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CDS Daily brief (22.03.23) | CDS comments on key events

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Snapshot of the day:

General, humanitarian:

  • Overall, the Russian forces attacked 11 Oblasts of Ukraine on March 21. There are damages and civilian casualties;
  • As of the morning of March 22, 2023, the official number of child victims is 464. The number of wounded has increased to more than 936;
  • President Zelensky visited Donetsk and Kharkiv Oblasts, met and decorated Ukrainian soldiers;
  • Russia is running a massive information campaign in the west meant to make it doubt that Ukraine is capable of winning the war, NSDC Secretary Danylov says;
  • Male residents of Luhansk Oblast are drafted into the Russian army and promised apartments confiscated from those who were forced to leave occupied areas.


  • During the week, the number of Russian attacks in Bakhmut halved;
  • The intensification of Russian operations in the Avdiivka area has led to significant losses and is a failed attempt to draw Ukrainian forces away from other areas of the front;
  • The capture of Avdiivka would not significantly change the operational situation on the outskirts of Donetsk.
  • Sea: It has been confirmed that due to the March 20 drone strikes, the Dzhankoy junction railway station was disabled. This will significantly complicate the transfer of troops and equipment to the Russia-occupied south of Ukraine and Crimea.


  • The lion’s share of Ukrainians believe in victory and approve activities of the Armed Forces and the President. The U.S. and Poland are the leading countries Ukrainians believe helped the most. Almost half of Ukrainians believe that neither Taiwan nor PRC helped Ukraine.
  • Ukraine and the IMF have agreed on a four-year $15.6 billion loan package.
  • The Prince of Wales visited British and Polish troops in Rzeszów to praise their “cooperation in support of the people of Ukraine and their freedom.”
Humanitarian aspect:

More than 1,400 children suffered in Ukraine due to the full-scale armed aggression of the Russian Federation. As of the morning of March 22, 2023, the official number of child victims is 464. The number of wounded has increased to more than 936, the Office of the Prosecutor General reports. 392 children are considered missing, according to the National Police.

In Kherson Oblast, after the liberation, 16 people died from explosive devices, and another 20 were injured.

Russian attacks

On the night of March 22, Russia made another massive attack on the territory of Ukraine with Shahed-136 drones. According to preliminary information, the Armed Forces destroyed 16 drones out of 21 launched by the Russians.

Overall, the Russian forces attacked 11 Oblasts of Ukraine on March 21. As a result, there are damages and civilian casualties.

  • In Rzhyshchiv, Kyiv Oblast, on the night of March 22, due to an enemy drone attack, two floors of two five-story dormitories and the three-story educational building of a professional lyceum were partially destroyed and caught fire. As a result of the attack, seven people died, including the ambulance driver who came to the call; 8 people, including a child, were hospitalized, 3 people are still missing and are possibly under the rubble.
  • Chernihiv and Sumy Oblasts in the north of Ukraine were attacked with artillery and UAVs. No victims were reported.
  • An infrastructure facility was damaged in Zhytomyr Oblast as a result of the night drone attack leading to the interruption of electricity supplies in the Oblast.
  • The Nikopol district of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast came under Russian fire during the day and at night. Damages to private houses and power lines are reported.
  • At least 20 towns and villages came under Russian fire in Zaporizhzhia Oblast. 14 reports of damaged property were filed.
  • In Donetsk Oblast, the enemy carried out 44 shellings during the day. 18 residential buildings (including four multi-apartment buildings), two garages, a school, and the Chasiv Yar Refractory Plant building were damaged. Four people died, and five were injured.
  • Russia launched a rocket attack with three X-59 missiles on Odesa Oblast yesterday evening. One rocket hit the three-story building of the monastery of the Moscow Patriarchate, injuring four people.
  • In Kherson Oblast, Russian troops massively shell the Beryslav and Kherson districts. Over the past day, the enemy carried out 47 shellings, firing 248 shells from heavy artillery and “Grad” MRLS. Two people were injured in the city of Kerson when Russian shells hit a residential area.

Around noon on March 22, the Russian forces attacked the city of Zaporizhzhia. Two missiles hit a multistory residential building. Zaporizhzhia OMA stressed that the building is located in a residential part of the city with no military objects nearby. There was no air raid alarm since likely a Tornado-S long-distance jet artillery was used.

Occupied territories

According to the legally elected Melitopol mayor Ivan Fedorov, Russian occupying forces suffered significant losses in Zaporizhzhia Oblasts due to targeted Ukrainian strikes and have to open new hospitals and bring doctors from Russia. Two more hospitals were opened recently, and 250 doctors and nurses were brought.

