Ukraine Military Situation Report | June 19

Senior Fellow (Nonresident)
Ukrainian soldiers carry out detonation work in Donetsk, Ukraine, on June 15, 2024. (Jose Colon/Anadolu via Getty Images)
Ukrainian soldiers carry out detonation work in Donetsk, Ukraine, on June 15, 2024. (Jose Colon/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Below Senior Fellow Can Kasapoğlu offers a military situation report about the war in Ukraine.

Executive Summary

  • The Russian military pressed Ukrainian forces on multiple fronts, and visual evidence suggests Moscow has used thermobaric weapons in the Ukrainian town of Chasiv Yar.
  • The Ukrainian military captured dozens of Russian personnel in fighting just outside Kharkiv.
  • The Russian Defense Ministry continued to prioritize the proliferation of counter-drone technology.
  • Ukraine is deploying new unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) that feature satellite communications.

1. Battlefield Assessment

Russian combat formations continued their push across the eastern, northeastern, and southern front lines of their war against Ukraine. While positional clashes arose in multiple locations, the most intense fighting occurred in the Donbas region, near the town of Kupiansk, in the outer ring surrounding Kharkiv, in the town of Chasiv Yar, and near the city of Avdiivka, which Russian forces captured in early 2024.

Around Kharkiv, Ukraine’s defensive combat operations have proven resilient, with counteroffensive efforts regaining lost territory and slowing Russian advances. In Vovchansk, one of the most fraught battlegrounds of the Kharkiv campaign, the Ukrainian military cut off a large group of Russian forces and captured dozens of servicemen. In Chasiv Yar, heavy clashes continued, although these engagements returned marginal gains for the Kremlin. Official Ukrainian reports suggest that Russia is still devoting some of its most capable personnel to the battle around Chasiv Yar. The presence there of Moscow’s 98th VDV Division and 58th Spetsnaz Battalion (including fighters from the pro-Russian separatist paramilitaries of Donetsk) indicates that Moscow has prioritized the town. Open-source intelligence suggests that the Russian military has also employed TOS-1A thermobaric heavy rocket systems to hit Ukrainian troops in Chasiv Yar.

As in weeks past, most clashes in southern Ukraine remained concentrated around Robotyne, Verbove, Krynky, and western Zaporizhzhia Oblast. Despite heavy positional fighting, the front lines along this southern axis remained relatively static.

Meanwhile, Ukraine continued its attacks on Russian strategic assets. Reports suggest that on June 12, Ukrainian forces conducted a number of Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) salvos on significant targets in occupied Crimea, including two S-400 air defense systems and a radar station near the airfield in Belbek.

Ukrainian officials also reported that Russia deployed the S-500 Prometheus, its newest air defense system, to Crimea, showing that Moscow is risking one of its most sophisticated assets to protect its critical infrastructure, such as the Kerch Bridge, in the occupied peninsula. The S-500 is a cutting-edge, mobile surface-to-air missile (SAM) system engineered for long-range theater ballistic missile defense. Featuring a range of 370 miles, the S-500 complements the S-400 Triumf SAM system in Russia’s integrated air defense architecture.

Some assessments have concluded that the S-500 is designed to target fifth-generation aircraft and low-orbit satellites, although there is no combat record to prove this claim. In its design philosophy, the S-500 is a modern derivative of the S-300V baseline. The S-300V is the primary long-range maneuver SAM system of the Russian Ground Forces and is structurally different from the rest of the S-300 family. The Russian military will probably employ the S-500 to intercept Ukraine’s ATACMS tactical ballistic missiles.

On the opposite side of the battle lines, Ukraine’s critical infrastructure—particularly its electricity production facilities—remains under threat. As representatives of Ukraine’s private sector have warned, the country could soon experience power outages for as long as 20 hours at a time if its damaged facilities are not repaired immediately. In addition to conducting swift repair operations, Ukraine needs to bolster its air defense capabilities and ensure a sustainable supply of interceptor missiles to prevent further damage from Russian missile and drone salvos. Russian strikes could intensify in the coming months, especially in mid-July when the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) holds a summit in Washington, DC.

In a recent press statement, officials from the United States military admitted that Ukrainian forces used a Patriot missile in January 2024 to intercept a Russian Beriev A-50 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft, which subsequently crashed. This demonstrates that Ukraine benefits not only from using its air and missile systems in defensive capacities, but also from deploying its offensive assets against critical Russian platforms. By deploying its long-range SAM systems close to the frontlines, Kyiv can target Moscow’s most vital aircraft, such as the II-20 and the A-50, and systematically wear down Moscow’s intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) capabilities. Following last week’s 10-year security agreement between the US and Ukraine, Washington’s recent decision to send an additional Patriot SAM system to Kyiv is a positive step.

2. Russia’s Defense Industrial and Technological Base Continues to Innovate

Open-source intelligence suggests that the Russian defense technological and industrial base (DTIB) may be developing a counter-drone project called Intercept. Reportedly, the Intercept system features a Kevlar net that can be delivered by 12 gauge shotgun cartridges. This net can trap small drones and cause them to crash.

In addition to starting fresh projects, Russian arms manufacturers are also developing new techniques to bolster their production capabilities for existing systems. Social media analysis suggests that Russian volunteers have established temporary production workshops to assemble first-person-view (FPV) drones with commercial 3D printers to support the Kremlin’s war effort. New Defense Minister Andrey Belousov, an economist by trade, is holding regular assessment meetings with correspondents, bloggers, and military analysts to track the course of the conflict.

3. Ukraine Is Diversifying Its Robotic Warfare Efforts

Ukraine’s defense industry also continues to develop new solutions to keep up with the rapid pace of innovation. Reports suggest that Milrem Robotics, an Emirati-owned robotic warfare systems firm with Estonian roots, is now collaborating with Dutch data solutions manufacturer AEC Skyline to equip unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) with satellite communications features.

Previous editions of this report have highlighted the growing importance of UGVs to Ukraine’s military capabilities and logistics operations. These new satellite communications features will enhance connectivity between Kyiv’s robotic assets and its command-and-control posts. Introducing jamming-resistant characteristics to Ukraine’s unmanned ground operations, the upgrade will help Kyiv weather the intensifying electronic warfare (EW) threat Russia poses.

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