- Slowdown in counteroffensive attributed to lack of small-arms ammunition
- If women go on a business trip, “with whom do the kids stay?” Putin asks aloud
- Russian forces make small gains on outskirts of Donetsk
- AFU chief once again caught in disagreements with Zelensky
- Moscow makes marginal gains on left bank of Dnipro
Frontline soldiers complain of shortages of 152mm and 122mm shells
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) on Monday cited a Reuters interview that day with Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Commander Brigadier General Oleksandr Tarnavsky, who said that his forces have been experiencing shortages of 122mm and 152mm shells along the entire front line.
He said they consequently are redistributing artillery and re-planning tasks. Deputy Defense Minister General Ivan Havrylyuk on Tuesday also acknowledged such ammunition shortfalls on Tuesday that ammunition shortages will continue.
“Western officials have reportedly assessed that the Russian forces are currently conducting artillery fire at a rate five to seven times greater than the Ukrainian forces,” the ISW reported.
“Both Russian and Ukrainian forces have likely expended large portions of their Soviet-era stocks of 122mm and 152mm artillery shells, forcing both to look abroad for other stocks of this artillery ammunition.
“Russia has recently received large quantities of these shells from North Korea, and Ukraine and its Western partners have engaged in efforts to source these shells from foreign stocks,” the ISW wrote, underscoring that Ukrainian forces are increasingly using Western-provided 155mm artillery systems along the front, as US assistance packages have recently included these exact types of ammunition.
It added that Ukraine, according to a BBC interview, plans domestic production of 155mm shells with the help of Western companies next year.
The ISW predicted that the shortages would force the AFU to “make tough decisions about prioritizing certain sectors of the front over others.”
In wartime Russia, “girls represent a huge reserve,” Putin says
With hundreds of thousands of men taking part in Russia's war in Ukraine and birth rates in Russia shrinking, Russian President Vladimir Putin called on employers in traditionally male professions to bring more “girls” aboard, AFP reported.
The situation is almost reminiscent of the Soviet Union during World War II, when the USSR lost about 27 million people, including about 9 million soldiers. Women were famously an integral part of the post-war Soviet workforce and were incentivized and awarded medals for, giving birth to many more Soviets.
“Girls represent a huge reserve for Russia,” Putin said. “In sectors where they are not yet working, they need to exploit their potential to the fullest.”
Meanwhile, Russian women are already active in the armed forces, though not typically deployed to the invasion of Ukraine.
“In our flight schools, girls are already flying combat aircraft. [Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu] reported that they do it brilliantly, while it always seemed that it was a purely male profession… Today, all boundaries are being erased.”
Well, almost all boundaries: Putin, who considers himself a strong defender of traditional family values, (especially in defense of heterosexual relationships) said that there are “of course some limitations” as to what women should be doing.
“Of course, there are some limitations related to health, anatomy, maybe to family,” he said.
“If there is a long business trip... with whom do the kids stay?” he wondered.
Operations: Donetsk city
Moscow’s troops continued ground attacks west and southwest of the occupied city of Donetsk on Monday, the ISW reported, and they made gains along the southern outskirts of Novomykhailivka (10 km southwest of Donetsk). One Russian military blogger claimed that the Kremlin’s forces advanced further west of Marinka towards Kurakhove (25 km west of Donetsk) while another posted that Russian forces also attacked near Pobieda (5 km southwest of Donetsk).
The Armed Forces of Ukraine’s (AFU) General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled “at least 12 Russian attacks near Novomykhailivka,” the ISW said.
Operations: Dnipro River
Ukrainian forces continued to maintain their foothold on the left bank of the Dnipro, in a residential area of fishermen in Krynky, but Russian forces reportedly made marginal advances in the area, the ISW reported.
Geolocated footage published on Monday indicates that Russian forces made small gains in Krynky (2 km from the Dnipro River), as Kremlin-loyal bloggers claimed that Russian forces assaulted AFU positions in forest areas just outside of town, and started using armored vehicles near the settlement.
Another Russian blogger claimed that Moscow’s forces continue to suffer from poor counterbattery, lateral communication, and evacuation capabilities, while additional footage published on Monday purportedly shows a Ukrainian drone striking a Russian T-90 main battle tank near Krynky.
Zaluzhny criticizes Zalensky’s sacking last summer of recruitment heads
The Commander-in-Chief of the AFU, Valery Zaluzhny, was quoted by news agency Interfax on Monday as criticizing President Volodymyr Zelensky’s decision to fire all top regional military draft officials last summer.
“These were professionals, they knew how to do this, and they are gone,” Zaluzhny was quoted as responding when asked by reporters what he thought of the decision.
Zelensky had served notice to all of those officials during a corruption crackdown in August, referencing investigational findings of abuses.
There have been widely reported rumors that the President and his AFU chief, whose office was recently bugged, are at loggerheads. The situation was made worse recently by reported TikTok videos, circulated by Russian agents, that pushed false narratives about both men.
KMIS conducted a survey on the trust of Ukrainians in state institutions:— Devana 🇺🇦 (@DevanaUkraine) December 18, 2023
- the Armed Forces of Ukraine retain absolute trust in society — 96%;
- 88% trust the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Valery Zaluzhny;
- President Volodymyr Zelensky — 62% (84% a year ago);
- trust… pic.twitter.com/GBDsMXILuG
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