News from the battlefield: Russians have launched the biggest tank attack in months


The strategic part of the air war was marked by continued Russian strikes against Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. The attacks damaged or destroyed virtually half of Ukraine’s production capacity and caused power outages for millions of people. We have described the details in a separate article.

Let’s just add that the repairs of some of the affected power plants will take years, even according to Ukrainian representatives. The extent of the damage caused by the recent Russian bombing is also indicated by the fact that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi ordered an early end to the country’s heating season.

In the last week, as Zelenskyy said, the Ukrainian side did not give up strikes against Russian refineries. It also carried out one attack on a refinery in the city of Nizhnekamsk in Tatarstan, which lies roughly 1,200 kilometers from the Ukrainian border. In the same Russian region, Ukrainian drones also attacked a factory where Iranian Shahid drones, which Russia uses to attack Ukraine, are manufactured under license. it appears that at least (i) modified regular small sport aircraft were used for the attack.

It is not yet clear what damage the attack caused. We are also starting to have at least a clearer idea of ​​what the previous attacks on Russia’s oil refining industry did. The capacity of Russian refineries fell by about one-seventh, or 14 percent, according to the Reuters calculation.

The outage information also suggests that repairs will take longer, at least in some cases. Russia does not publish the exact information. And what we know, along with the fact that OPEC+ countries are promising further production cuts, and other factors have led to an increase in the prices of oil and oil products on the world market.

The Ukrainian campaign may therefore have an effect on Russian exports, but it is still not clear how big it will be and for how long. And also how the western allies, whose economies will have to cope with the higher price of oil, will continue to treat it.

Damaged Russian refineries

At a time when Russia is struggling in its domestic fuel market, Russian refineries, often far from the border with Ukraine, are increasingly being targeted by Ukrainian drone strikes.

Front Air Force

Speaking of the air war, Russia also continued to make heavy use of bombers right on and around the front. Heavy glide bombs weighing 500 kilograms, as well as 1,500 kilograms with a long range, are today a key weapon for destroying Ukrainian front line fortifications. In the second half of March, the Russians deployed about a hundred of them per day, according to Ukrainian sources (for example, the Minister of Defense).

The bombs travel to the battlefield from a distance of around 70 kilometers. The Russian forces also have an unknown number of the new type available, which should be equipped with an additional engine and whose range could thus be even higher, over 100 kilometers. They used it recently to bombard Kharkiv, a city that has so far been spared attacks by sliding bombs thanks to its distance from the Russian border.

Even according to Ukrainian officials, the Russian air force, which had long played a marginal role, became the Kremlin’s main advantage. At the same time, the bombing is concentrated on places that are key for the Russians on the front. In February it was Avdijivka, today it is the area around Bakhmut.

At the front

Directly on the battlefield, it is still true that Russian forces are clearly more active. Attacks in a number of places along the front, although not everywhere. In some parts, on the contrary, they are building additional fortifications, minefields and other obstacles to complicate a possible Ukrainian attack attempt.

The Russian attacks did not lead to significant changes or even breakthroughs in the Ukrainian defense line, but lead to gradual losses of territory on the Ukrainian side. And of course also to the losses on both sides, which, however, from a purely mathematical point of view, the Russian army can afford higher.

The issue of mobilizing additional men is still politically unresolved in Ukraine (the bill has still not been approved). Ukrainian units will not receive significant reinforcements in the horizon of several months. On the contrary, the Russian army recruits roughly the same number of men, and despite considerable losses, it can send new men into the attack. The question is how effectively he can build additional reserves or new units. However, this is a strictly guarded military secret, about which the further development of the fighting will tell us the most.

So far, the Russian attacks are conducted with superiority, but they are not decisive. In most places where the Russians are conducting offensive operations, there has been little or no change along the line.

However, for example, analysts from the Polish company Rochan Consulting refuse to describe the situation as “stabilized”. Among other things, for example, because Russian forces have at least to a limited extent (slightly) advanced in several places in the Donetsk region, even though according to Ukrainian sources they have launched fewer attacks than, say, a week ago. Which could indicate that Ukrainian defenses remain very tight.

In the northern part of the front, however, little or no movement occurred. But at Lyman, for example, Russian forces reportedly launch 10-20 attacks a day, usually with the help of small infantry units.

Not only from this area, relatively large attacks by mechanized units have also been reported in recent days. The Russian army apparently still has enough equipment at its disposal, which is also illustrated by the event described below.

An interesting fact, the meaning of which is not yet clear, is that in March 2024, for the first time since the beginning of the war, the infantry fighting vehicles to tanks. And from roughly 2:1 to 3:1 “in favor” of armored infantry vehicles. Whether it is a change of tactics, some temporary anomaly, or something else, we will see.

Hot Donetsk and a tank attack near Avdijivka

The area around Bachmut was also a focus of heavy fighting. There, Russian troops are trying to advance to the town of Chasiv Yar, where Ukrainian forces have been preparing defenses for months. However, the city is the target of very intense aerial bombardment, against which Ukraine has no counterweapon.

It is an open question how the built defense will withstand such an onslaught. In Avdijivka, it became clear that aerial bombardment – together with the lack of ammunition on the Ukrainian side – can disrupt even very strong positions.

In the area around Avdijivka, Russian forces continued to press and advanced slightly in a western direction. According to some accounts, they had already reached the line of water cannons and high ground, which seemed to be the most suitable place for defense near the conquered city. If this is really the case, it can be expected that the front will continue to move in the western direction, at least a few kilometers to the next suitable defense line.

At the end of March, there was also an extraordinary and (so far only partially) documented event in the area, which shows that the Russian units are far from relying only on the mentioned small infantry attacks. Russian troops gathered almost five dozen pieces of armored vehicles for a single attack: 36 tanks and 12 infantry fighting vehicles.

Photo: Telegram of the 25th Airborne Brigade of Ukraine armies / PJ “giK” (designation of losses)

Consequences of the Russian attack at Tonenka. The exact color-coded coordinates of the lost equipment are translated over the shot. What is important about it is that already confirmed previous Ukrainian losses are marked in blue. The other wrecks are believed to be new Russian casualties from the March 30 attack.

The attack appears to have been repulsed or at least resulted in no breakthrough, with Russian forces losing roughly half of their deployed vehicles, according to Ukrainian sources. However, the event shows that Russia still has relatively large reserves of combat equipment, although not often very modern.

For comparison, the Czech army currently has about 80 tanks in its state, that is, only about twice as many as the Russian forces deployed in this single attack. This also shows that, at least in some respects, the willingness to help Ukraine is really limited by the lack of “hardware” in warehouses or directly with the units. Especially in the case of European armies.

Russian attacks continued in other parts of the Donetsk region, but they did not achieve much success. Russian units made slight progress, for example, at Novomichajlivka or Pervomajske. The development of the situation on the battlefield is therefore also in other parts of the front similar to Avdijivka or Bachmut. The Russians are advancing, albeit with such losses that they do not have the opportunity to build up a significant advantage.

Basically, no changes to the line of contact were convincingly documented at the site of the Ukrainian summer offensive around Robotyne in the Zaporozhye region (also here, by the way, Russian forces attempted a larger mechanized attack) or in the case of the Ukrainian bridgehead on the occupied bank of the Dnieper near the village of Krynky in the Kherson region.

The article is in Czech

Tags: News battlefield Russians launched biggest tank attack months


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