Issue 310, 1 May – 7 May (Weekly update) (Free access)
Situational report 1 May – 7 May
BLUF: Last week did not deliver significant changes on the battlefields in Ukraine; Russians made no progress in Bakhmut, while their attacks in Avdiivka were repelled. Ukrainian units, however, became visibly active in southern parts of the Donetsk Oblast, which could be a part of their counteroffensive plan.
Key takeaways from last week’s developments:
- No fundamental changes occurred in Ukraine last week; The war is probably now moving away from the transitory phase to the more active part characterised by an increased number and intensity of Ukrainian attacks;
- Last week, Russians conducted no sizable air and missile strikes, although Kyiv claimed to have shot down 50 kamikaze UAVs;
- The situation in the Kharkiv Oblast remained unchanged as all Russian attacks were repelled; The region continued to be deprioritised by Russians and Ukrainians;
- Despite numerous attempts, Russians made no confirmed territorial gains in the Luhansk Oblast; The frontline around Kreminna remained deadlocked; Last week, the attackers were mainly focused on assaults near Bilohorivka, where they may have advanced slightly;
- Russians made no confirmed gains in Bakhmut, although tactical frontline fluctuations have most likely happened; We maintain that a Wagner pullback from Bakhmut was unlikely, and this assessment was confirmed last week, despite the gradually fiery relationship between Wagner and Russian General Staff/MoD; Wagner continues to control around 75 per cent of the city;
- Russians may have progressed near Novobakhmutivka, while all other attacks were likely repelled; Ukrainian units conducted limited counterattacks near Avdiivka, Buhledar and Niu-York;
- No frontline changes occurred in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast. However, Ukrainians may have deployed units earmarked for the counteroffensive into the region; Russians reportedly started to evacuate civilians from 18 cities and settlements in the oblast in anticipation of the Ukrainian ground assaults;
- No changes were reported in the Kherson Oblast, where both sides limited their actions to artillery strikes and operations on Dnipro’s delta islands; Ukrainians, however, conducted multiple drone strikes on Crimea and Krasnodar Krai in Russia;
- The posture of the Belarusian Armed Forces remained unchanged; The readiness check continued.
Last week did not deliver any significant changes to the overall situation in Ukraine. Although, in essence, the war continues to be in a transitory phase, last week saw Ukrainians increase the intensity and geographical scope of their attacks. At the very least, this suggests that the battle-shaping efforts continued. However, one could argue that the counteroffensive is already ongoing, but it is starting slowly. In this context, it will be more akin to Ukrainian ground attacks in the Kherson Oblast in AUG22 than the SEP22 Kharkiv Counteroffensive.
Speaking of battle-shaping efforts, Ukraine conducted several ground attacks in mainland Russia last week. The main focus was on oil storage facilities hit in Taman and Ilsky. Ukrainians also hit a storage facility in Sevastopol on 29APR. On 1 and 2MAY, explosions also damaged rail lines in Bryansk Oblast, derailing two trains. At the same time, Ukrainians launched several drones against Russian military installations in Crimea. Reportedly all UAVs were shot down, and so were two Hrim-2 short-range ballistic missiles that Moscow claimed Kyiv fired towards Crimea.
But undoubtedly, the most prominent attack occurred on Wednesday when two UAVs exploded over the Kremlin. Russian authorities quickly called the attack “an assassination attempt” on Putin’s life, while Ukrainians denied involvement. It is beyond our knowledge to comment on who organised the attack. Still, it undoubtedly made Moscow look incredibly weak and raised further questions about the effectiveness of Russian air defence systems protecting the most important site in Russia.
The frontline remained unchanged in Kharkiv and Luhansk regions, where all Russian attacks were pushed back. Russian sources reported the deployment of newly-established mechanised units into the Zaporizhihia Oblast, which are earmarked for the offensive. The situation in the Kherson Oblast also did not undergo any major changes. In the Donetsk Oblast, Wagner continued attacks in Bakhmut, while Russian operational units slightly extended territorial control west of Novobakhmutivka. Some Russian sources claimed territorial gains in other parts of the region, but we could not verify these claims. Wagner PMC’s owner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, threatened to pull back from Bakhmut if the ammunition supply from the Russian MoD did not increase. As stated before, we found his threats exaggerated and considered it unlikely that Wagner would pull back. On Sunday (7MAY), Prigozhin noted that all issues with the MoD were ironed out. Interestingly, Ukrainian soldiers fighting in Bakhmut claimed that Wagner did not suffer from shell hunger and that the intensity of its attacks did not increase. It was all probably theatrics.
