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CDS Daily brief (05.05.23) | CDS comments on key events

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Snapshot of the day:

General, humanitarian:

  • Russians’ attacks on residential areas and civilian infrastructure continue;
  • Ukraine returned the bodies of another 80 fallen servicemen;
  • More than 174 thousand kilometers need to be surveyed as a part of humanitarian demining efforts;
  • Russian occupation forces forcefully evacuate residents from the occupied territories, citing an intensification of hostilities.
  • Due to the full-scale Russian-Ukrainian war, 88% of Ukrainians have a high or very high level of stress;
  • The Ukrainian Armed Forces (69%) and the President (49%) are the most trusted Ukrainian institutions.


  • The Russian forces lost offensive potential in the Avdiivka direction;
  • The Russian military may prepare a false flag operation at a nuclear energy facility.

Possible operation situation developments:

  • In anticipation of the Ukrainian counteroffensive, the command of the Russian troops is trying to gain a foothold on the lines advantageous for defense.
  • The Russian forces will resume the offensive in the Avdiivka direction after restoring combat capability and reformatting the existing forces;
  • The Ukrainian Armed Forces should focus on equipping their air defense systems with capabilities to intercept aircraft flying at medium and high altitudes and distances of around 80-90 km, as well as deploying an adequate number of jamming devices for GLONASS and GPS in the tactical zone.


  • The Polish MFA has summoned the Russian Ambassador in protest of a former Russian official’s call to murder the Polish Ambassador to Moscow.
  • The Danish Defense Minister announced that, together with Germany, they would deliver eighty Leopard 1 MBTs to Ukraine by July 1st.
  • The Kremlin canceled the Victory Day celebrations, but Putin is still expected to meet with the Tajik President. Some speculate that the recent drone attack on the Kremlin on May 3 may have been used as a pretext for canceling the events related to the celebration.
  • Russia’s Defense Ministry released another report accusing the U.S. of operating biological warfare laboratories in Ukraine, making bizarre claims.
Humanitarian aspect:

Ukraine returned the bodies of another 80 fallen servicemen, the Ministry of Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories reported.

Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights Dmytro Lubinets has stated that Russia is not providing any information on Ukrainian children who have been deported, including those who have been adopted, and their current whereabouts and conditions.

Humanitarian demining

According to Oleksandr Pavlyuk, the First Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine, only 10% of the needs of the Armed Forces units and the State Special Transport Service, which are responsible for clearing liberated territories from mines, are met through international aid. The task of surveying territories with an area of more than 174,000 square kilometers, including 14,000 square kilometers of marine water areas, remains a challenge. Currently, the survey is underway in an area of 45,000 square kilometers of the liberated territories. In partnership with Tetra Tech, the Ministry of Defense plans to train 500 demining specialists per year.

Russian attacks

During a large-scale attack around 6 p.m. on May 6, Russian missiles struck two industrial enterprises in Slovyansk and Kramatorsk, located in the Donetsk Oblast of Ukraine. Fortunately, there were no casualties reported.

Over the past day, the Russian troops shelled Kherson Oblast 95 times, firing 538 shells from various weapons; three people were injured, the Head of Kherson Oblast Military administration said.

Two people were killed, and 5 were injured in Donetsk Oblast over the past day, Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk military administration, said.

Occupied territories

According to the National Resistance Center of the Ukrainian MOD, the [Russian] occupying authorities in Crimea have started creating water and food reserves as they fear the possibility of being blocked. Additionally, a plan has been developed to evacuate employees of the occupation administration and their family members from the temporarily occupied parts of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson Oblasts to Crimea. Most of the collaborators from the towns on the Arabat Spit have already left the region.

According to the legally elected Melitopol mayor Ivan Fedorov, local residents of Polohy, Tokmak, and Molochansk in Zaporizhzhia Oblast report that the [Russian] occupying authorities are urgently organizing the evacuation of civilians to Berdyansk, citing an “escalation on the line of hostilities.” Mayor Fedorov expressed concern that the occupiers are once again forcing the evacuation of people, including children. The situation is also similar to Enerhodar.

