April 24

Sitrep for April 22-24, 2024 (as of 8:30 a.m. UTC+3)

Frontline Situation Update

In the Pokrovsk (Avdiivka) direction, the Russian Armed Forces have seized a significant portion of the village of Ocheretyne, northwest of Avdiivka. This is substantiated by video footage recorded in the southern and central parts of the village, as well as by Ukrainian sources who later reported on the complete capture of the village.

From a military perspective, advancing such a long distance along the railway could prove a risky play for Russian forces. A flanking maneuver by the Armed Forces of Ukraine could potentially encircle the entire Russian contingent in Ocheretyne. This local Russian success is likely attributed to the advance being conducted on higher ground, surrounded by low-lying fields on either side.

Some soldiers, as well as analysts, have characterized the capture of Ocheretyne as a Russian breakthrough. Some, too, have blamed the 115th Mechanized Brigade of the AFU for allegedly abandoning their positions. We speculate that the RuAF may have exploited a Ukrainian troop rotation to launch their attack. However, we also consider this maneuver to be a local tactical success, not indicative of a broader breakthrough into operational areas.

Expectations remain that Ukrainian defenses will face continued pressure in this sector of the front, possibly prompting the AFU to mount counterattacks. Conversely, drone and artillery strikes could allow Ukrainian forces to sever the Russian grouping in Ocheretyne from its supply lines, thus nullifying their current tactical gains.

Similarly to this "breakthrough," during the summer offensive in 2023, the AFU successfully advanced past the "Surovikin line" near the village of Verbove. However, they did not break through into operational space, as the advance slowed down before reaching the next defensive line.

During the fighting for Ocheretyne, there was another case of friendly fire. A group of Russian soldiers mistakenly fired upon another group, whose fighters were dressed in MultiCam camouflage uniforms. This type of camouflage is also used by Ukrainian and American troops. Even after discovering Russian passports on the killed soldiers, the fighters assumed that they had killed defectors from the “Russian Volunteer Corps.” However, upon further investigation, the passport of one of the deceased soldiers was identified as belonging to a Russian volunteer fighter.

This incident is not the first instance of casualties resulting from the use of MultiCam camouflage. Previously, Ukrainian soldiers mistakenly identified approaching Russian soldiers wearing similar camouflage as their own and were killed as a result. That is why the practice of wearing colored ribbons on sleeves for identification is common and widely used on the frontline.

Russian Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Protection units have started installing aerosol screens on the Donetsk axis, presumably to conceal the movements of soldiers and military equipment from Ukrainian drones. Previously, we had only observed the installation of aerosol screens around the Crimean Bridge.

Western Assistance

The US Senate has approved a bill on aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. As expected, President Biden signed the bill the following morning EST. Thus, the first batches of weapons are expected to be delivered to Ukraine in the near future.

According to Reuters sources, the first package of military aid will total $1 billion (it is worth noting that the last several packages did not exceed $100-200 million) and will include:

  • Armored vehicles;
  • TOW and Javelin anti-tank missiles;
  • Stinger anti-aircraft missiles;
  • 155mm artillery rounds;
  • Additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS);
  • other weapons.

In briefings to Congress in recent weeks, administration officials have indicated that the US will likely transfer to Ukraine long-range ATACMS tactical ballistic missiles as part of the new aid package, according to three sources cited by CNN. We believe that these missiles will have a range of up to 300 km [186 mi].

These deliveries should significantly improve the situation of the AFU on the frontline. For example, MANPADS are necessary for Ukrainian troops to defend against the Russian Aerospace Forces in the area of Chasiv Yar. Previously, we mentioned increased air activity supporting the offensive actions of the RuAF in this area. At the same time, it would make more sense for Russian forces to strengthen their defenses rather than conduct offensive actions.

In addition to the approved US aid worth $61 billion, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced his country’s largest military aid package to Ukraine, totaling £500 million [$600 million]. It will include:

  • 60 boats including offshore raiding craft, rigid raiding craft and dive boats as well as maritime guns;
  • More than 1,600 strike and air defense missiles, as well as additional Storm Shadow long-range precision-guided missiles;
  • More than 400 vehicles, including 160 Husky protected mobility vehicles (additional armored vehicles will also improve the evacuation of the wounded);
  • Nearly 4 million rounds of small arms ammunition.

At the same time, the schedule for the arrival of the first batches of ammunition purchased under the Czech initiative has shifted. According to Josep Borrell, they will now arrive at the end of May or the beginning of June.

Ukrainian and Russian Strikes

On April 23, the Ukrainian Tivaz unit successfully hit the ground surveillance radar and control vehicles of a S-300V or S-300V4 SAM system, approximately 40 km [25 mi] from the frontline.

