13:12 17.03.2022


Military and Political Situation in Ukraine. Morning of March 17th, 2022

15 min read
Military and Political Situation in Ukraine. Morning of March 17th, 2022

Ihor Zhdanov, Information Defence

Informational Defence of Ukraine provides a daily review of the military-political situation in Ukraine, morning of March 17th, based on an analysis of open sources.

1. The russian occupiers have not achieved success in any of the operational areas and have sustained heavy losses as a result of counterattacks by the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

According to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the position and nature of the actions of defence forces have not changed significantly over the last 24 hours.

In the Volyn direction, the russian forces, with the full support of the military and political leadership of Belarus, continue to use its territory to deploy missile systems, launch missile strikes on the territory of Ukraine and organise all kinds of troops.

In the Polissya direction, the enemy continues to focus its main efforts on conducting reconnaissance and trying to organise a counter-battery fight. This has had no significant success.

There are no active offensive actions by the enemy in the Siverskyi and Slobozhanskyi directions. The occupiers are trying to gain a foothold on the previously captured borders, regroup troops and replenish supplies.

The enemy did not abandon attempts to occupy the south of Izium, probably in order to continue the offensive attacks in the direction of Sloviansk. It is not successful.

In the Pivdennyi Buh area, the enemy continues to gain a foothold. Following their occupation of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the Russian military tried to seize the South Ukrainian nuclear power plant, but the Ukrainian military stopped the offensive attack and the invaders did not enter it.

The russian Black Sea Fleet continues to block shipping in the northwestern part of the Black Sea.

The aggressor's losses are growing. The total combat losses of the enemy from 24.02 to 17.03 were approximately: about 14,000 combatants, tanks - 444 units, armoured combat vehicles - 1,435 units, artillery systems - 201 units, MLRS - 72 units, air defence - 43 units, aircraft - 86 units, helicopters - 108 units, motor vehicles - 864 units, ships / boats - 3 units, fuel tanks - 60, UAVs of operational and tactical level - 11, special equipment - 10.

During the past 24 hours, Ukrainian defenders destroyed the command post and support units of the 35th All-Military Army of the Eastern Military District of the Armed Forces of the russian federation. 

Ukraine has captured about a thousand of the russian servicemen.

Ukrainian citizens return to the country to protect it. Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by the russian federation, more than 300,000 Ukrainians have returned to Ukraine from abroad, most of them are men.

According to the UK Ministry of Defence on March 16th, the russian forces continue to “slip” because they are tied to the road network and because Ukraine has not lost control in the air.

Ukraine's decision to blow up bridges on offensive routes played a key role in curbing their advance. In their tactics, the Armed Forces skilfully took advantage of the insufficient manoeuverability of the russian forces, disrupting their advance and inflicting heavy losses.

Pentagon officials are convinced that the large number of russians killed in the war in Ukraine could destroy the will to continue hostilities. These estimates coincide with the opinion of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, which is convinced that “enemy combatants have been demoralized, which has led to an increase in desertions and refusals of servicemen of the russian Armed Forces to participate in the war in Ukraine”.

“Conservative estimates” of US intelligence agency report on 7,000 russian soldiers killed in the war, with another 14 to 21 wounded. The sources of The New York Times stressed that their death toll could be inaccurate.

A recent US intelligence agency report was focused on low morale among russian servicemen and described soldiers simply parking their cars and escaping to the woods.

The Pentagon also notes that because russia's ground forces are in disarray, russian president putin is increasingly attacking Ukrainian cities, homes, hospitals, and schools. According to intelligence agency, this aerial bombardment helped to mask the inadequate actions of the russian military on the ground.

2. The russian occupiers continue to violate international humanitarian law.

Enemy aircraft continue to launch missile and bomb strikes on civilian infrastructure in the Kyiv, Chernihiv, Zhytomyr, Vinnytsia, Sumy, and Donetsk regions, actively using the airfield network of the Republic of Belarus and occupied Crimea.

