Fierce fighting in Bakhmut
Fierce fighting continues in the direction of Bakhmut. Russian forces have managed to capture Ozarianivka and Maiorsk – reports about Ozaryanivka initially appeared in pro-Russian military Telegram channels, followed by a video of grenades being dropped on Russian military positions from a drone, according to notes from the Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT). Military analysts Def Mon and Deepstate have marked Ozarianivka as Russian-occupied territory on their maps.
The Telegraph and The New York Times also reported on fierce fighting near Bakhmut. The publications compared the fighting in the area to one of World War I’s biggest battles – the Battle of Passchendaele, which was fought in swampy terrain with trenches flooded with water and mud. The Telegraph also published photos of conditions on the Western Front during World War I (left) and on the battlefield near Bakhmut now (right).
According to local residents and Ukrainian soldiers, Bakhmut and its outskirts are currently being shelled with unprecedented intensity. According to soldiers, local residents and a US Defense Department spokesman, Ukraine has sent streams of reinforcements to Bakhmut in recent days, including special forces and less-trained territorial defense fighters. The Russians continue to pour Wagner Group units into the Ukrainian trenches, which are supported by a new stream of Russian soldiers redeployed from the Kherson front.
In the summer, after Russian forces seized the neighboring Luhansk region, the capture of Bakhmut might have seemed like a natural extension of the Russian campaign to conquer the east of Ukraine – a step toward two more important cities: Sloviansk and Kramatorsk. But now, analysts say, given the degradation of Russian forces and lack of ammunition after a series of setbacks, this goal seems unattainable, especially after losing their bridgehead in the northeast. Russia's strategy in Bakhmut resembles the capture of the eastern cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk in June, notes the NYT. There, Russian forces relied on dominant artillery fire to enable them to overpower Ukrainian forces and gain a foothold.
Ukrainian troops in Bakhmut on Friday, November 25.
The New York Times
According to local residents and Ukrainian soldiers, Bakhmut and its outskirts are currently being shelled with unprecedented intensity.
The New York Times
A Bakhmut resident walks down one of the town's deserted streets.
The New York Times
Transporting a wounded soldier to Bakhmut hospital on Friday. The day before, 240 people were admitted to the hospital.
The New York Times
One of the few stores still working without electricity in Bakhmut.
The New York Times
The New York Times
As military expert Serhii Hrabsky explained to The Insider, Russian troops are now trying to bypass Bakhmut from the south and north and use Ukrainian tactics to squeeze Ukrainian units out of the city.
“And such tactics make sense, as Bakhmut is an important communications and resistance center opening the way to Sloviansk, Kramatorsk, and Konstantinivka, which is a railway line. Serious tension is building there, and I assume that additional troop contingents have been redeployed there and the enemy, not counting losses, is trying to achieve a last-ditch victory, envisaging that this way they’ll gain operational breathing room, without realizing that it won’t be there.
The lines of defense there were built over the course of 8 years, that is, by taking Bakhmut, they think they’ll gain access to operational space [and gain a breakthrough], but I have great doubts about that – there are positions in between with drops in altitude and other things. The Ukrainian troops will hold the line, but the situation in Bakhmut may aggravate the situation in Avdiivka – not directly [in that location], but it’ll complicate supply, and after capturing Bakhmut they may consolidate there and deploy forces to bypass Avdiivka. Avdiivka is a critical point, because from there Ukraine is bombing Donetsk. This could cause a domino effect when the situation worsens. It won't change much, but I think it's a question of [the Russians] showing at least some success.”
A Russian ship carrying Kalibr cruise missiles appeared in the Black Sea
A Russian warship has been spotted in the Black Sea after a lengthy hiatus, according to a report by Natalia Humeniuk, Head of the United Coordinating Press Center of Security and Defense Forces of the South of Ukraine. The spokeswoman said the ship carried eight “Kalibr” missiles on board. According to her, this may indicate that the Russian Armed Forces are preparing new strikes against Ukraine. She also noted that there are missile carriers with ammunition on Russian bases, which can be airborne within a few hours.
As The Insider reported previously, Russian ships in Sevastopol have not been out to sea since late October. Activity decreased after the Ukrainian Armed Forces (AFU) attacked Sevastopol port with 6-8 uncrewed surface vessels on October 20. GeoConfirmed experts analyzed photos and video of eyewitnesses and concluded that they attacked the frigates Admiral Grigorovich and Admiral Makarov, and damaged the minesweeper Ivan Golubets.
Institute for the Study of War publishes map of Russia’s fortifications on left bank of the Dnipro
Most of the Russian military's field fortifications are located on the lines of demarcation and are mostly perpendicular to the roads, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported. The Russian military is aware that Ukrainian forces can force the Dnipro river and mount a counteroffensive in the eastern Kherson region, potentially threatening all critical land communications from Crimea to mainland Ukraine.
Russian efforts to prepare extensive defensive positions in the eastern Kherson region, whether executed well or poorly, underscore the critical importance of this area to the future course of the war.
Trenches and staging areas in eastern Kherson have been dug by the Russian military since early October 2022, already then preparing to retreat from the right bank of the Dnipro River. On November 5, OSINT analyst Benjamin Pittet reported that the Russian command was preparing to withdraw from the left bank of the Dnipro river and, consequently, to withdraw from Kherson. He analyzed satellite images and concluded that the Russian military had built three lines of trenches and bunkers on the right bank of the Dnipro. These defensive positions take advantage of man-made and natural obstacles such as the Dnipro River and numerous canals in the Kherson region. Trenches are even being built on the shore of the Black Sea.
