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ISW: Russia to continue large-scale combined weapons strikes against Ukraine

by The Kyiv Independent news desk December 30, 2023 10:25 AM 4 min read
First responders work around the destroyed shopping mall that was hit by Russia's massive strike on Dnipro on Dec. 29, 2023. Russia's air attack killed at least six and injured 30 people in Dnipro, according to the local authorities. The strikes on Dnipro were part of Russia's largest air attack against Ukraine that targeted multiple cities across the country with 158 missiles and drones. (Ozge Elif Kizil/Anadolu via Getty Images)
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Russia will likely continue to conduct strikes against Ukraine in the coming days to coincide with the New Year holiday as they did last year in an effort to degrade Ukrainian morale, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported in their daily assessment on Dec. 29.

Russian forces may still decide to strike Ukrainian energy infrastructure at scale in the coming months, although the ISW wrote that a Russian effort to break Ukraine’s will to fight is very unlikely to succeed.

Russian forces likely also intend for strikes on residential areas to exploit and amplify Ukrainian social tensions.

The strikes Russian forces launched on Dec. 29 appear to be a culmination of several months of Russian experimentation with various drone and missile combinations and efforts to test Ukrainian air defenses, according to the ISW.

Over the past several months, Russian forces have conducted a series of missile and drone strikes, using various combinations of drones, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles.

Russia launched 75 Shahed attack drones on Nov. 25, predominantly on Kyiv. Seventy-four out of 75 drones were shot down, but the attack lasted for six hours and was the most intense attack on the capital before the Dec. 29 attack.

As a result of the Nov. 25 attack, at least two people were injured and several residential and non-residential buildings were damaged across the city.

Update: Largest Russian drone attack on Kyiv injures 5
The number of people injured in Russia’s Nov. 25 attack on Ukraine, which predominantly targeted Kyiv and was the largest drone attack on the capital since the start of the full-scale war, has risen to five people, Kyiv Mayor Vitalii Klitschko reported.

Russia was likely deliberately stockpiling missiles of various sizes through the fall and early winter of 2023 to apply lessons learned over the course of recent reconnaissance and probing missions, using the Shahed attack drones to bypass Ukrainian air defenses while utilizing missiles to inflict maximal damage on intended targets.

Current Russian missile and drone reserves and production rates likely do not allow Russian forces to conduct regular large-scale missile strikes but likely do allow for more consistent drone strikes, the ISW said.

Russia manufactured 40 Kh-101 cruise missiles and 20 Kalibr cruise missiles in October 2023 alone, as well as four Kinzhal ballistic missiles, Vadym Skibitskyi, a representative of Ukraine's Military Intelligence (HUR), said in an interview with RBC Ukraine on Nov. 6. said.

These account for 64 of the 115 high-precision missiles with a range over 350 kilometers that Russia produced in October, he said. Russia had about 870 high-precision missiles in its arsenal at the time of the interview, Skibitskyi said.

Skibitskyi’s statements about recent Russian missile reserve totals and monthly production rates indicated that Russian forces are unable to sustain repeated large-scale missile strikes comparable to the Dec. 29 strikes, the ISW said.

Russia unleashed its largest air attack on Ukraine on Dec. 29, targeting multiple Ukrainian regions with 158 missiles and drones.

The attack killed 30 people and injured over 160 as of 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 29, according to Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko. The number of victims might increase as rescue operations continued as of 8 p.m. on Dec. 29.

‘Hit the Kremlin’: Kyivans don’t hold back after Russia’s mass attack kills 9, wounds 30 in the capital
Thick columns of smoke were rising in Kyiv after several sites were hit by Russia early on Dec. 29. In Kyiv, Russia hit three locations, according to Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko. Local authorities reported nine people killed and 30 injured. Russia unleashed a barrage of 158 attack drones and m…

Casualties were previously reported in Kyiv, Odesa, Dnipro, Lviv, Kharkiv, and Zaporizhzhia.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said it was "the most massive attack."

Ukraine downed 114 of 158 Russian missiles and drones, according to the Air Force. Among the downed targets were 27 Russian Shahed attack drones and 87 cruise missiles.

In total, Russia launched 36 drones, at least 90 Kh-101/Kh-555/Kh-55 cruise missiles, eight Kh-22/Kh-32 cruise missiles, 14 S-300/S-400/Iskander ballistic missiles, as well as five Kinzhal ballistic missiles, four anti-radar missiles, and one Kh-59 cruise missile.

"Russia was attacking with almost everything it has in its arsenal," Zelensky wrote on Telegram in the morning following the attack.

Zelensky said the attack destroyed or damaged over 100 private houses, along with 45 multi-story buildings, schools, two churches, hospitals, a maternity hospital, and numerous commercial and warehouse premises across Ukraine.

"Targets are already familiar for Russia," he said.

Ukraine war latest: Russia’s largest air attack on Ukraine kills 30, injures over 160
Russia unleashed its largest air attack on Ukraine on Dec. 29, targeting multiple Ukrainian regions with 158 missiles and drones. The attack killed 30 people and injured over 160 as of 7:30 p.m., according to Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko.
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