Russo Ukrainian War. Day 448: US Patriot missile defense system in Ukraine damaged

 

Daily review

Article by: Hans Petter Midttun

US Patriot missile defense system in Ukraine damaged. Ukraine liberates 20 kilometres around Bakhmut. Russia advances into the city.

Daily overview — Summary report, May 17

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 18.00 pm, May 17, 2023 is in the dropdown menu below:

Situation in Ukraine. May 16, 2023. Source: ISW. ~

Situation in Ukraine. May 16, 2023. Source: ISW.

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According to updated information yesterday, Russian forces launched 31 missile strikes, in particular, 2 S-300 missiles on the civilian infrastructure of Kostyantynivka, Donetsk region, and 2 Kalibr missiles on the civilian infrastructure of Mykolaiv. In addition, the Russian occupiers carried out 57 airstrikes and launched 96 attacks from MLRS on the positions of our troops and populated areas. For missile strikes, Russian forces used 6 Kinzhal air-launched ballistic missiles, 13 Kalibr cruise missiles (2 missiles exploded in the air) and 10 ground-based missiles (S-400, Iskander-M), 25 of them were destroyed by our defenders.

The civil infrastructure was destroyed. In particular, because of the Russian shelling of the settlements of Dvorichna, Vovchansk and Tyshchenkovka in the Kharkiv region, civilians were killed and wounded, and residential private houses, a hospital and other civil infrastructure were destroyed.

The probability of further missile and air strikes on the entire territory of Ukraine remains high.

Russian forces continue to concentrate their main efforts on Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Marinka axes. – 55 combat clashes took place last day. Bakhmut and Marinka will continue to be at the epicentre of hostilities.

  • Volyn’ and Polissya axes: no signs of the formation of enemy offensive groups were detected. Certain units of the armed forces of the Republic of Belarus continue to be present in the areas bordering Ukraine. The transfer of the Russian territorial troops, which were trained at the training grounds of Belarus, to the frontline continues.
  • Sivershchyna and Slobozhanshchyna axes: Russian forces carried out mortar and artillery attacks on the settlements of Zaliznyi Myst, Gremyach, and Muravyi of the Chernihiv region; Romashkove, Stari Virky, Iskriskivshchyna, Volfyne, Kindrativka, Sadky, Zapsilya, Myropyllya, Velika Rybytsa in the Sumy region, as well as Kozacha Lopan, Hoptivka, Lukyantsi, Gatyshche, Pletenivka, Nesterne, Krugle, Zemlianka, Staritsa and Budarky in the Kharkiv region.
  • Kupyansk axis: Russian forces carried out unsuccessful offensive actions in the districts of Masyutivka in the Kharkiv region and Novoselivskyi and Stelmakhivka in the Luhansk region. He carried out airstrikes in the areas of Budarka, Vilshana, Kislivka, Kotlyarivka and Tabaivka settlements of the Kharkiv region. Dvorichanske, Kamianka, Krasne Pershe, Figolivka, Novomlynsk, Dvorichna, Masyutivka, Kindrasivka, Kup’yansk, Kislivka, Tabaivka, Berestov in Kharkiv region and Stelmakhivka in Luhansk were subjected to artillery and mortar shelling.
Donetsk Battle Map. May 16, 2023. Source: ISW. ~

Donetsk Battle Map. May 16, 2023. Source: ISW.

  • Lyman axis: Russian forces carried out offensive actions in the area of Belogorivka, Luhansk region. He carried out airstrikes near Beilohorivka in the Luhansk region and Spirny, Siversk and Chervony in the Donetsk region. Makiivka, Nevske, and Belogorivka of the Luhansk region and Verkhnokamianske, Torske and Spirne of the Donetsk region were hit by artillery fire.
  • Bakhmut axis: Russian forces continues to conduct offensive actions. Heavy fighting continues for Bakhmut. Russian forces also conducted unsuccessful offensive actions in the direction of Ivanivskyi. He carried out airstrikes in Bohdanivka, Bakhmut, Ivanivskyi and Toretsk districts. Hryhorivka, Bohdanivka, Bakhmut, Ivanivske, Chasiv Yar, Stupochki, Severnye and Toretsk of the Donetsk region were affected by enemy shelling.
Bakhmut Battle Map. May 16, 2023. Source: ISW. ~

Bakhmut Battle Map. May 16, 2023. Source: ISW.

  • Avdiivka axis: Russian forces continues to destroy the infrastructure of populated areas. He carried out airstrikes on Avdiivka and Vodyan and shelled the settlements of Novokalynove, Berdychi, Stepove, Avdiivka, Pervomaiske, Nevelske and Karlivka in the Donetsk region.
  • Marinka axis: units of the defence forces repelled numerous enemy attacks in the area of the city of Marinka. The occupiers launched an airstrike in the Krasnohorivka region. At the same time, Krasnohorivka, Gostre, Maryinka and Pobyeda of the Donetsk region were subjected to enemy shelling.
  • Shakhtarske axis: Russian forces carried out airstrikes in the areas of Vugledar and Velika Novosilka. Shelled with artillery, in particular, Novomykhailivka, Paraskoviivka, Vugledar, Prechistivka, and Novoukrayinka of the Donetsk region.
Zaporizhzhia Battle Map. May 16, 2023. Source: ISW. ~

Zaporizhzhia Battle Map. May 16, 2023. Source: ISW.

  • Zaporizhzhia and Kherson axes: Russian forces are defending in the directions. He carried out airstrikes on the settlements of Vremivka in the Donetsk region, Mala Tokmachka, Novodanilivka in the Zaporizhzhia region, and Berislav and Kizomys in the Kherson region. Meanwhile, it shelled the settlements of Olhivske, Malynivka, Gulyaipole, Zaliznychne, Gulyaipilske, Biloghirya, Shcherbaki, Stepove and Kamianske of the Zaporizhzhia region, as well as Tokarivka, Molodizhne and Kizomys of the Kherson region and the city of Kherson.
Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. May 16, 2023. Source: ISW. ~

Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. May 16, 2023. Source: ISW.

Russian forces continue to cynically use preschools in temporarily captured settlements for their own purposes. For example, the Russian occupiers use the building of a kindergarten in the Yuryivka village of Zaporizhzhia region to accommodate personnel. At the same time, the territory of the kindergarten is home to civilians who were evacuated from settlements close to the battle line.

[The Russian occupiers continue to rob the population of Ukraine, appropriating the grain harvest of peaceful citizens. Therefore, in the city of Feodosia, temporarily occupied Crimea, the so-called Russian occupation “authorities” are trying to transport the stolen grain to ports by loading it onto the sanctioned Syrian ship “Souria”.]

Over the past day, the Ukrainian Air Force made 14 strikes on areas where enemy personnel and military equipment were concentrated, as well as 4 strikes on enemy anti-aircraft missile systems. On 16 May, Ukrainian defenders destroyed 10 attacks and 6 reconnaissance UAVs.

On 16 May, Ukrainian missile and artillery units hit 6 areas of concentration of manpower, 3 stations of radio-electronic warfare, 4 warehouses of enemy ammunition and 1 point of fuel and lubricating materials of the occupiers.

Military Updates

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1658574290005135361

A new wave of missiles – all destroyed Tuesday morning, the Ukrainian General Staff reports. “Around 3:30 a.m. on May 16, 2023, the Russian invaders attacked Ukraine from the north, south, and east with 18 air, sea, and land-based missiles of various types. Six Kh-47M2 “Kinzhal” air-launched ballistic missiles were launched from six MiG-31K aircraft, 9 Kalibr cruise missiles were launched from ships in the Black Sea, and three land-based missiles (S-400, “Iskander-M”).

