This Week in the Russia-Ukraine War (Week 43 – December 9)

U.S. Army M777 Lightweight 155mm Howitzer. Image – U.S. Army

A snapshot of recent news from sources around the world on the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.

The U.S. Army is planning to ramp up production of 155mm artillery ammunition  over the next three years to replace munitions sent to Ukraine.  Contracts are currently in place to triple production of 155mm shells, with a goal to exceed past stockpiles.

M777 155mm lightweight howitzers are being repaired in Poland following months of  near constant use in Ukraine.   A third of the 350 sent to Ukraine are reportedly out of service at any given time.

Satellite imagery from Maxar Technologies has revealed the existence of a new Russian military facility in Mariupol, Ukraine. The new building is in the north-center of the city and has a Russian Army slogan displayed on the roof.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the “special operation” in Ukraine could continue for a long time.  While no more troops were being called up, Russia’s ally Belarus began shifting troops and hardware under the auspices of counterterrorism threats.  Moscow may be applying pressure on Belarus to open up a second front.

Russia has sent another wave of missiles at Ukraine.  The new barrage occurred on December 5.  Missiles hit targets in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, and across the country.

Russia’s fleet of Iranian unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) do not like the dropping temperatures in Ukraine.  The cold weather is reportedly forcing Russia to curtail the use of Iranian-built Shahed-136 attack drones.

Despite international sanctions, Russia continues to manufacture cruise missiles for use in Ukraine.  Media reports claim Russia is using missiles built in the months after its invasion of Ukraine.  Moscow might have had significant stockpiles of the components before the war began.

Russia continues its missile campaign against Ukrainian cities and infrastructure.  According to the Ukrainian military, Russian missiles have hit the Kherson region 51 times in the past day.

Iran is dragging its feet on supplying ballistic missiles to Russia, as well as additional shipments of attack drones.  Ukraine is applying diplomatic pressure on Iran.

Poland is prepared to accept Patriot surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) from Germany.  The Polish government had said that Germany should send the Patriot SAMs to Ukraine instead.

Ukraine has attacked military inside Russian territory, according to officials in Moscow.  The Russian Ministry of Defense said that Ukraine used drones to attack two Russian military airfields on December 5.

Ukraine reportedly used a modified version of a Russian-designed unmanned air vehicle (UAV) in recent attacks on Russian Air Force airfields.  The Ukrainians used a modified Tu-141 Strizh UAV.

The Russian MoD has confirmed the use of the R-37M long-range air-to-air missile (AAM) during combat in Ukraine.  The R-37M has a range of over 300 kilometers.

Russia may have received a fresh delivery of Iranian-made attack drones.  For the first time in three weeks, Ukrainian officials say Iranian attack drones are performing new missions on the frontline.

Photos have surfaced online showing the presence of Polish SA-3 Goa surface-to-air missiles in the possession of Ukrainian forces. It was initially unclear if the pictures were taken in Poland or Ukraine.

The FY23 defense policy bill recently released by the U.S. Congress authorizes $800 million in aid for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, reflecting an increase of $800 million over the requested amount. It is up to congressional appropriators to include any extra funds in a final defense spending bill.

The U.S. is preparing a new $275 million aid package for Ukraine that contains 80,000 artillery rounds, HIMARS ammunition, counter-unmanned aerial vehicles and air defense systems, HMMWVs, generators, and other combat equipment.

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