We continued to see no changes in the posture of the Belarusian Armed Forces. The 11th Mechanised Brigade concluded its readiness check, but the 38th Airborne Brigade may now undergo a similar test.
Looking into this week, we expect Moscow to continue progressing in Bakhmut this week, while its ability to advance in other parts of Ukraine is limited at best. We anticipate Ukrainians to continue to build up pressure on defending Russian units in an attempt to probe Russian defences, search for weak defensive positions and exploit any gaps. Attacks on targets in Russia proper will likely continue and focus in the southern direction.
The weather forecast shows decreased temperatures and rain in the first part of the week. Although the weather could slightly improve in the latter half of the week, occasional showers are likely. The ground continues to dry, but based on videos on social media, in many areas, the mud is still a problem when it comes to the movement of armoured vehicles.
The situation at selected axes and directions
Last week delivered no changes in the Kharkiv Oblast. Positional battles continued near Hryanykivka, Masiutivka and Krohmalne. However, neither Russian nor Ukrainian sources reported any frontline shifts in the region throughout the week. According to Oleh Synehubov, the head of the Kharkiv Oblast administration, Russian units continued to shell Ukrainian civilian and military infrastructure in Kharkivsky, Kupyansky, Iziumsky and Chuhuivsky districts.
The Russian MoD claimed it interrupted numerous rotations of Ukrainian forces near the frontline, especially near Novomlynsk, Krokhmalne and Kamyanka, Kyslivka and Synkivka. Russians also reportedly hit Ukrainian observation posts near Novoselivske, Stelmakhivka, Masiutivka, Dvorichna, and Kotlyarivka. The Russian MoD also regularly informs about the destruction of Ukrainian reconnaissance groups in Kharkiv and Luhansk directions, although it never provides evidence supporting these claims.
Last week, Russians did not undertake any cross-border ground attacks.
We expect no changes in this region in the short term (until the end of May). No reports suggest that either side was preparing its forces for more organised and large-scale attacks.
No changes in ground assaults were reported over the past several weeks, as both sides’ operations could be best characterised as positional battles or reconnaissance-in-force attempts. Although Russians and Ukrainians displayed some offensive actions across the entire frontline, last week delivered no confirmed shifts in territorial control. The frontline remained deadlocked.
On Thursday, Russian bloggers claimed that a Chechen unit pierced through Ukrainian defences in southeastern Bilohorivka. The village has been a target of Russian attacks for weeks, which, apart from ground assaults, also involved TOS-1 heavy flamethrower system strikes on Ukrainian positions. Nevertheless, information about Russian gains remained unconfirmed.
Apart from that, no changes occurred near Novoselivske and Kuzemivka, where positional battles continued. Russian attacks were repelled near Makiivka, Ploshchanka, Chervonopopivka and Makiivka and Torske.
Likewise, last week, no changes were reported in the Kreminna area, specifically near Dibrova and the Serebryanysky forest.
According to Serhiy Cherevaty, the Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces spokesperson, on 1MAY and 3MAY, Russians fired more than 1016 artillery rounds on Ukrainian positions in the region. He also noted that Russians had not progressed in the Luhansk Oblast for some time, confirmed by Russian and Ukrainian sources.
Late in the week, Artem Lysohir, the Luhansk Oblast military administration head, claimed that Russians were forcing Ukrainians living in occupied territories to obtain a Russian passport, including minors. He added that parents who refuse might pay a fine or may be deprived of parental rights.
Lysohir also noted that more Russian medical workers from Russia had appeared in the Luhansk Oblast to treat Russian personnel. He added that doctors were promised rotation after 30 days, but some were forced to work for several months in previous instances.
(We give medium confidence to the number of combat units displayed on our maps. A brigade/regiment deployed near the frontline does not mean the unit is at full strength. In fact, many Russian formations deploy only one or two battalions. The data on Russian fortifications comes from Brady Africk).
Donetsk Oblast Direction
Last week, Russians again geographically extended their strikes and hit Kramatorsk and Slovyansk, where they presumably engaged Ukrainian concentration areas. Although they probably struck Ukrainian equipment and/or personnel concentration areas.
The entire northern part of the Donetsk Oblast has remained deadlocked since Soledar fell in early January.
