Good morning, Kyiv Post readers. Here’s your Morning Memo for June 5 to get you up to speed on events in Ukraine:
· Top Headlines
· Military Situation Report (Day 467)
· President Zelensky’s Message of the Day
· FYI Kyiv Locals
Fighting in Russia’s Belgorod oblast and along the Ukraine/Russia border intensified. This included cross-border shelling that killed two Ukrainian civilians, incursions by anti-Putin units and their capture of Russian POWs, and local residents fleeing. Presidential advisor Mykhaylo Podolyak said the situation in the border areas "should be viewed as the future of Russia.”
NEW: Elements of the all-Russian pro-Ukrainian Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK) and Freedom of Russia Legion (LSR) conducted another limited raid into #Belgorod Oblast, #Russia on June 4 and are reportedly continuing to operate in a Russian border settlement. https://t.co/6B3fP29uwG pic.twitter.com/ojG06yyO5L— ISW (@TheStudyofWar) June 5, 2023
20 Russian POWs captured in Belgorod by the anti-Putin Russian Volunteer Corps and the Freedom Legion were offered for exchange, but the Russian region’s governor failed to arrive at a planned swap. The prisoners were handed over to Ukrainian military authorities.
Prior to the NATO Summit in July, it is time for “specific steps” for Ukraine’s NATO membership, Ukrainian Ambassador to the US Oksana Markarova told Face the Nation. “[I]t’s time for everyone to realize that it’s good versus evil, and we need to be members of NATO, as much as NATO needs Ukraine also because we have a lot to add to NATO,” she said.
Forty-four percent of more than 1,000 Kyiv bomb shelters yesterday inspected by national and local authorities were either locked or not ready for use. Kyiv Mayor Vitalii Klitschko reported 1,000 residents’ complaints on the first day of feedback about the condition of local bomb shelters.
There will be two Ukrainian women – Elina Svitolina and Lesia Tsurenko - in the quarterfinals of the French Open for the first time. Svitolina will play world number two ranked player Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka. Sabalenka has boycotted her press conferences at the tournament because she feels “unsafe” after being asked why she does not condemn the war on Ukraine.
Congratulations to our ambassador, @ElinaSvitolina, on making it to the #RolandGarros quarterfinals! What an incredible show of prowess and determination!— UNITED24 (@U24_gov_ua) June 4, 2023
Photo by Julian Finney / Getty Images pic.twitter.com/8pxfeF0p6V
Moscow’s Patriarch Kirill praised President Vladimir Putin for handing Russia’s most famous icon from a museum to the Orthodox Church, as the country “faces huge enemy forces.” The Kremlin has counted on the Church to gather support for its war on Ukraine. “Such events do not happen without direct divine intervention,” said the 76-year-old church leader, who is under UK and Canadian sanctions and is a former agent.
“We believe that Ukraine’s counteroffensive will be successful,” White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on CNN. According to Sullivan, the US wants Ukraine to make as much progress as possible on the battlefield in order to eventually have the strongest position in negotiations.
Russians are becoming more negative as a result of increasing Russian casualties, but are not necessarily blaming their government, according to an analysis of social media, WhatsApp threads and related sources by an independent monitoring firm.
Military Situation Report
Three civilians, including a 2-year-old girl, were killed and 22 were injured as a result of Russian shelling or missiles strikes across the Sumy, Dnipro and Kharkiv regions.
Wagner Group units withdrawing from Bakhmut were attacked by regular Russian army forces, according to Wagner owner Yevgeniy Prigozhin. Wagner also took prisoner and beat the commander of the 72nd Brigade, with whom they had been sharing positions.
PMC Wagner detained and interrogated no other but the commander of the 72nd Brigade, Roman Venevitin. Wagner and the 72nd Brigade shared positions in Bakhmut.— Dmitri (@wartranslated) June 4, 2023
They detained the man, beat him, broke his nose, and forced to record a video admitting to firing at a car of PMC… pic.twitter.com/BY3PhEV60q
In Russian-occupied Crimea, cable TV broadcasts were hacked into by a video by Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense informing that Ukraine would not announce the start of the counteroffensive.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov rejected Moscow’s claims of having fully captured Bakhmut. “We use Bakhmut as a stronghold to reduce their [Russia’s] offensive capability. We are [still] controlling this territory,” Reznikov told CNN. In his words, Russia has suffered over 60,000 casualties over the past eight months.
Ukraine executed a drone attack on military assets in Russian-occupied Crimea. A Ukrainian military spokesperson called it “the season of the cotton blooms” in references to explosions.
Russia claimed that Ukraine “launched a large-scale offensive in five sectors of the front in the South Donetsk direction” involving several battalions of mechanized infantry and tanks. There has been no independent confirmation.
The June 4 campaign assessment from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) had the following key take-aways:
· Elements of the Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK) and Freedom of Russia Legion (LSR) conducted another limited raid into Belgorod Region on June 4 and are reportedly continuing to operate in a Russian border settlement.
· Belgorod Region Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov responded to a RDK and LSR demand to negotiate for the exchange of captured Russian POWs.
· The inconsistent Russian responses to and reporting about the limited raid in Belgorod Region continue to suggest that the Russian leadership has not yet decided how to react to these limited cross-border raids.
· The limited raids and border shelling in Belgorod Region are increasingly becoming the current focal point for criticism against the Russian military leadership.
· Russian forces again targeted Ukraine with Iranian-made drones and cruise missiles on June 4 making it the fourth consecutive day of strikes across Ukraine.
· Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed on June 4 that Ukrainian forces may have regained positions in southwestern Bakhmut, supporting repeated Ukrainian reports that Ukrainian forces maintain positions on the southwestern outskirts of the city.
· Ukrainian and Russian forces both claimed to have made limited territorial gains on the Kupyansk-Svatove line.
· Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks around Bakhmut and Marinka.
· Ukrainian forces conducted local ground attacks and reportedly made limited tactical gains in western Donetsk Region and eastern Zaporizhzhia Region.
The update at 06:00 on June 5 (Day 467) for the last 24 hours from the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reports:
· 54 Russian air assaults, including with six Kh-101 missiles and eight Shahed drones – 10 of which were destroyed;
· 51 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) attacks;
· 29 firefights;
· Russian artillery, rocket, mortar and/or airborne fire in the following regions: Kharkiv (32); Chernihiv (one), Sumy (11); Luhansk (four); Donetsk (29); Zaporizhzhia (eight), and Kherson (eight), and;
· Ukrainian air forces undertook 15 raids against Russian positions.
President Zelensky’s Message
“We should all remember that our defense, our active actions, and the independence of Ukraine are not something abstract. These are very particular people, particular actions of particular heroes, thanks to which Ukraine exists and Ukraine will exist…
“I am asking you all: please don't forget to thank our warriors in person. Thank those whom you know personally.” – Volodymyr Zelensky
FYI Kyiv Locals
A new mural is being painted in Kyiv to honor a National Guardsman in Zaporizhzhia who has helped shoot down seven Russian Su-25 planes and a winged missile.
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