March 3, 2023

Sitrep for Mar. 2-3 (as of 03:30 p.m.)  

The situation on the frontline

On the morning of Mar. 3, the commander of the special UAV company of the 59th Motorized Brigade of the AFU, Robert Brovdi [callsign Madyar], reported that at night his aerial reconnaissance unit received an order to leave Bakhmut. Later, there was a photo of a blown up bridge across a small river [connecting Pivnichnyi Pond and 8th Pond] in the village of Khromove on the last road that could be used to leave Bakhmut which leads to Chasiv Yar. We believe that the retreating Ukrainian troops blew up the bridge. Let us recall that during the withdrawal from Lysychansk, Ukrainian forces managed to misinform the enemy, and as a result, Russian forces hit the town without entering it for two days after the AFU had already left it.

On the evening of Mar. 2, Yevgeny Prigozhin [Russian oligarch, the confidant of Vladimir Putin, and the owner of the Wagner Group] posted a video showing Wagner Group mercenaries waving their flag, allegedly in the center of Bakhmut. Later, it was geolocated on the eastern outskirts of the town, which had been captured for quite a while.

In the Vuhledar direction, Russian offensive attempts are performed by infantry groups [using no military vehicles]. A night video shows Ukrainian artillery hitting a Russian infantry group. It is unclear whether it indicates a lack of military vehicles or a Russian reconnaissance attempted to approach Vuhledar quietly under cover of night.

On the Zaporizhzhia axis, a Russian fuel and lubricants depot caught fire in the village of Polohy (as we see black smoke and hear no sounds of secondary detonation).

There was a video presumably filmed in the area of Bakhmut, showing an AFU serviceman in a trench engaged in fighting under the fire of Russian infantry and a BTR-82A APC trying to hit him with various weapons. The stoicism of the Ukrainian defender is amazing.

On the morning of Mar. 2, fighters of the Russian Volunteer Corps [a unit of the Territorial Defense Forces of Ukraine formed in August 2022 from Russian right-wing volunteer fighters] crossed the border between the Chernihiv region of Ukraine and the Bryansk region of Russia. They recorded a video message in a Russian border settlement with a call to fight against the state. They also reported a successful ambush of border guards on an IFV. During the day, a significant amount of conflicting information appeared, most of which was later refuted.

On the evening of the same day, a video was published by Russia’s Federal Security Service, which showed two vehicles: a VAZ-2107 car with traces of bullets on the sides and a dead driver inside, as well as a Chevrolet Niva car visually almost intact (with the exception of a damaged tire), also with a dead driver. Both men are said to have been killed by the saboteurs. Judging by the condition of the rear wheel of the Niva, it was hit by a shot while the car was moving.

The VChK-OGPU Telegram channel [the name is a reference to the VCHK and OGPU, which were the intelligence and state security services in the early Soviet Union] has published an audio recording of a conversation with the director of a school who knew one of the deceased. She was informed that the driver of the VAZ-2107 car disappeared on his way home while his car was found undamaged on the side of the road. It is possible that some details were confused in the process of transmitting this information. If the murder of civilians was committed by the fighters of the Russian Volunteer Corps, then this is unequivocally a war crime.

Reportedly, the saboteurs left behind a large number of mines while leaving the territory of Russia. During the clearance operation, a detachment of the Russian National Guard's Special Rapid Response Unit (SOBR) was blown up by one of the mines.

It is worth noting that the fighters of the Russian Volunteer Corps adhere to far-right views.

This incident is another proof that fortifications like "barrier lines" are useless since they can’t stop dismounted saboteurs. In our opinion, it would be more correct to spend the security budget on the resettlement of people from the border areas.

Two new videos from the Machulishchy air base were published. The first one shows a drone landing on the radar of the Beriev A-50 AEW&C aircraft and then taking off from it, and the second one shows the drone aiming at a satellite communication unit, after which the video is cut short by interference, probably caused by the explosion of this drone. Satellite images showed possible darkening both on the radar and on the satellite communication unit. We are now inclined to believe that there was indeed an attack and that the darkening on the satellite unit was not a shadow but a trace of fire since there is video evidence of the attack. The extent of the damage is still unknown, but even if it is small, the psychological effect is important — Russian soldiers now understand that it is not safe to be at this air base.

In our sitrep about two months ago, we assumed that Russia was capable of sending about 80 tanks to the front (producing new ones and restoring them from reserves to combat condition) per month.

The Economist reports that Russia is currently capable of building 20 new tanks and upgrading up to 90 old tanks a month: Uralvagonzavod [Russian state-owned machine-building company] produces 20 tanks and rebuilds 8, while the other three repair plants rebuild about 17 tanks each. In the next few months, two more repair plants will start operating, which will make it possible to restore about 90 old tanks a month. According to the Oryx open-source intelligence project, Russia's monthly losses are about 150 tanks, so even including two plants under construction, the production and recovery rate will not outweigh the losses. In addition, production could slow down if there is a shortage of spare parts.

A video showing a trainload with military equipment removed from storage has appeared. Equipment, such as BRDM-2 armored reconnaissance and patrol vehicles, delivery trucks, temporary roads deployment units, armored multi-purpose tractors, and armored personnel carriers, is probably being transferred to units staffed with draftees.

It became known that the Royal Navy HMS Lancaster frigate had intercepted yet another shipment of weapons transferred from Iran to Yemen through the Gulf of Oman. 9М133М-1 and 9М133М-2 missiles for Iran-produced Dehlaviyeh ATGM (an unlicensed copy of the Russian Kornet-E anti-tank missile). Those weapons will likely be sent to Ukraine.

Photos of Iran-produced 120mm HM-16 mortars alongside M48 mines being used by AFU’s 24th Separate Mechanized Brigade have appeared. According to the markings, the ammunition was made in 2022. Those are also intercepted weapons that were intended to be used by Houthi in Yemen.

France is considering the possibility of transferring Mirage 2000 fighter jets (that were decommissioned and put into storage in the summer of 2022) to Ukraine. According to Minister of the Armed Forces of France, Sébastien Lecornu, Ukrainian pilots might be trained to pilot those aircraft on the territory of Poland.

Germany claimed that Gepard SPAAGs and Iris-T air defense systems would be sent to Ukraine in the coming weeks.