Picture of 48th week: tank coalition for Ukriane’s counteroffensive
About the transfer of the Leopards and Abrams armed forces by the Western partners, another Russian missile attack on the infrastructure, battles near Bakhmut and Vugledar, and personnel changes in the highest echelons of power - in our chronicle. We tell you how the situation has changed over the last week.
In the Kherson and Mykolaiv regions, heavy positional battles continue. The enemy maintains the defense in previously occupied positions, trying to gain a foothold on the left bank of the Dnieper. The forces of the russian federation constantly bombard Ukrainian-controlled settlements with mortars, artillery, tanks, and aircraft and destroy civilian, residential, and industrial infrastructure. This is how the russian federation wants to create a humanitarian disaster in the region.
The struggle continues for the islands on the Dnipro river near Kherson, which are currently in the "grey zone". The press center of the Joint Command "South" reported that during the attempt of the enemy sabotage and reconnaissance group to land on one of the so-called Potemkin Islands, the Ukrainian military hit a light civilian boat that the occupiers appropriated and equipped for military purposes.
According to russian reports, the occupiers have apparently begun offensive operations in the Zaporizhzhia region. At the same time, the head of the Ukrainian joint press center of the defense forces of the Tavri region, Yevhen Yerin, said that Russian troops are not conducting large-scale operations in the Zaporizhzhia region.
"The front line has not undergone any changes," Yerin emphasized.
Donetsk continues to be the hottest destination. Ukrainian troops continue to defend the city of Bakhmut. Its capture remains the main operational goal of the russian federation in this direction of the front. The defense of Bakhmut is a strategically correct operation, despite the likely high number of killed and wounded, according to analysts of the Institute for the Study of War. They note that Ukrainian forces are effectively restraining russian forces, thereby restraining Russia's ability to conduct offensive actions in other directions.
After several weeks of fierce fighting, the Ukrainian defenders completely left the small town of Soledar, located north of Bakhmut. Currently, new lines of defense are occupied. It will not lead to any large-scale changes at the front. According to the Ministry of Defense, Soledar's defenders performed a real feat. Despite the enemy's superiority in 3-5 times, they powerfully held their positions. The forces of the Russian Federation suffered huge losses in personnel, which can be compared with the losses of the aggressor in the two Chechen wars.
In the southwest of the Donetsk region, the small town of Vugledar, which once had 15,000 inhabitants, has become a new hot spot on the front. russian troops began an assault on it. This is their second attempt – the first ended in the fall with huge losses. The city is of strategic importance for the occupiers, as its seizure will improve the position of their forces in the Donbas, as well as prevent the advance of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to the Crimean "corridor".
According to the data of the Armed Forces, the enemy sent motorized rifle units and marines to Vugledar, trying to achieve significant success there, but encountered serious resistance from the Ukrainian army, suffered losses and stopped. But, judging by everything, the Russians will continue their assault. For Ukraine, the successful defense of Vugledar is a task of maximum losses for russian elite brigades, says journalist and military observer Yuriy Butusov.
Fighting continues around the city of Kreminna, Luhansk region, where a Ukrainian counteroffensive is taking place with the aim of cutting off one of the main logistical routes of the occupiers.
The situation in the occupied territories
Ukrainian men who were previously deported from the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine have begun to be mobilized in russia, Luhansk OVA reports. The Russians also continued to recruit imprisoned Ukrainian citizens who were forcibly taken to Russian prisons.
The russians have stopped social payments in the occupied settlements of the Zaporizhzhia region, the Center of National Resistance (CNS) reports. In particular, there are no payments in Melitopol, Berdyansk and Tokmak. The occupiers explain this as a lack of rubles.
Also, the CNS informs that the invaders are preparing for a new mass check on the "loyalty" of the residents of the occupied territories of the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions. In particular, a large-scale check of phones for the presence of Ukrainian applications is planned. The Russians are also increasing the number of roadblocks between populated areas in the south. On them, residents are asked about the presence of military records, owned vehicles, and addresses of personal accounts in social networks, with further verification.
The situation on the border with Belarus remains stable and under control. According to intelligence information of the Ministry of Defense, there are currently 5,800 russian military personnel on the territory of Belarus. A week earlier, the contingent numbered about 11,000 servicemen. The second mechanized division has now moved to the territory of Russia, including already entered the territory of Ukraine.
Scouts note that now it is a completely different contingent that was at the beginning of the aggression. Currently, Belarus does not have a powerful aviation component, despite exercises that have been ongoing there since last week. In addition, there is no powerful missile component, airborne troops.
The defense forces of Kyiv continue to strengthen the defensive lines of the capital and the Kyiv region — they are building defensive and fire structures on the likely routes of the enemy's advance and equipping shelters for personnel.
Controlled and liberated territories of Ukraine
A series of personnel decisions swept through the highest echelons of the Ukrainian government this week. Yes, only the Cabinet of Ministers dismissed six deputy ministers and agreed to the dismissal of five heads of regional military administrations. Some officials were dismissed due to high-profile scandals.
Thus, one deputy minister was dismissed due to suspicion of receiving a bribe of 400,000 dollars. The second resigned due to the scandal involving purchases at inflated prices of food products for the Ukrainian military. The deputy head of the Office of the President, Kyril Tymoshenko, was also dismissed. Earlier, journalists reported that he drives a Chevrolet Tahoe SUV, which the General Motors company handed over to Ukraine for transporting citizens from the war zone and humanitarian missions. He was also criticized for excessive self-promotion.
The EU welcomes the fact that the Ukrainian authorities are taking corruption charges against high-ranking officials seriously, European Commission representative Ana Pisonero said.
