The American Institute for the Study of War (ISW) stated that Russia has begun the main phase of offensive operations in the Luhansk region , using most of the forces and means of the Western Military District (ZVO), as well as some additional units of the Central Military District (TsVO), "DPR" and " LPR" and the Airborne Troops (VDV). Most of the units are concentrated on the Svatovo-Kremennaya section. At the same time, analysts call an increase in the scale of the operation unlikely, since the Russian Federation does not have sufficient idle reserves.
Units of PMC Wagner at this time are approaching the industrial zone in the north of Bakhmut , writes propagandist, expert at the Center for Military-Political Journalism Boris Rozhin. The Bakhmut non-ferrous metal processing plant is located there, according to Rozhin, the assault can be compared in complexity with the battles for Azovstal, and the Armed Forces of Ukraine are unlikely to surrender the plant without a fight and use it as a fortress.
As military expert Sergei Grabsky told The Insider, according to currently available information, there is no talk yet that Russian forces could occupy this plant in the next two or three days. The expert clarified that the northern section was of serious concern.
“It is impossible to say that nothing will happen to Bakhmut, especially since the pressure on the northeastern outskirts and the fighting in the rural development zone are causing serious concern. There were quite serious breakthroughs of the enemy. They are trying to neutralize, but nonetheless.
The situation in the Ivanovsky area also leaves much to be desired. When we talk about the highway connecting Bakhmut with Konstantinovka, we need to understand that the bridge near Chasov Yar has been blown up, that is, in fact, this route is not used by Ukrainian forces, because there are alternative roads that lead to Bakhmut through Chasov Yar. The position itself and this direction in Stupochki is significant - if these positions are breached, Chasov Yar falls under a serious threat of attack. Now there are battles, Ukrainian troops are trying to stop the enemy's movements in this direction, but it is difficult to say how much this will be possible, given the exceptional persistence of the enemy. The situation is very serious."
The settlement of Yagodnoye north of Bakhmut came under the control of the PMC Wagner, writes the propaganda Telegram channel “Two Majors”. The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine did not report the loss of control over Yagodny. According to the channel, the Stupki railway station is also occupied by PMC attack aircraft as a result of the fighting. However, the WarMonitor OSINT project provides data that heavy fighting continues north of Bakhmut around Yagodnoye and Berkhovka, assault attempts are repulsed.
Fighting continues in the Kupyansk direction , Russian artillery strikes deep into the defense of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the Two Majors channel reports.
Russia has 200 soldiers per tank
Military expert Sergei Grabsky, speaking about the situation at the front, said that the Armed Forces of Ukraine are now dealing with standard military units of the Russian Federation. He cited the situation before a full-scale invasion as an example, according to him, as of February 23, 2022, the Russian group had 160,000 people and 1,200 tanks. That is, one tank then accounted for an average of 133 soldiers. The expert compared the situation with the current state of affairs:
“If we talk about today's grouping of 367 thousand people and divide this into 1770 tanks, then you see that there are 200 fighters per tank. This indicates the level of staffing in terms of combat tanks of the Russian troops. In addition, the Russian military command has never learned anything - they continue to operate in the matrix of the operational art of the last century, which does not give them the opportunity to conduct large-scale offensive operations. Moreover, we see that they have pulled the aircraft far enough and use it very carefully.
They have no other options besides biting into the defense. They are trying to squeeze out the Ukrainian troops in the hope that the army will run behind some line. This cannot be, because there are two or three more lines of defense and troops. Of course, Ukraine is trying to save these troops for an offensive operation, but in the event of a threat, the Ukrainian army will be forced to respond to these things, which is what is happening in the Bakhmut area.”
Now the Russian Armed Forces, according to Grabsky, are rushing towards Torsky in the Liman direction and are trying to break through towards Kupyansk. The main reasons that the Russian offensive fails are the insufficient qualifications of the military leadership and the quality of weapons. He clarified that Ukraine is using more and more Western weapons, which allows it to deliver more effective and accurate strikes with fewer losses.
At the same time, Russia has lagged behind and uses old stocks, and all the modernized weapons are Soviet weapons that depend on imports, including French guidance systems, GPS navigators and other things. Russia did not prepare for such a war and is forced to improvise within the boundaries of what it has, namely, old Soviet weapons, Grabsky explained. He also drew attention to the weak competence and disinterest of the middle and junior commanders in conducting effective combat operations. According to the expert, their task is only to survive, so they throw fighters into battle.