All 18 missiles were destroyed by the forces and means of air defence of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

In addition, on the night of May 16, the enemy attacked with attack drones of the Shahed-136/131 type, and also conducted aerial reconnaissance with three operational-tactical drones – “Orlan-10”, “SuperCam”. All were destroyed.

This is the 8th Russian air attack on Kyiv since the beginning of May, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the Command of the Joint Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. “Lieutenant General Serhii Naiev, Commander of the Joint Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, has reported that this night was the eighth air attack on Kyiv since the beginning of May.

The density of fire on the capital was maximum, but all targets were detected and destroyed thanks to the multi-level principle of air defence echeloning.”

Patriot missile defence system in Ukraine likely damaged – US sources, Reuters reports. “A US-made Patriot missile defence system being used by Ukraine likely suffered some damage from a Russian strike, two US officials said on Tuesday, adding that it did not appear to have been destroyed. […]

One US official, speaking on the condition of anonymity and citing initial information, said Washington and Kyiv were already talking about the best way to repair the system and at this point, it did not appear the system would have to be removed from Ukraine.”

Ukraine’s Armed Forces advancing near Bakhmut for 3 days, Russians in a stupor – Ground Forces Commander, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Oleksandr Syrskyi, the Commander of the Ground Forces of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, visited the troops near Bakhmut and thanked them for their counteroffensive actions during the last three days, completely disorienting the Russians. […]

This is another chapter in our war, and it began just three days ago, when you launched an offensive. By your actions, you have stalled the entire Russian army because the Russians do not know where the offensive is, where our general offensive is, or what is happening near Bakhmut, which they already considered theirs and said that it was already actually surrounded. Moreover, now the situation is completely different.

He added that the Wagnerites in Bakhmut are feeling like rats in a mousetrap because the Defence Forces from the north and the south continue offensive actions and gain victories. According to Syrskyi, the defenders of Bakhmut use the active defence principle, thus destroying the Russian plans, who still have more resources.”

Armed Forces of Ukraine liberate 20 kilometres around Bakhmut, Russians advance into the city itself, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Hanna Maliar, Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Defence. “Within a few days, the Armed Forces of Ukraine liberated 20 square kilometres in the suburbs of Bakhmut, Russian invaders are advancing into the city itself and are deploying units of professional paratroopers.

Within a few days, our troops liberated about 20 square kilometres of suburbs north and south of Bakhmut from enemy forces. At the same time, the enemy is somewhat advancing in Bakhmut itself, completely destroying the city with artillery. In addition, the enemy deployed units of professional paratroopers. […]

Maliar stressed that information about the course of combat should be considered within a set of all measures of the defensive operation and not be taken out of the context of events.”

Ukraine has used long-range “Storm Shadow” missiles against Russian targets, sources say, CNN reports. “Ukrainian forces have begun using long-range “Storm Shadow” missiles provided by the UK to strike Russian targets, two US officials and a Western official familiar with the matter told CNN Tuesday. A spokesperson for the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense declined to comment.

The Storm Shadow is a long-range cruise missile with stealth capabilities, jointly developed by the UK and France, which is typically launched from the air. With a firing range in excess of 250km, or 155 miles.”

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

https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1658798322801430530

  • Over the last week, the air battle over the Russia-Ukraine border has intensified. On 13 May 2023 alone, four Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) aircraft (two advanced combat jets and two helicopters) crashed, apparently shot down over Russia’s Bryansk region.
  • On 03 May 2023, Ukraine achieved the first ever shoot-down of a KILLJOY air-launched ballistic missile. Subsequently, Russia has prioritised attempting to neutralise Ukraine’s improved air defence capabilities, but in the process has likely lost several more KILLJOY.
  • The increased air threat over Russia’s border region will be of exceptional concern for the VKS because it uses the area to launch air power in support of the war. The apparent vulnerability of KILLJOY is likely a surprise and an embarrassment for Russia: Russian President Vladimir Putin has touted the system as undefeatable.
  • Wagner Group forces continue to make gradual progress in clearing Ukrainian positions in the town centre of the contested Donetsk Oblast town of Bakhmut. However, over the last four days, Ukrainian forces have made tactical progress stabilising the flanks of Bakhmut to their advantage.
  • As well as progress to the south of town, Ukrainian assaults have forced back the Russian frontline to the north-west of the town. This has likely enabled Ukrainian forces to re-establish more secure use of the key 0506 supply road.
  • Ukraine is holding Russia’s western advances along the line of Donets-Donbas Canal, turning the waterway into an obstacle as part of a deep defensive zone around the town of Chasiv Yar..

Losses of the Russian army 

As of Wednesday 17 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 200590 (+610)
  • Tanks – 3771 (+9)
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 7365 (+17)
  • Artillery systems – 3166 (+16)
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 562 (+0)
  • Air defence means – 318 (+2)
  • Aircraft – 308 (+0)
  • Helicopters – 294 (+0)
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 6067 (+19)
  • Vessels/boats – 18 (+0)
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 2748 (+16)
  • Special equipment – 417 (+7)
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0)
  • Cruise missiles – 982 (+9)

Humanitarian 

About 2,000 Azovstal defenders are still in Russian captivity, Ukrinform reports. “Over the year, Ukraine has managed to return about 500 Azovstal defenders home, while about 2,000 more are in Russian captivity. Natalka Zarytska, head of the NGO “Council of Wives and Mothers “Women of Steel”, said this at a briefing dedicated to one year anniversary of the withdrawal from Azovstal steelworks.

Despite all efforts, only 20% of the defenders, who stood to the death until they received an order from the command to lay down their arms and save their lives, were able to return over the past 12 months. Only the defenders of Azovstal received such an order during the war. According to information from open sources, fulfilling the order, about 2,500 defenders left the territory of the plant. Over the year, about 500 defenders were returned. This means that about 2,000 boys and girls are still in the hell of captivity, and together with them, their relatives and friends have been in the hell of uncertainty for the whole year, Zarytska said.

She stressed that the service members are tortured and starved in captivity. Last September, there was a big exchange of Azovstal defenders. Service members, who had been in captivity for four months, returned. Everyone is aware of the condition in which they returned: they lost 40 kg of weight on average, got their kidneys lowered, spines broken, knees injured, muscles broken, sight, hearing, teeth lost, psychological trauma acquired, Zarytska said.”

The last ship to leave Ukraine as the fate of the Black Sea grain deal in Russia’s hands, Reuters reports. “The last ship is due to leave a port in Ukraine on Wednesday under a deal allowing the safe Black Sea export of Ukraine grain, said a U.N. spokesperson, a day before Russia could quit the pact over obstacles to its grain and fertilizer exports.

The United Nations and Türkiye brokered the Black Sea deal for an initial 120 days in July last year to help tackle a global food crisis that has been aggravated by Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, one of the world’s leading grain exporters. Moscow agreed to extend the Black Sea pact for a further 120 days in November, but then in March it agreed to a 60 day extension – until May 18 – unless a list of demands regarding its own agricultural exports was met. […]

There are still a lot of open questions regarding our part of the deal. Now a decision will have to be taken, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday, according to Russian media. […]

While Russian exports of food and fertilizer are not subject to Western sanctions imposed following the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Moscow says restrictions on payments, logistics and insurance have amounted to a barrier to shipments. The United States has rejected Russia’s complaints. US Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said last week: It is exporting grain and fertilizer at the same levels, if not higher, than before the full-scale invasion.”

