March 25, 2023

Sitrep for Mar. 24-25 (as of 11:00 a.m.) 

Update on yesterday's sitrep

According to the Oryx project, Russia has already lost nearly 1900 tanks even if we proceed from the production estimate voiced by Dmitry Medvedev [Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Security Council] at 1500 tanks per year (taking into account that it’s not only newly produced vehicles but also those withdrawn from storage, such a number is not a big overestimation, according to some members of our team), the Russian industry can’t still even catch up with losses in time.

A spokesperson for the Indian Air Force said in the Parliament that Russia would not be able to fulfill its arms supply obligations because of the war in Ukraine. However, he did not specify the kind of weapons in question.

The situation on the frontline

One of the most noticeable results of this week is the stabilization of the frontline, even in the hottest directions. For a whole week, there hasn’t been practically any development, and there is no indication suggesting significant changes in the near future.

However, in recent days, Russian attacks on civilian infrastructure and residential areas with missiles, loitering munitions, and other weapons have been reported with increased frequency.

On Mar. 24, at 1 a.m., a Russian missile hit a "point of invincibility" in Kostiantynivka. Five people were killed. The attack is stated to have been carried out by an S-300 air defense system.

There were photos of fragments of gliding and correction modules mounted on Russian high-precision air-dropped bombs, which, according to pro-Russian sources, destroyed objects of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Belopillya, Sumy region. These fragments show that the Russian analog of JDAM was used, mounted on FAB-500M62 unguided air-dropped bombs. As a result of the strike, two people were killed, and police and a school building were damaged.

The Mediazona independent Russian media outlet, together with a team of volunteers and BBC News Russian, continue to calculate the Russian personnel losses. As of Mar. 24, the outlets confirmed the identities of 18,023 killed Russian fighters, including mobilized soldiers and the Wagner Group mercenaries. During the last week, 648 names were added to the list, including 34 draftees.

It became known that 83 bodies of killed soldiers were returned to Ukraine. It has not been disclosed if any bodies were handed over to the Russian side in response. In addition, Ukraine handed over seriously injured POWs to Russia.

The head of the occupied Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, created his own paramilitary structure — the Convoy PMC. It is reportedly commanded by Konstantin Pikalov [callsign Mazai], who is believed to have been a right-hand man of Yevgeny Prigozhin [Russian oligarch, the confidant of Vladimir Putin and owner of the Wagner Group] and oversaw the Wagner Group mercenaries in Africa. The source of Vazhnyye istorii [iStories, an independent Russian investigative media outlet] got a job in this "PMC" and told some details about it. We admit that “the Convoy PMC” may be a real private military company — a small paramilitary structure designed to guard objects or escort cargo, and not an army under the auspices of the Russian federal authorities, performing frontline functions like the Wagner Group.

Russia accused Slovakia of violating the 1997 bilateral treaty, according to which a country is not allowed to “transfer weapons and military vehicles <…> received or acquired under bilateral military-technical cooperation to third countries”, due to the transfer of MiG-29 fighter aircraft to Ukraine.

The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine [HRMMU] stated that both Kyiv and Moscow are to blame for the violation of the rights and extrajudicial executions of POWs. The HRMMU’s report contains data on 25 POWs killed by the Ukrainian side and 15 POWs killed by the Russian side. At the same time, observers emphasize that the Ukrainian authorities, unlike the Russian ones, provided access to prisoner camps and began investigating most of the alleged cases of killings.

In our view, it is not surprising that an international expert organization has found evidence of war crimes committed by both sides, as this is typical in any war. However, it is important to note the HRMMU's statement that the Ukrainian side is investigating its own military crimes since we have not seen any public investigations into them.

The plans of the Russian leadership to reach the administrative borders of the Donetsk region are apparently still relevant. To implement them, it is necessary to replenish losses and even increase the number of forces on the frontline, while we consider plans to enlist 400,000 people under a contract by the end of the year unrealistic. Thus, despite the political risk, the second wave of mobilization is inevitable, but it will probably be postponed until the last minute.