Центр оборонних стратегій

Russia’s war on Ukraine. 28.12.2023

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 near Synkivka and east of Ivanivka. On the Lyman direction, the Ukrainian Defense Forces repelled 3 enemy attacks in the areas of Serebryansk Forest where the enemy unsuccessfully tried to break through the Ukrainian defenses. On the Bakhmut direction, Ukrainian troops repelled 2 enemy attacks near Bohdanivka.

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 over the past 24 hours repelled 15 enemy attacks east of Novobakhmutivka, Avdiivka, and 17 attacks near Severne, Pervomaiske and Nevelske. On the Maryinka direction, the Ukrainian Defense Forces continued holding back the enemy in the area of Maryinka and Novomykhailivka where the Ukrainian defenders repelled 3 attacks. On the Zaporizhzhia direction, the Ukrainian troops repelled 3 Russian attacks west of Verbove and Robotyne.

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 persists in attempts to dislodge Ukrainian units from their positions. During the past 24 hours, the adversary attempted 13 unsuccessful assault actions, faced strong resistance, and subsequently retreated.

Russian forces advanced near Bakhmut, Avdiivka, Donetsk and Verbove; positional combat operations continued along the entire line of contact.

General conclusion:

  • Russian efforts to capture Avdiivka remain the adversary’s main offensive operation in Ukraine.
  • The enemy offensive operations on the Novomykhailivka and Novopavlivka directions are conducted as diversions.
  • The Russian military command’s unwavering commitment to capturing the ruins of Maryinka at any cost is driven not only by the desire to have at least a tactical victory but also by operational-tactical considerations aimed at disrupting the Ukrainian foothold in the Maryinka-Vuhledar area. This area serves as a convenient launchpad for an offensive  on Volnovakha and Mariupol and provides fire control over the railway leading to Volnovakha from the north and extending through Khlibodarivka and the Komysh-Zorya station to the west.
  • The adversary lacks sufficient resources to launch an offensive in the Maryinka-Vuhledar area, which explains its attacks on the Stepne-Novomykhailivka, Slavne-Novomykhailivka, and Oleksandrivka-Novomykhailivka directions. Instead of attempting a deep flanking maneuver, the enemy resorts to frontal pressure on the positions of the Ukrainian Defense Forces.

Change in the line of contact (LoC):  

  • There were 56 combat engagements on various fronts.
  • On the Kupyansk direction, Russian forces have advanced southeast of Yampolivka, reaching up to 3 km into the Serebryansk Forest. Positional battles took place near Synkivka, Petropavlivka, Ivanivka, Dibrova, and in the Serebryansk Forest.
  • On the Bakhmut direction, Russian forces have advanced closer to the eastern outskirts of Spirne, penetrating up to 500 meters in depth and width into the wooded area north of Bohdanivka. They are attempting to initiate an offensive towards Spirne and Bilohorivka. Positional battles are ongoing along the railway line in the directions of Siversk, Chasiv Yar, near Vesele, and in the areas of Bohdanivka, Ivanivske, Klishchiivka, and Andriivka.
  • On the Avdiivka direction, the “Tavriya” OSG troops have advanced further into the waste heap west of Horlivka and conducted assault operations near New York.
  • Russian forces have progressed in the eastern part of Stepove and to the south of the Avdiivka slagheap. Positional battles have been ongoing near Ocheretyne, Novokalynove, Novobakhmutivka, Avdiivka Coking Plant, the industrial zone southeast of Avdiivka, Vodyane, Sieverne, Pervomaiske, and Nevelske. The enemy launched assault actions with armored support near Avdiivka, resulting in the loss of up to 60% of their tanks and APCs.
  • Tokmak direction: Russian forces have regained previously lost positions west of Verbove and launched an attack near Robotyne, close to Novopokrovka.
  • Kherson direction, Russian forces have advanced in the western part of Krynky and to the north of Bilohrudyi Island.
  • The “Odesa” OSG troops continue to hold positions near Krynky.
  • In the Black Sea-Azov naval operational area, the enemy naval group on combat duty consists of:
    • Black Sea: 6 ships;
    • Mediterranean Sea: 3 ships, including 2 cruise missile carriers. The total “Kalibr” missile salvo is 16 cruise missiles.
  • The Ukrainian strike on the “Novocherkassk” large landing ship damaged the pier at the Feodosiya port and a warehouse.

Change in enemy disposition:

  • Units from the 108th Air Assault Regiment of the 7th Air Assault Division operate on the Zaporizhzhia direction.
  • Units of the 810th Separate Marines Brigade of the Russian Black Sea Fleet operate near Krynky, while units of the 80th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade of the 14th Army Corps of the Northern Fleet shell Ukrainian forces in Stanislav from positions near the Kinburn Spit.
  • Russian forces consistently redeploy units, particularly those from the “Shtorm-Z” and “Shtorm-V” formations, to the Avdiivka direction to break through the Ukrainian defense.
  • The enemy command has deployed the following forces to eliminate the Maryinka-Vuhledar salient of the Ukrainian Defense Forces:
    • In the Maryinka area: the 103rd Separate Marines Regiment, the 163rd Tank Regiment of the 150th Motorized Rifle Division of the 8th Combined Arms Army,
    • On the Maryinka-Pobieda, Oleksandrivka-Novomykhailivka, and height 204.7 – Novomykhailivka directions: 33rd and 255th Motorized Rifle Regiments of the 20th Motorized Rifle Division of the 8th Combined Arms Army.
    • In the Novomykhailivka area on the Slavne-Novomykhailivka direction: 139th Separate Motorized Rifle Battalion “Shtorm-Z” of the 29th Combined Arms Army,
    • On the Solodke-Novomykhailivka direction: the 39th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade of the 68th Army Corps of the 5th Combined Arms Army. Forces from the 40th and 155th Separate Marines Brigades of the Russian Pacific Fleet are also being transferred to this direction.

