May 17, 2023

Sitrep for May 16–17 (as of 10:00 a.m.)

Strikes on the Territory of Ukraine

On May 16, the Mykolaiv region was attacked with 3M-54 Kalibr cruise missiles which were shot down.

On the night of May 17, the RuAF hit the city of Mykolaiv with Kalibr cruise missiles again. Reportedly, a shopping center, a car dealership and a building on the territory of an industrial infrastructure facility were hit.

Moreover, on the night of May 17, two S-300 air defense system missiles hit civilian infrastructure in Kostiantynivka, Donetsk region.

The Situation on the Frontline

According to Yevgeny Prigozhin [Russian oligarch, confidant of Vladimir Putin and the owner of the Wagner Group], in Bakhmut, the Wagner Group managed to completely clean up the "Gnezdo" [Nest] fortified area of Ukrainian forces, the attack on which we reported yesterday. He claims that the AFU still control approximately one and a half square kilometers only: a block of high-rise buildings along Yuvileyna Street and part of a single-family residential neighborhood. The mercenaries also report that Ukrainian forces occupied a small area on the outskirts of Bakhmut near the road to Ivanivske, and Ukrainian servicemen, forced out by the Wagner Group from other parts of the town, are allegedly moving there.

A former US special forces serviceman, Nicholas Duane Meimer, who had arrived in Ukraine after the start of the full-scale invasion, was killed in Bakhmut. Prigozhin promised to send his body found by mercenaries near Yuvileyna Street to the US with all due respect.

Some pro-Russian sources report that Meimer was a member of the Mozart PMC. Let us recall that this PMC was created by the US military as a counterweight to the Wagner Group to help the AFU. Members of the Mozart PMC do not act as combatants (which they are regularly ridiculed for by pro-Russian Telegram channels), but are engaged in training and assisting humanitarian missions. In particular, they traveled to front-line settlements, communicated with local residents persuading them to leave, offered assistance with evacuation, and also brought food and medicine. In addition, they trained Ukrainian servicemen in combat tactics.

The Incidents with Russian Aircraft in the Bryansk Region

It became known that more than nine people (as it had been reported before) were killed as a result of the aircraft crashes on May 13. Since the crews of Mil Mi-8MTPR-1 helicopters consist of four people each, the Sukhoi Su-34 [Fullback] strike aircraft is operated by two pilots, and the Sukhoi Su-35 multirole fighter — by one, the death toll has increased to at least 11 (all crew members were reported to have been killed). The names of several more killed crew members have been published.

In the Kaluga region (about 100 km from Moscow), near the A-108 Moscow Big Ring Road, a drone (apparently quite a large one) fell and exploded. The sound of the explosion was reportedly heard in neighboring villages. Police officers who arrived found aluminum wreckage.

The details of the massive attack on Kyiv on the night of May 16 have become known. A great number of videos with active air defense work have appeared. According to the AFU Air Force, six Kh-47M2 Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, nine 3M-54 Kalibr cruise missiles, three ballistic or surface-to-air missiles, six Shahed loitering munitions, and three reconnaissance drones were shot down.

Sergei Shoigu [Russian Defense Minister] commented on this statement, saying that Russia does not launch such a number of Kinzhal missiles at a time.

It was reported that a Patriot air defense system was hit (however, we do not see any evidence of missile bursts caused by a destroyed launcher in the video). A CNN source confirmed the strike on the system, but said the damage was minor and could be repaired locally. The firing unit (that already spent missiles) or some other vehicle of the system could have been hit, but the damage seems to be low.

The moral effect of the incident on both sides should be noted. The part of the pro-Russian audience who believed that it was impossible to intercept Kinzhal missiles now know that this is not true. Similarly, the part of the pro-Ukrainian audience who thought Patriot systems were invulnerable learned that this was not true too. Any vehicle or weapon has its own vulnerabilities.

Air defense systems expose themselves when repelling a massive attack, providing the enemy with an opportunity to target them. If such large-scale attacks become regular, the Ukrainian side will be forced to expend a significant number of scarce anti-aircraft missiles. However, we do not believe that Russia has a large stockpile of expensive missiles, and smaller-scale attacks are unlikely to yield the desired results.

Deliveries of Western Military Equipment

German company Hensoldt has signed a €100 million contract to supply Ukraine with six TRML-4D air surveillance radars. These radars are currently installed on IRIS-T SLM air defense systems. Germany has promised to deliver two more separate radars in addition to the ones currently ordered.

It’s been reported that Ukraine hopes to receive up to 50 F-16 fighter jets from its Western allies. Vladimir Zelenskyy wants to bring the topic of combat aircraft into the spotlight at the G7 summit in Japan and at the NATO summit in Lithuania. Past Zelenskyy’s meetings with European leaders and subsequent decisions to start training Ukrainian pilots in the UK and France are also designed to persuade the US and Turkey to hand over Western fighter jets to Ukraine.

In an interview with the TV Rain independent television channel, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg informed that at the aforementioned July summit of the alliance, countries would make announcements not only about continued support for Ukraine, but also about supplying new types of weapons.

The first images of one of the 19 CAESAR 155mm self-propelled howitzers on the Tatra T815 (8x8) chassis transferred by Denmark in action.

Further details about the "combat drones" that the UK promised to send to Ukraine came to light. According to the updated information, loitering munitions with a range of up to 200 km, developed by the British defense company QinetiQ, will be purchased and delivered in the coming months.

At the summit in Iceland, the 46 member states of the Council of Europe decided to create a Register of Damage to record the destruction inflicted upon Ukraine by the Russian aggression. Emmanuel Macron called on all countries to join this initiative and submit contributions to the register. Earlier, US Permanent Representative to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield announced the US intention to join the initiative.

A video has been published showing a Russian Lancet loitering munition hitting a Czech-made RM70 MLRS near Avdiivka. A specific shower of sparks proves that the target was destroyed.

Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council in the White House John Kirby claimed that since August 2022, Iran has delivered about 400 drones (mainly Shahed-131 and Shahed-136) to Russia.

In November 2022, while withdrawing from Kherson, Russian forces blew up the bridge over the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant dam (where the sluice is located). There were concerns that the dam itself could now be blown up, which would not make sense from a Russian standpoint, since it would be the Russian positions located on the low left bank of the Dnipro river that would be washed away in the first place.

Due to the spring flood and overflow of the reservoir, the Russian fortifications on the left bank began to be flooded. One soldier reportedly drowned. The Center for Investigative Journalism published a video dated May 11, which shows water flowing uncontrollably through open and partially destroyed spillway blocking mechanisms.