In Luhansk Oblast, the occupying authorities want to involve the entire local male population of conscription age (first of all, those who have received citizenship of the Russian Federation and

the so-called LNR) to participate in the large-scale mobilization conducted by Russia. In order to motivate potential conscripts to serve in the Russian army, they are promised to get the housing of Ukrainian citizens who were forced to leave the temporarily occupied territory, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said.

Operational situation General conclusion:
  • The main efforts of the Russian military are concentrated on offensive actions in the Kupyansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Shakhtarsk directions;
  • During the week, the number of Russian attacks in Bakhmut halved;
  • The intensification of Russian operations in the Avdiivka area has led to significant losses and was a failed attempt to draw Ukrainian forces away from other areas of the front;
  • The capture of Avdiivka will not significantly change the operational situation on the outskirts of the city of Donetsk because the positions of the Ukrainian Joint Forces in Karlivka and Kurakhove are well-prepared like in Avdiivka.
  • Units of the Ukrainian Defense Forces repelled over 114 Russian attacks in different directions. Bakhmut remains the epicenter of hostilities;
  • The Russian forces attacked unsuccessfully in the direction of Kreminna, Dibrova, Bilohorivka, Vesele of Luhansk Oblast; Orikhovo-Vasylivka, Hryhorivka, Bohdanivka, Ivanivske, Bakhmut, Klishchiivka, Mayorsk, Novobakhmutivka, Novokalynove, Krasnohorivka, Stepove, Berdychi, Avdiivka, Severne, Vodyane, Pervomaiske, Maryinka and Pobyeda of Donetsk Oblast.
  • The Russian military advanced in the area of Terny. Positional battles continue to the west of Ploschanka and near Zhuravka stream. Russian troops tried to break through the Ukrainian positions in Novoselivske and carried out an offensive on Yampolivka, Terny, Nevske and Makiivka. On the Kupyansk and Lyman directions, the enemy intensively used Soviet-era artillery and tanks.
  • Russian units in the Bakhmut area made some progress along the M03 highway, but all their attacks in the direction of the T0504 and T0506 highways were repulsed.
  • The enemy consolidated control over Krasnohorivka and broke through the first position of the Joint Forces near it.
  • The enemy has been knocked out of Stepove; the village is under the control of the Ukrainian Joint Forces. Russian attacks in the Vodyane and Torske areas were repulsed. The Russian forces tried to advance to Orlyivka and north of Vodyane. The 1st separate motorized rifle brigade of the 1st army corps suffered heavy losses and is conducting an assault in the Avdiyivka area without artillery support.

Change in enemy disposition: Not noted.

Escalation indicators:
  • The use of Tu-22M3 bombers by the Russian forces in the Avdiyivka direction;
  • In the coming weeks, the majority of Wagner PMC mercenaries, recruited from among prisoners, will have their six-month contracts expire.
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;
  • If the Joint Forces fail to stop the further advance of the Russian Armed Forces in the western direction, or if they do not push them to the eastern side of Krasnohorivka, the position of their units in the Avdiivka area may become critical.
Azov-Black Sea Maritime Operational Area:
  • The number of Russian ships at sea has decreased over the past day due to weather conditions. 13 ships and vessels of the Russian Federation patrol the Black Sea far off the coast of Crimea. Among them are two corvettes, “Vyshnyi Volochyok” and “Grayvoron” (“Buyan-M” type), which are carriers of “Kalibr” missiles (up to 16 missiles on board). They went out to sea from Feodosia on March 21.
  • The probability of a missile strike is high; the Russian Federation regularly uses tactical aviation based in Crimea for this purpose. Thus, on the evening of March 21, the Russian Federation launched another missile attack on Odesa. 4 Su-35 aircraft (from the Saki air base) launched 4 Kh-59 missiles (the missile launch range is 40-250 km depending on the modification). Two missiles were shot down by air defense of the Armed Forces of Ukraine over the sea.
  • Russian aviation continues to fly from the Crimean airfields of Belbek, Saky, Dzhankoy and Hvardiyske over the northwestern part of the Black Sea. A total of 24 combat sorties were made over the past day.
  • At Dzhankoy and Belbek airfields, respectively, two and one flights of military transport aircraft of the Russian Air Force landed to deliver personnel. Control of the air situation and the enemy’s operational-tactical aviation over the waters of the Sea of Azov was carried out by the A-50U AEW&C aircraft.
  • On the morning of March 22, warships of the Russian Federation were attacked by naval drones in the bay of Sevastopol. A series of explosions were reported in the city center. The occupying authorities of Sevastopol report the interception of three naval drones.
  • It has been confirmed that as a result of drone strikes on March 20, the Dzhankoy junction railway station was disabled. This will significantly complicate the transfer of troops and equipment to the occupied south of Ukraine and Crimea.
Russian operational losses from 24.02.22 to 22.03.23

