March 23, 2023

Sitrep for Mar. 22-23 (as of 11:00 a.m.) 

Strikes on the territory of Ukraine

On Mar. 22, the city of Zaporizhzhia was hit. Spokesman of the Air Force Command of the AFU Yuriy Ihnat assumes that a 9K515 Tornado-S long-range MLRS was used. As a result of the strike on residential buildings, 34 people were injured, including three children. President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy posted a video from the scene on his Twitter account.

In a published video report by Agence France-Presse from Bakhmut, one can see a munition hitting a residential building and then hear successive explosions. It can be assumed that an MLRS was also used. Let us recall that the use of indiscriminate weapons in such cases is a war crime.

Additional data on Russian strikes on the Kyiv region on Mar. 22 appeared: the death toll rose to 8 people. As a result of a strike on the town of Rzhyshchiv, the 4th and 5th floors of two five-story dormitories and a three-story educational building of a professional lyceum were partially destroyed.

The Office of the President of Ukraine announced the visit of Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the Donetsk region to meet with the Ukrainian soldiers in the Bakhmut direction. A video of Zelenskyy's conversation with civilians was geolocated in Kostiantynivka, southwest of Bakhmut. It is unknown where the meeting with the soldiers took place. These could be positions in Kostiantynivka itself or in Chasiv Yar, for example.

The situation in Bakhmut is still very dangerous. The President's visit to Ukrainian positions about 20 km from Bakhmut can significantly boost the morale of the troops.

The Petrovskyi district of Donetsk has been hit. It is reported that the emergency service building of the Donetsk water utility was damaged; there were no casualties. The Joint Center for Control and Coordination of the “DPR” states that a missile was fired from the direction of Kramatorsk by a Tochka missile system. This is a very old version of the weapon, and we believed that their stocks were exhausted long ago.

Russia has claimed that Borisovka village in the Volokonovsky district of the Belgorod region, as a result of which a caretaker of an agricultural facility was killed. There are no visual proofs at the moment.

Ukraine's state-owned defense holding, Ukroboronprom, has launched the production of 122mm artillery shells in cooperation with European countries (i.e., outside of Ukraine). Such shells are  compatible with D-30 howitzers and 2S1 Gvozdika self-propelled howitzers. It was earlier reported that the production of 120mm mortar rounds and 125mm tank ammunition had also been launched.

The question of ammunition supply is one of the most pressing in this war. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says that this war is a war of attrition, with Ukraine firing on average 4,000 — 5,000 artillery shells a day compared to Russia’s 20,000. The current ammunition production rate in the West is not high enough to effectively resupply Ukraine.

A video has been published of a (most likely, homemade) Ukrainian drone that lifts a 120mm mortar round (probably, used by the 2S9 Nona mortar), flies over the Dnipro River, and drops it on Russian troops. This round weighs almost 20 kg suggesting that the drone is rather powerful.

Mobilization News

A group of senators and State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia] members submitted a draft of the legislation that would allow loans issued to parents or legal guardians of those injured or killed in Ukraine to be written off.

The Mayor's Office of Novosibirsk sent letters to educational institutions and housing and utility management companies requesting to advertise military contract service. It is probably how the bigger plan to recruit 400 thousand of volunteer fighters by the end of the year is being set in motion. We still doubt that such a campaign will be effective and deliver more than 10 thousand. Many in Russia already understand that this war is going to be long. The problems those on the frontlines have with getting their wages weren’t left unnoticed. People are now well aware that it is impossible to sign a short-term contract, make quick money and return home.

Mediazona [an independent Russian media outlet] published a longread on criminal cases against refuseniks. There are different categories of those who go AWOL — servicemen who arbitrarily left a place of deployment:

  • servicemen who escaped from the frontline,
  • volunteers who went home after their contracts expired, ignoring the fact that after mobilization was declared, their contracts were automatically extended,
  • servicemen who went on leave and did not return.

Criminal cases are initiated against them; such servicemen are convicted and given real or suspended sentences. The number of criminal cases is likely to be much lower than the number of servicemen who escaped from the front. These are usually draftees who publicly complain they were thrown into an assault without proper training, resulting in multiple casualties. Survivors refuse to continue fighting and go home without fear of future persecution.