No vessels were inspected within the grain initiative last week – UCAB, Ukrinform reports, citing the Ukrainian Agribusiness Club (UCAB). “In the 41st week of the grain corridor’s operation, from May 8 to 14, 2023, not a single vessel was inspected or registered for entry into Ukrainian seaports. It is noted that 60 vessels are awaiting inspection. Currently, only ships that entered earlier are being loaded in seaports. UCAB emphasizes that Russians have practically stopped the possibility of further export of Ukrainian agricultural products by sea. […]

UCAB says that the volume of shipments through seaports last week remains among the lowest this year. […] From August 1, 2022, to May 14, 2023, Ukraine exported 30.2 million tonnes of agricultural products.

As Ukrinform reported, on May 10-11, negotiations on the grain deal were held in Istanbul at the level of deputy defence ministers of Türkiye, Ukraine, Russia, and UN representatives. After the first day of talks, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said that the agreement on the grain corridor in the Black Sea could be extended for at least two more months.

On March 18, 2023, Ukraine, the United Nations, and Türkiye agreed to extend the Initiative for the Safe Transportation of Agricultural Products through the Black Sea. According to Deputy Prime Minister for Reconstruction – Minister of Communities, Territories and Infrastructure Development of Ukraine Oleksandr Kubrakov, the agreement was extended for 120 days, but Russia claims that the agreement will be in effect until May 18, 2023.”

Russians once again attacked one of the thermal power plants, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing DTEK. “On the evening of 15 May, one of DTEK Energo’s thermal power plants was again damaged due to an attack. The company added that there were no casualties.

As a result of the attack, the equipment of thermal power plants has been damaged. After the attack stopped, the power engineers began to deal with its aftermath, the report says. DTEK stressed that this is the third attack on the company’s energy facilities since the beginning of May. DTEK Energo’s thermal power plants have been attacked 33 times since September last year.”

Environmental

Occupiers forbid Zaporizhzhia NPP staff to even talk to each other – Energoatom, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Ukrainian State Enterprise National Nuclear Energy Generating Company Energoatom on Telegram. “The occupiers at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) make the rules of work and stay at the plant for the staff stricter every day. At the moment the employees are not even allowed to talk to each other.

After a recently introduced ban on using even feature phones on the territory of the ZNPP, the Russian terrorists enter another level of absurdity and introduce even more nonsensical restrictions for the staff. Reportedly, nearly 2,500 members of staff currently remain at the ZNPP.

However, it is armed guards who decide how the plant is going to work – they thoroughly check the employees before their shifts, only let them get to their workplaces by an overpass, ban them from moving around the territory of the ZNPP and even from going outside. Also, as Energoatom reports, the occupiers demand that the employees only look in front of them while working and not communicate with each other.

The reason for such restrictions, which make the communication between the employees extremely difficult, may be an attempt of the occupiers to disguise their firing positions and a big quantity of military equipment in the territory of the power plant.”

Legal 

Bringing Russia to justice will be one of the main topics on the agenda of the Council of Europe summit – von der Leyen, Censor.net reports, citing Ukrinform. “At the Council of Europe summit in Iceland, one of the key topics will be holding Russia accountable for crimes committed in Ukraine. This was stated by the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen today in Reykjavik during a joint press conference with the Prime Minister of Iceland Katrín Jakobsdóttir.

I am convinced that the summit in Reykjavik is taking place at the right time. First of all, its important topic will be Russia’s responsibility for the crime of aggression, which it constantly commits by continuing the war against Ukraine. I am very pleased that we will have a register of damages (caused by Russia in Ukraine – Ed.), which is important for establishing justice, said von der Leyen. She noted that this registry is also very important in the context of efforts to rebuild Ukraine and to establish justice for the victims of Russian aggression.”

Blinken says the US won’t rule out labelling Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, Ukrinform reports. “US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Department of State would not rule out designating Russia a state sponsor of terrorism for its accused atrocities in Ukraine.

According to CNN, in an angry line of questioning at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on China on May 16, Sen. Lindsey Graham asked Blinken: You’re never going to designate Russian state-sponsored terrorism, are you? Blinken quickly responded, never say never.”

Russians threaten to cut off electricity to residents of occupied Zaporizhzhia Oblast, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing press service of Ukraine’s National Resistance Center. “The occupiers are threatening to cut off the electricity supply to the homes of residents of the occupied part of Zaporizhzhia Oblast who do not have Russian passports.

The National Resistance Center has reported that the occupiers are forcing residents to make new electricity supply contracts that require Russian-issued documents. In particular, to do this, you need to have a Russian-issued passport, tax ID and documents for the ownership of the property. 

The National Resistance Center has said that the occupiers are giving the residents 30 days to file all the documents and sign new agreements, otherwise, they will cut off the electricity supply.”

State Investigation Bureau served serviceman who surrendered 277 marines in Mariupol with notice of suspicion, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the press service of the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) and sources of UP in law enforcement agencies. “SBI has served Kostiantyn Bezsmertnyi, the head of the material service of the 501st Separate Marine Brigade, with a notice of suspicion. […]

A year ago, law enforcement agencies began investigating under Art. 430 of the Criminal Code (voluntary surrender). The investigation established that the head of the rear logistics of the 501st Separate Marine Brigade betrayed his oath and sided with the enemy. He conspired with the Russians and persuaded the commander to surrender. Taking advantage of the difficult situation faced by the defence forces in Mariupol, the traitor persuaded the commander to cease defensive actions and surrender weapons and personnel.

277 servicemen of the battalion were ordered to redeploy, but they were transferred to the ‘DPR’ [Donetsk People’s Republic – ed.]. The soldiers were misled; therefore, they did not realise and could not realise the illegal nature of the order or command to surrender. The SBI also decided to close proceedings against 277 servicemen of the 501st Separate Marine Brigade on suspicion of desertion. Thus, relatives of marines can receive payments from authorised bodies. […]

Ukraine Supreme Court chief dismissed after being detained in bribery case, Reuters reports. “The head of Ukraine’s Supreme Court was dismissed from his post on Tuesday after being detained in a bribery investigation which anti-corruption authorities cast as their biggest-ever case. Kyiv has redoubled efforts to clamp down on corruption despite Russia’s invasion, and doing so is vital to meet the conditions for joining the European Union.

Oleksandr Omelchenko, a prosecutor at the Specialised Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAPO), said the Supreme Court’s top judge had been detained as part of a suspected bribery scheme and was awaiting a formal “notice of suspicion”. […] An emergency Supreme Court plenary meeting hours later voted no-confidence in Kniaziev and then voted for his dismissal as head of the court. Another judicial body would be responsible for stripping him of his status as a judge. […]

In a statement, NABU said the Supreme Court head was suspected of taking a $2.7-million bribe. The agency’s chief, Semen Kryvonos, told Tuesday’s briefing it was the most high-profile case involving Ukrainian agencies fighting corruption.”

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1658616176023425024

Support

Media Reveal Long-Range Drones Britain to Send to Ukraine, European Pravda reports. “The UK will send hundreds of kamikaze devices to Ukraine to support Kyiv on the battlefield. As The Telegraph reports, the kamikaze drones have a range of more than 125 miles – more than twice as far as the highly successfully HIMARs – and complement the long-range Storm Shadow missiles the UK donated to Ukraine last week. Defence sources conceded that the drones were one-way, adding that they had a primary goal to carry munitions.

