Ukraine War, 25, 26, 27 and 28 June 2022

Good morning everybody!

After a short break, back to summarising what happened in Ukraine of the last four days.

AIR/MISSILE WAR

A Russian Su-25 was shot down near Sloviansk, on 24 June, and another claimed shot down a day later. This morning, there are reports that the next VKS Su-25 hit the power lines in the Belgorod area, killing its pilot.

Missile War….On 24 June, Ukrainians hit the HQ of the 20th CAA and early on 25 June, they hit an ammunition depot in Svatovo, in Luhansk Oblast (setting it on fire). Apparently, both by M142 HIMARS and, apparently, that action then ‘provoked’ the Russians to — on the following morning — strike the Kyiv area by six Tu-22s, then by two Su-34s, and then by four additional Tu-22s, around 19.00hrs. All of jets approached via the Belarusian airspace, and released their missiles before entering Ukrainian airspace. Primary target was the Artyom Works in downtown Kyiv: the headquarters of the company designing and manufacturing guided missiles (for example: Stugna-P anti-tank guided missiles). Tragically, though as could be expected considering the age and primitive guidance systems of Kh-22s deployed, most of missiles have hit residential buildings 600–800 metres short or around the target, killing and wounding scores. It is possible that 1 or 2 of Kh-59s released by Su-34s have hit the Artyom Works, though.

The following video is providing a nice reconstruction of this action, supported by intercepted communications of VKS crews.

On 26 June, Ukrainians claimed the destruction of a Russian convoy underway along the Maryansk-Berisav road, in Kherson Oblast, and a day later they hit the Zmyni Island with 12 rockets knocking out, between others, another Pantsyr SAM-system.

Apparently, it was all of this that prompted the GRU (Russian military intelligence) to declare a crowded shopping mal in Kremenchuk for ‘target’: this was hit by two Kh-22s launched from a Tu-22M-3 from Shaikovka AB (Kaluga Oblast, 200km south-west of Moscow), early on 27 June, killing dozens (AFAIK, the number of fatalities is still not known: latest update I know about is for 18 dead, 59 injured, and 36 missing).

A screen-grab from a video released by the Ukrainian MOD, shown a Kh-22 in a terminal dive on Kremenchuk, on the morning of 27 June.

….in reaction to which Washington decided to provide NASAMS SAMs to Ukraine.

The Keystone Cops then came up to explain they have hit a hangar that contained ammunition and armour supplied from the NATO, while the Smoker first explained Russia has nothing to do with this attack, and then explained it for a mistake…then — as usually when they screw up this much — the Keystone Cops corrected themselves and said they were targeting the factory ‘behind’ the mall… the same old story from Syria of 2015–2019, all over again…

Yesterday, on 28 June, Ukrainians deployed HIMARS to hit a Russian base in Perevalsk, in Luhansk Oblast (about 50km from the frontline), to re-strike Zmyini Island, and — early this morning — to strike an unknown target in Belgorod and an air base outside Kursk, in Russia (probably using some of their modified Tupolev Tu-141 UAVs). The Russians ‘retaliated’ by launching a two-waves strike on Mykolaiv and Ochakov, yesterday. The first, at 04.00hrs in the morning, resulted in three missile strikes at the homebase of the 79th Airborne Assault Brigade. This was empty and thus no casualties were reported. Subsequent strikes brought the number of Kh-22 released to a total of 11, some of which were claimed as shot down. At least one Kh-22 hit the naval base in Ochakov, while another hit a stadium in Mykolaiv. The same stadium was then attacked by another missile in the afternoon. Ukrainians lost at least three civilians killed (including a 6-years-old girl) and six wounded.

This morning, between 6 and 8 Kh-22s have hit the Mykolaiv area. At least one of them hit an apartment building. Casualties have been reported, but details are not yet known.

BATTLE OF DONBASS

Kharkiv….The last week, the Russians pushed south in the area of Lyptsi and reached Ruski Tyshky, from where their artillery can reach Kharkiv again. Ever since, they’re regularly shelling northern outskirts of the city: other areas are repeatedly hit by heavier/longer-ranged weapons. Between others, as result of their strikes, the Korotich area west of city is without electrical power since yesterday evening. On the frontline… subsequently, the Russians have launched several attacks south of Kozacha Lopan, but especially on Ternova and Rubizhne. Meanwhile it appears they have secured Ternova and reached northern outskirts of Rubizhne. That said, all action there is run by small forces (depleted companies), both sides are exhausted, and it’s obvious this is a ‘side-show’ in comparison to what’s going on in the east.

