On the morning of March 15, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that Russian forces had established full control of the region of Kherson in the south of Ukraine. The Russians took control of the key regional cities of Kherson and Melitopol in the first stage of the advance. Nonetheless, security operations in the region took additional time. Now, it seems that they are nearing its end and the main focus of the advancing Russian force will finally be shifted towards the city of Mykolaiv, the provincial capital of the Mykolaiv Region. Currently, the city is blocked from the southern and eastern directions and partially blocked from the northeast. No active offensive operations have been reported there recently. Russian forces are mostly focused on consolidating their previous gains in the area and conducting pinpoint strikes on military infrastructure targets around Mykolaiv.
At the same time, intense clashes are taking place in eastern regions of Ukraine and around Kyiv. In the outskirts of Kyiv, Russian forces work to reinforce their positions and eliminate units of the Ukrainian Armed Forces operating there in order to create conditions for the full blockading of the city.
In the Donbass region, the joint forces of the DPR, LPR and Russia are slowly but steadily eliminating the grouping of Kyiv’s forces that was involved in the siege of Donbass in the previous year.
Intense fighting is ongoing in the city of Mariupol. On March 14, the Russian military reported that the main positions of Ukrainian nationalists in residential areas around the city were eliminated. This allowed to secure humanitarian corridors for civilians and to begin the mass evacuation of the population that had been held hostage by Ukrainian radicals. As of March 15, Russian and DPR units already operate inside Mariupol advancing towards the city center. The main successes were achieved in the western part of the city.
The strategic situation in the Donbass remains the same. The joint forces of Russia, DPR and LPR keep the initiative but they have still not solved the task of encircling and defeating the main UAF grouping in the region. On March 14, advances were reported in the south, where the joint forces reached the villages of Vodyanoe, Sladkoe, Stepnoe, Taramchuk and Slavnoe. On March 15, they took control of the settlement of Panteleymonovka and reached the Verkhnetoretskoye-Novoselovka-2 line. The Russian troops are heading towards the town of Kurakhovo, where fierce clashes may break out soon, as the town is a large fortified node in the near rear of the Ukrainian group of forces near Donetsk. Simultaneously, an operation is ongoing to fully encircle Kyiv’s forces in the Severodonetsk-Lysichansk area. Intense fighting is ongoing in Popasnaya.
The March 14 civilian massacre when a Ukrainian Tochka-U missile equipped with cluster munitions was intentionally launched at the Donetsk city center killing at least 20 and injuring 26 other civilians, including children, once again confirmed that it is a must to push the forces of the Kyiv government away from residential areas. In response to this terrorist attack, DPR artillery units and the Russian Aerospace Forces severely pounded targets in the village of Avdeevka, a well-known stronghold of pro-Kyiv forces. This foretells the nature the upcoming offensive to eliminate the threat to civilians from this direction.
Some tactical successes of Russian forces were reported in the area of Izyum. Fighting continues for the control over the southern outskirts and the crossing of the Seversky Donets river. Russian assault units reportedly reached the area north of Barvenkovo.
On top of this, in response to the continued intentional strikes on civilian targets by Kyiv’s forces, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that from now on it will actively target objects of the Ukrainian military industrial complex and warned civilians to stay away from them. The first round of such strikes took place on the evening of March 14 and early on March 15.
Summing up the developments of the last few days, Russian, DPR and LPR forces have achieved more local tactical successes in the region of Donbass, in the south of Ukraine and around Kyiv. Nonetheless, the total number of Russian armed forces in Ukraine is objectively insufficient for fast and decisive flank coverage and encirclement of thousands of Ukrainian troops in fortified positions. Therefore, the Russian military changed its initial tactics of a “cavalry charge” to the systematic destruction of enemy forces and means by using its advantages in aviation and artillery.