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CDS Daily brief (19.05.23) | CDS comments on key events

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Snapshot of the day:

General, humanitarian:

  • During the night, Russian Forces launched another attack thought out Ukraine. Ukrainian air defense intercepted 16 enemy “Shakhed” drones and 3 “Kalibr” missiles.
  • Ukraine’s power generation fully meets the consumers’ needs. However, the recent attack by the occupying forces has caused damage to the main power transmission lines.


  • The Ukrainian Defense Forces have intercepted the enemy’s tactical initiative and are forcing them to react to changing conditions, including by deploying airborne units to the flanks of Bakhmut.
  • The Russian military command has deployed most of its reserves in the Bakhmut area, including by redirecting them from other directions.
  • The enemy is deploying reserves in the Lyman direction in an attempt to strengthen its tactical position.
  • The advancement of the Defense Forces to the north and south of Bakhmut diminishes the Russian military command’s opportunities to launch an offensive towards Siversk or Sloviansk.
  • Ukrainian activity near the islands in the Dnipro River delta has increased recently.


  • The European Council President urged China to press Russia to halt its military aggression, while the G7 leaders supported Ukraine’s Peace Formula and called on Russia to completely withdraw its troops and military equipment from Ukraine’s internationally recognized territory.
  • Chinese MFA informed about the preliminary results of Beijing’s envoy visit to Kyiv. The Chinese position only partially corresponds to Ukraine’s Peace Formula, for it is not ready to condemn the aggression and demand Russia to withdraw from all of Ukraine and opposing NATO in general and Ukraine’s membership in particular. China views Russia’s aggression against Ukraine as an American proxy war.
  • G7 announced a wave of sanctions that “will broaden actions to ensure that exports of all items critical to Russia’s aggression, including those used by Russia on the battlefield, are restricted across all our jurisdictions, including exports of industrial machinery, tools, and other technology that Russia uses to rebuild its war machine.”
  • The U.S. has imposed sanctions on 22 individuals and 104 entities across multiple countries or jurisdictions for their involvement in attempting to bypass or evade sanctions and other economic measures against Russia.
  • The U.K. government announced sanctions against 86 individuals and entities, targeting Russia’s theft of Ukrainian grain, advanced military technology, and remaining revenue sources.
  • The U.S. will join the European initiative of training Ukrainian pilots and will issue necessary licenses when third countries decide to provide Ukraine with F-16s. However, the Administration still repeats that the U.S. supply of F-16s to Ukraine is “not on the agenda.”
  • President Zelensky addressed the leaders of the Arab League to engage the Global South, promote Ukraine’s Peace Formula and tried to build new bridges to the region.
Russian attacks

During the night, Ukrainian air defense forces successfully intercepted and destroyed 16 enemy “Shakhed” drones and 3 “Kalibr” missiles. The occupiers launched a total of 22 kamikaze drones and 6 “Kalibr” cruise missiles.

The Russian army carried out attacks on 10 regions of Ukraine within the last day. Consequences of the recent night strikes in Ukraine:

