ukraine since June 21 also do not mention any force deployments.[40] As ISW has recently reported, the original report regarding North Korean engineering troops deploying to Ukraine came from South Korean television network TV Chouson, which reported on June 21 that an unspecified South Korean government official stated that South Korea expects North Korea to dispatch engineering forces for reconstruction efforts in occupied Donetsk Oblast.[41]

At this time, all actors involved have either explicitly denied or refused to confirm reports that North Korea may be sending engineering forces to support Russia in occupied Ukraine. Claims that such reports are "confirmed" by US officials are inaccurate. Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated on June 27 that the Kremlin is unfamiliar with recent reports that North Korea may send engineering units to occupied Ukraine.[42] US Department of State Spokesperson Matthew Miller was also asked on June 26 about the alleged North Korean troop deployments, which the question described as having been officially "announced," but Miller responded that he does not "have any specific comment" and that he "had not seen that report."[43] ISW will continue to monitor North Korea's evolving relations with and military assistance to Russia, including continued provision of weapons for use in Ukraine and speculation of force deployments to Ukraine.

Western media reported that the US, Israel, and Ukraine are discussing the transfer of up to eight Israeli Patriot air defense systems set to retire to Ukraine according to unnamed sources, some of which also caution that the transfer may not occur.[44] The Financial Times (FT) and the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on June 27, citing multiple people briefed on the negotiations, that the US, Israel, and Ukraine are actively negotiating a deal to send the eight Patriots first from Israel to the US then from the US to Ukraine and that senior officials and ministers have engaged in the negotiations process.[45] FT and the WSJ noted that Israel previously said it would retire these Patriots but has not yet done so due to fears that the Israel-Hamas war may escalate. Four sources told FT that even though Israel is negotiating the transfer of all eight Patriots, Ukraine may not receive all eight Patriots.[46] FT and its sources did not provide further information about this deviation.

Key Takeaways:

  • Russian forces have sustained the tempo of their offensive operations in the Toretsk direction since activating in the area on June 18 and likely aim to reduce a Ukrainian salient in the area, but there is little current likelihood of rapid Russian gains near Toretsk. Russian forces have committed only limited forces to this operation so far, which suggests that Russian forces continue to prioritize gradual advances through consistent grinding assaults over operationally significant gains through rapid maneuver.
  • Slow grinding Russian offensive operations in the Toretsk direction are in line with Russian President Vladimir Putin's articulated theory of victory that posits 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
  • Ukraine signed long-term security agreements with the European Union (EU), Lithuania, and Estonia on June 27.
  • Russian officials and information space actors continue to frame migrants as a threat to Russian society amid ongoing efforts to utilize migrant communities to address Russia's force generation needs.
  • The Kremlin may be using indirect means to bypass Russian law and codify a state ideology that emphasizes Russia's "traditional" social values while attempting to increase Russia's birth rate.
  • There is currently no evidence supporting recent reports that North Korea may be sending engineering forces to rear areas of occupied Ukraine, and ISW has been unable to locate the North Korean confirmation that some Western amplifications allege has been made.
  • Russian forces recently marginally advanced near Siversk, Avdiivka, and Donetsk City.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin held a meeting on the long-term future of the Russian Navy and Russian shipbuilding on June 26 and noted that the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) plans to introduce more than 40 new ships and vessels to the Russian Navy in 2024.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 26, 2024

click here to read the full report

Riley Bailey, Grace Mappes, Angelica Evans, Karolina Hird, and Frederick W. Kagan

June 26, 2024, 7pm ET

Note: The data cut-off for this product was 12:30pm ET on June 26. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the June 27 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.

The likely Islamic State (IS) affiliate Wilayat Kavkaz terrorist attacks in the Republic of Dagestan on June 23 have increased fears within the Russian information space about further attacks and instability in the North Caucasus. Russian sources, including prominent Kremlin-affiliated milbloggers and Russian opposition media, amplified reports of two armed men firing on police in Makhachkala on the evening of June 25 and amplified footage of the alleged gunmen and gunfire in the area.[1] Kremlin newswire TASS reported that police deployed to central Makhachkala and cordoned off select areas, but Dagestan's Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) stated that it did not introduce an "interception" plan to apprehend the alleged gunmen.[2] Dagestan's MVD reported on June 25 that police received reports about an armed man in central Makhachkala but that the reports were false and that there were no violations of public order in the city.[3] Many Russian sources amended their earlier reports to label the shooting as fake and claimed that the footage was from the June 23 terrorist attacks and not the evening of June 25.[4] The apparent widespread misreporting of the shooting and the relatively heavy police response to the false reports suggests heightened fear and expectations in the Russian information space that there will be further terrorist attacks in the North Caucasus.

The Kremlin is attempting to maintain a veneer of stability and normalcy in response to the Dagestan terror attack and posture Russia's alleged multiethnic and multi-religious unity but is likely so far failing to reassure the public that there will not be further attacks.[5] The March 2024 Crocus City Hall terrorist attack in Moscow and increasingly frequent Russian counterterrorism operations in the North Caucasus have previously prompted tensions within the Russian information space, exacerbated by calls for increased controls on migration to Russia, appeals to Russia's multiethnic and multi-religious makeup, and outright xenophobia and racism.[6] The Kremlin has struggled to balance its appeals to anti-migrant Russian ultranationalists, its reliance on recruiting migrants for its war effort in Ukraine, and its need for migration to address labor shortages within Russia.[7] Heightened fears about religious extremism will further complicate the Kremlin's efforts to balance between these competing priorities. A Russian insider source directly commented on this nexus in response to the Dagestan attacks and claimed that Dagestan's force generation efforts caused practitioners at a government-friendly mosque to turn to a more radical mosque with alleged Wahhabi connections.[8] ISW has previously assessed that Russian force generation efforts and Russian ultranationalist rhetoric are alienating minority and Muslim-majority communities and generating animosities that Salafi-Jihadi groups can exploit in recruitment efforts.[9]

The June 23 terrorist attacks in Dagestan also prompted Chechen Republic Head Ramzan Kadyrov to double down on his image as a ruthless autocratic strongman capable of protecting the North Caucasus from religious extremism. Kadyrov held a meeting with Chechen law enforcement agencies on June 25 in connection with the Dagestan attacks and called on Chechens to be especially vigilant and prevent their relatives from succumbing to religious extremism.[10] Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s North Caucasus service Kavkaz Realii reported that Kadyrov stated in Chechen that Chechen authorities would kill the relatives of those suspected of Wahhabism in a "blood feud."[11] Kadyrov has routinely threatened the family members of those he deems a threat to his control over Chechnya.[12] Kadyrov appears to be attuned to heightened Russian fears about further attacks and is posturing himself as an attentive and ruthless strongman who can prevent instability in the North Caucasus. Kadyrov invoked the memory of the Chechen wars of the 1990s and 2000s and claimed that his father, Akhmad, and Russian President Vladimir Putin prevented "international" efforts to use Chechnya to destroy Russia.[13] Akhmad Kadyrov supported Russian forces in the Second Chechen War (1999–2002), in which the Russian military brought Chechen separatism to heel through excessive force including the almost complete destruction of Chechnya's capital, Grozny.[14] Kadyrov has long modeled himself in the image of his father, a strongman loyal to the Kremlin and whom the Kremlin can rely on to ensure stability in the region.[15] Kadyrov consistently appeals to Putin's favor and is likely aware that further terrorist activity in the North Caucasus may threaten his standing with the Kremlin.[16] Kadyrov also claimed that religious extremism is emanating from Europe and suggested that outside actors aided the Dagestan attackers, supporting Kremlin efforts to tie the attacks to the war in Ukraine while also downplaying the threat of an endogenous religious extremism threat in the North Caucasus.[17]

North Korea will reportedly send military construction and engineering forces to participate in "reconstruction work" in occupied Donetsk Oblast as early as July 2024.[18] South Korean TV network TV Chosun, citing a South Korean government official, reported on June 21 that South Korea expects North Korea to dispatch a large-scale engineering force to occupied Donetsk Oblast as early as July 2024 and that the force will help rebuild infrastructure in occupied Donetsk City.[19] The North Korean military reportedly operates 10 engineering brigades, and TV Chosun estimated that North Korea could earn up to $115 million in unspecified foreign currency each year from Russia if it dispatches three or four engineering brigades to occupied Ukraine.[20] Pentagon Press Secretary Major General Pat Ryder stated on June 25 that the US will "keep an eye" on this development and suggested that North Korea should "question" its decision to send its forces to be "cannon fodder" in Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine.[21] Russia and North Korea signed a comprehensive strategic partnership agreement on June 19, but Russian President Vladimir Putin later attempted to downplay the importance of the agreement and the possibility of North Korean troops serving in Ukraine.[22] ISW noted that Russia appears to be pursuing a coalition of friendly states with historically warm ties to the Soviet Union, including North Korea and Vietnam, to form the basis of an alternative world order.[23] ISW has yet to observe reporting that suggests that North Korean military personnel intend to participate in combat operations in Ukraine, but direct North Korean engineering support can free up Russian combat power for operations along the frontline and aid Russian efforts to expand military infrastructure and defensive fortifications in occupied Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated that Russia is not interested in any negotiations that do not result in Ukrainian territorial concessions beyond the parts of Ukraine Russian forces already occupy. Lavrov gave a speech at the “Primakov Readings” international political and economic forum on June 26 and claimed that Russia is open to dialogue with Europe only “based on the recognition of territorial realities enshrined in the [Russian Constitution],” while also dismissing Western calls for the war to end with the restoration of all of Ukraine’s legal sovereign territory.[24] Lavrov is referring to Russian constitutional provisions that consider the administrative boundaries of Kherson, Zaporizhia, Donetsk, and Luhansk oblasts as Russian territory, and Lavrov's comments emphasize that the Kremlin sees any negotiations on Ukraine’s terms as both unconstitutional and irreconcilable with Russian law. This all-or-nothing approach echoes Russian President Vladimir Putin’s June 14 demands for Ukraine to “completely withdraw” from the entirety of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhia oblasts before Russia considers any sort of “peace negotiations” — notably including areas of each oblast that Russia does not currently occupy.[25] Both Lavrov and Putin have clearly articulated that the only end-state of the war that the Kremlin envisions is Ukraine’s territorial capitulation, strongly emphasizing the fact that Russia remains uninterested in engaging in negotiations with Ukraine in good faith, and only invokes the concept of “peace plans” and “negotiations” to convince Ukraine’s partners to encourage Ukraine to make preemptive concessions about its people and its internationally-recognized territory even before negotiations begin. Lavrov's explicit mention of negotiations with "Europe" rather than Ukraine also forwards the Kremlin's ongoing false narrative that there are no legitimate Ukrainian authorities with whom Russia can negotiate, further undermining Ukraine's status as a sovereign country with its own borders in the context of territorial concessions.

New Russian Defense Minister Andrei Belousov used his first phone call with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on June 26 to reiterate standard Russian threats meant to coerce the US out of supporting Ukraine as part of the wider Russian reflexive control campaign targeting Western decision-making.[26] The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that Belousov stressed to Austin the “danger of further escalation” should the US continue to supply weapons to Ukraine, while the US Department of Defense (DoD) noted that Austin emphasized to Belousov the importance of maintaining open communication between the US and Russia.[27] Russian officials have consistently attempted to use vague threats of escalation against the US and Ukraine’s other partners to discourage continued Western military support for Ukraine, and Belousov’s statements to Austin fall in the same category as countless other Russian efforts at informational and diplomatic coercion.[28] Belousov’s predecessor, former Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, similarly threatened French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu during a phone call on April 4, warning that the potential deployment of French troops to Ukraine would “create problems for France itself.”[29] Shoigu notably called several NATO defense ministers in October 2022 to threaten nuclear disaster if NATO members sustained support for Ukraine.[30] Belousov will continue using pseudo-diplomatic engagements with his Western counterparts to further the same narrative in an attempt to influence Western decision-making via the Kremlin’s reflexive control campaign. Russia has notably yet to escalate militarily in response to any US or Western provision of weapons to Ukraine.[31]

Russia and Ukraine exchanged 90 prisoners of war (POWs) each in a one-to-one POW exchange on June 25 amid United Nations (UN) reports of Russia's continued abuse of POWs. Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada Human Rights Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets stated on June 25 that 90 Ukrainian POWs returned to Ukraine in the 53rd POW exchange thus far during the war.[32] The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) also reported that 90 Russian POWs returned to Russia, and the MoD claimed that the Russian POWs were in "mortal danger" while in Ukrainian custody.[33] The United Arab Emirates (UAE) mediated the exchange. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Spokesperson Krzysztof Janowski stated on June 26 that the UN OHCHR has interviewed over 600 released Ukrainian civilians and POWs since 2022, all of whom reported experiencing or observing torture, severe beatings, and prolonged exposure to stressful positions, and being mauled by dogs.[34] POWs also reported that Russian guards psychologically tortured them and forced them to sing patriotic Russian songs daily and reported experiencing constant hunger and poor medical care for long periods of time. OHCHR reported also hearing accounts of torture in “transitory" POW camps in occupied Ukraine, but POWs reported that Russian guards did not torture them in “official“ internment camps. ISW has extensively reported on footage and reports of Russian servicemen abusing and executing Ukrainian POWs and noted that the Russian military command appears to be permitting these war crimes in Ukraine.[35]

Russia and Iran signed a memorandum on June 26 regarding the supply of Russian gas to Iran, following reported disagreements between Russia and the People's Republic of China (PRC) on the Russian supply of gas to the PRC. Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom Head Alexey Miller signed the memorandum with the National Iranian Gas Company in Iran at a ceremony attended by Acting Iranian President Mohammad Mokhber.[36] Miller also met with Iranian Oil Minister Javad Owji about implementing the new memorandum and other areas of energy cooperation. Neither Russia nor Iran provided details about the new memorandum, but Gazprom and the National Iranian Gas Company were negotiating unspecified deals worth about $40 billion as of October 2023.[37] Miller's visit to Iran and agreement with the National Iranian Gas Company follows a recent Financial Times (FT) report that Russia and the PRC are reportedly in disagreement about economic issues including the Power of Siberia 2 (PS-2) gas pipeline, resulting in Miller not travelling with Russian President Vladimir Putin to Beijing in May 2024 — likely aimed at extracting concessions from Russia given Gazprom's recent economic struggles and the PRC's upper hand in the energy sphere.[38] Iran may benefit from this new deal with Russia to reduce its reliance on existing gas swap deals it has with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan to mitigate summer electricity shortages that could fuel domestic unrest.[39]

Ukraine’s pervasive shortage of critical air defense missiles is inhibiting Ukraine’s ability to protect its critical infrastructure against Russian strikes. Private Ukrainian energy enterprise DTEK Executive Director Dmytro Sakharuk told the Kyiv Post on June 26 that for every one interceptor missile that Ukraine possesses to defend against Russian strikes on the energy grid, Russia has five to six missiles to launch at Ukraine.[40] Sakharuk noted that if Russia were to launch 10 missiles at any target in Ukraine, Ukrainian forces would need to respond with at least 12 air defense missiles to adequately protect against the attack. Sakharuk emphasized that the stark difference in Ukraine's necessary and actual ratios of Ukrainian air defense to attacking Russian missiles means that the shortage in interceptor missiles is making it impossible to cover energy grid units that Ukraine has repaired or is repairing. Russia’s air strike campaign against the Ukrainian energy grid has already imposed serious constraints on Ukraine’s power generation capacity, and Russian forces have been able to exploit air defense shortages caused by a lack of Western-provided air defense systems to maximize the damage to Ukraine’s energy capacity over the course of 2024.[41]

Key Takeaways:

  • The likely Islamic State (IS) affiliate Wilayat Kavkaz terrorist attacks in the Republic of Dagestan on June 23 have increased fears within the Russian information space about further attacks and instability in the North Caucasus.
  • The June 23 terrorist attacks in Dagestan also prompted Chechen Republic Head Ramzan Kadyrov to double down on his image as a ruthless autocratic strongman capable of protecting the North Caucasus from religious extremism.
  • North Korea will reportedly send military construction and engineering forces to participate in "reconstruction work" in occupied Donetsk Oblast as early as July 2024
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated that Russia is not interested in any negotiations that do not result in Ukrainian territorial concessions beyond the parts of Ukraine Russian forces already occupy.
  • New Russian Defense Minister Andrei Belousov used his first phone call with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on June 26 to reiterate standard Russian threats meant to coerce the US out of supporting Ukraine as part of the wider Russian reflexive control campaign targeting Western decision-making
  • Russia and Ukraine exchanged 90 prisoners of war (POWs) each in a one-to-one POW exchange on June 25 amid United Nations (UN) reports of Russia's continued abuse of POWs.
  • Russia and Iran signed a memorandum on June 26 regarding the supply of Russian gas to Iran, following reported disagreements between Russia and the People's Republic of China (PRC) on the Russian supply of gas to the PRC.
  • Ukraine’s pervasive shortage of critical air defense missiles is inhibiting Ukraine’s ability to protect its critical infrastructure against Russian strikes.
  • Russian forces recently marginally advanced near Kupyansk.
  • Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) published a report on June 26 detailing a significant increase in Russia's military equipment and weapons production in 2023.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 25, 2024

Click here to read the full report.

Nicole Wolkov, Grace Mappes, Christina Harward, Karolina Hird, and Frederick W. Kagan

June 25, 2024, 7pm ET 

Two major international bodies—the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) — announced decisions on June 25 confirming Russia's long-term perpetration of war crimes and human rights violations in Ukraine. The ICC's Pre-Trial Chamber II (the chamber in charge of the ICC's Ukraine-related investigations and prosecutions) announced on June 25 that it had issued arrest warrants for former Russian Defense Minister and current Security Council Secretary Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the Russian General Staff Army General Valery Gerasimov for "the war crime of directing attacks at civilian objects" in Ukraine.[1] The ICC noted that there is reasonable evidence to believe that both Shoigu and Gerasimov bear individual responsibility for the war crimes of causing incidental harm to civilians and damage to civilian objects and the crime of inhumane acts, both of which are violations of the Rome Statute. The ICC also emphasized that even in the case of Russian forces targeting "installations that may have qualified as military objectives at the relevant time," the incidental civilian harm was excessively weighed against the expected military advantage—contrary to the international legal principle of proportionality.[2] The ICC concluded that there are reasonable grounds to believe that Shoigu's and Gerasimov's military decision-making intentionally inflicted serious bodily harm and suffering on Ukraine's civilian population.

The ECHR's Grand Chamber also ruled on June 25 that Russia has committed various human rights violations in Crimea since the beginning of its illegal occupation of the peninsula in February 2014.[3] The ECHR found that Russian officials and forces in Crimea committed numerous violations of the European Convention of Human Rights, including violations of the right to life, prohibition of inhumane or degrading treatment, right to liberty and security, right to no punishment without law, right to respect for private and family life, right to freedom of religion, right to freedom of expression, right to freedom of assembly, right to property, right to education, and right to freedom of movement, among other human rights violations. The ECHR's ruling emphasized that the evidence that the Ukrainian government has provided to the court amounts to "a pattern or system of violations" perpetrated by Russia in Crimea. The decision is the first in which any international legal body has recognized Russia's widescale and systemic violation of human rights spanning over a decade in occupied Crimea.[4]

Russia and Venezuela signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) aimed at countering "coercive measures," likely to demonstrate to the West that the Kremlin holds influence in the Western hemisphere. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Venezuelan Foreign Minister Yvan Gil met on June 11 during the BRICS summit and signed the MOU, which the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) described as an intent to develop a joint strategy combating "unilateral coercive measures" through informational channels and diplomatic means. Both Venezuela and Russia offered oddly limited details regarding the specifics of the MOU.[5] The Venezuelan MFA announced the MOU on its social media accounts on June 11 but deleted the announcement from its official website, and the Russian MFA reported on the original Lavrov-Gil meeting on June 11 but did not announce the MOU until June 25.[6] The MOU itself is also vague; the Russian MFA's readout of the MOU does not define "unilateral coercive measures."[7] This Russian-Venezuelan MOU and Russian posturing in South America follows a Russian naval port call to and military exercises near Havana, Cuba on June 12-17, after which the Russian navy was rumored to stop in Venezuela.[8] The Kremlin has recently indicated its interest in expanding cooperation with Venezuela, and the Kremlin likely intends for this new MOU to forward Russian narratives about a new multipolar world in a country that does not identify with the Russian World (Russkiy Mir) or alternative "Eurasian security architecture" rhetorical lines.[9]

Ukrainian forces conducted a drone strike on a Russian ammunition depot in Voronezh Oblast on June 25 and recently conducted strikes on Pantsir-S1 air defense systems in Belgorod Oblast with unspecified weapons. Ukraine's Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported on June 25 that it struck a field ammunition depot in Olkovatka, Voronezh Oblast, and geolocated footage published on June 25 shows a smoke plume near Olkovatka.[10] Russian opposition outlet Astra reported that an unspecified source stated that GUR conducted the strike with two drones and that the drones struck two ammunition warehouses that held over 3,000 shells.[11] Radio Liberty published satellite imagery from June 25 showing at least two fires at the Olkhovatka ammunition depot.[12] Voronezh Oblast Governor Alexander Gusev claimed that unspecified explosives detonated far from civilian buildings in Olkhovatsky Raion after Ukrainian forces conducted strikes on two unspecified cities.[13]

The Ukrainian National Guard reported on June 25 that Ukrainian forces struck two Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft systems in the Kharkiv direction on unspecified dates.[14] The Ukrainian National Guard posted photos of the aftermath of the strikes, which were geolocated to near Dubovoe (just south of Belgorod City) and Borisovka (west of Belgorod City).[15] Ukrainian forces reportedly struck the Pantsir system in Dubovoe on June 22.[16] It is unclear what munitions Ukrainian forces used to strike the Pantsir systems, however. A Ukrainian OSINT Telegram account geolocated the position of the Pantsir system near Dubovoe in January 2024 after footage appeared of the air defense system repelling a Ukrainian missile strike — suggesting that Russian forces have not moved the Pantsir system in the past six months.[17]

Russia imposed countersanctions against 81 European Union (EU)-based news outlets on June 25 following EU sanctions against four Russian state-affiliated news outlets on June 24.[18] The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) announced that it had blocked access to EU-based media outlets, including: Germany's Der Spiegel and Die Welt; Denmark's Berlingske; Spain's El MundoEl Pais, and EFE;  Italy's La Repubblica; Poland's Belsat; France's Le MondeRadio France, and Agence France-Presse (AFP); Estonia's EER and Delfi; and more general sites including Politico's European service, Svoboda Satellite Package, and EU Observer.[19] The Russian MFA noted that these sanctions are specifically in response to the EU blocking Kremlin-affiliated news sites RIA Novosti, Rossiskaya Gazeta, and Izvestia, but did not mention the new EU sanctions against the Voice of Europe — the joint venture of Kremlin-affiliate Artem Marchevsky and former pro-Russian Ukrainian MP Viktor Medvedchuk.[20]

Dagestan Republic Head Sergei Melikov ordered investigations into the personal records of senior Dagestani officials following the June 23 likely Wilayat Kavkaz terrorist attacks in Dagestan, indicating that the Kremlin may be intensifying efforts to address Islamist extremist threats in the North Caucasus as it attempts to maintain a veneer of stability and normalcy. Melikov stated in a June 25 address to the People's Assembly of Dagestan that he ordered an audit of the personal files of "everyone who holds leadership positions in Dagestan, including deputies of the People's Assembly."[21] Melikov dismissed Dagestan's Sergokalinsky district head Magomed Omarov on June 24 after Russian sources reported that that two of his sons were identified as two of the Makhachkala attackers whom Russian law enforcement killed during the attack.[22] Russian security services reported on June 25 that they detained Omarov and Russian law enforcement reported that Omarov may face charges of aiding terrorists.[23] A Russian insider source claimed that the Kremlin is "reconsidering its approach" to preventing extremism in the North Caucasus and "raising more questions" about Melikov who has yet to curb the "growing radical sentiment among [Dagestan's] youth" following the June 23 Dagestan terrorist attacks.[24] ISW assessed that the Kremlin is attempting to maintain a veneer of stability and normalcy in response to the Dagestan terror attack and posture Russia's alleged multiethnic and multi-religious unity.[25] Russian milbloggers widely criticized local officials who they claimed are aware of rising extremism and also criticized Dagestani youth policy for its alleged endorsement of youth mixed martial arts fight clubs, which they claim breeds extremist ideology.[26] Russian milbloggers' outrage at Dagestani authorities is a tacit admission that they are not interested in amplifying the Kremlin's efforts to link the June 23 Dagestan terrorist attacks to external actors such as Ukraine or the West.

The European Union (EU) officially started accession negotiations for Ukraine and Moldova on June 25.[27] Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib also noted that the EU Council has approved the draft for a joint EU-Ukraine security agreement in addition to opening accession negotiations.[28]

Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan met with Lithuania-based Belarusian opposition leader Svitlana Tsikhanouskaya on June 20 in Vilnius amid deteriorating Armenian-Belarusian relations.[29] Armenian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ani Badalyan published images of the meeting on X (formerly Twitter) on June 20.[30] Tsikhanouskaya's press service reported that she and Mirzoyan discussed cooperation between "Belarus' democratic forces" and Armenia's government, parliament and civil society."[31] Tsikhanouskaya also stated that the people of Armenia and Belarus "deserve a free, democratic, and European future."[32] The Armenian MFA's decision to publicize Mirzoyan's meeting with Tsikhanouskaya is a public indication of Armenian outrage at Belarusian actions. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan directly accused Belarus of helping Azerbaijan prepare for the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War on May 22 after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko stated during his May 2024 state visit to Azerbaijan that he and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev conversed before the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War and concluded that Azerbaijan could be victorious.[33] Politico reported on June 13, citing leaked documents, that Belarus provided Azerbaijan with artillery equipment, electronic warfare (EW) systems, and drones between 2018 and 2022, which Azerbaijan reportedly used in recent conflicts in Nagorno-Karabakh and against Armenia.[34]

Key Takeaways:

  • Two major international bodies—the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) — announced decisions on June 25 confirming Russia's long-term perpetration of war crimes and human rights violations in Ukraine.
  • Russia and Venezuela signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) aimed at countering "coercive measures," likely to demonstrate to the West that the Kremlin holds influence in the Western hemisphere.
  • Ukrainian forces conducted a drone strike on a Russian ammunition depot in Voronezh Oblast on June 25 and recently conducted strikes on Pantsir-S1 air defense systems in Belgorod Oblast with unspecified weapons.
  • Russia imposed countersanctions against 81 European Union (EU)-based news outlets on June 25 following EU sanctions against four Russian state-affiliated news outlets on June 24.
  • Dagestan Republic Head Sergei Melikov ordered investigations into the personal records of senior Dagestani officials following the June 23 likely Wilayat Kavkaz terrorist attacks in Dagestan, indicating that the Kremlin may be intensifying efforts to address Islamist extremist threats in the North Caucasus as it attempts to maintain a veneer of stability and normalcy.
  • Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan met with Lithuania-based Belarusian opposition leader Svitlana Tsikhanouskaya on June 20 in Vilnius amid deteriorating Armenian-Belarusian relations
  • Ukrainian forces recently regained lost positions in Vovchansk, and Russian forces recently advanced near Siversk and Avdiivka.
  • A Russian milblogger claimed that the Russian Volunteer Society for Assistance to the Army, Aviation, and Navy of Russia (DOSAAF) will begin training unspecified Russian military personnel on October 1, 2024.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 24, 2024

Click here to read the full report.

Christina Harward, Nicole Wolkov, Grace Mappes, Kateryna Stepanenko, and Frederick W. Kagan

June 24, 2024, 10:30pm ET 

Note: The data cut-off for this product was 2:30pm ET on June 24. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the June 25 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.

Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Head Lieutenant General Kyrylo Budanov stated that Western military assistance is arriving in Ukraine, but that it will likely not arrive at a scale that will significantly impact the frontline situation until at least mid to late July 2024. Budanov stated in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer conducted on June 12 or 13 and published on June 23 that US and European weapons deliveries, including artillery ammunition, are arriving in Ukraine at a faster pace than several months ago but noted that Ukrainian forces need a high volume of weapons and "there is a question of volume."[1] Budanov stated that "no Armageddon will emerge [on the frontline]" but that the frontline situation will remain difficult for at least one month. Ukrainian First Deputy Defense Minister Lieutenant General Ivan Havrylyuk also recently stated on June 15 that Ukrainian forces are still waiting for most of the military assistance that the US passed in late April 2024 to arrive in Ukraine, but that limited amounts of US security assistance arrivals have reduced Russia's artillery shell advantage from seven-to-one to five-to-one.[2] 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.[3]

Budanov stated that a sufficient quantity of US-provided long-range ATACMS missiles could allow Ukrainian forces to strike the Russian-built Kerch Strait Bridge in occupied Crimea and sever an important Russian ground line of communication (GLOC) between occupied Crimea and Russia.[4] Budanov stated that Ukraine could isolate occupied Crimea, which the Russian military uses as a rear staging area, by conducting long-range ATACMS missile strikes against the Kerch Strait Bridge. The Russian military continues to use Crimea's GLOCs to transport military personnel, weapons, materiel, and fuel from Russia to the frontlines in Ukraine and reinforced its air defense umbrella to cover occupied southern Ukraine from Crimea.[5] Ukrainian officials have recently stated that Russian forces have reduced their military logistics transport across the Kerch Strait Bridge, presumably due to efforts to establish logistics lines connecting mainland Russia and occupied Crimea through occupied southern Donetsk, Zaporizhia, and Kherson oblasts, but the Kerch Strait Bridge likely remains essential to maintaining Russia's occupation of Crimea.[6] Ukrainian long-range strikes against the Kerch Strait Bridge would sever an important GLOC for Russian forces based in occupied Crimea and likely complicate their ability to maintain their occupation of and basing within the peninsula. The destruction of the bridge would force Russian military to rely on the long route along northern coast of the Sea of Azov and exacerbate vulnerabilities for Ukrainian forces to exploit along the Russian main GLOC.

