The so-called Russian special operation has entered its second phase. One of the main tasks of phase one was the task of surrounding and destroying the largest and most combat-ready group of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the Donbass. On the Donetsk and Gorlovka side, two fortified areas of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Avdiivka and Peski, were attacked for several days, hence the shelling of Donetsk and Gorlovka which has actually been going on for many years and still continues. To date, from Gorlovka, it has been possible to break through the first line of defence and take control of n. p. Verkhnetoretskoe. The advance is slow, as one has to overcome well fortified areas and defence lines of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, which has turned the settlements into a continuous network of concrete fortifications and a system of trenches and underground tunnels.
South of Donetsk, the DPR army is “liberating” Maryinka, where the main Ukrainian Armed Forces have already been put out of action, but there are still scattered pockets of resistance. In addition to overcoming the defensive lines, there is a manoeuvre whose aim is to get to Avdiivka and Peski and bring the entrenched military out into the open. The blockade of any inhabitant or fortified area allows the attackers to solve several problems at once: to cut off the supply of supplies, food and fuel to the entrenched soldiers in the dungeons and dwellings defending the towns, and to give no opportunity to retreat or bring out the sick or wounded. All this makes it almost impossible for the Ukrainian armed forces to carry out any tasks. Unless they surrender to the Russian Armed Forces.
In the west, the Russian Armed Forces are attempting to bypass the Ukrainian military settlement from the west. Particularly in Kurakhovo, according to the Russians there is a barrier created by the Ukrainians in the form of a fortified area. That is why, in order to facilitate the task of taking Kurakhovo in the near future, the Russians and Ukrainians fighting with the Russians have formed a group to block it from the west.
To the north, in the area of Izyum, heavy battles are now taking place and new forces are on their way to Kamenka, located south of Izyum. If successful in this direction, the Russian Armed Forces will immediately have the opportunity to reach Slavyansk and Kramatorsk and create a threat to the Ukrainian Armed Forces group there. Late on 23 March, cruise missile attacks on the northern outskirts of Kiev destroyed two Tochka-U OTRK installations located in the industrial zone. The city is now blocked on three sides by Russian troops. In the areas of hostilities, attack helicopters of the Russian Air Force take off every night. In a single day, the Russians claim, the helicopters hit 86 targets. First of all, the air force attacked the command posts of the Ukrainian Armed Forces to deprive them of control and disorganise the enemy. As a result, 6 command posts were destroyed. In addition, in the area controlled by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, helicopters destroyed 6 artillery pieces, 2 multiple rocket launch systems, 49 troop and equipment stacking sites of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, as well as 3 large ammunition depots.
This danger of reaching Slavyansk and Kramatorsk is well understood by the command of the Ukrainian Forces, so Izyum is constantly trying to counter-attack. In addition to the impending battles in this area, the destruction of the military facilities of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in Kramatorsk, Druzhkovka and Konstantinovka continues.
Phase two of the Special Operation has the task of taking Mariupol from which there are reports that the mayor has fled and that the Russians have taken 70% of the city. Excluding the industrial areas where there are strongholds of the Azov Brigade who have barricaded the steelworks with civilians. In its own way, the operation in Mariupol is truly unique. An assault on the city requires on average 3-4 times more men and technical means than in other cities. Here there is an almost equal balance of forces, however, the attackers produce daily results, advancing and taking control of new areas of the city. In the eastern zone on 24 March there were updates: fighting is ongoing in the direction of Kurakhov – north of Ugledar and west of Maryinka. Parts of the DPR Armed Forces (Ukrainian separatists) are advancing in the Avdiivka circumference. Fighting south of Izyum in the direction of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk intensified again. Urban battles continue in Severodonetsk and Mariupol. Particularly in the eastern front. There are fights for every house in Mariupol. It is confirmed that the combined troops of the LDNR (formed by pro-Russian Ukrainian citizens) and the Russian Federation occupy 70% of the city. The 23rd was the last day on which the Russians offered the Azov forces the opportunity to surrender, from the 24th onwards no prisoners will be taken.
In the middle of the front, the Russian Armed Forces continue to reduce the composition of the 54th separate mechanised brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the Donetsk region from the southern and south-eastern outskirts of the Novomikhailovka settlement, north of Ugledar. According to Russian sources, the advance is 2 kilometres per day. There is no confirmation from the Ukrainian side. Bitter battles are going on in the south of Izyum, now the main front in terms of intensity and importance, no less important in the battle for Mariupol. The Ukrainian armed forces have deployed large forces, the fighting is going on in the village of Kamenka, because this road leads to Slavyansk. In the area of the Slavyansk-Kromatorsk-Artemovsk agglomeration, mass arrivals at the strategic facilities of the VKS. Artillery works from two sides, missiles, aircraft. Russian air defences in the vicinity of Izyum shot down a Ukrainian Su-24 bomber a few days ago, a shooting down confirmed by the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Phase three, which has not yet begun, will focus on the southern front. At the moment, no changes in the southern direction have been noted, either through satellite photos or online witnesses, except for the fact that information has appeared that communication with the 80th Specialised Brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces has disappeared, which has caused an uproar in the Ukrainian information environment. On the day of the 23rd there is no significant advancement of Russian troops, the concentration of forces on the right side of the Dnepr will continue. There are no active hostilities near Nikolaev and Odessa, the equipment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has suffered heavy losses, for Russian sources would be annihilated.
In the region of Chernihiv, groups of special forces of the Russian Armed Forces, according to local sources, have started to attack, destroying equipment, personnel and checkpoints of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, or more simply, have started to clear the territory that the Russian troops initially crossed without firing.
Brovary is covered in Kiev. The mayor of this town has called on the population to evacuate. Well, in Kiev, Ukrainian air defence activity has significantly decreased, allowing Russian planes to fly over the city and bomb targets. It seems, from Ukrainian social sources, that Kiev’s pvoshniks have been battered. It is also pointed out that the Russian army, which according to Russian Defence Ministry sources counts at least 15,000 soldiers killed in battle to date, is adopting the following tactic on Kiev: it sends forward on patrol, to check if its reports are accurate, teams of paratroopers, who try to move silently and without firing, have artillery cover behind them and possibly helicopters. Then, if the objective is confirmed, they give the air defence the go-ahead, after the air attack, the tanks advance and the paratroopers retreat. Not only that: the military take, old school, rest shifts with respect to the front line, so sometimes you see the trucks taking the troops back and forth even by a few kilometres. Increasingly, tanks are being hidden in the forests for protection to avoid shelling. Some retreats are tactical in anticipation of aerial bombardment. Others are not. In addition, the Russians are forced to mine all the areas they cover. And one can see via satellite the routes marked by white triangular encumbrances placed after the advance of the deminers, to avoid exploding in the minefields of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Perhaps this is also the reason why the advance is slow and will take many more weeks than Moscow had estimated.
We finish with the situation near Odessa, in Zatoka, in one of the communication centres, following a missile attack, several Grad MLRS installations and some of the personnel who were at the base were destroyed.