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New year, same pattern Ukraine is holding its own as Russia continues pushing along the entire front — but it desperately needs ammo

Source: Meduza

Like our earlier reports on the combat situation in Ukraine, this article takes stock of the recent developments on the battlefield based on open-source information. Meduza has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine from the very start, and our detailed military analyses are part of our commitment to objective reporting on a war we firmly oppose.

Our map is based exclusively on open-source photos and videos, most of them posted by eyewitnesses on social media. We collect available evidence and determine its geolocation markers, adding only the photos and videos that clear this process. Meduza doesn’t try to track the conflict in real time; the data reflected on the map are typically at least 48 hours old.

Key updates

What we knew as of 8 a.m. Moscow time (5 a.m. GMT, 12 a.m. EST) on January 10, 2024

This fall, the Russian army managed to seize the initiative from the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU), and now it’s trying to capitalize on its position. Its approach in its winter 2024 strategic offensive is the same one it took in 2023: carrying out many small strikes along the entire front, though not concentrating enough forces in any one area to achieve overwhelming superiority. So it’s unsurprising that none of its attacks have brought operational success: Russia’s troops have repeatedly gotten ensnared in Ukraine’s defenses. The AFU, meanwhile, are regularly faced with crises but have so far managed to hold back their opponents and even to stage counterattacks — despite being short on ammunition and personnel.

Russia has been able to stage its current offensive by using significantly more ammunition than Ukraine — five times as much, by some reports. Additionally, the Russian army has deployed reserve forces to the front, which it expends on strikes that carry no operational value. This kind of struggle of attrition, however, threatens to pose major problems for Kyiv if the West doesn’t quickly provide it with more ammunition and equipment.

Almost all of the Russian military’s strikes currently follow the same pattern:

  • First, armored vehicles launch the attack, with support from artillery, aviation, and drones.
  • After losing equipment but achieving the attack’s first objectives, Russian troops use infantry to try to gain a foothold on new frontiers. But Ukrainian artillery and drones impede their efforts to transport additional equipment to the front line.
  • If necessary, Ukraine sends reserves to the site of the attack.
  • Russian infantry digs in, trying to withstand Ukraine’s counterattack and to survive under Ukrainian artillery and drone strikes.
  • This entire cycle generally results in the Russian army advancing a few hundred meters, or at most, a few kilometers (1–2 miles).
  • Russia’s command accumulates new forces, tries to suppress Ukraine’s artillery in the area of the offensive, then repeats the attack, this time from its new positions.
  • Both sides incur heavy losses throughout this process.

Kupiansk direction

  • Russian troops have been trying since last winter to break through to the city of Kupiansk on the Oskil River, which intersects Ukraine’s supply route for its forces in the northeastern Kharkiv region. If Russia captures the crossings around Kupiansk, it could force Ukraine’s troops to evacuate extensive areas east of the Oskil.
  • For a year now, the offensive being carried out by forces from Russia’s Western Military District has consisted of alternating strikes from the east and the north of Kupiansk. Now that the attacks they launched from the west in the fall have run out of steam, the Russian Armed Forces have again begun firing from the north (their previous offensive from this direction was in the late summer).

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  • Russian troops launched another attack on the fortified settlement of Synkivka, which covers Kupiansk from the northeast. They managed to reach the village’s northern outskirts (but not without taking significant armored vehicle losses). Russia’s infantry tried to gain a foothold in Synkivka, but was unable to withstand Ukraine’s counterattack. Some of the Russian soldiers in the village’s northern outskirts were captured, while the rest fled north to their initial positions.
  • In recent weeks, Russian troops have once again become active around the village of Ivanivka to the east of Kupiansk. They will likely continue their offensive on the city in the near future.

