Russo Ukrainian War. Day 322: Heavy fighting for Soledar ongoing

 

Daily review

Article by: Hans Petter Midttun

Heavy fighting for Soledar is ongoing. Russian troops continue attacks on Bakhmut. Pentagon awards $40M ‘Vampire’ contract for Ukraine’s drone defences.

Daily overview — Summary report, January 11, 2023

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 18.00 pm, January 11, 2023 is in the dropdown menu below:

Situation in Ukraine. January 10, 2023. Source: ISW. ~

Situation in Ukraine. January 10, 2023. Source: ISW.

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[Russian occupants continue their full-scale armed aggression against Ukraine. To support the offensive and replenish its losses in manpower, the adversary continues the mobilization activities.]

[Russian forces do not cease to launch missiles and air strikes, and artillery shelling of critical infrastructure and civilian residences on the territory of Ukraine. Doing so is a blatant violation of the rules of International Humanitarian Law, the laws and principles of war.]

Over the past 24 hours, Ukrainian Defense Forces repelled attacks in the vicinities of Hryanykivka (Kherson oblast); Stelmakhivka (Luhansk oblast); Spirne, Rozdolivka, Vesele, Bakhmut, Klischiivka, Mayorsk, Vodyane, Nevels’ke, Krasnohorivka, Marinka, and Prechystivka (Donetsk oblast). 

At the same time, Russian occupiers launched 6 missiles and 16 air strikes; and conducted more than 50 MLRS attacks, that targeted mostly civilian infrastructure of Kharkiv, Donetsk, and Kherson oblasts.

The threat of enemy air and missile strikes remains high across Ukraine. Do not ignore air warning signals.

  • Sivershchyna axis: the vicinities of Senkivka (Chernihiv oblast); and Kucherivka, Oleksandrivka, Pokrovka (Sumy oblast) suffered mortar and artillery attacks.
Kharkiv Battle Map. January 10, 2023. Source: ISW. ~

Kharkiv Battle Map. January 10, 2023. Source: ISW.

  • Slobozhanshchyna axes: Russian occupiers shelled the vicinities of 19 settlements, including Sosnivka, Zelene, Vovchansk, Khatne, Krasne, Lopan’, Krasne Pershe, and Dvorichna (Kharkiv oblast).
  • Kupyansk axis: the vicinities of Vilshana, Orlyanka and Kislivka (Kharkiv oblast); Novoselyvsk and Stelmakhivka (Luhansk oblast) suffered enemy shelling.
  • Lyman axis: Makiivka, Nevs’ke and Chervonopivka (Luhansk oblast); Terny and Serebryanka (Donetsk oblast) came under enemy fire.
  • Bakhmut axis: shelling occurred in the vicinities of Yakovlivka, Bilohorivka, Soledar, Bakhmut, Klishchiivka, Bila Hora, Spirne, Druzhba, and Paraskoviivka (Donetsk oblast).
Donetsk Battle Map. January 10, 2023. Source: ISW. ~

Donetsk Battle Map. January 10, 2023. Source: ISW.

  • Avdiivka axis: Avdiivka, Vesele, Nevelske, Heorgiivka, Maryinka, and Pervomais’ke (Donetsk oblast) were shelled by Russian invaders.
  • Novopavlivka axis: Vremivka, Velyka Novosilka, and Vuhledar (Donetsk oblast) came under enemy fire again.
Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. January 10, 2023. Source: ISW. ~

Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. January 10, 2023. Source: ISW.

  • Zaporizhzhia axis: Russian forces shelled the vicinities of 22 settlements, including Vilne Pole and Novopil (Donetsk oblast); Olhivs’ke, Zaliznychne, Mala Tokmachka, Hulyaipole, Stepove, Shcherbaki, and Biloghirya (Zaporizhzhia oblast).
  • Kherson axis: Russian artillery shelling caused casualties among the civilian population and damage to the civilian infrastructure in 12 settlements along the contact line, including Antonivka, Vesele, Respublikanets, Dniprovs’ke, Dudchany, Mylove, Zolota Balka, and Kherson.

Russian occupation forces exert moral and physical pressure on the population of temporarily occupied and occupied territories. Almost 1,500 employees of Zaporizhzhia NPP, who refused to obtain Russian passports and sign a contract with Rosatom, are denied access to the enterprise. The invaders make efforts to recruit new employees in various regions of the Russian Federation; prepare housing funds for future workers through the so-called “nationalization” of the apartments of local residents who have left.

[The adversary continues to suffer losses. According to the available information, hospitals in the city of Berdyansk (Zaporizhzhia oblast) have exceeded their capacity to take in the wounded. This caused the Russian occupation troops to set up 3 more military hospitals over the past week.]

During the past 24 hours, Ukrainian Air Force launched 14 strikes on enemy concentration areas, as well as 4 strikes on Russian anti-aircraft missile systems.

Ukrainian missile and artillery troops attacked 3 command posts, 2 positions of enemy artillery, and 8 concentrations of enemy troops.

Military Updates

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst. ~

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst.

Heavy fighting is ongoing to hold Soledar – Maliar, Ukrinform reports, citing Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister, Hanna Maliar. “Heavy fighting is going on to hold Soledar. Russian forces do not pay attention to the heavy losses of their personnel and continue an active assault. The approaches to our positions are simply strewn with the bodies of dead enemy fighters, Maliar said.”

Ukraine’s Armed Forces working to exhaust Russians as much as possible on the Soledar front, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Serhii Chrevatyi, spokesman for the Eastern Group of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. “The defenders of Soledar are now doing everything they can to exhaust Russian forces, to reduce their potential as much as possible so that even some of their minor tactical successes [obtained by superior forces and heavy losses – ed.] lead to a major ‘Pyrrhic’ victory.”

In the last 24 hours, the Russians have carried out 86 artillery attacks using various systems on Soledar, Donetsk Oblast, and its outskirts. Bakhmut is currently one of the main fronts of the Russian attack.”

