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Russo-Ukrainian war, day 71: massive airstrikes against Ukrainian civil infrastructure, Russians start storming Azovstal Plant

Ukraine war
Russo-Ukrainian war, day 71: massive airstrikes against Ukrainian civil infrastructure, Russians start storming Azovstal Plant
Article by: Hans Petter Midttun
Ukrainian defenses have stalled Russian advances in the East. Russian forces stormed the Azovstal Plant and have managed to break inside the plant’s facilities, many civilians are still trapped inside. During the night, Russian aircraft conducted from 200 to 300 airstrikes largely targeting Ukrainian transportation infrastructure. Ursula von der Leyen: “Putin wanted to wipe Ukraine from the map. He will clearly not succeed.”

Morning report day 71 – May 05


According to information from the General Staff:

“Russian forces do not stop conducting offensive operations in the Eastern Operational Zone in order to establish full control over the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and maintain the land corridor with the temporarily occupied Ukrainian Crimea.

The command of the Russian troops is trying to increase the pace of the offensive in the east of Ukraine to reach the administrative borders of Luhansk and Donetsk oblast, as well as to develop an offensive in the Zaporizhzhia and Kryvyi Rih areas.

In order to achieve certain goals, Russian forces are trying to inflict losses on units of the Defense Forces, regroup and strengthen its troops, and increase the system of fire damage and logistics.Ukraine war

Russian forces have intensified missile and bomb strikes in order to destroy Ukraine’s transport infrastructure.

At the same time, Russian forces are provoking tensions in the Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova. Carries out a regrouping of troops in certain areas, and takes measures to replenish reserves. Russian forces are trying to improve the tactical position of their units.

In the Volyn, Polissya, and Siversky directions, the forces did not take active action.

  • Certain units of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus continue to carry out tasks to strengthen the section of the Ukrainian-Belarusian border in the Brest and Gomel oblasts. There is an increase in the air defense system in the Gomel Oblast and training of electronic warfare units. In the future, demonstration and provocative actions in areas close to the state border of Ukraine are not excluded.
  • In order to maintain tensions at the border and prevent the transfer of reserves of Ukrainian troops to threatening areas, Russian forces keep units of the 90th Tank Division of the Central Military District near the Ukrainian-Russian border near the village of Kozino, Kursk Oblast. Intensification of shelling from the specified area across the territory of the Sumy Oblast is not excluded.

In the Slobozhansky direction, Russian forces continue to shell the city of Kharkiv and reconnoiter the positions of units of the Defense Forces of Ukraine. In the area north of the city of Izium continues artillery and mortar shelling.

  • In the Slobozhansky direction, there are Russian forces consisting of separate units of the 6th Combined Arms Army of the Western Military District, the 41st Combined Arms Army of the Central Military District, and the coastal troops of the Baltic and Northern Fleets. Airstrikes and shelling continue in the city of Kharkiv. Russian occupiers in the Valuysky district of the Belgorod Oblast deployed an auxiliary command post of the 36th Combined Arms Army of the Eastern Military District.
  • As part of the strengthening of the grouping of troops in this direction, Russian forces are moving personnel from the territory of the Belgorod Oblast.
  • In the Izium direction, Russian forces are trying to seize the initiative and conduct offensive operations in the Izium-Barvinkove direction. To this end, Russian forces are carrying out artillery shelling of the positions of Ukrainian troops in the areas of the settlements of Hrushuvakha, Nova Dmytrivka, and Kurulka.
  • In addition, Russian forces concentrated up to 40 attack and transport helicopters Mi-24 and Mi-8 on the territory of the Belgorod Oblast near the state border of Ukraine.

Russian forces artillery shelling along the line of contact continues in the Donetsk and Tavriya directions. Russian forces use operational-tactical and army aircraft to launch missile and bomb strikes in order to restrain the actions of Ukrainian troops.

