Espreso. Global

Russian offensive in Kharkiv and Luhansk regions, situation near Bakhmut: military results of week

18 February, 2023 Saturday

The north of Luhansk and part of the Kharkiv region is the area that will be the most dangerous in the near future. Ukraine is now at the stage when the enemy is conducting an offensive operation

Ukrainian military analyst, CEO of Defense Express military expert group, Serhiy Zgurets has published his latest assessment of the frontline situation.

The accumulation of Russian troops near the border with Sumy region is not true

We do refute the information that Russians have amassed about 10,000 troops near the border with the Sumy region. This information is not confirmed – the Regional Military Administration had a conversation with the military command, where they discussed it and it turned out that this information is not true. Probably the senior lieutenant who commented to The Times is now drawing conclusions that he should not have acted as a general and planned actions for the Russian army. We have to be quite reserved about any publications, even in respected and well-known media.

The Kupiansk – Kreminna – Svatove area is extremely important for the Russian Federation: offensive actions are underway

The north of Luhansk and part of the Kharkiv region is the area that will be the most dangerous in the near future. We are now at the stage when the enemy is conducting an offensive operation. This is its first stage, when the enemy advances along the entire front line, assessing the effectiveness of our defense. Where Russia feels a weakness, they will deploy reserves and develop actions in the second stage.

There are currently 320,000 Russian troops on the territory of Ukraine – twice as many as at the time of the invasion. There are regular units and those who have been trained after mobilization. We have the entire spectrum of the Russian military.

In the Luhansk and Kharkiv regions, the enemy is transferring units from Valuiky to saturate the front. Fighting is currently taking place in the Kupiansk – Synkivka – Hranykivka – Dvorichna area. The Russian forces are trying to put pressure here to reduce the defense zone of the Ukrainian Armed Forces near the Oskil River. An important dynamic is taking place above Kupiansk. The enemy is theoretically planning to move from Kupiansk to Izium to reduce the presence of our troops on the left bank of the Oskil River.

Near Kreminna, they are advancing towards Dibrova. Active fighting is taking place in Torske and Nevske. There was information that the enemy had advanced 1 km west from Dibrova, but in this area they came to an open terrain where they suffered significant losses due to artillery. The enemy will reinforce its forces – the Kupiansk – Kreminna – Svatove area is extremely important for the enemy. At the second stage of the offensive, the number of forces and attacks will be increased in this area. This zone is Kreminna. Infantry is fighting there, and it is important to have mortars, grenade launchers and snipers.    

Bakhmut: situation to the north and south of the city

Bakhmut is holding the defence line. There are no changes that can be called enemy progress. North of Bakhmut is the most dynamic in terms of limited advances of the enemy. The General Staff says that in Krasna Hora our artillery is destroying the enemy and they could not gain a foothold. Now the Russians are trying to push through in the area of Paraskoviyivka, but there is no particular progress there either. However, the enemy is trying to keep the highway under fire control there. The Russian forces are trying to expand the front line and there are clashes in the area of Razdolivka, Fedorivka, and Spirne. There, the enemy is trying to find some gaps in our defense. It's an interesting dynamic – the enemy tried to capture Ukraine, then it came to the battle for Donbas, then Donbas narrowed to Bakhmut and now there are battles to capture Vasyukivka. We see the ambitions of the Russian army diminishing.

The situation south of Bakhmut is completely different than in the north. Reserves were transferred to the Bakhmut area – tanks, high-caliber artillery, long-range artillery.  In the south, the situation is interesting – the enemy has been pushed back near Ivanivske. Now the enemy has no forces and means to advance to the Kostyantynivka–Bakhmut road. It is not used, but it allows us to conduct counter-offensive actions in this area. The dominant heights in the area of Chasiv Yar already allow us to effectively use artillery to grind the enemy.

Another offensive on Vuhledar will end in failure for Russia

The Russian offensive in the Vuhledar area will continue. Over the past week, the enemy has pulled up several brigades to reinforce them. Now the Russian Federation is using artillery, tanks, and infantry assaults to continue trying to break through our defense. The Russians' movement is connected with securing the transportation route from Volnovakha so that we cannot hit the supply point. On the other hand, the movement from Vuhledar to the north must be connected with the activity of Russian troops from the north (attempts to get into the rear of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the area of Bakhmut, Donetsk direction). These units are acting in a linear and predictable manner. The defending brigades are simply destroying enemy manpower. I think the third offensive on Vuhledar, which is being prepared, will result in significant losses and the collapse of the Russian forces

Capabilities of the Ukrainian Armed Forces to attack Crimea

We can cover the distance of 120 kilometers to Crimea with the remains of Tochka missiles. We have stocks, and they are used from time to time. The longest range – we can use Ukrainian-made attack UAVs. A distance of 300 to 1000 kilometers is within the capabilities of the Armed Forces. If we wait for foreign missiles, the effectiveness will be higher.

Window of opportunity for the West and Ukraine to launch an offensive

We have to link the window of opportunity not only to the Munich Conference, but also to the 9th Ramstein meeting, where we repeatedly said that Ukraine should launch a counteroffensive in the spring. The efforts of all countries are aimed at ensuring that we have that armored fist for a counteroffensive. There are certain challenges – we are now trying to hold the enemy's actions along the entire front line and using reserves. I hope that we have a clear understanding that part of the reserves is for deterrence, and part is for the formation of brigades that will ensure a counteroffensive with the equipment we will receive. Both Ukraine and the West have this window of opportunity – they have to deliver the equipment as quickly as possible. Now there is a certain unanimity that the sooner this is done, the sooner we will achieve victory on the battlefield.

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