May 10, 2023

Sitrep for May 9–10 (as of 9:00 a.m.)

The Situation on the Frontline

Since the Ukrainian counteroffensive has not yet begun, the main source of news remains the Wagner Group, which is attempting to fully capture Bakhmut.

Yevgeny Prigozhin [Russian oligarch, confidant of Vladimir Putin, and the owner of the Wagner Group] released a 27-minute video in which he talked about receiving a combat order that stated that mercenaries leaving their positions would be accused of treason. It also contained an order to provide the Wagner Group with the necessary ammunition. However, the next day, military officials significantly reduced the volume of supplies for the Wagner Group.

When Prigozhin visited the artillery positions, the crews of a 2A36 Giatsint-B 152mm towed field gun and a BM-27 Uragan MLRS complained about the lack of ammunition, which made conducting counter-battery fire impossible, and only the crew of a Pantsir-S1 surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery system reported that they did not have such a problem. Prigozhin met General Mikhail Mizintsev and claimed he had been fired for providing ammunition to mercenaries. He also noted that General Sergey Surovikin lacked the authority to supply the Wagner Group.

In another statement, Prigozhin said that the Armed Forces of Ukraine allegedly hit the place of detention for Ukrainian POWs with HIMARS MLRS, but no one was injured as a result. Let us note that holding POWs dangerously close to the frontline is a violation of the rules of warfare.

Besides, in his above mentioned half-hour video, Prigozhin claims that soldiers of the 72nd Motorized Rifle Brigade of the RuAF fled from their positions in a panic, due to which Wagner Group mercenaries who had to take these positions to hold the flank suffered huge losses (about 500 KIAs). It should be noted that such problems with personnel are typical not only for the RuAF — the AFU also had them since non-professional military personnel cannot always correctly assess the situation and make the right decision during the fighting.

Prigozhin’s statement is indirectly confirmed by videos, for example, filmed by the 3rd Separate Assault Brigade of the AFU showing fighting during which Russian forces suffered quite heavy losses (64 KIAs, 87 WIAs and 5 POWs). The video was geolocated west of Klishchiivka where the 72nd Motorized Rifle Brigade of the RuAF was fighting.

A Ukrainian soldier filmed a video on the route from Bakhmut (through Ivanivske and along dirt roads) to Kostiantynivka showing a large amount of abandoned and wrecked military vehicles accumulated there over three days. The AFU soldiers came there to evacuate bodies of killed crewmen of a BREM ARV, who had arrived to pull out the military vehicles but came under fire.

Agence France-Presse has reported that its correspondent Arman Soldin was killed in the Chasiv Yar area during a rocket attack on Ukrainian positions. Notably, the correspondent was wearing black gear with the inscription "press," which differed from combatants' equipment. While filming one of his last reports (published on May 1), Soldin and Ukrainian soldiers came under fire by Grad MLRS, with rockets hitting about 50 meters away from them.

The pro-Russian Telegram channel Trinadtsatyy [the 13th] of “DPR” serviceman Egor Guzenko accuses Russian war correspondents (in particular, Aleksandr Kots) of disinformation regarding the absence of Ukrainian special forces on the left bank of the Dnipro river. War correspondents arrive in Oleshky and claim that Ukrainian soldiers are not landing on the left bank at all, but in reality, the distance from this settlement to the Dnipro riverbank, where active fighting sometimes takes place, is quite far.

According to a statement by Ukraine's Air Defense Forces, eight 3M-54 Kalibr cruise missiles and 15 Kh-101 and Kh-555 cruise missiles have been shot down over the past two days. In the days leading up to May 8, Ukraine's territory was mostly under attack by loitering munitions. This statement is confirmed by a series of photos from the Kyiv region, showing debris from such missiles.

Pentagon spokesman Patrick Ryder confirmed the interception of a Kinzhal hypersonic missile by the Ukrainian Air Defense Forces using the Patriot SAM system. On the other hand, he declined to comment on the purported depletion of anti-aircraft missiles within the Ukrainian Air Defense Forces.

While investigating tenders and government procurement contracts, journalists from the Sota media outlet found that the cost of all events commemorating Victory Day exceeded 1 billion rubles, out of which 300 million were spent in Moscow.

Meanwhile, The Novaya Vkladka [New Tab] media outlet reported that servicemen from Priargunsk, Zabaykalsky region, are forced to donate 2–3 thousand rubles from their salaries for the “special military operation” (the average monthly salary for a contract soldier in the region is 50–55 thousand rubles).

We did not yet have a chance to analyze the types of military vehicles used in the parades and compare them to last year. We have known for a long time that Russia is struggling with tanks, so we were not surprised by their virtual absence from the parades.

In Khabarovsk, we noticed both modernized T-62M tanks with explosive reactive armor blocks and regular T-62M tanks without them. Also noteworthy was the participation in that parade of the infamous commander of the 64th Motorized Rifle Brigade Azatbek Omurbekov. Speaking earlier with journalists from iStories [independent Russian investigative media outlet], servicemen from this brigade accused him of giving orders to kill civilians during the occupation of the Kyiv region.

The Pentagon has announced a new $1.2 billion military aid package for Ukraine as part of the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. Contracts will be signed with manufacturers for:

  • air defense systems and munitions for them;
  • equipment for the integration of Western air defense launchers, missiles, and radars with Ukrainian air defense systems;
  • ammunition to counter UAVs;
  • 155mm artillery rounds;
  • commercial satellite imagery services;
  • support for training, maintenance, and sustainment activities.

Finally, a representative example of an OSINT investigation: Bellingcat’s Arik Toler, through open sources, was able to identify a blog of the man behind the May 8 mass shooting in Texas on Odnoklassniki [Russian social network] and found there many photos of the shooter showing tattoos of a swastika, SS ligature and other far-right symbols. It is worth noting that a fairly large number of Europeans and Americans who adhere to far-right views use Odnoklassniki and VKontakte, since their profiles are blocked on other social networks for inappropriate content. This did not stop Elon Musk from expressing doubts about the authenticity of the photos, saying that Bellingcat specializes in psyops. He was also surprised that a non-Russian speaker could have a profile on Odnoklassniki.