Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 10, 2023

June 10, 2023 - Press ISW

Ukrainian forces conducted counteroffensive operations in at least four areas of the front on June 10. Russian sources reported Ukrainian activity in Luhansk Oblast near Bilohorivka. Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Serhiy Cherevaty noted that Ukrainian forces advanced up to 1,400m in unspecified areas of the Bakhmut front, and Russian milbloggers reported Ukrainian advances northwest and northeast of Bakhmut. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and other Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian troops conducted localized attacks in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area, particularly in the Velyka Novosilka area. Geolocated footage posted on June 10 additionally indicates that Ukrainian forces in western Zaporizhia Oblast made localized gains during counterattacks southwest and southeast of Orikhiv, and Russian milbloggers continued to claim that Russian forces in this area are successfully defending against attempted Ukrainian advances.

Iran Update, June 9, 2023

June 9, 2023 - Press ISW

Iran is establishing military storage facilities in eastern Syria, likely to facilitate Iranian weapons transfers and military entrenchment along a critical transportation route into the country. A senior Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) official in al Mayadin ordered Lebanese Hezbollah-run, US-sanctioned construction company Jihad al Binaa to excavate land for weapons warehouses and tunnels in eastern al Mayadin, according to local anti-Iranian outlet Eye of Euphrates on June 8. Separately, Iranian-backed militants transported a large construction crane to dig tunnels and build warehouses near the Ain Ali Shrine in the southern outskirts of al Mayadin on May 31.These construction projects are part of a larger Iranian effort to build military infrastructure throughout Deir ez Zor Province. CTP previously reported Jihad al Binaa and the IRGC built a barracks, weapons storage facility, training camp, and dozens of houses for families of Iranian-affiliated militants in Deir ez Zor City on May 19. Iran stores advanced weapons in underground sites to protect the materiel from detection and destruction, especially from Israeli airstrikes, indicating Iran intends to build up an advanced weapons stockpile in al Mayadin. Iranian-backed militias have previously targeted US forces from al Mayadin.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 9, 2023

June 9, 2023 - Press ISW

Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations in least four areas of the front on June 9. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that Russian forces repelled limited and localized Ukrainian ground attacks in the Kreminna area. Ukrainian officials stated on June 9 that Ukrainian forces advanced 1.2 kilometers in continued offensive operations near Bakhmut on June 8. Ukrainian forces continued limited counteroffensive operations in western Donetsk Oblast near the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border on June 9, and made tactical gains in the area. Ukrainian forces also continued ground attacks in western Zaporizhia Oblast overnight from June 8 to 9 and during the day on June 9, and a Russian source suggested that Ukrainian forces made incremental gains during the attacks.

Salafi-Jihadi Movement Weekly Update, June 7, 2023

June 9, 2023 - Press ISW

Iraq and Syria. The Iraq and Syria section is on pause until the Salafi-Jihadi Movement Weekly Update, June 21, 2023.

Burkina Faso. Burkinabe forces greatly increased their operations against al Qaeda–linked militants near Burkina Faso’s southern border in May, which has likely temporarily degraded the militants’ support zones in the area. The uptick in operations is in response to the growing presence of the al Qaeda–linked group in the area throughout 2023. The al Qaeda–linked militants will likely maintain their support zones in southeastern Burkina Faso and strengthen them as Burkinabe forces scale back counterterrorism pressure over time, using nearby havens along the borders with Benin, Ghana, and Togo.

Pakistan. The Afghan Taliban may be aiding Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) efforts to coerce Pakistan into entering negotiations by supporting TTP attacks in Pakistan. The Taliban stated it will relocate TTP militants and other Pashtun refugees away from the border with Pakistan, likely to persuade Pakistan to negotiate with the TTP. The Taliban may be seeking to manage relations with the TTP and Pakistan. The Pakistani government has repeatedly asked that the Taliban address TTP safe havens in Afghanistan in recent months.

Afghanistan. Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) resumed conducting attacks after a two-month operational pause and assassinated a Taliban deputy governor in Badakhshan Province, northern Afghanistan. ISKP’s use of a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) indicates it has likely established a support zone around the provincial capital of Badakhshan Province. Taliban security measures have so far been insufficient to prevent ISKP from repeatedly assassinating local Taliban leadership in Badakhshan.

China–Taiwan Weekly Update, June 9, 2023

June 9, 2023 - Press ISW

Ongoing sexual harassment scandals primarily within the DPP may increase the domestic appeal of TPP presidential candidate Ko Wen-je, who promotes cross-strait policies broadly emphasizing economic and political engagement with China. The scandals began on May 31 when a DPP Women’s Department employee said she was sexually harassed during her time with the party. Some sexual harassment claims are also arising in the KMT against tangential party figures. KMT presidential candidate Hou Yu-ih claimed solidarity with all victims of sexual assault. The TPP under their presidential candidate Ko Wen-je has not faced harassment allegations. Ko attacked the DPP for not doing enough for the victims. In concert with societal criticism, this prompted DPP presidential candidate Lai Ching-te and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen to publicly apologize and launch three internal party processes to prevent further sexual harassment in the DPP. Ko’s June 4–8 visit to Japan along with absence of sexual harassment allegations toward members of his party has distanced him from press coverage of the scandals. He frames his candidacy as an alternative to the DPP and KMT that can better manage cross-strait relations via unspecified economic and political engagement. He does this without providing details about his policy platform. This framing positions Ko as the candidate who could pick up swing voters offput by the DPP-centric sexual assault scandal but also wary of the KMT’s deep support for the 1992 Consensus.

