Russia-Ukraine War Newsletter – MAY 15-21, 2023

Situation as of 8:00 a.m. on May 22, 2023 

  • Although Russian troops have made advances in the city of Bakhmut, the successful counteroffensive operations conducted by the Ukrainian Armed Forces in and around the city indicate that they have gained the tactical initiative.
  • Throughout the week, there has been a surge in Russian air assaults on Ukrainian territory. Each night, there were reports of missile strikes and kamikaze drone attacks. However, in the majority of instances, Ukraine’s air defense successfully eliminated all hostile targets, including Kh-47 “Kinzhal” missiles.
  • President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky participated in the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan. The G7 adopted a joint communiqué expressing readiness to “support Ukraine for as long as necessary.” 
  • An agreement was reached to establish an international aviation coalition to train Ukrainian pilots and provide Ukraine with F-16 aircraft.


Russian troops almost completely occupied the territory of Bakhmut. However, the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy denied information about the fall of the city. The Ukrainian armed forces continue to hold positions on its western outskirts. Successful counteroffensive operations on the flanks of the Russian forces within the city indicate that they have gained the tactical initiative in this area

The Russian command has intensified strikes on the territory of Ukraine, targeting military depots and air defense positions. On the night of May 16, Russian troops launched a massive missile strike on Kyiv, using aeroballistic, ballistic and cruise missiles. The Ukrainian military reported the destruction of all targets (including several Kh-47 “Kinzhal” missiles). As a result of falling debris, damage to cars and buildings was recorded in different districts of the city. Ukraine and the United States denied reports of the Russian Ministry of Defense about the alleged destruction of the Patriot air defense system as a result of the strike. It is reported that this complex received only minimal damage (probably as a result of falling fragments of destroyed missiles) and remains on combat duty.  

On the evening of May 16, Russian troops launched rockets on Mykolaiv. Civilian objects were damaged (including a car dealership and a shopping center) and at least 1 person was injured as a result of this attack. On the night of May 18, a missile strike was launched again on the territory of Ukraine. Near Kyiv all enemy targets were destroyed by Ukrainian air defenses, but at the same time, a damage to an industrial enterprise in Odesa was recorded, as a result of which 1 person was killed and 2 people were injured. On the night of May 19, Ukraine was subjected to missile strikes and kamikaze drone attacks, which targeted Kyiv and the Lviv region, as well as Kryvyi Rih in the Dnipropetrovsk region, resulting in injuries of 2 persons in the latter location. On the night of May 20, Ukrainian air defense shot down all the kamikaze drones that attacked Kyiv. However, falling debris damaged several buildings in the city. On the evening of May 20, UAVs were used against the Dnipropetrovsk region, but the air defense forces also managed to repel the attack. On the night of May 22, the сity of Dnipro once again became the target of Russian strikes. As a result, residential houses were damaged and 8 people were injured.  

Russian troops continue shelling the border and frontline regions of Ukraine. Over the past week, civilian casualties amounted to at least: 13 dead and 41 wounded in Donetsk region; 5 dead and 25 wounded in Kherson region; 5 dead and 7 wounded in Kharkiv region. 

The Ukrainian Armed Forces attacked the railway infrastructure on the territory of the temporarily occupied Crimea. On the morning of May 18 partisans blew up a railway line near Simferopol, as a result a freight train derailed. The incident temporarily hampered transport routes to a key Russian military base in the region, located in Sevastopol. Missile strikes against Russian military facilities in Luhansk, Mariupol and Berdiansk were also continued during the week.


During the Council of Europe summit on May 16-17, the establishment of an International Registry of Damages caused by the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine was announced. Over 40 countries and the European Union have already joined or expressed their intention to join the agreement on the registry. The registry will record evidence of losses or damages inflicted on Ukraine, its individuals, and legal entities through unlawful actions by Russia, starting from February 24, 2022.

On May 15, the Chairman of the Supreme Court of Ukraine, Vsevolod Kniaziev, was detained by anti-corruption authorities while accepting a bribe of $2.7 million. He is suspected of receiving undue benefits in exchange for making a decision in favor of businessman Kostyantyn Zhevago and his company “Ferrexpo AG.” Law enforcement officials uncovered a lawyer association that acted as an intermediary between the client and the leadership of the Supreme Court. On May 16, Kniaziev’s powers as the Chairman of the Supreme Court were terminated, and on May 18, the Higher Anti-Corruption Court decided to detain him for 60 days with the possibility of posting bail of 107 million hryvnias.

