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CDS Daily brief (12.05.23) | CDS comments on key events

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Snapshot of the day:

General, humanitarian:

  • Over the past day, the Russian forces hit 9 Ukrainian Oblasts; at least two people died, and 24 were injured.
  • Ukrainians are ready to donate the largest sums to organizations that help the army, according to the Kantar online Track survey.
  • Ukrainians who refuse to obtain Russian passports in the occupied town of Svatove, Luhansk Oblast, are subject to salary reductions as a form of punishment.


  • Counterattacks by the Ukrainian Defense Forces in the Khromove and Ivanove areas are aimed at reducing pressure on their logistics routes passing along the 0506 and 0504 highways, and are not attempts to surround Russian troops in Bakhmut.
  • The deployment of Russian military units with low combat potential on the flanks of its Bakhmut grouping suggests that there are no plans to conduct an operation to encircle the city.

Possible operation situation developments:

  • The Russian military is unlikely to halt its attempts to capture Bakhmut and will likely shift towards defensive positions in the directions of Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Maryinka. Moreover, they may prepare for an offensive operation to capture Kupyansk, which could be launched simultaneously with the start of the Ukrainian Defense Forces’ counteroffensive.
  • Defense Forces will continue to shape the operational space, preparing favorable conditions for a counteroffensive operation.


  • Russia’s response to Storm Shadows provided to Ukraine was rather weak, once again showing that fears of Russia’s horizontal and vertical escalation are unfounded.
  • The Polish Senate unanimously adopted a resolution on expedited NATO membership for Ukraine.
  • Belgium is to transfer $100 million of taxable income on frozen Russian assets to Ukraine.
  • Hungary blocks another Russian sanction package.
  • South Africa has summoned the U.S. Ambassador following his accusations that a Russian ship was loaded with weapons and ammunition in Cape Town last December.
  • Vladimir Putin is unhappy with the significant outflow of Russians in 2022, the largest since the collapse of the Soviet Union. He has issued a decree to prevent future outflows and promote “patriotism” through education.
  • Lithuanian Parliament considers renaming Kaliningrad to Karaliaučius.
Russian attacks

Over the past day, Russian forces targeted 9 Ukrainian Oblasts, resulting in at least 2 deaths and 24 injuries.

  • Russian forces launched 95 attacks, hitting 24 towns and villages in Zaporizhzhia Oblast. 88 reports of civilian objects being destroyed were filed, but there were no reported casualties.
  • In Donetsk Oblast, the Russian forces carried out 30 attacks on at least 14 towns and villages, damaging 44 residential buildings (including 13 multi-apartment buildings), an office building, a cinema, and 4 civilian cars. 12 people were wounded and 1 person was reported killed.
  • Chernihiv Oblast was shelled 5 times with rockets from a helicopter, mortars, artillery, and guided aerial bombs. In 2 border villages, 4 private houses were damaged, two local residents were injured.
  • Sumy Oblast was subjected to 2 mortar attacks during the night and morning, and 17 shelling incidents at the border throughout the day. Over 80 explosions were recorded. A bridge on a local highway was destroyed. 2 private residential buildings were damaged.
  • In Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, the Russian military continues to shell the Nikopol district, with heavy artillery strikes reported in the communities of Nikopol, Marhanets, and Myrivska. There have been no reports of casualties or injuries.
  • In Kharkiv Oblast, 22 towns and villages were targeted by Russian forces in two directions. In Velykiy Burluk village of Kupyansk district, the market’s trade pavilions, at least 7 private residential buildings, a courthouse, and a lyceum were damaged. Private cars and the KP “Vodokanal” transportation were also destroyed, leading to a fire. A 16- year-old girl and 2 women were injured and hospitalized. In Vovchansk, a private residential building was damaged, and an 88-year-old woman was injured and hospitalized due to shelling.
  • In Luhansk Oblast, Stelmakhivka, Makiivka, Nevske, and Bilohorivka were hit by Russian shelling. The enemy also carried out airstrikes on Grekivka and Bilohorivka. In the span of one day, the enemy fired a total of 96 rounds, which included 417 shells.
  • In Mykolaiv Oblast, the enemy artillery shelled the water area of the Ochakiv community in the morning. In the Kutsurub community, two residential buildings were damaged by multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS). There were no casualties reported.
  • In Kherson Oblast, there were 80 instances of shelling (339 shells fired), including four attacks (with 12 shells) on the city of Kherson. The Russian forces targeted a communal transport company, a multi-disciplinary gymnasium, a hospital building, and the territory and buildings of two critical infrastructure enterprises in the city. One person died and four others were injured.

Due to the damage caused by hostilities, some consumers in Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, Sumy, Kharkiv, Kherson and Chernihiv Oblasts remain without power. The Ministry of Energy emphasizes that the Russian military still targets Ukraine’s energy infrastructure in the frontline and border areas adjacent to the Russian Federation.

Occupied territories

According to the Luhansk Oblast Military Administration, the pressure on the local population in [the Russia-occupied territories of] Luhansk Oblast is increasing daily. Those who refuse to take Russian passports in Svatove have 30% deducted from their wages.