Possible new front in Moldova
Moldovan Prime Minister Dorin Recean said that Russia really plans to open a new front through Moldova, he was quoted by Moldova1 and Deschide . During a press conference, he confirmed the statements of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that Russia wants to seize the airport in Chisinau for the transfer of military personnel. According to Moldovan media reports, Zelensky, in an interview with La Repubblica, announced Russia's plans to seize the airport in Chisinau. The President specified that the Ukrainian special services found out about this and warned the leadership of Moldova.
On February 21, Putin canceled the "May Decree" of 2012 "On measures to implement the foreign policy of the Russian Federation." It also stated that one should continue to look for ways to resolve the Transnistrian problem on the basis of respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and neutral status of Moldova.
In February, Moldovan President Maia Sandu already stated that Russia wants to make a coup in the republic and bring its proteges to power.
In the unrecognized Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (PMR), since 1995, a task force of Russian troops has been deployed, numbering about 1.5 thousand people. One of its main tasks is to protect the complex of military warehouses in the village of Kolbasna, where more than 20 thousand tons of ammunition and military equipment left over from Soviet units and formations are stored.
Russia has launched 10 missile and 25 air strikes on the Luhansk, Donetsk and Zaporozhye regions of Ukraine over the past 24 hours. Also, 62 shelling from multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) was recorded, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported.
Aviation of the Ukrainian Defense Forces delivered 20 strikes on the areas of concentration of personnel and military equipment of Russians, 7 - on anti-aircraft missile systems in firing positions, 2 more strikes - on other important objects. In addition, the Armed Forces of Ukraine shot down a Russian Su-25 aircraft, two Orlan-10 drones and two Lancet-3 kamikaze drones.
On February 21, the center of Kherson also came under fire, the projectile destroyed a transport stop where people were at that moment.
This happened right at the time of the message of Russian President Vladimir Putin to the Federal Assembly, in which he uttered the phrase: "We are not at war with the people of Ukraine." The head of the Kherson defense press service, Dmitry Pletenchuk, reported six dead. The head of the Kherson Regional Military Administration (OVA) Alexander Prokudin also wrote about the explosions in the city. According to him, the shelling could be carried out from the Grad MLRS.
According to the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, the Kherson Regional Prosecutor's Office launched a criminal investigation into the violation of the laws and customs of war, combined with premeditated murder (part 2 of article 438 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine). The Office of the Prosecutor General reports five dead: two people died on the spot, two others died on the way to the hospital, and another woman died from shelling in her own house. 15 people are injured.
Shelling also continues in the Russian border regions. As the governor of the Kursk region Roman Starovoit stated , seven "arrivals" were recorded in the Glushkovsky district in the village of Krasnooktyabrsky. The governor of the Belgorod region Vyacheslav Gladkov announced the shelling of the village of Novaya Tavolzhanka. According to him, the blow fell on the household building of the poultry farm and the car park. The attack killed a woman and wounded one man.
The conflict between the recidivist felon Prigozhin and the Ministry of Defense
One of the founders of PMC Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, continues to clash with the Ministry of Defense and officials, making statements on social networks. This time, he accused the Chief of the General Staff of the RF Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu of trying to destroy the Wagner PMC, forbidding the supply of ammunition and even sapper shovels to the formation. The audio message, in which Prigozhin literally screams, answering a question, was published by his press service on Telegram and on VKontakte .
“Why don’t Wagner PMCs give ammunition? (...) Because a bunch of near-military functionaries decided that this was their country, that this was their people, they decided that this people would die when it was convenient for them, when they liked it . Instead of doing their duty and giving as much ammunition as they need (...), they sit giggling in their offices and try to twist intrigues, call Telegram channels and say: “Don’t put Prigozhin on, write that he eats these ammunition or sells it to the Americans."
He also noted that the Chief of the General Staff and the Minister of Defense "distribute right and left" commands that say that Wagner PMCs not only do not give ammunition, but also do not help with air transport.
“Now information has come that they have crossed out the receipt of sapper shovels so that the guys can dig in ... There is just direct opposition, which is called nothing more than an attempt to destroy the Wagner PMC. And you can equate this with treason at the moment when the Wagner PMC is fighting for Bakhmut, losing hundreds of its fighters.
Read also The Insider's summary of the main events of the war on February 20: "Two scenarios of the Russian offensive, Biden in Kiev, "cargo 200" on "Putin's planes." What's going on at the front .