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1612773876097851395

Ukrainian forces hit a Russian military vessel and shoot down 4 UAVs, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “Ukraine’s General Staff has reported that Ukrainian defenders killed about 710 Russian invaders, damaged or sank a Russian military vessel, and destroyed four tanks and four UAVs on 9-10 January.”

The number of fighter jets decreases and new fortifications are built at Engels airfield in Russia, Ukrainska Pravda reported on 9 January, citing investigative project Skhemy (Schemes), referring to Planet Labs satellite images from 7 January. “The number of combat-ready aircraft at Russia’s Engels airfield has decreased significantly over the past month, and protective barriers have also appeared. Satellite images show a decrease in the number of combat-ready bombers at Engels strategic aviation airfield. According to Skhemy, there are only six of them left: four Tu-95s and two Tu-160s. Compared to the pictures taken on 6 December 2022, there were about two dozen such aircraft.

Judging by satellite images, there is also a partially disassembled Tu-95, an IL-76 or IL-78 transport plane and a Tu-154 passenger plane at the airfield. In addition, the satellite recorded protective barriers that appeared next to the runway in the eastern part of the airfield. Skhemy project, citing military experts, suggests that this could serve as protection against debris from a possible detonation of explosive devices.”

According to British Defence Intelligence, (last 48 hours): 

https://twitter.com/DefenceHQ/status/1613115139577860096

  • On 08 January 2023, the Belarussian Ministry of Defence announced a joint Russian-Belarussian tactical flight exercise to be held in the country from 16 January to 01 February 2023.
  • As of 08 January 2023, amateur aircraft spotters noted the arrival of a total of 12 Mi-8 support helicopters and Mi-24 and Ka-52 attack helicopters. With some appearing with ‘Z’ markings, the aircraft landed at Machulishchy Air Base near Minsk.
  • The new deployment of Russian aircraft to Belarus is likely a genuine exercise, rather than a preparation for any additional offensive operations against Ukraine. Although Russia maintains a large number of forces in Belarus, they are mostly involved in training. They are unlikely to constitute a credible offensive force.
  • In the last four days, Russian and Wagner forces have made tactical advances into the small Donbas town of Soledar and are likely in control of most of the settlement. Soledar is 10km north of Bakhmut, the capture of which likely continues to be Russia’s main immediate operational objective.
  • Russia’s Soledar axis is highly likely an effort to envelop Bakhmut from the north, and to disrupt Ukrainian lines of communication. Part of the fighting has focused on entrances to the 200km-long disused salt mine tunnels which run underneath the district. Both sides are likely concerned that they could be used for infiltration behind their lines.
  • Despite the increased pressure on Bakhmut, Russia is unlikely to envelop the town imminently because Ukrainian forces maintain stable defensive lines in depth and control over supply routes.

Losses of the Russian army 

As of Wednesday 11 January, the approximate losses of weapons and military equipment of the Russian Armed Forces from the beginning of the invasion to the present day:

  • Personnel – about 112960 (+490),
  • Tanks – 3094 (+10),
  • Armoured combat vehicles – ‒ 6159 (+5),
  • Artillery systems – 2078 (+5),
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 437 (+3),
  • Air defence means – 217 (+0),
  • Aircraft – 285 (+0),
  • Helicopters – 275 (+0),
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 4826 (+9),
  • Vessels/boats – 17 (+0),
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 1862 (+2),
  • Special equipment – 184 (+1),
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0),
  • Cruise missiles – 723 (+0)

How do the Russian casualties translate? Assuming that the KIA/WIA ratio of 1:3 (which is probably high), the Russian Armed Forces has been cut in half since 24 February. If accurate, this means the mobilisation helps regenerate depleted armed forces to continue warfighting. Its ability to conduct a new offensive would – because of the loss of equipment, knowledge, and experience – be degraded compared to 11 months ago.

Casualties in total Percent of initial invasion force     (190 000) Percent of Russian Armed Forces    (900 000)
452 840 100 % 50,3
KIA 112 960
WIA (1:3) 338 880
POW (approx) 1 000

This is a theoretical model based on the assumption that both the Ukrainian reported casualties and the KIA/WIO ratio are correct. The US has constantly reported smaller but conservative numbers. Two months ago, Pentagon assessed that Russia’s military had seen more than 100,000 of its soldiers killed and wounded in Ukraine.

The expert community has also been deliberating the killed/wounded ratio, many arguing that it is lower than the average of 1:3 due to the weapons employed and inadequate Russian medical services.  Still, if we assume a ratio of 1:2, Russia might still have lost a staggering 37,8% of its pre-invasion military manning.

Russia’s artillery fire rate decreases dramatically, in some places by as much as 75%, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing CNN. “US and Ukrainian officials have said that Russia’s artillery fire has decreased dramatically from its wartime high; in some places, it fell by as much as 75%. US and Ukrainian officials don’t yet have a clear or singular explanation. Russia may be rationing artillery rounds due to low supplies, or it could be part of a broader reassessment of tactics in the face of successful Ukrainian offences.

According to CNN sources, either way, the striking decline in artillery fire is further evidence of Russia’s increasingly weak position on the battlefield nearly a year into its invasion. Representatives of US intelligence believe that Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, is apparently [struggling] to shore up domestic political support.”

Russia not to publish lists of soldiers killed in Makiivka, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing The Insider. “Alexey Vdovin, the military commissar of Samara Oblast in Russia, has said that the lists of Russian conscripts killed in Makiivka (Donetsk Oblast) will not be published. No lists will be published. All information available in military draft offices is personally provided to the family members of servicemen, either upon request or, in the case of a number of servicemen, by the employees of the military draft offices personally.

The lists cannot be made public. Firstly, this is personal data, and secondly, this is, of course, a source of work for foreign intelligence agencies to identify and carry out provocative measures against relatives of servicemen.”

Over 600 Russian agents and spies exposed since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the press office of the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU). “Since the beginning of the full-scale aggression of the Russian Federation, the Security Service has been investigating more than 1,500 criminal proceedings on the facts of treason and espionage. Over 340 of them have been sent to court.

