May 10

Sitrep for May 8-10, 2024 (as of 8:30 a.m. UTC+3)

Frontline Situation Update

As expected, the Russian Armed Forces failed to capture not only the town of Chasiv Yar by May 9, but also the Kanal neighborhood (if such an order ever existed). Moreover, the pace of their advance is still quite slow and the frontline has remained virtually unchanged over the past days. The video filmed in the village of Umanske with a USSR flag hoisted in the northern part of the town cannot be considered evidence of noticeable Russian advances in the Pokrovsk direction.

Military parades were held in many Russian cities on May 9. It is worth noting that one should not draw conclusions about the material and technical situation in the Russian Army based on the military equipment presented at the parade in Moscow. We are confident that the number of vehicles presented there was deliberately limited so as not to provoke the indignation of the pro-war part of Russian society, whose attention is focused specifically on the main parade of the country. Mostly wheeled armored vehicles, including a few armored personnel carriers, as well as 9K720 Iskander mobile short-range ballistic missile systems, S-400 SAM systems and RS-24 Yars intercontinental ballistic missile launchers were spotted on Red Square, as well as an actual museum exhibit—a T-34-85 tank, the only tracked vehicle in the parade. The air show only included flyovers by the Swifts and Russian Knights aerobatic demonstration teams of the Russian Air Force, as well as Sukhoi Su-25 Grach (Frogfoot) attack aircraft. The latter traditionally released smoke in the colors of the Russian flag. We will publish a more detailed report with an analysis of the military equipment presented at parades in other Russian cities in the near future.

The Russian Ministry of Defense published a video report of the work of the Fuel and Lubricants Service of a group of troops guarding the state border. The video shows a Ural motorcycle carrying a container of fuel directly in its sidecar and UAZ Patriot pickup trucks used for the same purpose. These improvised tankers are not very efficient as they deliver only little fuel. In our opinion, the use of such equipment instead of, for example, Ural trucks may be another sign of a shortage of equipment in the RuAF.

Vazhnyye Istorii [IStories, independent Russian investigative media outlet] has compiled stories of veterans of the Eastern Front of World War II who were killed during the current full-scale invasion or remain either in a combat zone or cities constantly under attack. This news story once again highlights the hypocrisy of the Russian authorities regarding Victory Day.

According to journalist Ivan Filippov from the Na Zzzzzapadnom fronte bez peremen [All quiet on the Wezzzzztern Front] Telegram channel, pro-Russian bloggers were outraged that State Duma member Vitaly Milonov was seen wearing the Order of Courage during Putin's inauguration. This order has been historically considered one of the most prestigious military awards, typically not bestowed upon officials and rear officers. For example, pro-Wagner Telegram channels mentioned recipients of the Order of Courage and Heroes of Russia among the ranks of the Wagner Group to underscore the importance of the group and the significant combat experience of its commanders. However, for Milonov to receive this order, it was sufficient to join the Kaskad military unit—although its members are formally "going to war," in reality, they are always kept at a safe distance from the frontline.

Ukrainian and Russian Strikes

Continuing Ukrainian strikes on targets deep inside Russia:

  • On the night of May 9, UAVs attacked two oil depots in the village of Yurovka, near Anapa, in the Krasnodar region. Despite the Russian Ministry of Defense claiming to have intercepted six drones, eyewitness videos captured the sound of their flight and explosions, with no apparent actions from anti-aircraft defenses. One eyewitness even asserted that the strike involved seven drones.
  • On the morning of May 9, a fixed-wing UAV with a wingspan of approximately 3 meters attacked an oil refinery in the city of Salavat, Bashkortostan [Russia's constituent republic], setting a new record for strike distance—1,300 km [808 mi] from the border with the Kharkiv region. Reportedly, the attack damaged a catalytic cracking unit.

Although we expect that Ukrainian drones may be able to cover distances of up to 2,000 kilometers [1,240 mi] by next year, there seems little practical need to extend their flight ranges given that many oil refineries and military facilities are in the European part of Russia.

A video has emerged from a fighter in the Akhmat unit purportedly showing a Ukrainian UAV carrying preformed fragments, allegedly intended for civilian targets. In reality, it was a Russian drone suppressed by Russian EW means, and the presence of preformed fragments does not indicate the drone’s target.