No changes occurred in the Spirne, Verkhnokamyasnke and Vyimka. The same goes for Vasiukivka, Fedorivka, Rozdolivka, and Vesele. A Russian journalist claimed that Wagner units had attacked Ukrainian troops near Bohdanivka, where heavy battles were ongoing. However, it is unclear whether this translated into any tactical changes. The frontline line near the critical T5034 road leading through Khromove did not change either. Following Wagner’s concentrated attempts to sever the ground line of communication linking Bakhmut with Khromove two weeks ago, the attackers made no progress in the area despite numerous assaults.
Ukrainians reportedly counterattacked near Bohdanivka and Hryhorivka, but they probably made no territorial gains in this sector.
A bridge over a canal in Chasiv Yar was blown up, probably by Russians. It may hinder the movement of Ukrainian units over several days.
With artillery support, Wagner PMC’s fighters continued to press on Ukrainian positions in Bakhmut from north, east and south. However, these assaults did deliver any frontline changes. Ukrainian bloggers believed that Russians were preparing for the final push to dislodge defenders from the city’s western parts. Last week, battles were mostly fought around Korsunskoho Street and near Medical College and Industrial College. Russians captured both of these sites.
According to Serhiy Cherevaty, Russians deployed 25,600 men in the Bakhmut direction, supported by 65 tanks, 450 armoured combat vehicles, 154 cannons and 56 MLR systems.
Russians control 75 per cent of Bakhmut.
Undoubtedly the most important event related to the battle for Bakhmut centred around comments made by Wagner financier Yevgeny Prigozhin. On 4MAY he stated that the organisation would pull back from the city on 10MAY unless Wagner received ammunition and other supplies. His emotionally charged recently released videos undoubtedly ignited the feud between Wagner, the Russian MoD, and the country’s General Staff. Despite this, as stated last week, it is doubtful that Wagner will withdraw from Bakhmut, even if it suffers from ammunition shortages.
Indeed, Cherevaty stated on Friday that Prigozhin lied about a lack of shells. He added that Wagner units suffered huge losses due to the successful Ukrainian actions, but the organisation did not suffer from shell hunger. On 4MAY alone, Russians reportedly fired 520 times on Ukrainian troop positions, the highest intensity across Ukraine.
Based on conversations we have had with Ukrainian soldiers deployed near Bakhmut, there is no evidence to suggest that Wagner has a larger problem with access to ammunition. They claimed that the intensity of artillery fire had been maintained at the same level for weeks and that Prigozhin’s claims were unfounded.
Suffice it to say, on Sunday, Prigozhin said that all problems with the MoD were solved and the organisation would continue fighting in Bakhmut.
Ukrainian positions in the city were attacked with artillery, aviation, thermobaric and incendiary munitions, so it certainly does not seem that ammunition supply is a problem.
Last week, Russian artillery units supported by artillery attacked Ukrainian positions near Predtechyne, while Wagner fighters attacked Ivanivske. However, despite this division of labour, the southern flank remained well-guarded and untouched.
Neither Russian nor Ukrainian sources reported changes near Novokalynove, Keramik, Krasnohorivka, Stepove, Berdychi and Kamyanka. According to the Ukrainian bloggers, Russians improved their position near the railway in the Novobakhmutivka area, where they now control the entire rail line. On the other hand, Ukrainians conducted counterattacks east of Novobakhmutivka and pushed 1.5 km into Russian lines south of Troits’ke.
No changes were reported near Avdiivka. Russians conducted limited attacks on Ukrainian positions in the city’s southwestern outskirts, but neither Russian nor Ukrainian sources reported any frontline changes near the town.
Last week, Russian forces also continued pushing towards Pervomasike, where they reportedly achieved some tactical successes. Ukrainian sources, however, disputed these claims, adding that Russians made no progress near Pervomaiske and Vodyane. On the other hand, both Russian and Ukrainian sources asserted that Ukrainian counterattacks near the latter were partly successful. That said, we are talking about Russians being pushed several hundred meters back, so this development had no impact on the overall situation on the ground.
According to the Russian source, Russian troops continued to attack towards Pervomaiske. Also, the source claimed that Ukrainian troops counterattacked in the direction of Vodyane after artillery shelling. They were partly successful.
Russians achieved no progress near Tonenke, Severne and Nevelske.
The situation in Mariinka is also unclear. A Russian source said that Russian troops had managed to advance in the western part of the city. However, no further details about this alleged development were provided. Ukrainians also attempted to counterattack near Staromykhailivka, but it is also unclear whether they made any progress in this sector.
