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Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 443: Ukraine needs more time for a counteroffensive-Zelenskyy. 

Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 443: Ukraine needs more time for a counteroffensive-Zelenskyy. 
Article by: Zarina Zabrisky

Ukraine needs more time for a counteroffensive-Zelenskyy. UK has supplied Ukraine with multiple Storm Shadow cruise missiles. Ukraine has limited advances in Bakhmut.

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1656739673857749014

Daily overview — Summary report, May 12

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 18.00 pm, May 12, 2023 is in the dropdown menu below:

Situation in Ukraine. May 11, 2023. Source: ISW.

 
Glory to Ukraine! Day 443 of the russian full-scale military aggression against Ukraine has begun.
During the day of May 11, the adversary launched 6x missile attacks, in particular on the cities of Sloviansk, Kostyantynivka, and Zaporizhzhia. In addition the 59x air strikes and 95x MLRS attacks at the positions of Ukrainian troops and various settlements were reported. 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 the russian federation does not stop its terror tactics.
The adversary continues to focus its main efforts on Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Mar’inka axes, with 44x enemy attacks repelled. The fiercest fighting is for the cities of Bakhmut and Mar’inka.
Volyn and Polissya axes: enemy no signs of the formation of offensive groups were found. The russian federation continues to use the territory, materiel, and equipment of the republic of belarus for training and combat coordination of the mobilized troops of russian Armed Forces. These units are then involved in combat operations in Ukraine.
Kharkiv Battle Map. May 11, 2023. Source: ISW.
Sivershchyna and Slobozhanshchyna axes: the enemy launched air strikes on the vicinities of settlements of Krasnyi Khutir (Chernihiv oblast), Krenydivka, Znob-Novhorod’ske, and Uralove (Sumy oblast) during the day of May 11. The invaders fired mortars and artillery at the settlements of Halahanivka, Leonivka (Chernihiv oblast), Novovasylivka, Ukrainske, Znob-Novhorods’ke, Murav’i, Chervone, Iskryskivshchyna, Bilopillya, Yastrubyne, Kindrativka, Basivka (Sumy oblast), Hur’yiv, Hlyboke, Starytsya, Buhruvatka, Ohirtseve, Hatyshche, Vovchans’k, Tykhe, Synel’nykove, Zybyne, Bochkove, Budarky, and Velykyi Burluk (Kharkiv oblast).
Kup’yans’k axis: the enemy did not conduct any offensive operations during the day of May 11. Russian forces launched an air strike in the vicinity of Pishchane. The enemy fired artillery and mortars at the settlements of Odradne, Dvorichans’ke, Kam’yanka, Topoli, Krasne Pershe, Fyholivka, Novomlyns’k, Dvorichna, Tabaivka (Kharkiv oblast), and Stel’makhivka (Luhansk oblast).
Donetsk Battle Map. May 11, 2023. Source: ISW.
Lyman axis: the occupiers conducted unsuccessful offensives in the vicinity of Serebryans’ke forestry. They launched air strikes near Hrekivka, Verkhn’okam’yans’ke, Spirne, and Bilohorivka. Makiivka, Nevs’ke (Luhansk oblast), Bilohorivka, Tors’ke, Serebryanka, Verkhn’okam’yans’ke, Spirne, Berestove, and Vesele (Donetsk oblast) were shelled with artillery.
Bakhmut axis: the adversary continues to advance. Battles in the city of Bakhmut continue. During the day of May 11, the enemy conducted unsuccessful offensives towards Stupochky. The invaders launched air strikes at the vicinities of settlements of Bakhmut, Bila Hora, Kurdyumivka, and New York. Vasyukivka, Orikhovo-Vasylivka, Novomarkove, Markove, Bakhmut, Ivanivske, Chasiv Yar, Kostyantynivka, Oleksandro-Shul’tyne, Pivdenne, Toretsk, Pivnichne, and New York (Donetsk oblast) suffered from enemy shelling.
Avdiivka axis: the adversary conducted unsuccessful offensives in the vicinity of Avdiivka. The invaders shelled the settlements of Novokalynove, Berdychi, Stepove, Sjeverne, and Pervomais’ke (Donetsk oblast).
Mar’inka axis: Ukrainian Defense Forces repelled numerous attacks in the vicinity of Mar’inka. Hostre, Heorhiivka, and Pobjeda (Donetsk oblast) also came under enemy fire.
Shakhtars’ke axis: during the day of May 11, the enemy conducted offensive operations in the vicinity of Novomykhailivka, to no success. The invaders launched air strikes near Vuhledar and Prechystivka, shelled the settlements of Paraskoviivka, Kostyantynivka, Novomykhailivka, Vuhledar, Novoukrainka, and Prechystivka.
Zaporizhzhia Battle Map. May 11, 2023. Source: ISW.
Zaporizhzhia and Kherson axes: the occupiers stay on the defensive. The invaders launched air strikes in the vicinities of Mala Tokmachka, Omel’nyk, and Kizomys. The enemy shelled Vremivka, Novopil’ (Donetsk oblast), Ol’hivs’ke, Hulyaipole, Zaliznychne, Huliaipilske, Bilohir’ya, Mala Tokmachka, Kam’yans’ke (Zaporizhzhia oblast), Nikopol (Dnipropetrovsk oblast), Zolota Balka, Vesele, L’vove, Ivanivka, Antonivka, Dniprovs’ke, Kizomys (Kherson oblast), and the city of Kherson.
Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. May 11, 2023. Source: ISW.
During the day of May 11, Ukrainian Air Force launched 14x air strikes on the concentrations of troops and military equipment of the adversary. In addition, 9x enemy UAVs of various types were destroyed. The Ukrainian missile and artillery troops hit 11x command posts, 19x concentrations of troops, 1x ammunition depot, 1x fuel and lubricants depot, 9x artillery units at their firing positions, 1x air defense asset, and 2x other important targets of the adversary.

