While Russia continues to apply pressure across the East Donbas front, territorial gains on the ground are not forthcoming.
Kramatorsk Station Missile Strike
A Russian missile strike at Kramatorsk railway station on Friday 8th April, 10:30am local time, appears to have killed many civilians, with the publicly announced death toll standing at 57 dead and 114 wounded.
Published casualty figures for earlier Russian missile strikes are widely believed to be underestimates, such as the attack against Yavoriv ‘Ukraine-NATO Partnership For Peace’ Military Base on 13th March (where international volunteers were receiving rudimentary training).
Kramatorsk is an important node in the infrastructure network connecting embattled Ukrainian forces in East Donbas to the rest of the country.
East Donbas, or, ‘The Leaky Cauldron’
From an early stage in the Russian invasion, Russia state-affiliated media has taken to identifying the East Donbas sector of the conflict as ‘the Cauldron’. Primarily this term emerged as part of the attempt to craft a positive narrative around Russia’s failure to secure large territorial gains in the war.
Reading the combat fronts was the wrong way to view Russia’s strategy, pundits declared. Russia’s aims were actually to destroy the Ukrainian Army, and one of the main areas this would be achieved was East Donbas.
The idea was that East Donbas was an area with a significant concentration of Ukrainian troops, and would be liable to being cut off from resupply. East Donbas is a strategic ‘salient’, or ‘bulge’, where the Russians should theoretically be able to bring more firepower to bear against the defenders and prosecute a successful attack over the long term. Having partially surrounded this ‘cauldron’, the Russians can ‘turn up the heat’.
The failure to properly disconnect the defenders in East Donbas from the rest of Ukraine has meant that if East Donbas is a cauldron, it has so far proved something of a leaky cauldron. Advances southward from Izyum appear to have been decisively stalled, with similar performance along the southern front of this sector. If Russia is to make progress in this war, they will need to achieve a major success in East Donbas over the coming weeks.
Explosions in Donetsk, probably due to Ukrainian shelling, took out an electrical substation on Bakhmetieva street. Russian shelling continues in the vicinity of Maryinka, East Donbas, as Vuhledar, Krasnohorivka, and Avdiivka are hit.
A Russian military convoy was recorded in Novozybkov, north of Ukraine, allegedly recycling to Donbas.
Satellite imagery near Kharkiv from April 8th showed a Russian military convoy moving south through Velykyi Burluk, en route to East Donbas.
A Russian ammunition warehouse near Luhansk was allegedly destroyed by Ukrainian bombardment. Another ammunition warehouse south of Velyka Novosilka was destroyed on Saturday 9th, 18:45 local time, according to drone footage.
On April 9th, 32 Su-35 ‘Flanker’ fighter jets were identified at Voronezh Malshevo airbase, 200km from the Ukrainian border.
A ‘high’ security threat has been declared in the Russian city of Kursk, in anticipation of Ukrainian military or sabotage operations.
The combat front between Mykolaiv and Kherson has remained stable for many days, with both sides appearing to trade artillery fire across the 30 mile distance between the two cities.
The situation north of this region appears to be more fluid, with Ukrainian operations aiming to clear villages south of Kryviy Rih, while reports of Russian shelling and bombardment continue.
Mariupol Siege Ongoing
The siege of Mariupol continues. A fair amount of footage continues to emerge from Azov defenders, though there is a possibility that some of this material is from previous skirmishes (and released in small amounts in order to convey an impression of continued successes in the beleaguered city).
Russia has released footage claiming to show the destruction of a Ukrainian armoured vehicle by a Russian-made combat drone.
A recent claim by the Ukrainian Army that ‘around 40’ Russian vehicles were destroyed during a strike on a warehouse near Volnovakha, has been verified, with 35 vehicles destroyed.
It is possible that the vehicles were stored in such a dense concentration in order to hide them from aerial and satellite reconnaissance, decreasing the probability of a fatal airstrike — however, that same concentration resulted in a large toll of vehicles when the hidden unit was discovered and hit.
Missile Strikes and Air Defences
The Russian Ministry of Defence claims to have destroyed S-300 surface to air missile (SAM) systems at Chuhuiv airbase (near Kharkiv) and Starobohdanovka (near Mykolaiv), while also claiming the destruction of a National Guard base at Zvonetske south of Dnipro.
The mayor of Dnipro states that the ‘total destruction’ of Dnipro airport following repeated missile strikes. Fragments of a high-precision Russian missile were recovered near Huliaypole, north of Polohy, east of Zaporizhzhia.
On Friday 8th April, Slovakia transferred its S-300PMU SAM systems to Ukraine, according to local footage.
Kharkiv Bombardment Continues
Dozens of incidents of Russian shelling continue around Kharkiv on a daily basis, ranging from MLRS Grad and Smerch rockets, artillery, and ‘tanks’. According to the head of the regional administration, 66 such incidents took place within a 24 hour period.
Footage has emerged showing previous combat operations around Kiev, which were abandoned by the Russians on 30th March.
Following the Russian withdrawal from Kiev and North Ukraine, thousands of foreign journalists have descended upon the capital to gather footage and make reports. One photo shows 6 journalists photographing a cat, while a hundred others swarm a column of burnt-out, rusting Russian vehicles (we do not publish these photos here since the copyrights to such media are owned by AP, AFP, Reuters, and other journalistic footage cartels, whose business activities revolve around reselling this footage in packets to wealthy mainstream news outlets).
1,222 Kiev residents were killed by the Russian Army during the five-week occupation of outlying districts, according to the Ukrainian Attorney General.
According to the World Bank, the economy of Ukraine is set to contract by 45.1% this year, with Russia’s contracting 11.2%. Over 10% of Ukraine’s pre-war population has already left the country as refugees, with the majority in Poland.
It has been claimed that during a protest against Russian occupation on 10th April (day 46), Russian troops opened fire to disperse protesters. However, the footage appears to be a badly edited version of a clip that emerged on 5th March, and was widely circulated in international media.