DAY 491

Victory Chronicles
-DAY 491

June 29,2023

We have seized strategic initiative; there are advances – Ukrainian Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief

The Ukrainian Defence Forces have managed to seize the strategic initiative at the front and have been pushing forward, said General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU), during a telephone conversation with Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley.

“We discussed the situation at the frontline. We have managed to seize the strategic initiative, the Security and Defense Forces of Ukraine continue to conduct offensive operations, and we are making progress. The enemy is putting up a strong fight while suffering heavy losses. They are trying to hold on to their positions through massive mining of the area,” said Zaluzhnyi.

He also briefed Milley on the current needs of the Ukrainian Armed Forces for weapons, ammunition, and mine clearance equipment. He thanked him for the military aid package announced by the United States earlier. “We agreed to stay in touch and coordinate actions to ensure the liberation of Ukrainian territory,” the Commander-in-Chief of the AFU concluded.


Symbolic number of the Day - 78

The vast majority of Ukrainians – 78% – have close relatives or friends who were injured or killed by the Russian invasion. This is evidenced by a sociological survey conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology on May 26 – June 5, 2023. Commenting on the survey results, KIIS Executive Director Anton Grushetsky said that Russia’s war against Ukraine had formed a tragic collective experience for most Ukrainians. In all corners of Ukraine, the majority of the population has relatives or friends who were wounded or killed by the Russian invasion.

War in Pictures

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has met with Valerii Markus, a sergeant major in the 47th Separate Mechanised Brigade Mahura, to discuss the reform of the sergeant corps.

It is vital to get first-hand information about the morale and fighting spirit of the military. Especially considering that the always-brave fighters of “Magura” are now taking an active part in actions at the front. We discussed changes, the implementation of which in the Ukrainian army would help to improve the service. Thanks to Valerii for the suggestions regarding digitalization and the introduction of automated accounting systems, which will allow spending less time on paperwork and will enable quickly receiving the necessary information, of course, taking into account security forms. We discussed the sergeant corps reform, particularly the provision of a decent salary for sergeants per their service experience. Our army and all its components must be modern and equipped with everything necessary, not only on the battlefield, said Zelenskyy.


Video of the Day

In Kramatorsk, on the morning of June 29, rescuers pulled another person’s body from the rubble, which brings the death toll to 12. Rescuers specify that 9 adults and 3 children died.) Eleven people were rescued from the rubble. “Emergency rescue operations have been completed,” the SES added. 

ISW report

Independent Belarusian monitoring group, The Hajun Project, cited flight tracking data on June 27 suggesting that Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin’s jet took off from the Machulishchy airfield in Belarus towards Russia, flew to Moscow, and then immediately took off for St. Petersburg. 

Former Russian officer and prominent critical milblogger Igor Girkin claimed that Prigozhin returned to Russia to negotiate with unspecified Russian officials and the Wagner Commander’s Council. ISW cannot independently confirm if Prigozhin did, in fact, return to Russia, nor the details of the purported visit, but Prigozhin may have returned briefly to work out further details of the deal negotiated by Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko. Russian sources continued to speculate on the specifics of this deal on June 28. A Wagner-affiliated Russian milblogger posted an interview with a Belarusian Wagner fighter wherein the fighter claimed that Wagner has opened a “new combat direction” in Belarus and that some Wagner fighters will “work in Russia” while some “work in Belarus.” Russian opposition outlet Meduza, citing a source within the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD), claimed that only 1,000 Wagner fighters went to Belarus with Prigozhin.

War Heroes

Colonel Serhii Yaremenko receives the title of Hero of Ukraine. On June 28, the Constitution Day of Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine to Colonel Serhiy Yaremenko, commander of the 96th Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade of the Center Air Command. Since the beginning of the large-scale invasion, Serhiy Yaremenko has been leading the troops in repelling air attacks on Ukraine’s central and northern regions. Most importantly, he provides air defense for the capital of Ukraine.

It was the anti-aircraft gunners under the command of Serhiy Yaremenko, call sign “Granit,” who withstood fierce air attacks on Kyiv in May and June, not allowing any of the more than 200 targets to hit the objects accurately, and destroyed 13 “invincible” X-47 “Kinzhal” air defense missiles. They have mastered modern anti-aircraft missile systems from various manufacturers and are increasingly demonstrating a 100 percent success rate in repelling Russian attacks.

– “I always say thank you to the entire brigade after each target is destroyed,” the commander assured. “Excellent results are achieved both, of course, thanks to the weapons and, above all, to the skill of the anti-aircraft gunners, who rarely act in a standardized way. Our people have invaluable experience, and I am not exaggerating. I am sure we will write it down in books that a new generation of anti-aircraft gunners will study. Serhii Yaremenko noted that air defenses a year ago and now are radically different. The officer hopes we will see an even more robust level of air defense in a year. “I am confident that the entire ‘legacy of the USSR’ will gradually become history, and the brigade will be fully rearmed with modern equipment. I am convinced that everyone has now realized how important it is to invest in the country’s air defense,” he said.


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