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Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 394: EU leaders support the creation of a special tribunal for Russia

Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 394: EU leaders support the creation of a special tribunal for Russia
Article by: Hans Petter Midttun

EU leaders support the creation of a special tribunal for Russia. Zelenskyy Suggests “Peace Plan Summit.” Five Russian drones strike Kryvyi Rih.

Daily overview — Summary report, March 24

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 18.00 pm, March 24, 2023 is in the dropdown menu below:

Situation in Ukraine. March 23, 2023. Source: ISW.


On March 23, the Russian occupiers launched 37 air strikes, and 4 missile strikes, 1 of them targeted Kramatorsk. Russian forces also launched 82 MLRS attacks.

The likelihood of missile strikes across Ukraine remains quite high.

The adversary is focusing its main efforts on the offensive operations on Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, Marinka, and Shakhtarske axes. Thanks to their professional and coordinated actions, Ukrainian defenders repelled more than 79 enemy attacks on these axes.

Kharkiv Battle Map. March 23, 2023. Situation in Ukraine. March 23, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Volyn, Polissya, Sivershchyna, and Slobozhanshchyna axes: no significant changes. The Russian Federation continues to maintain a military presence in the territory of the Republic of Belarus. No formation of any offensive groups was found. At the same time, the adversary continued engineering the development of terrain in the border areas of Bryansk and Kursk oblasts (Russia). Russian forces fired mortars and artillery at the vicinities of more than 20 settlements. Among them are: Tymonovychi (Chernihiv oblast), Zaruts’ke, Popivka (Sumy oblast), Morozova Dolyna, Strilecha, Hlyboke, Krasne, Ternova, Starytsya, Zemlyanky, Kreidyanka, Vil’khuvatka, Shev’yakivka, Ambarne, and Bolohivka (Kharkiv oblast).
Donetsk Battle Map. March 23, 2023. Situation in Ukraine. March 23, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Kupiansk and Lyman axes: the adversary fired artillery at the vicinities of Hryanykivka, Kupiansk, Krokhmal’ne, Tabaivka, Terny (Kharkiv oblast), Novoselivs’ke, Stel’makhivka, Makiivka, Nevske, Pishchane, Bilohorivka (Luhansk oblast), Hryhorivka, Verkhn’okam’yans’ke, and Spirne (Donetsk oblast) during March 23.
Bakhmut Battle Map. March 23, 2023. Situation in Ukraine. March 23, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Bakhmut axis: Russian forces have not stopped their assault on Bakhmut. It was in the vicinity of this city that most of the combat engagements on this axis took place on March 23. Adversary attacks were also repelled in the vicinities of settlements of Orikhovo-Vasylivka, Bohdanivka, and Predtechyne (Donetsk oblast). Russian forces shelled Vasyukivka, Min’kivka, Orikhovo-Vasylivka, Hryhorivka, Bohdanivka, Bakhmut, Ivanivske, Predtechyne, Zalizne, Pivnichne, and New York (Donetsk oblast). In total, more than 15 settlements were affected by these criminal actions of the occupiers.
  • Avdiivka, Mariinka, and Shakhtarske axes: the adversary conducted unsuccessful offensive operations towards the settlements of Novokalynove, Novobakhmutivka, Stepove, Avdiivka, Sjeverne, Pervomais’ke, Mar’inka, and Novomykhailivka (Donetsk oblast). In particular, Novokalynove, Novobakhmutivka, Stepove, Kam’yanka, Avdiivka, Netaylove, Lastochkyne, Krasnohorivka, Heorhiivka, Mar’inka, Vuhledar, Velyka Novosilka, Orlivka, Novomykhailivka, and Prechystivka (Donetsk oblast) came under numerous enemy attacks.
Zaporizhzhia Battle Map. March 23, 2023. Situation in Ukraine. March 23, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Zaporizhzhia and Kherson axes: the adversary continues to defend. At the same time, it carried out intensive shelling, in particular, of Ol’hivs’ke, Malynivka, Chervone, Hulyaipole, Zaliznychne, Charivne, Bilohir’ya, Mala Tokmachka, Novodanylivka, Orikhove, Novoandriivka, Stepove, Kam’yans’ke (Zaporizhzhia oblast), Chervonyi Mayak, Beryslav, L’vove, Novotyahynka, Antonivka, and the city of Kherson (Kherson oblast).
Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. March 23, 2023. Situation in Ukraine. March 23, 2023. Source: ISW.

Military Updates

Due to the significant losses suffered by the occupiers daily, Russian forces decided to increase bed capacity in the hospitals operating in the temporarily occupied territory of Luhansk oblast. In particular, the number of beds in the military hospital in Troitske has been doubled from 200 to 400. At the same time, all wounded officers were evacuated to the territory of the Russian Federation by helicopters between March 17 and 18.

An increase in mortality among the wounded invaders between March 17 and 21 was reported. This was due to an increased number of severe wounds and poor medical care, in particular, due to inadequate professionalism in the medical staff.

[Also, in a number of settlements of the temporarily captured left-bank part of the Kherson region, the invaders began searching for citizens with a pro-Ukrainian position. For this, they use lists of ATO participants, military pensioners, and lists of those who served in law enforcement agencies of Ukraine.]

On March 23, Ukrainian Air Force launched 12 air strikes on the concentrations of personnel and military equipment of the occupiers. Ukrainian defenders also shot down two Kh-59 guided aircraft missiles and 4 UAVs of various types.

At the same time, missile and artillery units hit 1 command post, 1 concentration of manpower, weapons, and military equipment of the adversary, 1 anti-aircraft missile system, and 2 fuel and lubricant depots.

Ukraine says Russia’s Bakhmut assault loses steam, counterstrike coming soon, Reuters reports. “Ukrainian troops, on the defensive for four months, will launch a long-awaited counterassault very soon now that Russia’s huge winter offensive is losing steam without taking Bakhmut, Ukraine’s top ground forces commander said on Thursday. The remarks were the strongest indication yet from Kyiv that it is close to shifting tactics, having absorbed Russia’s onslaught through a brutal winter.

Russia’s Wagner mercenaries are losing considerable strength and are running out of steam, Kyiv’s ground forces commander Oleksandr Syrskyi said in a social media post. Very soon, we will take advantage of this opportunity, as we did in the past near Kyiv, Kharkiv, Balakliya and Kupiansk, he said, listing Ukrainian counteroffensives last year that recaptured swathes of land.”

Air defences intercept two missiles over the Odesa region, Ukrinform reports, citing Air Command South. “On March 23, 2023, at around 21:30, air defence forces of the Air Command South shot down two Kh-59 air-to-surface guided air missiles fired by Russian Su-35 jets from the Black Sea over Odesa region, the report says.

The day before, three guided missiles were launched on the Odesa region. Two of the missiles were intercepted by air defence forces, while one hit a monastery.”

Armed Forces of Ukraine trying to mop up 30km zone of left-bank Kherson region, Ukrinform reports. “So far, we are working to make the enemy feel our presence, our pressure. In particular, as part of the counter-battery confrontation, we are trying to mop up 20-30 km [zone] on the left bank. This is quite a difficult task and it is complicated by the fact that the enemy is constantly shielding itself with civilians, trying to hide its units and equipment bases in the yards of local residents behind residential buildings, Natalia Humeniuk, the head of the joint press center of the Operational Command “South”, said [….].