During this period, the SSU exposed more than 600 Russian agents and spies who were conducting intelligence and subversive activities against our state.”

Humanitarian 

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1612765315439394823

Evacuation efforts continue in Kherson, but the city is provided with heat, and water services, Ukrinform reports, citing Deputy Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, Kyrylo Tymoshenko. “Evacuation efforts and humanitarian aid deliveries continue in the city of Kherson. 84% of consumers are connected to heat and water supply services, but the situation across the region is more challenging. According to Tymoshenko, Kherson received the first mobile concrete bomb shelter, and it was installed in the downtown area. In the near future, a few more mobile bomb shelters will be delivered to the city.

Evacuation efforts continue. Over the past four days, 327 civilians have been evacuated, including 42 children and nine people with reduced mobility.

Water supply services have been mostly restored across the city. In the Kherson region, the situation is more challenging, and only 25% of settlements are now provided with water services, Tymoshenko added.”

OHCHR recorded 18,096 civilian casualties in Ukraine as of 10 January. 6,952 were killed (including 431 children) and 11,144 injured (including 810 children).

Environmental

IAEA monitoring missions to arrive at all Ukrainian NPPs, Ukrinform reports. “Ukraine has invited IAEA monitoring missions to all other nuclear power plants, including Chornobyl. The IAEA agreed with this proposal, and in the near future these missions will be deployed at all NPPs, Acting Head of the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine Oleh Korikov said […].

According to Korikov, the main purpose of these missions is to monitor safety amid the military influences that Ukraine and Ukrainian nuclear facilities are currently experiencing. This is how the IAEA will be able to make sure how missile strikes affect the condition of nuclear power plants.”

Belgium to extend the life of two nuclear reactors by 10 years, Reuters reports. “Belgium has reached an agreement with French utility Engie to extend the life of two nuclear reactors by 10 years, the prime minister said on Monday, overturning a plan to exit nuclear power in 2025 as the war in Ukraine has changed energy strategy.

The Doel 4 and Tihange 3 reactors – the newest of Belgium’s seven reactors – were due to close for good in 2025 but will now restart in November 2026 after necessary work and will continue operating for 10 years. Belgium had planned to exit nuclear power entirely in 2025, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has forced the government to rethink plans to rely more on natural gas.

Belgium’s electricity network operator has warned that Belgium would face a significant shortage in the winter of 2026 to 2027 without the nuclear extension.”

Legal 

More than 16,500 people were killed in Ukraine due to Russian aggression, Ukrinform reports. “As a result of the Russian invasion, more than 16,000 people were killed in Ukraine, and more than 1,000 bodies were exhumed from mass graves. According to Ukrinform, the relevant report was issued by the publication ZMINA, referring to the response from the main investigative department of the National Police of Ukraine.

In 2022, as a result of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, 16,502 people were killed. The National Police discovered 21 mass graves in the de-occupied territories, where 1,033 bodies of civilians and soldiers were exhumed, the report says. […] Of which, three mass graves were discovered in the Donetsk region (278 bodies of civilians and 37 bodies of Ukrainian servicemen were exhumed), 14 in Kyiv (177 bodies were exhumed), two in Kharkiv (451 bodies of civilians and 44 bodies of Ukrainian servicemen were exhumed), two in Kherson – (46 bodies were exhumed).

Out of the indicated number, most of the bodies have gunshot wounds and mine blast injuries (it is impossible to specify the exact number of such persons due to the incompleteness of the expert studies intended to establish the causes of death), the report says.

As reported by Ukrinform, law enforcement officers discovered 54 torture chambers and recorded more than 5,000 cases of torture in the liberated territories of Ukraine.”

Twenty-one countries investigating Russia’s crimes in Ukraine – Eurojust, Ukrinform reports, citing LRT. “The vast majority of investigations are conducted in EU countries. Of the 21 countries where interviews are conducted, 14 are EU members. Another four countries, including Ukraine, are in Europe but are not EU members, and three more countries are not part of Europe – the USA, Canada, and Great Britain, President of Eurojust, EU Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation, Ladislav Hamran said during his visit to Lithuania in an interview.

In his opinion, gathering evidence of the main crimes and analyzing them, followed by bringing charges, will be a long journey that will last several years. In Vilnius, the Eurojust President met with the Prosecutor General of Lithuania Nida Grunskienė to discuss the investigation into Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine by a joint investigation group.

The special joint investigation group, which was initially formed by the prosecutor’s offices of Ukraine, Lithuania, and Poland, started working on March 25, 2022. Currently, representatives of seven countries participate in its activities, joined by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court for the first time in history.”

Russians threaten to take property for refusing to switch to roubles in temporarily occupied territories, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing National Resistance Center (NRC). “Russians continue to put pressure on entrepreneurs who continue to use hryvnias [Ukrainian national currency – ed.] in the temporarily occupied territories. Currently, the invaders are threatening entrepreneurs with confiscation of property and seizure of all currency for using the hryvnia. However, people continue to use the legal Ukrainian currency.”

It was reported that the Russians introduced a mandatory rouble zone in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine on 1 January. And so, immediately after the new year, the occupiers began carrying out raids on local entrepreneurs who oppose the introduction of the rouble and continue to use the hryvnia.

Russians are also trying to devalue the hryvnia as much as possible. In particular, exchange rates have been set one to one, and the occupiers charge a 15-20% commission for withdrawing hryvnia from the card.”

453 children were killed, 879 children injured, 13,876 deported by foe forces, and 358 reported missing – the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine reports as of January 10. 3,126 educational establishments are damaged as a result of shelling and bombings, and 337 of them are destroyed fully. 63,391 crimes of aggression and war crimes and 17,461 crimes against national security were registered.

Support

European Commission President on Tanks: Ukraine Should Get All Weapons It Needs, European Pravda reports. “The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, believes that the partners should hand over Western-style battle tanks to Ukraine if it requests them. Von der Leyen made such a statement on Tuesday at a joint briefing with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the head of the European Council Charles Michel.

