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Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 413: Russian MPs passed legislation to digitize the draft and to crack down on draft dodgers

Article by: Zarina Zabrisky

Russian MPs passed legislation to digitize the draft and to crack down on draft dodgers. Russia completed three layers of defensive zones across approximately 120km in Zaporizhzhia Oblast in southern Ukraine. Allies will likely agree on fighter jets for Ukraine before summer.

Daily overview — Summary report, April 12

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 18.00 pm, April 12, 2023 is in the dropdown menu below:

Situation in Ukraine. April 11, 2023. Source: ISW.

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Day 413 of the full-scale russian military aggression has begun.
Over the past 24 hours, the enemy launched 1x missile and 21x air strikes, and conducted 33x MLRS attacks on Ukrainian settlements and on Ukrainian Defense Forces positions.
The russian federation continues to violate the laws and customs of war, so the probability of missile and air strikes remains high across Ukraine.
Despite heavy casualties and significant losses of equipment, the russian federation doesn’t give up its aggressive plans towards Ukraine. It focuses main efforts on offensive actions on Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Mar’yinka axes, where Ukrainian defenders repelled more 72x enemy attacks during the past day.
Kharkiv Battle Map. April 11, 2023. Source: ISW.
Volyn’, Polissya, Sivershchyna and Slobozhanshchyna axes: the operational situation has not changed significantly. Certain units of russian territorial troops remain in belarus, however, there are no signs of the formation of offensive groupings. Russia maintains enhanced military presence in its Kursk and Belgorod oblasts bordering Ukraine, and continues to harden defensive positions there. During the past day, the enemy shelled Bleshnya, Kam’yans’ka Sloboda, and Hremyach (Chernihiv oblast); Volfyne, Katerynivka (Sumy oblast); Veterynarne, Hlyboke, Hatyshche, Vovchans’k, Zybyne, Volohivka, Okhrimivka, Chernyakiv, Komisarov, Budarky, and Dovzhanka (Kharkiv oblast).
Kup’yans’k axis: the settlements of Kolodyazne, Kam’yanka, Topoli, Krasne Pershe, Ridkodub, Novomlyns’k, Dvorichna, Kindrasivka, Pishchane, and Berestov (Kharkiv oblast); Novoselivs’ke (Luhansk oblast) came under enemy fire.
Donetsk Battle Map. April 11, 2023. Source: ISW.
Lyman axis: during the past day, the enemy conducted unsuccessful offensives in the vicinities of Biloghorivka and Spirne (Luhansk oblast). Makiivka, Nevs’ke, Biloghorivka (Luhansk oblast); Yampolivka, Tors’ke, and Spirne (Donetsk oblast) were subjects to enemy artillery fire.
Bakhmut Battle Map. April 11, 2023. Source: ISW.
Bakhmut axis: russian forces make further attempts to seize full control over the town of Bakhmut, fighting continues. During the day, the enemy conducted unsuccessful offensive actions in the vicinities of Bohdanivka.
Nikiforivka, Vasyukivka, Minkivka, Orikhovo-Vasylivka, Novomarkovo, Markovo, Bakhmut, Khromovo, Chasiv Yar, Ivanovs’ke, Stupochki, Predtechyne, Oleksandro-Shultyne, Kurdyumivka, Ozaryanivka, Druzhba, Torets’k, and New York (Donetsk oblast) suffered from enemy attacks.
Avdiivka and Mar’yinka axes: the enemy attempted unsuccessful offensives in the vicinities of Avdiivka, Pervomais’ke, Nevels’ke and Mar’yinka (Donetsk oblast). The heavy fighting continues in Mar’yinka area.
At the same time, the settlements of Novokalynove, Orlivka, Avdiivka, Tonen’ke, Severne, Pervomais’ke, Netaylove, Karlivka, Krasnohorivka, Heorhiivka, Mar’yinka, and Pobieda (Donetsk oblast) were subjects to enemy shelling.
Shakhtars’ke axis: during the past day, the enemy did not carry out offensive actions. However, the occupiers shelled the vicinities of Novomykhailivka, Shakhtars’ke, Novoukrainka, Velyka Novosilka, Vuhledar, and Prechistivka (Donetsk oblast).
Zaporizhzhia Battle Map. April 11, 2023. Source: ISW.
Zaporizhzhia and Kherson axis: the enemy stays on the defensive. Over the past 24 hours, more than 30x Ukrainian settlements suffered enemy attacks. Among them are Vremivka and Novopil’ (Donetsk oblast); Novosilka, Olhivs’ke, Malynyvka, Chervone, Hulyaipole, Charivne, Mala Tokmachka, and Orihiv (Zaporizhzhia oblast); Zolota Balka, Kachkarivka, Beryslav, Kozats’ke, Burgunka, Ivanivka, Mykils’ke, Antonivka, Bilozerka, Dniprovs’ke, and Veletens’ke (Kherson oblast) and the city of Kherson.
Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. April 11, 2023. Source: ISW.
During the day, Ukrainian Air Force conducted 13x air strikes on the concentrations of russian troops and military equipment. In addition, Ukrainian defenders shot down
2x enemy “Orlan-10” type UAVs.
During the day, Ukrainian missile and artillery troops attacked 5x concentrations of enemy troops, weapons and military equipment, as well as 2x radio electronic warfare stations of the enemy.