Svatove direction

  • For a year now, the Russian Armed Forces have been trying to push the AFU (which captured a wide swath of territory at the intersection of the Luhansk, Donetsk, and Kharkiv regions during its fall 2022 offensive) towards the Oskil and Siverskyi Donets rivers. This would free up Russian forces for a future offensive in other areas (such as Kharkiv or Sloviansk and Kramatorsk) — a goal this offensive shares with Russia’s attacks on Kupiansk and other areas on the Oskil’s eastern bank.
  • In the southern part of this area is the Serebrianka forest area (a.k.a. the Kreminna forests), which has seen heavy fighting for the last year.
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  • North of the forest, Russian troops are trying to reach the Zherebets River near the village of Torske, which lies on the supply route for Ukraine’s troops in the Kreminna forests.
  • Even further north, Russian forces are trying to reach the villages of Terny and Nevske, also on the Zherebets River. Their goal here is to force the AFU to abandon the forest and retreat to the city of Lyman, which will likely be the target of Russia’s next offensive.
  • In the winter of 2023–2024, Russia’s command concentrated the newly formed 25th Combined Arms Army, the first formation to be created “from scratch” since the start of the full-scale war, in this area. The troops previously stationed there were redeployed to various other parts of the front, from Avdiivka to Orikhiv in the Zaporizhzhia region.
  • In December, the 25th Army carried out strikes on Ukrainian positions near the village of Terny and in the northern parts of the Kreminna forests. As usual, the Russian army’s initial success was followed by a battle of attrition in the wooded areas and ravines east of Terny and west of the village of Dibrova. Fighting there is ongoing, but a quick Russian breakthrough to the Zherebets River now appears unlikely.

Siversk direction

  • One year ago, the Russian Armed Forces put a stop to Ukraine’s counteroffensive on the outskirts of Lysychansk. Russia’s own offensive in winter 2023 occurred further south, when Wagner Group forces broke through the AFU’s defenses in Soledar and began trying to surround Bakhmut, eventually capturing the city in May. Throughout that time, the groves and villages between Lysychansk, Soledar, and Siversk saw low-intensity fighting with occasional spikes in violence when one side tried to break through the other’s defenses.
  • In December 2023, the Russian army launched a fairly large offensive. Russian troops reached the village of Vesele north of Soledar and also managed to break through — following a year of intense fighting — to the village of Spirne. Russia suffered heavy armored vehicle losses here as well. Now Russian infantry troops are trying to establish a foothold in Spirne.

Outskirts of Bakhmut

  • In the fall, the AFU had its largest success in months when it completely liberated the devastated villages of Klishchiivka and Andriivka to the south of Bakhmut. The operation’s main objective, however, was not achieved: Ukraine failed to cut off Russia’s supply lines to Bakhmut. The offensive eventually stalled and some of the units there were redeployed to other parts of the front.
  • The Russian army immediately organized a counteroffensive: it’s attacking Klishchiivka from Andriivka, but its largest push is being carried out by assault forces southwest of Bakhmut.
  • These forces managed to capture the village of Khromove on the outskirts of Bakhmut (something Wagner Group failed to do in the spring, resulting in Bakhmut not being fully surrounded). Additionally, Russian troops have partially occupied a higher-elevation area near Bakhmut, west of Khromove. Russian motorized rifle units are also trying to capture the nearby village of Bohdanivka. If they succeed, they be able to reach the Siverskyi Donets-Donbas Canal in Chasiv Yar, breaking off the supply lines of Ukraine’s troops in Klishchiivka and effectively undoing all of the progress made by the AFU in the Bakhmut area this summer.
  • Even if it succeeds in this part of the front, however, the Russian army’s prospects around Bakhmut are murky: the city of Chasiv Yar sits on a high hill that overlooks the entire area. Russia doesn’t have the forces in this area that it would take to cross the canal and storm the high-elevation city (unless Ukraine loses its capacity to resist due to an artillery shortage).


  • After the Russian military’s success in the fall (which came at the cost of significant equipment and personnel losses), the situation around Avdiivka stabilized. Russian forces managed to cross the Avdiivka-Pokrovsk railway as early as November, which put them about four kilometers (2.5 miles) from the main supply line of the AFU’s Avdiivka grouping. Now, however, they found themselves trapped between Ukraine’s fortified positions in the Avdiivka Coke Plant and Ukrainian reserve forces sent from other fronts, which are now defending the western part of the village of Stepove and its surroundings.
  • The Russian army is unable to concentrate its forces near Stepove, because the AFU’s artillery is targeting Russian convoys and infantry attempting to cross the railway. Instead, Russian infantry in the area, backed by artillery and drones, is focusing on fighting Ukrainian vehicles (including Leopard tanks and Bradley infantry fighting vehicles sent from the Zaporizhzhia region).
  • Russia’s command is attempting to break the deadlock by taking the approach it took in Bakhmut: if it can’t surround a city, it can carry out a systematic assault by taking advantage of Ukraine’s supply difficulties. The Russian Armed Forces are attacking the suburbs of Avdiivka along the railway and the outer fence of the Avdiivka Coke Plant from the north and in the industrial zone near the Donetsk bypass road from the south.
An eyewitness account