  • The main efforts of Russian forces are focused on conducting an offensive on the settlements of Lyman, Orikhove, Popasna, Velyka Novosilka, Huliaipole, Komyshuvakha, and Orikhiv.
  • Russian forces units are trying to conduct offensive operations in the Lyman, Sievierodonetsk, and Popasna areas, but have been unsuccessful.
  • In the Avdiivka and Kurakhiv directions, Russian forces continue to shell the positions of the defenders of Ukraine.
  • In the Mariupol area, Russian occupiers are focusing their efforts on blocking and trying to destroy Ukrainian units in the Azovstal area. With the support of aircraft, the forces resumed the offensive to take control of the plant.
  • In the Sievierodonetsk direction, Russian occupiers launched an offensive in the direction of the settlement of Voevodivka but were unsuccessful.
  • To restrain the actions of units of the Defense Forces of Ukraine, Russian forces fire at the positions of Ukrainian troops almost along the entire line of contact. Russian forces inflict airstrikes in the areas of Avdiivka, Mariupol, Sievierodonetsk, Kramatorsk, and Huliaipole.
  • In the Novopavlovsk direction, Russian occupiers attempted to storm the settlement of Novosilka. Russian forces suffered losses and retreated.
  • In order to strengthen the grouping of troops, Russian forces transfer equipment and personnel by rail.

Russian forces did not conduct active hostilities in the Pivdenny Buh direction. It fired missiles and bombs at the positions of Ukrainian troops and the infrastructure of the region.

  • In the Pivdenny Buh and Tavriya directions, Russian occupiers, forces of separate units of the 8th and 49th Combined Arms Armies, the 22nd Army Corps, the Black Sea Fleet Coast Guard, and the Airborne Forces are fighting to hold temporarily occupied territories and create conditions for active actions in the directions Kherson-Mykolaiv and Kherson-Kryvyi Rih.
  • Due to the successful actions of Ukrainian defenders, Russian forces lost control over several settlements on the border of the Mykolayiv and Kherson oblasts.
  • In the Black and Azov Seas, the Russian Black Sea Fleet continues to carry out tasks to isolate the area of ​​hostilities, surveillance and fire support in the coastal direction. The possibility of involving the specified ship composition in the task of missile strikes on the territory of Ukraine is not excluded.
  • Three naval cruise missiles “3M-54 Kalibr” (SS-N-27 «Sizzler») warships are in the Black Sea in readiness for the use of missile weapons.

Yesterday, the air defense units of the Air Force and the Land Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine had hit nine air targets: four UAVs (two of them anti-aircraft missile units of the Land Forces) and three forces cruise missiles. Two planes were also hit. Previously – Su-30 fighters. The information is being clarified.

Eleven attacks were repulsed in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts over the past 24 hours, five tanks, seven units of armored combat vehicles and five units of enemy vehicles were destroyed.

According to available information, some servicemen of the 38th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade of the 35th Combined Arms Army of the Eastern Military District, after being taken to the recovery area, due to significant personnel losses, refused to continue participating in hostilities in Ukraine. The mentioned servicemen are in the area near the Ukrainian-Russian border and are waiting to be transferred to the Russian Federation.

Units of militants of the 2nd Army Corps of the 8th Combined Arms Army of the Southern Military District, located in the village of Svativskyi district of Luhansk oblast, staffed by locals from nearby settlements have low morale and psychological condition, significant problems with weapons and equipment and not ready to perform tasks.”

Russia is trying to increase the pace of its offensive in eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainska Pravda reports. “The Command of the Russian troops is trying to increase the pace of the offensive operation in the east of Ukraine in order to reach the administrative borders of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. It is also intending to develop an offensive in certain areas of the Zaporizhzhia and Kryvyi Rih fronts, a spokesman of the Ministry of Defense at a briefing at the Ukraine-Ukrinform Media Centre on 4 May. To this end, the forces are regrouping and strengthening their troops. It is building up the fire damage and logistical support systems.”

Russians break into the Azovstal plant in Mariupol, the Ukrainska Pravda. The assault began on Tuesday, after the second stage of the evacuation of civilians from the plant. On Wednesday, the Russians broke into the plant, which had previously been bombarded and shelled. Heavy fighting continues at Azovstal. There is no connection with the Ukrainian fighters. It is impossible to conduct a military operation to unblock the city of Mariupol right now, as Ukraine does not have enough heavy weapons and armored vehicles. The relevant statement was made by National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (NSDC) Secretary Oleksiy Danilov in an interview with ISLND TV, an Ukrinform correspondent reports. Late on May 4 Azov regiment posted a video address on telegram:

“Today is the 70th day of one-on-one opposition with overwhelming foe forces. Since April 25, we are holding the circle defense on the Azovstal plant. Today is the second day since the enemy broke into the territory of the plant. Hard bloody fights are on. I am proud of my soldiers who apply inhuman efforts to hold the foe. I thank all the world for its immense support of the Mariupol garrison. Our troops deserve this (support). The situation is extremely hard. But no matter what we continue executing the order to defend.”