Escalation indicators:

  • The adversary has initiated the training of its Airborne Forces units to develop the offensive on the Bakhmut direction.

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 March 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.
  • Localized enemy attacks are exerting pressure on Ukrainian forces along the front line and may lead to a gradual tactical advancement by the adversary.
  • On the Bakhmut direction, the enemy is attempting to create conditions for encircling Chasiv Yar.
  • On the Avdiivka direction, an increase in the duration of operational pauses between enemy attacks is to be expected. This can be attributed to a shortage of combat-ready reserves and a gradual transition from a comprehensive advance across the entire front to sequential actions on various fronts.
  • The enemy command is transitioning to the implementation of a scenario aimed at eliminating the stronghold of the Ukrainian Defense Forces in the Maryinka-Vuhledar area. To achieve this, they will seek to maintain control over the central and southern parts of Maryinka, concentrating forces and assets for subsequent maneuvers towards Pobieda along the O0532 Maryinka-Vuhledar road, with the objective of reaching the Antonivka-Kostyantynivka line. Simultaneously, they will deploy an offensive from the Mykilske area towards Pivdennodonbaska Mine and Vodyane or try to break through towards Novoukrayinka through Prechystivka from the Novomayorske-Shevchenko line. After deep envelopment of the Ukrainian Defense Forces in this area, the enemy will launch a counter-offensive by two tactical groups to simultaneously get to the Katerynivka-Antonivka-Kostyantynivka-northeast of Vodyane area in the rear of the Ukrainian units and encircle them.
  • In the near future, the enemy will commence the assault on Novomykhailivka.
  • The enemy offensive in the Mykilske area and on the Novomayorske-Pavlivka section should be expected.
  • The enemy will continue its attempts to break through along the O0532 road towards Pobieda-Kostyantynivka.

Russian operational losses from 24.02.22 to 28.12.23 

Personnel – almost 356,670 people (+920);

Tanks 5,940 (+27);

Armored combat vehicles – 11,015 (+42);

Artillery systems – 8,391 (+15);

Multiple rocket launchers (MLRS) – 935 (+1);

Anti-aircraft warfare systems – 617 (+1);

Vehicles and fuel tanks – 11,180 (+40);

Aircraft – 329 (0);

Helicopters – 324 (0);

UAV operational and tactical level – 6,503 (+32);

Intercepted cruise missiles – 1,620 (0);

Boats/ships – 24 (0).


  • According to information provided by the Situation Center of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, Russian troops shelled 9 regions of Ukraine over the past day. A total of 120 towns and villages and 40 infrastructure objects were attacked with various types of weapons. One person was reported killed in Kherson Oblast and 5 people were reported injured in Kherson and Donetsk Oblasts. The number of casualties is being updated/clarified.
  • During the night of December 28, Russia attacked Ukraine with 8 “Shahed” kamikaze drones; the Ukrainian air defense successfully destroyed 7 of them within Dnipropetrovsk, Kirovohrad, and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts.
  • The General Prosecutor’s Office has grounds to suspect that the execution of three Ukrainian POWs was carried out by soldiers from the Russian 76th Air Assault Division, also known as the “Pskov Air Assault Division.” “At this time, we can confirm the authenticity of the video. Our military personnel, who were brutally killed, have been identified,” Head of the Department for Combating Crimes in Armed Conflict Conditions of the Office of the Prosecutor General, Yuriy Byelousov, said.
  • Russian occupiers compile lists of children from temporarily occupied Luhansk and Donetsk Oblasts of Ukraine, intending to transport them to Russia through Belarus, says Dmytro Lubinets, the Verkhovna Rada Human Rights Commissioner. According to him, verifying the fact of deportation and the identification of children is a painstaking process. When children are abducted through Belarus, it becomes extremely challenging to find information about who took the children, where they came from, and how they were brought to Russian territory.
  • During the past fall alone, the Russian occupation authorities transported 10,000 Ukrainian children to Russia for “rehabilitation.” They are taken to children’s camps where they are subjected to propaganda, and often not returned home to their official guardians. There was a plan to get 2,500 children from each newly annexed Ukrainian region. Directions for “rehabilitation” are issued by doctors brought in from Russia, according to the National Resistance Center of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.
  • The AP investigation revealed that the Russian occupying authorities significantly and deliberately understated the number of casualties resulting from the explosion of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant. The Russian authorities took control of issuing death certificates, promptly removed bodies that were not claimed by relatives, and did not allow local medical workers and volunteers to care for the deceased, threatening them when they did not comply with orders. Russia claimed that 59 people drowned in the entire area it controlled. However, in the city of Oleshky alone, the number of casualties is estimated to be at least in the hundreds.

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