Russo Ukrainian War. Day 326: 23 killed, 72 injured in Dnipro after another Russian massive missile attack

 

Daily review

Article by: Hans Petter Midttun

Russian forces launched two waves of missile strikes targeting Ukrainian critical infrastructure. A Kh-22 missile hit a high-rise building in the city of Dnipro, 23 killed, including one child, 72 injured including 13 children, 39 rescued including 6 children, 43 missing as of 1 pm January 15. Russian forces continued offensive operations around Soledar, Bakhmut and Avdiivka areas.

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Daily overview — Summary report, January 15, 2023

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 18.00 pm, January 15, 2023 is in the dropdown menu below:

Situation in Ukraine. January 14, 2023. Source: ISW. ~

Situation in Ukraine. January 14, 2023. Source: ISW.

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The adversary does not abandon its intentions to completely capture Donetsk oblast. To do so, it focuses its main efforts on offensive operations on the Bakhmut axis. Heavy battles for Soledar continue. Ukrainian forces repel enemy attacks around the clock. The occupants suffer heavy losses. The adversary is also advancing on Lyman, Avdiivka, and Novopavlivka axes. The invaders are trying to improve their tactical situation on the Kupyansk axis while defending on Zaporizhzhia and Kherson axes.]

[Having no success on the battlefield, Russian occupants continue to destroy the infrastructure and civilian residences. The adversary launches strikes at settlements in violation of virtually all rules of International Humanitarian Law, the laws and principles of war. Thus, a Russian missile hit an apartment building in the city of Dnipro today. At the moment, 5 civilians are reported dead and 39 wounded, including 7 children. The rescue operation continues.]

Over the past 24 hours, Russian forces launched 3 air and 57 missile strikes, and carried out 69MLRS attacks, in particular, on civilian infrastructure.

Russian forces used S-300/S-400 anti-aircraft guided missiles to launch missile strikes on the capital and other populated areas of Ukraine. It also launched 41 air- and sea-based cruise missiles and guided air missiles, which are high-precision weapons. 26 missiles were destroyed by our defenders.

[Later, the terrorist state used high-precision weapons: airborne cruise missiles Kh-101/Kh-555, Kh-22, seaborne cruise missiles Kalibr, and guided aircraft missiles Kh-59 against the critical infrastructure of Ukraine.]

The threat of further air and missile strikes by the Russian occupiers remains on the entire territory of Ukraine.

Last day units of the Defence Forces of Ukraine repelled the attacks of the occupiers in the areas of Makiyivka and Bilogorivka settlements of Luhansk Oblast and Verkhnyokamianske, Spirne, Bilogorivka, Sil, Soledar, Bakhmut, Klishchiivka, Novobakhmutivka, Krasnohorivka, Vodyane, Mayorsk and Maryinka of Donetsk Oblast.

[The Republic of Belarus continues to participate in the Russian aggression against Ukraine by allowing it to use its territory and airspace for strikes, as well as ammunition and materiel.]

Kharkiv Battle Map. January 14, 2023. Source: ISW. ~

Kharkiv Battle Map. January 14, 2023. Source: ISW.

  • Volyn, Polissya, Siversk and Slobozhansk axes: without significant changes, no offensive groups of Russian forces were detected. The areas of the settlements of Vovkivka and Kindrativka in the Sumy Oblast and Veterinarne, Staritsa, Ohirtseve, Gatyshche, Vovchansk, Budarki, Strelecha, Ternova, Chugunivka, Khatne and Topoli in the Kharkiv Oblast were hit by mortar and artillery fire.
  • Kupyansk axis: the areas of Dvorichna, Zapadne, Sinkivka, Orlyanka, Kotlyarivka, Berestov and Krokhmalne settlements of Kharkiv Oblast, as well as Novoselivske and Stelmakhivka in Luhansk Oblast, were shelled.
  • Lyman axis: Makiivka, Ploshanka, Nevske, Kreminna, Dibrova and Chervonopivka of the Luhansk Oblast came under fire.
Donetsk Battle Map. January 14, 2023. Source: ISW. ~

Donetsk Battle Map. January 14, 2023. Source: ISW.

  • Bakhmut axis: Spirne, Vyimka, Bilogorivka, Rozdolivka, Soledar, Paraskoviivka, Bakhmut, Vesele, Druzhba, and Severny in Donetsk Oblast were damaged by fire.
  • Avdiivka axis: Russian forces fired from tanks and MLRS at the Krasnohorivka, Vesele, Avdiivka, Georgiivka, Maryinka, Berdychi, Vodyane, and Novomykhailivka settlements in the Donetsk Oblast.
  • Novopavlivsk axis: Vugledar, Prechistivka, Zolota Niva and Velika Novosilka in Donetsk Oblast were shelled.
Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. January 14, 2023. Source: ISW. ~

Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. January 14, 2023. Source: ISW.

  • Zaporizhzhia axis: Malynivka, Gulyaipole, Dorozhnyanka, Zaliznychne, Charivne, Biloghirya, Mala Tokmachka, Orihiv, Novoandriivka, Stepove and Plavni of the Zaporizhzhia Oblast were affected by enemy fire.
  • Kherson axis: Kherson and Antonivka in the Kherson Oblast and Dmytrivka in the Mykolaiv Oblast were shelled by MLRS and artillery. There are casualties among civilians.

[Enemy redeployment on the left-bank Kherson oblast is aimed at strengthening the defence capabilities of its units. The movement of personnel, weapons, military equipment, and ammunition is reported.]