Military Updates

Zelenskyy says Ukraine needs more time for a counter-offensive. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his country needs more time to launch a much-anticipated counter-offensive against Russian forces as its military awaits the delivery of promised military aid, he said in an interview for public broadcasters who are members of Eurovision News in Kyiv, BBC reports.

Ukrainians carry out successful limited counterattacks around Bakhmut on May 9 – ISW. In its latest Russian offensive campaign assessment, the US-based think tank Institute for the Study of War (ISW) confirms that Ukrainian forces have successfully conducted limited counterattacks around Bakhmut on 9 May.

Russian soldier surrenders to Ukrainian drone near Bakhmut: VIDEO

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

https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1656970060978696194

On the night of 08-09 May 2023, the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet vessels launched eight SS-N-30a SAGARIS land attack cruise missiles (LACMs) against Ukraine. This was only the second use of Russian Navy LACMs reported since 09 March 2023.

Up to March 2023, the Russian Navy frequently launched SAGARIS. Russia likely temporarily suspended using these weapons because it wanted to rebuild its reserve stocks. In the short-term, Russia likely sees LACM as a key capability to strike deep into Ukraine to disrupt anticipated Ukrainian counter-offensives.

However, more strategically, Russia also sees conventional SAGARIS and other LACMs as having an important role in any hypothetical conflict with NATO. How to use these scarce and expensive weapons is one of the numerous dilemmas Russian commanders face because the war in Ukraine has gone on much longer than they originally planned for.

Losses of the Russian army 

Losses of the Russian Army. Source: Euromaidan Press.

Humanitarian 

In Kyiv Oblast, 281 people still considered missing after de-occupation in spring 2022 — Police. After the de-occupation of Kyiv Oblast in the spring of 2022, 281 people are still missing, according to the Kyiv Oblast police chief. “Since the de-occupation, 1,374 bodies of our compatriots have been found. According to experts, 717 people were killed with firearms. Unfortunately, 191 bodies remain unidentified, 281 people are missing,” the head of the Main Department of the National Police in Kyiv oblast, Andrii Nebytov, told Ukrinform. He noted that 15 mass graves have been discovered in Kyiv Oblast, and three places of torture have been identified.

Russian troops loot medical equipment in town near occupied nuclear plant, Ukraine says. Russian soldiers looted equipment from all medical facilities in the town of Enerhodar that serves the occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, the Ukrainian Army said. According to the defenders, who fight in southern Ukraine, invaders brought the stolen property to Simferopol in Crimea, during the “evacuation” of 300 civilians to occupied Berdiansk.

