Ukraine Situation Report: U.S. Sending More Bradleys

The Ukrainians have lost at least 16 Bradleys so far, but there will soon be more on the way under the latest U.S. aid package.

byHoward Altman, Thomas Newdick|
M2 Bradley Ukraine
via Ukrainian Ministry of Defense/Twitter


The Pentagon tomorrow will announce a new aid package that will include additional Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Stryker Armored Vehicles, a U.S. official tells The War Zone.

"I can confirm that the next Presidential Drawdown Package (expected tomorrow) contains roughly two dozen Bradleys and Strykers," a U.S. official said in a statement to The War Zone.

The official, confirming earlier reporting by The Voice of America about the types of vehicles to be included, did not know the exact number of each vehicle.

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 much more about how Ukrainian troops performed in breaching operation that led to a bulk of the destroyed Bradleys in our story here.

To date, the U.S. has donated 109 M2A2-ODS Bradley variants and four B-FIST variants as well as as 90 Strykers.

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

The Latest

Despite fierce resistance, Ukrainian forces continue to make progress in liberating villages from Russian hands, as part of the ongoing counteroffensive in which fighting is taking place from southern and central Donetsk to Zaporizhzhia Oblasts.

As we reported yesterday, Ukrainian troops have captured the settlements of Blagodatnoye and Neskuchnoe, in southeastern Donetsk Oblast as well as around Kamenskoye in north-central Zaporizhzhia Oblast, according to both Ukrainian troops and Russian bloggers.

Over the past week, Ukrainian forces have advanced four miles (6.5 kilometers), as part of the offensive operation in the Donetsk and Tavriysk areas, Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Defense Hanna Maliar said Monday on her Telegram channel. In the process, Ukraine has secured around 35 square miles (90 square kilometers) of territory. It has come at a heavy cost, however.

As well as the aforementioned villages, Lobkove, Levadne, Novodarivka, Storozheve, and Makarivka have reportedly also been liberated since the counteroffensive began, for a total of seven settlements now back in Ukrainian hands.

Among these settlements, a video emerged today purportedly showing Ukrainian Marines in the village of Storozheve, as its recapture from Russian forces. Soldiers are seen holding up the Ukrainian flag in the village. The video has been geolocated to Storozheve, although the date it was taken remains unclear.

According to Maliar, Storozheve was recaptured by the 35th Separate Brigade of Marines, who she thanked, with the following statement: “The national flag is flying over Storozheve again, and it will be the same with every settlement until we liberate all Ukrainian land. Thank you Rear Adm. Mykhailo Ostrogradskyi, 35th Separate Brigade of Marines.”

There have also been Ukrainian reports of an unsuccessful Russian counterattack today that attempted to retake Storozheve, apparently shown in the video below. According to the Ukrainian account, “The occupiers broke through to the village in four combat vehicles but were destroyed by the Ukrainian Armed Forces.”

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Other videos purport to show Ukrainian troops raising the national flag in Blagodatnoye, while troops from one brigade filmed themselves with their unit’s banner in Neskuchnoe.

According to the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, over the last few days, the country’s troops have been involved in 25 separate battles, mainly in the Donetsk region. These have been centered primarily around the eastern city of Bakhmut, further south toward Avdiivka and Maryinka, as well as Bilohorivka in the Luhansk region.

The recapture of Novodarivka has meanwhile been reported by the U.S think tank the Institute for the Study of War and by Sky News, which stated:

The fifth [recaptured village] has now been corroborated by the Zaporizhzhia separate territorial defense brigade, which said they had taken Novodarivka.

“Numerous attempts by the enemy to return the settlement under control, which lasted several days, were unsuccessful,” the Zaporizhzhia separate territorial defense brigade said.

Once again, we cannot independently verify the other claims and a degree of skepticism is required. On the other hand, the advances made by Ukrainian forces generally seem to be reflected in accounts from pro-Russian bloggers.

“As a result of night battles, Russian troops were forced to retreat from Makarovka,” the Kremlin-connected Rybar Telegram channel reported. “But according to the Archangel of the Special Forces, clashes in the village have resumed at the moment, Russian soldiers are cleaning up the village.”

Russian troops “firmly hold on to positions in Urozhaynoye: despite the statements of the enemy, the village is under the confident control of the [Russian] Armed Forces.”

