Sitrep for December 7–8 (as of 3:00 pm)
The situation on the frontline
There are reports that the Wagner Group mercenaries entered the village of Yakovlivka north of Soledar. The only visual evidence for now is a single photograph of Wagner mercenaries somewhere on the outskirts of Yakovlivka.
The pro-Russian Telegram channel Romanov Light reports that the RuAF and pro-Russian forces have been storming Yakovlivka since the spring, as the capture of this settlement enables them to attack Soledar.
First, elite units of the Airborne Forces (which had previously taken Popasna) went on the assault, but were defeated. They were followed by separatists of the People's Militia of the "LPR" and a volunteer detachment of the Akhmat regiment. Positional fighting began, and the pro-Russian forces faced a shortage of shells, while Ukrainian servicemen, under the cover of artillery from Soledar, quickly fortified, building tunnels and shelters for tanks.
Throughout the summer, pro-Russian forces tried to break through the narrow forest lines around Yakovlivka, but in the end made minimal progress with very heavy losses.
The situation began to change only with the arrival of convicts recruited by the Wagner Group, who, under the threat of execution by firing squad, were thrown into the assault. In addition, the Russian side has no prepared winter fortifications on this axis, so soldiers sometimes have to go into battle so as not to freeze to death in the trenches.
Ukrainian aviation, Mil Mi-8 helicopters and Sukhoi Su-25 attack aircraft, which can fly freely [without fear of the enemy’s air defense] in this area, poses an additional problem for the pro-Russian forces. Thus, it is another example when the lack of resources of the Russian air defense becomes obvious.
There were also some changes on the Kupiansk axis.
Analyzing reports of fighting and geolocating video recordings, OSINT analyst Def Mon came to the conclusion that the settlement of Orlyanske came under the control of Russian forces, and slightly moved the line of the AFU operations to the west.
The WarGonzo Telegram channel of pro-Russian journalist Semyon Pegov reports about Ukrainian attacks on Kuzemivka. Based on this information, it can be assumed that the nearby settlement of Novoselivske came under the control of the AFU.
The General Staff of the AFU reports attacks on the village of Bila Hora, which is located west of Zelenopillya, Ozarianivka, and Kurdiumivka. This report suggests that either pro-Russian forces have indeed captured Kurdiumivka, crossed the Siverskyi Donets — Donbass Canal and started attacking Bila Hora, or they are trying to envelop Kurdiumivka to force the AFU soldiers to retreat.
Vladimir Putin spoke at a meeting of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, where he said that at the moment, a new mobilization is not needed.
According to him, approximately 150,000 mobilized soldiers are in the “special military operation” zone. Of these, 77 thousand are in combat units. The rest of the mobilized are at training grounds and training centers.
Judging by the current situation on the front line, there really is no need to start the second wave of mobilization right now. Even considering the rotation of personnel, it should be sufficient for the time being. However, over time, the number of mobilized soldiers will decrease: they will be killed, fall ill, get injured and be captured, so, at some point there will be a need for replenishment. In case of a large-scale offensive by either side, the question of the second wave of mobilization will become much more acute.
Putin said that stories about basements and camps for “refuseniks” are “nonsense and fakes”, but in the Armed Forces of Ukraine “they shoot on the spot, and even mass executions by firing squad are carried out right in front of the ranks” for refusing to fight.
He also stated that the “special operation” could be quite lengthy.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy, on the contrary, believes that peace may come for Ukrainians as early as next year.
We do not know the reasons for such optimism, but we assume that the leadership of Ukraine has some important information that gives reason to make such bold assumptions.
On December 7, it became known that a Su-24 bomber, which was controlled by mercenaries from the Wagner group (yesterday we reported on the fighting in this area) was shot down near Klischiivka.
On December 7, the positions of Ukrainian troops near Avdiivka were attacked with incendiary munitions. Using incendiary weapons far from residential areas, for instance in a forest, may be legal. Therefore, it is difficult to conclude whether this case constitutes a war crime.
On December 7, Russian forces attacked the town of Kurakhove, Donetsk region, with MLRS. According to the Deputy Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the center of the town came under fire. A market, a bus stop, gas stations, and residential buildings were hit. A total of eight people were killed and five were injured during the attack. This is definitely a war crime.
In Shakhtarsk, an explosion occurred at an ammunition depot on December 7. This Russian-occupied town is located east of Donetsk in the rear (about 50 kilometers from the front line). Secondary explosions are clearly audible in the video.
On December 7, a "power control point" was destroyed in occupied Volnovakha. Electricity supply will not be restored for some time.
Similarly to Russian attacks on Ukrainian power grid, this is a war crime. Attacks on civilian infrastructure cannot be justified by pointing out that the enemy is doing the same. In this case, however, we have not seen any conclusive evidence that the attack was carried out by Ukrainian forces, therefore, further investigation is needed.
As we predicted in yesterday's sitrep, attacks by UAVs on Russian airfields could result in increased security measures and more challenging logistics because bombers will be re-located to airfields further from the border. Satellite images published by Radio Liberty show that after the attacks about ten Tu-22M bombers left the Dyagilevo air base, and six Tu-95 bombers were removed from the Engels-2 airfield.
On December 3, Mohammad Bagheri, Chief of the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, and Aleksandr Fomin, Deputy Minister of Defense of Russia, held a meeting in Tehran.
A photo surfaced showing Russian mobilized servicemen wearing Iranian-made bulletproof vests and helmets.
South Korea provided Ukraine with 100 pickup trucks and 5 mini excavators.
Germany plans to supply Ukraine with 18 RCH-155 self-propelled artillery systems; shipments will start in 2025.
On December 7, in Melitopol, an attempt was made on the life of yet another collaborator - the deputy head of the occupation administration, Mykola Volyk. As reported, an explosive device attached to a powerline pole went off near the entrance to his house, but Volyk was not injured.
The European Commission has announced the 9th sanctions package against Russia, which includes:
- sanctions against certain organizations and individuals;
- restriction of the activities of three banks;
- restriction of broadcasting of four TV channels;
- restrictions on the export of dual-use goods (chemicals, electronics and IT components);
- measures against the energy and mining sectors of the economy, including a ban on investment;
- barring Russia from access to drones and any shipments of them, as well as a ban on the export of drone engines to third countries, including Iran, which can supply drones to Russia. It is likely that this ban will also apply to civilian drones such as DJI.
The UN has documented 441 murders of civilians in the Kyiv region in the first weeks of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Among those killed were 28 children. The total number of killings in the area is “probably significantly higher” as more than 1000 bodies were found by Ukrainian authorities after the withdrawal of Russian troops from the Kyiv region. In the report, the UN investigators focused on proven cases of extrajudicial executions or attacks on civilians and did not reflect instances of death caused by shelling.
Moreover, the UN studied in detail 100 deaths of Kyiv suburban areas residents, Bucha included. The authors of the report found that 57 of them were, in fact, extrajudicial executions: 30 were committed in places of detention, 27 — on the spot. Agents.media [independent Russian investigative media outlet] provides details of three of such most typical executions.