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Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 442: Ukraine conducts successful limited counterattack around Bakhmut

Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 442: Ukraine conducts successful limited counterattack around Bakhmut
Article by: Hans Petter Midttun

Ukrainian forces conducted successful limited counterattacks around Bakhmut; the Russian army brigade flees. Putin signed an annual decree calling up citizens from reserves for military training. US Attorney General permits the transfer of confiscated Russian assets to Ukraine for first time.

Daily overview — Summary report, May 11

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 18.00 pm, May 11, 2023 is in the dropdown menu below:

Situation in Ukraine. May 10, 2023. Source: ISW.

 

On May 10, the adversary launched 1x S-300 missile strike at the civilian infrastructure of Kostyantynivka (Donetsk oblast). In addition, the invaders launched 45 air strikes and 53 MLRS attacks at the positions of Ukrainian troops and various settlements in Kherson oblast. The attacks caused civilian casualties, damage and destruction of private housing and other civilian infrastructure.

The likelihood of further missile and air strikes across Ukraine remains high, as Russian forces continue to use terror tactics.

The adversary continues to focus its main efforts on Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Marinka axes, with 39 enemy attacks repelled. The fiercest fighting is for the cities of Bakhmut and Marinka.

  • Volyn and Polissya axes: no signs of the formation of offensive groups were found. Certain units of the Russian Federation’s Armed Forces continue their deployment at the training grounds of the Republic of Belarus.
Kharkiv Battle Map. May 10, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Sivershchyna and Slobozhanshchyna axes: Russian forces fired mortars and artillery at the settlements of Bleshnya, Leonivka, Krasny Khutir (Chernihiv oblast), Bachivs’k, Khodyne, Boyaro-Lezhachi, Volfyne, Bilovody, Popivka, Pavlivka, Basivka (Sumy oblast), Veterynarne, Zelene, Hatyshche, Zybyne, and Budarky (Kharkiv oblast).
  • Kupiansk axis: Russian forces did not conduct any offensive The occupant forces launched air strikes at the vicinities of the settlements of Masyutivka, Pershotravneve, and Terny. The invaders fired artillery and mortars at Mykolaivka, Krasne Pershe, Fyholivka, Novomlyns’k, Dvorichna, Masyutivka, Lyman Pershyi, Kyslivka (Kharkiv oblast), and Stel’makhivka (Luhansk oblast).
Donetsk Battle Map. May 10, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Lyman axis: Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensives in the vicinity of Serebryans’ke forestry. The invaders launched air strikes at the vicinities of the settlements of Bilohorivka, Verkhn’okam’yans’ke, and Spirne. Makiivka, Bilohorivka, Vesele (Luhansk oblast), Yampolivka, Spirne, and Berestove (Donetsk oblast) were shelled with artillery.
Bakhmut Battle Map. May 10, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Bakhmut axis: the adversary conducted unsuccessful offensives in the city of Bakhmut. He carried out air strikes at the vicinities of Tors’ke, Bakhmut, Klishchiivka, Kurdyumivka, and Bila Hora. Orikhovo-Vasylivka, Bohdanivka, Bakhmut, Ivanivske, Chasiv Yar, Stupochky, Zalizne, and New York (Donetsk oblast) suffered from enemy shelling.
  • Avdiivka axis: the adversary conducted unsuccessful offensives in the vicinity of Avdiivka. The occupiers launched air strikes at the vicinities of Novokalynove and Avdiivka. He fired at the settlements of Berdychi, Avdiivka, Pervomais’ke, and Nevel’s’ke (Donetsk oblast).
  • Marinka axis: Ukrainian defenders repelled numerous enemy attacks in the vicinity of the city of Marinka. At the same time, the settlements of Heorhiivka and Pobjeda (Donetsk oblast) were shelled by Russian forces.
  • Shakhtarske axis: on May 10, Russian forces conducted offensive operations in the vicinity of Novomykhailivka, to no success. Russian forces launched air strikes near Prechystivka and Novosilka. The invaders shelled the settlements of Novomykhailivka, Vuhledar, Prechystivka, and Novoukrainka.
Zaporizhzhia Battle Map. May 10, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Zaporizhzhia and Kherson axes: the adversary stays on the defensive. The occupant forces launched air strikes at the vicinities of Hulyaipole, Mala Tokmachka, Stepnohirs’k, Kizomys and Stanislav. The invaders shelled the settlements of Vremivka, Novopil’ (Donetsk oblast), Malynivka, Hulyaipole, Mykil’s’ke, Mala Tokmachka, Orikhiv, Kam’yans’ke (Zaporizhzhia oblast), Marhanets’, Nikopol’ (Dnipropetrovsk oblast), Dudchany, Beryslav, Vesele, Antonivka, Dniprovs’ke, Berehove, Bilozerka, Kizomys, Shyroka Balka, Stanislav (Kherson oblast), and the city of Kherson.
Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. May 10, 2023. Source: ISW.

Over the past three days, the Russian occupation administration has “evacuated” about 300x civilians, including children, from the temporarily occupied territories of Zaporizhzhia oblast to Berdyans’k.

[Mass dissatisfaction of local residents from the temporarily captured Tokmak of the Zaporizhzhia region, whom the Russian occupation administration “evacuated” to Berdiansk, is noted. In particular, people complain that the Russians placed them in terrible living conditions, in rooms without windows, lighting, warm water and furniture. Also, the occupiers forbade the “evacuated” citizens to return to the city of Tokmak for an indefinite period.]

[Russian occupation forces continue to suffer heavy losses on the battlefield. As a result, Russian forces are equipping civilian educational institutions in the temporarily occupied territories as medical institutions. Thus, in Luhansk, the premises of three local hospitals have been fully equipped by the occupiers as military hospitals for the lightly and moderately injured.]

[The Russian occupiers, under the pretext of evacuating civilians, continue to take away looted property from the front-line settlements of the Zaporizhzhia region. Thus, in Energodar, servicemen of the Russian occupying forces completely looted all the city’s medical institutions, and all the city’s medical equipment was taken to the temporarily occupied Simferopol of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. All enterprises were also completely looted, which are located in the industrial zone near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.]

On May 10, Ukrainian Air Force launched 4 air strikes on the concentrations of troops and military equipment of the adversary. Ukrainian defenders intercepted 5 enemy UAVs of various types on May 10.

The Ukrainian missile and artillery troops hit 1 anti-aircraft missile system, 2 concentrations of troops, 1 fuel and lubricants depot, 2 artillery units at their firing positions, and 1 electronic warfare station of the occupiers.

Military Updates

Russia’s Transneft says Druzhba pipeline ‘attacked’ near Ukraine border – TASS, Reuters reports. “Russia’s oil pipeline operator Transneft (TRNF_p.MM) said on Wednesday that a filling point on the Europe-bound Druzhba pipeline in a Russian region bordering Ukraine had been attacked, the TASS news agency reported, citing the company. […] Early on Wednesday, Baza, a Telegram channel with links to Russia’s law enforcement agencies, reported that three empty oil reservoirs at the Druzhba pipeline’s filling station came under attack. It said there were no leaks following the attacks.

Russian oil supplies via the Soviet-built pipeline have not been sanctioned, however, European countries are scaling back usage of the route amid wider sanctions against Moscow. Druzhba pipeline was attacked several times after the start of what Kremlin casts as a special military operation in Ukraine last February.

Oil supply to parts of Eastern and Central Europe via a section of the pipeline had been temporarily suspended in November after a rocket hit a power station close to the Belarus border which provides electricity for a pump station. The pipeline also came under attacks in the Bryansk region in March.”