Iran Update, June 8, 2023

June 8, 2023 - Press ISW

An IRGC Quds Force-affiliated recruitment center in Deir ez Zor City is recruiting Syrians for counter-US operations in Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) territory. This reporting supports CTP’s assessment that Iran may be preparing to direct proxy attacks against US forces in Syria.

CTP previously reported that Iranian and Russian military officials met to discuss expelling the United States from Syria, which may indicate Russia’s intent to facilitate Iranian-backed attacks on US forces. CTP is considering several hypotheses about how Russia would interact with an Iranian-backed campaign against US forces in Syria.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 8, 2023

June 8, 2023 - Press ISW

Ukraine has conducted counteroffensive operations with differential outcomes in at least three sectors of the front as part of wider counteroffensive efforts that have been unfolding since Sunday, June 4. Ukrainian officials signaled that Ukrainian forces have transitioned from defensive to offensive operations in the Bakhmut sector and are making gains of between 200 meters and nearly two kilometers on the flanks of the city. Ukrainian forces have made tactical gains during limited localized counterattacks in western Donetsk Oblast near the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border since June 4. Ukrainian forces additionally conducted an attack in western Zaporizhia Oblast on the night of June 7 to 8 but do not have appeared to have made gains as part of this attack as of the time of this publication.

Iran Update, June 7, 2023

June 7, 2023 - Press ISW

Iranian and Russian military officials met to discuss expelling the United States from Syria, which may indicate Russia’s intent to help facilitate Iranian-backed attacks against US forces.

Iran’s Parliamentary Internal Affairs Committee has proposed amending the parliamentary election law, which will likely empower hardliners to retain power in the March 2024 parliamentary election. The proposed election law amendments could decrease public faith in Iran’s electoral process and reduce voter participation in the March 2024 parliamentary election.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 7, 2023

June 7, 2023 - Press ISW

The destruction of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant (KHPP) dam is significantly changing the geography and topography of the Kherson frontline sector in southern Ukraine. Near-infrared (NIR) imagery captured at 0400 am ET on June 7 indicates that the flooding is heavily disrupting Russian prepared defensive positions on the east (left) bank of the Dnipro River – especially affecting Russian first-line positions in Hola Prystan and Oleshky. Various sources reported that Oleshky, Hola Prystan, Kozacha Laheri, and Dnipryany are almost entirely flooded with water levels rising to the height of a one-story buildings in some areas. The Ukrainian headquarters established to remediate the consequences of the dam’s destruction reported that as of June 7 29 settlements are partially or fully flooded, 19 of which are located on the Ukrainian-controlled territory and 10 on Russian occupied territories. Russian sources published footage indicating that water had begun receding in Nova Kakhovka and had dropped by 30cm. Russian sources also claimed that water levels decreased by three to four meters in some areas from a high of 10 meters. Water levels in nearby Mykolaiv City reportedly increased by 70cm as of June 7. Flooding will likely worsen and further change the geography in Kherson Oblast over the next 72 hours.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, June 6, 2023

June 6, 2023 - Press ISW

Damage to the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant (KHPP) dam in the early hours of June 6 caused massive flooding of the Dnipro River delta, river wetlands, estuaries, and shoreline settlements in Kherson Oblast. Russian and Ukrainian sources began reporting loud noises resembling explosions emanating from the KHPP (across the Dnipro River in the Nova Kakhovka area about 55km northeast of Kherson City) between 0200 and 0230 local time on June 6, followed by reports of rushing water and an overall increase in the water level of the Dnipro. Ukraine’s Kherson Oblast Administration announced the evacuation of several raions (districts) of the west (right) bank of Kherson Oblast as of 0730 local time and reported that the Tyahinka, Odradokamianka, Beryslav, Ivanivka, Mykilske, Tokarivka, Ponyativka, Bilozerka, and Ostriv areas had been partially or completely flooded. Russian Kherson Oblast occupation officials announced the evacuation of the Nova Kakhovka, Hola Prystan, and Oleshky raions. Ukrainian officials noted that over 80 settlements are within the flood zone in Kherson Oblast. General Director of Ukraine’s hydroelectric power plant regulator Ukrhydroenergo Ihor Syrota said that water is draining from the Kakhovka Reservoir at a rate of 15-20cm an hour, which Syrota stated means that the reservoir will be entirely dry in the next four days. A researcher at the Ukrainian Department of Water Bioresources at the Kherson Oblast Agrarian and Economic University, Yevhen Korzhov, noted that the rate of water discharge from the dam may lead to flooding as far downstream as Kizomys, about 120km southwest from the KHPP. A Russian milblogger claimed that the water level in Nova Kakhovka, immediately adjacent to the KHPP, reached as high as 11m. Various Russian sources additionally highlighted footage showing that several east (left) bank settlements, including Oleshky, Korsunka, and Dnipryany, are entirely or nearly entirely underwater.