North (assessed Russian Federation Armed Forces (RFAF) Main Effort).
West of the Dnieper, RFAF are likely to have finished their operational pause and resumed (limited) offensive activity NW of Kyiv. It is a realistic possibility that the RFAF launched a Regiment(-) offensive into Bucha from Borodyanka on 9 Mar 22, however the UAF General Staff report that the offensive failed. It is almost certain however that the NW region of Kyiv is the current Forward Line of Enemy Troops (FLET) on the Kyiv axis west of the Dnieper River. Elements of RFAF have reportedly continued their advance S to the west of Kyiv, reportedly observed in Yasnohorodka and Byshiv to the WSW of Kyiv along the P04 road to Fastiv. It is likely that Fastiv is the next objective for forces seeking to cut Ukrainian Ground Lines of Communication (GLoCs) into Kyiv from the west. To the east of the Dnieper, on the Chernihiv axis, Russian forces have continued efforts to take Chernihiv town as well as to bypass it to the southeast and east. Chernihiv remains under frequent bombardment/Offensive Support (OS) and it is almost certain that the humanitarian situation continues to worsen as the siege and assault continues.
Sumy remains surrounded on three sides and under bombardment. There have been no significant territorial changes around the city reported overnight. Reporting indicates the corridor west from Sumy towards Kyiv (along the H07 highway, which runs from Kursk to Kyiv) has not made any significant progress as the RFAF seek to consolidate and control the GLoC and the UAF attempt to disrupt this activity. On the Kharkhiv-Konotop axis, along highway M02, and the UAF have reported pontoon bridging equipment near Kozolets – likely due to the marshland/water table in the area. It is a realistic possibility the bridging equipment will also be used to cross the Desna River as units progress westward towards Kyiv. In Kharkiv, RFAF continue their bombardment and isolation, however, there have been no reported further attempts to assault the city over the reporting period. It is a realistic possibility that ground manoeuvre units IVO Kharkiv have been re-tasked to support a potential upcoming offensive against Sumy.
Ukrainian Anti-Terror Operation (ATO) forces continue to hold their defensive positions to the west of occupied Donetsk and Luhansk, however Russian-Led Separatist Forces (RLSF) and RFAF continue to attack west in northern Luhansk against Rubizhne and Sievierodonetsk, but currently the UAF defensive line is likely to remain. Izium is currently under attack from 2 axis, one from the north along the M03 highway by units from the Belgorod front, and from the east by elements from the northern part of the Luhansk axis. Moving west from the Donetsk Oblast, forces that linked up with Crimean elements to encircle Mariupol have reportedly struck north, destroying a UAF ambulance IVO Staromlynivka. Consolidation of this manoeuvre corridor along the T0518 highway is likely to create further issues for UAF along the former Line of Control south of Donetsk town.
On the southern axis, there has been little progress in the area of Mariupol and the siege continues. Ukrainian units continue to repel RFAF assaults from all landward avenues of approach. A planned evacuation of civilians for 9 Mar 22 did not happen again, and the RFAF reportedly bombed a maternity hospital and damaged several buildings. The humanitarian situation is highly likely to be dire, with limited stocks of food, water and defensive stores/ammunition likely critical. To the northwest of Crimea, RFAF bombardment of Mykolaiv is ongoing, and it is likely preparations are underway for a renewed assault in the near future. Concurrent to this, RFAF elements have reportedly pushed north along the west bank of the Dnieper River, attacking Mylove and Dudchany, with a branch further northwest to Bila Krynytsia. A small element of RFAF have bypassed Mykolaiv to the NNW, cutting off the H11 and H14 MSRs into the town, whilst pushing north towards Voznesensk on the P06. Voznesensk is on the southern approach to Yuznoukrainsk (approx. 28km) which is where the Southern Ukraine Nuclear Power Station is located. This is highly likely to be an operational objective for RFAF. East of the Dnieper River, a humanitarian corridor was successfully opened on 9 Mar 22 from Enerhodar towards Zaporizhzhia, allowing some civilians to evacuate areas already under RFAF control. The frontline reportedly remains unchanged in this area.
- Ceasefires brokered for major cities for 9 Mar 22 were implemented with limited success. Attempts to flee Kyiv and environs west were disrupted by RFAF, and no civilians were allowed to leave Mariupol or Chernihiv, however some refugees (up to 50 000 over two days – 8/9 Mar) did manage to escape Sumy.
- Finnish President Sauli Niinisto is reported to have a scheduled phone call with President Putin on Fri 11 Mar 22.
- A US Department of Defence Spokesperson reveals that Russia has fired approximately 710 guided missiles against targets inside Ukraine as of 9 Mar 22.
It is a realistic possibility that attacks northwest of Kyiv made by 3-5 Battalion Tactical Groups (BTG) at a time are an attempt to conduct ‘reconnaissance in force’ prior to launching a large-scale general offensive into Kyiv. It is likely that humanitarian corridors which facilitate the movement of evacuees out of Russian-controlled territory will be allowed to take place in order to relieve some of the burden of managing occupied territories and allow more direct targeting of any stay-behind/resistance elements. It is likely that no further evacuations west from Kyiv will be left unmolested by RFAF, despite Russian agreements to honour localised ceasefires. It is almost certain that no civilians will be allowed to flee Mariupol, and it is unclear where they could go from there to get to areas in UAF control.
It is probable that the RFAF will launch a larger-scale effort to conduct a ground offensive and tighten the noose around Kyiv within the next 96hrs. It is a realistic possibility that a major attempt will be made to take Sumy within the next 96hrs, likely supported by aviation. Air strikes using dumb munitions into urban areas are likely to continue, and hospitals, utilities and roads/infrastructure are almost certain to be struck to increase pressure on defenders and trapped civilians alike.