Russo-Ukrainian war, day 75: Russian forces amassing on the border near Kharkiv for a new offense

Western support to Ukraine

 

Daily review

Article by: Hans Petter Midttun

Russian forces did not make any significant advances on any axis. They concentrate in Belgorod north of Kharkiv to prevent the ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensive. Russian plans to completely seize the Luhansk Oblast before 9 May have failed. Occupiers cut the water supply to one million residents of the Luhansk Oblast.  The US imposed new sanctions against Russia. Amnesty International: “Russian forces must face justice for a series of war crimes committed in the region northwest of Kyiv.”

Morning report day 75 – May 09

Situation

According to information from the General Staff:

“Russian forces continue to conduct full-scale armed aggression against Ukraine.

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 between these territories and the occupied Crimea.Ukraine war

The greatest activity of Russian occupiers is observed in Slobozhansky and Donetsk directions.

The main focus of Russian forces’ efforts was to destroy the airfield infrastructure to prevent the actions of Ukrainian aircraft, including the Bayraktar UAV, to support the actions of air units in the area of ​​responsibility of the Joint Forces and the Black Sea Operational Zone. Increased the intensity of operational and tactical aviation over the north-western Black Sea.

At the same time, there is a high probability of missile strikes throughout Ukraine.

In the Volyn, Polissya and Siversky directions, no signs of Russian forces offensive groups were formed. Certain designated units of the Republic of Belarus continue to carry out tasks to strengthen the protection of the Ukrainian-Belarusian border.

  • Russian forces did not take active action. Until May 27 this year, a training meeting of territorial defense units will be held in the Minsk district with the involvement of conscripts who are in reserve.
  • There is a possibility that the units of the armed forces of the Russian Federation will launch missile and bomb attacks on the infrastructure of Ukraine from the territory and airspace of the Republic of Belarus.
  • Russian forces did not take active action in the Siversky directions. Intensified units of the Border Guard Service, as well as units of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, continue to be detained at checkpoints and in the border areas of the Bryansk and Kursk oblasts.
  • Further fire damage to our troops and infrastructure in the border areas is not ruled out.

Russian forces did not conduct active offensive operations in the Slobozhansky direction. It focuses on the regrouping of units, replenishment of ammunition, and fuel, maintenance of previously occupied positions and prevention of advancement of units of the Defense Forces of Ukraine towards the state border.

  • Russian occupiers did not carry out active offensive operations in the Kharkiv direction. Military and civilian infrastructure continues to be shelled.
  • In the Izium direction, Russian forces’ main efforts by units of the 1st Tank Army, the 20th Combined Arms Army of the Western Military District and the 29th, 35th, 36th Combined Arms Armies, the 68th Army Corps of the Eastern Military District and the Airborne Forces focuses on preparing for the continuation of the offensive in the directions of Sulyhivka – Nova Dmytrivka and Sulyhivka – Kurulka.
  • In the Izium direction, Russian forces conducted air reconnaissance with the use of the Orlan-10 UAV to clarify the positions of Ukrainian troops.
  • In order to prevent the advance of units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Russian forces concentrated up to nineteen battalion tactical groups on the territory of the Russian Federation in the Belgorod Oblast. The transfer of personnel and military equipment to the replenishment of units that have suffered significant losses in Ukraine continues.

In the Donetsk direction, Russian forces, with the support of aircraft and artillery, focused their efforts on trying to take control of the settlements of Rubizhne, and Popasna, and preparing to continue offensive operations in the settlements of Siversk, Sloviansk, Lysychansk, and Avdiivka. It has increased its firepower and is trying to break through the defenses of our troops.

In the Tavriya direction, Russian forces are conducting demonstrations to bind Ukrainian troops, improving the logistics system.

In the Donetsk and Tavriya directions, Russian forces are fighting to restrain the actions of units of the Defense Forces of Ukraine.

