The Russian offensive continues in East Donbas, with limited progress on the ground on Wednesday 20th April after three days of fighting.
According to a somewhat overemotional post by Novosti Odessa (Ukrainian media), Ukrainian troops named after the ‘Knights of the Winter Campaign’ had been surrounded in Oleksandrivka for 21 days, before breaking out from encirclement on day 56. Numerous aspects of this report are dubious, however it is claimed that the encircled unit retreated in small groups under the cover of darkness, aided by accurate and effective artillery fire from the main body of Ukrainian forces on the Mykolaiv-Kherson front.
Shelling continued across this front, south of Kryvyi Rih, and in Mykolaiv.
In Melitopol, the Russian FSB claims to have detained several Ukrainian citizens and captured MANPADs, anti-tank mines, and other ammunition.
According to footage of a meeting released between the Russian President and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigiu, Vladimir Putin has requested not to storm the Azovstal industrial complex and instead place it under siege. If true, Mr Putin is presumably intending to use the surrounded Azovstal complex as a bargaining chip.
Fighting continues in East Donbas, the main active front in this phase of the Ukraine conflict. Reports indicate that significant numbers of Ukrainian conscripts may have been sent to bolster the defence in this region, while pro-Russian accounts have been publishing numerous photos of dead Ukrainian soldiers south of Izyum. Photos of a Royal Marine Commando uniform were included in one such montage, but there does not appear to be anything linking this footage to the actual scene of the mass burial.
It is currently difficult to gauge the progress of this combat front, but it does not appear that Russia has made any significant headway as yet. The east and south of the Donbas salient consist of multiple strongly-defended urban areas behind defensible rivers; the most progress is being made in the north near Izyum and Kreminna, but the Russian offensive still appears to be a slow grind.
Fighting continues in Popasna, where the Ukrainians are claiming that mercenaries from Syria and/or Libya were killed in recent fighting.
The Russians are believed to have advanced to Zarichne, which is being defended by Ukrainian troops behind the Zherebets River.
According to Russian state media, Luhansk People’s Republic (separatist) forces have made progress on the oblast border between Kharkiv and Luhansk.
Fighting continues on the outskirts of Maryinka, which despite months of shelling is proving a tough nut to crack for the Russian Army. Avdiivka is another well-defended urban area that continues to see heavy shelling.
14 ships were tracked off the coast of Northwest Crimea by Western satellites, including FSB patrol boats.
The Chilean journalist Gonzalo Lira has remained missing for a fifth day. Reports indicate that he may have been arrested by Ukrainian State Security forces on espionage charges, while some speculate that he has been killed. The online influencer ‘Coach Red Pill’ has also disappeared from Kharkiv, with speculation rife that he may have met his demise.
According to the Pentagon, due to recently supplied aircraft parts, Ukraine now has more than 20 operational jets. They also claim that Russia has 82 Battalion Tactical Groups (BTGs) in Ukraine at the moment, with 4 of these entering the country in the last 24 hours.