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Russian troops advancing. What is happening near Kupiansk and is there threat to Kharkiv

Russian troops advancing. What is happening near Kupiansk and is there threat to Kharkiv Photo: Ukrainian military manages to hold back the Russian offensive in the Kupiansk direction (Getty Images)

Russian troops stepped up in the Kupiansk direction. The enemy is trying to advance from at least two sides, imposing battles in the area of ​​Synkivka, Krokhmalne and Tabaivka.

Read more about the situation near Kupiansk, as well as about possible threats of a further attack on Kharkiv and the region, in the material of RBC-Ukraine.

When preparing the material, the following were used: the summary of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, analysts of the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW), the Ukrainian DeepState project, statements of military speakers and representatives of the authorities, comments of expert Oleksandr Musiienko.

Russia's offensive on Kupiansk: what is known and why now

Oleh Syniehubov, the head of the Kharkiv Regional Military Administration, announced the renewal of intensive offensive actions by the Russians near Kupiansk. We are talking about two points - Synkivka (about 7 km northeast of Kupiansk) and Tabaivka (about 20 km southeast of the district center).

"We have two quite serious directions: Synkivka and Tabaivka. This (Tabaivka, - ed.) is another direction, a little south of the city of Kupiansk, which is also quite difficult, but fully controlled by our Armed Forces," Syniehubov said.

Russian troops advancing. What is happening near Kupiansk and is there threat to Kharkiv

Photo: Russian forces are trying to attack Kupiansk from two directions (

Volodymyr Fityo, spokesperson for Ukrainian Ground Forces Command confirmed enemy activity in the east. According to him, only on January 27, 16 attacks were repelled on the Limano-Kupian axis, during which the enemy used about 40 kamikaze drones and delivered more than 650 artillery and mortar strikes. Ukrainian defenders destroyed more than 260 occupiers and 62 units of military equipment. This suggests that the Russians are trying to advance, looking for weak points in our defense. And that the direction of Kupiansk remains a priority for the enemy.

"They are trying to continue their offensive actions in the vicinity of Synkivka and Tabaivka. The large loss of equipment shows that the offensive is being actively conducted thanks to the support of enemy equipment," Fityo said and added that the enemy has no strategic successes in the east.

Oleksandr Musiienko, the head of the Center of Military-Law Researches NGO, draws attention to the fact that the offensive near Kupiansk intensified after the transfer of enemy reserves. In particular, one of the restored tank armies operates there.

"What is the peculiarity of the change in the situation? Earlier the commander of the Ground Forces of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the Khortytsia group Oleksandr Syrskyi said that there were mostly assault units without equipment, now the equipment has appeared and the weather conditions allowed the Russians to use it. And besides, it is clear, that the enemy is trying to develop success not only from Synkivka, but from Krokhmalne and Tabaivka," he said in a comment to RBC-Ukraine.

In his opinion, this scenario was predicted, our forces were preparing for it, and proper defense allowed us to keep the situation under control, repel attacks and prevent the enemy from developing operational and strategic success.

Synkivka, Krokhmalne and Tabaivka. The situation at the frontline

For several months now, the Russians have not stopped storming the village of Synkivka, a few kilometers northeast of Kupiansk. Its capture will allow the enemy to reach the outskirts of the strategically important city for both sides and, obviously, the next intensification of enemy actions is aimed at this.

So far without significant achievements. The American Institute for the Study of War (ISW) notes that the Russians are conducting offensive actions, and positional battles continue in the area of ​​Synkivka and Petropavlivka. The Ukrainian DeepState project records partial success in the forest west of Synkivka, but Ukrainian forces are taking measures to stabilize and restore positions.

Russian troops advancing. What is happening near Kupiansk and is there threat to Kharkiv

Photo: the enemy has been trying to push the Defense Forces near Synkivka for several months, but without success (

According to Musiienko, right now the Russians are trying to solve three tasks.

"Firstly, they are looking for an opportunity to connect with the group that is attacking in the Lymansk direction. Second, to develop success and advance to the Oskil River and the Oskolsky Reservoir. The third is to cut off our troop group, which is conducting a defensive operation in the Kupiansk direction," - explained the expert.

Disturbing news is coming from the south-eastern flank. Last week it became known about the capture of Krokhmalne village. This is a small village with a pre-war population of 45 people, control over which was restored in the fall of 2022 as part of the Kharkiv offensive operation. Currently, it has become the first settlement captured by the Russians in 2024.

The withdrawal from Krokhmalny was confirmed by the command of the Ground Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. According to Fityo, this was done to save the lives of the defenders, who retreated to pre-prepared positions a little west of the village. At the same time, he stated that such a situation does not threaten the encirclement of Ukrainian forces in the nearby towns of Kotlyarivka and Kislivka.

