This Week in the Russia-Ukraine War (January 12)

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

a person kneels next to unexploded landmines

Demining efforts in the Kharkiv region – Wikimedia Commons

Political Developments

Italian Minister of Defense Guido Crosetto told parliament this week in reference to the war in Ukraine that “it would seem that the time has come for incisive diplomacy, alongside military support, because there are a number of important signals coming from both sides.”

Ukraine’s revised mobilization bill, facing initial setbacks, is set for approval in the coming weeks. The legislation comes as war enthusiasm cools and draft dodging emerges.

North Korea is accused of providing short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) to Russia.  There are accusations that Russia has used North Korean-made ballistic missiles in multiple strikes on targets inside Ukraine.

North Korea could provide Russia with weapons in addition to its KN-23 short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs).  Pyongyang could be prepared to delivery tactical guided missiles to Russia.  North Korea has become the Russian military’s largest supplier of artillery ammunition.

Military Assistance to Ukraine

Impasse in Congress has forced American assistance to Ukraine to grind to a halt, White House National Security Council Coordinator John Kirby told media on Thursday. Kirby said, “The attacks that the Russians are conducting are only increasing. And now, as I talked about earlier this week, they’re using North Korean ballistic missiles to do their dirty work. So, the — the need is acute right now, particularly in these winter months.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called on other European countries to provide additional military aid to Ukraine. The German government, which is doubling security assistance to Ukraine to 8 billion euros, has asked Brussels to verify planned aid from other EU nations.

The U.S. is working on efforts to provide more technologically advanced military gear to Ukraine. Officials from the White House met with industry experts to discuss new capabilities that would enable Ukraine to detect and defeat Russian drones and remove landmines.

Lithuania outlined planned spending of 200 million euros for Ukraine assistance between 2024-2026, most of which will focus on demining equipment. In 2024, Lithuania will deliver equipment already purchased for Ukraine, including trucks, pick-ups, ambulances, and equipment used to jam enemy drones.

The German government is providing support for the Ukrainian military, including the delivery of equipment.  Among the equipment Ukraine has received: 90 infantry fighting vehicles MARDER; 30 main battle tanks LEOPARD 1 A5; 162 reconnaissance drones VECTOR; 100 reconnaissance drones RQ-35 HEIDRUN; 9 air defense systems IRIS-T SLM; and 259,680 rounds of GEPARD ammunition.

The U.K. announced it will provide GBP2.5 billion ($3.2 billion) in military aid to Ukraine in 2024, the country’s largest yearly commitment since the start of the war. Donations will include long-range missiles, air defense systems, artillery rounds, and GBP200 million worth of drones. Previous annual commitments totaled GBP2.3 billion.

A Pentagon Inspector General report found that around $1 billion worth of military equipment sent to Ukraine failed to comply with new tracking standards that aim to ensure the proper storage and use of the weapons. The report did not assess whether there were cases of misuse or diversion of the gear. The Pentagon rolled out new equipment monitoring standards in December 2022 that covers around $1.7 billion worth of donated equipment. It remains to be seen if the report will impact ongoing negotiations over President Biden’s proposed $61 billion in supplemental military aid for Ukraine in fiscal year 2024, which has faced increased scrutiny from some Republicans.

Spain plans to deliver a pair of BMR-600 armored personnel carriers to Ukraine, for use in medical evacuation missions.

Battlefield Updates

A Russian Ministry of Defense statement on Friday said that from January 6-12, Russia conducted 23 “group strikes” on Ukraine, utilizing Kinzhal missiles and loitering munition drones. The Russian MoD claimed those strikes were targeting Ukraine’s military-industrial complex as well as frontline positions.

Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat said on Tuesday that Ukraine has expended a “considerable reserve” of air-defense missiles in recent weeks, as Russia has increased drone and missile strikes on Ukrainian cities. He added, “It is clear that there is a deficit of anti-aircraft guided missiles.”

Moscow has performed another attack using expendable drones on targets inside Ukraine.  According to the Ukrainian government, Russia launched nearly 30 Iranian-designed attack drones overnight.

Evidence has emerged that Russia has begun using jet-powered Shahed-238s, derived from the Shahed-136 loitering munition UAVs that Iran began supplying to Russia in 2022. The Shahed-238 is more capable than earlier editions, and can fly at faster speeds.

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