Content Assessment: From Patriotic War to Patriot Missiles? Russo-Ukrainian War Update (May 9-15, 2023)
Information - 93%
Insight - 92%
Relevance - 90%
Objectivity - 91%
Authority - 92%
A short percentage-based assessment of the qualitative benefit of the post highlighting the recent Ukraine conflict assessments in maps from the Institute for the Study of War.
Editor’s Note: The discipline of eDiscovery, which involves the identification, preservation, and analysis of electronic data, is increasingly being used in investigations and litigation relating to war crimes. In the case of the Russo-Ukrainian War, eDiscovery tools and techniques can be used to identify and collect electronic evidence of war crimes, such as emails, social media posts, and other digital communications that may provide valuable insights into the actions of individuals and organizations involved in the conflict. This evidence can then be used in investigations and legal proceedings to hold perpetrators of war crimes accountable for their actions. Additionally, eDiscovery can help to efficiently and effectively manage the vast amount of electronic evidence that may be relevant to war crimes cases, allowing investigators and legal teams to quickly and accurately analyze the data to identify key pieces of information. This weekly update may be useful for cybersecurity, information governance, and legal discovery professionals as they consider investigations and litigation resulting from war crimes committed during the war.*
Background Note: One of the most accurate and detailed sources for ongoing updates on the Ukraine crisis is the Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment from the Institute for the Study of War. The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) is a 501(c)(3) organization and produces strictly non-partisan, non-ideological, fact-based research. ISW seeks to promote an informed understanding of war and military affairs through comprehensive, independent, and accessible open-source research and analysis. ISW’s research is made available to the general public, military practitioners, policymakers, and media members. Providing a daily synthesis of key events related to the Russian aggression against Ukraine, ISW updates may benefit investigators and litigators as they follow the business, information technology, and legal trends and trajectories impacted by and stemming from the current Russo-Ukrainian conflict.
Assessment and Maps**
Russo-Ukrainian Conflict Assessments – An Overview in Maps
- Institute for the Study of War (ISW), Russia Team
- Critical Threats Project (CTP), American Enterprise Institute
General Assessment Background Info
- ISW systematically publishes Russian campaign assessments that include maps highlighting the assessed control of terrain in Ukraine and main Russian maneuver axes.
- These maps augment daily synthetic products that cover key events related to renewed Russian aggression against Ukraine.
The Russian Offensive Campaign Assessments
- May 15, 2023
- By Kateryna Stepanenko, Riley Bailey, Grace Mappes, Layne Philipson, and Frederick W. Kagan
- Leaked US intelligence accessed by The Washington Post indicates that Wagner Group financier Yevgeniy Prigozhin offered to disclose the locations of Russian positions to Ukrainian intelligence in exchange for Bakhmut.
- Ukrainian officials acknowledged limited Ukrainian battlefield successes during recent localized counterattacks in and around Bakhmut.
- Russian milbloggers uniformly attacked a proposal for “military censorship,” further indicating that the community is highly motivated to defend its privileged position within the Russian information space.
- The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that it intercepted a Ukrainian Storm Shadow missile for the first time on May 15.
- The Kremlin has reportedly banned high-ranking officials from resigning during the war in Ukraine, likely in an attempt to maintain stability within domestic security organs, government bodies, and the Russian military command.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with French President Emmanuel Macron and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on May 14 and 15 confirming the provision of more Western military aid.
- Russian sources claimed that Russian forces captured Masyutivka, Kharkiv Oblast and established a bridgehead on the west bank of the Oskil River, but ISW has observed no visual confirmation of these claims.
- Russian forces continued to launch ground assaults in and around Bakhmut and conducted limited offensive operations near Donetsk City.
- Ukrainian intelligence reported that approximately 152,000 Russian military personnel in southern Ukraine continue defensive efforts ahead of a possible Ukrainian counteroffensive.
- Russian authorities continue efforts to take advantage of migrant labor and incentivize foreigners into contract military service.
- Russian officials and occupation authorities continue to set conditions to forcibly relocate Ukrainians from occupied territories to Russia.
- Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko received a briefing from Belarusian generals on May 15 following recent speculation about his possible illness or death.
- May 14, 2023
- By Riley Bailey, Grace Mappes, Karolina Hird, Layne Philipson, and Frederick W. Kagan
- Russian forces conducted another series of drone and missile strikes against Ukraine on the night of May 13 to 14.
- Increasingly regular series of Russian drone and missile strikes are likely a part of a new Russian air campaign in Ukraine aimed at degrading Ukrainian abilities to conduct counteroffensive offensive operations in the near term.
- Ukrainian forces continued counterattacking around Bakhmut on May 14.
