This Week in the Russia-Ukraine War (June 30)

A snapshot of recent news from sources around the world on the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.

Flag of the Wagner Group. Image – – Wikimedia

Russia’s Wagner Group mercenary company attacked the Russian government on June 23, taking its military headquarters in Rostov-on-Don and marching toward Moscow.  Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko negotiated a deal between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin on June 24, and has given Prigozhin haven in Belarus.

The U.S. announced a $500 million security assistance package for Ukraine on June 27. Equipment will be pulled from U.S. inventories. The package includes 30 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, 25 Stryker armored personnel carriers, Patriot air defense missiles, Stinger anti-aircraft systems, High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) ammunition, demolition equipment for mineclearing, 155mm and 105mm artillery rounds, TOW missiles, Javelin missiles, AT-4 anti-armor systems, anti-armor rockets, High-speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARMs), precision aerial munitions, small arms and over 22 million rounds of small arms ammunition and grenades, thermal imagery systems and night vision devices, maintenance and repair equipment, spare parts, generators, and other field equipment.

American and European sources told The Wall Street Journal on Thursday that Washington may approve Ukraine for the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), which carries a range of up to 190 miles. The Biden administration has thus far been unwilling to deliver ATACMS to Ukraine, but a senior Ukrainian official told the WSJ that Kyiv had seen “positive signs” about the system in recent weeks.

Australia will also deliver more military vehicles – 28 M113s, 14 “special operations vehicles,” 28 trucks, and 14 trailers – to Ukraine under an assistance package announced this week. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said, “This additional support will make a real difference, helping the Ukrainian people who continue to show great courage in the face of Russia’s illegal, unprovoked and immoral war.”

Another 10 M113s are coming from Lithuania as well, Lithuania’s defense minister announced on Wednesday.

Switzerland, however, has rejected the re-export of 96 Leopard 1A5 main battle tanks to Ukraine, saying this week that the proposed transfer of RUAG AG-owned tanks would be “inconsistent with applicable law.” Switzerland maintains a neutral foreign policy and has sought to avoid taking a side in the Russia-Ukraine war.

Rheinmetall will deliver 14 Leopard 2A4 tanks to Ukraine next year, with the first vehicle arriving in January 2024. The shipment stems from an April announcement by the Dutch and Danish governments that they will acquire tanks for Ukraine. The vehicles are upgraded Leopard 2A4 tanks acquired by Rheinmetall from the inventories of user nations

Herman Smetanin, the former head of Kharkiv Malyshev Plant, is succeeding Yuriy Husyev as the General Director of state defense conglomerate Ukroboronprom. In a statement, Ukraine’s Ministry for Strategic Industries said that Smetanin’s appointment is a first step in reforming the troubled manufacturer.

Germany, acting through Rheinmetall, is donating a further 20 Marder IFVs to Ukraine.  These vehicles come from German Army stocks.  Although not mentioned, Ukraine could also receive MILAN man-portable anti-armor missiles as part of this deal.

Moscow launched three cruise missiles and eight Iranian-made Shahed attack drones at targets inside Ukraine on June 26.  Two of the missiles were launched from a Russian submarine.

Poland is in talks with Ukraine concerning the sale of coastal defense systems.  Warsaw could supply Naval Strike Missiles to the Ukrainian military.  Advanced talks are underway.

Artillery units of the Ukrainian military are using locally built unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) to provide targeting data.  The 45th brigade is using these UAVs.  Each Leleka-100 UAV costs around EUR37,500 ($42,000).

The Lithuanian Ministry of National Defense responded to the continued brutal Russian missile attacks against military and civilian targets in Ukraine and to Ukraine’s request for urgent assistance in strengthening air defense.  Specifically, two medium-range NASAMS air defense system launchers will be purchased for the armed forces of Ukraine. On June 27, the Defence Materiel Agency under the Ministry of National Defense signed the acquisition contract with Norwegian company Kongsberg.

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