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CDS Daily brief (20.03.23) | CDS comments on key events

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Snapshot of the day:

General, humanitarian:

  • Ukrainian Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets submitted to the Parliament an annual report on the state of observance and protection of human and citizen rights and freedoms in Ukraine for 2022.
  • Russia attacked 8 Ukrainian Oblasts over the past day.
  • The Russian invaders are intensifying forced “passportization” in the temporarily captured territory of Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
  • 150,000 Ukrainians were registered unemployed with the State Employment Service as of March 1, 2023.


  • The enemy continues to focus its efforts on offensive operations in the Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, Maryinka, and Shakhtarsk directions;
  • The enemy’s impact on the Ukrainian Air Defense in the Avdiyivka area complicated the actions of the Ukrainian grouping and limited the possibilities of counter-battery combat;
  • With the intensification of hostilities in the Avdiyivka area, the Russian Forces aimed to draw the reserves of the Ukrainian Defence Forces away from Vuhledar. The enemy failed to achieve this and suffered significant losses;
  • The reorganization of the units in the Vuhledar area and the creation of the “Storm” type detachments in the first echelon indicate the deterioration of the enemy’s offensive capabilities in the west of Donetsk Oblast.


  • The U.S. announced a $350 million security package, and eighteen European countries would jointly procure one million 155mm artillery rounds for Ukraine. Eight Norwegian Leopard 2 MBTs have arrived in Ukraine, while German Marder IFVs are on approach.
  • Russia saw no problem in violating the written agreement of the Black Sea Grain Initiative and started to blackmail the world.
  • Xi Jinping met with an alleged war criminal, Vladimir Putin. They published position articles and talked about a U.N.-based international order, a “democratic” election in both countries, Xi’s “peace” plan, and a bit about anti-Americanism.
Humanitarian aspect:

Ukrainian Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets submitted to the Verkhovna Rada an annual report on the state of observance and protection of human and citizen rights and freedoms in Ukraine for 2022. The document is based on an analysis of 42,485 appeals by Ukrainian citizens to the Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights and the response measures taken. The focus of the annual report is the protection of persons who suffered as a result of the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine. Lubinets specified that an important component of this report is the observance of the rights of servicemen who protect the independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, as well as released prisoners of war and civilian hostages. In this report, Lubinets presented the facts of the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia and their forced relocation to temporarily occupied territories.


A coordination headquarters will be established with the participation of government officials and parliamentarians to promptly resolve the problematic issues of internally displaced persons, announced Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal on his social media. Furthermore, he emphasized that the restoration of housing destroyed by Russia is a priority for this year so that people can return home.


The local authorities call on residents of Avdiivka, Donetsk Oblast, to evacuate to safer regions of Ukraine. The Ministry of Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine noted that internally displaced persons would be accommodated in free-of-charge shelters and provided with financial, humanitarian and psychological assistance and social support.

Russian attacks

Over the past day, the Russian army carried out attacks on 8 regions of Ukraine. Among the consequences are the following:

  • At night, the Russians targeted Kramatorsk, Donetsk Oblast. There are damaged houses. In the morning, Avdiivka came under fire. There is damage on two streets and the territory of the industrial plant. There is 1 injured civilian in Kostyantynivka, 3 high-rise buildings and 3 private houses were damaged. Also, 1 injured was reported in Bakhmut; 3 high-rise buildings were damaged.
  • The Russian occupiers hit Kherson Oblast 86 times and wounded six civilians. Private and apartment buildings were damaged in Kherson.
  • Over the past day, law enforcement officers received 3 reports of destruction in the Polohy and Vasylivka districts of Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
  • The enemy continues to shell the border settlements of the Kupyansk, Chuhuyiv and Bohodukhiv districts of Kharkiv Oblast. At least 5 private residential buildings were damaged in Oleksandrivka and Tymofiivka villages.
  • At night and in the morning, the Russians hit the Seredyno-Budsk and Velykopysarivsk hromadas of Sumy Oblast twice. No casualties or damage were reported.
Occupied territories

The Russian invaders are intensifying forced “passportization” in the temporarily captured territory of Zaporizhzhia Oblast, said Melitopol Mayor Ivan Fedorov on his social media. According to him, 80% of the population of the temporarily occupied part of Zaporizhzhia Oblast is under threat of forced imposition of Russian passports by this fall. Moreover, the so-called “head” of [occupied part of] the region, Yevgeny Balitsky, appointed by Russia, does not even hide the fact that the accelerated pace of passportization is connected with the need to “secure the elections” scheduled for September, Fedorov emphasized.