They have been rapidly developed and adapted at significantly lower costs than others. They have a comparable effect to an artillery shell, the source claims. […] They will be delivered in the coming months. […]

In February, Sunak pledged that the UK would supply Kyiv with longer-range capabilities that would disrupt Russia’s ability to continually target Ukraine’s civilian and critical national infrastructure and help relieve pressure on Ukraine’s front lines. On Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits the UK (Ukr). The British government announced hundreds of long-range strike drones and anti-aircraft defence missiles to Ukraine.”

US Department of State comments on intentions of some countries to start training Ukrainian pilots, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Vedant Patel, Principal Deputy Spokesperson of the US Department of State, during a briefing. “The US State Department considers the intentions of a range of countries to start training Ukrainian pilots to be an essential process. […] The State Department representative stressed that the aim of Western countries is to do everything possible to ensure that Ukraine has the assets to defend its territorial integrity and sovereignty.

And you have seen a number of countries step up and share systems, train individuals, and we look forward to deepening our partnerships in order to do that and play our role as well, Patel added.

The UK reportedly agreed to start training Ukrainian pilots in the summer and has been working with other countries to provide F-16 fighters to Ukraine. In addition, French President Emmanuel Macron said that following his meeting with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, he had “opened the door” to training pilots from Ukraine, without specifying any details.”

Britain, Netherlands will work on creation of ‘fighter jet coalition’ for Ukraine – Yermak, Ukrinform reports. “UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte have agreed to work on the creation of an international coalition to help supply fighter jets to Ukraine. They stated that at a meeting within the framework of the Council of Europe summit, Andriy Yermak, the head of the Ukrainian President’s Office, announced.

We need F-16s and I thank the allies for the decision to work in this direction, including the training of our pilots. In particular, Belgium has confirmed its willingness to train, Yermak wrote.”

Ukraine wants to receive 40-50 F-16 jets from allies – defence minister adviser, Ukrinform reports. “Ukraine wants between 40 to 50 F-16s in total, forming three or four squadrons to defend its skies from Russian bombardments, Yuriy Sak, adviser to the Minister of Defense of Ukraine, told Politico. Kyiv is telling Western leaders the need for modern jets has become more acute since the Russian Air Force began widespread use of guided glide bombs in March, reaching targets at greater distances. Ukraine currently has nothing to stop the Russian aircraft carrying them, Sak said.

Everybody understands that the topic is ripe for discussion. Nobody said that it’s impossible. If you compared it with three months ago, when we were still struggling to get tanks, today everybody is talking about the jet coalition — that’s a very promising sign, he said. We understand that our air defence will not be complete without fighter jets, F-16s, Sak added.

According to him, President Zelensky wants combat jets at the top of the agenda at the G7 summit in Hiroshima and then again at the annual NATO summit in Lithuania in July. The defence minister adviser said the Ukrainian president received assurances from Western leaders during his latest European tour that they will discuss the issue in the days ahead.

Although Britain, Italy, France and Germany do not have F-16s to offer, Sak said they have an important voice in the international coalition and Ukraine would like them to encourage” allies such as the US and Türkiye.”

Instructors from Lithuania Trained over 1000 Ukrainian Troops, European Pravda reports. “Lithuanian army instructors have already trained over 1000 Ukrainian soldiers and will train at least another 1000 by the end of the year,” wrote Arvydas Anušauskas, the Minister of National Defence of Lithuania, on Twitter.

On May 8, it was reported that the last four-week instructor courses for Ukrainian servicemen were completed in Lithuania. Previously, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda called for providing Ukraine with modern combat aircraft and long-range cruise missiles (Ukr).

Germany’s Hensoldt to produce six radars for Ukraine Army, Ukrinform reports. “Sensor specialist HENSOLDT is supplying six more of its TRML-4D high-performance radars to strengthen Ukraine’s air defenses. That’s according to the company press service. As part of an order worth more than EUR 100 million, the radars will be delivered in the second half of the year following training of the Ukrainian operators. Hensoldt already has several TRML-4D radars under contract for Ukraine as part of the IRIS-T SLM air defence system. […]

TRML-4D uses the latest Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar technology with multiple digitally shaped beams. It is capable of early detection of various types of aerial targets such as aircraft, helicopters and cruise missiles. It ensures the rapid detection and tracking of about 1,500 targets in a radius of up to 250 km.”

South Korea signs $130 mln aid package with Ukrainian minister, Reuters reports. “South Korea signed an agreement with Ukraine on Wednesday on its plan to provide a $130 million financial aid package, a day after the visiting first lady of the war-hit country asked for military assistance. […]

South Korea, a major producer of artillery shells, has said it was not providing lethal weapons to Ukraine, citing its relations with Russia.”