  • During the last day, Russian forces intensified hostilities. Carried out regrouping, replenishment of losses, increased air defense systems and logistics.
  • In the Lyman direction, separate units of the 90th Tank Division tried to take full control of the settlement of Oleksandrivka, as well as, with the support of artillery, to gain a foothold in the northern outskirts of the settlement of Shandryholovo. It was not successful.
  • In the Sievierodonetsk direction, Russian forces are trying to seize the settlement of Rubizhne, but without success.
  • In the Popasna direction, Russian forces are trying to take up positions in the settlement of Popasna and take control of the section of the Popasna-Bakhmut highway.
  • Russian forces are advancing in the direction of the settlement of Novoselivka, it has no success, and the fighting continues.
  • In the Kurakhiv direction, Russian forces are trying to improve the tactical situation in the direction of the settlement of Novomykhailivka, but have no success.
  • In the Mariupol direction, the intensity of hostilities has been reduced.
  • In the Novopavlovsk and Zaporizhzhia directions, Russian forces intensified air reconnaissance in the areas of the settlements of Orikhiv, Huliaipole, Komyshuvakha, and Yasna Polyana.
  • In the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, the defenders of Ukraine have successfully repulsed six forces attacks, destroyed 20 tanks, one artillery system, 28 units of armored combat vehicles, one special armored vehicle and 5 units of forces vehicles.

Russian forces did not conduct active hostilities in the Pivdenny Buh directions. It focused on shelling the positions of units of Ukrainian troops using available artillery, including multiple rocket launchers.

  • In the temporarily occupied territory of Zaporizhzhia oblast, cases of seizure of personal documents from the local population without good reason were noted, the return of which will take place if the people latter will participate in ceremonial events on the occasion of Victory Day.
  • On the territory of the temporarily occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Russian forces were actively preparing for ceremonial parades.
  • The situation in the Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova has not changed. Local armed formations and units of the task force of Russian troops continue to be in “Full” combat readiness.
  • Russian forces are trying to hold positions with forces of up to 15 battalion tactical groups. Carried out replenishment of losses. It used military aircraft in the area of ​​the town of Careyerne.
  • Measures of the administrative-police regime in the temporarily occupied territories are underway. Thus, there is an intensification of filtering measures by rosguard units in the areas of Heroyske, Hola Prystan, and Kherson settlements.
  • There is a possibility that assault operations will be carried out in certain areas to improve the tactical situation, bind our troops and prevent the transfer of reserves.

On the previous day, the air defense units of the Air Force and the Land Forces had hit ten air targets of Russian occupiers, including six Orlan-10 unmanned aerial vehicles, one Forpost UAV, and three cruise missiles.

The moral and psychological condition of the Russian occupiers remains low, there is a systematic use of alcohol and desertion. The personnel of Russian units complains about the ineffectiveness of their attacks on the position of the Defense Forces of Ukraine in the Huliaipole area.”

Armed Forces retreat from Popasna to stronger positions, the Ukrayinska Pravda reports.

“All free settlements of the Luhansk Oblast are hot spots. Right now there are gun battles in Bilohorivtsi, Voievodivtsi and the direction of Popasna. Our troops have retreated from Popasna. The Armed Forces of Ukraine are now in stronger positions, which they had prepared ahead of time,” the head of the Oblast Military Administration, Serhii Haidai, said on the 24-hour live national television channel. Haidai insisted that the Russians’ plans “to completely seize the Luhansk Oblast before 9 May” are unrealistic.

Azov Regiment says they still have weapons to fight the Russians with, the Ukrayinska Pravda reports. “We still have provisions; we still have weapons. We may be short of military equipment and heavy artillery, but we can’t use artillery now anyway, because it’s too close to the city itself, Ilya Samoilenko, an intelligence officer from the Azov Regiment, said. Russia hasn’t stopped using artillery yet.

“Our resources here are limited. All our supplies are limited because we are not getting any resupply: we have now been fighting on our own for almost two and a half months. We still have water, we still have ammunition, we still have personal weapons – we will fight until we have the best possible resolution of the situation.”

Samoilenko said that Azov have killed 2,500 Russian troops and destroyed 60 of their tanks in Mariupol, but that the commander of the 36th Marine Brigade, Volodymyr Baraniuk, escaped with some of his subordinates, taking tanks and ammunition.

According to Samoilenko, the defenders of Mariupol have four options, but the only acceptable one is to fight, and captivity would mean death for them.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says it is impossible to unblock the city of Mariupol through military means at the moment, and Russia returns Ukrainian servicemen only if they were taken prisoner and released via prisoner swap, the Ukrinform reports.

