Центр оборонних стратегій

Russia’s war on Ukraine. 21.03.2024

In the operational zone of the Ukrainian Operational-Strategic Group of Forces (OSG) “Khortytsia”, the Ukrainian Defense Forces repelled 17 Russian attacks in the areas of Bilohorivka, Zolotarivka, Yampolivka, Terny, Rozdolivka, Vesele, where the enemy, supported by the aviation, tried to breach Ukrainian defenses. On the Bakhmut direction, Ukrainian Defense Forces repelled 5 Russian attacks in the areas east of Bohdanivka, Ivanivske and Klishchiivka.

In the “Tavriya” OSG operational zone on the Avdiivka direction, Ukrainian Defense Forces repelled 14 enemy attacks in the area of Berdychi, Semenivka, Tonenke, Pervomaiske, Netaylove and Nevelske. On the Novopavlivka direction, the Ukrainian Defense Forces continued holding back the enemy in the areas of Krasnohorivka, Heorhiivka, Novomykhailivka, Vodyane, and Urozhaine, where the adversary supported by aviation attempted to breach Ukrainian troops’ defenses 24 times. On the Orikhiv direction, the enemy with air support attacked the positions of the Ukrainian Defense Forces 7 times in the areas of Staromayorske and Robotyne.

In the operational zone of the “Odesa” OSG on the Kherson direction, the enemy remains determined to dislodge the units of the Ukrainian Defense Forces from the bridgeheads on the left bank of the Dnipro and made 3 unsuccessful assaults.

General conclusion:

  • The enemy controls over 98% of Luhansk Oblast, but only about 70% of Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson Oblasts.
  • Russian units lack EW capabilities along the entire front line in Zaporizhzhya Oblast.
  • The enemy command, having faced setbacks with conventional tactics involving massed assaults supported by aviation and artillery, is now trying to encircle the Toretsk area using small assault groups. This encirclement operation is being conducted by the “Zapad (West)” Operational Grouping attacking from the Bakhmut direction towards Bakhmut – Kostiantynivka – Pokrovsk and the “Tsentr (Center)” Operational Grouping attacking from the Avdiivka direction towards Avdiivka – Novopavlivka – Pokrovsk.
  • As a result of a UAV strike by the Ukrainian Defense Forces on a storage facility for spare parts of special-purpose aviation equipment within military unit 06987 (Engels-2, Saratov Oblast, Russia), the specialized storage workshop was completely destroyed.
  • The 171st Air Assault Battalion of the 7th Air Assault Division of the Russian Airborne Forces (permanently based in Feodosia, Autonomous Republic of Crimea) is conducting filtration measures on the left bank of Kherson Oblast, involving shooting the civilian population. Such incidents have been documented in Kokhany – 3 individuals, Kardashynka – 1 individual, Hola Prystan – 1 individual.

Change in the line of contact (LoC):  

  • There were 70 combat engagements on various fronts.
  • On the Kupyansk direction, Russian troops have successfully ousted the contingent of Russian volunteers from Kozinka, Belgorod Oblast, and are now conducting operations to secure the city. Meanwhile, in the fighting around Grayvoron, Belgorod Oblast, a group of five special operations soldiers from Rosgvardia has gone missing under mysterious circumstances. The primary hypothesis under investigation is that the group defected to the Ukrainian side.
  • Positional battles continued near Synkivka.
  • On the Lyman direction, “Khortytsia” OSG forces repelled a massed enemy assault on the Lyman direction in the vicinity of Terny.
  • Russian forces have advanced north of Zolotarivka.
  • Positional battles were ongoing near Bilohorivka.
  • On the Bakhmut direction, positional battles were ongoing in the areas of Rozdolivka, Vesele, Spirne, Bohdanivka, Ivanivske, Predtechyne, Klishchiivka, and Bila Hora.
  • Russian forces unsuccessfully attacked near Oleksandropil, attempting to break through to Kostiantynivka from the southwest along the H20 Donetsk – Kostiantynivka highway and push the line of contact as far away as possible from the Horlivka – Donetsk line.
  • On the Avdiivka direction, positional battles continued near Berdychi, Semenivka, Orlivka, Tonenke, Pervomaiske, Netaylove, and Nevelske.
  • Enemy units are consolidating in Orlivka and Tonenke. Enemy forces have advanced near Pervomaiske and Tonenke, attempting to reach a new “Tavriya” OSG defensive line Berdychi – Orlivka – Umanske – Yasnobrodivka. Aerial bombardment is widely employed.
  • On the Novopavlivka direction, Russian forces have advanced north of the dam in Heorhiivka and north of Novomykhailivka. Positional battles were ongoing in the areas of Krasnohorivka, Heorhiivka, and Novomykhailivka. Counterattacks by the  “Tavriya” OSG significantly reduced the presence of Russian forces in Krasnohorivka, but the enemy maintains positions on the southern outskirts of the village.
  • Berdyansk direction: Russian forces unsuccessfully attacked near Vodyane, Staromayorske, and Urozhaine.
  • Orikhiv direction: positional battles continued near Robotyne and northwest of Verbove.
  • On the Kherson direction, positional battles continued on the eastern bank of Kherson Oblast, including near Krynky. “Odesa” OSG units maintain their positions in the cottage areas near the Antonivskyi Bridge (north of Oleshky).
  • In the Black Sea-Azov naval operational area, the enemy naval group on combat duty consisted of:
    • Mediterranean Sea: 2 ships, including 1 Cruise Missile Carrier. The total salvo is 8 “Kalibr” cruise missiles.
  • In the Baltic Sea, the Russian trawler “Captain Lobanov” was detonated, resulting in the loss of the adversary’s latest experimental EW complex designed to jam GPS signals. The trials of the EW system were conducted on a civilian vessel as part of operational camouflage measures. Two military personnel and a civilian (a member of the trawler’s crew) were killed in the incident.

