In today's summary:
- Yevgeny Prigozhin said that he had begun the withdrawal of Wagner PMC units from Bakhmut, but would leave two fighters in the city: Bieber and Dolik;
- According to Alexander Lukashenko, the process of moving Russian tactical nuclear weapons to the territory of Belarus has begun;
- A mass raid by kamikaze drones on Ukraine, all launched Shahedas were intercepted;
- The Russian ship Ivan Khurs appears to have been hit by one of the naval drones after all;
- The exchange of prisoners of war organized by Wagner PMC: 106 people and the bodies of three killed were handed over to the Ukrainians;
- Sweden will allow Ukrainian pilots to undergo basic training on JAS 39 Gripen fighters;
- Another lost FAB-500 bomb was found in the Belgorod region;
- A remarkable video of the Challenger 2 tank handed over to the Armed Forces of Ukraine crossing a line of "concrete pyramids".
The situation at the front
The press service of one of the founders and chief public representative of PMC Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, reports the withdrawal of mercenaries from Bakhmut . “We are leaving for the rear areas <...> We will gather everything before June 1, hand it over to the military,” says Prigozhin in a video posted on the Telegram channel.
According to Prigozhin, units of the RF Ministry of Defense (MO RF) will be given "ammunition, positions, everything, including dry rations." “But if it will be difficult for the military, of course, we will leave those who had the main role in the capture of Bakhmut ,” he says and calls two fighters with call signs Bieber and Dolik.
Unlike the rest of the "Wagnerites" in the video, these fighters are shown with open faces. It is possible that they were recruited from among the prisoners or have some other not entirely “full-fledged status”, respectively, Prigozhin’s statement can be considered as another attack not only towards the Ministry of Defense, but also a humiliation for all the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.
The well-known in the Z-environment Telegram channel "Romanov Light" reports that in Bakhmut 30 former prisoners deserted from positions with weapons, apparently recruited into units under the auspices of the RF Ministry of Defense. Allegedly, they killed three servicemen and two civilians, and also stole a KamAZ and a Mitsubishi L200. Previously, the BBC Russian Service spoke in detail about the recruitment of prisoners into the Storm squads.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Anna Malyar continues to insist that Ukrainian forces are holding part of the area in the southwestern part of Bakhmut .
A report from Bakhmut has been published on the Telegram channel of the so-called "People's Militia of the DPR". The footage shows a completely destroyed city.
The Russian state agency RIA Novosti publishes footage of the Bakhmut flyby, taken with a copter. They also show significant damage.
The heads of the defense departments of Russia and Belarus, Sergei Shoigu and Viktor Khrenin, signed documents defining the conditions for keeping Russian non-strategic nuclear weapons in a special storage facility on the territory of Belarus .
“Russia does not transfer nuclear weapons to the Republic of Belarus: control over them and the decision on their use remains with the Russian side,” Shoigu said during the meeting.
Pavel Podvig, a research fellow at the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Studies, told The Insider that the signing of a treaty on the deployment of Russian nuclear weapons in Belarus looks like a purely political step:
“It cannot be ruled out that everything will be limited to this and the real transfer of charges to the territory of Belarus may not occur. There are many reasons for this, including the resistance of the 12th Main Directorate of the Ministry of Defense, where responsible and conservative people <work - The Insider>. I hope for bureaucratic and institutional resistance to the movement of warheads, because <then - The Insider> troops need to be moved and so on. This is a complex and long process. I hope that everything will be limited to a political statement and that there will be nothing more than this.”
The expert noted that it is not yet known where the storage facility will be created, although Russian President Vladimir Putinsaid that it would be built by July 1:
“In my opinion, it is difficult to create a full-fledged nuclear weapons storage facility from scratch, which will be provided with all the necessary security and maintenance systems, by July. Probably, they will simply choose some object that is already under control and declare that there is a possibility of deploying nuclear weapons. The weapon itself may not appear there, but there will simply be a storage facility with the possibility of placing it, and if a decision is made, the charges will be transported there.”
From a practical and military point of view, according to Pavel Podvig, this does not change anything, since there is no significant difference from which territory the carrier aircraft will take off or launch, from Russia or from Belarus .
In March 2023, Mariana Budzherin, senior researcher at the Belfer Center’s atom control project, in an interview with The Insider, drew attention to the fact that the Kremlin’s decision to deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus is a continuation of the West’s nuclear deterrent tactics.
Alexander Lukashenko himself says that the transfer of Russian nuclear weapons to Belarus has already begun.
Advisor to the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Mykhailo Podolyak said in an interview with the Italian RAI TV channel that the repeatedly announced counter-offensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has already begun and has been going on for several days. It should be noted that he already made approximately the same statement in terms of meaning a week and a half ago in an interview with the German Bild.
