February 22, 2023

Sitrep for February 21-22 (as of 03:00 p.m.) 

Strikes on towns and cities

On the evening of Feb. 21, 10 (according to other sources, 15) explosions were reported in Mariupol. Reportedly, some of these were caused by the work of air defense systems. Advisor to the Ukrainian mayor of Mariupol, Petro Andryuschenko, reported a strike on the Mariupol port. There has been no visual evidence of this yet.

In addition, on Feb. 21, explosions were also reported in a number of other towns in the Russian-controlled territory: Donetsk, Makiivka, Khartsyzk, Debaltseve, and Ilovaisk, but no independent confirmation has been received yet.

On Feb. 22, the town of Shebekino in the Belgorod region, Russia, was hit. As a result, a shopping center caught fire, and one person was seriously injured.

On Feb. 21, Russian forces hit the Kyivskyi district of Kharkiv. An industrial enterprise and residential areas were hit. Two people are known to be injured.

Besides, on Feb. 21, the city of Kherson was attacked. A bus stop and residential buildings were hit. To date, there is information about 6 killed and 12 wounded. Judging by the photos of those who were killed at the bus stop, they were civilians.

The situation on the frontline

In the Kupiansk direction, Russian forces advance from the side of Hrianykivka (north of Kupiansk). Most likely, their goal is to access the Oskil River, where they will have control over its left (eastern) riverside and be able to destroy the Ukrainian logistics hub in Kupiansk.

In the Bakhmut direction, the Armed Forces of Ukraine are in a difficult situation. Russian forces continue to expand their bridgehead northwest of Bakhmut, advancing to the village of Berkhivka near the village of Yahidne. They can try to close the encirclement of Bakhmut by advancing further along the forests towards Bohdanivka.

Also, in the northwest of Bakhmut, Russian forces are advancing towards Vasiukivka to further develop an offensive towards Siversk and Sloviansk.

Despite the shell hunger among pro-Russian forces, we believe that the Armed Forces of Ukraine will have to leave Bakhmut in the near future.

The New York Times has released an article mentioning both US President Joe Biden’s speech during his visit to Poland and Vladimir Putin's Presidential Address to the Russian Federal Assembly. The article also cited an American intelligence report on Russia preparing to launch the second wave of mobilization and call up hundreds of thousands more people to the army.

Bloomberg published a new article about JDAM kits [a guidance kit that converts unguided bombs into precision-guided munitions], which will be supplied as part of the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. However, the article doesn’t provide any new information regarding, for example, the delivery period.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni announced in Kyiv the sixth package of military aid to Ukraine, which will include SAMP/T SAM and Skyguard area defense systems, as well as Spike ATGMs. It is noteworthy that the Skyguard-Sparrow is a short-range and medium-range surface-to-air missile system with a range of up to 120 km, capable of intercepting ballistic missiles.

Serbia has decided to abandon the purchase of Russian MiG-29 fighter jets and will purchase French Rafale fighter jets instead, as it has become almost impossible to supply parts for Russian aircraft to Serbia due to sanctions.

The first video of the flight of the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, which recently entered service with the Ukrainian Main Directorate of Intelligence (HUR), has appeared, as claimed.

Numerous field commanders from separatist republics and their subordinates (e.g., Eduard Basurin, a commander of the "1st Army Corps" of the so-called DPR) were not admitted to the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. The Ministry of Defense of Russia has officially stated that no dismissal decisions were made after the incorporation. Subsequently, pro-Russian bloggers (Sladkov, for example) began posting the explanations that the issue was rooted in the fact that separatist officers were ineligible for Russian Army officer service (many of them do not have higher education, and some of them are ineligible due to their age or health condition). It is reported that, in fact, they were not “dismissed” but “were not employed as Russian regular officers.”

Vladimir Putin has bestowed the title of Guards Brigade on the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade. On Jul. 14, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down using a Buk SAM system belonging to this brigade.

General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, Xi Jinping, plans to visit Moscow and have a meeting with Vladimir Putin.

The so-called Freedom of Russia Legion has published a note in which it explains the absence of data on its losses by the fact that many of the killed Legion members have relatives in Russia, and it will not be safe for them to publish such information. We consider the existence of the "Legion" that includes more than 5-10 fighters unrealistic precisely because the Russian Federal Security Service would be able to use their relatives as hostages.

In addition, in 2023, it is impossible to remain anonymous for a whole year and conceal all information about the participants in a unit commensurate with two battalions (according to their claims). We would have learned about their losses from outside sources, just as we learn about the losses of the Georgian Legion, the Belarusian [KastuĹ› KalinoĹ­ski] Regiment, and the International Legion.

Bakhmut, the area where the "Legion" is allegedly fighting, has been a flashpoint area for many months. From journalists and people fighting there, we get information about the units involved in defense of Bakhmut, such as Belarusian units and the International Legion, but there is not a single report about the “Freedom of Russia Legion” during this whole time.

All photos of the "Legion" are published by the “Legion” itself or by journalists after the "press tour." Let us note as well that all the photos of the "Legion" show servicemen in clean and brand-new uniforms. In the absence of confirmation from third-party sources at a grassroots level (which is extremely difficult to fake up), such publications will never be convincing. Similarly, in 2017, pro-Russian military commander Oleg Blokhin tried to “prove” the existence of the so-called “Turan” PMC but did not succeed.

We do not remember that in previous years (before the full-scale invasion), security at events involving Putin was provided, among other things, by air defense systems (excluding the World Cup and the Olympics). Although in light of recent events, when Pantsir-S SPAAGM systems appeared on the roof of the Ministry of Defense building on the Frunzenskaya embankment, near Novo-Ogaryovo [suburban residence of the President of Russia] and on one of the office centers near the Kremlin, it is not surprising that such a system was deployed opposite the site of the concert at the Luzhniki Stadium.