North

  • As of 03 Apr 22, UAF announced that all areas of Kyiv and Zhytomyr regions are now under its control. In Chernihiv region, reporting indicated that UAF have hoisted the Ukrainian flag at the Dniprovske, Dobyranka and Hremyach border crossing points with clearance operations ongoing.
  • Remaining RFAF pockets continuing to withdraw up into Belarus and Russia.

Post from BBC journalist reporting on the situation in Bucha and Hostomel following RFAF withdrawal. Source: @BowenBBC

Northeast

  • Following reports of Izyum falling under RFAF control, Russian units are in a period of consolidation ahead of future offensive operations. As of 06 Apr 22, RFAF had advanced as far as Brazhkivka, Sulyhivka, and Dovhenke along the T2122 route – approximately 10km south-west of Izyum.
  • RFAF have also targeted the UAF near Barvinkove, south-west of Izyum, along the T2122 and the T2113 routes. However, UAF ambushed the RFAF convoy, and no further gains have been made.
  • RFAF that withdrew from Sumy region are reported to be presently staged in Belgorod, ahead of redeployment to support the next phase of activity following the capture of Izyum.
  • Also, in Sumy region, reports that the Bilopilia – Sumy – Troistanec rail line is operating following UAF liberation.
  • In Kharkiv city, UAF remain fixed in position due to continuing air and artillery bombardment.

East (assessed Russian Federation Armed Forces (RFAF) Main Effort).

  • Slovyansk is reported to be the next objective for RFAF positioned in Izyum and wider Kharkiv region. Kramatorsk has also been highlighted as a supporting objective.
  • In Luhansk, Popasna, Rubizhne, and Sievierodonetsk remain the focus of ground advances in the region with increasing reports of RFAF and UAF clashes. RFAF are now reported to be in control of a train depot in Popasna. Gas pipelines were damaged in Sievierodonetsk, which left much of the region without power.
  • In Donetsk, UAF defended RFAF break-ins near the vicinity of Marinka and Makiivka. On 04 Apr 22, UAF officials stated that it had repelled seven (7) RFAF attacks in a 24-hour period.
  • Avdiivka remains under heavy RFAF bombardment.
  • On 06 Apr 22, five humanitarian corridors were planned to evacuate residents from Ukrainian occupied territory in Luhansk region, ahead of renewed RFAF operations. These included Hirske, Lysychansk, Popasna, Rubizhne, and Sievierodonetsk to be extracted to Bakhmut town.
  • Multiple reports of civilians queueing at Kramatorsk train station, attempting to leave the city. In some instances, civilians have been waiting days.

Post showing aerial footage showing damage to buildings in Popasna, Luhansk region. Source: @RALee85

South

  • UAF resistance in Mariupol continues despite progress from RFAF.
  • UAF officials denied reports that 503
  • RFAF also seized control of the Ukrainian State Security Service building on 02 Apr 22.
  • In Kherson region, RFAF conducted a counteroffensive to retake Oleksandrivka settlement on 05 Apr 22. Reflections indicate that the city is now under partial RFAF control.
  • Kryvyi Rih remains under heavy bombardment; however, UAF liberated several towns and villages to the south including Kniazivka, Krasnivka, Svobodne, and Pryhirya.
  • No significant changes to the ground situation near Mykolaiv, as UAF repel RFAF attempted advances to the south of the city.
  • Anti-occupation rallies continue to be observed in Kherson city.
  • RFAF reported to be conducting searches of residential properties in Melitopol, seizing humanitarian aid supplies. Also, unconfirmed reports that residents being prevented from leaving by RFAF on the main routes out of the city.
  • Odessa bombarded by RFAF precision guided weapons (both air and sea launched) on several occasions across the last 7-days.

Post highlighting Ukrainian rejection of Russia’s claims that the 503

Post highlighting video footage claiming to show members of the 503

Strategic/Political

  • The RFAF’s behaviour in this conflict is now firmly under the spotlight following multiple reports of war crimes committed by RFAF in liberated areas of Ukraine. Images and videos showing the reported crimes in Bucha have dominated western news coverage, leading to international condemnation from political leaders. UK officials have called for Russia to be expelled from the United Nations Human Rights Council, whilst US President, Joe Biden, called for Vladimir Putin to be prosecuted for war crimes. European Union (EU) members have echoed this message, stating that it is proposing a new series of sanctions, including bans on coal imports, and all transactions with Russia’s top four banks – including VTB. Several EU members have also expelled Russian diplomats in response to these reported atrocities. However, Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, stated that countries must go further, asserting that Russia must be expelled from the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), or “dissolve” the organisation. Russia has denied the war crimes, accusing Ukraine and other nations (including the UK) of staging the evidence, however this protest/denial is likely primarily aimed at domestic and allied audiences and has no credibility among western nations.

So what?

  • The speed of the RFAF withdrawal has reinforced the view that RFAF’s primary effort is now to support its activity in south-east Kharkiv region, to then create more favourable conditions for military success in the Donbass region. Redeployment of forces withdrawn from Kyiv and Sumy will likely be conducted as quickly as possible in order to gain momentum in the east. When re-formed and reconstituted, units are likely to deploy along the axis progressing south from Izyum to support a thrust towards Barvinkove. If Barvinkove falls to Russia, the rail resupply of UAF defenders in Sievierdonetsk and Lysychansk will be cut, threatening to render the UAF main defensive line in Luhansk Oblast untenable. There are likely to be issues with the readiness and combat effectiveness of redeploying forces which suffered losses in other areas of operation, and morale and equipment serviceability among these forces is likely to be low. Multiple units re-organising into new units is also likely to lead to communications and control issues for Russian commanders.
  • The global reaction to these atrocities will put pressure on western leaders to take decisive action against Russia. The US has committed a further USD 100 million for anti-tank weapon systems (including loitering munitions), whilst the Czech Republic is sending main battle tanks to the UAF. Despite EU proposals to target other parts of the Russian economy, Ukrainian concerns are still likely to be voiced over the EU’s reliance on Russian hydrocarbons – notably gas. The EU is committed to decoupling from Russian gas by 2030, but until then Ukraine will continue to see these transactions as facilitating the war and atrocities. EU’s Foreign Policy chief, Josep Borrell, stated that EU payments have been 35x more than what the alliance has contributed in military aid to Ukraine. Whilst it was likely intended as a soundbite, it illustrates the gravity of the strategic challenge facing the EU. Russia’s position on the UNSC is also a critical consideration for world leaders in the immediate term. However, securing its removal will be difficult due to the UNSC’s constitutional framework; the presence of member states who remain neutral or Russia-leaning, despite the reported atrocities; and the typically long process associated with UN decision-making which is unlikely to happen at pace.

What next?

Following the RFAF withdraw in Kyiv and Chernihiv regions, its military attention is likely to focus on planning offensive operations from Izyum towards Barvinkove, Slovyansk and Kramatorsk. Attempted break-ins into the towns and villages south of Izyum, including Barvinkove, will continue in the next 96-hours. Consequently, more civilians will attempt to leave the area, via Kramatorsk train station plus the main transit routes, leading to a renewed effort to open further humanitarian corridors in the region. Further evidence of RFAF redeployment into Donbass region will increase the likelihood that RFAF will make small territorial gains in the next 7-days. However, it is judged that RFAF will not initiate its large-scale Donbass offensive within the next 2-3 weeks. The situation in Mariupol will continue to deteriorate in the next 7-days.