- The Russian Ministry of Defense has not claimed any territorial gains since July 3, supporting the assessment that Russian forces are conducting an operational pause while still engaging in limited ground attacks to set conditions for more significant offensive operations.
- The Kremlin continues to prepare for a protracted war by setting conditions for crypto-mobilization of the economy and largely initiating an operational pause in Ukraine.
- Russian forces conducted offensive operations northwest and east of Slovyansk.
- Russian forces continued efforts to push westward toward Siversk from the Luhansk-Donetsk oblast border.
- Russian forces continued attempts to advance toward Bakhmut from the south.
- Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks north of Kharkiv City.
- Russian forces conducted unsuccessful ground assaults in northwestern Kherson Oblast.
- Ukrainian forces may be setting conditions for a counteroffensive toward Kherson City.
- Russian forces may be forming a new military unit in Mulino, Nizhny Novgorod Oblast.
Even as Russian forces pummel towns and villages in Donetsk Province with deadly rocket attacks and airstrikes, military experts say the strikes are most likely only the prelude to a full-scale assault.
President Vladimir V. Putin’s forces are laying the groundwork for an onslaught, according to the Institute for the Study of War, a research group based in Washington, which said that on Wednesday, for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, it claimed no territorial gains.
Still, Russia’s attacks in Donetsk in recent days have caused heavy damage. At least seven civilians were killed in the last 24 hours, including a 17-year-old girl found under rubble, local authorities said on Thursday. In Kramatorsk, which serves as Ukraine’s administrative and military center in the province, a rocket struck a residential area in the center of the city around midday, killing one person and wounding six others, officials there said.
The Institute for the Study of War said in its most recent assessment that while Russian forces may have “initiated an operational pause” in Donetsk, it did not mean “the complete cessation of active hostilities.” Instead, the report said, Moscow’s troops “will likely confine themselves to relatively small-scale offensive actions as they attempt to set conditions for more significant offensive operations.”
Moscow is turning its attention to Donetsk Province after completing its capture of Luhansk Province, to its northeast, last week. After that victory, military experts said that Russia would rotate troops out and bring in fresh ones.
A report on Thursday by British military intelligence said that while heavy shelling continued on the front line in Donetsk, Russian forces had made few advances and were “likely reconstituting” their operations.
There were no claimed or assessed Russian territorial gains in Ukraine on July 6 for the first time in 133 days of war, supporting ISW’s assessment that Russian forces have largely initiated an operational pause. The Russian Defense Ministry claimed territorial gains every day from the start of the war but has not claimed any new territory or ground force movements since completing the encirclement of Lysychansk on July 3. However, Russian forces still conducted limited and unsuccessful ground assaults across all axes on July 6. Such attempts are consistent with a Russian operational pause, which does not imply or require the complete cessation of active hostilities. It means, in this case, that Russian forces will likely confine themselves to relatively small-scale offensive actions as they attempt to set conditions for more significant offensive operations and rebuild the combat power needed to attempt those more ambitious undertakings.
Supporting Effort #1—Kharkiv City (Russian objective: Defend ground lines of communication (GLOCs) to Izyum and prevent Ukrainian forces from reaching the Russian border)
Russian forces continued attempting limited ground assaults north of Kharkiv City on July 6. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled a Russian assault in the direction of Kozacha Lopan-Sosnivka. Russian Telegram channel Rybar claimed that fighting is ongoing west of Sosnivka and in Svitlychne (8 km southwest of Sosnivka), as well as in Pytomnyk, 20 km north of Kharkiv City. Russian forces continued air and artillery strikes on Ukrainian force concentrations and military and civilian infrastructure in Kharkiv City and the surrounding settlements. The Derhachi City Council reported that Russian forces shelled Derhachi with incendiary munitions. Russian forces shelled Derhachi, Mala Danylivka, Prudyanka, and Slatyne along the T2117 highway and Pytomnyk on the E105 highway to Kharkiv City.
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