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Institute for the Study of War


Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 19, 2024

Grace Mappes, Karolina Hird, Angelica Evans, Kateryna Stepanenko, and George Barros

June 19, 2024, 9:15pm ET

Click here to see ISW’s interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.

Click here to see ISW’s 3D control of terrain topographic map of Ukraine. Use of a computer (not a mobile device) is strongly recommended for using this data-heavy tool.

Click here to access ISW’s archive of interactive time-lapse maps of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These maps complement the static control-of-terrain map that ISW produces daily by showing a dynamic frontline. ISW will update this time-lapse map archive monthly.

Note: The data cut-off for this product was 2:45pm ET on June 19. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the June 20 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un signed a comprehensive strategic partnership agreement in Pyongyang on June 19, likely aimed in part to use military-technical cooperation with North Korea as a threat against the West to discourage further support for Ukraine.[1] Putin arrived with a delegation of Russian ministers in Pyongyang on June 19 and signed the agreement with Kim, but neither Russian nor North Korean officials have published the official text of this agreement as of the time of this publication. Putin and Kim each spoke about the agreement, claiming that it broadly covers goals and guidelines for deepening Russian–North Korean long-term relations in the political, economic, trade, cultural, humanitarian, and security fields.[2] Putin specified that the strategic partnership agreement also provides for “mutual assistance in the event of aggression” against either Russia or North Korea, then immediately criticized conversations in the West about allowing Ukraine to strike areas in Russia with Western-provided long-range weapons and F-16 jets. Putin then concluded that “in this regard,” Russia does “not rule out the development of military-technical cooperation” with North Korea. Putin likely intended to signal that should the US lift its restrictions against Ukrainian using US-provided ATACMS to strike Russian territory or other restrictions against using F-16s for the same purposes, Russia will likely deepen cooperation with North Korea in the sphere of military technologies such as missiles, other arms, and satellites through the legal framework provided in this new agreement. Putin and other Kremlin officials will likely continue to leverage this threat as debates about permitting Ukraine to use Western-provided weapons to strike military targets in Russian territory continue and may also expand this threat to other issues that the Kremlin has historically framed as “escalatory” or “provocations” against Russia. Russia will likely continue to deepen its cooperation with North Korea, regardless of Western self-imposed restrictions on military aid provisions to Ukraine and policies restricting Ukrainian long-range strikes against Russian sanctuary, as Russia had been doing throughout its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian and North Korean governments largely framed the agreement as evidence of their mutual support as part of a common struggle against the West and signaled that Russia and North Korea share a goal to challenge the West and the current world order.[3] Putin claimed that Russia and North Korea both aim to create “a more just and democratic multipolar world order” and that both countries pursue “independent foreign policy” — setting them apart from Western states.[4] Putin also credited Kim with holding an “objective and balanced view” about the war in Ukraine. Kim and Putin also emphasized the “traditionally friendly and good” relations between Russia and North Korea “based on the glorious traditions of common history” — continuing to invoke the historical memory of the Soviet Union’s support of North Korea to appeal to the propaganda of the Kim regime and the North Korean people. North Korean state media published readouts similarly emphasizing Russia’s and North Korea’s common cause, emphasizing that North Korea stands in solidarity with “the sacred cause of the Russian army and people who are proudly advancing towards justice and truth.”[5] The Kremlin published extensive images of Putin’s visit to Pyongyang, including a lavish military-patriotic parade, North Korean civilians holding flowers and celebrating Putin’s arrival, and Kim personally escorting Putin to and from his plane on the tarmac — all underscoring the two regimes’ emphasis on friendship and their determination to support each other.[6] Putin’s visit and the Russian–North Korean strategic cooperation agreement help legitimize Kim’s regime domestically and abroad, as ISW has previously noted, and Putin also discussed increasing trade between Russia and North Korea, posturing that improving trade and infrastructure also benefits their shared partner, the People’s Republic of China (PRC).[7]

