The Fog of War may be more like smog as the summer approaches and Russia continue to make a slow progress that continues to get thwarted by Ukrainian tactics. Demining Ukrainian harbors may the the biggest impediment to making grain shipments even as the pressure of Russian contracts in wartime seems not to be resolved. Russian forces unsuccessfully stormed Sievierodonetsk again.
They have decided that it is better to suffer death and destruction than to succumb to a Russian effort to destroy their independence and freedom. In so doing, they have earned much of the world’s admiration while dealing a grievous blow to the cause of autocracies everywhere.
Rather than “sleepwalking” into a conflict with Russia, America is enabling a brave people to take a stand against aggression now, making it less likely that the U.S. would have to face a far more costly war in the future.
Steven R. David, professor of international relations at Johns Hopkins University.
"Russia is not at war with Ukraine, it is driving the devil out of Ukraine, this is a geopolitical exorcism." - Alexander Dugin.
2/ The past month has seen the Russian military consolidate its forces into fewer fronts, and concentrate much of its offensive power in the east. At the same time, it has continued strategic operations to strike targets across Ukraine.
3/ This approach has delivered more tactical success, relative to its initial assaults on Kyiv and Kharkiv in their initial phases of the invasion. Their battlefield success has been particularly obvious with their gains in Luhansk.
Currently, Russian forces fighting in Severodonetsk have fixed Ukrainian forces in a pocket, with Russian forces also advancing from Popasna in the south and Lyman in the north.
5/ The obvious Russian operational objective here is to capture the remaining Ukrainian held territory in Luhansk, and also capture/destroy Ukrainian ground forces that might be enveloped in the Severodonetsk pocket.
6/ If the worst (for Ukraine) occurs, and Russia captures Severodonetsk and the remainder of Luhansk, what might be the next move by Russia?
7/ First, Russia would leverage such a victory for its strategic influence campaign. It would communicate this as a victory to its domestic audience to demonstrate progress for the costs incurred.
8/ Russia would probably seek to use a ‘victory in Luhansk’ message globally to show that the tide of the war had turned, and that ‘supporting Ukraine is only delaying the inevitable’.
Militarily, there are a couple of options for Russia after a victory in Luhansk. First, it might assume a defensive posture to rest, resupply and regenerate forces in the east. This, however, risks wasting the tactical momentum they have created in that region.
10/ Second, the Russians may elect to continue advancing to then secure Donetsk. This is not an insignificant task however. It is a larger piece of territory than the remainder of Luhansk which is the current focus.
And Ukraine retains significant combat forces in the Donbas, which are starting to receive increased numbers of Western artillery systems, to resist a continued Russian advance.
12/ Third, the Russians are under pressure in the south. In Kherson, the Ukrainians are continuing to chip away at territory seized by Russia earlier in the war. Russian positions north of the Dnipro are under particular pressure.
13/ In the wake of any Luhansk success, Russia may have to pause in the east so that it can reinforce its defensive positions in the south. The challenge in the south is magnified for the Russians by the nascent Ukrainian resistance movement in the region.
15/ At the same time, there are forces in Belarus that could undertake limited operations in northern Ukraine. While unlikely, it is still a contingency that the Ukrainian high command cannot take its eye off.
16/ The reality at the moment however is that both sides are weary, and are sustaining heavy casualties. The Ukrainian President has stated in the past 24 hours that Ukraine is losing over 100 KIA per day.
17/ Therefore, we might expect an operational pause (not a ceasefire and not a stalemate) at some time in the coming weeks. The Ukrainians and the Russians will need time to rebuild, retrain and re-strategize if the Russians are successful in Luhansk.
18/ In every long war, a tempo is established of constant maneuvering and preparations, punctuated by short periods of vicious combat. A Russian victory in Luhansk might end the first major pulse of combat in this war.
19/ While it appears that tactical momentum is with the Russians, they still have issues with regeneration of their combat forces. They have tactical and operational choices available, but all have attendant logistic, air support and other challenges.
20/ We should have no expectation of a quick end to this war. While both sides are tiring, they both retain the will, the means and the political objectives to continue the fight over the long term.
Given all this, strategic patience from those supporting #Ukraine
is essential. As Eliot Cohen has recently written, “the moment calls for intestinal fortitude, standing by the government and people of Ukraine.” End.
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- Russian forces have likely established control over the majority of the residential sector of Severodonetsk and conducted assaults against Ukrainian positions in the industrial zone in the past 24 hours. The operational environment within the city remains fluid.
- Russian forces continued efforts to advance on Slovyansk southeast from the Izyum area and west from Lyman, attempting to break through Ukrainian defenses that have halted most direct frontal assaults from Izyum.
- Russian forces are likely attempting to reinforce their operations in the Severodonetsk-Lysychansk area from both the Toshkivka-Ustynivka area in the south and Kupyansk from the northwest.
- Russian forces began withdrawing troops from positions in Zaporizhia Oblast, likely either to rotate damaged units into rear areas or to reinforce Russian defenses in northwestern Kherson Oblast, though ISW cannot currently confirm the destination of these forces.
- Russian forces failed to regain advanced positions on the western (now Ukrainian-occupied) bank of the Ihulets River on June 7.
- Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that Russian forces restored transit connections between newly occupied cities and Crimea.
- Russian occupation authorities continue to face challenges suppressing Ukrainian resistance and finding partisan supporters despite increasingly draconian occupation measures and attempts to bribe Ukrainian civilians.
