December 17, 2022

Sitrep for December 16–17 (as of 9:00 a.m.)

The situation on the frontline

Pro-Russian Telegram channels announced the capture of Yakovlivka again, but this time these statements are no longer unfounded. There are geolocated photographs of Wagner Group mercenaries, based on which OSINT analyst Def Mon concluded that either most of Yakovlivka or the entire settlement had been captured.

The RuAF pursue offensive  attempts targeting Avdiivka (just as they have been doing for all these eight years). Now Russian forces are advancing in the area of the settlements of Novobakhmutivka and Oleksandropil north of Avdiivka, but so far without noticeable success.

The air temperature is still hovering around zero, so the muddy season still has a significant impact on the situation on the frontline. However, by the middle of next week, stable frosty weather is promised in some sectors of the front, so an intensification of combat activities might be expected. There is a particular interest in the situation in the area of Kreminna, which Ukrainian forces are trying to surround.

On the Bakhmut axis, we first saw the Ukrainian forces use a Stugna ATGM against infantry; the number of KIAs is still unknown (similar strikes in Syria inflicted heavy damage on the enemy).

On Dec. 16, Russian forces fired 76 missiles [72 cruise missiles: Kh-101, 3M-54 Kalibr, Kh-22, and 4 guided aircraft missiles: Kh-59, Kh-31P] at Ukraine's critical infrastructure from the regions of the Caspian and Black Seas. According to the AFU, the air defense intercepted 60 missiles. It can be concluded that the remaining 16 missiles hit the targets.

Minister of Energy of Ukraine Herman Halushchenko reported that about nine energy infrastructure facilities were damaged in the result of this attack. This led to an increasing lack of energy supply, which actually had been at critical level.

The facilities in the Northern, Southern and Central regions of the country were the most severely damaged. The subway in Kyiv was out of order till the evening of Dec. 16, and the whole city was stuck in large traffic jams.

Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov reported significant destruction of the civilian infrastructure and of damage to energy system facilities . The “Invincibility Points” [heating and electricity centers across all the Ukrainian cities, established by the Government] keep operating, where residents can have some hot tea and charge their phones.

There are casualties in Kryvyi Rih: some people were killed and 13 were injured. Head of the Kryvyi Rih District Military Administration Evhen Sytnychenko reported that some of the strikes had hit energy infrastructure facilities. Emergency rescue workers were clearing the wreckage of the buildings destroyed by missiles.

The Pentagon spokesman John Kirby claimed at a briefing that a new military aid package for Ukraine would include additional air defense systems. Perhaps, these are additional missiles for air defense systems (e.g. NASAMS), however, it could soon turn out to be announced of MIM-104 Patriot SAM systems supplies (we assume that they will be delivered to Ukraine not earlier than the Summer of 2023).

The US Senate passed a bill authorizing a record $855 billion in military spending next year, which is $45 billion higher than President Joe Biden proposed.

It includes increased salaries for the American military, arms purchases, subsidies to Taiwan confronting China and partially to Ukraine fighting against Russia.

It is important to note, that the main package of assistance to Ukraine, including Lend-Lease, is funded separately and not from the military budget of the USA.

Also, on Dec.15, the European Union agreed on the support package for Ukraine of up to €18 billion for 2023.

The Bulgarian parliament has finally adopted the agreement on the delivery of weapons, equipment, and ammunition to Ukraine. Last week, the members of parliament approved the list of weapons that will be supplied, but it is classified. We will learn about what is included in the package from frontline photos.

Mobilization news

The Central Bank of Russia reported in summary materials of the Board of Directors meeting on the key rate that shortage of labor force in many industries is increasing because of the mobilization.

New information about Yevgeniy Nuzhin, the ex-convict Wagner fighter executed presumably by other Wagner mercenaries, has appeared. The Insider media outlet published a story of a Wagner Group mercenary who, according to his words, was a commander in the unit where Nuzhin was listed. Now, he's hiding from the Wagner Group. He told The Insider that he knows about 10 cases of mercenaries executed by their fellow soldiers, and he attended 2 of them personally. According to his words, there is a special unit in the Wagner Group engaged in “zeroing” (killing) refuseniks and deserters. He claims to have videos of other Wagner Group members' executions. At the moment, we have no confirmations of the story and the existence of the videos with other executions.

Strikes on  Donetsk

We compiled a map of impact points in Donetsk on the morning of Dec.15.

There is a special technique which makes it possible to establish the flight direction of a rocket by the spread of its fragments in an impact crater. Based on some of the photos, the direction may be established as northwestern. It’s important to note that Ukrainian forces are also present in that direction.

When an MLRS launcher launches a salvo of unguided rockets, they deviate from the target both laterally and in range. The average deviation values for some types of projectiles are well known.

In the case when the launcher is located relatively close to the target (5-10 km), all the impact points placed on the map will form a dispersion ellipse, stretched along the direction of fire.  If the launcher is farther than 18 km, then the ellipse will be stretched across the direction of fire, that is, the lateral deviation will be greater than in range.  The average value for the projectiles we have considered here is about 17 km when the lateral and range deviations are roughly equal and form a circle on the impact map.

We have a geolocation of impact points, and having combined it with the spread of fragments in the craters, as mentioned above, we established the direction of launch - from the northwest.  The dispersion ellipse is stretched across the direction of fire, so the launcher was located far from the target.

Data on lateral and range deviations for the Grad MLRS reveal that the rockets were launched from a distance at which there are no Russian forces.

While these materials may not be sufficient for the court, from a journalistic perspective, it appears that a Grad MLRS stationed at Ukrainian positions fired at Donetsk.

Of course, this conclusion needs additional verification. We will publish all the materials and invite you to read and verify our findings.

In yesterday's sitrep, we mentioned a comment by anonymous Ukrainian researcher Necro Mancer. He has noted that, as a rule, in the Luhansk region attacks on military facilities usually occur, whereas in Donetsk residential infrastructure is frequently hit. Some of our team members suggest this is because the distance between Ukrainian positions and Donetsk is short, therefore, Grad MLRS with its relatively cheap rockets can be used. Since Luhansk and other major cities in the Luhansk region are far from Ukrainian positions, only expensive weapons can be used, therefore, Ukrainian troops are trying to spend them more judiciously.