And we’re back. Though I’m still feeling bleh – seasonal allergy season is horrid this year and has my sinuses all worked up and yes, I am irrigating my sinuses with saline solution twice a day – so we’re going to just run the basics and touch on the increase in partisan activity in Kherson. And then I’m going to bed!
Here’s President Zelenskyy’s address from earlier this evening. Video below, English transcript after the jump. (emphasis mine)
Good health to you, fellow Ukrainians!
Today was a day of extremely active foreign policy activity – almost a marathon of phone conversations. We are increasing the number of those who stand for Ukraine’s candidacy and adding confidence that the decision on Friday will be positive.
Slovakia. In a conversation with Prime Minister Heger, we coordinated our positions on the eve of the session of the European Council.
Lithuania. I thanked President Nausėda for the decision of the Three Seas Initiative Summit to grant Ukraine the status of a partner-participant. We also coordinated our steps.
Hungary. There was a very fruitful conversation with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. I invited him to visit Ukraine and thanked him for the important support for our sovereignty and territorial integrity of our state. We agreed to develop cooperation in the energy sector.
Portugal. We agreed with Prime Minister António Costa to involve his country’s experience in our rapprochement with the European Union.
Next – Denmark. I expressed gratitude for supporting Ukraine, including with weapons. I also noted the speech of Mrs. Frederiksen in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, which took place today.
Spain. In a conversation with Prime Minister Sánchez I noted that our cooperation would strengthen both Ukraine and the entire European Union. The possible outcome of the NATO Summit in Madrid, which will take place in late June, was discussed.
Ireland. I noted Ireland’s active support for our European integration and invited Irish Prime Minister Martin to visit Ukraine.
Croatia. I am confident that we can expand our cooperation both bilaterally and at the level of European structures. I thanked Prime Minister Plenković for his support of Ukraine.
I was happy to see in Kyiv a great friend of our state – Prime Minister of Luxembourg Bettel. And I would like to draw your attention once again to the assistance from Luxembourg. 15% of the defense budget of this state – this was a contribution to the defense of Ukraine. Both the greatness and the nobility of the state are immediately felt.
Today, Mr. Bettel visited the cities of the Kyiv region that had been liberated from the occupiers. I am grateful to him for his sincere understanding of our people and for Luxembourg’s readiness to take part in the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine.
My schedule for tomorrow is as busy as today. I will do my best to ensure that the historic decision of the European Union is adopted. This is important for us.
By the way, today, without delay, I signed the law on ratification of the Istanbul Convention adopted yesterday. Protecting all people from violence and discrimination is our principle.
In all negotiations, I always emphasize that the seventh package of the European Union sanctions is needed as soon as possible. Russia must feel a constant increase in pressure for the war and for its aggressive anti-European policy. Another Russian threat to Lithuania, another wave of energy pressure, another batch of lies from Russian officials about the food crisis are all arguments to agree on the seventh package of sanctions.
The situation on the frontline is without significant changes. With the help of tactical moves, the Ukrainian army is strengthening its defense in the Luhansk region, which is really the toughest area right now. The occupiers are also putting serious pressure on the Donetsk direction. In the Kharkiv region there is brutal and cynical Russian artillery shelling. It will not give anything to the occupiers, but the Russian army is deaf to any rationality. It simply destroys, simply kills – in this way it shows its command that it is not standing still. In the south we defend our Mykolaiv region, our Zaporizhzhia, and gradually liberate the Kherson region.
And just as actively as we fight for a positive decision of the European Union on the candidacy for Ukraine, we fight every day for the supply of modern weapons for our country. We do not decrease our activity for a single day. The lives of thousands of people depend directly on the speed of our partners – on the speed of implementation of their decisions to help Ukraine.
Today I signed two major decrees on awarding our defenders. At the request of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, 210 combatants were awarded, 3 of them posthumously. At the request of the Minister of Internal Affairs, 255 warriors of the National Guard of Ukraine were awarded, 41 of them posthumously, 41 border guards, 12 of them posthumously, and 45 policemen.