Operational situation General conclusion:
  • The Russian military focuses on offensive actions in the Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Maryinka directions.
  • Counterattacks by the Ukrainian Defense Forces in the Khromove and Ivanove areas are not attempts to surround Russian troops in Bakhmut but rather measures to reduce pressure on logistics routes passing along the 0506 and 0504 highways.
  • The deployment of Russian military units with lower combat potential on the flanks of its Bakhmut grouping suggests that there are no plans to conduct an operation to encircle the city.
Change in the line of contact (LoC):
  • Units of the Ukrainian Defense Forces repulsed over 44 Russian attacks in different directions. Heavy battles are fought for Bakhmut and Maryinka.
  • Russian troops conducted unsuccessful attacks and offensive actions in the area of Serebryansk Forestry, Masyutivka, Stelmakhivka, Makiivka, Bilohorivka, Stupochky, in the city of Bakhmut, in the areas of Avdiivka, Maryinka, Novomykhailivka.
  • Units of the 80th separate airborne assault brigade and the 3rd separate assault brigade pushed back Russian forces from the section of the T0504 highway Bakhmut-Chasiv Yar in the southwest of Bakhmut. Units of the 92nd Separate Motorized Brigade and the Kalinowski Belarusian Volunteer Regiment pushed the enemy back from the O0506 highway towards Berkhivka and Yahidne. Ukrainian Defense Forces advanced northwest of Bakhmut in the areas of Bohdanivka and Khromove; restored positions to the south and southwest of Ivanivske, and to the west of Klishchiivka. During Ukrainian counterattacks, the enemy units of the 4th and 374th separate motorized rifle brigades of the 2nd Army Corps abandoned their positions northwest of Klishchiivka.
  • Russian forces have achieved minor successes west of Kamianka and northeast of Opytne, and continued ground attacks near the H20 highway west of Novobakhmutivka.
  • The Ukrainian Defense Forces launched a counterattack and crossed the Shaitanka River near Novooleksandrivka.
  • Fighting is ongoing on the island of Velykyi Potiomkin in the Dnipro Delta to the south of Kherson.
Change in enemy disposition:
  • Artillery units of the 6th Army operate near Vilshany.
Escalation indicators:
  • Russian forces have increased the intensity of shelling on the positions of Ukrainian Defense Forces and rear objects in the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson Oblasts.
Possible operation situation developments:
  • The enemy is expected to persist in their efforts to capture Bakhmut and gradually shift to a defensive posture in the Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Maryinka directions. They are also preparing for an offensive operation to capture Kupyansk, which may be launched simultaneously with the start of the Ukrainian Defense Forces’ counteroffensive.
  • Ukrainian Defense Forces will continue to shape the operational area, creating favorable conditions for counteroffensive operations.
Azov-Black Sea Maritime Operational Area:
  • On May 12, there were 8 Russian ships at sea. They patrol the areas near the coast of the Russian Krasnodar Krai and the Kerch Strait Bridge. There are no Kalibr missile carriers.
  • Location of large landing ships:
    • LLSs “Yamal”, “Olenegorsky Gorniak”, “Georgiy Pobedonosets” are located 20 km southeast of ARKHIPO-OSIPOVKA (Krasnodar Krai);
    • LLSs “Cesar Kunikov”, “Korolyov”, “Minsk” – 25 km south of Gelendzhik (Krasnodar Krai);
    • LLS “Orsk” – the central part of the Kerch Strait;
    • LLS “Kaliningrad” – SEVASTOPOL;
    • LLS “Pyotr Morgunov” – NOVOROSSIYSK;
    • LLSs “Azov”, “Nikolay Filchenkov” and “Novocherkassk” are being repaired in the port of Sevastopol.
  • Two Project 636.3 submarines are located at the Novorossiysk bases, and two are in Sevastopol (one is under repair).
  • Russian aviation continues to fly from the Crimean airfields of Belbek, Saky, Dzhankoy and Hvardiyske over the sea. 8 fighter aircraft from Belbek and Saki Air Force Bases were involved in monitoring the surface and air conditions in the northwestern part of the Black Sea. Control of the air situation and operational-tactical aviation management over the Azov Sea were carried out by the A-50U and Il-22 AWACS aircraft.
  • Today, once again, the [Russian] occupiers shelled the waters of the Dnipro-Buzkyi estuary and the coast of the Kutsurub village community from the Kinburn Spit (Mykolaiv region), damaging two private buildings.
The “Grain Deal”
  • On May 11th, negotiations in Istanbul regarding the functioning of the Grain Initiative concluded. As signatories of the initiative, the UN and Turkey understand that it is critical for global food security and must function stably. Therefore, at their proposal, further consultations on unlocking the initiative will continue online.
  • The Ukrainian delegation has once again emphasized the need to extend and expand the Grain Initiative, as it will provide predictability and confidence to both the world and Ukrainian markets. But, first of all, it is necessary to resume the registration of the inbound fleet and conduct inspections without artificial delays and in accordance with the procedures of the Joint Coordination Center (JCC).
  • Russian state media reported today, May 12, that the agreement allowing the export of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea will be extended for 60 days. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan may announce the decision after a conversation with Putin, which may take place in the near future.
Russian operational losses from 24.02.22 to 12.05.23

Personnel – almost 197,670 people (+750);

Tanks – 3,745 (+5);

Armored combat vehicles – 7,295 (+8);

Artillery systems – 3,068 (+15)

Multiple rocket launchers (MLRS) – 559 (+2); Anti-aircraft warfare systems – 312 (+2); Vehicles and fuel tanks – 5,996 (+12); Aircraft – 308 (0);

Helicopters – 294 (0);

UAV operational and tactical level – 2,636 (+9); Intercepted cruise missiles – 970 (0);

Boats/ships – 18 (0).

