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Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 423: Ukrainian air defense shot down eight drones in a nighttime attack

Article by: Zarina Zabrisky

Ukrainian air defenses shot down eight Shahed-type drones in a Russian nighttime attack. Canada to send USD 39 million package of military aid to Ukraine. New Russian law on military recruitment will make draft dodging impossible.

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1649537494176903168

Daily overview — Summary report, April 22

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 18.00 pm, April 22, 2023 is in the dropdown menu below:

Siutation in Ukraine. April 21, 2023. Source: ISW.

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The russian federation continues to violate the International Humanitarian Law, as they target and shell the positions of Ukrainian troops and civilian infrastructure alike, terrorizing civilians.
During the day of April 21, the adversary launched 3x missile, 30x air strikes, and more than 50x MLRS attacks.
The likelihood of further missile and air strikes across Ukraine remains high.
The adversary’s main focus is the offensive operations on Bakhmut, Avdiivka, Mar’inka, and Shakhtars’ke axes. 53x attacks were repelled. The city of Bakhmut remains at the epicenter of the fighting.
Volyn and Polissya axes: no significant changes. Certain units of the armed forces of the republic of belarus continue their missions in the areas bordering Ukraine. Certain units of the territorial troops of the russian Armed Forces continue their deployment on the territory of belarus.
Kharkiv Battle Map. April 21, 2023. Source: ISW.
Sivershchyna and Slobozhanshchyna axes: a certain number of enemy troops remains stationed in the areas of Bryansk, Kursk, and Belgorod oblasts (russia) bordering Ukraine. During the day of April 21, the invaders shelled the settlements of Leonivka, Hrem’yach (Chernihiv oblast), Shalyhyne, Volfyne, Kindrativka (Sumy oblast), Hoptivka, and Vovchans’ki Khutory (Kharkiv oblast).
Kup’yans’k axis: during the day of April 21, the adversary attempted to improve the tactical situation and conducted an assault near the settlement of Lyman Pershyi. To no success. Krasne Pershe, Novomlyns’k, Dvorichna, Zapadne, Kotlyarivka, and Berestove (Kharkiv oblast) came under enemy fire.
Donetsk Battle Map. April 21, 2023. Source: ISW.
Lyman axis: the adversary conducted unsuccessful offensives towards Bilohorivka. Stel’makhivka, Makiivka, Nevs’ke, Dibrova, Bilohorivka (Luhansk oblast), Ivanivka, Verkhn’okam’yans’ke, Spirne, and Zvanivka (Donetsk oblast) were shelled with artillery.
Bakhmut axis: fierce fighting for the city of Bakhmut continues. The adversary attempted an advance near Hryhorivka and Bohdanivka, to no success. Rozdolivka, Vasyukivka, Orikhovo-Vasylivka Novomarkove, Hryhorivka, Bakhmut, Ivanivske, Chasiv Yar, Oleksandro-Shul’tyne, Bila Hora, Dyliivka, Zalizne, Pivnichne, Pivdenne, and New York (Donetsk oblast) suffered from enemy shelling.
Avdiivka axis: the adversary conducted offensive operations in the vicinities of Novokalynove, Stepove, Pervomais’ke, and Nevel’s’ke, to no success. Targets of the invaders’ shelling included the settlements of Novokalynove, Stepove, Avdiivka, Tonen’ke, Pervomais’ke, and Nevel’s’ke (Donetsk oblast).
Mar’inka axis: Ukrainian defenders repelled numerous enemy attacks in the vicinity of Mar’inka during the day of April 21. At the same time, Krasnohorivka, Mar’inka, Pobjeda, and Novomykhailivka (Donetsk oblast) were shelled by the enemy.
Shakhtars’ke axis: during the day of April 21, the enemy conducted unsuccessful offensives in the vicinity of Vuhledar. The invaders also shelled Prechystivka, Novoukrainka, Zolota Nyva, and Velyka Novosilka (Donetsk oblast).
Zaporizhzhia Battle Map. April 21, 2023. Source: ISW.
Zaporizhzhia and Kherson axes: the adversary stays on the defensive. During the day of April 21, the invaders fired mortars and artillery at the vicinities of various settlements, including Ol’hivs’ke, Pavlivka, Malynivka, Hulyaipole, Huliaipilske, Orikhiv, Novodanylivka, Novoandriivka (Zaporizhzhia oblast), Antonivka (Kherson oblast), and the city of Kherson.
Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. April 21, 2023. Source: ISW.
The adversary continues to suffer losses. Thus, the enemy used 14x trucks in an attempted medical evacuation from the temporarily occupied Luhansk oblast) towards the settlement of Urazovo (Belgorod oblast, russia) on April 17, 2023. As they attempted to cross the state border of Ukraine into the territory of russia, the russian side did not let the military convoy through for some reason and turned it back. According to reports, some of the enemy soldiers had not survived during this movement due to the lack of proper medical care. Another part of the seriously wounded invaders, more than 50x people, were transported to a field hospital deployed at the Troits’ke district central hospital.
During the during the day of April 21, the Ukrainian Air Force launched 5x air strikes on the concentrations of occupants. In the meantime, missile and artillery troops hit 2x concentrations of enemy troops, 1x anti-aircraft missile system, and 2x more important military targets of the adversary.

