Day 471 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Kyiv is waging a Counteroffensive on at least 3 Fronts
Day 471 of the invasion of Ukraine. Summary of key events in the last 24 hours:
- The Institute for the Study of War: Ukraine is waging a counteroffensive on at least 3 fronts
- Zelensky boasted about the results of the offensive
- Expert: Ukraine conducts operations in a 400-kilometer belt from Zaporizhzhia to Bakhmut
- After the destruction of Nova Kakhovka: There is not enough water to cool the Zaporizhzhia NPP
- Zelensky intensified criticism of the Red Cross for inaction after the collapse of "Kakhovka”
- Zelensky intensified criticism of the Red Cross for inaction after the collapse of "Kakhovka”
The Institute for the Study of War: Ukraine is waging a counteroffensive on at least 3 fronts
Ukraine has conducted counteroffensive operations with mixed results in at least three sectors of the front as part of a broader counteroffensive effort that has been unfolding since Sunday, June 4, the US Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said in its analysis of military operations today.
Ukrainian forces have switched from defensive to offensive operations in the Bakhmut sector and are making territorial gains ranging from 200 meters to nearly 2 km on the city's flanks. Ukrainian forces have achieved tactical success during limited local counterattacks in the western part of Donetsk Oblast near the border between Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts since June 4. In addition, Ukrainian forces conducted an attack in the western part of Zaporizhzhia Oblast during the night of 7/8 June, but at the time of publication of the analysis (21:00 p.m. Bulgarian time on 8 June) they do not appear to have achieved success in this attack.
On the night of June 7-8, Ukrainian forces conducted a limited but significant attack in the western part of the Zaporizhzhia region. Russian forces apparently defended against this attack in a doctrinally sound manner and reportedly recovered their original positions by 8 June. Late on the night of June 7, Russian sources began to report that elements of Ukrainian brigades, which had recently been equipped with Western equipment, had launched an attack southwest of Orikhiv in the Western Zaporizhzhia region. Several Russian military bloggers claim that Ukrainian forces attacked along the Mala Tokmachka-Polohy line with the aim of breaking through the Russian defense line between Robotyn and Verbove (both about 15 km southeast of Orikhiv). Russian sources admit that Ukrainian forces broke through the first line of defense in this area, held by elements of the 291st and 70th Motorized Rifle Regiments (42nd Motorized Rifle Division, 58th Combined Army, Southern Military District) and 22nd and the 45th Separate Guards Special Purpose Brigade, but reported that these Russian elements were able to counterattack and eventually push Ukrainian forces back to their original positions. Available geolocation combat footage indicates that limited Ukrainian forces have crossed the N08 Polohy-Voskresenka highway, but Russian sources indicate that Russian forces may have pushed the Ukrainians back in the direction of Orikhiv towards the front line and regained lost ground.
On June 8, Ukrainian forces also reportedly lost Western-provided vehicles. Losses are inevitable in any military endeavor. Ukrainian forces will suffer losses, including Western and Soviet equipment, during any offensive operations, ISW analysts write. The loss of equipment - including Western equipment - at the beginning of the counteroffensive is not indicative of the future progress of the Ukrainian counteroffensive operation. It is important not to exaggerate the impact of initial losses of Western or other equipment, especially in penetration battles against prepared defensive positions, the analysis added.
Zelensky boasted about the results of the offensive
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy boasted results of the Ukrainian forces' offensive in eastern Ukraine late Thursday in his traditional address, this time from a train.
"There is a lot of hard fighting in the Donetsk region. But there are results, and I am grateful to those who achieved them. Well done in Bakhmut. Step by step," Zelensky said on his way back from Nova Kakhovka, where he learned about the consequences of the flooding from the broken dam wall.
Zelensky added that fighting was also taking place in other areas, but said he would not give details. Photos posted on his Telegram account show him meeting with generals, Reuters reports.
Zaporizhzhia - the focus of the offensive?
The BBC reported heavy fighting in the southern Zaporizhzhia region, citing Russian sources and military bloggers.
According to them, Ukrainian troops, backed by tanks, artillery and drones, are trying to advance south of the city of Orikhiv for the second night in a row.
A senior Ukrainian official said the enemy was on "active defense".
According to military experts, the focus of the long-awaited counter-offensive will be Zaporizhzhia, where Kyiv will try to regain access to the Sea of Azov, splitting the occupying Russian forces in the region in two.
This would not only weaken their fighting capabilities, but also cut off the land link the Russians have secured to Crimea, the southern peninsula of Ukraine illegally annexed by Russia in 2014.
