Issue 242, 17 January 2023

folder_openUkraine Conflict Monitor

*PLEASE NOTE THAT THE LINK TO THE SCRIBBLE MAP HAVE CHANGED. THE CURRENT MAP IS ACCESSIBLE HERE*

Situational report CAO 17JAN2023

Key takeaways
  • Tuesday brought limited changes to the frontline. Despite this, no operationally significant events occurred;
  • The frontline remained unchanged in the Kharkiv Oblast, although Russian artillery attacks across the region continued unabated;
  • In the Luhansk Oblast, Russians may control Novoselivske, while some sources indicated Ukrainian presence in Chervonopopivka;
  • Russian attacks in the broader Donetsk Oblast continued, but they had no impact on their territorial control;
  • Ukrainians maintain that their forces are still fighting for Soledar, while Russians claim that the city has been captured;
  • The situation in Bakhmut appears stable as Russian attacks on the city were repelled. However, the situation southwest of the city is concerning, as Russians are trying to sever the line of communication between Bakhmut and Kostyantynivka;
  • There were no changes in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts;
  • There were no changes in the posture of the Belarusian Armed Forces. The tempo of Belarusian exercises remains heightened.
General outlook

On Tuesday, the Ukrainian Armed Forces repelled Russian attacks near Bilohorivka in the Luhansk Oblast and Verhnokamyanske, Spirne, Krasnopolivka, Silj, Soledar, Bilohorivka, Bakhmut, Pivnichne, Kamyanka, Vodyane and Nevelske, Mariinka, Pobieda in the Donetsk Oblast.

Russians launched six missile strikes, three of which hit a civilian area in Kramatorsk, the Donetsk region. Russians also launched 14 air strikes and carried out 95 MLRS attacks.

Russians also carried out artillery strikes on towns and villages near the state border. In particular, they shelled Mykolaivka in the Chernihiv Oblast. Atynske in the Sumy Oblast. Vetyrenarne, Lukyantsi, Starytsa, Hatyshche, Vovchansk, Rybalkyne, Nesterne, Zemlyanky, Bolohivka, and Kamianka in the Kharkiv Oblast were also hit.

Apart from these strikes, Russian artillery also struck Kyslivka, Kotlyarivka, Ivanivka, Dvorichna in the Kharkiv Oblast and Novoselivske, Andriivka, Ploshchanka, Chervonopivka, Kreminna, Dibrova in the Luhansk Oblast. In the Donetsk Oblast, they shelled Terny, Yampolivka, Verhnokamyanske, Vyimka, Bilohorivka, Vesele, Soledar, Krasna Hora, Bakhmut, Klischiivka and Kurdyumivka, Druzhba, Zalizne, Nui York, Avdiivka, Vodyane, Nevelske, Heorhiivka, Mariinka and Novomykhailivka and Vuhledar, Prechystivka, Vremivka and Novopil. In the Zaporizhzhia Oblast they hit Temyrivka, Poltavka, Malynivka, Hulyaipole, Mala Tokmachka, Novoandriivka, Shcherbaki, Stepove, Kamyanske and Plavni. In the Kherson Oblast, they fired at Antonivka, Sadove, Lvove, Kachkarivka and Havrylivka, and the city of Kherson.

Clearly, based on this data alone, the geographical scope of Russian strikes remains largely unchanged. Compared to the past week, the biggest decline is in the Kherson Oblast, which means a deprioritisation of this direction in Russian military planning, both in the offence and the defence.

Ukrainian aviation carried out 12 strikes on Russian concentration areas and four on air defence sites. According to the UGS, Russians also lost one Su-25 close air support aircraft. Artillery and missile formations hit two command posts, five concentration areas, an ammunition depot, a radar station, and an electronic warfare station.

The situation at selected directions and axes

Kharkiv/Luhansk Oblast direction

The situation in the Kharkiv Oblast remained unchanged.

