February 28, 2023

Sitrep for February 27-28 (as of 02:30 p.m.) 

On Feb. 28, Kherson was hit once again; a residential building was destroyed, and civilians were killed.

The situation on the frontline

Over the past day, there have been few changes on the frontline; only in the Bakhmut direction, the RuAF managed to advance towards Bohdanivka in the area of Berkhivka.

In recent days, pro-Russian Telegram channels have reported that the AFU allegedly blew up the Pivnichnyi Pond dam (northwest of Bakhmut) to flood nearby territories and slow down Russian advance in this direction. At the moment, most experts doubt either the very fact of undermining or its effectiveness. Radar satellite images show no significant difference between the situation on Jan. 30 and Feb. 27.

The 93rd Separate Mechanized Brigade of the AFU “Kholodnyi Yar” published a video showing fighting south of Bakhmut: a Ukrainian tank, using fire directions given by a drone, fires at a house in which, presumably, enemy soldiers are taking cover. Judging by the geolocation of this video, pro-Russian forces are already making sorties in the southern outskirts of Bakhmut.

Despite the dangerous tactical situation, Ukrainian forces are still holding positions in Bakhmut. Further development of the situation depends on the political decision of the top leadership of Ukraine.

The Russian Zvezda TV propagandist channel showed a video of the first attacks by Russian marines on Vuhledar (at the end of January — beginning of February). The video was geolocated in the northern suburban area, which is separated from the town by a road. Let us recall that the marines failed to gain a foothold there.

The illustration of unsuccessful Russian attacks in the Vuhledar direction can be seen in a video showing a BMP infantry fighting vehicle blowing up on a minefield (and possibly also getting hit by an anti-tank guided missile) while attempting to pass by a cluster of destroyed and abandoned Russian military vehicles.

New information has emerged about the casualties of the strike on Makiivka on Jan. 1. At the moment, we already know the names of 132 killed soldiers.

The Administration of the Krasnoarmeysky district in the Krasnodar region reported helping the mother of a mobilized man by fixing the door of her outdoor toilet. However, the post was soon deleted.

Officials in the Belgorod region reported that almost 10 billion rubles were spent on the construction of a "barrier line" — a system of defensive fortifications on the border with Ukraine. The Fonar [Lantern] local media outlet writes that this budget would have been enough to build two infectious disease centers in the region. It should be noted that the "barrier line" serves no purpose, as Ukraine is not interested in attacking Russian territory within the 1991 borders. The evacuation of residents from border areas, which are regularly shelled, and the separation of military and civilian targets would have enhanced the safety of civilians. By the way, a 19-year-old conscript, Afanasy Podaev, who was promised service "1,000 kilometers away from the combat zone," was killed in a recent shelling of the Belgorod region.

The Belarusian police have announced a search for Crimean native Nikolay Shvets on suspicion of committing an "especially serious crime in the town of Machulishchy on Feb. 26." Alyaksandr Lukashenka also held a meeting with representatives of Belarusian special services. These facts indirectly confirm the attack on the Russian Beriev A-50 airborne early warning and control aircraft at the airfield in Machulishchy.

Photos of 2S17-2 Nona-SV self-propelled mortars have appeared. The 2S17-2 Nona-SV was an unrealized Soviet project for the 120mm Nona-S self-propelled mortar on the BRM-1K chassis. After the Russian invasion, the project was revived by the Ukrainians. The photos also show that the muddy season has begun.

Video footage from Bratislava showing a depot with Serbian-made ammunition has appeared. It is reported that initially, Serbia produced rockets for the BM-21 Grad MLRS for Canada. After that, the rockets were sent to Turkey, then to Slovakia, and from Bratislava, they went straight to Ukraine. It is unknown whether the government of Serbia is aware of such a scheme.

The VGTRK [All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company] reporter Andrey Rudenko has published a video shot in Germany. The footage shows a tank trainload allegedly having a 14/88 Nazi symbol. The Polygon Media outlet has found out that the footage was shot in March 2022 and showed the transfer of vehicles to the east in order to strengthen the borders of NATO, and in fact, there were no numbers on the tanks.

It is reported that on Feb. 27, a drone was shot down in Belgorod by an air defense system and crashed in the yard of a residential building (this video shows the flying drone before it was shot down). No casualties were reported. According to several messages, there were three drones.

Probably, in light of this event, several zones above the airports of St. Petersburg and Murmansk were closed for flights on Feb. 28 morning. The Ministry of Defense has claimed that in the case of St. Petersburg, the sky was closed in order to perform anti-aircraft defense exercises, and the fighter jets performed drills on target identification and engagement.

We can not make any comment on the drone crash near Kolomna (Moscow region) on Feb. 28 afternoon and the fire on a petroleum base in the Bryansk region because we do not have sufficient information on the matter at the moment.

The alleged view of the drone as a whole

A few hours before launching a missile attack, Russian forces usually launch Shahed drones so that the Ukrainian air defense systems are disclosed and allowed to adjust fire for cruise missiles. It is not unlikely that Ukrainian forces can use similar tactics — launch cheap simple drones toward Belgorod to detect Russian air defense systems and later launch more powerful drones toward important objects. But so far, we do not see any result of the attack that began last night in Belgorod and continued today.

The possibility of supplying weapons to Russia by China at the moment looks both implausible and unverifiable for us. We do not consider it possible to supply equipment or weapons, as once this is revealed, the sanctions will be very severe. We believe that it is possible to supply gunpowder for artillery shots unnoticed but not ready-made ammunition or drones.

Russia’s large-scale offensive is already underway. But the problem of "shell hunger" and the low qualifications and motivation of mobilized personnel who replenish the units that have suffered losses is still in place. Therefore, there are no successes near Vuhledar and Kreminna, and the progress under Bakhmut is very slow, although it was expected to be captured by the end of February. The situation may change if Russia announces a second wave of mobilization.

The muddy season will soon begin, which will slow down all hostilities and greatly hinder the advance of both sides. Therefore, we assume that Ukrainian forces will wait it out and go on the offensive in late April — early May. We do not know how much force (including the amount of missiles) Ukraine will have by that time and how effectively the AFU will use those Western military vehicles that are now beginning to be supplied. We are concerned about the markedly shortened training time because, in this case, the weapons will be used less effectively and will be less useful. In addition, a lot depends on how the logistics of all necessary spare parts will be organized. It is necessary to form separate units that will have suitable special equipment, spare parts, and trained mechanics for the new vehicles.

We cannot predict how successful the Ukrainian offensive will be. If everything goes according to the plan of the Ukrainian side, but at the same time Russia conducts a large-scale second wave of mobilization, then tremendous losses among the military of both countries are expectable since mobilized soldiers are poorly suited for attacks but are quite capable of holding the line.

Ilya Krasilshchik launched the Support Service app, which contains psychological and support lines for those wishing to leave Russia, an information channel with news about the war, a channel for volunteers, and an anti-stress section to keep one's sanity amidst a flow of negative information.