January 25, 2023

Sitrep for January 24-25 (as of 2:30 p.m.)

The situation on the frontline

Over the past 10 days, combat activities have been intensifying almost along the entire frontline.

In the Svatove direction, the main fighting is going on near the settlements of Novoselivske and Kuzemivka. After the arrival of reinforcements, the RuAF seized the initiative and are currently trying to dislodge the AFU from Novoselivske.

A similar situation has developed near Kreminna, where Russian forces pursue attempts to push the AFU away from the town. Based on geolocated videos of RuAF positions in Dibrova, OSINT analyst Def Mon marked them on the map as well as ones of the AFU.

In a forest near Kreminna, the 76th Guards Air Assault Division use a BMPT [Terminator] tank support fighting vehicle in combat. As far as we know, very few BMPT vehicles [about 10 units] were delivered to the RuAF. It is rather difficult to judge their effectiveness based on the videos available: there have been no videos showing these vehicles in combat before.

There have been first reports about intensified fighting in the Vuhledar direction. The 155th Guards Naval Infantry Brigade from the Primorsky region, which had previously captured Pavlivka, began to advance toward Vuhledar.

On the Zaporizhzhia axis, the 58th Combined Arms Army of the RuAF pursues offensive attempts in the Orekhiv direction. Various sources (including pro-Russian ones) report that Ukrainian forces managed to repulse the attack there.

In the Bakhmut direction, the situation has not changed much: the RuAF continue to attack Rozdolivka, Krasna Hora, and Bakhmut. Particularly heavy fighting is going on around Klishchiivka now.

There was a video, presumably showing Wagner Group mercenaries in the trenches at the former AFU positions under fire of the Ukrainian forces trying to knock them out. The video was filmed to the northwest of Klishchiivka, which has already been completely captured. Pro-Russian forces are trying to advance towards the Bakhmut — Kostiantynivka highway.

The trenches, presumably belonging to Wagner Group mercenaries, have been dug in a wrong way — in a straight line, which means much more soldiers will be killed or wounded with fragments if the trench is hit, while zigzag trenches are designed to minimize such damage. We regularly see examples of poor skills of the RuAF in building proper fortifications, while the AFU are better at it.

The details of yesterday's report of the Russian Defense Ministry on the Ukrainian Forces' attempt to force the Dnipro River have emerged. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, 6 BMP infantry fighting vehicles, 3 boats, and up to 100 servicemen were destroyed. Later, the Defense Intelligence of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry reported that on the night of Jan. 23-24, a special operations group conducted a reconnaissance raid into the rear of the Russian Armed Forces near Nova Kakhovka due to cooperation with local partisans. As a result of this raid, the group managed to detect the number and location of Russian reserves in the area, took a prisoner, destroyed a command post, 12 servicemen, and a BTR-82A armored personnel carrier. After completing the mission, the group was able to return to the right bank of the Dnipro River.

Supply news

On Jan.25, Olaf Scholz announced that Germany will deliver the first batch (14 vehicles) of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. It should be noted that we are talking about the latest Leopard 2A6 modification, which production started in the 2000s. These tanks are not in storage and will be supplied directly from the Bundeswehr.

The advantages of these tanks are an elongated 120mm cannon, an upgraded fire control system, GPS, and a modern tank information and control system.

It was also announced that the training of Ukrainian soldiers to operate these tanks has started in Germany.

Norway is considering supplying 8 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, and Portugal is preparing to transfer 4 such tanks. Spain has also joined the European tank supply plan.

So far, it is difficult to say in what timeframe all this will happen, especially given the fact that training usually takes about three months.

It is reported that today Joseph Biden is to announce a decision on the supply of Abrams tanks to Ukraine as part of the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. Thus, in the near future, an order will be placed at the manufacturing plant, but the tanks themselves will be produced and delivered to Ukraine not earlier than in a year. Sky News Arabia says that there are ten tanks, while Politico reports of thirty.

As a reminder, delivery of any type of modern Western military vehicles is accompanied by a number of logistical problems, which must be resolved in a timely manner (for example, training of personnel and supplying spare parts). To that extent, some of these problems have no solution — a large number of bridges in Ukraine cannot support the weight of a Challenger tank. Leopard tanks have a significant advantage over Abrams tanks:  there’s a large number of spare parts for them already available in Europe.

An interesting video has surfaced showing an Archer self-propelled artillery system, a number of which have been promised to be sent to Ukraine. It is the latest generation fully automated artillery system, which is able to leave the firing position before the first round (of up to three, as shown in the video) reaches its target. This capability significantly hinders counter-battery fire.

