January 4, 2023

Sitrep for January 3–4 (as of 3:00 p.m.)

The Russian Ministry of Defense published new data on the incident in Makiivka: according to the updates, 89 people were killed.

CBS correspondent David Martin reports that, according to the US, between 200 and 500 people were injured as a result of the strike on Makiivka. According to an official American source, there was also an ammunition depot in the building where Russian mobilized soldiers and other military personnel were deployed, which led to additional destruction.

Our estimate remains the same: about 100 killed and 200-300 wounded.

In different cities of Russia (Samara, Tolyatti, Syzran and Novokuibyshevsk) mourning ceremonies were held in memory of those killed as a result of this strike.

The Russian Ministry of Defense stated that two HIMARS MLRS, and a lot of other military vehicles were destroyed, as well as 120 Ukrainian servicemen were killed with return fire on the accumulation of enemy manpower and military vehicles in the area of the Druzhkivka railway station in the "DPR". There is no confirmation of this statement though.

“Mattresses” in the photos taken inside the Altair ice arena in Druzhkivka turned out to be heat-insulating material. A lot of water canisters can also be seen there — the building, most likely, was used as a humanitarian aid warehouse.

The situation on the frontline

Fighting continues around Kupiansk, Svatove, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Kreminna, but neither side has advanced so far. Every day we monitor the latest weather forecasts in the area of the most active combat activities. Starting from the weekend, the temperature in the area of Kreminna is expected to stay below zero, so changes on the frontline might occur as early as next week.

Ukrainian forces continue to strike Russian military targets on the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia axes in the settlements of Velyki Kopani, Kostohryzove, Hola Prystan, and Tokmak.

On Dec. 27, a video of the aftermath of a strike on the command post of the 37th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade of the RuAF on the Zaporizhzhia axis appeared. Even though the green grass in the video looks suspicious, it was actually filmed on the date indicated. An obituary was published for Senior Lieutenant Khyshikto Nikolaevich Danzhurov from this brigade, killed on Dec. 27. Thus, another Ukrainian effective strike on a Russian military facility has been confirmed.

On Jan. 3, in the village of Novy Oskol, Belgorod region, a strong fire on the territory of a military facility broke out. Local residents claim that a secondary detonation was heard.

The pro-Russian Telegram channel Zapiski Veterana [Veteran’s Notes] first reported that a military camp site and an ammunition depot of one of the units had burned down, but later corrected itself stating that a non-residential building in the industrial zone was on fire.

On Jan. 3, air defense worked in Rostov. Local residents reported 3 or 4 explosions in the air. We believe that the reports were from Rostov-on-Don as the command post of the Southern Military District, which has become the headquarters of the "special operation" and was visited by Vladimir Putin in December, is located there.

The official version (“a small object in the form of a ball flying freely with the wind was detected at an altitude of 2.5 kilometers”) gives us doubts, since balloons, Chinese lanterns and other similar objects of small size and moving at low speed do not arouse suspicion when they are detected by air defense radars.

Military expert Konrad Muzyka, director of Rochan Consulting, continues to monitor the activity of Belarusian and Russian forces on the territory of Belarus. He studied in detail the situation with the 969th tank reserve base in Urechye. Analyzing satellite images and open data, he came to the conclusion that from Jul. 30, 2022 to the present moment, 21 T-72 tanks, 59 BMP-1 and BMP-2 IFVs, 77 BTR-80 APCs, 35 units of other armored vehicles and 58 trucks were taken from there. Belarusian tanks in the mobilization reserve are probably better prepared for use than the Russian ones.

A video with a modernized Czech 152mm DANA-M2 self-propelled gun has appeared. The author of the video claims that this type of vehicle will soon go to Ukraine.

We would like to see more modernized military vehicles and eliminate shortcomings of the artillery pieces that Western partners supplied to Ukraine so that howitzers and self-propelled guns do not go out of operation as quickly and often as they do now, but operate longer.

A video of the flight of a Ukrainian Su-25 over Kramatorsk was filmed.

Recall that the United States refused to supply Ukraine with A-10 Thunderbolt attack aircraft, citing their low flight altitude and low speed, as a result of which they can be shot down quite easily. However, Su-25 aircraft have similar characteristics and continue to operate near the line of military contact after 10 months of a full-scale invasion.

Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ignat says that in the first two days of 2023, Ukrainian air defense destroyed 100% of the drones used by Russian forces to strike on Ukraine – 84 in total. Some believe that shooting down all the drones with new Western systems is very expensive for Ukraine, especially when compared with the cost of these drones. However, we believe that it is incorrect to compare the cost of a missile for shooting down a drone with the cost of the drone itself. It is more correct to compare the cost of a drone (or a missile) with the cost of damage that the drone can cause.

Germany is open to using Russian frozen assets to help Ukraine rebuild as long as legal issues can be resolved and allies follow suit.

Andrey Gurulyov, member of the State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia] Defense Committee, says that in the next six months there are no prerequisites for a second wave of mobilization. According to him, not all previously mobilized people are involved on the front line.

We do not agree with the assertion that the Russian troops still have enough forces, because, in addition to rotation, it is necessary to replenish troops that have suffered losses, and this replenishment should not come from reserves, but through a new wave of mobilization. We see that now the Russian forces are barely enough to hold positions in the Donetsk region, and if the Armed Forces of Ukraine counterattack in the Zaporizhzhia direction, then even more forces will be needed.

Aleksandr Kots [Russian propagandist] wrote a post about mobilization. According to him, there are two extremes in the preparation of mobilized soldiers. At the beginning, some of the mobilized men were immediately sent to the front line without training, because of which they were killed quickly. Now, mobilized soldiers are trained for a long time and at a good level, but then they are assigned tasks that they were not trained for. Kots cites the story of the 640th Separate Howitzer Battalion consisting of mobilized soldiers from the Saratov region and Bashkortostan [Russia’s constituent republic]. They were trained as artillerymen, and when they arrived in the combat zone it turned out that artillerymen were not needed there, but assault infantry, so they would fight as infantry. Since infantry needs a completely different type of training, there will also be heavy casualties among these mobilized soldiers.

One of the pro-Russian Telegram channels posted a photo with the description saying “Performing various kinds of tasks requires mobility. Therefore, fighters often buy cars from the local population. In most cases, these are Soviet cars. Some cars are then taken away by the military police / commandant's office due to lack of proper documents. So, get your paperwork done correctly.”

We didn't release a mobilization summary yesterday because we didn't have enough content. Today's summary covers a 2-day period.