Key Takeaways from the ISW:

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a major information operation during his recent visit to North Korea and Vietnam on June 18 and 19 aimed at sabotaging efforts by Ukraine's partners to clearly define a common strategic objective and strategy to decisively defeat Russia’s illegal war of conquest in Ukraine.
  • Putin implicitly threatened to use nuclear weapons if the West enables Ukraine to decisively defeat Russia in order to undermine the international community's cohering strategic vision of support for Ukraine.
  • Putin’s nuclear threat is part of an ongoing Kremlin nuclear blackmail campaign aimed at dissuading Ukraine’s allies from decisively committing to defeating Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and is therefore highly unlikely to result in actual nuclear escalation.
  • South Korea responded to the Russian-North Korean comprehensive strategic partnership agreement on June 20 and stated that it will reconsider its previous ban on sending lethal military assistance to Ukraine.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin simultaneously attempted to downplay aspects of the Russia-North Korea agreement potentially in response to South Korea's concerns during a June 20 press conference in Vietnam.
  • Putin also met with Vietnamese President Tô Lâm, Vietnamese Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính, and General Secretary of the Central Committee of Vietnam’s Community Party Nguyễn Phú Trọng during his visit and discussed bilateral relations and the Soviet Union's and Russia's support of Vietnam during the 20th and 21st centuries.
  • Russian forces used the new FAB-3000 M-54 bomb with a unified planning and correction module (UMPC) to strike Ukrainian positions in Kharkiv Oblast for the first time, representing a new Russian capability with a high potential for destruction if Russian forces continue to be able to use such weapons uninhibited.
  • The United States made a policy change to prioritize delivering Patriot air defense interceptors to Ukraine against the backdrop of the increasing threat of Russian guided glide bomb use in Ukraine.
  • US policy still prohibits Ukrainian forces from striking military targets with US-provided weapons in the operational and deep rear of Russian territory.
  • The Russian military's increased over-reliance on infantry-heavy frontal assault tactics has greatly degraded the distinctions between various Russian combat services on the battlefield in Ukraine, minimizing the operational efficacy of frontline troops.
  • Russian Defense Minister Andrei Belousov used a working visit to the Eastern Military District in Vladivostok, Primorsky Krai to create the appearance of a strict but engaged defense minister.
  • Ukrainian forces conducted drone strikes against at least two oil facilities in Russia on the night of June 19 to 20.
  • Ukrainian forces recently advanced near Vovchansk, and Russian forces recently advanced near Chasiv Yar, Avdiivka, and Donetsk City.
  • Russian milbloggers complained that the Russian military command is failing to properly incentivize Russian servicemen to fight and explain the purpose of the Russian full-scale invasion to its troops.

Authors: Nicole Wolkov, Angelica Evans, Kateryna Stepanenko, Grace Mappes, and George Barros.

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