Russian sources speak of an encirclement of the embattled town of Bakhmut. According to experts, however, the true situation is different. Ukrainian President Zelenskyj has declared that Putin’s alleged ceasefire has failed. what happened tonight
Experts dissect Russia’s latest Bachmut lie
Russian sources claim that the town of Bakhmut (Donetsk region), which has been heavily fought over for months, is about to be encircled. The fighters gained territory around the small town of Soledar (11,000 inhabitants) and could now surround the besieged Bakhmut. However, according to an analysis by the US think tank “Institute for the Study of War” (ISW), this representation is incorrect.
The military experts write: “Even with the most liberal reading of military bloggers’ reports, Russian soldiers are still a long way from an effective encirclement.” In order to cut off the Ukrainian lines, the Russians would have to cut the Siversk-Bakhmut and Slovyansk-Bakhmut (E40 ) check. However, they are still 7 and 13 kilometers away from the two main supply routes.
And that in an area where at most a few hundred meters can be conquered per day. “It is very unlikely that the Russian forces will succeed in making a decisive advance here,” said the “ISW” researchers. And even if the Russians managed to control the E40, the Ukrainians would still have plenty of options. “That makes the whole encirclement debate bizarre at this point,” the experts conclude.
Zelenskyi declares the ceasefire declared by Putin a failure
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has declared the ceasefire declared by Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin over the Orthodox Christmas celebrations to have failed. “The world could see once again how wrong statements from Moscow are on every level,” said the 44-year-old in his video message on Saturday evening.
“They said something about an alleged ceasefire, but the reality is that Russian shells hit Bakhmut and other Ukrainian positions again,” Zelenskyy said. The Ukrainian general staff also spoke of ongoing Russian attacks with tanks, artillery and rockets.
Zelenskyy emphasized: “Once again it has been confirmed: Only the expulsion of the Russian occupiers from Ukrainian lands and the elimination of all possibilities for Russia to put pressure on Ukraine and the whole of Europe will mean the restoration of the ceasefire, security and peace.” According to Ukrainian data Two civilians died from Russian shelling during the Christmas holidays in Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk region.
On Thursday, Putin unilaterally ordered a 36-hour ceasefire, citing Christmas, which many Orthodox Christians celebrate on January 7, as the reason. Kyiv rejected the Russian advance as hypocritical from the start, and many international observers also spoke of a pure propaganda gesture.
After the declared deadline: Kharkiv reports explosions
Shortly after the official end of the period set by Putin, the authorities in the region around the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv directly reported several explosions. “Attention to the residents of Kharkiv and the region: stay in the shelters. The occupiers are striking again!” Governor Oleh Synehubov wrote on Telegram on Saturday evening. According to initial information, there is one fatality, Synehubov said. Almost immediately after 10:00 p.m. CET, an air alert was also declared in the Poltava, Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhia, Luhansk regions and on the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which was annexed by Russia.
Moscow: Ukrainian attacks returned despite announced ceasefire
In the afternoon, while the ceasefire was officially in effect, Moscow admitted that it would continue to retaliate against Ukrainian attacks. “All positions of the Ukrainian army from which the shelling came were crushed by Russian forces returning fire,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said. There were combat operations in the Donetsk, Cherson and Zaporizhia regions. Despite this, Konashenkov claimed Russia was sticking to the self-imposed 36-hour ceasefire.
Prime Minister: Ukraine has the largest minefield in the world
According to Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine has created a 250,000 square kilometer minefield in his country. “It is currently the largest minefield in the world,” Schmyhal said in an interview with South Korea’s Yonhap news agency published on Saturday. According to Schmyhal, the mined area corresponds to more than 40 percent of the entire land area of Ukraine. “Not only does this make it difficult for people to travel, but it also causes major disruption to agriculture, which is one of our main industries,” the prime minister said.
Survey: Most citizens are skeptical about tank deliveries
According to a survey, the German government’s decision to deliver Marder infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine has met with mixed responses. In a survey by the opinion research institute Insa for the “Bild am Sonntag”, 49 percent find the decision rather wrong and 40 percent rather right. 50 percent reject the delivery of battle tanks, 38 percent are in favor.
The federal government made its decision public on Thursday to deliver around 40 Marder infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine. Union and parts of the governing parties FDP and Greens are also calling for battle tanks to be sent to the country attacked by Russia.
Ukraine puts dozens of Russian artists on sanctions list
Meanwhile, Ukraine put dozens of Russian artists and other public figures on a sanctions list. One of the internationally best-known names in the decree published by the President’s Office in Kyiv is the Vienna-based opera singer Anna Netrebko, who has been criticized for being close to the Kremlin. Her and 118 other people – including three Ukrainian nationals – will have their assets in Ukraine blocked, if they exist. The sanctions list also includes the well-known Russian musician Filip Kirkorov and actor and director Nikita Mikhalkov.
Ukrainian media also reported that President Volodymyr Zelenskyi had 13 clergymen of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church revoked their citizenship at the end of December.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church has traditionally been closely linked to Russia and only completely broke away from Moscow after the Russian invasion last February. Recently, for example, the usage contracts for two main churches of the Kiev Cave Monastery, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, were not extended. For the first time, the new Ukrainian Orthodox Church celebrated a Christmas service there over the weekend.
Also read: The Ukraine update of January 7th.