Northeast – Kharkiv Area of Operations
- Russian Federation Armed Forces (RFAF) continue to shell the outskirts of Kharkiv, including Pavlove Pole, and Oleksiivka. No ground assaults were reported over the last week
- Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) liberated Kutizivka on 28 April, making further gains in Rus’ka Lozova. UAF officials commented that they suffered significant losses during the latter counter-offensive
- UAF also made gains in Molodova village, near Staryi Saltiv on 03 May, and disrupted RFAF supply lines in Vesele, approximately 10km to the NE of Kharkiv city
- UAF reported to be continuing to push east along the T2104 route towards the Russian border
- On 1 May, Russian officials accused saboteurs of destroying a bridge in Kursk region
Video showing reported destruction of RFAF convoy in Vesele, Kharkiv region. Source: @Liveuamap
Image reported to be showing UAF soldier raising the Ukrainian flag following the liberation of Molodova, Kharkiv region. Source: @dvish_alive
East – Donbas Area of Operations (assessed RFAF Main Effort)
- On the Izyum axis, RFAF forces continue to focus its efforts on attempting to advance towards Slovyansk and Barvinkove without making any notable gains. UAF successfully repelled attempted assaults on Dovhenke
- Ukrainian General Staff reported on 03 May that an RFAF battery of 240-mm Tulip mortars and an MLRS unit have been deployed from Belgorod into the Izyum area/
On 30 April, UAF reported to have carried out successful rocket and artillery strikes on an RFAF command post in Izyum, killing several senior Russian officials. The RFAF Chief of General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, was also reported to have been at this forward location prior to the strikes
- To the NE of Slovyansk, UAF reported to have withdrawn from Yampil, towards Ozerne and south of the Siverskyi Donets river. RFAF also maintaining slow rate of advance between Izyum and Rubizhne
- Popasna or Rubizhne remains under almost continuous bombardment. Reporting also indicates that RFAF have bolstered their tactical positions with reinforcements from other BTG units
- RFAF also reported to be targeting Lyman, a key position to facilitate future offensive action towards Slovyansk
- In Donetsk, RFAF continue to bombard UAF and civilian locations across the region – notably in Avdiivka, where several civilians were killed on 03 May
Post showing an image of heat anomaly data, illustrating the intensity of reported RFAF bombardment activity in the vicinity of Lyman, Donetsk region. Source: @georgewbarros
South – Kherson and Black Sea Coast Area of Operations
- On 3 & 4 May, RFAF reported to have launched a ground assault on the Azovstal plant in Mariupol, following a period of intense aerial bombardment. This activity follows several evacuations from the area
- In Kherson, Russian officials claim that the Russian currency, the rouble, will be implemented from 01 May across the city and its occupied suburbs. However, there has been resistance to this from the local population.
In Kherson, reports also suggest that following an internet blackout, local online traffic is now being routed via Russian infrastructure
- UAF units reported to be reinforcing its defensive positions ahead of a likely RFAF advance towards Kryvyi Rih and Mykolaiv. Both locations remain under heavy bombardment
- RFAF conducted missile strikes on Odesa on 30 Apr, 2 & 3 May, targeting the airport and alleged logistics facilities in the city. The Zatoka bridge was further damaged following these strikes, in addition to residential properties across the city.
- Twelve (12) alleged Russian saboteurs detained by Ukrainian Security Services in Odesa, including seizure of weapons and ammunition stocks
- Railway infrastructure damaged on 3 May in Kamianske, approximately 20km west of Dnipro
- Ukrainian forces construct a concrete barricade at the Kuchurhan – Pervomaisc border crossing point with Transnistria, following an increase in reported tensions (see below)
Post showing image of smoke coming from the Azovstal plant, Mariupol, following RFAF attacks. Source: @Novynarnia
Post suggesting that Kherson-based internet activity is now being routed via Russian infrastructure. Source: @netblocks
Image showing a concrete barrier has been erected at the Kuchurhan – Pervomaisc border crossing point. Source: @Militarylandnet
- Western officials are concerned that Russia will use its ‘Victory Day’ celebrations on 9 May to publicly expand its military operations in Ukraine. Some commentators believe that Russian President, Vladimir Putin, will use the occasion to galvanise the Russian population, projecting the narrative that Russia is engaged in a war against the West. Plus, with 9 May approaching, experts believe it might affect the RFAF’s operational tempo in the Donbass region – as it seeks to achieve some tangible objectives to sway sentiment in the Kremlin’s favour.
