Key Takeaways

  • Ukrainian forces have made gains northwest of Bakhmut in localized counterattacks as of May 12.
  • Russian milbloggers and other prominent voices in the pro-war information space continue to respond to recent Ukrainian counterattacks with varying degrees of caution and anxiety.
  • Ukrainian and American officials stated that Ukrainian forces have not yet started the planned counteroffensive.
  • Senior Russian officials proposed a series of domestic repression and censorship measures during the St. Petersburg International Legal Forum on May 11.
  • Former Russian officer and ardent nationalist Igor Girkin’s newly formed “Club of Angry Patriots” held a press conference on May 12 to discuss its discontent with the current Russian conduct of the war in Ukraine.
  • U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Reuben Brigety accused South Africa of loading a Russian ship with ammunition and weapons in December 2022, contradicting its proclaimed neutral stance on the war in Ukraine.
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) attempted to distract from and assuage information space paranoia over a potential Ukrainian counteroffensive on the Kharkiv-Luhansk front.
  • Russian forces continue limited ground attacks in and around Bakhmut.
  • Russian sources continue to speculate about potential Ukrainian counteroffensive preparations in southern Ukraine.
  • Russian forces continue to recruit convicts and establish volunteer battalions as a part of crypto-mobilization efforts.
  • Senior Russian officials are claiming that they are taking active measures to return displaced and illegally deported Ukrainian civilians, including Ukrainian children, to occupied Ukraine.


Authors: Karolina Hird, Riley Bailey, Grace Mappes, and Mason Clark

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