Ukraine formally closes seaports captured by Russia, the Hellenic Shipping News reports. Ukraine has formally closed its four Black and Azov seaports, which Russian forces have captured, the Ukrainian agriculture ministry said on Monday.

“The Azov Sea ports of Mariupol, Berdiansk and Skadovsk and the Black Sea port of Kherson were closed “until the restoration of control”, the ministry said in a statement. “The adoption of this measure is caused by the impossibility of servicing ships and passengers, carrying out cargo, transport and other related economic activities, ensuring the appropriate level of safety of navigation,” it said.

All Ukrainian seaports have suspended their activity as a result of the Russian invasion in late February. Russian forces captured some ports and blockaded others. President Zelenskyy said on Monday Ukraine could lose tens of millions of tonnes of grain due to Russia’s control of Black Sea shipping, triggering a food crisis that will affect Europe, Asia, and Africa. “Russia does not let ships come in or go out, it is controlling the Black Sea,” Zelenskyy told the Australian news programme 60 Minutes. “Russia wants to completely block our country’s economy.”

According to British Defense Intelligence, (last 24 hours):

  • Belarusian land forces have been observed deploying from garrison to the field, for exercises. This is in line with seasonal norms as Belarus enters the culmination of its Winter Training cycle in the month of May.
  • Russia will likely seek to inflate the threat posed to Ukraine by these exercises in order to fix Ukrainian forces in the North, preventing them from being committed to the battle for the Donbas.
  • Deviation from normal exercise activity that could pose a threat to allies and partners is not currently anticipated.

As of Thursday 05 May, the approximate losses of weapons and military equipment of the Russian Armed Forces from the beginning of the war to the present day:

Russia losses Ukraine war

  • Personnel – more than 24700 people (+200),
  • Tanks – 1092 units (+15),
  • Armored combat vehicles – 2651 units (+41),
  • Artillery systems – 499 (+8),
  • Multiple rocket launchers – 169 (+6)
  • Air defense means – 83 (+2),
  • Aircraft – 196 (+2),
  • Helicopters – 155 (+0),
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 1907 (+40),
  • Vessels/boats – 10 units (+0),
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 312 (+9)
  • Special equipment – 38 (+0)
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0)
  • Cruise missiles – 89 (+2)

Russian enemy suffered the greatest losses (of the last day) in the Popasna direction.

Ukraine had developed an iOS app that tracks Russian losses. The application displays current statistics on the Russian loss of personnel and military equipment in live mode and contains a set of convenient widgets. Alty software company with the support of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine launched a mobile application on the iOS platform called «Русский корабль иди нах@й» (hereinafter – РКИН) which translates into “Russian ship go fuck @ y“, the famous statement made by the Ukrainian defenders of Zmiinyi (Snake) Island. The app contains a convenient widget that can be placed on the home screen of your smartphone for instant viewing of information. All data displayed in the widget are carefully collected by specialists of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine from verified sources. It is presently only available in Ukrainian.


500 Seafarers Trapped in Ukraine, the Seatrade Maritime News reports. The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) said that 500 seafarers remain on 109 vessels in Ukrainian ports or nearby waters, while 1,500 have been safely evacuated by land or sea corridors over the last six weeks. The 500 seafarers who remain are skeleton crews that remained on vessels while their colleagues were evacuated.

“Last week the IMO adopted a resolution on actions to facilitate the urgent evacuation of seafarers and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an escape route from the ‘apocalypse’ Mariupol. “The escape route out of ‘the apocalypse’ must be open to these seafarers as well,” said Natalie Shaw, Director of Employment Affairs for ICS. Vessels are stranded in: Mykolaiv (25), Chornomorsk (23), Kherson (16), Odesa (10), Berdiansk (8), Pivdennyi (6), Mariupol (5), Nika Tera (2), Ochakiv (2), Izmail (1), and Yuzhny anchorage (1). Of the 109 vessels stranded 42 are bulk carriers and 38 general cargo ships.”

According to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine as of May 4, Ukraine “managed to evacuate 344 civilians through humanitarian corridors from Mariupol. These are women, children, and elderly from the cities of Mariupol, Mangush, Berdiansk, Tokmak, and Vasylivka.” DPM also thanked the UN, ICRC, Ukraine State Emergency Service, and drivers of the evacuation transport for their dedicated effort.

According to UNHCR 5,657,185 refugees have been registered as of May 3. The UN says that so far Poland has taken in 3,094,446 refugees, Romania 846,521, Russian Federation 703,523, Hungary 539,821, Republic of Moldova 449,605, Slovakia 385,284, and Belarus 25,852. Among those who fled Ukraine are also Ukrainian nationals with dual citizenship. An additional 105,000 people moved to the Russian Federation from the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts between 18 and 23 February.