- RFAF continue to carry out precision guided missile strikes on infrastructure targets across central and western Ukraine. On 3 May, electrical substations and water infrastructure were targeted in Lviv, leaving parts of the city without power and water supplies. Internet connectivity was also reported to be 87% down on its usual levels. Post-strike reflections suggested that the strikes were also designed to incapacitate the Ukrainian rail infrastructure. Other locations targeted included Kirovograd, Transcarpathia, and Vinnytsia. It is the first time that Transcarpathia has been struck since the beginning of the invasion.
Video showing impact of RFAF strikes in Lviv. Source: @RALee85
- On 3 May, the UK set-out its GBP 300 million military aid package to Ukraine, including delivery of electronic warfare equipment and night vision devices. The UK also announced that it would be supplying the UAF with heavy-lift drones to enable the delivery of supplies to isolated troop locations. In a separate development, EU officials stated that it would significantly increase its military support to Moldova, following reports of increasing unrest in the Transnistria region. European Council President, Charles Michel, said the EU will step up its logistical support, plus improving its cyber defence capabilities. Michel stated that this support is designed to bring Moldova closer to the EU.
- The EU is expected to announce a new raft of sanctions targeting Russian oil imports; state financial institutions; and individuals linked to the Bucha atrocities. Russian crude oil imports will be phased out over the next 6-months, whilst refined products will be gone by the end of 2022. Hungary and Slovakia will be able to continue to purchase Russian oil products until the end of 2023. No proposals were outlined on how the union will tackle Russian gas imports.
Article outlining the EU’s latest sanctions proposals, including the ban on Russian oil imports. Source: @cnni
- Barvinkove remains an RFAF focal point, as successful capture of this terrain would enable ground troops to circumvent the UAF flank, cutting off supply lines to the west of Slovyansk. This would create more favourable conditions in the medium-term for an assault on the city. UAF withdrawal to the Siverskyi Donets river will make it more difficult for the RFAF to breakthrough UAF defensive positions. Objectives and axes need to be mutually supporting, as the RFAF does not have the force-ratio to be able to conduct a successful assault into Slovyansk and Kramatorsk without supporting fires and combat power from the western advance on the river. The Izyum axis also remains somewhat vulnerable to UAF counteroffensives in Kharkiv region, as the RFAF is likely to need to deploy additional assets to keep the UAF fixed around Kharkiv, removing combat power from offensive action to the south. If the UAF counter-offensive can be held with existing RFAF elements, then the Izyum axis is far more likely to remain viable.
- Public military aid commitments from NATO leaders will increase the likelihood of Russia intensifying its strike activity in Kyiv, and wider Ukraine in the short to medium term. Russian Defence Minister, Sergei Shoigu, issued a warning that any vehicles carrying NATO equipment will be a legitimate strike target. Consequently, it is expected that Ukrainian rail infrastructure will remain the primary target to disrupt UAF ground lines of communication and prevent military aid from reaching the front line.
- Further illustrations of positive EU sentiment towards Moldova (and separate messaging of support to Finland and Sweden’s proposal to join NATO) is likely to play into the Russian narrative that the West poses an existential threat to its interests. Putin’s Victory Day speech will give a clear into his thinking on whether is going to double down on its Ukraine commitment or consolidate its losses and revert to the diplomatic track. Current messaging coming out of the Kremlin suggests the former is the more likely outcome despite there being a lack of tactical justification to do so.
- The EU’s proposals will be seen as a step in the right direction, where pragmatism has helped to facilitate this agreed plan in the face of political dissention from some EU members. However, despite this progress, the union’s reliance on Russian gas imports will remain a chief concern for the Ukrainian government in the medium term. There is nothing in the 04 May statement which suggests that a strategy to divest from Russian gas products is close to being agreed. Until that is the case, current sanctions are less likely to have a degrading effect on Russia in the short-term and there will continuing pressure on the EU to take additional action against the Kremlin and its economic interests.
It is highly likely that over the next week the RFAF will continue to focus its efforts on seizing control of Dovhenke and Lyman to support future offensive operations into Slovyansk. Barvinkove remains a key RFAF objective in the short-term, but current indicators suggest that UAF defences will hold firm in the next reporting period. To the east in Luhansk, Rubizhne and Popasna will continue to observe heavy fighting, with further RFAF reinforcements expected from the southern axis in the coming weeks.
Further UAF successes are likely in Kharkiv region, where RFAF will have to consider whether they reinforce its positions from units deployed to the Izyum, and Donbass axes, or continue to cede ground and consolidate in the east.
Further strikes in central, western area of Ukraine are highly likely in the next 7-days due to the increase in the West’s military commitment to the Ukrainian war effort. Rail infrastructure, and other CNI will remain the primary targets for Russian strikes; however, residential areas – as observed in Odesa – will likely continue to be collateral damage.