Current US policy regarding Ukraine's use of Western-provided weapons allows Ukraine to strike anywhere within Russian-occupied Ukraine, which presumably includes using long-range ATACMS to strike the portion of the Kerch Strait Bridge within Ukraine's internationally recognized land and maritime borders.[7] ISW assesses that 13 kilometers of the Kerch Strait Bridge — which Russian authorities built without Ukraine's approval following Russia's illegal occupation of the peninsula in 2014 — are within Ukraine's internationally recognized territorial waters. The US policy on the Ukrainian ATACMS use, therefore, technically should allow Ukrainian forces to strike at least a section of the bridge if not the entire bridge. Pentagon Spokesperson Major Charlie Dietz also notably stated on June 24 that “Ukraine makes its own targeting decisions and conducts its own military operations."[8] Then–US State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert stated on May 15, 2018, that the US condemns Russia's construction and partial opening of the Kerch Strait Bridge, that the bridge "serves as a reminder of Russia’s ongoing willingness to flout international law," and represents Russia's attempt to "solidify its unlawful seizure and its occupation of Crimea."[9]

Kremlin officials absurdly attempted to link the June 23 Ukrainian strikes on legitimate military targets in occupied Sevastopol, Crimea and the likely Islamic State (IS) affiliate Wilayat Kavkaz terrorist attack in the Republic of Dagestan. Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated on June 24 that Russian President Vladimir Putin sympathizes with those who lost loved ones from both the Ukrainian missile strike on Sevastopol and the terrorist attack in Dagestan.[10] Peskov also stated that the Russian investigative bodies will determine whether the strike on Crimea and the terrorist attack in Dagestan were one series of incidents or separate incidents.[11] Russian Security Council Deputy Chairperson Dmitry Medvedev and Russian Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) Head Leonid Slutsky labeled both events as "terrorist attacks."[12] Russian State Duma Chairperson Vyacheslav Volodin claimed that it is possible that the "customers" (or entities that ordered these attacks) of both the Crimea strikes and the Dagestan terrorist attack "will be the same."[13] Russian opposition outlet Verstka reported on June 24 that pro-Kremlin bots left over 1,400 comments on Russian social media platform VKontakte claiming that the US and Ukraine organized the terrorist attack in Dagestan — echoing the Russian Ministry of Defense's (MoD) claim that the US was responsible for the Ukrainian strike on occupied Sevastopol.[14]

The Kremlin information operation linking these two events is nonsensical if only because the civilian casualties in Crimea resulted from Russia's interception of an incoming ATACMS missile rather than a deliberate Ukrainian targeting decision. The Russian MoD acknowledged that a Russian air defense interceptor caused the Ukrainian missile to deviate from its flight path and detonate in Sevastopol.[15] An unspecified US official also told Reuters in a June 24 article that Russian forces were able to intercept the ATACMS missile targeting a Russian missile launcher causing the ATACMS missile to explode and rain down shrapnel on the Sevastopol beach.[16]  Russian officials have also offered no evidence for their claims of Ukrainian or American involvement in the Dagestan terrorist attack.

The Kremlin is attempting to maintain a veneer of stability and normalcy in response to the Dagestan terror attack. Peskov stated that Putin does not plan to make a special address concerning the strikes in Sevastopol or the attack in Dagestan — in contrast to Putin's March 25 lengthy speech following the terrorist attack at Crocus City Hall in Moscow.[17] Peskov responded to a journalist asking if the Kremlin fears the return of the situation of the early 2000s (presumably referencing a series of terrorist attacks in Russia, including the 2002 Nord-Ost siege, 2004 Moscow Metro bombing, and 2004 Beslan school siege), stating that the Kremlin does not fear a return to this situation as Russia is different now and Russian society is "absolutely consolidated" in its lack of support for terrorist attacks in Dagestan or Russia in general.[18] Dagestan Head Sergei Melikov stated that the terrorist attack against Dagestan's "brotherhood, multinational unity, and confessional indivisibility" is an attempt to divide Dagestan but "this [division] will not happen."[19] The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) claimed that the terrorists in Dagestan were attempting to create interreligious discord but that Russia will continue its fight against terrorism.[20] Chechen Akhmat Spetsnaz Commander Apty Alaudinov similarly claimed that the attack aimed to cause interreligious conflict but that other Russian regions, such as Chechnya, have already proven that Russia can effectively resist such conflicts.[21] The Kremlin has repeatedly promoted the idea that Russia is a harmonious multinational and multireligious state, despite increasing xenophobic rhetoric from Russia's vocal ultranationalist community and growing societal tensions.[22] This Kremlin facade of normalcy and stability also ignores the October 2023 antisemitic riots in Dagestan (including in Makhachkala, one of the locations of the June 23 attack), the March 2024 Crocus City Hall terrorist attack in Moscow, and the increasingly frequent counterterrorism operations in the North Caucasus.[23]

The European Union (EU) adopted its 14th package of sanctions against Russia on June 24, including new restrictions against Russian funding to political parties and other "opinion-forming" organizations and Russian state media broadcasts within the EU. The new EU sanctions package prohibits EU actors that "form part of the public opinion forming process," including political parties, foundations, alliances, non-governmental organizations, think tanks, and media service providers within the EU from accepting donations, financing, or other economic benefits or support "from Russia, either directly or indirectly."[24] The EU cites Russia's continued propaganda and disinformation campaigns to undermine Ukrainian sovereignty and independence, justify its war in Ukraine, and influence democratic processes within the EU as reasoning for this specific restriction. The EU sanctions regulation defines these Russian "direct and indirect" entities vaguely as "Russia and its proxies."[25] The EU also implemented a decision on June 24 that it adopted on May 17 to "suspend broadcasting activities of additional media outlets in the Union, or directed at the Union," explicitly including Kremlin news outlets and wires RIA NovostiIzvestiaRossiskaya Gazeta, and Voice of Europe, until "the Russian aggression in Ukraine is brought to an end" and until Russia "and its associated media outlets cease to conduct propaganda actions" in the EU.[26] The EU defines targeted outlets as "media outlets under the permanent direct or indirect control of the [Russian] leadership" and whose propaganda actions are "supporting Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine" and "destabili[zing]" Ukraine's neighboring countries. The EU decision noted that these regulations only apply towards affected organizations' "broadcasting activities" and do not impede journalists' abilities to conduct interviews and research within EU member states. The EU has suspended the "broadcasting activities and licenses" of 18 Kremlin-backed disinformation outlets since 2022.[27] The EU does not define what constitutes "broadcasting activities" within the EU, but Western media has consistently reported that the EU has blocked access to websites of affected media outlets and that search engines and social media sites have also blocked access to sanctioned media organizations under the EU broadcasting bans.[28]

The new EU sanctions package also sanctions 116 new individuals and entities and introduces other sanctions enforcement measures.[29] The new sanctions package targets specific Russian naval vessels and forbids EU entities from providing reloading services of Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG) in EU territory for transshipment operations to third countries. The new sanctions package also introduces restrictions on exporting dual-use goods and requires EU parent companies to undertake "due diligence mechanisms" to assess and identify the risk of exported goods being re-exported to Russia and mitigating these risks.

The EU approved a first tranche of up to 1.4 billion euros (about $1.5 billion) in military assistance for Ukraine from the proceeds of frozen Russian assets.[30] The EU reported that 90 percent of the first payment is dedicated to Ukraine's defense needs and that the remaining 10 percent is dedicated to the EU's support of the Ukraine Facility program, which supports rehabilitation, recovery, and reconstruction in Ukraine. The EU stated that it will begin distributing resources to Ukraine in July 2024 with biannual payments and will review this prioritization annually starting on January 1, 2025. EU High Commissioner Josep Borrell stated that the EU approved this tranche of assistance from frozen Russian assets through a so-called "legal loophole" bypassing Hungary's veto because Hungary abstained from voting on an earlier agreement voting on setting aside the proceeds from Russia's frozen assets and therefore "should not be part of the decision to use this money."[31]

The Kremlin continued efforts to co-opt former Wagner Group personnel by introducing a new bill that would exempt much of the Wagner force from criminal responsibility for their participation in the Wagner armed rebellion on June 23 and 24, 2023. A source told Kremlin newswire TASS on the first anniversary of the Wagner armed rebellion on June 24 that the Russian Government’s Commission on Legislative Activities approved a bill that allows for exempting a participant of an armed rebellion from criminal liability if the participant “helped to prevent further damage” in Russian state interests.[32] The bill proposes changing a footnote to the “High Treason” article in the Russian Criminal Code to offer a possible exemption from criminal liability of armed rebellion if the participant voluntarily cooperated with Russian authorities and did not commit any other crimes. The bill’s explanatory note added that this exemption will motivate participants of armed rebellions to refuse to continue their "illegal actions," presumably referring to crimes in addition to armed rebellion. The bill also proposed to add a new “Armed Rebellion” article in the Russian Criminal Code, which will differentiate between the level of involvement and severity of the consequences for organizing, leading, or participating in a rebellion. The TASS source claimed that the Russian Government’s Commission on Legislative Activities simultaneously approved a bill on toughening criminal penalties up to life imprisonment for organizing or participating in an armed rebellion if the rebellion resulted in the death of a person or unspecified "other grave consequences."[33]

The bill clearly demonstrates three Kremlin objectives: appeasing and possibly blackmailing remaining Wagner personnel into remaining loyal to the Kremlin; erecting a facade that the Kremlin is addressing societal backlash over casualties among defending Russian military personnel during the Wagner armed rebellion; and establishing safeguards to prevent future armed rebellions. A prominent Russian milblogger observed that this bill is clearly related to the anniversary of the Wagner armed rebellion and noted that Russian authorities did not charge any of the Wagner commanders or participants for their involvement in the rebellion.[34] The milblogger noted that this bill will lead to stricter legislation regarding armed rebellions and that the Kremlin had clearly learned a painful lesson from June 2023. The Kremlin notably dropped criminal charges against Wagner commanders and personnel on June 27, 2023, despite the fact that Wagner personnel shot down several Russian military aircraft during the rebellion, killing 13 Russian pilots.[35] Several Russian milbloggers marked the anniversary of the Wagner armed rebellion by celebrating the Wagner Group’s accomplishments and noting that the rebellion revealed serious problems in the Russian military — some of which the milbloggers claimed persist a year after the rebellion.[36]

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky replaced Joint Forces Commander Lieutenant General Yuriy Sodol with Brigadier General Andriy Hnatov on June 24.[37] Zelensky did not offer a reason for Sodol’s dismissal. Hnatov served as deputy commander of the Ukrainian southern theatre since 2022, played an important role in liberating west (right) bank Kherson Oblast, and commanded the defense of Bakhmut in spring 2023.[38]

Key Takeaways:

  • Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Head Lieutenant General Kyrylo Budanov stated that Western military assistance is arriving in Ukraine, but that it will likely not arrive at a scale that will significantly impact the frontline situation until at least mid to late July 2024.
  • Budanov stated that a sufficient quantity of US-provided long-range ATACMS missiles could allow Ukrainian forces to strike the Russian-built Kerch Strait Bridge in occupied Crimea and sever an important Russian ground line of communication (GLOC) between occupied Crimea and Russia.
  • Current US policy regarding Ukraine's use of Western-provided weapons allows Ukraine to strike anywhere within Russian-occupied Ukraine, which presumably includes using long-range ATACMS to strike the portion of the Kerch Strait Bridge within Ukraine's internationally recognized land and maritime borders.
  • Kremlin officials absurdly attempted to link the June 23 Ukrainian strikes on legitimate military targets in occupied Sevastopol, Crimea and the likely Islamic State (IS) affiliate Wilayat Kavkaz terrorist attack in the Republic of Dagestan.
  • The Kremlin is attempting to maintain a veneer of stability and normalcy in response to the Dagestan terror attack.
  • The European Union (EU) adopted its 14th package of sanctions against Russia on June 24, including new restrictions against Russian funding to political parties and other "opinion-forming" organizations and Russian state media broadcasts within the EU.
  • The EU approved a first tranche of up to 1.4 billion euros (about $1.5 billion) in military assistance for Ukraine from the proceeds of frozen Russian assets.
  • The Kremlin continued efforts to coopt former Wagner Group personnel by introducing a new bill that would exempt much of the Wagner force from criminal responsibility for their participation in the Wagner armed rebellion on June 23 and 24, 2023.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky replaced Joint Forces Commander Lieutenant General Yuriy Sodol with Brigadier General Andriy Hnatov on June 24. Ukrainian forces recently regained lost positions near Vovchansk and Starysta, and Russian forces recently advanced near Siversk and Toretsk.
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) proposed depriving all Russian military districts of their status as joint headquarters.

 

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 23, 2024

Click here to read the full report

Karolina Hird, Nicole Wolkov, Angelica Evans, Kateryna Stepanenko, and George Barros

June 23, 2024, 8:30pm ET 

The Islamic State (IS)'s Northern Caucasus branch, Wilayat Kavkaz, likely conducted a complex and coordinated attack against churches, synagogues, and law enforcement structures in the Republic of Dagestan on June 23.[1] Dagestan's Ministry of Internal Affairs reported that unknown actors opened fire on a Russian Orthodox church and a synagogue in Derbent at approximately 1800 local time and then reported within the same hour that another group of unknown actors opened fire on a traffic police post in Makhachkala (120 kilometers north of Derbent).[2] There are also reports of a fire at a synagogue in Makhachkala, although Russian official sources have not confirmed a second synagogue attack.[3] Dagestan announced a counter-terrorism regime following the start of the attacks, and Russian law enforcement killed five of the assailants and wounded six.[4] Social media footage shows Russian law enforcement detaining two suspects on a public beach in Makhachkala after they seemingly fled the scene of the shooting.[5] Russian media reported that seven law enforcement officials, a priest, and a church guard died in the attacks and 25 more individuals have been injured.[6] The Russian National Anti-Terrorism Committee announced the end of the counterterrorism operation in Derbent after the deaths of two suspects but small arms fire exchanges continued in Makhachkala as of 2300 local time on June 23.[7] The Baza Telegram channel claimed that two of the Makhachkala attackers identified as Osman and Adil Omarov, both of whom Russian law enforcement killed, were the sons of Sergokalinsky district head Magomed Omarov.[8] Russian Telegram channels are circulating footage reportedly filmed by Osman Omarov of the Makhachkala synagogue attack.[9] Baza reported that Russian law enforcement has also detained Magomed Omarov and are searching his home. Russian news agency Interfax claimed that Omarov's nephew also took part in the attack and Russian law enforcement killed him.[10]

The Russian branch of IS-K's Al-Azaim Media posted a statement on June 23 following the attack praising "their brothers from the Caucasus" for demonstrating what they were capable of.[11] Al-Azaim did not claim credit for the attack itself, notably, and the reference to the Caucasus strongly suggests that Wilayat Kavkaz is responsible for the attack. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization's (SCO) Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure specifically warned that Wilayat Kavkaz became more active following the March 22 IS-K Crocus City Hall attack and has escalated recruitment appeals in the Northern Caucasus since April 2024.[12] Russian authorities have attempted a lackluster counterterrorism operation in the North Caucasus since March 2024 in order to combat growing IS and Wilayat Kavkaz influence but have largely focused their post-Crocus Hall response on baselessly blaming Ukraine and NATO for the attack.[13] Some Russian officials are already baselessly claiming that Ukraine and NATO are involved in the June 23 attack, emphasizing that Russia's current counterterrorism approach is likely to remain tied up in rhetorical posturing against Ukraine and the West as opposed to identifying and neutralizing IS threats within Russia itself.[14] Russia's increasingly tense relationship with its Muslim minority population, especially in the Caucasus, will likely continue to provide Wilayat Kazkaz and other extremist groups with a valuable recruitment base.[15]

The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) accused Ukrainian forces of conducting a short-range ATACMS strike against occupied Sevastopol on June 23. The Russian MoD claimed on June 23 that Ukrainian forces launched five ATACMS missiles armed with cluster munitions against Sevastopol and that Russian forces intercepted four missiles.[16] The Russian MoD claimed that the impact from a Russian air defense interceptor caused one missile to deviate from its flight path and detonate.[17] The Russian MoD later blamed the United States for civilian casualties in Sevastopol given that the ATACMS are a US-provided system, despite acknowledging that a Russian air defense interceptor caused the missile to deviate from its flight path and detonate. A Crimea-focused Russian milblogger posted footage on the night of June 23 purportedly showing explosions near Yevpatoria and Vityne and claimed that there were explosions near Chornomorske and Mizhvodne.[18] Ukrainian outlet Suspilne Krym reported that its sources also reported explosions in Yevpatoria.[19] Footage published on June 23 purportedly shows civilians on a beach in Sevastopol during and after the missile strike deviated.[20] Russian sources claimed that cluster munitions landed on civilians near a beach in Uchuyevka Park in northern Sevastopol.[21] Sevastopol occupation governor Mikhail Razvozhaev claimed that the strike killed four people and injured 151 people.[22] Ukrainian military officials did not confirm or deny launching strikes against Sevastopol. Ukrainian Mariupol Mayoral Advisor Petro Andryushchenko stated that Ukraine needs to obtain special permission to use ATACMS with cluster munitions from Western partners and claimed that the Russian occupation government is at fault for civilian casualties because it had failed to warn civilians before Russian air defense systems shot down unspecified missiles over their heads.[23] ISW cannot independently verify if Ukrainian forces used ATACMS missiles armed with cluster munitions. The Russian MoD's blaming of the United States for civilian causalities is an attempt to deter the United States from providing further security assistance to Ukraine.

Russian milbloggers widely criticized the Russian MoD and Russia’s occupation authorities in Crimea for failing to prevent the strike and sufficiently protect Russian civilians. Russian sources criticized Russian authorities for not using air raid sirens to alert civilians to seek shelter.[24] Several Russian milbloggers criticized Russian authorities for failing to detect and destroy all the missiles before they approached Sevastopol and for failing to build reinforced shelters within walking distance of the beach, specifically comparing the lack of shelters near this beach in contrast to Russia's efforts to build shelters in Belgorod Oblast near the international border with Ukraine.[25] Footage and imagery indicate that Russian forces have been stationing military equipment in civilian areas in Crimea since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Russian authorities have irresponsibly encouraged Russian tourism to occupied Crimea during wartime while the Russian military continues to leverage the occupied peninsula as a rear staging area.[26] The Russian military likely purposefully stations legitimate military targets nearby civilian areas in Crimea in an effort to deter Ukrainian strikes. Russian forces have been recorded leveraging the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant and schools in occupied mainland Ukraine to shield Russian military equipment.[27] Russia is likely violating its own regulations on the application of International Humanitarian Law, which states that "the military command shall avoid deploying military objectives in densely populated areas or in their vicinity."[28]

Ukrainian forces struck a Russian motorized rifle regiment command post in Nekhoteevka, Belgorod Oblast. The Ukrainian General Staff reported on June 23 that Ukrainian Air Force elements and other Ukrainian units conducted the strike on an unspecified date (likely recently) and caused secondary explosions at the target site.[29] Ukrainian military correspondents shared footage of the strike on June 23.[30] Nekhoteevka is notably directly on the Russia-Ukraine border about 15 kilometers away from the current front line of troops in northern Kharkiv Oblast, so this command post was likely involved in overseeing ongoing Russian offensive operations north of Kharkiv City in some capacity.

Recent drone footage showing a Russian soldier executing a wounded fellow servicemember exemplifies the brutal culture that is pervasive within the Russian Armed Forces.[31] The footage shows one Russian soldier wounded by a first-person view (FPV) drone strike, and the other soldier executing the wounded soldier at point blank range instead of attempting to check the soldier’s injury, attempting treatment, taking his identification tags, or attempting a casualty evacuation. The attempted or deliberate killing of a fellow soldier is unprofessional, and ISW has observed instances of Russian fragging (the deliberate killing of supervisors) and other anecdotes demonstrative of a callous disregard for the lives of Russia’s own soldiers throughout the war thus far, both within Russia and amongst Russian troops on the battlefield.[32] Fragging is generally indicative of extremely poor discipline amongst troops, a disconnect between tactical level commanders and their subordinates, as well as a blatant disregard for human life. A Russian milblogger similarly reported on June 22 that commanders of various Donetsk People's Republic (DNR) units are severely mistreating their wounded subordinates and alleged that the 1st DNR Slavic Brigade (1st DNR Army Corps) is holding its own wounded personnel in prison-like conditions in Donetsk City, instead of providing them with the treatment that they require.[33] Both the fragging incident and the milblogger claims against the DNR command are indicative of a very poor culture within the Russian military, particularly the command's disregard for their subordinates and a generally low level of discipline.

South Korea has adopted a firm approach against Russia in the wake of recently intensified Russo-North Korean cooperation, suggesting that Russian efforts to threaten Seoul into withholding aid from Ukraine have failed. South Korean National Security Director Chang Ho-jin reiterated on June 23 that the type of military support that South Korea will provide to Ukraine is contingent on the depth and evolution of Russian military cooperation with North Korea.[34] Chang previously stated on June 20 that the June 19 Russia-North Korea strategic partnership agreement had encouraged South Korea to change its long-standing policy prohibiting the transfer of arms to Ukraine, and South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported on June 21 that South Korea is now considering sending 155mm artillery shells and unspecified air defense systems to Ukraine.[35] Russian President Vladimir Putin notably attempted to threaten South Korea on June 20, stating that Seoul would be making “a very big mistake” if it decided to supply arms to Ukraine.[36] Russian diplomatic officials have tried to retaliate against Seoul's statement about providing aid to Ukraine and claimed that it is "blackmail" against Russia.[37] The Washington Post reported on June 22, citing data obtained by US think tank Center for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS), that North Korea delivered over 74,000 metric tons of explosives to Russia — equivalent to about 1.6 million artillery shells — between August 2023 and January 2024.[38] The Washington Post reported that these North Korean shipments arrived at 16 sites in Russia, 12 of which were close to known ammunition storage facilities.

The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) detained two former senior employees of the Wagner Group-affiliated Patriot media holding on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the Wagner mutiny. Russian media outlets and insider sources reported that the FSB detained former manager of the Patriot media holding Ilya Gorbunov on June 21 and 22, and editor-in-chief of the St. Petersburg-based online publication Konkretno.ru Kirill Metelev on June 19.[39] Russian insider sources claimed that Gorbunov previously headed the “Troll Factory” belonging to deceased Wagner financier Yevgeny Prigozhin and was responsible for promoting the Wagner mutiny online on June 23 and 24, 2023.[40] Metelev was reportedly a contractor of the Patriot media holding and was responsible for posting defamatory statements online, specifically attacking Prigozhin’s stated enemy St. Petersburg Governor Alexander Beglov.[41] Russian state media attempted to portray these arrests as unrelated to the anniversary of the Wagner mutiny, and Kremlin-run media outlet Izvestia cited an unnamed source in the Russian security structure as saying that these arrests “had nothing to do with Prigozhin.”[42] St. Petersburg local outlet Fontanka reported that Gorbunov and Matelev were detained on the charges of extortion and blackmail for demanding money from a former St. Petersburg TV channel general director Alexander Malkevich.[43] Prigozhin reportedly dissolved Patriot media holding on June 30, 2023.[44]

Key Takeaways:

  • The Islamic State (IS)'s Northern Caucasus branch Wilayat Kavkaz likely conducted a complex and coordinated attack against churches, synagogues, and law enforcement structures in the Republic of Dagestan on June 23.
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) accused Ukrainian forces of conducting a short-range ATACMS strike against occupied Sevastopol on June 23. Russian milbloggers widely criticized the Russian MoD and Russia’s occupation authorities in Crimea for failing to prevent the strike and sufficiently protect Russian civilians.
  • Ukrainian forces struck a Russian motorized rifle regiment command post in Nekhoteevka, Belgorod Oblast.
  • Recent drone footage showing a Russian soldier executing a wounded fellow servicemember exemplifies the brutal culture that is pervasive within the Russian Armed Forces.
  • South Korea has adopted a firm approach against Russia in the wake of recently intensified Russo-North Korean cooperation, suggesting that Russian efforts to threaten Seoul into withholding aid from Ukraine have failed.
  • The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) detained two former senior employees of the Wagner Group-affiliated Patriot media holding on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the Wagner mutiny.
  • Russian forces recently seized Shumy and advanced near Donetsk City and Robotyne.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law on June 22 officially transferring the Cossack Cadet Corps and the Russian Naval Cadet Corps to the jurisdiction of the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD).

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 22, 2024

Click here to read the full report

Angelica Evans, Karolina Hird, Grace Mappes, Nicole Wolkov, and George Barros

June 22, 2024, 7pm ET

Note: The data cut-off for this product was 12:30pm ET on June 22. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the June 23 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.

Russian forces appear to be intensifying the tempo of their offensive operations in Donetsk Oblast while decreasing the rate of attacks in northern Kharkiv Oblast — consistent with ISW's assessment that Russian offensive operations in Kharkiv Oblast are primarily intended to fix and distract Ukrainian forces in order to allow Russian forces to intensify elsewhere in theater. Russian forces increased the intensity of assaults in the Toretsk-Horlivka direction (southwest of Chasiv Yar and northeast of Avdiivka) on the night of June 18 and maintained a relatively high rate of attacks in this area between June 19 to June 22, reportedly making several tactical gains in the area.[1] Russian forces have been generally inactive on this sector of the front throughout the course of 2024, so their activation and intensification are noteworthy. By contrast, the tempo of Russian offensive operations in northern Kharkiv Oblast has drastically decreased in recent days, particularly in comparison with the start of Russian offensive operations north and northeast of Kharkiv City in mid-May 2024.[2] ISW has long assessed that the Russian command intended its offensive operation in Kharkiv Oblast to fix Ukrainian manpower and scarce materiel along the northern border to grant Russian forces opportunities to re-intensify offensive operations in other more critical areas of the theater, particularly in Donetsk Oblast.[3] Ukrainian sources have confirmed that some Ukrainian forces have redeployed units to the Kharkiv direction from Donetsk Oblast, so Russian forces may be exploiting this perceived weakness of Ukrainian lines to intensify attacks, particularly in the Toretsk-Horlivka direction.[4] Russian forces have additionally maintained a high rate of attacks in the Chasiv Yar direction and around Avdiivka since decreasing the tempo in Kharkiv Oblast, and may soon intensify attacks in this area if the Russian command identifies the coming weeks as an advantageous time to push in these areas before Ukrainian forces re-allocate reserves back to Donetsk Oblast. Ukrainian sources have warned that Russia will conduct a summer offensive that will likely focus on Ukraine's east after pursuing offensive operations in the north intended to stretch Ukraine's scarce resources, and recent intensifications in Donetsk Oblast may indicate preparations for such a summer offensive, assuming it has not already begun.[5]

US policy continues to prohibit Ukrainian forces from striking legitimate military targets in Russian territory in range of Ukrainian HIMARS. Recent reporting from the Associated Press and Washington Post indicates that US policy still prohibits Ukraine from striking Russian military targets that are not actively attacking or preparing to attack Ukraine.[6] Pentagon spokesperson Major Charlie Dietz told the Washington Post in a report published on June 21 that the US allows Ukraine to fire US-provided HIMARS equipped with GMLRS into Russia where Russian forces are attacking into Ukraine and that the rules of engagement for US-provided weapons in Russian territory are “not about geography or a certain radius."[7] US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan similarly stated on June 17 that “this is not about geography... If Russia is attacking or about to attack from its territory into Ukraine, it only makes sense to allow Ukraine to hit back against the forces that are hitting it from across the border.”[8] These statements indicate that the US will only allow Ukrainian forces to strike Russian military targets if Russian targets first demonstrate that they are engaged in active combat operations or preparations for imminent combat operations. US restrictions likely force Ukrainian leadership to carefully determine whether or not a given target meets the aforementioned requirements before authorizing tactical fire missions. US policy still perseveres the majority of Russian sanctuary space by prohibiting Ukrainian forces from launching ATACMS missiles at any military targets in Russia.[9] No major Russian military airbases are in range of GMLRS, but many are within range of ATACMS.

Russian forces are exploiting the sanctuary that US policy still protects to support Russian combat operations in northern Kharkiv Oblast and elsewhere in Ukraine. The Russian Northern Grouping of Forces is leveraging the sanctuary to protect Russian brigade command posts and other assets outside of the range of HIMARS equipped with GLMRS north of Kharkiv Oblast. The Associated Press quoted a Ukrainian artillery commander on June 22 who stated that Ukrainian forces could target Russian brigade command points and the entire Russian Northern Grouping of Forces if the US approved Ukraine's use of ATACMS to strike Russian territory but currently cannot because Russia has deployed such command and control elements in an area 100 to 150 kilometers away from the front line.[10] US policy still prohibits Ukraine from using ATACMS anywhere in Russia.[11]

Russian air defenses will reduce the effectiveness of Ukrainian F-16s if the US does not allow Ukrainian forces to use ATACMS to destroy Russian air defense systems in Russian territory. Ukrainian F-16 pilots will have to operate in a dangerous air space if US policy continues to provide a sanctuary in Russia that protects Russian forces from ATACMS. Russian air defenses will be able to cover up to 48 percent of Ukraine’s air space if Russia deploys S-400 air defense launchers within Russia outside of the range of HIMARS armed with GMLRS rockets. Such Russian air defense deployments would complicate Ukraine's ability to use manned fixed-wing airpower closer to frontline areas or against areas from which Russian aircraft, drone, and missile threats emanate. ISW continues to assess that Ukrainian forces may be able to combine fixed-wing airpower in support of ground operations if the Ukrainian military receives a sufficient number of fighter jets, if Western partners train enough skilled pilots, and if Ukraine succeeds in degrading Russian air defense capabilities.[12]

The partial removal of the sanctuary has already had a net positive effect, underscoring the powerful latent potential a larger policy change could achieve. The Washington Post reported that the Biden Administration’s policy change allowing Ukrainian forces to strike into limited parts of Russia in late May 2024 — despite being quite limited — has allowed Ukraine to strike “areas where [Russian] equipment is concentrated and locations from where missile strikes are launched [against Ukraine].” The Washington Post quoted a commander of a reconnaissance battalion of Ukraine’s 57th Brigade who stated that Russia has not conducted a single S-300 missile strike against Kharkiv (it is unclear whether the speaker meant Kharkiv City or Kharkiv Oblast) since the Biden Administration partially removed the sanctuary in late May 2024.[13] The Associated Press reported on June 22 that Ukrainian forces have struck Russian troops and air defense systems within 20 kilometers inside of Russian territory and quoted a Ukrainian artillery commander who stated that Ukrainian forces used HIMARS to destroy Russian columns along the international border that were awaiting orders to enter Ukraine.[14] Kharkiv City Mayor Ihor Terekhov told the Washington Post that the situation in Kharkiv City “massively changed” after the US partially removed restrictions.[15] The Washington Post report noted that Russian glide bomb strikes against Kharkiv Oblast have not decreased, highlighting the need to allow Ukraine to strike Russian air bases and to augment Ukraine’s air defense capabilities. The West maintains the ability to substantially disrupt Russian operations at scale by allowing Ukraine to use Western-provided weapons to strike Russia’s operational rear and deep rear areas in Russian territory.

Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren announced on June 21 that the Netherlands and another unspecified country will supply Ukraine with a Patriot air defense system.[16] Ollongren stated that the Netherlands and the other unspecified country have been working for "some time" to collect the components to form a complete Patriot system. US President Joe Biden recently indicated that the US has secured commitments from five unspecified countries to provide Ukraine with additional Patriots and other air defense systems, and so far, Romania and now the Netherlands have confirmed their participation in this effort.[17]

Russian opposition outlet Vazhnye Istorii reported on a series of leadership changes within the Russian Federal Security Service's (FSB) Fifth Service, which reportedly specializes in collecting intelligence within Russia and the former Soviet Union.[18] Vazhnye Istorii stated on June 22 that a former Russian special services employee and an acquaintance of the FSB's Fifth Service Head Colonel General Sergei Beseda stated that Alexei Komkov replaced Beseda as the head of the FSB's Fifth Service. Vazhnye Istorii stated that Beseda formally retired from his position of Fifth Service Head due to his age and became a personal advisor to Russian FSB Head Alexander Bortnikov. Vazhnye Istorii's sources claimed that Komkov previously worked as Deputy Head of the FSB's counterintelligence service and that Komkov is affiliated with FSB First Deputy Director Sergei Korolev. Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly relied on intelligence from the Fifth Service when launching his invasion of Ukraine.[19]

Western countries have reportedly provided Ukraine with roughly 800 million euros ($855.4 million) worth of Serbian-produced ammunition despite Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić's ongoing efforts to balance favor between Russia and the West. The Financial Times (FT) reported on June 22 that it obtained estimates from an unspecified source that said that third-party countries have sent roughly 800 million euros worth of Serbian-produced ammunition to Ukraine since February 2022 and that Vučić confirmed that this number is "in the right ballpark" during an interview with FT.[20] Vučić clarified that Serbia does not export ammunition to Ukraine or Russia and that Serbia's clients in the US, Spain, and Czechia can allocate the ammunition as they see fit. Unnamed diplomats and analysts told FT that official Serbian government data purposely veils the flow of ammunition to Ukraine via third-party countries.

