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Russo-Ukainian War. Day 332: Heavy fighting for Bakhmut continues

Russo-Ukainian War. Day 332: Heavy fighting for Bakhmut continues
Article by: Hans Petter Midttun

Heavy fighting around Bakhmut continues; Russian sources continued to falsely claim that Russian forces are close to encircling Bakhmut. US Defence Secretary: Russia suffers significant battle losses and is running out of ammunition. Occupiers deported over 2 million Ukrainians, passporting them forcefully.

Daily overview — Summary report, January 21, 2023

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 18.00 pm, January 21, 2023 is in the dropdown menu below:

Situation in Ukraine. January 20, 2023. Source: ISW.


[Russian forces do not abandon their intentions to destroy the critical infrastructure of our country, and keep targeting civilian facilities and civilian residences, thus violating the rules of International Humanitarian Law, the laws and principles of war.]

[The adversary does not abandon its aggressive plans. The Russian forces carry out offensive operations on Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Zaporizhzhia axes, intensifying the employment of aircraft. Russian forces are conducting defence on Kupiansk, Lyman, Novopavlivka, and Kherson axes.]

The threat of Russian air and missile strikes across Ukraine remains high.

On January 21, the adversary launched 7 missile strikes (3 of which targeted the cities of Kramatorsk and Hulyaipole) and 15 air strikes. The invaders also launched 68 MLRS attacks, including at the civilian infrastructure of Nikopol’.

During January 21, the Ukrainian Defense Forces repelled occupants’ attacks in the vicinities of settlements of Novoselivs’ke, Ploshchanka, Chervonopopivka (Luhansk oblast), Bilohorivka, Rozdolivka, Vasyukivka, Krasna Hora, Yahidne, Bakhmut, Predtechyne, Vodyane, and Mar’inka (Donetsk oblast).

Volyn, Polissya, Sivershchyna, and Slobozhansky axes: certain adversary units remain stationed in the border areas with Ukraine, but no enemy offensive groups were found. The forces and means of the armed forces of the Russian Federation, deployed to the Republic of Belarus, are actively reconnoitring the targets of neighbouring states, including Ukraine.

Kharkiv Battle Map. January 20, 2023. Situation: ISW.
  • Volyn, Polissya, Sivershchyna, and Slobozhansky axes: The adversary artillery and mortar fire affected the vicinities of settlements of Volfyne (Sumy oblast), as well as Hur’yiv Kozachok, Veterynarne, Strilecha, Zelene, Ternova, Starytsya, Ohirtseve, Vovchans’k, Vil’cha, Budarky, Krasne Pershe, Kam’yanka, Fyholivka, and Dvorichna (Kharkiv oblast).
  • Kupiansk axis: the vicinities of settlements of Tavil’zhanka, Vil’shana, Orlyanka, Kup’yans’k, Krokhmal’ne, Pishchane, Berestove, Vyshneve (Kharkiv oblast), as well as Novoselivs’ke, and Stel’makhivka (Luhansk oblast), came under tanks, mortars, artillery and missile systems’ fire.
  • Lyman axis: Russian forces fired all available weaponry at the vicinities of settlements of Novojehorivka, Makiivka, Nevs’ke, Ploshchanka, Holykove, Chervonopopivka, Kreminna, and Dibrova (Luhansk oblast).
Donetsk Battle Map. January 20, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Bakhmut axis: Verkhn’okam’yans’ke, Vyimka, Spirne, Bilohorivka, Rozdolivka, Soledar, Krasna Hora, Bakhmut, Chasiv Yar, Klishchiivka, Bila Hora, Pivnichne, Zalizne, Kurdyumivka, and Maiors’k (Donetsk oblast) were hit by fire.
  • Avdiivka axis: Kam’yanka, Avdiivka, Vesele, Vodyane, Pervomais’ke, Krasnohorivka, Heorhiivka, Mar’inka, and Novomykhailivka (Donetsk oblast) came under enemy fire.
  • Novopavlivka axis: the adversary shelled Vuhledar, Bohoyavlenka, and Velyka Novosilka (Donetsk oblast).
Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. January 20, 2023. Source: ISW.
  • Zaporizhzhia axis: tank, mortar, and artillery fire hit Vremivka, Novopil’ (Donetsk oblast), Ol’hivs’ke, Malynivka, Hulyaipole, Charivne, Bilohir’ya, Novodanylivka, Orikhiv, Mali Shcherbaky, Kam’yans’ke, and Plavni (Zaporizhzhia oblast).
  • Kherson axis: the occupant forces once again shelled Marhanets’ and Nikopol’ (Dnipropetrovsk oblast), Antonivka, and Kherson with artillery and missile systems. There are civilian casualties.

The adversary suffers daily casualties in the war of aggression it has unleashed. According to the available information, more than 300 wounded occupants are being treated in the surgical department alone of the city hospital of Starobils’k (Luhansk oblast).

To provide medical care, the Russian occupant forces use not only the already overcrowded medical facilities of the temporarily occupied settlements of the Kherson oblast, but also equip kindergartens as field hospitals. In addition, all doctors in the central hospital of Nyzhni Sirohozy have been replaced, and only the personnel of the Russian occupation forces are now treated there.

A similar situation has developed in Kalanchak, where local doctors were fired, and medical personnel from the temporarily occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea were brought in to replace them. Local residents are not allowed to visit the hospital.

[The adversary is stepping up security measures in the temporarily occupied territories of Zaporizhzhia oblast. In particular, a ban on crossing checkpoints around the city of Melitopol starting March 1 has been announced in this settlement. A special pass to be obtained at the so-called commandant’s office only upon providing personal data is the only way to cross the checkpoints. ]

[Mobilization continues in the temporarily occupied territory of Luhansk oblast. Thus, the occupation administration of Alchevs’k prepared another batch of lists to replenish casualties among the Russian invaders. The replenishments will include, among others, the employees of the so-called Ministry of Emergency Situations.]

On January 20, Ukrainian Air Force launched 18 air strikes on the concentrations of Russian forces and 4 air strikes on the positions of their anti-aircraft missile systems.

The Ukrainian Defense Forces also shot down 2 reconnaissance UAVs Orlan-10 and Merlin-VR.

Missile and artillery units of the Ukrainian Defense Forces hit 1 command post, 2 concentrations, and 1 ammunition depot of the occupiers.

Military Updates

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst.