Ukraine’s defenders defeat 72nd Russian brigade near Bakhmut, liberate territory and capture prisoners, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing 3rd Assault Brigade and Andrii Biletskyi, the founder and first commander of the Azov Regiment and the leader of the National Corps. “As a result of the offensive actions of the 3rd Assault Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, units of the 72nd Brigade of the Russian Federation were defeated. In fact, the 6th and 8th companies of this brigade were completely destroyed.

Brigade reconnaissance was suppressed, a significant number of armoured combat vehicles were destroyed, and a significant number of prisoners were captured. The so-called 3rd Assault Detachment of the Wagner PMC [Private Military Company – ed.] suffered heavy losses.

Offensive actions were conducted in a strip 3 kilometres wide and 2 kilometres and 600 metres deep. All this territory is completely liberated from the Russian occupying forces.”

ISW speculates on Russia’s intentions behind latest series of missile strikes, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing ISW. “Russian troops carried out another large-scale wave of missile attacks on Ukraine on the night of 8-9 May. The Ukrainian General Staff reported on 9 May that Ukrainian air defences had shot down all 8 Kalibr cruise missiles and 15 of the 17 Kh-101/Kh-555 missiles launched by Russian forces.

Military analysts conclude: Russian forces may be attempting to conduct an almost daily series of missile strikes in order to portray themselves as constraining potential upcoming Ukrainian counteroffensive operations, although the diminished effectiveness of the strikes is likely not significantly constraining Ukrainian actions.”

Ukraine’s north enhanced with mobile air defence fire teams, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Lieutenant General Serhii Naiev, Commander of the Joint Forces. “Defenders of Ukraine’s north have received another batch of SUVs to create mobile air defence fire teams. Today, I handed over another batch of SUVs to create mobile air defence fire teams. These groups will defend the skies on the outskirts of Kyiv, as well as the airspace over other settlements in the north and north-west of Ukraine.

Naiev has also posted images of downed Russian Shahed, Orlan-10 and ZALA drones. He has said that a batch of pick-up trucks equipped with heavy machine guns and man-portable air defence systems had been delivered to the defence forces.”

According to British Defence Intelligence, (last 48 hours): 

https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1656623981103857665

  • Since the start of 2023, the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has ramped up a scheme to recruit Russian prisoners to fight in Ukraine. It is likely that up to 10,000 convicts signed up in April 2023
  • From summer 2022, prisoners were the key pool of recruits for the Wagner Group private military company’s expansive operations in Ukraine. However, the group highly likely lost access to the Russian penal system in February 2023 when its public feud with the MoD was escalating.
  • The MoD’s prisoner recruitment campaign is part of a broader, intense effort by the Russian military to bolster its numbers, while attempting to avoid implementing new mandatory mobilisation, which would be very unpopular with the Russian public.
  • On 09 May 2023, the make-up of Russia’s annual Victory Day Parade in Red Square highlighted the materiel and strategic communications challenges the military is facing 15 months into the war in Ukraine.
  • Over 8,000 personnel reportedly took part in the parade, but the majority were auxiliary, paramilitary forces, and cadets from military training establishments. The only personnel from deployable formations of regular forces were contingents of Railway Troops and military police.
  • A vintage T-34 from a ceremonial unit was the sole tank on parade. Despite heavy losses in Ukraine, Russia could have fielded more armoured vehicles. The authorities likely refrained from doing so because they want to avoid domestic criticism about prioritising parades over combat operations.

Losses of the Russian army 

As of Thursday 11 May, the approximate losses of weapons and military equipment of the Russian Armed Forces from the beginning of the invasion to the present day:

  • Personnel – about 196920 (+610)
  • Tanks – 3740 (+4)
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 7287 (+12)
  • Artillery systems – 3053 (+14)
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 557 (+2)
  • Air defence means – 310 (+2)
  • Aircraft – 308 (+0)
  • Helicopters – 294 (+0)
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 5984 (+10)
  • Vessels/boats – 18 (+0)
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 2627 (+3)
  • Special equipment – 391 (+2)
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0)
  • Cruise missiles – 970 (+0)

Russia’s losses in Ukraine war worse than anyone thinks – British colonel, Ukrinform reports. “Russia’s losses in the war in Ukraine are worse than Western analysts estimate, and the long-term costs of ammunition for Russia are likely to be devastating. Colonel Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, former commander of the 1st Royal Tank Regiment of the British Army, said this in an article for The Telegraph, according to Ukrinform. […]

The only person driving towards that goal is Putin himself. His army is in a shambolic condition, with multiple reports indicating that troops are fighting without adequate body armor. Young men are conscripted and thrown into the meat grinder of the Donbas, backed by antiquated tanks. They face forces combining modern Western equipment with significant new tactical innovations. And they are being slaughtered, de Bretton-Gordon said.

According to the author, Ukrainian reports of Russian casualties resemble something from the fronts of the First World War, with hundreds killed and injured each day. Western analysts have tended to be more conservative in their estimates. However, the colonel notes, the full-scale war in Ukraine is not like conflicts the world has seen before.

Kyiv’s forces are innovating new ways of conducting warfare, with drones at their heart. Tech savvy young men and women are repurposing and re-engineering for the battlefield off-the-shelf and inexpensive equipment developed for peace, the article reads. What is unique to the Ukraine conflict is the use of both drones as striking weapons and as platforms for observation. Some analysts suggest that using the standard ratios of deaths/wounded will be very far from reflecting the lethality of this new mode of warfare, the article says.

The author wrote that now, there are hundreds of tiny drones with amazingly capable cameras, giving detailed pictures and highly accurate meta data back to the guns. This is a type of warfare which few in NATO have ever experienced; when Russian casualty rates as estimated by the West appear to be half what the Ukrainians are claiming, it is surely possible that the Ukrainians are right, the article reads.

According to the author, this is backed up by the scramble in Russia to find soldiers. De Bretton-Gordon wrote that both sides might lack ammunition, but the Kremlin appears to be running out of soldiers to fire that ammunition. The long-term costs for Russia are likely to be devastating, the colonel concluded.”

Russian army brigade flees Bakhmut, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing 3rd Separate Assault Brigade on Telegram. “Prigozhin’s report about the escape of the 72nd Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade of the Russian Armed Forces from the vicinities of Bakhmut and the “500 corpses” of Russians who remained there is true. The 3rd Assault Brigade is grateful for the publicity of our success at the front.

The military personnel reported that within two days, on the southwestern vicinities of the city, attack aircraft of the 3rd Separate Assault Battalion, which belongs to the Azov eliminated 64 invaders; data on the elimination of another 87 is being clarified. The brigade notes there are Wagnerites among these fighters. 

In addition, the defenders captured five Russians and destroyed several warehouses of the Russian ammunition storage, mortars and more than one infantry fighting vehicle“.

Russia’s Kinzhal, Kalibr missile stocks critically low – Ukrainian intel, Ukrinform reports, citing Andrii Yusov, the representative of the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine. “Russia’s Kinzhal and Kalibr missile stocks are critically low at the moment. They have a large number of certain missile weapons, especially S-300, which threatens the frontline areas, but the stocks of high-precision Kinzhal and Kalibr missiles are critically low, Yusov told.

In his words, due to sanctions, Russia is unable to produce high-precision weapons rapidly, although there are still certain production volumes. We can speak of dozens of missiles per month. Even if they make pauses [in between attacks – Ed.] for months, they still won’t be able to cover what they have spent on the war in Ukraine, what has been mindlessly burnt – the missile potential that has been accumulating for years, Yusov noted.

