Ukraine Situation Report: $2.2B In New Air Defense Interceptors Coming From U.S.

After Wednesday’s deadly Russian missile attack on the city of Dnipo, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky once again beseeched allies to provide more air defenses and long-range fires.

In the afternoon, some of those pleas were answered in the form of more than $2.3 billion in military assistance from the U.S. The new donations, announced by the Defense Department, include weaponry from two different accounts.

There is about $2.2 billion from Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) funds, which will pay for future purchases of an unspecified number of badly needed interceptors for Patriot air defense systems and National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) donated to Ukraine. As we reported previously, the Biden administration last month temporarily halted deliveries of those munitions to any nation but Ukraine and Taiwan so that Kyiv’s stocks could more quickly be refilled.

The announcement came on Ukraine’s Anti-Aircraft Missile Troops Day.

Additionally, there is $150 million worth of goods from the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA) account of existing equipment. It includes an unspecified amount of additional air defense interceptors, 155mm and 105mm artillery shells, and rockets for the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS

Rows of incomplete shells wait for the next step in production. The Scranton Army Ammunition Plant held a media day to show what they make. The plant makes a 155mm artillery shell. Photo by Aimee Dilger/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images Rows of incomplete 155mm shells wait for the next step in production at the Scranton Army Ammunition Plant. (Photo by Aimee Dilger/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The PDA package is the Biden Administration’s 60th provided to Ukraine since August 2021.

 The capabilities include:

  • Missiles for HAWK air defense systems;
  • Ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS);
  • 155mm and 105mm artillery rounds;
  • 81mm mortar rounds;
  • Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked, Wire-Guided (TOW) missiles;
  • Javelin and AT-4 anti-armor systems;
  • Small arms ammunition and grenades;
  • Demolitions equipment and munitions;
  • Tactical vehicles to tow and haul equipment;
  • Tactical air navigation systems and aircraft support equipment; and,
  • Spare parts, maintenance, and other field and ancillary equipment.

After the package was announced, Zelensky expressed his gratitude.

On the battlefield, Russian forces have made incremental gains on several fronts according to the latest Institute for the Study of War assessment.

  • Kharkiv Oblast: Russian forces recently advanced within Vovchansk, about 30 miles northeast of Kharkiv City, amid continued Russian ground attacks. Fighting continued north of Kharkiv City near Hlyboke and Lyptsi s well.
  • Luhansk Oblast: There were no confirmed advances in the Russian push along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line. 
  • Donetsk Oblast: Siversk continued to be a thrust of Russian operations, but there were no confirmed changes to the frontline in this area. They did, however, recently advance within easternmost Chasiv Yar. Russians also continued to push toward Toretsk and Avdiivka but there were no confirmed frontline changes in either location.
  • Zaporizhzhia Oblast: Fighting continued in the western part of the region with no confirmed territorial changes. 

At least five people died and 30 were injured in the Russian missile attack on the city of Dnipro, according to Zelensky. Video that emerged on social media show showed a reported strike on the Yuzhny Machine-Building plant, a major producer of rockets and other military products. The video, shot by a passenger in a moving car, shows one large pillar of smoke and then the bright flash of an explosion a short distance away.

Another video shows an apparent Ukrainian air defense munition intercepting an incoming Russian missile at extremely low altitude in the same general area.

“The targets of today’s attacks on Dnepropetrovsk were the facilities of one of the largest enterprises in Ukraine,” the Russian Military Observer Telegram channel claimed Wednesday. “The company is one of the main ones in the production of military products, including missiles and UAVs, as well as the repair of damaged equipment.”

The extent of the damage is unclear at the moment.

The company was once a major player in the Soviet space and Intercontinental Ballistic Missile industries.

Starting in the 1950s, “four generations of strategic missile systems, about 400 spacecraft of 70 various modifications and space launch vehicles of ‘Cyclone,’ ‘Cosmos,’ and ‘Zenit’ series have been created” by the company, it states on its website.

Now, it says it produces, tests and operates launch vehicles and manufactures unspecified defense items as well as air transport, agricultural machinery, and thermal power station equipment.

