This Week in the Russia-Ukraine War (January 5)

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

Destroyed Russian tank. Image

 Political Developments

Kyiv and Moscow agreed to a prisoner swap mediated by the United Arab Emirates, the parties announced on January 3. The arrangement saw the release of 230 Ukrainians and 248 Russians.

Starting January 1, 2024, the Norwegian government is allowing the direct sale of weapons and defense-related products from Norwegian defense industry to Ukraine. The change will allow Norwegian companies to apply for export licenses for the sale of equipment to Ukraine, which will be granted on a case-by-case basis. Norway has previously donated equipment to Ukraine and trained Ukrainian personnel.

Military Assistance to Ukraine

Six more Ukrainian pilots have begun F-16 fighter training in Denmark, joining eight pilots and 65 maintenance personnel that have been training in Denmark since August. Another ten pilots have completed English language training in the United Kingdom and are undergoing basic flight training.

The U.K. has begun shipment of 200 air defense missiles to Ukraine, which will replace systems provided in late 2022. The Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missiles (ASRAAM), manufactured in the U.K. by MBDA, has been modified into surface-launched air defense weapons.

Ukrainian officials are claiming its Western-supplied air defense systems are helping it to counter the threat from Russian missiles and attack drones.  Specifically, Kyiv says Western surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) are having good success intercepting Russia’s Kh-47 Kinzhal, a hypersonic missile.

Berlin announced a new military aid package to Ukraine on Thursday, including Leopard 2A6 ammunition, 10 Marder IFVs, IRIS-T SLM missiles, a Skynex air-defense system, and a pair of TRML-4D air surveillance radars. Germany will also send around 10,000 155mm shells to Ukraine. The German statement noted that Germany provided EUR5.4 billion in security aid in 2023.

Battlefield Updates

Russia has started utilizing North Korean-made ballistic missiles to conduct strikes on Ukraine, the U.S. said this week. “Our information indicates that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea recently provided Russia with ballistic missile launchers and several ballistic missiles,” U.S. NSC spokesman John Kirby told media.

Kirby noted the missiles carry ranges up to 900 kilometers, but declined to identify the missile systems Pyongyang has supplied to Russia. Reuters reported that North Korea may have delivered missiles from the Hwasong-11 family.

Furthermore, Russia is looking to buy Iranian-made short-range ballistic missiles, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. The two are said to be close to inking a deal. Moscow is depleting its ballistic missile inventory due to the war with Ukraine.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported that Russia lost more than 400 tanks and nearly 30,000 soldiers in just one month of fighting.

The Russian News Agency TASS reported that the Russian Armed Forces received over 1,500 tanks and 22,000 drones for 2023. The commander of a Russian tank unit in Zaporizhzhia said this week that his unit had begun receiving T-80BVM tanks, modernized to withstand attacks from FPV drones and anti-tank missiles.

Russia launched a missile barrage against targets in Kyiv and Kharkiv, killing five an injuring as many as 130. The attack comprised around 100 missiles, including ten Kinzhal ballistic missiles that Ukraine claimed were all shot down.

In response to new Russian air raids, Ukraine has fired attack drones at Moscow, the Russian capital, and other targets.  Russian officials said its air defenses shot down 32 Ukrainian attack drones.

Russia has launched a massive aerial attack on Ukraine.  Moscow commenced its assault on January 2, targeting Kharkiv and Kyiv, among other cities.  Russia launched 99 missiles.

Ukrainian air defenders are facing heavy attacks by Russia.  On New Year’s Eve, Moscow launched 90 attack drones against targets inside Ukraine.  The attack targeted regions from Odesa on the Black Sea to Kyiv to Lviv, the latter is near the Polish border.

Ukrainian military intelligence claimed the destruction of a Su-34 combat aircraft in Chelyabinsk, around 1,800 kilometers east of Moscow. According to the GUR statement, an operative breached the Shagol airfield and set fire to the jet, which is used to perform air-to-surface strikes. Kyiv claimed to have shot down several Su-34s near Kherson late last month.

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