December 20, 2022

Sitrep for December 17–19 (as of 4:30 p.m.)

The situation on the frontline

In recent days, both sides have made small advances along the frontline.

On the Svatove axis, the AFU repelled a Russian attack on Stelmakhivka (to the west of Svatove). Russian forces are now trying to push the AFU back from the R-66 motorway, which runs near Svatove, in order to prevent the encirclement of the town.

Ukrainian forces have approached quite close to Kreminna and managed to advance towards Chervonopopivka and Zhytlivka, while Russian forces are trying to counterattack in this area. The Armed Forces of Ukraine also continue combat activities near the village of Dibrova. Apparently, both sides are waiting for more suitable weather to start active hostilities on this axis. Let us recall that the goal of the Ukrainian side is to liberate Zhytlivka further cutting off the supply routes and liberate Kreminna.

On the Siversk axis, Russian forces attacked in the area of Verkhnokamianske again. Besides, according to the General Staff of the AFU, the villages of Vesele and Vyimka located west of Bilohorivka (Donetsk region) are under attack. Based on this, we can conclude that Bilohorivka is disputed at the moment.

And Bilohorivka (Luhansk region) located a little to the north is also disputed (in other words, it is located in the "gray" zone). However, the fighting for it is more active.

The Russian Ministry of Defense once again announced the complete capture of the Yakovlivka settlement on the Donetsk axis. However, on Dec. 7, the People’s Militia of the so-called DPR reported that Yakovlivka had been completely mopped up and was under the control of the “DPR”.

Strikes on the territory of Ukraine

Around 6 a.m. on Dec. 19, kamikaze drones attacked the Shevchenkivskyi and Solomianskyi districts of Kyiv. Mayor of the city Vitali Klytschko reported that at least 20 drones were noticed in the airspace, and about 15 of them were shot down. Critical infrastructure facilities and houses were damaged. Two people were injured.

On Dec. 17, as a result of strikes on Kherson, three people were killed, and six more were injured.

On Dec. 19, the Regional State Administration building in the center of Kherson was hit.

There are details of the attack on Kryvyi Rih on Dec. 16. A missile hit a residential building, and a riser of flats collapsed as a result. Five bodies of killed people were found when clearing the rubble.

The border districts of the Belgorod region were hit on Dec. 18; one person was killed, and 8 more were injured. Lots of residents of the city received SMS messages about the attack, but they found shelters locked when they went down to their basements.

Mikhail Fotin, draft officer of Dmitrov, Taldom and Dubna (Moscow region), announced an allegedly planned increase in the term of military service. The video footage of the broadcast was later deleted.

Pavel Chikov, lawyer and human rights activists, believes that these are planted rumors in order to encourage conscripts to come to draft offices now. There are 12 days left until the end of the autumn conscription, but the recruitment plan is not being fulfilled (we see that raids started in some cities, fictitious fines are being sent, to pay which people are supposed to go to local draft offices, etc.).

President Vladimir Putin visited the joint staff of all military branches involved in Russia's “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Comparing footage of the report with other videos, we found out that Putin’s meeting with the military commanders took place in one of the headquarters of the Southern Military District in the city of Rostov-on-Don.

Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed that Sergei Shoigu [Russia’s Minister of Defense] visited the frontline and inspected the troops.

The New York Times published a large investigation into the reasons for Russia's failures in this war. For us, the documents related to the first days of the war were most remarkable. According to the plans, it was assumed that the Russian Armed Forces would be 100 km south of Kyiv, near the town of Kaniv, on the second day of the offensive. In addition, we would like to separately mention the "Leeroy Jenkins" unit – a strange attempt by the Russian OMON [riot police] to enter Kyiv in paddy wagons. At the time, we thought that the riot police went first by mistake, but according to the document and the schedule, which became available later, they followed the plan and were the first to enter the city at 3 p.m. That column was burned on the bridge over the Irpin River.

It is also said in the article that the Ukrainian military was really preparing a strike on the command post, which was supposed to be visited by Chief of the General Staff of the RuAF Valery Gerasimov. The American intelligence services knew about his visit to the frontline and did not inform the Ukrainian side about it, as they feared an escalation. But Ukrainian intelligence learned about this from other sources. The AFU prepared and launched the attack before the American intelligence agencies tried to stop them. We will get back to this article later.

Ben Hodges, a retired US Lieutenant General, is skeptical that Russian troops would mount a second offensive on Kiev any time soon, since the recent Russian mobilization failed miserably.

A newly released video of fighting near Bakhmut shows Ukrainian forces using weapons that had almost never been used in this war. Experts of the Ukraine Weapons Tracker project claim that М971 120mm mortar cluster munitions were used, each of which contains 24 anti-tank and armor-piercing submunitions. As the strike was carried out on a military facility in an open field, and not in a residential area, there were no violations related to indiscriminate weapons' use.

Attack on Donetsk on the morning of Dec. 15

There is a video posted in which it appears that outgoing shots are heard, followed by explosions. These are, however, echoes, not outgoing shots. When sounds are paced so quickly, the distance between starting and ending points of a munition is very short, and in urban areas it is difficult to shoot at point-blank range while remaining unnoticed (this happened during the battle for the Azovstal, but then a shooting MLRS was in closer proximity to the target than prescribed by the manual).