  • In the morning, Russian Shahed drones attacked Lviv Oblast. According to preliminary information, all of them were successfully neutralized by the air defense forces. There have been no reported casualties. Further information regarding damages is currently being assessed.
  • During the night, the Russians launched a drone attack on Kyiv Oblast. The air defense system was activated in response. No impacts were reported, and there were no casualties. However, debris from the drones caused two fires in the forest undergrowth. The fires have since been extinguished.
  • In Kryvyi Rih, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, the Russians attacked a private industrial enterprise, resulting in a 64-year-old woman being critically injured. The attack caused significant damage to the workshop equipment, and multiple buildings caught fire simultaneously. Furthermore, an adjacent 4-story administrative building also caught fire due to the enemy’s attack, and a 45-year-old man sustained injuries. Additionally, the State Emergency Service reported that the local fire station suffered damage due to a missile strike, and a rescuer was injured.
  • In Mykolaiv Oblast, during the night, the air defense forces of the Southern Air Command successfully intercepted three Russian sea-launched cruise missiles of the “Kalibr” type. At 2:00 am, the Russians shelled an agricultural enterprise. Machinery and the company’s building were damaged. The shockwave caused damage to an educational institution and private houses. There were no casualties.
  • During the past day, the occupiers conducted 57 attacks (fired 287 shells) on Kherson Oblast, with Kherson being targeted twice with 11 shells from multiple rocket launchers. Russian forces targeted areas in 18 towns and villages, as well as two healthcare facilities and one cultural institution in Kherson. Throughout the day, one person was injured.
  • In the past day, the enemy carried out 80 shelling attacks on Zaporizhzhia Oblast, targeting 17 frontline towns and villages. Of these, 70 were artillery strikes on Hulyaipole, Zaliznychne, and Stepove, while four MLRS strikes were on Orikhove, Kamianske, and Mali Shcherbaky. Additionally, one airstrike targeted Novodanylivka. A 57-year-old man in Hulyaipole was injured. During the day, 25 civilian objects were damaged.
  • On May 18, two people died, and nine were injured in Donetsk Oblast due to Russian attacks. Forty-eight residential buildings were damaged, including seventeen apartment complexes. Two buildings of the police department in Kostiantynivka, four premises of the Donetsk Railway depot, four premises of a sanatorium, two power transmission lines, an electrical substation, a former warehouse building, a railway track, a sports club, a shop, a market building, five vehicles, and three warehouse premises were also damaged.
  • During the night and in the morning, the Russian army carried out seven shelling attacks along the border of Sumy Oblast. The Ministry of Energy of Ukraine confirmed that three employees of “Sumyoblenergo” were killed (preliminary during an attack by Russian drones) while inspecting a damaged power transmission line.
  • As of May 19, 2023, Ukraine’s power generation fully meets the consumers’ needs. However, the recent attack by the occupying forces has caused damage to the main power transmission lines. To ensure a balance in the power supply, it is necessary to conserve electricity during the evening hours, according to NEC Ukrenergo. The energy company also mentioned that the shelling affected the distribution networks in the frontline and border regions, requiring restoration work. Additionally, ongoing repair campaigns are taking place at several nuclear and thermal power plants.
Operational situation General conclusion:
  • The enemy is focusing its primary efforts on launching offensive operations in the directions of Kupyansk, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Maryinka.
  • The Ukrainian Defense Forces have successfully disrupted the enemy’s tactical initiative, compelling them to react to evolving circumstances. This includes deploying airborne units to the flanks of Bakhmut.
  • The Russian military command has deployed the majority of its reserves in the area of Bakhmut, including by redirecting them from other directions.
  • The “Wagner” PMC mercenaries will not be able to encircle the Defense Forces in Bakhmut due to the loss of stable flanks to the north and south of the city.
  • The Russian forces lack the organization, fire support, coordination, and training necessary to defend the flanks of Bakhmut.
  • The enemy attempts to improve its tactical position in the Lyman direction by deploying reserves into the operation.
  • The advance of the Defense Forces to the north and south of Bakhmut deprives the Russian military command of prospects to organize an offensive towards Siversk or Sloviansk.
  • Ukrainian activity near the islands in the Dnipro River delta has increased recently.
Change in the line of contact (LoC):
  • The Defense Forces units repelled more than 29 enemy attacks on various fronts. The areas of Bakhmut and Maryinka remain at the center of the hostilities.
  • Russian forces launched unsuccessful attacks near Masyutivka, Stelmakhivka, Novoselivka, and Nevske, failing to make any progress near Novoselivka. The 27th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade of the 1st Tank Army and the 138th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade of the 6th Army, both belonging to the Western Military District of the Russian Federation, repelled two offensives by units of the Defense Forces in the Kupyansk direction.
  • The Defense Forces broke through the enemy’s defense to the south and southwest of Ivanivske and to the northwest of Klishchiivka. Russian forces retreated from positions to the north of Sacco and Vanzetti, in the areas of Orikhovo-Vasylivka, Hryhorivka, and Berkhivka Reservoir. “Wagner” PMC units in Bakhmut withdrew 570 meters in the northern part of the city. Ukrainian 3rd Separate Assault Brigade expanded the area of their advance, creating a wedge that stretches 2000 meters wide and 700 meters deep. In the Avdiivka area, the Russian occupiers conducted unsuccessful offensive actions towards Severne and Maryinka.
Change in enemy disposition:
  • On the Lyman direction, additional formations of the BARS and “Storm-Z” units, consisting of former prisoners, have been deployed. Artillery units of the 114th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade and the 2nd Battalion of the 87th Motorized Rifle Regiment (1st Army Corps, 8th Army) are operating near Avdiivka, while units of the 110th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade (1st Army Corps) are operating near Nevelske. Over the past two weeks, units of the 123rd and 127th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigades (2nd Army Corps) and the 254th Motorized Rifle Regiment (144th Motorized Rifle Division, 20th Army) have been deployed into combat.
  • The artillery of the 40th separate marine brigade of the Eastern Military District is operating near Vuhledar.
  • The enemy artificially raised the water level in the Kakhovka Reservoir, hindering the potential advance of the Defense Forces. In doing so, they have also flooded their own positions along the reservoir banks, which has led to significant losses and triggered a scandal.