Operational situation General conclusion:
  • The Russian military focuses on offensive actions in the Lyman, Bakhmut and Maryinka directions.
  • The Russian forces lost offensive potential in the Avdiivka direction;
  • The liberation of Spartak by the Ukrainian Defense Forces enables them to surround the enemy in this area and launch counterattacks from Spartak and Krasnohorivka in the direction of Vesele.
  • The Russian military may prepare a false flag operation at a nuclear energy facility.
Change in the line of contact (LoC):
  • The Ukrainian Defense Forces repelled over 60 Russian attacks in various directions, with Bakhmut and Maryinka being in the epicenter of hostilities.
  • Mutual artillery shelling and reconnaissance continued along the contact line in the Kupyansk direction.
  • Units of the 78th motorized rifle regiment of the 42nd motorized rifle division of the 58th army and the Chechen detachment “Akhmat-Sevier” have broken through Ukrainian defenses at the “Zahidna” filter station in southeastern Bilohorivka, unblocking supply routes for their forces in the town. The enemy tank units of the 2nd army corps are preparing to launch an offensive from Bilohorivka towards Siversk.
  • Russian units attempted to advance near Bohdanivka, Markove, New York, Maryinka, and Novomykhailivka but were unsuccessful. However, they did manage to capture two quarters in the western part of Bakhmut and achieved minor successes west of Novobakhmutivka. Additionally, they pushed Ukrainian Defence Forces out of positions on the outskirts of Pervomaiske and advanced towards western Maryinka.
  • The Ukrainian Defense Forces launched successful counterattacks northwest of Kurdyumivka and near Staromykhailivka, penetrating the Russian defenses in the Avdiivka area and liberating the village of Spartak (this information is still being verified).
  • The enemy units of the 291st motorized rifle regiment of the 42nd motorized rifle division and 291st artillery brigade of the 58th Army of the Southern Military District repelled Ukrainian reconnaissance units near Orikhiv. Russian units of the 22nd separate SOF brigade repelled a local attack by a unit of the Ukrainian Defense Forces.
Change in enemy disposition:
  • The Russian “Center” grouping is undergoing troop regrouping in the Kreminna-Lyman direction. The 124th separate motorized rifle brigade of the 2nd army corps has been withdrawn to the reserve and replaced by units of the 228th motorized rifle regiment of the 90th tank division, reinforced by remnants of the 374th separate special battalion of the 2nd army corps, currently deployed in the area of Pryvillya. Additionally, the 245th motorized rifle regiment of the 47th tank division of the 1st tank army has been restored to the reserves of the “Center” grouping command.
  • Over the past week, Russian forces have deployed the 116th separate rifle regiment of the 1st army corps of the 8th army to the “Vostok” troop grouping’s zone in the direction of Novopavlivka. To the south, in the direction of Maryinka – Kurakhove, the enemy is continuing to deploy additional units of the 150th motorized rifle division of the 8th Army with the aim of engaging in battle in the directions of Slavne – Novomykhailivka and Maryinka – Pobieda.
  • The Russian military is accumulating troops and stocks of explosives near the 4th power unit of the ZNPP.
Escalation indicators:
  • During the Russian missile attack on Ukraine on April 28th, one of the Kh-101 (or Kh-555) cruise missiles entered Polish airspace and hit an unknown object without causing any damage.
  • The Russian troops’ command maintains a squadron of Su-34 bombers (consisting of 8 units) and a wing of Su-30cm fighters (3 units) at the Baranovichi air base in the Republic of Belarus.
  • The enemy has formed and deployed at least three specialized units (possibly up to a squadron) as part of their Air Force and Air Defense Forces, designed to use “Shakhed” type operational-tactical level attack UAVs. These units are believed to be organized into a separate regiment.
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 the Ukrainian counteroffensive, the command of the Russian troops is trying to gain a foothold on the lines advantageous for their defense.
  • The Russian forces are preparing to resume offensive operations in the Avdiivka direction after reorganizing their existing forces and restoring their combat capabilities.
  • The Ukrainian Armed Forces should focus on improving their air defense capabilities to intercept aircraft at medium and high altitudes, with a range of 80-90 km. Additionally, they should consider deploying a sufficient number of GLONASS and GPS jamming devices in the tactical zone.
Azov-Black Sea Maritime Operational Area:
  • As of May 5, seven Russian ships were patrolling the areas near the coast of Crimea. One of the ships was a carrier of Kalibr missiles, capable of carrying up to eight Kalibr missiles.
  • On May 4, the enemy’s anti-aircraft systems again intensified activity in Crimea, allegedly to counter drones.
  • Russian aviation continues to fly from the Crimean airfields of Belbek, Saky, Dzhankoy and Hvardiyske over the sea. 6 fighter aircraft from Belbek and Saki Air Force Bases, namely two Su-27/30, three Su-30SM, and one MiG-29K, were involved in monitoring the surface and air conditions in the northwestern part of the Black Sea. Control of the airspace and operational-tactical aviation over the Azov Sea was carried out by A-50U and Il-22 AWACS aircraft.
  • A Tu-204-300 passenger plane (registration number RA-64057) from the special flight unit of the Russian Air Force took off from the Belbek military airfield in the direction of Moscow.
  • In the western part of the Black Sea, along the coast of Romania, electronic reconnaissance aircraft of the Polish border service L-410UVP-E20, the Italian Air Force G-550AEW, the US Air Force EP-3E, as well as the reconnaissance UAV RQ-4B worked alternately over the southern part of the Black Sea.
  • The enemy has taken measures to build engineering fortifications and earth defense structures along the western coast of the Black Sea and in the northern regions of Crimea.
  • The intensity of the military equipment movement by road and rail transport from Crimea to Kherson Oblast remains stable, with the arrival of freight trains that unload military equipment and ammunition at the stations “Kalanchak”, “Brylivka” and “Novooleksiyivka”.
“The Grain Initiative”
  • The meeting of the participants of the grain agreement, previously scheduled for April 5, has been postponed to a later date. Only technical consultations regarding the continuation of the initiative were held on May 5.
Russian operational losses from 24.02.22 to 05.05.23