[The adversary continues to suffer casualties daily, and it shows. The manning level of certain units of the 3rd separate motorized rifle brigade of the 1st army corps located in the vicinity of Horlivka (Donetsk oblast) remains low, up to 40 percent. And this is despite the recent addition of mobilized and contract soldiers. It is noteworthy, that the personnel is forbidden to leave its location. This is the occupant forces’ attempt to at least somehow prevent desertion.]

[The Russian occupation authorities are revising the categories of conscription-age citizens who previously had the so-called “exemption” in the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk oblast. In particular, employees of emergency and utility services have already been warned about this.]

Russian forces continue to suffer daily losses in manpower. Thus, on January 12, in the direction of Starobilsk, Luhansk Oblast, the evacuation of about 50 wounded enemy personnel, who were operating near Svatovo, was carried out.

According to available information, as of January 12, 10 units of T-80BV tanks remained in serviceable condition in one of the tank battalions of the 26th tank regiment of the occupiers, which is participating in hostilities in the Kupyansk direction. The rest are either destroyed or disabled. Of the personnel in the battalion, about 30 invaders remained.

During the past day, Ukrainian Air Force made 5 strikes on areas where the occupiers are concentrated. Also, an unmanned aerial vehicle of the “Orlan-10” type was shot down.

At the same time, units of missile troops and artillery of the Defence Forces of Ukraine hit 2 control points, 9 areas of concentration of manpower and military equipment, an ammunition depot, as well as an enemy radio-electronic warfare station.

Military Updates

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst. ~

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst.

Fierce battles for Soledar ongoing – Maliar, Ukrinform reports, citing Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar on Saturday evening. “Fierce battles for Soledar are ongoing. Our soldiers repel enemy unceasing attacks – both during the day and at night, said Maliar. According to her, the enemy is suffering heavy losses but continues to carry out criminal orders of their command.

As Ukrinform reported, according to Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, Russian forces have been unsuccessfully trying to capture Soledar town for more than four months, because they want to gain control over the road to Bakhmut so that to relocate their military equipment and weapons there.”

The air-raid siren sounded in Ukraine on Saturday, Russian missiles are flying over Ukraine, air defence systems deployed, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “As of 14:45, air-raid sirens were sounded in almost all oblasts of Ukraine.

Ukrainian air defence downs 25 Russian missiles out of 38 launched, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the Ukrainian Air Force Command. “In total, 25 out of 38 missiles of various types have been destroyed by this time. In particular, [these included] 18 Kh-101/Kh-555 air- and sea-launched cruise missiles and Kalibr missiles, [and] seven Kh-59 guided air missiles.”

Russian forces launched X-101/X-555 cruise missiles from [five] Tu-95MS strategic bombers from the Caspian Sea area and Kalibr missiles from surface ships and submarines from the Black Sea at around 13:00, which makes 23 air- and sea-based cruise missiles in total. Five Kh-59 guided air missiles were launched from Su-35 fighters.”

Ukraine needs Western Air Defence systems to stop Kh-22 cruise missiles, Ukrainian General Staff reports. “On January 14, 2023, five Kh-22 cruise missiles were fired over the territory of Ukraine from five Tu-22m3 long-range bombers of the Russian Air Force. The launches were carried out from the Kursk region and the waters of the Sea of Azov. One of the Kh-22 missiles, launched from the Kursk region around 15:30 hit a high-rise building in the city of Dnipro (on Naberezhna Peremogy St.). […]

The Armed Forces of Ukraine have no weapons capable of shooting down this type of missile. Since the beginning of Russia’s military aggression, more than 210 missiles of this type have been launched on the territory of Ukraine. Not one was shot down by means of anti-aircraft defence. The weight of the Kh-22 warhead is about 950 kg. The maximum range is up to 600 km. When used from long distances, the deviation from the target can be hundreds of meters.

Only anti-aircraft missile systems, which in the future may be provided to Ukraine by Western partners (e.g., Patriot PAC-3 or SAMP-T), are capable of intercepting these air targets.”

Kyiv was stuck by missiles from the north on 14 January, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Yurii Ihnat, spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force. “Most likely, these are missiles that flew on a ballistic trajectory. From the north [a location north of Ukraine]. Ballistic [missiles] are not reachable for [Ukraine which is unable to] detect and shoot them down.

The warning about the missile threat came late due to the lack of radar data and information from other sources. Unfortunately, the Armed Forces of Ukraine have no effective means of detecting and destroying ballistic missiles, Ihnat stressed.”

Russians used “carrier killers” and anti-aircraft missiles against the civil population, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Ukrainian Air Force spokesman, Yurii Ihnat. “The missile that was fired at the apartment building in Dnipro is a Kh-22 missile fired from a Tu-22M3 long-range bomber; the launches were carried out from Kursk and Sea of Azov regions. A total of five launches of these missiles took place.

The missile with a warhead of 950 kilograms, called a ‘carrier killer’, is designed to destroy aircraft carrier groups at sea; it can also be equipped with a nuclear warhead. And such a missile hits a densely populated city with people… There is no explanation or justification for this terrorist act.”

Ihnat also reported that [S-400 or S-300] anti-aircraft missiles, which are designed to hit aerial targets and are very dangerous for the population, were fired on the cities of Kyiv and Kharkiv on Saturday, 14 January. […] These are […] constantly being used to hit the eastern regions of our country, including Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, and Dnipropetrovsk oblasts[…].

Why do we call it a terrorist weapon? Because these missiles are designed to hit aerial targets with thousands of [fragments] to destroy an aircraft, missile, UAV or helicopter. These fragments fly hundreds of metres, striking the civilian population. Launching [them – ed.] on cities is pure terrorism. Kyiv was hit with these missiles today. And Kharkiv was also attacked by these systems the same day.

