In recent days, both sides have made small advances along the front line. But the hottest point is still Bakhmut, where the battle continues for almost five months.
South of Bakhmut, Wagner PMCs conducted assault operations near Kleshcheevka, WarGonzo reports . On the eastern outskirts of the city itself, oncoming battles continue. To the northeast, the Wagner PMC is attacking in the Podgorodny area. And south of Soledar, he is trying to break through the defense of the Armed Forces of Ukraine near Bakhmutsky. Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of Ukraine repelled attacks in the area of Marinka and Krasnogorovka.
Destroyed apartment buildings, heavily wounded soldiers, mud-filled trenches and civilians in cellars under relentless shelling have been a familiar reality in and around Bakhmut since the fighting began.
Gaining control of a city with a pre-war population of 70,000-80,000, which has dwindled to almost 10,000, could give Russia a springboard to attack the two larger cities of Kramatorsk and Slovyansk, Reuters notes . Due to fierce fighting, most of Bakhmut is in ruins.
On December 20, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky arrived at the positions of Ukrainian troops in Bakhmut. He personally presented awards to Ukrainian servicemen.
Fortress Bakhmut. Our. Disobedient to the enemy. Who, with their courage, prove that we will stand and will not give up ours. Ukraine is proud of you. IM proud of! Thank you for the courage, resilience and strength that you demonstrate in repelling enemy attacks," Zelensky wrote on his Telegram channel.
Zelensky has already come to the front, on December 6 he visited Slovyansk, and on November 14 - Kherson.
Former Defense Minister of the "DPR" Igor Girkin (Strelkov) ridiculed Russian President Vladimir Putin after Zelensky's arrival at the front.
“Zelensky flew to Bakhmut (Artyomovsk) and awarded his soldiers fighting at the front against us. (One must think that during the visit of a high-ranking Kyiv partner, Wagner suspended hostilities.) But Vladimir Vladimirovich rewards his heroes right in the Kremlin ... Look at these honest courageous faces, admire the proud posture of the heroes. Well, who motivated their soldiers and officials to continue the battle better? - For me, the answer is obvious. “The entire Donetsk People’s Republic, which adores its Head Denis Vladimirovich just a little less than Vladimir Vladimirovich, is in ecstasy and is ready for new great achievements...,” Girkin wrote in the Telegram channel.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner PMC, also reacted to the arrival of the Ukrainian president in Bakhmut, whose press service published a video with Putin’s “cook” in the Bakhmut direction. In the footage, Prigozhin addresses Zelensky with a proposal to meet in Bakhmut, using artillery to attract attention. According to Prigozhin, he went to the positions when he learned that Zelensky decided to visit Bakhmut.
“Dear Vladimir Aleksandrovich, if you have not left Bakhmut yet, I am ready to meet you. Prigozhin,” says the founder of the PMC.
By the time Prigozhin’s statement was released, Zelensky’s representatives reported that he had already left the city.
Russia has begun moving tanks, trucks and personnel of the RF Armed Forces from training grounds in Belarus to the south of the republic, closer to the border with Ukraine. "Belarusian Gayun" claims that during the day on December 20, the transportation of equipment and mobilized Russian troops from the Belarusian training grounds in the northern and central parts, where they were deployed, to the south was recorded.
On December 13, an unscheduled check of the combat readiness of the Armed Forces was carried out in Belarus on behalf of Lukashenka. Before that, the commander of the Joint Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Lieutenant-General Sergei Naev, said that Ukraine was preparing to respond due to the accumulation of troops in Belarus.
In the Suzemsky district of the Bryansk region, power supply was disrupted due to the shelling of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. This was announced by Governor Alexander Bogomaz.
“Today, the Armed Forces of Ukraine shelled the territory of the Suzemsky district. There were no casualties. As a result, power supply was partially disrupted in the village,” wrote Bogomaz. Later, he said that as a result of a drone attack on the territory of the distribution zone in the Trubchevsky district, there was destruction of an administrative building and a car.
The video of the arrival of the Ukrainian kamikaze drone on the building of the Trubchevskaya Distribution Zone was published by the pro-Russian Telegram channel “Military Informant”.
80% of the Kyiv region remains without electricity due to infrastructure damage after yesterday's shelling. This was stated by the head of the Kyiv regional military administration Oleksiy Kuleba.
“As a result of large-scale damage to the energy infrastructure, Ukrenergo applies emergency power outages. Without electricity - 80% of the region. The most difficult situation is in the Buchansky, Vyshgorodsky, Obukhovsky and partially Fastovsky districts. These are more than 30 communities,” Kuleba wrote on his Telegram channel.
