Russian invasion forces have in recent weeks reinforced their defensive fortifications in the part of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Oblast they occupy, reads the UK Defence Intelligence update on Ukraine for Jan. 8.
According to the UK Ministry of Defense intelligence analysts, Russians has been paying particular attention to its fortifications in a line between the towns of Vasylivka and Orikhiv.
Russian-held Vasylivka lies on the left bank of the Dnipro River reservoir, south of the city of Zaporizhzhya, while Ukrainian-held Orikhiv is 40 kilometers to the east of Vasylivka.
"Russia is maintaining a large force in this sector,” UK intelligence said.
“The way Russia has worked on improving defences suggests commanders are highly likely preoccupied with the potential for major Ukrainian offensive action in two sectors: either in northern Luhansk Oblast, or in Zaporizhzhya.”
The experts added a major Ukrainian counter-offensive in Zaporizhzhya Oblast would threaten the existence of the Russian “land bridge” from Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Crimea to mainland Ukraine. However, more Ukrainian advances in Luhansk would further undermine Russia's goal of seizing Ukraine’s Donbas region.
UK intelligence said the Russians would have to choose which area to prioritize.
UK intelligence speculated on Jan. 7 that Russian commanders will likely consider a Ukrainian offensive near Kreminna as a threat to the Bakhmut section of the front.
The Russians see Bakhmut as a key objective for future occupation of the remainder of Donetsk Oblast, UK intelligence said.