At the same time, the efforts of the Armed Forces are quite effective. In particular, the number of strikes from Kinburn Spit has decreased significantly as an ammunition supply and storage point was hit. Currently, the invaders do not have powerful support and even land movement is difficult for them as the Armed Forces of Ukraine are trying to keep the isthmus that links the mainland of the left bank with the Kinburn peninsula under fire control.”

Ukroboronprom has repaired more than 3,000 armoured vehicles in combat areas, Ukrinform reports. “Since the first day of the Russian Federation’s full-scale aggression against Ukraine, field repair teams of Ukroboronprom enterprises have restored more than 3,000 vehicles, including more than 1,500 heavy armoured vehicles and the same number of light ones. Some equipment was repaired by our specialists 5-6 times and it still destroys the occupier, the State Concern Ukroboronprom posted on Telegram.

It is noted that field repair crews of Ukroboronprom enterprises restored 1,507 units of heavy armoured vehicles and 1,582 units of light-armoured vehicles in combat areas. Military equipment that can be repaired directly in combat areas should be restored there. According to our calculations, last year we restored 90%-95% of all armoured vehicles right at the front, the report reads.”

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

  • As of mid-March 2023, Russia had likely redeployed at least 1,000 troops who had been training at the Obuz-Lesnovsky training ground in southwestern Belarus.
  • Although no new rotation of troops has been noted, Russia has highly likely left the tented camp in place, suggesting it is considering continuing the training programme.
  • The fact Russia has resorted to training its personnel under the much less-experienced Belarusian army highlights how Russia’s ‘special military operation’ has severely dislocated the Russian military’s training system – instructors have largely been deployed in Ukraine. Russia likely also views Belarus’s continued indirect support to the operation as important political messaging.
  • Since the start of March 2023, heavy fighting has continued in parts of the Svatove-Kremina sector of the front line in northern Luhansk Oblast. Russia has partially regained control over the immediate approaches to Kremina town, which was under immediate Ukrainian threat earlier in the year.
  • In places, Russia has made gains of up to several kilometres. Russian commanders are likely trying to expand a security zone west from the defence lines they have prepared along higher ground, and integrate the natural obstacle of the Oskil River. They likely seek to recapture Kupiansk, a logistics node.
  • Operationally, Russia’s intent in the north-east likely remains defensive. Commanders probably fear this is one of the sectors where Ukraine could attempt major offensive operations.

Losses of the Russian army 

Losses of Russian Army. Sources: Euromaidan Press.

As of Friday 24 March, the approximate losses of weapons and military equipment of the Russian Armed Forces from the beginning of the invasion to the present day:

  • Personnel – about 169170 (+1020)
  • Tanks – 3574 (+4)
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 6921 (+23)
  • Artillery systems – 2616 (+8)
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 511 (+0)
  • Air defence means – 276 (+3)
  • Aircraft – 305 (+0)
  • Helicopters – 290 (+0)
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 5464 (+12)
  • Vessels/boats – 18 (+0)
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 2208 (+5)
  • Special equipment – 277 (+4)
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0)
  • Cruise missiles – 911 (+2)

Mortality rate among wounded Russian soldiers rises, officers being evacuated to Russia, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Ukrainian General Staff. “…all injured officers were evacuated to the territory of Russia by helicopters between 17 and 18 March. In the period from 17 to 21 March, the mortality rate among wounded invaders increased due to an increase in the number of serious wounds and poor medical care, particularly due to insufficiently professional medical personnel. “

The General Staff reported that the Russians are increasing the number of beds in the existing hospitals operating in the temporarily occupied territory of Luhansk Oblast due to the heavy losses the occupiers suffer every day. According to the General Staff, the number of beds in the military hospital in Troitske has been doubled from 200 to 400.”


In liberated territory of Kherson region, over 50 villages almost fully destroyed by enemy, Ukrinform reports, citing the president’s website. “In the liberated territory of the Kherson region, more than 50 villages were almost fully destroyed by the Russian invaders, but people are returning even to such villages. President Volodymyr Zelensky said this in his video address to the nation.

In the free territory of the Kherson region, more than 50 villages were almost completely destroyed by the occupier. In some places, more than 90% of the buildings in the villages are ruined. But even in such villages, people return, and this is proof that life still prevails.

Today I was in one of the largest such villages – Posad-Pokrovske. Once one of the largest, before the invasion of Russia. And we will do everything to make this village one of the largest again – we will do everything to rebuild our territories.

I am grateful to everyone who helps restore the normality of life after the Russian evil. To everyone who, even in such difficult areas, continues to work and give work, to everyone who helps our soldiers.”

Five Russian drones strike Kryvyi Rih, Ukrainska Pravda reports. ”Serhii Lysak, Head of the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast Military Administration, has reported that Russian forces attacked Kryvyi Rih with drones, with five UAVs striking their targets.One Shahed drone was shot down by the military from Air Command East. At the same time, five UAVs struck their targets.


Ukraine’s infrastructure suffered losses worth $143.8M due to Russian armed aggression – KSE, Ukrinform reports, citing Kyiv School of Economics (KSE). ““As of February 2023, the total amount of damage caused by Russia to Ukraine’s infrastructure during the full-scale war has increased by another $6 billion and is now estimated at $143.8 billion (at replacement cost), the report states.

According to the researchers, over 150,000 residential houses were damaged or destroyed after one year of hostilities. The losses from destructions in the housing stock came to $53.6 billion.

In terms of the damage suffered, infrastructure objects were ranked second. The amount of losses in this area after one year of hostilities was estimated at $36.2 billion. Over 25,000 kilometres of public and local roads were destroyed or damaged, as well as 344 bridges and bridge crossings.

The amount of losses suffered by Ukrainian forests came to $4.5 billion.

A total of 3,170 educational institutions were damaged or destroyed, namely about 1,500 secondary schools, 909 pre-school facilities and 528 higher educational institutions. In late February 2023, the amount of losses suffered by Ukraine’s educational sector increased by $300 million and reached $8.9 billion.

Additionally, a total of $8.1 billion worth of losses were recorded in Ukraine’s energy sector. The amount of direct losses inflicted on Ukraine’s agro-industrial complex and land resources rose by $2.1 billion, totaling $8.7 billion.

In February 2023, the amount of damage caused to Ukraine’s transport sector increased significantly. In contrast to late 2022, the number of vehicles damaged or destroyed increased to 223.4 thousand, and the amount of losses came to $3.1 billion.

The area of trade suffered losses worth $2.6 billion and health infrastructure – $1.8 billion.

Meanwhile, the amount of damage caused to Ukraine’s manufacturing industry and enterprises decreased to $11.3 billion in view of the revaluation of the status of enterprises after receiving updated information about the damage to assets caused by shelling. Some enterprises were re-classified and will later be included in the calculations of losses in other economic sectors.”

Ukraine’s reconstruction needs at $411B do not include damage in occupied areas, Ukrinform reports, citing Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal. “Together with the World Bank, we have presented the revised Rapid Damage and Recovery Needs Assessment (RDNA2) today. According to the report, Ukraine’s reconstruction needs increased to $411 billion. […] Currently, this sum does not include the data on the damage caused to infrastructure, housing stock and businesses in the temporarily occupied areas. When the Defense Forces liberate them, we expect that these data will be updated, and the Government will immediately start renovation works within these areas, Shmyhal wrote.

