Центр оборонних стратегій

CDS Daily brief (24.05.23) | CDS comments on key events

Snapshot of the day:

General, humanitarian:

  • Amid full-scale Russian aggression, at least 30% of Ukrainians have refrained from seeking necessary medical assistance.
  • Approximately one-third of the documented civilian casualties in the first year of Russia’s war against Ukraine were individuals over 60 years old.
  • Russian military shelled nine regions of Ukraine over the past day; Ukrainian civilians were killed and injured.
  • According to the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, Russian invaders are utilizing Units 1, 2, and 4 of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) as a logistical and military base. 


  • The enemy is currently focusing its main efforts on defensive operations across all fronts and conducting localized attacks in the Kupyansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Maryinka directions.
  • There has been a decrease in the intensity of combat operations in the Bakhmut area and its surrounding areas.


  • Japan will provide Ukraine with about 100 military vehicles, and Germany is about to send 110 Leopard 1A5 MBTs to Ukraine.
  • A Polish General urged to be prepared for armed appraisal in Belarus after the successful Ukrainian counter-offensive. Russia is nervous about such prospects and threatens to react.
  • While the Kremlin’s spokesperson ruled out stopping or freezing the conflict, Russia’s top spies accused the West of not being willing to stop the war.
  • While staring at a 17th-century French map, Vladimir Putin expressed his belief that there was no Ukraine before Vladimir Lenin “created” it. He justified his war of conquest with a distorted interpretation of history while ignoring international law and even the Russian Constitution and laws.


Due to security concerns and ongoing combat operations, at least 30% of Ukrainians have reduced or avoided seeking medical assistance in the past year. This has resulted in a potential increase in undiagnosed or late-diagnosed cases of non-infectious diseases. 

Mobile hospitals and brigades are being deployed in frontline areas to provide emergency medical care and essential supplies. These initiatives aim to address immediate healthcare needs despite challenging conditions, ensuring the population’s well-being. The mobile brigades are adapting to the specific situation at hand. “And emergency medical care is provided regardless of the security situation, in any conditions. Emergency medical care centers even operate under shelling,” stated the Deputy Head of the Ministry of Health.

The World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva passed a resolution condemning Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine, including attacks on healthcare facilities. The resolution received 80 votes in favor, 9 against, and 52 abstentions from WHA participants. The document, presented for voting at the annual meeting of the UN agency, also called for an assessment of the impact of Russia’s aggression on the healthcare sector. Russia has not yet reacted to the approval of the resolution. Moscow consistently denies attacking the civilian population during its aggression against Ukraine.

Civilian Victims:

According to the UN, approximately one-third of the documented civilian casualties in the first year of Russia’s war against Ukraine were individuals over 60 years old, totaling 1,346 out of 4,187 victims. However, the actual number is believed to be higher, as this figure only includes cases where the age of the victims is known. Considering that about a quarter of Ukraine’s population comprises of elderly people, the impact on this vulnerable group is significant.

The report highlighted specific incidents, such as in Yahidne village (Chernihiv region) in March 2022, where 10 elderly individuals lost their lives after being confined in a building’s basement, which Russian soldiers had converted into a base.The deaths of older adults were also attributed to their limited mobility and the inability to escape the aggression of Russian forces. For instance, one case involved a woman around 60 years old with an amputated leg who perished in a house fire caused by shelling in a populated area of Ukraine. Additionally, due to Russian obstruction of movement during the occupation of Kherson, several elderly individuals with diabetes lost their lives due to a lack of access to medication.

The UN report highlighted the severe consequences of power outages caused by Russian shelling on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure since October 2022. The power outages particularly impacted elderly individuals living in upper-floor apartments. When the elevators malfunctioned, it posed significant challenges and effectively trapped them inside their homes, exacerbating their vulnerability during the conflict.

Russian attacks

Russian military shelled nine regions of Ukraine over the past day (May 24), according to the consolidated report of the regional military administrations. 

Consequences of the enemy attacks: 

