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Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 462: Drones attack Moscow

Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 462: Drones attack Moscow

Drones attack Moscow. Drones attack oil refinery in Russia’s Krasnodar Krai. 29 out of 31 Shahid drones destroyed in Ukraine.

Daily overview — Summary report, May 31

Source: War Mapper.

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 18.00 pm, May 31, 2023 is in the dropdown menu below:

Situation in Ukraine. May 30, 2023. Source: ISW.


The Russian Federation, suffering heavy losses, continues to wage a war of aggression. He continues to use terror tactics, trying to intimidate the population of Ukraine, striking and attacking not only military but also civilian objects.

[On May 30th, the Russian Federation carried out another massive airstrike on the territory of Ukraine, in particular, on the capital of our country, using the “Shahed-136/131” strike UAVs. 29x out of 31x drones were destroyed by our defenders. Unfortunately, there are victims among the civilian population, private houses, and other civil and administrative infrastructure have been damaged.]

In general, during the past day, the enemy launched 64 airstrikes and 1 missile strike and carried out 88 attacks from rocket salvo systems.

The probability of launching missile and air strikes throughout the territory of Ukraine remains high.

The enemy continues to focus its main efforts on attempts to completely occupy the Luhansk and Donetsk regions. During the past day, units of the defence forces repelled 22 enemy attacks.

  • Volyn’ and Polissya axes: The operational situation has not changed much.
Luhansk Battle Map. May 30, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Sivershchyna and Slobozhanshchyna axes: the enemy made an unsuccessful attempt to infiltrate a sabotage and intelligence group across the State Border of Ukraine in the area of Zelene settlement of Kharkiv region. He also carried out an airstrike in the area of the village of Udy. He carried out mortar and artillery shelling of the settlements of Khrinivka, Karpovychi, Yanzhulivka, Leonivka, Chernihiv region; Seredyna-Buda, Fotovizh, Atynske, Uhroidy, Velika Pysarivka of the Sumy region.
  • Kupiansk axis: the enemy conducted unsuccessful offensives west of Masyutivka in the Kharkiv region and the direction of Novoselivskyi in the Luhansk region. He carried out airstrikes in the districts of Kotlyarivka of Kharkiv and Stelmakhivka of Luhansk regions. Kamianka, Novomlynsk, Dvorichna, Zapadne, Kislivka, Kotlyarivka, and Berestov in the Kharkiv region were subjected to artillery and mortar attacks.
Donetsk Battle Map. May 30, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Lyman axis: the enemy carried out offensive actions south of Kuzmyny, without success. He carried out airstrikes in the areas of Belogorivka, Luhansk region, and Yampolivka, Donetsk region. Nevske, Belogorivka, Luhansk region, and Spirne, Donetsk region, were hit by artillery fire.
Bakhmut Battle Map. May 30, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Bakhmut axis: the enemy did not conduct offensive operations on 30 May. He carried out an airstrike in the Vesely area and a missile strike in the New York area of the Donetsk region. Orikhovo-Vasylivka, Bohdanivka, Khromov, Ivanivske, Bila Gora, Severnye, Zalizne and New York of the Donetsk region suffered from enemy artillery shelling.
  • Avdiivka axis: the enemy carried out offensive actions in the northern direction, without success. Carried out airstrikes near Avdiivka. He carried out artillery fire on the settlements of Avdiivka, Orlivka, Pervomaiske, and Netaylovo in the Donetsk region.
  • Marinka axis: our defenders repelled all enemy attacks in the area of the city of Marinka, as well as in the direction of the settlements of Pobieda and Novomykhailivka. At the same time, the enemy carried out an airstrike within the Mariinka settlement, Georgiivka and Pobeda of the Donetsk region were subjected to artillery fire.
  • Shakhtarske axis: the enemy launched airstrikes in Vodyanyi, Prechistivka, and Velikay Novosilka areas. He shelled the settlements of Vugledar, Novoukrainka, Prechistivka, Zolota Niva, and Shakhtarske.
Zaporizhzhia Battle Map. May 30, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Zaporizhzhia and Kherson axes: The enemy continues to conduct defensive He carried out an airstrike in the Orikhov region of the Zaporizhzhia region. Shelled the settlements of Zelene Pole, Novopil, and Temyrivka in the Donetsk region; Olhivske, Gulyaipole, Mala Tokmachka, Novodanilivka, Orihiv, Novoandriivka and Stepove of the Zaporizhzhia region; Sadov, Komysany, Kizomys of the Kherson region, Kherson, as well as the city of Ochakiv of the Mykolaiv region.
Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. May 30, 2023. Source ISW.

In the temporarily occupied Yalta Autonomous Republic of Crimea, the Russian occupation authorities are illegally seizing real estate from Ukrainian citizens who did not accept Russian citizenship during the occupation of the peninsula. Servicemen of the Russian occupying forces move into such settlements.

The invaders continue to impose Russian citizenship on the population in various ways. In particular, in Stanytsia Luhanska, employees of one of the budget institutions were warned that in June, only those who have re-registered at a Russian bank will be able to receive their salary.

Over the past day, the Ukrainian Air Force has carried out 11 strikes on areas where the enemy’s personnel and military equipment are concentrated, as well as a strike on its anti-aircraft missile complex.

During the past day, our defenders destroyed 32 attack UAVs of the “Shahed” type.

Ukrainian missile and artillery units hit 3 control points, the area of concentration of enemy manpower, 4 artillery units in a firing position, an anti-aircraft missile complex, 3 warehouses of fuel and lubricants, and a radio-electronic warfare station.

Military Updates

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst.

Ukraine war comes to Moscow as drones strike both capitals, Reuters reports. “Ukrainian drones struck wealthy districts of Moscow on Tuesday, Russia said in what one politician called the most dangerous attack on the capital since World War Two, while Kyiv was also hit from the air for the third time in 24 hours. Since Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into its neighbour in February 2022, the war has largely been fought inside Ukraine. Aerial strikes on targets far from the front have intensified amid a ragged stalemate on the ground with Russian forces entrenched along an extended line in Ukraine’s east and south. […]

Commenting on the early Tuesday morning air attacks in Moscow, the defence ministry said eight drones sent by Ukraine and targeting civilians were shot down or diverted with electronic jammers, though Baza, a Telegram channel with links to the security services, said there were more than 25.

Mykhailo Podoliak, a Ukrainian presidential aide, denied Kyiv was directly involved but said we are pleased to watch events and forecast more such strikes.

Two people were injured while some apartment blocks were briefly evacuated, according to Moscow’s mayor. […] The drones targeted some of Moscow’s most prestigious districts including where Russian President Vladimir Putin and the elite have residences. He was later in the Kremlin and received a briefing on the attack, a spokesman said.

Putin later said Ukraine’s biggest drone strike on Moscow was an attempt to frighten and provoke Russia, and that air defences around the capital would be strengthened.

Civilian targets in Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities have since the earliest days of the war been struck repeatedly by Russian drones and missiles. But Tuesday marked only the second time Moscow had come under direct fire.

