December 22, 2022

Sitrep for December 21–22 (as of 9:30 a.m.)

On December 21, at the meeting of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Board, plans to reform the Russian Army were announced, considering 10 months of a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The plans are as follows:

  • to raise the number of troops serving in the Russian army by 350 thousand (that is, up to 1.5 million);
  • to re-create the Moscow and the Leningrad military districts previously merged into the Western military district);
  • to form new military units: two new motorized rifle divisions in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions and two additional air assault divisions of the Airborne Forces.

The last idea seems a little odd to us, like a survivor bias. On the one hand, both the paratroopers and the marines proved themselves in combat, as they were excellently trained. On the other hand, these units were used as assault infantry, which does not correspond to their profile and specific skills. So, it would be more logical to pay more attention to the infantry combat training (including assault one).

At the meeting of the Defense Ministry’s Board, Vladimir Putin claimed that at the moment half of all mobilized men (about 150,000) constitute a strategic reserve eligible for rotation during the war.

The Verstka media outlet, together with OVD-Info [independent Russian human rights media project aimed at combating political persecution] has analyzed how Russians have been resisting the war since February and found out that anti-war protests in Russia have broken a ten-year record for arrests. Since February 24:

  • 19,443 opponents of the war have been detained;
  • more than 5 thousand administrative cases have been initiated;
  • 378 people, including 7 minors, have been prosecuted,;
  • 50 people have been sentenced.

According to OVD-Info lawyer Daria Korolenko, there have been only 18 days without arrests since the end of February, that is, “almost every day someone protests against the war.”

The first photo of the French LRU MLRS at the front in Ukraine has appeared. This is the French analogue of the M270 MLRS.

A photo of a Mil Mi-17 helicopter supplied by Slovakia (in Ukrainian livery) was also published.

Additional details of the new American military aid package to Ukraine, which we talked about yesterday, have become known:

  • additional ammunition for HIMARS MLRS;
  • 500 precision-guided 155mm artillery rounds;
  • 120mm, 82mm, and 60mm mortar systems;
  • 10,000 120mm mortar rounds;
  • 37 Cougar MRAP vehicles;
  • 120 HMMWVs;
  • 6 armored utility trucks;
  • AGM-88 HARMs;
  • precision aerial munitions (probably JDAM kits);
  • over 2,700 grenade launchers and small arms;
  • Claymore anti-personnel munitions;
  • demolition munitions and equipment;
  • night vision devices and optics;
  • tactical secure communications systems;
  • body armor and other field equipment;
  • 45,000 152mm artillery rounds;
  • 20,000 122mm artillery rounds;
  • 50,000 122mm GRAD MLRS rockets;
  • 100,000 rounds of 125mm tank ammunition.

The funding for this aid package is divided into two parts: $1 billion comes from the Pentagon budget, and the rest (more than $800 million) is allocated as part of the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative.

In the context of ammunition consumption, Ukrainian representatives stated that they fire about 4,000 artillery rounds of all calibers per day. Thus, if Ukraine fired only 152mm caliber munitions, 45,000 shells from this aid package would be enough for 11 days.

As for HMMWV armored vehicles, we remind you that during the muddy season (which is still not over), driving wheeled vehicles is extremely difficult. Tracked vehicles are much better on such roads, although even they sometimes get stuck.

It is also important to note that the U.S. still has not delivered M198 howitzers (a heavier version of M777 howitzers, which were transferred quite a long time ago). These howitzers are available in large quantities in the U.S. army reserve, while Ukraine still lacks artillery systems.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Ukraine has been allocated one Patriot air defense system, but it will take several more months to train Ukrainian soldiers to use it (we assume that training has already begun) and will take place in Germany and another country.

Germany has begun transferring Leopard 2 tanks to the Czech Republic to replace Soviet armored vehicles transferred to Ukraine.

Norwegian Defense Minister Bjørn Arild Gram said that the country was considering transferring such a number of military vehicles to Ukraine, which would reduce Norway's defense capabilities below the desired level for some time.

France will consider supplying Kyiv with 6 to 12 additional Caesar self-propelled howitzers, which were originally designated for Denmark.

On Dec. 21, Donetsk was visited by Vitaliy Khotsenko, head of the “DPR” government", and Dmitry Rogozin [Russian nationalist politician and former Director General of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos]. 10 minutes after Khotsenko's arrival at Shesh-Besh Hotel’s restaurant, where Rogozin was celebrating his birthday, the hotel was hit. Khotsenko was reportedly wounded and his bodyguard was killed. Rogozin also claims to have been wounded. We have not yet seen any confirmations of the injuries of Rogozin or Khotsenko. Note that officials and propagandists often attribute some injuries to themselves or exaggerate their significance (for example, pro-Russian journalist Semyon Pegov a.k.a. Wargonzo, who had allegedly kicked a petal mine, but got away with a wound keeping both legs).

Many experts have noticed that the Borshchevik [Hogweed] mobile system pinpoints not a Starlink terminal (frequency 10.7-12.7 GHz), but Wi-Fi (2.4 and 5.8 GHz).

Thus, a Starlink terminal with the Wi-Fi module turned off will be invisible to it, which does not fully correspond to the declared function, size and cost of the system. It will be possible to detect household Wi-Fi routers and civilian drone controllers (which operate at the same frequencies), but for such purposes a more compact device can be assembled. There are even mobile phone applications with similar functionality for analyzing Wi-Fi networks nearby.