For those who gathered in Moscow for the May 9 parade, there was one big let down on the pomp-and-circumstances front: Reportedly, very few aircraft passed over the city, with none of the low altitude flyovers from fighters, bombers, and support aircraft that marked such occasions in years past. Many planes that were practicing about the city just two days earlier turned out to be no-shows on the day itself.
Maybe most notably — there was no flying ‘Z.’ Despite the effort Russian pilots put in training to fly in a none-too-elegant zed pattern, that flight was absent from the actual event.
There have been two explanations as to why the aerial portion of the day’s events was so limited. The official explanation is that the weather was bad. However, both witnesses and video confirm that the skies in Moscow were a powdery blue. The less official explanation is that Vladimir Putin and the Russian military were concerned Ukrainians infiltrators — or disgruntled Russians — would manage to shoot down a Russian aircraft, on their big day, in the middle of Moscow. Which, admittedly, would put a damper on the party. Of course, there’s also the possibility that Russia no longer has enough operational planes to engage in alphabet-themed activities.
Whatever the reason, reports indicate that the show on the ground was also smaller than in past years. Apparently Russia did manage to get their specialist Main Parade Tank, the Armata T-14, to pass before the reviewing stand without incident. Which is something. Russia’s new “super tank” is yet to be seen in the field. When first introduced over seven years ago, one stopped working on the parade route and was about to be towed away when last minute repairs apparently got it moving again. Earlier this year, a halted T-14 on a Moscow street was blamed on operator error.
Still, when it comes to the show put on for the obligatory crowd, it was definitely a C+. At best.
What those attending the parade did get was a heapin’ helpin’ of Nazi. According to Vladimir Putin’s speech, Nazi’s are everywhere. Nazis in Ukraine. Nazis in the West. Nazis in all nations but Russia … and now, my friends, let’s watch the jackbooted troops goosestep for the Motherland! Some of which, according to Putin, includes eastern Ukraine.
There were some expected things missing from Putin’s speech. There was no call for a general mobilization, no threats of a global thermonuclear war, and no claim that anything which has happened so far in Ukraine constitutes a victory. So … everyone else is a Nazi, eastern Ukraine is part of Russia, and that’s about it. Even by Putin standards, not a great speech.
Things continue to change quickly in the Kharkiv area. Following reports that the last two bridges across the Siverskyi Donets River north of Staryi Saltiv have now been blown up by Russian forces, it seems that Ukraine has stopped shelling sites around Startsya. Instead, the major hot spots identified by the NASA FIRMS data are near the crossroads town of Lyptsi, and to the southeast near the town of Petrivka.
Ukrainian forces have also been moving north along the road from Kharkiv to Lyptsi. On Monday, they captured the town of Borshcova and reports that they have entered Lyptsi, with most of the fighting now happening northwest of the town proper. Russian forces are apparently still occupying Petrivka and Urainske to the southeast, but those forces seem increasingly threatened by Ukrainian movement on both east and west.
On the far west of what remains of Russian-occupied territory north of Kharkiv, Ukrainian forces have recaptured the town of Tsupivka after several days of hard fighting in that area. Ukrainian forces are now closing in from two directions on the border crossing east of Kozacha Lopan, where Russian forces have reportedly dug in defend the border.
Whether Ukrainian forces are continuing to advance to the north along the river remains unclear.
The blue checks are towns Ukrainian troops have taken in the last few days. The flames are hot spots from FIRMS data, and the yellow markers are towns where active fighting appears to be underway. Some reports have indicated Ukraine has also been engaged in one of those euphemisms—“mopping up” Russians stragglers still around towns and villages closer to Kharkiv.
In the afternoon briefing from the Defense Department, officials noted that while Russia has made progress in the Donbas, that progress continues to be “slow and incremental” with “single kilometer gains.” The Pentagon assesses that Russia is “trying to advance from Izyum in the direction of Lyman, and to assault Sloviansk.”
An artillery strike that hit Ukrainian forces on Monday was geolocated to near the town of Ozerne, southeast of Lyman. It’s worth noting that Russia attacked south from Izyum to Pashkove starting April 24, and is still trying to take that position. Likewise, Ozerne has been at the end of the small salient running down past Rampril for over two weeks. Movement in these areas does not appear to be in any sense rapid.
The Pentagon also reported that 85 of the 90 M777 Howitzer units promised are now in Ukraine. They’ve been seen on the ground near Kyiv and Odessa, and multiple units were seen firing together at an unspecified location in eastern Ukraine. A total of 310 Ukrainian soldiers have been trained on operating the M777.
Overall, the Pentagon continues to assess that, in spite of the loss of Popasna and Nyzhnie, Russia has made “no significant progress” in the Donbas.
Here’s a good reason why.
While Russians are complaining about Ukraine shelling their locations on a Russian holiday, it’s worth noting that Russia has by no means reduced their own firing. That includes missile strikes on Odessa that hit a shopping mall.
One possibly significant development on Monday afternoon: Russian forces have reportedly managed to cross the ubiquitous Donets River somewhere near the town of Bilohorivka and apparently moved some forces to the south bank. This appears to have been via a pontoon bridge, and this bridge is now reportedly destroyed. Ukrainian forces appear to have pushed back Russian forces that reached the south bank and destroyed another pontoon bridge in the area before significant forces could cross.
The latest update from @war_mapper.
His latest has :
- Ukraine also capturing Slobozhanske and Bairak north of Kharkiv, in addition to the villages already noted in the map with this article.
- Russia has entered the towns of Derylove and Drobysheve, putting them just 4km from Lyman.
- Russia gaining control of Velyka Komyshuvakha directly west of Izyum.
That last is a village that’s been in dispute almost since Russia set up camp around Izyum. It’s unclear how its capture relates to fighting supposedly going on immediately north of this location.
No changes for Mariupol or Kherson area.