In Washington, the White House said it was still gathering information on the reports of drones striking in Moscow. “We do not support attacks inside of Russia. That’s it. Period,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at a briefing. […]

Russian lawmaker Maxim Ivanov called it the most serious assault on Moscow since Nazi Germany’s invasion in World War Two, saying no Russian could now avoid the new reality. Russian state television gave the attacks calm coverage, and many Muscovites shrugged them off. Olga, who said she lived near to the site of one of the drone collisions on Profsoyuznaya Street, called the strikes logical, to be expected … what else were we waiting for? […]

Ukraine said four people died around the country in Russia’s latest attacks, with 34 wounded including two children. Ukrainian air defence shot down 29 of 31 Iranian-made Shahed drones in Kyiv, the armed forces general staff said. […] Russia has assaulted Kyiv 17 times in May with drones or missiles, mostly at night.”

Drones attack oil refinery in Russia’s Krasnodar Krai, Ukrinform reports, citing the Russian regional governor Venyamin Kondratyev. “Drones attacked the Afipsky oil refinery in the Krasnodar Krai, Russia, in the early hours of Wednesday, May 31. One of the fuel oil distillation units caught fire. According to preliminary reports, the refinery was hit by drones. The fire broke out on an area of 100 square meters. The blaze was put out.”

29 out of 31 “Shahed” unmanned aerial vehicles destroyed on night of 30 May, Ukrainian General Staff reports. “On the night of May 30, 2023, from 11:30 p.m. to 4:30 a.m., Russian occupation forces will once again attack Ukraine with Iranian attack drones “Shahed-136/131”. In total, 31 kamikaze drone launches were recorded from the north and south.

The forces and means of the Air Force, in cooperation with the air defence of other components of the Defence Forces of Ukraine, destroyed 29 attack UAVs. Almost all drones were hit on the approaches to the capital and in the sky of Kyiv.

Russian Volunteer Corps said they penetrated Russia again, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing RVC on Telegram. “Yesterday, the Russian border guards celebrated their professional holiday. RVC fighters congratulated them on another successful crossing of the ‘leaky’ state border. Representatives of RVC clarified that the purpose of crossing the border will become known in the near future.

On 22 May, Russian Volunteer Corps (RVC) and the Freedom of Russia Legion (FRL), in which Russians are fighting for Ukraine, announced their liberation of several settlements in Belgorod Oblast of the Russian Federation from Putin’s regime.”

25 to 32 drones attack Moscow: 2 buildings damaged, people evacuated, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing RIA Novosti, a Kremlin-aligned Russian news outlet; the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation on TelegramMeduza, a Latvia-based Russian independent news outlet, referring to various Telegram channels; Russia’s Defence Ministry on Telegram .”According to various reports, 25 to 32 drones attacked Moscow on the night of 29-30 May, damaging at least two multi-storey residential buildings, and most of the drones were reportedly shot down near the Russian capital.

Investigators from the Investigative Committee are looking into the crash of unmanned aerial vehicles into buildings in Moscow. A number of buildings in Moscow have been damaged by UAVs that crashed into them. In addition, a number of unmanned aerial vehicles were shot down by Russian air defence forces on their approach to Moscow. […]

It is reported that most of them were allegedly shot down by air defence forces in the Moscow district, and some drones allegedly hit trees and wires because they were flying at extremely low altitude

UAV attack on Moscow is Kyiv’s response to “strike on decision-making center” on May 28, – Peskov, reports, RIA Novosti. “Today’s attack by Ukrainian drones is a response by the Kyiv regime to the effective strikes on one of the decision-making centers on Sunday, he said. According to Peskov, Russian dictator Putin received information on the situation with the drone attack from the Ministry of Defence, the Emergency Situations Ministry, the leadership of Moscow and Moscow Region in a live mode. The president is not planning any special appeals to citizens about what happened, he added.

On the night of 28 May 2023, the enemy attacked Ukraine with Iranian “Shahed-136/131” attack drones from the northern direction – Bryansk region – and the southern direction – Krasnodar region. In total, a record number of 54 kamikaze drones were launched.”

Melitopol mayor reports explosions in occupied city, Ukrinform reports, citing the mayor of Melitopol, Ivan Fedorov. “Explosions rocked the temporarily occupied city of Melitopol on Tuesday, May 30. Residents can see black smoke at the western exit from Melitopol – in the area of the Avtokoliorlyt factory captured by the occupiers, which the enemy turned into a military base, the post reads.”

During day, Russians did not advance in any of directions, Armed Forces control southwestern outskirts of Bakhmut, – Maliar reports, citing  Deputy Minister of Defence Hanna Maliar. “During the day, the enemy did not advance in any of the directions on which he was attacking, the message reads. According to her, the situation is stable on the border with Belarus, and the enemy continues to maintain a military presence on the border with the Russian Federation. It carries out mortar and artillery attacks, carries out airstrikes.

The South. The enemy is on the defensive. The East is the epicenter of hostilities. The enemy does not abandon the goal of capturing Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The intensity of the enemy’s offensive actions during the day has been somewhat reduced. Instead, the intensity of artillery fire and airstrikes remains.

In three directions out of six during the day, the enemy did not carry out offensive actions. It is about – Lyman, Avdiivka, Shakhtarsk. In the Kupiansk direction, the enemy is conducting unsuccessful offensive actions. In the Mariinka direction, our defenders repelled 12 enemy attacks in the area of the city of Mariinka during the day. The enemy is not currently conducting offensive operations in the Bakhmut direction.
However, it continues shelling and carries out airstrikes. The replacement and regrouping of enemy troops is also underway in this direction, the Deputy Minister of Defence noted. Maliar added that the Defence Forces control the southwestern outskirts of Bakhmut. In the north and south of the suburbs of Bakhmut, the movement of our troops was suspended a few days ago to perform other military tasks. Which, in fact, are being performed, she concluded

Ukrainian forces fired on “Wagnerites” leaving Bakhmut – 80 killed, 119 wounded, Ukrinform reports, citing the spokesman for the Eastern Group of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Serhii Cherevaty. “There were no firefights in the Bakhmut direction over the last day. As a result of shelling by the Defense Forces of the “Wagnerites” who were retreating from the city, 80 invaders were killed and 119 wounded.

In recent days, we have seen a significant decrease in fighting, there were 2-3 clashes. This day there were none at all. The enemy continues to rotate, withdrawing the “Wagner” group, replacing it with units of airborne troops and motorized infantry. This very withdrawal has a depressing effect on those who take their place. Because they themselves have already taken part in a lot of fighting, this is the second or third group that comes in, plus they see the condition of the criminals from “Wagner”, plus we give them generous amounts of food on the way. As a result, 80 occupiers were killed, 119 were wounded, one armoured personnel carrier, a UAV, an anti-aircraft gun, two vehicles and five ammunition depots were destroyed,” Cherevatyi said. […]

We managed to break their combat potential, we managed to destroy the “Wagner” criminal group, and all these bravura statements are just a latent surrender. He (Wagner’s leader Yevhen Pryhozhyn – ed.) is fleeing, leaving Bakhmut to preserve the remnants of his group, Cherevatyi said.