The number of Ukrainians entering Ukraine since February 28 is 1,410,500 as of May 3. This figure reflects cross-border movements, which can be pendular, and does not necessarily indicate sustainable returns.

OHCHR recorded 6,635 civilian casualties in Ukraine as of May 2. 3,238 were killed (including 227 children) and 3,397 injured (including 322 children).


In the Luhansk Oblast, the Russians destroyed or exported a three-year supply of grain, the Economic Truth reports.

The Russians took out or destroyed grain needs from the Luhansk Oblast for almost three years, sowing has not started. According to the Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food, the Russians exported about 100,000 tons of grain from the Luhansk Oblast,” The Luhansk Oblast military administration said in a statement.

The OVA reminded us that another 30,000 tons of grain were stored in the elevator destroyed in April in Rubizhne.

The annual demand of the Luhansk Oblast within its borders until February 24, 2022, amounted to 60 thousand tons of grain 240 thousand tons including the territories temporarily occupied in 2014. However, more than 90% of the land for farmers was concentrated in the northern part of the region, which was occupied by the forces in 2022 and where fighting continues. These territories provided grain to the whole region until 2014. They stressed that the Russians were leaving Ukrainians on the verge of starvation in the temporarily occupied territory.”

Millions of people facing ‘crisis’ levels of hunger face worse conditions because of the war, The New York Times reports.

“Even before Russia invaded Ukraine, injecting new uncertainty into the global food supply, a record number of people around the world were facing acute hunger, according to an annual report released Wednesday by an alliance of the United Nations, the European Union and anti-hunger agencies.

The report by the alliance, the Global Network Against Food Crises, said 193 million people in 53 countries or territories suffered hunger at “crisis or worse levels” in 2021, a 26 percent increase over the record established in 2020.

The report said these parts of the world “are particularly vulnerable to the risks created by the war in Eastern Europe, notably due to their high dependency on imports of food and agricultural inputs and vulnerability to global food price shocks.” Both Ukraine and Russia are important exporters of grain, particularly to countries in Africa.

Russia’s invasion has already compounded a drought and hunger crisis in East Africa, where below-average rainfall has created some of the driest conditions in four decades and more than 13 million people are facing severe hunger. The war, by destroying infrastructure and paralyzing harvests, has driven up prices for products like sunflower oil, trapped a crucial portion of the world’s wheat in Ukraine, and left a supply of the world’s fertilizer stuck behind Russian and Belarusian borders.”

AP evidence points to 600 dead in Mariupol theater airstrike, AP News reports. “Amid all the horrors that have unfolded in the war on Ukraine, the Russian bombing of the Donetsk Academic Drama Theater in Mariupol on March 16 stands out as the single deadliest known attack against civilians to date. An Associated Press investigation has found evidence that the attack was in fact far deadlier than estimated, killing closer to 600 people inside and outside the building. That’s almost double the death toll cited so far, and many survivors put the number even higher.

The AP investigation also refutes Russian claims that the theater was demolished by Ukrainian forces or served as a Ukrainian military base. None of the witnesses saw Ukrainian soldiers operating inside the building. And not one person doubted that the theater was destroyed in a Russian air attack aimed with precision at a civilian target everyone knew was the city’s largest bomb shelter, with children in it.

Together with the UN: Strasbourg Helps to Punish Russia for the Aggression against Ukraine, the European Truth reports.

“Among provisions of new Resolutions on the Russian aggression adopted by PACE, two points deserve particular attention.

First, the PACE called on all member states of the Council of Europe to “urgently set up an ad hoc international criminal tribunal” to “prosecute the crime of aggression” allegedly committed by the leadership of the Russian Federation and urge the UN General Assembly to support its creation.

Second, the PACE called on the UN General Assembly to “request an Advisory Opinion from the International Court of Justice on possible limits to the veto rights of permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.” This move is aimed at depriving Russia of the key leverage it uses to block any reaction of the Security Council to its aggression against Ukraine.

Experts are actively discussing the idea of ​​prosecuting the top leadership of the Russian Federation for the crime of aggression against Ukraine. As the crime of aggression has a special jurisdictional regime under the Statute of the International Criminal Court, it is necessary to establish a separate tribunal to prosecute it.