German Intelligence Alarmed by Ukrainian Huge Losses in Battles for Bakhmut, European Pravda reports. “Germany’s foreign intelligence service (BND) is alarmed by huge losses the Ukrainian army is suffering in fighting against Russian forces in Bakhmut. According to Spiegel, the BND told Bundestag MPs at a secret meeting this week that the Ukrainian army is currently losing a three-digit number of soldiers every day in battles with the Russian occupiers.

The Ukrainians are currently suffering huge losses near Bakhmut. The BND briefing informs about three-digit numbers of casualties per day. According to the analysis, the fall of Bakhmut would have consequences for the entire line of Ukrainian defence. They say that Russia is now throwing soldiers like cannonballs since the losses there do not bother it, Spiegel informs.”

Ukraine’s Armed Forces increasing creation of mobile air defence groups on northern fronts, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the press service of Joint Forces of Ukraine’s Armed Forces. “At the first stage of work, 19 air defence groups were created on the basis of powerful Ford F250 and Ford F350 SUVs, which are adapted to combat conditions. They will protect the sky both on the approaches to Kyiv and the airspace over settlements in the north and northwest of Ukraine.

According to him, the task of the groups is, if necessary, to reach a destination, open fire on the given azimuth of an air target’s approach […]. Naiev reiterated that mobile units are already protecting approaches to critical infrastructure facilities in Volyn Oblast, as well as strategic facilities in Sumy Oblast.

On 20 January, the groups received another batch of off-road vehicles capable of moving quickly and hitting air targets, including the Mohajer-6 and Shahed 136 drones.”

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

  • In recent days, the heaviest fighting has focused on three sectors. In the northeast, near Kremina, Ukraine has likely made small gains and successfully defended against a Russian counter-attack.
  • Around the Donetsk Oblast, in the Bakhmut sector, Russian and Wagner proxy forces have likely been reconstituting in the town of Soledar, after capturing it earlier in the week.
  • In the south, in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, both sides have massed significant forces, which have conducted artillery exchanges and skirmishes but have avoided any large-scale offensive effort.
  • Overall, the conflict is in a state of deadlock. However, there is a realistic possibility of local Russian advances around Bakhmut.
  • On 27 December 2022, the Russian Unified State Register showed that the proxy paramilitary Wagner Group had formally registered as a legal entity. The group declared their core activity as ‘management consultancy’; no mention was made of combat services.
  • It is not yet clear to what extent the ‘PMC Wagner Centre’ entity will be used to administer Wagner’s paramilitary activity. Private Military Companies (PMCs) remain illegal in Russia, despite protracted discussion about reforming the law. Wagner’s owner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has likely partially funded the organisation via inflated government contracts awarded to his other companies.
  • The registration continues the remarkably rapid development of the traditionally opaque group’s public profile. Prigozhin only admitted to founding Wagner in September 2022; in October 2022, it opened a glossy HQ in St Petersburg. Wagner almost certainly now commands up to 50,000 fighters in Ukraine and has become a key component of the Ukraine campaign. The registration likely aims to maximise Prigozhin’s commercial gain and to further legitimise the increasingly high-profile organisation.

Losses of the Russian army 

As of Saturday 21 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 120160 (+860),
  • Tanks – 3140 (+1),
  • Armoured combat vehicles – 6256 (+15),
  • Artillery systems – 2135 (+6),
  • Multiple rocket launchers –MLRS – 443 (+1),
  • Air defence means – 220 (+0),
  • Aircraft – 287 (+0),
  • Helicopters – 277 (+0),
  • Automotive technology and fuel tanks – 4918 (+15),
  • Vessels/boats – 17 (+0),
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 1891 (+5),
  • Special equipment – 193 (+3),
  • Mobile SRBM system – 4 (+0),
  • Cruise missiles – 749 (+0)

US Defence Secretary: Russia suffers significant battle losses and is running out of ammunition, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing CNN. “Lloyd Austin, the US Defence Secretary said on Friday at Ukraine Defence Contact Group in Germany that Russia was running out of ammunition, and it has suffered significant combat losses. […]

The head of the Pentagon noted that Moscow is now turning to its few remaining partners to restock its tragic and unnecessary invasion, but even Iran and North Korea won’t admit that they are supplying Russia.”


Ukraine appeals to the world for help keeping the lights on, NBC News reports. “So far Ukraine has managed to keep its power grid operating despite Russian attacks, but it desperately needs electrical equipment from the US and other countries. Waging an often desperate battle to keep the country’s electricity network working in the face of relentless Russian missile and drone attacks, Ukraine is issuing emergency appeals to the US and other countries to secure transformers, switches, large-scale generators and other gear needed to prevent a total collapse of its power grid, according to Ukrainian and US officials.

In meetings between Ukraine’s top officials and Western governments in recent months, aid for Ukraine’s electricity network is a top priority, a close second to Kyiv’s request for more weapons, the officials said.

The systematic Russian attacks on the power grid that began in October have left 17 million Ukrainians without a regular supply of electricity for extended periods, and some rural areas have been completely offline for days or weeks. About 40% of the electrical network has been damaged.

Electricity outages also halt or hamper water supplies and heating. Without power, water pumps can’t move water to homes, and many central heating systems in cities need electricity to heat water. Natural gas grids, also needed for heating and for stoves, have come under attack, as well. Mobile phone service, which relies heavily on a regular supply of electricity, has also been hit hard, with 50% of the country’s network out of operation. […]

Despite 12 major attacks on the country’s electricity network since Oct. 10 involving more than 1,300 missiles and drone salvos, Russia hasn’t succeeded in depriving Ukraine of heat and light. Utility companies have appealed to Ukrainians to curtail electricity use as much as possible. Authorities schedule daily rolling power cuts in cities across the country that can last up to 10 hours in a day or for consecutive days in areas freshly attacked or near front lines.”


How Russia’s War Is Impacting the Global Environmental Agenda, The Moscow Times reports. “The impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on biodiversity and the climate was not part of the official agenda at two recent major UN environmental conferences, but on the sidelines of both the consequences of the war featured heavily. These discussions demonstrated that far from eclipsing the global environmental agenda, the war in Ukraine has in fact created a new set challenges and is forcing a reappraisal of the transition to renewables.

In the months following the invasion, it seemed that climate issues were slipping down the agenda and that the financing of programs to reduce emissions (primarily in developing countries) would be cut, partly due to a sharp increase in defense spending by Western countries, leading to a slowdown in decarbonization.

The recent summits, however, demonstrated that such fears were largely exaggerated. There is increasing talk of the interconnectivity between the war in Ukraine, climate change, issues of energy and food security, the destruction of ecosystems, and a reduction in biodiversity.