Changes in the enemy disposition:

  • The Russian military command has declared the finalization of the establishment of the Dnipro River Flotilla, incorporating a brigade of boats. Additionally, they have outlined plans to form two more combined-arms armies, along with 14 divisions and 16 brigades by the end of the year.
  • In Karelia, the 44th Army Corps (72nd Motorized Rifle Division, 128th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade, 70th Missile Brigade, 9th Artillery Brigade, Separate Engineer-Sapper Regiment, Separate Command Battalion, Separate Reconnaissance Battalion) continue to be formed in the areas of Petrozavodsk, Sortavala, and Luga.
  • The 57th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade of the 5th Army is advancing north of Vuhledar. The 14th Separate SOF Brigade is operating near Pavlivka. The 70th Motorized Rifle Regiment of the 42nd Motorized Rifle Division of the 58th Army continues its operations near Robotyne. A unit of the 503rd Motorized Rifle Regiment of the 19th Motorized Rifle Division of the 58th Army, known as “Russian Hawks,” is engaged in combat actions on the Zaporizhzhia direction.

Escalation indicators:

  • Russian forces have advanced north of the dam in Hеоrhiivka and north of Novomykhailivka.

Possible operation situation developments:

  • The likely operational-strategic objectives of the Russian troop grouping in the theater of military operations could include the seizure of the Luhansk, Donetsk, and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts within their administrative borders.
  • The adversary’s command has to regroup its forces on the Kupyansk direction, increase efforts on the Lyman direction, particularly in the areas of Terny and Yampolivka, and unblock the actions of the “Yug (South)” operational grouping, currently hindered from initiating an offensive towards Siversk from the south and the east.
  • Considering the Ukrainian Defense Forces’ control over the final agglomeration (Slovyansk-Kramatorsk) in Donetsk Oblast, the strategic importance of the “Zapad (West)” operational grouping in the adversary’s offensive campaign in 2024 is notably heightened.
  • The adversary’s command will commit the 348th Motorized Rifle Regiment of the 90th Tank Division in the direction of Berdychi or Novobakhmutivka.
  • The enemy command will attempt to breach the defense of the Ukrainian “Tavriya” OSG on the Pokrovsk direction and capture Toretsk.
  • The command of the 58th Army is poised to imminently deploy the 136th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade into the operation northwest of Robotyne, aiming to bypass this defensive node of the Ukrainian OSG “Tavria” from the north and cut off the Robotyne-Novodanylivka road.

Russian operational losses from 24.02.22 to 21.03.24 

Personnel – almost 433,840  people (+750);

Tanks – 6,832 (+4);

Armored combat vehicles – 13,074 (+16);

Artillery systems – 10,740 (+26);

Multiple rocket launchers (MLRS) – 1,018 (+1);

Anti-aircraft warfare systems – 721 (0);

Vehicles and fuel tanks – 14,242 (+44);

Aircraft – 347 (0);

Helicopters – 325 (0);

UAV operational and tactical level – 8,365 (+10);

Intercepted cruise missiles – 1,922 (0);

Boats/ships – 27 (0).


  • According to information provided by the Situation Center of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, Russian troops shelled 10 regions of Ukraine over the past day. A total of 101 towns and villages and 146 infrastructure objects were attacked with various types of weapons. The number of casualties is being updated/clarified.
  • During the night of March 21st, the Russian forces launched 2 ballistic missiles, “Iskander-M”/”Kinjal”, and 29 cruise missiles towards Kyiv. All of them were successfully shot down.
  • As a result of the March 21st morning missile strike on Kyiv, 13 people were injured, with 4 individuals hospitalized. Fortunately, there were no fatalities. Fires and debris from the rockets were recorded in three districts of the city, with the debris damaging a kindergarten, a residential building, and a transformer substation.
  • In the morning of March 21st, the armed forces of the Russian Federation launched missile attacks on the territory of Kyiv Oblast. Four people were injured, two of whom sustained shrapnel wounds to their limbs and face, while one person was hospitalized.
  • During the daytime of March 21, Russian military forces targeted Mykolaiv with ballistic missiles, resulting in the death of one woman and injuring six others.
  • Another family with a 12-year-old child from the temporarily occupied territory of Kherson Oblast has been successfully repatriated to the territory under Ukraine’s control. In total, since the beginning of 2024, 41 children from Kherson Oblast have been successfully returned.
  • Russian propaganda and indoctrination of children are on the rise in schools located in the temporarily occupied territories. Specifically, in the areas under temporary occupation in Zaporizhzhya Oblast, after the illegal “elections” of the Russian Federation’s president, every school will raise the Russian tricolor flag and sing the Russian anthem.

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