Ground Forces Commander of the AFU Oleksandr Syrskyi said Russian troops continue to conduct offensive actions in the Kupiansk, Lyman and Bakhmut directions.

Syrskyi noted that Russians are trying to capture Synkivka near Kupiansk. According to the General Staff of the AFU, on 18 December, the Russian army attempted to storm Ukrainian positions five times in the areas of Synkivka and east of Petropavlivka in Kharkiv Oblast.

Kupiansk direction in Kharkiv Oblast / Map: ISW Interactive Map: Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

The Russian military is also systematically conducting attacks in the Lyman sector near Makiivka and Toretsk and is advancing in the Siverskyi sector.

According to Syrskyi, the Bakhmut direction is the most important for Russian troops – they have concentrated their main forces, including paratroopers and marines. Their goal is to continue the offensive towards Sloviansk and Kramatorsk.

“The situation is difficult. We have to fight in adversarial superiority conditions in weapons and personnel.
However, commanders and staffs are monitoring changes in the situation 24/7, analysing the actions of the enemy and their troops, making effective management decisions to strengthen defence and destroy the enemy,” he said.

Russians lost about 8,000 troops in these areas in the first half of December. Ukrainians also destroyed or damaged more than 500 pieces of Russian military equipment, including:

  • 67 tanks
  • More than 100 armoured combat vehicles
  • 77 cannons and mortars

According to ISW (Institute for the study of war), Kremlin likely aimed to occupy Avdiivka and Kupiansk before elections in March 2024.

Russian dictator probably tasked the Russian military with capturing Avdiivka, and possibly Kupiansk, before the March 2024 elections, and the exhibition of the military’s support for Putin’s candidacy is possibly meant as a hedging strategy should the Russian military be unable to meet these given deadlines.

Read also: Constant missile attacks and empty streets: how Kupiansk lives on the front line.

Kupiansk, a town with a pre-war population of about 30,000 people, was occupied from late February till September 2022. The city is a railway and road hub in eastern Ukraine between Kharkiv and Luhansk regions.