Ukraine Situation Report: Attacked On Three Sides, Ukrainians Hold The Line In The East
Russia’s assault in the east and south has resulted in little past initial gains, but Ukrainian troops are growing weary after months of fighting.
Ukrainian lines have held around the eastern city of Severodonetsk through more than 24 hours of sustained attack from three sides, forcing a fragile stalemate in Russia’s attempt to surround the salient there.
It is unlikely that either side has gained significant ground in the past day. Russia is concentrating its forces in central Donbas while repelling Ukrainian counterattacks on its northern and southern flanks, according to the latest assessment of the war from the U.K. Ministry of Defense.
Still, the CBC reports that Ukrainian forces are beaten down after weeks of unrelenting fighting in the east, where lines are holding, but morale and the will to fight are flagging.
As of June 8, Russia holds a swath of Ukrainian territory whose front stretches more than 310 miles, taxing both its and Ukraine’s ability to defend territory while finding troops and equipment sufficient to mount credible offensive maneuvers, the U.K. MoD said.
Ukrainian forces have recently achieved some success by counter-attacking in the southern Kherson region, including regaining a foothold on the eastern bank of the Ingulets River.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address to his nation that Russian forces made no significant advances in the Donbas region over the past day, the Associated Press reports.
“The absolutely heroic defense of the Donbas continues,” Zelensky said, adding that Russian forces were surprised by Ukraine’s continued resistance and are being reinforced with additional personnel and equipment.
Zelensky also noted that Russian advances in the Kherson region also have stalled in the face of Ukrainian defenses. Ukrainian forces have managed to launch counterattacks there, particularly near the strategically important port city of Mykolaiv. Russia has transferred troops from Zaporizhzhia to the Kherson region to defend against those attacks, according to Samuel Ramani, a professor of international relations at Oxford University.
An attempted crossing by Russia of the Donetsk River near Severodonetsk and Lysychansk is expected soon. Ukrainian forces apparently have anticipated the move and have blown up bridges crossing the river to force their opponents to ford the river or build their own bridges, which has gone disastrously in the recent past.
Russia is also amping up its soft-power offensive in Kherson, which it occupied early in the war. With Russia Day, which commemorates the Russian Federation’s declaration of sovereignty and independence from the Soviet Union, coming up on June 12, occupation forces have started distributing Russian passports to residents of the city.
The Russian ruble has been introduced as legal tender in occupied territories, and Russian-speaking teachers are instructing students in Russian curriculum and language. Zelensky has repeatedly warned of such Russian tactics to facilitate and reactively justify its invasion. He has urged Ukrainian citizens to reject offered Russian passports.
The War Zone wants to keep our readers informed about developments on the ground in Ukraine, but there is a lot to digest. Before we move on to the latest news, you can catch up on what happened over the weekend here.
The number of visually-confirmed Russian military vehicles and heavy weaponry destroyed in Ukraine since the Feb. 24 invasion hit 2,500 on June 8. It is a grim milestone for what was, before the invasion, considered the world's second most powerful land army.
Russian armored vehicles continue to suffer catastrophically at the hands of Ukrainian forces armed with guided munitions, unguided anti-armor rockets, artillery, and other heavy weaponry. This completely disassembled Russian BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicle apparently fell prey to a Swedish-made AT-4 unguided single-shot anti-tank weapon.
A couple of Russia’s T-90 tanks, the most modern to see combat in Ukraine, were captured intact by Ukrainian forces who plan to turn their barrels against their former owners.
Ukraine also recently took down a Russian Orlan-10 fixed-wing drone that was recovered remarkably intact, suggesting Ukrainian forces have relatively sophisticated electronic means of disrupting or damaging the aircraft in flight. Electronic so-called "drone guns," of several varieties and capabilities have been seen on both sides of the conflict in which unmanned aerial systems have proven highly effective at reconnaissance, as artillery spotters and for dropping ordnance on enemy positions and vehicles.
To make up for those losses, Russia has resorted to transferring more multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS) and 152mm howitzers from Irkutsk, on the shore of Lake Baikal, just north of Mongolia, all the way west to Ukraine.
New equipment continues to show up in Ukrainian Army service. Spotted June 8, likely for the first time, was a BM-27 Uragan MLRS mounted on an armored Czech-built Tatra truck.
This Ukrainian modification of the Soviet BM-27 220mm MLRS system, includes a modern digital fire control system and has a range of about 22 miles with standard ammunition.
Elsewhere a BMP-1TS infantry fighting vehicle was spotted in use with the Ukrainian Air Assault Forces. According to the Ukraine Weapons Tracker Twitter account, the vehicle is a Ukrainian-modified BMP-1, with a retrofitted combat module that features a 30mm cannon, anti-tank guided missiles, a PK machine gun, an AGS-17 grenade launcher, and more.
Kira Rudik, a member of the Ukrainian Parliament, says the U.K. has promised more Brimstone ground-launched missiles specifically to “unblock,” Ukrainian ports that are blockaded by the Russian Navy. The missiles can be used to engage targets at sea and on land. The short-range, all-weather missiles were seen earlier in UkrainianUrkainian service being fired from a truck-mounted launcher.
Rudik also said Ukraine is interested in buying Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system to protect cities against some incoming Russian missiles (likely meaning rocket artillery and cruise missiles). She says the U.S. has no issues with Ukraine procuring the system.
Air defenses could be top of mind for residents of Kyiv and other cities that have come under Russian missile attacks in recent days. More Iskander-M short-range ballistic missiles, known in the West as SS-26 Stone, were reportedly launched from the Russian city of Belgorod overnight, on their way toward Kharkiv.
Ukrainian explosives disposal teams are working overtime clearing territory of unexpended Russian ordnance like 3B30 submunitions that could maim or kill civilians.
On June 8, remnants of what looks to be a Russian Kh-22 long-range anti-ship missile, designed for use against U.S. Navy aircraft carriers, was pulled from a farm field near Mykolaiv.
Two Tor surface-to-air missile systems aboard a Project 02690 self-propelled floating crane were spotted inbound to the major conflict flashpoint and Russian-occupied Snake Island. Russia has been trying to fully secure island, which commands a strategic position in securing Russian dominance of shipping in the Black Sea and could allow Russian long-range air defense and standoff weapons to easily reach deep into NATO territory, but relentless attacks by Ukrainian drones and fighters has delayed this from happening.
In another instance of Russian aggression having unforeseen consequences for the global world order, Japan agreed Wednesday to increase military cooperation with NATO. The Japanese, which share a maritime border with Russia’s eastern frontier, apparently are concerned over the implications of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for security in Asia, as well as Europe.
Ukrainian workers held hostage for weeks at the Chornobyl Nuclear Plant are now working to clean up the facility that Russian troops not only damaged and defaced, but literally crapped all over. Before evacuating the still-radioactive and very volatile nuclear site in April, Russian troops apparently proceeded to defecate "mounds" of poop in every office in the sprawling facility, Business Insider reports.
"The poop was the icing on the cake," the deputy director of the Chernobyl Ecocenter, is quoted as saying.
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Contact the author: Dan@thewarzone.com