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CDS Daily brief (31.05.23) | CDS comments on key events

Snapshot of the day:

General, humanitarian:

  • The Russian forces attacked nine oblasts of Ukraine within the last day, killing and injuring Ukrainian civilians.
  • Over 27,000 Ukrainian civilians are reportedly held on Russian territory, according to Ukrainian Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights.
  • Since the start of the full-scale Russia’s war in Ukraine, 284 Ukrainian healthcare facilities have been fully reconstructed, and 319 facilities partially restored.
  • Approximately 500 civilians remain in Bakhmut. According to official information, 204 civilians, including four children, have been killed, and 505 have been injured. The actual numbers are likely higher. Before the full-scale invasion, around 70,000 people lived in Bakhmut.
  • During the period of Russian attacks on Kyiv from May 26 to May 31, SES reported the discovery of 112 locations of debris from enemy ammunition, missiles, and drones, resulting in damage to 237 objects. Additionally, the SES extinguished 15 fires during this timeframe.


  • Russian forces are trying to surround Ukrainian Defense Forces in the Bilohorivka area.
  • The replacement of enemy units is ongoing on the Bakhmut direction.
  • The enemy has intensified its activity in the Vuhledar area.
  • A new tactic has been observed in the enemy’s efforts to breach the Ukraine’s air defense system. Strike UAVs are now deployed in groups from multiple directions at low altitudes, separating into different roles. There has been a notable enhancement in the coordination of deployed assets within the strike.
  • Russian Tu-95 bombers, involved in missile and air strikes on Ukraine, did not carry full combat loads in any of the attacks, suggesting the enemy’s command attempts to reduce the aircraft’s workload and prevent breakdowns.


  • The U.S. has announced an additional $300 million security package, which includes various munitions and defense systems.
  • The Biden Administration publicly stated, in discontent with some European allies, that it does not support attacks on Russian soil. It came as Germany’s government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit said that under international law, Ukraine has a legitimate right to defend itself against Russian attacks while commenting on the Moscow drone attack. The European Parliament President believes that drone attacks on Moscow shouldn’t have any impact on the E.U.’s support for Ukraine. 
  • Russia killed at least 483 children, Ukraine’s President told a conference on the occasion of International Children’s Day. Ukraine’s Ombudsman, Dmytro Lubinets, stated that Ukrainian children, civilian hostages, and prisoners of war were forcibly moved through Belarusian territory with the involvement of Belarusian authorities. According to a Belarusian opposition politician, approximately 2,150 Ukrainian children were forcibly relocated to “recreation” camps and “sanatoriums” on Belarusian territory. Russian independent media outlet “Important Stories” estimated that Russia could have forcefully transferred around 2,500 orphans from Ukraine.

Humanitarian aspect

In a recent briefing, Ukrainian Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights, Dmytro Lubinets, stated that the Ukrainian authorities had received information suggesting that Russia currently holds more than 27,000 Ukrainian civilians on its territory, reported Ukrinform. “This is a staggering number of our citizens who are effectively being held captive by the Russians,” he said.


According to the Ministry of Health press service, 284 healthcare facilities have been fully reconstructed since the onset of the full-scale war in Ukraine. Additional 319 facilities were partially restored. The statement highlights that a total of 1,327 healthcare facilities suffered damage, with 183 facilities completely destroyed during the 15 months of full-scale war. Among the regions that incurred the most significant losses in their medical infrastructure are Kharkiv, Donetsk, Mykolaiv, Kyiv, and Chernihiv Oblasts.


According to the legitimate mayor of Bakhmut, Oleksiy Reva, there are approximately 500 civilians who remain in the city. He said the authorities had documented 204 civilian casualties, including four children, and 505 injured individuals, but he emphasized that the actual numbers are likely higher.

According to Reva, before Russia’s full-scale invasion, Bakhmut confidently held a leading position in the All-Ukrainian Network of Cities for Sustainable Development. “As one of the oldest corners of the Donetsk region, Bakhmut, celebrating its 452nd anniversary this year, rightfully entered the League of Historic Cities of Ukraine. It held strong positions in the All-Ukrainian ranking of the top 55 cities, and for several years consecutively, it was among the top five leaders in terms of social and economic development in the regional ranking,” he noted. Around 70,000 people lived in Bakhmut. Now, the residents of Bakhmut, seeking refuge from the war, are scattered across Ukraine, with many leaving the country altogether. 

