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Ukraine update: Summer 2023

In the beginning of it all, as Russian tanks rushed towards Kyiv and Spetznatz attempted to remove Zelenskyy from power, many people wondered what the end of this war would look like. Few expected the rout of the 1st Guards Tank Army, one of Russia’s elite units, but even fewer expected Ukraine to be in the position to make a counteroffensive.

Now, with new weapon systems, including Leapord 2s being shipped to the war torn country, as well as the U.S.’s plan to send main battle tanks to the country, alongside various other Infantry and Armored Fighting Vehicles, the country has a new opportunity to harass Russian lines, push forward, and make steps towards reclaiming their country.

But a lot more has happened in Russia and Ukraine in the summer. In late June, the leader of the Wagner Military Group, a neo-Nazi mercenary company Yevgeny Prigozhin, led an almost-coup against the Kremlin. Decrying the Russian military’s treatment of Wagner as expendable, Prigozhin claimed that they were constantly being used in dangerous situations where the costs were much higher than any gains made from their usage. His response involved taking 25,000 Wagner mercenaries, occupying Rostov-on-Don, and then taking a column of troops and pointing them towards Moscow. Putin responded with a five-minute speech decrying the rebellion. Prigozhin called it an unsatisfying response, but within a day, Wagner stood down. The rebellion against Putin, something which displayed a flaw in the Russian military and Wagner’s power, lasted around 24 hours.

Two months later, a plane with Prigozhin and his staff on board was shot down by the Russian Air Defense, with no survivors. The coup ended with his death.

The situation has strengthened Putin’s grasp over one of the largest mercenary companies in the world, and taken out what could only be considered one of Putin’s only rivals in Russia. With the obstacle out of the way, the Kremlin has continued to assault Ukraine, launching drone attacks and attempting to prevent Ukraine’s counteroffensive. With summer coming to a close and the fall weather soon to be hitting the country, the counteroffensive may change tactics. As the U.S. continues to supply Ukraine with modern weaponry, it becomes far more likely that gains can be made against the aging Russian military core.