And I want you to realize that when I talk about signing such decrees, it’s not just a routine and not something mechanical. It is only thanks to the mass courage and wisdom of our people on the battlefield that Ukraine lives and can really count on victory.
Eternal glory to all who fight for our state!
Eternal memory to all who gave lives for Ukraine!
Glory to Ukraine!
A lot of this week’s focus for Ukraine, in addition to what is happening on the battlefield, is going to be on the vote on EU candidate status. One of the reasons that the Ukrainian government pushed the ratification of the Istanbul Convention through the Verkhovna Rada was to remove the issue as a potential impediment to being granted candidate status.
For those wondering, the Istanbul Convention is more properly called the Council of Europe Convention On Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence. The full English text can be found at this link. As defined in Article 1 of the convention, its purpose is to:
Article 1 – Purposes of the Convention
1 The purposes of this Convention are to:
a protect women against all forms of violence, and prevent, prosecute and eliminate
violence against women and domestic violence;
b contribute to the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and promote
substantive equality between women and men, including by empowering women;
c design a comprehensive framework, policies and measures for the protection of and
assistance to all victims of violence against women and domestic violence;
d promote international co-operation with a view to eliminating violence against women
and domestic violence;
e provide support and assistance to organisations and law enforcement agencies to
effectively co-operate in order to adopt an integrated approach to eliminating violence
against women and domestic violence.
2 In order to ensure effective implementation of its provisions by the Parties, this Convention
establishes a specific monitoring mechanism.
Article 2 – Scope of the Convention
1 This Convention shall apply to all forms of violence against women, including domestic
violence, which affects women disproportionately.
2 Parties are encouraged to apply this Convention to all victims of domestic violence. Parties
shall pay particular attention to women victims of gender-based violence in implementing the
provisions of this Convention.
3 This Convention shall apply in times of peace and in situations of armed conflict
Ukraine’s MOD posted an operational update today! (emphasis mine)
The operational update regarding the russian invasion on 18.00 on June 21, 2022
The one hundred eighteenth (118) day of the heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people to a russian military invasion continues.
No significant changes in the activities of units of the Armed Forces of the republic of belarus have been recorded in the Volyn and Polissya areas. The threat of missile strikes from the territory of this country remains.
In the Siversky direction, the enemy continues the engineering equipment of the border areas and mining. He fired mortars and artillery at the settlements of Seredyna-Buda, Myropillya, Yunakivka, Sumy oblast, and Hremyach in the Chernihiv oblast.
In the Kharkiv direction, the enemy conducted air reconnaissance in the areas of the settlements of Ruska Lozova, Cherkaska Lozova and Pytomnyk. Artillery shelling was recorded near Kharkiv, Peremoha, Verkhnyi Saltiv, Staryi Saltiv, Chepil, Rubizhne and Stara Hnylytsia. In addition, MLRS was used in the districts of Korobochkine, Mospanove and Kutuzivka.
In the Slovyansk direction, the enemy focuses its main efforts on maintaining previously occupied positions, conducting defense.
Artillery shelling was recorded in the areas of the settlements of Bohorodichne, Velyka Komyshuvakha, Hrushuvakha, Dolyna, Petrivske, Zavhorodne, Protopopivka, Pryshyb, Karnaukhivka, Vernopillya, Chervone, Dovhenke and Krasnopillya. The occupiers launched an air strike near Dibrivne.
In the Donetsk direction, the enemy regrouped in order to strengthen for further action in the Bakhmut direction. In addition, the formation of consolidated units was identified.
Thus, in connection with significant losses, the reorganization of two battalion tactical groups from the units of the 5th Combined Arms Army, which lost their combat capability, into one consolidated BTGr was noted. Also, according to available information, the enemy brought units of the 1st Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade of the 1st Army Corps to restore combat capability.
