[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 3/28/23 11:59pm
  Amin Soltani, Johanna Moore, Annika Ganzeveld, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, Zachary Coles and Frederick W. KaganMarch 28, 2023, 5:00 pm ETContributors: Anya Caraiani and James MotamadThe Iran Updates are produced by the Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute with support from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). To receive Iran Updates via email, please subscribe here.IRGC Ground Forces Commander Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour claimed foreign-backed threats are the source of unrest in Sistan and Baluchistan Province, possibly to set conditions to degrade Prominent Sunni Cleric Moulana Abdol Hamid’s anti-regime following in Zahedan. Pakpour claimed that foreign-backed “evildoers and enemies” were responsible for unrest in the province and threatened to deal “severely” with these actors in a speech to local clan leaders, scholars, and critics in Sistan and Baluchistan Province on March 28.[1] The regime has both recently and historically blamed foreign actors to justify violently cracking down on domestic unrest.[2] CTP has not observed any significant increase in violence in Zahedan that would warrant a regime security response. This suggests Pakpour’s statement referenced anti-regime protests inspired by Abdol Hamid, who has continuously criticized the regime during his Friday prayer sermons and generated significant in Zahedan, Sistan and Baluchistan Province throughout the past several months.[3]Pakpour’s framing could provide the cover under which security services manage to confront individuals in Abdol Hamid’s clerical network or popular following as a matter of “national security.” The regime could be otherwise attempting to deter Abdol Hamid from escalating his rhetoric. Abdol Hamid has adjusted his rhetoric in response to the level of securitization in Zahedan. Abdol Hamid was emboldened in response to the decreased security presence since March 3.[4] He directly violated Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's rhetorical red line during his March 24 Friday prayer sermon, inverting Khamenei’s argument that addressing economic problems will solve Iran’s political and socio-cultural problems. Iranian social media users reported regime security forces have installed checkpoints in Zahedan and are monitoring the entrances and exits to the city, which suggests the regime may already be preparing for either course of action[5] The regime has previously established checkpoints in Zahedan to restrict movement into the city, as CTP previously reported.[6]Key TakeawaysIRGC Ground Forces Commander Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour claimed foreign-backed threats are the source of unrest in Sistan and Baluchistan Province, possibly to set conditions to degrade Prominent Sunni Cleric Moulana Abol Hamid’s anti-regime following in Zahedan.At least ten protests occurred in ten cities across 8 provinces in Iran.Raisi administration officials continued to discuss Iran’s economic problems without presenting meaningful solutions to alleviate them.The Iranian rial depreciated from 511,500 rials to one US dollar on March 27 to 524,500 rials to one US dollar.Foreign Affairs Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian stated that Iran responded to an invitation by Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for President Ebrahim Raisi to visit Saudi Arabia at an unspecified date.The Israeli Mossad issued a statement announcing that it aided Greek authorities thwart a plot by two Pakistani nationals with connections to Iran to attack Israeli and Jewish targets in Greece.The Emtidad Movement – an independent political bloc in Iraqi Parliament – announced that the party submitted an appeal on March 27 to overturn a list of election laws passed on March 26.An IRGC Quds Force (QF) delegation visited locations struck by US airstrikes in Deir ez Zor Province, Syria on March 27, likely to assess and reconstitute forces.The US and UK jointly sanctioned seven individuals affiliated with Lebanese Hezbollah and the Assad regime for their involvement in the production and exportation of captagon.Internal Security and Protest ActivityAt least ten protests occurred in ten cities across eight provinces on March 28. CTP assesses with moderate confidence that protests occurred in the following locations:Ardabil City, Ardabil Province[7]Size: SmallDemographic: Teachers demanding the government to address their livelihood needs and release imprisoned teachersTabriz, East Azerbaijan Province[8]Size: SmallDemographic: Teachers demanding the government to address their livelihood needsHamedan City, Hamedan Province[9]Size: SmallDemographic: Teachers demanding the government to address their livelihood needsMalayer, Hamedan Province[10]Size: SmallDemographic: Teachers demanding the government to address their livelihood needsAhvaz, Khuzestan Province[11]Size: SmallDemographic: RetireesIzeh, Khuzestan Province[12]Size: SmallDemographic: Children singing “Baraaye” by the grave of killed protester Hamed SalahshourZanjan City, Zanjan Province[13]Size: SmallDemographic: Teachers demanding the government to pay their salaries and address their livelihood needsCTP assesses with low confidence that protests occurred in the following locations:Kermanshah City, Kermanshah Province[14]Size: SmallDemographic: Teachers demanding the government to address their livelihood needsBaneh, Kurdistan Province[15]Size: SmallDemographic: Teachers demanding the government to address their livelihood needsBojnord, North Khorasan Province[16]Size: SmallDemographic: Teachers demanding the government to address their livelihood needsLaw Enforcement Command (LEC) Chief Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Radan stated that the LEC is attempting to increase police officer capabilities—in line with guidelines issued by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei— in Shiraz, Fars Province on March 28. Radan discussed internal security with Fars Province Supreme Leader Representative Ayatollah Loftollah Dezkham, who urged the Iranian public to issue “verbal reminders” on chastity and state-imposed, mandatory veiling standards.[17] LEC Political and Ideological Affairs Head Alireza Aydani separately stated that the LEC would deal decisively with “disorder, sedition, and rioting” on March 28.[18]Economic AffairsRaisi administration officials continued to discuss Iran’s economic problems without presenting meaningful solutions to alleviate them on March 28. President Ebrahim Raisi ordered Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare Minister Sowlat Mortazavi to create employment opportunities in “provinces with high unemployment rates” during a meeting of the Supreme Employment Council on March 28.[19] Central Bank of Iran Governor Mohammad Reza Farzin separately stated that the Central Bank is “trying its hardest” to reduce inflation on March 27.[20] Program and Budget Organization Head Massoud Mir Kazemi similarly stated that if the government “acts seriously,” it will be able to reduce Iran’s inflation to below 20 percent on March 27.[21] Neither Farzin nor Kazemi specified how the government should reduce inflation, however. Various government officials and institutions announced in recent days that Iran‘s inflation rate is between 40 to 50 percent, as CTP previously reported.[22] The government’s inability to address Iran’s worsening economic conditions will likely fuel further frustration among the population. CTP recorded nine economically motivated protests on March 28 alone.The Iranian rial depreciated from 511,500 rials to one US dollar on March 27 to 524,500 rials to one US dollar on March 28.[23]Foreign Policy and DiplomacyForeign Affairs Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian stated on March 27 that Iran responded to an invitation by Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for President Ebrahim Raisi to visit Saudi Arabia at an unspecified date. Amir Abdollahian told Al Jazeera correspondent Ali Hashem that Iran will offer to reciprocally host the monarch.[24] UK-based Amwaj Media separately reported on March 28 that such official visits will likely occur in the early summer, when embassies are estimated to reopen.[25]The Egyptian Tourism Ministry announced on March 28 that Egypt will soon grant visas upon arrival for some Iranians entering South Sinai. The ministry added that Egypt will “evaluate the experience of [Iranians’] arrival in South Sinai as a first step, and building on that, determine if [Iranians] will be admitted in other places."[26]External Security and Military AffairsAt least three protests occurred in three cities across three provinces in Iraq on March 28. CTP assesses with high confidence that two protest occurred in the following location:Al Hilla, Babil Province[27]Size: MediumProtester Activity: Protester chanted calling to remove Iraqi Parliamentary Speaker from officeNasiriyah, Dhi Qar Province[28]Size: MediumProtester Activity: Protesters held a sit-in at al Halbousi SquareProtest Suppression: Unidentified security forces dispersed protesters at al Halbousi Square; Unidentified security forces burned down and disassembled protesters’ tents and removed concrete barriers from local roadsSamawah, Muthanna Province[29]Size: SmallProtester Activity: Protesters displayed anti-Coordination Framework postersThe Emtidad Movement – an independent political bloc in Iraqi Parliament – announced that the party submitted an appeal on March 27 to overturn a list of election laws passed on March 26.[30] The Emtidad Movement claimed that Iraqi Parliamentary Speaker Mohammed al Halbousi violated parliamentary procedures by removing several members of independent political parties from the voting session on March 26 following an argument between Coordination Framework members and independent political parties.[31]A senior unnamed Sadrist official claimed that the State of Law Coalition-backed election laws will not impact the Sadrist Movement.[32] The official argued that Sadrist Movement followers are loyal, and that the movement can position itself to undermine attempts to block the movement from obtaining seats in parliament. The same official claimed that Moqtada al Sadr – the head of the Sadrist Movement – has not given instructions for the political party to participate in local or legislative elections.An IRGC Quds Force delegation visited locations struck by US airstrikes in Deir ez Zor Province, Syria on March 27, likely to assess and reconstitute forces. IRGC Central Support officer Hajj Shafea – a likely nom de guerre– led a delegation from Damascus to Dier ez Zor Province to visit Iranian-backed militia positions damaged by US airstrikes on March 24, according to the independent Syrian media outlet Sada al Sharqieh.[33] Anti-Syrian regime media outlet Eye of the Euphrates reported that senior IRGC Quds Force leaders held a private meeting to identify leaks within Iranian-backed militias and expand recruitment efforts on March 27.[34] Turkish-based news outlet Syria TV reported IRGC Quds Force leadership held a separate meeting with tribal Sheiks in Deir ez Zor City on March 27 to discuss establishing a new tribal militia with 2,000 members.[35]The Israeli Mossad issued a statement announcing that it aided Greek authorities thwart a plot by two Pakistani nationals with connections to Iran to attack Israeli and Jewish targets in Greece.[36] The Mossad added that the Pakistani individuals were members of a “wide Iranian network that operates from Iran and out of many countries.”[37]The US and UK jointly sanctioned seven individuals affiliated with Lebanese Hezbollah and the Assad regime for their involvement in the production and exportation of captagon.[38] The UK government issued a statement describing captagon as a “financial lifeline” for the Assad regime worth 57 billion US dollars.[39] Captagon is a highly addictive amphetamine drug with approximately 80 percent of its supply originating from Syria.[40] The sanctioned individuals are closely involved with Lebanese Hezbollah and the Syrian Arab Army’s captagon manufacturing and smuggling operations.[41][1] https://defapress dot ir/fa/news/580534/%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%86%DB%8C%D8%AA-%D9%85%D8%B1%D8%AF%D9%85-%D8%AE%D8%B7-%D9%82%D8%B1%D9%85%D8%B2-%D8%B3%D9%BE%D8%A7%D9%87-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA[2] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-september-28 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-february-1-2023#_edn1d4200a601c1f57650da25680a490e6dref7 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-21-2023#_edn2eb8eab8d781ff99d635e1fbeacbf96cref7[3] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-october-21#_edn1384127f8b5d8a4d9176f016fae1b18fref1 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-november-5 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-december-21 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-january-27-2023#_edn026d00ed2291d3835c561b150b40d4b1ref17 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-february-10-2023#_edne11dd123cc432c1e2defbdbb78d95a09ref9[4] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-24-2023[5] https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1640073344161574915?s=20[6] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-january-19-2023[7] https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1640699509654134788?cxt=HHwWiIC9gdzg98QtAAAA ;https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1640668422538182656?cxt=HHwWgIC2-ZrP6cQtAAAA ;https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1640806660821209104?cxt=HHwWoMC-td69qMUtAAAA[8] https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1640704779893481473?cxt=HHwWgoCxrb6T-sQtAAAA ;https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1640689306783170561?cxt=HHwWgoC-2eqO88QtAAAA[9] https://twitter.com/RadioFarda_/status/1640732550925635584?cxt=HHwWgMC-1fzjhsUtAAAA ;https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1640697784159313920?cxt=HHwWgICxiaT89sQtAAAA ;https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1640660361887072258?cxt=HHwWhIC-tYL65cQtAAAA ;https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1640733905278959617?cxt=HHwWgoC8seeyh8UtAAAA[10] https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1640701318313525249?cxt=HHwWgoC-yf_J-MQtAAAA ;https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1640684288860385282?cxt=HHwWhMCzoeDq8MQtAAAA[11] https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1640667037121773568?cxt=HHwWgICw5cj-6MQtAAAA ;https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1640665687432519681?cxt=HHwWgoCz6YCw6MQtAAAA ;https://twitter.com/RadioFarda_/status/1640668447955734536?cxt=HHwWkMC-qdjQ6cQtAAAA[12] https://twitter.com/RadioFarda_/status/1640817323685675008?cxt=HHwWgIC8-bKqrcUtAAAA ;https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1640785367245660175?cxt=HHwWnoCx9aTmnsUtAAAA[13] https://twitter.com/RadioFarda_/status/1640732550925635584?cxt=HHwWgMC-1fzjhsUtAAAA ;https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1640703134040293380?cxt=HHwWiIC85dez-cQtAAAA ;https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1640684288860385282?cxt=HHwWhMCzoeDq8MQtAAAA ;https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1640734083595620353?cxt=HHwWgsC--Ze9h8UtAAAA[14] https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1640678095039483912?cxt=HHwWkMC-2ZyC7sQtAAAA ;https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1640668422538182656?cxt=HHwWgIC2-ZrP6cQtAAAA[15] https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1640676291002204168?cxt=HHwWkIC8yZuZ7cQtAAAA[16] https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1640689306783170561?cxt=HHwWgoC-2eqO88QtAAAA[17] https://www.tasnimnews dot com/fa/news/1402/01/08/2872543/سردار-رادان-پلیس-جمع-آوری-مقتدرانه-معتادان-متجاهر-و-سارقان-را-آغاز-کرد[18] https://www.ilna dot ir/%D8%A8%D8%AE%D8%B4-%D8%A7%D8%AC%D8%AA%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B9%DB%8C-5/1343869-%D9%85%D8%AC%D9%85%D9%88%D8%B9%D9%87-%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%B8%D8%A7%D9%85%DB%8C-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%AE%D8%AF%D9%85%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%86%DB%8C%D8%AA-%DA%A9%D8%B4%D9%88%D8%B1-%D9%85%D8%B1%D8%AF%D9%85-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA[19] https://www dot irna dot ir/news/85068344/%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%88%D8%B1%DB%8C%D8%AA-%D9%88%DB%8C%DA%98%D9%87-%D8%B1%D8%A6%DB%8C%D8%B3-%D8%AC%D9%85%D9%87%D9%88%D8%B1-%D8%A8%D9%87-%D9%88%D8%B2%DB%8C%D8%B1-%DA%A9%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D8%B4%D8%AA%D8%BA%D8%A7%D9%84-%D8%A2%D9%81%D8%B1%DB%8C%D9%86%DB%8C-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%87%D8%A7%DB%8C[20] https://www dot irna dot ir/news/85068389/%D8%AA%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%B4-%D9%85%DB%8C-%DA%A9%D9%86%DB%8C%D9%85-%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%85-%D8%B1%D8%A7-%D8%A8%D9%87-%DA%A9%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%A7%D9%84-%DB%B2%DB%B0-%D8%AA%D8%A7-%DB%B3%DB%B0-%D8%AF%D8%B1%D8%B5%D8%AF-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C%D9%85[21] https://www dot irna dot ir/news/85068395/%D9%85%DB%8C%D8%B1%DA%A9%D8%A7%D8%B8%D9%85%DB%8C-%D9%85%DB%8C-%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C%D9%85-%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%85-%D8%B1%D8%A7-%D8%A8%D9%87-%D8%B2%DB%8C%D8%B1-%DB%B3%DB%B0-%D8%AF%D8%B1%D8%B5%D8%AF-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C%D9%85[22] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-27-2023[23] https://bonbast dot com/[24] https://alkhaleejonline dot news/%D8%B3%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%A9/%D8%A5%D9%8A%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%AA%D8%B9%D8%AA%D8%B2%D9%85-%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%AC%D9%8A%D9%87-%D8%AF%D8%B9%D9%88%D8%A9-%D8%A5%D9%84%D9%89-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%A7%D9%87%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D8%B9%D9%88%D8%AF%D9%8A-%D9%84%D8%B2%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%AA%D9%87%D8%A7[25] https://amwaj.media/media-monitor/after-invitation-by-king-salman-iran-set-to-reciprocate-saudi-offer[26] https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/egypt-allow-iranians-visas-arrival-sinai-regional-tensions-ease-2023-03-28/[27] https://t.me/sabreenS1/72809 ;[28] https://t.me/wa3ediq/66933 ; https://twitter.com/Tammuz_Intel/status/1640696931180593158 ; https://twitter.com/nasiriyahnews/status/1640283387016495104 ; https://twitter.com/Gil_msh1/status/1640659149452107777?s=20[29] https://twitter.com/AlmirbadMedia/status/1640780928975773711[30] https://www dot alaraby.co.uk/node/6323527[31] https://shafaq dot com/ar/%D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%A9/%D8%A8%D8%AF%D8%B9%D9%85-%D8%B3%D9%86%D9%8A-%D9%88%D9%83%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%AF%D9%8A-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%82%D9%84%D9%88%D9%86-%D9%8A%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%86%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A8%D8%AF-%D8%AC%D8%B1%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D9 https://shafaq dot com/ar/%D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%A9/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A8%D8%B1%D9%84%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%8A%D8%B3%D8%AA-%D9%86%D9%81-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%B5%D9%88%D9%8A%D8%AA-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89-%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A8%D8%B9%D8%AF-%D8%AE%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%AC-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%B9%D8%AA%D8%B1%D8%B6%D9%8A%D9%86 %84%D8%A8%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%8A ;[32] https://shafaq dot com/ar/%D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%A9/%D9%84%D9%85-%D8%AA%D8%B5%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84-%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%B1-%D8%A8%D8%B9%D8%AF-%D8%AA%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%82-%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B5%D8%AF%D8%B1%D9%8A-%D8%A8%D8%B4-%D9%86-%D9%82%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA-%D9%84%D9%8A%D8%BA%D9%88[33] https://www.facebook.com/SadaAlSharqieh/posts/pfbid0BWqwwD4SmezZFhD5QCkKqz2aPqcqU1j4nJoxcYZo8WRiNng3HkgyzcYCVLnMkFgil[34] https://eyeofeuphrates dot com/index.php/ar/news/2023/03/27/8078[35] https://www.syria dot tv/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AB%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D9%8A%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%8A-%D9%8A%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%88%D9%84-%D8%AA%D8%B4%D9%83%D9%8A%D9%84-%D9%85%D9%8A%D9%84%D9%8A%D8%B4%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D9%82%D8%A8%D9%84%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%82%D9%88%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%86%D9%81%D9%88%D8%B0%D9%87-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%B4%D8%B1%D9%82-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7 ;https://www.jesrpress dot com/%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%ad%d8%b1%d8%b3-%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%ab%d9%88%d8%b1%d9%8a-%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%a5%d9%8a%d8%b1%d8%a7%d9%86%d9%8a-%d9%8a%d8%b4%d8%af%d8%af-%d9%82%d8%a8%d8%b6%d8%aa%d9%87-%d8%b9%d9%84%d9%89-%d9%82/ ;[36] https://www dot timesofisrael dot com/liveblog_entry/mossad-says-it-helped-foil-planned-iranian-attack-on-jewish-targets-in-greece/[37] https://www dot timesofisrael dot com/liveblog_entry/mossad-says-it-helped-foil-planned-iranian-attack-on-jewish-targets-in-greece/[38] https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy1369; https://www.gov.uk/government/news/tackling-the-illicit-drug-trade-fuelling-assads-war-machine[39] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/tackling-the-illicit-drug-trade-fuelling-assads-war-machine[40] https://www.al-monitor.com/originals/2023/03/new-us-sanctions-target-syrias-captagon-trade-linked-assad[41] https://newlinesinstitute.org/power-vacuums-program/special-captagon-trade-project/

[Author: ISWKF] [Category: Iran]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 3/28/23 7:59pm
Karolina Hird, Riley Bailey, Kateryna Stepanenko, George Barros, and Frederick W. KaganMarch 28, 6:30pm ET Click here to see ISW’s interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.Click here to access ISW’s archive of interactive time-lapse maps of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These maps complement the static control-of-terrain maps that ISW produces daily by showing a dynamic frontline. ISW will update this time-lapse map archive monthly.Wagner Group forces have likely taken the AZOM industrial complex in northern Bakhmut and continue to make gains within the city. Russian milbloggers widely claimed on March 28 that Wagner fighters have captured the AZOM complex and are working to clear the area of remaining Ukrainian forces.[1] These claims are relatively consistent with available visual evidence of Russian presence in the AZOM complex. Geolocated footage posted on March 26 shows a military correspondent from Russian outlet RIA Novosti moving around the territory of the complex with apparent ease, indicating that Wagner likely controls enough of the plant to host media personalities in relative safety.[2] RIA Novosti correspondent Sergei Shilov additionally visited AZOM on March 28 and indicated that fighting has now moved to the industrial zone south of AZOM.[3] Several Russian milbloggers also claimed on March 28 that Wagner fighters have advanced closer to Bakhmut’s city center, taken control of the city market, and reached the Palace of Culture.[4] These claims are plausible considering geolocated visual evidence of Wagner’s advances towards the city center posted on March 28, as well as combat footage of Ukrainian infantry engaging in small arms exchanges with Russian forces near the Palace of Culture and central market area in Bakhmut city’s center.[5] Wagner is likely working to consolidate gains in northern and central Bakhmut to push towards the city center and expand its zone of control into western Bakhmut. ISW assesses that Russian forces have advanced into an additional five percent of Bakhmut in the last seven days and that they currently occupy roughly 65 percent of the city.Russian and Ukrainian sources speculated that Lieutenant General Sergei Kuzmenko will replace Colonel General Rustam Muradov as Eastern Military District (EMD) commander.[6] Kuzmenko previously served as the commander of the 6th Combined Arms Army from 2015 to 2019 and more recently as a department head at the Russian Armed Forces General Staff Academy.[7] Kuzmenko has never held a command position comparable to the role of a military district commander, and his appointment as EMD commander would be an unusual step. Russian military authorities reportedly dismissed Muradov due to battlefield failures and significant losses in western Donetsk Oblast, and Kuzmenko would likely inherit expectations to reverse the total lack of progress in the EMD’s zone of responsibility in Ukraine.[8] There is no indication that Kuzmenko would be better equipped to succeed in overseeing offensive operations in western Donetsk Oblast with even further degraded forces than the more experienced Muradov. ISW has not observed any confirmation that Russian military officials have dismissed Muradov as EMD commander or that Kuzmenko has assumed the role.Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin may be using his influence in Russia’s mainstream media landscape to present himself as a contender in Russia’s 2024 presidential elections. Prigozhin’s own Federal News Agency published an interview that Prigozhin conducted with Russian journalists from Russia Today, RIA Novosti and Federal News Agency on March 14.[9] This interview was noteworthy for its unique format--during the interview Prigozhin seemed to mimic the way that Russian President Vladimir Putin films his choreographed public meetings, either to mock Putin quietly or to suggest subtly that Prigozhin could become Russian president like Putin. The choreography and staging of Prigozhin’s interview places Prigozhin in the camera’s frame at Prigozhin’s desk across from his audience in the same way that Putin’s filmed meetings and photo ops usually do.[10] This film style is unusual for Prigozhin, as Prigozhin’s public video statements typically do not employ such a sterile format; Prigozhin has usually opted to film himself with wide shots on battlefields or in dynamic but staged videos that strive to appear candid and gritty.[11] Prigozhin also used this interview to reiterate his previous arguments about the need to instill hardline ideology in Russian fighters and insinuate that the Russian Ministry of Defense is deliberately depriving the Wagner Group of artillery ammunition.[12]Prigozhin may seek to parody Putin’s cinematography style as part of a larger trolling campaign to attack the Kremlin or draw tacit parallels between Prigozhin and the office of the Russian presidency. Prigozhin has previously insinuated that he could replace Putin. Prigozhin made a sarcastic announcement on March 11 that he will run for the Ukrainian presidency in 2024 — a statement that a prominent Kremlin-linked Russian scholar argued implicitly promoted a narrative that Prigozhin would run in Russia’s presidential elections which are also scheduled for 2024.[13] Prigozhin directly attacked Putin’s presidential administration on January 18 and insinuated that some officials working there are traitors who want Russia to lose the war in Ukraine — one of Prigozhin’s boldest attacks against the Kremlin to date.[14] Prigozhin also denied the Kremlin’s claims that Russia is fighting NATO in Ukraine and questioned whether there are actually Nazis in Ukraine as the Kremlin — and specifically Putin — constantly claims.[15] Prigozhin’s recent behavior — regardless of its intent — is advancing a narrative among Russian society that Prigozhin has larger political aspirations in Russia. Former Russian officer and convicted war criminal Igor Girkin (one of Prigozhin’s critics) joked on March 26 that Prigozhin is like Julius Caesar, except that Julius Caesar first achieved military victories before agitating for his political advancement — likely referring to Prigozhin’s failure to deliver on his reported promise to capture Bakhmut by September 2022.[16]High-ranking Russian officials continue a campaign begun in December 2022 to set domestic conditions for a protracted war both in private and in public. The Guardian, citing anonymous internal sources, reported on March 28 that Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told a group of Russian political and cultural elite that “things will get much harder” and that the current situation (in reference to the war) “will take a very, very, long time” during a private dinner in December 2022.[17] Peskov’s reported warning supports ISW’s assessment that Russian authorities have been preparing multiple aspects of Russian society for a protracted war through careful setting of information conditions and engagement of the Russian defense industrial base (DIB) since the end of 2022.[18] Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu relatedly visited artillery shell production facilities in Chelyabinsk and Kirov oblasts on March 28 and claimed that Russian ammunition production has increased significantly over the past year, promising that production will increase a further seven to eight times for certain unspecified artillery products by the end of the year.[19] Shoigu’s visit to artillery factories is the latest in a slew of choreographed visits to DIB facilities by various Russian officials and is part of a concerted effort to present the Russian DIB as effective in advance of a protracted war effort.[20]The Russian budget continues to reflect the overall costs of Russia’s war in Ukraine. Bloomberg reported on March 28 that Russia has classified an unprecedented one-third of its entire budget expenditures and noted that classified spending as of March 24 is twice as high as it was during the same period in 2022.[21] Bloomberg also found that Russian defense and security spending is the second largest budget category after spending on social programs.[22] Bloomberg concluded that the classified share of the Russian budget will account for nearly a quarter of all expenditures for the whole of 2023 and will be due to an increase in expenses classed as “other expenses in the field of national defense.”[23] Russian outlet RBC relatedly reported on March 28 that the Russian Ministry of Finance plans to submit a proposal to reduce the number of federal state institutions subordinate to federal authorities in order to increase the efficiency of budget expenditure management.[24] Such expenditure manipulations suggest that Russia is trying to cut spending in a variety of spheres to support increased defense spending, further responding to costs associated with the war and setting conditions for a long war.Key TakeawaysWagner Group forces have likely taken the AZOM industrial complex in northern Bakhmut and continue to make gains within the city.Russian and Ukrainian sources speculated that Lieutenant General Sergei Kuzmenko will replace Colonel General Rustam Muradov as Eastern Military District (EMD) commander.Wagner Group Financier Yevgeny Prigozhin may be using his influence in Russia’s mainstream media landscape to present himself as a potential contender in Russia’s 2024 presidential elections.High-ranking Russian officials continue to set domestic conditions for a protracted war.The cost of Russia’s war in Ukraine is likely continuing to consume a substantial portion of the Russian Federal Budget.Russian forces continued ground attacks along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line.Russian forces continued offensive operations in and around Bakhmut and along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City frontline.Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted localized ground attacks in Zaporizhia Oblast.Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree removing the upper age limit for Russian National Guard (Rosgvardia) servicemen serving in occupied Ukraine until January 1, 2026.Russian occupation officials continue efforts to expand Russia’s bureaucratic and administrative control of occupied areas of Ukraine.The Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed on March 28 Belarus’ intent to host Russian tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus as Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on March 25. We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because those activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We will continue to evaluate and report on the effects of these criminal activities on the Ukrainian military and population and specifically on combat in Ukrainian urban areas. We utterly condemn these Russian violations of the laws of armed conflict, Geneva Conventions, and humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.Russian Main Effort—Eastern Ukraine (comprised of two subordinate main efforts)Russian Subordinate Main Effort #1—Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and encircle northern Donetsk OblastRussian Subordinate Main Effort #2—Capture the entirety of Donetsk OblastRussian Supporting Effort—Southern AxisRussian Mobilization and Force Generation EffortsActivities in Russian-occupied AreasRussian Main Effort—Eastern UkraineRussian Subordinate Main Effort #1— Luhansk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and continue offensive operations into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and northern Donetsk Oblast)Russian forces continued ground attacks along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line on March 28. The Ukrainian General Staff stated that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations near Krokhmalne (20km northwest of Svatove), Kuzmyne (3km southwest of Kreminna), Bilohorivka (10km south of Kreminna), Verkhnokamyanske (18km south of Kreminna), and Berestove (30km south of Kreminna).[25] Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Serhiy Cherevaty reported on March 28 that there were 13 combat clashes along this line in the last day and that while Russian forces have concentrated some of their best troops in this area, they are suffering widespread shortages in armored vehicles.[26] The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that elements of the Russian Western Grouping of Forces (Western Military District) disrupted the transfer of Ukrainian reserves northeast of Kupyansk near Hryanykivka (20km northeast of Kupyansk) and Synkivka (7km northeast of Kupyansk).[27] Geolocated footage posted on March 28 indicates that Ukrainian forces have made a limited advance in a forest area near Dibrova, about 6km west of Kreminna.[28] Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) Head Denis Pushilin claimed that Russian forces have recently made unspecified advances west of Kreminna in the Lyman direction.[29]Russian Subordinate Main Effort #2—Donetsk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)Russian forces continued offensive operations in and around Bakhmut on March 28 and have made advances within the city. Geolocated footage published on March 28 suggests that Russian forces likely advanced in southern Bakhmut and up to the Bakhmut City Market in Central Bakhmut.[30] A Russian milblogger claimed on March 27 that Russian forces established sufficient river crossings across the Bakhmutka river and that fighting in Bakhmut is increasingly shifting to western parts of the city.[31] The milblogger also claimed that Russian forces continued offensive operations south and east of Ivanivske but have not managed to advance closer to the T0504 highway as of March 27.[32] Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) head Denis Pushilin claimed on March 28 that the Russian grouping of forces near Mayorsk (20km southwest of Bakhmut) does not currently have immediate orders for offensives.[33] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations on Bakhmut itself, within 11km northwest of Bakhmut near Orikhovo-Vasylivka and Bohdanivka, and within 16km southwest of Bakhmut near Ivanivske and Ozarianivka.[34] Ukrainian Eastern Grouping of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Serhiy Cherevaty reported on March 28 that there were 19 combat clashes in the Bakhmut area with 14 directly in Bakhmut itself.[35]Russian forces may be regrouping in the Bakhmut area. Cherevaty reported that the tempo of Russian offensive operations in and around Bakhmut has decreased over the past three days and that this may indicate that Russian forces are regrouping.[36] ISW previously assessed that Russian forces may be diverting Russian forces and resources away from the Bakhmut area to intensify offensives on Avdiivka, although Russian forces may choose to recommit personnel and resources to offensive operations on Bakhmut after a potential regrouping their forces.[37] Russian forces may need to regroup around Bakhmut because the Wagner Group has increasingly expended its pool of convict recruits, both during attritional assaults on the battlefield and as a large portion of convicts complete their six-month contracts and return to Russia.[38] Russian forces could conduct a regrouping in and around Bakhmut and add a larger proportion of conventional forces to what remains of the Wagner Group contingent in the area. Such a Russian regrouping would likely allow Russian forces to intensify offensive operations in and around Bakhmut and possibly secure gains at a more significant rate.Russian forces continued offensive operations along the Avdiivka–Donetsk City frontline on March 28. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations near Avdiivka itself, Stepove (7km northwest of Avdiivka), and within 27km southwest of Avdiivka near Sieverne, Pervomaiske, Nevelske, and Marinka.[39] A Russian milblogger claimed on March 27 that Russian forces are attempting to move further west of Kamianka (5km northeast of Avdiivka) aiming to encircle Avdiivka.[40] Ukrainian Tavriisk Defense Forces Spokesperson Colonel Oleksiy Dmytrashkivskyi reported on March 27 that Russian forces are considering the withdrawal of the 200th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade (14th Army Corps, Northern Fleet) and the 72nd Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade (3rd Army Corps, Western Military District) from the Avdiivka-Marinka area combat zone for replenishment.[41] The United Kingdom Ministry of Defense (UK MoD) reported on March 28 that the 10th Tank Regiment (3rd Army Corps, Western Military District) likely lost a large portion of its tanks in efforts to surround Avdiivka from the south in recent days.[42] Elements of the 3rd Army Corps likely suffered significant losses during Ukrainian counteroffensive operations in Kharkiv Oblast in September of 2022, and the formations deployed to the outskirts of Donetsk City may be the remaining combat effective elements of the 3rd Army Corps or other already degraded formations.[43] Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) Head Denis Pushilin claimed that elements of the DNR 1st Army Corps including the ”Sparta“ Battalion, the “Somali“ Battalion, and the 11th Regiment are conducting assault operations in various directions in the Avdiivka area but that Russian forces are not close to capturing Avdiivka.[44] A Russian milblogger amplified footage of the DNR 9thBrigade (formerly the 9th regiment of the DNR People’s Militia) operating near Pervomaiske (11km southwest of Avdiivka).[45] Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin denied Ukrainian reports that Wagner Group fighters are planning to deploy to the Avdiivka area and stated that Wagner fighters have never fought in the area, although an obituary for a seasoned Wagner fighter claims that the fighter died in the Avdiivka area.[46]Russian forces did not conduct any confirmed ground attacks in western Donetsk Oblast on March 28. Pushilin claimed that there are positional battles near Vuhledar (30km southwest of Donetsk City) and that Ukrainian forces continue to conduct reconnaissance-in-force operations in the area.[47] Dmytrashkivskyi reported that Russian forces recently introduced two unspecified tank units and a special unit of the 98th Airborne (VDV) Division to replenish elements of the 155th Naval Infantry Brigade of the Pacific Fleet in the last week.[48] The 155thNaval Infantry Brigade previously suffered significant losses in offensive operations in the Vuhledar area in early 2023, and Russian forces may be attempting to reconstitute the unit to resume offensive operations on Vuhledar. Russian forces have reportedly reconstituted the 155th Naval Infantry Brigade as many as eight times, and it is unlikely that another reconstitution would result in the combat effectiveness needed for resumed offensive operations.[49] The commitment of limited Airborne elements, on the other hand, might support resumed tactical offensives of limited scope and duration.Supporting Effort—Southern Axis (Russian objective: Maintain frontline positions and secure rear areas against Ukrainian strikes)Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted localized attacks in Zaporizhia Oblast. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that Ukrainian forces unsuccessfully attempted to advance towards unspecified Russian positions from Lukyanivske (about 32km southeast of Zaporizhzhia City).[50] The Russian MoD claimed that Ukrainian forces sought to exploit poor weather in the area to advance on the frontline. Zaporizhia Oblast Occupation Head Yevgeny Balitsky claimed that Russian forces are continuing to repel Ukrainian reconnaissance-in-force attempts in occupied Zaporizhia Oblast.[51] Balitsky claimed that Ukrainian forces launched six HIMARS rockets at an educational facility in Melitopol on March 27, and Ukrainian Melitopol Mayor Ivan Fedorov reported that Ukrainian forces struck a Russian force concentration area in the city.[52] Fedorov also reported on March 28 that a power substation exploded in Fedorivka (about 17km northwest of Melitopol) under unspecified circumstances.[53]Russian forces are continuing to fortify and reinforce their positions in southern Ukraine out of concerns for a Ukrainian counteroffensive. Balitsky claimed that the Russian military command staffed Russian regiments at 15% of their usual strength in fall of 2022.[54] Balitsky noted that he could not assess how well-prepared Russian forces are for a claimed future Ukrainian counteroffensive and stated that combat will reveal the level of Russian preparations in occupied Zaporizhia Oblast. Satellite imagery also showed Russian forces digging new trenches along the roads leading into northern Crimea.[55]Russian forces reportedly decreased the intensity of shelling in Kherson Oblast. Head of the United Coordination Press Center of the Southern Defense Forces, Nataliya Humenyuk, stated on March 28 that Russian forces have not shelled the Dnipro-Bug Estuary from the Kinburn Spit over the past three days due to poor weather conditions.[56] Humenyuk noted that Ukrainian strikes on Russian ammunition warehouses and artillery systems are undermining Russian logistics and forcing Russian forces to decrease their activities on the east (left) bank of the Dnipro River.Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts (Russian objective: Expand combat power without conducting general mobilization)Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on March 27 removing the upper age limit from Russian National Guard (Rosgvardia) servicemen serving in occupied Ukrainian territories until January 1, 2026.[57] The decree also notes that prospective Rosgvardia servicemen in occupied territories may undergo military medical examination in absentia to determine their eligibility for service. The decree notes that men interested in Rosgvardia service will not undergo psychological assessments and can provide alternative personal documents and testimonies to those previously specified in the 2011 law on service in Russian law enforcement organizations. Mariupol Mayoral Advisor Petro Andryushchenko noted that this decree allows the Kremlin to recruit residents of occupied territories without a Russian passport.[58] This decree likely seeks to expand recruitment into Rosgvardia alongside the Kremlin’s other recruitment campaigns.The Kremlin continues to recruit contract servicemen in Russia and to conduct crypto-mobilization in occupied Ukraine. The Republic of Bashkortostan is forming two more volunteer battalions: the “Severnye Amury” and “Dayan Murzin” battalions.[59] The Tyumen Oblast military recruitment center opened 52 employment vacancies offering military contract service, and ISW previously observed similar recruitment advertisements on employment websites over the summer of 2022.[60] Russian officials are also continuing to financially incentivize men and their families to sign military contracts.[61] The Luhansk Oblast Military Administration reported on March 28 that the Russian occupation administration is refusing to demobilize students. The Luhansk Oblast Military Administration added that Russian officials mobilized 654 students of whom 300 are currently fighting in Ukraine.Russian independent outlet Novaya Gazeta Europe described the current force composition of Russian irregular and volunteer armed formations operating in Ukraine. The outlet, citing an unnamed Russian expert, reported that there are 12 BARS (Russian Combat Army Reserve) battalions with 400 to 500 people each and eight BARS detachments of 150 to 250 people each fighting in Ukraine.[62] The expert noted that BARS is subordinated to the Union of Donbas Volunteers but legally operates under the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD). BARS reportedly trained at the Chechen SPETSNAZ University before arriving in Ukraine and has received ammunition from the Russian MoD. The expert noted that former Donbas commanders usually command BARS units, which can make them more effective than volunteer battalions directly subordinated to the Russian MoD. The expert also noted that Russian volunteer units are placed under Russian military commanders upon their arrival at a specific frontline. Russian volunteers arriving in Donbas would be placed into the central grouping of Russian forces, for example. These volunteers are treated as reinforcements, and it is likely that the Russian military command will continue to use incoming volunteers to patch up units on the frontlines.Novaya Gazeta Europe also described the summer 2022 volunteer recruitment campaign. One expert told the outlet that the Russian military command decided to form the 3rd Army Corps likely without legal grounds and without following necessary regulations. The Russian military command ordered Russian federal subjects to recruit between 120 and 1,400 volunteers each, and Novaya Gazeta Europe estimates that 10,000 to 15,000 Russian volunteers deployed to Ukraine over summer 2022 prior to mobilization. Novaya Gazeta Europe noted that the Russian MoD and the presidential administration likely did not keep official track of volunteer formations. The expert observed that volunteer units received different treatment on the battlefield if regional heads endeavored to advocate for their armed formations to the Russian MoD. The expert also recalled instances when regional officials entered their own last names on volunteer lists and received veteran statuses without fighting in the war. Regional officials stopped releasing information about deceased volunteers and silenced families by threatening to remove social benefits relating the death of their relatives.Russian ultranationalist publication Tsargrad criticized the Russian MoD and Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu for the poor treatment and exclusion of Russian volunteer forces amidst the renewed Russian volunteer recruitment campaign. Tsargrad accused the Russian MoD of failing to recognize the participation of at least a third of all volunteers in the war, and claimed that Russian conventional forces abandoned volunteers on collapsing frontlines in Kharkiv Oblast and Lyman in fall 2022. Chairman of the Union of Donbas Volunteers, State Duma Parliamentarian Alexander Boroday noted that the Russian MoD’s selection and limitations on volunteers “cuts off from volunteering a number of combat-ready people, veterans.” Another representative of the Union of Donbas Volunteers stated that the Russian MoD is continuing to adapt to “inappropriate peacetime norms.” Tsargrad’s numerous references to members of the Union of Donbas Volunteers, including Boroday, are peculiar, given that Boroday reportedly manages the BARS forces.[63] The criticism resembles that of Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin, who had used attacks on the Russian MoD to promote recruitment into Wagner.Russian security and bureaucratic measures in Rostov Oblast are likely slowing down the transfer of Russian supplies to the frontlines. Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian customs detained cargoes with drones and other supply transfers due to bureaucratic processes.[64] Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) Head Denis Pushilin also noted that Russia had not resolved issues with long lines at checkpoints between occupied Donetsk Oblast and Russia.[65]The Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported that a convoy of five Russian Z-STS armored vehicles belonging to the 34th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade of the 49th Combined Arms Army crashed due to speeding on the Kerch Strait Bridge.[66] The incident resulted in significant damage to four of five vehicles.Activity in Russian-occupied Areas (Russian objective: consolidate administrative control of annexed areas; forcibly integrate Ukrainian civilians into Russian sociocultural, economic, military, and governance systems)Russian occupation officials continue efforts to expand Russia’s bureaucratic and administrative control of occupied areas of Ukraine. Zaporizhia Oblast occupation head Yevgeny Balitsky stated during a live Rossiya-24 broadcast on March 27 that the occupation administration must rapidly develop infrastructure in Zaporizhia Oblast to accommodate the influx of teachers, civil servants, doctors, and law enforcement personnel arriving from Russia.[67] The apparent immigration of Russian citizens to staff administrative and law enforcement roles in occupied areas suggests that occupying officials are struggling to fill these positions using willing and loyal local collaborators and also may suggest that Russian officials are trying to repopulate areas of Ukraine with imported Russian citizens as part of a wider depopulation-repopulation campaign.[68] Balitsky also claimed that 40 percent of citizens of occupied Zaporizhia Oblast hold Russian passports and that the occupation administration is facing the issue of effective distributing of passports in a way that matches high demand.[69] Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) Head Denis Pushilin similarly claimed that the passport distribution system in occupied Donetsk Oblast is overwhelmed with interest in Russian passports.[70]Russian occupation officials continue to pursue increased connectivity between occupied areas of Ukraine and Russia. Kherson Oblast occupation head Vladimir Saldo stated that Russian officials hope to open a railway between occupied Kherson Oblast and occupied Crimea before the start of the summer tourist season.[71] Balitsky similarly claimed that his administration has already allocated funds for the construction of a four-lane road along the Sea of Azov that will connect Dzhankoi, occupied Crimea, to Rostov Oblast through Berdyansk, occupied Zaporizhia Oblast.[72] Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) Head Denis Pushilin similarly lauded efforts to create a ferry line between Mariupol, occupied Donetsk Oblast and areas in occupied Crimea and Sochi, Krasnodar Krai.[73]Russian occupation officials are struggling to fully implement the use of rubles in occupied areas of Ukraine. The Kherson Oblast occupation administration warned locals on March 28 that anyone who refuses to accept rubles or attempts to sabotage ruble use in occupied Kherson Oblast will face criminal prosecution.[74] The punitive approach to coercing ruble use indicates that occupation officials have largely failed to otherwise incentivize the rubleization process.Significant activity in Belarus (ISW assesses that a Russian or Belarusian attack into northern Ukraine in early 2023 is extraordinarily unlikely and has thus restructured this section of the update. It will no longer include counter-indicators for such an offensive.)ISW will continue to report daily observed Russian and Belarusian military activity in Belarus, but these are not indicators that Russian and Belarusian forces are preparing for an imminent attack on Ukraine from Belarus. ISW will revise this text and its assessment if it observes any unambiguous indicators that Russia or Belarus is preparing to attack northern Ukraine.The Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed on March 28 Belarus’ intent to host Russian tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus as Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on March 25.[75] The Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that a Russian deployment of tactical nuclear weapons would not violate the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and would not represent a departure from the norms of ”military cooperation between non-nuclear and nuclear powers.”[76] ISW continues to assess that a Russian deployment of tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus is irrelevant to Russia‘s nuclear strike capabilities; Russia has long fielded nuclear-capable systems able to strike any target that tactical nuclear weapons based in Belarus could hit.[77] A Russian tactical nuclear weapons deployment to Belarus would represent a milestone in the Kremlin’s longstanding campaign to establish more permanent Russian basing in Belarus, however.Belarusian maneuver elements continue conducting exercises in Belarus. An unspecified airborne infantry element of the Vitebsk-based Belarusian 103rd Air Assault Brigade conducted tactical heliborne exercise in an unspecified location on March 28.[78]Note: ISW does not receive any classified material from any source, uses only publicly available information, and draws extensively on Russian, Ukrainian, and Western reporting and social media as well as commercially available satellite imagery and other geospatial data as the basis for these reports. References to all sources used are provided in the endnotes of each update.[1] https://t.me/pushilindenis/3287; https://t.me/smotri_z/12818; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/46370; https://t.me/vladlentatarsky/20273 ; https://t.me/bayraktar1070/930[2] https://ria dot ru/20230326/artemovsk-1860697725.html ; https://t.me/rian_ru/198008 ; https://twitter.com/War_cube_/status/1639923570536054785?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/Circonscripti18/status/1639913105026166785?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/War_cube_/status/1639928925659750401?s=20[3] https://t.me/rybar/45151; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/81608; https://t.me/vysokygovorit/11147[4] https://t.me/smotri_z/12818; https://t.me/epoddubny/15302; https://t.me/z_arhiv/19926 https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/46370 ; https://t.me/basurin_e/386[5] https://twitter.com/Danspiun/status/1640723997674426370?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/Danspiun/status/1640726018351681538?s=20 ; . https://twitter.com/umftteam/status/1640434381419425792?s=20 ; https://t.me/umftteam/78 ; https://twitter.com/Danspiun/status/1640454646547329025?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/klinger66/status/1640473623675785216?s=20; https://twitter.com/chris__759/status/1640473033247981568; https://twitter.com/PowerPigeon2/status/1640621730145157121[6] https://t.me/milinfolive/98547 ; https://t.me/operativnoZSU/87589 ; https://vk dot com/wall-212320493_59721?lang=en[7] https://vagsh.mil dot ru/Struktura-akademii/Kafedra-voennogo-upravleniya/item/48203[8] https://isw.pub/UkrWar032723[9] https://riafan dot ru/23940551-prigozhin_rasskazal_v_chem_kroetsya_prichina_snaryadnogo_goloda[10] http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/70795; http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/70758; http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/70753[11] https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11622303/Putins-chef-mercenary-chief-stands-captured-salt-Russia-claims-Soledar.html; https://twitter.com/clashreport/status/1633441600201191424?lang=en; https://www.kyivpost dot com/post/14182; https://twitter.com/Spriter99880/status/1640406738657591305; https://twitter.com/VSlajd/status/1640294881032634374; https://twitter.com/GwarWorin/status/1638282617958158377[12] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-11-2023; https://riafan dot ru/23940551-prigozhin_rasskazal_v_chem_kroetsya_prichina_snaryadnogo_goloda[13] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-13-2023; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-11-2023[14] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-january-18-2023; https://t.me/concordgroup_official/288[15] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-23-2023[16] https://t.me/strelkovii/4352 ; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-january-26-2023; https://www.rbc dot ua/rus/news/vadim-skibitskiy-rosiya-mozhe-vesti-viynu-1679493967.html[17] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/mar/28/putin-prepares-russia-for-forever-war-with-west-as-ukraine-invasion-stalls[18] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/isw.pub/UkrWar032623; https://isw.pub/UkrWar031623; https://isw.pub/UkrWar031423; https://isw.pub/UkrWar030823; https://isw.pub/UkrWar022323; https://isw.pub/UkrWar022123; https://isw.pub/UkrWar020923[19] https://iz dot ru/1489736/2023-03-28/shoigu-proveril-proizvodstvo-snariadov-opk-cheliabinskoi-i-kirovskoi-oblastei; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/81596[20] https://isw.pub/UkrWar011523; https://isw.pub/UkrWar032223; https://isw.pub/UkrWar031423[21] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-03-28/war-and-secretive-spending-is-eating-away-at-russia-s-budget#xj4y7vzkg[22] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-03-28/war-and-secretive-spending-is-eating-away-at-russia-s-budget#xj4y7vzkg[23] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-03-28/war-and-secretive-spending-is-eating-away-at-russia-s-budget#xj4y7vzkg; https://meduza.io/news/2023/03/28/rossiya-zasekretila-tret-rashodov-byudzheta[24] https://www.rbc dot ru/economics/28/03/2023/64217afc9a7947666c28a70e[25] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0kuU5D7muYxbDogYv3iq9MiGmkrxRayVrs6V6NjXgCh2s3dhPZNTtn4hyjEC8e96Dl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid034AAANwWemXCqpSdYz11H473YceGVxmy5fyCxFkTTHEQ12wRHG3Lj58dFUF66KgLYl[26] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2023/03/28/na-kupyansko-lymanskomu-napryamku-rosiyany-mayut-serjoznyj-deficzyt-suchasnoyi-bronetehniky-sergij-cherevatyj/[27] https://t.me/mod_russia/25162[28] https://t.me/sashakots/39080; https://twitter.com/GertVHoecke/status/1640626529179664386[29] https://t.me/pushilindenis/3287[30] https://twitter.com/umftteam/status/1640434381419425792?s=20 ; https://t.me/umftteam/78 ; https://twitter.com/Danspiun/status/1640454646547329025?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/klinger66/status/1640473623675785216?s=20; https://twitter.com/chris__759/status/1640473033247981568; https://twitter.com/Danspiun/status/1640723997674426370?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/Danspiun/status/1640726018351681538?s=20[31] https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/46370 ;[32] https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/46370 ;[33] https://t.me/pushilindenis/3287[34] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid034AAANwWemXCqpSdYz11H473YceGVxmy5fyCxFkTTHEQ12wRHG3Lj58dFUF66KgLYl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0kuU5D7muYxbDogYv3iq9MiGmkrxRayVrs6V6NjXgCh2s3dhPZNTtn4hyjEC8e96Dl[35] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2023/03/28/vorog-ne-prypynyaye-masovani-obstrily-bahmuta-u-poyednanni-z-shturmovymy-diyamy-sergij-cherevatyj/[36] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2023/03/28/vorog-ne-prypynyaye-masovani-obstrily-bahmuta-u-poyednanni-z-shturmovymy-diyamy-sergij-cherevatyj/[37] https://isw.pub/UkrWar032223 ; https://isw.pub/UkrWar032523[38] https://isw.pub/UkrWar032123[39] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid034AAANwWemXCqpSdYz11H473YceGVxmy5fyCxFkTTHEQ12wRHG3Lj58dFUF66KgLYl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0kuU5D7muYxbDogYv3iq9MiGmkrxRayVrs6V6NjXgCh2s3dhPZNTtn4hyjEC8e96Dl[40] https://t.me/rybar/45123;[41] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2023/03/27/na-napryamku-avdiyivka-maryinka-dvi-brygady-rf-zaznaly-velykyh-vtrat/[42] https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1640591697858969606[43] https://isw.pub/RusCampaignSept18 ; https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidaxe/2022/09/15/the-russians-spent-months-forming-a-new-army-corps-it-lasted-days-in-ukraine/?sh=753bc13256e6;%C2%A0https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidaxe/2022/09/15/the-russians-spent-months-forming-a-new-army-corps-it-lasted-days-in-ukraine/?sh=6c64d38056e6[44] https://t.me/pushilindenis/3287[45] https://t.me/boris_rozhin/81566[46] https://isw.pub/UkrWar032723 ; https://t.me/concordgroup_official/657[47] https://t.me/pushilindenis/3287 ; https://t.me/readovkanews/55625[48] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2023/03/27/na-napryamku-avdiyivka-maryinka-dvi-brygady-rf-zaznaly-velykyh-vtrat/[49] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign... https://sprotyv.mod.gov dot ua/2023/02/27/rosiyany-trymayut-trupy-svoyih-soldativ-na-skladah-aby-ne-vyplachuvaty-groshi-ridnym-spovid-okupanta/ ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VyogLhqX9E&ab_channel=Центрнаціональногоспротиву[50] https://t.me/mod_russia/25160[51] https://t.me/BalitskyEV/913[52] https://t.me/CITeam/3238; https://t.me/uniannet/93568;[53] https://t.me/ivan_fedorov_melitopol/1587[54] https://t.me/BalitskyEV/913[55] https://twitter.com/bradyafr/status/1640454897328877574?s=20[56] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2023/03/28/na-livomu-berezi-dnipra-j-na-kinburnskij-kosi-vorog-znyzyv-svoyu-aktyvnist-nataliya-gumenyuk/[57] http://publication.pravo dot gov.ru/Document/View/0001202303270011; https://twitter.com/NOELreports/status/1640592399654166528; https://www.newsweek.com/putin-removes-upper-age-limit-conscripts-national-guard-ukraine-1790807[58] https://t.me/andriyshTime/8100[59] https://www.idelreal.org/a/32337845.html[60] https://ura dot news/news/1052636567[61] https://t.me/news_74ru/49691; https://74 dot ru/text/politics/2023/03/27/72167000/?utm_source=telegram&utm_medium=messenger&utm_campaign=74; https://t.me/CITeam/3238; https://t.me/Baikal_People/2173; https://t.me/Govorit_NeMoskva/6259[62] https://novayagazeta dot eu/articles/2023/03/26/gubernatorskie-armii[63] https://novayagazeta dot eu/articles/2023/03/26/gubernatorskie-armii[64] https://t.me/akashevarova/6251; https://t.me/NeoficialniyBeZsonoV/23700; https://t.me/BPLAROSTOV/84 ; https://t.me/vladlentatarsky/20254; https://t.me/vladlentatarsky/20250[65] https://t.me/pushilindenis/3287[66] https://gur.gov dot ua/content/piat-broneavtomobiliv-rosiiskykh-terorystiv-z-sts-akhmat-ne-doikhaly-do-zony-boiovykh-dii.html; https://t.me/Bratchuk_Sergey/33962; https://twitter.com/bayraktar_1love/status/1640413875425411073?s=20; https://t.me/DIUkraine/2133[67] https://t.me/BalitskyEV/913[68] https://t.me/BalitskyEV/913[69] https://t.me/BalitskyEV/913[70] https://t.me/pushilindenis/3287[71] https://t.me/VGA_Kherson/8111[72] https://t.me/BalitskyEV/913[73] https://t.me/pushilindenis/3287[74] https://t.me/VGA_Kherson/8123[75] https://mfa.gov dot by/press/news_mfa/d73d30578e49412b.html[76] https://mfa.gov dot by/press/news_mfa/d73d30578e49412b.html[77] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-25-2023[78] https://t.me/modmilby/24885

[Author: ISWKF] [Category: Russia, Ukraine]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 3/28/23 9:25am
Zachary Coles, Annika Ganzeveld, Amin Soltani, Johanna Moore, Nicholas Carl, and Frederick W. KaganMarch 27, 2023, 6:00 pm ETContributor: Andie PerryThe Iran Updates are produced by the Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute with support from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). To receive Iran Updates via email, please subscribe here.Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah have messaged that the Iran-led Axis of Resistance is prepared to continue escalating against American forces in eastern Syria. Iran uses the term “Axis of Resistance” to refer to the regional state, semi-state, and non-state actors with which Tehran cooperates to pursue its strategic objectives, including the Bashar al Assad regime, Lebanese Hezbollah, and various Iraqi, Syrian, and other proxy groups. The Iranian Advisory Center in Syria—likely a front for the IRGC Quds Force—issued a statement on March 24 warning the US that the Axis of Resistance has “the upper hand” in Syria and can retaliate against any US attacks.[1] Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Spokesperson Keyvan Khosravi echoed these remarks on March 25.[2] Iranian state media and Lebanese Hezbollah-affiliated outlets have similarly emphasized in recent days that the Axis of Resistance is prepared to attack US forces in eastern Syria if the escalation cycle between them continues.[3] The IRGC and Lebanese Hezbollah are responding to the series of attacks between the US and Iranian-backed forces that erupted in Syria on March 23-24 after Iranian-backed militants conducted a kamikaze drone attack on US forces in northeastern Syria, killing one American.[4]The IRGC and Lebanese Hezbollah are signaling their resolve against the US and readiness to absorb the military costs of further escalation in Syria. US and Israeli airstrikes have demonstrably failed to impose a high enough cost to persuade Iranian leaders to stop their efforts to entrench themselves militarily in Syria and push US forces out. The IRGC may calculate that it incurs a relatively low cost given that these airstrikes often destroy facilities that the IRGC can reconstruct and kill non-Iranian fighters whom the IRGC likely views as expendable. The failure of the US to deter Iran from attacking American positions is, in fact, the key reason that the US became entangled in this latest escalation cycle in the first place. CTP previously argued that Iran likely ordered the kamikaze drone attack that killed an American contractor in retaliation for recent Israeli airstrikes on Iranian-backed targets in Syria because Tehran feared Israeli responses more than it feared American reactions.[5]Israel has conducted a series of airstrikes against Iranian-backed forces in Syria in recent weeks in response to an uptick in Iranian military activity in Syria, especially around Aleppo.[6] Iran has worked to exploit the earthquake in northern Syria to strengthen its military position there in recent weeks, as CTP previously reported.[7] The IRGC is likely trying to bring advanced military capabilities and/or forces into Aleppo under the guise of humanitarian aid. It is unclear for what exactly Iran is preparing, but this activity has clearly crossed an Israeli red line.  An Iranian-backed group called the Al Ghaliboun Brigade issued a statement claiming responsibility for the kamikaze drone attack that killed an American contractor. Iranian state media described this militia as an Iraqi group, although other analysts have characterized it as a Syrian Shia militia.[8] The group could alternatively be a front group for the IRGC Quds Force, which frequently claims attacks under false names.Iran and its proxies may be trying to keep the escalation cycle confined to Syria. Iraqi Kataib Hezbollah leader Abu Ali Al Askari issued a statement disclaiming his organization’s involvement in the attack and describing the perpetrators as the “Syrian popular resistance” when congratulating them for the attack.[9] Iranian state media furthermore tweeted a map of US military bases in eastern Syria that the Axis of Resistance could strike.[10]Iranian regime officials remain split over how to enforce the mandatory hijab law in the aftermath of the Mahsa Amini protest movement. Hardline parliamentarian Hossein Jalali presented a new plan to enforce the hijab law on March 27 which, if implemented, would fine unveiled women up to 30,000,000,000 rials (approximately $60,000).[11] This extremely high fine would enable Iranian authorities to detain and arrest unveiled women who do not have the financial means to pay it. Jalali emphasized that the new plan is “completely ‘smart’ and there is no physical confrontation.”[12] Regime officials use the term “smart”—houshmand in Persian—to refer to advanced technologies, such as facial-recognizing cameras, that can identify unveiled women without physically confronting them. Jalali previously espoused a “smart” approach in December 2022, stating that “the hijab law is in place, but physical confrontation will not take place, no one will be arrested, a verbal warning will not even be given.”[13] Hardline politician and former Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) officer Mohsen Rafigh Doust separately stated on March 25 that enforcing mandatory veiling with force “will generate a negative reaction.”[14] These individuals’ calls for enforcing the hijab law without physical confrontation may be a direct response to security leaders’ announcements in recent days that they plan to resume enforcing veiling with a confrontational approach, as CTP previously reported.[15] IRGC Operations Deputy Brigadier General Abbas Nilforoushan announced plans to establish “patrols” in Qom Province between March 16 and the end of Ramadan to ensure compliance with the regime’s morality standards.[16] The social deputy of the IRGC Qom Provincial Unit—Major Ali Mehdi Babaei—similarly announced a new initiative—the “Let’s Enjoin Good in Our Neighborhood” plan—to enforce the hijab requirement in Qom Province on March 18.[17]The confrontational and “smart” approaches to hijab enforcement are not mutually exclusive. Political actors who support enforcing mandatory veiling with a “smart” approach may oppose physical confrontation because of the risk that it could trigger demonstrations similar to those during the Mahsa Amini protests. Those who support physical confrontation—including some commanders in the IRGC, Basij, and Law Enforcement Command (LEC)—seem contrastingly to view “smart” measures such as surveillance and facial recognition technology as supplemental tools to enforce hijab compliance. The LEC previously resumed using surveillance cameras to identify unveiled women in cars in January 2023, for example.[18]Regime officials—regardless of whether they espouse a confrontational or “smart” approach to hijab enforcement—continue to speak about the hijab in a tone-deaf manner. It is noteworthy that the intra-regime debate is about how to enforce mandatory veiling—not about whether the mandatory hijab law should exist. Both those who support a “smart” approach and those who prefer physical confrontation agree that they will not make sociocultural concessions to Iranian women and will instead pursue the hardline stance put forward by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.[19] Tehran Interim Friday Prayer Leader Ahmad Khatami stated on March 27 that Iranian women should regard the hijab as a “blessing.”[20] Assembly of Experts Member Ayatollah Mohsen Araki separately stated on March 26 that unveiling is the equivalent of a “spiritual and cultural Corona [virus]” that “destroys society.”[21] These statements may resonate with women who already fully abide by the hijab law. They will likely further alienate and fuel frustration among Iranians who oppose the regime’s hijab policies, however.Key TakeawaysIran and Lebanese Hezbollah have messaged that the Axis of Resistance is prepared to continue escalating against American forces in eastern Syria.An Iranian-backed group called the Al Ghaliboun Brigade issued a statement claiming responsibility for the kamikaze drone attack that killed an American contractor.Some Iranian proxies have tried to avoid becoming involved in the escalation cycle, possibly to keep it confined to Syria and/or prevent the US from retaliating against them.Iranian regime officials remain split over how to enforce the mandatory hijab law in the aftermath of the Mahsa Amini protest movement.Regime officials—regardless of whether they espouse a confrontational or “smart” approach to hijab enforcement—continue to speak about the hijab in a tone-deaf manner.At least one protest on March 25, four protests on March 26, and one protest on March 27.Internal Security and Protest ActivityAt least one protest occurred in one city across one province on March 25. CTP assesses with moderate confidence that one protest occurred in the following location:Haft Tappeh, Khuzestan Province[22]Size: SmallDemographic: Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Factory workers At least four protests occurred in four cities across three provinces on March 26. CTP assesses with moderate to high confidence that protests occurred in the following locations:Ahvaz, Khuzestan Province[23]Size: SmallDemographic: RetireesShoush, Khuzestan Province[24]Size: SmallDemographic: RetireesSaghez, Kurdistan Province[25]Size: SmallDemographic: Teachers protesting the arrest of teacher union activist Soleiman Abdi[26]Tehran City, Tehran Province[27]Size: SmallDemographic: Individuals who lost money in the fake online trading platform “King Money”[28] At least one protest occurred in one city across one province on March 27. CTP assesses with low confidence that one protest occurred in the following location:Baneh, Kurdistan Province[29]Size: SmallDemographic: Mechanics on strike Law Enforcement Command (LEC) Special Units Commander Brigadier General Hassan Karimi announced plans on March 25 for the LEC Special Units deploy to 400 different locations across Iran in the new Persian calendar year in anticipation of protests.[30] Karimi also added that the LEC Special Units will have to double their capacity to effectively cover those locations, suggesting that they do not currently have the manpower necessary. The LEC Special Units are a highly trained, anti-riot force that the regime uses heavily in its protest crackdowns.[31] The Special Units were already deployed across the country during the Nowrouz holiday to confront potential protests, as CTP previously reported.[32]Iranian social media users circulated alleged footage of security forces establishing checkpoints along major roads leading into and out of Zahedan, Sistan and Baluchistan Province on March 26.[33] This securitization of Zahedan follows Zahedan Sunni cleric Abdol Hamid’s fiery sermon of March 24 directly targeting positions that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had taken a few days before.[34]Economic AffairsRaisi administration officials continued to echo Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s rhetoric on the economy and proposed ways to implement his economic vision in the new year. President Ebrahim Raisi reiterated his administration’s readiness to decrease inflation, increase production, and grow the private sector during several meetings with senior regime officials between March 25 to 27.[35] First Vice President Mohmmad Mokhber likewise stated that the necessary conditions for curbing inflation are economic growth and the ”popularization of the economy.”[36] Mokhber may have been again referring to privatizing parastatal entities as he did in another speech on March 22, as CTP previously reported.[37] This rhetoric mirrors Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s Nowrouz address on March 21, during which he directed the regime to pursue economic policies that would “control inflation and increase economic production” and called for privatization, stating that “the most important problem and weakness of the country is the governmental nature of the economy.”[38]The Supreme Labor Council increased the minimum wage by 27 percent for the new Persian calendar year.[39] This wage increase will likely not significantly improve workers’ economic welfare, however, as it is far below Iran‘s inflation rate which hovers between 40 to 50 percent, according to different reports.[40] The Supreme Labor Council is composed of various Raisi administration executives.[41]The Iranian rial depreciated slightly from 494,000 rials to one US dollar on March 24 to 511,500 rials to one US dollar on March 27.[42]Foreign Policy and DiplomacySupreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary Ali Shamkhani met with Qatari Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad bin Abdol Aziz Al Khalifa in Tehran on March 27.[43] Shamkhani emphasized that Iran has prioritized expanding cooperation with regional countries and that it places no restrictions on the expansion of regional relations. Al Khalifa expressed his satisfaction with the March 10 normalization of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Foreign Affairs Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian similarly met with Al Khalifa on March 27.[44]Foreign Affairs Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian continued his increased rate of diplomatic engagements with regional officials on March 26 and 27. Amir Abdollahian held a phone call with Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister Faisal bin Farhad to discuss scheduling a meeting during the month of Ramadan—the second call between them since March 23.[45] Amir Abdollahian also held a phone call with Libyan Foreign Affairs Minister Najla El Mangoush to discuss reopening the Iranian embassy in Libya on March 26.[46] Amir Abdollahian lastly held a phone call with Syrian Foreign Affairs Minister Faisal Mekdad to discuss regional cooperation on March 26.[47]Strategic Foreign Relations Council Chairman Kamal Kharrazi denied rumors of divisions or tensions within the regime foreign policy apparatus on March 27.[48]  Kharrazi stated that certain uninformed individuals were “misusing” Shamkhani’s and his own recent diplomatic engagements as signs of a growing rift between them and the Foreign Affairs Ministry. He stated that Iran’s foreign affairs and policy are well coordinated. Kharrazi visited Lebanon and Syria between March 19-22. SNSC Secretary Ali Shamkhani visited Iraq and the United Arab Emirates after having negotiated the rapprochement with Saudi Arabia, as CTP previously reported. Some news outlets and social media accounts have observed the conspicuous absence of Foreign Affairs Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian in the recent visits and negotiations, speculating that the Foreign Affairs Ministry has been sidelined by the Supreme Leader and the foreign policymaking organs under his direct supervision.[49] Amir Abdollahian also denied these speculations on March 17, as CTP previously reported.[50]The Wall Street Journal reported on March 27 that Russia has supplied Iran with advanced surveillance software and cyberweapons in exchange for Tehran’s supply of drones for Russian use in Ukraine.[51] The article lists internet-censorship software and communication-surveillance capabilities that would allow the regime to monitor, degrade, and deny mobile communications. The regime will likely use these capabilities to target both political dissidents and foreign adversaries.SNSC Secretary Ali Shamkhani held a phone call with Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval on March 27.[52] They discussed the nuclear negotiations, regional cooperation, and the Iran-Saudi rapprochement.  External Security and Military AffairsAt least two protests occurred in two cities across two provinces in Iraq on March 25. CTP assesses with high confidence that two protest occurred in the following location:Baghdad, Baghdad Province[53]Size: MediumProtester activity: Protesters gathered outside ParliamentProtest Suppression: Riot police dispersed protesters from a park near ParliamentNasariyah, Dhi Qar Province[54]Size: MediumProtester Activity: Protesters blocked access to Zaytoon and Nasr bridges At least six protests occurred in six cities across six provinces in Iraq on March 27. CTP assesses with moderate to high confidence that 6 protest occurred in the following location:Al Shomali, Babil Province[55]Size: Small to MediumProtester Activity: Protesters blocked access to the main highway traveling to southern provinces; Protesters burned tires in the streetProtest Suppression: Security forces heard using live fire rounds; Protesters seen clashing with riot police; Unconfirmed reports claimed Iranian-backed militias participated in protest suppressionNote: Protesters released a statement claiming that parliamentarians who voted in favor of the election laws would be blocked from entering the provinceBaghdad, Baghdad Province[56]Size: SmallProtester Activity: Protesters gathered in Tahrir Square; Protesters released a statement rejecting the election laws and criticizing Sudani, Halbousi, and members of ParliamentProtest Suppression: Unidentified security forces were deployed to Tahrir SquareNasiriyah, Dhi Qar Province[57]Size: Small – MediumProtester Activity: Protesters blocked access to Al Halboubi Square with concrete barriersNajaf, Najaf Province[58]Size: SmallProtester Activity: Protesters set fires in the road, blocking trafficDiwaniyah, Al Qadisiyah Province[59]Size: SmallProtester Activity: Protesters stormed a local government office and later set fire to itKut, Wasit Province[60]Size: SmallProtester Activity: Protesters set fire to tires in the street, blocking trafficProtest Suppression: Riot police were seen deployed in response to protests The Iraqi parliament passed all 15 State of Law Coalition-backed election law amendments on March 26, which will likely empower former Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki.[61] The election law amendments will advantage large political parties, such as Maliki’s State of Law Coalition, at the expense of minority and independent political parties in future elections. These amendments reverse electoral reform laws passed in 2019 and 2020 in response to the Tishreen Movement—a youth-led protest movement that demanded election law and constitutional reforms to address deep-rooted corruption, economic issues, and poor government service provision. Parliament furthermore repealed on March 26 legislation from 2020 that established district-based constituencies, reverting legislative elections to multi-seat provincial elections. The district-based constituencies were meant to prevent major political blocs from overriding popular votes.  Iraqi protest groups called for more anti-government demonstrations on March 26 in response to Parliament passing the election law amendments.[62] Protesters previously responded to calls for a sit-in outside Parliament from March 24 through March 25 to block Parliament from holding a voting session.[63] Iraq’s parliament initially announced it would hold a vote on the proposed election laws on March 25, however, the vote was delayed until March 26.Lebanese Hezbollah-affiliated media published an article on March 26 describing how the Axis of Resistance and Russia are coordinating to expel US forces from Syria.[64] The article stated that the Axis of Resistance and Russia play united but distinct roles in this effort. The article framed recent Russian air maneuvers over US positions in Syria as being connected to recent Iranian-backed militant attacks on US forces.[1] https://www.almanar dot com.lb/10471507[2] www.nournews dot ir/fa/news/137813[3] https://www.alalam dot ir/news/6575788; https://www.alahednews dot com.lb/article.php?id=52286&cid=113; https://moqawama dot org/essaydetails.php?eid=36515&cid=330[4] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-24-2023[5] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-24-2023[6] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-22-2023[7] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-february-16-2023#_e...[8] www.tasnimnews dot com/fa/news/1402/01/06/2872009; https://www.aymennjawad dot org/2017/04/al-ghalibun-inside-story-of-a-syrian-hezbollah[9] https://twitter.com/Tammuz_Intel/status/1639728544744873986?s=20; https://t.me/Tura313/39321[10] https://twitter.com/alalam_arabic/status/1640313554891833345?s=20[11] https://www dot entekhab dot ir/fa/news/720292/%D8%AC%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%84%DB%8C-%D9%86%D9%85%D8%A7%DB%8C%D9%86%D8%AF%D9%87-%D9%85%D8%AC%D9%84%D8%B3-%D8%AC%D8%B1%DB%8C%D9%85%D9%87-%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%84%DB%8C-%D8%A8%D8%AF%D8%AD%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%A8%E2%80%8C%D9%87%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%DB%B5%DB%B0%DB%B0-%D9%87%D8%B2%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%AA%D9%88%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%AA%D8%A7-%DB%B3-%D9%85%DB%8C%D9%84%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%AF-%D8%AA%D9%88%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%B7%D8%A7%D9%84-%DA%AF%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%87%DB%8C%D9%86%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%87-%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%86%D8%AF%DA%AF%DB%8C-%D9%88-%D9%BE%D8%A7%D8%B3%D9%BE%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%AA-%D9%88-%D9%87%D9%85%DA%86%D9%86%DB%8C%D9%86-%D9%85%D9%85%D9%86%D9%88%D8%B9%DB%8C%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%81%D8%A7%D8%AF%D9%87-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D8%A7%DB%8C%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%86%D8%AA-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%A8%D8%B1%DB%8C%D8%AA%DB%8C-%D9%87%D8%A7-%D9%88-%D8%B5%D8%A7%D8%AD%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%86-%DA%A9%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%A7%D9%84-%D9%87%D8%A7[12] https://www dot entekhab dot ir/fa/news/720292/%D8%AC%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%84%DB%8C-%D9%86%D9%85%D8%A7%DB%8C%D9%86%D8%AF%D9%87-%D9%85%D8%AC%D9%84%D8%B3-%D8%AC%D8%B1%DB%8C%D9%85%D9%87-%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%84%DB%8C-%D8%A8%D8%AF%D8%AD%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%A8%E2%80%8C%D9%87%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%DB%B5%DB%B0%DB%B0-%D9%87%D8%B2%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%AA%D9%88%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%AA%D8%A7-%DB%B3-%D9%85%DB%8C%D9%84%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%AF-%D8%AA%D9%88%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%B7%D8%A7%D9%84-%DA%AF%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%87%DB%8C%D9%86%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%87-%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%86%D8%AF%DA%AF%DB%8C-%D9%88-%D9%BE%D8%A7%D8%B3%D9%BE%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%AA-%D9%88-%D9%87%D9%85%DA%86%D9%86%DB%8C%D9%86-%D9%85%D9%85%D9%86%D9%88%D8%B9%DB%8C%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%81%D8%A7%D8%AF%D9%87-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D8%A7%DB%8C%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%86%D8%AA-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%A8%D8%B1%DB%8C%D8%AA%DB%8C-%D9%87%D8%A7-%D9%88-%D8%B5%D8%A7%D8%AD%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%86-%DA%A9%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%A7%D9%84-%D9%87%D8%A7[13] https://www dot asriran dot com/fa/news/870680/%D9%86%D9%85%D8%A7%DB%8C%D9%86%D8%AF%D9%87-%D9%85%D8%AC%D9%84%D8%B3-%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%AD%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%A8-%D8%B3%D8%B1-%D8%AC%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%AE%D9%88%D8%AF%D8%B4-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%A7-%D9%86%D9%87-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%AE%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%AF-%D9%81%DB%8C%D8%B2%DB%8C%DA%A9%DB%8C-%D8%A7%D9%86%DA%86%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%AE%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%87%D8%AF-%D8%B4%D8%AF-%D9%86%D9%87-%DA%A9%D8%B3%DB%8C-%D8%AF%D8%B3%D8%AA%DA%AF%DB%8C%D8%B1-%D9%85%DB%8C-%D8%B4%D9%88%D8%AF-%D8%AD%D8%AA%DB%8C-%D8%AA%D8%B0%DA%A9%D8%B1-%D8%B4%D9%81%D8%A7%D9%87%DB%8C-%D9%87%D9%85-%D9%86%DB%8C%D8%B3%D8%AA-%D9%81%D9%82%D8%B7-%D9%85%D8%AF%DB%8C%D8%B1%DB%8C%D8%AA-%D9%87%D9%88%D8%B4%D9%85%D9%86%D8%AF-%D9%85%DB%8C%E2%80%8C%D8%B4%D9%88%D8%AF[14] https://www dot entekhab dot ir/fa/news/720257/%D9%85%D8%AD%D8%B3%D9%86-%D8%B1%D9%81%D9%82%DB%8C%D8%AF%D9%88%D8%B3%D8%AA-%D8%B1%D8%B9%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%AA-%D8%AD%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%A8-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D8%B2%D9%88%D8%B1-%D9%88%D8%A7%DA%A9%D9%86%D8%B4-%D9%85%D9%86%D9%81%DB%8C-%D8%A8%D9%87-%D9%87%D9%85%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%87-%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%AF-%D8%AA%D8%B9%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%AF-%D8%B4%D9%87%D8%AF%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D9%86%DB%8C%D8%B1%D9%88%DB%8C-%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%B8%D8%A7%D9%85%DB%8C-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%DA%A9%D8%B4%D8%AA%D9%87%E2%80%8C%D9%87%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%AD%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%AF%D8%AB-%D9%BE%D8%A7%DB%8C%DB%8C%D8%B2-%DB%B1%DB%B4%DB%B0%DB%B1-%D8%A8%DB%8C%D8%B4%D8%AA%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA-%DB%B3%DB%B5-%D9%85%DB%8C%D9%84%DB%8C%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D8%AC%D9%85%D8%B9%DB%8C%D8%AA-%DA%A9%D8%B4%D9%88%D8%B1-%D8%B2%D9%86%D8%AF%DA%AF%DB%8C-%D8%B3%D8%AE%D8%AA%DB%8C-%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%86%D8%AF[15] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-20-2023[16] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-17-2023[17] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-20-2023[18] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-january-10-2023[19] https://www.bbc.com/persian/articles/cldln29zlwwo[20] https://www dot entekhab dot ir/fa/news/720364/%D8%A7%D8%AD%D9%85%D8%AF-%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%AA%D9%85%DB%8C-%D8%AD%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%A8-%D8%A2%D9%82%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A7%DB%8C%D9%86-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA-%DA%A9%D9%87-%D9%84%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B3%DB%8C-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D8%A2%D8%B1%D9%85-%D9%88-%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%AA-%D8%A8%DB%8C%DA%AF%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%87-%D9%86%D9%BE%D9%88%D8%B4%D9%86%D8%AF-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A8%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%AF-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D8%AD%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%A8-%D8%A8%D9%87-%D8%B9%D9%86%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%86-%DB%8C%DA%A9-%D9%86%D8%B9%D9%85%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%81%D8%A7%D8%AF%D9%87-%DA%A9%D9%86%D9%86%D8%AF-%D9%86%D8%B8%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85%DB%8C-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%A7%DB%8C%D9%86-%D8%A2%D9%85%D8%AF%D9%87-%DA%A9%D9%87-%D8%AD%D9%82-%D8%A8%D9%87-%D8%AD%D9%82%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%B3%D8%AF[21] https://www dot eghtesadonline dot com/%D8%A8%D8%AE%D8%B4-%D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B3%DB%8C-120/708397-%D8%A8%DB%8C%D8%AD%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%A8%DB%8C-%DA%A9%D8%B1%D9%88%D9%86%D8%A7[22] https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1639612574110191616?cxt=HHwWgMDQkd-8icEtAAAA ;https://twitter.com/RadioFarda_/status/1639664525044580353?cxt=HHwWgoC84deMocEtAAAA[23] https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1639993419652005894?cxt=HHwWjICwxe_UtsItAAAA ;https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1639977585021943808?cxt=HHwWgICwrZa7r8ItAAAA ;https://twitter.com/RadioFarda_/status/1639981266291269637?cxt=HHwWioCx-bmRscItAAAA [24] https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1639911352356466690?cxt=HHwWhMCzxfarkcItAAAA ;https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1639929367152283648?cxt=HHwWgMC-ncPEmcItAAAA ;https://twitter.com/RadioFarda_/status/1639980107077959682?cxt=HHwWhIC2kf3NsMItAAAA[25] https://twitter.com/KurdistanHRN/status/1639999966025338880?cxt=HHwWgMC-6fXRucItAAAA ;https://twitter.com/RadioFarda_/status/1639980623010967558?cxt=HHwWjMC9kYHssMItAAAA ;https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1639997298389184513?cxt=HHwWgsCzsdK2uMItAAAA ;https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1639976419806658561?cxt=HHwWgoC-6az3rsItAAAA [26] https://www dot en-hrana dot org/teacher-union-activist-soleiman-abdi-arrested-in-saqqez/[27] https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1639993607170949122?cxt=HHwWhICw1eTftsItAAAA ;https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1640020610834202627?cxt=HHwWhoC80c2Dw8ItAAAA[28] https://en dot mehrnews dot com/news/179211/Several-people-arrested-in-Iran-over-crypto-currency-scam[29] https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1640335832358715394?cxt=HHwWhICwgfWv0sMtAAAA[30] https://www.entekhab dot ir/fa/news/720187/%D9%81%D8%B1%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AF%D9%87-%DB%8C%DA%AF%D8%A7%D9%86%E2%80%8C%D9%87%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D9%88%DB%8C%DA%98%D9%87-%D9%BE%D9%84%DB%8C%D8%B3-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%84-%DB%B1%DB%B4%DB%B0%DB%B2-%D8%A8%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%AF-%D8%B8%D8%B1%D9%81%DB%8C%D8%AA-%D8%AE%D9%88%D8%AF-%D8%B1%D8%A7-%D8%AF%D9%88-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%B1-%DA%A9%D9%86%DB%8C%D9%85-%D8%AA%D8%A7-%D8%A8%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C%D9%85-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D9%85%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%A8%D9%84%D9%87-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%A2%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%85%DB%8C%E2%80%8C%D9%87%D8%A7-%DB%B4%DB%B0%DB%B0-%D9%86%D9%82%D8%B7%D9%87-%D8%B1%D8%A7-%D9%BE%D9%88%D8%B4%D8%B4-%D8%AF%D9%87%DB%8C%D9%85 ; https://www.radiofarda dot com/a/anti-riot-police-iran-protests-suppression/32333932.html[31] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/iran-crisis-update-january-31-2023[32] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-22-2023[33] https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1640073344161574915?cxt=HHwWhsCzxYuB28ItAAAA[34] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-24-2023[35] http://www.president dot ir/fa/143091 ; http://www.president dot ir/fa/143093 ; http://www.president dot ir/fa/143123 ; http://www.president dot ir/fa/143119[36] https://www.farsnews dot ir/news/14020107000556/مخبر-مهار-تورم-از-طریق-رشد-اقتصادی-و-مردمی-سازی-اقتصاد-به-دست-می%E2%80%8Cآید[37] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-22-2023[38] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-21-2023 ;https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-23-2023[39]https://www.entekhab dot ir/fa/news/720371/%D8%B9%D8%B6%D9%88-%DA%A9%D8%A7%D8%B1%DA%AF%D8%B1%DB%8C-%D8%B4%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%B9%D8%A7%D9%84%DB%8C-%DA%A9%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%AF%D8%B1%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%87-%D9%85%D8%B2%D8%AF-%DB%B1%DB%B4%DB%B0%DB%B2-%DA%A9%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%81%D8%B1%D9%85%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D9%82%D8%A8%D9%84-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84%D8%AA-%D8%A8%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%87-%D8%A8%D9%88%D8%AF%D9%86%D8%AF-%D9%82%D8%A8%D9%84-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D8%AC%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%87-%D9%86%D9%87%D8%A7%DB%8C%DB%8C-%D8%AF%D9%88-%D8%B7%D8%B1%D9%81-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D9%87%D9%85-%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%81%D9%82-%DA%A9%D8%B1%D8%AF%D9%87-%D8%A8%D9%88%D8%AF%D9%86%D8%AF-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D9%85%DB%8C%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%87-%DA%A9%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84%D8%AA-%D8%A8%D8%AD%D8%AB-%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%87-%D9%85%D8%B9%DB%8C%D8%B4%D8%AA%DB%8C-%D8%B1%D8%A7-%D9%BE%DB%8C%D8%B4-%DA%A9%D8%B4%DB%8C%D8%AF-%D9%88-%D8%A7%D8%AF%D8%B9%D8%A7-%DA%A9%D8%B1%D8%AF-%D8%A8%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%AF-%D9%85%D8%A8%D9%84%D8%BA-%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%87-%D8%B1%D8%A7-%D8%AC%D8%B2%D9%88-%D8%AF%D8%B1%DB%8C%D8%A7%D9%81%D8%AA%DB%8C-%DA%A9%D8%A7%D8%B1%DA%AF%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D9%86%D8%B8%D8%B1-%DA%AF%D8%B1%D9%81%D8%AA [40] https://www.entekhab dot ir/fa/news/720288/%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%86%DA%A9-%D9%85%D8%B1%DA%A9%D8%B2%DB%8C-%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%85-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D9%81%D9%86%D8%AF-%DB%B4%DB%B6%DB%B5-%D8%AF%D8%B1%D8%B5%D8%AF-%D8%A8%D9%88%D8%AF ; https://www.tasnimnews dot com/fa/news/1402/01/07/2872234/موتور-تولید-تورم-خاموش-شد-تورم-50-سال-پیش-ریشه-دواند ; https://www.iranintl dot com/en/202303269039[41] https://irandataportal.syr.edu/the-supreme-labor-council[42] https://bonbast dot com/[43] https://www.tasnimnews dot com/fa/news/1402/01/07/2872481/شمخانی-هیچ-محدودیتی-برای-گسترش-مناسبات-با-کشورهای-همسایه-قائل-نیستیم[44] https://www.irna dot ir/news/85067523/%D8%A7%D9%85%DB%8C%D8%B1%D8%B9%D8%A8%D8%AF%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%84%D9%87%DB%8C%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D9%88%D8%B2%DB%8C%D8%B1-%D9%85%D8%B4%D8%A7%D9%88%D8%B1-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%88%D8%B1-%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%AC%D9%87-%D9%82%D8%B7%D8%B1-%D8%AF%DB%8C%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B1-%DA%A9%D8%B1%D8%AF[45] https://mfa dot ir/portal/NewsView/715250[46] https://www.irna dot ir/news/85066907/%DA%AF%D9%81%D8%AA%DA%AF%D9%88%DB%8C-%D8%AA%D9%84%D9%81%D9%86%DB%8C-%D9%88%D8%B2%DB%8C%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%88%D8%B1-%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%AC%D9%87-%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D9%88%D8%B2%DB%8C%D8%B1-%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%AC%D9%87-%D9%88-%D9%87%D9%85%DA%A9%D8%A7%D8%B1%DB%8C-%D9%87%D8%A7%DB%8C[47] https://www.irna dot ir/news/85066842/%DA%AF%D9%81%D8%AA%DA%AF%D9%88%DB%8C-%D8%AA%D9%84%D9%81%D9%86%DB%8C-%D9%88%D8%B2%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%88%D8%B1-%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%AC%D9%87-%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%88-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%DB%8C%D9%87[48] https://www.irna dot ir/news/85067537/%DA%A9%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%84-%D8%AE%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%B2%DB%8C-%D9%BE%DB%8C%D8%B4%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%AF-%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%B7-%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%AC%DB%8C-%DA%A9%D8%B4%D9%88%D8%B1-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D9%87%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%87%D9%86%DA%AF%DB%8C-%DA%A9%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%85-%D9%85%DB%8C-%DA%AF%DB%8C%D8%B1%D8%AF[49] https://amwaj dot media/media-monitor/iran-warns-us-against-attacking-bases-in-syria ; https://amwaj dot media/media-monitor/deep-dive-iran-inks-security-accord-with-iraq-as-regional-diplomacy-revved-up ; https://twitter.com/SaeedAzimi1772/status/1637430437655060481?s=20 ; https://www.middleeasteye dot net/news/saudi-arabia-iran-reconciliation-khamenei-office-agreed-stop-arming-houthis ;[50] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-17-2023#_edn9c063d5301ae721f48bd70569f5b3705ref18[51] https://www.wsj.com/articles/russia-supplies-iran-with-cyber-weapons-as-military-cooperation-grows-b14b94cd[52] http://www.nournews dot ir/fa/news/137890[53] https://twitter.com/Tammuz_Intel/status/1639755923244605440 ;https://twitter.com/Tammuz_Intel/status/1639736260716642306 ;https://twitter.com/Tammuz_Intel/status/1639671505012310017 ;https://twitter.com/Tammuz_Intel/status/1639656414204313602 ;https://twitter.com/Tammuz_Intel/status/1639609052345905155 ;https://twitter.com/Tammuz_Intel/status/1639544106190766081 ;https://twitter.com/Tammuz_Intel/status/1639601411691360256 ;https://twitter.com/Tammuz_Intel/status/1639535714139291648 ;https://twitter.com/Tammuz_Intel/status/1639535714139291648 ;[54] https://twitter.com/Tammuz_Intel/status/1639736657468350464 ;https://twitter.com/Tammuz_Intel/status/1639685449135321088 ;[55] https://twitter.com/Mh_W99/status/1640459806363516930 ;https://twitter.com/wn_8kn/status/1640444689168867333 ;https://twitter.com/Aliraqibinsumer/status/1640463126184488961 ;https://twitter.com/Aliraqibinsumer/status/1640461814507945984[56] https://twitter.com/Tammuz_Intel/status/1640403535190802433 ;https://twitter.com/vvwiiwvv/status/1640453528157143040[57] https://www.kurdistan24 dot net/ar/story/36979-%D9%85%D8%AD%D8%AA%D8%AC%D9%88%D9%86-%D9%8A%D8%BA%D9%84%D9%82%D9%88%D9%86-%D9%85%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%AE%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D8%A8%D9%88%D8%A8%D9%8A-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B5%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%83%D9%88%D9%86%D9%83%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%AA%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A5%D8%AD%D8%AA%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%AC%D8%A7-%D8%B9%D9%84%DB%8C-%D8%AA%D9%85%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%B1-%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D9%86-%22-%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA-%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%83%D9%88%22. ;https://twitter.com/alrafidain_tv/status/1640451123537661954 ;https://twitter.com/dhurgham_90/status/1640431555205033986 ;https://twitter.com/tele_iraq/status/1640352876030468104 ;https://twitter.com/AlHadath/status/1640341395369017344 ;https://twitter.com/linaassil_assil/status/1640448678488842240[58] https://twitter.com/17Montazer/status/1640453344564002819 ;https://twitter.com/NewsShafaaq/status/1640447533104111622 ;https://twitter.com/75suhair/status/1640449107281215488[59] https://twitter.com/vvwiiwvv/status/1640445460065165319 ;https://twitter.com/Youssef_199999/status/1640427488374407169 ;https://twitter.com/75suhair/status/1640449238545866757[60] https://twitter.com/JanabiRasha/status/1640435325615874056 ;https://twitter.com/AlArabiya_Iraq/status/1640424946475122688 ;https://twitter.com/aboali2000ali/status/1640466171806842885[61] https://media.shafaq dot com/media/arcella_files/1679869229506()%D9%A2%D9%A2.pdf ;https://shafaq dot com/ar/%D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%A9/%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%81%D9%88%D8%B6%D9%89-%D8%AA%D8%B9%D9%88%D8%AF-%D9%84%D9%84%D8%A8%D8%B1%D9%84%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%82%D9%8A-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%A7%D9%84-%D9%85%D8%AA%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84-%D8%AE%D9%8A%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%85%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%B1-%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AA ;https://www.kurdistan24 dot net/ar/story/36966-%D8%AA%D8%B9%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%84-%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A8%D8%B1%D9%84%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%82-%D9%88%D8%B3%D8%B7-%D9%85%D8%B9%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%B6%D8%A9-%D8%A3%D8%AD%D8%B2%D8%A7%D8%A8-%D9%85%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%82%D9%84%D8%A9 [62] https://twitter.com/Tammuz_Intel/status/1639997115387486208 ;[63] https://www dot alaraby.co.uk/node/6309171 ;https://shafaq dot com/ar/%D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%A9/%D9%82%D9%88%D9%89-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%BA%D9%8A%D9%8A%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%85%D9%82%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%B7%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%AA%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%86-%D8%AA-%D9%8A%D9%8A%D8%AF%D9%87%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%AD%D8%AA%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%B6%D8%AF-%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D9%85%D8%B3%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%88%D9%85-%D9%88%D8%AA%D8%AD%D8%B0%D8%B1-%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D9%86%D9%8[64] https://moqawama dot org/essaydetails.php?eid=36515&cid=330

