Центр оборонних стратегій

CDS Daily brief (17.05.23) | CDS comments on key events

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Snapshot of the day:

General, humanitarian:

  • The Russian Federation army attacked nine Ukraine regions over the past day. There are damages and causalities;
  • Ukraine needs to demine about 700 km² of territories adjacent to energy infrastructure and 4,500 km of power lines;
  • In the occupied territories Russian forces continue to use schools as their bases, despite the presence of displaced Ukrainian civilians who have sought refuge away from the frontline.


  • The Ukrainian Defense Forces of Ukraine successfully conduct active defense in the Bakhmut and Avdiivka areas;
  • The Russian command has been unable to determine the potential direction of the Ukrainian Defense Forces’ main attack in their forthcoming counteroffensive. As a result, the enemy has intensified their offensive capabilities along nearly the entire front line.

Possible operation situation developments:

  • The Ukrainian Defense Forces will continue to shape the operational space, preparing favorable conditions for a counteroffensive operation;


  • The Council of Europe Summit in Reykjavik has created the Register of Damage Caused by the Russian aggression against Ukraine as the first step towards an international compensation mechanism for victims of Russian aggression.
  • The Council of Europe Summit in Reykjavik expressed its support for Ukraine’s Peace Formula. The E.U. might organize a summit promoting Ukraine’s Peace Formula in Copenhagen before the NATO summit.
  • Ukraine’s Foreign Minister told the PRC’s Special Envoy that Ukraine wouldn’t even discuss territorial concessions to Russia and urged Beijing to support Ukraine’s Peace Formula.
  • The Parliament of Estonia voted to invite Ukraine to join NATO at the Vilnius Summit.
  • The Black Sea Grain Initiative has been extended for another two months after Russia’s blackmail, false narratives of unfairness to its exports, and attempts to lift certain sanctions.
  • Ukroboronprom and Rheinmetall signed a strategic partnership agreement, which will enable the launch of a maintenance and repair shop for armored vehicles donated to Ukraine by foreign partners, the production of German company’s defense articles in Ukraine, and the joint development of weapons systems.
  • The number of Russian citizens who believe that the so-called “special military operation” should end no later than in six months reached 41%, a 10% increase since December 2022.
Humanitarian aspect

The Ministry of Energy’s press service reports that Ukraine is faced with the task of demining approximately 700 km² of territories surrounding energy infrastructure and 4,500 km of power lines. Attracting the support of international partners in the humanitarian demining of energy facilities and adjacent territories remains one of the government’s priorities.

Russian attacks

At 11:08 p.m. on May 16, Mykolaiv was targeted by a missile attack launched by Russia. The attack partially destroyed a shopping center and a car showroom, but rescuers swiftly extinguished the fires. The blast wave caused damage to private houses and shops in the vicinity. Furthermore, an industrial infrastructure facility was also struck.

Over the past day, the Russian Federation’s army launched attacks on nine regions of Ukraine.

  • In Chernihiv Oblast, the Novgorod-Siversky district was shelled four times with mortars and artillery during the day. 16 explosions were recorded.
  • The border areas of Sumy Oblast were shelled 21 times, resulting in a total of 118 hits. Eight communities were subjected to fire, and one person sustained injuries in the Myropil community. Additionally, civilian buildings and facilities in two communities were damaged.
  • Russian troops randomly shelled 16 towns and villages close to the front line in Zaporizhzhia Oblast. 51 civilian objects were destroyed: cars, houses, etc. A 48-year- old man was wounded during the shelling of Hulyaipole. A 34-year-old tractor driver and a 61-year-old agronomist were injured in a field near Uspenivka.
  • In Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, the Russian forces launched a targeted attack on the Nikopol district using artillery fire and UAVs. There are hits in Chervonohryhorivka and Myrivska communities. An agricultural enterprise, a power line, a gas pipeline, 5 private houses, 4 commercial buildings, etc., were damaged.
  • In Kharkiv Oblast 28 towns and villages in two directions came under Russian shelling and air attacks. A 50-year-old was killed by shelling in Kupyansk. In the village of Bohuslavka, Izyum district, at least three private residential buildings, farm buildings and infrastructure objects were damaged by Russian shelling.
  • In Luhansk Oblast, the towns of Makiivka, Nevske, Bilohorivka, and Stelmakhivka have been subjected to relentless artillery fire. Shelling of these settlements is almost continuous. During the day, the Russian army carried out 91 shellings of Luhansk Oblast (fired 397 shells).
  • In Donetsk Oblast, the [Russian] invaders shelled 18 towns and villages 41 times during the day. Private and municipal facilities sustained damages. Russian forces killed 1 resident of Donetsk Oblast, and seven more people were injured. In addition, the bodies of 4 people who died during the occupation were exhumed in Sviatohirsk.
  • In addition to the missile attack on Mykolayiv Oblast, the Russian forces launched artillery strikes on the water area of the Ochakiv community, both in the morning and throughout the day.
  • The Russian army conducted 79 shellings of Kherson Oblast, firing a total of 406 shells. Among these, six shellings (with 26 shells) targeted the city of Kherson. The Russian military aimed at various areas in 28 towns and villages, as well as a gas station in the Beryslav district. Seven people (including three children) were injured due to Russian aggression in Kherson Oblast.
Occupied territories

According to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Russian occupiers have repurposed the kindergarten in Yuryivka village in Zaporizhzhya Oblast to house their military personnel. At the same time, civilians who were taken out of the villages close to the line of combat live on the territory of the kindergarten.

