Russian forces did not make any confirmed advances within Bakhmut on March 11. Ukrainian and Russian sources continue to report heavy fighting in the city, but Wagner Group fighters are likely becoming increasingly pinned in urban areas, such as the AZOM industrial complex, and are therefore finding it difficult to make significant advances. ISW will continue to monitor and report on the situation in Bakhmut as it unfolds.
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova confirmed that there is infighting in the Kremlin inner circle, that the Kremlin has ceded centralized control over the Russian information space, and that Russian President Vladimir Putin apparently cannot readily fix it. Kremlin journalists, academics, and Novorossiya supporters held a forum on the “practical and technological aspects of information and cognitive warfare in modern realities” in Moscow on March 11. During a panel discussion Zakharova stated that the Kremlin cannot replicate the Stalinist approach of establishing a modern equivalent to the Soviet Information Bureau to centrally control Russia’s internal information space due to fighting among unspecified Kremlin “elites.”
Zakharova’s statement is noteworthy and supports several of ISW’s longstanding assessments about deteriorating Kremlin regime and information space control dynamics. The statement supports several assessments that there is Kremlin infighting between key members of Putin’s inner circle; that Putin has largely ceded the Russian information space over time to a variety of quasi-independent actors; and that Putin is apparently unable to take decisive action to regain control over the Russian information space. It is unclear why Zakharova — a seasoned senior spokesperson — would have openly acknowledged these problems in a public setting. Zakharova may have directly discussed these problems for the first time to temper Russian nationalist milbloggers’ expectations regarding the current capabilities of the Kremlin to cohere around a unified narrative — or possibly even a unified policy.
- Russian forces did not make any confirmed advances within Bakhmut on March 11.
- Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova confirmed that there is infighting in the Kremlin inner circle, that the Kremlin has ceded centralized control over the Russian information space, and implicitly that Russian President Vladimir Putin cannot fix it.
- Wagner financier Yevgeny Prigozhin said that he would transform the Wagner Group into a hardline ideological elite parallel military organization after the Battle of Bakhmut.
- Ukrainian sources report that Ukrainian forces advanced toward Svatove.
- Russian forces continue to establish fortifications in Zaporizhia Oblast.
- Russian mobilized soldiers continue to publicize complaints that commanders treat them poorly and used them as expendable manpower to patch holes in existent formations.
- Russian occupation officials use children’s healthcare to generate dependency on the Russian healthcare system.