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Fighting in the Luhansk and Bakhmut directions, FSB vehicle bombed in Melitopol. What happened on the front line on December 23?

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The front line

The Russian army intensified its offensive efforts in the Luhansk direction. To the north, Russian units approached the villages of Berestove, Novoselivske and Stelmakhivka in the Svatove district. Offensives were observed in the south of the Luhansk region near the villages of Ploshchanka and Chervonopopivka. To the southeast, Russian forces tried to break the positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) at the bridgehead for the offensive on Lysychansk in Belohorivka.

In the Bakhmut direction, the Wagner Private Military Company (PMC) attacked Soledar from the southeast. There were fierce battles on the eastern outskirts of Bakhmut and south of the city near Opytne. The Wagner Group also mounted attacks on AFU positions from Kurdyumivka and Ozaryanivka, and tried to take control of a section of the front-line road that runs through large AFU logistics centers in Chasiv Yar and Toretsk in the Donetsk region.

The War Monitor project published satellite images of the Bakhmut recycling center, where heavy battles have now raged for months. The area has been completely destroyed with hundreds of artillery impacts – levelled buildings and trenches are visible.

In the Donetsk direction, the Russian military attempted to attack AFU positions near the settlement of New York with artillery. Attacks were also observed near the town of Aleksandropil in the Dnipropetrovsk region, and the Russian army attempted to cut off a section of the N-20 highway near Kamenka.

Assaults took place in the Avdiivka direction near the villages of Opytne, Vodyane and Nevelske. The Russian army attempted to attack Ukraine’s fortified positions near Krasnohorivka. Fierce battles took place in Krasnohorivka itself and on the outskirts of Marinka. The Ukrainian army continued to shell Donetsk.

Shelling

Local authorities in Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region assessed the damage inflicted by Russian shelling on December 23. Two educational institutions, 12 apartment buildings and three private homes were hit.

On the previous day, December 22, Russia launched two rocket attacks on the city, with missiles hitting a school and a company building. There were no casualties.

The Operative AFU (“Operativny VSU”) channel published a video from Bakhmut, where Azov medics provided assistance to an injured woman while under artillery fire:

The Telegram channel Third Guard analyzed the shelling of Russian and Crimean territory since February 24, and concluded that the Belgorod region has been shelled more than any other Russian region since the start of the war. The most shelled areas of the region are Belgorod itself and the Belgorod district – these areas have sustained more than 40% of the strikes, as well as the border town of Shebekino, the villages of Zhuravlevka, Nekhoteyevka, and Murom.

Arms supplies

The Bulgarian Defense Ministry announced the beginning of a logistical operation to supply military aid to Ukraine – the statement confirmed the shipment of both weapons and equipment. Bulgaria had previously only confirmed the transfer of small arms.

The Wall Street Journal wrote that Europe does not have enough capacity to produce enough ammunition for both its own needs and the needs of Ukraine, jeopardizing NATO states’ defense capabilities, as well as their support for Ukraine.

The publication noted that Ukraine uses up to 40,000 155mm caliber shells every month, while the total production of these shells in Europe totals close to 300,000 per year. According to the WSJ, even if the war ends right now, it would take Europe 15 years to replenish its stocks of ammunition.

For instance, if Russia decides to attack Germany, the latter won't have enough ammunition to last more than two weeks, the publication said. According to NATO requirements, bloc member states need to have a stockpile of ammunition for at least 30 days.

Other news:

A car was blown up in the center of occupied Melitopol on December 23. Two people were seriously injured. No official statements have yet been issued. According to Ukrainian Telegram channels, the victims were agents of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB).

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has put a Russian woman, Olga Bykovskaya, on an international wanted list. She had previously urged her husband Roman Bykovskiy, a Russian soldier, to rape Ukrainian women. The conversation that led to Bykovskaya being put on the wanted list was intercepted by the SBU in April. In it, Bykovskaya addresses her husband, who was deployed near Kherson as part of the Russian army: “Go ahead, rape Ukrainian women rape and don't tell me anything. You got me? Make sure to protect yourself.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's team is developing a plan for a peace agreement and plans to present it on the first anniversary of the Russian invasion, The Wall Street Journal reported citing European and Ukrainian diplomats. The publication's sources claim that Zelensky’s plan will consist of 10 points, with no further details being shared.

The Wagner PMC has sent about 40,000 convicts from Russian prisons to the war in Ukraine, according to a CNN report citing the US National Security Council (NSC). According to the NSC’s Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby, a total of about 50,000 Wagner mercenaries are deployed inside Ukraine, of which the overwhelming majority could be convicts. According to the NSC, the Wagner Group spends $100 million per month to fund its operations in Ukraine.

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