Russia-Ukraine War Newsletter – MARCH 20-26, 2023

Situation as of 8:00 a.m. on March 27, 2023

  • Russian troops continue to try to surround Bakhmut and Avdiivka, but have no real success. The Ukrainian Armed Forces hold the front line and inflict significant losses on the enemy.
  • The Russian command has revised its strategy of air strikes on the territory of Ukraine, focusing on smaller but more frequent attacks on logistics and military infrastructure instead of large-scale attacks on energy facilities.
  • The Ukrainian parliament increased defense spending in the state budget by about $14.5 billion. State spending on security and defense in 2023 will amount to more than $43 billion.
  • Vladimir Putin announced that Russia would deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus and compared it to the U.S. deployment of its weapons in Europe. Moscow has no plans to transfer control of its arms to Minsk.


Russian troops continue their offensive in the eastern direction. Bakhmut remains the most fiercely embattled area on the frontline. At the same time, Russian troops, exhausted by prolonged fighting, are losing their offensive impulse in this area of the front. Russia is stepping up its attacks in the Avdiivka area.

The Ukrainian military is preparing for a counteroffensive. President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyi noted that they still lack the weapons and ammunition to launch it.

At the same time, the Ukrainian Armed Forces are striking at Russian military and logistics infrastructure in an attempt to disrupt the supply of Russian units. Last week, several strikes were recorded on the territory of the temporarily occupied Crimea. On the night of March 21, a kamikaze drone attack was carried out on Dzhankoi, an important railroad junction through which military equipment is supplied to Russian troops stationed in southern Ukraine. On the night of December 22, Sevastopol harbor was attacked with the use of maritime UAVs. An explosion was also recorded in the city on March 24.

In the face of the failure of the campaign to disable the Ukrainian energy system, the Russian command has changed the tactics of attacks on the territory of Ukraine. Their priority target now is the logistics system of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Instead of large-scale attacks, Russian troops are resorting to localized operations, which are carried out with higher intensity. In the north, they are using glide bombs, their own analog of the American JDAM-ER munitions, to strike Sumy region. In the south, tactical aircraft are used to launch missiles at Odesa. In the evening of March 21, a rocket attack on the city damaged a UOC-MP monastery; 4 people were injured. A second attack was carried out in the evening of March 23, but both missiles were shot down by air defense forces.

On the night of March 22, Russian troops attacked Ukrainian territory using kamikaze drones. Ukrainian air defense shot down 16 of the 21 drones involved in the attack. The attack damaged a dormitory in the Kyiv region; 7 people were killed and 9 others were injured. An infrastructure facility in the Zhytomyr region was also damaged. On the night of March 24, Kryvyi Rih in the Dnipropetrovsk region was the target of another kamikaze drone attack.

The shelling of Zaporizhzhia region and Zaporizhzhia itself continues. On March 22, 1 person was killed and 33 others (including 3 children) were injured as a result of an MLRS strike on the city.

In other areas, shelling of civilian infrastructure persists, which also results in civilian casualties. In particular, over the past week, civilian casualties in Donetsk region amounted to 17 people killed and 22 people wounded; and in Kherson region to 5 people killed and 26 people wounded. On March 24, 1 person died as a result of shelling in the border areas of Chernihiv region. At least 1 civilian was wounded in the Nikopol area of Dnipropetrovsk region. The shelling of Kharkiv region is ongoing.

The threat of mines is still present. On March 26, 4 civilians were injured in Kherson region as a result of a mine explosion; in Kharkiv region, 1 person was killed and 1 civilian was injured as a result of a mine explosion during the week.


On March 24, the head of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, Matilda Bogner, presented a report on the human rights situation in Ukraine for the period August 2022-January 2023. As part of this, a thematic report was presented on the treatment of Ukrainian and Russian prisoners of war, where responsibility for violations in this area was assigned to “both sides of the conflict.” In particular, interviews with military personnel from both sides resulted in the recording of executions of prisoners of war, which occurred mostly at the first stages of detention and interrogation. At the same time, the Ukrainian side provided the UN with unimpeded access to official internment sites for Russian prisoners of war, while the Russian Federation continues to deny such access. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry stated that it finds it unacceptable to place responsibility on the victim of aggression.

The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted amendments to the state budget, which increased defense spending by UAH 537 billion ($14.5 billion). The main expenditures will be spent on salaries, food for the military, and the production and purchase of UAVs.

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi says that the creation of a demilitarized zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is no longer being considered due to the difficulties of verifying this process.

On March 23, an agreement was signed in The Hague to open a representative office of the International Criminal Court in Ukraine. This step provides for the launch of investigations into war crimes, crimes against humanity, and acts of genocide on the territory of Ukraine due to the Russian invasion.


International partners continue to strengthen Ukraine’s defense capabilities by providing new military assistance packages. The United States announced a new security and defense assistance package for Ukraine worth $350 million, which includes missiles for HIMARS, 155-mm shells, mortars, HARM anti-radar missiles, AT-4 anti-tank weapons systems, demining equipment, patrol boats, and other weapons. In addition, on March 20, the EU Foreign and Defense Ministers agreed on a plan for the joint purchase of ammunition, which provides for the supply of 1 million shells to Ukraine.

Finland approved the 14th package of defense support for Ukraine worth €161 million, including three Leopard 2R demining tanks and other heavy weapons and ammunition. The Swedish parliament decided to provide Ukraine with military aid worth a maximum of SEK 6.2 billion (about $550 million), which includes tanks, artillery systems such as Archer and Robot 97, and ammunition. The United Kingdom will provide Ukraine with armor-piercing depleted uranium shells, which are highly effective in destroying tanks and armored vehicles. Germany, in turn, will provide Ukraine with DACHS armored personnel carriers, MG3 machine guns for tanks, spare parts for Leopard 2 tanks, Marder infantry fighting vehicles, and drone detection systems.

March 23 The EU summit takes place in Brussels, where EU leaders adopt a resolution and support the initiative to establish a new International Center for the Investigation of Crimes of Russian Aggression against Ukraine in The Hague, and express support for Ukraine’s Peace Formula.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyi met with Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida, who was visiting Kyiv, and the leaders signed a Joint Statement on a Special Global Partnership between Ukraine and Japan. The Head of State also held talks with the World Bank delegation headed by Vice President for Europe and Central Asia Anna Bjerde.

During the week, the President of Ukraine held phone conversations with President of Chile Gabriel Boric, Prime Minister of Ireland Leo Varadkar, Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte and Federal Chancellor of Austria Karl Nehammer.

The information in the newsletter is collected from official sources—reports of state authorities of Ukraine, Ukrainian and international news agencies. The accuracy of the data is carefully checked by the project team and corrected in case of fake news.