A reminder that seventeen Russian warships are remaining on combat duty in the Black Sea, including three missile carriers with a total volley of up to 24 Kalibr-type cruise missiles.”

Russian mercenary chief says he’s still not getting enough shells for Ukraine, Reuters reports. “Russian mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin complained on Wednesday that his Wagner fighters were still not getting enough shells from the defence ministry to underpin what he said was their advance in the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut.

Prigozhin has taken his standoff over the issue with the ministry to new levels in recent days threatening to leave Bakhmut before U-turning and then again raising the prospect of Wagner’s departure, a move he said he’d been warned would be viewed by the defence ministry as treachery.

In an audio statement on Wednesday, he said the defence ministry – which has promised to ensure that all combat units have the resources they need – had been holding long meetings on the shell issue but that there had been no breakthrough. We’re not receiving enough shells, we’re only getting 10% (of what we need), Prigozhin, whose forces have been spearheading the assault on Bakhmut despite taking heavy losses, said in the statement.”

Putin announces call up of Russians to military training camps, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing RIA Novosti. “Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, has announced the call of reservists to military training camps.

[I hereby order to] call up the citizens of the Russian Federation, who are a part of the reserve army, to the military training in the Armed Forces of Russia, forces of the National Guard of Russia, bodies of state security and the Federal Security Service (FSB), in 2023.

Occupier surrenders to Ukrainian drone near Bakhmut, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Yurii Fedorenko, the commander of the Achilles UAV company of the 92nd Separate Mechanised Brigade and Ground Forces of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. “Soldiers of the 92nd Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine have taken a Russian invader captive, using a drone on the Bakhmut front on 9 May 2023. Fedorenko has said that the day before, his company’s unit spotted a Russian soldier on the Bakhmut front, who asked not to be bombed. Ukrainian soldiers used the drone to drop a note for the occupier, ordering to surrender and follow the drone.

He agreed, despite the fact that ‘his own’ men were shooting him in the back. Infantry and reconnaissance men from the CODE 9.2 unit of the 92nd Brigade accompanied him all the way to Ukrainian positions. Captivity in Ukraine gives you more chances to survive than service in the Russian army.”

Humanitarian 

Meeting to extend “grain deal” begins in Istanbul, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Anadolu, citing Türkiye’s National Defence Minister Hulusi Akar. “On Wednesday, an Istanbul meeting on extending the Black Sea Grain Initiative, from which Russia threatens to withdraw after 18 May, convened between Türkiye, Russia, Ukraine, and the UN. The meeting of the deputy defence ministers of Türkiye, Russia, Ukraine and the UN officials in Istanbul started today, Akar announced. We are continuing our negotiations to ensure that this work does not come to a halt and that stability is maintained.

Türkiye’s Defence Minister added that 30 million tonnes of grain were transported under the deal. Ukraine’s remaining grain stocks for export amount to 12 million tonnes. Given the export blockade imposed by some European countries and the instability of the grain corridor, Ukraine may not be able to export this product in time for the new harvest.

In March, Oleksandr Kubrakov, Deputy Prime Minister of Development of Communities, Territories and Infrastructure of Ukraine, announced the extension of the grain initiative for 120 days. Russia, on the other hand, threatened to withdraw from the agreement in 60 days, on 18 May.”

Moldova chooses not to restrict agricultural imports from Ukraine, Ukrinform reports. “Currently, the Republic of Moldova is not planning to impose restrictions on grain and oilseed imports from Ukraine. The relevant statement was made by Moldovan Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Vladimir Bolea, an Ukrinform correspondent reports, referring to Newsmaker.md.

Import restrictions would not solve anything. This would lead neither to an increase in selling prices for Moldovan farmers, nor to a decrease in the production cost. This decision would yield zero results, Bolea told.

In his words, Ukraine would have limited the import of Moldovan goods in response, and many opportunities could have been lost for Moldova. Additionally, according to Bolea, the amount of agricultural imports from Ukraine is rather insignificant. About 177 tonnes of wheat and 4,000 sunflower seeds were imported in total.”

Environmental

Ukraine’s ombudsman discusses with IAEA chief NPP safety issues, Ukrinform reports. “With the Director General of the IAEA, Mr. Rafael Grossi, we discussed a number of important security issues related to the operation of nuclear power plants amid the armed aggression of the Russian Federation, which is conducting targeted attacks on energy facilities in Ukraine. In particular, during the bilateral meeting, the topic of the safety of Energoatom employees, deportation of personnel and their families, as well as the global issue of global nuclear security was raised, [the Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights, Dmytro] Lubinets wrote.

The ombudsman thanked Grossi for the fact that, despite the deliberate threats posed by the Russian military and ongoing shelling, not only was a mission set up to the Russia-captured Zaporizhzhia NPP, but Grossi also headed it, repeatedly visiting the facility. I believe this should set an example for all those who are ‘concerned,’ not just to support Ukraine with words, but to solve such complex problems though real and effective actions, Lubinets emphasized.

In addition, he added, the IAEA expanded its presence in Ukraine to help prevent a nuclear accident amid the Russian invasion.

I also took the initiative for the IAEA together with the Ombudsman’s Office to draft a special report on the issues of respecting the rights of IAEA personnel and their families, deportation, and security in general. In his turn, Rafael Grossi thanked me for the idea and said that he would work on the issue. We agreed to further discuss the idea during Mr. Grossi’s next trip to Ukraine, Lubinets said.

As Ukrinform reported earlier, on May 6, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi stated that International Atomic Energy Agency experts present at the Zaporizhzhia NPP received information that the evacuation of residents from Enerhodar, where most of the plant’s personnel live, has begun.”

Invaders plan to “evacuate” over 3,000 ZNPP workers, their families, Ukrinform reports, citing Energoatom National Nuclear Energy Generating Company on Telegram. “We have received information that the Russian occupiers are preparing to “evacuate” about 3,100 people from the satellite city of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. We are talking about the evacuation of 2,700 plant employees who signed a contract with the fake Zaporizhzhia NPP Operating Organization or another Rosatom enterprise, and their family members, the company said.

Energoatom reminded that ZNPP employees had been banned from leaving the city almost from the beginning of the occupation. At the same time, according to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, some families of Zaporizhzhia nuclear workers have already been moved from Enerhodar to the Rostov region of the Russian Federation.

Thus, the Russian occupiers are proving their inability to ensure the operation of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, as there is a catastrophic lack of qualified personnel. Even those Ukrainian workers who, having signed shameful contracts, agreed to cooperate with the racists, will be “evacuated” soon. And this will exacerbate the already extremely urgent issue of having a sufficient number of personnel to ensure the safe operation of the nuclear power plant even in the current shutdown state, Energoatom emphasizes.

At the same time, the company stated that it is taking all possible measures to form the necessary number of specialists capable of ensuring the safe operation of the plant in the first period after its de-occupation. The team will be formed on a rotational basis from ZNPP employees currently on the territory controlled by Ukraine, as well as specialists from other nuclear power plants.”

Police find 385 bodies in liberated territories in Donetsk region, Ukrinform reports. “In Donetsk region, law enforcement officers found 385 bodies in the territories liberated from Russian troops, and 282 people have been identified. That’s according to the Kramatorsk District Police Department of Donetsk region.

In total, police officers of Donetsk region found 385 bodies in the de-occupied territories, 309 of them were civilians. Among the victims of the Russian aggression are 174 men, 117 women, and six children, the gender of 12 more people has not been established. The work to identify the dead continues. As of today, 282 people have been identified, the statement said.

