June 03, 2022
Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 3
June 3, 7:30 ET
Click here to see ISW's interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu claimed that Russian forces will “accelerate” the “special military operation” in Ukraine in a meeting with Chechen Leader Ramzan Kadyrov on June 3, though Russian forces are unlikely to be able to do so. Kadyrov said that Shoigu has “identified new tasks” that will improve the effectiveness of Russian offensive maneuvers and improve Russian tactics.[i] Kadyrov did not specify which tasks Russian forces will undertake to speed up their pace. Shoigu previously claimed on May 24 that Russian forces were making slow progress in eastern Ukraine to avoid civilian casualties.[ii] In a retrospective on the 100th day of the war, the UK Defense Ministry stated that Russian forces will likely establish control over Luhansk Oblast in the next two weeks, though only at significant further cost.[iii] The UK Defense Ministry further noted that Russian forces on all other axes have gone over to defensive operations to concentrate all available forces in Severodonetsk, and stated Russia will need to commit sizable investment of manpower and equipment—that it will be unable to generate quickly, if at all—to advance beyond Luhansk Oblast.
A Russian milblogger published a lengthy message on June 3 claiming that nearly the entire 35th Combined Arms Army has been destroyed in Izyum due to incompetent Russian commanders. A Russian milblogger under the pseudonym Boytsovyi Kot Murz said that Russian commanders did not account for combat challenges in the Izyum woods, leading to significant losses in the 64th and 38th Separate Guard Motor Rifle Brigades, which he reported now have less than 100 servicemen in total.[iv] Boytsovyi Kot Murz claimed that Russian commanders failed to provide necessary equipment to units fighting in wooded terrain and did not repair Russian heavy artillery in a timely manner. Russian forces also reportedly lacked effective communication with command centers and relied on messengers due to the shortage of encrypted phones. Boytsovyi Kot Murz noted that the lack of communications between Russian units and commanders allowed Ukrainian forces to strike Russian advanced positions with drones. Russian private military company servicemen from Wagner also refused to participate in combat, leading to a significant lack of advances on the Izyum axis. While ISW cannot independently confirm these reports, they are consistent with previous reports of Russian operations and high casualties on the Izyum axis.
Russian and proxy forces reportedly have not sufficiently prepared frontline units with medical supplies, leading to abysmal medical care. Boytsovyi Kot Murz criticized the Russian Defense Ministry for failing to prepare medical equipment and field hospitals for wounded servicemen.[v] Russian commanders reportedly failed to learn lessons from the lack of medical equipment during the Battle of Debaltseve in 2015 and are repeating similar mistakes. Boytsovyi Kot Murz claimed that Russian forces do not provide frontline troops with high pressure bandages and other supplies necessary to address limb injuries in time. Boytsovyi Kot Murz compared expired and underprepared Russian first aid kits to higher quality Ukrainian supplies and claimed that Russian forces do not have volunteer support that could address the shortages in military equipment. Boytsovyi Kot Murz noted that only Russian infantry, that he claimed has been defeated, had necessary medical training—while newly recruited reservists are incapable of providing first aid. Boytsovyi Kot Murz said that Russian medics are conducting an unnecessary number of limb amputations due to the lack medical equipment provided by the Russian Defense Ministry. These claims are consistent with past reports of poor Russian medical care in frontline units, and these conditions are likely a major contributing factor to Russian demoralization and the growing refusal of servicemen to return to frontline units.
Ukrainian forces report that Russian electronic warfare (EW) units are increasingly threatening Ukrainian air reconnaissance in eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian military officials reported that Russian forces are increasingly jamming all possible signals and hindering Ukrainian drone operations.[vi] The Ukrainian General Staff has previously reported that Russian forces intensified EW operations in Donbas, likely in an effort to obstruct Ukrainian aerial reconnaissance and drone strikes on Russian units.[vii]
- Russian forces conducted unsuccessful assaults southeast and southwest of Izyum and west of Lyman but remain unlikely to secure major advances towards Slovyansk.
- Russian forces made minor gains in the eastern part of Severodonetsk, but Ukrainian forces continues to launch localized counterattacks in Severodonetsk and its outskirts.
- Russian forces did not attempt to launch assaults on Avdiivka.
- Russian forces failed to regain lost positions in northeastern Kherson Oblast and continued to defend previously occupied positions.
- Russian occupation authorities began issuing Russian passports in Kherson City and Melitopol, though they continue to face challenges establishing societal control over occupied territories and ending Ukrainian partisan actions.
We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because those activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We will continue to evaluate and report on the effects of these criminal activities on the Ukrainian military and population and specifically on combat in Ukrainian urban areas. We utterly condemn these Russian violations of the laws of armed conflict, Geneva Conventions, and humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.
