Key Takeaways from the ISW:

  • Ukrainian officials reported that Ukrainian forces are stabilizing the situation along the northern border in Kharkiv Oblast and that the tempo of Russian offensive operations in the area continues to decrease.
  • Ukrainian Internal Affairs Minister Ihor Klymenko reported that Russian forces have executed civilians and taken civilians captive in Vovchansk.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin likely views Russia's relationship with the People's Republic of China (PRC) as decisive to his effort to further mobilize the Russian economy and defense industry to support a protracted war in Ukraine.
  • Putin also used his meeting with Xi to promote known Kremlin narratives feigning interest in peace negotiations and a diplomatic resolution to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
  • Russian forces are reportedly able to conduct fixed-wing drone reconnaissance deep in the Ukrainian rear due to Ukraine's lack of air defense interceptors.
  • Ukrainian forces reportedly conducted successful drone strikes against a Russian defense industrial plant in Tula City on the night of May 15 to 16.
  • Russian missile strikes against Ukrainian energy infrastructure since March 2024 have likely caused long-term damage to Ukrainian energy infrastructure and repeated energy blackouts.
  • A Russian insider source, who has previously accurately reported on Russian military command changes, claimed that senior Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) officials are vying for the position of Chief of the General Staff.
  • Kremlin and Georgian officials promoted established Kremlin information operations alleging that the West is orchestrating protests against Georgia's "foreign agent" law in order to overthrow the Georgian government.
  • Turkey and Russia are reportedly exploiting European Union (EU) sanctions regulations to export Russian oil to the EU, allowing Russia to continue to receive significant oil revenues to fund its war effort in Ukraine.
  • Russia reportedly launched a satellite as part of its program to develop a nuclear anti-satellite weapon in the weeks before Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, likely as part of Russian preparations for a future confrontation with NATO.
  • Russian forces recently advanced near Lyptsi, Vovchansk, Kupyansk and Donetsk City.
  • Several Russian opposition media outlets reported on May 16 that Russian State Duma Defense Committee Chairman Andrei Kartapolov rejected a bill that would grant deferment from mobilization to certain Russian civilians, likely to support ongoing and future crypto-mobilization efforts.

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

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