March 16, 2023

Sitrep for Mar. 14-16 (as of 04:30 p.m.) 

The situation on the frontline

Wagner Group mercenaries announced the capture of the settlement of Zaliznianske to the northwest of Bakhmut. Let us recall that the line of contact has been passing near Zaliznianske for quite a long time.

The AFU shot down a Sukhoi Su-24 bomber, apparently belonging to the Wagner Group, south of Bakhmut, near the village of Zaitseve. Earlier, we have already noted the presence of the Wagner Group air force in the Bakhmut direction.

Contrary to our expectations, the AFU continues to hold Bakhmut, although the situation remains extremely dangerous. Meanwhile, pro-Russian forces are advancing in the town very slowly since they do not have units capable of effectively conducting urban fighting.

We assume that the Ukrainian command made this decision hoping that pro-Russian forces in the Bakhmut direction will soon be driven back with the help of the arriving Western military vehicles.

Everything was relatively quiet in the Vuhledar direction, apparently, because of the muddy season and the reorganization of the brigades that had suffered heavy losses during previous attacks.

In the Donetsk region, Russian forces shot down a Chinese-made Mugin-5 UAV (similar to one previously used in the attack on the Rostov oil depot). Pro-Russian authorities in the region said a 20-kilogram bomb was attached to the UAV. It should be noted that, theoretically, such a UAV can be bought (and used in combat activities) not only by the Ukrainian side but also by the Russian one.

In Mariupol, presumably, an ammunition depot was hit. The video shows a large fire and sounds of explosions, which, however, may be the result of air defense activity.

In the coming days, Poland will transfer the first four MiG-29 fighters to Ukraine, and the remaining six will gradually be transferred throughout the year.

In neutral airspace over the Black Sea, two Russian Su-27 fighter jets flew dangerously close to a US MQ-9 Reaper UAV, dumping fuel on it and possibly damaging its propeller. It is reported that the UAV sank, and all classified information was remotely deleted by the US Air Force.

Russia's Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Foreign Affairs deny the fuel discharge and claim that the incident is due to the United States not adhering to the flight restriction zone declared by the Russian Federation in connection with the "special military operation" and reconnaissance activities against the Russian Federation's interests.

A fire broke out after an explosion in the building of the Russian Federal Security Service's Border Service in Rostov-on-Don. According to some reports, ammunition, and fuel were stored there.

After Jan. 15, we expected the second wave of mobilization to begin, but no signs of it occurred until recently. In some regions, people were summoned to military commissariats [enlistment offices] for military service register data check-ups. Some reservists received mobilization assignments requiring them to report to a specified location once a call-up is declared. Russian lawyer and human rights activist Pavel Chikov reports that the situation has changed, and in 43 regions of Russia, men have begun to be summoned to military commissariats en masse "for register data check-up" and "for reservists training." It should be noted that reservists can be called up for military training only after a relevant presidential decree is issued, but such has not yet been published. We are not ready to state that these events indicate the beginning of the second wave of mobilization because it is still unclear how the second wave can be combined with the regular draft of conscripts, which starts on Apr. 1.

Among the results of the 10th Ramstein conference, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin stated that Sweden would give ten Leopard tanks to Ukraine, and Norway would give two NASAMS air defense SAM systems.