Vladimir Putin and Gen. Aleksandr Dvornikov, the overall commander of the Russian invasion of Ukraine (File)
Source: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 2119 GMT:
Russian troops killed four civilians and wounded five in the Donetsk oblast on Wednesday, said Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko.
UPDATE 2115 GMT:
Five women were killed by Russian shelling of the village of Pryshib in the Kharkiv oblast on Wednesday.
At least 860 civilians have been killed by Russian forces in Kharkiv during the four-month invasion.
UPDATE 1805 GMT:
Ireland has frozen €1.72 billion ($1.82 billion) of assets linked to sanctioned Russian individuals and entities.
The figure is a significant increase from the €839 million in an EU document in early April.
Most Russian money in Ireland is financial assets contained in funds and special purpose vehicles in Dublin’s international services hub, rather than i yacht, jet, and luxury property confiscations.
UPDATE 1714 GMT:
A court in Poltava has sentenced nine Russian proxy fighters to 15 years in prison.
The men from the Russian proxy areas of the Donetsk oblast were captured during combat in the Kharkiv region.
Two weeks, the Ivano-Frankivsk City Court sentenced 15 residents of the Donetsk oblast to 15 years in prison for “defending the enemy” and “justifying Russian aggression”.
UPDATE 1429 GMT:
Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio has left the Five Star Movement over the party’s resistance to military assistance to Ukraine.
Di Maio siad Five Star had undermined government efforts and weakened Italy’s international standing. Some lawmakers joined him in departure from the party.
Party leader Giuseppe Conte, a former Prime Minister, reluctantly backed Italy’s support of Kyiv. However, in recent weeks, he has claimed the military aid is fuelling the war and called for dialogue with Vladimir Putin.
UPDATE 1402 GMT:
A regional official says a Ukrainian drone struck the largest oil depot in Rostov, Russia.
The official said the strike caused an explosion at the Novoshakhtinsky oil products plant.
A law enforcement official said two drones flew over the refinery. One flew away while the other dived and hit the heat exchanger.
There were no casualties and the fire has been extinguished.
In Ukraine, the head of state-owned oil and gas monopoly Naftogaz, Yuriy Vitrenko, said all refining is halted because of targeted Russian strikes.
UPDATE 1352 GMT:
At least one person has been killed in the latest Russian missile strike on Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine, says Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych.
He said damaged buildings included a school and a vegatable oil factory, with several fires set.
Regional governor Vitaliy Kim said seven missiles struck the city on the Dnieper River, just inland from the Black Sea.
UPDATE 1342 GMT:
Médecins Sans Frontières staff report a “shocking level” of “indiscriminate violence” on civilians in Ukraine, with an “outrageous” lack of effort to protect them from attacks.
The international medical charity evacuated more than 650 patients by train between March 31 and June 6 from eastern Ukraine to hospitals in safer parts of the country. More than 40% of the wounded were elderly people and children.
MSF said 73% of the injured had blast wounds and 20% shrapnel or gunshot wounds. More than 10% had lost at least one limb, with the youngest only 6 years old.
Most patients we talked to when designating who is responsible for their injuries pointed at Russian and Russian-backed military forces.
The patients talked about civilians being shot while evacuating, indiscriminate bombing and shelling of residential areas and elderly people being brutalized.
UPDATE 1104 GMT:
Ukrainian photojournalist Maks Levin and the soldier friend accompanying him, Oleksiy Chernyshov, were “coldly executed” by Russian forces in March, an investigation by Reporters Without Borders has concluded.
Levin was searching Russian-occupied woodlands, north of Kyiv, for his missing image-taking drone when he and Chernyshov were seized on March 13. Evidence indicates they were killed, probably after being interrogated and tortured, on the same day. Their bodies were found on April 1 in the woods.
RWB said it counted 14 bullet holes in the burnt remains of their car. A jerrycan for gasoline was found close to Chernyshov’s burnt body.
RWB said recovered ballistics indicated Levin “was probably killed with one, perhaps two bullets fired at close range when he was already on the ground”.
UPDATE 0719 GMT:
UK military intelligence says the forces of the Russian proxy “Donetsk People’s Republic” may have suffered up to 55% casualties amid the last-gasp Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine.
The report cites the DPR acknowledgement of 2128 military personnel killed in action and 8,897 wounded since the start of 2022, adding, “It is highly likely that DPR forces are equipped with outdated weapons and equipment.”
The analysts note, “Russia is highly likely preparing to attempt to deploy a large number of reserve units to the Donbas.”
The BBC’s Russian service reports that new Russian recruits are receiving only 3 to 7 days of training before being sent to “the most active sectors of the front”. Volunteers within the conventional Russian military, Rosgvardia [National Guard] units, and Wagner Group mercenaries are now Russia’s main assault force.
Other reports say the Russian military is offering substantial financial incentives to secure additional recruits with increasing disregard of their age, health, and criminal records. The Ukrainian General Staff claims Russian airborne units are forced to recruit reserve officers on three-month contracts because of significant losses, and the BBC says the Russian Defense Ministry is offering to pay off the loans and debts of volunteers to entice recruits.
UPDATE 0657 GMT:
Families of 49 surviving crew members of Russia’s Black Sea flagship Moskva, which sank on April 14 after it was struck by Ukrainian missiles, are appealing against the deployment of the conscripts.
The appeal says the survivors are to return to frontline service on June 30.
The Ukrainian Military Intelligence Directorate claims Russian forces have threatened the families of the Moskva sailors with criminal prosecution and nullification of financial benefits if they speak out.
