The Russians began the announced full-scale offensive. While they were waiting for it, messages were widely spread on social networks that the invaders would break through the fronts in all directions, invade through the borders in the north and carry out raids tens of kilometers deep into the country. But they simply switched from defense to attack on the entire eastern front. The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has been reporting for several days that the Russians are advancing on five directions: Kupyansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Novopavlivka (Vuhledar). Only o two directions they are on defense: Zaporizhzhia and Kherson. The last one is unpromising — itʼs almost impossible to force the Dnipro River. It is still unclear whether the Russians will begin to advance in the Zaporizhzhia region, and if so, on what scale.
The fact that the Russians have begun their “great offensive” is also indirectly evidenced by the data of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on their losses. The number of killed occupiers reaches thousands per day, now they also lose tens of units of armored vehicles every day. Therefore, the Russians threw more forces into battle — and will suffer even greater losses. Since the beginning of the year, the occupiers have already lost more than 35,000 soldiers killed, and for the whole of 2022 — 105,000.
On February 10, the Russians again attacked Ukraine with rockets — they fired 71 missiles, 61 of which were shot down by air defense forces. They also traditionally launched Iranian kamikaze drones the night before the strike and the evening after it. The occupiers are trying to scout the positions of the Ukrainian Air Defense Forces or overload them and destroy the energy infrastructure. But with each hit, the efficiency of the Russian attacks drops. Since February 12, Ukraine has stopped turning off the electricity: "Ukrenergo" does not set consumption limits. Lights are turned off only where electricity cannot be physically supplied because lines or substations are damaged.
During this strike, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valeriy Zaluzhnyi said that two Russian missiles entered the airspace of Romania and Moldova. The Air Force also confirmed that it had seen a Russian missile in Romanian airspace on radar. Romania is a member of NATO, and therefore the flight of a missile over it can be considered an attack on the Alliance. But the local Ministry of Defense didnʼt confirm this and noted that the missile came as close as 35 kilometers to the border in the northeast.
After the missile attack, the Russians began to exhaust Ukrainian air defense in another way. They launch balloons with metal polyhedra attached to it over the territory of Ukraine. They reflect radar waves and light up on air defense radars. The Ukrainian army has to spend its strength to check such objects and shoot them down, because this is how the Russians can conduct intelligence — you can, for example, attach cameras to balloons.
On February 14, The Financial Times, with reference to Western intelligence, reported that Russia was drawing combat aircraft to the borders of Ukraine. It should support the attempt of a new offensive. The West expects that the Russians are preparing for a large-scale air campaign. This was also confirmed by sources in the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation to the Russian publication Important Stories. At the beginning of the invasion, the Russians were unable to seize control of Ukrainian skies and lost more than 200 aircraft and helicopters. Since then, Russian aviation almost does not fly over the front line — the probability that the aircraft will be shot down by Ukrainian air defense forces is high.
There are huge doubts that the campaign will be successful. Since February 24, 2022, when the Russians were unable to do this, Ukrainian air defense gained a lot of experience and also received various defense systems. For a year, the occupiers attacked the civilian infrastructure so that the West made it their priority to saturate the Ukrainian air defenses. The Ukrainian army received many Soviet air defense systems and Western man-portable anti-aircraft missile systems, as well as modern systems, including Gepard, NASAMS and IRIS-T. SAMP-T and Patriot systems should arrive in Ukraine in the near future. There is a high probability that the Russian army will suffer very heavy losses. Airplanes are one of the most expensive types of military equipment, and pilots are one of the most valuable personnel in any army, as it takes a lot of time and resources to train them.
It seems that Russia has begun to lower the influence of Wagnerʼs PMC and its leader Yevgeniy Prigozhin on the war. Where the "Wagnerians" operated, Russian personnel formations appear more and more often. In addition, Prigozhin can no longer recruit prisoners. Western media reported that now the Ministry of Defense of Russia is dealing with this directly, and Prigozhin confirmed it. Russian organizations that protect the rights of prisoners say: “Wagnerʼs PMC recruited, that is, took willing people, while the Russian Ministry of Defense takes them to war by force.” Perhaps, in this way, the Kremlin wants to partially replace the mobilization, so as not to be exposed to the discontent of the citizens again.
“Wagnerovites” began to actively complain about the lack of support. Prigozhin says that they “will be able to take Bakhmut only in March-April”, because the “military bureaucracy” does not allow them to get what they need. In one of the videos, the "Wagnerians" allegedly say that the state has completely stopped supplying them with ammunition.
In the Kharkiv region, the front line doesnʼt change. The Russians still control a very small area in the northeast, near the Russian-Ukrainian border.
The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reports for several days in a row that the occupiers are trying to advance near the village of Hryanykivka. This is similar to diversionary strikes or attempts to get as close as possible to the city of Kupyansk, an important logistical hub of the Ukrainian army. The local bridges over the Oskil River can be used to transfer reserves faster and more efficiently.
In the Luhansk region, the Russians continue to press along the entire front line. They are most actively trying to advance in the area of the villages of Nevske and Makiivka, but have not yet succeeded.