Ukrainians were also active near Vuhledar, where they conducted several counterattacks using armoured vehicles with heavy artillery support. They tried to extend territorial control near Mykylske and Pavlivka, but it is unclear whether they achieved any progress in this sector. Our sources in this area claimed that Ukrainian attacks had a probing character and that Russian defences were well fortified and echeloned in depth, proving very difficult to overcome.
Last week delivered no frontline changes in the Zaporizhihia Oblast, but several reports suggested the deployment of newly formed Ukrainian units into the region.
Numerous Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian conducted reconnaissance-in-force operations near Orikhiv (probably in the Orikhiv-Polhy area), where they were repelled by the Russian 22nd Spetsnaz Brigade and elements of the 58th Combined Arms Army (291st Motor Rifle Regiment and 291st Artillery Brigade). There was a consensus among Russian journalists and analysts that these Ukrainian attacks did not constitute the start of the counteroffensive but instead served to test and reconnoitre Russian positions near Orikhiv. Russian sources claimed that Ukrainians lost at least four vehicles in these attacks, including one tank.
Also, last week, Vladimir Rogov, a member of the main council of the military-civilian administration of the Zaporizhzhia Oblast, claimed on Tuesday that Ukrainians fired eight HIMARS missiles at Tokmak, striking a railway and unspecified residential areas. However, this information was not independently confirmed. Russians, on the other hand, hit Orihiv, Huliaipole, as well as Zelenyi Gai, Shcherbaky, and Belogorye. Moreover, Russians likely deployed additional S-300 launchers in the region, which suggest preparations for increased intensity of missile attacks.
Russian sources provided information about new Ukrainian forces deployments into the Zaporizhihia Oblast. Artillery assets of the 116th and 118th Mechanised Brigades had been reportedly deployed around Orikhiv-Tavriyskie and Slavnoe-Komyshuvacha areas, respectively. Both brigades belong to the 10th Army Corps, a newly-established formation that will take part in the upcoming counteroffenisve. According to the US-leaked documents, as of late February, the 118th Mechanised Brigade is equipped with 90 M114s, around 30 ex-Polish T-72s, 6 x ex-US M109s SPHs, and 8 x ex-Estonian FH-70 towed howitzer guns.
Four SOF detachments of the 71st Jager Brigade were reportedly sent near the Kachovsky reservoir (in which the water level is critically high). Elements of the 46th Airmobile and likely 108th Territorial Defence Brigade remained stationed near Huliaipole, while forces of the 128th Mountain Assault Brigade were deployed at Shcherbaky-Kamenskoe.
In other news, the water level on Dnipro near Zaporizhihia increased significantly last week, causing localised flooding, especially on the river’s right bank near Bilenke. Currently, we do not expect this development to impact Ukrainian counteroffensive plans.
On Friday, Yevgeny Balitsky, Moscow-appointed head of the Zaporizhihia Oblast, announced a partial evacuation of the local residents from 18 frontline settlements in the region (click here and here). Evacuations are meant to be “temporary” as Ukrainians “intensified shelling of settlements located close to the line of contact”. The Ukrainian General Staff claimed that the evacuation was a pretext for Russians to remove looted goods from the Zaporizhihia Oblast, including cars. Importantly, it appears that the call for evacuation was mainly directed at Russian occupation administration workers, officers of the so-called ‘people’s militia’, and their families.
Kherson direction and Crimea
Last week did not deliver any major changes in the Kherson Oblast, although one can argue that Ukrainians continued to conduct battle-shaping operations in the region.
Firstly, Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian units carried out some cross-river operations over the Dnipro, although it remains unclear how successful they were. Based on Russian reports, all attempts were repelled, but this has not been independently verified. Although we continue to mark the territory near the Antonovsky brigade on Dnipro’s southern bank as under Ukrainian control, we cannot confirm that Ukrainians established a presence there permanently. So far, we have seen no reports suggesting that Russians were conducting coordinated attacks on Ukrainian positions to dislodge OPFOR, which could indicate that Ukrainian are not present there.
Secondly, Ukrainian Southern Operational Forces Spokesperson Nataliya Humenyuk stated last week that Ukrainian artillery units continued to strike Russian forces on Dnipro’s southern bank to force them to manoeuvre constantly. Ukrainians also noted a decreased rate of Russian artillery fire early last week. On the other hand, Russians claimed to have struck a Ukrainian military train on 4MAY, killing 160 soldiers. This report probably pertained to a 3MAY Russian artillery strike that hit a passenger train and injured a conductor. However, the same strike hit two grocery stores, killing more than 20 civilians. Throughout Wednesday, Russians carried out 110 artillery strikes, firing over 550 shells, according to Ukrainian Southern Operational Command. A Ukrainian ammunition depot was also reportedly destroyed in Beryslav using glide bombs.
