- AFU commander draws up his wish list for next year
- Two Russian missiles intercepted in Dnipropetrovsk
- Black Sea Fleet tries to erase comments about use of chemical weapon grenades
- Kuleba plays it safe on the partisan rift in the United States
- Fighting subsides over holidays, but some small advances reported
AFU chief not unhappy with Western gifts, but explains what is needed for next year
“I was not disappointed by the level of supplies that we had in 2023,” Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhny told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday. “Indeed, it was incomplete, but at least it allowed us to conduct combat operations rather confidently,” he said.
He outlined in detail his wish list for the upcoming year, especially in terms of troop numbers and more innovative technology. Chief among those needs are more troops, something that Kyiv is actively working on in terms of new mobilization methods, but said that the AFU can only participate in work groups with the Ministry of Defense to describe the needs on the ground, nothing more.
“All other internal needs that do not depend on Western partners – they have been all formed and submitted to the Defense Ministry. They are under discussion, and some of them are being implemented,” Zaluzhny noted.
Gen. Valery Zaluzhny on Tuesday called for mobilizing more troops, a rare acknowledgment of heavy casualties after nearly two years of war with Russia:https://t.co/8vexHWbf3J— Stars and Stripes (@starsandstripes) December 26, 2023
AFU downs two Russian guided missiles hours after reportedly sinking the Novocherkassk
“In the Dnipro district of the Dnipropetrovsk region, a unit of the East Air Command destroyed two Kh-59 guided missiles,” the AFU posted on Facebook on Tuesday, referring to Soviet-era, air-to-surface missiles often carried by Sukhoi aircraft.
Also on Tuesday, state news agency Ukrinform reported that the Ukrainian Air Force destroyed 13 enemy Shahed drones and a large landing ship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, the 36-year-old Novocherkassk near Feodosia
Kuleba says it is wise to stay out of US partisan politics
Minister for Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba, speaking on national TV, said that Kyiv is not going to get dragged into a very polarized political landscape in the US, hoping rather to preserve “bipartisan support for Ukraine.”
“We are fully aware of the risks and ... until the outcome of the US presidential election, whatever it ends up being, we will do everything we can to avoid anything, wherever it comes from, that would drag us into or use us in the election race,” Kuleba said on Tuesday.
The Minister acknowledged that any domestic political issue in the US that could steer the results will prevail over any foreign policy issue, including aid to Ukraine.
“America, as a world power, has entered a process where domestic political issues – border security, homeless people on the streets, garbage collection, ecology, energy – become a larger priority because politicians will fight for votes. How exactly, in this context, we can keep Ukraine on the top of the agenda is a challenge… The main thing is to say the right things that strengthen [ties between] Ukraine and America,” Kuleba said.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was making a trip to Mexico on Tuesday to attempt to bring some kind of resolution to the border issue that has thus far hindered President Joe Biden’s proposal to bring about $61 billion in aid to Ukraine in the next package, now slated for 2024.
Russia redacts posts admitting use of chemical weapons
According to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, in particular the 810th Naval Infantry Brigade, edited its acknowledgment that its “personnel are deliberately using chemical weapons in Ukraine in a likely effort to hide what could be evidence of an apparent violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, to which Russia is a party.”
The ISW analysts reported over the holidays that the 810th Naval Infantry Brigade stated on its Telegram channel on December 22 that the brigade is using a “radical change in tactics” against Ukrainian forces on the left bank of the Dnipro River by dropping K-51 grenades from drones onto Ukrainian positions.
The ISW explained that K-51 aerosol grenades are filled with irritant CS gas, 2-Chlorobenzalmalononitrile, a type of tear gas used for riot control which the Chemical Weapons Convention prohibits as a method of warfare.
Between the time of ISW’s data collection on December 23 and this December 27 update, the 810th Naval Infantry Brigade’s Telegram edited the post to delete the specific reference to the K-51 grenade. The original phrasing of the post, however, can still be observed on screenshots, the ISW noted, since edits to Telegram posts do not affect reposts of an unedited post.
The ISW reported that Russian forces made confirmed advances near the Kreminna front sometime around Christmas Eve. Geolocated footage published on December 24 shows that Russian forces recently advanced east of Terny, just west of Kreminna).
A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces are less than four kilometers away from Terny, although the ISW noted that the geolocated footage indicates that Russian forces are slightly over four kilometers away from the outskirts of town.
Operations: Bakhmut area
Ukrainian forces reportedly made recent gains near Bakhmut, Russian sources relayed, although the ISW was not able to confirm any changes to the frontline in the area. A Russian milblogger claimed on December 24 that Ukrainian forces advanced southwest of Verkhnokamianske (30 km northeast of Bakhmut) and in the vicinity of Bakhmut near Khromove and Klishchiivka.
Russian and Ukrainian sources stated that positional fighting occurred northwest of Bakhmut near Bohdanivka and Vasyukivka; west of Bakhmut near Ivanivske; and southwest of Bakhmut near Klishchiivka, Andriivka, and Pivdenne.
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