Satellite imagery confirmed that Ukrainian forces struck at least one Russian air defense training center in Krasnodar Krai during recent strikes on June 20 to 21.[21] Geolocated satellite imagery collected on June 22 shows a destroyed building and scorched fields at an air defense training center west of Yeysk, Krasnodar Krai, and footage shows fires and secondary explosions following the strike.[22] Russian opposition outlet Astra reported on June 21 that Ukrainian strikes damaged barracks and injured nine personnel at the 726th Air Defense Training Center in Vorontsovka, Krasnodar Krai (south of Rostov-on-Don).[23]

Select Russian milbloggers claimed that unnamed actors, implied to be Ukrainians, conducted a strike using ATACMS against Rostov Oblast, although ISW cannot independently confirm these reports.[24] All available media reporting and senior US government officials’ statements strongly suggest that US policy still forbids Ukrainian forces from using US-provided ATACMS missiles to strike military targets anywhere in Russia.[25] ISW continues to assess that the US should allow Ukraine to strike all military targets in Russia's operational and deep rear areas with US-provided weapons.

Key Takeaways:

  • Russian forces appear to be intensifying the tempo of their offensive operations in Donetsk Oblast while decreasing the rate of attacks in northern Kharkiv Oblast — consistent with ISW's assessment that Russian offensive operations in Kharkiv Oblast are primarily intended to fix and distract Ukrainian forces in order to allow Russian forces to intensify elsewhere in theater.
  • US policy continues to prohibit Ukrainian forces from striking legitimate military targets in Russian territory in range of Ukrainian HIMARS.
  • Russian forces are exploiting the sanctuary that US policy still protects to support Russian combat operations in northern Kharkiv Oblast and elsewhere in Ukraine.
  • Russian air defenses will reduce the effectiveness of Ukrainian F-16s if the US does not allow Ukrainian forces to use ATACMS to destroy Russian air defense systems in Russian territory.
  • The partial removal of the Russian sanctuary has already had a net positive effect, underscoring the powerful latent potential a larger policy change could achieve.
  • Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren announced on June 21 that the Netherlands and another unspecified country will supply Ukraine with a Patriot air defense system.
  • Russian opposition outlet Vazhnye Istorii reported on a series of leadership changes within the Russian Federal Security Service's (FSB) Fifth Service, which reportedly specializes in collecting intelligence within Russia and the former Soviet Union.
  • Western countries have reportedly provided Ukraine with roughly 800 million euros ($855.4 million) worth of Serbian-produced ammunition despite Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić's ongoing efforts to balance favor between Russia and the West.
  • Satellite imagery confirmed that Ukrainian forces struck at least one Russian air defense training center in Krasnodar Krai during recent strikes on June 20 to 21.
  • Select Russian milbloggers claimed that unnamed actors, implied to be Ukrainians, conducted a strike using ATACMS against Rostov Oblast, although ISW cannot independently confirm these reports.
  • Russian forces recently advanced near Svatove, Chasiv Yar, and Avdiivka. 
  • Russian law enforcement and security agencies continue working with the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) to recruit those accused of criminal offenses into the Russian military, likely as part of ongoing crypto-mobilization efforts.
 
 

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 21, 2024

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Angelica Evans, Nicole Wolkov, Christina Harward, Karolina Hird, and George Barros

June 21, 2024, 6:30pm ET  

Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to invoke nuclear threats as part of his ongoing information campaign to discourage further Western support for Ukraine and undermine the international community's efforts to cohere its strategic vision for defeating Russia’s war of conquest against Ukraine. Putin claimed during a speech to graduating Russian officers on June 21 that Russia plans to further develop its nuclear triad as a "guarantee of strategic deterrence" and to maintain the balance of power in the world.[1] Putin noted that Russia is also working to increase its conventional combat capabilities and defense industrial production. Putin claimed during a press conference in Vietnam on June 20 that Russia is considering "lowering the threshold" for nuclear use in Russia's nuclear doctrine and that a possible future strategic defeat of Russian forces on the battlefield in Ukraine would result in the "end of [Russia's] statehood."[2] ISW noted that Putin may have falsely equated a Russian defeat in Ukraine with an existential threat to the Russian state in order to invoke an "exceptional case" in which existing Russian nuclear doctrine would allow for the use of nuclear weapons.[3] Putin's June 21 statement appears to be the continuation of his recent information operation intended to sabotage the West's efforts to develop a common strategic objective of decisively defeating Russia’s invasion as the West’s envisioned end state for the war in Ukraine. ISW continues to assess that the threat of nuclear escalation is a core aspect of Russia's ability to manipulate foreign decision-makers and is highly unlikely to result in actual nuclear escalation due to nuclear and conventional deterrence.[4]

Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov continued to emphasize Russia's initiative to create an alternative "Eurasian security architecture," likely as part of ongoing efforts to establish a coalition of friendly states to act as an alternative to the West and undermine NATO. Putin reiterated on June 21 his intention to create "equal and indivisible security in Eurasia."[5] Putin claimed that Russia is ready to discuss Eurasian security issues with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), and BRICS and claimed that Russia is ready to have discussions with European and NATO countries "when they are ready." Lavrov similarly emphasized Russia's effort to form a "Eurasian security architecture to replace... the Euro-Atlantic [security system]" at a June 21 Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) foreign ministers meeting in Almaty, Kazakhstan.[6] Lavrov further promoted the need for joint efforts to create a new Eurasian security architecture and coordination with other unspecified multilateral organizations on the Eurasian continent.[7] Lavrov is likely referencing Russian efforts to increase cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as Putin signaled his interest in developing relations with ASEAN during his state visit to Vietnam on June 20.[8] Putin notably included Vietnam - a country not typically included in political conceptions of Eurasia - in addition to North Korea in his proposed formation of a new Eurasian security system, suggesting that Putin seeks to include Southeast Asia into this alternative Eurasian security structure by leveraging select Southeast Asian countries' historically friendly ties with the Soviet Union. Putin first laid the informational groundwork for this Eurasian security structure during his visit to the People's Republic of China (PRC) in May 2024 before proposing it in a speech on June 14, in which he claimed that the "Euro-Atlantic security system" is collapsing and that Western "schemes for security and prosperity in Europe do not work."[9] ISW continues to assess that Putin and other senior Russian officials will likely continue to amplify Russia's efforts to create a coalition of countries that Putin could use to posture as an alternative to NATO while also supporting ongoing Kremin information operations to falsely portray Western countries as Ukraine's only supporters.[10]

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) criticized South Korean and Japanese objections to the Russian-North Korean strategic partnership agreement and directly tied the agreement to Russian President Vladimir Putin's "Eurasian security architecture" initiative. South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported on June 21 that South Korean government sources stated that South Korea may send 155mm artillery shells and unspecified air defense systems to Ukraine, after South Korean National Security Director Chang Ho-jin stated on June 20 that South Korea would respond to the Russian-North Korean agreement by reconsidering its policy preventing it from sending aid to Ukraine.[11] The South Korean MFA summoned Russian Ambassador to South Korea Georgiy Zinovyev on June 21 to urge Russia to stop its military cooperation with North Korea.[12] Zinovyev accused South Korea of trying to "threaten and blackmail" Russia and that Russia's cooperation with North Korea is not directed against any other country and claimed that Russian-North Korean cooperation helps strengthen stability on the Korean peninsula.[13] Director of the Russian MFA's Third Department for Asia Lyudmila Vorobyova met on June 21 with Director of the Japanese MFA's Europe Department Masashi Nakagome following the introduction of a new round of Japanese sanctions targeting Russia.[14] The Russian MFA claimed that the Japanese sanctions are the "next step towards the complete destruction" of Russian-Japanese relations, which the Russian MFA claimed are at an all-time low.[15] The Russian MFA claimed that Russia would respond to the sanctions with "tough and painful countermeasures." The Russian MFA responded to Nakagome's protests about the Russian-North Korean strategic partnership by outlining Putin's June 14 initiative for the creation of "a new continent-wide security architecture" in Eurasia.

Ukrainian forces struck oil refineries and military targets in Bryansk and Astrakhan oblasts, Krasnodar Krai, and occupied Crimea on the night of June 20 to 21. The Ukrainian General Staff reported on June 21 that Ukrainian drones targeted the Afipsky, Ilsky, and Krasnodar oil refineries in Krasnodar Krai and the Astrakhan oil refinery in Astrakhan Oblast and conducted strikes on unspecified Russian radar and electronic warfare (EW) stations in Bryansk Oblast and occupied Crimea on the night of June 20 to 21 and that Ukrainian forces are still conducting a battlefield damage assessment.[16] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces also struck a Shahed-136/131 storage facility, military training facilities, and several drone communication and control posts in Krasnodar Krai. The Krasnodar Krai Operational Headquarters reported that Ukrainian drones struck unspecified targets in Temryuk and Yeysk Raions and the Ilsky oil refinery in Seversk Raion and that debris from a Ukrainian drone fell near Volna.[17] The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that Russian air defenses destroyed six Ukrainian naval drones in the Black Sea, 70 drones over Crimea, and 43 drones over Krasnodar Krai on the night of June 20 to 21.[18] Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces launched the drones in several waves of drone strikes beginning on the evening of June 20 and warned that Ukrainian forces may conduct more large-scale drone strikes in the near future.[19] The Ukrainian General Staff also confirmed that Ukrainian forces and Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) conducted successful drone strikes against the Tambovnefteprodukt fuel and lubricant warehouse in Tambov Oblast and the Lukoil-Yugnefteprodukt "Enemska" oil depot in Adygea Republic on the night of June 19 to 20, as ISW reported.[20]

Russian milbloggers reported that Ukrainian forces simultaneously used naval and aerial drones during the Krasnodar Krai strike and overwhelmed Russian defenses, causing a Russian air defense system to accidentally shoot down a Russian helicopter in a friendly fire incident. Several Russian milbloggers claimed on June 21 that Russian friendly fire destroyed a Russian Ka-29 helicopter and the helicopter's crew while defending against Ukrainian drone strikes near Krasnodar Krai.[21] The milbloggers claimed that Russian forces were using helicopters to search for Ukrainian naval drones while Russian air defense systems were simultaneously attempting to shoot down Ukrainian aerial drones and that a Russian Pantsir air defense system accidentally downed a Russian helicopter, reportedly due to a malfunction in the system's Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) system.[22] The milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces have previously used missiles to similarly overload Russian air defenses and criticized the Russian military for not improving its IFF systems to prevent these incidents.

Moscow State University (MGU) announced on June 21 that it has opened enrollment for a master's program on "strategic communications, information, and hybrid wars" under the guidance of Russian ultranationalist and former State Duma Deputy Zakhar Prilepin and other select Duma deputies.[23] MGU stated that the master's program has been part of the political science faculty since 2022, but that it is now being offered in an improved and "modernized form," and that Prilepin's team and other Duma deputies will participate in developing and presumably teaching the course. Graduates of the two-year program will receive a master's in "Conflictology" and learn about "national information sovereignty and countering the operations of hybrid, cognitive, and intellectual wars."[24] MGU admitted its first cohort of students to this program in 2022, but later reportedly ended the program in December 2023 due to financial concerns.[25] MGU's June 21 announcement, however, suggests that the university has been able to restart the program under the supervision of prominent ultranationalist voices such as Prilepin. ISW previously noted that the MGU master's program was likely intended to teach and promote Russian objectives for the war in Ukraine, setting multi-generational conditions to strengthen the ideology underpinning Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.[26]

Key Takeaways:

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to invoke nuclear threats as part of his ongoing information campaign to discourage further Western support for Ukraine and undermine the international community's efforts to cohere its strategic vision for defeating Russia’s war of conquest against Ukraine.
  • Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov continued to emphasize Russia's initiative to create an alternative "Eurasian security architecture," likely as part of ongoing efforts to establish a coalition of friendly states to act as an alternative to the West and undermine NATO.
  • The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) criticized South Korean and Japanese objections to the Russian-North Korean strategic partnership agreement and directly tied the agreement to Russian President Vladimir Putin's "Eurasian security architecture" initiative.
  • Ukrainian forces struck oil refineries and military targets in Bryansk and Astrakhan oblasts, Krasnodar Krai, and occupied Crimea on the night of June 20 to 21.
  • Moscow State University (MGU) announced on June 21 that it has opened enrollment for a master's program on "strategic communications, information, and hybrid wars" under the guidance of Russian ultranationalist and former State Duma Deputy Zakhar Prilepin and other select Duma deputies.
  • Russian forces recently advanced southeast of Kupyansk, southwest of Svatove, and west and southwest of Donetsk City.
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) appears to be taking steps to address known bureaucratic issues as part of its efforts to formalize irregular Russian formations.
  • An investigation by Russian opposition outlet Verstka highlights how Russia is importing Russian judges to serve in courts in occupied Ukraine, supporting Russian efforts to control the judiciary while also providing a convenient cover for the resettlement of Russian citizens into occupied Ukraine.

 

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 20, 2024

click here to read the full report

Christina Harward, Kateryna Stepanenko, Angelica Evans, Karolina Hird, and George Barros

June 20, 2024, 8:30pm ET 

Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a major information operation during his recent visit to North Korea and Vietnam on June 18 and 19 aimed at sabotaging efforts by Ukraine's partners to clearly define a common strategic objective and strategy to decisively defeat Russia’s illegal war of conquest in Ukraine. Ukraine’s partners undertook several important steps in mid-June to cohere a common strategy and define the desired strategic outcome of the war. Over 80 Western and international officials recently established a principled position on supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity as the foundation of lasting peace in Ukraine in a communique adopted during the Ukraine-led Global Peace Summit on June 16.[1] Ukraine also signed security agreements with the United States and Japan for 10 years on June 13, and numerous partner states reaffirmed their long-term support for Ukraine within the Group of 7 (G7) and the Ramstein formats.[2] US President Joe Biden stated that the United States will continue supporting Ukraine so that Ukraine “has victory and that Russia does not prevail” when discussing the US-Ukraine security agreement.[3] Putin’s strategy for winning the war relies on the Kremlin’s ability to mislead the United States, the European Union, and Ukraine’s international allies into ceasing support for Ukraine and abandoning key principles of international law – respect for state sovereignty and the inviolability of territorial integrity.[4] Allied strategic clarity and commitment to enabling Ukraine to decisively defeat Russia on the battlefield in Ukraine greatly undermines Putin’s center of gravity – and his ability to shape the will and decisions of allied decision makers.

Putin implicitly threatened to use nuclear weapons if the West enables Ukraine to decisively defeat Russia in order to undermine the international community's cohering strategic vision of support for Ukraine. Putin stated in a press conference on June 20 following his trip to North Korea and Vietnam that Russia is considering making changes to its nuclear doctrine, claiming that Russia is aware that an unnamed “potential adversary” is working on new elements “related to lowering the threshold nuclear weapon use."[5] Putin’s statement was likely partly in response to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s June 17 remarks that NATO members are discussing increased nuclear readiness in the face of growing threats from Russia and China, even though Stoltenberg did not discuss lowering the threshold for nuclear weapon use.[6] The Russian 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, and Putin notably defined Russia’s possible strategic defeat in Ukraine as the “end of [Russia’s] statehood” following his mention of lowering thresholds for nuclear weapon usage.[7] Putin added that a defeat on the battlefield would signify the end of the “thousand-year history” of the Russian state and that Russia is better off fighting until the end. Putin’s rhetoric deliberately aims to present Russia’s aggression in Ukraine as an existential war for Russia’s sovereignty, and Putin likely invoked the possibility of lowering the threshold for nuclear weapon use to imply that he reserves the right to use nuclear weapons if his forces are decisively defeated on the frontlines in order to deter Ukraine’s allies from reaching a common strategic objective of decisively defeating Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — an outcome which is in the West’s interests.[8]

Putin’s nuclear threat is part of an ongoing Kremlin nuclear blackmail campaign aimed at dissuading Ukraine’s allies from decisively committing to defeating Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and is therefore highly unlikely to result in actual nuclear escalation. A Russian strategic defeat in Ukraine does not threaten Russia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity (but it can threaten the stability of Putin's regime). The Kremlin did not engage in nuclear escalation following Russia’s devastating defeats around Kyiv, Kharkiv, or Kherson oblasts in 2022, and these defeats certainly did not threaten Russian sovereignty or territorial integrity. Putin’s own nuclear threats have been riddled with contradictions since 2022. Putin claimed that Ukraine was not aggressive towards Russia but was threatening the occupied “Donbas republics” before Putin illegally annexed them.[9] Putin also noted in his discussion of the potential changes to the Russian nuclear doctrine that Russia does not need the ability to launch a preventative nuclear strike. Both of these statements are incompatible with the notion that Russia is fighting an existential war. Putin 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 after Ukrainian forces struck Belgorod Oblast with HIMARS armed with GMLRS.[10] ISW has also routinely assessed that the threat of a nuclear escalation will continue to be the core asset of Russia’s ability to manipulate the perceptions of foreign decision makers via its reflexive control campaign.[11] ISW continues to assess that Russia cannot defeat Ukraine or the West — and will likely lose — if the West mobilizes its resources to resist the Kremlin.[12]

South Korea responded to the Russian-North Korean comprehensive strategic partnership agreement on June 20 and stated that it would reconsider its previous ban on sending lethal military assistance to Ukraine. South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported that South Korean National Security Director Chang Ho-jin stated that South Korea will reconsider its stance on sending aid to Ukraine following the Russian-North Korean agreement and that South Korea is "grave[ly] concerned" and condemns the agreement.[13] South Korea has notably had a long-standing policy that prevents it from directly transferring arms into active conflict zones—a policy that has forced South Korea to send artillery shells to Ukraine via indirect transfers using third party intermediary states.[14] Chang also noted that any Russian military-technical cooperation with North Korea violates a series of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions and will result in unspecified corresponding retaliatory measures from South Korea. Chang stated that South Korea will also sanction four ships, five organizations, and eight individuals involved in the transfer of weapons and oil between Russia and North Korea in response to the agreement. North Korean state outlet Korean Central News Agency published the full text of the agreement on June 20, which includes provisions for "immediate military and other assistance... in the event of an armed attack by any state of several states" and "joint activities to strengthen [each country's] defense capabilities... to prevent war."[15] Several Russian and South Korean sources noted that the agreement is almost identical to the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance that the Soviet Union and North Korea signed in 1961.[16]

Russian President Vladimir Putin simultaneously attempted to downplay aspects of the Russia-North Korea agreement potentially in response to South Korea's concerns during a June 20 press conference in Vietnam. Putin reiterated several times during the press conference that the Russian-North Korean agreement mirrors the language of a previous security agreement that both countries signed in 1961 and that the agreement is only a "reproduction" of the terms of the 1961 agreement.[17] Putin stated that South Korea has "nothing to worry about" regarding the new agreement as long as South Korea does not perpetrate acts of aggression against North Korea. Putin threatened, however, that it would be a "very big mistake" for South Korea to supply lethal weapons to Ukraine and that Russia would take unspecified actions in response to such a policy. Putin claimed that the new agreement's clause on providing mutual security assistance does not apply to the war in Ukraine because Ukraine committed acts of aggression towards the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics (DNR/LNR) before Russia illegally annexed the territories and that Russia hopes that this agreement will be a "restraining factor" that prevents the situation on the Korean peninsula from intensifying. Putin also claimed that Russia has not asked anyone to "use [their] capabilities" in Ukraine and no one has offered to help Russia in this way, insinuating that there is no threat of third parties getting militarily involved in Ukraine. Putin may have tempered his rhetoric about Russia's June 19 agreement with North Korea in order to quell South Korean concern about the agreement and lull South Korea into reassurance and away from reconsidering its policy on aiding Ukraine. ISW has previously observed that Russia at times seems to be trying to mend its relationship with South Korea to mitigate the impacts of a growing relationship with North Korea, and Putin may have followed up his visit to North Korea with such statements in an effort to appease Seoul.[18]

Putin also used the press conference to reiterate a series of known information operations feigning Russia's interest in good faith negotiations with Ukraine, including by characterizing Russia's offensive operation into Kharkiv Oblast as solely defensive. Putin claimed that he expected the West to reject his June 14 demands for Ukraine's capitulation as a prerequisite for his envisioned peace negotiations and suggested that Russia has previously unsuccessfully presented these demands during "behind-the-scenes negotiations."[19] Putin claimed that "sensible politicians" will realize that Putin's demands for Ukraine to "completely withdraw" its forces from the administrative borders of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia, and Kherson oblasts and officially abandon its intention to join NATO are "realistic" and acceptable conditions for peace. Putin’s terms for Ukraine’s capitulation violate the basic principles of the United Nations Charter and other cornerstones of international law. Putin stated that any peace negotiations predicated on Russia withdrawing its forces from occupied Ukraine will "never happen." Russian officials made similar claims about how Kherson City would “forever” remain in Russian occupation before Russian forces abandoned Kherson City in November 2022.[20] Putin reiterated his claims that Russia remains open to peace negotiations to end the war in Ukraine, placing the onus on Ukraine and the West for the lack of progress toward peace negotiations despite the fact that Russian officials, including Putin, continue to publicly signal that they are unwilling to participate in good faith peace negotiations with Ukraine.[21] Putin also reiterated claims that Russian forces are conducting offensive operations in the Kharkiv direction to defend Belgorod Oblast from Ukrainian shelling and that Russian forces have "no goals of approaching Kharkiv [City]."

Putin also met with Vietnamese President Tô Lâm, Vietnamese Prime Minister Phm Minh Chính, and General Secretary of the Central Committee of Vietnam’s Community Party Nguyn Phú Trng during his visit and discussed bilateral relations and the Soviet Union's and Russia's support of Vietnam during the 20th and 21st centuries.[22] ISW noted on June 19 that Putin appears to be pursuing a coalition of friendly states with historically warm ties to the Soviet Union that could form the basis of an alternative to the West and the current world order.[23]

Russian forces used the new FAB-3000 M-54 bomb with a unified planning and correction module (UMPC) to strike Ukrainian positions in Kharkiv Oblast for the first time, representing a new Russian capability with a high potential for destruction if Russian forces continue to be able to use such weapons uninhibited. Russian sources widely amplified footage of the first-ever FAB-3000 M-54 strike against a reported Ukrainian deployment point in Lyptsi, Kharkiv Oblast, on June 20, noting that the bomb caused substantial destruction even though it landed 10 meters away from its intended target.[24] Former Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu first announced the serial production of FAB-3000 M-54s, dumb-bomb variants weighing over 3,000 kilograms that can be converted into guided glide bombs with the addition of the UMPC modification, during a visit to Nizhny Novgorod Oblast in March 2024.[25] Russian sources previously praised the production of FAB-3000s but noted that their weight and general dimensions would make them very difficult for most Russian tactical aircraft to deliver.[26] The fact that Russian forces have figured out how to launch FAB-3000s is a significant development and will increase the destructive potential of Russia's ongoing glide bomb attacks against Ukrainian forces and infrastructure. Russian forces have already increased guided and unguided glide bomb use against Ukraine, particularly in Kharkiv Oblast, to devastating effect, and should Russian forces be able to launch massive barrages of FAB-3000s (or even heavier guided glide bombs) they will be able to cause even more widespread damage to Ukrainian frontline positions and critical infrastructure.[27] Russian milbloggers noted that the June 20 strike was not particularly accurate, but the destruction radius of the FAB-3000 will compensate for its lack of accuracy, especially if Russian forces are able to use them at scale uncontested as the Russian Air Forces has with 500-kilogram glide bombs.[28]

The United States made a policy change to prioritize delivering Patriot air defense interceptors to Ukraine against the backdrop of the increasing threat of Russian guided glide bomb use in Ukraine. US National Security Spokesperson John Kirby stated on June 20 that the US is going to "reprioritize" the export of Patriot missiles so that the missiles "rolling off the production line" will go straight to Ukraine.[29] Kirby characterized the decision as "difficult but necessary" to ensure that hundreds of Patriot and NASAM munitions produced for the next 16 months would go to Ukraine, regardless of which country ordered them. Kirby stated that Ukraine will receive the first shipments of Patriot missiles by the end of Summer 2024 and that other countries that ordered Patriot missiles will receive them on a "delayed timeline." Kirby stated that other countries impacted by the delay were ”broadly supportive” of the decision to prioritize Ukraine’s air defense needs.[30] The Romanian Supreme National Defense Council announced on June 20 that Romania will donate one Patriot system to Ukraine due to Russia's large-scale strikes on Ukrainian energy and civil infrastructure.[31] Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba have recently emphasized Ukraine's need for more Patriot systems.[32] 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.[33]

US policy still prohibits Ukrainian forces from striking military targets with US-provided weapons in the operational and deep rear of Russian territory. Politico reported on June 20 that anonymous US government officials reiterated that the United States permits Ukrainian forces to strike Russian forces where Russian forces attack into Ukraine across the international border, likely meaning the international border near Ukraine’s Sumy, Chernihiv, and Kharkiv oblasts.[34] This report does not signify a change in US policy. The report makes clearer the contours of current US policy: Ukrainian forces may use HIMARS armed with GMLRS to strike Russian forces preparing to or actively attacking Ukraine, but likely may not strike all legitimate Russian military targets in range of Ukrainian HIMARS using GMLRS in Belgorod, Kursk, and Bryansk oblasts. The Politico report acknowledged that Ukrainian and European officials have urged the Biden Administration to further loosen its restrictions and allow Ukraine to strike all legitimate military targets in Russia.[35] US policy still protects the vast majority of Russia’s operational rear and deep rear, and US policy still forbids Ukrainian forces from using ATACMS anywhere in Russia.[36] The Biden Administration’s partial removal of Russian sanctuary is a step in the right direction but is by itself inadequate and unable to disrupt Russian operations at scale. ISW assesses that the West maintains the ability to substantially disrupt Russian operations at scale by allowing Ukraine to use Western-provided weapons to strike Russia’s operational rear and deep rear areas in Russian territory.[37]

The Russian military's increased over-reliance on infantry-heavy frontal assault tactics has greatly degraded the distinctions between various Russian combat services on the battlefield in Ukraine, minimizing the operational efficacy of frontline troops. Ukrainian military observer Kostyantyn Mashovets reported on June 20 that he gained access to a 2024 training manual for Russian airborne (VDV) troops, entitled "Combat use of an assault company (group) in an offensive."[38] Mashovets stated that the training manual is meant to integrate battlefield experiences from the war in Ukraine into VDV training doctrine and noted that the tactical solution to contemporary frontline challenges that the manual offers is the creation of dedicated VDV assault detachments, usually at the company level, pulled from units at the brigade-, regiment-, and battalion-level.[39] According to the manual, the assault groups should seize Ukrainian strong pints and individual firing points, as well as fortified terrain features, and ideally operate within a larger “assault detachment” or “assault battalion.”[40] Mashovets emphasized that Russian high command expects for these company-sized assault groups have a standard service life of two days maximum, as this is the timeframe in which the Russian high command has calculated that the assault group will completely expend its combat capabilities during attritional combat operations.