In Bryansk Oblast, Russia, the downing of a “Tochka-U tactical missile” was announced, Ukrainska Pravda reports. “On 14 January, the Russian air defence system allegedly shot down a Tochka-U tactical missile over the Klintsovsky district of Bryansk Oblast, Russia; there were no casualties, governor Alexander Bogomaz said.”

Russia deploys Kalibr cruise missile carrier to the Black Sea first time in 2023, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the Ukrainian Navy. “There are 7 enemy ships on combat duty in the Black Sea, including a carrier of Kalibr cruise missiles. Russian forces continue to control sea communications, keeping 2 ships on combat duty in the Sea of Azov.

Later, Operational Command South clarified that occupiers deployed one more surface- and one underwater missile carrier on combat duty in the Black Sea. Now, the total firing capacity of Calibers is 20 missiles.”

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

  • On 12 January 2023, Andrey Kartapolov, the head of the Russian State Duma Defence Committee, suggested Russia would extend the upper age of routine military conscription from 27 to 30 in time for the Spring 2023 draft. Kartapolov said the move would be intended to enable the previously announced 30% increase in the size of Russia’s forces.
  • Last year, President Putin said he supported such a move, and Russian officials are likely sounding out public reactions.
  • There is a realistic possibility that Russian leaders hope a change of age criteria for routine conscription could bolster personnel available to fight in Ukraine while appear less alarming to the population than announcing another round of the unpopular ‘partial mobilisation’ process.
  • On 11 January 2023, a group of at least 10 vessels of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet (BSF) departed the Novorossiysk Naval Facility.
  • Given the type and number of vessels putting to sea at the same time, the activity is likely a fleet dispersal in response to a specific threat to Novorossiysk that Russia believes it has identified.
  • It is unlikely that the deployment signifies preparation for unusual maritime-launched cruise-missile strikes. It is highly unlikely that the fleet is preparing for amphibious assault operations. The BSF largely remains fixed by perceived threats from Ukraine and continues to prioritise force protection over offensive or patrol operations.

Losses of the Russian army 

As of Sunday 15 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 115290 (+630),
  • Tanks – 3106 (+2),
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 6183 (+10),
  • Artillery systems – 2094 (+4),
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 437 (+0),
  • Air defence means – 219 (+0),
  • Aircraft – 286 (+0),
  • Helicopters – 276 (+0),
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 4846 (+0),
  • Vessels/boats – 17 (+0),
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 1872 (+5),
  • Special equipment – 187 (+1),
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0),
  • Cruise missiles – 749 (+26)
Losses of the Russian Army. Source: Ukrinform. ~

Losses of the Russian Army. Source: Ukrinform.

Humanitarian 

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Russia cancels new prisoner exchange round, Ukrainian officials say, Reuters reports. “Russia cancelled at the last minute on Saturday a scheduled exchange of prisoners of war, the Ukrainian body dealing with prisoners said.

Another round of exchange of prisoners was planned today with the Russian side,” the Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War said on the Telegram messaging app. “However, it was cancelled at the last moment at the initiative of the Russian side.”

Kyiv was attacked by Russian missiles on Saturday morning.

A Russian missile has hit a residential building in the village of Kopyliv in Kyiv Oblast. 18 houses were damaged in Kyiv Oblast in the morning attack.

Several explosions have been reported in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, with local authorities reporting an attack on the capital’s infrastructure. Kyiv residents have reported at least four explosions in Ukraine’s capital. At the time information about the explosions was shared, an air-raid siren had not been sounded in Kyiv or the oblast. The siren was sounded after the explosions.

Russians missiles hit critical infrastructure facilities on Saturday afternoon, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Maksym Kozytskyi, Head of Lviv Oblast Military Administration, and Oleh Syniehubov, Head of Kharkiv Oblast Military Administration. “Russian forces have hit a critical infrastructure facility in Lviv Oblast. There are possible power outages and water supply interruptions. Stay in shelters. The threat is ongoing!

Two strikes of enemy missiles on a critical infrastructure facility [in Kharkiv oblast] were recorded in the oblast. Most districts of the city of Kharkiv remain without electricity immediately after the explosion, the movement of metro trains is temporarily suspended.

The Russians launched a missile attack on Ukraine. In the city of Dnipro, a residential building was hit. As of this morning, 18 people were killed by a Russian missile in their house in Dnipro. 73 people are injured – more than 40 of them are in hospitals, and four people in serious condition are in intensive care units. The rescue operation is ongoing. The fate of more than 40 people remains unknown

Explosions are ringing out in the city of Kyiv and Kyiv Oblast on Saturday, air defence systems are operating.

On Saturday, energy facilities were damaged as a result of the missile attack on Ukraine. Russian forces hit Kharkiv, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Zaporizhzhia, Vinnytsia and Kyiv oblasts. Kharkiv and Kyiv oblasts’ energy systems experience most difficulties after Russian attack.

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Missile attack on Ukraine: two thermal power plants damaged, one stops producing electricity, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing DTEK Ukrenergo, the national energy regulator. “During today’s massive attack, the occupiers attacked two thermal power plants of DTEK Energo, which had already been repeatedly hit by enemy attacks. This is the 26th terrorist attack on DTEK Energo facilities.”

Ukraine’s energy minister says ‘difficult’ days lie ahead after latest Russian attacks, Reuters reports. “Ukrainian Energy Minister German Galushchenko said on Saturday that the coming days would be “difficult” on the energy front after a massive missile attack by Russia hit critical infrastructure in several regions.

Due to the shelling in the majority of the regions, emergency (power) cut-offs are being introduced. The coming days will be difficult, he wrote on Facebook. Galushchenko said energy infrastructure in six Ukrainian regions was damaged after the attacks.”