[Author: Institute for the Study of War]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 3/27/23 9:17pm
  Iran Update, March 27, 2023 Zachary Coles, Annika Ganzeveld, Amin Soltani, Johanna Moore, Nicholas Carl, and Frederick W. Kagan March 27, 2023, 6:00 pm ET   Contributor: Andie Perry   The Iran Updates are produced by the Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute with support from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). To receive Iran Updates via email, please subscribe here.   Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah have messaged that the Iran-led Axis of Resistance is prepared to continue escalating against American forces in eastern Syria. Iran uses the term “Axis of Resistance” to refer to the regional state, semi-state, and non-state actors with which Tehran cooperates to pursue its strategic objectives, including the Bashar al Assad regime, Lebanese Hezbollah, and various Iraqi, Syrian, and other proxy groups. The Iranian Advisory Center in Syria—likely a front for the IRGC Quds Force—issued a statement on March 24 warning the US that the Axis of Resistance has “the upper hand” in Syria and can retaliate against any US attacks.[i]Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Spokesperson Keyvan Khosravi echoed these remarks on March 25.[ii]Iranian state media and Lebanese Hezbollah-affiliated outlets have similarly emphasized in recent days that the Axis of Resistance is prepared to attack US forces in eastern Syria if the escalation cycle between them continues.[iii]The IRGC and Lebanese Hezbollah are responding to the series of attacks between the US and Iranian-backed forces that erupted in Syria on March 23-24 after Iranian-backed militants conducted a kamikaze drone attack on US forces in northeastern Syria, killing one American.[iv]   The IRGC and Lebanese Hezbollah are signaling their resolve against the US and readiness to absorb the military costs of further escalation in Syria. US and Israeli airstrikes have demonstrably failed to impose a high enough cost to persuade Iranian leaders to stop their efforts to entrench themselves militarily in Syria and push US forces out. The IRGC may calculate that it incurs a relatively low cost given that these airstrikes often destroy facilities that the IRGC can reconstruct and kill non-Iranian fighters whom the IRGC likely views as expendable. The failure of the US to deter Iran from attacking American positions is, in fact, the key reason that the US became entangled in this latest escalation cycle in the first place. CTP previously argued that Iran likely ordered the kamikaze drone attack that killed an American contractor in retaliation for recent Israeli airstrikes on Iranian-backed targets in Syria because Tehran feared Israeli responses more than it feared American reactions.[v]   Israel has conducted a series of airstrikes against Iranian-backed forces in Syria in recent weeks in response to an uptick in Iranian military activity in Syria, especially around Aleppo.[vi]Iran has worked to exploit the earthquake in northern Syria to strengthen its military position there in recent weeks, as CTP previously reported.[vii]The IRGC is likely trying to bring advanced military capabilities and/or forces into Aleppo under the guise of humanitarian aid. It is unclear for what exactly Iran is preparing, but this activity has clearly crossed an Israeli red line.     An Iranian-backed group called the Al Ghaliboun Brigade issued a statement claiming responsibility for the kamikaze drone attack that killed an American contractor. Iranian state media described this militia as an Iraqi group, although other analysts have characterized it as a Syrian Shia militia.[viii]The group could alternatively be a front group for the IRGC Quds Force, which frequently claims attacks under false names.   Iran and its proxies may be trying to keep the escalation cycle confined to Syria. Iraqi Kataib Hezbollah leader Abu Ali Al Askari issued a statement disclaiming his organization’s involvement in the attack and describing the perpetrators as the “Syrian popular resistance” when congratulating them for the attack.[ix]Iranian state media furthermore tweeted a map of US military bases in eastern Syria that the Axis of Resistance could strike.[x]   Iranian regime officials remain split over how to enforce the mandatory hijab law in the aftermath of the Mahsa Amini protest movement.Hardline parliamentarian Hossein Jalali presented a new plan to enforce the hijab law on March 27 which, if implemented, would fine unveiled women up to 30,000,000,000 rials (approximately $60,000).[xi]This extremely high fine would enable Iranian authorities to detain and arrest unveiled women who do not have the financial means to pay it. Jalali emphasized that the new plan is “completely ‘smart’ and there is no physical confrontation.”[xii]Regime officials use the term “smart”—houshmand in Persian—to refer to advanced technologies, such as facial-recognizing cameras, that can identify unveiled women without physically confronting them. Jalali previously espoused a “smart” approach in December 2022, stating that “the hijab law is in place, but physical confrontation will not take place, no one will be arrested, a verbal warning will not even be given.”[xiii]Hardline politician and former Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) officer Mohsen Rafigh Doust separately stated on March 25 that enforcing mandatory veiling with force “will generate a negative reaction.”[xiv]These individuals’ calls for enforcing the hijab law without physical confrontation may be a direct response to security leaders’ announcements in recent days that they plan to resume enforcing veiling with a confrontational approach, as CTP previously reported.[xv]IRGC Operations Deputy Brigadier General Abbas Nilforoushan announced plans to establish “patrols” in Qom Province between March 16 and the end of Ramadan to ensure compliance with the regime’s morality standards.[xvi]The social deputy of the IRGC Qom Provincial Unit—Major Ali Mehdi Babaei—similarly announced a new initiative—the “Let’s Enjoin Good in Our Neighborhood” plan—to enforce the hijab requirement in Qom Province on March 18.[xvii]   The confrontational and “smart” approaches to hijab enforcement are not mutually exclusive. Political actors who support enforcing mandatory veiling with a “smart” approach may oppose physical confrontation because of the risk that it could trigger demonstrations similar to those during the Mahsa Amini protests. Those who support physical confrontation—including some commanders in the IRGC, Basij, and Law Enforcement Command (LEC)—seem contrastingly to view “smart” measures such as surveillance and facial recognition technology as supplemental tools to enforce hijab compliance. The LEC previously resumed using surveillance cameras to identify unveiled women in cars in January 2023, for example.[xviii]   Regime officials—regardless of whether they espouse a confrontational or “smart” approach to hijab enforcement—continue to speak about the hijab in a tone-deaf manner. It is noteworthy that the intra-regime debate is about how to enforce mandatory veiling—not about whether the mandatory hijab law should exist. Both those who support a “smart” approach and those who prefer physical confrontation agree that they will not make sociocultural concessions to Iranian women and will instead pursue the hardline stance put forward by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.[xix]Tehran Interim Friday Prayer Leader Ahmad Khatami stated on March 27 that Iranian women should regard the hijab as a “blessing.”[xx]Assembly of Experts Member Ayatollah Mohsen Araki separately stated on March 26 that unveiling is the equivalent of a “spiritual and cultural Corona [virus]” that “destroys society.”[xxi]These statements may resonate with women who already fully abide by the hijab law. They will likely further alienate and fuel frustration among Iranians who oppose the regime’s hijab policies, however.   Key Takeaways ·        Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah have messaged that the Axis of Resistance is prepared to continue escalating against American forces in eastern Syria. ·        An Iranian-backed group called the Al Ghaliboun Brigade issued a statement claiming responsibility for the kamikaze drone attack that killed an American contractor. ·             Some Iranian proxies have tried to avoid becoming involved in the escalation cycle, possibly to keep it confined to Syria and/or prevent the US from retaliating against them. ·        Iranian regime officials remain split over how to enforce the mandatory hijab law in the aftermath of the Mahsa Amini protest movement. ·        Regime officials—regardless of whether they espouse a confrontational or “smart” approach to hijab enforcement—continue to speak about the hijab in a tone-deaf manner. ·        At least one protest on March 25, four protests on March 26, and one protest on March 27.   Internal Security and Protest Activity At least one protest occurred in one city across one province on March 25. CTP assesses with moderate confidence that one protest occurred in the following location:   Haft Tappeh, Khuzestan Province[xxii] ·        Size: Small ·        Demographic: Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Factory workers     At least four protests occurred in four cities across three provinces on March 26. CTP assesses with moderate to high confidence that protests occurred in the following locations:   Ahvaz, Khuzestan Province[xxiii] ·        Size: Small ·        Demographic:Retirees   Shoush, Khuzestan Province[xxiv] ·        Size: Small ·        Demographic:Retirees   Saghez, Kurdistan Province[xxv] ·        Size: Small ·        Demographic: Teachers protesting the arrest of teacher union activist Soleiman Abdi[xxvi]   Tehran City, Tehran Province[xxvii] ·        Size: Small ·        Demographic:Individuals who lost money in the fake online trading platform “King Money”[xxviii]     At least one protest occurred in one city across one province on March 27. CTP assesses with low confidence that one protest occurred in the following location:   Baneh, Kurdistan Province[xxix] ·        Size: Small ·        Demographic:Mechanics on strike     Law Enforcement Command (LEC) Special Units Commander Brigadier General Hassan Karimi announced plans on March 25 for the LEC Special Units deploy to 400 different locations across Iran in the new Persian calendar year in anticipation of protests.[xxx]Karimi also added that the LEC Special Units will have to double their capacity to effectively cover those locations, suggesting that they do not currently have the manpower necessary. The LEC Special Units are a highly trained, anti-riot force that the regime uses heavily in its protest crackdowns.[xxxi]The Special Units were already deployed across the country during the Nowrouz holiday to confront potential protests, as CTP previously reported.[xxxii]   Iranian social media users circulated alleged footage of security forces establishing checkpoints along major roads leading into and out of Zahedan, Sistan and Baluchistan Province on March 26.[xxxiii]This securitization of Zahedan follows Zahedan Sunni cleric Abdol Hamid’sfiery sermon of March 24 directly targeting positions that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had taken a few days before.[xxxiv]   Economic Affairs Raisi administration officials continued to echo Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s rhetoric on the economy and proposed ways to implement his economic vision in the new year. President Ebrahim Raisi reiterated his administration’s readiness to decrease inflation, increase production, and grow the private sector during several meetings with senior regime officials between March 25 to 27.[xxxv]First Vice President Mohmmad Mokhber likewise stated that the necessary conditions for curbing inflation are economic growth and the ”popularization of the economy.”[xxxvi]Mokhber may have been again referring to privatizing parastatal entities as he did in another speech on March 22, as CTP previously reported.[xxxvii]This rhetoric mirrors Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s Nowrouz address on March 21, during which he directed the regime to pursue economic policies that would “control inflation and increase economic production” and called for privatization, stating that “the most important problem and weakness of the country is the governmental nature of the economy.”[xxxviii]   The Supreme Labor Council increased the minimum wage by 27 percent for the new Persian calendar year.[xxxix]This wage increase will likely not significantly improve workers’ economic welfare, however, as it is far below Iran‘s inflation rate which hovers between 40 to 50 percent, according to different reports.[xl] The Supreme Labor Council is composed of various Raisi administration executives.[xli]   The Iranian rial depreciated slightly from 494,000 rials to one US dollar on March 24 to 511,500 rials to one US dollar on March 27.[xlii]   Foreign Policy and Diplomacy Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary Ali Shamkhani met with Qatari Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad bin Abdol Aziz Al Khalifa in Tehran on March 27.[xliii]Shamkhani emphasized that Iran has prioritized expanding cooperation with regional countries and that it places no restrictions on the expansion of regional relations. Al Khalifa expressed his satisfaction with the March 10 normalization of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Foreign Affairs Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian similarly met with Al Khalifa on March 27.[xliv]   Foreign Affairs Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian continued his increased rate of diplomatic engagements with regional officials on March 26 and 27. Amir Abdollahian held a phone call with Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister Faisal bin Farhad to discuss scheduling a meeting during the month of Ramadan—the second call between them since March 23.[xlv]Amir Abdollahian also held a phone call with Libyan Foreign Affairs Minister Najla El Mangoush to discuss reopening the Iranian embassy in Libya on March 26.[xlvi]Amir Abdollahian lastly held a phone call with Syrian Foreign Affairs Minister Faisal Mekdad to discuss regional cooperation on March 26.[xlvii]   Strategic Foreign Relations Council Chairman Kamal Kharrazi denied rumors of divisions or tensions within the regime foreign policy apparatus on March 27.[xlviii] Kharrazi stated that certain uninformed individuals were “misusing” Shamkhani’s and his own recent diplomatic engagements as signs of a growing rift between them and the Foreign Affairs Ministry. He stated that Iran’s foreign affairs and policy are well coordinated. Kharrazi visited Lebanon and Syria between March 19-22. SNSC Secretary Ali Shamkhani visited Iraq and the United Arab Emirates after having negotiated the rapprochement with Saudi Arabia, as CTP previously reported. Some news outlets and social media accounts have observed the conspicuous absence of Foreign Affairs Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian in the recent visits and negotiations, speculating that the Foreign Affairs Ministry has been sidelined by the Supreme Leader and the foreign policymaking organs under his direct supervision.[xlix]Amir Abdollahian also denied these speculations on March 17, as CTP previously reported.[l]   The Wall Street Journal reported on March 27 that Russia has supplied Iran with advanced surveillance software and cyberweapons in exchange for Tehran’s supply of drones for Russian use in Ukraine.[li]The article lists internet-censorship software and communication-surveillance capabilities that would allow the regime to monitor, degrade, and deny mobile communications. The regime will likely use these capabilities to target both political dissidents and foreign adversaries.   SNSC Secretary Ali Shamkhani held a phone call with Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval on March 27.[lii]They discussed the nuclear negotiations, regional cooperation, and the Iran-Saudi rapprochement.     External Security and Military Affairs At least two protests occurred in two cities across two provinces in Iraq on March 25. CTP assesses with high confidence that two protest occurred in the following location:   Baghdad, Baghdad Province[liii] ·        Size: Medium ·        Protester activity:Protesters gathered outside Parliament ·        Protest Suppression: Riot police dispersed protesters from a park near Parliament Nasariyah, Dhi Qar Province[liv] ·        Size: Medium ·        Protester Activity:Protesters blocked access to Zaytoon and Nasr bridges     At least six protests occurred in six cities across six provinces in Iraq on March 27. CTP assesses with moderate to high confidence that 6 protest occurred in the following location:   Al Shomali, Babil Province[lv] ·        Size: Small to Medium ·        Protester Activity:Protesters blocked access to the main highway traveling to southern provinces; Protesters burned tires in the street ·        Protest Suppression: Security forces heard using live fire rounds; Protesters seen clashing with riot police; Unconfirmed reports claimed Iranian-backed militias participated in protest suppression ·        Note: Protesters released a statement claiming that parliamentarians who voted in favor of the election laws would be blocked from entering the province   Baghdad, Baghdad Province[lvi] ·        Size: Small ·        Protester Activity: Protesters gathered in Tahrir Square; Protesters released a statement rejecting the election laws and criticizing Sudani, Halbousi, and members of Parliament ·        Protest Suppression: Unidentified security forces were deployed to Tahrir Square   Nasiriyah, Dhi Qar Province[lvii] ·        Size: Small – Medium ·        Protester Activity: Protesters blocked access to Al Halboubi Square with concrete barriers   Najaf, Najaf Province[lviii] ·        Size: Small ·        Protester Activity: Protesters set fires in the road, blocking traffic   Diwaniyah, Al Qadisiyah Province[lix] ·        Size: Small ·        Protester Activity: Protesters stormed a local government office and later set fire to it   Kut, Wasit Province[lx] ·        Size: Small ·        Protester Activity:Protesters set fire to tires in the street, blocking traffic ·        Protest Suppression: Riot police were seen deployed in response to protests     The Iraqi parliament passed all 15 State of Law Coalition-backed election law amendments on March 26, which will likely empower former Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki.[lxi] The election law amendments will advantage large political parties, such as Maliki’s State of Law Coalition, at the expense of minority and independent political parties in future elections. These amendments reverse electoral reform laws passed in 2019 and 2020 in response to the Tishreen Movement—a youth-led protest movement that demanded election law and constitutional reforms to address deep-rooted corruption, economic issues, and poor government service provision. Parliament furthermore repealed on March 26 legislation from 2020 that established district-based constituencies, reverting legislative elections to multi-seat provincial elections. The district-based constituencies were meant to prevent major political blocs from overriding popular votes.     Iraqi protest groups called for more anti-government demonstrations on March 26 in response to Parliament passing the election law amendments.[lxii]Protesters previously responded to calls for a sit-in outside Parliament from March 24 through March 25 to block Parliament from holding a voting session.[lxiii]Iraq’s parliament initially announced it would hold a vote on the proposed election laws on March 25, however, the vote was delayed until March 26.   Lebanese Hezbollah-affiliated media published an article on March 26 describing how the Axis of Resistance and Russia are coordinating to expel US forces from Syria.[lxiv]The article stated that the Axis of Resistance and Russia play united but distinct roles in this effort. The article framed recent Russian air maneuvers over US positions in Syria as being connected to recent Iranian-backed militant attacks on US forces. [i]https://www.almanar dot com.lb/10471507 [ii]www.nournews dot ir/fa/news/137813 [iii]https://www.alalam dot ir/news/6575788; https://www.alahednews dot com.lb/article.php?id=52286&cid=113; https://moqawama dot org/essaydetails.php?eid=36515&cid=330 [iv]https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-24-2023 [v]https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-24-2023 [vi]https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-22-2023 [vii]https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-february-16-2023#_edne10e31e6df2bcf7a08871599ace5d456ref9 [viii]www.tasnimnews dot com/fa/news/1402/01/06/2872009; https://www.aymennjawad dot org/2017/04/al-ghalibun-inside-story-of-a-syrian-hezbollah [ix] https://twitter.com/Tammuz_Intel/status/1639728544744873986?s=20; https://t.me/Tura313/39321 [x]https://twitter.com/alalam_arabic/status/1640313554891833345?s=20 [xi] https://www dot entekhab dot ir/fa/news/720292/%D8%AC%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%84%DB%8C-%D9%86%D9%85%D8%A7%DB%8C%D9%86%D8%AF%D9%87-%D9%85%D8%AC%D9%84%D8%B3-%D8%AC%D8%B1%DB%8C%D9%85%D9%87-%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%84%DB%8C-%D8%A8%D8%AF%D8%AD%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%A8%E2%80%8C%D9%87%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%DB%B5%DB%B0%DB%B0-%D9%87%D8%B2%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%AA%D9%88%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%AA%D8%A7-%DB%B3-%D9%85%DB%8C%D9%84%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%AF-%D8%AA%D9%88%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%B7%D8%A7%D9%84-%DA%AF%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%87%DB%8C%D9%86%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%87-%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%86%D8%AF%DA%AF%DB%8C-%D9%88-%D9%BE%D8%A7%D8%B3%D9%BE%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%AA-%D9%88-%D9%87%D9%85%DA%86%D9%86%DB%8C%D9%86-%D9%85%D9%85%D9%86%D9%88%D8%B9%DB%8C%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%81%D8%A7%D8%AF%D9%87-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D8%A7%DB%8C%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%86%D8%AA-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%A8%D8%B1%DB%8C%D8%AA%DB%8C-%D9%87%D8%A7-%D9%88-%D8%B5%D8%A7%D8%AD%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%86-%DA%A9%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%A7%D9%84-%D9%87%D8%A7 [xii] https://www dot entekhab dot ir/fa/news/720292/%D8%AC%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%84%DB%8C-%D9%86%D9%85%D8%A7%DB%8C%D9%86%D8%AF%D9%87-%D9%85%D8%AC%D9%84%D8%B3-%D8%AC%D8%B1%DB%8C%D9%85%D9%87-%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%84%DB%8C-%D8%A8%D8%AF%D8%AD%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%A8%E2%80%8C%D9%87%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%DB%B5%DB%B0%DB%B0-%D9%87%D8%B2%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%AA%D9%88%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%AA%D8%A7-%DB%B3-%D9%85%DB%8C%D9%84%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%AF-%D8%AA%D9%88%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%B7%D8%A7%D9%84-%DA%AF%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%87%DB%8C%D9%86%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%87-%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%86%D8%AF%DA%AF%DB%8C-%D9%88-%D9%BE%D8%A7%D8%B3%D9%BE%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%AA-%D9%88-%D9%87%D9%85%DA%86%D9%86%DB%8C%D9%86-%D9%85%D9%85%D9%86%D9%88%D8%B9%DB%8C%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%81%D8%A7%D8%AF%D9%87-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D8%A7%DB%8C%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%86%D8%AA-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%A8%D8%B1%DB%8C%D8%AA%DB%8C-%D9%87%D8%A7-%D9%88-%D8%B5%D8%A7%D8%AD%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%86-%DA%A9%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%A7%D9%84-%D9%87%D8%A7 [xiii]https://www dot asriran dot com/fa/news/870680/%D9%86%D9%85%D8%A7%DB%8C%D9%86%D8%AF%D9%87-%D9%85%D8%AC%D9%84%D8%B3-%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%AD%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%A8-%D8%B3%D8%B1-%D8%AC%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%AE%D9%88%D8%AF%D8%B4-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%A7-%D9%86%D9%87-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%AE%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%AF-%D9%81%DB%8C%D8%B2%DB%8C%DA%A9%DB%8C-%D8%A7%D9%86%DA%86%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%AE%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%87%D8%AF-%D8%B4%D8%AF-%D9%86%D9%87-%DA%A9%D8%B3%DB%8C-%D8%AF%D8%B3%D8%AA%DA%AF%DB%8C%D8%B1-%D9%85%DB%8C-%D8%B4%D9%88%D8%AF-%D8%AD%D8%AA%DB%8C-%D8%AA%D8%B0%DA%A9%D8%B1-%D8%B4%D9%81%D8%A7%D9%87%DB%8C-%D9%87%D9%85-%D9%86%DB%8C%D8%B3%D8%AA-%D9%81%D9%82%D8%B7-%D9%85%D8%AF%DB%8C%D8%B1%DB%8C%D8%AA-%D9%87%D9%88%D8%B4%D9%85%D9%86%D8%AF-%D9%85%DB%8C%E2%80%8C%D8%B4%D9%88%D8%AF [xiv] https://www dot entekhab dot ir/fa/news/720257/%D9%85%D8%AD%D8%B3%D9%86-%D8%B1%D9%81%D9%82%DB%8C%D8%AF%D9%88%D8%B3%D8%AA-%D8%B1%D8%B9%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%AA-%D8%AD%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%A8-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D8%B2%D9%88%D8%B1-%D9%88%D8%A7%DA%A9%D9%86%D8%B4-%D9%85%D9%86%D9%81%DB%8C-%D8%A8%D9%87-%D9%87%D9%85%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%87-%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%AF-%D8%AA%D8%B9%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%AF-%D8%B4%D9%87%D8%AF%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D9%86%DB%8C%D8%B1%D9%88%DB%8C-%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%B8%D8%A7%D9%85%DB%8C-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%DA%A9%D8%B4%D8%AA%D9%87%E2%80%8C%D9%87%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%AD%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%AF%D8%AB-%D9%BE%D8%A7%DB%8C%DB%8C%D8%B2-%DB%B1%DB%B4%DB%B0%DB%B1-%D8%A8%DB%8C%D8%B4%D8%AA%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA-%DB%B3%DB%B5-%D9%85%DB%8C%D9%84%DB%8C%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D8%AC%D9%85%D8%B9%DB%8C%D8%AA-%DA%A9%D8%B4%D9%88%D8%B1-%D8%B2%D9%86%D8%AF%DA%AF%DB%8C-%D8%B3%D8%AE%D8%AA%DB%8C-%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%86%D8%AF [xv]https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-20-2023 [xvi]https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-17-2023 [xvii]https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-20-2023 [xviii]https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-january-10-2023 [xix]https://www.bbc.com/persian/articles/cldln29zlwwo [xx] https://www dot entekhab dot ir/fa/news/720364/%D8%A7%D8%AD%D9%85%D8%AF-%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%AA%D9%85%DB%8C-%D8%AD%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%A8-%D8%A2%D9%82%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A7%DB%8C%D9%86-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA-%DA%A9%D9%87-%D9%84%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B3%DB%8C-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D8%A2%D8%B1%D9%85-%D9%88-%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%AA-%D8%A8%DB%8C%DA%AF%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%87-%D9%86%D9%BE%D9%88%D8%B4%D9%86%D8%AF-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A8%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%AF-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D8%AD%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%A8-%D8%A8%D9%87-%D8%B9%D9%86%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%86-%DB%8C%DA%A9-%D9%86%D8%B9%D9%85%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%81%D8%A7%D8%AF%D9%87-%DA%A9%D9%86%D9%86%D8%AF-%D9%86%D8%B8%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85%DB%8C-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%A7%DB%8C%D9%86-%D8%A2%D9%85%D8%AF%D9%87-%DA%A9%D9%87-%D8%AD%D9%82-%D8%A8%D9%87-%D8%AD%D9%82%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%B3%D8%AF [xxi] https://www dot eghtesadonline dot com/%D8%A8%D8%AE%D8%B4-%D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B3%DB%8C-120/708397-%D8%A8%DB%8C%D8%AD%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%A8%DB%8C-%DA%A9%D8%B1%D9%88%D9%86%D8%A7 [xxii]https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1639612574110191616?cxt=HHwWgMDQkd-8icEtAAAA; https://twitter.com/RadioFarda_/status/1639664525044580353?cxt=HHwWgoC84deMocEtAAAA [xxiii]https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1639993419652005894?cxt=HHwWjICwxe_UtsItAAAA; https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1639977585021943808?cxt=HHwWgICwrZa7r8ItAAAA; https://twitter.com/RadioFarda_/status/1639981266291269637?cxt=HHwWioCx-bmRscItAAAA   [xxiv]https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1639911352356466690?cxt=HHwWhMCzxfarkcItAAAA; https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1639929367152283648?cxt=HHwWgMC-ncPEmcItAAAA; https://twitter.com/RadioFarda_/status/1639980107077959682?cxt=HHwWhIC2kf3NsMItAAAA [xxv] https://twitter.com/KurdistanHRN/status/1639999966025338880?cxt=HHwWgMC-6fXRucItAAAA; https://twitter.com/RadioFarda_/status/1639980623010967558?cxt=HHwWjMC9kYHssMItAAAA; https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1639997298389184513?cxt=HHwWgsCzsdK2uMItAAAA; https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1639976419806658561?cxt=HHwWgoC-6az3rsItAAAA   [xxvi]https://www dot en-hrana dot org/teacher-union-activist-soleiman-abdi-arrested-in-saqqez/ [xxvii]https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1639993607170949122?cxt=HHwWhICw1eTftsItAAAA; https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1640020610834202627?cxt=HHwWhoC80c2Dw8ItAAAA [xxviii]https://en dot mehrnews dot com/news/179211/Several-people-arrested-in-Iran-over-crypto-currency-scam [xxix]https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1640335832358715394?cxt=HHwWhICwgfWv0sMtAAAA [xxx] https://www.entekhab dot ir/fa/news/720187/%D9%81%D8%B1%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AF%D9%87-%DB%8C%DA%AF%D8%A7%D9%86%E2%80%8C%D9%87%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D9%88%DB%8C%DA%98%D9%87-%D9%BE%D9%84%DB%8C%D8%B3-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%84-%DB%B1%DB%B4%DB%B0%DB%B2-%D8%A8%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%AF-%D8%B8%D8%B1%D9%81%DB%8C%D8%AA-%D8%AE%D9%88%D8%AF-%D8%B1%D8%A7-%D8%AF%D9%88-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%B1-%DA%A9%D9%86%DB%8C%D9%85-%D8%AA%D8%A7-%D8%A8%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C%D9%85-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D9%85%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%A8%D9%84%D9%87-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%A2%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%85%DB%8C%E2%80%8C%D9%87%D8%A7-%DB%B4%DB%B0%DB%B0-%D9%86%D9%82%D8%B7%D9%87-%D8%B1%D8%A7-%D9%BE%D9%88%D8%B4%D8%B4-%D8%AF%D9%87%DB%8C%D9%85 ; https://www.radiofarda dot com/a/anti-riot-police-iran-protests-suppression/32333932.html [xxxi]https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/iran-crisis-update-january-31-2023 [xxxii]https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-22-2023 [xxxiii]https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1640073344161574915?cxt=HHwWhsCzxYuB28ItAAAA [xxxiv]https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-24-2023 [xxxv]http://www.president dot ir/fa/143091 ; http://www.president dot ir/fa/143093 ; http://www.president dot ir/fa/143123 ; http://www.president dot ir/fa/143119 [xxxvi]https://www.farsnews dot ir/news/14020107000556/مخبر-مهار-تورم-از-طریق-رشد-اقتصادی-و-مردمی-سازی-اقتصاد-به-دست-می%E2%80%8Cآید [xxxvii]https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-22-2023 [xxxviii]https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-21-2023; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-23-2023 [xxxix]https://www.entekhab dot ir/fa/news/720371/%D8%B9%D8%B6%D9%88-%DA%A9%D8%A7%D8%B1%DA%AF%D8%B1%DB%8C-%D8%B4%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%B9%D8%A7%D9%84%DB%8C-%DA%A9%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%AF%D8%B1%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%87-%D9%85%D8%B2%D8%AF-%DB%B1%DB%B4%DB%B0%DB%B2-%DA%A9%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%81%D8%B1%D9%85%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D9%82%D8%A8%D9%84-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84%D8%AA-%D8%A8%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%87-%D8%A8%D9%88%D8%AF%D9%86%D8%AF-%D9%82%D8%A8%D9%84-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D8%AC%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%87-%D9%86%D9%87%D8%A7%DB%8C%DB%8C-%D8%AF%D9%88-%D8%B7%D8%B1%D9%81-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D9%87%D9%85-%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%81%D9%82-%DA%A9%D8%B1%D8%AF%D9%87-%D8%A8%D9%88%D8%AF%D9%86%D8%AF-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D9%85%DB%8C%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%87-%DA%A9%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84%D8%AA-%D8%A8%D8%AD%D8%AB-%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%87-%D9%85%D8%B9%DB%8C%D8%B4%D8%AA%DB%8C-%D8%B1%D8%A7-%D9%BE%DB%8C%D8%B4-%DA%A9%D8%B4%DB%8C%D8%AF-%D9%88-%D8%A7%D8%AF%D8%B9%D8%A7-%DA%A9%D8%B1%D8%AF-%D8%A8%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%AF-%D9%85%D8%A8%D9%84%D8%BA-%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%87-%D8%B1%D8%A7-%D8%AC%D8%B2%D9%88-%D8%AF%D8%B1%DB%8C%D8%A7%D9%81%D8%AA%DB%8C-%DA%A9%D8%A7%D8%B1%DA%AF%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D9%86%D8%B8%D8%B1-%DA%AF%D8%B1%D9%81%D8%AA   [xl] https://www.entekhab dot ir/fa/news/720288/%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%86%DA%A9-%D9%85%D8%B1%DA%A9%D8%B2%DB%8C-%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%85-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D9%81%D9%86%D8%AF-%DB%B4%DB%B6%DB%B5-%D8%AF%D8%B1%D8%B5%D8%AF-%D8%A8%D9%88%D8%AF ; https://www.tasnimnews dot com/fa/news/1402/01/07/2872234/موتور-تولید-تورم-خاموش-شد-تورم-50-سال-پیش-ریشه-دواند ; https://www.iranintl dot com/en/202303269039 [xli] https://irandataportal.syr.edu/the-supreme-labor-council [xlii]https://bonbast dot com/ [xliii]https://www.tasnimnews dot com/fa/news/1402/01/07/2872481/شمخانی-هیچ-محدودیتی-برای-گسترش-مناسبات-با-کشورهای-همسایه-قائل-نیستیم [xliv]https://www.irna dot ir/news/85067523/%D8%A7%D9%85%DB%8C%D8%B1%D8%B9%D8%A8%D8%AF%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%84%D9%87%DB%8C%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D9%88%D8%B2%DB%8C%D8%B1-%D9%85%D8%B4%D8%A7%D9%88%D8%B1-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%88%D8%B1-%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%AC%D9%87-%D9%82%D8%B7%D8%B1-%D8%AF%DB%8C%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B1-%DA%A9%D8%B1%D8%AF [xlv] https://mfa dot ir/portal/NewsView/715250 [xlvi]https://www.irna dot ir/news/85066907/%DA%AF%D9%81%D8%AA%DA%AF%D9%88%DB%8C-%D8%AA%D9%84%D9%81%D9%86%DB%8C-%D9%88%D8%B2%DB%8C%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%88%D8%B1-%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%AC%D9%87-%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D9%88%D8%B2%DB%8C%D8%B1-%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%AC%D9%87-%D9%88-%D9%87%D9%85%DA%A9%D8%A7%D8%B1%DB%8C-%D9%87%D8%A7%DB%8C [xlvii]https://www.irna dot ir/news/85066842/%DA%AF%D9%81%D8%AA%DA%AF%D9%88%DB%8C-%D8%AA%D9%84%D9%81%D9%86%DB%8C-%D9%88%D8%B2%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%88%D8%B1-%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%AC%D9%87-%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%88-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%DB%8C%D9%87 [xlviii]https://www.irna dot ir/news/85067537/%DA%A9%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%84-%D8%AE%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%B2%DB%8C-%D9%BE%DB%8C%D8%B4%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%AF-%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%B7-%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%AC%DB%8C-%DA%A9%D8%B4%D9%88%D8%B1-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D9%87%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%87%D9%86%DA%AF%DB%8C-%DA%A9%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%85-%D9%85%DB%8C-%DA%AF%DB%8C%D8%B1%D8%AF [xlix]https://amwaj dot media/media-monitor/iran-warns-us-against-attacking-bases-in-syria ; https://amwaj dot media/media-monitor/deep-dive-iran-inks-security-accord-with-iraq-as-regional-diplomacy-revved-up ; https://twitter.com/SaeedAzimi1772/status/1637430437655060481?s=20 ; https://www.middleeasteye dot net/news/saudi-arabia-iran-reconciliation-khamenei-office-agreed-stop-arming-houthis ; [l] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-17-2023#_edn9c063d5301ae721f48bd70569f5b3705ref18 [li] https://www.wsj.com/articles/russia-supplies-iran-with-cyber-weapons-as-military-cooperation-grows-b14b94cd [lii] http://www.nournews dot ir/fa/news/137890 [liii]https://twitter.com/Tammuz_Intel/status/1639755923244605440; https://twitter.com/Tammuz_Intel/status/1639736260716642306; https://twitter.com/Tammuz_Intel/status/1639671505012310017; https://twitter.com/Tammuz_Intel/status/1639656414204313602; https://twitter.com/Tammuz_Intel/status/1639609052345905155; https://twitter.com/Tammuz_Intel/status/1639544106190766081; https://twitter.com/Tammuz_Intel/status/1639601411691360256; https://twitter.com/Tammuz_Intel/status/1639535714139291648; https://twitter.com/Tammuz_Intel/status/1639535714139291648; [liv] https://twitter.com/Tammuz_Intel/status/1639736657468350464; https://twitter.com/Tammuz_Intel/status/1639685449135321088; [lv] https://twitter.com/Mh_W99/status/1640459806363516930; https://twitter.com/wn_8kn/status/1640444689168867333; https://twitter.com/Aliraqibinsumer/status/1640463126184488961; https://twitter.com/Aliraqibinsumer/status/1640461814507945984 [lvi] https://twitter.com/Tammuz_Intel/status/1640403535190802433; https://twitter.com/vvwiiwvv/status/1640453528157143040 [lvii]https://www.kurdistan24dot net/ar/story/36979-%D9%85%D8%AD%D8%AA%D8%AC%D9%88%D9%86-%D9%8A%D8%BA%D9%84%D9%82%D9%88%D9%86-%D9%85%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%AE%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D8%A8%D9%88%D8%A8%D9%8A-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B5%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%83%D9%88%D9%86%D9%83%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%AA%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A5%D8%AD%D8%AA%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%AC%D8%A7-%D8%B9%D9%84%DB%8C-%D8%AA%D9%85%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%B1-%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D9%86-%22-%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA-%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%83%D9%88%22. ; https://twitter.com/alrafidain_tv/status/1640451123537661954; https://twitter.com/dhurgham_90/status/1640431555205033986; https://twitter.com/tele_iraq/status/1640352876030468104; https://twitter.com/AlHadath/status/1640341395369017344; https://twitter.com/linaassil_assil/status/1640448678488842240 [lviii]https://twitter.com/17Montazer/status/1640453344564002819; https://twitter.com/NewsShafaaq/status/1640447533104111622; https://twitter.com/75suhair/status/1640449107281215488 [lix] https://twitter.com/vvwiiwvv/status/1640445460065165319; https://twitter.com/Youssef_199999/status/1640427488374407169; https://twitter.com/75suhair/status/1640449238545866757 [lx] https://twitter.com/JanabiRasha/status/1640435325615874056; https://twitter.com/AlArabiya_Iraq/status/1640424946475122688; https://twitter.com/aboali2000ali/status/1640466171806842885 [lxi] https://media.shafaq dot com/media/arcella_files/1679869229506()%D9%A2%D9%A2.pdf ; https://shafaq dot com/ar/%D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%A9/%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%81%D9%88%D8%B6%D9%89-%D8%AA%D8%B9%D9%88%D8%AF-%D9%84%D9%84%D8%A8%D8%B1%D9%84%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%82%D9%8A-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%A7%D9%84-%D9%85%D8%AA%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84-%D8%AE%D9%8A%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%85%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%B1-%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AA ; https://www.kurdistan24 dot net/ar/story/36966-%D8%AA%D8%B9%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%84-%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A8%D8%B1%D9%84%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%82-%D9%88%D8%B3%D8%B7-%D9%85%D8%B9%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%B6%D8%A9-%D8%A3%D8%AD%D8%B2%D8%A7%D8%A8-%D9%85%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%82%D9%84%D8%A9   [lxii]https://twitter.com/Tammuz_Intel/status/1639997115387486208 ; [lxiii]https://www dot alaraby.co.uk/node/6309171 ; https://shafaq dot com/ar/%D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%A9/%D9%82%D9%88%D9%89-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%BA%D9%8A%D9%8A%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%85%D9%82%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%B7%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%AA%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%86-%D8%AA-%D9%8A%D9%8A%D8%AF%D9%87%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%AD%D8%AA%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%B6%D8%AF-%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D9%85%D8%B3%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%88%D9%85-%D9%88%D8%AA%D8%AD%D8%B0%D8%B1-%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D9%86%D9%8 [lxiv]https://moqawama dot org/essaydetails.php?eid=36515&cid=330

[Author: Institute for the Study of War] [Category: Iran]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 3/27/23 9:17pm
Grace Mappes, Karolina Hird, Layne Philipson, and Frederick W. Kagan March 27, 7:15pm ET Click here to see ISW’s interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.Click here to access ISW’s archive of interactive time-lapse maps of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These maps complement the static control-of-terrain maps that ISW produces daily by showing a dynamic frontline. ISW will update this time-lapse map archive monthly.Rumors about the dismissal of Russian Eastern Group of Forces (Eastern Military District) Commander Colonel General Rustam Muradov on March 27 generated a muted and cynical response in the Russian information space. The milbloggers claimed that Russian military authorities dismissed Muradov from his position as Eastern Group of Forces commander, but ISW cannot currently verify these claims.[1] Muradov took command of the Russian Eastern Military District (EMD) on October 6, 2022, and has overseen a series of disastrous offensive operations led by EMD elements in western Donetsk Oblast over the past five months.[2] One milblogger claimed that Muradov is on “vacation,” which the milblogger noted is tantamount to resignation. Others claimed that Muradov’s removal is a positive step but stated that Muradov’s replacement is more important than his removal.[3] Some milbloggers noted that Muradov was responsible for significant Russian military failures in western Donetsk Oblast, including the high casualties suffered in the assault against Pavlivka in October-November 2022 and the prolonged and failed effort to take Vuhledar.[4] Independent Russian investigative outlet Vazhnye Istorii (iStories), citing sources close to the Russian General Staff, reported that the Russian General Staff accused Muradov of being inept due to battlefield failures and significant losses in western Donetsk Oblast, including the near obliteration of the Tatarstan ”Alga” volunteer battalion.[5] One prominent milblogger claimed that military authorities are also considering dismissing Western Military District Commander Colonel General Yevgeny Nikiforov, whose forces operate along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line in eastern Ukraine.[6]  ISW cannot confirm the rumors of either Muradov’s or Nikiforov’s dismissals, but it is noteworthy that Russian milbloggers are discussing potential dismissals of commanders associated with areas of operation in which Russian forces have been largely unable to secure substantial gains or have suffered major losses. Russian milbloggers do not appear to be hypothesizing about the removal of either the Central Military District (CMD) Commander Lieutenant General Andrey Mordvichev or Southern Military District Commander (SMD) Colonel General Sergey Kuzovlev.[7] Neither the CMD nor the SMD are heavily committed in critical areas of the front, and Mordvichev and Kuzovlev have therefore likely avoided becoming targets of Russian command skepticism because they are not currently responsible for significant failures. The muted information space response to the reported firings is additionally indicative of broader disillusionment with Russian military command, which milbloggers have argued for months needs systemic overhauls. Many milbloggers have consistently praised former Commander of Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine Army General Sergey Surovikin despite the fall of west (right) bank Kherson Oblast under his command, however. One milblogger claimed on March 27 that Surovikin may be responsible for defending against a future Ukrainian counteroffensive and claimed that Surovikin’s military strategy is better than that of Russian Chief of the General Staff and current Commander of Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine Army General Valery Gerasimov.[8]  Russian authorities and some milbloggers have fixated on identifying and punishing individual commanders for the failures of their troops, rather than interrogating and resolving endemic issues in Russian command and control, force structure, and deployment patterns.Russian milbloggers also had a muted response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s March 25 announcement that Russia will deploy tactical nukes to Belarus, suggesting that Putin’s messaging is aimed at Western rather than domestic Russian audiences. Many milbloggers and news aggregators simply amplified various points from Putin’s March 25 interview that artificially inflate the capabilities of the Russian military and defense industrial base (DIB) to sustain a prolonged war effort, as well as the nuclear weapons deployment announcement itself.[9] One milblogger correctly noted that deploying tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus does not improve Russia’s military situation in Ukraine, claiming that Russian forces need to instead prepare for a future Ukrainian counteroffensive, and criticized continued Russian military command and organization issues.[10] Another milblogger recognized that Putin targeted his nuclear weapons deployment announcement at the West and praised the prospect of being the ”nightmare” of the US.[11]Russian military leadership likely committed limited higher quality Wagner Group elements to the offensive on Avdiivka, potentially to reinforce recent limited tactical successes in the area. Ukrainian Tavriisk Defense Forces Spokesperson Colonel Oleksiy Dmytrashkivyskyi stated on March 25 that Ukrainian intelligence forecasts that Wagner may appear in the Avdiivka direction.[12] A Russian VK user posted an obituary on March 26 announcing the death of Wagner Group fighter Yevgeny Malgotin in Avdiivka on March 20.[13] The obituary claims that Malgotin had prior military experience and fought with the 2nd Russian Volunteer Detachment of the Army of Republika Sprska (commonly referred to as the Bosnian Serb Army) in 1992.[14] Malgotin appears to have been a seasoned fighter, and likely represents the higher caliber of fighter that comprises Wagner’s special operations forces. While Wagner has heavily committed a majority convict-based force to operations near Bakhmut, there is likely a contingent of higher-quality operators at various locations in Ukraine. Russian military leadership may have decided to deploy certain Wagner elements to the Avdiivka area in recent weeks to support exhausted and lower-quality Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) elements in their efforts to take the settlement. If such Wagner fighters have been fighting near Avdiivka, their involvement may help explain the limited tactical gains made in the area over the past week.  Key TakeawaysRumors about the dismissal of Russian Eastern Group of Forces (Eastern Military District) Commander Colonel General Rustam Muradov on March 27 generated a muted and cynical response in the Russian information space.Russian milbloggers also had a muted response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s March 25 announcement to deploy tactical nukes to Belarus, underscoring that Putin’s messaging is aimed at Western rather than domestic Russian audiences.Russian military leadership likely committed limited higher quality Wagner Group elements to the offensive on Avdiivka, potentially to reinforce recent limited tactical successes in the area.Russian forces made marginal gains around Svatove and Russian forces continue ground attacks along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line.Russian forces continued ground attacks in and around Bakhmut and made gains within Bakhmut.Russian forces continued ground attacks along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line.Russia appears to be increasingly deploying elements of conventional formations in a piecemeal fashion along the entire frontline, including in southern Ukraine.Russian authorities continue forming new volunteer battalions subordinate to irregular formations.Ukrainian partisans conducted an improvised explosive device (IED) attack against an occupation law enforcement officer in Mariupol, Donetsk Oblast. We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because those activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We will continue to evaluate and report on the effects of these criminal activities on the Ukrainian military and population and specifically on combat in Ukrainian urban areas. We utterly condemn these Russian violations of the laws of armed conflict, Geneva Conventions, and humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.Russian Main Effort—Eastern Ukraine (comprised of two subordinate main efforts)Russian Subordinate Main Effort #1—Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and encircle northern Donetsk OblastRussian Subordinate Main Effort #2—Capture the entirety of Donetsk OblastRussian Supporting Effort—Southern AxisRussian Mobilization and Force Generation EffortsActivities in Russian-occupied AreasRussian Main Effort—Eastern UkraineRussian Subordinate Main Effort #1— Luhansk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and continue offensive operations into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and northern Donetsk Oblast)Russian forces continued ground attacks along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line on March 26 and 27 and have made marginal gains in the Svatove area as of March 27. Geolocated footage posted on March 27 indicates that Russian troops have advanced into Raihorodka, 12km west of Svatove.[15] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces continued unsuccessful offensive operations near Synkivka (10km northeast of Kupyansk), Kreminna, Bilohorivka (10km south of Kreminna), Vyimka (25km south of Kreminna), and Vesele (30km south of Kreminna) on March 26 and 27.[16] The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed on March 26 that elements of the Western Grouping of Forces (Western Military District) destroyed Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance groups near Stelmakhivka, 12km northwest of Svatove.[17] Russian milbloggers reported that elements of the Russian 331st Airborne (VDV) Regiment (98th Guards Airborne Division) and 76th Guards VDV Division are operating in forest areas near Kreminna.[18] A Russian military correspondent reportedly embedded with Russian troops near Kreminna claimed on March 26 that Russian paratroopers and unspecified naval infantry elements are advancing 500 meters per day near Kreminna and capturing Ukrainian fortified positions.[19] A Russian milblogger noted on March 27 that Russian forces are additionally continuing attempts to push west of Ploshchanka (15km north of Kreminna).[20] Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Serhiy Cherevaty reported on March 26 that Russian forces are conducting the highest number of artillery strikes along the entire Kupyansk-Lyman line and that there were 10 combat clashes on this line over the past day.[21] Russian Subordinate Main Effort #2—Donetsk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)Russian forces continued ground attacks in and around Bakhmut on March 26 and 27 and made gains within Bakhmut as of March 26. Geolocated footage posted on March 24 and 26 shows that Russian forces have likely advanced along Zelena Street and Oleksandry Kolpakovoi streets in northwestern Bakhmut.[22] Russian media outlet RIA Novosti additionally posted footage on March 26 confirming that Wagner Group fighters have advanced within the AZOM complex in northern Bakhmut.[23] Geolocated footage posted on March 27 shows Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin visiting School No.5 near central Bakhmut.[24] Russian milbloggers claimed that Wagner Group fighters reached the rail line in northern Bakhmut on March 26 and continued advancing within urban areas of northern and southwestern Bakhmut in an effort to reach Bakhmut’s city center on March 26 and 27.[25] A prominent milblogger noted on March 26 that Wagner is advancing in Bakhmut with support from unspecified conventional Russian elements, supporting ISW’s assessment that conventional formations are increasingly supporting Wagner’s offensive on Bakhmut.[26] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian troops repelled Russian attacks on Bakhmut itself; northwest of Bakhmut near Bohdanivka (6km northwest); west of Bakhmut near Ivanivske (5km west); and southwest of Bakhmut near Predtechyne (15km southwest) between March 26 and 27.[27] Ukrainian Eastern Group Spokesperson Colonel Serhiy Cherevaty noted on March 26 that the number of Russian attacks on Bakhmut is decreasing and suggested that Russian forces may be ”maneuvering with reserves” in the area.[28]Russian forces continued ground attacks in the Avdiivka-Donetsk City area on March 26 and 27. The Ukrainian General Staff reported on March 26 and 27 that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations near Avdiivka itself; in the Avdiivka area near Novokalynove (10km north of Avdiivka), Severne (5km west of Avdiivka), Tonenke (5km west of Avdiivka), Stepove (8km northwest of Avdiivka), and Novobakhmutivka (11km northwest of Avdiivka); on the northwestern outskirts of Donetsk City near Vodyane, Pervomaiske, Nevelske, and Krasnohorivka; and on the southwestern outskirts of Donetsk City near Marinka.[29] Avdiivka Military Administration Head Vitaly Barbarash announced on March 27 that communal service workers are evacuating Avdiivka and that the military administration will turn off mobile communications in the city due to the presence of Russian informants in the city.[30] Ukrainian Tavriisk Defense Forces Spokesperson Colonel Oleksiy Dmytrashkivyskyi stated on March 25 that elements of the Russian 10th Regiment (likely a Donetsk People’s Republic formation newly subordinated to Russian command) are fighting in the Avdiivka area.[31] Russian milbloggers continued to discuss Russian operations towards Avdiivka on both March 26 and March 27.[32] One milblogger claimed that Russian forces entered Novokalynove and are attacking towards Keramik.[33] Russian sources additionally claimed that Russian forces advanced on the northern outskirts of Marinka on March 26 and continued fighting for the settlement on March 27.[34] Geolocated footage posted on March 26 additionally shows that Russian forces have advanced north of Novomykhailivka, about 10km south of Avdiivka.[35] Dmytrashkivskyi noted that elements of the 200th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade (14th Army Corps, Northern Fleet) have recently engaged in Marinka.[36]Russian forces did not conduct any confirmed ground attacks in western Donetsk Oblast on March 26 or 27.[37] A Russian milblogger claimed on March 26 that Russian forces resumed offensive operations in the dacha area south of Vuhledar.[38] Geolocated footage posted on March 27 shows minor Russian advances in the southern dacha area about 3km southeast of Vuhledar.[39] Supporting Effort—Southern Axis (Russian objective: Maintain frontline positions and secure rear areas against Ukrainian strikes)Russia appears to be increasingly deploying elements of conventional formations in a piecemeal fashion along the entire frontline, including in southern Ukraine. Russian sources claimed on March 27 that the 136th Motorized Rifle Brigade (58th Combined Arms Army, Southern Military District) is operating in the Zaporizhia direction.[40] Personnel of the 136th Motorized Rifle Brigade previously claimed they would deploy to the Vuhledar direction to relieve the exhausted 155th Naval Infantry Brigade which is committed to the area, but a Russian milblogger claimed on March 21 that unspecified elements of the 136th Motorized Rifle Brigade are instead operating in the Avdiivka direction.[41] The apparent simultaneous commitment of elements of the 136th Motorized Rifle Brigade to two disparate areas of the frontline is notably not a doctrinally sound pattern of deployment. Other Russian sources claimed that unspecified Russian Airborne (VDV) personnel are operating near Hulyaipole, Zaporizhia Oblast.[42] Russia has deployed various VDV formations across the theater, further indicating that Russia has not concentrated its most elite forces for any concerted push in one discrete area  of the front.A Ukrainian official reported that Russian forces are shifting to the use of guided aerial bombs to strike areas in southern Ukraine.[43] Head of the United Coordination Press Center of the Southern Defense Forces, Nataliya Humenyuk, stated on March 26 that Russian forces have been testing guided aerial bombs along the contact line in Kherson Oblast for the past few days, and conducted a strike against Beryslav with these bombs on March 24.[44] Humenyuk also noted that Russian forces have decreased their tempo of shelling in Kherson Oblast from 90-100 instances to 50-60 instances per day. Ukrainian Air Force Spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat announced on March 25 that Russian forces are converting FAB-500 unguided aerial bombs into guided missiles to use as replacement for expensive cruise missiles.[45] Ihnat stated that these new aerial bombs have a range of 50 or more kilometers.Ukrainian forces continue to target Russian forces in southern Ukraine. Ukrainian forces conducted a HIMARS strike against a dormitory quartering Russian military and Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) personnel in occupied Melitopol, Zaporizhia Oblast.[46] Russian sources claimed that the technical school next to the dormitory held classes at the time of the strike.[47] Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command reported that Ukrainian forces struck three Russian force concentration areas in east (left) bank Kherson Oblast.[48]Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts (Russian objective: Expand combat power without conducting general mobilization)Russian authorities continue forming new volunteer battalions subordinate to irregular formations. Russian sources amplified recruitment advertisements for the “Uragan” volunteer battalion subordinate to the “Wolves” Sabotage and Reconnaissance Brigade, which operates in the Avdiivka direction.[49]The Russian federal government reportedly has delegated the establishment of a new contract force to Russian federal subjects, suggesting that the Russian government has not learned from the failures of partial mobilization. Independent Russian media outlet SOTA claimed on March 24 that Russian authorities tasked Moscow City authorities with recruiting 27,000 contract personnel and threatening a second formal wave of partial mobilization if such recruitment efforts fail.[50] Russian sources previously claimed that Russia aims to recruit 400,000 contract personnel, as ISW has previously reported.[51] Russian Security Council Deputy Chairperson Dmitry Medvedev called for Russia to establish a large contract army of 1.5 million personnel, but a milblogger criticized this effort and called for Medvedev to fix endemic issues in the Russian contract system.[52] The milblogger claimed that true contract armies are highly trained, motivated, and experienced, whereas Russian contract forces are not.[53]The impacts of the Wagner Group’s prior prison recruitment effort have generated discord in some areas in Russia, suggesting that Russian domestic efforts to stimulate support for the war are not as all-encompassing as Russian authorities may have hoped. Latvian-based Russian-language opposition outlet Meduza reported on three conflicts between residents of villages in Bashkortostan, Transbaikal, and Rostov Oblast in which the residents and settlement village authorities argued among themselves on whether to bury convicted murderers who died in Ukraine while fighting for Wagner with military honors.[54] Some residents praised the deceased convicts as heroes, while others noted that they had not forgotten the grief from the murders these men committed prior to fighting in Ukraine. Some Russians’ refusals to overlook the convicts’ past crimes for their service in Ukraine suggests that the war remains distant for significant swaths of Russian society, and additionally suggests that the reintegration of Wagner convicts into domestic society may be a source of considerable friction.Activity in Russian-occupied Areas (Russian objective: consolidate administrative control of annexed areas; forcibly integrate Ukrainian civilians into Russian sociocultural, economic, military, and governance systems)Ukrainian partisans conducted an improvised explosive device (IED) attack against an occupation law enforcement officer on March 27. The Ukrainian Resistance Center reported that local partisans wounded Russian occupation police chief Mykhailo Moskvin after blowing up his car in Mariupol on March 27.[55] Russian sources posted photos and video footage on March 27 showing the aftermath of the attack on Moskvin, who reportedly survived with a concussion.[56]Russian officials and occupation authorities approved a draft law on March 26 on the creation of a free economic zone (FEZ) in occupied territories. Ukrainian Kherson Oblast Military Administration Advisor Serhiy Khlan reported on March 27 that Russian occupation authorities plan to implement a FEZ in occupied Kherson Oblast, building on existing factories to produce single products such as tomato paste.[57] Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin claimed on March 26 that the Russian government met to discuss a draft law on creating a FEZ in occupied territories and establishing a simplified procedure for urban planning and land use.[58] A Russian source claimed that the Russian Cabinet of Ministers approved the draft law on March 26.[59]Russian occupation authorities continue to announce preparations for the September referendum in occupied territories. United Russia Secretary Andrey Turchak claimed on March 26 that preliminary voting is underway in occupied territories and that over 2,500 residents of occupied Kherson Oblast have already registered with the United Russia political party.[60] Turchak called for the creation of a People’s Program in the coming months for social support, which he claimed will allow political candidates to understand the most acute problems and propose specific budget allocations for their resolutions.[61]Russian occupation authorities continue efforts to eliminate the circulation of the Ukrainian hryvnia in occupied territories. Nova Kakhovka municipal district occupation administration head Pavel Filipchuk claimed on March 27 that anyone using the Ukrainian hryvnia in the Nova Kakhovka municipal district may face criminal charges and a possible prison sentence.[62]Significant activity in Belarus (ISW assesses that a Russian or Belarusian attack into northern Ukraine in early 2023 is extraordinarily unlikely and has thus restructured this section of the update. It will no longer include counter-indicators for such an offensive.)ISW will continue to report daily observed Russian and Belarusian military activity in Belarus, but these are not indicators that Russian and Belarusian forces are preparing for an imminent attack on Ukraine from Belarus. ISW will revise this text and its assessment if it observes any unambiguous indicators that Russia or Belarus is preparing to attack northern Ukraine.Ukrainian Border Guard Spokesman Andriy Demchenko stated on March 27 that the number of Russian forces in Belarus has decreased to 4,000.[63] Demchenko also stated that Russian command has partially transferred units previously trained in Belarus to eastern Ukraine.The Belarusian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed on March 27 that Belarusian forces are strengthening the security of their air borders.[64]Note: ISW does not receive any classified material from any source, uses only publicly available information, and draws extensively on Russian, Ukrainian, and Western reporting and social media as well as commercially available satellite imagery and other geospatial data as the basis for these reports. References to all sources used are provided in the endnotes of each update.[1] https://t.me/RVvoenkor/41415; https://t.me/rybar/45071 ; https://t.me/NeoficialniyBeZsonoV/23651; https://t.me/vladlentatarsky/20230; https://t.me/NeoficialniyBeZsonoV/2...[2] https://tass dot .com/defense/1519217[3] https://t.me/vladlentatarsky/20230; https://t.me/NeoficialniyBeZsonoV/23650[4] https://t.me/RVvoenkor/41415; https://t.me/vladlentatarsky/20230; https://t.me/NeoficialniyBeZsonoV/2... https://t.me/milinfolive/98494[5] https://t.me/istories_media/2282[6] https://t.me/rybar/45071 ; https://t.me/NeoficialniyBeZsonoV/23651[7] https://isw.pub/UkrWar021723 [8] https://t.me/SergeyKolyasnikov/47322; https://t.me/kommunist/16623[9] https://t.me/rybar/45046; https://t.me/readovkanews/55493; https://t.me/readovkanews/55475; https://t.me/readovkanews/55476; https://t.me/readovkanews/55473; https://t.me/readovkanews/55472; https://t.me/readovkanews/55468; https://t.me/readovkanews/55469;  https://t.me/readovkanews/55470; https://t.me/readovkanews/55471; https://t.me/readovkanews/55480; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/81381; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/81380; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/46318[10] https://t.me/vysokygovorit/11125; https://t.me/rt_special/3337[11] https://t.me/Sladkov_plus/7414[12] https://suspilne dot media/425655-rosia-budue-aderne-shovise-u-bilorusi-minoboroni-ukraini-zaklikalo-do-informacijnoi-tisi-396-den-vijni-onlajn/; https://suspilne dot media/425853-aktivizuvalisa-v-napramku-avdiivki-rosijski-vijskovi-315-raziv-strilali-po-doneckomu-napramku-dmitraskivskij/[13] https://twitter.com/Matrix0983/status/1640260433553571840?s=20   [14] https://twitter.com/Matrix0983/status/1640260433553571840/photo/2[15] https://twitter.com/PaulJawin/status/1640343948026683394; https://twitt... https://twitter.com/blinzka/status/1640315282890665985[16] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02FnK5bXUHWMsuvWNC48...[17] https://t.me/mod_russia/25114  [18] https://t.me/boris_rozhin/81405; https://t.me/rybar/45089[19] https://t.me/boris_rozhin/81448[20] https://t.me/rybar/45080[21] https://suspilne dot media/425655-rosia-budue-aderne-shovise-u-bilorusi-minoboroni-ukraini-zaklikalo-do-informacijnoi-tisi-396-den-vijni-onlajn/[22] https://twitter.com/GirkinGirkin/status/1639881216542253062 ; https://...[23] https://ria dot ru/20230326/artemovsk-1860697725.html ; https://t.me/rian_ru/198008 ; https://twitter.com/War_cube_/status/163...[24] https://twitter.com/War_cube_/status/1640321912751419396?s=20 ; https:...[25] https://t.me/rybar/45055; https://t.me/milchronicles/1708; https://t.m...[26] https://t.me/rybar/45055  [27] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02FnK5bXUHWMsuvWNC48...[28] https://suspilne dot media/425655-rosia-budue-aderne-shovise-u-bilorusi-minoboroni-ukraini-zaklikalo-do-informacijnoi-tisi-396-den-vijni-onlajn/; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5vvrb1YsqU  [29] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02FnK5bXUHWMsuvWNC48...[30] https://suspilne dot media/426144-z-avdiivki-evakuuut-komunalnu-sluzbu-u-misti-vimknut-mobilnij-zvazok-mva/[31] https://suspilne dot media/425655-rosia-budue-aderne-shovise-u-bilorusi-minoboroni-ukraini-zaklikalo-do-informacijnoi-tisi-396-den-vijni-onlajn/; https://suspilne dot media/425853-aktivizuvalisa-v-napramku-avdiivki-rosijski-vijskovi-315-raziv-strilali-po-doneckomu-napramku-dmitraskivskij/[32] https://t.me/wargonzo/11610; https://t.me/basurin_e/378https://t.me/war...[33] https://t.me/wargonzo/11625[34] https://t.me/rybar/45060; https://t.me/z_arhiv/19887; https://t.me/bas...[35] https://t.me/military_u/14559; https://twitter.com/GeoConfirmed/status/... https://twitter.com/GloOouD/status/1639984364032327681?s=20[36] https://suspilne dot media/425655-rosia-budue-aderne-shovise-u-bilorusi-minoboroni-ukraini-zaklikalo-do-informacijnoi-tisi-396-den-vijni-onlajn/; https://suspilne dot media/425853-aktivizuvalisa-v-napramku-avdiivki-rosijski-vijskovi-315-raziv-strilali-po-doneckomu-napramku-dmitraskivskij/[37] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02FnK5bXUHWMsuvWNC48...[38] https://t.me/wargonzo/11610  [39] https://twitter.com/JagdBandera/status/1640271413301968896; https://t.me/WarArchive_ua/578[40] https://t.me/russian_shock_volunteer_brigade/87; https://t.me/basurin_e/380[41] https://t.me/vladlentatarsky/20127 ; https://isw.pub/UkrWar030923; https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Russian%20Offensive...[42] https://t.me/akimapachev/4204; https://t.me/NeoficialniyBeZsonoV/23682[43] https://suspilne dot media/426303-kilkist-obstriliv-pravobereznoi-castini-hersonsini-suttevo-zmensilas-gumenuk-pro-robotu-sil-oboroni-pivdna/[44] https://suspilne dot media/425733-dvi-dobi-pospil-armia-rf-atakue-hersonsinu-samorobnimi-kerovanimi-bombami-ale-u-nas-e-dosvid-ih-zbitta-gumenuk/[45] https://suspilne dot media/425031-mzs-sprostuvalo-zaavi-oon-sodo-zorstokogo-povodzenna-z-polonenimi-rf-boi-za-bahmut-trivaut-395-den-vijni-onlajn/; https://armyinform.com dot ua/2023/03/25/vorog-mozhe-skydaty-svoyi-planuyuchi-aviabomby-na-vidstani-50-i-bilshe-kilometriv-ne-dohodyachy-do-nashogo-kordonu-yurij-ignat/[46] https://t.me/riamelitopol/8657; https://twitter.com/bayraktar_1love/status/1640254569446797312?s=20; https://t.me/riamelitopol/86616`[47] https://t.me/vrogov/8369; https://t.me/vrogov/8370; https://t.me/vrogov/8371; https://t.me/vrogov/8374; https://t.me/vrogov/8376; https://t.me/vrogov/8377; https://t.me/vrogov/8378; https://t.me/vrogov/8381; https://t.me/vrogov/8382; https://t.me/readovkanews/55547; https://t.me/readovkanews/55551; http... https://t.me/readovkanews/55549; https://t.me/readovkanews/55552[48] https://www.facebook.com/OperationalCommandSouth/posts/pfbid02xpSLSUAWPh...[49] https://t.me/notes_veterans/8645; https://t.me/interbrigady2022/1681[50] https://t.me/sotaproject/55986;[51] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-ass...[52] https://tass dpt ru/armiya-i-opk/17367219; https://t.me/notes_veterans/8651[53] https://t.me/notes_veterans/8651[54] https://meduza dot io/feature/2023/03/27/etot-vash-geroy-szheg-rodnuyu-mat-i-sestru[55] https://sprotyv.mod dot gov.ua/2023/03/27/u-mariupoli-pidirvaly-avtivku-golovnogo-misczevogo-policzaya/[56] https://t.me/milinfolive/98503; https://t.me/rybar/45094; https://t.me... io/news/2023/03/27/v-okkupirovannom-rf-mariupole-vzorvali-avtomobil-nachalnika-politsii; https://ria dot ru/20230327/mariupol-1860869273.html  [57] https://www.facebook.com/sergey.khlan/posts/pfbid0kddZqG4PFqgwxLcDXcHvC8...[58] https://t.me/VGA_Kherson/8075; https://t.me/readovkanews/55497  [59] https://t.me/readovkanews/55497[60] https://t.me/VGA_Kherson/8079  [61] https://t.me/VGA_Kherson/8079  [62] https://t.me/VGA_Kherson/8084; https://t.me/VGA_Kakhovka/6882  [63] https://suspilne dot media/426234-u-bilorusi-zalisilos-4-tisaci-rosijskih-vijskovih-dpsu/[64] https://t.me/modmilby/24863  