I have said many times since the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine: I think that Ukraine should get all the necessary military equipment they need and they can handle to defend the homeland. This means, of course, advanced air defence systems, but also other types of advanced military equipment, as long as it is necessary to defend Ukraine, said von der Leyen, answering questions about her position on Western-style tanks for Ukraine.”

Turkey Is Sending Cold War-Era Cluster Bombs to Ukraine, DNYUZ reports. “Turkey began sending Ukraine a form of US-designed, artillery-fired cluster bomb in late 2022 after months of Kyiv pleading with the Biden administration for the munitions, current and former US and European officials familiar with the decision told Foreign Policy, giving Kyiv a powerful—but controversial—weapon to destroy Russian tanks and kill troops on the battlefield

The NATO ally began sending the first batches of so-called dual-purpose improved conventional munitions (DPICMs) in November 2022, which were made during the Cold War era under a co-production agreement with the United States. The weapons are designed to destroy tanks by bursting into smaller submunitions, which can linger on the battlefield for years if they do not immediately explode. Each round scatters about 88 bomblets. The United States is barred from exporting DPICMs under US law because of its high dud rate. 

The move, which Turkey has sought to keep quiet for months, also highlights the high-wire act that Ankara has played throughout the conflict: supporting Ukraine with armed Bayraktar TB2 drones that helped break Russia’s advance on Kyiv and playing diplomatic middleman for the United Nations-brokered deal to export grain from the Ukrainian port of Odesa, all while purchasing Russian weapons for itself and angering NATO in the process. It was not immediately clear if the Turkish surface-to-surface weapons had been used in combat.”

Dan Rice, Special Advisor to the Commander In Chief Ukraine Armed Forces, made the following assessment: “This is likely why the Russian daily casualties have increased exponentially from 100-200/day killed to 600-800/day killed.

Russia’s tactics early in the war were armour out front leading the way, until Javelins started killing all the lead vehicles and stalling convoys. Now Russian infantry lead the way one mile in front of armour. They would get hit with Ukrainian artillery fire, specifically high explosives. But High explosive Ukrainian artillery were like throwing darts at ants. Now with DPICM it’s like using a flame thrower against the whole ant hill.

This is one of the biggest game changers of the war. Russia will not be able to go on any significant offensives into Ukrainian DPiCM- as long as NATO continues to supply it. The US and other NATO countries should follow Turkey’s leadership and supply additional DPiCM to Ukraine.”

Latvia may provide a new batch of Stingers to Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Ināra Mūrniece, the Minister of Defence of Latvia, as reported by European Pravda with reference to Latvia’s Public Broadcasting Service. “Latvia may provide Ukraine with a new batch of Stinger anti-aircraft missile systems at the next Ramstein format meeting and offer training to the Ukrainian military. [….]

In fact, the Ukrainian front is our line of defence, so we are now thinking about how to join the large flow of aid to Ukraine and how to support Ukraine, and how to respond to the request of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the minister said.

We will continue [helping – ed.] with the Stingers, and we will continue even more intensive training of the Ukrainian military in Latvia,” said Mūrniece. The minister also believes that Ukraine highly values UAVs and drones, so Latvia could also continue supplying them.

The next and eighth meeting of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group, or the Ramstein format, will take place on 20 January 2023.”

Canada to buy NASAMS missile defence system for Ukraine, Ukrinform reports. “Canada will purchase a US-made NASAMS missile defence system for Ukraine. According to an Ukrinform correspondent, the news came during the North American Leaders’ Summit in Mexico City on Tuesday, following a meeting between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and US President Joe Biden, CBC News reports.

Trudeau informed Biden that Canada will purchase a National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) for Ukraine, the Canadian Prime Minister’s office said.”

Pentagon awards $40M ‘Vampire’ contract for Ukraine’s drone defences, Defense News reports. “The Pentagon has awarded L3Harris Technologies a $40 million order to send Ukraine “Vampire” counter-drone systems by mid-year, the company announced Monday.

L3Harris said it will install 14 kits onto vehicles the US government provides Ukraine. Vampire, which stands for Vehicle Agnostic Modular Palletized ISR Rocket Equipment, consists of a laser-guided-missile launcher that can quickly be installed in a civilian truck bed.

The kits are meant to allow Ukraine’s ground forces to strike ground targets as well as drones that Russia has been using to hit Ukrainian civilian infrastructure. L3Harris said the contract calls for the company to deliver four systems to the Defense Department by mid-2023 and 10 more by the end of 2023.”

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1612881341405691904

Britain has not yet made a final decision on sending tanks to Ukraine, Downing Street says, Reuters reports. “Britain has not yet made a final decision on whether to send tanks to Ukraine for the first time to help the country fight Russian forces, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesperson said on Tuesday.

The spokesperson said that Britain would continue to coordinate its support with allies after Germany, France and the United States all indicated last week they would provide armoured vehicles to Ukraine.”

Pentagon weighs sending Stryker combat vehicles to Ukraine, Politico reports. “The US is considering sending Stryker armoured combat vehicles to Ukraine in an upcoming aid package to help Kyiv fend off an expected Russian spring offensive, according to two people familiar with the discussion. The news follows the Biden administration’s announcement last week that it will send 50 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, a powerful tracked armoured vehicle that carries an autocannon, a machine gun and TOW missiles.

The Strykers may be part of the next tranche of military aid, according to a Defense Department official, who like others asked for anonymity to discuss internal deliberations ahead of an announcement. The administration could announce the package, with or without Strykers, late next week around the time of the next Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting in Germany. The people stressed that no final decision has been made, and the administration could decide to send the Strykers in a future package instead.

Strykers would be another capability boost for Kyiv’s rapidly growing arsenal and would help meet a critical need for armour, as concerns grow that Russia is planning a second mobilization for a major new offensive in the coming weeks.”

US ready to start training up to 100 Ukrainian soldiers on Patriot systems – Pentagon, Ukrinform reports, citing Pentagon Press Secretary, Brigadier General Pat Ryder. “I can confirm that training for Ukrainian forces on the Patriot air defence system will begin as soon as next week at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, he said.

