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Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 375: Mariinka, a city in Donetsk Oblast completely destroyed

Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 375: Mariinka, a city in Donetsk Oblast completely destroyed
Article by: Zarina Zabrisky

Ukraine might be setting conditions for a controlled fighting withdrawal from parts of Bakhmut. Russian authorities continued efforts to portray Russia as the only safe operator of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP). The city of Mariinka in Donetsk Oblast completely destroyed by Russians.

Daily overview — Summary report, March 5

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 18.00 pm, March 5, 2023 is in the dropdown menu below:

Situation in Ukraine. March 03, 2023. Source: ISW.

 
Day 375 of the russian full-scale invasion has begun.
During the day of March 4, the adversary launched 6x missile and 24x air strikes, over 65x MLRS attacks, including on civilian infrastructure. The attacks have killed and wounded civilians.
The threat of missile attacks by the russian federation across Ukraine remains high.
The enemy is focusing its main efforts on the offensive operations on Kup’yans’k, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Shakhtars’ke axes. During the day of March 4, Ukrainian defenders repelled more than 130x adversary attacks on the above axes.
Kharkiv Battle Map. March 3, 2023. Source: ISW.
Volyn, Polissya, Sivershchyna, and Slobozhanshchyna axes: no significant changes, no offensive groups of the adversary were found. The enemy shelled the settlements of Bachivs’k, Ulanove, Kucherivka, Bilokopytove, Starykove, Khodyne, Ryzhivka, Atyns’ke, Holyshivs’ke, Pavlivka, and Sadky (Sumy oblast), and the vicinities of 35x settlements in Kharkiv oblast. These include Veterynarne, Krasne, Ohirtseve, Budarky, Dvorichans’ke, Novomlyns’k, and Dvorichna.
Kup’yans’k and Lyman axes: the adversary conducted offensive operations in the vicinities of Nevs’ke, Serebryans’ke forestry, and Bilohorivka (Luhansk oblast), but was unsuccessful. The invaders fired artillery at the vicinities of settlements near the line of contact. Among them are Hryanykivka, Kyslivka, Pishchane, Krokhmal’ne (Kharkiv oblast), Stel’makhivka, Nevs’ke, Chervonopopivka, Bilohorivka (Luhansk oblast), Terny, Spirne, Fedorivka, and Rozdolivka (Donetsk oblast).
Donetsk Battle Map. March 3, 2023. Source: ISW.
Bakhmut axis: the adversary continues its attempts to encircle the town of Bakhmut. During the day of March 4, Ukrainian defenders repelled numerous attacks in the vicinities of settlements of Vasyukivka, Zaliznyans’ke, Orikhovo-Vasylivka, Dubovo-Vasylivka, Hryhorivka, Ivanivka, and Bakhmut (Donetsk oblast). In particular, Fedorivka, Vasyukivka, Zaliznyans’ke, Orikhovo-Vasylivka, Dubovo-Vasylivka, Hryhorivka, Bohdanivka, Bakhmut, Ivanivske, Stupochky, Predtechyne, Klishchiivka, Kurdyumivka, Druzhba, Oleksandro-Shul’tyne, Ozaryanivka, Dyliivka, Torets’k, Maiors’k, and Pivnichne (Donetsk oblast) came under enemy fire.
Avdiivka and Shakhtars’ke axes: the adversary launched unsuccessful attacks at the positions of Ukrainian troops near the settlements of Kam’yanka, Sjeverne, Vodyane, Pervomais’ke, Nevel’s’ke, Krasnohorivka, Mar’inka, and Pobjeda. The enemy fired artillery and mortars in the vicinities of more than 30x settlements. In particular, Novobakhmutivka, Ocheretyne, Berdychiv, Vodyane, Pervomais’ke, Maksymil’yanivka, Pobjeda, Novomykhailivka, Novoukrainka, and Velyka Novosilka.
Zaporizhzhia Battle Map. March 3, 2023. Source: ISW.
Zaporizhzhia and Kherson axes: the adversary is on the defensive, attempting to improve its tactical position to resume the offensive. The invaders fired artillery at the vicinities of more than 40x settlements. Among them are Ol’hivs’ke, Hulyaipole, Zaliznychne, Bilohir’ya, Kam’yans’ke (Zaporizhzhia oblast), Beryslav, Olhivka, L’vove, Mykil’s’ke, Dniprovs’ke (Kherson oblast), and the city of Kherson, as well as the town of Ochakiv (Mykolaiv oblast).
Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. March 3, 2023. Source: ISW.
The attacks have killed and wounded civilians.
In the town of Nova Kakhovka (Kherson oblast), the occupiers are using civilians as human shields. In particular, in order to shoot down the means of destruction intended for enemy military targets, the occupation forces place their air defense systems among the residential areas of the town.
The russian occupation army is losing control of the so-called “Cossack battalions” on the battlefield. In particular, command of enemy Cossack battalion “Steppe/Tiger” that is active in the vicinity of Vuhledar, is extremely dissatisfied with the leadership of the russian Armed Forces. The battalion neglects interaction with other units of the russian occupation army.
During the day of March 4, the Ukrainian Air Force launched 18x air strikes on the concentrations of occupants’ personnel and military equipment, as well as 2x air strikes on anti-aircraft missile systems, 1x on the ammunition depot of the enemy, and 1x on a road bridge. Also, Ukrainian defenders shot down 4x reconnaissance and combat UAVs of various types.
During the day of March 4, missile and artillery units hit 3x concentrations of the adversary, 2x positions of anti-aircraft missile systems, and 2x electronic warfare stations of the enemy.

