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Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 395: Russian attack on Bakhmut stalled

Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 395: Russian attack on Bakhmut stalled

Russia’s assault on Bakhmut has largely stalled. Austria says it will arrest Putin if he enters the country – UkrInform. Ukraine returns seven children taken by Russian troops for “rehabilitation” in Crimea.

Daily overview — Summary report, March 25

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 18.00 pm, March 25, 2023 is in the dropdown menu below:

 
Day 395 of the full-scale russian military aggression has begun.
Over the last 24 hours, the russian federation conducted 50x air and 11x missile strikes, and launched 75x MLRS attacks that targeted civilian infrastructure and Ukrainian Defense Forces.
The threat of missile and air strikes remains high across Ukraine as the russia continues to use terror tactics.
The enemy concentrates main efforts on offensive operations on Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, Mar’yinka, and Shakhtars’k axes. Ukrainian defenders repelled 59x enemy attacks.
Kharkiv Battle Map. March 24, 2023. Source: ISW.
Volyn’, Polissya, Sivershchyna, and Slobozhanshchyna axes: the operational situation has not changed significantly; there are no signs of the formations of enemy offensive groupings. During the past day, russian forces shelled the outskirts of Horodyshche (Chernihiv oblast); Kharkivka, Studenok, Iskryskivshchyna, Vorozhba, Bilopillya, Richki, and Myropillya (Sumy oblast); as well as Basove, Veterynarne, Kozacha Lopan, Hoptivka, Krasne, Ohirtseve, Vovchans’k, Budarky, Ambarne, and Topoli (Kharkiv oblast).
Kup’yans’k and Lyman axes: the enemy carried out unsuccessful offensives in Serebryansk forestry area and in the vicinities of Hryanykivka, Synkivka, Dibrova, Biloghorivka and Spirne. Russian forces shelled the vicinities of Kam’yanka, Dvorichna, Hryanykivka, Zapadne, Kup’yans’k, Pishchane, and Tabaivka settlements (Kharkiv oblast); Stelmakhivka, Nevs’ke, Dibrova, and Biloghorivka (Luhansk oblast); as well as Terny and Spirne in Donetsk oblast.
Bakhmut Battle Map. March 24, 2023. Source: ISW.
Bakhmut axis: the enemy makes further unsuccessful attempts to seize the town of Bakhmut and to attack Ukrainian positions in the vicinities of Orikhovo-Vasylivka, Bohdanivka, Ivanovs’ke, and Stupochky (Donetsk oblast).
Minkivka, Orikhovo-Vasylivka, Hryhorivka, Bakhmut, Ivanivs’ke, Chasiv Yar, Stupochki, Predtechyne, Oleksandro-Shultyne, Zalizne, Severny, and Toretsk were subjects to enemy attacks.
Avdiivka, Mar’yinka and Shakhtars’k axes: the enemy conducted unsuccessful offensives in the vicinities of Keramik, Stepove, Avdiivka, Severne, Mar’yinka, Novomykhailivka, and Vuhledar. Avdiivka, Tonen’ke, Netaylove, Lastochkine, Heorgiivka, Mar’yinka, Pobieda, Novomykhailivka, Novomykhailivka, Vuhledar, Prechistivka, and Zolota Niva (Donetsk oblast) were subjects to numerous enemy attacks.
Zaporizhzhia Battle Map. March 24, 2023. Source: ISW.
Zaporizhzhia and Kherson axes: russian troops stay on the defensive. However, the occupiers shelled Olhivs’ke, Malynivka, Chervone, Hulyaipole, Zaliznychne, Hulyaipilske, Charivne, Biloghirya, Mala Tokmachka, Novodanilivka, Orihiv, Novoandriivka, and Stepove (Zaporizhzhia oblast); and Beryslav, Tyaginka, Antonivka, Bilozerka, Kizomys, Shiroka Balka, and Kherson.
Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. March 24, 2023. Source: ISW.
The invaders continue to put pressure on civilian population of the temporarily occupied territories. on March 22, soldiers of russian federal national guard service conducted a raid in Chaplinka settlement (Kherson Oblast). During the home searches special attention was paid to citizens’ personal documents, vehicles and mobile phones.
In Energodar, Zaporizhzhia oblast, the russian occupiers organize “excursions” for high school children to Volgodonsk and the Rostov NPP.
Over the last 24 hours, Ukrainian Air Force launched 17x air strikes against concentrations of russian troops.
At the same time, our defenders shot down 1x russian Mi-24 attack helicopter and 6x enemy UAVs of various types.
Ukrainian missile and artillery troops, attacked 2x command posts, 4x enemy concentration areas, 2x anti-aircraft missile systems, 1x ammunition depot, 1x artillery system, and 2x electronic warfare stations.