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Military Updates

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1649442292854292485

Ukrainian troops to begin training on US-made Abrams tanks in next few weeks – Politico sources. American-made Abrams tanks that Ukrainians will use for training will arrive in Germany in the next few weeks, allowing 250 soldiers to begin learning to use the much-anticipated armor, according to two US Defense Department officials, Politico reports. “The 31 M1A1 Abrams tanks — a Ukrainian battalion’s worth — will arrive at the Grafenwoehr Training Area in Germany by mid-to-late May, according to the officials. The training will begin a week or two later, after the tanks go through a maintenance period,” Politico wrote.

Ukrainian air defenses shot down eight Shahed-type drones in Russian nighttime attack – Air Force Command. On 21 April, the Ukrainian Air Force Command reported that the country’s air defenses destroyed eight Iranian-made Shahed-136/131 kamikaze attack drones launched from Russia’s Bryansk Oblast. Russian forces launched “up to 12” Shaheds. “The air defense forces and means of the Air Command Center of the Air Force, in cooperation with the air defenses of the Land Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, destroyed eight Shaheds,” the report reads.

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

  • The Russian state is struggling to maintain consistency in a core narrative that it uses to justify the war in Ukraine: that the invasion is analogous to the Soviet experience in the Second World War.
  • On 18 April 2023, Russian state media announced the cancellation of this year’s Immortal Regiment ‘Great Patriotic War’ remembrance marches on ‘safety’ grounds. In reality, the authorities were highly likely concerned that participants would highlight the scope of recent Russian losses.
  • This follows Wagner Group owner Yevgeny Prigozhin publicly questioning whether there are actually any ‘Nazis’ in Ukraine, going against Russia’s justification for the war. The authorities have continued attempts to unify the Russian public around polarising myths about the 1940s.
  • On 12 April 2023, state news agency RIA Novosti reported ‘unique’ documents from FSB archives, implicating the Nazis in the murder of 22,000 Polish nationals in the Katyn Massacre of 1940. In reality, FSB’s predecessor agency, the NKVD, was responsible. Russia’s State Duma officially condemned Joseph Stalin for ordering the killings in 2010.

Losses of the Russian army 

Losses of the Russian Army. Source Euromaidan Press.

Humanitarian 

Victims of deadliest Russian missile attack still coping with grief. Russia’s attack on a residential building in Dnipro, in January, killed 46 people and destroyed dozens of flats, having become the war’s deadliest missile strike. Two months later, the survivors of Building 118 still cope with physical and psychological wounds.