In the occupied Crimea, Russian security forces have issued a warning regarding the “inadmissibility of law violations” during mass gatherings on May 18, which marks the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Genocide of the Crimean Tatar People. Additionally, Crimean Tatar activists have reported receiving warning visits from the occupation authorities, Crimean Solidarity reports.

Operational situation General conclusion:
  • The Russian military concentrates its main efforts on offensive actions in the Kupyansk, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Maryinka directions;
  • The Ukrainian Defense Forces successfully conduct the active defense in Bakhmut and Avdiivka areas.
  • The Russian military command has failed to determine the direction of the possible main strike by the Defense Forces in their future counteroffensive, resulting in an increase in the enemy’s activity of firepower along the entire front line of the conflict.
  • The main objective of the Ukrainian defensive operation in the Bakhmut area is to exhaust the Russian forces in this region.
Change in the line of contact (LoC):
  • Units of the Ukrainian Defense Forces repulsed over 55 Russian attacks in different directions. Bakhmut and Maryinka remain at the epicenter of hostilities.
  • Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive actions in the areas of Masyutivka in Kharkiv Oblast and Novoselivske, Stelmakhivka, Bilohorivka in Luhansk Oblast, Ivanivske, Maryinka in Donetsk Oblast. Ukrainian Defense Forces achieved minor successes east of Orikhovo-Vasylivka.
  • Russian troops achieved minor successes in southwestern Bakhmut, but attempts to recover lost positions near Bohdanivka and Hryhorivka proved futile. Russian forces advanced slightly in the area of Maryinka; they are advancing near Pervomaiske and Avdiivka.
  • The Ukrainian Defense Forces regained lost positions near Kruta Balka along the H-20 highway.
Change in enemy disposition:
  • On the flanks of the Russian grouping around Bakhmut, four airborne battalions of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation of unknown origin (probably from the 106th airborne division) were deployed. The transfer of Russian territorial forces from the Brest region of the Republic of Belarus (approximately 40 units of military equipment and at least 200 servicemen who underwent training at training grounds) to the Gukhovo station in the Rostov region of the Russian Federation is ongoing. Subsequently, they will be further deployed to Kreminna and Svatove, Luhansk Oblast.
  • Russian troops moved units of the 6th motorized rifle division of the 20th Army to an unspecified area north of Bakhmut, probably from positions along the Svatove-Kupyansk line.
  • Units of the 20th Army of the Western Military District operate at the Terny – Novosadove Highway frontier.
Escalation indicators:
  • The enemy has increased the intensity of airstrikes on targets within the tactical zone, including civilian objects. Russian forces dropped four KAB-500 bombs from four Su-35 fighters on Beryslav and Kizomys on the western bank of the Dnipro River. Russian troops have shelled the western coast of the Kherson region 86 times and have used incendiary ammunition on targets within the city of Kherson.
  • Russian troops are strengthening security measures at the Zaporizhzhya NPP and increasing the military presence at the facility, with more than 2,500 Russian servicemen on its territory.
Possible operation situation developments:
  • The enemy will not cease their efforts to capture Bakhmut and gradually transition to a defensive posture on the Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Maryinka fronts. They may prepare an offensive operation to capture Kupyansk, which they could potentially launch simultaneously with the start of the Defense Forces’ counteroffensive.
  • Ukrainian Defense Forces will continue to shape the operational space, preparing favorable conditions for counteroffensive operations.
  • The command of the Defense Forces in the area of Bakhmut will continue to exert pressure on the enemy’s flanks north and south of Bakhmut, forcing the enemy to retreat from the city under the threat of encirclement.
Azov-Black Sea Maritime Operational Area:
  • In the afternoon of May 17, there were 4 Russian ships at sea, patrolling the areas near the coast of Crimea and the Russian Krasnodar Krai. One ship was on duty near the Kerch Strait Bridge.
  • Russian aircraft maintains its operations from the Crimean airfields of Belbek, Saky, Dzhankoy, and Hvardiyske, conducting flights over the sea. Specifically, 6 fighter aircraft from Belbek and Saki Air Force Bases were deployed to monitor surface and air conditions in the northwestern part of the Black Sea. The A-50U and Il-22 AEW&C aircraft were responsible for overseeing the air situation and managing operational-tactical aviation activities over the waters of the Sea of Azov.
The “Grain Initiative”
  • The last ship under the current grain agreement departed from the Odesa region port. The vessel, carrying 30,000 tons of corn, is heading towards Turkey. The term of the grain agreement, ensuring the unhindered grain export from Ukrainian ports, expires on May 18. During two weeks of negotiations in May, the parties could not agree on its extension. Russia, in particular, demands the resumption of Russian ammonia exports through Ukraine via the Tolyatti-Odesa route as a condition for extending the agreement.
  • Oleksandr Kubrakov, Deputy Prime Minister for Reconstruction – Minister of Development of Communities, Territories and Infrastructure of Ukraine, said that the grain agreement had been unblocked and will continue to operate until July 18. According to him, to date, 30.4 million tons of agricultural products have been sent to meet the world’s needs.
Russian operational losses from 24.02.22 to 17.05.23