Environmental

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IAEA director general to hold talks in Kyiv, Ukrinform reports, citing a statement published on the agency’s website. “The Director General will travel to the South Ukraine and Rivne Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs) as well as to the Chornobyl site to launch the missions consisting of two IAEA experts at each of the facilities, the statement says. It is noted that the IAEA already has a permanent presence of up to four experts at Ukraine’s largest NPP, Zaporizhzhia, and a two-member team will also be stationed at the Khmelnytskyi NPP in the coming days.

According to Grossi, IAEA nuclear safety and security experts will monitor the situation at the plants, assess their equipment and other needs, provide technical support and advice, and report their findings to IAEA headquarters. In total, the IAEA will have around 11-12 experts present in the country at any given time.

The IAEA Director General will also meet next week senior Ukrainian government officials in the capital Kyiv on his proposal to set up a nuclear safety and security protection zone around Zaporizhzhia (ZNPP), where the IAEA has been present for more than four months. I remain determined to make the much-needed protection zone a reality as soon as possible. My consultations with Ukraine and Russia are making progress, albeit not as fast as they should. I remain hopeful that we will be able to agree and implement the zone soon, Director General Grossi said.

As reported, in December, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi held negotiations in Moscow regarding the creation of a safety zone around the occupied Zaporizhzhia NPP. On March 4, the Zaporizhzhia NPP was seized by the Russian military. Since then, the Russians have been placing military equipment and ammunition in the plant’s territory and shelling the surrounding area.”

Legal 

US Ambassador to OSCE: Russia has taken up to 2,000 children from Ukraine since beginning of 2023, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Ukrinform, quoting Michael Carpenter, US Ambassador to the OSCE, during a special meeting of the Permanent Council in Vienna. “According to the Ambassador, Russia has been abducting children from their homes and families en masse in recent weeks, moving them to Russian territory under the guise of evacuation.

In addition, the US Ambassador pointed out that lists of children who should be involved in the war upon reaching the age of majority are being compiled in the occupied Donetsk and Luhansk. Children born in 2005 and 2006 are subject to mandatory military registration. Such advance planning to use Ukrainian children as cannon fodder in Russia’s war is just plain evil, Carpenter said.

In November 2022, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that according to official data alone, Russia had abducted 11,000 Ukrainian children from Ukraine.”

Support

Europe gears up to send Western tanks to Ukraine, CNN reports. “The Western alliance’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine received a shot in the arm this week as multiple European nations for the first time answered President Volodymyr Zelensky’s longstanding call to supply modern battle tanks to Kyiv. France, Poland and the United Kingdom have pledged to soon send tanks for the Ukrainian military to use in its efforts to protect itself from Russia. Finland is considering following suit. […]

The moves have piled pressure on Germany, which last week said it would transfer infantry fighting vehicles to Kyiv but is yet to commit to sending tanks. Chancellor Olaf Scholz has insisted that any such plan would need to be fully coordinated with the whole of the Western alliance, including the United States.

Western officials told CNN said that the decision by some countries but not others to send more tanks was part of a broader assessment of what was happening on the ground in Ukraine. NATO allies have spent recent weeks talking in detail about which countries are best placed to provide specific types of assistance, be it military equipment or money.

One senior Western diplomat suggested that more countries could increase their levels of military support in the coming weeks as the war enters a new phase, and a fresh Russian offensive could be just around the corner as the anniversary of the invasion approaches.

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But Germany’s support is seen as crucial. Thirteen European countries, including Poland and Finland, are in possession of modern German Leopard 2 tanks, which were introduced in 1979 and have been upgraded several times since, according to the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank.

While any re-export of the tank by these nations would typically need approval from the German government, Berlin has suggested it would not block their transfer to Kyiv. Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck said Thursday that Berlin would not stand in the way of other countries re-exporting Leopard tanks. […] German deputy government spokeswoman Christiane Hoffmann said Friday that it had not received an official request from Poland or Finland. […]

The decision of NATO members to send the tanks to Ukraine is not an uncontroversial move. German diplomats are privately briefing their concern that it marks an escalation in the West’s response to Russia and will be viewed in Moscow as a provocation.

Other European officials argue that the West has already transfered plenty of other advanced weapons that have been used to kill Russians, as well as provided intelligence used extensively to the benefit of Ukraine. Notably, the US has supplied its long-range advanced HIMARS rocket systems to Ukraine, which have helped it turn the tide of the war in recent months. In light of this, the officials contend, sending additional tanks is not that significant an escalation, regardless of what Moscow might say.

While European allies remain largely united in their support of Ukraine, diplomats who spoke to CNN said there was disagreement as to whether sending tanks and more weapons is the fastest and most effective way to bring the conflict to an end.

It is expected that the UK and France will continue to pressure Germany into joining them in the effort in the coming days. If they succeed it would mean the three major European powers in lockstep as the war rumbles toward its one-year anniversary.”

Ukraine wants to create a brigade of Leopard 2 tanks, five countries are ready to hand over these tanks – Kuleba, Mil.in.ua reports. “Ukraine plans to create a tank brigade of German-made Leopard 2 tanks. The Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba said this in an interview with journalist Vadym Karpiak.

According to him, five countries are now ready to hand over these tanks to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reminded that Poland and Finland have already agreed to transfer tanks of this type to Ukraine.

According to the minister, Ukraine is objectively half a step away from solving the issue of tanks. […] The minister clarified that together with Poland and Finland, we already have five countries that are ready to transfer [tanks], but are waiting for clearing the issues with Germany. And I know at least three more countries that are ready to do it, but they are not talking about it yet, because they want to say it out loud, only if they are one hundred percent sure that the Germans will come out and say: we support it, Kuleba said.