Escalation indicators: not identified

Possible operation situation developments:
  • The enemy will not cease its efforts to capture Bakhmut and will gradually transition to a defensive posture in the Kupyansk, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Maryinka directions.
  • Ukrainian Defense Forces will continue to shape the operational space, preparing favorable conditions for counteroffensive operations.
  • If the Defense Forces continue their advance along the Bohdanivka-Berkhivka and Orikhovo-Vasylivka-Paraskoviivka directions, the fighting in the western part of Bakhmut will lose its significance for the enemy.
  • To eliminate the threat posed by the Defense Forces on the Siversky Bulge, the enemy command must swiftly conclude the battles in Bakhmut and commence troop redeployment in the northern and northwestern directions.
  • If the enemy command decides to launch an offensive towards Siversk and Sloviansk, we should expect the deployment of their operational reserves north of Bakhmut (2-3 battalions from the 57th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade and the 51st parachute airborne regiment of the 106th Airborne Division within the first day, followed by an additional 6 battalions from the mobilization reserve of the 2nd Army Corps within the next 48 hours).
  • The enemy will encounter logistical challenges due to insufficient transportation capacity to redeploy their reserves.
Azov-Black Sea Maritime Operational Area:
  • During the night of May 18th to 19th, the enemy conducted another air strike on Ukraine. Maritime missile carriers were involved, which launched 6 “Kalibr” missiles. The Ukrainian Air Defense Forces intercepted three missiles.
  • The enemy continues to rotate its ships in the sea, periodically increasing the number of “Kalibr” missile carriers in the firing positions. As of the afternoon of May 19th, there were 6 enemy ships at sea. They were patrolling areas near the coast of Crimea and Krasnodar Krai. Three of them (two submarines and one corvette) are capable of carrying up to 16 “Kalibr” missiles. One ship is on duty near the Kerch Bridge, and two are in the Azov Sea.
  • The enemy’s aviation continues its flights over the sea from the Crimean airfields of Belbek, Saky, Dzhankoy, and Hvardiyske. Seven 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 enemy continues to accumulate forces for the defense of Crimea. A high concentration of very old equipment has been taken out of long-term storage. On the territory of the 943rd Mobilization Deployment Support Center (Novoozerne, Crimea), there are approximately 400 units of military equipment, including: 2 C-60 anti-aircraft artillery systems (using 57mm AZP-57 anti-aircraft guns developed in the mid-1940s), around 50 tanks, around 50 combat armored vehicles, around 200 artillery systems (including 1 2C7 “Pion” self-propelled artillery unit, 1 2C3 “Akatsiya” self-propelled artillery unit, 5 2C5 “Hyacinth-S” self-propelled artillery units, 12 “Uragan” multiple rocket launcher systems, 25 anti-tank guns, 51 D-30 howitzers, 12 BM-21 “Grad” multiple rocket launcher systems, 20 “Hyacinth-B” howitzers, and 49 D-1 howitzers (produced in the USSR between 1943 and 1949), and approximately 70 cargo trucks.
  • According to Russian media reports, on May 18, the training tests for the recovery of the MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft were completed. The Reaper had been shot down by a Russian Su-27 fighter jet (Belbek Airbase, Crimea) and sank at a depth of approximately 800 meters, 60 kilometers away from Sevastopol, on March 14, 2023. “The tests were conducted at depths of 1,000 meters, but not in the waters of the Crimean Peninsula. All involved deep-sea equipment, as well as experts, demonstrated their capability and ability to perform such a complex task,” said the source. The Russian media also emphasizes that “the most valuable elements for study are located underwater” and are of interest to Russian specialists.
The “Grain Initiative”
  • The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stated that Russia will not extend the Black Sea Grain Initiative after July 17 unless five “systemic tasks” are fulfilled. The ministry mentioned that on July 22, 2022, in Istanbul, in addition to the “grain agreement,” the “Russia-UN Memorandum” on the export of Russian agricultural products was also approved. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has put forward five demands, the non- fulfillment of which will result in no discussion of any expansion of the “Black Sea Initiative” and the agreement itself will be terminated after July 17. The demands are as follows:
  • Reconnecting “Rosselkhozbank” to SWIFT.
  • Supply of spare parts.
  • Unlocking transportation logistics and insurance.
  • Reviving the ammonia pipeline from Tolyatti to Odessa.
  • “Unfreezing” the assets of Russian companies.
Russian operational losses from 24.02.22 to 19.05.23