ISW has updated its assessment of the four primary efforts Russian forces are engaged in at this time. We have stopped coverage of Mariupol as a separate effort since the city’s fall. We had added a new section on activities in Russian-occupied areas:
- Main effort—Eastern Ukraine (comprised of one subordinate and three supporting efforts);
- Subordinate main effort- Encirclement of Ukrainian troops in the cauldron between Izyum and Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts
- Supporting effort 1—Kharkiv City;
- Supporting effort 2—Southern axis;
- Activities in Russian-occupied areas
Main Effort—Eastern Ukraine
Subordinate Main Effort—Southern Kharkiv, Donetsk, Luhansk Oblasts (Russian objective: Encircle Ukrainian forces in Eastern Ukraine and capture the entirety of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)
Russian forces attempted a series of unsuccessful assaults on Barvinkove (southwest of Izyum) and several settlements southeast of Izyum on June 3. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces attempted to resume an offensive operation towards Barvinkove but did not secure any gains.[viii] A Russian attack against Sviatohirsk, approximately 27km southeast of Izyum along the major road to Slovyansk, also failed.[ix] Ukrainian Defense Ministry Spokesperson Oleksandr Motuzyanyk reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian assaults on Bohorodychne and Dolyna, both located along the Izyum-Slovyansk highway, and Studenok, approximately 18km southeast of Izyum.[x] Russian forces likely attempted to assault Sviatohirsk from both the northwest from Izyum and east from Lyman, as the forward positions of Russian forces on the Lyman front in Bohorodychne are only 5km west of the settlement. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces are accumulating up to 20 battalion tactical groups (BTGs) in the Izyum area, but these units are highly unlikely to be fully staffed or equipped.[xi] Russian forces may be generating forces and renewing attacks towards Barvinkove, as opposed to continued stalled attacks directly towards Slovyansk from Izyum, in an attempt to bypass Ukrainian defenses. Russian forces are unlikely to make major gains on the Izyum front in the coming days, however.
Russian forces continued to carry out ground assaults in Severodonetsk with partial success on June 3. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted assaults on the eastern part of the city and achieved some unspecified successes.[xii] Russian forces attacking in Metolkine, just southeast of Severodonetsk, did not make any territorial gains and retreated to previously controlled positions.[xiii] Luhansk Oblast Administration Head Serhiy Haidai reported that Ukrainian defenders are conducting local counterattacks and retook several blocks in an unspecified location, though ISW cannot confirm the exact control of terrain within Severodonetsk and Russian forces likely control much of the city.[xiv] The Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) Ambassador to Russia, Rodion Miroshnik, claimed that Russian and LNR forces are conducting assaults on the outskirts of Severodonetsk and are advancing towards the Azot Chemical Plant to suppress any Ukrainian resistance, intentionally comparing it to the past Ukrainian defense of the Azovstal Steel Plant in Mariupol.[xv] A social media video also depicted Russian forces transporting pontoon bridge equipment to the Severodonetsk area to support future attempts to cross the Siverskyi Donetsk River and begin an assault on Lysychansk.[xvi] Russian forces also failed to take control of the eastern bank of the Siverskyi Donets River in continued assaults.[xvii] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that elements of the 1st and 2nd Army Corps (the armed forces of the DNR and LNR), the Russian 8th, 58th, and 5th Combined Arms Armies, the 90th Tank Division, and unspecified airborne troops area all committed to ongoing operations to capture Severodonetsk and Lysychansk.[xviii] These units are likely heavily degraded from earlier operations and operating without repalcements or rotations to rest frontline units after over three months of fighting.
Russian forces conducted several offensive operations towards Bakhmut, Soledar, and Lysychansk from Popasna, but did not secure any new territory.[xix] The Ukrainian General Staff claimed that unspecified elements of the 150th Motorized Rifle Division of the Combined Arms Army suffered up to 50% losses of personnel and equipment in Popasna, though this statement is unlikely to refer to the division as a whole.[xx] Russian forces did not conduct offensive operations west or east of Avdiivka.[xxi] A Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) commander claimed on Russian state television that Russian and DNR forces are slowly advancing near Avdiivka due to strong “Right Sector” resistance (a common Kremlin talking point claiming that any Ukrainian successes are due to actions by nationalist units) in the area.[xxii]
Supporting Effort #1—Kharkiv City (Russian objective: Withdraw forces to the north and defend ground lines of communication (GLOCs) to Izyum)
Russian forces continued to launch air strikes and fire artillery at Kharkiv City and northern Kharkiv Oblast on June 3.[xxiii] Russian military Telegram channel Swodki claimed that Russians forces are conducting an offensive operation against Fedorivka and Shestakove, approximately 30km east of Kharkiv City, but Ukrainian officials reported that Russian forces focused on defending their previously occupied positions.[xxiv] Ukrainian Defense Ministry Spokesperson Oleksandr Motuzyanyk reported that Ukrainian defenders continued to confront Russian units of the 6th Combined Arms Army, Baltic Fleet, and the Donetsk People’s Republic’s 1st Army Corps.[xxv]
