Ukraine war: Ukraine returns to ‘strategic roots’

Now Ukraine is returning to its “strategic roots”.

10:22 a.m.: According to military expert Phillips O’Brien, Ukraine is returning to its “strategic roots”. According to him, “Ukraine is attacking Russian logistics on the whole front”.

In the past few days there have been repeated reports of Ukrainian artillery attacks on areas far behind the front, such as on the Chongar Bridge between mainland Ukraine and Crimea or various ammunition depots. O’Brien calls the strategic return “smart”.

According to Selenskyj, Ukraine is making “slower than hoped” progress in the actual counteroffensive. However, experts do not see this as a surprise, as the Russian troops have been able to prepare for the offensive for months.

Rheinmetall will deliver 20 Marder tanks in the summer

10.05 a.m.: The armaments group Rheinmetall plans to deliver 20 more Marder infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine this summer. The company confirmed a corresponding schedule for an order announced at the beginning of June on Friday in Düsseldorf. The federal government pays an amount in the lower double-digit million euros for this. The Ukraine would have received a total of 60 martens: 40 from Rheinmetall and 20 from Bundeswehr stocks. Rheinmetall is offering 60 more, and work is already underway at the plants in Unterlüß (Lower Saxony) and Kassel (Hesse). According to the company, up to 10 of these 60 could be completed per month.

Separately from the direct Ukraine business, Greece will also get 40 Marders from Rheinmetall this summer. This takes place as part of a so-called ring exchange, in which NATO countries hand over other Soviet-made war equipment to Ukraine.

Ukraine reports Alligator helicopter shot down

Friday, June 23, 9:32 a.m.: Ukraine shot down one of the notorious Ka-52 helicopters, also known as the “Alligator”, according to the General Staff. The information cannot be independently confirmed. The helicopter repeatedly caused problems for Ukraine in the counter-offensive. See why here:

Zelenskyj warns of “act of terrorism” at Zaporizhia nuclear power plant

2:52 p.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has again accused Russia of planning an “act of terrorism” in the occupied Zaporizhia nuclear power plant. “You have prepared everything for this,” said the head of state in a video on Thursday. The Ukrainian secret service SBU has information about this. At the same time, Zelenskyy warned that such an attack on Europe’s largest nuclear power plant could have consequences far beyond Ukraine. “Radioactivity knows no borders,” he said.

On Wednesday, the head of the Ukrainian military intelligence service, Kyrylo Budanov, spoke of Russian preparations to blow up the cooling water pond at the power plant. The cooling systems of the nuclear waste interim storage facility and the shut down reactors receive water from this. Moscow has repeatedly denied such allegations. The nuclear power plant was occupied by Russia immediately after the invasion of the neighboring country 16 months ago.

After the destruction of the Kakhovka dam on the lower reaches of the Dnipro a good two weeks ago, the reservoir next to the power plant has largely dried up. The water supply of the nuclear power plant with six reactors is thus endangered. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the water in the cooling water pond will last for several weeks.

“It’s not just a blow to a bridge”

10:39 am: A Russian military blogger explained the significance of the damaged Chongar Bridge in a Telegram post. “This isn’t just a blow to a bridge,” writes blogger Zhivoff. “That’s a blow to a land bridge. The attack was serious and it is possible that it will happen again. 70 percent of military and civilian traffic goes over this bridge,” Zhivoff continued.

He suspects that the logistics of supplying Crimea will be significantly more difficult. Although the bridge can be repaired, the Russian military lacks the ability to prevent renewed attacks. Now you have to drive a 100-kilometer detour, it is said. “In general, the situation is difficult,” he concludes.

Russian occupation chief: Ukraine hits key bridge to Crimea with Storm Shadow missiles

06:46: Ukraine has hit the logistically important Chongar Bridge between Crimea and southern Ukraine’s Kherson. This was announced to Telegram by the Russian occupation chief in Cherson, Vladimir Saldo. Saldo also writes that British “Storm Shadow” missiles were used.

Saldo explains: “The road surface of the bridge is somewhat damaged.” A picture that he himself shares shows that the road is completely torn open. The well-informed Wall Street Journal journalist Yaroslav Trofimov speaks of a “huge logistical disruption”.

Kiev secret service admits Russian attack on own headquarters

9:58 p.m.: The Ukrainian military intelligence service HUR has confirmed reports of a Russian missile strike against its headquarters. The attacks took place at the end of May, but “neither achieved the desired nor the announced goal,” said the agency’s spokesman Andriy Yusov on Ukrainian television on Wednesday. Russian President Vladimir Putin, among others, reported on the rocket attack.

The Russian leadership has repeatedly threatened to strike at Ukraine’s “decision centers”. The first information about an attack on the HUR headquarters appeared on May 29th. At the time, eyewitnesses reported explosions on Kyiv’s Rybalsky Island (actually a peninsula) in the Dnipro. There was no official statement from Kiev at the time. Jussow did not want to comment on the consequences of the attack. He said he would only do that after the war.