Personnel – almost 201,760 people (+660);

Tanks – 3,777 (+4);

Armored combat vehicles – 7,377 (+4);

Artillery systems – 3,210 (+12)

Multiple rocket launchers (MLRS) – 564 (+1); Anti-aircraft warfare systems – 319 (+1); Vehicles and fuel tanks – 6,083 (+10); Aircraft – 308 (0);

Helicopters – 294 (0);

UAV operational and tactical level – 2,769 (+10); Intercepted cruise missiles – 1,011 (+21);

Boats/ships – 18 (0).

International diplomatic aspect

“China has a special responsibility in the world. It has to play by international rules. And we call on China to press Russia to stop its military aggression,” Charles Michel said. G7 leaders expressed their “support for the Ukrainian people in their quest for a just peace rooted in respect for international law.” They urged Russia to “completely and unconditionally withdraw its troops and military equipment from the entire internationally recognized territory of Ukraine.” The leaders reiterated their commitment to diplomacy and expressed their “support for the earnest efforts by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky in setting out basic principles in his Peace Formula in line with the UN Charter.”

Chinese MFA spokesperson informed about the preliminary result of Beijing’s envoy visit to Kyiv. “Ukraine should not become the frontier in major power confrontation. Under current circumstances, all sides need to remain calm, exercise restraint, and avoid taking any action that

might further escalate or complicate the crisis,” Wang Wenbin stated. He pushed the standard Sino-Russian line about the necessity of building a “balanced, effective and durable European security architecture through dialogue and consultation and find a solution that is truly conducive to lasting peace and security in Europe.” It literally means objection to NATO’s expansion. “To strengthen or even expand military groups is not a viable way to ensure the security of a region. One country’s security should not be achieved at the expense of the security of other countries,” he added.

China is calling “all parties” to do “their part to build up trust and create conditions for ceasefire and peace talks.” So, Beijing rejects the distinction between the aggressor and the victim of the aggression. China stands ready to work on the basis of the document “China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis,” which hardly addresses the causes of the aggression and its solution based on the norms and principles of international law. So, the Chinese position only partially corresponds to Ukraine’s Peace Formula. Answering the question about whether China would accept Ukraine giving up parts of its territory if Russia would stop the fighting, the spokesperson said that “there is no panacea for defusing the crisis.”