One of the first such initiatives was the Statement calling for the establishment of a special tribunal by Ukrainian and foreign international lawyers and politicians. Dmytro Kuleba, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, endorsed this initiative. However, it received some criticism as well. There are concerns that due to the immunity of heads of states, governments, and state officials, such a tribunal will not be able to prosecute the leadership of Russia i.e., Putin, Lavrov, and others.”

Et bilde som inneholder tekst Automatisk generert beskrivelse221 children were killed, and 408 children injured, the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine reports as of May 5. 1,584 educational establishments are damaged as a result of shelling and bombings, and 118 of them are destroyed fully. 9,831 crimes of aggression and war crimes and 4,723 crimes against national security were registered.


Sixth package of EU sanctions against Russia: Switching off SWIFT, banning propaganda, the Ukrinform reports. The sixth package of sanctions, in addition to a total ban on Russian oil imports, includes prosecution of war criminals, disconnection of banks from SWIFT, and a ban on propaganda.

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said that they were listing high-ranking military officers and other individuals who committed war crimes in Bucha and who are responsible for the inhumane siege of the city of Mariupol to send an important signal to all perpetrators of the Kremlin’s war. Ursula von der Leyen vowed to bring those responsible to justice.

The second point of the sixth sanctions package offers the ultimate disconnection from SWIFT of one of Russia’s largest banks, Sberbank, which accounts for about 37% of Russia’s entire banking sector. The same concerns other major Russian banks that are of systemic importance to Russia’s financial system and to Putin’s ability to continue his destructive actions. The ban on European institutions to provide any financial or consulting services to Russian companies will boost the de-SWIFTing of the banking sector.

Finally, the European Commission proposes to completely close the EU space for Russian propaganda. The EC President announced the ban on three Russian state-owned broadcasters from European airwaves. These companies will not be allowed to distribute their content in the European Union neither on cable, via satellite, on the Internet or via smartphone apps. These TV channels were identified as a means of the aggressive circulation of Putin’s lies and propaganda so the ban comes as a way to deprive Russia of a stage to spread disinformation.”

Australia has so far granted USD173 million in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, the Ukrinform reports. “This was stated by the Ambassador of Ukraine to Australia Vasyl Miroshnychenko, who spoke at the national telethon, Ukrinform reports. “To date, the total amount that Australia has provided to Ukraine is USD173 million. More than 40 million tonnes of humanitarian aid have been provided, as well as 70,000 tonnes of coal have been donated by Australia,” said Vasyl Miroshnychenko. He also recalled that last week the Australian Ministry of Defense approved an additional package of military assistance to Ukraine, which includes six towed 155mm howitzers and ammunition for these artillery systems.”

US Intelligence Is Helping Ukraine Kill Russian Generals, Officials Say, The New York Times reports. The US has provided intelligence about Russian units that have allowed Ukrainians to target and kill many of the 12 Russian generals who have died in action in the Ukraine war, according to senior American officials.

The targeting help is part of a classified effort by the Biden administration to provide real-time battlefield intelligence to Ukraine. That intelligence also includes anticipated Russian troop movements gleaned from recent American assessments of Moscow’s secret battle plan for the fighting in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, the officials said. …

The United States has focused on providing the location and other details about the Russian military’s mobile headquarters, which relocates frequently. Ukrainian officials have combined that geographic information with their own intelligence — including intercepted communications that alert the Ukrainian military to the presence of senior Russian officers — to conduct artillery strikes and other attacks that have killed Russian officers.”

Israel weighs expanding military aid to Ukraine after US request, the Axios reports.

Taking a careful approach to the war, Israel has so far refused Ukraine’s requests for advanced weaponry, and only last month agreed to send thousands of helmets and bulletproof vests for medical teams and first responders. But as Israel takes a more critical public line against Russia, it’s signalling it is increasingly open to supplying Ukraine with certain nonlethal military equipment”.

Push to arm Ukraine putting strain on US weapons stockpile, the Military Times reports.

” The US already has provided about 7,000 Javelins, including some that were delivered during the Trump administration, about one-third of its stockpile, to Ukraine, according to an analysis by Mark Cancian, a senior adviser with the Center for Strategic and International Studies international security program. Analysts also estimate that the United States has sent about one-quarter of its stockpile of shoulder-fired Stinger missiles to Ukraine.

Raytheon Technologies CEO Greg Hayes told investors last week during a quarterly call that his company, which makes the weapons system, wouldn’t be able to ramp up production until next year due to parts shortages. A White House official, who was not authorized to comment publicly and requested anonymity, said the Pentagon is working with defense contractors “to evaluate the health of weapons systems’ production lines and examine bottlenecks in every component and step of the manufacturing process.” The administration is also considering a range of options, if needed, to boost production of both Javelins and Stingers, the official said.”

