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Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 415: Germany approves export of MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine

Article by: Zarina Zabrisky

The World Bank has announced a $200 million grant to fund repairs to Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. Germany allows Polish export of MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine. Putin reportedly personally approved the arrest of an American journalist.

Daily overview — Summary report, April 14

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 18.00 pm, April 14, 2023 is in the dropdown menu below:

Situation in Ukraine. April 13, 2023. Source: ISW.

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Day 415 of the russian full-scale military aggression against Ukraine has begun.
The russian federation continues to wage its war of aggression. The invaders continue to disregard International Humanitarian Law, as they target and shell the positions of Ukrainian troops and civilian infrastructure alike.
During the day of April 13, the adversary launched 19x air strikes, 39x MLRS attacks, causing civilian casualties.
The likelihood of missile and air strikes across Ukraine remains quite high.
The adversary has not abandoned its plans to occupy Ukrainian territory, despite significant losses. The invaders continue to focus their main efforts on the offensive operations on Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Mar’inka axes.
The fiercest fighting is for Bakhmut and Mar’inka. Coordinated actions and the heroism of the Ukrainian Defense Forces allowed to repel 49x adversary attacks during the day of April 13.
Kharkiv Battle Map. April 13, 2023. Source: ISW.
Volyn, Polissya, Sivershchyna, and Slobozhanshchyna axes: no significant changes in the operational situation, no signs of the formation of enemy offensive groups were found. Certain units of the territorial troops of the russian Armed Forces continue their deployment on the territory of belarus. The adversary continues to maintain military presence in the areas of Kursk and Belgorod oblasts (russia) bordering Ukraine. During the day of April 13, the adversary shelled the settlements of Halahanivka (Chernihiv oblast), Studenok, Iskryskivshchyna, Volfyne (Sumy oblast), Udy, Kozacha Lopan’, Ternova, Starytsya, Hatyshche, Mykolaivka, and Budarky (Kharkiv oblast).
Kup’yans’k axis: Krasne Pershe, Novomlyns’k, Dvorichna, Zapadne, Masyutivka, and Tabaivka (Kharkiv oblast) came under enemy fire.
Donetsk Battle Map. April 13, 2023. Source: ISW.
Lyman axis: during the day of April 13, the adversary conducted unsuccessful offensives near of settlements of Dibrova and Bilohorivka. Novoselivs’ke, Stel’makhivka, Andriivka, Nevs’ke, Bilohorivka (Luhansk oblast), and Spirne (Donetsk oblast) were shelled with artillery.
Bakhmut Battle Map. April 13, 2023. Source ISW.
Bakhmut axis: the enemy continues its offensive operations. Heavy battles for the city of Bakhmut continue. The adversary attempted to attack in the vicinities of Bohdanivka and Predtechyne, to no success. Vasyukivka, Orikhovo-Vasylivka, Novomarkove, Hryhorivka, Bohdanivka, Khromove, Bakhmut, Ivanivske, Bila Hora, Novodmytrivka, Kurdyumivka, Pivnichne, and Zalizne (Donetsk oblast) were shelled by the enemy.
Avdiivka axis: the adversary conducted unsuccessful offensives towards Sjeverne, firing artillery at Novokalynove, Stepove, Avdiivka, Sjeverne, Pervomais’ke, Netaylove, and Karlivka (Donetsk oblast), among other settlements.
Mar’inka axis: during the day of April 13, Ukrainian defenders repelled numerous enemy attacks in the vicinity of Mar’inka (Donetsk oblast). At the same time, Nevel’s’ke, Krasnohorivka, Mar’inka, Pobjeda, and Novomykhailivka (Donetsk oblast) were shelled by the enemy.
Shakhtars’ke axis: the enemy did not conduct any offensive operations during the day of April 13. The invaders shelled the settlements of Shakhtars’ke, Velyka Novosilka, Vuhledar, Novoukrayinka, Prechystivka, and Zolota Nyva (Donetsk oblast).
Zaporizhzhia Battle Map. April 13, 2023. Source: ISW.
Zaporizhzhia and Kherson axes: the adversary continues to defend. The invaders shelled settlements near the line of active combat. Among them are Ol’hivs’ke, Chervone, Hulyaipole, Huliaipilske, Charivne, Mala Tokmachka, Novodanylivka, Orikhiv, Novoandriivka, Stepnohirs’k (Zaporizhzhia oblast), Stepanivka, Antonivka (Kherson oblast), and the city of Kherson.
Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. April 13, 2023. Source: ISW.
The russian federation continues to impose the so-called “passportization” on Ukrainian citizens. In certain settlements of Kakhovs’kyi district (Kherson oblast), russian occupants are forcing people to re-register their vehicles under russian regulations, which requires the owners to have russian passports.
Activities aimed at accelerating the issuance of russian passports have particularly intensified in the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk oblast. Departments of Migration Service of the russian federation are reported to work seven days a week. Priority is given to civil servants and soldiers of the First Army Corps.
During the day of April 13, the Ukrainian Air Force launched 3x air strikes on the concentrations of occupant troops and military equipment.
Units of the Ukrainian missile troops and artillery hit 3x command posts, 3x concentrations of troops, weapons, and military equipment of the enemy, 1x ammunition depot, 1x radar station, and 1x electronic warfare station.

