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Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 15

Western officials announced additional military aid for Ukraine on June 15. US President Joe Biden pledged $1 billion worth of military aid, including coastal defense weapons, advanced rocket systems, artillery, and ammunition to support Ukrainian operations. NATO members additionally announced they will additionally continue to provide Ukraine with heavy weapons and long-range systems and plan to agree on a new assistance package after consultations with Ukraine’s Defense Ministry. This newest round of military aid will be invaluable to support Ukrainian operations, especially in the face of increasingly protracted and artillery-heavy fighting against Russian forces in Eastern Ukraine, though Ukraine will require further sustained support.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 14

The Belarusian Armed Forces began a command-staff exercise focused on testing command and control capabilities on June 14. However, Belarus remains unlikely to join the war in Ukraine on behalf of Russia. Head of Logistics for the Belarusian Armed Forces Major General Andrei Burdyko announced that the exercise will involve military authorities, unspecified military units, and logistics organizations and is intended to improve the coherency of command-and-control and logistics support to increase the overall level of training and practical skills of personnel in a “dynamically changing environment.” Despite the launch of this exercise, Belarus remains unlikely to join the war in Ukraine due to the threat of domestic unrest that President Alexander Lukashenko faces if he involves already-limited Belarusian military assets in combat. Any Belarusian entrance into the war would also likely provoke further crippling sanctions on Belarus. Any unsupported Belarusian attack against northern Ukraine would likely be highly ineffective, and the quality of Belarusian troops remains low. ISW will continue to monitor Belarusian movements but does not forecast a Belarusian entrance into the war at this time.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 13

Kremlin-sponsored outlet Izvestia published and quickly removed an appeal by the First Deputy Head of the Russian Presidential Administration Sergey Kirelenko for Russia to rebuild the Donbas on June 12 and blamed hackers for what they (likely falsely) claimed was a “fake publication.” Izvestia likely intended to save the article for a later date to set informational conditions for Russian annexation of Donbas. Kirelenko’s appeal stated that Russia will restore the Donbas regardless of high costs or if doing so lowers the standard of living in Russia. Izvestia blamed unknown hackers for publishing a “fake article,” but it is possible that hackers instead released an article Izvestia had prepared to publish at a later date. The Kremlin previously published and removed an article prematurely celebrating a Russian victory over Ukraine in late February and discussing the capture of Ukraine in past tense in anticipation of Ukraine’s capitulation during the first Russian-Ukrainian negotiations in Belarus. Unnamed Kremlin officials previously identified Kirelenko as the future head of a new Russian federal district, which would encompass Donbas, and occupied settlements in Kherson and Zaporizhia Oblasts.

Grace Mappes

Grace Mappes is a Russia Researcher on the Russia/Ukraine portfolio at the Institute for the Study of War. Grace supported ISW’s Russia/Ukraine portfolio as an intern during the buildup to and initial weeks of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. Her research interests include societal control, regime stability, and Kremlin narratives in the post-Soviet sphere. Grace holds a B.A. in International Relations and Global Studies and English from the University of Texas at Austin, where she also minored in Russian and earned a certificate in Security Studies.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 12

Russian forces continue to struggle with generating additional combat-capable units. The UK Ministry of Defense reported on June 12 that Russian forces have been trying to produce more combat units by preparing to deploy third battalion tactical groups (BTGs) from some units over the last few weeks. The UK MoD noted that Russian brigades and regiments normally can generate two BTGs, but doing so leaves the parent units largely hollow shells. The UK MOD concluded that these third BTGs will likely be understaffed and rely on recruits and mobilized reservists. Their deployment will likely adversely impact the capacity of their parent units to regenerate their combat power for quite some time. BTGs generated in this fashion will not have the combat power of regular BTGs. It will be important not to overestimate Russian reserves produced in this way by counting these third BTGs as if they were normal BTGs.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 11

Ukrainian intelligence assesses that the Russian military is extending its planning to fight a longer war, though Russian force generation and reserves likely remain poor. Deputy Head of the Ukrainian Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Vadym Skibitsky stated the GUR received confirmed information that Russian forces have extended their war planning for the next 120 days, extending to October 2022. Skibitsky said that Russian forces will adjust the plan depending on their successes in Donbas and noted that the Russian General Staff is modifying their invasion plans almost every month. Skibitsky’s statement likely indicates the Kremlin has, at a minimum, acknowledged it cannot achieve its objectives in Ukraine quickly and is further adjusting its military objectives in an attempt to correct the initial deficiencies in the invasion of Ukraine. Skibitsky also claimed that Russian forces have an additional 40 battalion tactical groups (BTGs) in reserve, after having already deployed 103 BTGs to Ukraine. This report is highly unlikely to mean Russian forces retain 40 full-strength and effective BTGs in Russia. At most, these “BTGs” are likely small collections of personnel cobbled together from other units. The Russian military is additionally unlikely to be holding such a significant portion of its force in reserve due to continuing manpower shortages in existing frontline units.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 10

Ukrainian officials are increasing the urgency of their requests for more-sophisticated Western-provided weapons systems amid reports of growing Russian artillery superiority. Several Western media outlets reported in the last 48 hours that Ukrainian military and government officials are increasingly highlighting the fact that Ukrainian troops are trapped in an “artillery war” on critical frontlines and are at a distinct disadvantage in terms of artillery systems. Deputy Head of the Ukrainian Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Vadym Skibitsky stated that Russian troops possess 10 to 15 artillery pieces to every one Ukrainian artillery piece and that Ukrainian forces have almost completely exhausted their artillery ammunition. Considering the current prevalence of protracted positional battles, especially in the Severodonetsk-Lysychansk area, Ukrainian forces urgently need fresh supplies of artillery systems. As Ukrainian forces use the last of their stocks of Soviet-era weapon systems and munitions, they will require consistent Western support to transition to new supply chains of ammunition and key artillery systems. Effective artillery will be increasingly decisive in the largely static fighting in eastern Ukraine.

David Escobar

Lieutenant Colonel David Escobar (US Army, Ret.) is the director of operations at the Institute for the Study of War.

David retired in April 2022 after serving 22 years in the US Army. Dave commanded the Hunter Army Airfield garrison in Savannah, GA. He served in various positions across the US, 12 months in an operational South Korea tour, and 36 months deployed between Iraq & Afghanistan. David served as a Pentagon policy writer, as the embedded liaison operations chief to two South Korea field armies, and a literature instructor at West Point. He spent his time in Afghanistan as a battalion operations officer for a country-wide air assault quick reaction force and motorized infantry battalion. In northern Iraq, he worked amid remote combat outposts as a reconnaissance troop commander and in Baghdad as a recon troop executive officer. While teaching at the United States Military Academy at West Point, David taught freshman composition, technical writing, comparative Cuban & Egyptian literature, and honor/ethics. His awards include three Bronze Star Medals, five Meritorious Service Medals, a Valorous Unit Award, and two Meritorious Unit Awards. He is airborne qualified, holds the Combat Action Badge and the Army Staff Identification Badge.

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