June 2, 2023

Sitrep for June 1–2, 2023 (as of 8:30 a.m.)

The frontline remains quiet. As we reported in yesterday’s sitrep, Ukrainian forces have suspended their flanking maneuvers around Bakhmut in order to restore combat readiness and to fulfill others tasks, as was confirmed today by General Oleksandr Sysrkyi [commander of the Ukrainian Ground Forces].

Strikes on Russian and Ukrainian Territory

During the night of Jun. 2, Russian forces once again attacked Ukrainian cities with cruise missiles and Shahed drones. According to Ukrainian authorities, 15 missiles and 18 drones were launched at Kyiv and the surrounding region, all were intercepted (after the recording of the sitrep, reports indicated that 21 UAVs were shot down, and that two people were injured in the Kyiv region).

As we have mentioned before, we think that the frequent strikes on Kyiv are likely aimed at depleting Ukraine’s stocks of expensive Western air-to-surface missiles, Kyiv being currently very well equipped in that department. This state of affairs is perhaps what has finally compelled European and US officials to change their mind and start discussing the possibility of supplying F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine. If the production of surface-to-air missiles fails to keep up with their rate of expenditure, then eventually, should Ukraine’s Air Force not be bolstered with Western air-to-air missiles, their stock might be depleted.

The Ukraine Battle Map project summarized the Russian attacks in May based on statements from the Ukrainian Air Force. Within the total number of missiles launched across Ukraine, there were:

  • 143 cruise missiles of 3M-54 Kalibr, Kh-101, and Kh-555 types;
  • 28 missiles from various versions of the 9K720 Iskander missile system;
  • 7 Kh-47M2 Kinzhal hypersonic missiles;
  • 21 Kh-22 missiles.

This indicates that the hopes of quickly depleting Russia's missile arsenal were not realized.

Governor of the Kursk region Roman Starovoyt reports that on the night of Jun. 2, Russian air defense systems successfully intercepted several Ukrainian drones over Kursk. Explosions were heard by the local residents.

Moreover, two drones attacked fuel and energy facilities in the Smolensk region, however, according to the local authorities, no damage was caused (either the drones hit trees and fell, or they were shot down).

Governor of the Bryansk region Aleksandr Bogomaz reported about strikes on the settlements of Lomakovka in the Starodubsky municipal district and Novaya Pogoshch in the Suzemsky district. There were no casualties as a result of the strikes, but residential buildings caught fire in both villages.

On Jun. 1, at least two people were injured as a result of a drone explosion geolocated in the Kharkovskaya Gora neighborhood of Belgorod, which the authorities described as "a UAV fallen on the roadway" (preliminary information about nine victims was not confirmed; initially, two incidents were reported in Belgorod, but they appeared to have been the same one).

As we reported in our previous sitrep, a new attempt to break through into the territory of the Belgorod region by the Russian Volunteer Corps took place on Jun. 1. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, around 4:00 a.m., an artillery shelling of the Shebekino border checkpoint began, which lasted for an hour. After that, an attempt was made to penetrate the Russian territory by a sabotage and reconnaissance group consisting of three armored combat vehicles and four pickups. In response, Russian forces opened retaliatory artillery fire, allegedly preventing the sabotage and reconnaissance group from infiltrating Russian territory and disposing of all attackers. At 6:00 a.m., a second attempt was made, reportedly involving five tanks, four armored vehicles, seven pickups, and one KAMAZ truck, but it was also suppressed.

At the moment, besides the statements from the Russian Ministry of Defense and the Russian Volunteer Corps, there are only photos of two damaged vehicles and a video recording of the shelling. The video published by the Russian Volunteer Corps shows gunfire on a forest road, but it is unclear whether there was an actual exchange of fire or if it was staged footage. It is also impossible to geolocate the scene of action. The Russian Ministry of Defense released a video of strikes made by the TOS-1 Solntsepyok MLRS, filmed by a drone, but it is unclear what their target was. There is no evidence of a breakthrough deep into Russian territory — apparently, the firefight occurred directly on the border between Russia and Ukraine.

