24 June 2022: Here are the key takeaways from this evening’s Ukraine update from the Institute for the Study of War, where I am on the Board.
— Ukrainian officials ordered a controlled withdrawal of troops from Severodonetsk on June 24. Luhansk Oblast Administration Head Serhiy Haidai announced that Ukrainian forces are withdrawing from “broken positions” in Severodonetsk to prevent further personnel losses and maintain a stronger defense elsewhere. Severodonetsk Regional Military Administration Head Roman Vlasenko stated that several Ukrainian units remain in Severodonetsk as of June 24, but Ukrainian forces will complete the full withdrawal in “a few days.”
— Ukrainian forces will likely maintain their defenses around Lysychansk and continue to try to exhaust Russian troops after the fall of Severodonetsk. Ukrainian forces will occupy higher ground in Lysychansk, which may allow them to repel Russian attacks for some time if the Russians are unable to encircle or isolate them. Russian forces in Severodonetsk will also need to complete river crossings from the east, which will require additional time and effort.
— Russian forces have successfully secured access to Ukrainian lines of communication along the Hirske-Lysychansk highway by breaking through Hirske on June 24, but Russian forces will need to cut Ukrainian logistics routes from Bakhmut and Siversk to fully isolate Lysychansk. Ukrainian forces will likely conduct a deliberate withdrawal from Lysychansk if Russian forces threaten Ukrainian strongholds in the area.
— Ukrainian intelligence warned that Russian forces will carry out false-flag attacks in Belarus to draw Belarusian forces into the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Ukrainian Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported that Russian sabotage groups and mercenaries arrived in Mozyr, Belarus, to detonate apartment buildings and civilian infrastructure around the city.
— Unidentified assailants resumed attacks against Russian military recruitment centers on June 24, indicating intensifying discontent with covert mobilization. Russian outlet Baza reported two incidents where unknown attackers threw Molotov Cocktails at military recruitment offices in Belgorod City and Perm on June 24.
— Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations west of Izyum and north of Slovyansk. Russian forces will likely prioritize encircling Ukrainian troops in Lysychansk and interdicting remaining lines of communication northwest of the city before resuming a full-scale offensive operation on Slovyansk.
— Ukrainian forces are continuing to launch counteroffensive operations along the Kherson-Dnipropetrovsk Oblast border and are threatening Russian forces in Kherson City. (This is an operation on which to focus in the days ahead.)
— Ukrainian partisans continued to attack Russian collaborators in Kherson City.