Military Updates

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst.

Ukraine SOF commander inspected units defending Donetsk’s Bakhmut. The commander of Ukraine’s Special Operations Forces (SSO), Viktor Khorenko, inspected the work of subordinate units that defend Bakhmut and are involved in combat activities in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, the SSO Command reported. The report doesn’t directly claim that he has visited the besieged city of Bakhmut, but implies it.

Invisible heroes: how deminers in Ukraine tackle dangerous fields on liberated lands

The threat of Kinzhal hypersonic missile strikes remains high, Ukrainian military says. Despite of destruction of a Russian airborne early warning and control aircraft Beriev A-50 by BYHOL Belarusian anti-government activists, there is still a threat of Kinzhal hypersonic missile strikes, the spokesman of Ukraine’s Air Force Command, Colonel Yuriy Ihnat, said. Beriev A-50, capable of detecting air defense systems, aircraft, missiles, and other incoming projectiles, usually took off from Russian airfield Machulishchy in Belarus with MiG-31K fighter jets, which have been the reason for recent air alarms in Ukraine.

Russia employs new 1,500-kg gliding bomb in Ukraine – Defense Express. Referring to its undisclosed sources, Defense Express says Russia’s first use of the new 1.5-ton UPAB-1500B gliding bomb was recorded “a few weeks ago against one of the objects in Chernihiv Oblast” as the marking on one of the pieces of debris corresponds to UPAB-1500B. The 1.500-kilogram bomb UPAB-1500B was first shown at the MAKS-2019 exhibition in Russia. Five-meter long and having a diameter of 0.4 meters, the bomb is designed to hit highly protected objects at a range of up to 40 km. Weighing 1,525 kg, the guided bomb carries a 1,010 kg concrete-piercing high-explosive (HE) warhead coupled with a combined navigation unit and a contact fuse with three time delay modes. The munition can be dropped from an altitude of up to 15 km at a range of up to 50 km with a circular error possible (CEP) of up to 10 meters.

According to British Defence Intelligence, (last 48 hours): 

  • In late February 2023, Russian mobilised reservists described being ordered to assault a Ukrainian concrete strong point armed with only ‘firearms and shovels’. The ‘shovels’ are likely entrenching tools being employed for hand-to-hand combat.
  • The lethality of the standard-issue MPL-50 entrenching tool is particularly mythologised in Russia. Little changed since it was designed in 1869, its continued use as a weapon highlights the brutal and low-tech fighting which has come to characterise much of the war. One of the reservists described being ‘neither physically nor psychologically’ prepared for the action.

 

  • Recent evidence suggests an increase in close combat in Ukraine. This is probably a result of the Russian command continuing to insist on offensive action largely consisting of dismounted infantry, with less support from artillery fire because Russia is short of munitions.

Losses of the Russian army 

Losses of Russian Army. Sources: Euromaidan Press.

Russia’s casualties in Ukraine near 200,000 – Commander of NATO forces in Europe. 200,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded in the war in Ukraine, says Supreme Commander of the Joint NATO Forces in Europe General Christopher Cavoli. According to him, since 24 February, Russia has also lost over 2,000 tanks and spends over 23,000 artillery shells daily.

Humanitarian 

The city of Mariinka in Donetsk Oblast lies in ruins after repeated assaults by Russian forces.