[Author: Institute for the Study of War] [Category: Russia, Ukraine]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 3/26/23 9:01pm
Karolina Hird, Grace Mappes, Angela Howard, Nicole Wolkov, George Barros, and Frederick W. KaganMarch 24, 4:30pm ETClick here to see ISW’s interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.Click here to access ISW’s archive of interactive time-lapse maps of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These maps complement the static control-of-terrain maps that ISW produces daily by showing a dynamic frontline. ISW will update this time-lapse map archive monthly.Prominent voices in the Russian information space are increasingly setting information conditions to prepare for a potential Ukrainian counteroffensive. Russian Security Council Deputy Head Dmitry Medvedev emphasized on March 24 that the Russian General Staff is aware that Kyiv is preparing for offensive operations and that the Russian General Staff is considering its own decisions and responses to prepare for a Ukrainian offensive.[1] A prominent Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian actors are disseminating disinformation about plans for a Ukrainian attack towards Belgorod Oblast, in order to draw Russian troops to border areas and allow Ukrainian troops to launch attacks on other sectors of the front, partially echoing Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin’s prior warnings about a Ukrainian push on Belgorod Oblast.[2] Another Russian milblogger warned that Ukrainian forces will likely try to launch a counteroffensive before the Russian defense industrial base (DIB) gains the capacity to increase production and bolster Russian defensive potential.[3] Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin similarly claimed on March 23 that he knows of plans for an extensive Ukrainian counteroffensive, as ISW previously reported.[4] The wider Russian spring offensive appears to be culminating, and the Russian information space appears to be responding to the slow-down of Russian operations and potential for Ukraine to regain the initiative with substantial anxiety.[5] Russian military command will need to commit a significant number of forces to the frontline to either prevent culmination or launch renewed offensive operations, and it is unlikely that such forces exist at sufficient scale to do either.Crimean occupation head Sergey Aksyonov has reportedly formed a Wagner Group-affiliated private military company (PMC) in occupied Crimea. Independent Russian investigative outlet Vazhnye Istorii (iStories) reported on March 23 that Aksyonov has publicly sided with Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin against the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and created PMC “Convoy” under the leadership of Prigozhin associate Konstantin Pikalov, who has led Wagner operations in Africa.[6] PMC ”Convoy” is reportedly a BARS (combat reserve) unit, meaning that ”Convoy” servicemembers sign two contracts—one with ”Convoy” itself and one with the Russian MoD.[7] iStories reported that ”Convoy” initially consisted of 300 people and has been deployed to occupied Kherson Oblast.[8] The iStories report is particularly noteworthy against the backdrop of Wagner’s and Prigozhin’s continually declining influence in Russia and loss of access to convict recruits. Prigozhin and Prigozhin-affiliated elements may be trying to diffuse Wagner’s remaining power by creating separate PMCs and other parallel military formations in addition to launching new recruitment efforts through traditional channels.[9] Aksyonov additionally appears to have affiliated himself and the Crimea occupation administration with Prigozhin, which may have important implications for the role of forces from occupied Crimea in subsequent phases of the war.Some prominent Russian milbloggers criticized the Russian military command for continuing to impale Russian forces on Vuhledar with ineffective human-wave style frontal assaults. The milbloggers claimed that current Russian tactics against Vuhledar, which include an initial frontal assault followed by assaults against fortified Ukrainian flanks, result in high Russian combat losses resulting in no gains due to challenging terrain, lack of combat power, and failure to surprise Ukrainian forces.[10] The milbloggers called on Russian forces to cut Ukrainian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) into Vuhledar both with strikes against rear GLOCs and by encircling the settlement for a multi-vector attack, but implied that Russian forces are unable to implement these suggestions due to munitions shortages and the failure to take many settlements surrounding Vuhledar.[11] Russian forces are unable to sustain any significant rate of advance anywhere on the front line using these human-wave style attacks, and the Vuhledar area once held informational significance to Russian milbloggers during the offensive for Pavlivka in in late October and early November 2022.[12] The Russian 155th Naval Infantry Brigade has been destroyed and reconstituted as many as eight times since the start of the war in large part due losses sustained during the prolonged effort against Vuhledar.[13] The re-emergence of vitriolic criticism about Russian failures near Vuhledar likely reflects the information space’s ongoing frustration with the Russian military command amid deep-seated fear about a prospective future Ukrainian counteroffensive. It is possible that Russian forces are undertaking a renewed and inconsistent push to take Vuhledar in the style of limited and localized ground attacks, though it is also possible that the sources claiming as such are engaging in circular reporting or re-reporting old events.[14]Russian President Vladimir Putin held a meeting with the Russian Security Council likely as part of his effort to portray himself as a present and effective wartime leader. The meeting centered around Russia’s effort to develop its electronics industry, though the Kremlin readout provides little detail about the meeting itself.[15] Russia has been seeking ways to mitigate the effect of Western sanctions on the Russian defense industrial base (DIB), which relies on electronics to produce advanced materiel and weaponry.[16] Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has notably claimed that Belarus can produce weapons for Russia given Belarus’s access to electronics, and Russia and Belarus recently signed an agreement on furthering their respective electronics industries.[17] This meeting likely aimed to portray Putin as holding the Russian Security Council responsible for mobilizing the DIB to meet wartime demands while not providing evidence of any progress towards this goal.Key TakeawaysProminent voices in the Russian information space are increasingly setting information conditions to prepare for a potential Ukrainian counteroffensive.Crimean occupation head Sergey Aksyonov has reportedly formed a Wagner Group-affiliated private military company (PMC) in occupied Crimea.Some prominent Russian milbloggers criticized the Russian military command for continuing to impale Russian forces on Vuhledar with ineffective human-wave style frontal assaults.Russian President Vladimir Putin held a meeting with the Russian Security Council likely as part of his effort to portray himself as a present and effective wartime leader.Russian forces conducted limited attacks along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line.Russian forces have made gains in and around Bakhmut and conducted ground attacks in the Avdiivka-Donetsk City area.The Ukrainian General Staff corrected its March 23 statement that Russian forces withdrew from Nova Kakhovka, occupied Kherson Oblast.Russian occupation authorities announced the creation of a pro-Russian militaristic youth movement aimed at brainwashing children.The Russian government is adopting new measures to revitalize and eliminate corruption, lethargy, and resistance in Russia’s defense industrial base (DIB).The United Kingdom Ministry of Defense (UK MoD) reported on March 24 that at least 1,000 Russian personnel training at the 230th Combined Arms Obuz-Lesnovsky Training Ground in Brest, Belarus, redeployed to Russia.We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because those activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We will continue to evaluate and report on the effects of these criminal activities on the Ukrainian military and population and specifically on combat in Ukrainian urban areas. We utterly condemn these Russian violations of the laws of armed conflict, Geneva Conventions, and humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.Russian Main Effort—Eastern Ukraine (comprised of two subordinate main efforts)Russian Subordinate Main Effort #1—Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and encircle northern Donetsk OblastRussian Subordinate Main Effort #2—Capture the entirety of Donetsk OblastRussian Supporting Effort—Southern AxisRussian Mobilization and Force Generation EffortsActivities in Russian-occupied AreasRussian Main Effort—Eastern UkraineRussian Subordinate Main Effort #1— Luhansk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and continue offensive operations into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and northern Donetsk Oblast)Russian forces conducted limited attacks along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line on March 24. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful ground attacks near Hryanykivka (17km northeast of Kupyansk), Bilohorivka (13km south of Kreminna), and the Serebrianska forest area (10km south of Kreminna).[18] A prominent Russian milblogger claimed that positional battles continue in the Kupyansk area but the situation has not changed.[19] The milblogger also claimed that Russian forces made marginal advances northwest of Kreminna towards the outskirts of Makiivka (22km northwest) and west of Ploshchanka (16km northwest).[20] This prominent Russian milblogger used old combat footage filmed no later than November 2022 to assert that Russian forces advanced near Makiivka in March 2023.[21]Russian Subordinate Main Effort #2—Donetsk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)Russian forces continued ground attacks in the Bakhmut area and have made gains in and around the city as of March 24. Geolocated footage posted on March 24 shows that Russian forces have advanced towards the T0504 Kostyantynivka-Chasiv Yar-Bakhmut highway just south of Ivanivske, about 7km southwest of Bakhmut.[22] Geolocated footage posted on March 24 additionally confirms that Russian forces have advanced west of Zalizianske (11km northwest of Bakhmut) and within northern Bakhmut itself.[23] Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Serhiy Cherevaty noted on March 24 that Russian Airborne (VDV) and other unspecified conventional Russian forces are reinforcing the Wagner Group around Bakhmut, supporting ISW’s assessment that conventional Russian forces are likely increasingly supplanting Wagner operations in this area.[24] Cherevaty reported that there have been 32 combat clashes in the Bakhmut area over the past day.[25] Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces continue to fight northwest of Bakhmut in the Orikhovo-Vasylivka and Bohdanivka areas and that Russian forces are approaching Ivanivske west of Bakhmut.[26] Several Russian milbloggers additionally claimed that Wagner units are moving through the AZOM plant in northern Bakhmut and otherwise advancing in urban sectors of the city.[27] Ukrainian forces also appear to have retaken a segment of the E40 Bakhmut-Slovyansk highway north of Bakhmut, as indicated by geolocated footage posted on March 24.[28] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian troops repelled Russian attacks on Bakhmut itself, northwest of Bakhmut near Orikhovo-Vasylivka (11km northwest) and Bohdanivka (6km northwest); west of Bakhmut near Ivanivske (5km west); and southwest of Bakhmut near Stupochky (11km southwest) and Predtechyne (14km southwest).[29]Russian forces continued ground attacks in the Avdiivka-Donetsk City area on March 24. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian troops conducted unsuccessful offensive operations towards Avdiivka itself; in the Avdiivka area near Keramik (12km north of Avdiivka), Stepove (7km northwest of Avdiivka), Severne (5km west of Avdiivka), Novokalynove (12km north of Avdiivka), and Novobakhmutivka (12km northwest of Avdiivka); on the northwestern outskirts of Donetsk City near Pervomaiske; and on the southwestern outskirts of Donetsk City near Marinka, Pobieda, and Novomykhailivka.[30] Russian milbloggers claimed that elements of the 132nd Motorized Rifle Brigade of the 1st Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) Army Corps advanced west of Novobakhmutivka and towards Novokalynove.[31] Russian sources continue to claim that Russian forces are advancing towards Avdiivka itself and getting closer to taking the settlement in a semi-encirclement.[32] Russian milbloggers posted footage of various 1st DNR Army Corps elements, including the 14th ”Kalmius” artillery brigade and 5th Brigade, operating near Avdiivka and Marinka.[33]Russian forces did not conduct any confirmed ground attacks in western Donetsk Oblast on March 24. Combat footage geolocated on March 24 confirms that Russian forces are operating in the dacha area in southern Vuhledar (30km southwest of Donetsk City).[34] Russian milbloggers pessimistically discussed the prospect of future Russian offensives on Vuhledar and highlighted challenging terrain and poor Russian force capacity in the area.[35]Supporting Effort—Southern Axis (Russian objective: Maintain frontline positions and secure rear areas against Ukrainian strikes)The Ukrainian General Staff corrected its March 23 statement that Russian forces withdrew from Nova Kakhovka, occupied Kherson Oblast. The Ukrainian General Staff reported on March 23 that Russian forces are still “temporarily” in Nova Kakhovka and that prior reported information alleging Russian forces had withdrawn from Nova Kakhovka was published due to incorrect use of available data.[36] Russian occupation authorities in Kherson Oblast and Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces remained in Nova Kakhovka.[37]  Ukrainian military sources continue to suggest that Russian authorities are evacuating other parts of southern Ukraine, however.  Ukrainian Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Representative Andriy Yusov reported that Russian occupation authorities in Crimea began warning Crimeans to evacuate over FM radio stations.[38] Yusov reported that the Russian authorities likely intended to warn Crimeans who cooperated with the Russian authorities and continue to tell rank-and-file soldiers that the situation is normal.[39]  Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces prepared to conduct counteroffensive operations in the Zaporizhia direction on March 24. Zaporizhia Occupation Administration Council Member Vladimir Rogov claimed that Ukrainian forces are concentrating forces and preparing to break through the front line near Orikhiv (50km southeast of Zaporizhzhia City) possibly in the coming days.[40] A Russian milblogger claimed that elements of the 58th Combined Arms Army (Southern Military District) struck Ukrainian positions near Orikhiv before Ukrainian forces could launch a counteroffensive.[41] The milblogger also claimed that Russian forces attempt to prepare reconnaissance-in-force operations near Orikhiv and Polohy (88km southeast of Zaporizhzhia City).[42]Russian forces conducted routine shelling in Mykolaiv, Kherson, Zaporizhia, and Dnipropetrovsk on March 24.[43]Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts (Russian objective: Expand combat power without conducting general mobilization)The Russian government is adopting new measures to revitalize and eliminate corruption, lethargy, and resistance within Russia’s defense industrial base (DIB). Independent Russian media outlet SOTA reported on March 23 that unspecified Russian authorities created a working group under the Collegium of the Military-Industrial Complex that will seize control over enterprises implementing state contracts “inefficiently,” as justified by martial law.[44] SOTA posted a screenshot of the working group’s alleged creation document and noted that the working group’s power applies to all state contractors, not just those explicitly connected to Russia’s DIB, however.[45] Russian authorities may use this power to crack down on political and economic rivals or nationalize Russian businesses. Russian milbloggers continue to critique Russian defense-related production limitations and call for state intervention.[46]Russian authorities continue to promote contract and volunteer service aggressively while avoiding a major public wave of mobilization. Several Russian news sources reported on March 23 that Russian officials and military registration and enlistment offices use a variety of methods to coerce or intimidate Russian men into “volunteering” or “clarifying their data” - likely to support targeted recruitment campaigns or future covert mobilization.[47] Russian opposition news outlet Mediazona reported that Moscow City Disinfection Center stations told their employees that unspecified authorities gave the Moscow City Disinfection Center a recruitment quota of 100 men from each of the city’s 11 stations. Disinfection stations with fewer than 100 male employees reportedly encouraged their workers to persuade their acquaintances and friends and give information on male connections to their employer.[48]Russian authorities work to protect key specialists and insulate public servants from service on the front lines despite major personnel needs on the front lines. The Russian Ministry of Labor approved on March 24 a list of 149 professions – including 64 working professions and 65 civil servant positions –eligible for alternative civilian service during mobilization.[49]Russian authorities continue to crack down harshly on limited domestic resistance to the war in Ukraine and mobilization. Russian independent media outlet OVD News reported on March 23 that Russian security services detained a student on suspicion of committing an arson attack on a building housing a military registration and enlistment office in Leningrad Oblast.[50] OVD News also noted on March 23 that the Makhachkala, Republic of Dagestan district court sentenced a participant in September protests against mobilization to two years imprisonment.[51] OVD News cited a Russian human rights group “Zone of Solidarity” on March 23 report that a pre-trial detention center holding a Novosibirsk resident falsely accused of committing arson against a military registration office used a series of physical and psychological pressures to debase the detainee.[52] Russian news source People of Baikal claimed on March 22 that Russian authorities twice visited its editor and attempted to silence People of Baikal’s coverage of repeated complaints about mobilization conditions from soldiers in Regiment 1439.[53] A regional branch of Radio Liberty reported on March 23 that a Tartarstan military commissariat fined a Bashkirian company 50,000 rubles ($647) for advertising services aiding men in avoiding mobilization.[54]Russian authorities continue use prosecution to deter deserters. Russian human rights activist Pavel Chikov stated on March 23 that Russian courts are considering around 500 cases of desertion.[55] Chikov critiqued the Russian Supreme Court’s draft resolution which would greatly expand what qualifies as desertion or a “crime against military service,” on which ISW reported on March 21.[56] A regional branch of Radio Liberty reported on March 23 that Russian authorities suspended the five-year sentence of a deserter from Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Khabarovsk Krai in favor of remobilizing the man.[57] Independent Russian news outlet Meduza amplified a report on March 20 that Russian authorities sentenced a major in the Federal Protective Service to 6.5 years in a penal colony and stripped him of his rank for allegedly fleeing to Kazakhstan after the start of mobilization.[58]Activity in Russian-occupied Areas (Russian objective: consolidate administrative control of annexed areas; forcibly integrate Ukrainian civilians into Russian sociocultural, economic, military, and governance systems)Russian occupation authorities announced the creation of a pro-Russian militaristic youth movement aimed at brainwashing children. Zaporizhia Oblast occupation administration First Deputy Chairperson Alexey Lysov announced on March 21 that the first congress of the “Yug Molodoy” (Young South) youth movement occurred in occupied Melitopol.[59] The Ukrainian Resistance Center reported that the movement provides assistance to occupation authorities and law enforcement to maintain public order and is designed to attract children to Russian propaganda centers.[60] Ukrainian Mayor of Melitopol Ivan Fedorov stated that the occupation administration has allocated over 18 billion rubles ($232 million) to pro-Russian organizations to influence Ukrainian children in occupied territories.[61]Russian occupation authorities continue to integrate occupied territories into the Russian electoral system in an effort assert legal control. Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) Head Denis Pushilin visited a preliminary voting site for the United Russia ruling party and claimed that over 67 people registered to vote early at the single voting point.[62] United Russia Secretary Andrey Turchak claimed that the DNR voting point has one of the highest rates of early voting registration presumably in all of occupied Ukraine and Russia.[63]Russian occupation officials continue efforts to exert bureaucratic control over occupied areas through the use of infrastructure development, social benefit schemes, and nationalization of Ukrainian resources. Kherson Oblast occupation officials praised ongoing Russian efforts for further economic, infrastructure, and social benefits in occupied Kherson Oblast, including efforts to develop the Arabat Spit and create a social maternity capital benefit system for children born or adopted after 2007.[64] Russian authorities reportedly registered over 1,500 companies, including agricultural holdings, bakeries, mining companies, factories, and the food industry, into Russian jurisdiction, and either nationalized or transferred many of these businesses to new owners to bypass sanctions and support the war effort.[65]Significant activity in Belarus (ISW assesses that a Russian or Belarusian attack into northern Ukraine in early 2023 is extraordinarily unlikely and has thus restructured this section of the update. It will no longer include counter-indicators for such an offensive.)ISW will continue to report daily observed Russian and Belarusian military activity in Belarus, but these are not indicators that Russian and Belarusian forces are preparing for an imminent attack on Ukraine from Belarus. ISW will revise this text and its assessment if it observes any unambiguous indicators that Russia or Belarus is preparing to attack northern Ukraine.The United Kingdom Ministry of Defense (UK MoD) reported on March 24 that at least 1,000 Russian personnel training at the 230th Combined Arms Obuz-Lesnovsky Training Ground in Brest, Belarus, redeployed to Russia, supporting previous ISW assessments.[66] The UK MoD noted that it has not observed a new Russian force rotation in Belarus as of March 24 and noted that the Kremlin is likely using Belarusian trainers to augment Russia’s degraded training capacity.[67]Belarusian maneuver elements continue conducting exercises in Belarus. A tank company of the Belarusian 11th Mechanized Brigade conducted exercises with T-72 tanks at the 230th Combined Arms Obuz-Lesnovsky Training Ground in Brest, Belarus, on March 24.[68] The Belarusian Ministry of Defense announced on March 24 that elements of the Minsk-based Belarusian 120th Mechanized Brigade would remove equipment from storage and deploy to an unspecified area to conduct unspecified tasks, likely exercises.[69]Note: ISW does not receive any classified material from any source, uses only publicly available information, and draws extensively on Russian, Ukrainian, and Western reporting and social media as well as commercially available satellite imagery and other geospatial data as the basis for these reports. References to all sources used are provided in the endnotes of each update. [1] https://ria dot ru/20230324/nastuplenie-1860329473.html[2] https://t.me/vysokygovorit/11110; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-23-2023[3] https://t.me/Sladkov_plus/7404[4] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-23-2023; https://twitter.com/wartranslated/status/1638939229156769792?s=20[5] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-update-march-19-2023[6] https://storage.googleapis dot com/istories/stories/2023/03/23/glava-krima-sozdal-sobstvennuyu-chvk-ona-svyazana-s-yevgeniem-prigozhinim/index.html[7] https://storage.googleapis dot com/istories/stories/2023/03/23/glava-krima-sozdal-sobstvennuyu-chvk-ona-svyazana-s-yevgeniem-prigozhinim/index.html[8] https://storage.googleapis dot com/istories/stories/2023/03/23/glava-krima-sozdal-sobstvennuyu-chvk-ona-svyazana-s-yevgeniem-prigozhinim/index.html[9] https://isw.pub/UkrWar032323; https://t.me/wagner_employment/28; https://t.me/NeoficialniyBeZsonoV/23582; https://t.me/rlz_the_kraken/57249; https://t.me/news_sirena/12768; https://notes.citeam.org/mobilization-mar-22-23[10] https://t.me/rybar/44975; https://t.me/m0sc0wcalling/21757; https://t.me/milinfolive/98394; https://t.me/dva_majors/11578[11] https://t.me/rybar/44975; https://t.me/m0sc0wcalling/21757; https://t.me/milinfolive/98394; https://t.me/dva_majors/11578[12] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-november-15; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-november-5; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-december-23; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-10-2023; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-november-11; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-november-10[13] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-22-2023; https://sprotyv.mod.gov dot ua/2023/02/27/rosiyany-trymayut-trupy-svoyih-soldativ-na-skladah-aby-ne-vyplachuvaty-groshi-ridnym-spovid-okupanta/ ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VyogLhqX9E&ab_channel=Центрнаціональногоспротиву[14] https://t.me/readovkanews/55305; https://t.me/milinfolive/98357; https://t.me/readovkanews/55148; https://t.me/wargonzo/11503; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/46214; https://t.me/rybar/44810 ; https://t.me/dva_majors/11260; https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1636258087517536256?s=20; https://t.me/readovkanews/54969; https://t.me/mod_russia/24882; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/46148; https://t.me/readovkanews/54617; https://t.me/milinfolive/97949; https://t.me/milinfolive/97879[15] http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/70767[16] https://www.aljazeera dot com/opinions/2023/2/28/russia-after-a-year-of-sanctions; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/ukraine-conflict-update-19; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/ukraine-conflict-update-17; https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Russian%20Offensive%20Campaign%20Assessment%2C%20January%2023%2C%202023%20PDF.pdf; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-july-6; https://isw.pub/UkrWar032223[17] https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Russian%20Offensive%20Campaign%20Assessment%2C%20February%2028%2C%202023.pdf; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-27-2023; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-17-2023[18] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0q1yp5ZvBuqqrVEdQQLj2aCMgacUNxg1YfS8qorkJPKQ6VRJzpapj8ppV78UoS4Bul[19] https://t.me/rybar/44990[20] https://t.me/rybar/44990; https://t.me/rybar/44992[21] https://twitter.com/blinzka/status/1637735036370792451; https://t.me/rybar/44973[22] https://twitter.com/GeoConfirmed/status/1639216228760944640; https://twitter.com/PaulJawin/status/1639151490974482433; https://twitter.com/blinzka/status/1639201213915996242[23] https://twitter.com/2MMisery/status/1639231668597805058; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/46298; https://twitter.com/auditor_ya/status/1639295763741114368?s=20; https://twitter.com/GeoConfirmed/status/1639190668923813891; https://twitter.com/PaulJawin/status/1639178160309784576; https://twitter.com/EerikMatero/status/1639180671871582252; https://twitter.com/War_cube_/status/1639239712551387138?s=20; https://twitter.com/War_cube_/status/1639239916860190722?s=20; https://twitter.com/War_cube_/status/1639240792123342852?s=20; https://twitter.com/War_cube_/status/1639254074381008896?s=20; https://t.me/razgruzka_vagnera/48[24] https://www.ukrinform dot ua/rubric-ato/3686836-na-bahmutskomu-napramku-vagnerivciv-pidsiluut-povitranodesantnimi-vijskami-rf-cerevatij.html; https://isw.pub/UkrWar021923; https://isw.pub/UkrWar030623[25] https://www.ukrinform dot ua/rubric-ato/3686836-na-bahmutskomu-napramku-vagnerivciv-pidsiluut-povitranodesantnimi-vijskami-rf-cerevatij.html[26] https://t.me/readovkanews/55373; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/81232; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/46293; https://t.me/wargonzo/11573v[27] https://t.me/readovkanews/55373; https://t.me/rybar/44992; https://t.me/rybar/44993; https://t.me/rybar/44990[28] https://twitter.com/SerDer_Daniels/status/1639287574429573125?s=20; https://twitter.com/PauliusZaleckas/status/1639297202295123968?s=20[29] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0q1yp5ZvBuqqrVEdQQLj2aCMgacUNxg1YfS8qorkJPKQ6VRJzpapj8ppV78UoS4Bul; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02PZ2DZTyyD35qGniFHgFuhXqwQnsskkLnBS4StfGbqs7p4gh4EToytQRWDfZhkcmEl[30] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0q1yp5ZvBuqqrVEdQQLj2aCMgacUNxg1YfS8qorkJPKQ6VRJzpapj8ppV78UoS4Bul; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02PZ2DZTyyD35qGniFHgFuhXqwQnsskkLnBS4StfGbqs7p4gh4EToytQRWDfZhkcmEl[31] https://t.me/basurin_e/316; https://t.me/wargonzo/11573; https://t.me/rybar/44992; https://t.me/rybar/44993; https://t.me/rybar/44990; https://t.me/rybar/44986[32] https://t.me/wargonzo/11573; https://t.me/vladlentatarsky/20181; https://t.me/basurin_e/316[33] https://t.me/voenacher/41743; https://t.me/nm_dnr/10045[34] https://twitter.com/GeoConfirmed/status/1639254345697951744; https://twitter.com/PaulJawin/status/1639194281297453057[35] https://t.me/rybar/44975; https://t.me/m0sc0wcalling/21757; https://t.me/milinfolive/98394; https://t.me/dva_majors/11578[36] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0fjgcEcq3ygTfLezopEAvXBQm51pvpsjCj7BiEqBMWxaGhXyztTSQvpGVXwyLGiHrl[37] https://t.me/SALDO_VGA/580; https://t.me/readovkanews/55393; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/81274; https://t.me/Senator_Basyuk/66; https://t.me/VGA_Kherson/8008; https://t.me/grey_zone/17896; https://t.me/VGA_Kherson/7995[38] https://gur.gov dot ua/content/okupatsiina-vlada-rosii-rozpochala-evakuatsiiu-z-tymchasovo-zakhoplenoho-krymu.html[39] https://gur.gov dot ua/content/okupatsiina-vlada-rosii-rozpochala-evakuatsiiu-z-tymchasovo-zakhoplenoho-krymu.html[40] https://t.me/vrogov/8325[41] https://t.me/rybar/44994[42] https://t.me/rybar/44992; https://t.me/rybar/44993[43] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0q1yp5ZvBuqqrVEdQQLj2aCMgacUNxg1YfS8qorkJPKQ6VRJzpapj8ppV78UoS4Bul; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02PZ2DZTyyD35qGniFHgFuhXqwQnsskkLnBS4StfGbqs7p4gh4EToytQRWDfZhkcmEl; https://t.me/khersonskaODA/4609; https://t.me/rybar/44996; https://t.me/olexandrprokudin/156; https://t.me/hueviyherson/36994; https://t.me/mykolaivskaODA/4632; https://t.me/zoda_gov_ua/17767https://t.me/Yevtushenko_E/2991; https://t.me/Yevtushenko_E/2996; https://t.me/gachi_defence/8686; https://t.me/Yevtushenko_E/2998[44] https://t.me/sotaproject/55916; https://notes.citeam.org/mobilization-mar-22-23[45] https://t.me/sotaproject/55916; https://notes.citeam.org/mobilization-mar-22-23[46] https://t.me/vladlentatarsky/20195; https://t.me/Sladkov_plus/7400; https://t.me/Sladkov_plus/7402[47] ttps://t.me/mobilizationnews/10328; https://notes.citeam.org/mobilization-mar-22-23; https://t.me/meduzalive/80797; https://www.e1 dot ru/text/politics/2023/03/23/72157343; https://www.kommersant dot ru/doc/5888933; https://74 dot ru/text/world/2023/03/23/72156023/?utm_source=telegram&utm_medium=messenger&utm_campaign=74; https://www.e1 dot ru/text/gorod/2023/03/23/72158114/[48] https://zona dot media/news/2023/03/23/dezinfekcziya; https://notes.citeam.org/mobilization-mar-22-23[49] http://publication dot pravo.gov.ru/Document/View/0001202303240003?index=1&rangeSize=1; https://meduza.io/news/2023/03/24/mintrud-utverdil-spisok-iz-149-professiy-dlya-prohozhdeniya-alternativnoy-sluzhby[50] https://ovd dot news/express-news/2023/03/23/v-lenoblasti-zaderzhali-podozrevaemogo-po-delu-o-podzhoge-voenkomata; https://notes.citeam.org/mobilization-mar-22-23[51] https://ovd dot news/express-news/2023/03/23/v-mahachkale-uchastnika-protestov-protiv-mobilizacii-prigovorili-k-dvum; https://notes.citeam.org/mobilization-mar-22-23[52] https://t.me/ovdinfo/17695; https://notes.citeam.org/mobilization-mar-22-23[53] https://t.me/Baikal_People/2165[54] https://t.me/idelrealii/26072; https://www.idelreal.org/a/32330654.html; https://notes.citeam.org/mobilization-mar-22-23[55] https://t.me/pchikov/5473[56] https://t.me/pchikov/5473; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-21-2023[57] https://t.me/sibirmedia/25905; https://vk dot com/wall-161985796_326698[58] https://meduza dot io/news/2023/03/24/sotrudnika-fso-bezhavshego-v-kazahstan-posle-nachala-mobilizatsii-prigovorili-k-shesti-s-polovinoy-godam-kolonii[59] https://melitopol-news dot ru/society/2023/03/21/28604.html[60] https://sprotyv.mod.gov dot ua/2023/03/24/okupanty-stvoryly-shhe-odne-pidlitkove-militarne-obyednannya-na-tot/[61] https://t.me/ivan_fedorov_melitopol/1566[62] https://t.me/pushilindenis/3276[63] https://t.me/pushilindenis/3276[64] https://t.me/SALDO_VGA/581; https://t.me/VGA_Kherson/8011; https://t.me/SALDO_VGA/582; https://t.me/VGA_Kherson/8003[65] https://meduza dot io/feature/2023/03/24/rossiya-zahvatila-okolo-tysyachi-kompaniy-na-anneksirovannyh-territoriyah-ukrainy-ot-zavodov-i-agroholdingov-do-aptek-i-rynkov[66] https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1639155669554327552; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-23-2023[67] https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1639155669554327552[68] https://t.me/modmilby/24810[69] https://t.me/modmilby/24830 

[Author: Institute for the Study of War] [Category: Russia, Ukraine]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 3/26/23 7:30pm
 Kateryna Stepanenko, George Barros, Grace Mappes, Nicole Wolkov and Frederick W. KaganMarch 23, 9:30 pm ETClick here to see ISW’s interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.Click here to access ISW’s archive of interactive time-lapse maps of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These maps complement the static control-of-terrain maps that ISW produces daily by showing a dynamic frontline. ISW will update this time-lapse map archive monthly.Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin has softened his rhetoric towards the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) likely out of fear of completely losing his mercenary force in Bakhmut. Prigozhin emphasized his concerns about a possible Ukrainian counteroffensive in eastern Ukraine during a 23-minute interview on March 23.[1] Prigozhin claimed that Ukraine has 200,000 reserves concentrating to attack along the entire eastern frontline, into Belgorod Oblast, and in Bakhmut. Prigozhin also claimed that the Ukrainians currently have 80,000 troops in Bakhmut, Slovyansk, and Kostyantynivka to counterattack Bakhmut – a claim that former Russian officer Igor Girkin observed was dubious.[2] Prigozhin‘s exaggerated statements about the imminent threat to Russian forces are likely an attempt to secure more supplies and reinforcements from the Russian MoD to save his forces in Bakhmut. Prigozhin made several positive statements about the Russian MoD, even acknowledging that Russian MoD forces are fighting alongside Chechen units in Bilohorivka, Luhansk Oblast. Prigozhin also surprisingly promoted both Russian MoD-controlled volunteer recruitment efforts and recruitment into Wagner, instead of only advertising service with Wagner formations as he has usually done. Prigozhin expressed some generalized criticism of the Russian military bureaucracy – namely the defense industrial base (DIB) - but such criticisms echo the current state propaganda narrative. Prigozhin had been an avid critic of the Russian military command, and the softening of his rhetoric may indicate that he may be attempting to partially appease the Russian MoD to gain supplies or reinforcements for Wagner forces in Bakhmut.Prigozhin denied the Kremlin’s claims that Russia is fighting NATO in Ukraine and questioned whether there are actually Nazis in Ukraine as the Kremlin constantly claims. Prigozhin stated that Russia is fighting “exclusively with Ukrainians” who are equipped with NATO-provided equipment and some “russophobic” mercenaries who voluntarily support Ukraine - but not NATO itself.[3] Prigozhin also noted that Russian officials most likely knew that NATO would offer Ukraine military aid, because “it is ridiculous to think that when [Russia] decided to conduct this special military operation it did not account for NATO’s help to Ukraine.” Prigozhin noted that he is unsure about the “denazification” objectives in Ukraine, because he does not know if there are “Nazis” in Ukraine. Prigozhin also noted that Russia will ”demilitarize” Ukraine only when all of the Ukrainian military is destroyed, claiming that this effort is ongoing, but that it is unclear if it will be successful. Prigozhin stated that Russia can avoid an exhausting protracted war by deciding now which borders it wants to capture. Prigozhin also called on the Russian military and media to stop underestimating Ukrainian forces and engaging in internal conflicts. Prigozhin effectively rejected the Kremlin’s pre-war and post-war claims that Russia needed to defend itself against a NATO threat in Ukraine and undermined the necessity and probability of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s stated maximalist objectives for this invasion.Bloomberg reported that Prigozhin is preparing to scale back Wagner’s operations in Ukraine after the Russian military leadership succeeded in cutting key supplies of personnel and munitions, citing unspecified people familiar with the matter. Bloomberg’s sources stated that Wagner is planning to shift focus back to Africa but that there is no current indication that Prigozhin is planning to redeploy the Wagner Group to Africa.[4] Bloomberg reported, citing sources close to the Kremlin and intelligence services, that top Russian military commanders worked to undermine Prigozhin‘s position with Russian President Vladimir Putin by claiming that Prigozhin achieved limited and slow success despite sending waves of Russian convicts to their deaths around Soledar and Bakhmut. ISW assessed on March 12 that Putin ultimately turned away from Prigozhin following Wagner’s inability to capture Bakhmut.[5] Bloomberg’s sources claimed that the Russian MoD will not allow Prigozhin to take credit for the fall of Bakhmut in state-run media, which is consistent with the MoD’s ongoing effort to diminish and supplant the role of Wagner forces in territorial gains in the area.[6] Prigozhin notably denied Bloomberg’s claim of scaling back and shifting focus to Africa.[7]A Ukrainian intelligence official supported ISW’s prior assessments that Russian forces are unable to conduct large-scale, simultaneous offensive campaigns on multiple axes.[8] Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Spokesperson Vadym Skibitsky stated on March 23 that Russian forces have demonstrated in the last year of the war that Russian forces are unable to maintain large-scale, strategic-level offensives on multiple axes of advance.[9] Skibitsky stated that Russian forces failed to achieve the expected quick or significant advances in the Donbas offensive that began in early 2023. Skibitsky stated that Ukrainian forces fixed Russian forces to multiple areas on the front line and that Russian forces in occupied Crimea and Kherson and Zaporizhia oblasts are on the defensive. US National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby stated on March 21 that Russian forces will try to start another offensive, possibly even on multiple different axes, in the coming weeks.[10]Russian forces may be shifting their missile strike tactics to focus on Ukrainian military facilities as overall Russian missile strikes decrease, indicating the depletion of Russia’s stocks of high-precision missiles. Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Spokesperson Vadym Skibitsky stated that Russian forces may be reorienting their strikes to focus on Ukrainian military facilities and force concentrations while continuing to strike Ukrainian energy infrastructure, as opposed to prioritizing striking energy infrastructure as Russian forces did in fall 2022.[11] Skibitsky said that the GUR assessed that currently only 15 percent of Russia‘s pre-February 24, 2022 high-precision weapons stocks remain. Skibitsky stated that Russia‘s higher-end Kalibr, Kh-101, and Kh-555 cruise missiles comprise less than 10 percent of Russia’s total remaining stocks. Skibitsky stated that Russian forces cannot conduct missile attacks more than twice a month due to the growing need to conserve missiles, in contrast with how Russian forces conducted large air attacks at a higher frequency of about once a week in October 2022. Skibitsky stated that Russia‘s defense industrial base can produce only produce 20 to 30 Kalibr and Kh-101 cruise missiles per month and that Russia‘s production of Iskander ballistic missiles is even lower. ISW has previously assessed that Russian forces are depleting their missile arsenal, which may constrain Russian missile strikes frequency and intensity[12]  Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin outlined various measures to support Russian military personnel, the Russian defense industrial base (DIB), and Russian independence from the West in an address to the State Duma on March 23.[13] Mishustin claimed that Russia aims to produce over 100 aircraft, likely including military aircraft, with unspecified modifications by 2026. Mishustin also claimed that Russia has made significant progress towards mobilizing the DIB for increased production and implementing social support measures to support Russian military personnel, particularly mobilized personnel, and their families. Mishustin used the bulk of his address to claim that Russia has done well but will improve even further despite needing to implement additional economic, social, political, technological, and diplomatic measures to both counteract the effects of significant Western sanctions and decrease Russian dependence on the West. Mishustin’s speech follows Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu’s March 22 speech at the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) collegium, and both Mishustin and Shoigu are attempting to portray Russia as capable of maintaining a prolonged war effort at a pace and scope likely beyond Russia’s actual capability, as ISW has previously assessed.[14]The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Rosatom may be working to restore three power lines at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) which would increase Russian control over the ZNPP. IAEA General Director Rafael Grossi on March 22 commented on Russian reports that Russia’s state nuclear energy corporation Rosatom is working to restore three powerlines at the thermal power plant switchyard to incorporate into the grid system in Russian-occupied territory, but that the IAEA has not been able to verify this information.[15] Grossi stated that the IAEA personnel at the ZNPP observed Russian NPP workers training with experienced ZNPP staff in the main control room of the ZNPP. Russian authorities claimed that the purpose of the training is to ensure that adequate staff is available to work at the plant in case of licensed staff shortages. ISW has previously reported on Russian efforts to use Rosatom’s management and personnel to establish control over the ZNPP to force the IAEA into accepting Russian control over the ZNPP.[16]Key TakeawaysWagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin has softened his rhetoric towards the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) likely out of fear of completely losing his mercenary force in Bakhmut. Prigozhin denied the Kremlin’s claims that Russia is fighting NATO in Ukraine and questioned whether there are actually Nazis in Ukraine as the Kremlin constantly claims.Bloomberg reported that Prigozhin is preparing to scale back Wagner’s operations in Ukraine after Russian military leadership succeeded in cutting key supplies of personnel and munitions.Ukrainian officials supported ISW’s prior assessments that Russian forces are unable to conduct large-scale, simultaneous offensive campaigns on multiple axes.Russian forces may be shifting their missile strike tactics to focus on Ukrainian military facilities as overall Russian missile strikes decrease, indicating the depletion of Russia’s stocks of high-precision missiles.Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin outlined various measures to support Russian military personnel, the Russian defense industrial base (DIB), and Russian independence from the West in an address to the State Duma.The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Rosatom may be working to restore three power lines at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) which would increase Russian control over the ZNPP.Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks northeast of Kupyansk and along the Svatove-Kreminna line.Russian forces are continuing to attack Bakhmut City and areas in its vicinity and around Avdiivka.Ukrainian forces continue to conduct raids over the Dnipro River in Kherson Oblast.The Kremlin continues efforts to coerce Russian reservists, conscripts, and other personnel into contract service.Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced that Russia is continuing efforts to integrate newly-occupied Ukraine into Russian institutions and infrastructure.Russian forces in Belarus recently redeployed back to Russia ahead of Russia’s spring conscription call-up on April 1. We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because those activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We will continue to evaluate and report on the effects of these criminal activities on the Ukrainian military and population and specifically on combat in Ukrainian urban areas. We utterly condemn these Russian violations of the laws of armed conflict, Geneva Conventions, and humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.Russian Main Effort—Eastern Ukraine (comprised of two subordinate main efforts)Russian Subordinate Main Effort #1—Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and encircle northern Donetsk OblastRussian Subordinate Main Effort #2—Capture the entirety of Donetsk OblastRussian Supporting Effort—Southern AxisRussian Mobilization and Force Generation EffortsActivities in Russian-occupied AreasRussian Main Effort—Eastern UkraineRussian Subordinate Main Effort #1— Luhansk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and continue offensive operations into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and northern Donetsk Oblast)Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks northeast of Kupyansk and along the Svatove-Kreminna line on March 23. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful ground attacks near Synkivka (8km northeast of Kupyansk), Makiivka (22km northwest of Kreminna), Bilohorivka (10km south of Kreminna), and Verkhnokamianske (21km south of Kreminna).[17]  The UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) reported that Russian forces likely aim to capture Kupyansk, expand their security zone westward, and integrate the Oskil River into their defensive lines.[18]  Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Serhiy Cherevaty stated that Ukrainian forces have destroyed many pieces of new Russian equipment in the past several weeks as Russian forces use more conventional forces and armored vehicles in the Lyman and Kupyansk directions.[19] Geolocated footage published on March 23 indicates a limited Russian advance southeast of Bilohorivka.[20] A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations near Terny (17km west of Kreminna), Makiivka, and Bilohorivka but advanced toward the Siverskyi Donets River in the Serebrianska forest area (10km south of Kreminna)[21] Another milblogger amplified footage purportedly showing the 331st Airborne Regiment of the 98th Airborne Division operating near Kreminna.[22] Chechen Republic Head Ramzan Kadyrov published footage claiming that Akhmat Special Forces Commander and 2nd Luhansk People’s Republic Army Corps Deputy Commander Apti Alaudinov captured a Ukrainian prisoner of war near Bilohorivka.[23]Russian forces continue building fortifications in the border areas of Bryansk and Kursk oblasts. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces continue to engineer terrain in Bryansk and Kursk oblasts and conduct unspecified demonstrative actions in Belgorod Oblast in an attempt to prevent the transfer of Ukrainian forces to other areas of the frontline.[24] Russian Subordinate Main Effort #2—Donetsk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)Russian forces continued attacking Bakhmut City and its environs on March 23. Ukrainian Ground Forces Commander Oleksandr Syrskyi stated that Wagner Group elements remain the main Russian force operating in the Bakhmut direction and that they have not yet lost their offensive capabilities.[25] Syrskyi noted that while Wagner forces still have a numerical advantage on the frontline Ukrainian forces continue to exhaust the mercenaries, which will enable Ukrainian forces to pursue unspecified future offensive operations. Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Serhiy Cherevaty stated that Russian and Ukrainian forces made contact 35 times on the entire Bakhmut frontline, 29 of which occurred in the city or its immediate vicinity.[26] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that there are constant positional battles in Bakhmut and that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian assaults northwest of Bakhmut in Oleksandro-Shultyne and Bohdanivka; northeast of Bakhmut in Vasyukivka; and south of Bakhmut in Predtechyne.[27] Russian sources also claimed that Russian forces have completely cleared the industrial zone in northern Bakhmut and are continuing to fight in central and southern Bakhmut.[28] Russian milbloggers claimed that fighting is ongoing southwest of Bakhmut in Ivanivske and that Wagner mercenaries are attacking Krohmalne just northwest of Bakhmut.[29] Geolocated footage posted on March 22 showed Ukrainian forces engaging nearby Russian forces on the western bank of the Bakhmutka River with small arms, which likely indicates that some Russians have forded the river.[30]Russian forces continued to attack Ukrainian positions around Avdiivka on March 23. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces launched unsuccessful assaults north of Avdiivka in Novokalynove, Stepove, Lastochkyne, and Berdychi; northwest of Avdiivka in Lastochkyne; west of Avdiivka in Sieverne, Vodyane, Nevelske, Pervomaiske; and Avdiivka itself.[31] Russian sources claimed that Russian artillery established fire control over the Ukrainian supply route via Orlivka.[32] Russian sources claimed that Russian forces cleared the western outskirts of Novobakhmutivka (about 12km northeast of Avdiivka) and continued to advance on Pervomaiske and Sieverne from the south.[33] Another Russian source expressed doubt that Russian forces captured Novobakhmutivka and Stepove and noted that Russian forces are also fighting for Kamianka (about 5km northeast of Avdiivka).[34] A Russian source claimed that it is too early to speculate about Russian efforts to create a cauldron around Avdiivka and about operational successes in the area.[35] A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces advanced towards Novokalynove and reached an unspecified elevated position in the area.[36] Russian sources also claimed that the elements of the Russian 200th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade (14th Army Corps of the Northern Military District) attacked Tonenke (7km northwest of Avdiivka).[37]Russian forces continue to form new brigades from legacy standing DNR units and mobilized personnel in the Avdiivka direction. A Russian source claimed that the former DNR 9th Separate Mariupol-Khingan Marine Assault Regiment reformed into the Russian 9th Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade and is now operating in the Avdiivka direction.[38] The Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) indicated that elements of the 14th Artillery ”Kalmius” Brigade and the 1st ”Slavic” Brigade of the DNR’s 1st Army Corps are operating in the Avdiivka direction.[39] ISW previously observed numerous appeals from Russian mobilized servicemen about their subordination under DNR units, indicating that Russian military command is likely reinforcing and/or expanding DNR units with mobilized personnel. The Russian military is also reactivating brigades from the World War II era such as the Red Army‘s 9th Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade.[40] The Russian Ministry of Defense may form some of the new divisions it announced on January 17 by officially integrating the DNR and Luhansk People’s Republic proxy forces into the Russian Armed Forces as opposed to generating wholly new divisions from scratch.[41] The current suite of observed force generation efforts suggests that the Russian military command is apparently prioritizing the formation of motorized rifle infantry units as opposed to reconstituting tank units.  ISW has not observed the reconstitution or recommitment of a number of elite tank regiments and brigades destroyed in combat, and the re-activation of disbanded Red Army motorized rifle units rather than the reconstitution of current tank units may reflect the reality that the Russian military lacks the tanks needed to rebuild tank units.Russian forces continued conducting offensive operations west of Donetsk City but have not resumed offensives near Vuhledar as of March 23. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces unsuccessfully attacked Marinka and Pobieda, 22km and 25km southwest of Donetsk City, and Russian sources echoed similar reports.[42] A Russian source claimed that elements of the Russian 155th Naval Infantry Brigade are continuing combat missions in the vicinity of Vuhledar, and recently posted footage from the area indicating that Russian and Ukrainian forces are engaged in positional battles near Vuhledar.[43] Supporting Effort—Southern Axis (Russian objective: Maintain frontline positions and secure rear areas against Ukrainian strikes)The Ukrainian General Staff reported that all Russian units deployed to Nova Kakhovka left the city as of March 22.[44] The phrasing of the Ukrainian General Staff report explicitly mentions that Russian forces “left“ and does not lend itself to an interpretation of a Russian rotation, as some observers have suggested. Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces remained in the city.[45] ISW has not observed visual confirmation that supports either claim. ISW currently assesses that the Russian military still likely controls Nova Kakhovka.Ukrainian forces continue to conduct raids over the Dnipro River in Kherson Oblast and are continuing to strike Russian positions on the east (left) bank of the river. Geolocated combat footage published on March 20 shows Russian forces striking Ukrainian forces operating in the southeast of  Velykyi Potemkin Island.[46] Geolocated combat footage published on March 23 shows Ukrainian drones striking Russian positions near Vynrozsadnyk on the east (left) bank of the Dnipro River.[47] Ukrainian Kherson Oblast Military Administration Head Serhiy Khlan amplified a claim from Kherson Occupation Head Vladimir Saldo that Russian forces have tripled the number of personnel on the east (left) bank of the Dnipro River in anticipation of a Ukrainian counteroffensive.[48] Khlan criticized Russian forces’ defensive measures, claiming that they have only established three lines of defense.[49]Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted counteroffensive operations in western Zaporizhia Oblast. A Russian milblogger claimed on March 22 that Ukrainian forces control about half of Novodanylivka (53km southeast of Zaporizhzhia City) and that the settlement was previously an unoccupied grey zone.[50] Another milblogger claimed on March 23 that Ukrainian forces conducted counteroffensive operations in the Robotyne (66km southeast of Zaporizhzhia City) direction.[51]  Russian forces conducted routine shelling in Kherson, Zaporizhia, Dnipropetrovsk, and Mykolaiv oblasts.[52] Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts (Russian objective: Expand combat power without conducting general mobilization)The Kremlin continues efforts to coerce Russian reservists, conscripts, and other personnel into contract service. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on March 23 establishing two new military honors “For Bravery” that Russia can award to combat participants, including foreigners and stateless persons who may not be part of Russia’s conventional military, either alive or posthumously for bravery on the battlefield.[53] This award is likely a continuation of the Kremlin’s effort to encourage enlistment among stateless persons and foreigners. Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Spokesperson Vadym Skibitsky stated that Russian authorities will try to recruit reservists called up for the April 1 regular conscription cycle into contract service and are continuing efforts to recruit for contract service through other unspecified methods.[54] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian authorities are trying to recruit conscripts from South Ossetia into contract service and managed to recruit 50 new contract personnel between March 1 and March 10.[55]The Kremlin may begin leveraging a larger number of smaller private military companies (PMCs) and private security companies to reduce its dependency on the Wagner Group and prevent a monolithic PMC – such as the Wagner Group – from gaining leverage against the Russian Ministry of Defense in the future. The Ukrainian Resistance Center reported on March 23 that the Kremlin seeks to recruit up to 2,000 mercenaries from the “GvardService”  private security company. The Resistance Center reported that “GvardService” is the first Belarusian private security company, which Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko established in 2019 to recruit former Belarusian special forces. The Resistance Center’s report also claims that about 100 mercenaries from Angola arrived in Russia, and that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov negotiated their participation in the war in Ukraine after visiting Angola in January 2023.[56] A prominent Russian milblogger stated that the Wagner Group’s success in Ukraine in 2022 piqued Russian society’s interest in PMCs and forecasted that Russia will develop a large marketplace for PMCs.[57] The milblogger suggested this marketplace will include many competing companies ranging from small boutique PMCs and private intelligence firms to one-to-two large PMCs with the ”full-fledged capabilities of private armies.”[58] The Kremlin may use such a model in the future to continue reaping the benefits of using PMCs while ensuring that no single PMC can gain too much influence, as the Wagner Group likely did.Russia’s defense industrial base is unlikely to manufacture 1,500 main battle tanks in calendar year 2023 despite Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev's claims on March 23.[59] Russia reportedly loses 150 tanks a month in Ukraine while Russia’s sole tank production factory, UralVagonZavod, reportedly produces 20 tanks a month.[60] Business Insider and The Economist previously noted that 18 Russian factories are refurbishing old tanks and that two more repair plants will soon join the efforts.[61] ISW concurs with Business Insider’s conclusion that Russian production remains unlikely to meet demand; Russia would have to produce or refurbish at least 125 tanks per month (over six times greater than UralVagonZavod’s current production) to manufacture 1,500 tanks in 2023.[62] Former Russian militant commander and nationalist milblogger Igor Girkin scoffed at Medvedev’s statement and sarcastically observed that Medvedev’s claims would have been more believable if he clarified that the tanks would be made from plastic or paper.[63]Activity in Russian-occupied Areas (Russian objective: consolidate administrative control of annexed areas; forcibly integrate Ukrainian civilians into Russian sociocultural, economic, military, and governance systems)Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced that Russia is continuing efforts to integrate newly-occupied Ukraine into Russian institutions and infrastructure. Mishustin stated on March 23 that the Russian government is reviewing a draft law to create a free economic zone in occupied Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia, and Kherson Oblasts to submit to the State Duma for further consideration.[64] Mishustin claimed that Russia has repaired over 900km of roads and over 8,500 objects, including residential buildings and infrastructure facilities, in occupied Ukraine. Mishustin claimed that Russia will finish the construction of a water conduit between Rostov Oblast and occupied Donetsk Oblast within the next week.The Save Ukraine Foundation, a Ukrainian non-governmental organization, reported that Russian authorities treat Ukrainian children in Russian detention abysmally. The Save Ukraine Foundation reported on March 23 that 17 Ukrainian children kidnapped from occupied Kherson and Kharkiv oblasts returned to Ukraine.[65] The Foundation noted that Russian authorities refused to return the children to their parents and did not specify the mechanism by which the children returned. The Foundation amplified statements from the children, who claimed that employees at a Russian children’s camp beat the Ukrainian children, lied to the children about Ukrainian counteroffensives, and claimed that their parents abandoned the children and that Russian parents would adopt the children.Ukrainian officials reported that Russian authorities are filtering Ukrainian civilians from Bakhmut into remote areas of Russia. The Ukrainian Resistance Center reported on March 23 that Wagner Group forces are taking Ukrainian civilians from residential areas in Bakhmut and deporting them to filtration centers in occupied Luhansk Oblast, where occupation authorities further filter Ukrainian civilians into remote areas such as Perm Krai in the Far East of Russia.[66]Ukrainian partisans conducted an improvised explosive device (IED) attack against a Russian occupation law enforcement officer in Melitopol on March 23, injuring the officer.[67] Russian occupation officials reported that the officer is in stable condition as of this publication.[68]Significant activity in Belarus (ISW assesses that a Russian or Belarusian attack into northern Ukraine in early 2023 is extraordinarily unlikely and has thus restructured this section of the update. It will no longer include counter-indicators for such an offensive.)Russian forces in Belarus recently redeployed back to Russia ahead of Russia’s spring conscription call-up on April 1. Commercial satellite imagery collected on March 17 and 23 shows that significant Russian elements previously deployed at the 230th Combined Arms Obuz-Lesnovsky Training Ground in Brest, Belarus, are no longer at the training ground. Satellite imagery collected on February 12 shows the equipment in place. Ukrainian Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) representative Vadym Skibitsky stated on March 23 that there are about 4,200 Russian servicemen currently in Belarus, indicating a drawdown.[69] Russia had about 12,000 personnel deployed in Belarus in late 2022.[70] Ukrainian Border Guard Spokesman Andriy Demchenko previously stated on March 4 that the Russian force size in Belarus fluctuates but generally does not exceed 9,000–10,000 personnel at any given time.[71] Demchenko stated that replacement Russian forces will likely deploy to Belarus after Russian forces redeploy from Belarus, keeping the overall number of Russian personnel in Belarus more or less equal over time.[72] These Russian forces likely deployed back to Russia to free up Belarusian training capacity ahead of Russia’s spring conscription cycle. Russian forces may send more mobilized forces or possibly conscripts for training in Belarus given that many of the tents at the training ground remained in place in the recent satellite imagery. Russia will likely maintain permanent military forces in Belarus around ongoing training deployments; Skibitsky also stated that Russian forces left an Iskander battery in Belarus.[73]  230th Combined Arms Obuz-Lesnovsky Training Ground in Brest, Belarus. Collected March 23, 2023Satellite image ©2023 Maxar Technologies.230th Combined Arms Obuz-Lesnovsky Training Ground in Brest, Belarus. Collected March 17, 2023Satellite image ©2023 Maxar Technologies. 230th Combined Arms Obuz-Lesnovsky Training Ground in Brest, Belarus. Collected February 12, 2023Satellite image ©2023 Maxar Technologies.The Belarusian military announced the completed formation of a new Belarusian air defense regiment equipped with S-300 air defense systems in Luninets, Brest Oblast, Belarus, on March 23.[74] Belarusian media reported that the new unit may be a resurrection of the Belarusian 56th Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment, which Belarus disbanded in 2014.[75]This unit’s reformation in Brest Oblast indicates a heightened air defense postured against NATO’s eastern flank to defend Russian and Belarusian airspace. Russia already permanently deployed S-300 systems (elements of Russia’s 210th Air Defense Regiment) to Grodno, Belarus, in August 2021 as part of the formation of the permanent joint Russian-Belarusian air defense and air combat training center in Grodno that Moscow and Minsk agreed to create in March 2021.[76] The recent addition of more S-300 systems in Brest completes Russian-Belarusian air defense overage over Poland and much of western Ukraine and further indicates the Belarusian military’s operational subordination to the Russian Western Miliary District.The Kremlin has long sought to establish more Russian-controlled air defense assets in Belarus. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko confirmed that Russia “gave” Belarus an unspecified number of S-400 air defense systems during his meeting with Putin in Minsk on December 19, 2023, confirming ISW’s 2021 forecast that Russian-made S-400 systems would begin operating in Belarus.[77] ISW warned Putin likely seeks to deploy and control Russian anti-access/area denial weapon systems in Belarus in September 2020.[78]Belarusian maneuver elements continue conducting exercises in Belarus. Elements of the Belarusian 38th Air Assault Brigade conducted a company tactical exercise at the Brest Training Ground in Brest, Belarus, on March 23.[79] An unspecified battalion of the Belarusian 6th Mechanized Brigade conducted a company tactical exercise at the Gozhsky Training Ground in Grodno, Belarus, on March 23.[80]ISW will continue to report daily observed Russian and Belarusian military activity in Belarus, but these are not indicators that Russian and Belarusian forces are preparing for an imminent attack on Ukraine from Belarus. ISW will revise this text and its assessment if it observes any unambiguous indicators that Russia or Belarus is preparing to attack northern Ukraine.Note: ISW does not receive any classified material from any source, uses only publicly available information, and draws extensively on Russian, Ukrainian, and Western reporting and social media as well as commercially available satellite imagery and other geospatial data as the basis for these reports. References to all sources used are provided in the endnotes of each update. [1] https://t.me/concordgroup_official/635  [2] https://t.me/strelkovii/4333[3] https://t.me/concordgroup_official/635  [4] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-03-23/putin-s-mercenary-prigozhin-shifts-focus-after-ukraine-setbacks[5] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-12-2023[6] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-22-2023[7] https://t.me/concordgroup_official/634; https://t.me/Prigozhin_hat/2915[8] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-15-2023; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-january-28-2023[9] https://www.rbc dot ua/rus/news/vadim-skibitskiy-rosiya-mozhe-vesti-viynu-1679493967.html[10] https://www.cnn.com/europe/live-news/russia-ukraine-war-news-03-21-23/h_7db8a158c69f60b2317d4d9255a44acc[11] https://www.rbc dot ua/rus/news/gur-rozpovili-k-rosiya-zminyue-tsili-obstriliv-1679491754.html[12] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-20-2023; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-january-7-2023[13] http://government dot ru/news/48055/[14] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-22-2023; https://telegra dot ph/Vstupitelnoe-slovo-Ministra-oborony-Rossijskoj-Federacii-generala-armii-Sergeya-SHojgu-na-zasedanii-Kollegii-Minoborony-Rossii-03-22; https://t.me/mod_russia/25012[15] https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/pressreleases/update-151-iaea-director-general-statement-on-situation-in-ukraine  [16] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-december-2; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-november-30; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-6-2023[17] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0U5nJd58nTcbXGSvYBTe69DXdzTxSF5iQHQpCH9xu4qho9QuQ2oGUg4Vba3aurhDsl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0YU2GMeX1s71P6scxFyrffrRBrEYoaMbc6rz7P2V9gcKLGRjeTFCKknAUantBE9mHl[18] https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1638796533436149760[19] https://t.me/luhanskaVTSA/9422[20] https://twitter.com/JagdBandera/status/1638897580619751425; https://t.me/WarArchive_ua/518[21] https://t.me/wargonzo/11551  [22] https://t.me/boris_rozhin/81160 [23] https://t.me/RKadyrov_95/3459  [24] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0U5nJd58nTcbXGSvYBTe69DXdzTxSF5iQHQpCH9xu4qho9QuQ2oGUg4Vba3aurhDsl[25] https://www.facebook.com/easternforces/posts/pfbid015biPNqksWtwEsnyfMb9kD1ae4uaaFW3ErYrxN2L4bzAADuw6kfxEUKgftJyns8jl ; https://t.me/osirskiy/21[26] https://censor dot net/ua/n3407598; https://armyinform.com dot ua/2023/03/23/prezydent-udruge-vidvidav-misto-forteczyu-sergij-cherevatyj/[27] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0U5nJd58nTcbXGSvYBTe69DXdzTxSF5iQHQpCH9xu4qho9QuQ2oGUg4Vba3aurhDsl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0YU2GMeX1s71P6scxFyrffrRBrEYoaMbc6rz7P2V9gcKLGRjeTFCKknAUantBE9mHl[28] https://t.me/readovkanews/55305   [29] https://t.me/wargonzo/11551; https://t.me/rybar/44954; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/46279; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/81162  [30] https://t.me/WarArchive_ua/505; https://twitter.com/JagdBandera/status/1638559984626589703[31] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0YU2GMeX1s71P6scxFyrffrRBrEYoaMbc6rz7P2V9gcKLGRjeTFCKknAUantBE9mHl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0U5nJd58nTcbXGSvYBTe69DXdzTxSF5iQHQpCH9xu4qho9QuQ2oGUg4Vba3aurhDsl  [32] https://t.me/kommunist/16551 ; https://t.me/epoddubny/15244  [33] https://t.me/boris_rozhin/81159 ; https://t.me/readovkanews/55305; https://t.me/wargonzo/11551 ; https://t.me/z_arhiv/19861[34] https://t.me/zola_of_renovation/4661; https://t.me/notes_veterans/8619[35] https://t.me/boris_rozhin/81159  [36] https://t.me/zola_of_renovation/4661; https://t.me/notes_veterans/8619  [37] https://t.me/sashakots/38980; https://t.me/NeoficialniyBeZsonoV/23522; https://t.me/wargonzo/11551  [38] https://t.me/rybar/44952; https://t.me/rybar/44954  [39] https://t.me/nm_dnr/10040 ; https://t.me/nm_dnr/10039  [40] http://docs.historyrussia dot org/ru/nodes/271026[41] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-january-17-2023[42] https://t.me/wargonzo/11551; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0YU2GMeX1s71P6scxFyrffrRBrEYoaMbc6rz7P2V9gcKLGRjeTFCKknAUantBE9mHl[43] https://t.me/readovkanews/55305 ; https://t.me/grey_zone/17885  ; https://t.me/rybar/44962[44] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0U5nJd58nTcbXGSvYBTe69DXdzTxSF5iQHQpCH9xu4qho9QuQ2oGUg4Vba3aurhDsl[45] https://t.me/grey_zone/17896; https://t.me/rusich_army/8171; https://t.me/donrf22/17856; https://t.me/m0sc0wcalling/21733; https://t.me/romanov_92/36193; https://t.me/m0sc0wcalling/21730; https://t.me/m0sc0wcalling/21729[46] https://twitter.com/PauliusZaleckas/status/1638933488916385793?s=20; https://t.me/rusich_army/8129[47] https://twitter.com/PaulJawin/status/1638830164950777857?s=20; https://twitter.com/TeeterSweeper/status/1638922207320592385?s=20; https://twitter.com/PaulJawin/status/1638915968754909184?s=20; https://twitter.com/DondrasNikola/status/1638917424497016833?s=20[48] https://www.facebook.com/sergey.khlan/posts/pfbid0DiQ8SWkc4xZxYxJjGcYkz7VD8jEoHynyZsi23qgsjpdiSXjNbx4m9yuhssDbHWdNl[49] https://www.facebook.com/sergey.khlan/posts/pfbid0DiQ8SWkc4xZxYxJjGcYkz7VD8jEoHynyZsi23qgsjpdiSXjNbx4m9yuhssDbHWdNl[50] https://t.me/rybar/44950; https://t.me/rybar/44954[51] https://t.me/wargonzo/11551[52] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0U5nJd58nTcbXGSvYBTe69DXdzTxSF5iQHQpCH9xu4qho9QuQ2oGUg4Vba3aurhDsl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0YU2GMeX1s71P6scxFyrffrRBrEYoaMbc6rz7P2V9gcKLGRjeTFCKknAUantBE9mHl; https://www.facebook.com/OperationalCommandSouth/posts/pfbid0spGN4GB5ne5Af1niYr5Q35KGi9f2h3ytviEutNjQpghqnnvGLK7LpzY34z6wqpksl; https://t.me/rybar/44954; https://t.me/hueviyherson/36906; https://t.me/mykolaivskaODA/4612l; https://t.me/zoda_gov_ua/17714; https://t.me/zoda_gov_ua/17714; https://t.me/zoda_gov_ua/17704; https://t.me/Yevtushenko_E/2975; https://t.me/Yevtushenko_E/2971[53] https://meduza dot io/news/2023/03/23/vladimir-putin-uchredil-novuyu-medal-za-hrabrost; http://publication.pravo.gov dot ru/Document/View/0001202303230015; https://t.me/bbbreaking/151262; https://t.me/mod_russia/25048[54] https://www.rbc dot ua/rus/news/vadim-skibitskiy-rosiya-mozhe-vesti-viynu-1679493967.html[55] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0YU2GMeX1s71P6scxFyrffrRBrEYoaMbc6rz7P2V9gcKLGRjeTFCKknAUantBE9mHl[56] https://sprotyv.mod.gov dot ua/2023/03/23/rosiyany-shukayut-najmancziv-dlya-zagarbnyczkoyi-vijny-proty-ukrayiny/[57] https://t.me/Sladkov_plus/7397[58] https://t.me/Sladkov_plus/7397[59] https://m.interfax dot ru/892494[60] https://www.businessinsider.com/russia-demand-tanks-outstrips-production-by-factor-of-10-report-2023; https://www.oryxspioenkop.com/2022/02/attack-on-europe-documenting-equipment.html[61] https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Russian%20Offensive%20Campaign%20Assessment%2C%20February%2028%2C%202023.pdf; 8 https://www.businessinsider.com/russia-demand-tanks-outstrips-production-by-factor-of-10-report-2023;https://www.economist.com./the-economist-explains/2023/02/27/how-quickly-can-russia-rebuild-its-tank-fleet[62] https://www.businessinsider.com/russia-demand-tanks-outstrips-production-by-factor-of-10-report-2023[63] https://t.me/strelkovii/4331[64] http://government dot ru/news/48055/[65] https://meduza dot io/news/2023/03/23/v-ukrainu-vernulis-17-detey-kotoryh-prinuditelno-vyvezli-v-rossiyu-vo-vremya-okkupatsii-odin-iz-nih-rasskazal-chto-v-rossii-detey-bili; https://fb.watch/jsifYQY4tU/  ; https://saveukraineua dot org/tpost/mly82onks1-vtomlen-dorogoyu-i-trivalim-stresom[66] https://sprotyv.mod.gov dot ot ua/2023/03/23/okupanty-deportuyut-meshkancziv-peredmistya-bahmutu/[67] https://sprotyv.mod.gov dot ua/2023/03/23/v-melitopoli-pidirvaly-misczevogo-policzaya/[68] https://t.me/readovkanews/55318; https://t.me/vrogov/8311; https://t.me/vrogov/8312; https://t.me/vrogov/8313; https://t.me/vrogov/8316[69] https://www.rbc dot ua/rus/news/vadim-skibitskiy-rosiya-mozhe-vesti-viynu-1679493967.html[70] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-december-11[71] https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Russian%20Operations%20Assessments%20March%204%202023.pdf[72] https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Russian%20Operations%20Assessments%20March%204%202023.pdf[73] https://www.rbc dot ua/rus/news/vadim-skibitskiy-rosiya-mozhe-vesti-viynu-1679493967.html[74] https://fanipol.by/novosti/oborona/minoborony-v-belarusi-sformirovan-novyy-zenitnyy-raketnyy-polk/; https://t.me/modmilby/24773; https://t.me/modmilby/24772; https://t.me/modmilby/24780; https://t.me/modmilby/24764; https://t.me/modmilby/24781; https://motolko dot help/en-news/a-new-air-defense-regiment-was-formed-in-luninets/; https://t.me/Hajun_BY/6616; https://reform-by dot cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/reform.by/novyj-zenitnyj-raketnyj-polk-sformirovan-v-belarusskom-lunince/amp[75] https://motolko.help/en-news/a-new-air-defense-regiment-was-formed-in-luninets/[76] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russia-review-august-18-august-31-2021[77] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-december-20[78] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/belarus-warning-update-putin-intensifies-russian-belarusian-military-integration; https://www.iswresearch.org/2020/09/belarus-warning-update-lukashenko-and.html; https://www.iswresearch.org/2020/08/warning-lukashenkos-security-forces.html[79] https://t.me/modmilby/24790[80] https://t.me/modmilby/24765 

