The Russian army has retaken the initiative in its war in Ukraine, launching renewed assaults and gaining ground in multiple sectors across the 1,600-kilometer fighting front at the price of, in some battles, punishing losses, particularly in hard-to-replace high-tech weapons systems.
The most substantial and widely confirmed Russian advance was around the village Krokhmalne, in the north-eastern Luhansk-Kupiansk sector, where according to Russian information platforms on Jan. 22 first reported mechanized infantry backed by armor from Russia’s 153rd Tank Regiment overcame Ukrainian defenses.
Russian state television showed images of T-80BV tanks bombarding Ukrainian positions at long range, without visible Ukrainian counter-fire.
Экипажи танков Т-80БВ группировки войск «Запад» уничтожают укрепрайоны и блиндажи ВСУ на Купянском направлении. pic.twitter.com/92XKsZcA2o— Миша (@Misa14949560) January 23, 2024
Ukrainian army spokesmen acknowledged the loss, encompassing the village and a two-by-two square kilometer block of land around it, later in the day.
By Tuesday images surfaced of jubilant Russian soldiers purportedly from the 153rd Regiment inside Krokhmalne.
Ukrainian army spokesman Volodymyr Fitio in televised comments aired nationally on Sunday evening during a television marathon downplayed the defeat, saying Ukrainian troops relocated to better positions and that the loss of a ruined village with five buildings was part of a Kyiv strategy to prioritize the destruction of Russian soldiers and weapons. Defense lines in the sector are stable and Russian losses are climbing, he claimed.
“The enemy cannot advance further, and there is no threat to neighboring units. I believe that what happened is a temporary phenomenon because the front line shifts daily,” Fitio said in part.
Attacking Russian troops on Monday according to both Kremlin- and Kyiv-friendly sources also broke into the center of the village of Bohdanivka, a suburb of the battlefield city Bakhmut, and house-to-house fighting reportedly was in progress.
A key coal-mining center of Ukraine’s industrial Donbas region, Bakhmut was captured by Kremlin forces in August 2023 after nearly nine months of bloody attacks. According to unconfirmed reports in Russian military information platforms, Kremlin troops deployed in the Bakhmut sector over the weekend advanced some 500 meters and captured the village Vesele.
Yet another Russian ground gain was reported on Monday in the eastern city of Avdiivka, where Russian ground forces have been attacking since the Summer of 2023 against increasingly thinly stretched Ukrainian defenses.
The latest Russian advance took over a chain of heavily reinforced fortifications in Avdiivka's southern suburbs held by Ukrainian forces since 2014, the pro-Moscow military blogger U_G_M reported. Ukrainian mil-bloggers confirmed the report.
Report from Avdiivka concerning an FPV-drone unit belonging to the "Bozha Sprava" unit of the 47th Mechanised Brigade, mentioning Russian "digging tactics" and their widespread use of infantry after significant vehicle losses. pic.twitter.com/nMzUUyAa9y— WarTranslated (Dmitri) (@wartranslated) January 22, 2024
Bitter Ukrainian defenses have grudgingly yielded ground meter by meter in Avdiivka in almost daily combat now in progress for almost six months. In one recent engagement, Ukrainian crews aboard US-manufactured Bradley infantry fighting vehicles stopped an attack led by Russia’s best tank, the T-90M, knocking the Russian heavy armor with a rain of light explosive shells fired by chain gun.
The 25mm ammo, unable to penetrate the Russian vehicle’s thick armor, mangled gunsights and communications gear affixed to the tank‘s turret. The crew abandoned the T-90 after it caught on fire.
A Tuesday morning situation update published by Ukraine’s Army General Staff said Russian attacks were continuing at multiple locations and reported no new losses of ground. The current primary focus of Russian assaults, frequently backed by air strikes was in the Avdiivka sector, Ukrainian official statements said.
Heavy fighting triggered by Russian ground pushes reportedly also was in progress in the Zaporizhzhia sector, and around a Ukrainian bridgehead on the east/left bank of the Dnipro River by the city of Kherson. Losses were mounting but there had been little substantial movement of fighting lines, the AGS situation estimate said.
According to official Ukrainian claims, the new wave of Russian assaults across the 1,600 km fighting front has pushed Kremlin loss numbers to near-record short-term highs, including a total of 201 Russian military vehicles of all types claimed to be put out of action by Ukrainian forces from Jan. 21-22.
A Jan. 21 British Defence Ministry statement said the “data points towards a steady increase in the intensity of the Russian offensive activity across the front over the past two weeks. A key enabler for this is highly likely the freezing ground conditions, which allows cross-country movement of armored vehicles.”
Personnel Russian military vehicle losses had increased over the past week 88 percent, and tank losses 95 percent, the British intelligence report said.
Data published by Icelandic analyst Ragnar Gudmundsson, a leading independent tracker of both side’s losses in the Russo-Ukraine war, in a Jan. 23 situation update said accumulated losses from recent Kremlin assaults had nearly doubled daily counts of destroyed and knocked-out Russian military vehicles, from 60-62 systems on Jan. 14-15 to 102-103 systems on Jan 22-23.
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