April 10, 2023

Sitrep for Apr. 7-10 (as of 11:00 a.m.) 

The Situation on the Frontline

OSINT analyst Def Mon showed how Russian positions in the Bakhmut direction have changed in two weeks: the main changes can be seen in the central part of Bakhmut.

On Apr. 8, an ammunition depot of the AFU was hit in Kostiantynivka (southwest of Bakhmut). The photo of the aftermath shows mortar rounds scattered on the ground and Ukrainian soldiers collecting them.

On Apr. 8, there was an explosion in the town of Feodosia in Crimea (no information about the aftermath was reported). Based on the available photographs, it is impossible to say exactly what exploded. The pro-Russian Telegram channel Rybar claims that a Ukrainian Hrim [Thunder] operational-tactical missile was fired, but we cannot confirm this information. Feodosia is located about 250 km from the frontline within the range of large Ukrainian drones capable of covering such a distance.

One of the separatists who have been fighting in the Donbas since 2014 and now is a deputy head of the main department of Rosgvardia [the National Guard of Russia] in the occupied territories, Aleksandr Khodakovsky, reports that the rate of daily issuance of ammunition has been reduced to almost zero in those sectors of the front where there is no active fighting.

Leaked Secret Pentagon Documents

Bellingcat investigators have found out how this document leak happened. Initially (apparently, back in January), the documents appeared on one of the servers (now deleted) in Discord, and in early April they appeared on 4chan, where they were found by pro-Russian journalists who published them, having changed the estimates of losses. The original source of the leak has not been found yet, but those who had eyewitnessed the documents on the same Discord server told investigators that many more of them had been originally leaked than were made public then, but most likely, they had been deleted with the server.

The data from the leaked documents have been combined into a map showing the saturation of certain sectors of the front with troops. The smallest concentration of Russian forces is observed on the Kherson axis due to the natural barrier (Dnipro River), slightly more forces are observed on the Zaporizhzhia axis (in our opinion, this is the weakest sector of the front, so there is a possibility of a Ukrainian counteroffensive in this area). The sector most saturated with Russian troops is the Donetsk axis: directions to Bakhmut, Sloviansk, Kramatorsk, and Donetsk.

The New York Times reports in its new article that leaked secret Pentagon documents contain information that by the end of February, the situation around Bakhmut had become critical: Ukrainian forces were almost in an operational encirclement, which caused the morale of the soldiers to drop significantly. This had been stated by the chief of the Main Directorate of Intelligence of Ukraine, Kyrylo Budanov. Most likely, raising the morale of the soldiers was indeed one of the main goals of Volodymyr Zelenskyy's trip to Bakhmut.

This coincided with our assessment of the situation in this direction; however, we made the wrong conclusion that Bakhmut would have to be left soon.

The documents also describe that elite Ukrainian units were deployed to this sector of the front to reduce the danger to the Armed Forces of Ukraine on the remaining supply route. Thus, a part of Bakhmut has been held under the control of Ukrainian forces, and the military still had access to the road (although not the safest and partly unpaved). However, the question of price remains open.

Vazhnyye Istorii [iStories, an independent Russian investigative media outlet] noted that the Ukrainian air defense forces may (or may have already) run out of missiles for some anti-aircraft systems, including the Buk, S-300, German IRIS-T, and the US NASAMS. There is nowhere to replenish the stocks of missiles for the Buk and S-300 SAM systems, which may have already run out. Therefore, it is necessary either to change these systems for others or to attempt to adapt Western missiles to them.

One of the leaked secret documents from the Pentagon mentions Putin's chemotherapy, but it is impossible to double-check this information. It can be both rumors and secret intelligence.

Also citing a classified Pentagon documents leak, the Washington Post reports that in September 2022, the Russian military nearly shot down a British spy plane in the Black Sea. The RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft flew near the Crimea, accompanied by two Russian Sukhoi Su-27 fighter jets, who behaved "recklessly": one of the fighters approached the reconnaissance aircraft at a distance of 4.5 meters, and the second fighter “released a missile” at a distance.

The Times newspaper, citing sources in the Ukrainian Army and intelligence, talks about an unsuccessful operation on Oct. 19 when the Ukrainian military tried to land on the left bank of the Dnipro River and recapture the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. They failed (we did not believe the Russian side's claims about such an attack then). Unfortunately, the story is based only on words, without any confirmation.

Based on visual data, the Oryx project confirmed the loss of more than 10,000 units of military vehicles by the RuAF.

Poland will transfer 200 Rosomak armored personnel carriers to Ukraine: 100 APCs will be transferred now, and another 100 of them — later (only 100 units were reportedly pledged before).

Mobilization Update

Olga Romanova, Executive Director of the Rus’ Sidyashchaya [Russia Behind Bars] civil rights movement, reports that now when recruiting convicts, a contract is signed for a year and a half instead of six months. We do not understand the practical meaning of such changes since, during the period of mobilization, all contracts with the Russian Ministry of Defense became open-ended, regardless of the contract validity period.

In Omsk, conscripts are mailed registered letters from the Ministry of Defense. At the moment, such a format for sending draft notices is not provided by law and is not binding.

The Vladimir State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company claims to have recruited as many as seventeen groups of volunteer fighters who, following only a one-week basic training course, will be deployed to the frontline.

At the end of January, some pro-Russian Telegram channels reported that the commander of the Russian Airborne Forces, General Mikhail Teplinsky, was allegedly dismissed due to a refusal to use paratroopers in the ongoing direct assaults. However, there was no confirmation of this information, and the website of the Russian Ministry of Defense still calls him the commander of the Airborne Forces. A photo of a certificate of gratitude signed by him on Mar. 7, 2023, has surfaced.