We should add that the head of the Office of the President of Poland, Paweł Szrot, stated that the international coalition in the matter of transferring tanks to Ukraine, in particular the Leopard 2 tanks, already exists, and Germany should join it. […]

In turn, Polish government spokesman Piotr Müller said during a briefing in the Sejm that Warsaw is forming “the widest possible coalition” and expects Germany to join it.”

British Prime Minister confirms transfer of Challenger 2 tanks, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the Office of the British Prime Minister. “British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed that his country will provide Ukraine with Challenger 2 tanks, during a telephone conversation with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The Prime Minister outlined the UK’s ambition to intensify our support to Ukraine, including through the provision of Challenger 2 tanks and additional artillery systems, the statement said.

UK to transfer over 12 Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine, first 4 immediately, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing The Sun. “The Prime Minister has been clear that the UK has to stand by its commitment to Ukraine, and that includes ensuring it has the critical equipment to defend itself and change the battlefield equation, the source notes.

A group of four Challenger 2 tanks will be delivered to eastern Europe immediately, with a further eight following shortly afterwards, The Sun reports. Sunak is said to have held talks with defence and security officials this week, telling them that getting the tanks to Ukraine should be an operational priority.”

UK will send AS90 self-propelled guns to Ukraine, Ukrinform reports. “A squadron of 14 tanks will go into the country in the coming weeks. Around 30 AS90s, which are large, self-propelled guns, operated by five gunners, are expected to follow, reads the press release published on the website of the Government of the United Kingdom.

It is underscored that sending Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine is the start of a gear change in the UK’s support.”

A new batch of German military support: mine-clearing tanks, mobile heating systems, Ukrinform reports. “Germany handed over another batch of military support to Ukraine. As the Federal German Government reports on its website, the support includes four mine-clearing tanks, four mobile and protected mine-clearing systems, 10 border protection vehicles (in total 95 already in operation in Ukraine), and 120 mobile heating systems (previously, 48 systems were transferred). All equipment is from industrial stocks or new.

The section about military support in planning includes 40 Marder infantry fighting vehicles with ammunition, a Patriot air defence system with missiles, and 100,000 first aid kits.”

New Developments 

  1. Zelenskyy says what is needed to stop Russian terror, Ukrainska PravdaPresident Volodymyr Zelenskyy is convinced that the Russian terror can be stopped only on the Ukrainian battlefield, and for this are needed weapons that the partner states have in their warehouses.”
  2. Kuleba calls on G7 and the EU to strengthen sanctions against Russia over a new missile attack, UkrinformMinister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba has called on the G7 countries and the European Union to introduce tough sanctions against Russia to “kill” its ability to produce missiles. Each barrage of missiles further exhausts Russian stocks. However, they are still able to produce new ones. We can and must kill their missile and drone industry with a mass sanctions strike! he wrote. Kuleba urged G7 and the EU “to implement relevant sanctions proposed by Ukraine without delay.”
  3. Moldova says missile debris found in the north of the country, ReutersMoldova’s interior ministry said on Saturday that missile debris was found in the country’s north following the latest Russian air strikes on Ukraine.”
  4. Russia reiterates its readiness to negotiate at the UN, but with conditions, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing RBC. “It will be possible to end the hostilities only when the threat for Russia no longer emanates from the territory of Ukraine and when the discrimination against the Russian-speaking population of this country ends. Russia is ready for a scenario, in which this can be achieved peacefully, through negotiations. Otherwise, Moscow will get what it wants militarily, [Vasily Nebenzya, Russia’s permanent representative to the UN, said]. Nebenzya claimed that Russia does not want the destruction of Ukraine as a state, its de-Ukrainianisation and forced Russification”.

Erdogan aide says time running out to ratify Sweden and Finland NATO bids, Reuters reports. “Turkey is running out of time to ratify NATO membership bids by Sweden and Finland before it holds elections expected in May, a Turkish presidential spokesman said on Saturday. President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, said Turkish ratification of the countries’ bids depended on how quickly Stockholm fulfils counterterrorism promises made as part of a deal with Ankara, warning that could take months.”

Assessment 

  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of  January 14, 2023:

Russian forces continued offensive operations around Soledar on January 14. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian assaults near Rozdolivka (7km north of Soledar), Sil (5km northwest of Soledar), and Krasna Hora (5km southwest of Soledar). A Russian milblogger claimed that Wagner Group fighters continued offensive operations near Krasna Hora and that they almost completely control the settlement. The Russian milblogger also claimed that Wagner Group fighters conducted an assault near Pidhorodne (6km southwest of Soledar). […] A Russian milblogger posted footage purporting to show Ukrainian forces removing wounded personnel from the railway station in Sil and claimed that Russian forces are currently fighting for control of the station. Russian sources previously claimed that Russian forces captured the railway station in Sil on January 13, although ISW still cannot independently verify these claims.

Ukrainian forces likely do not hold positions in the settlement of Soledar itself despite continued Ukrainian claims as of January 14. Ukrainian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces control positions in the western outskirts of Soledar and are continuing to fight for control of the settlement. […] Other geolocated footage published on January 14 may indicate that Ukrainian forces are likely holding some positions immediately outside of Soledar. A social media source claimed on January 13 that Ukrainian forces have established fortified positions on the west side of the T0513 highway near Soledar.

