Key Takeaways

·       Conventional Russian forces are likely replacing exhausted Wagner Group forces to maintain the offensive in Bakhmut after the Wagner Group’s offensive in Bakhmut culminated with the capture of Soledar around January 12.

·       Russian forces are attempting to prevent Ukraine from regaining the initiative possibly ahead of a planned decisive Russian offensive in Donbas.

·       Russian forces likely lack the combat power necessary to sustain more than one major offensive operation while fixing Ukrainian forces in western Donetsk and eastern Zaporizhzhia oblasts.

·       The Russian military leadership may once again be planning an offensive operation based on erroneous assumptions about the Russian military’s capabilities.

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·       The Russian military’s decreasing reliance on Wagner forces around Bakhmut is likely reducing Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin’s influence.

·       Russian forces reportedly continued limited counterattacks to regain lost positions along the Svatove-Kreminna line.

·       Ukrainian forces continued to strike Russian rear areas in Luhansk Oblast.

·       Russian forces continued offensive operations in the Bakhmut and Avdiivka-Donetsk City areas. Russian forces continued a localized offensive near Vuhledar in western Donetsk Oblast.

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·       Russian sources did not report any Russian ground attacks in Zaporizhzhia Oblast for the second consecutive day on January 28.

·       Some Russian citizens continue limited efforts to sabotage Russian force generation efforts.

·       Russian occupation officials continue to set conditions for the long-term forced deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia.

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Authors: George Barros, Kateryna Stepanenko, Riley Bailey, Grace Mappes, Angela Howard, and Frederick W. Kagan

See the full report here.

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