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Drones attack Moscow and Kyiv, troop rotation in Bakhmut, US considers sending ATACMS to Ukraine. What happened on the front line on May 30?

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In today's summary:

  • Troop rotations are seemingly underway in Bakhmut, with the Wagner Group being replaced by Russian army paratroopers and motorized riflemen;
  • The AFU is said to be engaging in “shaping operations” as reported by the Financial Times, signaling an imminent full-scale offensive;
  • Drones attacked Moscow and Kyiv, the capitals of Russia and Ukraine, within a single day;
  • Yevgeny Prigozhin has discovered a fresh reason to criticize the Russian Ministry of Defense;
  • Putin discussed a strike on the Ukrainian military intelligence headquarters building during his speech;
  • The shelling of border areas in the Belgorod region persists, resulting in casualties and injuries;
  • The UK is prepared to provide training for Ukrainian pilots on Eurofighter jets;
  • US President Joe Biden is currently contemplating the possibility of supplying Ukraine with long-range ATACMS missiles, a decision he had not previously publicly admitted.

The front line

According to Hanna Maliar, Ukraine's Deputy Defense Minister, the recent Russian offensive actions in various directions within the past 24 hours have proven to be unsuccessful. Specifically, she mentions the Lyman, Avdiivka, Shakhtarske, and Kupiansk directions.

It has been reported that Russian forces are not engaged in offensive operations in the Bakhmut direction. Malyar emphasizes that the Ukrainian military maintains control over the southwestern outskirts of Bakhmut, and the advancement of the AFU on the flanks in the area has halted in order to focus on other military objectives.

Simultaneously, Oleksandr Syrskyi, the commander of the Ukrainian Ground Forces, presented a video depicting the AFU’s 3rd Assault Brigade operating on the outskirts of Bakhmut. In the video, the Ukrainian military can be seen clearing a captured Russian position, while Syrskyi announced that “our defense forces are persistently advancing and successfully neutralizing the enemy.”

Sergei Cherevaty, a spokesperson for the Eastern Group of Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU), says that Russian motorized riflemen and paratroopers are being deployed into Bakhmut. Furthermore, photos have appeared depicting Russian servicemen taking the place of Wagner PMC mercenaries in the “Artemivsk <Bakhmut – The Insider> direction.”

Earlier, Ukraine's President Volodymir Zelensky announced that the timeframe for the counteroffensive had been approved, and all the relevant orders had been issued.

According to the Financial Times report, the Ukrainian military has initiated “shaping operations” with the objective of weakening the defenses of the Russian Armed Forces prior to launching an offensive. The report cites retired U.S. Army Major John Spencer from the Institute of Modern Warfare at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. According to Spencer, these actions compel Russia to spread its resources thin. This encompasses both information operations and military maneuvers, including the infiltration of sabotage groups across the border in the Belgorod region and drone strikes targeting the Kremlin. The ultimate goal of these operations is to divert the enemy's attention away from the intended direction of the forthcoming offensive.

Shelling and sabotage

According to the Air Force command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU), during the night of May 30, between 23:30 and 4:30, the air defense forces successfully intercepted and brought down 29 out of 31 Shahed drones (also known as Geran). These drones were detected while approaching Kyiv and within the airspace of the capital. The launches of these drones originated from both the northern and southern directions.

According to the Kyiv City Military Administration, there have been reports of injuries and damages caused by falling drone debris in various districts of the capital. Nine individuals sustained injuries, and a 33-year-old woman suffered injuries that were fatal. Except for one person, all the injured persons are from the Holosiivskyi district, where drone debris fell onto an apartment building. Additionally, four persons were injured in the Kyiv region. Furthermore, a total of 16 objects, including civilian vehicles, buildings, and residential structures, were damaged in the incident.

As stated by the Russian Defense Ministry, a series of strikes were conducted within a 24-hour period on “decision-making centers” where terrorist activities within Russia were allegedly being planned under the supervision of specialists from Western intelligence services. Dmitry Peskov, the spokesperson for Russian President Vladimir Putin, also confirmed the strike on “one of the decision-making centers.” According to Peskov, this strike occurred on May 28.

According to Strana.ua, a Ukrainian publication, there is speculation about a potential strike on Rybalsky Island in Kyiv. Rybalsky Island is home to the headquarters of the Ukrainian military intelligence service (HUR, Holovne Upravlinnya Rozvidky or Main Intelligence Directorate of the Defense Ministry of Ukraine) and the Kuznya shipyard. However, it is important to note that there is currently no confirmation regarding this matter.

Subsequently, Russian President Vladimir Putin personally announced a strike of the HUR’s headquarters two to three days prior. He asserted that the drone attack on Moscow, which he described as significant, was a retaliatory response to the purported hit on the HUR headquarters by Russian forces.

