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CDS Daily brief (25.03.23) | CDS comments on key events

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Snapshot of the day:

General, humanitarian:

  • Russia keeps attacking Ukrainian residential areas. 16 dead and 59 injured were reported from the last day’s attacks;
  • Russia invests 18 billion rubles into the militarization of the Ukrainian youth in the occupied territories;
  • Russian collaborators in Melitopol, Zaporizhzhia Oblast, receive getaway instructions in case of a Ukrainian counteroffensive;
  • Ukrainian Defense Ministry called on journalists and bloggers not to discuss the future counteroffensive publicly before its results are known;


  • The main efforts of the Russian military are concentrated on offensive actions in the Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, Maryinka and Shakhtarsk directions;
  • The Russian command sees the Kupyansk and Avdiivka directions as the most promising for developing its offensive.

Possible operation situation developments:

  • The Russian military is preparing for active offensive actions in the Kupyansk direction;
  • The Russian forces intensified their efforts in the Avdiivka direction and would try to surround Avdiivka.


  • Putin’s nuclear escalation with the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus should be met with diplomatic and, even more importantly, military actions.
  • PRC-Russia alignment is vastly exaggerated, but Beijing will face the consequences for supporting Moscow militarily. While Chinese propaganda spins its chairman’s “peace” plan and America’s “warmongering,” Volodymyr Zelensky indicated there hadn’t been a talk with Xi Jinping.
  • Turkey’s President underlined “the importance Turkey attaches to the immediate cessation of the Russia-Ukraine conflict through negotiations” in his phone conversation with the Russian President. The Kremlin didn’t mention this in the readout.
  • Putin’s speaker of the Parliament proposed “prohibiting any activity of the ICC.” The U.S. charged a Russian spy who tried to infiltrate the ICC.
Humanitarian aspect:

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that about 10,000 civilians “are on the brink of survival” in and around Bakhmut.

According to the World Bank, Russia has already destroyed over 2.5 billion dollars’ worth of medical facilities in Ukraine. At least 978 medical facilities were destroyed or damaged by rockets and projectiles. Also, 650 ambulances and at least 596 pharmacies were damaged or destroyed.

Russian attacks

Over the past day, Russian troops shelled the territory of eight regions of Ukraine. According to preliminary information, the Military Media Centre reported that 16 people died, and 59 were injured. The attacks included:

  • The Russian troops shelled Kherson Oblast 67 times over the past day, firing a total of 301 shells from heavy artillery and “Grad” MRLS. Two people died, and six were injured.
  • In Kharkiv Oblast, the border areas of the Kharkiv, Kupyansk, Chuhuyiv and Izyum districts were attacked by Russian troops, and civilian buildings were destroyed. An infrastructure object was destroyed in Chuhuyiv District.
  • Two people were killed in Bakhmut and Orlyivka of Donetsk Oblast, and 3 were injured. At night, the Russian invaders hit the center of Kramatorsk and the industrial zone with rockets. An educational institution and an enterprise were damaged;

On March 25, Russian forces attacked a humanitarian aid point in Kherson Oblast, injuring two civilians.

Occupied territories

18 billion rubles have been allocated from the budget of the Russian Federation to support “Yunarmiya”[Young Army] and “Yug Molodoy” Russian youth military-patriotic organizations. Today, they gather “militia” from children to “help during the defense” of the temporarily occupied territories of Zaporizhzhia Oblast. Through these organizations, the Russian occupation authorities promote “greater Russia” and the need to serve it, legally elected mayor of Melitopol Ivan Fedorov said.