There were 510 crew on the Moskva when it sank. The Russian Defense Ministry only acknowledged one death and 37 injuries.
Families of the crew and other sources said there were about 40 deaths — including the captain — and about 100 injuries.
UPDATE 0646 GMT:
The first delivery of German self-propelled howitzers has arrived in Ukraine.
The German Defense Ministry said a total of 12 Panzerhaubitze 2000 howitzers from Germany and the Netherelands will be shipped.
Ukraine Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov wrote, “We have replenishment! The German Panzerhaubitze 2000 with trained Ukrainian crews joined the Ukrainian artillery family.”
Panzerhaubitze 2000 are finally part of 155 mm howitzer arsenal of the Ukrainian artillery.
I appreciate all efforts of my colleague 🇩🇪 #DefMin Christine Lambrecht in support of 🇺🇦.
Our artillerymen will bring the heat to the battlefield 🔥🔥🔥!
Photo by BMVg_Bundeswehr pic.twitter.com/mP5M0BApvO
— Oleksii Reznikov (@oleksiireznikov) June 21, 2022
UPDATE 0640 GMT:
Russian shelling across the Kharkiv region in northeast Ukraine killed 15 civilians on Tuesday, according to governor Oleh Synegubov.
UPDATE 0625 GMT:
Ukraine’s army said on Tuesday that it has launched airstrikes on Zmiinyi (Snake) Island, causing “significant losses” to Russian forces.
Ukraine’s Southern Command claimed “aimed strikes with the use of various forces”: “The military operation continues and requires information silence until it is over.”
Russia’s Defense Ministry insisted, “The Kyiv regime undertook another mad attempt to take possession of Snake Island. This is another fake ‘victory’ of the Ukrainian military.”
But satellite images from Tuesday show a destroyed tower in the southern end of the island and burnt areas on the northern end.
Snake Island was seized by Russian forces soon after the invasion began on February, with Ukrainian defenders as an icon of resistance for their defiant “Russian warship, go fuck yourself”.
In recent weeks, the Ukrainian military has counter-attacked. Last month, strikes flattened most of the buildings on the island, with the Ukrainians claiming the destruction of a landing craft, two patrol boats, and a helicopter. A Russian logistics ship was set on fire days later.
UK military intelligence assessed on Tuesday that the Ukrainian defenses have largely neutralized Russia’s ability to establish control in the northwestern Black Sea.
p>A Russian naval tug, delivering weapons and personnel to Snake Island, was sunk last week by Ukraine’s first successful use of a Harpoon anti-ship missile, part of international military aid to Ukraine.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Amid the initial failures of its invasion of Ukraine and struggles to seize and hold territory in the east of the country, the Kremlin has fired the head of Russian Airborne Forces.
Russian outlets confirmed the claims of Ukrainian sources, first made on June 17, that Col.-Gen. Andrey Serdyukov has been dismissed and will be replaced by Col.-Gen. Mikhail Teplinsky, the current Chief of Staff of the Central Military District. Seryukov was reportedly blamed for poor performance and high casualties among paratroopers.
The paratroops were central to the Kremlin’s initial plan, when the invasion began on February 24, for special forces to enter Ukrainian cities and topple the Zelenskiy Government. The units would be moved to airports near the cities to launch their assaults, including operations in Kyiv to detain and possibly killing President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and his ministers.
But the plan ran into trouble when the paratroopers could not take Hostomel Airport near Kyiv. Within 72 hours, they were defeated, suffering heavy casualties and forced to retreat.
Claims are circulating that the Kremlin may pursue a wider shake-up of command, including the replacement of the overall commander of the invasion, Army Gen. Alexander Dvornikov.
Russian reserve officer Oleg Marzoev claimed on June 21 that General of the Army Sergey Surovikin, the current commander of the Russian Aerospace Forces, will replace Dvornikov as commander of the Southern Military District — which includes Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine.
Ukraine’s Conflict Intelligence Team reported on Sunday that Vladimir Putin dismissed Dvornikov and named Col.-Gen. Gennady Zhidko, the head of the Military-Political Directorate of the Russian Armed Forces, as the overall commander of the invasion.
Dvornikov was tapped by Putin to lead the invasion on April 10, after Russia pursued the “special military operations” without an overall commander in the first six weeks of the war. He had previously served in the suppression of Chechnya and commanded in Russia’s military intervention to prop up the Assad regime in the Syrian conflict.
But Bellingcat’s Christo Grozev said on Friday that Putin had decided to fire the commander because of his excessive drinking and lack of trust among Russian forces.
The US-based Institute for the Study of War summarizes, “Such drastic rotations within the Russian military, if true, are not actions taken by a force on the verge of a major success and indicate ongoing dysfunction in the Kremlin’s conduct of the war.”
Russian Advance in Eastern Offensive
The reported turmoil in command comes even as Russian forces make limited gains in their last-gasp offensive in the Donbas in eastern Ukraine.
Trying for weeks to overrun the city of Sievierodonetsk, Russian forces have occupied the village of Toshkivka, about 15 miles to the south.
The head of the Sievierodonetsk district military administration, Roman Vlasenko, said the battle is “now in full swing” for the Donbas, “the epicenter of fighting between Ukraine and the Russian army”.
Russian forces area also advancing toward Lysychansk, the other city held by Ukraine in the Luhansk oblast, from the south. ISW projects that Russian forces “will likely attack the outskirts of Lysychansk within the coming week”.
While noting “a clear setback for Ukrainian defenses in the Sievierodonetsk-Lysychansk area”, ISW adds that Russian forces will likely require further protracted battles with Ukrainian forces” to complete the capture of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk.