Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations in least four areas of the front on June 9. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that Russian forces repelled limited and localized Ukrainian ground attacks in the Kreminna area. Ukrainian officials stated on June 9 that Ukrainian forces advanced 1.2 kilometers in continued offensive operations near Bakhmut on June 8. Ukrainian forces continued limited counteroffensive operations in western Donetsk Oblast near the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border on June 9, and made tactical gains in the area. Ukrainian forces also continued ground attacks in western Zaporizhia Oblast overnight from June 8 to 9 and during the day on June 9, and a Russian source suggested that Ukrainian forces made incremental gains during the attacks.
Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledged on June 9 that the Ukrainian counteroffensive recently began and noted that Ukrainian forces still have offensive potential, a departure from previous Kremlin efforts to downplay Ukrainian counteroffensives. Putin stated that fighting has been ongoing for five days and claimed that Ukrainian forces “did not reach their aims in any area of combat” after committing “strategic reserves.” Putin claimed that Ukrainian forces suffered significant losses and attributed Russian successes to superior Russian military equipment and personnel. Putin added that the Russian military command is “realistically” assessing the current situation and “will proceed from these realities.” Putin’s discussion of the Ukrainian counteroffensive is a notable departure from his previous distanced approach to discussing battlefield realities and may indicate that the Kremlin is learning from its previous failed approach to rhetorically downplay successful Ukrainian counteroffensives in 2022. ISW previously reported on May 2 that the Kremlin reportedly adopted a new information policy directing officials to not downplay the prospects of a Ukrainian counteroffensive and focus on the Russian fight against Western-provided weapon systems.
Contrarily, much of the Russian information space prematurely claimed that the Ukrainian counteroffensive has failed after Russian forces damaged more Western-provided Ukrainian military equipment on June 9. Battlefield footage shows damaged or destroyed Western-provided infantry fighting vehicles and tanks in western Zaporizhia Oblast, though the number of Ukrainian vehicles several Russian sources claimed Russian forces destroyed are highly inflated. Ukrainian forces previously lost military equipment in the same location on June 8. Some prominent Russian ultranationalists claimed that damaged or destroyed Western-provided equipment indicated that Ukrainian forces failed to launch a large-scale counteroffensive. Russian nationalists are widely celebrating the 58th Combined Arms Army (Southern Military District), despite Russian forces only executing basic defensive operations that should not be so unusual as to deserve wide praise. One Kremlin-affiliated milblogger claimed that Ukrainian offensive activity is in the decline, while a retired Russian general expressed gratitude to elements of the Russian 58th Combined Arms Army and proclaimed these elements as heroes despite battles continuing along different frontlines. Another Russian milblogger claimed that a counteroffensive can only last up to 10 to 15 days, implying that Ukrainian counteroffensive will soon culminate. However, other ultranationalists warned that Ukrainian forces have not yet carried out the main offensive and noted that Russian forces are reinforcing the second echelon in anticipation of Ukrainian breakthroughs. A Wagner-affiliated milblogger condemned the excessive enthusiasm around the destruction of Ukrainian military equipment, noting that Western kit is not “some kind of magic.” Many Russian ultranationalists appear to be overcorrecting for their previous fears of the Ukrainian counteroffensive.
- Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations in at least four areas of the front on June 9, making further gains around Bakhmut and in Western Donetsk.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledged on June 9 that the Ukrainian counteroffensive recently began and noted that Ukrainian forces still have offensive potential, a departure from previous Kremlin efforts to downplay Ukrainian counteroffensives.
- Contrarily, much of the Russian information space prematurely claimed that the Ukrainian counteroffensive has failed after Russian forces damaged more Western-provided Ukrainian military equipment on June 9.
- Ukrainian officials directly acknowledged that Ukrainian forces expect to suffer equipment losses during counteroffensive operations.
- The Russian command structure responsible for areas of southern Ukraine is unclear and likely overlapping.
- Russian forces carried out missile and drone strikes across Ukraine on the night of June 8 to 9.
- Several independent sources reported additional evidence that an internal explosion likely destroyed the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant (KHPP) dam on June 6.
- The White House revealed on June 9 that Iran is helping Russia build a drone manufacturing factory in Yelabuga, Republic of Tatarstan, Russia, underscoring the growing military cooperation between Tehran and Moscow despite Western sanctions.
- Chief of the Russian General Staff Army General Valery Gerasimov discussed increasing Russian-Chinese military cooperation with Chinese Central Military Commission (CMC) Joint Staff Department Chief of Staff Liu Zhenli on June 9.
- Russian and Ukrainian forces conducted limited and localized ground attacks south of Kreminna.
- Russian forces continued ground attacks near Bakhmut and on the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line.
- Ukrainian forces continued limited ground attacks on the administrative border between Donetsk and Zaporizhia oblasts and in western Zaporizhia Oblast.
- Russia continues to evade international sanctions and has reportedly restored access to key Western microchips and electronics that Russia needs to produce military equipment.
- A Ukrainian report states that Russian authorities may be preparing evacuations from northern Crimea.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on June 9 that Russia will begin deploying tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus in July 2023, and this is not an escalation from Putin’s prior nuclear weapons rhetoric.