A resident pushes his bicycle past “hedgehog” tank traps and rubble in Bakhmut, eastern Ukraine, January 6, 2023 (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP)
Map: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1058 GMT:
A Russian rocket attack has killed one civilian and wounded four in Znob-Novhorodske in Sumy region in northern Ukraine.
UPDATE 1023 GMT:
Ukrainian partisans have reportedly blown up a railway used by Russian forces in the Kherson region in southern Ukraine.
The joint press center of the Ukrainian military said the railway is on the left bank of the Dnipro River.
The army of the Russian Federation understands that they are also [sitting] uneasy on the [occupied] Crimean peninsula. We keep their logistical transport routes under control, including with the support of the resistance movement.
UPDATE 0809 GMT:
Relatives of mobilized men have sent a video appeal to Vladimir Putin and Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, asking that their sons and husbands be returned from assault units.
The women said the men, swept up in Putin’s mass mobilization from last September, spent three months in artillery training. At the end of December, they were sent into the combat zone, only to waite another two months for weapons. They were then told that they were now assault infantry and sent to frontlines.
The women say, “Our mobilized men are tossed like pieces of meat into fortified areas. Five men go up against 100 well-armed enemies.”
Their testimony supports assessments that, after heavy losses of armor and other mechanized equipment, Russia is now relying on infantry units in “human wave” attacks — including in the months-long assault on Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine.
UPDATE 0759 GMT:
Explosions were reported early this morning in Russia’s Belgorod region on the Ukraine border. Air defenses were activated, with Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov claiming that four missiles were downed.
📰 5 Kanal pic.twitter.com/lmOF9JRnws
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) March 13, 2023
UPDATE 0745 GMT:
Moldovan police have detained seven members of a pro-Russian espionage network.
The arrests come amid warnings that individuals with ties to Russian intelligence are trying to manufacture a pretext for a coup in the country west of Ukraine.
The head of Moldova’s General Police Commissariat, Viorel Cernautanu, said undercover officers infiltrated the group. Members were promised up to $10,000 for rioting during pro-Russian protests.
Ten groups were organized, numbering from five to ten people. Cernautanu said all were trained by the “specialized service of Russia”.
Moldova’s government, led by President Maia Sandu and Prime Minister Dorin Recean, have firmly supported Ukraine against Vladimir Putin’s invasion. Chisinau is seeking closer ties with the European Union.
On Friday, US officials assessed tht Russian agents are planning to stage protests to create an insurrection installing a pro-Kremlin government.
UPDATE 0707 GMT:
More than 1,100 Russian soldiers have been killed within a week in Moscow’s “human wave” assaults trying to seize the city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, says Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
In his nightly address to the nation, Zelenskiy said that another 1,500 Russians had been wounded and “dozens of units of enemy equipment destroyed” since March 6 in “Russia’s irreversible loss”.
Oleksandr Syrskyi, the commander of Ukraine’s Ground Forces, said on Monday morning that the situation remains “difficult” in Bakhmut. However, “in fierce battles, our defenders inflict significant losses on the enemy. All enemy attempts to capture the city are repelled by artillery, tanks, and other firepower.”
After months of attacks, Russia’s Wagner Group mercenaries hold the eastern part of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region. However, Ukrainian forces continue to control the western part and have blown up bridges over the Bakhmuta River, running through open ground in the center of the city.
The US-based Institute for the Study of War assessed Thursday that Wagner has likely paused operations, possibly awaiting reinforcement by Russian conventional forces. There were no confirmed Russian gains over the weekend.
Bakhmut, with a pre-war population of about 70,000, lost most of its strategic value last September after Ukraine liberated all of the neighboring Kharkiv region and part of Donetsk. However, Russian leaders — seeking a first significant victory since July — have used the Wagner mercenaries for months of costly attacks.
The Institute for the Study of War assessed on Saturday that the Kremlin’s tactics may be shifting.
With Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin embroiled in a rivalry with Russian military and political leaders for influence, the ISW said the Defense Ministry is “currently prioritizing eliminating Wagner on the battlefields in Bakhmut…seizing the opportunity to deliberately expend both elite and convict Wagner forces …to weaken Prigozhin and derail his ambitions”.
In the last three weeks, Prigozhin has escalated his attacks on the Russia “monstrous bureaucracy”. Claiming that his forces were being deliberately deprived of ammunition, he said, “There is just direct opposition going on, which is nothing less than an attempt to destroy Wagner. This can be equated to high treason.”
Prigozhin maintained his PR campaign in a weekend video:
After the capture of Artyomovsk (Bakhmut), we will begin to reboot. In particular, we will start recruiting new people from the regions.
The Wagner private military group must turn from just a private — the best — army in the world, which is capable of defending the state, into an army with an ideology. And that ideology is the struggle for justice.