Ukraine Situation Report: Massive Russian Missile Barrage Starts New Year

Russia wished Ukraine a happy New Year with an onslaught of long-range weaponry that tore into the capital and other cities.

byThomas Newdick|
A fire is burning in Kyiv, Ukraine, on January 2, 2024, caused by a Russian missile strike during a massive missile attack this morning.
Photo by Maxym Marusenko/NurPhoto via Getty Images
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Russia has launched another large-scale missile and drone assault on Ukraine, one of the largest since the all-out invasion began.

According to the Ukrainian Air Force, the latest wave included 10 Kinzhal air-launched ballistic missiles, 70 air-launched cruise missiles, including Kh-101s, and three ship- or submarine-launched Kalibr cruise missiles. The air force said that Ukrainian air defenses destroyed all the Kinzhals and Kalibrs as well as 59 of the subsonic air-launched cruise missiles.

It has been alleged that the following video shows a Russian Kinzhal missile plunging into water in Kyiv after it was engaged by Ukrainian air defenses. While the missile body exhibits similarities with the Kinzhal (as well as the ground-launched Iskander-M from which Kinzhal was developed), it could also be wreckage from a different type of Russian weapon altogether, or from a Ukrainian air defense missile.

In a video posted to Telegram, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said: “At least 70 missiles were shot down. Almost 60 of them are in the Kyiv region.”

Zelensky also said that Russia had launched around 170 Iranian-designed Shahed-series one-way attack drones against Ukraine since December 31.

As usual. these figures cannot be independently verified.

Zelenskiy wrote on Telegram:

"For the third day already, our air defenders are doing incredible work. I thank all partners who help to strengthen our air shield. And it’s obvious it helps save hundreds of lives every day and every night that would have been taken by Russian terror if it weren’t for Patriots and other defense systems."

Ukrainian officials said that five people in the country had been killed by the Russian attacks, with dozens more injured.

Targets included the capital Kyiv, as well as the northeastern city of Kharkiv.

On the Telegram messaging app, Kyiv’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, wrote that two people had been killed after a high-rise building caught fire in the capital’s Solomyansky district. Klitschko added that at least 27 people were injured in the city and its environs.

In Kharkiv, regional governor Oleh Synehubov said that a 91-year-old woman was killed after a missile struck residential buildings. Synehubov also said that 41 people were injured in at least six strikes that hit central Kharkiv and other areas.

Andriy Kostin, Ukraine’s prosecutor general, said at least 115 people were injured in the Russian missile and drone strikes in Kyiv and Kharkiv. On X, Kostin said “children and entire families” were among those injured and called the attacks “a blatant act of terrorism.”

Elsewhere, the city of Orikhiv, in the southeastern Zaporizhzhia region, was also targeted. In Zaporizhzhia, regional governor Yuriy Malashko wrote on Telegram:

“As a result of the strike, the house was mutilated, and the entire entrance was destroyed. A resident of one of the apartments in the building, a 75-year-old woman, was taken to the hospital with injuries.”

Another act of genocide against peaceful people. Only because they are Ukrainians. Because they are unbreakable!”

President Zelensky said “Russia will answer for every life taken away” after the attacks.

Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, the chair of the Ukrainian parliament’s committee on European integration, suggested that the raid today was “probably the biggest attack” on Kyiv and Ukraine “as a whole since the start of full-scale invasion”.

“Urgent action in providing additional air defense capabilities needed. However, this war won’t be over till [Russia] is defeated. Time to agree on this common goal — evil must be destroyed,” she added.

Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, also condemned the “massive Russian attack” on Kyiv and Kharkiv, wiring on X:

The massive Russian attack on Kyiv and Kharkiv means dozens of injured civilians, residential buildings on fire. Unfortunately, we have casualties.”

Speaking of war fatigue, it is worth remembering: The enemy is not tired of killing every day. Only force will stop him.”

Kira Rudik, a member of the Ukrainian parliament, posted photos to X showing how the Russian attacks left her home “partially in rubble” and that she had sustained minor injuries.

Meanwhile, Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s security council, has said only the “methodical destruction” of “Putin’s fascist formation” will ensure the security of Ukraine and the rest of the world.

“We have fought and will continue to fight, no matter how many missiles are flying in our sky,” Danilov wrote on X.

Russia’s winter missile and drone onslaught had been long expected and it was also predicted that it would target Ukrainian energy infrastructure, as was also the case last winter.

Earlier today, national energy company Ukrenergo said that 250,000 people were without electricity in Kyiv and the surrounding areas after the strikes upon the capital.

Subsequently, energy workers restored power for some residents in different parts of Kyiv, the Ukrainian energy company DTEK reported. However, around 86,000 people were still without electricity in Kyiv and the surrounding area, according to the Kyiv Independent.

Russia reports that it’s also been targeted by Ukrainian strikes. Although it’s unclear currently how all these alleged attacks were prosecuted, Russian officials attributed at least some to multiple rocket launchers.

According to Moscow, Russian air defenses downed a total of 17 “missiles” fired by Kyiv over the Belgorod border region. One man was killed and seven people were injured, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense and regional officials.

The regional governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov, writing on Telegram, said that the man was killed by a missile that landed next to his car, according to reports. Several houses and cars are said to have been damaged.

The latest claimed Ukrainian attacks follow the previous Ukrainian bombardment of Belgorod on Saturday, which was said to have killed 25 civilians.

The latest Russian attacks on Ukraine have led to renewed calls from officials in Kyiv for more Western air defense systems — and faster.

In a statement, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called on Ukraine’s Western allies to respond to the latest Russian strike by “accelerating the supply of additional air defense systems, combat drones of all types, long-range missiles with a range of 300+ kilometers.”