Some consequences of the war can be said to have impacted the climate agenda. Firstly, global energy markets are transforming: many countries have changed their oil and gas suppliers, and are hurriedly building infrastructure for liquefied natural gas, reopening coal-fired power stations, considering extending the lifespan of nuclear power stations (or building new ones), and investing in new fossil fuel projects.

The medium- and long-term trends, meanwhile, remain unchanged: the significance and share of renewable energy sources continue to grow. Investment in this sector is increasing, as is its role in the provision of energy security, and technologies are becoming cheaper and more effective.

Secondly, the war is refashioning global food and fertilizer markets. Multiple countries are now planning to expand grain production and the sourcing of raw materials for producing fertilizer, which represents a threat to ecosystems and biodiversity.

Thirdly, reductions in the supplies of metals from Ukraine, along with partial sanctions and limits on supplies from Russia, are transforming global metallurgy. Some of the changes impact the extraction of metals required for global decarbonization and the energy transition, including steel, aluminum, lithium, nickel, copper, and rare earth metals. […]

At the COP27 UN climate conference in Egypt, representatives of Russian business — above all, atomic energy agency Rosatom — also spoke out against neocolonialism alongside representatives from the Global South. Employing rhetoric about the construction of a multipolar world, the Russian authorities attempted to bring non-Western countries over to their side, sometimes using the carrot of technological collaboration on green issues.

This amounts to a paradoxical situation, in which on the one hand, Russia is increasingly prone to anti-Western rhetoric and vocally advocates the need for a “sovereign green agenda,” while on the other, condemning the exclusion of individual countries from the global climate dialog and calling for the lifting of sanctions and trade restrictions on low-carbon technologies and goods required for the energy transition.

Russia continues to stress the important role played by its ecosystems in solving climate and biodiversity issues, an emphasis that is routinely criticized by environmental experts who accuse Moscow of being reluctant to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in other sectors or to develop its own renewable energy industry.

It’s worth noting as well that at COP27 Russia blocked mention of fossil fuel reduction or growing the share of renewable energy in the final communique, claiming its position stemmed from its support of developing countries.

Russia continues to support “technological neutrality,” arguing that every country should have the right to decide for itself how to best reduce emissions. On Moscow’s part, this chiefly appears to entail developing nuclear and gas-powered energy and relying on its vast forests to absorb its emissions.

The recent UN summits demonstrate that Russia remains interested in green diplomacy, something it has been working on since 2014. Following the annexation of Crimea and the ensuing sanctions, the country’s representatives suddenly showed far more interest in the green aspects of international collaboration, seeing them as an opportunity to continue dialog while also gaining access to financing and new technologies. […]

The Institute of Economic Forecasting, part of the Russian Academy of Sciences, predicts that Russia’s potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will have almost halved by 2050, mainly due to technological limitations. If true, that wouldn’t necessarily prevent Russia from achieving carbon neutrality by 2060, which could happen as a result of economic recession.

A fall in GDP, a decrease in Russia’s share in the global economy, and depopulation could all significantly reduce Russia’s greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed, we may see a repetition of the 1990s, when Russian emissions fell by over 30% — more than the amount required of Moscow under the Kyoto Protocol — due to a steep decline in industrial production following the collapse of the Soviet Union. But that can hardly be considered genuine decarbonization.»

European Parliament adopts resolution on creation of special tribunal for Putin and Lukashenko, Ukrainska Pravda reported on 19 Jan, citing European Pravda. “The European Parliament voted for a non-binding resolution on Thursday, 19 January, calling for the creation of a special international tribunal to prosecute the crime of Russian aggression against Ukraine.

The European Parliament believes that establishing such a tribunal would fill the large gap in the current international institutional criminal justice system and should be based on the standards and principles that apply to the International Criminal Court.

In the resolution, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) emphasised that the special international tribunal must have jurisdiction to investigate not only Vladimir Putin, but also Alexander Lukashenko, the self-proclaimed President of Belarus, and the political and military leadership in Belarus.”

UK joins international push for Russia tribunal, Ukrinform reports, citing Reuters. “The UK government said in a statement it had been invited by Ukraine to join the group and encouraged other G7 nations to also take part. These atrocities must not go unpunished, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said, citing the deaths of soldiers and civilians and the displacement of millions of Ukrainians.”

Occupiers deported over 2 million Ukrainians, passporting them forcefully, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the National Resistance Centre. “During the Russian Federation’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Russians deported more than two million Ukrainians from the temporarily occupied territories. The Russians plan to issue a Russian passport to each of them. […] According to the National Resistance Centre, without a passport, deportees will not get any benefits or services. This way, people are forced to take Russian citizenship.

The National Resistance Centre noted that what the invaders call “evacuation” is actually deportation, because it is always forced. First, the Russians create a humanitarian crisis in the temporarily occupied regions, then they frighten people with the alleged offensive of the Armed Forces and bombings, and then those who succumbed to panic are taken to the Southern Federal District of the Russian Federation – in particular, Krasnodar and Stavropol oblasts. This is done in order to “balance the demographic situation” in these regions, as the peoples of the Caucasus have been actively settling there in recent decades.”


West Still Blocks Two Most Needed Types of Weapons, but Will Hand It over Soon – Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, European Pravda reports. “Ukraine has managed to unblock almost all types of weapons by its partners, except fighter jets and long-range missiles. Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba stated this at a panel discussion at the Ukrainian House in Davos, Switzerland, Ukrinform reports.

Yes, it takes time. Yes, we wish it didn’t take so long for our partners to decide. At the end of the day, we’re getting everything we’re asking for, except for two big things that haven’t been fundamentally unblocked yet – Western fighter jets and long-range missiles. Everything else is unblocked, said the head of Ukrainian diplomacy. Kuleba pointed out that nearly all conversations with countries began with refusal when the war broke out, especially regarding the most sophisticated weapons.

Agreement on tanks for Ukraine not reached at Ramstein meeting, but German government to check Leopard stocks, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing FAZ and European Pravda. “Boris Pistorius, the Federal Minister of Defence of Germany, has said that Western allies have yet to agree on giving Ukraine Leopard 2 main battle tanks at the Ramstein format meeting, but he instructed his ministry to prepare for “the day that may come.” […] At the same time, he made it clear that Germany was preparing to be ready to dispatch Leopard 2 tanks as soon as possible if a decision was made in favour of the supply. […]

Regarding Poland, Pistorius noted that partners who have Leopard tanks are free to train Ukrainian soldiers to use them. Pistorius did not want to answer the question whether Germany will grant Poland and other countries a licence to export German-made tanks. According to the Minister of Defence, this is Chancellor Scholz’s decision.

