Sitrep for January 20-21 (as of 1:00 p.m.)
The situation on the frontline
Heavy fighting continues on the Svatove axis in the area of the settlements of Novoselivske and Kuzemivka. Reportedly, Russian forces in Kuzemivka were reinforced.
The General Staff of the AFU reported on Russian strikes near the village of Holikove in the area of Kreminna. This village is located near the R-66 Svatove — Kreminna highway, which needs to be cut by the Ukrainian forces to advance further on Kreminna. Thus, indirect evidence began to appear that the AFU had already approached the highway.
Although there has been no visual evidence that Klishchiivka has been captured yet, OSINT analyst Def Mon believes it most likely to be true. At the same time, there were also Ukrainian positions to the west of Klishchiivka on the high ground.
On the Donetsk axis, the AFU made small progress in the area of Marinka as it was noted by Def Mon, who had analyzed the latest geolocated videos.
On the Zaporizhzhia axis, the AFU repelled attacks near the village of Mala Tokmachka. Pro-Russian Telegram channels claim a noticeable advance of Russian forces on this axis (with no confirmation so far) and the capture of the village of Lobkove (west of Orikhiv), which has long been considered under Russian control. If the report about the capture is true, then the village must have been recaptured by the AFU some time ago.
There is a video, actively circulating on the Internet, that reportedly shows the 58th Combined Arms Army of Russia sustaining heavy losses, as the command allegedly began to use the Wagner Group offensive tactics, sending wave after wave of infantry right under enemy’s fire. However, we believe the video to show a fairly typical situation of what is happening near the frontline in this war.
On the morning of Jan. 20, Kramatorsk was hit. The photo shows a large crater in the ground near a kindergarten. As far as we know, no one was injured.
Results of the Ramstein Conference
Germany has so far failed to reach an agreement with its key Western allies on sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
Slovakia and the Czech Republic, following principles of the so-called Tallinn Pledge, declared that they were ready to give even those Leopard 2 tanks that they had received from Germany as part of a circular exchange scheme, handing over old Soviet tanks to Ukraine. Thus, Slovakia and the Czech Republic expressed their intention to help Ukraine even at the expense of their own combat capabilities. At the same time, the position of Germany, which is also a participant in the Tallinn Pledge and, accordingly, should adhere to the same declared principles, raises questions.
The United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that the "window of opportunity" — a period of time to resolve the issue of supplying tanks to Ukraine — would be open until spring when Ukraine could launch its counteroffensive. The important thing is that in this short timeframe, they need not only to deliver tanks themselves but also to train AFU soldiers to use them, which is a lengthy process.
Probably realizing this, Germany permitted other countries to train Ukrainian soldiers to operate Leopard 2 tanks.
Germany will also transfer to Ukraine additional 40 Marder infantry fighting vehicles, 7 Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft guns, which have proven effective against Shahed drones and some cruise missiles (low-speed), and a battery of IRIS-T air defense systems with ammunition.
The Netherlands will provide Ukraine with two Patriot launchers (recall that one battery consists of from 4 to 8 launchers).
Poland will supply additional infantry fighting vehicles and T-72 tanks (proceeding with ongoing shipments). The preliminary plan is that the vehicles will arrive by the end of March, and a brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine will have undergone training in operating them.
Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley spoke on the challenges of making Russian troops leave all occupied territories of Ukraine (including territories seized in 2014) by force in 2023. The statement sounds absolutely logical, since Crimea is extremely difficult to liberate by military means.
Reuters, citing an anonymous high-ranking American official, reports that the US leadership advises the military leadership of Ukraine to postpone a new big offensive until all the military vehicles announced in the latest aid package arrive in Ukraine (and are mastered by Ukrainian operators).
Agence France-Presse (also citing an American official) writes that the United States is advising Ukraine to withdraw its forces from Bakhmut because now holding the city distracts the Armed Forces of Ukraine from full commitment to preparing for an anticipated spring counteroffensive. Such a piece of advice seems rather strange, as should Ukrainian troops leave Bakhmut and become entrenched in the areas to the west of the town, Russian forces will not stop attacking them.
The White House confirmed that the US Treasury Department will recognize the Wagner Group as an international criminal organization and will impose sanctions against it.
Two satellite images were released by the White House showing Russian rail cars transporting ammunition from North Korea to Russia to supply the Wagner Group. Yevgeny Prigozhin [Russian oligarch, confidant of Vladimir Putin, owner of the Wagner Group] denies these deliveries.
Member of the Pskov regional assembly Artur Gaiduk sent an appeal to Putin with a request to issue a decree on the end of mobilization. In the response received from the presidential administration, it was stated that the decree on "partial" mobilization was still valid. On Jan. 20, journalists asked Dmitry Peskov, who is not only Russia’s President’s spokesman, but also the first deputy head of the Presidential Administration, to comment on the situation with this request. Peskov said that he was not ready to comment because the information needed to be clarified.
Mobilized servicemen from the 6th Guards Tank Regiment, who have been taking part in hostilities near Svatove, Luhansk region, since Oct. 23, were paid out 9 thousand rubles in October, and 19 thousand rubles in November, since according to the documents, they are still stationed at their home base in Chebarkul and do not perform combat missions.
There are new photos of an air defense system destroyed some time ago in the Zaporizhzhia region, 60 km from the front line. According to early photographs, it was assumed that an S-300 launcher was destroyed, but now it turned out that it was an S-400 5P85SM2-01 TEL. As far as we know, this is the first recorded destruction of a part of an S-400 SAM in combat.