January 29, 2023

Sitrep for January 27-28 (as of 2:00 p.m.)

The situation on the frontline

The most intense combat activities are still going on in the Vuhledar direction. The 40th and 155th Naval Infantry Brigades of the RuAF from the Primorsky region fighting there. Ukrainian forces filmed a video showing a landscape that looks almost like a lunar one — the entire area pitted with shell craters. More than two dozen KIAs can also be seen lying in them (the fighting seems to be as deadly as it was in Pavlivka).

There was a video showing Russian BMP-3 IFVs demonstrating correct combat tactics: the vehicles drive up to a forest line, drop the infantry and drive off to the side to support them with fire. This is how IFVs (including the Bradley and the Marder) should be used, unlike a BTR and an M113 APCs, usually armed with a machine gun, not a cannon.

The RuAF carried out a precision strike on a building in Vuhledar, which was said to house Ukrainian servicemen. According to some sources, it was hit with a 2K25 Krasnopol laser-guided artillery shell; others believe that a more powerful projectile was used.

In our opinion, combat activities involving "elite" marines and the use of high-precision projectiles emphasize the importance of the Vuhledar direction for the Russian command (we discussed the strategic goals of pushing the AFU away from Vuhledar in yesterday's sitrep).

Pro-Russian Telegram channels posted a video showing Ukrainian POWs captured by the 40th Naval Infantry Brigade during the assault on Ukrainian positions in the area of Vuhledar. The video contains an appeal by the tank company commander, Hero of Russia Ruslan Markizovich Kurbanov, who says that the AFU soldiers fought heroically and had to surrender only after the Russian marines managed to take them in the rear. He also urges both sides to observe the laws and customs of war regarding the treatment of POWs.

Of course, nothing prevents them from changing their attitude towards POWs after the video has been recorded. However, based on the experience of watching the RuAF soldiers, Wagner PMC mercenaries, and the so-called DPR and LPR separatists' actions and behavior, it appears that specifically contract soldiers most commonly show the most proper attitude towards the enemy, while volunteer-separatists and mercenaries were not trained to follow such rules and principles.

Those in the command, in addition, don’t bear responsibility for unlawful actions of their personnel (investigation in regard to the video where some serviceman inflicted injuries to a Ukrainian fighter revealed that the crime was committed by a volunteer from the Akhmat volunteer unit, which was formed in the Chechen Republic [Russia’s constituent republic] but primarily consisting not of the republic’s inhabitants [Chechens]).

The observation of Russian military personnel indicates that they are starting to actively commit war crimes (especially against civilians) while under significant psychological pressure due to constant shelling: for example, the number of such crimes in the Kherson direction is noticeably lower than in the Kyiv region. At the same time, the Wagner Group mercenaries essentially lack military training and skills to deal with prisoners of war (while Yevgeny Prigozhin puts efforts to create a socially acceptable image of his fighters).

The 76th Airborne Division continues to operate in the Kreminna direction. Numerous videos demonstrate shooting in some direction with no return fire, moreover, some circumstances indicate that trees are their only enemy. As pointed out by the Telegram channel “Nam pishut iz Yaniny” [ENG: They are writing from Ioannina], a minimal field fortification protects against such fire from 30mm cannons.

For the past few months, the 76th Airborne Division has put effort into improving its media image.

Note that in this region, there is snow under the trees, which confirms our assumption that the video of the hit on the Ukrainian S-300PS air defense system from yesterday's sitrep is irrelevant.

A video from the Donetsk region has been published with the consequences of an MRAP armored vehicle explosion, which also shows lying snow.

On the morning of Jan. 28, Russian forces attacked Kostiantynivka in the Donetsk region. The impact killed three people and wounded at least two others; four high-rise buildings, a hotel, garages, and civilian vehicles were damaged. Kostiantynivka is an important settlement as along the highway from there, Bakhmut is supplied from the south.

The BBC Russian Service and Mediazone, together with a team of volunteers, have updated the numbers of Russian casualties. Based on open sources, they confirmed the death of 12.5 thousand Russian soldiers, 823 of them were mobilized (we remind you that these figures reflect 40-60% of actual losses). In 10 days since the release of the previous data, 876 names have been added to the summary, and 179 of them were mobilized. They also confirmed the death of 458 convicts recruited by the Wagner Group.

Speaking yesterday about a saboteur who set fire to a relay cabinet at a railway station in the Bryansk region and was placed under administrative arrest as a punishment, we suggested that during this administrative arrest, the investigation would prepare materials for initiating a criminal case, for example, on terrorism. What happened: a criminal case was initiated against him, article 281 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. He is being charged with “sabotage” with a penalty of up to 15 years in jail.

The United States has imposed sanctions on the Chinese space company Changsha Tianyi Space Science and Technology Research Institute Co. for selling satellite radar images to the Wagner Group.

Belgium has prepared a 92 million euro military aid package for Ukraine. It includes missiles for NASAMS air defense systems, Mistral air defense systems, anti-tank missiles, machine guns, grenades, ammunition, trucks, and armored SUVs. Part of the aid will be provided from the country's own warehouses, with the rest purchased from private companies.

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius stated that Germany is approaching the limit of its capabilities to supply tanks to Ukraine (it is not entirely clear what he meant exactly since the first tank from Germany is yet to arrive in Ukraine).

Another interim military support package is sent to Ukraine by Germany. The delivery includes missiles for IRIS-T air defense systems, trucks, tractors, and pickups.

Italy and France intend to provide Ukraine with modern SAMP/T air defense systems completed with Aster-30 anti-aircraft missiles, totaling 800 million euros. These missiles have technical characteristics comparable to those of the S-300P complexes and are capable of intercepting aircraft within a 100 km radius and missiles at up to 25 km distance.

A video recording has surfaced of one of yesterday's strikes. Some consider this to be evidence of the use of Iranian ballistic missiles; however, a stabilizing parachute utilized by Smerch, Tornado-S or Tornado-G MLRS rockets can be seen and heard on the video. The fact of the Tornado-S usage would be substantial. They are long-range precision-guided munitions able to hit in a 120km range (farther than HIMARS MLRS GMLRS projectiles), but it appears they were not produced in a significant number; therefore, they are used rarely.

A video of a "tank centipede." As can be seen, even two tanks are barely enough to evacuate the third one in such road conditions.