Border areas in Sumy Oblast and Chernihiv Oblast come under forces fire, the Ukrinform reports. On the evening of May 8, 2022, Russian troops twice shelled the border areas in Sumy Oblast and Chernihiv Oblast. The relevant statement was made by the Ukrainian Internal Affairs Ministry on Telegram, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.

Satellite: Russia draws anti-aircraft missile forces to the north of Crimea, the Radio Svoboda reports. The satellite recorded the collection of anti-aircraft missile forces of the Russian army in the north of the occupied Crimea – to the village of Filativka, located near the Kherson Oblast. According to a military expert who, at the request of journalists, analyzed the photo, in addition to the barracks, there is a fuel and lubricants warehouse in this area.

“You can also see about two hundred combat armored vehicles of various types and trucks and command vehicles. Separately appeared large equipment, which, according to experts, can be anti-aircraft and missile mobile systems. From the looks of it, we can say that this is one of the three types of missile systems, namely: the Uragan multiple rocket launcher, the S-300 anti-aircraft system, or the Iskander operational-tactical missile system, a military expert told Schemes.”

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

  • At the onset of its invasion of Ukraine, Russia publicly promoted its ability to conduct surgical strikes and limit collateral damage. It stated that Ukrainian cities would therefore be safe from bombardment.
  • However, as the conflict continues beyond Russian pre-war expectations, Russia’s stockpile of precision-guided munitions has likely been heavily depleted. This has forced the use of readily available but ageing munitions that are less reliable, less accurate, and more easily intercepted. Russia will likely struggle to replace the precision weaponry it has already expended.
  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has revealed shortcomings in its ability to conduct precision strikes at scale. Russia has subjected Ukraine’s towns and cities to intense and indiscriminate bombardments with little or no regard for civilian casualties.

As of Monday 09 May, the approximate losses of weapons and military equipment of the Russian Armed Forces from the beginning of the war to the present day:Russian losses

  • Personnel – more than 25650 people (+150),
  • Tanks – 1145 units (+15),
  • Armored combat vehicles – 2764 units (+23),
  • Artillery systems – 513 (+4),
  • Multiple rocket launchers – 185 (+6)
  • Air defense means – 87 (+1),
  • Aircraft – 199 (+0),
  • Helicopters – 158 (+2),
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 1970 (+9),
  • Vessels/boats – 12 units (+1),
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 377 (+17)
  • Special equipment – 41 (+2)
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0)
  • Cruise missiles – 94 (+2)

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

Humanitarian

Russians cut the water supply to 1 million residents of the Luhansk Oblast, the Ukrayinska Pravda reports. Shelling by the Russian army has resulted in damage to the facilities of the Popasna water plant, cutting water supplies to 1 million residents of the Luhansk Oblast, Serhiy Haidai, the head of the Luhansk Oblast Military Administration, stated on Telegram.

“According to Serhiy Haidai, water supplies are completely suspended for an indefinite period in Popasna, Zolote, Hirske, Pervomayske, Kadiievka, Alchevsk, Khrustalne, Antratsyt, and in such villages as Toshkivka, Chekhirove, Loskutivka, Pidlisne, Vovcheiarivka, Maloriazantseve, Lysychanske (with a total number of approximately 1 million residents). It is emphasised that water supplies can be restored only after cessation of hostilities.”

Over 32,000 inquiries were received from Russian families as to soldiers’ whereabouts, the Ukrinform reports.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine has already received a total of about 32,000 appeals in which the relatives of Russian soldiers who had gone missing in the war with Ukraine ask about their fate. That’s according to Viktor Andrusiv, the adviser to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, who spoke on Channel 24, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.”

According to UNHCR 5,801,159 refugees have been registered as of May 6. The UN says that so far Poland has taken in 3,167,805 refugees, Romania 857,846, Russian Federation 739,418, Hungary 557,001, Republic of Moldova 453,848, Slovakia 391,592 and Belarus 26,278. 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 1,492,500 as of May 6. This figure reflects cross-border movements, which can be pendular, and does not necessarily indicate sustainable returns.

OHCHR recorded 6,802 civilian casualties in Ukraine as of May 5. 3,309 were killed (including 234 children) and 3,493 injured (including 330 children).

