Ukraine Conflict Updates Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, March 18, 2023 Click here to read the full report. Key Takeaways Russian forces targeted Ukraine with 16 Shahed-136 drones overnight on March 17-18. Russian President Vladimir Putin continued his crackdown against anti-war dissent and misappropriation of military assets within Russia. Wagner financier Yevgeny Prigozhin is likely attempting to set informational conditions for the Wagner Group’s culmination around Bakhmut. Russian regional authorities may be severing their connections with Prigozhin. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova reiterated that the Kremlin has not abandoned its maximalist goals in Ukraine. BBC and Russian opposition news outlet Mediazona estimated that Russian forces have suffered at least 35,000 total deaths and 157,000 total casualties. Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line. Russian forces continued offensive operations in and around Bakhmut and on the outskirts of Donetsk City. Russian forces continue to erect defensive fortifications along ground lines of communication (GLOCs) in and near occupied Crimea. Conventional Russian authorities and the Wagner Group continue to invest significant resources in efforts to involve youth in the war effort and ready them mentally and physically for military service. Russian occupation authorities continue efforts russify Ukrainians in occupied territories. . . . . Russian officials continue to respond inconsistently to complaint videos from units of mobilized soldiers. Russian news source Ostorozhno Novosti reported on March 17 that Russian authorities punished a platoon of mobilized soldiers from Kaliningrad within Russia’s 1004th regiment—which gained notoriety when a video of its soldiers arguing with their commander about their subordination to the Donetsk People’s Republic’s (DNR) forces went viral—by disbanding the platoon. A local Tyumen Oblast news source reported on March 17 that Tyumen Oblast authorities responded to a video complaint from the “Wolverine” battalion of mobilized soldiers from Tymen Oblast by deflecting responsibility for the soldiers’ concerns onto the Russian MoD. A prominent Russian news aggregator claimed on March 18 that Irkutsk Oblast Governor Igor Kobzev personally met with soldiers of the 1439th regiment—mobilized soldiers from Irkutsk Oblast who have recorded several video complaints, on which ISW has previously reported—to prove that the unit has not been destroyed, despite such rumors. Kobzev reportedly stated that he would ensure that unspecified authorities would assign representatives to address the soldiers’ concerns. . . . . Russian occupation authorities continue to confiscate grain from occupied Ukrainian territories. Ukrainian Mariupol, Donetsk Oblast Mayoral Advisor Petro Andryushchenko stated on March 18 that Russian civilians and Russian trucks carrying Ukrainian wheat are leaving for Russia from occupied territories. Andryushchenko also posted a video showing an alleged 20 tons of Ukrainian wheat dumped on the road from Mariupol to Sopyne (less than 15km east of Mariupol). The reason for the waste of this wheat is unclear. . . .