New developments

  1. Ukraine will not agree to frozen conflict with Russia – Zelenskyy, the Ukrinform reports. Ukraine will not agree to a frozen conflict with Russia, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy has said. “He said this in a video address to the Wall Street Journal CEO Council Summit, according to an Ukrinform correspondent. “We will not go to a frozen conflict. I came to the presidency when there was Minsk-1, Minsk-2. There were respective documents that were violated, so I can say that these documents were not serious. However, there were arrangements on paper. It was a frozen conflict. I am against it. We will definitely not have such a document,” Zelenskyy stressed.”
  2. Stop, push them back, restore: Zelenskyy names three stages of the war, the Ukrinform reports. The statement came in a video address to the Wall Street Journal CEO Council Summit. “The first of them is to stop Russia’s advance, which, according to the president, Ukrainians have already done. The second phase is to push Russia out of Ukrainian territory. Work to this end is now ongoing. And the third is to restore the territorial integrity of Ukraine as much as possible.

“Restoring territorial integrity… Our number one task is to push Russian troops to the territories they had been in before February 24. We understand that it will be difficult to restore territorial integrity completely on the temporarily occupied Crimean Peninsula. And yet, I believe that we will be able in the future, having shown our might, which we’re demonstrating as hard as we can, to move to the diplomatic path because any war ends in diplomacy,” said the head of state.”

  1. Russia warns NATO: transport carrying weapons in Ukraine is a ‘target’, the Reuters reports. “Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Wednesday the Russian military would consider NATO transport carrying weapons in Ukraine as targets to be destroyed, RIA news agency quoted him as saying.”
  2. The US scheduled a UN Security Council meeting on Ukraine for Thursday, the first to be led by the US since the war began in February, The New York Times reports. The US assumed the Council’s rotating monthly presidency on May 1 and said more meetings could be scheduled on Ukraine as the situation demanded. António Guterres, the UN secretary-general, will brief the Council on Thursday. The US ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said on Tuesday that the council was succeeding in isolating Russia.
  3. EU leaders will consider Ukraine’s application for membership when the “best moment” comes, the Ukrainska Pravda reports. The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, “reminded that Ukraine’s application is already undergoing all necessary procedures at an accelerated pace. “In fact, a few days after we received the application, we quickly made a decision, instructing the European Commission to provide its conclusions. It usually takes 8-9 months. The de facto decision was made in a few days,” Michel added.”


On the War

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of Wednesday 4 May:

Ukrainian defenses have largely stalled Russian advances in Eastern Ukraine. Russian troops conducted a number of unsuccessful attacks in Eastern Ukraine on May 4 and were unable to make any confirmed advances. Russian forces attacking south of Izium appear increasingly unlikely to successfully encircle Ukrainian forces in the Rubizhne area. Ukrainian forces have so far prevented Russian forces from merging their offensives to the southeast of Izium and the west of Lyman, Sloviansk, and Kramatorsk, as Russian forces likely intended.

Russian forces reportedly entered the Azovstal Steel Plant – rather than its outskirts – for the first time on May 4. The extent of this Russian advance remains unclear, and Russian forces likely face further costly fighting if they intend to clear the entire facility. The Kremlin likely hopes that the successful capture of Azovstal through a ground assault will cement the Kremlin’s growing effort to claim complete control of Mariupol by May 9, with Russian propagandists recently arriving in the city to set conditions for further claims of a Russian victory. The Kremlin likely intends to claim some sort of victory in Mariupol to present success to the Russian people, though Russian forces are highly unlikely to halt offensive operations across Ukraine on this date.

Russian forces intensified airstrikes against transportation infrastructure in Western Ukraine on May 4 but remain unable to interdict Western aid shipments to Ukraine. Six Russian cruise missiles hit electrical substations near railway stations in Lviv and Transcarpathia (the southwestern Oblast of Ukraine) on May 4. A senior US defense official reported that Russian aircraft conducted 200 to 300 airstrikes largely targeting transportation infrastructure in the last 24 hours. The US official added that these Russian strikes are likely intended to disrupt Ukrainian transportation capabilities and slow down weapon re-supply efforts but have been unable to do so.

