Ukraine Situation Report: Fierce Fighting Near Mokri Yaly River

As the Ukrainian counteroffensive grinds on, the most intense fighting appears to be taking place in Donetsk Oblast in the so-called Vremenvka Salient, along the Mokri Yaly River near the tiny hamlet of Makarivka. That’s close to the border with Zaporizhzhia Oblast, where rain appears to be hampering operations.

Though facing intense opposition, the Ukrainian counteroffensive is continuing to chew away at the remaining nearly 20% of the country still occupied by Russia, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry (MoD) said.

Ukraine appears to be making progress along the Mokri Yaly River, The Wall Street Journal noted.

But Russia is putting up an intense fight, Ukraine’s (MoD) said.

“The enemy is doing everything to keep the captured positions,” Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said Tuesday on her Telegram channel. “Russians actively use assault and army aviation and conduct intense artillery fire. During the offensive, our troops encounter continuous minefields, which are combined with anti-tank ditches. All this is combined with constant counterattacks by enemy units on armored vehicles and the massive use of ATGMs and kamikaze drones.”

Despite all that, “Ukrainian troops have advanced 250 meters in the direction of Bakhmut in the area of the Berkhiv Reservoir, and another 200 meters in the direction of Toretsk in the Donetsk region,” Maliar said. In Zaporizhzia Oblast, “Ukraine’s army took back up to one kilometer in the Berdiansk direction, making it a three square kilometer total advance in the region so far.” 

Ukraine’s Operational Command South declared that Makarivka was returned to Ukrainian control.

The area around the tiny hamlet of Makarivka in western Donetsk Oblast is the scene of fierce fighting. (Google Earth image)

But while the Russian Defense Ministry claims its forces are repelling Ukraine’s attacks, and inflicting great losses, even Russian milbloggers are raising alarms.

The Russian MoD says it pushed back Ukraine all across Donetsk Oblast.

“Over the past 24 hours, the Ukrainian troops continued to attempt to carry out an offensive in South Donetsk direction, as well as near [Bakhmut],” the Russian MoD claimed on its Telegram channel Tuesday.

“In the Vremevka salient, the Kyiv regime launched an offensive by the units hastily formed from the remnants of the Ukrainian brigades which had previously suffered heavy losses. Three attacks by Ukrainian units reinforced with tanks and armored fighting vehicles were repelled in the area of Makarivka over the past 24 hours.”

Though Russian milbloggers vehemently support Moscow, they showed a little more concern than their MoD Tuesday.

“Fighting continues on the Vremenvka Salient,” the Kremlin-connected Rybar Telegram channel reported. “After fierce battles for Makarivka and the village changing hands, the [Russian] Armed Forces nevertheless withdrew to its southern outskirts.”

In other sectors of the front, “the situation is stable, but difficult. The village of Harvest is under the full control of the [Russian] Armed Forces, as is Rovnopol. Ukrainian formations are attacking in small groups, having changed tactics somewhat after the first days of the offensive.”

Russian-installed Zaporizhzhia official and influential milblogger Vladimir Rogov concurred with Occupational Command South and Rybar that Makarivka is in Ukranian hands.

“Intelligence reports that as a result of another attack by Ukrainian formations, Russian units retreated to the southern outskirts of the village of Makarivka. After a few days of fighting, the settlement is again under the control of the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” Rogov wrote Tuesday on his Telegram channel. “Most likely, the defense of the Russian units is lining up for landing 700 meters south of Makarivka.”

While Urozhaynoye and Rivnopol are controlled by Russia, “Levadne seems to be controlled by Ukrainian formations, while Novodarovka is in the gray zone,” Rogov wrote. “After the demining, Ukrainian formations tried to advance on Priyutnoye, but were driven back.”

In the Orikhiv section of the Zaporizhzhia Front, Ukraine’s electronic warfare “was sharply activated,” said Rogov. “The enemy is trying to jam communications and take control of our UAVs.”

Meanwhile, fighting in Zaporizhzhia has largely bogged down to an artillery barrage due to “prolonged rains,” Rogov said.

“As a result [there is] a decrease in activity in the offensive actions of the enemy,” said Rogov.

“The main part of the confrontation at the moment comes down to massive artillery shelling on the positions of the first, second and third lines of our defense.”

But in addition to territory, Russia also lost a senior leader on the battlefield, Rogov said.

Major General Sergei Goryachev, Chief of Staff of the 35th Army, died on the Zaporizhzhia Front, according to Rogov.

“It is reported that the military leader died as a result of a missile strike,” Rogov wrote on his Telegram channel Tuesday.

