Counteroffensive operations by the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the west of Luhansk region and in the east of Kharkiv region
Russian troops continued unsuccessful attempts to improve their tactical positions northwest of Svadovo on January 1 and 2 after a tactical pause due to the New Year holidays. A Russian “combat force” said both Ukrainian and Russian forces held a tactical pause on New Year’s Eve, but fighting resumed on January 2. A Russian military blogger reported on January 2 that Russian troops attacked Stelmakivka (about 16 km northwest of Suvatovo), but did not say how it ended. The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported on January 2 that Ukrainian troops repelled an attack by invaders on Stelmakivka. Another Russian source said that heavy artillery fire continued on the Kubiansk-Svatov line and that the ZSU was spying on Russian positions in the Kislivka, Bervomaisky and Olshan areas.
On January 1 and 2, the armed forces continued to repulse counterattacks by Russian troops in the Kremenaya region. Serhiy Cherevy, spokesman for the Eastern Group of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, announced that Ukrainian forces had repelled attacks by Russian troops in Bilogorivka (about 13 km southeast of Kremenaya) and that the Luhansk regional military administration had destroyed Russian forces. Armored Group (about 13 km northwest of Kremenaya). The Russian “warrior” also said that Russian troops tried to attack the square, but did not specify the outcome. Another Russian source noted that the Ukrainian armed forces are preparing a large-scale offensive near Kremenaya, and that Russian forces are expecting a counterattack from the Ukrainian side once the ground freezes in the area. The source said that the Armed Forces of Ukraine were constructing pontoon crossings southwest of Kremenaya and were spying on Russian positions in Diprova (about 6 km west of Kremenaya), Kremenaya and Philokorivka. ISW noted that no attempt was made to assess the validity of these claims.
Russian sources say that the Ukrainian army has launched a series of HIMARS strikes against the rear positions of the Russian army in the occupied part of the Luhansk region. “LNRivtsi” said that armed forces of Ukraine with the help of Himars attacked Pervomaisk, Chmyrivka (on the eastern outskirts of Staropilsk), Svatovo and Rubizhny in the occupied part of Luhansk region.
The Center for Ukrainian Defense Strategies, the Ukrainian Analytical Center for National Security, reported that Russian forces are mainly using units of the Western and Central Military Districts (ZVO and TsVO) on the Kharkiv-Siversk front line. The Center noted that 23 to 28 Russian Battalion Tactical Groups (BTG) of the Western and Central Military Districts currently cover about 154 km of front line in this area with an area of 5.5 km per BTG. The center established that the ZVO of the 1st Tank Army and elements of its 4th and 47th Tank Divisions were operating in this direction; 6th Combined Arms Army (ZVA), 3rd Motorized Rifle Division of the 20th ZVA and 11th Army Corps (AK) of the Baltic Fleet, units of the Central Military District of the 90th Tank Division, 201st Air Force (Russian base Tajikistan), 2nd ZVA and 41st ZVA from the Northern Military District, part of the 14th AK, Russian airborne divisions of the 76th Airborne Forces, 106th Airborne Forces, separate special operations forces of the Airborne Forces. The report also noted that the Donetsk and Luhansk “1st and 2nd Army Corps” and units of the “Wagner” group are also fighting on this front.
Analysts write that these BTGs do not have their normal ultimate strength and do not degrade in battle. ISW also notes that on November 29 the British Ministry of Defense announced that Russian forces would not be stationed at BTG premises.
The situation in Donbass
Ukrainian sources say Russian troops are redeploying to the east and trying to keep up the momentum of the artillery attack. The official representative of the Eastern Group of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Col. Serhii Serevaty, said on January 2 that the Russian invaders were looking to reduce the firing rate from 20-80,000 rounds per day to a maximum of 20,000 per day. Soviet 122mm and 152mm ammunition depots domestically and internationally. Cherevaty said that Russian forces are prioritizing shelling along the front line in Pakmut and Avdivka over other areas of the front. Two Russian battalion tactical groups (BTG) of the 137th Guards Airborne Brigade of the 106th Guards Tula Airborne Division have arrived in Popazna, Luhansk region and are expected to operate in the direction of Popazna, the Ukrainian Center for Defense Strategies reported on January 1. Soledar or Popasnyanskyi-Bakmutskyi direction. These BTGs are probably degenerate and depressed, researchers say.