Lastly, on Monday, Russian sources reported smoke over Sevastopol Bay, reportedly caused by a destroyed Ukrainian UAV. Unconfirmed shot-downs also occurred near Belbek, Yevpatoria and Dzhankoi. Ukrainian sources claimed that the deteriorating situation in Crimea had led many people to leave the peninsula. At the current stage, it is impossible to assess the true scale of these movements, given that only one video appeared online, reportedly showing car traffic near the Kerch Bridge. On Saturday, Oleg Kryuchkov, adviser to the head of the Russian administration in Crimea, announced that the traffic on the bridge would be temporarily suspended. The Ferry service operated normally.
According to Russian officials, on Saturday, Ukrainians attacked Crimea using a Hrim-2 short-range ballistic missile. Two missiles fired were reportedly intercepted. There is no information about any explosions or damage caused by these strikes.
On Sunday night, Ukrainians reportedly launched multiple drone strikes on targets across almost the entire peninsula. Specifically, UAVs were launched against Saky, Yevpatoria, Sevastopol, Novofedorivka (presumably air base), Kozacha Bay, and Krasnoperekopsk.
Summary of losses
According to the Russian Ministry of Defence, since the start of the war, Ukraine has lost 418 aircraft (+5), 230 helicopters (0), 4,027 UAVs (+122), 421 anti-aircraft missile systems (launchers?)(0), 9,014 tanks and other armoured combat vehicles (+94), 1,096 MLRS launchers (+1), 4,754 field artillery guns and mortars (+59), as well as 10,037 units of special military vehicles (+155).
According to the Ukrainian General Staff, Russia lost (eliminated) 194,430 personnel (+3,920), 3,723 tanks (+24), 7,248 armoured combat vehicles (+59), 3,010 artillery systems (+96) and 554 MLR systems (+10), 306 anti-aircraft systems (+11), 308 aircraft (0) and 294 helicopters (0), and 2,572 UAVs (+97), 5,952 vehicles and fuel tanks (+110), 932 cruise missiles (+15), 18 warships and boats (0) and 380 special vehicles (+23).
(Numbers in parentheses denote a weekly change)
Russian air and missile strikes on Ukraine
Last week Russians did not conduct any major cruise missile attacks on Ukraine. Kyiv claimed to have shot down 50 Shahed-131/36 kamikaze drones.
On Saturday, the Ukrainian Air Force Command claimed that a Patriot air defence missile system shot down a Russian Kh-47M2 Kinzhal (AS-24 Killjoy) air-launched ballistic missile. Although some debris imagery was published, no concrete evidence confirmed the interception.
(Data above does not include information about a Russian UAV attack on the night of 07/08MAY).
Military situation in Belarus
BLUF: No changes in the posture of the Belarusian Armed Forces were observed. The 11th Mechanised Brigade concluded its readiness check. The 38th Air Assault Brigade may now undergo a similar exercise. Belarusian leadership continued expressing concern about the deteriorating regional security environment, but vowed to address all external threats.
The military activity of the Belarusian Armed Forces slightly decreased last week. Most activities centred around the ongoing readiness check involving several military units. Russian forces drills were limited to aviation exercises.
The Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko participated in a single meeting related to the security sphere. On Tuesday, he led the gathering with security officials to discuss the issues of national security and state border protection.
During the event, Lukashenko spoke about the complex security situation around Belarus, noting the active expansion of NATO military potential and increased number of provocations. According to him, the developing situation forces Belarusian representatives to take specific measures to protect Belarus from external saboteurs.
Chairmans of the State Security (Lt. Gen. Ivan Tertel – Head of the KDB) and State Border (Lt. Gen. Anatoly Lappo) Committees also commented on the event.
Tertel noted that KDB forecasts a significant deterioration of the regional security situation. He added that both combat actions carried out as a part of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict and foreign attempts to destabilise Belarus were driving this decline. Tertel stressed that his service would be honest with Belarusian citizens about the current security environment, adding that one of Minsk’s responses would be to heighten the counterintelligence regime in Belarus.
On the other hand, Lappo spoke about the situation on the Belarusian borders. He noted that the state border is a “living organism” changing with the seasons but also pointed out that the current situation appeared predictable and controllable.
