Key Takeaways from the ISW:

  • Russian forces continued to make tactically significant advances north and northeast of Kharkiv City on May 13 and currently appear to be prioritizing the rapid establishment of a "buffer zone" along the international border over setting conditions for deeper penetrations into northern Kharkiv Oblast.
  • Russian forces' relatively rapid rate of advances in Vovchansk and their reported destruction of several bridges across key waterways within the settlement suggest that Russian forces are prioritizing the creation of a "buffer zone" over a deeper penetration, as ISW previously assessed they would.
  • Newly appointed Russian Security Council Secretary Sergei Shoigu participated in his first Security Council meeting as secretary on May 13, amid continued reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin is focusing on mobilizing the Russian economy and defense industrial base (DIB) to support a protracted war in Ukraine.
  • Putin's decision to remove Shoigu from the Russian MoD appears to have also opened the door for the departure of certain Shoigu affiliates from the MoD, likely one of the intended effects of Putin's recent cabinet reshuffles.
  • Ukrainian forces reportedly conducted successful missile strikes against a Russian air defense base in occupied Crimea and successful drone strikes against Russian energy infrastructure in Russia.
  • Russian forces recently made confirmed advances near Lyptsi and Vovchansk in northern Kharkiv Oblast.
  • The Russian military may be intensifying efforts to recruit conscripts through the Russian Volunteer Society for Assistance to the Army, Aviation, and Navy of Russia (DOSAAF) as part of ongoing crypto-mobilization efforts.

Authors: Riley Bailey, Angelica Evans, Nicole Wolkov, Christina Harward, and Frederick W. Kagan.

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