Russian troops continue the tactics of massive missile attacks on Ukraine, targeting mainly energy facilities. On January 26, they carried out another massive attack, having launched dozens of Iranian Shahed-136 kamikaze drones the night before. Air defense forces shot down all 24 drones. The Russians are trying to change their strike tactics and use drones to detect or wear out Ukrainian air defenses.
In the morning, the Russians began to launch missiles. This time they hit only with high-precision missiles, without using the powerful X-22, one of which hit a high-rise building in Dnipro last time. Air defense forces shot down 47 of the 55 missiles fired.
The Russians even fired two Kinzhal hypersonic missiles at facilities in Zaporizhzhia and Kyiv. It is impossible to intercept and shoot down these missiles, because they not only fly along a ballistic trajectory, but also at a huge speed. Such missiles are very expensive, the Russians have only a few dozen of them. Therefore, the occupiers rarely use Kinzhals, usually for extremely important purposes.
Ukrainian air defense is shooting down a significant number of missiles, and the Russians are now firing fewer of them on average than before. After the last strike on January 26, Ukraine returned to the planned blackout schedules in a few hours. The most difficult situation occurred in the Odesa region, where the Russians hit several substations. DTEK, the major Ukrainian electricity provider, says that due to significant damage, they will not be able to return to the planned schedules until the end of January.
In the last few weeks, the main topic in the information space is the preparation of the Russians for a large-scale offensive and a new wave of mobilization. Ukrainian high-ranking officials, Western officials, and Western mass media are talking about this, citing sources in Russia. Most likely, in February or March, fighting will intensify along the entire front line. At the same time, Ukraine is also planning a large-scale offensive. The West is preparing the Ukrainian army specifically for offensive operations — this is evidenced by the supply of a large amount of Western armored vehicles. The Russians understand that they have a month or two before the arrival of this equipment in Ukraine, and are already trying to test Ukrainian defenses along the front line. They continue to press in the area of Soledar and Bakhmut, to counterattack in the Luhansk region. They also began storming Vuhledar town in the Donetsk region and for the first time since spring even tried to advance in the Zaporizhzhia region. Until large quantities of weapons arrive in Ukraine, the Russians want to try to seize as much territory as possible, or at least improve the conditions for a future large-scale offensive.
In the Kharkiv region, the front line remains unchanged: the Russians still control a very small area in the northeast of the region, not far from the Russian-Ukrainian border. Ukrainian troops continue to push north towards the state border and east towards the Luhansk region, in particular towards Svatove town. But neither side is making progress and is not trying to advance seriously.
In the Luhansk region, the main battles are taking place in two directions — near the towns of Svatove and Kreminna. The Russians are still trying to push the Ukrainian troops away from them, and the Ukrainian Defense Forces are trying to physically cut off the road between the cities to make it more difficult for the Russians to supply their troops.
Now the fighting has unfolded for the village of Novoselivske along the Kupyansk — Svatove highway. Ukrainian troops were able to push the occupiers out of this village, but the Russians are actively shelling it with artillery and MLRS and posting videos on their Telegram channels. Therefore, Novoselivske is not controlled by any of the parties. Presumably, the Ukrainian army wants to advance on Svatove precisely along the road from Kupyansk, in order to facilitate logistics and deliver ammunition and reinforcements faster.
Fighting continues around Kreminna. The Ukrainian army is trying to surround the city from three sides and is approaching it from the north, south and west, but so far mutual attacks continue in all these directions. The occupiers have understood the threat in the Kreminna area and are sending the most combat-ready units — Russian paratroopers — to the defense of the city. The fiercest battles continue in the forest south of Kreminna. Itʼs difficult for armored vehicles to work there, which is why progress is very slow.
On the right (southern) bank of the Siverskyi Donets River, on the administrative border of Luhansk and Donetsk regions, fighting continues for the village of Bilohorivka and the villages of Verkhnyokamyanske and Spirne. These settlements prevent the Russians from reaching the outskirts of the city of Siversk, and now they also perform an important function — they hold the flank of the Ukrainian troops defending themselves north of Soledar.