In the Black Sea operational zone, warships shelled the coast in the areas of the settlements of Lebedivka, Sanzheika, Zatoka, and Bilenke.

During the 21st day of the full-scale war, russian troops inflicted hundreds of times more damage on Ukraine than in Donbas during eight years.

Civilians continue to die from the shelling. On the night of March 17th, russian troops fired artillery and launched missile strikes near Kyiv, chaotic shelling continued in Kharkiv, enemy artillery fired on Chernihiv and near Sumy, hail was struck in the Kherson region, and an air strike was launched on Mariupol.

In Chernihiv, in one of the city's dormitories, russian troops fired on people standing in line for bread. The shelling killed at least 10 civilians.

Occupying troops dropped a heavy bomb on the Mariupol Drama Theatre, where refugees who lost their homes were hiding. Satellite images show that in front of and behind the building of the Drama Theatre “CHILDREN” was written in large letters for the attention of aviation aviation pilots.

The President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyi noted that russian aircraft purposefully dropped a heavy bomb on the building where the children were hiding.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine calls on the international community to increase sanctions on russia after a targeted bomb attack on the Mariupol Drama Theatre.

Okhmatdyt Hospital in Kyiv was startled by the rocket attack at 6 am on March 16th. Because of the explosions in Kyiv, the windows in the rooms were damaged and many shell fragments were found on the floor.

In Kyiv, as a result of the fall of a downed russian missile, a high-rise building was destroyed and set on fire. One person was killed and three others were injured.

Residents of occupied Skadovsk in the Kherson region went on a peaceful rally demanding the release of the city leadership detained by the russian military, the occupiers used tear gas and opened fire.

In Merefa (the Kharkiv region), at 3:30 am as a result of the russian shelling, a school and a house of culture were destroyed, neighbouring houses were damaged and there are casualties among the military.

The bodies of 5 victims, including 3 children, were found under the rubble of a dormitory in Chernihiv destroyed by russian troops.

The russian occupiers were shelling Rubizhne in the Luhansk region all night, at least 27 houses were damaged, and houses in Popasna and Severodonetsk were burned.

On March 15th, 2022, in the village of Chkalovske, the Chuhuiiv district, the Kharkiv region, servicemen of the Armed Forces of the russian federation entered the garage of a thirty-year-old local resident. Seeing the man, one of the russian servicemen shot him with an automatic weapon. The man died on the spot. After that, the aggressors took the deceased's phone, money, seized his car "Volkswagen T4" and fled.

russian aggressors are taking peaceful Ukrainian citizens hostage and looting.

russian invaders abducted six people who were in the Bucha City Council building and provided assistance to residents until the last one was rescued. Among the prisoners are City Council officers and volunteers. At noon on March 16th, it became known that they were all released.

Melitopol Mayor Ivan Fedorov was released from russian captivity. Deputy Head of the Presidential Office Kyrylo Tymoshenko said that the “special operation” to release Fedorov from russian captivity, which had been exchanged for nine captured russian conscripts, had ended.

The russian military is looting the Chernobyl zone, taking out overalls and computer equipment.

According to the Commissioner for the Protection of the State Language Taras Kremin, in the occupied territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, the Russians announced the resumption of education in schools, but without teaching the Ukrainian language, Ukrainian literature, and history of Ukraine.

The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague Karim Khan and the investigative team of the International Criminal Court arrived in Ukraine to collect evidence of war crimes of the russian federation.

3. Under attacks by the russian occupiers, evacuation through humanitarian corridors continues.

On March 16th, at about 3:30 p.m., a column of civilians evacuating from Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia was fired by the russian occupiers from the BM-21 “Grad” MLRS.

On Wednesday, 6,426 people arrived in Zaporizhzhia from Mariupol, including 2,039 children. At the same time, the Mariupol City Council reports that about 11,000 people left Mariupol for Zaporizhzhia on Wednesday.