According to the local Administration’s data, as of the beginning of 2023, during months of siege, Bakhmut was destroyed by 60%, and by May, it was almost entirely devastated.

Russian attacks

According to the consolidated report from oblast military administrations, the Russian forces attacked nine oblasts of Ukraine within the last day.

  • In Chernihiv Oblast, the enemy carried out four mortar attacks in the Novhorod-Siverskyi district. 
  • Sumy Oblast was targeted by Russian shelling six times during the night and morning, with 36 explosions recorded. 
  • Russian forces carried out 69 strikes on 17 towns and villages in Vasylivka and Polohy districts of Zaporizhzhia Oblast. Orikhiv and Zaliznychne were affected by airstrikes, while Hulyaipole and Mala Tokmachka experienced four shelling incidents from multiple rocket launchers. Sixteen residential houses and infrastructure facilities were reported destroyed on the front-line territory.
  • An 8-year-old boy sustained minor injuries during the morning attack on Dnipropetrovsk Oblast.
  • Over the past day, the enemy conducted mass shelling on at least 10 towns and villages of Kharkiv Oblast. Yesterday, a 72-year-old man was injured due to artillery shelling in Vovchansk.
  • In Donetsk Oblast, one person was killed, and six were injured during the day. Nineteen residential buildings (including three multi-apartment buildings), four buildings of the Gornyak Vocational School, a police department, power transmission lines, a library, a narcology clinic, an outpatient clinic, and two premises of the agricultural firm were damaged. 
  • In Mykolaiv Oblast, the enemy shelled Ochakiv, partially destroying and damaging residential buildings and utility structures.
  • The enemy conducted 49 shelling attacks on Kherson Oblast, including two attacks (5 shells) on Kherson. The Russians targeted areas of 21 towns and villages. Yesterday morning, an 84-year-old woman was injured as a result of shelling. On the banks of the Inhulets River, a 27-year-old man lost part of his leg due to the detonation of a Russian explosive device. In total, five people were injured in the Kherson region due to Russian aggression during the day. Today, May 31, a three-year-old girl was wounded by Russian forces during the shelling of Shyroka Balka village.

Aftermath of Russia’s attacks on Kyiv: 

According to Alexander Khorunzhiy, spokesperson for the State Emergency Service (SES), between May 26 and May 31, a total of 112 locations of debris from destroyed enemy ammunition, remnants of missiles, and drones were discovered in Kyiv and the surrounding region, resulting in damage to 237 objects. Of these incidents, over 100 occurred in Kyiv, while 130 occurred in the Kyiv region. The SES successfully extinguished 15 fires during this period, with 10 of them occurring in Kyiv and 5 in the Kyiv region.

Occupied territories

The Russian occupiers have announced that they have transferred 375 children from the temporarily occupied territories of Kherson Oblast to the Western Caucasus for “rehabilitation,” according to Yuriy Sobolevsky, the First Deputy Chairman of the Kherson Regional Council. The official stressed that these figures cannot be confirmed as accurate and final.

Operational situation

General conclusion: 

  • The enemy is concentrating its main efforts on conducting defensive operations in all directions. They continue attempts to complete the capture of Maryinka and locally improve their tactical position on the Kupyansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Maryinka directions.
  • The enemy attempts to encircle the Defense Forces units in the Bilohorivka area.
  • The replacement of enemy units is ongoing on the Bakhmut direction.
  • The enemy has intensified its activity in the Vuhledar area.
  • The enemy is employing a new tactic to penetrate the air defense system of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Strike UAVs are deployed simultaneously from multiple directions in groups at low altitudes, and then separate. After separation, some UAVs engage targets while others create a barrage around selected target areas, anticipating the response of the air defense system. Various types of missiles and UAVs are utilized in a single strike to exhaust the Ukrainian air defense system. There has been a notable enhancement in the coordination of deployed assets within the strike.
  • Russian Tu-95 bombers, involved in missile and air strikes on Ukraine, did not carry full combat loads in any of the attacks. This indicates the exhaustion of gliders and an attempt by the enemy command to reduce the workload on the aircraft and prevent accidents and breakdowns.