Environmental

Europe’s hard-hit east is pushing the toughest response in Ukraine. Eastern European economies will see the effects of the war for decades, the Economist reports.

I decided to include the article for two reasons. Firstly, it illustrates parts of the ripple effects of the war that have yet to gain their full momentum. The West has some challenging months and years ahead, depending on NATO’s resolve to resolve the war. Secondly, and perhaps most important, is that it demonstrates the huge difference between western and eastern Europe regarding resolve to confront the Russian aggression.

The responses of central and eastern European states to the Ukraine crisis “will define the region for decades to come,” says Sona Muzikarova of Globsec, a think-tank in Bratislava. Undeterred by the economic pain of the war, they are showing by example that Russian aggression must be firmly resisted.

When Russia invaded Ukraine, many eastern European countries responded with hawkish resolve, fearing they could be next. Their governments pushed for the EU to cripple Russia’s economy and dug deep into their own pockets (some deeper than western counterparts) to send Ukraine weapons and aid. Countries in the EU’s east have taken in most of the 5.6m refugees who have fled the war. But doing the right thing does not come cheap, and the economic fallout of being frontline states is starting to show.

Trade was the first victim. Russia has been a big export market for some economies in the region. Trade with Russia accounted for 6% of GDP in Latvia and Lithuania in 2021 and 1.5% in Poland and Slovakia. In 2021 Russia received roughly a tenth of non- EU exports from Poland and the Baltic states. Most such links are probably severed for good, but they see that as a price worth paying. “It is Poland’s key political interest that the West does not return to doing business with Russia,” said Piotr Arak, head of the Polish Economic Institute, a government think-tank in Warsaw. …

Energy imports are especially thorny. Slovakia and Hungary, which got 96% and 58% of their oil from Russia last year, say any EU oil embargo should be phased in gradually. Other countries are better prepared. The Baltic states ended Russian gas imports in April and now rely on liquefied natural gas (LNG) imported via ships. Poland has embargoed Russian coal and, like most countries, rejected Russia’s demand to pay for gas in roubles. In response Gazprom, which supplies 40% of the country’s gas, halted deliveries to Poland (and Bulgaria) last week. But Poland, too, has an alternative gas-import plan through its own LNG terminal and new pipelines to the gas grids of Norway and Lithuania.

Shunning Russian energy means higher prices. That will be especially painful in Europe’s poorer east. Inflation was already higher in eastern Europe before the war; in April it reached double digits in many countries. In some, consumer energy bills are fixed by regulation, delaying the pain. In Slovakia, for instance, prices will only be updated in January. But “the prospect of a 100% increase in household gas prices has not sunk in yet,” says Michal Horvath, the central bank’s chief economist.

In Poland, inflation hit 12.3% in April, a headache for the ruling party, which faces elections next year. … For the majority of Poles it remains clear that the state is responsible for maintaining price levels.” To soften the blow, the government has cut value-added tax on food, gas, fuel, and fertiliser. It dubs an upcoming economic package an “anti-Putin shield”.

Russo-Ukrainian war, day 75: Russian forces amassing on the border near Kharkiv for a new offense ~~Central banks will have to act, too, notably by raising interest rates. But that will have unpleasant consequences. In Poland, where about 90% of loans to households and businesses have variable rates, mortgage-holders are heavily exposed. Banks have already tightened credit standards considerably. Along with inflation, rocketing house prices, and sagging business confidence, that could spell a “perfect storm”, says Adam Czerniak, head of research at Polityka Insight, a think-tank in Warsaw. Higher interest rates and weakening economies mean that rising government debt will become more expensive to service, especially in countries such as Hungary where debt is already high.

Spending on refugees will further spur inflation. Take housing. In Warsaw, rents have jumped by more than 30% since the end of February. Strains on public services are similar. Refugees have swelled Poland’s population by almost 8% since the war in Ukraine started. That puts pressure on health care and education, which were already in poor shape. This will be partially offset, however, by the newcomers joining the local labor forces. In Slovakia and Hungary, the dedication of NGOs and private citizens has compensated for a lack of public services for refugees.

