The Ukrainian counteroffensive north and east of Kharkiv city secured further gains in the last 24 hours and may successfully push Russian forces out of artillery range of Kharkiv in the coming days. Ukrainian forces captured several settlements north and east of Kharkiv in the last 24 hours, reducing the ability of Russian forces to threaten Ukraine’s second-largest city. This Ukrainian operation is developing into a successful, broader counteroffensive—as opposed to the more localized counterattacks that Ukrainian forces have conducted throughout the war to secure key terrain and disrupt Russian offensive operations. Ukrainian forces are notably retaking territory along a broad arc around Kharkiv rather than focusing on a narrow thrust, indicating an ability to launch larger-scale offensive operations than we have observed so far in the war (as Ukrainian forces predominantly retook the outskirts of Kyiv following Russian withdrawals rather than in a major counteroffensive). The willingness of Ukrainian forces to concentrate the forces necessary for this scale of offensive operations, rather than deploying these available forces to defenses in eastern Ukraine, additionally indicates the Ukrainian military’s confidence in repelling ongoing Russian operations to encircle Ukrainian forces in the Severodonetsk area. While Ukrainian forces are unlikely to directly threaten Russian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) to Izyum (as they run further to the east of recent Ukrainian advances), Ukrainian forces may be able to relieve Russian pressure on Kharkiv and possibly threaten to make further advances to the Russian border.

ISW cannot confirm initial reports of a Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship missile strike on the Russian frigate Admiral Makarov on May 6.[1] Pentagon Spokesperson John Kirby said the United States cannot confirm the reported strike and added “we’ve been looking at this all day.” ISW will update this assessment with further information as it becomes available.

Comment: Concerning the sinking of the Makarov, just hold your horses. Not only did John Kirby throw cold water on the news, but Ukrainian presidential advisor, Oleksiy Arestovych said this in an interview today.  

“No one hit it, Mark. There is no verified information. There are lots of messages, but I reminded a hundred times that… and I won’t get tired of reminding that in the last 3-4 weeks the character of the info war has changed radically. A lot of winning’ information is thrown at us which is then not coming true and everyone embarrasses themselves – even respected Western agencies, Turkish, and so on. At the moment there is no verified information about something getting hit available to official Ukrainian authorities. It continues being verified. And we remember – regarding ‘Mosvka, how long were we figuring it out? 3 or 4 days?”

No matter. The news from the Kharkiv front is good enough. The Ukrainian Army concentrated enough forces to launch a broad counteroffensive. The pendulum of initiative is beginning to swing in Ukraine’s favor. Not only will this relieve Kharkiv from constant bombardment from Russian artillery, it may also threaten, with drone observed artillery fire, the main supply route from Belgorod to all those BTGs concentrated at Izyum. I’m sure soon we’ll hear Moscow telling us that, like Kyiv, they never intended to surround or take Kharkiv, either. It was all just a clever ruse.

In other news, things are still blowing up, falling down and catching fire all over Russia. Perhaps the natives are getting restless.


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  1. Worth Pointing Out says:

    Interesting that ISW has started to describe the situation south of Izyum as “the cauldron”. This started in the beginning of May, prior to that the word was nowhere to be found.

    Odd that this hasn’t caught your attention.

    • Whitewall says:

      Nowhere to be found before May? ‘Nowhere’ must be a very tiny place.

      • Worth Pointing Out says:

        I am quite correct that ISW did not use the word “cauldron” in any of their situation reports prior to May. Not once. Not ever.

    • Stadist says:

      Russophiles, saker and nakedcapitalism among them, have been foaming from their mouths talking about the big cauldron there since beginning of the war. Saker especially claimed they were cauldroned months ago – nothing but lies and about completely disconnected from any objective reality, yet the russophiles keep trusting these sources.

      Now with every single fuck up the russians do, the russophiles employ ages old psychological coping trick which is the Denial. But funnily enough with the denials, they even do it doubly – they deny the value of losses/failures (taking Kyiv, losing Moskva), but then they also deny it was the Ukrainians managing to do anything and instead blame NATO/USA. But seriously, who cares if it was the Ukies or ‘Amerikanets’ who did it if it was nothing of value anyway? It’s just cognitive dissonance and coping all over the place.

