March 31, 2023

Sitrep for Mar. 30-31 (as of 09:00 a.m.) 

After the publication of yesterday's news about the distribution of mobilization orders for the delivery of draft notices to men partially fit for military service, we received a large amount of evidence from our audience that this is a common practice. In such cases, in the mobilization orders, instead of a military specialty, a position of a messenger is filled in. We believe that such mobilized men will not be considered military personnel. It is unclear what payments will be due to them. It is also worth recalling cases of changes in military specialties during the first wave of mobilization.

On the night of Mar. 31, Kharkiv was hit again. In the available video recordings, only the sounds of explosions can be heard.

The Telegram channel of the Ukrainian Air Force reports that the strike began late in the evening on Mar. 30. Nine out of ten Shahed-136/131 kamikaze-drones launched to hit targets in Ukraine were intercepted. The drones were launched from the Bryansk region and flew over the Sumy and Chernihiv regions.

The 36th Separate Marine Brigade of the AFU posted a video showing them stopping a convoy of Russian armored vehicles near the village of Vodiane in the Donetsk region. Most of the RuAF tanks and IFVs were destroyed with FGM-148 Javelin ATGMs. The exact date of the fighting is still unknown.

The administration of the so-called DPR reported in February about a strike on a civilian object — the Petrovsky Bridge, as a result of which a civilian car was damaged. However, outlines of military vehicles hidden under the bridge could be seen through holes in the bridge deck in the photos of the aftermath of the strike.

Recently, a video filmed shortly before the strike, where those military vehicles can be seen much better, has appeared.

Dmytro Kuleba, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, urged not to set too high a value upon the upcoming counteroffensive and not to presume that it will become the decisive moment of the war. He expresses concerns that in case Ukraine fails to liberate all of the occupied territories during this counteroffensive, the voices of those in the west calling upon a compromise between Kyiv and Moscow would become stronger. Kuleba has pointed out that Ukraine is on a long and difficult road toward victory.

Videos shot near strategically important “land corridor” to Crimea show almost full absence of roads (dirt roads became almost impassable during the mud season) and bogged down vehicles creating traffic congestions. The roads were apparently not designed for such an intense traffic of arms, munitions and military trucks transporting Russian soldiers.

Mobilization News

Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, signed a decree on spring conscription two days before its start. Judging by the fact that the dates of the conscription period are customary — Apr. 1 to Jul. 15, — the second wave of mobilization is put off for an indefinite period of time (clearing the training grounds for mobilized soldiers will take some time). But it is quite possible that the Armed Forces of Russia will try to fill their ranks with those conscripts who will be transferred to the reserve this spring.

It is planned to conscript 147 thousand men during this conscription campaign, which is more than previously. For example, it was planned to conscript 120 thousand men last fall and 134,5 thousand men in the spring of 2022. In addition, Andrey Kartapolov, Russian general and Chairman of the Defense Committee of the State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia], claimed that conscription will not be held in “new territories” (and conscripts would not be sent to those territories). We express doubts that it will be possible to call up such a number of conscripts.

The Parliament of the Chelyabinsk region put forward a bill proposing exemption from criminal charges against those accused of misdemeanors if they agree to sign a contract with the Russian Ministry of Defense and go to the frontline.

The municipality of Komi [Russia’s constituent republic], launched an advertisement on the VKontakte social network calling to sign a contract with the Russian Ministry of Defense. Among other things, it promises high salaries and compensation payments.

Recently, we reported about the transfer of Alexander Khodakovsky to the National Guard of Russia. We can clarify now that Khodakovsky received the rank of a colonel and was appointed deputy head of the National Guard for the “DPR”. He will be responsible for the SOBR and OMON special units.

Former separatist commander and military blogger Igor Strelkov (Girkin) expressed dissatisfaction with this appointment. In his opinion, Khodakovsky is an incompetent leader.

The pro-Russian Zapiski Veterana [Notes of a Veteran] Telegram channel recalls the battles for the Donetsk airport in 2014, during which the Vostok battalion, led by Khodakovsky at that time, opened fire on its own and practically destroyed the Iskra volunteer unit (42 people were killed).

Ivan Rossomakhin, a mercenary of the Wagner Group, previously convicted of murder, was detained on suspicion of killing an elderly woman in the Kirov region. It is reported that at the end of March, he came home on leave and immediately began causing problems for the locals. While drunk, he walked the streets with an ax and threatened the villagers. After being detained on administrative charges, the police released him, and a couple of days later one of the residents in a neighboring town was found dead. Rossomakhin was arrested and confessed to the murder.

Yevgeny Prigozhin [Russian oligarch, confidant of Vladimir Putin, and the owner of the Wagner Group] claimed that only 20 people of several thousand former convicts who had got out of jail committed repeated crimes (we consider this number to be underestimated). He also asked to report on former mercenaries who behave aggressively or defiantly, and stated that such people would be taken away by a "recruiting group" and sent back to the front. Moreover, he confirmed that since January, the Wagner Group had stopped recruiting convicts "for certain administrative reasons."

Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, reported that the Wagner Group had around 6,000 professional personnel (who had joined the Wagner Group even before the start of the full-scale invasion) and 20,000 to 30,000 recruits, mostly convicts, fighting in Ukraine.

Deliveries of Western Military Equipment

Olena Kondratyuk, Deputy Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, reported that the first MiG-29SA fighters transferred by Slovakia (4 out of 13 promised) were already protecting the Ukrainian skies.

Germany has officially confirmed supplying Ukraine with 18 Leopard 2A6 tanks and 40 Marder IFVs. Berlin also supplied:

  • two Bergepanzer 3 ARVs;
  • two WISENT 1 mine clearing tanks;
  • 28 Zetros trucks;
  • 40,000 first-aid kits;
  • 103 thousand tourniquets.

Oleksii Reznikov, Minister of Defense of Ukraine, published a video of the arrival of Stryker armored fighting vehicles and Cougar MRAPs in Ukraine.

In Ukraine, the procedure for importing components for drones during the period of martial law has been simplified. Manufacturers will no longer need to obtain a greenlight from the Security Service of Ukraine for importing components for GPS or flight modules.

65 Ukrainian soldiers, who began training to operate Patriot surface-to-air missile systems in the United States in early January, have successfully completed the course and are on their way to Europe.

Since the start of the full-scale invasion, the U.S. has trained 7,000 Ukrainian servicemen and another 4,000 are being trained in Germany.

The Wall Street Journal correspondent Evan Gershkovich was detained in Yekaterinburg on suspicion of espionage. It is alleged that he was going to interview employees of UralVagonZavod [Russian machine-building company].

There are suggestions that Gershkovich was "taken hostage" to be exchanged for Krasikov (serving a life sentence in Germany for the murder of a Chechen field commander) or for Ludwig Gisch and Maria Mayer (Foreign Intelligence Service illegals detained in Slovenia).

Aleksey Moskalyov, who escaped from house arrest, was detained in Minsk. The reason for this was allegedly the activation of a phone that was used to track him down.

David Holtz, the creator of the Midjourney neural network, shut down free access to it due to "extremely high demand and trial abuse." In recent days, images generated by Eliot Higgins, the founder of the open-source investigative outlet Bellingcat, of Donald Trump's arrest (he is charged with campaign finance violations), as well as "photos" of the Pope of Rome in a Balenciaga down jacket have been circulating on social media.

A video has appeared in which Russian soldiers are allegedly shooting at a wounded Ukrainian soldier. We do not see in this video that the "wounded" man shows any signs of life, and it is impossible to determine exactly who is firing and where.