January 13, 2023

Sitrep for January 12-13 (as of 1:00 p.m.)

More details about the incident of the AFU soldiers shot by a pro-Russian fighter while trying to capture them appeared. One of the Ukrainian soldiers was identified by relatives who had been looking for him since Dec. 30 (so they were definitely not Wagner Group mercenaries in disguise). It is also doubtful that the shooter was wearing a Ukrainian uniform (no details can be seen on the video), as there was a fierce close fight around. However, the fact that the attacker approached the AFU soldiers from the back could make them think that he was their fellow soldier.

During the current invasion, there were a number of incidents when enemies were mistaken for friendly forces. That is the reason why soldiers often use colored bands on their sleeves trying to reduce such confusion.

If the pro-Russian soldier turns out to have been dressed in a Ukrainian uniform, then it is a war crime. And if the attacker turns out to be a Wagner Group mercenary, then it is a criminal offense, since the Wagner Group is an illegal armed formation.

As far as an unofficial confrontation between Yevgeny Prigozhin [Russian oligarch, the confidant of Vladimir Putin and owner of the Wagner Group] and the Russian Ministry of Defense is concerned, it is worth adding that despite all Prigozhin’s attempts to present the Wagner Group as the only unit to make a merit of capture of Soledar, he did not succeed.

The situation on the frontline

In its recent summary the General Staff of the AFU reported that Russian attacks had been successfully repelled in a number of settlements, including Kreminna which, in fact, means that Ukrainian soldiers are already a couple of kilometers away from the outskirts of this settlement.

Let us recall that earlier there was a video of Ukrainian soldiers in the forest, 5.5 km south of Kreminna. Their further advance was complicated by the fact that the territory was heavily mined.

General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine also reports that a Russian attack was repulsed in the area of the Sil railway station, located in the western outskirts of Soledar. This means that the entire town or most of it has already been captured by pro-Russian forces.

We believe that they will next move south from Soledar, attacking Blahodatne, Krasna Hora, Pidhorodne and Bakhmut.

In the coming days, the situation in Krasna Hora and Paraskoviivka must be closely monitored. If these settlements are captured, the two supply routes for Bakhmut from the north will be at least under the fire control of the pro-Russian forces.

However, in order to capture Bakhmut, the third supply route, southwest of Bakhmut towards Kostyantynivka, should also be cut. Prior to that, Klishchiivka and (reportedly) heavily fortified positions to the west of it should be seized, which is unlikely to be accomplished in the near future.

News of arms supply

Pentagon spokesman Patrick Ryder said that Bradley IFVs will arrive in Ukraine in the coming weeks. And, what especially surprised us, he said that the training of the Ukrainian crews would take weeks, not months.

We can explain such a short time frame either by the low quality of future training, or by the fact that operating Bradley is similar to operating  M113 APCs (or its Dutch modification YPR), which are already in service with the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and which Igor Konashenkov [Chief spokesperson for Russia’s Ministry of Defence] might have previously mistaken for Bradley in his report.

According to the Minister of the Armed Forces of France, AMX-10RC armored fighting vehicles will arrive in Ukraine within two months.

The New York Times writes that, apparently, Western officials are preparing Ukraine for a spring breakthrough. They suppose that the AFU have only a narrow window to prepare to repel an anticipated Russian springtime offensive, and thus to receive new weapons, qualified training, and strengthen their positions along the frontline.

The Sun shows the internal design of a Panzerhaubitze 2000 self-propelled gun and two types of artillery rounds: the DM702A1 delivered from Germany, which contains two anti-tank submunitions, and the M1712A1 high-explosive fragmentation shells delivered from the Netherlands with a maximum firing range of up to 30 km.

10 temporary bridges arrived from Norway as part of humanitarian aid.

Mobilization news

Eight mobilized soldiers, who were kept for several months in a basement for “refuseniks” in Zavitne Bazhannya in the so-called DPR were released and got home to the Primorsky region. There have been no sanctions against them yet.

The Agentstvo [Agency] news outlet reports that it has become a common practice in Russia to send out injured servicemen to the combat zone without verdicts of military-medical commissions. This may be a way to save budget funds (by not paying compensation to the injured) or negligence.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation canceled the directive of Oct. 4, 2022 on draft deferral for fathers of three. There is an assumption that this is due to the fact that many such men have already been mobilized and it is difficult to take them back from the frontline. According to the information provided on the hotline of the Ministry of Defense, the draft deferral for fathers of four or more children remains in force.

As a result of difficult negotiations and with the mediation of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the bodies of 54 prisoners of war who were killed in a makeshift prison in Olenivka were returned to Ukraine. DNA testing is ongoing to identify the victims.

According to freight operators, orders to transport the bodies of killed mercenaries of the Wagner Group appear on specialized websites almost every day. The final destination of the cargo is the administration of the Balashikha urban district, Moscow. We assume that crematoriums in the Krasnodar and Rostov regions may be overloaded, so they have to transport the bodies to other regions.

We do not yet have an understanding of the scale of losses in Soledar because there are no photos or videos of the aftermath of the battle, no obituaries, and no reports from military commissariats or pro-Russian Telegram channels on the number of casualties in a particular direction.

The Praematerna art group held an action near The Motherland Calls statue in Volgograd.

Military analyst Konrad Muzyka and his Rochan Consulting company published fresh satellite images of the military airfield in Ziabrauka in the Gomel region of Belarus and emphasized that S-300, S-400, and Pantsir air defense systems are visible in them.

We do not see anything unusual in it because any airfield close to the frontline and with military vehicles on it should be protected by air defense systems. These are not newly arrived systems, which could indicate an upcoming offensive by Belarus.

Pentagon spokesman Patrick Ryder also said at a public press conference that the U.S. does not yet see any preparations for a possible offensive by Belarus.