May 3, 2023

Sitrep for May 2–3 (as of 08:30 a.m.)  

Over the past 24 hours, there were a number of reports of incidents with drones in Russia. On May 2, drones attacked an oil storage facility in the Krasnodar region not far from the Kerch bridge near Crimea (270 km away from the frontline), causing a large-scale fire.

A drone dropped an explosive device at defensive fortifications being built in the village of Prilesye, Belgorod region (400 meters from the Russian-Ukrainian border); a worker was injured as a result.

The Baza Telegram channel reports that a drone dropped a munition on a building under construction in the village of Ales (less than a kilometer away from the border) in the Bryansk region There were no casualties, but an excavator was damaged. The report has not been confirmed yet.

Near the Snezhetskaya station (slightly east of Bryansk), three explosive devices went off under a freight train, as a result of which the locomotive and 20 railcars derailed; no one was injured. As in the case of the previous explosion which occurred 111 km away from this place, we should expect a prompt restoration of railway communication on this section of the tracks.

The Situation on the Frontline

Over the past day, there were no noticeable changes on the frontline. Yevgeny Prigozhin [Russian oligarch, the confidant of Vladimir Putin and the owner of the Wagner Group] reported on the advance of the Wagner Group by a little more than 100 meters across the territory of Bakhmut.

A map reflecting changes that have taken place in the Donetsk direction near Marinka since the start of the full-scale invasion was published. In the sector of the furthest advance by the RuAF the frontline has moved by 5.5 km.

On the night of May 3, another attack with loitering munitions on the territory of Ukraine took place. According to the Kyiv administration, all the Shahed drones that attacked the city were shot down.

Three loitering munitions hit an oil depot in the Kirovohrad region, and another one struck a military commissariat [enlistment office] in Kostiantynivka, Donetsk region (slightly west of Bakhmut).

BBC News Russian has commented on John Kirby's statement about Russian losses (taking into account the correction clarifying that the figure of 20,000 KIAs account for all fronts over 5 months). According to their data, a sharp increase in the number of deaths was observed from the beginning of February, when the weekly number of confirmed deaths began to be three or even four times higher than the figures for the previous year. Since Dec. 1, more than 9,000 people fighting on the Russian side have been confirmed dead, including more than 1,300 conscripts and over 2,300 former convicts. BBC also notes that a third of all Russian losses now consist of people who were not in the military before the invasion.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, together with other agencies, has launched a "Unified Register of Missing Persons." Since the full-scale invasion began, tens of thousands of people were initially considered missing, but the overwhelming majority of them have been found. Currently, the register includes about 23,000 people who are missing under special circumstances due to combat activities.

Mobilization Update

Regional leaders began to actively participate in the Russian Ministry of Defense advertising campaign for recruiting contract soldiers. Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin visited the Patriot and Avangard centers, where contract soldiers are being trained.

Governor of the Kursk region Roman Starovoyt starred in a promotional video for the "volunteer militia." According to him, those who join the "militia" can "form the backbone of territorial defense" of Russia in the future. Starovoyt was wearing a Wagner Group patch with the inscription "People's Militia of the Kursk Region" on his uniform in the aforementioned video. Earlier, Yevgeny Prigozhin reported that Wagner Group mercenaries are involved in training this "unit."

Governor of the Bryansk region Alexander Bogomaz posted an advertisement for the contract service on his Telegram channel. Governor of the Astrakhan region Igor Babushkin did the same, promoting the Lotos unit from Astrakhan.

Twenty volunteer fighters from the Tyumen region have been sent to combat training. As can be seen in the photo, most of them are men of pre-retirement or retirement age.

The Mozhem Ob'yasnit [We can explain] Telegram channel identified five draftees from the Talitsky municipality of the Sverdlovsk region who are believed to have been killed alongside Pavel Nikolaev when a community hall in Chervonopopivka, Luhansk region, was hit on Oct. 24, 2022.

New information has emerged about the shelling of the village of Suzemka, Bryansk region. The pro-Kremlin media outlet Mash reported damage to the building of a local defense enterprise (which was probably the target). Among the casualties is a former mercenary of the Wagner Group, who returned home on Apr. 24 after completing a six-month contract.