      • Harry says:

        You are right. “Russophiles, saker and nakedcapitalism among them, have been foaming from their mouths talking about the big cauldron”.

        But I dont think of ISW as a Russophile site.

    • morongobill says:

      Guess they figured, for credibility reasons, that it might be time to use the c word.

  2. Degringolade says:


    Time will tell

  3. Leith says:

    Two more days to Moscow’s Victory Day Parade. Fortunately Putin will have no victories in Ukraine to celebrate. Unless he unleashes one of his nukes that he always crows about. Or uncages one of his so-called wunderwaffen (snarc).

    And also two (or one?) more days for Ukraine’s “Victory Day over Nazism in World War II”. They have not done much parading though for the last eight years due to threats of terrorist attacks by the separatists. So they have been doing laid back ceremonies in a city park under high security. This year I suspect they won’t even do that as there would be too much danger of Putin dumping cruise missiles on the event.

  4. Stevelancs says:

    If you guys are right and Russia is losing the war in Ukraine despite having closed down the air and seaborne Ukrainian military assets, what do you think Russia might do next?
    Roll over?
    Or hit its enemies with all it has to offer
    How you advise President Putin, or maybe take a pause and try to advise your own President?

    • TTG says:


      My advice for Biden is to keep doing what he’s doing, but shut down the US tendency to gloat and make no demands on Russia other than to leave Ukrainian territory. Advise Zelenskiy to do the same. Don’t say a word about Sevastopol. Leave that to Kyiv and Moscow to figure out. Find a way to speak to Russians telling them they are a good people and have an honorable place in the family of nations.

      My advice for Putin is to step down or arrange to die from some heroic illness or accident, whatever might be kinder to his legacy. If he can get past the security state he created, arrange for a more moderate leadership to take over after he’s gone.

      • Bill Roche says:

        Yes, and for what its worth let Biden remind Russians (if he must say anything at all) that America and Russia share a history of cooperation, immigration, space exploration, and Americans are NOT anti-Russian. Blinken should make clear to Zelinskky that territorial questions are NOT w/i the purview of the U.S. but encourage him to accept the presence of Lugansks, Donbas, and Crimea. As for Putin’s departure, I don’t see that happening.

    • Philip Owen says:

      They are in the middle of hitting UA with everything now and it seems to have peaked without huge effect. There are 350 strike aircraft around but Russia isn’t going to be capable of rebuilding them for 20 or 30 years (it’s just had 14 years of high spending and didn’t really manage it. Now there are sanctions). Russia dare not expose those aircraft to danger even if there are enough pilots. China, Japan, Finland all might want their land back. The North Caucasus might want independence.

  5. Klapper says:

    “The pendulum of initiative is beginning to swing in Ukraine’s favor.”

    Honestly I can’t see any objective analysis coming to this conclusion. The problem with these kinds of interpretations is they delay negotiations for peace. Zelensky and his executive have lately said they’re not interested in negotiating; the likely reason is they are hoping the flood of EU and US military hardware will change the tide of war.

    My guess is they won’t, as they’re getting a hodge-podge of different equipment that’s going to be a logistics problem, and they won’t have the inventory of ammunition or spare parts they need to keep this hodge-podge of equipment operational.

    As for the current situation here’s two anecdotal but telling pieces of data. From the NYT interview of a Ukrainian fighter pilot in late March: the Russians are flying 200 sorties to every 5 of the Ukrainians, and from the Christian Science Monitor interview of a soldier on the NE front from early May: for every 200 incoming Russian shells we lob 10 back.

    If those 2 data points are anywhere close to the truth, particularly the airforce sorties numbers, the Ukrainians are not going to “win”, if winning means pushing the Russians out of the Kherson and Donbass oblasts.