 

EU, Ukraine to sign agreement on Joint Investigation Team to persecute Russian crimes in Ukraine. The EU and Ukraine will sign an amended agreement on the Joint Investigation Team during the United for Justice Conference in Lviv, President of the European Commission Ursula von Leyen said. The agreement will facilitate the set up of the new International Centre for Prosecution of the crime of Aggression within its structure.

Ukraine identifies 171 sexual crimes committed by Russian Army – First Lady of Ukraine. Ukraine law enforcement agencies have identified 171 sexual crimes committed by Russian troops. However, the actual number of victims is substantially higher, First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska said during the United for Justice conference in Lviv, Suspilne reported. Among the victims of sexual violence are women, 39 men, and 13 children, including one boy. “We know about the crimes only because these people found the strength to speak. We don’t know how many people suffer in silence in occupied territories,” she said.

Crimean artist tortured into ‘apologising’ to Putin and Russian invaders of Ukraine. Bohdan Ziza [Azizov] has confirmed that the supposed ‘confession’ that he made in May 2022 in occupied Crimea was extracted through torture.  The one shown on Russian and occupation TV was, in fact, one of at least five that Russia’s FSB tortured out of the Yevpatoria artist while holding him incommunicado.

Support

German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall wants to build a tank factory in Ukraine. The German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall wants to build a tank factory in Ukraine, and is now negotiating with Kyiv about setting up the Panther KF51 tank production facility, the German newspaper Rheinische Post reported.

UK doubled the number of Challenger 2 tanks pledged to Ukraine – Ukrainian Ambassador. In his interview with the Donbas.Realii project of the Ukrainian service of Radio Liberty, Ukrainian Ambassador to Great Britain Vadym Prystaiko said regarding the Challenger 2 tanks that the UK “promised 14 tanks, and as a result of President Zelenskyy’s visit, it was agreed to double that number.” Zelenskyy visited the UK on 8 February. UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace previously said the British tank would arrive in Ukraine “before summer.”

New Developments 

Top 10 YouTube channels and podcasts for insights into Russia’s war in Ukraine

Despite claimed openness for peace talks, Russia still pursues maximalist goals – Canada’s intel. In its latest report based on the Canadian Forces Intelligence Command analysis, the Canadian Armed Forces say that Russia continues demonstrating a commitment to its maximalist war aims despite Russia’s professed openness to negotiations.

Western leaders want Ukraine to win but Russia not to suffer defeat, two desires that can’t be squared, Skobov says

Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of  March 4, 2022:

Ukrainian forces appear to be setting conditions for a controlled fighting withdrawal from parts of Bakhmut. Russian forces have been fighting to take Bakhmut, a city with a pre-war population of roughly 70,000 people, since roughly May 2022 and have suffered devastating casualties in the process. Geolocated footage posted on March 3 confirms that Ukrainian troops have destroyed two critical bridges in the Bakhmut area—one across the Bakhmutivka River in northeastern Bakhmut and one along the Khromove-Bakhmut route just west of Bakhmut.[1] The preemptive destruction of bridges is likely an indicator that Ukrainian troops may seek to inhibit Russian movement in eastern Bakhmut and limit potential westward Russian egress routes out of Bakhmut. Ukrainian Presidential Advisor Oleksandr Rodnyanskyi previously stated on February 28 that Ukrainian forces could choose to pull back from positions in Bakhmut as needed.[2] Rodnyanskyi also noted that Ukraine has fortified the area west of Bakhmut such that even if Ukrainian troops begin to withdraw, Russian forces would not necessarily be able to rapidly take the entire city.[3] If the Ukrainian military command deems it necessary to withdraw from Bakhmut it will likely conduct a limited and controlled withdrawal from particularly difficult sectors of eastern Bakhmut judging from Ukrainian statements and reported Ukrainian actions. ISW will continue to monitor the situation and offer updated assessments of the implications of possible Russian courses of action if and when Ukrainian forces begin to pull back.