Russian troops continued their ground offensive in Bagmut and Avdiivka with slow progress on 1 and 2 January. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Russian PVK “Wagner”, said that the Ukrainian forces have greatly fortified the residential area around Bakhmut, so a new defense line appears “every 10 meters”. The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine announced on January 1 and 2 that Ukrainian forces had repelled ground attacks by the invaders in the Bagmud region; north of Bakmut near Krasnaya Gora; Northeast of Pakmut in Soledar, Filokorivka, Rostolivka and Pakmutsky region; south of Bakhmut in Ozaryanivka district; and southwest of Bakhmut near Klishchiivka. A Russian source said Russian forces had captured several Ukrainian positions near Klishivka, and geo-located footage showed Russian forces had made some progress in the area of the settlement. Russian “fighters” claimed that Russian troops had advanced 1.7 km in the Soledar-Bakhmutske area and captured Ukrainian positions northeast of Bakhmut in the Pidgorodny area, but ISW could not confirm these claims.
The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces reported on January 2 that Ukrainian troops repelled attacks by Russian ground forces southwest of Avdiyivka in Obidny and Krasnorivka regions. A Russian military blogger said fighting was ongoing in the Maryinka area and that Russian troops were trying to advance towards Kamianka from the directions of Nevelske, Pervomayske and Opytne.
A prominent Russian “military official” said the Russian offensive on Vugledar in the southern Donetsk region was “closed”, confirming ISW’s recent assessment that the Russian troop advance on the front line in the Donetsk region may have reached its peak. . The military blogger noted that Russian forces are conducting daily offensive operations along the entire eastern front, but these operations are mostly tactical in nature.
Russian troops continued limited ground offensives in the southern direction between January 1 and 2. Natalia Kumenyuk, a representative of the Southern Operations Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said on January 2 that Ukrainian forces continue to block Russian attempts to attack the positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the Kherson region on Ukraine’s left (east) bank. Force the Dnieper and Russian troops to regroup. On January 2, the Russian “Battle Force” announced that Russian troops had raided Ukrainian positions in the Novopokhrovka, Zaporizhia region, and that Russian troops were stationed in captured Doroshnyanka and had advanced to Myrny (10.5 km west of Doroshnyanka). The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation announced the defeat of Ukrainian forces in the Doroshnianka region. ISW cannot independently verify these reports. The troops of the Russian Federation continued shelling the population centers in the southern direction.
Various sources continue to report that the Russian military is building defenses and redeploying forces in the occupied territories of Zaporizhia and Crimea. Sentinel satellite images show Russian soldiers building trenches on Dec. 29 along the P37 road near Bohdanivka in the central part of Zaporizhia Oblast. The Ukrainian Center for Defense Strategies announced on January 1 that the Russian Army is redeploying “regional troops” (mobilized as light infantry units) in an effort to restore the combat capability of the 49th Army’s 205th and 34th Separate Motorized Rifle Regiments. and reuse of a logistics hub and two logistics routes in the south of the occupied Crimea and Zaporizhia region. Petro Andryushchenko, advisor to the mayor of Mariupol, said on January 2 that Russian authorities moved newly mobilized soldiers to the Ursuf, Donetsk region (4 km from the border with Zaporizhia region). Satellite images show that between June 30, 2022 and January 1, 2023, Russian troops expanded the Belbek air base in Crimea.
Russian troops continued defensive operations in the Kherson region. On January 1, Natalia Kumenyuk, a representative of the Southern Operations Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said that Russian troops were preparing for defensive operations on the left bank of the Dnieper. Despite troop shortages in the east, Russian forces are maintaining a significant, unspecified number of forces in the south, he said, and Russian forces are redeploying mobilized reserve forces to the front line in the Kherson region. An open source (OSINT) analyst has shared photos of Russian troops believed to be on riverside patrols in the marshlands south of Kherson.
The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces announced on January 1 that Russian forces were shelling populated areas on the east bank of the Dnieper opposite the city of Kherson, displacing and disrupting the humanitarian situation in the Kherson region.
Ukraine’s armed forces continue to attack concentrations of Russian manpower and equipment in the southern direction. On January 2, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine announced that Ukrainian troops had attacked those captured by the invaders. Tarasivka, Basan, Polazhi, Berdyansk and Dokmok, resulting in the death of more than 175 Russian soldiers, the destruction of Russian ammunition depots and 12 units of weapons and military equipment. On the night of January 1-2, an OSINT analyst spread unconfirmed reports from local residents that Ukraine’s armed forces had hit the Arabatskaya arrowhead in occupied Crimea, causing panic among local “authorities”.