April 24, 2023

Sitrep for Apr. 21-24 (as of 09:00 a.m.)  

On the night of Apr. 24, Sevastopol was attacked by naval USVs. One of the videos presumably shows the work of air defense with the use of tracer ammunition (probably, a UAV also took part in the attack), and sounds of explosions can be heard on both of them. Reportedly, the attack was repulsed by Russian warships in the outer roadstead, and sea traffic was blocked for some time.

As it was confirmed, not one, but two bombs were dropped on Belgorod. The second one fell about a block from the first one. It slightly damaged a building and plunged into the ground without detonating. Sappers were brought in to neutralize it, and residents of 17 apartment buildings within a radius of 200 meters were evacuated. According to Governor of the Belgorod region Vyacheslav Gladkov, about 3,000 people were evacuated; they were all promised to be provided with food and accommodation.

Let us recall that in early spring, the same FAB-500M-62 air-dropped bomb with UMPK [unified planning and correction module — a Russian analogue of the JDAM] fell in Donetsk and also did not explode. In all cases known to us, it was the Russian Army that dropped air bombs. We have not seen reliable evidence of the use of air-dropped bombs (with JDAM or ordinary ones) by the Ukrainian side so far.

The Situation on the Frontline

Commander of the Ukrainian Ground Forces General Oleksandr Syrskyi visited Ukrainian troops in the Bakhmut direction (the exact place of his visit is unclear) again.

According to the DeepState Ukrainian project, which previously claimed that Russian forces had broken through to the road running from Bakhmut near Khromove (without any evidence though), Wagner Group mercenaries have been able to advance even further in this area over the past two days. There is still no visual evidence to support this statement.

One of the OSINT teams bought satellite images of this area. A large number of zigzag trenches can be seen next to the road near Khromove, which help soldiers take cover during artillery shelling (the images also show a lot of shell craters).

A video by a pro-Russian war correspondent Yarem (Aleksandr Yaremchuk, correspondent of RIA FAN [Internet news agency linked to Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin]) filmed near the Bakhmut railway station has surfaced. From this, we can conclude that this part of the town is completely under Russian control and is relatively safe for war correspondents. Judging by the DeepState map, pro-Russian forces have already advanced a little beyond the railroad; fighting is going on in the single-family residential neighborhood and in the area of apartment buildings. It is reported that Russian forces are trying to destroy all high-rise buildings that could be useful for the Ukrainian defense.

On Apr. 23, Russian forces launched five KAB-500KR TV-guided air-dropped bombs from Sukhoi Su-35 fighters (the bombs are guided by GLONASS) on the Kherson area. As reported by the Ukrainian Operational Command South, single-family houses were damaged, and there were no casualties.

In Noginsk, Moscow region, a crashed Ukrainian UJ-22 Airborne drone, stuffed with 17 kg of explosives, was found (in February, a similar one was found near Kolomna). The drone was reported by a resident who was walking in a park. It is possible that it had lain unnoticed for quite a long time.

In pro-Russian Telegram channels, reports began to appear that Ukrainian forces took up positions on the left bank of the Dnipro River. Russian forces fail to hit landing Ukrainian soldiers because of the long decision-making chain from aerial reconnaissance to artillery crews (kill chain). However, according to published landing coordinates, there is a small island at the mouth of the Dnipro River, while the left bank itself is quite far from this place. We assume that we are talking about an ordinary raid by the AFU, which happens regularly.

On Apr. 23, a statement by Yevgeny Prigozhin [Russian oligarch, confidant of Vladimir Putin, and the owner of the Wagner Group] appeared in which he refers to an allegedly intercepted conversation between Ukrainian soldiers where they decide to kill a wounded Wagner prisoner of war because they do not take mercenaries as prisoners. According to Prigozhin, the Wagner Group used to adhere to international principles for the treatment of prisoners of war, but now mercenaries are not going to take any prisoners. We should remember that apparently not many Wagner Group fighters understand that captivity begins from the moment when a soldier clearly indicates that he is surrendering and falls into the power of the enemy.

Head of the united press center of the Tavriskiy direction of Ukrainian Defense Forces Oleksiy Dmitrashkovskyi has reported that Russian troops may again launch an attack on Vuhlehdar. In his personal opinion, after suffering significant losses of personnel on the Avdiivka and Marinka directions, Russian forces will soon concentrate their attention on the Vuhlehdar direction.