Operational situation General conclusion:
  • The main efforts of the Russian military are concentrated on offensive actions in the Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, Maryinka and Shakhtarsk directions;
  • The Russian command sees the Kupyansk and Avdiivka directions as the most promising for developing its offensive.
  • Units of the Ukrainian Defense Forces repelled over 65 Russian attacks in different directions;
  • The Russian forces attacked unsuccessfully in the direction of Serebryansk Forestry and near the following towns and villages: Hryanykivka, Synkivka, Dibrova, Bilohorivka, Spirne of Luhansk Oblast; they continued the assault on the city of Bakhmut, attacked in the areas of Orikhovo-Vasylivka, Bohdanivka, Ivanivka, Stupochky, Keramik, Stepove, Avdiivka, Severne, Maryinka, Novomykhailivka, and Vuhledar of Donetsk Oblast;
  • The Russian forces carried out a number of unsuccessful attacks near Hryanykivka, Bilohorivka and Serebryansk forestry; positional battles continued in the Kupyansk area;
  • 32 combat clashes took place in the Bakhmut area. The Russian forces advanced to the T0504 Kostyantynivka – Chasiv Yar – Bakhmut highway south of Ivanivske, west of Zaliznyanske and within the boundaries of the northernmost Bakhmut;
  • The Ukrainian Joint Forces recaptured the section of the E40 Bakhmut-Slovyansk highway north of Bakhmut and repelled attacks on Bakhmut itself, northwest of Bakhmut in the area of Orikhove-Vasylivka, Bohdanivka, near Ivanivske and near Stupochky and Predtechne;
  • Units of the enemy 132nd separate motorized rifle brigade of the 1st army corps advanced west from Novobakhmutivka towards Novokalynove, other troops of the corps, in particular, the 5th separate motorized rifle brigade with the support of the 14th “Kalmius” artillery brigade advance to Avdiivka itself and got close to semi-encircling the town.

Change in enemy disposition: no information available

Escalation indicators: not indicated.

Possible operation situation developments:
  • The Russian military is preparing for active offensive actions in the Kupyansk direction;
  • The Russian forces intensified their efforts in the Avdiivka direction and would try to surround Avdiivka.
Azov-Black Sea Maritime Operational Area:
  • The number of Russian ships at sea is 10. They patrol the Black Sea far off the coast of Crimea. Among them, two project 636.3 submarines are carriers of Kalibr missiles (up to 8 missiles on board) and patrol in the sea areas in firing positions. Corvettes “Vyshny Volochyok” and “Grayvoron” (type “Buyan-M”) returned to the base point.
  • One patrol ship is in the Sea of Azov.
  • 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 26 combat sorties were made over the past day. 8 aircraft and one helicopter were involved in the control of the surface and air situation in the northwestern part of the Black Sea water area (3 Su-27/30 aircraft from Belbek airfield, 2 Su30 SM and two Su-24M aircraft, one MiG-29K from Saki airfield, one Ka-31R helicopter from Kacha airfield).
  • Control of the air situation and operational-tactical aviation over the waters of the Sea of Azov was carried out by the A-50U and Il-22 AEW&C aircraft. Il-22 PP aircraft were used to set up jamming over the Sea of Azov.
  • During the last week, practically every evening, Su-35S multi-purpose fighters launched Kh-59 cruise missiles from the direction of the Black Sea in the direction of Odesa Oblast. The missiles hit coastal facilities and sea targets. Most of the missiles were intercepted by the Air Defense Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The activity of fighter aircraft of air defense forces was observed over Sevastopol.
  • The Prime Minister of Russia, Mykhailo Mishustin, said that the automobile part of the bridge to Crimea was restored entirely in an unprecedentedly short time – in 4.5 months.

In addition, according to him, the number of investors in Crimea increased in 2022, and the volume of investments amounted to about 300 billion rubles.

