Ukrainian officials emphasize that the coming week will be decisive for Russian efforts to take control of Severodonetsk.
Deputy Ukrainian Defense Minister Hanna Malyar reported that the Russian leadership has set June 26 as the deadline for Russian forces to reach the Luhansk Oblast administrative border. This will likely result in intensified efforts to take full control of Severodonetsk and move westward towards the regional border.
Head of the Luhansk Regional State Administration Serhiy Haidai confirmed for the first time that Russian forces control all of Severodonetsk except for the industrial zone as of June 20.
Russian forces will likely continue efforts to clear the Azot plant and complete encirclement operations south of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk by driving up the T1302 Bakhmut-Lysychansk highway.
Russian authorities likely seek to leverage the consequences of Russia’s blockade on Ukrainian grain exports to cajole the West into scaling back sanctions.
Margarita Simonyan, head of state-owned propaganda outlet Russia Today, stated on June 20 that the famine caused by Russia’s blockade on grain exports will force the rest of the world to lift sanctions in order to curb further effects of global famine.
Simonyan’s statement is especially salient considering a report by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office that Ukraine had generated 12% of global wheat and barley exports and that Russia’s blockade has left over 20 million tons of grain trapped in storage.
The UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed on June 20 that consistent failures of the Russian air force have contributed significantly to Russia’s limited success in Ukraine.
The UK MoD emphasized that the Russian air force has continually underperformed and been largely risk-averse, failing to establish air superiority or give Russian forces a decisive advantage in Ukraine.
The report also claimed that training procedures for air force personnel are scripted and designed to impress senior officials but do not adequately prepare personnel for the challenges of active air combat.
- Ukrainian sources stated that the coming week will be decisive for Russian forces to complete the capture of Severodonetsk and that Russian forces will focus troops and equipment on the area;
- Ukrainian sources confirmed that Russian forces control all of Severodonetsk with the exception of the Azot industrial zone, where fighting is ongoing;
- Russian sources are likely setting information conditions to justify slow and unsuccessful advances towards Slovyansk from the southeast of Izyum and west of Lyman;
- Russian forces are likely intensifying operations to interdict Ukrainian lines of communication along the T1302 Bakhmut-Lysychansk highway in order to support escalating operations in Severodonetsk-Lysychansk;
- Russian forces continued to focus on resisting further Ukrainian advances north of Kharkiv City towards the international border;
- Russian forces are continuing defensive operations along the Southern Axis;
- Ukrainian partisan activity is continuing to complicate efforts by Russian occupation authorities to consolidate control of occupied areas.
Authors: Karolina Hird, Kateryna Stepanenko, and Frederick W. Kagan
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