Serhiy Moskalenko, the organizer of the torture chamber in Kherson Oblast, was liquidated a few days ago in the temporarily occupied territory, according to the press service of the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense informs. As noted, Moskalenko was a resident of Nova Kakhovka and the owner of a local security firm. During the occupation, he cooperated with the Russians and received the position of the so-called chief of the pre-trial detention center, where inhumane torture was perpetrated on captured Ukrainians.


The issuance of an arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court for the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, does not replace and should not stop the agreement on the creation of an international tribunal, Oleksandra Romantsova, executive director of the Civil Liberties Center NGO, stated at a briefing at the Media Center Ukraine. According to her, the crime of aggression, which an international tribunal can consider, is a broader accusation and, in addition to Putin himself, it concerns all Kremlin officials, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Sergey Lavrov.

Operational situation General conclusion:
  • The enemy concentrates its main efforts on conducting offensive operations in the Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, Maryinka, and Shakhtarsk directions;
  • The enemy caused significant losses to the Ukrainian Air Defense in the Avdiyivka area, which complicated the actions of the Ukrainian grouping and limited the possibilities of counter-battery combat due to the lack of artillery cover from air strikes;
  • With the intensification of hostilities in the Avdiyivka area, the Russian Armed Forces aimed to draw the reserves of the Ukrainian Defence Forces away from Vuhledar. The enemy failed to achieve this and suffered significant losses;
  • The enemy’s reorganization of the existing units in the Vuhledar area and the creation of the “Storm” type detachments in the first echelon of the consolidated units indicate the deterioration of the enemy’s offensive capabilities in the west of Donetsk Oblast.
  • Units of the Defense Forces repelled more than 69 enemy attacks in various directions. Bakhmut remains the epicenter of hostilities.
  • The enemy attacked in the areas of Novoselivske, Kreminna and Bilohorivka in Luhansk Oblast, Bakhmut, Ivanivske, Bohdanivka, Hryhorivka, Kamianka, Avdiyivka, Severne, Vodyane, Berdychi and Maryinka in Donetsk Oblast.
  • The Defence Forces launched a successful counterattack southwest of Ivanovske and pushed Russian forces away from the T0504 route in the area.
  • The enemy achieved minor success near Bohdanivka; advanced to Berdychi.
Change in enemy disposition:

–     the Russian command reinforced the 155th separate marines brigade with units of the 98th airborne division, which was partially deployed in the Kreminna area.

Escalation indicators:
  • The enemy deploys reinforcements to the Vuhledar area;
  • A unit of the “Storm” type is being formed as part of the 37th separate motorized rifle brigade of the 36th Army.
Possible operation situation developments:
  • In the short term, the enemy will concentrate its efforts in the areas between Bakhmut and Bilohorivka and in the Kreminna-Lyman direction.
Azov-Black Sea Maritime Operational Area:
  • The number of enemy ships at sea during the previous day has decreased due to weather conditions. 5 ships and vessels of the Russian Navy are patrolling the Black Sea region at a distance from the coast of Crimea.
  • There are no Kalibr missile carriers in the sea. They are all at the base points:
    • in Sevastopol – frigates “Admiral Essen”, “Admiral Makarov” and submarines pr. 636.3;
    • in Feodosia – corvettes “Grayvoron”, “Vyshnyi Volochyok”, and “Ingushetia”;
    • in Novorossiysk – two submarines pr. 636.3.

In total, they can carry up to 52 “Kalibr” cruise missiles.

