Issue 258, 8 February 2023
Situational report 8 FEB 2023
- Although no confirmed changes occurred in Ukraine on Wednesday, the situation near Bakhmut deteriorated for Ukrainian forces defending this sector; over the next few days, Ukrainians may start pulling back from the most threatened areas;
- No changes occurred in the Kharkiv Oblast;
- Likewise, there were no changes near Kreminna and the broader Luhansk Oblast; interestingly, some Russian sources floated the idea of a Ukrainian counterattack in the oblast;
- No changes were reported in Bakhmut. On the other hand, Russians may have reached the M03 road linking Slovyansk with Bakhmut, west of Krasna Hora. Ukrainian positions in Krasna Hora are becoming critical;
- Russians reportedly captured Vodyane;
- The situation in Vulhedar remained stable;
- There were no changes in the Kherson and Zaporizhihia Oblasts;
On Wednesday, the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) repelled Russian attacks near Novoselivske, Chervonopopivka, Shypylivka, Bilohorivka in the Luhansk Oblast and Verkhnokamyanske, Fedorivka, Orikhovo-Vasylivka, Dubovo-Vasylivka, Spirne, Vyimka, Bakhmut, Krasna Hora, Paraskoviivka, Ivanivske and Chasiv Yar, Kamyanka, Vodyane, Pervomaiske, Krasnohorivka, Avdiivka, Mariinka, Bohoyavlenka in the Donetsk Oblast.
Russians launched three missile attacks, one of which struck civilian infrastructure in Slovyansk. At the same time, 45 air strikes were also conducted. In addition, Russians launched more than 67 MLRS attacks, particularly on the civilian infrastructure in Beryslav and Komyshany in the Kherson Oblast.
Russians also carried out artillery strikes on towns and villages near the state border. Specifically, they shelled Zarutske, Vovkivka, Sokhany, Pavlivka, Yunakivka, Sadky, and Miropillya in the Sumy Oblast, and Udy, Chervona Zorya, Krasne, Lyptsi, Starytsya, Verkhnya Pysarivka, Ambarne, Fyholivka in the Kharkiv Oblast. Russians also launched air strikes near Kozacha Lopan and Oliinykove also in the Kharkiv Oblast.
Regarding battlefield strikes, on Wednesday, Russian artillery struck Kupyansk, Kurylivka, Kyslivka, Tabaivka, Berestove, Dvorichna, Zapadne in the Kharkiv Oblast and Novoselivske, Stelmakhivka, Kreminna, Kuzmyne, Dibrova, Bilohorivka in the Luhansk Oblast. In the Donetsk region, they shelled Bilohorivka, Rozdolivka, Bakhmut, Bohdanivka, Ivanivske, Mykolaivka, Klishchiivka, Ozaryanivka, Oleksandro-Shultyne, Vesele and Avdiivka, Vodyane, Pervomaiske, Heorhiivka, Marinka, Pobieda, Novomykhailivka, Vuhledar, Zolota Nyva, Neskuchne and Vremivka, Novopil. In the Zaporizhzhia Oblast, Russians hit Olhivske, Malynivka, Hulyaipole, Mala Tokmachka, Novodanylivka, Novoandriivka, Shcherbaky, Kamyanske. In the Kherson Oblast, they fired at Zmiivka, Beryslav, Shlyakhove, Lvove, Tyahynka, Antonivka, Yantarne, Berehove, Veletenske and the city of Kherson.
Ukrainian Air Force launched 21 air strikes on the Russian concentration areas and three on air defence sites. Ukrainian artillery and missile units hit two Russian command posts, three concentration areas, three air defence sites, two ammunition depots, and one fuel and lubricants depot.
The situation at selected axes and directions
Although no significant changes occurred in the Kharkiv Oblast, battles continued on the Oskil river’s left bank. No ground attacks were recorded near the border with Russia. Neither Ukrainian nor Russian sources reported about Russian advances in the oblast.
That said, Russians again conducted heavy artillery strikes on Vovchansk, Kupyansk, Dvorichna, Strilecha, Veterynarne, and Varvarivka, damaging civil infrastructure.
