Ukraine Monitor presents the latest news concerning internal and external matters of Ukraine – a unique country where the interests of the East and the West clash almost every day.
Date: 29 June 2023 Author: Grzegorz Kuczyński
Ukraine Claims It Has Seized Strategic Initiative
Ukraine claims it has seized the initiative at the front as it continues its counteroffensive, while Russia appears to be mired in confusion following a rebellion attempt by the Wagner Group. Valerii Zaluzhnyi, the commander in chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, said on social media that he had a telephone conversation with the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley. He reportedly told Milley that Ukrainian forces have “managed to seize the strategic initiative at the front and have been pushing forward.” That was confirmed by Ukrainian military personnel and the country’s deputy defense minister. Oleksiy Reznikov, Ukraine’s defense minister, said Ukraine has not yet deployed most of its forces.
The Ukrainian military is continuing its tactic that consists in exploiting vulnerabilities within the Russian army and damaging Moscow’s supply lines and resources. Three weeks into the long-awaited counteroffensive, Ukraine is continuing its march and capturing new swathes of territory. If Ukrainian military personnel, who generally say little about their army’s progress, are inclined to boast, the situation could be even worse for Russia than one might think. Gen. Mark A. Milley spoke with Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi on June 28 by phone. Ukrainian forces have “managed to seize the strategic initiative at the front and have been pushing forward,” he wrote immediately after the call. Ukrainian forces seem to be advancing rapidly toward the direction of Bakhmut, pushing the Russians from their positions south and north of the city, perhaps to eventually force them to retreat. There have been reports of Ukrainian progress between the provinces of Donbas and Zaporizhzhia. The abortive mutiny in Russia further complicated Russia’s standings. Moscow cannot deploy 20,000 Wagner mercenaries. now stationed in Luhansk province. Some might be relocated to Belarus, others seek to come back home, while the remaining Wagner fighters––once their army contracts are signed––must be assigned to appropriate units. In addition, a serious reshuffle of the Russian military is expected in the light of the Wagner uprising. Regardless of what is actually known and whether Gen. Surovikin was detained, that must have been a morale killer for the Russian army. The mercenaries’ downing of several aircraft is another embarrassment for Moscow. During their march toward Moscow, Wagner mercenaries shot down seven Russian aircraft, including two reconnaissance helicopters. One of Russia’s few IL-22M airborne command post aircraft was shot down during Wagner’s brief revolt, which could dramatically impact Russia’s air force command and coordination capabilities.
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