Mateusz Morawiecki, Polish Prime Minister, hinted that Warsaw could dispatch a company of German-made tanks to Ukraine without Berlin’s consent if it waited for the approval for too long.

Meanwhile, the German government assured that the supply of Leopard tanks to Ukraine was never linked to the supply of Abrams tanks by the United States. Earlier, the mass media reported that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, in a telephone conversation with US President Joe Biden, put forward a condition for the supply of German Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine: Washington should also decide on the supply of its Abrams tanks.”

Ramstein summit fails to agree Leopard tanks deal for Ukraine, Reuters reports. “The United States and its allies failed during talks in Germany to convince Berlin to provide its Leopard battle tanks to Ukraine, a key demand from Kyiv as it tries to breath new momentum into its fight against Russian forces. As protesters in Berlin called on their government to provide the tanks, the talks among military leaders at Ramstein Air Base ended without any such agreement.

Berlin said it would move quickly to allow allies to transfer Leopards in their own arsenals to Ukraine, if a consensus was found. But even that appeared to be inconclusive.

As Ukraine gears up for an expected intensification of the fighting in the coming months, General Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, cautioned about the limits of Ukraine’s military to force out all Russian forces. From a military standpoint for this year it would be very difficult to expel all Russian forces from all bits of Russian-occupied Ukraine,” Milley said.

Reznikov: Ukrainian troops will train on German tanks in Poland, Ukrinform reports, citing VOA’s Ukrainian Service. “Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov has said that Ukrainian forces will train on Leopard 2 battle tanks in Poland, despite Western allies’ failure to reach a decision on whether to supply Kyiv with the German-made tanks. […]

According to him, agreements were reached thanks to the initiatives of Poland and Britain regarding the Leopard and Challenger tanks, respectively. As reported, the UK will begin training the Ukrainian Armed Forces to use Challenger 2 tanks in the coming days.”

Tallinn Pledge: 9 European countries promise unprecedented military aid to Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing the Tallinn Pledge. “A joint statement was signed by the defence ministers of the UK, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, as well as representatives of Denmark, the Netherlands, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. In the document, the signatories condemn Russia’s attacks designed to terrorise Ukraine’s people, including intentional attacks against the civilian population and civilian infrastructure which may constitute war crimes.

Together we will continue supporting Ukraine to move from resisting to expelling Russian forces from Ukrainian soil. By bringing together Allies and partners, we are ensuring the surge of global military support is as strategic and coordinated as possible, the statement says. 

The signatories of the document note that the new level of support for Ukraine requires the provision of tanks, anti-aircraft and anti-missile defence systems that operate together with divisional artillery groups and “further deep precision fires enabling targeting of Russian logistics and command nodes in occupied territory”.

Therefore, we commit to collectively pursuing delivery of an unprecedented set of donations including main battle tanks, heavy artillery, air defence, ammunition, and infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine’s defence,” emphasise signatories of the Tallinn Pledge. They also urged other members of the North Atlantic Alliance and partners to follow suit and contribute their own planned packages of support as soon as possible to ensure a Ukrainian battlefield victory in 2023.”

Defence aid according to press releases and media reports:

Albania ·       Announced the preparation of another support package
Bulgaria ·       Personnel for the training mission of the European Union Assistance Mission Ukraine, as well as in the Combined Arms Training Command in Poland and/or in the Special Training Command in Germany. Annual training of Ukrainian military medical orderlies in Bulgaria.
Canada ·       200 Senator Armoured Personnel Carriers

·       National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) and associated munitions

Czech Republic ·       Produce further large calibre ammunition, howitzers and APCs

·       The Tallinn pledge

Denmark ·       All of its 19 Caesar self-propelled howitzers

·       The Tallinn pledge

Estonia ·       Howitzers, ammunition, artillery support equipment and grenade launchers

·       The Tallinn pledge

Finland ·       Heavy artillery and munitions (package of defence materiel to Ukraine worth more than EUR 400 million. OPSEC precludes more detailed information.
France ·       Unknown, but Prime Minister of Ukraine announced that new massive supplies are expected from France.

·       On 4 January 2023, President Emmanuel Macron promised President Zelenskyy AMX-10 RC and ACMAT Bastion to Ukraine.

Germany ·       Spring package consisting of 40 Marder infantry fighting vehicles, 7 Gepard anti-aircraft self-propelled artillery systems, additional guided missiles for the Iris-T anti-aircraft missile system, and another Iris-T unit.
Italy ·       Unknown, but Prime Minister of Ukraine announced that new massive supplies are expected from Italy.
Latvia ·       Stinger air-defence systems, two helicopters, and drones

·       The Tallinn pledge

Lithuania ·       Anti-aircraft guns and two helicopters

·       The Tallinn pledge

Netherlands ·       Parts of a Patriot air defence system, specifically two launchers and missiles

·       100 vehicles fitted with anti-aircraft guns.

·       The Tallinn pledge

Norway ·       Norway will provide instructors for a multinational contribution to teach explosive disposal to Ukrainian soldiers.

·       On 4 January, Norway donated another 10,000 artillery shells (155 mm) to Ukraine.

Poland ·       S-60 anti-aircraft guns with 70,000 rounds of ammunition

·       The Tallinn pledge

Portugal ·       14 M113 armoured personnel carriers,

·       120mm ammunition

Slovakia ·       The Tallinn pledge
Sweden ·       Archer artillery system

·       50 CV-90 armoured vehicles

·       NLAW portable anti-tank missiles

UK ·       600 Brimstone missiles

·       14 Challenger 2 tanks with armoured recovery and repair vehicles

·       30 self-propelled AS90 guns comprising a battery of eight guns at high readiness and two further batteries at varying states of readiness,

·       Hundreds more armoured and protected vehicles will also be sent including Bulldog,

·       A manoeuvre support package, including minefield breaching and bridging capabilities worth £28 million

·       Dozens more uncrewed aerial systems worth £20 million to support Ukrainian artillery,

·       Another 100,000 artillery rounds; on top of the 100,000 rounds already delivered,

·       Hundreds more sophisticated missiles including GMLRS rockets, Starstreak air defence missiles, and medium range air defence missiles,

·       An equipment support package of spares to refurbish up to a hundred Ukrainian tanks and infantry fighting vehicles.

·       The Tallinn pledge

US ·       59 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, 90 Stryker Armored Personnel Carriers,

·       53 mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles (which are built for a grinding counter-insurgency, also being handed out to police departments all over the US). And

·       350 high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles (better known as Humvees, offering limited protection – me).