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Military Updates

Russia’s Kh-50 cruise missiles mass production plans suggest increased strikes on Ukraine this fall – GenStaff. Russia plans to mass-produce Kh-50 cruise missiles, which may indicate the possibility of intensifying missile strikes against Ukraine this fall. Oleksii Hromov, Deputy Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said it during a briefing on 13 April, RBC-Ukraine reports.

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

  • Russia has re-energised its assault on the Donetsk Oblast town of Bakhmut as forces of the Russian MoD and Wagner Group have improved co-operation. The Ukrainian defence still holds the western districts of the town but has been subjected to particularly intense Russian artillery fire over the previous 48 hours.

 

  • Wagner assault groups continue to conduct the main advance through the centre of town, while Russian airborne forces (VDV) have relieved some Wagner units securing the northern and southern flanks of the operation.

 

  • Ukrainian forces face significant resupply issues but have made orderly withdrawals from the positions they have been forced to concede.

Losses of the Russian army 

Russian Losses. Source: Euromaidan Press.

Humanitarian 

Sisters in misfortune: Ukrainian refugees in Croatia start life anew

Two American volunteer soldiers killed fighting in Ukraine – ABC News. Edward Wilton and Grady Kurpasi died in action during the war, bringing the total number of Americans killed to at least eight.

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1646634616735043586

Environmental

World Bank allocates USD 200 million to repair Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. The World Bank has announced a $200 million grant to fund repairs to Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, which has suffered $11 billion in damages over the last year due to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. The funds will be used for emergency repairs to electricity transmission and heating infrastructure, including the procurement of critical equipment such as autotransformers, switchgears, mobile heat-only boilers, and other equipment to repair district heating networks.

Three Russian informants sentenced for espionage against Ukraine – SBU. Three informants who worked for Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) and were involved in adjusting Russian attacks have been sentenced to prison based on evidence gathered by Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU), according to the SBU. The security agency says these informants conducted reconnaissance and sabotage activities in the front-line areas of Donetsk Oblast. Their primary aim was to gather information about the location and movement of Ukrainian Armed Forces units in the country’s east. In particular, according to SBU, they sought to identify fortifications, HIMARS rocket artillery systems, and relayed the coordinates of social infrastructure objects like local schools.

Hague Court demands Russia pay USD 5B to Naftogaz for seizing Crimea assets, Naftogaz says. In its April 13 statement, Ukraine’s state-owned energy company Naftogaz said that an arbitration court in The Hague ordered Russia to pay USD 5 billion in compensation for seizing Naftogaz Group’s assets in Ukraine’s region of Crimea that Russia had illegally annexed in 2014. The Hague’s Arbitration Tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in the company’s favor in the case on 12 April 2023, according to the statement.

Latvia puts on trial journalists accused of cooperating with Russian propaganda media. On Tuesday, a series of trials began in Riga involving 16 journalists accused of violating European Union sanctions by collaborating with Russian news portals Sputnik and Baltnews. According to Delfi, the case against the journalists is based on the fact that Sputnik and Baltnews, currently blocked in Latvia, are linked to the Russian state agency “Rossiya Segodnya,” whose general director, Dmytro Kiselev, is under EU sanctions. The accused include former Baltnews editor-in-chief Andrey Yakovlev, well-known Latvian journalists Alla Berezovska, Yelena Kirilova, Vladimir Dorofeev, Aleksandr Malnach, Andrey Tatarchuk, and Lyudmila Pribilska, political activist Vladimir Linderman, assistant to MEP Tatiana Zhdanok – Andrey Solopenko, and photographer Sergey Melkonov.

Support

Germany allows Polish export of formerly East German MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine – media. According to Bloomberg and Spiegel report, the German government granted Poland’s request to export MiG-29 fighter jets from former East German military stocks to Ukraine. Bloomberg says Germany permitted the re-export of five MiG-29s. In a statement, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said that Berlin received the Polish request on 13 April. Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s ruling coalition agreed to quickly greenlight it as part of Berlin’s continued efforts to support Ukraine, according to Bloomberg.

