Ukraine starts the new year with a major attack on Russian troops | Russo-Ukrainian War

Ukraine started the new year with a major attack that killed many Russian soldiers in their barracks, and with a defensive victory – its air force said it succeeded in shooting down all Iranian drones launched by Russia against Ukrainian infrastructure since the beginning of the year.

Ukraine launched six artillery rockets at a barracks in Makiivka, Donetsk region, using its US-supplied HIMARS system minutes into the New Year.

Four of the rockets broke through air defenses, the Russian Defense Ministry admitted, hitting their target.

Russia acknowledged 63 dead two days after the strike, subsequently raising the number to 89.

But video of the wreckage showed the temporary barracks, a former vocational school, had been almost completely flattened, suggesting casualties could be much higher and the extraction of bodies could take time.

Ukraine said the soldiers were housed next to a large ammunition dump, which exploded and left around 400 Russian soldiers killed and 300 injured.

The strike caused an outcry among Russian military journalists and lawmakers, who called for the resignation of Denis Pushilin, the leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, despite not technically being part of the Russian military hierarchy.

Donetsk law enforcement tried to deflect blame by suggesting that the soldiers themselves were responsible for the use of their cellphones, allowing Ukrainian electronic surveillance to track them.

“Initially, the reason for the impact of HIMARS was the active use of cell phones by [newly] soldiers arrived. The enemy, using the ECHELON reconnaissance complex, revealed the activity of cellular communications and the location of subscribers,” a source told Russian news agency Tass.

The Russian Ministry of Defense has adopted this explanation.

Ukraine said they also had some success on the pitch.

Brigadier General Oleksiy Gromov said Ukrainian ground forces had advanced 2.5 km (1.5 miles) towards the occupied city of Kreminna in the Lugansk region in the last week of 2022 and were continuing to advance.

Military analysts have estimated that if Ukraine were to retake Kreminna and Svatove, both just a few miles from the line of contact at Luhansk, it could roll over a 40 km (25 mile) section of territory before reaching the next natural Russian defensive position in a counter-offensive similar to that which recaptured much of the Kharkiv region last September.

“In the event of a breakthrough … of the defensive lines of the Russian occupation forces on the Svatove-Kreminna line and, as a result, the transfer of hostilities closer to the city of Luhansk, a significant part of the servicemen of the units of the 2nd Corps of The army, especially among those mobilized for the temporarily occupied territories, is planning to surrender,” Gromov said.

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said Ukraine could capture the Kreminna as early as early 2023.

Ukraine’s military intelligence chief, Kyrylo Budanov, told the BBC the two sides were at an effective stalemate at the moment and the material would make the difference.

“The situation is just stuck,” Budanov said. “We cannot defeat them in all directions comprehensively. Neither can they… We look forward to new weapon supplies and the arrival of more advanced weaponry.

Russia continues its air campaign

Russia was not idle on the last day of 2022, pounding Ukraine with drone and missile fire, albeit at a slightly reduced intensity.

Ukraine said it shot down all 13 Russian-launched drones and 12 of 20 cruise missiles. Eight people were injured when one of the missiles hit a residential building. More drones were to follow overnight, and Ukraine said on Jan. 1 it had shot down all 45 Shahed-136 drones Russia sent on New Year’s Eve.

Ukraine reported shooting down another 39 drones launched on New Year’s Day.

On Jan. 2, Ukraine declared it maintained a 100% kill rate against enemy drones, a rate “never achieved before” according to air force spokesman Yuri Ignat.

“Only two days have passed since the beginning of the year and the number of Iranian drones shot down over Ukraine is already over 80,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his January 2 nightly video address. .

“We have information that Russia is planning a sustained attack by Shahed drones,” he said. “His bet could be on exhaustion. On exhaustion of our people, our air defense, our energy. But we must and we will ensure that this terrorist objective fails like all the others.

Ukraine’s air defenses have been bolstered in recent weeks by at least two NASAMS air defense systems and an IRIS-T. But even without that, the Ukrainian Air Force had begun to develop effective revolutionary countermeasures against drones and cruise missiles, the latter of which are notoriously difficult to stop.

On December 29, for example, Ukrainian officials reported that their forces shot down 54 of 69 cruise missiles launched by Russian forces and 11 of 23 drones.

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Ukraine has also made it a priority to remind Russia that it itself is not immune to long-range airstrikes.

On December 29, Ukraine attacked the Engels air base in Russian territory with a drone, three days after killing three people there in a similar attack. Engels is home to part of the Russian fleet of long-range strategic bombers. Ukraine had killed three other soldiers on the bases of Engels and Dyagilevo on December 5.

The UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) said Moscow was “struggling to counter air threats deep within Russia”, with air defense systems such as the Pantsir needed to protect forward field headquarters in Ukraine or near.

Who has the most stamina in weapons and troops?

There has been an ongoing discussion among military observers about Russia’s ability to generate firepower and manpower. Ukraine has devastated both with precision strikes, like the one on Makiivka, since July thanks to deliveries of HIMARS rocket systems.

Ukraine’s military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov said Russian forces were retaining artillery shells, firing between 19,000 and 20,000 a day, a rate down from their previous tally.

The British Ministry of Defense agreed that “shortage of ammunition probably remains the main limiting factor” for Russia, which “was unlikely to have increased its stockpile of artillery ammunition sufficiently to permit large-scale offensive operations. scale”, since “the mere fact of maintaining defensive operations along its long front line requires a large daily expenditure of shells and rockets”.

Russia bought artillery rounds from Belarus and North Korea to compensate for the large losses from ammunition dumps near the front.

But a Ukrainian official warned against complacency.

“The resourcefulness of the Russian Federation as a state in general should not be underestimated. Perhaps they are not able to conduct hostilities with the same intensity as before, but, unfortunately, they still have enough reserves and cannot relax in any way,” the Deputy Defense Minister said. Hanna Malyar during a telethon.

Maintaining the workforce has been a challenge for both parties. Ukraine has imposed conscription since the early days of the war, but Russia delayed mobilization, an unpopular measure, until September and October, when it conscripted 300,000 men for the war.

The Russian Defense Ministry said its regular fall conscription drafted 120,000 men by November. The announcement stressed that the conscripts were not destined for Ukraine and would receive five months of training in “modern weapons and military equipment”.

“Citizens called up for military service are not involved in the special military operation in Ukraine, and military conscripts who have served the established conditions of military service are discharged in a timely manner and returned to their place of residence,” the official said. ministry.

The delay in mobilizing troops and assurances that regular-cycle conscripts would not be sent to Ukraine could be signs of growing unease about the war in Russia.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov questioned Russia’s assurances, saying Russia was in such dire need of manpower that it was about to declare martial law, shut down its borders to men of military age and to re-mobilize about a week into the new year.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview that Moscow would not agree to a peace plan that Zelenskyy proposed in early November, when Russia’s first official rebuttal of its specific terms.

The Kremlin rejects conditions that Russian troops withdraw to the 1991 borders, that Russia pay reparations to Ukraine and that it participate in an international criminal tribunal in The Hague.

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