April 5, 2023

Sitrep for Apr. 4-5 (as of 09:00 a.m.) 

The situation on the frontline

In our opinion, a map posted by the pro-Russian Telegram channel Bryusselskiy svyaznoy [Brussels Communication Agent] still quite accurately reflects the real situation in Bakhmut. The main fighting continues in the south of the town near the cemetery and Korsunskoho Street: Russian forces are trying to advance towards the Vodokanal water service company. The center of the town is in fact completely captured, and Russian forces also keep gradually advancing there. There were no videos showing the current state of the front in the north of Bakhmut in recent days.

In confirmation of the words of the pro-Russian war correspondent Aleksandr Sladkov, who complained that problems with ammunition and counter-battery combat prevented the RuAF from holding captured positions, the pro-Russian Telegram channel Voyenkor Kotenok Z reported that Russian forces had to retreat from Marinka.

Both sides have begun to use aircraft more actively. The village of Pechenyuhy in the Chernihiv region (25 km from the border with the Bryansk region of Russia) was hit by Russian Sukhoi Su-35 multirole fighters. Air-dropped bombs hit a single-family house and outbuildings, resulting in a fire. There is no information about the victims, as well as about military facilities near the site of the strike.

Spokesman of the Air Force Command of the AFU Yuriy Ihnat reported that Russia was using an average of 10-15 (sometimes up to 20) high-precision gliding bombs per day. These are dropped by Russian Sukhoi Su-35 and Su-34 fighters out of the range of the Ukrainian air defense systems.

It has already become a serious problem for Ukraine, which, according to Yuriy Ihnat, can be solved with supplies of Western fighters equipped with long-range air-to-air missiles.

On Apr. 4, 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty, which became the basic statutory document of NATO, was signed. Exactly 74 years later, on Apr. 4, 2023, Finland became another member of the North Atlantic Alliance.

In addition, there is news from Finland that after its accession to NATO, the construction of a fence on the border with Russia has begun, which will take about four years and cost millions of euros. In terms of protection against military invasion, such a fence would not be a serious barrier to a mechanized offensive.

According to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, “to make any meaningful progress on this issue [NATO membership], the first step is to insure that Ukraine prevails as a sovereign, independent nation.”In other words, it is possible after the end of the war.

Mobilization News

The Russian State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia] approved in the first reading the bill of the Defense Ministry that expands the list of categories of servicemen who can take part in peacekeeping operations. Now, conscripts can be sent to such conflict zones as Nagorno-Karabakh and Transnistria in order to withdraw contract servicemen who are very much needed on the frontline.

In addition, participants in the "special military operation" were included in the program of preferential auto loans. However, the program will be valid only for cars assembled in Russia and costing less than 2 million rubles [about 25,000 USD] (there are very few such cars in the Russian car market now).

In the previous decade, many school teachers actively helped to falsify elections by rewriting protocols, stuffing ballots, and preventing observers from working at polling stations. Now, a number of teachers are actually helping to send even more people to war. In Novosibirsk colleges, meetings are held between students and military commissars (teachers have to ensure 100% attendance), where students are told how good it is to sign a contract with the Defense Ministry after graduating from college, go to the "special military operation" zone and "become a hero."

The Wagner Group, deprived of the opportunity to replenish its personnel by recruiting convicts, has switched to aggressive advertising — the method already used by the Ministry of Defense, including distributing leaflets by mail, and outdoor advertising (including digital billboards) in various regions of Russia.

We still believe that these measures will not attract a large number of recruits.

Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu stated that since the beginning of 2023, Russia had destroyed 14 HIMARS MLRS (this sounds particularly strange, as such news has been appearing quite rarely lately), as well as 59 M777 howitzers, 13 [M109] Paladin self-propelled howitzers, and 30 self-propelled guns from Poland, Germany, France, and the Czech Republic.

Deliveries of Western Military Equipment

On Apr. 4, the United States announced a new $2.6 billion security assistance package for Ukraine. Again, we note that for reasons of secrecy, the amount of ammunition supplied (with the exception of rounds of small arms ammunition) is not indicated.

The first part is allocated from the US Army reserves and will be delivered in the near future. It will include:

  • Additional munitions for Patriot air defense systems;
  • Additional ammunition for HIMARS;
  • 155mm and 105mm artillery rounds;
  • 120mm mortar rounds;
  • 120mm and 105mm tank ammunition;
  • 25mm ammunition for Bradley IFVs;
  • Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked, Wire-Guided (TOW) missiles;
  • Approximately 400 grenade launchers and 200,000 rounds of ammunition;
  • 11 tactical vehicles to recover equipment;
  • 61 heavy fuel tankers;
  • 10 trucks and 10 trailers to transport heavy equipment, like tanks, for example;
  • Testing and diagnostic equipment to support vehicle maintenance and repair;
  • Spare parts and other field equipment.

The second part is allocated under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI). These funds will go for contracts with manufacturers for:

  • Additional munitions for National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS);
  • Nine counter-Unmanned Aerial System 30mm gun trucks;
  • 10 mobile c-UAS laser-guided rocket systems;
  • Three air surveillance radars;
  • 30mm (probably for BMP-2 IFVs) and 23mm (probably for Soviet anti-aircraft guns) anti-aircraft ammunition;
  • 130mm (for М-46 towed field guns) and 122mm artillery rounds;
  • 122mm GRAD rockets;
  • Rocket launchers and ammunition;
  • 120mm and 81mm mortar systems;
  • 120mm, 81mm, and 60mm mortar rounds;
  • 120mm tank ammunition;
  • Javelin anti-armor systems;
  • Anti-armor rockets;
  • Precision aerial munitions (probably JDAM kits);
  • Approximately 3,600 small arms and more than 23,000,000 rounds of small arms ammunition;
  • Seven tactical vehicles to recover equipment;
  • Eight heavy fuel tankers and 105 fuel trailers;
  • Armored bridging systems;
  • Four logistics support vehicles;
  • Trucks and ten trailers to transport heavy equipment;
  • Secure communications equipment;
  • SATCOM terminals and services;
  • Funding for training, maintenance, and sustainment.

We do not have exact data on how many Russian soldiers who served under the contract before the start of the invasion of Ukraine are still in the ranks. However, we see the consequences of a decrease in the proportion of the most trained soldiers: since the beginning of partial mobilization, there have been essentially no large-scale offensives, the Russian Army is mainly holding positions already taken.

It is worth noting that Ukraine has the same problem: losses of personnel have led to the situation when the draftees begin to play a major role. According to many Western experts, such as Michael Kofman, by the beginning of 2023, Ukraine has lost its advantage in personnel numbers.

In the Russian Army, in the absence of this advantage, they are trying to   increase the motivation of troops. Political officers are actively investing education efforts for this purpose: they come up with booklets, wall newspapers, and propaganda lessons, but, according to our observations, in most cases this propaganda is futile, because soldiers (including those who support Putin the most) do not pay any attention to these efforts.