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Russo-Ukrainian War. Day 333: “Ukraine will get all the help in needs.”- Biden

“Ukraine will get all the help in needs,” Biden responded to a question about Leopard tanks. Ukrainian Defense Minister satisfied by Ramstein meeting, says not all aid was publicly disclosed. The US and its allies agreed to introduce two price caps for Russian oil products.

Daily overview — Summary report, January 22, 2023

The General Staff’s operational update regarding the Russian invasion as of 18.00 pm, January 22, 2023 is in the dropdown menu below:

Situation in Ukraine. January 21, 2023. Source: ISW. ~

Situation in Ukraine. January 21, 2023. Source: ISW.

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The three hundred and thirty-third day of the Russian large-scale invasion has begun.

During the day, the enemy launched 1 missile and 27 air strikes. Also carried out 55 attacks from rocket salvo systems.

The threat of launching strikes using ground- and air-launched missiles and “kamikaze drones” remains throughout Ukraine.

The occupiers conducted unsuccessful offensive actions in the Avdiyiv and Lyman directions. Attempts to attack the Bakhmut direction are continuing, and the intensity of the use of aviation is increasing. In other directions, they defend themselves.

Over the past day, units of the Defense Forces have repelled attacks by invaders in the areas of the settlements of Novoselivske in Luhansk Oblast and Terna, Serebryansk Forestry, Verkhnyokamianske, Bilogorivka, Krasna Gora, Bakhmut, Pervomaiske, Maryinka and Pobieda in Donetsk region.

Kharkiv Battle Map. January 21, 2023. Source: ISW. ~

Kharkiv Battle Map. January 21, 2023. Source: ISW.

No enemy offensive groups were detected in the Volyn, Poliske, Siversk and Slobozhansk directions. Areas of the settlements of Brusky in Chernihiv region , Sopych – Sumy, as well as Veterinarne, Strelecha, Pylne, Staritsa, Vovchansk, Novomlynsk, Dvorichna and Kupyansk in Kharkiv region were affected by enemy mortar and artillery fire.

In the Kupyansk direction, Sinkivka, Petropavlivka, Tabaivka and Krokhmalne in the Kharkiv region and Novoselivske and Stelmakhivka in the Luhansk region came under fire.

In the Lymansky direction, the enemy shelled Makiivka, Ploshanka, Chervonopivka, Kuzmine, and Serebryansk forestry of the Luhansk region.

Donetsk Battle Map. January 21, 2023. Source: ISW. ~

Donetsk Battle Map. January 21, 2023. Source: ISW.

In the Bakhmut direction, the positions of our troops in the areas of more than 15 settlements were hit by fire. Among them are Verkhnyokamianske, Vyimka, Spirne, Bilogorivka, Soledar, Bakhmut, Klishchiivka, New York, Druzhba and Zalizne of the Donetsk region.
On the Avdiivskyi direction, Avdiivka, Vodiane, Pervomaiske, Nevelske, Georgiivka, Krasnohorivka and Maryinka in Donetsk region came under enemy fire.

On Novopavlivskyi – Bogoyavlenka and Mykilske in the Donetsk region were shelled.

Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. January 21, 2023. Source: ISW. ~

Kherson-Mykolaiv Battle Map. January 21, 2023. Source: ISW.

In the Zaporozhye direction, more than 15 settlements were affected by artillery fire. In particular, these are Vremivka, Malynivka, Gulyaipole, Charivne, Mala Tokmachka, Orihiv, Novodanilivka, Kamianske, Zeleny Gai and Novosilka in Zaporizhzhia.

In the Kherson direction, the occupiers again shelled Bilozerka, Dniprovske, Yantarna, Berehove and Kherson from the entire spectrum of artillery.
During the day, the aviation of the Defense Forces made 14 strikes on the areas where the occupiers were concentrated and 3 on the positions of the enemy’s anti-aircraft missile systems.

Units of missile troops and artillery of the Defense Forces of Ukraine struck 2 areas where the invaders were concentrated.

Military Updates

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst. ~

Shelling by Russian Troops. Icelandic Data Analyst.