Russians again struck Kupyansk using missiles fired from S-300 air defence systems, damaging civil infrastructure. Strikes, as always, were witnessed across the entire eastern part of the oblast. According to Oleh Synyehubov, the Governor of the Kharkiv Oblast, Russians shelled Kupyansky, Chuhuevsky and Kharkivsky districts. There were no reports about military targets hit in these strikes.

The Russian MoD claimed a Ukrainian sabotage group was destroyed near Lyman Pershyi. It also stated that Russian aviation struck a weapon storage depot of the 114th Territorial Defence Brigade in ​​Veliky Burluk.

From the frontline point of view, there were no changes in the Luhansk and Kharkiv Oblast. According to Serhiy Haidai, the Luhansk Regional Military Civil Administration Head, in the Kreminna – Svatove direction, the situation is stable, and UAF were moving forward (again failed to support these claims with evidence), but Russians are constantly transferring reserves into the Luhansk Oblast. Russian paratroopers sent to Kreminna are trying to improve defensive lines and fortify the city. Of course, the more time they will have, the more difficult it will be for Ukrainians to pierce through Russian lines near the town. So far, all Russian attacks have been repelled.

The situation in Novoselivske remained constant. On Tuesday, a Russian source did not report any changes in the village. However, Ukrainians claimed they controlled half of the settlement. Russian sources also do not inform about changes near the settlement. According to a Ukrainian source, the UAF control half of the village. Russians conduct attacks daily, but they appear too small to push Ukrainians away.

There were some positional battles near the MakiivkaPloshchanka area, but they did not impact the frontline.

A Russian source claimed a Russian attack near Chervonopopivka on Tuesday, but it is unclear whether it resulted in any frontline changes. A Ukrainian source claimed that UAF could already advance to Kreminna from the north, and most likely, they have already reached the P66 highway near Chervonopopivka or Pishchane. It is not the first time claims about Ukrainians severing the P66 road have been made. However, we continue to lack any visual evidence to support these claims. Undoubtedly, fighting is taking place for the highway, but most likely, the Ukrainian troops do not control this area completely.

There were no changes near Kreminna. No Ukrainian advances were recorded towards the city. According to Oleksii Arestovych, political and military columnist (former advisor in the President’s Office), Russians continue to try to advance in the direction of Lyman, but have so far been unsuccessful.

However, a video was posted online on Tuesday, which appeared recently, showing Ukrainian artillery strikes on Russian positions in Diborova. We do not know when exactly the video was made. However, it suggests that Russian forces still control the village.

On Tuesday, the UAF repelled the Russian attack on  Bilohorivka. But according to a Russian source,  earlier Russian troops tried to break through into the village from the north. Now they attempt to advance from the southeast.

Donetsk Oblast Direction

The fighting continues in the Soledar-Bakhmut area, while Russian progress in other parts of the Donetsk Oblast remains incremental.

Starting from the northern parts of the Donetsk Oblast, on Tuesday, Russian troops tried to attack Spirne and Verhnokamyanske, but these attacks did not manage to penetrate Ukrainian positions in these areas.

Wagner PMC fighters continue to attack in Vesele, Rozdolivka and Krasnopolivka direction. Their main task is to cut off roads to Siversk. A Ukrainian source claimed on Tuesday that the Ukrainian 45th Artillery Brigade hit Russian positions near Rozdolivka.

According to Serhiy Cherevaty, Ukraine’s Eastern Military Command spokesman, Ukrainian units are still present in Soledar, and their positions did not change compared to the previous day. Russian sources claimed that they already controlled the entire city. Fighting could be ongoing near the Silj railway station, where Wagner service members were recorded, which administratively is a part of Soledar. On the other hand, the Russian source maintained that the entire station is under Russian control.

No information was available on Tuesday about Russian progress near Blahodatne and Krasna Hora, although attacks in this area occurred.

