Assaulting Ukrainian infantry teams backed by swarms of domestically manufactured drones are retaking ground from Russian forces in the northern Kharkiv sector. Both sides are reporting that Kyiv’s fighting men have established a marked artillery firepower advantage over Moscow’s troops, for the first time in months.

The Ukrainian gains according to field reports are in built-up areas of the town of Vovchansk and the village of Hlyboke, both sites of major Russian offensives launched since early May. Kyiv’s forces have scored modest but confirmed advances at both locations, the US-based Institute for the Study of War think tank reported on June 25.

News feeds from units in all those sectors had reported modest Ukrainian advances since mid-June in Vovchansk and the villages of Lyptsi, Hlyboke and Tykhe. In some cases, the seizure of Russian defensive positions were confirmed by video and prisoners of war interviews published by open sources.

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Trooper from the Ukrainian Interior Ministry special operations infantry unit Liyut’fires a machine gun during house-to-house fighting in Vovchansk. Kyiv Post screen grab of video published by Ukraine’s Army General Staff on Saturday.

Suspilne Investigation Reveals Ukrainians Among Those Training Russian Troops
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Suspilne Investigation Reveals Ukrainians Among Those Training Russian Troops

Among those charged with the training, 12 individuals hold Ukrainian citizenship and are traitors to their country, actively participating in the war on Russia’s side.

The pro-Moscow military blogger Aleksander Sladkov on Monday told his 900,000 followers that Russian forces fighting in the Vovchansk/Liptsy sector have lost the initiative and were struggling to hold ground captured in May. He said that Kyiv has deployed elite assault units to the Kharkiv sector and was reinforcing them constantly.

“Our artillery gunners have learned that for every shell that we [Russian forces] fire, the enemy [Ukraine] answers with twenty rounds from its side. The intensity of operations of enemy artillery has spiked dramatically. If we are talking about counter-battery fire, they are conducting bombardments [against Russian guns and howitzers] from two directions… they have no shell shortage whatsoever,” Sladkov said.

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Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala on Tuesday in an X/Twitter post said the first batches of an initial 800,000-shell resupply organized by Kyiv’s allies in April, had finally started reaching Ukrainian battlefields. The Prague-led initiative used donations from eighteen nations, among them Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, The Netherlands and Sweden to source ammunition supplies outside of Europe.

The United States stopped all military assistance to Ukraine, including artillery ammunition, from December to late April because of congressional infighting. Pentagon deliveries to Kyiv that resumed in May and June have prioritized artillery shells, particularly in the critical NATO-standard 155mm caliber. The newly received Ukrainian firepower seems to have put an end to the Russian offensive in the Kharkiv sector, Russian “military correspondent” Aleksandr Kots said in a June 25 video posted on his Telegram channel.

“We are not going to advance there, there is no chance. The situation is that we are defending. Given all the firepower the enemy has brought there, to Vovchansk, the idea that we [Russian forces] should go forward, it is just a way to destroy our people,” Kots said.

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Institute for the Study of War graphic showing recent Ukrainian advances in the Kharkiv sector. Both Russian and Ukrainian field reports have confirmed Kyiv’s forces have scored small-scale ground gains, thanks to artillery and drone support overmatching Russian defenses.

Battle reports and drone imagery from counterattacking Ukrainian units showed small groups of heavily armed infantrymen providing covering fire each other and throwing grenades. Observation drones hovered overhead as kamikaze drones, mortars and artillery hit their targets.

A video published on Saturday, June 22 by the Ukrainian military showed fighters from the Interior Ministry special operations unit  Liut advancing deliberately, covering each other with automatic fire and tossing grenades at possible Russian hideouts. The local Svizhi Noviny Vovchansk information platform reported Ukrainian troops had secured modest gains in Hlyboke and Lyptsi, describing the attack tactics as “little by little, gradually, carefully, but surely!”

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According to reports in both Ukrainian and Russian military media, an advanced detachment of as many as 200 Russian troops found itself cut off in a manufacturing plant and surrounded by Ukrainian forces in southern Vovchansk in early June. The US-supported independent news platform Radio Liberty on Wednesday, citing the Ukrainian army’s Kharkiv sector spokesman Yury Povkh, reported the Russian “enclave” had been fully isolated for two weeks. Kremlin forces were attempting to reach the detachment in daily attacks, but failing, Povkh said.

Ukraine’s Army General Staff (AGS) said on Tuesday, June 25 that Russian forces, predominantly infantry without support of armored vehicles, were still attempting to attack in some locations in the Kharkiv sector and losing as many as 200 men killed or wounded daily. Ukrainian defenses were holding at all locations, that official statement said. The Ukrainian DeepState battle tracking platform said on Wednesday that Russian forces attempted to attack inside Vovchansk twice, with both being unsuccessful.

Russian news feeds covering fighting in the Kharkiv sector have heavily referred to Russian Air Force strikes with glider bombs against Ukrainian positions. Ukrainian military media, both official and news feeds run by individual units, have confirmed heavy use of the Russian weapons but claimed the air strikes have often missed and that attack operations are continuing.

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Geolocated reports said Ukraine’s 3rd Assault Brigade, 36th Marine Brigade, 82nd Air Assault Brigade and 92nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade, along with special operations police and border troops had made ground gains. News feeds from those and other units in the Kharkiv sector monitored by Kyiv Post reported increased supplies of artillery ammunition to Ukrainian forces, and an overall dominance of air space over the battlefield by Ukrainian drones and pilots.

DeepState June 23 map of fighting lines in Vovchansk. The isolated Russian unit in the Vovchansk Aggregate Factory is visible in the lower left.

The pro-Russian Kharkiv sector milblogger Severniy Kanal in a June 18 post reported Russian troops in Vovchansk hit by Ukrainian assaults had deserted their positions with discipline was not re-established until military police rounded up the fleeing soldiers in the city of Belgorod, some 35 kilometers (22 miles) behind the front line. The writer identified the unit retreating in the June 4 engagement as the 8th and 9th companies of the 9th Motor Rifle Regiment. Russian military information platforms denied that a panicked rout had taken place.

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Ukrainian combat unit reports from the middle of June geo-located to the Kharkiv region, confirmed by Ukrainian official army sources, claimed dozens of Russian soldiers were taken prisoner and substantial numbers were killed or wounded in counterattacks launched between June 3-10. Ukrainian information platforms tracking Russian losses, among them the Gruz200 Telegram channel, published video purportedly recorded in a Belgorod military hospital on Wednesday, showing dozens of wounded Russian soldiers recovering in primitive conditions.    

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