Personnel – almost 200,590 people (+610);

Tanks – 3,771 (+9);

Armored combat vehicles – 7,365 (+17);

Artillery systems – 3,166 (+16)

Multiple rocket launchers (MLRS) – 562 (0); Anti-aircraft warfare systems – 318 (+2); Vehicles and fuel tanks – 6,067 (+19); Aircraft – 308 (0);

Helicopters – 294 (0);

UAV operational and tactical level – 2,748 (+16); Intercepted cruise missiles – 982 (+9);

Boats/ships – 18 (0).

Ukraine, general news

Summarizing Russian activity in the information space around recent events of the Russian aggression against Ukraine (Russian missile attack and fighting around Bakhmut), Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar stressed that Russia’s manipulations in the information space are aimed at “creating a mythical image of the invincibility of the “Russian superpower” and intimidating the international and Ukrainian community”.

International diplomatic aspect

During the Council of Europe Summit in Reykjavik, the creation of the Register of Damage Caused by the Aggression of the Russian Federation Against Ukraine was announced as an initial step towards establishing an international compensation mechanism for victims of Russian aggression. Forty-four states, and the E.U. joined or indicated their intention to join the Register. “Russia must be held accountable, including for damage suffered by Ukraine and its people. We are therefore proud that the seat of the Register of Damage will be in The Hague, the legal capital of the world,” Prime Minister of Iceland Mark Rutte said. The Register would play “a central role…to punish the war crimes of the Russian occupiers and to demand accountability for the enormous damage that Russia inflicts on Ukraine day after day,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said. The Register will possess juridical personality under the national law of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and of Ukraine. It will receive and process information related to damage claims and supporting evidence from February 24, 2022, onwards. The exact form of a future Compensation Mechanism is to be determined. Still, it may include a claims commission and compensation fund mandated to examine and adjudicate claims and/or pay compensation for damage, loss, or injury caused by the Russian Federation’s internationally wrongful acts in or against Ukraine.

Iceland’s Prime Minister announced the Council of Europe Summit’s decision, including full support for Ukraine and the Ukrainian peace formula. “We agreed that without accountability, there can be no lasting peace, and to reaffirm the need for a legal response for all victims,” Katrin Jakobsdottir said. A top Swedish diplomat hinted that the E.U. might organize a summit promoting the “peace formula” proposed by Ukraine in Copenhagen before the NATO summit.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told PRC’s Special Envoy Li Hui that Ukraine wouldn’t even discuss territorial concessions to Russia. The Minister outlined the “principles of restoring a stable and just peace based on respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” the MFA statement reads. Dmytro Kuleba emphasized that “Ukraine does not accept any proposals that would involve the loss of its territories or the freezing of the conflict.” However, the Minister underlined the importance of “China’s participation in the implementation of the Peace Formula of the President of Ukraine, the Black Sea Grain Initiative, guaranteeing nuclear safety and other important international efforts.”

The Parliament of Estonia voted to invite Ukraine to join NATO at the Vilnius Summit. “The Riigikogu considers it vital to take the opportunity at the NATO Vilnius Summit to: formulate the specific and unambiguous steps necessary for Ukraine’s rapid integration into NATO; grant Ukraine an invitation to join the Alliance,” the statement reads.

Ukraine’s Ukroboronprom and German’s Rheinmetall signed a strategic partnership agreement for the production of German company’s defense articles in Ukraine and joint development of weapons systems. As the first step, the partners will launch in July an enterprise for the maintenance and repair of armored vehicles donated to Ukraine by foreign partners.

Russia, relevant news

According to the Military Media Center of the Ukrainian MoD, with reference to the telephone poll conducted by the Institute of Conflictology and Analysis of Russia (IKAR), the percentage of Russian citizens who believe that the so-called “special military operation” should conclude within six months is now 41%. This marks an increase from 31% since December 2022. On the other hand, the number of individuals supporting an indefinite war until all goals are achieved has significantly decreased from 48% in December to just 13% in April. Only a small percentage of respondents believe that all war goals have been accomplished, while 46% feel that they have been partially achieved.

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