Institute for the Study of War: Russian Defense Minister promises to ‘accelerate’ military operation in Ukraine 

June 3, 2022

 

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu claimed that Russian forces will “accelerate” the “special military operation” in Ukraine in a meeting with Chechen Leader Ramzan Kadyrov on June 3, though Russian forces are unlikely to be able to do so. Kadyrov said that Shoigu has “identified new tasks” that will improve the effectiveness of Russian offensive maneuvers and improve Russian tactics.[1] Kadyrov did not specify which tasks Russian forces will undertake to speed up their pace. Shoigu previously claimed on May 24 that Russian forces were making slow progress in eastern Ukraine to avoid civilian casualties.[2] In a retrospective on the 100th day of the war, the UK Defense Ministry stated that Russian forces will likely establish control over Luhansk Oblast in the next two weeks, though only at significant further cost.[3] The UK Defense Ministry further noted that Russian forces on all other axes have gone over to defensive operations to concentrate all available forces in Severodonetsk, and stated Russia will need to commit sizable investment of manpower and equipment—that it will be unable to generate quickly, if at all—to advance beyond Luhansk Oblast.

A Russian milblogger published a lengthy message on June 3 claiming that nearly the entire 35th Combined Arms Army has been destroyed in Izyum due to incompetent Russian commanders. A Russian milblogger under the pseudonym Boytsovyi Kot Murz said that Russian commanders did not account for combat challenges in the Izyum woods, leading to significant losses in the 64th and 38th Separate Guard Motor Rifle Brigades, which he reported now have less than 100 servicemen in total.[4] Boytsovyi Kot Murz claimed that Russian commanders failed to provide necessary equipment to units fighting in wooded terrain and did not repair Russian heavy artillery in a timely manner. Russian forces also reportedly lacked effective communication with command centers and relied on messengers due to the shortage of encrypted phones. Boytsovyi Kot Murz noted that the lack of communications between Russian units and commanders allowed Ukrainian forces to strike Russian advanced positions with drones. Russian private military company servicemen from Wagner also refused to participate in combat, leading to a significant lack of advances on the Izyum axis. While ISW cannot independently confirm these reports, they are consistent with previous reports of Russian operations and high casualties on the Izyum axis.

Russian and proxy forces reportedly have not sufficiently prepared frontline units with medical supplies, leading to abysmal medical care. Boytsovyi Kot Murz criticized the Russian Defense Ministry for failing to prepare medical equipment and field hospitals for wounded servicemen.[5] Russian commanders reportedly failed to learn lessons from the lack of medical equipment during the Battle of Debaltseve in 2015 and are repeating similar mistakes. Boytsovyi Kot Murz claimed that Russian forces do not provide frontline troops with high pressure bandages and other supplies necessary to address limb injuries in time. Boytsovyi Kot Murz compared expired and underprepared Russian first aid kits to higher quality Ukrainian supplies and claimed that Russian forces do not have volunteer support that could address the shortages in military equipment. Boytsovyi Kot Murz noted that only Russian infantry, that he claimed has been defeated, had necessary medical training—while newly recruited reservists are incapable of providing first aid. Boytsovyi Kot Murz said that Russian medics are conducting an unnecessary number of limb amputations due to the lack medical equipment provided by the Russian Defense Ministry. These claims are consistent with past reports of poor Russian medical care in frontline units, and these conditions are likely a major contributing factor to Russian demoralization and the growing refusal of servicemen to return to frontline units.

Ukrainian forces report that Russian electronic warfare (EW) units are increasingly threatening Ukrainian air reconnaissance in eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian military officials reported that Russian forces are increasingly jamming all possible signals and hindering Ukrainian drone operations.[6] The Ukrainian General Staff has previously reported that Russian forces intensified EW operations in Donbas, likely in an effort to obstruct Ukrainian aerial reconnaissance and drone strikes on Russian units.[7]

Key Takeaways

  • Russian forces conducted unsuccessful assaults southeast and southwest of Izyum and west of Lyman but remain unlikely to secure major advances towards Slovyansk.

  • Russian forces made minor gains in the eastern part of Severodonetsk, but Ukrainian forces continues to launch localized counterattacks in Severodonetsk and its outskirts.

  • Russian forces did not attempt to launch assaults on Avdiivka.

  • Russian forces failed to regain lost positions in northeastern Kherson Oblast and continued to defend previously occupied positions.

  • Russian occupation authorities began issuing Russian passports in Kherson City and Melitopol, though they continue to face challenges establishing societal control over occupied territories and ending Ukrainian partisan actions.