Sloviansk…the Russians continue attacking the frontline between Korulka, Dolyna and Bohorodichne — still without any major success except for, possibly, establishing themselves in the northern fringes of the latter.

Lysychansk…. Generally, the Russians have established themselves in control over the entire northern bank of the Siversky Donets, and are plastering all of Lysychansk with a continuous artillery barrage. By now, they have captured Bila Hora and Topolivka, and are pushing on Maloryzantseve and Verkhnokamyanka. With other words: they are attempting to exploit the momentum gained by Ukrainian withdrawal from Severodonetsk. The big question of the last few days was: what are Ukrainians going to do as next?

At first, it appeared that a withdrawal from Lysychansk would be imminent: after all, videos surfaced of several columns of T-64s and mechanised infantry rolling in direction of Bakhmut, and it appeared as if elements of the 3rd and 17th Tank, and the survivors of the 24th and 57th Mech would have been evacuated from this area. Several of columns are known to have been hit by the Russian artillery fire, too, and there were casualties. Meanwhile, it’s clear that at least the 24th and 57th were much too depleted to continue fighting and they had to be replaced by fresh units; but, the 17th is still around.

In more detail: opposite to the the Bila Hora area, Ukrainians have entrenched in the old chemical plant: Russians were heavily shelling the area for days already, but so far their assaults have failed (well, at least as of the last night). What’s more problematic is the Russian advance on Maloryzantseve, which is threatening to block the T1302 west of Lysychansk. Further south, the Russians are assaulting from Vovcharyvka into the hilly area east of Verknokamyanka (i.e. the old refinery there), which is well-fortified. What is particularly unpleasant for Ukrainians is the fact that the Russians have crossed the T1302 north of Berestove and attacked Sprine. Although Ukrainians reported them as repelled there, there is meanwhile no doubt that the Russians are now assaulting Verkhnokamyanka from the south, too.

An Ukrainian Krab self-propelled howitzer calibre 155mm in action in the Donbass.

Overall, to me it appears as if the Russians might any time now break through in direction of Bilohorivka, and/or Zolotarivka, in turn prompting a quick withdrawal of the Lysychansk garrison. Why that? Because, just like in Severodonetsk before, the problem is not holding the town, but keeping the garrison supplied. The latter is impossible to do if communications to it are cut off. Moreover, just like Severdonetsk, Ukrainians are keen to save the mass of their combat-experienced troops and — the way they are running this operation — most of their heavy equipment, too.

Bakhmut… Yesterday, Ukrainians claimed to have recovered Klynove, east of Bakhmut, and then attacked towards Ilovaisk. South of that area, Wagner PMC is assaulting the Vuhlehirska power plant (held by elements of the 30th Mech) from east and south, plus Smyhirja and Kodema west of it.

An Ukrainian Panzerhaubitze-2000 in action in Donbass.

SOUTH

Zaporizhzhya….On 24 June, the 54th Mech attacked south of Vuhledar — with quite some success: it pushed the Russians (2–3 weak BTGs of the 150th MRD) at least 10km towards south, liberating at least two villages in the process. Elsewhere, there was only little action, primarily aiming to improve local positions. However, in the Russian back, Ukrainian guerrilla is running amok in the Melitopol area: it’s attacking Russian officials and troops, apparently some of trains hauling supplies, too.

NOTE: yes, I know, there are rumours about Ukrainians not only liberating Polohy, but also reaching Snihurivka, on the Tokmacka River, east of Tokmak (town). However, there’s no evidence for this.

A Russian BTR-82 captured somewhere in the south. Perhaps somebody can identify the white insignia stencilled on it?

Kherson…generally, Ukrainians remain zip-lip about what’s going on there. Few days ago, somebody reported them being only five kilometres outside Kherson, but I think that was ‘just reconnaissance in force’. That said, the Russian claims about some sort of counteroffensive can only be described as fantasy: both Kiselivka and Stanislav remain in Ukrainian hands, and Ukrainian guerrilla is vividly active inside Kherson (city). Finally, in the northern Kherson Oblast, the Ukrainian 60th Mech liberated two villages and pushed the Russians back to Zolota Balka.

An Ukrainian T-64 captured by the Wagner PMC: area unknown.

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Tom Cooper

Tom Cooper

From Austria; specialised in analysis of contemporary warfare; working as author, illustrator, and book-series-editor for Helion & Co.