Putin is pursuing a coalition of friendly states with historically warm ties to the Soviet Union to act as an alternative to the West and the current world order. Putin published an article in the Vietnamese state newspaper Nhân Dân on June 19 ahead of his state visit to Vietnam largely reusing the same informational lines as his June 18 article in the North Korean state newspaper Rodong Sinmun.[8] Putin invoked the historical memory of the Soviet Union’s support for Vietnam during the Vietnam War, which Putin described as a “heroic struggle against foreign invaders,” and noted that it is the 30th anniversary of the Treaty of Basic Principles of Friendly Relations between Russia and Vietnam.[9] Putin praised Vietnam for pursuing an “independent foreign policy” and supporting a world order based on “principles of equality between nations and non-interference in domestic affairs,” echoing his praises for North Korea on June 18 and 19. Putin also claimed that, like North Korea, Vietnam shares Russia’s views on the formation of a new system of “equal and indivisible Eurasian security” — though Vietnam, like much of Southeast Asia, is not typically included in political conceptions of Eurasia.[10] Putin laid the informational groundwork for this Eurasian security structure during his visit to the PRC in May 2024 before proposing it in a speech on June 14, in which he claimed that the “Euro-Atlantic security system” is collapsing and that Western “schemes for security and prosperity in Europe do not work.”[11] Putin likely aims to use the historical memory of positive relations with the Soviet Union and previous assistance to other states to form a coalition of countries that Putin could attempt to posture as a feasible alternative to NATO and bolster the Kremlin’s ongoing information operations attempting to falsely portray Western countries as Ukraine’s only supporters whereas the rest of the world stands behind Russia.

Russian government officials announced their intention on June 19 to suspend Russia’s participation in the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA). Russian Federation Council Committee on International Affairs First Deputy Head Vladimir Dzhabarov announced that the committee is proposing to suspend Russia’s participation in the OSCE PA and the payment of Russia’s membership fees.[12] Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko announced her support for the initiative and ordered the committee to prepare a draft decision for the upcoming July 3 plenary session.[13] Matviyenko cited Romanian authorities’ recent decision to not issue visas to the Russian OSCE PA delegation as the “latest example” of the OSCE PA’s anti-Russian activities. Russian State Duma Chairperson Vyacheslav Volodin instructed the Duma’s International Affairs Committee to prepare a corresponding resolution for consideration in the near future and accused the OSCE PA of being a “coven… that dances to the tune of the US.”[14] Russian Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) Head Leonid Slutsky noted that the Russian State Duma will support the suspension of Russia’s participation in the OSCE PA.[15] The OSCE PA is an institution of the OSCE where members can debate issues and offer policy recommendations in support of the OSCE’s mandate.[16] Volodin announced Russia’s intention to leave the OSCE PA in February 2024, and Russia has used OSCE PA meetings to either further its information operations or has abstained from attending meetings since it invaded Ukraine in February 2022.[17]

