Russo-Ukraine War - 20 June 2022 - Day 117
On 24 February 2022, Ukraine was suddenly and deliberately attacked by land, naval and air forces of Russia, igniting the largest European war since the Great Patriotic War. Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a "special military operation" (SVO - spetsialnaya voennaya operatsiya) in Ukraine in response to the appeal of the leaders of the "Donbass republics" for help. That attack is a blatant violation of the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine. Putin stressed that Moscow's goal is the demilitarization and denazification of the country. The military buildup in preceeding months makes it obvious that the unprovoked and dastardly Russian attack was deliberately planned long in advance. During the intervening time, the Russian government had deliberately sought to deceive the world by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.
"To initiate a war of aggression... is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." [Judgment of the International Military Tribunal]
One hundred and seventeenth day of the heroic opposition of the Ukrainian nation to the Russian military invasion continues.
British forces must prepare “to fight in Europe once again,” said the new chief of the General Staff, General Patrick Sanders. In a letter to his charges, Sanders, whose first day in the new role was June 13, claimed that “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine” underlined his troops’ “core purpose to protect the UK by being ready to fight and win wars on land.” The general wrote “There is now a burning imperative to forge an Army capable of fighting alongside our allies and defeating Russia in battle”. He stressed that he is taking over his new responsibilities during a “new era of insecurity.” He also claimed to be the first chief of the General Staff since 1941 “to take command of the Army in the shadow of a land war in Europe involving a continental power.” Sanders stated “We are the generation that must prepare the Army to fight in Europe once again”.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the opening of the ISPI Global Policy Forum (Milan, Italy) stated "Italy, you do not support the offensive of the Ukrainian army, you support the defense capabilities of our state. Wherever we attack is our land. We just want to drive the Russian army out of our independent land. We do not cross borders, we do not kill civilians, citizens of the Russian Federation, despite their position on this war."
The UK Ministry of Defence reported that Russian ground and tactical air operations remained focussed on the central Donbas sector over the weekend. In the conflict to date, Russia’s air force has underperformed. Its failure to consistently deliver air power is likely one of the most important factors behind Russia’s very limited campaign success. It cannot gain full air superiority and has operated in a risk-adverse style, rarely penetrating deep behind Ukrainian lines. Some of the underlying causes of its difficulties echo those of Russian Ground Forces. For years, much of Russia’s air combat training has highly likely been heavily scripted and designed to impress senior officials, rather than to develop dynamic initiative amongst air crews. While Russia has an impressive roster of relatively modern and capable combat jets, the air force has also almost certainly failed to develop the institutional culture and skill-sets required for its personnel to meet Russia’s aspiration of delivering a more Western-style modern air campaign. This has led to a greater than planned weight of effort falling to ground troops, who are becoming exhausted; and on advanced cruise missiles, stocks of which are likely running low.
"In Severodonetsk, the fighting is already taking place in the industrial zone. The Ukrainian troops only control the area of the Azot plant," Hajdaj wrote in a communication on the Telegram website. He described the situation at the front in the Luhansk region as "extremely difficult". The Russian troops, having built up reserves, "are launching a large-scale offensive," he said. All places not occupied by the Russian army are under fire. "Lisiczansk is under massive fire all day, so far it is not possible to determine the number of victims", all localities in the area of the Lisiczansk-Bakhmut route are constantly being shot at - Hajdaj wrote. He also assured that the Ukrainian troops had not been encircled by the enemy. Hajdaj informed that the Ukrainian army had lost control of the village of Metiolkine, located southeast of Severodonetsk. Russian troops attacked the industrial zone of the city and two towns located a few kilometers from Severodonetsk: Toszkiwka and Ustyniwka.
"The fights in the Swiewierodonetsk region, which are now taking place, can be called decisive without exaggeration. The enemy's plans, according to the task assigned by their authorities, are to reach the borders of the Luhansk region roughly by June 26. So now the Russian army has actually deployed all its forces and resources to storm the surrounding towns," said Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malar. "- Our troops are doing everything possible to maintain our territory and not allow the surroundings, but we must understand that the enemy has an advantage in weapons, so the situation is extremely difficult" said the head of the Ministry of Defense. Previously, the date June 22 appeared in the Ukrainian media as the alleged date set by the Kremlin for the capture of Severodonetsk and the occupation of the entire Luhansk region. However, there were also other dates.
