North (assessed RFAF Main Effort).
- There have been few territorial gains over the weekend on the west bank of the Dnieper, with skirmishes and limited Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) counterattacks in the vicinity of (IVO) Irpin and Borodiyanka.
- Hotomel remains in Russian Federation Armed Forces (RFAF) control and is likely being used as a staging area for the bombardment and encirclement of Kyiv as RFAF units push south and west to Motyzhyn.
- To the east of the river, RFAF have now surrounded Chernihiv on three sides and are almost certain to continue to bombard military units and civil infrastructure in the city to lower morale and force a withdrawal by the UAF. Achieving this objective, RFAF would then open up another axis to reinforce elements from the east moving to encircle Kyiv.
- Sumy remains surrounded on three sides and under bombardment with no reported territorial changes over the weekend.
- The thrust westwards from Kursk/Belgorod has reportedly bypassed the besieged town of Konotop and has made better progress towards Kyiv and the Dnieper, with the front line now likely IVO Bobruvitsya and Nova Basan, approximately 65km from the centre of Kyiv. These elements are likely tasked with pushing towards Kyiv in order to assist with the encirclement.
- Kharkiv remains isolated, under siege and significant bombardment; however, UAF hold the city. It is a realistic possibility that RFAF are gathering forces and may launch an offensive against Kharkiv in the next 72 hours.
- Ukrainian Anti-Terror Operation (ATO) forces continue to hold their defensive positions to the west of occupied Donetsk and Luhansk. Russian-Led Separatist Forces (RLSF) and RFAF have made little headway along the majority of the front, with the exceptions of the northern and southern tips.
- In the north, RFAF have taken Svatova and retained Nova Astrakhan. Within the next 96 hours it is a realistic possibility that these elements will link up with the southern elements of the north-east axis IVO Kuplansk or Izium to seal off the majority of the eastern-Ukraine/Russian border.
- To the south, RLSF have broken out towards Volnovakha and Rozivka, north of Mariupol. Mariupol remains under siege with significant damage to civilian infrastructure. Local ceasefires have been touted to allow refugees to escape and humanitarian aid to be provided. It should be noted that reports highlight that aid convoys have been shelled, and the International Committee of the Red Cross has stated that one of the ‘approved’ safe exfiltration routes had been mined. It is unlikely that successful humanitarian relief will occur in Mariupol within the next 48 hours.
- On the southern axis, RFAF have had further success moving north along the east bank of the Dnieper River, reportedly securing Enerhodar, Vasylivka and Tomak.
- It is likely that the UAF will seek to hold Zaporizhzhia as the next major crossing point of the Dnieper. It is likely that within the next 72 hours Zaporizhzhia will be besieged by Russian forces.
- It is a realistic possibility that Russia seeks to move north and south along the east bank of the Dnieper to isolate UAF along the Donetsk/Luhansk Line of Control (LoC) and allow for their destruction once resupplies and UAF avenues of withdrawal are cut.
- Fighting for Mykolaiv is ongoing, with significant bombardment, and fighting on the outskirts. Due to the delay in seizing the river crossing at Mykolaiv, a small front has advanced north towards Voznesensk and Prybuzhany, likely to secure alternative crossing points to isolate Mykolaiv and open the eastern approach to Odessa for a subsequent phase of operation.
Reporting indicates that the Head of the Belarusian Armed Forces has resigned over an inability to generate even a single Battalion Tactical Group (BTGs) for operations in Ukraine. This is reportedly due to a refusal to fight at unit and sub-unit level, which the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) deemed unsolvable by replacing commanders.
Additionally, the United States (US) have given permission for Poland to provide the UAF with fighter aircraft which would potentially be backfilled in Poland by the US.
Russian losses in Ukraine have been branded ‘unsustainable’ by a number of open-source analysts, although accurate reporting of Ukrainian and RFAF equipment and personnel losses are imprecise and subject to under- and over-estimation depending on the source of reporting.
There have been increased reports of communications outages as critical infrastructure is damaged in besieged cities.
Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, is expected to meet the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, on Thursday 10 March, in Antalya, Turkey.
It is highly likely that RFAF will continue to bombard urban areas using dumb munitions to spread terror and make life in surrounded cities untenable for defenders and civilians alike. It is likely that additional strikes against air bases, potentially using some of the remaining valuable stocks of Precision Guided Munitions (PGM), will occur within the next 48–72 hours to render the locations unusable by any additional aircraft that the UAF procures from Poland, or other allies. Although Russian progress is relatively slow, it is still progress, and it is a realistic possibility that Russia will cut off UAF along the former LoC with Donbass/Luhansk by securing major crossings and towns along the east bank of the Dnieper. Ceasefires agreed with Russian forces are unlikely to hold, and it is a realistic possibility that aid convoys seeking to use safe passages into and out of besieged cities will come under fire. The ability for civilians to escape Mariupol, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, or Kherson is assessed as low, with high risk of interdiction and targeting of vehicles. It is likely that Kyiv will become increasingly difficult to evacuate as the noose tightens on both sides of the river.
Over the next 24–48 hours it is likely that strikes and shelling will continue against besieged cities, predominantly targeting infrastructure and civilian targets. Additionally, communication difficulties are expected to increase in besieged areas as infrastructure is destroyed in an attempt to stifle military and civilian communication, suppress social media reporting, and enable localised deception.
It is a realistic possibility that within the next 96 hours RFAF will launch ground assaults onto Kharkhiv and Chernihiv, although it is likely to take longer than this to organise an assault on Kyiv from the west due to disruption caused by logistic difficulties and UAF counterattacks. RFAF are likely to continue to advance towards Zaporizhzhia and to assault Mykolaiv in order to secure river crossing and deny UAF support/resupply from the west. UAF Special Forces raids on RFAF assembly areas and unprotected/lightly protected Offensive Support batteries and aircraft are likely to continue to disrupt RFAF operations. It is almost certain that there will be no diplomatic solution or enduring ceasefire agreed within the next week.