Law enforcement officers have been discovering new graves and unidentified bodies in the liberated Lyman and Sviatohirsk communities for six months now. They are examining the sites of shelling, interviewing local residents, looking for relatives of the victims, identifying witnesses, and reconstructing the course of events.

Investigators and forensic laboratories are involved in the exhumation, and explosives experts are also involved in cases of possible mining. Information about the death of a person is entered into the Unified Register of Pre-trial Investigations. Then, the cause of death is determined in a forensic medical institution. DNA samples are taken to identify the body and comparative examinations with possible relatives are conducted. […]

In addition to civilians, the bodies of military personnel are also being searched for. Thus, after the liberation of Lyman, a mass grave with fallen servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine was found in the city cemetery, and work began to identify each of them.”

The database of the National Police already includes more than 200 thousand Russian war criminals − head of Police of Kyiv Oblast, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Andriy Niebytov, head of the main police department in Kyiv Oblast in an interview with Ukrinform. “In general, this database already has more than 200 thousand Russians who crossed the borders of Ukraine with weapons in their hands and committed crimes here. In my opinion, this is a very good base for the SSU [Security Service of Ukraine] investigators and other bodies that investigate war crimes.

According to him, all units enter data on Russian war criminals in the police subsystem “war criminal”. In particular, the police of Kyiv Oblast entered more than 5.6 thousand people into the relevant database.”

Lithuanian Seimas proposes to equate Russia’s aggression against Ukraine with Soviet and Nazi crimes, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing LRT, Lithuanian media outlet. “Six members of the Seimas [Lithuanian parliament – ed.] are proposing that Russia’s actions in Ukraine should be assessed in the same way as the crimes of the USSR and the Nazis. […]

They are proposing to add the word “Russia” to the article of the Lithuanian Criminal Code that provides for liability for public approval of international crimes, crimes of the USSR or Nazi Germany, for denying them or gross trivialisation. The aim of the draft law is to establish criminal liability […] for individuals who publicly condone or deny or grossly trivialise […] the aggression committed/being committed by Russia against the Republic of Ukraine and the occupation of its territory (including Crimea).

Currently, public approval of international crimes, crimes of the USSR or Nazi Germany, denial of them or gross trivialisation is punishable by a fine, freedom restriction, arrest or imprisonment for up to two years. Although Russia’s aggression and occupation of Ukraine’s sovereign territory […] does not constitute a direct crime against the Republic of Lithuania or its citizens, the consequences of this event for the country’s national security are obvious.”

US Attorney General permits transfer of confiscated Russian assets to Ukraine for first time, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Reuters. “On Wednesday 10 May, US Attorney General Merrick Garland authorised the first transfer of confiscated Russian assets to Ukraine for reconstruction purposes. The funds in question were confiscated by a US court from Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev, who was charged with evading sanctions. They can be transferred to Ukraine in accordance with a budget amendment adopted in December 2022.

While this represents the United States’ first transfer of forfeited Russian funds for the rebuilding of Ukraine, it will not be the last, Garland said in the statement. In February 2023, the District Judge of the Manhattan Federal Court authorised the prosecutor’s office to confiscate US$5.4 million belonging to Malofeyev.

Malofeyev, who owns Tsargrad TV, has been accused of financing separatism in Crimea and was sanctioned by the United States in 2014. Eight years later, US prosecutors accused him of evading sanctions. At the end of 2022, prosecutors told the court that they had the right to confiscate the money in Malofeyev’s account at Sunflower Bank in Denver because he had attempted to transfer it to a business partner in defiance of US sanctions.”

Support

Czech president: Ukraine could have our L-159 jets, Reuters reports. “The Czech Republic could give Ukraine some of its L-159 fighter jets to support its planned counter-offensive, Czech President Petr Pavel was quoted as saying on Wednesday. […]  The L-159 is a Czech-made, light subsonic combat aircraft designed for air support of ground forces, reconnaissance and partly also for air combat missions.

It is worth considering whether we could provide Ukraine with our L-159 aircraft, Pavel told Czech public radio in an interview. As direct combat support aircraft, (the planes) could also help Ukraine significantly in the counteroffensive, he said. Any decision on military shipments falls to the government. […]

Ukraine, which says its forces are waiting for better weather before launching the long-promised counteroffensive, is pleading with allies to overcome hesitation about supplying modern fighter jets. Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte said last week that talks on a potential donation of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine were progressing, but no decision has been made.

Slovakia and Poland provided Ukraine with Soviet-era MIG-29 fighter jets in March.”

Czech Republic supplies Ukraine with two Kub air defence systems – Czech President, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing President Pavel said this in an interview with Czech radio Radiožurnál. “On Wednesday 10 May, Petr Pavel, President of the Czech Republic, announced that Prague would transfer two 2K12 Kub air defence systems and missiles for them to Kyiv. The Czech president emphasised that Ukraine needs an air force to prepare for the decisive phase of the war with Russia. At the same time, the priority, in his opinion, is to provide a sufficient number of armoured vehicles and ammunition.

This is what Ukraine lacks, because the decisive part of the battle will take place on the ground, he said. Recalling that Ukraine has already received  about 100 tanks, the same number of armoured vehicles and a lot of ammunition from the Czech Republic, Pavel announced that Prague is now supplying Kyiv two Kub air defence missile systems with a relatively large number of missiles.

Also, Czech President Petr Pavel said that it would make sense for his country to consider the possibility of transferring Czech L-159 combat aircraft to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Canada, Latvia to jointly train Ukrainian soldiers starting Monday, Reuters reports. “Canadian and Latvian armed forces on Monday will begin training Ukrainian soldiers in Latvia, Canada’s Defence Minister Anita Anand said on Wednesday. The training program will add to other Canadian efforts to train Ukrainian soldiers in the United Kingdom and in Poland, Anand told reporters in Ottawa. Canada has deployed about 800 troops in Latvia, which borders Russia and Belarus and has Canada’s largest foreign military deployment.

We must continue together to support Ukraine because the cost of doing nothing is far greater than the cost of our military aid, said Anand, speaking along side her Latvian counterpart Inara Murniece. Canada has so far trained more than 36,000 Ukrainian troops, Anand said, adding that the training in Latvia will focus on Ukrainian junior officers, with help in areas including intelligence reconnaissance and battle planning.

There are about 170 Canadian troops deployed to the UK and some 80 soldiers to Poland to train Ukrainian soldiers.”

Irish military train Ukrainian forces demining, bomb disposal, Ukrinform reports, citing The Irish Times, citing Lieutenant General Sean Clancy, Chief of Staff of the Irish Defence Forces, “The Irish military has begun training Ukrainian servicemen in mine clearance and bomb disposal. The training is part of the EU Military Assistance Mission Ukraine, under which Ukrainian forces receive military training from member states to help repel Russian aggression.

Ireland has committed to send up to 30 members of the Defence Forces to participate in the exercises in the areas of explosive ordnance disposal and combat medicine. Irish troops are currently in Cyprus providing training to the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the areas of explosive ordnance disposal and demining, Clancy said.

According to him, other members of the Defence Forces are coordinating the mission from Germany and Brussels. As Ukrinform reported, in the UK, instructors from the Norwegian National Guard are teaching Ukrainian soldiers how to conduct combat operations in the woods.”

Yellen, at G7, to underscore US commitment to Ukraine for ‘as long as it takes’, Reuters reports. “Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Thursday will underscore the United States’ commitment to continue supporting Ukraine for as long as needed, while working with other rich nations to degrade Russia’s ability to wage war against its neighbor.

Yellen identified redoubled support for Ukraine as one of her three core priorities – along with bringing down inflation and bolstering long-term economic resilience – in excerpts of remarks she will give later Thursday ahead of meetings with her counterparts from Group of Seven rich nations in Japan.”