According to the Prime Minister of Ukraine, the second stage of the Rapid Damage and Recovery Needs Assessment is an important element of Ukraine’s reconstruction strategy. Energy infrastructure, housing, critical infrastructure, economy and humanitarian demining are our five priorities for this year. Some reconstruction works have already been completed, and I am grateful to our partners from the EU, the United States and the World Bank for this, Shmyhal added.”

Lubinets tells UN Assistant Secretary-General about environmental threats posed by Russia’s actions in Ukraine, Ukrinform reports. “Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights Dmytro Lubinets discussed environmental threats posed by Russia’s actions in Ukraine with Asako Okai, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director of UNDP Crisis Bureau.

I pointed to the problem of environmental threats. After all, the lowered water level in the Kakhovka reservoir caused by the actions of the aggressor state increases the risk of an accident at the Zaporizhzhia NPP. In addition, the settlements where the Kakhovka reservoir is a source of drinking water supply may be left without water due to the actions of the Russians, Lubinets said.

During the meeting, the Russians’ violation of the right to proper living conditions and provoked problems in the field of business and children’s rights were discussed. […] As reported, Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights Dmytro Lubinets noted that the deportation of more than 16,000 Ukrainian children to the Russian Federation had been confirmed, while the actual number of deportees may reach hundreds of thousands.”

DTEK preparing mines to provide TPPs with coal next winter, Ukrinform reports, citing DTEK. “Coal mining is not a quick process. Therefore, it is necessary to work now, so that thermal power plants are provided with the resources required for their operation during winter. For this purpose, DTEK Energy has put into service six new longwalls since the beginning of the year, the report states.

According to the company, this will help to maintain the pace of coal production that is needed to ensure the stable performance of Ukrainian TPPs. As last year, miners will be working to the maximum, so that Ukraine can pass through the next, no less difficult, heating season, DTEK added. In 2022, DTEK Energy’s coal mining enterprises put into service 28 new longwalls.

A reminder that DTEK has launched maintenance works at thermal power units and is planning to repair 28 objects by the end of 2023.”

This is only the beginning: ICC to open office in Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing press service of Prosecutor General’s Office. “Andrii Kostin, Prosecutor General of Ukraine, and Peter Lewis, Secretary of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, signed a treaty about opening a representative office of ICC in Ukraine.

This is only the beginning, but this beginning has weight to it. I am convinced we will not stop until all those guilty of international crimes committed against Ukraine are prosecuted. Kostin stated that Ukraine counts on further cooperation in investigation of Russia’s crimes and prosecution of those who committed them, including the top military and political leadership of the aggressor state.”

Russian leaders could be tried in absentia for aggression in Ukraine -Kyiv official, Reuters reports. “Russian leaders should be put on trial for the invasion of Ukraine even if they cannot be arrested and brought to court in person, Kyiv’s top prosecutor said on Thursday. Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin, speaking to Reuters during a stopover in The Hague where the International Criminal Court is based, said that a planned tribunal for the crime of aggression should hold so-called trials in absentia.

Kostin spoke after meeting with the chief ICC prosecutor, which last week issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing him and his children’s commissioner of the war crime of deporting children from Ukraine to Russia. […]

While the ICC can prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Ukraine, it cannot prosecute the crime of aggression due to legal constraints. International support is growing for the creation of a special tribunal that would prosecute Russian leaders for the 13-month-old invasion itself, considered by Ukraine and Western leaders to be a crime of aggression.

The special tribunal should go after the highest political and military leadership, including Putin, for the crime of aggression, Kostin said. I believe that it could be (held) in absentia, because it’s important to deliver a matter of justice for international crimes even if perpetrators are not in the dock. International courts very rarely hold trials in absentia and the ICC’s rules state specifically that an accused suspect shall be present during trial. […]

In a gesture of defiance, Russia’s top investigative body said on Monday it had opened a criminal case against the ICC prosecutor and judges who issued an arrest warrant for Putin, which Moscow has called outrageous and legally void. […]

Kostin also said that his office is collecting evidence of the most difficult crime to prove, genocide, for which it must be shown that there was an intent to eliminate a specific group in whole or in part. He said the crimes documented so far, including murders, torture, sexual violence, shelling of civilian targets and illegal detentions, were at least equal to the crimes against humanity and have been documented across the territories occupied by Russia.”

Iceland’s Parliament Recognises Holodomor as Genocide of Ukrainians, European Pravda reports. “The Parliament of Iceland on Thursday unanimously recognised the Holodomor of 1932-1933 as genocide of the Ukrainian people. […] Having supported the resolution today, Iceland joins the group of countries which declared the Holodomor a genocide of Ukrainians – the United States, Germany, Ireland and Canada. […]

On March 10, the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of the Belgian Parliament,  recognised the Holodomor as genocide against the Ukrainian people. On 15 December, the European Parliament recognised the Holodomor as genocide.”


We Have Few Options Left for Military Assistance to Ukraine — Czechia’s President, European Pravda reports, citing Süddeutsche Zeitung. “The Czech Republic has been helping Ukraine with arms supplies as much as possible, but it only has a few options for further assistance. According to President Petr Pavel, the Czech Republic has already given Ukraine everything it could. He still sees some opportunities in air defence and ammunition.

Pavel considers Germany’s decision to send to Ukraine Leopard 2 tanks a very good step. This has opened the door for all other countries. For a successful offensive, the Ukrainians now need tanks, armoured vehicles, artillery, anti-aircraft defences and lots and lots of ammunition, he said.

The MiG-29 fighters, which will move from Poland and Slovakia to Ukraine, will also help. Every plane is important. I have no idea what we can do next, the Czech president said. He added that sending Western aircraft would be a logical step in the long term.”

Ukrainians say Russian drones pose growing threat, more Stingers needed, Reuters reports. “Russian forces are increasingly using drones in aerial battles over the fiercely contested city of Bakhmut, but the threat of fighter jets and helicopters remains and more Western weapons are needed to counter them, Ukrainian soldiers said. […]

The work of (regular) aviation has decreased. I cannot say that it has disappeared altogether, but it has decreased. Maybe it is due to the fact that we are working well. Kamin, 42, showed Reuters some of the shoulder-held weapons the unit has used to reduce the threat of plane and helicopter attacks on frontline Ukrainian positions. The main task for us is not necessarily to hit the plane but to let the pilot know that we are here, he said in a cramped control room inside a small bungalow. If we launch something at them then they are afraid, and there is a big difference between them firing a missile from a plane from one to two kilometres and six to seven kilometres. […]

According to Kamin, the unit did not have enough anti-drone guns to help protect them from a growing threat, while the Russians appeared to have many more. […] Drones are an increasingly important part of Ukraine’s military plans with the full-scale war well into a second year. While Russia has far greater resources – both in terms of soldiers and equipment – Kyiv believes drone innovation is one area where it can begin to catch up with Moscow.

Now it is a war of drones, Kamin said. The Russians used reconnaissance drones, but now they are also using more drones that are carrying weapons. Despite the growing focus on UAVs, Kamin urged Western allies to supply more anti-aircraft weapons, including US Stingers, which he said he was running out of.”