Russian court helps prosecution fake evidence in ‘trial’ of Crimean Tatar civic activist. Russia’s use of totally anonymous ‘witnesses’ in the trials of political prisoners has already been condemned by, among others, the UN Secretary General in his 2021 report on occupied Crimea.  It now transpires that Russian courts are not only willing to ignore the lack of any grounds for witnesses testifying in secret but will also ‘adjust’ such ‘testimony’ should it not suit the prosecution’s case.

Support

Czech Republic sends 75 generators to Ukraine. Infrastructure enterprises and Ukrainian soldiers have received 75 generators sent by the Czech Republic, according to the head of the Dnipropetrovsk Regional Council, Mykola Lukashuk.

95 Estonian deputies sign a statement of support for Ukraine’s NATO membership. On 10 May, 95 Estonian deputies signed a statement supporting Ukraine’s NATO membership, according to ERR. The draft statement was submitted to the parliament by Marco Mikkelson, the Chairman of the Estonian Foreign Affairs Committee. The document emphasized that Ukraine’s accession to NATO is the only way to ensure the security of democratic EU states.

Czech Republic to supply Ukraine with two Kub air defense systems, president says. Czech President Petr Pavel has announced that Prague will send two Kub air defense systems and missiles to them to Ukraine. The Czech army plans to replace the air defense system “Kub” capable of intercepting aircraft from the Soviet stockpile with the SPYDER missile complexes from Israel. In addition, Czech President Petr Pavel has revealed that Prague is considering sending Aero L-159 ALCA fighter jets to Ukraine, as per Ceske Noviny.

UK confirms supply of long-range Storm Shadow cruise missiles to Ukraine (updated). Britain has supplied Ukraine with multiple Storm Shadow cruise missiles, giving Ukrainian forces a new long-range strike capability in advance of a highly anticipated counteroffensive against Russian forces, multiple senior Western officials told CNN.

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1656766182882418690

New Developments

Fire breaks out in Russia’s Norilsk. A major fire has broken out at a 4000 sq m storage facility in Russia’s city of Norilsk, RIA Novosti, a pro-Kremlin news outlet, has reported. According to the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations, the blaze has already doubled in size, rapidly spreading across the building, which stores highly flammable liquids. At least 62 emergency workers have been deployed to extinguish the fire.

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1656749789197791257

South Africa supplied weapons and ammo to Russia despite claiming neutrality – US Ambassador. South Africa provided Russia with weapons and ammunition amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, US Ambassador to SA Reuben E. Brigety II said, according to The Telegraph. Last December, a sanctioned Russian cargo ship called the Lady R docked at a naval base outside Cape Town, prompting suspicion and concern. The ambassador said South Africa had loaded arms and ammunition onto the vessel, despite Pretoria claiming it wished to remain neutral in the conflict.

Russian military turns to prisoner recruitment to avoid mandatory mobilization – UK intel. In its latest intelligence update, the UK Defense Ministry reports an increase in the Russian Ministry of Defense’s recruitment of Russian prisoners to fight in Ukraine as part of a broader effort to avoid new mandatory mobilization.

US approves first transfer of seized Russian oligarch funds to Ukraine. On 10 May, the US Justice Department announced that it had transferred millions of dollars in assets seized from a Russian oligarch for use in rebuilding Ukraine, marking the first such use of forfeited funds arising from sanctions violations, The New York Times reported.

Philips to keep delivering hospital equipment to Russia despite Ukraine war. Dutch health technology company Philips has affirmed its commitment to continue supplying hospital equipment to Russia, despite the ongoing war in Ukraine, Reuters reported. The declaration was made by Philips’ CEO, Roy Jakobs, on 9 May during the company’s annual shareholders meeting in Amsterdam.

Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of  May 11, 2022:

Ukrainian forces likely broke through some Russian lines in localized counterattacks near Bakhmut, prompting responses from Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin and the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD). Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Commander Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi stated that Russian forces retreated up to two kilometers behind Russian lines in unspecified sectors of the Bakhmut front.[1] Syrskyi’s confirmation of Ukrainian gains prompted a response from Prigozhin, who claimed that Ukrainian forces have started the counteroffensive and recaptured three kilometers of ground in and around Bakhmut.[2] The Russian MoD acknowledged the Ukrainian counterattacks uncharacteristically quickly, claiming that Russian forces repelled eight ground attacks and three reconnaissance-in-force efforts in the Donetsk direction but denied reports that Ukrainian forces broke through the Russian defensive lines.[3] Prigozhin’s and the MoD’s responses are reflective of increased panic in the Russian information space over speculations about planned Ukrainian counteroffensives and indicate increased concern among Wagner and Russian MoD leadership as well as reflecting Kremlin guidance to avoid downplaying Ukrainian successes.[4]

The deployment of low-quality Russian forces on the flanks around Bakhmut suggests that the Russian MoD has largely abandoned the aim of encircling a significant number of Ukrainian forces there. The Russian MoD likely began a broader deprioritization of the Bakhmut effort by January 2023 when the MoD cut off Wagner Group penal recruitment efforts, which likely prompted Prigozhin to ramp up the Soledar-Bakhmut effort in January and publicly complain about the lack of MoD support for his efforts starting in February 2023.[5] The Russian MoD briefly allocated more resources to the Bakhmut front line in March and April by sending T-90 tanks and Russian Airborne (VDV) forces to the Bakhmut area and assigning mobilized reservists to Wagner, however.[6] Prigozhin claimed on April 24 that the Russian MoD only deployed irregular and degraded units to hold Bakhmut’s flanks, and the inability of these units to fulfill even this limited mission indicates that Russian flanks in Bakhmut and other similarly-manned areas of the front are likely vulnerable to Ukrainian counterattacks.[7] The MoD’s allocation of forces combined with changes in the geometry of the battlespace also suggests that the danger of a Russian encirclement of significant Ukrainian forces in Bakhmut may have passed. Wagner forces will likely continue conducting frontal assaults in Bakhmut, which would allow Ukrainian forces to conduct organized withdrawals from threatened areas in a shallower partial envelopment rather than facing encirclement on a large scale.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that Ukraine needs more time to launch a counteroffensive because it is waiting for the delivery of promised military aid. Zelensky told the BBC that some of the expected military equipment has not arrived in Ukraine and that, although Ukrainian forces are ready for the counteroffensive, Ukraine would suffer too many casualties.[8] Zelensky also stated that the Ukrainian counteroffensive is important to prevent Russia from freezing the war.

Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov contradicted the pre-war Kremlin justifications for the war by asserting that the Russian “special military operation” began as “a conflict between Russia and Ukraine.” He said that Russia has “partially” achieved the goals of “protecting” people in Donbas,[9] but added that Russia is still far from fully achieving these goals. He said that it was ”hard to believe” at the beginning of the war that NATO, the United States, and European countries would ”intervene in this conflict.” ISW previously reported that the Kremlin has begun to shift its domestic narratives to claim that Russia is fighting only against NATO in an effort to set informational conditions for potential Russian military failures during the planned Ukrainian counteroffensive.[10] Peskov’s statement is consistent with the new Russian narrative but contradicts Russian President Vladimir Putin’s statements prior to the February 24, 2022 invasion. Putin stated on February 21, 2022, that Russia is ”not fighting the Ukrainian people” and claimed that Ukraine had become a hostage of its ”Western masters.”[11] The Russian pre-war justification for the invasion relied heavily on portraying a NATO threat to Russia supposedly emanating from Ukraine.[12]