The concept of dedicated assault companies pulled from existing regiments, brigades, and battalions is not a novelty for Russian forces in Ukraine, and indeed has become the prevalent tactic of attack along most of the frontline for over a year, apart from occasional (mostly unsuccessful) mechanized assaults. ISW first began reporting on the creation of such specialized assault detachments within non-VDV Russian forces in February 2023 and observed the use of such assault-focused detachments in infantry-heavy frontal assaults leading to high levels of attrition throughout the course of 2023.[41] The fact that VDV forces are now relying on the same frontal assault tactic as ordinary Russian infantry and mechanized forces is notable, and further suggests that the VDV and other formations that were previously considered "elite" within the Russian military prior to 2022 have lost those distinctions due to the way that the Russian command writ large is prosecuting the war.[42] The codification of the assault group into VDV training doctrine further supports ISW's long-standing assessment that the way that Russia is fighting in Ukraine has blurred previously relevant distinctions among various services, largely reducing all frontline troops to understrength and low-quality motorized rifle units.[43] A prominent Russian commentator, who previously served as an instructor for a "Storm-Z" assault unit (which notably used similar tactics to those outlined in the VDV training manual), criticized Russia's reliance on attritional infantry-led frontal assaults on June 20, noting that this practice maintains constant pressure on Ukrainian defenders but does not achieve operationally significant results.[44] The current style of Russian assaults in Ukraine, however, corresponds with Russian President Vladimir Putin's recently articulated theory of Russian victory in Ukraine, which suggests that all Russian forces need to do is gradually achieve creeping advances while keeping tension on Ukraine and its partners in order to win a war of attrition against Ukraine.[45]

Russian Defense Minister Andrei Belousov used a working visit to the Eastern Military District in Vladivostok, Primorsky Krai to create the appearance of a strict but engaged defense minister. Belousov visited the military camp of the 155th Naval Infantry Brigade, residential buildings for military personnel, the Okeansky military sanatorium, and a branch of the Nakhimov Naval School in Vladivostok on June 20.[46] Belousov issued instructions concerning multiple construction projects at these facilities and stated that the rehabilitation of Russian servicemembers and the allotment of housing to Russian servicemembers' families are priorities of the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD). Belousov repeatedly emphasized the need to complete these construction projects before the set deadlines and even threatened the director of a construction company that was touring the 155th Naval Infantry Brigade's military camp with Belousov with criminal liability should the construction company not complete the project on time.[47] Belousov also notably spoke about Russian servicemembers' possible return home from the war in Ukraine for the first time, stating twice on his tour that unspecified Russian soldiers will start to return home and that Russian authorities need to make sure that everything is "worthy" and "ready" for the soldiers.[48] The Russian decree on partial mobilization does not allow for the termination of mobilized Russian servicemembers' contracts before the end of Russia's "special military operation" in Ukraine, however, and it is unclear if Belousov was speaking about the return of soldiers in near or longer term, or purely theoretically.[49] The Kremlin has repeatedly publicly congratulated and awarded the 155th Naval Infantry Brigade over the course of the war in Ukraine, despite the fact that the unit has suffered significant losses and has had to reconstitute multiple times.[50] The Russian MoD may be paying special attention to the 155th Naval Infantry Brigade's military and social facilities in Vladivostok in order to appease the soldiers and their families who may be angered by the unit's heavy losses. Belousov's strict orders about the timely fulfillment of military construction projects may also be part of efforts to create the appearance that Belousov is spearheading an anti-corruption campaign in the Russian MoD.[51]

Ukrainian forces conducted drone strikes against at least two oil facilities in Russia on the night of June 19 to 20. Ukrainian outlet RBK-Ukraine reported on June 20 that sources stated that Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) conducted drone strikes against the Tambovnefteprodukt fuel and lubricants warehouse in Tambov Oblast and the Lukoil-Yugnefteprodukt "Enemska" oil depot in the Adygea Republic.[52] Geolocated footage shows fires at the oil depot in Platonovka, Tambov Oblast and the oil refinery in Enem, Adygea Republic.[53] Tambov Oblast Head Maskim Egorov acknowledged that a Ukrainian drone caused an oil tank at the Platonovka oil depot to catch fire.[54] Adygea Republic Head Murat Kumpilov stated that a Ukrainian drone strike started a fire at the Enem oil depot.[55] The Krasnodar Krai Operational Headquarters claimed that a drone fell on a house in Slavyansk-on-Kuban, and a Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces may have been targeting the Slavyansk Eko oil refinery in Slavyansk-on-Kuban.[56] Other Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces struck the Afipsky oil refinery near Neftekachka, Krasnodar Krai.[57] The Krasnodar Krai Operational Headquarters claimed that information about a fire at the Afipsky refinery is not reliable.[58] ISW cannot independently verify that the Ukrainian strike on the Afipsky refinery, and the Afipsky and Enem oil refineries are notably fewer than 10 kilometers apart from each other. The Russian MoD claimed that Russian forces destroyed six drones over the Adygea Republic and three drones over Krasnodar Krai but did not mention activity over Tambov Oblast.[59]

Key Takeaways:

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a major information operation during his recent visit to North Korea and Vietnam on June 18 and 19 aimed at sabotaging efforts by Ukraine's partners to clearly define a common strategic objective and strategy to decisively defeat Russia’s illegal war of conquest in Ukraine.
  • Putin implicitly threatened to use nuclear weapons if the West enables Ukraine to decisively defeat Russia in order to undermine the international community's cohering strategic vision of support for Ukraine.
  • Putin’s nuclear threat is part of an ongoing Kremlin nuclear blackmail campaign aimed at dissuading Ukraine’s allies from decisively committing to defeating Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and is therefore highly unlikely to result in actual nuclear escalation.
  • South Korea responded to the Russian-North Korean comprehensive strategic partnership agreement on June 20 and stated that it will reconsider its previous ban on sending lethal military assistance to Ukraine.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin simultaneously attempted to downplay aspects of the Russia-North Korea agreement potentially in response to South Korea's concerns during a June 20 press conference in Vietnam.
  • Putin also met with Vietnamese President Tô Lâm, Vietnamese Prime Minister Phm Minh Chính, and General Secretary of the Central Committee of Vietnam’s Community Party Nguyn Phú Trng during his visit and discussed bilateral relations and the Soviet Union's and Russia's support of Vietnam during the 20th and 21st centuries.
  • Russian forces used the new FAB-3000 M-54 bomb with a unified planning and correction module (UMPC) to strike Ukrainian positions in Kharkiv Oblast for the first time, representing a new Russian capability with a high potential for destruction if Russian forces continue to be able to use such weapons uninhibited.
  • The United States made a policy change to prioritize delivering Patriot air defense interceptors to Ukraine against the backdrop of the increasing threat of Russian guided glide bomb use in Ukraine.
  • US policy still prohibits Ukrainian forces from striking military targets with US-provided weapons in the operational and deep rear of Russian territory.
  • The Russian military's increased over-reliance on infantry-heavy frontal assault tactics has greatly degraded the distinctions between various Russian combat services on the battlefield in Ukraine, minimizing the operational efficacy of frontline troops.
  • Russian Defense Minister Andrei Belousov used a working visit to the Eastern Military District in Vladivostok, Primorsky Krai to create the appearance of a strict but engaged defense minister.
  • Ukrainian forces conducted drone strikes against at least two oil facilities in Russia on the night of June 19 to 20.
  • Ukrainian forces recently advanced near Vovchansk, and Russian forces recently advanced near Chasiv Yar, Avdiivka, and Donetsk City.
  • Russian milbloggers complained that the Russian military command is failing to properly incentivize Russian servicemen to fight and explain the purpose of the Russian full-scale invasion to its troops.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 19, 2024

click here to read the full report

Grace Mappes, Karolina Hird, Angelica Evans, Kateryna Stepanenko, and George Barros

June 19, 2024, 9:15pm ET

Note: The data cut-off for this product was 2:45pm ET on June 19. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the June 20 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un signed a comprehensive strategic partnership agreement in Pyongyang on June 19, likely aimed in part to use military-technical cooperation with North Korea as a threat against the West to discourage further support for Ukraine.[1] Putin arrived with a delegation of Russian ministers in Pyongyang on June 19 and signed the agreement with Kim, but neither Russian nor North Korean officials have published the official text of this agreement as of the time of this publication. Putin and Kim each spoke about the agreement, claiming that it broadly covers goals and guidelines for deepening Russian–North Korean long-term relations in the political, economic, trade, cultural, humanitarian, and security fields.[2] Putin specified that the strategic partnership agreement also provides for "mutual assistance in the event of aggression" against either Russia or North Korea, then immediately criticized conversations in the West about allowing Ukraine to strike areas in Russia with Western-provided long-range weapons and F-16 jets. Putin then concluded that "in this regard," Russia does "not rule out the development of military-technical cooperation" with North Korea. Putin likely intended to signal that should the US lift its restrictions against Ukrainian using US-provided ATACMS to strike Russian territory or other restrictions against using F-16s for the same purposes, Russia will likely deepen cooperation with North Korea in the sphere of military technologies such as missiles, other arms, and satellites through the legal framework provided in this new agreement. Putin and other Kremlin officials will likely continue to leverage this threat as debates about permitting Ukraine to use Western-provided weapons to strike military targets in Russian territory continue and may also expand this threat to other issues that the Kremlin has historically framed as "escalatory" or "provocations" against Russia. Russia will likely continue to deepen its cooperation with North Korea, regardless of Western self-imposed restrictions on military aid provisions to Ukraine and policies restricting Ukrainian long-range strikes against Russian sanctuary, as Russia had been doing throughout its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian and North Korean governments largely framed the agreement as evidence of their mutual support as part of a common struggle against the West and signaled that Russia and North Korea share a goal to challenge the West and the current world order.[3] Putin claimed that Russia and North Korea both aim to create "a more just and democratic multipolar world order" and that both countries pursue "independent foreign policy" — setting them apart from Western states.[4] Putin also credited Kim with holding an "objective and balanced view" about the war in Ukraine. Kim and Putin also emphasized the "traditionally friendly and good" relations between Russia and North Korea "based on the glorious traditions of common history" — continuing to invoke the historical memory of the Soviet Union's support of North Korea to appeal to the propaganda of the Kim regime and the North Korean people. North Korean state media published readouts similarly emphasizing Russia's and North Korea's common cause, emphasizing that North Korea stands in solidarity with "the sacred cause of the Russian army and people who are proudly advancing towards justice and truth."[5] The Kremlin published extensive images of Putin's visit to Pyongyang, including a lavish military-patriotic parade, North Korean civilians holding flowers and celebrating Putin's arrival, and Kim personally escorting Putin to and from his plane on the tarmac — all underscoring the two regimes' emphasis on friendship and their determination to support each other.[6] Putin's visit and the Russian–North Korean strategic cooperation agreement help legitimize Kim's regime domestically and abroad, as ISW has previously noted, and Putin also discussed increasing trade between Russia and North Korea, posturing that improving trade and infrastructure also benefits their shared partner, the People's Republic of China (PRC).[7]

Putin is pursuing a coalition of friendly states with historically warm ties to the Soviet Union to act as an alternative to the West and the current world order. Putin published an article in the Vietnamese state newspaper Nhân Dân on June 19 ahead of his state visit to Vietnam largely reusing the same informational lines as his June 18 article in the North Korean state newspaper Rodong Sinmun.[8] Putin invoked the historical memory of the Soviet Union's support for Vietnam during the Vietnam War, which Putin described as a "heroic struggle against foreign invaders," and noted that it is the 30th anniversary of the Treaty of Basic Principles of Friendly Relations between Russia and Vietnam.[9] Putin praised Vietnam for pursuing an "independent foreign policy" and supporting a world order based on "principles of equality between nations and non-interference in domestic affairs," echoing his praises for North Korea on June 18 and 19. Putin also claimed that, like North Korea, Vietnam shares Russia's views on the formation of a new system of "equal and indivisible Eurasian security" — though Vietnam, like much of Southeast Asia, is not typically included in political conceptions of Eurasia.[10] Putin laid the informational groundwork for this Eurasian security structure during his visit to the PRC in May 2024 before proposing it in a speech on June 14, in which he claimed that the "Euro-Atlantic security system" is collapsing and that Western "schemes for security and prosperity in Europe do not work."[11] Putin likely aims to use the historical memory of positive relations with the Soviet Union and previous assistance to other states to form a coalition of countries that Putin could attempt to posture as a feasible alternative to NATO and bolster the Kremlin's ongoing information operations attempting to falsely portray Western countries as Ukraine's only supporters whereas the rest of the world stands behind Russia.

Russian government officials announced their intention on June 19 to suspend Russia's participation in the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe's Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA). Russian Federation Council Committee on International Affairs First Deputy Head Vladimir Dzhabarov announced that the committee is proposing to suspend Russia's participation in the OSCE PA and the payment of Russia's membership fees.[12] Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko announced her support for the initiative and ordered the committee to prepare a draft decision for the upcoming July 3 plenary session.[13] Matviyenko cited Romanian authorities' recent decision to not issue visas to the Russian OSCE PA delegation as the "latest example" of the OSCE PA's anti-Russian activities. Russian State Duma Chairperson Vyacheslav Volodin instructed the Duma's International Affairs Committee to prepare a corresponding resolution for consideration in the near future and accused the OSCE PA of being a "coven... that dances to the tune of the US."[14] Russian Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) Head Leonid Slutsky noted that the Russian State Duma will support the suspension of Russia's participation in the OSCE PA.[15] The OSCE PA is an institution of the OSCE where members can debate issues and offer policy recommendations in support of the OSCE's mandate.[16] Volodin announced Russia's intention to leave the OSCE PA in February 2024, and Russia has used OSCE PA meetings to either further its information operations or has abstained from attending meetings since it invaded Ukraine in February 2022.[17]

The Russian military command continues to endorse a culture of permissiveness towards war crimes perpetrated by subordinates on the battlefield in Ukraine. Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin reported on June 18 that his office has received confirmation that Russian forces beheaded a Ukrainian soldier in Volnovakha Raion, Donetsk Oblast and displayed the severed head on a damaged Ukrainian vehicle.[18] Kostin stated that Ukrainian intelligence revealed that the Russian battalion- and company-level commanders in charge of this sector of the front ordered their subordinates not to capture Ukrainian soldiers and take them captive as prisoners of war (POWs) as required by international law, but to kill them by beheading them.[19] ISW cannot independently confirm which Russian commanders issued the order to behead the Ukrainian POW, but Kostin's report is consistent with a larger observed trend of prolific Russian abuses against Ukrainian POWs that is apparently enabled, if not explicitly endorsed, by individual Russian commanders and upheld by Russian field commanders. Ukraine's Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported on June 19 that it has identified four servicemembers of the Russian 70th Motorized Rifle Regiment (42nd Motorized Rifle Division, 58th Combined Arms Army [CAA], Southern Military District [SMD]) who executed Ukrainian POWs near Robotyne, Zaporizhia Oblast in late May 2024.[20] ISW has also previously observed that the 76th Guards Air Assault (VDV) Division was implicated in the execution of Ukrainian POWs and the use of Ukrainian POWs as human shields (both blatant violations of the Geneva Convention on POWs) near Robotyne in late 2023, as well as in massacres of Ukrainian civilians in Bucha, Kyiv Oblast in 2022.[21] Russian forces operating in Donetsk Oblast are under a different operational command (the Southern Grouping of Forces) than Russian forces operating in Zaporizhia Oblast (the Dnepr Grouping of Forces), but various individual units operating under these respective operational commands have well-documented lists of abuses against Ukrainian POWs in their sectors of the front.[22] The consistent perpetration of war crimes by various Russian formations that fall under different operational groupings of forces command suggests that individual tactical-level commanders are enabling their subordinates to commit such atrocities throughout the theater and that the Russian high command is doing little to maintain discipline and order amongst its troops.

The Russian government is attempting to deflect responsibility for well-documented Russian violations of international law regarding Russia's treatment of Ukrainian children by accusing the Ukrainian Armed Forces and other security structures of committing "crimes" against children. Russian State Duma Deputy Chairperson and former Russian Commissioner on Children's Rights Anna Kuznetsova presented a report developed by the Russian parliamentary investigative commission on “Kyiv’s crimes against children” during the plenary State Duma meeting on June 19, which made unfounded and absurd accusations against the Ukrainian government and military officials of crimes against children in occupied Ukraine.[23] Kuznetsova claimed that the parliamentary investigative commission developed this report in accordance with the Russian Constitution and the UN Security Council resolution of August 25, 1999, but blatantly overlooked the fact that Russia's illegal invasion and occupation of eastern and southern Ukraine violates the UN Charter and that these territories are not subject to the Russian Constitution under international law. The report accused the Ukrainian Armed Forces of wounding and killing children with artillery fire and in mining incidents since 2014 and accused the Ukrainian government of “kidnapping” children from Ukrainian-controlled territories in Donbas between 2014 and 2022 that Russia since illegally annexed in their entirety despite not occupying the entire region.[24] The report misrepresented the Ukrainian government’s evacuations of children from frontline or occupied settlements as the “kidnapping” of “about 65,000 children from the territories of Donbas and Novorossiya” since the beginning of 2022, in a blatant misrepresentation of international law. Ukraine, as the legal sovereign of the Ukrainian territories that Russia illegal occupies, has full rights to move its people away from frontline territories further to safety. Russia, as the occupying power, does not have the right to move a population it occupies away from their homes and into Russia, however. Ukraine's evacuation of its citizens is a legitimate humanitarian endeavor, while Russia's forced removal of Ukrainian citizens to Russia is illegal deportation.[25] The report also accused the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Western "private military companies," and the Ukrainian government of medical experimentation on children in occupied Ukraine, sexual abuse, human trafficking, and “the deliberate creation of a threat to the lives of children” among other unfounded accusations. The report recommended that the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office and the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) initiate the process of recognizing the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), and the Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) as “terrorist organizations.” [26]

This report is likely part of an ongoing Kremlin effort to deflect domestic and international attention away from Russian violations of international law perpetrated against Ukrainian children, including mass forced deportations from occupied territories to Russia. The Russian State Duma unanimously supported the report on June 19, and Chairperson of the Russian Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko tasked the Russian government with translating this report into different languages and disseminating it across different international organizations and countries — including countries that are unfriendly to Russia.[27] Matviyenko made a revealing remark that Kyiv’s “attempt to accuse Russia of allegedly removing children looks especially cynical,” inadvertently revealing that the purpose of this unsubstantiated and false report is to confuse the international community about Russia’s violations against Ukrainian children and people.[28] The Russian State Duma notably created the Russian parliamentary investigative commission in June 2023 shortly after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants against Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kremlin-appointed Children's Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova on March 17, 2023, for illegal deportation and transfer of Ukrainian children to Russia.[29]

Air traffic control (ATC) communications from international airspace over the northeastern Atlantic Ocean appear to show the first confirmed instance of GPS jamming on commercial trans-Atlantic routes.[30] An X (formerly Twitter) account specializing in open-source and signals intelligence (OSINT and SIGINT) analysis posted on June 19 ATC communications reportedly from Shanwick Oceanic Control (overseeing the international airspace zone covering the northeastern Atlantic Ocean between the west coast of Scotland and Ireland to the southwestern coast of Iceland) stating that a flight between Madrid, Spain, and Toronto, Canada, was unable to ascend to a higher altitude due to apparent GPS jamming affecting other aircraft at the higher altitude.[31] The ATC communications noted that GPS jamming forced air traffic operating at higher altitudes along the Madrid-Toronto route to operate in a "degraded mode," to which the ATC dispatcher responded that this is the first instance of GPS jamming along Atlantic routes of which the dispatcher is aware.[32] The Resilient Navigation and Timing Foundation, a nonprofit advocating for improved GPS security, responded to the incident on June 19 and noted that if GPS jamming becomes a regular occurrence over the Atlantic Ocean, then "thousands of flights a day could be impacted with delays and cancellations."[33] The Resilient Navigation and Timing Foundation noted that a GPS jammer is not always able to recover after experiencing jamming and assessed that the aircraft that experienced the jamming over the Atlantic was likely flying from the Baltic region or Middle East and that one of its GPS receivers had not recovered by the time it entered the Shanwick Oceanic Control Zone. The cause of the GPS disturbances has not yet been identified as of the time of this publication. ISW has previously observed high levels of GPS jamming over Poland and the Baltic region since late 2023, however, which some analysts and experts have attributed to Russian electronic warfare (EW) activity from the Kaliningrad area and near St. Petersburg.[34]

Key Takeaways:

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un signed a comprehensive strategic partnership agreement in Pyongyang on June 19, likely aimed in part to use military-technical cooperation with North Korea as a threat against the West to discourage further support for Ukraine. Russian and North Korea largely framed the agreement as evidence of their mutual support as part of a common struggle against the West and signaled that they share a goal to challenge the West and current world order.
  • Putin is pursuing a coalition of friendly states with historically warm ties to the Soviet Union to act as an alternative to the West and current world order.
  • Russian government officials announced their intention on June 19 to suspend Russia's participation in the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe's Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA).
  • The Russian military command continues to endorse a culture of permissiveness towards war crimes perpetrated by subordinates on the battlefield in Ukraine.
  • The Russian government is attempting to deflect responsibility for well-documented Russian violations of international law regarding Russia's treatment of Ukrainian children by accusing the Ukrainian Armed Forces and other security structures of committing "crimes" against children.
  • Air traffic control (ATC) communications from international airspace over the northeastern Atlantic Ocean appear to show the first confirmed instance of GPS jamming on commercial trans-Atlantic routes.
  • Ukrainian forces recaptured positions near Starytsya and Russian forces recently advanced near Chasiv Yar and Donetsk City and in east (left) bank Kherson Oblast.
  • Finnish outlet Yle, citing satellite imagery and Finnish intelligence sources, reported on June 19 that the Russian military has deployed roughly 80 percent of its equipment and personnel based near the Russian-Finnish border to support its invasion of Ukraine.
 

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 18, 2024

Click here to read the full report.

Angelica Evans, Grace Mappes, Nicole Wolkov, Kateryna Stepanenko, and George Barros

June 18, 2024, 9:45pm ET

Note: The data cut-off for this product was 2pm ET on June 18. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the June 19 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.

Russian President Vladimir Putin published an article in North Korean state-owned newspaper Rodong Sinmun praising Russian–North Korean cooperation on the eve of his visit to North Korea, likely to frame any future support that North Korea will lend to Russia as part of a common struggle against the West.[1] Putin invoked the history of the Soviet Union's support for North Korea during and following the Korean War in his June 18 article and noted that the Soviet Union was the first country to establish diplomatic relations with North Korea. Putin claimed that the Soviet Union's support helped North Korea strengthen its economy and establish a peaceful society following the Korean War and thanked North Korea for its support of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Putin praised Kim Jong-Un's dedication to his father's and grandfather's legacies and praised Pyongyang as a "staunch like-minded" nation who is standing with Russia in opposition to the collective West. Putin reaffirmed Russia’s support for North Korea’s struggle against its enemy — the United States. Putin also implied that Western states are common adversaries of Russia and North Korea. Putin noted that Russia, like North Korea, maintains its strong economy and independence despite Western sanctions and praised North Korea's long-term struggle against the West. Putin claimed that the West has refused peace offers from both leaders, although both leaders appear averse to serious, good-faith peace negotiations.[2] Putin stated that Russia and North Korea will cooperate to develop a security architecture for Eurasia and expressed hope that their bilateral relations will continue to deepen. Putin's intentional appeal to known propaganda narratives about the legacies of the Kim regime, the Korean War, and North Korea's historical struggle against the US and the West is likely setting conditions for Putin to justify his future requests or demands of the North Korean people in support of Russia's war effort in Ukraine. Putin's visit to North Korea is also a significant goodwill gesture towards Kim Jong-Un as the visit helps legitimize Kim's pariah regime both domestically and abroad. Foreign heads of state rarely visit North Korea, and Putin last visited North Korea in 2000. Putin may be using this visit as flattery to assist in extracting additional aid from North Korea in the future, which may range from additional requests for weapon supplies or even manpower; for example, reports in 2022 suggested that North Korea was considering sending North Korean workers to Russian-occupied Ukraine to help with reconstruction efforts.[3]

Select Western officials warned about the dangers of greater cooperation between global authoritarian regimes on June 17 in response to Putin's visit to North Korea. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated on June 17 that Russia's growing alignment with its "authoritarian friends" is making it "even more important" for NATO countries to work with their partners in the Indo-Pacific region and condemned the People's Republic of China’s (PRC) and North Korea's support for Russia's war effort.[4] US National Security Spokesperson John Kirby stated during a press conference that the US is alarmed by deepening Russian–North Korean relations due to both the consequences in Ukraine and the security of the Korean peninsula.[5] Kirby stated that the US is carefully monitoring the development of Russian–North Korea relations.

Ukrainian forces struck Russian oil depots in Rostov Oblast and Krasnodar Krai overnight on June 17 to 18, using domestically produced Neptune missiles against a ground target in Russia for the second time.[6] Sources in the Ukrainian Navy told Ukrainian media outlet Suspilne on June 18 that Ukrainian forces used Neptune anti-ship missiles, presumably modified to strike ground targets, to strike an oil terminal of the Yugneftekhimtransit LLC in the port town of Chushka, Krasnodar Krai overnight.[7] Russian opposition outlet Astra reported locals witnessed explosions near Chushka overnight and that a fire damaged the pipeline and areas with engineering or technical equipment.[8] Russian authorities did not confirm the strike, but the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed on June 18 that Russian forces intercepted a Ukrainian Neptune missile in an unspecified area on June 17.[9] Sources in the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) told Ukrainian media outlets that Ukrainian forces conducted drone strikes against the Azovskaya and Azovnaftoprodukt oil terminals in Azov, Rostov Oblast, and geolocated footage shows that the resulting fire burned overnight on June 17 to 18 and well into the day on June 18.[10] Rostov Oblast authorities reported that the strikes set the oil tanks on fire.[11] The SBU sources stated that these depots combined have 22 fuel tanks, and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s (RFE/RL) Crimean service reported that up to 60 tons of petroleum products pass through these depots per month and that the storage tanks can hold up to 30 thousand cubic meters of petroleum products simultaneously.[12]

Ukrainian forces have now conducted two strikes with its own Neptune missiles against areas in Russian territory that are within range of US-provided ATACMS but that are also protected by US policy that has established a vast sanctuary in Russian territory. The Ukrainian General Staff reported on May 31 that Ukrainian forces used Neptune missiles to strike an oil depot near the port of Kavkaz, Krasnodar Krai, and former Ukrainian Naval Deputy Chief of Staff Andriy Ryzhenko stated that the May 31 strike was the first Ukrainian strike using Neptunes against ground targets.[13] Chushka and Kavkaz are port towns near the Kerch Strait and are roughly 250 kilometers from the current frontlines and within the 300-kilometer range of the US-provided long-range ATACMS.[14] The US has not allowed Ukrainian forces to use existing US-provided weapons to strike legitimate targets in Russian territory for much of the full-scale invasion thus far and still prohibits Ukraine from using ATACMS anywhere in Russia.[15] Ukraine first debuted Neptune anti-ship missiles against Russian naval targets in April 2022 and has had to further develop and modify these missiles to conduct deep strikes against Russian territory — a process that took over two years during which Russian forces in Russia enjoyed protection against Western-provided weapons.[16] ISW continues to assess that the US should allow Ukraine to strike legitimate military targets within Russia's rear with US-provided weapons, especially given that standing US prohibitions on how Ukrainian forces may use US-provided weapons will not prevent Ukraine or other Western weapons from striking Russia.

The Russian government is charging Ukrainian servicemen and military officials with crimes in absentia as part of its efforts to enforce Russian federal law outside of its jurisdiction and insinuate that Ukraine should not exist as an independent state. The Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) placed former Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Pyotr Mekhed and former Deputy Chief of the Ukrainian General Staff Viktor Bokiy on Russia's wanted list on June 18 and charged the men with unspecified war crimes in absentia.[17] The Russian Investigative Committee ruled on June 17 to detain a Ukrainian commander in absentia on charges that the commander helped down a Russian A-50 long-range radar detection aircraft in February 2024 — a legitimate act of war and a normal event for two warring states.[18] The Russian MVD previously absurdly placed multiple officials from most NATO member countries on its western flank on Russia’s wanted list for violating various Russian laws while the officials were in their respective countries where Russian law has no jurisdiction.[19] Russian officials similarly temporarily placed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukrainian Ground Forces Commander Lieutenant General Oleksandr Pavlyuk, and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on its wanted list for allegedly violating Russian law while those officials were not in Russia.[20] ISW continues to assess that Russia's decision to place Western officials on its wanted list for violating Russian federal laws outside of Russia is part of its effort to violate the sovereignty of NATO member states and justify possible future Russian aggression against NATO.[21] The Kremlin's prosecution of Ukrainian military personnel and political leadership who are engaged in a fully lawful, defensive war against an invasion by a foreign power in a manner akin to domestic terrorists highlights Russia's enduring belief that the Ukrainian state does not and should not exist as a political entity separate from Russia.

Founder of the Kremlin-linked Rybar Telegram Channel, Mikhail Zvinchuk, gave his second uncharacteristically public interview within a month in which he criticized the state of Russia's war effort in Ukraine and acknowledged that Western sanctions are negatively affecting Russia's industry and economy. Republika Srpska (the Serbian entity within Bosnia and Herzegovina) media portal BanjaLuka.net published an interview with Zvinchuk on June 18 to promote his recently established "Rybar media school" in the Balkans.[22] Zvinchuk gave an unusually frank and critical view of the Russian military when asked to discuss the current state of Russia's war in Ukraine. Zvinchuk stated that the war has not proceeded as the Russian military had planned, in part, because of Russia's poor planning. Zvinchuk also claimed that Russian forces have learned to fight at the platoon, company, and battalion levels but still lack the capability to fight at any higher echelons. Zvinchuk noted that Russian forces have "learned" to seize the battlefield initiative but have only done so in select unspecified locations and that Russian forces are only able to make slow tactical gains. Zvinchuk claimed that if Russia could seize the strategic initiative that Russian forces would seize "a city per week, not a house or village per week." Zvinchuk also assessed that Russia does not have enough materiel to take the strategic initiative but acknowledged that Russia is attempting to accelerate its defense industrial base (DIB) output. Zvinchuk acknowledged that international sanctions against Russia have hindered Russia's ability to maintain its technological capabilities, noting that some Russian oil refineries are not working, which has resulted in a 10 percent increase in fuel prices. Zvinchuk gave an interview to Russian-language diaspora-focused outlet RTVi on May 18 — shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin replaced Sergei Shoigu with Andrei Belousov as Russian Defense Minister - in which Zvinchuk criticized the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and speculated on possible changes within the MoD.[23] ISW assessed that Zvinchuk may be trying to use his public interviews to gauge the Kremlin's response to critical voices or that the Kremlin may have tasked Zvinchuk with criticizing the Russian MoD publicly while dictating the content and severity of his statements. Zvinchuk's decision to give his second public interview within a month to a Republika Srpska media portal indicates Zvinchuk's interest in publicizing his efforts to spread pro-Russian informational influence in Europe and support long-term Russian efforts to destabilize the Western-brokered Dayton Accords in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Key Takeaways:

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin published an article in North Korean state-owned newspaper Rodong Sinmun praising Russian–North Korean cooperation on the eve of his visit to North Korea, likely to frame any future support that North Korea will lend to Russia as part of a common struggle against the West.
  • Ukrainian forces struck Russian oil depots in Rostov Oblast and Krasnodar Krai overnight on June 17 to 18, using domestically produced Neptune missiles against a ground target in Russia for the second time.
  • Ukrainian forces have now conducted two strikes with its own Neptune missiles against areas in Russian territory that are within range of US-provided ATACMS but that are also protected by US policy that has established a vast sanctuary in Russian territory.
  • The Russian government is charging Ukrainian servicemen and military officials with crimes in absentia as part of its efforts to enforce Russian federal law outside of its jurisdiction and insinuate that Ukraine should not exist as an independent state.
  • Founder of the Kremlin-linked Rybar Telegram Channel, Mikhail Zvinchuk, gave his second uncharacteristically public interview within a month in which he criticized the state of Russia's war effort in Ukraine and acknowledged that Western sanctions are negatively affecting Russia's industry and economy.
  • Russian forces recently marginally advanced near Vovchansk, Svatove, and Avdiivka
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin continues efforts to groom Russian military personnel for positions in the Russian government through the Kremlin's "Time of Heroes" program.
  • Russian occupation officials continue their efforts to militarize Ukrainian youth in occupied Ukraine.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 17, 2024

click here to read the full report

Kateryna Stepanenko, Christina Harward, Nicole Wolkov, Grace Mappes, and George Barros

June 17, 2024, 8:30pm 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.

Click here to see ISW’s 3D control of terrain topographic map of Ukraine. Use of a computer (not a mobile device) is strongly recommended for using this data-heavy tool.

Click here to access ISW’s archive of interactive time-lapse maps of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These maps complement the static control-of-terrain map that ISW produces daily by showing a dynamic frontline. ISW will update this time-lapse map archive monthly.