Meanwhile, the Chinese MFA published a document titled “America’s Coercive Diplomacy and Its Harm,” calling Russia’s aggression against Ukraine an American proxy war. “Intensifying division and antagonism in the international community. In order to maintain its global hegemony and contain the development of other countries, the U.S. is keen to force other countries to join the “democratic alliance” by means of drawing ideological lines and imposing tariffs. Using the Ukraine crisis, the U.S. rallies the European Union and other developed countries to join in on the sanctions against Russia and coerces developing countries to take sides,” the propaganda pamphlet reads.

The G7 has decided to expand restrictions on Russia’s access to their economies. G7 “will broaden actions to ensure that exports of all items critical to Russia’s aggression, including those used by Russia on the battlefield, are restricted across all our jurisdictions, including exports of industrial machinery, tools, and other technology that Russia uses to rebuild its war machine.” G7 will target “those operating in these key sectors, such as manufacturing, construction, and transportation as well as business services.”

The U.S. has sanctioned 22 individuals and 104 entities, with touchpoints in more than 20 countries or jurisdictions, who had been attempting to circumvent or evade sanctions and other economic measures against Russia. The actions include designations of targets across Russia’s defense and related materiel, technology, and metals and mining sectors; those involved in expanding Russia’s future energy production and capacity; those engaged in the procurement of components for the Russia-based entity responsible for the manufacture of the Orlan drone, and more.

The U.K. government announced sanctions against 86 individuals and entities, targeting Russia’s theft of Ukrainian grain, advanced military technology, and remaining revenue sources. The package includes companies connected to the theft of Ukrainian grain and those involved in the

shipment of Russian energy, Rosatom-related entities. “We will legislate later this year to ban imports of Russian diamonds [Russia’s overall exports worth $4.1 billion in 2021], and end all imports of Russian-origin copper, aluminum, and nickel,” British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said.

The Biden Administration changed its stance and signaled both its readiness to allow reexport of F-16s from European countries to Ukraine and join the European initiative to train Ukrainian pilots in Europe. However, the Administration still repeats that the U.S. supply of F-16s to Ukraine is “not on the agenda.”

President Zelensky addressed the leaders of the Arab League: “I am also sure that all your people will understand the main appeal that I want to leave here in Jeddah. A noble appeal to all of you – to contribute to the protection of our people, including the Ukrainian Muslim community.” “Even if there are people here at the summit who have a different view on the war, on our land, calling it a conflict, I am sure that we can all be united in saving people from the cages of Russian prisons. Unfortunately, there are some in the world, and here among you, who turn a blind eye to those cages and illegal annexations,” he added.

The only country presented at the summit that recognized Russia’s illegal annexation was Syria; however, many others either see the war as a faraway and irrelevant development or have a vested interest in Russia and China rather than Europe and the U.S. Ukraine’s President thought to appeal to a part of the so-called Global South that for various reasons has not been actively involved in support of Ukraine. Volodymyr Zelensky promoted his Peace Formula. He also tried to build new bridges to the region, recalling the country’s role in food security and longstanding educational programs (since the Soviet times, thousands of students from developing countries have studied and are studying in Ukraine). Zelensky touched upon an issue of the Crimean Tatars, an indigenous Muslim minority, who have been suffering under the Russian occupation since the illegal annexation of the peninsula. In fact, Reşat Amet, a Crimean Tatar, was the first victim of the Russian aggression against Ukraine in Crimea. On March 3, 2014, he was abducted by Russian proxy forces and later found murdered with traces of severe torture. “I believe that one day your people will return, in particular, to see our Crimea, free from Russian occupation and humiliation,” Ukraine’s President concluded his address to the Arab leaders.

Russia, relevant news

According to Russian officials from the leadership of “Chornomornaftogaz,” the company has reported losses of 1 billion rubles in the first quarter of 2023. The situation within the company has worsened due to the missile strike by the Ukrainian Navy last summer, which led to a decision to halt production and a significant decline in revenues from natural gas sales. Production has decreased by 70 times during the first quarter of this year. It is projected that the company may face a budget deficit of five billion rubles by the end of the year, considering a net loss of 1 billion 181 million rubles in the first four months of 2023 alone.

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