Key developments on Jan. 5:
- Military intelligence reports cross-border raid on Russian positions in Belgorod Oblast
- Armed Forces report striking Russian arsenals in occupied Crimea
- Governor claims Russia attacked Kharkiv Oblast with foreign-made missiles
- Russian attacks target, damage front-line power plant again
Ukrainian forces of the military intelligence agency, HUR, reported on Jan. 5 that its forces engaged in a cross-border raid on Russian positions in Belgorod Oblast and inflicted an undisclosed number of losses.
Incursions into Russia's western Belgorod Oblast have been reported on several occasions since the beginning of the full-scale invasion.
Most notable were high-profile skirmishes that occurred after a group of armed men calling themselves members of the Free Russia Legion and the Russian Volunteer Corps recorded videos saying they had crossed into Russia in May 2023 and taken hold of several villages.
HUR said it had received intelligence that Russian commanders planned to inspect military positions in the Gayvoron district of Belgorod Oblast, some 80 kilometers west of the city of Belgorod and the location of the May 2023 incursions.
The inspections were allegedly due to complaints from Russian soldiers about poor conditions in the area, according to the report.
HUR said it mined the only road in the area and attacked a Russian platoon, sharing a video of parts of the assault. The number of casualties inflicted is still being determined, the HUR said.
The incursion comes after Russia claimed that at least 24 people were killed in an attack on Belgorod on Dec. 30.
Several Ukrainian media outlets reported, citing anonymous sources in Ukraine's special services, that Ukrainian forces had launched an attack on military facilities in Belgorod in response to Russia's Dec. 29 massive attack on Ukraine that killed over 50 people.
Debris from anti-air munitions fell in the Belgorod city center “due to the unprofessional actions of the Russian air defense,” according to the sources.
The Kyiv Independent could not independently verify any of the claims. Kyiv generally does not comment on reports of attacks and explosions on Russian soil.
Military reports striking ammunition warehouses in occupied Crimea
Ukrainian forces struck on Jan. 4 Russian ammunition warehouses near the village of Pervomaiske in Russian-occupied Crimea, Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported on Jan. 5.
In recent months, Russian-occupied Crimea has seen an uptick in Ukrainian attacks in an attempt to disrupt Russian logistics and derail its southern defenses.
Pervomaiske is located in northern Crimea, closer to the Russian-occupied part of Ukraine’s Kherson Oblast.
The exact number of ammunition warehouses struck near the village is unknown. The Ukrainian military said that the attack was carried out during the day.
Multiple explosions were reported in the Crimean cities of Sevastopol and Yevpatoriia in the afternoon of Jan. 4, followed by the Russian Defense Ministry’s claim that its forces shot down 10 Ukrainian missiles over the peninsula.
Later the same day, Ukraine’s military said it had struck a Russian military command post near Sevastopol, which is home to Russia’s Black Sea fleet.
Overnight on Jan. 4, explosions were heard again in several cities of Russian-occupied Crimea, as well as in Russia’s Black Sea port city of Novorossiysk.
The Russian Defense Ministry claimed its forces had destroyed and intercepted 36 Ukrainian drones over the peninsula and another over Russia’s Krasnodar region, where Novorossiysk is located.
Kyiv has not commented on the overnight attack.
A Ukrainian missile strike early on Dec. 26 hit and apparently destroyed the Russian landing ship Novocherkassk, docked in the Crimean city of Feodosia.
Ukraine has repeatedly struck Russia's Black Sea fleet since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, including the sinking of the flagship cruiser Moskva in April 2022 and a devastating missile attack on the fleet's headquarters in occupied Crimea that reportedly killed more than 30 officers.
Russia used foreign-made missiles to strike Kharkiv Oblast, says governor
Some of the missiles that Russia used to strike the city of Kharkiv and the region in late December and early January were produced in a foreign country, Kharkiv Oblast Governor Oleh Syniehubov said on Jan. 5.
The day before, the White House reported that Russia had already used ballistic missiles supplied by North Korea to attack Ukraine. Ukraine’s Air Force reported it can’t confirm this information yet.
Syniehubov said at a press conference that Ukrainian authorities are still investigating the origin of the missiles Russia used to attack Kharkiv Oblast.
“The markings have been erased from these missiles, but we can see that the country of manufacture is not the Russian Federation,” said the governor, as cited by ArmyInform, the Defense Ministry's news agency.
According to the White House, Russian forces launched at least one of the North Korean-supplied missiles into Ukraine on Dec. 30, and this missile appears to have landed in an open field in Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
Russia also used multiple North Korean missiles to strike Ukraine on Jan. 2, Kirby said, including as part of its overnight mass attack that killed five people and injured 130 more.
One of the primary targets of the Jan. 2 mass attack was Kharkiv, which Russian troops hit with multiple Iskander ballistic missiles, killing two people and injuring over 60.
Russian strikes front-line power plant again
Russian attacks on Jan. 4 again damaged a front-line thermal power plant operated by Ukraine's energy giant DTEK that has been struck repeatedly before, the company reported on Jan. 5.
For security reasons, DTEK didn't specify the location of the plant, presumably to avoid giving up sensitive information about the location of Ukraine's critical infrastructure.
Over the winter of 2022-2023, Russia engaged in a persistent campaign to target Ukraine's energy infrastructure, causing large-scale outages and damage to the grid.
Russia began intensifying its attacks against Ukraine's cities and critical infrastructure as the temperatures dropped at the end of 2023, mirroring its strategy from last year.
DTEK said the plant struck on Jan. 4 had been attacked more than a dozen times in the past 2.5 months. In one Russian strike, five workers were injured.
The Jan. 4 strike caused serious damage to the plant's equipment but caused no casualties.