New Developments

  1. Experts Confirm Russian Origin of Missile Fragments Found in Poland, European PravdaThe initial conclusions of the Technical Institute of the Polish Air Force indicate that the fragments of the missile found near the city of Bydgoszcz are from the Russian X-55. According to RMF FM, the Air Force Institute is making an expert conclusion on the found missile debris for the Polish prosecutor’s office. The case gained publicity in late April when a random witness found the remains of the several-meter-long missile in a forest. According to the conclusions, the winged X-55 missile most likely entered Poland through the eastern border. […] If the conclusion is officially confirmed, it would mean that the missile was launched from a Russian aircraft.”
  2. Ukraine develops new defence packages with its international partners, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during his evening videoaddress on 10 May. “Our international block is working vigorously and thoroughly with [our] partners on new defence packages for Ukraine. New decisions are already at the working level. More protection for our skies, more opportunities for our defence and movement on the ground. The President noted that he held several meetings on 10 May where all this was discussed. We expect appropriate steps from our partners in the near future, Zelenskyy concluded.”
  3. No quick deal in sight as EU countries start talks on new Russia sanctions, ReutersEuropean Union states were holding a first discussion on Wednesday on proposed new sanctions over Russia’s war in Ukraine that would target Chinese and Iranian firms and allow export curbs on third countries for busting trade restrictions. Talks among the EU envoys were set to be heated, according to one diplomat, with Russia hawks upset the plan does not go far enough but others wary of damaging their international ties. Widely differing perspectives mean a quick deal is not expected, several diplomats said.”
  4. Kremlin reacts to Poland renaming Kaliningrad, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the RussianTASSThis is not even Russophobia now; these are some processes on the brink of insanity happening in Poland,” Peskov stated in response to a question about the change of the name for Kaliningrad, and a rally in Warsaw, during which the Russian ambassador was not allowed near a Soviet monument with flowers so that he ended up leaving the flowers at the memorial to the Ukrainians who died as a result of the Russian aggression. […]The Commission on Geographical Names Standardisation Outside of Poland, which operates under the country’s main geodetic service, has decided to no longer call the Russian city of Kaliningrad by its Russian name, but instead to use the Polish name Królewiec. The Commission also recommends using the Polish name Królewiecki obwód, instead of Kaliningrad Oblast, for the administrative unit where the city is located.”
  5. Kremlin calls Polish decision to rename Kaliningrad ‘hostile act’, ReutersThe Kremlin said on Wednesday that Poland’s decision to rename the Russian city of Kaliningrad in its official documents was a “hostile act”, as ties continue to fray over the Ukraine war. Kaliningrad, which sits in an exclave that is sandwiched between Lithuania and Poland on the Baltic coast, was known by the German name of Koenigsberg until after World War II, when it was annexed by the Soviet Union and renamed to honour politician Mikhail Kalinin. Warsaw says Kalinin’s connection to the 1940 Katyn massacre – when thousands of Polish officers were executed by Soviet forces – had negative connotations and that the city should now be referred to as Krolewiec, its name when it was ruled by the Kingdom of Poland in the 15th and 16th centuries.”

Assessment 

https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-may-10-2023*

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of  May 10, 2022:

Russian forces conducted ground attacks near Kupiansk on May 10. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces in the Kupiansk direction attempted to improve their tactical positions and conducted unsuccessful offensive operations near Masyukivka (13km northeast of Kupiansk) and Stelmakhivka (33km southeast of Kupiansk). […] Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces conducted positional battles near Hryanykivka (25km northeast of Kupiansk) and Vilshana (15km northeast of Kupiansk). Kharkiv Oblast Head Oleh Synehubov stated that Russian forces struck Kupiansk itself with Iskander short-range ballistic missiles.

Russian forces conducted ground attacks near Kreminna on May 10. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations near the Serebrianske forest area and Bilohorivka, both about 10km south of Kreminna. Russian milbloggers claimed that fierce fighting is ongoing in the industrial zone in Bilohorivka. Ukrainian Sievierodonetsk City Head Roman Vlasenko stated that Russian forces are using S-300 surface-to-air missiles to strike Ukrainian-controlled territory in Luhansk Oblast. Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Serhiy Cherevaty noted that Russian forces writ large are less active along the entire Kupiansk-Svatove-Kreminna line and that only three combat clashes occurred in this area over the past day.

Russian and Wagner Group forces continued offensive operations in and around Bakhmut on May 10, despite Wagner financier Yevgeny Prigozhin’s previous threat that Wagner would withdraw from the area at midnight. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive actions within Bakhmut and in the direction of Ivanivske (6km west of Bakhmut) and Stupochky (13km southwest of Bakhmut). Ukrainian Eastern Grouping of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Serhiy Cherevaty reported that there were 28 combat clashes in the Bakhmut area. The Russian MoD claimed that Russian assault detachments continued offensive operations to capture blocks in northwestern and western Bakhmut. A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces also conducted assaults in the direction of Chasiv Yar (12 km west of Bakhmut).

Russian forces continued limited offensive operations along the Avdiivka-Donetsk front on May 10. The Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) People’s Militia published geolocated footage on May 10 likely confirming previous Russian claims that Russian forces captured Kamianka (5km northeast of Avdiivka) as early as March 20. Russian milbloggers claimed that fighting is ongoing north of Avdiivka and that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful assaults in Marinka (27km southwest of Avdiivka), near Pervomaiske (11km southwest of Avdiivka), and on the southern approaches towards Avdiivka. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations near Avdiivka and Novomykhailivka (36km southwest of Avdiivka).

Russian forces did not conduct any confirmed ground attacks in western Donetsk Oblast on May 10.

Ukrainian forces conducted successful limited counterattacks around Bakhmut on May 9. Geolocated footage published on May 9 and 10 indicates that Ukrainian forces likely conducted successful limited counterattacks north of Khromove (immediately west of Bakhmut) and northwest of Bila Hora (14km southwest of Bakhmut) and made marginal advances in these areas. Ukrainian sources claimed on May 9 that Ukrainian forces destroyed the 6th and 8th companies of the 72nd Motorized Rifle Brigade of the 3rd Army Corps near Bakhmut and advanced 2.6km along a 3km frontline in the area, although ISW has not observed visual confirmation of these reported wider Ukrainian advances. A prominent Russian milblogger claimed on May 10 that the Ukrainian forces tried to advance further in the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) 4th Motorized Rifle Brigade’s zone of responsibility in the Bakhmut area following Ukrainian counterattacks on May 9 but that formations of an unspecified Russian paramilitary company (PMC) prevented a Ukrainian breakthrough. […] ISW has previously assessed that reports of Ukrainian counterattacks throughout Donetsk Oblast appear to be a part of an ongoing pattern of localized and limited counterattacks.

