Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive actions on at least four sectors of the front on June 17. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and other Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted localized ground attacks west and south of Kreminna. Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar stated that Ukrainian forces continue counteroffensive operations near Bakhmut, and Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces attacked on the northern and southern outskirts of Bakhmut. The Russian MoD and other Russian sources also claimed that Russian forces repelled limited Ukrainian ground attacks on the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line. Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations south, southwest, and southeast of Velyka Novosilka near the administrative border between western Donetsk and eastern Zaporizhia oblasts. Ukrainian forces also conducted counteroffensive operations southwest and southeast of Orikhiv in western Zaporizhia Oblast. Malyar also stated that Ukrainian forces advanced up to two kilometers in multiple unspecified directions in southern Ukraine.
A delegation representing seven African states met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in St Petersburg on June 17, following a meeting with Ukrainian President Zelensky on June 16, to propose a generalized peace plan focused on resuming international trade. The Egyptian prime minister, a Ugadan presidential envoy, and the presidents of South Africa, Zambia, Comoros, the Republic of the Congo, and Senegal previously visited Kyiv and met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on June 16, and notably had to take shelter during Russian missile strikes targeting Kyiv. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa corrected his spokesperson’s earlier denials that Russian forces did not conduct attacks on Kyiv during the visit and acknowledged that “such activity does not bode well for establishing peace.” Ramaphosa presented a ten-point generalized peace plan on June 16 calling for an end to hostilities and a negotiated peace settlement that would respect sovereignty and establish security guarantees for both Ukraine and Russia. The proposal also calls for securing the movement of grain and fertilizers from both Ukraine and Russia and closer cooperation with African states. Zelensky reiterated that negotiations are only possible after the complete withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine and that Ukraine will not pursue negotiated settlements reminiscent of the Minsk Accords.
Putin stated that the Kremlin welcomes the African states’ “balanced” approach to resolving the war in Ukraine in his meeting with the delegation, but did not comment on the feasibility of Ramaphosa’s suggested peace plan. President of Comoros and current African Union Chairperson Azali Asoumani notably used language similar to the Kremlin’s preferred ”Russian world” rhetoric about the war in Ukraine while meeting with Putin, stating that stability in Eastern Europe, Africa, and the world depends on fraternal relationships between neighboring Slavic “friendly nations.” Asoumani also highlighted that peace in Ukraine is important for addressing international food and energy security. Asoumani’s comments and the peace plan’s inclusion of grain shipment guarantees suggest the states involved in the proposal view resolving the economic fallout from the war in Ukraine as their paramount concern. The delegation likely seeks to balance Ukraine and Russia to maintain longstanding bilateral relationships with Russia without fully tying themselves diplomatically to the Kremlin’s war.
The Kremlin will likely exploit this proposal to promote Russian information operations aiming to slow Western security assistance to Ukraine and has not demonstrated any intent to engage with any peace process meaningfully. ISW has previously assessed that the Kremlin has routinely signaled a false willingness to negotiate a settlement to the war to prompt Western concessions and dissuade Western officials from sending further support to Ukraine. The Kremlin previously intensified this effort to set conditions for its winter-spring 2023 offensive and is likely reamplifying this information operation in an effort to weaken Western support for Ukraine during counteroffensive operations. The Kremlin also used the equally vague peace plan presented by China in the spring of 2023 to amplify this information operation and has not yet attempted to expound upon the broad suggestions in that plan. The Kremlin instead attempted to use stated Chinese interest in negotiating a settlement to the war in Ukraine to pursue desired closer ties with China. The Kremlin will likely use the outreach by these African states to pursue strengthened bilateral and multilateral engagement.
The New York Times (NYT) released a report supporting ISW’s prior assessment that Russian forces most likely destroyed the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant (KHPP) dam. NYT cited multiple US and Ukrainian engineering experts who examined diagrams of the KHPP dam, imagery of the destroyed dam foundation, footage of the initial breach, and seismic data. The experts determined that the degree of damage to the dam’s internal structures is consistent with an explosion from within the dam’s internal structures rather than from prior damage. NYT also quoted a senior US military official as saying that the US ruled out an external attack, such as from a missile, rocket, or other projectile, as causing the explosion, and that the US believes that Russian forces most likely caused the internal explosion that caused the dam’s collapse. ISW has assessed since the destruction of the KHPP dam on June 6 that the preponderance of available evidence, reasoning, and rhetoric suggests that Russian forces deliberately damaged the dam.
- Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive actions on at least four sectors of the front.
- A delegation representing seven African states met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg following a meeting with Ukrainian President Zelensky on June 16 to propose a generalized peace plan focused on resuming international trade.
- The Kremlin will likely exploit this proposal to promote Russian information operations aiming to slow Western security assistance to Ukraine and has not demonstrated any intent to meaningfully engage with any peace process.
- Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin continued to signal his disinterest in formally subordinating the Wagner private military company (PMC) to the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD).
- The New York Times (NYT) released a report supporting ISW’s prior assessment that Russian forces most likely destroyed the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant (KHPP) dam.
- Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks on the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line, and Ukrainian forces reportedly conducted localized ground attacks west and south of Kreminna.
- Russian forces and Ukrainian forces continued limited attacks in the Bakhmut area and on the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line.
- Russian forces continued offensive operations near Vuhledar likely in response to Ukrainian territorial gains in the area on June 16.
- Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations near the administrative border between western Donetsk and eastern Zaporizhia oblasts.
- Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces intensified attacks in western Zaporizhia Oblast.
- The Kremlin continues efforts to gradually mobilize Russia’s defense industrial base (DIB).
- Russian officials are planning several infrastructure projects connecting occupied Zaporizhia Oblast to occupied Crimea, likely to secure new ground lines of communication (GLOCs) for the Russian grouping in southern Ukraine.