Situation with critical infrastructure
The country's energy infrastructure suffered two massive attacks at once this week — drone attacks on the night of January 26 and a missile attack on the morning of the same day. Considering the excellent results of the Ukrainian air defense (47 out of 55 missiles were shot down, as well as 24 kamikaze drones), the attacks turned out to be extremely ineffective for the Russian Federation.
Although the hits to power facilities led to emergency outages, most regions returned to stabilizing power outage schedules the same day.
Deputy Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov announced that Ukrainian energy facilities are already protected by special anti-drone complexes – "Shahed Catchers". Currently, 6 anti-UAV systems are deployed.
State energy trader EKU signed a memorandum of understanding and cooperation in the field of electricity supply and use of floating power plants with the Turkish company Karpowership. The companies, together with national and international organizations, plan to develop a project to finance and launch 500 MW of electric power from energy ships. This capacity can be enough to provide electricity to 1 million families in Ukraine.
The Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Raphael Grossi, said that the agency's inspectors did not find signs of weapons being stored at Ukrainian nuclear power plants, as claimed by Russia. In particular, the occupiers spread fakes that American HIMARS missile launchers and other weapons were allegedly delivered to the Rivne NPP.
Important events in the world that affect the war in Ukraine
The PACE adopted a decision confirming its demands for the creation of a special tribunal on the crime of aggression. The PACE resolution on the legal and human rights components of the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine became the main document regarding Ukraine, which was adopted at the current session of the assembly. The Assembly paid special attention to the fact that representatives of the leadership of Russia and Belarus should be responsible for the crime of aggression.
During this session, PACE called several times for the creation of a special tribunal and also emphasized that the Council of Europe should play a key role in this process. Also, at the beginning of the week, the PACE recognized that the Russian military aggression against Ukraine began in 2014, not 2022; this approach was confirmed in the new decision.
The United States declared the Russian private military company "Wagner" a transnational criminal organization and also imposed sanctions on individuals and legal entities associated with it. This means freezing any US assets of the group and prohibiting US individuals and entities from providing funds, goods or services to the group.
The OSCE demands that Belarus stop providing military support to russia. And he also emphasizes that any direct participation of the belarusian military in Russia's aggressive war against Ukraine will be met with "new and strong restrictive measures, i.e. sanctions.
We have been supported
This week, international military support for Ukraine reached a qualitatively new level. After all, we will finally get modern Western tanks.
On January 25, the German government decided to provide Leopard-2 main battle tanks to the Armed Forces. Other partner countries will also receive appropriate permits for the transfer of "leopards" to Ukraine. Training of Ukrainian crews should begin in the near future in Germany.
This was preceded by long months of debates, discussions and throwing by the German authorities, which sought to avoid the "escalation of the conflict". However, the decisive position of Poland, which declared that it would hand over the tanks even without Germany's consent, as well as the fact that the USA fulfilled the German condition and would send a batch of Abrams tanks to Ukraine, tipped the scales in the direction of providing the Leopards. Germany clearly does not want to look weak and against the background of its allies in the coalition supporting Ukraine.
12 countries (Poland, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Norway, Finland, the Netherlands, Canada and others) expressed their willingness to transfer Leopard 2. In the near future, the coalition plans to form two full-fledged tank battalions (80 vehicles) for the Armed Forces, Spiegel reports.
In addition to Europe, the United States decided to provide tanks to Ukraine. US President Joe Biden confirmed the intention to transfer 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine. The latest modifications of these tanks, which Ukraine will receive, are considered to be among the best in the world.
Also, Poland plans to transfer to Ukraine, in addition to the Leopard 2 company, 60 more modernized Soviet tanks, including the PT-91 Twardy.
A powerful "tank fist" is one of the most important elements of a successful Ukrainian counteroffensive. The provision of tanks to Ukraine will help the Armed Forces of Ukraine to wage a mechanized war to defeat russian troops and liberate Ukrainian territories.
Belgium allocates the largest package of military aid to Ukraine at 92 million euros. It will include: missiles for NASAMS air defense systems; launchers for the Mistral air defense system, 80 IVECO Lynx armored vehicles, 150 Volvo trucks, small arms.
The Turkish company Baykar handed over two Bayraktar TB2 drones to the Armed Forces of Ukraine free of charge.
Also, Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov stated that the next meeting of the Contact Group on Defense of Ukraine in the Ramstein format will take place in February. The Office of the President of Ukraine expressed hope that they will consider the transfer of combat aircraft to Ukraine, in particular F-16 fighters. We talked about this in detail in our analytics on "Rubryka".
The National Bank improved its forecasts for inflation in Ukraine in 2023 from 21% to 18.7%. According to the NBU, this will be facilitated by the maintenance of tight monetary conditions, a decrease in global inflation and weaker consumer demand in the face of power outages.
In 2024, the National Bank predicts a further slowdown in inflation rates to 10.4%, and in 2025 to 6.7%. The NBU emphasized that the main contribution to inflation in these years could be the increase in tariffs for housing and communal services, due to the need to bring them to market levels. In addition, the fact that Ukrainian businesses managed to adapt to the challenges of the war will contribute to lower rates of inflation.
The Minister of Defense of Ukraine, Oleksandr Reznikov, announced the serial production of the Ukrainian self-propelled guns "Bohdan". This is the first Ukrainian self-propelled guns that can use ammunition of the NATO standard – 155-mm caliber. Its development began back in 2016. In 2022, it was successfully tested on the battlefield.
The Ministry of Defense financed the new equipment in the spring of 2022. According to the minister, Ukraine should be as independent as possible in all components of defense provision, wherever possible. This makes Ukraine a desirable partner and strengthens our position. That is why the Ministry of Defense will increase its efforts in stimulating Ukrainian manufacturers.