Issue 275, 9 March 2023

Situational report 09MAR2023

Key takeaways:

  • The intensity of Russian attacks remained very high in the Donetsk Oblast, but this did not translate into any significant operational gains; Tactically, Russians are confirmed to have captured Dubovo-Vasylivka;
  • No changes occurred in the Donetsk Oblast;
  • Ukrainian air defences shot down 40 per cent of missiles fired on Ukraine on Thursday;
  • No frontline changes were reported in the Kharkiv Oblast;
  • The same pertains to the Luhansk Oblast, where Russian attacks reportedly include company-level armoured/mechanised formations;
  • The situation in the Kherson and Zaporizhihia Oblast remained unchanged; A pro-Russian source stated that Ukrainians assembled 40,000 troops in the Zaporizhihia region;
  • The Belarusian 6th Mechanised Brigade removed trucks from long-term storage;


Situation near Bakhmut

General outlook

During the night of 08/09MAR, the Russian Federation launched yet another massive missile attack on the critical infrastructure of Ukraine. Altogether, according to the Ukrainian General Staff, Moscow launched 84 missiles, of which 34 were destroyed (It should be noted that on Friday, the Ukrainian General Staff (UGS) stated that 95 missiles were fired on Thursday, but it is possible that additional nine were that were shot did not take part in the missile attack at night). Another eight failed to reach their targets, reportedly due to organised countermeasures. In addition, eight Shahed-136-type UAVs were fired, and four were shot down from this number.

Consequently, Ukrainian air defences achieved a 40% success rate during this attack. It is the lowest rate since 17NOV22. The decrease in the effectiveness of Ukrainian air defences could be explained by the use of six Kh-47 Kinzhal hypersonic air-to-surface missiles, 13(?) 5V55(?) surface-to-air missiles (missiles fired from S-300 air defence systems in a land-attack mode). Everything with a ballistic missile trajectory is a big problem for Ukrainian air defences, an assessment we also confirmed in Kyiv last week.

Ukraine’s commander-in-chief, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, stated that Ukrainians destroyed 34 out of 54 cruise missiles (63%), all eight of the air-launched guided missiles (100%), and four drones (50%).

We also continue to see Russians conduct such strikes approximately every fortnight. The pace of this campaign is too slow and shallow (too few targets engaged) to fully degrade the Ukrainian power grid.

Ukrainians claimed to have pushed back 102 Russian ground attacks on Thursday.

Russians also carried artillery strikes on towns and villages near the state border. Specifically, they shelled Yeline in the Chernihiv Oblast, Atynske in the Sumy Oblast and Kozacha Lopan, Strilecha, Krasne, Vovchansk, and Bolohivka in the Kharkiv Oblast.

Regarding battlefield strikes, on Wednesday, Russian artillery struck Dvorichna, Hryanykivka, Zapadne, Kyslivka and Berestove in the Kharkiv Oblast and Nevske, Chervonopopivka in the Luhansk Oblast. In Donetsk Oblast, Russians shelled Rozdolivka, Vasyukivka, Minkivka, Dubovo-Vasylivka, Bohdanivka, Bakhmut, Kurdyumivka, Mayorsk, Avdiivka, Vodyane and Heorhiivka, Nevelske, Krasnohorivka, Pobieda, Vuhledar, Prechystivka, Neskuchne, Novosilka, Novopil. In the Zaporizhzhia Oblast, they hit Hulyaipole, Zaliznychne, Huliaipilske, Mala Tokmachka, Novodanylivka, Novoandriivka, Kamyanske. Lastly, in the Kherson Oblast, they fired at Kherson and Mykhailivka.

Ukrainian Air Force launched 13 air strikes on Russian concentration areas and one on an air defence site. Missile and artillery units hit one command post, six concentration areas, two logistics centres, three ammunition depots, six electronic warfare stations, and two air defence sites.

The situation at selected axes and directions

Kharkiv/Luhansk direction

The overall situation in the Kharkiv Oblast did not change. Ukrainian bloggers claimed that Russians became more active in the Hryanykivka and Lyman Pervyi areas. However, the frontline remained untouched.

Nevertheless, a pro-Russian source claimed that Ukrainians were preparing for a possible offensive in the Kupyansk sector. It is likely that the closer we are to spring, the more information will surface regarding the aims of the upcoming Ukrainian counteroffensive. The S-300 missiles fired last night landed in the Kharkiv Oblast, damaging civil and critical infrastructure. Also, during the day, Russians fired at the border settlements, specifically on Kupyansk, Strilecha, Dvorichna and Vovchansk.