The war’s economic costs to eastern Europe look formidable. But that seems not to have softened countries’ resolve. The economic hit is seen as manageable. Poland’s economy, which remains strong, had not seen a recession in almost three decades until the covid-19 pandemic, notes Wojciech Kopczuk of Columbia University. The Baltic countries suffered much worse during the financial crisis, adds Morten Hansen of the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga. Citizens absorbed that suffering because it was needed to join the euro, part of the countries’ strategic drive to integrate into the West. As in the current crisis, they were willing to undergo economic pain to safeguard their independence. …”

Legal

Russian forces must face justice for war crimes in Kyiv oblast, Amnesty International said on 6 March.

“Russian forces must face justice for a series of war crimes committed in the region northwest of Kyiv, Amnesty International said today in a new briefing following an extensive on-the-ground investigation.

The briefing, ‘He’s Not Coming Back’: War Crimes in Northwest Areas of Kyiv Oblast is based on dozens of interviews and extensive reviews of material evidence. Amnesty International documented unlawful airstrikes on Borodyanka, and extrajudicial executions in other towns and villages including Bucha, Andriivka, Zdvyzhivka, and Vorzel. …

The pattern of crimes committed by Russian forces that we have documented includes both unlawful attacks and wilful killings of civilians,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

“We have met families whose loved ones were killed in horrific attacks, and whose lives have changed forever because of the Russian invasion. We support their demands for justice and call on the Ukrainian authorities, the International Criminal Court, and others to ensure evidence is preserved that could support future war crime prosecutions. …

During 12 days of investigations, Amnesty International researchers interviewed residents of Bucha, Borodyanka, Novyi Korohod, Andriivka, Zdvyzhivka, Vorzel, Makariv, and Dmytrivka, and visited sites of numerous killings.

In total, they interviewed 45 people who witnessed or had first-hand knowledge of unlawful killings of their relatives and neighbors by Russian soldiers, and 39 others who witnessed or had first-hand knowledge of the airstrikes that targeted eight residential buildings.”

Et bilde som inneholder tekst Automatisk generert beskrivelse226 children were killed, and 415 children injured, the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine reports as of May 9. 1,635 educational establishments are damaged as a result of shelling and bombings, and 126 of them are destroyed fully. 10,464 crimes of aggression and war crimes and 4,977 crimes against national security were registered.

Support

G7 committed to supporting Ukraine until its victory and recovery, the Ukrinform reports. The G7 leaders issued a joint statement pledging to continue providing security, economic, and humanitarian support to Ukraine, increase pressure on Russia, and unite to gain the victory of freedom in Europe and around the world. “Through its invasion of and actions in Ukraine since 2014, Russia has violated the international rules-based order, particularly the UN Charter, conceived after the Second World War to spare successive generations from the scourge of war,” reads the G7 leaders’ statement.

“The G7 leaders reassured President Zelenskyy of their “continued readiness to undertake further commitments to help Ukraine secure its free and democratic future, such that Ukraine can defend itself now and deter future acts of aggression.”

To this end, the international partners promised to pursue their ongoing military and defense assistance to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, continue supporting Ukraine in defending its networks against cyber incidents and expand cooperation on information security. “We will continue to support Ukraine in increasing its economic and energy security,” the document underscores.

In the coming weeks, the G7 leaders pledged to step up their collective short-term financial support to help Ukraine close financing gaps and deliver basic services to its people, while also developing options to support long-term recovery and reconstruction. “We call on all partners to join our support for the Ukrainian people and for refugees, and to help Ukraine to rebuild its future,” the statement emphasizes.

The G7 leaders also state that they will spare no effort to hold President Putin and the architects and accomplices of this aggression, including the Lukashenko regime in Belarus, accountable for their actions in accordance with international law. …

“We will continue to counter the Russian strategy of disinformation, which deliberately manipulates the global – including the Russian – public in the hope of shrouding the Russian regime’s culpability for this war,” the statement says.

In addition, G7 leaders pledge to continue to impose severe and immediate economic costs on President Putin’s regime; phase out dependency on Russian energy; prohibit or otherwise prevent the provision of key services on which Russia depends; take action against Russian banks connected to the global economy; elevate campaign against the financial elites and family members.

G7 leaders highlight the threat to global food security posed by Putin’s war. “Together with the United Nations, we call on Russia to end its blockade and all other activities that further impede Ukrainian food production and exports, in line with its international commitments,” reads the statement. …

“We remain united in our resolve that President Putin must not win his war against Ukraine. We owe it to the memory of all those who fought for freedom in the Second World War, to continue fighting for it today, for the people of Ukraine, Europe, and the global community,” the G7 leaders state.”

