Ukrainian forces conducted counteroffensive operations on at least three sectors of the front on July 9. Ukrainian Ground Forces Commander Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi stated that Ukrainian forces successfully continue to advance in the Bakhmut direction. Ukrainian officials reported that Ukrainian forces continued to conduct counteroffensive operations in the Berdyansk and Melitopol directions. The Russian Ministry of Defense and Kremlin-affiliated milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted attacks in western Zaporizhia Oblast. A Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces are attacking Russian positions in small groups and are targeting Russian rear positions, warehouses, and infrastructure. Ukrainian military officials also reiterated that Ukrainian forces are continuing their interdiction campaigns in southern and eastern Ukraine.
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that Ukrainian forces are attempting to soften Russian defenses before liberating territory, accepting a slower pace of advance. The WSJ also reported that Ukrainian forces are focusing on dislodging Russian forces from fortifications and minefields, which are over 24km deep in some areas of Russian occupied territory. Lieutenant Colonel Oleksiy Telehin of Ukraine’s 108th Territorial Defense Brigade told the WSJ that Russian forces are continually able to bring in replacements even if Ukrainian forces destroy entire units. ISW has assessed that Russian forces lack operational reserves. Telehin’s statement likely refers to locally available tactical reserves. Another unit commander in the 108th Territorial Defense Brigade stated that the shortage of armored vehicles makes it difficult for Ukrainian forces to advance on well-prepared positions. WSJ sources also cited the lack of Ukrainian air superiority as one of the factors slowing down Ukrainian counteroffensives. ISW continues to assess that the current pace of the Ukrainian counteroffensive is reflective of a deliberate effort to conserve Ukrainian combat power and attrit Russian manpower and equipment at the cost of slower territorial advances.
US President Joe Biden stated that Ukraine cannot join NATO until Russia’s war in Ukraine is over. Biden told CNN on July 9 that it is premature to vote on Ukraine’s NATO membership and that the alliance should “lay out a rational path for Ukraine to be able to qualify to be able to get into NATO.” Biden’s statement follows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s July 7 statement that Ukraine “deserves NATO membership” and precedes the NATO summit in Vilnius on July 11 and July 12.
- Ukrainian forces conducted counteroffensive operations on at least three sectors of the front on July 9.
- The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that Ukrainian forces are attempting to soften Russian defenses before liberating territory, accepting a slower pace of advance.
- US President Joe Biden stated that Ukraine cannot join NATO until Russia’s war in Ukraine is over.
- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed Turkey’s decision to allow the release of five Ukrainian commanders involved in the defense of the Azovstal Metallurgical Combine in Mariupol, Donetsk Oblast with his Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan on July 9.
- The Russian ultranationalist community continued to blame the Kremlin for trusting Turkey to uphold the deal and to keep Azovstal defenders in Turkey.
- Former Russian officer and ardent nationalist Igor Girkin claimed that the Russian Federal Security Service’s (FSB) Service for the Protection of the Constitutional Order (UZKS) is deliberately censoring him.
- Central African Republic (CAR) Presidental Spokesperson Albert Yaloke Mokpem stated on July 8 that Wagner Group personnel leaving CAR are conducting rotations and are not withdrawing.
- Unknown persons leaked an image of what appears to be the Wagner Group’s founding charter on July 9, possibly to present the Wagner Group as a professional organization.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to not rapidly dispose of the Wagner Group and prosecute rebellion participants is placing himself and his subordinates in an awkward position.
- Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks north of Svatove and south of Kreminna.
- Ukrainian and Russian forces continued counteroffensive operations in the Bakhmut area.
- Russian and Ukrainian forces continued ground attacks on the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line, and Russian forces advanced as of July 9.
- Ukrainian forces continued to advance in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia oblasts administrative border area, and continued counteroffensive operations in western Zaporizhia Oblast.
- Russian forces reportedly continued to reestablish previously flooded positions on the east (left) bank of the Dnipro River in Kherson Oblast.
- Russian sources accused Ukrainian forces of targeting the Kerch Strait Bridge.
- The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) is reportedly accepting Wagner Group mercenaries for contract service with the Russian MoD in Molkino, Krasnodar Krai.