[Author: Institute for the Study of War] [Category: Russia, Ukraine]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 3/26/23 6:18pm
  Annika Ganzeveld, Amin Soltani, Johanna Moore, Ashka Jhaveri, Nicholas Carl, and Frederick W. KaganMarch 23, 2023, 5:00 pm ETThe Iran Updates are produced by the Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute with support from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). To receive Iran Updates via email, please subscribe here.Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has trapped the Iranian regime by focusing public and government attention on improving the economy—an issue he does not yet appear willing to seriously address. Khamenei confined intra-regime debate to the economy—rather than addressing the socio-cultural issues that fueled the Mahsa Amini protests—and proposed various solutions to Iran’s economic problems during his Nowrouz address on March 21.[1] Khamenei called for privatization, stating that “the most important problem and weakness of the country is the governmental nature of the economy.”[2] Khamenei additionally acknowledged some critics’ use of the term “khasoulati”—meaning “state-controlled”—to describe the economic dominance of parastatal entities.[3] Khamenei’s reference to this term confirms that he is aware of some of the arguments made by pragmatic hardliners, such as Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, about what role the parastatal establishment should play in Iran’s economy. Ghalibaf has explicitly called for parastatal organizations to decrease their involvement in the economy in recent weeks, as CTP previously reported.[4] Khamenei’s recognition of and lip service to this conversation does not necessarily mean he is prepared to make the difficult decisions involved in seriously prying the economy from the grip of the state-owned economic giants. Meaningful privatization would require an overhaul of the Iranian economy which would likely take years to complete and would cause severe economic disruptions. Khamenei declined to take such measures when former President Hassan Rouhani advocated for them fervently, moreover.[5] It is thus more likely that Khamenei is discussing privatization because he has designated the economy as one of the only acceptable topics of intra-regime debate.The regime’s intransigence on both economic and sociocultural issues will likely fuel greater instability and unrest. This rhetorical focus on the economy is not enough to address the underlying problems or address protest grievances. Khamenei’s focus on the economy will only lead to public disappointment if he does not plan to seriously reform the economy. The regime has furthermore reiterated its uncompromising stance toward sociocultural issues in recent days, affirming that such issues, such as the mandatory hijab law, are nonnegotiable. Regime officials have intensified their efforts to enforce mandatory veiling, including by announcing plans to reestablish morality patrols, for example.[6]Key TakeawaysSupreme Leader Ali Khamenei has trapped the Iranian regime by focusing public and government attention on improving the economy—an issue he does not yet appear willing to seriously address.The regime’s intransigence on both economic and sociocultural issues will likely fuel greater instability and unrest.CTP did not observe any protest activity, possibly due to the Nowrouz holiday.Internal Security and Protest ActivityCTP did not observe any protest activity on March 23. This decreased activity may be due to the Nowrouz holiday.Economic AffairsThe Tehran Stock Exchange was closed from March 20-22 for the Nowrouz holiday.[7] The value of Iranian rial thus remains the same, around 494,000 to one US dollar.[8] The rial has depreciated in recent days, rising from around 471,000 rials to the US dollar on March 17.[9]Nuclear ProgramUK-based outlet Middle East Eye reported on March 22 that Strategic Foreign Relations Council (SFRC) Secretary Abbas Araghchi has held secret nuclear negotiations with unspecified Western powers in recent weeks.[10] This report follows online rumors claiming that Araghchi joined the nuclear negotiating team and traveled to Geneva with Foreign Affairs Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian, likely to revitalize nuclear negotiations, as CTP previously reported and assessed. Araghchi is a career Iranian diplomat who played a prominent role in the nuclear negotiations with the West under the Hassan Rouhani administration. Araghchi serves as a foreign policy adviser to Supreme Leader Khamenei as SCFR secretary. Khamenei established the SCFR in 2006 to serve as his personal advisory board and foreign policy think tank.The Middle East Eye report claimed that President Ebrahim Raisi was not aware of Araghchi’s negotiations. CTP cannot verify this claim, although it is consistent with online rumors reporting that the Supreme National Security Council (which effectively operates under Khamenei rather than the president) has taken responsibility for the nuclear negotiations from the Foreign Affairs Ministry.[11]The regime may be particularly concerned about a European “snapback” decision in the UN Security Council, as CTP previously assessed.[12] The regime could therefore be signaling its seriousness about negotiations primarily to placate European powers. The Europeans have strongly condemned both Iran’s unprecedented violations of its safeguards obligations as well as its military support to Russia.[13] The UK, France, and Germany (the E3) were reportedly prepared to introduce a censure resolution against Iran during the recent IAEA Board of Governors meeting in March 2023—an escalatory step that could refer Iran’s nuclear file to the UN Security Council.[14]Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister for Political Affairs and chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani confirmed reports that he held meetings with E3 officials, as CTP previously reported.[15] The Iranians are likely trying to assuage Western concerns about Tehran’s external and nuclear activities in order to restart stalled nuclear negotiations, as CTP previously assessed.[16] This meeting follows recent Iranian diplomatic activities centered around or adjacent to its nuclear program, ranging from Iran’s commitment to reinstall IAEA monitoring equipment and restoring Agency access to nuclear facilities to pursuing diplomatic rapprochements with several Gulf states and holding talks with Ukraine over Iranian military support to Russia.[17] Foreign Affairs Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian held a telephone conversation with Swiss Foreign Affairs Minister Ignazio Cassis on March 23, during which Amir Abdollahian expressed Iran’s commitment to ending the war in Ukraine likely as part of the same effort.[18]Foreign Policy and DiplomacyStrategic Foreign Relations Council Chairman Kamal Kharrazi met with Lebanese Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut, Lebanon on March 23 to discuss recent regional developments.[19] Kamal Kharrazi and Council Secretary Abbas Araghchi met with Lebanese Foreign Affairs Minister Abdollah Bou Habib and Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri on March 22.[20] Kharrazi and Araghchi previously met Syrian President Bashar al Assad, Foreign Affairs Minister Faisal Mekdad, and Religious Endowments Minister Mohammad Abdul Sattar in Damascus on March 19-21, as CTP previously reported.[21]Foreign Affairs Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian held a phone call with Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister Faisal bin Farhad al Saud on March 23.[22] The two agreed to meet with one another as soon as possible and discussed preparation for the reopening of embassies. This call follows the normalization of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia on March 10, as CTP previously reported.[23] The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) declared its support for the Iran-Saudi rapprochement on March 23.[24]  Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova announced that Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian will travel to Moscow to meet with Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov on March 29.[25] Zakharova stated that the two ministers will discuss Iran’s nuclear negotiations and mutual cooperation with respect to Syria, Afghanistan, the Caucasus, and the Caspian Sea.External Security and Military AffairsUnnamed Arab and Turkmen members of Iraqi parliament threatened in a joint statement on March 22 to withdraw their support for the State of Law Coalition-backed election law.[26] Iraq’s parliament voted on five out of 20 amendments to the election laws on March 19.[27] Kurdish parliamentarians from Kirkuk Province voted in favor of the proposed amendments following an agreement to remove Article 35 from the list.[28] Article 35 would require voter identification cards for residents of Kirkuk. The Arab and Turkmen parliamentarians from Kirkuk province who signed the joint statement claimed Parliament had removed Article 35 contrary to a pre-negotiated list of demands and threatened to withdraw their vote supporting the remaining election laws.[29] Head of the United Turkmen Front Arshad al Salih warned that protests will erupt in Kirkuk if parliament votes on the remaining election laws without re-adding Article 35 to the agenda.[30]Interior Minister Mohammed al Shammari led a delegation to Dhi Qar Province on March 23, likely to deter future anti-election law protests.[31] Shammari chaired a meeting with his delegation and local security officials on March 23 and announced the Interior Ministry’s plan to deploy additional police forces and vehicles to the province ostensibly as part of a modernization effort.[32] Shammari’s announcement is likely a warning to potential protesters in Dhi Qar Province. Protests against the election laws and government corruption previously erupted in Nasariyah, Dhi Qar province on March 22. Protesters set fires in the street and set fire to the local State of Law Coalition office building.[33] The Dhi Qar election office announced that it will suspend all operations until further notice, possibly indicating that additional protests are planned to take place in the Province.Iraqi political figure Moqtada al Sadr ordered eight senior Sadrist officials to remain in Iraq during Ramadan in a public statement, possibly to warn Shia Coordination Framework leadership against interference in Dhi Qar.[34] Sadr announced that he and these officials will meet to discuss “important matters.” Sadr has historically benefited from high popular support in southern Iraqi provinces like Dhi Qar.[35] Shammari’s announcement to send additional police forces to Dhi Qar province coincides with Sadr’s announcement and suggests that Sadr may seek to block Popular Mobilization Forces—a loose umbrella group of pro-Iranian militias—from exerting additional influence in Dhi Qar. Sadr had previously suspended all Sadrist militia operations in Diyala in a likely attempt to avoid direct confrontation.[36]Al Araby and Eye of Euphrates claimed that two unidentified drones targeted an Iranian convoy in eastern Syria on March 22.[37] Al Araby claimed the drone strike targeted a convoy of six vehicles traveling to Iran’s Imam Ali base through the al Hari border crossing in Albu Kamal district, Deir ez Zor province.[38] The Imam Ali base is the largest Iranian military base abroad. The IRGC has used the facility to store drones and missiles and can house thousands of fighters there.[39] An anti-regime Twitter account published a video purportedly of the alleged strike.[40] CTP cannot independently verify the contents of the video. Israel Alma—an Israeli think tank—claimed that the strike targeted the Imam Ali base, citing ”local reports.”[41] Iranian state media attributed the drone strike to Israel.[42] The drone strike follows recent Israeli airstrikes against Iranian and Iranian-backed forces throughout Syria. Israeli combat aircraft targeted an Iranian weapons depot at Aleppo International Airport on March 21, as CTP previously reported.[43][1] https://www dot leader dot ir/fa/content/26385/%D8%B3%D8%AE%D9%86%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C-%D9%86%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%B2%DB%8C-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D8%AC%D8%AA%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B9-%D8%B2%D8%A7%D8%A6%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%88-%D9%85%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%AD%D8%B1%D9%85-%D9%85%D8%B7%D9%87%D8%B1-%D8%B1%D8%B6%D9%88%DB%8C-%D8%B9%D9%84%DB%8C%D9%87-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85[2] https://www dot leader dot ir/fa/content/26385/%D8%B3%D8%AE%D9%86%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C-%D9%86%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%B2%DB%8C-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D8%AC%D8%AA%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B9-%D8%B2%D8%A7%D8%A6%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%88-%D9%85%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%AD%D8%B1%D9%85-%D9%85%D8%B7%D9%87%D8%B1-%D8%B1%D8%B6%D9%88%DB%8C-%D8%B9%D9%84%DB%8C%D9%87-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85[3] https://www dot leader dot ir/fa/content/26385/%D8%B3%D8%AE%D9%86%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C-%D9%86%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%B2%DB%8C-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D8%AC%D8%AA%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B9-%D8%B2%D8%A7%D8%A6%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%88-%D9%85%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%AD%D8%B1%D9%85-%D9%85%D8%B7%D9%87%D8%B1-%D8%B1%D8%B6%D9%88%DB%8C-%D8%B9%D9%84%DB%8C%D9%87-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85[4] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-february-23-2023[5] https://en.radiofarda.com/a/rouhani-criticizes-poor-iran-privatization-asks-accountability/29794449.html[6] https://www dot entekhab dot ir/fa/news/719335/%D9%85%D8%B9%D8%A7%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%B9%D9%85%D9%84%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%B3%D9%BE%D8%A7%D9%87-%D8%AD%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%A8-%D8%AC%D8%B2%D8%A1-%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%AC%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%87%DB%8C-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D9%85%D8%B1%D8%AF%D9%85-%D8%B9%D9%81%D8%AA-%D9%88-%D8%A2%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%B4-%D8%AE%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%AF%D9%87-%D8%AC%D8%B2%D8%A1-%D8%AE%D8%B7%D9%88%D8%B7-%D9%82%D8%B1%D9%85%D8%B2-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA[7] https://www.tradinghours dot com/markets/tse[8] https://bonbast dot com/[9] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-22-2023#_edndcd0d12f268fcf635f645ea940f450ceref14[10]  dot net/news/iran-officials-secret-talks-west-without-raisi-knowledge[11] https://twitter.com/SaeedAzimi1772/status/1637430437655060481?s=20[12] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-22-2023#_edndcd0d12f268fcf635f645ea940f450ceref22[13] https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/e3-statement-to-the-iaea-board-of-governors-on-the-joint-comprehensive-plan-of-action-march-2023 ; https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/10/20/eu-agrees-new-sanctions-over-iranian-drones-in-ukraine[14] https://www.axios.com/2023/03/08/israel-iran-us-nuclear-inspections-iaea[15] https://www.irna dot ir/news/85064024/%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%AA-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%82%D8%B1%DB%8C-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D9%85%D8%B0%D8%A7%DA%A9%D8%B1%D9%87-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D8%B3%D9%87-%DA%A9%D8%B4%D9%88%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%88%D9%BE%D8%A7%DB%8C%DB%8C; https://www.tasnimnews dot com/fa/news/1402/01/03/2870920/باقری-با-مدیران-سه-کشور-اروپایی-در-اسلو-دیدار-داشتم ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-22-2023#_edndcd0d12f268fcf635f645ea940f450ceref15[16] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-22-2023#_edndcd0d12f268fcf635f645ea940f450ceref15[17] https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/pressreleases/joint-statement-by-the-atomic-energy-organization-of-iran-aeoi-and-the-international-atomic-energy-agency-iaea ; https://amwaj dot media/article/inside-story-the-emerging-iran-ukraine-dialogue-in-oman ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-10-2023 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-14-2023#_edndcd0d12f268fcf635f645ea940f450cec84cb753ea8852364c044033f0d1e497ref47 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-15-2023 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-16-2023 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-17-2023 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-20-2023#_edndcd0d12f268fcf635f645ea940f450ce74ae9cda80c074191c8a7bbfca93d647ref38 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-21-2023[18]https://www.tasnimnews dot com/fa/news/1402/01/03/2870926/%DA%AF%D9%81%D8%AA%DA%AF%D9%88%DB%8C-%D8%AA%D9%84%D9%81%D9%86%DB%8C-%D9%88%D8%B2%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%AC%D9%87-%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%88-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%A6%DB%8C%D8%B3-%D8%AA%D8%A7%DA%A9%DB%8C%D8%AF-%D8%A8%D8%B1-%D9%BE%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%AC%D9%86%DA%AF-%D8%A7%D9%88%DA%A9%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C%D9%86[19] https://www.irna dot ir/news/85064359/%D8%AF%DB%8C%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B1-%DA%A9%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%84-%D8%AE%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%B2%DB%8C-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%AF-%D8%AD%D8%B3%D9%86-%D9%86%D8%B5%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%84%D9%87 ; https://www.farsnews dot ir/news/14020102000518/%D8%AE%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%B2%DB%8C-%D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA-%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D9%82%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%B1%DB%8C-%D8%AB%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D9%88-%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%86%DB%8C%D8%AA-%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%B3%D8%B7-%DA%A9%D8%B4%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%87%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D9%85%D9%86%D8%B7%D9%82%D9%87-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA[20] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-22-2023#_edndcd0d12f268fcf635f645ea940f450ceref22[21] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-21-2023[22] https://www.tasnimnews dot com/fa/news/1402/01/03/2870923/%DA%AF%D9%81%D8%AA-%D9%88%DA%AF%D9%88%DB%8C-%D8%AA%D9%84%D9%81%D9%86%DB%8C-%D9%88%D8%B2%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%AC%D9%87-%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%88-%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A8%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%AA%D8%A3%DA%A9%DB%8C%D8%AF-%D8%A8%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%AF%DB%8C%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%AF%D9%88%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%A8%D9%87[23] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-10-2023[24] https://www.irna dot ir/news/85064354/%D9%88%D8%A7%DA%A9%D9%86%D8%B4-%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A8%D9%87-%D8%A8%DB%8C%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C%D9%87-%D9%86%D8%B4%D8%B3%D8%AA-%D9%88%D8%B2%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%AC%D9%87-%D8%B4%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D9%87%D9%85%DA%A9%D8%A7%D8%B1%DB%8C-%D8%AE%D9%84%DB%8C%D8%AC-%D9%81%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%B3[25] https://www.isna dot ir/news/1402010301032/%D8%A7%D9%85%DB%8C%D8%B1%D8%B9%D8%A8%D8%AF%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%84%D9%87%DB%8C%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A8%D9%87-%D9%85%D8%B3%DA%A9%D9%88-%D9%85%DB%8C-%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%AF[26] https://www dot alaraby.co.uk/politics/%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%82%D9%88%D9%89-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%83%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D9%83%D8%B1%D9%83%D9%88%D9%83-%D8%AA%D8%AF%D8%AE%D9%84-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89-%D8%AE%D8%B7-%D8%B1%D9%81%D8%B6-%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AA[27] https://www.ninanews dot com/Website/News/Details?Key=1042011[28] https://www dot alaraby.co.uk/politics/%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%82%D9%88%D9%89-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%83%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D9%83%D8%B1%D9%83%D9%88%D9%83-%D8%AA%D8%AF%D8%AE%D9%84-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89-%D8%AE%D8%B7-%D8%B1%D9%81%D8%B6-%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AA[29] https://www dot alaraby.co.uk/politics/%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%82%D9%88%D9%89-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%83%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D9%83%D8%B1%D9%83%D9%88%D9%83-%D8%AA%D8%AF%D8%AE%D9%84-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89-%D8%AE%D8%B7-%D8%B1%D9%81%D8%B6-%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AA ;https://www dot alquds.co.uk/%d8%b9%d8%b1%d8%a8-%d9%83%d8%b1%d9%83%d9%88%d9%83-%d9%8a%d9%8f%d8%b9%d9%84%d9%86%d9%88%d9%86-%d8%b4%d8%b1%d9%88%d8%b7%d9%87%d9%85-%d9%84%d8%a5%d8%ac%d8%b1%d8%a7%d8%a1-%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%a7%d9%86%d8%aa/[30] https://shafaq dot com/ar/%D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%A9/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B5%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%8A-%D9%8A%D9%84%D9%88-%D8%AD-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%B5%D8%B9%D9%8A%D8%AF-%D9%85%D9%86-%D9%82%D8%A8%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%B9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%83%D8%B1%D9%83%D9%88%D9%83%D9%8A-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%84-%D8%AA%D9%85%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%B1-%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D9%85%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%81%D8%B8%D8%A7%D8%AA[31] https://ninanews dot com/Website/News/Details?key=1042259 ;https://shafaq dot com/ar/%D8%A3%D9%85%D9%80%D9%86/%D9%88%D8%B2%D9%8A%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%AE%D9%84%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%87%D9%86%D8%A7%D9%83-%D9%87%D8%AF%D9%88-%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%82%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D9%85%D9%86%D9%8A-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%B0%D9%8A-%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D9%88%D9%86%D8%AF%D8%B9%D9%88-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B4%D8%A7-%D8%B1-%D9%84%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%AD%D8%AA%D9%83%D8%A7%D9%85-%D9%84%D9%89-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%82%D8%B6%D8%A7-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%86%D8%B2%D8%A7%D8%B9%D8%A7%D8%AA[32] https://twitter.com/saadmaanoficial/status/1638939388636790787[33] https://twitter.com/BasharSabaawi70/status/1638310001813905411 ;https://twitter.com/Tammuz_Intel/status/1638282337698959422 ;https://twitter.com/AlArabiya_Iraq/status/1638281533160149014[34] https://www dot rudawarabia.net/arabic/middleeast/iraq/220320239 ;https://twitter.com/Tammuz_Intel/status/1638631524399448067[35] https://www.chathamhouse.org/2022/08/understanding-iraqs-muqtada-al-sadr-inside-baghdads-sadr-city[36] https://twitter.com/Tammuz_Intel/status/1634520441812295680?s=20[37] https://www.alaraby.co.uk/politics/%D9%85%D9%8F%D8%B3%D9%8A%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%AA%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%87%D8%AF%D9%81-%D8%B3%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A5%D9%8A%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%AF%D9%85%D8%A9-%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%82-%D8%B4%D8%B1%D9%82%D9%8A-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A9; https://eyeofeuphrates.com/ar/news/2023/03/23/8044;[38] https://www.alaraby.co.uk/politics/%D9%85%D9%8F%D8%B3%D9%8A%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%AA%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%87%D8%AF%D9%81-%D8%B3%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A5%D9%8A%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%AF%D9%85%D8%A9-%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%82-%D8%B4%D8%B1%D9%82%D9%8A-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A9[39] https://israel-alma.org/2023/03/23/the-imam-ali-base-in-albukamal-a-central-military-anchor-in-the-iranian-corridor-to-syria-and-lebanon/[40] https://twitter.com/Sharqya_reporte/status/1638602119182708742[41] https://israel-alma.org/2023/03/23/the-imam-ali-base-in-albukamal-a-central-military-anchor-in-the-iranian-corridor-to-syria-and-lebanon/[42] https://tasnimnews.com/en/news/2023/03/28/2870974/unidentified-drones-target-al-bukamal-desert-on-syrian-iraqi-border[43] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-21-2023

[Author: Institute for the Study of War] [Category: Iran]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 3/26/23 5:39pm
 Frederick W. KaganMarch 26, 4:30 pm ETClick here to see ISW’s interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.Click here to access ISW’s archive of interactive time-lapse maps of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These maps complement the static control-of-terrain maps that ISW produces daily by showing a dynamic frontline. ISW will update this time-lapse map archive monthly.ISW is publishing an abbreviated campaign update today, March 26. This report discusses Russian President Vladimir Putin’s continued efforts to seek complete victory in Ukraine, which he appears confident that he can attain over time. Putin seems to reject the idea increasingly prevalent in Western discourse that the current military realities require or support a negotiated resolution of the conflict. Neither Ukraine nor the West has persuaded him that he must consider accepting any sort of off-ramp or compromise settlement. Putin instead remains focused on achieving his initial war aims through protracted conflict in which he wins either by imposing his will on Ukraine by force or by breaking Ukraine’s will following the West’s abandonment of Kyiv. Multiple successful Ukrainian counter-offensives are almost certainly necessary but not sufficient either to persuade Putin to negotiate on acceptable terms or to create military conditions on the ground favorable enough to Ukraine and the West that continued or renewed Russian attacks pose acceptable threats to Ukraine or NATO.The outcomes of wars often are, in fact, determined on the battlefield with negotiations that merely ratify military realities. Putin likely has one such example vividly in his mind—World War II in Europe. That war ended only when Allied forces had completely defeated the German military and Soviet troops stood in the wreckage of Berlin. Japan surrendered a few months later after the US had demonstrated what appeared to be the ability to destroy the country completely—and only after the Japanese military had lost the ability to do more than impose casualties on the US in the process of losing. Going further back in history the peaces that ended the three Wars of German Unification, the American Civil War, and the Napoleonic Wars also merely ratified realities created by decisive military victories. Even the most recently ended war adhered to this pattern. The US withdrawal from Afghanistan was followed by a decisive Taliban military victory that has ended that conflict (for now) without any formal treaty or accord ratifying this outcome. History offers many counter-examples, to be sure, including the Dayton Accords that ended the Bosnian conflict and the resolution of the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. But it is simply not the case that all wars end in negotiated settlements, particularly if by “negotiated settlements” is meant mutual recognition of the impossibility of achieving desired aims through military force.Putin initiated the current war and is the key actor who must decide that he cannot achieve his aims by military power and must instead engage in a negotiated resolution of the conflict if the war is to end in this fashion. The war will protract as long as Putin believes that he can impose his will on Ukraine by fighting or by breaking the Ukrainians’ will to fight following their abandonment by the West.Putin continues to make clear by word and deed that he has come to no such conclusion yet despite the failures of his major military efforts this winter. His efforts to freeze Ukraine and Europe into surrendering over the winter came to nothing, and the Russian winter-spring offensives that were supposed to secure the borders of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts are culminating.[1] The Russian military has committed the overwhelming majority of the reportedly 300,000 reservists mobilized in Fall 2022 as well as the 40,000 convicts recruited into the Wagner Private Military Company (PMC) into a multi-divisional offensive all along the line in Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts.[2] The results of that effort are deeply unimpressive. Russian forces gained no significant terrain in Luhansk. Wagner troops have taken part of Bakhmut City and conducted an incomplete turning movement that has so far failed to persuade Ukrainian commanders to withdraw from the Bakhmut pocket.[3] Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) forces, now reinforced by conventional Russian troops, have conducted a similarly incomplete turning movement around Avdiivka.[4] Offensives against Vuhledar in western Donetsk Oblast have made effectively no gains at staggering costs in manpower and materiel.[5] The Russian milblogger space and Russian, Ukrainian, and Western media are full of discussions of the upcoming Ukrainian counter-offensive, about which the only real questions appear to be when and where it will occur.[6] This would be an appropriate moment for Putin to conclude that Russia cannot impose its will on Ukraine by force and that he must seek a compromise settlement. He has clearly come to no such conclusion, however.Putin is instead doubling down on his commitment to overpower Ukraine militarily and/or protract the war by mobilizing Russia’s defense industrial base and renewing various crypto-mobilization schemes to generate renewed combat power. Putin’s March 25 speech continued a months-long effort to mobilize Russian military industry for a protracted war.[7] That effort and his speech also aim to portray Russia (falsely) as the modern incarnation of Stalin’s Soviet Union able to overwhelm its enemies with unstoppable masses of men and materiel despite Putin’s manifest unwillingness actually to put Russia fully on a war footing. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu began this effort at the end of 2022 and has continued it through this year, and Putin has been amplifying it.[8] The Russians clearly are attempting to mobilize their military industry and will surely generate some improvements. The exaggerated claims and unrealistic goals that Putin and Shoigu have made and set are intended in part to portray greater strength and potential than Russia has. They do not, however, reflect the challenges Russia faces in acquiring essential war materiel in the face of Western sanctions and in shortages of skilled labor. The latter challenge is made more acute by the need for Russia to balance mobilizing young men to fight and keeping them in the workforce.[9] That Putin should be mobilizing Russia’s defense industry now is surprising only in that it took him this long to start. The fact that he is not accompanying this mobilization with any suggestion that he would consider a compromise peace—particularly after Chinese Premier Xi Jinping appeared to offer to help negotiate one during a high-profile and dramatic visit to Moscow—indicates that Putin remains committed to achieving his aims by force.[10]The continuing of Russian offensive operations around Bakhmut and Avdiivka, as well as along the Luhansk and western Donetsk front lines, is a further indicator that Putin remains committed to victory in a protracted war whose outcome is determined in large part by military realities on the ground. These attacks have now become not merely pointless, but actually harmful to Russian preparations for the next phase of this war, which will revolve around the upcoming Ukrainian counter-offensive. Russian forces may or may not be able to drive Ukrainian troops out of Avdiivka or Bakhmut, but they will gain no significant operational advantage from doing either because they lack the ability to exploit such advances. The Russians appear to have little likelihood of making any gains that are even tactically significant in western Donetsk or on most of the Luhansk line—yet attacks in all these areas continue.Putin’s continuation of these Russian offensive operations in the current operational and strategic context amounts to strategic malfeasance. It expends scarce Russian combat power in pursuit of operationally meaningless gains rather than setting conditions to receive and defeat a Ukrainian counter-offensive that everyone appears to expect imminently.Putin’s stubbornness in clinging to these offensive operations could make sense, however, in a protracted conflict during which Western support for Ukraine wanes or ends. Putin might even mean these operations to set conditions for a negotiated settlement on terms he has already articulated that include international recognition of Russia’s annexation of all of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia, and Kherson oblasts; Ukrainian “neutrality;” the “de-militarization” of Ukraine; and the “de-Nazification” of the Ukrainian government. He may be pressing his commanders to continue attacks that are increasingly pointless in the short term because he recognizes that he can only hope to make good his claims to unoccupied areas of the four oblasts he has annexed if his forces actually take them. He may, in this sense, indeed be seeking to set conditions for a negotiated settlement. In that case, however, it becomes apparent that he must still believe that he can impose his desired resolution of the conflict on Ukraine and the West by military force—or by convincing Ukraine to surrender—and that he is unwilling to accept a resolution short of his stated aims (which include territories that Russian forces do not yet control) at this time.A successful series of Ukrainian counter-offensives, not just one, is thus almost certainly necessary but not sufficient to persuade Putin to enter negotiations on terms other than the achievement of all of his stated objectives. Ukrainian forces must show that they can do what Russian forces cannot, namely change the realities on the ground through military action. They must further damage Russian military power in Ukraine to the point at which it becomes clear to Putin and the inner circle that supports him in this war that the Russian armed forces cannot hope to improve the outcome of the war by continued fighting. Multiple major Ukrainian operational-level victories are therefore likely essential to creating any prospect of a negotiated settlement of the current conflict or forcing Putin to accept unfavorable military realities absent a formal settlement.There is reason to expect that Ukrainian forces can, in fact, make gains through counter-offensives. Ukraine has launched two major counter-offensive operations in this war, not counting the voluntary withdrawal of Russian forces from around Kyiv. Both were successful in retaking large areas, first in Kharkiv and then in western Kherson.[11] Various analysts have expressed various opinions about whether Ukrainian forces can penetrate prepared Russian defensive positions and raised other concerns about the prospects for Ukrainian successes. It remains the case, however, that whereas Russian force have demonstrated that they cannot make significant gains at this stage of the war, Ukrainian forces have yet to fail in such an attempt.It is far from clear that Putin ever will accept these military realities, however. He may resolve to continue fighting, with or without a pause, as long as it takes to achieve all his aims. His rhetoric and actions, as well as his past patterns, certainly suggest this possibility. A negotiated settlement may therefore be unattainable because Putin will not accept the reality that he cannot actually conquer Ukraine.Ukraine and the West will have to create military realities that permit a cessation of hostilities on terms that they can effectively impose on Putin in that case. Ukrainian forces, properly supported by the collective West, can retake the terrain that is strategically vital to Ukraine’s military and economic survival and that would be essential for renewed Russian offensives on terms favorable to Moscow. ISW has assessed the operational and strategic significance of various parts of occupied Ukrainian territory and stands by that assessment.[12] There likely is a line short of the full restoration of Ukrainian control over all of occupied Ukrainian territory that could be the basis for a protracted cessation of hostilities on terms acceptable to Ukraine and the West—but that line is not close to where the current front lines stand.It is not a given, nevertheless, that Putin will continue fighting regardless of cost until the day he dies. He has ostentatiously and surprisingly refrained from going all-in on this war from its inception. One can dismiss his failure fully to mobilize and prepare his military before the invasion because he clearly believed that the Ukrainians would not or could not fight. He has passed by multiple moments when moving to fuller mobilization had become necessary, has delayed decisions to implement even partial mobilization for far too long from Russia’s perspective, and even when he has made such decisions has sought to limit their impact on the Russian society and economy.[13] Putin’s Stalinist rhetoric aside, he has shown remarkable concern about the danger of pushing Russia too far and generating a threat to the stability of his regime. Ukraine and the West should not count on Putin’s will breaking by any means, but neither should they dismiss the possibility that he might at some point decide that the costs and risks of continuing the fight are no longer justified by the potential gains.Putin is nevertheless putting no terms for negotiation on the table now other than Russia’s total success. He is not taking the military measures that would be prudent were he serious about seeking some negotiated off-ramp or compromise settlement. The current frontlines would set highly favorable conditions for renewed Russian invasions if Putin were offering to accept them as a ceasefire boundary—but he clearly is unwilling to do so.The choices before Ukraine and its Western backers at this time are thus relatively straightforward. Ukraine can unilaterally cease fighting even as Russian attacks by ground and air continue, which would lead to disastrous defeat (and which almost no one is advocating). Ukrainian forces can continue fighting in a very constrained way seeking only to hold what they now have, which will encourage Putin to continue his efforts to pursue outright military victory. Or they can launch successive counter-offensive operations with the twin aims of persuading Putin to accept a negotiated compromise or of creating military realities sufficiently favorable to Ukraine that Kyiv and its Western allies can then effectively freeze the conflict on their own regardless of Putin’s decisions. Those are the options facing Ukraine and the West as long as Putin continues to believe that he can impose his will by force of Russian arms over however long a period he is willing to fight.Key inflections in ongoing military operations on March 26:Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar called for informational silence regarding a potential Ukrainian counteroffensive.[14]Russian milbloggers largely amplified and praised Russian President Vladimir Putin’s March 25 information operations.[15] One milblogger claimed that the deployment of nuclear weapons does not change Russia’s military situation in Ukraine or need to defend against a future Ukrainian counteroffensive, however.[16]Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks on the Svatove-Kreminna line.[17] Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Serhiy Cherevaty stated that Russian and Ukrainian forces fought 10 battles in the Kupyansk-Lyman direction.[18]Russian forces continued attacking Bakhmut and its environs and made marginal gains within the city.[19] Russian sources claimed that Wagner Group forces cleared the AZOM plant in northern Bakhmut.[20]Russian forces continued attacking along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line and made marginal gains within Marinka.[21] Ukrainian intelligence stated that Wagner Group forces may arrive in the Avdiivka direction.[22]Russian forces continued routine fire against areas in Zaporizhia, Kherson, and Dnipropetrovsk oblasts.[23] Head of the Ukrainian United Coordination Press Center of the Southern Defense Forces Nataliya Humenyuk stated that Russian forces in southern Ukraine lack adequate supplies of missiles and drones.[24]Russian sources reported the formation of the “Uragan” volunteer battalion of the irregular formation 1st “Wolves” Sabotage and Reconnaissance Brigade, which operates in the Avdiivka area.[25]United Russia Secretary Andrey Turchak announced the proposal of a draft law on March 24 that would allow families of employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) who died in the war to be eligible to receive a one-time housing payment.[26]The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian occupation authorities in Berdyansk in occupied Zaporizhia Oblast are requiring locals to obtain passes from the occupation administration by April 1 in order to move around occupied Zaporizhia Oblast.[27] [1] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-9-2023; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-25-2023; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-24-2023; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-20-2023[2] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-5-2023; https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Russian%20Offensive%20Campaign%20Assessment%2C%20March%2019%2C%202023.pdf[3] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-4-2023; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-25-2023; https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Russian%20Offensive%20Campaign%20Assessment%2C%20March%208%2C%202023.pdf ; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-12-2023[4] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-20-2023[5] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-1-2023 https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-13-2023; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-11-2023[6] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-24-2023; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-update-march-19-2023[7] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-25-2023[8] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-december-21; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-january-17-2023; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-22-2023[9] https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Russian%20Offensive%20Campaign%20Assessment%2C%20March%2014%2C%202023%20PDF.pdf[10] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-21-2023; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-20-2023[11] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-september-11; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-november-13[12] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-13-2023; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-6-2023; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-15-2023; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-january-21-2023; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-update-march-19-2023;[13] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-6-2023; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-26-2023; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-15-2023[14] https://suspilne dot media/425538-minoboroni-zaklikae-do-informacijnoi-tisi-sodo-kontrnastupu-zsu/[15] https://t.me/rybar/45046;https://t.me/readovkanews/55493;https://t.me/readovkanews/55475;https://t.me/readovkanews/55476;https://t.me/readovkanews/55473;https://t.me/readovkanews/55472;https://t.me/readovkanews/55468;https://t.me/readovkanews/55469;https://t.me/readovkanews/55470;https://t.me/readovkanews/55471;https://t.me/readovkanews/55480;https://t.me/boris_rozhin/81381; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/81380; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/46318; https://t.me/Sladkov_plus/7414;https://t.me/rlz_the_kraken/57287[16] https://t.me/vysokygovorit/11125; https://t.me/rt_special/3337[17] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02FnK5bXUHWMsuvWNC48S88M1pf82E3gHcwAdM3DA8vu6MCShfzuhT4rmBp4ecvCXxl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid04fY6zCR3r13jxwxTvkd6pHnj2XvpFSZm2vjZAAeusmcXgiF89T23GRwxkYHNmdBTl;[18] https://suspilne dot media/425655-rosia-budue-aderne-shovise-u-bilorusi-minoboroni-ukraini-zaklikalo-do-informacijnoi-tisi-396-den-vijni-onlajn/[19] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02FnK5bXUHWMsuvWNC48S88M1pf82E3gHcwAdM3DA8vu6MCShfzuhT4rmBp4ecvCXxl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02FnK5bXUHWMsuvWNC48S88M1pf82E3gHcwAdM3DA8vu6MCShfzuhT4rmBp4ecvCXxl;https://t.me/rian_ru/198008 ; https://twitter.com/War_cube_/status/1639923570536054785?s=20 ;https://twitter.com/Circonscripti18/status/1639913105026166785?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/War_cube_/status/1639928925659750401?s=20[20] https://t.me/rybar/45055; https://t.me/grey_zone/17935; https://t.me/milinfolive/98468; https://t.me/z_arhiv/19884; https://t.me/readovkanews/55491; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/81414; https://t.me/basurin_e/347;https://t.me/boris_rozhin/81379; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/46317[21] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02FnK5bXUHWMsuvWNC48S88M1pf82E3gHcwAdM3DA8vu6MCShfzuhT4rmBp4ecvCXxl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid04fY6zCR3r13jxwxTvkd6pHnj2XvpFSZm2vjZAAeusmcXgiF89T23GRwxkYHNmdBTl; https://t.me/wargonzo/11610; https://t.me/rybar/45060; https://twitter.com/klinger66/status/1639758080673038337 ;https://twitter.com/Bodbe6/status/1639744439676551171 ; https://twitter.com/GeoConfirmed/status/1639771937206353921[22] https://suspilne dot media/425655-rosia-budue-aderne-shovise-u-bilorusi-minoboroni-ukraini-zaklikalo-do-informacijnoi-tisi-396-den-vijni-onlajn/;https://suspilne dot media/425853-aktivizuvalisa-v-napramku-avdiivki-rosijski-vijskovi-315-raziv-strilali-po-doneckomu-napramku-dmitraskivskij/[23] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid04fY6zCR3r13jxwxTvkd6pHnj2XvpFSZm2vjZAAeusmcXgiF89T23GRwxkYHNmdBTl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02FnK5bXUHWMsuvWNC48S88M1pf82E3gHcwAdM3DA8vu6MCShfzuhT4rmBp4ecvCXxl; https://t.me/mod_russia/25112; https://t.me/rybar/45058; https://t.me/mykolaivskaODA/4654; https://t.me/zoda_gov_ua/17804; https://t.me/dnipropetrovskaODA/3783; https://t.me/mykola_lukashuk/3927; https://t.me/mykola_lukashuk/3929;https://t.me/vilkul/2948; https://t.me/Yevtushenko_E/3012; https://t.me/Yevtushenko_E/3010[24] https://suspilne dot media/425733-dvi-dobi-pospil-armia-rf-atakue-hersonsinu-samorobnimi-kerovanimi-bombami-ale-u-nas-e-dosvid-ih-zbitta-gumenuk/[25] https://t.me/notes_veterans/8645; https://t.me/interbrigady2022/1681[26] https://t.me/turchak_andrey/1118; https://t.me/sotaproject/55952; https://notes.citeam.org/mobilization-mar-24-25[27] https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=961727605186991 

[Author: Institute for the Study of War] [Category: Russia, Ukraine]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 3/25/23 11:36pm
 Angela Howard, Kateryna Stepanenko, Grace Mappes, Nicole Wolkov, and Frederick W. KaganMarch 25, 10 pm ET Click here to see ISW’s interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.Click here to access ISW’s archive of interactive time-lapse maps of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These maps complement the static control-of-terrain maps that ISW produces daily by showing a dynamic frontline. ISW will update this time-lapse map archive monthlyRussian President Vladimir Putin launched the predictable next information operation to discourage Ukrainian resistance and disrupt Western support for Ukraine as Russian offensives culminate and Ukraine prepares to launch counter-offensives in an interview with a state-owned Russian news channel on March 25.[1]Putin claimed that the West cannot sustain weapons provisions to Ukraine and exaggerated Russia’s potential to mobilize its own defense industrial base (DIB) to create the false impression that further Ukrainian resistance and Western support to Ukraine is futile. Putin claimed that Ukrainian forces expend up to 5,000 shells a day, while the United States produces an average of 14,000–15,000 shells a month. Putin alleged that planned Western defense production increases will not match Russian planned increases. Putin announced that Russia will build over 1,600 new tanks by the end of 2023 and that Russia will have more than three times the number of tanks as Ukraine at that time.[2] Putin likely seized the opportunity to advance this narrative based on The Financial Times’s March 19 report that European arms manufacturers are “hobbled” by an explosives shortage.[3] Putin argued that continued Western weapons provisions to Ukraine are merely an attempt to prolong the war.[4]Putin compared the state of the Russian wartime DIB with current Western military industrial outputs, stating that the West would need to make significant sacrifices to civilian projects to increase military production to support war in Ukraine. Putin added that unlike the West, Russia does not need excessive militarization of the economy to expand its DIB capabilities. These claims are not supportable. The US GDP alone is 10 times the size of Russia’s. Germany, the UK, and France together have economies nearly five times the size of Russia’s.[5] The US and its allies certainly must make choices when considering spending the large sums required to support Ukraine, but the choices they face are nothing like as hard as those confronting Russia. The balance of overall available resources and industrial capacity is decisively weighted toward the West. Russian military industrial potential is, in fact, hopelessly outmatched by Western military industrial potential. Putin’s messaging is intended to persuade the West to commit less of that potential to supporting Ukraine by convincing the West, falsely, that it cannot match Russia. Russia must move to a full war footing to sustain its current military operations—something Putin has been very reluctant to do. The West does not need to shift to a wartime footing to continue to support Ukraine if it chooses to do so.Putin’s stated goals for Russian tank production in 2023 and comparisons with Ukrainian tank stocks also disregard Russia’s limited industrial capacity to produce more advanced tanks rapidly and ignore Russian tank losses on the battlefield. Russia’s sole tank production factory, UralVagonZavod, reportedly produces 20 tanks a month.[6] It would take over six years to meet Putin’s goal at that rate. UralVagonZavod is unlikely to expand production of modern tanks such as the T-90 rapidly enough to meet these targets in nine months due to international sanctions and shortages of skilled labor.[7] The Kremlin will thus likely continue to pull archaic tanks from storage and may attempt to refurbish some older tanks to meet the stated quota. A Kremlin pundit stated on a live broadcast on March 25 that Russia would pull old T-34 tanks from storage and monuments if needed for the war effort while attempting to justify Russia’s recent deployments of the T-54 and T-55 tanks to the frontlines.[8] These tanks are not comparable to modern Abrams, Challenger, or Leopard tanks, or even to T-72s, in either armament or armor protection.Even Putin’s announced (and unrealistic) production targets are actually close to the minimum level required to replace Russian battlefield losses. Russia has reportedly been losing 150 tanks per month and so would need to produce 1,350 tanks in the next nine months merely to remain at current levels.[9]Putin’s observations also ignore the fact that the West has been providing Ukraine with smaller numbers of technologically advanced systems in part to offset the requirement to send masses of ammunition and equipment. Western militaries have historically held lower stocks of conventional artillery rounds, for example, because they rely on precision long-range fires such as the HIMARS systems the US has provided Ukraine. The Ukrainian military and its Western backers can confidently expect that loss rates in tank duels between M1s, Leopards, and Challengers, on the one hand, and T-55s, T-62s, or even T-72s, on the other, will be far from one-to-one. The US military, after all, has repeatedly demonstrated the relative effectiveness of M1s and T-72s on the battlefields of Iraq.Putin’s comments are an information operation designed to revive the aura of Soviet-era military industry and massed forces. They do not reflect current Russian realities or the balance of economic power or military industrial capacity between Russia and the collective West.Putin advanced another information operation by announcing that Russia will deploy tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus by July 1 and renewed tired information operations about the potential for nuclear escalation. Putin implied that the United Kingdom’s (UK) decision to send munitions containing depleted uranium – uranium that is significantly less radioactive than natural uranium – to Ukraine triggered his decision to deploy tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus for fear of nuclear escalation. Putin rejected Western statements that such munitions are safe to use and do not contain radioactive components. Putin insisted that the projectile core releases “radiation dust” and may sicken Ukrainian citizens and damage Ukraine’s environment.[10] Western anti-tank munitions commonly contain depleted uranium, which the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) notes is “very suitable for military uses.”[11] Such munitions cannot be used to create either nuclear or radiological weapons.[12] Putin’s argument is false-to-fact, and even some domestic audiences likely realize it. A prominent Russian milblogger on March 25 challenged Putin’s argument and stated that it the Western provision of depleted uranium rounds is not a ”real problem.”[13] Putin’s concern for the well-being of the environment in Ukraine, furthermore, appears somewhat misplaced considering the massive damage Russian forces have inflicted on Ukraine’s agricultural lands, to say nothing of Ukraine’s cities and people. If Putin really is so concerned about the future of Ukraine’s ecology he could best serve it by withdrawing from Ukraine and allowing Ukraine and the rest of the world to begin repairing the damage the Russian invasion has caused.The announcement of the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus is irrelevant to the risk of escalation to nuclear war, which remains extremely low. Putin is attempting to exploit Western fears of nuclear escalation by deploying tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus. Russia has long fielded nuclear-capable weapons able to strike any target that tactical nuclear weapons based in Belarus could hit. ISW continues to assess that Putin is a risk-averse actor who repeatedly threatens to use nuclear weapons without any intention of following through in order to break Western resolve.[14] The Financial Times further reported on March 24 that EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell stated that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent visit to Russia reduced the chance that Russia forces would use nuclear weapons because Xi made it “very, very clear” to Putin that he should not deploy nuclear weapons.[15]Putin has likely sought to deploy Russian nuclear weapons to Belarus since before the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine and has likely chosen this moment to do so in order to serve the immediate information operation he is now conducting. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko offered to host Russia nuclear weapons on Belarusian territory on November 30, 2021, and Belarus removed the constitutional clause enshrining Belarus’ neutral status in a referendum in February 2022.[16] ISW forecasted in January and February 2022 that Putin might seek to deploy tactical or strategic nuclear weapons to Belarus as part of a broader effort to deepen Russian control over Belarus.[17] Putin likely refrained from deploying the weapons to Belarus at the start of the 2022 invasion in order to preserve the option to deploy them as part of a future Russian information operation to manipulate the West.Putin likely chose to push these narratives now in hopes of diminishing Ukrainian morale and Western aid to diminish the effectiveness of a rumored pending Ukrainian counteroffensive. Many prominent Russian milbloggers and officials warned that Ukrainian forces will likely attempt a major counteroffensive soon.[18] Putin’s actions suggest that he agrees and that he fears the potential success of a Ukrainian counteroffensive. Putin and senior Kremlin officials have previously leveraged narratives around Russian heightened nuclear readiness, false flag warnings, and vague statements about negative battlefield developments claiming that Russia is entitled to use nuclear weapons to defend itself in Ukraine in order to deter further Western support for or military aid to Ukraine.[19] ISW has previously reported on Putin’s escalation of nuclear rhetoric in September and October 2022 followed by a de-escalation in early November 2022 before the Russian loss of Kherson City and west (right) bank Kherson Oblast and assessed that the Kremlin might leverage further nuclear escalation rhetoric to coerce Western states to negotiate with Russia and halt further military aid to Ukraine.[20] ISW assesses that Putin's March 25 announcement is part of this effort and continues to assess that Russia is very unlikely to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine or elsewhere.Ukrainian and Western officials offered various views of the state of the Russian offensive in Bakhmut on March 25, but all are consistent with the assessment that the Russian effort around Bakhmut is likely culminating. The United Kingdom Ministry of Defense (MoD) assessed on March 25 that the Russian offensive against Bakhmut is stalling and that Russian forces may shift their focus to the Avdiivka and Svatove-Kreminna areas.[21] Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Serhiy Cherevaty cautioned that the recent decrease in reported Russian ground assaults near Bakhmut needs further analysis. Cherevaty also stated that unspecified Russian conventional forces are reinforcing Wagner Group forces, suggesting that Russian conventional forces are intervening to prevent the Wagner offensive from culminating prematurely.[22] Cherevaty noted that Russian forces conducted 18 ground attacks near Bakhmut on March 25 but recently conducted 40–50 attacks a day in the area, suggesting that exhausted Wagner forces are unable to sustain their prior tempo of operations alone but may increase their tempo to earlier levels with assistance from Russian conventional forces.[23] Ukrainian Armed Forces Commander in Chief General Valery Zaluzhny stated that the Bakhmut situation is stabilizing.[24] These statements are not mutually exclusive, however, and the Russian effort against Bakhmut is likely culminating. Russian forces may continue to attack Bakhmut frequently and aggressively even if the offensive has culminated with little to no success, as ISW has previously assessed, as culmination does not mean the absence of fighting.[25] Russian attacks in and around Bakhmut may resume at high levels without generating significant new gains if conventional Russian forces do, in fact, enter the fray. The commitment of conventional reserves could even prevent the attack from culminating and generate operationally significant advances or persuade Ukrainian forces to withdraw, although ISW regards those eventualities as unlikely at this time.Russian forces do not have the degree of fire control over Ukrainian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) to Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and likely other areas of the front that Russian milbloggers claim, further undermining the Russian effort to take Bakhmut. Recent footage shows that Ukrainian forces remain able to drive on the Bakhmut-Chasiv Yar and Bakhmut-Khromove roads despite Russian artillery targeting the Ukrainian vehicles.[26] Russian milbloggers likely based their fire control claims on Russian artillery system ranges, but even Russian ground advances close to these GLOCs have failed to prevent Ukrainian vehicles from using them at least on a small scale. Geolocated footage posted on March 25 shows that Wagner Group forces have crossed the T0504 but remain unable to establish sustained positions that would cut the GLOC.[27]Key Takeaways Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the predictable next information operation to discourage Ukrainian resistance and disrupt Western support for Ukraine as Russian offensives culminate and Ukraine prepares to launch counter-offensives in an interview with a state-owned Russian news channel on March 25.Putin pushed the false narrative that the West cannot sustain weapons provision to Ukraine due to limited Western production and hyperbolized Russia’s potential to mobilize its own defense industrial base (DIB). Putin advanced another information operation by announcing that Russia will deploy tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus by July 1 and renewed tired information operations about the potential for nuclear escalation.Russian conventional forces may intervene in Wagner Group’s offensive around Bakhmut to prevent the offensive from culminating prematurely.Russian forces do not have the degree of fire control over Ukrainian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) to Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and likely other areas of the front that Russian milbloggers claim.Russian forces conducted limited attacks along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line.Russian forces continued to conduct ground attacks in and around Bakhmut and gained limited ground in the city.Russian forces reportedly conducted a mass rotation of forces in Nova Kakhovka on the east (left) bank of the Dnipro River.Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin accused Russian authorities on March 25 of rewriting history to cut out Wagner by forcing state-controlled media outlet RT to cut some coverage of the Wagner Group.The Ukrainian Resistance Center reported on March 24 that Moscow elites are competing for funding to “restore” occupied territories and really plan to use the projects to further their own interests.We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because those activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We will continue to evaluate and report on the effects of these criminal activities on the Ukrainian military and population and specifically on combat in Ukrainian urban areas. We utterly condemn these Russian violations of the laws of armed conflict, Geneva Conventions, and humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.Russian Main Effort—Eastern Ukraine (comprised of two subordinate main efforts)Russian Subordinate Main Effort #1—Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and encircle northern Donetsk OblastRussian Subordinate Main Effort #2—Capture the entirety of Donetsk OblastRussian Supporting Effort—Southern AxisRussian Mobilization and Force Generation EffortsActivities in Russian-occupied AreasRussian Main Effort—Eastern UkraineRussian Subordinate Main Effort #1— Luhansk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and continue offensive operations into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and northern Donetsk Oblast)Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks northeast of Kupyansk on March 25. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful ground attacks near Hryanykivka (17km northeast of Kupyansk) and Synkivka (8km northeast of Kupyansk).[28] Footage published on March 25 purportedly shows drone operators of the 138th Motorized Rifle Brigade (6th Combined Arms Army, Western Military District) striking Ukrainian positions in an unspecified location in Kharkiv Oblast.[29] Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Serhiy Cherevaty stated that Russian forces are failing to make decisive advances along the Kupyansk-Lyman line despite using conventional units that act more cautiously, conduct reconnaissance, and use artillery.[30] Russian Western Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Sergey Zybinsky claimed that Russian forces destroyed five Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance groups in the Kupyansk direction and prevented Ukrainian forces from transferring troops to the Dvorichna (17km northeast of Kupyansk) area.[31] Zybinsky also claimed that Russian forces disrupted three Ukrainian forces’ troop rotations near Synkivka, Berestove (26km southeast of Kupyansk), and Myasozharivka (35km southeast of Kupyansk).[32] Kharkiv Oblast Occupation Administration Head Vitaly Ganchev claimed that Russian forces control 29 settlements in Kharkiv Oblast, claiming that Russian forces seized an additional nine settlements since Ganchev’s last statement on February 15.[33]Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks along the Svatove-Kremmina line on March 25. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations near Dibrova (5km southwest of Kreminna), the Serebrianska forest area (10km south of Kreminna), Bilohorivka (11km south of Kreminna), Spirne (25km south of Kreminna), and Vyimka (26km south of Kreminna).[34] Geolocated footage published on March 24 indicates that Russian forces made a limited advance near Kovalivka (10km southwest of Svatove) and Verkhnokamianske (21km south of Kremmina).[35] A Russian milblogger claimed on March 25 that Russian forces unsuccessfully attacked in the direction of Terny, Nevske, and Makiivka (within 21km northwest of Kreminna) and made marginal advances near Bilohorivka.[36]Russian Subordinate Main Effort #2—Donetsk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)Russian forces continued to conduct ground attacks in and around Bakhmut and gained ground in the city on March 25. Geolocated footage posted on March 25 shows that Russian forces have advanced up the T0513 highway in Bakhmut towards the city center and marginally in southwestern Bakhmut.[37] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful ground attacks in Bakhmut, northwest of Bakhmut near Orikhovo-Vasylivka (11km northwest) and Bohdanivka (5km northwest), and southwest of Bakhmut near Ivanivske (3km southwest), Stupochky (10km southwest), and Predtechyne (12km southwest).[38] Russian milbloggers also claimed that fighting is ongoing north of Bakhmut, in the Bakhmut city center, and southwest of Bakhmut, and that Russian forces gained ground in southwestern Bakhmut.[39] One Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces advanced north of Bakhmut near Orikhovo-Vasylivka and Bohdanivka.[40] Geolocated footage posted on March 24 shows that Ukrainian forces regained some ground along the E40 highway north of Bakhmut during a recent counterattack, however.[41]Russian forces continued to conduct ground attacks along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line on March 25. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful ground attacks near Keramik (10km north of Avdiivka), Stepove (5km northwest of Avdiivka), Avdiivka, Tonenke (6km west of Avdiivka), Sieverne (5km west of Avdiivka), Pervomaiske, (11km southwest of Avdiivka) and Marinka.[42] Russian sources claimed that Russian forces continue attempting to approach Avdiivka from the north near Berdychi, Novobakhmutivka, Novokalynove, and Stepove, and from the south rather than conduct frontal assaults directly against the city.[43] Russian milbloggers claimed that fighting continues in western Marinka (4km west of Donetsk City).[44] Former Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) People’s Militia Spokesperson Eduard Basurin claimed that Ukrainian defenses in both Avdiivka and Bakhmut will collapse once Russian forces cut all GLOCs to the cities, and former Russian officer and convicted war criminal Igor Girkin attacked Basurin for stating the obvious.[45]Russian forces continue to integrate irregular DNR forces into conventional Russian formations in the Avdiivka-Donetsk City area. A group of Russian soldiers of the “Shtorm” formation claimed to be part of the 5th Brigade (1st Army Corps, 8th Guards Combined Arms Army, Southern Military District), indicating that Russia continues to formally integrate DNR and Russian conventional forces and deploy them along the same axes of advance.[46] Other Russian sources, including the Russian Ministry of Defense and DNR, claimed that Russian Southern Military District elements and the 1454th Self Propelled Artillery Regiment, 132nd Motorized Rifle Brigade, and 58th Spetsnaz Battalions (all of the 1st Army Corps) continue to operate in the Avdiivka-Donetsk City direction.[47]Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks in western Donetsk Oblast on March 25. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian ground attacks near Vuhledar and Novomykhailivka (10km southwest of Donetsk City).[48] Russian forces continued to strike frontline areas in western Donetsk Oblast.[49]Supporting Effort—Southern Axis (Russian objective: Maintain frontline positions and secure rear areas against Ukrainian strikes)Russian forces reportedly conducted a mass rotation of forces in Nova Kakhovka on the east (left) bank of the Dnipro River. Head of the Ukrainian Southern Forces Joint Coordination Press Center Nataliya Humenyuk stated on March 25 that Russian forces conducted a mass rotation in Nova Kakhovka, which led Ukrainian military command to conclude that Russian forces had left city and share incorrect information.[50] Humenyuk noted that Russian forces usually arrive as part of a rotation, which Russian forces use to restore combat units that have returned from hot spots. The Ukrainian General Staff previously reported that Russian forces had left Nova Kakhovka on March 22, and quickly corrected itself to say that Russian forces maintain positions in the settlement.[51]International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Head Rafael Grossi will travel to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) next week. The IAEA announced on March 25 that Grossi will travel to the ZNPP to assess the nuclear safety and security at the facility and emphasize the need to protect it.[52] Grossi stated that the situation at the ZNPP has evolved since he last visited in September 2022, and he plans to talk with unspecified personnel operating the ZNPP. The IAEA also stated that Grossi’s visit aims to make sure the IAEA conducts its regular personnel rotation, as its prior rotation was delayed by over a month due to security issues.Russian forces conducted routine shelling in Kherson and Zaporizhia oblasts on March 25.[53] Geolocated footage published on March 24 shows Ukrainian forces striking a Russian fuel depot in Nova Zburivka (24km southwest of Kherson City) and a Russian missile system south of Hola Prystan (21km southwest of Kherson City).[54]Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts (Russian objective: Expand combat power without conducting general mobilization)Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin accused Russian authorities on March 25 of rewriting the history of the war in Ukraine to cut out Wagner. Prigozhin claimed that unspecified Russian authorities forced state-controlled media outlet RT – which has consistently promoted Wagner operations in Ukraine – to cut the first half of a film on the role of Russian convicts in the war because it centered on the Wagner Group. Prigozhin claimed that Russian authorities want to convince the populace that “pomaded generals” in fancy offices really won the war.[55] This allegation, if true, may represent a new Kremlin strategy for limiting Prigozhin’s influence. Such censorship may also indicate that the Kremlin is becoming more sensitive to Prigozhin’s use of select Russian state media platforms to advertise himself and his forces.Prigozhin continued to attack those who question the legitimacy of Wagner convict-soldiers and to fight for increased privileges for convict-soldiers. Prigozhin claimed on March 25 that Wagner’s 5,000 released convict-soldiers have a 0.3 percent recidivism rate within the first month of returning from the front lines in Ukraine.[56] A prominent Russian milblogger claimed that this rate is far lower than the average for Russian criminals.[57] Prigozhin attacked a St. Petersburg local news outlet for calling the former Wagner soldiers “pardoned criminals” and amplifying the number of pardoned criminals released rather than their allegedly low recidivism rates.[58] Prigozhin’s statements also indicate that Wagner forces have likely released at least 5,000 servicemen at the end of their six-month contracts. The UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) had previously assessed that Wagner would begin to experience personnel shortages as more convicts finish their contracts in the upcoming weeks.[59] Prigozhin also claimed that he appealed to Moscow Oblast Governor Andrey Vorobyov to allow him to construct a psychological treatment center for former convict soldiers in one of Moscow’s most upscale neighborhoods.[60]Russian Head of the Foundation for the Defense of National Values — a Wagner Group public relations arm — Maxim Shugaley appealed to Russian Duma Defense Committee Chairman Andrey Kartopolov on March 25 and asked Kartopolov to consider legislation allowing contract and mobilized soldiers to serve in private military groups (PMCs) instead of in the Russian Armed Forces.[61] A prominent Russian milblogger amplified this open letter and implied that the freedom to choose to serve in PMCs would likely reveal shortcomings in the Russian Armed Forces if many soldiers chose to transfer, since soldiers would not seek to transfer out of good divisions.[62] Shugaley claimed that he “constantly” receives requests from contract and mobilized soldiers seeking to transfer to Wagner.[63] The European Union imposed sanctions on Shugaley in February 2023 due to his deep ties to Wagner.[64]Russian leaks channel VChK-OGPU claimed on March 24 that Russian Duma deputy Dmitry Sablin will head a new Russian Combat Army Reserve (BARS) volunteer detachment intended for Russia’s political elite to check the box of participating in the war in Ukraine.[65] Russian politicians will likely keep this unit far from the front lines or any unpleasant task while using their “service” to combat criticism that they are detached from the war.Some Russian soldiers and civilians continue limited resistance to mobilization, criticism of mobilization implementation, and protests against the war in Ukraine.[66]Activity in Russian-occupied Areas (Russian objective: consolidate administrative control of annexed areas; forcibly integrate Ukrainian civilians into Russian sociocultural, economic, military, and governance systems)The Ukrainian Resistance Center reported on March 24 that Moscow elites are competing for funding to “restore” occupied territories and really plan to use the projects to further their own interests.[67] Members of the Russian elite likely plan to divert funding to their own accounts while complying with the Kremlin’s primary interest: creating propaganda about Kremlin infrastructure projects. The Ukrainian Resistance Center noted that the Kremlin may be destroying infrastructure in occupied cities deliberately to blame the destruction on Ukrainians and create an ideal situation for restoration propaganda. The Ukrainian Resistance Center stated that top Kremlin officials have plans to construct “dummy” infrastructure to simulate investment in rebuilding efforts.Ukrainian Melitopol Mayor Ivan Fedorov stated on March 25 that Russian occupation authorities and Ukrainian collaborators held a secret meeting wherein they prepared plans to evacuate from Zaporizhia Oblast.[68] Such preparations are understandable due to pervasive Russian fear of a pending Ukrainian counteroffensive in Zaporizhia Oblast, on which ISW has previously reported.[69] The reported readiness of occupation authorities to evacuate suggests that occupation authorities may have low confidence in the ability of Russian forces to stop a Ukrainian counteroffensive.The United Nations (UN) Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine released a report on March 24 investigating Russian and Ukrainian treatment of prisoners of war (POWs) and the impacts of the war on civilians.[70] The mission found that some soldiers in both Russian and Ukrainian forces conducted extrajudicial executions and mistreated some POWs. Russian human rights violations and violations of the international rules of war were significantly more severe and expansive than Ukrainian violations, however, according to the report. Multiple articles of the Geneva Conventions hold states rather than individuals responsible for war crimes depending on the state’s willingness to identify, investigate, and punish individual violators and take measures to prevent violations.[71] The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission noted that Ukrainian officials provided full access to the mission’s investigators and launched investigations into allegations raised by the UN.[72] Russian authorities refused to cooperate with investigators.[73]Significant activity in Belarus (ISW assesses that a Russian or Belarusian attack into northern Ukraine in early 2023 is extraordinarily unlikely and has thus restructured this section of the update. It will no longer include counter-indicators for such an offensive.)ISW will continue to report daily observed Russian and Belarusian military activity in Belarus, but these are not indicators that Russian and Belarusian forces are preparing for an imminent attack on Ukraine from Belarus. ISW will revise this text and its assessment if it observes any unambiguous indicators that Russia or Belarus is preparing to attack northern Ukraine.The Belarusian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed on March 24 that the active phase of special training of the Belarusian signal forces is ending. The Belarusian MoD claimed that this training will support Belarusian command and control in the 2023 Belarusian-Russian Union Shield exercise scheduled for September 22-26.[74]Note: ISW does not receive any classified material from any source, uses only publicly available information, and draws extensively on Russian, Ukrainian, and Western reporting and social media as well as commercially available satellite imagery and other geospatial data as the basis for these reports. References to all sources used are provided in the endnotes of each update.[1] https://tass dot ru/politika/17369311; https://tass dot ru/politika/17369319; https://tass dot ru/politika/17369337; https://tass dot ru/armiya-i-opk/17369347; https://tass dot ru/politika/17369361; https://tass dot ru/politika/17369369; https://tass dot ru/ekonomika/17369385; https://tass dot ru/politika/17369391; https://tass dot ru/armiya-i-opk/17369419; https://tass dot ru/armiya-i-opk/17369429; https://tass dot ru/armiya-i-opk/17369451; https://tass dot ru/armiya-i-opk/17369429; https://tass dot ru/ekonomika/17369477; https://tass dot ru/politika/17369519; https://tass dot ru/politika/17369527; https://tass dot ru/politika/17369527; https://tass dot ru/politika/17369587[2] https://tass dot ru/politika/17369311; https://tass dot ru/politika/17369319; https://tass dot ru/politika/17369337; https://tass dot ru/armiya-i-opk/17369347; https://tass dot ru/politika/17369361; https://tass dot ru/politika/17369369; https://tass dot ru/ekonomika/17369385; https://tass dot ru/politika/17369391; https://tass dot ru/armiya-i-opk/17369419; https://tass dot ru/armiya-i-opk/17369429; https://tass dot ru/armiya-i-opk/17369451; https://tass dot ru/armiya-i-opk/17369429; https://tass dot ru/ekonomika/17369477; https://tass dot ru/politika/17369519; https://tass dot ru/politika/17369527; https://tass dot ru/politika/17369527; https://tass dot ru/politika/17369587[3] https://www.ft.com/content/aee0e1a1-c464-4af9-a1c8-73fcbc46ed17[4] https://tass dot ru/politika/17369311; https://tass dot ru/politika/17369319; https://tass dot ru/politika/17369337; https://tass dot ru/armiya-i-opk/17369347; https://tass dot ru/politika/17369361; https://tass dot ru/politika/17369369; https://tass dot ru/ekonomika/17369385; https://tass dot ru/politika/17369391; https://tass dot ru/armiya-i-opk/17369419; https://tass dot ru/armiya-i-opk/17369429; https://tass dot ru/armiya-i-opk/17369451; https://tass dot ru/armiya-i-opk/17369429; https://tass dot ru/ekonomika/17369477; https://tass dot ru/politika/17369519; https://tass dot ru/politika/17369527; https://tass dot ru/politika/17369527; https://tass dot ru/politika/17369587[5] Report for Selected Countries and Subjects (imf.org)[6] https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Russian%20Offensive%20Campaign%20Assessment%2C%20March%2023%2C%202023.pdf[7] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-november-29; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-october-8; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-december-17[8] https://t.me/milinfolive/98451; https://twitter.com/oleksiireznikov/status/1639594206166482944?s=20[9] https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Russian%20Offensive%20Campaign%20Assessment%20March%2022%2C%202023.pdf[10] https://tass dot ru/politika/17369311; https://tass dot ru/politika/17369319; https://tass dot ru/politika/17369337; https://tass dot ru/armiya-i-opk/17369347; https://tass dot ru/politika/17369361; https://tass dot ru/politika/17369369; https://tass dot ru/ekonomika/17369385; https://tass dot ru/politika/17369391; https://tass dot ru/armiya-i-opk/17369419; https://tass dot ru/armiya-i-opk/17369429; https://tass dot ru/armiya-i-opk/17369451; https://tass dot ru/armiya-i-opk/17369429; https://tass dot ru/ekonomika/17369477; https://tass dot ru/politika/17369519; https://tass dot ru/politika/17369527; https://tass dot ru/politika/17369527; https://tass dot ru/politika/17369587[11] https://www.iaea.org/topics/spent-fuel-management/depleted-uranium; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-21-2023[12] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-21-2023[13] https://t.me/vysokygovorit/11120[14] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/special-report-assessing-putin%E2%80%99s-implicit-nuclear-threats-after-annexation; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-12-2023[15] https://www.ft.com/content/8f895b27-9e16-47b4-8608-dbd002facd65?fbclid=IwAR3Xn2yb_-PVlRhhVQ7sPYFKX2U3O4wR_a6C7HuI6uH7FnJJxaPJ3QUH_G0; https://www.fmprc.gov dot cn/mfa_eng/zxxx_662805/202302/t20230224_11030713.html[16] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russia-review-december-1-2021-%E2%80%93-january-11-2022https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/ukraine-conflict-update-15[17] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russia-review-december-1-2021-%E2%80%93-january-11-2022; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/ukraine-conflict-update-15[18] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-24-2023; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-23-2023[19] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-december-21; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-annexation-occupied-ukraine-putin%E2%80%99s-unacceptable-%E2%80%9C-ramp%E2%80%9D; https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Russian%20Offensive%20Campaign%20Assessment%2C%20February%2028%2C%202023.pdf; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-october-23; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-november-12; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-21-2023, https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-october-30; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/special-report-assessing-putin%E2%80%99s-implicit-nuclear-threats-after-annexation[20] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-november-6[21] https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1639515935580225537[22] https://suspilne.media/425031-mzs-sprostuvalo-zaavi-oon-sodo-zorstokogo-povodzenna-z-polonenimi-rf-boi-za-bahmut-trivaut-395-den-vijni-onlajn/?anchor=live_1679748462&utm_source=copylink&utm_medium=ps; https://armyinform dot com.ua/2023/03/25/bahmut-zalyshayetsya-epiczentrom-bojovyh-dij-polkovnyk-sergij-cherevatyj/[23] https://suspilne.media/425031-mzs-sprostuvalo-zaavi-oon-sodo-zorstokogo-povodzenna-z-polonenimi-rf-boi-za-bahmut-trivaut-395-den-vijni-onlajn/?anchor=live_1679748462&utm_source=copylink&utm_medium=ps; https://armyinform dot com.ua/2023/03/25/bahmut-zalyshayetsya-epiczentrom-bojovyh-dij-polkovnyk-sergij-cherevatyj/[24] https://suspilne dot media/424989-zaluznij-proviv-rozmovu-z-ocilnikom-zbrojnih-sil-britanii-pro-so-govorili/[25] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-december-28[26] https://www.facebook.com/reel/1312155032681624/?s=single_unit; https://t.me/voenacher/41839; https://t.me/rybar/45035; https://t.me/RtrDonetsk/16062; https://twitter.com/GirkinGirkin/status/1639552215227543552; https://twitter.com/GirkinGirkin/status/1639552215227543552[27] https://twitter.com/Danspiun/status/1639673120939298816?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/PaulJawin/status/1639645881111650304?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/neonhandrail/status/1639674863702122496?s=20[28] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0Fhj5Z12p7CSrUjvnZn5Lq9B9wdUs63KAUxHpPe8WyvwLMM7pLL3vVB5Je8aRmgxMl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0qzYwonWYeX9foRZcAS7esgmkGDBZaVBq3KMYJWwkeMRsYFrf7pYSsTqWBA82Ztptl[29] https://t.me/boris_rozhin/81332[30] https://armyinform dot com.ua/2023/03/25/bahmut-zalyshayetsya-epiczentrom-bojovyh-dij-polkovnyk-sergij-cherevatyj/[31] https://t.me/readovkanews/55434[32] https://t.me/readovkanews/55434[33] https://t.me/readovkanews/52707; https://t.me/readovkanews/55432[34] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0Fhj5Z12p7CSrUjvnZn5Lq9B9wdUs63KAUxHpPe8WyvwLMM7pLL3vVB5Je8aRmgxMl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0qzYwonWYeX9foRZcAS7esgmkGDBZaVBq3KMYJWwkeMRsYFrf7pYSsTqWBA82Ztptl[35] https://twitter.com/DefMon3/status/1639342501059260416; https://twitter.com/666_mancer/status/1639279126312828931; https://twitter.com/666_mancer/status/1639278795390701570?s=20; https://twitter.com/DefMon3/status/1639342502615343118?s=20; https://twitter.com/auditor_ya/status/1639624628514570241; https://twitter.com/SerDer_Daniels/status/1639326901637464066[36] https://t.me/wargonzo/11595[37] https://twitter.com/Militarylandnet/status/1639392848779915267?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/War_cube_/status/1639581933905608705?s=20[38] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0qzYwonWYeX9foRZcAS7esgmkGDBZaVBq3KMYJWwkeMRsYFrf7pYSsTqWBA82Ztptl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0Fhj5Z12p7CSrUjvnZn5Lq9B9wdUs63KAUxHpPe8WyvwLMM7pLL3vVB5Je8aRmgxMl[39] https://t.me/milchronicles/1705; https://t.me/wargonzo/11595; https://t.me/readovkanews/55427; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/81360; https://t.me/basurin_e/340[40] https://t.me/readovkanews/55427[41] https://t.me/aerobomber/72 ; https://twitter.com/Militarylandnet/status/1639354584064745476 ; https://twitter.com/bayraktar_1love/status/1639286432702377986?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/xzerrrl/status/1639341567910486017?s=20[42] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0qzYwonWYeX9foRZcAS7esgmkGDBZaVBq3KMYJWwkeMRsYFrf7pYSsTqWBA82Ztptl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0Fhj5Z12p7CSrUjvnZn5Lq9B9wdUs63KAUxHpPe8WyvwLMM7pLL3vVB5Je8aRmgxMl[43] https://t.me/wargonzo/11595; https://t.me/readovkanews/55427[44] https://t.me/wargonzo/11595; https://t.me/readovkanews/55427[45] https://t.me/basurin_e/341; https://t.me/donbassr/36125; https://t.me/Ags_Donbass/157579; https://t.me/donbassr/36125; https://t.me/donrf22/17956; https://t.me/strelkovii/4340[46] https://twitter.com/GirkinGirkin/status/1639304993369993217; https://twitter.com/GirkinGirkin/status/1639305673304424454?s=20; https://twitter.com/GirkinGirkin/status/1639306689366183936?s=20; https://twitter.com/GirkinGirkin/status/1639307839071035393?s=20[47] https://t.me/mod_russia/25090; https://t.me/mod_russia/25089; https://t.me/nm_dnr/10048; https://t.me/epoddubny/15262; https://t.me/nm_dnr/10050; https://t.me/kommunist/16602; https://t.me/milinfolive/98462; https://t.me/DRO_Wolves/666[48] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0Fhj5Z12p7CSrUjvnZn5Lq9B9wdUs63KAUxHpPe8WyvwLMM7pLL3vVB5Je8aRmgxMl[49] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0Fhj5Z12p7CSrUjvnZn5Lq9B9wdUs63KAUxHpPe8WyvwLMM7pLL3vVB5Je8aRmgxMl; https://t.me/mod_russia/25090; https://t.me/rybar/45026[50] https://suspilne dot media/425343-rosijska-armia-provela-masovanu-rotaciu-gumenuk-pro-situaciu-v-novij-kahovci/[51] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0fjgcEcq3ygTfLezopEAvXBQm51pvpsjCj7BiEqBMWxaGhXyztTSQvpGVXwyLGiHrl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0U5nJd58nTcbXGSvYBTe69DXdzTxSF5iQHQpCH9xu4qho9QuQ2oGUg4Vba3aurhDsl[52] https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/pressreleases/iaea-director-general-grossi-travels-to-zaporizhzhya-nuclear-power-plant-next-week[53] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0qzYwonWYeX9foRZcAS7esgmkGDBZaVBq3KMYJWwkeMRsYFrf7pYSsTqWBA82Ztptl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0Fhj5Z12p7CSrUjvnZn5Lq9B9wdUs63KAUxHpPe8WyvwLMM7pLL3vVB5Je8aRmgxMl[54] https://twitter.com/Danspiun/status/1639625648619520000?s=20; https://twitter.com/blinzka/status/1639276838009667589?s=20; https://twitter.com/blinzka/status/1639257322861264896?s=20; https://twitter.com/SerDer_Daniels/status/1639234548511776770?s=20; https://t.me/ssternenko/14496[55] https://t.me/concordgroup_official/642[56] https://t.me/concordgroup_official/640[57] https://t.me/sashakots/39023[58] https://t.me/concordgroup_official/641[59] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-12-2023[60] https://t.me/concordgroup_official/643[61] https://eur-lex dot europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32023R0430; https://t.me/max_shugaley/693[62] https://t.me/vysokygovorit/11121[63] https://t.me/max_shugaley/693[64] https://eur-lex dot europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32023R0430[65] https://t.me/vchkogpu/37323[66] https://twitter.com/GirkinGirkin/status/1639304993369993217; https://twitter.com/GirkinGirkin/status/1639305673304424454?; https://twitter.com/GirkinGirkin/status/1639306689366183936?s=20; https://twitter.com/GirkinGirkin/status/1639307839071035393?s=20; https://t.me/soldiers_truth/8548; https://twitter.com/666_mancer/status/1639607079626240004; https://t.me/dva_majors/11638; https://twitter.com/666_mancer/status/1639365192634056711; https://t.me/mobilizationnews/10338; https://notes.citeam.org/mobilization-mar-23-24[67] https://sprotyv.mod dot gov.ua/2023/03/24/chorna-byudzhetna-dira-na-tot-dlya-okupantiv/[68] https://t.me/ivan_fedorov_melitopol/1570[69] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-23-2023[70] https://meduza dot io/feature/2023/03/25/v-oon-zayavili-chto-k-ubiystvam-voennoplennyh-prichastny-kak-rossiya-tak-i-ukraina; https://ukraine.un.org/uk/224744-%D1%83%D0%BF%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%B2%D0%BB%D1%96%D0%BD%D0%BD%D1%8F-%D0%BE%D0%BE%D0%BD-%D0%B7-%D0%BF%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%B2-%D0%BB%D1%8E%D0%B4%D0%B8%D0%BD%D0%B8-%D0%B2-%D1%83%D0%BA%D1%80%D0%B0%D1%97%D0%BD%D1%96-%D0%BF%D1%80%D0%B5%D0%B7%D0%B5%D0%BD%D1%82%D1%83%D0%B2%D0%B0%D0%BB%D0%BE-%D0%B4%D0%BE%D0%BF%D0%BE%D0%B2%D1%96%D0%B4%D1%96-%D1%89%D0%BE%D0%B4%D0%BE-%D0%BF%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%BE%D0%B4%D0%B6%D0%B5%D0%BD%D0%BD%D1%8F-%D0%B7[71] https://ihl-databases.icrc.org/pt/customary-ihl/v2/rule157#:~:text=Under%20the%20Geneva%20Conventions%2C%20States,a%20national%20of%20that%20State[72] https://meduza dot io/feature/2023/03/25/v-oon-zayavili-chto-k-ubiystvam-voennoplennyh-prichastny-kak-rossiya-tak-i-ukraina; https://ukraine.un.org/uk/224744-%D1%83%D0%BF%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%B2%D0%BB%D1%96%D0%BD%D0%BD%D1%8F-%D0%BE%D0%BE%D0%BD-%D0%B7-%D0%BF%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%B2-%D0%BB%D1%8E%D0%B4%D0%B8%D0%BD%D0%B8-%D0%B2-%D1%83%D0%BA%D1%80%D0%B0%D1%97%D0%BD%D1%96-%D0%BF%D1%80%D0%B5%D0%B7%D0%B5%D0%BD%D1%82%D1%83%D0%B2%D0%B0%D0%BB%D0%BE-%D0%B4%D0%BE%D0%BF%D0%BE%D0%B2%D1%96%D0%B4%D1%96-%D1%89%D0%BE%D0%B4%D0%BE-%D0%BF%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%BE%D0%B4%D0%B6%D0%B5%D0%BD%D0%BD%D1%8F-%D0%B7[73] https://meduza dot io/feature/2023/03/25/v-oon-zayavili-chto-k-ubiystvam-voennoplennyh-prichastny-kak-rossiya-tak-i-ukraina; https://ukraine.un.org/uk/224744-%D1%83%D0%BF%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%B2%D0%BB%D1%96%D0%BD%D0%BD%D1%8F-%D0%BE%D0%BE%D0%BD-%D0%B7-%D0%BF%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%B2-%D0%BB%D1%8E%D0%B4%D0%B8%D0%BD%D0%B8-%D0%B2-%D1%83%D0%BA%D1%80%D0%B0%D1%97%D0%BD%D1%96-%D0%BF%D1%80%D0%B5%D0%B7%D0%B5%D0%BD%D1%82%D1%83%D0%B2%D0%B0%D0%BB%D0%BE-%D0%B4%D0%BE%D0%BF%D0%BE%D0%B2%D1%96%D0%B4%D1%96-%D1%89%D0%BE%D0%B4%D0%BE-%D0%BF%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%BE%D0%B4%D0%B6%D0%B5%D0%BD%D0%BD%D1%8F-%D0%B7[74] https://t.me/modmilby/24831; https://eng.belta dot by/society/view/russia-to-host-belarusian-russian-army-exercise-union-shield-on-22-26-september-156799-2023/

