January 24, 2023

Sitrep for January 23-24 (as of 1:00 p.m.)

The situation on the frontline

Russian forces continue to attack Novoselivske in the Svatove direction, making unsuccessful attempts to dislodge Ukrainian forces from there.

To the south of Bakhmut, the AFU allegedly retreated to the high ground northwest of Klishchiivka, from where it is convenient to fire at enemy positions. Russian forces are now trying to bypass these fortified heights, advancing along the Siverskyi Donets  — Donbas canal towards the settlement of Stupochki located at the Bakhmut  — Kostiantynivka highway, used for supplying the town.

Pro-Russian military correspondent and “DPR” commander Aleksandr Khodakovsky reported that Russian forces had allegedly been ordered to intensify combat activities in the Vuhledar direction. We have not seen any visual evidence of changes in this direction yet.

The Russian Ministry of Defense reported that Russian forces had allegedly suppressed the AFU attempt to force the Dnipro River near the settlement of Nova Kakhovka, but did not provide any evidence.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated that the solution on Leopard tanks would be found soon, but all countries that have these tanks at their disposal can already prepare them for transfer to Ukraine.

There was also news by the ABC News [American news outlet], citing a certain Ukrainian official, that Ukraine had allegedly managed to assemble a coalition of 12 countries that could supply about 100 Leopard tanks to it.

However, it is important to remember that these supplies might take a long time for various reasons (possible need to arrange circular exchange, the unsatisfactory condition of tanks in storage, and much more besides).

The Polish Ministry of Defense stated that Warsaw had sent a formal request for Berlin to allow the transfer of German-made Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy believes that dozens of Leopard tanks transferred  by the allies "will not solve the problem", since Russia has "a thousand tanks." It's impossible to argue with that, because, firstly, Russia continues to produce and modernize its tanks, albeit in small numbers; secondly, there are a large number of tanks in storage, which can be sent to the front after restoration.

Recently, there have been news reports that Morocco is planning to transfer T-72B tanks to Ukraine. Initially, an Algerian journalist wrote about it in his blog on the Menadefense website. It is important to note that relations between Algeria and Morocco have been quite tense for many years, and there have even been armed conflicts. Moreover, in 2021, diplomatic relations between the countries were completely severed. The article was accompanied by a photo of a tank in the Czech Excalibur Army military-industrial enterprise, but the picture was not of the T-72B tank; it was of a T-72A or T-72M1. We note that Morocco has never had such modifications. In addition, the turret of this tank is sand-colored, while tanks in Morocco's service have khaki turrets.

From an interview with Excalibur Army Commercial Director Richard Kubena, it became known that some "African country" had ordered 30 tanks. Apparently, it really was Morocco. Excalibur Army upgraded 30 T-72M1 tanks (as we understand, originating from the Czech Republic) and was going to supply them to this "African country." Thus, in the photo from the article on the Menadefense website, you can see an upgraded T-72M1 tank, which was called T-72EA (probably, EA stands for Excalibur Army).

After that, presumably, under U.S. pressure, Morocco rejected this order. So, the tanks remained Czech and will now be transferred to Ukraine without any involvement of Morocco.

It is noted that this is not the first factual error of the Menadefense website.

Ukrainian sources spread a link to the fundraising for the repair and modernization of a tank, which the Ukrainian Armed Forces captured as a trophy in the Zaporizhzhia direction. They want to collect 750,000 hryvnia, which is a little more than 20,000 dollars. After the repair, this tank is planned to be transferred to the Special Operations Forces of Ukraine.

It is curious that although this tank was called a T-72 in the fundraising post, in fact, the photo shows a T-62M tank. So (contrary to popular belief), these tanks are quite effective and useful for both sides.

A video surfaced showing a Ukrainian T-64BV tank entangled in broken power lines and the crew putting in some effort to get through. This raises the question of why in the course of the current conflict, neither side has used an inconspicuous wire or a tangled mesh. Such wire, unrolled in the grass, is almost invisible from a tank, but quite capable of stopping it. Tracks entangled in the wire have to be manually disentangled, which is not an easy task in field conditions.

Estonia decided to supply all its towed artillery to Ukraine, leaving itself only with self-propelled guns.

A Telegram channel of separatists from the "LPR" posted photos showing the aftermath of a strike on an electrical substation in the occupied town of Zolote. A GMLRS rocket is claimed to be the cause, which cannot be confirmed from the pictures provided. Recall that a strike on civilian infrastructure is a war crime.

Pro-government “military correspondent” Alexander Sladkov, citing his source in the military (actually, his military friend — CIT), writes that the number of military vehicles destroyed by the Russian Army is sufficient to form 23 armies or the entire NATO force. And the casualties the Army has suffered aren’t totaled in millions. Given the huge audience of Sladkov, it will not be surprising if this quote goes viral and the supporters of the war soon start sharing a sentiment of this type, “Yes, we failed to capture Ukraine in 5 days, but we crushed the entire NATO force almost without losses."

Olga Romanova, Executive Director of the civil rights movement Rus’ Sidyashchaya [Russia Behind Bars], claims that, according to their estimate, about 42,000 convicts were recruited by the end of December (by now, perhaps, more than 50,000), of which only 10,000 are now at the front, the rest are killed, wounded, missing, deserted or surrendered. We have no data to confirm or deny these numbers.

Journalists of the Rotonda media outlet identified another convict who was set at liberty after the end of his contract with the Wagner Group. Anton Ionov nicknamed “Syapa” was part of Motya’s gang, which was engaged in extortion, robbery and drug trafficking in several areas of the Leningrad region in 2008-2015. He used to torture an entrepreneur with boiling water and was considered the right hand of Oleg Matveyev, the leader of the gang. The gang’s members were detained in Dec. 2015 as a result of a special-forces raid. In Jul. 2018, Ionov was sentenced to 11 years in a maximum security penal colony.

The RBC media outlet, citing sources in the Russian Ministry of Defense, reports that the commanders were replaced in two military districts of Russia. Lieutenant General Yevgeny Nikiforov was appointed the commander of the Western Military District (Ukrainian intelligence reported this appointment in Dec. 2022), and Colonel General Sergey Kuzovlyov became the commander of the Southern Military District. Kuzovlyov commanded the Western Military District (actually, Central Military District — CIT) after Colonel General Aleksandr Lapin, and in July 2022 he was appointed acting commander of the Southern Military District. It is unlikely that this reshuffle of command will influence the course of the war.

The security of the US company Raytheon, which produces weapons and military vehicles (for example, the Patriot SAM and the Stinger MANPADS), during the verification of candidates for employment are now trying to find out if they play the War Thunder video game.

Fans of this game in the heat of a dispute, trying to prove something to their opponents, reveal classified technical information sometimes. For example, in 2021, the story of the publication of the Challenger 2 tank technical documentation became widely known (in fact, there are a lot of such stories -— CIT).