May 31, 2023

Sitrep for May 30–31 (as of 7:30 a.m.)

Everything is still relatively quiet on the entire frontline.

Strikes on Ukrainian and Russian Territory

On May 31, photographs showing the aftermath of the AFU strike on Yurivka (located on the coast of the Sea of Azov, not far from Mariupol) appeared. It is unclear what the target of the attack was, but significant damage can be seen (according to the Ukrainian side, it was hit with a Storm Shadow air-launched cruise missile).

In the Krasnodar region, the Afipsky Oil Refinery was attacked with loitering munitions. According to the governor, one of the fuel oil distillation units caught fire. The Afipsky Oil Refinery is located near Krasnodar, not far from the Ilsky Oil Refinery, which has been attacked more than once.

In the Belgorod region, a temporary accommodation center for residents of the village of Sereda, located directly on the border with Ukraine, came under fire. As a result of the strike, one person (a security guard) was killed, and two more people were injured. In the comments under the post of Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov, local residents identified the temporary accommodation center as the Pervoe Maya [the 1st of May] health center located in the village of Titovka near Shebekino, 5.5 km from the border with Ukraine. It remains a puzzle why the residents of the border village were evacuated only 5.5 km away, and have been staying in a temporary accommodation center for more than a year near the town that is constantly hit.

Speaking of strikes on the town of Shebekino (as a result of another strike on the town, houses and cars were damaged and one person was injured), "experts" of the Rossiya-1 [Russia-1] government-owned federal TV channel got the name of the town wrong (their variants included "Shemyakino" and "Shmekino"). Earlier on, journalists of the Astra media outlet found out that on the official public page of the Rossiya-1 TV Channel on the VKontakte social network, a filter had been set up to automatically delete comments containing the word "Shebekino."

On May 29, Mayor of Kyiv Vitali Klytschko addressed Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Valerii Zaluzhnyi during a Ukrainian television broadcast with the question, "If the Russians can terrorize Kyiv, how come the residents of Moscow get to enjoy their leisure time?" This statement reflects the sentiment of Ukrainian elites and, presumably, many of his constituents. In this context, the Ukrainian drone attack on Moscow can be seen as a form of reprisal for the never-ceasing strikes on peaceful cities in Ukraine. It is worth noting that during World War II, the British and Soviet air forces bombed Berlin without any specific military objective, also as an act of retribution. The exact target of the attack is unknown, but it can be assumed that the drones accidentally hit high-rise buildings due to flying at nap-of-the-earth altitudes.

We think that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s statement about the jamming of three drones by electronic warfare systems was made to cover all of his bases: the three UAVs that hit residential buildings were, supposedly, already flying in an uncontrolled manner.

Some of the drones used in the May 30 attack on Moscow have been identified. The drone featuring the "canard" aerodynamic configuration has been identified as being the so-called Beaver UAV produced by Ukraine's state-owned defense holding UkrOboronProm. It was reportedly developed for Ukraine’s Main Directorate of Intelligence; its technical specifications have not been disclosed.

Another drone featuring a "flying wing" aerodynamic configuration does not appear to have a common name, however, a similar model has already been used in the attack on the Ilskу Oil Refinery in the Krasnodar  region on May 28. This same type of drone was discovered in the Tula region in March 2023. It is thought to also have been developed by UkrOboronProm. A video showing the launching of this drone at the Ilsky Oil Refinery was published by Ukrainian volunteers.

The Dos’ye Shpiona [Spy Dossier] Telegram channel has showcased photographs of a strike on a mobile command post of the S-400 SAM system. It is reported to be the first documented instance of a successful strike on the command post of this system. According to reports, the strike happened in the twenties of May during an attack on temporary ammunition depots in the Kherson region.

On the one hand, we recently mentioned the obituary of former Cossack Punin, who was killed on the night of May 26 as a result of an airstrike on an air defense squadron. On the other hand, the license plate of the destroyed vehicle indicates the code 87, which on military license plates signifies affiliation with the Central Military District, while the killed Cossack was from Rostov, which belongs to the Southern Military District. Therefore, we cannot univocally assert that he died as a consequence of the strike on this particular missile system.

Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov announced that Ukraine has already received around 60 Leopard 2 tanks from its allies. While not a large number, it is a significant quantity. The exact number of delivered Leopard 1 tanks is unknown, but it was promised to be around 200.

The Ministry of Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine has informed that the bodies of another 79 killed servicemen were returned from the occupied territories.

The Russian Volunteer Corps has published a manifesto, the main message of which is "Russia for Russians." The unit declares, "The land belongs to those who were born in it," probably, without thinking that not only ethnic Russians are born in Russia. Besides, the Corps notes that they have nothing to do with Ilya Ponomarev (claimed to be associated with the "Freedom of Russia Legion").

Russia’s Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu has stated that 29 Storm Shadow missiles were intercepted (we doubt that the Armed Forces of Ukraine had already launched such a big number of these missiles). Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Minister of Defense Oleksii Reznikov has said that all the launched Storm Shadow missiles did hit their targets. Since we see evidence for at least several hits and fragments of these missiles in different locations, therefore we find that the claims of Russia’s MoD about all the missiles having been intercepted are untrue.