On April 22, the same unit struck a Russian Buk-M2 SAM system spotted in the Luhansk region. Judging by the secondary detonation, it appears that the target hit was not a mock-up.

In addition, the Tivaz unit targeted a Russian 2S4 Tyulpan 240mm self-propelled heavy mortar, with secondary detonation again captured on video. As noted by Special Kherson Cat, a military analyst, following the approval of the US aid package, the AFU have markedly increased their attacks using HIMARS MLRS, as they anticipate new ammunition deliveries.

It is worth noting again that traveling to Crimea remains dangerous for Russian residents. Ukrainian forces continue their efforts to attack military facilities in Crimea and may increase the intensity of attacks, especially with the arrival of military assistance, including long-range ATACMS tactical ballistic missiles.

The body of the fourth crew member of the Tupolev Tu-22M3 long-range strategic and maritime strike bomber, which crashed in the Stavropol region on April 19, has been found. Thus, only half of the crew managed to survive, with the body of another deceased crew member found immediately following the crash.

Fresh satellite images of the Kommuna rescue ship, which was reportedly hit by debris from a downed Neptune subsonic cruise missile on April 21, show no significant damage. This suggests that the vessel will likely undergo repairs.

On April 22, the RuAF struck a TV tower in Kharkiv. The Polkovnyk Henshtabu [Colonel of the General Staff] Telegram channel suggests the use of a D-30SN Universal Inter-Branch Gliding Munition (UMPB), a Russian analog of the GLSDB, while the Kharkiv Prosecutor's Office suggests it might have been a Kh-59 cruise missile. Governor Oleh Synyehubov reports that despite the tower collapse, mobile communication and internet services remain operational. Experts agree that the destruction of the TV tower will not affect military communication in the region and, from a military standpoint, the strike served no discernible purpose.

On the night of April 24, Kharkiv was hit by two modified S-300 missiles, preliminary reports indicate. Multi-story residential buildings and office structures were damaged, with six people injured.

On the night of April 24, Ukrainian drones once again targeted sites in various Russian regions. Visual data suggests that in the Smolensk region, oil depots caught fire. Although initially reports mentioned one refinery in Smolensk and another in Voronezh, in reality, the drones hit two oil depots in the Smolensk and Yartsevo districts of the Smolensk region.

According to sources from the Wall Street Journal, the United States is working on sanctions against Chinese banks for cooperating with Russia. It has also been reported that in March 2024, direct imports from China of machinery, equipment and mechanisms decreased by 15% compared to the previous year. It is worth noting that since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, the volume of CNC machine tool shipments from China to Russia has increased tenfold, and, in addition, engines for drones and microchips are being supplied in contravention of sanctions.

The Deputy Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation, Timur Ivanov, has been detained on suspicion of accepting a bribe. Ivanov has been working at the Ministry of Defense since 2013, overseeing major state construction projects such as the Main Cathedral of the Russian Armed Forces, Patriot Park [military theme park near Moscow] and the Vostochny Cosmodrome. After the start of the war, he oversaw reconstruction projects in the city of Mariupol, which was destroyed by Russian troops.

According to information from the sources of VChK-OGPU Telegram channel, the real reason for the detention is Ivanov's long-standing confrontation with General Vladimir Alekseyev, the First Deputy Executive of the Main Directorate (ex-GRU) of the General Staff. Ivanov had been trying for a long time to dismiss or imprison Alekseyev, while Alekseyev, in response, had been gathering compromising materials on Ivanov and forwarding them to military counterintelligence. Vazhnyye Istorii [IStories, independent Russian investigative media outlet] alleges that Ivanov is suspected of treason.

Pro-Russian Telegram channels, which had not previously written anything negative about Ivanov, enthusiastically reacted to his detention. Some of them even quoted the investigation by Alexei Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation about Ivanov, released at the end of 2022, while simultaneously mentioning that it was made by a "thoroughly deceitful channel."

Some propaganda Telegram channels, apparently, have begun to understand how widespread corruption and incompetence are in the RuAF even before Ivanov's arrest, starting to publish emotional accusatory posts. For example, the pro-Russian Telegram channel Trinadtsatyy [the 13th] of “DPR” serviceman Egor Guzenko criticizes Major Andrey Kovalev in the crudest possible language. Kovalev allegedly reassigned Guzenko’s tankman friend to assault troops, leading to his death, and purportedly consciously sent soldiers on assaults with non-functioning weapons.

Yury Kokhovets, a 38-year-old Moscow resident, has been sentenced to five years of forced labor for "fake news" about the army. The reason for the man's persecution was his anti-war statements made during a street interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in the summer of 2022. In March 2023, Kokhovets was detained, and on April 22, 2024, a verdict was passed. The prosecution requested five and a half years of penal colony, while the maximum punishment under this charge is up to 10 years of imprisonment.