March 21, 2023

Sitrep for Mar. 20-21 (as of 10:30 a.m.) 

The situation on the frontline

Yevgeny Prigozhin [Russian oligarch, the confidant of Vladimir Putin and owner of the Wagner Group], who recently spoke of grandiose plans to recruit 30,000 people into the Wagner Group by mid-May, unexpectedly turned to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu again asking for help in the Bakhmut direction. He stated that Wagner Group mercenaries control more than 70% of Bakhmut, but they fear that the flanks of the main pro-Russian group of troops might be cut off during the counteroffensive of the AFU planned for late March — early April. Thus, without the support of the RuAF, the situation for mercenaries could become too dangerous.

We consider Prigozhin's statement that Bakhmut is captured by the Russian side by 70%, as well as his statement that Wagner Group units are the ones to hold the town center, to be an exaggeration.

Some experts note that the situation around Avdiivka is rather similar to one around Bakhmut, as Russian forces are gradually advancing, bypassing the town from the north and south. However, there are no similarly serious problems with supply routes there.

A drone strike was reported in Dzhankoi (Crimea): initially, it was mentioned that an airport was hit, but later reports started talking about a railway station instead. Explosions uncharacteristic of a secondary detonation can be heard on the videos of the night-time attack in addition to the sounds of a flying drone. The photos of the drone debris have also been published. Judging by its landing gear, the drone was identified as a Chinese commercial Mugin-5 Pro drone that had already been used in an oil refinery strike in Rostov-on-Don.

Russia has claimed that the falling debris of the shot-down drones hit a residential building and a store, injuring one person.

Russian Kalibr cruise missiles have been destroyed as they were being transported by rail in an explosion in Dzhankoi, according to Ukrainian military intelligence.

The explosion in the video is, in fact, quite powerful, but not like an ammunition explosion. Cruise missiles could have ended up in Dzhankoi because the railroad line along which they were transported first turns north after the bridge and only then branches off; one branch goes north, and the other one goes south towards the coast.

Another aircraft was shot down in the Donetsk region; the details are still unknown.

A video from the frontline appeared, somewhat explaining the slowdown in combat activities near Bakhmut. It evidently demonstrates that even tanks can hardly move through oceans of mud.

Deliveries of Western military vehicles

Germany began the delivery of Marder IFVs to Ukraine. It was reported earlier that 40 vehicles were pledged. These IFVs are imperative on the frontlines to form the striking force and liberate the outskirts of Bakhmut and other regions of Ukraine. The effectiveness of holding Bakhmut until the arrival of Western military equipment and the damage it inflicted on the Ukrainian Army will become clear based on the success of the new units with Western equipment in the Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions and in the Vuhledar and other directions.

Norway claims it has donated 8 Leopard 2A4 tanks and other military vehicles to Ukraine.

The Pentagon has announced a new package of military aid to Ukraine. It should be noted that the statement does not include information about the quantity of ammunition, missiles, and equipment being supplied. It is likely that information about Ukrainian stockpiles will be classified in the future.

European Union member states have agreed to supply Ukraine with 1 million 155mm artillery rounds over the next year.