The situation at the front
The Russian army continues to advance in the Bakhmut direction , according to the evening summary of the Ukrainian General Staff. The most fierce battles are now taking place in the areas of Soledar , Paraskoveevka , Bakhmut and Kleshcheevka . “The enemy is using Wagner units and regular troops. Our soldiers courageously hold their positions and inflict numerous losses on the enemy,” wrote Anna Malyar, Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine, on Telegram.
War correspondent Chuck Pfarrer reports that the Russian military expanded presence in the eastern residential areas of Soledar and expanded the southern salient around the industrial areas. In Bakhmut, according to him, Wagner PMCs crossed the railway north of Andreevka.
The speaker of the eastern group of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Sergei Cherevaty, said that the Russian army delivered 91 strikes on Soledar in a day:
“Fighting is underway in Soledar, the enemy has concentrated the main efforts there. First of all, “Wagnerites” and units of other types [of troops] of the Russian Federation. It inflicts constant blows, in particular, 91 artillery strikes were delivered on Soledar itself in a day. The Ukrainian rocket troops and artillery are doing their best to dislodge the enemy, including more than 100 occupiers were destroyed by artillery and rockets in a day.”
The Maxar Technologies project published images showing the situation in Soledar before August 1, 2022 and after January 10, 2023. The last picture shows completely destroyed apartment buildings:
The Prigozhin edition of RIA FAN published a report from Soledar, where supposedly mercenaries of the PMC Wagner with their faces covered with balaclavas say that “the city has been cleared, the enemy is not detected” and “the only problem is artillery fire.” The Russian military claims, in particular, that the Ukrainians allegedly set up firing points in residential apartments and a kindergarten, and they evacuated part of the civilian population. “It turns out such an evil irony,” says one of them, conducting a tour of the destroyed kindergarten, “that they fought among children's toys, and then we evacuated the children from their shelling.” “I feel at home here, especially when the children were taken out, it was so high,” laughs another. In one of the entrances there are several allegedly killed Ukrainian soldiers, their bodies are blurred. The video also announces "communication with civilians", but not a single civilian is visible in the frame.
Meanwhile, Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov did not say a word about the attack on Bakhmut and Soledar in his daily briefing. But he reported on the destruction of 4 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, which, as far as is known, have not even been delivered to Ukraine yet.
Russian troops are conducting offensive operations in the Avdiivka direction , they are trying to improve the tactical situation in the Kupyansky and Limansky directions, and they are defending in the Novopavlovsky, Zaporozhye and Kherson directions , the General Staff of Ukraine reports.
Shelling of Ukraine
According to the Ukrainian General Staff, Russian troops carried out five missile strikes (on Konstantinovka , Kramatorsk and Zaporozhye ), as well as 12 air strikes, carried out four shellings from MLRS. The Russian army, the General Staff said, was shelling along the entire front line. In particular, Kherson and its suburbs were subjected to mortar fire.
The shelling of Zaporozhye on the night of January 12 was reported by the secretary of the Zaporozhye city council Andriy Kurtev. According to him, "infrastructure facilities were damaged, a fire broke out on the spot." Kurtev added that peaceful houses were damaged as a result of the shelling, but according to preliminary information, people were not injured.
In the Kherson region, Russian forces attacked the village of Yantarny , a shell hit a residential building. A 27-year-old man died on the spot from his injuries. A 47-year-old woman was injured, she was taken to the hospital with shrapnel wounds.
It is also reported that the aircraft of the Armed Forces of Ukraine inflicted 15 strikes on the areas of concentration of Russians, as well as five strikes on the positions of their air defense systems. The Armed Forces of Ukraine report that they shot down a Russian Su-25 aircraft and an Orlan-10 UAV.
Supply of arms
On January 11, following a meeting in Lvov of the presidents of Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania (the "Lublin Triangle"), Polish President Andrzej Duda announced the decision taken by the Polish side to transfer German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine "as part of the creation of an international coalition." We are talking about plans to create a coalition of countries that have these tanks, so that each of these countries will allocate a certain amount to Ukraine, and Ukraine could eventually assemble up to 100 vehicles. Poland has so far been the first to express its readiness to hand over the tanks. It is reported that 14 Leopard 2A4 or A5 tanks will be transferred.
Now Poland is armed with 105 Leopard 2A5, 100 Leopard 2A4 and 42 tanks (according to other sources, only 35 more have actually been delivered) modernized in Poland to the level of Leopard 2PL, while in fact part of the Leopard 2A4 are in storage pending modernization under the program.
The German Defense Ministry said that the country has not yet made a decision on the supply of Leopard tanks to Ukraine, but Marder BMPs will be delivered by the end of the quarter. “We will make sure that by the end of the first quarter, 40 Marders and the Ukrainian military prepared for their use will go to Ukraine,” Defense Minister Christina Lambrecht said at a press conference. Commenting on the issue of the supply of tanks, she added that Germany does not intend to take unilateral steps in the supply of weapons to Kyiv.