Pervasive issues with Russian combat capability, exacerbated by continued attritional assaults in the Bakhmut area, are likely considerably constraining the ability of Russian forces in this area to defend against localized Ukrainian counterattacks. The 72nd Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade itself is emblematic of many of the endemic force generation issues constantly faced by the Russian military. ISW reported on August 7, 2022, that the 72nd Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade was forming in Orenburg Oblast as part of the 3rd Army Corps, a new formation created in 2022 and largely comprised of volunteer battalions. Forbes reported in September of 2022 that the 3rd Army Corps deployed to Kharkiv Oblast and that the Ukrainian Kharkiv Oblast counteroffensive largely destroyed the corps’ constituent elements, likely including the 72nd Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade. Ukrainian media suggested that the surviving elements of the 72nd Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade may have redeployed to Mykolaiv Oblast following the Kharkiv Oblast counteroffensive, where they once against suffered losses during Ukraine’s southern counteroffensive in October 2022. ISW cannot confirm where the 72nd Brigade deployed to following the withdrawal of Russian forces from the west (right) bank of the Dnipro River, but it is highly likely that whatever elements of the 72nd Brigade that deployed to the Bakhmut area more recently are not operating at anywhere near full strength. The Russian military command’s apparent commitment of elements of a formation that has suffered two successive defeats to the Bakhmut axis alongside already attrited Wagner elements likely offer Ukrainian forces opportunities to exploit with limited counterattacks. A Russian milblogger, citing a Wagner commander active in the Bakhmut area, additionally reported that the alleged withdrawal of the 72nd Brigade was the result of severe miscommunication between command of the 72nd Brigade and the Wagner Group. Issues with the ad hoc commitment of various depleted force groupings to the Bakhmut axis, alongside apparent command and control failures, are likely preventing Russian forces in the area from conducting sound defensive operations.

Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces struck a command center where high-ranking Ukrainian military commanders and officials were located, likely to support an ongoing effort to frame Russian operations as constraining Ukrainian capabilities to launch a counteroffensive. Russian milbloggers claimed on May 10 that Russian forces struck the command post near Chasiv Yar (12km west of Bakhmut), killing Ukrainian Chief Advisor to the Directorate for Domestic and Humanitarian Policy Alexei Titarenko. Russian milbloggers speculated that the strike may have killed other high-ranking Ukrainian commanders and officials and stated that the strike has prompted completely unsubstantiated rumors, which Ukrainian officials have explicitly denied, that it killed Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces General Valery Zaluzhnyi. Milbloggers acknowledged that the strike likely did not kill Zaluzhnyi but argued that it may be affecting his decisions to attend certain events. Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar stated that all the Ukrainian commanders in question are alive and that claims about the killing of Ukrainian commanders are a part of a Russian information operation aimed at degrading Ukrainian morale. ISW assessed that Russian ultranationalists recently claimed that Russian forces struck a vehicle carrying Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces Commander General Ihor Tantsyura to frame Russian operations as limiting Ukrainian abilities to conduct counterattacks in the Bakhmut area. Russian sources have also largely framed increasingly routine series of Russian air and missile strikes as similarly constraining potential upcoming Ukrainian counteroffensive operations. There is no evidence to support these Russian claims.

The US Department of Defense (DoD) confirmed on May 9 that Ukrainian forces successfully used the Patriot missile defense system to shoot down a Russian missile for the first time. Ukrainian Air Force Commander Mykola Oleshchuk had reported that Ukrainian forces used the Patriot system to shoot down a missile in the air over Kyiv Oblast at night on May 4. The Biden administration also announced a new $1.2 billion military aid package to Ukraine on May 9. The package includes additional air defense systems, 155-mm artillery rounds, and equipment to integrate Ukrainian air defense systems with Western-supplied equipment.

Key Takeaways

  • Ukrainian forces conducted successful limited counterattacks around Bakhmut on May 9.
  • Pervasive issues with Russian combat capabilities, exacerbated by continued attritional assaults in the Bakhmut area, are likely considerably constraining the ability of Russian forces in this area to defend against localized Ukrainian counterattacks.
  • Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces struck a command center where Ukrainian military commanders and officials were located, likely to support an ongoing effort to frame Russian operations as constraining Ukrainian capabilities to launch a counteroffensive.
  • The US Department of Defense (DoD) confirmed that Ukrainian forces successfully shot down a Russian missile using the Patriot missile defense system. The Biden administration also announced a new $1.2 billion military aid package to Ukraine.
  • Russian forces conducted ground attacks in the Kupiansk and Kreminna areas.
  • Russian and Wagner Group forces continued offensive operations in and around Bakhmut on May 10, despite Wagner financier Yevgeny Prigozhin’s previous threat that Wagner would withdraw from the area at midnight.
  • Russian forces continued limited offensive operations along the Avdiivka-Donetsk front.
  • Russian forces conducted airstrikes on Ukrainian positions in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an annual decree calling up citizens from reserves for military training.

Russian occupation authorities are continuing the removal of Ukrainian residents from their homes in occupied areas under the guise of humanitarian evacuations.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister: Don’t Think This Is Our Final Counteroffensive, We May Need to Prepare for Next One, European Pravda reports. “Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has asked not to consider the anticipated counteroffensive of the Ukrainian army as the last one. Kuleba points out that the further development of the war will depend on the success of the Ukrainian army’s nearest offensive actions. Don’t think of this counteroffensive as the last one because we don’t know what will come out of it, Kuleba told Bild in an interview.

And if this counteroffensive is successful in liberating our territories, then eventually you will say: yes, it was the last one, but if not, it means we need to prepare for the next counteroffensive, the minister added.

Kuleba also commented on possible negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to him, this is not the evil that can be negotiat with. We have a legitimate decision of the National Security Council, adopted in response to Putin’s annexation of Ukrainian territories last year, that direct negotiations with Putin are impossible, said the Ukrainian Foreign Minister.

Ukraine is ready for an offensive, but Russia has set up significant defensive lines – Stoltenberg, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing CNN. “NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the Armed Forces of Ukraine are ready for an offensive, but the occupation forces of the Russian Federation were able to equip significant defensive lines. We should never underestimate the Russians. The front lines have been static for a long time, and the Russians have been able to build significant defensive lines to counter the planned counteroffensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Stoltenberg said.

At the same time, he noted that the Ukrainian Forces received the necessary equipment from the West, and the servicemen were trained. Earlier, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called for not to consider the expected counteroffensive of Ukrainian troops as the last one. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken believes that Ukraine has the resources needed to win back the territory captured by Russia during the expected counteroffensive.

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverley stated that he expects the success of Ukraine’s planned counteroffensive, but he warns that he may not live up to high expectations.”

Ukraine war will increasingly pit quantity against quality -NATO official, Reuters reports. “The war in Ukraine will increasingly be a battle between large numbers of poorly trained Russian troops with outdated equipment and a smaller Ukrainian force with better Western weapons and training, NATO’s top military official said on Wednesday. Admiral Rob Bauer, the chair of NATO’s military committee, noted Russia was now deploying significant numbers of T-54 tanks – an old model designed in the years after World War Two.

But the problem is they still have a lot of T-54s. So … in terms of numbers, quantity, it is an issue, Bauer told reporters after a meeting of the alliance’s national military chiefs at NATO headquarters in Brussels. What we will see now is that the Russians will focus – have to focus – on quantity, larger number of conscripts, and mobilize people, not well-trained, older materiel. But large numbers, he said.

The Ukrainians meanwhile would focus on quality, with Western weapon systems and Western training. That’s the big difference in the coming months, I would say. Bauer said the NATO military chiefs restated “unrelenting support” to a Ukrainian representative at the meeting. There is no doubt that NATO will support Ukraine for as long as it takes, said Bauer, a Dutch military officer.

US Army General Christopher Cavoli, NATO’s top commander for Europe, added the degradation of Russian forces was “very uneven”. It’s predominantly in the ground forces, he said.”

Beyond Ukraine’s Offensive – The West Needs to Prepare the Country’s Military for a Long War, Michael Kofman and Rob Lee argues in Foreign Affairs. “As the Russian winter offensive reaches its culmination, Ukraine is poised to seize the initiative. In the coming weeks, it plans to conduct an offensive operation, or series of offensives, that may prove decisive in this phase of the conflict. This is not Ukraine’s only remaining opportunity to liberate a substantial amount of territory and inflict a major defeat on Russian forces, but the upcoming offensive may be the moment when available Western military equipment, training, and ammunition best intersect with the forces set aside by Ukraine for this operation. Ukraine is also eager to demonstrate that, despite months of brutal fighting, its military is not exhausted and remains able to break through Russian lines. 

