Sitrep for January 18-19 (as of 12:00 a.m.)
The situation on the frontline
The most intense combat activities are still going on in the areas of Svatove and Kreminna, where the AFU offensive continues.
On the Svatove axis, combat activities are taking place in the areas of Kuzemivka and Novoselivske (next to Kuzemivka), where the latest Russian T-90M tank was hit the other day (there is a geolocated video).
The General Staff of the AFU reported that Russian attacks on the settlements of Sil, Krasna Hora, Bakhmut, and Klishchiivka were repelled on the Bakhmut axis, at the same time, there have been no changes on the frontline yet. However, a little later, the Telegram channel of Russian propagandist Aleksandr Kots cited the statement of Yevgeny Prigozhin [Russian oligarch, the confidant of Vladimir Putin and owner of the Wagner Group] that Wagner Group fighters had captured Klishchiivka which sounds highly doubtful, since Ukrainian positions in this area are considerably fortified, and no visual evidence has been provided. Earlier, the Wagner Group claimed to have captured Soledar almost two weeks before it actually happened.
There were reports that after Soledar had been captured, the RuAF shifted their focus to Klishchiivka, the capture of which would be an important step for the encirclement and subsequent capture of Bakhmut. After capturing Klishchiivka, it would be logical for the pro-Russian forces to advance west to cut off Bakhmut's supplies along the motorway to Kostiantynivka. If they succeed, the situation for Bakhmut may become critical. However, pro-Russian forces do not always act as expected. For example, in a similar situation with Avdiivka, which was almost in a semi-encirclement after the capture of Pisky and Opytne, the expected advance to Tonenke and subsequent encirclement never happened, so Avdiivka still remained under the control of the AFU.
There are no changes on the frontline on the Donetsk axis, but Russian attacks on a number of settlements continue.
The General Staff of the AFU also reported that Russian attacks on Huliaipole and Orikhiv were repulsed on the Zaporizhzhia axis.
Perhaps, it is a kind of "probing the ground," an attempt to understand how strong the Ukrainian defense is in this direction, or perhaps, an attempt to intercept the initiative: if the AFU is really going to start a large-scale counteroffensive in the Zaporizhzhia direction, sudden attacks will force them not to be on the advance, but to defend.
Kherson was once again shelled with thermite incendiary munitions, and the video cannot be geolocated again. The aftermath of this strike is unknown for now.
On Jan. 18, a helicopter crash in Brovary, near Kyiv, killed 14 people, including a child and the leadership of the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs. Twenty-five people were injured, including 11 children. Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in his address, called the crash "the result of the war." He was probably referring to the need to fly at ultra-low altitudes for fear of being shot down. The reasons for the crash are unknown at this moment.
Weaponry supply news
The New York Times reported, citing American and Israeli sources, that since weapons production has not kept pace with Ukraine's needs in this war, the United States decided to send Ukraine shells from little-known depots in Israel and South Korea. This is noteworthy because Israel had previously decided to limit assistance to Ukraine with humanitarian aid. About half of the 300,000 shells intended for Ukraine have already arrived in Europe.
It is assumed that the AFU can use about 90,000 shells per month. For example, the United States currently produces 14,000 shells of 155mm caliber per month, and by spring, it plans to increase production to 20,000 shells, but this is still very insufficient.
Reuters quoted the United States officials reporting that US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will try to "pressure" the new German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius to permit the transfer of German tanks to Ukraine on Thursday.
Earlier, it was reported that German authorities would be ready to transfer Leopard tanks only along with deliveries of M1 Abrams tanks from the United States, but American tanks contain technologies the United States is not ready to export.
Politico, citing an unnamed French official, reports that France is considering providing Kyiv with Leclerc main battle tanks. They are significantly lighter (combat weight 54–57 tons) than the Challenger 2 tanks.
On Jan. 20, the next Ramstein meeting will take place, at which new military aid packages will be announced. Many Western media write that the new US package will not include M1 Abrams tanks and ATACMS missiles but will include Stryker armored fighting vehicles and, probably, GLSDB HIMARS munitions with a target range of 150-160 km. The introduction of these bombs to the Ukrainian front may have a significant impact on the situation. The map shows how far Ukrainian ground forces will be able to strike.
WELT journalists revealed the extent of the aid provided by Bulgaria to Ukraine last year. According to them, about a third of the ammunition crucial for the Ukrainian army came from Bulgaria. Bulgaria also became one of the largest diesel fuel exporters to Ukraine, covering up to 40% of its demand. The diesel was produced from Russian oil at the Lukoil Black Sea refinery and shipped to Ukraine via shell companies.
Canadian Minister of National Defense Anita Anand announced that Canada will supply Ukraine with 200 Roshel’s Senator armored personnel carriers capable of transporting 12 fighters each and supporting them with machine gun or automatic grenade launcher fire.
Latvia will ship additional Stinger MANPADS, missiles for them, helicopters, machine guns, and drones to Ukraine.
British Defense Intelligence reports on Russia’s plans to deploy T-14 Armata tanks to the front lines for propaganda. We do not rule out that their combat testing may be planned.
The United States allocates $125 million for the restoration of the Ukrainian energy system. According to USAID Administrator Samantha Power, the funds will be used to purchase equipment for water and heat supply systems in Ukrainian cities, gas turbines, transformers, and other equipment.
Fathers of three or more children from the Zabaykalsky region, who were returned home from the “special military operation” zone due to draft deferrals, are sent back to the war.
Mobilized soldiers from the Yaroslavl region claim that they are afraid of being accused of desertion due to leaving their positions on the commander's orders. They retreated from their positions during tanks and artillery strikes at the order of the company commander, who later retracted his words, maybe, being afraid of punishment. Now they are facing up to 15 years in prison.
This typical situation shows the level of relations within the Ministry of Defense between officials, military commanders and private soldiers. It will be repeated again and again — each commander will continue thinking about his own well-being, and not about soldiers.
Moscow City Duma [city parlament] member Yevgeny Stupin received a response from the Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Federation, Valery Gerasimov, which states that the organization called "PMC Wagner" is not part of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation; therefore the Ministry of Defense cannot facilitate interaction with the Wagner Group. This further confirms the fact that mercenaries of the Wagner Group are not combatants.
Mark Krutov from Radio Liberty carefully studied the video published by Yevgeny Prigozhin and found that Wagner Group's mercenaries are rehabilitating at a well-known St. Petersburg medical center associated with one of Putin's daughters.
Ukrainian columnist Kostyantyn Mashovets posted a scan of the manual of the Main Combat Training Directorate of the Russian Ministry of Defense on the features of urban warfare, and some of the illustrations in it look like they were drawn by children.
We consider the news from the Nasha Niva media outlet about the transportation of soldiers in railway tanks to be untrustworthy.