Russia targets Black Sea town, tries to destroy proposed new grain corridor

Ukraine arrests two collaborators who committed arson during Russian occupation of Kyiv Oblast. Ukraine’s Security Service has arrested two former State Emergency employees for collaborating with Russian troops during the 2022 occupation of Kyiv Oblast. The suspects were identified as employees of the 41st Firefighting and Rescue unit of the central department of the State Emergency Service, who offered their assistance to the invaders. On 22 March 2022, following instructions from Russian soldiers, the two individuals committed arson in a local firefighting station in the town of Ivankiv, causing damage to property and destabilizing the city.

Support

Canada to send USD 39 million package of military aid to Ukraine. On 21 April, Defense Minister of Canada Anita Anand announced a new military aid package worth over $39 million for Ukraine during the eleventh meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. This assistance includes a $34,6 million contribution to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Ukraine Comprehensive Assistance Package (CAP) Trust Fund to provide Ukraine with 3.3 million liters of fuel supplies and enable the implementation of the NATO CAP Improved Ribbon Bridge project, which will supply Ukraine with modular floatation bridge assets, and medical first aid kits.

Slovenia to join EU ammunition procurement program for Ukraine. Slovenia has decided to join the procurement of ammunition for Ukraine’s Armed Forces program and will sign an agreement with European Defense Agency (EDA) which includes 23 EU member states and Norway, RTV Slovenija reported. The decision was made during the meeting of the EU defense and foreign ministers within the framework of a plan to supply 1 million artillery shells to Ukraine over the next 12 months.

New Developments

Poland, Baltic states propose to cut off Russia’s Gazprombank from SWIFT – EU Observer. As per EU Observer, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia have proposed imposing restrictions on Gazprombank, Russia’s third-largest bank, in the 11th sanctions package of the EU. According to the proposal, new measures should include freezing the assets of the bank and disconnection from the international information and payment transfer system, SWIFT. In addition, the countries have suggested banning the import of liquefied gas and aluminum from Russia into the EU, imposing limits on the “Druzhba” oil pipeline, and restricting the export of Russian diamonds.

Albania cancels visa-free travel for Russian citizens. The Embassy of the Republic of Albania in Russia has announced the cancellation of a visa-free regime for Russian citizens. According to the amendments made by the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Albania on 20 April 2023, in Resolution No. 858 of 21 December 2021, Russian citizens are no longer allowed to enter Albania without a visa from May 1 to September 30. The embassy has noted that Russian citizens must now obtain an official document related to the purpose of their trip if they plan to visit Albania.

Estonia sends artillery ammo to Ukraine in new military aid package. Estonia sends 155-mm artillery ammunition to Ukraine as part of a new military aid package, according to Hanno Pevkur, Estonia’s Defense Minister. On 20 April, the Estonian government supported the decision of Estonia’s Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur to provide Ukraine with artillery ammunition as part of the EU agreement to send one million shells to Ukraine.

New Russian law on military recruitment aims to make draft dodging impossible, Pavel Luzin says. The new recruitment system in Russia will be based on a massive, centralized electronic database that limits the rights of potential conscripts significantly, according to the Russian military expert Pavel Luzin. In his article for Jamestown Foundation, Luzin analyzed the recently adopted law on military recruitment in Russia and explained what made Kremlin rush with the new recruiting system.

Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of  April 21, 2022:

Russian forces used a new delivery of Shahed drones to strike Ukraine for the third consecutive day, targeting Kyiv for the first time in 25 days. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces launched 26 drones on April 20, of which Ukrainian forces shot down 21 and 12 drones on April 21, of which Ukrainian forces shot down eight.[1] Russian forces targeted Kyiv, Odesa, Poltava, Vinnytsia, Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhia, Kharkiv, and Chernihiv oblasts overnight on April 19 to 20 and 20 to 21.[2] The Kyiv City Military Administration reported no damage from the strikes in Kyiv.[3] Head of the Ukrainian Joint Coordination Press Center of the Southern Forces Nataliya Humenyuk stated on April 20 that Russian forces waited until a new shipment of Shahed drones arrived to use them for further strikes and noted that Russian use of missiles has also decreased.[4]