The previous sitrep mentioned a strike on an oil depot in the city of Luhansk overnight into May 8. Satellite images released by Radio Liberty depict the aftermath of the strike, revealing three burnt-out tanks. In eyewitness videos, some analysts have identified a missile body of an ATACMS tactical ballistic missile. Despite Russian claims that the missile was intercepted, traces of a major fire indicate that the submunitions successfully hit their target and were not intercepted.

It is also reported that one soldier was injured as a result. However, this does not necessarily imply the presence of a military facility nearby, as the serviceman may have coincidentally been in the vicinity of the strike.

Russia continues to attack Ukraine's energy infrastructure. As before, the Russian Ministry of Defense outrightly states that Russian forces are directly targeting Ukrainian energy facilities. According to the Ministry, such attacks hinder military production and prevent the delivery of Western weapons and equipment to the frontline.

The Dobrotvirska Thermal Power Plant, the largest in the Lviv region, was attacked on the night of May 8. When repelling a Russian missile attack on this power plant on Nov. 15, 2022, a Ukrainian air defense missile, after an unsuccessful interception, flew into Polish airspace and fell near the village of PrzewodĂłw, killing two people as a result of an explosion. The Dobrotvirska TPP serves as a vital link for transferring electricity from Europe to Ukraine, particularly during times when Russian attacks severely damage Ukrainian energy infrastructure and additional capacity is required. Consequently, attacks on the plant not only aim to disrupt Ukrainian infrastructure but also to impede Europe's ability to aid Ukraine. In addition, on the same night of May 8, two Ukrainian hydroelectric power stations were disabled as a result of Russian strikes.

On May 8, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine passed a bill on the mobilization of convicts. Contrary to its name, the bill outlines the possibility of convicts signing military contracts under only certain conditions, although the specific details are yet to be disclosed. According to David Arakhamia, leader of the ruling Servant of the People party, the total number of convicts who may meet the criteria outlined in this law is estimated to be between 15,000 to 20,000 individuals. However, it remains uncertain how many of them will opt to sign such contracts. The plan is to recruit several thousand people in total.

Newsweek has published an article summarizing the latest X thread by OSINT researcher Jompy, who counted remaining Russian military equipment inventory using satellite imagery. We covered one of his previous threads a couple of weeks ago.

All studies looking into the quantity of Russian military vehicles left in storage facilities seem to come to the same conclusion: their numbers have greatly diminished. However, this trend is far from being uniform. For example, while BRDM-2 amphibious scout cars, for mysterious reasons, have largely been left untouched and have scarcely been deployed to the frontline, stocks of other equipment, such as BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles and BTR-80 armored personnel carriers, are either dwindling away or have been completely exhausted. As a result, there is a shortage of military vehicles on the frontline, and soldiers are now left to mount assaults on motorcycles and armored Ural trucks, or even fuel tankers based on UAZ pickup trucks. With repair plants unable to recondition military equipment at the same rate they are lost on the frontline, this deficit will continue to grow over time, and we will likely see ever more baroque contraptions appear on the battlefield, such as MLRS launchers mounted on UAZ-452D chassis.

This state of affairs has been recently highlighted in a Russian drone video recorded somewhere around the village of Robotyne on the Zaporizhzhia axis. The footage shows two Russian soldiers riding towards Ukrainian positions on a motorcycle. However, heavy gear combined with poor driving skills prevent them from maneuvering effectively through the rough terrain, causing them to repeatedly fall off their vehicle absent of external interference. As we mentioned in our previous sitrep, while motorcycles can be suitable for limited special operations or rear support missions, such as transporting classified messages, they are ill suited for frontal assaults.

From a strategic point of view, it would now be reasonable for both sides to halt offensive actions, consolidate their current positions, engage in fortification construction and build up reserves of military personnel and equipment for upcoming battles. However, we see that despite equipment shortages, Russian forces continue to attack, using inappropriate means and incurring significant losses. The main reason for this likely lies in the fact that the RuAF command values the ability to report successes over common sense. Fearing punishment, field commanders do not report equipment shortages to their superiors and instead opt for motorcycle assaults, disregarding the resulting casualties.

At the same time, the lack of personnel and equipment prevents the AFU from taking advantage of the current challenges faced by the RuAF, hindering their ability to advance and liberate territories. If we base our projections on forecasts regarding the expansion of weapon production in Europe and the USA, it is plausible that by 2025, Russia's equipment advantage will start to diminish. Consequently, over time, the AFU may find greater success in countering the Russian Army. However, this assumption does not address the issue of personnel shortages, the resolution of which remains uncertain for Ukraine.