Over the weekend, Russian military officials reported the capture of the village of Tabaivka, a little northwest of Krokhmalne. In particular, by the forces of the 47th Tank Division (1st Guards Tank Army of the Western Military District). It was also reported about the alleged capture of the dominant heights in the area, and "Z-warriors" distributed a map showing Tabaivka under the control of the Russian Federation. Today, the Ministry of Defense of the aggressor country announced the seizure.

DeepState analysts say that the Defense Forces prevented the enemy from gaining a foothold in the village, restrained him from advancing, and thanks to stabilization measures managed to push the Russians back to the edge of Tabaivka. However, until the further development of events, the village was transferred to the "grey zone" on the map.

Russian troops advancing. What is happening near Kupiansk and is there threat to Kharkiv

Photo: the village of Tabaivka moved into the "gray zone", but was not captured by the Russians (

"The fact that the enemy brags about Tabaivka in their publications is not true. There are hostilities going on there, accordingly, the enemy has not captured any Tabaivka. That is why such minimal advances in this territory are all that the invaders are capable of," - Fityo refuted the Russian accusations.

He also added that Ukrainian commanders make decisions with an emphasis on saving the lives of soldiers. And if there is an opportunity for the Defense Forces to occupy more advantageous lines, in order to then go on the offensive and improve the tactical position, then this will be done.

It should be noted that the geography of Tabaivka is a weak point in the context of maintaining control over the village. It is located in a lowland between two ridges, and it will be difficult to stay there without controlling the dominant heights.

"This settlement is even smaller than Krokhmalne. It is in a very inconvenient location - in a lowland and there is a swampy area, so standing directly in this place means immediately turning into a target in a shooting range. Positional battles continue there, and ours are trying to push out the Russians. It is too early to believe the Russian sources, we must understand that they are trying to convey something as their triumphant victory," the spokesman of the Ground Forces emphasized.

Oleksandr Musiienko explains the importance of this sector by the fact that the P-07 road from Kupiansk to the occupied city of Svatove (the Luhansk region) runs there. In his opinion, the Russians want to take it under control and wedge themselves into the Ukrainian defense.

"And then we will have to monitor the nature of the offensive actions. The global goal remains to move west closer to Oskil. Well, the primary goal is to establish control over the road with a further exit to the south or to Kupiansk-Vuzlovy," he noted.

Is there a threat of the Russian Federation attacking Kharkiv?

It should be noted that at the beginning of January, the British newspaper The Telegraph published an article, the main message of which was the preparation of a possible Russian attack on Kharkiv. The publication drew attention to the intensification of attacks on the regional center and nearby settlements. Citing sources, The Telegraph wrote that the ground operation could allegedly begin on January 15.

The representative of the Main Directorate of Intelligence Andrii Chernyak in a comment to RBC-Ukraine confirmed the build-up of Russian forces only in the Kupiansk direction. At the same time, he emphasized the absence of signs of preparations for an imminent attack on Kharkiv.

The spokesman of the Ground Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Volodymyr Fityo, noted that the appearance of the shock fist is preceded by a lot of work, which cannot go unnoticed. As of mid-January, "Kharkiv could exhale." The same applied to Russian allegations of alleged future attempts to create a 15 km "buffer zone" in response to strikes on Belgorod. Moreover, regarding the threats to Kharkiv, the military is primarily considering the option of an attack from the north, and not from the side of Kupiansk.

"The number of Russian troops stationed on the northern border is being monitored. Now the war is going on in the so-called online mode. It is almost impossible to create hidden movements of forces and resources for both sides... Therefore, there is no threat from the north for Kharkiv residents," he said the other day.

Nevertheless, while the hostilities are going on, one cannot underestimate the enemy. In particular, the head of the Kharkiv OVA Oleg Sinegubov did not rule out that the Russians could launch a wider attack on the Kharkiv region. He also noted that local authorities and the military must be ready for any scenario.

Expert Oleksandr Musiienko emphasizes that the defense forces are doing everything to strengthen the borders, and the situation is under the constant control of General Syrskyi, who is often near Kupiansk.

"As far as I know, there are certain reinforcements and forces that make it possible to stop the enemy and at least slow him down by repelling attacks and exhausting him, perhaps even creating the prerequisites for the transition to local counterattacks from our side," he said in a conversation with RBC-Ukraine.

According to him, this has happened before and now everything is being done for it. As for active hostilities, they may continue for another month.

"I think we're in for more such battles. And further, taking into account the losses suffered by the enemy, the offensive activity of the Russian troops may decline," he said.

In any case, it is still too early to talk about the Russians' exit to the opposite bank of Oskil and the subsequent offensive on Kharkiv.

"Judging from the enemy's positions, from the way they got bogged down in the Kupiansk direction, and from the fact that no build-up of enemy forces is recorded in the directions to Kharkiv (in the Slobozhansk area, - ed.), there is no question of a threat to Kharkiv in particular. That's for sure," the expert added.