Commander of the Russian Baltic Sea Fleet Admiral Viktor Liina reportedly assumed command of the Russian Pacific Fleet on April 21 following the completion of Russian drills in the Pacific on April 20. Kremlin newswire TASS, citing an unnamed source, reported that Liina replaced Admiral Sergei Avakyants who had commanded the Russian Pacific Fleet since 2012.[5] Unofficial reports of Liina’s appointments coincide with the Russian Ministry of Defense’s (MoD) announcement that the Pacific Fleet and elements of the Russian Aerospace Forces completed drills in the Pacific under the supervision of Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov.[6] The Russian MoD may have named Yevmenov as the supervisor for these drills following milblogger and nationalist discourse about Avakyants’ abrupt termination amidst the combat readiness checks.[7] ISW previously assessed that Avakyants’ dismissal may have been a result of his inability to recreate pre-war, large scale Pacific Fleet combat readiness checks due to the Pacific Fleet’s significant combat losses in Ukraine.[8]

A Russian fighter-bomber accidentally bombed Belgorod on April 20. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced on April 20 that a Russian Su-34 bomber accidentally dropped a bomb while flying over Belgorod City.[9] The explosion left a crater with a 20-meter (65-foot) radius in the southern part of the city and injured three civilians.[10] The cause of the accidental bombing remains unclear, as does the reason for flying an armed bomber over a populated city. Russian milbloggers did not react to the bombing with the same vitriolic anger they often use with Russian battlefield failures. One milblogger compared the accidental bombing to the Su-34 crash in Yeysk, Krasnodar Krai, in October 2022, claiming that Belgorod residents should be thankful that the bomb did not hit a residential building.[11] Another milblogger expressed appreciation for the MoD taking responsibility for the accident and characterized the act as an atypical sign of health in the MoD.[12] A Rossiya-1 broadcaster, speaking about the event, stated that “modern military equipment allows Russian units to eliminate extremists in the special operation zone from a minimal distance”– likely an error that indicates confusion in Russian state media on how to frame the accident in the information space.[13]

The Angry Patriots Club accused Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin of supporting efforts to freeze the war in Ukraine. Former Russian officer and ardent nationalist Igor Girkin and his Angry Patriots Club posed 40 direct questions addressed towards the Kremlin, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the Russian military command about Russia’s conduct of the war in Ukraine, foreign affairs, and domestic power struggles.[14] Girkin asked why Russian authorities are not arresting Prigozhin for his “direct calls” to freeze the war at the current frontlines, which Girkin characterized as calls to “violate the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation.”[15] Girkin notably mentioned Prigozhin when asking who was responsible for Russian withdrawal from Kherson Oblast – an operation overseen by Wagner-affiliated former Commander of the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine at that time Army General Sergey Surovikin.[16] Girkin and Prigozhin have a long-standing feud – likely as a result of competition for patronage – and Girkin’s accusations against Prigozhin may be an attempt to discredit his rival.[17]

This accusation may also indicate that Prigozhin has found a patron – possibly affiliated with the Russian MoD – who supports the temporary freeze of the war in Ukraine for political reasons. The Angry Patriots Club previously amplified a forecast that miscontextualized Prigozhin’s April 14 essay as a call to end the war in Ukraine, stating that Prigozhin’s essay was the start of a political campaign to move to the defense of new territories and freeze the war.[18] The forecast noted that the Russian MoD and Russian private military companies (PMCs) are already recruiting contract servicemen to defend occupied positions, while Russian propagandists are entertaining news about the counteroffensive to possibly present a major victory to Russians if Ukrainians are unsuccessful.[19] The forecast argues that Russia would freeze the war for 2024 for political reasons such as the presidential elections if Russia is successful in repelling Ukrainian counteroffensives. Prigozhin’s essay notably called on Russia to commit to a decisive battle in Ukraine or embrace a temporary defeat that would allow Russia to set conditions for a future victory without negotiations.[20] It is possible that Girkin and his patrons are fearful that Prigozhin has joined the political faction that is urging Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop the war on current lines following planned Ukrainian counteroffensive.[21]