    • TTG says:


      The government in Kyiv still stands. NATO is more united than its been in decades and is about to gain two new members. The Russian Army had to withdraw from Kyiv and is being pushed back at Kharkiv. The drive to Odesa was stopped at Kherson and the grand cauldron has yet to materialize. Russian Aerospace Forces still don’t dominate Ukrainian skies. Their sorties are pretty much limited to the front lines. Ukrainian drones are still performing recon missions, spotting for artillery and taking out Russian armor and ships. Sabotage across Russia is increasing. That and sanctions will hamper Russian efforts to resupply and rearm her forces.

      By now, I expected the Russians to be at least consolidating east of the Dneiper and the Ukrainian resistance to be reduced to UW. There should have been a general ceasefire and negotiations to allow Russia to keep what they took while sanctions fatigue sets into the West.None of that’s happening. I doubt Russia could keep this up into next year. How long did it take to defeat Nazi Germany?

      • Klapper says:

        “Russian Aerospace Forces still don’t dominate Ukrainian skies.”

        I can’t see how this is true. They seem to be able to hit targets at will deep into Ukraine, all the way to Lviv. Railway traction stations, fuel depots, warehouses etc., anywhere in Ukraine as near as I can tell.

        As for the grand cauldron, the pro-Russian telegram/twitter accounts are claiming Popasnaya is now under complete Russian/LPR control. If true they are making slow progress to isolating the Ukrainians in Severodonestk.

        More bloodshed and destruction could be avoided if both sides decided to allow a UN supervised oblast by oblast referendum on what citizens of those oblasts want: an independent republic or union with Ukraine or Russia. If the Donbass and Kherson, maybe some others want to join Russian then just let it be done. However, neither side wants that democratic solution right now.

        • TTG says:


          All those strikes in Lviv and elsewhere are stand off missile strikes, not aircraft strikes.

        • Philip Owen says:

          Russia are in their second Clausewitzian cumulation. Today is their top note. They topped up with supplies and ammo before starting Plan B. They put their best infantry, Wagner, at the spearhead. They still haven’t broken Ukraine and their logistics to resupply are still awful. If there are huge stockpiles of shells prplaced for artillery, the Ukrainians have their own counter battery equipment arriving. At the very least Russia will do no more than try to hold what they’ve got in the next 2-3 days.

      • Fred says:

        “NATO is more united than its been in decades and is about to gain two new members. ”

        Hooray! Will we have to pay for their defense too like we paid for the rest of Europe’s for 50 years? As to ‘united’ Hungary has rejected an embargo on Russian oil as Orban says that would destroy their own economy (they aren’t alone in that analysis or rejection). Or is that somehow magically different since that’s the EU not NATO but mostly the same countries?

        • TTG says:


          I doubt we’ll be paying for Finland’s and Sweden’s contribution to NATO. A question remains as to whether Orban can or intends to veto Finland’s and Sweden’s desire to join the alliance. Does NATO retain the old Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth idea of a “liberum veto?” If that’s the case, seems to me that Putin could have avoided this whole kerfuffle if he just relied on Orban to keep Ukraine out of NATO.

  6. Rex Lesicka says:

    Why not send Antifa to deal with the Azov, they are supposed to be the great Nazi hunters?

  7. Babeltuap says:

    We lost to people living in dirt houses, dirt floors, no windows using brown lamp wire and homemade explosives. The most POWERFUL military that ever existed lost to these people ok. Think about that. Let it stew for a few minutes.

    Now I ask you how is that same POWERFUL military going to defeat a country with a formidable military and the largest nuclear arsenal on the planet.

    How is that exactly going to happen if they can’t defeat people living in DIRT HOUSES. I can tell you how. IT WON’T.

    • TTG says:


      We lost to people fighting for their homes and families. The Russians are about to do the same.

  8. JMc says:

    Here is an interesting take on why it’s so difficult for Putin to actually declare war on Ukraine.

    • TTG says:


      I’ve been reading a lot of Kamil Galeev lately. He certainly appears to know his subject matter and is very interesting. I wish he would write essays rather than Twitter threads. His long threads seem more like essays. Oh well, such is the form of modern discourse.

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