Russian artillery and air defense systems must be destroyed preventively, Ukrinform reports. “Enemy air defence systems and rocket artillery must be destroyed preventively. For this, Ukraine needs modern Western-made aircraft. They must be destroyed preventively, namely by all long-range weapons. There is, of course, counter-battery fight, in which M142 HIMARS is used, for example. But if we had powerful aircraft, capable of launching long-range strikes with the systems that modern Western aircraft have, then we would destroy the enemy on long distances more effectively, Yuriy Ihnat, Spokesperson for the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said.

Currently, according to the spokesman, Ukraine uses Western AGM-88 HARM missiles, which are installed on old Soviet aircraft, to counter enemy air defense. These missiles are installed on Soviet fighters but, unfortunately, because of this, they do not have the full functionality that they would have if they were launched from F-16 aircraft. Then HARMs would work at longer ranges and more accurately, destroying a bigger number of enemy air defence systems, the Air Force Spokesperson said.

He also explained that equipping old aircraft with Western missiles is a difficult and expensive process. This aviation equipment is obsolete. Therefore, it is not profitable to invest so much money and time in it. A minor modernization of these aircraft was carried out, namely: the communication system was adapted to NATO standards, GPS navigation and identification friend or foe system were improved. For wartime, these are not significant changes. It would be necessary to replace half of an aircraft and put on-board radar systems to adapt our MiG-29s to Western weapons. Then we could install cruise missiles, guided aerial bombs, and even missiles like Harpoon, Ihnat added.”

Ukraine needs boats to strengthen its presence at sea, Ukrinform reports. “Ukraine should strengthen its presence at sea, therefore, even boats are of great importance for the security of our country. As reported, on February 16, Sweden handed over six boats to Ukraine to restore transport links in the liberated territories.”

Slovakia transfers first four MiG-29 fighters to Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing a statement on the website of the Slovak Ministry of Defence. “Slovakia has handed over the first four MiG-29 fighters to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The fighter jets were deployed by Ukrainian pilots with the assistance of the Slovak Air Force and Ukrainian personnel. […] The remaining aircraft will be handed over to Ukraine in the coming weeks, but the ministry does not provide any details for operational reasons.

Their transfer will be confirmed as soon as they are safely handed over to the Ukrainian side, as in this case. […] On 17 March, the Slovak government, at an extraordinary online meeting, decided to transfer 13 MiG-29 fighters to Ukraine. Bratislava announced its decision the day after Polish President Andrzej Duda announced the supply of four MiG-29s to Ukraine in the coming days. Thus, two NATO states have publicly promised to provide Ukraine with combat aircraft.”

Finland to Send Three Leopard 2 Tanks to Ukraine, European Pravda reports. “As reported by the Finnish outlet MTV, Leopard 2 will be sent as a part of the 14th military assistance package. The decision was approved by Finnish President Sauli Niinisto today on the government’s proposal.

Earlier, Finland had already decided to hand over three Leopard 2 mine clearing tanks to Ukraine, including training related to their use and maintenance. It means that in total Finland will hand over six Leopard 2 vehicles to Ukraine.”

Spain to send six Leopard 2A4 tanks to Ukraine by end of next week, Ukrinform reports. “The first six modern Leopard 2A4 battle tanks will be sent to Ukraine by the end of next week, the Spanish Ministry of Defense said this in a statement on Thursday. […] The six Leopard 2A4 tanks have been undergoing final checks at a weapons factory near Seville in southern Spain. […] As reported, on Monday, dozens of Ukrainian military personnel completed a four-week training in Spain on how to operate the Leopard 2A4 battle tank.”

Ukrainian soldiers near finish of Patriot missile training in Oklahoma, Military Times reports. “The Patriot missile system, which hasn’t yet been deployed in Ukraine, is particularly useful for defending population centers and critical infrastructure, said Brig. Gen. Shane Morgan, Fort Sill’s commanding general. The [Ukrainian] soldiers are expected to leave Oklahoma in the next several days for additional training in Germany before they deploy to Ukraine with a Patriot missile battery that typically includes six mobile launchers, a mobile radar, a power generator and an engagement control center.

Military officials did not provide an exact timeline for when the missile battery will deploy to Ukraine. But a Pentagon spokesman said it will be quicker than initially planned. […] Although Army officials acknowledge they faced initial challenges overcoming a language barrier, Morgan said the Ukrainian soldiers learned quickly and were handpicked because of their air defense experience.

Our assessment is that the Ukrainian soldiers are impressive and absolutely a quick study due to their extensive air defense knowledge and experience in a combat zone, Morgan said. It was easier, though never easy, for them to grasp the Patriot system’s operation and maintenance concepts.”

8 Ukrainian battalions are about to finish combined arms training on Western IFV and field artillery, Politico reports. “At the same time as the Ukrainian air defenders are finishing Patriot training, hundreds of their colleagues are in Germany completing other advanced courses. Roughly 2,500 Ukrainian soldiers — enough to operate one “mechanized” Bradley Fighting Vehicle battalion, three Stryker battalions, one field artillery battalion and a brigade staff — are conducting combined arms training at the Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels areas. That includes instruction on basic soldier tasks such as marksmanship as well as how to operate as a unit.

An additional 1,400 — two mechanized/Bradley battalions and one field artillery battalion — have already completed that training and are back in Ukraine right now on the front lines, O’Donnell said.”

EU to provide military, economic and political support to Ukraine for as long as it takes, Ukrinform reports, citing the European Council conclusions on Ukraine, published on its website. “The European Union stands firmly and fully with Ukraine and will continue to provide strong political, economic, military, financial and humanitarian support to Ukraine and its people for as long as it takes, the document says. The European leaders noted that the European Union and Member States are increasing their efforts to help meet Ukraine’s pressing military and defence needs.

Taking into account the security and defence interests of all Member States, the European Council welcomes the agreement in the Council to urgently deliver ground-to-ground and artillery ammunition to Ukraine and, if requested, missiles, including through joint procurement and the mobilisation of appropriate funding, the document says. […]

At the same time, the European Union remains committed to supporting Ukraine’s repair, recovery, and reconstruction, in coordination with international partners. In this context, the European Council reiterates the EU’s full support for establishing an international mechanism to register the damages Russia has inflicted.

Together with partners, the European Union will continue to step up work towards the use of Russia’s frozen and immobilised assets for Ukraine’s reconstruction and for the purposes of reparation, in accordance with EU and international law, the document says.

The European Council welcomed Ukraine’s commitment and reform efforts, and underlined the importance of Ukraine’s EU accession process, in line with its earlier conclusions, notably those of 23-24 June 2022.”

ECB pressures Austria’s Raiffeisen bank to quit Russia -sources, Reuters reports. “The European Central Bank is pressing Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank International to unwind its highly profitable business in Russia, five people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters. […]

The push from Washington and the ECB is upping the stakes for Austria and its second-biggest bank, which plays a key role in the Russian economy but also an increasingly contested one as Moscow’s year-long war in Ukraine drags on. Many Western companies, including French bank Societe Generale, have already left Russia.

