Key developments on May 2:
- Blinken says counteroffensive planned within weeks
- 8 Offensive Guard brigades 'fully formed,' others in progress
- US believes Russia has suffered 100,000 casualties in 5 months
- CBC: 2 Canadians killed in Bakhmut
- Parliament extends martial law, defines Russia's regime as 'ruscism'
Ukraine's new Offensive Guard force has "fully formed" eight assault brigades and will put them under the command of the Armed Forces, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said.
"We have plans to create additional brigades because there is a demand for it, and we have the capabilities," Klymenko said in an interview with Interfax-Ukraine news agency, published on May 2.
The Offensive Guard is an initiative launched in February 2023 by Ukraine's National Guard to initially train eight fresh brigades made up of both experienced soldiers and newcomers.
Klymenko said these formed brigades would be equipped with new Western arms and receive training, which takes up to three weeks.
Mentioning security concerns, the minister hasn't specified the total number of planned assault brigades intended.
"The success of the operation in a particular direction will depend on every brigade, every unit, and every military service member and police officer," Klymenko said.
In the coming weeks, Ukraine is reportedly preparing to launch an anticipated counteroffensive, led by fresh brigades armed with Western-provided armored vehicles.
Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said on national television on April 19 that "complex measures" of Ukraine's planned counteroffensive are "already underway" in the east.
The U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on May 2 that Ukraine's success on the battlefield is "the best way" for Kyiv to initiate talks with Moscow.
"We know that the Ukrainians are contemplating a counteroffensive in the weeks to come. Let's see what happens with that. And ultimately, its success on the battlefield is the best way and probably the quickest way to actually get to a negotiation that produces a just and durable peace," Blinken told Fox News.
He added that the U.S. is open to any peace talks that involve Ukraine maintaining its territorial integrity.
Martial law extended
Ukraine's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, has voted to extend martial law and mobilization for another 90 days, lawmaker Yaroslav Zhelezniak (Voice party) said on May 2.
Now, the martial law will continue until Aug. 18 and is likely to be extended once again.
This is the seventh time since the start of the full-scale Russian invasion that the parliament has voted to extend martial law imposed on Feb. 24, 2022.
Under martial law, Ukrainian men between the ages of 18–60, with some exceptions, are not allowed to leave the country, while curfews have been imposed throughout Ukraine.
The parliament has also condemned Russia's regime's ideological bases and social practices, recognizing it as "totalitarian and hateful."
In addition, the parliament has adopted a statement that defined the current Russian political regime as "ruscism," Zhelezniak said, codifying a popular Ukrainian term that combines the words "Russia" and "fascism" when referring to the current Russian regime.
The parliament called on the UN, the European Parliament, the PACE, OSCE, NATO, foreign governments, and parliaments to recognize the existing political regime in Russia as criminal.
The Battle of Bakhmut grinds Russian troops down
The U.S. intelligence estimated that Russia had suffered 100,000 military casualties in the last five months in Donetsk Oblast's Bakhmut area and elsewhere in Ukraine.
The White House National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby said on May 1 the estimated number includes over 20,000 Russian troops killed in action, half of which are the Wagner Group's mercenaries.
"Russia's attempt at a winter offensive in the Donbas largely through Bakhmut has failed," Kirby said, as cited by Reuters, adding that the Russian forces did make some incremental gains in Bakhmut at a "terrible, terrible cost."
Ukraine's forces still hold some positions in Bakhmut after a nine-months-long battle for the city.
CBC News reported on May 1 that two Canadians, members of Ukraine's International Legion, have been killed in action near Bakhmut.
The killed soldiers were Kyle Porter, 27, from Calgary, Alberta, and Cole Zelenco, 21, from St. Catharines in Ontario, according to the report.
Porter told CBC News before his death that the conditions on the front line were like a "meat grinder."
CBC News estimates that five Canadians had been killed in Russia's war since the beginning of the full-scale invasion in February 2022.
Bakhmut, Lyman, Avdiivka, and Marinka in Donetsk Oblast remain the primary targets of Russia's offensive operations as Moscow attempts to increase its grasp over the entire eastern region, around half of which it currently occupies.
Ukraine's forces repelled over 20 Russian attacks in these areas on May 2, the General Staff reported in its 6 p.m. update.
According to the military, Bakhmut and Marinka, a small industrial town north of Russian-occupied Donetsk, remain the epicenters of Russian attacks.
ULand Forces Commander, Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, reported on May 2 that a "number of necessary decisions aimed at ensuring effective defense and inflicting maximum losses" on the Russian troops were made during his visit to the front-line town of Bakhmut.
Apart from Donetsk Oblast, on May 2, Russian forces attacked Luhansk, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Dnipropetrovsk, Kherson, Sumy, and Chernihiv oblasts with missiles and artillery, the General Staff reported.
Collaborator reportedly injured in Melitopol explosion
A Russian proxy police commander in occupied Melitopol in Zaporizhzhia Oblast was injured in an explosion near his house, Russian state media reported on May 2.
The unnamed top Russian proxy in the occupied region has been hospitalized, according to the report.
Another Russian state news agency, TASS, later reported that the collaborator's name was Oleksandr Mishchenko. He is a Russian proxy police deputy chief in the occupied region, according to the report.
However, according to the exiled Melitopol Mayor Ivan Fedorov, Mishchenko was killed in a different explosion on April 27. Although not present in Melitopol, Fedorov has been frequently giving updates about the events in the city, citing his sources on the ground.
The May 2 explosion was heard in Melitopol in the early morning, Fedorov reported.
"Immediately after" the explosion, police, and an ambulance "raced through the streets," he said.
Fedorov, who lives in Ukrainian-controlled territory, said that Ukrainians can "expect good news," suggesting that the explosion was the work of local Ukrainian partisans targeting Russian collaborators.
Melitopol has been under Russian occupation since late February 2022.
Explosions are regularly occurring in Meltipol and other Russian-occupied territories where partisan movement is active. Aside from Russian troops, explosions often target local collaborators.
Melitopol is an important rail hub that links Russia to occupied Crimea.