Meanwhile, the UK Ministry of Defense said that "against a highly complex operational picture, heavy fighting continues on multiple sectors of the front" and that "in most areas Ukraine holding the initiative".
The Russians continue the war from the air
Ukraine's military shot down four cruise missiles and 10 attack drones during a Russian airstrike overnight Friday, the air force said in a statement.
It said Russian forces fired 16 drones and six cruise missiles during the attack and that two other cruise missiles hit a civilian target in central Ukraine during an earlier attack on Thursday evening.
According to the governor of the Cherkasy Oblast, these are hit objects near the city of Uman in central Ukraine. Eight people were injured in the attack, two seriously.
Igor Taburets wrote on "Telegram" that the rockets hit an industrial site.
Pictures posted on his Telegram account showed emergency teams searching for survivors in what was largely reduced to rubble, with smoke billowing in the background.
The strikes came during an air alert declared across Ukraine for about an hour overnight.
Expert: Ukraine conducts operations in a 400-kilometer belt from Zaporizhzhia to Bakhmut
The Ukrainian army is conducting operations in the 400-kilometer belt from Zaporizhzhia to Bakhmut, Polish military analyst Yaroslav Wolski said in an analysis from Thursday evening. His words come amid reports by The Washington Post that the Ukrainian counter-offensive has already begun. Wolski himself, as well as many of his colleagues, at this stage avoids talking about a Ukrainian offensive that has begun, pointing out that it may also be a matter of misleading actions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
According to Yaroslav Wolski, activity in such a 400-kilometer belt means the participation of a minimum of 10 brigades (a total of 55 thousand soldiers) up to 20 brigades (120 thousand soldiers). Together with the supporting units, this means the participation of 250 thousand military personnel, i.e. a quarter of the VSU.
The last 48 hours, according to Wolski, allow the identification of 6 assault battalions and at least 5 companies in Zaporizhzhia - what can be seen are mechanized equipment, tanks and BMPs, parts of 4 different mechanized brigades.
The strongest attacks in Zaporizhzhia were carried out from Orikhiv in the direction of Tokmak and from Velyki Novosilky towards Bilmak. At this point, it is difficult to determine whether both strikes are deception maneuvers to deceive the Russians about the direction of the breach, or whether Ukraine will not try to feint.
According to Wolski, the current actions will lead to increased losses of Ukraine, which will look like a "reverse Vuhledar", i.e. the armored and mechanized columns of the VSU will encounter minefields and be struck by artillery and anti-tank missiles. With such actions, the Ukrainian Armed Forces may even lose an entire brigade (4-5 battalions) in the next two weeks.
“The above will not matter if the VSU succeeds in one of the directions at the expense of losses and enters the operational space of the Russian forces, in the direction of the sea, something that I, the expert, personally doubt due to the depth of the defense of the Russian army. It is also possible that the VSU will try to break through the next lines of defense of the Russians and fight, which will be bloody for both sides.
Ukraine does not have air superiority, but it appears to have been able to effectively disable some of the Russian defenses and some of the artillery. Some modern air defense complexes of Kyiv were also moved near the combat zone (IRIS-T SLM and others), which puts them at risk, but temporarily gives the VSU a lifeline and creates a serious problem for the Air Force of Russia.
The explosion of the dam at Nova Kakhovka looks like a manifestation of panic among the Russians, who apparently knew that the actual offensive would begin, but it could also be a ‘working accident’ of the VSU specialists who failed to capture the dam. In any case, the Kakhovka direction is canceled until August due to the swampy terrain.
In the next 5 days, it should be clear where will the VSU try to break through and which directions will be main and which are auxiliary or misleading. Until then, we will be bombarded with videos and photos of broken VSU equipment - because the attacker suffers several times more losses from the defenders in this phase of the operation, only after that the proportions are reversed. This is due to overcoming strongly fortified positions or engineering obstacles under artillery fire,” commented Yaroslav Wolski.
"I have the feeling that this will be a very difficult and bloody operation for the VSU. For now, we have to wait for the main directions of the breakthrough to be clarified. For now, I have a vague feeling that what we are seeing is not necessarily them," adds the expert.
At the same time, the "Washington Post", and so far the only one of the major Western media, wrote in the last hours that the long-awaited counteroffensive of the Ukrainian army against the occupying Russian forces has already begun, opening a new phase in the war aimed at restoring the territorial sovereignty of Ukraine and maintaining Western support. The publication notes that the VSU has stepped up its attacks on the front line in the southeastern part of the country, the reporters cited four VSU officials who spoke to them on condition of anonymity. From the Ukrainian side, there is no information about a possible start of the counteroffensive.
