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CDS Daily brief (13.05.23) | CDS comments on key events

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Snapshot of the day:

General, humanitarian:

  • 11 Ukrainian Oblasts came under Russian fire over the past day. At least 3 people died, and at least 31 were injured;
  • Ukrainians believe that the Defense Forces of Ukraine, the Ukrainian people, and volunteers made the biggest contribution to repelling the Russian invasion in the first months of the war. Ukrainians also attribute the success of the country’s defense to the leadership of President Volodymyr Zelensky and General Valery Zaluzhny;
  • Wheat production in Ukraine will decrease by 21% in 2023/2024 – USDA;
  • The health of Nariman Dzhelyal, one of the leaders of the Crimean Tatar People who was sentenced to 17 years in prison by the Russian occupation court, has deteriorated due to the harsh prison conditions;
  • Russian Investigative Committee is involved in the harsh and humiliating interrogation of civilians in the occupied Mariupol.


  • Overall, the situation is deteriorating for Russian troops as the “Wagner” PMC detachments are gradually being replaced by motorized rifle and airborne units staffed with poorly trained and unmotivated personnel, mostly personnel called up for mobilization.
  • Russian forces have shifted the direction of their attacks on Avdiivka, moving from the southwest to the east and attempting to advance from the Kruta Balka area.
  • The entire Russian rear in Luhansk Oblast is in the range of Storm Shadow missiles.

Possible operation situation developments:

  • The Russian military will continue its efforts to capture Bakhmut, will gradually move to the defense in the Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Maryinka directions, and will prepare an offensive operation to capture Kupyansk, which can be launched simultaneously with the start of the counteroffensive of the Ukrainian Defense Forces;
  • Defense forces will continue to shape the operational space, preparing favorable conditions for a counteroffensive operation.


  • Germany has announced its largest security assistance package worth nearly €2.7 billion;
  • Italian President and Prime Minister expressed their support for Ukraine. Giorgia Meloni assured Volodymyr Zelensky that Italy is “betting on Ukraine’s victory”;
  • Four Russian aircraft, two helicopters, and two fighter jets crashed in the Russian Bryansk Oblast in one day on May 13.
Russian attacks

In the early hours of May 13, Russia launched another massive air attack on Ukraine using Iranian- made Shahed-136/131 strike UAVs from the northern and southern directions. Ukrainian air defense shot down 17 out of 21 UAVs.

Overall, 11 Ukrainian Oblasts came under Russian fire over the past day. As of 9 a.m. on May 13, the situation was the following:

  • Khmelnytskyi Oblast: 4 Russian attack drones hit a critical infrastructure facility. The damaged facility is located outside population centers; the blast wave caused injuries to 21 people in adjacent villages.
  • Kyiv Oblast: Ukrainian air defense was working in the region. No hits or casualties were recorded. One private house and an outbuilding were damaged by falling debris.
  • Chernihiv Oblast: 5 instances of shelling from mortars and artillery and a UAV attack at night were recorded. One UAV was shot down. No victims or destruction were reported.
  • Sumy Oblast: during the day, the Russian forces shelled border areas 5 times. 87 explosions were recorded. No causalities or damages were reported;
  • Zaporizhzhia Oblast: Two dozes of towns and villages were affected by 87 Russian strikes resulting in the destruction of civil infrastructure and damage to homes. No casualties were reported among the residents.
  • Dnipropetrovsk Oblast: The Nikopol district was targeted again by Russian shelling, with the Marhanets community and Nikopol itself being hit. One person was injured in the attack. Rescue workers managed to free a 71-year-old woman from a severely damaged house. In total, three private homes were destroyed in the city, and seven others were damaged. Additionally, a church, an administration building, a shop, power lines, and gas pumps sustained damage.
  • Kharkiv Oblast: Russian artillery and mortar fire hit at least 19 towns and villages in two directions. In the Izyum district, a 30-year-old farm worker was killed in Cherneshchyna, and farm buildings, a residential building, and power lines were damaged. In Vilkhuvatka, Kupyansk district, a residential building was also damaged.
  • Luhansk Oblast: Russian forces fired 108 rounds (448 shells). Makiivka, Stelmakhivka and Bilohorivka came under Russian fire. In the temporarily occupied territories, due to the large number of wounded Russian soldiers, the invaders forced doctors to work several shifts.
  • Donetsk Oblast: 13 towns and villages were hit by shelling, damaging 75 residential buildings, including 10 multi-apartment buildings, and several commercial and administrative structures. 4 civilians were wounded.
  • Mykolayiv Oblast: Russian forces shelled Mykolayiv with MLRS from the occupied left bank of Kherson Oblast. A five-story residential building was damaged and a two-story building of the enterprise was destroyed. Three people were injured. A bread factory was hit. Yesterday afternoon, the enemy launched artillery strikes on the water area of the Ochakiv community.
  • Kherson Oblast: There were 88 instances of shelling (445 shells), with 15 of them (49 shells) at the city of Kherson. In the village of Kozatske, 2 women died and one was seriously injured. Russian aircraft struck Kizomys in the Bilozerka Community, dropping two guided aerial bombs on the peaceful settlement. As a result, two residential buildings were completely destroyed, and eight more residences and an administrative building were damaged. In total, 2 killed and 4 injured civilians were reported in the Oblast.
Occupied territories

