Ukraine Daily Summary - Sunday, March 31

Russian air defense struggles to protect key targets -- What we know about hypersonic Zircon missiles – Russia's latest threat -- Russia withdraws 'most valuable' ships from occupied Crimea -- France to send Ukraine air defense missiles, armored vehicles -- and more

Sunday, March 31

Russia’s war against Ukraine

A Ukrainian servicemember drives a British FV103 Spartan armored personnel carrier on a road that leads to the town of Chasiv Yar in Donetsk Oblast on March 30, 2024. Ukrainian forces face a tense situation near Chasiv Yar as Russia focuses its offensive there, a Ukrainian army official said on March 25, 2024. (Roman Pilipey / AFP via Getty Images)

Zelensky shakes up Presidential Office with more dismissals. President Volodymyr Zelensky on March 30 dismissed two more members of the Presidential Office and four advisors, in a continuing reshuffle of his inner circle.

Zelensky says more government reshuffles to come. Ukrainians can expect more government reshuffles in the near future, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his evening address on March 30.

Zelensky: Ukrainian retreat looms without US support, ATACMS are ‘the answer.’ Ukraine’s armed forces could soon be forced to retreat further if U.S. military aid continues to be delayed, President Volodymyr Zelensky has said, as he called on Washington to provide more long-range missiles to strike airfields in occupied Crimea.

Centrenergo: Russia’s March 22 strike destroys biggest power plant in Kharkiv Oblast. Russian troops destroyed the Zmiiv thermal power plant in Kharkiv Oblast during the recent large-scale attack, the state-owned energy company Centrenergo reported on March 29.

80% of DTEK’s energy capacity damaged, destroyed after Russian March attacks. In March, Russian attacks damaged or completely destroyed 80% of the thermal generating capacity of Ukraine’s largest private energy company DTEK, the company’s Executive Director Dmytro Sakharuk said on March 30.

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Governor: Almost 10,000 ‘dragon’s teeth’ anti-tank structures built in Kyiv Oblast. In early March, Zelensky announced that Ukraine was building 2,000 kilometers of fortifications. According to the governor, the construction in Kyiv Oblast includes an extensive system of trenches, dugouts, anti-tank ditches, and other non-explosive barriers.

Navy: Russia withdraws ‘most valuable’ ships from occupied Crimea. Russia has now withdrawn all its major vessels from occupied Crimea except for the rocket carrier Cyclone, which has never launched a missile, a Navy spokesperson said on March 30.

UK Defense Ministry: Russia mobilizing around 30,000 soldiers monthly. “(Russia) can highly likely continue to absorb losses and continue attacks aiming at wearing down Ukrainian forces,” the U.K. Defense Ministry said in its latest report.

ISW: Russian air defense struggles to protect key targets. “Russian forces appear to struggle with properly deploying short-range air defense systems along expected flight vectors for Ukrainian drones, and the Russian military appears to have even failed to cover important potential targets in reportedly well-defended areas within Russia,” the ISW said.

Musk: Russia ‘will certainly gain more land,’ may seize Odesa. “The longer the war goes on, the more territory Russia will gain until they hit the Dnipro, which is tough to overcome. However, if the war lasts long enough, Odesa will fall too,” Elon Musk said on X.

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What we know about hypersonic Zircon missiles – Russia’s latest threat

The Zircon missile is a relatively new entrant into Russia’s arsenal of weapons targeting cities like Kyiv, meaning there’s relatively little information on it so far.

Photo: Russian Defense Ministry

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Human cost of war

1 dead, 3 injured, infrastructure hit in Russian strikes on Kharkiv, Kherson, Poltava oblasts. One person has been killed and three injured over the last 24 hours in Russian attacks in the Kherson and Kharkiv oblasts, Ukrainian authorities said on March 30.

Prosecutor’s Office: Russian attack on Krasnohorivka kills elderly man, woman. A 73-year-old man was killed in one of the houses, and his injured 50-year-old daughter was hospitalized, according to the Prosecutor General’s Office. A 70-year-old woman was killed by shelling in her house on a neighboring street.

General Staff: Russia has lost 441,520 troops in Ukraine since Feb. 24, 2022. This number includes 730 casualties Russian forces suffered over the past day.

International response

France to send Ukraine air defense missiles, armored vehicles. Paris will “unlock a new batch of Aster 30 missiles” for the SAMP/T MAMBA system, the French equivalent of the U.S. Patriot, in response to Ukraine’s air defense shortage.

Czech-led artillery initiative still lacks funds, says Estonian defense minister. The Czech-led initiative to secure critically-needed artillery shells for Ukraine’s armed forces still lacks the funds needed to purchase them, Estonia’s Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur said on March 29.

Media: EU bans Turkish airline due to links with Russia. The EU has banned the Turkish airline Southwind from flying in its airspace due to links with Russia, Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet reported on March 30.

Europe in ‘pre-war’ era, warns Tusk, says ‘literally any scenario is possible.’ Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has warned Europe is in a situation “not seen since 1945.” He said the continent needs to step up defense investment amid the continuing threat from Russia and uncertainty over U.S. support.

In other news

Russia reportedly carries out mass deportations of migrants. Russia is conducting raids on raids on dormitories and apartments known to house Central Asian migrants and is carrying out mass deportations in response to the recent terrorist attack on Moscow, Russian independent media outlet Meduza reported on March 30.

Income declaration suggests Shmyhal’s family earns 8 times his salary. Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal’s income declaration for 2023 revealed his earnings consisted of a Hr 974,845 ($25,000) salary, while his wife and daughter earned Hr 7,866,994 ($200,800), Ukrinform reported on March 30.

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