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Russo-Ukrainian War, day 813: Ukraine faces nationwide blackouts due to Russian strikes while Ukrainian forces fight back Russian assaults in Kharkiv Oblast 

Ukraine’s energy crisis deepened after Russian strikes on power infrastructure, leading to emergency outages and a growing electricity deficit. The situation has been further complicated by Russia’s renewed offensive in the Kharkiv Oblast, where delays in Western aid, restrictions on striking Russian targets, and issues in Ukrainian command have been cited as factors contributing to the initial advance.
Russian offensive in Kharkiv Oblast 2024, Vovchansk
Vovchansk after Russia’s repeated offensive in the Kharkiv Oblast. Credit: evgenymaloletka via Instagram
Russo-Ukrainian War, day 813: Ukraine faces nationwide blackouts due to Russian strikes while Ukrainian forces fight back Russian assaults in Kharkiv Oblast 

Exclusive

Could Ukraine have prevented the Kharkiv incursion? Experts weigh in. While Russia’s offensive in northern Ukraine came as no surprise, military analysts argue delays in Western aid, restrictions on striking targets in Russia, and issues in Ukrainian command left troops unprepared to mount an effective defense.

Military

General Staff: Ukrainian forces foil Russian entrenchment in Vovchansk. Ukrainian defense forces disrupted Russian attempts to establish a strong presence in Vovchansk, Kharkiv Oblast, continuing to execute combat tasks and keeping Russian forces under fire control in the city’s northern buildings, Ukraine’s General Staff says.

ISW: Russian offensive slows in northern Kharkiv Oblast, halts at 8km from border. ISW reports the Russian offensive in northern Kharkiv slows, advancing no more than 8 km from the border, with Western restrictions on strikes inside Russia complicating the Ukrainian defense of vulnerable border areas.

Ukraine loses some ground near Kharkiv Oblast’s Kupiansk. Ukrainian troops near Kupiansk lost several positions amidst heavy Russian attacks, while successfully defending northern Kharkiv Oblast from a renewed Russian offensive, repelling multiple attacks and preserving critical areas, the General Staff reports.

Ukraine’s Military Intelligence targets Russian fuel base in Rostov Oblast overnight. Russian air defenses claim of repelling what the Kremlin-appointed governor of Sevastopol described as a “massive attack” involving around 20 missiles over the Crimean peninsula.

ISW: Russian offensive in Kharkiv Oblast slows amid new tactics, heavy losses. Ukrainian authorities claim Russian losses may have reached 1,740 soldiers in 24 hours near Kharkiv, as the pace of Russia’s offensive in the area has slowed.

As of 16 May 2024, the approximate losses of weapons and military equipment of the Russian Armed Forces from the beginning of the invasion to the present day:

      • Personnel: 488460 (+1520)
      • Tanks: 7529 (+19)
      • APV: 14538 (+30)
      • Artillery systems: 12565 (+27)
      • MLRS: 1070
      • Anti-aircraft systems: 798
      • Aircraft: 351
      • Helicopters: 325
      • UAV: 10028 (+13)
      • Cruise missiles : 2200 (+1)
      • Warships/boats: 26
      • Submarines: 1
      • Vehicles and fuel tanks: 17048 (+93)

Intelligence and technology

UK intel: Ukraine’s economy remains resilient two years into Russian invasion. Ukraine’s economy remains resilient after two years of Russia’s invasion, with around 3% growth projected for 2024, as per UK intelligence.

Bloomberg: Biden administration seeks to send additional patriot missiles to Ukraine. The US is seeking to send a single battery along with radars, while Ukraine’s European allies are also planning to provide Kyiv with more air defense systems.

Denmark bolsters Ukraine’s air defense with new military aid package. With almost half of Denmark’s 18th aid package allocated to air defense, Ukraine is set to receive much-needed reinforcement in its efforts to protect its cities from relentless Russian shelling.

International

EU to sanction four Russian media outlets to combat Russian propaganda. The European Union is set to add Voice of Europe, RIA Novosti, Izvestija, and Rossiyskaya Gazeta to the 14th sanctions list against Russia.

