Центр оборонних стратегій

Russia’s war on Ukraine. 18.12.2023

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 areas of Synkivka and east of Petropavlivka. On the Lyman direction, the Ukrainian Defense Forces repelled 8 enemy attacks near Makiyivka and east of Terny. On the Bakhmut direction, Ukrainian troops repelled 5 enemy attacks near Bohdanivka, 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 Ukrainian Defense Forces keep holding back the occupying forces that persist in attempts to encircle Avdiivka. Ukrainian troops steadfastly maintain the defense, inflicting losses on the enemy forces. The Ukrainian Defense Forces successfully repelled 16 enemy attacks east of Novobakhmutivka, Stepove, Avdiivka, and 11 more attacks south of Tonenke, Nevelske, and Pervomaiske. On the Maryinka direction, the Ukrainian Defense Forces held back the enemy in the area of Novomykhailivka, repelling  4 attacks. On the Shakhtarsk direction, the Russian forces did not engage in offensive (assault) actions. On the Zaporizhzhia direction, the Ukrainian troops repelled 4 Russian attacks west of Verbove and 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, northeast and near Bakhmut, 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:

  • On the Bakhmut direction, the enemy command seeks to restore positions west and southwest of the city at any cost.
  • Powerful strikes by Russian FPV drones hinder the supply of Ukrainian units on the Avdiivka direction.
  • The main operational goal of the enemy south and southwest of Donetsk is the complete elimination of the Vuhledar foothold of the Ukrainian Defense Forces.
  • On the Tokmak direction, the enemy command is making efforts to maximize the narrowing of the area where the “Tavriya” OSG is wedged into the first position of enemy’s main defense line, exerting pressure on the flanks of this area.
  • The enemy is attempting to increase pressure on the flanks of the “Tavriya” OSG breakthrough area with the forces of the 7th and 76th Air Assault Brigades, while units of the 42nd Motorized Rifle Division and the 136th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade of the 58th Combined Arms Army are simultaneously engaged in restraining  actions on the front.
  • The enemy command aims to break through in the area of Uspenska Balka from the west and east, thereby eliminating the Ukrainian wedge into its defense system on the Tokmak direction, but lacks sufficient resources to implement this plan.
  • Russian special services have created fake Telegram channels duplicating the corresponding channels of Ukrainian brigades and battalions to spread false information and discredit Ukrainian military personnel.

Change in the line of contact (LoC):  

  • There were 64 combat engagements on various fronts.
  • On the Kupyansk direction, Russian forces unsuccessfully attacked near Synkivka, Stelmakhivka, Yahidne, east of Petropavlivka, in the direction of Lyman near Makiyivka, Serebryansk Forest, and east of Terny.
  • The “Khortytsia” OSG forces advanced into northern Synkivka.
  • On the Bakhmut direction, the enemy command committed the 11th Separate Air Assault Brigade to battle in the direction of Ivanivske, deploying additional units from the 200th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade north of Bohdanivka. During two days of fighting, the enemy managed to capture one platoon-sized strongpoint, displace the “Khortytsia” OSG units from three unit size positions, and destroy two positions with artillery fire.
  • North and east of Klishchiivka, and east and south of Andriivka, the enemy fully committed the 72nd Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade of the 3rd Army Corps to battle, but failed to achieve success. North of Klishchiivka, the enemy was forced to retreat from one of the forward positions.
  • On the Avdiivka direction, Russian forces achieved minor successes near Stepove, advancing towards Novokalynove, near Krasnohorivka, the Avdiivka Coking Plant, and in the industrial zone southeast of Avdiivka.
  • The “Tavriya” OSG forces repelled at least 17 Russian attacks east of Novobakhmutivka, Stepove, and Avdiivka, and at least 13 attacks near Pervomaiske, making progress east of Nevelske.
  • The situation sharply escalated in the Novomykhailivka area, where the enemy, advancing towards Hryhorivka, gained the ability to attack Novomykhailivka from the north, involving the 33rd and 255th Motorized Rifle Regiments of the 20th Motorized Rifle Division of the 8th Army. Simultaneously, the enemy, with the forces of the 39th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade of the 68th Army Corps, seeks to break through towards Novomykhailivka from the south and southeast from the direction of Stepne and Solodke. Fighting continues in the immediate approaches to Novomykhailivka.
  • Berdyansk direction, Russian forces continue to attack west of Staromayorske and north of Pryiutne, attempting to advance towards Novodarivka and Rivnopil, recapture Urozhaine and Staromayorske.
  • Tokmak direction: forward units of the 234th and 237th Air Assault Regiments of the 76th Air Assault Division attacked the advanced units of the “Tavriya” OSG in the direction of Kopani-north of Robotyne, and advanced 800 meters. Units of the 56th Air Assault Regiment of the 7th Air Assault Division, with support from the 108th Air Assault Regiment, eliminated the threat to the positions of Russian forces on the northwest outskirts of Verbove and advanced 400 meters north of the village. The “Tavriya” OSG forces could not hold their positions near the Height 140 north of the village and were forced to retreat in a western direction. Supporting actions on the flanks, the 71st Motorized Rifle Regiment of the 42nd Motorized Rifle Division conducted a series of attacks northwest of Novoprokopivka, and the 108th Air Assault Regiment attacked southeast of Novopokrovka.
  • Kherson direction, The “Odesa” OSG troops are holding positions on the eastern bank of Kherson Oblast, continue to deploy reinforcements to the eastern bank of the Dnipro River.
  • In the Black Sea-Azov naval operational area, the enemy naval group on combat duty consists of:
    • Black Sea: 2 ships;
    • 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:

  • The Russian naval command has concentrated its missile ships at the Naval Base in Novorossiysk, concealing them to shield against potential strikes from the Ukrainian Defense Forces.

Escalation Indicators:

  • The adversary has abruptly intensified its activities in the vicinity of Novomykhailivka on the Avdiivka direction.

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.
  • 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 Russian Federation plans to seize the entire Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts, 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 portions of Zaporizhzhia, Dnipropetrovsk, and Kharkiv Oblasts, including the city of Kharkiv on the left bank of the Dnipro River.
  • In the direction of Pobieda – Kostiantynivka along the Maryinka – Vuhledar road. Their objective is to penetrate the rear and left flank of the Ukrainian units defending in the Novomykhailivka area.
  • The enemy command is forming preliminary conditions for a repeat of the Bakhmut and Avdiivka scenarios in the Vuhledar area, attempting to advance on the flanks of the stronghold of the Ukrainian Defense Forces, with the main direction of the attack planned to be the Maryinka – Kostiantynivka – Vuhledar road.

Russian operational losses from 24.02.22 to 18.12.23 

Personnel – almost 347,160 people (+1090);

Tanks 5,783 (+44);

Armored combat vehicles – 10,752 (+60);

Artillery systems – 8,175 (+38);

Multiple rocket launchers (MLRS) – 926 (+3);

Anti-aircraft warfare systems – 610 (+1);

Vehicles and fuel tanks – 10,822 (+56);

Aircraft – 324 (0);

Helicopters – 324 (0);

UAV operational and tactical level – 6,290 (+12);

Intercepted cruise missiles – 1,610 (0);

Boats/ships – 23 (0).

Humanitarian +general:

  • According to information provided by the Situation Center of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, Russian troops shelled 10 regions of Ukraine over the past day. A total of 101 towns and villages and 25 infrastructure objects were attacked with various types of weapons. One person was reported injured in Donetsk Oblast, and one person was killed in Kherson. The number of casualties is being updated/clarified.
  • On the night of December 18, the Ukrainian air defense successfully downed all 5 UAVs the Russian forces had launched at Ukraine.
  • Over the past week, Russians conducted 41 missile and 237 aviation strikes on Ukraine, carrying out 410 rocket attacks with multiple launch rocket systems on the positions of Ukrainian forces and civilian infrastructure objects, the Ukrainian General Staff reported.
  • Russian occupiers in Mariupol destroyed 180 thousand Ukrainian books, which they deemed “extremist,” and four libraries. They also imported Russian textbooks, as reported by the city council of Mariupol in Ukraine. St. Petersburg sent nine tons of textbooks to schools in Mariupol.
  • The Russians have abducted and unlawfully detained 63-year-old Kherson Railway official Oleksandr Kerekesh for over 15 months. Russian military abducted him from his home on September 13, 2022. Initially, he was held in Kherson and later transported to Kalanchak. Subsequently, he was moved to Chonhar, where he remains to this day, the Human Rights Center ZMINA reported, citing the abducted person’s relatives.
  • In Ukrainian society, the trust in the Ukrainian Armed Forces has not changed since December 2022 and currently comprises 96%. High trust is also retained in volunteers, with 84% of Ukrainians trusting them. Meanwhile, trust in state institutions, media, and the church has slightly decreased. Currently, 62% trust the President, while 18% do not trust. In December 2022, 84% trusted the President, and 5% did not trust.

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