Ukrainian Defense Minister satisfied by Ramstein meeting, says not all aid was publicly disclosed. Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said he is “very satisfied” with the 8th Ramstein meeting that was held in Germany on 20 January 2022 by defense ministers of countries supporting Ukraine with military aid. Reznikov also said that not all aid packages were publicly disclosed.

According to British Defence Intelligence , (last 48 hours):

  • On 17 January 2023, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu announced plans for major changes to the structure of the armed forces’, to be implemented between 2023 and 2026. This included an increase to 1.5 million personnel – an 11% increase on top of the previously announced expansion to 1.35 million.
  • Shoigu also announced the re-establishment of Moscow and Leningrad military districts, a partial return to the Soviet era organisation of forces in Western Russia. A new army corps is to be established in Karelia, near the Finnish border.
  • Shoigu’s plans signal that the Russian leadership highly likely assesses that an enhanced conventional military threat will endure for many years beyond the current Ukraine war. However, Russia will highly likely struggle to staff and equip the planned expansion.

Losses of the Russian army 

Losses of Russian Army. Source: Ukrinform. ~

Losses of Russian Army. Source: Ukrinform.

Humanitarian 

The funeral ceremony for Ukrainian officials who died in the tragic helicopter crash has started in Kyiv. The funeral ceremony for those who died in the tragic helicopter crash in Brovary, Kyiv Oblast, started in Kyiv today, on 21 January. The President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy, his wife, heads of the parliament and the government, several ministers, politicians, and heads of the security forces came to say goodbye to the dead. The queue of Kyivians who came to say goodbye to the dead stretched to 500 meters.

Environmental

Grain initiative: European businesses urge the UN and Turkey to increase vessel inspections. Ekonomichna Pravda reports that the European Business Association (EBA) calls on the UN Secretary-General António Guterres and the Turkish Ambassador to Ukraine to do everything possible to facilitate an increase in the number of inspections of vessels transporting Ukrainian agricultural products within the grain initiative.

The US and its allies agreed to introduce two price caps for Russian oil products. On Friday, January 20, Deputy Secretary of the US Treasury Wally Adeyemo met with Deputy Ministers representing the global coalition of countries imposing the price cap on seaborne Russian crude oil (the Price Cap Coalition), US Treasury reports. Collectively, the Price Cap Coalition Deputies acknowledged the price cap on Russian crude oil’s effect to date in accomplishing the Price Cap Coalition’s dual goals of limiting Russia’s revenues from oil exports and stabilizing global energy supplies.

Legal 

US to designate Russia’s Wagner mercenary group as ‘transnational criminal organization’. The US Treasury Department will designate the Russian mercenary organization Wagner Group as a “transnational criminal organization” and will impose additional sanctions next week against the group and its support network across the world, the White House said on Friday.

Ukrainian political prisoner’s sentence increased for contempt of Russian court. A Russian court has increased the sentence against Crimean political prisoner, Oleh Prykhodko, with the increase, albeit only by a month, significant for two reasons. Prykhodko is already 65 years on and has health issues, so even the original five-year sentence is of concern. The additional punishment is especially cynical as it was imposed because of Prykhodko’s insults directed at two FSB officers directly involved in the brazen fabrication of criminal charges against him.

Support

“Ukraine will get all the help in needs,” Biden responded to question about Leopard tanks. US President Joe Biden responded to a shouted question about whether he supports sending Leopard tanks to Ukraine, saying that the country will receive “all the help” it needs to fight against Russian troops, CNN reports. As he was leaving a White House event, Biden said, “Ukraine is going to get all the help they need” when a reporter asked if he supports Poland’s goal to send the German-made tanks to Ukraine.

French entrepreneurs handed over 181 generators to Kharkiv. The French delegation came to Kharkiv with a humanitarian mission, as part of which it handed over to the city 181 generators purchased by French private entrepreneurs, Kharkiv city council reports. On 20 January, Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov met with Chargé d’affaires of the French Embassy in Ukraine Benjamin Rorig to thank the French people for their support throughout the war.

Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania call on Germany to provide Leopard tanks to Ukraine asap. The heads of foreign affairs of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania called on Germany to provide Leopard tanks to Ukraine as soon as possible, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania informed.

US Amb to OSCE expects US support to transfer allied F-16 fighters to Ukraine. The United States expects that the allies’ initiative to transfer F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine will be supported, the US Ambassador to the OSCE Michael Carpenter told in an interview with Delfi. Answering the question whether the administration of US President Joe Biden is ready to allow the Netherlands to supply Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets, the ambassador said: “We have long been of the opinion that what our allies supply is their business. And we support the countless contributions (to defense) that our allies have made for Ukraine. And this has been true from the very beginning of the war, when we discussed legacy Soviet systems, to the present period, when we discuss main battle tanks and more sophisticated air and missile defense capabilities and systems. And so I expect there will be broad support in the United States for our allies to continue to increase their contributions,” Carpenter said.

New Developments 

Air defense systems on Moscow roofs installed to increase Russian support of the war. The Kremlin is likely intensifying its efforts to present Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as an existential war to set informational conditions for a protracted war in Ukraine, ISW assesses. Russian and social media sources circulated images on January 19 and 20 showing Russian officials installing air defense systems on the roof of the Russian Ministry of Defense building in Moscow and elsewhere near the city. Some Russian milbloggers responded to these images with satisfaction that Moscow residents would finally be aware that Russia is involved in a “difficult war” in Ukraine.

Some German politicians criticize stalling on tanks to Ukraine. Western allies meeting in Ramstein failed to back the delivery of powerful battle tanks to help Kyiv fend off Russian forces. One German lawmaker said the lack of a decision was a major foreign policy failure by Berlin, DW reports.

The Russian state nuclear power conglomerate, Rosatom, has supplied the Russian arms industry with missile fuel components, tech, and raw materials. It contributes to Moscow’s lethal assault on Ukraine, prompting calls for sanctions against the company.

Assessment 

  1. On the war.

The Institute for the Study of War has made the following assessment as of January 21, 2023:

The Ukrainian defense of Bakhmut is likely a strategically sound effort despite its costs for Ukraine. While the costs associated with Ukraine’s continued defense of Bakhmut are significant and likely include opportunity costs related to potential Ukrainian counter-offensive operations elsewhere, Ukraine would also have paid a significant price for allowing Russian troops to take Bakhmut easily. Bakhmut itself is not operationally or strategically significant but had Russian troops taken it relatively rapidly and cheaply they could have hoped to expand operations in ways that could have forced Ukraine to construct hasty defensive positions in less favorable terrain. One must also not dismiss the seemingly “political” calculus of committing to the defense of Bakhmut lightly—Russian forces occupy more than 100,000 square kilometers of Ukrainian territory including multiple Ukrainian cities and are inflicting atrocities on Ukrainian civilians in occupied areas. It is not unreasonable for political and military leaders to weigh these factors in determining whether to hold or cede particular population concentrations. Americans have not had to make such choices since 1865 and should not be quick to scorn considerations that would be very real to them were American cities facing such threats.

Ukrainian forces have previously employed a similar gradual attrition model to compel Russian operations in certain areas to culminate after months of suffering high personnel and equipment losses in pursuit of marginal tactical gains. Russian troops spent months attempting to grind through effective Ukrainian defenses in Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk in the early summer of 2022 and captured Lysychansk only after a controlled Ukrainian withdrawal from the area.[1] The capture of Lysychansk and the Luhansk Oblast administrative border, however, quickly proved to be operationally insignificant for Russian forces, and the ultimate result of the Ukrainian defense of the area was the forced culmination of the Russian offensive in Luhansk Oblast, leading to the overall stagnation of Russian offensive operations in Donbas in the summer and fall of 2022. Ukrainian defense of Bakhmut will likely contribute to a similar result—Russian forces have been funneling manpower and equipment into the area since May 2022 and have yet to achieve any operationally significant advances that seriously threaten the Ukrainian defense of the area. ISW continues to re-evaluate its assessment that the Russian offensive on Bakhmut may be culminating but continues to assess that Ukrainian forces are effectively pinning Russian troops, equipment, and overall operational focus on Bakhmut, thus inhibiting Russia’s ability to pursue offensives elsewhere in the theater.

