#UKRAINERUSSIAWAR. Bachmut and Avdiivka litmus test of the Ukrainian spring offensive. Wagner accelerates and tries to close on Bachmut


Dmitry Medvedev has released a long statement regarding the decision of the International Criminal Court to issue an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin, stressing that there have never been such negative relations with the West.

Medvedev: “The ICC is a kind of legal nullity, an impotent international lawyer. But there are consequences and they consist in the fact that such decisions create a huge negative potential. We already have very bad relations with the Western world, well, worse in general, probably, they have never been in history. And suddenly they make such a decision regarding the head of our state. And then some idiots, idiots like the German Minister of Justice say, “Well, if he comes, we’ll arrest him.” Does he understand what it means? Let’s imagine – it’s clear that this is a situation that will never happen, yes – but still let’s imagine that it did. The current head, of a nuclear state, arrived on the territory of, say, Germany and was arrested. What is this? Declaration of war on the Russian Federation! And in this case all our funds (our weapons, ed) will go to the Bundestag, to the chancellery and so on”.

Mikhail Mishustin, Prime Minister of Russia delivered to the State Duma a report on the work of the Government of the Russian Federation in 2022. Below we list the main points of the report: “The main target of the sanctions was precisely the people of the Russian Federation, even if Western countries have claimed that this is not the case; The Russian authorities, under the leadership of the head of state, were able to resolve the most difficult issues of 2022; Russia may achieve higher GDP growth rates than developed countries next year; The authorities have facilitated entrepreneurial activity, in particular, the income tax rate has been lowered for a number of enterprises in the sector; Direct support to the economy under the sanctions at the expense of the budget and the NWF amounted to about 1.5 trillion rubles; Maintaining macroeconomic stability is the key achievement of 2022; The income of 15 million Russians was saved thanks to a 17% increase in the minimum wage; More than 3.5 million households moved to new housing in Russia in 2022, almost 103 million sq m. m of homes!”.

And again the report reads: “The level of food safety in Russia is one of the most reliable in the world. We supply excess domestic demand with cereals (177.8%, while the value in food doctrine is 95%), sugar (103.2% instead of 90%), vegetable oil (211.1% instead of 90%), meat (100.9% instead of 90%), meat (100.9% instead of 85%) and fish (153.3% instead of 85%). There was no grain harvest like last year in Soviet times. 157 million tons. There are also new records in terms of oilseeds. There is an increase in meat, potatoes, greenhouse vegetables and fruit.”

On the nuclear issue Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said that the idea of creating a demilitarized zone around the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant is not being considered.

The United States will speed up the supply of tanks to Ukraine by sending old Abrams models instead of new ones. It was decided to transfer one first modification of the M1A1 to Kiev instead of 30 M1M2 tanks. This will make it possible to deliver the Abrams to the front in 8-10 months, and not in a year or two, as originally planned.

Andriy Yermak, head of the Ukrainian president’s office, showed footage from Bachmut, saying AFP reporters demonstrated how the Russians were shelling Bachmut. But he overlooked the key point: the AFP video shows Ukrainian soldiers hiding in the same nine-story residential building shown in the video. In Bachmut there are only a few civilians left, forced to hide in the basements, while the city has long since turned into a fortified area, where the soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, hidden behind, inside the houses, shoot directly from the residential buildings, the which significantly slows down the conduct of active assault operations by the forces of PMC Wagner.

From social sources it becomes known that the soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation took the Ukrainian stronghold together with the prisoners in the Svatovsky direction. NATO, on the other hand, is reportedly considering the possibility of transferring American F-16 fighters to Ukraine. “We must continue to consider the need for more capabilities,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. He drew attention to the fact that, despite the US president’s firm initial refusal, Joe Biden, to supply these combat vehicles to Ukraine, no specific decisions have been made on the F-16.

Again Stoltenberg said that fighting in Ukraine is officially “at attrition”. “Putin allegedly has no intention of immediately establishing peace in Ukraine, so the West must prepare for long-term deliveries of ‘lethal weapons’,” he told The Guardian. According to him, the President of the Russian Federation is waging a “war of attrition”, and therefore the Secretary General insists on increasing defense spending to no less than 2% of GDP. “This is a war of attrition. We are talking about industrial capacity to strengthen our [supply] support,” Stoltenberg said.