A day later, Belarusian President signed decree No. 130 and appointed the new Head of the General Staff Faculty of the Belarusian Military Academy. Maj. Gen. Igor Demidenko was nominated for this post. He previously served as Commander of the Western Operational Command. Interestingly, on 30MAR, the Head of the General Staff Faculty (Deputy Head of the Belarusian Military Academy), Col. Vladimir Bely, replaced Demidenko in his position.
Last week, most of the Belarusian military representatives’ actions were related to the ongoing combat readiness check of the Belarusian Armed Forces.
On Monday, the Belarusian Minister of Defence (Lt. Gen. Viktor Khrenin), his Deputy for Ideological Work (Maj. Gen. Leonid Kasinsky), as well as representatives of the State Security Council observed the final episode of the 11th Mechanised Brigade’s tactical exercise. During the ending ceremony, Khrenin awarded reservists who achieved the best results. He promoted some of them to higher military ranks. Khrenin expressed gratitude towards the brigade’s service members for their excellent work, patriotism and readiness to defend the motherland.
From Wednesday, the 11th Mechanised Brigade hosted at least four official farewell ceremonies for reservists involved in the exercise. The Deputy Minister of Defence (Maj. Gen. Andrey Zhuk) and the Commander of the Western Operational Command (Col. Vladimir Bely) attended the event on Wednesday. It is likely that Lt. Col. Sergey Shilin, the brigade commander, led the three following ceremonies.
Four such events also occurred in other military formations, but they referred to the last year’s conscripts finishing their military service. It refers to the 16th Electronic Warfare Regiment and 120th Air Defence Brigade (Tuesday), the 50th Mixed Aviation Base (Wednesday), and the 2288th Radiotechnical Battalion (Thursday).
On Wednesday, The First Deputy Secretary of the State Security Council (Maj. Gen. Pavel Muraveiko) and Chief of Belarusian General Staff (Maj. Gen. Viktor Gulevich) participated in an official discussion on the updated Belarusian National Security Concept. The gathering occurred in the Research Institute of the Belarusian Armed Forces, where Muraveiko provided information about the changes to the document. According to him, the worsening situation in the world, the next round of the arms race and the uncontrolled proliferation of biological weapons affected both international and regional security. All of these changes will be reflected in the updated concept.
A few hours later, the Chief of Belarusian General Staff also participated in the solemn presentation of new military equipment held in the 619th Communication Equipment Storage Base, where signal troops from 13 military formations received 26 new (or modernised) communications systems.
A day later, the Head of the Main Personnel Department of the Belarusian MoD (Col. Ivan Mitin) led a methodological meeting for heads of the Belarusian Armed Forces personnel bodies. The Military Commissariat of the Mogilev Oblast hosted the event, which sought to improve methods and procedures of work with personnel (HR), accounting and cooperation with reserve officers.
Despite the ending of the 11th Mechanised Brigade’s drill described by Khrenin as “the most important part” of the inspection, the combat readiness check of the Belarusian Armed Forces remained the main training event last week. The second phase of the inspection started on Wednesday.
Initially, it involved elements of the 336th Reactive Artillery Brigade (77th Battalion) and 465th Missile Brigade (Tochka-U Battalion), which started a more than 300-kilometre training march to the designated area. The 38th Air Assault Brigade inducted reservists.
Two days later, fighter aircraft from the 61st Fighter Aviation Base (Baranovichi) joined the inspection. Subsequently, a tank battalion of the 6th Mechanised Brigade was likely brought to a high readiness level and, after receiving additional reinforcements and necessary equipment and munitions, started redeployment.
On Saturday, called-up reservists took part in tactical medicine classes within the 38th Air Assault Brigade’s base. At the same time, two People’s Militia detachments were stood up in the Volkovysk region to ensure public order.
Between Tuesday and Friday, the selected motor rifle and tank company commanders of the North-Western Operational Command competed in contests for the best commander at the 227th Combined Arms Training Ground. Moreover, the 120th Mechanised Brigade’s tank battalion underwent a battalion-level tactical exercise without live firing on Monday.
Also, elements of the 103rd Airborne Brigade were rotated from the border region and possibly replaced by another unit. It pertains to two airborne companies (BTR-70MB1/80 equipped) that were transported via rail between Wednesday and Friday.