Military Updates

Russian Su-35s launched guided air bombs at Sumy Oblast, killing two civilians. Overnight into 24 March, the Russian troops attacked Ukraine’s northeastern Sumy Oblast with Su-35 fighter jets that dropped “more than ten guided air bombs” from Russia across the border, Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat said on the national telethon.

​Russia used its JDAM-ER bomb kit analog to attack Sumy Oblast, wreckage shows – Defense Express. The Air Force Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine says Russian Su-35 fighter jets launched 11 bombs. Photos obtained by Defense Express show that at least some of the bombs were Russian analogs of the American JDAM-ER guidance kit that converts unguided bombs into precision-guided munitions.

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

  • Russia’s assault on the Donbas town of Bakhmut has largely stalled. This is likely primarily a result of extreme attrition of the Russian force. Ukraine has also suffered heavy casualties during its defence.
  • The Russian situation has also likely been made worse by tensions between the Russian Ministry of Defence and Wagner Group, both of whom contribute troops in the sector.
  • Russia has likely shifted its operational focus towards Avdiivka, south of Bakhmut, and to the Kremina-Svatove sector in the north, areas where Russia likely only aspires to stabilise its front line. This suggests an overall return to a more defensive operational design after inconclusive results from its attempts to conduct a general offensive since January 2023.

Losses of the Russian army 

Losses of the Russian Army. Source: Euromaidan Press.

Humanitarian 

Ukraine returns seven children taken by Russian troops for “rehabilitation” in Crimea. The Kherson Regional Military Administration reported that seven Ukrainian children who were forcibly deported to Crimea by Russin troops returned with their families. After six months of separation in the “rehabilitation” camp, the children finally kissed and hugged their parents in the liberated city of Kherson.

Ukraine establishes modern prosthetics workshop in Lviv to help civilians and soldiers affected by Russian war. A modern prosthetics workshop has been established in Nezlamni (“unbroken”) National Rehabilitation Center in Lviv. The Center is the place where adults and children affected by the war receive comprehensive qualified medical care, including reconstructive surgery and robotic prosthetics.

Ukraine returns bodies of 83 fallen soldiers – Reintegration Ministry. On 24 March, Ukraine managed to bring home the bodies of another 83 fallen Ukrainian soldiers, the Ministry of Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine reported. The Office of the Commissioner for Missing Persons at the Ministry of Reintegration, in cooperation with law enforcement agencies, made the transfer of bodies from the temporarily occupied territories possible, according to the ministry’s statement.

Austria says it will arrest Putin if he enters the country – UkrInform. Austria is a signatory country of the Rome Statute, the primary treaty of the International Criminal Court, and is obligated to execute arrest warrants issued by the court, the Federal Ministry of Justice said in response to UkrInform’s question on the implementation of the latest ICC decision on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

UN human rights office details latest casualties in Russia’s war against Ukraine. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has said 1,605 Ukrainian civilians were killed and 4,382 injured in the Russian war against Ukraine from 1 August 2022 – 31 January 2023, a new report reveals. Most civilian casualties (1,459 persons killed and 4,112 injured) were caused by explosive weapons, including shelling from heavy artillery, multiple-launch rocket systems, and missiles. In addition, 99 civilians were killed and 256 injured as a result of explosive remnants of war (ERW) and mine-related incidents.

