The Russian army offensive in northern Luhansk region – Day 1

As if the recent (almost) defeat of the Ukrainian army in the battle for Donetsk airport wasn’t enough, the Russian invasion command in Moscow once again decided to pile the pressure on its western neighbor by starting its long-awaited offensive along the Bakhmutka highway in Luhansk oblast in the early hours of January 20.

In the end, this move didn’t came as a surprise. Around noon of January 19, the Ukrainian government decided for the first time since August 2014 to call a duck a duck as it observed almost 1000 Russian army troops – two tactical task forces in battalion size – crossing the Russian-Ukrainian border in eastern Luhansk region. The invasion force, seen entering Ukraine by its intelligence services, was too big to be described as “foreign-backed terrorists”, a term usually used by the peace and calm-seeking Ukrainian government to not further provoke Russia into more aggressive steps. Shortly after, the track of the two battalions was lost, but it became obvious that they were not approaching Donetsk city where fighting is fierce, but due to the steady flow in manpower and weapons, slow but steady Russian advances could be seen since the start of the latest offensive on January 1st. Also possible reinforcements for the Donetsk forces would probably have entered Ukraine from border points closer to the main invasion base, still active 50 km south of the border. Entering via Izvaryne would have been a detour.

So it came as it was bound to happen. In the early morning hours of January 20, dozens of artillery pieces opened fire on “Checkpoint 31”, located on the junction of the so-called “Bakhmutka highway” – a road leading from Luhansk city to the larger northern towns of the region – and the small road T1317, connecting Russian-held Frunze, just 3 km south, with the strategical village of Krymske on the bank of the river Seversky-Donets, the natural borderline between Russian- and Ukrainian-held Luhansk region. The artillery fire lasted for 6 hours, beating down the Ukrainian troops manning the (frontline) checkpoint. But it was just the beginning. Shortly after artillery became silent, eight Russian army tanks came down the road from Luhansk and pounded the checkpoint, forcing the Ukrainian defenders to retreat along the T1317 north towards Krymske and T1303 towards the west. Reports say, Russian forces also attacked from Frunze, but this is not confirmed. Only known “footage” (sounds) of the entire attack comes from a “(New-)Russian” media channel, showing the “emergency evacuation” of civilians from nearby Frunze during the assault.

Around the same time the direct attack on Checkpoint 31 started, Russian army forces with armored vehicles and ground forces also attacked the village of Zholobok, 7 km to the west, from nearby Donets’kyi. The aim of this attack seemingly was to cut the withdrawal path of retreating troops from CP31 and to attack CP29, which lies just north east of Zholobok, halting it from sending reinforcements to the east. According to the Ukrainian army, several attacking forces at this battle were destroyed and the army lost the village but managed to regroup at nearby CP29 and is still holding the position. The overall attack on both sectors of the front was – according to Ukrainian observers on the ground – not only the the obvious expansion of the Russian-held territory along the strategic highway, but also the encirclement of Krymske in the north, baring Russian forces from further advances along the Severskyi-Donets so far.

The below situation map summarizes the battles that took place today to the best of my knowledge and information. Blue marks previously Ukrainian-held territory, read, Russian held, arrows attack directions and orange the newly occupied area according to my (informed) estimate.


In the evening of January 20, two things are clear:

Checkpoint 31 and most probably also Zholobk are still held by regular Russian army forces while the Ukrainian defense ministry says, it is fighting back at the moment, trying to regain control of the lost territory and especially CP31. These attempts were not successful until midnight and the NSDC spox already announced that IF the army would continue the fight or pull back would be up to its command, putting further doubt into its abilities to withstand the superior Russian army units. Astonishingly, also until January 21 local time, the Ukrainian army did not decide to use its air forces against the self-proclaimed Russian army offensive, 70 kilometers from the common border…

At the same time, partly confirmed reports of further three Russian army task force groups (each 300-500 men and equipment) waiting to enter Izvaryne or already inside Ukraine and on the way to Luhansk emerged in the evening of January 20. Their sighting plus the confirmed first overwhelming victories (described above) are unambiguous signs, Russia’s thirst for more Ukrainian soil under the pretext of saving “its ethnic population” is by far not satisfied yet and the worst in terms of military aggression is yet to come.


Important sources of battle details

10 thoughts on “The Russian army offensive in northern Luhansk region – Day 1

  1. It is not bad. I enjoyed the map. Strangely, Ukrainian media and commentators are not interested in map. I always have to look up the map myself.

    Your conclusion about “making a land for ethnic Russians in Ukraine” is totally wrong. What you state is the propagandist diversion. The population has no value here. The population is being erased. Mostly as a collateral damage. The essence of this war is as follows: a suicidal sect, a secret service sect in war against impotent and marauding bureaucracies. Ukrainian and Western.
    Drop your “ethnic” shade. Note that all 3 of the bantustan-chiefs – Zahrchenko, Plotnitsky, Mozgovoy – are ethnic Ukrainians, at least two grow up in Ukrainian speaking environment.

  2. Also, your comment about Ukraine not using aviation. Firstly, it is because president Poroshenko is an impotent, psychologically unstable man. He is afraid of Putin, who calls and intimidates Poroshenko twice a week. Secondly, the Russians have total domination with their anti aircraft defense. A dozen of ukrainian planes have been destroyed. The war in the air has been won by the Russian. The Ukrainian saboteur generals did not attempt anything to destroy anti aircraft defense of the Russians.

  3. Is there any video / more reliable source than twitter backing the assertion 1000 russian regular troops entered ukraine these last days ? Thanks and keep doing such a good job

  4. The russians will continue to bite territory from ukraine, specially since they know that ukrainian forces are not ready to mount effective counter attacks, and most worryingly it seems that only one side in this war is expected to uphold the commitments of the mink treaty – that is the Ukraine… The russians do not need to mount large offensives anymore that would attract worldwide media attention forcing western politicians to act, they can slowly but steadily build their novorussian dream with the silent compliance of the rest of the world, sad.

  5. Absolutely baffled at the half-hearted attempts at defending the Ukrainian Republic.
    Is it a chronic shortage of finances, or personnel?
    Or is there a long term desire to let the Russians have Donetsk and Luhansk and just disguise the feeble resistance?

    • It is a sabotage by the president and the parasitic bureaucracy around. They all are compromised as corrupt criminals and Russian spies.
      Note that Ukrainian president Poroshenko said yesterday in Davos that “Russia needs to enter the European Union”. It was said at a time when Russians mounted an offensive and Ukrainian soldiers were fighting under heavy fire. Poroshenko said that absurdity because Putin told him so. Putin calls Poroshenko twice a week to intimidate him.
      Poroshenko is a corrupt, psychologically and mentally unstable man. He needs to be removed.

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