Summary of the daily livestream with Aleksey Arestovych, Ukraine’s Presidential Head of Office advisor, Day 323, January 12, 2023. Kindly brought to you by Stepan: https://twitter.com/childsacrifice1
⚡️ RU command change and internal strife: Gerasimov was appointed the supreme commander of the “special military operation” in Ukraine. This is a sign of political infighting in Russia. There are 3 internal political factions around Putin: the oligarchs with “liberal” tendencies, the classic Siloviki, and the “crazy” far right: Kadyrov, Prygozhyn, etc. The appointment of Gerasimov is a snub to the far right. The tensions between Wagner and the RU Army are demonstrated in the two contradicting statements about Soledar. Lapin, who was severely criticized before, was also rapidly promoted. Gerasimov will accomplish nothing, just like his predecessor Surovikin. Wagner may now encounter sudden “supply difficulties” because logistics are now controlled by a man who Prygozhyn has insulted. The RU MOD faction ended up being stronger than expected. Russia is now subservient to its military.
⚡️ Aims of a RU offensive: with the upcoming offensive, Russia wants to demonstrate its capability to successfully attack after 4 months of constant failure. With the possible but not guaranteed capture of Soledar, Russia wants to create the illusion that after Kherson they can still mount offensives and that this war will drag on therefore it is in the best interest of the other side to negotiate. However, Ukraine will not negotiate while even a single Russian soldier is on its land.
⚡️ Soledar: The AFU are not yet planning to retreat out of Soledar. The public reaction on the Ukrainian side to the possible capture of Soledar is disappointing, as people are overestimating the importance of a 10,000 town compared to the liberation of the regional capital city of Kherson, and the brilliant success of the AFU in the Kharkhiv operation. The AFU are currently deciding whether or not to withdraw from Soledar. The fact that the decision is in the AFU’s hands indicates that they still possess the overall strategic initiative. If the Ukrainian forces end up withdrawing from the town, it will be a planned withdrawal, and not a rout, as the Russian media attempts to portray it. The overall situation is under control and the AFU is accomplishing its mission objectives.
⚡️ Overall front-line situation: The Russians conducted rocket strikes in the rear areas behind Bakhmut. Zelensky announced that western aid will be prioritized for the defense of Bakhmut. Unspecified actions also take place in Zaporizhzhia, Mari’inka, Avdiivka, and Tokmak. Artillery duels in Kherson, with at least 3 hits on Russian ammo storages in the last 2 days. 15 strikes were carried out by the Ukrainian Air Force in the last 24 hours. The Kherson and Melitopol directions are being reinforced by Russian troops. Combat is also occurring to the south of Kremina.
⚡️ Russian conscripts: The maximum age of conscription has been raised from 27 to 30. This adds 300,000 conscripts. Conscripts were briefly involved in the first days of the operation but were withdrawn. Now, Russia may want to send them to the front to augment the Russian mobilised military in Ukraine by enticing conscripts to sign contracts. The Russian command is thinking in terms of batches of 200,000 of which half are sent to plug gaps in the front while the other half is trained. The question which is raised now is whether there will be a third batch of 200k. The RU army is also being increased to counterbalance PMC Wagner and Kadyrov’s forces.
⚡️ Western equipment: Tanks are now officially on the table. Arestovich says “there will be many tanks but as usual less than we would like”. It will be interesting to see what will be discussed at the upcoming Rammstein meeting because this will indicate how the West perceives the next 6 months of the war. In any case, there will be a focus on supplying armored vehicles, which is what Ukraine needs, but the West is not yet giving enough.
⚡️ Western political figures: the ex-US Secretary of state and minister of defense have called on the US government to immediately provide Ukraine with more military assistance to keep the pressure on Putin. Their position is shared by all Ukrainian experts and political figures.
⚡️ Arestovych says that up until the end of the war Ukraine will continue to receive western military aid, and new forms of it, including fighter jets, but it will always be less than what the Ukrainians ask for.
⚡️ Arestovych expressed brief interest in having a debate with Igor Girkin to dismiss his reasoning. Girkin vehemently denied any potential debate with the “enemy”.
Next stream on Saturday, 14 January.
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