June 17

Sitrep for June 14-17, 2024 (as of 8:30 UTC+3 a.m.)

Western Assistance

On June 15, a Summit on Peace in Ukraine dedicated to the Russo-Ukrainian War was held in Switzerland, with representatives from over 90 countries in attendance. In the course of preparation for the summit, the number of topics discussed was reduced to three main humanitarian issues rather than military concerns. Eighty participating countries signed the final communiqué, although Iraq and Jordan later withdrew their signatures.

Among the ten points in Volodymyr Zelenskyy's peace formula, the summit communiqué included the following key points:

  • The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant must operate under the full sovereign control of Ukraine;
  • Access to seaports on the Black and Azov Seas must be restored;
  • All prisoners of war must be released, and kidnapped civilians must be returned to Ukraine.

During the summit, representatives from the participating countries reaffirmed their commitment to protecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states, including Ukraine. However, no issues directly related to combat operations were discussed.

President Zelenskyy called for the preparation and conduction of the next summit as soon as possible, possibly within a year. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba stated that the next summit on peace in Ukraine should aim to end the war. This goal appears incompatible with Zelenskyy's vision for military reasons, as it is clear the war will not end within a year. Kuleba also mentioned that Russia would be invited to the next summit. We do not see any contradiction with the Ukrainian rhetoric regarding the unacceptability of negotiations with Putin as a war criminal, since the statement refers to potential negotiations with representatives of the Russian Federation, and not specifically with him.

On the eve of the summit, Putin issued an ultimatum to Ukraine, proposing that it withdraw its troops from the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions and renounce its NATO membership ambitions. In return, Russia would supposedly be ready to cease hostilities and start peace negotiations. Putin also demanded that Western countries lift their sanctions against Russia. According to him, all these proposals have a limited time frame.

It is clear that, at the moment, any negotiations between Russia and Ukraine are impossible, as each side is making demands that the other cannot accept.

In the context of the peace summit, the New York Times published details of the negotiations between Ukraine and Russia that took place in the spring of 2022. The NYT obtained documents whose authenticity was confirmed. Among Russia's demands were a significant reduction in the size of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and limitations on their combat capabilities, Ukraine’s renouncement of joining military alliances, and other demands that were equally unacceptable to Ukraine. While the draft Istanbul communiqué had been discussed earlier, the complete version of the original text has now emerged. It is worth noting one important point: in 2022, when the details of the negotiations were kept secret, it was believed that the discovery of numerous extrajudicial executions of civilians in the Kyiv region ended the talks. However, from the draft communiqué, it is evident that they had already reached a deadlock before this—Russia was essentially proposing a Ukrainian capitulation rather than a peace agreement.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has refuted rumors that Germany is blocking the imposition of new sanctions against Russia. According to him, Germany supports sanctions that will not collapse its economy and is also taking measures to prevent the supply of sanctioned goods to Russia through third countries.

It has become known that Denmark has transferred one of its three remaining operational M109 self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine. These howitzers had been decommissioned, with some already sent to museums.

President Zelenskyy has also discussed the delivery of F-16 fighter aircraft to Ukraine with Prime Minister of Denmark Mette Frederiksen. According to current information, the aircraft will arrive in the near future; however, specific dates are still unknown.

Politico has published an article with comments from Western officials regarding the Ukrainian side's dissatisfaction with the pace of F-16 pilot training. The article notes that, in addition to training pilots, it is necessary to train maintainers, prepare ground infrastructure and establish a supply chain for spare parts. These officials expressed concern that the premature training of a large number of pilots could lead to a loss of skills if they do not get enough flying hours due to a lack of available aircraft.

The Netherlands has announced the delivery of a batch of artillery ammunition worth €350 million [$375 million] to Ukraine. Notably, these ammunitions are of the Soviet 152mm caliber. For security reasons, the quantity and delivery date are not disclosed.

Additionally, Czech Foreign Minister Jan LipavskĂ˝ stated that deliveries as part of the Czech initiative are already underway.