Zelenskyy calls off Spain trip amid Russian assault in Kharkiv. Zelenskyy was scheduled to meet Spain’s King Felipe VI, PM Pedro Sánchez, and sign a security agreement, but the complex situation in Ukraine forced the cancellation.

​​US prepares new military aid package for Ukraine amid Russian offensive in Kharkiv Oblast. White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre emphasized the US’s unwavering commitment to Ukraine in fighting for its democracy and against Russian aggression.

FT: EU to freeze Georgia’s accession bid if it enacts Russian-style “foreign agents” bill. EU officials warn that Georgia’s accession efforts could be halted if it adopts a “foreign agents” law similar to Russia’s, despite ongoing protests and the potential for reversing the decision, FT’s EU sources say.

Bloomberg: Switzerland to soften arms export rules, but not for Ukraine. The Swiss government wants to bypass neutrality laws for increased arms exports, but will continue prohibiting weapon shipments to Ukraine, Bloomberg says.

Humanitarian and social impact

Russian forces shell Kherson two days in a row, injuring civilians. Russia’s May 16 attack on Kherson city injured two people, while 21 more civilians got injuries in yesterday’s Russian attack on the city.

Russian airstrike on Kherson injures 21, damages residential buildings and cars. Victims of the Russian attack on Kherson, including a teenage boy, sustained various injuries, such as explosive injuries, head injuries, and shrapnel wounds.

Interior Minister: Russian military conducts civilian executions in northern Vovchansk. Russian forces detain, execute civilians in Kharkiv’s Vovchansk as Ukraine’s police try to evacuate them amid ongoing fighting, the Ukrainian Interior Minister says.

Russian strikes, cold weather trigger emergency power cuts amid shortages in Ukraine. Due to increased electricity shortages after Russian strikes and cold weather, Ukraine has implemented emergency outages for industrial and residential consumers across all regions.

Ukraine faces countrywide power outages as electricity deficit worsens. Emergency power outages swept across all regions of Ukraine on 15 May, lasting from 6:40 am to 9:00 am, as the national energy company Ukrenergo grappled with an electricity deficit exacerbated by Russian strikes on power infrastructure.

Russian air strikes on residential area in Kharkiv injure 21 people, including three children. A residential courtyard and multi-story apartment building were hit by Russian guided air munitions in Kharkiv’s Shevchenkivskyi district on 14 May injuring 21 civilians, including three children aged 8, 12, and 12

Reuters: US announces new sanctions over North Korea-Russia arms transfers. The US announced sanctions against two Russian individuals and three companies, accusing them of facilitating arms transfers, including ballistic missiles, from North Korea to Russia for using against Ukraine.

Austria prosecuted Ukrainian for drone shipments to Ukraine, but court said not guilty. An Austrian court cleared a Ukrainian refugee accused of violating laws by delivering commercial drones to his hometown, which Austria claimed were military supplies.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister: Ukraine is not as corrupt as portrayed . Ukraine’s FM Dmytro Kuleba argued that Ukraine’s ongoing EU accession negotiations and continued international support indicate that corruption levels are not as high as often portrayed, especially by Russian propaganda, Ukrinform says.

Polska Times: Russia sought Ukraine’s capitulation, not peace in 2022 talks, says Poland’s ex State Secretary. Responding to implications that Ukrainian President Zelenskyy could have prevented “tragedy” by making peace with Russia in 2022, Jakub Kumoch claimed that the Ukrainian leader could not agree to Russian demands, which, among many, included some “humiliating elements” like implementing “denazification” and introducing “the cult of the Great Patriotic War.”

New developments

Zelenskyy “strongly condemns” assassination attempt on Fico, wishes him speedy recovery. The Ukrainian President called the attack “horrible” & urged efforts to prevent violence becoming the norm. Fico was shot after a govt meeting & is in life-threatening condition.

Pro-Russian Slovak PM Fico shot, hospitalized after government meeting attack. Slovakia’s pro-Russian PM Robert Fico was shot and hospitalized with an injury after an attack after a government meeting in central Slovakia, when approaching his supporters, local media reports.

Read our earlier daily review here.

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