Explain Ukraine 13:30 18 Jun 2024

Russia-Ukraine war: News from the front line and politics 

Latest updates (as of mid-June, 2024) on the war brought to you by Rubryka.

May 2024 marked a change on the Ukrainian front line with a new Russian offensive in Ukraine's northeast, which Russian forces have tormented with bombings and drone and rocket attacks since the start of the full-scale war in 2022. Late May also brought another shift — the US and Germany lifted restrictions on the use of their weaponry supplied to Ukraine and allowed to strike military facilities on the Russian territory to protect the war-battered city of Kharkiv. Rubryka will share the latest Russia-Ukraine war front and political news as of mid-June and discuss a new milestone in Ukraine's relations with its G7 partners.

News from the front line

Russia-Ukraine war news: the front-line situation as of mid-June

Russia-Ukraine war news: the front-line situation as of mid-June. Screenshot from Deep State

Speaking at the Brussels press conference on the sidelines of a NATO defense ministers' meeting, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the Russian advance in Ukraine's northeastern Kharkiv region was slowing, and "that particular piece of the front" was stabilizing after the US and partners lifted restrictions on the use of Western weapons to strike Russian territory. "Now, I think we'll see incremental gains — and we'll see puts and takes — going forward," Mr. Austin added.

Since the game-changer decision, Ukrainian forces have regained lost positions north of Kharkiv. The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported on June 13, referring to geolocated footage, that Ukrainian soldiers conducted a counterattack near the village of Hlyboke and pushed the Russians out of part of the territory captured in the May 10 offensive. The Ukrainian General Staff said Russian troops continued to attack the city of Vovchansk, the town 74 km northeast of Kharkiv and just 5 km off the Russian border, by ground assaults and guided bombs.

Russian forces also continue offensive operations on the front line in the eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions, particularly near the cities of Kupiansk, Siversk, and Chasiv Yar. The ISW confirmed that while the Russians advanced south of Siversk, they made no gains near other attacked towns mentioned. However, satellite images showed that Russian forces seized the village of Novopokrovske, northwest of Avdiivka, which was on the front line since the first Russian invasion in 2014 until the Armed Forces of Ukraine retreated from the town to more favorable positions in February 2024. 

The Ukrainian General Staff noted in a June 14 report that the intensity of Russian attacks is the highest near Pokrovsk, the town 70 km northwest of Donetsk. Closer to Ukraine's south, in the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia regional border area, Russian troops intensified attacks west and southwest of Donetsk City. On the southern front in the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions, Russian forces continued ground attacks near the towns of Robotyne and Krynky. Ukrainian troops repelled all assaults. There were no confirmed changes to the southern front line.

Ukrainian rocket strikes in Crimea

Russia-Ukraine war news: consequences of Ukrainian strikes on Russian air defense in occupied Crimea

Russia-Ukraine war news: consequences of Ukrainian strikes on Russian air defense in occupied Crimea (June 11-12). Photo: CyberBoroshno/Defense Express

Since the partners' decision to allow Ukraine to strike the Russian territory, particularly the Belgorod oblast, which the Russian forces use as a base to launch rocket, drone, and artillery attacks on the northeastern Kharkiv region, Russia redeployed air defense systems from occupied Crimea to Belgorod, making the peninsula vulnerable to Ukrainian strikes, accordion to Atesh, a Ukrainian partisan movement.

Ukrainian armed forces have used the opportunity to target the remaining air defense on the peninsula. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukraine attacked one S-300 and two S-400 batteries near the occupied cities of Belbek and Sevastopol overnight from June 11 to 12. The ISW confirmed, citing satellite imagery north of Yevpatoria and south of Dzhankoi, that two S-300/S-400 Russian air defense systems were destroyed

"Ukrainian forces may be attempting to degrade Russian air defenses ahead of anticipated F-16 fighter jet deliveries to Ukraine, which reportedly will begin in small quantities in summer and fall 2024," the ISW experts said. They added that Ukrainian forces might be able to use fighter jets to support ground operations if they get enough planes, pilots receive proper training, and Russian air defenses are weakened.

Ukraine signs 10-year security agreements with US and Japan

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and US President Joe Biden

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and US President Joe Biden after signing the security agreement at the G7 Summit in Italy on June 13, 2024. Photo: Ukrainian President's Office

"Would we stand with Ukraine? Would we stand for sovereignty, freedom, and against tyranny? The United States, the G7, and countries around the world have consistently answered that question by saying yes, we will. We will say it again; we're going to stand with Ukraine," said US President Joe Biden after signing a 10-year bilateral security agreement with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at a joint press conference in Italy, currently hosting the Group of Seven (G7) Summit.

According to the "executive agreement" — meaning it's not binding to future presidents — the US commits to supporting Ukraine long-term with military and financial aid toward victory, recovery, and reform, bringing the war-torn country closer to NATO membership. The partners will expand cooperation in arms production, training, energy, and intelligence, ensuring that Ukraine can repel Russian aggression now and in the future.

G7 leaders, European Council President Charles Michel, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen

G7 leaders, European Council President Charles Michel, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen pose before the first meeting of a G7 summit in Italy. Photo: AFP

As Biden reiterated that the US would continue to assist Ukraine, Zelensky named the treaty "strong" and the signing day "truly historic" and alluded that the document contains "good provisions regarding weapons" for the Ukrainian defense, including the Patriot systems and fighter jets. He expressed confidence that future US presidents would keep up Ukraine support.

Ukraine also signed a 10-year security agreement with Japan, which will provide Ukraine with $4.5 billion in 2024. Zelensky lauded this treaty as a historic breakthrough and stated that Japan would continue security and defense assistance, deliver humanitarian aid, and financially support reconstruction. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said the G7 leaders agreed to send Ukraine the $50 billion aid package by 2025, which they will fund from profits on frozen Russian assets.

Russian war crimes

Ukrainians in a bomb shelter in Mariupol, Ukraine

Ukrainians in a bomb shelter in Mariupol, Ukraine, March 6, 2022. Photo: Yevhenii Maloletka/AP

Global Rights Compliance, a human rights organization, published a 76-page report by the lawyer group Starvation Mobile Justice Team, providing evidence that Russian forces intentionally used starvation of civilians as a tactic in the 2022 siege of Mariupol, a Ukrainian port city on the Sea of Azov. The dossier found Russian troops "systematically attacked objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population" during the 85 days of hostilities to occupy the city, killing as many as 22,000 civilians, according to estimates of the local authorities.

In the report "'The Hope Left Us:' Russia's Siege, Starvation, and Capture of Mariupol City," lawyers describe that Ukrainian civilians were cut off from access to food, water, energy, and healthcare, and evacuation and humanitarian aid supplies were blocked. Russian forces turned "peaceful" Mariupol into "hell on earth" in February 2022 and eventually occupied it in May of the same year. Deliberately causing starvation is a war crime under international law. The organization is submitting its latest report to the International Criminal Court (ICC) as part of a larger case on Russia's use of starvation.


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