While the ECB is not asking Raiffeisen to leave the country immediately, it wants a plan of action for unwinding the business, two of the people said. One person said such a plan could include the sale or closure of its Russian bank. […] Raiffeisen, however, does not intend to present such a plan yet, the people said, and some Austrian government officials see the moves as unwarranted foreign meddling. […]

ECB officials are reluctant to pressure Raiffeisen into an immediate sale, fearing the financial hit it could trigger, one person said, after a week of global banking turmoil.

New Developments

  1. Any attempt to arrest Putin would be declaration of war on Russia – Russia’s former president, Ukrainska PravdaDmitry Medvedev, Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation and former Russian president, stated that the competence of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for Russia is worthless, adding that a situation involving the arrest of the Russian president by the decision of the ICC would mean a declaration of war against Russia.”
  2. Hungarian top official says Putin will not be arrested if he comes to Hungary, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Reuters citing Gergely Gulyás, Chief of Staff to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, on 23 March. “Hungary will not arrest the Russian leader if he comes to the country, despite the arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC). […] Hungary has only formally endorsed the Rome Statute but has not changed its legislation to implement it.”
  3. EU leaders support creation of tribunal for Russia, UkrinformThe EU is firmly committed to ensuring full accountability for war crimes and the other most serious crimes committed in connection with Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, including through the establishment of an appropriate mechanism for the prosecution of the crime of aggression, which is of concern to the international community as a whole. In this context, the European Council welcomes the agreement to create the new International Centre for Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine (ICPA) in The Hague, which will be linked to the existing Joint Investigation Team supported by Eurojust, reads the European Council’s conclusions published on its website. At the same time, the European Council reiterates its support for the investigations of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.”
  4. Zelenskyy tells Europe to give more military aid or war could last years, ReutersPresident Zelensky on Thursday urged Europe to increase and speed up its supply of weapons to his country as well as impose additional sanctions on Russia, saying otherwise the war could drag on for years. In a long and sharply worded video address to EU leaders, delivered from a train, a clearly frustrated Zelenskyy said it was up to the 27-nation bloc to take action to contain Russia […]. In particular, he reiterated demands for long-range missiles, more ammunition and more modern aircraft […]. If Europe waits, the evil may have time to regroup and prepare for years of war. It is in your power to prevent this, he said.”
  5. Zelenskyy Suggests “Peace Plan Summit” in European Capital, European PravdaPresident Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in his video address to the EU leaders at the summit, has suggested holding a “peace plan summit” in one of the European capitals. […] According to a European official, the essence of Zelenskyy’s message to EU leaders was: “Speed up your delivery of weapons, or else the war will drag on,” the official added. According to The Guardian, Zelenskyy warned European leaders of five factors that could prolong the war, including delays in the delivery of long-range missiles, lack of modern aircraft and weaknesses in western sanctions.”
  6. EU on Medvedev’s “missile threats” to International Criminal Court, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing a statementby High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell. “The European Union expressed its full support to the International Criminal Court (ICC) after threats by the Russian Security Council deputy head, Dmitry Medvedev, to hit the courthouse in The Hague with a hypersonic missile. Borrell said that the EU condemns the illegal threat of a high-ranking representative of Russia to use force against the International Criminal Court and the country where it is located – the Netherlands.”
  7. EU and UN chief discuss Ukraine war, food security and sanctions, ReutersEuropean Union leaders held talks on Thursday with UN chief Antonio Guterres on global food security and sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, and also endorsed a plan to supply more artillery shells to Kyiv. Guterres’ participation in the EU summit came days after the renewalof a deal brokered by the United Nations and Türkiye on the safe export of Ukrainian grain via the Black Sea that is seen as crucial to overcoming a global food crisis.”
  8. Czech President predicts decrease in West support for Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Süddeutsche Zeitung. “Czech President Petr Pavel has said that Ukraine should take into account the decrease of Western support in the future. […] He also mentioned the 2024 US presidential election and the expected focus on domestic politics. If US support decreases, support from a number of European countries will also decrease. Ukraine should take this into account, Pavel noted. Therefore, in Pavel’s opinion, Ukraine will probably not be able to start any large and complex operations in 2024. “This year is crucial for war development,” the Czech president said.”
  9. Turkish parliamentary commission approves Finland’s NATO bid -TRT Haber, ReutersThe Turkish parliament’s foreign affairs commission approved a bill ratifying Finland’s bid to join NATO, state broadcaster TRT Haber reported on Thursday, effectively taking Helsinki another step toward membership of the trans-Atlantic pact. Parliament’s general assembly still needs to approve the bill and is expected to do so before it closes in mid-April, ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections on May 14. […] But Erdogan held off approving the NATO membership bid of Sweden.”
  10. Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate decides not to seek compromises and fight for Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing UOC-MP Synod. “The Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP), affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church, announced its decision to protect the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra “by all legal means”. […] On 10 March, the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra National Reserve informed the monastery of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate that from 29 March 2023, the 10-year-old agreement (dated 19 July 2013) on the rent-free use of religious buildings and other state-owned property will be terminated.”
  11. Raiffeisen Bank International listed among sponsors of war, UkrinformThe National Agency on Corruption Prevention of Ukraine (NACP) has added  the Austrian banking group, Raiffeisen Bank International, to the list of international sponsors of war. […] The NACP included the Austrian banking group, Raiffeisen Bank International, on the list of international sponsors of war for the continuation of the bank’s operations in Russia and the official recognition of the so-called ‘DNR’ and ‘LNR’ through its representative office in Russia, the report states. According to the NACP, Raiffeisen Bank International took advantage of the sanctions that led to the withdrawal of its competitors from the Russian market. In 2022, the bank’s payments to Russia’s state budget were 4.8 times higher compared to the pre-war year.”


  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of  March 23, 2022:

Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks northeast of Kupiansk and along the Svatove-Kreminna line on March 23. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful ground attacks near Synkivka (8km northeast of Kupiansk), Makiivka (22km northwest of Kreminna), Bilohorivka (10km south of Kreminna), and Verkhnokamianske (21km south of Kreminna).  The UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) reported that Russian forces likely aim to capture Kupiansk, expand their security zone westward, and integrate the Oskil River into their defensive lines. Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Serhiy Cherevaty stated that Ukrainian forces have destroyed many pieces of new Russian equipment in the past several weeks as Russian forces use more conventional forces and armored vehicles in the Lyman and Kupiansk directions. Geolocated footage published on March 23 indicates a limited Russian advance southeast of Bilohorivka. A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations near Terny (17km west of Kreminna), Makiivka, and Bilohorivka but advanced toward the Siverskyi Donets River in the Serebrianska forest area (10km south of Kreminna). Another milblogger amplified footage purportedly showing the 331st Airborne Regiment of the 98th Airborne Division operating near Kreminna. […]

Russian forces continue building fortifications in the border areas of Bryansk and Kursk oblasts. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces continue to engineer terrain in Bryansk and Kursk oblasts and conduct unspecified demonstrative actions in Belgorod Oblast in an attempt to prevent the transfer of Ukrainian forces to other areas of the frontline.