Heavy fighting occurred in Bakhmut on the Patrisa Lumumby street, probably north of the Artwinery. Yet, despite this, no changes occurred as far as the city is concerned. Russians continue to attack with human waves, but despite taking heavy casualties, this approach has not impacted the battlefield

There was no new information about the status of Opytne. Fighting continues around the village.

A Ukrainian source claimed that the situation in Klischiivka was critical. Russian formations approached Klischiivka or may have entered the village. It was even speculated that the settlement had been captured. Russian sources did not confirm this development. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner Group, said that the village was not captured, but the fighting for it continued.

On Tuesday, Russians combined ground assault with artillery strikes on Ukrainian positions in Avdiivka. However, this did not bring any results.

According to a Russian source, Russian troops became more active in southern parts of the Donetsk Oblast. On Tuesday, they attack in the Novobakhmutivka direction. With the support of artillery, they also assaulted  Novomykhailivka. The result of these activities are unknown, but neither side reported any frontline changes. Apart from that, attacks also occurred near Nevelske, Pervomaiske and Vodyane.

A Russian source stated that Russians conducted assault operations in Mariinka. According to Denis Pushylin, the DPR head, all the skyscrapers in the city have been either cleared of Ukrainian forces or are controlled by Russian units. For this reason, he expects the Mariinka to fall as soon as possible.

Russians continued to attack in the Pobieda and Krasnohorivka direction, trying to find weak points in Ukrainian defence to attack Mariinka, but so far, without result.

On Tuesday, there was an artillery attack on Vuhledar. Also, Russian troops attacked in the Prechystivka and Velyka Novosilka direction to improve their local positions, but Ukrainians repelled all attacks.

According to the Russian MoD, near Zolotaya Niva Russians hit a Ukrainian 61st Mechanised Brigade’s concentration area. The same area was hit near Prechystivka, but belonging to the 108th Territorial Defence Brigade.

Zaporizhzhia Oblast Direction

Tuesday delivered no changes in the Zaporizhzhia direction.

According to Oleksandr Strukh, the Zaporizhzhia Oblast Military Administration head, at night, Russians hit Bilenke, damaging civil infrastructure.

Kherson Oblast Direction

Likewise, the situation remained the same in the Kherson Oblast. Russians again hit the city of Kherson, damaging civil infrastructure. Russian artillery also fired at Antonivka, Sadove, Lvove, Kachkarivka and Havrylivka.

According to Natalia Humeniuk, Head of the United Coordinating Press Centre of Security and Defence Forces of South of Ukraine, as of Tuesday, there were six Russian combatants operating in the Black Sea capable of launching Kalibr missiles. In a coordinated strike, they all can launch up to 44 Kalibr cruise missiles in one salvo.

According to Christian Udarov, commander of the “Tradition and Order” unit on the Left Bank of the Dnipro River, the Russians are preparing for defence in areas south of the Dnipro River. This confirms our assessment that the Russian posture in this area is inherently defensive. Udarov stated that although Russians were bringing in reservists to man defensive lines in the Kherson Oblast, there was no indication that they were planning offensive actions.

Military situation in Belarus

On 17JAN, there were no unusual activities of Belarusian military officials.

The Belarusian Ministry of Defence (MoD) published photos presenting the official welcome ceremony of Russian pilots who arrived to participate in the joint tactical-flight exercise. The date of the ceremony still needs to be confirmed because Russian airframes landed on Belarusian soil a few days prior to when the pictures were published. Published snapshots present at least six Russian pilots and Su-34 fighter aircraft likely located in the Baranovichi Air Base.

On Tuesday, the heightened training activeness of the Belarusian Armed Forces was still observable.
This was related to the continuation of several training actions that started last week.
This pertains precisely to the combat readiness inspection of the 72nd Joint Training Center and combat training classes of the 120th Mechanised Brigade’s subunits.