The health of Nariman Dzhelyal, one of the leaders of the Crimean Tatar People who was sentenced to 17 years in prison by a Russian occupation court for reportedly committing sabotage, has deteriorated due to harsh prison conditions. According to his wife, he is suffering from three herniated discs, and although it is difficult for him to sit and stand, he is not allowed to lie down during the day.

According to Ukrainian General Staff, in Mariupol, about 50 representatives of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation were involved in questioning the local population in the local police department. They take part in humiliating interrogations accompanied by abuse of the civilian population.

Operational situation General conclusion:
  • The Russian military concentrates its main efforts on offensive actions in the Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Maryinka directions;
  • In general, the situation is getting worse for the Russian troops as the “Wagner” PMC detachments are gradually replaced by motorized rifle and airborne units staffed with poorly trained and motivated personnel, mostly called up for mobilization;
  • The Russian forces have changed the direction of their attacks on Avdiivka from the southwest to the east and are attempting to advance from the area of Kruta Balka.
Change in the line of contact (LoC):

Units of the Ukrainian Defense Forces repulsed over 47 Russian attacks in different directions. There are heavy battles ongoing for the cities of Bakhmut and Maryinka.

  • Russian forces launched offensives in the directions of Stelmakhivka, Terny, Torske, Masyutivka, Orihove-Vasylivka, Hryhorivka, Stupochky, Avdiivka, and Novomykhailivka, but were unsuccessful. The Ukrainian Defense Forces successfully repelled numerous Russian attacks in the area of Maryinka.
  • The Russian forces attacked the Spirne area using T-90, T-80, and T-72B3 tanks and BMP- 2 IFVs, but their efforts were largely unsuccessful.
  • In the northwest of Bakhmut, Russian forces advanced between Marshal Tolbukhin and Iryna Levchenko streets, with the “Wagner” PMC mercenaries advancing 220 meters. They targeted the three main fortifications of the Ukrainian Defense Forces in the northwestern sector of the city.
  • Ukrainian Defense Forces succeeded in the northwest of Bakhmut, particularly in the area between Bohdanivka and Berkhivka, and launched a counterattack towards Khromove, Bohdanivka, and Klishchiivka. Near Mayorsk, the situation has stabilized, and Ukrainian Defense Forces units have fortified their positions, pushing back the troops of the 1st Army Corps of the 8th Army from their occupied positions. Units of the 200th separate motorized rifle brigade of the 14th Army Corps of the Northern Fleet of the Russian Armed Forces lost their positions in the area between Hryhorivka and Dubovo-Vasylivka.
Change in enemy disposition:
  • The Russian military is in the process of creating a separate motorized rifle brigade of the Southern Military District in the Stavropol Krai region of Russia.
Escalation indicators:
  • The Russian rear in Luhansk Oblast is within range of Storm Shadow missiles.
Possible operation situation developments:
  • The Russian military intends to continue its attempts to capture Bakhmut and will shift towards a defensive stance in the directions of Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Maryinka. Additionally, they are preparing an offensive operation to take control of Kupyansk, which may coincide with the Ukrainian Defense Forces’ counteroffensive.
  • Ukrainian Defense Forces will continue to shape the operational space, preparing favorable conditions for a counteroffensive operation.