The Russians are attacking more and more in the eastern part of Ukraine, and the Donbass is gradually being taken over by the occupant. German political scientist prof. Carlo Masala believes that although the situation is extremely difficult and the Ukrainians are running out of ammunition, the eastern part of the country has not yet been written off. "But it must be admitted that it looks very bad. You should not have any illusions about it" the expert assesses.
"Eastern Ukraine is not yet lost. However, it must be admitted that it looks very bad. There should be no illusions about this. But the East as such is not yet lost. There are three things that are important. First of all: How soon will the heavy artillery systems from the West reach Ukraine and how will they be used by the Ukrainians? This will not change the situation, but may help to slow down Russia's progress, which is already very slim. Let's look at how long the struggle for Severodonetsk was fought.
"The second issue is whether the Ukrainians will get their old 152mm ammunition, which is what their own Soviet-type artillery was firing. Because the Ukrainians are running out of ammunition. Romania has announced that it will build a weapons factory that will produce 152mm ammunition. We will see how soon this will happen.
"And thirdly, it cannot be ruled out that in the event of a quick occupation of the entire Donbas, Ukraine will switch to guerrilla tactics. This means that the fighting between the armies will cease, but the Ukrainian army will try to face the Russians in the cities, in the fights between houses and in the streets.
"The more people will feel this war personally in gas bills, in food prices, in gasoline prices, the more public support for Ukraine may weaken. Putin is speculating on this because it could make some countries break out and say: now we must finally negotiate. Ukrainians have to accept the fact that their territory has been lost, and so on."
The pilot of the Russian Su-25 attack aircraft, shot down on 18 June 2022 by Ukrainian troops, managed to catapult and survived. He was immediately captured and taken prisoner. A few days later it turned out that it was Major Andrei Fedorchukov. During the interrogation, he was to confess that he was a mercenary for the Wagner Group. "The major is counting on being released as part of the exchange of prisoners, understanding that as a mercenary he may not be qualified for it. In Ukraine, there is a special approach to vagnerists, because their hands are stained with blood, they are specialists in killing civilians" - emphasized Yuri Butusov, a well-known Ukrainian military expert and editor-in-chief of censor.net. Butusov reported that the soldiers of the 72nd Mechanized Brigade shot down a Russian Su-25 attack aircraft using the "antiquated Soviet Igla surface-to-air missile system " near Svitlodarsk in the Donetsk region.
General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported that due to significant losses, the personnel of individual units of the occupying forces have a very low level of morale and were looking for opportunities to avoid further participation in hostilities. Thus, according to available information, this is especially common among the personnel of the 1st Army Corps of the Russian occupation forces in the divisions which are deduced on restoration of combat capability from the areas of Kherson, Nikolaev and Popasnaya.
Russians continue to launch missile and air strikes on military and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine. In the Volyn, Polissya and Seversky directions without significant changes. In the latter, the Russians fired on civilian infrastructure in the border areas of Sumy region. In the Kharkiv direction, the enemy, in order to identify weaknesses in the defense of Ukrainian troops, tried unsuccessfully to conduct reconnaissance by fighting near Rtyshchivka. In addition, shelling of civilian infrastructure was recorded in the areas of the settlements of Uda, Ukrainka, Korobochkine, Mykhailivka and Petrivka.
In the Slavic direction, the Russians focused main efforts on maintaining its positions. They carried out artillery shelling in the areas of the settlements of Dibrivne, Hrushuvakha, Velyka Komyshuvakha, Krasnopillya and Dolyna. In the area of the settlement of Bogorodichne Ukrainian defenders successfully repulsed the Russians assault. The Russians did not take active action in the Kramatorsk direction.