  • One patrol ship is on duty in the waters of the Sea of Azov.
  • Enemy aviation continues to fly from the Crimean airfields of Belbek, Saki, Dzhankoy and Hvardiyske. A total of 18 combat sorties were made over the past day. Su-27, Su30SM, and MiG-29K aircraft from the Belbek and Saki aircraft carriers were involved in monitoring the surface and air situation in the northwestern part of the Black Sea.
  • Three flights of military transport aircraft of the Russian Air Force were carried out to the Dzhankoy airfield to deliver personnel.
  • Control of the air situation and operational-tactical aviation over the waters of the Sea of Azov was carried out by the A-50U AEW&C aircraft.
  • No signs of the formation of offensive groups were observed on the territory of the Transnistria region of the Republic of Moldova (PMR). Armed formations of the self- proclaimed PMR are on “constant” combat readiness. Units of Russian troops in the PMR are on duty in an enhanced mode. The main activity aims to ensure the protection of military facilities, first of all, the 1411th artillery depot (Kolbasna village) and the Tiraspol airfield.
  • In the future, the enemy will continue shelling the positions of Ukrainian units and civilian objects in Kherson Oblast. It will try to prevent Ukrainian troops from consolidating on the islands at the mouth of the Dnipro River.
Russian operational losses from 24.02.22 to 20.03.23

Personnel – almost 165,610 people (+700);

Tanks – 3,537 (+5);

Armored combat vehicles – 6,869 (+16);

Artillery systems – 2,577 (+9);

Multiple rocket launchers (MLRS) – 507 (0); Anti-aircraft warfare systems – 270 (+2); Vehicles and fuel tanks – 5,416 (+8);

Aircraft – 305 (0);

Helicopters – 290 (0);

UAV operational and tactical level – 2160 (+1); Intercepted cruise missiles – 907 (0);

Boats/ships – 18 (0).

Ukraine, general news

As of March 1, 2023, 150,000 people were registered as unemployed in Ukraine, 106,700 of them were women, the State Employment Service of Ukraine reports. The largest number of unemployed are registered among the population aged 35 to 44 and 45 to 55 years, 29% in each group. 43% of those registered have higher education, 36% have professional and technical, and 21% -have general secondary education. The largest number of unemployed (21%) was recorded among representatives of the trade businesses, 16% in the processing industry and agriculture, forestry and fisheries. On average, 5 registered unemployed applied for one job in Ukraine.

International diplomatic aspect

The Biden administration has authorized an additional $350 million in security aid for Ukraine, including ammunition for HIMARS, High-speed Anti-radiation missiles, 155mm artillery rounds, demolition munitions, and ammunition for Bradley IFVs, anti-tank weapons and riverine boats, and more.

Seventeen E.U. member states and Norway have jointly agreed to procure one million 155mm artillery rounds for Ukraine. “In order to increase our production capacity, there have to be clear prospects for demand. That is why there are three tracks that go together. First, the ones [ammunitions] that we already have. Second, the ones that have to be produced [the E.U. has allocated €2 billion]. Third, the industrial capacity to produce more. It is one after the other, and all together, it makes a comprehensive and coherent package. Funding is there. Capacities are there,” E.U.’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said. While Norway has delivered eight Leopard 2 MBTs to Ukraine, forty German Marder IFVs are on their way.

Russia has violated the terms of the BSGI agreement and blackmails the world with rising food prices and hunger in developing countries. The Kremlin is trying to undermine the sanction regime while blaming the West for the rising food prices and shortages. “A fair and comprehensive implementation of the Black Sea grain deal can only be ensured if our position is taken into account, and depending on that, we will deal with the issue of our further participation in it,” Vladimir Putin commented on the extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative. Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson said that “a decision was made in Moscow to reduce the period of the next prolongation to 60 days… there were no formal objections.” Maria Zakharova outlined Russia’s demands which include reconnection of the Rosselkhozbank to SWIFT; resumption of supplies of agricultural machinery, spare parts, and service; the abolition of restrictions on insurance and reinsurance, and lifting of the ban on access to ports; switching on the ammonia pipeline “Togliatti-Odessa”; unblocking foreign assets and accounts of Russian companies associated with the production and transportation of food and fertilizers.

The International Criminal Court arrest warrant for a suspected war criminal, Vladimir Putin, did not stop Xi Jinping from visiting Russia. On the eve of the visit, the PRC Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that the ICC “should uphold an objective and impartial stance, respect the jurisdictional immunity enjoyed by the head of state in accordance with international law, exercise its functions and powers prudently by the law, interpret and apply international law in good faith, and avoid politicization and double standards.” “That President Xi is traveling to Russia days after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for President Putin suggests that China feels no responsibility to hold the Kremlin accountable for the atrocities committed in Ukraine, and instead of even condemning them, it would rather provide diplomatic cover for Russia to continue to commit those very crimes,” Antony Blinken nailed it.