According to Oleh Synehubov, the head of Kharkiv Oblast, Russians were reinforcing their presence in Kupyansk and Dvorchina areas. There are conflicting reports about the situation near Dvorchina, as some Russian sources claimed battles were ongoing near Synkivka. However, we have not been able to confirm any changes or significantly increased Russian activity in this sector.
Likewise, the Luhansk Oblast saw no significant changes. According to Serhiy Haidai, the Luhansk Regional Military Civil Administration Head, the hardest battles occurred near the Kreminna area, where Russians undertake daily attempts to break through Ukrainian defensive lines. He described the current situation in this area as “maximum escalation”. He added that Russians also suffer from heavy losses, but he did not elaborate on this further.
According to Leonid Pasechnik, the Luhansk People’s Republic Head, the UAF had accumulated enough forces to launch a counterattack in the oblast. He stated that Ukrainians’ focus is not so much on Svatove or Kreminna but also other cities in the region, such as Lysychansk, Rubizhne and Troitske. There were indeed some rumours that Ukrainians pushed towards Lysychansk a few days ago, but they seemed a bit unrealistic, and we have never confirmed their authenticity.
Heavy battles west of Kreminna continued, especially in the forest south of the city. According to a Ukrainian source, Russian troops continued attacking towards Torske, but although the situation was “tense, it is controlled”. Ukrainians reportedly withdrew from some positions near Kreminna. A Russian source claimed that Ukrainians could counterattack in the Luhansk Oblast and assembled 30,000-35,000 soldiers to this end.
Russian sources stated that Ukrainians deployed reserves near Yampolivka.
Although Wednesday brought no changes near Bilohorivka, Russians employed combat aircraft to strike Ukrainian positions in this area.
Donetsk Oblast Direction
Russians continued to advance in the Bakhmut area. According to a group of Finnish researchers, the road linking Bakhmut with Slovyansk was physically cut by Russian forces on Wednesday.
However, starting from the northern parts of the oblast, Russians again attacked Spirne and Verkhnokamyanske. However, Ukrainians claim to have repelled all attacks. No reported changes were also made in this area. The same pertains to Rozdolivka and Vesele. Russians committed most of their resources in this sector to attack Ukrainians south of Blahodatne towards Krasna Hora.
Ukrainian bloggers claim that Russians are close to the M03 highway linking Bakhmut with Slovyansk. The Finish OSINT group believes this has already happened and that Ukrainian forces deployed in Krasna Hora face a real perspective of encirclement. Indeed, the situation in Parskoviikva and Krasna Hora deteriorated on Wednesday. According to a Russian source, Krasna Hora is not yet cut off, but the settlement is half-cleared from Ukrainian forces. Russians also launched attacks towards Orikhovo-Vasylivka and Dubovo-Vasylivka, but these assaults were reportedly pushed back. According to Oleksii Arestovych, a political and military columnist, if Russia starts a big offensive, the main task will be to cut off Siversk and encircle Bakhmut.
We assess that unless there is a Ukrainian counterattack, and it seems that none is planned, Russians will capture Krasna Hora within the next few days. Given the extent of Russian advances over the past few days and the overall trajectory of their movement, it is plausible that Ukrainians are already leaving Krasna Hora.
No changes occurred in Bakhmut. A Ukrainian soldier said the situation remained “tense but controlled”, but in the Soledar – Bakhmut – Klischiivka – Stupochky line, Russians conduct daily ground attacks with artillery, trying to find weaknesses in Ukrainian defensive lines. He added that Russians started using aviation support because they had recently lost a lot of heavy equipment. They attack in small and large groups, but according to Ukrainian military intelligence, Russians lose up to one battalion of soldiers per day, a soldier said. We don’t know how Ukrainians assessed the Russian battalion strength, but a motor rifle battalion could have between 350-540 men, while a battalion tactical group of up to 1,000.