Prigozhin publicly restored his cooperation with the Russian MoD and seemingly regained some Kremlin-allocated privileges at the start of April after a months-long feud with the Russian military command.[22] The Russian MoD and the Russian military command could be interested in freezing the war to reconstitute Russian forces. ISW previously assessed that the Russian MoD had likely advised Putin early on about measures such as mobilization that could have changed the course of the war earlier, and the Russian MoD had previously ordered a short-lived operational pause over the summer of 2022, for example.[23] Prigozhin’s recent cooperation with the Russian MoD indicates that he may have reached an agreement with the Russian military command – possibly offering to advocate to Putin for a temporary ceasefire to regain the ability to grow his forces and expand his political standing ahead of Russian gubernatorial and presidential elections. Prigozhin had also been criticizing Putin’s maximalist goals in Ukraine and offering grim forecasts about Russia’s need for years-long grinding attacks to capture Donbas, which are likely part of the ceasefire narrative.[24]

A temporary ceasefire in Ukraine and protraction of the war will only benefit Russia by allowing it to reconstitute its forces and wear down Western support for Ukraine. Russia will use occupied territories in Ukraine as a springboard for future offensive operations after it restores its combat capabilities. Russia is continuing to weaponize information operations in the West to discourage military aid provisions, and such efforts will only intensify if Russia is able to establish a strong defensive line with contract servicemen and conscripts that will slow Ukrainian advances.[25]

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law aimed at supporting the Kremlin’s ongoing efforts to set conditions for domestic crackdowns and the removal of officials who have fallen out of favor. Putin signed a bill on April 14 increasing administrative liabilities for unauthorized entry into critical energy infrastructure facilities and facilities operated or protected by Rosgvardia (Russian National Guard), the Federal Security Service (FSB), the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD), the Russian penitentiary system, the federal executive body for mobilization, and the Russian Armed Forces.[26] The Kremlin likely intends to use these increased punishments to obscure the activities of Russian military and security organs while also expanding these entities’ ability to oust officials and crack down on Russian citizens under accusations of trespassing. Putin recently signed bills expanding legal punishments for the discreditation of all Russian personnel fighting in Ukraine and for the misappropriation of Russian military assets, and Russian security organs have increasingly used these laws as pretexts for the arrest of Russian citizens.[27] ISW has previously assessed that the Kremlin may be using the pretext of threats to Russia’s defense industrial base (DIB) to justify crackdowns, and the new law likely aims to broaden the guises under which Russian authorities justify internal repressions.[28]  ISW previously assessed that the FSB appears to be conducting a large-scale overhaul of domestic security organs, which the new law may further augment.[29]

 Key Takeaways

  • Russian forces used a new delivery of Shahed drones to strike Ukraine for the third consecutive day, targeting Kyiv for the first time in 25 days.
  • Commander of the Russian Baltic Sea Fleet Admiral Viktor Liina reportedly assumed command of the Russian Pacific Fleet following the completion of Russian drills in the Pacific.
  • A Russian fighter-bomber accidentally bombed Belgorod on April 20.
  • The Angry Patriots Club accused Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin of supporting efforts to freeze the war in Ukraine.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law aimed at supporting the Kremlin’s ongoing efforts to set conditions for domestic crackdowns and the removal of officials who have fallen out of favor.
  • Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks along the Kupiansk-Svatove-Kreminna line.
  • Russian forces continued to advance in and around Bakhmut, although Russian forces have not completed a turning movement around the city.
  • Russian forces continued offensive operations along the Avdiivka-Donetsk front and conducted a limited ground attack in western Donetsk Oblast.
  • Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces have established positions on the east (left) bank of Kherson Oblast.
  • Russian federal subjects are forming new cross-regional volunteer formations to support the ongoing force generation campaigns.
  • Russian authorities are expanding the logistics capabilities and security measures on the Arabat Spit likely to prepare for a possible Ukrainian counteroffensive.
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