Some Russian media reported that the head of the Ukrainian military intelligence service, Kyrylo Budanov, was also injured in the shelling. After weeks of silence, Budanov reappeared on Ukrainian television for the first time on Tuesday. Externally there were no injuries to be seen.

EU countries agree on eleventh package of sanctions against Russia

3:08 p.m.: The EU countries have agreed on a new package of sanctions against Russia. It includes punitive measures against other people and organizations who support the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, but also an instrument against circumventing sanctions that have already been imposed, as the Swedish Council Presidency announced in Brussels on Wednesday.

Moscow celebrates soldiers for destroying Leopard tanks

1:43 p.m.: The Ukrainian counter-offensive has been running for about two weeks. In Russia, this military operation is openly discussed. President Vladimir Putin has already acknowledged losses and stated that 54 Russian tanks had been destroyed. Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu also confirmed this. Nevertheless, the Kremlin emphasizes that Ukrainian losses “are much higher,” said the Russia correspondent of “n-tv“, Rainer Munz in conversation with the broadcaster. In addition, Moscow postulates that the Ukrainian counter-offensive has already been stopped and that Russia is holding the fronts.

The reporting on the destruction of western military equipment is intended to emphasize the extent to which Russia puts the Ukrainian army in its place. “That a leopard was destroyed – yes, that’s known,” says Munz. “By the way, the soldier who destroyed it got a million rubles. That’s the equivalent of around 11,000 euros as a reward,” says the correspondent.

Russia reports launch three drones in Muscovites region

12.45 p.m.: Russia says it shot down three drones in the Moscow region, at least two of them near a military base. The Russian Defense Ministry blamed Ukraine for the attacks on Wednesday. For its part, the Ukrainian Air Force reported the shooting down of six drones over western Ukraine, well behind the front lines.

The Russian Defense Ministry said its military had managed to thwart an attempted “terrorist attack by the Kiev regime on locations in the Moscow region.” All drones were “neutralized” with “electronic” defense systems, nobody was harmed.

The governor of the capital region, Andrei Vorobyov, had previously reported that two drone attacks on a military base around 50 kilometers southwest of Moscow had been foiled early in the morning. It was initially unclear whether the third drone was also targeting a military base.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Air Force reported nightly Russian airstrikes in the west of the country. Over the Khmelnytskyi region and thus hundreds of kilometers behind the front lines, the Ukrainian anti-aircraft guns intercepted six Iranian-made combat drones.

Drone strikes have skyrocketed since the start of a Ukrainian counter-offensive to retake Russian-held territory. The Russian border areas as well as more distant Russian military bases and energy infrastructure are also increasingly affected.

Expert explains how Ukraine could benefit from the dam breach

Wednesday, June 21, 9:49 a.m.: On June 6, the Kakhovka Dam in southern Ukraine was partially destroyed. As a result, large masses of water from the 18 billion cubic meter reservoir tore through the holes in the wall for hours and flooded the surrounding areas and settlements. In the days that followed, the lake lost around a third of the flood water that had accumulated in the spring, and the level is now below the measurable level.

On the one hand, the destruction of the dam has far-reaching consequences. Numerous villages are no longer habitable, islands and wetlands are flooded. There is also a risk of water shortage further north, as the Dnipro River carries less water upstream due to the reservoir flowing out to the north.

On the other hand, experts are also considering how Ukraine could benefit from the consequences of the event. After all, the Kakhovka dam is the southernmost of all six Dnipro dams, which stretch from Kiev to the Black Sea, and thus “the end of a whole chain of barrages,” explains Holger Schüttrumpf, director of the Institute for Hydraulic Engineering and Water Management at the RWTH Aachen, in the “n-tv” podcast “Learned something again”.

Because of this, the water could also be held back in the upper reservoirs. If the Zaporizhia dam, the last dam before Kakhovka, no longer lets water through, the riverbed between Zaporizhia and Kherson could dry up. Then it would be possible for the Ukrainian army to cross the river as part of their major offensive. The width of the river is already only 300 meters in some places instead of four kilometers before.

Military expert Thomas C. Theiner assumes in a Twitter post that the ground in the river bed is “dry enough for vehicles”. However, Schuttrump is skeptical about crossing the river with war equipment. “Usually you will find very loose, sometimes very muddy soil in these reservoirs,” says the water expert. “I can’t judge whether you can just get through there now, but it’s certainly rather questionable.” An eyewitness also reports on Twitter that the ground near the shore would sway “like a bad air mattress” when stepping on it. However, the shore area itself is already dry enough.

In the podcast “Ukraine – Die Lage”, Christian Mölling from the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP) rules out the possibility of military operations on southern Dnipro in the near future. He cited the risk of epidemics, the shelling by Russian forces and washed away mines in the affected area as reasons for this. Nevertheless, Ukraine is trying to take advantage of the situation in the longer term – when the river bed is dry enough to carry war equipment.

Jean Harris

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