The West has contributed to Ukraine’s inability to take advantage of having pinned Russian forces in Bakhmut by slow-rolling or withholding weapons systems and supplies essential for large-scale counteroffensive operations.

Milblogger discourse surrounding the reported replacement of Colonel General Mikhail Teplinsky with Lieutenant General Oleg Makarevich as commander of the Russian Airborne Forces (VDV) has further emphasized the fracture between two main groups within the Russian MoD—the pro-Gerasimov camp, comprised of those who represent the conventional MoD establishment, and milblogger favorites who are less aligned with the MoD institution. A prominent milblogger announced Teplinsky’s replacement on January 20, triggering a wave of discontent among other milbloggers who voiced their confusion and concern over the situation.[2] Several milbloggers questioned why the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) would replace a well-respected career VDV commander with an “academic” with no combat experience.[3] One milblogger remarked that the Russian MoD has now “removed” two of the “key” commanders of Russian operations in Ukraine—Teplinsky and former theater commander Army General Sergey Surovikin (although Surovikin was merely demoted to a lower command position rather than removed from office).[4] Several milbloggers claimed that Teplinsky was dismissed following a disagreement with the Russian General Staff, most likely meaning the Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, regarding the use of Russian paratroopers for planned offensive operations.[5] The staunch milblogger criticism of a move that was likely orchestrated by Gerasimov suggests that the Russian information space is increasingly viewing changes made within the Russian MoD in a binary with the pro-Gerasimov camp on one hand and those perceived as milblogger favorites on the other.

The milblogger discourse on this issue additionally offers insight into internal Russian MoD dynamics that may have led to Teplinsky’s removal. The suggestion that Teplinsky was removed following an argument with the General Staff over the use of paratroopers in offensive operations suggests that Teplinsky may have resisted Gerasimov’s desires to use VDV forces to support operations in the Bakhmut area, where Russian offensive operations are largely focused. ISW previously observed that VDV forces took high losses in the early phases of the war and were likely held in reserve following the Russian withdrawal from the right (west) bank of Kherson Oblast in the fall of 2022. Teplinsky could have resisted committing VDV units to highly attritional offensive efforts in Donetsk Oblast that have been largely led by Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Wagner Group on the grounds that traditional motorized rifle or tank units would have been more appropriate or for more purely parochial reasons.[6] He may have resigned or been fired over the disagreement. Gerasimov likely seeks to weaken the significant airborne mafia that has long protected the airborne troops (which are a separate service from the ground forces in Russia) from policies and reforms that applied to the ground forces by replacing Teplinsky with Makarevich, a ground forces officer with no VDV experience.[7] Milblogger discussion of this reported interaction suggests that Gerasimov is increasingly seeking to commit conventional Russian elements, including VDV elements, to operations in Ukraine, and the resulting pushback from the Russian information space indicates that his campaign to do so will not be well received.

Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin has launched a series of information operations aimed at portraying himself as a sacrificial hero of Russia in a crusade against petty and corrupt Russian authorities. Prigozhin’s personal press service on January 21 amplified a letter from the family of a deceased Wagner PMC soldier that contrasted “indifferent” local officials, who did not help with the funeral of their son, with Prigozhin, who listens to their appeals.[8] The letter referred to Prigozhin as “the only Person [sic] who is not indifferent to the fate of the Defender of Russia and his family.”[9] Prigozhin also responded to reports that the Mayoral Office of Kamyshlovsky Raion, Sverdlovsk Oblast denied a Wagner Group fighter a funeral with honors with the claim that “we,” likely showing solidarity with “the common man,” will “deal with this scum” and “pull their children by the nostrils” to participate in the war in Ukraine.[10] These statements set Prigozhin at odds with unpopular Russian officials who operate under a different set of rules from the majority of Russians and increase his appeal as a “hero” of the voiceless. They also support Prigozhin’s ongoing campaign to gain legal recognition – primarily in the forms of recognition and funerary honors for Wagner PMC soldiers – for Wagner PMC, as private military companies remain illegal in Russia.[11] Prigozhin is falsely portraying himself and Wagner Group as moral entities that will continue their moral acts despite prosecution. Prigozhin claimed on January 20 that he would not mind if someone brought a criminal case against him because he would be able to participate in Wagner PMC from prison and that international fighters seek out Wagner due to the “call of their conscience.”[12]