Answering the question whether the “Wagnerites” will return to their positions in the Bakhmut direction, the spokesman said that it would depend on the military leadership of the Russian Federation. It is not evident from the immediate actions, but it depends on the military and political leadership of their criminal state. And the personnel is a big problem, unlike what he (Pryhozhyn – ed.) shouted about the shells, in fact, their main problem is the personnel. I think the near future will show how the circumstances will develop and what they will be forced to do,” the spokesman emphasized.

Cherevatyi also noted that an important factor is that the best remaining Russian units were brought to Bakhmut. This shows how important this city is as a symbol. Having suffered such a disgrace, having failed to fully take the district center within ten months, and now failing to hold it, they realize that it is too much, in addition to military losses, also reputational losses, he added.”

Frontline report: Alleged Ukrainian drone strike targets Moscow, sparks mixed reactions

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

British Intelligence map.

  • Since the start of May 2023, Russia has increasingly ceded the initiative in the conflict and is reacting to Ukrainian action rather than actively progressing towards its own war aims.
  • During May 2023, Russia has launched 20 nights of one-way-attack uncrewed aerial vehicle and cruise missile attacks deep inside Ukraine. Russia has had little success in its likely aims of neutralising Ukraine’s improved air defences and destroying Ukrainian counter-attack forces. On the ground, it has redeployed security forces to react to partisan attacks inside western Russia.
  • Operationally, Russian commanders are likely attempting to generate reserve forces and position them where they believe a Ukrainian counter-attack will occur. However, this has probably been undermined by uncommitted forces instead being sent to fill gaps in the front line around Bakhmut.
  • On 25 May 2023, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reported that Russian military spending grew by 9.2 per cent in 2022 to USD $86.4 billion. SIPRI assesses this equates to 4.1 per cent of Russia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
  • Russia’s true military spending is highly uncertain due to the increased use of classified budget lines, especially since February 2022, and the lack of transparency.
  • Russia has only recently resumed publishing headline expenditure breakdowns after suspending this in May 2022. It is almost certain that military spending remains elevated, and this is putting pressure on Russian government finances.

Losses of the Russian army 

Losses of the Russian Army. Source: Euromaidan Press.
  • Personnel – about 207910 (+470)
  • Tanks – 3802 (+0)
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 7472 (+3)
  • Artillery systems – 3460 (+15)
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 575 (+0)
  • Air defence means – 333 (+1)
  • Aircraft – 313 (+0)
  • Helicopters – 298 (+0)
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 6230 (+11)
  • Vessels/boats – 18 (+0)
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 3124 (+32)
  • Special equipment – 454 (+0)
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0)
  • Cruise missiles – 1107 (+0)

Russia loses over 2,000 tanks in war against Ukraine – Oryx monitoring group, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Oryx monitoring group. “Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russia has lost 2,002 tanks – and these are only documented equipment losses. According to the monitoring group, 1,239 tanks have been destroyed, 106 damaged, 113 abandoned, and 544 tanks have been captured.

Only numbers confirmed by photo and video recordings were announced by Oryx. According to the General Staff of the Armed Forces, as of May 29, Russia has lost 3,801 tanks.”

Russian Federation received new batch of “Shaheds” from Iran and can carry out attacks using both missiles and drones, – OC “South”, reports, citing Interfax-Ukraine and the head of the joint press center of the Operational Command “South” Natalia Humeniuk.. “The Russian Federation received another batch of “Shahed” kamikaze drones from Iran, the drones have already been delivered to the launch points, so new massive attacks cannot be ruled out. 

Humenyuk also noted that the occupiers have increased the number of missile carriers in the Black Sea, possibly in preparation for a new shelling of Ukraine.”

Defence Intelligence of Ukraine on intensification of missile attacks by Russians: “They will not be able to repeat such performances often”, reports, citing Andrii Yusov, representative of the DIU. “The tactics of missile strikes (Russian – Ed.) have changed. For the most part, they are aimed at complicating or disrupting the plans of the Ukrainian Security and Defence Forces regarding the further liberation of the occupied territories, Yusov explained, adding that the Russian Federation’s priority is to defeat Kyiv. […]

Yusov emphasized that the successful development by the Air Force of the Armed Forces of the air defence equipment provided by the Western partners effectively neutralizes another missile attack by the Russians. The enemy would like to show that their “analogue” weapons can do something to the Ukrainian army and Western weapons. But it turns out that they can’t. How many attacks in a row – in fact, all targets are missed. Our fighters, the Air Force, and air defence equipment demonstrate the best results. – he explained.

According to the representative of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, the next wave of missile terror is being used by the aggressor for demonstrative propaganda about alleged damage to samples of Western weapons. The attempt is active, massive, unprecedented, but to a large extent, these are demonstrative performances. The Russians will not be able to repeat similar performances so often and with the same intensity and number, he concluded.”


Mariupol refugees across Ukraine plan and prepare for city’s liberation from Russia

Ukraine brings back bodies of 79 fallen defenders, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the press service of the Ukrainian Ministry of Reintegration. “Ukraine brought back the bodies of 79 of its fallen defenders on Tuesday 30 May. The transfer of the bodies from the temporarily occupied territories took place with the assistance of the Office of the Commissioner for Missing Persons under the Ministry of Reintegration and in cooperation with law enforcement agencies.

The defenders’ bodies will be handed over to their families for a decent burial.”

Power outages in 7 Ukrainian oblasts due to Russian strikes – Ministry of Energy, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Ukrainian Ministry of Energy. “The power generated was sufficient to cover the needs of consumers as of 30 May, with dozens of settlements in Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhzhia oblasts cut off from the grid due to bad weather. No hits or damage to power infrastructure facilities were reported in the overnight Russian UAV attack.

Meanwhile, the enemy continues to terrorise the contact line and border territories. Six settlements have been cut off from the power supply in Russian strikes on Donetsk Oblast, and some consumers in Dnipropetrovsk, Sumy and Kharkiv oblasts have also faced power cuts. Some consumers in Zaporizhzhia, Kherson and Chernihiv oblasts are also suffering power outages caused by previous attacks. Repair crews work wherever the security situation allows.”

Power outages have also occurred due to bad weather, with 12 settlements in Zaporizhzhia Oblast and 31 in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast cut off from the power supply. The ministry added that the power supply had been resumed for 23,800 consumers over the past 24 hours.”


Russia and Ukraine fail to embrace IAEA plan to protect nuclear plant, Reuters reports. “Neither Russia nor Ukraine committed to respect five principles laid out by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi on Tuesday to try to safeguard Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Grossi, who spoke at the UN Security Council, has tried for months to craft an agreement to reduce the risk of a catastrophic nuclear accident from military activity like shelling at Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant.