Support

 

Sweden to send USD 590 mn in new military assistance to Ukraine. The package includes tanks, artillery pieces of Archer Artillery System and Robot 97, and ammunition. In addition, Sweden said it might sell 14 artillery pieces of the Archer.

Germany transfers three Leopard 1 tank based engineering vehicles to Ukraine. The German Government’s website has updated the page featuring the list of the military aid items supplied to Ukraine. Four new items emerged on the list:

  • 3 Pionierpanzer Dachs military engineering vehicles built on the Leopard 1 tank’s chassis;
  • 100 MG3 machine guns for the Leopard 2 main battle tanks, Marder infantry fighting vehicles, and Dachs engineering vehicles (previously: 30);
  • Spare parts for Leopard 2 and Marder;
  • 90 drone sensors (previously: 60).

New Developments

Ukraine to sanction Romanian Sen. Diana Șoșoacă who wants annexation of parts of Ukraine. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine initiates the imposition of sanctions on Senator of the Romanian Parliament Diana Șoșoacă who has submitted a draft law proposing to “regulate” the annexation of parts of Ukraine that belonged to Romania during the interwar period in order to “restore the cultural identity of the Romanian population.”

Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of  March 24, 2022:

Prominent voices in the Russian information space are increasingly setting information conditions to prepare for a potential Ukrainian counteroffensive. Russian Security Council Deputy Head Dmitry Medvedev emphasized on March 24 that the Russian General Staff is aware that Kyiv is preparing for offensive operations and that the Russian General Staff is considering its own decisions and responses to prepare for a Ukrainian offensive.[1] A prominent Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian actors are disseminating disinformation about plans for a Ukrainian attack towards Belgorod Oblast, in order to draw Russian troops to border areas and allow Ukrainian troops to launch attacks on other sectors of the front, partially echoing Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin’s prior warnings about a Ukrainian push on Belgorod Oblast.[2] Another Russian milblogger warned that Ukrainian forces will likely try to launch a counteroffensive before the Russian defense industrial base (DIB) gains the capacity to increase production and bolster Russian defensive potential.[3] Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin similarly claimed on March 23 that he knows of plans for an extensive Ukrainian counteroffensive, as ISW previously reported.[4] The wider Russian spring offensive appears to be culminating, and the Russian information space appears to be responding to the slow-down of Russian operations and potential for Ukraine to regain the initiative with substantial anxiety.[5] Russian military command will need to commit a significant number of forces to the frontline to either prevent culmination or launch renewed offensive operations, and it is unlikely that such forces exist at sufficient scale to do either.

Crimean occupation head Sergey Aksyonov has reportedly formed a Wagner Group-affiliated private military company (PMC) in occupied Crimea. Independent Russian investigative outlet Vazhnye Istorii (iStories) reported on March 23 that Aksyonov has publicly sided with Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin against the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and created PMC “Convoy” under the leadership of Prigozhin associate Konstantin Pikalov, who has led Wagner operations in Africa.[6] PMC ”Convoy” is reportedly a BARS (combat reserve) unit, meaning that ”Convoy” servicemembers sign two contracts—one with ”Convoy” itself and one with the Russian MoD.[7] iStories reported that ”Convoy” initially consisted of 300 people and has been deployed to occupied Kherson Oblast.[8] The iStories report is particularly noteworthy against the backdrop of Wagner’s and Prigozhin’s continually declining influence in Russia and loss of access to convict recruits. Prigozhin and Prigozhin-affiliated elements may be trying to diffuse Wagner’s remaining power by creating separate PMCs and other parallel military formations in addition to launching new recruitment efforts through traditional channels.[9] Aksyonov additionally appears to have affiliated himself and the Crimea occupation administration with Prigozhin, which may have important implications for the role of forces from occupied Crimea in subsequent phases of the war.