New Developments

  1. Kyiv says it shoots down volley of Russian hypersonic missiles, ReutersUkraine said on Tuesday it had shot down six Russian Kinzhal missiles in a single night, thwarting a weapon Moscow has touted as a next-generation hypersonic missile that was all but unstoppable. It was the first time Ukraine had claimed to have struck an entire volley of multiple Kinzhal missiles, and if confirmed would be a demonstration of the effectiveness of Kyiv’s newly deployed Western air defences.”
  2. Russian State Duma denounces Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Interfax. “The State Duma of Russia voted for the bill about the denunciation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE). […] Andrey Kartapolov, Head of the Defence Committee of the State Duma, claimed on 16 May that the denunciation of the treaty is our [Russia’s – ed.] signal to the West that neither the US not NATO member states are reliable partners to make agreements with, whose stance we take into account.”
  3. S. on blocking grain deal: Putin holds the world’s hungry hostage, Ukrinform reports. “The American diplomat called on Putin to stop the practice of holding the world’s hungry people hostage. He also called for expanding the Black Sea Grain Initiative and ensuring its full implementation. He emphasized that Russia daily obstructs and threatens to suspend the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which raises food prices around the world. This means higher prices for everyone, especially for poor and middle-income countries, as well as for the UN, which also buys food on the world market. The US representative pointed out that Russia has deliberately slowed down the pace of ship inspections and significantly reduced the amount of grain exported from Ukrainian ports for the needs of the most vulnerable countries. Wood said that in recent weeks, the Russian delegation has repeatedly refused to inspect ships at the Joint Coordination Center in Istanbul.”
  4. G7 countries preparing to further isolate Russia, weaken its ability to wage war – White House, Ukrinform reports, citing National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby. “Over the last 15 months, the G7 has stood in solidarity with Ukraine, following Russia’s invasion, rallying the world to support Ukraine and cutting Putin off from the key technologies and financing around the globe, Kirby said. He noted that the level of solidarity with Ukraine is even stronger now than it was last year. You’ll see concrete action to further isolate Russia and weaken its ability to wage its brutal war, Kirby said.”
  5. This war will not end with victory of Russian imperialism – Scholz, net reports. “One day the Russian war will end. One thing is clear: it will not end with the victory of Putin’s imperialism. We will support Ukraine until a just peace is achieved,” Scholz said. One of the main lessons that Europe must learn from Russia’s aggression against the European peace order is “the need to support Ukraine with all its might on its democratic European path: in defending itself against Russian aggression, strengthening its legal institutions, and rebuilding,” he said. Scholz noted that the Council of Europe is important for bringing the occupiers to justice and establishing a mechanism for collecting compensation for the incredible damage caused by the Russian Federation, as well as for launching a register of losses. These issues are one of the central tasks of the current summit.”
  6. Ukrainian Parliament expects Ukraine to receive invitation to NATO with dates at summit in Washington, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Yehor Cherniev, Head of the permanent delegation of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine at NATO Parliamentary Assembly, reported by Interfax-Ukraine. “An invitation with specific dates, I think, is not quite realistic at this particular summit [in Vilnius – ed.]. But I hope that at the next one, which will be held in Washington, this will be… the number one issue. At the same time, Cherniev has noted that it is possible for Ukraine to receive security guarantees at the NATO Summit in Vilnius. […] According to Cherniev, Ukraine wants to hear absolutely clear assurances in Vilnius that the Alliance is waiting for it after the war. We are also asking for a schedule for membership after the war. […] The NATO Summit in Washington will be held in 2024.”
  7. British PM to discuss with European leaders longer term security plans for Ukraine, Ukrinform reports, citing Reuters. “British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced plans to discuss the longer-term security agreements required to support Ukraine when he meets other leaders at the Council of Europe Summit in Iceland. […] As reported earlier, Great Britain will be a key part of the coalition of partners that provides support in building up Ukraine’s Air Force. This was stated by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at a joint briefing with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine.”
  8. Hungary blocks €500 million from fund that provides arms for Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing ANSA. “Hungary has blocked the payment of the eighth package of €500 million from the European Peace Fund for weapons that EU member states are supplying to Ukraine. The €500 million package was due to be allocated next Monday, 22 May, but Budapest has blocked the decision, supposedly demanding guarantees that the European Peace Fund would not be used exclusively for aid to Ukraine in the future. The European Peace Facility is an extrabudgetary instrument with a total of almost €8 billion. Through this fund, the EU supports the Ukrainian Armed Forces in seven successive support packages, as well as many other countries, such as Mozambique, Georgia, Moldova, Mali, Somalia, Niger, Jordan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lebanon and Mauritania.”
  9. Georgia to resume flights to Russia this week, drawing EU and Ukrainian criticism, ReutersGeorgian Airways will resume direct flights to Russia from Saturday, the country’s civil aviation authority said, drawing criticism from Ukraine and the European Union. The move comes after Moscow lifted a flight ban last week in a significant warming of ties with Georgia, with which it has had no formal diplomatic relations since Russia defeated its southern neighbour in a short war in 2008. “The world is isolating Russia to force it to stop the war, but Georgia is welcoming Russian airlines and sending its own to Moscow. All while 20% of Georgian territory remains occupied by Russia with impunity,” Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko said on Twitter. […] Georgia has in recent months tried to balance rapprochement with its giant neighbour and its aspirations to join the EU.”
  10. China calls on foreign embassies in Beijing to remove signs of support for Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Japanese Kyodonews agency. “Many embassies in Beijing have placed [on their buildings – ed.] posters featuring the Ukrainian flag and messages in Chinese and English, such as #StandWithUkraine, to show their solidarity with Ukraine as it fights the Russian invasion. In a message from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 10 May, embassies and international organisations were urged not to use the outer walls of their buildings for propaganda and “avoid conflicts between states”. The move sparked a backlash from diplomats in Europe and elsewhere. None of them removed the signs.”
  11. Ukraine officially joins NATO cybercentre, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing European Pravda and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. Today the National Flag of Ukraine is officially raised at the Headquarters of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn, marking official accession of Ukraine to the CCDCOE the statement reads. […] In early March last year, representatives of 27 NATO member states decided to give Ukraine the status of a member country of the NATO CCDCOE. Before that, Ukraine’s membership was blocked by Hungary. Located in Tallinn, CCDCOE is a NATO-accredited cyber security centre and think tank specialising in interdisciplinary applied research, analysis, information exchange, and cyber defence training and exercises.”

Assessment 

https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-may-16-2023*

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of  May 16, 2022:

Russian forces continued limited assaults along the Svatove-Kreminna line on May 16. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted offensive operations in the vicinity of Masyutivka (about 13km northeast of Kupyansk) and Novoselivske (about 16km northwest of Svatove).[37] Russian milbloggers continued to claim that unspecified elements of the 6th Combined Arms Army (Western Military District) captured Masyutivka and pushed Ukrainian forces across the western bank of the Oskil River on May 15. Geolocated Russian footage published on May 15 showed Russian drones striking Ukrainian positions east of Masyutivka. Former Luhansk Oblast Administration Head Serhiy Haidai stated that Russians have not achieved significant advances in the Kupyansk direction. A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces unsuccessfully attacked Ukrainian positions in Synkivka (about 7km northeast of Kupyansk).

Russian forces are reportedly deploying additional manpower and equipment from Belarus to reinforce their positions in Luhansk Oblast. Independent monitoring organization The Belarusian Hajun Project reported the deployment of military cargo from Brest Oblast, Belarus, in the direction of Luhansk Oblast on May 14. The Hajun Project reported that the train is transferring about 40 pieces of military equipment and at least 200 servicemen to Gukovo station in Rostov Oblast, Russia, which is about 4km east of occupied Luhansk Oblast. The Ukrainian General Staff and Haidai confirmed that Russian forces began to redeploy additional trained forces from Belarus. Haidai added that most of the arriving personnel are newly-mobilized forces or convicts and are deploying to the Kreminna and Svatove areas.

Russian forces continued unsuccessful offensive operations in the Kreminna-Lyman direction on May 16. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian assaults on Bilohorivka (about 13km south of Kreminna). A Russian milblogger published footage purportedly showing elements of the 20th Combined Arms Army (Western Military District) striking Ukrainian forces with a drone on the road between Terny and Novosadove, both within 17km northwest of Kreminna. 

Russian forces have made marginal gains within Bakhmut as of May 16. Geolocated footage published on May 15 indicates that Russian forces likely made marginal gains in southwestern Bakhmut along the road that leads to Khromove (immediately west of Bakhmut). Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed on May 15 that Wagner fighters advanced 220m in Bakhmut and that Ukrainian forces currently control 1.59 square kilometers of the city. Russian sources claimed on May 15 and 16 that Wagner fighters have cleared several remaining contested areas in western Bakhmut and control at least half of these areas. A prominent Russian milblogger claimed that Wagner fighters will likely announce that they have cut the route from Bakhmut to Khromove by May 17. Russian sources claimed that Russian forces unsuccessfully attempted to regain lost positions near Bohdanivka (6km northwest of Bakhmut) and Hryhorivka (9km northwest of Bakhmut) on May 15 and 16. The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed that Russian aviation units destroyed an overpass near Ivanivske (6km west of Bakhmut), and Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces used the bridge to transfer supplies and reinforcements along the T0504 into Bakhmut. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces continued offensive operations in Bakhmut and conducted unsuccessful offensive operations near Ivanivske.

Russian forces continued limited offensive operations along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City front on May 16. Geolocated footage published on May 15 indicates that Russian forces likely made marginal advances within Marinka (27km southwest of Avdiivka). Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) Head Denis Pushilin claimed on May 16 that Russian forces are advancing near Pervomaiske (11km southwest of Avdiivka) and Avdiivka, where Russian forces are allegedly “within walking distance” of the Avdiivka Coke Chemical Plant in the northern outskirts of the settlement. ISW has not observed visual confirmation of recent Russian gains in either of these areas. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations near Avdiivka and Marinka.