According to Serhiy Haidai, the Luhansk Regional Military Civil Administration Head, although Russians generally pressure Ukrainians along the entire contact line, Thursday was relatively quiet near the front. Haidai claimed that the attackers pulled back to replenish their reserves after suffering losses recently. Haidan specifically mentioned the Svatove sector as the area where Russian attacks lessened.

He asserted that “combat operations” were ongoing in Chervonopopivka, where a part of the settlement was “deoccupied”. The situation there was “under control”. Haidai stated  Russians were not advancing anywhere in the oblast.

No Russian attacks towards Stelmakhivka were recorded on Thursday. Positional battles continued near  Novoselivske and Kuzemivka.

According to a Russian source, Russian troops attacked from Ploshchanka towards Makiivka and near Nevske. After one such assault, Ukrainians reportedly withdrew from their positions near Nevske.  So far, no other source has confirmed this development.

No information about changes in Chervonopopivka was posted on Thursday.

No changes were also recorded near the Kreminna area. Battles were ongoing in the Serebryansky forest and near Dibova. Haidai added that Russians use 10-12 pieces of equipment when attacking in the Kreminna and Bilohorivka directions.

The Russian blogger stated that Russian attacks on Bilohorivka achieved no results over the past few weeks.

Donetsk Oblast Direction

Although no frontline changes occurred in the oblast on Thursday, Russians remained offensively committed across the entire frontline. The situation in the Bakhmut area did not change, nor did the pace of Russian attacks, which remains high.

Russians attacked Ukrainian positions in Spirne and Vyimka, but they were probably pushed back. No Russian assaults were recorded near Vekhnokamyanske.

Ukrainian sources also asserted that Russian advances north of Soledar, specifically near Rozdolivka, Vesele and Fedorivka, were unsuccessful. The same pertains to Vasiukivka.

It appears that Russians were heavily committed to pushing towards Zaliznyanske, Orikhovo-Vasylivka and Dubovo-Vasylivka. However, there too no information appeared about any possible gains.

On the other hand, according to Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wagner PMC head, his troops captured Dubovo-Vasylivka. A video was also posted online, reportedly showing a Wagner unit in the village.

However, Ukrainian bloggers claimed that Russian units only had partial success near the settlement and that fighting continued. The same source asserted that Russian manoeuvres were connected with unsuccessful attempts to enter Bohdanivka. Russians thus shifted their attack to the left flank towards the Dubovo-Vasylivka to stretch the northern flank of the offensive to the west.

Khromove, Bohdanivka and Hryhorivka remained under Ukrainian control.

The battle for Bakhmut continued, but neither side probably made any gains on Thursday. A Ukrainian soldier fighting in the city stated that Russian attacks were repelled in the northern and southern parts of the city. A video was also posted online showing another road into the city. The speed of movement of cars depicted in this video shows that the road is under Russian fire, probably even ATGM.

Although a Russian source stated that the attackers continued to press on Stupochky – Ivanivske, this sector had no frontline changes.

Fighting for Avdiivka continued, but there too, Russians did not progress. Russian sources claimed on Thursday that Russian aviation was active near the city, thus confirming a lack of Ukrainian air defence in his sector.

Russians once again attempted to advance towards Novomikhailovka. Still, a Russian military correspondent said good logistics supply made it possible for Ukrainian troops to hold the positions in the settlement.

Positional battles near Pervomaiske, Nevelske and Severne did not have an impact on the frontline.

The frontline near Mariinka did not undergo any significant shifts. Russian attempts to alter the frontline in the city and Pobieda were unsuccessful.

Zaporizhzhia direction

No major changes occurred in the region on Thursday. According to Yevgeny Balitsky, the acting Governor of the Russian occupation of Zaporizhzhia Oblast, the Ukrainian Armed Forces concentrated around 40,000 troops in northern Zaporizhzhia Oblast. He added that the force is scattered (dispersed). However, he was certain that Russian defence in depth in the region would be sufficient to repel any Ukrainian attacks.

Reportedly, Ukrainians lost a MiG-29 and a Mi-8 in the region.