According to him, the training will prepare approximately 90 to 100 Ukrainian soldiers to operate, maintain and sustain the system over a training course expected to last several months.”

New Developments 

  1. Russia is now fighting NATO in Ukraine, top Putin ally says, ReutersRussian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev is seen by diplomats as one of the major hardline influences on Putin, who has promised victory in Ukraine despite a series of battlefield setbacks. The events in Ukraine are not a clash between Moscow and Kyiv – this is a military confrontation between Russia and NATO, and above all the United States and Britain, Patrushev told the Argumenti i Fakti newspaper in an interview. The Westerners’ plans are to continue to pull Russia apart, and eventually just erase it from the political map of the world, Patrushev said.”
  2. Prompted by Russian aggression, the E.U. and NATO vow new cooperation, The New York TimesNATO and the European Union, in their first joint declaration on security cooperationsince the Russian invasion of Ukraine, underscored on Tuesday the continuing importance of the trans-Atlantic relationship, playing down calls from Paris for more European military independence. Led by the United States, “NATO remains the foundation of collective defence for its allies and essential for Euro-Atlantic security,” the declaration states. While the nations of the European Union should spend more and more cooperatively on military matters and build stronger armies, the declaration said, European efforts should correspond to NATO’s strategy and not be in competition with it. We recognize the value of a stronger and more capable European defense that contributes positively to global and trans-Atlantic security and is complementary to, and interoperable with NATO, the declaration said.”
  3. The free world must help stop Russian aggression and bring the terrorist state to historic defeat – Zelensky, UkrinformThe free world has everything necessary to stop Russian aggression and bring the terrorist state to a historic defeat. And it is important not only for us. It is important for global democracy, and for all those who value freedom. It is even more important now when Russia is gathering forces for another escalation. Together with our partners, we must do – and we are doing! – everything to make it clear to Russia’s masters that no escalation will help them. The defeat of the Russian aggression must remain unalterable, no matter who and what Russia tries to throw into the battle.”
  4. Russia appoints new ground forces chief despite hawks’ disapproval, ReutersRussia has appointed Colonel-General Alexander Lapin as chief of staff of the country’s ground forces, state-owned news agency TASS reported on Tuesday, despite fierce criticism from leading hawks over his performance in Ukraine. Lapin, previously commander of Russia’s central military district, was blasted last October by hawkish allies of President Vladimir Putin after Russian forces were driven out of the city of Lyman in eastern Ukraine, a key logistics hub.”
  5. EU pledges new sanctions on Belarus and Iran for supporting Russia’s war against Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing European Pravda. “The European Union will continue to do everything possible to support the brave people of Ukraine. We will keep pressure on the Kremlin for as long as it takes with a biting sanctions regime. Ursula von der Leyen said Brussels would extend these sanctions to those who support Russia’s war militarily, such as Belarus or Iran. And we will be coming forward with new sanctions against Belarus answering their role in this Russian war in Ukraine, she added.”
  6. Belarus calls the new division formed in Poland an aggressive step, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing European Pravda and the Belarusian state news agency BelTA. “Mariusz Błaszczak, Poland’s Minister of National Defence, announced on 9 January that Poland is to create the 1st Infantry Division of the Polish Legions in the east of Poland. The division will be equipped with tanks purchased from South Korea and the US. Alexander Volfovich, State Secretary of the Security Council of Belarus, has called Polish plans to deploy a new division near the borders with Belarus “an aggressive step“.
  7. Shoigu outlines plans for reform of the Russian Armed Forces, as reported by Ukrainska Pravda, citing General Shoigu’s welcome speechduring a thematic conference call with the leadership of the Russian Armed Forces. “Sergei Shoigu, Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation, has said that Moscow will “develop the nuclear triad”, actively use “artificial intelligence” technologies in the army and revamp how military enlistment offices operate. We will also increase the combat capabilities of the Aerospace Forces, both in terms of the operation of fighters and bombers in the area of operation of modern air defence systems, and in terms of improving unmanned aerial vehicles. Shoigu said that the expansion of the arsenal of modern attack weapons is included in the immediate plans of the Russian authorities.
  8. EU envoy hails Ukraine’s moves to reform the judiciary, ReutersThe European Union’s ambassador to Ukraine said on Tuesday Kyiv was close to reaching a milestone in the reform of its court system, an important step before starting accession talks with the 27-member bloc. Ambassador Matti Maasikas welcomed the expected appointment this week of eight new members of Ukraine’s High Council of Justice — an important body which appoints, dismisses and disciplines judges — as part of reforms of the judiciary. The European Commission, the EU’s executive, made reforming the judiciary one of its main recommendations when it offered Ukraine the status of candidate member last June despite Russia’s invasion.”
  9. Three-quarters of Ukrainians support reforms for joining the European Union, Ukrinform reports, citing the results of the poll “Wartime Diplomacy. “Now that Ukraine received European prospects and candidate status, Ukrainians do not want to stop at what they have achieved – 73% of citizens believe that it is correct that the EU put forward requirements for Ukraine to implement reforms without which the start of negotiations on joining the EU cannot take place. […] 47% confidently say that reforms are in the interests of Ukraine itself and the EU should demand their implementation as soon as possible, the research authors note.”
  10. German minister promises weapons and EU accession help on surprise Ukraine trip, ReutersGermany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock made a surprise visit to the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv near the Russian border on Tuesday, promising more weapons as well as “concrete offers” to help the country’s accession to the European Union.”

https://twitter.com/EuromaidanPress/status/1612712185238544385

Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of  January 10, 2023:

Russian Main Effort—Eastern Ukraine

Wagner Group forces made further gains in Soledar on January 10. Spokesperson for the Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces Serhiy Cherevaty reported that the Wagner Group has concentrated its most capable (likely special operations) forces in Soledar as of January 10. The Wagner Group likely hopes to build on recent marginal tactical gains by committing more elite assets to the area. Geolocated footage posted on January 9 shows Wagner Group forces fighting in central Soledar. A Wagner Group-affiliated Telegram group posted additional footage on January 10 of Wagner Group forces near the city administration building in central Soledar and claimed that the Wagner Group is working to consolidate positions in the area. Certain Russian milbloggers claimed that Wagner Group forces have moved into the western parts of Soledar and that Ukrainian troops have begun withdrawing from the settlement en masse. Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin denied these claims and stated that Ukrainian troops are still fighting fiercely for Soledar. Russian milbloggers also claimed that the Wagner Group is clearing Pidhorodne (just southwest of Soledar) and are moving on Krasna Hora and Paraskoviivka. The Ukrainian General Staff reported continued fighting in other settlements near Soledar, including Bilohorivka and Pidhorodne.