In the Kramatorsk direction, the enemy did not take active action, firing at the positions of our troops with mortars, barrel and jet artillery in the areas of Donetsk, Starodubivka, Mykolaivka and Pryshib.
Fighting continues in the Siverodonetsk direction in the city of Siverodonetsk.
The enemy fired from tanks and artillery near Siverodonetsk, Lysychansk, Voronovo, Myrna Dolyna and Hirske.
The Ukrainian soldiers competently repulsed the enemy’s reconnaissance attempt by fighting in the directions of Metolkine-Voronovo and Metolkine-Sirotyne. The enemy retreated.
The occupiers are consolidating in the settlement of Ustynivka, are conducting an offensive in the direction of Bila Hora, have partial success, and hostilities continue.
In the direction of Toshkivka – Pidlisne, the enemy captured the settlements of Pidlisne and Myrna Dolyna, consolidated on the occupied frontiers. Also, has partial success in the area of the settlement of Hirske.
The Ukrainian soldiers successfully repulsed the assault in the direction of Vysoke.
In the Bakhmut direction, the enemy fired on the areas of Berestove and Komyshuvakha. It led the offensive in the direction of Aleksandropil – Komyshuvakha. It was unsuccessful, he left.
The enemy did not take active action in the Avdiivka, Novopavlivka and Zaporizhzhia areas. It fired on the territories near Krasnohorivka, Hostre, Novoandriyivka, Huliaipilske and Novosilka.
In the direction of the South Buh, the enemy, in order to deplete the personnel and destroy the fortifications, carried out fire on the positions of our troops and conducted air reconnaissance of UAVs.
We believe in the Armed Forces of Ukraine! Together to victory!
Glory to Ukraine!
There’s something interesting in this operational updates and the few others the Ukrainian MOD has posted over the past two weeks: not a lot of mention of the Ukrainian counterattack in Kherson. I covered that a counteroffensive had begun in the update on 11 June, but have seen very little new coverage of it in news sources. This was the only reference to Kherson in the Ukrainian MOD’s operational update on 19 JUN, which posted after I did the update here and would’ve included last night had I not taken it off:
russian occupiers are stepping up the air defense system in the temporarily occupied territory of the Kherson region.
What I have been seeing, however, is references to and reporting of an increase in partisan underground activity in Kherson directed at the Russian occupiers and Ukrainian collaborators. Such as:
The surviving soldier has been hospitalized in Russian-occupied Crimea, the command reported.
— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) June 20, 2022
And The Telegraph reported on 19 Jun about some of these partisan attacks:
Kremlin-controlled puppet government claims attacks are disrupting peace in the city by ‘terrorising its residents
Ukrainian rebels attempted to assassinate a local prison boss in Russian-held Kherson, the city’s puppet government has said.
Ukrainian media reported on Saturday that Yevhen Sobolev, who heads a prison in Kherson, was injured when a bomb attached to a tree went off as he parked his car.
A video posted on Saturday showed Mr Sobolev’s white luxury car mangled from an explosion that was so powerful, it caused the windows of a nearby apartment block to shatter.
The only other real references to the actual Kherson counteroffensive, as opposed to an increase in partisan activity, that I’ve seen from reliable, verifiable sources are in these two twitter threads:
Ukrainian army is further advancing in Kherson region, pushing Russians back with some positions of about 10-12 km north-west from Kherson. Russian are not able to stop Ukrainians there. I do not tweet details, as there is enough detailed reports, just this general info. Big news
— Sergej Sumlenny (@sumlenny) June 18, 2022
- Russians effectively need to chose, if they want to hold Kherson or to advance in Donbas. They have probably chosen the latter, but I am not sure they are capable to achieve this goal. In Donbas they through into fight forcibly conscripted Ukrainians from “LDNR and old tanks.