A number of characteristics (ballistics, level of automation) of the Archer system only marginally exceed those of the Krab self-propelled tracked gun-howitzer, a number of which, as has been previously reported, have been struck by loitering munitions. Why has a system with such characteristics been less than perfect? There’re several possible explanations for this. Firstly, it’s possible that Ukrainian soldiers received only limited training on these self-propelled artillery systems and, as a result, are not able to fully utilize their capabilities. Secondly, Western countries supply a very limited number of long-range munitions, leading the Ukrainian Army to operate very close to the frontline, increasing the risk of a successful strike. There’s reason to suspect that the same problems may be encountered with the new Archer systems, especially considering that they can be very easily recognized from the air by a drone, even with a low quality camera.

The First Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations Dmitry Polyanski stated, “We are sending more and more signals that some red lines have been crossed, but, maybe, the most red of them have not yet been crossed.”

Spokesman of the Air Force Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Yuriy Ignat said that Ukraine has come to an agreement with the United States about the type of aircraft that will be supplied to Ukraine. Unfortunately, without context, it is unclear if these deliveries are planned in the near future or with a longer timeframe, when Western partners will be rebuilding Ukraine and rearming the Ukrainian Army. As such, we cannot comment on this statement.

The New York Times reports that the United States is actively investing in the large-scale production of artillery shells for Ukraine. Currently, about 14.4 thousand 155mm shells are being produced per month. By the spring of 2023, it is planned to increase the production to 20 thousand shells, and in two years, it is planned to reach a production scale of 90 thousand shells per month. The U.S. military does not need that many and prefers to use more expensive precision-guided munitions, therefore, the NYT concludes that the U.S. expects the war in Ukraine to continue for a long time.

Yulia Maksimova, director of the Federal Autonomous Institution Roskapstroy, which is subordinate to the Ministry of Construction of the Russian Federation, declared that Azovstal Metallurgical Combine would not be restored because it was "impossible and unprofitable."

Mobilization news

The Legislative Assembly of the Kaluga region submitted two bills to the State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia]. The first one concerns assistance to the military commissariats [enlistment offices] in the mandatory military registration of citizens. It is proposed to make every interaction with the state (registration at the place of residence, obtaining or replacing a driver's license, obtaining or renewing a permit for hunting weapons) require a military ID or a сonscription registration certificate.

The second bill proposes to fine employers if, when concluding an employment contract, they did not request military registration documents from an employee and did not report to a military commissariat.

Russian lawyer and human rights activist Pavel Chikov reports that in 2022 the number of criminal cases related to crimes committed with the use of weapons, ammunition, and explosives increased by 24%. The largest increase occurred in the Central Federal District, while in Moscow it increased by 146% (from 621 criminal cases to 1504). We expect an even greater increase in the number of such crimes in 2023.

Aleksandr Tyutin, sentenced to 23 years for organizing the murder of his competitor's family, was set at liberty after the end of his contract with the Wagner Group and went to Turkey on vacation. Yevgeny Prigozhin [Russian oligarch, confidant of Vladimir Putin, and the owner of the Wagner Group] commented on this in such a way that, in his opinion, ordinary people wanted such convicts to be killed in the war instead of their husbands, sons, and fathers.

The Agentstvo [Agency] independent Russian investigative media outlet, reports that one of the members of the so-called Freedom of Russia Legion, a fighter with the callsign Caesar, was previously a member of the Russian right-wing radical nationalist organization Imperial Legion (associated with the Russian Imperial Movement, which we mentioned the day before yesterday). He became a public personality in the fall of 2022 when after speaking at an event with Ilya Ponomarev [anti-Kremlin Russian politician living in Ukraine] on Aug. 31, he announced himself as a representative of the “Freedom of Russia Legion". An old acquaintance of Caesar confirmed that in early 2010 he was a member of the Imperial Legion, but then he became disillusioned with it because he stopped believing that the legion "could change something and make Russia a great empire." When the war with Ukraine began in 2014, Caesar immediately took the side of Ukraine as a country that was ready to fight for its freedom. This acquaintance ruled out that in 2014 Caesar fought in the Donbas on the pro-Russian side, as other members of the Imperial Legion did.

We believe that there is no “Freedom of Russia Legion”. There were probably former Russian citizens who left for Ukraine in 2014-2015 when it was possible to get into a combat unit (of the Right Sector [right-wing to far-right Ukrainian nationalist organization] or the Azov battalion [volunteer paramilitary militia]). Perhaps the “Freedom of Russia Legion” is part of Ukraine’s Psychological Operations (PSYOPS). Information is regularly leaked that foreign units fighting on the side of Ukraine (the Georgian Legion, the Belarusian Kastuś Kalinoŭski Regiment, and the International Battalion) are operating in a certain direction, their losses are also reported, while the "Freedom of Russia Legion" does not leave any traces and in 11 months had no casualties.