The latest Ministry of Defence intelligence report on the war in Ukraine has noted that Russia‘s once formidable 1st Guards Tank Army has been packed with raw recruits. Heavy casualties in Ukraine have now left the 1st Guards’ fighting capability in doubt with the unit tasked with holding the frontline in Luhansk oblast against advancing Ukrainian forces.
The MoD briefing states: “Elements of Russia’s 1st Guards Tank Army are likely deployed along the defensive line near the Luhansk Oblast town of Svatove.
“The supposedly elite 1GTA took heavy casualties earlier in the war, including during the retreat from Kharkiv oblast in September 2022.
“It has now been partially reinforced with mobilised reservists, although remaining well below its authorised strength of 25,000 personnel.
“Russia has now completed continuous trench systems along the 60km between Svatove and the Russian border.
“Despite the length of these works, however, the depth of the defence remains unclear.
“The effectiveness of the 1GTA and other formations’ defensive operations will largely depend upon the extent of mutually supporting fullback-positions.”
Meanwhile, a US-based military think tank, the Institute for the Study of War, has released a highly detailed report into the state of Russia’s military campaign to capture the entirety of Donbas region.
The ISW analysts have noted that Russian guns-for-hire fighting for the Wagner Group have been putting up a desperate resistance south of the city of Bakhmut as the Ukrainian Army looks to counter-attack and retake lost positions along the frontline.
The report said: “Russian sources widely claimed that Wagner Group fighters took control of Yakovlivka and that fierce fighting is ongoing near Bakhmut in Opytne, Klishchiivka, and Soledar.
“The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that Ukrainian troops unsuccessfully attempted to regain certain lost positions south of Bakhmut. Russian sources largely discussed the intensity of operations in this area and emphasized high Ukrainian losses.”
The report continues: “Russian forces continued ground attacks around Bakhmut on December 7.
“The Ukrainian General Staff stated that Ukrainian troops repelled attempted Russian attacks on Bakhmut itself, northeast of Bakhmut near Verkhnokamyanske (27km northeast of Bakhmut), Spirne (25km northeast of Bakhmut), Yakovlivka (12km northeast of Bakhmut), and south of Bakhmut near Bila Hora (15km southwest of Bakhmut) and Kurdiumivka (15km southwest of Bakhmut).”
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Meanwhile, Putin has been forced to admit that his “special military operation” in Ukraine is taking longer than longer expected to achieve objectives.
Speaking during a televised address on Wednesday, the Russian leader said: “Of course, it could be a lengthy process.”
Putin failed to acknowledge many of the military setbacks his forces have suffered in recent weeks such as the loss of Kherson city to Ukrainian troops, instead, the Russian leader boasted of the Kremlin’s land grabs being “a significant result for Russia,” noting that the Sea of Azov “has become Russia’s internal sea.
In one of his frequent historic references to a Russian leader he admires, he added that “Peter the Great fought to get access” to that body of water which sits between south-east Ukraine and south-west Russia.