The grain initiative
  • On March 25, the bulk carrier Negmar Cicek left the port of Chornomorsk with 30,000 tons of wheat on board. The ship is heading to Yemen as part of the Grain from Ukraine initiative. This will be a humanitarian cargo: grain for Yemen was purchased by the USA, France and Spain, noted the Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine Oleksandr Kubrakov.
  • Representatives of the partner countries of the humanitarian program, the ambassadors of the United States of America, Spain and France inspected the loading of the bulk carrier. According to the US Ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget Brink, Russia continues to do everything possible to hinder the “grain initiative”. “Currently, about 100 ships are waiting for inspection in the Bosporus strait, and despite the artificial restrictions used by Russia, we can send 2-3 ships a day, although, in peacetime, this number reached 45. The only reason for the food crisis in the world is Russian aggression, and if it stops, the crisis will be resolved very quickly.” In turn, the Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine, Oleksandr Kubrakov, believes that expanding the “Grain initiative” will depend on our military successes. ” A lot depends on our success on the battlefield. I would like to note that the grain initiative became possible after Snake Island’s liberation. Russia will do everything possible to obstruct the work of the “grain initiative”, but we understand that we are dealing with a terrorist state that uses even such humanitarian issues, in fact, takes millions of citizens of African countries hostage, in order to remove sanctions and get additional opportunities to continue the war.”
  • The Sultanate of Oman offered Ukraine to create a grain or grain-food hub on its territory for uninterrupted grain supplies to the countries of the Horn of Africa. The Omani side assured that in the event of its creation, Ukraine could be absolutely sure about regular grain supplies to the countries of the Horn of Africa. If the project is implemented, Ukraine can gain access to one of the most modern logistics hubs, which functions in the Indian Ocean. Also, Oman has excellent political relations with such countries as Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, Rwanda, and Ethiopia.
  • In addition, Egypt also expressed interest in discussing the possibility of creating a similar logistics center on its territory.
Russian operational losses from 24.02.22 to 25.03.23

Personnel – almost 169,890 people (+720);

Tanks – 3,680 (+6);

Armored combat vehicles – 6,932 (+11);

Artillery systems – 2623 (+7)

Multiple rocket launchers (MLRS) – 520 (+9); Anti-aircraft warfare systems – 276 (0); Vehicles and fuel tanks – 5,483 (+19); Aircraft – 305 (0);

Helicopters – 291 (1);

UAV operational and tactical level – 2,214 (+6);

Intercepted cruise missiles – 911 (0);

Boats/ships – 18 (0).

Ukraine, general news

On the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption platform, a nationwide online vote was held for candidates for the Public Anti-Corruption Council under the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine. 41,684 people took part in it. Ukrainians selected 29 candidates. After processing the data, the commission will publish a list of 15 who received the most votes and will be part of the council.

MOD called on journalists and bloggers not to discuss the counteroffensive publicly. “We have one strategic plan – to liberate all our territories. And the details are already a military secret,” Deputy Minister of Defense Hanna Malyar said. Three persons in the state have the right to publish Strategic military plans: the Supreme Commander (President), the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, the Minister of Defense, and the rest can only cite them.

International diplomatic aspect

In a move of nuclear escalation, Vladimir Putin announced his plans to deploy tactical nuclear weapons on Belarusian territory. “Even out of the context of these events, this statement [of the

U.K. shipment to Ukraine of armor-piercing rounds containing depleted uranium], Alexander Grigorievich Lukashenko [the so-called President of Belarus] has long raised the question of deploying Russian tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus. And we agreed [with Belarus] that we will do the same. Without violating, I want to emphasize our international obligations on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons,” Vladimir Putin stated. After the illegal seizure of power in 2020, Alexander Lukashenko held an illegal referendum (February 2022) that ditched the country’s non-nuclear status. That year, Putin announced plans to modernize Belarusian aircraft to make them nuclear-capable and train Belarusian pilots to operate those dual-capable aircraft. In February 2023, the Belarusian military announced that they started autonomously operating the Iskander-M dual-capable missile systems (“SS-26 Stone”). One of the justifications for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014 and 2022 was alleged U.S. plans to deploy nuclear missiles to Europe, particularly Ukraine. Those allegations have been used to justify Russia’s aggressive actions in Ukraine and as a nuclear blackmail of the West. Though the Kaliningrad exclave allows Moscow to permanently threaten Europe with nuclear strikes, a deployment to Belarus might solve a logistical problem that is worsening with Finland and Sweden’s membership in NATO, thus turning the Baltic Sea into a NATO lake. The move will pose an additional threat to Poland and the Baltic states and allow Putin to claim a nuclear umbrella over Belarus, thus seeing any actions concerning Belarus as a nuclear trigger. It also means harsh repression of any attempt by the Belarusian people to change its leadership, either via protests or elections. The Russian escalations should be met not only with the U.N. Security Council’s extraordinary meeting and political condemnations but a response in nuclear posture and possible deployment of assets to the most exposed countries. It should also abandon a self- restriction policy on ATACMS, F-16, and other systems for Ukraine. While diplomacy should be given a try, with slim chances of success, a second option should be considered for not allowing Russia to deploy nuclear arms. Belarus is an aggressor state (according to the U.N. General