Levadne and Novodarovka “are still in the gray zone,” Rybar reported. “Ukrainian formations are making holes in minefields and preparing for further advance. The units are being attacked by Russian troops.”

But bad weather “and the consequences of the destruction of the dam on the Wet Yaly River complicate the use of heavy equipment,” according to Rybar. And there are “situational problems with the use of drones, army and tactical aviation. But the Ukrainian formations cannot completely cut off the Vremievsky ledge: Russian units retreat, inflict fire damage on their own positions, where the enemy enters, and then counterattack. Meanwhile, reinforcements are being transferred from other regions of Ukraine to the Zaporizhzhia and Soledar directions.”

The Institute for the Study of War has said that Ukrainian forces have made “visually verified advances” in the Donetsk and Zaporizhia regions and that Russian sources “confirmed but sought to downplay” those advances.

The next village in the sights of the Ukrainians could well be Urozhaine, at least according to the predictions of Russian military bloggers. Some reports suggest that the village may already have been recaptured by Ukrainian forces.

Clearly, however, the Ukrainian Armed Forces have suffered some heavy losses as they push to recapture territory. One recent photo claims to show three out of the six Leopard 2R mine-clearing tanks donated to Ukraine by Finland lying abandoned in a field, reportedly in the Zaporizhia region. Other vehicles similarly knocked out or abandoned nearby include examples of the Leopard 2A6 main battle tank, M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle, Bergepanzer armored recovery vehicle, and an M1224 MaxxPro mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicle. There is some debate as to the veracity of the image although we can't conclusively confirm its authenticity at this time, video from which it was pulled has emerged as well.

Losses of examples of the prized Leopard 2 tanks in the counteroffensive have reportedly led to an official Ukrainian call for more of these vehicles to be supplied by Germany, at least according to reports.

And, in what may well be a first from the conflict, Ukraine has released a brief video showing one of its Leopard 2A6 main battle tanks in combat, reportedly in the Zaporizhzhia region. The footage was apparently captured using a GoPro camera mounted on the turret and reveals the tank shooting its main gun as well as deploying smoke grenades.

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This video reportedly shows a convoy of Ukrainian troops heading toward the front somewhere in the east of the country:

Other recently noted Ukrainian losses include this Humvee, which ran over a mine during an apparent assault on Russian positions in eastern Ukraine. Reportedly, the crew of the vehicle survived.

On the other hand, not all targets destroyed by the Russian Armed Forces are exactly as they seem. Case in point, the highly accurate replica of a 2S1 self-propelled artillery piece, seen below, which was reportedly “knocked out” by a Russian Lancet loitering munition.

There are also signs that Ukraine is using other types of Western-supplied equipment in the counteroffensive, although the H225M Super Puma helicopters seen in the video below were ordered before the Russian invasion. While the date and location of the footage are unclear, it’s certainly unusual to see four of these rotorcraft in action simultaneously.

Speaking today, the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said it was too early to provide any predictions on what would happen next in Ukraine’s counteroffensive. He did say that Washington was confident that Kyiv would continue to have success in trying to take back its land seized by Russia.

Speaking at a press conference in Washington, Blinken added that the United States was determined to provide Ukraine with as much support as it could, to achieve success on the battlefield. Blinken described the next U.S. arms package for Ukraine as “robust.” It’s expected to be unveiled at the upcoming NATO summit in Lithuania.

Russian airstrikes and other bombardments continue amid the Ukrainian counteroffensive. According to Yuri Malashko, the regional governor of the Zaporizhzhia Oblast, one man was killed, and another was wounded in a Russian attack on the town of Orikhiv. Malashko said that three bombs damaged private houses and communications in the small town, which is only around five miles from the front lines. Despite its proximity to the battle, several hundred residents remain in Orikhiv, according to local officials, although most of the local infrastructure has been put out of action by Russian forces.

Other Russian attacks have been reported in Avdiivka, which was struck twice by rockets this morning, according to Pavlo Kyrylenko, the Ukrainian governor of Donetsk. In the Zaporizhzhia Oblast, a 50-year-old woman was reported injured as a result of Russian shelling, in the village of Novoselivka.

In a post to Telegram, Kyrylenko said: “The terrorists hit the city again this morning, at 09.10 am, with two rockets. According to preliminary information, there were no casualties; the wounded are provided with medical assistance in a local hospital.”