Some prominent Russian milbloggers criticized the Russian military command for continuing to impale Russian forces on Vuhledar with ineffective human-wave style frontal assaults. The milbloggers claimed that current Russian tactics against Vuhledar, which include an initial frontal assault followed by assaults against fortified Ukrainian flanks, result in high Russian combat losses resulting in no gains due to challenging terrain, lack of combat power, and failure to surprise Ukrainian forces.[10] The milbloggers called on Russian forces to cut Ukrainian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) into Vuhledar both with strikes against rear GLOCs and by encircling the settlement for a multi-vector attack, but implied that Russian forces are unable to implement these suggestions due to munitions shortages and the failure to take many settlements surrounding Vuhledar.[11] Russian forces are unable to sustain any significant rate of advance anywhere on the front line using these human-wave style attacks, and the Vuhledar area once held informational significance to Russian milbloggers during the offensive for Pavlivka in in late October and early November 2022.[12] The Russian 155th Naval Infantry Brigade has been destroyed and reconstituted as many as eight times since the start of the war in large part due losses sustained during the prolonged effort against Vuhledar.[13] The re-emergence of vitriolic criticism about Russian failures near Vuhledar likely reflects the information space’s ongoing frustration with the Russian military command amid deep-seated fear about a prospective future Ukrainian counteroffensive. It is possible that Russian forces are undertaking a renewed and inconsistent push to take Vuhledar in the style of limited and localized ground attacks, though it is also possible that the sources claiming as such are engaging in circular reporting or re-reporting old events.[14]

Russian President Vladimir Putin held a meeting with the Russian Security Council likely as part of his effort to portray himself as a present and effective wartime leader. The meeting centered around Russia’s effort to develop its electronics industry, though the Kremlin readout provides little detail about the meeting itself.[15] Russia has been seeking ways to mitigate the effect of Western sanctions on the Russian defense industrial base (DIB), which relies on electronics to produce advanced materiel and weaponry.[16] Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has notably claimed that Belarus can produce weapons for Russia given Belarus’s access to electronics, and Russia and Belarus recently signed an agreement on furthering their respective electronics industries.[17] This meeting likely aimed to portray Putin as holding the Russian Security Council responsible for mobilizing the DIB to meet wartime demands while not providing evidence of any progress towards this goal.

Key Takeaways

  • Prominent voices in the Russian information space are increasingly setting information conditions to prepare for a potential Ukrainian counteroffensive.
  • Crimean occupation head Sergey Aksyonov has reportedly formed a Wagner Group-affiliated private military company (PMC) in occupied Crimea.
  • Some prominent Russian milbloggers criticized the Russian military command for continuing to impale Russian forces on Vuhledar with ineffective human-wave style frontal assaults.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin held a meeting with the Russian Security Council likely as part of his effort to portray himself as a present and effective wartime leader.
  • Russian forces conducted limited attacks along the Kupiansk-Svatove-Kreminna line.
  • Russian forces have made gains in and around Bakhmut and conducted ground attacks in the Avdiivka-Donetsk City area.
  • The Ukrainian General Staff corrected its March 23 statement that Russian forces withdrew from Nova Kakhovka, occupied Kherson Oblast.
  • Russian occupation authorities announced the creation of a pro-Russian militaristic youth movement aimed at brainwashing children.
  • The Russian government is adopting new measures to revitalize and eliminate corruption, lethargy, and resistance in Russia’s defense industrial base (DIB).
  • The United Kingdom Ministry of Defense (UK MoD) reported on March 24 that at least 1,000 Russian personnel training at the 230th Combined Arms Obuz-Lesnovsky Training Ground in Brest, Belarus, redeployed to Russia.
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