Note: The data cut-off for this product was 1:30pm ET on June 17. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the June 18 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated that NATO may take steps to enhance NATO's nuclear deterrence, eliciting varying responses from senior Kremlin officials. The Telegraph reported on June 16 that Stoltenberg stated that NATO states are discussing removing an unspecified number of nuclear missiles from storage and placing them on heightened readiness levels due to the growing threat from Russia and the People's Republic of China (PRC).[1] Stoltenberg stated that "transparency helps to communicate the direct message that... [NATO] is a nuclear alliance." Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Director Sergei Naryshkin reacted in a level-headed manner and characterized Stoltenberg's statements about taking nuclear missiles out of storage as "exercises," stating that he understands that Stoltenberg's statement aims to scare Russia but "on the other hand, exercises are conducted regularly and should be conducted regularly."[2] Naryshkin stated that there is no "special significance" to Stoltenberg's statement and that Russia "must take it calmly." Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, on the other hand, claimed that Stoltenberg's statement is "nothing more than another escalation of tension."[3] Naryshkin's characterization of NATO's efforts to increase its nuclear transparency as insignificant "exercises" is notably different than Peskov's claims that this is part of NATO's alleged ongoing escalation. Naryshkin has expressed opinions that strayed from the Kremlin narratives previously, most notably when Russian President Vladimir Putin publicly chastised Naryshkin to firmly support Russia's recognition of the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics on February 21, 2022, three days before the start of Russia's full-scale invasion.[4]

Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed four deputy defense ministers and replaced them with a “close relative,” the son of a former Russian prime minister, and an economist on June 17 in an ongoing purge of officials in the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD).[5] Putin dismissed deputy defense ministers Nikolai Pankov, Ruslan Tsalikov, Tatiana Shevtsova, and Army General Pavel Popov, replacing them with deputy defense ministers Anna Tsivileva and Pavel Fradkov and First Deputy Defense Minister Leonid Gornin.[6] Tsivileva is Putin’s first cousin once removed (“niece”), wife of the recently appointed Energy Minister Sergei Tsivilev, and the Chairperson of the Kremlin-initiated ”Defenders of the Fatherland" Foundation.[7] Tsivileva was also previously part of the Council on Issues of Trusteeship in the Social Sphere under the Russian Government in 2019.[8] The Russian MoD specified that Tsivileva will oversee social and housing support for the Russian Armed Forces as deputy defense minister.[9] Fradkov is the son of former Russian Prime Minister and longest serving Director of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Mikhail Fradkov.[10] Pavel Fradkov served as the First Deputy Administrator of the Presidential Administration since 2021, Deputy Head of the Federal Agency for State Property Management (Rosimushchestvo) from 2012 to 2015, and at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ (MFA) Department of Pan-European Cooperation from 2005 to 2012.[11] Fradkov’s brother Pyotr Fradkov is the Chairperson of the Russian state-owned Promsvyazbank and recently met with Kremlin-affiliated governor of the pro-Russian Moldovan autonomous region of Gagauzia, Yevgenia Gutsul, on April 9, possibly as part of Kremlin’s efforts to destabilize Moldova.[12] The Russian MoD reported that Fradkov will oversee property management issues, land resources, construction of MoD facilities, and the national economy.[13] Gornin served as the First Deputy Minister of Finance since May 2018, Deputy Minister of Finance from 2012 to 2018, and Minister of Finance and Tax Policy of Novosibirsk Oblast from 2010 to 2011.[14] The Russian MoD specified that Gornin will be responsible for the MoD’s budget policy and will oversee financial support for the Russian Armed Forces.[15] Gornin will also work on increasing the transparency of financial flows and ensuring the effective spending of budget funds. Putin also signed a bill on June 17 that increased the number of Russian deputy defense minister positions from 11 to 12.[16]

Tsivileva's, Fradkov's, and Gornin’s appointments support Putin’s recent efforts to introduce his relatives and the children of other senior Russian officials to the Russian public and to install economic advisors to the MoD to improve the wartime economy. Both Tsivileva and Fradkov reportedly participated in the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) alongside Putin’s daughters and the children of other senior officials on June 6 and 7.[17] ISW assessed on June 7 that Putin attempted to introduce his children and the children of officials in his close circle to the public, likely to set conditions for them to eventually assume high-profile and powerful roles in the Russian government.[18] Tsivileva also notably met with Putin on June 1 to discuss state financial support for combatants who had fought in Ukraine as part of private military companies (PMCs).[19] Putin also has been increasingly appointing economists to take senior positions at the Russian MoD and notably replaced Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on May 12 with former First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov who is an economist by trade.[20] Putin also replaced former Russian Deputy Defense Minister Colonel General Yury Sadovenko with former Deputy Economic Minister and Federation Council Accounts Chamber Auditor Oleg Savelyev on May 20.[21] These appointments suggest that Putin is prioritizing the appointment of officials whom he deems to be loyal to the regime and economists to improve Russia’s defense industrial base (DIB). Putin also may be attempting to groom possible successors to his regime from the pool of his children and relatives and children of other senior officials.

Russian milbloggers largely focused on celebrating the dismissal of Pankov, Tsalikov, Shevtsova, and Popov and largely overlooked the apparent nepotism that benefited two of the new deputy defense ministers.[22] Russian milbloggers welcomed new MoD appointments, stating that Putin finally removed officials that thought of themselves as untouchable.[23] Russian milbloggers also claimed that these dismissals are a step in the right direction to resolve corruption in the Russian MoD and improve the defense industrial base (DIB).[24] Russian milbloggers specifically focused on the news of Tsalikov’s dismissal, citing his poor management of the Russian MoD’s information policies and official coverage of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.[25] Some milbloggers implied that Tsalikov had conflicts with Russian milbloggers who criticized the Russian MoD.[26] A Wagner Group-affiliated milblogger claimed that the Kremlin stopped considering Tsalikov as Shoigu’s replacement in 2022 after Putin received a memo from unnamed state security agencies about Tsalikov’s corruption.[27] The Wagner-affiliated milblogger added that Shevtsova was the subject of numerous independent investigations, including one into how former Deputy Minister of Finance Tatyana Nesterenko and former Head of the Federal Treasury Roman Artyukhin sang songs that mocked the Russian army and soldiers at Shevtsova's birthday celebration. The Wagner-affiliated milblogger concluded that he was disappointed that Putin did not dismiss Deputy Defense Minister Alexey Krivoruchko, who is a leading figure in many independent anti-corruption investigations, over his corruption schemes involving the Russian joint-stock arms manufacturing company Kalashnikov Concern. Some Russian political bloggers drew parallels between the appointments of deputy defense ministers under Belousov and former Russian Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov, who also had an economic background as the Minister of the Russian Tax Service from 2004 to 2007.[28] Russian political bloggers noted that Serdyukov appointed officials from the Russian Federal Tax Service, whereas Belousov is appointing officials from the Russian ministries of finance and economic development and from among Putin’s friends and family.[29]

A Russian state media outlet manipulated an interview with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi to blame Ukraine for strikes against the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) in an attempt to legitimize Russia's illegal occupation of Ukraine. Grossi stated on June 15 that he would not attend the June 16–17 Global Peace Summit in Switzerland so as to not "mix political considerations with [the IAEA's] technical job," but gave an interview to Kremlin outlet Izvestia which was published on June 17.[30] Grossi told Izvestia that unspecified actors have attacked IAEA inspectors and experts at the ZNPP and have violated or compromised the IAEA's pillars for ensuring the plant's safe operation.[31] Grossi stated that there have been unattributed drone strikes against the ZNPP and that the IAEA is unable to identify the perpetrators as it is difficult to identify the drones' departure points or deduce the origins of drones based on debris. Grossi spoke about strikes on the ZNPP on April 7 but notably did not specify if the IAEA assessed that these were Ukrainian or Russian strikes. Izvestia, however, inserted an editorial note claiming that Ukrainian forces conducted the "unprecedented" strikes on the ZNPP on April 7 to directly claim that Grossi was discussing Ukrainian strikes against the ZNPP. The IAEA notably refrained from attributing responsibility for the April 7 strikes at the time.[32] Izvestia's exploitation of Grossi's interview, throughout which Grossi explicitly highlighted that the IAEA cannot identify the origin of strikes on the ZNPP, is part of ongoing Russian efforts to use Russia's physical control over the ZNPP to force the IAEA to meet with Russian officials to legitimize Russia's occupation of the ZNPP, and by extension, Russia's occupation of Ukrainian territory.[33]

Ukraine's Western partners continue efforts to train more Ukrainian pilots on Western-provided F-16 fighter jets. French outlet Le Monde reported on June 17 that the French Air and Space Force committed to training 26 Ukrainian military pilots from 2024 to 2026.[34] Le Monde stated that the French Air and Space Force is currently training 10 Ukrainian pilots on Alpha Jet trainers using avionics similar to F-16s. Agence-France-Presse (AFP) reported on June 17 that the Ukrainian pilots are participating in an accelerated six-month training program.[35] Politico reported on June 6 that US Air Force Spokesperson Laurel Falls stated that the US National Guard plans to train 12 Ukrainian pilots on F-16s by the end of September 2024.[36] Denmark reported in August 2023 that Denmark had started training eight Ukrainian pilots on F-16s.[37]

The Kremlin confirmed on June 17 that Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit North Korea on an official state visit on June 18 and 19.[38] Russian Ambassador to North Korea Alexander Matsegora recently stated that Putin will visit North Korea, and another Russian diplomatic source stated that Putin would visit in the coming weeks around his visit to Vietnam.[39] Putin has not visited North Korea since 2000.[40] The Kremlin reported that Putin will also visit Hanoi, Vietnam on June 19 and 20 and will discuss the prospects for developing a strategic partnership in trade, economic, scientific, technological, and humanitarian relations.[41]

Key Takeaways:

  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated that NATO may take steps to enhance NATO's nuclear deterrence, eliciting varying responses from senior Kremlin officials.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed four deputy defense ministers and replaced them with a “close relative,” the son of a former Russian prime minister, and an economist on June 17 in an ongoing purge of officials in the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD).
  • Tsivileva's, Fradkov's, and Gornin’s appointments support Putin’s recent efforts to introduce his relatives and the children of other senior Russian officials to the Russian public and to install economic advisors to the MoD to improve the wartime economy.
  • Russian milbloggers largely focused on celebrating the dismissal of Pankov, Tsalikov, Shevtsova, and Popov and largely overlooked the apparent nepotism that benefited two of the new deputy defense ministers.
  • A Russian state media outlet manipulated an interview with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi to blame Ukraine for strikes against the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) in an attempt to legitimize Russia's illegal occupation of Ukraine.
  • Ukraine's Western partners continue efforts to train more Ukrainian pilots on Western-provided F-16 fighter jets.
  • The Kremlin confirmed on June 17 that Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit North Korea on an official state visit on June 18 and 19.
  • Russian forces recently advanced near Siversk, Chasiv Yar, and Avdiivka.
  • Russia is reportedly experiencing issues with producing artillery shells and select artillery systems.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 16, 2024

Click here to read the full report with maps

Grace Mappes, Nicole Wolkov, Christina Harward, Karolina Hird, and George Barros

June 16, 2024, 5:20pm ET 

The vast majority of the countries and international organizations that participated in the Ukraine-initiated Global Peace Summit in Switzerland on June 15-16 signed a joint communique on June 16 reaffirming support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.[1] The communique also reaffirmed support for Ukrainian operation and control over the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) to ensure the safety of nuclear energy and installations, "free full, and safe" commercial navigation in the Black Sea to ensure global food security, the exchange of all prisoners of war (POWs), and the return of all "deported and unlawfully displaced Ukrainian children" and other unlawfully detained Ukrainian civilians. Over 80 countries and international organizations signed the communique, although Saudi Arabia, India, South Africa, Armenia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Brazil (which attended the summit as an "observer") were among the countries that did not endorse the communique.[2] The Ukrainian President's Office emphasized that the purpose of the summit was to facilitate "fair peace ... based on the United Nations (UN) Charter and international law," highlighting Ukraine's effort to garner support from the international community in ending the war on terms that do not violate international law by compromising Ukraine’s territory integrity or sovereignty.[3] Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte stated on June 16 at the summit that "Russia should not be at the [negotiating] table now" and that there will only be peace in Ukraine "when Russia agrees to international principles and the UN Charter." ISW continues to assess that Russian President Vladimir Putin is not interested in good-faith negotiations and only feigns interest in negotiations in specific instances as part of a wider informational effort to seduce the West to preemptively make concessions that would violate Ukraine's sovereignty.[4] Putin is unlikely to be interested in good faith negotiations for the foreseeable future given that he recently outlined a theory of Russian victory in Ukraine based on the assumption that Russian forces are capable of indefinite creeping advances on the battlefield to outlast Western support for Ukraine.[5]

A limited prison break and hostage situation at a Russian pretrial detention center in Rostov-on-Don, Rostov Oblast, prompted Russian ultranationalist complaints highlighting Russia's failure to crack down against domestic Islamic extremism following the March 22 Crocus City Hall terrorist attack. Russian state media reported on June 16 that around six prisoners at Pretrial Detention Center No. 1 in Rostov-on-Don broke out of their cells and took two employees of the pretrial detention center hostage in the central courtyard.[6] Rosgvardia and Russian Federal Penitentiary Service forces later stormed the pretrial detention center and reportedly killed the detainees, freeing the hostages.[7] Russian state media claimed that the prisoners had links to the Islamic State (IS) or had been convicted of terrorism-related charges prior to the June 16 incident.[8] ISW is unable to verify the identities or affiliations of these prisoners or the extent of IS involvement in the prison break at the time of this publication.

Russian ultranationalist milbloggers largely fixated on the hostage situation in Rostov-on-Don to complain about the perceived prevalence of Islamic extremism in Russia and the Russian penal system. Russian milbloggers largely circulated the alleged identities, affiliations, and charges of each of the prisoners, as well as footage showing the prisoners with an IS flag, IS paraphernalia, and knives at the pretrial detention center.[9] The milbloggers complained that Russian authorities failed to crack down against extremist groups and used racist and xenophobic rhetoric to emphasize this point; the milbloggers complained that the pretrial detention center allowed the prisoners to have well-kept facial hair in accordance with their religious beliefs and that the prisoners had planned this attack on a Muslim holy day to coincide with the Eid al-Adha holiday on June 16.[10] The milbloggers also complained that the Russian penal system has failed to maintain security given that the prisoners managed to obtain an IS flag, weapons, and communication devices and break from their cells, and that some of the prisoners had been convicted of terrorism but had yet not been transported to penal colonies because their sentences had not yet begun.[11] Some milbloggers complained more widely that the Russian penal system has fallen apart, blaming reforms under then-President Dmitry Medvedev in the mid-2000s and Russia's failure to adequately compensate Federal Penitentiary Service employees for creating the situation.[12]

The Kremlin has attempted to posture that it has been cracking down against domestic extremism since the Crocus City Hall attack, but the June 16 attack and subsequent discussions undermine this Kremlin effort.[13] Russian opposition outlet Baza claimed that the prisoners had planned this attack for several months and that actors with alleged IS ties smuggled the weapons, IS flag, and communication devices to the prisoners inside the pretrial detention center.[14] Opposition outlet Verstka reported that the Rostov Oblast prosecutor's office has conducted monthly inspections of the detention conditions of Pretrial Detention Center No. 1 after reports that the center was overcrowded, while the Rostov Oblast Public Monitoring Group conducted three inspections in October 2022, February 2023, and November 2023 and did not find any violations.[15] Some Russian officials seem content to minimize this situation in the near-term; Rostov residents criticized Rostov Oblast Head Vasily Golubev for not responding to the hostage situation until two hours after the situation concluded, and Russian opposition outlet Meduza reported that Golubev's social media accounts deleted comments on his page before turning off the ability to comment altogether.[16] Russian Investigative Committee Head Alexander Bastrykin demanded a report on the initial investigation into the hostage situation on June 16.[17] The Kremlin will likely use the June 16 incident to continue posturing the need for domestic crackdowns against all definitions of extremism beyond the domestic terror threat to Russia while masking or deflecting its actual security failures to prevent the March 22 and June 16 attacks.

The Kremlin and Kremlin affiliates continue efforts to use Russia's relationship with Republika Srpska (the Serbian political entity within Bosnia and Herzegovina) to destabilize the Balkans. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claimed at the opening of the Russian embassy in Banja Luka on June 11 that ties between Russia and Republika Srpska are at an all-time high.[18] Lavrov claimed that the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) will prioritize the construction of religious and cultural institutions in Banja Luka that are critical for the strengthening of the "ties of brotherhood" between the people of Russia and Republika Srpska. A prominent, Kremlin-affiliated Russian milblogger claimed on June 16 in an interview with a Republika Srpska TV channel that Russia will support Republika Srpska's independence and that the opening of the Russian embassy in Banja Luka demonstrates the friendship and cooperation between Russia and Republika Srpska.[19] The milblogger claimed that Russia may open a Russian cultural center (Russia house – Russkii dom) in Republika Srpska. Moldovan and Ukrainian officials have previously warned that Russian officials use Russkii dom to promote Russian propaganda and conduct "subversive work" abroad.[20] The same milblogger's channel claimed in April 2024 that it opened a "media school" in the Balkans and that the channel's team spent a week in Serbia and Republika Srpska giving lectures on how to operate Telegram channels and fight "misinformation."[21] Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik stated on June 7 that Republika Srpska intended to hold a referendum on its independence from Bosnia and Herzegovina on an unspecified date.[22] 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.[23]

The Financial Times (FT) reported on June 16 that Russia overtook the United States as Europe's main gas supplier in May 2024, highlighting Europe's continued reliance on Russian energy.[24] FT reported that the US became Europe's largest gas supplier following Russia's 2022 full-scale invasion of Ukraine, but that in May 2024 Russian gas and liquified natural gas (LNG) shipments to Europe rose to 15 percent of total supply, while the United States provided 14 percent. FT did note, however, that the shift in gas and LNG imports in May was partially a result of "one-time factors," such as an outage at an American LNG export factory and a planned increase in Russian gas exports to compensate for shortcomings due to maintenance on a line sometime in June. FT concluded that Russia is unlikely to maintain the upper hand in the coming months, as it will be able to increase shipments of LNG to Asia via the Northern Sea Route, reducing exports to Europe, while US LNG production has stabilized after the recent one-time outage. FT previously reported on June 5 that Russian state-owned gas company Gazprom commissioned a report that found that Gazprom is unlikely to recover the vast majority of gas sales to Europe that it lost since 2022, highlighting that Gazprom’s business with Europe has significantly decreased overall, notwithstanding this short-term decrease in US gas exports to Europe in May 2024.[25] Russia remains reliant on oil and gas revenues to support its wartime economy and increased its energy exports to China significantly over the course of 2023, likely in part to offset impacts from the loss of the European market in 2022.[26]

Key Takeaways:

  • The vast majority of the countries and international organizations that participated in the Ukraine-initiated Global Peace Summit in Switzerland on June 15-16 signed a joint communique on June 16 reaffirming support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
  • A limited prison break and hostage situation at a Russian pretrial detention center in Rostov-on-Don, Rostov Oblast, prompted Russian ultranationalist complaints highlighting Russia's failure to crack down against domestic Islamic extremism following the March 22 Crocus City Hall terrorist attack.
  • The Kremlin and Kremlin affiliates continue efforts to use Russia's relationship with Republika Srpska (the Serbian political entity within Bosnia and Herzegovina) to destabilize the Balkans.
  • Russian forces recently advanced near Vovchansk and Donetsk City.
  • The Russian military reportedly continues to coerce Russian conscripts into signing military service contracts with the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD), likely as part of ongoing crypto-mobilization efforts.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 15, 2024

Click here to read the full report with maps

Nicole Wolkov, Angelica Evans, Kateryna Stepanenko, Grace Mappes, and George Barros

June 15, 2024, 9pm ET

Note: The data cut-off for this product was 2pm ET on June 15. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the June 16 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s June 14 information operation about Russia's supposed “willingness to negotiate” on extreme terms tantamount to Ukraine's capitulation is succeeding in confusing the purpose of the Ukrainian-initiated Global Peace Summit in Switzerland on June 15.[1] The purpose of the summit, according to the Ukrainian President's Office, was to facilitate a multilateral dialogue to achieve "fair peace ... based on the United Nations (UN) Charter and international law."[2] Putin‘s information operation on June 14 sought to and partially succeeded in sabotaging the summit by refocusing the international conversation to Russia's absence at the summit, instead of allowing the summit's participants to proceed with the intended purpose of garnering international support for Ukraine and Ukraine‘s efforts to involve the broader international community in ending the war. Ukrainian Presidential Office Head Andriy Yermak stated before the summit opened on June 15 that Ukraine and its international partners can give a joint peace plan to a Russian representative at a second peace summit if a Russian representative attends.[3]

Putin specifically outlined his demands for "peace" negotiations in Ukraine a day before the start of the Global Peace Summit to undermine Western support for legitimate Ukrainian demands from Russia and divert attention away from the task of building an international consensus around how to ensure that Russia’s illegal war of aggression does not result in an unjust Russian victory. Putin's restated prerequisites for "peace" negotiations included the recognition of Russia's illegal annexation of occupied and Ukrainian-controlled territory and Ukraine's agreement to demilitarization, "denazification" (the toppling of the current Ukrainian government and its replacement with pro-Russian proxies), and Ukraine's agreement to abandon efforts to join any external security blocs — the same demands he made prior to the start of the full-scale invasion in 2022 and has consistently reiterated throughout the war.[4] Putin‘s overture that he is open to any kind of “negotiations“ not predicated on what is effectively Ukraine’s unconditional surrender is therefore inherently misleading. Putin’s duplicitous statements about his supposed “willingness to negotiate” thus reoriented international discourse to highlight how Putin — who is not interested in upholding the principles of the UN Charter in his war of conquest in Ukraine — was not invited to the conference, and how Putin’s absence at the summit presented some kind of intrinsic paradox. It did not.

Several Western officials recognized that Russia attempted to derail the purpose of the summit and focus its conversations on Russia's absence. US Vice President Kamala Harris stated that Putin's June 14 “peace” proposal was not a call for negotiations but a call "for [Ukraine's] surrender."[5] Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte stated that Russia should be involved in the peace process at "some stage," although acknowledged that Putin is not interested in negotiations "at the moment" and likely released a "ridiculous peace proposal" on June 14.[6] German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stated that "peace in Ukraine cannot be achieved without involving Russia" but noted that Russia has refused all collective calls for peace[7] US Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs in the United Nations (UN) Robert Wood stated during a UN Security Council (UNSC) meeting on June 14 that Russia's decision to convene the UNSC a day before the summit was an effort to divert the international community's attention away from the summit and distract the world from Russia's war in Ukraine.[8]

Kremlin mouthpieces amplified ongoing Russian information operations intended to further discredit and disrupt the Global Peace Summit on June 15. Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov criticized the West's "unconstructive" responses to Putin's June 14 ultimatums and claimed that the Kremlin hopes someone will hold a "more constructive" peace summit at a later, unspecified date.[9] Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Spokesperson Maria Zakharova claimed that the West must discuss Putin's June 14 ultimatums if they want peace in Ukraine and to "save the world."[10] Russian State Duma Chairperson Vyacheslav Volodin claimed that the peace summit is meaningless following Putin's ultimatums and reiterated ongoing Russian narratives intended to discredit Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as the legitimate president of Ukraine and legitimate participant in the negotiations process.[11] ISW continues to assess and observe that Russian officials typically feign interest in negotiations during critical moments of the war in order to influence Western decision-making and as part of their efforts to extract pre-emptive concessions on Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity from the West.[12] Any Western efforts to force Ukraine into negotiations with Russia before Russia abandons its genocidal and imperialist ambitions in Ukraine will almost certainly not result in a lasting solution to the conflict and only provide Putin with additional time to further optimize and prepare the Russian war machine for a future invasion.

Ukrainian First Deputy Defense Minister Lieutenant General Ivan Havrylyuk reported that Western military assistance has begun to arrive in Ukraine, but that Western military assistance will likely not arrive at scale and significantly impact the frontline situation for several more weeks to months. Havrylyuk told the Associated Press (AP) in an article published on June 15 that Ukrainian forces are still waiting on most of the US military assistance announced in late April 2024 to arrive in Ukraine, but that the limited amount of aid that has arrived is already reducing Ukraine's artillery shortages.[13] Havrylyuk stated that Russian forces' artillery advantage has recently decreased from seven-to-one to five-to-one as a result of US aid arrivals. Havrylyuk expressed hope that Ukraine will be able to better defend its airspace in the future following the arrival of F-16 fighter jets and other Western-provided air defense assets. AP also interviewed several frontline Ukrainian commanders and servicemen who confirmed that Ukrainian forces began receiving limited amounts of Western-provided shells but noted that the shells have not arrived at the scale that Ukrainian forces need to fully defend against Russian attacks. Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský announced on June 14 that the first round of ammunition from the Czech artillery initiative has begun to arrive in Ukraine and that the Czech initiative will continue to purchase and supply ammunition for Ukraine throughout 2024.[14] Lipavský noted that five countries have already contributed funds to the initiative and that 15 additional countries have pledged to support the initiative.

Chairperson of the ruling United Russia Party Dmitry Medvedev officially replaced United Russia Secretary Andrey Turchak with acting Russian Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Ural Federal District Vladimir Yakushev on June 15.[15] Medvedev also announced that Turchak formally resigned on June 15.[16] Russian President Vladimir Putin named Turchak as the acting governor of the Altai Republic on June 4 in an apparent demotion likely tied to Turchak’s prior affiliation with the Wagner Group, efforts to increase his political power, and failure to execute Putin‘s vision for involving veterans in the Russian government.[17] Yakushev received a degree in Law, Finance, and Credit and Economic Sciences; and served as the head of Tyumen City and Tyumen Oblast and Minister of Construction, Housing, and Communal Services before becoming the Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Ural Federal District.[18] The Russian Plenipotentiary Office announced that Yakushev will retain his position as the Russian presidential plenipotentiary envoy to the Ural Federal District in addition to his new role as the Secretary of the United Russia Party.[19] Russian political commentators observed that Yakushev’s two roles are contradictory since they require him to both engage with Ural regional affairs while also playing an important federal United Russia party role in Moscow.[20] One Russian political commentator presented multiple hypotheses for Yakushev’s dual appointment, including that the Kremlin lacks an administrative strategy so is making "chaotic" government appointments or that Yanushev is a “non-negotiable candidate” for these roles.[21]

Russian President Vladimir Putin is preparing a group of trusted and Kremlin-affiliated “veterans” to assume government roles likely in an attempt to appease Russian servicemen and domestic supporters of the war in Ukraine. Putin had a likely staged interaction with Russian military volunteer and former Krasnodar City Mayor Yevgeny Pervyshov during a meeting with the participants of the Russian presidential initiative “Time of Heroes” on June 14.[22] Pervyshov told Putin that he joined the war effort as a volunteer despite previously holding a government position and argued that participants of the “Time of Heroes” initiative would make great government officials. Putin then asked Pervyshov about his government role before mobilization, to which Pervyshov responded that he is a Russian State Duma Deputy and former mayor of Krasnodar. Putin expressed (likely fake) surprise at Pervyshov’s political career and concluded the engagement by telling Pervyshov that he has an unspecified “proposal” for Pervyshov.[23] A Kremlin-affiliated milblogger claimed that Pervyshov fought in the “Grom-Kaskad” Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Brigade, formerly known as the BARS “Kaskad” Battalion originally formed in 2017 as part of the Donetsk People‘s Republic‘s (DNR) Internal Affairs Ministry.[24] Russian political commentators also recalled that Pervyshov was a defendant in a major fraud case and implied that his decision to fight in Ukraine is not coincidental.[25]

The “Time of Heroes” initiative reportedly began training veterans of the Russian war in Ukraine in April 2024 to assume roles in the Russian government, and Pervyshov’s cameo is likely part of the ongoing Kremlin effort to appease the ever-growing Russian veteran population by appointing and prominently featuring government officials who served in Ukraine.[26] The Kremlin may attempt to incentivize Russians to fight in Ukraine by portraying military service in Ukraine as a pathway for launching a public service career in the Russian government. Former United Russia Party Secretary Andrey Turchak and Russia State Duma Deputy Dmitry Sablin reportedly created and directly curated that BARS “Kaskad” Battalion in 2017 and recruited Russian officials and United Russia party members in Fall 2022 to fight as part of the battalion in occupied Luhansk Oblast.[27] (Turchak reportedly only managed to recruit seven Russian officials to fight with Kaskad).[28] Russian insider sources previously claimed that Putin entrusted Turchak with having veterans run in the Russian presidential primaries and assume positions in the Russian State Duma, but Turchak reportedly failed to accomplish this goal because local businessmen reportedly did not give up their positions in local government that Turchak needed to give to the Russian veterans.[29] Putin is likely continuing to pursue this objective through the “Time of Heroes” initiative and following his demotion of Turchak.

The Swedish military announced on June 15 that a Russian Su-24 tactical fighter-bomber plane temporarily violated Swedish airspace east of the southern tip of Gotland on June 14, likely as part of an effort to discourage European states from participating in NATO and other international institutions supporting Ukraine. The Swedish Armed Forces stated that a Russian Su-24 fighter-bomber failed to heed a verbal warning from the Swedish air combat command before Swedish JAS-39 Gripen aircraft forced the Russian Su-24 out of Swedish airspace.[30] This is the first Russian violation of Swedish airspace since 2022.[31] Russian aircraft also violated Finnish airspace on June 10 for the first time since 2022, and the Finnish Ministry of Defense (MoD) stated on June 14 that it believes that four Russian military aircraft violated Finnish airspace instead of the one aircraft the MoD previously reported.[32] Swedish Defense Minister Pål Jonson and Finnish Defense Minister Antti Häkkänen participated in a NATO defense ministers' meeting in Brussels on June 13 and 14 in preparation for the July 2024 Washington Summit, an annual summit which will cover NATO defense, deterrence, and coordinating assistance for Ukraine.[33] The Washington 2024 summit will be the first NATO summit at the level of heads of state for Sweden since its accession in March 2024.[34] Finland is the second newest NATO member, having only joined the alliance in April 2023.[35] The Kremlin likely seeks to punish Sweden for its accession to NATO and to deter NATO states, particularly its newer members, from supporting Ukraine.

Key Takeaways:

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin’s June 14 information operation about Russia's supposed “willingness to negotiate” on extreme terms tantamount to Ukraine's capitulation is succeeding in confusing the purpose of the Ukrainian-initiated Global Peace Summit in Switzerland on June 15.
  • Several Western officials recognized that Russia attempted to derail the purpose of the summit and focus its conversations on Russia's absence.
  • Kremlin mouthpieces amplified ongoing Russian information operations intended to discredit and disrupt the Global Peace Summit.
  • Ukrainian First Deputy Defense Minister Lieutenant General Ivan Havrylyuk reported that Western military assistance has begun to arrive in Ukraine, but that Western military assistance will likely not arrive at scale and significantly impact the frontline situation for several more weeks to months.
  • Chairperson of the ruling United Russia Party Dmitry Medvedev officially replaced United Russia Secretary Andrey Turchak with acting Russian Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Ural Federal District Vladimir Yakushev.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin is preparing a group of trusted and Kremlin-affiliated “veterans” to assume government roles likely in an attempt to appease Russian servicemen and domestic supporters of the war in Ukraine.
  • The Swedish military announced on June 15 that a Russian Su-24 tactical fighter-bomber plane temporarily violated Swedish airspace east of the southern tip of Gotland on June 14, likely as part of an effort to discourage European states from participating in NATO and other international institutions supporting Ukraine.
  • Russian forces recently marginally advanced near Kupyansk and Avdiivka.
  • Elements of the Russian Baltic and Pacific fleets are participating separate naval exercises.
  • A Financial Times (FT) investigation published on June 12 found that Russian officials have put Ukrainian children up for adoption whom Russia had forcibly deported from occupied Ukraine to Russia in 2022. 

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 14, 2024

Click here to read the full report with maps

Angelica Evans, Christina Harward, Kateryna Stepanenko, Nicole Wolkov, and George Barros

June 14, 2024, 10pm 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.

Click here to see ISW’s 3D control of terrain topographic map of Ukraine. Use of a computer (not a mobile device) is strongly recommended for using this data-heavy tool.

Click here to access ISW’s archive of interactive time-lapse maps of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These maps complement the static control-of-terrain map that ISW produces daily by showing a dynamic frontline. ISW will update this time-lapse map archive monthly.