Ukraine, general news

“The occupiers are already mentally prepared for their defeat. They have already lost this war in their minds. We must continue to exert pressure on them every day so that their sense of defeat turns into their retreat, their mistakes, and their losses,” President Zelensky stated in his address.

According to the Kantar online Track survey conducted in April 2023, the five most popular organizations to which Ukrainians are willing to donate money are: the army’s competent aid fund “Come back alive” – 43%, Serhiy Prytula’s charitable foundation – 42%, animal rescue organization UAnimals – 25%, UNICEF – 23%, and The Red Cross Society of Ukraine – 21%. The survey found that Ukrainians are willing to donate the largest sums to organizations that help the army, with 48% of respondents willing to contribute over 500 hryvnias. Another 35% of respondents said they would donate more than 500 hryvnias to help children.

International diplomatic aspect

“The Russian side reserves the right to take all necessary measures to neutralize the threats that may arise from the use of British cruise missiles by Ukraine. All responsibility for the consequences of the destructive activity of London lies entirely with the authors and executors of this reckless step,” was the official Russian response to the U.K. decision to provide Ukraine with Storm Shadow. Despite Russia’s inability to escalate either vertically or horizontally, some partner nations are still hesitant to provide Ukraine with the necessary means to bring an end to the conflict on Ukrainian and allied nations’ terms without incurring unnecessary losses, foremost human losses.

The Polish Senate unanimously adopted a resolution on Ukraine’s membership in NATO. It calls on the allies to give Ukraine “much more than in previous statements about the open-door policy” at the forthcoming Vilnius summit. The Senate cited the expedited process for Sweden and Finland and called on NATO member states to apply a similar procedure to Ukraine. The resolution also called on the allies to provide Ukraine with robust security guarantees, “showing the way to its membership along with strengthening political ties between NATO and Kyiv.”

“For the war to end, the counteroffensive planned by Ukraine must be successful. The additional aid that Belgium is providing today will contribute to this,” the Belgian Prime Minister said, announcing the transfer of $100 million of taxable income on frozen Russian assets.

Hungary has once again blocked a Russian sanctions package, this time demanding the exclusion of three individuals, including Uladzimir Marozau, the head of the Belarusian railways. However, there are other reasons for Hungary’s opposition. The National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption of Ukraine added OTP Bank to the list of war sponsors due to the bank’s management’s stance on continuing operations in Russia and their de facto recognition of the so-called “Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.” “The fact that OTP Bank was included in the list of international sponsors of the war in Ukraine is scandalous and unacceptable. It is shocking. It is outrageous. It is scandalous,” the Hungarian Foreign Minister said. The ruling Fidesz party’s reluctance to see Russia as an enemy is not surprising, as an IDEA survey shows that only 10 percent of Fidesz voters hold Russia responsible for the war against Ukraine. In contrast, 36 percent blame Ukraine, and 25 percent believe the U.S. is to blame. However, ordinary Hungarians hold a different view, with the majority blaming Russia (40 percent) and only 17 percent blaming Ukraine for the aggression against it.

South Africa has summoned the U.S. Ambassador following his allegations that a Russian ship was loaded with weapons and ammunition in Cape Town last December. “We are confident that weapons were loaded onto that vessel, and I would bet my life on the accuracy of that assertion,” the Ambassador said. The head of the Foreign Ministry’s public diplomacy has stated that the National Conventional Arms Control Committee has “no record of an approved arms sale by the state to Russia related to the period/incident in question.” The South African President has stated that “the matter is being looked into, and in time we will be able to speak about it.”

Vladimir Putin decided to stop the outflow of Russians with a decree on “changes to the Concept of State Migration Policy.” He believes that the largest escape of Russians from Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union (estimated at 0.55-1 million) in 2022 alone was due to the “influence of changed socio-economic conditions.” Last September (mobilization was introduced on September 21), the Russian labor market lost some 600,000 aged 18-65. “The escape angered the chief [as Russian bureaucrats call Putin among themselves]. An order was given to stop this in the future and begin to educate people in patriotism,” an official explained Putin’s decision.

Following the Polish decision to rename Kaliningrad a few days ago, Lithuanian Seimas [Parliament] proposes to give the city its historical name – Karaliaučius.

Russia, relevant news

The second largest world producer of alcohol, the French company Pernod Ricard has announced its complete exit from the Russian market.

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