Unnamed Kremlin sources claimed that Wagner Group Yevgeny Prigozhin’s recent rhetoric is “seriously disturbing the top leadership” of Russia. Two Kremlin sources told Russian opposition outlet Meduza that the Kremlin saw Prigozhin’s attempts to blackmail the Russian MoD on May 5 as a “serious threat” and that Prigozhin is not acting in the Kremlin’s interests.[13] One interlocutor stated that Prigozhin is committed to claiming Bakhmut as a personal victory in order to have influence over the Russian MoD. The Kremlin reportedly expressed further concerns over Prigozhin’s May 9 mockery of the “happy grandfather” figure who is responsible for future Russian generations.[14] ISW assessed on May 9 that Prigozhin was likely referring to Putin, and a Kremlin source claims that Prigozhin’s statement was a direct allusion to Putin. The second interlocutor claimed that Prigozhin’s rhetoric cannot be interpreted as a “direct attack” on Putin, however. Prigozhin attempted on May 10 to downplay his original statements, claiming that the “happy grandfather” did not refer to Putin.[15] The sources noted that Prigozhin’s escalating behavior is likely a result of his inability to meet an unspecified deadline for the capture of Bakhmut. One source claimed that Prigozhin is blaming conventional units in order to avoid accepting responsibility for failing to follow through on his “personal promise” to capture Bakhmut.

The interlocutors noted that Prigozhin may have crossed the Kremlin’s “red lines” and may alienate his supporters within the Russian inner circle. Prigozhin reportedly is losing contact with one of his patrons, Russian billionaire and Putin’s “personal banker” Yuriy Kovalchuk. Kovalchuk was reportedly one of the leading voices supporting the full-scale invasion of Ukraine after developing a strong relationship with Putin during the Covid-19 pandemic.[16] The sources noted that Russian propagandists received a directive to discredit Prigozhin as a traitor if he continues to critique the Kremlin – an effort that has previously failed.[17] The sources assessed that Prigozhin is not at risk while Wagner is still on the frontline, which allows Prigozhin to have contact with Putin.

The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) denied official Ukrainian and US reports that a Patriot missile defense system shot down a Kinzhal missile on the night of May 4.[18] Kremlin newswire TASS reported on May 11 that a “high-ranking source in the Russian MoD” denied reports that Ukraine intercepted a Kinzhal missile. Ukrainian Air Force Commander Mykola Oleshchuk had reported that Ukrainian forces used the Patriot system to shoot down a Kinzhal missile in the air over Kyiv Oblast at night on May 4.[19] The Russian MoD denied this report only after the US Department of Defense confirmed on May 9 that a Patriot air defense system had shot down a Russian Kinzhal missile.[20]

Russian occupation authorities seized the cathedral of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine in Simferopol as oppression of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church continues in Russian-occupied Crimea. The Commissioner of the Crimean Eparchy of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, Metropolitan Kliment of Simferopol, and Crimean journalist Andriy Shchekun reported on May 11 that representatives of the Russian State Property Fund of the Republic of Crimea and other occupation authorities broke down the doors of the church and began stealing the property of the cathedral.[21] ISW has previously reported on Russia’s religious repression throughout occupied Ukraine.[22]

Key Takeaways

  • Ukrainian forces likely broke through some Russian lines in localized counterattacks near Bakhmut, prompting responses from Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin and the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD).
  • The deployment of low-quality Russian forces on the flanks around Bakhmut suggests that the Russian MoD has largely abandoned the aim of encircling a significant number of Ukrainian forces there.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that Ukraine needs more time to launch a counteroffensive because it is waiting for the delivery of promised military aid.
  • Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov contradicted the pre-war Kremlin justifications for the war by asserting that the Russian “special military operation” began as “a conflict between Russia and Ukraine.”
  • Unnamed Kremlin sources claimed that Wagner Group Yevgeny Prigozhin’s recent rhetoric is “seriously disturbing the top leadership” of Russia.
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) denied Ukrainian and US reports that a Patriot missile defense system shot down a Kinzhal missile on the night of May 4.
  • Russian occupation authorities seized the cathedral of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine in Simferopol as oppression of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church continues in Russian-occupied Crimea.
  • Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks northeast of Kupiansk and along the Svatove-Kreminna line.
  • Ukrainian forces reportedly continued to conduct localized counterattacks around Bakhmut.
  • Russian forces targeted Ukrainian positions west of Hulyaipole and in Kherson Oblast.
  • Russia needs to produce over 29 million shells per year to satisfy Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin’s demands for Wagner to use 80,000 shells per day – 13 times more than Russia’s pre-invasion annual production rate.
  • Russian officials continue to threaten and seek to manipulate international humanitarian efforts by threatening to dissolve the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which is set to expire on May 18.
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