Russian forces continued ground attacks in and around Bakhmut on January 10. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian troops repelled attacks on Bakhmut itself and south of Bakhmut near Klishchiivka (7km southwest), Kurdiumivka (12km southwest), and Mayorsk (20km south). Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian troops are fighting for control of Klishchiivka in order to push north and cut the T0504 Chasiv Yar-Bakhmut highway. A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian troops have advanced to the northern borders of Opytne (3km south of Bakhmut) and are now on the southern outskirts of Bakhmut. Russian sources additionally continued to discuss fierce fighting in the industrial zone on the eastern outskirts of Bakhmut.

Russian forces continued ground attacks along the western outskirts of Donetsk City on January 10. The Ukrainian General Staff stated that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian attacks near Vodiane (on the northwestern outskirts) and Marinka and Pobieda (on the southwestern outskirts). A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian troops attacked from near Novomykhailivka (just south of Donetsk City) toward Pobieda, about 4km directly south of Marinka. The Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) People’s Militia posted footage of the 5th DNR Brigade reportedly striking Ukrainian positions in Marinka. Russian forces did not conduct any claimed or confirmed ground attacks in western Donetsk or eastern Zaporizhzhia oblasts and continued routine fire along the entire Avdiivka-Donetsk City and western Donetsk-eastern Zaporizhzhia oblast frontline.

Russian media reported on January 10 that Colonel General Aleksandr Lapin, former commander of the Central Military District (CMD) and Russian forces in eastern Kharkiv and northern Donetsk oblasts, has been appointed Chief of Staff of the Russian Ground Forces. Russian outlet URA, citing unidentified Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) sources, reported that Lapin took over from Colonel General Vasily Tonkoshkurov as Chief of Staff of the Russian Ground Forces on January 9. It is unclear why Tonkoshkurov was removed from this position and what his next role will be. While official Kremlin and MoD sources have not confirmed the claim, it was widely circulated and responded to as fact among military commentators in the Russian information space. Lapin’s appointment is notably to the position of Chief of Staff of the Russian Ground Forces (also known as the Russian Army), not the Russian Armed Forces as a whole. Army General Valery Gerasimov likely remains Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces. The Chief of Staff of the Russian Army is not a frontline command position, and while Lapin’s specific duties (in the currently fragmented Russian command structure) are unclear, he is unlikely to directly command troops in Ukraine. […]

Lapin’s appointment may alternatively suggest that the Russian MoD increasingly must fill important leadership positions with previously disgraced—or at minimum heavily publicly criticized—general officers. Former Russian Eastern Military District (EMD) commander Colonel-General Alexander Chaiko, who led failed Russian efforts to take Kyiv in the early stages of the war, went on to serve as commander of Russian Armed Forces in Syria after he was replaced following the Kharkiv counteroffensive. Colonel General Andrei Serdyukov, former commander of the Russian airborne forces (VDV) who was reportedly dismissed due to the poor performance of Russian paratroopers, now appears to have replaced Chaiko as commander of the Russian grouping in Syria. The Russian MoD appears to be using previously disgraced and unpopular general officers to fill other, non-frontline command roles, suggesting that there is a systemic lack of general officers more suited to these positions.

The news of Lapin’s appointment generated further schisms in the already-fragmented pro-war Russian information space. Former militant commander and prominent milblogger Igor Girkin stated that Lapin’s new role must be a “misunderstanding” because Russian forces under Lapin’s command suffered major losses in Kharkiv Oblast. Girkin concluded that Lapin represents a “boorish” attempt by the MoD to demonstrate their invulnerability. A Wagner Group-affiliated Telegram group claimed that Lapin was also responsible for the disastrous May 5, 2022, Bilohorivka river crossing and additionally blamed Lapin for the loss of Lyman. Other milbloggers responded more neutrally or even positively, with one suggesting that it was not Lapin but Lieutenant General Roman Berdnikov who was responsible for the loss of Lyman. A pro-Kremlin milblogger credited Lapin with stabilizing the front after the collapse of Russian operations in Kharkiv Oblast. The lack of consensus on who commanded the Lyman front among the Russian milblogger community further indicates the convoluted state of the Russian chain of command. […] 

Russian forces have not captured the entirety of Soledar despite several false Russian claims that the city has fallen and that Bakhmut risks imminent encirclement. Several Russian sources claimed that Wagner Group forces advanced into the west of Soledar on January 10. Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin refuted these claims, remarking that Wagner Group forces are still fighting against concerted Ukrainian resistance. ISW has only observed visual confirmation of Wagner Group forces in central Soledar as of January 10. The reality of block-by-block control of terrain in Soledar is obfuscated by the dynamic nature of urban combat, however, and Russian forces have largely struggled to make significant tactical gains in the Soledar area for months. Even taking the most generous Russian claims at face value, the capture of Soledar would not portend an immediate encirclement of Bakhmut. Control of Soledar will not necessarily allow Russian forces to exert control over critical Ukrainian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) into Bakhmut, as ISW has previously assessed.