According to Arestovych, Ukrainian positions in Bakhmut were ideal for grinding enemy forces, and Russia was “taking incredible losses”. From a military perspective, one or two such areas are worth the effort (and presumably losses). He compared the current situation to Donetsk Airport in 2014-2015, which was held for 242 days. There the ratio of enemy losses was 10-15 to one.
According to a Ukrainian source, there was no evidence that Russians had cut off the highway near Ivanivske. Still, the road can no longer be used for logistics because of the intensity of Russian artillery attacks. Therefore, the only route left to Bakhmut is through Khromove. That said, another source claimed that the UAF repelled a Russian attack near Chasiv Yar, which may indicate that the Russians probably severed the highway.
Attacks near Kamyanka and Khasnohorivka seeking to cut off the H20 road failed. In Avdiiivka, Russians fired artillery and tried to approach Ukrainian positions from the eastern side but were pushed back.
The situation stayed the same in Pervomaiske, Nevelske and Novomykhailivka.
Ukrainian paratroopers in the city reportedly destroyed one of the most modern Russian tanks in service (without specifying what kind of tank it is, probably Т-90 “Proryv”).
Ukrainian 72nd Mechanised Brigade continued to hold Vuhledar. Russians probably conducted another attack on the settlement but were pushed back with heavy losses.
No changes occurred in this area on Wednesday. Positional battles took place near Nesteryanka and Dorozhnyanka.
According to a Russian source, a Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance group was destroyed somewhere in the oblast.
The situation in the Kherson Oblast was also stable. Russian artillery damaged civil infrastructure in Kherson and other settlements in the oblast.
According to Serhiy Khlan, Ukrainian Kherson Oblast Military Administration Advisor, on 6FEB, Russian forces shelled the left bank of the Dnipro River to force Ukrainian civilians to relocate deeper into occupied areas. Khlan also added that the Ukrainian troops destroyed a Russian watercraft and struck a Russian base on the east bank of the Dnipro River on 7FEB.
Military situation in Belarus
On 8FEB, the Belarusian Minister of Emergency Situations, Vadim Sinyavsky, and the Commander of Belarusian Air Force and Air Defence Forces, Col. Andrey Lukyanovich, visited the 50th Mixed Aviation Base.
Both officials arrived to meet with Belarusian personnel departing to Turkey as a part of Belarusian support after the recent earthquakes. Altogether, Minsk sent 64 rescuers with five search dogs, two MAZ trucks, and two cars. The group was transported by Il-76MD (EW-004DE), which landed at Elazig Airport in the morning on Wednesday.
Col. Lukyanovich noted that the Belarusian Armed Forces are not only the guarantor of peace and stability but were also ready to help in difficult times.
Subsequently, the First Deputy Chief of Armaments, Maj. Gen. Alexander Fedin provided information about new military equipment that the Belarusian Armed Forces will adopt in 2023. It pertains to the modernised T-72BM2 tanks and radiotechnical complexes Sopka, Protivnik, and Vostok. Some Belarusian BTR-70 APCs will also be upgraded to the BM1 variant. In the long term perspective, the Belarusian Air and Air Defence Forces will also receive additional Su-30SM fighters and Mi-35M helicopters.
The Head of the Department for the Use and Development of UAVs, Mikhail Bryansky, informed that from 2023, the Belarusian State Aviation Academy would open recruitment for its military faculty for women. However, they will be able to enrol only in specialities linked to UAVs.
On Wednesday, the Belarusian MoD informed about the adoption of an unspecified number of military reservists by several military formations. According to official statements, the event has a planned character and is carried out as a part of the next stage of combat readiness checking in the Belarusian Armed Forces.
Recently, reservists directly participated in the training of the 11th Mechanised Brigade (combat readiness check of the logistic battalion) and the 72nd Joint Training Center (combat readiness check of the communications battalion).
The Belarusian Army plans to call up to 9,000 reservists for military training in 2023.
On 8FEB, the training activity of the Belarusian military formations remained heightened.
Unspecified subunit(s) of the 19th Mechanised Brigade underwent tactical and fire training at Lepelsky Training Ground, including elements of firing, medical, tactical and reconnaissance drills.