Russian forces continued offensive operations in several locations in eastern Ukraine but did not secure any confirmed gains in ground assaults on June 7. Russian forces have likely captured most of Severodonetsk, but ISW cannot confirm the exact control of terrain within the city. Russian forces additionally redeployed troops east of Bakhmut to renew offensives to secure access to highways northeast of Bakhmut and threaten Ukrainian lines of communication. Russian troops north of Slovyansk will likely seek to advance toward Slovyansk and Kramatorsk from positions north of the city. Russian forces on the Southern Axis are reportedly redeploying away from Zaporizhia Oblast toward Kherson Oblast, likely in order to support Russian defensive positions that have been threatened by Ukrainian counterattacks along the Mykolaiv-Kherson Oblast border south of Davydiv Brid.
Main Effort—Eastern Ukraine
Subordinate Main Effort—Southern Kharkiv, Donetsk, Luhansk Oblasts (Russian objective: Encircle Ukrainian forces in Eastern Ukraine and capture the entirety of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)
Russian forces continued efforts to advance southeast of Izyum toward Slovyansk on June 7. Russian forces are attempting to advance toward the Kharkiv-Donetsk Oblast border and around Dovhenke, Dolyna, Krasnopillya, and Bohorodychne. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu claimed that Russian forces captured several settlements in the area southeast of Izyum and north of Slovyansk, including Svyatohirsk, Studenok, Yarova, and Drobysheve. Russian forces seek to advance on Slovyansk from both positions around Izyum as well as Lyman in the west after the failure of efforts to advance solely from Izyum.
Russian forces have likely established control over the majority of the residential sector of Severodonetsk and conducted assaults against Ukrainian positions in the industrial zone on June 7. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu claimed during a meeting with the National Defense Management Center (NDCC) that Russian forces have captured 97% of Luhansk Oblast, including the entirety of the residential part of Severodonetsk. Russian forces reportedly also control Metolkine and Borivske, two southeastern suburbs of Severodonetsk. Maxar satellite imagery (see images in-line with text) from June 6 showed Russian MLRS and towed artillery deployments oriented toward Severodonetsk, indicating that Russian forces continue to rely heavily on artillery fire to support their operations around Severodonetsk. Russian forces are likely using mass bombardment to clear sectors of the city before occupying the rubble—similar to Russian operations in Mariupol. The operational environment within Severodonetsk remains fluid and challenging and ISW cannot confirm specific control of terrain within the city. As with our previous coverage of Russian operations in Mariupol, our assessed control of terrain represents our best estimate of control of key areas of the city.
Russian continues to make gains in the Donbas region, including in the contested city of Severodonetsk and toward Slovyansk.
Meanwhile, Ukraine insists on conditions regarding its own grain shipments, and while the Western media continues to blame Russia for “blockading” Odessa port, these same sources also admit Ukrainian naval mines are what’s actually obstructing commercial shipping.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky admits Ukrainian forces are incapable of advancing on Russian positions and possesses inferior equipment as Ukrainian losses continue to mount and as the Western media has greater difficulty hiding these losses.
"Russians are fully aware that a relatively small number of Western weapons have been sent and the delivery into combat positions is slow... Russians are seeking to utilise their advantage by using their artillery to try and break through"
General Mark #Milley in a recent Pentagon briefing noted mined ports were a contributing factor to impeding grain shipments. General Milley said, "it's a bit of a stalemate there between the #Ukrainians wanting to make sure that there's not any sort of amphibious landing against #Odesa [and shipping grain], so it's a no-go zone for commercial shipping. "
Big Russian disinformation:
The articles undermine victims’ rape and sexual assault claims by presenting a dismissed official as evidence that the claims were fabricated. Physical evidence has already been collected from victims, many of whom did not survive. Examples of evidence in report.
3/ Russian soldiers have uploaded images of many types of crimes and intercepted calls from soldiers also suggest that rape may be widespread. Some victims choose to speak publicly, but we shouldn't disbelieve because people don't want to talk publicly.
4/ For many unfortunate women, Russian soldiers appear to have murdered them after the assault. Their fates are known only from the evidence left behind.
5/ On May 31, RT[.]com and Moon of Alabama (MoA) published stories. The RT article didn’t attract as much attention as the piece published on MoA.
6/ At least one extremist researcher shared with us that MoA is popular with QAnon followers. We found MoA content shared in QAnon spaces. It does seem to be getting more popular, but this was not a systematic review. Example attached.
6/ We found that before the war, MoA was shared by pro-Kremlin, QAnon, and White Supremacist groups. Recently, it has been cited by the Belarusian KGB and Russian language channels.
7/ Hoaxlines found at least 53 backlinks to the Moon of Alabama article within the first week, meaning that 53 other locations had likely backlinked or republished. I'll just touch a few things we found but if you want to know more, there is definitely more in the report.
8/ The Zero Hedge article from June 1 was republished on influential websites like Global Research (1.3 million visits in the past three months) and InfoWars (8.5 million visits in the past three months) and was translated into many other languages.
9/ By June 2, six different Substack publishers had backlinked to the Zero Hedge story: SÁT-CỘNG, a Skeptic, Strange Sounds, Eric Rosen, Lioness Of Judah Ministry, and Richard Duke.
10/ Among the websites republishing one of two key articles was the Strategic Culture Foundation, an outlet the US Treasury describes as, “an online journal registered in Russia that is directed by the SVR and closely affiliated with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”
12/ There's quite a bit more but I won't have time to do a long thread today. Here's a link to the report that jumps past the front matter and summary.
DISCLAIMER: We do not imply that any person or outlets mentioned are engaged in nefarious or criminal acts. Inclusion reflects website behavior and definitions outlined and does not necessarily indicate an author or website intends to collaborate with the Russian state.
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