The situation at the front
Despite calls from the West to retreat from Bakhmut, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky redoubled his efforts to hold the area last week. At the same time, according to the estimates of the commander of the ground forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, General Alexander Syrsky, the situation on the Bakhmut front remains difficult, and the assault units of the Wagner PMC are attacking from several directions, trying to break the defense, writes The Wall Street Journal.
“Ukrainian troops are suffering heavy losses in Bakhmut, especially now, when paved roads for transporting ammunition and evacuating the wounded are no longer available, and alternative dirt roads are impassable due to mud for many wheeled vehicles,” the article says.
The Wagnerites in assault attacks "mainly use their penal battalions, consisting of recruit prisoners," the newspaper notes.
“On Monday, the Wagner PMC said its fighters had infiltrated the dungeon of the huge AZOM industrial plant, one of the Ukrainian strongholds in Bakhmut. There was no independent confirmation of this assertion,” writes the WSJ. Pro-Russian military expert Boris Rozhin also writes about the assault on AZOM.
Telegram channels publish a video in which the 93rd mechanized brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine fires from an infantry fighting vehicle at the enemy in a private sector in the south of Bakhmut.
Pro-Russian Telegram channels write that if the Russians manage to get out in the north (capturing Minkovka) to the Seversky Donets-Donbass canal, then they can try to close the cauldron, moving along the canal from the north and from the south (bypassing Ivanovsky). However, CIT analysts believe that the implementation of this plan may take quite a long time, so it is too early to talk about the danger of the boiler.
War criminal Igor Girkin (Strelkov, Runov) writes in his Telegram channel that the advancement of Wagner PMC units in the Bakhmut area is insignificant. According to him, Russian volunteers and mobilized people are trying to bypass Avdiivka from the north and "get out on its communications."
The evening summary of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine states that the Russian army continues to focus its main efforts on conducting an offensive in the Limansky, Bakhmutsky, Avdeevsky, Maryinsky and Shakhtyorsky directions and does not abandon attempts to reach the administrative borders of Donetsk and Lugansk regions.
Prigogine as a scapegoat
Putin and the Russian Defense Ministry could use Prigozhin as a scapegoat for a costly offensive on Bakhmut once the offensive climaxes, analysts at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) say . Putin is likely to take advantage of the Wagner PMC's heavy losses, reports of poor morale and war crimes to divert attention from similar or possibly greater problems in the Russian military, the ISW report says.
“The conflict between the Russian MoD and Wagner shows that various parties in Putin’s inner circle are competing with each other in potentially zero-sum games that do not contribute to Putin’s overall goals,” the analysts conclude.
Recruitment of Wagnerians on the loose
The British military intelligence daily report , as well as the report of the American Institute for the Study of War, is also devoted to the Wagnerites, namely the attempts of the founder of the PMC, Yevgeny Prigozhin, to resume the recruitment of mercenaries. Prigozhin may have lost access to recruiting prisoners in Russian colonies due to his constant disputes with the leadership of the Russian Ministry of Defense, according to military intelligence. Most likely, he has now switched to recruiting Russian citizens who are at large.
The summary cites media reports from last week, according to which, since March, the Wagner PMC began to create community outreach teams in sports centers in at least 40 locations across Russia. In recent days, masked Wagner recruiters have also held career talks at Moscow universities, handing out "questionnaires for a young warrior," the report's authors say. They also remind that half of the prisoners sent by the Wagner PMC to Ukraine are likely to have died or been injured. Prigozhin's new initiatives, according to British intelligence, are unlikely to compensate for the loss of the flow of prisoners.
Shelling of Ukraine and Russia
In the Nikolaev region, one of the settlements of the Kutsurub community in the Ochakovsky district was fired upon. A man and a woman born in 1978 and 1980 died, said the head of the regional administration, Vitaly Kim. In addition, a seven-year-old child was injured, who was taken by ambulance.
One civilian was killed, four more were wounded during shelling of a village in the Sumy region . According to Andriy Yermak, head of the office of the President of Ukraine, Russian troops struck near the lyceum in the village of Znob-Novgorodskoye.
Russian troops carried out two rocket attacks on a school in Avdiivka ( Donetsk Oblast ). A local resident died, Andriy Yermak, head of the office of the President of Ukraine, said .
Two civilians, a primary school teacher and a technical worker, were wounded during the shelling of the Kievsky district of Donetsk , said the head of the occupation administration of the city, Aleksey Kulemzin. “As a result of the shelling of the Kievsky district in school No. 58 along Partizansky Avenue, two people were slightly injured,” Kulemzin wrote in his Telegram channel. According to him, the glazing was also damaged in the school.
Ukrainian forces shelled the annexed Volnovakha in the Donetsk region , writes RIA Novosti. As the investigator of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federationtold the agency, the shelling was carried out, presumably, from the HIMARS MLRS. According to him, due to the shelling, two women were killed and a 14-year-old girl was wounded.
The Ukrainian command "South" warned of a high threat of a Russian missile attack. In the eastern direction and over the Sea of Azov , the activity of Russian tactical aviation has increased, and in the Black Sea there are two missile carriers and a submarine.
Supply of arms and training of the Ukrainian military
Ukraine became the third in the world in terms of arms imports in 2022. Only Qatar and India are ahead of it. The largest arms suppliers to Kiev are the United States (34%), Poland (17%) and Germany (11%), according to the annual report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). At the same time, SIPRI notes, American exports to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Japan are higher than to Ukraine, and the weapons supplied by Washington to these countries are more advanced and expensive.
The German Zeit announces the completion of the training of Ukrainian crews to operate Leopard 2 tanks. The newspaper writes that the Ukrainian military, who were trained in Germany, completed a full training course, including live firing, and in March "will return to Ukraine along with tanks."