His five principles included that there should be no attack on or from the plant and that no heavy weapons such as multiple rocket launchers, artillery systems and munitions, and tanks or military personnel be housed there. Grossi also called for off-site power to the plant to remain available and secure; for all its essential systems to be protected from attacks or sabotage; and for no actions that undermine these principles. The UN nuclear watchdog’s chief described the situation at Zaporizhzhia as extremely fragile and dangerous, adding that military activities continue in the region and may well increase very considerably in the near future.

While Russia said it would do all it could to protect the power plant, which it has occupied for more than a year, it did not explicitly commit to abide by Grossi’s five principles. […]  Ukraine’s ambassador to the UN, Sergiy Kyslytsya, said the principles must be complemented with the demand of full demilitarization and deoccupation of the station.

Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other for shelling that has repeatedly downed power lines vital to cooling the reactors, which are shut down but which need a constant supply of electricity to keep the nuclear fuel inside cool and prevent a possible meltdown.

Grossi described Tuesday’s meeting as a step in the right direction and said the IAEA would reinforce its staff at Zaporizhzhia and track compliance with the principles.

Western powers accused Russia, whose forces invaded Ukraine in February 2022, of putting Zaporizhzhia at risk, with the United States demanding that Russia remove its weapons and civil and military personnel from the plant. It is entirely, entirely within Moscow’s control to avert a nuclear catastrophe and to end its war of aggression against Ukraine, US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said.”

Russians increase pressure on ZNPP personnel – Energoatom, Ukrinform, citing  Ukraine’s state-owned power generating company Energoatom. “In Enerhodar, the satellite city of the temporarily occupied NPP, the rashists have significantly intensified the search for Ukrainian nuclear workers who have been courageously holding out for more than a year, not signing employment contracts with the fake JSC ‘Operating Organization of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant’ or any other Rosatom enterprise,” the post reads.

It adds that the aggressors are torturing the workers. They beat several of them, forcing them to agree to cooperate with the aggressor. Energoatom said that even despite threats, torture, blackmail and constant intimidation, Ukrainians working at the ZNPP hold out with dignity and refuse to cooperate with the rashists.”

Law enforcement officers have already found 1,376 bodies of victims killed in the Kyiv region during Russian occupation, Ukrinform reports. “The relevant statement was made by Head of the Main Directorate of the National Police of Ukraine in the Kyiv region Andrii Niebytov in an interview with According to Niebytov, 15 mass burial sites were discovered, as well as three places, where people had been tortured.

They [Russians – Ed.] inflicted tortures in different ways: strangled [people] with a car cable, used electric shock, or just beat them. There were certain executioners who used wooden sticks to break people’s joints. We have such testimonies. Sadly, all of this had been widespread, Niebytov told. In his words, victims usually were killed after tortures, and few of them managed to survive.

Niebytov mentioned that the National Police of Ukraine had created a database of Russian war crimes, collecting information on Russian soldiers and mercenaries, who had been staying within the territory of Ukraine.

This database already consists of more than 200,000 persons. Separately, we are working on procedural justification. The Kyiv region’s police have already collected information on more than 40 Russians, who committed crimes within the region, Niebytov explained. In particular, the documentary evidence was collected, and the aforementioned persons were charged in absentia. The process of trial takes place after that and, following a verdict, the above persons can be put on an international wanted list.”

Russia claims it has issued 1.5 million Russian passports to residents of occupied territories of Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing TASS and Krym.Realii (Crimea.Reality), a Radio Liberty project covering Crimea. “The Russian government has claimed that it has issued nearly 1.5 million Russian passports to residents of the occupied territories of Ukraine in the past eight months.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced that nearly 1.5 million residents of what Russia calls its “new regions” [but are in fact occupied territories of Ukraine – ed.] have obtained Russian passports since October 2022. According to the Russian government, the documents have been issued in the Russian-occupied parts of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts of Ukraine after their annexation. […]

The Ukrainian government does not recognise these documents, though the Russian Federation is putting pressure on residents of these occupied territories to force them to obtain Russian passports.”


NATO Secretary General: No sign of aid fatigue in Western states, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing CNN. “Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of the North Atlantic Alliance, believes that Western states do not show any signs of fatigue over military aid for Ukraine in its war against Russia. […] According to the NATO Secretary General, the West’s support for Ukraine is only increasing.

Everyone is on alert for signs of fatigue in our democracies, in NATO countries and partners, in terms of our ability to support. So far, we haven’t seen it, Stoltenberg said. The NATO chief maintained that there is still strong cross-party support across NATO allies both in Europe and the USA. Stoltenberg added that despite having “different voices” and opinions on the issue of support for Ukraine, there remains predominantly political will to stand by Ukraine.

Earlier this month, top EU diplomat Josep Borrelll stressed that EU members would continue to support Ukraine in the war with Russia, contrary to speculation about possible fatigue.”

US preparing $300M defense aid package for Ukraine – media, Ukrinform reports, citing the Voice of America with reference to sources in the Pentagon. “The United States is set to announce on Wednesday the allocation of a new $300 million defence aid package to Ukraine, which could include, among other things, more munitions for the Patriot missile defence system, as well as other weapons and ammunition.

The new aid package is expected to include rockets for the HIMARS systems, anti-tank systems, artillery rounds, as well as Zuni unguided air-to-surface rockets. In addition, the new tranche will include Avenger air defence systems and Stinger anti-aircraft missile systems.

Provision of ATACMS to Ukraine is still under consideration – Biden, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing European Pravda. “US President Joe Biden has said that the issue of providing long-range ATACMS missiles to Ukraine is still under consideration. Biden commented on the escalation of Russian air attacks on Kyiv, saying that it’s not unexpected. That’s why we got to continue to give Ukraine all they need, the US president said.

Biden replied to a clarifying question about the possible sending of long-range ATACMS missiles to Ukraine that the topic is still in play, implying that the issue continues to be considered.

Earlier, the media reported that the administration of US President Joe Biden explains its reluctance to transfer longer-range ATACMS missiles to the Ukrainian side, claiming that if they do, there may be too few of them left in the reserves of the US Army. At the same time, the United Kingdom, as it is known, provided Ukraine with its own long-range Storm Shadow cruise missiles.

Ukraine needs 120 fighters, – Reznikov, reports. “In total, Ukraine needs about 120 fighters, and the main part of them should consist of F-16s.  This was stated by the Minister of Defense of Ukraine, Oleksii Reznikov, in an interview with “Ouest-France” and Funke MediaCensor.NET informs.

The largest part should be F-16, of which there are more than five thousand in the world. But Eurofighter and Gripen would also help us. But for the success of such an offensive in the face of the Russian army, which, no matter what people say, is still active, Ukraine needs weapons, and modern ones at that. We need more than 100 planes, Reznikov said.

At the same time, Reznikov added that Ukraine does not yet hope for the supply of French Dassault Rafale fighters, as Paris has a limited number of them at its disposal. I am not sure that France will agree to provide us with Rafale for direct combat on the battlefield. This is a matter of production and time. This is not a political issue, added Reznikov.”

Germany may contribute Eurofighter to fighter jet coalition − Defence Minister, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing DW. “Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine’s Defence Minister, has said he sees the possibility of receiving Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets from Germany. If the UK and Germany were to combine their capabilities to supply Eurofighters, this would be an important step.

