Центр оборонних стратегій

Russia’s war on Ukraine. 16.12.2023

Operational situation

In the operational zone of the Ukrainian Operational-Strategic Group of Forces (OSG) “Khortytsia” on the Kupyansk direction, the Ukrainian Defense Forces repelled 9 Russian attacks in the area of Synkivka. On the Lyman direction, the Ukrainian Defense Forces repelled 5 enemy attacks east of Terny, Yampolivka and Makiivka. On the Bakhmut direction, Ukrainian troops repelled 18 enemy attacks near Bohdanivka, Ivanivske, Klishchiivka, and Andriivka. The Ukrainian Defense Forces continue inflicting losses on the enemy in personnel and equipment, and consolidating on the achieved positions.

In the “Tavriya” OSG operational zone on the Avdiivka direction, the Russian forces persist in attempts to encircle Avdiivka. Ukrainian troops steadfastly maintain the defense, inflicting losses on the enemy forces. The Ukrainian Defense Forces successfully repelled 20 enemy attacks east of Novobakhmutivka, Avdiivka, and 14 more attacks east of Stepove, south of Severne, and Pervomaiske. On the Maryinka direction, the Ukrainian Defense Forces hold back the enemy in the areas of Krasnohorivka, Maryinka and Novomykhailivka, repelling 13 attacks on this section. On the Shakhtarsk direction, Ukrainian forces successfully repelled two Russian attacks near Staromayorske. On the Zaporizhzhia direction, the Ukrainian troops repelled 8 Russian attacks west of Novopokrovka and south of Robotyne. On the Melitopol direction, the Ukrainian Defense Forces continue active operations, inflicting losses to the Russian forces in personnel and equipment and wearing down the enemy along the entire front line.

In the operational zone of the “Odesa” OSG on the Kherson direction, the Ukrainian Defense Forces continue to hold their positions on the left bank of the Dnipro River and to conduct counter-battery warfare and inflict damage on the enemy’s rear areas.

Russian forces continued offensive actions near Kupyansk, north of and near Bakhmut, near Avdiivka, west and southwest of Donetsk, on the administrative border of Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts, in the western part of Zaporizhzhia Oblast and advanced in different sections of the front.

General conclusion:

  • The enemy is launching the main attack on the Avdiivka direction (including the Bakhmut and Maryinka sectors) while another offensive is underway on the Kupyansk direction (including the Lyman sector). On the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson directions, the enemy is executing defensive operations with operational troop groupings.
  • The enemy actions on the Bakhmut direction are assuming the characteristics of an operation to encircle Chasiv Yar. This is indicated by Russian attacks to the west of Bakhmut in the areas of Bohdanivka and Khromove, as well as to the south of Bakhmut in the regions of Klishchiivka and Andriivka. The encirclement of Chasiv Yar will pose a complex operational challenge due to the substantial fortifications of the Ukrainian Defense Forces near the city and its strategic elevation. The current distance from the front line to the city is 9 km.
  • The enemy is attempting to create conditions for the capture of Pobieda.
  • On the Zaporizhzhia direction, Russian forces are facing a shortage of automotive transport, and there is a lack of repair facilities in rear areas.
  • Russian forces resumed air strikes with gliding bombs on the Kherson direction on December 15, following a break due to adverse weather conditions.

Change in the line of contact (LoC):  

  • There were 96 combat engagements on various fronts.
  • On the Kupyansk direction, Russian forces have advanced in northern Synkivka and occupied several new positions near the village. Battles are ongoing in the wooded areas near Ivanivka.
  • On the Bakhmut direction, Russian forces have the initiative north of Soledar, displacing Ukrainian forces from positions near Rozdolivka and Andriivka. They have advanced northwest of Klishchiivka in the direction of Orikhovo-Vasylivka and Hryhorivka, securing positions around Bohdanivka, capturing tactical heights near Ivanivske, and repelling six Ukrainian assaults near Klishchiivka and Pivnichne.
  • On the Avdiivka direction, Russian forces have advanced up to 2 km in depth north of Avdiivka, 450 m west of Maryinka, in the direction of Novomykhailivka, Pobieda, near Ocheretyne, Pervomaiske, and Stepove. They have seized positions in the wooded area north of Stepove, in the village, and southwest of the village, progressing with a wide front near Novokalynove and Berdychi.
  • The “Tavriya” OSG forces have repelled at least 45 Russian attacks east of Novobakhmutivka, Stepove, Avdiivka, south of Severne, Pervomaiske, and Nevelske, and 17 attacks near Krasnohorivka, Maryinka, and Novomykhailivka.
  • Berdyansk direction, Russian forces unsuccessfully attacked north of Pryiutne and near Staromayorske.
  • Ukrainian Defense Forces launched a strike on the occupied Mariupol, targeting areas such as the “Port City”, where Russian forces stored military equipment, including air defense systems.
  • Tokmak direction: the “Tavriya” OSG forces unsuccessfully attacked near Robotyne and west of Verbove.
  • Russian forces were unsuccessful in their attacks south of Robotyne, northwest of Verbove, and west of Novopokrovka and Novofedorivka.
  • Kherson direction, The “Odesa” OSG troops are holding positions on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River. In Krynky, they have moved to positions deep inside of the village.
  • In the Black Sea-Azov naval operational area, the enemy naval group on combat duty consists of:
    • Black Sea: 1 ship;
    • Azov Sea: 1 ship;
    • Mediterranean Sea: 4 ships, including 2 cruise missile carriers. The total “Kalibr” missile salvo is 16 cruise missiles.