4 . Ukrainian-russian communications.

According to the publication in The Financial Times, Ukraine and russia are negotiating a 15-point peace deal in bilateral talks, including Kyiv announcement of a refusal to join NATO in exchange for security guarantees from allies and the withdrawal of russian troops from Ukraine who had been there since their invasion began on February 24th.

The publication emphasises that the nature of Ukraine's Western security is guaranteed and their acceptability for Moscow could be a major obstacle to concluding any agreement. The status of Ukrainian territories seized by russia and its puppets in 2014 may also be an obstacle.

Under the agreement, Ukraine will retain its Armed Forces, but will be required to remain outside military alliances, such as NATO, and refrain from deploying foreign military bases on its territory.

Although Moscow and Kyiv stated on Wednesday that they had made progress under the terms of the agreement, Ukrainian officials are skeptical that russia's president putin is ready for peace. They fear that Moscow is trying to gain time to regroup and resume the offensive.

Adviser to the President of Ukraine Mykhailo Podoliak informed in the publication that any agreement would include a clause stating that russian troops will leave the territory of Ukraine captured since the invasion on February 24th, the southern regions along the Azov and the Black Seas, as well as the territory to the east and north of Kyiv.

He also stressed in The Financial Times publication that the draft “peace agreement” is nothing more than a request from the russian side.

According to the forecasts of Information Defence experts, any agreement that will be concluded because of these negotiations will be a compromise and may not satisfy radical Ukrainian citizens. This may lead to a certain split in Ukrainian society.

5. The Ukrainian government, business, and citizens are demonstrating solidarity and consolidating their efforts to confront the enemy.

President Volodymyr Zelensky introduced a nationwide minute of silence to honour all those killed in the Russian invasion.

Well-known figures in the Ukrainian film industry opposed the russian invasion and called for a boycott of russian culture.

In particular, russia was condemned by actress Ada Rohovtseva, art director of the Molodist Film Festival Andrii Khalpakhchi, directors Serhii Bukovskyi, Mykhailo Illienko and Roman Balaian, and film critics Volodymyr Voitenko and Liubomyr Hoseiko.

6. International support and assistance to Ukraine.

Both chambers of the US Congress have demonstrated strong support for Ukraine. Speaking to congressmen, President Volodymyr Zelenskyi asked the United States for air defence systems to close Ukraine's skies.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyi proposed to the United States to create a new Union - United for peace, which will be able to provide all necessary assistance in 24 hours.

Finally, a decision was made to supply Ukraine with air defence systems. According to CNN, the United States and its NATO allies have begun providing Ukraine with air defence systems. These are the Soviet-era mobile air defence systems SA-8 (Osa military anti-aircraft missile system), SA-10 (S-300PT air defence system), SA-12 (S-300V complex) and SA-14 (Strela MANPADS)-3"). Although these systems are outdated compared to modern models of Western air defence systems, they have demonstrated their effectiveness in shooting down russian aircraft.

On Wednesday, The US President Joe Biden announced another $ 800 million in military aid to Ukraine.

According to the White House website, the new aid package includes: 800 Stinger anti-aircraft systems; 2000 Javelin, 1000 light anti-tank guns and 6000 anti-tank systems AT-4; 100 tactical unmanned aerial vehicles; 100 grenade launchers, 5,000 rifles, 1,000 pistols, 400 machine guns and 400 rifles; more than 20 million rounds of ammunition for small arms, grenade and mortar shots; 25,000 sets of bulletproof vests; as well as 25,000 helmets.

As the Minister of Defence of the United Kingdom Ben Wallace stated on Wednesday, a decision has been made to supply Ukraine with modern Starstreak anti-aircraft mobile missile systems.

UN International Court of Justice in The Hague on March 16th ordered russia to cease hostilities, which began on February 24th, 2022 in Ukraine, whose stated goal was to “prevent and punish” alleged genocide in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions of Ukraine.

