- North (assessed Russian Federation Armed Forces (RFAF) Main Effort).
- West of the Dnieper, Russian forces now reportedly control the towns of Borodianka, Kopyliv, Demydiv, and have begun their break-in to Bucha.
- The capture of Kopyliv on the E40/M06 highway is likely to have cut off one westwards evacuation route, forcing civilians to detour further south prior to fleeing west towards Lviv and the Polish border.
- Russian gains are not rapid, but are steady and indicative of the intent to complete the deliberate isolation of Kyiv – preventing the egress of civilians, and the ingress of humanitarian and lethal aid into the capital.
- East of the Dnieper, Chernihiv remains under bombardment and is surrounded on three sides. Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) reportedly repelled an RFAF assault into the east of the city on 8 March, and the city remains in Ukrainian control.
- Sumy remains surrounded on three sides and under bombardment. There have been no significant territorial changes around the city reported overnight.
- The westernmost advance of forces from the Belgorod/Kursk axis towards Kyiv have reportedly reached Bohdanivka and cut off the M01 highway from Kyiv to Chernihiv, likely in order to deny the UAF a resupply route from the south and further tighten the stranglehold on Chernihiv. Additionally, this position is fewer than 50km from the UAF defensive line around Brovary to the east of Kyiv.
- It is highly likely that the RFAF line of communication back east is stretched and vulnerable to interdiction by irregular forces operating in the area. It is unlikely that the RFAF have sufficient combat power in the area to secure Ground Lines of Communication (GLoCs) and provide protection to logistic resupply convoys west of Konotop on this axis.
- There are unconfirmed reports of UAF counterattacking and capturing Chuhuiv (southeast of Kharkiv).
- Izium is now fiercely contested, with the town reportedly under assault by RFAF. There are reportedly no longer any services running in Izium.
- 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 advanced northwest in northern Luhansk and are now threatening Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, which may become besieged in the next 72 hours.
- In Donetsk Oblast, RFAF and RLSF are making slow but steady gains, having reportedly captured Novotroitske and Volnovakha. They are also extending southwest to take Staryi Krym, situated north of Mariupol, to link up with forces on the southern axis from Crimea.
- Curving movement by RFAF west-southwest is likely intended to meet up with southern forces advancing northeast in a probable attempt to cut off and isolate ATO forces along the former Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) Line of Control (LoC).
- On the southern axis, RFAF forces have linked up with counterparts from the east at Staryi Krym, likely further limiting discreet access to Mariupol and cementing the encirclement.
- On 8 March, a ceasefire was declared to allow the evacuation of civilians from Mariupol; however, the RFAF launched an attack onto the northern outskirts of the city once defences were removed to allow civilian passage, and subsequently the evacuation did not take place.
- Progress also occurred on the coast of the Sea of Azov with RFAF seizing Pokrovske – likely in an attempt to isolate Mariupol airport west of the city.
- There has been little progress for RFAF elements pushing north along the east bank of the Dnieper River towards Zaporizhzhia, with the Ukrainians establishing area defences around the towns of Orlkhiv and Balabyne to the south and southeast of the city.
The planned deal to provide Polish MIG-29 fighter aircraft to Ukraine has been vetoed by the United States (US). Russia commented that third parties providing aircraft (and basing) for the UAF would be a “dangerous scenario”.
There are major ceasefires reported for 9 March 22 (between 0700-1900Z), to enable the evacuation of civilians from six cities which include Kyiv, Mariupol, Sumy and Zaporizhzhia. It is likely that both sides will use the opportunity to resupply and re-organise. It is a realistic probability that ceasefires will be violated and collapse before civilian evacuation is complete.
Russia continues to amplify accusations that the US is running a bio-weapons programme in Ukraine, which has been strongly refuted by the US administration. The bio-weapons accusations have gained traction with conspiracy theorists across social media platforms, but are unlikely to impact the situation on the ground.
Despite UAF counterattacks, the RFAF continue to make steady advances, slowly cutting off access to major cities and seeking to systematically envelop Ukrainian resistance in major urban centres. The drive north by forces out of Crimea and the west-southwest orientation of some advancing units from northern Donetsk are indicative of an attempt to isolate ATO forces along the former LoC. If successful, this would trap a significant portion of UAF combat power, preventing reinforcement or withdrawal.
It is unlikely that any ceasefires will hold, as Russia seeks to capitalise on localised opportunities to advance and would prefer higher populations remain in besieged areas to drain resources and overwhelm facilities and hasten their defeat/surrender. It is almost certain that the isolation of Kyiv remains the RFAF Main Effort (ME), with emphasis on the supporting axis from the northeast due to the slow progress south around Chernihiv.
Foreign attempts to supply the UAF with additional aircraft is almost certainly viewed as a significant escalation by President Putin and it is likely that if this occurs then there will be a significant strategic escalation from Russia. It is highly likely that this is the reason the US vetoed the MIG-29 deal. Polish efforts to support Ukraine are likely to constitute the biggest risk of escalation in an international/strategic context.
It is likely the RFAF will continue to consolidate gains in urban areas; however, this may come at the cost of rear-area security as GLoCs become extended. It is a realistic possibility that there will be an increase in Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) strikes using dumb munitions, targeting civil infrastructure and residential areas. It is likely that despite limited success so far, Ukraine will continue to press Russia for ceasefires for humanitarian reasons, seeking to keep international opinion on-side and also to allow time for UAF elements to construct additional defences, conduct equipment care, and resupply. It is likely that Russian forces in Ukraine will disregard ceasefires in order to gain tactical advantages where possible, and a realistic possibility that Russian media outlets will seek to blame UAF for ceasefire violations to justify advances over this period. Historic examples of RFAF/Soviet Army urban clearance operations show a preference for 1-2 weeks of bombardment and reconnaissance activity prior to any assault with heavier forces.