Issue 69, 1-2 May 2022 (Free access)

Situational report CAO 2 MAY 2022

Key takeaways

  • The Ukrainian Armed Forces continue to push Russian forces away from Kharkiv, further complicating their already shaky defensive lines.
  • Russians move reinforcements into the theatre, but this has not yet affected the battlefield situation.

General outlook

No significant changes occurred over the weekend.

Ukrainian troops have reportedly withdrawn from Oskil due to a threat of encirclement.

In the Donetsk area, the main Russian effort is to establish complete control over Rubizhne and Popasna and advance toward Lyman and Siversk.

East of Horlivka, Ukrainians maintain their defensive lines in Niu-York and Novoselivka.

In the south, Russians are trying to get control over Velyka Novosilka, but to no effect. They nevertheless managed to capture neighbouring Vremivka and Neskuchne.

Ukrainian forces also continue to move towards the border with Russia north of Kharkiv. There is intense fighting over Staryi Saltiv. Currently, the bulk of Russian troops moving towards Izyum pass through Velykyi Burluk. The control of this settlement would allow Kyiv to significantly degrade the movement of Russian reinforcements. In the long term, establishing complete control over the entire border will be paramount to disrupting Russian logistics and communications lines.

The closer Ukrainians are to the border, the more opportunities they will have to conduct targeted attacks at military facilities in mainland Russia. For instance, the Poland-supplied Warmate loitering munition has a range of around 30 km, which already allows Ukrainians to strike targets about 15 km deep into Russia. The US has also declared it would supply Excalibur precision-guided, extended-range artillery shells to supplement Canada-donated M777 155-mm howitzers. With a 60 km range, the Excalibur will allow Ukraine to engage targets in Belgorod.

Russian reinforcements

According to the Ukrainian General Staff, Russians are withdrawing equipment from storage bases across the entire Russia, which is then transferred to the border regions with Ukraine.

According to the Pentagon, the Russians are strengthening the groupings around Zaporizhzhia with units withdrawn from Mariupol. Indeed, over the past week, the number of Russian BTGs deployed to Ukraine increased from 85 to 92. It should be noted that, at the current juncture, it is unclear what a BTG stands for. Typically and generally speaking, it should be a reinforced battalion able to conduct independent operations. However, given the scale of Russian losses in equipment and personnel, it is not clear what composition or capabilities these BTGs display. We have seen evidence to indicate that Russians are creating composite BTGs, meaning they combine equipment from different units (brigades and regiments) to create one tactical group. This should have a negative effect on the cohesion of such units and their interoperability.

Over the weekend, Russian artillery units also resumed artillery strikes on Chernihiv and Sumy Oblasts. Moscow will continue to threaten these oblasts with artillery and missile strikes despite the withdrawal in April. But Russia is unlikely to conduct ground offensives into these areas.

NATO’s reinforcements and the Snake Island

Poland has made a significant military contribution to the Ukrainian Armed Forces by donating some 200 T-72s, several dozen BMP-1s, 2S1 Gvozdika SPH, BM-21 MLRS, and air-to-air missiles for Ukrainian MiG-29s and Su-27s. Our sources claim that Warsaw delivered the most capable T-72s in its inventory. Essentially, everything combat-capable was transferred to Ukraine so that it could enter combat as soon as possible.

Ukrainians have also conducted missile strikes on the Snakes Island, destroying Russian Stela-10 air defence systems. In addition, TB2 UAVs took out two Raptor-class patrol boats operating near the Island.

The Snake Island can threaten NATO’s forces operating in neighbouring countries. For one, it is located some 30 km from Romania. Secondly, the US logistics base in Constanța and the Mihail Kogălniceanu airbase are situated around 170 km from the Island. Russian deployments of area denial/anti-access capabilities to the Snake Island could potentially hinder the movement of NATO assets in the theatre.

Situation in Kherson

According to local press reports, Moscow is facing problems organising a referendum on creating the Kherson Oblast. There is no local support for such a move, and without it, Russians cannot set up polling stations. For weeks they have also been trying to create lists with citizens available for voting, but this attempt also reportedly failed.

Russians still try to introduce rubles as the main payment currency, although at this stage, it is unclear how (un)successful they have been in this attempt. In Melitopol, the Russian military authorities require business owners to open shops, cafes and leisure centres. Products from Ukraine are being withdrawn from sale and replaced with goods imported from Russia and Crimea.

Russian military activity

According to the Russian MoD, Russian forces conducted multiple artillery, air and missile strikes on 1MAY.

Long-range air-launched missile strikes targeted seven military facilities in Ukraine. These included four concentration areas and three rocket and artillery weapon storage depots.

In addition, using their P-800 Oniks anti-ship missiles (also used in ground-attack mode), Russian forces attacked the Odesa Airport. According to the Russian MoD, the airport was used to store weapons delivered from the United States and Europe. Reportedly, a storage hangar and runway were destroyed. We are waiting for satellite imagery to arrive (and the weather to improve) to conduct a battle damage assessment.

