War in Ukraine / May 14-15

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Expert View: Frank Ledwidge, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Business & Law, Strategy Enterprise & Innovation

The explosions in Transdniestria are part of a clear but disturbing pattern of broadening and escalation. In terms of the spread of the conflict we have seen incidents in Russia (Belgorod x 2, Tver, Bryansk etc) that were either false flag actions – as the Transdniestria explosions surely were, or genuine sabotage. Either way, facilities in Russia are being damaged at an impressive rate. It is clear of course that the Transdniestria incidents are closely related to the new strategic objective identified some days ago, which amount as you well know to the reanimation of the Novorossiya ideal.

The comments of the UK Defence Minister James Heapey that the UK supported the (self-evident) right of Ukraine to strike at Russia itself have given Russia the pretext to threaten retaliation to the UK. None of these incidents in themselves are surprising. Taken together they represent a clear pattern of overall gradual escalation and spread and all of them provide Russia with the pretext of provocation to justify some form of strike to escalate further. I think it unlikely to be WMD, more likely perhaps in the cyber domain, of which we have so far seen little. The use of the has weapon is decidedly double-edged as recent weeks have demonstrated that western offensive and defensive cyber to be formidable. The point here is that the 

Transdniestria issue is part of this process of broadening and widening the conflict.

As for Mariupol, thankfully ‘experts’ have ceased predicting its inevitable imminent fall. One or two battalions of Marines and the Azov Brigade have heroically held off at least twelve Russian BTGs (according to UK intelligence) and continue to do so, even managing to rescue another unit trapped in the city last week. From the Russian perspective, obviously It is no easy task to take several square kilometers of heavy industrial plant, defended by a ferocious and capable military force. They will continue to take severe casualties and I would assess are unfit for further immediate deployment in the event of success at Azovstal.

Interestingly, I am not the first to observe the similarities with the defense of the Red October Plant in 

Stalingrad 1942-43. Unlike the Stalingrad factory, Azovstal is reported to have the remarkable defensive advantage of being built on a major network of tunnel shelters, making it an even harder nut to crack.

From the information war perspective though there is another significant angle. Whilst as far as I am aware there were no developed plans to fortify Mariupol prior to the current war, as far as I am aware there certainly have been extensive fortifications of Severodonetsk, Sloviansk and Kramatorsk amongst other towns. Given their locations, it certainly would be surprising if there had not been such efforts. Russian assault units will not find appealing the idea of another or more than one even better defended Mariupol. This of course assumes their faltering assault in Donbas gets that far.

© Frank Ledwidge

Russian offensive is exhausted, Kherson may not hold

Western intelligence is united in its view of Russia’s current offensive: the country cannot achieve any of its goals. There is no certainty about Kherson either. Why such conclusions?

Despite the fact that Russia has been moving troops from north to east since mid-April, reducing the front line and changing leadership, their army has not been very successful in a month. In particular, it failed to create a powerful bridgehead on the banks of the Seversky-Donets River on the part controlled by Ukraine. Several crossings have already been destroyed, hundreds of units of equipment have been lost. According to British intelligence, this is a big problem: the Russian army simply lacks river crossings, without which the offensive is impossible. It is fair to say that in the future this will be a problem for Ukraine during the counteroffensive.

Another big problem of Russia is the lack of reserves. At the time of writing, according to various sources, Russia had already lost at least a third of its troops preparing for war with Ukraine. At the same time, it is not possible to carry out mobilization at the previously expected pace. The troops themselves are demoralized and do not want to fight. Not so long ago, an entire battalion refused to attack. Western intelligence services do not comment on the loss of Russia, according to Ukraine – Russia has lost more than 27 thousand soldiers in manpower alone, another 60-70 thousand – wounded. In addition, Russia lost more than 200 aircraft and more than 1,200 tanks.

The great losses and lack of achievements are one of the reasons why Russia is in no hurry to hold a referendum in Kherson: the authorities are not sure they can keep the city under control and do not want to hold a referendum on the Kherson People’s Republic if it becomes invalid soon. The head of the Mykolaiv Military administration Vitaly Kim already declared that Russians won’t be able to capture Mykolaiv, and Ukraine in the near future will get back Kherson and is already preparing for counterattack. It is difficult to say to what extent these words may be true, but in mid-May Russian troops began to gradually retreat from Kharkiv.

Airstrike, missile and MRL damage

Kharkiv region:

  • Because of the shelling, a private house was on fire.
  • The village was shelled twice. 4 people were injured, including a 15-year-old teenager. As a result of the morning shelling, a fire broke out in the garages.
  • As a result of the shelling by Russian troops, 9 warehouses with a total area of ​​4k m² caught fire.
  • Residential multi-storey buildings were shelled, as a result of which 1 man died.
  • Russian troops shelled the territory of the community, residential areas and civilian infrastructure in Slatyne, Prudyanka, Ruska Lozova and Pytomnyk were significantly damaged and destroyed.
  • As a result of shelling by Russian troops, 2 people were injured, incl. 15 year old child.
  • As a result of shelling by Russian troops, 2 elderly men were badly injured, both are in critical condition.
  • There was shelling of the community without any casualties.
  • There was shelling of Svitlychne residential buildings in the Zolochiv community.
  • During the day, there were 3 fires in the region due to shelling.
  • According to the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the russian army shelled civilian infrastructure in the following villages: Dovhenke, Ruski Tyshky, Ternova, Petrivka, as well as Prudianka, Slatyne, Derhachi, Pytomnyk, Ruska Lozova, Tsyrkuny. In Chuhuiv district 2 people were wounded.
  • As a result of the shelling of Shevchenkivskyi and Saltivka district, 4 people were injured.

