The weekend was quite hot in the Ukraine war. For one, Ukrainian forces got another incursion into Belgorod region of Russia, this time taking a few POWs before retreating to Ukrainian territory. Militarily meaningless, but a PR ‘victory’ needed to keep the appearances – and also an attempt at drawing Russian forces from the places in the line of contact that they really mean to attack in their much-hyped counteroffensive.
Also of notice was the first real Ukrainian counterattack on the Zaporozhye region. Russian Defense Ministry:
“On the morning of June 4, the enemy launched a large-scale offensive in 5 sectors of the front in the South Donetsk direction with the introduction of the 23rd and 31st mechanized brigades from the strategic reserves of the Armed Forces of Ukraine with the support of other military units and subunits.
In total, 6 mechanized and 2 enemy tank battalions were involved. The enemy’s goal was to break through our defenses on the most vulnerable, in his opinion, sector of the front. The enemy did not achieve his tasks, he had no success
As a result of skillful and competent actions of the Eastern Group of Forces, the losses of the Armed Forces of Ukraine amounted to more than 250 personnel, 16 tanks, 3 infantry fighting vehicles, 21 armored fighting vehicles.
The commander of the united group of troops, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation Gerasimov during this period was at one of the forward command posts in this direction.”
Russian forces also managed to get a breakthrough in the Kupyansk direction of the front.
“In the past few days, Russian fighters have resumed their assault on Ukrainian positions north and northeast of Kupyansk. Recall that as a result of the sortie on May 15, the Russian Armed Forces were able to gain a foothold on the opposite bank of the Oskol River.
[…] Positional battles near Kupyansk are important – thanks to the actions of Russian fighters, the AFU are forced to strengthen the defense of the city and keep forces in this area. This has already affected the plans of the AFU to march on Svatovo, which were postponed indefinitely.”
But the most salient news come from the always controversial CEO of Wagner PMC, Yevgeny Prigozhin: the boss of the mercenary troops that have just taken Bakhmut in the biggest battle since WW2 is always at odds with the Russian Defense Ministry.
And now the unbelievable news arrive that Wagner forces have arrested a Russian commander of the 72nd Brigade for mining the roads blocking the passage of Wagner troops, and later opening fire on Wagner personnel and armored car.
Here’s how it all started a few days ago, by a Reuters report:
“Russian mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin, who has been arguing with top military brass for months, on Friday escalated the feud by accusing pro-Moscow forces of trying to blow up his men.
[…] Prigozhin, writing on Telegram, said his men had discovered a dozen locations in rear areas where defense ministry officials had planted various explosive devices, including hundreds of anti-tank mines. When asked why the charges had been set, the officials indicated it was an order from their superiors.
‘It was not necessary to plant these charges in order to deter the enemy, as it (the area in question) is in the rear area. Therefore, we can assume that these charges were intended to meet the advancing units of Wagner’, he said.”
The initial reaction among Russian sources was of disbelief, followed by the shock of finding out not only that is was true, but actually quite worse:
“We all laughed and balked at the ridiculousness of the claim. Har, har, Yevgeny, that’s a good laugh. What a comedian. The Russian MOD perhaps laughed with us, and it seems it’s exactly what Prigozhin wanted, as he deliberately set the trap. In an interview elsewhere, he stated that he deliberately ‘saved the cherry on top’ to be revealed afterwards.
And the cherry he dropped was a mega bombshell. Wagner forces ‘captured’ the Russian commander of the 72nd Brigade who, whilst drunk, was caught shooting at the Wagner vehicles with his men. Yes, you read that correctly: Wagner captured a Russian commander as a POW.
[…]It seems Prigozhin’s constant squawking about the enmity between Russian troops and Wagner were not empty bluster. There does appear to be great professional rivalry, but it should be said that rumors are much of that rivalry has to do with Prigozhin’s unprofessionally antagonistic comments towards this very 72nd Brigade.”
As the new week begins, Ukrainian forces are now heavily attacking in the Soledar direction, just north of Bakhmut. It does seem like the counteroffensive has finally begun.