Overview:

  • Russia blames AFU strikes for killing more than a dozen civilians at market
  • Zelensky says he sees no need for a full 500,000 mobilized troops
  • Fighting near Kupyansk among the fiercest this winter
  • Invaders continue to take territory around Avdiivka
  • Moscow said to have assembled more than 40,000 troops on that front
  • Ukrainian missiles target Crimea on Sunday

Shelling kills 28 in Donetsk outskirts, two others in towns further west

Shelling on the outskirts of Russian-occupied Donetsk on Sunday killed 28 people, Moscow-backed authorities claimed after artillery rained down on a busy suburban market and outlying neighborhoods.

The head of the region’s occupational administration, Denis Pushilin, said that the market where 27 people were killed was located in the southwestern suburb of Tekstilshchik, less than 15 kilometers from the frontline, AFP reported, adding that additional shelling killed another civilian in a nearby neighborhood.

 “Where is there anything military here? It’s just a market,” a resident named Tatiana told a local news outlet as quoted by AFP.

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Also on Sunday, Kyiv blamed Russian shelling for the deaths of at least two civilians in Ukrainian-held towns further west in the region.  

Operations: Kupyansk area

As Moscow has stepped up its attacks along the Lyman-Kupyansk front line over the past month, the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) claim they have killed 7,055 Russian soldiers and officers on these fronts since Jan.1, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported, and some 14,000 troops there in December 2023.

The AFU General Staff reported 25 Russian assaults in the Lyman area on Saturday, but only 13 on Sunday.

A Ukrainian soldier who recently fought in the Serebryanske forest area said in an interview published on Sunday that Russian forces have been able to use the forested area there to better conceal artillery systems as Ukrainian troops expect Moscow to commit larger groups to assaults there in the future.

Ukraine Frees First Prisoners to Bolster Frontline Forces
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Ukraine Frees First Prisoners to Bolster Frontline Forces

According to government sources, over 3,000 convicts have expressed their willingness to join the military following the recent enactment of a law facilitating this recruitment.

In other fighting near Kupyansk, a prominent Kremlin-affiliated blogger claimed that Moscow’s forces advanced southwest of Krokhmalne (northwest of Svatove) and approached the eastern outskirts of Berestove (northwest of Svatove). Geolocated footage from Saturday seems to confirm that Russian forces captured Krokhmalne, perhaps using elements of the Russian 47th Guards Tank Division (1st Guards Tank Army, Western Military District) in the settlement.

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The post added that Russian forces recently captured a four-kilometer-wide section of the R-07 (Svatove-Kupyansk) highway near Krokhmalne and an unspecified section of the R-07 highway near Novoselivske. The ISW wrote that it could not confirm these claims.

Zelensky says he sees no argument to mobilize 500,000

“I have not yet seen enough clear details to say that half a million must be mobilized,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a TV interview on Sunday, state media outlet Ukrinform quoted him as saying, contrary to defense officials’ views.

Earlier this month, Ukraine’s Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhny and other military brass came to Zelensky with a proposal to mobilize about 500,000 Ukrainians to combat the estimated 600,000 troops that Russia can commit to the invasion.

The government estimates that this will cost about $13 billion out of state coffers, rather than from direct foreign aid.

Zelensky said that giving a break to the soldiers on the front is important and that they “deserve justice” and will be replaced, but the idea of sending poorly trained or untrained new recruits to the front lines is “completely wrong,” he said.

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“The question of mobilization, first of all, is a question of justice,” Zelensky said. “Because there are people who have been at war since day one, and the fact that they do not complain does not mean that there should be no opportunity for people to replace them, to give them a rest, to give more opportunities to those who were fighting during all these most powerful and most difficult months.”

The newly mobilized troops “must be trained first,” the President continued. “They must not be immediately sent to the battlefield, otherwise, they will have less chance to survive and this is wrong, this is completely wrong.”

Operations: Avdiivka

Geolocated footage from Sunday Russian forces recently made confirmed micro-advances south and southwest of Avdiivka, gaining ground near the now-famous “Tsarska Okhota” restaurant area on Soborna Street, and along a tree line southwest of Avdiivka.

Ukrainian military observer Kostyantyn Mashovets added that Moscow’s troops also advanced along Kolosova and Lermentova streets, but the ISW said it had not observed confirmation of those particular advances.

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The ISW reported that both sides reported increased fighting northwest of the city near Novobakhmutivka and Stepove; near the long-contested coke and chemical plant in northwestern Avdiivka; west of the city near Sjeverne; and southwest near Pervomaiske, Vodyane, and Nevelske

Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Commander Brig. Gen. Oleksandr Tarnavskyi said he believes that Russian forces are preparing to intensify activity in the Avdiivka area and have concentrated more than 40,000 personnel in the area.

Moscow says it shot down more Ukrainian missiles headed to Crimea

Occupational authorities in Crimea claimed that the AFU conducted unsuccessful missile strikes targeting the illegally annexed peninsula on Sunday. The Kremlin said that its air defenses intercepted three Ukrainian missiles over the Black Sea near the western coast of Crimea on Sunday, and as a result temporarily closed the Kerch Strait Bridge, once again.

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