March 8, 2023

Sitrep for Mar. 7-8 (as of 2:00 p.m.) 

The situation on the frontline

Over the past day, it became known that the entire eastern part of Bakhmut on the right bank of the Bakhmutka River is occupied by pro-Russian forces. Yevgeny Prigozhin [Russian oligarch, confidant of Vladimir Putin, and owner of the Wagner Group] reported the same information in his new video message from Bakhmut.

In the remaining sections of the frontline in the Bakhmut direction, the situation is still dangerous for the AFU.

Researchers made a map of the roads that remained usable by Ukrainian forces (marked in white). The problem is that many of them are dirt roads. If we take into account the weather forecast for the coming days (it will be warm with occasional rains), it becomes obvious that more and more vehicles will get stuck in the mud (every day, there are new videos with stuck vehicles.)

A NATO military official interviewed by CNN claimed that (according to intelligence data) the ratio of Russian to Ukrainian casualties near Bakhmut is 5:1. We consider it to be an exaggeration and doubt that it exceeds 2.5:1.

In the Avdiivka direction, Russian forces managed to capture the village of Vesele (north of Avdiivka) and begin to advance towards Avdiivka, which is continuously hit with air-dropped bombs. There was a video filmed by Ukrainian servicemen who found an unexploded bomb, which we tentatively identified as a FAB-500 M-62 unguided aerial bomb.

There were some details about two Ukrainian pilots being retrained in the United States. Now they are being trained on simulators in the U.S. Air Force base in Arizona.

The Politico newspaper published an article saying that the U.S. military personnel are trying to find a way to install American medium-range AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles on Ukrainian Mikoyan MiG-29 fighters.

Poland will send 10 more Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine this week. We have not yet seen any news about trained crews — probably, the training is ongoing, and the first crews on these tanks will appear in late spring.

European officials are constantly noticing that the production of munitions and vehicles does not match the scale of this war. From individual statements, we can understand that in recent weeks, the West has come to understand that the war will last a long time; plans for the next couple of years are being discussed, and funds are being allocated for long-term projects of large-scale munitions and vehicles production, as well as for the recommission of factories that once produced Soviet munitions.

On Mar. 7, an exchange of prisoners of war took place. 130 servicemen returned to the Ukrainian side, 87 of whom were defenders of Mariupol, and 71 of whom were taken prisoner after the capture of Azovstal [a metallurgical facility located in Mariupol].

The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine has approved a procedure for the forced evacuation of children from the zone of active combat activities. It will be based on the decision of regional military administrations on the mandatory evacuation of civilians. For children, such evacuation will be сompulsory. They will be accompanied by a parent or legal representative. Parents' refusal to evacuate will not be allowed.

The Demografiya Upala [Demography Has Fallen] Telegram channel has published a study in which they compared the death gratuities promised to the relatives of killed soldiers (12 mln RUB [~157,000 USD]), with the average wages in a particular region. It turned out that it was financially "more profitable" to be killed in the war than to live to retirement in Moscow — at the age of 40 and in the constituent republics of the North Caucasus — immediately after reaching legal adulthood. The promised death gratuities are one of the reasons why people from the regions go to war as volunteer fighters. The authors of the study also specify that the announced amount of payments is rather theoretical since the state is trying to reduce the number of payouts in every possible way.

The Ostorozhno, Novosti [Beware the News] Telegram channel has published information received from one of the convicts recruited by the Russian Ministry of Defense. There are photographs of consents to perform special tasks signed by the convicts, as well as their temporary IDs and contracts.

An audio recording of a conversation between former convicts who were sent to storm a location after only a week of training and a Ministry of Defense officer has also been published. In the recording, the officer admits that the promise of at least three months of training was a deception. He also states that, in accordance with contracts and regulations, the military personnel of the Ministry of Defense have the authority to use weapons against recruited convicts, and in case of disobedience, they are entitled to kill them. In addition, it is reported that more than 70% of recruited individuals were former police officers.

Convicts who refused to go to the frontline were taken to an improvised prison in Donetsk.

This news confirms that the Wagner Group is cut off from replenishing its personnel with convicts, and now the Russian Ministry of Defense uses this resource.

On Mar. 7, there was another public face-off between Yevgeny Prigozhin and Sergei Shoigu [Russia’s Minister of Defense.]

In several Western media outlets, articles have appeared in which, citing some U.S. officials who have received new intelligence data, it is alleged that the Nord Stream gas pipeline was blown up by opponents of Vladimir Putin, most likely not affiliated with President Zelenskyy’s government. A certain person rented a yacht and hired elite divers and explosives experts to carry out the operation. We believe that for many years there will be no compelling evidence in favor of one line of inquiry or another.

At the time of recording yesterday's sitrep, in which we talked about the shooting of a Ukrainian prisoner of war, it was assumed that he was Timofey Mykolaivich Shadura. However, Ukrainian journalist Yuriy Butusov identified the POW as Oleksandr Ihorevich Matsievskyi from the 163rd Territorial Defense Battalion. As a special sign, a patch above his right eyebrow is indicated. Butusov also claims that he saw post-mortem photographs of Matsievskyi's body and his injuries correspond to the bullet entry points which we saw in the video with the execution of the POW.