Russia forces occupied Ukrainian cities and towns 'to adjust to new reality' — CDS

13 March 2022, 11:00 AM

The Centre for Defense Strategies (CDS) is a Ukrainian security think tank. Operating since 2020, it focuses on security studies, defense policy research and advocacy. This is CDS’s overview of the main developments in Russia’s war against Ukraine occurring on March 12.

Humanitarian aspect

The evacuation of the civilian population continues. Today, only 9 of 14 planned humanitarian “green corridors" were successful. The Enerhodar corridor failed, the invaders did not let the humanitarian convoy into the city. The evacuation from Izyum (Kharkiv Oblast) failed as well.

Video of day

Plans for humanitarian corridors in Kyiv Oblast were partially fulfilled: almost 1,000 people were evacuated from Bucha, but the evacuations from Vorzel and Irpin were unsuccessful. In total, nearly 13,000 people were evacuated today, more than 4,000 in Kyiv Oblast alone.

Medical and humanitarian assistance is being provided. The fifth attempt to deliver humanitarian aid of more than 60 vehicles with 90 tons of food and medicine to Mariupol, which has been under blockade for 13 days, has been postponed until tomorrow. The humanitarian crisis continues in Mariupol. According to the former deputy head of the National Police, the city is under threat of famine.

The Russian invaders (probably LNR proxy fighters) kidnapped the mayor of Melitopol for refusing to cooperate with Russian forces.

 According to President Zelensky, the mayor is alive but being tortured. Thousands of Melitopol residents gathered at the rally near the administration building, demanding that the mayor be freed. The city's  communications and Internet connections have been disrupted to prevent residents from self-organizing.

One of the activists protesting against the occupation was abducted by Russian occupiers (information to be confirmed). The situation in Kherson is difficult: According to the regional council deputy, the invaders are preparing a referendum on the creation of the so-called Kherson People's Republic following the playbook tested in Luhansk and Donetsk in 2014.

In response, Kherson Regional Council held an emergency session against the occupation, confirming by a majority that Kherson is a Ukrainian city. Kherson prosecutor's office is investigating attempt to create "Kherson People's Republic" by the invaders.

Kyiv and Kyiv Oblast: The most intense fighting is in Irpin - Bucha - Hostomel, Makariv, Zhytomyr highway and the north of Vyshhorod district.

The Defense Intelligence Agency of Ukraine confirmed today that on March 11 the Russians committed another war crime: They attacked a convoy of women and children trying to evacuate; seven people died, including one child. The exact number of wounded is unknown. After the shooting, the occupiers forced the remnants of the column to return to the occupied village of Peremoha.

Communications with the victims is lost; it is impossible to provide humanitarian and medical assistance. The occupiers hit Belogorodka with Grad multiple rocket launch systems; there are casualties reported. At least six missiles hit Vasilkiv airfield. After the airstrike, the oil depot is on fire again. Near Brovary, the occupiers are destroying warehouses to reduce access to food supplies.

Hostomel residential complex residents who were held hostage by the invaders for more than ten days have been released (to be confirmed). In Kyiv, police evacuated children and staff from hospitals and orphanages. An explosion hit a bank in the historical center of Kyiv, Podil.

According to preliminary information, the drone that caused the fire carried a kilogram of plastic explosives with metal elements.

Chernihiv has no electricity, gas, water or heating. After last night's attacks on Mykolayiv, eight people were wounded, 11 private houses were destroyed, while 167 homes, a hospital, and 11 educational institutions were damaged. The airfield in Lutsk was destroyed as a result of a missile attack.

Near Zaporizhzhia, a Russian tank crushed a car with two adults and a child; no one survived. The head of the Donetsk Regional State Administration reported that the city of Volnovakha has been destroyed, including its infrastructure, with most of the residents evacuated to safe parts of the country, and battles continuing in its outskirts. In Donetsk Oblast, the Svyatohirsk Monastery was shelled.

