Day 662: Dec 17
Today, there are a lot of updates from the Kupiansk direction.
Kupiansk is one of the five main targets in eastern Ukraine that Russians identified for their winter offensive, and over the last three days, the intensity of fighting here reached the same level as in Avdiivka.
The fighting here resembles the first stage of the Avdiivka offensive because, according to Ukrainian fighters from this region, Russian forces are actively using dozens of tanks and armored fighting vehicles and hundreds of troops to overwhelm Ukrainian forces.
As of now, the hottest part of the front line is the Synkivka area.
Here, Russian forces are the closest to Kupianks, which is why they are really focused on this area. The goal of Russian forces is not only to reach Kupiansk but also to cut off Ukrainian forces in Kyskivka from supplies and cause a complete collapse of the front line. If successful, they would not need to incur thousands of losses to cross these vast fields.
Ukrainian forces understand the importance of holding defense in Synkivka and have created a powerful defense belt leveraging the local geography. A Ukrainian fighter reported that they managed to completely stall Russian progress in the forest by laying thousands of mines and that Ukrainian drone operators are actively monitoring the area and destroying small reconnaissance groups by dropping on them grenades from drones.
Still, it seems like Russians managed to secure a narrow pathway from Lyman Pershyi to Synkivka and are using it to conduct mechanized assaults.
Over the last 10 months, Russian sources made countless claims that Russian forces established control over Synkivka, however, geolocated combat footage suggests that Russians only managed to reach it around one week ago.
Based on the available geolocated footage, it is clear that Russians are using this road from Lyman Pershyi to assault Ukrainian positions on the outskirts of Synkivka.
A several-day-old video shows one of such assaults. As you can see, Russians are using two tanks with mine-clearing equipment at the front to clear the pathway and suppress Ukrainian positions with fire, while eight armored vehicles behind them carry around 80 troops to conduct the assault.
Another video that was released later by Ukrainian fighters shows the assault itself.
Ukrainian artillery opened fire and destroyed four armored personnel carriers, meaning half of the infantry that was supposed to storm Ukrainian positions.
Still, another half managed to reach Ukrainian positions under cover of tanks and initiate close combat fighting. The video shows how Ukrainian fighters, despite being outnumbered, assumed an all-round defense and tried to repel the Russian attack.
Despite their best efforts, Russians managed to capture the first houses in Synkivka.
After the Russians understood that they had a foothold, they started reinforcing the groping as fast as possible.
Drone footage shows how Russians sent two more armored vehicles with around 20 troops thought the same area, where Ukrainians previously destroyed half of the assault unit.
Ukrainian fighters from the 14th Mechanized Brigade were ready to meet them. Shortly, the first vehicle gets destroyed by the Javelin. Half a second later, the second vehicle followed suit. As you can see, the infantry was sitting right on top of the vehicle, precisely where the missile landed a moment later, eliminating the whole group.
Nonetheless, the Russian commanders did not want to lose an opportunity to develop their offensive inside Synkivka, so they sent another assault unit.
It seems like they decided not to waste any more vehicles and sent all of them on foot.
The assault unit tried to quickly move between dense tree areas, however, they were spotted by a drone, and the Ukrainian artillery shelled the whole area, eliminating another batch of reinforcements.
In the meantime, Ukrainian forces conducted a counterattack. Instead of just firing at Russian positions, a Ukrainian tank crew decided to make sure that the Russians would not be able to use these houses on the outskirts to establish a foothold, and after damaging them with fire, they completely crushed the buildings.
Overall, Russian forces continue trying to gain ground by overwhelming Ukrainian forces with sheer numbers, and sometimes it works.
Nonetheless, the limited logistical possibilities did not allow the Russians to develop their success, which led to a subsequent loss of the previously captured positions.
The Russian attempt to take Synkivka seems premature because they do not control enough ground in the forest, at least in front of the settlement. Unless Russians solve the problem with Ukrainian defenses in the forest, the probability that they can capture Synkivka is extraordinarily low.
In our daily frontline report, we pair up with the military blogger Reporting from Ukraine to keep you informed about what is happening on the battlefield in the Russo-Ukrainian war.