At the same time, service members of the engineering-sapper battalion of the 6th Mechanised Brigade likely continued their practical training classes combined with the use of explosive materials, while the 2S5 Giatsint battery of the 51st Artillery Brigade was involved in a special tactical exercise with live ammo firing. Traditionally, artillerymen used MAVIC 3 UAVs to adjust fires.
Moreover, the 72nd Joint Training Center cadets conducted a 25-kilometre-long training march.
On the other hand, the Belarusian MoD informed about the end of the bilateral company-level tactical exercise of the 38th Air Assault Brigade (Brestsky Training Ground).
As noted in the official statement, Belarusian paratroopers executed complex tasks in various terrain. Particular attention was paid to the use of UAVs and tactical medicine. Also, the “nomadic” tactics of the mortar use: fire teams launch mortar rounds sequentially to mislead opposing forces as to the direction of the fire and the number of available forces.
Personnel from the 8th Air Defence Battalion (15th Air Defence Brigade) took part in the military drill classes. At the same time, the 147th Air Defence Regiment hosted a Kettlebell Lifting Championship of the Western Operational Command.
On Wednesday, unofficial sources reported only a few movements of military equipment.
All vehicles were either marked with a star symbol or moving in the Klichevsky district. It indicates that they were likely involved in the ongoing anti-terrorism exercise of the Belarusian KDB (KGB).
Precisely, this pertains to:
- A single ZIL-131 truck with a trailer (was spotted on the M5 highway in the vicinity of Dukora);
- A single MAZ truck with a DRAKON armoured vehicle (were moving towards Minsk from Bobruisk);
- An unspecified column of BTRs (was observed in Nesyata village – described earlier as a potential location where direct training actions are held);
On Wednesday, the Belarusian air components were also active.
It refers to several training flights carried out from Lida (unspecified), Baranovichi (fighters) and Machulischy (An-26 transport aircraft and helicopters) air bases.
Regarding the actions of the Russian Armed Forces, they also conducted training flights from Machulischy Air Base (helicopters). Moreover, the movement of an echelon, including probably 30 Russian BMPs, was observed between Snov and Polonka railway stations.
Unofficial sources also reported the following ground movements:
- Four unspecified light vehicles with at least one Gazel Next and Uaz Patriot jeep were moving in Minsk;
- A single Kamaz truck (possibly with another Maz truck) was moving from Minsk towards Smilovichi;
- Five Kamaz trucks were heading to Barysaw from Minsk;
It must be mentioned that the Belarusian NashaNiva news outlet provided additional data linked to the training of Russian forces in Belarus. Its sources claimed the Belarusian territory is used to train Russian soldiers and prepare the Wagner PMC fighters. Wagner personnel are undergoing training in the Minsk region under strict security measures applied after several unsuccessful escape attempts.
Below are exercises conducted by the Belarusian Armed Forces on Wednesday, 8FEB. To access the complete list of drills conducted since the start of the year, click here:
- 8FEB: Tactical and fire training (Lepelsky Training Ground, unspecified elements of the 19th Mechanised Brigade);
- 8FEB: Possible continuation of the training related to the practical explosive use (unspecified location, engineering-sapper battalion of the 6th Mechanised Brigade);
- 8FEB: Special-tactical exercise combined with live ammo firing (Osipovichi Training Ground?, 2S5 battery of the 51st Artillery Brigade);
- 8FEB: 25-kilometre training march (unspecified location, cadets of the 72nd Joint Training Center);
- 8FEB: The end of the bilateral tactical exercise (Brestsky Training Ground, at least two air assault companies and mortar subunit(s) of the 38th Air Assault Brigade).
Satellite imagery analysis
Pribytki Air Base, Pribytki, Gomel Oblast, Belarus
Airbus imagery acquired 04FEB shows eastern EW/Battle management radar platform is fully operational and one still under construction compared to Airbus imagery acquired 07JAN.
The two western platforms are fully operational, but the small amount of tire marks suggests they are not in use.
Further excavation of the material and the tire tracks suggest an ongoing construction of new platforms on the western side of the airfield.
Lines of advance in Ukraine
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