#UKRAINERUSSIAWAR. Lavrov: ‘The West wants to create a “second front” in Georgia and Moldova. Bachmut undermined by Ukrainians on the run

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Closing the issue of the secret documents leaked on 16 April is Yevgeny Prigozhin: “The Pentagon documents leaked to the network do not represent any strategic danger” to the Ukrainian armed forces, said the founder of Wagner

However, the documents still fuel the headlines: ‘The US and its allies are actively preparing Ukraine’s armed forces for the spring counteroffensive, scheduled for 30 April’. Newsweek reports, citing secret Pentagon and US intelligence documents that have been leaked on the Internet.

The documents indicate that the counterattack will be carried out by the 10th Corps of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, consisting of nine brigades. “The total amount of equipment required for 9 brigades is 253 tanks, 381 mechanised vehicles, 480 vehicles, 147 artillery units and 571 units of American HMMWV (Humvee, ed) armoured vehicles,” one of the documents states.

According to US intelligence, the loss of Bachmut, which is gradually passing into the hands of Russian troops, ‘will be a psychological blow’ to the armed forces of Ukraine.

‘An escalation of hostilities in Ukraine is expected in the coming weeks: in addition to the planned counter-offensive of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, an increase in the intensity of Russian attacks is also possible,’ said Colonel Margo Grosberg, commander of the Intelligence Centre of the Estonian Defence Forces. According to Grosberg, this spring has been unusually rainy, but now it is raining less and less and soon the terrain will allow manoeuvres. He also noted that in the near future the trees will begin to cover themselves with foliage, so the effectiveness of aerial reconnaissance will decrease and conditions for preparing attacks will improve. According to Grosberg, Russia still maintains the initiative in the conflict with Ukraine.

Sergey Lavrov, now on an official visit to Latin America, said from Samarkand: ‘Ukraine will destroy the inhabitants of its former eastern regions’. The Russian foreign minister spoke about Podolyak’s words on Crimea: ‘A man named Podolyak, who, as far as I understand, enjoys Zelensky’s trust and sets his conceptual guidelines, said that when Ukraine takes Crimea, it will eradicate the Russian language, Russian culture and everything Russian in Crimea,’ Lavrov said. He continued: ‘There can only be Ukrainian culture or global culture, as he said. And he called the inhabitants of the former eastern regions of Ukraine bandits who must be destroyed or imprisoned. These are the goals for which the Ukrainian leadership is promoting Zelensky’s so-called ten-point peace plan, which is supposed to take back, as they say, the Donbass and Crimea, and only then receive reparations from the Russian side and hold a court on the Russian Federation. then graciously agree to sign a peace agreement.”

According to Lavrov: “The West is trying to create a ‘second front’ in Georgia and Moldova. The minister also pointed to the Polish army very close to the border with Belarus.

Polish Prime Minister Morawiecki stated that: “the conflict in Ukraine could continue for several years. The country’s leadership is not even trying to make predictions about when it might end’. Morawiecki spoke about this in an interview with NBC News. Morawiecki noted that Russia has many resources, including natural and human resources. He also acknowledged that most Russians support the country’s leadership.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said during his speech at a press conference in Washington on 15 April that the counter-offensive of Ukrainian troops will begin ‘in the near future’.

On 16 April, the Ukrainian authorities announced the Easter exchange of prisoners. According to the head of the office of the President of Ukraine Andriy Yermak, Kiev managed to bring back 130 people. Among them are military personnel, border guards, national guardsmen, sailors, employees of the Special State Transport Protection Service. Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin confirmed the news: his men were in charge of transferring a group of prisoners of war from the Ukrainian side, his press service reported.

Still a mystery, however, on the Ukrainian side about the number of dead. The Defence Minister of Ukraine, Oleksii Reznikov, told a journalist: ‘I cannot give you a number, but I can assure you that the total number is lower than the death toll of the earthquake in Turkey’.

The movement of shipping was interrupted on 15 April in Sevastopol on Saturday, the city’s road and transport infrastructure development directorate reported. The reason for the stop was not specified. It is reported that land rolling stock was organised at the final stopping points to work on the clearing route. The Sevastopol Bay raid was recently stopped for two reasons: because of a storm or during drone attacks.

