Ukraine started the new year with a big attack killed several Russian soldiers in their barracks, and with a defensive victory – their air force said they had shot down all of the Iranian drones Russia had launched against the military. infrastructure of Ukraine since the beginning of the year.
Ukraine fired six rockets at a barracks in Makiivka, Donetsk region, using the US-supplied HIMARS system just minutes before New Year’s Day.
The Russian Defense Ministry admitted that four of the missiles passed air defenses and hit the target.
Russia acknowledged 63 deaths two days after the attack, then raised that number to 89.
But video of the wreckage showed the makeshift barracks, a former vocational school, almost completely razed, suggesting casualties could be much higher and it could take time to get the bodies out. .
Ukraine said troops were being deployed along a large ammunition dump where the explosion was located and claimed an estimated 400 Russian soldiers were killed and 300 wounded.
The attack caused a wave of outrage among military reporters and Russian lawmakers, who called for Denis Pushilin, leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, to step down, albeit technically Technically, he is not part of the Russian military hierarchy.
Donetsk law enforcement tried to deflect blame by arguing that it was the soldiers who were to blame use their mobile phoneallowing Ukraine’s electronic surveillance system to track them.
“Preliminaryly, the reason why HIMARS was attacked is because people are actively using mobile phones. [newly] Soldiers have arrived. The enemy, using the ECHELON reconnaissance complex, has revealed the mobile communications activity and the location of the subscribers,” a source told Russia’s Tass news agency.
Russian Defense Ministry adopted child that explanation.
Ukraine says it has also achieved some success on the ground.
Brigadier General Oleksiy Gromov said Ukrainian ground forces had advanced 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) towards the occupied town of Kreminna in the Luhansk region in the last week of 2022 and were continuing to make progress. .
Military analysts have suggested that if Ukraine retakes Kreminna and Svatove, both just a few kilometers from the line of communication in Luhansk, they could roll over a 40-kilometer (25-mile) stretch of territory before reaching them. Russia’s next natural defensive position in a war. counterattack similar to the one that recaptured much of the Kharkiv region last September.
“In the event of a breakthrough … the defenses of the Russian occupation forces on the Svatove-Kreminna line and, accordingly, the transfer of hostilities near the city of Luhansk, a significant part of the servicemen of the units of the Division 2 Corps, especially among those mobilized for temporarily occupied territories, plans to surrender,” said Gromov.
Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said Ukraine could capture Kreminna as early as 2023.
Ukraine’s chief of military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, told the BBC that the two sides were at an impasse right now and that hardware would make the difference.
“The situation is just an impasse,” said Budanov. “We cannot defeat them in all directions comprehensively. Nor can they… We are looking forward to the new supply of weapons and the arrival of more advanced weapons.”
Russia continues its air campaign
Russia was not idle on the last day of 2022, attacking Ukraine with drones and missile fire, albeit at a slightly reduced intensity.
Ukraine said it shot down all 13 Russian-launched drones and 12 of the 20 cruise missiles. Eight people were injured when one of the rockets hit a residential building. More drones followed during the night, and Ukraine announced on January 1 that it had shot down all 45 Shahed-136 drones that Russia had sent on New Year’s Eve.
Ukraine said it shot down 39 more drones launched on New Year’s Day.
As of January 2, Ukraine said it maintains a 100% kill rate on 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 in Ukraine has reached more than 80,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address on Monday. 2/1.
“We have information that Russia is planning a long-term strike with Shahed drones,” he said. “Her bet could be due to burnout. The day of exhaustion of human strength, human strength, human strength. But we must and will ensure that this terrorist target fails like all others.”
Ukraine’s air defenses have been augmented in recent weeks by at least two NASAMS air defense systems and one IRIS-T air defense system. But even without those, Ukraine’s air force has already begun to develop groundbreaking countermeasures that are effective against drones and cruise missiles, the latter of which are famous. is difficult to prevent.
On December 29, for example, Ukrainian officials reported that their forces had shot down 54 of 69 cruise missiles that Russian forces had launched and 11 of 23 drones.
Ukraine also prioritizes reminding Russia that it itself is not immune to long-range air strikes.
On December 29, Ukraine attacked the Engels airbase on Russian territory with a drone, three days after killing three people there with a similar attack. Engels owns several fleets of Russian long-range strategic bombers. Ukraine killed three more soldiers at the Engels and Dyagilevo bases on 5 December.
The British Ministry of Defense (MoD) says Moscow is “struggling to counter air threats deep within Russia”, with air defense systems like the Pantsir needed to protect forward command posts in the country. or near Ukraine.
Who has more lasting power 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 in Makiivka, since July thanks to the delivery of HIMARS missile systems.
Ukraine’s military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov said Russian forces are conserving shells, firing 19,000-20,000 rounds a day, a rate down from their previous record.
The UK MoD agrees that “ammunition shortages are likely to remain the main limiting factor” for Russia, which “is not capable of increasing its ammunition stockpiles sufficiently to carry out conventional offensive operations”. large scale”, since “even simply maintaining defensive operations along the long front lines entails considerable daily expenditure on shells and missiles”.
Russia has been buying artillery shells from Belarus and North Korea to supplement large ammunition depots lost near the front.
But one Ukrainian official warned against complacency.
“The resources of the Russian Federation as a country should not be underestimated. Perhaps they are not capable of waging war with the same intensity as before, but unfortunately they still have enough reserves and there is no way they can relax,” Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said. in a phone call.
Maintaining human resources is a challenge for both sides. Ukraine has been conscripted since the early days of the war, but Russia delayed mobilization, an unpopular measure, until September and October, when it enlisted 300,000 men for the war. .
The Russian Defense Ministry said its usual fall enlistment had recruited 120,000 people in November. The announcement stressed that conscripts did not go to Ukraine and would receive five months of training in “weapons and weapons.” modern military equipment”.
“Citizens called up for military service who did not take part in the special military operation in Ukraine, and enlisted servicemen who have performed the established terms of military service will be promptly dismissed and sent to the military. about their place of residence,” the ministry said.
Delays in troop mobilization and assurances that regular enlistees will not be sent to Ukraine could be signs of growing instability with the war in Russia.
Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov cast doubt on Russia’s reassurances, saying Russia is in such need of manpower that it is about to declare martial law, close its borders to men of military age, and close its borders to men of military age. conduct a new mobilization in about a week. five.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview that Moscow would not accept the peace plan Zelenskyy proposed in early November, the first time Russia officially rejected specific terms.
The Kremlin rejected the conditions for the withdrawal of Russian troops to the 1991 boundary, that Russia pay compensation to Ukraine and that it participate in an international criminal court in The Hague.