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CDS Daily brief (21.04.23) | CDS comments on key events

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Snapshot of the day:

General, humanitarian:

  • On the night of April 21, Russia launched another “Shahed-136/131” kamikaze drone attack on Ukraine; 8 of at least 12 drones were shot down by Ukrainian air defense forces. This was the first attack on Kyiv in 25 days.
  • Ukraine has arranged a format for transferring deceased Russian military personnel’s bodies back to their families through contacts with the Russian side via the International Red Cross. It is done to return fallen Ukrainian soldiers home as quickly as possible
  • Ukraine estimates the total damage caused by Russia’s invasion to be $143.8 billion, which includes direct and documented material losses.


  • The enemy continues to focus on offensive operations in Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Maryinka directions.
  • The enemy’s “East” grouping is preparing to conduct a defensive operation, with the main forces comprising the 58th Army of the Southern Military District. However, the enemy has only territorial defense units in reserve, indicating a lack of combat-ready troops.
  • Russian forces have used the TOS-1A near Novodanylivka (36 km southwest of Hulyaipole).


  • The 11th Ramstein meeting focused on three key areas: air defense, ammunition, and enablers. The group has provided over $55 billion in security assistance, 230 MBTs, 1550 armored vehicles, and training for more than 30,000 Ukrainian military personnel. Canada has pledged an additional CAD39 million in assistance. Ukraine, Germany, and Poland have also signed a Letter of Intent for the establishment of a Maintenance and Service Center in Poland for Ukraine’s Leopard 2 MBTs.
  • Dmitriy Medvedev erratically reacted to Boris Pistorius’s statement that limited attacks by Ukraine on Russian territory are an acceptable tactic in repelling Russia’s invasion.
  • Viktor Orban expressed dissatisfaction with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg’s statement that Ukraine’s place is in NATO. Meanwhile, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto touted his government’s “pro-peace” stance on the foreground of Greater Hungary’s map, which includes parts of Ukraine, Slovakia, Romania, and Serbia.
Humanitarian aspect:


The Ukrainian Authorized Representative for Missing Persons under Special Circumstances, Oleg Kotenko, has confirmed that they have arranged for the transfer of deceased Russian military personnel’s bodies back to their families through contacts with the Russian side via the International Red Cross. Kotenko emphasized that they do not call it an exchange but rather a transfer of bodies to return fallen Ukrainian soldiers as quickly as possible. He also noted that Russia has inquired about their deceased personnel, and Ukraine has many more Russian deceased in refrigerators located on Ukrainian territory. Kotenko assured that Ukraine works according to a formula when it comes to transferring the bodies, and sometimes they hand over the bodies based on the surname of the deceased provided by the Russian side.

Russian attacks

On the night of April 21, the Russian army attacked Ukrainian territory with Iranian-made “Shahed-136/131” kamikaze drones, according to the Ukrainian General Staff. Up to 12 drones were launched in total, and eight of them were shot down by Ukrainian air defense forces.

Sergey Popko, the head of the Kyiv city military administration, reported that this was the first attack on the Ukrainian capital in 25 days. There were no casualties, and there was no damage in the city.

Consequences of enemy shelling as of the morning of April 20:

  • Ukrainian air defense forces destroyed eight kamikaze drones during a night attack on the outskirts of Kyiv. There were no casualties or damage.
  • During the night, the enemy attacked Poltava Oblast with drones. There is damage to civilian infrastructure, but no casualties have been reported.
  • During the night, the occupiers hit an infrastructure object in Vinnytsia Oblast, causing a fire. No casualties were reported.
  • During the past 24 hours, the enemy shelled 18 towns and villages in Zaporizhzhia Oblast. Fifteen civilian objects were destroyed, including residential buildings and apartments, farm buildings, garages, and storage facilities at an educational institution.
  • The Russian occupiers shelled Kherson Oblast 63 times, resulting in two deaths and three injuries.
  • In the morning, the Russian occupiers shelled the outskirts of Leonivka village, Chernihiv Oblast, with 34 attacks. Three buildings were damaged.
  • One person was killed in the Chasiv Yar community in Donetsk Oblast. In Bakhmut, two multi-storey buildings and eight private houses were destroyed. Two more buildings were damaged in the Toretsk community. Kostiantynivka was hit by S-300 missiles, causing damage to an unfinished building. One person was injured in Zarichne.
  • Yesterday, the enemy fired on the Kharkiv, Kupyansk, and Chuhuyiv districts of Kharkiv Oblast. At least two private homes were damaged in Kupyansk.
  • Yesterday during the day, the enemy attacked the waters and coastline of the Ochakiv community in Mykolaiv Oblast. Private and multi-storey buildings were damaged in Ochakiv, and there were strikes on infrastructure objects. No casualties were reported.
  • During the night, the Russians shelled the Myrivska community in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast with heavy artillery. There were no casualties.
Occupied territories

According to the Office of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, less than a third of the 182 political prisoners in Crimea are currently located on the peninsula, with the rest deported to Russia, where they are often held in terrible conditions and denied necessary medical assistance. The office also reported that two Ukrainian citizens have already died due to a lack of proper medical attention.