Russian forces continued attacking Bakhmut City and its [surroundings] on March 23. Ukrainian Ground Forces Commander Oleksandr Syrskyi stated that Wagner Group elements remain the main Russian force operating in the Bakhmut direction and that they have not yet lost their offensive capabilities. Syrskyi noted that while Wagner forces still have a numerical advantage on the frontline Ukrainian forces continue to exhaust the mercenaries, which will enable Ukrainian forces to pursue unspecified future offensive operations. Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Serhiy Cherevaty stated that Russian and Ukrainian forces made contact 35 times on the entire Bakhmut frontline, 29 of which occurred in the city or its immediate vicinity. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that there are constant positional battles in Bakhmut and that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian assaults northwest of Bakhmut in Oleksandro-Shultyne and Bohdanivka; northeast of Bakhmut in Vasyukivka; and south of Bakhmut in Predtechyne. Russian sources also claimed that Russian forces have completely cleared the industrial zone in northern Bakhmut and are continuing to fight in central and southern Bakhmut. Russian milbloggers claimed that fighting is ongoing southwest of Bakhmut in Ivanivske and that Wagner mercenaries are attacking Krohmalne just northwest of Bakhmut. Geolocated footage posted on March 22 showed Ukrainian forces engaging nearby Russian forces on the western bank of the Bakhmutka River with small arms, which likely indicates that some Russians have forded the river.

Russian forces continued to attack Ukrainian positions around Avdiivka on March 23. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces launched unsuccessful assaults north of Avdiivka in Novokalynove, Stepove, Lastochkyne, and Berdychi; northwest of Avdiivka in Lastochkyne; west of Avdiivka in Sieverne, Vodyane, Nevelske, Pervomaiske; and Avdiivka itself. Russian sources claimed that Russian artillery established fire control over the Ukrainian supply route via Orlivka. Russian sources claimed that Russian forces cleared the western outskirts of Novobakhmutivka (about 12km northeast of Avdiivka) and continued to advance on Pervomaiske and Sieverne from the south. Another Russian source expressed doubt that Russian forces captured Novobakhmutivka and Stepove and noted that Russian forces are also fighting for Kamianka (about 5km northeast of Avdiivka). A Russian source claimed that it is too early to speculate about Russian efforts to create a cauldron around Avdiivka and about operational successes in the area. A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces advanced towards Novokalynove and reached an unspecified elevated position in the area. Russian sources also claimed that the elements of the Russian 200th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade (14th Army Corps of the Northern Military District) attacked Tonenke (7km northwest of Avdiivka).

Russian forces continue to form new brigades from legacy standing DNR units and mobilized personnel in the Avdiivka direction. A Russian source claimed that the former DNR 9th Separate Mariupol-Khingan Marine Assault Regiment reformed into the Russian 9th Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade and is now operating in the Avdiivka direction. The Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) indicated that elements of the 14th Artillery ”Kalmius” Brigade and the 1st ”Slavic” Brigade of the DNR’s 1st Army Corps are operating in the Avdiivka direction. ISW previously observed numerous appeals from Russian mobilized servicemen about their subordination under DNR units, indicating that Russian military command is likely reinforcing and/or expanding DNR units with mobilized personnel. The Russian military is also reactivating brigades from the World War II era such as the Red Army‘s 9th Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade. The Russian Ministry of Defense may form some of the new divisions it announced on January 17 by officially integrating the DNR and Luhansk People’s Republic proxy forces into the Russian Armed Forces as opposed to generating wholly new divisions from scratch. The current suite of observed force generation efforts suggests that the Russian military command is apparently prioritizing the formation of motorized rifle infantry units as opposed to reconstituting tank units.  ISW has not observed the reconstitution or recommitment of a number of elite tank regiments and brigades destroyed in combat, and the re-activation of disbanded Red Army motorized rifle units rather than the reconstitution of current tank units may reflect the reality that the Russian military lacks the tanks needed to rebuild tank units.

Russian forces continued conducting offensive operations west of Donetsk City but have not resumed offensives near Vuhledar as of March 23. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces unsuccessfully attacked Marinka and Pobieda, 22km and 25km southwest of Donetsk City, and Russian sources echoed similar reports. A Russian source claimed that elements of the Russian 155th Naval Infantry Brigade are continuing combat missions in the vicinity of Vuhledar, and recently posted footage from the area indicating that Russian and Ukrainian forces are engaged in positional battles near Vuhledar.

Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin has softened his rhetoric towards the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) likely out of fear of completely losing his mercenary force in Bakhmut. Prigozhin emphasized his concerns about a possible Ukrainian counteroffensive in eastern Ukraine during a 23-minute interview on March 23. Prigozhin claimed that Ukraine has 200,000 reserves concentrating to attack along the entire eastern frontline, into Belgorod Oblast, and in Bakhmut. Prigozhin also claimed that the Ukrainians currently have 80,000 troops in Bakhmut, Sloviansk, and Kostyantynivka to counterattack Bakhmut – a claim that former Russian officer Igor Girkin observed was dubious. Prigozhin‘s exaggerated statements about the imminent threat to Russian forces are likely an attempt to secure more supplies and reinforcements from the Russian MoD to save his forces in Bakhmut. Prigozhin made several positive statements about the Russian MoD, even acknowledging that Russian MoD forces are fighting alongside Chechen units in Bilohorivka, Luhansk Oblast. Prigozhin also surprisingly promoted both Russian MoD-controlled volunteer recruitment efforts and recruitment into Wagner, instead of only advertising service with Wagner formations as he has usually done. Prigozhin expressed some generalized criticism of the Russian military bureaucracy – namely the defense industrial base (DIB) – but such criticisms echo the current state propaganda narrative. Prigozhin had been an avid critic of the Russian military command, and the softening of his rhetoric may indicate that he may be attempting to partially appease the Russian MoD to gain supplies or reinforcements for Wagner forces in Bakhmut.

Prigozhin denied the Kremlin’s claims that Russia is fighting NATO in Ukraine and questioned whether there are actually Nazis in Ukraine as the Kremlin constantly claims. Prigozhin stated that Russia is fighting “exclusively with Ukrainians” who are equipped with NATO-provided equipment and some “russophobic” mercenaries who voluntarily support Ukraine – but not NATO itself. Prigozhin also noted that Russian officials most likely knew that NATO would offer Ukraine military aid, because “it is ridiculous to think that when [Russia] decided to conduct this special military operation it did not account for NATO’s help to Ukraine.” Prigozhin noted that he is unsure about the “denazification” objectives in Ukraine, because he does not know if there are “Nazis” in Ukraine. Prigozhin also noted that Russia will ”demilitarize” Ukraine only when all of the Ukrainian military is destroyed, claiming that this effort is ongoing, but that it is unclear if it will be successful. Prigozhin stated that Russia can avoid an exhausting protracted war by deciding now which borders it wants to capture. Prigozhin also called on the Russian military and media to stop underestimating Ukrainian forces and engaging in internal conflicts. Prigozhin effectively rejected the Kremlin’s pre-war and post-war claims that Russia needed to defend itself against a NATO threat in Ukraine and undermined the necessity and probability of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s stated maximalist objectives for this invasion. […]

A Ukrainian intelligence official supported ISW’s prior assessments that Russian forces are unable to conduct large-scale, simultaneous offensive campaigns on multiple axes. Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Spokesperson Vadym Skibitsky stated on March 23 that Russian forces have demonstrated in the last year of the war that Russian forces are unable to maintain large-scale, strategic-level offensives on multiple axes of advance. Skibitsky stated that Russian forces failed to achieve the expected quick or significant advances in the Donbas offensive that began in early 2023. Skibitsky stated that Ukrainian forces fixed Russian forces to multiple areas on the front line and that Russian forces in occupied Crimea and Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts are on the defensive. US National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby stated on March 21 that Russian forces will try to start another offensive, possibly even on multiple different axes, in the coming weeks.

