February 3, 2023

Sitrep for February 2-3 (as of 2:00 p.m.)

The situation on the frontline

The Wagner Group announced the capture of Mykolaivka (a small village next door to the previously captured Sacco and Vanzetti village) in the Bakhmut direction. Fighting intensified on the eastern outskirts of Bakhmut. The paratroopers and the mercenaries of the Wagner Group are trying to break into the single-family neighborhood, but the Ukrainian artillery throws them back, according to the Ukrainian military from the 93rd Separate Mechanized Brigade.

On the morning of Feb. 3, Russian forces shelled Barvenkove in the Kharkiv region. The hit affected the single-family neighborhood. As a result, two people were killed, another one was injured.

A Ukrainian military serviceman under the nickname Tatarigami described the situation in the Vuhledar direction on Twitter. In his opinion, since the plan for the rapid capture of the entire town was unsuccessful it would be logical for Russian forces to hold the already captured outskirts of Vuhledar. However, they continue their attempts to break into the city. They transfer units from other areas including reserves that were supposed to attack in other directions. Redeployed units include a brigade from the 3rd Army Corps and several battalions from the 36th Combined Arms Army. Tatarigami compares the Russian commanders with a gambler who is chasing losses and borrowing even more money from his friends. Therefore, the battle for Vuhledar will be even longer and bloodier than expected, in his opinion.

In the Kherson direction, Ukrainian artillery intensified shelling. M982 Excalibur extended-range guided artillery shells hit various Russian military vehicles, in particular, a Giatsint-B towed field gun, a D-20 towed gun-howitzer, and a Tor-M2DT surface-to-air missile system of arctic modification worth over 24 million dollars. It should be noted that the destruction of this system cost three Excalibur shells worth $100,000 each.

The number of people killed as a result of the strike on Kramatorsk has increased by one. According to Mayor Oleksandr Honcharenko, a woman's body was pulled out from under the rubble.

After geolocating the site of the strike, we were able to estimate the distance to the nearest strategically important facilities. They were the Kramatorsk thermal power plant and Novokramatorsk machine-building plant (one of the largest heavy machine-building plants in the world) at a distance of about 1300 m from the hit site. According to the Ukrainian side (their information is still unsubstantiated), the strike was carried out by a missile from an Iskander-K missile system. Iskander cruise missiles have a coefficient of circular error probable of about 30 meters. It is unlikely that the final deviation was more than a kilometer.

We still think that, most likely, residents of the house were not the target of the strike because, over the winter, it should have become clear to Russian officers that the tactic of intimidating civilians with massive attacks did not work.

However, it is possible that this hit on a residential building away from potential military targets is related to Igor Konashenkov's [Chief spokesperson for the Russian Ministry of Defence] statement about the destruction of HIMARS and M270 MLRS near Kramatorsk. There is a park between the plant and the house, where theoretically some military targets could have been.

The U.S. media outlets quoted government sources reporting that GLSDB munitions will arrive in Ukraine at the end of the year because they will be purchased under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which involves the Pentagon contracting with manufacturers (the production of these missiles takes about nine months).

According to Bloomberg, Switzerland is considering supporting Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks by selling them for a symbolic price to Ukraine's allies (for example, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia) to replace tanks that they will send to Ukraine. Lawyers are working on whether such a scheme complies with the laws on neutrality.

The German government has decided to supply Ukraine with additional 88 Leopard 1 tanks, which need to be repaired before being shipped. They are also considering buying out 15 Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft guns from Qatar, which were sent there to provide security for the FIFA World Cup.

The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced the upcoming delivery of a SAMP-T air defense system to Ukraine. This system will be on combat duty in seven to eight weeks.

Seventy Ukrainian soldiers arrived in Germany for training to operate Patriot anti-air missile systems.

One of the pro-Russian Telegram channels published a photo of a cat along with a Tochka-U system with a tactical marking of the Russian forces (its presence in the Russian Armed Forces is denied).