[Author: ISWKF] [Category: Russia, Ukraine]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 3/25/23 2:42pm
  Annika Ganzeveld, Amin Soltani, Johanna Moore, Brian Carter, and Nicholas CarlMarch 22, 2023, 5:30 pm ETThe Iran Updates are produced by the Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute with support from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). To receive Iran Updates via email, please subscribe here.First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber discussed privatization in ambiguous terms on March 22, likely in response to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s demand for concrete action to improve the Iranian economy. Mokhber stated that the Raisi administration is examining how involved “state and parastatal companies” are in the economy.[1] He added that "the industrial and economic activities of the administration are being relinquished to the private sector.”[2] These remarks are likely a response to Khamenei’ speech on January 30 in which Khamenei described Mokhber as bearing a specific responsibility for the economy as well as to Khamenei’s Nowrouz statement on March 21, which focused primarily on improving Iran’s economy.[3]It is unclear whether Mokhber was calling for actual privatization or merely the transfer of government-owned companies, property, and assets to other parastatal organizations that exist outside the formal government. Iranian presidents and senior officials have historically interpreted the meaning of privatization differently. Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad pursued a policy of “privatization” between 2005 and 2013, for example, that resulted in many parastatal organizations acquiring state assets.[4] Former President Hassan Rouhani attempted to introduce real privatization in the Iranian economy during his tenure between 2013 and 2021. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and other parastatal entities quickly tried to shut down his efforts, however.[5] Mokhber himself was previously the president of Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order—a parastatal organization directly controlled by the supreme leader.[6] Mokhber may thus be discussing privatization in the sense of handing greater control of Iran’s economy to the parastatal establishment. He may alternatively be discussing privatization in the real sense of the term, in which case he will likely face stark opposition from some hardliners and parastatal organizations—just as Rouhani did during his presidency.Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf has called for real privatization and could be a potential political ally to Mokhber. Ghalibaf emphasized the importance of having a “people’s economy” during an IRGC-affiliated conference on February 22, as CTP previously reported.[7] Ghalibaf separately stated that a significant part of Iran’s economy is “khasoulati,” or dominated by government-controlled organizations, during a parliamentary meeting on February 23.[8] If Ghalibaf and Mokhber are indeed calling for real privatization, they are correct in recognizing that parastatal organizations’ disproportionate control of the Iranian economy is a major obstacle to improving Iran‘s economic health and efficiency.[9]Key TakeawaysFirst Vice President Mohammad Mokhber discussed privatization in ambiguous terms on March 22, likely in response to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s demand for concrete action to improve the Iranian economy.UK-based outlet Amwaj Media reported that Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister for Political Affairs and chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani met with British, French, and German officials in Oslo, Norway.Internal Security and Protest ActivityAt least one protest occurred in one city across one province on March 22. CTP assesses with high confidence that one protest occurred in the following location:Shoush, Khuzestan Province[10]Size: SmallDemographic: Retirees Law Enforcement Command (LEC) Spokesperson Brigadier General Saeed Montazer al Mahdi announced that the LEC will deploy its special units across Iran during the Nowrouz celebrations.[11] The LEC Special Units are a highly trained, anti-riot force that the regime uses heavily in its protest crackdowns.[12] The LEC spokesperson justified the deployment of special units, saying they are needed to maintain the public peace during the Nowrouz celebrations. These deployments suggest that the regime is concerned about the possibility of protests erupting during the holiday and may thus be preparing to confront potential unrest. Many Iranians take time off from work and travel across the country to visit family in their homes during Nowrouz. The LEC separately issued a statement warning women to “observe chastity and the hijab” during Ramadan on March 22.[13] The LEC stated that the owners of commercial units should pay special attention to its message, suggesting that the LEC is placing some responsibility for citizens’ compliance with Islamic customs on these individuals.Economic AffairsThe Iranian rial continued selling for around 494,000 to one US dollar on March 22 for the third consecutive day.[14] The rial has depreciated in recent days, rising from around 471,000 rials to the US dollar on March 17.Nuclear ProgramUK-based outlet Amwaj Media reported that Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister for Political Affairs and chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani met with British, French, and German officials in Oslo, Norway on March 22.[15] The article characterized the meeting as “a brainstorming session” intended to demonstrate that “diplomacy is working.” The Iranians might be attempting to placate both the US and European powers to restart the stalled nuclear negotiations.This meeting follows recent Iranian diplomatic activities centered around or adjacent to its nuclear program. Iran agreed on March 4 to reinstall International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) monitoring equipment at its nuclear sites and grant IAEA inspectors access to three previously undeclared nuclear sites.[16] Iranian state media has furthermore suggested that Iran and the IAEA will announce additional agreements in the coming days.[17] Iran has separately pursued diplomatic rapprochements with several Gulf states and held talks with Ukraine over Iranian military support to Russia in recent weeks.[18] Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian gave an interview with CNN on March 1 likely to convince the US to return to the suspended nuclear negotiations, as CTP previously assessed.[19] The Iranians are likely trying to assuage Western concerns about Tehran’s external and nuclear activities.The regime could be particularly concerned about a European “snapback” decision in the United Nations Security Council, reopening Iran’s nuclear file and reimposing nuclear-related UN sanctions. The Europeans have strongly condemned both Iran’s unprecedented violations of its safeguards obligations as well as its military support to Russia.[20] The United Kingdom, France, and Germany (the E3) were prepared to introduce a censure resolution against Iran during the recent IAEA Board of Governors meeting in March, an escalatory step that could refer Iran’s nuclear file to the UN Security Council.[21] The Iranian strategy, since the 2002 revelation of their undeclared facilities and the formation of the E3 diplomatic process in 2003, has been to prevent these three European powers from joining calls for a hardline stance on its nuclear program. All the recent diplomatic activity, but especially the Oslo meeting, could be a revival of that effort.Foreign Policy and DiplomacySenior Iranian officials from the Strategic Foreign Relations Council have concluded their official visit to Syria and traveled to Beirut to meet senior Lebanese officials. Council Chairman Kamal Kharrazi and Secretary Abbas Araghchi met with Lebanese Foreign Affairs Minister Abdollah Bou Habib and Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri on March 22.[22] Kharrazi emphasized support for forming a Lebanese government quickly and without foreign political interference in his meetings. Kharrazi and Araghchi previously met Syrian President Bashar al Assad, Foreign Affairs Minister Faisal Mekdad, and Religious Endowments Minister Mohammad Abdul Sattar in Damascus on March 19-21, as CTP previously reported.[23]Foreign Affairs Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian held a phone call with Emirati Foreign Affairs Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan on March 21.[24] The two discussed organizing a meeting of businessmen from both countries and strengthening relations between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Syria. Bin Zayed invited Amir Abdollahian to visit the UAE. This call follows the normalization of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia on March 10, Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani's visit to the UAE on March 16, and a general increase in Iranian diplomatic engagements across the region following the March 10 Iran-Saudi rapprochement, as CTP previously reported.[25] Organizing a meeting of businessmen from both countries could support Iranian efforts to bypass US sanctions. Iran has used businesses in Emirati commercial centers to circumvent US sanctions over the past decade.[26] Central Bank Governor Mohammad Reza Farzin accompanied Shamkhani to the UAE on March 16 likely as part of the same effort, as CTP previously reported.[27]Foreign Affairs Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian held a telephone call with Kuwaiti Foreign Affairs Minister Salem Abdullah al Jaber al Sabah on March 21.[28] The two ministers discussed the recent rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia and the beginning of Ramadan.Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister for Political Affairs Ali Bagheri Kani met with Armenian Foreign Affairs Minister Ararat Mirzoyan during an official visit to Yerevan, Armenia on March 22.[29] The two discussed establishing a lasting peace in the Caucasus, focusing on Iran and Armenia’s disputes with Azerbaijan. Bagher Kani committed to fostering a “peaceful dialogue” in the region. On the other hand, IRGC-affiliated Fars News Agency reported on March 22 that the Azerbaijani army may be planning to invade Syunik Province, Armenia, which borders Iran to its south.[30] CTP cannot verify these claims, but its timing is noteworthy given Bagheri Kani’s visit to Armenia.External Security and Military AffairsIranian and Iranian-backed militia leadership arrived in Deir ez Zor province between March 19 and March 22 likely to discuss operational security. IRGC Quds Force Commander for Deir ez Zor province Hajj Mehdi and Zainabiyoun Brigade commander reportedly paid local militia members salaries in person at the Shia Crescent Camp, Haidariya area, al Maradeen District, Deir ez Zor province on March 22. Paying the militias directly rather than through intermediaries indicates Iran sought to reinforce the militias loyalty the IRGC Quds Force.[31] An unspecified high-ranking IRGC Quds Force commander and at least five IRGC and Lebanese Hezbollah members also arrived in Deir ez Zor City, Deir ez Zor province from the Iranian embassy in Damascus according to anti-Syrian regime reporting.[32] Their arrival follows events that indicate the militias have struggled to preserve operational security as they expand operations in Syria. An unspecified Iranian-backed militia arrested and replaced at least 46 Syrian militia members suspected of leaking sensitive information on March 14.[33] Leaks from Syrian militia members may have damaged operational security and left Iranian convoys vulnerable to targeted attacks from ISIS or Israeli airstrikes. Anti-Syrian regime media outlet Qasioun reported that militants from Asaib Ahl al Haq (AAH) and Kataib Seyyed ol Shehada (KSS) took control of the al Qaim border crossing from Kataib Hezbollah (KH) after several months of clashes.[34] The clashes reportedly forced the border to close multiple times, blocking Iranian convoys from crossing into Syria.ISIS is also challenging Syrian regime and Iranian efforts in Deir ez Zor to secure ground lines of communication between Aleppo and Albu Kamal. The group is targeting the pro-regime Albu Saraya tribe north of Deir ez Zor city to drive a wedge between the regime and Iran-backed forces and the Albu Saraya.[35] ISIS is likely attempting to take advantage of historically poor relations between the tribe and regime-backed forces by illustrating the regime’s inability or unwillingness to protect the tribe.[36] CTP will explore this assessment of ISIS activity further in this week’s Salafi-Jihadi Movement Weekly Update.  Israeli Air Forces (IAF) reportedly conducted an airstrike on Aleppo International Airport on March 21, targeting an Iranian weapons depot.[37] The airstrike damaged the runway and navigational equipment according to the Syrian Ministry of Transportation.[38] Local intelligence sources claimed the airstrike also targeted an underground Iranian munitions depot at the adjacent Nairab military airport according to a Reuters article.[39] Nairab airport was damaged in an Israeli airstrike that targeted a suspected Iranian drone storage facility on March 6.[40]IRGC Quds Force Commander Brigadier General Esmail Ghaani visited Aleppo on March 17 to inspect earthquake relief shipments according to Iranian-state media outlets, as CTP previously reported.[41] The Iranian regime has reportedly moved weapons shipments into Syria under the guise of humanitarian aid.[42] Russia’s United Nations (UN) Vassily Nebenzia requested the UN Security Council discuss Israeli airstrikes in Syria on March 20.[43] An Israeli official claimed Israel had not anticipated Russia’s call for the discussion and is concerned that Moscow could promote a resolution against Israel. Israel may be anticipating targeted Russian agenda setting as UN Security Council President starting on April 1.[44]  At least one protest occurred in one city across one province on March 20. CTP assesses with high confidence that one protest occurred in the following location:Nasiriyah, Dhi Qar ProvinceSize: SmallProtester Activity: Protesters gathered and chanted against the Coordination Framework-backed election law. At least one protest occurred in one city across one province on March 22. CTP assesses with high confidence that one protest occurred in the following location:Nasiriyah, Dhi Qar ProvinceSize: MediumProtester Activity: burned down the local State of Law Coalition political office; set fires in the street; released statement protesting the State of Law Coalition-backed election law.Independent and minority Iraqi political parties submitted an appeal to Iraq’s Federal Supreme Court to reverse election law amendments passed by parliament on March 19.[45] Iraqi parliament passed five election laws backed by former Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s State of Law Coalition and the Shia Coordination Framework – a loose umbrella group of pro-Iranian political parties. Maliki’s State of Law Coalition backed several amendment laws that are expected to reverse election reforms from 2019 and marginalize independent and minority political parties.[46] State of Law Coalition (SOL) member Thaer Makhaif claimed that the SOL amendments will be voted on and passed April 1 during an interview with the National Iraqi News Agency (NINA).[47] Several members of parliament have called for protests against the State of Law Coalition’s election laws following yesterday’s vote according to an independent Iraqi media outlet Al Araby.[48] [1] https://www dot tasnimnews dot com/fa/news/1402/01/02/2870722/مخبر-فعالیت-های-صنعتی-و-اقتصادی-دولت-به-بخش-خصوصی-واگذار-می-شود[2] https://www dot tasnimnews dot com/fa/news/1402/01/02/2870722/مخبر-فعالیت-های-صنعتی-و-اقتصادی-دولت-به-بخش-خصوصی-واگذار-می-شود[3] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-january-30-2023#_edn19b9bae030854322c953a7e46f6919fcref10http://www dot leader dot ir/fa/content/26378[4] https://iranwire.com/en/features/70039/[5] https://www.iranintl.com/en/202201127681https://iranwire.com/en/features/64684/[6] https://iranwire.com/en/features/70105/[7] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-february-22-2023[8] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-february-23-2023[9] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-february-23-2023[10] https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1638490532547633155?s=20 ;https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1638487139817074688?s=20 ;https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1638473588415033344?cxt=HHwWgMCztYbDg70tAAAA ;https://twitter.com/VOAfarsi/status/1638525216685948933?s=20[11] https://www(dot)farsnews(dot)ir/news/14020102000386/سایه-امنیت-گشتی%E2%80%8Cهای-یگان-ویژه-پلیس-برای-افزایش-آرامش-مردم[12] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/iran-crisis-update-january-31-2023[13] https://www.irna dot ir/news/85063771/%D8%A7%D8%B7%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%B9%DB%8C%D9%87-%D9%81%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%AC%D8%A7-%D8%B6%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%AA-%D8%B1%D8%B9%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%AA-%D9%BE%DB%8C%D8%B4-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D9%BE%DB%8C%D8%B4-%D8%B9%D9%81%D8%A7%D9%81-%D9%88-%D8%AD%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%A8-%D9%88-%D8%AF%D9%88%D8%B1%DB%8C-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D9%86%D8%A7%D9%87%D9%86%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%B1%DB%8C[14] https://bonbast dot com/[15] https://amwaj dot media/article/scoop-iranian-european-diplomats-meet-in-norway-for-brainstorming; https://www.irna dot ir/news/85063615/%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%82%D8%B1%DB%8C-%D9%88-%D8%AF%DB%8C%D9%BE%D9%84%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D9%87%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%88%D9%BE%D8%A7%DB%8C%DB%8C-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%A7%D8%AD%DB%8C%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%81%D9%82-%D9%87%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%87-%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D9%86%D8%B1%D9%88%DA%98[16] https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/pressreleases/joint-statement-by-the-atomic-energy-organization-of-iran-aeoi-and-the-international-atomic-energy-agency-iaea[17] https://twitter.com/nournewsen/status/1637884553845940230?cxt=HHwWjICx8dzU97otAAAA ; https://www.isna dot ir/news/1402010100029/%D9%85%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%B8%D8%B1-%D8%AE%D8%A8%D8%B1-%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%81%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%A8%D9%84-%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%AC%D9%87-%D9%85%DB%8C%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%88-%D8%A2%DA%98%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%B3-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B4%DB%8C%D8%AF[18] https://amwaj dot media/article/inside-story-the-emerging-iran-ukraine-dialogue-in-oman ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-10-2023 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-14-2023#_ednc84cb753ea8852364c044033f0d1e497ref47 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-15-2023 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-16-2023 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-17-2023 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-20-2023#_edn74ae9cda80c074191c8a7bbfca93d647ref38 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-21-2023[19] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-2-2023[20] https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/e3-statement-to-the-iaea-board-of-governors-on-the-joint-comprehensive-plan-of-action-march-2023 ; https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/10/20/eu-agrees-new-sanctions-over-iranian-drones-in-ukraine[21] https://www.axios.com/2023/03/08/israel-iran-us-nuclear-inspections-iaea[22] www.scfr dot ir/fa/400/150249; www.scfr dot ir/fa/400/150271[23] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-21-2023[24] https://www.irna dot ir/news/85063291/%D9%88%D8%B2%DB%8C%D8%B1-%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%AC%D9%87-%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%AA%D8%AD%D9%88%D9%84-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%B7-%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A8%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%88-%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A8%D9%87-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%AF-%D9%85%D9%86%D8%B7%D9%82%D9%87 ; https://mfa dot ir/portal/NewsView/714785[25] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-10-2023 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-14-2023#_ednc84cb753ea8852364c044033f0d1e497ref47 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-15-2023 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-16-2023 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-17-2023 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-20-2023#_edn74ae9cda80c074191c8a7bbfca93d647ref38 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-21-2023[26] https://www.fdd.org/analysis/2020/03/20/uae-continues-to-serve-as-hub-for-iranian-sanctions-evasion/[27] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-16-2023[28] https://mfa dot ir/portal/NewsView/714803[29] https://www.farsnews dot ir/news/14020102000330/باقری-در-ارمنستان-از-تمام-ظرفیت-خود-برای-حل-مسالمت%E2%80%8Cآمیز-مسائل-منطقه[30] https://www.farsnews dot ir/news/14020101000591/گزارش%E2%80%8Cها-از-تحرکات-ارتش-جمهوری-آذربایجان-در-منطقه[31] https://eyeofeuphrates dot com/ar/news/2023/03/22/8033[32] https://www.syriahr dot com/en/292490/ ;https://qasioun-news dot com/ar/articles/261241 ;https://eyeofeuphrates dot com/index.php/ar/news/2023/03/19/8012[33] https://www.syriahr dot com/%d8%a8%d8%b9%d8%af-%d8%b3%d8%a7%d8%b9%d8%a7%d8%aa-%d9%85%d9%86-%d8%aa%d8%ad%d9%82%d9%8a%d9%82%d8%a7%d8%aa-%d8%a7%d9%84%d9%85%d8%b1%d8%b5%d8%af-%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%b3%d9%88%d8%b1%d9%8a-%d8%ad%d9%88%d9%84/593744/ ;https://www.syriahr dot com/%d8%a8%d9%80-%d9%80%d8%aa%d9%80-%d9%80%d9%87%d9%80-%d9%80%d9%85%d9%80-%d9%80%d8%a9-%d8%aa%d9%80-%d9%80%d8%b3%d9%80-%d9%80%d8%b1%d9%8a%d9%80-%d9%80%d8%a8-%d8%a7%d9%84%d9%85%d8%b9%d9%84%d9%88%d9%85/593808/[34] https://www.qasioun-news dot com/ar/articles/261256[35] https://twitter.com/GregoryPWaters/status/1634282575748386818?s=20; https://twitter.com/GregoryPWaters/status/1632421292942008322?s=20; https://twitter.com/GregoryPWaters/status/1637861302381994004?s=20[36] https://www.mei.edu/publications/between-coalition-isis-and-assad-courting-tribes-deir-ez-zor[37] https://twitter.com/MrHimedan/status/1638351380350918657; https://twitter.com/no_itsmyturn/status/1638416460039979008[38] https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=584405817055561&set=a.247656954063784[39] https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/israeli-air-strike-targets-syrias-aleppo-airport-statement-2023-03-22/[40] https://apnews.com/article/syria-israel-strikes-aleppo-airport-139ba8dc57b3023c4d9d31cf935a4507[41] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-20-2023[42] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-february-17-2023?mkt_tok=NDc1LVBCUS05NzEAAAGKAQHy0qa7Zg21LutUBBEjkWIGVD_tynqX1r4-ylGrhkW5eDY98wUrBpeG_10yipbbyHVkGuRiIrMFQBs8I4cdYGOuZrdcM6zrJfSvYpiDHomcBm4J[43] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-20-2023[44] https://www.un.org/securitycouncil/content/presidency[45] https://shafaq dot com/ar/%D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%A9/%D9%88%D8%AB%D8%A7-%D9%82-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%86%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%A8-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%82%D9%84%D9%88%D9%86-%D9%8A%D8%B7%D8%B9%D9%86%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A8%D8%AC%D9%84%D8%B3%D8%A9-%D8%AA%D8%B9%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%84-%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D9%85%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%81%D8%B8%D8%A7%D8%AA ;[46] https://shafaq dot com/ar/%D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%A9/%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%88%D9%8A-%D9%8A%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%B3%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%AF%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%8A-%D9%88%D8%B5%D9%84%D9%86%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%89-%D8%B7%D8%B1%D9%8A%D9%82-%D9%8A%D9%83%D8%A7%D8%AF-%D9%8A%D9%83%D9%88%D9%86-%D9%85%D8%B3%D8%AF%D9%88%D8%AF%D8%A7[47] https://www.ninanews dot com/Website/News/Details?Key=1042011 ;[48] https://www.alaraby dot co.uk/politics/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%82-%D8%AF%D8%B9%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D9%84%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%AD%D8%AA%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%AC-%D8%B6%D8%AF-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%B5%D9%88%D9%8A%D8%AA-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89-%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AA 

[Author: Sydney] [Category: Iran]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 3/25/23 2:00pm
Riley Bailey, George Barros, Grace Mappes, Kateryna Stepanenko, Nicole Wolkov, Layne Philipson, and Frederick W. KaganMarch 22, 8 pm ET Click here to see ISW’s interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report. Click here to access ISW’s archive of interactive time-lapse maps of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These maps complement the static control-of-terrain maps that ISW produces daily by showing a dynamic frontline. ISW will update this time-lapse map archive monthly. Russian forces conducted a limited drone and missile strike campaign in Ukraine overnight on March 21-22, indicating that Russian forces continue struggling with precision missile shortages. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted 21 drone strikes targeting residential and infrastructure areas in Kyiv, Zhytomyr, Zaporizhia, and Odesa oblasts, and Ukrainian forces shot down 16 of the drones.[1] Ukrainian officials stated that Russian forces struck two residential high-rise buildings in Zaporizhzhia City, killing at least one civilian and injuring 33.[2] Russian forces conducted more intensive and wider-ranging strikes during the fall 2022 air and missile campaign, suggesting that Russian forces may now be rationing their use of high-precision munitions for these strike campaigns or may simply lack the necessary munitions to sustain strike campaigns at their earlier pace and intensity. Head of the Ukrainian Joint Coordination Press Center of the Southern Forces Nataliya Humenyuk stated that the Russian missile strike threat remains high but that Russian forces would likely only conduct a limited campaign.[3]Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu announced that the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) intends to increase the size of Russia’s air defense forces at a Russian MoD collegium on March 22. Shoigu stated that one of the Russian Aerospace Forces’ (VKS) development priorities is to generate more air defense units with advanced air defense systems.[4] He noted that in 2023 Russian forces plan to form a new air defense division and brigade, form a special purpose air defense missile brigade, form a new anti-aircraft missile regiment with more advanced S-350 systems, form a military transport aviation regiment, and complete the modernization of Moscow City’s air defense systems.[5] Shoigu also commented on Russian combat experience in Ukraine, stating that Russian pilots conducted over 140,000 combat sorties since February 24, 2022, and that 90 percent of operational-tactical and army aviation, 60 percent of strategic long-range aviation, and 85 percent of UAV operators have combat experience.[6]The Russian military is unlikely to generate such forces within several years, let alone by the end of 2023. Russia’s defense industrial base has historically experienced multi-year delays in developing advanced air defense systems, even before the strict sanctions and exacerbated resource constraints resulting from Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Current Russian air defense brigades and regiments received their S-400 systems up to several years behind schedule.[7] The Russian military had only fielded the S-500 system, which was reportedly supposed to enter production in 2015, in one Russian air defense army by 2021.[8] Russia also delayed its planned delivery of a second S-400 battery to India in 2022 due to constraints caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.[9] Russia may eventually grow its air defense forces as part of a larger effort to recreate a large conventional military in the long term, however. Shoigu’s announcement is similar to his previous announcement at an MoD collegium in December 2022 in which Shoigu stated that Russia seeks to form 17 new maneuver divisions over several years.[10] The formation of new Russian air defense and airlift units will not increase Russian combat power in Ukraine this year. Shoigu’s statement is likely intended to reassure the Russian people that the Russian MoD is continuing to develop the Russian military as a world-class military power to offset perceptions about Russian military failures in Ukraine. Shoigu likely signaled to Japan that it should not attempt to exploit Russia’s current military vulnerability in the Kuril Islands and to China that Russia remains a worthwhile military partner. Shoigu extolled the strength of Russia’s Eastern Military District (EMD) at length and announced that the EMD deployed a battery of Bastion coastal defense missile systems on Paramushir Island—an island in the northern portion of the Russian-occupied Japanese Kuril Islands. Shoigu’s statement was likely a warning signal to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who visited Kyiv and Bucha on March 21, about becoming too engaged in supporting Ukraine.[11] The Russian Eastern Military District is severely degraded. Significant Russian EMD elements deployed to Belarus and were badly damaged during the Battle of Kyiv in early 2022. Russian EMD elements of the 155th and 40th Naval Infantry Brigades recently fought and suffered heavy losses near Vuhledar in Donetsk Oblast in early 2023.[12] The 155th has been destroyed and reconstituted as many as eight times in the past year.[13] Shoigu’s statement was also likely a signal to Chinese President Xi Jinping that Russia supports Chinese security objectives in East Asia and remains a viable military partner despite the terrible damage Ukraine has inflicted on the Russian military. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu walked away and refused to answer a question about how soon to expect peace in Ukraine. A journalist from the Russian Ministry of Defense-run media outlet TV Zvezda first asked Shoigu how the war will end, to which Shoigu responded, “any war ends in peace.”[14] The journalist then asked Shoigu how soon to expect peace in Ukraine. Shoigu did not answer the question and walked away. TV Zvezda originally aired the footage of Shoigu walking away but cut it in a later release. ISW previously reported that the Kremlin aims to set information conditions and prepare the Russian information space for a protracted war.[15] The tempo of Russian operations around Bakhmut appears to be slowing amid Western reporting that Russian forces may be attempting to launch offensives in other directions. Russian forces made additional marginal advances in southern Bakhmut, and Ukrainian forces conducted counterattacks on the southwestern and northwestern outskirts of the city on March 21 and 22.[16] The Ukrainian General Staff reported on March 22 that Russian forces’ offensive potential in the Bakhmut area is declining, and Ukrainian officials have previously reported fewer combat clashes in the city itself in recent days.[17] US National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby stated on March 21 that Russian and Ukrainian forces are continuing to prioritize operations around Bakhmut and that Russian forces might try to conduct another offensive, possibly in many different directions.[18] The United Kingdom Ministry of Defense (UK MoD) assessed that Russian forces may be losing momentum in the Bakhmut area because the Russian MoD is relocating units to other directions.[19] Russian forces are currently increasing the tempo of their offensive operations around Avdiivka aiming to encircle the settlement, and it is possible that Russian forces are doing so at the expense of their operations around Bakhmut and the stalled offensive around Vuhledar.Russian personnel of the 136th Separate Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade (58th Combined Arms Army, Southern Military District) previously stated that they were deploying to the Vuhledar area to conduct assaults, but a Russian milblogger claimed on March 21 that elements of the 136th Motorized Rifle Brigade are operating in the Avdiivka direction.[20] This apparent deployment change—if it is not a result of Russian misreporting—possibly indicates that Russian forces prioritized the intensification of operations around Avdiivka over restarting the offensive on Vuhledar. Ukrainian Tavriisk Defense Forces Spokesperson Colonel Oleksiy Dmytrashkivyskyi stated on March 19 that Russian forces started increasing assaults in the Avdiivka area to set conditions for restarting offensive operations on Vuhledar, further suggesting that current Russian offensive operations around Avdiivka are preventing the potential resumption of offensive activities near Vuhledar.[21] Russian forces appear to be drawing more combat power to the Avdiivka area which may allow them to increase their rate of advance, although there were no confirmed Russian advances in the area on March 22. ISW continues to assess that Russian advances may prompt Ukrainian forces to withdraw from Bakhmut and/or Avdiivka although neither appears likely at this time. Russian forces may choose to launch or intensify offensive operations in new directions, but these operations would likely produce few tangible results as the overall Russian spring offensive continues to near culmination. ISW has still not observed evidence of the commitment of the Russian 2nd Motorized Rifle Division of the 1st Guards Tank Army (Western Military District) despite reports that it had reconstituted in Belarus and deployed to Luhansk. The Russians may commit this unit to one or more offensives already underway or to a new offensive undertaking. The commitment of this division’s two or three motorized rifle regiments is unlikely to achieve operationally decisive effects, however, given the failure of larger formations to do so.Russian forces may be deploying T-54/55 tanks from long-term storage to Ukraine to compensate for significant armored vehicle losses. The Georgia-based open-source Conflict Intelligence Team research group reported on March 22 that Russian forces transported a train loaded with T-54/55 tanks from Primorsky Krai towards western Russia, and social media sources speculated that Russian forces may deploy them to Ukraine.[22] Dutch open-source group Oryx assessed as of March 22 that Russian forces have lost at least 57 T-90, 448 T-80, 1,025 T-72, 53 T-64, and 73 T-62 tanks in highly attritional fighting in Ukraine.[23] Russian armored vehicle losses are currently constraining the Russian military’s ability to conduct effective mechanized maneuver warfare in stalling offensives in Ukraine, and Russian forces may be deploying T-54/55 tanks from storage to Ukraine to augment these offensive operations and prepare for anticipated mechanized Ukrainian counteroffensives. The Soviet Union produced tens of thousands of T-54/55 tanks after the Second World War, and the Russian military may be turning to extensive Soviet reserves of these tanks to solve its significant armored vehicle shortages. The Russian military may also be deciding to field the tanks because parts to repair the T-54/55 tanks are abundantly available and substantially cheaper. T-54/55 tanks lack the armor capabilities of more modern armored equipment, however, and originally carried a smaller main gun, although the Russian military may have modernized some vehicles. The Russian military will likely experience greater numbers of casualties by fielding these older tank systems in Ukraine. The deployment of inferior equipment to replenish the Russian military's ability to conduct mechanized maneuver warfare may prompt a further degradation of Russian manpower in Ukraine. Russian forces are unlikely to achieve preferable resource attrition rates on the grounds that T-54/55 are cheaper than anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) ammunition, as some have argued—each tank loss is the loss of a tank crew as well as the tank, after all, and it is not clear how effective these tanks will be against Ukrainian armored vehicles, whereas they are highly vulnerable to many anti-tank systems available to Ukraine, not all of which are expensive.  Russian authorities are cracking down against bars in urban areas, possibly to crack down against internal dissent among Russian social circles. St. Petersburg outlet Fontanka claimed on March 22 that St. Petersburg authorities shut down two dozen bars as part of a broader investigation into claims of involving minors in “anti-social acts,” including systematic drinking, drug use, and vagrancy.[24] This excuse is implausible given normal Russian attitudes toward “systematic drinking.” Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) personnel conducted recent raids against two popular bars and forced patrons to conduct pro-war activities, after which at least one Russian businessman stepped away from his role in managing the bars, as ISW has previously reported.[25] These raids may target rich Russian businessmen like Wagner financier Yevgeny Prigozhin, who failed to deny current ownership of a St. Petersburg bar in his response to a Russian journalist who alleged that Prigozhin owned the bar in June 2022.[26] These measures may also encourage self-censorship within these circles and among bar attendees by publicly displaying the consequences of speaking out of turn.Key TakeawaysRussian forces conducted a limited drone and missile strike campaign in Ukraine overnight on March 21-22, indicating that Russian forces continue struggling with precision missile shortages.Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu announced that the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) intends to increase the size of Russia’s air defense forces at a Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) collegium on March 22.Shoigu likely signaled to Japan that it should not become more engaged in supporting Ukraine by announcing the deployment of an anti-shipping missile system on one of the Kuril Islands.Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu walked away and refused to answer a question about how soon to expect peace in Ukraine.The tempo of Russian operations around Bakhmut appears to be slowing amid Western reporting that Russian forces may be attempting to launch offensives in other directions.Russian forces may be deploying T-54/55 tanks from storage to Ukraine to compensate for significant armored vehicle losses.Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks along the Svatove-Kreminna line.Russian forces made marginal territorial gains within Bakhmut and continued offensive operations in and around Bakhmut and on the outskirts of Donetsk City.Ukrainian officials stated that Ukrainian forces continue to clear an area on the east (left) bank of the Dnipro River.The Kremlin continued hybrid reserve callup and crypto mobilization campaigns to recruit Russians for contract service.Russian officials and occupation authorities continued to advocate for legislative changes in an effort to further legitimize the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia. We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because those activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We will continue to evaluate and report on the effects of these criminal activities on the Ukrainian military and population and specifically on combat in Ukrainian urban areas. We utterly condemn these Russian violations of the laws of armed conflict, Geneva Conventions, and humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports. Russian Main Effort—Eastern Ukraine (comprised of two subordinate main efforts)Russian Subordinate Main Effort #1—Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and encircle northern Donetsk OblastRussian Subordinate Main Effort #2—Capture the entirety of Donetsk OblastRussian Supporting Effort—Southern AxisRussian Mobilization and Force Generation EffortsActivities in Russian-occupied Areas Russian Main Effort—Eastern Ukraine Russian Subordinate Main Effort #1— Luhansk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and continue offensive operations into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and northern Donetsk Oblast) Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks along the Svatove-Kreminna line on March 22. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful ground attacks near Makiivka (21km northwest of Kreminna), Kreminna, Dibrova (5km southwest of Kreminna), Bilohorivka (11km south of Kreminna), and Vesele (14km southeast of Siversk).[27] A Russian milblogger claimed on March 21 that Russian forces conducted ground attacks near Yampolivka, Terny, and Nevske (all 17-19km northwest of Kreminna), and made unspecified advances towards Bilohorivka.[28] Another milblogger claimed on March 22 that Russian forces attacked towards Novoselivske (14km northwest of Svatove) and Makiivka.[29] Other Russian sources claimed that positional battles continued and that there are no changes in the Starobilsk area of the front line, likely referring to the northern section of the Kupyansk-Svatove line.[30]  Russian Subordinate Main Effort #2—Donetsk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas) Russian forces continued to conduct offensive operations in Bakhmut and its environs on March 22. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian assaults in southern and northern Bakhmut; within 14km northwest of Bakhmut in Bohdanivka, Hryvorivka, and Orikhovo-Vasylivka; and within 21km southwest of Bakhmut in Predtechyne, Ivanivske, Klishchiivka, and Mayorsk.[31] Ukrainian Ground Forces Commander Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi stated that Russian forces continue attempting to advance to the Bakhmut city center from the outskirts.[32] Russian sources claimed that Russian forces cleared most of the industrial territory in Bakhmut—likely referring to the AZOM industrial complex in northern Bakhmut.[33] A Russian source also claimed that the Wagner Group continued to advance near Orikhovo-Vasylivka, Bohdanivka, and southern Bakhmut in the areas of the Mariupol cemetery and Korsunskoho Street.[34] Geolocated footage published on March 21 showed that Wagner forces made marginal advances in southern Bakhmut.[35] A Kremlin-affiliated milblogger claimed that Wagner mercenaries resumed offensive operations in the direction of Predtechyne in a claimed attempt to advance to Kostyantynivka (about 21km west of Bakhmut) and continued to attack Ivanivske.[36] A Russian source also claimed that the elements of the 132nd Motorized Rifle Brigade (formerly the Donetsk People’s Republic’s [DNR] 3rd Separate Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade of the 1st Army Corps) are operating near Mayorsk.[37] Ukrainian forces are conducting tactical counterattacks on Bakhmut’s northwestern and southwestern outskirts. The UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) stated that Ukrainian forces initiated a counterattack west of Bakhmut to relieve pressure on the T0504 (H-32) highway to Bakhmut.[38] Geolocated footage published on March 21 showed Ukrainian counterattacks south of Ivanivske and southeast of Bohdanivka.[39] A Russian source also claimed that Ukrainian forces attempted to counterattack near the T0504 highway.[40] Russian forces are intensifying offensive operations around Avdiivka. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian attacks north of Avdiivka in Novokalynove, Novobakhmutivka, Krasnohorivka, Stepove, Lastochkyne, and Berdychi; west of Sieverne, Vodyane, Pervomaiske; and Avdiivka.[41] A spokesperson for the Russian Southern Group of Forces stated that elements of the 1st Army Corps are operating in the Avdiivka direction.[42] Russian sources claimed that Russian forces are attacking Avdiivka from two directions: from the Orlivka direction in the north (about 12km northwest of Avdiivka) to cut Ukrainian supply lines and from the south via Opytne (about 3km southeast of Avdiivka).[43] Russian sources also claimed that Russian forces attacked in the direction of Berdychi and are fighting on the eastern outskirts of Stepove.[44] Geolocated combat footage shows the DNR’s and Luhansk People’s Republic’s (LNR) ”Pyatnashka” volunteer battalion targeting Ukrainian positions southeast of Avdiivka.[45] Geolocated footage published on March 21 indicates that Russian forces made marginal advances north of Vodyane.[46] Russian forces are launching assault operations west of Donetsk City but have not resumed offensives near Vuhledar as of this publication. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces unsuccessfully attacked Marinka and Pobieda, 22km and 25km southwest of Donetsk City, respectively.[47] Russian milbloggers amplified footage on March 21 claiming to show the DNR “Kaskad” unit fighting in the Vuhledar area and claimed that Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs employees comprise a significant portion of the unit.[48] Supporting Effort—Southern Axis (Russian objective: Maintain frontline positions and secure rear areas against Ukrainian strikes) Russian sources claimed that Russian forces struck Shkilnyy Airfield in Odesa City on the night of March 21. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed on March 22 that Russian forces struck two hangars with Ukrainian weapons and military equipment at the Shkilnyy Airfield on the outskirts of Odesa City.[49] A Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces launched the attack on occupied Dzhankoy in Crimea on March 20 from the Shkilnyy Airfield.[50] Russian forces reportedly intercepted Ukrainian drones near occupied Sevastopol, Crimea. Geolocated footage filmed on March 22 shows likely Russian direct fire against an unidentified object—likely a maritime drone—in the water near Sevastopol Bay followed by an explosion in the water.[51] Other footage posted on March 22 purportedly shows aerial drones also attacking Sevastopol.[52] Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu claimed on March 22 that two sailors destroyed three Ukrainian drones aimed at Russian military facilities in occupied Sevastopol.[53] Odesa Oblast Military Administration Spokesperson Serhiy Bratchuk reported anti-aircraft defense and anti-maritime drone activity over Sevastopol and that Russian authorities halted all maritime traffic near Sevastopol.[54] A Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian maritime drones attempted to strike coastal bays in Sevastopol and that Russian forces repelled a Ukrainian surface drone north of Sevastopol.[55] Zaporizhia Occupation Administration Council Member Vladimir Rogov claimed that Russian forces also repelled Ukrainian aerial drones with air defenses and small arms.[56] Ukrainian forces continue clearing operations on the east (left) bank of the Dnipro River. Ukrainian Southern Operational Command Spokesperson Natalia Humenyuk stated on March 21 that Ukrainian forces continue to clear a 20 to 30km strip in an unspecified location on the east (left) bank of the Dnipro River to protect the population on the west (right) bank from constant Russian shelling.[57] Humenyuk stated that Ukrainian forces destroyed a Russian ammunition depot on the Kinburn Spit, preventing Russian forces from shelling from the area for an unspecified period of time.[58] Russian forces conducted routine shelling in Kherson, Zaporizhia, and Dnipropetrovsk oblasts on March 22.[59] Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts (Russian objective: Expand combat power without conducting general mobilization)The Kremlin continues hybrid reserve callup and crypto mobilization campaigns to recruit Russians for contract service. Russian sources reported on March 21 that Russian residents in Tyumen and Sverdlovsk oblasts, Karelia and Altai republics, and Krasnodar Krai received military summonses directing them to verify information with military recruitment offices or undergo military training as part of mandatory reserve call-ups.[60] Russian recruitment offices are likely attempting to use mandatory month-long trainings for reservists to pressure them into signing contracts while also shortening the required amount of training that new Russian contract servicemen would need to undergo before deploying to Ukraine after a future involuntary call-up. Russian officials in Yaroslavl, Chelyabinsk, and Moscow oblasts have reportedly started widespread advertisement campaigns for contract service focused on additional promised payments for signing a contract and participating in active offensive actions.[61] The Kremlin is likely conducting this hybrid force generation campaign to avoid declaring a formal second mobilization wave. Ukrainian sources reported that Russian occupation officials continue mobilization measures in occupied territories. Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar reported on March 22 that Russian occupation officials announced large-scale military training exercises for the spring or summer of 2023 to support plans to conscript the entire male population of draft age in Starobilsk, Shchastia, Novoaidar, Nizhneteple, and Novopskov in Luhansk Oblast.[62] Malyar claimed that Russian occupation officials are trying to incentivize potential conscripts by promising them housing taken from Ukrainian citizens forced to leave occupied territories.[63] The Ukrainian Resistance Center reported that Russian occupation officials are preparing for a new wave of mobilization in occupied Donetsk Oblast and that 23 occupation military recruitment offices plan to register young men born in 2006 to create a reserve of residents for future mobilization waves.[64]Kherson Oblast occupation administration Head Vladimir Saldo announced on March 22 that his administration is forming a volunteer battalion. Saldo claimed that his administration formed the Vasily Margelov Volunteer Battalion to defend against Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance activities on the east (left) bank and to maintain order in occupied Kherson Oblast.[65] Saldo claimed that the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) agreed to fully support the volunteer battalion with arms and equipment and that the formation is currently undergoing combat training.[66] Saldo’s decision to form a volunteer battalion is likely aimed at increasing his control over occupied Kherson Oblast and is likely modeled on volunteer battalions that other occupation heads have formed for similar reasons.[67] The delineated public order task of the battalion suggests that the Kherson Oblast occupation administration may use the formation as a designated internal security force for further crackdowns.Activity in Russian-occupied Areas (Russian objective: consolidate administrative control of and annexed areas; forcibly integrate Ukrainian civilians into Russian sociocultural, economic, military, and governance systems)Russian officials and occupation authorities continue to advocate for legislative changes in an effort to further legitimize the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia. Russian Commissioner on Children’s Rights Maria Lvova-Belova claimed on March 22 that Russian President Vladimir Putin supported a proposal to assign special statuses to children wounded during the “special military operation.”[68] Lvova-Belova expressed hopes that there will be an official decree to establish mechanisms to identify these children and provide them with support and benefits.[69] Advisor to the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) head Rodion Miroshnik stated on March 22 that he agrees with Lvova-Belova's proposal but called for a proposal that extends the special status of children of war to all children in Donbas.[70] Russian occupation officials continue to focus on infrastructure projects that aim to cement Russian control over occupied territories. Zaporizhia Oblast occupation deputy Vladimir Rogov claimed on March 21 that the Russian Ministry of Construction developed a bill on the creation of a free economic zone in occupied territories that will focus on business and investment activity.[71] Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) head Leonid Pasechnik claimed on March 22 that 20 industrial enterprises in occupied Luhansk Oblast are interested in applying to a newly established regional industrial development fund.[72] The Kherson occupation administration claimed on March 22 that occupation officials will offer farmers in occupied Kherson Oblast preferential credit rates for purchasing agricultural equipment.[73] Significant activity in Belarus (ISW assesses that a Russian or Belarusian attack into northern Ukraine in early 2023 is extraordinarily unlikely and has thus restructured this section of the update. It will no longer include counter-indicators for such an offensive. Belarusian maneuver elements continue conducting exercises in Belarus. Unspecified elements of the Minsk-based Belarusian 120th Mechanized Brigade participated in a company tactical exercise at the Belarusian 227th Combined Arms Training Ground in Borisov, Belarus, on March 22.[74] ISW will continue to report daily observed Russian and Belarusian military activity in Belarus, but these are not indicators that Russian and Belarusian forces are preparing for an imminent attack on Ukraine from Belarus. ISW will revise this text and its assessment if it observes any unambiguous indicators that Russia or Belarus is preparing to attack northern Ukraine. Note: ISW does not receive any classified material from any source, uses only publicly available information, and draws extensively on Russian, Ukrainian, and Western reporting and social media as well as commercially available satellite imagery and other geospatial data as the basis for these reports. References to all sources used are provided in the endnotes of each update.  [1]https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0teY5FqmU8LGqkZLBCsz7LkMfYgFE7sBjQ8t3ymULBQrcnKe6d98L2xTEwqtpowm9l[2] https://twitter.com/KyivIndependent/status/1638555667723059200; https://armyinform.com dot ua/2023/03/22/za-poperednimy-danymy-vorog-vdaryv-po-zaporizhzhyu-z-reaktyvnoyi-artyleriyi-yurij-ignat/; https://armyinform dot com.ua/2023/03/22/vnaslidok-vluchannya-vorozhoyi-rakety-u-zaporizhzhi-postrazhdalo-32-osoby-dsns/; https://t.me/zoda_gov_ua/17689; https://t.me/zoda_gov_ua/17688[3] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2023/03/22/korabelne-ugrupovannya-voroga-v-mori-zroslo-vdvichi-natalya-gumenyuk/[4] https://telegra dot ph/Vstupitelnoe-slovo-Ministra-oborony-Rossijskoj-Federacii-generala-armii-Sergeya-SHojgu-na-zasedanii-Kollegii-Minoborony-Rossii-03-22; https://t.me/mod_russia/25012[5] https://telegra dot ph/Vstupitelnoe-slovo-Ministra-oborony-Rossijskoj-Federacii-generala-armii-Sergeya-SHojgu-na-zasedanii-Kollegii-Minoborony-Rossii-03-22; https://t.me/mod_russia/25012[6] https://telegra dot ph/Vstupitelnoe-slovo-Ministra-oborony-Rossijskoj-Federacii-generala-armii-Sergeya-SHojgu-na-zasedanii-Kollegii-Minoborony-Rossii-03-22; https://t.me/mod_russia/25012[7] https://web.archive.org/web/20141016221759/http://defense-update.com/features/2010/february/triumf_fielded_19022010.html; https://eurasiantimes dot com/cleared-putin-bets-big-on-s-500-but-whats-so-special-about-this-russian-weapon-system/; https://www.upi dot com/Defense-News/2007/08/16/BMD-Focus-S-400-delays-Part-1/39721187298453/[8] https://lenta dot ru/articles/2012/04/10/future/; https://tass dot com/defense/1338617[9] https://economictimes.indiatimes dot com/news/defence/delivery-of-second-s-400-squadron-could-see-a-slight-delay-due-to-russia-ukraine-war/articleshow/90873442.cms?from=mdr[10] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-december-21[11] https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/japans-kishida-visit-ukraine-meet-zelenskiy-nhk-2023-03-21/; https://www.wsj.com/articles/japanese-premier-visits-kyiv-as-ukraine-war-divides-asia-b64372f;[12] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-10-2023[13] https://sprotyv.mod.gov dot ua/2023/02/27/rosiyany-trymayut-trupy-svoyih-soldativ-na-skladah-aby-ne-vyplachuvaty-groshi-ridnym-spovid-okupanta/ ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VyogLhqX9E&ab_channel=Центрнаціональногоспротиву[14] https://t.me/faridaily24/825; https://t.me/zvezdanews/113023[15] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-january-20-2023; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-december-22; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-16-2023; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-14-2023[16] https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1638427089266266113?s=20; https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1638427202210414592?s=20; https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1638427274935513093?s=20; https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1638427325728432129?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/GeoConfirmed/status/1638280477172813835; https://twitter.com/PStyle0ne1/status/1638163998297190401; https://twitter.com/PaulJawin/status/1638441571740790786 ; https://twitter.com/GeoConfirmed/status/1638288588717563905; https://twitter.com/SerDer_Daniels/status/1638225636656291878; https://twitter.com/blinzka/status/1638233640571117579[17]https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0teY5FqmU8LGqkZLBCsz7LkMfYgFE7sBjQ8t3ymULBQrcnKe6d98L2xTEwqtpowm9l ; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-21-2023[18] https://edition.cnn.com/europe/live-news/russia-ukraine-war-news-03-21-23[19] https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1638427089266266113?s=20; https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1638427202210414592?s=20; https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1638427274935513093?s=20; https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1638427325728432129?s=20[20] https://t.me/vladlentatarsky/20127 ; https://isw.pub/UkrWar030923[21] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-update-march-19-2023[22] https://twitter.com/Militarylandnet/status/1638491146316836866 ; https://t.me/CITeam/3216 ; https://twitter.com/bayraktar_1love/status/1638473462975954945?s=20; https://notes.citeam.org/t-54 ; https://twitter.com/bayraktar_1love/status/1638483133002596352?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/CITeam_en/status/1638465550031388675?s=20[23] https://www.oryxspioenkop.com/2022/02/attack-on-europe-documenting-equipment.html[24] https://www.fontanka dot ru/2023/03/22/72153890/[25] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-18-2023[26] https://t.me/Prigozhin_hat/1492[27]https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0teY5FqmU8LGqkZLBCsz7LkMfYgFE7sBjQ8t3ymULBQrcnKe6d98L2xTEwqtpowm9l; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02D8m6CQ7f2H9We4YZbNyQoBSifELJRde5iPcYnjQe2yGirn4QLcfzuBazQZ9Wawhdl[28] https://t.me/readovkanews/55245[29] https://t.me/wargonzo/11531[30] https://t.me/rybar/44913; https://t.me/basurin_e/283[31]https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0teY5FqmU8LGqkZLBCsz7LkMfYgFE7sBjQ8t3ymULBQrcnKe6d98L2xTEwqtpowm9l[32] https://t.me/osirskiy/13  [33] https://t.me/rybar/44939[34] https://t.me/readovkanews/55245[35] https://twitter.com/GeoConfirmed/status/1638288588717563905; https://twitter.com/SerDer_Daniels/status/1638225636656291878; https://twitter.com/blinzka/status/1638233640571117579[36] https://t.me/wargonzo/11531[37] https://t.me/z_arhiv/19824[38] https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1638427089266266113?s=20; https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1638427202210414592?s=20; https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1638427274935513093?s=20; https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1638427325728432129?s=20[39] https://twitter.com/GeoConfirmed/status/1638280477172813835; https://twitter.com/PStyle0ne1/status/1638163998297190401; https://twitter.com/PaulJawin/status/1638441571740790786[40] https://t.me/basurin_e/283[41]https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0teY5FqmU8LGqkZLBCsz7LkMfYgFE7sBjQ8t3ymULBQrcnKe6d98L2xTEwqtpowm9l; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02D8m6CQ7f2H9We4YZbNyQoBSifELJRde5iPcYnjQe2yGirn4QLcfzuBazQZ9Wawhdl[42] https://t.me/mod_russia/25007[43] https://t.me/readovkanews/55245[44] https://t.me/rybar/44913; https://t.me/wargonzo/11531[45] https://twitter.com/EjShahid/status/1638250997200875552?s=20; https://t.me/ttambyl/2313[46] https://twitter.com/SerDer_Daniels/status/1638340794393165824?s=20; https://twitter.com/klinger66/status/1638355474914455554?s=20; https://twitter.com/klinger66/status/1638365758425124870?s=20[47]https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0teY5FqmU8LGqkZLBCsz7LkMfYgFE7sBjQ8t3ymULBQrcnKe6d98L2xTEwqtpowm9l; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02D8m6CQ7f2H9We4YZbNyQoBSifELJRde5iPcYnjQe2yGirn4QLcfzuBazQZ9Wawhdl[48] https://t.me/RtrDonetsk/15950; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/81040[49] https://t.me/mod_russia/25018[50] https://t.me/rybar/44912; https://t.me/rybar/44915[51] https://twitter.com/GeoConfirmed/status/1638612313744785408; https://twitter.com/GeoConfirmed/status/1638612313744785408[52] https://twitter.com/bayraktar_1love/status/1638454767738339331?s=20[53] https://t.me/mod_russia/25012; https://t.me/mod_russia/25017 ; https://telegra dot ph/Vstupitelnoe-slovo-Ministra-oborony-Rossijskoj-Federacii-generala-armii-Sergeya-SHojgu-na-zasedanii-Kollegii-Minoborony-Rossii-03-22[54] https://t.me/Bratchuk_Sergey/33505[55] https://t.me/rybar/44916 [56] https://t.me/vrogov/8289[57] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2023/03/22/korabelne-ugrupovannya-voroga-v-mori-zroslo-vdvichi-natalya-gumenyuk/; https://suspilne dot media/421377-sili-oboroni-znisili-spostereznij-punkt-ta-vijskovu-tehniku-na-livoberezzi-hersonsini/[58] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2023/03/22/korabelne-ugrupovannya-voroga-v-mori-zroslo-vdvichi-natalya-gumenyuk/; https://suspilne dot media/421377-sili-oboroni-znisili-spostereznij-punkt-ta-vijskovu-tehniku-na-livoberezzi-hersonsini/[59]https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0teY5FqmU8LGqkZLBCsz7LkMfYgFE7sBjQ8t3ymULBQrcnKe6d98L2xTEwqtpowm9l; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02D8m6CQ7f2H9We4YZbNyQoBSifELJRde5iPcYnjQe2yGirn4QLcfzuBazQZ9Wawhdl; https://armyinform.com dot ua/2023/03/22/korabelne-ugrupovannya-voroga-v-mori-zroslo-vdvichi-natalya-gumenyuk/ ; https://suspilne dot media/421377-sili-oboroni-znisili-spostereznij-punkt-ta-vijskovu-tehniku-na-livoberezzi-hersonsini/; https://t.me/wargonzo/11531; https://t.me/rybar/44921; https://t.me/rybar/44921; https://t.me/hueviyherson/36838; https://t.me/zoda_gov_ua/17674; https://t.me/rybar/44921; https://t.me/rybar/44913; https://twitter.com/Militarylandnet/status/1638499813233684482?s=20; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/81083; https://t.me/m0sc0wcalling/21666; https://t.me/m0sc0wcalling/21658; https://t.me/dnipropetrovskaODA/3703; https://t.me/Yevtushenko_E/2969[60] https://t.me/sibrealii/16659 ; https://t.me/mobilizationnews/10233 ; https://t.me/mobilizationnews/10240 ; https://t.me/e1_news/93380 ; https://93 dot ru/text/politics/2023/03/21/72150212/?utm_source=telegram&utm_medium=messenger&utm_campaign=93[61] https://meduza dot io/news/2023/03/22/50-tysyach-rubley-za-kazhdyy-kilometr-prodvizheniya-v-shturmovyh-otryadah-v-rossiyskih-regionah-usilili-agitatsiyu-na-sluzhbu-po-kontraktu ; https://t.me/bazabazon/16464; https://t.me/news_74ru/49489; https://t.me/astrapress/23365[62] https://t.me/annamaliar/593[63] https://t.me/annamaliar/593 [64] https://sprotyv.mod.gov dot ua/2023/03/22/okupanty-pidgotuvaly-23-vijskkomaty-dlya-mobilizacziyi-na-okupovanyh-rajonah-donechchyny/[65] https://t.me/SALDO_VGA/577[66] https://t.me/SALDO_VGA/577[67] https://isw.pub/UkrWar030923[68] https://www.gazeta dot ru/social/news/2023/03/22/20028139.shtml; https://t.me/miroshnik_r/10839[69] https://www.gazeta dot ru/social/news/2023/03/22/20028139.shtml; https://t.me/miroshnik_r/10839[70] https://t.me/basurin_e/287[71] https://t.me/vrogov/8284[72] https://t.me/glava_lnr_info/895[73] https://t.me/VGA_Kherson/7935; https://t.me/aakherson/10[74] https://t.me/modmilby/24718 

[Author: Sydney] [Category: Russia, Ukraine]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 3/25/23 1:04pm
Annika Ganzeveld, Amin Soltani, Johanna Moore, Nicholas Carl, and Frederick W. KaganMarch 21, 2023, 5:30 pm ETThe Iran Updates are produced by the Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute with support from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). To receive Iran Updates via email, please subscribe here.Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei shut down intra-regime debates about political reform to address protester grievances and instead confined these debates to the economy during a Nowrouz speech on March 21. Khamenei stated that Iran’s enemies seek to transform Iran by “changing the constitution or the structure of the regime” and that some individuals in Iran have echoed this rhetoric.[1] Khamenei undoubtedly directed this statement to reformist politician Mir Hossein Mousavi who called for “foundational” change in Iran on February 4 as well as to individuals, such as prominent Sunni cleric Moulana Abdol Hamid, who have expressed support for Mousavi’s proposal.[2] Khamenei may have also directed this statement toward pragmatic hardliners, such as Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, who have called for political change within the framework of the Islamic Republic.[3] Regardless of who his target audience was, Khamenei made clear that those who call for constitutional change are counterrevolutionaries because, he said, the idea for political transformation originated with Iran's enemies.Khamenei implied that the economy should be the primary topic of intra-regime debate. Khamenei stated that addressing the people’s economic problems will largely solve Iran’s political and sociocultural issues.[4] Khamenei implicitly ordered Iranian officials to stop debating governance and cultural problems by asking them to focus their attention on fixing the economy. Khamenei separately called on the media to “create hope” among the Iranian people to counter the efforts of Iran’s enemies, who seek to disillusion Iranian youth.[5] This rhetoric suggests that Khamenei will continue to tolerate sociocultural discussions that focus on indoctrination and ideologization. Khamenei has not indicated that he will accept more substantial debates about the regime’s disconnect from the Iranian people, however.Several regime elements have reflected Khamenei’s uncompromising stance toward sociocultural issues in recent days. IRGC officials in Qom have announced plans to reestablish morality patrols, as CTP reported on March 17.[6] Regime officials additionally continue to discuss the economy instead of addressing sociocultural grievances but blame the Mahsa Amini protest movement on Iran’s foreign enemies.[7] The regime is likely focusing on the economy, in part, because this issue is not central to the regime’s ideology. The hijab—and sociocultural issues more broadly—contrastingly challenge the very principles that underpin the Islamic Republic.Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf may be testing the rhetorical boundaries that Khamenei identified. Ghalibaf stated in his own Nowrouz statement that “the way to realize a strong Iran... is through new governance.”[8] It is unclear to what Ghalibaf was referring exactly when he said “new governance.” Such rhetoric could refer to installing new executive managers, especially in the Raisi administration, or to more drastic measures, such as establishing a parliamentary system under the Islamic Republic. His call for some kind of political change is now new, however. Ghalibaf made an urgent appeal for governmental change during a parliamentary meeting on February 23, as CTP previously reported.[9] Ghalibaf did not call for constitutional change—and thus did not directly contradict Khamenei’s guidance—but he also did not follow other regime officials who more closely mirrored Khamenei’s rhetoric in their Nowrouz statements. This rhetoric may indicate that Ghalibaf was indeed carefully challenging the Supreme Leader’s order to cease all debates about political reform.Key TakeawaysSupreme Leader Ali Khamenei shut down intra-regime debates about political reform to address protester grievances and instead confined these debates to the economy during a Nowrouz speech. Khamenei implied that the economy should be the primary topic of intra-regime debate.Several regime elements have reflected Khamenei’s uncompromising stance toward sociocultural issues in recent days.Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf may be testing the rhetorical boundaries that Khamenei identified.At least three protests occurred in three cities across three provinces.Internal Security and Protest ActivityAt least three protests occurred in three cities across three provinces on March 21. CTP assesses with moderate to high confidence that protests occurred in the following cities:Izeh, Khuzestan Province[10]Size: SmallNotes: Gathered by the graves of killed protesters, chanting anti-regime slogansArak, Markazi Province[11]Size: SmallNotes: Gathered by the graves of killed protesters, chanting anti-regime slogansCTP assesses with low confidence that protests occurred in the following cities:Ghaem Shahr, Mazandaran Province[12]Size: SmallNotes: Gathered by the graves of killed protesters, singing famous protest songUK-based outlet Amwaj Media reported on March 20 that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei may remove Mashhad Friday Prayer Leader Ahmad Alam ol Hoda from his post.[13] The article suggested that Khamenei may remove Alam ol Hoda due to his recent calls for vigilantes to enforce the mandatory hijab law and his generally provocative views. Alam ol Hoda is well known for his hardline stances, especially regarding women’s rights. The EU sanctioned him on March 20 for undermining women’s freedom and propagating hatred against women.[14] Alam ol Hoda’s calls for vigilante enforcement of the hijab law could be especially problematic for the regime as it would undermine its authority to enforce its own laws. Other clerics in Qom have recently issued similar calls.[15]Alam ol Hoda’s calls for vigilantism are noteworthy in the context of the recent school poisonings. Senior clerics in the two conservatively religious cities of Qom and Mashhad could have had a hand in inspiring or directly ordering attacks on schoolgirls who protested the mandatory veiling law during the Mahsa Amini movement. Prominent Sunni Cleric Moulana Abdol Hamid and former reformist President Mohammad Khatami suggested that regime-affiliated actors were responsible for the poisoning attacks, as CTP previously reported.[16] Khatami’s statement was reminiscent of the 1990s “chain murders,“ during which senior clerics ordered vigilantes to assassinate political dissidents who they felt were not going to be prosecuted by the judiciary. The regime could be attempting to rein in overzealous clerics through its announced plans to implement a morality patrol in Qom Province, as CTP previously reported.[17]Alam ol Hoda is the father-in-law of President Ebrahim Raisi and a member of the Assembly of Experts, the regime body responsible for appointing and monitoring the supreme leader (although the assembly has never really fulfilled the latter function). Raisi is widely considered to be a top contender to succeed Khamenei as supreme leader. The removal of Alam ol Hoda could damage Raisi’s chances. It would be highly significant if Khamenei dismissed Alam ol Hoda, but CTP has not seen indications in the open source that Khamenei has made such a decision.Prominent Sunni cleric Moulana Abdol Hamid continued his criticism of the regime in a celebratory Nowrouz message on his Twitter account on March 21.[18] Abdol Hamid called on the regime to release political prisoners and end discrimination, injustice, and poverty.Economic AffairsThe Iranian rial continued selling for around 494,000 to one US dollar on March 21 for the second consecutive day.[19] The rial has depreciated rising from around 471,000 rials to the US dollar on March 17.Foreign Policy and DiplomacySenior officials from the Strategic Foreign Relations Council continued their official visit to Syria on March 21. Council Chairman Kamal Kharrazi and Secretary Abbas Araghchi met with Syrian President Bashar al Assad to discuss bilateral relations and international developments, including the normalization of ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia.[20] Kharrazi and Assad agreed to facilitate communications and exchanges between Iranian and Syrian scholars to counter Western cultural influence, especially among youth. Kharrazi and Araghchi previously met with Syrian Religious Endowments Minister Mohammad Abdul Sattar on March 19 and Foreign Affairs Minister Faisal Mekdad on March 20.[21]Foreign Affairs Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian held a phone call with Pakistani Foreign Affairs Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on March 21.[22] The two discussed the growing relations between Tehran and Islamabad as well as the recent normalization of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to normalize relations on March 10, as CTP previously reported.[23] Abdollahian described the Iran-Saudi Arabia rapprochement during the phone call as a “constructive factor” leading to the further development and stability of the region.Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister for Political Affairs Ali Bagheri Kani announced he will pay an official visit to Yerevan, Armenia on March 21-22.[24] Tensions have flared between Iran and Azerbaijan in recent months over Baku’s efforts to connect Azerbaijan proper to the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic via a land corridor running through Armenia. Tehran has framed these Azerbaijani efforts as potential violations of Armenian territorial integrity and argued that this land corridor would furthermore block Iranian economic access to European and Russian markets.[25]External Security and Military AffairsAnti-Syrian regime media outlets reported that Russian forces transported military equipment to an unspecified Russian base in al Saeediyah, Manbij district, Aleppo province on March 21.[26] A Thiqa report claimed that the Russian military equipment includes 40 armored vehicles, logistical materials, and weaponry. This reported deployment of additional Russian assets around Aleppo may be part of a larger effort to deter a possible Turkish ground incursion into northern Syria in the months and years ahead.[27] Syrian President Bashar al Assad previously voiced his support for an increased Russian military presence in Syria during an interview with Russian-state media outlet Novosti on March 15, as CTP previously reported.[28] Continued Russian and Syrian military cooperation will likely place additional pressure on Turkish President Recep Erdogan in possible normalization talks.Anti-Syrian regime media claimed that clashes occurred between various Iranian proxy militias around the al Qaim crossing on the Iraq-Syria border on March 20. Militants from Asaib Ahl al Haq (AAH) and Kataib Seyyed ol Shohada (KSS) clashed with Kataib Hezbollah (KH) forces and took control of a border crossing from KH.[29] Qasioun reported that clashes occurred over several months of disputes over which militia should control Iranian convoys crossing the border. CTP cannot independently verify these claims. The al Qaim border crossing is a major arms and drug smuggling route for Iranian-backed Shia militias in Iraq.[30][1] https://www.farsnews dot ir/news/14020101000395[2] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-february-6-2023; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-february-9-2023[3] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-february-23-2023[4] https://www.irna dot ir/news/85062598[5] https://www.leader dot ir/fa/content/26385[6] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-17-2023[7] http://www.president dot ir/fa/143067[8] https://www.irna dot ir/news/85062778[9] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-february-23-2023[10] https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1638115593051160578?s=20; https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1638065123460886529?s=20; https://twitter.com/1500tasvir/status/1638169518382907392?s=20; https://twitter.com/RadioFarda_/status/1638199519039967234?s=20; https://twitter.com/dariush_Zand/status/1638216697415860229?s=20; https://twitter.com/bbcpersian/status/1638229792116842523?s=20.[11] https://twitter.com/1500tasvir/status/1638136780691046401?s=20; https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1638209587282075650?s=20.[12] https://twitter.com/RadioFarda_/status/1638164274513076226?s=20[13] https://amwaj.media/article/inside-story-is-khamenei-s-man-in-iran-s-top-shrine-city-on-his-way-out[14] https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2023/03/20/human-rights-violations-in-iran-eu-sanctions-additional-eight-individuals-and-one-entity/; https://www.iranintl.com/en/202303218166[15] https://www.hawzahnews dot com/news/1076625[16] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-13-2023#_edn842b20623c9ac640b07b7fc1357fde72ref11; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-10-2023#_edndd2a38de0f2dc10407d330a8454cf52eref6[17] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-17-2023#_ednbb46d37547fa6e06c8b392619ce2332cref6[18] https://twitter.com/AbdolhamidNet/status/1637904150615801857?s=20[19] https://bonbast dot com/[20] www.scfr dot ir/fa/400/150214[21] www.scfr dot ir/fa/400/150132; www.scfr dot ir/fa/400/150181[22]https://www.irna dot ir/news/85063127/%D8%A7%D9%85%DB%8C%D8%B1%D8%B9%D8%A8%D8%AF%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%84%D9%87%DB%8C%D8%A7%D9%86-%DA%AF%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%B1%D8%B4-%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%B7-%DA%A9%D8%B4%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%87%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D9%85%D9%86%D8%B7%D9%82%D9%87-%D9%85%D9%88%D8%AC%D8%A8-%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%B3%D8%B9%D9%87-%D9%88-%D8%AB%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D9%85%DB%8C-%D8%B4%D9%88%D8%AF[23] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-10-2023[24] https://www.irna dot ir/news/85062969/%D8%B9%D9%84%DB%8C-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%82%D8%B1%DB%8C-%D8%A8%D9%87-%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%85%D9%86%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%85%DB%8C-%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%AF[25] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-october-17[26] https://thiqa-agency dot com/%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D8%AA%D8%B1%D8%B3%D9%84-%D8%AA%D8%B9%D8%B2%D9%8A%D8%B2%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%B9%D8%B3%D9%83%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A5%D9%84%D9%89-%D8%B4%D8%B1%D9%82%D9%8A-%D8%AD%D9%84%D8%A8/[27] https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/erdogan-says-turkey-rid-syrias-tal-rifaat-manbij-terrorists-2022-06-01/[28] https://ria dot ru/20230316/asad-1858224485.html ;https://www.syria dot tv/%D8%A8%D8%B4%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D8%B3%D8%AF-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%84%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%A1-%D9%85%D8%B9-%D8%A3%D8%B1%D8%AF%D9%88%D8%BA%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%85%D8%B1%D8%AA%D8%A8%D8%B7-%D8%A8%D8%AE%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%AC-%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%83%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D9%81%D9%8A%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%88 ;https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-16-2023?mkt_tok=NDc1LVBCUS05NzEAAAGKi__w4p6hVyLgEYiFiyX79tukV80vtfu1aBEW3PNEsh-qZxhQOKl_5wNkLhxqnYlCAoLjEWuQJ9Ueaa9v1GaKtu3zAH0jg-tKkJs4IIkbJTW8o-dS[29] https://www.qasioun-news dot com/ar/articles/261256[30] https://sana dot sy/?p=1841985; https://deirezzor24 dot net/en/iranian-militias-in-deir-ezzor-are-taking-advantage-of-the-earthquake/ ;https://asiatimes dot com/2022/05/to-stem-iraqs-drug-trade-rein-in-the-militias/