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Military Updates

Ukraine waiting for right moment to strike Russian warships in Black Sea – Reznikov. Russia does not know all the details of the sinking of the warship Moskva, and Ukraine can make a new “surprise” for Russian ships in the Black Sea thanks to this, Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said at the briefing at Ukraine Media Center Odesa. “I really want to share the details that I am aware of, but we have an agreement with the commander of the Ukrainian fleet Oleksiy Neyizhpapa, thanks to his efforts and his team, this (sinking of the “Moskva” cruiser) happened. We cannot disclose all the details now. There are some nuances that are still unknown to our enemy, which means that we can offer them another “surprise” at sea, related to their ships. We are just waiting for the right moment to repeat this story.”

Six Ukrainian border guards held the position in Bakhmut for 3 hours before reinforcements arrived.For three hours, six border guards of the Luhansk detachment held their positions in Bakhmut and repelled the attacks of the enemy,” the Ukrainian border guards service wrote, sharing the battle video. Russian troops significantly outnumbered them. When the danger of complete encirclement loomed, a group of fire support came forward to help the comrades. Using grenade launchers and small arms, they managed to repulse the attack of the occupiers and ensure the evacuation of the wounded, border guards services reported.

Ukraine’s state concern delivered another batch of 122-mm artillery ammunition, following yesterday’s batch of 125-mm tank shells. Both types of ammunition are produced in “one of the NATO countries” by Ukrainian technology and Ukrainian specialists. 

Ukraine receives a new batch of 125-mm anti-tank shells, Ukroboronprom says. Although the country where the ammunition had been produced was not specified, Ukroboronprom explained that Ukraine decided to manufacture weapons in one of the NATO member states due to a threat to Russian missile attacks on the company’s facilities.

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

  • Over recent weeks, Russia has continued to develop extensive linear defences in Zaporizhzhia Oblast in southern Ukraine. The area is highly likely the responsibility of Russia’s Southern Grouping of Forces (SGF).
  • Russia has now completed three layers of defensive zones across approximately 120km of this sector. These consist of a front line of forward combat positions, and then two zones of nearly continuous, more elaborate defences. Each zone is approximately 10-20km behind the one in front.
  • Russia has probably put significant effort into these defensive works because it is convinced Ukraine is considering an assault towards the city of Melitopol. The defences have the potential to be formidable obstacles, but their utility almost entirely depends on them being supported by sufficient artillery and personnel. It remains unclear if the SGF can currently muster these resources.

Losses of the Russian army 

Losses of the Russian Army. Source: Euromaiden Press.