Policymakers, however, have placed undue emphasis on the upcoming offensive without providing sufficient consideration of what will come afterward and whether Ukraine is well positioned for the next phase. It is critical that Ukraine’s Western partners develop a long-term theory of victory for Ukraine, since even in the best-case scenario, this upcoming offensive is unlikely to end the conflict. Indeed, what follows this operation could be another period of indeterminate fighting and attrition, but with reduced ammunition deliveries to Ukraine. This is already a long war, and it is likely to become protracted. History is an imperfect guide, but it suggests wars that endure for more than a year are likely to go on for at least several more and are exceedingly difficult to end. A Western theory of success must therefore prevent a situation in which the war drags on, but where Western countries are unable to provide Ukraine with a decisive advantage.

Ukraine may well achieve battlefield success, but it will take time to translate military victories into political outcomes. The West must also prepare for the prospect that this offensive may not achieve the kinds of gains seen during Ukraine’s successful operations in Kharkiv and Kherson. By placing too many bets on the outcome of this offensive, Western countries have not effectively signaled their commitment to a prolonged effort. If this operation proves to be the high point of Western assistance to Kyiv, then Moscow could assume that time is still on its side and that bedraggled Russian forces can eventually wear down the Ukrainian military. Whether Ukraine’s next operation is successful or not, Russia’s leader may have few incentives to negotiate.

For Ukraine to sustain momentum—and pressure—Western states must make a set of commitments and plans for what follows this operation, rather than maintain a wait-and-see approach. Otherwise, the West risks creating a situation whereby Russian forces are able to recover, stabilize their lines, and try to retake the initiative. […]

That said, Russia does not seem well positioned for a forever war. Russia’s ability to repair and restore equipment from storage appears so constrained that the country is increasingly reliant on Soviet gear from the 1950s and 1960s to fill out mobilized regiments. As Ukraine acquires better Western equipment, the Russian military has increasingly come to resemble an early Cold War–period museum. There are also growing signs of strain on the Russian economy, where energy sale revenues are becoming constrained by sanctions and Europe’s pivot away from Russian gas. Even if Moscow can keep mobilizing manpower and bringing old military equipment onto the battlefield, Russia will face growing economic pressures and shortages of skilled labor.

Russian forces in Ukraine still face a structural manpower problem, and despite a national recruitment campaign, Moscow will likely need to mobilize again to sustain the war. It is desperate to avoid doing so. If the West can sustain Ukraine’s war effort, then despite its resilience and mobilization reserves, Russia may find its disadvantage growing over time. In recent months, European countries have begun making the necessary investments in artillery production and issuing procurement contracts, although some of these decisions are coming more than a year into the war.

Some may hope that a successful offensive may soon thereafter lead to a negotiated armistice, but this must be balanced against the prospect that a cease-fire will simply yield a rearmament period, after which Moscow will likely seek to renew the war. Whether an armistice favors Russia or Ukraine is debatable. Russia will certainly seek to rearm, but the extent of continuing Western military assistance to Ukraine is uncertain. Consequently, the way this war ends could lead to a follow-on war. After all, the current conflict is a continuation of the original 2014 Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Among Western countries, there are competing visions for how the war might end. A defeat for Moscow is not the same as victory for Kyiv, and one does not have to travel widely in Europe to discover that not everyone defines a Ukrainian victory in the same way. Some see the present situation as already a strategic defeat for Moscow; for others, this outcome remains indeterminate. As it stands, what follows the coming offensive will reveal whether Western countries are arming Ukraine to help Kyiv fully restore territorial control or just to put it in a better position for negotiations.

Although the coming Ukrainian offensive will do much to set expectations for the future trajectory of this war, the real challenge is thinking through what comes after. The offensive has consumed planning, but a sober-minded approach would recognize that supporting Ukraine will be a long-term effort. It is time, then, for the West to start planning more actively for the future, beyond the coming offensive. History shows that wars are difficult to end and often go on well beyond the decisive phases of fighting, including as negotiations continue. For Ukraine and its Western backers, a working theory of victory must be premised on endurance, addressing Ukraine’s long-term force quality, capability, and sustainment needs. The United States and Europe must make the necessary investments to support the war effort well beyond 2023, develop plans for successive operations —and avoid pinning their hopes on any single offensive effort.”

Journalists publish map with over 220 Russian military objects in Crimea, Ukrinform reports, citing the project “Krym.Realii“. “Journalists collected information about 223 active, temporary and mothballed Russian military facilities in the temporarily occupied Crimea and created an interactive map.

As noted, the facilities include military airfields with infrastructure, points and places of basing of warships, vessels and boats, docks, arsenals, warehouses of weapons, products and fuel, military camps, military units, barracks, headquarters and control points, military equipment parks and places of duty of air defence, training grounds and training centers; some enterprises of the military-industrial complex.

All this data with exact coordinates and photos are posted on an interactive map created by journalists of Krym.Realii, Radio Liberty’s Schemes project, freelancers from Crimea, military experts and specialists from RFE/RL’s Central News Service, the statement said. According to Kyrylo Ovsianyi, a journalist with the Schemes project, the map is based on current Planet Labs satellite imagery for 2023.”

  1. Consequences and what to do?

Dramatic lack of ammunition in the Bundeswehr – and it’s getting worse, Neue Zurcher Zeitung reports. “The German government seems dangerously lazy when it comes to procuring ammunition. As before, it has hardly placed any orders with the industry and appears uninterested in terms of supplier bottlenecks. The opposition accuses it of inaction. Germany is even less defensible today than it was at the time of the Russian attack on Ukraine a good 15 months ago. […]

In the catalog of more than 70 questions, the largest opposition group in the German Bundestag wanted the government to provide a precise overview of the ammunition quantities available and those ordered since February 2022. But the answers given by the Ministry of Defence contain almost no information on this. The reason given is that it is information that “affects the welfare of the state to a particularly high degree and therefore cannot be answered even in a classified form”. The document is available to the NZZ.

The Union had already formulated a list of questions with similar content about six months ago. The German constitution grants parliament the right to request information and accountability from the government at any time for its actions. But even then, the “traffic light” government led by the Social Democrat Olaf Scholz refused to answer, citing the state’s overriding need for protection in this case. […]

Germany “slept through” another six months in procurement of ammunition. Ingo Gädechens, budget and defense expert for the Christian Democrats, complained that the Scholz government “hit behind the bushes by referring to secrecy”. It is unacceptable that Parliament is left in the dark about how much ammunition the Bundeswehr will need in the coming years, while at the same time approving the money needed for it.

In fact, the answers once again make the federal government, but especially the Ministry of Defense, look bad. For safety reasons, it is still understandable that specific amounts of existing ammunition are not quantified. But other statements cast doubt on the fact that the “traffic light” in Berlin fully recognized the seriousness of the security situation. This is suggested, for example, by the answer to the question of what plans the government has to enter into contracts with the armaments industry that guarantee long-term production capacities for ammunition. In view of the foreseeable continued high ammunition requirements of Ukraine and many NATO countries as well as the empty warehouses of the Bundeswehr, this could be a sensible measure to be able to safely replenish the stocks required by NATO for 30 days of war in Germany in the coming years.