EU to provide over USD 1,1 bn in aid to Ukraine to supply its Armed Forces with artillery ammunition, the European Council has announced. “This measure will allow the EU to reimburse member states for ammunition donated to Ukraine from existing stocks or from the reprioritization of existing orders during the period 9 February to 31 May 2023,” the European Council said in its statement on 13 April.

New Developments

America’s proxy war? No, Ukraine’s liberation war

Russia to use Crimea as launchpad to invade Ukraine again if Ukraine doesn’t take it back – Ukraine FM. Real peace in Ukraine will only be achieved by restoring its borders and it taking back Crimea, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on 13 April, addressing the Black Sea Security Conference in Bucharest via video link, CNN reports.

Russia’s cancelled WWII victory parades posed risks for exposing its losses in Ukraine – UK intel. The UK Defense Ministry says in its latest intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine that Russia’s cancellation of VE-Day parades in regions bordering Ukraine and occupied Crimea highlights a sensitive communication challenge as “honouring the fallen of previous generations could easily blur into exposing the scope of the recent losses, which the Kremlin attempts to cover up.”

Ukrainian strike on Moscow could either escalate the war or end it, leaked US intelligence shows – NYT. A leaked US Defense Intelligence Agency document, obtained by The New York Times, outlines four “wild card” scenarios in the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. These hypothetical situations include the deaths of Presidents Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, changes in the Russian Armed Forces’ leadership, and a Ukrainian strike on the Kremlin.

Restrictions on flights over Ukraine may not be lifted until 2029, Eurocontrol says. Restrictions on flights over Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, and Moldova are likely to remain in place within the next six years, according to the European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation (Eurocontrol). According to the Eurocontol’s seven-year forecast, returning to the usual aircraft routes over Ukraine will likely be impossible until 2029. It may not be a complete ban on flights over Ukraine within the next six years, but rather a restriction of routes, probably a significant reduction of flights, according to Eurocontrol.

Fugitive ex-Wagner commander identifies fellow servicemen in POW beheading video. A former commander of the Russian mercenary group Wagner Andrei Medvedev, who defected to Norway in January 2023, identified his fellow servicemen in the video of the beheading of a Ukrainian prisoner of war, according to Vladimir Osechkin, the founder of the Russian human rights group Gulagu.net. In his interview with Khodorkovsky Live, Vladimir Osechkin said that he had contacted Medvedev, who is in a deportation jail in Norway now, and asked him to comment on the beheading video.

Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of  April 13, 2022:

A senior Ukrainian official warned that Russia can reconstitute itself as a serious threat to Ukraine in the long run despite facing severe force generation problems at this time. Deputy Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the Ukrainian General Staff Brigadier General Oleksiy Hromov stated on April 13 that Russian crypto-mobilization efforts are stagnating due to Russians’ growing awareness that causality rates for Russian soldiers in Ukraine are high. Hromov stated that Volgograd and Saratov oblasts have only met seven percent (134 of the 7,800 recruits) and 14 percent (270 of the 7,600 recruits) of their regional recruitment quotas for the first quarter of 2023 respectively.[1] Hromov also stated that Moscow is creating “alternative” private military companies (PMCs) to fill these gaps, but that these PMCs will not be as powerful as the Wagner Group in the near future, partially supporting previous ISW forecasts.[2] Hromov noted that Ukraine and its allies must not underestimate Russian force generation capabilities in the long run for a protracted war of attrition. ISW has previously warned that the US and NATO should not underestimate Russian capabilities in the long run, as Russia can regenerate by leveraging its population and defense industrial base (DIB) to threaten Ukraine and NATO if Russian President Vladimir Putin decides to fundamentally change Russia’s strategic resource allocation over the long run.[3] Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu announced plans on January 17 to form 12 new maneuver divisions over the course of several years, for example.[4]

