January 5, 2023

Sitrep for January 4–5 (as of 10:00 a.m.)

We express our gratitude to the residents of Ukraine, who reported that there is still green grass in some areas of different Ukrainian cities and towns right now, in the middle of winter, proving it with photos and videos. Thus, this information additionally confirmed the relevance of the video showing the strike on the location of the Russian motor rifle brigade in the Zaporizhzhia region.

The situation on the frontline

A fresh video showing RuAF strikes on Ukrainian positions with a BM-21 Grad MLRS has appeared.

OSINT analyst Def Mon geolocated it 2.5 km northwest of Dibrova (Kreminna axis), which means that this settlement is still under the control of Russian forces.

The Wall Street Journal published an article stating (based on information from the Ukrainian command and British intelligence) that Russian forces decided to “shift some of their firepower” from Bakhmut to Soledar, since the attack on Bakhmut has proven unsuccessful and led to heavy losses.

This statement seems rather strange to us, since we have repeatedly noted that Bakhmut can hardly be captured head-on. Such a town can only be seized by cutting off its supply, surrounding it (at least partially) and thereby forcing the enemy to retreat. To cut off Bakhmut's supply routes, one must, among other things, capture Soledar. Russian forces have been attacking this city for quite some time, as part of the strategy to capture Bakhmut, so, in our opinion, "shift" is not quite the right word for the situation. However, strengthening the pro-Russian forces on this axis with several battalions of paratroopers has recently been reported.

Ukrainian forces continue to hit Russian military targets in the occupied southern regions of Ukraine. The strikes are reported in Tokmak, Melitopol, Berdiansk, Polohy, and Vasylivka.

The official Telegram channel of the Russian Defense Ministry has published an obituary of Aleksandr Seikaev, Major of the Medical Service, who was reportedly killed as a result of the strike on the central district hospital building in Tokmak on Jan. 3. We have not seen visual evidence of this strike yet.

According to Yevgeny Balitsky, pro-Russian governor of the occupied part of the Zaporizhzhia region, 5 people were killed and 15 more injured, including four EMERCOM officers, in a strike on the village of Vasylivka.

Photos of the destroyed Grand Prix recreation center in the occupied village of Pravi Sahy in the Kherson region, where probably Russian military personnel were located, have appeared. Previously, Russian volunteer fighter Pyotr Lozhkovoy regularly posted photos with geotags on his social media accounts.

It is quite possible that thanks to these photos, the base of the Russian soldiers was geolocated for the strike. There has been no official confirmation from the Russian Defense Ministry yet.

It became known about another use of thermite incendiary munitions in the Kherson region. The shooting was done at night, so it is impossible to geolocate yet.

It is interesting that despite the fairly frequent use of thermite incendiary munitions, we have not seen evidence that they caused significant damage. Perhaps their use in modern cities is not very effective.

Mediazona [independent Russian media outlet] and the BBC’s Russian Service published the number of dead mobilized people as of the end of the year (before the incident in Makiivka). According to open data, Mediazona journalists counted 533 deaths, while the BBC Russian Service counted 538. More than 500 of them were killed in action. However, this number reflects no more than 40-60 percent of those actually killed. (Firstly, it does not include the missing mobilized who have not been officially declared dead yet. Secondly, obituaries have been published with some delay   CIT).

Many pro-Russian Telegram channels claim that the formation of units entirely from mobilized soldiers leads to such sad consequences as the incident in Makiivka. At the same time, the Armed Forces of Ukraine act differently: a combat unit with regular soldiers that has suffered losses is replenished with mobilized ones.

Vadym Skibitskyi, representative of the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, said that, according to Ukrainian intelligence, Russia is now capable of producing about 30 Kh-101 missiles and from 15 to 20 Kalibr missiles per month, which is about 50 high-precision cruise missiles.