Russian forces continued offensive operations around Bakhmut on January 14. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian assaults near Bakhmut itself and near Klishchiivka (7km southwest of Bakhmut) and Mayorsk (22km southwest of Bakhmut). […] The State Border Service of Ukraine reported on January 14 that Ukrainian forces eliminated Wagner Group assault personnel in Bakhmut and repelled continued Wagner Group attempts to reach the outskirts of the settlement. One Russian milblogger claimed that Wagner Group fighters are abandoning head-on attacks against Bakhmut and instead are trying to encircle the settlement. The Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces conducted an assault in the direction of Dyliivka (15km southwest of Bakhmut) and that Wagner Group fighters conducted assaults near Klishchivka as well as in the direction of Predtechyne (15km southwest of Bakhmut), attempting to cut off a section of the H-32 highway between Bakhmut and Kostiantynivka.

Russian forces continued offensive operations in the Avdiivka-Donetsk City area on January 14. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian assaults within 27km southwest of Avdiivka near Vodyane, Pobieda, and Marinka. Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces still hold positions in the western part of Marinka and that Russian forces are trying to advance in the settlement, despite previous milblogger claims that Russian forces control Marinka. A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces also conducted offensive operations near Nevelske (14km southwest of Avdiivka) and Pervomaiske (12km southwest of Avdiivka).

Russian forces conducted a limited ground attack in western Donetsk Oblast on January 14. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled a Russian assault near Velyka Novosilka (55km southwest of Donetsk City) in western Donetsk Oblast. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces continued routine shelling along the line of contact in Donetsk and eastern Zaporizhzhia oblasts.

The Kremlin continues to falsely claim that Ukraine poses an existential threat to Russia to reject Ukrainian offers of a peace summit and retain Putin’s original maximalist goals. Russian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Security Council Vassily Nebenzya responded to Ukrainian proposals for a peace summit on January 13 with a series of false claims framing Ukraine as an aggressor that was, ludicrously, “about to attack Moscow.” Nebenzya stated that Russia’s war in Ukraine will only end “when the threat to Russia no longer comes from the territory of Ukraine” and when “the discrimination [against] the Russian-speaking population” in Ukraine ends. Kremlin claims of discrimination against Russian speakers in Ukraine are a longstanding information operation seeking to justify Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Nebenzya reiterated the Kremlin’s narrative that Ukraine’s refusal to recognize Russia’s illegal annexation of occupied Ukrainian territories and relationships with the West threaten Russia and claimed that Ukrainian ties with the West (rather than Russia’s invasion and occupation of Ukraine) undermined Ukraine’s sovereignty and cultural identity. Nebenzya claimed Ukraine is not interested in negotiations and is no more than a NATO paramilitary company—both longstanding claims that the Kremlin intends to delegitimize Ukraine as an independent actor and shift the responsibility for negotiations onto Western officials, who the Kremlin likely believes Russia can pressure into preemptive concessions. Nebenzya asserted that if the Kremlin cannot achieve its maximalist goals through negotiations, it will achieve them through military means. Nebenzya’s speech again demonstrates that the Kremlin has not abandoned its maximalist goals in Ukraine, false justifications for its unprovoked war of aggression, and will seek to coerce the West to negotiate over Ukraine’s head.

The Kremlin continues to use long-standing false narratives that the Ukrainian government is oppressing religious liberties as moral justification for its refusal to negotiate with Ukraine, likely in the hopes of turning international public opinion against Ukraine. Nebenzya claimed in his address that the “Zelensky regime” is an “authoritarian dictatorship” that desires “to destroy the canonical church in Ukraine—the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.” Nebenzya likely deliberately misrepresented the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Moscow Patriarchate (UOC MP)—a Kremlin-affiliated institution—as the official Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is a separate entity from the UOC MP. Nebenzya argued that such an “authoritarian dictatorship” represents a major obstacle to peace talks and requested a special meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss alleged state persecution of the “Ukrainian Orthodox Church.” Ukrainian officials are not persecuting religious liberty or the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, however. Russian officials are intentionally misrepresenting Ukrainian efforts to prosecute Kremlin-linked elements of the UOC MP as persecution of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church is an independent entity that continues to operate in Ukraine, while the UOC MP is a non-independent subordinate branch of the Kremlin-controlled Russian Orthodox Church, which has fiscally and rhetorically supported Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Wagner financier Yevgeny Prigozhin continued to leverage the Wagner Group’s role in capturing Soledar to elevate his political stature and indirectly criticize the conventional Russian military. Prigozhin published footage on January 14, which he claimed was filmed in Soledar, promoting Wagner’s claimed role in capturing the town. Prigozhin introduced the Wagner Group commander who oversaw the capture of the settlement and extolled Wagner’s capabilities compared to the conventional Russian military. Prigozhin stated the Wagner Group succeeded due to its wealth of experience, its independence, its effective military equipment, and its superior management system. Prigozhin claimed the Wagner Group’s management system incentivizes commanders and subordinates to work closely together on the ground and allows the complaints of regular fighters to be heard. Prigozhin likely highlighted these elements, true or not, to distinguish the Wagner Group from the conventional Russian military and likely advertise for further recruitment and denigrate conventional Russian forces, lobbying for an increased role for Wagner Group—and himself—in the war in Ukraine.

