May 8, 2023

Sitrep for May 5–8 (as of 11:30 a.m.)

RuAF Strikes on the Territory of Ukraine

On the night of May 8, as a result of a RuAF missile strike on Odesa, a warehouse of the Ukrainian Red Cross’s Odesa Regional Organization was destroyed. So far, there is information about one missing person. Reportedly, the warehouse was hit with a Kh-22 missile. Judging by the photographs taken on the scene, there was no ammunition depot in the building as firefighters work in close proximity to it, without fear of a secondary detonation.

On the night of May 8, the Kyiv region was attacked with loitering munitions. According to the Ukrainian Air Force, all 35 Shahed drones were shot down. Mayor of Kyiv Vitali Klytschko stated that four people were injured by falling fragments of the drones.

Assassination Attempt on Zakhar Prilepin

Zakhar Prilepin [true name Yevgeny Prilepin, Russian ultranationalist, writer and politician] was driving through the Nizhny Novgorod region with his driver and daughter, whom he said he had dropped off five minutes before the explosion. According to various versions, the explosives were either planted on the road or fixed under the bottom of his SUV. As a result of the explosion, the front of the car was completely torn off. Prilepin's comrade and driver Aleksandr Shubin was killed on the spot, and Prilepin himself was evacuated by helicopter with broken legs. In his Telegram channel, Prilepin reported that he was driving, and Shubin was in the passenger seat, right under which the bomb exploded. In 2017, Prilepin claimed that he was leading the 4th Reconnaissance and Assault Volunteer Battalion of the Special Forces of the Armed forces of the so-called DPR, commonly known as Prilepin's Battalion, created on his initiative in July 2016, being second in command with the rank of major. In January 2023, Prilepin signed a contract to join the Russian National Guard and fought in Ukraine for a second time.

The Belarusian Hajun project [monitoring group] found that the deceased Aleksandr Shubin with the callsign Zloy [Evil] used to be a Wagner Group mercenary and had previously fought in the Donbas.

Ilya Ponomarev [former Russia's parliamentarian now running an online television channel out of Kyiv to counter Russian propaganda] stated that the National Republican Army [an alleged underground partisan group of Russians working towards the violent overthrow of the Putin government inside Russia] was involved in the explosion [the existence of this “partisan group” is known only from the words of Ponomarev and his employees], but when the Atesh Military Movement of Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars took responsibility for the explosion, Ponomarev agreed with this statement.

It is reported that the Federal Security Service of Russia (FSB) detained the suspect. Judging by the video of the interrogation, it can be assumed that he tells a memorized text, so his testimony is not really credible.

The Situation on the Frontline

Yevgeny Prigozhin [Russian oligarch, confidant of Vladimir Putin, and the owner of the Wagner Group], after his demand for Sergei Shoigu [Russian Minister of Defense] and Valery Gerasimov [Chief of the General Staff of the RuAF] to send the Wagner Group more ammunition, recorded a new appeal in which he said that mercenaries would hold their positions until May 10, after which the Wagner Group would end its operations in Bakhmut. He also asked the Defense Ministry to "issue a combat order for other units of the Russian Defense Ministry" to take over their positions. In the course of negotiations with Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, it was allegedly decided that the Akhmat battalion [paramilitary organization in Russia’s constituent Chechen Republic that is controlled by Kadyrov] would take up the Wagner Group's positions in Bakhmut.

However, on May 7, Prigozhin said that the Defense Ministry had promised to give the mercenaries all the necessary ammunition, and, in the future, General Sergey Surovikin would make decisions related to combat operations of the Wagner Group in cooperation with the Russian Defense Ministry. According to Prigozhin, Surovikin is the only army general who knows how to fight and command.

Earlier, Prigozhin said that the Defense Ministry units help mercenaries to hold the flanks in the Bakhmut direction.

If the Wagner Group ends up getting shells instead of other troops on different fronts, as former separatist commander and military blogger Igor “Strelkov” Girkin writes, this will give the AFU an additional advantage during the counteroffensive.

The Washington Post published an article with the opinions of the Ukraine’s Minister of Defense Oleksii Reznikov and the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy on the overheated expectations of the Ukrainian counteroffensive. According to Reznikov, most people expect a grandiose success from the upcoming operation, but even he himself cannot predict its scale. The mismatch between reality and expectations can lead to "emotional disappointment" for observers and partners. Zelenskyy stated that the more victories Ukraine achieves on the battlefield, the more people will believe in it and the more assistance it will receive.

It should be noted that even the most modest successes of the AFU are unlikely to lead to a reduction in military assistance from the United States, which cannot be said about the assistance from some European countries that have small reserves of military vehicles and ammunition.

Over the weekend, there was a massive shelling of Bakhmut with thermite incendiary munitions. As a result, fires of such intensity broke out that they were captured on satellite images by FIRMS. Since the town is not completely evacuated, such a shelling constitutes a war crime.

In Chernobaivka, Kherson region, a Russian drone dropped a grenade on rescuers who were neutralizing explosives. Six employees of the State Emergency Service and three employees of the Border Service of Ukraine were killed, and three more employees of the State Emergency Service were injured. The employees of the State Emergency Service are not a military target. Overall, Border Service employees are involved in combat activities, but it is unknown whether they were in uniform and armed, so, for the qualification of this incident, it is necessary to have photographs or videos.

The town of Yasynuvata in the occupied Donetsk region was attacked; two people were killed. According to the spray of fragments, we found out that the shell had been fired from the west (from the Ukrainian side). This is not the first attack on the occupied settlements in the Donetsk region by Ukrainian forces.

It became known about a new POW exchange: three pilots who probably bombed Kyiv and other cities of Ukraine returned to Russia, and 45 defenders of Azovstal returned to Ukraine.

Satellite images appeared showing the consequences of the explosion at the Pavlohrad Chemical Plant. One can see both a large crater from the main solid propellant explosion and smaller craters from Russian missiles.

The New York Times analyzed the messages of Jack Teixeira (the National Guardsman accused of leaking highly classified Pentagon data) and found out that he was obsessed with weapons, conspiracy theories, mass shootings, and also believed that it was necessary to always prove one's right. For example, he believed that the US authorities were developing biological weapons in Ukrainian laboratories, created the Islamic State, and also organized mass murders with firearms in the USA.

A soldier with the callsign Zloy [Evil] (not to be confused with killed Aleksandr Shubin who had the same callsign) has been awarded the Hero of the “Donetsk People's Republic” award.

On May 5, the Ukrainian Air Force denied an open-source-based report of the Ukrainian Defense Express media outlet about the alleged interception of a Russian Kinzhal hypersonic missile by a MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile system, accusing journalists of informing the enemy. However, on May 6, the commander of the Air Force of Ukraine, Lieutenant General Mykola Oleshchuk, confirmed the information provided by the journalists. On May 8, the interception was also confirmed by CNN sources.

In Mar. 2022, the United States offered Turkey to lift sanctions imposed due to Turkey's purchase of the S-400 SAM systems and return the country to the F-35 fighter production program in exchange for transferring these systems to Ukraine. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has stated that this issue directly concerned the sovereignty of the country, so the offer was declined.

According to the Ministry of Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine, the Swiss Global Clearance Solutions (GCS) company intends to supply Ukraine with about 20 mine clearing machines by the end of 2023.

The Israel Defense magazine, citing a volunteer fighter, reports that Israel is supplying Ukraine with radars for the missile detection system. Three out of the planned sixteen radars have already arrived.