Change in the line of contact (LoC):  

  • There have been 22 combat clashes in various directions. 
  • On the Kupyansk direction, the enemy carried out unsuccessful offensive actions west of Masyutivka in Kharkiv Oblast and in the Novoselivka direction in Luhansk Oblast. A Russian sabotage and reconnaissance group (DRG) made an unsuccessful attempt to cross the Ukrainian-Russian border in Zelene, Kharkiv Oblast. The Russian forces face challenges staffing regular units and rely on Chechen units, Cossacks, territorial defense units, the BARS formation, and “Storm-Z” units.
  • On the Lyman direction, the enemy conducted offensive actions south of Kuzmyne, in the area of Stelmakhivka; attacked Bilohorivka with the forces of the 127th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade of the 2nd Army Corps and the 7th Squadron of the BARS.
  • On the Avdiivka direction, the enemy conducted offensive actions towards Severne without success. Russian forces made slight progress southwest of Vodyane near the E50 highway. 
  • On the Maryinka direction, Ukrainian defenders successfully repelled all attacks launched by the enemy’s “Storm” units in the Maryinka area and in the areas of Pobieda and Novomykhailivka.
  • On the Shakhtarsk direction, Russian forces attempted to advance near Velyka Novosilka; the fighting near Vuhledar intensified. Ukrainian Defense Forces successfully pushed the enemy to retreat from the southwestern part of Mykilske, beyond the Kashlagach River. Ukrainian Su-24 bombers, using Storm Shadow missiles, targeted the enemy’s concentration area, likely belonging to the 155th separate marines brigade in the Mariupol region.

Change in enemy disposition: 

  • The enemy battalion “Yug (South)-Akhmat” operates on the Orikhiv direction.

Escalation indicators: not detected.

Possible operation situation developments: 

  • The enemy will attempt to improve its tactical position ahead of the Ukrainian counteroffensive by conducting localized offensive actions on selected directions.
  • Defense forces will continue to shape the operational space, preparing favorable conditions for the conduct of the counteroffensive operation.

Azov-Black Sea Maritime Operational Area: 

  • As of midday on May 31, there were 9 enemy ships in the sea. They were patrolling primarily in the areas near Novorossiysk. Three of them (a corvette and two Project 636.3 submarines) are equipped with “Kalibr” missiles, with a total salvo of up to 16 missiles. 
  • In the Azov Sea, there is one enemy ship on patrol.
  • The enemy’s aviation continues flights over the sea from the Crimean airfields of Belbek, Saky, Dzhankoy, and Hvardiyske. To monitor the surface and air situation in the northwestern part of the Black Sea waters, eight fighter aircraft were deployed from the airfields of Saky and Belbek: two Su-27/30 (Belbek), two Su-30SM, two Su-24M, and two MiG-29 UK (Saky).
  • Air situation and operational-tactical aviation control over the Azov Sea waters were conducted by the A-50U Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft.

“The Grain Initiative” 

  • Ukraine may allow the transit of Russian ammonia through its territory if it receives guarantees from Russia and the UN that the Black Sea Grain Initiative will operate without hindrance, according to Deputy Minister of Ukraine’s Reconstruction, Yuriy Vaskov. It is noted that the aggressor country, Russia, insists on resuming ammonia transit through a pipeline connecting Tolyatti in Russia to the Black Sea port of “Pivdenny” near Odesa, with a capacity to transport up to 2.5 million tons of ammonia per year. Moscow has made the resumption of transit one of the conditions for continuing the “grain agreement.” Furthermore, the United Nations also supports the resumption of ammonia supply through this pipeline, seeking to assist global food security. Vaskov emphasized that Ukraine lacks a clear understanding of whether the ammonia pipeline alone can resolve the current situation, highlighting the need for comprehensive assurances and guarantees from all parties involved. Russia continues to block incoming vessel arrivals to the “Pivdenny” port, despite the resumption of the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

Russian operational losses from 24.02.22 to 31.05.23 

Personnel – almost 207,910 people (+470);

Tanks – 3,802 (0);

Armored combat vehicles – 7,472 (+3);

Artillery systems – 3,460 (+15)

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

Anti-aircraft warfare systems – 333 (+1);

Vehicles and fuel tanks – 6,230 (+11);

Aircraft – 313 (0);

Helicopters – 298 (0);

UAV operational and tactical level – 3,124 (+32);

Intercepted cruise missiles – 1,107 (0);

Boats/ships – 18 (0).