Humanitarian 

724 people blown up by Russian mines, 226 of them being killed. It is estimated that there are 174,000 square kilometers of land contaminated by landmines throughout Ukraine, an area larger than the combined size of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, BBC reports. In Kharkiv Oblast, which has been affected by the war, there are occasional warning signs posted near barren, brown fields that were once active front lines. According to authorities, Kharkiv Oblast has witnessed the deaths of at least 27 individuals and injuries to 118 others since September. Additionally, over 55,000 explosive devices have been discovered in the region.

Russian military shelled church in Kherson, video footage reveals. On the eve of Easter, the Russian army shelled a church in Kherson, according to the press center of the Kherson Oblast Military Administration. During the night, Russian artillery struck the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The shelling shattered windows and damaged the roof and walls; fortunately, no civilians were injured.

Ukraine returns 24 children taken from Kherson Oblast by Russian troops. According to Prokudin, the rescue mission was highly challenging for Ukraine as Russian authorities forced children to participate in a propaganda news report and subjected them to an exhaustive 13-hour-long interrogation.

Russian occupiers dismantled the monument to Mariupol artist, stole paintings. In occupied Mariupol, Russian occupiers dismantled a monument to artist Arkhip Kuyindzhi, who was born in 1841 in Mariupol, likely in a family of Greek origin. The Mariupol city council informed about the incident, showing the video. The monument was installed back in 1984, in the Greek Square in Mariupol. Many of Kuyindzhi’s paintings are stored in the world’s leading museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Environmental

724 people blown up by Russian mines, 226 of them being killed. It is estimated that there are 174,000 square kilometers of land contaminated by landmines throughout Ukraine, an area larger than the combined size of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, BBC reports.In Kharkiv Oblast, which has been affected by the war, there are occasional warning signs posted near barren, brown fields that were once active front lines. According to authorities, Kharkiv Oblast has witnessed the deaths of at least 27 individuals and injuries to 118 others since September. Additionally, over 55,000 explosive devices have been discovered in the region.

Hungarian Foreign Minister visited Moscow, updated the gas deal with Gazprom. Hungary signed new agreements with Russia to ensure continuous gas supply, AP reports. Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto visited Moscow on 11 April 2023. He said at a news briefing that Russian state energy company Gazprom had agreed to allow Hungary, if needed, to import quantities of natural gas beyond the amounts agreed to in a long-term contract. The gas which will be supplied to Hungary through the Turkstream pipeline, would be capped at 150 euros ($163) per 1000 cubic meters.

Ukrainian billionaire seeks compensation from Russia in arbitration for losses incurred. Billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, who is the founder and beneficiary of the holding company SCM, has announced that he is initiating an arbitration process against Russia. The process aims to seek compensation for damages inflicted on him during the period between 2014 and 2017. Akhmetov is seeking redress from the aggressor country for losses incurred due to the intervention in his business activities, expropriation of assets, and investment by terrorist groups “DNR” and “LNR” and are under the control or direction of Russia.

Human rights lawyers disbarred in Russian occupied Crimea for defending political prisoners. Rustem Kyamilev and his wife, Lilia Hemedzhy are not alone in seeing Russia’s FSB as behind this new act of repression against independent lawyers in occupied Crimea, with the role played by the ‘Crimean Bar Association’ particularly disturbing.

Kyiv’s upscale shopping center seized from a Russian tycoon, now owned by the Ukrainian state. The decision of Ukraine’s High Anti-Corruption Court came into force on 11 April 2023, Economic Pravda reports. According to the ruling, two-thirds of the Ocean Plaza Mall’s capital will become state property. This is the share in the Ocean Plaza, which belonged to Russian oligarch Arkady Rotenberg. Rotenberg is the co-owner of the Russian Stroygazmontazh company constructing pipelines. His shares of the Ocean Plaza were registered through the offshore Cypriot Ocean Plaza Project (Cyprus) Ethoder Investments Limited.

