June 7

Sitrep for June 3-7, 2024 (as of 9 a.m. UTC+3)

Western Assistance

Politico reports that the completion of F-16 training for Ukrainian pilots in the United States has been postponed until the end of September. The reasons for the delay have not been disclosed, but it is assumed that funding issues related to the prolonged approval of the assistance bill for Ukraine might be a factor. It appears as though the first pilots to complete their retraining on the F-16 fighter aircraft will be the eight currently training in Denmark.

Previously, we assumed that only 12 pilots were sent to the United States for training, since the Ukrainian Air Force cannot afford to lose a significant part of its airmen for such an extended period. However, as follows from the above-mentioned article, Ukraine was ready to send up to 30 pilots, but the limitation was on the US side: there are only 12 available spots at the air base in Tucson, Arizona. This shortage of school seats is due to the need to continue fulfilling F-16 training contracts with other countries.

The facility in Denmark, where eight Ukrainian pilots are currently completing their training, "is set to close next year and will no longer participate in the training, as Denmark’s Air Force transitions to the stealthy F-35." These are just some of the reasons why the arrival of military aid to Ukraine continues to be delayed.

As far as we know, the ammunition purchased for Ukraine as part of the Czech initiative is likely to be delivered in the very near future. At the end of May, we reported that projectiles would begin to arrive in June, while other observers gave even more pessimistic outlooks . It is worth noting that the initial expectations about deliveries beginning in April were not fulfilled.

During Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit to France, President Emmanuel Macron announced the unexpected delivery of Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets by the end of the year, with the exact number of aircraft still unspecified. Ukrainian pilots are expected to begin training on June 7, with the retraining estimated to take approximately six months. The language of instruction is still unknown. A key advantage of the Mirage 2000 family of aircraft for the Armed Forces of Ukraine is its compatibility with SCALP-EG/Storm Shadow missiles and AASM Hammer glide bombs. In contrast, Soviet-era fighter jets can only use these weapons with limited functionality. According to Macron, the aircraft provided are intended to defend Ukraine’s airspace. While all modern Western fighter jets are multirole, conflicting information leaves it unclear whether these aircraft will indeed be compatible with the aforementioned air-to-ground munition.

Furthermore, France has announced it will train and equip a 4,500-strong Ukrainian brigade.

In addition to military aid, Le Monde reports that France will provide Ukraine with €650 million [$702 million] to help restore its critical infrastructure. This aid is particularly significant in light of a Financial Times article indicating that just over half of Ukraine’s power-generating capacity has been destroyed, which could adversely affect the country’s population during the upcoming winter season.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Energy has criticized the Financial Times article, claiming that the information presented was inaccurate and that reports of this kind "are manipulative and promote the enemy’s narrative." While we cannot fully evaluate the state of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, we welcome any additional support for the country’s critical infrastructure and view this aid package as undeniably positive news.

Ukraine will receive an additional €300 million [$324 million] from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to restore energy infrastructure and decentralize energy-generating capacities. It is worth noting that Russia previously struck the Dobrotvirska Thermal Power Plant, which connects the Ukrainian power grid to Europe.

Japan’s Ministry of Defense and the country’s Self-Defense Forces have supplied Ukraine with 101 units of equipment, including various types of unarmored tracked and wheeled vehicles, as well as both military and civilian off-road vehicles.

We have managed to clarify why some media outlets, citing military analysts, recently reported that the Russian Armed Forces were recruiting 30,000 people per month. It turns out that at that time, Michael Kofman and Dara Massicot, Senior Fellows at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, as well as Rob Lee, Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, relied on estimates from sources in 2023. However, this year, they estimate the recruitment does not exceed 20,000 to 25,000 people per month. Our team believes the number to be lower still. We estimate that in 2024, the RuAF is able to recruit about 10,000 to 15,000 people monthly. Soon, we plan to discuss the arguments of our team and Western military analysts in detail and possibly adjust our estimates. For now, we continue to believe that the lack of significant recruitment of volunteer fighters is clearly indicated by the current situation on the frontline. Russian forces have still not made significant advances on the Kharkiv axis or exploited AFU vulnerabilities on other sections of the frontline for offensive operations.

Overnight on June 6, Ukrainian UAVs launched an attack on an oil refinery in Novoshakhtinsk, Rostov region. Images show the site was equipped with a mesh structure intended to shield the rectification column from drone strikes, yet it proved ineffective in preventing a fire. This failure may have been due to its proximity to the object it was meant to safeguard.

According to analysts from the Crimean Wind Telegram channel who study satellite images, all Russian ships and submarines have been relocated from the port of Novorossiysk to the Kerch Strait. It is probable that they have been redeployed to the Azov Sea, which offers enhanced protection against Ukrainian maritime surface drones compared to the Novorossiysk Bay.

On June 3, a man from the Donbas region was arrested in a hotel close to the Charles de Gaulle Airport in France. Holding dual Russian and Ukrainian citizenships, he had been involved in hostilities on the Russian side for two years. While in his hotel room, he was assembling an improvised explosive device when it detonated, resulting in severe burns. In addition to bomb components, French police discovered counterfeit documents in his possession.

The following day, the Investigative Committee of Russia reported the arrest of a French citizen named Laurent Vinatier in Moscow. Vinatier, a political scientist specializing in post-Soviet countries and the Chechen conflict, is suspected of breaching Russian legislation on "Foreign agents." Specifically, while gathering information on military and military-technical activities within the Russian Federation, he allegedly neglected to submit the necessary paperwork for inclusion in the "Foreign Agent Register," constituting a criminal offense under Russian law.

We believe that Vinatier’s arrest was a reaction by the Russian Federation to the detention of a Russian national in France, indirectly suggesting that the would-be bomber is connected to Russian intelligence.

In the fall of 2023, Dmitry Sh., a mobilized soldier wanted in connection with a criminal case for going AWOL, was detained in the Moscow region. In 2024, investigators in Rostov dropped the criminal case, as it was impossible to prosecute him. Dmitry had been mobilized in 2022 by "decree of the head of the DPR," not in accordance with Russian law, and he had not signed a contract with the Ministry of Defense. The legal status of such mobilized soldiers remains unresolved; they have no legal grounds to discharge from military service. However, at present, this legal ambiguity gives AWOL soldiers mobilized from the "DPR" and "LPR" a chance to avoid prosecution.

Speaking at the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum, Putin stated the losses of the Russian and Ukrainian armies. It should be emphasized that the figures he cited are unfounded, do not correspond to reality and are not suitable for analysis.

Also at SPIEF, Putin announced that in response to Ukraine being allowed to use Western weapons for strikes on Russian territory, Russia plans to start supplying weapons "to regions of the world where sensitive strikes will be made against the facilities of countries that are doing this to Russia." It is unclear to us what weapons Russia could supply to other countries without compromising its own army's combat capability. Notably, conflicts in other regions, such as the Israel-Hamas war, distract Western public attention from the war in Ukraine, reduce aid and delay its delivery, thus aiding Putin.