Russian forces may be shifting their missile strike tactics to focus on Ukrainian military facilities as overall Russian missile strikes decrease, indicating the depletion of Russia’s stocks of high-precision missiles. Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Spokesperson Vadym Skibitsky stated that Russian forces may be reorienting their strikes to focus on Ukrainian military facilities and force concentrations while continuing to strike Ukrainian energy infrastructure, as opposed to prioritizing striking energy infrastructure as Russian forces did in fall 2022. Skibitsky said that the GUR assessed that currently only 15 percent of Russia‘s pre-February 24, 2022 high-precision weapons stocks remain. Skibitsky stated that Russia‘s higher-end Kalibr, Kh-101, and Kh-555 cruise missiles comprise less than 10 percent of Russia’s total remaining stocks. Skibitsky stated that Russian forces cannot conduct missile attacks more than twice a month due to the growing need to conserve missiles, in contrast with how Russian forces conducted large air attacks at a higher frequency of about once a week in October 2022. Skibitsky stated that Russia‘s defense industrial base can produce only produce 20 to 30 Kalibr and Kh-101 cruise missiles per month and that Russia‘s production of Iskander ballistic missiles is even lower. ISW has previously assessed that Russian forces are depleting their missile arsenal, which may constrain Russian missile strikes frequency and intensity. […]

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Rosatom may be working to restore three power lines at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) which would increase Russian control over the ZNPP. IAEA General Director Rafael Grossi on March 22 commented on Russian reports that Russia’s state nuclear energy corporation Rosatom is working to restore three powerlines at the thermal power plant switchyard to incorporate into the grid system in Russian-occupied territory, but that the IAEA has not been able to verify this information. Grossi stated that the IAEA personnel at the ZNPP observed Russian NPP workers training with experienced ZNPP staff in the main control room of the ZNPP. Russian authorities claimed that the purpose of the training is to ensure that adequate staff is available to work at the plant in case of licensed staff shortages. ISW has previously reported on Russian efforts to use Rosatom’s management and personnel to establish control over the ZNPP to force the IAEA into accepting Russian control over the ZNPP.

Key Takeaways

  • Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin has softened his rhetoric towards the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) likely out of fear of completely losing his mercenary force in Bakhmut.
  • Prigozhin denied the Kremlin’s claims that Russia is fighting NATO in Ukraine and questioned whether there are actually Nazis in Ukraine as the Kremlin constantly claims.
  • Bloomberg reported that Prigozhin is preparing to scale back Wagner’s operations in Ukraine after Russian military leadership succeeded in cutting key supplies of personnel and munitions.
  • Ukrainian officials supported ISW’s prior assessments that Russian forces are unable to conduct large-scale, simultaneous offensive campaigns on multiple axes.
  • Russian forces may be shifting their missile strike tactics to focus on Ukrainian military facilities as overall Russian missile strikes decrease, indicating the depletion of Russia’s stocks of high-precision missiles.
  • Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin outlined various measures to support Russian military personnel, the Russian defense industrial base (DIB), and Russian independence from the West in an address to the State Duma.
  • The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Rosatom may be working to restore three power lines at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) which would increase Russian control over the ZNPP.
  • Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks northeast of Kupiansk and along the Svatove-Kreminna line.
  • Russian forces are continuing to attack Bakhmut City and areas in its vicinity and around Avdiivka.
  • Ukrainian forces continue to conduct raids over the Dnipro River in Kherson Oblast.
  • The Kremlin continues efforts to coerce Russian reservists, conscripts, and other personnel into contract service.
  • Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced that Russia is continuing efforts to integrate newly-occupied Ukraine into Russian institutions and infrastructure.

Russian forces in Belarus recently redeployed back to Russia ahead of Russia’s spring conscription call-up on April 1.

Russia unable to conduct ‘large-scale offensive,’ it overestimates its capabilities – intelligence, Ukrinform reports, citing Vadym Skibitskyi, Defence Intelligence of Ukraine (DIU). “For several months, Russian propaganda has been announcing a large-scale offensive of the Russian army in Ukraine, but the enemy has no success. According to Skibitskyi, the general bravado of the invaders was more based on misinformation and a general overestimation of their own capabilities. In reality, however, they faced the inability of conducting an offensive simultaneously in several directions.

The intelligence representative emphasized that the Russian army has the only one goal – to reach the administrative borders of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. However, they are not particularly successful, because it requires planning and conducting large-scale strategic operations. Ukraine’s military intelligence regularly receives information about the positions and numbers of enemy troops. Thanks to this, the General Staff of the Armed Forces can plan further countermeasures, Skibitskyi noted.

He added that currently, the occupiers are most active in the Bakhmut, Avdiivka, Lyman, Kupiansk, and Shakhtarsk directions.”

White House gives advice to Russia, which is worried about its tanks in Ukraine being destroyed by depleted uranium, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing European Pravda. “John Kirby, Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council at the White House, has stated that depleted uranium rounds are a common type of munition, and that Russia’s claims that they are a step toward escalation are groundless. The White House representative said that the United States is not providing Ukraine with depleted uranium munitions.

There have been health studies done on depleted uranium munitions, it is not a radioactive threat, it is not anywhere close to going into the nuclear realm. This is a commonplace type of munition that is used particularly for its armour-piercing capabilities, he emphasised. If Russia is deeply concerned about the welfare of their tanks and tank soldiers, the safest thing for them to do is move them across the border, get them out of Ukraine, Kirby added.

On Monday, the UK confirmed that it will supply Ukraine with depleted uranium rounds. Russian President Vladimir Putin later criticised the decision, falsely claiming that it was a weapon with a nuclear component.

Depleted uranium is a waste product of the uranium enrichment process, which involves the separation of the uranium-235 isotope from natural uranium. Due to its high density, depleted uranium is also used in the armour of military vehicles (in particular, M1 Abrams tanks) and armour-piercing rounds.[…] According to experts, such rounds existed in the Soviet Union, and Russian troops have already used them in Ukraine during the full-scale war.”

Wagner Group’s Financier plans to get out of Ukraine and transfer Wagnerites to Africa, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Bloomberg. “Yevgeny Prigozhin, Financier of Wagner Private Military Company, is preparing to wind down the military operations of his mercenaries in Ukraine and turn his attention to Africa. Seen as an increasing threat by the security and political establishment, Prigozhin is struggling with a manpower and ammunition shortage in Ukraine after he was barred from recruiting from prisons, his primary source of recruits, and deprived of supplies.”

The publication emphasises that Prigozhin’s mercenaries have not yet been able to take the city of Bakhmut in Donetsk Oblast, despite months of attempts and staggering losses. After weeks of public complaints that Wagnerites were not being supplied with vital ammunition and other supplies, Prigozhin admitted that Wagner would have to reset and cut down its size after the battle for Bakhmut.

