Update on the Ukraine & Russia Conflict

By Alex Sabahat

It has been just over a year since Russia has started its invasion into the Donbas region of Ukraine. 

The latest news from March is that an unarmed prisoner of war was executed. The clip was posted by a unit in the Wagner Paramilitary group composed of former Russian prisoners that serve 4 months in the Wagner group and get a pardon, which is where they are considered to have been found not guilty. In this case it would completely wipe their criminal record, for example if one of them lost the right to vote, they would have the right returned to them once service completed. If true, this would be another war crime that the Wagner group has committed. A war crime is when a person in the course of the war does something excessively violent such as the intentional killing of civilians POW’s, or other similar atrocities. The Ukrainian officials started an investigation, in which the POW (prisoner of war) was identified as Tymofiy Shadura. He went missing in early February after clashes in and around Bakhmut, the city that Russia is currently encircling, and where most intense conflicts of the invasion are happening. The Russian founder said that there is no evidence that the footage was not doctored and did not take place in Bakhmut, and there is no evidence that the Wagner group is involved in the alleged war crime.

Russia has started to increase the rate of shelling in Kherson. The residents are being evacuated. Russia has started to increase shelling, which is the firing of missiles or other explosive munitions long distances via mortars or rocket launch systems. This is an effective tactic to suppress the Ukrainian soldiers’ footholds in the location by making sure that they maintain solid cover like bunkers or multi story buildings, and stopping movement through open areas. The Russians have not commented on the strikes yet and says that its forces are fortifying positions on the bank of the Dnipro, a Russian news agency said according to the Wall Street Journal. 

According to the Washington post, Russia is advancing in Bakhmut by sending a significant number of mercenaries into the conflict. Mercenaries are professional soldiers hired to serve in a foreign army. A significant number of the mercenaries are part of the Wagner paramilitary group, which has been accused of many war crimes. The mercenaries are essentially trying to storm the Normandy beaches because as of right now, their tactic has been to use numbers over skill training and firepower. This tactic seems to be having an effect seeing as the Ukrainian soldiers are starting to complain about the conditions. The fight for Bakhmut has had a massive amount of casualties, which include soldiers that are severely injured or killed in action. Many defense experts are saying that the Ukrainian defense of Bakhmut is too costly, not of significant strategic importance to the Russians, and that the fight would be better fought elsewhere. However, Ukrainian officials have stated that they will defend all of their land. Due to lack of artillery munitions, deteriorating communication, and unfavorable terrain, this battle is playing to Russian advantages much more than to Ukraine. The Wagner group’s tactics have been to use the untrained prisoners and send them in waves to tire out Ukrainian troops so that the more experienced troops, that have served in Syria and Africa, can move to secure the territory.  Even so, the Russian advances have been slow and difficult. At the same time, the Russian offensive “just keeps getting stronger” due to the addition of new directions.  This is a result of the Russians starting to encircle troops, and a constant attack, as well as using different tactics from the different directions to confuse the Ukrainian troops. However, the wave after wave of Russians is only tiring to the Ukrainians. The Wagner group’s tactics seem to have no conscience of the lives of their soldiers, who are used as cannon fodder and sent in wave after wave to advance, even if only by a few meters.