Military expert Alexander Kovalenko commented on Putin's statement for The Insider:

“Over time, Russian propagandists have consistently advocated for strikes on what they label as “decision-making centers.” It is noteworthy that it is only now that the Russian command has mustered the courage to openly discuss the possibility of targeting the headquarters of the HUR.
The fact is that during the extensive missile strikes on February 24, 2022, it would be logical to expect that facilities such as the HUR, the General Staff, the SBU <Security Service of Ukraine - the Insider>, the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine, and other relevant locations should have been among the primary targets in order to disrupt the command and control systems of these power structures. However, these specific targets were not struck.
The reason for this can be difficult to explain. However, it is not uncommon in the context of warfare for certain objects to be spared from direct strikes. Regarding the recent statement, there has been no official confirmation of a strike on the mentioned facility. Nonetheless, there remains a question of providing convincing evidence to deny the occurrence of such a strike.”

Kovalenko highlights the fact that Russian propagandists and officials frequently disseminate unverified information.

“We have previously witnessed an intriguing precedent involving <Ukraine’s Commander-in-Chief> Valery Zaluzhny. Russian propaganda circulated reports for a period of 2-3 weeks suggesting that he had been either killed, mortally wounded, or had suffered severe injuries such as losing his limbs and sustaining a nearly fatal skull fracture, rendering him incapacitated. However, this narrative was disproven when Zaluzhny unexpectedly appeared at the ceremony for the handover of another Gyurza-type gunboat to the Ukrainian Navy, actively participating in the event.
Indeed, the same applies to the HUR. In this modern era, with extensive satellite coverage, it should not be difficult to gather evidence to disprove the occurrence of a strike. It shouldn't even require a special photoshoot <to debunk the claim of the strike – The Insider>. Overall, I share the sentiment that Russian propaganda will likely continue to spread various tales about the supposed successes of their missile strikes in the coming days.”

Seemingly unable to locate Zaluzhny and unconvinced by the existing evidence of his well-being, the Investigative Committee of Russia has included him in the search database of the Interior Ministry. Additionally, law enforcement authorities are also searching for the commander of the Ukrainian Armed Forces' Ground Forces, Oleksandr Syrskyi.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed that another US-made Patriot air defense system in Kyiv had been neutralized. However, Yuriy Ihnat, the spokesman of the Ukrainian Air Force, denied this information, stating that the system was, in fact, undamaged. This assertion was supported by the successful destruction of all airborne targets over the Ukrainian capital.

Simultaneously, Ukraine experienced widespread blackouts due to an automatic trigger, as reported by Ukrainian energy company DTEK. These blackouts were caused by a drop in frequency within the unified energy system of Ukraine. The power outages commenced at 1:28 p.m., but normal power supply was restored approximately one hour later.

According to multiple reports, there were between eight and over 30 drones that launched an attack on Moscow and the surrounding region. As reported by Baza, a significant number of these drones were successfully intercepted by air defense systems. However, some drones flew at very low altitudes and ended up getting entangled in trees or power lines. At least three drones crashed into residential buildings on Profsoyuznaya Street, Leninsky Prospekt, and Atlasova Street in Greater Moscow. Although one of the drones was reportedly carrying explosives, there was no detonation.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin reported minor damage to buildings. According to his data, two people sought medical help, but hospitalization was not required for anyone.

The Russian Defense Ministry officially acknowledged the attack, confirming the involvement of eight drones. According to the ministry, all the enemy drones were successfully neutralized either through electronic warfare measures or by using Pantsir missile systems. They classified the incident as a “terrorist attack.” However, the same report suggests that the drones that hit residential buildings did so unintentionally, as they had “deviated from their intended targets” due to the impact of electronic warfare.

Based on the footage captured during the attack, it is evident that Pantsir surface-to-air missile systems were indeed utilized to counter the drones. The presence of this and other air defense systems within Moscow had been previously observed earlier this year.

Additionally, it is mentioned that one of the drones fell near the village of Ilyinskoe, which is situated across the river from the elite village of Zhukovka. The latter is known to be home to numerous members of the Russian elite, including the Rotenberg brothers, who are close associates of Putin.

The Telegram channel Rybar, which is linked to the Russian Ministry of Defense, provides an overview of the drone attack on Moscow. According to the channel's authors, if the objective of the attack was to instill anxiety among the residents of Moscow, it was achieved merely by the presence of drones in the city's airspace. The channel attributes the drones' collisions with residential buildings to either navigation system malfunctions or the influence of electronic warfare systems.

Rybar further implies that the drones were launched from regions near the Ukrainian border. Allegedly, the Russian command possesses information regarding the production origins of these drones, but the retaliation has been “more of a selective character”.