Between the enemy and a pit One Russian soldier talks about life on the front lines in Ukraine

An eyewitness account

Between the enemy and a pit One Russian soldier talks about life on the front lines in Ukraine

  • Despite having captured the industrial zone south of Bakhmut, the Russian army is unable to advance further due to remaining pockets of resistance from Ukrainian forces in the forested areas and dachas on its flanks. Russian troops are attempting to solve this problem by launching attacks to the east and west of the industrial zone.
  • In the north, Russia has captured the Avdiivka Coke Plant’s sewage facilities and ponds, while battles are ongoing in the dacha settlement east of the railroad.
  • Another method borrowed from Wagner Group is the Russian army’s expansion of the breakthrough area near Stepove, with the goal of spreading Ukraine’s reserves thin. In recent weeks, Russian troops have crossed the Avdiivka-Pokrovsk railway to the north of the plant and are attempting to break through to the villages of Berdychi, Novokalynove, and Ocheretyne.
  • How the situation develops will depend on whether Russia’s command wants to continue spending resources on the capture of Avdiivka. Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi has said that Russia does want this, and that Ukraine might lose control of the city in a few months. In any case, regardless of its losses, Russia’s troops remain closer to achieving a major operational victory in this area than anywhere else on the front.


  • In late 2023, Russian troops took advantage of the AFU’s ammunition and personnel shortage and completed their capture of an important Donetsk suburb: Marinka.
  • This essentially required them to occupy two blocks of building foundations; the walls and roofs had long since been destroyed by artillery and aerial strikes.
  • The Ukrainian units that had been defending these foundations for months withdrew to the north (to the town of Krasnohorivka), to the south (to the village of Pobieda), and to the west (to the village of Grigoryevka).
  • From an operational standpoint, all three of these directions are strategically promising for the Russian military to continue its offensive. At the same time, however, Russia clearly lacks the resources to pursue all three, as its grouping near Marinka did not receive significant reinforcements, unlike Avdiivka.
  • An attack on Krasnohorivka may help Russia advance towards Avdiivka, but it would also carry significant risks: the city consists of high-rise apartment buildings and an industrial zone and is well-fortified.
  • An attack in the direction of Grigoryevka could threaten the AFU’s entire defense system in the southern Donbas if the Russian army reaches the city of Kurakhove, an important logistic center. Given the army’s current state, however, this goal is likely too ambitious.
  • A southward attack could lead to a supply crisis for Ukraine’s troops in the fortified area near Vuhledar. However, all of Russia’s previous attempts to reach the area by breaking through the village of Pobieda have failed.
  • Immediately after the capture of Marinka, Russian forces launched attacks in the directions of Pobieda and Grigoryevka. Sustaining this offensive without reserves, however, will likely be difficult (once again, as long as the AFU receives the ammunition it needs).

Vuhledar direction

  • Even if Russian forces don’t succeed around Pobieda, they will still try to reach the rear of Ukraine’s Vuhledar grouping.
  • For the entirety of 2023, the Russian Armed Forces tried to capture Vuhledar and its outskirts by attacking from the south, but these efforts led only to heavy losses. Now the Russian command is trying to reach the city from the east by capturing the fortified village of Novomykhailivka and advancing westward from there, cutting off the supply lines of the Ukrainian troops defending Vuhledar.
  • The offensive on Novomykhailivka, which began in December, has already gone through most of the typical “cycle”: Russia’s armored convoys, taking heavy losses, made it to the eastern outskirts of the village and managed to enter it from the south. Then it became impossible for Russian forces to move their equipment due to Ukrainian artillery and drone strikes. The troops entrenched themselves in the village’s southern outskirts and are now trying to repel the AFU’s counterattacks.