After the destruction of Nova Kakhovka: There is not enough water to cool the Zaporizhzhia NPP
The cooling tanks of the Zaporizhzhia NPP cannot be supplied with water because of the falling level in the Nova Kakhovka dam after the destruction of its wall, the authorities in Kyiv warned.
The largest nuclear power plant in Europe is located 150 kilometers downstream of the Dnieper. The six reactors have already been shut down because of the fighting actions but need enough water for cooling.
At least nine people were injured in Russian shelling of the city of Kherson. The attack took place during the evacuation of local residents due to the flood caused by the destruction of the dam. The Ukrainian authorities have evacuated over 2,200 people from the disaster zone.
“There are people who spend the night on the roofs of the houses after the explosion of Nova Kakhovka”, said Prof. Mihail Stanchev on Nova TV. "Yesterday our TV host said on air that her friend with 2 babies was also sleeping on the roof but died with the children," the professor said. He specified that 1,335 houses were submerged.
According to him, the water that flooded Ukraine will enter the soil and there will be no harvest in the coming years.
Zelensky intensified criticism of the Red Cross for inaction after the collapse of "Kakhovka”
Volodymyr Zelensky has shifted his criticism from the pace at which Western weapons are reaching his country to the slow international response to the humanitarian and environmental disaster caused by the collapse of the Nova Kakhovka dam, the Guardian reports.
Before visiting the flood-hit areas on Thursday, he used his evening address to say: "A massive effort is needed. We need international organizations, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), to immediately join the rescue operation and help people in the occupied part of Kherson region. Every person who dies there is a sentence for the existing international architecture and international organizations that have forgotten how to save life. If now there is no international organization in the area of this disaster, it means that it does not exist at all and that it is incapable of functioning."
He told the German newspaper "Bild" that the UN and the ICRC "are not there".
His remarks reflect his anger that the UN - and much of the international reporting - has yet to refute Russia's claims that it is innocent of the dam's destruction, or that they are not focusing on Moscow's failure to help people in the occupied left bank to which the UN and ICRC say they have been denied access by Russia.
Zelensky and his circle believe that the Geneva-based organization has used the cloak of neutrality, international law and confidentiality to hide moral weakness. Dmytro Lubinets, Ukraine's human rights ombudsman, said last month that every day "he is faced with the fact that the Red Cross does not want to perform its functions. But the worst thing is that the Red Cross has a monopoly and does not allow other organizations to appear".
He pointed out, "An organization is using its history, its name, to prevent it from doing something impactful."
Lubinets added that Ukraine wanted a second organization with joint responsibility for access to political prisoners, arguing that competition could spur the ICRC to be more active.
The bone of contention is the ICRC's approach to fighters. Ukraine's anger was sparked by the ICRC's inability to gain access to Olenivka, a notorious camp in eastern Ukraine where dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war died in an explosion and fire in July. In his evening address on October 13, Zelensky emphasized: "I believe that the International Committee of the Red Cross is not a club with privileges, where one receives a salary and enjoys life. The Red Cross has duties, first of all, of a moral nature. The mandate of the Red Cross must be fulfilled."
The following month, the president's office announced the creation of a human rights information team, saying the ICRC appeared unable to pinpoint or investigate human rights abuses in Russia.
In his address later that month to the G20 in Bali, Zelensky said: "11,000 children (who were forcibly deported to Russia), hundreds of thousands of deported adults and we found no support in the International Committee of the Red Cross. We don't see that they fully fight for access to the camps where Ukrainian prisoners and political prisoners are held, or to help find deported Ukrainians."
In contrast, Zelensky expressed admiration for the tougher style of Rafael Grossi, director of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, who visited both Russia and Ukraine to maintain safety at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
The style of the relatively new head of the ICRC, a former Swiss diplomat, Mirjana Spoljaric Egger, is discreet. She says the ICRC's mandate means it is not an advocacy group or a body capable of organizing investigations.
Faced with a world in which post-1945 respect for an agreed, rules-based order has eroded, it cannot unilaterally enter prison camps or command cooperation from the countries with which it must work. Built trust, neutrality and confidentiality are critical components of the ICRC's success, she believes.
It has 1,000 employees in Ukraine and recently said: "The closer you are to the front line, the more people know how important neutrality is because it protects you. We have very little means of ensuring safety and security for our personnel, apart from our strict 160 years of neutrality and impartiality."
On Thursday, efforts were apparently made to improve relations with meetings between UN officials and Ukraine in Kherson. The Ukrainian Red Cross also emphasized that it is active on the ground.
In a statement, the UN humanitarian agency said it had organized water trucks and delivered more than 100,000 bottles of drinking water, water purification tablets and canisters to affected communities in Kherson region.
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