Russian forces likely captured the Port of Mariupol on April 16 despite Ukrainian General Staff denials, reducing organized Ukrainian resistance in the city to the Azovstal factory in eastern Mariupol. Russian and DNR forces released footage on April 16 confirming their presence in several key locations in southwestern Mariupol, including the port itself. Isolated groups of Ukrainian troops may remain active in Mariupol outside of the Azovstal factory, but they will likely be cleared out by Russian forces in the coming days. Russian forces likely seek to force the remaining defenders of the Azovstal factory to capitulate through overwhelming firepower to avoid costly clearing operations, but remaining Ukrainian defenders appear intent on staging a final stand. Russian forces will likely complete the capture of Mariupol in the coming week, but final assaults will likely continue to cost them dearly.
Russian forces continued to amass on the Izyum axis and in eastern Ukraine, increasingly including low-quality proxy conscripts, in parallel with continuous – and unsuccessful – small-scale attacks. Russian forces did not take any territory on the Izyum axis or in Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts in the past 24 hours. Russian forces deploying to eastern Ukraine reportedly continue to face significant morale and supply issues and appear unlikely to intend, or be able to, conduct a major offensive surge in the coming days. Deputy Ukrainian Minister of Defense Anna Malyar stated on April 17 that the Russian military is in no hurry to launch an offensive in eastern Ukraine, having learned from their experience from Kyiv – but Russian forces continue localized attacks and are likely unable to amass the cohesive combat power necessary for a major breakthrough.
- Russian forces likely captured the Port of Mariupol on April 16 despite Ukrainian General Staff denials.
- Russian forces likely seek to force the remaining defenders of the Azovstal factory to capitulate through overwhelming firepower to avoid costly clearing operations, but remaining Ukrainian defenders appear intent on staging a final stand.
- Evgeny Prigozhin, financier of the Wagner Group, is likely active on the ground in eastern Ukraine to coordinate Wagner Group recruitment and funding.
- Russian forces continued their build up around Izyum but did not conduct any offensive operations.
The Ukrainian Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported on April 16 that the Kremlin is increasingly arresting Russian and proxy officers for failures in Ukraine. The GUR reported Russian military authorities established a commission intended to run from March 2 to April 24 in occupied Horlivka to identify the reasons for personnel shortages among Russian forces. The GUR reported that Russian investigators discovered the commanders of Russia’s 3rd Motor Rifle Brigade was 100% staffed at the beginning of the invasion when it in fact only had 55% of its personnel and arrested two battalion commanders in the brigade. The GUR also reported the FSB arrested DNR Defense Spokesperson Eduard Basurin for his ”careless statement” on April 11 revealing Russian intent to use chemical weapons in Mariupol, though there is still no independent confirmation of the Ukrainian claim of Russian chemical weapons use.
Comment: In other news, Zelenskiy told CNN that between 2,500 and 3,000 Ukrainian servicemen were killed in the war and that about 10,000 Ukrainian servicemen were injured. Ukrainian estimate of Russian casualties is around 20,000 dead. The Ukrainian MOD also reported yesterday, “Due to the lack of human resources, the invaders are trying to bring local residents of temporarily captured territories into the war. So, in the city of Izium, forced mobilization of men has begun.”
Seems the Russians have drained DNR and LNR of available manpower in their conscription round ups. I can almost guarantee these new “recruits” are poorly trained and equipped, with some reports of Mosin Nagant rifles being issued to these poor bastards. They’re either rusted or still clogged with cosmoline. Their motivation and reliability are obviously suspect. If I was a Russian commander, I wouldn’t trust them to guard supply columns much less use them in an assault against prepared Ukrainian positions. It’s not just Russian logistics that are in bad shape.