The front line
Russian forces are attacking in the Kupiansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Marinka directions. According to a report by the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) General Staff issued on March 31, Ukraine repelled more than 80 enemy attacks over the past 24 hours. The settlements of Bilohorivka, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Marinka remain at the center of the fighting.
The Russian army shelled infrastructure in Kharkiv with S-300 missiles, damaging several residential buildings and an administrative structure, and injuring three people, according to a statement from the Kharkiv Regional Prosecutor's Office. Settlements in Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, Donetsk and Luhansk regions were also shelled, said the AFU General Staff’s daily report. Ukraine was also attacked by 10 Shahed-136/131 kamikaze drones, nine of which were successfully shot down, according to the Ukrainian Air Force.
On the morning of March 31, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry's Situation Centre reported that nine regions of Ukraine had been shelled over the past 24 hours, killing two people and wounding 20. Seventy infrastructure facilities were damaged as a result of the strikes. In the afternoon, the head of Ukraine's Presidential Office, Andriy Yermak, said that Russian forces fired missiles at the town of Orikhiv in the Zaporizhzhia region, and shelled Zaporizhzhia’s Komunarskyi District. A total of four people were wounded.
In the evening, reports confirmed that a five-month-old child and his grandmother were killed as a result of the shelling in Avdiivka. Pavlo Kyrylenko, the head of the Donetsk Regional Military Administration, said that the child's mother and father were wounded.
According to the AFU General Staff, Russia lost 460 troops killed in action over the past 24 hours, as well as five tanks, three armoured fighting vehicles, four artillery systems, three light vehicles and three units of special equipment.
The UK defense intelligence update devoted its daily summary to counter-battery radar systems. On March 23, Ukraine published footage of the destruction of the Russian Zoopark-1M near Donetsk.
The report noted that both sides have few such systems, but they are a “significant force multiplier,” as radars allow both Russian and Ukrainian commanders to quickly locate and destroy enemy artillery. However, due to their active electromagnetic signature, they are also relatively easy to locate and destroy.
“Regenerating counter-battery radar fleets is likely a key priority for both sides, but Russia will likely struggle because the systems rely on high-tech electronics which have been disrupted by sanctions,” the update concluded.
Ukraine has begun using US-made guided JDAM bombs, said AFU Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat. “These are Western-style bombs, which our aviation quite successfully [uses] in striking important targets,” he explained. In December last year, The Washington Post reported that Ukraine would receive JDAMs – GPS guided bombs capable of hitting targets up to 72 kilometers (45 miles) away – produced by Boeing.
The US intends to double the monthly production of 155 mm artillery shells to 24,000 by the end of the year, according to US Army Undersecretary Gabe Camarillo.
Production of Javelin missiles will more than double to 330 a month, and production of launchers will double to 41 a month, Camarillo said. According to the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the US has sent a total of over one million 155 mm shells to Ukraine so far.
The Wagner PMC-affiliated Telegram channel Grey Zone reported that Ukraine’s use of the AGM-114 Hellfire missile was confirmed for the first time. The missile, supplied from Norway, was launched from a ground portable launcher near Ochakiv in the Mykolayiv region, targeting the Kinburn Spit, which is currently under the control of Russian forces.
Pentagon reports on training of Ukrainian soldiers
The Pentagon reported that US instructors have trained more than 7,000 Ukrainian soldiers since the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. In particular, 65 Ukrainians returned from the US this week, having been trained to operate the Patriot air defense system. 4,000 Ukrainian servicemen are currently completing a combined arms training course in Germany.
Lukashenko: Nuclear warhead sites to be restored in Belarus
Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko said he had ordered the immediate restoration of the country's nuclear warhead storage facilities, where the weapons had been kept until the mid-1990s. He added that Belarus has all the infrastructure for tactical nuclear weapons ready, and emphasized that the country planned to reach an agreement with Russia on the deployment of strategic nuclear weapons on its territory. Earlier in March, Vladimir Putin announced the construction of storage facilities for tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus. According to Putin, the missiles will be stationed in the neighboring country, while control over them will be maintained by Moscow.
Pavel Podvig, a nuclear security expert at the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, told The Insider that Lukashenko's statements should be taken with a grain of salt:
“At one time there were many storage facilities with nuclear warheads on the territory of Belarus, but over the past 30 years they’ve fallen into such a condition that they need to be restored. It’s not certain that it will be easier and quicker to restore these facilities than to build new ones. Equipment, security systems, and everything else needs to be put in there anyway. Theoretically, it’s possible, but I would be skeptical.
If we talk about strategic nuclear weapons, I don't see any scenarios in which Russia would take such a step as to deploy them in Belarus. There’s no sense in that – neither political, nor technical. But even if we set aside all questions of political logic, in order to return or deploy nuclear missiles in Belarus, it would be necessary to build a mobile missile base. This is a serious structure, they take quite a long time to build. Besides, nobody needs it. I don’t see scenarios in which someone in Russia would approve such a step.”
Anniversary of the liberation of Bucha
On the anniversary of the liberation of the town of Bucha in the Kyiv region, which had been under Russian occupation from 27 February to 31 March 2022, Ukraine’s Prosecutor-General released data on crimes committed by Russian forces during the period. According to the data, the Russian military committed more than 9,000 war crimes in Bucha. More than 1,400 civilians were killed, many of whom were tortured. 37 children were among those killed.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Bucha together with the leaders of Slovakia, Croatia, Slovenia and Moldova, and presented the city municipality of Bucha, represented by mayor Anatoliy Fedoruk, with a “Hero City” badge of honor.
Russian officer arrested for failure to prevent attack on Belgorod region
According to a report from Kommersant, Russia has opened its first criminal case over the “violation of rules of combat duty for the timely detection and repulsion of a surprise attack on the country's territory.”
The newspaper's sources said a military officer has been accused of failing to prevent a missile attack by the AFU in Russia’s Belgorod region in the spring of 2022. Seven Russian servicemen were killed, 43 people were wounded and concussed, and equipment worth a total of 89 million roubles ($1.15 million) was destroyed as a result of the strike. The officer has been taken into custody.
For a summary of the main events on the front line in Ukraine on March 30, click here.