[Author: ISWKF] [Category: Iran]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 3/25/23 12:21pm
 Karolina Hird, Kateryna Stepanenko, Riley Bailey, Nicole Wolkov, and Frederick W. KaganMarch 21, 7:45pm ETClick here to see ISW’s interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.Click here to access ISW’s archive of interactive time-lapse maps of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These maps complement the static control-of-terrain maps that ISW produces daily by showing a dynamic frontline. ISW will update this time-lapse map archive monthly.Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to be setting conditions to weaponize the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) as a method of Russian power projection in advance of Russia’s accession to the rotating UNSC presidency in April. Russian UN Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya stated during a press conference on March 21 that Russia plans to hold an informal UNSC meeting in early April to discuss the “real situation” of “Ukrainian children taken to Russia.”[1] Nebenzya claimed that Russia planned to hold the meeting before the announcement of the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) arrest warrants for Putin and Russian Commissioner on Children’s Rights Maria Lvova-Belova for the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia.[2] Nebenzya’s announcement, as well as vitriolic denials of the ICC’s accusations by Russian officials, come as Kremlin-appointed occupation officials continue to facilitate the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia under a variety of schemes and guises.[3] Putin additionally made a number of notable comments proclaiming Russia’s commitment to the UN, UNSC, and the UN charter during his press conference with Chinese President Xi Jinping on March 21.[4] Taken in tandem, Nebenzya’s and Putin’s comments suggest that Russia continues to use its position on the UNSC as a base of power projection as the UNSC prepares for Russia to take the UNSC presidency in April.[5] By setting information conditions to posture about Russia’s supposed commitment to the UNSC, Putin is positioning himself to continue to weaponize and exploit Russia’s UNSC veto power in the coming months.The second day of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit with Russian President Vladimir Putin continued to suggest that Putin has not been able to secure the no-limits bilateral partnership with China that he likely hoped for. Putin and Xi signed a “Joint Statement by the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China on Deepening Comprehensive Partnership and Strategic Cooperation, Entering a New Era” on March 21, which stressed that Russian–Chinese relations are comprehensive, strategic, and at the highest level in history.[6] The Joint Statement outlines a variety of bilateral intentions and affirms the commitment of Russia and China to each other’s state sovereignty and territorial integrity, among other diplomatic promises.[7] The commitments made by Xi and Putin were notably lopsided, however, indicating the Xi is agreeing to a more reserved version of Russian–Chinese relations than Putin likely desires, as ISW observed on March 20.[8] Xi praised Putin, reaffirmed China’s commitment to Russia in the UNSC, and amplified China’s position on a political settlement of the war in Ukraine; but Xi did not go much further than offering those statements.[9] Putin, by contrast, announced a number of measures that signal Russia’s continued orientation towards and dependence on China in the energy and economic sectors, which appear very one-sided compared to Xi’s relatively tempered commitments.[10] Xi additionally did not signal an intent to provide support for Russia’s war in Ukraine beyond vague diplomatic assurances, which is likely a step down from what Putin hoped to secure in negotiations. Putin has likely failed to secure the exact sort of partnership that he needs and desires, and Xi will likely leave Moscow having secured assurances that are more one-sided than Putin intended them to be. Putin observed that Russia and China had “a very substantiative and candid exchange of views” on the prospects for the further development of the Russian-Chinese relations. Such rhetoric notably lacks the language normally used in diplomatic readouts to indicate that the two parties have come to definitive and substantive agreements.Putin portrayed the Western provision of depleted uranium ammunition to Ukraine as a significant escalation in order to bolster information operations aiming to deter Western security assistance to Ukraine and to place the onus for negotiations on the West. Putin claimed on March 21, while discussing the Chinese peace plan, that the West is beginning to use weapons with a “nuclear” component in a response to the UK’s announcement that it would provide Ukraine with shells with depleted uranium.[11] Putin claimed that the UK’s provision of depleted uranium shells indicated that the West is not ready for a “peaceful settlement.“[12] Anti-tank munitions in the West are commonly made of depleted uranium—that is, uranium that is less radioactive than natural uranium—due to its high density and the penetrative effect it generates. Such munitions cannot be used to produce either nuclear or radiological weapons. Putin seeks to portray the provision of depleted uranium shells as escalatory in order to deter Western security assistance despite the shells not containing any fissile or radiological material.The Wagner Group may lose most of its convict force in the upcoming weeks as convicts finish their six-month military contracts. The UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) assessed that thousands of Wagner convicts who were recruited during fall 2022 will be pardoned and released, given that Wagner appears to be sticking to its promise of releasing convicts after six months of service.[13] The UK MoD forecasted that the exodus of convict forces would worsen Wagner personnel shortages as the Kremlin has also blocked Wagner from recruiting additional prisoners. The Kremlin had previously confirmed on January 27 that Russian President Vladimir Putin is issuing preemptive pardon for convicts who serve in Russian combat operations in Ukraine.[14] The Kremlin’s announcement aligns with the ISW-established timeline of Putin’s decision to completely distance himself from Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin following the fall of Soledar, Donetsk Oblast, on January 12–13.[15] The Kremlin had likely deliberately authorized publicization of pre-emptive pardons to incentivize more Wagner convicts to leave following the expiration of their contracts to further erode the Wagner force. Prigozhin has developed a brand consistently mocking the Russian MoD for its disregard for the troops’ wellbeing and is unlikely to anger a convict force by retaining them on the frontlines past the expiration of their contracts.The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Russian National Guard (Rosgvardia) launched a criminal investigation into the Deputy Commander of the Rosgvardia’s Central District, Major General Vadim Dragomiretsky on March 20.[16] Russian State Duma Parliamentarian Aleksandr Khinshtein stated that Dragomiretsky is suspected of receiving multimillion dollar bribes and abusing his power and will face subsequent dismissal from his position. Khinshtein said that officials forced Dragomiretsky to admit his guilt in a written confession. Dragomiretsky was suspected of having received bribes from a contractor who reconstructed a military unit in the Moscow Oblast.[17] The accusations follow Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bill on March 18 that increased fines and jailtime for the misappropriation of Russian military assets.[18] Khinshtein stated that the Rosgvardia leadership’s investigation proves its dedication to “purifying their ranks.“ The Kremlin may use the premise of misappropriation of military funds to oust officials who have fallen out of favor.The US Department of Defense (DoD) announced on March 20 that it authorized a presidential drawdown to provide an additional $350 million of security assistance to Ukraine.[19] The DoD stated that the package will include ammunition for HIMARS, 155mm artillery rounds, HARMs missiles, and other critical military equipment.[20]Key TakeawaysRussian President Vladimir Putin appears to be setting conditions to weaponize the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) as a method of Russian power projection in advance of Russia’s accession to the rotating UNSC presidency in April.The readouts of the second day of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit with Russian President Vladimir Putin continued to suggest that Putin has not been able to secure the no-limits bilateral partnership with China that he likely hoped for.Putin falsely portrayed the Western provision of depleted uranium ammunition (not suitable for use in nuclear or radiological weapons) to Ukraine as a significant escalation in order to bolster information operations aiming to deter Western security assistance to Ukraine and to place the onus for negotiations on the West.Wagner Group may lose most of its convict force in the upcoming weeks as convicts finish their six-month military contracts.The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Russian National Guard (Rosgvardia) launched a criminal investigation into the Deputy Commander of the Rosgvardia’s Central District, Major General Vadim Dragomiretsky.The US Department of Defense (DoD) announced that it authorized a presidential drawdown to provide around $350 million of security assistance to Ukraine.Russian forces continued limited offensive operations along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line.Russian forces did not make any confirmed gains in or around Bakhmut and continued offensive operations along the outskirts of Donetsk City.The Kremlin continues crypto mobilization campaigns to recruit men across Russia for contract service to avoid declaring second mobilization wave.Russian occupation officials continue to facilitate the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia.We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because those activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We will continue to evaluate and report on the effects of these criminal activities on the Ukrainian military and population and specifically on combat in Ukrainian urban areas. We utterly condemn these Russian violations of the laws of armed conflict, Geneva Conventions, and humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.Russian Main Effort—Eastern Ukraine (comprised of two subordinate main efforts)Russian Subordinate Main Effort #1—Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and encircle northern Donetsk OblastRussian Subordinate Main Effort #2—Capture the entirety of Donetsk OblastRussian Supporting Effort—Southern AxisRussian Mobilization and Force Generation EffortsActivities in Russian-occupied AreasRussian Main Effort—Eastern UkraineRussian Subordinate Main Effort #1— Luhansk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and continue offensive operations into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and northern Donetsk Oblast)Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line on March 21. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations near Masyukivka (15km northeast of Kupyansk), Novoselivske (15km northwest of Svatove), Bilohorivka (10km south of Kreminna), and Verkhnokamyanske (20km south of Kreminna). [21] Geolocated footage published on March 20 indicates that Russian forces have advanced towards Terny, about 15km northwest of Kreminna.[22] Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Serhiy Cherevaty stated that the Kupyansk-Lyman direction is under the heaviest Russian artillery fire and that Russian forces use Soviet-era armored vehicles and older tanks more actively on this line.[23] The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed on March 21 that unspecified motorized rifle units disrupted two Ukrainian troop rotations near Dvorichna (17km northeast of Kupyansk) and Synkivka (8km northeast of Kupyansk) and discovered two Ukrainian sabotage groups near Berestove (24km northwest of Svatove) and Novoselivske.[24] A Russian milblogger claimed that positional battles continue west of Ploshchanka and near the Zhuravka gully, within 18km northwest of Kreminna.[25] A milblogger claimed that Russian forces attempted to break through Ukrainian positions in Novoselivske and conducted offensive operations towards Yampolivka, Terny, Nevske, and Makiivka.[26] Another milblogger published footage on March 21 reportedly of the 4th Brigade of the 2nd Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) Army Corps operating in the forests near Kreminna.[27]Russian Subordinate Main Effort #2—Donetsk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)Russian forces did not make any confirmed gains in or around Bakhmut on March 21. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian assaults near Bakhmut; within 11km northwest of Bakhmut near Orikhovo-Vasylivka, Hryhorivka, and Bohdanivka; and within 22km southwest of Bakhmut near Ivanivske, Predtechyne, and Pivnichne.[28] Ukrainian Eastern Grouping of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Serhiy Cherevaty reported that there were 13 combat clashes in Bakhmut, a notable decrease from the 24 combat clashes in the city that he reported on March 16.[29] The Ukrainian General Staff specified that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian assaults in northern Bakhmut, likely suggesting that Russian forces are concentrating offensive operations on the northern part of the city.[30] Russian milbloggers claimed that Wagner Group fighters continued assaults in the AZOM industrial complex in northern Bakhmut and that they control most of the complex, although ISW has not observed visual confirmation of these claims.[31] Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces advanced from southwestern areas of Bakhmut towards the city center on March 19 and 20, although ISW has not observed visual confirmation that Russian forces have done so.[32] The Lystyan volunteer battalion of the Cossack Don Brigade published footage on March 18 claiming to show the formation fighting in Bakhmut itself, possibly indicating that the Cossack Don Brigade has ties with the Wagner Group in the area.[33] A Russian milblogger claimed that Wagner fighters conducted an assault towards Khromove (2km west of Bakhmut) and broke through Ukrainian defenses in the direction of Hryhorivka (6km northwest of Bakhmut).[34] Another Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces conducted assaults west of Kurdyumivka (13km southwest of Bakhmut) and that Ukrainian forces conducted unsuccessful counterattacks southwest of Bakhmut.[35]Russian forces continued offensive operations along the outskirts of Donetsk City on March 21. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations near Avdiivka; within 14km north of Avdiivka near Novobakhmutivka, Berdychi, and Krasnohorivka; and within 36km southwest of Avdiivka near Sieverne, Pervomaiske, Marinka, Pobieda, and Novomykhailivka.[36] A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces are attempting to advance towards Orlivka (8km northwest of Avdiivka) following the likely Russian capture of Stepove (9km northwest of Avdiivka).[37] A prominent Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces still hold positions in Stepove.[38] ISW assesses that Russian forces likely captured Stepove based on a Ukrainian General Staff report of Russian assaults near Berdychi (10km northwest of Avdiivka, and 1km west of Stepove) on March 19.[39] A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces advanced near Stepove and Kamianka as well as towards the southern outskirts of Avdiivka, where fierce fighting has reportedly been ongoing for the past five days.[40] Russian milbloggers also claimed that Russian forces are trying to advance north of Vodyane (8km southwest of Bakhmut).[41] A Russian milblogger purportedly in contact with personnel from the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) 1st Slavic Brigade claimed that the formation has suffered heavy losses and conducts assaults without artillery support in the Avdiivka area.[42] ISW previously reported that the increased tempo of Russian operations in the Avdiivka area has led to major losses and is likely a misguided effort to pull Ukrainian forces away from other areas of the front.[43]Russian sources offered diverging views on the Russian military’s ability to encircle Avdiivka and the significance of the settlement. Some Russian sources claimed that Russian forces are threatening to encircle Ukrainian forces in Avdiivka from the north, east, and south and that the capture of Stepove cut the railway line that Ukrainian forces used to supply its grouping in Avdiivka.[44] A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces are attempting to advance towards Orlivka to cut Ukrainian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) that lead from Orlivka, Lastochkyne (4km northwest of Avdiivka), and Tonenke (7km west of Avdiivka) into Avdiivka and will soon encircle Avdiivka.[45] Other prominent milbloggers argued that Russian forces are not close to encircling Avdiivka and called on other Russian sources to stop premature conversations about the topic.[46] One milblogger stated that the current difficulties of the Russian advance in the Avdiivka area confirms that Russian forces are not closer to victory.[47] Russian sources offered diverging views on the importance of capturing Avdiivka, with one Russian milblogger arguing that the settlement is a significant industrial area while another questioned how capturing Avdiivka would significantly change the operational situation along the outskirts of Donetsk City when Ukrainian positions in Karlivka (16km northwest of Avdiivka) and Kurakhove (25km west of Donetsk City) are just as fortified as those in Avdiivka.[48] ISW continues to assess that Russian advances could prompt Ukrainian command to decide to withdraw from Avdiivka although that does not appear likely at this time.Russian forces did not conduct any confirmed ground attacks in western Donetsk Oblast on March 21.Supporting Effort—Southern Axis (Russian objective: Maintain frontline positions and secure rear areas against Ukrainian strikes)Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported on March 20 that explosions in occupied Dzhankoy, Crimea destroyed Russian Kalibr NK cruise missiles during their transport via railroad.[49] Russian milbloggers published footage purportedly showing explosions and the aftermath of explosions in Dzhankoy and claimed that if a drone had struck a supply of missiles, a secondary explosion should have been visible.[50] The Russian Investigative Committee notably announced it is opening an investigation into drone activity following the reported drone strike in Dzhankoy.[51]Russian forces conducted routine shelling in Zaporizhia and Kherson oblasts on March 21.[52]Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts (Russian objective: Expand combat power without conducting general mobilization)The Kremlin continues crypto mobilization campaigns to recruit men across Russia for contract service to avoid declaring a formal second mobilization wave. Representative of the Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Andriy Yusov stated that Russia recruits 20,000 servicemen per month via crypto mobilization schemes.[53] Yusov noted that Russia continues to lack trainers and is using Belarusian training grounds to train the mobilized servicemen. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian conscripts from Krasnodar Krai are signing contracts to deploy to Ukraine in August 2023.[54] Russian recruitment officials are likely coercing conscripts into signing contracts, and Russian independent media reported that the Moscow Aviation Institute withheld diplomas from graduates who refused to sign military contracts.[55] Russian local outlets reported that military enlistment offices are threatening private companies with fines if they do not provide personal information about their male employees up to 50 years of age.[56] Russian outlets also reported that Russian recruitment officials continued to distribute summonses to students and civilian men to clarify their personal information.[57] The Wagner Group also continues to expand its recruitment campaigns across Russia and opened another recruitment center in Rostov-on-Don.[58]Russian milbloggers are increasingly assessing that the Kremlin is unlikely to declare another mobilization wave and is instead in favor of a contract service recruitment campaign. A milblogger noted that the Kremlin will only declare mobilization if regional authorities are unable to generate the desired quota of volunteers.[59] The milblogger noted that the Kremlin is advertising contract service to regenerate forces without mobilization. Another milblogger noted that the Kremlin’s recruitment campaign is set up for failure, stating that the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) had not been effective in promoting recruitment drives.[60] The milblogger noted that the Kremlin is unlikely to generate the desired 400,000 troops because most of the volunteers that wanted to fight in the war already enlisted during previous recruitment drives. The milblogger noted that Wagner Group and Chechen “Akhmat” units are the only formations that have been able to effectively recruit volunteers and speculated that the Russian MoD only was able to mobilize 230,000 servicemen in September 2022. The milbloggers’ observations support previous ISW’s assessments that the renewed volunteer recruitment campaign is unlikely to fulfill Russia’s ongoing need for timely reinforcements.Russian servicemen who joined regional volunteer battalions over summer 2022 revealed that the Russian military command treats Russian volunteers like cannon fodder. Russian independent outlet Important Stories (iStories) interviewed a Russian volunteer from Kazan’s “Alga” volunteer battalion who is currently accused of desertion.[61] The volunteer revealed that his battalion suffered tremendous losses on the west (right) bank Kherson Oblast during the Ukrainian counteroffensive in November 2022. The servicemen, alongside some other elements of the battalion, received permission from company and battalion commanders to quit after four months of contract service, but commanders of the 72nd Brigade refused to dismiss them. ISW could not locate any information about a Russian 72nd Brigade, which was named in the iStories report. The subordination of the volunteer battalion to a brigade may indicate that some Russian volunteer battalions were embedded in existing or new units. The volunteer also revealed that Ukrainian forces largely destroyed the “Alga” volunteer battalion near Vuhledar on February 6, 2023.Russian involuntary recruitment campaigns, if declared again, would further worsen brain-drain problems in the country. Radio Liberty and Current Time uncovered that 250 of Russia’s most prominent doctors fled the country on September 27, 2022, six days after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared mobilization.[62]The Russian Supreme Court developed and presented a draft resolution that explains which activities the court would rule as a crime against military service.[63] The court proposed on March 21 to introduce punishments for “attempted unauthorized abandonment of a military unit and desertion.” The draft would allow the court to punish servicemen who were absent from their units for less than two days, which is currently not an offense under existing law. The draft defined desertion as an offense in which a serviceman intends to evade his military duties, and the court will be able to prosecute anyone who evaded service within 15 years after reaching the age limit of being in reserve. The draft also noted that Russian servicemen should fully resist capture and fulfill military obligations even in a complete encirclement. A Russian human rights advocate noted that any Russian serviceman who is captured would be investigated under the Russian criminal code.Chinese entities reportedly continue to supply drones and drone parts to Russia. The New York Times reported that official Russian customs data shows that nearly 70 Chinese exporters sold 26 brands of drones and drone parts worth more than $12 million to Russian entities since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.[64] The Chinese drone maker Autel has reportedly sold two million dollars’ worth of drones to Russian entities alone.[65] Chinese firms appear to be increasing their sale of commercially available drones to Russia, which have dual use purposes that Russian forces can employ on the battlefield in Ukraine. These commercially available drones likely do not have payload capacities that would allow Russian forces to employ them in significant combat or high-precision strike roles. It still remains uncertain whether Chinese leadership will decide to allow Chinese defense industry to sell lethal equipment to Russia.Activity in Russian-occupied Areas (Russian objective: consolidate administrative control of and annexed areas; forcibly integrate Ukrainian civilians into Russian sociocultural, economic, military, and governance systems)Russian forces continue to conduct law enforcement operations in occupied areas to target pro-Ukrainian sentiment and coerce compliance with passportization measures. Chechen Republic Head Ramzan Kadyrov posted footage on March 21 of Chechen riot police of the “Akhmat-1” formation conducting a law enforcement sweep in an unnamed occupied village that shows them entering a small private residence and finding Ukrainian flags and Ukrainian “training manuals for sabotage and subversive work.”[66] While the video appears highly staged and choreographed, it demonstrates that law enforcement operations in occupied areas particularly target anything and anyone deemed to show pro-Ukrainian sentiments. The Ukrainian Resistance Center remarked on March 21 that Russian forces raided homes in the Azov village near Berdyansk, occupied Zaporizhia Oblast, to conduct “preventative searches” and threaten residents who do not hold Russian passports, arbitrarily detaining those who refuse to apply for Russian citizenship.[67]Russian occupation officials continue to facilitate the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia. Kherson Oblast occupation Head Vladimir Saldo reported on March 21 that he signed an agreement with All-Russian Children’s Center “Okean” Director Natalya Solovey that stipulates that children from occupied Kherson Oblast will go to “rest and study” at the “Okean” camp near Vladivostok, Primorsky Krai.[68] "Okean” is funded and directed by the Russian government and Ministry of Education, according to its website.[69] Vladivostok is closer to the American state of Alaska (approximately 5,000km) than it is to Kherson Oblast (over 7,000km).Russian occupation officials continue efforts to consolidate bureaucratic and administrative control of occupied areas of Ukraine. The Kherson Oblast Occupation Administration stated on March 21 that people with disabilities will need to undergo re-examination under Russian legislation for the re-issuance of their disability status.[70] Occupation authorities are therefore weaponizing the issuance of disability status to require individuals to register and provide personal information to occupation organs. Russian occupation authorities also continue to push for the issuance of Russian passports in occupied territories. Zaporizhia Oblast occupation Head Yevgeny Balitsky claimed on March 21 that 30 percent of residents (164,577 people) of occupied Zaporizhia Oblast have received Russian passports and that there are 16 stationary and two mobile departments operating in the oblast for the receipt and issuance of passport documents.[71] The Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) similarly claimed on March 21 that it opened a checkpoint for passport application and issuance in Bilolutsk and that the checkpoint received over 200 passport applications on the day of its opening.[72] The number of Russian passport applications and holders are likely purposefully overblown by occupation officials, and the actual process for application is likely becoming increasingly coercive. Ukrainian Luhansk Oblast Military Administration noted that Russian occupation officials have greatly accelerated the process for renouncing Ukrainian citizenship in Luhansk Oblast, likely to expedite the Russian passport application process.[73]Significant activity in Belarus (ISW assesses that a Russian or Belarusian attack into northern Ukraine in early 2023 is extraordinarily unlikely and has thus restructured this section of the update. It will no longer include counter-indicators for such an offensive.ISW will continue to report daily observed Russian and Belarusian military activity in Belarus, but these are not indicators that Russian and Belarusian forces are preparing for an imminent attack on Ukraine from Belarus. ISW will revise this text and its assessment if it observes any unambiguous indicators that Russia or Belarus is preparing to attack northern Ukraine.The Ukrainian General Staff continued to note on March 21 that Belarus is providing its military infrastructure for the training of Russian troops and that Russia maintains a significant military presence in Belarus.[74]Belarusian forces continued various military exercises on March 21. The Belarusian Ministry of Defense (MoD) reported that the 103rd Vitebsk Separate Airborne Brigade started brigade-level tactical exercises to practice unit maneuver, combat fire, and UAV operation.[75] The Belarusian MoD also noted that the Belarusian Signal Corps is holding tactical and special training classes until March 25 under Head of the Belarusian Communications Department, Colonel Vadim Romaniv.[76] Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko additionally held a meeting on external and internal security threats.[77]Note: ISW does not receive any classified material from any source, uses only publicly available information, and draws extensively on Russian, Ukrainian, and Western reporting and social media as well as commercially available satellite imagery and other geospatial data as the basis for these reports. References to all sources used are provided in the endnotes of each update.[1] https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-abducted-children-un-security-council-667a131be7ba09157e0ac21b0545bccb[2] https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-abducted-children-un-security-council-667a131be7ba09157e0ac21b0545bccb[3] https://t.me/SALDO_VGA/573[4] http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/70750[5] https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Putin%27s%20Offset%20The%20Kremlin%27s%20Geopolitical%20Adaptations%20Since%202014.pdf[6] http://kremlin dot ru/supplement/5920[7] http://kremlin dot ru/supplement/5920[8] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-20-2023[9] http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/70750; https://www.fmprc.gov dot cn/zyxw/202303/t20230321_11045492.shtml; https://www.fmprc.gov dot cn/mfa_eng/xwfw_665399/s2510_665401/202303/t20230321_11045969.html[10] http://kremlin.ru/events/president/news/70750[11] http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/70750; https://questions-statements.parliament dot uk/written-questions/detail/2023-03-06/hl6144[12] http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/70750[13] https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1638068626761580544?s=20[14] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-january-27-2023[15] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-12-2023[16] https://t.me/readovkanews/55122[17] https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/russian-national-guard-general-accused-taking-large-bribes-2023-03-20/[18] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-18-2023[19] https://www.defense.gov/News/Releases/Release/Article/3334472/dod-announces-additional-security-assistance-for-ukraine/[20] https://www.defense.gov/News/Releases/Release/Article/3334472/dod-announces-additional-security-assistance-for-ukraine/[21] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0tpFmTQfD5KmivVrZAb48BNvYLkfZp23icypRf8ogqeLCpZopnecTco7ifvBfgRG1l; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02wJX9Eg8EBP4gsVw3ppAccTpaGRt8rp3z3jmkTG8cWtwfDgaBaTAbypnSLEM5PvpMl[22] https://twitter.com/chris__759/status/1637983779959578626; https://twitter.com/chris__759/status/1637967459683631104[23] https://armyinform dot com.ua/2023/03/21/najbilshyh-artylerijskyh-obstriliv-voroga-zaznaye-lymano-kupyanskyj-napryamok-sergij-cherevatyj/[24] https://t.me/mod_russia/24988[25] https://t.me/basurin_e/272; https://t.me/rybar/44860[26] https://t.me/wargonzo/11518[27] https://t.me/vladlentatarsky/20118; https://t.me/stepnoy_veter/732[28] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02wJX9Eg8EBP4gsVw3ppAccTpaGRt8rp3z3jmkTG8cWtwfDgaBaTAbypnSLEM5PvpMl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0tpFmTQfD5KmivVrZAb48BNvYLkfZp23icypRf8ogqeLCpZopnecTco7ifvBfgRG1l[29] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5vvrb1YsqU; https://suspilne dot media/415431-pidsumki-ramstajnu-devat-krain-nadadut-ukraini-tanki-leopard-a-norvegia-sistemi-nasams-386-den-vijni-onlajn/?anchor=live_1678970429&utm_source=copylink&utm_medium=ps ; https://suspilne dot media/420147-ugorsina-zablokuvala-zaavu-es-sodo-ordera-na-arest-putina-ssa-nadali-cergovij-paket-dopomogi-391-den-vijni-onlajn/[30] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02wJX9Eg8EBP4gsVw3ppAccTpaGRt8rp3z3jmkTG8cWtwfDgaBaTAbypnSLEM5PvpMl[31] https://t.me/wargonzo/11518 ; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/46233[32] https://t.me/rybar/44855 ; https://t.me/basurin_e/272[33] https://t.me/svolistan/374[34] https://t.me/wargonzo/11518[35] https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/46233[36] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02wJX9Eg8EBP4gsVw3ppAccTpaGRt8rp3z3jmkTG8cWtwfDgaBaTAbypnSLEM5PvpMl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0tpFmTQfD5KmivVrZAb48BNvYLkfZp23icypRf8ogqeLCpZopnecTco7ifvBfgRG1l[37] https://t.me/milchronicles/1688 ; https://t.me/milchronicles/1688; https://t.me/kommunist/16497[38] https://t.me/strelkovii/4289[39] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-20-2023[40] https://t.me/strelkovii/4279 ; https://t.me/wargonzo/11518[41] https://t.me/strelkovii/4279 ; https://t.me/wargonzo/11518[42] https://t.me/akashevarova/6223 ; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/46251[43] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-update-march-19-2023[44] https://t.me/readovkanews/55148 ; https://t.me/wargonzo/11518 ; https://t.me/milchronicles/1688 ; https://t.me/milchronicles/1688; https://t.me/kommunist/16497[45] https://t.me/milchronicles/1688[46] https://t.me/strelkovii/4279 ; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/46234[47] https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/46234[48] https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/46234 ; https://t.me/milchronicles/1686[49] https://gur.gov dot ua/content/vybukh-u-misti-dzhankoi-znyshchyv-rosiiski-krylati-rakety-kalybr-nk.html[50] https://t.me/rybar/44869; https://twitter.com/CrimeaUA1/status/1637902769372930048?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/IntelCrab/status/1637902776754642952?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/Militarylandnet/status/1637904142458044416?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/War_cube_/status/1637905635705593858?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/War_cube_/status/1637922105244241924?s=20 https://twitter.com/RALee85/status/1637912185681723393 ; https://t.me/mash_na_volne/2948; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/80971; https://t.me/z_arhiv/19806 ; https://t.me/milinfolive/98297[51] https://t.me/sledcom_press/5897[52] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0tpFmTQfD5KmivVrZAb48BNvYLkfZp23icypRf8ogqeLCpZopnecTco7ifvBfgRG1l; https://www.facebook.com/OperationalCommandSouth/posts/pfbid027K5m8WqQfXPqfGXWVNKXKnCgztixZj2JCr3yjmQxDsreAEmYYCZ76KCkTVbGqs7Tl; https://t.me/khersonskaODA/4511; https://www.facebook.com/sergey.khlan/posts/pfbid0L8hJ7hj1N5kDtbCBYL5d7gsPaQFHJTMND3CxF1TN61tK9iiVRC8vJLHN8XhznoDLl; https://t.me/rybar/44861; https://t.me/zoda_gov_ua/17626[53] https://gur.gov dot ua/content/rf-shchomisiatsia-vdaietsia-mobilizuvaty-blyzko-20-tysiach-osib.html[54] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02wJX9Eg8EBP4gsVw3ppAccTpaGRt8rp3z3jmkTG8cWtwfDgaBaTAbypnSLEM5PvpMl[55] https://t.me/meduzalive/80609; https://t.me/svobodnieslova/1619[56] https://mstrok dot ru/news/v-nizhnem-tagile-voenkomat-nachal-trebovat-u-chastnyh-kompaniy-predostavit-dannye-o-vseh[57] https://t.me/ChuvashiaDream/6624; https://perevolockday dot ru/news/170323133954; https://progorod76 dot ru/news/63973; https://www.e1 dot ru/text/gorod/2023/03/20/72146204/; https://t.me/ChuvashiaDream/6624[58] https://t.me/wargonzo/11524 ; https://t.me/rostov_glavniy/47879[59] https://t.me/rybar/44852[60] https://t.me/Leningrad_guide/15937[61] https://istories dot media/stories/2023/03/21/pod-ugledarom-kazanskii-batalon-polozhili-prakticheski-polnostyu/[62] https://www.currenttime dot tv/a/meditsinsky-samolet-systema/32327706.html[63] https://meduzad dot io/feature/2023/03/21/verhovnyy-sud-rf-dal-raz-yasneniya-po-prestupleniyam-protiv-voennoy-sluzhby; https://tassd ot ru/obschestvo/17324143; https://www.rapsinews dot ru/judicial_analyst/20230321/308764470.html[64] https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/21/business/russia-china-drones-ukraine-war.html[65] https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/21/business/russia-china-drones-ukraine-war.html[66] https://t.me/RKadyrov_95/3448[67] https://sprotyv.mod dot gov.ua/2023/03/21/okupanty-provely-obshuky-v-selah-poblyzu-berdyanska/[68] https://t.me/SALDO_VGA/573; https://okean dot org/; https://t.me/VGA_Kherson/7920[69] https://okean dot org/ofitsialnaya-informatsiya#osnovnie-svedeniya[70] https://t.me/VGA_Kherson/7912[71] https://t.me/BalitskyEV/883[72] https://telegra dot ph/V-pgt-Beloluck-otkryty-punkt-policii-i-priema-zayavlenij-o-vydache-zamene-pasporta-grazhdanina-Rossijskoj-Federacii-03-21[73] https://t.me/luhanskaVTSA/9375[74] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02wJX9Eg8EBP4gsVw3ppAccTpaGRt8rp3z3jmkTG8cWtwfDgaBaTAbypnSLEM5PvpMl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0tpFmTQfD5KmivVrZAb48BNvYLkfZp23icypRf8ogqeLCpZopnecTco7ifvBfgRG1l[75] https://t.me/modmilby/24686[76] https://t.me/modmilby/24686[77] https://t.me/modmilby/24684

[Author: ISWKF] [Category: Russia, Ukraine]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 3/25/23 11:30am
 Annika Ganzeveld, Amin Soltani, Johanna Moore, Nicholas Carl, and Frederick W. KaganMarch 20, 2023, 7:00 pm ETThe Iran Updates are produced by the Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute with support from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). To receive Iran Updates via email, please subscribe here.Iranian security leaders have announced in recent days that they will resume enforcing the mandatory hijab law with a confrontational approach. The social deputy of the IRGC Qom Provincial Unit—Major Ali Mehdi Babaei—announced on March 18 the implementation of a new initiative—the “Let’s Enjoin Good in Our Neighborhood” plan—to enforce the hijab requirement and other regime behavioral expectations in public in Qom Province.[1] Babaei described the plan as “neighborhood-centric” and mosque-based, suggesting that the IRGC will use the Basij Organization to implement the initiative. IRGC Operations Deputy Brigadier General Abbas Nilforoushan previously announced plans to establish “patrols for enjoining good and forbidding evil” in Qom between March 16 and Ramadan, as CTP reported.[2] It is noteworthy that the IRGC and Basij—rather than the Law Enforcement Command (LEC)—appear to be trying to take lead on hijab enforcement. Law Enforcement Commander Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Radan stated on March 19 that the LEC will increase neighborhood patrols during Nowrouz and confront women not properly adhering to the hijab law.[3] Radan specified that “travelers in Mazandaran Province must observe the hijab law much more than before,” indicating that his target audience was tourists—many of whom are likely from Tehran—traveling to the Caspian Sea for the Nowrouz holiday.The security leaders directing this more confrontational approach may have won the intra-regime debate against more moderate figures over how to enforce the hijab law. Many parliamentarians have expressed support for a “smart” and “indirect” approach to enforce veiling in recent months.[4] The Parliamentary Cultural Committee proposed cutting phone and internet services to unveiled women in a report published on March 14, as CTP previously reported.[5] The Parliamentary Judicial and Legal Committee also announced plans to block the national identification cards of unveiled women and bar them from banking services on February 3.[6] Iranian officials have discussed using surveillance cameras with facial recognition technologies to identify unveiled women as well.[7] These measures would avoid physical confrontation with unveiled women and punish them indirectly.[8] Many of these measures have been proposed by parliamentarians who do not have the authority to enact them, however. It appears that those who have the authority—namely the security services—have opted to ignore these calls for restraint in favor of a more confrontational—and potentially more forceful—approach.The IRGC may have decided to first launch its morality patrol campaign in Qom for several reasons. Qom is the religious heartland of Iran, and security leaders may fear that the presence of unveiled women in this city will tarnish the image and undermine the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic. Security leaders may also be securitizing Qom to deter potential dissent from some in the clerical establishment. Several senior clerics voiced criticism of the regime during the Mahsa Amini protest movement. Ayatollah Mostafa Mohaghegh Damad and Ayatollah Asadollah Bayat Zanjani criticized state security services for the death of Mahsa Amini in September 2022, as CTP previously reported.[9] Ayatollah Hossein Nouri Hamedani separately called on the regime to listen to the people’s grievances in September 2022.[10] Security leaders could use these patrols to message to these clerics that the regime has no intention of backing down from its crackdown on Iranian women. Security leaders’ efforts to reconstitute morality patrols are particularly striking in light of UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Javaid Rehman’s announcement on March 20 that evidence confirms Mahsa Amini died on September 16, 2022 “as a result of beatings by the state morality police.”[11]Anti-regime outlets have published purported internal regime meeting notes detailing observations consistent with CTP’s previous assessments about intra-regime fractures and major problems within the security services during the Masha Amini protests.[12] An anti-regime Telegram channel named “Freedom Time” published the document on March 18, claiming that it was the summary of a January 3, 2023, meeting between Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and regime security leadership.[13] IranWire and Iran International then separately reported on the document on March 18 and 19, respectively. CTP cannot independently verify the authenticity of this document. If it is a forgery, it is a high-quality one whose makers have a nuanced understanding of internal Iranian security affairs. CTP does not regard the document as an independent confirmation of our previous assessments, but some key points in the document are consistent with our previous assessments and hypotheses.High-ranking security officials, according to the document, reported in the meeting with Khamenei that many security personnel had abandoned their posts, refused to use violence against protesters, and in some cases even misled security leaders to help protesters. Some of the officials in the meeting stated that the above issues were due to younger security personnel’s empathy for their fellow youth. A provincial IRGC official identified the low salaries of security services as the root cause, citing an incident in which security forces looted a facility in Karaj, Alborz Province stocked with food. Others pointed to the diminishing ideological commitment within the ranks to the regime’s core values. CTP has previously assessed on multiple occasions that Iranian security services were struggling with bandwidth constraints, exhaustion, and low morale and that regime officials were alarmed by these developments.[14] CTP had specifically assessed that less ideologically committed security personnel might struggle to sustain the level of violence that regime officials were demanding, and that the latter were concerned about low salaries leading to defections and insubordination.[15]The discussions detailed in the document are furthermore consistent with CTP’s prior assessments about intra-regime fractures over the security response to the protests. Different regime officials had varying accounts of the root causes and extent of the security services’ inability to confront protesters and offered correspondingly different solutions. Those who identified low salaries as the cause called for tax exemptions and increasing the government’s budget for the security services. Those who identified the security forces’ declining ideological attachment to the regime as the cause called for the relevant political and cultural institutions to increase their ideological efforts. Several officials stated that the above issues within the regime’s security and intelligence services were unprecedented in the history of the Islamic Republic. Others, including Khamenei, believed the reports were exaggerated and that regime officials should instead focus on the degree to which the services were both prepared and ideologically inclined to confront protesters. CTP previously assessed and reported on numerous occasions that the regime was internally split over the cause and extent of the security forces’ inability and unwillingness to crack down on protests.[16]The document included some information that CTP has not previously observed in the open-source information space. Khatam ol Anbia Central Headquarters Commander Major General Gholam Ali Rashid reported that the security services had thwarted plans by rogue elements to shell the Supreme Leader’s office and personal residence. If true, this event would be far beyond any level of internal mutiny that CTP has previously assessed or reported.Various regime actors continue to portray the economy differently. The Iranian rial depreciated nearly five percent from 471,000 rials to one US dollar on March 17 to 494,000 rials to one US dollar on March 20.[17] Parliamentarian Ahmad Alireza Beygi stated on March 18 that the Raisi administration “has lost its ability to control the market.”[18] Parliamentarian Morteza Mahmoudvand similarly stated on March 20 that “not only are the poor suffering from economic pressures today, but the middle class is also experiencing serious damage.”[19]President Ebrahim Raisi and his circle have contrastingly continued to tout their purported “economic achievements.” He stated during the opening ceremony of the second phase of an oil refinery in Abadan, Khuzestan Province on March 20 that Iran’s economy grew four percent in the past year.[20] Raisi added that the second phase of the refinery has created between 7,000 and 15,000 jobs.[21] Oil Minister Javad Owji separately praised the administration for completing the Abadan Oil Refinery project—which he stated the Hassan Rouhani administration left “half-finished.”[22]Key TakeawaysIranian security leaders have announced in recent days that they will resume enforcing the mandatory hijab law with a confrontational approach. The security leaders directing this more confrontational approach may have won the intra-regime debate against more moderate figures over how to enforce the hijab law.Anti-regime outlets have published purported internal regime meeting notes detailing observations consistent with CTP’s previous assessments about intra-regime fractures and major problems within the security services during the Masha Amini protests.Various regime actors continue to portray the economy differently.At least two protests occurred on March 18, three protests on March 19, and five protests on March 20.Internal Security and Protest ActivityAt least two protests occurred in two cities across two provinces on March 18. CTP assesses with moderate to high confidence that protests occurred in the following cities:Tehran City, Tehran Province[23]Size: SmallDemographic: Individuals advocating for the disabledCTP assesses with low confidence that protests occurred in the following cities:Sanandaj, Kurdistan Province[24]Size: SmallDemographic: Taxi drivers on strike At least three protests occurred in three cities across one province on March 19. CTP assesses with moderate to high confidence that protests occurred in the following cities:Shoush, Khuzestan Province[25]Size: SmallDemographic: RetireesAhvaz, Khuzestan Province[26]Size: SmallDemographic: RetireesShoushtar, Khuzestan Province [27]Size: SmallDemographic: RetireesAt least five protests occurred in five cities across two provinces on March 20. CTP assesses with moderate to high confidence that protests occurred in the following cities:Sanandaj, Kurdistan Province[28]Size: Small to mediumDemographic: Individuals chanting anti-regime slogans during Nowrouz celebrationsSaghez, Kurdistan Province[29]Size: SmallDemographic: Individuals chanting anti-regime slogans during Nowrouz celebrationsMarivan, Kurdistan Province[30]Size: SmallDemographic: Individuals chanting anti-regime slogans during Nowrouz celebrationsBoukan, West Azerbaijan Province[31]Size: Small to mediumDemographic: Individuals chanting anti-regime slogans during Nowrouz celebrationsPiranshahr, West Azerbaijan Province[32]Size: SmallDemographic: Individuals chanting anti-regime slogans during Nowrouz celebrationsThe LEC discovered and neutralized a car bomb in Tehran Province on March 17.[33] The vehicle owner reportedly noticed an explosive underneath the car and called the police. Using an explosive in this manner is typically meant to kill a vehicle operator rather than nearby individuals. Iranian state media reported that the vehicle owner does not have “any important executive responsibilities in government agencies.”President Ebrahim Raisi continued emphasizing the need to indoctrinate the population during a meeting with Rahian-e Nour tourists in Khuzestan Province on March 20.[34] The term Rahian-e Nour—meaning “Passengers of Light” in Persian—refers to regime-organized tours of Iran-Iraq War battlefields. Such tours are particularly common around Nowrouz. Raisi framed these tours and related services as critical to countering Western cultural influence. Raisi also called on artists and cinema workers to focus more on portraying “martyrs” from the Iran-Iraq War. These statements are related to the regime’s ”explanation jihad”—a term coined by regime officials that means using propaganda to ideologize the population and increase public support for the Islamic Republic.Foreign Policy and DiplomacyForeign Affairs Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian engaged Turkey for a second time in recent weeks likely over Iranian security concerns in Azerbaijan. Abdollahian held a phone call with Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on March 17, during which the two discussed Iran-Azerbaijan relations.[35] The two previously discussed Israeli involvement in the Caucasus in a meeting on March 8, as CTP previously reported.[36] Regime officials have repeatedly in recent months expressed concern about an alleged Israeli intelligence presence in Azerbaijan and called for Baku to reject cooperation with Israel.[37] Regime officials may seek to persuade Turkey to address their concerns vis-a-vis Azerbaijan after they have failed to resolve these issues with Baku directly. Abdollahian and Cavusoglu additionally discussed the normalization of ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia during the March 17 phone call.Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani discussed security and economic cooperation during an official visit to Iraq on March 19. Shamkhani met Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammad Shia al Sudani and National Security Adviser Qassem al Araji, among others.[38] Shamkhani and Araji signed an agreement to address Iranian security concerns in Iraqi Kurdistan.[39] Regime officials have repeatedly accused anti-regime militant groups and Israel of using Iraqi Kurdistan to facilitate operations into Iran. Central Bank Governor Mohammad Reza Farzin accompanied Shamkhani and discussed financial cooperation and accelerating Iraq’s payments to Iran during the visit.[40]Presidential Deputy Chief of Staff for Political Affairs Mohammad Jamshidi tweeted on March 19 that President Ebrahim Raisi has accepted an invitation from Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz to pay an official visit to Riyadh.[41] Jamshidi added that they would discuss increasing economic and regional cooperation during the visit.Parliamentarian Elham Azad stated on March 19 that Iran and Bahrain are working to reopen embassies with one another.[42] Azad also stated that Bahrain will invite Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf for an official visit. Azad was part of an Iranian delegation that attended the 146th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Manama on March 11-15.Senior officials from the Strategic Foreign Relations Council are conducting an official visit to Syria. Council Chairman Kamal Kharrazi and Secretary Abbas Araghchi arrived in Damascus on March 19.[43] They plan to meet Syrian President Bashar al Assad, Foreign Affairs Minister Faisal Mekdad, and Religious Endowments Minister Mohammad Abdul Sattar. The Strategic Foreign Relations Council serves as an advisory board to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Kharrazi has occasionally served as a personal envoy of Khamenei as well.External Security and Military AffairsIRGC Quds Force Commander Brigadier General Esmail Ghaani visited Aleppo and Latakia on March 17.[44] Iranian state media reported that Ghaani oversaw earthquake relief shipments. Iran has reportedly moved weapons shipments into Syria under the guise of humanitarian, as CTP previously reported.[45] Ghaani previously visited Aleppo and Latakia to meet with Syrian, Iraqi proxy, Lebanese Hezbollah, and possibly Russian officials in early February 2023.[46]Iraqi Interior Minister Abdul al Shammari chaired a meeting with security officials affiliated with Iranian proxies in Diyala province on March 20.[47] The meeting included Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) Diyala Operations Commander Talib al Musawi, PMF-affiliated Army Chief of Staff Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah, Asaib Ahl al Haq (AAH)-affiliated Diyala Police Chief Major General Alaa al Zubaidi, and Nouri al Maliki-affiliated Iraqi Joint Operations Deputy Commander Qais al Mohammadawi. The PMF deployed four additional Badr brigades to Diyala province on March 16 under the pretext of additional security for Nowrouz.[48] Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al Sudani deployed Iraqi Security Forces to Diyala province following a series of likely Badr Organization-affiliated killings. Iranian proxy-affiliated leadership has since worked to retain control of security operations and Diyala province under the PMF independent of Sudani.The Iraqi parliament passed several amendments to electoral reform laws on March 20.[49] Parliament passed an amendment stipulating that individuals with prior misdemeanor or felony corruption convictions are barred from running for office.[50] The Parliamentary Integrity Committee under Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammad Shia al Sudani’s administration has abused corruption charges to target and arrest former officials under the Mostafa al Kadhimi government and would likely use the amendment to further marginalize political opponents.[51] Parliament did not vote on amendments backed by former Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki and the Shia Coalition Framework—a loose coalition of Iranian-backed Iraqi Shia political parties—that would reverse election reforms from 2019 during the March 20 session.[52] These proposed amendments would marginalize independent and minority political parties in favor of Maliki‘s State of Law Coalition. Iraqi activist groups have called for protests in Iraq if Parliament passes Maliki's proposed election laws.[53] Parliament is expected to vote on the remaining election laws on April 1.[54][1] https://www dot entekhab dot ir/fa/news/719481[2] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-17-2023#_edn41cec11b4af62645f1182d8de47bc4476[3] http://www dot ensafnews dot com/405357/خط-و-نشان-رادان-برای-مسافران-بدحجاب-شما/https://www dot irna dot ir/news/85060676/سردار-رادان-تدابیر-انتظامی-برای-سفرهای-نوروزی-هموطنان-اندیشیده[4] https://www dot irna dot ir/news/85056960/%D8%A8%D9%87-%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%B2-%D9%86%D8%A8%D9%88%D8%AF%D9%86-%D9%82%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C%D9%86-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D9%85%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%AC%D9%87%D9%87-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D9%85%D8%B4%DA%A9%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D9%85%D9%88%D8%AC%D8%A8-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%B2-%D8%A8%DB%8C-%D8%AD%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%A8%DB%8C-%D8%B4%D8%AF%D9%87-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA[5] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-15-2023[6] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-15-2023https://twitter.com/IranIntl/status/1621519442202218498[7] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/iran-crisis-update-january-10-2023[8] https://www dot irna dot ir/news/85056960/%D8%A8%D9%87-%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%B2-%D9%86%D8%A8%D9%88%D8%AF%D9%86-%D9%82%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C%D9%86-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D9%85%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%AC%D9%87%D9%87-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D9%85%D8%B4%DA%A9%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D9%85%D9%88%D8%AC%D8%A8-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%B2-%D8%A8%DB%8C-%D8%AD%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%A8%DB%8C-%D8%B4%D8%AF%D9%87-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA[9] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-october-2https://www.radiofarda.com/a/32037877.html[10] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-october-2#_ednd7042536a90546dd47f65d6734dc51fe8https://www.radiofarda.com/a/nouri-hamedani-urge-government-listen-people/32051386.html[11] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/mar/20/iran-rights-violations-crime-against-humanity-un-expert[12] https://iranwire dot com/fa/features/114903-%D8%A7%D8%AE%D8%AA%D8%B5%D8%A7%D8%B5%DB%8C-%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%B1-%D8%AA%D8%B1%D8%B3-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D9%81%D8%B1%D9%88%D9%BE%D8%A7%D8%B4%DB%8C-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%AC%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%87-%D8%B3%D8%B1%DB%8C-%D9%81%D8%B1%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AF%D9%87%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%B3%D9%BE%D8%A7%D9%87-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D8%AE%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%86%D9%87%D8%A7%DB%8C/ ; https://www.iranintl dot com/202303206758 ; https://www.iranintl dot com/en/202303192652[13] https://t.me/Vaghte_Azadi/155[14] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-september-29 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-october-13; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-october-14 ;https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-october-30[15] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-october-30[16] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-september-30 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-october-2 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-november-3 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-november-10 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-november-18 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-november-19; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-november-28 ; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-november-30[17] https://bonbast dot com/[18] https://www dot entekhab dot ir/fa/news/719444/%D8%B9%D9%84%DB%8C%D8%B1%D8%B6%D8%A7-%D8%A8%DB%8C%DA%AF%DB%8C-%D9%86%D9%85%D8%A7%DB%8C%D9%86%D8%AF%D9%87-%D9%85%D8%AC%D9%84%D8%B3-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D8%AF%D9%87%D9%87-%DB%B7%DB%B0-%D8%AA%D8%A7-%D8%A8%D9%87-%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%B2-%DB%B2%DB%B8%DB%B0-%D9%85%DB%8C%D9%84%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%AF-%D8%AF%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%AB%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%AA-%D8%A7%DB%8C%D9%86-%DA%A9%D8%B4%D9%88%D8%B1-%D8%B1%D8%A7-%D8%A8%D9%87-%D8%A8%D9%87%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%87-%DA%A9%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%84-%D9%82%DB%8C%D9%85%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%B2-%D8%A8%D9%87-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B2%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%B1%DB%8C%D8%AE%D8%AA%D9%87%E2%80%8C%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AF-%D8%A7%D9%81%D8%B2%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%B4-%D9%82%DB%8C%D9%85%D8%AA-%DA%AF%D9%88%D8%B4%D8%AA-%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%A8%D9%84-%D9%BE%DB%8C%D8%B4%E2%80%8C%D8%A8%DB%8C%D9%86%DB%8C-%D8%A8%D9%88%D8%AF-%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84%D8%AA-%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%A7%DB%8C%DB%8C-%DA%A9%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%84-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B2%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%B1%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D8%AF%D8%B3%D8%AA-%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%AF%D9%87-%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84%D8%AA-%D8%AA%D8%B5%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%B4-%D8%A7%DB%8C%D9%86-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA-%DA%A9%D9%87-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D9%86%D9%88%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D9%82%DB%8C%D9%85%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%B2-%DA%A9%D8%B3%D8%B1%DB%8C%E2%80%8C%D9%87%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%AE%D9%88%D8%AF%D8%B4-%D8%B1%D8%A7-%D8%AC%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%85%DB%8C%E2%80%8C%DA%A9%D9%86%D8%AF-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%B5%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%AA%DB%8C-%DA%A9%D9%87-%D9%85%D8%B1%D8%AF%D9%85-%D8%B2%D9%86%D8%AF%DA%AF%DB%8C-%D8%B4%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%B1%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D8%AF%D8%B3%D8%AA-%D9%85%DB%8C%E2%80%8C%D8%AF%D9%87%D9%86%D8%AF-%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B4%DB%8C%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%82%D8%AA%D8%B5%D8%A7%D8%AF-%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84%D8%AA-%D8%AE%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%A8-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%A7-%D9%81%D9%82%D8%B7-%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%AF%D9%87%E2%80%8C%D8%A7%D8%B4-%D8%B1%D8%A7-%D8%B9%D9%88%D8%B6-%D9%85%DB%8C%E2%80%8C%DA%A9%D9%86%D9%86%D8%AF[19] https://www dot entekhab dot ir/fa/news/719681/%D9%85%D8%AD%D9%85%D9%88%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%86%D8%AF%D9%86%D9%85%D8%A7%DB%8C%D9%86%D8%AF%D9%87-%D9%85%D8%AC%D9%84%D8%B3-%D8%AE%D8%B7%D8%B1-%D8%AC%D8%AF%DB%8C-%DA%A9%D8%B4%D9%88%D8%B1-%D8%B3%D9%88%D9%BE%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%82%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%A8%DB%8C%E2%80%8C%D9%87%D8%A7-%D9%88-%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%82%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%A8%DB%8C%E2%80%8C%D9%86%D9%85%D8%A7-%D9%87%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%86%D8%AF-%D9%86%D9%87-%D8%A7%D9%BE%D9%88%D8%B2%DB%8C%D8%B3%DB%8C%D9%88%D9%86%E2%80%8C[20] https://www dot irna dot ir/news/85062295/%D8%B1%D8%A6%DB%8C%D8%B3%DB%8C-%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%B3%D8%B9%D9%87-%D9%BE%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%B4%DA%AF%D8%A7%D9%87-%D8%A2%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AF%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%86%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%AF-%D9%85%D8%A7-%D9%85%DB%8C-%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C%D9%85-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA-%D8%B1%D8%B4%D8%AF-%DA%86%D9%87%D8%A7%D8%B1[21] https://www dot irna dot ir/news/85062295/%D8%B1%D8%A6%DB%8C%D8%B3%DB%8C-%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%B3%D8%B9%D9%87-%D9%BE%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%B4%DA%AF%D8%A7%D9%87-%D8%A2%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AF%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%86%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%AF-%D9%85%D8%A7-%D9%85%DB%8C-%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C%D9%85-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA-%D8%B1%D8%B4%D8%AF-%DA%86%D9%87%D8%A7%D8%B1[22] https://www dot irna dot ir/news/85062233/%D9%88%D8%B2%DB%8C%D8%B1-%D9%86%D9%81%D8%AA-%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%B3%D8%A7%D8%AE%D8%AA-%D9%BE%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%B4%DA%AF%D8%A7%D9%87-%D9%86%D9%81%D8%AA-%D9%88-%DA%AF%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D8%A8%D9%87-%D8%AE%D9%88%D8%AF%DA%A9%D9%81%D8%A7%DB%8C%DB%8C-%D8%B1%D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%AF%D9%87[23] https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1637018013902811138?cxt=HHwWhMC9mbvN7bctAAAA ; https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1637031005247733762?cxt=HHwWhIC8odTB87ctAAAA ; https://twitter.com/RadioFarda_/status/1637042667904438274?cxt=HHwWhMDQ6cHo-LctAAAA[24] https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1637026942946889728?cxt=HHwWgMC-4ZnV8bctAAAA ; https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1637161670509297664?cxt=HHwWgIC8qbD3rrgtAAAA ;[25] https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1637397936760930304?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1637398306560016384?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1637375389835091968?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/RadioFarda_/status/1637388648160145409?s=20 ;[26] https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1637398742969065473?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1637453609062236160?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/RadioFarda_/status/1637471290796789763?s=20 ;[27] https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1637408590293024770?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1637424426349101057?s=20 ;[28] https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1637857477248049159?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1637857187312861184?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1637850880148922369?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1637863174912237574?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1637890287686000666?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1637887830675300352?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1637871386361225246?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/RadioFarda_/status/1637888448294944768?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/RadioFarda_/status/1637867298542215173?s=20[29] https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1637849958593224709?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/RadioFarda_/status/1637856125130268690?s=20[30] https://twitter.com/RadioFarda_/status/1637865821895548929?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/RadioFarda_/status/1637855052869034003?s=20[31] https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1637862273250123777?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/RadioFarda_/status/1637892850552545284?s=20[32] https://twitter.com/RadioFarda_/status/1637906075813834753?cxt=HHwWgsCzhby5gbstAAAA ; https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1637873084735602690?cxt=HHwWhIC2rZG58rotAAAA[33] www.farsnews dot ir/news/14011226000525[34] www.president dot ir/fa/143057[35] https://mfa dot ir/portal/NewsView/714517[36] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-8-2023[37] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-october-19#_edn303192e9c707d78645908acfcbac955f7568b4cdd961552f91743df3079a6228ref2; https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/energy/azerbaijan-iran-and-rising-tensions-in-the-caucasus/2023/02/07/f2f65480-a6b0-11ed-b2a3-edb05ee0e313_story.html[38] www.nournews dot ir/fa/news/137592[39] www.nournews dot ir/fa/news/137589[40] https://www.irna dot ir/news/85062150[41] https://twitter.com/MhmmdJamshidi/status/1637447774651260931?s=20[42] www.mehrnews dot com/news/5736326[43] www.entekhab dot ir/fa/news/719684[44] https://www.tasnimnews dot com/fa/news/1401/12/26/2869102[45] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-february-17-2023[46] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-february-16-2023[47] https://t.co/Twaz5CN8Dh ;https://www.ninanews dot com/Website/News/Details?key=1041578[48] https://al-hashed dot gov.iq/archives/168553[49] https://iq.parliament dot iq/blog/2023/03/20/%d9%85%d8%ac%d9%84%d8%b3-%d8%a7%d9%84%d9%86%d9%88%d8%a7%d8%a8-%d9%8a%d8%a8%d8%a7%d8%b4%d8%b1-%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%aa%d8%b5%d9%88%d9%8a%d8%aa-%d8%b9%d9%84%d9%89-%d9%82%d8%a7%d9%86%d9%88%d9%86-%d8%a7%d9%86/ ;https://shafaq dot com/ar/%D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%A9/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A8%D8%B1%D9%84%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%8A%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%86-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%83%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%B5%D9%88%D9%8A%D8%AA-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89-%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D8%A8%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85-%D9%82%D8%A8%D9%84 ;https://www dot alaraby.co.uk/politics/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A8%D8%B1%D9%84%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%82%D9%8A-%D9%8A%D8%B5%D9%88%D8%AA-%D8%AC%D8%B2%D8%A6%D9%8A%D8%A7%D9%8B-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89-%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%AB%D9%8A%D8%B1-%D9%84%D9%84%D8%AC%D8%AF%D9%84 ;[50] https://shafaq dot com/ar/%D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%A9/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A8%D8%B1%D9%84%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%8A%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%86-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%83%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%B5%D9%88%D9%8A%D8%AA-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89-%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D8%A8%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85-%D9%82%D8%A8%D9%84 ;https://www.alaraby dot co.uk/politics/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A8%D8%B1%D9%84%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%82%D9%8A-%D9%8A%D8%B5%D9%88%D9%91%D8%AA-%D8%AC%D8%B2%D8%A6%D9%8A%D8%A7%D9%8B-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89-%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%AB%D9%8A%D8%B1-%D9%84%D9%84%D8%AC%D8%AF%D9%84 ;[51] https://www.al-monitor.com/originals/2022/11/will-iraqs-new-anti-corruption-campaign-succeed[52] https://shafaq dot com/ar/%D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%A9/%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%88%D9%8A-%D9%8A%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%B3%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%AF%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%8A-%D9%88%D8%B5%D9%84%D9%86%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%89-%D8%B7%D8%B1%D9%8A%D9%82-%D9%8A%D9%83%D8%A7%D8%AF-%D9%8A%D9%83%D9%88%D9%86-%D9%85%D8%B3%D8%AF%D9%88%D8%AF%D8%A7[53] https://shafaq dot com/ar/%D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%A9/%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%84%D8%AC%D9%86%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%B1%D9%83%D8%B2%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%84%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%AD%D8%AA%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%AC-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D8%B9%D8%A8%D9%8A-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%82-%D8%AA%D8%AA%D9%81%D9%82-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%B5%D8%B9%D9%8A%D8%AF-%D9%84%D8%B1%D9%81%D8%B6-%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA-%D9%84%D9%8A%D8%BA%D9%88[54] https://shafaq dot com/ar/%D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%A9/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A8%D8%B1%D9%84%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%8A%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%86-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%83%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%B5%D9%88%D9%8A%D8%AA-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89-%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D8%A8%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85-%D9%82%D8%A8%D9%84 ;

[Author: Institute for the Study of War] [Category: Iran]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 3/25/23 10:46am
Riley Bailey, Angela Howard, Karolina Hird, Nicole Wolkov, Layne Philipson, George Barros, and Frederick W. KaganMarch 20, 6:45pm ETClick here to see ISW’s interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.Click here to access ISW’s archive of interactive time-lapse maps of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These maps complement the static control-of-terrain maps that ISW produces daily by showing a dynamic frontline. ISW will update this time-lapse map archive monthly.Russian forces made marginal gains in and around Bakhmut amid a reported increase in the tempo of Russian operations around Avdiivka. Russian forces likely made additional gains in southwestern and northern Bakhmut as well as northwest of Bakhmut between Bohdanivka and Khromove as of March 20.[1] The Ukrainian General Staff reported on March 19 that Russian troops attacked toward Berdychi (10km northwest of Avdiivka), which indicates that Russian forces likely advanced west of Krasnohorivka (9km north of Avdiivka) and captured Stepove (just west of Krasnohorivka).[2] Russian forces are likely increasing the tempo of operations north of Avdiivka in an effort to set conditions for the encirclement of the settlement and are reportedly employing a greater number of aviation units in the area to support these operations.[3] Avdiivka Mayor Vitaly Barabash told AFP News on March 20 that Russian forces are increasingly using Kh-59, Kh-101, Kh-555, and S-300 missiles in the Avdiivka area.[4] A Ukrainian military spokesperson stated on March 20 that Russian forces have lost about three unspecified companies (likely referring to infantry) in assaults on Avdiivka since March 19.[5] ISW previously reported that this increased tempo of Russian operations in the Avdiivka area has reportedly led to major losses and is likely a misguided effort to pull Ukrainian forces away from other areas of the front.[6] ISW has not observed Russian forces arraying substantial combat power along the outskirts of Donetsk City, and it is unlikely that Russian forces will be able to sustain this temporary increased tempo. ISW assesses that the overall Russian spring offensive is likely approaching culmination, and Russian forces may be intensifying efforts to make even marginal gains before they lose the initiative in Ukraine.[7] It remains possible that Russian advances could prompt Ukraine to withdraw from Bakhmut and/or Avdiivka although neither appears likely at this time.Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on March 20 and offered a more reserved vision for Russian-Chinese relations than what Putin was likely seeking. Xi and Putin touted the strength of Chinese-Russian relations in their meeting on March 20, but offered differing interpretations of the scale of future relations in articles they published on March 19.[8] Putin published an article in Chinese state media in which he argued that Russia and China are building a partnership for the formation of a multipolar world order in the face of the collective West’s seeking of domination and the United States pursuing a policy of dual containment against China and Russia.[9] Xi offered a less aggressive overarching goal for Russian-Chinese relations in his article published in Russian state media outlet Rossiskaya Gazeta, in which he noted that Russia and China are generally pursuing a multipolar world order but not specifically against an adversarial West.[10] Xi instead focused heavily on presenting China as a viable third-party mediator to the war in Ukraine whose plan for negotiations ”reflects the unity of views of the world community on overcoming the Ukrainian crisis.”[11] Putin wrote that Russia welcomes China’s willingness to ”play a constructive role in crisis management” regarding the war in Ukraine, but Putin likely was hoping for Xi to adopt a similarly aggressive rhetorical line against the West.[12]Xi’s refusal to explicitly align China with Russia in Putin’s envisioned geopolitical conflict with the West is a notable departure from China’s declared “no limits partnership” with Russia preceding the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.[13] Xi’s rhetoric suggests that he is not inclined to fully give Russia the economic and political support that Russia needs to reverse setbacks in Ukraine. Putin and Xi offered somewhat similar visions for increased Chinese-Russian economic partnership, and it is likely that the two will sign bilateral trade and economic agreements during Xi’s visit, some of which will likely aim to facilitate schemes for sanctions evasion.[14] Xi will also likely offer a more concrete proposal for a negotiated settlement to the war in Ukraine, although it remains unclear what his proposal will entail and how receptive the Kremlin will be to it. The prospects of China supplying Russia with military equipment also remain unclear.Putin is likely increasing his attempts to rhetorically rally the rest of the world against the West, although it remains unlikely that he will achieve decisive effects through this effort. Putin attended the International Parliamentary Conference “Russia-Africa in a Multipolar World” on March 20 and stated that Russia and states in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America uphold the norms of social principles, morality, and traditions and oppose neo-colonial ideology.[15] Putin’s depiction of an envisioned Chinese-Russian axis against the West and his comments at the conference likely amount to an intensified proposal to non-aligned countries to form a defined anti-Western bloc. Putin likely hoped that Xi would offer a similar vision to augment this proposal, and Xi’s refusal to do so likely weakens the impacts of Putin’s efforts. The attractiveness of a potential anti-Western Chinese-Russian-based geopolitical bloc lies more with China’s economic and political power than with Russia’s declining economic strength and its military power badly degraded by fighting in Ukraine. Russia’s ongoing diplomatic efforts to generate support for its war in Ukraine continue to produce few tangible results, and an intensified effort to rally the rest of the world against the West will not likely be more effective.Wagner Group Financier Yevgeny Prigozhin appears to maintain powerful political leverage and regional connections within Russia despite some officials’ attempts to distance themselves from the Wagner Group. Prigozhin claimed on March 20 that Krasnodar Krai Governor Veniamin Kondratyev personally invited a Wagner representative to Krasnodar Krai, overruled local refusals to bury Wagner mercenaries, and informed the representative that the Wagner Group will face no further obstacles burying its dead.[16] Prigozhin on March 18 claimed that authorities in Goryachiy Klyuch, Krasnodar Krai, reneged on an agreement to bury Wagner personnel.[17] A Goryachiy Klyuch official initially told a Wagner representative that Kondratyev stripped him of authority to cooperate with Wagner, which ISW assessed as an indicator of weakening connections between Prigozhin and regional officials.[18] Prigozhin’s ability to reach out to Kondratyev directly and resolve the situation suggests that his leverage in the krai remains strong. Goryachiy Klyuch officials’ initial refusal to bury Wagner mercenaries and ongoing clashes between Prigozhin and St. Petersburg officials over Wagner burials indicate that some authorities do seek to distance themselves from Wagner PMC, however. [19]Russian authorities are likely unsure of how to redefine Wagner’s new role following Prigozhin’s overextension of Wagner resources and support. The destruction of Wagner forces near Bakhmut is likely forcing Prigozhin and Russian officials to reconsider the role of Wagner while Prigozhin works to rebuild his forces. Several news sources reported on March 20 that Russian political party “A Just Russia – for Truth” leader Sergey Mironov publicly advocated for the legalization of private military companies – such as the Wagner Group – and proposed that the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) take control of their oversight, which would likely be a major limitation on Prigozhin’s current freedoms as Wagner’s financier.[20] A Wagner-affiliated milblogger on March 19 accused the Russian MoD of sabotaging Wagner efforts to replenish its ranks in Ukraine with Wagner fighters from further abroad by canceling military transport flights.[21] If true, this report would suggest that the Russian MoD is attempting to prevent Wagner from regaining political leverage and rebuilding its military capabilities in Ukraine while maintaining Wagner’s role abroad. Prigozhin himself appears to be taking every opportunity to increase his media relevance and maintain the Wagner Group’s prominence in the process. Prigozhin has publicized an array of statements picking fights with local officials, amplifying disputes over Wagner burials, commenting on the expansion of Russian censorship laws, commemorating the alleged one-year anniversary of Wagner involvement in Ukraine, and more since March 18 alone.[22]The Russian information space continues to respond to the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s issuance of arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Commissioner on Children’s Rights Maria Lvova-Belova with ire and anxiety. Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov claimed on March 20 that the Kremlin is “calm” about Putin’s arrest warrant and called its issuance “outrageous and unacceptable.”[23] The Russian Investigative Committee, however, opened a criminal case against ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan and several ICC judges on March 20, indicating that Russian leadership feels the need to posture proactively in its response to the ICC despite promises that the arrest warrants are meaningless in the eyes of the Russian government.[24] Russian Security Council Deputy Head Dmitry Medvedev relatedly threatened a missile strike against the ICC and suggested that ”it is quite possible to imagine the point of application of a hypersonic missile carrier from the North Sea from a Russian ship to the Hague courthouse.”[25] Medvedev has notably made continuous inflammatory and escalated threats against the collective West, and his threats should not be taken as more than aggressive informational posturing on the part of the Kremlin.[26] The range of ostensibly diverging Russian responses to the ICC arrest warrants suggests that this event will likely remain a point of neuralgia in the Russian information space and will likely lead to continued legislative and informational responses.Ukrainian Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Spokesperson Andriy Yusov stated on March 20 that the frequency of large Russian missile attacks has decreased. Yusov stated that Russia does not have many Kalibr, Iskander, and Kinzhal missiles left, but still has many S-300 surface-to-air missiles.[27] ISW previously assessed that Russian forces continue to deplete their missile arsenal and may constrain how often and at what scale to conduct missile strikes but will likely continue to threaten Ukrainian critical infrastructure and civilians.[28]Russia requested that the UN Security Council discuss Israeli airstrikes in Syria possibly in retaliation for Israel’s approval of export licenses for anti-drone jamming systems for Ukraine. Israeli news outlet The Times of Israel reported on March 18 that Russia’s UN representative told the UN Security Council that Israel’s airstrikes in Syria must stop.[29] An Israeli official claimed that Israel had not expected Russia to call for the discussion and feared that Russia would promote a resolution against Israel. Russia’s comments about Israeli airstrikes in Syria occurred after Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen notified Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky about the approval of the export licenses on Cohen’s visit to Ukraine on March 15.[30]Key TakeawaysChinese President Xi Jinping met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow and offered a more reserved vision for Russian-Chinese relations than Putin likely desires.Putin is likely increasing his attempts to rally the rest of the world against the West, although it remains unlikely that he will achieve decisive effects in this effort.Wagner Group Financier Yevgeny Prigozhin appears to maintain powerful political leverage and regional connections despite some officials’ attempts to distance themselves. Russian authorities are likely unsure of how to redefine Wagner’s new role following Prigozhin’s overextension of Wagner resources and support.The Russian information space continues to respond to the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s issuance of arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Commissioner on Children’s Rights Maria Lvova-Belova with ire and anxiety.Ukrainian Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Spokesperson Andriy Yusov stated that the frequency of large Russian missile attacks has decreased.Russia requested that the UN Security Council discuss Israeli airstrikes in Syria possibly in retaliation for Israel’s approval of export licenses for anti-drone jamming systems for Ukraine.Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian and Russian forces conducted offensive operations northeast of Kupyansk.Russian forces continued offensive operations near Svatove and Kreminna.Russian forces continued making advances in and around Bakhmut.Russian forces continued ground attacks along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City frontline and made marginal gains near Avdiivka.Russian sources claim that Russian forces are building up defensive fortifications and repelled Ukrainian reconnaissance-in-force operations in Zaporizhia Oblast.Russian sources accused unknown actors of planting a bomb that exploded near a gas pipeline in occupied Simferopol, Crimea.Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledged Russian difficulties obtaining components for high-tech industrial production.Ukrainian partisans killed Russian-appointed head of the Kherson Oblast pre-detention center Serhii Moskalenko with an improvised explosive device on March 17.We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because those activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We will continue to evaluate and report on the effects of these criminal activities on the Ukrainian military and population and specifically on combat in Ukrainian urban areas. We utterly condemn these Russian violations of the laws of armed conflict, Geneva Conventions, and humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.Russian Main Effort—Eastern Ukraine (comprised of two subordinate main efforts)Russian Subordinate Main Effort #1—Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and encircle northern Donetsk OblastRussian Subordinate Main Effort #2—Capture the entirety of Donetsk OblastRussian Supporting Effort—Southern AxisRussian Mobilization and Force Generation EffortsActivities in Russian-occupied AreasRussian Main Effort—Eastern UkraineRussian Subordinate Main Effort #1— Luhansk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and continue offensive operations into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and northern Donetsk Oblast)Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian and Russian forces conducted offensive operations northeast of Kupyansk on March 19 and 20. Russian Western Grouping of Forces Spokesperson Sergey Zybinsky claimed on March 20 that Russian forces repelled a Ukrainian assault near Hryanykivka (14km northeast of Kupyansk) and that unspecified artillery elements operating in the area of responsibility of the 6th Combined Arms Army (Western Military District) destroyed three Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance groups near Hryanykivka, Vilshana (12km northeast of Kupyansk), and Pershotravneve (20km east of Kupyansk).[31] Zybinsky claimed that Russian forces destroyed another two Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance groups near Hryanykivka and Orlianka (22km east of Kupyansk) on March 19.[32] A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces advanced near Hryanykivka on March 18 and 19 and that Ukrainian forces withdrew forces to the west (right) side of the Oskil River, although ISW has not seen visual confirmation of these claims.[33]Russian forces continued offensive operations near Svatove on March 19 and 20. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations near Novoselivske (15km northwest of Svatove) on March 19 and 20.[34] Geolocated footage published on March 20 indicates that Russian forces likely made marginal gains north of Novoselivske close to the N-26 highway.[35] Zybinksy claimed that elements of the 1st Guards Tank Army (Western Military District) disrupted Ukrainian force rotations at forward positions near Kotlyarivka (27km northwest of Svatove) and Stelmakhivka (16km west of Svatove) on March 20.[36]Russian forces continued offensive operations in the Kreminna area on March 19 and 20. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations near Kreminna and within 25km south of Kreminna near Dibrova, Bilohorivka, Verkhnokamianske, and Spirne.[37] Geolocated footage published on March 20 indicates that Russian forces likely advanced to the outskirts of Makiivka (22km northwest of Kreminna).[38] Geolocated footage published on March 19 indicates that Russian forces likely made marginal gains southwest of Ploshchanka (17km northwest of Kreminna).[39] Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces advanced west of Chervonopopivka (6km north of Kreminna) and conducted unsuccessful assaults in the direction of Makiivka, Yampolivka (17km west of Kreminna), and Terny (17km west of Kreminna) on March 19 and 20.[40] Russian Subordinate Main Effort #2—Donetsk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)Russian forces continued making advances in and around Bakhmut on March 19 and 20. Geolocated footage posted on March 19 shows that Russian forces have advanced in southwestern Bakhmut just south of Korsunskoho Street, about 7km northwest of Bakhmut between Bohdanivka and Khromove, and in northern Bakhmut near the AZOM complex.[41] Geolocated footage posted on March 20 also indicates that Wagner forces have made advances near the Mariupolske Cemetary in southwestern Bakhmut.[42] Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed on March 20 that Wagner controls 70 percent of Bakhmut.[43] A Russian milblogger claimed on March 19 that Wagner Group forces are fighting at five points along the T0504 Kostyantynivka-Chasiv Yar-Bakhmut highway and advancing towards the road itself.[44] Russian milbloggers additionally claimed that Wagner made gains northwest of Bakhmut near Orikhovo-Vasylivka (10km northwest of Bakhmut) and towards Novomarkove (14km northwest of Bakhmut) between March 19 and 20.[45] Several Russian sources reported that Wagner has also advanced in central and southwestern Bakhmut and is fighting in the Avangard Stadium, 800m from the Bakhmut City Administration building.[46] Russian sources notably appear to be concerned about the prospect of Ukrainian counterattacks in Bakhmut, and several claimed that Ukrainian forces are amassing west of Bakhmut near Kostyantynivka and Chasiv Yar.[47] The Ukrainian General Staff reported on March 19 and 20 that Ukrainian troops repelled Russian attacks on Bakhmut itself; northwest of Bakhmut near Orikhovo-Vasylivka, Bohdanivka (6km northwest), and Hrykorivka (10km northwest); and west of Bakhmut near Ivanivske (5km west).[48]Russian forces continued ground attacks along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City frontline on March 19 and 20 and made marginal gains in the Avdiivka area as of March 20. The Ukrainian General Staff reported on March 19 that Russian troops attacked toward Berdychi (10km northwest of Avdiivka), which indicates that Russian forces likely advanced west of Krasnohorivka (9km north of Avdiivka) and captured Stepove (just west of Krasnohorivka) in order to launch attacks on Berdychi.[49] Geolocated footage posted on March 18 shows that Russian forces have advanced north of Avdiivka between Krasnohorivka and Kamianka.[50] Geolocated footage posted on March 19 additionally indicates that Russian forces have advanced near Vodyane, about 6km southwest of Avdiivka.[51] Russian milbloggers widely claimed that Russian forces are trying to bypass Avdiivka from the north along the Krasnohorivka-Stepove line and that Russian forces captured Kamianka (4km northeast of Avdiivka) on March 20.[52] Several Russian milbloggers additionally claimed that Russian forces have entered the southwestern outskirts of Avdiivka itself and are fighting near the Palace of Technology and Sports and in the 9th Quarter neighborhood, although a prominent milblogger emphasized that reports of fighting in Avdiivka are premature.[53] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations on March 19 and 20 near Avdiivka itself; in the Avdiivka area near Kamianka, Severne (5km west of Avdiivka), and Berdychi; on the northwestern outskirts of Donetsk City near Vodyane and Pervomaiske; and on the southwestern outskirts of Donetsk City near Marinka.[54] A milblogger posted footage of elements of the 20th Motorized Rifle Division (8th Combined Arms Army, Southern Military District) reportedly fighting near Marinka.[55]Russian forces did not conduct any confirmed ground attacks in western Donetsk City on March 19 or 20. Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces, namely naval infantry elements, once again tried to move on Ukrainian positions in southeastern Vuhledar (30km southwest of Donetsk City) from the dacha area near Mykilske.[56] The Russian Eastern Group of Forces spokesperson claimed on March 19 that Russian motorized rifle elements destroyed a Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance group near Novodariivka (eastern Zaporizhia Oblast, about 45km west of Vuhledar).[57] Supporting Effort—Southern Axis (Russian objective: Maintain frontline positions and secure rear areas against Ukrainian strikes)Russian sources claim that Russian forces repelled Ukrainian reconnaissance-in-force operations in Zaporizhia Oblast. Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces repelled Ukrainian reconnaissance-in-force operations near Charivne (20km west of Orikhiv), Novodanylivka (5km south of Orikhiv), Robotyne (15km south of Orikhiv), and Mala Tokmachka (10km southwest of Orikhiv) on March 19.[58] Milbloggers published footage on March 19 purportedly showing elements of the 291st Motorized Rifle Regiment (42nd Motorized Rifle Division, 58th Combined Arms Army, Southern Military District) repelling Ukrainian forces near Robotyne and Orikhiv.[59] It is unclear if this footage is from an earlier assault, possibly on March 15, however.[60] ISW previously reported that Ukrainian forces’ reconnaissance near Novodanylivka generated an unusually large response from Russian milbloggers despite the frequent occurrence of such actions on other areas of the frontline.[61]Russian sources claim that Russian forces attempt to use civilians to build defensive fortifications in occupied Zaporizhia Oblast and Crimea. Independent Russian news outlet Verstka reported on March 18 that Russian occupation authorities are recruiting civilians to build defenses and dig trenches in occupied Crimea and offering up to 7,000 rubles (about $90) per day, meals, and accommodations.[62] A Russian milblogger claimed on March 19 that civilian specialists have undertaken projects to strengthen defensive lines in Zaporizhia Oblast.[63] Russian occupation authorities’ efforts to use civilians to build fortifications could indicate that Russian forces are concerned about their ability to hold occupied territory but need to use military personnel in more immediate capacities.Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported on March 20 that explosions in occupied Dzhankoy, Crimea, destroyed a shipment of Kalibr cruise missiles being transported by train.[64] Russian sources reported explosions and a drone sighting in Dzhankoy prior to the GUR’s statement confirming the explosion.[65]Russian news aggregators claimed that unknown actors planted a bomb next to a gas pipeline in occupied Simferopol, Crimea causing an explosion and fire on March 19.[66] Russian news aggregators claimed that the explosion did not disrupt the gas supply or damage the pipeline infrastructure.[67]Russian forces conducted routine shelling in Zaporizhia, Kherson, Dnipropetrovsk, and Mykolaiv oblasts on March 19 and 20.[68]Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts (Russian objective: Expand combat power without conducting general mobilization)Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledged Russian difficulties obtaining components for high-tech industrial production – likely referring to electronics and microchips – in his address to the Collegium of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) on March 20. Putin argued that Russian industry will use import substitution to boost Russian domestic production, presenting the situation as a positive turn.[69] Russian defense-industrial base (DIB) production appears to continue to struggle, however.[70] Many Russians seek to address general shortages and outmaneuver Western sanctions through covert imports. A Russian milblogger claimed on March 18 that volunteers provisioning Russian forces import goods from Laos.[71] An aircraft tracker and image analyst on Twitter stated on March 19 that an Iranian cargo airline that consistently flies cargo sorties to Moscow sent another flight from Tehran to Moscow.[72] ISW has previously reported on similar Russian attempts to import foreign military and dual-use goods to fill shortages or reduce strain on the Russian DIB.[73]Russian authorities continue to crack down on limited domestic resistance to mobilization or to the war in Ukraine. A Russian opposition news source reported on March 17 that Russian federal state censoring agency Roskomnadzor blocked a website that aided Russians in evading mobilization.[74] Several Russian sources reported on March 18 and 20 that Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) detained two Saratov Oblast residents for committing an arson attack against the relay boxes at the Zorinsky-Trofimovsky-2 rail station in Saratov Oblast.[75] A prominent Russian milblogger claimed the men set fire to the relay boxes for a bounty from an unspecified actor.[76] A Russian activist group claimed on March 18 that unknown actors committed an arson attack against a relay box in Grelovo Raion in Saint Petersburg but failed to damage the inside controls.[77]Russian mobilized soldiers fighting in Donetsk Oblast and their families continue to appeal to Russian authorities, complain to their loved ones, and resist forward deployments due to poor conditions on the front lines. An independent Russian media outlet amplified footage on March 18 of mobilized soldiers from Saint Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast appealing to Russian President Vladimir Putin to do something about their extremely high casualty rate.[78] The soldiers claimed that they suffered a 70 percent casualty rate after their commanders ordered them to storm Avdiivka and that the commanders will send them to storm Avdiivka again all the same.[79] Radio Liberty’s Siberian branch, Siber Realii, on March 17 cited the friend of a mobilized soldier from Siberia claiming that the soldier’s battalion lost 298 of its 300 soldiers after conducting an assault on Avdiivka.[80] Siber Realii reported that a mobilized soldier from Volchikha, Altai Krai told his family on March 13 that he refused to fight further in Avdiivka after being thrown unprepared against Ukrainian defenses.[81]Russian authorities continue to conduct large-scale recruitment campaigns for contract soldiers.[82] Russian military registration and enlistment offices continue to summon men to “verify information,” likely attempting to pressure men into signing contracts and setting conditions for covert mobilization.[83]Activity in Russian-occupied Areas (Russian objective: consolidate administrative control of and annexed areas; forcibly integrate Ukrainian civilians into Russian sociocultural, economic, military, and governance systems)Ukrainian partisans killed a Russian collaborator in an improvised explosive device (IED) attack on March 17. Ukrainian sources and geolocated imagery confirmed on March 20 that Ukrainian partisans assassinated Russian-appointed head of the Kherson Oblast pre-detention center Serhii Moskalenko on March 17.[84] The Russian Investigative Committee claimed on March 19 that an unknown person planted an explosive device in the car of the Russian occupation law enforcement officer in occupied Yuvileine, Kherson Oblast, while he, his wife, and daughter were in the car.[85]Russian officials and occupation authorities continue to deport children and other vulnerable people to Russia under the guise of rehabilitation and safety efforts. Advisor to the Luhansk People's Republic (LNR) head Rodion Miroshnik claimed on March 20 that 10 Ukrainian children and their mothers or grandmothers arrived at a sanatorium in Moscow Oblast, where they will remain for three weeks.[86] Miroshnik emphasized that the project “Helping Ours” helps facilitate the travel and ensures that children and their mothers safely arrive in Russia and receive care from Russian doctors at the facility.[87] Miroshnik claimed that volunteers of the LNR and Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) have planned at least two upcoming trips for Donbas children and their mothers to Russia in an unspecified timeframe.[88] Miroshnik stated that crowdfunding efforts fund the trips to Russia.[89] Mariupol Mayoral Advisor Petro Andryushchenko stated that Russian occupation officials sent a large group of children from Mariupol to St. Petersburg on March 20, reportedly for vacation.[90] The Ukrainian Resistance Center reported on March 20 that Russian occupation forces threatened families in occupied Tokmak that Russian forces would take away their children if they did not receive Russian passports.[91]Russian officials are continuing efforts to intensify law enforcement measures in occupied territories. Russian President Vladimir Putin asked in a speech to Russian Ministry of International Affairs (MVD) personnel that MVD employees recruit personnel for territorial units in occupied Zaporizhia, Donetsk, and Luhansk oblasts.[92] Putin also called on the Russian MVD to supply the new units with special hardware and information equipment.[93] Putin also stated that Russian MVD employees are intensifying measures to counter crime on the Russia-Ukraine border even more vigorously.[94]Significant activity in Belarus (ISW assesses that a Russian or Belarusian attack into northern Ukraine in early 2023 is extraordinarily unlikely and has thus restructured this section of the update. It will no longer include counter-indicators for such an offensive.ISW will continue to report daily observed Russian and Belarusian military activity in Belarus, but these are not indicators that Russian and Belarusian forces are preparing for an imminent attack on Ukraine from Belarus. ISW will revise this text and its assessment if it observes any unambiguous indicators that Russia or Belarus is preparing to attack northern Ukraine.Belarusian maneuver elements continue conducting exercises in Belarus. Unspecified elements of the Vitebsk-based Belarusian 103rd Air Assault Brigade began conducting tactical exercises in an unspecified location on March 20.[95]Mobilized Russian soldiers continue training in Belarus. A local Saratov Oblast news outlet reported on March 19 that Russian volunteers collected foodstuff to transport to fighters of the Russian “94th Regiment” that is currently undergoing combat training in Belarus.[96] The ”94th Regiment” is likely a new unit made of mobilized servicemen, as there is no known 94th Regiment in the Russian military.Note: ISW does not receive any classified material from any source, uses only publicly available information, and draws extensively on Russian, Ukrainian, and Western reporting and social media as well as commercially available satellite imagery and other geospatial data as the basis for these reports. References to all sources used are provided in the endnotes of each update.[1] https://twitter.com/small10space/status/1637387894988890113 ; https://twitter.com/M0nstas/status/1637424966961381378; https://twitter.com/blinzka/status/1637391127299891203 ; https://twitter.com/SkalaBattalion/status/1637369803047305217; . https://twitter.com/War_cube_/status/1637390809593966594 ; https://twitter.com/GeoConfirmed/status/1637420310482894849 ; https://twitter.com/M0nstas/status/1637827324480565250; https://twitter.com/SerDer_Daniels/status/1637816859302023177[2] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0nPr7nc6RpDPVWrBVedZzgfWaBAkFk1x1B7CXEKb5jL2awtcXPdLkX2W9PWJUGHnyl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02rSsCgHkAPqRixo3xVknEaeYEh4vRoFE2HwDTP5jrTCZM27hKTSxyrnDYVTVEa83xl[3] https://suspilne dot media/416979-rosiani-vkotre-peremogli-zitlovij-budinok-v-avdiivci-armia-rf-raketou-pocilila-u-bagatopoverhivku/ ; https://t.me/milchronicles/1660 ; https://t.me/milinfolive/97893 ; https://t.me/milinfolive/97898 ;[4] https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20230320-ukraine-s-other-frontline-fortress-resisting-russian-capture[5] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2023/03/20/uchora-bilya-avdiyivky-vorog-vtratyv-blyzko-troh-svoyih-rot-oleksij-dmytrashkivskyj/[6] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-update-march-19-2023[7] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-update-march-19-2023[8] http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/70746 ; http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/70743 ; https://rg dot ru/2023/03/20/uporno-dvigatsia-vpered-k-novym-perspektivam-druzhby-sotrudnichestva-i-sovmestnogo-razvitiia-kitaia-i-rossii.html[9] http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/70743[10] https://rg dot ru/2023/03/20/uporno-dvigatsia-vpered-k-novym-perspektivam-druzhby-sotrudnichestva-i-sovmestnogo-razvitiia-kitaia-i-rossii.html[11] https://rg dot ru/2023/03/20/uporno-dvigatsia-vpered-k-novym-perspektivam-druzhby-sotrudnichestva-i-sovmestnogo-razvitiia-kitaia-i-rossii.html[12] http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/70743[13] https://www.reuters.com/world/china/moscow-beijing-partnership-has-no-limits-2022-02-04/[14] http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/70743 ; https://rg dot ru/2023/03/20/uporno-dvigatsia-vpered-k-novym-perspektivam-druzhby-sotrudnichestva-i-sovmestnogo-razvitiia-kitaia-i-rossii.html[15] http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/70745[16] https://t.me/concordgroup_official/620[17] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-18-2023[18] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-18-2023[19] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-18-2023; https://nevnov dot ru/23947601-_beglov_absolyutnii_bezdel_nik_evgenii_prigozhin_rasskazal_o_posledstviyah_upravleniya_peterburgom_dlya_vsei_strani; https://t.me/concordgroup_official/621[20] https://ria dot ru/20230320/chvk-1859013421.html; https://t.me/rusbrief/101846; https://avia dot pro/news/kontrol-nad-chvk-vagner-mozhet-pereyti-k-minoborony-rf; https://lenta dot ru/news/2023/03/20/legal/[21] https://t.me/grey_zone/17836[22] https://nevnov dot ru/23947601-_beglov_absolyutnii_bezdel_nik_evgenii_prigozhin_rasskazal_o_posledstviyah_upravleniya_peterburgom_dlya_vsei_strani; https://t.me/concordgroup_official/621; https://t.me/concordgroup_official/620; https://t.me/concordgroup_official/617; https://t.me/concordgroup_official/614; https://t.me/rlz_the_kraken/57126; https://t.me/concordgroup_official/615; https://t.me/rlz_the_kraken/57130; https://t.me/rasstrelny/16022; https://t.me/concordgroup_official/618; https://t.me/concordgroup_official/622[23] https://www dot interfax.ru/russia/891887[24] https://meduza dot io/news/2023/03/20/v-rossii-zaveli-ugolovnoe-delo-na-prokurora-i-sudey-mezhdunarodnogo-suda-v-gaage-on-vydal-order-na-arest-putina; https://t.me/sledcom_press/5885[25] https://t.me/medvedev_telegram/283[26] https://isw.pub/UkrWar02242023;[27] https://gur.gov dot ua/content/taktyka-raketnoho-teroru-rosii-vzhe-zaznala-porazky.html[28] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-january-7-2023[29] https://www.timesofisrael dot com/foreign-ministry-said-concerned-by-worsening-russian-tone-over-israel-actions-in-syria/[30] https://www.axios.com/2023/03/15/israel-ukraine-anti-drone-system-approve-russia-war[31] https://tass dot ru/proisshestviya/17312897[32] https://t.me/mod_russia/24944[33] https://t.me/rybar/44826[34] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0nPr7nc6RpDPVWrBVedZzgfWaBAkFk1x1B7CXEKb5jL2awtcXPdLkX2W9PWJUGHnyl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02gw2dfuzGryLdj21fwae42mGLNRHyFnM5MDnAzmDD4EZUjNJFUWgcjBQv1cSiTPael ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02CoksHRsZy4vK2uMPgAkPFCBALmLGia1SFbCqyBVTworKG5TGgkQXetHQc3n7J8x6l[35] https://twitter.com/SerDer_Daniels/status/1637778713818411008; https://twitter.com/blinzka/status/1637781762553049089[36] https://tass dot ru/proisshestviya/17312897[37] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02rSsCgHkAPqRixo3xVknEaeYEh4vRoFE2HwDTP5jrTCZM27hKTSxyrnDYVTVEa83xl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02CoksHRsZy4vK2uMPgAkPFCBALmLGia1SFbCqyBVTworKG5TGgkQXetHQc3n7J8x6l[38] https://twitter.com/GirkinGirkin/status/1637679541186441216; https://twitter.com/SyriaWar2/status/1637685386041348098; https://twitter.com/auditor_ya/status/1637777829499658243[39] https://twitter.com/blinzka/status/1637446087031021569 ; https://twitter.com/PaulJawin/status/1637440566039392258[40] https://t.me/rybar/44826 ; https://t.me/wargonzo/11503[41] https://twitter.com/small10space/status/1637387894988890113 ; https://twitter.com/M0nstas/status/1637424966961381378; https://twitter.com/blinzka/status/1637391127299891203 ; https://twitter.com/SkalaBattalion/status/1637369803047305217; . https://twitter.com/War_cube_/status/1637390809593966594 ; https://twitter.com/GeoConfirmed/status/1637420310482894849[42] https://twitter.com/M0nstas/status/1637827324480565250; https://twitter.com/SerDer_Daniels/status/1637816859302023177[43] https://t.me/concordgroup_official/623 ; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/46230[44] https://t.me/milchronicles/1683; https://t.me/basurin_e/261[45] https://t.me/rybar/44810 ; https://t.me/dva_majors/11260 ; https://t.me/wargonzo/11482; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/80787 ; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/46195; https://t.me/rybar/44826; https://t.me/rybar/44828; https://t.me/rybar/44829; https://t.me/z_arhiv/19752[46] https://t.me/readovkanews/55062 ; https://t.me/basurin_e/261; https://t.me/wargonzo/11503; https://t.me/wargonzo/11491; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/80787 ; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/46195[47] https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/46194; https://t.me/readovkanews/54999; https://t.me/readovkanews/55006; https://t.me/basurin_e/261; https://t.me/concordgroup_official/623 ; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/46230[48] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0nPr7nc6RpDPVWrBVedZzgfWaBAkFk1x1B7CXEKb5jL2awtcXPdLkX2W9PWJUGHnyl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02rSsCgHkAPqRixo3xVknEaeYEh4vRoFE2HwDTP5jrTCZM27hKTSxyrnDYVTVEa83xl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02CoksHRsZy4vK2uMPgAkPFCBALmLGia1SFbCqyBVTworKG5TGgkQXetHQc3n7J8x6l; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02gw2dfuzGryLdj21fwae42mGLNRHyFnM5MDnAzmDD4EZUjNJFUWgcjBQv1cSiTPael[49] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0nPr7nc6RpDPVWrBVedZzgfWaBAkFk1x1B7CXEKb5jL2awtcXPdLkX2W9PWJUGHnyl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02rSsCgHkAPqRixo3xVknEaeYEh4vRoFE2HwDTP5jrTCZM27hKTSxyrnDYVTVEa83xl[50] https://twitter.com/666_mancer/status/1637132738531565568 ; https://twitter.com/blinzka/status/1637140702797627397?s=20 ; https://t.me/BUAR110ombr/17[51] https://twitter.com/PauliusZaleckas/status/1637504360128151553; https://t.me/supernova_plus/18534; https://twitter.com/PauliusZaleckas/status/1637504363613630465[52] https://t.me/rybar/44809; https://t.me/readovkanews/55006; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/46198; https://t.me/readovkanews/55098; https://t.me/readovkanews/55062; https://t.me/miroshnik_r/10822; https://t.me/smotri_z/12506; https://t.me/basurin_e/267; https://t.me/readovkanews/55066; https://t.me/z_arhiv/19758; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/80925[53] https://t.me/boris_rozhin/80924; https://twitter.com/tretter50001/status/1637768547563700225?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/War_cube_/status/1637792350188568583?s=20; https://twitter.com/War_cube_/status/1637793737047769090?s=20 ; https://t.me/rybar/44841 ; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/46226; https://t.me/vladlentatarsky/20095; https://t.me/vladlentatarsky/20094; https://t.me/vladlentatarsky/20093[54]https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0nPr7nc6RpDPVWrBVedZzgfWaBAkFk1x1B7CXEKb5jL2awtcXPdLkX2W9PWJUGHnyl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02rSsCgHkAPqRixo3xVknEaeYEh4vRoFE2HwDTP5jrTCZM27hKTSxyrnDYVTVEa83xl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02gw2dfuzGryLdj21fwae42mGLNRHyFnM5MDnAzmDD4EZUjNJFUWgcjBQv1cSiTPael; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02CoksHRsZy4vK2uMPgAkPFCBALmLGia1SFbCqyBVTworKG5TGgkQXetHQc3n7J8x6l[55] https://t.me/vladlentatarsky/20079[56] https://t.me/wargonzo/11482; https://t.me/wargonzo/11503; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/46214[57] https://t.me/mod_russia/24941[58] https://t.me/rybar/44828; https://t.me/rybar/44829; https://t.me/rybar/44826; https://t.me/vrogov/8223; https://t.me/vrogov/8221 ; https://t.me/rybar/44805 ; https://t.me/dva_majors/11256; https://t.me/milchronicles/1682; https://t.me/TRO_DPR/11916; https://t.me/readovkanews/55026; https://t.me/rybar/44807; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/40888; https://t.me/basurin_e/251; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/80841 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/80843 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/80856[59] https://t.me/vladlentatarsky/20061; https://t.me/vladlentatarsky/20071; https://t.me/z_arhiv/19739[60] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-16-2023[61] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-update-march-19-2023[62] https://t.me/svobodnieslova/1613[63] https://t.me/Sladkov_plus/7385[64] https://gur.gov.ua/content/vybukh-u-misti-dzhankoi-znyshchyv-rosiiski-krylati-rakety-kalybr-nk.html[65] https://t.me/vchkogpu/37252; https://twitter.com/DI_Ukraine/status/1637922346064281603[66] https://t.me/readovkanews/55079[67] https://t.me/bazabazon/16437[68]https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02gw2dfuzGryLdj21fwae42mGLNRHyFnM5MDnAzmDD4EZUjNJFUWgcjBQv1cSiTPael; https://t.me/khersonskaODA/4485; https://t.me/rybar/44830; https://t.me/hueviyherson/36734; https://t.me/khersonskaODA/4494; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02CoksHRsZy4vK2uMPgAkPFCBALmLGia1SFbCqyBVTworKG5TGgkQXetHQc3n7J8x6l; https://t.me/zoda_gov_ua/17579; https://t.me/zoda_gov_ua/17603; https://t.me/gachi_defence/8536; https://t.me/rybar/44828; https://www.facebook.com/OperationalCommandSouth/posts/pfbid02CTmgo77iEiFz3CZyqCym6b5qwZXWZFVaL9DG8sEj4tdYLEr5KrimmtJthpaNRWgil; https://t.me/mykolaivskaODA/4590; https://www.facebook.com/sergey.khlan/posts/pfbid02veBo14w8eFMidXincPcmNB6E9wvBgKToSK4x1dogvSj79sNM2mopZ4cmB2TLAnb9l; https://www.facebook.com/sergey.khlan/posts/pfbid02fqU61VTEsasWuTh2MYXfjLbMW2qR7T1kjR7BrZ3j3aX3BRCnnT43VmxjSGbJhdngl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0nPr7nc6RpDPVWrBVedZzgfWaBAkFk1x1B7CXEKb5jL2awtcXPdLkX2W9PWJUGHnyl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02rSsCgHkAPqRixo3xVknEaeYEh4vRoFE2HwDTP5jrTCZM27hKTSxyrnDYVTVEa83xl[69] http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/70744[70]https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Russian%20Offensive%20Campaign%20Assessment%2C%20March%2016%2C%202023%20PDF.pdf; https://t.me/ramzayiegokomanda/2048; https://t.me/vladlentatarsky/20097[71] https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/46192%20; https://t.me/fighter_bomber/11515[72] https://twitter.com/Gerjon_/status/1637483366718009345?s=20; https://gerjon.substack.com/p/the-war-in-ukraine-irans-airlift[73]https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Russian%20Offensive%20Campaign%20Assessment%2C%20March%2016%2C%202023%20PDF.pdf; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-17-2023[74] https://zona dot media/news/2023/03/17/iditelesom[75] https://t.me/rlz_the_kraken/57165; https://t.me/vchkogpu/37212; https://www.5-tv dot ru/news/424692/vsaratovskoj-oblasti-zaderzali-dvoih-muzcin-zapopytku-diversii-nazd-putah/; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/80938[76] https://t.me/boris_rozhin/80938[77] https://t.me/activatica/31762[78] https://t.me/sotaproject/55601[79] https://t.me/sotaproject/55601[80] https://www.sibreal.org/a/mobilizovannye-iz-sibiri-otkazyvayutsya-voevat/32321682.html[81] https://www.sibreal.org/a/mobilizovannye-iz-sibiri-otkazyvayutsya-voevat/32321682.html[82] https://t.me/mobilizationnews/10160; https://t.me/Govorit_NeMoskva/6021; https://vk dot com/wall-22300697_10529 ; https://t.me/vottaktv/37305; https://t.me/bazabazon/16408[83] https://notes.citeam.org/mobilization-mar-17-18; https://t.me/astrapress/23117; https://1tulatv dot ru/novosti/191318-voenkomat-obyasnil-razdachu-povestok-v-tulskoy-oblasti.html; https://t.me/Govorit_NeMoskva/6027; https://t.me/bloodysx/26436; https://t.me/sotaproject/55497; https://t.me/bloodysx/26429[84] https://gur.gov dot ua/content/na-tymchasovo-okupovanii-terytorii-likvidovano-zradnyka-ukrainy-serhiia-moskalenka.html; https://sprotyv.mod.gov dot ua/2023/03/20/na-hersonshhyni-likviduvaly-chergovogo-zradnyka/; https://t.me/sledcom_press/5881 ; https://twitter.com/bayraktar_1love/status/1637448781242200065?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/bayraktar_1love/status/1637187793867685888?s=20 ; https://t.me/kherson_non_fake/6206 ; https://twitter.com/klinger66/status/1637461904556797953 ; https://twitter.com/666_mancer/status/1637441873689169920 ; https://t.me/sledcom_press/5881[85] https://t.me/sledcom_press/5881; https://gur.gov dot ua/content/na-tymchasovo-okupovanii-terytorii-likvidovano-zradnyka-ukrainy-serhiia-moskalenka.html ; https://sprotyv.mod.gov dot ua/2023/03/20/na-hersonshhyni-likviduvaly-chergovogo-zradnyka/ ; https://t.me/sledcom_press/5881 ; https://twitter.com/bayraktar_1love/status/1637448781242200065?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/bayraktar_1love/status/1637187793867685888?s=20 ; https://t.me/kherson_non_fake/6206 ; https://twitter.com/klinger66/status/1637461904556797953 ; https://twitter.com/666_mancer/status/1637441873689169920 ; https://t.me/sledcom_press/5881[86] https://t.me/miroshnik_r/10821[87] https://t.me/miroshnik_r/10821[88] https://t.me/miroshnik_r/10821[89] https://t.me/miroshnik_r/10821[90] https://t.me/andriyshTime/7859[91] https://sprotyv.mod.gov dot ua/2023/03/20/rosiyany-zmushuyut-meshkancziv-tot-pysaty-vidmovu-vid-ukrayinskogo-gromadyanstva/][92] https://t.me/readovkanews/55091[93] https://t.me/readovkanews/55091[94] https://t.me/readovkanews/55091[95] https://t.me/modmilby/24683[96] https://saratov24 dot tv/news/vyacheslav-maksyuta-zadumalsya-o-prekrashchenii-volonterskoy-deyatelnosti-dlya-boytsov/ 