Operational situation General conclusion:
  • The enemy is concentrating its main efforts on conducting offensive operations in the Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Maryinka directions.
  • The command of the enemy’s “East” grouping is actively preparing to conduct a defensive operation in their responsibility zone. The main forces and means of this grouping are made up of the 58th Army of the Southern Military District (both of its main formations, the 19th and 42nd Motorized Rifle Divisions, have taken up defense on this front).
  • In reserve of the enemy’s “East” grouping, there are only territorial defense units, which indicates a lack of combat-ready troops.
Change in the line of contact (LoC):
  • The units of the Defense Forces repelled more than 60 enemy attacks on various directions.
  • The enemy attempted to improve their tactical position and conducted unsuccessful offensive operations in the area of the Serebryansk forestry. Heavy fighting continues for the city of Bakhmut. The enemy carried out offensive operations in the areas of Kamianka, Pervomaiske, Nevelske, Maryinka, and Pobeda in Donetsk Oblast but had no success.
  • Russian forces attempted to improve their tactical position in the area of Kreminna and conducted unsuccessful offensive operations near the southern outskirts of Kreminna and near Hryhorivka. They unsuccessfully attacked in the areas of Torske, Terny, and Nevske and engaged in prolonged fighting near Bilohorivka, where the Chechen detachment “Akhmat” is deployed.
  • The Ukrainian Defense Forces control Spirne and continued reconnaissance to the northwest of Svatove. Their reconnaissance groups had clashes with enemy near Tymiva in Kharkiv Oblast and Andriivka in Luhansk Oblast.
  • The enemy attempted to advance towards Stupochky; the Wagner PMC units continued to attack Ukrainian forces from the central, southern, and northern parts of Bakhmut and intensified efforts to advance towards the T0506 highway. The Defense Forces repelled 22 Russian attacks in the Bakhmut direction, including in the city of Bakhmut and near Khromove.
  • The enemy unsuccessfully attacked near Avdiivka, Kamianka, Pervomaiske, Vodyane, and Nevelske. The Defense Forces repelled numerous Russian attacks on Maryinka, Pobeda, Prechystivka, and Vuhledar, and counterattacked in the area of Krasnohorivka. Fighting continues in the vicinity of Novobakhmutivka.
Change in enemy disposition:
  • The 80th separate reconnaissance battalion “Sparta” is deployed in the Vodyane area, supported by the 14th artillery brigade “Kalmius”; the 5th separate mechanized brigade of the 1st army corps carries out combat operations in the Maryinka area.
Escalation indicators:
  • Russian forces have used the TOS-1A near Novodanylivka (36 km southwest of Hulyaipole).
Possible operation situation developments:
  • In the short term, the Defense Forces will continue to pursue their chosen strategy of dealing the enemy maximum losses in close combat on the main force concentrations fronts, partly due to the shortage of ammunition for artillery.
Azov-Black Sea Maritime Operational Area:
  • Over the past month, modern Russian ships and submarines, including those carrying Kalibr missiles, have been relocated to Novorossiysk. Sevastopol is mainly used for maintaining Soviet-era ships and vessels (35+ years old) undergoing repairs in Russian shipyards. Nevertheless, the anti-submarine defenses of naval bases in Crimea, particularly in Sevastopol, have been significantly reinforced.
  • There are 11 enemy ships at sea, patrolling the areas near the coast of Novorossiysk and Crimea. Among them, two Project 636.3 submarines are carriers of Kalibr missiles, located in the firing position near Novorossiysk. Together, they can carry up to 8 Kalibr missiles.
  • The Russian Black Sea Fleet conducted naval tactical exercises in the northeastern part of the Black Sea. The crews of the frigate Admiral Makarov and the anti-ship corvette Eysk practiced searching for enemy submarines and conducted simulated torpedo firing.
  • Five missile carriers capable of carrying up to 36 missiles each are located in Novorossiysk: the corvettes “Graivoron”, “Ingushetia”, “Vyshny Volochyok”, the frigate “Admiral Makarov”, and the submarine “Stary Oskol”.
  • A patrol boat and two landing craft are located near the Kerch Bridge in the Azov Sea. In the Temryuk base, there are three “Shmel” artillery boats.
  • Enemy aviation has significantly increased flights from the Crimean airfields of Belbek, Saki, Dzhankoy, and Hvardiyske over the sea. Six fighter aircraft from the Saki and Belbek airfields were involved in controlling the surface and air situation in the northwestern part of the Black Sea (the number decreased due to poor weather conditions). Control of the air situation and operational-tactical aviation over the Azov Sea was carried out by A-50U and Il-22 AWACS aircraft.
  • During the night of April 20-21, there were loud explosions in Sevastopol. According to the occupation authorities, this is related to measures against underwater sabotage defense. Considering the nighttime nature of the event, it is unlikely that it was a planned military exercise by the Russian Federation. Similar explosions have already occurred in Sevastopol and Yevpatoria on April 18 and 19.
  • On April 20th, a sudden inspection of the military command and forces of the Pacific Fleet of the Russian Navy was concluded. The exercise included the interaction between combat ship units and long-range aviation aircraft, as well as the search and destruction of a simulated enemy submarine. Six Tu-22M3 long-range bombers were involved in the exercise, performing flights in the airspace of the eastern part of Russia and over the waters of the Sea of Okhotsk and the Japan Sea. As a result of the inspection, 65-year-old Admiral S. Avakyants, who had been the commander of the Pacific Fleet since 2012, was dismissed from his post. The candidacy of 54-year-old Admiral V. Liini, the commander of the Baltic Fleet, is being considered for the position of the Pacific Fleet commander (he was the chief of staff of the Russian Navy from 2016 to 2019).
  • “The Grain Initiative”. Samantha Power, the head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), stressed that there is no alternative to implementing the Black Sea Grain Initiative and that the Kremlin must stop creating obstacles and refrain from using food as a weapon.
  • On April 17, 2023, Russia once again blocked ship inspections in Turkey’s territorial waters for vessels carrying grain through the “grain corridor”. Following the second blockade by Russia, Vice Prime Minister for Reconstruction and Minister of Development of Communities, Territories, and Infrastructure, Alexander Kubrakov, stated that inspections of ships carrying grain through the “grain corridor” will resume. Since the start of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, 903 ships have exported 28.3 million tons of grain from Ukraine to countries in need.
Russian operational losses from 24.02.22 to 21.04.23

Personnel – almost 185,050 people (+630);

Tanks – 3,668 (+1);

Armored combat vehicles – 7,126 (+6);

Artillery systems – 2,827 (+2)

Multiple rocket launchers (MLRS) – 539 (0); Anti-aircraft warfare systems – 285 (0); Vehicles and fuel tanks – 5,713 (+6); Aircraft – 308 (0);

Helicopters – 293 (0);

UAV operational and tactical level – 2,394 (+8); Intercepted cruise missiles – 911 (0);

Boats/ships – 18 (0).

Ukraine, general news

According to the Deputy Head of the Committee on National Security, Defense and Intelligence, Yuriy Aristov, Ukraine estimates the total damage caused by Russia’s invasion to be $143.8 billion, which includes direct and documented material losses. The largest share of the damage is attributed to residential buildings (37.3%) and infrastructure (25.2%), according to Ukrainian authorities.

The direct losses inflicted by Russia on Ukrainian infrastructure, industrial facilities, and production logistics have reached almost $50 billion, according to the Executive Director of UkraineInvest, Sergey Tsivkach, during the online forum “FIT for Ukraine: logistics hubs and industrial parks.” About 22.5% of warehouse facilities suffered due to full-scale Russian aggression in Ukraine. Approximately 382,000 square meters of warehouse space have been completely or partially destroyed, significantly decreasing the total volume from over 2.5 million square meters before the war. Tsivkach noted that some of the ruined logistics complexes have already been rebuilt.

Minister Viktor Lyashko has stated that the Ukrainian Ministry of Health has observed an increase in the sales of medications related to mental health problems, as reported by Ukrinform. “We are seeing an increase in the sales of medications related to mental health problems. People often buy tranquilizers, sleeping pills. And this has been increasing since the beginning of the war. We see an increase in the sales of these drugs month after month, and here we also appeal to all people not to rush to buy these drugs. Usually, you need to consult with your family doctor, first and foremost with a psychologist, and many methods will allow you to improve your mental health without medication,” Lyashko said. The Minister emphasized that Ukrainian society has had a stigma about turning to a psychologist or psychiatrist, dating back to Soviet times.

International diplomatic aspect

“Our common efforts have made a huge difference to Ukraine defenders on the battlefield,” the U.S. Defense Secretary said, opening the 11th Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting. So far, the group has provided more than $55 billion in security assistance. The Allies have already delivered more than 230 MBTs and 1550 armored vehicles. The U.S. will deliver 31 Abrahams MBTs to Germany by the end of May, so the training of Ukrainian soldiers may begin earlier than planned. The U.K. has supplied over 10,000 anti-tank missiles, 200,000 rounds of artillery ammunition, hundreds of anti-aircraft guns, self-propelled artillery, and more. A total of 14,000 Ukrainian recruits have been trained in the U.K. and 16,000 in the E.U. countries. Canada pledged an additional CAD39 million assistance package, including 3.3 million liters of fuel supplies, modular floatation bridge assets, forty .50 caliber sniper rifles and ammunition, and new radio sets (16 total) from L3 Harris to accompany the Leopard 2. Ukraine, Germany, and Poland signed the Letter of Intent for establishing a Maintenance and Service Center in Poland for Leopard 2 MBTs of Ukraine. “I’m happy to have a green light for our close cooperation with NSPA, NATO’s procurement agency. This will include the National Procurement Review and best-in-the-league advice to [Ukraine’s Defense Ministry],” Oleksii Reznikov tweeted.

Dmitriy Medvedev’s reaction to Boris Pistorius’s statement was erratic: “The German who wants an attack on Russia must be ready for our parade in Berlin.” Pistorius, the German Defense Minister, believes that limited attacks by Ukraine on Russian territory are an acceptable tactic in repelling Russia’s invasion. “As long as no cities, civilians or civilian areas are attacked,” Boris Pistorius said, it is “completely normal for the attacked party to advance into enemy territory, for example, to cut off supply routes.” This statement represents a significant shift in thinking from just a few months ago when tank delivery and the liberation of Crimea were considered red lines. Crimea was a forbidden territory to attack, and the very idea of liberating the peninsula with arms had been seen as unacceptable. The next step should be the provision of longer-range fires to target command and control centers, logistical hubs, and other infrastructure that enables Russia’s aggression.

“Orban would have the same ability to block Ukraine as he did with Finland. There would be lots of talk and bluster, but he is playing a weak hand loudly. He would have Hungary ostracised if he actually tried to block it. And btw, Europe would be much more secure with Ukraine in NATO and Hungary outside than vice versa,” Professor Phillips P. Obrien reacted to the comment of Viktor Orban. The Hungarian PM expressed dissatisfaction with the Secretary-General’s statement that “Ukraine’s rightful place is in the Euro-Atlantic family. Ukraine’s rightful place is in NATO. And over time, our support will help you make it possible.” Viktor Orban didn’t react to Dmitriy Medvedev’s comments that Ukraine “will join the alliance in parts that by then will belong to Poland, Hungary, and Romania.” Earlier this week, the Hungarian Foreign Minister unleashed his criticism over the E.U. and NATO support for Ukraine, criticizing the organizations his country enjoys membership in for being in a bubble. “As long as we have this global majority, there is hope that this war can be brought to an end as soon as possible,” Peter Szijjarto posted on his Facebook. He claimed his government’s “pro-peace” stance on the foreground of Greater Hungary’s map, which includes parts of the territory of Ukraine, Slovakia, Romania, and Serbia.

On this day twenty-seven years ago, the first President of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, Dzhokhar Dudayev, who proclaimed the independence of the republic in July 1991, was assassinated by Russia. He fought the war of independence from the Russian Federation in 1991- 1996, which Moscow lost. Dzhokhar Dudayev famously said: “Don’t neglect the Ukrainians… Almighty Allah forbid, expelling Ukrainians or taking something away from Ukrainians. Ukrainians always come back. The Ukrainians will return and return what is theirs… When the Ukrainian sun rises, Russia will disappear.”

Russia, relevant news

The head of Duracell Russia, Yuri Korotaev, announced the company’s departure from the Russian market in a letter sent to employees. The decision to cease operations in Russia was made by the company’s shareholders, according to the letter, which “Mash” first reported. As a result, there will be no new deliveries of Duracell products to the Russian market, and the company will only sell off its existing inventory. Employment agreements with Duracell employees in Russia will be terminated.

Centre for Defence Strategies (CDS) is a Ukrainian security think tank. We operate since 2020 and are involved in security studies, defence policy research and advocacy. Currently all our activity is focused on stopping the ongoing war.

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