More missile strikes, among other attacks and counterattacks, as the disinformation flow continues with distortion of losses and territory held.
The shifting nature of the war in Ukraine has prompted a split among analysts and U.S. lawmakers, with some questioning whether American officials have portrayed the crisis in overly rosy terms while others say the government in Kyiv can win with more help from the West.
The growing conjecture comes more than four months after Russia’s invasion and its failure to seize the capital. Russian President Vladimir Putin has since narrowed its objectives, focusing on capturing eastern Ukraine’s industrial Donbas region while launching thousands of artillery rounds per day at outgunned Ukrainian forces.
U.S. officials acknowledge that as Russian forces have massed firepower, they have gradually seized territory in the east. That includes capturing the strategically important city of Severodonetsk in June and threatening to do the same in its nearby sister city, Lysychansk.
U.S. officials have downplayed the gains, calling them halting and incremental, while highlighting the significant number of Russian military fatalities that have come as a result.
But the Ukrainians have sustained heavy casualties, too. Independent estimates indicate each side has seen tens of thousands of soldiers killed and wounded. The Pentagon has largely refused to publicly discuss its assessments of killed and wounded.
The Defense Department’s overriding concern about discussing the Ukrainian military is balancing what can be said at an unclassified level and not providing an “unintended assessment” that Putin can use to his advantage, Pentagon spokesman Todd Breasseale said.
“We’re simply not going to do Russia’s BDA or intel work for them,” Breasseale said, using a military acronym for battle damage assessment. “However, I think we have discussed what we can, when it is knowable, demonstrable and objective.”
- Russian forces entered Lysychansk and advanced within the city on July 2.
- Russian forces are conducting offensive operations southwest of Lysychansk likely to push westward towards Siversk and complete the capture of the entirety of Luhansk Oblast.
- Russian forces continued unsuccessful ground assaults north of Slovyansk.
- Russian forces conducted limited attacks southwest of Donetsk City but did not make any confirmed gains.
- Ukrainian troops are likely planning to threaten Russian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) throughout Kharkiv Oblast using Western-supplied weapons.
- Ukrainian counterattacks and partisan activity continue to force Russian troops to prioritize defensive operations along the Southern Axis.
- Proxy leadership may be setting conditions for the direct annexation of proxy republics by the Russian Federation.
Russian forces entered Lysychansk and advanced within the city on July 2, likely after Ukrainian forces conducted a controlled withdrawal from the city. Kremlin-sponsored outlet RIA Novosti claimed that Russian forces seized Lysychansk, but it is unclear if Russian forces fully cleared and secured the city. Geolocated footage showed Russian forces hanging a red banner in Lysychansk‘s city center and walking around the city’s northern neighborhood. Chechen units also advanced to the southeastern part of Lysychansk, with geolocated footage showing them outside the Lysychansk City Council building. The footage in both areas shows Russian forces freely walking around the city and taking group photos, suggesting that Ukrainian defenders had already withdrawn. Ukrainian officials did not announce a withdrawal from Lysychansk, but the Ukrainian General Staff notably did not discuss any Ukrainian defensive activity around Lysychansk. Chechen Republic Head Ramzan Kadyrov claimed earlier in the day that Russian forces have encircled Ukrainian forces in Lysychansk and noted that Chechen units were preparing for street fights and full-scale attack to seize the city, but then announced that Russian forces had captured the city in full. The inconsistencies in Kadyrov’s claims may suggest that Russian forces expected to face remaining Ukrainian resistance in the city but found that the Ukrainians had instead withdrawn.