·       Avenger air defence systems, and surface to air missiles,

·       Additional munitions for NASAMS A package worth $2.5bn.

Compared to Ukrainian actual needs ·       Combat planes: NONE. Russia is assessed to have 10 times more combat aircraft and helicopters than Ukraine.

·       Air Defence: SOME, but hardly enough. Three Patriots pledged (US, DEU and NLD) but not yet delivered. US has delivered two NASAMS and has pledged six more by 2025. Canada will acquire the NASAMS from the US and transfer it to Ukraine. Germany has delivered first out of four IRIS-T. Three more to be delivered in 2023. France has delivered two Crotale two batteries of Crotale NG air defense missile systems. France and Italy will provide SAMP/T.

·       Long-range fire: SOME, but NO ATACMS or cruise missiles enabling destruction of S-300/400 targeting Ukrainian cities or Russian military capabilities on Crimea.

·       Tanks: CLOSE TO NONE. Only 14 British Challenger 2 tanks. Ukraine is assessed to have 750-1,000 tanks, the great majority being T-64 and T-62 (suffering the same design flaw as the Russian tanks). Russia has 1,5 times more tanks.

·       Infantry Fighting Vehicles/Armoured Vehicles: SOME. 109 Bradley, 80 Marder, some AMX-10 RC infantry vehicles, alongside a much greater numbers of armoured vehicles in various technical state, hardly constitute the punch Ukraine need to start a major offensive.  Additionally, Ukraine is assumed to have around 3,000 armoured vehicles, of which half is “infantry mobility vehicles”. Russia might have as much as 3,5 times more APCs.

·       Artillery: SOME, but hardly enough. As of late 2022, only 25-30% of artillery lost had been replaced. Ukraine is assumed to have approximately 620 pieces of artillery, while Russia might have as many as 1,400. Ukraine is, however, dominating the long-range (35-50 km). Both parties are suffering shortage of ammunition.

Conclusion Ukraine’s ability to protect the civilian population and its critical infrastructure will gradually improve this year. A greater part of the air defence systems will, however, be delivered next year and beyond.

Ukraine has repeatedly said it needs 600 to 700 infantry fighting vehicles plus 300 tanks to give enable it to break through the increasingly fortified frontline. Lacking combined arms capabilities and consequently the ability to manoeuvre, its dependency on artillery and high expenditure of shells will continue.

Ukraine will struggle to expel all Russian forces this year – not for lack of courage – but because of Western reluctance to provide it with the tools needed to defeat Russian forces.

New Developments

  1. New military aid will allow Ukraine to advance – NATO Secretary General, Ukrainska Pravda reports, citing Spiegel and European Pravda. “Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of NATO, who participated in the Ramstein Format Meeting, has welcomed the announcement of new weapons’ deliveries to Ukraine. The fact that Ukraine will receive hundreds of new armoured vehicles, infantry fighting vehicles, and tanks will be of great importance for the country, said Stoltenberg. This support will not only allow the Ukrainians to defend themselves against new Russian offensives but will also allow them to launch their own offensive actions to gain control over the territory back, added Stoltenberg.”
  2. Polish Defence Minister believes ‘tank coalition’ building will end in success, Ukrinform reports, citing the Polish National Defence Minister, Mariusz Błaszczak. “Poland hopes for Germany to agree on providing Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and, generally, expects to build a coalition of countries that will arrange the supply of battle tanks for the Ukrainian Army. Hope comes from the fact that defense ministers of 15 countries met on the sidelines of today’s conference and we talked about this topic, Błaszczak said.”
  3. Kremlin tells ‘deluded’ West that tanks for Ukraine will change nothing, ReutersThe Kremlin said on Friday that Western countries supplying additional tanks to Ukraine would not change the course of the conflict and the West would regret its “delusion” that Ukraine could win on the battlefield.”
  4. Biden about Leopard tanks: Ukraine is going to get all the help they need, UkrinformUS President Joe Biden commented on a question about whether he supports sending Leopard tanks to Ukraine, saying that the country will receive “all the help” it needs to fight against Russian troops.”
  5. Russia says relations with US at an all-time low, ReutersBilateral relations are probably at their lowest point historically, unfortunately, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. There is no hope for improvement in the foreseeable future. Already poor US-Russia ties became even more strained last year when Russia invaded Ukraine, prompting Washington and its allies to respond with a barrage of sanctions against Russia’s economy.”
  6. S. plans to impose new sanctions next week against Russia’s Wagner private military group, Reuters reports. “The United States will impose additional sanctions next week against the Russian private military company, the Wagner Group, that US officials say has been helping Russia’s military in the Ukraine war, a senior administration official said on Friday. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the US Treasury Department will designate Wagner as a significant Transnational Criminal Organization. […] Declaring Wagner a Transnational Criminal Organization under US executive order 13581 freezes any US assets of Wagner and prohibits Americans from providing funds, goods, or services to the group.”


  1. On the war. 

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of  January 20, 2023:

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of Friday 20 January:

Russian forces continued offensive operations around Bakhmut on January 20. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian assaults near Bakhmut itself, within 32km north of Bakhmut near Verkhnokamiankse, Krasnopolivka, Soledar, and Krasna Hora; and within 16km southwest of Bakhmut near Ivanivske and Dyliivka. Geolocated footage published on January 19 indicates that Russian forces have likely captured the eastern part of Sil (15km north of Bakhmut). A Russian milblogger claimed that Wagner Group fighters conducted an assault near Blahodatne (12km north of Bakhmut) and continued attempts to advance in the eastern outskirts of Bakhmut. German outlet Der Spiegel reported that the German Intelligence Service has intelligence that indicates that Ukrainian forces are losing a three-digit number of soldiers every day in the Bakhmut area. Fighting in the Bakhmut area continues to be highly attritional for Russian forces as well. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) Territorial Defense claimed that Russian forces captured Klishchiivka (7km southwest of Bakhmut) on January 20, following Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin’s claim that Wagner Group fighters captured the settlement on January 19. The Russian MoD referred to Wagner Group fighters once again as “volunteers of assault detachments” likely to downplay the Wagner Group’s role in tactical advances while also shielding itself from previous criticism that it does not acknowledge the Wagner Group’s involvement in such claimed advances.