“A native of the Airborne Forces, Goryachev served as a soldier in the Kirovabad airborne division, after the RVVDKU he commanded a reconnaissance company, and then a parachute battalion in the 76th division, was the chief of staff of the 108th regiment.”

He also commanded troops in Transnistria in Moldova as well as in Tajikistan.

“At the beginning of the [so-called Special Military Operation], he was the commander of the 5th Separate Tank Brigade, and ‘grew up’ to the deputy commander of the 35th Combined Arms Army (with the rank of major general), was appointed Chief of Staff of the Army…. The Army has lost one of the brightest and most effective military leaders, who combined the highest professionalism with personal courage.”

Before we head into the latest news from Ukraine, The War Zone readers can catch up on our previous rolling coverage here.

The Latest

Russian President Vladimir Putin continued to provide his take on the war he launched nearly 16 months ago.

Speaking to a group of Russian military reporters, Putin made several claims.

He said that while Ukraine has lost 160 tanks, Russia has lost 54 during the counteroffensive.

Despite massive amounts of evidence to the contrary, he claimed that Russia has not attacked Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure. That was before he admitted striking Ukrainian civilian infrastructure.

He said that Russian troops will return to Kyiv one day.

And he raised the issue of a what he deemed a public call for an additional mobilization of another one or two million troops.

Wagner mercenary group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin weighed in on the counteroffensive as well, continuing his feud with Russian military leaders by saying they aren’t doing enough to stop Ukrainian forces.

Another 15 Bradley Fighting Vehicles and 10 Stryker Armored Personnel Carriers will be heading to Ukraine as part of the 40th Presidential Drawdown Authority tranche of security assistance to Ukraine. That confirms our reporting from yesterday that about 25 of those vehicles combined would be included in this package.

The news about the additional donated armor vehicles comes as the open source tracking group Oryx said that Ukraine has lost 16 Bradleys so far in its counteroffensive. The group, which only tabulates vehicles for which is can visually confirm, does not mention Strykers damaged or destroyed in its latest assessment. You can read more about the loss of Ukrainian armor in our interview with a U.S. armor expert here.

Though it says it tracks the equipment Ukraine loses on the battlefield, the Pentagon on Tuesday would not confirm the loss of the Bradleys or other equipment so far in the counteroffensive.

“I’ve seen the reports, but I can’t corroborate some of the video and imagery coming out of that,” Deputy Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh told reporters, including from The War Zone Tuesday. “So we’re going to continue to monitor that. But I just won’t be able to confirm the reports.”

While she could not confirm the most recent losses, the Pentagon is tracking the equipment Ukraine loses on the battlefield, Singh told The War Zone.

“We are in constant communication at all different levels with the Ukrainians,” Singh said when asked how the Pentagon tracks what Ukraine loses. “And of course, when it comes to Presidential Drawdown Authorities and the packages that we put together, one of the things that we’re doing is working with the Ukrainians to determine what they need to meet their requirements, not just in the short term, but also long term goals.”

One of those topics of discussion “is the loss of battlefield equipment capabilities, anything not working, any systems not performing the way they should be. So there was a direct line of communication at all different levels here in this building with the Ukrainians.”

We asked whether the Pentagon is taking any additional measures to track Ukrainian losses beyond its arms use monitoring program that we wrote about in January. We will update this story with any additional information provided.

Tuesday’s announcement about the Bradleys and Strykers is not tied directly to battlefield losses, Singh said.

“We were always gonna assess that there was going to be damages and casualties of capabilities and systems that have been provided to the Ukrainians,” she said. “I don’t know that there’s going to be a backfill of a one-to-one ratio. But you’re seeing continued support go to Ukraine in their fight against the Russians to take back their sovereign territory.”

Packages like the one announced today take time to put together, she added.

The U.S. had previously donated 109 M2A2-ODS Bradley variants and four B-FIST variants as well as as 90 Strykers.

In addition to the armor, the package, valued up to $325 million, includes the following capabilities:

  • Additional munitions for National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS);
  • Stinger anti-aircraft systems;
  • Additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS);
  • 155mm and 105mm artillery rounds;
  • Javelin anti-armor systems;
  • Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked, Wire-Guided (TOW) missiles;
  • AT-4 anti-armor systems;
  • Over 22 million rounds of small arms ammunition and grenades;
  • Demolition munitions for obstacle clearing;
  • Tactical secure communications support equipment;
  • Spare parts and other field equipment.