Ukrainian troops are active in the direction of Zaporozhzhia the Russian artillery has started to work more, said the commander of the Msta-B gun crew

On 17 April the most powerful bombardment was carried out by Russian aerospace forces on enemy targets in the direction of Kupyansk

In Bachmut, the Ukrainian armed forces continue to undermine buildings, moving away from the city districts. Russian troops are advancing safely in two regions: the LPR and the Kharkov region. The most intensive offensive operations are carried out in the vicinity of Kreminna. In particular, on the social sphere pro-Russian accounts claim that 12 April, with the active support of artillery, it was possible to completely oust the Ukrainian groups from the Serebryansky forestry (part of the huge Kremensky National Forest Park).

While the Ukrainians have been shelling the Shebekinsky urban district in the Belgorod region for three days, the Krasnoe area was hit. Earlier, the villages of Novaya Tavolzhanka and Terezovka were hit by the Ukrainians. At night, Ukrainian UAVs also attacked two 330 KV substations in the villages of Blizhnaya Igumenka and Dragunskoye in the Belgorod region, fire broke out in the structures.

The American Institute for the Study of War (ISW) also confirms the successes of Russian troops on the border between LPR and the Kharkiv region, after studying satellite images. American experts say that to the west and north-west of Kreminna, Russian and Ukrainian troops have again returned to positional battles (in particular, in the Zhuravskaya radius, which has already changed hands several times) at this time it seems that the Russian military has the upper hand. This is due to the fact that the paratroopers could receive the long-awaited thermobaric MLRS ‘Solntse (Sun)’. Each shot from such a system leaves a bare field up to 4 hectares from Ukrainian positions.

Finally, a brief description of the situation at the front updated at 15:00 on 17 April 2023.

Fighting continues in the central part of Bachmut. Assault detachments of the PMC ‘Wagner’ are fighting for control of the railway station, most of whose territory has been taken. However, Ukrainian formations are trying to counter-attack and hold back the advance towards the western periphery. A little north of the railway station, Wagner’s men drove the Ukrainian armed forces out of the Bachmut depot area.

In the northern suburbs, Wagner assault detachments entrenched themselves in one of the sections of Kraynaya Street and are attacking Ukrainian strongholds on Pobedy Street. In addition, Russian units broke through from School No. 3 south along Levanevsky Street, approaching garages in the Poselok area.

North of Bachmut, where Russian paratroopers are present, positional battles are taking place. Artillerymen of the Russian Armed Forces launched shots at the position area of the 56th Ompbr brigade-artillery group in Malinovka and destroyed the firing point.

South of Seversk, crews of the Stugna anti-tank missile system were deployed to Ukrainian strongholds. At the same time, part of the forces of the 10th Brigade will be transferred to a new position area from 17 to 23 April.

Near Belogorovka, after several failed attacks and retreats to the front lines, the Russian armed forces managed to break through the defences of the Ukrainian armed forces south of the village. Intense fighting is ongoing on the south-eastern outskirts of the settlement.

At the moment, the assault on Bachmut continues. There are no signs of a withdrawal of the Ukrainian forces, despite the fact that more than 80% of the town has already come under Russian control. In the vicinity of Bachmut, National Guard forces with a total of 100 personnel have been deployed and volunteer units from the Sumy region are also expected to arrive.

Given the onslaught of ‘Wagnerites’ in the city centre and the approach of assault groups from the north, the Ukrainian Armed Forces with a high degree of probability will withdraw forces to prepared positions in the south-western periphery. The Tchaikovsky-Korsunsky triangle is elevated relative to the areas from which Russian units are attacking, making it a more convenient frontier for defence.

In the direction of Donetsk, Wagner assault detachments took two districts in the north-western and south-eastern parts of Artemovsk (Bakhmut), the Russian Defence Ministry reports.

Russian airborne forces blocked Ukrainian actions on the flanks of Wagner assault detachments in Artemovsk (Bakhmut), the Russian Defence Ministry added.

Graziella Giangiulio

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