Ukrainian forces retain control of defensive positions in eastern and southwestern Mariupol, despite Russian claims to have captured most of the city. ISW was able to confirm the specific locations of ongoing Russian assaults on April 8 for the first time in several days. Russian forces continue to attempt to regroup and redeploy units withdrawn from northeastern Ukraine to support an offensive in eastern Ukraine, but these units are unlikely to enable a Russian breakthrough and face poor morale. Russian forces along the Izyum-Slovyansk axis did not make any territorial gains in the last 24 hours. Ukrainian counterattacks toward Kherson continue to threaten Russian positions around the city.
- Ukrainian forces continued to hold out against Russian assaults in areas of southwestern and eastern Mariupol, notably in the port and the Azovstal Metallurgy plant, respectively.
- Ukrainian forces continued to repel daily Russian assaults in Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts.
- A Russian Tochka-U missile struck a civilian evacuation point at the Kramatorsk rail station in eastern Ukraine, killing at least 50 and wounding around a hundred evacuees.
- Russian forces continued attacks south of Izyum toward Slovyansk and Barvinkove but did not take any new territory.
- Ukrainian counterattacks have likely taken further territory west of Kherson, threatening Russian control of the city.
Russian forces are increasingly refusing to reenter combat, and the Kremlin remains unlikely to quickly redeploy effective forces from northeastern Ukraine to operations in Donbas. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that more than 80% of personnel in some unspecified Russian units previously involved in combat operations are refusing to return to the front. Russian commanders are reportedly refusing to release soldiers whose service contracts have expired, forcing them to stay with their units. The Ukrainian GUR (Military Intelligence) claimed to have intercepted a letter from Russian Chief of Missile Troops and Artillery Mikhail Matveevsky to several Russian training centers calling for further censorship of troops undergoing training, and encouraged propaganda highlighting the monetary benefits of serving in the war. Elements of Russia’s 6th Combined Arms Army (CAA), 20th CAA, 1st Guards Tank Army, and coastal troops of the Northern and Baltic Fleets continue efforts to regroup for likely redeployment to eastern Ukraine. The General Staff additionally reported that Russian Western Military District Commander Colonel General Alexander Zhuravlev (the first explicit mention of Zhuravlev since the war began) is planning to remove Major General Ivan Belyavsky from the position of the head of the WMD personnel department due to low recruitment numbers.
Comment: IMO the biggest news in the last 24 hours is that Moscow has decided to appoint an overall commander of their special military operation after more than six weeks of combat. Sweet Jesus! What took them so long?
Another point of interest is that Mariupol is still resisting. Sounds like a Green Devils of Cassino situation. Pro-Russian sources are claiming the Ukrainian forces still fighting in the Azovstal Steel Works alone are 3,000 strong. Until earlier this week they were getting resupplied by a couple of helicopters flying nightly low level flights coming in from the sea. They would take the wounded out on the return flights. The Russians finally wised up to this Night Stalker like flying and shot them down.