Yevgeny Prigozhin [Russian oligarch, the confidant of Vladimir Putin and owner of the Wagner Group] told about the death of his employee from the RIA FAN [Russian media outlet linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin] Kirill Romanovsky on Jan. 4. Many journalists know Romanovsky for the story of the murder of Russian journalists Aleksandr Rastorguev, Orkhan Dzhemal and Kirill Radchenko in the Central African Republic in 2018. We agree with the conclusions of the Dossier Center [former Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky's investigative project] and believe that mercenaries of the Wagner Group at least were directly involved in this murder, and most likely they were the ones who killed the journalists.

Aleksandr Kots [Russian propagandist and “war correspondent”], claimed that Romanovsky had a brain tumor and there was a relapse in Afghanistan in 2021, which caused his death.

The Fighterbomber Telegram channel, associated with Russian military aviation, has published a photo like “our response to the JDAM”.

The Joint Direct Attack Munition [JDAM] is a device that converts unguided aerial bombs into precision-guided munitions that can glide and precisely aim at a target. We do not see in this photo where the navigation equipment for targeting and flight adjustment could be hidden; perhaps only wings are mounted to this bomb for gliding.

France will provide Ukraine with AMX-10RC heavy armored fighting vehicles. At the behest of Le Figaro, many media outlets called these vehicles light tanks, which is not true.

To be considered a tank, it needs, first of all, a tracked chassis to improve its cross-country efficacy, and second, much thicker armor (these vehicles are lightly armored, at the level of BMP-1 or BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles).

The shipments of these armored vehicles are important because they are equipped with quite powerful 105mm guns. This is the first time we have seen the delivery of land-based equipment with weapons of such a large caliber. Although it would be even better if BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles were provided, because, in addition to the 100mm caliber gun, these vehicles have a twin 30mm caliber gun, tracked chassis and can carry personnel. But still, any means of mechanization, especially with such weapons, is better than their absence.

The upcoming shipments of Bradley armored fighting vehicles (though they are widely called armored personnel carriers) are also on the table. The main difference between infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers is that personnel carriers, as a rule, are only armed with machine guns, so they do not have superior firepower to support infantry in battle; they can only bring infantry closer to the line of contact. But fighting vehicles have much more powerful guns and provide fire support for advancing infantry. According to this criterion, Bradley, armed with a 25mm gun, is an infantry fighting vehicle.

Yet, It would be better to supply them, for example, to Greece, and in return to provide Ukraine with BMP-1, which the Ukrainian military are familiar with, and for which they have spare parts. But, apparently, a decision has been made on direct shipments. We believe that Bradley vehicles will appear on the front lines after some time spent on training Ukrainian soldiers to operate them. It is also necessary to build additional supply chains for provisioning of spare parts and service for Bradley AFVs.

France will reportedly transfer Bastion wheeled armored personnel carriers to Ukraine. Probably, these deliveries are the result of the visit of the Minister of the French Armed Forces to Ukraine.

Photos and videos of the first recorded destruction of a Russian T-90S tank (the export version of a Т-90 tank) have appeared.

Norway delivered 10,000 155mm shells to Ukraine from the Norwegian Army stocks.

The Armed Forces of Ukraine already have Slovenian M-55S tanks in service. This is a modernized version of a Soviet T-55 tank.

It is highly likely that today we will not have enough data for a full-fledged summary on mobilization again, so it will be released tomorrow.

Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksiy Danilov suggests that Russia is preparing for an escalation in Feb. 2023.

In assessing Russia's further possible actions, we will now fully focus on the second wave of mobilization: when it starts, what format it will be, how many people will be drafted. This will clarify the future plans of the Russian command.

Today is Jan. 5, and there are less than two months left before the anniversary of the start of the full-scale invasion, but it seems too short a time for recruiting and training new mobilized soldiers and achieving any significant results with their help. At most, in case of a large-scale mobilization, they can announce a new offensive on Kyiv, Chernihiv or Sumy. Our team does not exclude escalation from the Russian side, especially based on what many Ukrainian officials are talking about. But for now, we are waiting for the second wave of mobilization.