Ukraine Situation Report: Russians Renew Missile Attacks From Belarus
Russian bombers struck from Belarus for the first time Saturday while it appears Sievierodonetsk has finally fallen to Russian forces.
Russian forces launched missile attacks from Belarus on Saturday in the first strikes of their kind since Russia abandoned its offensives north and east of Kyiv.
A wave of six Russian Tu-22M3 “Backfire” bombers launched 12 Kh-22 cruise missiles from Belarusian airspace at ground targets in Kyiv, Chernihiv, and Sumy oblasts. The Ukrainian government claimed this is thus far the first time Russian aircraft have launched airstrikes on Ukrainian territory from Belarusian airspace.
The Backfire raid was part of a much larger strike involving more than 50 air, sea, and ground-launched missiles fired at Ukraine on the night of June 25, according to a Facebook post from the Air Force Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Russia again using Belarus to launch attacks is likely connected to a high-profile meeting Saturday in Saint Petersburg between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. The meeting represents a potentially major shift in strategic cooperation that could have wide-ranging consequences we will discuss in a separate story.
Before heading into the latest news from Ukraine, The War Zone readers can get caught up on our previous rolling coverage here.
After weeks of heavy fighting in and around the city on the Donets River’s eastern banks, Russian forces have taken Sievierodonetsk.
Video soon emerged from the now-quiet bomb shelters within the Azot chemical plant in the city’s industrial area, indicating the last Ukrainian troops had withdrawn.
As noted in our previous coverage, Russian forces are likely headed for Lysychansk, the last major Ukrainian-held city in Luhansk Oblast. But there are serious questions about whether Russian forces can keep fighting at the pace they’ve maintained since targeting the Donbas earlier this spring.
A report from The Washington Post on Saturday suggests Western analysts predict the Russian offensive in the Donbas could come to “a grinding halt” as the Russians exhaust combat capabilities.
Russian ammunition stores are a favored target for Ukrainian forces, and information from Belarus suggests Russia may be trying to forestall the shortage by taking stocks from its neighbor.
The latest intelligence update from the British Ministry of Defense noted the "highly likely" removal of several Russian generals after operational failures in Ukraine. The report specifically mentioned the commander of Airborne Forces (VDV) General-Colonel Andrei Serdyukov and commander of Southern Group of Forces (SGF) General of the Army Alexandr Dvornikov, who for a time may have acted as an overall operational commander.
We now have official footage of the M142 HIMARS debut in Ukrainian service near the frontlines. Video from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense showed a convoy of the launcher vehicles moving under low-light conditions, complete with radio traffic and a soundtrack from "The X-Files" opening theme as artillerymen fire a salvo into the darkness.
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