A Russian milblogger claimed on May 16 that Ukrainian forces regained lost positions near Kruta Balka (4km northeast of Avdiivka) along the H-20 (Donetsk City-Kostyatynivka) highway. ISW has not observed visual confirmation of recent Ukrainian gains in the Avdiivka area and continues to assess that reports of Ukrainian counterattacks in the area are a part of an ongoing pattern of limited and localized Ukrainian counterattacks.

Russian forces did not conduct any confirmed ground attacks in western Donetsk Oblast on May 16.

Russian forces have likely committed to reinforcing their tactical offensive effort in the Bakhmut area despite Ukraine’s apparent focus on limited and localized counterattacks. Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) Head Denis Pushilin claimed on May 16 that Russian forces have strengthened their forces in the Bakhmut area to stabilize the situation, and a prominent Russian milblogger claimed that four unspecified Russian battalions have deployed to the flanks around Bakhmut to prevent Ukrainian breakthroughs. Russian claims about Russian reinforcements are consistent with Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar’s May 15 statement that Russian forces are deploying additional airborne (VDV) forces to defend Bakhmut’s flanks, presumably from other areas of the front. Russian forces have continued to make marginal gains within Bakhmut itself as of May 16, and the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) continues to claim that Russian forces around Bakhmut are focused on repelling Ukrainian counterattacks. The Russian MoD claimed on May 16 that elements of the 4th Motorized Rifle Brigade (2nd Luhansk People’s Republic Army Corps) repelled 10 Ukrainian counterattacks near Ivanivske (6km west of Bakhmut).

Ukrainian military officials continue to indicate that Ukraine is pursuing much more limited operations in the Bakhmut area than Russian forces, who appear to be committed to Bakhmut as a renewed main effort. Malyar stated on May 16 that while Ukrainian forces have liberated roughly 20 square kilometers of territory in recent days, Russian forces are continuing to make marginal gains within Bakhmut. Ukrainian Eastern Grouping of Forces Commander Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi stated that Ukrainian forces are continuing to use the concept of “active defense” in conducting counterattacks in unspecified areas near Bakhmut.[6] Ukrainian Eastern Grouping of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Serhiy Cherevaty reiterated that the main objective of the Ukrainian defensive operation in the Bakhmut area is to exhaust Russian forces in the area. ISW has geolocated footage published on May 16 of Ukrainian positions in southwestern Bakhmut that suggests that Ukrainian forces have recently made limited gains in the city itself. Geolocated footage published on May 16 indicates that Ukrainian forces made marginal gains east of Orikhovo-Vasylivka (11km northwest of Bakhmut), although ISW has not observed any further Ukrainian gains around Bakhmut as of May 16.

The reported Russian reinforcements to the Bakhmut area suggest that Russian forces are continuing to concentrate offensive capabilities there despite an assessed wider effort to reprioritize operations to prepare for potential Ukrainian counteroffensives. Russian forces have also recently transferred elements of the 6th Guards Motorized Rifle Division (20th Guards Combined Arms Army, Western Military District) to an unspecified area north of Bakhmut, likely from positions along the Svatove-Kupyansk line. The movement of Russian forces from other sectors of the front to the Bakhmut area is likely a response to persisting Russian concerns about the stability of frontlines in the area amid Wagner Group’s continued degradation in the offensive to capture Bakhmut. These concerns were likely more pronounced in recent days that saw limited Ukrainian gains around Bakhmut and may have prompted further Russian concentration on the tactical offensive effort in the area. The reinforcements are also likely meant to enhance Wagner’s ability to capture the remainder of Bakhmut rapidly and present a Russian tactical victory before possible setbacks during a Ukrainian counteroffensive operation. ISW assesses that the Russian military command likely decided to reprioritize operations and sustainment efforts in recent weeks to prepare for potential Ukrainian counteroffensive operations, although the continued concentration on Bakhmut may suggest that immediate tactical concerns could be undermining the larger effort.

Russia conducted another large-scale drone and missile strike on the night of May 15 to 16. Ukrainian sources reported that Russian forces launched six Kh-47 Kinzhal air-launched ballistic missiles from six MiG-31K aircraft at Kyiv, as well as nine Kalibr cruise missiles and 10 land-based S-400 and Iskander-M missiles at other rear areas of Ukraine. Ukrainian air defense shot down all missiles, including all six Kinzhals (repeatedly touted by Russian forces as unstoppable) and nine total drones, including six Shahed-131/136s. It is unclear which systems Ukrainian forces used to shoot down the Kinzhals, but Ukrainian officials previously attributed the defeat of a Kinzhal missile to US-provided Patriot air defense system on May 4. Ukrainian Joint Forces Commander Lieutenant General Serhiy Nayev noted that the missile strike on Kyiv is the eighth in the month of May alone. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) notably claimed that one of the Kinzhals struck a Patriot air defense system in Kyiv. An unidentified US defense official told CNN that the Patriot system has likely suffered damage but has not been destroyed and that the US is still assessing the extent of the damage.

Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin attempted to downplay his reported cooperation with Ukrainian intelligence on May 15. Prigozhin responded to a media inquiry about leaked US intelligence report published in The Washington Post that revealed that he attempted to disclose positions of Russian conventional forces to Ukrainian intelligence in exchange for Ukraine’s withdrawal from Bakhmut. Prigozhin stated that ”in any war exchanges are made, and this is not a secret for the warring parties” in an attempt to downplay his reported connections with the Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR). Prigozhin argued that information about troop positions is ”not secretive at all” in modern warfare due to the use of satellite imagery. Prigozhin also paradoxically attempted to deny the validity of the leaked US intelligence documents, claiming that a junior US officer would have not had access to such secret documents. GUR Spokesperson Andriy Yusov stated that Ukraine will not comment on the leaked document.

The Wagner Group’s continued glorification and normalization of violence is evident in a widely circulated video purportedly showing a killed American volunteer in Bakhmut. A Wagner Group-affiliated Telegram channel posted footage on May 16 of Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin and former Russian Deputy Minister of Defense for Logistics-turned-Wagner-Group-deputy-commander Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev showing the documents and body of an American volunteer serving with the Ukrainian military. Prigozhin claimed that he would give the body to US authorities because he likely died a worthy death in war. Prigozhin’s video emphasizes Wagner’s continual promotion of brutality and glorification of war, as the video appeared to showcase Wagner gloating over the death of an American and amplified the graphic nature of his death. ISW previously reported on Wagner’s promotion of violence through the use of widely-shared graphic video footage. A US State Department spokesperson stated that the State Department is ”aware of the reports” and ”seeking additional information.”

Russia and Iran continue efforts to strengthen bilateral military-economic cooperation. Iranian state-run news agency IRNA reported on May 16 that Iranian Ambassador to Russia Kazem Jalali announced that Russia and Iran will sign an agreement on the construction of the Rasht-Astara railway line during Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak’s visit to Tehran on May 16 and 17. This agreement will reportedly advance the completion of Iran’s North-South corridor project by completing a 162km link between the Iranian cities of Rasht and Astara and will create a connection between St. Petersburg and the Persian Gulf. The completion of this sector has been a long-standing Iranian line of effort, partially aimed at strengthening Iran‘s domestic economy and facilitating sanctions evasion efforts. Both Russia and Iran are taking additional steps to further bilateral military cooperation. The White House reported on May 15 that Russia seeks to buy additional drones from Iran after having used most of the 400 Iranian drones purchased since August 2022 in attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure. Iranian media also reported on May 13 that Iran will receive its first shipment of Russian Su-35 multi-role fighter aircraft in the coming week. Moscow will likely continue to pursue mutually beneficial military-economic programs in order to ensure continued Iranian material support for Russian operations in Ukraine.

