This Week in the Russia-Ukraine War (December 22)

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

a combat vehicle drives through a forest

A Swedish CV90 infantry fighting vehicle in Ukraine. Source: armyinform.com.uaUkraine Ministry of Defense

Political Developments

Listening devices were discovered in offices that could have been used by Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Valery Zalushny, the military said in a statement on Monday. The SBU opened a criminal investigation in response to the bug. The agency said that the bug was inactive at the time of discovery, and “no means of accumulating information or means of remote transmission of audio recordings were found.”

Zalushny’s public relationship with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has declined in recent weeks. In November, he described the conflict as approaching ‘stalemate’, a comment that drew rebuke from the president. This week, though he walked-back the ‘stalemate’ characterization, Zalushny criticized Zelenskiy’s decision in August to fire a number of regional military officials on corruption allegations. Those officials had been involved with recruitment to the Armed Forces. “These were professionals, they knew how to do this, and they are gone,” Zalushny said.

Military Assistance to Ukraine

The U.S. plans to authorize a $1 billion donation of U.S. military equipment to Ukraine at the end of the month. The Biden administration says this package will use up the remaining funding available for the U.S. to replace donated equipment, meaning Congress must pass additional aid for weapons donations to continue into next year. The administration is seeking $61 million for Ukraine security and economic assistance in fiscal year 2024.

Italy’s cabinet of ministers has approved a resolution that enables the continuation of military assistance to Kyiv through the end of 2024, according to a statement issued by the Italian Defense Ministry on Tuesday.

Sweden and Denmark announced a plan to supply Ukraine with additional CV90 infantry fighting vehicles. Denmark will contribute around $263 million for the effort. Sweden donated 50 CV90s earlier to this year.

Finland announced another military aid package to Ukraine, worth EUR106 million. This will be the 21st military assistance package to Ukraine and will bring the total value of Finnish support for Kyiv’s military defense to EUR1.6 billion.

Germany placed an order with Rheinmetall for “several tens of thousands” of 155mm artillery shells of various types. The order is part of a framework agreement put in place earlier this year. Deliveries aren’t expected until 2025. The order is valued at a “three-digit million euro” amount, according to a statement from the company.

BAE Systems has teamed with AMD Integrated Solutions Ltd to provide support for artillery systems donated by the United Kingdom. AMS will use existing maintenance centers in Ukraine.

In its latest report, the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine said the country had invested approximately $46 billion, 27.1% of GDP, for its defense in the past year. 

Ukraine has received additional weaponry from Germany.  Recently, the German government handed over a Patriot air defense system to Ukraine, along with Patriot missiles.  In addition, Germany has delivered more ammunition to Ukraine.

Group D, a volunteer group in the Czech Republic, is planning to provide 10,000 FPV (First Person View) drones to the Ukrainian military.  The volunteers are attempting to raise around one hundred million Czech crowns ($44.4 million) to support this plan.

Battlefield Updates

Stalled support from Washington has U.S. and European military officials concerned about the prospect that Kyiv could be defeated by Russia, CNN reported this week. An unnamed American official was quoted as saying, “There is no guarantee of success with us, but they are certain to fail without us.”

Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat said on Thursday that Russia has fired 7,400 missiles and 3,700 Shahed drones at Ukraine since invading in February 2022. Around 2,900 of those drones were shot down, Ihnat said, but only around 1,600 missiles have been downed. Ihnat noted that Russian supersonic ballistic missiles are a challenge to intercept, and Kyiv moreover did not receive advanced air-defense equipment from the West until after the war had begun.

On Friday, Ukraine said it shot down three Su-34s over a 24-hour span. The three aircraft were allegedly downed in southern Ukraine, according to the statement.

Ukrainian company One Way Aerospace delivered the first batch of AQ 400 ‘Scythe’ unmanned aerial vehicles to the Ukrainian Army this week. The company presently has the capacity to produce 100 drones monthly, but plans to ramp up that rate to 500 per month in the future.  AQ 400 UAVs can be used as loitering munitions, able to deliver a payload of 32 kg to ranges of 750 kilometers.

President Zelenskiy said on Tuesday that Ukraine’s defense industry “will produce a million drones next year,” reiterating a pledge to ramp up UAV production. He also said that Kyiv will work to increase production of artillery shells.

The Ukrainian Army also received a pair of locally-made Dozor-B armored vehicles this week.

Moscow’s mayor Sergei Sobyanin said on Tuesday that a ‘hostile drone’ had been shot down by the city’s air-defense systems.

Russian combat aircraft attacked additional targets inside Ukraine on December 14.  Russian MiG-31K fighter jets used Kinzhal hypersonic missiles to strike targets in central Ukraine.

Russia has performed a new attack on Ukraine using drones and missiles.  The operation took place on December 17.  Missile and drone attacks are almost daily occurrences in this war.

 

 

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