Moreover, unofficial sources reported a few noteworthy transfers of Belarusian military equipment throughout the week:
- A column of about 20 various trucks (ZIL, Kamaz, MAZ) and Dongfeng Mengshi armoured cars headed to Volkovyvsk from Zelva on Tuesday;
- Several communications complexes (R-142, R-414MBRP, R-434) and a few trucks of the 74th Communications Regiment were moving in Grodno on Wednesday;
- About 40 BTR-82A APCs with six Kayman vehicles (most likely 38th Air Assault Brigade) were moving from Pruzhany towards Kobryn on Friday;
- Two S-300/S-400 launchers, four BTRs, a BM-27, and a single SPH with mortar were moving in Brest on Saturday;
Last week, the activity of the Russian forces included several training flights of fighter aircraft, and Mi-8 helicopters carried out on Wednesday and Thursday. Moreover, the Russian IL-76 (RA-76538) cargo aircraft arrived in Belarus (Friday).
The First Deputy of the Russian FSB, Col. Gen. Vladimir Kulishkov, also appeared in Belarus (transported by an An-148-100E – RA-61719). According to the Belarusian Hajun project, Kulishkov probably arrived to participate in Thursday’s 58th Board Meeting of the Belarusian Border Committee.
Interestingly, several Belarusian news outlets informed about increased checks at the Russo-Belarusian border shortly after. According to available data, Belarusian border guards started constructing several checkpoint-like buildings and carefully checked all Russian citizens coming into and out of Belarus.
Please click here to access the summary of Belarusian training activities.
Outlook for the week of 8MAY-14MAY
In assessing the probability or likelihood of certain events, we use a set of terms proposed by the US Intelligence Community.
|Almost no chance||Very unlikely||Unlikely||Roughly even chance||Likely||Very likely||Almost certain(ly)|
|Remote||Highly improbable||Improbable (improbably)||Roughly even odds||Probable
|Highly probable||Nearly certain|
We have decided to introduce more accountability to our forecasts. Therefore, each weekly update assesses how correct (or incorrect) our predictions were. Here is what we said last week. Please also remember that while we try to remain as objective as possible regarding our performance, the reader will ultimately have to decide how (in)accurate we have been.
Last week’s forecast
“We continue to foresee no shifts in the Kharkiv Oblast. Russian forces deployed into this area centre around the 6th Combined Arms Army, the weakest and least developed armies in the Russian Ground Forces. While artillery and missile strikes will almost certainly continue, Russians are highly unlikely to make any gains (capture one village and more) in the region this week.” This assessment was correct. No major changes occurred in the oblast last week, as all Russian attacks were repelled.
“The forecast for the Luhansk Oblast, including the Kreminna area, also remains unchanged. Russian limited ground attacks have delivered no results. While the intensity of artillery fires across Ukraine is the highest in the Kreminna direction, we believe that Russians use them to degrade the Ukrainian ability to launch an attack in this direction rather than prepare the ground for Moscow’s attack. In this context, we assess that it is highly unlikely that Russians will capture one village or more in the Luhansk Oblast.” This assessment was also correct. Russians made no confirmed territorial gains last week, as most battles had a positional character.
“The same pertains to the Donetsk Oblast. The frontline may see some fluctuations, but we assess it to be unlikely that Russians will capture one village or more in the region. As stated last week, their offensive potential around Avdiivka is largely exhausted, and nothing suggests reinforcements have been deployed to augment their presence there. The same goes for Makiivka or Pervomais’ke.” Russians indeed made no confirmed gains last week. Although some tactical fluctuations indeed occurred, they had no impact on the battlefield.
“The overall situation will likely deteriorate for Ukrainians in Bakhmut. We expect no changes in the frontline between Konstyantynivka and Ivanivske or even further east towards a petrol station. We assess that Russians cannot conduct simultaneous large-scale attacks on the northern flank (Khromove) and within the city. The latter takes priority. Consequently, it is unlikely that Russians will physically sever the T0506 road in Khromove, but they will highly likely continue to advance in Bakhmut. Although Ukrainians are getting increasingly squeezed within the city limits, we continue to see no indications that Ukrainians will completely withdraw from Bakhmut this week. This does not mean that the withdrawal may not be abrupt and may not happen as early as this week.” This forecast was partly correct. Firstly, Russians made no confirmed gains in Bakhmut, and the overall situation did not deteriorate for Ukrainians. On the other hand, we were right in predicting that Russians would make no gains on the flanks and that Ukrainians would not pull back from the city.
“We do not anticipate any major changes in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast. Both sides could conduct some ground attacks, but we do not anticipate (highly unlikely) a large-scale attack this week.” We were correct in anticipating no frontline changes in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast last week.
“The overall situation in the Kherson Oblast will highly likely remain the same. Both sides will focus on reconnaissance operations across Dnipro and artillery attacks. Ukrainians may deploy some forces on the river’s left bank but for ad hoc operations and attacks. Chances are remote that we will see a coordinated large-scale attack in the region this week.” This prognosis was correct.
