March 18, 2023

Sitrep for Mar. 16-17 (as of 11:00 a.m.) 

The situation on the frontline

The AFU managed to relatively stabilize the frontline around Bakhmut with the help of counterattacks: the advance of pro-Russian forces capturing small settlements around the town stopped. There was a video showing trench fighting between Ukrainian servicemen and pro-Russian soldiers geolocated in the area of Khromove. Wagner Group mercenaries were trying to dislodge AFU soldiers from their trenches in order to continue the offensive on Khromove and close the encirclement of Bakhmut. Despite the fact that close-range shooting was going on around, a mercenary commander moved around the trenches at full height. An episode of friendly fire by mercenaries also testifies to the poor preparation of pro-Russian assault infantry: two infantrymen came under fire, and those following them did not engage in shooting with the enemy but mistakenly finished off their wounded comrades. Apparently, the Wagner Group is striving to occupy the last disputed area around Bakhmut at any cost.

In the Avdiivka direction, the General Staff of the AFU reports they repelled attacks in the area of Stepove, which confirms the capture of Krasnohorivka by the RuAF (as it was previously reported by OSINT analyst Def Mon with reference to Deepstate). In recent days, the situation in this direction for the AFU has become a little more complicated, perhaps due to the fact that part of the Ukrainian troops was transferred to the Bakhmut direction.

In the Kupiansk direction, Russian forces keep trying to push Ukrainian forces back from the crossing over the Oskil River, but they have not really advanced so far.

Everything is still quiet in the Vuhledar direction.

Fighting is going on in the Kreminna direction, but there has also been little progress there.

There was a video giving a good example of the role of drones in modern warfare. Civilian commercial drones of the AFU were able to destroy a Russian BMP-1 IFV on the move, dropping grenades on it (an IFV is completely unprotected from above).

Satellite images of the crash site of a US MQ-9 Reaper UAV have appeared. They show eight ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, which are apparently trying to get the wreckage of the fallen drone in order to get any valuable information from it.

Mobilization news

In 43 regions of Russia, reservists are reportedly being summoned to draft offices for military service register check-ups and for military training.

In Mari El [Russia’s constituent republic], military training has been announced, citing an unpublished presidential decree. Thus, it can be assumed that this decree is classified.

As a rule, military training is a regular annual event: a certain part of reservists are called up for military training, sent to training grounds for a period of about a month, and then returned home. But previously, the decree on military training was issued long before the date of its actual start. This year, no such decree has been issued, but draft offices are already distributing draft notices. Perhaps, this is how preparations are being made for the second wave of mobilization: draft notices for military training scare people less than mobilization draft notices. However, it is possible that later some legal action will be adopted that will turn reservists at military training camps into mobilized soldiers who can be sent to the front.

Russian soldier Daniil Frolkin, who admitted to Vazhnyye Istorii [iStories, independent Russian investigative media outlet] to killing a civilian in Ukraine and looting, received a 5.5-year suspended sentence for spreading intentionally "fake news" about the Army.

Deliveries of Western military aid

Germany handed over another package of military aid to Ukraine. It includes:

  • 5,000 artillery shells of 155mm caliber;
  • 155mm high-precision ammunition;
  • ammunition for MARS II MLRS;
  • 25 generators;
  • 4 mobile antenna-mast systems;
  • 500 SFP9 pistols;
  • 2 hangar awnings;
  • 2 forklifts.

The Minister of Defense of Lithuania visited Ukraine. He announced a new package of military aid that includes 155mm caliber ammunition, transportation vehicles, and military rations. As a result, the total cost of Lithuania's military aid to Ukraine will soon reach 450 million euros.

Sweden reports the transfer of 8 Archer self-propelled artillery systems to Ukraine. It is unclear whether these are the systems previously announced in the media or new ones.

The first photo of a NASAMS air defense SAM system in Ukraine has been published. Earlier, we already heard that it had proven itself well by repelling RuAF attacks.

The United Nations War Crimes Commission states that, based on current data, it is not ready to assert that Russia is conducting a policy of genocide in Ukraine. At the same time, the commission has documented numerous war crimes committed by Russian military personnel, including the killing of civilians and prisoners of war, looting, and much more. There are also cases of war crimes committed by Ukraine, but they are much less frequent than those committed by Russia.

Moreover, a great number of cases of deportation of children who lived in currently occupied territories have been noted. Investigating these cases is one of the most challenging areas of work for expert organizations, as it is necessary to work, in particular, on the territory of Russia, which is extremely difficult under current conditions.