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AFU landing in Kherson, compromised air defenses in Belgorod, tank coalition for Ukraine. What happened on the front line on January 31?

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The front line

On the 342nd day of the war in Ukraine, Russian troops continued to advance north and southwest of Bakhmut. A map reflecting the situation on the front line (pictured above) was released by the War Mapper project. The UK’s Defense Ministry, citing intelligence reports, tweeted that the goal of the Russian offensive in the Vuhledar direction was to divert Ukrainian forces from Bakhmut. The Russian grouping managed to advance a few hundred meters, but it does not have the forces for an operational breakthrough in this direction, the ministry said.

In Kurdiumivka in the Donetsk region, Ukrainian artillery hit and destroyed a Russian command base, according to a report by WarMonitor. There was no information about the hit on Russian channels, but the day before, on January 30, propaganda channel WarGonzo claimed that the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) were shelling Kurdiumivka and Klyschiivka in the south of Bakhmut.

Former US Navy SEAL and military analyst Chuck Pfarrer reported that Russia attempted an offensive north of Kreminna in the Luhansk region on January 29 and 30. Ukraine managed to repel the attacks and the Russian grouping retreated with losses.

AFU landing in the Kherson region

Pro-Russian channels, including the Telegram channel Dva Mayora (“Two Majors”), which covers the so-called “special military operation,” reported that a three-boat Ukrainian force landed on the bank of the Dnipro river in the Kherson region in the morning of January 31.

According to pro-Kremlin Telegram channel WarGonzo, the AFU did not force the Dnipro, and reports of attempts by Ukrainian soldiers to entrench on the left side of the river have not been confirmed.

“According to information from the Russian Armed Forces units in the area, recently there was indeed another attempt to land on the Potemkin Islands, which ended, like all previous ones, with the destruction of enemy manpower.”

Former “DPR” Defense Minister Igor Girkin (Strelkov/Runov) also commented on the landing. He noted on Telegram that the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) occasionally go out in one or two boats at night and during fog “to the floodplains (low river banks and flooded islets overgrown with reeds – The Insider) opposite Kherson” or the northern part of Potemkin Island. According to Girkin, the landing occurred directly opposite Kherson instead of above it.

“There are floodplains and thickets of reeds there, which can hide small groups of 4-7 people. These are reconnaissance groups, acting more out of informational reasons, and preventing the transfer of our troops from Kherson to other directions. A week ago, there were active subversive actions in the area of Dnipryani, but [the Ukrainians] weren’t going to consolidate there, they carried out raids. We don’t have full control over these floodplains and the northern part of Potemkin Island. I won’t call it a bridgehead, as there’s almost no land on that stretch, and it’s impossible to move equipment. At the moment there is no enemy activity on the left bank.”

OSINT analyst Tim Earhart tweeted that fire was seen near Kherson on January 31, as well as two boats traveling at high speed towards Hola Prystan.

Shelling

On January 31, Russian armed forces fired barrel artillery at a residential area in Bakhmut, killing a 70-year-old man and a 12-year-old boy, and wounding five other civilians. The Bakhmut District Prosecutor's Office has launched a pre-trial investigation into the violation of laws and customs of war, and photos of the devastation caused by the shelling have been released by the Donetsk Regional Prosecutor's Office.

There were also reports of shelling in Russia's border regions. Belgorod regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said that in the evening of January 31, an air defense system went off over the Belgorod and Shebekino districts, with two shells being shot down. According to preliminary reports, there were no casualties. An hour after the first announcement, Gladkov again reported that there had been another massive shelling of both districts, claiming that the region’s air defense systems had gone off and there were no casualties.

Russian propaganda channel Zapiski Veterana (“A Veteran’s Notes”) claimed that the AFU could learn about the location of the Russian air defense systems in the region due to a video published in the car-themed Telegram channel Auto Belgorod. The propagandists quipped that the “rest of the city's residents will thank [the channel’s admins]” when the air defense systems are destroyed and the city is left defenseless.

The video can no longer be found on the Auto Belgorod channel, but other media outlets managed to repost it before it was taken down.

Arms shipments to Ukraine

The first batch of American M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) has been shipped to Ukraine. The US transport ship ARC Integrity is currently carrying a shipment of more than 60 combat vehicles to Europe and has already crossed the Atlantic Ocean, according to a report by the US Army Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM). The Telegram channel Voenny Osvedomitel’ (“Military Informant”) published a photo of the loading of the M2A2 Bradley ODS BMPs in South Carolina. The footage was taken on January 25.

  • A Bradley IFV is loaded onto a ship at the port in North Charleston, South Carolina, on January 25, 2023

Judging by the images, Ukraine may receive a much more advanced version of the M2A2 than previously anticipated – the ODS-SA (Situational Awareness).

The French Defense Ministry has also committed to supply 12 more CAESAR howitzers to Ukraine. As part of the assistance package, the country will send 150 of its soldiers to Poland to train 600 Ukrainian soldiers per month. France plans to train a total of two thousand Ukrainian fighters by summer, with the Ukrainian units then being deployed to the front line.

The AFU will receive a total of 120 to 140 modern Western tanks – Leopard 2, Challenger 2, M1 Abrams, and potentially the French-made Leclerc – from Western countries, reported Ukrainska Pravda citing the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

According to the minister, 12 countries have now pledged to support Ukraine with tanks, but it is too early to name all the countries that make up the “tank coalition,” as many of them must make decisions in accordance with their “internal procedures.”

Earlier in January, Ukraine's ambassador to France Vadym Omelchenko said that Western countries had officially confirmed the transfer of 321 tanks to Ukraine. On January 25 – Volodymyr Zelensky’s birthday – the US announced that it would supply Ukraine with 31 upgraded M1 Abrams tanks, with Germany agreeing to deliver 14 Leopard 2 tanks later on the same day.

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