Personnel – almost 167,490 people (+920);

Tanks – 3,557 (+5);

Armored combat vehicles – 6,887 (+8);

Artillery systems – 2,589 (+3)

Multiple rocket launchers (MLRS) – 509 (+2); Anti-aircraft warfare systems – 272 (+2); Vehicles and fuel tanks – 5,434 (+6);

Aircraft – 305 (0);

Helicopters – 290 (0);

UAV operational and tactical level – 2,183 (+16); Intercepted cruise missiles – 909 (+2);

Boats/ships – 18 (0).

Ukraine, general news

The President of Ukraine will join via video conference the meeting of the European Council, which will take place on March 23-24 in Brussels.

President Zelensky made a working trip to Donetsk Oblast. He visited a military hospital where he met and decorated defenders of Bakhmut. He also talked to the military and civilians at a coffee shop. He also visited and decorated soldiers in a hospital in Kharkiv Oblast and held a coordination meeting with local authorities regarding the security situation in the Oblast.

Six brigades of the “Offensive Guard” are being formed within the Ukrainian National Guard based on military units with certain combat experience, said the commander of the National Guard of Ukraine, Lieutenant General Yuriy Lebid. They are formed according to NATO standards and compatible with partner countries’ units. Special attention is paid to their training; experience of the nine years of the war went into their structure, Lebid stressed.

NSDC Secretary Oleksiy Danilov published an article stating that the Russian Federation is running the largest information campaign targeted at the EU and the US meant to make them lose faith in the possibility of Ukraine’s victory. As a result, the Kremlin expects the West to stop helping Ukraine and pressure it into negotiating with the Russian Federation.

International diplomatic aspect
  • Eighty-two percent of Ukrainians would support joining NATO if a referendum were held today, according to an International Republican Institute poll. That is an increase of ten percentage points from a survey in June 2022 and of 23 percentage points from April 2022. Ninety-seven percent believe in Ukraine’s victory (82% – definitely, 15% – likely), while only two percent don’t. The majority of Ukrainians (74%) believe Ukraine will restore its internationally recognized borders. Nine percent think that Ukraine will retake territories lost after February 24, 2022, and eight percent think that Ukraine will liberate Eastern territories but not Crimea. The U.S. and Poland are leading the list of countries that provided the most support to Ukraine (71%), with the U.K. (48%), Germany (17%), and Lithuania (7%) closing the top five ranking. Forty-nine percent believe that neither Taiwan nor China provided support to Ukraine, while eleven percent are sure Taiwan aided Ukraine, and four percent that China did that too. Ninety-eight percent approve of the activities of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, ninety-one percent of those of President Volodymyr Zelensky.
  • Ukraine and the IMF have agreed on a four-year $15.6 billion loan package. The program is aimed at “helping to mobilize financing from Ukraine’s international partners, as well as to maintain macro-financial stability and ensure the path to post-war reconstruction after Ukrainian victory in the war against the aggressor,” the Finance Ministry stated.
  • The Prince of Wales made a surprise visit to the military base in Rzeszów to meet British and Polish troops and praise their “cooperation in support of the people of Ukraine and their freedom.” “Our nations have strong ties. Through our cooperation in support of the people of Ukraine and their freedom, which are also our freedoms and yours, these ties are further strengthened,” Prince William said. The royal family has been vocal in supporting Ukraine.
Russia, relevant news

Russian vessel Swem was detained in Finland with a cargo of fertilizers allegedly owned by a person on the sanctions list. This is the first time that EU sanctions prevented the cargo from moving in the Finnish port, “Kommersant“ reports with reference to the Finnish Yle TV and radio broadcasting portal.

The Central Bank of the Russian Federation resumed the publication of the structure of international reserves, which was suspended after financial sanctions were introduced against Russia. The share of gold in reserves increased over the year (as of March 1, 2023) to 23.6%, and the share of foreign currency decreased to 71.5%.

In an attempt to play into the fears of western politicians, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov called London’s decision to supply Kyiv with depleted uranium ammunition a step towards a significant escalation. In a similar vein, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Ryabkov said that the United States is directly involved in the conflict in Ukraine, and State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin commented on the UK’s decision to transfer depleted uranium ammunition to Ukraine. In his opinion, this will lead to “a tragedy on a global scale”, which will primarily affect the countries of Europe.

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