It appears that Michael Jackson’s Moonwalk is being performed by French President Emmanuel Macron and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. First up, Macron. You do not have to speak French to understand that his previous position of standing firm against Russia has changed and he believes Ukraine should cut a deal with Russia to save itself:
The time will come when we have done all we can to help Ukraine resist.
When, as I hope, Ukraine will have won and the fighting ceased, we will have to negotiate.
“The Ukrainian president and his leaders will have to negotiate with Russia.”
An artful statement but the implications are clear. Macron, while paying lip service to the hope that Ukraine prevail in the war with Russia, sees the writing on the wall and is doing his bit to encourage Zelensky to recognize the reality and negotiate an end to the war with Russia.
Macron is not the only one waving a caution flag–NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaking on Sunday doubled down on the need for NATO to keep supplying weapons to Ukraine but did his version of the walk back two-step by conceding that Ukraine probably will have to give up territory if it negotiates an end to the conflict with Russia:
Peace is possible,” he outlined. “The only question is what price are you willing to pay for peace? How much territory, how much independence, how much sovereignty…are you willing to sacrifice for peace?
Stoltenberg did not suggest what terms Ukraine should accept, saying that “it’s for those who are paying the highest price to make that judgment,” while NATO and the West continue supplying arms to the Ukrainians to “strengthen their hand” when a settlement is eventually negotiated.
Take a look at the following updates on the state of the war and you will grasp why the outlook for Ukraine is bleak.
Southfront provides the update on key Russian missile strikes in western Ukraine against U.S. and NATO supplied weapons:
On June 15, Russian Kalibr missiles hit the area of the settlement of Zolochiv in the Lviv region. As a result, an ammunition depot for foreign weapons transferred to Ukraine by NATO countries, including 155-mm M777 howitzers, was destroyed.
Among other targets for Russian missiles there was the Voznesensk military airfield in the Mykolaiv region. Russian strikes destroyed aviation equipment of the Ukrainian Air forces.
Situation in Kharkiv region as at 22.00 on June 15, 2022
▪️The fighting in the north of the region intensified last day. After prolonged fighting near Velikiye Prokhody, the Russian Armed Forces launched an offensive on Dementyevka and Russkaya Lozovaya. The liberation of these villages will make it possible to attack the enemy grouping in Prudyanka and Slatino from the flank.
▪️Eastward, fighting continues in the vicinity of Rubizhne and Ternova. The Russian Army fights for the right bank of the Seversky Donets, trying to prevent the enemy from setting up a crossing.
▪️ In connection with the Russian Armed Forces’ offensive, additional AFU artillery pieces have been redeployed to the vicinity of Dergachy. The advancing Russian forces are also being fired at from the direction of Zolochev and Bezruk.
▪️In the morning hours, Russian troops struck the barracks building in Zolochev, where two companies of the AFU soldiers were quartered. There was an ammunition depot in the basement, which detonated as a result of the strike.
▪️In the Izyum direction in the area of Protopopovka and Petrovsky, the Ukrainian armed forces managed to build another crossing over the Seversky Donets. Similarly, Ukrainian troops are attempting to flank Russian forces advancing in the Donbass, drawing attention and forces to Izyum. Attempts to cross are countered by Russian Armed Forces sabotage and reconnaissance groups operating in the forests near Rudnevo.
▪️Russian reconnaissance groups are also operating in the forest belt near Barvenkovo in search of AFU units trying to slow down the advance of the RAF.
Situation in the Nikolaev-Kherson direction as at 23.00 on June 15, 2022
▪️The Ukrainian armed forces are preparing for an offensive by the Russian army in the Nikolayev direction. The enemy is equipping fortifications in the villages of Novaya Zarya, Pravdino and Posad-Pokrovske, located on the Nikolaev-Kherson highway.
The Russian Armed Forces’ position is reconnaissance by Bayraktar TB2 UAVs operating from the Shkolny airfield in Odessa. The airfield was repeatedly struck in May 2022, but apparently the AFU is guided by the principle “lightning does not strike twice in one place.
▪️On the Krivoy Rog direction regular artillery duels continue. The AFU struck Russian positions in Ivanovka, Potemkino and Mirolyubovka. The Russian Armed Forces, in turn, struck Ukrainian formations in Zelenodolsk, Apostolovo and Topolin.
In anticipation of a Russian offensive, the AFU is strengthening its positions in the Novovorontsovka – Osokorovka – Trudolyubovka area.
▪️ Information was received from the field about the shelling of the Russian Armed Forces’ positions in the west of the Kherson region from Tochka-U missile launchers. The launchers were positioned near the village of Rauhovka, Odessa region.
▪️Regular leaks of data on the actions of the AFU forced the enemy command to introduce a daily regime of radio silence, effective at certain hours of the day and at night.
In addition, to avoid radio interception, the Ukrainian forces actively use the Bukovel radioelectronic countermeasures complex at the section.
▪️The new authorities of Kherson region announced today that the Kherson seaport has resumed its operation.
Despite the importance of the event and the economic significance of the facility, so far its functionality is severely limited. Normal activity of the enterprise is hindered by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, who blocked with barges and mined the exit to the sea through the Dnieper-Bug Bay. In addition, without taking control of Ochakov and adjacent territories, the Ukrainian side can easily fire barrel and rocket artillery at ships in the estuary.
At the same time, the lifting of cargoes along the Dnepr to Zaporizhzhya and Dnepropetrovsk oblasts is impossible because of the risks of ships being sunk by Ukrainian formations from the right bank of the river.
The Russian order of battle in the Donbas remains opaque. It appears that Russia is relying on the militias of Donetsk and Luhansk as the primary strike forces to retake territory in their respective regions. Russia is supplying artillery units, electonic warfare, anti-aircraft/air defense, drone intelligence and air operations with both fixed and rotary wing craft. I think some western analysts made the mistake of assuming that Russia was providing the lead strike forces and that the militias were tagging along to provide support as needed.
But there are indications that the bulk of Russian forces have not been committed to battle and are being kept in reserve along with Russia’s more advanced weaponry. I believe that the Russian General Staff want to have a card or two to play in the event that NATO decides to insert itself into the fray.
Regardless of which forces are in the lead, the “special military operation” continues to grind down Ukrainian military units and the Ukrainians have been unable to mount a credible counter offensive to push the Russians and the Donbas militias back.