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Russo-Ukraine War - 21 May 2023 - Day 452

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A number of claims and counterclaims are being made on the Ukraine-Russia conflict on the ground and online. While GlobalSecurity.org takes utmost care to accurately report this news story, we cannot independently verify the authenticity of all statements, photos and videos.

On 24 February 2022, Ukraine was suddenly and deliberately attacked by land, naval and air forces of Russia, igniting the largest European war since the Great Patriotic War. Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a "special military operation" (SVO - spetsialnaya voennaya operatsiya) in Ukraine in response to the appeal of the leaders of the "Donbass republics" for help. That attack is a blatant violation of the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine. Putin stressed that Moscow's goal is the demilitarization and denazification of the country. The military buildup in preceeding months makes it obvious that the unprovoked and dastardly Russian attack was deliberately planned long in advance. During the intervening time, the Russian government had deliberately sought to deceive the world by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

"To initiate a war of aggression... is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." [Judgment of the International Military Tribunal]

The UK Ministry of Defence reported that since early May 2023, Russia has restarted frequent long-range missile strikes deep into Ukraine. They are likely primarily aimed at degrading Ukrainian air defences.

Innovating on earlier waves of deep strikes, Russia has started more frequently integrating unarmed, surveillance uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) into operations. These have included Russian-produced SuperCam UAVs which are relatively cheap and have sufficient range to fly over the cruise missiles' targets.

Russia has highly likely adopted this tactic in an attempt to obtain more timely battle damage assessment and improve its targeting cycle. The Russian military's slow and inefficient targeting process has been a major weakness in its performance in Ukraine. However, slow surveillance UAVs are highly vulnerable to Ukrainian air defences.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported that during the day of May 21st, Russian forces launched 4x missile and 45x air strikes, and conducted more than 30x MLRS attacks. Private houses and other civilian infrastructure were destroyed or damaged. The missile strikes on Ukrainian cities of Lyman, Slov'yansk and Kostiantynivk involved several S-300 SAMs that aren't high-precision systems, thus Russia once again proves to be using terror tactics against Ukraine.

The threat of further missile and air strikes remains high across Ukraine.

