July 3, 2023

Sitrep for Jun. 30-Jul. 3, 2023 (as of 11:00 a.m.)

Last week, information surfaced that Ukrainian forces managed to establish a bridgehead on the left bank of the Dnipro river, near the Antonivskyi bridge. Later reports suggested that Ukrainian troops had been dislodged from their positions, however, we have not come across any evidence supporting this claim.

On Jun. 30, Russian forces struck the Antonivskyi bridge with an Iskander ballistic missile, causing a section of the bridge near the left bank to collapse. It is worth noting that the bridge was already damaged, and unfit for use, as several of its spans had been blown up by Russian troops during their retreat from the Dnipro’s right bank. The likely target of the strike were Ukrainian soldiers, who were sheltering under the bridge, and using it as a defensive strongpoint.

Additionally, a video has emerged showing Russian soldiers approaching the left bank in a boat and attempting to disembark, when a drone releases several grenades on them. The remaining troops are subsequently engaged by approaching Ukrainian forces, leading to the death of at least two Russian soldiers.

After that, an appeal was published by the Russian coast guard company commander, who, referencing the aforementioned video, complained that the lack of proper boats leads to losses among Russian soldiers and asked for help with supplies.

Strikes on Ukrainian and Russian Territory

On Jun. 30, the RuAF hit the village of Serhiivka in the Donetsk region. As a result of a strike on a school, a primary school teacher and an accountant were killed, and the building was destroyed.

On Jul. 2, as a result of a RuAF strike on Kherson, four people were injured.

The Air Force of the AFU reports that on the night of Jul. 3, 13 out of 17 Shahed loitering munitions targeting Ukrainian cities were shot down.

Ukrainian Armed Forces General Serhiy Nayev called on Sumy region border residents to evacuate as the region is under constant attack from artillery, mortars, and MLRS, making it  unsafe to live there. VGTRK [All-Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company] correspondent Alexander Sladkov, as well as some other pro-Kremlin milbloggers, somehow arrived at the conclusion that Ukrainian authorities have allegedly been preparing to withdraw from Sumy and Kharkiv.

The TASS [Russian state-owned news agency] claims that Ukrainian forces shelled Tokmak, Zaporizhzhia region, on Jul. 1, resulting in several people killed and wounded (On Jul. 2, RIA Novosti [Russian state-owned news agency] published a report from the shelled site).

A powerful munition exploded in the town of Primorsko-Akhtarsk, Krasnodar region, Russia, on Jul. 2, creating a big crater. This town was previously mentioned as one of the locations where Iranian loitering munitions were based. It is possible that the strike was targeting the base of these drones.

New higher resolution satellite pictures of what is presumed to be a military camp in Belarus have been made available. Journalists have counted 298 M-30 tents, each of which can accommodate about 30 individuals. Considering that some of those tents would be used for housekeeping needs, the capacity of the camp is estimated to be about 8,000 people.

It is doubtful that such a large number of Wagner Group mercenaries would refuse to sign a contract with the Russian MoD and follow Yevgeny Prigozhin [owner of the Wagner Group] to Belarus. It is also not entirely clear from what sources they would be funded, so it is likely that the camp might be used for training either mobilized Russian soldiers or Belarusian territorial forces.

Prigozhin dissolved the Patriot media holding, including the “troll factory”, instructing employees to delete everything possible so that  media assets "do not fall into anyone else's hands."

The Russian Ministry of Defense terminated its contract with the Concord catering holding company owned by Prigozhin, whilst employees were dismissed without severance pay. It is currently unknown who will be responsible for providing food for Russian soldiers (as well as Moscow schoolchildren).

Federal media outlets have begun to expose their own myths about the high effectiveness of the Wagner Group. Channel One [Russian state-owned TV channel] compares the capture of the much larger area of Mariupol by naval infantry, motorized infantry, and Chechen forces in just 41 days with the smaller town of Bakhmut, which the Wagner Group fought for over 220 days.

It should be noted that this is an incorrect comparison because Mariupol was under a total blockade, with about 8,000 soldiers defending it without reinforcements and supplies, while Bakhmut was defended by tens of thousands of troops who had a steady supply.

The signage has been removed from the Wagner Group Center building in Saint Petersburg, allegedly due to a move to a more convenient location. Some Telegram channels associated with the group have posted messages indicating that the recruitment of mercenaries had been suspended for a month, but according to the Grey Zone Telegram channel connected to the Wagner Group, recruitment continues for all military specialties.

Six months have passed since the rocket strike on the location of Russian soldiers in Makiivka, where over 150 men were killed. The wife of one of the killed draftees posted a photo of the memorial erected near the site of the strike.

The Washington Post reports that in June, CIA Director William J. Burns secretly visited Kyiv, where he met with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Ukraine’s top intelligence officials. According to people familiar with the visit, Ukrainian officials revealed an ambitious strategy to retake Russian-occupied territory during the offensive and open cease-fire negotiations with Moscow. Military planners in Kyiv have relayed to Burns their aim to retake substantial territory by the fall, move artillery and missile systems near the boundary line of Crimea, jeopardizing the facilities located there, and then open negotiations with Moscow.

Commenting on this news, Zelenskyy said that Ukraine would be ready for negotiations with Russia only after the Ukrainian Armed Forces reached the borders of 1991.

Prime Minister of Spain Pedro Sánchez has arrived in Kyiv on an official visit. As previously announced by Defense Minister Margarita Robles, Spain will send four Leopard tanks, 20 APCs (likely M113), and a field hospital to Ukraine.

Slovak company Konštrukta Defence has signed a memorandum of cooperation with Ukraine to produce a new self-propelled howitzer. Military analysts suggest that it will be based on the Slovak prototype of the EVA wheeled self-propelled howitzers and the Ukrainian-developed 22S2 Bohdana 155mm wheeled self-propelled howitzer. There is a high likelihood that the new howitzer will be mounted on the Tatra 815-7 chassis, which is used by the Slovaks and to which the Bohdana is being transferred.

Germany and Poland have failed to reach an agreement on the maintenance of Leopard tanks transferred to Kyiv. According to Der Spiegel, citing sources, the main reason for this failure would be a difference in cost estimation. The Polish Armaments Group (PGZ) demands over 100,000 euros for the initial diagnostics of a tank, while in Germany it would only cost 12,000 euros, or almost one-tenth of the cost. Additionally, PGZ is unwilling to provide any repair guarantees. The opening of the Polish repair plant, which was scheduled for a month ago, has been delayed due to ongoing negotiations.