January 30, 2023

Sitrep for January 28-30 (as of 2:00 p.m.)

The situation on the frontline

The Vuhledar direction, where active fighting continues, is still the most important one; there are a lot of videos filmed by both sides. One of them shows a strike on a Russian T-80BVM tank, on which experts noticed additional ERA blocks. This means that newly upgraded tanks are immediately sent to the battlefield (the first tank of this modification was seen in 2022). This is confirmed by mobilized soldiers and pro-Russian military correspondents, who say that losses in military vehicles are compensated with new units.

In the area of Vuhledar, the 72nd Separate Mechanized Brigade of the AFU repels the attacks of the 40th and 155th Naval Infantry Brigades as well as the 36th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade of the RuAF.

Ukrainian sources posted a video showing a soldier of the 72nd Separate Mechanized Brigade of the AFU finishing off Russian WIAs in a trench, following the instructions received by radio. This is definitely a war crime, and it is not the first time that this type of war crime has been committed by both sides.

The video clearly shows that the WIAs are lying and are not going to resist. Besides, the order to finish them off given to the Ukrainian soldier by radio leaves no doubt about the correct interpretation of the situation. It is unlawful to finish off wounded enemy soldiers. Even if one cannot see the hands of a WIA who might be holding a hand grenade, they should try to take him at gunpoint carefully and capture him. If safe capture is not possible, one had better leave a wounded enemy lying and keep moving.

A pro-Russian Telegram channel published a video and information that the 36th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade of the RuAF had arrived in the area of Vuhledar. In addition, according to the Voenny Osvedomitel [Military Informant] pro-Russian Telegram channel, the RuAF use a 9K515 Tornado-S MLRS (although, in our opinion, there are no distinguishing signs that it is this MLRS that was used). This Telegram channel also published photos from the village of Lymany (Mykolaiv region), where a fragment of a 9M544 Tornado-S MLRS rocket was found, but it is unclear when the munition was used.

In the direction of Kreminna, Russian troops continue to shoot video reports — now near Dibrova, which has returned to Russian control. A video published by Pervyi kanal [Channel One, Russian state-owned television channel] showed a BMPT Terminator tank support combat vehicle and an interview with the unit's commander wearing a bear's paw shoulder patch, indicating that the unit belongs to the 3rd Army Corps.

The Wagner Group announced on Jan. 28 that it had captured Blahodatne, just north of Bakhmut and northwest of Soledar (earlier this settlement had already been exposed to fire by Russian troops). It has already been confirmed with photos and videos. Blahodatne's importance comes from its location on Bakhmut — Siversk highway. Due to this, the supply road to Bakhmut has been cut off (roads to Sloviansk and Kostiantynivka are still accessible).

On Jan. 29, Russian artillery shelled Kherson, killing three people. Several shells hit a regional hospital, resulting in casualties among the medical staff.

On the evening of Jan. 29, Russian forces attacked Kharkiv. A residential building was hit downtown killing an elderly woman and injuring three more people. According to reports, it was the result of an S-300 missile strike.

Ukrainian forces hit a railway bridge in Starobohdanivka, located between Melitopol and Tokmak. It lies on the railroad line that runs from Crimea through Chonhar to Melitopol and then towards Volnovakha through the occupied southern parts of Ukraine. We have already explained earlier why Russian forces now need to advance on Vuhledar and on the Zaporizhzhia axis near Orikhiv in order to secure their supply by rail.

On Jan. 28, a strike was made on a hospital in the occupied Novoaidar in Luhansk region. Our volunteers have gathered additional information on this strike and have proven that the hospital was used by the Russian military. Footage of the aftermath of the strike has been geolocated. This hospital is the only medical facility in the area and consists of several buildings. Apparently, the military hospital was the initial target. The Russian Ministry of Defense claims that as a result of the strike, 14 people were killed and 24 others were injured.

According to an interview with a Russian soldier, they arrived in Novoaidar on Mar. 1 and established a military hospital based on a functioning hospital. Despite the fact that the hospital was used by the military, such attacks are also considered war crimes.

On the evening of Jan. 28, Ukrainian forces attacked the railway station in Ilovaisk. Some Ukrainian sources claim that the strike was allegedly carried out on a train with troops and military vehicles that arrived at the station, but there is no evidence of this, and we do not expect it to appear.

The Financial Times published an article titled "Will tanks set up Ukraine for a spring offensive?", for which the authors interviewed a number of foreign and Ukrainian military experts. One of the most well-known Western experts on the Russian Armed Forces, Michael Kofman, believes that the Armed Forces of Ukraine have lost their advantage in manpower, so this year the supply of military vehicles for Ukraine, primarily infantry fighting vehicles and secondly tanks, will be crucial.

Ukraine’s National Institute for Strategic Studies expert Mykola Bielieskov notes that the number of tanks required for Ukraine’s spring counteroffensive depends on the situation on the battlefield. If Russia conducts a massive offensive and advances deeper into Ukrainian territory, its forces will take significant casualties and Ukraine will need fewer tanks to counterattack.

Rob Lee, Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, believes that one of the major factors in this war is the capacity to move troops across open areas safe from artillery strikes, fragments and mines. Therefore, shipments of Bradley and Marder infantry fighting vehicles, Stryker armored personnel carriers and other similar vehicles are more important than those of Leopard tanks.

There is a video filmed by the 36th Motorized Rifle Brigade near Vuhledar showing infantry moving across open terrain at a fairly high speed in order to avoid ATGM or artillery fire. When troops are leaving the vehicles, they need fire support.

Photos have been published showing Ukrainian servicemen having arrived in the UK to study Challenger 2 tanks operating.

Olaf Scholz said that Germany would not transfer modern fighter jets to Ukraine, so as not to "raise the stakes."

At the same time, Germany announced the supply of 64 tractors and 72 semi-trailers. Most likely, they are SLT 50-3 Elefant heavy duty tractor units and tank transporters. It is also planned to ship 7 Gepard SPAAG by February.

Today we have published an article on the mobilized servicemen killed in the strike on Makiivka. Our team analyzed what leads to such incidents and why we believe that this will happen again.