As a part of the abovementioned inspection, service members of the 72nd Joint Training Center conducted a 60-kilometre march to the designated area. According to the Deputy Head of the formation, Col. Sergey Kot, particular attention was paid to how quickly subunits could prepare the equipment for the march and how fast they could cover the distance. Kot added that service members completed their tasks timely and presented a high level of training and coordination.

The 51st Artillery Brigade also underwent a sudden check of combat readiness. Unspecified subunits of the formation were ordered to collect their equipment and depart to an indicated training area.

At the same time, the 227th Combined Arms Training Ground hosted fire preparation drills carried out as a preparation for the upcoming 339th Mechanised Battalion’s control classes, as well as tactical medicine and firing classes conducted by the personnel of the 358th Mechanised Battalion.

Moreover, information about the ongoing combat training drills of the unspecified 38th Air Assault Brigade elements was published. It is clear that practical actions started on 16JAN and are held on the Brestsky Training Ground. According to unofficial sources, they might even be continued to 28JAN.

In the meantime, soldiers of the communication battalion of the 11th Mechanised Brigade and the 120th Air Defence Brigade took part in the firing classes.

On 17JAN, unofficial sources informed only about one noteworthy movement of Belarusian military equipment. It refers to three URAL trucks that were moving in Minsk. In addition, several training flights carried out from Lida and Baranovichi air bases were reported.

Similarly, the activity of the Russian Aerospace Forces was observed in the latter base. Clearly, at least two cargo planes (An-12: RF-93586 and An-26: RF-90319) landed after midday and departed to Russia after leaving unspecified cargo.

On the other hand, the ground activity was quite average. It included a single GAZEL NEXT vehicle moving in Minsk and presumably a Russian fuel truck spotted in Baranovichi.

Besides, the movement of four Russian echelons was observed on Belarusian soil: 

  1. An echelon with at least 17 new KAMAZ trucks was moving through Gatovo towards Novy Dvor;
  2. An echelon with at least 15 MSTA-B howitzers and six personnel cars was spotted at Osipovichi-1 Railway Station – it was presumably unloaded;
  3. An echelon with an unspecified number of personnel cars and several Russian soldiers was spotted at Osipovichi-2 Railway Station;
  4. An echelon with 50 platforms with unknown military equipment and 2-3 personnel cars were moving through Gomel-Seviernyy Railway Station.

It must be mentioned that Radio Svaboda news outlet published recent satellite imagery of the Lepelsky Training Ground in the Vitebsk region. The range belongs to the Belarusian 19th Mechanised  Brigade. However, unofficial sources stated that since 22OCT, it has been used by Russian units deployed there.

The imagery published by Radio Svoboda confirms the presence of 150 various military vehicles (mainly trucks, but also tanks and BMPs) and almost 50 tents. In addition, military equipment was also observed at the nearby Zaslonovo Railway Station and in the garages next to the training ground, confirming ongoing movement around the training ground.

Summary of main Belarusian training activities in January 2023

17JAN: Continuation of the Russo-Belarusian tactical-flight exercise (All Belarusian air bases and Air Force training grounds, unspecified number of Belarusian airframes and presumably 12 helicopters and eight fighters of the Russian Aerospace Forces);

17JAN: Continuation of the combat readiness inspection with a 60-kilometre training march  (unspecified location, 72nd Joint Training Center);

17JAN: A sudden check of the combat readiness (home garrison, unspecified elements of the 51st Artillery Brigade);

17JAN: Continuation of the combat training classes (227th Combined Arms Training Ground, 339th and 358th Mechanised Battalions of the 120th Mechanised Brigade);

17JAN: Fire training classes (various locations, Communications Battalion of the 11th Mechanised Brigade and elements of the 120th Air Defence Brigade);

16JAN: Start of the combat training drills (Brestsky Training Ground, unspecified elements of the 38th Air Assault Brigade);

16JAN: Start of the Russo-Belarusian tactical-flight exercise (All Belarusian air bases and air force training grounds, unspecified number of Belarusian airframes and presumably 12 helicopters and eight fighters of the Russian Aerospace Forces);