After the loss of the Soledar town, which was officially confirmed by the Armed Forces of Ukraine only on January 25, the Russians began to develop an offensive in three directions at once: to the north towards the village of Rozdolivka, in order to get closer to Siversk; further west towards Slovyansk and south towards the villages of Krasna Gora and Paraskoviivka to cut the road Slovyansk — Bakhmut. They are making progress every day, but have not yet achieved serious success. Ukrainian troops prevent the occupiers from entering the Slovyansk — Bakhmut road, which is important for the defense of Bakhmut itself.
In Bakhmut, fighting continues in the eastern part of the city, which is called Zabakhmutka and consists of industrial zones and the private sector. The Russians are trying to attack from many sides at once, but havenʼt made much progress.
In Ukraine, a difficult situation is unfolding to the south of Bakhmut, where the Russians seem to be making the main efforts. Over the past 10 days, they have been able to capture Klishchiivka village and the fortified area behind it, and are rapidly moving in the direction of another road to Bakhmut, from Kostyantynivka. They advanced especially quickly along the Siversky Donets — Donbas canal and already have positions three kilometers from this road and six kilometers from Chasiv Yar town, through which another road to Bakhmut passes.
So, the Russians came very close to the three main roads to Bakhmut. If they can physically cut them off, the cityʼs defenders will find themselves almost surrounded and likely forced out of Bakhmut.
In the western suburbs of Donetsk, the Russians are trying to advance in the direction of Avdiivka and Maryinka, but they are not succeeding.
On January 24, the Russians began their assault on the city of Vuhledar for the second time. It is located 25 kilometers from Volnovakha and 70 kilometers north of Mariupol. The Russians already tried to storm the city in mid-November, but then they only managed to capture the village of Pavlivka south of Vuhledar and suffered serious losses. Now they quickly moved on the city from the south and east and were able to reach its outskirts, but due to serious losses they cannot advance further. Russian artillery and anti-aircraft guns completely wipe out the city, the area of which is 5 square kilometers. However, it is easier for the Ukrainian army to defend Vuhledar, because the city is located at a height, as well as the nearby Pivdennodonbaska mine.
It is only 16 kilometers from Vuhledar to the railway line between Donetsk, Volnovakha and Mariupol, which is why it is important for the Ukrainian army. The railway is under the fire control of Ukrainian artillery, so the Russians cannot use it. If the occupiers manage to push the Defense Forces of Ukraine away from this railway branch from Donetsk to Mariupol, they will be able to supply their troops faster and easier in the occupied territories of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.
For the first time since the spring, the Russian army tried to advance in the Zaporizhzhia region. And at once in many directions — in the direction of the village of Kamyanske along the Dnipro River and in the direction of Orikhiv and Gulyaipole towns. On January 20, Russian Telegram channels began to spread messages about the alleged capture of several villages and almost the encirclement of Orikhiv. But in a few days it turned out that the Russians did not achieve such successes. Even the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation announced the “liberation” of only one village — Lobkove, east of Kamynske. The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine published a video of a failed offensive attempt by the invaders, who again lost a lot of equipment and soldiers.
The Deepstate project later told how the offensive of the occupiers unfolded. They launched an attack in several directions at once and were able to advance several kilometers. However, within a day or two, the Ukrainian military counterattacked and drove the Russians back to their previous positions. Currently, the situation has not changed. The front line in the Zaporizhzhia region is difficult to attack, because there are steppes and nowhere to hide, besides, both sides have been digging in and mining the territory around their positions for almost a year.
The situation in the Kherson region does not change either. The front has stabilized along the Dnipro River and, most likely, will not change until Ukrainian troops begin to liberate the Zaporizhzhia region. The Russians shell Kherson almost every day with artillery and rocket launchers. This situation will persist until the Ukrainian army liberates the left-bank Kherson region.
The main breakthrough of the last 10 days is the agreement of the West to supply tanks to Ukraine. A week after the announcement of supplies of Western infantry fighting vehicles to the Ukrainian army, the West is gradually beginning to hand over armored combat vehicles to the Ukrainian Defense Forces, which are desperately needed for the offensive.
The West expected that on January 20, after pressure from Ukraine, Poland, the United States and other allies, Germany at a Ramstein-format meeting would agree to supply its Leopard tanks and agree to re-export, which would allow those countries that have such tanks to supply them to Ukraine. But the Germans announced this decision later — on January 25. Germany will transfer 14 Leopard 2 tanks and allows other countries to do so.