Sources familiar with the situation say that operations in Africa will likely attract Prigozhin’s attention in the future, as the situation in Ukraine has become more difficult for his forces. The publication draws attention to the fact that there have been announcements of the recruitment of mercenaries to the Wagner PMC for the period of 6 months in Ukraine and 9-14 months in Africa. It is specified that those who wish to serve in African countries will be enrolled in the reserve.”

Russia fails to supply arms to India because of war with Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Reuters. “The Indian Air Force (IAF) states that Russia is unable to deliver vital defence supplies it had committed to India’s military because of the war in Ukraine. The statement by the Indian Air Force was made to a parliamentary committee, which posted it on its website on 21 March. An IAF representative told the panel Russia had planned a “major delivery” this year that will not take place.

At the same time, a spokesperson for the Russian Embassy in New Delhi said: We don’t have information which may confirm the stated. Rosoboronexport, the Russian government’s weapons export arm, also refused to comment on this information.

The report does not mention specifics of the delivery. The biggest ongoing delivery is the S-400 Triumf air defence system units India bought in 2018 for US$5.4 billion. Three of these systems have been delivered and two more are awaited. IAF also depends on Russia for spares for its Su-30MKI and MiG-29 fighter jets, the mainstay of the service branch.

Russia, and before it the Soviet Union, has been India’s main source of arms and defence equipment for decades. According to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Russia accounts for US8.5 billion of the US18.3 billion India has spent on arms imports since 2017.”

  1. Consequences and what to do?

Three quarters of Ukrainians believe Ukraine will [take back] all territories, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing a survey conducted by the sociological group Rating. “Respondents were asked the question: “In your opinion, what will be the borders of Ukraine at the end of the war?”

A total of 74% said that Ukraine would retain all its territories (in April 2022, only 53% of Ukrainians thought so); Nine per cent believe that it will be possible to take back the lands that were controlled by Ukraine before Russia’s full-scale invasion on 24 February 2022; Eight per cent believe that Ukraine will only take back Donbas, but not Crimea.”

EU to take measures to overcome global consequences of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, Ukrinform reports, citing European Council conclusions on Ukraine, published on its website. “Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and its (Russia’s – ed.) weaponisation of food have undermined global food security. In that context, the European Council takes note of the extension of the UN Black Sea Grain Initiative. This initiative, the EU’s Solidarity Lanes and the Ukrainian ‘Grain from Ukraine’ initiative are instrumental in bolstering global food security. It (the European Council – ed.) stresses the need to ensure the continued availability and affordability of agricultural products for the countries most in need, the document says.

The European Council also pointed to Russia’s irresponsible actions in the field of nuclear energy security, which may also have global consequences. Russia must immediately cease actions endangering the safety and security of civilian nuclear facilities in Ukraine. The European Union fully supports the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the document says.”


Hans Petter Midttun: We Have Few Options Left for Military Assistance to Ukraine, President of the Czech Republic, Petr Pavel, said. The defence aid from the Czech Republic has been both substantial in scope and scale. Like most Eastern Europe countries, it has provided support way above its “weight class” knowing that a Ukrainian defeat will have dramatic repercussions for their region and beyond.

I have no idea what we can do next, the Czech president said. He added that sending Western aircraft would be a logical step in the long term.”

Several Eastern European countries are providing support way above their weight (more than 1% of GDP). Some have been taking strategic risks emptying their stockpiles knowing that the weapons they supply will not be replaced for years for the lack of production capacity.

Estonia has even donated all its 155 mm howitzers to Ukraine wanting to create a precedent in this way so that other countries do not have any excuses why they cannot provide Ukraine with the necessary weapons to win the war.

After 13 months of full-scale war (and 109 months of war), however, countries are running low on weapons and ammunition they can provide. There is a massive gap between the urgent need for weapons and ammunition and the defence industry’s ability to ramp up production.

It has been the “writing on the wall” since last spring. It has, however, also been common knowledge for years within the military communities of NATO member states. It is a logical consequence of decades of underfinancing of their security and defence sector.

The Annual report by the NATO Secretary General showed that only 7 out of 30 member states, fulfil their obligation of investing 2% of GDP in defence. Europe’s unwillingness to meet its defence budget commitment has been a matter of US frustration for years. While former President Trump was the most vocal critic of European defence spending by far, he was only reiterating concerns raised by former US Presidents. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama both pressed NATO allies to increase military spending.

The low defence budgets are not only translated into depleted force structures and stockpiles across the Alliance, but also in European defence industries. The industry is not scaled to meet a full-scale war in Europe, and it takes years to re-establish the capacity that was lost after the end of the cold war.

The Alliance never planned or prepared for a full-scale war in Europe. All member states have come to realise that they lack the force structure, stockpiles, and industrial base to sustain a protracted war. The US and European defence industries have been incapable of meeting the new and urgent demands in short term. Reserves of many key weapons and ammunitions are near exhaustion and lead times for new deliveries stretch for months and, in some cases, years.

If the member states had fully grasped the security implications of an increasingly more aggressive Russian foreign policy after it attacked Georgia in 2008 all would have ramped up their defence production 15 years ago. They did not. The Russian attack on Ukraine should have served as a wake-up call. It did not. The full-scale invasion last year should have kicked the NATO member states into action. It did not.

Crucially, the challenges have been acknowledged and are being addressed. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix. Less so when it takes the EU more than nine years to come up with a joint initiative to procure ammunition for Ukraine to ramp up the European defence industry and boost security.

In August 2022, I concluded that “The West is running out of weapons it can supply Ukraine. NATO or a coalition of the willing needs to intervene” and has since repeatedly pointed out that the Alliance have many high-tech, technical superior, and very effective weapons that still remain unattainable for Ukraine. The West has supported the Ukrainian efforts on land but has partly neglected the ongoing war in the air and at sea. That makes a Ukrainian victory extremely difficult.

The Ukrainian Air Force has for the last few months used the media to convey the operational requirement for modern Western combat aircraft. Its argumentation is valid and ranges from the need to counter Russian quantity with Western quality; the urgent need to support the upcoming counteroffensive from the air; the importance of shaping the battlespace before a ground offensive, including the destruction of Russian air defence, field artillery, command and control nodes, logistical hubs and ground lines of communications; to the crucial importance of filling the many gaps in air defence due to the lack of ground-based air defence systems and the problems of integrating modern weapons and sensors into Soviet legacy aircrafts operating way beyond their expected lifespan.

While it is fully possible to donate F-16 combat aircraft to the Ukrainian Air Force and train their pilots to operate them efficiently, the process will take more than 6 months.  Even if the decision were taken today, Ukraine would still not be able to operate the fighter jet over Ukraine before by the end of 2023.

That means Ukraine would continue losing their best pilots, soldiers and heavy equipment, while its critical infrastructure continues being destroyed. Equally crucial, it gives Russia another 6-12 months to regenerate its military power to continue its assaults on Ukraine.

The only quick fix available to the international community is to do what I have said for a year already: Execute a military intervention.

It is not only in the interest of Ukraine and NATO. Ending the Russian aggression means ending the “tsunami of ripple effects” from the war. This will have global ramifications across all sectors, including food security, energy security and economy and trade.

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