Azov-Black Sea Maritime Operational Area:
  • On May 13, 13 Russian ships at sea patrolled the areas near the coast of the Russian Krasnodar Krai and the Kerch Strait Bridge. Two of the ships are Kalibr missile carriers and may carry a total of 12 missiles.
  • There are 44 warships and boats in the water area of the bays and on the outer roadstead of Sevastopol:
    • 2 frigates (pr. 11356), one of which is under repair in the dock;
    • 1 guard ship (pr. 1135);
    • 5 large landing ships (4 – pr. 775, 1 – pr. 1171);
    • 3 submarines (2 – pr. 636, 1 – pr. 877B);
    • 2 small missile hovercrafts (Project 1239);
    • 6 small anti-submarine ships (pr. 1124);
    • 6 missile boats (4 – pr. 12411, 2 – pr. 12417);
    • 4 anti-sabotage boats (2 – pr. 21980, 2 – pr. IS16MII);
    • 3 patrol boats (pr. 03160);
    • 5 sea minesweepers (4 – pr. 266M, 1 – pr. 12660);
    • 2 medium reconnaissance ships (1 – pr. 861M, 1 – pr. 864);
    • 1 torpedo boat (pr. 1388);
    • 3 amphibious boats (1 – pr. 21820, 2 – pr. 11770);
    • 1 border guard ship (pr. 22460).
  • The Russian Black Sea Fleet commander, Vice Admiral Viktor Sokolov, announced that “a single information field has been created around Crimea for early detection of air attack means by Ukraine.” He noted that “since the beginning of the “special military operation”, ships of the Black Sea Fleet have dealt more than 180 Kalibr missile strikes against Ukrainian military targets.” In 2023, the composition of the Black Sea Fleet will be supplemented with three small missile boats of the Karakurt series, which were launched for the first time in Crimea at the shipyard in Kerch.
  • Russian aviation continues to fly from the Crimean airfields of Belbek, Saky, Dzhankoy and Hvardiyske over the sea. Six fighter aircraft from the Belbek and Saki Air Force Bases were involved in monitoring surface and air conditions in the northwestern part of the Black Sea. Russian tactical aviation continues to conduct airstrikes on Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv, and Kherson Oblasts using FAB-500M62 guided bombs. 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.
  • On the territory of the Belbek airfield (Crimea), 57 aircraft were detected (including 9 MiG-29s, 7 Su-35Ss, 31 Su-27/30s, 1 Su-27/30/35S, 4 Su-34s, 3 L-39s, 1 An-26, 1 Tu-154), and 5 helicopters (including 1 Ka-27, 4 Ka-226Ts).
  • On the territory of the airfield in Dzhankoy (Crimea), 41 helicopters were detected (including 6 Ka-52, 7 Mi-24, 11 Mi-28, 17 Mi-8). In addition, 11 units of air defense systems were detected on the territory of the airfield (including 9 96K6 “Pantsir” anti-aircraft gun and missile complexes).
  • A Mi-28 attack helicopter from the 39th separate helicopter regiment crashed on the outskirts of the village of Svitle, Dzhankoy district (Crimea), due to technical reasons. Two pilots died.
  • Ground-based air defense forces were activated in the area of the city of Sevastopol and along the western coast of the Black Sea against unidentified airborne targets.
  • Along the coast of Romania and the western part of the Black Sea, the US Air Force’s P- 8A and EP-3E electronic reconnaissance aircraft took turns operating. In the southern part of the Black Sea, an RC-135W electronic reconnaissance aircraft operated, accompanied by two Typhoon FGR-4 fighters, from the British Air Force.
  • Along the western coast of the Black Sea and in the northern regions of Crimea, engineering fortifications and earth defense structures are being built.
Russian operational losses from 24.02.22 to 13.05.23