Russia continues to concentrate its main efforts on Kup'yans'k, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Mar'inka axes. During the day, 24x firefights took place on the specified axes. Bakhmut and Mar'inka remain at the epicenter of hostilities.
Volyn' and Polissya axes: the operational situation has not changed significantly.
Sivershchyna and Slobozhanshchyna axes: Russia continues to maintain enhanced military presence in the areas bordering Ukraine; Russian sabotage and intelligence groups were reported to operate in several regions of Ukraine bordering russia.
During the last day, Ukrainian settlements of Progress, Studenok and Mykhailivka (Sumy oblast); Udy, Graniv, Zelene, Starytsya, Ohirtseve, Hatyshche, Pletenivka, Vovchans'k, Nesterne, and Budarky (Kharkiv oblast) were subjects to cross-border mortar and artillery fire.
Kup'yans'k axis: Russian forces made attempts to improve tactical situation. During the day, the Russian occupiers conducted unsuccessful offensive operations in the vicinities of Masyutivka. Kam'yanka, Kolodyazne, Krasne Pershe, Petro-Ivanivka, Figolivka, Novomlyns'k, Zapadne, Monachynivka, Masyutivka, Tabaivka, and Berestov (Kharkiv oblast); Stelmakhivka (Luhansk oblast) were hit by Russian artillery and mortar fire.
Lyman axis: during the day, Russian forces made unsuccessful attempts to advance towards Ivano-Dariivka. The vicinities of Nevs'ke suffered several air strikes. Russian artillery bombarded several Ukrainian settlements along the contact line, including Makiivka, Nevs'ke, and Biloghorivka (Luhansk oblast); as well as Tors'ke, Verkhn'okam'ians'ke, and Spirne (Donetsk oblast).
Bakhmut axis: Russian forces continue to conduct offensive operations. Battle for Bakhmut continues. Russian troops made unsuccessful attempts to re-capture lost positions south of Ivanovs'ke. In addition, the Russian occupiers led unsuccessful offensive on Hryhorivka. Ukrainian defenders repelled all attacks.
Air strikes took place in the vicinities of Bakhmut and Ivanovs'ke. Orikhovo-Vasylivka, Markove, Bakhmut, Ivanovs'ke, Bila Hora, and New York (Donetsk oblast) came under Russian fire.
Avdiivka axis: Russian occupiers carried out unsuccessful offensive operations on Avdiivka and Pervomais'ke axes. They carried out an air strike in the vicinities of Avdiivka; The vicinities of Novokalynove, Berdychi, Stepove, Avdiivka, Sjeverne, Pervomais'ke, Karlivka, and Nevelske (Donetsk oblast) were subjects to artillery fire.
Mar'inka axis: Ukrainian Defense Forces repelled numerous Russian attacks in the vicinities of Mar'inka. The adversary carried out air strikes near Mar'inka and Novomykhailivka. Heorgiyivka, Pobieda and Novomykhailivka (Donetsk oblast) came under fire.
Shakhtars'k axis: Russian forces did not conduct offensive operations. At the same time, Russian occupeirs carried out air strikes in the vicinities of Vodyane, Vuhledar, Prechistivka, Zolota Nyva, and Velyka Novosilka.
Vodyane and Vuhledar suffered from artillery and mortar fire.
Zaporizhzhia and Kherson axes: Russian forces stayed on the defensive. At the same time, they continue to destroy Ukrainian settlements along the contact line, including: Vremivka, Burlats'k, Novosilka, and Zelene Pole (Donetsk oblast); Ol'hivs'ke, Hulyaipole, Zaliznychne, Biloghir'ya, Mala Tokmachka, Mali Shcherbaky, and Kam'ians'ke (Zaporizhzhia oblast); Tyaginka (Kherson oblast), and the city of Kherson. Stanislav (Kherson oblast) suffered from air strikes.

Russia makes efforts to limit access of the civilian population on the temporarily occupied territories of Kherson oblast to mobile communications. The Russian occupiers dismantle substations, as well as relay towers. In addition, they limit movement of local residents to areas with a stable cellular connection.

Ukrainian Air Force carried out 12x air strikes on concentrations of Russian troops and military equipment, as well as 4x strikes on anti-aircraft missile systems. 3x Russian reconnaissance UAVs of various types were intercepted during the day. Ukrainian missile and artillery units attacked 1x concentration of Russian weapons and military equipment, 2x ammunition depots, 2x artillery systems at firing positions and another important Russian target.

The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation reported that in Kupyansk direction, aviation, artillery, and troops of the Zapad Group of Forces have engaged the units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) close to Molchanovo, Zagoruikovka, and Tabayevka (Kharkov region).

In addition, actions of five sabotage and reconnaissance groups of the Armed Forces of Ukraine were thwarted near Sinkovka, Timkovka, Pershotravnevoye (Kharkov region), and Stelmakhovka (Lugansk People's Republic).

Up to 85 Ukrainian troops, two armoured fighting vehicles, two motor vehicles, one Akatsiya self-propelled artillery unit have been eliminated in this direction during the day.

In Krasny Liman direction, Operational-Tactical and Army aviation and artillery of the Tsentr Group of Forces engaged the units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine close to Nevskoye, Chervonopopovka (Lugansk People's Republic), Yampolovka and Serebryanka (Donetsk People's Republic).

Actions of two sabotage and reconnaissance groups of the Armed Forces of Ukraine have been thwarted near Chervonaya Dibrova (Lugansk People's Republic) and Grigorovka (Donetsk People's Republic).

The enemy has suffered losses of over 60 Ukrainian troops, three armoured fighting vehicles, two motor vehicles, one Gvozdika self-propelled howitzer, and one D-20 howitzer in this direction in the past 24 hours.