[Author: Institute for the Study of War] [Category: Russia, Ukraine]

[*] [+] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 3/25/23 9:23am
 Karolina Hird, Grace Mappes, Riley Bailey, Kateryna Stepanenko, and Frederick W. KaganMarch 19, 5 pm ETClick here to see ISW’s interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report. Click here to access ISW’s archive of interactive time-lapse maps of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  These maps complement the static control-of-terrain maps that ISW produces daily by showing a dynamic frontline. ISW will update this time-lapse map archive monthly.ISW is publishing an abbreviated campaign update today, March 19. This report discusses growing Russian concern about a prospective Ukrainian counteroffensive near Bakhmut or in southern Ukraine, and Russian efforts to prepare mitigations for these claimed efforts. The tempo of Russian offensive operations across the theater has slowed in recent weeks, suggesting that the Russian spring offensive in Donbas may be nearing culmination. Ukrainian officials have indicated that significant Russian losses near Vuhledar are severely inhibiting Russian forces’ capacity to conduct further offensive operations in Donetsk Oblast. Russian President Vladimir Putin used his first visit to recently-occupied Ukraine to portray himself as an involved wartime leader amid exaggerated responses in the Russian nationalist information space over fears of a possible future Ukrainian counteroffensive in southern Ukraine.Ukrainian forces likely conducted a localized counterattack southwest of Bakhmut amid growing Russian discussion about a potential Ukrainian counteroffensive in the Bakhmut area. Geolocated footage published on March 19 indicates that Ukrainian forces conducted a successful counterattack southwest of Ivanivske (6km west of Bakhmut) and pushed Russian forces further away from the T0504 highway in the area.[1]  Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Serhiy Cherevaty reported that Russian forces conducted 25 attacks in the Bakhmut area on March 19, but Russian forces likely only secured marginal gains.[2] Russian sources amplified footage on March 18 alleging to show a column of Ukrainian armored vehicles along the T0504 southwest of Kostyantynivka (22km southwest of Bakhmut) and speculated that Ukrainian forces are preparing to launch counteroffensive operations southwest of Bakhmut.[3] A prominent Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces are currently capable of intensifying counterattacks to stabilize the front line around Bakhmut.[4] The growing Russian discussions about an imminent Ukrainian counteroffensive in the Bakhmut area suggest that Russian sources are increasingly uncertain about the Russian military’s ability to maintain the initiative around Bakhmut.Statements made by Ukrainian military officials on the pace and prospects of current Russian offensive operations may suggest that the overall Russian spring offensive may be nearing culmination. Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Serhiy Cherevaty stated on March 19 that Russia was unable to gather sufficient forces for the anticipated major offensive in Donbas and noted that current Russian offensive actions cannot be called a “major strategic operation.”[5] Cherevaty emphasized that Russian forces cannot even complete the tactical capture of Bakhmut, which supports ISW’s assessment that the Wagner Group offensive near Bakhmut is likely nearing culmination.[6] Russian forces are also notably struggling to secure operationally significant gains elsewhere along the frontline, particularly in the Avdiivka-Donetsk City and Vuhledar areas. Ukrainian Tavriisk Defense Forces spokesperson Colonel Oleksiy Dmytrashkivskyi noted on March 19 that Russian forces have been desperately attacking Avdiivka to restart offensive operations on Vuhledar, likely suggesting that continued Russian attacks in the Avdiivka area are meant partially to pull Ukrainian reserves away from western Donetsk Oblast to the Avdiivka-Donetsk City area.[7] Dmytrashkivskyi stated that this renewed offensive focus on Avdiivka has recently led to major Russian losses around Avdiivka amounting to the equivalent of one company, on which ISW has previously reported.[8]  Ukrainian military officials additionally continue to indicate that massive Russian losses in the Vuhledar area are severeley degrading Russian offensive capacity in Donetsk Oblast. Dmytrashkivskyi stated that Russian forces have reinforced elements of the 155th Naval Infantry Brigade (currently heavily committed in the Vuhledar area) with reserve forces of the 98th Guards Airborne Division.[9] The 155th Naval Infantry Brigade suffered catastrophic manpower and equipment losses during continued failed attacks on Vuhledar in November 2022 and February 2023, and Russian military leadership is likely heavily relying on reserve elements from the 98th Airborne Division to offset and compensate for the 155th Naval Infantry Brigade’s losses.[10] The 98th Airborne Division is at least partially committed in the Kreminna area in Luhansk Oblast, and commitment of some of its constituent elements to the Vuhledar area is likely indicative of a level of desperation on the part of the Russian military command trying to reconstitute battered units and restart offensive operations in western Donetsk Oblast.[11]  The Ukrainian General Staff similarly noted that the Russian military leadership is in a hurry to send reinforcements to Vuhledar and has been creating a ”Shtorm” detachment within the 37th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade (36th Combined Arms Army, Eastern Military District), which will presumably deploy to the Vuhledar area on March 24.[12] The ad hoc reconstitution of existing units for deployment to Vuhledar, as well as the apparent creation of sub-brigade echelon special formations, suggests that Russian combat capabilities in western Donetsk Oblast are greatly degraded.The overall Russian spring offensive is thus likely approaching culmination. Ongoing Russian offensives along the Svatove-Kreminna line, around Bakhmut, and along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City and Vuhledar frontlines have failed to make more than incremental tactical gains in the first few months of 2023. Russia has committed the approximately 300,000 mobilized soldiers, called up by partial mobilization in September 2022 for the purpose of pursing exactly such a spring offensive, to these various offensive efforts. If 300,000 Russian soldiers have been unable to give Russia a decisive offensive edge in Ukraine it is highly unlikely that the commitment of additional forces in future mobilization waves will produce a dramatically different outcome this year. Ukraine is therefore well positioned to regain the initiative and launch counteroffensives in critical sectors of the current frontline.Russian President Vladimir Putin visited occupied Mariupol on March 19, likely to project the image of invulnerability and to continue efforts to portray himself as an involved wartime leader. Putin’s visit to Mariupol included highly staged meetings with residents, a bizarre drive around the city with Putin supposedly driving the car himself, and a briefing from Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin about restoration efforts in the city.[13] The Kremlin likely framed Putin’s first visit to occupied Ukraine outside of Crimea as a spontaneous jaunt in order to portray Putin as an invincible wartime leader who can visit the zone of hostilities without concern.[14] Putin likely chose to visit Mariupol because it is a city seized since May 2022 that is far away from the frontline, where Russian forces and occupation officials have already instituted stringent security measures. Putin also likely meant his visit to be a response to the International Criminal Court’s arrest warrant for his involvement in war crimes connected to the deportation of Ukrainian children, at least 1,000 of whom Russian officials deported from Mariupol alone.[15] Putin likely sought to portray his role in the deportation of children and the destruction of Mariupol as beyond the jurisdiction of the international community and himself as safe from the Ukrainian military 80km to the north. Putin also visited the headquarters of the Southern Military District in Rostov-on-Don, Krasnodar Krai, and received briefings from Russian Chief of the General Staff Army General Valery Gerasimov and other Russian military commanders.[16] Russian media publicized Putin’s meetings with Gerasimov and previous theater commander Army General Sergey Surovikin to portray Putin as highly involved in the management of the war in Ukraine as well as possibly to signal that Gerasimov currently has Putin’s favor and that Survoikin, with his former Wagner Group connections, is now firmly subordinated under Gerasimov.[17]Putin’s Mariupol visit likely also aimed to assuage a longstanding and pervasive fear in the nationalist space about a prospective Ukrainian counteroffensive in southern Ukraine. Russian milbloggers that ISW tracks claimed en masse on March 19 that Ukrainian forces conducted a limited and localized counterattack near Novodanylivka, Zaporizhia Oblast, a disproportionate response to a frequent occurrence on other areas of the front.[18] Many of these milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces continue to prepare for a future counteroffensive on the Zaporizhia Oblast front line, which milbloggers have been claiming with varying degrees of urgency since October 2022.[19] Some milbloggers specifically linked Putin’s March 19 visit to Mariupol to a Ukrainian counteroffensive.[20] One milblogger claimed that Putin’s visit shows he is not a cowardly leader who is too afraid to leave Moscow Oblast out of fear of Ukrainian intelligence and claimed that the Russian ”surrender of the south [of Ukraine] will be Putin’s personal defeat.”[21] The milblogger added that Russian forces would have to work harder to defend against a Ukrainian counteroffensive. Former Russian officer and convicted war criminal Igor Girkin instead sarcastically claimed that Russian forces would ”do everything to be defeated” in order to ”blame everything on Putin,” noting that Putin appointed and kept in power all the Russian military commanders responsible for Russia’s performance in the war thus far.[22] The Russian occupation administration declaring Melitopol rather than Zaporizhzhia City as the capital of occupied Zaporizhia Oblast also likely reflects a desire to ease the palpable fear in the nationalist and domestic information space by portraying Russian occupation as long term and certain.[23]Former Russian officer, convicted war criminal, and prominent critical nationalist milblogger Igor Girkin indicated that there are likely deepening fractures within the top levels of Russian military leaderships. In a 12-point hyper-critical and sarcastic essay on how Russia can lose the war, Girkin remarked that never changing the leadership of the state, intelligence, and armed forces who “have already demonstrated blatant incompetence” is a sure-fire way to lose the war, and that Russia has already committed this cardinal sin.[24] Girkin called for leadership changes in the Russian Ministry of Defense and General Staff, the Foreign Intelligence Service, the 5th Service of the Federal Security Service (FSB), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, political advisors, and representatives of military industry.[25] Girkin’s omission of the broader FSB organization (the FSB’s 5th Service is a distinct but subordinate FSB entity concerned with intelligence targeting of Russia’s foreign neighbors in the post-Soviet space) and FSB Director Alexander Bortnikov is noteworthy because it suggests that Girkin views the FSB as distinct from the failing Russian military, intelligence, and security apparatus.[26] The FSB‘s 5th Service was also responsible for laying the groundwork for the invasion by paying off Ukrainian collaborators.[27] Girkin’s comments may indicate that there are considerable tensions between the Russian military command and the FSB, as well as within the FSB itself. Girkin’s acerbic commentary continues to provide insight into growing inner circle frictions.Key inflections in ongoing military operations on March 19:Russian forces continued limited offensive operations along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line.[28]Russian forces likely secured marginal gains near Bohdanivka (6km northwest of Bakhmut) amidst continued Russian offensive operations in and around Bakhmut.[29]Russian forces continued offensive operations along the outskirts of Donetsk City and may have advanced towards Berdychi, about 10km northwest of Avdiivka.[30]Russian forces continued erecting defensive fortifications throughout southern Ukraine.[31]Unknown actors killed a Russian occupation Ministry of Internal Affairs Patrol Service platoon commander with a car bomb in occupied Kherson Oblast.[32] Ukrainian media hypothesized that the attack may have been a partisan attack or a result of Russian infighting.[33]Russian federal communication supervisor Roskomnadzor blocked a website that helped Russians escape mobilization in continued crackdowns against resistance to mobilization.[34] [1] https://twitter.com/War_cube_/status/1637407855367143424?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/RemyLind21/status/1637413243189702656?s=20[2] https://suspilne dot media/418320-sankcii-proti-rosijskogo-vpk-obstril-kramatorska-389-den-vijni-onlajn/ ; https://twitter.com/blinzka/status/1637391127299891203 ; https://twitter.com/SkalaBattalion/status/1637369803047305217[3] https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/46194 ; https://t.me/readovkanews/54999[4] https://t.me/boris_rozhin/80787 ; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/46195[5] https://suspilne dot media/418320-sankcii-proti-rosijskogo-vpk-obstril-kramatorska-389-den-vijni-onlajn/[6] https://suspilne dot media/418320-sankcii-proti-rosijskogo-vpk-obstril-kramatorska-389-den-vijni-onlajn/; https://isw.pub/UkrWar031523[7] https://armyinform dot com.ua/2023/03/19/pid-avdiyivkoyu-j-maryinkoyu-vorog-vysnazhenyj-ta-zaznaye-serjoznyh-vtrat-oleksij-dmytrashkivskyj/[8] https://armyinform dot com.ua/2023/03/19/pid-avdiyivkoyu-j-maryinkoyu-vorog-vysnazhenyj-ta-zaznaye-serjoznyh-vtrat-oleksij-dmytrashkivskyj/; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-4-2023[9] https://armyinform dot com.ua/2023/03/19/pid-avdiyivkoyu-j-maryinkoyu-vorog-vysnazhenyj-ta-zaznaye-serjoznyh-vtrat-oleksij-dmytrashkivskyj/[10] https://isw.pub/UkrWar021023; https://isw.pub/UkrWar021323; https://isw.pub/UkrWar03012023[11] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-19-2023[12] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02rSsCgHkAPqRixo3xVknEaeYEh4vRoFE2HwDTP5jrTCZM27hKTSxyrnDYVTVEa83xl[13] http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/70742 ; https://tass dot ru/politika/17309183; https://tass dot ru/politika/17308961 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/80833 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/80832 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/80831 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/80830 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/80829 ; https://t.me/youlistenedmayak/25828 ; https://t.me/youlistenedmayak/25829[14] https://t.me/youlistenedmayak/25828 ; https://t.me/youlistenedmayak/25829 ; https://tass dot ru/politika/17309183; https://tass dot ru/politika/17308961[15] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-august-23[16] http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/70742[17] https://t.me/boris_rozhin/80840[18] https://t.me/vrogov/8223; https://t.me/vrogov/8221 ; https://t.me/rybar/44805 ; https://t.me/dva_majors/11256; https://t.me/milchronicles/1682; https://t.me/TRO_DPR/11916; https://t.me/readovkanews/55026; https://t.me/rybar/44807; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/40888; https://t.me/basurin_e/251; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/80841 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/80843 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/80856; https://t.me/vladlentatarsky/20061 ;  https://t.me/vladlentatarsky/20071; https://t.me/south0wind/2956 ; https://t.me/vladlentatarsky/20062; ttps://t.me/z_arhiv/19739; https://t.me/milinfolive/98237[19] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-november-16; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-11-2023; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-september-28; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-january-17-2023; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-january-26-2023; https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Russian%20Offensive%20Campaign%20Assessment%2C%20November%2028%20PDF.pdf; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-december-12; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-october-7; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-november-19; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-november-11; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-october-19; https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Russian%20Offensive%20Campaign%20Assessment%2C%20November%207%20PDF.pdf;[20] https://t.me/donrf22/17515; https://t.me/donrf22/17517; https://t.me/donrf22/17537; https://t.me/donrf22/17518; https://t.me/NeoficialniyBeZsonoV/23381; https://t.me/strelkovii/4251; https://t.me/strelkovii/4252[21] https://t.me/donrf22/17515; https://t.me/donrf22/17517; https://t.me/donrf22/17537; https://t.me/donrf22/17518; https://t.me/NeoficialniyBeZsonoV/23381[22] https://t.me/strelkovii/4251; https://t.me/strelkovii/4252[23] https://ria dot ru/20230303/melitopol-1855757173.html[24] https://t.me/strelkovii/4229; https://t.me/strelkovii/4230; https://t.me/strelkovii/4231[25] https://t.me/strelkovii/4229[26] https://rusi.org/explore-our-research/publications/commentary/ukraine-through-russias-eyes[27] https://www.ft.com/content/80002564-33e8-48fb-b734-44810afb7a49?accessToken=zwAAAYb7rQq6kdOAACVkM-hI-9O3NESBCvt6SQ.MEUCIQDe0KNTA67HVys_w4qkGAOJevgTxx5JO6jPY3AH9kbmCQIgZ8AALXCra4jNVCGo555lqLA3N3Irn_ox_XY3Kjxo7-c&sharetype=gift&token=226dca22-fcea-4689-a900-240d03134f0e[28] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02rSsCgHkAPqRixo3xVknEaeYEh4vRoFE2HwDTP5jrTCZM27hKTSxyrnDYVTVEa83xl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0nPr7nc6RpDPVWrBVedZzgfWaBAkFk1x1B7CXEKb5jL2awtcXPdLkX2W9PWJUGHnyl[29] https://twitter.com/blinzka/status/1637391127299891203 ; https://twitter.com/SkalaBattalion/status/1637369803047305217 ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0nPr7nc6RpDPVWrBVedZzgfWaBAkFk1x1B7CXEKb5jL2awtcXPdLkX2W9PWJUGHnyl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02rSsCgHkAPqRixo3xVknEaeYEh4vRoFE2HwDTP5jrTCZM27hKTSxyrnDYVTVEa83xl[30] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0nPr7nc6RpDPVWrBVedZzgfWaBAkFk1x1B7CXEKb5jL2awtcXPdLkX2W9PWJUGHnyl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02rSsCgHkAPqRixo3xVknEaeYEh4vRoFE2HwDTP5jrTCZM27hKTSxyrnDYVTVEa83xl[31] https://t.me/Sladkov_plus/7383; https://t.me/svobodnieslova/1613;[32] https://t.me/sledcom_press/5881; https://www.facebook.com/sergey.khlan/posts/pfbid0qzDkBJ8R9RD5R3XhgoxEEg2QKJgGBrfvxvFxRxm7ZX9KiAcCkDqbMszPXwN6WsVWl; https://twitter.com/bayraktar_1love/status/1637448781242200065?s=20  ; https://twitter.com/bayraktar_1love/status/1637187793867685888?s=20  ; https://t.me/kherson_non_fake/6206; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/46206; https://twitter.com/klinger66/status/1637461904556797953 ; https://twitter.com/666_mancer/status/1637441873689169920 ; https://t.me/sledcom_press/5881  [33] https://focus dot ua/uk/voennye-novosti/555840-telo-razorvalo-popolam-pod-hersonom-likvidirovali-kollaboranta-moskalenko-smi-video[34] https://zona dot media/news/2023/03/17/iditelesom   

[Author: Institute for the Study of War] [Category: Russia, Ukraine]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 3/25/23 8:34am
Riley Bailey, Grace Mappes, Angela Howard, Kateryna Stepanenko, and Frederick W. KaganMarch 18, 7:15 pm ET Click here to see ISW’s interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.Click here to access ISW’s archive of interactive time-lapse maps of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These maps complement the static control-of-terrain maps that ISW produces daily by showing a dynamic frontline. ISW will update this time-lapse map archive monthly.Russian forces targeted Ukraine with 16 Shahed-136 drones overnight on March 17-18. Ukrainian Air Force Spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat stated that Ukrainian forces shot down 11 of the 16 drones and noted that it is difficult for Ukrainian mobile fire groups to shoot down drones at night due to the lack of visibility.[1] The drones targeted facilities in Kyiv, Zaporizhia, Dnipropetrovsk, and Lviv oblasts, reportedly including a Ukrainian fuel warehouse in Novomoskovsk, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast.[2] Russian sources claimed that Russian drone strikes also targeted Kyiv Thermal Power Plant 5, which Russian forces reportedly targeted in a strike campaign on March 9.[3]Russian President Vladimir Putin continued his campaign against anti-war dissent and the misappropriation of military assets within Russia. Putin signed two bills into law on March 18 that significantly increase the fines and jail time for discrediting Russian forces in Ukraine and for selling Russian arms to foreign actors.[4] Russian sources reported that Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) personnel detained over 40 people in raids against two Moscow bars for suspicion of financing Ukrainian forces and made patrons participate in pro-war activities on March 17.[5] Russian sources have increasingly reported on FSB detaining Russian civilians under suspicion of financially assisting Ukrainian forces since February 28 after Putin instructed the FSB to intensify counterintelligence measures and crackdown against the spread of pro-Ukrainian ideology.[6]Wagner financier Yevgeny Prigohzin is likely attempting to set informational conditions to explain the Wagner Group’s culmination around Bakhmut. Prigozhin-affiliated outlet RIA FAN published an interview with Prigozhin on March 17 in which he asserted that Ukrainian forces are preparing to launch counteroffensives in five separate directions: into Belgorod Oblast, in the Kreminna area, in the Bakhmut area, towards Donetsk City, and in Zaporizhia Oblast.[7] Prigozhin stated that Ukrainian forces will launch these operations starting in mid-April and urged Russian forces to prepare for these counteroffensives by preserving ammunition and equipment.[8] Prigozhin likely depicted Ukrainian forces as having enough combat power to launch a massive theater-wide counteroffensive to justify the Wagner Group’s inability to complete an envelopment or encirclement of Bakhmut. Prigozhin stated that Ukrainian forces are preparing to counterattack Wagner’s flanks in the Bakhmut area and that Wagner fighters are preparing for these counterattacks.[9] ISW previously assessed that Wagner fighters are likely conducting opportunistic attacks on easier-to-seize settlements further north and northwest of Bakhmut as their ability to make tactical gains in Bakhmut itself diminishes, and Prigozhin likely seeks to frame these activities as securing flanks in preparation for Ukrainian counteroffensives.[10] A prominent Wagner-affiliated milblogger similarly argued that Wagner fighters are conducting offensive operations northwest of Bakhmut to spoil Ukrainian counterattacks and asserted that Wagner fighters are focused on advancing towards the Siverskyi Donets Canal west of Bakhmut to complete the envelopment of the city.[11] The milblogger likely tried to rationalize the Wagner Group’s failure to envelop Bakhmut by setting the necessary conditions for the envelopment further away and farther out of the Wagner Group’s current operational capabilities. Prigozhin also claimed that Ukrainian forces have at least 19,000 personnel deployed within Bakhmut, likely an attempt to justify Wagner’s lack of progress within the city.[12]Prigozhin may be implying that the overall Russian offensive in Ukraine is nearing culmination by calling for Russian forces to preserve resources for Ukrainian counteroffensives. Prigozhin’s forecast about five separate Ukrainian counteroffensives is mirror-imaging—Russian forces have specialized in conducting multiple simultaneous advances along diverging axes that are not mutually supporting, which is one of the reasons for Russian failures in the war so far. Prigozhin may have forecasted a Ukrainian counteroffensive in five directions to amplify the relevance of his calls for Russian forces to preserve ammunition and equipment and out of concerns that widespread ammunition and equipment shortages are constraining the Wagner Group’s and the Russian military’s ability to maintain offensive operations in Ukraine. Prigozhin’s depiction of imminent Ukrainian counteroffensives also implies that he believes that Russian forces will lose the initiative to Ukraine soon and be forced onto the defensive rather than continuing stalled or unsuccessful offensives in the Kreminna, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, or Vuhledar areas.Russian regional authorities may be severing their connections with Prigozhin. Prigozhin claimed that the Goryachiy Klyuch, Krasnodar Krai authorities reneged on a prior agreement to bury Wagner Group deceased mercenaries in the town.[13] Goryachiy Klyuch Head Sergey Belopolskyi claimed that locals do not think that the resort town Goryachiy Klyuch is an appropriate place to bury Wagner fighters.[14] Prigozhin also released a phone call in which a Goryachiy Klyuch official told a Wagner representative that Krasnodar Krai Governor Veniamin Kondratyev stripped him of authority to cooperate with Wagner.[15] Wagner servicemen also released a threatening video appeal to the local administration claiming that they will “personally solve the issue” with the administration if they do not respond to the appeals.[16] The Wagner Group has used training and burial grounds in Krasnodar Krai in the past, indicating that Prigozhin likely has extensive, long-term connections to regional authorities that may now be weakening.[17] Prigozhin previously fought with St. Petersburg officials over their refusal to bury deceased Wagner mercenaries in the same burial ground as conventional Russian soldiers, as ISW has previously reported.[18]Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova reiterated on March 18 that the Kremlin has not abandoned its maximalist goals in Ukraine. Zakharova stated that Russia is ready to hear Western and Ukrainian proposals for the diplomatic settlement of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, but noted that the West will need to remove all sanctions and lawsuits from Russia.[19] Zakharova continued to reject Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s conditions for peace talks by noting that the removal of Russian forces from occupied Ukrainian territories, reparation obligations, and attendance at international tribunals are “unrelated” to the establishment of peace in Ukraine. Zakharova instead claimed that peace in Ukraine depends on the West ceasing its weapon deliveries to Ukraine, the international recognition “of new territorial realities,” and the demilitarization and “denazification” of Ukraine. Zakharova's demands mirror Russian President Vladimir Putin’s maximalist objectives announced on February 24, 2022, and are a continuation of the Kremlin's ongoing information operation to prompt the West to offer preemptive concessions and coerce Ukraine into negotiations on conditions more favorable to Russia.[20] BBC and Russian opposition news outlet Mediazona reported on March 17 that Russian forces (excluding Donetsk People’s Republic [DNR] and Luhansk People’s Republic [LNR] militiamen) have suffered a confirmed 17,375 deaths, a conservative estimate of 35,000 total deaths, and 157,000 casualties. BBC claimed that total pro-Russia forces’ casualties may exceed 211,500 people. BBC noted that 1,304 of the dead it has confirmed perished within the past two weeks, indicating that recent casualties are significantly higher than the 2022 average. The majority of Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine reportedly come from outside of Russia’s major urban centers. Moscow—which comprises 9% of the entire Russian population—has suffered only 107 confirmed deaths while Krasnodar Krai has suffered 714, Sverdlovsk Oblast has suffered 664, and Buryatia has suffered 567.[21] Key TakeawaysRussian forces targeted Ukraine with 16 Shahed-136 drones overnight on March 17-18.Russian President Vladimir Putin continued his crackdown against anti-war dissent and misappropriation of military assets within Russia.Wagner financier Yevgeny Prigozhin is likely attempting to set informational conditions for the Wagner Group’s culmination around Bakhmut.Russian regional authorities may be severing their connections with Prigozhin.Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova reiterated that the Kremlin has not abandoned its maximalist goals in Ukraine.BBC and Russian opposition news outlet Mediazona estimated that Russian forces have suffered at least 35,000 total deaths and 157,000 total casualties.Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line.Russian forces continued offensive operations in and around Bakhmut and on the outskirts of Donetsk City.Russian forces continue to erect defensive fortifications along ground lines of communication (GLOCs) in and near occupied Crimea.Conventional Russian authorities and the Wagner Group continue to invest significant resources in efforts to involve youth in the war effort and ready them mentally and physically for military service.Russian occupation authorities continue efforts russify Ukrainians in occupied territories. We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because those activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We will continue to evaluate and report on the effects of these criminal activities on the Ukrainian military and population and specifically on combat in Ukrainian urban areas. We utterly condemn these Russian violations of the laws of armed conflict, Geneva Conventions, and humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports. Russian Main Effort—Eastern Ukraine (comprised of two subordinate main efforts)Russian Subordinate Main Effort #1—Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and encircle northern Donetsk OblastRussian Subordinate Main Effort #2—Capture the entirety of Donetsk OblastRussian Supporting Effort—Southern AxisRussian Mobilization and Force Generation EffortsActivities in Russian-occupied Areas Russian Main Effort—Eastern UkraineRussian Subordinate Main Effort #1— Luhansk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and continue offensive operations into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and northern Donetsk Oblast) Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line on March 18. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful ground attacks near Dibrova (6km southwest of Kreminna) and Hryhorivka (9km south of Kreminna).[22]  Russian sources continued to claim on March 18 that Russian forces advanced west of Hryanykivka (17km northeast of Kupyansk) and that Ukrainian forces withdrew to the west bank of the Oskil River, but ISW is unable to verify these claims.[23] Commander of the Ukrainian Ground Forces Colonel General Oleksandr Syrsky reported on March 17 that Russian forces are attempting to advance along the entire eastern front and that the fiercest battles are occurring near Torske (14km west of Kreminna), Kreminna, Bilohorivka (12km south of Kreminna), and Spirne (25km south of Kreminna).[24] Russian sources claimed that Russian forces made marginal territorial gains near Ploshchanka (16km northwest of Kreminna) and in the Serebrianska forest area (roughly 11km south of Kreminna).[25] A Russian source also claimed that Russian forces conducted ground attacks near Makiivka (22km northwest of Kreminna) and Terny (17km west of Kreminna).[26] Russian Subordinate Main Effort #2—Donetsk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas) Russian forces continued offensive operations in and around Bakhmut on March 18. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian offensive operations near Bakhmut, within 11km northwest of Bakhmut near Orikhovo-Vasylikva and Hryhorivka, and within 6km southwest of Bakhmut near Ivanivske and Klishchiivka.[27] Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces also conducted assaults near Khromove (2km west of Bakhmut) and Bohdanivka (6km northwest of Bakhmut).[28] The Ukrainian General Staff specified that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian assaults in the northern part of Bakhmut, likely suggesting that Russian forces are concentrating offensive operations on the northern part of the city.[29] Russian milbloggers claimed that Wagner Group fighters captured unspecified industrial facilities in the AZOM complex in northern Bakhmut and have cleared most of the complex of Ukrainian forces.[30]  ISW has not observed any visual confirmation that Russian forces have advanced into the territory of the AZOM complex. Russian milbloggers claimed that Wagner fighters continued assaults in the southern and southwestern parts of Bakhmut, and Wagner financier Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed that Wagner fighters hold positions within 600 to 700 meters of the Bakhmut Administrative Center.[31] A Russian milblogger claimed that Wagner fighters secured positions on the west (left) bank of the Bakhmutka River near Bakhmut’s central market area, although ISW has not observed visual confirmation of these claims.[32] A Russian source claimed that Wagner fighters control 70 percent of Bakhmut as of March 18.[33] ISW assessed that Russian forces occupied roughly 50 percent of Bakhmut as of March 8, and ISW has not observed a pace of advance since then that corresponds with this significantly higher claim about Wagner’s control over Bakhmut.[34] Russian milbloggers claimed that Wagner fighters also advanced near Kurdyumivka (13km southwest of Bakhmut).[35]  Russian forces continued offensive operations along the outskirts of Donetsk City on March 18. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations near Avdiivka, Kamianka (5km northeast of Avdiivka), and within 27km southwest of Avdiivka near Nevelske, Sieverne, Pervomaiske, and Marinka.[36] Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces also conducted assaults on Vodyane (8km southwest of Avdiivka).[37]  Supporting Effort—Southern Axis (Russian objective: Maintain frontline positions and secure rear areas against Ukrainian strikes) Russian forces continued to conduct routine fire west of Hulyaipole and in Kherson and Mykolaiv oblasts on March 18.[38] Head of the Ukrainian Joint Coordination Press Center of the Southern Forces Nataliya Humenyuk reported that Russian forces decreased their rate of artillery fire across the Dnipro River. Humenyuk also stated that Russian forces must constantly change positions in east (left) bank Kherson Oblast due to Ukrainian artillery fire.[39] Russian forces continue to erect defensive fortifications along ground lines of communication (GLOCs) in and near occupied Crimea.[40] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces are building fortifications between Ishun and Voinka in northern Crimea, and social media footage shows large piles of wooden pallets reportedly near the Chatarluk River bridge between Ishun and Vorontsivka on the N05 Armiansk-Dzhankoy-Simferopol highway.[41] A Ukrainian source posted images of piles of timber and stated that Russian forces are using the timber to construct trenches and other fortifications in Chonhar, Kherson Oblast (4km from the Kherson Oblast-Crimean administrative border on the M-18 Melitopol-Dzhankoy highway).[42]  Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts (Russian objective: Expand combat power without conducting general mobilization)Conventional Russian authorities and the Wagner Group continue to invest significant resources to involve youth in the war effort and mentally and physically prepare them for military service. Wagner financier Yevgeny Prigozhin on March 18 responded to a question about Wagner recruitment centers in youth sports clubs, stating that he plans to recruit 30,000 new mercenaries by mid-May of 2023. Prigozhin claimed the Wagner Group currently recruits about 500-800 mercenaries each day, though Prigozhin did not specify what share of that comes from sports club recruitment centers.[43] Independent Russian news outlet Verstka assessed on March 17 that authorities of at least 16 Russian federal subjects have spent close to 200 million rubles (about $2.598 million) on tenders for youth military, patriotic, and historical training camps. Verstka’s identified list of camps aims to teach over 19,770 students of various ages skills including shooting, throwing hand grenades, and marching. They also appear to feature a strong ideological indoctrination component.[44]A Russian milblogger claimed on March 18 that Russian soldiers and volunteers who order electronics for drone assembly from China regularly encounter delays or losses of certain components while the shipments pass through Russian customs.[45] Such delays and component disappearances may result either from major inefficiencies and corruption in the Russian customs system or from intentional government confiscation of valuable electronic components.Russian authorities continue efforts to increase force generation capacity without resorting to a formal expansion of mobilization. A major Russian news portal claimed on March 18 that Ufa, Republic of Bashkortostan created the “Vatan” volunteer battalion and has already recruited 80 members.[46] Russian authorities ceased major recruitment calls for existing volunteer battalions in September 2022 with the start of involuntary mobilization after forming volunteer battalions in summer 2022.[47] The creation of the Vatan battalion may indicate a Russian effort to resuscitate volunteer battalions as an alternative to intensifying mobilization efforts. Russian authorities also continue to launch nationwide recruitment drives to attract contract soldiers.[48] Some Russian sources report that Russian authorities are pressuring or tricking men (especially reservists) to sign military contracts, including by calling them into military commissariats to verify their information.[49]The United Kingdom Ministry of Defense (UK MoD) reported on March 18 that the Russian State Duma introduced a bill to change the age bracket for conscription of men to ages 21-30 from the present bracket of ages 18-27. The raised age maximum for conscription will likely allow Russian authorities to conscript a broader pool of Russians due to the split of Russian demographics. The reasoning for raising the minimum conscription age is unclear. The UK MoD assessed that this change would allow Russian authorities to ensure that Russian students (who usually claim exemptions while studying from ages 18-21) will serve in the Russian Armed Forces.[50]  This change in the conscription ages is unlikely to have any impact on Russian force generation capacity in the near future, however. The UK MoD stated that this bill will likely pass and come into force in January 2024.[51]The Ukrainian General Staff claimed on March 18 that Russian occupation authorities in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts announced the start of large-scale military exercises involving the entire male conscript population in several cities to obscure mobilization within those cities.[52]Russian officials continue to respond inconsistently to complaint videos from units of mobilized soldiers. Russian news source Ostorozhno Novosti reported on March 17 that Russian authorities punished a platoon of mobilized soldiers from Kaliningrad within Russia’s 1004th regiment—which gained notoriety when a video of its soldiers arguing with their commander about their subordination to the Donetsk People’s Republic’s (DNR) forces went viral—by disbanding the platoon.[53] A local Tyumen Oblast news source reported on March 17 that Tyumen Oblast authorities responded to a video complaint from the “Wolverine” battalion of mobilized soldiers from Tymen Oblast by deflecting responsibility for the soldiers’ concerns onto the Russian MoD.[54] A prominent Russian news aggregator claimed on March 18 that Irkutsk Oblast Governor Igor Kobzev personally met with soldiers of the 1439th regiment—mobilized soldiers from Irkutsk Oblast who have recorded several video complaints, on which ISW has previously reported—to prove that the unit has not been destroyed, despite such rumors.[55] Kobzev reportedly stated that he would ensure that unspecified authorities would assign representatives to address the soldiers’ concerns.[56]Russian officials continue to crack down on all potential domestic signs of resistance to the war in Ukraine. Two Russian news sources reported on March 18 that the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia replaced its vice-rector for student affairs after he defended the extension of the university’s mission to unite people of different nationalities to include Ukrainians and claimed that the university needs to support Ukrainian students in Russia.[57] A Russian opposition news source reported on March 17 that Russian authorities arrested a 16-year-old student from Saint Petersburg for a failed arson attack on a military recruitment center in Kirovsk, Murmansk Oblast.[58]Activity in Russian-occupied Areas (Russian objective: consolidate administrative control of and annexed areas; forcibly integrate Ukrainian civilians into Russian sociocultural, economic, military, and governance systems) Russian occupation authorities continue efforts russify Ukrainians in occupied territories. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law on March 18 that supports the immediate formal revocation of Ukrainian citizenship when a Russian/Ukrainian dual citizen submits an application to renounce their Ukrainian citizenship.[59] The Ukrainian General Staff stated on March 18 that Russian authorities in occupied Rubizhne, Luhansk Oblast are forcing residents to obtain Russian citizenship and passports in order to gain employment. Occupation authorities in Rubizhne reportedly have not confiscated residents’ Ukrainian passports.[60] Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Crimea on March 18 to celebrate the 9th anniversary of the Russian occupation of Crimea. Putin met with schoolchildren and visited a Crimean children’s camp on March 18, one day after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant for Putin’s arrest for committing alleged war crimes involving the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia.[61] Russian occupation authorities continue to confiscate grain from occupied Ukrainian territories. Ukrainian Mariupol, Donetsk Oblast Mayoral Advisor Petro Andryushchenko stated on March 18 that Russian civilians and Russian trucks carrying Ukrainian wheat are leaving for Russia from occupied territories.[62] Andryushchenko also posted a video showing an alleged 20 tons of Ukrainian wheat dumped on the road from Mariupol to Sopyne (less than 15km east of Mariupol).[63] The reason for the waste of this wheat is unclear. Significant activity in Belarus (ISW assesses that a Russian or Belarusian attack into northern Ukraine in early 2023 is extraordinarily unlikely and has thus restructured this section of the update. It will no longer include counter-indicators for such an offensive. ISW will continue to report daily observed Russian and Belarusian military activity in Belarus, but these are not indicators that Russian and Belarusian forces are preparing for an imminent attack on Ukraine from Belarus. ISW will revise this text and its assessment if it observes any unambiguous indicators that Russia or Belarus is preparing to attack northern Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin held a phone discussion with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on March 17.[64] The Kremlin stated that Putin and Lukashenko discussed bilateral trade and economic cooperation, preparations for the meeting of the Supreme State Council of the Union State scheduled on an unspecified date in April, and the creation of international transport corridors.[65] ISW assesses that Belarus is likely aiding Russia in sanctions evasion schemes and it is likely that Putin and Lukashenko discussed these efforts.[66] Belarusian open-source investigative group the Hajun Project reported on March 17 that satellite images suggest that 1,000 Russian mobilized personnel have likely left the Obuz-Liasnouski training ground in Brest Oblast.[67] Satellite imagery shows a tent camp of Russian mobilized personnel at the training ground decreasing roughly in half between February and March, and the Hajun Project assessed that the decrease in tents represented roughly 1,000 Russian military personnel.[68] The Russian military likely deployed the trained mobilized personnel to Ukraine and will likely rotate in new Russian personnel for training at the Belarusian training ground. Note: ISW does not receive any classified material from any source, uses only publicly available information, and draws extensively on Russian, Ukrainian, and Western reporting and social media as well as commercially available satellite imagery and other geospatial data as the basis for these reports. References to all sources used are provided in the endnotes of each update.  [1] https://armyinform dot com.ua/2023/03/18/11-z-16-vorozhyh-droniv-kamikadze-shahed-znyshheno-cziyeyi-nochi-yurij-ignat/[2] https://t.me/kommunist/16434 ; https://t.me/readovkanews/54939 ; https://t.me/readovkanews/54942; https://t.me/rybar/44776; https://t.me/rybar/44766; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/46175    ; https://t.me/m0sc0wcalling/21423; https://t.me/miroshnik_r/10798; https://t.me/readovkanews/54948; https://t.me/rybar/44770; https://t.me/z_arhiv/19683 ; https://t.me/z_arhiv/19681;  https://t.me/dnipropetrovskaODA/3665; https://twitter.com/Cosmonaut19/status/1637025326047068161 ; https://twitter.com/hochu_dodomu/status/1636996929212096512; https://t.me/kozytskyy_maksym_official/7352; https://t.me/notes_veterans/8541; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/80694; https://t.me/z_arhiv/19676 ; https://t.me/z_arhiv/19670; https://t.me/readovkanews/54936 ; https://t.me/readovkanews/54946[3] https://t.me/readovkanews/54936 ; https://t.me/readovkanews/54946; https://t.me/z_arhiv/19668; https://t.me/rybar/44413; https://t.me/rybar/44552; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-9-2023; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/80012; https://t.me/rybar/44413 ; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/45934; https://t.me/readovkanews/54306 ; https://twitter.com/MaxRTucker/status/1633689731753017345; https://t.me/sashakots/38785  [4] https://ria dot ru/20233018/spetsoperatsiya-1858772656.html ; https://t.me/readovkanews/54963;  https://t.me/tass_agency/184773 ; https://novayagazeta dot eu/articles/2023/03/18/putin-podpisal-zakonoproekt-o-lishenii-svobody-do-15-let-za-feiki-pro-dobrovoltsev-news; https://t.me/readovkanews/54970[5] https://t.me/sotaproject/55566; https://meduza dot io/news/2023/03/17/v-moskve-politsiya-prishla-s-proverkoy-v-bary-underdog-i-la-virgen-posetitelyam-ugrozhali-shokerami-i-zastavlyali-podpevat-lyube; https://meduza dot io/news/2023/03/17/v-moskve-politsiya-prishla-s-proverkoy-v-bary-underdog-i-la-virgen-posetitelyam-ugrozhali-shokerami-i-zastavlyali-podpevat-lyube[6] http://en.kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/70597; https://t.me/readovkanews/54569; https://meduza dot io/news/2023/03/13/fsb-obvinila-aktivistku-dvizheniya-yamyfurgal-v-finansirovanii-vsu; https://t.me/rybar/44561; https://t.me/kommunist/16365;   https://t.me/rybar/44562; https://meduza dot io/news/2023/03/04/fsb-otchitalas-chto-zaderzhala-moskvichku-za-finansovuyu-pomosch-vsu-na-nee-zaveli-delo-o-gosizmene; https://iz dot ru/1478719/2023-03-04/moskvichku-zaderzhali-po-podozreniiu-v-gosizmene-iz-za-pomoshchi-vsu; https://tass dot ru/proisshestviya/17195433; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/79468;   https://t.me/rybar/44142; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/79468; https://t.me/readovkanews/54021; https://meduza dot io/feature/2023/02/27/shkolnitsa-iz-tulskoy-oblasti-narisovala-antivoennyy-risunok-teper-otets-kotoryy-vospityvaet-ee-odin-figurant-ugolovnogo-dela-o-diskreditatsii-armii [7] https://t.me/riafan/128629[8] https://t.me/riafan/128629[9] https://t.me/riafan/128629[10] https://isw.pub/UkrWar031523[11] https://t.me/grey_zone/17805[12] https://t.me/riafan/128629[13] https://t.me/Prigozhin_hat/2887; https://t.me/Prigozhin_hat/2888 ; https://t.me/concordgroup_official/612;[14] https://t.me/sergey_belopolskyi/2717; https://t.me/Prigozhin_hat/2887; https://t.me/Prigozhin_hat/2888 ; https://t.me/concordgroup_official/612;[15] https://t.me/z_arhiv/19698 ; https://t.me/concordgroup_official/609[16] https://t.me/z_arhiv/19716[17] https://1news.com dot ua/svit/kladovyshhe-vagnerivtsiv-rozroslosya-u-sim-raziv-zmi.html; https://nv dot ua/ukr/world/geopolitics/pvk-vagnera-virushili-v-mali-francuzki-zmi-50190472.html; https://topwar dot ru/207990-dobrovolcy-chvk-vagner-rasskazali-zachem-priehali-v-uchebnyj-centr-pod-novyj-god.html; https://93 dot ru/text/gorod/2023/03/15/72135788/; https://rucompromat dot com/organizations/chvk_vagnera; https://lenta dot ru/news/2018/03/05/vagner/[18] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-december-18[19] https://www.rbc dot ru/politics/18/03/2023/64159edf9a7947dbf7d278ff?utm_source=telegram&utm_medium=messenger[20] https://isw.pub/UkrWar022823 ; https://isw.pub/UkrWar02122023[21] https://www.bbc.com/russian/features-64984414?ocid=wsrussian.social.in-app-messaging.telegram..russiantelegram_.edit[22]https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02swMrRZrZpo6wCumSK4Xn95EXee1tfC2MD4BHgvuS8XULbN9NX7VnVAfjyEEasKsnl [23] https://t.me/basurin_e/238; https://t.me/readovkanews/54949[24] https://t.me/militarymediacenter/1467[25] https://t.me/basurin_e/238; https://t.me/wargonzo/11457[26] https://t.me/wargonzo/11457[27]https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02swMrRZrZpo6wCumSK4Xn95EXee1tfC2MD4BHgvuS8XULbN9NX7VnVAfjyEEasKsnl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0YMgjYUuUyjohSw7QtrjiAsbshvS9GWxzxCu6JP4yxWjsLzgPBHfNjDWddZfq1AcEl[28] https://t.me/wargonzo/11457 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/80661; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/46165[29]https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02swMrRZrZpo6wCumSK4Xn95EXee1tfC2MD4BHgvuS8XULbN9NX7VnVAfjyEEasKsnl[30] https://t.me/boris_rozhin/80754 ; https://t.me/basurin_e/238 ; https://t.me/z_arhiv/19708[31] https://t.me/riafan/128629 ; https://t.me/wargonzo/11457 ; https://t.me/basurin_e/238 ; https://t.me/rybar/44769 ; https://t.me/z_arhiv/19708[32] https://t.me/z_arhiv/19708[33] https://t.me/readovkanews/54949 ;[34] https://isw.pub/UkrWar030823[35] https://t.me/boris_rozhin/80661; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/46165[36]https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0YMgjYUuUyjohSw7QtrjiAsbshvS9GWxzxCu6JP4yxWjsLzgPBHfNjDWddZfq1AcEl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02swMrRZrZpo6wCumSK4Xn95EXee1tfC2MD4BHgvuS8XULbN9NX7VnVAfjyEEasKsnl[37] https://t.me/rybar/44769 ; https://t.me/basurin_e/238[38] https://t.me/mykolaivskaODA/4584; https://t.me/zoda_gov_ua/17533; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02swMrRZrZpo6wCumSK4Xn95EXee1tfC2MD4BHgvuS8XULbN9NX7VnVAfjyEEasKsnl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0YMgjYUuUyjohSw7QtrjiAsbshvS9GWxzxCu6JP4yxWjsLzgPBHfNjDWddZfq1AcEl[39] https://suspilne dot media/417843-na-livoberezzi-sili-oboroni-znisili-reaktivnu-sistemu-zalpovogo-vognu-gumenuk/[40] https://suspilne dot media/417843-na-livoberezzi-sili-oboroni-znisili-reaktivnu-sistemu-zalpovogo-vognu-gumenuk/[41] https://twitter.com/CrimeaUA1/status/1637046639948107777?s=20; https://twitter.com/CrimeaUA1/status/1637046644494700544[42] https://t.me/hueviyherson/36638[43] https://t.me/concordgroup_official/611[44] https://t.me/svobodnieslova/1604; https://notes.citeam.org/mobilization-mar-16-17[45] https://t.me/notes_veterans/8551[46] https://ufa.mk dot ru/social/2023/03/18/v-ufe-v-ryady-batalona-vatan-vstupili-uzhe-80-chelovek.html[47]https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Russian%20Offensive%20Campaign%20Assessment%2C%20March%206%2C%202023%20PDF.pdf[48] https://t.me/bazabazon/16408; https://t.me/rotondamedia/4415; https://t.me/Taygainfo/40037 [49] https://t.me/news_sirena/12512; https://notes.citeam.org/mobilization-mar-16-17; https://t.me/mobilizationnews/10092; https://t.me/rotondamedia/4415; https://t.me/pchikov/5464; https://t.me/news_sirena/12525; https://t.me/mobilizationnews/10094; . https://itsmycity-ru dot cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/itsmycity.ru/amp/2023-03-17/ekaterinburgskie-starsheklassniki-poluchili-povestki-vvoenkomat-dlya-utochneniya-dannyh[50] https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1636983218325823488?s=20[51] https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1636983218325823488?s=20[52]https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0YMgjYUuUyjohSw7QtrjiAsbshvS9GWxzxCu6JP4yxWjsLzgPBHfNjDWddZfq1AcEl[53] https://t.me/ostorozhno_novosti/14938[54] https://72 dot ru/text/gorod/2023/03/17/72138242/; https://notes.citeam.org/mobilization-mar-16-17; https://72 dot ru/text/gorod/2023/03/01/72098579/[55] https://t.me/readovkanews/5496; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-4-2023; https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Russian%20Offensive%20Campaign%20Assessment%2C%20March%206%2C%202023%20PDF.pdf [56] https://t.me/readovkanews/5496[57] https://meduza dot io/news/2023/03/18/v-rudn-smenili-prorektora-posle-poyavleniya-flagov-ukrainy-na-vuzovskoy-vystavke; https://www.rbc dot ru/society/18/03/2023/6415032d9a7947b6123c906d[58] https://t.me/mediazzzona/10987; https://notes.citeam.org/mobilization-mar-16-17[59] https://interfax dot ru/russia/891727; https://t.me/readovkanews/54961; https://t.me/readovkanews/54976[60]https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02swMrRZrZpo6wCumSK4Xn95EXee1tfC2MD4BHgvuS8XULbN9NX7VnVAfjyEEasKsnl[61] https://interfax dot ru/russia/891740 ; https://t.me/razvozhaev/2278; https://meduza dot io/news/2023/03/18/putin-vpervye-za-tri-goda-priehal-v-krym-v-godovschinu-anneksii-poluostrova[62] https://t.me/andriyshTime/7817[63] https://t.me/andriyshTime/7814; https://t.me/andriyshTime/7813[64] http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/70705[65] http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/70705[66] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-17-2023[67] https://twitter.com/Hajun_BY/status/1636809287258259474?s=20; https://twitter.com/Hajun_BY/status/1636809290559238145?s=20;  https://twitter.com/Hajun_BY/status/1636809292610240512?s=20; https://twitter.com/Hajun_BY/status/1636809294623457290?s=20; https://twitter.com/Hajun_BY/status/1636809296552837129 [68] https://twitter.com/Hajun_BY/status/1636809287258259474?s=20; https://twitter.com/Hajun_BY/status/1636809290559238145?s=20;  https://twitter.com/Hajun_BY/status/1636809292610240512?s=20; https://twitter.com/Hajun_BY/status/1636809294623457290?s=20; https://twitter.com/Hajun_BY/status/1636809296552837129  