The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) proposed a draft regulatory act that would allow FSB officers to conduct searches without a court order, likely to support the Kremlin’s ongoing efforts to strengthen domestic repression. The draft regulatory legal act would allow FSB officers to conduct operational search activities not associated with an ongoing criminal case without a court order in instances “that are urgent and may lead to the commission of a serious …crime.” FSB officers would also be allowed to conduct searches without court orders in connection with ”events or actions that pose a threat to the state, military, economic, information, or environmental security of Russia.” ISW has previously assessed that the FSB appears to be currently conducting an overhaul of domestic security organs, and the new regulatory act is likely meant to augment these efforts. The Kremlin has recently supported laws strengthening punishments for trespassing at facilities run by certain federal bodies, for the misappropriation of Russian military assets, and for the discreditation of all Russian personnel fighting in Ukraine to expand pretexts for the arrests of Russian citizens and the removal of officials who have fallen out of favor. The FSB’s involvement in ongoing overhauls and the increasingly broad regulations to conduct searches suggest that the Kremlin is preparing for the FSB to be the internal security organ that would conduct a wider domestic crackdown.

Russian forces reportedly shut down another Ukrainian evangelical Christian church in Mariupol likely as part of a wider systematic religious persecution campaign in occupied Ukraine. Ukrainian Mariupol Mayoral Advisor Petro Andryushchenko reported that Russian forces seized the Ukrainian Christian Evangelical Church of the Holy Trinity in Mariupol and are using the church to house 10 to 30 Russian servicemen. ISW reported on April 9 that Protestants suffered two-thirds of all of the reported religious repression events in occupied Mariupol. ISW identified that Russian occupation officials most commonly persecute members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and Protestants, particularly evangelical Baptists.[36]

Key Takeaways

  • Russian forces have likely committed to reinforcing their tactical offensive effort in the Bakhmut area despite Ukraine’s apparent focus on limited and localized counterattacks.
  • The reported Russian reinforcements to the Bakhmut area suggest that Russian forces are continuing to concentrate offensive capabilities there despite an assessed wider effort to reprioritize operations to prepare for potential Ukrainian counteroffensives.
  • Russia conducted another large-scale drone and missile strike on the night of May 15 to 16.
  • Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin attempted to downplay his reported cooperation with Ukrainian intelligence on May 15.
  • The Wagner Group’s continued glorification and normalization of violence is evident in a widely circulated video purportedly showing a killed American volunteer in Bakhmut.
  • Russia and Iran continue efforts to strengthen bilateral military-economic cooperation.
  • The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) proposed a draft regulatory act that would allow FSB officers to conduct searches without a court order, likely to support the Kremlin’s ongoing efforts to strengthen domestic repression.
  • Russian forces reportedly shut down another Ukrainian evangelical Christian church in Mariupol likely as part of a systematic religious persecution campaign in occupied Ukraine.
  • Russian forces are reportedly deploying additional manpower and equipment from Belarus to reinforce their positions in Luhansk Oblast.
  • Russian forces continued unsuccessful offensive operations along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kremmina line.
  • Russian forces have made marginal gains within Bakhmut as of May 16 and continued limited ground attacks along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line.
  • Russian forces are continuing to panic about maintaining their positions in the east (left) bank Kherson Oblast ahead of anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensives.
  • The Kremlin continues to pass legislation that provides benefits to participants of the war and their families in order to incentivize military service.

Russian authorities continue efforts to consolidate the economic subordination of occupied areas of Ukraine into the Russian economy.

Russia’s offensive potential “exhausted” – Ukraine’s Defence Intelligence, Ukrinform reports. “Russia’s potential for offensive action has already been completely exhausted, while defensive capabilities remain strong. That’s according to the chief of [Defence Intelligence of Ukraine], Major General Kyrylo Budanov, who spoke in an interview with the ‘Rizni Liudy’ show.

(Russia’s offensive potential – ed.) is completely exhausted, they now have a serious potential for defence. It’s true. They built an echeloned, correct, and powerful defence. But this is no longer the Russian army that could run serious offensive operations, said Budanov.

He noted that Russia directly involves in hostilities on the territory of Ukraine a nearly 370,000-strong military force as well as approximately 20,000 National Guardsmen, and about 7,000 members of various paramilitary formations.

As Ukrinform reported earlier, military intelligence spokesman Andriy Yusov stated that Russia was shifting to the defensive along the entire front line, adding that the enemy is currently incapable of undertaking large-scale offensive efforts.”

Most of Prigozhin’s words “pure truth,” Ukraine’s intel chief says, Ukrinform reports, citing the head of DIU, Major General Kyrylo Budanov, in an interview with the ‘Rizni Liudy’ show. “The most terrible thing is that what Prigozhin says is mostly true. There are some things that cannot even be said to be false – they can simply be perceived in two ways, but 80 percent of what he says is pure truth, said the head of [DIU].

According to Budanov, Wagner Group has been performing with maximum efficiency, in contrast to the Russian regular forces. This is also true. And against this background, the existing conflicts intensified even more. And the fact that Prigozhin now says that there are no rounds, that there’s no support, is, to a certain extent, due to envy of the military leadership, which is now represented by (defense minister Sergei – ed.) Shoigu and chief of General Staff Valeriy – ed.) Gerasimov, said Budanov.”

Ukrainian army revamps commercial drones to attack Russian tanks, trenches, Reuters reports. “Drones have been used extensively by both Moscow and Kyiv’s forces since Russia invaded Ukraine in February last year. Ukraine has said it is expanding its drone programme for both reconnaissance and attacking enemy targets in order to narrow the gap between its military capabilities and those of Russia.

The soldier said that Ukraine had invested hugely in drone technology. It’s better to make effective use of technical resources instead of people. That’s why the Ukrainian Armed Forces are developing very, very quickly in this direction, he said. The 35th Marine Brigade’s soldiers showed off small commercial drones with four rotors that buzzed around as they were flown by soldiers using handsets. Our team has decided to use civilian drones, re-make them in order to destroy the enemy. They are easy to get hold of, easy to fit for purpose, Kakrurt said.

Another soldier, with the call sign Reshik, predicted Ukraine would make broad use of drones that fly to their target before detonating when it starts its much-anticipated counter-offensive in the coming weeks. Kamikaze drones will play a huge role in the counteroffensive in attacking trenches where the enemy seeks shelter and in killing the enemy, he said.

The first soldier said the drones were not vulnerable to Russian jamming systems that use satellites, and that they were airborne for such a short period of time before detonating that radio electronic interference was also ineffective. Even for the radio electronic interference there is simply not enough time to start, start working and interfere with the frequencies we work on, he said.”

Russia’s malign operations similar to Baltic Platform “systematic” – Lithuanian MEP, Ukrinform reports, citing Petras Auštrevičius, Member of the European Parliament (Lithuania), a member of the committee on countering foreign interference in the EU affairs, including disinformation, and Guildhall. “The classic operation (“Baltic Platform” — ed.) on infiltration (of the Russian Federation agencies in Western societies — ed.) and the shaping of public opinion – nothing new. In the Russian Federation, there are many such platforms for each region and different topics. They are very sophisticated in this regard. They have platforms on the issues of the Black Sea, on Scandinavia, on the Balkans, and so on. The latest example of the Baltic Platform only shows that Russians are very active now, taking a proactive position, they shape public opinion, build their own ‘circles of connections,’ and then influence political decisions, said MEP.