  • The enemy shelled Chernihiv Oblast four times with mortars and artillery on May 23. A total of 40 explosions were recorded. In the Koryukivskyi district, two local residents  detonated at a mine—one person died, and one was injured.
  • The Russians shelled the Khotyn community of Sumy Oblast during the night. Russians shelled with MLRS Velyka Pysarivka village from the territory of the Russian Federation. A private residential house, a garage, an auto-crane, a tractor, and other equipment were damaged. On May 23, the Russians conducted 10 shelling attacks on border communities. A total of 37 explosions were recorded. 
  • Russian forces launched 102 strikes on 23 towns and villages in Zaporizhzhia Oblast. The enemy carried out three airstrikes, seven UAV attacks, and 92 artillery strikes on these settlements. A total of 26 civilian objects, including private houses and apartments, were reported destroyed. 
  • On May 23, the enemy attacked the Nikopol, Marhanets, and Myrivska communities of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast with heavy artillery. A hotel and six private houses were damaged. Four outbuildings were heavily damaged, and one was destroyed entirely. Additionally, a gas pipeline was damaged in the attack.
  • In Kharkiv Oblast, fires were extinguished in the Velykoburlutska community, and in Ploske, the school building, office premises of the administrative building and the House of Culture, were destroyed by shelling, most likely carried out by “Shakhed” attacks. In Liptsi, private houses were damaged and windows were broken due to Russian shelling. Intense attacks were launched on Vovchansk, damaging residential buildings and vehicles. A local resident in Vovchansk sustained a mine-explosive injury of moderate severity. A local resident of Kupyansk sustained explosive injury.
  • The Russians conducted 24 shellings of Donetsk Oblast, targeting 10 towns and villages. As a result, 25 residential buildings (including 10 multi-apartment buildings), a railway track, a church building, a cultural center, a school, the Ukrtelecom building, the village council building, and the premises of AKHZ PJSC were damaged. Within a single day in Donetsk oblast, there were 11 wounded individuals, including one child.
  • The enemy fired artillery at Ochakiv in Mykolaiv Oblast on May 23; one person was injured. Private houses, cars, and infrastructure facilities were damaged and partially destroyed. Gas, electricity and Internet lines were also damaged.
  • The Russian forces carried out 64 shellings of Kherson Oblast, firing a total of 271 shells during the day. Among them, 11 shellings (47 shells) were directed at the city of Kherson.


Since the start of the full-scale Russian aggression, DTEK, the energy company, has successfully restored the operation of thermal power plants (TPPs) 23 times following their shutdown due to shelling by Russian invaders, DTEK reported on Telegram. DTEK has previously announced to invest over 890 million hryvnias in the repair of TPPs in preparation for the upcoming heating season since the beginning of 2023.

Zaporizhzhia NPP

According to the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, Russian invaders are utilizing Units 1, 2, and 4 of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) as a logistical and military base. The report confirms the presence of Russian military personnel, armored vehicles, and trucks stationed at these locations, with the numbers varying over time. Within a day, there can be between 5 and 20 equipment units near each power unit. Personnel rotation occurs discreetly during the curfew hours between 23:00 and 5:00. “All trucks are tightly covered. There is information that they may contain ammunition and explosives,” noted the Main Intelligence Directorate. According to intelligence data, the staff of the shifts responsible for inspecting the power units at least 1-2 times a week are not allowed onto the controlled territory. Those who attempted to conduct control rounds were subjected to beatings and torture. Several injured individuals are currently in the hospital in critical condition.

Operational situation

General conclusion: 

  • The enemy is concentrating its main efforts on defensive operations on all fronts and conducting local attacks in the Kupyansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Maryinka directions.
  • The intensity of combat operations in Bakhmut and its vicinity is decreasing.
  • The Russian authorities announced the completion of a “counter-terrorism” operation in the Belgorod region, claiming the destruction of the All-Russian Pro-Ukrainian Russian Volunteer Corps and the “Freedom of Russia” Legion on May 23. However, these units have reportedly successfully withdrawn back to Ukraine and held a press conference to refute the claims of their defeat.

Change in the line of contact (LoC):  

  • There were 26 armed clashes on various fronts. 
  • Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations near Masyutivka, Bilohorivka, Khromove, Hryhorivka, and Ivanivske.
  • Ukrainian Defensive Forces have advanced 200-400 meters on the flanks around Bakhmut and continue to control a number of buildings and fortifications in the southwestern part of Bakhmut. They have also made progress near Yahidne and repelled enemy attacks near Avdiivka, in the areas of Novokalynove, Severne, Vodyane, Pervomaiske, and Maryinka.
  • Russian forces are defending their positions on the Novopavlivka and Orikhivka fronts in Zaporizhzhia Oblast. They are actively mining the eastern bank of the Dnipro River and installing barriers to obstruct boats and other watercraft. Additionally, they are constructing new fortifications in Crimea along roads leading to the peninsula.

Change in enemy disposition: 

  • The 287th Separate Special Battalion of the 1st Army Corps is currently deployed south of Avdiivka.
  • Units of the 177th Separate Marine Regiment of the Caspian Flotilla are operating near Dorojnyanka in Zaporizhzhia Oblast.

Possible operation situation developments: 

  • The enemy will transition to a defensive stance on the Kupyansk, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Maryinka directions.
  • The defense forces will continue to shape the operational space, preparing favorable conditions for a counteroffensive operation.

Azov-Black Sea Maritime Operational Area: 

  • As of the afternoon on May 24, there were 6 enemy ships at sea. They were patrolling areas near the coast of Crimea and Krasnodar Krai. One of them, the frigate “Admiral Makarov,” is equipped with up to 8 “Kalibr” missiles.