[Author: Sydney] [Category: Russia, Ukraine]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 3/25/23 7:56am
  Annika Ganzeveld, Amin Soltani, Johanna Moore, and Nicholas CarlMarch 17, 2023, 6:00 pm ETThe Iran Updates are produced by the Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute with support from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). To receive Iran Updates via email, please subscribe here.Some Iranian leaders continue to refuse to make the necessary changes that will meaningfully address popular frustrations. They are instead reaffirming their efforts to “Islam-ize” Iranian society and suppress public displays of behavior they perceive as unreligious during the upcoming Persian new year celebrations. Regime officials have emphasized the “Islamic” part of the “Iranian-Islamic identity” in recent days by suggesting that Ramadan—an Islamic holiday—must take precedence over Nowrouz—the Persian New Year holiday with Zoroastrian origins. President Ebrahim Raisi previously argued that the “Iranian-Islamic identity” is a single harmonious identity on March 16.[1] Multiple Friday prayer leaders warned that Nowrouz must not overshadow Ramadan during their Friday sermons on March 17.[2] Several regime officials also emphasized on March 17 that Iranians must not “violate the sanctity” of Ramadan while celebrating Nowrouz.[3] Khuzestan Public Revolutionary Prosecutor Sadegh Jafari Chegani stated that “eating in front of those who fast [for Ramadan] is a crime."[4] Chegani also announced that the Khuzestan Prosecutor’s Office issued judicial orders for officers to confront unveiled women and that failure to comply with these orders will be considered a “dereliction of duty.”[5] IRGC Operations Deputy Brigadier General Abbas Nilforoushan separately announced plans to implement “patrols for enjoining good and forbidding evil” in Qom Province between March 16 and the end of Ramadan, implying the resumption of morality patrols comprised[6] It is noteworthy that the IRGC is establishing these patrols in Qom, the religious heartland of Iran. This suggests the regime perceives that Qom residents will be less inclined to resist a new morality patrol than other Iranians due to the generally conservative nature of the city. Officials’ appeals to Iranians--particularly Iranian women--to “preserve the sanctity of Ramadan” will likely further alienate the regime from Iranians who condemn its imposition of religion on the public.Some regime officials acknowledge that the regime has not resolved Iran’s economic problems. Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf stated during a visit to the Zarand Steel Factory in Kerman Province on March 17 that “inflation in the country is progressing at such a speed that the people’s purchasing power has in effect decreased.”[7] Some Friday prayer leaders made similar remarks. Kermanshah Friday Prayer Leader Mostafa Ulama stated during his Friday sermon on March 17 that the government must prioritize controlling and reducing the price of goods.[8] Tehran Interim Friday Prayer Leader Mohammad Javad Haj Ali Akbari similarly acknowledged during his Friday sermon that the Iranian people “have confronted many problems stemming from the excessive increase in prices.”[9] Although the regime has succeeded in raising the value of the Iranian rial after it fell to a record low of 600,000 rials to the dollar on February 26, the rial has not recovered to pre-Mahsa Amini movement levels.[10] The rial was valued at around 298,200 rials to the dollar in September 2022, compared to 471,000 rials to one US dollar on March 17.[11] While the regime has increased the rial’s value in recent days, moreover, it has not addressed high inflation. Iran’s inflation rate remains at around 50 percent, as CTP previously reported.[12] The regime’s inability to resolve Iranians’ economic grievances in addition to its refusal to provide sociocultural concessions will likely fuel greater resentment among the population toward the regime.The regime's securitization of Zahedan in recent weeks failed to intimidate Prominent Sunni cleric Moulana Abdol Hamid into halting his anti-regime sermons, which may help normalize public discussions about creating a more inclusive political system. Abdol Hamid argued during his Friday sermon on March 17 that his local supporters have avoided resorting to violence during their weekly protests. He lauded that there was “no war or insecurity,” despite security forces injuring and killing protesters. Abdol Hamid could be trying to attract the wider non-Baloch population to his movement by signaling to them that his protest movement is peaceful. CTP has previously reported on Abdol Hamid’s attempts to appeal to the entire Iranian nation, irrespective of political, sectarian, and ethnic differences. His emphasis on the fact that the Zahedan protests did not cause any insecurity could also be part of an attempt to demonstrate that the regime has tolerated both his calls for inclusion and his other demands, signaling that the public discussion over these issues is possible and should be continued. These observations are consistent with CTP’s previous assessments, namely that Abdol Hamid’s careful balancing of actions and rhetoric pressures the regime without instigating a violence escalation and that the regime may be tolerating Abdol Hamid’s continued criticisms because of his nonviolent posture, restraining the different anti-regime militant groups in the province.Abdol Hamid repeated his calls for an inclusive government during his March 17 sermon that involves more than just Shia representation. Abdol Hamid stated that that all the “cries and protests are due to one religious view” governing the country.[13] He emphasized the diversity of beliefs inside the country, arguing that the socio-political domination of one religious view over all others has limited the open expression of diverse opinions. Abdol Hamid further stated that many capable individuals belonging to minority groups have been excluded from administrative roles in government. Though Abdol Hamid was echoing the long-standing grievances of his Sunni Baluch audience, he maintained a non-sectarian tone by stating “you cannot have one ethnicity, religion, or sect governing the entire country...governance needs to be transethnic, irreligious, and non-sectarian.” CTP does not interpret Abdol Hamid’s comments as advocating for a secular state but simply demanding the inclusion of all ethnic groups and beliefs.Key TakeawaysSome Iranian leaders continue to refuse to make the necessary changes that will meaningfully address popular frustrations.Some regime officials acknowledge that the regime has not resolved Iran’s economic problems.Prominent Sunni cleric Moulana Abdol Hamid intends to normalize public discussions in Iran about creating a more inclusive political system.At least one protest occurred in one city and one province.Internal Security and Protest ActivityAt least one protest occurred in one city and one province. CTP assesses with moderate to high confidence that protests occurred in the following cities:Zahedan, Sistan and Baluchistan Province[14]Size: MediumDemographic: Individuals chanting anti-regime slogans, some focusing on recent regime executions of political dissidentsEconomic AffairsPresident Ebrahim Raisi chaired an extraordinary meeting of the Market Regulation Headquarters on March 16.[15] Several economic ministers briefed the headquarters on government efforts to supply consumer goods to the public. Raisi called on provincial governors to ensure that trade unions are properly managing the consumer goods market.The Iranian rial depreciated from 463,500 rials to one US dollar on March 16 to 471,000 rials to one US dollar on March 17.[16]Foreign Policy and DiplomacyForeign Affairs Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian tweeted on March 17 denying any divisions or tensions within the regime foreign policy apparatus.[17] Abdollahian posted this tweet in reference to Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani representing Tehran in the Iran-Saudi Arabia normalization talks rather than Abdollahian. Abdollahian emphasized that the regime foreign policy apparatus operates cohesively under President Ebrahim Raisi. Abdollahian’s remarks partially contradict recent Western reports that claimed that the Office of the Supreme Leader—not Raisi—oversaw Iranian participation in the normalization talks.[18]Iranian state media reported that Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani will likely pay an official visit to Iraq in the coming days to attend the fifth Baghdad International Dialogue Conference.[19] Security officials from various countries discuss political and security challenges in this conference. The fourth conference occurred in August 2021. Representatives from Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, and the UAE will reportedly attend the conference.[20]External Security and Military AffairsIranian proxy media claimed that unidentified gunmen targeted Anbar Awakening Council leader Sattam Abu Risha in Ramadi, Anbar Province on March 17.[21] These outlets suggested that militants controlled by Iraqi Parliament Speaker Mohammad al Halbousi were responsible.[22] Sattam Abu Risha is affiliated with the Iranian proxy Kataib Hezbollah – who is currently leading an information operation against Iraqi Parliament Speaker Mohammed al Halbousi.[23] Iraqi Military Spokesperson Major General Yahya Rasool denied that there had been an assassination attempt and claimed that security forces intervened in the gathering after discovering flyers calling for volunteers for tribal militias.[24] CTP cannot independently verify either claim.  Sunni tribes formed the Anbar Awakening Council in 2006 in partnership with Coalition forces in Iraq to counter al-Qaeda in Anbar.[25]Senior Hamas officials met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and Special Representative of the President of Russia for the Middle East Mikhail Bogdanov in Moscow, Russia on March 16.[26] The head of Hamas's International Relations Office Musa Abu Marzouk and Hamas member Izzat al Rishq led the delegation to Moscow. Hamas-affiliated Palestinian Press Agency reported that Marzouk and al-Rishq discussed Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Benjamin Netanyahu’s administration, and other unspecified Palestinian issues.[27] According to a Media Line report, Lebanese Hezbollah has recruited fighters on behalf of the Russian government to fight in Ukraine.[28] CTP cannot verify Media Line’s report. Hamas last met with Russian officials in Moscow on September 28, 2022.[29] [1] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-16-2023[2] http://www dot isna dot ir/news/1401122618717http://www dot isna dot ir/news/1401122618778[3] https://www dot entekhab dot ir/fa/news/719346/%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%AF%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%AE%D9%88%D8%B2%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%B9%D8%AF%D9%85-%D8%B1%D8%B9%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%AA-%D8%AD%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%A8-%D8%AC%D8%B1%D9%85-%D9%85%D8%B4%D9%87%D9%88%D8%AF-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA-%D8%AF%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%B1-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%AE%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%AF-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D8%A8%DB%8C-%D8%AD%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%B5%D8%A7%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%B4%D8%AF-%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%A7%DA%A9%D9%86-%D9%88-%D9%88%D8%B3%DB%8C%D9%84%D9%87%E2%80%8C%D9%87%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D9%86%D9%82%D9%84%DB%8C%D9%87-%DA%A9%D9%87-%D8%B3%D8%A8%D8%A8-%D9%86%D8%B4%D8%B1-%D9%88-%D8%A7%D8%B4%D8%A7%D8%B9%D9%87-%D8%A8%DB%8C%E2%80%8C%D8%AD%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%A8%DB%8C-%D8%B4%D9%88%D9%86%D8%AF-%D9%BE%D9%84%D9%85%D8%A8-%D9%88-%D8%AA%D9%88%D9%82%DB%8C%D9%81-%D8%AE%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%87%D9%86%D8%AF-%D8%B4%D8%AF[4] https://www dot entekhab dot ir/fa/news/719346/%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%AF%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%AE%D9%88%D8%B2%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%B9%D8%AF%D9%85-%D8%B1%D8%B9%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%AA-%D8%AD%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%A8-%D8%AC%D8%B1%D9%85-%D9%85%D8%B4%D9%87%D9%88%D8%AF-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA-%D8%AF%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%B1-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%AE%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%AF-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D8%A8%DB%8C-%D8%AD%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%B5%D8%A7%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%B4%D8%AF-%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%A7%DA%A9%D9%86-%D9%88-%D9%88%D8%B3%DB%8C%D9%84%D9%87%E2%80%8C%D9%87%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D9%86%D9%82%D9%84%DB%8C%D9%87-%DA%A9%D9%87-%D8%B3%D8%A8%D8%A8-%D9%86%D8%B4%D8%B1-%D9%88-%D8%A7%D8%B4%D8%A7%D8%B9%D9%87-%D8%A8%DB%8C%E2%80%8C%D8%AD%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%A8%DB%8C-%D8%B4%D9%88%D9%86%D8%AF-%D9%BE%D9%84%D9%85%D8%A8-%D9%88-%D8%AA%D9%88%D9%82%DB%8C%D9%81-%D8%AE%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%87%D9%86%D8%AF-%D8%B4%D8%AF[5] https://www dot entekhab dot ir/fa/news/719346/%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%AF%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%AE%D9%88%D8%B2%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%B9%D8%AF%D9%85-%D8%B1%D8%B9%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%AA-%D8%AD%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%A8-%D8%AC%D8%B1%D9%85-%D9%85%D8%B4%D9%87%D9%88%D8%AF-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA-%D8%AF%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%B1-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%AE%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%AF-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D8%A8%DB%8C-%D8%AD%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%B5%D8%A7%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%B4%D8%AF-%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%A7%DA%A9%D9%86-%D9%88-%D9%88%D8%B3%DB%8C%D9%84%D9%87%E2%80%8C%D9%87%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D9%86%D9%82%D9%84%DB%8C%D9%87-%DA%A9%D9%87-%D8%B3%D8%A8%D8%A8-%D9%86%D8%B4%D8%B1-%D9%88-%D8%A7%D8%B4%D8%A7%D8%B9%D9%87-%D8%A8%DB%8C%E2%80%8C%D8%AD%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%A8%DB%8C-%D8%B4%D9%88%D9%86%D8%AF-%D9%BE%D9%84%D9%85%D8%A8-%D9%88-%D8%AA%D9%88%D9%82%DB%8C%D9%81-%D8%AE%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%87%D9%86%D8%AF-%D8%B4%D8%AF[6] https://www dot entekhab dot ir/fa/news/719335/%D9%85%D8%B9%D8%A7%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%B9%D9%85%D9%84%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%B3%D9%BE%D8%A7%D9%87-%D8%AD%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%A8-%D8%AC%D8%B2%D8%A1-%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%AC%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%87%DB%8C-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D9%85%D8%B1%D8%AF%D9%85-%D8%B9%D9%81%D8%AA-%D9%88-%D8%A2%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%B4-%D8%AE%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%AF%D9%87-%D8%AC%D8%B2%D8%A1-%D8%AE%D8%B7%D9%88%D8%B7-%D9%82%D8%B1%D9%85%D8%B2-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA[7] https://www dot tasnimnews dot com/fa/news/1401/12/26/2868865/قالیباف-قدرت-خرید-مردم-عملاً-کاهش-پیدا-کرده-است-کارگران-بابت-حقوق-های-دریافتی-گلایه-دارند-فیلم[8] http://www dot isna dot ir/news/1401122618717[9] https://www dot irna dot ir/news/85059783/%D8%AF%D8%B4%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D9%85%D8%AD%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%AE%D9%88%D8%AF-%D8%AF%DA%86%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D8%B4%D8%AA%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%87-%D8%B4%D8%AF%D9%87-%D8%A8%D9%88%D8%AF-%D9%85%D9%84%D8%AA-%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%85%D9%86%D8%B7%D9%82-%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%82%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%A8%DB%8C[10] https://bonbast dot com/https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-february-27-2023[11] https://www.rferl.org/a/iran-currency-weakens-nuclear-deal-dead/32186097.html[12] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-14-2023[13] https://abdolhamid dot net/persian/2023/03/17/13539/[14] https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1636738251691098116?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1636692830562156544?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1636682443062222853?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1636681327457050627?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1636680836052336640?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/RadioFarda_/status/1636714039425351680?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/RadioFarda_/status/1636709530049343488?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1636706858139369472?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1636703378356027394?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1636700703535013889?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/bbcpersian/status/1636690363774652417?s=20[15] http://www.president dot ir/fa/143012[16] https://bonbast dot com[17] https://twitter.com/Amirabdolahian/status/1636642851923668994[18] https://www.middleeasteye dot net/news/saudi-arabia-iran-reconciliation-khamenei-office-agreed-stop-arming-houthis[19] https://www.irna dot ir/news/85060003[20] https://www.irna dot ir/news/85060003[21] https://twitter.com/Tammuz_Intel/status/1636703481405767681 ;https://twitter.com/BnT_Al_ansar/status/1636705626540703744 ;https://twitter.com/onenewsiq/status/1636723780423696385 ;https://twitter.com/Adammkmm/status/1636705337569935362[22] https://t.me/sabreenS1/72236;https://t.me/sabreenS1/72233;https://t.me/sabreenS1/72237;https://t.me/sabreenS1/72238[23] https://carnegieendowment.org/sada/87147[24] https://shafaq dot com/ar/%D8%A3%D9%85%D9%80%D9%86/%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%B9%D8%B3%D9%83%D8%B1%D9%8A-%D8%B1%D8%B3%D9%85%D9%8A-%D9%8A%D9%86%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%AA%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%B6-%D8%A8%D9%88-%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%B4%D8%A9-%D9%84%D9%85%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%88%D9%84%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D8%BA%D8%AA%D9%8A%D8%A7%D9%84[25] https://cco.ndu.edu/Portals/96/Documents/prism/prism_2-1/Prism_3-18_Al-Jabouri_Jensen.pdf[26] https://hamas dot ps/ar/p/16918 ;https://www.haaretz dot com/middle-east-news/2023-03-14/ty-article/.premium/russia-invites-hamas-leaders-for-kremlin-visit/00000186-df39-dc06-afdf-ff3fd16c0000[27] https://safa dotps/post/349604/%D9%88%D9%81%D8%AF-%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%AD%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B3-%D9%8A%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%82%D9%8A-%D8%A8%D9%88%D8%BA%D8%AF%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D9%81-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D9%85%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%83%D9%88-%D9%88%D9%8A%D8%A8%D8%AD%D8%AB-%D8%A2%D8%AE%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%B7%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%AA[28] https://themedialine dot org/top-stories/exclusive-putin-reportedly-paying-palestinians-from-lebanese-camps-to-fight-in-ukraine/[29] https://www.memri.org/reports/hamas-leaders-visiting-moscow-russian-officials-we-are-entitled-resist-occupation-every 

[Author: Unknown] [Category: Iran]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 3/25/23 3:00am
 Annika Ganzeveld, Amin Soltani, Johanna Moore, Nicholas Carl, and Frederick W. KaganMarch 16, 2023, 7:30 pm ETContributors: Anya CaraianiThe Iran Updates are produced by the Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute with support from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). To receive Iran Updates via email, please subscribe here.Some Iranian leaders are likely concerned about their ability to convince the population that the national Iranian identity is inextricably interwoven with the regime’s religious ideology. President Ebrahim Raisi discussed “reviving the national Iranian-Islamic identity” during a meeting with the Board of Trustees of the Iranology Foundation on March 16.[1] Raisi reiterated the need for more “explanation jihad,” stating that textbooks should familiarize students with this “noble and proud” identity.[2] Raisi’s emphasis on “Iranian-Islamic” being a single identity underscores his efforts to frame Islam as an intrinsic part of what it means to be Iranian. Iranian officials have similarly emphasized the compatibility of Nowrouz—the Persian New Year—with Ramadan in recent days. These two holidays—the former of which has Zoroastrian origins and the latter of which is one of the most important holidays in Islam—will overlap in 2023. Several regime officials have argued in recent days that there is “no conflict” between these holidays and that Nowrouz and Ramadan festivities can take place simultaneously.[3]The regime’s struggle to reconcile the Islamic Republic’s ideology with pre-Islamic Iranian identity is not new. Former Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini tolerated the celebration of Nowrouz but described Zoroastrianism as “fire-worshipping,” for example.[4] Iranian leaders, such as Raisi, may be giving greater attention to this issue now due to the coincidence of Nowrouz and Ramadan in 2023 and some protesters’ use of Persian nationalist themes during the Mahsa Amini protest movement. Protest organizations called for demonstrations on Cyrus the Great Day in October 2022 to celebrate the founder of the Achaemenid Empire, as CTP previously reported.[5] Although these protests did not materialize, regime officials may assess that historical Persian nationalism still poses a major ideological threat to the regime. The regime’s main strategy for countering this ideology—“explanation jihad”—may inadvertently increase historical Persian nationalism’s appeal among Iranians, however.Iranian officials and state media have scaled back their discussion on the recent student poisonings—an unusual response to this recent, large-scale security crisis. Regime officials and media have largely shifted their attention away from the poisoning incidents to other issues—such as the Iran-Saudi Arabia normalization agreement—in recent days.[6] Their lack of attention to the student poisonings that sparked panic across Iran is striking. In normal states government officials would discuss such a security crisis for weeks and debate how best to address the physical and psychological impacts of such an event on students and other victims. The regime’s relative inattention to this issue is especially surprising in light of reports that state security services have arrested some perpetrators.[7] Regime officials accused some of the arrested individuals of cooperating with anti-regime group Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and foreign intelligence services, as CTP previously reported.[8] If—as the regime claims—a foreign network did indeed infiltrate Iran and poison Iranian schoolchildren, the regime would undoubtedly publish images of these individuals and broadcast their forced confessions. Regime officials have also claimed that the majority of poisonings were psychogenic, begging the question—if this is true—why the regime is arresting dozens of people for the poisonings.[9]Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary Ali Shamkhani visited the UAE on March 16—the most senior Iranian visit to the country since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited in 2007.[10] Shamkhani met with Emirati President Mohammad bin Zayed al Nahyan and National Security Adviser Tahnoon bin Zayed al Nahyan to discuss bilateral ties and regional security, possibly to include talks on Yemen.[11] This visit follows the announcement of the normalization of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia on March 10 as well as reports that Iran and Bahrain may be engaged in similar normalization talks.[12] Central Bank Governor Mohammad Reza Farzin accompanied Shamkhani to the UAE as part of economic and financial discussions with Emirati officials. Iranian media reported that the purpose of Farzin’s visit was to pursue “monetary, banking, and foreign exchange agreements” with the Emiratis, which may support Iranian efforts to bypass US sanctions.[13] Iran has used businesses in Emirati commercial centers to circumvent US sanctions over the past decade.[14]Key TakeawaysSome Iranian leaders are likely concerned about their ability to convince the population that the national Iranian identity is inextricably interwoven with the regime’s religious ideology.Iranian officials and state media have scaled back their discussion on the recent student poisonings—an unusual response to this recent, large-scale security crisis.Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary Ali Shamkhani visited the UAE—the most senior Iranian visit to the country since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited in 2007.At least five protests occurred in five cities across two provinces.Internal Security and Protest ActivityAt least five protests occurred in five cities across two provinces on March 16. CTP assesses with high to moderate confidence that protests occurred in the following cities:Marivan, Kurdistan Province[15]Size: SmallDemographic: TeachersSaghez, Kurdistan Province[16]Size: SmallDemographic: Individuals gathered around Mahsa Amini’s graveSanandaj, Kurdistan Province[17]Size: MediumDemographic: Individuals gathered by the graves of protesters killed in the Mahsa Amini movementMahabad, West Azerbaijan Province[18]Size: SmallDemographic: Individuals gathered in honor of those who lost their livesCTP assesses with low confidence that protests occurred in the following cities:Divandarreh, Kurdistan Province[19]Size: SmallDemographic: Individuals gathered by the graves of protesters killed in the Mahsa Amini movement Amnesty International reported that Iranian security personnel tortured children as young as 12 for protesting in the Mahsa Amini protest movement. The report estimated that the regime likely arrested thousands of children protesters and corroborated prior reports that security personnel detained many children alongside adults.[20] Interviewed victims stated that Iranian authorities used inhumane acts, such as physical and sexual violence, to extract forced confessions from detained children.[21]Hardline politician Gholam Ali Haddad Adel acknowledged ongoing divisions among hardliners during a speech to his political party—the Coalition Council of Islamic Revolutionary Forces—on March 16.[22] Haddad Adel emphasized the need for constructive interactions between the Raisi administration and Parliament and noted the need to overcome internal party disputes. Haddad Adel is close to the Office of the Supreme Leader as he is the father-in-law of Mojtaba Khamenei—the son of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Haddad Adel may have been signaling messages from Mojtaba or his father in the speech. Haddad Adel may have been referring to the recent debate between pragmatic hardliners and more ideological figures, on which CTP has reported previously.[23]President Ebrahim Raisi stressed the unity between government and regime entities when inaugurating a cancer treatment center on March 16. Raisi stated that his administration did not view nehad, or institutions, as separate from his administration. Raisi additionally praised the role of the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order (EIKO) in providing services to the Iranian population.[24] The EIKO, also known as Setad, is a business conglomerate under the control of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and was estimated to be worth 95 billion US dollars in 2013.[25] The US Treasury designated EIKO and several of its subsidiaries as recently as January 13, 2021.[26]Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader Kazem Sadeghi urged pious individuals to advocate for mandatory veiling standards on March 16. Sadeghi warned that those who remained silent on veiling “are not guardians of the religion.”[27] Sadeghi’s statements are consistent with other senior Iranian officials’ calls for ”explanation jihad”—the regime theory that indoctrinating and ideologizing the population will increase public support for the political establishment and reduce anti-regime sentiment.[28] Sadeghi’s comments also adhere to recent regime endorsements of a collective-punishment model to enforce mandatory veiling.[29]Economic AffairsThe regime has continued to succeed in raising the value of the Iranian after it fell to a record low of 600,000 rials to the dollar on February 26.[30] The Iranian rial further appreciated from 466,500 rials to one US dollar on March 15 to 463,500 rials to one US dollar on March 16.[31]Foreign Policy and DiplomacyThe Wall Street Journal reported on March 16 that Iran had agreed to cease covert weapons shipments to the Houthis in Yemen.[32] The Journal also reported on March 12 that Iran had agreed to cease encouraging cross-border Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia in exchange for the Saudis restraining anti-regime outlet Iran International from continuing its critical coverage of the regime.[33] Iran and Saudi Arabia signed an agreement on March 10 to reestablish bilateral relations, as CTP previously reported.[34]Reuters reported that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei played a role in bringing China into the Iran-Saudi Arabia talks on March 16.[35] Reuters, citing two unidentified Iranian officials, reported that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei became frustrated with the slow pace of Iran-Saudi Arabia talks in September 2022 and held discussions with his team that ultimately led to China mediating.[36] It is noteworthy that the article specified that Khamenei held these discussions in September 2022—a time when rumors were circulating about Khamenei’s worsening health.[37] Reuters also reported that an unidentified Iranian official stated that Iran will use its “regional influence, particularly in Yemen, to help Riyadh’s security.”[38] These Iranian officials may have sought to convey to a Western audience that Khamenei has personally endorsed the normalization talks and thereby counter suggestions that the regime may be divided on a potential rapprochement with Riyadh.External Security and Military AffairsBadr Organization-affiliated Iraqi officials suggested that the Islamic State or intra-Sunni violence was responsible for a massacre in Diyala Province on March 16 that the Badr Organization likely conducted. Several members of the Parliamentary Security and Defense Committee, chaired by Badr-affiliated Hakim al Zamili, reported on Mach 16 that the committee is developing a security plan to counter the Islamic State and gang-related crimes in Diyala Province.[39] Zamili previously led the Security and Defense Committee on a fact-finding mission to Diyala Province on March 1 to investigate the likely Badr committed massacre and later called on the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service and Badr-affiliated Emergency Response Division to increase counterterrorism operations in the province.[40] Badr-affiliated government officials have criticized Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al Sudani’s security reform proposals and deployments to Diyala Province to arrest individuals tied to the recent killings in the province.The Badr Organization is meanwhile trying to preserve and reinforce its security influence in Diyala Province. The Commander of the Popular Mobilization Forces Diyala Operations Command—Talib al –Moussawi—reported that Badr’s 1st Brigade, 23rd Brigade, 24th Brigade, and 110th Brigade have deployed to Diyala ostensibly as additional security for upcoming Nowrouz holiday events.[41] Badr Organization leader Hadi al Ameri previously warned Sudani against removing Badr Organization officials from security posts on March 12 and suggested that Badr should be responsible for security in the province.[42]Syrian President Bashar al Assad reiterated Syria’s demands for engaging in rapprochement talks with Turkish President Recep Erdogan and signaled close partnership with Russia in an interview with Russian state media outlet Novosti on March 15. Assad repeated his demand for Turkey to withdraw its troops from Syrian territory and retract its support for terrorist organizations in Syria prior to engaging in rapprochement talks.[43] Assad also expressed interest in establishing new Russian bases in Syria as well as hosting Russian hypersonic missiles and air defense systems. Assad and the Kremlin likely coordinated the interview to signal to Turkey unity between Damascus and Moscow, regardless of whether the Russian military presence in Syria changes. Russia’s military presence in Syria served as a deterrent against Turkish ground incursions and Assad’s interview is likely intended to garner further concessions from Erdogan in any possible normalization talks.Turkish state-media newspaper Sabah claimed on March 16 that a deputy-level meeting between Turkish and Syrian officials is expected to take place within the next week.[44] No other state media outlet has reported on upcoming talks, however, possibly indicating that Erdogan is ready to resume negotiations, but Assad may not be. Erdogan may perceive an increased urgency to secure a political victory, such as normalizing ties with Damascus and sending back Syrian refugees, after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake on February 6 damaged Erdogan’s popularity ahead of an upcoming election on May 14.[45][1] http://www dot president dot ir/fa/143007[2] http://www dot president dot ir/fa/143007[3] https://www dot isna dot ir/news/1401122316477/%D9%86%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%B2-%D8%B1%D9%85%D8%B6%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C-%DB%B1%DB%B4%DB%B0%DB%B2-%D8%A8%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%AF-%DA%86%DA%AF%D9%88%D9%86%D9%87-%D8%A8%D8%B1%DA%AF%D8%B2%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%B4%D9%88%D8%AFhttps://www dot isna dot ir/news/1401122417063/%D8%A8%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%AF-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D9%86%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%87-%D8%B1%DB%8C%D8%B2%DB%8C-%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%B9%DB%8C-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%81%D8%A7%D8%AF%D9%87-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D8%B4%D8%A8-%D9%87%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D9%86%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%B2-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%87-%D8%B1%D9%85%D8%B6%D8%A7%D9%86[4] https://iranwire dot com/en/features/69205/[5] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-october-26[6] https://www dot irna dot ir/news/85052826/%D8%AD%D8%B0%D9%81-%D8%A2%D9%85%D8%B1%DB%8C%DA%A9%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D9%85%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D9%85%D9%87%D9%85-%D8%AE%D8%A7%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%85%DB%8C%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%87-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%81%D9%82-%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%88-%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A8%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%A7%D9%86https://www dot tasnimnews dot com/fa/news/1401/12/19/2865449/اعلام-توافق-ایران-و-عربستان-در-پکن-حذف-آمریکا-از-مناسبات-مهم-غرب-آسیا[7] https://www dot irna dot ir/news/85058440/%D8%AF%D8%B3%D8%AA%DA%AF%DB%8C%D8%B1%DB%8C-%DB%B1%DB%B1%DB%B8-%D9%86%D9%81%D8%B1-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D9%85%D9%88%D8%B6%D9%88%D8%B9-%D9%85%D8%B3%D9%85%D9%88%D9%85%DB%8C%D8%AA-%D8%AF%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%B4-%D8%A2%D9%85%D9%88%D8%B2%D8%A7%D9%86[8] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-13-2023[9] https://www dot etemadonline dot com/%D8%A8%D8%AE%D8%B4-%D8%A7%D8%AC%D8%AA%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B9%DB%8C-23/601112-%D9%85%D8%B3%D9%85%D9%88%D9%85%DB%8C%D8%AA-%D8%AF%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%B4-%D8%A2%D9%85%D9%88%D8%B2%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%88%D8%B2%DB%8C%D8%B1-%DA%A9%D8%B4%D9%88%D8%B1[10] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-emirates-iran-ahmadinejad/iran-president-starts-first-official-visit-to-uae-idUSL1331465520070513 [11] https://www.tasnimnews dot com/fa/news/1401/12/25/2868554/شمخانی-نگاه-دولت-به-همکاری-های-منطقه-ای-ایجاد-منطقه-قوی-است ; https://www.irna dot ir/news/85059334/%D8%AF%D8%B1%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%B4%D9%85%D8%AE%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D8%B1%D8%A6%DB%8C%D8%B3-%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D9%85%D8%AA%D8%AD%D8%AF%D9%87-%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A8%DB%8C-%D8%AF%DB%8C%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B1-%DA%A9%D8%B1%D8%AF[12] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-10-2023 ; https://amwaj dot media/article/exclusive-bahrain-iran-held-low-profile-exchanges-amid-iranian-saudi-détente[13] https://www.tasnimnews dot com/fa/news/1401/12/25/2868508/رئیس-کل-بانک-مرکزی-راهی-امارات-شد[14] https://www.fdd.org/analysis/2020/03/20/uae-continues-to-serve-as-hub-for-iranian-sanctions-evasion/[15] https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1636283027998273537?s=20 ;https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1636291615101792256?s=20[16] https://twitter.com/KurdistanHRN/status/1636388503172042755?s=20 ;https://twitter.com/hra_news/status/1636395345516150785?s=20 ;https://twitter.com/RadioFarda_/status/1636388283948347398?s=20 ;https://twitter.com/RadioFarda_/status/1636419065328680962?s=20 ;https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1636413124537643008?s=20[17] https://twitter.com/1500tasvir/status/1636413417786609664?s=20 ;https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1636370225808683008?s=20 ;https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1636315849987354629?s=20 ;https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1636315849987354629?s=20 ;https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1636340097086791681?s=20 ;https://twitter.com/VOAfarsi/status/1636348780030177281?s=20 ;https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1636415090521157632?s=20 ;https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1636415618814558238?s=20[18] https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1636370987460734976?s=20 ;https://twitter.com/iranworkers/status/1636429063760887808?s=20[19] https://twitter.com/RadioFarda_/status/1636417018676101125?s=20[20] https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/14/world/middleeast/iran-protests-children.html[21] https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2023/03/iran-child-detainees-subjected-to-flogging-electric-shocks-and-sexual-violence-in-brutal-protest-crackdown/?utm_source=TWITTER-IS&utm_medium=social&utm_content=9181953588&utm_campaign=Amnesty&utm_term=-No[22] https://www.irna dot ir/news/85059284[23] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-updates-february-2023[24] https://www.irna dot ir/news/85058938/%D8%B1%D8%A6%DB%8C%D8%B3-%D8%AC%D9%85%D9%87%D9%88%D8%B1-%D8%A8%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%AF-%D8%AA%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%B4-%DA%A9%D9%86%DB%8C%D9%85-%D8%AF%D8%BA%D8%AF%D8%BA%D9%87-%D9%85%D8%B1%D8%AF%D9%85-%D9%86%D8%B3%D8%A8%D8%AA-%D8%A8%D9%87-%D8%A8%DB%8C%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B1%DB%8C-%D8%B3%D8%B1%D8%B7%D8%A7%D9%86-%DA%A9%D8%A7%D9%87%D8%B4 ; http://www.president dot ir/fa/142998[25] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-setad-news/exclusive-reuters-investigates-business-empire-of-irans-supreme-leader-idUSBRE9AA0CY20131111[26] https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm1234[27] https://www.entekhab dot ir/fa/news/719279/%D8%B5%D8%AF%DB%8C%D9%82%DB%8C-%DA%A9%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C-%DA%A9%D9%87-%D8%BA%DB%8C%D8%B1%D8%AA-%D8%AF%DB%8C%D9%86%DB%8C-%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%86%D8%AF-%D9%86%D8%A8%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%AF-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%B1-%DA%A9%D8%B4%D9%81-%D8%AD%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%A8%E2%80%8C%D9%87%D8%A7-%D8%B3%D8%A7%DA%A9%D8%AA-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B4%D9%86%D8%AF-%D8%A7%DB%8C%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%81%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%AF-%D8%A7%DA%AF%D8%B1-%D9%86%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D8%B4%D8%A8-%D9%87%D9%85-%D8%A8%D8%AE%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%86%D8%AF-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%B9%D9%85%D9%84-%D8%B3%DA%A9%D9%88%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D9%87%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%86%D8%AF[28] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-january-31-2023[29] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-january-5-2023[30] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-february-27-2023[31] Bonbast dot com[32] https://www.wsj.com/articles/iran-agrees-to-stop-arming-houthis-in-yemen-as-part-of-pact-with-saudi-arabia-6413dbc1[33] https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-plans-summit-of-persian-gulf-arab-and-iranian-leaders-as-new-middle-east-role-takes-shape-357cfd7e?mod=Searchresults_pos1&page=1[34] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-march-10-2023[35] https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/frustrated-khamenei-pushed-saudi-iran-deal-clinched-china-2023-03-16/[36] https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/frustrated-khamenei-pushed-saudi-iran-deal-clinched-china-2023-03-16/[37] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-crisis-update-september-28[38] https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/frustrated-khamenei-pushed-saudi-iran-deal-clinched-china-2023-03-16/[39] https://almadapaper dot net/view.php?cat=285528[40] https://iq.parliament dot iq/blog/2023/03/01/%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%a3%d9%85%d9%86-%d8%a7%d9%84%d9%86%d9%8a%d8%a7%d8%a8%d9%8a%d8%a9-%d8%aa%d8%ac%d8%b1%d9%8a-%d8%ac%d9%88%d9%84%d8%a9-%d9%85%d9%8a%d8%af%d8%a7%d9%86%d9%8a%d8%a9-%d9%84%d9%85%d8%ad%d8%a7/[41] https://al-hashed dot gov.iq/archives/168553[42] https://alrafidain dot tv/57977/[43] https://ria dot ru/20230316/asad-1858224485.htmlhttps://www.syria dot tv/%D8%A8%D8%B4%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D8%B3%D8%AF-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%84%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%A1-%D9%85%D8%B9-%D8%A3%D8%B1%D8%AF%D9%88%D8%BA%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%85%D8%B1%D8%AA%D8%A8%D8%B7-%D8%A8%D8%AE%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%AC-%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%83%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%B3%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D9%81%D9%8A%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%88[44] https://www.enabbaladi dot net/archives/633739[45] https://www.cnn.com/2023/02/05/europe/earthquake-hits-turkey-intl-hnk/index.html

[Author: ISWKF] [Category: Iran]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 3/25/23 1:43am
Karolina Hird, Riley Bailey, Angela Howard, George Barros, Nicole Wolkov, Layne Philipson, and Frederick W. KaganMarch 16, 6:15 ETClick here to see ISW’s interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.Click here to access ISW’s archive of interactive time-lapse maps of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These maps complement the static control-of-terrain maps that ISW produces daily by showing a dynamic frontline. ISW will update this time-lapse map archive monthly.The Russian Federal State Security Service (FSB) appears to be trying to penetrate the Russian Defense Industrial Base (DIB) in a way that is reminiscent of the KGB’s involvement with the Soviet military establishment. Spokesperson for the Ukrainian Center for the Research of Trophy and Prospective Weapons and Military Equipment of the Ukrainian General Staff Andrii Rudyk remarked on March 16 that Ukrainian experts have found FSB markings on many Russian weapons components that Ukrainian forces have destroyed or captured on the battlefield.[1] Rudyk noted that these markings appear not only on equipment such as T-90M tanks, but also on weapons’ microcircuits, and suggested that this means that the FSB conducted an equipment inspection of such weapons and components.[2] Rudyk concluded that this means that the FSB does not trust Russian military leadership and is conducting inspections of Russian equipment accordingly.[3] FSB markings on Russian equipment and weapons components, if confirmed, would have broader implications for the relationship between the FSB, the Russian DIB, and the broader Russian military apparatus. Either FSB Director Alexander Bortnikov has instructed the FSB to conduct these investigations at the direction of Russian President Vladimir Putin, or Bortnikov has issued this directive independent of Putin. In either case the FSB appears to be directly inserting itself into the inner workings of the Russian DIB, likely penetrating equipment acquisition and inspection processes. The KGB — the FSB’s predecessor — notably penetrated the Red Army and Soviet defense industry in a similar fashion.Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed that he received a press question exposing a plot spearheaded by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev to undermine and “neutralize” the Wagner Group. Prigozhin’s press service published a claimed request for comment on March 16 from Russian outlet Nezavisimaya Gazeta asking if Prigozhin was aware of alleged discussions between Putin and Patrushev regarding the future of the Wagner Group.[4] The press comment claims that information on these discussions has recently circulated on Russian and Ukrainian Telegram channels and alleges that Patrushev suggested to Putin that there will be “nothing left” of Wagner in “one and a half to two months.”[5] The post goes on to claim that Patrushev suggested that upon Wagner’s destruction in Ukraine, Prigozhin will try to “unite the former and remaining active Wagner fighters under a far-fetched pretext,” arm them, and ”send them to the territory of Russia in order to seize power in the regions bordering Ukraine with a possible advance inland.”[6] The post concludes that Patrushev has already ordered observation and control over the movement of former Wagner fighters and that Putin reportedly agreed with this step and thanked Patrushev for his efforts to “neutralize Wagner in general and Yevgeny Prigozhin in particular.”[7] Prigozhin posted an audio clip in response to the claimed press comment saying that he had not heard about these supposed negotiations or observed speculation on Telegram channels, remarking that Russian special services should work to neutralize threats to Russia regardless of where they come from.[8]ISW has not observed any information to suggest that these discussions have happened, nor has ISW captured any speculation in the Russian information space about them. Nezivisimaya Gazeta has not published the press comment on its own site, and no record of the comment is visible anywhere other than in references to the post by Prigozhin’s press service. The lack of external confirmation on this subject suggests that Prigozhin has fabricated the alleged plot to further several information operations on behalf of Wagner and his own reputation. First, this exchange clearly identifies Patrushev and possibly the Russian Security Council as enemies of the Wagner Group. Prigozhin appears to be setting careful information conditions to blame Patrushev for Wagner’s failures and potential crackdowns against the group, as well as introducing an invented scenario wherein Wagner poses a direct threat to Russia domestically. This effort appears to be the next evolution of Prigozhin’s campaign against the Russian military establishment, and Patrushev could become Prigozhin’s next target after his concerted informational campaigns against the Russian Ministry of Defense and General Staff.[9]Western news agencies confirmed on March 16 that Chinese companies have sold rifles, drone parts, and equipment that could be used for military purposes to unidentified Russian entities. Politico cited data provided by customs data aggregator ImportGenius showing that Chinese companies sent equipment including 1,000 assault rifles, 12 shipments of drone parts, and over 12 tons of body armor to unspecified Russian actors between June and December 2022.[10] CNN also reported on March 16 that Ukrainian forces shot down a retrofitted, weaponized commercial Mugin-5 drone produced by a Chinese commercial manufacturer.[11] These sales appear small in scale, concern largely commercial equipment, and — in all but one confirmed case — do not include companies with ties to the Chinese government, according to Politico.[12]Such Chinese shipments are significant, however, because they could alleviate strain on the overextended Russian defense industrial base (DIB) and circumvent Western attempts to limit Russian access to microchips. ISW has not observed routine Russian small arms shortages, and Russia’s DIB appears capable of producing sufficient quantities of assault rifles. The import of domestically available equipment from China likely enables the Russian DIB to transfer resources — most critically the limited number of skilled Russian defense plant workers — from the production of such goods to the production of military equipment for which Russia has a dire need.[13] Meanwhile, the sale of even commercial drone parts to Russian entities could provide Russia’s DIB with access to valuable microchips vital to the production of sophisticated equipment, which Western sanctions have worked to prevent.[14]Syrian President Bashar Assad used a staged interview with Russian outlet RIA Novosti to amplify notable Russian information operations. Assad told RIA on March 16 that Russian military bases in Syria should receive the “most advanced weapons” to effectively deter threats in response to a question about the deployment of hypersonic missiles.[15] This comment is explicitly in support of the deployment of Russian hypersonic weapons, likely of the Kinzhal variety, to Syria, which is part of a longstanding Russian information operation to strengthen Assad and increase pressure against Turkey as Ankara considers ratification of Finland and Sweden’s accession into NATO. [16] Assad also notably recognized the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine as a part of Russia.[17]Polish President Andrzej Duda stated on March 16 that Poland will give Ukraine four MiG-29 fighter jets. Polish news outlet Wydarzenia reported that Duda said that Poland will deliver the MiG-29s in the coming four to six weeks.[18] Polish news outlet Rzeczpospolita reported that Duda announced that Poland is servicing an unspecified number of additional MiG-29s for delivery to Ukraine.[19] The Ukrainian Air Force operates MiG-29s and would be able to use them in counteroffensive operations if Ukraine receives them with enough time in advance of its next counteroffensive.Russia’s redeployment of elements of its “peacekeeping force” from Nagorno-Karabakh to Ukraine is eroding Russia’s influence with Armenia. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan accused Azerbaijan of preparing to conduct a new large-scale attack and genocide against ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh at an unspecified future time on March 16.[20] Pashinyan stated that Armenia should appeal to the United Nations Security Council if the Russian Federation is unable to uphold the November 9, 2020, Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire that Moscow helped broker with Azerbaijan.[21] Pashinyan previously accused Russia’s “peacekeeping force” in Nagorno-Karabakh of “not fulfilling its obligation” under this ceasefire in December 2022 after Russian forces failed to secure passage on the only road through the Lachin Corridor between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.[22] Russia’s “peacekeeping force” in Nagorno-Karabakh is very likely understrength. The Russian military redeployed elements of the 15th Separate Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade — Russia's only dedicated peacekeeping brigade — from Nagorno-Karabakh to Ukraine in March 2022.[23] Ukraine’s General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces severely degraded the 15th Separate Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade, killing about 800 and wounding about 400 soldiers of the brigade’s 1,800 soldiers that deployed to Ukraine as of June 2022.[24] Russia will likely lose military influence in other post-Soviet states since Moscow has redeployed elements of permanently stationed Russian forces from Russian bases in Kyrgyzstan, occupied Georgia (Abkhazia and South Ossetia), and Tajikistan to fight in Ukraine.[25]Russian President Vladimir Putin attempted to reassure the Russian public that the war in Ukraine will not have significant long-term economic consequences, likely as part of the Kremlin’s effort to prepare Russians for a protracted war. Putin delivered a speech at the Congress of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs in Moscow on March 16 in which he claimed that the Russian economy has steadily grown in the past eight months following a roughly five percent contraction over the first months of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.[26] Putin attempted to portray Russia as not being isolated from the international economy by claiming that Russian trade with fast-growing markets has increased at double-digit rates.[27] Putin claimed that the domestic Russian economy will experience sustainable long-term growth and forecasted that Russian industries will significantly grow as they fill niches previously held by Western firms that have left the country and stopped doing business with Russia.[28] Putin suggested that the entire Russian economy will expand in a manner similar to the Russian agricultural sector’s growth following 2014 Western sanctions regimes associated with Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea.[29] Putin claimed that Russia’s supposed economic resilience has disproven Western analysts who predicted empty store shelves and massive shortages of goods in Russia because of Western sanctions.[30]Putin’s portrayal of a healthy and resilient Russian economy is at odds with Russia’s issues with sanctions-related supply chain bottlenecks, the Russian defense industrial base’s (DIB) struggle to meet the Russian military's needs in Ukraine, and the Kremlin’s substantial projected budget deficit problems.[31] Putin likely sought to reassure the Russian public as the Kremlin increasingly signals to Russians that the Kremlin intends to fight a protracted war in Ukraine and implicitly consign the Russian economy to an indefinite period of stringent Western sanctions.[32] The Kremlin also likely sought to reassure the Russian public that war-related production will not detrimentally impact the rest of the Russian economy as Russian officials continue efforts to gradually mobilize more of Russia’s DIB.[33] The Kremlin will likely struggle to not contradict its different informational lines of effort as it attempts to reassure the Russian public about the Russian economy, set informational conditions for a protracted war, and mobilize a wider portion of Russia’s DIB.Key TakeawaysThe Russian Federal State Security Service (FSB) appears to be trying to penetrate the Russian defense industrial base (DIB) in a way that is reminiscent of the KGB’s involvement with the Soviet military and industrial base.Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed that he received a press question exposing a plot spearheaded by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev to undermine and “neutralize” the Wagner Group.Western news agencies confirmed that Chinese companies have sold military and dual-use equipment to unidentified Russian entities. These sales appear small in scale but could alleviate strain on Russia’s defense industrial base (DIB) and circumvent Western attempts to limit Russian access to microchips.Syrian President Bashar Assad used a staged interview with Russian outlet RIA Novosti to amplify notable Russian information operations.Polish President Andrzej Duda stated that Poland will give Ukraine four MiG-29 fighter jets.Russian’s decision to redeploy elements of its “peacekeeping force” from Nagorno-Karabakh to Ukraine is eroding Russia’s influence with Armenia.Russian President Vladimir Putin attempted to reassure the Russian public that the war in Ukraine will not have significant long term economic consequences, likely as part of the Kremlin’s effort to prepare Russians for a protracted war.Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks northeast of Kupyansk and along the Svatove-Kreminna line.Russian forces continued advancing in and around Bakhmut and continued ground attacks along the Avdiivka–Donetsk City line and in Western Donetsk Oblast.Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted localized assaults in Zaporizhia Oblast.Ukrainian sources reported that Russian forces increased their naval presence in the Black Sea.We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because those activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We will continue to evaluate and report on the effects of these criminal activities on the Ukrainian military and population and specifically on combat in Ukrainian urban areas. We utterly condemn these Russian violations of the laws of armed conflict, Geneva Conventions, and humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.Russian Main Effort—Eastern Ukraine (comprised of two subordinate main efforts)Russian Subordinate Main Effort #1—Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and encircle northern Donetsk OblastRussian Subordinate Main Effort #2—Capture the entirety of Donetsk OblastRussian Supporting Effort—Southern AxisRussian Mobilization and Force Generation EffortsActivities in Russian-occupied AreasRussian Main Effort—Eastern UkraineRussian Subordinate Main Effort #1— Luhansk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and continue offensive operations into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and northern Donetsk Oblast)Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks northeast of Kupyansk and along the Svatove-Kreminna line on March 16. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful offensive operations near Hryanykivka (17km northeast of Kupyansk), Kreminna, Kuzmyne (3km southwest of Kreminna), Bilohorivka (10km south of Kreminna), Verkhnokamyanske (20km south of Kreminna), and Spirne (25km southeast of Kreminna).[34] Geolocated footage published on March 16 showing Ukrainian forces striking a Russian MT-LB vehicle west of Chervonopopivka (6km northwest of Kreminna) indicates a limited Russian advance northwest of Kreminna.[35] Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Serhiy Cherevaty stated that Russian forces are active near Hryanykivka, Bilohrivka, and Spirne.[36] A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces attempted to advance in the direction of Makiivka, Nevske, Terne, Yampolivka, and Bilohorivka (all within 22km northwest of Kreminna) but did not specify the outcome of the attempted advances.[37] Drone footage published on March 14 purportedly shows Russian forces from the 2nd Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) Army Corps striking Ukrainian forces in the Lysychansk direction in western Luhansk Oblast.[38]Russian Subordinate Main Effort #2—Donetsk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)Russian forces continued advancing in and around Bakhmut on March 16. Geolocated footage posted on March 14 indicates that Russian troops have advanced northwest of Bakhmut on the northern banks of the Pivnichnyi Reservoir.[39] Geolocated images additionally confirm Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin’s claim that Wagner troops captured Zalizianske (9km northwest of Bakhmut) on March 15.[40] Geolocated combat footage posted on March 16 confirms that Russian forces have additionally made marginal advances near Kurdiumivka, 13km southwest of Bakhmut.[41] Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley noted that while Russian forces may be making small tactical gains in Bakhmut, they come at a high manpower and equipment cost.[42] Russian milbloggers claimed on March 16 that Russian forces continue to expand their control of territory northwest of Bakhmut after taking Zalizianske and that fighting continues within the AZOM industrial complex.[43] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian troops repelled Russian attacks on Bakhmut itself; northwest of Bakhmut near Orikhovo-Vasylivka (12km northwest), Hryhorivka (7km northwest), and Bohdanivka (5km northwest); and west of Bakhmut near Ivanivske (5km west).[44] Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Serhiy Cherevaty noted that Russian forces have conducted 42 ground attacks in Bakhmut over the last day.[45] The relatively slower pace of Russian attacks on and around Bakhmut on March 16, coupled with relatively fewer Russian claims on advances in this area, supports ISW’s March 15 assessment that the Wagner Group offensive on Bakhmut is likely nearing culmination.[46]Russian forces continued ground attacks along the Avdiivka–Donetsk City frontline on March 16. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian troops conducted unsuccessful offensive operations near Avdiivka itself; in the Avdiivka area near Kamianka (4km northeast of Avdiivka), Stepove (7km northwest of Avdiivka); and Severne (5km west of Avdiivka), on the northwestern outskirts of Donetsk City near Nevelske, Neytalove, and Pervomaiske; and on the southwestern outskirts of Donetsk City near Marinka.[47] Russian sources claimed that Russian forces completely captured Krasnohorivka (9km north of Avdiivka) and that this has worsened the situation for the Ukrainian grouping in Avdiivka.[48] ISW has not observed any visual confirmation of the capture of Krasnohorivka as of March 16. A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian troops are continuing ground attacks on the northwestern outskirts of Donetsk City in the direction of Pervomaiske from the Pisky-Vodyane line.[49] One Russian source claimed that Russian forces in Marinka are anticipating a Ukrainian counteroffensive in the village and are in a constant state of readiness.[50]Russian forces continued limited ground attacks in western Donetsk Oblast on March 16. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian troops conducted unsuccessful offensive actions near Vuhledar (30km southwest of Donetsk City) and that Russian forces are preparing to resume wider offensive operations on Vuhledar.[51] ISW has previously reported on the very degraded state of Russian forces operating around Vuhledar, and it is highly unlikely that damaged naval infantry and Eastern Military District elements currently deployed to western Donetsk Oblast will be able to resume successful offensive operations here in the near future.[52] The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed on March 16 that a Russian Orlan-10 UAV detected and destroyed a Ukrainian platoon as it redeployed to the Prechystivka area just west of Vuhledar.[53]Supporting Effort—Southern Axis (Russian objective: Maintain frontline positions and secure rear areas against Ukrainian strikes)Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted localized assaults in Zaporizhia Oblast on March 15. Russian milbloggers amplified geolocated footage on March 15 showing Ukrainian forces (likely less than a company) conducting an assault on Russian positions about six kilometers south of Orikhiv.[54] Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces attempted to attack positions of the Russian 70th Motorized Rifle Regiment (42nd Motorized Rifle Division, 58th Combined Arms Army, Southern Military District) near Novodanylivka (5km south of Orikhiv) and the positions of the 291st Motorized Rifle Regiment (42nd Motorized Rifle Division, 58th Combined Arms Army, Southern Military District) and the 22ndSPETSNAZ Brigade near Polohy (34km southeast of Orikhiv).[55] Russian sources claimed that Russian forces repelled the Ukrainian assaults, destroyed up to five Ukrainian tanks and two armored vehicles, and wounded and killed Ukrainian personnel.[56] Zaporizhia Oblast occupation deputy Valdimir Rogov characterized the Ukrainian assaults near Polohy as a reconnaissance-in-force operation.[57] A prominent Russian milblogger claimed on March 16 that Ukrainian forces transitioned to positional fighting in the Hulyaipole area following the alleged failed assaults in the Orikhiv and Polohy areas and that Russian forces repelled a Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance group near Vasylivka (38km southwest of Orikhiv).[58] Another Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces continued assaults IVO Polohy on March 16.[59]Russian sources claimed that Russian forces are expanding fortifications in Zaporizhia Oblast amid ongoing Russian discussions about a potential Ukrainian counteroffensive in the area. A prominent Russian milblogger reportedly visited Russian-occupied Zaporizhia Oblast on March 16 and claimed that Russian forces have established extensive fortifications in the area.[60] The milblogger claimed that he passed kilometers of anti-tank trenches and as many as 50 rows of dragons teeth along a route from Enerhodar to Melitopol to Tokmak (likely the T0805 and T0401 highways).[61] The milblogger claimed that he also met with elements of the 83rd Air Assault Brigade and the Shairmuratov Volunteer Battalion from Bashkortostan in an unspecified area of Zaporizhia Oblast.[62] Russian sources continued to claim that Ukrainian forces are planning to conduct a counteroffensive in southern Ukraine that would cut off the Russian land corridor to Crimea.[63] ISW continues to assess that Russian forces are significantly expanding field fortifications in the wider Melitopol area to protect Russian ground lines of communications (GLOCs) that connect to logistics nodes in Tokmak and Enerhodar as well as the E58 highway that passes through Melitopol in the event of a potential Ukrainian counteroffensive.Ukrainian sources reported that Russian forces increased their naval presence in the Black Sea on March 16. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces have 21 naval vessels on combat standby in the Black Sea, 5 of which carry 32 Kalibr missiles.[64] The current Russian naval presence in the Black Sea marks a notable increase from the reported 13 Russian naval vessels in the Black Sea on March 15.[65] Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command reported that the larger-than-usual Russian naval presence may be a demonstrative response to US statements about retrieving the MQ-9 reaper drone that two Russian Su-27 aircraft forced down over the Black Sea on March 14.[66] A US Defense official reportedly stated that Russian naval vessels are at the site where the US MQ-9 Reaper drone fell into the Black Sea.[67]Russian forces continued routine fire west of Hulyaipole and in Dnipropetrovsk and Kherson oblasts on March 16.[68] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces struck targets near Kherson and Zaporizhzhia cities.[69]Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts (Russian objective: Expand combat power without conducting general mobilization)Russian authorities appear to be continuing efforts to make up for defense industrial base (DIB) production shortcomings by covertly procuring equipment from abroad. Ukrainian Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) representative Vadym Skibitsky stated on March 16 that Russia is seeking shell suppliers in Africa and Asia to fill its ammunition shortage.[70] Skibitsky noted that Russia is actively working with Iran and negotiating with Myanmar and unspecified countries in Africa and the Middle East.[71] The Ukrainian General Staff reported on March 16 that the equipment inside Russian T-90 M tanks captured in September 2022 indicates that Russia places its markings on imported electronics within tanks to mask the fact that it does not produce electronics for its own tanks.[72] The Ukrainian General Staff added that Russian forces only have 100 T-90 M tanks remaining and increasingly rely on T-62 and T-72 tanks or sometimes use engines from the 1937 B-2 and B-92S2 model tanks.[73]The Russian State Duma adopted a bill increasing Russian commanders’ authority to punish soldiers without a court decision, likely supporting a crackdown on growing soldier complaints and insubordination, on which ISW has extensively reported.[74] A major Russian state-owned news agency claimed on March 15 that the Russian State Duma adopted a bill granting Russian military commanders the power to detain Russian soldiers without a court decision during a period of mobilization, martial law, or combat. Commanders may exercise this power under a broad range of circumstances, including general “evasion of military service duties.”[75]Chechen Republic Head Ramzan Kadyrov continued efforts to project power within Russia by promoting the Chechen special forces (SPETSNAZ) on March 16. Kadyrov claimed he held an “extended meeting” with Russian national guard (Rosgvardia) and Chechen Internal Ministry leaders to discuss increasing Chechen SPETSNAZ effectiveness in Ukraine, improving SPETSNAZ training, and measures to ensure public safety.[76]Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin continues to promote Wagner Group recruitment efforts targeting Russian youth. The Grusha Martial Arts Club in Moscow on March 15 posted videos of Prigozhin signing autographs and meeting with potential recruits.[77]Prigozhin confirmed on March 15 that there are small numbers of Afghan fighters in the Wagner Group that are focused on targeting American artillery systems. Prigozhin claimed these fighters are also trained to work with captured or purchased US Javelin anti-tank missile systems.[78] The presence of limited numbers of such mercenaries is unlikely to grant the Wagner Group significant new capabilities.Some Russians continue limited resistance to Russian mobilization, Russia’s war in Ukraine, and Russian coverage of the war in Ukraine. A Russian news outlet reported on March 15 that the Kazan, Tatarstan district court by March 9 began to consider the case of an eleventh-grader in Kazan charged with conducting an unsuccessful arson attack on a military recruitment facility in Kazan, Tatarstan.[79] A Russian opposition news source reported on March 15 that residents from near Efremov, Tula Oblast and local politicians from the Yabloko Party staged a demonstration in a courthouse to demand the return to her family of a girl sent to an orphanage after her father voiced opposition to the war in Ukraine.[80] Meduza reported on March 16 that the Novokuibyshevsk, Samara Oblast city court fined oblast deputy and Communist Party member Mikhail Abdalkin 150,000 rubles ($1,934) for “discrediting” Russian forces by wearing noodles on his ears — a cultural symbol of being lied to — while watching Russian President Vladimir Putin’s February 22 address.[81] An independent Russian news outlet stated that the Khabarovsk garrison military court on March 16 sentenced a Russian soldier to a 5.5-year suspended prison sentence for spreading “false information” discrediting Russian forces by confessing to murdering a Ukrainian civilian in Andriivka, Kyiv Oblast as part of a report published on August 15, 2022.[82]Russian authorities continue to conduct covert mobilization and require residents to update their data with military enlistment offices, possibly setting conditions for a future wave of mobilization.[83]Activity in Russian-occupied Areas (Russian objective: consolidate administrative control of and annexed areas; forcibly integrate Ukrainian civilians into Russian sociocultural, economic, military, and governance systems)Russian occupation authorities are continuing efforts to eradicate the notion of a distinct Ukrainian national identity from occupied territories. The Ukrainian Resistance Center reported on March 16 that Russian occupation authorities are attempting to create a pseudo-Cossack organization called “Cossack Khortysya” in occupied Zaporizhia Oblast in an effort to encourage the replacement of the Ukrainian identity with the Russian identity in occupied territories.[84] The Center reported that the non-profit Tavrika Center, which is registered in Crimea and is funded by the Russian President’s Fund, received over 11 million rubles ($14,100) to hold “mass cultural events” and film a historically revisionist documentary on how Ukrainian Zaporizhian Cossacks are members of a larger Russian-dominated Cossack community. [85] The Center emphasized that Russia previously used similar tactics to impose Russian influence in Ukraine, particularly after the Orange Revolution in 2004–2005.[86] This effort seeks to destroy the Ukrainian historical identity of the Zaporizhian Sich (an autonomous polity that existed between the 16th to 18th centuries) by framing all Cossacks — including Ukrainian Cossacks — as a culturally Russian monolith. ISW previously assessed that the Kremlin uses Russian Cossack organizations (paramilitary formations that perform state services, including law enforcement and military administrative tasks in accordance with Russian law) to support Russian force-generation efforts.[87]Russian occupation authorities continue to exploit the Port of Berdyansk to integrate occupied territories into the Russian economy. The Ukrainian General Staff reported on March 16 that Russian officials exported looted grain by barge boat from the Port of Berdyansk.[88] Zaporizhia Oblast occupation head Yevgeny Balitsky claimed on March 16 that Russian occupation authorities have begun preparing the Port of Berdyansk to export grain, noting that that since the port is not designated on international registers as Russian, the grain export process will face challenges.[89]Russian occupation authorities are intensifying passportization efforts by threatening to deport residents of occupied territories to Russia and settlements deep in occupied Zaporizhia Oblast. The Ukrainian General Staff reported on March 16 that Russian occupation authorities and personnel of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) threatened to deport Ukrainian children living in occupied Zaporizhia Oblast to eastern regions of Russia should their parents refuse to obtain Russian passports.[90] The Ukrainian General Staff also reported that Russian occupation authorities threatened residents in occupied Zaporizhia Oblast with deportation to Vasylivka, Zaporizhia Oblast.[91]Russian sources reported that Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) officials stopped humanitarian aid delivery to occupied Kherson Oblast. A Russian milblogger responded to the reports that MVD officials stopped volunteers from delivering aid and detained them claiming that the vehicles delivering aid were stolen.[92] Another milblogger reported that MVD Representative Irina Volk said that the MVD Main Directorate is checking on the legality of its employees' actions and the reports of the detention of volunteers.[93] These reports suggest that the occupation administration in Kherson Oblast, particularly law enforcement entities, are likely dealing with high levels of corruption within their own ranks.Significant activity in Belarus (ISW assesses that a Russian or Belarusian attack into northern Ukraine in early 2023 is extraordinarily unlikely and has thus restructured this section of the update. It will no longer include counter-indicators for such an offensive.ISW will continue to report daily observed Russian and Belarusian military activity in Belarus, but these are not indicators that Russian and Belarusian forces are preparing for an imminent attack on Ukraine from Belarus. ISW will revise this text and its assessment if it observes any unambiguous indicators that Russia or Belarus is preparing to attack northern Ukraine.Belarusian maneuver elements continue conducting exercises in Belarus. Unspecified elements of the Belarusian 19th Mechanized brigade conducted live fire exercises with T-72 tanks at the 227th Combined Arms Training Ground in Borisov, Minsk Oblast, on March 16.[94] Artillery elements of the Belarusian 11th Mechanized Brigade conducted indirect and direct fire training at the Gozhsky Training Ground in Grodno, Belarus, on March 15. [95]Note: ISW does not receive any classified material from any source, uses only publicly available information, and draws extensively on Russian, Ukrainian, and Western reporting and social media as well as commercially available satellite imagery and other geospatial data as the basis for these reports. References to all sources used are provided in the endnotes of each update.[1] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2023/03/16/markuvannya-rosiyanamy-aparatury-na-tankah-t-90m-poznachkamy-fsb-svidchyt-pro-nedoviru-speczsluzhb-do-verhivky-armiyi/[2] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2023/03/16/markuvannya-rosiyanamy-aparatury-na-tankah-t-90m-poznachkamy-fsb-svidchyt-pro-nedoviru-speczsluzhb-do-verhivky-armiyi/[3] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2023/03/16/markuvannya-rosiyanamy-aparatury-na-tankah-t-90m-poznachkamy-fsb-svidchyt-pro-nedoviru-speczsluzhb-do-verhivky-armiyi/[4] https://t.me/concordgroup_official/601[5] https://t.me/concordgroup_official/601[6] https://t.me/concordgroup_official/601[7] https://t.me/concordgroup_official/601[8] https://t.me/concordgroup_official/602[9] https://isw.pub/UkrWar031223; https://isw.pub/UkrWar012423; https://isw.pub/UkrWar012223[10] https://www.politico.com/news/2023/03/16/chinese-rifles-body-armor-russia-ukraine-00087398[11] https://edition.cnn.com/2023/03/16/europe/china-made-drone-downed-eastern-ukraine-hnk-intl/index.html[12] https://www.politico.com/news/2023/03/16/chinese-rifles-body-armor-russia-ukraine-00087398[13] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-14-2023; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-15-2023[14] https://www.forbes.com/sites/arielcohen/2022/02/28/western-sanctions-aim-to-cut-off-russia-from-critical-high-tech-goods/; https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/02/briefing/russia-ukraine-war-microchips-weapons-sanctions.html[15] https://ria dot ru/20230316/asad-1858224485.html[16] https://ria dot ru/amp/20230316/siriya-1858189786.html[17] https://t.me/rian_ru/197025[18] https://www.rp dot pl/dyplomacja/art38136671-duda-cztery-samoloty-mig-29-przekazemy-ukrainie-w-najblizszych-dniach;[19] https://www.rp dot pl/dyplomacja/art38136671-duda-cztery-samoloty-mig-29-przekazemy-ukrainie-w-najblizszych-dniach[20] https://ria dot ru/20230316/karabakh-1858258784.html; https://www.panorama dot am/ru/news/2023/03/16/%D0%9F%D0%B0%D1%88%D0%B8%D0%BD%D1%8F%D0%BD-%D0%90%D1%80%D0%BC%D0%B5%D0%BD%D0%B8%D1%8F-%D0%BC%D0%B5%D0%B6%D0%B4%D1%83%D0%BD%D0%B0%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%B4%D0%BD%D1%8B%D0%B5-%D0%BC%D0%B5%D1%85%D0%B0%D0%BD%D0%B8%D0%B7%D0%BC%D1%8B-%D0%BF%D1%80%D0%B5%D0%B4%D0%BE%D1%82%D0%B2%D1%80%D0%B0%D1%89%D0%B5%D0%BD%D0%B8%D1%8F-%D0%B3%D0%B5%D0%BD%D0%BE%D1%86%D0%B8%D0%B4%D0%BE%D0%B2/2807734[21] https://ria dot ru/20230316/karabakh-1858258784.html; https://www.panorama dot am/ru/news/2023/03/16/%D0%9F%D0%B0%D1%88%D0%B8%D0%BD%D1%8F%D0%BD-%D0%90%D1%80%D0%BC%D0%B5%D0%BD%D0%B8%D1%8F-%D0%BC%D0%B5%D0%B6%D0%B4%D1%83%D0%BD%D0%B0%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%B4%D0%BD%D1%8B%D0%B5-%D0%BC%D0%B5%D1%85%D0%B0%D0%BD%D0%B8%D0%B7%D0%BC%D1%8B-%D0%BF%D1%80%D0%B5%D0%B4%D0%BE%D1%82%D0%B2%D1%80%D0%B0%D1%89%D0%B5%D0%BD%D0%B8%D1%8F-%D0%B3%D0%B5%D0%BD%D0%BE%D1%86%D0%B8%D0%B4%D0%BE%D0%B2/2807734[22] https://infocom dot am/en/article/95533; https://www.panarmenian dot net/eng/news/304636/Pashinyan_Russian_peacekeepers_becoming_silent_witnesses_to_Karabakh_depopulation; https://www.aljazeera dot com/news/2022/12/22/armenia-russias-peacekeepers-failed-mission-in-nagorno-karabakh[23] https://jam-news dot net/baku-claims-russian-peacekeepers-relocated-from-karabakh-to-ukraine-moscow-denies-reports/; https://www.reuters.com/world/russia-says-azerbaijan-enters-russian-peacekeepers-zone-nagorno-karabakh-2022-03-26/; https://www.chathamhouse.org/2022/03/russia-distracted-azerbaijan-escalates-karabakh; https://www.state.gov/briefings/department-press-briefing-march-25-2022/#post-328238-AZERBAIJANARMENIA; https://www.diplomatie.gouv dot fr/fr/dossiers-pays/armenie/evenements/article/haut-karabagh-declaration-de-la-porte-parole-25-03-2022[24] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/335842948728790[25] https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-kyrgyzstan-base-troops-redeployed/32031647.html; https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-troops-tajik-base-redeployed-ukraine/32033791.html#:~:text=Tajikistan-,'Up%20To%201%2C500'%20Russian%20Troops%20Redeployed%20To%20Ukraine,From%20Tajik%20Base%2C%20Investigation%20Reveals&text=DUSHANBE%20%2D%2D%20Some%201%2C500%20troops,casualties%20in%20its%20unprovoked%20war; https://jamestown.org/program/russia-redeploys-troops-from-its-bases-in-georgia-to-ukraine/[26] http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/70688[27] http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/70688[28] http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/70688[29] ttp://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/70688[30] http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/70688[31] https://isw.pub/UkrWar110222 ; https://www.forbes.com/sites/stuartanderson/2022/12/05/russias-economic-prospects-have-gone-from-bad-to-terrible/?sh=2ade3afa74bc;%C2%A0https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/russia/publication/rer;%C2%A0https://www.wilsoncenter.org/blog-post/russias-economy-end-2022-deeper-troubles; ; https://www.reuters.com/business/retail-consumer/russian-economy-will-not-return-pre-war-levels-until-2030-scope-2022-09-16/ ; https://isw.pub/UkrWar110422 ; https://isw.pub/UkrWar110222 ; https://isw.pub/UkraineInvasionUpd2 ; https://www.reuters.com/business/worlds-biggest-container-lines-suspend-shipping-russia-2022-03-01/[32] https://isw.pub/UkrWar022123 ; https://isw.pub/UkrWar020223 ; https://isw.pub/UkrWar012023[33] https://isw.pub/UkrWar031423 ; https://isw.pub/UkrWar021723 ; https://isw.pub/UkrWar020923 ; https://isw.pub/UkrWar020823[34] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0gqTW1PZKuiRnifBc6bPF6JF37yvTy4pa4VwzpbeyAMdDX5YD3y7iGQ9pZYk3Qq9Tl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0sbbMJQEDhcdeie64sdv4pDHrWuFsF31VpsaE3rVUcw3PRbVXz2ZckhDzGRDPZCLwl[35] https://twitter.com/blinzka/status/1636365858221232128; https://twitter.com/GloOouD/status/1636359792183873536[36] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5vvrb1YsqU; https://suspilne dot media/415431-pidsumki-ramstajnu-devat-krain-nadadut-ukraini-tanki-leopard-a-norvegia-sistemi-nasams-386-den-vijni-onlajn/[37] https://t.me/wargonzo/11416[38] https://t.me/boris_rozhin/80536; https://t.me/news_forfree/24006[39] https://twitter.com/Teoyaomiquu/status/1635838560694681601; https://twitter.com/neonhandrail/status/1636096748384038913;[40] https://twitter.com/NOELreports/status/1636092446281981954; https://twitter.com/neonhandrail/status/1636201599684186112; https://t.me/kommunist/16414; https://t.me/razgruzka_vagnera/38 ; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/46115[41] https://t.me/WarArchive_ua/397; https://twitter.com/JagdBandera/status/1636306652029648898[42] https://suspilne.media/415434-general-milli-takticni-prosuvanna-armii-rf-poblizu-bahmuta-maut-dorogu-cinu/; https://twitter.com/DeptofDefense/status/1636068908095397889[43] https://t.me/boris_rozhin/80533; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/46117; https://t.me/readovkanews/54791; https://t.me/wargonzo/11416[44] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0gqTW1PZKuiRnifBc6bPF6JF37yvTy4pa4VwzpbeyAMdDX5YD3y7iGQ9pZYk3Qq9Tl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0sbbMJQEDhcdeie64sdv4pDHrWuFsF31VpsaE3rVUcw3PRbVXz2ZckhDzGRDPZCLwl[45] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5vvrb1YsqU; https://suspilne dot media/415431-pidsumki-ramstajnu-devat-krain-nadadut-ukraini-tanki-leopard-a-norvegia-sistemi-nasams-386-den-vijni-onlajn/[46] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-15-2023[47] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0gqTW1PZKuiRnifBc6bPF6JF37yvTy4pa4VwzpbeyAMdDX5YD3y7iGQ9pZYk3Qq9Tl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0sbbMJQEDhcdeie64sdv4pDHrWuFsF31VpsaE3rVUcw3PRbVXz2ZckhDzGRDPZCLwl[48] https://t.me/rybar/44678; https://t.me/basurin_e/215[49] https://t.me/wargonzo/11416[50] https://t.me/readovkanews/54782[51] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0gqTW1PZKuiRnifBc6bPF6JF37yvTy4pa4VwzpbeyAMdDX5YD3y7iGQ9pZYk3Qq9Tl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0sbbMJQEDhcdeie64sdv4pDHrWuFsF31VpsaE3rVUcw3PRbVXz2ZckhDzGRDPZCLwl[52] https://isw.pub/UkrWar030923; https://isw.pub/UkrWar03012023; https://isw.pub/UkrWar021323; https://isw.pub/UkrWar021023[53] https://t.me/mod_russia/24852; https://t.me/mod_russia/24858[54] https://t.me/RVvoenkor/40637; https://twitter.com/War_cube_/status/1636096758005616643; https://t.me/grey_zone/17770 ; https://t.me/milinfolive/98055[55] https://t.me/rybar/44682 ; https://t.me/wargonzo/11415; https://t.me/wargonzo/11415 ; https://t.me/vrogov/8174; https://t.me/vrogov/8166; https://t.me/vrogov/8170 ; https://t.me/readovkanews/54765 ; https://t.me/readovkanews/54767 ; https://t.me/vladlentatarsky/19978 ; https://t.me/milinfolive/98050 ; https://t.me/sashakots/38873[56] https://t.me/rybar/44682 ; https://t.me/wargonzo/11415; https://t.me/wargonzo/11415 ; https://t.me/vrogov/8174; https://t.me/vrogov/8166; https://t.me/vrogov/8170 ; https://t.me/readovkanews/54765 ; https://t.me/readovkanews/54767 ; https://t.me/vladlentatarsky/19978 ; https://t.me/milinfolive/98050 ; https://t.me/milinfolive/98048[57] https://t.me/vrogov/8174; https://t.me/vrogov/8166; https://t.me/vrogov/8170 ;[58] https://t.me/rybar/44704[59] https://t.me/wargonzo/11416[60] https://t.me/Sladkov_plus/7347[61] https://t.me/Sladkov_plus/7347[62] https://t.me/Sladkov_plus/7348 ; https://t.me/Sladkov_plus/7345[63] https://t.me/vrogov/8179; https://ria dot ru/20230316/zaporozhe-1858199637.html ; https://t.me/vladlentatarsky/20000[64] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid01FKEYJFnwYFDgAZp9iAZbA64Xf1MmRTRXezQ6JTghxao4onnspXe2o9H3fGbERmXl[65] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02d5h5E3iZJwatWths7nYWrfyyZe24pXuvxjpq9ji9z4hf8yBhoocgH86K5ZYa7FuHl?__cft__[0]=AZUcqK8SeJ7KwW2gV9lHbV9mEp3VN27WquF2n78T6aSxcpN9HD_ym87mygN9racW7aMYDs0948NDYQeVkVjkipgTxTnDvR1HdRqTdMGnf-8p6ij1dHcA5dBbvO2s8tBOlIAFTFRRgPC-WXXbwMK5q6cVExzAiRThg4K2PhvKr9-XpzY2I8K8ISCWiZbewcUFyNo&__tn__=%2CO%2CP-R[66] https://www.facebook.com/OperationalCommandSouth/posts/pfbid0252iZ8EcrbyQf8jnfs5nzAPrBwNTTtpcwMJJwzGkWW1kgQAMCcv2g1gaTBxNJDYNQl[67] https://twitter.com/JenGriffinFNC/status/1636325726843543553?s=20; https://twitter.com/JenGriffinFNC/status/1636325730005966849?s=20[68] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0sbbMJQEDhcdeie64sdv4pDHrWuFsF31VpsaE3rVUcw3PRbVXz2ZckhDzGRDPZCLwl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0gqTW1PZKuiRnifBc6bPF6JF37yvTy4pa4VwzpbeyAMdDX5YD3y7iGQ9pZYk3Qq9Tl ; https://t.me/zoda_gov_ua/17476 ; https://t.me/Yevtushenko_E/2916[69] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0gqTW1PZKuiRnifBc6bPF6JF37yvTy4pa4VwzpbeyAMdDX5YD3y7iGQ9pZYk3Qq9Tl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0sbbMJQEDhcdeie64sdv4pDHrWuFsF31VpsaE3rVUcw3PRbVXz2ZckhDzGRDPZCLwl[70] https://suspilne dot media/416004-deficit-boepripasiv-u-gur-rozpovili-de-rosia-namagaetsa-kupiti-ozbroenna/[71] https://suspilne dot media/416004-deficit-boepripasiv-u-gur-rozpovili-de-rosia-namagaetsa-kupiti-ozbroenna/[72] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0214B62QNcpFcw9EkaxyJEcffYWmnmbxvt6jR6hh843eKGWqkdXb25N3iWqvkwtByDl?__cft__[0]=AZVOJclauwfLQxwrdU9YhvYXKW9fsB1MweluuyrSKxoMl1GxlRFifnP1VhGU5AI1SvIVvuf13dnmvR4iu0dywoJrXpF_GCDWFEduq8XNHTe9WIarQMGC4qpV7oXaxUx1TXZrWStnCj9REc4_fIFvj61M&__tn__=%2CO%2CP-R[73]https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0214B62QNcpFcw9EkaxyJEcffYWmnmbxvt6jR6hh843eKGWqkdXb25N3iWqvkwtByDl?__cft__[0]=AZVOJclauwfLQxwrdU9YhvYXKW9fsB1MweluuyrSKxoMl1GxlRFifnP1VhGU5AI1SvIVvuf13dnmvR4iu0dywoJrXpF_GCDWFEduq8XNHTe9WIarQMGC4qpV7oXaxUx1TXZrWStnCj9REc4_fIFvj61M&__tn__=%2CO%2CP-R[74] https://tass dot ru/politika/17274575; http://notes.citeam.org/mobilization-mar-14-15#ypRT; https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Russian%20Offensive%20Campaign%20Assessment%2C%20March%2011%2C%202023%20PDF.pdf; https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Russian%20Offensive%20Campaign%20Assessment%2C%20March%2013%2C%202023.pdf[75] https://tass dot ru/politika/17274575; http://notes.citeam.org/mobilization-mar-14-15#ypRT[76] https://t.me/RKadyrov_95/3432[77] https://t.me/bkgrusha/640[78] https://t.me/concordgroup_official/599[79] https://ovd dot news/express-news/2023/03/15/v-sud-postupilo-delo-shkolnicy-iz-kazani-kotoruyu-obvinyayut-v-popytke[80] https://t.me/mozhemobyasnit/14905[81] https://meduza dot io/news/2023/03/16/samarskogo-kommunista-posmotrevshego-poslanie-putina-s-lapshoy-na-ushah-oshtrafovali-na-150-tysyach-rubley[82] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rudUGZxIU6E; https://t.me/istories_media/2241; https://meduza dot io/news/2023/03/16/rossiyskiy-voennosluzhaschiy-soznavshiysya-v-ubiystve-mirnogo-ukraintsa-prigovoren-k-pyati-s-polovinoy-godam-uslovno-po-delu-o-feykah-pro-armiyu[83] https://meduza dot io/news/2023/03/16/ne-ponimayu-sut-vseh-perezhivaniy-rukovodstvo-universiteta-v-novosibirske-o-rassylke-studentam-povestok-v-voenkomat; https://t.me/bazabazon/16368; https://t.me/bazabazon/16388; https://t.me/ChuvashiaDream/6594; https://t.me/Govorit_NeMoskva/5851; https://t.me/yugopolis/9806; http://notes.citeam.org/mobilization-mar-14-15#Rlvy; https://t.me/ChuvashiaDream/6594; https://t.me/Govorit_NeMoskva/5851; https://t.me/yugopolis/9806; https://www.chita dot ru/text/society/2023/03/15/72133295/; https://t.me/tass_agency/184393; http://notes.citeam.org/mobilization-mar-14-15#iGyX; https://paperpaper dot ru/papernews/2023/3/15/68-tysyach-povestok-raznesli-sotrudniki-m/; https://t.me/mobilizationnews/10014; https://t.me/ChuvashiaDream/6594; https://t.me/ChuvashiaDream/6596; https://t.me/yugopolis/9806; https://t.me/ostorozhno_novosti/14879[84] https://sprotyv.mod dot gov.ua/2023/03/16/kozaky-na-sluzhbi-kremlya-yak-okupanty-vykorystovuyut-psevdokozaczki-obyednannya/[85] https://sprotyv.mod dot gov.ua/2023/03/16/kozaky-na-sluzhbi-kremlya-yak-okupanty-vykorystovuyut-psevdokozaczki-obyednannya/[86] https://sprotyv.mod dot gov.ua/2023/03/16/kozaky-na-sluzhbi-kremlya-yak-okupanty-vykorystovuyut-psevdokozaczki-obyednannya/[87] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-august-18; http://pravo.gov dot ru/proxy/ips/?docbody=&nd=102103268[88] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0gqTW1PZKuiRnifBc6bPF6JF37yvTy4pa4VwzpbeyAMdDX5YD3y7iGQ9pZYk3Qq9Tl[89] https://t.me/BalitskyEV/876[90] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0gqTW1PZKuiRnifBc6bPF6JF37yvTy4pa4VwzpbeyAMdDX5YD3y7iGQ9pZYk3Qq9Tl[91] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0gqTW1PZKuiRnifBc6bPF6JF37yvTy4pa4VwzpbeyAMdDX5YD3y7iGQ9pZYk3Qq9Tl[92] https://t.me/RSaponkov/4676[93] https://t.me/sashakots/38878[94] https://t.me/modmilby/24526[95] https://t.me/modmilby/24509

[Author: ISWKF] [Category: Russia, Ukraine]

As of 3/29/23 3:53pm. Last new 3/28/23 11:59pm.

Next feed in category: Wired Security