In the Severodonetsk direction, the occupiers continue to fire from artillery and rocket-propelled grenade launchers at units of Ukrainian troops. Inflicted air strikes on civilian infrastructure in the settlements of Ustynivka and Lysychansk. Artillery shelling of civilian infrastructure was recorded near Lysychansk, Hirsky and Ustynivka. Fighting continues for control of the city of Severodonetsk. In addition, Ukrainian soldiers thwarted attempts to storm the Russians in the areas of Myrna Dolyna and Bila Hora.
In the Bakhmut direction, under cover of artillery attacks, around the settlement of Nikolaevka the sabotage and reconnaissance group of the Russians tried to operate. As a result of the fire received from Ukrainian soldiers, she retreated. Later, the Russians attempted an assault, but was unsuccessful. In addition, the occupiers fired on civilian infrastructure in the settlements of Belogorovka, Berestov, Yakovlevka, Pokrovske. They launched air strikes near Maloryazantsevo and Belogorivka. In the Avdiivsky, Kurakhivsky, Novopavlovsky and Zaporizhzhya directions, the Russians did not take active action. They fired on civilian infrastructure near Kamianka, Huliaipil, Avdiivka, Vuhledar, Malynivka and Zaliznychny. They struck air strikes on the settlements of Mali Shcherbaki, Marinka, Vuhledar, Kostiantynivka and Novomykhailivka. In the South Bug direction, in order to restrain the actions of Ukrainian units, the Russians fired artillery and mortars at the areas of Chervonyi Yar, Kalinovka, Topolin and Zeleny Gai.
Minister for Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories Iryna Vereshchuk urges residents of the temporarily occupied territory of the Kherson region to leave the region to facilitate deoccupation. Vereshchuk stressed that the residents of Kherson region, especially those with children, should not give up the opportunities for departure provided by the occupiers, because it will speed up the deoccupation of the region by the Ukrainian army.
"Please leave, because our army will definitely deoccupy these lands. Our will to do so is unshakable. And it will be very, very difficult then to open a humanitarian corridor when there are children. It was difficult in Mariupol, and in the Kherson region it will be even harder. Because the enemy learns, becomes even more cynical, uses a human shield, especially children… Believe me, deoccupation will be very fast. There will definitely be a counteroffensive , "Vereshchuk stressed.
The official representative of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, Lieutenant-General Igor Konashenkov , during a briefing spoke about the progress of the special operation of the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine. According to him, over the past night, a high-precision Onyx missile attacked the Artsyz airfield in the Odessa region: the Bayraktar TB2 drone control station and two unmanned vehicles of this complex were destroyed.
In the Donetsk direction, 11 platoons of Grad multiple launch rocket systems and 12 artillery platoons of the Armed Forces of Ukraine at firing positions were hit during the day, two 155-mm M777 howitzers were destroyed along with artillery crews. Russian aviation hit 47 areas of concentration of manpower and equipment. The launcher of the Buk-M1 air defense system was destroyed, as well as the illumination and surveillance locator of the S-300 air defense system.
Artillerymen and missilemen hit 48 areas of concentration of manpower and military equipment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, 25 command posts, as well as 59 artillery units in firing positions. As a result of air strikes, missile forces and artillery, 450 Ukrainian soldiers, 13 tanks and other armored combat vehicles, as well as 16 special vehicles were destroyed. Russian air defense systems managed to shoot down a MiG-29 aircraft of the Ukrainian Air Force, as well as nine Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles.
Since the beginning of the special operation, the Russian military has destroyed 3,696 Ukrainian tanks and other armored combat vehicles, 576 MLRS combat vehicles, 2,055 field artillery pieces and mortars, 3,731 units of special military vehicles of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
According to him, in a month of fighting, the 14th mechanized brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine alone lost more than 2,100 soldiers killed and wounded. 800 people who were supposed to replenish the ranks of the brigade refused to go to the combat area, accusing the officers of incompetence, bribery and nepotism in the payment of monetary allowances. In addition, 100 intelligence officers were sent to Kremenchug for investigation due to mass disobedience to command, and part of the command staff of the 30th mechanized brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine withdrew from command of their units and does not want to take part in combat missions. The situation reached the point that in most units of the brigade there was not a single officer left.
Earlier, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said that his country is ready to fight with shovels.