International diplomatic aspect

The United States has announced an additional $300 million security package, which includes various munitions and defense systems. This package comprises munitions for Patriot air defense systems, AIM-7 missiles for air defense, Avenger air defense systems, Stinger anti-aircraft systems, ammunition for HIMARS, precision aerial munitions, 155mm and 105mm rounds, and tens of millions of rounds of small arms ammunition, among other items.

Meanwhile, in discontent with some European allies, the Biden Administration publicly stated that it does not support attacks on Russian soil. White House National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, John Kirby, emphasized that the United States agrees that Ukraine has the right to self-defense. However, he expressed the Administration’s intention not to encourage or enable attacks inside Russia to prevent further escalation of the conflict. These statements coincided with the German government spokesperson, Steffen Hebestreit, affirming Ukraine’s legitimate right to defend itself against Russian attacks under international law, specifically in response to the Moscow drone attack. 

According to Roberta Metsola, the President of the European Parliament, the recent drone attacks on Moscow should not influence the European Union’s support for Ukraine. “I think anyone who makes this argument is forgetting the fact that Russia invaded Ukraine. This is not a conflict between two countries. This is one country invading another and taking part of its territory,” Roberta Metsola said. Earlier, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly stated that Ukraine might hit “legitimate military targets beyond its own border” as a part of Ukraine’s self-defense.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has expressed dissatisfaction with the German Government’s decision to revoke the licenses of four out of five Russian Consulates General in Germany, namely in Hamburg, Leipzig, Munich, and Frankfurt am Main. Germany took this action in response to Moscow’s limitation on the number of German officials permitted in Russia. Moscow regards it as “another unfriendly step aimed at further destroying Russian-German relations, spanning decades of multifaceted, intense, and mutually beneficial cooperation.” Russia viewed this decision as another unfriendly step aimed at deteriorating Russian-German relations. Threatening retaliatory measures, Russia placed the blame for the “escalation” on Germany and called for it to cease its actions.

According to the Russian independent media outlet “Important Stories,” it is estimated that Russia may have forcibly transferred approximately 2,500 orphans from Ukraine. This estimation is consistent with statements made by Russian Children’s “Ombudswoman,” ICC wanted Maria Lvova-Belova, who declared in October 2022 that Russia had taken in “1.5-2.5 thousand children” from dangerous areas of Donbas at various times.

Lawyers from the Lithuanian human rights organization Every Human Being, along with activists from the Kidnapping project, have urged the United Nations to investigate the actions of Karim Atassi, the head of the Russian office of the U.N. Refugee Agency. They have accused Atassi of negligence and concealing the forced transfer of Ukrainian children to Russia. They argue that the forced deportation of children aligns with the conventional definition of genocide and highlight the harsh treatment and inhumane conditions experienced by the repatriated children.

Ukraine’s Ombudsman, Dmytro Lubinets, stated that Ukrainian children, civilian hostages, and prisoners of war were forcibly moved through Belarusian territory with the involvement of Belarusian authorities. According to a Belarusian opposition politician, approximately 2,150 Ukrainian children, including orphans between the ages of six and fifteen, were forcibly relocated to “recreation” camps and “sanatoriums” on Belarusian territory.  

“Russia killed -, and that is why I will have such wording – Russia killed at least 483 children. Killed. This is not something that can be called with the words “they became victims of Russian aggression” or “they died as a result of an armed conflict.” No! Russia killed these children. Russia crippled nearly a thousand more children. And it cannot be said that “they were injured as a result of hostilities,” the President of Ukraine told the conference “U.A.: War. Unsung lullaby” on the occasion of International Children’s Day.”

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