Key Takeaways

  • Russian forces engaged in several unsuccessful ground offensives to the south of Izium and did not significantly advance efforts to encircle Ukrainian troops in the cauldron to the southeast of Izium and west of the Donetsk-Luhansk frontline.
  • Russian forces reportedly stormed the Azovstal Steel Plant on May 4 and are likely operating inside the plant’s facilities.
  • Russian and Ukrainian sources confirmed that a Ukrainian counteroffensive pushed Russian troops back 40 kilometers from Kharkiv City.
  • Russian forces conducted a number of unsuccessful counteroffensives on the southern axis.

Because Russia’s invasion has failed to produce much in the way of victories, some analysts fear that President Vladimir V. Putin will use the occasion to turn what he has called a “special military operation” into an all-out war, and to mobilize Russians for a more broad-ranging conflict, The New York Times reports. The Kremlin, for its part, denied on Wednesday that it would declare war.

“Cossacks” and the unemployed are being agitated – covert mobilization is underway in Russia, the Defense Intelligence of Ukraine (DIU) claims.

To replenish the reserves of the armed forces of the Russian Federation continues measures of covert mobilization. Currently, the main focus is on recruiting “volunteers” from among the Russian “Cossacks” in the Rostov Oblast and the Krasnodar Territory. The focus is also on citizens who have lost their jobs due to international sanctions and former servicemen living in other post-Soviet countries.

The campaign is underway in other parts of Russia. According to available data, recruitment efforts are taking place in Bryansk, Kursk, and Belgorod oblasts. Local military enlistment offices offer short-term contracts for 3 months. The proposed salary of the “volunteer” – from 200 thousand Russian rubles.

At the same time, preparatory measures are being taken for the possible announcement of partial mobilization in the Belgorod, Kursk, and Bryansk oblasts in the event of a sharp deterioration of the situation on the Ukrainian front.

Campaigning events are met with significant distrust on the part of potential “mobilized”. After all, information about the significant number of people killed in the war with Ukraine is beginning to spread in Russia. Many of those who signed “short-term contracts” at the beginning of the war were unable to return home after the formal expiration of their contracts. Problems with the actual receipt of the promised funds are added – the military occupiers either cannot get the money at all or receive an order of magnitude smaller amounts.

Russia is trying to legitimize in the information space the narrative that World War 3 is currently taking place on the territory of Ukraine, according to the Center for Combating Disinformation at the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, the ArmyINFORM reports. According to the center, this interpretation is primarily aimed at internal audiences.

“Given that the Kremlin allegedly launched a” special operation “on the territory of Ukraine, not a war, it is becoming increasingly difficult to explain to the Russians the protracted nature of hostilities,” the center said in a statement.

On April 22, Major General Rustam Minnekayev was one of the first to voice the thesis that Russia is at war with the whole world. He compared the “special operation” on the territory of Ukraine with the Second World War. According to Minnekayev, “then and now the whole world has rebelled against Russia.”

Later, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that “NATO has entered a proxy war with Russia,” and on May 2, Russian State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin proposed to prosecute leaders of countries that supply weapons to Ukraine as war criminals.

In addition, for two months to demonize the countries consolidated around Ukraine, Russia is misinforming the public about the activities of an international network of biological laboratories that allegedly develop weapons of mass destruction.”

Ukrainian Intelligence told how capable Russian troops and military equipment are in Transnistria, the Ukrainska Pravda reports. The Head of the Defense Intelligence of Ukraine (DIU) has stated that the Russians are escalating the situation in Transnistria to use it as a psychological attack against Ukraine and are looking for ways to divide the Ukrainian army. He wrote the following on Telegram.

Realising the lack of significant success in their so-called “special operation” against Ukraine and the effectiveness of Ukrainian units, the Russian occupying forces are trying to create zones of instability near the Ukrainian border and the visibility of an attack of Russian and pro-Russian armed forces from Transnistria.

According to experts, the number of combat-capable and motivated personnel of the Russian Task Force in the Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova, whose task is to protect ammunition depots in the village of Kovbasna, does not exceed 300 people.

More than half of all munitions stored in warehouses have expired and are not transportable. Only 7-8 thousand tons are properly functioning and can be used.

About two-thirds of all military equipment in Transnistria is completely or partially unusable, and there is not the material means and production capacity to repair and restore it, the ministry said.

Potentially, Transnistria can be used as a springboard to establish supply lines and ensure the deployment of the Russian group in the Republic of Moldova, but this will be possible only if a land corridor with Russia through the southern regions of Ukraine is formed, the Head of DIU added.”

Consequences and what to do?

“Europe is finally ready to cut off Russian oil. It’s about time.” The Editorial Board of the Washington Post writes.