Support

Allies will likely agree on fighter jets for Ukraine before summer — Danish Defense Minister. Before the summer holidays, Denmark and other allied countries will have decided whether to donate combat aircraft to Ukraine, acting Defense Minister of Denmark Troels Lund Poulsen said to several media during a visit to Ukraine on Monday, 10 April. He explained that countries have to act together, and that’s why the decision requires some time to agree. “Denmark will not do it alone,” Lund Poulsen said, adding that a decision was still achievable “in the near future.”

Ukraine PM visits Canada and US to sign bilateral agreements. Ukrainian Prime Minister, Denys Shmyhal, is on a working visit to Canada and the United States this week. During his visit to Canada, Shmyhal will meet with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland. The meeting is expected to result in the signing of bilateral agreements between the two countries.

Canada approves 21k rifles and machine guns with ammunition for Ukraine during Ukraine’s PM visit. The Canadian federal government announced a new package of military and financial assistance for Ukraine on 11 April 2023, following a meeting between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal. The new military aid package worth $59 million provides 21,000 assault rifles and machine guns for Ukraine, along with ammunition, from weapons maker Colt Canada, headquartered in Kitchener, Ont.

Denmark to start sending Ukraine Leopard 1 tanks before summer – minister. Ukraine will start receiving Denmark’s Leopard 1 tanks before summer, up to 100 can be sent in total, Denmark’s Acting Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen said at a briefing with Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov in Odesa on 10 April, Ukrinform reports. “We will start delivering Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine before summer. And then, hopefully, looking half a year ahead, it will be possible for us to donate about 100 Leopard 1 tanks, and that, I’ll say, would be a substantial thing for Ukraine’s army,” Poulsen said. Also, the Ukrainian troops are now trained in Denmark to operate the French-made Caesar self-propelled howitzers, which Ukraine might receive next month, according to him.

British entrepreneur Richard Branson who owns the Virgin Group company, has become an ambassador of United24, Ukraine’s official fundraising platform. During a meeting with Richard Branson, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the businessman for his powerful messages of support for Ukraine amid the Russian invasion and emphasized the importance of attracting new, prominent, and influential personalities to the platform.

Beginning his visit to the USA, Polish Prime Minister warned Macron against cooperation with China. Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, has warned against pushing for the policy of a “strategic autonomy” from the US, instead calling for the development of strategic cooperation between Europe and Washington, Ukrinform reports. Morawiecki’s comments come in response to French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent remarks that Europe should build “strategic autonomy,” not follow the US in everything, and not let itself be dragged into “crises that are not ours.”

New Developments

Germany gave Ukraine only a small percentage of weapons it can give – Ukraine Ex-Amb to Germany. According to the diplomat, Former Ambassador of Ukraine to Germany and current Deputy Foreign Minister Andriy Melnyk, thanks to the proactive position of President Zelenskyy and public pressure through the German mass media, Kyiv managed to get German weapons worth more than 3 billion euros from Berlin.

Bulgaria denies free transfer of MiG-29s to Ukraine but seeks “triangular deals” to replace weapons. The Ministry of Defense of Bulgaria did not negotiate the free transfer of MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, the BGNES agency reported. The Bulgarian Ministry of Defense claims that such a decision would lead to a reduction in the country’s defense capabilities, which would contradict Bulgaria’s constitution and laws. However, it is noted that the ministry successfully negotiated the implementation of so-called “triangular deals” at the end of 2022, to replace available weapons systems with equivalents from allied countries without sacrificing defense capabilities.

Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of  April 11, 2022:

