Key Takeaways

·       The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) appears to have deprioritized the Bakhmut offensive in favor of preparing to defend against an anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive, putting the Wagner Group and Wagner financier Yevgeny Prigozhin in a potentially difficult position.

·       Wagner’s continued persistence within Bakhmut is incongruent with the overall slow-down in the pace of Russian operations elsewhere in Ukraine as conventional Russian forces appear to largely be shifting focus to prepare to receive the much-anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive.

·       Recently dismissed former Deputy Minister of Defense for Logistics Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev is reportedly serving as deputy commander of the Wagner Group, likely as part of Wagner’s campaign to retain access to Russian military supplies.

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·       Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered newly-appointed Deputy Minister for Logistics Alexei Kuzmenkov to control the supply of weapons and equipment to Russian forces in Ukraine.

·       Russian occupation authorities announced the forced removal of 70,000 civilians in occupied Zaporizhzhia Region blast to areas deeper in the Russian-occupied rear under the guise of evacuations.

·       The Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) proposed a draft bill aimed at appealing to growing anti-migrant sentiments in Russia and supporting the Russian military’s efforts to recruit migrants.

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·       Russian Human Rights Council head Valery Fadeev reportedly stated that Russian authorities should regulate Telegram channels similarly to how Russia censors state-controlled media.

·       Russian forces conducted ground attacks near Kreminna and Avdiivka and made marginal gains within Bakhmut.

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·       Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted limited counterattacks near Bakhmut.

·       The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) claimed it prevented a Ukrainian assassination attempt against an occupation deputy of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) on May 5.

·       Chechen Republic Head Ramzan Kadyrov continues his own personal force generation efforts aimed at securing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s favor.

·       Russian occupation authorities continue measures to strengthen social control of occupied territories.

Authors: Karolina Hird, Riley Bailey, Nicole Wolkov, Grace Mappes, Layne Philipson, and Frederick W. Kagan.

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