However, the Ministry of Defense announced that such plans do not exist. The reason given is that “the provision of production capacities would be a paradigm shift in the given regulatory framework and ultimately an entry into a state economy”. However, Germany’s economy is based on market prospects and expected returns. Their production capacities would be justified by concrete orders and orders that are expected with a high degree of probability. The German government is thus making it clear that it intends to continue to leave the production of ammunition, which is so essential for the security of its own country, but also for the defense of Ukraine, to the laws of the free market.”

Russia must realize it can never win in Ukraine – Britain in OSCE, Ukrinform reports. “Russia must realize it will never be able to win the war against Ukraine so continuing this war will only mean more losses and defeats. This was stated by Ian Stubbs, the senior military advisor of the UK delegation in the OSCE, who addressed the Forum on Security Cooperation in Vienna on Wednesday, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.

Over the past week, Russia has again conducted massive missile and UAV strikes against inhabited areas across Ukraine, with minimal regard to discrimination or proportionality. Of note, on Monday, the Ukrainian Red Cross reported that a missile strike completely destroyed 1,000 square meters of humanitarian aid stored in a large warehouse for the Odesa region. Such attacks by Russia seek to punish the Ukrainian people and to spread terror. They are cruel acts of vengeance and a disgraceful manifestation of the failure of the Russian military leadership, he said.

The British diplomat also pointed out that Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, attacks on innocent civilians and their homes, as well as large-scale atrocities, corrupt the memory of past sacrifices and Russia’s once-proud global reputation. Europe has terrible memories of the totalitarian regimes of the 1930s and 1940s, with their disregard for human life, cultural heritage, territory and sovereignty of smaller states. Moscow’s actions now corrupt the memory of all those who fought against tyranny and paid the ultimate sacrifice in the belief that they would save future generations from the scourge of war, he added.

According to Stubbs, this year’s celebration of Victory Day by Moscow highlights the failings of its invasion of Ukraine. The cancellation of many military parades and Immortal Regiment processions across Russia hints at the grim reality of its enormous losses that beyond the many innocent Ukrainian victims, young Russian men are being killed in their thousands in the name of Putin’s war – leaving mothers without sons, wives without husbands, and children without fathers, British diplomat said.

He noted that in its desperate attempts to replenish army ranks, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation intensified the campaign to hire convicts. According to reports, up to 10,000 convicts were recruited in April 2023 alone. In addition, efforts are being made to recruit labor migrants from Central Asia.

The representative of the British mission to the OSCE emphasized that the Kremlin’s persistent and institutional poor decision-making is having a terrible impact on the Russian people – more needless deaths; more grieving families; more defeats; more demoralized troops; more discontent; and more isolation.

Russia must realize that it can never win in Ukraine. If it keeps fighting, it will keep losing. We do not underestimate the continuing threat posed by the Russian Federation but, in time, there will be cause for Ukraine to celebrate. Ukraine will continue to demonstrate their resolute courage, determination and enduring moral strength as they fight to liberate more of their homeland. Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence will be fully restored. The UK and the international community will remain steadfast in our support – we will stand by Ukraine for however long it takes., said the military adviser to the UK delegation to the OSCE.”

Over 60% of Ukrainians speak the national language in daily life, Ukrinform reports. “In everyday life, 61% of Ukrainian citizens speak Ukrainian. That’s according to the data of an eighth wave of the “Degree of Society in Time of War” survey.

The study showed that the largest increase in the share of the Ukrainian-speaking population is observed in the southern region (+23%) and in Kyiv (+23%), as well as in the eastern (+19%) region of Ukraine. Young people (18-24 years old) and the older age group (55-60 years old) are the most active in switching to Ukrainian daily.”

 

Hans Petter Midttun: The information space is full of conflicting statements. As the world – but Ukrainians more than anyone else – awaits the counteroffensive we see contractionary assertions.

According to NATO’s Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, the Ukrainian Forces have received the necessary equipment from the West. His assessment is supported by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who believes that Ukraine has the resources needed to win back the territory captured by Russia.

They are very much at odds with official statements from Ukraine, which is pleading with allies to overcome hesitation about supplying modern fighter jets. A Ukrainian air commander stressed Ukraine was in dire need of F-16 fighter jets, which he described as “four or five times” more effective than the Soviet-era planes currently used by Ukraine.

The fact is that Ukraine if fighting against Russian quantity with quality (that is slow in coming). In some cases, it is even fighting Russian quantity and quality without any effective countermeasures at all.

“While an accurate count of Moscow’s current military stocks is not available publicly, it has been roughly estimated that, as of February 2023, the total number of aircraft at the Kremlin’s disposal has been 13–15 times more than Kyiv’s. Russia has nearly 7–8 times more tanks and 4 times more armored fighting vehicles, while its naval fleet is 12–16 times larger than Ukraine’s.”

CSIS, Out of Stock? Assessing the Impact of Sanctions on Russia’s Defense Industry.

Ukraine is trying to achieve what Russia has failed to achieve for 15 months at tremendous costs, despite Ukraine lacking the Air Power Russia has employed to support its disastrous efforts to advance against Ukrainian defensive lines.

Ukraine’s urgent need for Air Defence and combat aircraft are recognised by its international partners in Eastern Europe. That is reflected in both public statements and actions. Slovakia and Poland have recently transferred Soviet-era MIG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine.

It’s rather ironic that on the same day, Stoltenberg and Blinken make their statements, the Czech president emphasise that Ukraine needs an air force to prepare for the decisive phase of the war with Russia, while considering providing Ukraine with Czech L-159 combat aircraft.

Because of the slow and incremental inflow of defence aid and the lack of long-range fire and modern combat aircraft, Ukraine is adjusting its aim and objectives for the counter-offensive. While the long-term aim remains fixed – the restoration of Ukrainian territorial integrity and sovereignty to the internationally recognised 1991 borders – Ukraine have probably realised that it is unlikely to fundamentally change the situation on the battlefield anytime soon.

It needs to plan for an offensive that reflects the inflow of weapons and ammunition: slow and incremental.

Both the Ukrainian Minister of Defence and Foreign Affairs have recently been trying to lower the expectations for the forthcoming offensive. The offensive will be a continuation of previous efforts and only the first in several future offensives.

Having failed to signal strategic resolve and respond to Russian violations of international law and outright provocations since 2007 – having failed to act resolutely in 2014 – having failed to help Ukraine re-establish deterrence and rebuilt their own Armed Forces – having failed to deter the full-scale invasion of Ukraine – and failing to intervene militarily in Ukraine, NATO needs to prepare its member states for a long war.

“It is critical that Ukraine’s Western partners develop a long-term theory of victory for Ukraine, since even in the best-case scenario, this upcoming offensive is unlikely to end the conflict. Indeed, what follows this operation could be another period of indeterminate fighting and attrition, but with reduced ammunition deliveries to Ukraine. This is already a long war, and it is likely to become protracted. History is an imperfect guide, but it suggests wars that endure for more than a year are likely to go on for at least several more and are exceedingly difficult to end. A Western theory of success must therefore prevent a situation in which the war drags on, but where Western countries are unable to provide Ukraine with a decisive advantage.”

Michael Kofman and Rob Lee, Foreign Affairs

Bundeswehr is not the only one experiencing that the lack of ammunition is getting worse. After 15 months of high intensity fighting several countries have long run out of critical ammunition and weapon systems. Many have taken strategic risks delivering aid to Ukraine knowing that their stockpiles will not be stocked up for years.

My previous assessment remains valid: The West is running out of weapons it can supply Ukraine. NATO or a coalition of the willing needs to intervene. Russia’s war with Ukraine affects billions. NATO could end it in a moment.

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