Note: The data cut-off for this product was 2pm ET on June 14. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the June 15 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin outlined his uncompromising demands for Ukraine’s capitulation as a prerequisite for "peace" negotiations in Ukraine, including the recognition of Russia’s 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.[1] 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 Ukraine’s 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.[2] 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.[3] 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.[4] 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.[5] 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.[6] Several prominent Russian milbloggers also stated that Putin’s 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.[7] Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov denied interpretations that Putin’s June 14 speech was another ultimatum.[8] 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.[9]

Russia is also attempting to sabotage the peace summit in Switzerland via cyberattacks. Swiss news agencies, citing the Swiss National Cyber Security Center's data, reported an increase in cyberattacks on June 13 against several Swiss government websites and organizations that will participate in the peace summit.[10] The Swiss National Cyber Security Center did not rule out the possibility of similar attacks during the peace summit. Swiss media reported on June 14 that a Russian hacker group claimed responsibility for distributed denial of service (DDoS) cyberattacks on Swiss internet infrastructure and threatened that there would be additional cyberattacks.[11]

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. Putin claimed that the world is witnessing the “collapse of the Euro-Atlantic security system” and claimed that Western “schemes for security and prosperity in Europe” do not work. Putin outlined a five-step proposal on instituting a new “system of bilateral and multilateral guarantees of collective security in Eurasia” and claimed that he had already tasked the Russian MFA with establishing a dialogue with all of Russia's potential participants of this new security order. Putin claimed that Xi had reportedly stated that the Russian proposal to create a Eurasian security system complements the basic principles of the PRC's “initiative in the field of global security” during Putin’s recent visit to the PRC in May 2024. Putin stated that Russia will invite European and NATO countries to participate in this Eurasian security system and argued that Europe must move away from the “military presence of external powers” - implying that Europe needs to abandon NATO and the principles of the North Atlantic Treaty. Putin’s explanation of the Eurasian security system appeared to be rather vague but consistent with his long-term strategic goal of disbanding Western unity, disbanding NATO from within, and destroying the current world order. Putin continues attempts to attack and undermine NATO members despite his overtures designed to attract NATO members to join the Russian alternative for “collective Eurasian security.” Stoltenberg stated on June 14 that Russia increased its sabotage operations, cyberattacks, and other hostile actions against NATO in recent weeks.[12]

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.[13] Putin's June 14 speech is aimed at misleading the international community and undermining foreign participation in the upcoming peace summit, and several Russian milbloggers noted that Putin's speech coincided with the eve of the Ukrainian-led peace summit. The purposeful intensification of Kremlin rhetoric is part of Russia's reflexive control campaign that aims to push the West to self-deter and adopt policies that are in Russia's interests.[14] Putin's June 14 statements are the latest in Kremlin efforts to manipulate the West, and Putin likely timed his speech to coincide with several key events and discussions in the West. Putin likely aims to weaken Western unity in supporting Ukraine on the eve of the June 15-16 Global Peace Summit and following the June 13 Group of Seven (G7) and Ukraine Defense Contract Group meetings.[15] Putin may also be attempting to influence ongoing Western policy discussions about seizing Russian frozen assets, deploying Western training partners to Ukraine, and/or permissions for Ukraine to use Western-provided weapons to strike Russian military targets further into Russian territory.[16] Putin may also be attempting to prevent further Western sanctions against Russia following the imposition of new American and British sanctions against Russia on June 13.[17]

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 Russia’s neighbors in eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. Putin claimed during his speech at the Russian Foreign Ministry (MFA) on June 14 that the US is working to spread American ideology and "maintain its imperial status" by any means necessary.[18] Medvedev claimed in an op-ed published in the official Russian government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta on June 14 that Russia's ruling United Russia party founded the "For the Freedom of Nations" anti-neocolonial movement to help rid the world of Western neocolonialism.[19] Medvedev claimed that the United States, France, United Kingdom (UK), and Italy are actively perpetuating the legacies of colonialism, including in countries along Russia's borders, and that the United Nations (UN) should create a database of colonial and neocolonial crimes to prosecute colonial powers. Medvedev claimed that only "fully sovereign countries" with independence in their external and internal affairs will be able to counter Western neocolonialism and that the "For the Freedom of Nations" movement is ready to work with the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to counter neocolonialism. Medvedev claimed that the "For the Freedom of Nations" movement aims to establish political, economic, and cultural ties between the supposed Russian-led "world majority" (a group of countries including post-Soviet and non-Western states that Russia intends to rally against the West as the basis for its future world order) and establish joint opposition against neocolonialism and neo-Nazism. Medvedev noted that the "For the Freedom of Nations" movement will meet in Vladivostok later in June to discuss "practical ways" to implement its vision. Putin and Medvedev notably ignored the Russian Empire's and Soviet Union's legacies of colonizing and Russifying their neighboring nations and Russia's modern campaigns to assert Russian dominance over Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia, 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 claimed that Moldovan President Maia Sandu's efforts to move Moldova towards EU accession are leading Moldova into "neocolonial slavery," insinuating that EU accession would have a negative impact on Moldovans and is unpopular among Moldovans.[20] Recent polls notably indicate, however, that a majority of around 56 to 64 percent of Moldovans support Moldova’s EU integration.[21] Medvedev also promoted Kremlin narratives that target Moldovan-Romanian relations, claiming that Moldova will likely turn into the "northeastern outskirts of Romania" if it joins the EU and that Romanian authorities would repress and forcibly Romanianize the Moldovan population in the future.[22] Medvedev claimed that Romania ”occupied” Bessarabia (a historical region in Moldova and southwestern Ukraine) from 1918-1940 and 1941-1944 but failed to mention how the Soviet Union laid claims to Bessarabia under the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with Nazi Germany and coerced Romania to cede Bessarabian territory to the Soviet Union in 1940.[23] Russian MFA Spokesperson Maria Zakharova similarly claimed on May 9 that the Moldovan government is replacing the Moldovan language with the Romanian language to invoke historical animus that some Moldavans harbor towards Romania with the goal of destabilizing Moldovan society.[24] Kremlin rhetoric about a unique Moldovan identity notably differs from Kremlin information operations alleging that Ukraine lacks a unique language, culture, identity, and history from Russia.[25] Kremlin narratives about Moldovan identity aim to target members of the Moldovan population who identify as Moldovan and may fear that Moldova’s Western integration would lead to unification with Romania.

Putin and Medvedev’s Russian information operations are the latest in the Kremlin's ongoing efforts to destabilize Moldovan society and prevent Moldova's accession to the EU.[26] Moldovan General Police Inspectorate Head Viorel Cernauteanu stated on June 13 that Moldovan authorities estimate that Russia is spending at least two million dollars per month to fund affiliates of US-sanctioned, Kremlin-affiliated Moldovan opposition politician Ilan Shor who aim to destabilize Moldova.[27] Cernauteanu stated that the Kremlin is spending part of this money to pay off the debts that Shor affiliates accrued during the Fall 2023 elections and protests. Cernauteanu also stated that the Kremlin funnels money into Moldova using "carriers" (likely referring to smugglers) who receive about $150-$200 for carrying large amounts of money. Cernauteanu noted that some of the smugglers are cooperating with Moldovan investigators.[28] Shor and his affiliates reportedly paid demonstrators to protest against Sandu and engaged in voter bribery during Moldova's regional elections in 2022 and 2023.[29] Moldovan authorities confiscated over one million dollars from Kremlin-linked Moldovan opposition politicians at the Chisinau airport on the night of April 22 to 23.[30]

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. Grigoryan announced on June 14 that he would participate in the peace summit but did not state whether other senior Armenian officials would attend.[31] Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Armenian service Radio Azatutyun reported that the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) previously condemned Grigoryan's participation in a Ukrainian-initiated multilateral peace forum in Malta in October 2023.[32] Medvedev accused the US, European Union (EU), and NATO of attempting to sever the "centuries-old friendship" between Armenia and Russia and called agreements with such Western institutions "neocolonial mousetraps" in an article published on June 14 in official Russian government outlet Rossiyskaya Gazeta.[33] Medvedev insinuated that Armenian efforts to join the EU will fail and result in a similar outcome as the current situation in Ukraine. Armenia's decision to send a senior representative to a Ukrainian-initiated peace summit follows Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's announcement that Armenia "will decide when to leave" the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and accusation that Russia indirectly and Belarus directly helped Azerbaijan to prepare for the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War further highlights the deteriorating Russian-Armenian relations.[34] Russian officials have since responded to Pashinyan’s statements with increasingly hostile statements.[35] Politico reported on June 13, citing leaked documents, that Belarus provided Azerbaijan with artillery equipment, electronic warfare (EW) systems, and drones between 2018 and 2022 that Azerbaijan reportedly used in recent conflicts in Nagorno-Karabakh and against Armenia.[36]

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 Russia’s operational and deep rear areas in Russian territory with US-provided weapons.[37] Politico reported on June 13 that the senior official said that there is a “constant conversation and reassessment” of US policy restricting deeper Ukrainian strikes into Russian territory and that no decision is final, but that there is no “impending” policy change. ISW assesses that the Biden Administration’s 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 Russia’s ground sanctuary by only 16 percent at maximum.[38] ISW assesses that the West maintains the ability to substantially disrupt Russian operations at scale by allowing Ukraine to use Western-provided weapons to strike Russia’s operational rear and deep rear areas in Russian territory.[39]

Ukrainian forces conducted a large series of drone strikes against Russia on the night of June 13 to 14. Geolocated imagery collected on June 14 shows damage from a Ukrainian drone strike against the Morozovsk Airbase in Rostov Oblast and indicates that Ukrainian forces struck an electrical substation and an aircraft hangar at the base.[40] Additional footage and photos show an explosion and smoke plume over the Morozovsk Airbase and Rostov-on-Don, and the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) reported that Russian air defenses destroyed 70 drones over Rostov Oblast and several drones over Voronezh and Kursk oblasts.[41] Voronezh Oblast Governor Aleksandr Gusev stated that debris from downed Ukrainian drones damaged fuel tanks at an oil depot in the oblast.[42]

Key Takeaways:

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin outlined his uncompromising demands for Ukraine’s capitulation as a prerequisite for "peace" negotiations in Ukraine, including the recognition of Russia’s 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 Russia’s 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 Russia’s 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.

 

Russian Offensive Campaing Assessment, June 13, 2024

Click here to read the full report

Grace Mappes, Angelica Evans, Christina Harward, Karolina Hird, and George Barros

June 13, 2024, 6:45pm ET 

Ukraine signed bilateral ten-year security agreements with the United States and Japan on June 13 as other partner states reaffirmed their long-term support for Ukraine within the Group of 7 (G7) and Ramstein formats. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced on June 13 that he signed bilateral ten-year security agreements with US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on the sidelines of the ongoing G7 Summit.[1] The US-Ukraine agreement provides for long-term cooperation in defense and security, economic recovery and reform, and the advancement of Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic integration.[2] The Japan-Ukraine agreement provides for Japan's $4.5 billion contribution to Ukraine in 2024 and continued ten-year long support in security and defense, humanitarian aid, technical and financial cooperation, reconstruction efforts, and sanction measures against Russia.[3] Zelensky lauded both agreements as historic breakthroughs for Ukraine's bilateral relations with both the United States and Japan.[4] The United Kingdom (UK) Prime Minister's Office reported on June 12 that UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will announce up to £242 million (about $208 million) in bilateral assistance for Ukraine's humanitarian, energy, and economic and social recovery needs while at the G7 Summit.[5] French outlet France24 reported that G7 leaders are also finalizing details on the transfer of up to $50 billion in frozen Russian assets to Ukraine by the end of 2024.[6] G7 countries collectively possess $235 billion in frozen Russian assets, and G7 leaders are reportedly brokering a deal that would rely on a US-led $50 billion loan that would reach Ukraine by the end of 2024 and be "topped up" with contributions by other allies.[7] NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also announced during a Ukraine Defense Contract Group at the Ramstein Airbase in Germany on June 12 that NATO partners will agree on a comprehensive military and financial aid package for Ukraine during the upcoming NATO summit in July 2024 and emphasized that NATO will lead efforts to provide security assistance and training for Ukraine.[8] Stoltenberg also stated that the supply of weapons to Ukraine may become mandatory for NATO members in order to ensure that NATO's security assistance for Ukraine remains "reliable and large-scale."[9]

 

The United States finally sanctioned the Moscow Exchange, other significant Russian financial institutions, and Russian defense manufacturers 839 days into Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The US Department of the Treasury announced on June 12 sanctions against more than 300 individuals and entities supporting Russia's wartime economy, including the Moscow Exchange and its subsidiaries; major banks VTB Bank, Sberbank, and Tochka Bank; and leading Russian defense industrial base (DIB) entities including state owned defense conglomerate Rostec, the state owned aerospace and defense company United Aircraft Corporation, vehicle and vehicle components manufacturer Kamaz, main Russian tank manufacturer Uralvagonzavod, and helicopter design and manufacturing company Russian Helicopters.[10] The UK also announced similar sanctions targeting Russian financial institutions, entities supporting the Russian DIB, and Russia's shadow fleet of oil tankers.[11]

 

The Russian government appears confident that these new sanctions will minimally impact the Russian financial system, and the delay in US and other Western countries sanctioning these entities has given the Russian financial system time to prepare and mitigate such sanctions. The Moscow Exchange immediately suspended trading in US dollars (USD), euros, and Hong Kong dollars (HKP) in several markets on June 12 following the US sanctions announcement, and the Russian Central Bank instituted a fixed exchange rate for over-the-counter trading using the USD and euro on June 13.[12] Western and some Russian media widely circulated reports of some Russian banks appearing to sell USD to Russians at 100-200 rubles per dollar on June 12 and 13, but prominent Russian banks Sberbank and VTB quickly announced on June 12 that the new US sanctions would not impact their operations.[13] The Russian Central Bank has prepared for these sanctions and developed a procedure in October 2022 for setting currency exchange rates when it cannot obtain such data from the Moscow Exchange (data the Moscow Exchange can presumably no longer provide for USD).[14] The Russian Central Bank began publishing information on over-the-counter foreign exchange trade in April 2024.[15] The Russian Central Bank set its rubles per USD exchange rate for June 14 to 88.2080, only 88 kopecks lower than the previous rate, and the ruble-to-euro exchange rate only decreased by 91 kopecks to 94.8342 rubles per euro.[16] Bloomberg reported that multiple Russian metals producers and a fertilizer maker are not worried about the end of USD-ruble exchange trading and that Russian state-owned gas monopoly Gazprom has not used the Moscow Exchange for settlements "in a long time."[17] Russian Security Council Deputy Chairperson Dmitry Medvedev complained about the new US sanctions, claiming that Russia is stable enough that it does not need to react to these sanctions out of economic need but that Russia should inflict "maximum harm" on the West in reaction to these sanctions because the United States and its allies "declared war on us [Russia] without rules."[18] Medvedev's choice to publish this only on his Russian language Telegram account indicates he likely means to posture strength and stability to a domestic Russian audience rather than address international audiences.

 

Bloomberg assessed on June 13 that the new US sanctions would make it more difficult for Russian businesses to trade on the international market due to the increased costs of over-the-counter trading and reduced foreign willingness to do business with Russian entities due to the fear of secondary sanctions.[19] A source close to the Russian Central Bank told Bloomberg that Chinese banks will gradually reduce their cooperation with the Moscow Exchange given these issues but that these banks will still provide yuan liquidity to support imports. The source also stated that there is uncertainty whether the Russian Central Bank's new exchange rates will work and how much costs of foreign trading and business will rise.

 

US President Joe Biden reiterated his opposition to allowing Ukrainian forces to strike military targets in Russia’s operational or deep rear areas in Russian territory with US-provided weapons. Biden acknowledged that it “makes a lot of sense” to allow Ukrainian forces to strike Russian forces on the immediate side of the international border in Russian territory but that the United States has not changed its restrictions prohibiting Ukraine from striking Russia’s operational or deep rear in Russian territory.[20] ISW assesses that the Biden Administration’s 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 Russia’s ground sanctuary by only 16 percent at maximum.[21] ISW assesses that the West maintains the ability to substantially disrupt Russian operations at scale by allowing Ukraine to use Western-provided weapons to strike Russia’s operational rear and deep rear areas in Russian territory.[22]

 

Sustained Ukrainian strikes against Russian military targets in occupied Crimea appear to be forcing the Russian military to commit additional air defense assets to Crimea in order to defend existing bases and logistics infrastructure, and further Ukrainian strikes against such air defense assets may render the peninsula untenable as a staging ground for the Russian military. Ukraine's Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Head Lieutenant General Kyrylo Budanov reported on June 12 that Russian forces placed an S-500 air defense system (essentially a modernized version of the S-300) in Crimea as part of their efforts to strengthen Russia's air defense umbrella over Crimea.[23] Budanov stated that Russian forces have not previously used an S-500 air defense system in combat and characterized the system as "experimental." Forbes reported on June 12 that the Belbek Airfield in occupied Crimea is becoming an "attrition trap" for Russian air defenses following several successful Ukrainian strikes on air defenses near the airfield.[24] Forbes stated that it is possible that Ukrainian forces have destroyed elements of four or five S-400 batteries during recent strikes but noted that the Russian military has over 50 S-400 batteries. An X (formerly known as Twitter) user, citing satellite imagery, noted on June 11 that Russian forces have placed 17 barges near the Kerch Strait Bridge that connects occupied Crimea to Krasnodar Krai.[25] Russian forces likely intend for the barges to serve as defenses against Ukrainian naval drone strikes against the bridge, and Russian forces previously installed eight barges on the southern side of the bridge for similar reasons.[26] Ukraine's current efforts to attrit the Russian air defense umbrella in Crimea notably may have the exploitable effect of drawing more Russian air defense assets to Crimea, making them vulnerable to further Ukrainian strikes. ISW previously assessed that Ukrainian forces may be conducting an organized effort to degrade Russian air defenses, which could enable Ukraine to more effectively leverage manned fixed-wing airpower (namely using F-16 fighter jets) in the long term.[27] The West has long supported Ukraine's right to strike Russian military targets in occupied Crimea, and Ukrainian forces could in principle be able to replicate their successful strikes against military targets in Russia if the West approved such strikes in Russia's rear.

 

The People's Republic of China (PRC) is reportedly using diplomatic channels to convince other countries to not support the upcoming June 15-16 Global Peace Summit in Switzerland. Reuters reported on June 13 that 10 Beijing-based diplomats from unspecified countries stated that the PRC is using meetings with visiting foreign officials, phone calls, and messages on the WeChat platform to lobby other countries to support the PRC's and Brazil's suggested six-point peace plan, which called for a peace conference that includes both Ukraine and Russia.[28] Reuters reported that diplomatic sources stated that the PRC has not overtly criticized the upcoming peace summit in Switzerland when speaking with developing states and is instead trying to subtly bring about certain outcomes. One diplomatic source stated that the PRC has told developing states that the Swiss peace summit will prolong the war in Ukraine, and two diplomatic sources reportedly stated that the PRC has also been telling unspecified Western states that many developing states agree with the PRC's views about the Swiss peace summit. Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly asked PRC President Xi Jinping in May 2024 to "snub" the peace conference in Switzerland.[29] Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated on June 2 that Russia is using Chinese influence and diplomats to disrupt the Global Peace Summit.[30] The Kremlin is likely trying to exploit the PRC's greater diplomatic connections and influence in the world to forward Russian interests.

 

The United States, United Kingdom (UK), and Canada released a joint statement on July 13 acknowledging and condemning Russian subversive activity and electoral interference efforts in Moldova, which is consistent with ISW's long-standing assessment of the Kremlin's ongoing hybrid campaign to destabilize Moldovan democracy.[31] The statement noted that the United States, UK, and Canada share Moldovan President Maia Sandu's concerns that the Kremlin is seeking to undermine Moldovan democratic institutions and practices in the lead-up to Moldova's October 2024 presidential election and European Union (EU) membership referendum. The statement noted that the Kremlin is leveraging criminal groups to finance political activities that undermine Moldovan democracy and is supporting candidates for the presidency that are "exacerbating social tensions." The statement heavily emphasizes the role of Russian disinformation campaigns targeting Moldovan democracy. ISW has written at length about recent Kremlin efforts to destabilize Moldova internally, including by supporting pro-Kremlin Moldovan political parties and conducting targeted disinformation campaigns.[32]

 

Key Takeaways:

 

  • Ukraine signed bilateral ten-year security agreements with the US and Japan on June 13 as other partner states reaffirmed their long-term support for Ukraine within the Group of 7 (G7) and Ramstein formats.
  • The US finally sanctioned the Moscow Exchange, other significant Russian financial institutions, and Russian defense manufacturers 839 days into Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
  • The Russian government appears confident that these new sanctions will minimally impact the Russian financial system, and the delay in US and other Western countries sanctioning these entities has given the Russian financial system time to prepare and mitigate such sanctions.
  • US President Joe Biden reiterated his opposition to allowing Ukrainian forces to strike military targets in Russia’s operational or deep rear areas in Russian territory with US-provided weapons.
  • Sustained Ukrainian strikes against Russian military targets in occupied Crimea appear to be forcing the Russian military to commit additional air defense assets to Crimea in order to defend existing bases and logistics infrastructure, and further Ukrainian strikes against such air defense assets may render the peninsula untenable as a staging ground for the Russian military.
  • The People's Republic of China (PRC) is reportedly using diplomatic channels to convince other countries to not support the upcoming June 15-16 Global Peace Summit in Switzerland.
  • The US, United Kingdom (UK), and Canada released a joint statement on July 13 acknowledging and condemning Russian subversive activity and electoral interference efforts in Moldova, which is consistent with ISW's long-standing assessment of the Kremlin's ongoing hybrid campaign to destabilize Moldovan democracy.
  • Ukrainian forces recently advanced north of Kharkiv City and Russian forces marginally advanced near Siversk and Avdiivka.
  • Russian federal subjects (regions) continue to increase monetary incentives to recruit military personnel.

Russian Offensive Campaing Assessment, June 12, 2024

Click here to read the full report

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.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3] 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.[4] 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.[5] 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.[6] 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 Ukraine’s 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.

Western officials have indicated that Ukraine will continue to face material and training constraints, which will likely prevent Ukraine from leveraging fixed-wing airpower at scale in 2024. Ukrainian and Western officials have previously indicated that it will take significant time to adequately train enough Ukrainian pilots and equip Ukrainian forces with the roughly at least 150 F-16s necessary to gain the air superiority necessary to support ground operations.[7] Ukrainian officials have also identified their envisioned use of F-16s and other fixed-wing aircraft to constrain Russian aviation operations, and Ukrainian Air Force Spokesperson Ilya Yevlash noted that only two F-16 squadrons, roughly 18 aircraft, would be enough to significantly impact the situation in the Ukrainian airspace.[8] These restraints should not fundamentally constrain Ukraine’s ability to leverage airpower at scale in the long run, however, should Ukraine’s Western partners lean into supporting Ukraine’s air domain and deep strike capabilities.

Russian Northern Fleet naval vessels arrived at Havana Harbor, Cuba, on June 12 for their planned five-day-long port call. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) reported that the Northern Fleet detachment — including the Admiral Flota Sovetskogo Soyuza Gorshkov Admiral Gorshkov-class frigate, Kazan nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine, the Academic Pashin replenishment oiler, and the Nikolai Chiker rescue tug — arrived in Havana after the Kazan and Admiral Gorshkov completed planned high-precision missile exercises.[9] Kremlin newswire TASS reported that the Admiral Gorshkov will be open for public viewing until June 15, and the port call will end on June 17.[10] Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also notably met with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla in Moscow on June 12 against the backdrop of the port call to discuss Russian-Cuban relations and foreign policy alignment.[11] ISW previously assessed that the Russian port call in Havana is likely part of a larger Russian effort to invoke the historical memory of the Cuban Missile Crisis to encourage US self-deterrence.[12] The presence of the nuclear-capable Kazan submarine so close to US territorial waters in a port that holds fraught historical memory for the US is likely specifically intended to instill fear in the US and the West in order to force self-deterrence and weaken the West's resistance to Russia. Both US and Cuban officials have emphasized that this port call does not pose a tangible threat to the US.[13]

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.[14] Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan clarified that Pashinyan did not state that Armenia is leaving the CSTO but that Armenia "will decide when [Armenia] will leave the CSTO, and [Armenia] will not go back."[15] Western and Russian media outlets largely portrayed Pashinyan's statement as confirmation that Armenia will leave the CSTO.[16] Pashinyan also reiterated at the National Assembly's question-and-answer session that the CSTO failed to fulfill its obligations to Armenia and that CSTO member states "are planning" a war against Armenia with Azerbaijan. Pashinyan indirectly accused Russia and directly accused Belarus in May 2024 of helping Azerbaijan to prepare for the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War.[17] Pashinyan acknowledged in February 2024 that Armenia had "essentially" frozen its participation in the CSTO because the CSTO "failed to fulfill its obligations in the field of security" to Armenia, particularly in 2021 and 2022.[18] Armenia has also appeared to be attempting to reduce its bilateral security relations with Russia, and Pashinyan stated in March 2024 that Russian border guards will leave the Yerevan International Airport by August 1, 2024.[19] Armenia's withdrawal from the CSTO would largely formalize a de facto status quo given that that Armenia has effectively abstained from participation in the CSTO since Pashinyan and Armenian representatives failed to attend several consecutive CSTO events starting mid-to-late 2023.[20] Armenia's formal withdrawal from the CSTO would be a more significant blow to Russia, as Russia has leveraged the CSTO to undermine former Soviet states’ sovereignty and project power across the former Soviet Union.[21]

Georgian opposition-leaning outlet Mtavari reported that the Georgian government is planning to resume diplomatic relations with Russia. There has been no official confirmation of Mtavari’s report as of this publication. Mtavari reported on June 11 that unspecified sources stated that the ruling Georgian Dream party is preparing to restore diplomatic relations with Russia and that the Georgian and Russian governments are currently selecting employees for the Georgian embassy in Moscow.[22] Mtavari stated that the Georgian Dream party denied this information and called it "groundless." The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) also claimed to Kremlin newswire TASS on June 12 that Georgian opposition sources are spreading false information about the matter.[23] ISW continues to assess that Georgian Dream actors likely intend to purposefully derail long-term Georgian efforts for Euro-Atlantic integration, which plays into continued Russian hybrid operations to divide, destabilize, and weaken Georgia.[24]

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).


Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 11, 2024

Click here to read the full report.

Angelica Evans, Karolina Hird, Nicole Wolkov, Grace Mappes, and George Barros 

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.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 10, 2024

Click here to read the full report.

Grace Mappes, Nicole Wolkov, Christina Harward, Karolina Hird, Kateryna Stepanenko, and George Barros

June 10, 2024, 8:10pm ET

Note: The data cut-off for this product was 1:45pm ET on June 10. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the June 11 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.

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 [SMD] and Russian Aerospace Forces [VKS]).[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 imagery’s 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 military–focused 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 reproachment—Russian 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 [Russo-Iranian] 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.


Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 9, 2024

Click here to read the full report with maps

George Barros, Angelica Evans, Christina Harward, Riley Bailey, and Kateryna Stepanenko

June 9, 2024, 6:45pm ET

Note: The data cut-off for this product was 1:15pm ET on June 9. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the June 10 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.

The Biden Administration’s 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 Russia’s 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 Ukraine’s 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 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 Russia’s operational rear and deep rear, and US policy forbids Ukraine from using ATACMS anywhere in Russia.[2] US President Joe Biden’s limited policy change in late May 2024 regarding the use of US-provided weapons against military targets in Russia removed at maximum 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 Ukraine’s 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 [Ukrainian] 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 space’s area may be less than 16 percent, therefore.

The Biden Administration’s limited policy reversal permitting Ukraine to use US-provided weapons to strike Russian military targets within Russian territory has removed at maximum only 16 percent of Russia’s ground sanctuary – a small area along the Russian-Ukrainian international border. The US policy change, while a step in the right direction, is by itself inadequate and unable to disrupt Russian operations at scale. ISW assesses that the West maintains the ability to substantially disrupt Russian operations at scale by allowing Ukraine to use Western-provided weapons to strike Russia’s operational rear and deep rear areas in Russian territory.[5]

Likely Ukrainian forces struck a Russian Su-57 fighter aircraft at the Akhtubinsk Airfield in Astrakhan Oblast between June 7 and 8. Ukraine's Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) published satellite imagery on June 9 reportedly showing the Su-57 aircraft at the airfield on June 7 and damaged Su-57 following the strike on June 8 but did not explicitly claim responsibility for the attack.[6] The June 8 satellite image shows burn marks from an explosion, but the scale of the damage to the Su-57 is unclear from the provided footage. The GUR reported that Russian forces use the Su-57 aircraft to launch Kh-59/69 cruise missiles and that the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) have very few Su-57 aircraft in service. Ukraine's Southern Operational Command reported that the GUR struck one of the six operational Su-57 aircraft and that Russian forces are constructing another six aircraft.[7] GUR Spokesperson Andriy Yusov stated that there may have been two Su-57 aircraft at the airfield during the June 8 strike and that the GUR is assessing battle damage.[8] Russian milbloggers seized on the June 8 strike to criticize the Russian military command for not constructing hangars to hide Russian aircraft from Ukrainian strikes and claimed that Russian forces could construct hangars at every military airfield in Russia for the cost of one Su-57 aircraft.[9] Su-57s cost an estimated $35 million.[10]

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. Sky News reported on June 9 that a Ukrainian military source stated that Ukrainian forces struck a Russian Ropucha-class landing ship in an unspecified location on the evening of June 8.[11] The source reportedly stated that Russian forces recently moved the ship from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov and that the ship is the fifth Ropucha-class ship that Ukrainian strikes have sunk or "rendered unserviceable." Sky News reported that the source stated that the strike shows that Russian forces "cannot operate with freedom" in the Black Sea and that the strike "thwart[ed] Russian shipments of ammunition and key military supplies" to unspecified locations. Ukrainian channel Crimean Wind and Ukrainian Mariupol Mayoral Advisor Petro Andryushchenko reported on June 9 that a Ukrainian drone struck a Russian ship near the port of Yeysk, Krasnodar Krai on the night of June 8 to 9.[12] Crimean Wind reported that satellite imagery from the morning of June 9 suggests that Ukrainian forces may not have hit a large landing ship but may have struck a Vasily Bykov-class patrol ship.[13] Crimean Wind reported that satellite imagery also shows an oil slick in the area that was not present in satellite imagery collected earlier. Ukrainian officials have not commented on the reported strike as of the time of this publication, and ISW cannot independently confirm the strike. Satellite imagery collected on June 5 indicated that Russia moved at least 18 naval vessels, including two Vasily Bukov-class patrol ships and an unspecified number of Ropucha-class landing ships, from the port in Novorossiysk, and some of the ships were reportedly sailing towards Crimea as of June 6.[14] Ukraine's Southern Operational Command Spokesperson Captain Third Rank Dmytro Pletenchuk stated on June 7 the Russian Navy likely transferred a large grouping of vessels to the Black Sea and Sea of Azov in order to reduce their vulnerability to Ukrainian drone strikes.[15]

The Kremlin's concerted effort to remove and arrest senior Russian defense officials may be extending to civilian regional administration officials. Russian authorities arrested Tyumen Oblast Deputy Governor Vyacheslav Vakhrin on June 9, Republic of Karelia Legislative Assembly Head of the Committee on Budget and Taxes Vitaly Krasulin on May 29, Oryol Oblast Gubernatorial Advisor Sergei Lezhnev on May 27, and Krasnodar Krai Deputy Governor Sergei Vlasov on May 24 for various fraud and bribery charges.[16] Russian authorities have detained at least five senior Russian MoD officials and former military commanders since late April 2024, and The Moscow Times reported on May 24 that these are the first of dozens or hundreds of anticipated arrests.[17] An unnamed acting Russian government official told The Moscow Times that the arrests could spiral into the largest effort to remove Russian military officials in modern Russian history.[18] Russian authorities may intend to use the guise of anti-corruption campaigns to conduct a large-scale removal of Russian defense officials and could easily replicate such efforts against civilian officials in Russian federal subjects.[19] Kaliningrad Oblast deputies proposed on June 9 to dismiss any Kaliningrad Oblast governors recognized as foreign agents, possibly another mechanism or informational justification that Russian authorities may try to use to remove officials from regional administrations.[20] The removal and arrest of regional officials comes amid an apparent effort by Russian President Vladimir Putin to remove from power the political and military figures that lost his trust in 2022 and 2023.[21] Putin may also seek to disempower regional officials who have lost his trust and rebalance which regional officials have his favor. Putin notably recently platformed St. Petersburg Governor Alexander Beglov at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), suggesting that Beglov may currently have Putin's favor despite his past controversies.[22]

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. Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported that politicians of the Victory electoral bloc discussed the October 20, 2024 Moldovan presidential election and referendum on Moldova's accession to the European Union (EU).[23] US-sanctioned Moldovan politician and Victory bloc founder Ilan Shor stated that he is confident that the Victory bloc can defeat Moldovan President Maia Sandu in Moldova’s October 2024 presidential election and will "use whatever methods are necessary" to accomplish this goal and free Moldova from the "pro-European bandits" who are currently leading Moldova.[24] Shor stated that the only way to "revive Moldova" is for Moldova to join the Kremlin-dominated Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and that the Victory bloc is working towards this. Chairperson of the Victory bloc's parliamentary group Vasile Bolea claimed that Moldova is becoming the second country to turn away from Russia - referring to Ukraine as the first - and that Moldova's pro-Russian opposition will resist this.[25] Kremlin-affiliated governor of Moldova's pro-Russian autonomous region of Gagauzia Yevgenia Gutsul stated that the Victory bloc held its congress in Russia because the Moldovan government is threatening Moldovan oppositionists and claimed that Moldova will be drawn into the conflict in Ukraine if Moldovans vote to join the EU.[26]

Gutsul also met with a series of Kremlin officials and Russian governors during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), further solidifying her connections to the Kremlin. Gutsul briefly met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of SPIEF on June 9 and emphasized Gagauzia's desire for greater cooperation with Russia.[27] Gutsul also met with United Russia State Duma Deputy Nikolay Valuev; Russian Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Compatriots Living Abroad, and International Humanitarian Cooperation (Rossotrudnichestvo) General Director Yevgeny Primakov; Republic of Tatarstan Head Rustam Minnikhanov; St. Petersburg Governor Alexander Beglov; and several other regional officials on June 6, 7, and 8.[28] Gutsul also attended a panel on "traditional values" with veteran Russian propagandist and RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan on June 8.[29] Gutsul also claimed that she will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin again in the future despite pressure from the Moldovan government but did not specify a time frame for this meeting.[30]

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.[31] Dodon claimed that the Moldovan government is militarizing Moldova and preparing Moldova for the "Ukrainian scenario" by increasing Moldova's defense spending and cooperation with NATO. Dodon claimed that the upcoming Moldovan presidential election in October 2024 will be illegitimate and unconstitutional. Dodon called on Moldova to participate in Russia-led organizations such as the EAEU and the CIS. Dodon claimed that the Moldovan government is persecuting oppositionists like Gutsul and himself. Dodon claimed that Moldovan authorities may allow Ukraine to "destabilize" the Moldovan breakaway republic of Transnistria or may conduct "provocations" against Gagauzia in the future.