Kherson direction

The situation remained stable in the region. Russians continue to fire on the city of Kherson, damaging civil infrastructure. According to a Russian source, Russian troops reinforced fortifications on the left bank of the Dnipro river.

According to Serhii Khlan, advisor to the Head of the Kherson Military Administration, Russians continue to deploy sabotage and reconnaissance groups to the Velykyi Potemkin Island, but their attempts to establish any presence there end in failure. A Russian ammunition depot was also destroyed there on Thursday.

Military situation in Belarus

On 9MAR, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko met with the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Secretary-General (SCO), Zhang Min.

The gathering was dedicated to the procedure of Belarusian application to the institution, which started in SEP22. During the talks, Lukashenko underlined the necessity of taking additional legal measures to be admitted to the organisation. He added that Belarus would finish them before the summer summit of the organisation (JUN, held in India) to become a full-fledged member by the end of 2023.

Lukashenko also proposed new amendments to codes on criminal liability for “extremist” or “anti-state” crimes. The new law would introduce the death penalty for Belarusian officials or service members if they committed treason. Moreover, it presents additional financial penalties of up to  BYN1.85 million (around USD734,000)  for committing several “anti-state” crimes. The document also allows to penalise citizens discrediting the Belarusian Armed Forces or other power organisations and lengthens the period of detention of persons suspected of committing treason, conspiracy or espionage activities from three to ten days. Officially, the change is necessary to ensure the highest quality of the operational investigative measures. Interestingly, a Belarusian source stated that the new law was to exempt from criminal liability citizens, who carried preparations and attacks on “state institutions with international support” (UN, EU, etc.), but these plans were abandoned.

On Thursday, the Belarusian MoD informed about the combat readiness check of the unspecified mechanised brigade of the North-Western Operational Command, which either pertained to the 19th or 120th Mechanised Brigades. No further information about this drill was released.

At the same time, a logistics battalion of the 6th Mechanised Brigade started a combat readiness check. Belarusian servicemen removed military equipment from long-term storage bases, which will be used to provide supply and material resources during training exercises.

The Belarusian Military Television VoenTV published material on an ongoing combat coordination measures carried out by the Belarusian Iskander subunit. Its service members conducted special-training control exercises that included preparations for training launchers of the cruise missiles at planned and unplanned targets.

Cadets of the Belarusian Military Academy (Missile Forces and Artillery Faculty) underwent practical firing training (D-30, NSV, PKMB) combined with tactical medicine classes on 7MAR  (Osipovichi Training Ground).

On 9MAR,  only two noteworthy transfers of Belarusian military equipment were reported.

They included two trailers with BUK air defence systems (Baranovichi>Ivashevichy) and four Ural trucks moving in Minsk. However, an unspecified echelon with ZIL trucks was also observed in Kolodischi. Nonetheless, whether the train belongs to Russian or Belarusian forces is unclear.

The Belarusian aviation components were very active. Training flights were carried out from Baranovichi and Lida Air Bases (fighter aircraft). Moreover, at least two flights of An-26 cargo aircraft to these based from the Machulischy Air Base were reported.

The activity of the Russian air assets was also significant. Russian MiG-31K supersonic fighter conducted a flight from the Machulischy Air Base, while about five Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters departed from the base towards Luniniets Air Base. However, Russian helicopters also arrived at the Baranovichi Air Base and Lepelsky Training Ground.

Besides, several ground transfers were observed:

  1. Three Z-marked Kamaz trucks headed to Orsha from Tolochin;
  2. A single ZIl-131 truck was moving from Pleshchenitsy towards Begoml;
  3. Three Kamaz trucks with five vehicles (Gazel and UAZ) were moving from Dzyarzhynsk in the direction of Stolbsy;
  4. An unspecified number of trawls was moving from Ivaschevichy towards Baranovichi;

Below is the list of Belarusian exercises conducted between 07-09MAR.

7MAR: Practical firing training combined with tactical medicine classes (Osipovichi Training Ground, Missile Forces and Artillery Faculty cadets of the Belarusian Military Academy)

9MAR: Combat readiness check (unspecified location, elements of the 19th or 120th Mechanised Brigade)

9MAR: Continuation of the combat readiness check (unspecified location, logistic battalion of the 6th Mechanised Brigade)

9MAR: Continuation of special training classes (unspecified location, Iskander subunit of the 465th Missile Brigade)

Lines of advance in Ukraine

Please click here to access the current scribble map and here to access the archive map.