The mass media wrote that Germany informally proposed to the USA a condition for the joint supply of tanks — German Leopard and American Abrams. Instead, the US was against shipping its Abrams because there is a huge problem with their repairs. There are no such tanks and bases for their maintenance in Europe. Only Poland ordered Abrams tanks, but the first tanks will be delivered to the Poles in a few years. Instead, there are at least 2,500 Leopards in European armies.
However, Germany did get its way, and the USA also announced that it would transfer Abrams tanks to Ukraine. In the US, it is noted that the delivery will take “many months”. The US said they would buy these tanks directly from the manufacturer. This means that they still need to be produced.
Western countries are forming a so-called tank coalition to jointly transfer Leopard tanks to Ukraine. They are in service with many European countries. Poland, Finland, Portugal, and even Canada spoke publicly about their intentions to transfer such tanks. Spain, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands and other countries are expected to join them. And on the photo of the Minister of Defense of Poland Mariusz Blaszczak from the meeting of the participants of the “tank coalition”, the flag of Turkey unexpectedly appeared. The Turkish army has approximately 300 Leopard 1 and the same number of Leopard 2 in service. It isnʼt known whether this means that Turkey also plans to transfer tanks to Ukraine. Turkey is trying to maintain good relations with both Ukraine and Russia, so even if such deliveries do take place, they will be completely hidden.
In addition to Western Leopard tanks, Poland will transfer 60 of its PT-91 tanks to Ukraine. This is the Polish version of the Soviet T-72 tank. There are approximately 300 of them in the country.
France does not exclude the supply of its Leclerc tanks to Ukraine. Currently, this issue is only being discussed, no decisions have been made yet.
In the near future, Ukraine is expecting an influx of various Western tanks: German, Polish, British, American, etc. All this creates huge problems for Ukrainian logistics, since each type of tank will require special maintenance. In addition, the Ukrainian military still needs to learn how to use them.
In addition to tanks, on January 19, the USA announced another $2.5 billion aid package to the Ukrainian army. Stryker armored personnel carriers appeared there for the first time, which will help evacuate wounded Ukrainian soldiers from the battlefield and bring everything necessary to the front. The US also added another 59 Bradley fighting vehicles, increasing their total number to more than 100 units.
The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine publicly announced that Western armored vehicles “will be covered by Ukrainian artillery on the battlefield.” Minister Oleksiy Reznikov published a photo of the cabin of the Ukrainian self-propelled artillery installation Bohdana and announced that it will be mass-produced. Before the beginning of the invasion, only one copy of such self-propelled guns was produced — it was already used in the war. Now the state wants to mass-produce this self-propelled gun. Its main feature is that it is designed for a Western artillery projectile of 155 mm caliber.
For the first time in 200 years of neutrality, Switzerland began to make exceptions. In the spring of 2022, Switzerland joined the EU sanctions against Russia for the first time. Before that, the Swiss only joined the UN sanctions. All last year, Switzerland did not give permission for the supply of ammunition for Gepard anti-aircraft guns to Ukraine and refused to treat Ukrainian wounded soldiers, because according to the neutrality law, it should have left them on its territory until the end of the war. On January 25, Switzerland granted permission for the re-export of its military goods to Ukraine. So far they are only about demining, but itʼs already a precedent.
After the delivery of armored vehicles to Ukraine, the West “blocks” the transfer of only aviation and long-range missiles. The West has already transferred to Ukraine many Soviet helicopters, in particular combat ones, and only one British Sea King helicopter, which performs rescue and transport functions. Western mass media write that the issue of fighter jet deliveries to Ukraine has begun to be discussed. The F-16 aircraft manufacturer has publicly stated that it is ready to increase production in order to supply new fighters to those countries that will transfer their aircraft to Ukraine. There are also optimistic reports from the Ukrainian authorities that the next Ramstein meeting in February will concern aviation.
But this process wonʼt be quick. Even after this decision by the West, the training of Ukrainian pilots will take at least half a year. Western planes also need the appropriate infrastructure, which isnʼt available in Ukraine.
As for long-range missiles, the US was allegedly ready to send GLSDB cruise bombs to Ukraine with a range of up to 150 kilometers. However, it turned out that production still needs to be expanded, so in the best case they would get into the Ukrainian army at the end of 2023. Therefore, this idea has been shelved for now. The US do not want to give ATACMS ballistic missiles yet.
Translated from Ukrainian by Anton Semyzhenko.