Ukraine Daily Summary Friday, 27 May 2022

Russia deletes 38,000 messages calling for protests against the war in Ukraine -- US, Ukraine discuss risk of escalation amid weapons provisions -- Russia kidnaps men in Chechnya, forces them to fight -- Kremlin proxies in Donetsk, Luhansk oblasts plan to join Russia -- and more

Ukraine Daily

Friday, 27 May 2022

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Russia’s war against Ukraine


Ukrainian soldiers stationed in trenches near the city of Lyman, Donetsk Oblast on May 18, 2022. (Kostyantyn Chernichkin)

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Russia says it expects Ukraine to accept its demands, including claims on occupied territories. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on May 26 that the Russian-occupied territories are not territorial concessions. Ukraine has repeatedly stated that it will not give up any of its territories.

Reuters: US, Ukraine discuss risk of escalation amid weapons provisions. As western partners equip Ukraine with increasingly sophisticated, longer-range weapons, the U.S. spoke of the danger of escalation should Ukraine hit Russia’s interior, reports Reuters, citing unnamed U.S. and diplomatic officials. “We have concerns about escalation and yet still do not want to put geographic limits or tie their (Ukraine’s) hands too much with the stuff we’re giving them,” a U.S. official reportedly said.

Media: Russia deletes 38,000 messages calling for protests against the war in Ukraine. Head of Roskomnadzor Andrey Lipov said that the regulator has also removed “over 117,000 fakes” about the Russia’s war and military, as well as 1,177 posts in support of Ukraine with a total audience of over 202 million users, Russian media Meduza reports.

UK Defense Ministry: Russia’s airborne forces ‘heavily involved in several notable tactical failures in Ukraine.’ These failures include the attempted advance on Kyiv via Hostomel Airfield in March, the stalled progress on the Izium axis since April, and the recent failed and costly crossings of the Siversky Donets River. The misemployment of its elite airborne forces “highlights how Putin’s significant investment in the armed forces over the last 15 years has resulted in an unbalanced overall force,” according to the latest U.K. intelligence update.

Media: Russia kidnaps men in Chechnya, forces them to fight. RFE/RL’s Kavkaz Realii, citing human rights organizations and bloggers, said some Chechen men are having to choose between fighting with Russia or facing consequences.

World Bank President: Russia’s war in Ukraine could trigger global recession. David Malpass said on May 25 that Europe, China, and the U.S. are seeing slower growth. Meanwhile, shortfalls in fertilizer, food stocks, and energy supplies have hit developing countries.

Belarus to establish southern military command. Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko said that the separate command would control the southern border of the country, almost 1,100 kilometers. He said that Belarus needs another operational command, along with the already established western and north-western ones, because he claims the country is under threat from NATO troops stationed in Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia.

ISW: Russian forces in occupied regions of southern Ukraine preparing for long-term control. Russian forces focused on improving tactical positions and strengthening defensive lines in Ukraine’s occupied southern regions on May 26, as part of an effort to consolidate control and repel future Ukrainian counteroffensives, the Institute for the Study of War said in its latest assessment, citing Ukraine’s Operational Command “South.” Russian forces reportedly attempted to advance to the Mykolaiv-Kherson oblast borders and conducted unsuccessful assault operations around Tavriyske and Mykolaivka on May 26.

Russian media: Kremlin proxies in Donetsk, Luhansk oblasts plan to join Russia. In a comment to Russian state-controlled RIA Novosti, the leader of the Kremlin’s proxies in Donetsk Oblast, Denis Pushilin, said a so-called “referendum” to join Russia would be held in the territories if Russian forces manage to fully capture the two oblasts.

CNN: Russia has lost 1,000 tanks in Ukraine since Feb. Ukraine’s military has also destroyed over 350 artillery pieces, nearly 30 attack bombers, and more than 50 helicopters, a senior U.S. official told CNN. However, Russian forces still have military “superiority in terms of people, and equipment and weapons” over Ukraine.

Defense Intelligence: 16 helicopters provide Mariupol defenders with arms, supplies, additional soldiers. Kyrylo Budanov, chief of the Defense Ministry’s Intelligence Directorate, told The Drive media outlet that there have been seven missions during which Mi-8 helicopters have been providing Ukrainian soldiers defending the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol with “arms, ammunition, medicine, food, and 72 additional fighters from the Azov Regiment.” Those deliveries were successful, according to Budanov. However, two helicopters were shot down during the fifth and seventh missions, and the one coming to the rescue was also destroyed, Budanov said, as reported by The Drive.