Igor Girkin, former commander of Russian militants in Donbas and a prominent milblogger, heavily implied that he would support the removal of Russian President Vladimir Putin from office, his most direct criticism of Putin to date. Girkin criticized Putin for appointing and refusing to remove Russian military leaders who oversee frequent and disastrous military failures, in reference to Lapin’s appointment. Russian milbloggers have historically criticized Russian military leaders and MoD officials while upholding Putin as an effective wartime leader, as ISW has previously reported. Girkin extended his criticisms to non-military Putin appointees and advisors whose decisions negatively impacted Russia’s war performance and effort, noting that the common factor between these leaders is Putin’s decision to appoint them. Girkin caveated his criticisms with an implied loyalty to the Russian state, softening his call for Putin to leave office by stating he is against a change of presidential leadership during the war, as it would lead to military and civil “catastrophe.” Girkin’s criticisms, which he said he hopes will spark change even if they have “suicidal” consequences, indicate that growing frustration with the state of the war may be reaching a boiling point after nearly a year of hostilities among some milbloggers, prompting some milbloggers to reduce their self-censorship.

Key Takeaways

  • Russian media reported on January 10 that Colonel General Aleksandr Lapin, former commander of the Central Military District and Russian forces in Kharkiv and northern Donetsk oblasts during Russia’s significant losses in September 2022, has been appointed Chief of Staff of the Russian Ground Forces.
  • The news of Lapin’s appointment is generating further schisms in the already-fragmented pro-war Russian information space.
  • Igor Girkin heavily implied that he would support the removal of Russian President Vladimir Putin from office, suggesting that a willingness to reduce self-censorship and directly criticize Putin may be growing among some milbloggers.
  • The Ukrainian General Staff deviated from its normal reporting pattern about Russian forces in Belarus and near Ukraine’s northern border on January 10, an indicator of possible Russian preparations for an offensive in northern Ukraine, though ISW assesses this course of action remains unlikely at this time.
  • Ukrainian forces continued to make gains along the Svatove-Kreminna line.
  • Russian forces conducted ground attacks across the Donetsk Oblast frontline and made gains around Soledar but have not captured the settlement, despite false claims.
  • The Kremlin continues to deny that Russian authorities are preparing for another wave of partial mobilization.

Russian occupation authorities are struggling to contain an effective partisan movement in occupied territories.

New mobilisation in Russia will not stop Ukraine’s counteroffensive, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Andrii Cherniak, Representative of the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine, in a comment to Suspilne news outlet. “The new wave of mobilisation, which Russia is to announce on 15 January, will not prevent Ukrainian soldiers from conducting offensive operations.

Cherniak has said that the Russian Federation is planning yet another wave of mobilisation and a new offensive in order to capture new territories of Ukraine; however, the Armed Forces of Ukraine are ready to repel the offensive and further liberate Ukrainian land.

They understand that they are losing, and fortifications in temporary occupied territories in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, in the south of occupied Kherson Oblast and in the north of Crimea are proof of that. That is, they clearly understand that they will have to conduct combat actions there, and they are already building fortifications.

Earlier, Vadym Skibitskyi, Deputy Chief of the Defence Intelligence, reported that Russia was planning to conscript another 500,000 men in January-February 2023 in addition to the 300,000 that were conscripted in October 2022.”

Resistance movement works on all operational fronts – Special Operations Forces Commander, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Brigade General Viktor Khorenko, Commander of the Special Operations Forces of Ukraine. “Units of the resistance movement are ready for the development of any scenario against the background of combat actions. They have created an extensive system on all operational fronts. Khorenko has said that the resistance movement is the basis of the resistance that is happening in the territories where the Russians have already entered, and where they can probably enter. 

Those are people who can conduct reconnaissance, find out necessary information and coordinates, and communicate with units of the Ukrainian Defence Forces while being in the rear areas of the Russians, in the occupied land. This is very efficient and gives good results, as the commander pointed out.

The Special Operations Forces are constantly training such units, including those at the northern borders of Ukraine, and this is another efficient instrument for restraining the Kremlin’s plans.”

 

  1. Consequences and what to do? 

World Bank warns global economy could easily tip into recession in 2023, Reuters reports. “The World Bank slashed its 2023 growth forecasts on Tuesday to levels teetering on the brink of recession for many countries as the impact of central bank rate hikes intensifies, Russia’s war in Ukraine continues, and the world’s major economic engines sputter. The development lender said it now expected global GDP growth of 1.7% in 2023 — the slowest pace outside the 2009 and 2020 recessions in nearly three decades. In its previous Global Economic Prospects report, in June 2022, the bank had forecast 2023 global growth at 3.0%

The bank said major slowdowns in advanced economies, including sharp cuts to its forecast to 0.5% for both the United States and the euro zone, could foreshadow a new global recession less than three years after the last one.

“Given fragile economic conditions, any new adverse development — such as higher-than-expected inflation, abrupt rises in interest rates to contain it, a resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic or escalating geopolitical tensions — could push the global economy into recession,” the bank said in a statement accompanying the report.”

What Does It Mean to Provide ‘Security Guarantees’ to Ukraine, The New York Times asks? “A postwar Ukraine will want to ensure that Russia does not attack again. But is there anything short of full NATO membership that will satisfy Kyiv and deter Moscow? One day the war in Ukraine will be over. How and when remain the field of prophecy. But one of the most important questions will be how to ensure the future security of Ukraine — and by whom. The possible answers are not easy and will depend on the outcome of the war. But what seems clear is that short of a Russian collapse and defeat, with Ukraine winning back all of its territory, any security guarantees are likely to be both partial and fragile.

But without something, officials and analysts suggest, it is hard to imagine investors pouring back into Ukraine to rebuild the country — or that another war would not flare in the future. Much pivots on the hesitancy of the West itself, which wants to protect Ukraine but has shown that it does not want to fight for it, and that it does not want a direct military confrontation with Russia. Instead it has sought to thread a course between deterring Russia but not provoking it. […]

There will be a lot of risks around the corner for European and trans-Atlantic unity, said Nathalie Tocci, director of the Institute for International Affairs in Rome. If Ukraine manages to regain even the territory lost since Russia’s invasion last year, she said, then there would be mounting voices in Europe and Washington saying, Look at the ongoing costs, civilian and military — hey, compromise.

