Update 04 May

4 maj, 2022

On 02 May, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that Ukraine will not redraw its borders for the sake of peace, saying that Kyiv is ready to continue fighting to restore its territorial integrity. This statement was also supported by several Ukrainian authorities, underlining that there can be no peace agreement with Russia under current circumstances.

In northern Ukraine, life in Kyiv continues to return to normal. Several Western embassies are reopening in the capital, and the risk of a renewed Russian ground attack on Kyiv is at the moment unlikely. However, missile strikes continue to occur – on 3 May several explosions were reported, no causalities were reported.

In eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian forces have successfully pushed Russian troops 40 kilometres east of Kharkiv in a counterattack – liberating several Ukrainian settlements. However, central areas in Kharkiv city have been subject to Russian shelling in the past 24 hours, and the area remains a high-risk location. It is unlikely that Russia will launch a ground attack on Kharkiv in the near future, rather it is believed that Russia’s intentions in the area is to fix Ukrainian troops and hinder redeployment to the front line in the Donbas. However, given Russia’s recent setbacks around Kharkiv, there is a possibility that Russia will withdraw its troops in the region rather than reinforcing them, consequently enabling additional Ukrainian troops to move to the Donbas.

It is likely that Russia’s primary objective at this moment is to secure its positions in the east and seize the Donbas. Essential to this objective is that Russia launch successful offensives south from Izyum. In the last couple days, Russia has successfully moved its positions towards Barvinkove and Sloviansk from Izyum. Furthermore, it is believed that Russia has seized the towns of Yampil, Kreminna, parts of Rubhizne, and parts of Popasna. Intelligence reports suggest that Russia is preparing an attack from Yampil on Lyman, to in turn enable another front for the anticipated assault on Sloviansk.

Russia has continued to shell the town of Avdiivka, just north of Donetsk and on the line of combat; however, there are no reports of a Russian ground assault on the town, and there continues to be little ground action around Donetsk.

In southern Ukraine, Ukrainian troops and civilians are still trapped and holding out in the Avostal Steel Plant. On 3 May, a large portion of the trapped civilians were evacuated. Russia has resumed its attacks on the plant, and it is likely to fall in the coming days. There are reports of Ukrainian resistance in Kherson Oblast, as Russia attempts to formally annex Kherson. Apart from this, there have been no significant developments in the south. However, it is likely that Russia will launch an offensive westwards from Kherson once its objectives in eastern Ukraine have been accomplished.

In the west, on 03 May at around 20:30 local time, several Russian strikes hit the western city of Lviv in multiple directions, damaging two power substations. As a result, six railway stations used to resupply Ukrainian forces with Western-supplied weapons were disabled, according to the Russian Ministry of Defence. The Ministry added that Russian forces had also struck 40 Ukrainian military targets, which included 3 ammunition and artillery depots.

Additionally, Russia hit Transcarpathia, a region close to Slovakian border, as a first attack in this region. Attacks close to Polish and Slovakian borders were highly likely a response to the agreement between Slovakian and Polish Ministries of Defence for Polish aircraft to patrol Slovak airspace to allow fighter aircraft to Ukraine. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu stated that Russian forces consider NATO transport carrying weapons to Ukraine as legitimate targets.

Developments in Russia

On 03 May, as a response to the anticipated sixth round of sanctions against Russia, President Putin ordered retaliatory sanctions against the west over the ‘unfriendly actions of certain foreign states and international organisation’. The sanctions do not yet list the specific individuals or entities that will be impacted, but will reportedly ban the export of raw materials those on the list. The new measures also ban ‘to make transactions and force Russian entities conclude foreign trade contracts with the sanctioned individuals and entities.

Bankoff, which helped Russia circumvent Visa card blocking has reportedly suspended operations. The service became very popular after international payments systems announced their exit from the country. Bankoff allowed issuing a virtual payment card without visiting a bank and replenishing it with the help of a messenger app. Currently, Visa and Stripe stopped servicing Bankoff cards due to a large number of users and transactions from Russia. Cards are no longer supported for offline and online payments and funds in U.S. accounts are frozen.

International Developments

The issue of whether to give in to Russian demands for rule payments for gas continues to divide the EU, threating to widen their attempt to present unity against Russia. On 02 May, Polish authorities once more urged the EU to impose sweeping sanctions on Russian oil and gas and to resist Putin’s pressure to make payments for Russian gas in rubles. European Union officials held an emergency meeting in Brussels as a response to Russian cutting gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria, underlining the threat of wider cuts if its demands are not met. After the emergency meeting, the EU stated that they will issue more detailed guidance to companies in the coming week regarding the rules under the EU sanctions and Russia’s demands for payments in rubles. Nevertheless, several governments within the EU, including Hungary’s, have indicated that they intend to accept Russia’s demands, underlining the current lack of a unified approach on the issue at the EU level.

On 03 May, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz hosted Swedish PM Magdalena Andersson and their Finnish counterpart Sanna Marin. After their meeting, Scholz stated that if the two countries decide to join NATO, they can count on Germany’s support. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Finland and Sweden have moved closer to a NATO membership. For the process, the coming week is very crucial. According to various open sources, Finland is in favour of joining NATO and is expected to announce its decision to join alliance on 12 May. Stockholm’s position on joining NATO largely depends on Helsinki’s decision. In Sweden, parliament is conducting a security policy review including the possible consequences of joining the alliance, with results due on 13 May. There is already a majority in the Swedish parliament in support of NATO membership.

Israel summoned Russia’s ambassador following remarks by Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov that Adolf Hitler may have had Jewish blood as a comment made in relation to Russia’s claims that they de-Nazify Ukraine. On 03 May, Moscow accused the Israeli government of ‘supporting neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv’. Until these developments, Israel has tried to meditate between Ukraine and Russia so far however these developments represent a notable diplomatic flareup between Israel and Russia.

Pope Francis stated that he is ready to meet Russian President Putin to try to persuade him to end the war. The Pope said he made the offer for meeting however has yet to hear back.

Humanitarian Aspect

As of 03 May, the Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) recorded 6,546 civilian casualties in Ukraine in total 3,193 killed and 3,353 injured. Most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, shelling from heavy artillery, missile strikes and multiple launch rocket systems.

OHCHR stated in their report that actual figures are considerably higher, as they cannot receive information from some locations where the intense hostilities currently take place. Latest figures show that 5,6 million Ukrainian people have fled from the hostilities since 24 February.

Civilian evacuations from the regions with ongoing hostilities continue. On 03 May, the first group of evacuated civilians from the Mariupol Azovstal plant arrived in Zaporizhzhya. According to vice Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk, a humanitarian corridor for civilians sheltering at the Azovstal steel plant was organized on 01 May however disrupted by the Russian troops. Currently, more than 200 civilians and wounded Ukrainian soldiers are still at the Azovstal in Mariupol.


On 09 May, Russia will celebrate Victory Day, commemorating allied forces victory over Nazi Germany. Currently, Russian territorial gains continue to remain slow in the Donbas and other regions with ongoing conflict. The chances of a significant success by 09 May are very low. It is expected that Putin will want to declare some form of victory, or ramp up the status of the conflict from ‘the special military operation’ to ‘war’ status. According to the latest intelligence reports, Russia is expected to increase mobilisation in an effort to capture eastern and southern Ukraine.

Putin is still likely to use the Victory day to announce some sort of victory, with the expected referendum in Kherson Oblast where the Russian troops currently have de facto control and imposed the use of Russian ruble, and so-called liberation of Mariupol likely to be presented as notable strategic gains.

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