March 9, 2024

Institute for the Study of War:  Ukraine mounts drone target defense plant in Russian district of Rostov

Institute for the Study of War

Ukrainian forces reportedly conducted drone strikes targeting Rostov Oblast overnight on March 8-9 and may have struck a Russian aircraft plant refurbishing and modernizing Russian A-50 long range radar detection aircraft. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that Russian forces intercepted 41 Ukrainian drones overnight over Rostov Oblast, and eyewitnesses reportedly stated that the strike caused at least five explosions. Geolocated footage of a strike shows an explosion at the Beriev Aircraft Plant in Taganrog, Rostov Oblast. The Beriev Aircraft Plant in Taganrog is reportedly refurbishing and modernizing Russian A-50 aircraft for use in Ukraine, and Russian sources claimed that the plant was repairing an A-50 damaged in a previous drone strike (possibly referring to the attack on a Russian A-50 at the Machulishchi Air Base in Minsk, Belarus, in February 2023). Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty published satellite imagery dated February 29 indicating that the geolocated explosion occurred roughly 900 meters from a Russian A-50 aircraft that previously had been present at the Beriev Aircraft Plant, although it is unclear whether the A-50 was in the same location at the time of the strike. Senior Ukrainian officials have not commented on the strike at the time of this publication. ISW is unable to confirm that the reported strike damaged any Russian A-50 aircraft, facilities repairing or refurbishing aircraft, or other Russian military infrastructure in the area.

Russian sources widely circulated footage of a Russian strike on March 9 to claim that Russian forces destroyed a Patriot air defense system in eastern Ukraine, although there has yet to be any confirmation of these claims. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) published footage on March 9 purportedly of Russian forces striking a Ukrainian S-300 air defense missile launcher with Iskander missiles near Pokrovsk, Donetsk Oblast. Russian sources amplified additional footage of the strike’s aftermath purportedly showing destroyed German MAN KAT1 trucks, which can be used as a base for Patriot air defense missile launchers. Russian sources used this footage to claim that Russian forces destroyed a MIM-104 Patriot air defense system, although the Russian MoD has yet to revise its earlier claim about destroying a Ukrainian S-300 system. Russian state media outlet RIA Novosti reported that a source in Russian law enforcement stated that the Russian Iskander strike destroyed two Patriot air defense systems. Several OSINT social media accounts concluded that the strike likely destroyed a Ukrainian Patriot air defense system, although another OSINT account noted that Ukrainian forces also use the MAN KAT1 trucks as logistics vehicles. ISW has not yet observed evidence confirming that Russian forces destroyed a Patriot air defense system.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ukrainian forces reportedly conducted drone strikes targeting Rostov Oblast overnight on March 8-9 and may have struck a Russian aircraft plant refurbishing and modernizing Russian A-50 long range radar detection aircraft.
  • Russian sources widely circulated footage of a Russian strike on March 9 to claim that Russian forces destroyed a Patriot air defense system in eastern Ukraine, although there has yet to be any confirmation of these claims.
  • US officials reportedly told CNN that Russia considered using “tactical or battlefield” nuclear weapons in Ukraine in 2022 – during the same time Russia conducted an intense information operation aimed at the West about Russia potentially using a nuclear weapon against Ukraine to deter Western support for Ukraine.
  • Senior Armenian officials stated that Armenia is considering seeking membership in the European Union (EU), against the backdrop of deteriorating Russian-Armenian relations.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that Ukraine would be open to negotiations with Russia only after Ukraine and its partners develop a peace plan and as Turkey continues to promote its own negotiation platform for the war in Ukraine.
  • Russian forces recently made confirmed advances near Kreminna and Avdiivka amid continued positional fighting along the entire frontline on March 9.
  • Open-source researchers analyzed satellite imagery and assessed that Russia has reportedly removed 25 to 40 percent of its tank strategic reserves, depending on the model, from open-air storage facilities, although ISW cannot independently verify this report.

For full report:      https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-9-2024 

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