Canada to provide NLAW and other anti-tank weapons to Ukraine, the Ukrinform reports.

The relevant statement was made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a joint press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv. We will provide everything needed and fund demining efforts, Trudeau said. Trudeau also announced his intention to temporarily remove trade tariffs on Ukrainian imports for one year and that Canada will be imposing new sanctions against Russian oligarchs and close associates of the Russian regime.”

The US imposed new sanctions against Russia, CNN reports.

The US announced a slate of new sanctions against Russia on Sunday, cutting off Kremlin-controlled media outlets from American advertisers and prohibiting the country from using US-provided management and accounting consulting services, according to a senior administration official and a White House fact sheet. The announcement also included new export controls against the Russian industrial sector and roughly 2,600 visa restrictions on Russian and Belarusian officials, as well as the first sanctions against executives of Gazprombank, the institution through which most of Europe buys Russian gas.”

Britain to increase tariffs on Russian platinum, and palladium in new sanctions, the Reuters reports.

Britain announced on Sunday it will increase tariffs on platinum and palladium imports from Russia and Belarus in a new package of sanctions targeting 1.7 billion pounds ($2.10 billion) of trade, which it said aimed to further weaken Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war machine. Import tariffs on a range of products will be raised by 35 percentage points, Britain said, while it will also ban exports of goods such as chemicals, plastics, rubber and machinery to Russia, worth a combined 250 million pounds ($310 million)”.

New developments

1. Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation – Ukraine’s message to the world and Russia. Following the joint victory of Ukraine and the anti-Putin coalition in the war against Russia, a revised security system must be created that will truly ensure that war, occupation, and aggression never really happen again. This was stated in a comment by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine on the Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation.

In its barbarian methods, Putin’s regime has already surpassed Hitler’s Third Reich. The atrocities of the Russian army in this war have shocked the world, and investigations of Russian military’s crimes are already under way in order to bring all responsible to justice,” reads the statement. The Ukrainian diplomats state that the impact of the war is felt worldwide, as Russia openly endangers the peace of the EU countries and jeopardizes global food security, while looting Ukrainian grain, blocking shipments from Ukrainian ports and threatening agriculture. “As with the anti-Hitler Coalition 80 years ago, the democratic world is now united again in the face of common challenges to our shared values.

2. Pelosi urges, US Congress to approve $33 billion in aid for Ukraine by end of May, the Reuters reports. ME: The $150 million packages of weapon supplies announced on Friday means that only $100 million is available from previously authorized funding for Ukraine. Biden is pressing Congress to authorize a huge $33 billion Ukraine package, which would include $20 billion in military assistance, and last for five months. If US Congress does not approve the package until the end of May, very limited weapon supplies can be expected the next month

3. President Zelenskyy received the President of the German Bundestag, Barbel Bas, the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and the President of the Norwegian Storting Parliament, Masud Gharahkhani, during the last 24 hours. Additionally, the US First Lady Jill Biden visited Uzhgorod on May 8, Mother’s Day. She met with Ukraine’s First Lady, Olena Zelenska, as well as families who were forced to leave their homes due to the war.

4. Greece helps Russia circumvent sanctions, the Ukrinform reports. Russian oil tankers continue to call at European ports unhindered amid EU attempts to limit Russia’s ability to export energy. Greece is now helping Russia to circumvent this ban. That’s according to Die Welt, Ukrinform reports. It is noted that Greek shipowners are expanding their business with Russia. In April, Greece’s share in the transportation of Russian oil tripled against 2021. According to Lloyd’s insurance company, a total of 190 tankers departed from Russian ports in April, of which 76 flew the Greek flag.

Assessment

On the War

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of Sunday 8 May:

Russian forces did not make any significant advances on any axis of advance on May 8. The Ukrainian counteroffensive northeast of Kharkiv City has likely forced Russian troops to redeploy to Kharkiv instead of reinforcing stalled Russian offensive operations elsewhere in eastern Ukraine. Russian forces are continuing their attempt to reach the administrative borders of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts but have not made substantial territorial gains since securing Popasna on May 7.

