Day 376: Ukraine Preparing Counter-Attack in Zaporizhzhia, Pro-Russia Official Says
Ukraine has amassed upwards of 30K troops in the Zaporizhzhia region in preparation for a spring counter-offensive, a pro-Russia official in the region claimed on Monday....
- Ukraine has amassed upwards of 30K troops in the Zaporizhzhia region in preparation for a spring counter-offensive, a pro-Russia official in the region claimed on Monday.1
- Vladimir Rogov, a Ukrainian who serves in Russia's administration of Zaporizhzhia — one of the four regions Russia claimed to have annexed last year — said: 'If we speak about the numerical strength of militants along the engagement line ... there are a total of about 30-32K of them there.' He added: 'This obviously suggests that this [attempted offensive] will take place in late March, early April.'1
- Meanwhile, as fighting for control of the Donetsk city of Bakhmut — known in Russia as Artyomovsk — continues, US military think tank the Institute for the Study of War assessed on Sunday that Ukrainian forces 'are likely conducting a limited tactical withdrawal' from the city. However, it added that: '[i]t is still too early to assess Ukrainian intentions concerning a complete withdrawal.' Ukrainian officials have not given any public indication of plans to withdraw at this stage.2
- Lloyd Austin, the US Sec. of Defense, on Monday told reporters that if Bakhmut were to fall, it would be of more symbolic than operational importance. 'The fall of Bakhmut won't necessarily mean that the Russians have changed the tide of this fight,' he added.3
- Ukrainian officials said that one civilian had been killed and five more injured in Russian attacks on Bakhmut in the past day. Meanwhile, three civilians were reportedly killed in Russian attacks on Kherson. Attacks were also recorded in the regions of Sumy, Kharkiv, and Mykolaiv, as well as Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhzhia, with no reports of civilian casualties at this stage. Ukrainian officials added that they had shot down 13 of 15 drones overnight.4
- In Ukrainian attacks, one civilian was injured after Russian air defenses shot down three missiles over the country's Belgorod region on Monday. Meanwhile, one civilian was killed in the Luhansk region after stepping on an unidentified explosive device. One civilian was also injured in Donetsk after stepping on an anti-personnel mine in the region.5
Sources: 1Tass (a), 2Understandingwar, 3Msn, 4Ukrinform and 5Tass (b).
- Pro-Russia narrative, as provided by Tass. Artyomovsk is a strategically significant transport hub and logistical center for the Ukrainian army. Ukraine's forces have already sustained huge losses — including several of their best brigades — fighting to keep control of the city and Moscow's forces now have the upper hand on the ground. Artyomovsk will be a key victory for Russia in the wider battle for control of the Donbass.
- Anti-Russia narrative, as provided by Voa. Even if Russian forces do gain control of Bakhmut, it would not represent a decisive shift in the war. The development would be much more of a symbolic than strategic victory and, while Russia continues to funnel troops and resources into Bakhmut in the hope of being able to publicize some positive news about the invasion, Kyiv is making a more considered strategic assessment of its troops' position in view of the wider conflict.