Final score: 5.5/6 (92%)
The forecast for the week of 8MAY-14MAY
Please note that Russia will celebrate Victory Day on 9May. Although many cities across Russia cancelled parades, the likelihood of Ukrainian sabotage actions throughout the whole week is very high.
We will not change our views on the situation in the Kharkiv Oblast as no indications suggest a shift in either side’s operations. As a result, Russian attacks are highly likely to be repelled, and Moscow will not make any confirmed territorial gains in the region this week. It is almost certain that artillery and missile attacks will continue targeting civilian infrastructure and residential areas.
We also forecast no changes in the Luhansk Oblast, including the Kreminna area. As we have seen no signs of Russian reinforcing their units in the region, it is highly likely that all of their attacks will be repelled and that they will make no major (capturing one settlement or more) confirmed gains this week.
The same pertains to the Donetsk Oblast. Russian offensive potential is largely exhausted, as is Moscow’s ability to make even small gains. It is thus highly unlikely that they will move forward near Novobakhmutivka, Avdiivka, Makiivka or Pervomais’ke. We also assess that Ukrainian attacks south of Avdiivka will unlikely deliver territorial gains.
Our baseline scenario for Bakhmut is that Ukrainians will unlikely abandon the city this week (70%). In this context, we think it is also unlikely that Russians make gains on Bakhmut’s flanks, which appear to be sufficiently protected and apart from Russian ground attacks. We assess that it is likely that Russians will make gains within the city limit and will extend their territorial control, but they will not fully capture the city.
A less likely scenario (30%) considers Ukrainians conducting a counterattack in Bakhmut, but we would not like to ponder its objectives and scale at the current stage.
We do not anticipate any major changes in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast. Both sides could conduct some ground attacks, but we do not anticipate (highly unlikely) a large-scale attack this week.
The overall situation in the Kherson Oblast will highly likely remain the same. Both sides will focus on reconnaissance operations across Dnipro and artillery attacks. Chances are remote that we will see a coordinated large-scale attack in the region this week.
Key indicators/events for the week 8MAY-14MAY
Below is the list of indicators/events we will look out for this week.
- A probable withdrawal of Wagner for Bakhmut;
- Further Russian gains in the city;
- New Ukrainian forces deployments into southern parts of the front (From Vuhledar to Zaporizhihia);
- The increased tempo of Ukrainian attacks in these areas;
- New Russian air and missile strikes on targets across Ukraine;
- Information about deliveries of Western equipment to Ukraine;
BLUF: The first part of the week will deliver decreased temperatures and rain. The weather could slightly improve in the latter half of the week, but still occasional showers are likely. The 30-day forecast sees no rain in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts between 19MAY-3JUN.
In the Kreminna area, the temperature will decrease from 14°C (57°F) on Monday to 11°C (51°F) on Wednesday. A gradual increase will see the temperature rise to 20-21°C (68-70°F) during the weekend. However, rain is forecasted for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday.
Exactly the same pattern is forecasted for the Bakhmut area. A drop in temperatures until Wednesday, 11°C (51°F), will be followed by an increase to 20°C (68°F) on Saturday and Sunday. Rainy weather is also expected on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday.
The Zaporizhzhia region will experience slightly colder weather at the beginning of the week, but temperatures are expected to rise in the second half. On Tuesday, the temperature is also expected to drop to 11°C (51°F) before increasing to 20°C (68°F) on Saturday. Rain is expected on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Kherson Oblast will undergo a similar pattern. The decline in temperature should not go below 13°C (55°F) on Tuesday, while the subsequent rise should not exceed 21°C (70°F) on Sunday. Rain is only expected on Sunday too.
The 30-day weather forecast for the Zaporizhzhia Oblast sees only eight rainy days until 5JUL. More importantly, no rainfall is expected between 19MAY and 3JUL when the sky is cloudless between 20-29MAY. During this time, the temperature will be stable and hover around 15-24°C (59-75°F).
The 30-day weather forecast for the Kherson Oblast also sees nine rainy days. Five of those are forecasted from 14-18MAY. The max temperature is forecasted for 26MAY-3JUN when it is to increase to 27° (80°F). No rain is predicted in the region between 19MAY and 3JUN.
Given the above forecast, a weather window of opportunity can open up for Kyiv in the second half of May. If there is no rainfall during this period, the mud problem should disappear, and the ground will be dry enough to support the movement of armoured vehicles.