Frontline aviation attacked destroyed two S-300 missile systems (launchers?), two ammunition storage warehouses and fuel depots (one each?), and 15 strongholds and concentration areas.

Missile and artillery units targetted 24 command posts, three rocket and artillery storage depots, and 786 concentration areas.

Ukraine also lost two Su-24Ms and 12 UAVs.

Two Tochka-U missiles were intercepted, and two BM-30 Smerch MLRS systems were destroyed.

According to the Russian MoD, Russian forces conducted multiple artillery, air and missile strikes on 2MAY.

Long-range air-launched missile strikes targeted 74 military facilities in Ukraine. These included nine command posts (including battalion-level posts of the 95th and 81st Airmobile Brigades), 55 strongholds and concentration areas, four artillery and missile storage warehouses, an OSA-AKM launcher, an MLRS battery, and an entire S-300 battery (four launchers, EW and battle-management radars) near Mezhova.

Frontline aviation destroyed 40 strongholds and concentration areas and an artillery and missile storage depot.

Missile and artillery units targetted 30 command posts, nine artillery batteries, a BM-21 battery, 67 artillery firing positions, six ammunition depots, 99 strongholds, and 387 concentration areas, including a command post of the 93rd Mechanised Brigade.

Ukraine also lost 17 UAVs, including three TB2s near the Snake Island.

Two Tochka-U missiles were intercepted.

A Ukrainian MiG-29 was shot down near Sloviansk.

Military activity in Belarus

Military activity was limited on APR30. Most of the ceremonies held on APR30 were related to the conscripts’ finishing their military service. Subunits from the 740th Air Defence Regiment completed their training at the 174th Air and Air Defence Training Ground. In the meantime, Belarusian crews who had trained at the Russian Combat Training Center (Nizhny Novgorod) returned to Belarus.

According to the unofficial sources, only three movements of the Belarusian Armed Forces were spotted on Saturday, but they were unspecified or included MAZ trucks or UAZs. It is worth noting that there was some air activity above Belarus, but it is difficult to confirm whether the aircraft were Russian or Belarusian.

On APR30, almost no Russian military activity was observed. There was no missile strikes and only one probable Russian aircraft take-off (Il-76) from Machulishchy. Russians still maintain quite capable air defence capability at the Zyabrovka airfield. This includes eight S-400 TELs, 92N6E battle management radar, 96N6 EW radar, and two Pantsirs for close-range air defence.

NOTE: Due to significantly decreased (almost non-existent) Russian activity in Belarus, we have decided to retire the chart showing Russian air activity and the number of missile strikes targeting Ukraine. From now on, any information about these events will be included in the text only. Despite this, in the appendix, we will continue to provide data on the movement of equipment in Belarus.

For data, please see the appendix.

Russian lines of advance in Ukraine

Please click here to access the map depicting the current situation in Ukraine. The map is updated daily (or several times a day). We populate it with lines of advance, satellite imagery, and other crucial events that could impact the overall military situation in Ukraine.

Satellite imagery analysis

Capella SAR acquired 0030Z 04APR2022 showed that the two SA-17 TELAR identified in imagery in late March, remained south of the city in early April, but relocated north 500 m from their previous position.

Planet imagery acquired 0729Z 12APR2022 showed the arrival of 30 Su-25SM and 28 attack helicopters to Buturlinovka Airbase. These are the Su-25 that were likely previously deployed to Luninets. In addition to the aircraft, the 91N6 previously observed at the airbase in February 2022 has departed.

The airbase has not supported an air component since the 47th Composite Aviation Regiment relocated back to Baltimor airbase in Voronezh in November 2021.

Appendix 1

Listed below is military activity in Belarus on 30APR. All data found below comes from Motolko.

Possible missile launches:

  • 8:18 PM – None

Air activity in Belarus

  • 2:20 PM – A turboprop aircraft was flying above Osipovichi. About twenty minutes later, it was seen flying towards Baranovichi.
  • 5:00 PM – Presumably, an IL-76 was flying towards Machulishchy from the South-East.
  • 8:20 PM – An aircraft was seen flying above Ivatsevichy.

 Spotted convoys/transports:

  • Belarusian units:
    • 7:30 AM [Gomel] – Three “military vehicles” were seen in the city.
    • 12:00 PM [Pinsk>Brest] – An unknown number of unspecified military vehicles seen on the move toward Brest.
    • 2:50 PM [Minsk>Barysau] – Two covered MAZ trucks were seen on the move.
  • Russian units:
    • 11:40 AM [R23>Slutsk] – Two heavy trucks (MZKT-600100) seen on the move.
    • 1:00 PM [Lida] – A sudden increase in the number of Russian civilian cars with license plates from various regions in Russia.