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CDS Daily brief (30.05.23) | CDS comments on key events

Snapshot of the day:

General, humanitarian:

  • Over the past day, Ukrainian air defense shot down 51 Russian cruise missiles; there were 3 major waves of attacks, one at night and two during the day;
  • Overall, Russia attacked 10 Ukrainian Oblasts over the past day;
  • The IMF has confirmed expectations of a stronger economic recovery in Ukraine and upgraded the country’s GDP growth forecast to a range of 1-3% positive growth.


  • In the recent missile and air strike, Russian forces used more missiles than in any previous series of strikes since the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine;
  • The Russian military command is preparing an offensive operation to seize Siversk and is concentrating a strike grouping for this purpose.
  • Russian forces will try to surround Ukrainian Defense Forces in the Bilohorivka area.
  • Possible operation situation developments: The situation is favorable for the Ukrainian forces to develop success in the Bakhmut area;


  • Russia has claimed that its Armed Forces intercepted twenty-nine British-made Storm Shadow missiles, but the OSINT community has rejected this claim.
  • Vladimir Putin blamed Ukraine for the drone attack on Moscow and turned again to nuclear blackmail.
  • The Russian Foreign Ministry has accused the West of providing hypocritical assurances regarding Ukraine’s commitment not to strike deep into Russian territory. While the Department of State neither supported nor condemned Ukraine’s actions, the British Foreign Secretary stated that Ukraine has the right to project force beyond its borders to undermine Russia’s ability to project force into Ukraine. Ukrainian officials have denied any involvement.
  • Russia has recently added Valeriy Zaluzhny to its wanted list, despite previous claims that he had been killed. 
  • In addition to the official accusations against Ukraine, there are at least two popular theories worth considering, which involve the involvement of Kremlin-related security officials (siloviki) and the leader of the Wagner PMC.
  • The attack represents another personal setback for Putin, following the interception of his touted “hypersonic” missiles, which raises doubts about the effectiveness of Russia’s military-industrial complex, military capabilities, and leadership. Putin’s failure to protect his constituents erodes his legitimacy and is being recognized by both ordinary Russians and elites.
  • The Kremlin will attempt to capitalize on the shock and anger of the populace into a mobilization resource, but it is unlikely to yield significant results.

Humanitarian aspect

Ukraine returned bodes of its 79 fallen servicemen from the occupied territories as a result of an exchange. 

According to the State Agency for Reconstruction and Development of Infrastructure, Russia’s armed aggression in Ukraine resulted in the destruction of 346 bridges, with 157 of them located on central government-owned roads. As of the end of May 2023, the agency has managed to rebuild 12 bridges.

Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal announced the start of the second stage of the “e-Recovery” program aimed at compensating Ukrainians for housing destroyed during hostilities. The first stage involved financial aid to those whose homes were damaged and could be repaired. There are, however, multiple cases where there’s nothing left to repair, Shmyhal said. More than 15,000 applications have already been submitted. 

Russian attacks

Air defense forces shot down more than 20 Russian drones over Kyiv on the night of May 30. It’s the 17th Russian attack on the Ukrainian capital since the beginning of May. 

During the Russian night attack, debris from the explosions damaged a high-rise building in the Holosiyiv district of Kyiv; one person died, and four others were hospitalized. Damage to buildings and cars was recorded due to falling debris in six city districts.

The law enforcement officers of Kyiv Oblast received over 50 reports of damage to residential properties, offices, shops, and vehicles caused by the attack.  Overall, 1 person died, and 13 people were injured in Kyiv and Kyiv Oblast due to the night attack. 

Russia continued attacking peaceful and frontline regions of Ukraine. Over the past day, 10 Ukrainian Oblasts came under Russia’s fire. 


According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy, as of May 30, the generated electricity is sufficient to meet the needs of consumers. There were no reported hits or damage to the energy infrastructure due to the night drone attack. However, the enemy continues to attack front-line and border areas. Six villages in Donetsk Oblast were cut off due to shelling, and some consumers in Dnipropetrovsk, Sumy, and Kharkiv Oblasts also experienced power outages. Due to previous attacks, some consumers in the Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, and Chernihiv regions also remain without electricity. Repair crews work where the security situation allows. During the day, power was successfully restored to 23,800 consumers, the Ministry said.