For our part, we note that so far there are no signs of really large-scale offensive actions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine or the use of recently received Western military equipment anywhere on the line of contact.
Mutual shelling and sabotage
The command of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reports that on the night of May 25, 36 kamikaze drones of the Shahed family (aka Geran) launched from Russia were intercepted. The drones were launched from both the north and the south, and their targets were likely in the western regions of Ukraine.
Polish military analyst Konrad Muzyka cites summary data from the reports of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on the interception of kamikaze drones of the Shahed family in Ukraine. According to these data, the latest raid was the third in terms of the number of UAVs involved in the entire time of Shaheed strikes and the most powerful since the end of January.
In different regions of Crimea, six UAVs were planted by means of electronic warfare and shot down by air defense forces. As the head of the region, appointed by the Russian Federation, Sergey Aksenov, writes in the Telegram channel, there are no victims or injured.
According to the Rybar Telegram channel affiliated with the Russian Defense Ministry, seven Mugin-5 drones were launched from the Shkolny airfield near Odessa in the direction of the peninsula. According to these data, air defense and electronic warfare destroyed five drones and landed two Mugin-5 UAVs. One of the UAVs fell on a warehouse north of Dzhankoy , which caused a small fire. Initially, 15-16 drones were reported, but this information was not confirmed.
The drones, as Rybar notes , could move in the direction of Dzhankoy or in the direction of the airfield south of Slavny . Also, one UAV was shot down near Maslovo , it could be heading to the railway line, or to military warehouses in the southeast. In the south, one drone was destroyed near the village of Zavetnoye . His target was most likely a water pumping station.
Drones also attacked Sevastopol. “In the Kacha area, the forces of the Black Sea Fleet shot down 2 UAVs from small arms, several more UAVs were jammed and planted by electronic warfare. No objects in the city were damaged,” wrote the “governor” of the city, Mikhail Razvozhaev.
A video appeared showing an attack by Ukrainian unmanned kamikaze boats on a Project 18280 medium reconnaissance ship Ivan Khurs. Apparently, contrary to the statements of the Russian Defense Ministry, one of the naval drones still hit the ship.
Ukrainian resources published a video from the camera of one of the drones that attacked the Russian ship. The footage shows how the boat reached the side of the Ivan Khurs. After that, the recording breaks off, which is typical for filming from any kamikaze drones, both air and sea.
Recall that the video published earlier by the Russian Ministry of Defense shows the defeat of one of the three declared devices. What happened to the third one (or whether there was one at all) remains unknown.
The Rybar Telegram channel claims that there is no information about any serious damage, the ship is afloat, and the Ukrainian drone, crashing into the side, did not work or was destroyed later.
Other sources also report minor damage to the ship. In turn, the former field commander of the separatist forces in the Donbass , Igor Girkin (aka Strelkov / Runov) , writes with reference to “unverified, but still data” that the Ivan Khurs is undergoing repairs under its own power.
The FSB of the Russian Federation announced the prevention of sabotage, which was allegedly planned for May 9 at the Leningrad and Kalinin nuclear power plants. According to a press release from the department, the SBU sabotage group tried to blow up more than 30 high-voltage power transmission towers at nuclear power plants. According to the law enforcement agency, "the terrorists managed to blow up one and mine four pillars of the power transmission line of the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant and lay IEDs under seven pillars of the Kalinin Nuclear Power Plant ."
It is reported that four people were detained: these are citizens of Ukraine Oleksandr Maystruk and Eduard Usatenko, as well as two Russians who helped them, whose names were not released. In addition, Yuriy Kishchak, who has citizenship of Ukraine and the Russian Federation, has been put on the wanted list. According to the FSB, he is in Belgium.
It is alleged that Maistruk, Usatenko and Kischak were recruited by the SBU officer, Lieutenant Colonel Vitaliy Gorbatyuk, in September last year, after which they were trained in training camps in the Kiev and Mykolaiv regions . They allegedly got to Russia through the border with Belarus , penetrating into the Pskov region.
Russian sources report shelling Gorlovka with MLRS and mortars. Seven people were injured, including two children.
New information has emerged about the organization of the drone attack on the Kremlin. As US intelligence suggests, Ukraine may be behind the attack on the night of May 3. CNN and The New York Times write about this, citing sources familiar with intelligence. However, the US has not yet been able to reach a definitive conclusion as to who was responsible for the attack, and only assumes with a low degree of certainty that the Ukrainian group was involved in the incident.
According to analyst Rob Lee, the losses of PMC Wagner, declared by Prigozhin, are most likely overestimated, since in a conflict with the Russian Ministry of Defense it is beneficial for him to exaggerate these data. Based on Mediazona's calculations , Lee agrees with the opinion of Radio Liberty journalist Mark Krutov that the real losses of prisoners and mercenaries are more likely not 20,000 people, but about 16,000.