The Russian military command continues to endorse a culture of permissiveness towards war crimes perpetrated by subordinates on the battlefield in Ukraine. Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin reported on June 18 that his office has received confirmation that Russian forces beheaded a Ukrainian soldier in Volnovakha Raion, Donetsk Oblast and displayed the severed head on a damaged Ukrainian vehicle.[18] Kostin stated that Ukrainian intelligence revealed that the Russian battalion- and company-level commanders in charge of this sector of the front ordered their subordinates not to capture Ukrainian soldiers and take them captive as prisoners of war (POWs) as required by international law, but to kill them by beheading them.[19] ISW cannot independently confirm which Russian commanders issued the order to behead the Ukrainian POW, but Kostin’s report is consistent with a larger observed trend of prolific Russian abuses against Ukrainian POWs that is apparently enabled, if not explicitly endorsed, by individual Russian commanders and upheld by Russian field commanders. Ukraine’s Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported on June 19 that it has identified four servicemembers of the Russian 70th Motorized Rifle Regiment (42nd Motorized Rifle Division, 58th Combined Arms Army [CAA], Southern Military District [SMD]) who executed Ukrainian POWs near Robotyne, Zaporizhia Oblast in late May 2024.[20] ISW has also previously observed that the 76th Guards Air Assault (VDV) Division was implicated in the execution of Ukrainian POWs and the use of Ukrainian POWs as human shields (both blatant violations of the Geneva Convention on POWs) near Robotyne in late 2023, as well as in massacres of Ukrainian civilians in Bucha, Kyiv Oblast in 2022.[21] Russian forces operating in Donetsk Oblast are under a different operational command (the Southern Grouping of Forces) than Russian forces operating in Zaporizhia Oblast (the Dnepr Grouping of Forces), but various individual units operating under these respective operational commands have well-documented lists of abuses against Ukrainian POWs in their sectors of the front.[22] The consistent perpetration of war crimes by various Russian formations that fall under different operational groupings of forces command suggests that individual tactical-level commanders are enabling their subordinates to commit such atrocities throughout the theater and that the Russian high command is doing little to maintain discipline and order amongst its troops.

The Russian government is attempting to deflect responsibility for well-documented Russian violations of international law regarding Russia’s treatment of Ukrainian children by accusing the Ukrainian Armed Forces and other security structures of committing “crimes” against children. Russian State Duma Deputy Chairperson and former Russian Commissioner on Children’s Rights Anna Kuznetsova presented a report developed by the Russian parliamentary investigative commission on “Kyiv’s crimes against children” during the plenary State Duma meeting on June 19, which made unfounded and absurd accusations against the Ukrainian government and military officials of crimes against children in occupied Ukraine.[23] Kuznetsova claimed that the parliamentary investigative commission developed this report in accordance with the Russian Constitution and the UN Security Council resolution of August 25, 1999, but blatantly overlooked the fact that Russia’s illegal invasion and occupation of eastern and southern Ukraine violates the UN Charter and that these territories are not subject to the Russian Constitution under international law. The report accused the Ukrainian Armed Forces of wounding and killing children with artillery fire and in mining incidents since 2014 and accused the Ukrainian government of “kidnapping” children from Ukrainian-controlled territories in Donbas between 2014 and 2022 that Russia since illegally annexed in their entirety despite not occupying the entire region.[24] The report misrepresented the Ukrainian government’s evacuations of children from frontline or occupied settlements as the “kidnapping” of “about 65,000 children from the territories of Donbas and Novorossiya” since the beginning of 2022, in a blatant misrepresentation of international law. Ukraine, as the legal sovereign of the Ukrainian territories that Russia illegal occupies, has full rights to move its people away from frontline territories further to safety. Russia, as the occupying power, does not have the right to move a population it occupies away from their homes and into Russia, however. Ukraine’s evacuation of its citizens is a legitimate humanitarian endeavor, while Russia’s forced removal of Ukrainian citizens to Russia is illegal deportation.[25] The report also accused the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Western “private military companies,” and the Ukrainian government of medical experimentation on children in occupied Ukraine, sexual abuse, human trafficking, and “the deliberate creation of a threat to the lives of children” among other unfounded accusations. The report recommended that the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office and the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) initiate the process of recognizing the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), and the Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) as “terrorist organizations.” [26]

This report is likely part of an ongoing Kremlin effort to deflect domestic and international attention away from Russian violations of international law perpetrated against Ukrainian children, including mass forced deportations from occupied territories to Russia. The Russian State Duma unanimously supported the report on June 19, and Chairperson of the Russian Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko tasked the Russian government with translating this report into different languages and disseminating it across different international organizations and countries — including countries that are unfriendly to Russia.[27] Matviyenko made a revealing remark that Kyiv’s “attempt to accuse Russia of allegedly removing children looks especially cynical,” inadvertently revealing that the purpose of this unsubstantiated and false report is to confuse the international community about Russia’s violations against Ukrainian children and people.[28] The Russian State Duma notably created the Russian parliamentary investigative commission in June 2023 shortly after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants against Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kremlin-appointed Children’s Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova on March 17, 2023, for illegal deportation and transfer of Ukrainian children to Russia.[29]