The decision was made by 13 votes to two, with russia and china voting against.

The energy security of our state is growing. Ukraine has become a member of the "Energy European Union", i.e. joined the European energy system ENTSO-E.

Financial assistance continues. As a part of a campaign launched by the Czech government to raise funds to help Ukraine, more than $ 30 million has already been raised.

Since the initiative's inception, more than 100,000 people have made donations. The campaign is coordinated by the Czech government, and the money goes to the Ukrainian embassy in Prague.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhan Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday that about 100 tons of goods had already been shipped to Ukraine with the help of the organization he heads, and that another 108 tons would be delivered soon. 

King Philip of Belgium and Queen Matilda decided to provide shelter for Ukrainian refugees. The royal couple will provide two apartments that can accommodate three refugee families.

7. Provocations and fakes of russian aggressors.

russian hackers broke the news feed on Ukraine 24 and launched a fake “statement” of President Volodymyr Zelenskyi's surrender. The head of state immediately recorded a video message and offered to lay down arms to the russians.

The security service calls another statement by russian aggressors about the alleged use of poisonous substances against civilians fake.

According to the official statement, "a new fake from the russian Ministry of Defence: it turns out that the Security Service of Ukraine allegedly" with the support of Western countries is preparing a provocation with the use of toxic substances against civilians.

I wonder if this is not about those fighting Bandera bats, which, according to "secret and very accurate data" of the occupiers, had to carry biological weapons?

The allegations of "SBU provocation" came after the russian occupiers fired on a peace column near Mariupol and dropped a bomb on the city Drama Theater, where hundreds of women and children were hiding.

The Center for Counteracting Disinformation at the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine warns of the possibility of sabotage groups entering Ukraine with the credentials of journalists of the video agency Ruptly which is a subsidiary of russia Today.

7. Sanctions against russia are intensifying, and more and more companies are leaving the russian trade market.

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has decided to exclude russia from the organisation, which is the first time since its founding. This morning, at an extraordinary meeting, the Committee of Ministers, in the context of the procedure initiated under Article 8 of the Statute of the Council of Europe, decided that the russian federation would cease to be a member of the Council of Europe after 26 years.

Switzerland has adopted additional European Union sanctions against russian individuals and legal entities, issued on Tuesday in response to russia's invasion of Ukraine.

russia's position in the financial markets is deteriorating. American index provider S&P Dow Jones after consulting with market participants decided to withdraw bonds of russian and Belarusian issuers from the indices.

New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq Stock Exchange decided to temporarily suspend trading in shares of russian-based companies amid the country's aggression against Ukraine.

The international community continues to block energy supplies from russia. The International Energy Agency has estimated russia's oil losses due to sanctions at 3 million barrels per day (bpd). russia exports 7-8 million bpd.

Germany's largest energy company E.ON has stopped buying new volumes of gas from Gazprom's trading companies in Europe.

After the russian invasion of Ukraine, the russian App store lost 6,982 mobile applications (105% more than on February 1-14th), currently among the leaders in downloads - VPN services.

russian companies are shutting down due to sanctions. AvtoVAZ sent all employees on corporate leave from April 4th to April 24th "due to the ongoing crisis in the supply of electronic components and in order to prevent a significant reduction in employee earnings". AvtoVAZ produces Lada and Renault cars.

The Swiss drug manufacturer Novartis will stop investing and marketing activities in russia, as well as conducting all scientific activities. However, the company's plant in St. Petersburg will continue to produce medicines for the russian market.

Tour operators in russia believe that in the summer prices for holidays in russian hotels and resorts will increase by 10-30%. Some hotels have already announced an increase in the cost of services.

Sotheby 's and Christie's are canceling auctions of russian art scheduled for June amid russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The Council of the International Chess Federation (FIDE) has decided to hold the 2022 World Chess Olympiad in India (Chennai) instead of russia.