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. Dodon claimed that Moldovan opposition parties must work together to defeat Sandu in the presidential election and noted that if Moldovan opposition parties do not unite behind a single candidate, there will be competition between them.[32] Dodon stated that the opposition's candidate should be a well-known person who is apolitical and not the leader of a political party but added that he may run for president if the opposition cannot agree on a candidate. Dodon stated that his relationship with Shor is "complicated" and that they have not communicated. Dodon stated, however, that they will need to cooperate as the "enemy of my enemy is my potential partner and friend." The Kremlin is likely aware that the Victory bloc's yet-to-be-announced presidential candidate has a lower chance of beating Sandu in the election if other major opposition parties, such as the Socialist Party that has a coalition with the Communist Party, also run candidates. Dodon's June 9 interviews demonstrate that Dodon understands that he will need to cooperate with Shor and the Victory electoral bloc but is currently reluctant to do so. Dodon reportedly has close ties to the Kremlin dating back to his time as president, and the Kremlin is highly likely exploiting its ties to Dodon in its overall efforts to influence the Moldovan election.[33] The parallels between the information operations that both the Victory bloc congress and Dodon promoted suggest a coordinated anti-Sandu effort. Dodon's public statements about his "complicated" relationship with Shor and his lack of cooperation with the Victory bloc so far suggest that the Kremlin, Dodon, and Shor have not yet agreed on a presidential candidate or electoral strategy, however.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Biden Administration’s 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 Russia’s 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.

 

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 8, 2024

Click here to read the full report with maps

Christina Harward, Riley Bailey, Grace Mappes, Kateryna Stepanenko, and George Barros

June 8, 2024, 7:30pm ET 

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 [LMD]) 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] Ukraine’s 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.


Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 7, 2024

Click here to read the full report with maps

Riley Bailey, Christina Harward, Nicole Wolkov, Grace Mappes, and George Barros

June 7, 2024, 10:00pm ET

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 Russia‘s 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 military’s 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 Putin’s 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 Russia’s 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] Putin’s 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 [non-ethnically Russian] peoples of the Russian Federation" with respect as "unity is [Russia's] 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. Putin’s 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 Vorontsova’s 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 Russia’s 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. Putin’s 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.
 

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 6, 2024

Click here to read the full report.

Riley Bailey, Christina Harward, Nicole Wolkov, Grace Mappes, and George Barros

June 6, 2024, 8:35pm ET

Note: The data cut-off for this product was 1:10pm ET on June 6. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the June 7 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.

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 Russia’s campaign to destroy Ukrainian statehood.[7]

Russian naval vessels will make a port call in Cuba on June 12–17, likely as part of a larger effort to invoke the historical memory of the Cuban Missile Crisis as part of Russia’s 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 Russia’s 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 weapons–capable 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 120–130 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 Prosecutor’s 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 [Russian] 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 [the Taliban] from the list of banned organizations [in Russia]."[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 12–17, likely as part of a larger effort to invoke the historical memory of the Cuban Missile Crisis as part of Russia’s 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.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 5, 2024

 Click here to read the full report

Nicole Wolkov, Riley Bailey, Kateryna Stepanenko, Karolina Hird, and George Barros

June 5, 2024, 9:45pm 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.

Click here to see ISW’s 3D control of terrain topographic map of Ukraine. Use of a computer (not a mobile device) is strongly recommended for using this data-heavy tool.

Click here to access ISW’s archive of interactive time-lapse maps of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These maps complement the static control-of-terrain map that ISW produces daily by showing a dynamic frontline. ISW will update this time-lapse map archive monthly.

Note: The data cut-off for this product was 2:15pm ET on June 5. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the June 6 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.

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 2024–2025.

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 Putin’s ongoing effort to remove from power the political and military figures that violated his trust in 2023. The Russian Federal Council terminated Turchak’s 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 Turchak’s 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 Turchak’s 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 Turchak’s 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 Turchak’s briefing as an act of disloyalty. ISW continues to assess that Putin values loyalty over competence and had previously interpreted Prigozhin’s 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 Turchak’s 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 Popov’s 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 Turchak’s expressed support for Popov may have further convinced Putin of Turchak’s 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 meeting’s 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 state’s 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 Staff’s 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 [Moldovan] 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 Putin’s 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 state’s 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 Staff’s 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.


Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 4, 2024

Click here to read the full report. 

Riley Bailey, Karolina Hird, Christina Harward, Nicole Wolkov, and George Barros

June 4, 2024, 6:35pm ET 

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 Russia’s 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 Russia’s 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 [Russia's] 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 Kidnapping 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 Kidnapping 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 [now Russian Security Council Secretary] 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 MoD’s tendency to lie about Russia’s 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 Russia’s 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.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 3, 2024

Click here to read the full report.

Christina Harward, Angelica Evans, Grace Mappes, Karolina Hird, Liam Karr, and Frederick W. Kagan

June 3, 2024, 7:25pm ET 

Note: The data cut-off for this product was 1:30pm ET on June 3. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the June 4 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.

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 Niger—the 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-Nguesso’s 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 Déby in Moscow in January 2024, and Russia likely aims to establish itself as the primary security partner across the Sahel to advance Russia’s 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.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 2, 2024

Click here to read the full report

Grace Mappes, Angelica Evans, Nicole Wolkov, Kateryna Stepanenko, and Frederick W. Kagan

June 2, 2024, 8pm ET 

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 Kremlin’s 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 Kremlin’s 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.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 1, 2024

Click here to read the full report

Grace Mappes, Angelica Evans, Riley Bailey, Christina Harward, and Frederick W. Kagan

June 1, 2024, 6:00pm 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.

Click here to see ISW’s 3D control of terrain topographic map of Ukraine. Use of a computer (not a mobile device) is strongly recommended for using this data-heavy tool.

Click here to access ISW’s archive of interactive time-lapse maps of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These maps complement the static control-of-terrain map that ISW produces daily by showing a dynamic frontline. ISW will update this time-lapse map archive monthly.

Note: The data cut-off for this product was 1:00pm ET on June 1. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the June 2 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.

Russian forces conducted a large-scale drone and missile strike mainly targeting Ukrainian energy infrastructure on the night of May 31 to June 1. Ukrainian Air Force Commander Lieutenant General Mykola Oleshchuk reported on June 1 that Russian forces launched 47 Shahed-136/131 drones and 53 missiles, including 35 Kh-101/555 cruise missiles from aircraft over the Caspian Sea, four Iskander-M ballistic missiles from occupied Crimea, an Iskander-K cruise missile from occupied Crimea, 10 Kalibr cruise missiles from the northeastern Black Sea, and three Kh-59/69 cruise missiles from aircraft over occupied Zaporizhia Oblast.[1] Oleshchuk reported that Ukrainian forces destroyed 46 Shahed drones, 30 Kh-101/555 cruise missiles, the Iskander-K cruise missile, and four Kalibr cruise missiles, and noted that Russian forces have not abandoned their intentions of destroying Ukrainian fuel and energy infrastructure. Ukrainian Air Force Spokesperson Major Ilya Yevlash noted that Russian forces have recently intensified their combined drone and missile strikes against Ukraine and continue efforts to exhaust Ukraine's scarce air defense assets.[2] Ukrainian Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko stated that Russian missiles struck energy facilities in Zaporizhia, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Kirovohrad, and Ivano-Frankivsk oblasts.[3] Ukrainian state-owned hydroelectric power plant (HPP) regulator Ukrhydroenergo reported that Russian strikes critically damaged equipment at two unspecified HPPs, and Ukraine's largest private energy operator DTEK reported that Russian strikes seriously damaged two unspecified thermal power plants (TTP).[4] Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces struck the Kremenchuk HPP in Kirovohrad Oblast, the Dnipro HPP in Zaporizhia Oblast, the Burshtyn TPP in Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast, and the Ladyzhyn TPP in Vinnytsia Oblast.[5] Ukrainian officials also reported damage to civilian areas, critical infrastructure, and energy facilities in Kharkiv, Lviv, Vinnytsia, Odesa, and Kherson oblasts, and Zaporizhzhia City.[6]

The current lack of clarity about US restrictions on Ukraine's use of US-provided weapons to strike military targets in Russian territory misses an opportunity to deter further Russian offensive efforts across the border into northern Ukraine. US National Security Council Director for Europe Michael Carpenter told the Voice of America in an interview published on May 31 that the US policy allowing Ukrainian forces to strike certain Russian military targets in Russia "applies to counter-fire capabilities that are deployed just across the [Ukrainian] border [into Russia]" and "is meant to enable Ukrainians to defend themselves against what would otherwise be a Russian sanctuary across the border."[7] Responding to a question about whether this policy permits Ukrainian strikes with US-provided weapons across the border from Sumy Oblast, Carpenter responded vaguely "yes, across the border for Russian attacks that are coming across, where otherwise Russians would enjoy a relative sanctuary." Politico reported on May 31 citing two people close to the Ukrainian presidential administration that Ukrainian officials are frustrated that Ukrainian forces are "restricted to the border area in Kharkiv [Oblast]" when using US-provided weapons to strike Russian territory, however.[8] Carpenter's comments and the Politico report together suggest there is ambiguity on what the US has explicitly authorized regarding these strikes amid signaling that the US is open to expanding these authorizations to other areas in Ukraine should Russian forces launch offensive operations elsewhere along the international border area.

This US ambiguity misses an opportunity to deter Russian preparations for offensive operations elsewhere across the border into northern Ukraine. Ukrainian officials have recently warned that Russian forces are also concentrating forces in Kursk and Bryansk oblasts across the border from Sumy Oblast, and ISW has previously assessed that even a limited grouping would achieve its desired effect of drawing and fixing Ukrainian forces to this area.[9] The Kremlin may decide to launch offensive operations in different Ukrainian border oblasts outside of Kharkiv Oblast if it believes it can continue to mass forces across the border without risk of Ukrainian strikes. Ukrainian forces would be forced to defend against such offensive operations before the US grants explicit authorization necessary for cross-border strikes outside of areas bordering Kharkiv Oblast. The increased likelihood of other Russian offensive operations in northern Ukraine would require Ukrainian forces to reallocate existing resources to deter or defend against the offensive operations, creating opportunities for Russian forces elsewhere in the theater to exploit. US clarity that Ukraine can use US-provided weapons against Russian ground forces concentrations in Russia that appear to be preparing for imminent cross-border operations would likely change Russian commanders' calculations about the wisdom of making such ostentatious preparations. ISW continues to assess that the US should allow Ukraine to strike all legitimate military targets in Russia’s operational and deep rear with US-provided weapons.

Individual Western governments are stipulating disparate policies about Ukraine's future use of Western-supplied F-16 fighter jets. Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo stated on May 28 that Ukraine will only be able to use Belgian-supplied F-16s on the territory of Ukraine.[10] It is unclear from De Croo's statement, however, if Belgium will allow Ukraine to use Belgian-supplied F-16s to conduct strikes on Russian territory from Ukrainian airspace. Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren stated on May 31 that the Netherlands has stipulated no restrictions on Ukraine's use of Dutch-supplied F-16s and that Ukraine can use these F-16s "above or on Russian territory" as long as Ukraine follows Article 51 of the UN Charter and international humanitarian law."[11] Article 51 of the UN Charter notably stipulates that "nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against" a UN member state — a reminder that Ukrainian strikes on Russian territory in the context of the Russian invasion are part of Ukraine's inherent right of self-defense.[12] Continued variations in Western governments' F-16 policies will require Ukraine to track which aircraft Ukrainian forces can and cannot use to conduct certain strikes, complicating Ukraine's ability to plan and conduct aviation operations using F-16s.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged that some Ukrainian reserve brigades remain understrength and stated that the slow arrival of US security assistance is complicating Ukrainian efforts to effectively commit reserves to ongoing defensive operations.[13] Zelensky published excerpts from an interview with the Guardian on June 1 wherein he stated that the arrival of US security assistance to Ukraine has so far been slow and insufficient to equip reserve brigades sufficiently in order to conduct rotations for frontline units.[14] Zelensky stated that Russian forces understand that Ukrainian forces have understrength reserves and cannot commit reserves without appropriate materiel and that this fact has incentivized Russian efforts to stretch Ukrainian forces along a wider front in eastern and northeastern Ukraine.[15] Zelensky stated that sufficient security assistance will allow Ukraine to bring reserve brigades to their intended end strength and prevent Ukrainian forces from having to draw forces from eastern Ukraine to defend in northern Kharkiv Oblast.[16] Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi recently reported that Russian forces aim to force Ukrainian forces to commit available reserves to the defensive operation in northern Kharkiv Oblast, and the Russian military command may assess that Ukrainian forces lack the combat ready reserves required to respond to all ongoing Russian offensive operations in eastern and northeastern Ukraine.[17] The arrival of resumed US security assistance at scale to the frontline, reportedly expected in June or July 2024, will aid Ukrainian efforts to bring reserves closer to their intended end strength and stand up planned new brigades.[18]

Key Takeaways:

  • Russian forces conducted a large-scale drone and missile strike mainly targeting Ukrainian energy infrastructure on the night of May 31 to June 1.
  • The current lack of clarity about US restrictions on Ukraine's use of US-provided weapons to strike military targets in Russian territory misses an opportunity to deter further Russian offensive efforts across the border into northern Ukraine.
  • Individual Western governments are stipulating disparate policies about Ukraine's future use of Western-supplied F-16 fighter jets.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged that some Ukrainian reserve brigades remain understrength and stated that the slow arrival of US security assistance is complicating Ukrainian efforts to effectively commit reserves to ongoing defensive operations.
  • Russian forces recently marginally advanced near Kupyansk, Chasiv Yar, and Avdiivka.
  • The Russian Ministry of Justice designated the "Way Home" social movement, a movement of relatives of mobilized Russian servicemembers that has been calling for their relatives' demobilization, as a "foreign agent" on June 1.

 

 





Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 9, 2024

George Barros, Angelica Evans, Christina Harward, Riley Bailey, and Kateryna Stepanenko

June 9, 2024, 6:45pm 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.

Click here to see ISW’s 3D control of terrain topographic map of Ukraine. Use of a computer (not a mobile device) is strongly recommended for using this data-heavy tool.

Click here to access ISW’s archive of interactive time-lapse maps of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These maps complement the static control-of-terrain map that ISW produces daily by showing a dynamic frontline. ISW will update this time-lapse map archive monthly.

Note: The data cut-off for this product was 1:15pm ET on June 9. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the June 10 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.

The Biden Administration’s 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 Russia’s 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 Ukraine’s 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 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 Russia’s operational rear and deep rear, and US policy forbids Ukraine from using ATACMS anywhere in Russia.[2] US President Joe Biden’s limited policy change in late May 2024 regarding the use of US-provided weapons against military targets in Russia removed at maximum 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 permissions to do so, however. Senior US officials have described Ukraine’s 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 [Ukrainian] 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 space’s area may be less than 16 percent, therefore.

The Biden Administration’s limited policy reversal permitting Ukraine to use US-provided weapons to strike Russian military targets within Russian territory has removed at maximum only 16 percent of Russia’s ground sanctuary – a small area along the Russian-Ukrainian international border.

The US policy change, while a step in the right direction, is by itself inadequate and unable to disrupt Russian operations at scale. ISW assesses that the West maintains the ability to substantially disrupt Russian operations at scale by allowing Ukraine to use Western-provided weapons to strike Russia’s operational rear and deep rear areas in Russian territory.[5]

Likely Ukrainian forces struck a Russian Su-57 fighter aircraft at the Akhtubinsk Airfield in Astrakhan Oblast between June 7 and 8. Ukraine's Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) published satellite imagery on June 9 reportedly showing the Su-57 aircraft at the airfield on June 7 and damaged Su-57 following the strike on June 8 but did not explicitly claim responsibility for the attack.[6] The June 8 satellite image shows burn marks from an explosion, but the scale of the damage to the Su-57 is unclear from the provided footage. The GUR reported that Russian forces use the Su-57 aircraft to launch Kh-59/69 cruise missiles and that the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) have very few Su-57 aircraft in service. Ukraine's Southern Operational Command reported that the GUR struck one of the six operational Su-57 aircraft and that Russian forces are constructing another six aircraft.[7] GUR Spokesperson Andriy Yusov stated that there may have been two Su-57 aircraft at the airfield during the June 8 strike and that the GUR is assessing battle damage.[8] Russian milbloggers seized on the June 8 strike to criticize the Russian military command for not constructing hangars to hide Russian aircraft from Ukrainian strikes and claimed that Russian forces could construct hangars at every military airfield in Russia for the cost of one Su-57 aircraft.[9] Su-57s cost an estimated $35 million.[10]

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. Sky News reported on June 9 that a Ukrainian military source stated that Ukrainian forces struck a Russian Ropucha-class landing ship in an unspecified location on the evening of June 8.[11] The source reportedly stated that Russian forces recently moved the ship from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov and that the ship is the fifth Ropucha-class ship that Ukrainian strikes have sunk or "rendered unserviceable." Sky News reported that the source stated that the strike shows that Russian forces "cannot operate with freedom" in the Black Sea and that the strike "thwart[ed] Russian shipments of ammunition and key military supplies" to unspecified locations. Ukrainian channel Crimean Wind and Ukrainian Mariupol Mayoral Advisor Petro Andryushchenko reported on June 9 that a Ukrainian drone struck a Russian ship near the port of Yeysk, Krasnodar Krai on the night of June 8 to 9.[12] Crimean Wind reported that satellite imagery from the morning of June 9 suggests that Ukrainian forces may not have hit a large landing ship but may have struck a Vasily Bykov-class patrol ship.[13] Crimean Wind reported that satellite imagery also shows an oil slick in the area that was not present in satellite imagery collected earlier. Ukrainian officials have not commented on the reported strike as of the time of this publication, and ISW cannot independently confirm the strike. Satellite imagery collected on June 5 indicated that Russia moved at least 18 naval vessels, including two Vasily Bukov-class patrol ships and an unspecified number of Ropucha-class landing ships, from the port in Novorossiysk, and some of the ships were reportedly sailing towards Crimea as of June 6.[14] Ukraine's Southern Operational Command Spokesperson Captain Third Rank Dmytro Pletenchuk stated on June 7 the Russian Navy likely transferred a large grouping of vessels to the Black Sea and Sea of Azov in order to reduce their vulnerability to Ukrainian drone strikes.[15]

The Kremlin's concerted effort to remove and arrest senior Russian defense officials may be extending to civilian regional administration officials. Russian authorities arrested Tyumen Oblast Deputy Governor Vyacheslav Vakhrin on June 9, Republic of Karelia Legislative Assembly Head of the Committee on Budget and Taxes Vitaly Krasulin on May 29, Oryol Oblast Gubernatorial Advisor Sergei Lezhnev on May 27, and Krasnodar Krai Deputy Governor Sergei Vlasov on May 24 for various fraud and bribery charges.[16] Russian authorities have detained at least five senior Russian MoD officials and former military commanders since late April 2024, and The Moscow Times reported on May 24 that these are the first of dozens or hundreds of anticipated arrests.[17] An unnamed acting Russian government official told The Moscow Times that the arrests could spiral into the largest effort to remove Russian military officials in modern Russian history.[18] Russian authorities may intend to use the guise of anti-corruption campaigns to conduct a large-scale removal of Russian defense officials and could easily replicate such efforts against civilian officials in Russian federal subjects.[19] Kaliningrad Oblast deputies proposed on June 9 to dismiss any Kaliningrad Oblast governors recognized as foreign agents, possibly another mechanism or informational justification that Russian authorities may try to use to remove officials from regional administrations.[20] The removal and arrest of regional officials comes amid an apparent effort by Russian President Vladimir Putin to remove from power the political and military figures that lost his trust in 2022 and 2023.[21] Putin may also seek to disempower regional officials who have lost his trust and rebalance which regional officials have his favor. Putin notably recently platformed St. Petersburg Governor Alexander Beglov at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), suggesting that Beglov may currently have Putin's favor despite his past controversies.[22]

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. Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported that politicians of the Victory electoral bloc discussed the October 20, 2024 Moldovan presidential election and referendum on Moldova's accession to the European Union (EU).[23] US-sanctioned Moldovan politician and Victory bloc founder Ilan Shor stated that he is confident that the Victory bloc can defeat Moldovan President Maia Sandu in Moldova’s October 2024 presidential election and will "use whatever methods are necessary" to accomplish this goal and free Moldova from the "pro-European bandits" who are currently leading Moldova.[24] Shor stated that the only way to "revive Moldova" is for Moldova to join the Kremlin-dominated Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and that the Victory bloc is working towards this. Chairperson of the Victory bloc's parliamentary group Vasile Bolea claimed that Moldova is becoming the second country to turn away from Russia - referring to Ukraine as the first - and that Moldova's pro-Russian opposition will resist this.[25] Kremlin-affiliated governor of Moldova's pro-Russian autonomous region of Gagauzia Yevgenia Gutsul stated that the Victory bloc held its congress in Russia because the Moldovan government is threatening Moldovan oppositionists and claimed that Moldova will be drawn into the conflict in Ukraine if Moldovans vote to join the EU.[26]

Gutsul also met with a series of Kremlin officials and Russian governors during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), further solidifying her connections to the Kremlin. Gutsul briefly met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of SPIEF on June 9 and emphasized Gagauzia's desire for greater cooperation with Russia.[27] Gutsul also met with United Russia State Duma Deputy Nikolay Valuev; Russian Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Compatriots Living Abroad, and International Humanitarian Cooperation (Rossotrudnichestvo) General Director Yevgeny Primakov; Republic of Tatarstan Head Rustam Minnikhanov; St. Petersburg Governor Alexander Beglov; and several other regional officials on June 6, 7, and 8.[28] Gutsul also attended a panel on "traditional values" with veteran Russian propagandist and RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan on June 8.[29] Gutsul also claimed that she will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin again in the future despite pressure from the Moldovan government but did not specify a time frame for this meeting.[30]

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.[31] Dodon claimed that the Moldovan government is militarizing Moldova and preparing Moldova for the "Ukrainian scenario" by increasing Moldova's defense spending and cooperation with NATO. Dodon claimed that the upcoming Moldovan presidential election in October 2024 will be illegitimate and unconstitutional. Dodon called on Moldova to participate in Russia-led organizations such as the EAEU and the CIS. Dodon claimed that the Moldovan government is persecuting oppositionists like Gutsul and himself. Dodon claimed that Moldovan authorities may allow Ukraine to "destabilize" the Moldovan breakaway republic of Transnistria or may conduct "provocations" against Gagauzia in the future.

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. Dodon claimed that Moldovan opposition parties must work together to defeat Sandu in the presidential election and noted that if Moldovan opposition parties do not unite behind a single candidate, there will be competition between them.[32] Dodon stated that the opposition's candidate should be a well-known person who is apolitical and not the leader of a political party but added that he may run for president if the opposition cannot agree on a candidate. Dodon stated that his relationship with Shor is "complicated" and that they have not communicated. Dodon stated, however, that they will need to cooperate as the "enemy of my enemy is my potential partner and friend." The Kremlin is likely aware that the Victory bloc's yet-to-be-announced presidential candidate has a lower chance of beating Sandu in the election if other major opposition parties, such as the Socialist Party that has a coalition with the Communist Party, also run candidates. Dodon's June 9 interviews demonstrate that Dodon understands that he will need to cooperate with Shor and the Victory electoral bloc but is currently reluctant to do so. Dodon reportedly has close ties to the Kremlin dating back to his time as president, and the Kremlin is highly likely exploiting its ties to Dodon in its overall efforts to influence the Moldovan election.[33] The parallels between the information operations that both the Victory bloc congress and Dodon promoted suggest a coordinated anti-Sandu effort. Dodon's public statements about his "complicated" relationship with Shor and his lack of cooperation with the Victory bloc so far suggest that the Kremlin, Dodon, and Shor have not yet agreed on a presidential candidate or electoral strategy, however.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Biden Administration’s 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 Russia’s 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.
 

We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because these 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 the Ukrainian population and specifically on combat in Ukrainian urban areas. We utterly condemn Russian violations of the laws of armed conflict and the Geneva Conventions and crimes against humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.

  • Russian Main Effort – Eastern Ukraine (comprised of three subordinate main efforts)
  • Russian Subordinate Main Effort #1 – Push Ukrainian forces back from the international border with Belgorod Oblast and approach to within tube artillery range of Kharkiv City
  • Russian Subordinate Main Effort #2 – Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and encircle northern Donetsk Oblast
  • Russian Subordinate Main Effort #3 – Capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast
  • Russian Supporting Effort – Southern Axis
  • Russian Air, Missile, and Drone Campaign
  • Russian Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts
  • Russian Technological Adaptations
  • Activities in Russian-occupied areas
  • Ukrainian Defense Industrial Base Efforts
  • Russian Information Operations and Narratives
  • Significant Activity in Belarus

Russian Main Effort – Eastern Ukraine

Russian Subordinate Main Effort #1 – Kharkiv Oblast (Russian objective: Push Ukrainian forces back from the international border with Belgorod Oblast and approach to within tube artillery range of Kharkiv City)

A Ukrainian aircraft reportedly struck a Russian military target in Belgorod Oblast on June 9. Sky News reported that an unnamed Ukrainian military source stated that a Ukrainian fixed-wing manned aircraft struck a Russian command post in Belgorod Oblast with an unspecified weapon and that Ukrainian authorities are still clarifying the damage from the strike.[34] Sky News noted that this would be the first instance of a Ukrainian fixed-wing manned aircraft to strike a military target in Russia. Geolocated footage published on June 9 shows a fire at an unspecified building near Tsentralnoye, Rakityansky Raion, Belgorod Oblast, although the cause of the fire is unclear from the footage.[35] Belgorod Oblast Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov acknowledged that there was a fire at a non-residential building in Rakityansky Raion, but claimed that Russian air defenses downed several air targets over Belgorod Oblast.[36] Russian opposition outlet Astra stated that Ukrainian forces struck an ammunition depot in Rakityansky Raion.[37]

Ukrainian forces reportedly counterattacked north and northeast of Kharkiv City on June 9 amid continued Russian offensive operations in the area. Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces unsuccessfully counterattacked near Hylboke (north of Lyptsi and Kharkiv City) and were preparing to counterattack in Vovchansk (northeast of Kharkiv City) on June 8 and 9.[38] A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces seized several Ukrainian positions and advanced near Lyptsi (north of Kharkiv City) and launched an assault on the aggregate plant within Vovchansk.[39] Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated on June 8 that Russian forces have "failed" to successfully conduct their offensive operations in northern Kharkiv Oblast and that Ukrainian forces are continuing to strengthen their positions in this area.[40] US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan noted on June 9 that Russian forces have not made significant progress in northern Kharkiv Oblast in recent days.[41]

Ukraine-based open-source organization Frontelligence Insight stated on June 9 that it observed a small number of Russian units arriving near Sumy and Chernihiv oblasts and assessed that these troops are presently unable to achieve significant results if these units launched a ground attack into Ukraine.[42] Frontelligence Insight stated that the small Russian grouping would likely be able to achieve even fewer territorial advances on the battlefield than what Russian forces have already achieved in northern Kharkiv Oblast.