Occupied territories

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced that approximately 1.5 million people from the Ukrainian regions occupied by the Russian Federation had received Russian passports since October 2022. According to the Russian authorities, these documents were issued in the Russian-occupied areas of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts of Ukraine following the annexation.


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, and Maryinka directions;
  • In the missile and air strike that took place the previous day, Russian forces utilized a significantly higher number of missiles compared to the recent series of strikes launched since the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
  • The Russian military command is preparing an offensive operation to capture Siversk. They are concentrating a strike grouping for this purpose;
  • Russian forces will try to surround Ukrainian Defense Forces in the Bilohorivka area.

Change in the line of contact (LoC):  

  • 27 military clashes took place in different directions.
  • On the Kupyansk direction, Russian forces unsuccessfully attacked in the areas of Masyutivka and Khrokhmalne of Kharkiv Oblast and Novoselivske and Stelmakhivka of Luhansk Oblast. Ukrainian Defense Forces repelled Russian attempts to attack near Torske, Spirne. Russian troops have advanced to Bilohorivka from the northeast and are trying to surround Ukrainian forces in the area.
  • On the Bakhmut direction, the pace of the Russian offensive remains noticeably low. Ukrainian defense forces advanced in the direction of Klishchiivka.
  • On the Avdiivka direction, Russian troops unsuccessfully stormed the positions of the Ukrainian Defense Forces in the Pervomaiske, Severne, and Velyka Novosilka areas.
  • On the Maryinka direction, Ukrainian Defense Forces repelled 12 Russian attacks in the Maryinka area.
  • On the Shakhtarsk direction, positional battles were taking place near Vuhledar. Russian forces are fortifying their defensive lines and positions around Mariupol amid ongoing Ukrainian strikes on Russian rear areas near the city. They are bringing logs into the city for the construction of dugouts.
  • In Zaporizhzhia Oblast, Russian troops continue to build defensive structures, camouflage equipment and manpower in the Bohatyrsky Forest near Melitopol.

Change in enemy disposition: 

  • Units of the 106th airborne division of the Russian Airborne Forces were spotted north of Bakhmut.
  • Units of the 34th Separate Motorized Brigade (G) of the 49th Army (Southern Military District) operate in Kherson Oblast.
  • Unidentified Chechen units are active on the Arabat Spit, where they carry out tasks to prevent desertion.

Escalation indicators: 

  • A train carrying the S-400 air defense system (at least a battery) arrived at the 25th Missile Arsenal in Stovbtsy, Minsk Oblast, Belarus. These systems are likely to be used by the Air Defense Forces of the Republic of Belarus, but remain under the operational control of the Russian Federation.

Possible operation situation developments: 

  • The enemy will seek to improve its tactical position ahead of the Ukrainian counteroffensive by carrying out localized offensive actions on specific fronts.
  • The Defense Forces will continue to shape the operational space, preparing favorable conditions for the conduct of the counteroffensive operation.
  • The units of the Defense Forces operating in the Bakhmut area may take advantage of the enemy’s troop rotations and the overall decrease in the intensity of combat clashes on this front to advance their success.

Azov-Black Sea Maritime Operational Area: 

  • As of the afternoon of May 30, there were seven Russian ships at sea, conducting patrols in the vicinity of the Crimean coast and the Russian Krasnodar Krai. Among them, four ships (a frigate and three corvettes) were equipped with Kalibr missiles capable of launching a total of up to 32 missiles. Notably, missile ships and submarines did not participate in the recent mass missile attacks on Ukraine on May 28-29.
  • One Russian ship is on patrol in the Sea of Azov.
  • Russian aviation continues to fly from the Crimean airfields of Belbek, Saky, Dzhankoy and Hvardiyske over the sea. Seven fighter aircraft from Belbek and Saki Air Force Bases were involved in monitoring the surface and air conditions in the northwestern part of the Black Sea, namely two Su-27/30 (BELBEK), two Su-30SM, two Su-24M and one MiG-29 UK (SAKY). 
  • 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.

Russian operational losses from 24.02.22 to 30.05.23 

Personnel – almost 207,440 people (+410);

Tanks – 3,802 (+1);

Armored combat vehicles – 7,469 (+2);

Artillery systems – 3,445 (+10)

Multiple rocket launchers (MLRS) – 575 (0);

Anti-aircraft warfare systems – 332 (+1);

Vehicles and fuel tanks – 6,219 (+12);

Aircraft – 313 (0);

Helicopters – 298 (0);

UAV operational and tactical level – 3,092 (+38);

Intercepted cruise missiles – 1,107 (+51);

Boats/ships – 18 (0).

