This Week in the Russia-Ukraine War (Week 44 – December 16)

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

The Pentagon says fighting remains intense in the Donbas region as Russian forces conduct a ground offensive amid attempts to take the city of Bakhmut.  In the Kharkiv and Kherson regions, Ukrainians continue to consolidate their previous gains while Russian forces bolster their defensive lines.

Russia is burning through its ammunition stockpiles and is now drawing on older munitions, including some that were packed decades ago.  Serviceable stocks could be depleted by early 2023, barring foreign imports, U.S. officials said.

Estonia’s intelligence chief warns that despite the amount of equipment and number of personnel lost in Ukraine, Russia has enough in reserve to continue the conflict for some time to come.

The U.S. is working on improving oversight of weapons being shipped to Ukraine to ensure they end up at their intended destination. There are currently a couple dozen U.S. troops in Ukraine, some of which are responsible for tracking weapon shipments. The White House is considering whether to send a limited number of additional troops to aid this effort.

Ukraine claimed it shot down 13 Iranian-made drones over Kyiv and the surrounding region on Wednesday.

The U.S. is planning to send Patriot air defense missiles to Ukraine, marking the first time this capability will be sent to the country. Officials have indicated the deal involves a single Patriot battery. Patriot would provide enhanced protection against large threats like cruise missiles or aircraft.  Ukraine has been seeking Patriot missiles for months, but the U.S. was hesitant to provide the weapon system due to concerns about heightening tensions with Moscow.

While the Patriot will not solve Kyiv’s problem with attack drones, the system will provide an additional air defense layer to the Ukrainian military.  The Patriot will make Russian attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure more difficult.

Congress has authorized the Department of Defense to enter into multiyear procurement contracts to replace munitions sent to Ukraine.

Russia has performed further drone attacks on Ukraine’s power generation network.  These attacks, on December 9, cut the power to Odessa.

There are rumors that sabotage may be behind the poor performance of Ukraine’s Neptune missiles early in the war.  Inspectors found the failure was due to a single part.

Ukrainian forces have launched a missile attack on the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol in southern Ukraine.  Russian media said 20 missiles hit the Donetsk People’s Republic on December 11.

Russia continues its attack on Ukrainian cities and infrastructure.  Kyiv was again targeted by a wave of Russian attack drones on December 14.

Russia has performed its first patrol using its Tu-95MS Bear strategic bombers since a Ukrainian attack on this fleet.  An air base that hosted these aircraft was hit by Ukrainian-operated unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) on December 5.

Russia has launched a new barrage of missiles at Ukraine.  Russia has carried out several waves of attacks on Ukrainian energy infrastructure since October.  As many as 60 Russian missiles were fired in this latest round.


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