Центр оборонних стратегій

Russia’s war on Ukraine. 20.12.2023

Operational situation

In the operational zone of the Ukrainian Operational-Strategic Group of Forces (OSG) “Khortytsia” on the Kupyansk direction, Ukrainian defenders repelled 3 enemy attacks near Synkivka. On the Lyman direction, Ukrainian forces repelled 6 enemy attacks in the areas of the Serebryansk forestry and east of Terny. On the Bakhmut direction, Ukrainian forces repelled 12 enemy attacks near Bohdanivka, Klishchiivka, and Andriivka. The Ukrainian Defense Forces continue to inflict losses on the enemy in personnel and equipment and consolidate their positions at achieved lines.

In the “Tavriya” OSG operational zone on the Avdiivka direction Ukrainian defenders continue to hold back the enemy, which persists in attempting to encircle Avdiivka. Ukrainian troops steadfastly maintain the defense, inflicting losses on the enemy forces. They repelled 26 enemy attacks east of Novobakhmutivka, Stepove, and Avdiivka and 9 attacks south of Severne, Pervomaiske, and Nevelske. On the Maryinka direction, the Ukrainian Defense Forces continued to restrain the enemy in the areas of Krasnohorivka, Maryinka, and Novomykhailivka, repelling 13 enemy attacks. On the Shakhtarsk direction, the enemy did not engage in offensive (assault) actions. On the Zaporizhzhia direction, the Defense Forces repelled 12 enemy attacks west of Novopokrovka and Robotyne. On the Melitopol direction, the Ukrainian Defense Forces continue active operations, inflicting losses on the Russian forces in personnel and equipment, exhausting the enemy along the entire front line.

In the operational zone of the “Odesa” OSG on the Kherson direction,  the Ukrainian Defense Forces persist in expanding their bridgehead. Despite encountering setbacks, the adversary launched eight assault attempts to dislodge Ukrainian units from their positions. The Russian forces encountered a robust resistance, resulting in a withdrawal with incurred losses. Ukrainian defenders are actively engaged in counter-battery warfare, delivering precise fire strikes on the enemy’s rear targets.

Russian forces have advanced to the northeast of Kupyansk, north of Bakhmut, and southwest of Avdiivka, continuing positional combat actions along the entire contact line.

General conclusion:

  • The Russian military command deploys its most combat-ready forces (from the Russian Airborne Forces), “Storm-Z” and “Storm-V” units, on the Bakhmut direction. The objective of the attacks on the Bakhmut direction is to advance towards Chasiv Yar.
  • Due to the insufficient quantity of domestically produced ammunition, the Russian forces are compelled to use artillery shells and mortar mines supplied from North Korea, which have poor quality. The subpar condition of these munitions has resulted in sporadic incidents of detonation directly within the barrels of Russian guns and mortars, leading to equipment and personnel losses.
  • Russian Minister of Defense Shoigu stated that within the [2023] year, 2 fully equipped armies (the 18th and 25th Combined Arms Armies), a mixed aviation corps, 4 divisions, 50 other lower-level military units, 18 brigades, and 28 regiments were formed.

Change in the line of contact (LoC):  

  • There have been 87 combat engagements on various fronts.
  • On the Kupyansk direction, Russian troops made minor advances north of Synkivka. Battles persist northeast of Kupyansk near Synkivka and Petropavlivka, northwest and west of Kreminna near Makiivka, Terny, and Serebryansk Forest areas.
  • On the Bakhmut direction, Russian troops advanced northwest of Bilohorivka, near Khromove and Bohdanivka, seizing the territory of the Chornobylets gardening farm. They repelled the Ukrainian Defense Forces attack near Pazeno. The battles occurred near Bohdanivka, Ivanivske, Klishchiivka and Andriivka.
  • On the Avdiivka direction, Russian forces achieved limited success north of Pervomaiske and made slight progress in the area of the quarry southwest of Avdiivka, attempting to dislodge Ukrainian forces from positions at the Avdiivka Coke and Chemical Plant (AKHZ). They advanced near Stepove, achieved minor success along Central Street on the eastern outskirts of Novomykhailivka, and captured an agricultural complex on the southwestern outskirts of Novomykhailivka.
  • The “Tavriya” OSG forces repelled Russian attacks at Avdiivka, and northwest, southwest, and directly west of the city. They continued combat operations near Novomykhailivka, Maryinka, and Krasnohorivka.
  • Berdyansk direction: Units of the 60th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade of the Russian 5th Army are active in the direction of Velyka Novosilka. Units of the 394th Motorized Rifle Regiment of the 127th Motorized Rifle Division of the 5th Army are deployed south of Velyka Novosilka near Staromayorske. Units of the 37th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade of the 36th Army are deployed southeast of Velyka Novosilka near Novodonetske.
  • Tokmak direction: Russian forces have made incremental advances to the east of Novoprokopivka, progressed 700 meters between Robotyne and Verbove. They persist in launching counterattacks west of Robotyne from Verbove and to the northeast of Robotyne in the direction of Novofedorivka.
  • The “Tavriya” OSG forces have withdrawn to more advantageous defensive positions closer to Robotyne and repelled Russian attacks near Robotyne and west of Novopokrovka.
  • Kherson direction: The “Odesa” OSG forces have maintained their positions in Krynky on the eastern bank, despite enemy counterattacks in this area. Both sides effectively employ UAVs. The enemy on the east bank of the Dnipro continues to face a shortage of equipment necessary for evacuating the wounded.
  • In the Black Sea-Azov naval operational area, the enemy naval group on combat duty consists of:
    • Black Sea: 3 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: 

  • Units of the 24th Separate SOF Brigade and the 20th Army are deployed In the Serebryansk Forest area,

Possible operation situation developments: 

  • The Russian Federation plans to seize the entire Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts and 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 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 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.
  • On the Bakhmut direction, the enemy will attempt to encircle Chasiv Yar.
  • In the near future, the enemy will attack the positions of the “Tavriya” OSG in the direction of Pobieda – Kostyantynivka 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 creating 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 20.12.23  

Personnel – almost 349,190 people (+890); 

Tanks – 5,814 (+16); 

Armored combat vehicles – 10,794 (+23); 

Artillery systems – 8,260 (+16);

Multiple rocket launchers (MLRS) – 928 (+2);

Anti-aircraft warfare systems – 611 (0);

Vehicles and fuel tanks – 10,871 (+29);

Aircraft – 324 (0);

Helicopters – 324 (0);

UAV operational and tactical level – 6,316 (+17);

Intercepted cruise missiles – 1,612 (+1);

Boats/ships – 23 (0).


  • 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 111 towns and villages and 63 infrastructure objects were attacked with various types of weapons. One person was reported injured in Donetsk Oblast and 16 people, including 4 children, were injured in Kherson Oblast. The number of casualties is being updated/clarified.
  • On the night of December 20, the Russian forces launched an attack on Ukraine using 19 “Shahed” UAVs;18 drones were successfully intercepted by the Ukrainian air defense.
  • On the night of December 20, during the shelling of Kherson, a warehouse housing humanitarian aid provided by the regional branch of the Ukrainian Red Cross was destroyed. Fortunately, no casualties were reported as a result of the incident. However, the entire stockpile of humanitarian supplies was lost in the ensuing fire.

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