We still believe that the ongoing breakthroughs are unlikely to lead to the deployment of additional units of the RuAF to this section of the border, as many units of the Rosgvardia [the National Guard of Russia] remain uninvolved.

Currently, the border is guarded by conscripts who are increasingly falling victim to attacks. For example, it has been reported that on Jun. 1, an automobile carrying ten servicemen came under fire, resulting in the deaths of two conscripts and one warrant officer.

On the social media pages of the Belgorod region Governor, locals are complaining about conscripts having to take part in the border clashes and are demanding their withdrawal from the combat zone.

The Netherlands is looking to procure dozens of Leopard 1 tanks to have them subsequently supplied to Ukraine. The Dutch government plans to buy these tanks from a Swiss company but such a transaction would require approval by the government of Switzerland.

The Swiss parliament has rejected a proposal to allow exporting Swiss-made arms to Ukraine.

RUAG, a Swiss state-owned defense company, was planning to sell 96 Leopard 1 tanks: first, they were to be delivered to Germany and then to Ukraine. Despite the fact that current legislation, as we understand it, does not allow such a re-export, the company filed a formal application for an export license.

Armored multi-purpose tractors with 2M-3 type naval turrets (they were called Tankensteins in the English-speaking world), capable of acting as ersatz air defense systems, were spotted in several locations in spring 2023. A photograph has appeared, allowing us to guess that this is what such systems are used for where fortification is in progress. This is probably due to the cases observed in the previous months when drones used to fly by and drop grenades on workers digging trenches, including in the Belgorod and Bryansk regions.

After Bakhmut was captured, Yevgeny Prigozhin [Russian oligarch, confidant of Vladimir Putin, and the owner of the Wagner Group] has gone on a media tour of Russian cities. At one meeting, when asked about Akhmat, the Chechen Special Forces unit, he replied that it was not clear to him what this unit had been doing in Ukraine. Comrades of Ramzan Kadyrov [Head of Chechnya, Russia’s constituent republic] — Member of the State Duma Adam Delimkhanov, Speaker of the Chechen Parliament Magomed Daudov, and Commander of the Akhmat unit Apti Alaudinov — felt offended by it, so they posted their video addresses to Prigozhin on social media, proposing to appoint a "meeting" and solve any issue "face to faceю." Prigozhin responded by saying that he saw nothing reprehensible in his statements and that all those involved in the discussion had his contact details. Note that Kadyrov himself has not commented on the situation in any way; not so long ago, he took a photo with Prigozhin and called him "dear brother."

During the full scale invasion we haven’t seen the Akhmat Special Forces participating in combat activities. In the footage of the real battles in Mariupol, where they claimed their participation in the city capture, one can only see the marines. But let’s note that Prigozhin also regularly exaggerates, claiming that the capture of Bakhmut was solely carried out by the Wagner Group. We observed the involvement of the Akhmat volunteer unit in combat actions and saw obituaries of the killed, but this Akhmat unit is not the same as the Special Forces unit with the same name.

Kadyrov claims that the Akhmat Special Forces fighters have begun assault operations near Marinka (Donetsk direction). A video has surfaced in which Alaudinov stated that Putin has tasked them with fully capturing Marinka. He also claimed that at present the 5th, 20th, and 150th Motorized Rifle Divisions stationed there have occupied 70% of the settlement, and further on, the Ministry of Defense units and the Akhmat Special Forces will act jointly. We believe that in reality, only Russian military personnel will continue to operate further.

It is worth noting that in mid-December 2022, Denys Pushylin [Head of the so-called DPR] stated that more than 80% of Marinka had been captured.

Satellite images have emerged showing the aftermath of the attack on Berdiansk in the late evening of May 25, allegedly carried out with a Storm Shadow missile. The images confirm that the strike targeted the Berdiansk Cable Plant.

The Ministry of Justice of Russia has added the Anti-Corruption Foundation Inc. (a foreign entity of Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation or FBK) to the list of undesirable organizations.

The Nasiliyu.net [No To Violence, a Russian non-profit organization] center, which helps victims of domestic violence, has announced that starting from Jun. 1, 2023, it will operate not only in Moscow but also online throughout Russia. They have also announced the opening of new ways to receive donations.