It has been targeted by Russia before. The aftermath of a July 2022 attack can be seen in the images below.

Video has emerged on social media of what appears to be the second Russian attack on a Ukrainian air base this week.

Released by the official Russian Izvestia news outlet, it is from the perspective of a drone hovering over the Dolgintsevo Air Base located near Kryvyi Rih in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast. It then shows a Ukrainian Air Force Su-25 Frogfoot ground attack jet, or facsimile thereof, parked in the open on an apron. After that, a camouflage net-covered shelter with a jet inside comes into view, followed quickly by the bright flash of an impact and a tall pillar of some rising upward. The base is about 230 miles from Russian territory.

“The crew of the Iskander-M operational-tactical missile system struck the airfield of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) in Kryvyi Rih,” Izvestia reported. “As a result of the attack, Ukrainian Armed Forces aircraft were destroyed.”

The Russian Operation Z Telegram channel claimed a MiG-29 was destroyed and two Su-25 Frogfoot fighters were damaged.

The War Zone cannot independently verify that claim, however, a satellite image from NASA’s Fire Information For Resource Management System (FIRMS) shows what appears to be a fire in the location seen in the video.

There was what appeared to be a fire in the area of a missile strike on the Dolgintsevo Air Base claimed by Russia. FIRMS

This attack comes two days after video emerged on social media showing a missile attack on Ukraine’s Mirgorod Air Base in Poltava Oblast. The base, home to Ukraine’s 831st Tactical Aviation Brigade, is located in central Ukraine, about 100 miles southwest of the border. The attack and loss of aircraft has been confirmed by the Ukrainian Air Force.

Dolgintsevo Air Base was attacked last month as well.

A Ukrainian Air Force Frogfoot was captured on video being struck by a Russian Lancet drone. Reportedly, electronic warfare measures at the base interfered with the drone, resulting in damage, not destruction to the Frogfoot. However, as we reported Dec. 1, 2023, a Lancet strike on the base resulted in an elaborate decoy, not a Frogfoot being hit. 

You can see a video of that incident below.

Today’s attack once again raises issues about how difficult it has become to protect air bases for both sides.

From our previous report: “Ukraine and Russia alike lack enough air defense systems to protect all major potential target areas. In addition, the systems that do exist have been heavily targeted. Moreover, defeating small drones can require specialized short-range air defense systems (SHORADS). That Russia can operate a drone and communicate the location of targets in real time so far from territory it controls adds to Ukraine’s woes. The drones are likely using an airborne relay or even potentially patching into local cellular networks in order to provide real-time connectivity over such long distances.” 

Dolgintsevo Air Base located near Kryvyi Rih is about 230 miles from Russian territory. Google Earth image

The Russian Defense Ministry (MoD) claimed that it repelled a Ukrainian uncrewed surface vessel attack (USV) on the Black Sea port of Novorossysk on Thursday. The port is some 420 miles from Ukrainian-occupied territory. It has become a refuge for the Russian Black Sea Fleet in the wake of repeated Ukrainian attacks on Sevastopol in occupied Crimea.

A 52-second video released by the MoD shows Russian patrol boats in the harbor unleashing a torrent of small arms fire across the water, the tracers lighting up the night sky. At around the 17-second mark, the video cuts to what appears to be a Ukrainian USV. It then cuts to more tracer fire and a bright flash of an explosion.

In another video, shot from inside the city, the distant rumble of gunfire is heard from the harbor.

It is hard to tell from the video exactly what happened, but the Russian MoD said two Ukrainian USVs were destroyed with no damage caused to the port or any vessels. The War Zone cannot independently verify that, however, FIRMS shows what appears to be a fire at the port and one to the north. There was no claim by Ukrainian officials about this reported attack.

Russian authorities claim there was no damage caused by a Ukrainian drone boat attack on Novorossysk, however, there appear to have been some fires there. FIRMS

“There is no danger for the inhabitants of the hero city!” Novorossysk Mayor Andrei Kravchenko wrote on Telegram Wednesday. “On behalf of all Novorossiysk residents and myself personally, I thank our military personnel for their prompt response and protection of their heroic hometown, and the media for timely informing the population.

