April 8, 2023

Sitrep for Apr. 6-7 (as of 09:00 a.m.) 

The situation on the frontline

Fighting continues in the Bakhmut direction, but there have been no changes so far. Pro-Russian “war correspondents” travel around the occupied territories and film reports, obviously feeling safe.

The AFU published a video showing Ukrainian servicemen riding on a BMP-2 IFV in the area of Bakhmut. The vehicle drives past three Turkish BMC Kirpi MRAPs, as well as several cars and trucks abandoned on the sides of a road. Due to the proximity to the positions of pro-Russian forces and extreme slush during the muddy season, Ukrainian soldiers had to abandon their vehicles if it was not possible to pull them out of the mud in a few minutes.

There is a video demonstrating the severity of fighting near Bakhmut. It shows two Ukrainian soldiers walking along a field and a forest line past lots of recently killed Wagner Group mercenaries.

There was another strike in the Kalininskyi district of Donetsk. Reportedly, 9 people were killed, and 7 more were injured. On the available video recordings, one can see that an area that looks like an industrial zone (it is said to be a car service station) was hit. The authorities of the so-called “DPR” claimed it was hit with HIMARS or M270 MLRS as they always report in such cases, but there is no evidence of this statement yet.

The situation near Avdiivka is quite difficult for Russian forces: there are many reports of a serious shortage of infantry. However, the situation around Avdiivka cannot be described as a more optimistic one for the Ukrainian side; rather, it becomes similar to the situation in Bakhmut.

Mobilization Update

Active attempts to recruit people into the army by both the Wagner Group and the Russian Defense Ministry continue. The Wagner Group has purchased advertising space on social networks and some regional TV channels.

As part of the Defense Ministry's campaign, residents of the Kaliningrad region are being informed by phone about contract service. In all districts of Saint Petersburg, information points were set up for those wishing to sign a contract with the Defense Ministry. In Moscow, advertising stands for contract service with students engaged as promoters have appeared near metro stations.

Due to the increasing cases of going AWOL by military personnel, it is hard to expect that such measures to attract new recruits will have any noticeable effect.

Yesterday we reported about the plane that went down in the Bryansk region on Apr. 5. The Baza Telegram channel quoted its sources saying that "two sports planes" flew at low altitude and dropped two air bombs on the territory of the Slava factory in the Bryansk region leaving two large craters (6 meters in diameter and 2 meters deep, and 4 meters in diameter and about 1 meter deep). It is not yet clear to us how these planes could have been adapted for dropping air-dropped bombs (craters of this size obviously were not left by hand grenades or VOGs).

While attempting to leave Russia’s territory, one of the planes reportedly hit power lines and crashed. Locals, who witnessed the event, reported it to the police, and the National Guard of Russia detained the pilot.

The Armed Forces of Ukraine started using small incendiary projectiles that were dropped from copters. They are called "Molotov balls." Although the incendiary munition is delivered by air, its use on military equipment outside residential areas is allowed.

The Russian Volunteer Corps has reportedly conducted another sortie into the Bryansk region territory. The Group published a video in which one of the fighters approached a local resident, asked him the name of the village (he answered that it was the village of Sluchovsk in the Bryansk region), and advised him to spend the next few hours in a bomb shelter. Then the video showed footage of firing grenade launchers. However, judging by the fact that immediately after firing, the fighters left their positions easily and without fear of return fire, there was no enemy nearby. The video was reminiscent of Kadyrov's "TikTok troops" with their simulated combat, and we do not expect such actions to lead to any significant effects. Governor of the Bryansk region Alexander Bogomaz reported that the sortie of a sabotage and reconnaissance group of 20 people to the Bryansk region had been quelled, and the group had been allegedly defeated in the crossfire.

An obituary of Oleksandr Zhuk, a Ukrainian serviceman, who served as an operator of the electronic intelligence unit of the radio interception and direction-finding point, appeared. He was buried on Apr. 6, as was the AFU volunteer Ekaterina Yushchenko. From her obituary, it became known that she was killed in a bombing attack on a military facility in the Chernihiv region. Comparing the dates, region, and circumstances, it was possible to discover that these two people were killed when they were hit by high-precision glide bombs fired by Russian Sukhoi  Su-35 fighter jets at the village of Pechenyuhy on Apr. 4.

A leaked “classified Pentagon document” has been published on the Internet and is being actively discussed in part of assessing the losses of both sides. Pro-Russian Telegram channels are spreading a version of the document, which allegedly states that there are 16.5-17.5 thousand KIAs from the Russian side, while the Ukrainian side has 61-71.5 thousand KIAs. In the original document, the numbers are completely different: 35.5-43.5 thousand KIAs from the Russian side and 16-17.5 thousand from the Ukrainian side. It should be noted that our estimate of the number of killed on the Russian side is close to these numbers. In our opinion, this document looks quite credible and resembles a summary for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Vazhnyye Istorii [iStories, an independent Russian investigative media outlet] has calculated the losses among mercenaries and volunteer fighters based on data from the Pension Fund and the Federal Register of People with Disabilities. For now, we continue to discuss and formulate our points of view.