What Is the Current Situation on the Frontline?

January 24, 2023
UkraineWorld spoke to Roman Svitan, pilot instructor and reserve colonel of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Photo credit: Anton Shevelyov

Key points – in our brief, #UkraineWorldAnalysis:

1. On the Luhansk front

  • The Russians are trying to strengthen this front with reinforcements, but very little equipment has been moved there. Rifle and infantry units are trying to hold the front against a Ukrainian offensive with very little support from armored vehicles and artillery. 
  • The ground is now frozen and our equipment can already pass. Therefore, the Ukrainian army is continuing its offensive that was paused during rainy December. We are continuing our advance in the northern direction of Svatove in order to cut the R-66 road from Valuiki (Russia) through Troitske to Svatove.

2. On the Bakhmut and Soledar direction

  • The Russians have tactical superiority over Ukrainian forces on the Bakhmut front, along the Chervona Hora-Bakhmut-Klishchyivka-Kurdiumivka line. The Russian forces have occupied Donbas behind them, which has been strengthened for 8 years, with good logistics close to Russia, so they can try to carry out offensive actions more effectively here than in other places. 
  • Ukrainian troops are conducting active defense from several ridges from the western bank of the Bakhmutka river. Soledar itself is located on the right bank, partly on the left bank. Therefore, Ukrainian troops have the western part of Soledar under artillery fire control. We are able to hold the defensive lines at the beginning of the ridge, along the left bank of Bakhmutka river.

3. On the Zaporizhzhia front

  • The Zaporizhzhia direction has been pumped up with Russian troops, but they have come the same way as on the Luhansk front, namely without heavier equipment, mainly as rifle units. Forming motorized infantry and motorized rifle units is not possible for them now due to a lack of armor. Newly arrived units are assigned to defense and intelligence tasks. Their units try to sneak forward to conduct combat reconnaissance. 
  • The Russians have the task of moving the front line 10 km north in order to protect the Melitopol garrison, which the Ukrainian army can reach with HIMARS. But when they try to advance, they enter into the gray zone, which is well shelled by Ukrainian artillery.

4. On the Melitopol direction

  • At this stage, the strategic task for Ukrainian forces is to cut off Crimea from Russian resupply. This will be made possible either by reaching any point on the Azov Sea coast, or by retaking Melitopol. At the moment, the Ukrainian troops do not have enough equipment for a successful advance to the Azov coast. 
  • The necessary equipment to achieve this objective was discussed at the Ramstein meeting. After the transfer of the full package of Ramstein aid and the arrival of frosty weather, the Ukrainian army will carry out this task.

5. On the Russia's future plans

  • The Russians do not have the strength and means to open a second front, so there will be no offensive from Belarus. The operational task of Russian forces is to move Ukrainian troops from Orekhovo to the north in order to secure Melitopol. 
  • Their main forces will be concentrated on the Donetsk front, in the area of ​​Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Maryinka. Near Maryinka, Russians may try to enter the rear of the Maryinka garrison near Vuhledar through Kurakhovo and Pokrovsk.
Roman Svitan, pilot instructor and reserve colonel of the Ukrainian Armed Forces

This material was prepared with financial support from the International Renaissance Foundation.