Key Takeaways

  • Russian forces launched two waves of missile strikes targeting Ukrainian critical infrastructure on January 14.
  • The Kremlin continues to falsely claim Ukraine poses an existential threat to Russia to reject Ukrainian offers of a peace summit and retain Putin’s original maximalist goals.
  • The Kremlin continues to use long-standing false narratives that the Ukrainian government is oppressing religious liberties as moral justification for its refusal to negotiate with Ukraine and likely in the hopes of turning international public opinion against Ukraine.
  • Wagner financier Yevgeny Prigozhin continued to leverage the Wagner Group’s role in capturing Soledar to elevate his political stature and indirectly criticize the conventional Russian military.
  • Russian forces continued limited counterattacks along the Svatove-Kreminna line.
  • Russian forces continued offensive operations around Soledar as well as in the Bakhmut and Avdiivka areas. Ukrainian forces are highly unlikely to still hold positions within the settlement of Soledar itself.
  • Russian forces continued defensive operations and reinforced frontlines positions on the east (left) bank of the Dnipro River in Kherson Oblast.
  • Western officials are increasingly joining Ukrainian authorities in warning that Russia is preparing for an imminent second wave of mobilization.
  • Russian occupation officials in Kherson continued measures to forcibly relocate residents to Russia.
  • Ukrainian partisan attacks continue to disrupt Russian rear security efforts.

Russia switches to “wartime economy” in preparation for drawn-out war, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Defence Intelligence of Ukraine. “The measures that Putin has undertaken to reorganise the economy and the military industrial complex of the Russian Federation indicate that Russia’s transition to martial law is currently underway. These measures aim to reinforce the capability of the Russian Armed Forces and to create favourable conditions to conduct operations planned for the very beginning of the war but unsuccessfully carried out by Russian occupation forces.

The invading state is trying to deploy all military resources at its disposal to prolong the war in Ukraine. The recent appointment of the Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, [Valery] Gerasimov, as Commander-in-Chief of the Russian occupation forces indicates not only Russia’s military failures but also its preparations to continue a full-scale, long war.”

The gap in military strength between Ukraine and Russia gradually decreasing, Euromaidan Press reports, citing the Ukrainian analyst Volodymyr Dacenko. “In general, the gap between Ukraine and Russia in military power is gradually decreasing. This happens both because Russia has heavy losses and because Ukraine maintains or even strengthens its power due to the help of allies and war trophies. Russia is the main supplier of heavy weapons to Ukraine (at least tanks and armoured vehicles).

Although the mobilization did not go well in Russia, the Russians managed to saturate the front line and complicate the advance of the Armed Forces. The new mobilized who arrive at the front are already better prepared than the first batches. But they are also poorly equipped.

Russia has also changed its tactics. This is the third time:

  • at first, the Russians bet on heavy armour and rapid breakthroughs;
  • in the summer, they changed their tactics and began to use groups of armoured vehicles and infantry for attacks;
  • now the assault is mainly carried out by infantry forces with the support of artillery (as in World War I).

Ukraine, on the contrary, now uses much more armoured vehicles in the attack. The lack of a sufficient number of tanks forces the use of lighter equipment, but it is much more effective than an attack with only infantry forces.

Russia can probably afford to mobilize up to a million more soldiers. And it will allow fighting long enough. But the key issue is artillery. I made some assumptions about the artillery earlier. Considering the tens of millions of old Soviet shells, I don’t think that the RU artillery machine will run out anytime soon. But the RU are running out of more scarce long-range shells for a distance of more than 20 km

Probably now Ukraine dominates at distances of 20-80 km. But supplies of 155mm shells and GMLRS are limited. And Ukraine needs longer-range capabilities to destroy the Russians’ logistics. Cutting off logistical routes and depleting supplies is the main premise of Ukraine’s counteroffensive. Therefore, it is important for Ukraine to get more long-range systems and shells.”

 

  1. Consequences and what to do? 

NATO’s internal standoff is a gift to Putin, The Washington Post Editorial Board argue.  “Short of Russia’s defeat on the battlefield, or regime change in Moscow that produces new leadership disabused of imperialist fantasies, the war in Ukraine offers little immediate prospect of long-term strategic gain for the West. A critical exception is NATO’s expansion to include Sweden and Finland, a prospect tantalizingly close at hand but blocked for now by one key member of the 30-member alliance: Turkey.

That impasse is bound up in a matrix of problems, not least Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s domestic political challenges, a mess largely of his own making. Mr. Erdogan is a tireless haggler and certain to use the leverage he has to extract concessions from his NATO allies and excite his nationalist base ahead of Turkey’s elections, scheduled for June.

Still, it would be dangerous to dismiss his obstruction as temporary posturing or to assume the problem will disappear if Mr. Erdogan wins the elections despite mismanaging the country’s skyrocketing inflation and the resulting economic turmoil. Resolving the standoff will require sustained diplomacy and, possibly, real concessions, some of them in Washington’s power to make. President Biden and Congress can play a key part in that. They should, because whatever heartburn Turkey presents to NATO, it is a powerful and indispensable alliance member, and the consequences of enlarging NATO’s membership — or failing to do so — are titanic.

Sweden and Finland are modest-sized countries — together they would add less than 2 percent to NATO’s collective population of roughly 950 million — but they would pack an outsize punch. Their entry would represent a grievous strategic defeat for Russian President Vladimir Putin, vastly expanding the Western alliance territory along his border.

More than any other tangible move available to Washington and its European allies, the expansion would drive home the depth of the Kremlin’s folly in mounting a blood-soaked invasion of a sovereign nation that represented no military threat to Moscow. And it would extend NATO’s security umbrella to a pair of valued partners that are justly nervous over Russia’s proven willingness to unleash a full-scale regional war and have abandoned decades of neutrality to apply jointly for membership in the alliance.

Mr. Erdogan has taken advantage of that application — as well as NATO rules that give any member a veto on expansion — to amplify Turkey’s grievances with the two Nordic candidates and the alliance generally, including the United States. Some of those grievances are rooted in Turkey’s own security concerns. Others reflect the disconnect between the intolerant and increasingly despotic state Mr. Erdogan has built and the robust democracies buttressed by vibrant civil societies in other NATO member states, as well as Sweden and Finland.