Ukraine has accused Russia of blowing up another dam as part of its efforts to blunt the counteroffensive. The dam is along the Mokri Yaly River, in western Donetsk, the area in which Ukrainian forces are said to have made their biggest gains. You can read our full coverage of the incident here.

Elsewhere in Europe, NATO today began its largest air exercise since the alliance was established in 1949. Taking place primarily in Germany, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic, Air Defender 2023 involves around 10,000 soldiers from 25, as well as approximately 250 military aircraft, 70 of them from Germany. Although planning for the exercise began before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the maneuvers have clearly taken on a new significance as a result of the conflict.

In Moscow, meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin presided over Russia’s national day today, admitting that now was a “difficult time” for the country. Tellingly, however, Putin made no direct reference to the Ukrainian counteroffensive or other military developments in that country. Instead, as has become commonplace during such events, Putin appealed to his citizens’ patriotic pride.

“This public holiday marks the inseparability of our centuries-old history, the greatness and glory of the fatherland,” Putin said, during his address at the Kremlin.

“Today, at a difficult time for Russia, [feelings of patriotism and pride] unite our society even more strongly … [and] serve as a reliable support for our heroes taking part in the special military operation [in Ukraine],” Putin added.

Putin also hit out at Ukraine, in statements reported by the state-owned TASS news agency. According to the Russian president, Kyiv has been striking at civilian and humanitarian targets with no military value.

“Why, frankly, is the enemy hitting residential areas?” Putin said. “No logic. For what, why, what’s the point? And obviously humanitarian targets — it’s amazing. And there is no military sense, it’s zero.”

The Russian leader apparently did not provide any examples to back up these claims, although Moscow has repeatedly accused Ukraine of cross-border shelling into Russian border regions, as well as launching drone attacks on targets within Russia’s borders.

Dmitry Medvedev, the former Russian president and prime minister, marked Russia Day by posting an edited image to Telegram showing Maidan Square in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, with the Russian flag flying overhead and the words: “Independence Square. Coming soon — Russia Square.”

On the military side, the Russian Ministry of Defense today confirmed that it had signed a contract with the Akhmat group of Chechen special forces, bringing it within defense ministry control. This is in contrast to the Wagner Group private military company, whose leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, yesterday refused to sign a similar contract. Previously, the Russian Ministry of Defense had announced that all so-called “volunteer units” — primarily mercenary organizations — be brought under defense ministry control by July 1. This means the groups answer directly to Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu.

This is of particular resonance to the Wagner Group, on the back of Prigozhin’s repeated criticisms leveled at the defense ministry, including its apparent failure to provide sufficient ammunition for his forces. This has led to what amounts to a feud between Prigozhin and Russian defense officials.

The Ukrainian General Staff claims that Russia is banning the use of some of its newly produced artillery because of defects.

“According to available information, large batches of 122mm and 152mm artillery ammunition of 2023 production are banned for use due to their self-detonation,” the Ukrainian General Staff claimed, without offering proof, on its Facebook page Sunday. “In addition, the deterioration of the level of provision of the occupiers’ units with weapons and military equipment is noted.”

Prisoner exchanges between the Russian and Ukrainian sides continue. A video of the latest such exchange was posted to Twitter by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelinsky, who also stated: “Every time we bring our people back from Russian captivity, we remember our fundamental goal: we will not leave anyone of ours, nothing of Ukraine to the enemy.”

Zelinsky said that the latest prisoner exchange saw 95 Ukrainian soldiers return from captivity, which brings the total number of returned Ukrainian PoWs to 2,526.

The Ukrainian president added: “We remember everyone, we are searching for each and every one of them, and we have to bring them all back. And we will!”

Meanwhile, prisoners continue to be captured by both sides, with this recent video showing Russian troops now in Ukrainian hands, in what is apparently recent footage from the counter-offensive.

And, on the other side, this video purportedly shows a significant number of Ukrainian soldiers who surrendered to Russian forces near Avdiivka:

Finally, the diversity of Ukrainian wildlife that has shown up on or near the front lines has become a recurring feature of the war. The latest example is almost certainly among the rarest documented so far: a marbled polecat. Listed as a vulnerable species, let’s hope this example of the multicolored critter made it safely off the battlefield.

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

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