Personnel – almost 198,260 people (+590);

Tanks – 3,751 (+6);

Armored combat vehicles – 7,307 (+12);

Artillery systems – 3,095 (+27)

Multiple rocket launchers (MLRS) – 561 (+2); Anti-aircraft warfare systems – 314 (+2); Vehicles and fuel tanks – 6,011 (+15); Aircraft – 308 (0);

Helicopters – 294 (0);

UAV operational and tactical level – 2,665 (+29); Intercepted cruise missiles – 970 (0);

Boats/ships – 18 (0).

Ukraine, general news

According to a poll conducted by the Democratic Initiatives Foundation, Ukrainians believe that the Defense Forces of Ukraine (78%), the Ukrainian people (62%), and volunteers (46%) made the biggest contribution to repelling the Russian invasion in the first months of the war. The government and the President ranked fourth (24%). President Zelensky was named the most

important figure in the country’s defense (65%), followed by General Zaluzhny, the Commander- in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (47%).

On May 12, 2023, President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a decree imposing new sanctions against Russia. Together with three other decrees approved on the same day, the restrictions affected 258 individuals and 733 companies.

According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), there is a projected 21% decrease in wheat production in Ukraine for the 2023/2024 marketing year (MY). As a result, it is estimated that Ukraine will be able to export 10 million tons of wheat in comparison to the 15 million tons in the current 2022/23 MY. Similarly, corn exports are expected to decline from 25.5 million tons to 16.5 million tons due to a smaller harvest and reduced export stocks.

International diplomatic aspect

Germany has announced its largest security assistance package yet, worth nearly €2.7 billion. The package includes twenty Marder IFVs, thirty Leopard 1A5 MBTs, reconnaissance drones, ammunition, and more. Media reported that it also includes eighteen Wheeled Self-propelled Howitzers, artillery ammunition, guided missiles for air defense systems, four IRIS-T SLM anti- aircraft missile launchers and twelve IRIS-T SLS launchers, over hundred armored fighting vehicles, and over two hundred reconnaissance drones. “With this valuable contribution of urgently needed military material, we are once again showing that Germany is serious about its support,” Germany’s Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said. Germany is the third-largest bilateral contributor (after the U.S. and U.K.) to Ukraine’s defense. Meanwhile, German media have reported that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will visit Berlin on Sunday to “receive the prestigious Charlemagne Award on behalf of the Ukrainian people.”

“For as long as needed and beyond, our nation will continue to provide bilateral and multilateral assistance, and there will be our staunch adherence to sanctions enforcement arrangements and our support for peace provided it is a just peace,” Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni told President Volodymyr Zelensky in Rome. She expressed her government’s support of Ukraine’s Peace Plan and recognized the “legitimate European aspirations of Ukraine, an outpost of security for the entire European continent.” “We are betting on Ukraine’s victory,” Meloni said. During the meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella, Volodymyr Zelensky talked about “the war and the importance of Ukraine’s victory” and the necessity of returning Ukrainian children from the Russian captivity. President Volodymyr Zelensky met with Pope Francis at The Vatican and talked about Ukraine’s Peace Formula. The Pontiff presented Volodymyr Zelensky with a small sculpture in the form of an olive branch, a symbol of peace. In return, Pope Francis was presented with an icon of the Madonna painted on the remains of a bulletproof vest.

Russia, relevant news

According to Russian media, four Russian aircraft, two helicopters, and two fighter jets crashed in the Russian Bryansk Oblast bordering the north of Ukraine on Saturday, April 13. The crew of one of the helicopters was confirmed dead. The Russian media speculate that the helicopters and the planes were shot down by Ukrainian anti-aircraft guns using the recently provided Western long-range systems.

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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