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CDS Daily brief (25.05.23) | CDS comments on key events

Snapshot of the day:

General, humanitarian:

  • Ukraine has returned 106 of its military personnel from Russia’s captivity and one child who was deported by the occupation authorities to the Russian Federation;
  • Russian force attacked 13 Ukrainian Oblasts over the past day, killing 1 civilian and injuring 13;
  • Russian forces destroyed the dam of the Karlivka reservoir in Donetsk Oblast;
  • Andriy Yermak: no force will make Ukraine negotiate with Russia until Russian troops are withdrawn from Ukrainian territory; no mediation is needed as it does not work.   


  • The Russian military is focusing its main efforts on defensive operations across all directions, trying to complete the capture of Avdiivka and Maryinka. They are conducting local attacks to enhance their tactical position in the Kupyansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, Maryinka, and Shakhtarsk areas.
  • The Russian military command maintains a high intensity of airstrikes along the entire line of combat engagement; the enemy aviation is most active in the Zaporizhzhia, Kherson and Avdiivka directions.
  • Possible operation situation developments
  • The Russian military is anticipated to make efforts to strengthen its tactical position ahead of a potential Ukrainian counteroffensive. This may involve conducting localized offensive actions in specific directions.
  • In the coming 10-14 days, the “Wagner” PMC detachments are expected to be replaced by troops from the 1st Army Corps of the 8th Army in the Bakhmut area.
  • The Defense Forces will continue to shape the operational space, preparing favorable conditions for a counteroffensive operation.


  • Russia and Belarus have signed an agreement on deploying tactical nuclear weapons on Belarusian soil. The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is a global issue and must trigger a strong diplomatic and political response from the international community.
  • The U.S. State Department cleared a potential $285 million sale of NASAMS air defense systems; Finland will provide Ukraine with ammunition and anti-aircraft weapons worth €109 million. 
  • In retaliation for Stockholm’s actions, Moscow expelled five Swedish diplomats, revoked permission for the Swedish Consulate General in Saint Petersburg, and shut down its Consulate General in Gothenburg.

Humanitarian aspect

Ukraine has secured the return of 106 POWs from Russian captivity (8 officers and 98 soldiers and sergeants) from the Bakhmut direction. The last swap happened more than two weeks ago and resulted in the return of 45 defenders of Mariupol and Azovstal.

One more child deported by the Russian Federation returned to Ukraine with the help of the Ombudsman’s office. 

Russian forces have intentionally destroyed the dam of the Karlivka reservoir in Donetsk Oblast, posing a severe threat of flooding to the villages of Halytsynivka, Zhelanne-1, and Zhelanne-2. Pavlo Kyrylenko, the head of the Donetsk regional military administration, reported. He emphasized that the Russian forces have been targeting the dam with artillery fire since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, despite the fact that such an act would primarily harm innocent civilians. The local authorities are prepared to evacuate residents if necessary.

As of today, a staggering number of nearly 17,000 applications for financial aid from the state to repair housing damaged due to military aggression have been submitted in Kherson Oblast. On average, approximately 33% of buildings in the region have been either damaged or completely destroyed. That is, 14,200 residential buildings in the liberated part of the region will need to be restored. Another 6,000 houses were utterly destroyed, Oleksandr Prokudin, head of the Kherson regional military administration, said. He stressed that the numbers are not final since the shelling of the Oblast continues. 

Russian attacks

On Thursday night, Russia launched 36 Iranian-made kamikaze drones at Ukraine, all of which were shot down by Ukrainian air defense. In addition to Chernivtsi, Odesa and Mykolaiv Oblasts, 10 drones were shot down in Lviv Oblast. Over the past day, 13 Ukrainian Oblasts came under Russian attacks. 13 civilians were injured, and one civilian died in Donetsk, Kherson and Sumy Oblasts. Electric grid infrastructure was damaged in Chernivtsi Oblast. 