The BBC News Russian, Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet], and volunteers found out the names of more than 13,000 Russian soldiers killed in the full-scale invasion, including 924 mobilized.

The New York Times writes that Western officials estimate that Russia has suffered losses of about 200,000 killed and wounded. According to them, Russian military personnel suffered heavy losses in the battles for Soledar and Bakhmut because they sent poorly trained mobilized soldiers and convicts there. If we include killed and injured mercenaries of the Wagner Group in Russian casualties, the number of 200,000 looks plausible. We are going to comment on this news in more detail and give our assessment tomorrow.

Our volunteers working on preparing mobilization summaries found more names of mobilized soldiers killed in Makiivka on the night of Jan. 1. At the moment, the names of 101 killed Russian servicemen are known. Let us recall that no official mourning ceremonies were held in Russia after the incident.

The Russian Defense Ministry began developing a psychological rehabilitation program for senior officers participating in the war. Senior officers — majors, lieutenant colonels and colonels — who participate in combat activities will regularly undergo a weekly PTSD therapy every 2-3 months in the deep rear.

The BBC News Russian published a story of a former Russian sapper of the 42nd Guards Motor Rifle Division. Senior Lieutenant Konstantin Yefremov said that they had been brought to Crimea before February. Until the very beginning of the invasion, they believed that they would participate in exercises. After the start of the full-scale invasion, the subject of the article tried to refuse to participate in the war and leave, but he was forced to return. According to him, he neither killed nor shot anyone. In April, his unit was assigned to guard an HQ in the rear in the town of Bilmak [Kamianka] in the Zaporizhzhia region, where a colonel, a senior officer, who will soon be given a therapy for PTSD, was engaged in interrogation of captured Ukrainians. In the article, Konstantin Yefremov reported about the torture of Ukrainian prisoners of war [including violent beating, murder threats with shooting next to the head and forceful rape] which he witnessed. Senior officers rarely appear on the frontline, but these people are the ones who will soon start receiving psychological help, and not the bulk of Russian servicemen.

Contract soldiers’ wives from Khanty-Mansi Autonomous region — Yugra [federal subject of Russia] complain about problems with payments. According to them, volunteer fighters who were promised 200,000 rubles get less than 10,000 rubles per month, some of them were not paid anything, while mobilized soldiers are paid the due 195,000 rubles.

Another mobilized serviceman who escaped from the front is on the wanted list in Moscow. Notably, such fugitive mobilized soldiers face criminal liability with long prison terms, but Wagner Group mercenaries who were recruited in prisons could be punished only by the Wagner Group leadership.

A mobilized soldier, who was killed in the Luhansk region at the end of Dec. 2022, was buried in Tyumen. He served in the 34th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade in 2013 and after being mobilized was assigned to the 234th Guards Air Assault Regiment of the 76th Guards Air Assault Division and trained in an airborne training center. This is an example that shows that mobilized soldiers, who got into  “elite” units (airborne or marine units), receive proper training, provision, vehicles, and gear while those who got into motorized rifle or newly established units lack provision and training.

A mobilized man from Chuvashia [Russia’s constituent republic] filmed a video showing that humanitarian aid sent to them was mostly stolen. This happens all the time.

Servicemen from Chechnya [Russia’s constituent republic] attempted to take away a lot of weapons from the front. A bus with 45 soldiers from the Akhmat-South unit was traveling from the occupied part of the Zaporizhzhia region. On the way to the Stavropol region, the police stopped the vehicle. During the inspection, they seized over 600 bullets and 22 grenades.

It should be noted that there are various Chechen units, such as Kadyrov's personal guard, which does not participate in combat but shoots a lot of videos; new volunteer units, such as Akhmat; units of the Russian National Guard and the Russian Ministry of Defense, which are deployed in Chechnya — they typically do not have Chechens in their ranks.

Chairman of the Federation Council of Russia Valentina Matviyenko has recently declared that residents of new regions should see that social elevators are working in Russia.