Orikhiv direction, Rabotyne district

  • The only significant success the AFU had during its summer offensive on Tokmak and Melitopol (the direction of its main attack) came when it managed to liberate the destroyed village of Rabotyne in the center of Russia’s defensive formation. However, Ukrainian troops failed to take control of the village of Novoprokopivka, located further south, despite launching multiple heavy assaults.
  • In late fall, the AFU’s offensive grouping was partially dismantled when the 47th mechanized brigade, with Leopard tanks and Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, was redeployed to Avdiivka.
  • Russian troops immediately launched counterattacks on Rabotyne from the south and the west. Its offensive from the west is especially dangerous — if it succeeds, the Russian army could cut off Ukraine’s supplies both in the village itself and in its forward positions near Novoprokopivka. So far, however, it hasn’t succeeded: fighting for several wooded areas west of the highway through Rabotyne to Tokmak has been ongoing for weeks, and the AFU will try to hold onto the territory it took in its summer push in order to leave open the possibility of a further offensive in the future — when (and if) the circumstances become more favorable for Ukraine.

Orikhiv direction, Verbove district

  • To the east of the Rabotyne bulge, where the AFU crossed the fortifications of the “Surovikin line,” their offensive stopped on the outskirts of the village of Verbove.
  • Now Russian assault forces are carrying out an attack in the area, trying to force AFU formations out from the eastern part of the bulge with simultaneous strikes from the north and the south of Verbove. In December, they managed to advance several kilometers in the south.
  • If they succeed, they can count on the AFU being forced to abandon the bulge near Rabotyne and retreat to Orikhiv. For now, however, Ukraine’s troops continue to hold the defense, not even retreating from the outskirts of Verbove.

AFU bridgehead on the Dnipro River

  • Since the fall, the AFU has controlled a significant part of the eastern bank of the Dnipro between the Antonivka Road Bridge near Kherson and Nova Kakhovka. The entire shoreline here consists of swamps that rest on the Konka, a relatively wide tributary of the Dnipro.
  • The only AFU bridgehead on the Konka River’s western bank was created in October near the village of Krynky. It was built by marines from three brigades that were redeployed to the area from the border between the Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions. The marines failed to advance deep into the territory controlled by Russian forces, unable to deploy all of their forces on the narrow strip of the Konka’s bank near Krynky; the brigades sent a few dozen people each to the bridgehead. They’re being supported by artillery and drones from the Dnipro’s western bank. They’ve also been unable to transport heavy equipment to the bridgehead.
  • In the winter, Ukrainian marines and special forces took up the defense in the small part of the ruins of Krynky. They’re facing fire from Russian artillery and bombing from Russian aviation. Russian drones are attacking the boats supplying the bridgehead and evacuating injured soldiers. On land, however, the Russian forces attacking Krynky are also suffering heavy losses from Ukrainian drone attacks and artillery fire from the river’s western bank.
  • In recent weeks, the Russian military has managed to reduce the size of the bridgehead, occupying its southwestern section, but it’s been unable to fully eliminate it. The Ukrainian command’s goal, however, appears even less attainable: it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to carry out an offensive from the bridgehead in the foreseeable future, and assault forces in other parts of the Dnipro’s eastern bank could suffer the fate of the bridgehead in Krynky. Without suppressing Russia’s artillery and securing themselves against the danger of airstrikes, the AFU can’t count on its assault operations succeeding.
The red dots show recent events, and the gray dots show earlier events. Black indicates the approximate contact line as of the last update; the red and blue areas mark places occupied (since early September) by Russian and Ukrainian forces. Clicking on them will provide additional information. Air strikes are marked with a special icon, ground operations with dots. Click on the point on the map to pull up source links.
Meduza is careful in working with data, but mistakes are still possible, and perhaps even inevitable. If you spot one, please let us know by sending an email to [email protected]. Thank you!
Our previous combat map

A Russian winter offensive Meduza’s updated Ukraine combat map shows developments in Avdiivka, Kupyansk, Bakhmut, Orikhiv, and the Dnipro

Our previous combat map

A Russian winter offensive Meduza’s updated Ukraine combat map shows developments in Avdiivka, Kupyansk, Bakhmut, Orikhiv, and the Dnipro

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