The minister recalled that there is already an international tank coalition in which the basic models are the German Leopard 2, the American Abrams and British Challenger. Reznikov believes that a fighter jet coalition could also be formed based on the American F-16 as well as the Eurofighter and Swedish Gripen.

According to the minister, Ukraine needs about 120 fighter jets, most of which should be F-16s, of which there are more than 5,000 in the world. At the same time, he stressed that Eurofighters and Gripens would also help Ukrainians. Reznikov stressed that above all, Ukraine would welcome Germany’s participation in training Ukrainian pilots on the Eurofighter.”

Ukrainian military receive 500 Pegas FPV drones from Everstake, Ukrinform reports. “A total of 500 Pegas First Person View (FPV) drones have been handed over to the Ukrainian military. Some of them have already destroyed dozens of enemy targets. The relevant statement was made by Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister for Innovation, Education, Science and Technology Development – Digital Transformation Minister Mykhailo Fedorov. […]

In his words, the FPV drones ensure a competitive advantage on the battlefield. They overtake and destroy almost any target and save the lives of Ukrainian warriors.

A reminder that the Army of Drones project was initiated by the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the Ukrainian Digital Transformation Ministry. It is a comprehensive program, providing for the systemic purchase of drones, their maintenance, and training courses for relevant professionals. The project was launched on July 1, 2022.»

Italy prepares new package of military assistance to Ukraine, media suggests this will include SAMP/T air defence systems, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing European Pravda. “On Tuesday 30 May, Guido Crosetto, Italian Minister of Defence, announced the preparation of another package of military assistance to Ukraine. Crosetto discussed the issue of military assistance to Ukraine during a hearing in the parliamentary committee on control over special services. […] The content of his speech, as well as what kind of weapons Kyiv will receive from Rome, is classified.

The publication Il Messaggero wrote on the eve that the new package of military assistance to Ukraine, already the seventh in a row, may include a ground-based anti-aircraft missile system SAMP/T and other air defence systems.

The SAMP/T air defence systems were included in the previous, sixth package of Italian military assistance to Ukraine, along with other air defence systems in addition to the SAMP/T-MAMBA systems, which it plans to transfer in cooperation with France.”

New Developments

  1. Russia accuses Washington of encouraging Ukraine in its attacks, ReutersWashington is encouraging Kyiv by publicly ignoring the drone attack that struck several districts of Moscow on Tuesday, Russia’s envoy to the United States said on Wednesday, after President Vladimir Putin blamed Ukraine for the strikes. […] Russia has long accused what it calls the “collective West” of staging a proxy war against Moscow by supporting Ukraine with military and financial aid. Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, devastating cities, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and costing thousands of lives.”
  2. White House on drone attack in Moscow: We do not approve it, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Reuters. “The statement said that the United States is still collecting information about what happened in the capital of the Russian Federation, and recalls Washington’s position, according to which they do not support attacks on Russian territory. [The United States] focused on providing Ukraine with the equipment and training they need to retake their own sovereign territory, the White House added, which also recalled that during May, Russia attacked the capital of Ukraine 17 times. Commenting on the drone strikes in Moscow, James Cleverly, British Foreign Secretary, said that Ukraine has the legal right to defend itselfand it can use force beyond its borders.”
  3. We hit military facilities, and Kyiv regime hits residential buildings – Putin on strikes on Moscow. net reports. “The President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, accused the Ukrainian military of shelling residential buildings in Moscow and continues to [falsely] assure that the Russians have never fired at civilians and objects of important infrastructure in Ukraine. The Russian armed forces are hitting the territory of Ukraine, but with high-precision weapons, and precisely at the objects of the military infrastructure – warehouses of ammunition, fuel and lubricant materials, decision-making headquarters. In response, as is known, the Kyiv regime chose another path – the path of intimidation with strikes on residential buildings. This is a clear sign of terrorism, Putin [bizarrely claimed].”
  4. UN considers comparing drone attack on Moscow with constant shelling of Ukraine inappropriate, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Ukrinform. “Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the United Nations Secretary-General, has stated that it is inappropriate to compare the drone attack on Moscow with the regular missile attacks on Ukraine by the Russian Federation. The spokesman emphasised that the UN condemns any attacks on civilian targets. According to him, the position of UN Secretary-General António Guterres regarding attacks on civilian infrastructure remains unchanged. But in no way can you compare the drone attack on Moscow with the constant shelling of Ukraine, said Dujarric.”
  5. Russian Interior Ministry puts Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief on wanted list, Ukrainska PravdaThe Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia has put Valerii Zaluzhnyi, Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, on the wanted list. The basis for the search: wanted under the article of the Criminal Code,” is written on Zaluzhnyi’s wanted list card. It is not indicated under which article the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces is wanted.”
  6. Ukraine reacts after Russia puts Kyiv’s top commanders on wanted list, Ukrinform reports, citing Hanna Maliar, Deputy Defense Minister. “The announcement is an attempt by Russia to level the status of Ukraine as a victim of the crime of aggression and to exert psychological pressure on Ukrainian defenders. This is one of the techniques of information warfare… This technique is designed to solve two tasks: to level the status of Ukraine as a victim of the international crime of aggression and to formally equate their criminal actions with our defensive ones, (to exert – ed.) psychological pressure on and demoralize our military, she wrote.”
  7. Russia’s Lavrov [farcically] accuses West of ‘supporting genocide’ in Ukraine, ReutersRussian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that the West was supporting genocide in Ukraine through its backing for President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s peace plan, which he claimed would destroy everything Russian in east Ukraine and Crimea. Lavrov, speaking during a trip to Africa, did not offer evidence to support his claim. […] Zelenskyy’s peace plan envisages the withdrawal of Russian forces from all Ukrainian territory, including the Crimea peninsula, which Moscow forcibly annexed in 2014.”
  8. Blinken urges Türkiye to immediately approve Sweden’s NATO accession, ReutersUS Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday urged Türkiye to immediately finalize Sweden’s accession to NATO, saying the Nordic country had already taken significant steps to address Ankara’s objections to its membership. Blinken also rejected the suggestion that the Biden administration was linking Türkiye’s approval of Sweden’s NATO accession to the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Ankara, although he said the US Congress was doing so. A day before, the US president also alluded toa link. Speaking at a joint press conference with the Swedish prime minister in Lulea, northern Sweden, Blinken said Washington was going to continue to work to complete Sweden’s accession in time for a mid-July NATO summit that will bring together alliance heads of state.”


  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of  May 30, 2022:

Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks northeast of Kupiansk and northwest of Svatove on May 30. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations near Masyutivka (13km northeast of Kupiansk), Krokhmalne (20km northwest of Svatove), and Novoselivske (15km northwest of Svatove). Ukrainian Luhansk Oblast Head Artem Lysohor reported that Russian forces conducted offensive actions near Stelmakhivka (15km northwest of Svatove). A Russian news aggregator claimed that Russian forces are gradually advancing in Masyutivka. ISW has still not observed visual confirmation of any Russian advances in or control over Masyutivka.

