Kyiv expects Russia to lose up to 70,000 troops in the next 4-5 months
Key developments on January 3:
Russia is likely to “continue offensive operations this year” even though it may lose tens of thousands of its soldiers in the coming months, a Ukrainian intelligence representative said on January 3.
The Russians “understand that they are going to lose” on the battlefield, but do not plan to end the war, said Andrii Cherniak, a spokesman for Ukrainian military intelligence. said.
In a comment to RBK-Ukraine, a Ukrainian news outlet, Chernyak said Ukraine’s intelligence is “sure” that Russia will still try to capture Donetsk Oblast and will do whatever it takes to maintain its land corridor on the southern coast. of the region occupied by Russia. Crimea.
Ukraine expects the Russian army to lose up to 70,000 more troops in the next 4-5 months, but the Kremlin appears to be “prepared for such losses,” Cherniak added.
This latest intelligence assessment comes as senior Ukrainian officials warn that Russia could launch a major offensive from multiple directions in early 2023.
Cherniak also said that Russian troops “can attack simultaneously from the north and east,” but “such actions are expected from the enemy, and our troops are ready for it.”
Russia’s battlefield achievements remain limited, even as fierce battles rage in eastern and southern Ukraine. Russian troops were forced to withdraw from 40% of the Ukrainian territories they had occupied since the February invasion, Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi said It’s January 2.
Russia’s ‘huge human resources’
Deputy Defense Minister of Ukraine Hanna Maliar said that Russia appears unable to maintain the same intensity of its offensive as it did at the start of the full-scale invasion, but still has “enormous human resources” to continue the war against Ukraine.
“They may not be able to fight as intensely as they started, but they have enough reserves to fight this war,” Maliar said on television.
While Maliar said it was an achievement that Ukraine still “firmly holds” a part of Donetsk Oblast today, he acknowledged that “these are very difficult battles” that are “very exhausting” for Ukrainian soldiers.
Russia now has hundreds of thousands of recruits that it can send to the front. Ukraine’s commander, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, admitted in December that Russia’s mobilization of hundreds of thousands of troops in the fall “has worked” and that recruits are “a problem for us.” He then estimated that Moscow still has “a reserve of 1.2 to 1.5 million people.”
Anticipating that Russia would recruit more soldiers amid its stalled progress on the battlefield, Ukraine’s top defense officials recently said that Russian authorities planned to close its borders to men of conscription age starting January 5. .
With difficult battles ahead, Ukraine needs “powerful motivation, professionalism and weapons” to maintain the defense in beleaguered Donetsk Oblast, Maliar said.
Currently, the epicenter of the battle is around Bakhmut, a salt mining town nearly empty of its 70,000 inhabitants.
While Moscow has been massing its troops and equipment for half a year, Russian troops are unlikely to make “a significant breakthrough near Bakhmut in the coming weeks,” the UK Defense Ministry said. said It’s January 3.
Both sides are suffering “heavy casualties”, the ministry said, even if “the frequency of Russian attacks has probably decreased from the peak in mid-December” due to “significant reinforcements” from Ukraine to defend the Bakhmut sector.
Expulsion of Russian athletes
Meanwhile, further from the front line in the town of Druzhkivka, a Russian attack nearly destroyed the Altair ice arena late on January 2, Donetsk Oblast Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said. reported. two wounded were reported in Druzhkivka.
Condemning Russian missile attack as “another act of hooliganism”, Ukrainian ice hockey association said in a statement that this is the fifth ice stadium destroyed during the war, listing previous ones as the stadiums in Kharkiv, Mariupol, Sievierodonetsk and Melitopol.
The association said the sports facility in Druzhkivka was “completely empty” and “not a military objective.”
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba condemned the attack and urged international sporting events to ban Russian athletes from competing.
“I invite all sports officials who want to allow Russian athletes to compete in international events because, as they say, ‘politics should be kept out of sports’, to visit the ‘politically neutral’ bombing-ruined Altair ice arena in Druzhkivka ‘ from Russia, “Kuleba said in a Twitter post.
The Russian Defense Ministry admitted that it had attacked Druzhkivska, claiming destroyed Ukrainian military equipment and weapons stored near the city’s train station.
The city of Kramatorsk, the provisional capital of Donetsk Oblast, suffered another missile attack on January 3, injuring at least one person, according to mayor Oleksandr Honcharenko.
Less than 24 hours ago, Russia’s attack on Kramatorsk injured one person and damaged 34 houses and 8 apartment buildings, Kramatorsk City Hall said.
On January 3, Russia also fired artillery fire at the town of Kurakhove, south of Kramatorsk.
Governor of Donetsk Oblast Pavlo Kyrylenko reported that artillery hit an apartment building in Kurakhove, killing at least one person and wounding two.
Neighboring buildings and a water supply facility were also damaged, Kyrylenko said, issuing another urgent evacuation call for remaining residents in Donetsk Oblast as Russia intensifies its shelling of civilian areas.
In southern Ukraine, the governor of the Kherson Oblast, Yaroslav Yanushevych said that two people driving a car were killed by a land mine that Russian troops planted before their withdrawal in November.
Yanushevych urged residents to be cautious as a “very high” amount of explosives remains in the liberated territories, adding that work is underway to dispose of them safely.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian air defense has reported shooting up the 84 drones that Russia launched against the country in the first two days of 2023.
Since September, Ukraine has shot down nearly 500 Russian-launched drones, according to the Air Force.