The Kremlin passed legislation to use tools of digital authoritarianism to digitize and improve the effectiveness of issuing summonses and crack down on Russian draft dodgers. The Russian State Duma adopted a bill in its third reading on April 11 to create a digital unified register of Russian citizens eligible for military service.[1] Russian military recruitment offices will use the digital register to issue summonses to military service. The unified register harvests Russian citizens’ personal identification information—including medical, educational, and residence history, foreign citizenship status, and insurance and tax data—from multiple Russian legal entities, including Russia’s Federal Tax Service, investigative bodies, courts, medical institutions, the Russian Pension and Social Insurance Fund, the Central Election Commission, and federal and local authorities.[2]  Summoned individuals may not leave Russia and must appear at a military recruitment office within 20 days of being summoned. The law bans summoned individuals who are 20 days delinquent for reporting from driving vehicles, buying or selling real estate, and taking out loans. A senior Russian legislator stated that the law will correct some of the bureaucratic shortcomings that appeared during Russia’s partial mobilization in September 2022.[3] Some Russian milbloggers who have long agitated for more aggressive force generation policies praised the law and stated that it exemplifies healthy interactions between Russian civil society and government.[4] ISW previously forecasted that the Kremlin would marry Soviet-style societal control measures with big data and 21st-century information technology to intensify control over the Russian population after Russia used facial recognition, QR codes, and mobile device geo-tracking technology to enforce a draconian COVID-19 quarantine in 2020.[5]

The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin acknowledged each other’s roles in the Bakhmut effort on April 11. The Russian MoD and Prigozhin claimed that Wagner fighters comprise the main effort to take territory and push Ukrainian forces in central Bakhmut, whereas unspecified Russian Airborne (VDV) elements comprise the supporting effort on Wagner’s flanks north and south of Bakhmut, including near Zalizhnyanske, Sakko i Vantsetti, and Mykolaivka.[6] The Russian VDV forces on the flanks likely aim only to hold the flanks rather than make any significant advances. This array of forces suggests that the Russian MoD intends to use the Wagner Group to capture Bakhmut while minimizing casualties among conventional Russian forces—supporting ISW’s prior assessments that the MoD seeks to use Wagner forces to capture Bakhmut then supplant them and take credit for the victory.[7] Prigozhin reiterated that Wagner forces are making gains within Bakhmut, however, claiming that Russian forces control 80 percent of Bakhmut due to Wagner advances.[8] Russian forces occupy at least 30.68 square kilometers (about the size of the Chicago O’Hare airport) or 76.5 percent of Bakhmut based on ISW’s control of terrain assessment.  However, this area increases to 34.5 square kilometers or 86.1 percent of Bakhmut when factoring in all Russian-claimed territory in Bakhmut, including contradictory claims.

A small, fringe group of pro-war Russian milbloggers called for the Russian government to repeal the censorship laws against discrediting the Russian military. A group of at least 20 Russian milbloggers amplified a blanket statement expressing solidarity with “angry patriots” and others enraged at and weary of the poor application of the Russian censorship laws.[9] These milbloggers, many of whom have limited social media followings, represent a small fraction of the Russian information space and their statement does not indicate broader anger over the mere existence of these laws.  However, this faction of milbloggers is the most likely to face prosecution under these laws because they lack Kremlin affiliation, are among the most critical of the Russian war effort, and would likely be among the first targets of an expanded application of the law. The pro-war information space has expressed continued outrage over Russian authorities prosecuting a Russian medic under these censorship laws, which ISW has assessed will likely be a growing source of discontent in the pro-war information space.[10]

Key Takeaways

  • The Kremlin passed legislation to use tools of digital authoritarianism to digitize and improve the effectiveness of issuing summonses and to crack down on Russian draft dodgers.
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin acknowledged each other’s roles in the Bakhmut effort.
  • A small, fringe group of pro-war Russian milbloggers called for the Russian government to repeal the censorship laws against discrediting the Russian military.
  • Russian forces appear to hold positions northeast of Kupiansk and have made gains in the forest area south of Kreminna.
  • Russian forces conducted ground attacks in and around Bakhmut and along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line.
  • Russian forces conducted defensive operations in southern Ukraine.
  • Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu visited defense industrial enterprises in Tula Oblast as part of the ongoing effort to portray the resilience of Russia’s defense industrial base (DIB).
  • Russian Commissioner for Children’s Rights Maria Lvova-Belova continues to confirm that Russian authorities are taking a number of actions vis-a-vis Ukrainian children in an attempt to exculpate herself from the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) warrant for her arrest.
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