Russian sources claimed that Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks south of Kreminna on May 30. Russian sources claimed that Russian forces are storming Bilohorivka (10km south of Kreminna) and encircling the Ukrainian forces. ISW has not seen visual confirmation supporting a Russian advance near Bilohorivka. Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Serhiy Cherevaty reported that Russian forces face difficulties in staffing regular units and instead use Chechen Akhmat forces, Cossacks, territorial defense units, BARS (Russian Combat Army Reserve) formations, and Storm-Z units.

The Ukrainian General Staff reported that a Russian sabotage and reconnaissance group unsuccessfully attempted to cross the border between Ukraine and Russia near Zelene (34km northeast of Kharkiv City).

The tempo of Russian and Ukrainian offensive operations in the Bakhmut direction remains low as of May 30. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces did not conduct offensive operations in the Bakhmut direction on May 30. Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar reported that Russian forces are replacing and regrouping their forces in the Bakhmut direction, and that Ukrainian forces are focusing on other tasks and have not advanced in the northern and southern outskirts of Bakhmut for several days. Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Serhiy Cherevaty stated that Ukrainian forces obliterated Wagner Group’s offensive capabilities and that Ukrainian strikes against Russian forces inflict significant casualties – 80 killed and 119 injured as of May 30 – as Wagner forces conduct their relief in place. Cherevaty stated that only two or three engagements occurred in the Bakhmut direction in recent days and no combat clashes occurred on May 30. Some Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted limited counterattacks, however. The Russian Southern Group of Forces Spokesperson Vadim Astafyev claimed that Russian forces repelled three Ukrainian ground attacks in the Soledar-Bakhmut direction, and a Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted counterattacks near Andriivka and Klishchiivka (both within 7km south of Bakhmut). The milblogger also claimed that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful attacks near Ivanivske (6km west of Bakhmut) and Orikhovo-Vasylivka (11km northwest of Bakhmut).

Russian forces made marginal advances amid continued ground attacks on the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line on May 30. Geolocated footage shows that Russian forces made marginal advances southwest of Vodyane (7km southwest of Avdiivka) near the E50 highway as of May 29. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful ground attacks near Sieverne (5km west of Avdiivka), Pobieda (5km southwest of Donetsk City), and Novomykhailivka (10km southwest of Donetsk City), and in the city of Marinka (on the southwestern outskirts of Donetsk City). Ukrainian officials reported that Russian forces conducted 12 ground attacks in the Avdiivka direction and 12 attacks in the Marinka direction in the past day. Ukrainian Defense Forces Tavriisk Direction Spokesperson Valeriy Shershen stated that Russian “Storm” and “Storm-Z” units are mainly storming Marinka.

A Russian source claimed that Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks in western Donetsk Oblast on May 30. A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces attempted to advance near Velyka Novosilka (32km northwest of Vuhledar) and fighting intensified near Vuhledar. The milblogger also claimed that Ukrainian forces forced Russian forces to retreat from the southwestern dacha area of Mykilske (4km southwest of Vuhledar) across the Kashlahach River. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces did not conduct any offensive operations in western Donetsk Oblast.

Russia claimed that Ukraine conducted a series of drone strikes against Moscow on May 30 as Russia again targeted Ukraine with Iranian-made Shahed drones. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) accused Ukraine of attacking Moscow with eight drones on the morning of May 30, and claimed that Russian forces shot down five of the drones and suppressed three drones with electronic warfare systems. Russian propagandist Vladimir Solovyev, however, claimed that Ukraine launched 32 drones of which some targeted the prestigious neighborhood of Rublyovka in Moscow Oblast. A Russian independent outlet claimed that the drone strikes predominantly targeted areas near Russian President Vladimir Putin’s residence in Novo-Ogaryovo and other elite neighborhoods in Moscow Oblast. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin stated that several buildings in Moscow suffered minor damage, and Russian sources amplified footage of a minor explosion in the Novaya Moskva neighborhood. A Russian milblogger claimed that drones flying over Moscow resembled Ukrainian attack drones. Geolocated footage shows Russian forces shooting down drones identified as Ukrainian by OSINT accounts in several different areas of Moscow and Moscow Oblast. Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podoliak denied that Ukraine was directly involved in the drone strike but forecasted that there could be an increase in such attacks in the future.

Russian forces conducted another Shahed 131 and 136 drone strike against Kyiv overnight on May 29 to May 30. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces shot down 29 of 31 Russian Shahed 131 and 136 drones that targeted Kyiv. Senior Russian officials claimed that Russian forces struck high profile targets in Kyiv during recent strikes, likely to appear successful in retaliation for the recent Belgorod Oblast incursion. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu claimed that Russian forces struck a Patriot air defense system in recent days. Ukrainian Air Forces Spokesperson Colonel Yuriy Ihnat denied Shoigu’s claim, however. Russian milbloggers’ recent complaints about the perceived lack of Russian escalation in response to the Belgorod border raid and Moscow drone strikes do not give Russian forces credit for the unprecedented scale of their air campaign against Kyiv. Many milbloggers, including high-profile voices like former Russian officer Igor Girkin and Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin have frequently and recently complained about the lack of full scale general and economic mobilization in Russia, the only feasible measure likely to satisfy the broader information space outcry.[12]

Russian President Vladimir Putin attempted to downplay the drone attack on Moscow to avoid exposing the limited options he has to retaliate against Ukraine. Putin claimed that Russian forces struck the Ukrainian military intelligence headquarters “two [to] three days ago” and claimed that the Russian Armed Forces continue to respond to Ukraine’s “war against Donbas” by striking Ukrainian military infrastructure. Putin insinuated that the drone strike on Moscow was Kyiv’s response to Russian strikes, and the Russian MoD conveniently claimed on May 30 that Russian forces carried out “a group of strikes with long-range high-precision air-launched weapons at main decision-making centers” in Ukraine. The Russian MoD did not claim that it had struck the Ukrainian military intelligence headquarters recently and there is no available confirmation of Putin’s claim. Putin stated that Ukraine is trying to provoke a response and make Russia “mirror” its actions. Putin’s emphasis on past and ongoing missile strikes is likely an attempt to signal that Russia is already actively retaliating and does not need to respond to further Ukrainian provocations. Putin has consistently retaliated against genuine and purported Ukrainian actions by ordering massive missile and drone campaigns, likely due to Russian forces’ inability to achieve any decisive effects on the battlefield.

Putin additionally pushed numerous Kremlin boilerplate narratives aimed at maintaining domestic support for the Russian war effort and villainizing the West. Putin also noted that, while the Moscow air defense systems “worked normally,” Russia still needs to “work” on improving these systems – a notable attempt to preempt criticism from Russian ultra-nationalists who have been criticizing Russia’s ineffective air defense systems in Moscow and along the Russian border regions with Ukraine. Putin also accused Ukraine of threatening to destabilize the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) and using “dirty devices” – both default Russian false narratives that the Kremlin uses during Russian military failures.