But Ukraine will want solid security commitments in return, she said, and that could divide the West — with Central and Eastern European countries demanding NATO membership for Ukraine, and Western European allies refusing.

While NATO and the European Union have promised Ukraine membership, there is no deadline, and it is not certain those pledges will be fulfilled. […] As long as territorial disputes remain, there is little likelihood that even a Ukraine in some sort of cease-fire agreement with Russia would win the unanimous support needed to join either institution.

How the war ends will be crucial, said Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff, who helped write a paper detailing the knotty issues involved in Ukraine’s reconstruction. Even before last year’s invasion, he noted, Ukraine’s sovereignty was already compromised by Russia’s annexation of Crimea. The neatest outcome now would be if Ukraine won back all of its lost territory, though that is far from certain.

If it’s a complete Russian defeat, then you solve the Crimea problem and you have a different Russia, he said. NATO membership would then be easier to envision for Ukraine and it would create a kind of untouchability, even by another revisionist Russian leader, he said. But the price to get to total victory is very high, and then what?

The prospect of a complete defeat of Russia, which could undermine Mr. Putin and his circle, embodies risks of Russian escalation that many NATO country leaders, including President Biden, seem unwilling to hazard. Should Mr. Putin’s leadership collapse, key European states like France and Germany worry about what a chaotic, nuclear-armed Russia could portend, and even about a return to a “time of troubles,” the years of lawlessness, infighting and anarchy that Russia experienced at the start of the 17th century.

But anything short of NATO membership would involve promises that Kyiv already considers hollow. Those were tried before, in 1994, when the United States, Britain and Russia itself promised Ukraine territorial integrity and security “assurances” in return for giving up its Soviet-era nuclear weapons under an agreement called the Budapest Memorandum. Those assurances came with no commitments — from Russia, of course, but also from Washington and London — and proved worthless.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, a former NATO secretary-general, has tried to square the circle in “The Kyiv Security Compact,” a proposal he and his colleagues drafted in the autumn with Andriy Yermak, the chief of staff to Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky. It aims to provide something workable between the hollow assurances of 1994 and full NATO and E.U. membership. The core recommendation is for Ukraine’s allies to turn the country into a kind of hedgehog or a porcupine, one so well-armed that Russia would not try to swallow it again.

To get there, it urges a “strategic partnership” between Ukraine and key Western countries, on a bilateral basis, for a “multi-decade effort” to make Ukraine impregnable and capable of its own defense. Mr. Rasmussen has compared his proposal to the relationship between the United States and Israel, with lots of defense cooperation but no formal defense treaty.

In essence, the proposal is alliance without membership, less a security guarantee to Ukraine than a major disincentive to Moscow. The irony is that non-membership in NATO would require more of the West than membership, and for longer, said Mr. Kleine-Brockhoff.

Others suggest that individual allies, including the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Poland, put their own troops into Ukraine postwar, the way NATO has put forward-based multinational brigades into NATO members states that border Russia. But significant troop presence in a non-NATO member would be seen in Moscow as a further provocation and more evidence to fit Russia’s narrative that NATO is trying to rip Ukraine away from the Russian sphere. […]

Mr. Hodges believes that Ukraine, with the right longer-range weapons from a currently reluctant Washington, can defeat Russia and take back all occupied territory, including Crimea, by the end of August. There is no way Ukraine will be safe and secure so long as Russia controls Crimea, he said. Crimea allows Russia to block the Sea of Azov, isolate Mariupol, hit Odesa and dominate the Black Sea, while claiming an exclusive economic zone around Crimea, limiting fishing and gas exploration, he said.

The only real security guarantee for Ukraine is eventual NATO membership, Mr. Hodges argued. But whatever the outcome, he said, it must be based on the assumption that Russia won’t respect it unless they’re forced to. Russia cannot be rewarded and think that what they did has paid off with territorial gain or leverage, he said. […]»

69% of Ukrainians not ready to give up joining NATO in exchange for peace talks with Russia, Ukrinform reports. “More than two-thirds of Ukrainians (69%) do not think it is possible to start peace negotiations with Russia on the condition that Ukraine refuses to join NATO. This is evidenced by the results of the poll “Wartime Diplomacy. What do Ukrainians think about Ukraine’s movement towards EU and NATO membership during the war”, conducted by Info Sapiens on behalf of the New Europe Center.

In March 2022, the Ukrainian side considered the possibility of starting peace negotiations with the Russian Federation, offering to give up Ukraine’s accession to NATO in exchange for the withdrawal of Russian troops from the occupied territories of Ukraine. More than two-thirds of Ukrainians (69%) do not think it is possible to start peace negotiations on such conditions, the authors of the research said. Meanwhile, 18.9% of respondents spoke in favor of the beginning of negotiations and 11% of respondents are undecided.

The authors of the research also noted that a record-high level – 83% – of support for joining NATO was registered in Ukraine last October.”

Hans Petter Midttun: Today’s assessment will be published as a separate article. A teaser:

“In June, I concluded that Russia’s war with Ukraine affects billions. NATO could end it in a moment. The enormous difference between the US efforts in support of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia in 1991 and Ukraine during 2014-22 demonstrates, however, that the US and NATO have not yet defined the desired end state in Ukraine. This is highly likely because of the potential consequences of the fall of Russia.

The West wants to protect Ukraine but has shown that it does not want to fight for it. Additionally, it does not want a direct military confrontation with Russia. The West has instead sought to thread a course between deterring Russia but not provoking it, while accepting the ever-increasing costs of the “tsunami of ripple effects”, seeing the international security architecture being dismantled and risking the European security and stability.

The West does not want Ukraine to fall. Nor does it want Russia to fall. Russia, however, is slowly forcing the US, NATO and the EU do pick one of the two. That’s a gamble Russia will lose as the realities are slowly dawning on the West.

There is only one acceptable off-ramp for Putin: A Ukrainian victory.”

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