As reports of damaged and captured Ukrainian armor roll in, Germany and Poland are closing in on a deal to set up a service hub to repair Leopard battle tanks and other equipment, Berlin’s envoy said, according to Bloomberg

Talks should wrap up “in the coming days,” before the July 11-12 NATO summit in Vilnius, Thomas Bagger, Germany’s ambassador to Poland, told Bloomberg in Warsaw on Tuesday. The hub will be used to supply badly needed spare parts for the German-made equipment, he said.  

The air defense systems provided to Ukraine, like the Patriot, NASAMS and IRIS-T, have gone a long way to defending Ukraine’s skies. But as The Economist noted Tuesday, Ukraine is also ensuring its older, Soviet-era air defense systems remain effective as well.

“Ukraine has also just completed a process of integrating other kit, including Soviet-era Buks and S-300s into a new centralized command system,” The Economist reported. “When a target is identified, the most effective missile is used against it, hitting it as far away from the city as possible.”

The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday reported that the Biden administration is expected to provide Ukraine with depleted-uranium (DU) rounds following weeks of internal debate about how to equip the Abrams tanks the U.S. is giving to Kyiv, U.S. officials said Monday. 

“A senior administration official told The Wall Street Journal there appear to be no major obstacles to approving the ammunition,” the newspaper reported. 

The move by the Biden administration follows a similar decision by the U.K., which disclosed in March that it is sending 120mm tank ammunition containing DU to Ukraine along with a tranche of Challenger 2 tanks. You can read more about that in our deep dive here.

As the U.S. and allies were helping build up Ukraine’s fleet of armor ahead of the counteroffensive, one of the more underrated elements of those donations had been armor recovery vehicles. The U.S., for instance, has provided 54 tactical vehicles to recover equipment. Other nations, like Germany, which provided Ukraine with two Bergepanzer 3 ARV “Büffel” recovery vehicles, have as well. In this video below, of a Büffel recovering a Leopard-2 Main Battle Tank, you can see the value.

As this counteroffensive has highlighted, mines remain an effective and deadly weapon for both sides.

The Russians, for instance, have been using the ISDM Zemoedeliye, which has 50 122mm tubes that can cover an area the size of several football fields to a range of between 5km and 15km.

Trench warfare remains a brutal aspect of this conflict, as you can see in this video below of Russian forces attacking a Ukrainian trench.

The Ukrainians too have been assaulting Russian trenches, which you can see in this video below.

At least four people were killed and 28 injured in a Russian missile strike on a residential building in Kryvyi Rih, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s hometown, located in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast.

“They cannot win on the battlefield – they are fighting with the civilian population,” Ukrainian Minister of the Interior Ihor Klymenko said Tuesday on his Telegram channel.  

In addition to the five-story building, which suffered the most damage as a result of the Russian shelling, four other buildings around and many vehicles were damaged, Klymenko said.

The CIA warned Ukraine not to blow up the Nord Stream pipeline last June, three months before it was sabotaged, according to a report from Dutch public broadcaster NOS, Nieuwsuur and the German media Die Zeit and ARD.

“The Americans did this after they received an alarming message from the Dutch military intelligence service MIVD, which heard about Ukrainian plans for an imminent attack through a source in Ukraine,” NOS reported Tuesday. “This is evident from research by the NOS, Nieuwsuur and the German media Die Zeit and ARD.”

The sabotage was canceled in June, NOS reported, “but in September the pipeline was still blown up according to almost the same scenario that the MIVD had exposed three months earlier.”

The attack at the time caused a lot of commotion worldwide and is still surrounded by many questions. Initially, many fingers pointed to Russia. In the meantime, there are increasing indications that Ukraine was involved in the action, which is firmly denied by President Zelensky.

Ukraine has pushed back further on any assertion it was involved in blowing up the pipeline.

Ukrainian Presidential advisor Mikhail Podolyak called the claims “a deliberate campaign to undermine Ukraine’s credibility, reputation and voice in the global arena.

The up-armored HMMWVs operated by Ukraine’s 59th Brigade, complete with twin Browning M2 50 caliber heavy machine guns and single 14.5mm KPV heavy machine guns have been highly active during this counteroffensive.

Russia is apparently attempting to bring some entertainment to its deployed troops, although just how successful at least one of those efforts is, we’ll let you be the judge.

That’s it for now. We’ll update this story when there’s more news to report about Ukraine.

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Howard Altman

Senior Staff Writer

Howard is a Senior Staff Writer for The War Zone, and a former Senior Managing Editor for Military Times. Prior to this, he covered military affairs for the Tampa Bay Times as a Senior Writer. Howard's work has appeared in various publications including Yahoo News, RealClearDefense, and Air Force Times.