Sitrep for February 3-4 (as of 11:30 a.m.)
The situation on the frontline
We cannot predict where a new offensive may begin and whether Russia has enough forces for this. We could analyze additional reserves accumulation beginning in a particular direction or bringing personnel and additional air defense systems there and assume these to be signs of a new large-scale offensive planned by the Russian command, but we have not seen such signs anywhere so far.
This week, in the Svatove direction, the main combat activities took place near Kuzemivka and Novoselivka, but at the end of the week, the combat zone shifted to the area of Stelmakhivka, but there is still no change on the frontline.
Neither side advanced in the Kreminna direction. The RuAF pursued offensive attempts, mainly targeting the settlements of Nevske, Yampolivka, Bilohorivka (in the Luhansk region), Verkhnokamianske, and Spirne, but the AFU managed to repulse those. Several units of the 76th Guards Air Assault Division of the RuAF operate in this direction.
Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yunus-Bek Yevkurov inspected the positions of Russian military personnel (mostly mobilized soldiers) in the Siversk direction, apparently in the Luhansk region, near the frontline (the sound of explosions can sometimes be heard in the video).
In the Bakhmut direction, the Wagner Group announced the capture of two tiny villages: Sakko and Vanzetti and Mykolaivka. They are also trying to advance north from Soledar along the highway leading to Siversk. Cutting this route is dangerous for Bakhmut, and the capture of Siversk will jeopardize the Ukrainian forces attacking in the Kreminna direction, i.e., will lead to their semi-encirclement.
South of Bakhmut, Russian forces continue to advance towards the highway connecting Bakhmut and Kostiantynivka. Apparently, it is already under their fire control but has not been cut yet.
We do not expect Bakhmut to be surrounded in the coming days, but we would not rule out such a possibility at the end of February. It is impossible to unambiguously judge the expediency of holding Bakhmut for the Ukrainian side (we have no information about the number of losses sustained by its defenders), but the capture of Bakhmut will enable Russian forces to advance further toward Sloviansk and Kramatorsk.
In the Vuhledar direction, the 72nd Separate Mechanized Brigade of the AFU continues to repulse the attacks by the Russian marines, which have sustained heavy losses and this week have failed to gain a foothold neither in the northern nor in the southern suburban settlements.
The number of Russian casualties calculated by the BBC News Russian and Mediazona [an independent Russian media outlet] has increased by about 500 over the past week.
On Feb. 3, the Department of Defense of the United States of America officially announced a new package of security assistance. It is divided into two parts. The first part includes the authorization of a Presidential Drawdown of security assistance valued at up to $425 million. It is a drawdown of equipment Department of Defense inventories and will be delivered shortly. It includes:
· Additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS);
· Additional 155mm artillery rounds;
· Additional 120mm mortar rounds;
· 190 heavy machine guns with thermal imagery sights and associated ammunition to counter Unmanned Aerial Systems;
· 181 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) Vehicles;
· 250 Javelin anti-armor systems;
· Claymore anti-personnel munitions;
· Cold weather gear, helmets, and other field equipment.
The second part of the assistance in the amount of $1.75 billion is allocated within the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. According to it, the US government allocates this money and concludes contracts with manufacturers. This part includes:
· Two HAWK air defense firing units;
· Anti-aircraft guns and ammunition;
· Equipment to integrate Western air defense launchers, missiles, and radars with Ukraine’s air defense systems;
· Equipment to sustain Ukraine’s existing air defense capabilities;
· Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems;
· Four air surveillance radars;
· Spare parts for counter-artillery radars;
· Puma Unmanned Aerial Systems;
· Secure communications equipment;
· Funding for training, maintenance, and sustainment.
In addition, the funds of this part of the assistance will be used to finance training, maintenance, and sustainment.
The time required for the supply of weapons and ammunition from the second part of the package depends on the capabilities of specific manufacturing plants. Some experts say, based on the experience of past years, most likely, the single plant can produce 24 GLSDBs in 9 months.