The port has been attacked several times in the past.

Ukraine claimed the Russian Project 266M class minesweeper Korovets was destroyed in an attack there in May.

Companies in China and Russia are developing an attack drone similar to Iranian-made Shahed-136s widely used in Ukraine, European officials familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News. The outlet postulated that is “a sign that Beijing may be edging closer to providing the sort of lethal aid that Western officials have warned against.”

The companies started developing and testing a version this year in preparation for shipment to Russia, Reuters reported, citing “officials who asked not to be identified to discuss private information.” The companies first held talks in 2023 about this collaboration. The Chinese drones have yet to be used in Ukraine, the officials added.

Speaking of Shahed-136 drones, the Belarusian Army for the first time showed off their fleet during a parade in the capital of Minsk. The drones reportedly go by a different name in the country – Kochevnik – which means “nomad” in Russian.

The Czech Defense Ministry published a list of nearly $300 million in military equipment it has provided to Ukraine. It includes eight Mi-24V/35 helicopters, 62 tanks T-72M/M1 tanks, 131 BVP-1/2 infantry fighting vehicles, 26 chemical reconnaissance vehicles, and nearly 100,000 rounds of artillery ammunition.

Ukraine is not ready to compromise with Russia and give up any territory to end the war, a senior Ukrainian official told reporters on Tuesday when asked about former president and current candidate Donald Trump’s promise that he could quickly end the raging conflict.

Andriy Yermak, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s chief of staff, told reporters during a visit to Washington that Kyiv would listen to any advice on how to achieve a “just peace” in the war, according to Reuters.

“But we (are) not ready to go to the compromise for the very important things and values … independence, freedom, democracy, territorial integrity, sovereignty,” he said.

Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee challenging President Joe Biden, said during a debate between the pair last week that if he is re-elected in November he would quickly solve the war in Ukraine before taking office in January.

The European Council of Foreign Relations (ECFR) released the result of a poll taken in Ukraine and 14 other nations that found Ukrainians are confident of victory, largely support President Volodymyr Zelensky, and are more willing to give up land than sovereignty to Russia as a condition for ending the war.

“When asked about the most likely outcome of the war, “58% foresee a Ukrainian victory, 30% say it will end in a settlement, and only 1% expect Russia to emerge victorious,” pollsters found. “Ukrainians are even more optimistic under a scenario whereby Western supplies of weapons and ammunition increase – in such a circumstance, 69% think Ukraine would win, while 22% would expect a settlement.”

While “it is true that President Volodymyr Zelensky’s image has been tarnished by the burdens of office, the poll shows that 34% of Ukrainians currently say they trust him ‘a great deal.’ An additional 31% trust him quite a lot,” according to ECFR.

That means “by two to one, those who are keeping the faith with their leader outnumber those who are not,” ECFR concluded.

In addition, “Ukrainians appear to view the right to choose their geopolitical orientation as even more important than territorial integrity,” ECFR explained. A full “45% say they would prefer Ukraine to lose parts of its currently occupied territory but remain sovereign, with its own army and freedom to choose its alliances, such as the EU and NATO. Only 26% say they would prefer to see Ukraine regain its occupied territory but accept demilitarisation and neutrality, which would mean not joining the EU and NATO.”

A new poll by the European Council on Foreign Relations found that most Ukrainians prefer to give up land instead of sovereignty. ECFR

Ukrainian military sources claim that nine Russian drone operators were killed in this drone strike on the building they were operating in.

And finally, a drone captured a devastating look at the Donetsk Oblast city of Chasiv Yar, a focal point of fighting.

That’s it for now.

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Howard Altman

Senior Staff Writer

Howard is a Senior Staff Writer for The War Zone, and a former Senior Managing Editor for Military Times. Prior to this, he covered military affairs for the Tampa Bay Times as a Senior Writer. Howard’s work has appeared in various publications including Yahoo News, RealClearDefense, and Air Force Times.