We must expose such operations and squeeze Russia out of any dialogues. We need a ‘zero contact’ policy, as there is no benefit from such contacts with the Russians today, Petras Auštrevičius  concluded.

On April 27, the German publications WDR, NDR and Süddeutsche Zeitung released a complex investigation into Russia’s attempt to conduct a malign influence operation, based on Stockholm University and a former high-ranking Swedish diplomat, under the guise of “saving the environment” of the Baltic Sea. The parliaments of Sweden, Estonia and Lithuania also reacted to the Russian operation.

A member of the Swedish Parliament (Riksdag) with the coalition’s Christian Democratic Party, Magnus Jacobsson, said Russia was systematically running special operations against Sweden and NATO, and that the Baltic Platform project is just one of the examples. It is necessary to counter Russia’s multidirectional subversive activity, he noted. […]

As Ukrinform reported earlier, the Baltic Platform project, featured in the investigation of Germany’s WDR, NDR, and Süddeutsche Zeitung, is aimed at achieving the strategic goal of weakening NATO, including in the Baltic region. The Center for Defense Reforms, citing its own sources, published a list of experts from NATO and EU countries that the Russian Federation planned to use as part of the Baltic Platform operation.”

  1. Consequences and what to do?

Ukraine may need $250B for recovery – EBRD, Ukrinform reports, citing EBRD. “The latest report of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) “Regional Economic Prospects” sets out a scenario that demonstrates, based on the lessons of history, that the five-year recovery period will require additional investments of about USD 50 billion per year due to the inflow of foreign capital, including private capital, the report says.

It is noted that most economies that emerge from armed conflict neither experience a sustained period of peace for 25 years afterwards nor do they recover to pre-war levels of per capita income, even in the long run. But the report finds that 29% of economies do reach pre-war GDP per capita levels within five years. This study combines the common features of successful reconstruction that could guide Ukraine and extrapolates pre-war trends based on the performance of economies similar to those during the war.

For Ukraine to recover within five years, its economy would have to grow by 14% per year for the entire period. This would raise average GDP to USD 225 billion from about USD 150 billion in 2022 at constant prices. The main feature that is common to periods of sustained extremely high economic growth is a high investment-to-GDP ratio.

Prior to Russia’s war, moderate investment in Ukraine was largely financed by domestic savings. Capital inflows amounted to only 3% of GDP per year in 2010-2021. Foreign direct investment tends to drop significantly after a war and takes a long time to recover. When domestic savings were low, foreign financing helped fuel a number of investment booms, notably in Central and Southeastern Europe in the 2000s.

In the case of Ukraine, doubling the level of investment (as a share of GDP) would require a significant increase in the country’s absorptive capacity, as well as the governance structure needed to develop complex projects. It would also require adequate financing. In this scenario, the difference between the required level of investment and available domestic savings would likely need to be covered by external financing (net capital inflows) of 20% of GDP or USD 50 billion per year, the report said.

The report of EBRD, the largest institutional investor in Ukraine, also emphasizes the importance of an appropriate balance of private and public sector involvement in previous post-war reconstruction, along with the important role of external assistance from bilateral and multilateral institutions. Private and public investments tend to be complementary, in post-war situations and in general. In addition to financing, the private sector provides much-needed technological expertise, management know-how, and a focus on cost-effectiveness,” the document comments.”

Hans Petter Midttun: Norway is today celebrating its Constitution Day and in essence, Norwegian independence and sovereignty. Ukraine helps us remember the crucial importance of protecting our sovereignty and independence and not least, the horrific costs of taking either for granted.

Our investment in security and defence has for years been linked to the perception of threats, risks, and an “enemy at the gate”. In the absence of either, we have – along with most other European countries – for decades failed to uphold the Armed Forces needed to deter aggressions.

The truth is that security and defence have never been linked to either threats, risks, or a clear and present enemy. It is based on what we are and what we have.

If we have something someone else would like to have, we need to protect it.

That is one of the lessons from Ukraine. It is a country rich in minerals, gas, oil, black soil and agricultural areas, culture, history, knowledge, and know-how, and not least, Europe’s bravest, most resilient, and generous people.

Ukraine has something its imperialistic neighbour wants. Russia wants it all. It wants all of Ukraine and more.

Russia made the strategic blunder of invading Ukraine after eight years of warfare, failing to understand that Ukraine had used the eight years to prepare for the invasion it knew was coming.

The Russian Federation is paying a tremendous cost for its miscalculation. It has become an international pariah, isolated and in part, contained. In the wake of its invasion of Ukraine, Russia was at the off end of February the most-sanctioned country in the world, with 14,081 sanctions on Russian individuals and entities currently in place. It is five times the number of sanctions in place before it started the full-scale invasion. Russia’s economy is starting to come undone, the WSJ reports.

Russia’s government revenue is being squeezed and its economy has shifted to a lower-growth trajectory, likely for the long term. The country’s biggest exports, gas and oil, have lost major customers. Government finances are strained. The ruble is down over 20% since November against the dollar. The labour force has shrunk as young people are sent to the front or flee the country over fears of being drafted. Uncertainty has curbed business investment.”

More importantly, the world’s second strongest military power is no longer that: The world’s second strongest military power.

It has lost a greater part of its land forces (while having preserved most of its Air and Maritime Power). On 23 February 2022, the Russian land forces consisted of professional soldiers that had been regularly exercised, aiming to conduct complex, joint operations. It was well equipped with what was generally seen as modern heavy weapons. According to the UK Defence Intelligence, it now consists of mostly poorly trained mobilised reservists and is increasingly reliant on antiquated equipment. Most of its units are severely under-strength and are unable to execute complex, large-scale offensives.

The Russian Land Forces are presently unlikely to effectively deliver large-scale military effects along the 1,200 km front line under stress.

Based on Ukrainian reports, a staggering 200,590 Russian soldiers are killed in action. That means a further 340-400,000 have been wounded in action of which 65% will never be able to return to military service due to the injuries sustained. Ukraine has in effect destroyed the initial invasion force three times over (or 60-66% of the Russian Armed Forces as of 23 February 2022).

Western estimates have always been more conservative than the Ukrainian. Based on past and recent assessments, however, the West estimates the total Russian casualties to be around 260,000-280,000. While lower, the numbers are still the highest since World War 2.

Russia has lost between 9,500 (Oryx) and 22,285 (UKR) heavy weapons, aircraft, helicopters and equipment. Additionally, 2780 of its tactical and operational UAVs have been downed. It is increasingly operating obsolete main battle tanks and armoured vehicles.

Continuing to fight an increasingly stronger and more capable Ukrainian Armed Forces makes no sense whatsoever unless:

  • The outcome of the war is decided elsewhere: A protracted hybrid war undermining the economic viability of Ukraine and Western coherence.
  • Russia is running out of options as the regime cannot survive being defeated by Ukraine (while it might, hypothetically, “accept” a withdrawal while facing a NATO intervention in Ukraine).

As Ukrainian men and women are fighting for not only their right to exist as a nation, but also for European security and stability, I would, therefore, like to stress that we have something someone else would like to have, and we need to protect it. We must acknowledge that Ukraine’s fight for its sovereignty and independence is also our fight.

We can and must do more until Russia understand the utter futility of continuing its unjust and unprovoked war.

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