Turkey’s loudest complaint is the toughest to satisfy. Mr. Erdogan has been adamant that Sweden, whose Kurdish population is around 100,000, crack down on alleged activists and sympathizers linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has carried out terrorist attacks in Turkey; Ankara as well as the United States and European Union regard it as a terrorist organization. The trouble is partly definitional: In some cases, Turkey has demanded the extradition of Kurds and other anti-Erdogan activists whose cases have been adjudicated by Swedish courts or do not qualify as terrorists by Western standards. In the case of the one person whose extradition Mr. Erdogan has publicly demanded — an exiled journalist he accuses of supporting a 2016 coup aimed at toppling him — the Swedish courts have refused. In any event, Mr. Erdogan cannot reasonably expect a Western democracy to cast aside its laws and judicial procedures to hand over activists on the grounds that he considers them enemies.

Another Turkish demand, that the Nordic countries lift their prohibition on selling arms to Ankara, seems on its way to resolution. The ban, also imposed by other European countries, was put in place in 2019 after Turkey launched attacks inside Syria against a PKK-affiliated Kurdish militia, backed by the United States and its European allies, that was key to the Islamic State’s military defeat. Keeping the priority of NATO accession in their sights, Sweden has resumed some arms sales to Turkey, and Finland would be wise to follow suit.

A much larger arms issue is Turkey’s $20 billion request to expand and modernize its existing fleet of US-made F-16 fighter jets. Despite support from the Biden administration, the sale has been blocked on Capitol Hill, apparently over human rights concerns in Turkey and at the behest of lawmakers sympathetic to Greece, which opposes the deal. The congressional roadblock is myopic, and the rationale for it pales against a big-picture consideration of Turkey’s vital role in NATO and its expansion.

There’s no question Turkey, which joined NATO in 1952, just three years after the alliance’s birth, has been at times an awkward partner for its allies. Mr. Erdogan has compounded those challenges since coming to power in 2014, forging closer ties with Russia even as Mr. Putin sent troops into Ukraine. In 2019, over heated objections from the Trump administration, Turkey deployed S-400 missiles, a Russian air defense system that the United States feared could compromise the crown jewel of NATO’s own arsenal, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Mr. Erdogan’s insistence on that move was rightly seen in Washington as a betrayal.

Resentments and colliding interests are the price of any lasting alliance. In the end, Turkey and its NATO allies are vital to each other’s security and to containing and ultimately defeating Russian aggression. The alliance needs Turkey, which has been a bulwark to the West’s defense against Iran, equipped Ukraine with drones and other arms, and closed off the Black Sea to Russian naval reinforcements. Equally, Turkey, which endured a tense standoff with Moscow in 2015 after shooting down a Russian fighter plane in Turkish airspace, would be wise not to further alienate its NATO allies and jeopardize the insurance policy they provide.

Mr. Putin is the only winner in the showdown over allowing Sweden and Finland to join NATO. The sooner Turkey and its partners come to terms, the better for the alliance.»

Hans Petter Midttun: Imagine someone arguing against the fire brigade trying to put out a fire because it is risky. Or stopping the police from saving lives because it is dangerous. Imagine someone arguing against the rescue service attempting to save people in distress because it is hazardous. The notion is almost unthinkable as we are obliged to help people in distress.

I am, therefore, extremely disappointed that so many choose to use their intellectual capacity to argue against Western military support for Ukraine because of risks, despite that the support will prevent Russia from continue harming or killing Ukrainian children, women, and men. Despite that it will save a nation and protect our common security and stability.

Supporting Ukraine involves risks, but not supporting – or doing too little, too late – entails far greater perils. It is crucial to focus on the catastrophe at hand instead of the future, hypothetical, and unlikely crisis, not least because doing nothing entails a very real risk that the war escalates into something far worse.

The argument that Western defence support for Ukraine might be seen as a provocation in the Kremlin triggering an escalation of the war seems increasingly hollow, especially after a day when Russia attacked the Ukrainian population with missiles designed to destroy aircraft carriers, aircraft and missiles.

Yesterday’s attack was, however, not an exception. It was the rule.

Russia has been pounding Ukrainian cities and villages every day since 24 February. Villages have ceased to “exist” because of the massive Russian attacks. Major cities like Mariupol, Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, Dnipro and Izium have sustained massive destruction. The cost of rebuilding Ukraine after the world has been assessed to be a staggering 750 billion USD, a sum that is increasing daily.

Arguing against military intervention in Ukraine according to the UN “Responsible to Protect” doctrine or supplying Ukraine combat aircraft, attack helicopters, cruise missiles, ATACMS, main battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, drones, and air defence to defend its independence and territorial integrity according to the UN Charter, is at best highly immoral. Especially in light of Ukraine defending the security and stability of the countries denying them the tools needed.

“NATO is determined to safeguard the freedom and security of Allies. Its key purpose and greatest responsibility is to ensure our collective defence, against all threats, from all directions. We are a defensive Alliance.

The transatlantic bond between our nations is indispensable to our security. We are bound together by common values: individual liberty, human rights, democracy and the rule of law. We remain firmly committed to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty.”

NATO Strategic Concept 2022

Fearing a Russian escalation of the war after nearly nine years of exactly that – uninterrupted Russian escalation – is utterly meaningless. The unwillingness of some countries to live up to NATO’s commitment and its “shared values” is putting the Alliance at risk while providing Russia freedom of action to destroy a democratic nation, undermine trans-Atlantic security and tear down the international security architecture.

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