The European Union is about to deliver its biggest economic blow yet to Russian President Vladimir Putin: cutting off all E.U. imports of Russian oil. It won’t happen overnight. The proposal unveiled on Wednesday calls for a phaseout of Russian oil imports over the next six months and a ban on all Russian petroleum products by the end of the year. Still, it’s a huge turning point for Europe that is long overdue.

The E.U. has built a heavy reliance on Russian energy despite warnings from the United States and other allies. Before Putin brutally invaded Ukraine, the E.U. relied on Russia for a hefty 30 percent of its oil and 40 percent of its gas needs, according to Swiss bank UBS. Putin was counting on this dependence to keep the E.U. from pushing back too hard against his assault on Ukraine. Instead, the E.U. is showing a greater unity and willingness to sacrifice for Ukraine and the global good than most would have imagined possible only a few months ago.

President Biden halted Russian oil and natural gas imports on March 8, but that move was largely symbolic because the United States imported little from Russia. The E.U. ban will have real consequences, including a tangible financial blow to Putin. While Russia is likely to find other nations to buy some of the oil that would have gone to Europe, it will likely be a struggle to sell it all, and there will almost certainly be more discounting. …

As Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission said on Wednesday, “Putin wanted to wipe Ukraine from the map. He will clearly not succeed.”

The short-term fallout from the ban will be harsh. In the United States, diesel prices have hit record highs in recent days. Crude oil prices are back above $100 a barrel and jumped again after the E.U. proposal was unveiled. The E.U. is scrambling to find more sources of crude oil and natural gas. Its members can get some additional supplies from Norway and the United States, but a heavier reliance on North Africa and Middle Eastern supplies are inevitable. For Biden, his best choice is likely to get Venezuela to ramp up oil production.

Soaring energy prices are clearly a hardship. But it’s important to remember how much progress has been made. Germany is a good illustration; it has reduced its Russian oil imports from 35 percent of its needs last year to 12 percent now, coal from 45 percent to 8 percent, and natural gas from 55 percent to 35 percent. It’s better late than never for the E.U. to wean itself off Russian energy”.

Assessment by Hans Petter Midttun

US intelligence is helping Ukraine kill Russian generals, officials say. The revelation does not come as a surprise as there have been numerous indications of the fact. It is still highly sensitive at a time when the West is trying to maintain a “safe distance” to avoid the “war from spreading” to the rest of Europe. The messaging is of course a matter of diplomatic maneuvering since the Russian Federation has long declared that it is exposed to a total war with the US and NATO.

The sensitivity is highlighted in the New York Times article.

“The administration has sought to keep much of the battlefield intelligence secret, out of fear it will be seen as an escalation and provoke President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia into a wider war.

Asked about the intelligence being provided to the Ukrainians, John F. Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said that “we will not speak to the details of that information.” But he acknowledged that the United States provides “Ukraine with information and intelligence that they can use to defend themselves.”

After this article was published, Adrienne Watson, a National Security Council spokeswoman, said in a statement that the battlefield intelligence was not provided to the Ukrainians “with the intent to kill Russian generals.”

Not all the strikes have been carried out with American intelligence. A strike over the weekend at a location in eastern Ukraine where Gen. Valery Gerasimov, Russia’s highest-ranking uniformed officer, had visited was not aided by American intelligence, according to multiple US officials. The United States prohibits itself from providing intelligence about the most senior Russian leaders, officials said.

The United States routinely provides information about the movement of Russian troops and equipment and helps Ukraine confirm the location of critical targets. Other NATO allies also give real-time intelligence to the Ukrainian military”.

Once out in the open, Russia will be forced to respond to the claim that “US intelligence is helping Ukraine kill Russian generals”. Its reaction will, however, help determine its willingness to engage NATO militarily. I suspect it will continue doing what it has done for more than 8 years already”, namely do it very best to avoid a confrontation with the West.

If – or rather when – NATO finally decides to engage in an UN-mandated humanitarian intervention in Ukraine, this will have the same impact as when the US joined the war efforts under both WW1 and 2. It will help end the war on Ukrainian terms. It will help speed up the inevitable Russian defeat. And it will help alleviate the multiple ripple effects of the war before Europe enters recession and political turmoil.

It is a win-win situation for Europe. It is, however, potentially a win-win for Russia as well as it will be forced to speed up its internal “review” of President Putin’s position. Is he the right man for the job? Until he is out of office, the Russian Federation will continue its downward spiral.

The report is based on media reports, expert analyses, and official information posted online.


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