Russian forces did not conduct confirmed attacks in any direction from Izium on May 8. The Ukrainian General Staff stated that Russian forces continued to regroup units, replenish reserves, and reconnoiter Ukrainian positions to continue offensives in the Izium-Barvinkove and Izium-Sloviansk directions.1

Russian forces intensified ground, air, and artillery attacks in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts on May 8. Ukrainian sources reported that Ukrainian forces withdrew from Popasna, confirming that Russian forces established full control of the city in the last few days. The Ukrainian General Staff stated that Russian forces are attempting to reach the administrative borders of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts, which is confirmed by social media footage of ongoing fighting along existing Russian lines of advance. Ukrainian sources reported active fighting in Bilohorivka, Vojevodivka, and Lysychansk, indicating that Russian forces may intend to encircle Sievierodonetsk from the south (in support of ongoing operations in Rubizhne, north of Sievierodonetsk) and push west toward the Luhansk Oblast border.

Russian forces are likely amassing in Belgorod to deploy to the Kharkiv City region to prevent the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the area from reaching the international border. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that units of the 1st Tank Army are concentrating in Belgorod, Russia, for deployment to areas near the Ukraine-Russia border. … ISW previously assessed that the Ukrainian counteroffensive northeast of Kharkiv City has forced Russian forces to deploy reinforcements to the Kharkiv city area instead of deploying them to Russian axes of advance. The Ukrainian counteroffensive did not make any confirmed advances on May 8.

Russian forces did not make any confirmed ground attacks on the Southern Axis on May 8. … Russian forces focused on reconnaissance and regrouping frontline units in likely preparation to renew offensive operations on the Southern Axis, although the likelihood of their ability to do so successfully is doubtful. Satellite imagery notably showed Russian forces concentrating anti-aircraft missile forces and multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) in Filatovka, northern Crimea, between April 27 and May 5. Such reconnaissance and renewal measures indicate that Russian troops are preparing to restart offensive operations, likely in the direction of Zaporizhzhia and Kryvyi Rih, in the coming days.

Key Takeaways

  • Russian forces are likely amassing in Belgorod to reinforce Russian efforts in northern Kharkiv to prevent the ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensive from pushing closer to the Ukraine-Russia border.
  • Russian forces near Izium focused on regrouping, replenishing, and reconnoitering Ukrainian positions in order to continue advances to the southwest and southeast of Izium.
  • Russian forces continued their ground attacks to drive to the borders of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts but did not make any territorial gains
  • Russian troops continued to assault the Azovstal Steel Plant and advanced efforts to economically integrate occupied Mariupol into the wider Russian economy.
  • Russian troops may be preparing for a renewed offensive on the Southern Axis but are unlikely to be successful in this endeavor.

Putin has put himself at the center of Russia’s Victory Day. But he has little to celebrate, the CNN reports.

President Vladimir Putin … had clearly hoped to have more to celebrate by this Victory Day on Monday, the country’s most patriotic of dates, marking the Soviet Union’s role in defeating Nazi Germany in World War II. It was on 8 May 1945, (9 May 9 Moscow’s time zone) that Germany signed its Instrument of Surrender in Berlin, ending the fighting in Europe. The USSR suffered the biggest losses of any nation — around 27 million soldiers and civilians died.

Russia’s justification for war in Ukraine suggested a deadline for success by Victory Day. Putin and his government have repeatedly said the aim of their so-called “special operation” is to “denazify” Ukraine, and that freeing the country of Nazis is a matter of Russian survival. It’s an argument that has no real weight; a blatant cover for Russian revanchism.

Even though the Kremlin’s well-oiled propaganda machine has been going at full steam since the February invasion, it will be difficult for Putin to twist Russia’s losses into true victory on Monday. …

Ukraine’s armed forces claim that Russia has lost more than 25,000 troops in just over two months, and more than 1,000 tanks, over 2,600 armored vehicles, and hundreds of aircraft. … Russia’s guided-missile cruiser the Moskva — once the crown jewel of its Black Sea fleet — is now a wreck, sitting destroyed in the depths of the sea. Meanwhile, Putin’s foes in the West, whom Russia had tried so hard to divide over years, are increasingly united, all for the cause of ensuring victory for Ukraine. …

Sitting in Russia, however, it’s easy to think that the war is going to plan. Russian propaganda is flooding the media, which is almost entirely state-controlled, but in March the government also passed a law making “false news” about the military illegal, a crime that comes with a maximum 15-year jail term. …

Any advancements are amplified in Russian media, where the messaging of success is very clear, Tatiana Stanovaya, founder of the political analysis firm R. Politik, told CNN. The message is that Russia is moving according to plan and everything is going as it should, that there are some gains. ….