16JAN: Field exit combined with combat training classes (227th Combined Arms Training Ground, likely 339th Mechanised Battalion of the 120th Mechanised Brigade);

16JAN: Possible continuation of the combat training classes (227th Combined Arms Training Ground, 358th Mechanised Battalion of the 120th Mechanised Brigade);

13JAN: Continuation of the combat readiness review (various locations, 72nd Joint Training Center);

12JAN: Continuation of the combat readiness check of the 19th Mechanised Brigade (227th Combined Arms Training Ground, elements of the 4th Tank Battalion);

12JAN: Continuation of the field exit (Losvido Training Ground, Peacekeeping Company of the 103rd Airborne Brigade);

12JAN: End of the field exit (home garrison, at least one mechanised company of the 11th Mechanised Brigade);

12JAN: Off-road driving classes (Osipovichi Training Ground, drivers of the 336th Reactive Artillery Brigade);

12JAN: Readiness review (likely home garrison, 1st and 2nd battery of the SPH Battalion of the 11th Mechanised Brigade);

12JAN: Tactical and combat training classes (unspecified location, elements of the 339th Mechanised Battalion);

11JAN: Field exit of OSA air defence subunit combined with the start of combat duty (unspecified location, presumably elements of the 147th or 740th Air Defence Regiments);

11JAN: Combat readiness check (unspecified training ground, at least one mechanised company of the 11th Mechanised Brigade);;

11JAN: Combat readiness check (likely home garrison, the 72nd Joint Training Center)

11JAN: Field exit combined with tactical exercises (Losvido Training Ground, Peacekeeping Company of the 103rd Airborne Brigade);

11JAN: T-72 firing classes (Gozhsky Training Ground, tank crews of the 6th Mechanised Brigade);

11JAN: Practical gathering of SOF officers (garrison of the 5th Spetsnaz Brigade, battalion level commanders, chief of staffs, and deputy commanders of the Belarusian SOF);

11JAN: Annual gathering of military divers (garrison of the 188th Engineering Brigade, military divers from various military formations);

11JAN: Practical gathering linked to the UAV use (unspecified location, UAV operators from the 40th Mechanised Battalion);

10JAN: Continuation of the combat readiness check of the North-Western Operational Command formations (unspecified area near Berezina River, 4th Tank Battalion, and elements of the 7th Engineering Regiment and 740th Air Defence Regiment involved);

9JAN: Combat readiness check of the North-Western Operational Command formations (227th Combined Arms Training Ground and Berezina River area, 4th Tank Battalion of the 19th Mechanised Brigade and 7th Engineering Regiment involved);

5JAN: Gathering dedicated to the organisation of combat training measures (Brest, Belarusian SOF subunit commanders);

4JAN: BTR-82A and BMP-2 firing classes (227th Combined Arms Training Ground, cadets of the 72nd Joint Training Center);

4JAN: T-72 indirect firing classes (227th Combined Arms Training Ground, tank crews of the 120th Mechanised Brigade);

3JAN: Engineering training classes (unspecified location, elements of the 40th Mechanised Battalion of the 11th Mechanized Brigade);

3JAN?: Field exit combined with live ammo firing (230th Combined Arms Training Ground, 2S1 Battalion of the 841st Artillery Group of the 11th Mechanised Brigade).

4JAN: BTR-82A and BMP-2 firing classes (227th Combined Arms Training Ground, cadets of the 72nd Joint Training Center);

4JAN: T-72 indirect firing classes (227th Combined Arms Training Ground, tank crews of the 120th Mechanised Brigade);

3JAN: Engineering training classes (unspecified location, elements of the 40th Mechanised Battalion of the 11th Mechanized Brigade);

3JAN?: Field exit combined with live ammo firing (230th Combined Arms Training Ground, 2S1 Battalion of the 841st Artillery Group of the 11th Mechanised Brigade);

Lines of advance in Ukraine

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