Pentagon: Russia achieves only ‘incremental progress’ in Donbas despite major numerical advantage. In an update on May 26, the U.S. Defense Department said that 110 Russian battalion tactical groups have been deployed in Ukraine, but Russian forces have only made “small gains.” Overwhelming progress by Ukrainian forces, especially near Kharkiv, have reportedly offset Russian gains.

Economic advisor: Ukraine has sufficient grain reserves to meet domestic, global demand until end of year. President Volodymyr Zelensky’s economic advisor, Oleh Ustenko, said that grain reserves will meet demand until at least 2022, provided hostilities in the Black Sea are ended.

Read our exclusive, on the ground stories

Ukrainian football legend Andriy Shevchenko didn’t think twice when he learned that President Volodymyr Zelensky wanted him to become the first ambassador of UNITED24, a platform dedicated to collecting charitable funds in support of Ukraine. “I said yes because I knew I had to do something for my country,” Shevchenko told the Kyiv Independent. Read our story here.

The human cost of Russia’s war

Klitschko: Russian forces have killed 120 Kyiv residents, injured 300 since Feb. 24. Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said in Davos that 16 children have been hospitalized in critical condition in the Ukrainian capital since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion and four of them have died.

Ukraine’s military repels 12 Russian attacks in Donbas. Ukraine’s Operational Tactical Group “East” said Russian forces fired on almost 50 communities in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, resulting in nine civilians killed, 14 wounded, and 60 civilian infrastructure sites destroyed on May 26.

Prosecutor General’s Office: Russia’s war has killed 240 children, injured 436. The figures are expected to be higher since they do not include child casualties in the areas where hostilities are ongoing and in the temporarily Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine.

Ukraine’s Armed Forces: Russia has lost 29,600 troops in Ukraine since Feb. 24. The General Staff reported on May 26 that Russia had also lost 1,315 tanks, 3,235 armored vehicles, 2,225 vehicles and fuel tanks, 617 artillery pieces, 201 multiple launch rocket systems, 93 surface-to-air missiles, 170 helicopters, 206 airplanes, 502 drones, and 13 boats.

Russian forces shell residential buildings in Kharkiv Oblast, kill 9 people. According to Kharkiv Oblast Governor Oleh Synehubov, Russian troops shelled the Shevchenkivskyi, Kyivskyi, Pavlove Pole, Kharkivskyi, and Bohodukhivskyi neighborhoods, killing nine civilians and injuring 19 more, including a nine-year-old child and a five-month-old baby on May 26.

International response

US rejects Russia’s offer to unblock Ukrainian ports in exchange for lifting sanctions. U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price called Russia’s suggestion to unblock Ukrainian ports in exchange for lifting sanctions “empty promises.” “The quickest solution to rising raw material prices and rising food prices around the world is to end the Russians’ brutal war,” Price said.

CNN: US preparing to authorize long-range rocket systems for Ukraine. According to cited officials, the U.S. will provide Ukraine with long-range rocket systems, potentially as part of a larger military and humanitarian aid package to be announced as early as next week. Ukraine has repeatedly requested the provision of MLRS and HIMARS.

Reuters: Ankara negotiates with Moscow, Kyiv to open corridor for grain via Turkey. An undisclosed senior Turkish official told Reuters that negotiations are ongoing to circumvent obstacles to export grain from Ukraine. Russia is blocking over 20 million tons in Ukraine’s Black Sea port, using it to blackmail the West to lift sanctions, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said earlier.

Pentagon: US will not involve military to assist export of grains from Ukraine. Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said that, while Russia is weaponizing hunger by preventing the export of grain from Ukraine’s ports, the U.S. will not employ military resources to this end.

US Defense Department: Nearly 80% of howitzers US committed to Ukraine already in combat. A senior U.S. defense official said 85 of the 108 M777 howitzers the U.S. has committed over the last three military assistance packages to Ukraine are “with the Ukrainian military and providing long range fire capability,” according to a May 26 background briefing published on the State Department’s website.

In other news

Poll: 92% of Ukrainians have negative attitude towards Russia. According to a recent poll by the Kyiv International Sociology Institute, only 2% of surveyed Ukrainians hold a positive attitude towards Russia. In early February, weeks before the full-scale invasion, 34% of Ukrainians reportedly had a positive attitude towards Russia.

Lithuania’s Foreign Minister: Suggesting Ukraine cede territories to Russia sets dangerous precedent. Gabrielius Landsbergis said that such comments from Western politicians and experts is unacceptable, in that this may serve as a green light for other potential aggressors.

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Today’s Ukraine Daily was brought to you by Alexander Query, Daria Shulzhenko, Natalia Datskevych, Olga Rudenko, Toma Istomina, Oleksiy Sorokin, Teah Pelechaty, Lili Bivings, and Sergiy Slipchenko.

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