Content Assessment: The Time Draweth Nigh? Russo-Ukrainian War Update (May 31 - June 5, 2023)
Information - 93%
Insight - 92%
Relevance - 93%
Objectivity - 94%
Authority - 95%
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
- June 5, 2023
- By Riley Bailey, Karolina Hird, Kateryna Stepanenko, Nicole Wolkov, and Fredrick W. Kagan
- Russian and Ukrainian officials are signaling the start of the Ukrainian counteroffensive.
- Ukrainian forces conducted limited successful offensives north and southwest of Bakhmut.
- The pro-Ukrainian all-Russian Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK) claimed that it continues to operate in a Russian border settlement in Belgorod Oblast as of June 5.
- Chechen Republic Head Ramzan Kadyrov claimed that Chechen forces are ready to defend against raids in Belgorod Oblast, likely partially in order to keep his forces out of combat in Ukraine.
- The Russian Black Sea Fleet is attempting to mitigate complications with logistical support in occupied Crimea by shifting resources to mainland Russia.
- Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin is continuing efforts to exacerbate the divide between the Wagner Group and the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD).
- Russian milbloggers responded to the video of Lieutenant Colonel Venevitin with concern, indicating that several prominent pro-war voices are becoming increasingly concerned over the ramifications of the Wagner-MoD divide.
- Russian forces reportedly conducted unsuccessful reconnaissance-in-force operations northeast of Kharkiv City and continued limited ground attacks northeast of Kupyansk and along the Svatove-Kreminna line.
- Russian forces continued limited offensive operations on the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line.
- Ukrainian forces continued ground attacks in western Donetsk and eastern Zaporizhia oblasts and made further limited tactical gains.
- Ukrainian forces continue to target rear Russian positions throughout southern Ukraine.
- Iran has allegedly signed contracts with Russia for about $1.74 million in ammunition for Russia to use in Ukraine.
- Ukrainian sources and Belarusian sources indicated that Belarus has been involved in the forced deportation of Ukrainian children.
- June 4, 2023
- By Riley Bailey, Kateryna Stepanenko, Nicole Wolkov, George Barros, Karolina Hird, and Fredrick W. Kagan
- Elements of the all-Russian pro-Ukrainian Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK) and Freedom of Russia Legion (LSR) conducted another limited raid into Belgorod Oblast on June 4 and are reportedly continuing to operate in a Russian border settlement.
- Belgorod Oblast Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov responded to a RDK and LSR demand to negotiate for the exchange of captured Russian prisoners of war (POWs).
- The dissonant Russian responses to and reporting about the limited raid in Belgorod Oblast continue to suggest that the Russian leadership has not yet decided how to react to these limited cross-border raids.
- The limited raids and border shelling in Belgorod Oblast are increasingly becoming the current focal point for criticism against the Russian military leadership.
- Russian forces again targeted Ukraine with Iranian-made drones and cruise missiles on June 4 making it the fourth consecutive day of strikes across Ukraine.
- Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed on June 4 that Ukrainian forces may have regained positions in southwestern Bakhmut, supporting repeated Ukrainian reports that Ukrainian forces maintain positions on the southwestern outskirts of the city.
- Ukrainian and Russian forces both claimed to have made limited territorial gains on the Kupyansk-Svatove line.
- Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks around Bakhmut and Marinka.
- Ukrainian forces conducted local ground attacks and reportedly made limited tactical gains in western Donetsk Oblast and eastern Zaporizhia Oblast.
- The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) submitted a draft government decree that will no longer require an individual’s presence at an enlistment office for military registration.
- Russian officials continue to use rest and rehabilitation schemes to deport Ukrainian children from occupied territories to Russia.
- June 3, 2023
- By Riley Bailey, Grace Mappes, Karolina Hird, and Fredrick W. Kagan
- Ukrainian officials continue to signal that Ukrainian forces are prepared to start counteroffensive operations.
- Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin escalated his feud with the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD), likely hoping to draw criticism back to the Russian military leadership and downplay his ongoing conflict with Chechen Republic Head Ramzan Kadyrov. Prigozhin’s flamboyant allegations are also likely an attempt to retain his heightened initiative within the Russian information space following the capture of Bakhmut.
- Prigozhin seized on general Russian discontent with security on the Belgorod Oblast border to threaten that Wagner Group forces may operate in Russian territory without approval from the Russian military command.
- A Russian Duma Deputy stated during a public forum on June 1 that Russia has failed to accomplish any of its articulated goals for the “special military operation” in Ukraine.
- Russian forces continued limited offensive operations along the Kupyansk-Svatove line and northwest and south of Kreminna.
- Regular Russian forces have likely largely relieved Wagner Group forces in Bakhmut amid a low offensive tempo in the area as of June 3.
- Russian forces focused offensive operations on the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line near Marinka.
- Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces continued limited ground attacks in western Donetsk Oblast.
- Russian forces continued efforts to establish defensive positions in Kherson Oblast.
- The Russian military leadership is attempting to create and staff new military formations.
- Likely Ukrainian partisans assassinated a Russian collaborator in occupied Zaporizhia Oblast.
- June 2, 2023
- By Layne Philipson, Riley Bailey, Grace Mappes, Karolina Hird, and Fredrick W. Kagan
- The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) continues to respond disproportionately to limited raids into Russian territory, likely to project confidence and competence in the MoD’s ability to respond to perceived threats.
- Select Russian milbloggers continue to use the situation in Belgorod Oblast to criticize Russian leadership while others downplayed the recent raids.
- Russian forces conducted another series of strikes against Ukraine using cruise missiles and Iranian-made drones on the night of June 1-2.