  • Kyiv Oblast was attacked by UAVs. Falling debris started a minor forest fire which was extinguished.
  • 10 “Shakhed 136” UAVs were shot down over Lviv Oblast. No hits or damage were recorded.
  • A fire broke out in a village of the Dnistrovsky district of Chernivtsi Oblast, probably due to falling debris from the “Shakhed 136” UAV. 3 residential buildings were damaged. Nobody was hurt. 
  • The Russians shelled the Koryukivskyi district of Chernihiv Oblast with artillery twice during the day. A private house was damaged in one of the villages. No victims.
  • The Russian occupiers shelled border territory and populated areas of Sumy Oblast 7 times (19 explosions) at night and in the morning. On May 24, during the day, the Russians carried out 23 shelling of the border. 84 explosions were recorded. 3 houses were damaged, two civilians were injured. An air missile was launched from the territory of the Russian Federation at Yunakiv community from an enemy aircraft. A preschool was damaged. 
  • Zaporizhzhya Oblast: the enemy fired 78 artillery strikes and two from MLRS on 16 towns and villages. Civilians were not affected.
  • Russian forces conducted artillery attacks on Nikopol, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, throughout the day and night. Additionally, a kamikaze drone targeted the area, causing damage to a private house in the Marhanets community.
  • During the night, the Russian military conducted a rocket attack on the village of Tsyrkuny in Kharkiv Oblast using an S-300 air defense system. As a result, a private home was damaged, but no casualties were reported. Over the past day, the enemy targeted at least 18 towns and villages with artillery, mortars, and rocket weapons. In Oleksandrivka, Izyum district, 33-year-old civilian sustained injuries due to the careless handling of an explosive device.
  • Luhansk Oblast: The enemy has slightly decreased the intensity of ground offensives but continues to shell villages and towns. Throughout the day, Russian forces launched 105 rounds (comprising 498 shells).
  • Russian forces conducted 27 shelling attacks in Donetsk Oblast, targeting 12 settlements. As a result, 14 residential buildings (including one multi-apartment building), a church building, three cars, power lines, a wagon depot hangar, five locomotives, and a warehouse were damaged. One civilian died, 6 were wounded.
  • During the night air attack, Ukrainian air defense shot down 1 “Shahed-131/136” kamikaze drone over Odesa Oblast. No hits were recorded.
  • The air defense of the “South” air command destroyed 3 Russian attack UAVs “Shahed-131/136” over Mykolaiv Oblast. On May 24, the enemy carried out artillery strikes on the water area of the Ochakiv community. There were no injuries or damage.
  • Kherson Oblast: the enemy launched 83 shellings (411 shells), including 2 artillery shells at the city of Kherson. The Russians targeted 26 towns and villages in the region. A 60-year-old woman was injured and hospitalized, 4 people were wounded.

Operational situation

General conclusion: 

  • The Russian military concentrates its main efforts on defensive operations in all directions, trying to complete the capture of Avdiivka and Maryinka; locally improve its tactical position in the Kupyansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, Maryinka, Shakhtarsk directions;
  • The Russian military command maintains a high intensity of airstrikes along the entire line of combat engagement; the enemy aviation is most active in the Zaporizhzhia, Kherson and Avdiivka directions.

Change in the line of contact (LoC):  

  • 28 military clashes took place in different directions.
  • In the Kupyansk direction, Russian forces do not stop trying to improve their tactical position. They conducted unsuccessful offensive actions in the areas of Masyutivka and Bilohorivka. Russian troops captured Yahidne and advanced a little near Spirne.
  • In the Bakhmut direction, during the past day, the Russian military conducted unsuccessful offensive actions in the direction of Ivanivske and Khromove. Military units of the 1st Army Corps of the 8th Army gradually enter Bakhmut to carry out a sweep.
  • In the Avdiivka direction, the Russian military carried out unsuccessful offensive actions in the direction of Novokalynove, Avdiivka, Pervomaiske, Vodyane and Nevelske. A concentrated artillery attack and two airstrikes with unguided aerial bombs were carried out on Avdiivka.
  • In the Maryinka direction, units of the Ukrainian Defense Forces successfully repelled multiple Russian attacks in the vicinity of Maryinka.
  • In the Shakhtarsk direction, Russian forces shelled Vodyane, Vuhledar and Velyka Novosilka.
  • The Russian military adopts a defensive stance in the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson directions. The Russian Air Force struck Kizomys and Beryslav with FAB-500 aerial bombs and Ukrainian positions near Polohy with KAB cluster bombs. Russian troops continue militarizing the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, utilizing power units 1, 2, and 4 to store military supplies. 