Obituaries of two Ukrainian National Guard soldiers who were killed in the strike on the Pavlohrad Chemical Plant are being circulated on pro-Russian Telegram channels. Armed security guards from the National Guard, which are widely used in Ukraine, do not make a building or structure a legitimate military target, however, the building itself, being a defense enterprise, falls under the category of a legitimate target.

A video has been published from the Kherson region, which apparently shows the impact of FAB-500 M62 gliding air-dropped bombs with UMPKs [Universal Planning and Correction Module, a Russian analogue of the JDAM]. It is distinguished from a KAB series guided air-dropped bomb by an advanced tail assembly. Probably, some kind of depot of explosives (for example, ammunition) was attacked, since after the first detonation, two more were heard.

Meduza [international Russian-language online media outlet] published the history of the development of the UMPK. If bombs with such a module are capable of delivering precision strikes (and apparently they are), they can significantly increase the effectiveness of the Russian Air Force. However, this is unlikely to help repeat the success of the Syrian operation, since Ukraine has a full-fledged air defense, Russian intelligence does not effectively identify stationary targets, and air-dropped bombs with UMPK cannot hit moving targets at all.

The New York Times published a longread on the Ukrainian counteroffensive and the military vehicles supplied to Ukraine. The comments of Ukrainian artillery men about the electronics in the Panzerhaubitze 2000 drew our particular attention. It is extremely susceptible to dirt and moisture, therefore, the instructions dictate to get inside only in clean shoes and provide each vehicle with a vacuum cleaner. Moreover, a whole day of maintenance is required after firing only two full loads of ammunition from these howitzers. The crewmen also note that the caterpillar tracks of the Panzerhaubitze are completely rubberized (unlike full-metal ones of Soviet-era 2S7 Pions), which, in muddy conditions, negatively affects the cross-country ability, and as a result, leads to postponement of the counteroffensive.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, stated that Ukraine now has everything it needs to launch an offensive operation. It is our understanding that weather is currently the main impediment.

Deliveries of Western Military Equipment

Denmark will provide Ukraine with a new military aid package worth of $250 million.

The IFU fund, managed by the Ministry of Defense of the UK, to which several European states make donations, has published a list of military vehicles and weapons that it is ready to purchase for Ukraine. It includes, among other things, missiles with a target range of up to 300 km.

On May 3, the US administration will announce a new $300 million military package for Ukraine, which will include artillery rounds, as well as Hydra 70 unguided air-to-surface rockets. Provided with an APKWS [AGR-20 Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System] laser guidance kit, such a missile becomes a precision-guided munition.

New details have emerged on the wounding of Italian journalist Corrado Zunino. Rada of Natsbezpeky [National Security Council] TV’s Tetiana Popova (formerly Deputy Minister of Information Policy of Ukraine) confirmed to us that the journalists were attacked by Russian snipers, and clarified that the distance from the incident site on the Antonivskyi Bridge to the left bank of the Dnipro river [where Russian positions are] was less than a kilometer. We believe that the snipers saw that they were shooting not at soldiers, but at civilians, thus it is a war crime.

However, it is worth mentioning that Corrado Zunino did not have permission to stay in Kherson and work in the red zone (which includes the village of Antonivka and the bridge across the Dnipro), and the deceased Bohdan Bitik wasn’t a professional fixer and didn’t have military accreditation. Most likely, they passed checkpoints on the road to Antonivka as civilians, without stating that they were heading to the bridge. In addition, Bohdan was not wearing a bulletproof vest, but only a vest marked "Press." Since Corrado Zunino’s actions had violated multiple rules and had led to the death of a Ukrainian citizen, his accreditation to work in Ukraine was revoked.

A video of the Rossiya-1 [Russia-1] government-owned federal TV channel employee helping to load a Grad MLRS was published. This is not the first such violation of all norms of journalistic ethics by correspondents of Russian state media.

Meduza has obtained a manual for the Russian state-run media prepared by the presidential administration. It says that when discussing the Ukrainian counteroffensive, emphasis should be put on weapons supplies and the full support of Western countries for Ukraine. In addition, it is recommended not to mention the reconstruction of infrastructure facilities in the occupied and annexed Ukrainian territories at the expense of the Russian state budget. For some reason, "undesirable topics" also include rehearsals of the Victory Day parade.

An employee of a community center in a Siberian town analyzed a repertoire of young bands performing covers of world music hits and compiled a list of those musicians and bands whose songs can be performed and whose songs should be avoided.