Most positions on the left bank of the Dnipro are two rows of trenches and locations for equipment. The most imposing defensive positions were built by the Russian military 18 kilometers from the Dnipro – they consist of three different defensive lines and a canal.
Russia sends large train with military equipment to Belarus
Russia has sent a large train with military equipment to Belarus. According to a report by journalist Anatoly Motolko's project Belaruski Hayun, which analyzes the movement of Russian equipment and Russia's actions in Belarus, the train includes at least 15 Tor-M2 air defense systems and 10 pieces of engineering equipment.
The train left Yeisk station (Krasnodar region, Russia) on November 25. It was last seen at the station Orsha-Centralny (Orsha, Vitebsk region) on November 28, at 10:00. The terminal point of this echelon is the railway station Lyasnaya (Baranovichi district, Brest region). Most likely, it's not the last movement of «Tor-M2» on the territory of Belarus, reports Belaruski Hayun.
Oryx estimates number of abandoned Russian vehicles in Ukraine via photo and video footage
Volodymyr Datsenko, an analyst at Forbes Ukraine, has compiled an infographic based on data collected by the Oryx project about abandoned Russian equipment in Ukraine. Oryx estimated that the Ukrainian military managed to seize at least 2,000 pieces of heavy weapons. The total value of the military trophies is almost 2 billion dollars without taking into account light weapons and ammunition. Analysts in the calculations take into account only what they have seen on photos and videos, in reality captured, most likely, more.
As Forbes Ukraine earlier reported, Russia's direct military spending for the 9 months of the war has come in at close to $82 billion. The publication’s estimate includes the direct costs needed to support military operations, but does not include other defense-related costs or economic losses, Datsenko writes. In 2021, Russia's budget revenues were about $345 billion (2,246.5 billion roubles), which means Russa has already spent a quarter of last year's revenues on the war against Ukraine.
On November 28, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov announced that Russia had launched more than 16,000 missile strikes against Ukraine over the past nine months. 97% of the targets were civilian objects.
Pentagon may supply Ukraine with long-range GLSDB systems
The Pentagon is considering Boeing's proposal to supply Ukraine with GLSDB (Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb) systems mounted on existing missiles, Reuters reports. The GLSDB is capable of hitting targets at ranges of up to 150 kilometers. If deliveries are agreed upon, GLSDBs will be delivered to Ukraine as early as spring 2023.
“In a nutshell, one takes an American high-precision GBU-39 (also known as the SDB) aerial bomb and puts it on the missile section of an ordinary, unguided M26 missile from the M270/HIMARS,” explains Kirill Mikhailov, a former Conflict Intelligence Team analyst. “Launched by the same American MLRS, the missile part gives the bomb an initial speed, apparently comparable to an airborne launch. As a result, the GLSDB flies farther than the guided GMLRS missiles (150 vs 85 km), the mass of the warhead is about the same (a little less than 100 kg), costs less ($40,000 for bomb itself + something for the rocket part against $160,000 for the GMLRS). Accuracy shouldn’t suffer much, [errors should be contained to] up to 1 meter.”
According to the SAAB website, the GLSDB is GPS-guided and can be used in all weather conditions – including against armored vehicles. The GBU-39, which will function as a GLSDB warhead, has small folding wings that allow it to glide at altitudes of over 100 kilometers when dropped from an aircraft and hit targets up to 0.9 meters in diameter.
According to Mikhailov, it is not yet clear whether the White House will agree to supply these weapons or will again be hesitant of a potential escalation of the conflict with Russia. It is also not clear whether it is possible to increase the production of GLSDB in sufficient quantities and whether M26 missiles are still being produced and, if not, how many of them remain unused. If these issues are resolved, Ukraine will be able to use the new weapons to hit important Russian logistics centers in the occupied territories that are inaccessible to the GMLRS.
New strikes expected on west and center of Ukraine
Military expert Serhii Hrabsky told The Insider that new Russian strikes on the center and west of Ukraine could be possible soon. He noted that the Russians will most likely continue targeting the country's energy infrastructure which they have not yet destroyed, as well the railroad network.
“Today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow are waiting. Targets have been marked in the center and west of Ukraine. But that's okay, today they’ve already tested the transmission of energy from Romania. They’re hitting transformers – their minimum production time is two months. Transformers and power generators from the reserves of allied countries are now being transferred [to Ukraine]. There may be complications, but they’re mostly related to industry, business and transport, but the effect won’t be strong. On the railroads, mobile replacement crews with diesel locomotives have been set up, which are effective and minimize losses. The delay on passenger trains is about 3-4 hours, longer on military trains. Yes, these strikes are having a serious impact, but you can't say it’ll bring the whole system down.
They’ll continue shelling until their stockpile of missiles runs out. We’re talking about terror here, as this is a situation where the [Ukrainian] people, by [Russian] design, have to go and demand an end to the war on any terms. I followed the Chechen wars, and in most cases there was no need to bomb Chechen territory – the only conceivable reason was terror against the civilian population. As long as they have these missiles, it will all continue.”