March 30, 2023

Sitrep for Mar. 29-30 (as of 09:30 a.m.)

Coming back to yesterday's news about the mining of the territory in the Kuibyshevskyi district of Donetsk, we would like to add that rockets, mentioned by the local administration, with a cluster warhead that dispenses AT2 German anti-tank mines do exist and can be launched with HIMARS MLRS. A reference photo showing these mines matches the ones taken at the scene. The geolocation of the strike also matches the specified address. There is a road leading from Donetsk towards the village of Pisky near this place used by pro-Russian forces to transfer military vehicles to the frontline. The aim of the strike apparently was to mine this road, but it caused the death of one civilian and severe injury to another. We think it is likely a war crime, but we cannot rule out the possibility that the rockets were shot down and fell into a random place.

The situation on the frontline

In our opinion, a map posted by the pro-Russian Telegram channel Bryusselskiy svyaznoy [Brussels Communication Agent] most accurately reflects the situation in Bakhmut. According to the map, fighting is going on near the territory of the AZOM plant in the north of the town (most of the plant has already been captured) and in the southern part of Bakhmut. There have been no changes in the areas of Bohdanivka and Ivanivske so far.

On Mar. 29, an explosion at a military airbase in Hvardiyske was reported. The airbase is located in Crimea, 13 km north of Simferopol. UAVs also fell in a field near Simferopol. It is possible that these messages refer to a coordinated attack.

Explosions in Melitopol were reported on the morning of Mar. 29; however, their consequences have not yet been determined. After the withdrawal of Russian troops from Kherson, Melitopol became one of the most important Russian bases, making it a frequent target of attacks by the AFU.

Supplies of western military equipment

Spain announced that it had prepared 6 Leopard 2A4 tanks and would deliver them to Ukraine after [Catholic] Easter.

There are videos with Western equipment that has already arrived in Ukraine: AMX-10RC armored vehicles and Marder IFVs.

A photo of a Leopard 2A4 tank with Soviet-developed Kontakt-1 reactive armor bricks appeared.

There is a video showing Ukrainian vehicles: tanks, Grad MLRS, and Gvozdika 2S1 self-propelled howitzers. There is no indication that this is a preparation for a counteroffensive near Bakhmut; rather this is a training ground far from the front line (perhaps an inspection of equipment is taking place).

Minister of Defence of Ukraine Oleksii Reznikov has announced that the Ukrainian counteroffensive should be expected in April-May and highlighted that Leopard 2 tanks will already be involved in combat operations.

The Bryansk region will spend 143 million rubles [around $1.9 million] on fortifications. Earlier, we mentioned similar projects in the Kursk (3.2 billion rubles) and Belgorod regions (10 billion rubles). After the publicity, the authorities of the Kursk region have hidden the reports about the construction.

Mobilization News

Sota media outlet, citing its sources, reports that in some regions of central Russia, people with service fitness category V (partially fit for military service) are summoned to a draft office where they receive a mobilization order. According to the order, after receiving the command, these people will have to arrive at the draft office and start delivering draft notices to those who are going to be mobilized. This news seems very strange since a military specialty is usually stated in a mobilization order, not a civilian one. The media outlet does not provide any visual evidence; an order from 2017 is used as an illustration.

The military prosecutor's office confirmed that those mobilized from Karelia [Russia’s constituent republic] were called up without a required physical examination. However, the court did not cancel the decision on mobilization and suggested undergoing a physical examination at the place of service.

The appeal of draftees from Kaliningrad region, recorded in early March, in which soldiers argue with the leadership and refuse to continue assault attacks, is being blocked on social networks.  In addition, they were disbanded and distributed among different units. Many of them were sent to the 6th Territorial Defense Battalion, which is known as "a penal military battalion for the mobilized," where draftees are sent to assaults and are undergoing psychological pressure. However, there is information (so far without confirmation) that in some units such conflicts with officers were resolved by lynching.

Sever.Realii, a subsidiary of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Russian-language service, published a long article about the life of women in the Russian army. It tells a story of a woman, a reservist soldier, who voluntarily went to war with Ukraine after persuasion at the registration and enlistment office. She was expected to be sent to a medical brigade but was transferred to a headquarters instead, where it was attempted to force her to become the "field wife" of the Chief of Staff.

It is said that harassment of servicewomen is a widespread practice in the Russian Army and that most such cases, and even rape, are hushed up. The article also mentions a tragic story in which an officer shot his "field wife" during a conflict and then shot at himself to make it look like an enemy attack.

Vladimir Osechkin [Russian human rights activist who operates the anti-corruption website Gulagu.net] stated that Russian paratrooper Pavel Filatiev at least knew about committed war crimes although, in initial interviews and in his book, he claimed that he was a simple grenade launcher operator and did not even see whether anyone was killed by his shots or not. Later in the interview, he confessed that his unit had captured Ukrainian soldiers, some of whom had been shot or hanged.

At the UralVagonZavod [Russian machine-building company] stand on the territory of the Moscow International Salon of Inventions and Innovative Technologies, an image of an upgraded T-55 tank was seen next to T-90M tanks and BMPT Terminator armored fighting vehicles. The image shows an experimental modification demonstrated by the Omsktransmash [Russian state-owned engineering company] in the early 1990s: the tank was proposed to be equipped with Kontakt-5 explosive reactive armor, a new engine, and a fire control system with a thermal imaging sight.

We recently wrote about a train moving somewhere in the western part of Russia and carrying T-55 tanks pulled out of storage. We should point out that they have moved past UralVagonZavod.

On Mar. 16, an explosion caused a fire in the building of the FSB border Department in Rostov-on-Don. The primary investigated version is that the explosion was caused by a failed attempt to dismantle a fallen Ukrainian drone to extract video footage from it.

On Mar. 29, 2022, Sergei Shoigu, Russian Minister of Defense, claimed that the main objectives of the “special military operation” in Ukraine are accomplished. We suppose that the question of why the Russian Armed Forces remain in Ukraine a year after that statement is a rhetorical one.