Good morning, Kyiv Post readers. Here’s your Morning Memo for May 24 to get you up to speed on events in Ukraine:

Latest Headlines

The “counterterrorism” operation against an armed incursion into Belgorod region in Russia has apparently been cancelled by its governor. This follows claims and counter-claims about losses on side of the Russian military, including up to an infantry company, and on the side of anti-Putin forces. NYT reported that anti-Putin forces lost three US-manufactured vehicles, as well as troops, but a Ukrainian intelligence source claimed that the forces remain “operational.” Explosions were heard in Belgorod city overnight.

A further tranche of EUR 1.5 billion for Ukraine has been transferred by the European Commission. This is the fourth disbursement under program of EUR 18 billion for this year.

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At the same time, EU members have accelerated the delivery of military aid to the Ukrainian armed forces. To date, according to the EU’s High Representative speaking yesterday, Ukraine has received 220,000 artillery shells of various caliber and 1,300 missiles from existing EU stocks, following a March decision to allocate EUR 2 billion for the supply of 1 million artillery rounds over 12 months. Further supplies are meant to be manufactured in Europe and Norway

“F-16s will not be relevant for a future counteroffensive" and “are a long-term commitment to Ukraine,” a senior Pentagon spokesman told a briefing yesterday. The spokesman also said that Ukrainian pilots will be trained in Europe and that “the details of this plan are currently being worked out.”

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A Ukrainian pilot, codenamed ‘Juice,’ told Voice of America that the “Ukrainian Air Force has already given its allies the lists of candidates for training on fourth generation fighters, and that the pilots themselves have been preparing themselves for over a year, particularly learning English.”

The multi-lateral build-up to Ukraine’s pending counter-offensive continued:

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 ·      The country’s senior intelligence official said “Ukraine has the [required] minimum of weapons and other equipment… [the counteroffensive] will start soon.”

 

·      Ukraine’s Defense Minister met with his US counterpart ahead of the next round of the Ramstein group which coordinates the supply of allied weapons. The Pentagon said that the agenda will be "strengthening Ukraine's air defense system against continuous brutal attacks from Russia."

·      The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and NATO's supreme allied commander and commander of US forces in Europe, General Christopher Cavoli, had a call to discuss “the strengthening of Ukraine’s air defense capabilities, including through F-16 fighter jets,” as well as ammunition supply and military logistics infrastructure.

Military Situation Report

 The May 23 campaign assessment from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) had the following key take-aways:

·      Russian authorities claimed to have ended the “counterterrorism” operation in the Belgorod region and to have defeated the Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK) and the Freedom of Russia Legion (LSR) in the region on May 23.

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·      Russian forces likely pushed the RDK and LSR forces to the Kozinka border settlement and possibly out of Russian territory as of May 23.

·      Russian sources claimed Ukrainian forces conducted raids across the Kharkiv-Belgorod border on May 23, but ISW observed no confirmation that these raids occurred.

·      Ukrainian officials stated that the pace of fighting in the Bakhmut direction has decreased amid continued limited Ukrainian counterattacks on Bakhmut’s flanks on May 23.

·      Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks northeast of Kupyansk and along the Svatove-Kreminna line.

·      Russian forces continued offensive operations on the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line.

·      Russian forces continued defensive operations in southern Ukraine ahead of the planned Ukrainian counteroffensive.

The update at 06:00 on May 24 (Day 455) for the last 24 hours from the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reports:

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·      Ukrainian forces destroyed a Ka-52 helicopter valued at $16 million;

·      41 Russian air raids;

·      53 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) attacks;

·      26 combat engagements during continued fighting, especially around Bahkmut and Mariinka in the Donetsk region;

·      Russian artillery, rocket, mortar and/or airborne fire in the following regions: Chernihiv (4); Kharkiv (28); Sumy (8); Luhansk (3); Donetsk (49); Zaporizhya (10), and (8) Kherson, and;

·      Ukrainian air forces undertook 15 raids against Russian positions.

President Zelensky’s Message

“On the frontline, it was the right thing to announce the creation of a Marine Corps in Ukraine. New marine brigades will be added to our existing units, and we will provide them with modern weapons and equipment… This trip to the frontline was the final component after numerous meetings and negotiations with partners that took place… in the previous weeks.” - Volodymyr Zelensky in his nightly address

FYI Kyiv Locals

In preparation for Kyiv Day on May 25, a photo display is going up in Shevchenko Park with images of Kyiv during the 19th century to the early 20th century.

After potential plans were announced, Kyivites also robustly participated in the national debate of the day: should there be female-only coupes on Ukraine’s amazing train system?

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Quote of the Day

This bitter chapter in the history of our continent, invented by Vladimir Putin in his imperialist madness, will end with a free Ukraine becoming a full member of the European Union. We rule. We decide. We act practically.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stated. Scholz said.

Infographic of the Day

The below poster from the World War I era for English and French speaking audiences said Ukraine was producing 67 percent of the grain in the Russian Empire and the most wheat in the world.

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