“In the face of a turbulent and changing world, China is willing to continue to work with Russia to firmly safeguard the international order,” the Chinese leader outlined in the Orwellian style the goal of his visit to Russia, the country that started the largest conflict in Europe since 1945, committed numerous war crimes and returned land-grabs to international relations. “China and Russia firmly uphold the UN-centric international system and the world order based on international law, as well as the fundamental norms and principles of international relations based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter,” Xi Jinping wrote for the Russian state newspaper. He went on to state that “the parties are taking effective steps to implement true multipolarity, develop universal human values and stand for the formation of international relations of a new type and a community of common destiny for mankind.”

Vladimir Putin congratulated Xi Jinping on his “election” as a leader of China and received a courtesy reply, “I know that the Russian presidential election is next year. Russia’s development has significantly improved under your firm leadership. I believe that the Russian people will continue to strongly support you.”

In the comment on Xi’s “peace” initiative, Putin expectedly praised it for being “based on the principles of justice and commitment to the fundamental points of international law” and pushed the narrative that Russia is “always open to the negotiation process.” Earlier in the article for Jenmin Jibao, Putin wrote, “we are grateful for the balanced line of the PRC in connection with the events taking place in Ukraine, for understanding their background and real reasons… Russia is open to a politico-diplomatic settlement of the Ukrainian crisis. However, back in April 2022, the peace talks were by no means terminated by us. The future of the peace process depends solely on the readiness for a serious conversation, taking into account the prevailing geopolitical realities. Unfortunately, the ultimatum demands addressed to Russia speak only of isolation from such realities and disinterest in finding a way out of the current situation. At the same time, the crisis in Ukraine, provoked and diligently fueled by the West, is the most striking today, but by no means the only manifestation of intentions to maintain dominance in the international arena and unipolar world order.”

As Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba stressed in a phone call with his Chinese counterpart last week, restoring the territorial integrity of Ukraine should be at the core of every diplomatic effort. “We stand ready to engage in a closer dialogue with China in order to restore peace in Ukraine

in accordance with the principles enshrined in the U.N. Charter and the latest UNGA resolution on this matter,” Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson stated. The Secretary of the Nationals Security and Defence Council of Ukraine was more straightforward, “the first and foremost point [of the PRC peace plan should be] is the surrender or withdrawal of Russian occupation forces from the territory of Ukraine in accordance with international law and the UN Charter.” The U.S. National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications resonated with the Ukrainian position, “A ceasefire called right now would basically just ratify Russia’s conquest and give Mr. Putin more time to really equip and retrain and restart operations at a time and a place of his choosing.”

Xi added a bit of anti-Americanism into his message: “The international community is well aware that no country in the world is superior to all others. There is no universal model of government, and there is no world order where the decisive word belongs to an individual country… Actions of hegemony, despotism, and persecution cause serious harm to the world.” Putin picked it up and went on by stating that “the ‘collective West’ clings more and more desperately to archaic dogmas, to its elusive dominance, putting the fate of entire states and peoples at stake… The course pursued by the United States of dual containment of Russia and China, as well as all those who do not succumb to American dictates, is becoming more acute and assertive. The architecture of international security and cooperation is being dismantled.”

Russia, relevant news

Kremlin employees were advised to abandon the iPhone, “Kommersant” writes. According to the sources of the publication, such an instruction was announced at a seminar for employees of the internal political bloc of the presidential administration, which was held in early March in the Moscow region. “iPhone is done. Either throw it away or give it to the kids. Everyone will have to do this in March,” said one of the publication’s interlocutors. The presidential administration believes that Apple smartphones are more susceptible to hacking and espionage by Western experts. Instead of iPhones, officials were offered to use models with Android operating systems, its Chinese counterparts or the Russian Aurora.

Centre for Defence Strategies (CDS) is a Ukrainian security think tank. We operate since 2020 and are involved in security studies, defence policy research and advocacy. Currently all our activity is focused on stopping the ongoing war.

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