In addition, an ammunition depot of the Ukrainian Armed Forces was destroyed near Novoyegrovka (Lugansk People's Republic).

Artyomovsk has been completely liberated as a result of offensive actions by Wagner assault detachments supported by artillery and aviation of the Yug Group of Forces.

The Russian aviation have made six sorties in this area during the day. The Group's artillery have performed 69 firing missions.

Aviation and artillery of the Yug Group of Forces have foiled enemy's attempts to counter-attack from the areas of Konstantinovka, Bogdanovka, and Krasnoye (Donetsk People's Republic).

Moreover, a road bridge used by the Ukrainian troops to deliver reinforcements to Artyomovsk and an ammunition depot of the 60th Mechanised Brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces have been neutralised close to Krasnoye.

Up to 100 Ukrainian troops and mercenaries, one tank, one infantry fighting vehicle, five pick-up trucks, one Polish-made Krab artillery system, and one Gvozdika self-propelled artillery unit have been eliminated in this direction during the day.

In addition, a US-made AN/TPQ-50 counterbattery radar station was destroyed near Kalinina (Donetsk People's Republic).

In Donetsk direction, artillery, aviation, and troops the Yug Group of Forces eliminated more than 120 Ukrainian troops, one tank, two infantry fighting vehicles, one U.S.-made M777 artillery system, one U.S.-made M109 self-propelled artillery system, andD-20 and D-30 howitzers.

An ammunition depot of the 67th Mechanised Brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces has been hit close to Kramatorsk (Donetsk People's Republic).

In South Donetsk and Zaporozhye directions, units of the Vostok Group of Forces inflicted fire damage on the enemy in the areas of Ugledar (Donetsk People's Republic), Novodanilovka, Chervonoye, Novodarovka, and Nesteryanka (Zaporozhye region).

Three sabotage and reconnaissance groups were also disabled close to Sladkoye, Vladimirovka (Donetsk People's Republic), and Levadnoye (Zaporozhye region).

The enemy's losses in this direction during the day amounted to up to 50 Ukrainian troops, one infantry fighting vehicle, two motor vehicles, one U.S.-made M777 artillery system, and one Msta-B howitzer.

An ammunition depot of the 102nd Territorial Defence Brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces has been obliterated close to Gulyapole (Zaporozhye region).

In Kherson direction, up to 15 Ukrainian troops, six motor vehicles, and one Akatsiya self-propelled howitzer have been destroyed over the past 24 hours.

An ammunition depot of the 123th Territorial Defence Brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces has been obliterated close to Stanislav (Kherson region).

Operational-Tactical and Army aviation, and artillery of the Russian Group of Forces have engaged 103 AFU artillery units, manpower and hardware in 134 areas during the day.

A Ukrainian S-300 surface-to-air missile system has been obliterated near Zheltoye (Donetsk People's Republic).

The command post of the 102nd Territorial Defence Brigade has been hit near Poltavka (Zaporozhye region).

Air defence forces have intercepted fifteen HIMARS, Uragan MLRS projectiles, and Storm Shadow long-range cruise missiles during the day.

In addition, nine Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles were obliterated in the areas of Lozovoye, Terny, Vodyanoye, Novoandreyevka (Donetsk People's Republic), Chervonaya Dibrova (Lugansk People's Republic), and Energodar (Zaporozhye region).

In total, 428 airplanes and 234 helicopters, 4,245 unmanned aerial vehicles, 424 anti-aircraft missile systems, 9,251 tanks and other armoured fighting vehicles, 1,100 combat vehicles equipped with multiple rocket-launching systems, 4,871 field artillery cannons and mortars, as well as 10,365 units of special military hardware have been destroyed during the special military operation.

6 months after street battles began, Russian forces have occupied the city, taking the last Ukrainian stronghold in the west. Ukrainian troops may still hold some buildings in the very southwest as the last of their troops withdraw.

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