The Kremlin has not yet undertaken the necessary reorganization of its war effort to effectively leverage economies of scale to support large-scale Russian force generation, however. Current Russian half-measures and decentralized recruitment efforts to regenerate forces such as crypto-mobilization, leaning on Russia’s regions to generate volunteers, relying on new small PMCs, and pressuring various Russian state-owned enterprises to sponsor and pay for recruitment campaigns seek to shift the resource burden to generate forces among different siloviki and elements of the Russian state.[5] The Kremlin is reportedly billing the Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom for its volunteer recruitment efforts in occupied Donetsk Oblast, offering volunteers 400,000 rubles (approximately $4,900) salary per month.[6] A Russian State Duma official proposed the institution of a new 2–3% “military tax” on Russian citizens’ income — a provision that would allow Putin to reduce the burden on existing federal funds but would likely anger more Russians.[7] These various Russian groups’ resources are finite. The Kremlin’s currently unsustainable effort to commandeer them will exhaust itself without fundamental resource generation and resource allocation reform. These current efforts will generate some additional combat power in the short term, to be sure, but will do so with diminishing marginal returns at increasing cost. The Russian state’s current model of resource allocations and economies of scale do not synergize disjointed efforts to tap discrete resource pools. The Kremlin’s decision to continue relying on financially incentivizing voluntary recruits with both one-time payments and accrued lifetime benefits will create large long-term structural costs and will not be sustainable indefinitely.[8]

Ukrainian assessments confirm ISW’s longstanding assessment that Russia cannot conduct multiple offensive operations simultaneously at this time. Deputy Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the Ukrainian General Staff Brigadier General Oleksiy Hromov stated on April 13 that Russian forces deployed unspecified Russian forces from the Avdiivka area of operations to reinforce offensive operations around Bakhmut and that Russia has lost about 4,000 Wagner and conventional personnel in Bakhmut since around March 30.[9] Hromov’s statement supports ISW’s longstanding assessment that the Russian military — in its current form — is unable to conduct large-scale, simultaneous offensive campaigns on multiple axes.[10]

Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly personally approved the arrest of Wall Street Journal correspondent Evan Gershkovich. Bloomberg reported on April 12 that Putin personally approved the arrest of Gershkovich on espionage charges before the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) arrested Gershkovich in Yekaterinburg, Sverdlovsk Oblast on March 30 for collecting information constituting a state secret about the activities of a Russian military-industrial complex enterprise.[11] Putin’s reported personal involvement in the arrest suggests that the arrest was likely a retaliatory response to the US arrest of Russian national Sergey Cherkasov on March 24 on charges of acting as agent of a foreign power.[12] Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov denied that Putin ordered Gershkovich’s arrest and stated that Russian special services independently decided to arrest Gershkovich.[13] ISW has previously reported that the FSB has made other recent arrests in connection with information about defense enterprises in Sverdlovsk Oblast, and ISW assesses that the Kremlin may use the pretext of threats to Russia’s defense industrial base (DIB) to justify crackdowns and further conceal the activities of Russian defense industrial enterprises.[14] Putin’s reported personal involvement in the first arrest of a US journalist since the Cold War may indicate that the Kremlin viewed the arrest as a calculated escalation that it will attempt to use as leverage for extracting concessions from the United States.

The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) claimed to have identified the individuals allegedly responsible for assassinating milblogger Maxim Fomin (known under the alias Vladlen Tatarsky) on April 13.[15] The FSB claimed that alleged Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) agents Darya Trepova and Yuriy Denisov worked with Russian Anti-Corruption Foundation associates Leonid Volkov and Ivan Zhadanov — both located abroad — to track Fomin for months and eventually assassinate him.[16] The FSB stated that it added Denisov to the international wanted list after he fled Russia.[17] Anti-Corruption Foundation Director Ivan Zhandov claimed on April 13 that the FSB released this version of events to justify extending Anti-Corruption Foundation founder and Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny’s prison sentence.[18]

Key Takeaways

  • A senior Ukrainian official warned that Russia can reconstitute itself as a serious threat to Ukraine in the long run despite facing severe force generation problems at this time.
  • The Kremlin has not yet undertaken the necessary reorganization of its war effort to effectively leverage economies of scale to support large Russian force generation.
  • Ukrainian assessments confirm ISW’s longstanding assessment that Russia cannot conduct multiple offensive operations simultaneously at this time.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly personally approved the arrest of Wall Street Journal correspondent Evan Gershkovich.
  • The Russian Federal State Security Service (FSB) on April 13 identified the individuals allegedly responsible for assassinating milblogger Maxim Fomin (alias Vladlen Tatarsky).
  • Russian forces continued limited ground attacks along the Svatove-Kreminna line.
  • Russian forces continued to make gains in Bakhmut, and continued ground attacks along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line.
  • Russian forces continue to reinforce and strengthen their positions in southern Ukraine in preparation for a potential Ukrainian counteroffensive.
  • Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin and his supporters continue to feud with St. Petersburg authorities and advertising companies allegedly obstructing Wagner Group recruitment efforts.
  • Wagner Group are reportedly training Ukrainian children to use weapons as part of the Russian Young Army Cadets National Movement (Yunarmiya) in occupied Ukraine.
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