- For me, the situation is already beyond the turning point, with no chances for Russia to win. Still, the fight will be tough, Russians still have manpower and equipment, and Ukrainians remain massively outgunned. That is why Ukraine needs tons of arms asap, this will save lives.
Whilst everyone has been talking about the Donbas, something much more significant has been happening in the South.
The Ukrainians are mounting a counter-attack towards Kherson. This has been going on for about three weeks. pic.twitter.com/7NUQh520LK
— Dr Mike Martin 🔶 (@ThreshedThought) June 18, 2022
This is a map heavy thread, so you really need to clock through. But I will copy and paste these tweets as I think they help explain why there’s little news coming out about the Kherson counteroffensive in the news media:
I’ll come to that in a bit, but first I want to make some assessments about why everyone is going on about Donbas.
Firstly, it is where Putin has declared his objectives to lie – taking the whole of the Donbas is the Kremlin’s recently downsized objective in this war.
Secondly, the Ukrainians have hyped it to the max and are using it as a lever to drag more weapons out of the West (“this is where the future of Ukraine will be determined” etc – if only you would give us some more rockets). TBF I’d be doing exactly the same thing if I were them
Thirdly, there are loads of reporters there, like bees around a honeypot. They’ve been in the Donbas ever since Putin announced it as his goal Previously they were in Kyiv, but then moved We get a distorted view of the whole conflict, because of the density of reporters there.
Fourthly – there is a significant loss of life occurring there, both of Russian and of Ukrainian troops. Who knows how many, but maybe 150 a day each? Understandably this drives media attention.
But as I’ve said previously – the south is where the real strategic play is – around Kherson. Why?
Click across to read the rest because you really need to see the maps for the analysis to make sense.
I suspect that the reports of increased partisan underground activity in occupied Kherson, as well as other Russian occupied parts of Ukraine, are part of a hybrid strategy. The first part is the war that is being reported on: primarily conventional Ukrainian forces plus the Territorial Defenders and the various International Legion elements attacking the Russian military along that very long line of engagement that winds from the east all the way around to the south. The second part is the use of Ukrainian partisans, most likely in coordination with/being coordinated by Ukrainian Special Operations and Military Intelligence carrying out partisan attacks on the Russian occupiers and Ukrainian collaborators behind the lines. If this is the case, and I’m relatively certain – as in I’m a well informed professional observer looking at it from the outside with no specific insider knowledge – that the Ukrainians are basically hitting the Russians on the battlefield, as well as coming, going, and where they’re living in occupied Ukraine. The purpose of this type of hybrid strategy is to make it so the Russians do not feel safe at the front. They shouldn’t feel safe in the rear. They should not feel safe in a house. Or with a mouse. On a plane or in a train. They should not feel safe anywhere!
I expect the partisan guerilla activity to continue and increase.
Here’s the British MOD’s assessment for today:
And here’s their updated map for today too:
As you can see, at the macro level, there’s still not a lot of movement in the overall sense.
Here’s former NAVSECGRU Squadron Commander Chuck Pfarrer’s most recent analysis and updated map of the battle for Sievierodonetsk:
SIEVRODONETSK: /2250 UTC 21 JUN/ It appears that RU units may have reached the Donets River at Pavohrad. A tactical withdraw by UKR forces becomes increasingly likely, with a new defensive position established on the west banks of the Donets. pic.twitter.com/LLjtK3DBSL
— Chuck Pfarrer (@ChuckPfarrer) June 21, 2022
I know everyone is jonesing for more hot logistics information and analysis, but I’m going to hold off for now as I want to go lie down!
But first, your daily Patron!!!!
Here’s a lovely painting of Patron posted by the Ukrainian artist AIZIK:
Patron the bomb-sniffing dog
RT to bless your timeline pic.twitter.com/wWW0dwQf6Z
— AIZIK💙💛 (@aizctxt) June 21, 2022
And a video from Patron’s TikTok page: