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CDS Daily brief (03.05.23) | CDS comments on key events

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Snapshot of the day:

General, humanitarian:

  • At night Russian military attacked Ukraine with drones. Ukrainian Defense Forces reported that they shot down 21 out of 26 UAVs.
  • On the morning of May 3, Russian troops massively shelled Kherson and Kherson Oblast, killing at least 21 and injuring 48 people.
  • 56 journalists were killed during the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation.
  • 97% of retail stores in Ukraine have reopened since the full-scale aggression.


  • The Ukrainian Defense Forces have managed to regain the initiative on the battlefield in some areas of Bakhmut, successfully launching several counterattacks within the city.
  • The enemy is utilizing attack UAVs in an attempt to exhaust the air defense systems of the Ukrainian Defense Forces, detect the positions of anti-aircraft and radar systems, and exert psychological pressure on the civilian population with night attacks.
  • The Defense Forces are continuing to conduct the mobile defense in Bakhmut.


  • The Biden Administration announced another $300 million worth of security package. Denmark did not rule out the possibility of providing F-16s. The E.U. finally greenlighted the procurement of badly needed artillery rounds.
  • The Nordic countries expressed their support for Ukraine’s NATO membership and Ukraine’s Peace Formula.
  • Russia accused Ukraine of a drone attack, while Zelensky rejected the accusations. Whoever is behind the drone attack shows Russia’s vulnerability and, obviously, overestimated air defense capabilities in terms of technology and quantity.
Humanitarian aspect:

According to a report during the round table discussion “Shot Freedom of Speech. Journalists are Targets of the Russian Military Offensive,” the number of journalists killed during the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation into Ukraine has reached 56. Katerina Dyachuk, the head of the freedom of speech monitoring department at the Institute of Mass Information (IMI), stated that “since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, we have recorded nine cases of journalist killings while performing their professional journalistic activities. The latest case is Bogdan Bitik, who died in Kherson on April 26. In total, 56 media workers have been killed during this time.” Dyachuk also noted that in April alone, the IMI recorded five cases of media representatives’ deaths who went to the front lines to defend Ukraine. As of May 1, Russia has committed 511 crimes against journalists and the media. Currently, 14 cases of missing journalists and 21 instances of kidnapped journalists are known.

Russian attacks

At night Russian military attacked Ukraine with drones. Ukrainian Defense Forces reported that they shot down 21 out of 26 UAVs. According to the command of the Ukrainian Air Force, the drones were launched from the Bryansk region and the eastern coast of the Azov Sea.

  • According to Serhiy Popko, the head of the Kyiv City Military Administration, all drones launched at Kyiv were detected and shot down. This was the third aerial attack on Kyiv in the past six days. According to preliminary information, there were no casualties or damage.
  • Seven Iranian drones were shot down over Dnipropetrovsk Oblast at night. One of the drones damaged an administrative building in Dnipro, causing a fire. There were no casualties.
  • In Mykolaiv Oblast, a drone hit a private house in Kutsurub village. There were no casualties. Another drone was shot down.
  • In Kirovohrad Oblast, three drones hit an oil depot in Kropyvnytskyi, causing a fire.

On the morning of May 3, Russian troops massively shelled Kherson and other populated areas of Kherson Oblast, killing 21 people and injuring 48, according to the latest information.

  • The only working hypermarket in Kherson was hit by Russian shelling around 11 am, resulting in three deaths and five injuries among employees and visitors of the store.
  • During the attack on the “ATB” supermarket in Kherson, four people were killed, and 30 were injured.
  • The Russian forces shelled the railway station in Kherson, two people were killed and eight were injured. Fortunately, boarding had not yet begun at the time of the attack, and the passengers were in a secure shelter. Despite a delay of 14 minutes, the train to Lviv, which had 116 passengers on board, departed from Kherson. The damaged cars will be replaced in Mykolaiv.
  • The shelling also damaged an ambulance, but no medical personnel were injured.
  • Three people were killed due to the shelling of Stepanivka. The victims were employees of the regional energy company who were performing emergency repair work in the village, said Alexander Prokudin, the head of the regional administration.

On May 3, a round-the-clock curfew was announced in Kherson, which will last for two and a half days – from 20:00 on May 5 to 6:00 on May 8.

Operational situation General conclusion:
  • The enemy is concentrating its main efforts on conducting offensive operations in the Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Maryinka directions;
  • The Ukrainian Defense Forces have regained the initiative on the battlefield in some areas of Bakhmut, launching several successful counterattacks within the city.
  • The enemy, using attack UAVs, is trying to exhaust the air defense systems of the Ukrainian Defense Forces, detect the positions of anti-aircraft and radar systems, and exert psychological pressure on the civilian population with night attacks.
  • The Ukrainian Defense Forces continue to conduct the mobile defense in Bakhmut.
Change in the line of contact (LoC):
  • Units of the Defense Forces repelled over 30 enemy attacks on various fronts. Bakhmut and Maryinka remain the epicenters of hostilities.
  • The enemy suffered setbacks while attacking near Novoselivka, Dibrova, Bilohorivka, Nevske, and Torske. Positional battles have erupted near Ploschanka and Zhuravka gully.
  • There have been 17 clashes in the area of Bakhmut. The Ukrainian Defense Forces launched an attack on units of the “Wagner” PMC on the northern outskirts of Bakhmut and repelled them. They also carried out a series of counterattacks in the city center; the fighting is ongoing. The enemy has lost control of at least 10 residential blocks.
  • Enemy units achieved minor success northeast of the H0506 highway near Khromove, but unsuccessfully attacked near Ivanivske, Predtechyne, Bohdanivka, towards Oleksandro- Shultyne, Severne, Pervomaiske, and Maryinka.
  • The Ukrainian Defense Forces successfully counterattacked in the Avdiivka and Maryinka areas, improved their tactical position in the Vodyane area, attacked the Troitske area, and advanced 1.5 km there.
  • The Ukrainian Defense Forces carried out a raid in the southern area of Kherson, near the port. They are also continuing to launch artillery strikes on key military-technical facilities of the Russian Armed Forces in Zaporizhzhia Oblast. Additionally, they are using drones to target enemy rear objects in the territory of Crimea.
Change in enemy disposition:
  • The 10th Separate Special Operations Brigade, which operated on the Izyum, Mykolaiv- Kryvyi Rih, and Kherson directions, suffered significant losses among professional servicemen.

Escalation indicators: not identified.

Possible operation situation developments:
  • In the short-term perspective, the Ukrainian Defense Forces will adhere to their chosen strategy of inflicting maximum damage on the enemy in close combat on the main concentration areas.
  • In anticipation of a Ukrainian counterattack, the enemy’s military command is trying to capture and consolidate advantageous defensive positions.
Azov-Black Sea Maritime Operational Area:
  • As of May 3, there were 5 enemy ships in the sea. They were patrolling areas near the coast of Novorossiysk and Crimea. Among them is one Project 636.3 submarine – a carrier of Kalibr missiles with up to 4 missiles.
  • There is an enemy corvette in the Azov Sea near the Kerch bridge.
  • During the day, in the interests of Russia, 11 vessels passed through the Kerch-Yenikal Strait to the Sea of Azov, two of which were headed towards the Bosphorus Strait, and 33 ships passed through to the Black Sea, eight of which continued their movement in the direction of the Bosphorus Strait.
  • Russia continues to violate the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) of 1974 by turning off the Automatic Identification System (AIS) on civilian ships in the Azov Sea waters.
  • The enemy’s aviation continues flights over the sea from the Crimean airfields of Belbek, Saki, Dzhankoy, and Hvardiyske. Six fighter jets from the Saki and Belbek airfields were involved in controlling the surface and air situation in the northwestern part of the Black Sea: two Su-27/30, two Su-30SM, and two MiG-29K.
  • Control of the airspace and operational-tactical aviation over the Azov Sea was carried out by A-50U and Il-22 AWACS aircraft.
  • On May 02, a sea mine was detected and neutralized near the coast of Odesa. The operation was carried out by a unit of divers from the Ukrainian Navy.
Russian operational losses from 24.02.22 to 03.05.23

Personnel – almost 191,940 people (+520);

Tanks – 3,702 (+1);

Armored combat vehicles – 7,199 (+6);

Artillery systems – 2,946 (+16)

Multiple rocket launchers (MLRS) – 544 (0); Anti-aircraft warfare systems – 300 (+2); Vehicles and fuel tanks – 5,865 (+14); Aircraft – 308 (0);

Helicopters – 294 (0);

UAV operational and tactical level – 2,505 (+28); Intercepted cruise missiles – 947 (0);

Boats/ships – 18 (0).

Ukraine, general news

The European Commission announced a temporary ban on imports of Ukrainian wheat, corn, rapeseed, and sunflower seeds into Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia from May 2 to June 5, 2023. However, as before, agricultural products can still be exported to other EU member states.

According to the Ukrainian Retail Association (RAU), as of the end of April, 97% of retail stores in Ukraine have reopened. This is an improvement from the start of the full-scale invasion, when many stores had to close. The retail sector’s recovery has been ongoing since April 2022 and continues, although the overall indicator of working stores has only improved by one percent per month since the beginning of 2023. Grocery stores have had a better recovery rate, with 98% already resuming operations, and the non-food sector is also doing well, with 99% of store networks operating. In the fashion retail sector, 86% of network stores have reopened, with less than a hundred stores remaining closed.

International diplomatic aspect

The U.S. will provide another security assistance aid worth $300 million, including HIMARS rockets, 155mm Howitzers and rounds for them, anti-tank missiles, AT-4 and Carl Gustaf anti- armor weapon systems, Hydra-70 aircraft rockets, and more. After weeks of discussions, ambassadors from E.U. countries have agreed on the details of a €1 billion joint ammunition purchase scheme. The scheme aims to help increase the capabilities of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. It comes at a critical time when delays in such support could increase vulnerabilities on the eve of a counteroffensive. The Danish Prime Minister said that F-16 delivery to Ukraine is not off the table. Ukraine’s President hopes that Ukraine will get Western jets after the successful counteroffensive.

Volodymyr Zelensky made a surprise visit to Finland. In the Joint statement of the Nordic- Ukrainian Summit in Helsinki, leaders of Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden expressed their support for Ukraine’s Peace Formula and forthcoming Global Peace Summit. The Nordic countries underlined their “firm commitment to bringing to justice those responsible for war crimes and other atrocity crimes committed in connection with Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine”. They expressed their support for the “establishment of an appropriate mechanism (a special tribunal) for prosecuting the crime of aggression.” The Nordic NATO members “will continue to support Ukraine on its path towards future membership,” for they believe that the “future of Ukraine and its people lies within the Euro-Atlantic family.”

“After today’s terrorist attack, there are no options left except for the physical removal of Zelenskyi and his clique. It is not even needed to sign the act of unconditional surrender,” Dmitriy Medvedev overreacted on the news of an alleged drone attack in the heart of Moscow. However, Volodymyr Zelensky denied Ukraine’s involvement. “We didn’t attack Putin. We leave it to a tribunal,” Ukraine’s President said. “I would take anything coming out of the Kremlin with a very large shaker of salt,” Antony Blinken replied to the question about the attack. Earlier, Russia said it had foiled a Ukrainian drone attack on Vladimir Putin’s residence at the Kremlin. Whoever is behind the drone attack shows Russia’s vulnerability and, obviously, overestimated air defense capabilities in terms of technology and quantity. Besides Ukraine, Putin should fear homegrown hawks who aren’t happy with the prospects of Russia’s strategic defeat in a poorly waged war that has no good options for the country.

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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