March 10, 2023

Sitrep for Mar. 9-10 (as of 1:00 p.m.) 

The situation on the frontline

On the evening of Mar. 9, a pro-Russian Telegram channel published a video proving the capture of the settlement of Dubovo-Vasylivka to the northwest of Bakhmut near Berkhivka by the Wagner Group.

Fighting continued in other sectors of the frontline, but there were no significant changes there.

On Mar. 9, the DeepState Telegram channel published a video showing tankmen of the 93rd Separate Mechanized Brigade of the AFU fighting against pro-Russian forces in a single-family residential neighborhood in the south of Bakhmut.

The Financial Times reported that Ukraine had received one Patriot air defense system, which has not been commissioned yet, pending the delivery of several more systems from the Netherlands since they are claimed to perform as a single system.

The General Staff of Ukraine has updated data on the massive missile attack that took place on Mar. 9. Now, about 95 missiles are announced to have been launched targeting the territory of Ukraine.

The SBU [Security Service of Ukraine] published a video showing Ukrainian strikes on a Tor-M2 surface-to-air missile system and an S-300VM air defense system of the RuAF, which are normally deployed quite far from the line of contact. Based on the interface elements seen in the video and the distance between the air defense systems and the frontline, experts suggested that those were the first known strikes with Switchblade 600 loitering munitions. The flight range of these kamikaze drones is 40 km (compared to 10 km of the Switchblade 300 loitering munition), with the possible increase of up to 80 km by gliding and a much larger warhead.

Let us recall that on Feb. 24, 2023, the details of a new military assistance package from the Pentagon, which included these drones, were announced.

Over the past year, the Switchblade 300 has proven to be not very effective due to its short duration of flight (about 10 minutes) and small warhead, however, there have been successful attacks with these loitering munitions too.

Mojtaba Babaei, a spokesperson for the Iran mission at the United Nations, confirmed that Iran had finalized a deal with Moscow to purchase advanced Sukhoi SU-35 fighter jets. We have previously mentioned a contract for manufacturing these jets signed between Russia and Egypt — the jets were produced, but they were not delivered to the customer and were kept at a plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. Later, western intelligence found out that Iran was going to buy these jets. In February, The New York Times posted several satellite images that showed Iranian underground facilities being built; a fighter jet featuring a silhouette resembling a SU-35 fighter jet was noticed near one of those facilities. But judging by the bright blue livery (which is typical for Russian SU-35), it was most likely a mockup because the fighter jets produced for Egypt were painted grayish-green, while Iranian jets are painted green and yellow. The mockup could have been used by Iran as a reference for assessing the facility’s size.

The first photo was published of an Italian-made M109L self-propelled howitzer in service of the AFU. It has first become known that Italy decided to donate 20 to 30 of them in October 2022.

Mobilization news

Another video message from draftees has appeared recently. The mobilized men from Mordovia [constituent republic of Russia], Mari El [constituent republic of Russia], and Ulyanovsk were sent to the war as part of the 3rd Platoon of Separate Reconnaissance Brigade. They were sure that their task would be the protection of checkpoints on the “4th line,” and they showed extreme negligence to their training, many of them drank excessive amounts of alcohol. But at the end of January, they were transferred to the Luhansk region, became subordinates of the “LPR” commanders, and were sent closer to the frontline near Lysychansk. Their military IDs now show that they are part of some unit in the Luhansk region that military prosecutor’s offices and military commissariats in their home regions know nothing about (even though the Army of the “LPR” has formally been merged with the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation on Jan. 1, 2023).

Upon arrival near Lysychansk, the draftees were sent to trench digging. Their military unit has almost immediately been caught in a shelling which led to an increase of discontent among the draftees. On Feb. 9, they recorded the first video message addressing the President of Russia and complaining that they were promised to work in the rear but were being sent to assault instead. In response to this message, local commanders conducted an investigation and threatened the draftees with some problems. However, the next assault was carried out by a platoon that did not record the appeal but behaved exemplary.

We observe that it usually becomes news to mobilized soldiers that promises of quiet service in the rear will not be fulfilled and that they will be assigned to assault infantry. It shows that all of the video messages and other similar information that we cover are effectively censored in Russia and do not reach the current or potentially mobilized men.

Most appeals of the mobilized recently come from the area of Russia’s 1st Army Corps (former "People's Militia of the DPR"), i.e., the commanders are former separatists.

We suppose that, firstly, there is "institutional inertia" — even before the start of mobilization in Russia, these commanders drove mobilized men from the Donetsk and Luhansk regions to the slaughter, and now they can treat the Russian mobilized soldiers in exactly the same way.

Secondly, the qualifications of the commanders were low even before the full-scale invasion and have become even lower over the past year as some commanders have been killed or wounded. The remaining commanders are unable to plan battle tactics properly, so they may consider suicide attacks to be an appropriate method of warfare.

Thirdly, the former separatists fought for eight years in the hope that the Russian Armed Forces would instantly crush the Ukrainian Army, which did not happen, and, at the same time, they were sometimes punished by the Russian leadership for failing to comply with the Minsk agreements. So now they can take revenge on Russian mobilized soldiers.

Apparently, the Russian command has no idea about these problems. That is why we assume that such appeals and facts of deaths of mobilized people due to the actions of former separatists will not become less frequent.

Governor of the Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, visited the positions of conscripts on the border with Ukraine. The published photo report shows dugouts with everything needed: beds, potbelly stoves, electricity, and firewood. In response to these reassuring photos, a mother of a conscript posted photos of real trenches her son is stationed in on the border between the Belgorod region and Ukraine.

The names of two more mobilized soldiers who were killed in Makiivka on the night of Jan. 1, 2023, have become known. They are Aleksandr Efimov and Valery Kuzmin. Thus, we now know the names of 136 people who were killed as a result of the strike at the vocational school in Makiivka. The Russian Ministry of Defense did not update its estimate of 89 killed soldiers given on the second day after the attack, nor did it publish the number of missing servicemen.

Military personnel from the Kaliningrad region and their families will be reimbursed for the cost of air tickets, however, only starting from the year 2025.

Another group of saboteurs crossed the border between Russia and Ukraine and recorded a video message standing by the sign of the village of Plyokhovo, Kursk region, which is located 1.5 km away from the border. They are calling on residents of the region and other Russians working on the construction of fortifications on the border not to go to work in the next two weeks, to sabotage all instructions, and to join the armed resistance against the occupation regime. In addition, the saboteurs hint that they have mined the territory.

The news from Latvia we reported on three weeks ago has received a follow-up: the first batch of cars confiscated from drunk drivers by court order will be sent from Latvia to Ukraine today. It is reported that the next batch of 15 cars is planned to be sent next week. Currently, the Latvian police have about 200 confiscated cars at their disposal, but only those that do not require serious repairs will be sent to Ukraine.