March 22, 2023

Sitrep for Mar. 21-22 (as of 11:30 a.m.) 

Massive Russian attacks on the territory of Ukraine

On the night of Mar. 22, 21 Shahed kamikaze drones were launched; 16 of them were claimed to have been shot down by Ukrainian air defense forces. Part of the drones hit a civilian object in the Kyiv region; at the moment, 3 people are known to have been killed, and 7 more wounded.

Besides, the city of Odesa was hit, reportedly by a Russian Sukhoi Su-35 multirole fighter. Part of the missiles hit a private residential building, and a few people were injured. According to pro-Russian Telegram channels, the attack targeted the Shkolny airfield, from which the AFU launched loitering munitions.

The situation on the frontline

There have been no noticeable advances in the Bakhmut direction over the past day. OSINT analyst Def Mon demonstrates it on the map, comparing the lines of action of Russian forces on Mar. 14 and Mar. 21: the difference between them is noticeable only on the southern outskirts of Bakhmut.

The situation around Avdiivka is becoming more and more like the situation around Bakhmut. Over the last couple of weeks, there were small advances of Russian forces aiming to encircle Avdiivka: from the north, they are moving to the southwest from Krasnohorivka, while attacks from the south have not brought any results yet.

It is still quiet in the Vuhledar direction.

Deliveries of Western military vehicles

The United States decided to transfer to Ukraine older versions of M1A1 Abrams tanks, which were decommissioned by the US Marine Corps. It is reported that they can be delivered in 8-9 months and not during 2024, as M1A2 Abrams tanks.

The change in the position of the United States may be due to the fact that initially, the supply of Abrams tanks was intended only to stimulate European countries to supply Ukraine with Leopard tanks. However, recently it turned out that Europe has much fewer serviceable and ready-to-ship tanks than expected. It is possible that sending older tanks is a reaction to the difficulties of the allies.

In addition, the US will send Patriot SAM systems to Ukraine faster than planned due to the fact that Ukrainian soldiers have finished their training much earlier than it was expected.

It became known that the UK is going to send to Ukraine armor-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabots with depleted uranium. This is a rather wide-used kind of ammunition that, in our belief, is already in use on both sides (and simply did not grasp anyone’s attention). Depleted uranium is cheaper than wolfram, its alternative because it is a byproduct of uranium enrichment in the nuclear industry. There are also other advantages: uranium is a little heavier and can ignite spontaneously when piercing the armor. We do not take Putin’s claims regarding these shipments seriously.

Australia started delivering 100 cardboard drones to Ukraine monthly. The drone can be hand-launched or launched with a catapult and can lift 3-5 kg of payload, carry it for 1-3 hours, and has a flight range of 40-120 km.

Croatia supplied Ukraine with DOK-ING MV-4 and MV-10 mine-clearing robotic systems (one of each). They are remotely controlled and can cover 4000-5000 m2 per day.

One of our sources provided photos of a train loaded with military vehicles that are now making its way from the Far Eastern part of Russia to its central regions. The photos show T-54 tanks that were introduced into service in the late 1940s (previously, the oldest Russian tank deployed in Ukraine was the T-62). We are not sure yet in what capacity these tanks are going to be used due to their poor technical characteristics. For example, the T-54 lacks a fire-control system, and some models don’t even have gun stabilization systems. However, we’d like to point out that over the last weeks, we saw both MT-LB armored multi-purpose tractors with naval anti-aircraft gun mounts (also known as Tankenstein), as well as BTR-50, tracked armored personnel carriers removed from storage. These developments are a clear sign that Russia has severe issues with military vehicle supply.

We believe that removing such old military vehicles from storage may have two reasons. Firstly, it is likely that a large number of stockpiles were not properly maintained and turned out to be in even worse condition than many thought (similar to the third category munitions [unfit for use in combat] sent to the front). Secondly, armored vehicle factories do not provide the necessary pace of repairs and production that would correspond to the losses on the frontlines (there is no information about the commissioning of new repair factories, which was announced in the fall). It is possible that very old equipment, which is easier to bring into working condition, is being restored now as modern tanks require longer repair time.

The Legislative Assembly of Saint Petersburg questioned the authenticity of a video showing mobilized soldiers of the 138th Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade, who complained that commanders from the "DPR" had sent soldiers "to slaughter."