According to the Ukraine Weapons Tracker project, which specializes in identifying Ukrainian weaponry, the attack on Moscow involved at least two distinct models of Ukrainian drones. Among them, one model stands out for its capability to cover a distance of 600-1000 km while carrying a payload of 1.8 kilograms of TNT, along with supplementary destructive components. It is worth noting that this particular explosive charge cannot inflict substantial damage to the robust structures of civilian buildings, as its design primarily targets highly flammable storage facilities. The appearance of such drones was initially observed in the Tula region in March this year.

Seizing the opportunity presented by the drone attack in Moscow, Yevgeny Prigozhin, one of the founders and primary public spokesperson for the Wagner PMC, took the chance to launch another PR campaign. In doing so, he once again directed criticism towards the leadership of the Russian Defense Ministry:

“Regarding the drones flying over Moscow, what the hell are you doing, you worthless bastards? You're a bunch of scumbags! Get off your lazy asses and do something to protect this country. You're supposed to be the Ministry of Defense, but you haven't done shit to step up. Why the f*ck did you let those damn drones fly into Moscow?
I don't give a flying f*ck if they're heading towards Rublevka, where your fancy houses are. Let your houses go up in flames for all I care. But what about regular folks who have drones with explosives crashing into their windows? As a citizen, it pisses me off to no end that these scumbags just sit there, chilling on their fat asses, covered in expensive creams. That's why people have every damn right to ask these scumbags these questions.
I've warned about this countless times, but nobody wants to listen. It's because I'm pissed off and it annoys those damn bureaucrats who live their cushy lives.”

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has urged for the imposition of martial law in Russia and advocated for strikes against the positions of “terrorist leaders” in Ukraine. He also expressed his belief that drone attacks hold no significance, be it psychological or otherwise, and yet promptly vowed to demonstrate “what genuine revenge truly entails.”

Kyiv mayor Vitaly Klitschko, who recently questioned the Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valery Zaluzhny, about why Moscow residents were enjoying their leisure while Russians were “terrorizing” Kyiv, commented on the drone attack in the Russian capital with a reference to an old internet meme involving himself:

“Not everyone can anticipate tomorrow, but I certainly can.”

Journalist Mark Krutov from Radio Liberty has created a comprehensive map that highlights all documented drone incidents and the placement of air defense systems in Moscow and the surrounding region.

Following the drone attacks in Moscow, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly recognized the right of Ukrainians to take action not only within their own territory but also on enemy territory to weaken Russia's capacity to deploy forces into Ukraine.

The bombardment of the Belgorod region persists, with the Telegram channel Rybar estimating that border towns in the region have been targeted 158 times in the past week. The channel advocates for equipping local militia groups with weapons and establishing a buffer zone in border areas adjacent to Ukrainian territory.

The governor of the region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, confirmed an attack on a temporary shelter housing displaced residents from border areas. He reported casualties and fatalities resulting from the incident.

Losses

Z-channels in Russia have released a video showing a Ukrainian Giacint-S self-propelled artillery unit (SAU) that has been damaged by a Russian Lancet drone. It is noteworthy that the net intended to counter the Lancet drone, which was deployed over the SAU's position, did not prevent the drone from hitting the vehicle. However, despite the damage, the vehicle appears to be repairable.

Armaments and military equipment

Ukraine's Defense Minister, Oleksii Reznikov, has announced that the Ukrainian Armed Forces have received approximately 60 Leopard tanks, allowing for the formation of two battalions. Additionally, he mentioned the acquisition of French AMX-10RC “wheeled tanks”, as well as British Challenger 2 and American M1 Abrams tanks, without specifying the exact numbers. Reznikov emphasized the need for around 120 Western fighter jets for the Ukrainian army. Alongside the planned transfer of F-16s, he mentioned the potential inclusion of Eurofighter and Gripen aircraft. Reznikov highlighted ongoing negotiations with Denmark, the Netherlands, Poland, and Belgium for pilot training and cooperation. Furthermore, he stated that the UK was prepared to provide training courses for Ukraine on the Eurofighter.

Finland has sent Ukraine its 16th military aid package worth 109m euros. It included, in particular, ammunition and air defense equipment. The total value of the military assistance provided by Helsinki to Kiev has reached 1.1 billion euros. The Finnish Ministry of Defense traditionally does not disclose information about the specific content of the military aid package to ensure the safety of its delivery.

U.S. President Joe Biden told journalists that the issue of supplying Ukraine with ATACMS missiles with a range of more than 500 km “is being considered. Earlier he doubted that the Ukrainian Armed Forces needed them. At the same time, he said that the increased attacks on Kiev were not unexpected, and that is why “we must continue to give Ukraine everything it needs.”

On the main events of the war on May 29, see the previous report: “A lull at the front, mass kamikaze drone strikes in Ukraine, convicts desert Russian MoD units. What happened on the front line on May 29?“

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