Sumy region:

  • The outskirts of the village were under attack from the Russian Federation territory, and private households were destroyed. Also, as a result of the shelling, the administrative building of the agricultural enterprise was significantly damaged. The blast wave and shrapnel shattered the windows of the local club and the public canteen buildings.
  • The territory of the community was shelled from the territory of the Russian Federation, 6 shells were fired.
  • […]

Zaporizhzhya region:

  • Russian troops shelled Preobrazhenka, Mala Tokmachka, Orikhiv, Olhivske, Poltavka, Malynivka, Mali Shcherbaky, Novoandriivka, Shcherbaky, Kamyanske, Huliaipilske, Zaliznychne, Polohy and Verkhnya Tersa. In Mala Tokmachka, an outbuilding of the Orekhovskaya correctional colony was damaged as a result of shelling. Gas pipelines were damaged in Polohy and Verkhnya Tersa. Outbuildings caught fire in Kamyanske.
  • Russian troops shelled the city throughout the day. As a result, residential buildings, garages and civil infrastructure were damaged, some houses were completely destroyed.
  • As a result of shelling by Russian troops, three departments of the hospital and the temple of the Moscow Patriarchate of the UOC were damaged, and a private household caught fire. The electrical networks of the Orikhiv regional branch were also damaged, due to which 1542 consumers were de-energized.
  • […]

Luhansk region:

  • Russian troops carried out 11 artillery attacks on Severodonetsk. There were hits at the Azot plant, technical school, high-rise buildings. 11 high-rise buildings in new and old parts of the city were destroyed, some of them caught fire. One of the production workshops caught fire at the Azot plant. In the evening, a hospital in Severodonetsk was also shelled. During the day, 9 residents were injured in Severodonetsk, 3 in Vrubivka, 1 woman in Novodruzhesk. Hirske and Popasna communities were also shelled. In Novodruzhesk, 2 houses were destroyed, 3 more – in Lysychansk, where an airstrike was carried out, 2 houses – in Rubizhne. It became known about 9 destroyed houses in Komyshuvakha, 4 – in Toshkivka, 5 – in Zolote, 2 – in Troitske. In Komyshuvakha there were also shells hitting the village council and the house of culture. There were a number of destructions in Verkhnokamyanka, Orikhove, Katerinivka.
  • […]

Mykolaiv region:

  • Russian troops carried out strikes on the suburban area and rural areas, and suburban infrastructure facilities were damaged. In the morning at 10:00 there was also an explosion in Mykolayiv.
  • […]

Donetsk region:

  • Avdiivka, Toretsk, Lyman, Ocheretyne, Drobysheve, Pivnichne, Keramik, Berestove, Bohorodychne, Novokalynove, as well as Novosilka and Vremivka were shelled by Russian troops. As a result, 36 civilian facilities were damaged: residential buildings, industrial enterprises, a traction power substation, and a medical facility. 2 civilians were killed in Bohorodychne and 1 more in Keramik. Another 4 people were injured.
  • Russian troops attacked the Azovstal plant, using prohibited incendiary shells with thermite layers. ~30 shells were fired simultaneously, as a result, fires broke out on the territory of the plant. At the same time, ~600 wounded continue to be in unsanitary conditions at Azovstal.
  • As a result of the shelling, the city left without electricity.
  • […]

Kherson region:

  • Russian troops shelled Novovorontsovka and Osokorivka, there is no electricity in the settlements of the community, its restoration is impossible due to hostilities.
  • […]

Chernihiv region:

  • The border settlement Bleshnya was fired twice from the territory of the Russian Federation, in total 8 explosions were recorded.
  • […]

Dnipropetrovsk region:

  • There was shelling of the border village, the windows in the houses were broken, power and gas supply were disrupted. Banned cluster munitions were used.
  • Russian troops shelled the territory of communities.
  • […]

Kirovohrad region:

  • A missile flying towards Kropyvnytskyi was shot down. In total, during the war, 8 missile attacks were carried out in the region.
  • […]

Lviv region: 

  • There was an air strike with 4 missiles on a military infrastructure facility in Yavorevskyi district. The blow was near the border with Poland. There were no reported casualties.
  • […]

New laws


  • [War] By Decree of the President of Ukraine No. 337/2022, Major General Tantsyura Igor Ivanovich was appointed to the post of Commander of the Territorial Defense Forces (TDF) of the Armed Forces of Ukraine instead of General Yuriy Galushkin (Decree No. 336/2022).

Galushkin took part in the international peacekeeping operation in Kosovo, served in the ATO in 2014-2015, since December 2019 he was the chief inspector of the Ministry of Defense, and in mid-2020 he was demoted to the deputy chief inspector of the Ministry of Defense. From January 2022, Galushkin was appointed as a commander of the TDF.


  • [Support of the economy] Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 873 “On licensing the export of raw lead, lead waste and scrap”, according to which from May 15 to November 15, 2022 inclusive, the export of lead waste, scrap, and raw lead requires a license from the Government.
  • [Other] The Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation, Mikhail Mishustin signed a decree, according to which the Government of the Russian Federation will finance the construction of transport and engineering infrastructure in certain areas of Chukotka.
  • […]

This was the free part of the military brief

Read the full text + all archives in the paid version.

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In a paid version:

  • Airstrike, missile and MLRS damage
  • Civilian casualties
  • Video of russian prisoners
  • New laws
  • Occupant’s casualties (est. from Ukrainian General Staff)
  • War crimes in a de-ocupied territories
  • Alternative loss estimates
  • Data archive.
  • Analytical charts: occupant losses, chart with known air raid alerts by region and known damage, diagram of known airstrike, missile and MRL damage and known child deaths, diagram of known damage for Ukrainian infrastructure, diagram of average duration of the air alerts in the regions.