Overview:

  • Japanese foreign minister announces delivery of drone detection and other aid
  • Russian forces keep up momentum in Marinka
  • Weekend tally: Ukraine damages enemy airfields in Crimea and air defenses in Russia
  • British intel notes lull in Moscow’s air superiority
  • AFU hits nascent Russian rail bridge near Mariupol
  • Infantry attacks continue on left bank of Dnipro but no gains reported
  • Kremlin dangles housing as carrot for recruits, fails to provide basics for occupied towns

Japan’s top diplomat announces delivery of drone-detection systems

Japan is determined to support Ukraine so that peace can return to Ukraine,” Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa said during a surprise visit to Kyiv on Sunday. As air raid sirens whined  in the background of the press conference, held in a bomb shelter, Kamiwaka added: “I can feel how tense the situation in Ukraine is now,” AFP reported.

Appearing with her Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, Tokyo’s foreign minister announced the delivery of air defense systems, including $37 million for drone-detection technology.

“I once again strongly condemn Russia’s missile and drone attacks, particularly on New Year’s Day,” said Kamikawa. 

“Thank you for this powerful sign of support for Ukrainian society,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said at the meeting.

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Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal also thanked Kamiwaka for Japan’s promise of $1 billion for humanitarian projects and reconstruction and laid out a welcome mat for Japanese companies to participate in joint infrastructure production. Tokyo will host a conference next month centered on reconstruction efforts in Ukraine.

Ukraine carries out airstrikes on Crimea and air defenses inside Russia

Over the weekend, Ukrainian forces smashed a Russian military compound at an airfield in occupied Crimea and took out important Russian air defense complexes along the border with Ukraine.

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Ukrainian Air Force pilots destroyed the control point of the Russian military at the Saky airfield in the early hours of Saturday and late Friday night local time, forcing Russian authorities to close the Kerch bridge connecting mainland Russia to occupied Crimea. Moscow claimed that it shot down four air-launched missiles over the peninsula.

“Saky airfield! All targets have been shot down!.... Thanks to our pilots for their excellent work!” Ukrainian Air Force commander Mykola Oleshchuk wrote on social media.

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On Saturday evening, Ukrainian special forces destroyed two Russian anti-aircraft systems in the Belgorod region on Saturday, according to the Main Intelligence of Directorate of Ukraine (HUR). The HUR released footage of the attack on Sunday, saying that “Group 999” had taken out two Pantsir-S1 surface-to-air missile systems, each valued at around $15 million.

Operations: Donetsk

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported that Russian forces on Sunday advanced west and south of Marinka, and on the outskirts of Novomykhailivka, both west of the city of Donetsk, citing geolocated footage. Both Ukrainian and Russian sources noted that combat also continued in Heorhiivka (west of Marinka) and Pobieda (southwest of Donetsk city).

One Russian observer claimed that both sides have heavily mined the area around Novomykhailivka, making it difficult for either to advance. The ISW noted that the Russian units involved in that offensive included the 33rd Motorized Rifle Regiment (20th Motorized Rifle Division, 8th Combined Arms Army, Southern Military District). A Kremlin-affiliated blogger claimed that Russian forces are attempting to advance to Heorhiivka “to achieve the operational goal of capturing Kurakhove (west of Marinka),” the think tank’s analysts wrote.

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While fighting reportedly continued along the Bakhmut and Avdiivka fronts on Sunday, there were no gains claimed by either side.

Meanwhile, Petro Andryushenko, an advisor to Mariupol’s mayor, said on Sunday that Ukrainian forces carried out a precision strike on a half-built Russian railway bridge near Hranitne (23 km north of Mariupol).

UK MoD foresees half-million Russian dead, notes weakened air superiority

The UK Ministry of Defense calculated over the weekend that Russian daily losses in the war jumped by 300 deaths, putting Moscow on a course to cross the 500,000-fatalities threshold in Ukraine this year.

The British intelligence report also noted that, after three Russian Su-34 combat jets were shot down by the Dnipro River in December, Moscow has scaled back its air operations in the area, and has relied on much-diminished tactical airstrikes.

“This once again demonstrates that Russia’s inability to establish air superiority in the war continues to undermine their daily operations,” the report stated.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) noted that there were no changes in battle lines along the left bank of the Dnipro on Sunday and that Ukrainian servicemen operating in the Krynky area said that the Russians are now regularly attacking positions there with small infantry groups of up to 10 people.

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Moscow touts benefits to military families, cannot handle basic utilities in occupied Ukraine

Russian authorities have failed to provide basic services to residents of occupied areas of Ukraine, the ISW wrote, as Moscow lauds its initiatives at home for the families of soldiers in an effort to lure new military recruits.

The Ukrainian Resistance Center reported on Saturday that the occupying administration in Berdyansk has failed to solve issues with the water supply there, causing the humanitarian situation to deteriorate. The Moscow-installed head of the Luhansk region, Artem Lysohor, said over the weekend that an accident at a pump in Uspenka disrupted the water supply, but that there were no local emergency crews able to fix the problem. Apparently an emergency crew had to travel more than 1,200 km from Ulyanovsk, Russia, to repair the utility while residents went without drinking water.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Ministry of Defense has continued to try to incentivize citizens to join the military by advertising its financial support for soldiers’ housing. The ministry broadcasted on social media on Saturday that it has improved housing conditions for 56,000 military families and reimbursed more than 100,000 households for rent. Moscow claims that it has awarded military personnel more than 73 billion rubles (roughly $802 million) in housing subsidies.

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Comments ( 1)

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Imokru2
This comment contains spoilers. Click here if you want to read.

Here is the current distressing situation for the average Russian soldier:
In small groups of 10 to 20 men, they are told by their commanders to advance on Ukraine positions. Many of them will be killed or wounded. If they retreat, they are treated as if they are deserters and shot by a reserve force of their own fellow soldiers.
Why don’t the Russians attack with a force of 1000 men? I believe that it is because the leadership fears that their own men will turn on them.
Obviously, this is an unsustainable tactic by Russia which will ultimately result in defeat on the ground. Once the F-16’s are fully operational, Ukraine will gain air superiority over the country and will attack with force wherever required.
It’s a nightmare isn’t it Vlad?

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