Overview:

  • Russian reserves cannot form “powerful strategic offensive operations,” intel deputy says
  • Kremlin says its forces killed French fighters in Kharkiv strikes
  • In reversal of policy, Slovakia lets arms manufacturers sell to Ukraine
  • UK says Moscow’s loss of A-50 aircraft will impact its further use
  • Russia shifts troops from Kupyansk toward Lyman
  • Rate of glide bomb attacks on Avdiivka exponentially higher this year

Intel: Russia is enlisting 1,000 soldiers a month, but cannot fight on two fronts at a time

Vadym Skibitskyi, deputy head of Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence (HUR), told a press conference on Wednesday that Moscow cannot fight on two or three fronts at a time, even though Russia is reportedly enlisting about 1,000 new soldiers per month.

Mobilization measures in Russia continue, Skibitskyi said. “They manage to recover the losses they suffer every day. However, that reserve is not enough to form powerful strategic offensive operations in two or three directions, which Putin is talking about and scaring the European community with the opening of a second front and an offensive.”

 “To date, the ground component and airborne component of the Russian armed forces are unable to conduct strategic offensive operations. Assault and tactical operations, yes. But it is impossible for them to conduct strategic offensive operations without powerful tactical reserves, ” he added.

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“We cannot allow ourselves to lose our territories due to our inaction... If the war stops, the enemy will have the opportunity to accumulate forces and restore combat capabilities.”

Kremlin contends its strikes killed French mercenaries in Kharkiv

Russia said Wednesday it had targeted and killed a group of French fighters in a long-range strike on the city of Kharkiv, AFP reported.

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“On the evening of 16 January, the armed forces of the Russian Federation carried out a precision strike on a temporary deployment point of foreign militants in the city of Kharkiv, the core of which were French mercenaries,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.

The ministry claimed to have killed dozens of foreign militants in the attack.

Ukraine’s second-largest city has faced regular airstrikes throughout the Russian full-scale invasion, with at least 17 injured in Tuesday night’s drone attack.

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Slovakia gives OK for its Defense Department to send weapons to Kyiv

On Tuesday, Slovakia’s parliament gave the green light to the defense ministry to approve arms exports to Ukraine, reversing an election-season promise by Prime Minister Robert Fico to “not to send another bullet” to Kyiv, Politico reported.

The country’s largest arms manufacturer is ZVS Holding, a joint venture between the privately owned MSM Group founded by Czech arms entrepreneur Jaroslav Strnad, and DMD Group, half-owned by the defense ministry under minister Robert Kaliňák. It has seen its revenues almost double to €80 million per year since the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Politico noted, “largely due to Russia's aggression in Ukraine,” the company said.

“Almost 100 percent of the munitions production of ZVS Holding for the next two or three years has been sold out to Ukraine.”

Over the course of the war, Slovakia has provided Ukraine with €671 million in military aid, including 13 MiG-29 fighter jets, S-300 air defense systems, infantry fighting vehicles and ten Zuzana-2 self-propelled howitzers.

British intel says the downing of Russian A-50 spy plane will change Moscow’s game plan

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The British Ministry of Defence on Wednesday said that Russia will likely reconsider the operational areas of its A-50 surveillance and control aircraft after Ukrainian air defense forces splashed one of them into the Sea of Azov over the weekend.

“It is likely that Russia will now be forced to reconsider limiting the operational areas of its aircraft. The A-50 is critical to the Russian air surveillance picture over the battle space,” the Ministry’s report reads.

According to the report, the Russian Aerospace Force now has a total of eight A-50 airframes on hand.

Operations: Kupyansk area

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported Wednesday that Russian forces reportedly advanced south of Kreminna amid continued fighting. Russian sources claimed that the Kremlin’s forces captured unspecified positions east of Bilohorivka in the Luhansk region and advanced west of Kreminna near Makiivka, claims that were not independently verified.

Positional fighting continued northeast of Kupyansk near Synkivka and Petropavlivka; northwest of Kreminna near Ploshchanka and Makiivka; west of Kreminna near Terny, Yampolivka, and Torske; southwest of Kreminna near Dibrova, north of Hryhorivka, and south of Kreminna near Bilohorivka (12 km south of Kreminna.)

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The ISW also noted that Ukrainian officials continue to suggest that Russian forces are preparing to renew offensive actions in the Kupyansk and Lyman directions, “likely in late January or early February.”

Ukrainian Ground Forces Command Spokesperson Lt. Col. Volodymyr Fityo said on Wednesday that Russian forces are currently moving troops and machinery from Kupyansk to the front in Lyman.

Operations: Avdiivka

Both sides reportedly have traded gains around Avdiivka on Wednesday, but the ISW could confirm no changes to the front line. Ukrainian and Russian sources stated that engagements continued northwest of Avdiivka near Novokalynove, Novobakhmutivka, and Stepove; northeast of Avdiivka near Kamianka; and southwest of Avdiivka near Sjeverne, Pervomaiske, and Nevelske.

One Kremlin-affiliated blogger claimed that the Russian rate of advance near the water treatment facilities close to the mission-critical Avdiivka coke and chemical plant is about 100 to 200 meters per day.

The region’s military administration head, Vadym Filashkin, stated that Russian forces have dropped 250 glide bombs on Avdiivka since the beginning of 2024, compared to 149 glide bombs in all of 2023.

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