May 11, 2023

Sitrep for May 10–11 (as of 9:00 a.m.)

As a result of a drone attack on the Pogonovo military range in the Voronezh region, 14 servicemen were injured. This range is well known to us as military equipment was accumulated there before the start of the full-scale invasion. Currently, it houses military personnel, including many mobilized soldiers.

According to Mash [pro-Kremlin media outlet], on May 9, there was an attempted attack on Moscow by a Ukrainian UJ-22 Airborne drone, which was shot down over the village of Peremyshl in the Kaluga region, approximately 175 km away from Moscow. There were no casualties or damage reported. Initially, it was stated that three drones were involved in the attack, but this information was not confirmed.

The Situation on the Frontline

We have marked the alleged lines of contact (yellow lines show a more favorable situation for the AFU, red ones — for Russian forces) on the satellite image of Bakhmut. It is still unclear which side controls the territory of the military unit between the lines. Despite the fact that Ukrainian forces are currently holding only a small part of the town, active combat activities are going on. The 3rd Separate Assault Brigade of the AFU published a video showing Ukrainian tanks shelling the positions of the Wagner Group in the southern part of Bakhmut.

In her Telegram channel, Anastasia Kashevarova [pro-Wagner propagandist] expressed her views on the situation with the retreat of soldiers of the 72nd Motorized Rifle Brigade of the RuAF in the Bakhmut direction (according to her, the incident occurred in the areas of Khromove and Zaitseve, while the confirming video was geolocated in the area of Klishchiivka, i.e. much further south of Khromove). Kashevarova sees the main problem in the inconsistency of pro-Russian forces’ actions: Wagner Group mercenaries withdrew from the flank due to a breakthrough in another place, and the Russian regular troops did not know about it. Since there was no assault infantry on these positions, artillerymen, who were the only units there, were forced to retreat during the AFU offensive.

According to Kashevarova, all units have grievances against each other, and communication is not established. Such conflicts always play into the hands of the opponent. Looking at this problem from the perspective of a Ukrainian counteroffensive, it should be noted that (as mentioned in the previous sitrep) Russian defense will be effective only with well-trained and coordinated units. Due to problems with interaction, it is easy to imagine a situation where the Armed Forces of Ukraine could break through in places where the responsibility zone of one unit ends and another begins.

The Washington Post published an article, based on leaked Pentagon documents, which compiled the history of the conflict between Yevgeny Prigozhin [Russian oligarch, confidant of Vladimir Putin, and the owner of the Wagner Group] and the Russian Ministry of Defense. Our attention was drawn to a document dated the first half of February, which reveals that the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation could not unequivocally say whether the Wagner Group received all the necessary ammunition or not, because distribution was carried out not directly, but through an operational group in Bakhmut. In the first half of February, with the help of the Federal Security Service (FSB), the Ministry of Defense established that at that time the requests of the Wagner Group had not been fully met.

About a month ago, we mentioned Arsen Melkonyan, who was sentenced to 11 years in a maximum security penal colony for murder, but after joining the Wagner Group and fighting on the frontline, six months later he was released with a pardon. At the beginning of May, he was arrested for sending threatening messages to the judge who had sentenced him. In addition, Melkonyan threatened to kill an employee of one of the pre-trial prisons in Volgograd, accompanying his threats with "an attempt to use violence, which was suppressed." He has also repeatedly sent death threats to his wife and underage daughter in recent months.

Vladimir Putin has added the Rosseti Group [Russian electricity distribution monopoly] to the list of strategic enterprises. This means that blowing up power transmission pylons and other attacks on energy infrastructure facilities can be qualified as sabotage with a possible penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

Dmitry Rogozin [Russian nationalist politician and former Director General of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos] announced the need for a second wave of mobilization, unless the Ministry of Defense is able to recruit the required number of contract soldiers during the current campaign.

The Militarnyi Ukrainian media outlet published a video of trawls transporting Russian BTR-50 armored personnel carriers. One of the BTR-50s has a ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft gun mounted on it.

In April 2023, a local resident discovered fragments of an airborne missile in a forest near the city of Bydgoszcz in Poland (about 400 km from the border with Belarus). It was later determined that the fragments belonged to a Russian Kh-555 missile, which had been launched on Dec. 16, 2022 during one of the Russian large scale (76 missiles) attacks on Ukraine, went off course, flew about 400 km inside Polish airspace before falling down on its own. The Polish Armed Forces were tracking this missile as an unidentified flying object during its flight, but lost it in the Bydgoszcz area, and later tried to hide this incident by failing to notify either the Polish Prosecutor's Office or Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki about the violation of airspace. The official investigation did not begin until April, after a bystander found the wreckage of the rocket and reported it to the authorities.

Deliveries of Western Military Equipment

Photos of Ukrainian Sukhoi Su-25 fighter jets with US-made Zuni unguided rockets have appeared.

The President of the Czech Republic announced the transfer of two 2K12 Kub SAM systems to Ukraine.

Starting next week, Canada and Latvia start joint combat training for Ukrainian junior officers on the territory of Latvia.

We have previously discussed the importance of training junior officers in a number of sitreps. The recent example of Russia’s 72nd Motorized Rifle Brigade abandoning its positions and the mercenaries of the Wagner Group who were killed as a result shows what a lack of coordination between units can lead to. A video showing the 1st Separate Mechanized Battalion Vovki Da Vinchi [Da Vinci’s Wolves] of the AFU demonstrates the importance of coordination between UAV operators and servicemen fighting in trenches. It is also worth noting a video in which Ruslan Zubarev with the callsign Khyzhak [Predator] from Ukraine's 92nd Mechanized Brigade repels advancing Russian Spetsnaz [special forces] almost alone due to proper training and a competent commander.

On May 9, the French Parliament passed a resolution calling on the French government and the European Union to designate the Wagner Group as a terrorist organization. In response, the next day, Germany's government announced that it currently does not see a legitimate opportunity to include the Wagner Group on the list of EU external designated terrorist groups.