Ukraine, general news

The IMF mission has confirmed its expectations of a stronger economic recovery in Ukraine and has revised the country’s GDP growth forecast to “plus” 1-3% despite the uncertainties related to the ongoing war. These findings are outlined in the results of the first review of the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) program for Ukraine. The IMF noted that the Ukrainian economy is gradually adjusting to the conditions imposed by the war, which contributes to the anticipated stronger recovery.

International diplomatic aspect

Russia’s Minister of Defense claimed its Armed Forces had intercepted twenty-nine British-made Storm Shadow long-range missiles. However, “@WhereisRussia” stated that it was a complete fabrication. “We have geo-located and verified eight successful Storm Shadow strikes, each using an average of 4x missiles per strike. There is no evidence to suggest any of them have been intercepted. Yet there is plenty of evidence proving that they have destroyed multiple Command and Control centers, airfield facilities, and logistics hubs,” an OSINT organization twitted.

Vladimir Putin accused Ukraine of being responsible for the drone attack on Moscow and its suburbs, framing it as a retaliatory response to an alleged Russian attack on Ukraine’s Military Intelligence Headquarters. Putin spent some efforts to put the incident into a broader context of Ukraine turning into “anti-Russia” and its expressed aspirations to join NATO.

Vladimir Putin repeated his favorite propaganda plot: “In 2014, as you know, they carried out a coup d’état and simply began to destroy everyone who, one way or another, would like to build normal relations with Russia. And besides that, they started a war in the Donbas.” “Russia was forced to respond to the war unleashed by the Ukrainian regime in the Donbas; we were all forced to respond by launching a Special Military Operation – strikes are being made on the territory of Ukraine, but with long-range high-precision weapons precisely at military infrastructure facilities or at ammunition depots, or fuel and lubricants used for the conduct of hostilities,” he stated. Russia’s President reverted to his recurring tactic of implicit nuclear blackmail, suggesting that there are additional threats, such as attempts to disrupt the operation of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant or employ “dirty” devices associated with the nuclear industry.

The Russian Interior Ministry has included Valeriy Zaluzhny on its wanted list, despite Russia’s propaganda claiming for over a week that the Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine’s Armed Forces had been killed in a missile strike.

The Russians accused the West that “assurances from NATO officials that the Kyiv regime will not strike deep into Russian territory turn out to be completely hypocritical.” The Russian diplomats don’t see the hypocritical justification of war and Russia’s deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure and civilians for more than a year of all-out war, if not since 2014. The Foreign Ministry confused the U.S. assurances that its weapons shouldn’t be used to target proper Russia, while there is no limitation on using Ukrainian or other capabilities. 

“We have been focused on providing Ukraine with the equipment and training they need to retake their own sovereign territory, and that’s exactly what we’ve done. Today was also Russia’s 17th round of air strikes on Kyiv this month, many of which have devastated civilian areas, as Russia continues its brutal attacks against the people of Ukraine… Russia started this unprovoked war against Ukraine. Russia could end it at any time by withdrawing its forces from Ukraine instead of launching brutal attacks against Ukraine’s cities and people every day,” the U.S. National Security Council spokesperson said. 

U.K.’s Foreign Secretary’s stance was more definite and precise. “Ukraine does have the legitimate right to defend itself. It has the legitimate right to do so within its own borders, of course, but it does also have the right to project force beyond its borders to undermine Russia’s ability to project force into Ukraine itself. So legitimate military targets beyond its own border are part of Ukraine’s self-defense. And we should recognize that,” James Cleverly stated. 

The adviser to the President of Ukraine said, “Of course, we enjoy watching and predicting an increase in attacks. But of course, we have nothing to do directly with it. What is growing in Russia is the karmic payment that Russia will gradually pay in aggravated form for everything it does in Ukraine.”

According to a poll conducted by the Kyiv International Sociology Institute in February 2023, 90% of Ukrainians expressed support for targeting Russian territory (39% – military and energy infrastructure, 38% – only military one, and 13% – reciprocal hits of all kinds of targets), 

“Undoubtedly, sabotage and terrorist attacks by Ukraine will only grow. We need to drastically strengthen defense and security measures, especially in the area of countering drones,” a Russian MP from Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party wrote on his Telegram. “The aim of the raid was probably to ferret out the Moscow air defenses and reveal their vulnerabilities. Apparently, several objectives were pursued. Primarily, testing various unmanned systems in practice. Secondly, looking at the efficiency of using several drones at a time,” another M.P. told the media. 