On the night of December 19, the Russians attacked the Kyiv region and the capital with kamikaze drones. Infrastructure facilities and private houses were damaged. Three people were injured.
balance of power
Volodymyr Datsenko, a columnist for the Ukrainian edition of Forbes, publishes data collected from open sources, which show that the Armed Forces of Ukraine are gradually closing the gap with the Russian Armed Forces in terms of the main indicators of military power, but the Russian side still has a huge advantage in equipment, artillery and aviation. Russia suffers heavy losses, but Ukraine receives help from the allies, and also seizes equipment at the front.
Russia is the main supplier of heavy weapons to Ukraine (at least tanks and armored vehicles). Despite the fact that the mobilization did not particularly help the Russian side, the Russian army managed to deliver a large amount of military equipment to the lithium front. The newly mobilized arriving at the front are already better prepared. But they are still poorly equipped, the analyst notes.
Russia changed its tactics for the third time. At first, they relied on heavy armored vehicles and rapid breakthroughs, in the summer the Russians began to use groups of armored vehicles and infantry to attack, and now the assault is mainly carried out by infantry forces with the support of artillery (as in the First World War).
Ukraine, on the contrary, now uses much more armored vehicles in the offensive. The lack of sufficient tanks forces the use of lighter vehicles, but this is much more effective than an attack with infantry alone.
As Datsenko writes, Russia can probably afford to mobilize up to a million more soldiers. And this will allow you to fight for a long time. But the key advantage is artillery. Given tens of millions of old Soviet shells, Datsenko assumes that there are still quite a few stocks of artillery.
In the meantime, Russia is running out of more scarce long-range projectiles designed for a range of more than 20 km. Probably, now Ukraine dominates at distances of 20-80 km. But the supply of 155-mm shells is also limited. Therefore, it is important for Ukraine to get more long-range systems and shells.
Military expert Sergei Grabsky, in turn, noted in an interview with The Insider that it is on the territory of the Donetsk region, where the most intense battles are now taking place, that it is difficult to use artillery and tanks, so Russia is using assault groups more.
On the battlefield, they are now trying in every possible way to hold positions from those locations that they managed to capture, so they are trying to bite into the ground and prevent the Ukrainian defense forces from breaking through these positions before the arrival of additional contingents, which are now hastily formed and prepared at training grounds in the Russian Federation. In this regard, we see a twofold tactic - this is the tactic of the First World War, namely shelling and holding the territory, and this is the tactic of using assault groups with minimal use of artillery and heavy equipment. This is typical for the Donetsk region, because based on the terrain of that location, namely the presence of a highly urbanized territory, the use of tanks and artillery there is very limited. The Russian military has already burned themselves in Mariupol, waging urban battles, and therefore they are trying to save equipment and neglect human resources.
Ukraine today does not have such a powerful armored fist, and so far the liberation of the territory has been carried out precisely with lightly armored vehicles. Tanks today are used as means of fire support for infantry to hold positions as a mobile firing point. Tanks no longer play the same colossal role as before, because they are a fairly easy target, and the reconnaissance assets on both sides are so strong that it is quite easy to identify and destroy such a target as a tank.
French President Emmanuel Macron announced the transfer of Crotale anti-aircraft missile systems to Kyiv. This was announced by Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu to Le Journal du Dimanche. Paris also handed over two multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS).
“Summing up all our military assistance, we are in the top five countries. We are one of the largest donors with €550 million in aid,” said Lecornu.
In addition, according to Praise The Steph, a BATT UMG armored car manufactured by the American company The Armored Group was seen in Bakhmut as part of the Ukrainian forces. The United States did not officially announce deliveries, but in October, according to Ukrainian media, one of the Eastern European countries ordered 100 such vehicles for Ukraine.
The Russian side reports that it has deployed a new batch of modernized T-90M Proryv tanks to the combat zone. At present, the crews are running in armored vehicles, firing in the rear areas.
Starlink in Ukraine
The Ukrainian authorities have agreed with Elon Musk's SpaceX to receive more than 10,000 more Starlink satellite terminals. This was reported by the Minister of Digital Transformation Mikhail Fedorov to Bloomberg. They will be handed over to Ukraine in the next few months. Fedorov noted that Elon Musk will continue to support Ukraine, which he told him personally.
Since the beginning of the war, Ukraine has received about 22,000 Starlink antennas, the minister said. He noted that a new contract has not yet been concluded, but some EU countries have expressed their readiness to finance supplies, and "at the moment all financial issues have been resolved."
Read also The Insider’s summary of the main results on the front on December 19: “Kamikaze drones attack Kiev, Borshchevik against Starlink, Russian regions under attack. What's going on at the front.