Sitrep for Mar. 31 – Apr. 1 (as of 09:00 a.m.)
The situation on the frontline
Over the past week, everything was quiet almost on the entire frontline.
On Mar. 31, a video filmed by the Wagner Group in Bakhmut appeared. First of all, it is worth noting a large amount of newly fallen snow, which confirms the date of filming (it snowed on that day in Donetsk, as well as in the Rostov region). A Wagner Group flag can be seen on the roof of a building. The video was geolocated on the western bank of the Bakhmutka River, one block from the City Administration building, that is, quite close to the center. This means that the fighting is already taking place in the central part of the town and not on the outskirts in single-family residential neighborhoods. Wagner Group mercenaries seem to be trying to push the AFU out of Bakhmut and not close the encirclement. At the moment, pro-Russian forces have captured the entire eastern bank of the Bakhmutka River, part of the southern low-rise residential area, and part of the northern outskirts (an industrial zone).
There was no noticeable progress in other sections of the frontline, although fighting goes on, as a rule, in the form of artillery strikes on military columns.
Mutual shelling has continued throughout the week. Russian attacks with kamikaze drones and missiles have become an almost daily occurrence.
On Mar. 31, as a result of a RuAF strike on Avdiivka, a five-month-old baby and his grandmother were killed, and his parents were wounded. This incident once again pointed to the problem of refusals to evacuate from the danger zone (Avdiivka has been in the frontline zone for 8 years and has been shelled very frequently).
Earlier, we reported the recommission of T-54 tanks from reserves, which highlighted the lack of weapons, as well as the lack of resources to repair military vehicles. This week, photos of a trainload with Russian MT-12 Rapira 100mm anti-tank guns appeared, and in the town of Yevpatoria (Crimea) a truck pulling a 2A19 T-12 100mm anti-tank gun put into service in 1953, the predecessor of the MT-12 Rapira anti-tank gun, was seen.
According to the resolution of the Russian Government, the 120th Arsenal, a new artillery missile maintenance depot, is to be opened in Bryansk. It can be engaged in both artillery repair and bringing old munitions to readiness.
The modernized 2S25M Sprut-SDM1 self-propelled anti-tank gun has been recommended for adoption. It is armed with a 2A75-1 125mm gun on chassis akin to BMD-4 airborne infantry fighting vehicle protected with very light armor. Sprut can be compared with an AMX-10RC AFV but fully tracked, which makes it more traversable than a wheeled armored vehicle.
The Russian Ministry of Defense has published a video of the combat use of the Russian Forpost UAV, modified for KAB-20 guided air-dropped bombs. This is a licensed copy of the Israeli IAI Searcher reconnaissance UAV.
Andriy Melnyk, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and former Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany, stated that at the moment, only about 50-60 tanks have arrived in Ukraine from Western countries, and this number is not enough to prepare for a counteroffensive and gain an advantage on the battlefield.
Today, the spring conscription starts in Russia. It will take place during the standard period from Apr. 1 to Jul 15. From this, we can conclude that the second wave of mobilization, which we expected since mid-January, has been postponed indefinitely, and now there will be a propaganda campaign to encourage volunteers to sign contracts with the Russian Ministry of Defense.
In the Russia’s constituent Republic of Komi, "promoters" dressed in clothing with the Wagner Group symbols call for meetings in local administration buildings, where everyone is invited to sign a contract with the Wagner Group.
In a similar way, in Bratsk, a "promoter" goes to stores and offers men who look physically suitable to join the Wagner Group.
The Vyorstka media outlet found a job advert for a "security guard" position on Avito [Russian classified advertisements website], which is actually a disguised offer of contract-based military service. A company with the name Voenkom [Military Commissar] offers a salary of 190-195 thousand rubles (a similar amount is paid to mobilized soldiers) and a lump sum payment of 390 thousand rubles upon signing a contract. Journalists called the number listed in the ad and received confirmation that it was about signing contracts with the Russian Defense Ministry and being sent to the "special military operation" zone.
In the Chelyabinsk region, flyers urging people to sign contracts with the Defense Ministry appeared at the entrances of apartment buildings. Also, in Bashkortostan [Russia’s constituent republic], a banner urging people to go to the "special military operation" zone was spotted.
We still believe that it is impossible to recruit a lot of people this way. It should be noted that by such tactics, Russia reduces the possibility of a significant replenishment of military personnel, rotation, and changing over to the offensive. The shortage of staff will still be acutely felt, but now it will not be possible to quickly switch to mobilization recruitment. After the start of the conscription campaign, training grounds and draft offices were busy working with conscripts.
Journalists drew attention to the fact that the Commissioner of the Vladimir region, in his activity report, indicated that the number of convicts in the region decreased by 1,000 people (about 15%) compared to last year. This may be related to their sending to the front.
Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, claimed that in the near future, Ukraine would not be able to achieve all of its military goals. In particular, he doubts that it is possible to liberate all the occupied territories and expel all Russian forces this year.