That messaging is filtering through to the Russian people effectively, according to Levada Center polls, which show that not only do the vast majority of Russians support the war, but 68% of Russians think the operation is proceeding successfully. Putin’s popularity has also soared to 82%, … the month of Russia’s invasion. Polling in Russia must be taken with a grain of salt, however, given people are subject to a stream of propaganda and dissent is not tolerated.

Stanovaya added that there was an additional narrative in state media that Russia is the victim of this war and that the country is acting defensively. “When you’re watching Russian TV for several days, you can really start believing that we are in huge danger of Ukrainian Nazis. That we are vulnerable, that we should, we must get up and protect ourselves, otherwise, it’s a matter of Russian existence,” she said.

There’s a growing sense of nervousness that with so little to show the world — if not Russians — more than two months into the war, Putin may double down on his “special operation.”

UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace even suggested last week on a UK radio station that Putin may drop his guise of a “special operation” and outrightly declare war. Doing so could trigger a huge mobilization of Russian fighters, even civilian conscripts. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Wednesday dismissed Wallace’s suggestion as “nonsense.” But if Russia’s military continues to deplete at the rate it is, it’s not impossible that Putin will make that decision at some point.

Andrei Kolesnikov, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said he thinks Putin’s original plan was to declare victory and an end to hostilities on Monday. “But it is obvious that the war is dragging on, and Putin’s plan is not getting any clearer…” he said, speaking to CNN from Moscow.

While Victory Day is about World War II, it has also become a source of legitimacy for Putin, who has found ways to associate himself with the day, said Kolesnikov, who accuses the leader of simplifying the historical details and “turning the celebration into a pompous ritual.” …

“Of course, the new generations do not really understand the significance of the holiday,” Kolesnikov said. “Those who do understand and know history are horrified by the way Putin has privatized it.” And on Monday, the significance of 9 May may change yet again, depending on what Putin has to say.”

Assessment by Hans Petter Midttun

My assessment from yesterday stands. Russia is presenting itself as both a victim as well as a country with imperial rights. We can, therefore, expect President Putin to use Victory Day to rally Russia for defense against the “US and NATO attempt to destroy Russia”. He will argue that NATO is engaged in a proxy war with Russia. “Washington is essentially coordinating and developing military operations, thereby directly participating in military actions against our country.”

President Putin will expand on earlier statements of the West waging a total (hybrid war), economic, information, and cultural war against Russia. Having described the sanctions as an act of aggression, President Putin will probably present this as evidence of what the Kremlin has for years described as a threat to the Russian Federation. He might also argue – as Russia already has done in the past – that the West is responsible for de “Nazification” of Ukraine. He will link today’s security situation with the fundamental threat the Soviet Union were facing in 1941.

President Putin’s short-lived attempt for a “blitzkrieg” is reverting to what it always was: a war of attrition. The battlespace of the mind will once again become increasingly important.

The USA and NATO must face up to the fact that if they allow President Putin to continue to set the rules, we must double down for a protracted and extremely costly war. If not, it is time to get properly involved and start shaping the battlefield. If we want the war to end sooner, rather than later, we need to start adjusting our strategy and defining NATO’s rules for the upcoming fight.

NATO must become an active party to the war and help defend Ukraine from the Russian threat from both land, sea, air, and cyber.

The Alliance must deploy maritime forces to the Black Sea and start enforcing a No-Fly Zone over Ukraine. NATO must give Russia a heads-up and the opportunity to withdraw all its forces from all of Ukraine before the operation starts. At the start of what will be an UN-mandated humanitarian operation, all Russian forces stationed on or operating on and over Ukrainian territory should be subject to attacks from the Alliance. This includes the Crimean Peninsula.

The Kerch Bridge, however, should be destroyed yesterday.

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

 

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