This is somewhat confirmed by publications in pro-Russian channels calling for the demolition of a headframe near the mines and high-rise buildings, which are potential locations for snipers and reconnaissance forces, to prepare for a new offensive. It should be noted that Russian forces have been regularly dropping air bombs on Vuhledar lately, often destroying high-rise residential buildings.

France has refused to provide Ukraine with a digital map of Belarus, which would allow Ukrainian aircraft and drones to fly at ultra-low altitudes in Belarusian airspace. Such a map provides a detailed description of the terrain and potential obstacles to flight, such as power lines and detected air defense systems. The refusal is motivated by the statement that allies are ready to support Ukraine as long as it concerns the defense of its own territory, but are not ready to help conduct operations in Belarus or Russia.

Deliveries of Western Military Equipment

After the latest Ramstein meeting, the Latvian Minister of Defense Ināra Mūrniece stated that Latvia would hand over all of its Stinger man-portable air-defense systems to Ukraine. The USA told of the plan to supply Abrams tanks to Germany in order to train Ukrainian tank operators there. Germany, Poland, and Ukraine signed an agreement on repairing Leopard tanks.

According to the Politico news outlet, 31 Abrams tanks will arrive in Germany in the coming weeks for training Ukrainian service members.

The Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur, while summarizing the Ramstein meeting, said that at this moment the main obstacle to the Ukrainian counteroffensive was the rainy weather that complicates the movements of heavy military vehicles. Therefore, the Ukrainian counteroffensive may materialize in one or two months or even less if the weather changes.

Mykola Oleschuk, the Commander of the Ukrainian Air Force, published a photo of him standing in front of a Patriot surface-to-air missile system and reported that this particular system was already on combat duty in Ukraine.

Spokesman of the Air Force Command of the AFU Yuriy Ihnat also stated that one Patriot system had been deployed to combat duty and that the rest of the systems were on their way.

The Ukraine Weapons Tracker project noticed that Ukrainian soldiers were using Jordan-sourced missiles for 9K33 Osa surface-to-air missile systems. These missiles are recognizable by their bright orange color. In an interview, one of the Ukrainian soldiers says that these missiles are about 50 to 60% effective in striking their targets, compared to the 80% effectiveness of the Soviet-made missiles.

9K33 Osa systems had been in service with Jordan until 2017, when part of them was sold to Armenia. During the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, they also experienced problems.

According to the Economist, some of the eight Mikoyan MiG-29 fighters recently provided by Slovakia and Poland are unfit for flight and are used as spare parts donors.

Six Spanish Leopard 2 tanks are headed for Poland to be then transported to Ukraine.

The Czech Republic supplied 12 more modernized T-72M4CZ (T-72M1) tanks to Ukraine.

Referring to the leaked classified Pentagon documents,The Washington Post writes that Defense Intelligence of Ukraine was considering hitting Russian forces and the Wagner Group in Syria with the help of the Kurds. Such attacks were assumed to make Russia deploy additional forces to Syria, but back in December, Volodymyr Zelenskyy ordered the plan to be canceled. We do not believe that Ukrainian intelligence could have achieved its goals this way.

Yevgeny Prigozhin said that the son of Dmitry Peskov [Russian President’s spokesperson] had fought in the Wagner Group as a regular artilleryman in a crew of an Uragan MLRS.

Vladimir Solovyov [Russian TV presenter and propagandist] said that he had filmed an interview with Nikolay Peskov back in January. The Astra independent media outlet clarified that the information given by the mercenary in this interview didn’t correspond to Nikolay’s biography.

Moreover, some Telegram channels found out that during the months when Peskov's son was allegedly on the frontline, several fines were issued for his Tesla car. It is known that Nikolay loves his car very much and does not let anyone drive it. Under that logic, it was he who was driving the car at the time of the offenses.

Also, we remind you that from the perspective of Russian legislation, the Wagner Group is an illegal armed formation, therefore such recognition becomes the basis for at least a criminal investigation in the future.

Olga Romanova, Executive Director of the Rus’ Sidyashchaya [Russia Behind Bars] civil rights movement reports that the son of Governor of the Primorsky region Oleg Kozhemyako allegedly "fights on the fronts in the same way as the son of Peskov" which is confirmed with a couple of selfies in uniform, a certificate from Prigozhin, and a medal.

Journalists from the Vyorstka media outlet studied the financial statements of companies affiliated with Yevgeny Prigozhin and found out that companies engaged in food supplies to schools and medical institutions showed a record net profit of over 4.4 billion rubles in 2022.