June 22, 2023

Sitrep for Jun. 20-22, 2023 (as of 11:30 a.m.)

The Ukrainian Offensive

  • Strikes on Ukrainian and Russian Territory

Ukrainian forces have launched strikes on two key bridges, including the Chonhar bridge, which serve as vital links between Crimea and mainland Ukraine. It looks as though the weapons used in these attacks were Storm Shadow cruise missiles, capable of temporarily disabling a bridge, but not powerful enough to cause a complete collapse of bridge spans. These strikes have rendered the bridges temporarily unusable, forcing supply lines to be redirected through an alternative route via a bridge located in Armiansk (thereby increasing the burden on that bridge). However, regular strikes would be needed for the bridges to be permanently disabled, and prevent them from being repaired. Whether the Armed Forces of Ukraine have a sufficient stockpile of long-range missiles at their disposal to sustain such a campaign remains uncertain. In the meantime, the Russian Armed Forces may consider setting up pontoon crossings to maintain their supply lines.

Taking into account another recent AFU strike on the Partizany railway station in the area of Rykove, the Ukrainian offensive can be expected to intensify in the near future in order to cut the land corridor connecting Russia and Crimea through southern Ukraine. Such a prospect does not mean that the Russian grouping located in the south of Ukraine is to be urgently withdrawn, since thanks to fortifications, the RuAF can hold back the enemy’s attacks for quite a long time. However, supply difficulties will reduce the effectiveness of the defense due to a highly probable shortage of ammunition.

  • Frontline Situation Update

Ukrainian forces continue their offensive actions on the Zaporizhzhia axis. A video of an unsuccessful attack by the AFU near Makarivka (not far from Velyka Novosilka) has been published. Ukrainian soldiers in MRAPs engaged in combat with Russian soldiers who were entrenched in a forest line after an artillery shelling began. When suffering some losses, the AFU were forced to retreat.

After the liberation of Piatykhatky, the AFU continued to advance towards the settlement of Zherebianky (near the village of Lobkove). This situation was commented on by Yevgeny Prigozhin [Russian oligarch, confidant of Vladimir Putin, and the owner of the Wagner Group], with the caveat that he was not on the frontline at that moment. According to his information, the AFU is already on the outskirts of Robotyne, near Sadove, close to Tokmak (the latter sounds unlikely as Sadove and Tokmak are still quite far away from the current line of contact—it could be a statement that is part of propaganda; we haven’t seen any confirmations). The presence of Ukrainian forces in the northern part of Robotyne was confirmed on Jun. 20.

According to Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Defense Hanna Maliar, Russian forces have intensified the fighting in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, i.e. in the Lyman and Bakhmut directions. This may be done in order to distract Ukrainian forces from vulnerable parts of the Russian positions on the Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia axes (outside Makarivka, Velyka Novosilka or Robotyne).

Despite the fact that most of the currently available video recordings are from the Russian side, there are occasional videos captured by the AFU. For instance, on Jun. 20, a video was released showing an unsuccessful Russian attack on Ukrainian positions in the Luhansk region, involving tanks, resulting in the loss of at least one tank.

According to the Oryx project, confirmed losses of military equipment for both sides are approximately equal at the moment (although usually the attacking side suffers more losses).

Despite the fact that much of the damaged equipment is left in no-man’s-land which is constantly subjected to strikes and is difficult to reach, some of the vehicle casualties are evacuated. It is not known how, when estimating losses, they take account of equipment that can be repaired and made operable again, but it cannot be ruled out that some of the losses registered by the Oryx project are in fact not irreplaceable. Also, when estimating military vehicle casualties, it is important to take into account a lag in information availability, so the loss of any vehicle may become known only weeks or months later.