Having also studied in detail the briefing held by the Pentagon on Dec. 21, we found out that the JDAM kits (converting unguided bombs into precision-guided munitions), announced at the end of last year, is also planned to be delivered as part of the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. So, the date of their delivery is still unknown. In addition, it is not clear which bombs will be delivered with them. We assume that Ukrainian Su-25 or MiG-29 fighter aircraft could be modified for these JDAM-equipped bombs.
The following question remains open: why not deliver GBU-39 precision-guided glide bombs to Ukraine since there are quite a lot of them in US ammunition depots, and it takes so much time to produce GLSDBs? It is also worth considering the possibility of training Ukrainian pilots to fly the F-16 fighter aircraft and the A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft during this time.
The New York Times, citing American officials, claims that the number of Russian troops killed and wounded in Ukraine is approaching 200,000.
We make our estimates of casualties based on the death toll, which the BBC News Russian, together with Mediazona and volunteers, estimates on the basis of published obituaries. As of Feb. 3, there were 13.03 thousand names of servicemen in their list of verified killed. We also know from their reports that these obituaries cover 40-60% of those buried (volunteers visited cemeteries and counted new graves of the dead who were not included in the lists). Dividing 13,030 by 40-60%, we get 22-33 thousand buried.
We note that not all the killed are buried: some bodies have not yet been transferred to their homeland or have not been found, in the latter case, people are listed as missing. To estimate the number of missing persons, we rely on the 1st Tank Army casualty report published by Ukrainian intelligence in May 2022, which indicated 61 killed and 44 missing, and assume that the number of the missing could range from a third of those buried to an equal number. Thus, we get from 29 to 65 thousand killed and missing.
To count the number of the wounded, we use ratios from 1:3 to 1:4 to the number of the killed and get from 90 to 260 thousand wounded. Rounding up (and taking the verified number of the dead for ½ of the buried), we get from 100 to 200 thousand wounded.
Thus, our estimate of Russian casualties lies in a range of 130-270 thousand killed and wounded.
Since recruited convicts are included in the NYT numbers, their count of 200,000 is, in fact, conservative, and our upper boundary is much higher. There is also an important caveat. Some of the wounded might have gotten into the stats twice, such as in those cases when they were slightly wounded, returned to the front, and sometime later ended up in a hospital again. Most likely, even with access to all the documented data, in the aftermath of the war, the real casualty toll will be established only down to thousands.
This chart illustrates that the number of buried servicemen surpasses the number of known obituaries; the number of killed surpasses the number of buried; most of the missing are dead, but some may still be found alive. A subset of wounded is handicapped and attributed to irretrievable losses, and some servicemen may suffer light wounds on several occasions and be listed as wounded twice or more.
One more name has been added to the list of those who were killed during the strike on Makiivka on the night of Jan. 1 (at the moment, there are 102 names on the list). It became known that Oleg Gumerov, previously considered missing, was killed.
In the Magadan region, a criminal charge was filed against the father of mobilized servicemen. There is no central heating in the village where his family resides. The firewood promised by officials never arrived, and he had to cut down a few trees. The damage was estimated at 153,957 rubles, which is almost the annual income of the man living on a monthly pension of 16,800 rubles.
A video has been published titled “a frozen ground M777 recovery”, showing, as we assume, Ukrainian fighters, in fact, preparing a position for the howitzer. We also noticed that the howitzer was equipped with summer howitzer supports. We aren’t aware if there is a winter version of a M777 support.
A new video has surfaced showing the destruction of yet another Tor-M2DT surface-to-air missile system of arctic modification by an Excalibur extended-range guided artillery shell in the Kherson direction.
On Feb. 4, Ukrainian forces shelled one of the border areas of the Belgorod region; a fire broke out at an oil depot in the village of Borisovka; no casualties have yet been reported.