At the same time, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) uncovered financial manipulations with strategic enterprises in Ukraine and tax evasion by businessman Pavel Fuks. According to the investigation, the sanctioned businessman illegally acquired assets of energy, engineering, and metallurgical companies in Ukraine worth over 100 billion hryvnias since 2018. The SBU and the Bureau of Economic Security also issued suspicions in absentia to businessman Dmytro Firtash and eight top managers of his companies. Law enforcement agencies discovered a scheme in which the businessman’s controlled structures purchased fuel from his company, receiving 30% of the procurement volumes (artificial deficit covered by state gas).

On May 18, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative for another two months after the last ship left the Ukrainian port within the framework of the ongoing initiative.


On May 19-21, the annual summit of the G7 countries took place in the city of Hiroshima, Japan. Its main topic was ensuring global economic stability in the context of the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic and the Russian military aggression in Ukraine. The leaders of the G7 countries released a joint communique reaffirming their unwavering support for Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression, pledging support for as long as necessary.

President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, personally attended the G7 summit in Japan. Prior to the summit, Zelenskyy held negotiations with the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister of Italy, Giorgia Meloni, the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, the Federal Chancellor of Germany, Olaf Scholz, the President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, the President of South Korea, Yun Suk Yeol, and the Prime Minister of Japan, Fumio Kishida. The leaders of Ukraine, India, Indonesia, South Korea, and the EU were special guests at the G7 summit.

Volodymyr Zelensky also participated in the session “Towards a Peaceful, Stable, and Prosperous World”, in which G7 countries, Ukraine, and partner states, including Australia, Brazil, Comoros (current African Union chair), Cook Islands (current Pacific Islands Forum chair), India (G20 chair), Indonesia (ASEAN chair), South Korea, and Vietnam, took part. Among the main issues discussed by Zelensky was the implementation of the Ukraine’s Peace Formula and the holding of the Global Peace Summit in July 2023.

This week, President Volodymyr Zelensky also made a working visit to Saudi Arabia, where he participated as an honorary guest in the summit of the League of Arab States. He informed the summit participants about the situation in Ukraine and called for support for the Ukraine’s Peace Formula. During the visit, Zelensky held official meetings with the Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, the Prime Minister of Iraq, Mohammed Shiaa al-Sudani, as well as the heads of delegations from the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Kuwait.

On May 16th and 17th, a two-day summit of heads of state and governments of Council of Europe member countries took place in Reykjavik. The Prime Minister of Ukraine, Denys Shmyhal, participated in the summit, while President Zelensky addressed the summit via online. The summit resulted in the adoption of the “Declaration on the Situation of Children in Ukraine” by the heads of state and governments of the 46 Council of Europe member countries. The declaration includes commitments to work towards the immediate return of children taken to Russia and to punish those responsible for crimes against minors. Furthermore, over 40 countries and the EU signed an agreement to create a registry of damages caused to Ukraine by the aggressive actions of the Russian Federation.

This week, Special Representative of the Government of China, Li Huey, visited Kyiv, where he held working meetings with President Volodymyr Zelensky and Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba.

An important decision to strengthen Ukraine’s defense capabilities was the agreement between the leaders of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands to establish an international aviation coalition, which will include training Ukrainian military personnel and the procurement of F-16 aircraft for Ukraine. The United States, Portugal, Belgium, and Denmark have already expressed their support for training Ukrainian pilots. The USA has announced the provision of the next military aid package worth $375 million, which includes additional ammunition for the HIMARS missile artillery systems, TOW anti-tank guided missiles, Javelin anti-tank systems, AT-4s, armored medical vehicles, trucks etc. In turn, Norway has announced the transfer of eight long-range multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) and three Arthur radars to Ukraine.

The information in the newsletter is collected from official sources—reports of state authorities of Ukraine, Ukrainian and international news agencies. The accuracy of the data is carefully checked by the project team and corrected in case of fake news.