Russian sources continue to falsely assert that Russian forces are close to encircling Bakhmut. DNR Head Denis Pushilin stated on January 20 that Wagner Group fighters are close to starting the operational encirclement of Bakhmut following Russian tactical advances in Soledar and supposedly in Klishchiiivka. Russian forces have still not cut any major Ukrainian ground lines of communications (GLOCs) into Bakhmut from Siversk, Sloviansk, and Kostyantynivka. Russian forces would need to cut the majority of these GLOCs and advance further around Bakhmut to even begin an operational encirclement of the city. Russian forces are unlikely to achieve an operational encirclement in the near term as recent offensives to capture small settlements of little tactical significance have likely further degraded Russian manpower and equipment in the area. ISW continues to assess that the Russian offensive to capture Bakhmut is likely culminating due to the Russian military’s increasingly degraded operational capabilities in the area.

Russian forces continued offensive operations in the Donetsk City-Avdiivka area on January 20. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian assaults within 32km southwest of Avdiivka near Vodyane, Marinka, and Pobieda. A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian and Ukrainian forces are continuing positional battles within Marinka (27km southwest of Avdiivka). Another Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces conducted an assault near Paraskoviivka (36km southwest of Avdiivka).

Russian forces conducted a limited ground assault in western Donetsk Oblast on January 20. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled a Russian assault near Novosilka (65km southwest of Donetsk City) in western Donetsk Oblast. The Ukrainian General Staff also reported that Russian forces continued routine indirect fire along the line of contact in Donetsk and eastern Zaporizhzhia Oblasts.

Head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov continues to frame Chechen fighters’ involvement in the war in Ukraine on distinctly religious grounds, thereby building out his reputation and the reputation of his power base. Kadyrov responded to the recent list of guidelines for grooming standards in the Russian army and noted that a majority of Chechen fighters wear beards in accordance with the Sunnah, and additionally claimed that his Chechen fighters have been responsible for major gains in Mariupol, Sievierodonetsk, and Lysychansk. Kadyrov questioned the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD)’s justifications for these guidelines and said they would demoralize fighters who are “waging a holy war.” Kadyrov additionally amplified a sermon given by Chechen theologian Magomed Khitanaev on January 20 that claimed that the “special military operation” in Ukraine is aimed at eradicating Ukrainian “satanism.” Kadyrov has repeatedly justified Chechen fighters’ involvement in the war on distinctly religious grounds, thus presenting himself as the protector of Muslim fighters and bridging the gap between Chechen forces and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s framing of the war on religious and moral grounds.

Kadyrov also notably posted footage on January 20 of a group of Chechen theologians completing their training at the Russian Special Forces University in Grozny, Chechnya, and noted that over 300 qadis (magistrates and judges who implement sharia law) and imams are planning to undergo similar training and deploy into Ukraine. The fact that Chechen qadis will supposedly be embedded in Chechen units that deploy to Ukraine is noteworthy—qadis typically serve a judicial role in criminal and civil matters, and their presence in Ukraine may suggest that Kadyrov intends Chechen forces to serve a basic governance function in occupied areas. ISW has previously reported on Kadyrov’s efforts to position himself and his Chechen powerbase as a parallel and complementary structure to the conventional Russian armed forces. Kadyrov may hope to use qadis and imams in Ukraine to set social conditions for the long-term resettlement of Muslim populations from the Caucasus in occupied areas of Ukraine, although there is no independent evidence of any such plans. […]

The Wagner Group appears to be struggling to present itself as an effective parallel military structure, thus increasingly proving to be a parasitic paramilitary entity. […] Reports suggest that Wagner lacks basic administrative organs to maintain records of individual servicemen and communicate properly with authorities. Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin ironically has gone to great lengths to criticize the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) establishment, which he has accused of being inept in precisely these ways.

The Wagner Group may additionally be relying on the Russian MoD for the use of military assets on the frontline. A prominent Wagner Group-affiliated Russian milblogger posted an infographic on January 20 reportedly showing the array of military assets that Wagner is using around Bakhmut, including a TOS-1A thermobaric artillery system (typically a military district-level asset), various self-propelled guns and mortar systems, several armored vehicles, and an Su-25 aircraft. The use of these assets, particularly aviation assets such as the Su-25, suggests that Wagner is working with the Russian MoD to access and operate these systems. While Wagner servicemen can feasibly operate these systems independently, they likely continue to rely on the MoD for logistical support and maintenance functions. Taken in tandem with reports of pervasive administrative and communication failures within Wagner’s ranks, the use of MoD equipment suggests that Wagner is functioning more as a parasite attached to the Russian armed forces than as the entirely self-contained, parastatal organization that Prigozhin tries to present it as being.

US intelligence confirmed the rivalry between the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and Wagner Group on January 20. National Security Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby stated that a rift is forming between Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin and Russian MoD officials as a result of an ongoing competition between conventional Russian forces and Wagner mercenaries in Ukraine. Kirby added that Wagner “is becoming a rival power center to the Russian military and other Russian ministries” with its 50,000-strong group of forces in Ukraine consisting of 40,000 convicts and 10,000 contractors. ISW continues to monitor the progression of the Wagner-Russian MoD conflict in the information space, with the Russian MoD again deliberately avoiding directly acknowledging Wagner troops’ participation in a claimed capture of Klishchiivka, Donetsk Oblast, on January 19. […]

The Kremlin is likely intensifying its efforts to present Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as an existential war to set informational conditions for a protracted war in Ukraine. Russian and social media sources circulated images on January 19 and 20 showing Russian officials installing air defense systems on the roof of the Russian Ministry of Defense building in Moscow and elsewhere near the city. Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov refused to comment on the images, and State Duma Deputy Yevgeny Lebedev called them fake. Some Russian milbloggers responded to these images with satisfaction that Moscow residents would finally be aware that Russia is involved in a “difficult war” in Ukraine. The Kremlin likely deployed the air defense systems in Moscow to generate inflammatory images that portray the war as more threatening to the Russian public. It is unlikely, however, that the Kremlin believes that Ukraine would target Moscow and it likely engaged in this ostentatious play to support intensifying information operations to prepare the Russian domestic information space for a protracted war in Ukraine and further sacrifices. This demonstration is also likely a part of the emerging information operation to contextualize the war in Ukraine in the Russian mythos of the Great Patriotic War, which is likely meant to increase Russian support for the war effort and further mobilization by absurdly portraying Ukraine as threatening Moscow and the rest of the Russian heartland in a way to the way Nazi Germany did during its invasion of the Soviet Union.