In Ukraine, they reported the return of 106 prisoners who fell into the hands of the Russians in the Bakhmut direction. The information appeared in the Telegram channel of the head of the Zelensky Office, Andriy Yermak. According to him, among those who are being returned, many were listed as missing. In addition, the bodies of three dead have been returned .
The press service of Yevgeny Prigozhin confirmed that the exchange was carried out between the Ukrainian side and PMC Wagner. According to the published commentary and video , the bodies of the killed citizens of the United States and Turkey were transferred.
The prisoners returned by Ukraine were from the 2nd Army Corps of the RF Armed Forces, the 9th Motorized Rifle Division, the 155th Marine Brigade of the Pacific Fleet and the Akhmat Brigade.
On the eve of The Insider reported on the suspicions of independent researchers about the authenticity of a photo with military equipment destroyed in the Belgorod region . The raid participants themselves explain to Novaya Gazeta. Europe” that “the jeeps fell into the trenches at the checkpoint. Heavy equipment could not stand the flimsy log walkways.
The raid participant also said that at the border crossing point there were “concrete long-term firing points connected by trenches and four or five armored personnel carriers with 30-mm cannons and heavy machine guns,” two of which were brought in and taken away as trophies. He claims that about 10 cars and armored vehicles reached the border because of the slush, there were about 150 participants in the raid. According to him, at some point, the Russian military began shelling with artillery not only the outskirts where the DRG members were located, but also the buildings that were supposed to be captured by them - the FSB department, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the administration.
Information appeared in the Ukrainian media that a Russian Su-25 was shot down near Melitopol , which made an emergency landing. The Z-channels also confirmed the information. According to Ukrainian sources, MANPADS were used, the pilot managed to eject. Ukrainian sources also report that another Su-25 was completely destroyed, but there is no confirmation of this information. Impressive footage of smoke has also been published, reportedly from the side of the airfield.
The Wall Street Journal published an article about the losses of Ukrainian mobilized in Bakhmut. The text tells about 36 hours during which Russian troops stormed one of the apartment buildings. He was defended by a group of 16 mobilized, many of whom had been called up a few days earlier and received no training. As a result, 11 of them were killed or captured.
Armaments and military equipment
According to Foreign Policy, the first 20 Ukrainian pilots will go to the UK for a training course to fly F-16 fighter jets. “This will be ground basic training for Ukrainian pilots who will then be ready for more specific F-16 training,” a British government spokesman said.
Norway will also take part in the training of pilots, but has not yet decided whether the planes themselves will be transferred. This was stated by the Minister of Defense of the country, Bjorn Arild Gram. The Netherlands were the first to express their readiness to transfer them.
In addition, Sweden is going to start training Ukrainian pilots on Saab JAS 39 Gripen fighters. According to analysts, such aircraft will suit the Ukrainian army even more than the American F-16s, since they are cheaper and easier to master, writes The Economist (although it is worth noting that their number is very limited).
Swedish Defense Minister Paul Jonson also noted that six squadrons of JAS 39 Gripen, which are in service with the Swedish Defense Forces, are needed for their own defense needs, so for now Ukraine is unlikely to receive at least one aircraft.
The United States on Wednesday approved a $285 million sale of the NASAMS air defense system and related equipment to Ukraine as Kiev seeks to beef up defenses against Russian strikes. “A possible sale will serve the goals and interests of the United States in the field of national security <...> and will not adversely affect the defense capability of the United States,” the US Defense Cooperation Agency said.
The Wall Street Journal article claims that the Republic of Korea is secretly transferring hundreds of thousands of artillery ammunition to Ukraine for the upcoming counteroffensive. The move would also allow the White House to delay a difficult decision on the supply of cluster munitions, US officials said.
Japan donated 100 trucks and SUVs to Ukraine. Vice Minister of Defense of Japan Toshiro Ino handed over to Ambassador of Ukraine Serhiy Korsunsky a document listing three types of vehicles included in the transfer. The list includes: a transport vehicle, an off-road passenger car, a truck.
In the Belgorod region in the village of Kalinino, an unexploded FAB-500 bomb was found . Air-dropped Soviet bombs such as the FAB-500 are increasingly being used by Russia, according to The New York Times. The reason is that Ukrainian air defense is increasingly effective in shooting down Russian missiles and drones.
This is the fourth aerial bomb discovered in the Belgorod region over the past month. At the end of April there was a loss of ammunition from a Su-34 fighter flying over Belgorod . As a result, two FAB-500s fell on the city, one of which exploded. A third bomb, unexploded, was found on May 4 near the village of Golovchino .
In social networks, a video with a Challenger 2 tank handed over to the Armed Forces of Ukraine to overcome concrete barriers and engineering obstacles diverges.
About the main events of the war on May 23 - in the previous report: “The return of General Lapin, they are looking for civilians in Bakhmut. What is happening on the front line.