The drone attack on Moscow generated varied responses from the Russian information space. Moscow Duma Deputy Andrey Medvedev claimed that the Ukrainian forces hurriedly executed the drone attack as part of an information operation with negligible kinetic effects. Some Russian milbloggers used the drone attacks to criticize the Russian withdrawal from Kyiv, Chernihiv, and Sumy oblasts in April 2022. Igor Girkin used the strikes against Rublyovka to criticize Russian elites who he claimed have “never thought about the country and never will” and will not respond to Ukrainian attacks in Moscow, Belgorod Oblast, or Russian-occupied Ukraine. Girkin also mocked Putin for continuing to assert that the war is a “special military operation,” despite drone attacks on the Russian capital. Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin reprimanded the Russian MoD and called on Russian officials to actually defend Russia instead of “sitting quietly.” Chechen Republic Head Ramzan Kadyrov threatened the European countries, claiming that, if they continue to supply Ukraine with weapons, they will not have the weapons needed to defend themselves when Russia “knocks on their doors.”

The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) is likely attempting to conceal the high Russian losses in Ukraine by artificially inflating Ukrainian casualties in the war. Defense Minister Shoigu claimed on May 30 that Russian forces had destroyed an absurdly high number of Western-provided Ukrainian weapons, including long range missiles, in the past month. Shoigu celebrated claimed successes and training efforts, including by awarding Russian formations and bragging about the upcoming summer military exercises. A Wagner Group-affiliated milblogger criticized Shoigu, implying that Shoigu’s statements are so unrealistic that they appear to be fake to readers. Dutch open-source group Oryx reported on May 29 that it confirmed that Russia has lost over 2,000 tanks and 2,366 infantry fighting vehicles (including over 850 BMPs) since the war began.

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrelll stated that Russia will not enter negotiations while trying to win the war, supporting ISW’s assessment that Russian statements expressing willingness to negotiate are part of an ongoing information operation intending to weaken Western willingness to aid Ukraine. Reuters reported on May 29 that Borrelll said that Russia has repeatedly signaled that it would not end the war until it achieved its military goals and that it has over 300,000 personnel in Ukraine — twice as many as when the invasion started.

Key Takeaways

  • Russia claimed that Ukraine conducted a series of drone strikes against Moscow on May 30 as Russia again targeted Ukraine with Iranian-made Shahed drones.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin attempted to downplay the drone attack on Moscow to avoid exposing the limited options he has to retaliate against Ukraine.
  • The drone attack on Moscow generated varied responses from the Russian information space.
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) is likely attempting to conceal the high Russian losses in Ukraine by artificially inflating Ukrainian casualties in the war.
  • EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrelll stated that Russia will not enter negotiations while trying to win the war.
  • Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks northeast of Kupiansk and northwest of Svatove, and Russian sources claimed that Russian forces conducted a ground attack south of Kreminna.
  • The tempo of Russian and Ukrainian offensive operations in the Bakhmut direction remains low as of May 30.
  • Russian forces made marginal advances amid continued ground attacks on the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line.
  • Russian forces did not conduct any confirmed ground attacks along the southern axis.
  • Russian officials are establishing domestic veteran support programs which likely aim to advertise the perks of military service in Russia.

Russian occupation officials continue to deport Ukrainian children to Russia under the guise of providing pediatric healthcare.

EU’s top diplomat says he is “not optimistic” about what could happen in Ukraine this summer, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing La Vanguardia and the BBC. “Josep Borrelll, EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy,  is “not optimistic” about the events to unfold in Ukraine during the summer, and also predicts a new military offensive by Russia. In his opinion, Moscow will not sit at the negotiating table without first trying to win the war in Ukraine.

He [Putin – ed.] has tried once and did not succeed, said the EU’s top diplomat, adding that Russia would try to re-capture Ukraine despite the significant losses of the Russian army. It still has power, we should not underestimate it, he added. Borrelll stressed the need to increase military spending to respond to the defence challenges facing Europe.

He said that the military presence of the Russian Federation in Ukraine is enormous. Putin has amassed over 300,000 men there, twice as many as he had when he launched the invasion, Borrelll said.

According to him, the daily shelling, the killing of civilians and the destruction of infrastructure indicate that Russia has a plan that it adheres to. I’m afraid that they don’t do that without a plan. We have to be prepared, which means continuing to help Ukraine, because if we don’t help it, Ukraine cannot defend [itself – ed.], Borrelll said.

Last week, Josep Borrelll expressed confidence that Ukraine can win in the full-scale war with Russia. Although Borrelll did not specify whose statements he was commenting on, earlier in an interview with Bloomberg, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that Ukraine cannot win the aggressive war that Russia unleashed against it.”

UAV attacks and border breaches are Ukrainian “shaping operations” – FT, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Financial Times. “The UK’s Financial Times writes that Ukraine has been conducting “shaping operations” to mislead or distract Russian commanders and create a favourable backdrop for a counter-offensive. First there was a mysterious drone strike on the Kremlin. Next came an “invasion” whose embarrassing implications for Moscow could prompt it to divert front-line troops to border regions. Then, late last week, Ukraine launched a marine drone attack on a Russian spy ship in the Black Sea. On Tuesday morning, as many as two dozen aerial drones attacked Moscow.

Ahead of Kyiv’s long-expected counter-offensive, when it aims to retake occupied territory, such attacks are just four of the increasingly daring “shaping operations” that Ukraine has launched this month. Ranging from symbolic strikes to more strategically significant attacks, these shaping operations form part of standard military practice. Their aim, defence officials and analysts say, is to deceive the enemy, meddle with its mindset and otherwise “shape” the battlefield before a large offensive.”

The news agency mentions the explosion of two drones over the Kremlin dome on 3 May and the morning UAV attack on Moscow on 30 May, which revealed the vulnerability of the Russian capital. Furthermore, the break-in by two groups of far-right Russian partisans on the Russian border in Belgorod Oblast on 22 May indicated that Russia’s borders are “not impenetrable”. A successful offensive starts with a successful psychological offensive. Their [Russian] morale is not at its highest level, a senior Ukrainian official said.

Mike Martin, a former UK army officer and author of the book How to Fight a War, says: The idea is to create a lot of dilemmas for the Russian command structure. Problems — such as a breakthrough of the front line — focus attention. Dilemmas, by contrast, paralyse action.

John Spencer, a former US Army major in charge of urban warfare studies at the West Point Modern War Institute, notes that deception operations have always been part of warfare, but now their effect is amplified by social media. They are Ukrainian grey zone operations that require Russia to expend resources — be that troops or information operations. They’re like a magician’s sleight of hand: they deceive the viewer and force his attention elsewhere, Spencer said.

The FT notes that the shaping operations have had a certain psychological effect in Moscow and have been commented on in the Kremlin and the blogging community. A Ukrainian military intelligence official said that the raid in Belgorod Oblast and similar operations are intended to deliver a blow to [Russian] morale and force them to redeploy troops along the border, although “we have not yet seen any indication” of this.