Change in enemy disposition: 

  • The “Akhmat-Vostok” Chechen unit operates near Kreminna.
  • Since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, more than 120,000 Russian servicemen have undergone training. 21,000 servicemen were trained to form new military units.
  • 117,400 servicemen were involved in Russian “volunteer” units.
  • Russian Higher Military Academies cadets are currently training near the Ukraine border. The training is taking place in the Kursk and Bryansk regions at the deployment points of units from the 4th Tank Division of the 1st Tank Army of the Western Military District, the 76th Air Assault Division of the Airborne Troops.

Escalation indicators: not identified

Possible operation situation developments: 

  • The Russian military will try to improve its tactical position on the eve of the Ukrainian counteroffensive, conducting local offensive actions in selected directions;
  • Over the next 10-14 days, the detachments of the Wagner PMC will be replaced with the troops of the 1st Army Corps of the 8th Army in Bakhmut. The forces that have lost combat capability will be withdrawn to rear areas for reconstitution. Active combat clashes will continue on the flanks in the area of Bakhmut, and the enemy will attempt to avoid the encirclement of their forces in the city.
  • 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 of May 25, there were 6 Russian ships at sea. They patrol the areas near the coast of Crimea and near the Russian Krasnodar Krai. There were no Kalibr missile carriers. 
  • Locations of ships/submarines of the Russian Navy:
  • Black Sea:
    • Frigate “Admiral Essen” (repairs in the dock), pr. 636.3 submarine, submarine “Alrosa”, frigates “Ladny”, “Pytlyvyy”, reconnaissance ship “Priazovye” – Sevastopol;
    • Frigate “Admiral Makarov”, corvettes “Vyshniy Volochyok”, “Grayvoron”, three pr. 636.3 submarines, patrol ship “Dmitry Rogachev” – Novorossiysk;
    • Corvettes “Askold”, “Zyklon” – Kerch;
    • Patrol ship “Pavel Derzhavin” – to the south of Cape Zaliznyi Rih;
    • Patrol ship “Vasily Bykov” – 100-140 km northeast of Zongulduk (Turkey);
    • Patrol ship “Sergey Kotov”, reconnaissance ship “Ivan Khurs” – 170-200 km northwest of Sinop (Turkey);
  • Sea of Azov:
    • Corvette “Inigushetia” – Temryuk;
    • Corvette “Eysk” – 10 km north of the Kerch Strait.
  • Location of large amphibious ships:
    • Landing ships “Kaliningrad”, “Cesar Kunikov” – Sevastopol;
    • Landing ships “Yamal”, “Olenegorsky Gorniak”, “Georgy Pobedonosets”, “Pyotr Morgunov”, “Korolyov”, “Minsk” – Novorossiysk;
    • Landing ship “Orsk” – Feodisiya.
    • Landing ships “Azov”, “Nikolai Filchenkov” and “Novocherkassk” are being repaired in Sevastopol.
  • On the morning of May 25, there were drone attacks in Sevastopol (in the area of the Kacha naval airfield of the Russian Federation) and in the northern part of Crimea (Dzhankoy). Operation of Russian anti-aircraft defense was noted. There is no information about the damage.
  • 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.
  • No signs of offensive formations have been detected on the territory of the Transnistria region of the Republic of Moldova. The armed formations of the self-proclaimed Pridnestrovia Moldavian Republic (PMR) remain in a state of combat readiness. Their main activity is focused on ensuring the security of military facilities, primarily the 1411 artillery depot (in the town of Kolbasna) and the Tiraspol airfield. Training exercises on communication have been conducted with the joint peacekeeping forces in the Transnistria region of the Republic of Moldova. In the future, the enemy will continue shelling the positions of Ukrainian units and civilian objects in Kherson and Mykolaiv Oblasts. It will take measures to establish control over the islands at the mouth of the Dnipro River and prevent Ukrainian units from anchoring on them.

