March 13, 2023

Sitrep for Mar. 11-13 (as of 10:00 a.m.) 

The situation on the frontline

The Bakhmut direction is still the one where the fiercest fighting is going on of the entire line of contact. There were two videos by the 93rd Separate Mechanized Brigade of the AFU showing Ukrainian IFVs firing at the enemy in a single-family residential neighborhood in the south of Bakhmut.

The current critical situation for the AFU in Bakhmut caused an ambiguous reaction in Ukrainian society. Many criticized the actions of General Oleksandr Syrskyi, who stated that holding Bakhmut was necessary in order to buy time for the coming spring counter-offensive.

Defense Express expert Ivan Kirichevsky claimed that the Russian side had lost 50,000 people killed and up to 200 tanks near Bakhmut.

We still consider such estimates to be exaggerated (the estimate of total losses of 30 thousand people proposed by the British expert Philip Ingram seems to be more realistic, and tank losses, according to objective data, are an order of magnitude less).

Pro-Russian forces keep gradually advancing in the north of Bakhmut.

There was a video showing the destruction of a Russian 2A65 Msta-B 152mm howitzer at the crossroads leading from Bakhmut to Siversk and Sloviansk. Given the firing range of this howitzer, Russian forces can hit all the remaining Bakhmut supply routes near Khromove and Ivanivske from this position.

In recent days, there have been reports by Ukrainian soldiers indicating that Russian forces have been moving civilians out of occupied areas of Bakhmut. The fate of these civilians is unknown.

Russian forces have pushed the Ukrainian Army back to the village of Torske and away from Kreminna and Dibrova in the Kreminna direction.

Judging the situation in Bakhmut and Kreminna directions on a map, one can see the “Siversk protrusion”: to the south of Siversk, Bakhmut lies currently in an operational encirclement, and to the north, Russian forces made significant advances in the direction of Kreminna. Moreover,  the supply of the town from the north is hampered by the Siverskyi Donets River. In the near future, the town of Siversk can end up in a very dangerous situation.

Pro-Russian Telegram channels explain the possible tactics of pro-Russian forces in the Bakhmut direction. If they manage to advance in the north (capturing Minkivka) to the Siverskyi Donets — Donbas Canal, they can try to trap Ukrainian forces in a pocket, moving along the Canal both from the north and the south (bypassing Ivanivske).

The implementation of this plan may take quite a long time, so it is premature to talk about the danger of a pocket at the moment.

There is evidence of Russia's use of new precision-guided munitions. Fragments of the 9-A-7759 Grom guided missile and bomb weapon system of the RuAF were found in Ukraine. There are different variants of this weapon system with different warheads, engine-powered ones (range up to 120 km) and without engines (up to 65 km). This system was developed back in the 2010s but has not been used before.

In early January, Russian forces demonstrated their “response to JDAM,” a guidance kit that converts unguided aerial bombs into a glide and guided ones. Evidence of their use has appeared: an unexploded FAB-500M-62 air-dropped bomb was found in the Kuibyshevskyi district of Donetsk with fragments of exactly such a kit nearby.

The Kuibyshevskyi district of Donetsk was hit on Mar. 11; two civilians were killed.

The town of Perevalsk in the Luhansk region was hit on Mar. 12. A GMLRS rocket filled with fragmentation elements was reportedly used. Three local residents were killed, and seven more were injured.

Numerous videos show that the roads along the entire frontline have become more impassable due to a muddy season to such an extent that even the tracked MT-LB armored multi-purpose tractor can hardly tow an M777 howitzer.

A video emerged showing the shelling of Vuhledar with thermite incendiary ammunition. A large number of civilian cars present in the video may belong to a local unit of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, but even if a military facility was a target, the use of incendiary ammunition in a residential area of a city or a town is still prohibited (as it is an indiscriminate weapon) and is a war crime.

Last week, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation published as many as 17 videos showing the good conditions created for the training of mobilized soldiers. Satisfied servicemen are showcased, and a call to join follows. This is likely an attempt to present numerous viral video complaints of those mobilized as exceptions. It may also be a preparation for the information campaign to recruit 400,000 contract soldiers by the end of the year, which we mentioned in the previous sitrep.

Mediazona [an independent Russian media outlet] and BBC News Russian have updated the data on the number of killed Russian soldiers identified by open sources. To this moment, journalists know the names of 16,774 Russian soldiers, including 1,456 mobilized ones and 1,849 convicts who were killed in the war in Ukraine.

A Greek military magazine reported that Greece might transfer BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles and M113 armored personnel carriers to Ukraine and receive 300 Bradley armored fighting vehicles from the USA in return. We should note that this delivery will not reduce the number of Bradley fighting vehicles that will be transferred to Ukraine.

Luxembourg supplied Ukraine with 14 Venari armored ambulances.

BBC News Russian published an article about Russian mobilized soldiers. After training, they arrive at the frontline and fall under the command of former separatists, who use them as assault infantry which leads to heavy losses.