As Spencer puts it, Ukraine is using the Russian playbook against Russia. Moscow was promoting the scenario of an offensive from the territory of Belarus, forcing Ukraine to deploy troops nearby. However, the Ukrainians are now similarly distracting Russian attention. The FT points out that Ukraine effectively used a similar tactic last summer, as it had discussed the idea of a counter-offensive in the south for several weeks, and when Russian troops moved there, Kyiv launched a blitzkrieg in the country’s north Kharkiv Oblast.

Western officials say it’s unclear how effective the upcoming counteroffensive will be but that Ukraine will continue its “shaping operations”, combining them with precision attacks aimed at undermining Russian military assets and capacity. These may include long-range strikes using Storm Shadow cruise missiles as well as drone attacks on “fat targets” such as the Ivan Khurs reconnaissance ship.

They [the Ukrainians] are testing and probing and finding out what works and what doesn’t, said a senior Western official. The whole point of this counter-offensive is that neither Russia nor the [Western allies] know when it has really begun, and what we’re seeing now is them forcing the Russians to keep second guessing, he believes From a Ukrainian perspective, this “nervous uncertainty” is key, the FT concludes.”

Chief of Ukraine’s Defence Intelligence to Russia: Those who tried to intimidate us will soon regret it, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Defence Intelligence of Ukraine. “After the 29 May missile attack on Ukraine, Major General Kyrylo Budanov, Chief of the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine, has said that Russia’s latest attempt to intimidate Ukrainians had failed and that “the response will not be delayed”.

All those in the Russian Federation who still believed, believe or maybe dream that they could intimidate Ukraine, I want to upset you – this is not true: everyone has been and is still at their workplaces and continues to do their jobs. All those who have tried to intimidate us, dreaming that this would cause any effect, will regret it very soon. Our response will not be delayed. Soon, everyone will see everything.

According to Valerii Zaluzhnyi, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, 11 ballistic and cruise missiles hit Kyiv and Kyiv Oblast that morning, all of which were shot down. However, missile debris fell in several districts of the capital.”


  1. Consequences and what to do?


The largest aviation exercises in the history of NATO will take place in Germany, reports, citing Euro Integration and Spiegel. ”The Air Defender 2023 exercise will be held under the leadership of Germany from June 12 to 23. Almost all manoeuvres – 90% – are planned over the territory of Germany and over the coastal zones of the North and Baltic seas. About 250 planes and helicopters will take part in the exercises, of which about a hundred are from the US Air Force.

The inspector of the German Air Force, Ingo Gerharz, noted that the exercises should demonstrate the allies’ readiness to react quickly if necessary. According to him, “only isolated manoeuvres” are planned near Russian airspace and only defensive scenarios will be practiced.

Of course, it would be a provocation to simulate departures in the direction of Kaliningrad. But we will not do that, he said. The exercises are planned in close coordination with civil controllers and Eurocontrol, so that the manoeuvres create as little inconvenience as possible for civil aviation.” 

Hans Petter Midttun: I have previously highlighted how Ukraine is shaping the battlefield for its counteroffensive. Its recent attacks against legal targets in both Russian and occupied territories are a part of the same process.

Ukraine is, however, not only shaping the battlefield but also crossing the Russian red lines, helping the West to find the courage to do the same.

Imagine the US advising the UK to not retaliate against Nazi Germany during the “London Blitz” in 1940-41. It would have been utterly unthinkable given the horror and destruction the British population endured. Still, this is what the US is advising Ukraine today.

The comparison is even more relevant knowing that Nazi Germany at the time was possibly the world’s second strongest (if not the strongest) military power. Both were/are totalitarian autocracies, based on a fascist ideology aiming to use military power to integrate neighbouring countries and exterminate ethnic groups to advance their own national interests.

Ukraine is enduring a massive, illegitimate air campaign aimed at breaking the Ukrainian will to uphold its fight for its independence and sovereignty. It is both targeting the civil population as well as Ukraine’s industrial and agricultural basis. They are being targeted by missiles, bombs, artillery, MLRS and UAVs launched or fired from inside Russia. Ukrainian cities and settlements are being eradicated. The capital of Ukraine sustained 17 attacks in May only. As of April 2023, the total amount of direct damages caused to Ukraine’s infrastructure was assessed to be $147.5 billion.

Still, the US advises against attacking legal targets in Russia.

The list of legal targets includes – but is not limited to – the airfields and combat aircraft delivering the missiles and bombs against Ukrainian cities and settlements; the S-300 and 400 air defence systems targeting civilians; logistical hubs providing its invasion forces the supplies needed to assault Ukraine; the defence industries sustaining the illegal and unprovoked war; and land lines of communication (e.g. railway, bridges, etc.) enabling the delivery of weapons, ammunition, spare parts and supplies.

The UK in contrast, clearly states that Ukraine has the legitimate right to defend itself and can project force beyond its borders while providing it the long-range weapons the US is reluctant to give.

Retired US Air Force Major Heather Penny, who became famous after she took off on September 11, 2001, in an F-16 fighter to ram one of the civilian airliners hijacked by al-Qaeda terrorists, framed it brilliantly by saying:

“I want to tell the Ukrainians that they are fighting a righteous battle. […] The whole world is indebted to Ukraine, which nobly sacrifices the most valuable thing it has. Like Great Britain in 1940, Ukrainians are now almost single-handedly confronting the evil and horror that Russia brings with it.”

Being asked what she think about the US decision to allow the transfer of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine and her assessment of the possible consequences of this decision, she strongly supported what many experts have been saying for months already:

I think this decision is months, if not years, too late. We should have done this at the very beginning of Russian aggression against Ukraine. Military aviation exists to give combat operations a third dimension. Now the fighting in Ukraine is reminiscent of the trench battles of the First World War. This is a brutal war of attrition. It is to prevent this that the modern air force was created. I am encouraged by the news that the US administration and our European allies, albeit belatedly, have committed to providing Ukraine with advanced military aircraft. I sincerely believe that it will make a big difference if the deliveries happen on time.”

Ukraine’s repeated attacks against legal targets on Russian territory during the last 15 months have helped the West overcome the mental hurdle of crossing Russia’s multiple read lines. Every successful attack has triggered Russian threats and disinformation, but never the escalation Western politicians and (at times) military leaders have been fearing.

Ukraine is – like the UK was in the 40s – defending Europe. And as the US did during the first years of WW2, the West is providing Ukraine with most of the tools needed to stop the Russian advance short of deploying boots on the ground.

More importantly still – and again like during WW2 – with democracy under siege, the military balance will not fundamentally shift in favour of democracy before the West decides to intervene militarily.

Russia is continuing the war believing time is on its side and that Western support will eventually falter and collapse. It is time to prove it wrong. Today. Not in 5 years.

Both Ukraine’s bravery and resilience, as well as its operations behind enemy lines, are helping shift the opinions of both policy and decision-makers.

Ukraine is not only shaping the battlefield. It is also shaping the cognitive space of key policy and decision-makers in the West.

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