Air traffic control (ATC) communications from international airspace over the northeastern Atlantic Ocean appear to show the first confirmed instance of GPS jamming on commercial trans-Atlantic routes.[30] An X (formerly Twitter) account specializing in open-source and signals intelligence (OSINT and SIGINT) analysis posted on June 19 ATC communications reportedly from Shanwick Oceanic Control (overseeing the international airspace zone covering the northeastern Atlantic Ocean between the west coast of Scotland and Ireland to the southwestern coast of Iceland) stating that a flight between Madrid, Spain, and Toronto, Canada, was unable to ascend to a higher altitude due to apparent GPS jamming affecting other aircraft at the higher altitude.[31] The ATC communications noted that GPS jamming forced air traffic operating at higher altitudes along the Madrid-Toronto route to operate in a “degraded mode,” to which the ATC dispatcher responded that this is the first instance of GPS jamming along Atlantic routes of which the dispatcher is aware.[32] The Resilient Navigation and Timing Foundation, a nonprofit advocating for improved GPS security, responded to the incident on June 19 and noted that if GPS jamming becomes a regular occurrence over the Atlantic Ocean, then “thousands of flights a day could be impacted with delays and cancellations.”[33] The Resilient Navigation and Timing Foundation noted that a GPS jammer is not always able to recover after experiencing jamming and assessed that the aircraft that experienced the jamming over the Atlantic was likely flying from the Baltic region or Middle East and that one of its GPS receivers had not recovered by the time it entered the Shanwick Oceanic Control Zone. The cause of the GPS disturbances has not yet been identified as of the time of this publication. ISW has previously observed high levels of GPS jamming over Poland and the Baltic region since late 2023, however, which some analysts and experts have attributed to Russian electronic warfare (EW) activity from the Kaliningrad area and near St. Petersburg.[34]

Key Takeaways:

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un signed a comprehensive strategic partnership agreement in Pyongyang on June 19, likely aimed in part to use military-technical cooperation with North Korea as a threat against the West to discourage further support for Ukraine. Russian and North Korea largely framed the agreement as evidence of their mutual support as part of a common struggle against the West and signaled that they share a goal to challenge the West and current world order.
  • Putin is pursuing a coalition of friendly states with historically warm ties to the Soviet Union to act as an alternative to the West and current world order.
  • Russian government officials announced their intention on June 19 to suspend Russia’s participation in the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA).
  • The Russian military command continues to endorse a culture of permissiveness towards war crimes perpetrated by subordinates on the battlefield in Ukraine.
  • The Russian government is attempting to deflect responsibility for well-documented Russian violations of international law regarding Russia’s treatment of Ukrainian children by accusing the Ukrainian Armed Forces and other security structures of committing “crimes” against children.
  • Air traffic control (ATC) communications from international airspace over the northeastern Atlantic Ocean appear to show the first confirmed instance of GPS jamming on commercial trans-Atlantic routes.
  • Ukrainian forces recaptured positions near Starytsya and Russian forces recently advanced near Chasiv Yar and Donetsk City and in east (left) bank Kherson Oblast.
  • Finnish outlet Yle, citing satellite imagery and Finnish intelligence sources, reported on June 19 that the Russian military has deployed roughly 80 percent of its equipment and personnel based near the Russian-Finnish border to support its invasion of Ukraine.

 

We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because these activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We will continue to evaluate and report on the effects of these criminal activities on the Ukrainian military and the Ukrainian population and specifically on combat in Ukrainian urban areas. We utterly condemn Russian…



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