Overview:

  • Russian sources claimed to have taken Vesele, northwest of Bakhmut
  • A French-led coalition promises more 155mm artillery shells to Kyiv
  • AFU hits Russian electronic warfare system on left bank
  • Paris denies Kremlin claims that its strikes killed a unit of for-hire legionnaires
  • Moscow advances again along outskirts of Avdiivka
  • Lithuanian envoy to World Economic Forum pushes for more aid to Ukraine

Operations: Bakhmut

Russian sources, including the Kremlin's Ministry of Defense and RT propagandists, claimed Russian forces had captured the town of Vesele (northeast of Bakhmut), but the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said that it has not received visual confirmation of the claims.

Contradicting Moscow's sources, one Russian milblogger claimed that Vesele is still a contested grey zone. Other Russian milbloggers reported heavy fighting on the outskirts of Vesele and near Spirne (northeast of Vesele).

There is, however, geolocated footage published on Wednesday that appears to show that Russian forces made a marginal gain in the residential area in northern Bohdanivka (northwest of Bakhmut), and Ukrainian Ground Forces Spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Volodymyr Fityo reported on Thursday that Russian forces have continued to intensify their efforts in the Bakhmut direction.

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Additionally, the ISW noted that a Kremlin-affiliated blogger claimed that Russian forces are trying to take control of the O0506 Khromove-Chasiv Yar road, as well, with elements of the Russian 98th Guards Airborne (VDV) Division reportedly stepping up attacks in the area.

According to ISW analysts: “Russian forces have held positions nine kilometers east of Siversk for a considerable amount of time but have not been able to significantly threaten Siversk from their current positions, so the purported capture of Vesele (which is further away from Siversk than other Russian positions) is unlikely to substantially aid a potential Russian effort to advance towards Siversk in the near term. The terrain immediately west of Vesele that Russian forces would need to cross to reach the T0513 route is additionally uphill on local tactical heights that Ukrainian forces currently control, which could complicate Russian forces’ ability to advance.”

ISW Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 19, 2024
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ISW Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, July 19, 2024

Latest from the Institute for the Study of War.

To battle Ukrainian shortages, West promises stepped-up deliveries of artillery shells

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A coalition of 23 nations inked an agreement in Paris on Thursday to provide Kyiv with much-needed ammunition as the supply of 155mm artillery shells in particular (used in many standard NATO weapons), is being depleted quickly by Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU).

“A shortage of ammunition is a very real and pressing problem that our armed forces are facing,” Defense Minister Rustem Umerov posted on social media after speaking by video link to Paris, AFP reported. He had previously canceled his in-person visit to the French capital “for security reasons.”

President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked French President Emmanuel Macron “for launching the artillery coalition,” led by France and the US.

The AFP stated that the European Union had promised to deliver a million shells by early 2024, but the EU said that only 300,000 have been delivered so far. Ukraine is estimated to be going through about 5,000-8,000 of the 155mm shells per day, compared with an estimated 15,000 similar artillery shells per day by Russian forces.

In Davos, Lithuanian minister says a Russian victory “would not bode well” for Europe

Speaking to an AFP reporter on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis underscored that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is “Europe’s war” and renewed calls on Western partners to step up arms shipments to Kyiv.

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“There is no scenario in this that if Ukraine doesn’t win, that could end well for Europe,” Landsbergis said.

The 42-year-old Baltic top diplomat warned that Europe had “not awakened to the reality” that the conflict is “Europe’s war,” as he called on partners to do more.

His remarks came on the same day that NATO announced its largest military exercises in decades, in response to increasingly worrying signals from Moscow.

Operations: Avdiivka

The ISW reported on Thursday that Russian forces made a confirmed advance southwest of Avdiivka, as geolocated footage published on Wednesday shows Russian forces assaulting and capturing a position east of Nevelske (southwest of Avdiivka).

Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Commander Brig. Gen. Oleksandr Tarnavskyi stated on January Wednesday that Moscow’s troops in the Avdiivka direction are likely using armored vehicles to support and deploy dismounted infantry, and as such Moscow has lost 41 armored vehicles, including 17 tanks, in the area in the past three days.

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Meanwhile, the Tavriisk group’s spokesperson, Col. Oleksandr Shtupun noted that Russian forces “typically use one or two tanks, several armored personnel carriers, and MT-LBs (tracked armored fighting vehicles) to transport infantry before withdrawing quickly, upon which Ukrainian forces strike the armored vehicles,” ISW reported.

Operations: Dnipro River

The ISW reported claims that an element of the Russian 810th Naval Infantry Brigade (Black Sea Fleet) made a partial advance into Krynky, on the Dnipro’s left bank near Kherson, but that Ukrainian forces still, after months of sustained attacks on the occupied side of the river, firmly control positions within the settlement. (ISW has still not observed confirmation of this claimed Russian advance into Krynky.)

However, geolocated footage published on Wednesday seems to show that a Ukrainian HIMARS missile strike destroyed a Russian electronic warfare (EW) system in nearby Nova Kakhovka.

Paris denies that Kharkiv bombardment killed French for-hire soldiers

On Wednesday, various media outlets, including the ISW, broadcasted the Kremlin’s claims that air strikes in Kharkiv earlier this week, which injured scores of Ukrainians, targeted and killed French mercenaries in the eastern city.

On Thursday, Paris rejected those claims out of hand.

“France has no ‘mercenaries’ either in Ukraine or anywhere else, unlike some people,” the French Foreign Ministry told AFP, calling the claim “another clumsy Russian manipulation.”

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