Ukraine Situation Report: Heavy Fighting As Battle For Vuhledar Rages

Ukrainian forces inflicted heavy losses on Russian attackers in the latest clash for the frontline town in southern Donetsk Oblast.

byStetson Payne|
Ukraine fighting artillery


Fighting around the southeastern Ukrainian town of Vuhledar has intensified in recent days as Russian forces continue their offensive in the Donbas.

Located to the southwest of Donetsk proper, the town has started bearing the brunt of Russian firepower.

Location of Vuhledar, Ukraine. (Google Maps)

Footage from the area shows Ukrainian fire destroying multiple Russian armored vehicles in recent days’ attacks on the town. 

Another clip shows Russian BMP-3s, reportedly carrying Russian Naval Infantry, assaulting Ukrainian positions with covering fire.

The town itself has taken considerable damage from shelling, as videos show fires burning, the street-level damage, and strikes by what are claimed to be Russian TOS-1 thermobaric rockets. 

The most recent Russian attacks reportedly resulted in ground seized but they couldn’t hold it in the face of continued Ukrainian fire. In its intelligence update on Friday, the British Ministry of Defense considered these and attacks to the west in Zaporizhzhia Oblast’s Orikiv were only probing attacks, with no substantive Russian gains as a result despite the noise from Russian supporters.

Before we head into the latest news from Ukraine, The War Zone readers can get caught up with our previous rolling coverage here

The Latest

Saturday’s intelligence update from the British Ministry of Defense reports the devastating New Year’s Day strike on a Russian barracks in Makiivka likely had more than 300 casualties, vastly more than the 89 claimed by Russia after the attack. 

Russia has apparently wasted no time briefing its soldiers on the Leopard 2 tanks coming to Ukrainian units later this year. A clip shows Russian soldiers looking at a manual on destroying the Leopard 2, showing the tank’s design and a 3D cutaway. The truth is, Russian forces and their Soviet predecessors have planned to fight the Leopard 2 since its first variants entered West German Bundeswehr service in 1979, so this video is possibly more information warfare than any substantive change. Then again, the level of training of Russia troops is suspect, so this could be a refresher or even new information to some.

We wrote about the breakthrough on modern tanks for Ukraine this week, which you can read about here

The Ukrainian pleas for F-16 Fighting Falcons and other Western fourth-generation fighters reportedly have increasing backers in the Pentagon. Politico reported Saturday that three people with knowledge of the discussions are pushing the DoD to approve the fighters’ transfer. 

Ukrainian M142 HIMARS launchers remain heavily involved in the fight, with a clip showing a roadside rocket launch. The vehicle doesn’t stick around to wait for counter-battery fire, with its launcher already coming down before the smoke and dust have cleared.

The Ukrainian 47th Assault Brigade received M1224 MaxxPro mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles, some still sporting their sandy desert paint jobs.

A video from along a Polish highway showed M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzers on transporter trailers. Paladins were included in the most recent U.S. aid package for Ukraine, and the video appears to show them eastbound on the A2 Highway toward Poznan and Warsaw. 

Helmet camera footage from Ukrainian soldiers shows intense fighting ongoing in the trenches around the besieged town of Bakhmut. Soldiers are seen chucking hand grenades at enemy positions just out of sight and firing both machine guns and RPGs at Russian forces. 

Finally, video shows a Russian UR-77 Meteorit mine-clearing vehicle firing its line charge at a target somewhere on the frontline. While designed to clear mines along a route, Russia has made extensive use of this system as a fire support system against dug-in positions. 

That’s all for now. We will update this story if there is anything major to add.

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