Speaking to voters, US presidential candidate Donald Trump claimed that requests for aid from Ukraine "never stop" and that every time President Zelenskyy visits the US, he leaves with 60 billion dollars. Trump also promised that if he is reelected in November he would immediately "settle the issue of Ukraine aid before even getting back into the White House." While it is unclear how he plans to end the war, such statements could negatively impact support for Ukraine.

Anonymous groups working for the Russian government have launched a disinformation campaign aimed at flooding newsrooms with fake news. The massive influx of disinformation overwhelms fact-checking departments and increases the spread of fake content. Additionally, a Kremlin-linked bot network published 120,000 posts on social media with fabricated quotes from celebrities supposedly calling for an end to support for Ukraine.

Fabricated quote from Elton John.

Frontline Situation Update

Russian forces are holding their positions at the Vovchansk aggregate plant. The enclave lies in a contested area, and according to Ukrainian military observer Kostiantyn Mashovets, Russian supply routes to this position are within the firing range of Ukrainian troops. The frontline in this neighborhood has remained static for some time, placing Russian troops in a precarious position—if the situation changes anytime soon, they will either have to surrender or come under Ukrainian fire while attempting to retreat.

The Azov and Bureviy Brigades of Ukraine’s National Guard Forces claim to have advanced two kilometers [1.2 mi] in the Serebryanske forestry in the Luhansk region, without providing visual confirmation.

The use of drones in combat operations is evolving. While we have previously seen drones ramming each other, new interceptor drones seem to be emerging. These drones track Russian reconnaissance UAVs measuring their cruising altitude. To intercept, they position themselves at a higher altitude and then dive onto the enemy UAVs. This new tactic was discussed in a post by the pro-Russian Khronika Operatora BpLA [UAV Operator’s Chronicle] Telegram channel, which offers advice on how to avoid having one’s drone intercepted. A recent video of a kamikaze drone ramming a Russian Orlan-10 reconnaissance UAV in the Kherson region showcases this new interception technique.

In this context, the development of unmanned early warning aircraft capable of detecting enemy drones and relaying information on their position appears increasingly crucial. While we are aware that such projects are underway, we have no information regarding their future deployment.

Ukraine has developed a new, smaller unmanned surface vessel analogous to the Magura V5. According to some sources, Magura USV costs $250 thousand, wich makes its use justified only when targeting far more expensive ships. The new STALKER 5.0 marine drone, costing four times less at €60,000 [$64,300], carries half as much explosives (150 kg), has a range of 600 km [373 mi] (compared to 800 km [497 mi] for the Magura V5) and is similarly equipped with the Starlink satellite communication system.

The Russian side still has very few ways to counter USVs. As a result, they are withdrawing ships from their ports and trying to protect the Crimean Bridge with barges and booms.

On July 14 in Shebekino, Belgorod region, the entrance to a five-story building collapsed. According to Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov, five people were killed and seven more were injured. As there is not enough data published in open sources for a thorough investigation, our team does not have any conclusions about the most likely cause of the collapse at this time. We do not exclude the possibility of a Ukrainian attack, as claimed by local authorities, or an accidental release of air ordnance by a Russian aircraft. Another version is that the building was hit by a Russian surface-to-air missile.

The administrator of the Ukrainian Telegram channel Supernova+ has been arrested on charges of distributing information about the positions of Ukrainian soldiers and artillery, as well as the movement of Western-supplied weapons. Notably, this Telegram channel often posted data sourced from open sources.

It is worth noting that, under Russian law, journalists can also face charges for publishing information from open sources. The definition in the legislation is vague, and any information regarding the state of the military can be considered classified.

Russian regions continue to increase bonus payments for signing contracts with the Russian Ministry of Defense. In Karachay-Cherkessia [Russia’s constituent republic], the payment has increased from 100,000 rubles [$1,130] to 1.3 million rubles [$14,500]. Vazhnyye Istorii [IStories, independent Russian investigative media outlet], citing data from the Federal State Statistics Service, noted that Karachay-Cherkessia ranked as the third poorest Russian region in 2023, with approximately 20.6% of the population earning incomes below the subsistence level. The average monthly income in the region is 23,500 rubles [$260], meaning that by signing a contract, one could receive the equivalent of an average salary for 4.5 years in a single payment.