In the Kreminna region, the occupiers try to attack and push the positions of the Defense Forces of Ukraine away from the city every day. They are advancing in the area of the village of Dibrova, as well as Serebryanka forestry south of Kreminna. Some of their advanced units reached the villages of Yampolivka and Torske in Donetsk region. They are located on the Zherebets River — most likely, that is the border where the Russians want to go before advancing on the town of Lyman.
On the southern bank of the Siverskyi Donets River — the administrative border of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions — the Russians continue to press on the village of Bilohorivka, Verkhnyokamyanske and Spirne. They are important for the Ukrainian defense, because they cover the flank of the military, which restrains the Russians behind Soledar, and prevents them from reaching Siversk quickly and simultaneously from several sides.
According to Soledar, the Russians are developing success in three directions at once. But their movement to the north, towards Siversk, was stopped. The Ukrainian army maintains a defense at the border of the villages of Fedorivka, Rozdolivka, and Vesele.
In the direction of the west, the occupiers achieved the biggest success. They moved towards the village of Zaliznyanske, but then changed direction and went to the Bakhmut—Slovyansk highway. Ukrainian troops are holding the Russians along the route and preventing them from crossing it. But it is no longer possible to use it to provide Bakhmut with weapons and all that soldiers may need.
To the south, fierce fighting continues in the area of Krasna Hora and Paraskoviivka villages. The Russians declared that they had captured Krasna Hora, the Ukrainian army denied this. Russian Telegram channels published photos of the occupiers from different parts of the village. So, either the Russians still control almost the entire village, or they were partially knocked out of it. The first photos of Russians from Paraskoviivka also began to appear, but so far only from the northern part.
If the Ukrainian military loses these two settlements, the Russians will go to the next village — Berkhivka. Some dirt roads to Bakhmut pass through it, which are also partially used to provide the Ukrainian garrison there. Defending the city will become even more difficult.
In Bakhmut itself, the Russians are also trying to advance, but they are not having any serious success. On February 13, civilians and volunteers were forbidden to enter the city. The official reason is that Russian sabotage groups infiltrated the western part. But this may also indicate that the Ukrainian army will regroup there. For example, it will retreat across the Bakhmutka River to the western part of the city.
To the south-west of Bakhmut, the Ukrainian military seems to have successfully counterattacked and slightly pushed the Russians away from the Bakhmut—Kostyantynivka route. It still cannot be used to its full extent, because the Russian positions are quite close. However, this counterattack made another road to the city safer, namely Bakhmut—Chasiv Yar.
The Russians became more active in other directions in the Donetsk region. In the Avdiivka area, they are trying to attack the village of Krasnohorivka, which is north of the city, but they have not been successful so far. As in the south, where the occupiers want to get closer to the city from the villages of Vodyane and Opytne.
Fierce fighting continues in the town of Maryinka, although it is almost destroyed. The Russians still cannot break through the center and are trying to bypass Maryinka from the north and south.
In the area of the city of Vuhledar, where the large-scale offensive of the Russians resoundingly failed, the situation has hardly changed over the past 10 days. The invaders have lost a lot of infantry and equipment and cannot resume serious attacks.
In the Zaporizhzhia region, the front line remains unchanged. In January, the Russians tried to advance simultaneously in several directions, but were unsuccessful. They turned back and since then they only attack point-wise to seize a few positions or control the "gray" zone.
In the Kherson region, the front does not change either — it has stabilized along the Dnipro River. Ukraine and Russia continue sabotage raids on the opposite coast and islands.
On February 14, the ninth meeting of the Contact Group on Defense of Ukraine in the Rammstein format took place in Brussels. It was expected that a decision could be made at it on the transfer of combat aircraft to Ukraine, but a breakthrough didnʼt occur. Some countries only confirmed previous promises. The head of the Pentagon, Lloyd Austin, noted that eight countries agreed to supply Ukraine with German-made Leopard tanks. These are Germany, Poland, Canada, Portugal, Spain, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands. The USA and Poland will send Abrams and PT-91 tanks to the Ukrainian army. The meeting also discussed how to increase ammunition production.
Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, during his visit to Kyiv on February 15, confirmed that his country will transfer Archer self-propelled artillery installations to Ukraine, but didnʼt specify the number. The Swedes have only 48 of them. In addition to self-propelled guns, Sweden will hand over approximately 50 CV90 infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine.
On February 16, the Parliament of Norway approved a multi-year large-scale program of support for Ukraine. About NOK 75 billion (almost €7 billion) will be allocated for it. The program will last five years, that is, every year Norway will allocate 15 billion kroner (€1.3 billion) to Ukraine. In 2023, half of these payments will go to military aid.
The French publication Forces Operations, citing its own sources, reported that France has already sent the promised AMX-10RC light tanks to Ukraine. There will be 14 machines in the first batch, and the Ukrainian military has already learned how to use them. The AMX is wheeled, not tracked, and has very weak armor, so itʼs not a full tank. But the machine has a turret with a 105-mm cannon typical for tanks. Therefore, most likely, the Ukrainian army will use the AMX as a very powerful infantry fighting vehicle.
Translated from Ukrainian by Anton Semyzhenko.
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