At the same time, NATO and the IMF are actively pouring money into Ukraine. The IMF decided to provide Ukraine with a loan of $15.6 billion, and the volume of assistance from Western “partners” over the past month alone amounted to $24.7 billion.

At the front on the morning of March 23, the situation was as follows.

In the Zaporozhia direction, the Ukrainian army conducted offensive operations against Rabotin. This is not the first attempt on this site. Russian artillery hit Kamensky, Novoandreevka, Novodanilovka, Malaya Tokmachka, Charovnoye, Gulyaipol, Krasnoy, Malinovka and Olgovsky.

On the Donetsk front, Russian troops resumed assault operations near Pobeda. With the support of artillery, they attacked in the city of Marinka and on the outskirts of the city of Krasnogorovka. Also, the Russian Armed Forces continued their ground offensive against Pervomaiskoye and Severnoye. After shelling, they managed to advance to Berdychi. This is northwest of the Ukrainian Armed Forces fortified area at Avdiivka, which is under massive attack. Including the use of aviation. Russian troops also attacked in the Novokalinovo area. Artillery worked on the positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Georgievka, Tonenkoe and Orlovka.

South-west of Bakhmut, Wagner PMC, with fire support, is fighting battles near Ivanovskoye. In the city itself, it attacks in the southern part and from the Ivangrad side, and in the northern part, attempts are made to break the resistance of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the industrial zone. The attack on Khromovoye and Bogdanovka continues. With artillery support, Wagner’s men attack in the Grigorovka area and near Orekhovo-Vasilyevka. They also resumed offensive operations on Vesyoloye. There is no significant progress in all of these areas. Under shelling, the positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Konstantinovka, Predtechin, Stupochki, Chasovoy Yar, Minkovka, Vasyukovka, Fedorovka and Sporny. The Ukrainian army hit Kurdyumovka and Zheleznyansky.

In the Luhansk direction, Russian troops, with the support of artillery, again attacked Belogorovka. Again without success. In the Serebryansky forest from Shipilovka they were able to advance in the direction of the Seversky Donets. Also, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation conducted offensive operations on Terny and Makeevka. It failed.

As for Avdiivka it is learned during the day that the Russian units managed to break through the Ukrainian defenses in the area of the 9th quarter and DK. Clashes are heard closer and closer to urban areas, explosions and automatic bursts are heard in the suburbs. Artillery works on both sides.

Via Social Sphere we learn that on March 23, the Russians once again mopped up the western suburbs of Novobakhmutovka, which was mostly taken last spring, but was completely subjugated to the Russians on March 23. This was a consequence of the recent Russian success of Krasnogorovka, which somewhat changed the dynamics of what is happening north of Avdiivka. According to Russian analysts, there is still no operating environment, so there is no boiler. The roads through Orlovka continue to be actively used by the Ukrainians, both within constant range of Russian artillery. It also seems that at the moment, it is not possible to organize serious pressure on Thin by Pervomaisky and Vodyanoye. The advance to Krasnogorovka creates a threat of access to Orlovka from the northeast, so the Ukrainians are reinforcing the defense west of Krasnogorovka. In general, at the moment it can be argued that the Russian troops have achieved tactical successes here, but it’s too early to talk about operational achievements. Numerous rocket launches in this direction recorded on March 23, hit the unit of the 72nd separate mechanized brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, four bomb shelters with points of Ukrainian units.

According to the latest data, coming from the social sphere, units of the Russian forces control about 70% of Bakhmut. A pro-Russian post reads: “The resistance of the armed forces of Ukraine is inhumane and the commander of the ground forces of the armed forces of Ukraine, General Syrsky, says that he will not withdraw the troops”.