Women and children were sheltering in the monastery - the number of victims is to be confirmed. As a result of shelling in Luhansk Oblast, more than 20 villages have no electricity, heat, gas or water. A hospital, sports stadium and schools in Severodonetsk came under fire from the Russian military.

Region Emergency services are working at full capacity, continuing to help the civilian population. According to Ukrainian intelligence, units of the Russian invading force were ordered to switch to "self-reliance" mode, which, in fact, means an order allowing looting.

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Ukraine in general:

Banking system:

There are no significant outflows of funds; the banking system is operating smoothly and is supporting the economy thanks to pre-developed business continuity plans (NBU).


Ukraine plans to resume the education process in 14 oblasts (MES) on Monday. President Zelensky, for the first time, announced the losses of the Ukrainian army. About 1,300 soldiers have died in fighting with the invaders. During the war in Ukraine, Russian military equipment worth more than $5 billion has been destroyed (Forbes). According to the UK Ministry of Defense, Russia is increasingly relying on unguided missiles to aid the advance of its ground troops. "Such weapons are relatively inaccurate and indiscriminate, and their use significantly increases the likelihood of civilian casualties," the statement said.

Nuclear and energy security:

The IAEA announced the resumption of data transmission from monitoring systems at Zaporizhzhya NPP. The situation at ZNPP remains dangerous due to the control established by the invaders. According to Energoatom, 11 civilians from Rosatom (Russian government nuclear agency) arrived at the station, saying that ZNPP no longer belongs to Ukraine and should be governed by Rosatom. Repair work has begun at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant. Power has not yet been restored. The technicians will continue the maintenance, despite the NPP still being controlled by the invaders.

 International diplomacy:

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that foreign convoys delivering security aid to Ukraine could be legitimate targets for the Russian military. Such a statement builds on Russia's success in the war of setting ‘red lines’, which began with Washington's signal of noninterference in the war in Ukraine, the non-introduction of a no-fly zone in Ukrainian airspace, and the refusal to send Polish fighters to Ukraine from Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany.

Statements by Russian diplomats about the severe military-political consequences of the possible accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO provoked an immediate reaction of Swedes - no one should interfere in the sovereign law of the state. Such intimidation of Moscow only brings such a decision closer.

Russia's aggression has intensified discussions in both northern European countries about effective means for ensuring their security. Despite the growing popularity of the idea of joining NATO, the governments of both countries have preferred to deepen cooperation and armaments, leaving the option of a membership for the future.

Russia continues to propagate the false narrative of weapons of mass destruction being developed in Ukraine, particularly the implementation of a “Ukrainian-U.S. project to develop bacteriological weapons,” which, according to the Russian Defense Ministry, are to be sent to Russia “with the help of migratory birds.” Russia has convened a special meeting of the UN Security Council on this issue. The promotion of this topic indicates the possible preparation of provocations or the actual use of chemical or bacteriological weapons by Russia against Ukraine.

In announcing the decision to impose new sanctions, U.S. President Joe Biden warned Russia about unpredictable consequences for Moscow if it dares to use chemical weapons in Ukraine. However, special attention should be paid to the signs of preparation for the use of such weapons, he said. In this context, it may be reasonable to warn Ukrainian military intelligence about possible provocations at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant.

Situation in Russia

The sanctions announced yesterday will deepen the crisis in Russia's economy. The sanction package implies imposing additional tariffs, a ban on imports of goods from Russia, and plans to block Russia's ability to receive funds from the IMF, World Bank, and other international financial institutions. Banning US citizens from making any investments in Russia will further accelerate the exit of foreign companies from the Russian market.

Following the termination of MasterCard and Visa, the US ban on the supply of dollar bills will increase economic panic among the population amid a crisis in demand for cash. Many ATMs in Moscow already have problems with currency withdrawals. PayPal will block all e-wallets of Russians on March 18; the payment system MoneyGram is closing access to its services. The US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has released a guide requiring sanctions against Russia to withdraw Russian money through cryptocurrencies (Reuters).

Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank are closing their businesses in Russia.

LINX (London Internet Exchange) confirmed the disconnection of key Russian providers from international traffic. Alternatively, internet traffic will go through Asia.