Assembly’s Resolution 3314 (XXIX) of 1974 on the Definition of Aggression). The Belarusian territory has been used for the land invasion, logistical support to the Russian war efforts, a training ground, and, most importantly, a launching place for Russian missiles and Iran-made drones. Until being hit, a Beriev A-50 airborne early warning and control aircraft used for targeting Ukraine was deployed in Belarus. So, it gives Ukraine a legal and moral right to target any installations thought to host nuclear weapons or any infrastructure needed to transfer missile systems to their storage facilities. Failure to deny Russia’s proliferation of nuclear weapons would have dire consequences for the globe.

The POTUS said that the PRC – Russia alignment has been “vastly exaggerated,” and Beijing hasn’t yet made up its mind about increasing its military support for Russia. “Doesn’t mean they won’t, but they haven’t yet. And if anything’s happened, the West has coalesced significantly more,” Joe Biden said. While Chinese propaganda spins its chairman’s “peace” plan and America’s “warmongering,” Volodymyr Zelensky indicated there hadn’t been a talk with Xi Jinping. “We see that they [Americans] are literally maniacally determined not to allow the Ukrainians to even think about the hypothetical possibility of entering the peaceful settlement track,” Dmitriy Peskov commented on possible China’s role as a peace broker. “I did not receive an offer from China to mediate. I did not receive an offer to meet. I also gave a direct signal through diplomatic channels that I want to talk to the Chinese leader,” Ukraine’s President said.

In a telephone conversation with Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan underlined “the importance Türkiye attaches to the immediate cessation of the Russia-Ukraine conflict through negotiations,” the Presidential Communications Directorate stated. However, the Kremlin’s readout doesn’t mention such a line at all. Instead, it mentions Ukraine in the context of Erdoğan’s “positive assessment of Russia’s consent to extend the Istanbul agreements [the Black Sea Grain Initiative] for 60 days.” In a famous Russian style, Russians deny the obvious (legally binding 120-day term in the agreement) while insisting on the imagined package character of the agreements – “an understanding was expressed of the principled intention of the Russian side to achieve the full implementation of the second part of the mentioned “package” agreements – to remove barriers to agricultural products from Russia.”

“It is necessary to work out amendments to legislation prohibiting any activity of the ICC on the territory of our country,” Vyacheslav Volodin, Putin’s pocket speaker of the Parliament, wrote in a Telegram post (a funny fact is that speaker’s surname means a one that belongs to Volodya, which is an informal form of Putin’s first name). “Knowing of your support for the important cause of accountability in Ukraine, we urge you to move forward expeditiously with support to the ICC’s work so that Putin and others around him know in no uncertain terms that accountability and justice for their crimes are forthcoming,” a bipartisan group of U.S. senators called on the President. The U.S. Department of Justice charged Sergey Cherkasov, 37, a Russian national who “operated as an “Illegal” agent for a Russian Intelligence Service,” for “acting as an agent of a foreign power, visa fraud, bank fraud, wire fraud, and other charges stemming from his illegal activities in the United States.” The Russian undercover spy “attempted to obtain employment at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, in April 2022.”

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