Russian operational losses from 24.02.22 to 25.05.23

Personnel – almost 205260 people (+500);

Tanks – 3,795 (+3);

Armored combat vehicles – 7,432 (+8);

Artillery systems – 3,359 (+20)

Multiple rocket launchers (MLRS) – 570 (0);

Anti-aircraft warfare systems – 327 (0);

Vehicles and fuel tanks – 6,148 (+2);

Aircraft – 309 (0);

Helicopters – 296 (0);

UAV operational and tactical level – 2,907 (+36);

Intercepted cruise missiles – 1015 (0);

Boats/ships – 18 (0).

Ukraine, general news

According to the Head of the President’s Office, Andriy Yermak, nobody will be able to force Ukraine to talk to Russia before Russian troops are withdrawn from Ukrainian territory. Yermak said this to the Chinese and Brazilian emissaries. He also said that Ukraine needs no mediation since it already had negotiations with Russia in the Normandy format and knows this does not work. He also stressed that “Ukraine has its own peace plan, and we think it is fair – if the war continues on our territory, then the Ukrainian plan should be the basis of the settlement.”

International diplomatic aspect

Russia and Belarus have signed an agreement on deploying tactical nuclear weapons on Belarusian soil. The deal is being sold as “an effective response to the aggressive policy of countries unfriendly to us [Russia and Belarus] and, we hope, will make their leaders think about the inadmissibility of further escalation of the situation in the region.” 

Paradoxically, the Belarusian Defence Minister accused the West of “non-compliance with the security guarantees” to Belarus outlined in the Budapest Memorandum of December 5, 1994, as well as the ongoing militant rhetoric, backed up by practical actions against Minsk and Moscow. Neither Ukraine nor NATO member countries violated the Budapest MoU. It was Russia and in concert with Belarus, its junior partner, that launched the unprovoked aggression against Ukraine, thus violating the Budapest MoU, the U.N. Charter, the Helsinki Final Act, and their own Criminal codes that prohibit preparation, organization, and carrying out aggressive wars. 

It is unlikely that this deployment would necessitate the U.S. and NATO to relocate their existing resources, as it does not alter Russia’s nuclear capabilities. Instead, it appears to be an attempt to employ nuclear blackmail to halt security assistance to Ukraine, exploit potential divisions among Transatlantic allies, and compel the U.S. to engage in strategic stability talks that incorporate Russia’s security interests. Nevertheless, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is a global concern that demands a robust diplomatic and political response from the international community. The deployment provides an argument that the reckless actions of the illegitimate Belarusian leader have made all Belarusians potential targets in a nuclear conflict, offering no genuine sense of security since Moscow retains control over any use of nuclear weapons. Both Belarus and Ukraine have already endured the devastating consequences of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. It also gives an argument to talk to the so-called Global South and, foremost, China, which should be pressed to condemn the move to prove its recent statements portraying Beijing as a law-obeying and responsible international player.

The U.S. State Department has approved a potential $285 million sale of NASAMS air defense systems to Ukraine. Finland will provide Ukraine with additional military aid worth €109 million. The package includes ammunition and anti-aircraft weapons.

In retaliation to Stockholm’s decision to expel five Russian diplomats from the country, Moscow sent off five Swedish diplomats, recalled the permission for the Swedish Consulate General in Saint Petersburg, and closed its Consulate General in Gothenburg. Russia accused Sweden of the “ongoing Russophobic campaign,” which is a euphemism for any criticism of Putin’s regime and any actions to make Russia accountable for its crimes and malign activities. 

Russia’s Foreign Ministry made a démarche with the Ambassadors of Germany, Sweden, and Denmark regarding the investigation into the Nord Stream pipeline sabotage. Russia calls “unacceptable the refusal of the authorities of Germany, Denmark, and Sweden to cooperate with the Russian side in this case.” Moscow accused those countries of unwillingness to “establish the true circumstances of this sabotage” and an intention to “hide the traces and the true perpetrators of the crime, which, as we think, are well-known countries.”

Russia, relevant news

The Russian State Duma has passed a law that imposes penalties, including fines and arrest, for distributing maps of Russia that do not include Ukrainian territories occupied by Russia. The law considers any cartographic or other documents challenging the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation as “extremist” materials. This legislation applies to all maps that do not depict Crimea and other occupied territories as part of Russia. Individuals can face up to 15 days of arrest or a fine of up to three thousand rubles, while legal entities may be fined from 100 thousand to one million rubles.

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