Operational situation:

Situation on the Ukrainian coast. The main goal of Russian troops in the south of Ukraine is to create a land corridor from Transnistria to Krasnodar Territory and cut Ukraine off from the Black and Azov Seas. The enemy deployed reserve forces from Crimea, regrouped units in southern Ukraine, and resumed its offensive in southern Ukraine to seize the seaports of Mykolayiv and Odesa and develop an offensive on Kryvyi Rih. The city of Mykolaiv was under fire by the enemy's artillery, tanks and multiple rocket launcher systems.

The Ukrainian defenders of Mykolaiv pushed back the enemy in the northern (Bashtanka) and eastern (Milove) areas. A naval landing force, which is currently being formed near Crimea, may be landed east of Odesa to encircle Mykolayiv. Actions by Russian special units were observed near Ochakiv last night, probably preparing a landing site for the amphibious force.

A detachment of amphibious ships is currently near Crimea. Weather conditions in the north-western part of the Black Sea (Odesa) do not favor a landing operation. The situation in Mariupol remains extremely difficult. The Marines and the National Guard of Ukraine maintain a defense, while surrounded by the enemy, which is using heavy artillery, multiple rocket launcher systems, tanks and aircraft.

The invaders have reached the city's outskirts, and are bombing civilian infrastructure. A video of Russian tank shooting at least twice directly at an apartment block in Mariupol, causing a heavy fire in many apartments has shocked the international audience.

Missile attacks and air raids continue in Odesa. Due to the Ukrainian forces' firm defense of Mykolaiv and Odesa, the Russian invaders are unable to accomplish their operational objectives.

Operational situation in various areas:

The enemy continues its offensive against Ukraine. Having suffered losses in the Polissya, Siversky, and Pivdennobuzhsky areas, it had stopped at the previously reached front lines, regrouped its troops, restored combat capability, and replenished its reserves.

Failing to achieve its goals, the enemy continues to launch missile and bomb strikes on critical infrastructure. The enemy did not conduct offensive operations in the Volyn area. The military leadership of the Republic of Belarus is taking measures to strengthen the protection of the border with Ukraine. The possibility of direct participation of the armed forces of the Republic of Belarus in hostilities against Ukraine on the side of Russia remains.

No active actions by the enemy have been recorded in the Polissya area. After significant losses, the Russian invaders are taking measures to restore combat capability and regroup their troops.

In the Slobozhansky area, the occupiers failed to resume offensive operations. The enemy has established itself in the northern part of Izyum, and is still attempting to capture it. In the Donetsk and Tavriya areas, the main efforts of the occupiers have been focused on capturing Mariupol and Severodonetsk. The enemy has captured the eastern outskirts of Mariupol. After an unsuccessful assault on the village of Rubizhne, the occupiers retreated to the Kapitolivka. In the Volnovakha area, the enemy is trying to develop an offensive in the direction of the village of Krasna Polyan and attempted to move in the direction of Olginka. Units of the invaders that carried out offensives in the Donetsk operational area met with strong resistance from the Armed Forces of Ukraine and lost their offensive capabilities. In the South Bug direction, the enemy is attempting to restore offensive actions to encircle Mykolayiv. The invaders tried to deploy missile forces and artillery and air defense units in support of the offensive. They were unsuccessful.

The enemy retreated to the area of the village of Milove, carried out reinforcement of occupied positions and drew up reserves.

The total combat losses of the enemy from 24.02 to 12.03 were approximately:

personnel - almost 12,500 persons (up to +0.5 thousand on the previous day);

captives - up to 2,000;

tanks - 362 (+9);

armored combat vehicles (BBM) - 1205 (+40);

artillery systems - 135 (+10);

multiple rocket launchers (MLRS) - 62 (+4);

air defense systems - 33 (+2);

aircraft - 58 (+1);

helicopters - 83 (0);

automotive equipment - 585 (+27);

light speedboats / ships - 3 (0);

fuel tankers - 60 (0);

UAV operational and tactical level - 7 (0).

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