Russia is ramping up efforts to capture Kupiansk in Kharkiv Oblast, moving reserves of assault battalions to the area to compensate for heavy losses, Volodymyr Fito, the head of the Army's public relations service, said on air on Dec. 16.
Ground Forces Commander Oleksandr Syrskyi reported on Dec. 11 that Russian forces are trying to capture the village of Synkivka in Kharkiv Oblast, hoping to pave the way for the blockade of nearby Kupiansk.
Liberated from Russian occupation in the September 2022 Ukrainian counteroffensive, Kupiansk has been a key target for renewed Russian offensives, as it serves as a key logistics hub for a potential push further south or west.
According to Fito, Russia is utilizing significant amounts of equipment and personnel for the offensive on Kupiansk, which was previously occupied by Russian forces from late February 2022 to Sept. 10, 2022.
The "equipment is more protected" than the Russian soldiers, who are used in heavy numbers for assaults and combat reconnaissance, Fico said.
Moscow has been concentrating a large force at the Kupiansk-Lyman axis in northeastern Ukraine since the summer, and heavy engagements and shelling have been a common occurrence.
Kharkiv Oblast Governor Oleh Syniehubov announced on Nov. 29 that all families with children living in and around Kupiansk had been evacuated to safer regions.
In total, 493 people, including 299 children, living in the three communities in the Kupiansk district were evacuated from their homes following a mandatory evacuation order.