There are currently six “Kalibr” missile carriers (up to 32 missiles) in the Black Sea bases:

  • Sevastopol: Project 636.3 submarine
  • Novorossiysk: Corvettes “Grayvoron,” “Vyshny Volochyok,” and three Project 636.3 submarines
  • Azov Sea: One “Kalibr” missile carrier (up to eight missiles) in Temryuk – PFS “Inigushetia.”
  • Caspian Sea: Four “Kalibr” missile carriers (up to 32 missiles) – in Kaspiysk: FFG “Dagestan,” PFSs “Uglich,” “Veliky Ustyug,” and “Grad Sviyazhsk.”
  • One patrol ship was on duty near the Kerch Strait Bridge. On the morning of May 24, at a distance of 74 km north of the Bosphorus Strait, the Russian Federation reconnaissance ship “Ivan Khurs” was attacked by three aerial drones. Russian media report that the attack was repelled, although the air defense capabilities of this ship are very limited (two 14.5mm machine guns). This ship has been patrolling the northern part of the Black Sea for a considerable time. It is likely that this is related to its monitoring of the US missile defense systems located in Romania. This incident with the drone attack has demonstrated the serious vulnerability of such ships without accompanying vessels even at a significant distance from the coast of Ukraine (about 400 km).
  • The enemy’s aviation continues its flights over the sea from the Crimean airfields of Belbek, Saky, Dzhankoy, and Hvardiyske. Nine 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.
  • Enemy’s military transport aviation conducted 2 aircraft flights to Hvardiyske Airport (Crimea) to deploy personnel and equipment. On May 24, significant smoke was observed near the Kerch Strait Bridge. The traffic for vehicles on the bridge was closed for 3 hours.

The Russian Parliament will consider the denunciation of the 2004 agreement with Ukraine on cooperation in the use of the Azov Sea and the Kerch Strait, as stated in the order of Russian President Vladimir Putin published on May 24. However, it’s worth noting that the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine already denounced all agreements with Russia regarding the Azov Sea on February 24, 2023, with the denunciation of the agreement on cooperation in the use of the Azov Sea and the Kerch Strait supported by 303 deputies.

Russian operational losses from 24.02.22 to 24.05.23

Personnel – almost 204,760 people (+400);

Tanks – 3,792 (+3);

Armored combat vehicles – 7,424 (+5);

Artillery systems – 3,339 (+21)

Multiple rocket launchers (MLRS) – 570 (+5);

Anti-aircraft warfare systems – 327 (0);

Vehicles and fuel tanks – 6,146 (+7);

Aircraft – 309 (0);

Helicopters – 296 (+1);

UAV operational and tactical level – 2,871 (+7);

Intercepted cruise missiles – 1,015 (0);

Boats/ships – 18 (0).



Japan has decided to supply Ukraine with approximately 100 military vehicles, showcasing a significant policy change in a country that previously had strict limitations on weapons transfers and the utilization of its Self-Defense Forces. 

Ukraine’s Ambassador to Germany has announced that Berlin will deliver 110 Leopard 1A5 MBTs to Ukraine.

“Let’s prepare for the uprising in Belarus because it will happen. You have to be ready to support the troops that will carry out the operation against Lukashenko,” former commander of the Polish Ground Forces General Waldemar Skrzypczak said. He believes that if the Ukrainian counter-offensive succeeds, the armed Belarusians who are serving in the Ukrainian military will not disarm. The Polish general believes that the Belarusian people will support the volunteers who are currently fighting on the Ukrainian side and “will go against Lukashenka with enthusiasm.” 

Meanwhile, Putin’s spokesperson asserted, “Poland is a state hostile to us… And we see that this state, hostile to us, actually openly speaks of its intention to interfere directly, including by force, in the internal affairs of a neighboring state. And this neighboring state is our partner, ally, and brotherly state to us. Naturally, the Russian Federation has obligations to ensure the security of Belarus, which we will do in the face of such an obvious threat.”

Dmitry Peskov, dismissing the possibility of a frozen conflict, stated that “Russia is only considering the possibility of completing a special military operation: ensuring its interests, achieving Russia’s goals either through a special military operation or by other available means.” 

Meanwhile, Sergei Naryshkin, Russia’s top intelligence official, has accused the Anglo-Saxons (a term Russia uses to refer to the West) of continuously expanding NATO, obstructing efforts to achieve a settlement in the conflict, and turning a blind eye to the growing “terrorism and violence” inflicted upon civilians by Ukraine. Naryshkin further delved into pseudo-religious and philosophical speculations, asserting that Russia, “unlike the West, has preserved a significant margin of strength and strategic depth in this respect. I mean a connection with the spiritual dimension of existence, traditions which in the United States and Europe long ago gave way to positivism, the cult of material success, and outright Satanism.”

Vladimir Putin made a statement that raised eyebrows among historians and experts. While examining a 17th-century French map, he declared, “No Ukraine existed in the history of humankind until then.” The map itself contradicted his claim, as it clearly bore the inscription “Vkraine ou Pays des Cosaques” (Ukraine, country of Cossacks) right in the middle of the territory of modern-day Ukraine. Russia’s President didn’t notice either that Crimea at the time belonged to the Crimean-Tatar Khanate and the contemporary territory of Saint Petersburg, his birthplace, belonged to Swedish Empire.

Additionally, he appeared to disregard the fact that the term “Ukraine” was documented as early as April 18, 1187, in the Ipatiev Scroll. It is important to note that Moscow was allegedly founded around that time but did not yet gain significant importance until after the Mongol invasion and the rise of Ivan Kalita, who acted in the interest of the Mongolian Empire.

Despite his legal background, Vladimir Putin often employs a distorted interpretation of history to justify his aggressive actions and disregard international and domestic law. 

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