· Top 6 Headlines
· President Zelensky’s Message of the Day
· Ukraine Summer Offensive Summary
1. Ahead of the NATO Summit starting tomorrow in Lithuania, there were frantic last-minute talks among Ukraine’s allies about security guarantees for Ukraine – beyond the issue of NATO membership. Politico reported that the US, Britain, France and Germany have been discussing bilateral or multilateral agreements of countries willing to provide Ukraine with constant military assistance. For his part, President Volodymyr Zelensky said that “we are working on security guarantees... I don’t want to go to Vilnius for fun.”
2. US President Joe Biden poured cold water on Ukraine’s membership of the military alliance. “I think we have to lay out a rational path for Ukraine to be able to qualify to get into NATO,” Biden told CNN. He said it was “premature” to “call for a vote... now” because there were other “qualifications that need to be met, including democratization and some of those issues.”
3. President Biden revealed his motivations by saying: “Holding NATO together is really critical. I don’t think there is unanimity in NATO about whether or not to bring Ukraine into the NATO family now, at this moment, in the middle of a war.” Biden has, however, pledged that the US would keep providing security and weaponry to Ukraine, as it does for Israel, while the NATO membership process plays out.
4. Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz sided with Biden in terms of slowly moving on Ukraine’s membership. “We have to take a sober look at the current situation,” Scholz said. “Therefore, I suggest we focus on the top priority in Vilnius, namely strengthening the combat power of Ukraine.” Washington and Berlin have apparently backed a form of words for the summit’s concluding statement that does not fully endorse a “pathway” to membership or invite Kyiv to join once the war is over.
5. However, the US and Germany are under intense pressure from other allies to show greater support for Ukraine’s eventual membership of NATO. FT reports that other members of the alliance disagree with the “conservative” US and German stance. It is believed, though, that the alliance will upgrade NATO-Ukraine relations to a council format and drop the need for a formalized Membership Action Plan. A proposal by eight Eastern members of the alliance would oblige NATO foreign ministers to reassess Ukraine’s progress in November.
Heated debate over the Vilnius wording on Ukraine. But the real question is whether Europe will be free of war. If some friends keep seeing our membership through the lens of Russia—as a problem—it won't. If they see our strength as an opportunity and speed up accession, it will.— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) July 7, 2023
6. On Saturday, President Zelensky hailed “brave” Ukraine on the 500th day of Russia’s full-scale invasion, as the war’s toll mounted with eight deaths reported in Russian rocket fire on Saturday. “Today we are on Snake Island, which will never be conquered by the occupiers, like the whole of Ukraine because we are the country of the brave,” Zelensky said. “I want to thank from here, from this place of victory, each of our soldiers for these 500 days.” On his return to Ukraine from a visit to Turkey, Zelensky also brought back five Ukrainian commanders from the Azov brigade who were supposed to have remained in Turkey until the end of the war under a prisoner exchange deal.
President Zelensky’s Message
500 days of the full-scale war.— Volodymyr Zelenskyy / Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) July 8, 2023
During this time, thousands and thousands of our people showed strength, glory and courage of the Ukrainian people in battles for the sake of our state.
Almost 50,000 of our people have been awarded state awards.
298 Ukrainian men and women have… pic.twitter.com/ZVZQo8de9r
Ukraine Summer Offensive Summary
Ukrainian offensive action in three theaters; Ukrainian interdictions on Russian rear continue; 30 Russian airstrikes versus one Ukrainian airstrike; 100 settlements shelled in eight regions; the grim grind of advancing with no air cover goes on.
Ukrainian military officials also reiterated that Ukrainian forces are continuing their interdiction campaigns in southern and eastern Ukraine, ISW said.
Poland revealed that it has provided “around 10” Mi-24 helicopters to Ukraine, according to WSJ.
Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev threatened to strike three Ukrainian nuclear power plants (NPPs) and nuclear facilities in Eastern Europe if an alleged attempt by the Ukrainian Armed Forces to attack the Smolensk NPP in Russia with “NATO missiles” is confirmed.
Operational Aspects in Luhansk, Avdiivka, Maryinka, Kherson, Russia and other areas
· Russian officials claimed there were explosions / activated air defense systems in Bryansk and Rostov regions in Russia, near the Kerch bridge in occupied Crimea region and in occupied Luhansk region.
Explosions reported from Russian-occupied Sorokyne, Luhansk Oblast.— (((Tendar))) (@Tendar) July 7, 2023
You can hear secondary explosions which points an ammunition dump.
Russian-occupied Sorokyne is more than 134km away from the next Ukrainian Army position.https://t.co/SpHMRjR7Qk#Ukraine #Luhansk #Sorokyne pic.twitter.com/BwCsOcHIWi
Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine was hit with Russian S-300 missiles, according to the local Mayor.
Geolocated footage indicates that Russian forces made marginal advances southwest of Vesele (4 km northeast of Avdiivka) as of July 9, ISW said. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful attacks near Avdiivka, Novokalynove (11 km northwest of Avdiivka), Stepove (3 km northwest of Avdiivka), Pervomaiske (11 km southwest of Avdiivka), Nevelske (13 km southwest of Avdiivka), Maryinka (immediately southwest of Donetsk City), and Novomykhaillivka (10 km southwest of Donetsk City).
Ukraine’s General Staff reported 30 Russian airstrikes and 49 rocket attacks using MLRS. Ukraine conducted one airstrike yesterday.
Around 100 Ukrainian population settlements across the Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, Dnipropetrovsk, and Kherson regions were hit by Russian artillery fire, said the General Staff.
Operational Aspects in Zone A. TO518 / Mokri Yaly River Axis - boundary of the Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions, and Zone B. Western Zaporizhzhia
Ukrainian officials reported that Ukrainian forces continued to conduct counteroffensive operations in the Berdyansk (Zone B) and Melitopol (Zone A) directions, ISW reported.
The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and Kremlin-affiliated milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted attacks in western Zaporizhzhia region, ISW reported.
Ukrainian forces continued to conduct counteroffensive operations in western Zaporizhzhia region on July 9, including at Robotyne, Novodanylivka, and Mala Tokmachka, according to ISW and pro-Russian sources.
A pro-Russian source claimed that Ukrainian forces are attacking Russian positions in small groups and are targeting Russian rear positions, warehouses, and infrastructure, ISW reported.
Meanwhile, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said about these Zones that “the process of consolidation on the reconquered areas continues. Our troops carry out aerial reconnaissance of the terrain, are engaged in clearing the terrain and inflict fire damage with artillery on the identified enemy targets, carry out counterbattery measures, in readiness for the continuation of offensive operations.”
A Kremlin-affiliated milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces advanced towards Pryyutne (17 km southwest of Velyka Novosilka) from the north and are currently about 2 km away from the settlement. The milblogger claimed that Russian forces unsuccessfully counterattacked from the direction of Urozhaine (9 km south of Velyka Novosilka) towards Blahodatne (5 km south of Velyka Novosilka). The Ukrainian General Staff similarly reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian attacks near Blahodatne, according to ISW.
There was loud explosion reported at a purported Russian military base in the occupied city of Melitopol, according to its exiled Mayor.
Operational Aspects in Zone C. Bakhmut
Ukrainian Ground Forces Commander Colonel General Oleksandr Syrsky stated that Ukrainian forces successfully continue to advance in the Bakhmut direction.
However, the situation on the eastern and southern fronts near Bakhmut did not undergo significant changes, but there is “a certain advance of troops” on the southern flank, according to Malyar.
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