Finland is also ready to provide tanks to Ukraine only if the decision on the transfer is made at the European level. At the same time, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö noted that "the number of armored vehicles transferred cannot be large, since Finland borders on Russia and is not yet a NATO member state."
The creation of a coalition for the transfer of tanks may be announced at the next meeting of the US-led Contact Group on Military Support to Ukraine in Ramstein on January 20.
Also on the eve it became known that Lithuania will provide Ukraine with anti-aircraft systems and air defense systems. This was stated by Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda at a press conference following the meeting of the leaders of the Lublin Triangle countries. “In the days before the start of the war, we provided military assistance to Ukraine, in particular in the form of [SAM] Stinger. Today I brought good news for Ukraine: we are transferring air defense systems and certain anti-aircraft installations that should help you with this fight,” Nauseda said. What kind of air defense and anti-aircraft systems will receive Kyiv, is not specified.
Putin's new appointments
On January 11, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu appointed a new commander of the Joint Group of Forces in Ukraine, Chief of the General Staff, General Valery Gerasimov. The Institute for the Study of War (IWS) report says that the reshuffle in the leadership of the “special military operation” is designed to show both at the international level and its own citizens the decisiveness of the Russian leadership and the readiness to wage a protracted war in Ukraine. According to the institute's experts, the choice of the candidature of the former chief of the General Staff Gerasimov, who failed the offensive campaign of 2022, is convenient for Vladimir Putin, because the general is unlikely to criticize his plans. The authors of the report also note that another purpose of the appointment is an attempt to restore a balance between the Ministry of Defense and a group of security officials, whose representative is, among other things, the owner of the Wagner PMC, Yevgeny Prigozhin. Prigozhin openly criticized the leadership of the Ministry of Defense, attributing the successes to the Wagnerites. In general, according to analysts, new appointments are unlikely to significantly affect the position of the Russian Federation in Ukraine. Most likely, Gerasimov will also face opposition from the Prigozhin group, which will lead to a further division of the information space. IWS cites as such an example the inconsistencies between the statements of the leadership of the PMC Wagner about the sole capture of Soledar and the statements of the RF Ministry of Defense that not only they are involved in the battles and the city has not yet been taken.
Belarus in the war
Ukraine has withdrawn part of its troops to the border with Belarus, Ukrainian Ambassador to the UK Vadym Prystaiko said in an interview with Sky News:
“We are concerned. We are forced to keep troops in northern Ukraine, moving them away from the front line, to make sure that they do not come and try to cut the line that allows us to be connected with the West.”
The Belarusian Ministry of Defense announced earlier about the build-up of a joint group of troops with Russia and the arrival of military and equipment in the republic. In Minsk and Moscow, they say that this is purely defensive. Zelensky urged troops to be ready near the Belarusian border. Defensive structures are already being built in the border Rivne region, said the head of the local administration, Vitaliy Koval. “We continue to prepare for the defense of the settlements of the Rivne region. In the north, we are actively building engineering and fortification buildings. Residents of the communities of Varash and Sarnensky districts have united and are helping to dig trenches for the military. Only one day more than 150 volunteers came,” he wrote.
Military expert Sergei Grabsky, in a conversation with The Insider, expressed the opinion that even with the buildup of troops on the Belarusian border, Russia will not have enough forces to storm Kyiv:
There is arithmetic - like the capture of Soledar, and there is higher mathematics - this is the assault on Kyiv. We need a serious force, Kyiv itself in terms of population and potential is a small country, like Georgia or Slovakia, and there is a completely different level of defense and protection. There is the concept of operational filling of the territory - the number of troops needed to occupy the territory. In Kyiv, Russian troops will simply dissolve, and the Russian military machine will not survive this.
I took a stopwatch and counted - the beginning of the collection of those liable for military service on October 1, 15 days for the collection of persons liable for military service, then until December 1 - the standard training period, and from December 1 they were to begin redeployment to areas of application. Did many of them relocate? Yes, almost nothing. One and a half to two thousand people come to Belarus a month. How long will they gather at such a pace?
Russia has not switched to a military footing, it has not turned into a single military camp, and general mobilization has not been announced because it is suicide. They're trying to be loud and pretty, but the military operation doesn't understand that. If they collected 200 thousand for almost 10 months, then they will collect 700 thousand for two years.
Wounded Russian soldiers are returned to the front with shrapnel in their limbs or shot through the lungs and are denied a military medical commission, said Valentina Melnikova, a representative of the Union of Committees of Soldiers' Mothers. According to her, these are not isolated cases, there are a lot of such examples. Also sent to war are patients with ulcers and those who have suffered a heart attack or stroke - that is, those who, in principle, cannot take part in hostilities.
The representative of the human rights group "Agora", lawyer Nikifor Ivanov , told the "Agency" that the authorities, by refusing to pass a medical commission for military personnel, save on compensation payments. Director of the human rights group “Citizen. Army. Right” Sergei Krivenko recommended that the military in such cases refuse to go to the combat zone and write a report.
See also The Insider’s military report for January 11: “Prigozhin is “fighting” with the Russian Ministry of Defense for Soledar, Surovikin is no longer in command, mobilized in an ice trench. What's happening on the front line .