The big news of the day concerns an alleged Russian chemical attack against Ukrainian defenders in Mariupol.
Mariupol Chemical Attack?
Azov militants allege that a chemical attack has taken place in Mariupol. According to their statement, at approximately 8.40pm on 11th April (day 47), a Russian drone dropped an unknown substance on Azov soldiers, three of whom are experiencing ‘respiratory failure’ and ‘vestibulo-atactic syndrome’ (all are reported to be in mild condition). If confirmed, this would be consistent with exposure to chemical or biological weapons.
According to Russian state-affiliated media RIA Novosti, the separatist press secretary Eduard Basurin claimed that it ‘makes no sense’ to storm the ‘underground fortifications’ of the Azovstal industrial complex, adding that ‘you need to send in the chemical troops’. Donetsk leader Pushilin claims that at least 1,500 Ukrainian fighters are holed up in the Azovstal complex. Azovstal is one of the biggest steel rolling companies in Ukraine, and produced 6 million tonnes of steel in 2005.
Azov-released footage claims to show the effect of Ukrainian artillery against tanks in Mariupol.
Repurposed and Destroyed Equipment
Following the Russian withdrawal from kiev, the Ukrainians are gradually repairing and refitting captured vehicles for service in other fronts of the conflict.
Footage continues to emerge from this sector showing the wreckage of Russian vehicles, ranging from trucks and logistics equipment to destroyed tanks.
Very Direct ‘Indirect Fire’
One technology which appears to be seeing a great deal of use in the Ukraine conflict is that of (laser) guided munitions. Numerous footage over the past few weeks has shown the effect of pinpoint-targeted artillery bombardments, sometimes taking out Russian (or Ukrainian) vehicles with a direct hit. This may be achieved by synchronising artillery with, for example, aerial reconnaisance drones, which can precisely geolocate an enemy vehicle and relay those coordinates to the artillerists.
With no major movements along the combat fronts today, scattered footage continues to emerge from ongoing fighting in this region.
The following footage shows the destruction of a supply depot at Novoaidar, Luhansk, after shelling by Ukrainian forces (MLRS rockets and Tochka missiles are claimed by Russian state media). Over a dozen trucks appear to have been destroyed.
Air raid sirens continue to sound across Ukraine daily, most often around 10am and 11am. The Ukrainians appear to have good intel concerning the location and timing of Russian missile launches, no doubt due to US AWACS planes patrolling the border. These sophisticated radar detection systems are able to track the movement of Russian air assets and missiles with high accuracy and reliability.
A Russian assault against Sievierodonetsk continues, according to the General Staff off the Armed Forces of Ukraine, while a Tochka-U ballistic missile targeted Popasna.
A railway bridge near Belgorod was damaged, while a section of railway track on the same line connecting Belgorod to the combat fronts in Donetsk were destroyed. With reports of Ukrainian dispositions not forthcoming, the cause of this sabotage remains unclear.
Ukraine has announced that it will be imposing a 3-day curfew in Irpin, recaptured following the Russian withdrawal on 30th March (nearly two weeks ago).
Russian authorities have declared a ‘high terrorist threat alert’ in Crimea.
According to recent statements by the Pentagon, the US makes ‘about 10 trips to Ukraine per day’ to transport military aid. A group of Ukrainian troops who had been training in the US since November 2021 recently returned to Ukraine; although they will not be replaced with new trainees due to the exigencies of war, the US has been training thousands of Ukrainian troops in both Ukraine and the USA for at least 8 years.
The British-supplied NLAW anti-tank weapon continues to take a toll on Russian vehicles across the Ukraine conflict.
Russia’s Credit Rating
Following the lowering of Russia’s credit rating to ‘Selective Default’ by S&P Global Ratings on Saturday, Russia has announced that it will sue the ratings agency. Several weeks ago, Russia announced that it would use Russian rubles to pay off bondholders, rather than US dollars, which is considered a partial default by S&P.
A senior Ukrainian spokesman has stated that the country expects a large Russian attack in East Ukraine ‘very soon’.
Seemingly indiscriminate shelling continues in Kharkiv.