February 13, 2023

Sitrep for February 11-13 (as of 02:00 p.m.) 

The situation on the frontline

On the Svatove — Kreminna axis, the RuAF have made some progress advancing toward Lyman in the areas of the settlements of Dibrova (the village came under Russian control again), Torske and Zarichne.

In the Bakhmut direction, the pro-Russian forces managed to capture Krasna Hora (according to the unreasonable opinion of Yevgeny Prigozhin [Russian oligarch, the confidant of Vladimir Putin and owner of the Wagner Group], the Wagner Group was the only unit to give credit for that), after that they began to advance along the gully from Blahodatne towards the M-03 highway. They have not yet succeeded in cutting this route, but it is already under the fire control of Russian artillery and is unsuitable for supplying Bakhmut.

To the south of Bakhmut, the bridge over the Siverskyi Donets — Donbas canal was destroyed on the highway connecting Bakhmut and Kostiantynivka, which the RuAF had tried to cut, moving north-west from Klishchiivka towards Ivanivske. Satellite images show traces of numerous hits in the area of this bridge, however, Russian artillery might have targeted, for example, a strongpoint of the AFU which could have been located there. Based on the video, experts are inclined to believe that the bridge was destroyed not with a large-caliber artillery strike, but rather by a controlled detonation. This could have been done by AFU soldiers during the retreat from Bakhmut in order to prevent the further advance of Russian forces. The difficult situation in the town is also evidenced by the report by the Ukrainian commander of the separate aerial reconnaissance group Robert Brovdi [callsign Madyar] that the AFU have closed access to Bakhmut for civilians, including journalists since Feb. 13.

Ukrainian forces still have a small road at their disposal that connects Bakhmut with Chasiv Yar, but it is more suitable for evacuation than for supplying the town.

In recent days, we have been asked a lot about why the Russian offensive at Vuhledar failed and why it ended so badly for the Russian Armed Forces. It is a fundamentally wrong question: the offensive in this direction is continuing, and there is heavy fighting there. Despite heavy losses, Russian soldiers are being sent into fighting wave after wave. Also, contrary to popular belief, Russian forces did not lose 30 tanks in a single battle, but 31 armored vehicles over several days and during different battles. The scale of the fighting can be judged by satellite images.

It is important to remember that Russian offensive (we date the start of it to the Pro-Russian military correspondent and “DPR” commander Alexander Khodakovsky’s claim on receiving an order to intensify attacks on Vuhledar made on Jan. 24) includes not only Vuhledar, but also Svatove, Kreminna, Donetsk, and Bakhmut, and the Russian Armed Forces face such degree of difficulties near Vuhledar only.

The photos of the Kh-55 missile that fell in the Vinnytsia region have appeared. A KTS-120-12 inert warhead imitator can be seen on the missile which tells that it was launched to detect and divert Ukrainian air defenses.

The Command of the Ukrainian Air Force informs about the flights of balloons with corner reflectors in the Dnipropetrovsk region where Ukrainian air defense systems worked.

General Valerii Zaluzhnyi [Commander-in-Chief of the AFU] in a conversation with General Mark Milley [chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] confirmed the use of maritime surface drones by Russia. According to Valerii Zaluzhnyi, these drones are dangerous for civilian shipping in the Black Sea water area. This is indirect evidence that the bridge in the Odesa region (which we wrote about in the last sitrep) was indeed attacked by a Russian surface drone.

In the sitrep before last we discussed the video of the execution of Russian prisoners of war. A continuation of the video was published. In the new footage, all the prisoners have already been killed. The entry and exit holes in the heads of most of them are shown in detail. In the end, the operator turns the camera towards himself. Unlike the case in Krasna Hora, the murder of a prisoner of war with his hands up in the first part of the video is an evident war crime. How the second person was killed is unknown. It could have happened during the fighting. A third prisoner, who was alive in the first, but was shot through the head in the second video, may also have been executed.

Unfortunately, we haven’t seen investigations into previous instances of possible war crimes committed by Ukrainian military service members.

The Ukrainian soldier who took the second video has been deanonymized: his personal data and residence address have been published on the internet and threats against his relatives have appeared.

The New York Times has published a certificate it received from the lawyer Yana Gelmel stating that a convict who had fought as part of the Wagner Group was granted a pardon.

An account by a captured Russian marine Ivan Kuchaev has appeared. In November, as he was serving under a military service contract on the large anti-submarine ship Admiral Panteleev, he was reassigned to a naval infantry unit and sent to the front where he was taken prisoner. He says that it is currently a common practice in the Russian Army to send soldiers to the war as punishment for transgressions.

We are now witnessing a complete collapse of the hierarchy not only in the Russian Armed Forces — other pro-Russian forces also have no proper subordination. Therefore, we consider the story that mobilized servicemen were forced to carry wounded mercenaries of the Wagner Group from the battlefield quite plausible.

Videos have been published allegedly showing yet another execution of the Wagner Group mercenary, a man called Dmitry Yakushchenko, and him saying that, having returned from captivity, he provided the Group with essential information and was forgiven. At the moment, the chronology of these videos is unknown and it is not clear whether the video with the “execution” is staged (the moment of the execution itself is blurred).

Serviceman Andrey Pakhomov, who in September had threatened a policeman in Voronezh and had hit him twice, was fined 60,000 rubles. Participation in the “special military operation” was deemed a mitigating factor by court. Mikhail Matveev, a State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia] member from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, noted ironically that compared with the terms of prison sentences for a plastic cup thrown at a policeman, the judiciary system has become more humane.

German Fennek armored reconnaissance vehicles, the arrival of which was not previously announced, were seen in Ukraine.

Footage of the arrival of the ARC Integrity vessel in the German port of Bremerhaven has been published. Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, Avenger short-range air defense systems and M88A2 Hercules armored repair and recovery vehicles for Ukraine were unloaded there.

Denmark transferred to Ukraine all the Caesar self-propelled howitzers it had.

Tomorrow, the next Ramstein Conference will take place. We expect a lot of talk about tanks and hope to hear something specific about delivery times and quantities, rather than just political promises. Aircraft supply is also planned for discussion, but we expect it to be about rearmament in the distant future.