April 3, 2023

Sitrep for Apr. 1-3 (as of 11:00 a.m.) 

The situation on the frontline

On the night of Apr. 3, Yevgeny Prigozhin [Russian oligarch, the confidant of Vladimir Putin and owner of the Wagner Group] published a video showing him symbolically passing a flag of Russia and another one of the Wagner Group to his fighters to hoist them over the City Administration building in Bakhmut. As expected, the Wagner Group captured the town center (the video has already been geolocated).

A day before these events, a video showed Ukrainian forces hitting Russian positions at the AZOM plant on the northern outskirts of Bakhmut with what they claim to be a Tochka missile.

The pro-Russian war correspondent Aleksandr Sladkov, commenting on the situation in Marinka, illustrated the problem of counter-battery work and holding the captured positions by the RuAF on the example of the capture of a fur farm. According to him, 1480 shells and six loitering munitions were spent during its capture, but after a short time, it had to be abandoned since the AFU is better in reconnaissance and counter-battery combat and has more precise ammunition. He called the situation with lack of ammo on the Russian side "a shell diet."

Many people remember the past week for the anomalous amount of snowfall in the Donbas: Ukrainian soldiers showed how much snow fell on those days. A few days later, warm and rainy weather set in, which intensified the mud conditions.

Kostiantynivka was attacked again on Apr. 2. Six people were reportedly killed, and eight more were injured. The attack was carried out with an S-300 surface-to-air missile system and an Uragan MLRS; as a result, 16 multistorey apartment buildings and eight private houses were damaged.

Vuhledar was again shelled with incendiary munitions. Residential buildings are visible in the video, so this is a war crime.

Russian forces are using tracked minelayers to get ready for a Ukrainian counteroffensive on the Zaporizhzhia axis.

The video, which appeared to show the use of an air-dropped bomb with a JDAM [Joint Direct Attack Munition] kit, turned out to be a recording of an artillery strike by the 28th Mechanized Brigade of Ukraine, published at the end of January 2023. Thus, there is still no convincing visual evidence of the use of JDAM-equipped bombs (only the statement of the Spokesperson of the Air Force Command of the AFU Yuriy Ihnat).

The Ministry of Defense of the UK published a video showing Ukrainian operators undergoing training on Challenger 2 tanks. Most notably that, only experienced tankers were selected for the program, which made it possible to shorten its duration. But there is a flipside — a substantial number of seasoned tank crews left the frontline for months.

Ukraine's state-owned defense holding Ukroboronprom has launched the production of drone ammunition at the Mayak Aircraft Plant. 1 kg fragmentation projectiles with a blast radius of 11 meters and 0.5 kg with a blast of 4.5 meters are present in the photos.

The Defense One media outlet published an article on the complexity of upscaling GMLRS production. As for now, 10 thousand such rockets are manufactured annually; the production runs in one shift (unlike in the Russian Federation). By 2024, it is planned to reach a pace of 14 thousand rockets a year, and it will take at least two years to increase the number twofold. The main problem is not only in the equipment but also in the necessity to train additional personnel, as well as in the lack of components.

Like Russia, Ukraine also has to remove old equipment from storage. Here is a video of Ukrainian soldiers using the KS-19 100mm air defense gun (introduced into service in 1948), launching shells made in 1962.

Photos showing a Kyiv anti-drone (anti-Geran/Shahed) unit have been published. Pickup trucks with M2 Browning and Soviet DShK machine guns can be seen in the photographs. The latter have anti-aircraft sights installed.

This video shows an Estonian FH-70 155mm towed howitzer moving. Previously we only saw it in photos.

A video has been released showing how Ukrainian soldiers train to clear buildings using laser tag technology. Note that laser tag works only at short distances, i.e., close combat or building clearing, since it does not take ballistics into account.

The pro-Russian Sabotage Assault Reconnaissance Group Rusich published a photo of a DJI Mavic drone with a chemical grenade. As asserted, it is filled with chloropicrin. This is yet another admission of a violation of the Chemical Weapons Сonvention by pro-Russian forces.

Igor Strelkov (Girkin) [former separatist commander and military blogger], Pavel Gubarev [former "people's governor of the DPR"], and Maksim Kalashnikov [pro-Russian imperialist publicist] decided to organize the "Angry Patriots Club." They believe that the current path that Russia is moving on leads to a military defeat. After the defeat, they expect unrest and intend to prevent the insurgents from seizing power, relying on forces within the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the FSB [Federal Security Service], and the military.

On Apr. 2, in Saint-Petersburg, Maksim Fomin, better known as Vladlen Tatarsky, was killed by an explosion during an "evening reading event" in a cafe belonging to Yevgeny Prigozhin. Fomin was born in Donbas. He was found guilty of assaulting cash-in-transit guards. In 2014–2015, he fought alongside the separatists and became a hero for the ultrapatriots. After the start of the current wide-scale invasion, he became a "war correspondent," ran a Telegram channel, and made frequent appearances in media affiliated with the Wagner Group. During the "evening reading event," a young woman presented Fomin his portrait sculpture which exploded a few minutes later. Maksim died, and 32 more people were wounded, including a 14-year-old. Daria Trepova is suspected of involvement in the murder. (She was apprehended and taken to interrogation after the sitrep was recorded — CIT.)