- Head of the Russian Main Organizational and Mobilization Directorate of the General Staff Colonel General Yevgeny Burdinsky announced that the Russian military will form two new military districts and other new formations by the end of 2023. Budinsky’s statements likely aim to reintroduce and reamplify Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s standing proposals to significantly expand the Russian military.
- Russian sources appear to be reorienting the debate about the attribution of responsibility for small-scale tactical gains in the Bakhmut area to an ongoing offensive operation to capture Marinka, a small, almost leveled settlement where Russian sources have struggled to advance since the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. These discussions about responsibility coincide with the reported arrival of Chechen forces to assume responsibility of the Donetsk front and complete the capture of Marinka and other settlements in the area.
- US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on June 2 that calls for a ceasefire are unacceptable because they will freeze the current lines in place and enable Putin to consolidate control of occupied areas and prepare for future attacks on Ukraine.
- Russian forces continued ground attacks in the Kupyansk and Kreminna directions.
- Russian forces conducted ground attacks in Marinka.
- A Russian source claimed that Ukrainian forces made territorial gains during limited counterattacks in western Donetsk Oblast.
- Russian sources claimed that Ukraine struck the port area in occupied Berdyansk, Zaporizhia Oblast, with Storm Shadow missiles.
- Ukrainian sources continue to report that Russian cadets from higher military academies are deploying to areas near the Ukrainian border within Russia.
- Russian occupation authorities continue to forcibly transport Ukrainian children to Russia under the guise of medical rehabilitation schemes.
- June 1, 2023
- By Riley Bailey, Kateryna Stepanenko, Nicole Wolkov, Layne Philipson, George Barros, and Fredrick W. Kagan
- Russian forces conducted another series of missile strikes on Ukraine overnight on May 31 to June 1 and during the day on June 1.
- Elements of the all-Russian pro-Ukrainian Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK) and Freedom of Russia Legion (LSR) reportedly conducted another raid into Belgorod Oblast on June 1.
- Russian officials and milbloggers’ responses to the limited raid in Belgorod Oblast are indicative of a continued heightened anxiety within the Russian information space regarding the war in Ukraine.
- Chechen commanders and officials launched a concerted attack on Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin on June 1 in a likely attempt to undermine Prigozhin’s appeal.
- Prigozhin responded to the attacks claiming that he will continue to voice his opinions until Russian MoD officials are punished for their mistakes in planning the invasion of Ukraine
- Chechen attacks on Prigozhin’s character may be a part of the Kremlin’s efforts to discredit and undermine Prigozhin as his forces withdraw from the frontlines.
- Russian forces conducted offensive operations northeast of Kupyansk and northwest of Svatove.
- The tempo of Russian and Ukrainian offensive operations in the Bakhmut direction remains low as of June 1, and Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line.
- Russian forces did not conduct any confirmed ground attacks along the southern axis.
- The Russian State Duma rejected a draft law that would have granted mobilization exemptions to candidates and doctors of the science.
- Russian occupation authorities announced that regional elections in occupied territories will take place on September 10.
- Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin announced on May 31 that Ukraine is investigating over 2,900 crimes against children committed by Russian forces.
- May 31, 2023
- By Grace Mappes, Kateryna Stepanenko, Nicole Wolkov, Layne Philipson, and Fredrick W. Kagan
- The Russian military command has likely ordered Chechen Republic Head Ramzan Kadyrov’s forces to begin offensive operations in Ukraine following the withdrawal of Wagner Group forces from Bakhmut.
- The claimed return of Chechen forces to offensive operations would break Kadyrovites from a nearly yearlong hiatus from participating in high-intensity combat operations.
- The Kremlin may be attempting to reintroduce Kadyrovites as the main offensive force following the culmination of Wagner forces and their withdrawal from the frontlines.
- The Kremlin may also be attempting to sever Kadyrov’s relationship with Wagner financier Yevgeny Prigozhin and re-emphasize federal authority over Chechen forces.
- The official Russian responses to recent attacks against Russia remain likely insufficient to satisfy the Russian ultranationalist information space’s desire for escalation in the war.
- Russian forces conducted ground attacks northwest of Svatove and south of Kreminna.
- Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks around Bakhmut and along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line.
- Russian forces continue to concentrate in southern Ukraine.
- The Russian State Duma appears to be considering measures to legalize the military recruitment of current or formerly incarcerated Russian men.
- Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada Human Rights Commissioner Dmytro Lyubinets announced that Ukraine has a new avenue to repatriate Ukrainian children abducted to Russia.
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 31 – June 5, 2023 – Mouseover to ScrollUkraine Conflict Maps – 053123 – 060523
* Shared with direct express permission from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
About the Institute for the Study of War Research Methodology
ISW’s research methodology relies on both primary and secondary sources, enabling researchers to develop a comprehensive understanding of the situation on the ground. In order to analyze military and political developments in any given area, ISW’s research analysts must wholly understand the systems of enemy and friendly forces. They must also understand the population demographics, physical terrain, politics, and history of that area. This lays the analytical foundation for understanding the reasons for particular developments and fulfilling their assigned research objectives. ISW analysts also spend time in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in order to gain a better understanding of the security and political situation and to evaluate the implementation of current strategies and policies. Our researchers compile data and analyze trends, producing a granular analysis of developments in areas of research, producing an accurate, high-resolution, timely, and thorough picture of the situation. ISW’s research methodology guarantees its success and commitment to improving the nation’s ability to execute military operations, achieve strategic objectives, and respond to emerging problems that may require the use of American military power.
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The Institute for the Study of War advances an informed understanding of military affairs through reliable research, trusted analysis, and innovative education. We are committed to improving the nation’s ability to execute military operations and respond to emerging threats in order to achieve U.S. strategic objectives. ISW is a non-partisan, non-profit, public policy research organization.
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