Russian Subordinate Main Effort #2 – Luhansk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and northern Donetsk Oblast)

Russian forces likely recently seized Ivanivka (southeast of Kupyansk) amid continued Russian offensive operations along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line on June 9. Geolocated footage published on June 9 indicates that Russian forces recently advanced north of Ivanivka, and Russian forces likely seized the settlement within the past week.[43] Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces advanced south of Vilshana (northeast of Kupyansk), southwest of Ploshchanka (northwest of Kreminna), and 200 meters near Novoselivske (northwest of Svatove).[44] A Russian source claimed that elements of the Russian 144th Motorized Rifle Division (20th Combined Arms Army, Moscow Military District) advanced west of Holykove (north of Kreminna).[45] ISW has not observed confirmation of these claims, however. A Russian milblogger claimed on June 8 that Russian forces destroyed a river crossing over the Oskil River west of Kupyansk-Vuzlovyi (south of Kupyansk).[46] Russian forces continued offensive operations northeast of Kupyansk near Petropavlivka, Synkivka, and Kyslivka; southeast of Kupyansk near Pishchane, Berestove, Andriivka, and Tabaivka; northwest of Kreminna near Nevske, Hrekivka, and Makiivka; west of Kreminna near Torske and Terny; and southwest of Kreminna near the Serebryanske forest area and Dibrova on June 8 and 9.[47]

Russian Subordinate Main Effort #3 – Donetsk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)

Russian forces recently advanced south of Siversk amidst reportedly costly offensive operations in the area. Geolocated footage published on June 8 indicates that Russian forces marginally advanced in fields southeast of Rozdolivka (south of Siversk), and a Russian milblogger also claimed that Russian forces advanced south of Rozdolivka.[48] Russian milbloggers claimed on June 9 that Russian forces suffered casualties after conducting frontal assaults against Ukrainian positions near Bilohorivka (northeast of Siversk) without accounting for Ukrainian artillery and drone operations in the area.[49] Russian forces also continued assaults southeast of Siversk near Vyimka on June 8 and 9.[50] Elements of the Russian 106th Airborne (VDV) Division are reportedly operating south or southwest of Siversk in the Svyato-Pokrovske (west of Siversk) direction.[51]

Russian forces recently advanced in Kanal Microraion in easternmost Chasiv Yar and continued offensive operations in the area on June 8 and 9. Geolocated footage published on June 9 indicates that Russian forces recently advanced westward to an industrial area of Kanal Microraion, and Russian sources claimed that Russian forces seized the industrial area.[52] Russian sources also amplified footage purportedly showing elements of the Russian 98th Airborne (VDV) Division raising a flag over Kanal Microraion and claimed that Russian forces have seized most of the microraion.[53] ISW has not observed visual evidence confirming that Russian forces seized the industrial area, however. One Russian milblogger complained that many Russian milbloggers are portraying Russian advances in the Kanal Microraion as a sudden breakthrough, whereas these advances were a result of more than two months of systemic Russian offensive operations since April 2024 and more than two weeks of persistent Russian strikes using glide bombs and army-level TOS thermobaric artillery systems.[54] Russian forces also continued offensive operations in eastern Chasiv Yar near Novyi Microraion; north of Chasiv Yar near Kalynivka; and southeast of Chasiv Yar near Ivanivske, Andriivka, and Klishchiivka on June 8 and 9.[55] A spokesperson for a Ukrainian brigade stated that Russian forces are continuing to attack in the Bakhmut direction using small assault groups and occasionally use armored vehicles.[56] The spokesperson added that Ukrainian forces recently repelled a roughly company-sized Russian mechanized assault in the Bakhmut direction. ISW observed footage published on June 5 of Russian forces conducting mechanized assaults in the Chasiv Yar area that were at least platoon-sized and may have even been larger.[57] Elements of the Russian 58th Spetsnaz Battalion (1st Donetsk People's Republic [DNR] Army Corps [AC]) are reportedly operating near Chasiv Yar; and elements of the Russian 4th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade (2nd Luhansk People’s Republic [LNR] AC) are reportedly operating near Klishchiivka.[58]

Russian forces recently advanced west of Avdiivka and continued assaults in the area. Geolocated footage published on June 9 indicates that Russian forces advanced in the fields north and northeast of Umanske (west of Avdiivka).[59] A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces continued to seize new positions west of Umanske and advanced more than one kilometer in the Skuchne (west of Avdiivka) direction.[60] Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces advanced to the northern outskirts of Novopokrovske (northwest of Avdiivka) and into central Novooleksandrivka (north of Novopokrovske and northwest of Avdiivka).[61] ISW has not observed visual confirmation of these claims. Russian forces launched assaults northwest of Avdiivka near Novooleksandrivka, Novoselivka Persha, Yevhenivka, Sokil, Ocheretyne, and Novopokrovske; west of Avdiivka near Karlivka and Yasnobrodivka; and southwest of Avdiivka near Nevelske on June 8 and 9.[62] A spokesperson of a Ukrainian brigade reported that Russian forces are mainly conducting infantry assaults in the Pokrovsk (northwest of Avdiivka) direction instead of the up-to-company-sized mechanized assaults they used to conduct during previous offensive operations in the area.[63] The spokesperson added that Ukrainian forces are restraining at least three Russian brigades in the Pokrovsk direction and that Russian forces have manpower and artillery advantages. The spokesperson observed that Russian forces fire 400 to 500 artillery shells per night and use aviation before launching infantry attacks. Elements of the Russian “Atlant” Battalion of the Central Grouping of Forces (GoF) reportedly previously operated near Ocheretyne.[64]

Russian forces recently advanced west of Donetsk City and continued offensive operations west and southwest of the city on June 8 and 9. Geolocated footage published on June 9 shows Ukrainian forces repelling a platoon-sized Russian mechanized assault in southern Krasnohorivka (west of Donetsk City), and additional geolocated footage posted on June 9  indicates that Russian forces seized some buildings in western Krasnohorivka.[65] Russian and Ukrainian sources reported that fighting continued in Krasnohorivka; west of Donetsk City near Heorhiivka; and southwest of Donetsk City near Paraskoviivka and Kostyantynivka on June 8 and 9.[66] Russian milbloggers also claimed that Russian forces on motorcycles advanced 1.5 kilometers in the Vuhledar (southwest of Donetsk City) direction and seized a section of the Vuhledar-Kostyantynivka (O0532) highway.[67] A Russian milblogger also claimed that Russian forces advanced west of Solodke (southwest of Donetsk City).[68] Elements of the Russian ”Grachi” Spetsnaz Detachment and 238th Artillery Brigade (8th Combined Arms Army [CAA], Southern Military District [SMD]) are reportedly operating near Krasnohorivka; and elements of the Russian ”Karia” detachment of the 68th Army Corps (Eastern Military District [EMD]) are operating in the south Donetsk direction (southwest of Donetsk City).[69]

Russian forces reportedly continued offensive operations in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area near Staromayorske, Urozhaine, and Zavitne Bazhannya (all south of Velyka Novosilka) on June 8 and 9.[70]

Russian Supporting Effort – Southern Axis (Russian objective: Maintain frontline positions and secure rear areas against Ukrainian strikes)

Positional engagements continued in western Zaporizhia Oblast on June 9, but there were no confirmed changes to the frontline in this area. Positional engagements continued near Robotyne, Verbove (east of Robotyne), and Mala Tokmachka (northeast of Robotyne).[71] A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces are struggling to gain a foothold in northern Robotyne due to continued Ukrainian artillery and drone strikes.[72] Elements of the Russian 291st Motorized Rifle Regiment (42nd Motorized Rifle Division, 58th Combined Arms Army, Southern Military District) are reportedly operating in western Zaporizhia Oblast.[73]

Positional engagements continued in east (left) bank Kherson Oblast near Krynky and on the islands in the Dnipro River Delta on June 9.[74] Select Russian milbloggers claimed that there are unconfirmed reports that Ukrainian forces have withdrawn from Krynky, but other Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces maintain a presence in the settlement.[75]

Russian Air, Missile, and Drone Campaign (Russian Objective: Target Ukrainian military and civilian infrastructure in the rear and on the frontline)

Ukrainian Kharkiv City and Oblast officials stated on June 9 that Russian forces conducted a KAB guided glide bomb strike on Kharkiv City and damaged residential buildings.[76] Kharkiv City Council Deputy Bohdan Tkachuk stated that the Russian KAB strike was the first glide bomb strike against Kharkiv City since June 1.[77]

Russian Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts (Russian objective: Expand combat power without conducting general mobilization)

Russian officials continue efforts to coerce migrants into military service. Bloomberg reported on June 9 that Ukrainian and European officials assess that the Kremlin has forced thousands of migrants and foreign students to fight with Russian forces in Ukraine, specifically in recent offensive operations in northern Kharkiv Oblast.[78] Bloomberg reported that a European official stated that Russian officials are increasingly threatening to not extend visas for African students and workers living in Russia unless they agree to fight with the Russian military.[79] The European official reportedly stated that these migrants and students suffer high losses in Ukraine because Russian forces use them in risky operations to conserve more highly trained units.[80] A Ukrainian official told Bloomberg that there has been an uptick in the number of foreigners among Russian military prisoners of war (POW) in Ukraine, with the majority being from Nepal or African countries.[81] Bloomberg noted that Russian Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Compatriots Living Abroad, and International Humanitarian Cooperation (Rossotrudnichestvo) General Director Yevgeny Primakov recently stated that there are 35,000 to 37,000 African students currently residing within Russia.[82]

Russian Deputy Head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade Viktor Yevtukhov claimed on June 9 that the Russian Navy will receive 50 new ships of various types throughout 2024.[83] Yevtukhov claimed that the incoming ships include small missile ships and support vessels and that the Ministry of Trade and Industry will pay great attention to producing frigates and corvettes since these ships can operate in the Far Sea Zone (naval areas not bordering Russia).[84] Ukrainian forces have conducted a successful strike campaign against Russia's Black Sea Fleet (BSF) since Summer 2023, and Russia may try to restore some of the Russian Navy’s lost capabilities.[85] The BSF has lost a significant number of vessels, including large amphibious landing ships, cruise missile carriers, and a Kilo-class submarine however, and Russia appears unlikely to replace these higher-end capability losses any time soon.[86]

Russian regional administrations continue to shoulder the Kremlin's crypto-mobilization efforts and involve other private entities to supply and train Russian young men. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Tatar-Bashkort service Idel Realii reported on June 9 that Perm Krai’s “Avangard” Military-Patriotic Education Center is offering 12 million rubles ($134,184) split into four contracts for providing food, accommodations, and basic military training grounds for recruits in Perm Krai in 2025.[87] The contracts reportedly state that Perm Krai seeks private entities to help young men (presumably Russian active reservists or students of Russian military-patriotic programs) "acquire the practical skills necessary... to quickly adapt to military service.”[88] Idel Realii reported that 90 to 120 recruits will attend five-day courses at the planned training camps and receive training instruction from four to five employees.[89] The quality of training at such ad hoc regionally funded and organized training facilities likely widely varies between different private entities tasked with training and supplying these men.

Russian opposition outlet Mobilization News amplified a video appeal from the relatives of mobilized Russian personnel from Republic of Bashkortostan on June 9 in which the relatives claimed that Russian commanders order wounded and untreated mobilized personnel to conduct assaults.[90] The relatives claimed that Russian authorities are currently detaining mobilized personnel from military unit 29601 for unspecified offenses and transfer the detained personnel to different operational directions in Ukraine for assaults.[91]

Russian Technological Adaptations (Russian objective: Introduce technological innovations to optimize systems for use in Ukraine)

Nothing significant to report.

Ukrainian Defense Industrial Efforts (Ukrainian objective: Develop its defense industrial base to become more self-sufficient in cooperation with US, European, and international partners)

ISW is not publishing coverage of Ukrainian defense industrial efforts today.

Activities in Russian-occupied areas (Russian objective: Consolidate administrative control of annexed areas; forcibly integrate Ukrainian citizens into Russian sociocultural, economic, military, and governance systems)

ISW is not publishing coverage of activities in Russian-occupied areas today.

Russian Information Operations and Narratives

Voice of America's Bosnian Service and Bosnian investigative organization Detektor reported on June 8 that over 65 pro-Russian Telegram channels are spreading Russian propaganda justifying Russia's invasion of Ukraine in the Western Balkans and attempting to recruit Serbian, Bosnian, and Herzegovinian citizens into Russian volunteer units.[92] Detektor journalists reported that these channels appear to be pushing a clearly formed and orchestrated pro-Russian and anti-Western narrative. Voice of America's Bosnian Service noted that some of the most popular Telegram channels have between 50 and 100,000 subscribers and that these channels have connections with popular Russian milbloggers and media outlets, including the Kremlin-affiliated Rybar channel. Russian President Vladimir Putin recently met with the President of Republika Srpska (the Serbian political entity within Bosnia and Herzegovina) Milorad Dodik in St. Petersburg, and the pro-Russian Telegram channels operating in the Western Balkans are likely part of the Kremlin's ongoing efforts to destabilize the region.[93]

The Kremlin continued its reflexive control campaign aimed at influencing Western decision-making and undermining Western support for Ukraine on June 9. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claimed during an interview on Russian state television that the West is escalating the situation by allowing Ukraine to strike military targets in Russia with Western-provided weapons.[94] Lavrov claimed that the West is slowly escalating its war against Russia "step by step" and that Russia will decide how to respond to these hostile actions.

Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Spokesperson Maria Zakharova continued to criticize Russia's neighbors for perceived anti-Russian actions. Zakharova claimed during an interview with Kremlin newswire TASS on June 9 that Poland, Finland, and the Baltic countries are persecuting Russian citizens and Russian-speaking people by confiscating their documents and interrogating them.[95] Zakharova criticized Armenian Ambassador to Ukraine Vladimir Karapetyan for recently visiting Bucha and claimed that this was an "unfriendly step."[96] A prominent Kremlin-affiliated Russian milblogger previously criticized Karapetyan for his recent visit to Bucha.[97]

Kremlin officials criticized Germany and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for supporting Ukraine and for warning about a future conflict between the West and NATO. Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov claimed on June 8 that Germany has "lack[ed] sovereignty" since the Second World War and is trying to balance pleasing the US, NATO, and the European Union (EU).[98] Security Council Deputy Chairperson Dmitry Medvedev criticized Scholtz for supporting Ukraine.[99]

Significant activity in Belarus (Russian efforts to increase its military presence in Belarus and further integrate Belarus into Russian-favorable frameworks and Wagner Group activity in Belarus)

Nothing significant to report.

Note: ISW does not receive any classified material from any source, uses only publicly available information, and draws extensively on Russian, Ukrainian, and Western reporting and social media as well as commercially available satellite imagery and other geospatial data as the basis for these reports. References to all sources used are provided in the endnotes of each update.

 


[1] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/putins-safe-space-defeating-russias-kharkiv-operation-requires-eliminating-russias

[2] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-may-30-2024; https://www.politico.com/news/2024/05/30/biden-ukraine-weapons-strike-russia-00160731 ; https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2024/05/30/nato-europe-us-weapons-ukraine-russia/ ; https://www.cbsnews.com/news/u-s-allows-ukraine-to-use-american-weapons-strikes-inside-russia/ ; https://www.wsj.com/world/europe/u-s-allows-ukraine-to-strike-inside-russia-with-american-weapons-72a3f8a1

[3] https://www.voanews.com/a/white-house-q-a-us-policy-evolves-with-threats-against-ukraine/7638583.html; https://www.cnn.com/2024/06/06/politics/austin-cnn-interview/index.html

[4] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-may-30-2024; https://www.politico.com/news/2024/05/30/biden-ukraine-weapons-strike-russia-00160731 ; https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2024/05/30/nato-europe-us-weapons-ukraine-russia/ ; https://www.cbsnews.com/news/u-s-allows-ukraine-to-use-american-weapons-strikes-inside-russia/ ; https://www.wsj.com/world/europe/u-s-allows-ukraine-to-strike-inside-russia-with-american-weapons-72a3f8a1; https://www.nytimes.com/2024/05/29/us/politics/biden-ukraine-russia-weapons.html

[5] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/putins-safe-space-defeating-russias-kharkiv-operation-requires-eliminating-russias

[6] https://gur dot gov.ua/content/vpershe-urazheno-su-57.html

[7] https://t.me/SJTF_Odes/9864

[8] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/06/09/urazhenyh-litakiv-su-57-moglo-buty-dva-u-voyennij-rozvidczi-rozkryly-novi-podrobyczi-ataky/ ; https://suspilne dot media/764553-pid-cas-ataki-po-aerodromu-rf-ahtubinsk-mogli-uraziti-ne-odin-a-dva-litaki-su-57-gur/

[9] https://t.me/voenacher/67090 ; https://t.me/rybar/60774 ; https://t.me/MedvedevVesti/17767 ; https://t.me/rybar/60781 ; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/69949   ; https://t.me/dva_majors/44733 ; https://t.me/fighter_bomber/16998 ; https://t.me/vysokygovorit/16155 ;

[10] https://www.pravda dot com.ua/eng/news/2024/04/26/7453103/

[11] https://news.sky.com/story/ukrainian-warplane-fires-weapon-at-target-inside-russia-for-first-time-13150251

[12] https://t.me/Crimeanwind/60987; https://t.me/andriyshTime/22898

[13] https://t.me/Crimeanwind/60995

[14] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-june-6-2024; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-june-8-2024

[15] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-june-8-2024

[16] https://t.me/tass_agency/251084 ; https://t.me/tass_agency/251066 ; https://t.me/tass_agency/251087  ; https://t.me/severrealii/25199 ; https://karelia dot sledcom dot ru/news/item/1887421/; https://t.me/severrealii/25211 

 ; https://t.me/sotaproject/80994 ; https://t.me/sotaproject/81013 ; 

[17] https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2024/05/24/fsb-launches-sweeping-purge-of-military-elites-with-kremlins-approval-a85213

[18] https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2024/05/24/fsb-launches-sweeping-purge-of-military-elites-with-kremlins-approval-a85213

[19] https://isw.pub/UkrWar052424

[20] https://www.newkaliningrad dot ru/news/briefs/politics/24095980-deputaty-predlozhili-dosrochno-otpravlyat-v-otstavku-gubernatorov-priznannykh-inoagentami.html?utm_source=telegram&utm_medium=link&utm_campaign=newkal

[21] https://isw.pub/UkrWar060524

[22] http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/74233 ; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-june-7-2024

[23] https://ria dot ru/20240609/gutsul-1951775195.html ; https://ria dot ru/20240609/moldaviya-1951792488.html

[24] https://ria dot ru/20240609/moldaviya-1951792488.html ; https://www.1tv dot ru/news/2024-06-09/478339-v_moskve_prohodit_vtoroy_s_ezd_oppozitsionnogo_moldavskogo_bloka_pobeda

[25] https://t.me/tass_agency/253755

[26] https://t.me/tass_agency/253765 ; https://t.me/evgheniagutul/3351

[27] https://t.me/evgheniagutul/3350

[28] https://t.me/evgheniagutul/3346 ; https://t.me/evgheniagutul/3340 ; https://t.me/evgheniagutul/3305 ; https://t.me/evgheniagutul/3300 ; https://t.me/evgheniagutul/3267 ; https://t.me/evgheniagutul/3272 ; https://t.me/evgheniagutul/3278 ; https://t.me/evgheniagutul/3295 ; https://t.me/evgheniagutul/3295 ; https://t.me/evgheniagutul/3306 ; https://t.me/evgheniagutul/3312 ; https://t.me/evgheniagutul/3323 ; https://t.me/evgheniagutul/3328 ; https://t.me/evgheniagutul/3340

[29] https://t.me/evgheniagutul/3285

[30] https://t.me/tass_agency/25376

[31] https://tass dot ru/interviews/21049381 ; https://ria dot ru/20240609/dodon-1951705787.html

[32] https://tass dot ru/interviews/21049381 ; https://ria dot ru/20240609/dodon-1951705787.html

[33] https://www.rise dot md/articol/ruble-pentru-dodon/ ; https://www.rise dot md/articol/kremlinovicileaks/

[34] https://news.sky.com/story/ukrainian-warplane-fires-weapon-at-target-inside-russia-for-first-time-13150251 ; https://meduza dot io/news/2024/06/09/sky-news-ukrainskiy-voennyy-samolet-vpervye-porazil-tsel-na-territorii-rossii ; https://t.me/istories_media/6593

[35] https://x.com/666_mancer/status/1799780060498702786 ; https://x.com/666_mancer/status/1799783598767342026 ; https://x.com/99Dominik_/status/1799782526342570375

[36] https://t.me/vvgladkov/7747 ; https://t.me/tass_agency/253726

[37] https://t.me/astrapress/57248 ; https://t.me/bletgorod/15257

[38] https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/11616 ; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/69936 ; https://t.me/sashakots/47211 ; https://t.me/vysokygovorit/16157 ; https://t.me/batalyon15/4356  ; https://t.me/dva_majors/44684 ; https://t.me/rybar/60772   

[39] https://t.me/RVvoenkor/69936 ; https://t.me/rybar/60767

[40] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VULi4mx-oWk ; https://suspilne dot media/764195-zelenskij-pro-ppo-dla-ukraini-vze-e-domovlenosti-z-partnerami/

[41] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/jake-sullivan-national-security-adviser-face-the-nation-transcript-06-09-2024/

[42] https://x.com/Tatarigami_UA/status/1799778098302656634

[43] https://t.me/kiber_boroshno/8577; https://t.me/nebesnamara/78; https://t.me/creamy_caprice/5766; https://t.me/c/1226880919/37181

[44] https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/11628 ; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/11625 ; https://t.me/prigozhin_2023_tg/12023

[45] https://t.me/rybar/60767

[46] https://t.me/rybar/60767

[47] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02CgFjpSQVoUHNnJ8u84EC5y2ECH41aKabhna3y3A4A6PSNZYiYH2GGgLRy2zVhGfEl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02cHrk8rtzeLbvHFbAg6QdqdjWbB5ACfcUjoaQoWXCMMaCoggMErRMqBfvS9oqkMUwl   ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02Qc6otLem28ouDc3WUw61EkE2S13EX1UqPmZ72drtXcUMT7u8vhiFF7edsrnLKUifl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0hQoTT8vNJzJbbpQshZRsn3HfRTNegPZ2kDKKZeX5uRxdKCjJFyqQLB7uzxkZyMC2l  ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid01Ccw6QCJpNufNHm4EDdLtnjANirYebr5UhhPuVxb7yb3172T5y9m2mWcyq124uFDl; https://t.me/dva_majors/44684 ; https://t.me/rybar/60772 

[48] https://t.me/incognitogroup_live/102; https://t.me/creamy_caprice/5767; https://t.me/z_arhiv/27013; https://t.me/NgP_raZVedka/18032

[49] https://t.me/dva_majors/44684 ; https://t.me/rybar/60772 

[50] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02Qc6otLem28ouDc3WUw61EkE2S13EX1UqPmZ72drtXcUMT7u8vhiFF7edsrnLKUifl  ; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/11644

[51] https://t.me/boevoj_dnevnik/21 ; https://t.me/voin_dv/9024

[52] https://x.com/small10space/status/1799754343484362969 ; https://x.com/Bielitzling/status/1799756992527143024; https://t.me/motopatriot/23716; https://t.me/motopatriot/23714; https://t.me/z_arhiv/27011

[53] https://t.me/rusich_army/15076 ; https://t.me/rybar/60779 ; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/69929 ; https://t.me/dva_majors/44704 ; https://t.me/batalyon15/4358; https://t.me/dva_majors/44684 ; https://t.me/rybar/60772 https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/11633 ; https://t.me/wargonzo/20385; https://t.me/prigozhin_2023_tg/12036

[54] https://t.me/motopatriot/23724

[55] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02CgFjpSQVoUHNnJ8u84EC5y2ECH41aKabhna3y3A4A6PSNZYiYH2GGgLRy2zVhGfEl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02cHrk8rtzeLbvHFbAg6QdqdjWbB5ACfcUjoaQoWXCMMaCoggMErRMqBfvS9oqkMUwl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02Qc6otLem28ouDc3WUw61EkE2S13EX1UqPmZ72drtXcUMT7u8vhiFF7edsrnLKUifl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0hQoTT8vNJzJbbpQshZRsn3HfRTNegPZ2kDKKZeX5uRxdKCjJFyqQLB7uzxkZyMC2l; https://t.me/NgP_raZVedka/18025; https://t.me/bahshiddemon/1143 ; https://www.pravda dot com.ua/rus/news/2024/06/9/7459929/

[56] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/06/09/na-bahmutskomu-napryamku-okupanty-namagayutsya-borotysya-z-nashymy-dronamy-molytvamy/

[57] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-june-5-2024

[58] https://t.me/RVvoenkor/69948 (Chasiv Yar); https://t.me/boris_rozhin/126318 (Klishchiivka)

[59] https://t.me/creamy_caprice/5768; https://t.me/Khortytsky_wind/457; https://t.me/creamy_caprice/5769;

[60] https://t.me/NgP_raZVedka/18033

[61] https://t.me/motopatriot/23752; https://t.me/z_arhiv/27015

[62] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02CgFjpSQVoUHNnJ8u84EC5y2ECH41aKabhna3y3A4A6PSNZYiYH2GGgLRy2zVhGfEl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02ZNURQXJYjyhvm12Wi5LSPvaJdBftkCY24temeF84cJ7fEwKEFHpQX2ECWRLcPw6Ll  ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02cHrk8rtzeLbvHFbAg6QdqdjWbB5ACfcUjoaQoWXCMMaCoggMErRMqBfvS9oqkMUwl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02Qc6otLem28ouDc3WUw61EkE2S13EX1UqPmZ72drtXcUMT7u8vhiFF7edsrnLKUifl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0hQoTT8vNJzJbbpQshZRsn3HfRTNegPZ2kDKKZeX5uRxdKCjJFyqQLB7uzxkZyMC2l ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid01Ccw6QCJpNufNHm4EDdLtnjANirYebr5UhhPuVxb7yb3172T5y9m2mWcyq124uFDl ; https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/06/09/za-tyzhden-na-pokrovskomu-napryamku-vidbulosya-ponad-220-atak/; https://t.me/mod_russia/39547; https://t.me/mod_russia/39546; https://t.me/dva_majors/44684 ; https://t.me/rybar/60772; https://t.me/wargonzo/20385;  https://t.me/NgP_raZVedka/18033; https://t.me/motopatriot/23729; https://t.me/z_arhiv/27015; https://t.me/prigozhin_2023_tg/12023; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/56818; https://t.me/motopatriot/23745

[63] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/06/09/na-pokrovskomu-napryamku-odna-ukrayinska-brygada-strymuye-try-vorozhyh/

[64] https://t.me/btr80/17561

[65] https://t.me/WarArchive_ua/15847; https://t.me/inquisition59/153 ; https://x.com/666_mancer/status/1799772581073178865; https://t.me/NgP_raZVedka/18034

[66] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02ZNURQXJYjyhvm12Wi5LSPvaJdBftkCY24temeF84cJ7fEwKEFHpQX2ECWRLcPw6Ll ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02cHrk8rtzeLbvHFbAg6QdqdjWbB5ACfcUjoaQoWXCMMaCoggMErRMqBfvS9oqkMUwl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02Qc6otLem28ouDc3WUw61EkE2S13EX1UqPmZ72drtXcUMT7u8vhiFF7edsrnLKUifl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid01Ccw6QCJpNufNHm4EDdLtnjANirYebr5UhhPuVxb7yb3172T5y9m2mWcyq124uFDl; https://t.me/dva_majors/44684 ; https://t.me/rybar/60772; https://t.me/NgP_raZVedka/18031; https://t.me/wargonzo/20385; https://t.me/NgP_raZVedka/18034;  https://t.me/NgP_raZVedka/18034

[67] https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/11642; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/11626

[68] https://t.me/z_arhiv/27014

[69] https://t.me/RVvoenkor/69953 (Krasnohorivka); https://t.me/RVvoenkor/69925 (south Donetsk direction)

[70] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid01Ccw6QCJpNufNHm4EDdLtnjANirYebr5UhhPuVxb7yb3172T5y9m2mWcyq124uFDl; https://t.me/voin_dv/9026; https://t.me/prigozhin_2023_tg/12023

[71] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02Qc6otLem28ouDc3WUw61EkE2S13EX1UqPmZ72drtXcUMT7u8vhiFF7edsrnLKUifl  ; https://t.me/wargonzo/20385

[72] https://t.me/dva_majors/44684 ; https://t.me/rybar/60772 

[73] https://t.me/vrogov/16058

[74] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02cHrk8rtzeLbvHFbAg6QdqdjWbB5ACfcUjoaQoWXCMMaCoggMErRMqBfvS9oqkMUwl; https://t.me/dva_majors/44684  ;  https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02Qc6otLem28ouDc3WUw61EkE2S13EX1UqPmZ72drtXcUMT7u8vhiFF7edsrnLKUifl ;  https://t.me/SJTF_Odes/9859; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/126400

 

[75] https://t.me/rybar/60767 ; https://t.me/dva_majors/44684 ; https://t.me/rybar/60772   ; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/11634; https://t.me/wargonzo/20383

[76] https://t.me/synegubov/9921; https://t.me/ihor_terekhov/1456

[77] https://www.youtube.com/live/W9_0Wjze5Ec?feature=shared ; https://suspilne dot media/kharkiv/764219-9-cervna-golovni-novini-harkova-ta-oblasti-naslidki-udariv-rf/ ; https://suspilne dot media/kharkiv/764571-rosia-vperse-za-ponad-tizden-vlucila-po-harkovu-kerovana-aviabomba-udarila-po-privatnomu-sektoru/

[78] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2024-06-09/russia-ukraine-war-africans-forced-to-fight-and-die-for-the-kremlin

[79] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2024-06-09/russia-ukraine-war-africans-forced-to-fight-and-die-for-the-kremlin

[80] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2024-06-09/russia-ukraine-war-africans-forced-to-fight-and-die-for-the-kremlin

[81] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2024-06-09/russia-ukraine-war-africans-forced-to-fight-and-die-for-the-kremlin

[82] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2024-06-09/russia-ukraine-war-africans-forced-to-fight-and-die-for-the-kremlin

[83] https://www.gazeta dot ru/army/news/2024/06/09/23208265.shtml

[84] https://argumenti dot ru/army/2024/06/903438 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/126376

[85] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/ukrainian-strikes-have-changed-russian-naval-operations-black-sea

[86] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/ukrainian-strikes-have-changed-russian-naval-operations-black-sea

[87] https://www.idelreal.org/a/v-permskom-krae-potratyat-12-millionov-na-provedenie-sborov-po-obucheniyu-osnovam-voennoy-sluzhby/32985135.html

[88] https://www.idelreal.org/a/v-permskom-krae-potratyat-12-millionov-na-provedenie-sborov-po-obucheniyu-osnovam-voennoy-sluzhby/32985135.html

[89] https://www.idelreal.org/a/v-permskom-krae-potratyat-12-millionov-na-provedenie-sborov-po-obucheniyu-osnovam-voennoy-sluzhby/32985135.html

[90] https://t.me/mobilizationnews/19010

[91] https://t.me/mobilizationnews/19010

[92] https://ba dot voanews.com/a/proruski-telegram-bih-regrutovanje-dezinformacije/7647932.html

[93] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-june-7-2024 ; https://t.me/MID_Russia/41359 ; http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/74231

[94] https://t.me/MID_Russia/41461 ; https://mid dot ru/ru/foreign_policy/news/1955159/

[95] https://tass dot ru/interviews/21052407

[96] https://t.me/tass_agency/253780

[97] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-june-4-2024

[98] https://t.me/tass_agency/253724 ; https://t.me/zarubinreporter/2748

[99] https://t.me/medvedev_telegram/501 ; https://t.me/tass_agency/253678 ; https://t.me/tass_agency/253676

 

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