Sitrep for December 1–2 (as of 4:00 pm)
We would like to express our gratitude to Germany, which has decided not to dispose of the decommissioned Gepard SPAAGs. These units will be repaired and handed over to Ukraine in 2023.
The situation on the frontline
Analyst Def Mon, commenting on the situation on the Svatove axis, said that, in his opinion, the remnants of the 1st Tank Army were engaged in the fighting. There might be the latest tanks like T-90M in service with the Army.
Firstly, it is not clear which unit of the 1st Tank Army he meant. Perhaps he was talking about the 27th Motorized Rifle Brigade, which is part of the Army (the media have recently reported about the combat activities of this brigade).
Secondly, the presence of only one RuAF formation at the front can be identified by a particular tank model. If a T-80U tank has been witnessed somewhere, it definitely belongs to the 4th Kantemirovskaya Division. For all the other tanks, it is impossible to make unambiguous conclusions about their belonging to one unit or another without looking at a tactical marking.
Thus, T-90M tanks can be in service with the units of both the 1st Tank Army and the 3rd Army Corps, and even in service with mobilized soldiers.
Def Mon believes that Russian troops are making great efforts to keep Kupiansk and its suburbs under fire control in order to prevent the Ukrainian Armed Forces from crossing the Oskil River (one of the crossings is located in Kupiansk) and moving further east.
We are not ready to agree with his conclusions, since such actions by Russian forces cannot prevent the AFU from crossing just south of Kupiansk (out of range of Russian tube artillery) or building a pontoon crossing.
Def Mon also claims that the Siversk direction is critical for Russian troops. In his opinion, if Ukrainian forces liberate Kreminna, it will endanger the supply route from Luhansk to Svatove. This assessment, in our opinion, is also questionable. It is unclear whether supplies for Svatove are shipped from Luhansk, and we believe that the supply route from Valuyki, Belgorod region, is easier to maintain.
Moreover, there are numerous reports about draftees who were sent to the Belgorod region and later found themselves on the front line near Svatove without passing through Luhansk.
On December 1, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced that Kurdiumivka had been completely captured. On the contrary, Ukraine's General Staff reported that the assault on Kurdiumivka had been repulsed.
Later, images appeared showing the Wagner Group mercenaries near a road sign saying "4km to Kurdiumivka" as well as on the village's outskirts (the latter image was geolocated).
Although the AFU's withdrawal from Kurdiumivka makes sense (to exclude the higher risk to service members), there is no conclusive evidence that Russian troops have occupied the entire settlement.
There is a noticeable change in the rhetoric of the Russian authorities concerning the end of mobilization. Initially, the Ministry of Defense's hotline stated that it was the mobilization draft that had ended and not the mobilization itself.
Later, the Voyenny Ombudsmen [Military Ombudsman] Telegram channel published a response from the Organizational and Staff Department of the of Rosgvardia [the National Guard of Russia], which stated that the end of mobilization draft does not mean the end of the mobilization itself. Thus, it is now officially confirmed that the "partial" mobilization continues.
iStories [an independent Russian investigative media outlet] reported that the mobilized soldiers from Serpukhov, Moscow region, who had been abandoned by their command near Luhansk, were sent back to the front. Earlier, they had recorded a video message in which they had threatened the command with a shootout. Then, apparently, the injured soldiers were sent to Moscow, while the rest were returned to the front line, according to the wife of one of the soldiers who recorded the video.
On the night of December 1, Russian forces hit the Dnipropetrovsk region. According to preliminary information, no one was injured, but private houses, gas pipelines, and power lines were damaged.
Details of the strike on Donetsk on December 1 were revealed. Five civilians were injured as a result of it.
We have studied photos showing fragment dispersion and, using the methodology developed by the US Marine Corps, we have identified that the shells came from the north and/or northwest of Donetsk.
This indirectly confirms the statement of pro-Russian resources that the shelling was carried out from the side of Lastochkyne, which is controlled by the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
It should be noted that although back in mid-February, the Russian side reported of Donetsk residents being put on buses and taken to tent camps in Russia, a full-scale evacuation was not carried out during these nine months, despite regular strikes.
CNN quoted sources reporting that the White House plans to expand a training program for Ukrainian servicemen at a U.S. base in Germany. If the decision is approved, 2,500 Ukrainian soldiers will be trained each month. In particular, they will be trained in more complex tactical combat techniques, including coordination of infantry and artillery maneuvers.
The Pentagon announced a $1.2 billion contract until 2025 to supply NASAMS systems to Ukraine.
At the same time, the U.S. is going to convince its allies in the Middle East to transfer their existing NASAMS systems to Ukraine within three to six months (and receive new ones in return within two years).
Lithuania will transfer 25 thousand sets of winter clothing for the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the amount of €2 million.
The Italian Cabinet of Ministers adopted a decree prolonging weapons supplies to Ukraine for the entire 2023.
Details of the new German military aid package for Ukraine have been published:
- 7 Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft guns;
- 100,000 first aid kits;
- 3 Biber armored bridge-laying vehicles;
- 8 surface naval drones;
- 12 border guard vehicles;
- 4,000 sleeping bags;
- 30 ambulances;
- spare parts for Mi-24 helicopters.
A Russian commander of the sound-metric reconnaissance squad of an artillery reconnaissance battery, Serhey Yurievich Obukhov, received a memorial plaque in his native village. He was awarded the Order of Courage posthumously. He is the serviceman who was killed in a firefight with FSB officers in Kherson.
Ukrainian servicemen are now allowed to go on leave for the period of up to 10 days even during the state of war. This is important because in order to maintain their combat effectiveness, soldiers need to take periodic breaks and rotate into and out of the front lines. Russian soldiers are not granted such privileges because the Russian generals clearly realize that should they allow their soldiers to go home to rest, the soldiers will not be returning to the front.
Pro-Russian war correspondent Rudenko told a story of the “photo-op corps” specializing in staging good news to report back to the generals. Recently, they brought a portable sauna to the front. Once they took the pictures, they redeployed the sauna to another location and turned the lights on inside. Ukrainian forces noticed the light and destroyed the sauna with an artillery strike.
The week’s summary
Despite the start of the first winter month, the muddy road conditions are still affecting the combat operations; therefore, there hasn’t been significant movement at the front lines.
After observing redeployments of Russian strategic bombers and the flights by the MiG-31 fighter jets that have the ability to carry the Kinzhal [Dagger] air-to-surface missiles, many analysts expected massive missile strikes on Ukrainian territories which, fortunately, didn’t happen.
No new attacks by Shahed-136 loitering munitions were observed; probably, the last batch of these Irianian-made drones has been depleted.
It is not yet clear where the Ukrainian forces freed up after the Russians retreated from Kherson were redeployed.