Prominent Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin replaced Russian Commander of the Airborne Forces, Colonel General Mikhail Teplinsky, with First Deputy Head of the Russian General Staff Academy, Lieutenant General Oleg Makarevich, on January 20. A prominent Russian news source initially claimed on January 13 that Teplinsky was only on a temporary leave and denied milblogger reports about Teplinsky‘s dismissal. Some milbloggers complained that Makarevich is the least suitable candidate to command the Russian Airborne Forces and called for Putin to instead appoint Colonel Vadim Pankov, current commander of the 45th Separate Guards Spetsnaz Brigade. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) has not yet confirmed Teplinsky’s dismissal nor confirmed Makarevich’s appointment. Teplinsky replaced former Commander of the Russian Airborne Forces, Colonel-General Andrey Serdyukov, in mid-June 2022, as ISW previously reported. […]

The Kremlin continues to promote information operations threatening escalation over Western military assistance to Ukraine. Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated on January 20 that if Western defense ministers decided to provide Ukraine with heavy tanks at their meeting at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany, then this would only “add problems for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.” The Kremlin seeks to undermine Western willingness to offer aid to Ukraine by stoking fears of an escalation, whether between Russia and the West or of the war in Ukraine itself, that Russia cannot execute. The Kremlin will likely continue to respond to Western conversations about further military assistance to Ukraine with vague threats of escalation that have no corresponding action. […]

Key Takeaways

  • Head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov continues to frame Chechen fighters’ involvement in the war in Ukraine on distinctly religious grounds, thereby building out his reputation and the reputation of his power base.
  • The Wagner Group appears to be struggling to present itself as an effective parallel military structure, thus increasingly proving to be a parasitic paramilitary entity.
  • US intelligence confirmed the rivalry between the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and Wagner Group on which ISW has long reported.
  • The Kremlin continues to engage in demonstrative public actions aimed at setting informational conditions for a protracted war in Ukraine.
  • Russian Telegram sources claimed that Putin dismissed Russian Commander of the Airborne Forces Colonel General Mikhail Teplinsky, but these reports remain unconfirmed.
  • The Kremlin continues to promote information operations threatening escalation over Western military assistance to Ukraine in order to weaken Western support.
  • Russian and Ukrainian forces reportedly continued offensive operations near Svatove and Kreminna.
  • Russian forces continued offensive operations across the Donetsk Oblast front line. Russian sources continued to falsely claim that Russian forces are close to encircling Bakhmut.
  • Russian forces in Zaporizhzhia Oblast are still likely preparing for a defensive operation in the long term despite recent claims of territorial gains.
  • Russian officials and sources continue to indicate that mobilization measures are ongoing despite numerous claims that mobilization has officially concluded.

Russian officials and occupation authorities continue deporting Ukrainian children from occupied Ukraine to Russia.

Commander of Russian troops in Ukraine will try to neutralise Head of Wagner Group, Ukrainska Pravda reported on 19 Jan, citing the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine (DIU). “Valery Gerasimov, the newly appointed commander of the joint group of Russian troops in Ukraine, will try to neutralise Yevgeny Prigozhin, the owner of the Wagner Group Private Military Company (PMC); the latter, in turn, plans to get into “the main positions” in the entourage of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

They [Wagner Group mercenaries – ed.] are being driven into a deadly offensive with the full support of the Russian Armed Forces. And now Gerasimov is unlikely to provide him [Prigozhin] with such support, because he needs his own achievements and victories, and he will do everything to neutralise Prigozhin. These are logical decisions. And if there is success somewhere, it will be success for Shoigu [Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu – ed.] and Gerasimov, not Prigozhin.

In addition, Cherniak noted that a fierce struggle for power and a place near Vladimir Putin is currently underway in the Kremlin. In his opinion, Prigozhin has concentrated his efforts on the war in order to get into the main positions in Putin’s inner circle. Strengthening his position and then taking up high positions are the steps for his [Prigozhin’s] survival, the Ukrainian intelligence official added.

At the same time, Prigozhin is trying to show himself as a winner, and senior officials in the Russian Defence Ministry and the Russian General Staff are making desperate attempts to raise their own ratings.”

CIA director holds secret meeting with Zelensky on Russia’s next steps, The Washington Post reported on 19 Jan. “CIA Director William J. Burns traveled in secret to Ukraine’s capital at the end of last week to brief President Volodymyr Zelensky on his expectations for what Russia is planning militarily in the coming weeks and months, said a US official and other people familiar with the visit. […]

Top of mind for Zelensky and his senior intelligence officials during the meeting was how long Ukraine could expect US and Western assistance to continue following Republicans’ takeover of the House and a drop-off in support of Ukraine aid among parts of the US electorate, said people familiar with the meeting. All spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private high-level engagement.

Burns emphasized the urgency of the moment on the battlefield and acknowledged that at some point assistance would be harder to come by, the people said. Zelensky and his aides came away from last week’s meeting with the impression that the Biden administration’s support for Kyiv remains strong and the $45 billion in emergency funding for Ukraine passed by Congress in December would last at least through July or August, those familiar with the discussion said. Kyiv is less certain about the prospects of Congress passing another multibillion-dollar supplemental assistance package as it did last spring, they said. […]

Most conflicts end in negotiations, but that requires a seriousness on the part of the Russians in this instance that I don’t think we see, Burns told PBS last month. At least, it’s not our assessment that the Russians are serious at this point about a real negotiation.

A CIA spokesperson declined to characterize what Burns relayed to Zelensky on Russia’s military planning. Any insights he might offer would be highly valued in Kyiv. […] Military analysts expect that an uptick in fighting this spring could determine the war’s trajectory.

The United States and Western countries are rushing armored vehicles, artillery and missiles to Ukraine in an effort to bolster its military’s firepower, hopeful the additional equipment will enable Zelensky’s army to break through Russian-controlled areas such as Zaporizhzhia in an offensive expected to begin in the coming months. […]

Recently, Burns has linked the Russian president’s decision to invade Ukraine as a key step in his goal of returning Moscow to its former glory. He is convinced that his destiny as Russia’s leader is to restore Russia as a great power, he told an audience at a security forum in Aspen in July. He believes the key to doing that is to re-create a sphere of influence in Russia’s neighborhood and he does not believe you can do that without controlling Ukraine and its choices. And so that’s what produced, I think, this horrible war.”

US officials advise Ukraine to wait on offensive, official says, Reuters reports. “Senior US officials are advising Ukraine to hold off on launching a major offensive against Russian forces until the latest supply of US weaponry is in place and training has been provided, a senior Biden administration official said on Friday. The official, speaking to a small group of reporters on condition of anonymity, said the United States was holding fast to its decision not to provide Abrams tanks to Ukraine at this time, amid a controversy with Germany over tanks.