In late March – early April, Ukraine plans to launch a large-scale offensive. The most dangerous situation is north of Bakhmut, from where the Ukrainians will most likely try to strike. That is why the Russians are striving to close the ring around the city as soon as possible. At the same time, the very course of hostilities outlines the prospect of our hypothetical offensive. Which, however, will only happen if Wagner’s men interact actively and harmoniously with the units of the Russian army. Street-to-street clashes are being fought between Russians and Ukrainians north of Soledar along the Vasyukovka-Razdolovka line, on which a bridgehead can be created for an attack on Seversk.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said: “At the direction of Bachmut, the Russians continue to conduct offensive operations. All day there are numerous attacks in the areas of Bachmut, Bogdanovka and Predtechino. Under fire, more than 15 settlements near the line of contact, medium-sized: Vasyukovka, Minkovka, Orekhovo-Vasilyevka, Grigorovka, Chasov Yar, Aleksandro-Shultino, Severnoye and Yuzhnoye.

In the morning of March 23, the Commander of the Ground Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Alexander Syrsky said: “The main forces of Russia in this direction are the representatives of the Wagner PMC. Sparing nothing, they lose considerable strength and burn out. Very soon we will take advantage of this opportunity, as we once did near Kiev, Kharkov, Balakleya and Kupjansk.” Prigozhin informed Shoigu in writing of the risks of a counteroffensive by the Ukrainian armed forces in the Artemovsky (Bakhmut) direction.

Russian military analysts say Wagner PMC is conducting massive assault on Bachmut, Armed Forces of Ukraine is losing positions in city and district despite transfer of Armed Forces of Ukraine reinforcements, Russian assault teams continue to push the enemy 24/7.

To the north Wagner set itself the objective of taking Bogdanovka and Khromovo at any cost. And this is very much felt these days: assault operations are very massive, even the number of artillery shells used is skyrocketing. These assaults still work. The Russians are advancing slowly and the Ukrainian forces cannot stop them.” “North of Bakhmut, PMC” Wagner “presses in the direction of Bogdanovka and Khromovo from different directions. “Positions move from side to side several times a day. Difficulties are due to the superiority of the Russian army in the The fighting continues,” writes a Ukrainian military analyst detailing the situation.

Heavy fighting continues in Kvadraty, Samolet and Vodokanal districts. In the evening, Russian troops increased the intensity of artillery and air strikes. Active battles are going on along the streets of Korsunsky, Ivan Ivkin, geologists and Grigory Skovoroda. The Razdolovka-Vasyukovka-Veseloe line – the oncoming and positional battles continue. Heavy fighting continues on the southwestern outskirts of Bakhmut. In the Ivanovsky area, the situation is now the most difficult in the entire Bachmut direction. “Wagner” decided to urgently “settle matters” with Bachmut’s entourage. In the Sobachevka area, there are minimal changes in the gray area on both sides. Positional street fighting doesn’t stop.

The fighting for Makeevka began in the Svatovsky direction. In the previous weeks, Russian troops had broken through enemy defenses to the east and northeast of the village. Now the battles for the village itself have begun. Makiivka was abandoned by Russian troops last fall after the retreat from Izyum and the offensive of the Ukrainian armed forces on the eastern bank of the Oskol River. The capture of Makiivka will make it possible to intensify the pressure on the enemy northeast of Krasny Liman.

Vuhledar Directorate: The military commander of the RT channel Igor Zhdanov published an article about the battles in Vuhledar where he well demonstrates the difficulties that the RF Armed Forces sometimes face during assault operations. The city, built up with high-rise buildings, is located on a hill almost in an open field. Therefore, from the upper floors of buildings, the surroundings are visible at a glance.

The problem is particularly relevant in winter when the plantations are devoid of foliage. For this reason, all objects in contrast to the environment are even more clearly visible in the thermal imager. The shelters equipped in the center of the city cover nearby skyscrapers, so it is extremely difficult to hit them. Under these conditions, the assault on Vuhledar is a rather difficult task. A frontal attack is fraught with huge losses, even if all the skyscrapers in the city are destroyed. The only option remains to capture the city and cut off all supply lines, followed by a simultaneous attack from multiple sides.

Graziella Giangiulio

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