June 8, 2024

Institute for the study of War:  Russian forces advance north of Karkhiv city

Institute for the Study of War

The Russian military command is reportedly transferring an unspecified number of forces to the Ukrainian-Russian border area near Kharkiv Oblast, but it is unclear if the Russian military command plans to immediately commit these redeployed forces to combat or use them to reinforce the Northern Grouping of Forces to bring it closer to its reported planned end strength. Chechen Akhmat Spetsnaz Commander Apty Alaudinov claimed in an interview with Russian state media outlet RT on June 8 that Russian authorities decided to transfer elements of the Akhmat Spetsnaz to the Kharkiv direction from unspecified areas at the end of May 2024. Alaudinov claimed that the “Kashtan” detachment, formerly known as Akhmat “Kamerton” detachment and renamed after its new commander, is operating in the Kharkiv direction. Ukrainian Khortytsia Group of Forces Spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Nazar Voloshyn stated on June 8 that Akhmat forces are serving as blocking units – specialized disciplinary units that fire upon friendly forces if they engage in an unauthorized retreat – in the international border area, and it is possible that the Russian military command transferred Akhmat forces to the area solely for this purpose and not to conduct offensive operations. Voloshyn also stated that the Russian military command is increasing the Russian force grouping near the border area by transferring elements of unspecified regiments and brigades from other sectors of the front, including from occupied Kherson Oblast. Voloshyn stated that the Russian military command intends to commit unspecified airborne (VDV) elements and additional elements of the 11th and 44th Army Corps (both of the Leningrad Military District [LMD]) to offensive operations in unspecified areas of the border area. Elements of the 11th and 44th Army Corps have been conducting offensive operations in northern Kharkiv Oblast, and a battalion of the 98th VDV Division is reportedly operating in a border area in Kursk Oblast. The Ukrainian Resistance Center stated on June 8 that the Russian military command is redeploying unspecified units and drone operators from the Kherson direction to the Kharkiv direction. Russian forces reportedly had roughly 35,000 personnel in the international border area as a part of the Northern Grouping of Forces when they started offensive operations on May 10, whereas Ukrainian sources have indicated that the Russian military initially sought to concentrate at least 50,000 to 70,000 personnel in the international border area as of early May. It is unclear whether Russian forces have altered the planned end strength of the Northern Grouping of Forces since launching the offensive operation into northern Kharkiv Oblast on May 10. A Russian milblogger claimed on June 6 that the Russian military command has only committed about 15,000 personnel to the offensive operation in northern Kharkiv Oblast.

Ukrainian forces conducted a drone strike against a Russian military airfield in the North Ossetia-Alania Republic on the night of June 7 to 8. Ukrainian outlet Suspilne reported on June 8 that its sources in the Ukrainian special services stated that Ukraine’s Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) conducted a drone strike against an airfield in North Ossetia on the night of June 7 to 8. Geolocated footage published on June 8 shows a drone targeting the Mozdok Airbase followed by a rising smoke plume. North Ossetia-Alania Republic Head Sergei Menyaylo claimed that Russian forces shot down three drones targeting a military airfield in Mozdok and that unspecified objects sustained minor damage and caught fire. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that Russian forces destroyed a drone over the North Ossetia-Alania Republic on the morning of June 8. A Russian milblogger amplified footage of Russian forces reportedly shooting down a drone near oil infrastructure in Nogai Raion, Republic of Dagestan, but ISW has not observed further evidence of Ukrainian drone strikes in the area. One Russian milblogger, however, claimed that a number of sources “erroneously” reported the strike near the Mozdok airfield as a strike against the oil field in Nogai Raion.

US President Joe Biden met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Paris on June 7. Biden and Zelensky discussed the battlefield situation, Ukraine’s defensive capabilities, preparations to finalize a US-Ukraine bilateral security agreement, and the upcoming Ukraine peace conference in Switzerland. Biden apologized for the delay in US security assistance to Ukraine and reiterated US support for Ukraine against Russian aggression. Zelensky emphasized that Ukraine needs more security assistance to strengthen its defense of Kharkiv Oblast and that Ukraine needs more opportunities to strike military targets in Russia to protect against Russian aggression from across the international border. ISW continues to assess that the delays in US security assistance to Ukraine have severely constrained Ukrainian defensive capabilities in recent months and emboldened Russian forces to launch and make tactically significant gains in their new offensive operation in northern Kharkiv Oblast and double down on operations elsewhere in the theater.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Russian military command is reportedly transferring an unspecified number of forces to the Ukrainian-Russian border area near Kharkiv Oblast, but it is unclear if the Russian military command plans to immediately commit these redeployed forces to combat or use them to reinforce the Northern Grouping of Forces to bring it closer to its reported planned end strength.
  • Ukrainian military observer Kostyantyn Mashovets noted on June 8 that a fraction of the reported 30,000 personnel that Russia generates each month arrives at the front as combat force replacements and reinforcements and that Russian force generation efforts have allowed Russian forces to establish only limited operational and strategic reserves.

  • Ukrainian forces conducted a drone strike against a Russian military airfield in the North Ossetia-Alania Republic on the night of June 7 to 8.
  • Russian strikes have caused widespread damage to Ukraine’s energy grid, and Ukraine will continue to face serious constraints on power generation capacity.
  • US President Joe Biden met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Paris on June 7.
  • Longtime Russian Central Bank Head Elvira Nabiullina is reportedly a balancing force among Russian President Vladimir Putin’s economic advisors despite pressure for Russian officials to unequivocally support the long-term war effort in Ukraine.
  • Ukraine’s Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) and Russian opposition outlets reported that unspecified actors attempted to assassinate the former Russian occupation mayor of Kupyansk, Kharkiv Oblast, Hennadiy Matsehora in Stary Oskol, Belgorod Oblast on June 7.
  • Russian forces recently advanced north of Kharkiv City, southeast of Kupyansk, within easternmost Chasiv Yar, northwest of Avdiivka, and southwest of Donetsk City.
  • Russian actors are using video appeals from Russian servicemen to refute reports of high Russian losses in northern Kharkiv Oblast.

For full report:  https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-june-8-2024  

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