Supporting Effort #2—Southern Axis (Objective: Defend Kherson and Zaporozhia Oblasts against Ukrainian counterattacks)
Russian forces unsuccessfully attempted to regain lost positions in northeastern Kherson Oblast, but largely focused on defending occupied positions throughout southern Ukraine. Dnipropetrovsk Oblast Council Chairman Mykola Lukashuk said that Ukrainian defenders repelled Russian assaults on settlements near the Kherson-Dnipropetrovsk Oblast border on June 3.[xxvi] Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command also stated that Russian forces unsuccessfully engaged in a skirmish in Lozove, a liberated settlement on the eastern Inhulets Riverbank and near the eastern Mykolaiv-Kherson Oblast border.[xxvii] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces are moving reserves to advanced positions and are intensifying air reconnaissance to prevent further Ukrainian counteroffensives in northeastern Kherson Oblast.[xxviii] Ukrainian counteroffensives in northeastern Kherson Oblast began in late May and have likely pushed Russian forces back to defensive positions on the eastern bank of the Inhulets River.[xxix]
Activity in Russian-occupied areas (Russian objective: consolidate administrative control of occupied areas; set conditions for potential annexation into the Russian Federation or some other future political arrangement of Moscow’s choosing)
Russian occupation authorities began distributing Russian passports in occupied Kherson and Zaporizhia Oblasts on June 3. Ukrainian and Russian sources reported that Russian occupation forces opened passport offices in Kherson City and Melitpol and a plan to open more centers throughout Zaporizhia Oblast.[xxx] Russian-appointed Crimean leader Sergey Aksyonov claimed that Crimea will assist in organizing passport centers in the newly occupied territories.[xxxi] Russian passportization efforts are prompting an increase in partisan activity in southern Ukraine. The Ukrainian Resistance Center reported that Ukrainian partisans called on Kherson citizens to burn down a passport center.[xxxii] Russian Telegram channels additionally reported that partisans are threatening civilians that have received Russian passports.[xxxiii]
The Kremlin is reportedly sending officials to administer Ukrainian agribusiness. Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar stated that Russian representatives from the Caucasus are relocating to Kherson Oblast to manage agricultural production in southern Ukraine.[xxxiv] The Ukrainian Embassy in Beirut said that Russia has already exported about 100,000 tons of Ukrainian wheat to Syria.[xxxv] The Russian Foreign Ministry claimed that Ukrainians used agricultural products to purchase Western military equipment, likely in an effort to justify Russian forces seizing Ukrainian businesses.[xxxvi] Russian occupation authorities continue to face challenges in establishing bureaucratic control over southern Ukraine. The Ukrainian Resistance Center reported that Russian occupation authorities are forced to bring “Russian specialists” to Zaporizhia Oblast because Ukrainians overwhelmingly refuse to cooperate with Russian forces. The Ukrainian Resistance Center added that these ”Russian specialists” will undergo regular rotations from their jobs in Russia to occupied territories.[xxxvii]
The Kremlin carried out measures to further assert permanent control over occupied Luhansk Oblast and economically link occupied Ukrainian territory to Russia itself at the local level. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin signed an agreement on trade, economic, scientific, technical and cultural cooperation between Moscow and Luhansk City with the Head of the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR), Leonid Pasechnik, on June 3.[xxxviii] ISW previously reported that officials in occupied Mariupol and St. Petersburg signed a similar pact on June 1.[xxxix] The Kremlin also opened a United Russia Party “humanitarian headquarters” in Popasna and sent representatives of the Russian Investigative Committee to Rubizhne.[xl]
[i] https://uz dot sputniknews.ru/20220603/shoygu-postavil-novye-zadachi-dlya-uskoreniya-spetsoperatsii-na-ukraine--kadyrov-24990056.html; https://t.me/swodki/108864
[iv] https://kenigtiger.livejournal.com/?utm_medium=endless_scroll; https://t.me/strelkovii/2640; https://twitter.com/GirkinGirkin/status/1532585152186130433/photo/1
[v] https://kenigtiger.livejournal.com/?utm_medium=endless_scroll; https://t.me/strelkovii/2640; https://twitter.com/GirkinGirkin/status/1532585152186130433/photo/1
[vii] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/330568765922875; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/327663802880038
[x] https://armyinform.com.ua/2022/06/03/operatyvna-sytuacziya-na-fronti-bryfing-rechnyka-ministerstva-oborony-ukrayiny-4/; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/331331722513246
[xix] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/331730485806703; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/331331722513246; https://t.me/luhanskaVTSA/3121
[xxi] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/331331722513246; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/331730485806703
[xxiv] https://t.me/swodki/108742; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/331730485806703; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/331331722513246; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/331730485806703
[xxxiv] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2022/06/03/okupanty-pereselyayut-na-hersonshhynu-predstavnykiv-kavkazkogo-regionu/
[xxxvii] https://sprotyv.mod.gov dot ua/2022/06/03/4294/