Change in enemy disposition:

  • Units from the 3rd Motorized Rifle Battalion of the 28th Motorized Rifle Regiment (the 70th Motorized Rifle Division of the 18th Combined Arms Army) are operating in the area of Krynky.

Escalation Indicators:

  • Russian attacks in the areas of Bohdanivka and Khromove, Klishchiivka, and Andriivka may indicate the beginning of the encirclement of Chasiv Yar.

Possible operation situation developments:

  • Russian forces will be unable to completely seize the initiative in the coming months and launch a large-scale offensive that would prevent the Ukrainian Defense Forces from allocating resources to their offensive operations.
  • The enemy’s military command will continue to focus on encircling Avdiivka, improving its operational position in the Bakhmut area, attempting to advance towards Kupyansk in the vicinity of Synkivka, and solving the problem of the “Odesa” OSG strongholds on the left bank of the Dnipro. Defensive operations will be sustained on the other fronts.
  • The Russian military command believes that the military impasse during the winter will deplete Western support for Ukraine and give the Russian forces an advantage despite significant losses in the Russian Armed Forces and persistent shortages of personnel, ammunition, and equipment.
  • Russian forces are attempting to seize the initiative on the theater of military operations in Ukraine, at least since mid-November 2023. To achieve this, they initiated offensive operations on several sections of the front during the most challenging weather conditions of the autumn-winter season.
  • On the Bakhmut direction, the enemy will attempt to encircle Chasiv Yar.
  • The village of Pobeda will become the next direction in the development of the Russian offensive on the Maryinka front.
  • The Russian Federation plans to seize the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts entirely, as well as part of Kharkiv Oblast up to the Oskil River by the end of 2024. Over the next 36 months, Russia intends to capture parts of Zaporizhzhia, Dnipropetrovsk, and Kharkiv Oblasts, including the city of Kharkiv on the left bank of the Dnipro River.

Russian operational losses from 24.02.22 to 16.12.23 

Personnel – almost 344,820 people (+930);

Tanks – 5,720 (+14);

Armored combat vehicles – 10,667 (+13);

Artillery systems – 8,100 (+1);

Multiple rocket launchers (MLRS) – 920 (0);

Anti-aircraft warfare systems – 605 (0);

Vehicles and fuel tanks – 10,710 (+11);

Aircraft – 324 (0);

Helicopters – 324 (0);

UAV operational and tactical level – 6,238 (+12);

Intercepted cruise missiles – 1,609 (+1);

Boats/ships – 23 (0).

Humanitarian +general:

  • According to information provided by the Situation Center of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, Russian troops shelled 14 regions of Ukraine over the past day. A total of 132 towns and villages and 51 infrastructure objects were attacked with various types of weapons. Four people were reported injured in Kherson Oblast. The number of casualties is being updated/clarified.
  • On the night of December 16, Russian forces again attacked Ukraine, deploying 31 Shahed-136/131 UAVs. Ukrainian air defense forces successfully destroyed 30 of the attacking drones.
  • Three more children have been successfully repatriated to the territory under Ukrainian control from the temporarily occupied areas of Kherson Oblast and from Russia. A brother and a sister, born in 2008 and 2011 respectively, were reunited with their mother. Additionally, boy born in 2011 returned to his mom from Georgia after being taken to Russia by his father against his will.
  • Currently, there are 1,230 people remaining in Avdiivka, Donetsk Oblast. On average, 3-6 individuals register to leave each day. The residents of Avdiivka predominantly live in basements of multi-story and private houses. There are isolated cases where residents stay in their apartments.

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