Despite Russian troops continuing local attacks in several directions, a major Russian breakthrough on the front in Ukraine is unlikely, according to the British Ministry of Defence (MoD).
The UK MoD’s report on Twitter today stated that Ukraine has mobilized efforts in recent weeks to improve field fortifications as its forces return to a more defensive posture along much of the front line. This decision follows calls from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the end of November to expedite fortification in key directions.
On the border with Belarus, the Ukrainian military has fortified positions with the help of dragon’s teeth, razor wire, and anti-tank ditches.
British intelligence reported that the situation at the front remains static as “Russia continues local offensive options in several sectors, but individual attacks are rarely above platoon size,” which in the Russian armed forces can number up to 60 people.
“A major Russian breakthrough is unlikely, and overall, the front is characterized by stasis,” the UK MoD states.
The analytical report of the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW) also indicates that Russian troops were able to advance slightly in some areas of the front – near Kupyansk, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, Novomykhailivka in the Donetsk region, and Novoprokopivka in the Zaporizhzhia region.
Russian troops made a minor confirmed advance to the northeast of Kupyansk. Geolocated footage released on Dec. 18 indicates that Russian forces have advanced slightly north of Synkivka, northeast of Kupyansk.
According to the ISW, Russian forces have made a confirmed advance north of Bakhmut.
Russians also made a confirmed advance near Avdiivka. Geolocated footage released on Dec. 18 shows that the Russian troops made a small advance north of Pervomaiske (about 10 km southwest of Avdiivka) around Dec. 15. Additional footage from Dec. 19 shows that Russian forces have also advanced slightly in the quarry area southwest of Avdiivka.
The ISW notes that Russian troops recently made a small advance to the southwest of Donetsk. Geolocated footage released on Dec. 19 shows that Russians have made little progress along Tsentralna Street on the eastern outskirts of Novomykhailivka (10 km southwest of Donetsk).
At the same time, Russian and Ukrainian forces continue positional battles near Novomykhailivka, as well as in Maryinka and Krasnohorivka (on the western outskirts of Donetsk).
Neither Russian nor Ukrainian troops advanced in the border zone of Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions on Dec. 19. At the same time, they are fighting positional battles on the eastern (left) bank of the Dnipro in the Kherson region.
Ukrainian forces have maintained their positions in Krynky on the eastern bank, despite Russian counterattacks in the area, ISW reports.
Russian and Ukrainian sources say that both sides are effectively using drones in the Kherson sector, and “Russian forces reportedly continue facing equipment shortages necessary for evacuation of wounded on the east bank.”
On Tuesday, Col.-Gen. Oleksandr Syrsky, commander of the Armed Forces Ukraine’s (AFU) ground forces, reported that the fiercest battles are ongoing in the Kupyansk, Lyman, and Bakhmut sectors.
According to the commander, the Russians are concentrating their main efforts around Bakhmut and are using the most combat-capable units of the landing forces, the marines, and the “Storm Z” and “Storm V” units formed of convicts to conduct assault operations.
“The situation is difficult. We have to fight in conditions where the enemy has superiority in both weapons and personnel,” Syrsky said.
He stated that Ukrainian forces are defending and destroying the Russian troops in all three sectors. Russia keeps suffering heavy losses, which it replenishes with the reserves of assault battalions formed from former prisoners.
However, despite daily losses in personnel and equipment, Russian troops continue to conduct offensive operations, the general said.
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