- The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) is attempting to distract from recent Ukrainian successes near Bakhmut by praising Russian defensive efforts against the Ukrainian counterattacks.
- Former Russian officer and ardent nationalist Igor Girkin’s newly formed “Club of Angry Patriots” is continuing efforts to expand its presence and influence public discourse.
- Russian forces conducted ground attacks northeast of Kupyansk and along the Kupyansk-Svatove line.
- Russian forces have not made additional confirmed gains in or around Bakhmut and continued limited offensive operations on the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line.
- Russian forces continued to fire on areas west of Hulyaipole in southern Ukraine.
- Russian forces continue efforts to replenish manpower losses using prisoners.
- Russian officials and occupation authorities continue to prepare for the September 2023 elections in occupied territories.
- May 13, 2023
- By Riley Bailey, Karolina Hird, Nicole Wolkov, George Barros, and Frederick W. Kagan
- Ukrainian forces continue to counterattack in the Bakhmut area amid unconfirmed claims of further marginal Ukrainian gains southwest of the city as of May 13.
- Russian forces conducted a Shahed-131/136 drone strike against Ukraine on the night of May 12 to 13.
- Russian media reported that two Russian Mi-8 helicopters, an Su-34 bomber, and an Su-35 fighter crashed in Bryansk Oblast on May 13, which some Russian sources claimed was caused by Ukrainian air defenses.
- Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces struck rear Russian areas in Luhansk Oblast with British Storm Shadow cruise missiles on May 12 and 13, prompting heightened Russian anxiety about potential Ukrainian abilities to target Russian logistics.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin’s insistence on conducting the war in Ukraine in the style of the “Great Patriotic Special Military Operation” has opened the door for several hardline actors to advocate for the institutionalization of increasingly Stalinist domestic policies.
- Former Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Sergey Avakyants reportedly received an appointment to lead a new Russian force generation organization called “Voin” (“Warrior”), which reportedly replaced Russia’s legacy Russian Volunteer Society for Assistance to the Army, Aviation, and Navy of Russia (DOSAAF).
- Belarusian President Lukashenko was reportedly hospitalized at a presidential hospital in Minsk on May 13.
- Russian forces continued limited ground attacks northeast of Kupyansk and northwest of Svatove.
- Russian forces made marginal gains within Bakhmut and continued limited offensive operations along the Avdiivka-Donetsk front.
- Russian forces targeted Ukrainian positions in southern Ukraine west of Hulyaipole.
- Russian forces are reportedly replenishing units with mobilized personnel.
- Russian authorities continue efforts to deport Ukrainian children to Russia under the guise of “rest and relaxation” schemes.
- May 12, 2023
- By Karolina Hird, Grace Mappes, Nicole Wolkov, Layne Philipson, and Frederick W. Kagan
- Ukrainian forces have made gains northwest of Bakhmut in localized counterattacks as of May 12.
- Russian milbloggers and other prominent voices in the pro-war information space continue to respond to recent Ukrainian counterattacks with varying degrees of caution and anxiety.
- Ukrainian and American officials stated that Ukrainian forces have not yet started the planned counteroffensive.
- Senior Russian officials proposed a series of domestic repression and censorship measures during the St. Petersburg International Legal Forum on May 11.
- Former Russian officer and ardent nationalist Igor Girkin’s newly formed “Club of Angry Patriots” held a press conference on May 12 to discuss its discontent with the current Russian conduct of the war in Ukraine.
- U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Reuben Brigety accused South Africa of loading a Russian ship with ammunition and weapons in December 2022, contradicting its proclaimed neutral stance on the war in Ukraine.
- The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) attempted to distract from and assuage information space paranoia over a potential Ukrainian counteroffensive on the Kharkiv-Luhansk front.
- Russian forces continue limited ground attacks in and around Bakhmut.
- Russian sources continue to speculate about potential Ukrainian counteroffensive preparations in southern Ukraine.
- Russian forces continue to recruit convicts and establish volunteer battalions as a part of crypto-mobilization efforts.
- Senior Russian officials are claiming that they are taking active measures to return displaced and illegally deported Ukrainian civilians, including Ukrainian children, to occupied Ukraine.
- May 11, 2023
- By Kateryna Stepanenko, Grace Mappes, Nicole Wolkov, Layne Philipson, and Frederick W. Kagan
- Ukrainian forces likely broke through some Russian lines in localized counterattacks near Bakhmut, prompting responses from Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin and the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD).
- The deployment of low-quality Russian forces on the flanks around Bakhmut suggests that the Russian MoD has largely abandoned the aim of encircling a significant number of Ukrainian forces there.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that Ukraine needs more time to launch a counteroffensive because it is waiting for the delivery of promised military aid.
- Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov contradicted the pre-war Kremlin justifications for the war by asserting that the Russian “special military operation” began as “a conflict between Russia and Ukraine.”
- Unnamed Kremlin sources claimed that Wagner Group Yevgeny Prigozhin’s recent rhetoric is “seriously disturbing the top leadership” of Russia.
- The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) denied Ukrainian and US reports that a Patriot missile defense system shot down a Kinzhal missile on the night of May 4.
- Russian occupation authorities seized the cathedral of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine in Simferopol as oppression of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church continues in Russian-occupied Crimea.
- Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks northeast of Kupyansk and along the Svatove-Kreminna line.
- Ukrainian forces reportedly continued to conduct localized counterattacks around Bakhmut.
- Russian forces targeted Ukrainian positions west of Hulyaipole and in Kherson Oblast.
- Russia needs to produce over 29 million shells per year to satisfy Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin’s demands for Wagner to use 80,000 shells per day – 13 times more than Russia’s pre-invasion annual production rate.
- Russian officials continue to threaten and seek to manipulate international humanitarian efforts by threatening to dissolve the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which is set to expire on May 18.
- May 10, 2023
- By Karolina Hird, Riley Bailey, Layne Philipson, Nicole Wolkov, and Frederick W. Kagan
- Ukrainian forces conducted successful limited counterattacks around Bakhmut on May 9.
- Pervasive issues with Russian combat capabilities, exacerbated by continued attritional assaults in the Bakhmut area, are likely considerably constraining the ability of Russian forces in this area to defend against localized Ukrainian counterattacks.
- Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces struck a command center where Ukrainian military commanders and officials were located, likely to support an ongoing effort to frame Russian operations as constraining Ukrainian capabilities to launch a counteroffensive.
- The US Department of Defense (DoD) confirmed that Ukrainian forces successfully shot down a Russian missile using the Patriot missile defense system. The Biden administration also announced a new $1.2 billion military aid package to Ukraine.
- Russian forces conducted ground attacks in the Kupyansk and Kreminna areas.
- Russian and Wagner Group forces continued offensive operations in and around Bakhmut on May 10, despite Wagner financier Yevgeny Prigozhin’s previous threat that Wagner would withdraw from the area at midnight.
- Russian forces continued limited offensive operations along the Avdiivka-Donetsk front.
- Russian forces conducted airstrikes on Ukrainian positions in Kherson and Zaporizhia oblasts.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an annual decree calling up citizens from reserves for military training.
- Russian occupation authorities are continuing the removal of Ukrainian residents from their homes in occupied areas under the guise of humanitarian evacuations.
- May 9, 2023
- By Kateryna Stepanenko, Riley Bailey, Nicole Wolkov, and Mason Clark
- Russian President Vladimir Putin declined to use his Victory Day address to make any significant rhetorical changes and reiterated existing narratives, preparing for a protracted war and framing Russia as successfully resisting the entire West.
- Putin additionally attempted to use Victory Day celebrations to rally Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) partners, many of which have sought to reduce their reliance on the Kremlin since February 2022.
- Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin likely seized the Victory Day holiday as an opportunity to mock Putin and question his judgment in one of his most direct challenges of Putin to date.
- Prigozhin announced that Wagner forces will not withdraw from Bakhmut by the previously stated deadline of May 10 despite the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) failing to resolve the claimed “shell hunger.”
- Prigozhin’s failure to abide by the withdrawal threat he made on May 5 indicates that he is cognizant of his dependence on the Russian MoD.
- Prigozhin continued to blame high casualties and the slow pace of advance in Bakhmut on other Russian irregular formations to frame Wagner as the only competent force operating in the area.
- Russian forces conducted another large-scale series of missile strikes against Ukraine on the night of May 8 to 9.
- Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks northeast of Kupyansk and along the Svatove-Kreminna line.
- Russian forces continued to make marginal gains within Bakhmut and continued limited offensive operations along the Avdiivka–Donetsk front.
- Russian forces targeted Ukrainian positions west of Hulyaipole and in Kherson Oblast.
- Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov opened a new military camp for the “Sever Akhmat” Special Purpose Regiment in the Republic of Chechnya.
- Russian occupation officials continue to deport civilians deeper into Russian-occupied territory.
We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because those activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We will continue to evaluate and report on the effects of these criminal activities on the Ukrainian military and population and specifically on combat in Ukrainian urban areas. We utterly condemn these Russian violations of the laws of armed conflict, Geneva Conventions, and humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.
Chronology of Maps from May 9 – 15, 2023 – Mouseover to ScrollUkraine Conflict Maps – 050923 – 051523
See the Institute for the Study of War Interactive Map of the Russian Invasion
Read the latest Ukraine Conflict updates from the Institute for the Study of War
* Shared with direct express permission from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
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