Russian officials continued to release limited information about the March 2 incursion in Bryansk Oblast but failed to provide clarity about what actually transpired.  Russian State Duma Deputy Alexander Khinshtein claimed on March 2 that a Russian National Guard (Rosgvardia) vehicle ran over a mine while clearing the area near Sushany, Bryansk Oblast, and four personnel sustained minor injuries.[4] Russian authorities previously claimed that the perpetrators mined the area before leaving.[5] The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) released edited footage of the purported aftermath on March 3 that shows two civilian cars with substantial damage from bullet holes and deceased drivers as well as man-portable military equipment and mines, all supposedly in the Bryansk Oblast border area.[6] The footage largely lacks any identifying features of the area that could verify the FSB’s claims and has not been geolocated. The head of the Russian Volunteer Corps, which claimed responsibility for the incursion, claimed on March 3 that Ukrainian officials greenlit the incursion.[7] The Russian Investigative Committee did not corroborate the Volunteer Corps’ claim, instead announcing that it has initiated an investigation into the actions of “Ukrainian saboteurs.”[8] Russian officials and milbloggers made additional claims accusing Western states of direct involvement in the incursion. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed that the perpetrators used NATO-provided weapons during the incursion and accused NATO states of being “accomplices” to the operation.[9] State-run media outlet RT amplified a milblogger claim that the Russian Volunteer Corps has indirect affiliations with the UK via the Azov Regiment and accused the UK of involvement.[10] ISW remains unable to confirm any of the Russian or Russian Volunteer Corps’ claims about what actually occurred on the ground.

Russian President Vladimir Putin did not address the reported situation in Bryansk Oblast in the readout of an emergency meeting with the Russian Security Council on March 3. Russian sources widely claimed that Putin held the meeting to discuss anti-terrorist security measures in response to the Bryansk incident, but the readout of the meeting instead recycled a number of tired Kremlin talking points and did not use this platform to introduce any new objectives or means for Russian military operations in Ukraine.[11] Putin did use the speech to outline new, albeit limited, support measures for Russian soldiers serving in Ukraine and announced that all families of soldiers killed in Ukraine will receive the standard insurance coverage provided for by law, a one-time lump sum allowance of 7.4 million rubles (98,143 USD).[12] Putin also called for “appropriate payments” for those wounded in Ukraine in the form of insurance payments and one-time injury payments.[13] Putin continues to use public appearances to expand promises of social support for existing servicemembers, potentially to quell domestic discontent and incentivize those already fighting, but does so instead of articulating specific goals or outlining additional resources or measures to be taken for the future of the war.

Russian authorities continued efforts to portray Russia as the only safe operator of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP), likely to constrain the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) presence at the ZNPP and compel the de facto recognition of Russian ownership of the ZNPP. Advisor to the head of Russian nuclear energy operator Rosenergoatom, Renat Karchaa, claimed that Ukrainian personnel used a machine gun to fire at the Russian personnel during a rotation of IAEA personnel stationed at the ZNPP on March 2.[14] Karchaa also claimed that the Russian security personnel tripped several mines while escorting the IAEA personnel. The IAEA has not corroborated Karchaa’s claim, instead characterizing the March 2 personnel rotation as “successful” after previously delaying the rotation for over a month due to security concerns.[15] IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi reported that the final remaining backup power line to the ZNPP was damaged for the third time in a week on March 1, which the IAEA contingent at the ZNPP characterized as “likely because of shelling on the other side of the Dnipro River.”[16] Ukrainian nuclear energy operator Energoatom reported on March 3 that Russian forces have established machine gun firing positions and erected sandbag fortifications at ZNPP facilities.[17] ISW has extensively reported on Russian efforts to militarize the ZNPP, including prior footage confirming that Russian forces have stored military equipment, including ammunition, armored personnel carriers, anti-aircraft guns, and other armaments on the ZNPP grounds.[18]

Key Takeaways

  • Ukrainian forces appear to be setting conditions for a controlled fighting withdrawal from parts of Bakhmut.
  • Russian officials continued to release limited information about the March 2 incursion in Bryansk Oblast but failed to provide clarity about what actually transpired.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin did not address the reported situation in Bryansk Oblast in an emergency meeting with the Russian Security Council according to the meeting’s readout.
  • Russian authorities continued efforts to portray Russia as the only safe operator of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP), likely to constrain the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) presence at the ZNPP and compel the de facto recognition of Russian ownership of the ZNPP.
  • Russian forces continued offensive operations along the Kupiansk-Svatove-Kreminna line.
  • Russian forces continued ground attacks along the Donetsk Oblast front line as Ukrainian forces appeared to prepare for a controlled withdrawal from at least parts of Bakhmut.
  • The Kremlin continues efforts to increase government oversight of the Russian defense industrial base (DIB).
  • Russian occupation authorities continue to prepare occupied territories for the September 10 Russian regional elections.

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