US talks with Ukraine on any counter-offensive have been in the context of ensuring the Ukrainians devote enough time first to training on the latest weaponry provided by the United States, the official said. US officials believe an offensive would stand to be more successful should the Ukrainians take advantage of the training and the significant infusion of new weaponry. The United States on Thursday announced it will send hundreds of armored vehicles to Ukraine for use in the fight.”

Milley: It’s very possible for Ukrainians to run operational-level offensive operation, Ukrinform reports. “This year, the Ukrainian forces will have every opportunity to conduct a large-scale offensive operation to liberate as much territory as possible, but it still will be very difficult for the Armed Forces of Ukraine to eject the Russian forces from every inch of Ukrainian land.

From a military standpoint, I still maintain that for this year, it would be very, very difficult to militarily eject the Russian forces from every inch of Russian-occupied Ukraine. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but it will be very, very difficult, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Army General Mark A. Milley said following the Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting in Germany on Friday.

He explained that the line of confrontation where the fighting is ongoing is very long, comparing it to the distance from Washington, D.C. to Atlanta. That is a significant amount of territory, and in that territory are still remaining a lot of Russian forces in Russian-occupied Ukraine, Milley noted.

He projected that a continued defense stabilizing the front can happen in the near future. This will depend, among other things, on the supply of Western weapons and training of Ukrainian soldiers on them. I do think it’s very, very possible for the Ukrainians to run a significant tactical or even operational-level offensive operation to liberate as much Ukrainian territory as possible, the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

At the same time, he noted that Russia’s war against Ukraine, like many wars in the past, will end at the negotiating table, where the terms for peace will be determined by the leaders of both countries. However, Milley noted, there is a faster option: President Putin could end this war today. In this context, the General emphasized that this is a war of Putin’s choice, and it is in his interests to end it as soon as possible because it’s turning into an absolute disaster for Russia.”

  1. Consequences and what to do? 

Macron boosts French military spending by over a third to ‘transform’ army, Reuters reports. “France will boost military spending by more than a third in coming years, President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday, as he unveiled ambitions to transform the French army to deal with the great “perils” of this century.

Acknowledging the end of the “peace dividend” of the post-Cold War era, Macron said the planned 2024-2030 budget would adapt the military to the possibility of high-intensity conflicts, made all the more urgent since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine almost 11 months ago.

The budget for the period will stand at 413 billion euros ($447 billion), up from 295 billion euros in 2019-2025, which will mean that by 2030, France’s military budget would have doubled since he took power in 2017, Macron said. […] He added France would invest massively in drones and military intelligence, areas where French officials say recent conflicts had exposed gaps, and that the military should pivot towards a strategy of high-intensity conflict.”


Hans Petter Midttun: “We recognise that equipping Ukraine to push Russia out of its territory is as important as equipping them to defend what they already have. Together we will continue supporting Ukraine to move from resisting to expelling Russian forces from Ukrainian soil. By bringing together Allies and partners, we are ensuring the surge of global military support is as strategic and coordinated as possible. The new level of required combat power is only achieved by combinations of main battle tank squadrons, beneath air and missile defence, operating alongside divisional artillery groups, and further deep precision fires enabling targeting of Russian logistics and command nodes in occupied territory.

Therefore, we commit to collectively pursuing delivery of an unprecedented set of donations including main battle tanks, heavy artillery, air defence, ammunition, and infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine’s defence.”

The Tallinn Pledge had higher ambitions than the actual outcome of the meeting of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group at Ramstein on Friday. It is, however, a demonstration of the discord within NATO. The countries that still remember occupation and oppression – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic – supported by some of the countries that have fully acknowledged the threat Europe is facing (UK, Denmark, and the Netherlands) are building a coalition inside the Alliance in opposition to its present level of ambition.

The small minority within NATO will likely increase over time at the cost of the traditional leading European countries. The Polish Defence Minister, Mariusz Błaszczak, claimed that 15 countries met on the sidelines of the Ramstein meeting to discuss the delivery of main battle tanks to Ukraine.

The outcome of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group at Ramstein fell short of Ukrainian expectations as well.

The outcome must be seen in connection with the assessment of CIA director William J. Burns. He emphasized the urgency of the moment on the battlefield and acknowledged that at some point assistance would be harder to come by. This is not at all reflected in the US and German decision to not supply tanks or any of the other essential tools Ukraine needs to be victorious on the battlefield.

After the last meeting of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group on 16 November, US Secretary of Defense, Lloyd J Austin, said:

And all of these initiatives help prepare the Ukrainians to consolidate their gains during the winter and to prepare to seize new initiatives in the spring, and you can see this contact group’s ongoing unity and commitment in some of the announcements that its members made.”

In December, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, stated that Ukraine needs 300 tanks, approximately 700 infantry fighting vehicles and 500 howitzers to be able to achieve the next major objective. That has not been achieved by any measures.

The timely inflow of weapons and ammunition – both quality and quantity – creates the basis for further Ukrainian offensives. In essence, the West holds the key to Ukraine’s course of action. While many experts expected a Ukrainian counter-offensive this winter to ensure Russia was denied the opportunity to regenerate and prepare for a new major offensive, Ukraine’s international partners have failed to deliver. The US prediction in late 2022 of a spring offensive comes true because of the slow and limited delivery of the tools needed.

After the meeting, General Mark A. Milley, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff concluded that it from a military standpoint, will be very, very difficult to militarily eject the Russian forces from every inch of Russian-occupied Ukraine. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but it will be very, very difficult, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Army General Mark A. Milley said.

Despite Ukraine lacking the 2,780 fixed-wing aircraft, 1,900 M1A1 Abrams, 460 attack helicopters and more than 1,500 modern infantry fighting vehicles the US fielded to fight the (at the time) fourth biggest military power during Desert Storm, General Milley still maintain that Ukrainian forces will have every opportunity to conduct a large-scale offensive operation to liberate as much territory as possible.

Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin concluded that: “While time was of essence in getting to Ukraine the equipment and training it needed to take the fight to Russia’s forces when full-scale combat resumes in the spring, Ukraine was well-equipped even without the Leopards [and Abrams – me].”

The statement by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff might inadvertently have given us an insight into the US strategy.

It is either waiting for Europe to take a lead on solving the war threatening its security, stability and prosperity, or it is aiming for a prolonged war at the cost of Ukraine.

Due to the European failure to invest in its own security and defence during the last decades, however, the US is the only country capable of fielding the weapon systems needed to cut the war short. It has no intention of doing that at the moment.

Lacking US and German leadership, let’s hope Polish leadership and its efforts to build a “tank coalition” is successful.


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