Personnel – almost 193,210 people (+620);

Tanks 3,710 (+3);

Armored combat vehicles – 7,224 (+8);

Artillery systems – 2,978 (+16)

Multiple rocket launchers (MLRS) – 550 (+3); Anti-aircraft warfare systems – 304 (+0); Vehicles and fuel tanks – 5,916 (+30); Aircraft – 308 (0);

Helicopters – 294 (0);

UAV operational and tactical level – 2,540 (+17); Intercepted cruise missiles – 947 (0);

Boats/ships – 18 (0).

Ukraine, general news

According to a study conducted by Gradus Research, 88% of Ukrainians have a high or very high stress level due to the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian war. This is an increase of 5% compared to April 2022. Additionally, 50% of respondents reported feeling tired, and 43% feel hopeful.

According to the survey, 69% of Ukrainians trust the Armed Forces, making it the most trusted institution. 49% of respondents said they trust President Volodymyr Zelensky. Volunteer organizations held third place, with 27% of citizens expressing trust in them. The study also showed that Ukrainians trust doctors (20%), charitable organizations (16%), and the National Police (12%). However, the level of public trust in the Cabinet of Ministers (9%), the National Bank (6%), and the Verkhovna Rada (5%) is much lower.

International diplomatic aspect

Leopard 1 MBTs promised by Denmark and Germany would be ready to be deployed in Ukraine by July, the Danish Defence Minister announced. Though Troels Lund Poulsen mentioned eighty tanks, the overall promise of Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands was a hundred MBTs. “We can expand our production to 600-700 thousand artillery shells per year,” said Rheinmetall CEO Armin Papperger.

“The Polish side expressed a firm protest regarding the situation and expectation of an immediate initiation of criminal proceedings and immediate punishment of the perpetrator,” the MFA reported after summoning the Russian Ambassador to Warsaw. The reason for this was a statement made on air by the former children’s ombudsman of Russia, who suggested that the murder of the Polish ambassador to Russia would be “within the framework of international law” in response to what he deemed as “anti-Russian actions” of the Polish authorities. The relationship between Poland and Russia has historically been tense but has reached a new low as Russia has adopted extremist rhetoric. It is now commonplace on Russian television to hear threats of nuclear strikes against Ukraine and NATO countries, calls for the murder of Ukrainian civilians, and destroying civilian infrastructure. While a propagandist who called for the drowning of Ukrainian children was fired and then reinstated, other instances have gone unpunished. Russia’s media environment resembles Orwell’s “two minutes hate,” but it is now extended to 1,440 minutes per day.

There will be no traditional reception at the Kremlin on the occasion of Victory Day this year, Putin’s press secretary announced. Military parades and related ceremonies have been part and parcel of Putin’s neo-imperial ideology. The Russians monopolized the victory in the Second World War, denying the role of their Western Allies and Ukraine. The propaganda machine has been exploiting the theme of fighting Nazism then and portraying Ukraine as a new Nazi country now. In the Russian worldview, formed by school and University curriculum, the West was equally guilty of the start of the war. Russians have rejected the fact that the secret protocol to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was the starting of the division of Europe by two equally brutal regimes that started the war. Russians believe the war started on the 22nd of June 1941, not on the 1st of September when the Nazis invaded Poland or on the 17th of September with the Soviet invasion of Eastern Poland. Though the German Instrument of Surrender was signed on the 8th of May and the Japanese Instrument of Surrender was signed on the 2nd of September 1945, the Russians celebrated Victory Day on the 9th of May. It may well be that the drone attack on the Kremlin on the 3rd of May is aimed at justification for canceling the celebration-related events. However, Putin won’t celebrate not his victory alone; the President of Tajikistan may make him a company.

Russia’s Defence Ministry released another report with bizarre accusations of the U.S. for running biological warfare laboratories in Ukraine. “The main objectives of the research conducted in Askania-Nova were to collect and transfer to the customer – the U.S. Defense Department – strains of especially dangerous and economically significant infections, to study their possible impact on the biological situation in the region, as well as to determine the ability of selected pathogens to cause large-scale outbreaks among people, by analogy with the novel coronavirus pandemic,” the report reads. The bio laboratories hoax is aimed at propaganda and exploiting conspiracy theories lovers in the West and the Global South.

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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