But the most colorful reaction came from Yevgeny Prigozhin, chief of the Wagner PMC. “Regarding the drones that fly over Moscow and in Moscow – you stinking animals, what are you doing? You are swine! Get up off your asses from the offices you’ve been put in to defend this country. You are the Ministry of Defense. You didn’t do a damn thing to stamp this out,” he said. Yevgeny Prigozhin has criticized the military leadership for quite some time, aiming to undermine their positions within the Kremlin’s towers of power and taking credit for the only Russian military “victory” achieved so far. However, God knows how many Russian military personnel, mobilized mercenaries, and criminals were killed for capturing Bakhmut, a merely symbolic town. 

“One of the basic conditions for the existence of Putin’s state is a sense of impunity among the vampiric elites… Today’s UAVs over Rublyovka [a posh district] and other golden areas of the western suburbs are beginning to destroy the foundation of Putinism – a sense of impunity,” Ilya Ponomarev, a former Russian MP, opposition politician related to Russian freedom fighters, wrote on his Facebook.

Besides the official accusations against Ukraine, there are at least two popular alternative theories to consider. One theory suggests that Kremlin-related siloviki (security and military officials) may have staged the attack to justify further mobilization efforts and portray the war as a new “Great Patriotic War.” 

Yevgeny Prigozhin might be another beneficiary trying to get more power and influence by undermining the Russian military and to acquire a more formal role. Without a doubt, he is a type of character, a brutally honest and honestly brutal, which the Russian “deep people,” a category invented by Vladislav Surkov, one of the architects of the Putin regime, would support. In general, it is a mass of people with no agency, who live their lives parallel to those in Moscow, yet occasionally are used by it in “party meetings, wars, elections, economic experiments.”

Whoever is behind the attack, there are several important implications. First, Russia may try to escalate though it is incapable of doing so anymore. It has already employed every available means and method (massive missile and drone attacks on military, critical, civilian infrastructure, civilians per se). However, these threats may ultimately prove to be empty, as seen in previous instances. Nonetheless, Putin and his spokespeople are likely to intensify their efforts to blackmail the West by emphasizing the “red line” of targeting “proper Russia” in an attempt to pressure the United States into limiting Ukraine’s actions. Russia will need to disperse its scarce resources to protect Moscow, as well as the Ukraine – Russia border that the Russian freedom fighters have regularly penetrated.

Yet the most important consequences of the attack are highly damaging to Vladimir Putin, who was on display in his confusing comments and body language while he was commenting about the strike. Though Russians claimed that they destroyed all incoming drones, the fact that the drones could reach multi-layered air defense so deep into Russia casts doubts on the technology, technical capabilities, and professionalism of the military personnel and military leadership who neglected the security of the Russian capital. This incident followed Putin’s recent personal humiliation when Ukraine demonstrated its ability to intercept the Kinzhal “hypersonic” missiles, which Putin had proudly promoted as a technological wonder. The incident caused the arrest of three engineers related to the development of the missile.

The Kremlin will try to mobilize the shock and anger of the Russian population, known as the “deep people,” but this strategy is unlikely to succeed. Russian political strategists have been discussing the need to create a compelling rationale for the war that resonates with the Russian people. They noticed that the Ukrainian nation has a clear goal of protecting its country, which is generating social cohesion and strong resistance. Meanwhile, Russian morale and motivation are waning as the initial imperial impulse has lost its momentum.

Thomas Hobbes’ political theory is obsessed with the need for security, and so is Vladimir Putin. In the “Hobbesian” system Vladimir Putin has constructed in Russia, a sovereign’s authority is undermined when he fails to ensure the security and protection of his subjects. 

Furthermore, Putin’s failure to prioritize the common good and ensure the well-being of the Russian people is noticeably leading to a loss of relative prosperity, economic stability, and diminishing freedoms. The inadequate defense of the capital, as well as the country as a whole, will eventually disperse remnants of the spell put on Russians by Putin’s rule political strategists who build the system on the notion of total security and protection. This disillusionment is even more evident among political elites, who increasingly view Putin as a liability rather than a viable leader. As a result, the countdown for a potential mutiny has begun. 

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