Prigozhin is simultaneously building his domestic power base and reputation as a significant international actor in an effort that is both fueled by and further fuels his information operations against the Russian government . Wagner-affiliated news outlet RIAFAN published staged footage of Wagner forces placing the bodies of supposed Ukrainian soldiers into coffins to send back to Ukraine, and Prigozhin claimed that he advocated sending 20 truckloads of bodies to Ukraine in a likely attempt to humanize Wagner Group and portray Wagner fighters as honorable while portraying Wagner Group as willing and able to act in place of the Russian state to return war dead to the opposing side.[13] Some Russian milbloggers notably amplified this narrative of human and honorable Wagner fighters, while another accused Wagner of staging the whole scene.[14] Prigozhin’s press service challenged US Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council John Kirby to name the war crimes Wagner Group has committed in response to the US Treasury designation of Wagner as a transnational criminal organization.[15] Prigozhin even claimed that the US designation of Wagner Group as a transnational criminal organization “finally” indicates that the US and Wagner Group are “colleagues,” implying that the US is also a transnational criminal organization.[16] Wagner Group continues to operate militia training centers in Kursk and Belgorod oblasts in a likely effort to provide military support for regions that the Russian MoD supposedly neglects to defend, although neither faces any risk against which Wagner Group could defend.[17]

The Sun reported that US intelligence estimates total Russian military casualties in Ukraine as 188,000 as of January 20, suggesting a possible 47,000 Russians killed in action in less than a year of fighting. [18] The historical ratio of wounded to killed in war is 3:1, suggesting that Russian casualties in Ukraine thus far are close to the total US deaths in the Vietnam War.[19] The US National Archives estimates that the total US battle deaths in Vietnam is roughly 58,000 across eight years of fighting.[20] Soviet forces suffered 15,000 deaths across nine years of war in Afghanistan, a threshold that the UK Ministry of Defense assessed Russian casualties surpassed in May 2022 after just three months of hostilities.[21]

Key Takeaways

  • The Ukrainian defense of Bakhmut is likely a strategically sound effort despite its costs for Ukraine.
  • Milblogger discourse surrounding the reported replacement of Colonel General Mikhail Teplinsky with Lieutenant General Oleg Makarevich as commander of the Russian Airborne Forces (VDV) has further emphasized the fracture between two main groups within the Russian MoD—the pro-Gerasimov camp, comprised of those who represent the conventional MoD establishment, and milblogger favorites who are less aligned with the MoD institution. The milblogger discourse on this issue additionally offers insight into internal Russian MoD dynamics that may have led to Teplinsky’s removal.
  • Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin has launched a series of information operations aimed at portraying himself as a sacrificial hero of Russia in a crusade against petty and corrupt Russian authorities.
  • The Sun reported that US intelligence estimates total Russian military casualties in Ukraine as 188,000 as of January 20, suggesting a possible 47,000 Russians killed in action in less than a year of fighting.
  • Russian forces conducted a small ground reconnaissance into northeastern Sumy Oblast.
  • Russian forces continued limited ground attacks to regain lost positions along the Svatove-Kreminna line.
  • Russian forces continued to conduct ground attacks around Bakhmut and west of Donetsk City. Russian forces are likely making incremental gains around Bakhmut.
  • Available open-source evidence as of January 21 indicates that Zaporizhzhia Oblast Russian occupation official Vladimir Rogov’s January 20 claims of a major territorial capture are likely part of a Russian information operation.
  • Complaints from Russian milbloggers indicate that Russian forces continue to rely on cell phones and non-secure civilian technologies for core military functions – serious breaches of operational security (OPSEC).

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