Currently, major arms packages from both the United States and the European Union are in limbo. The U.S. Congress has failed to approve a $50-billion aid package for Ukraine, while in the European Union, Hungary has blocked a separate €50-billion package. Other European Union nations continue to push for getting more air defense systems into Ukrainian hands, including Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda and Latvian President Edgars Rinkevics, The Kyiv Independent reports.

There are now reports that Europe might try and take matters into its own hands, should U.S. support for Ukraine become even harder to secure in the event of Donald Trump being reelected president. The Times of London reports that leaders across Europe are working to increase manufacturing capabilities to be able to better replenish weapons and ammunition stocks for Ukraine. 

The U.S. ambassador in Kyiv, Bridget A. Brink, also urged more support for Ukraine, writing on X:

Putin is ringing in 2024 by launching missiles at Kyiv and around the country as millions of Ukrainians again take shelter in freezing temps. Loud explosions in Kyiv this morning. It’s urgent and critical that we support Ukraine now — to stop Putin here.”

Poland — which briefly tracked what it said was a Russian missile that entered its airspace last week — responded to the Kremlin’s latest attacks on Ukraine by putting up a combat air patrol of F-16 fighters. A refueling tanker was also in the air.

Once the missile and drone attacks had subsided, the aircraft returned to their bases. Writing on X, the Operational Command of the Polish Armed Forces said:

“Due to the reduced level of threat, the operations of Polish and allied aircraft on duty in our airspace have been ended. The resources returned to their bases and standard operating activities.”

As well as the incident in late December in which an apparent Russian cruise missile entered Polish airspace, a stray Ukrainian missile struck a Polish village, killing two people, in November 2022. That missile had in turn been fired to defend against an incoming Russian strike.

Before diving into more developments from the conflict in Ukraine, The War Zone readers can review our previous rolling coverage.

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As Moscow continues its winter campaign of heavy missile and drone strikes aimed at cities across Ukraine, one Russian village has also accidentally been targeted. Russian authorities admitted that the village of Petropavlovka, in the southern Voronezh region, had been hit by the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS). The village is located around 95 miles east of the Ukraine border.

In a statement quoted by Russian news agencies, the Russian Armed Forces said: “On January 2, 2024, at around 9:00 am Moscow time, during a flight of the Aerospace Forces, an abnormal discharge of aircraft ammunition occurred over the village of Petropavlovka … There are no casualties.”

Russian news agencies also reported that six (some sources state seven) private houses were damaged in the incident.

“An investigation into the circumstances of the incident is underway. A commission is working on the ground to assess the nature of the damage and provide assistance to restoring houses,” the statement read.

Some of the residents of Petropavlovka have been moved to temporary accommodation the governor of the Voronezh region, Alexander Gusev, said.

Incidents of this kind are not without precedent.

In April 2023, The War Zone reported how a VKS Su-34 Fullback fighter bomber accidentally dropped a bomb or other type of offensive weapon on the Russian city of Belgorod, not far from the Ukrainian border. The weapon caused an explosion and damaged several buildings.

As well as Belgorod, it seems that Ukraine has also been striking back at other Russian targets in recent days.

The video below purports to show the damage inflicted on the Donbas Palace Hotel, located in the center of the city of Donetsk, in the Russian-occupied region of the same name. According to pro-Russian accounts on Telegram, the hotel is said to have been hosting a New Year’s Eve party involving high-ranking Russian personnel when it was hit.

With air defense systems in greater demand than ever, it’s interesting to see this Ukrainian upgrade for the Soviet-era ZSU-23-4 Shilka self-propelled anti-aircraft gun.

Known as the 3SU-23-4M-A1, the modernized Shilka features a new Rokach-AS multifunctional radar including a digital antenna array. The upgrade was carried out by the state-owned Arsenal Factory, based in Kyiv.

Another interesting piece of equipment appears in the next video, at the receiving end of a Ukrainian M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, strike.

The 1K148 Yastreb-AV was apparently only very recently introduced by Russian forces in Ukraine. This is an artillery reconnaissance system that is used to direct counter-battery fire, employing its radar to detect artillery projectiles, mortars, and rockets, and then locate the positions of the weapons that fired them. The Yastreb-AV is mounted on a four-axle BAZ-6910-025 chassis, the rear part of which carries a very large radar antenna.

We have repeatedly looked at the effects of Russian electronic warfare in the war in Ukraine, even before the full-scale invasion, as well as reflecting on the major tactical issues that some of these systems present to the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

The Telegraph newspaper in the United Kingdom now reports on some of the recent effects of Russian electronic warfare, including apparently repeatedly jamming the GPS-aided Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) rockets and 155mm Excalibur artillery shells used by the Ukrainian military, causing them to miss their targets.

“The same happened to JDAM guided bombs supplied to Ukraine’s air force by the United States,” the report adds.

However, while Russian jamming of this kind would certainly cause guided munitions of this kind to be less accurate, the fact that they also have inertial guidance systems means they could potentially still hit their target, or at least get close to it.

The next video shows one seemingly recent interaction between Russian forces and HIMARS. In this case, it appears that a Russian drone gets very close to the HIMARS and can confirm its position. However, the incoming Russian multiple rocket launch fire — including cluster munitions — does not appear sufficiently accurate to knock out the HIMARS.

Turkey’s complex position on the margins of the war in Ukraine took another turn today when Ankara said it would not allow the transit of two British minehunter vessels through its waters en route to the Black Sea for use by Ukraine.

Last month, the United Kingdom said it was about to transfer the two former Royal Navy Sandown class mine countermeasures vessels (MCMVs) ships to the Ukrainian Navy.

Under the 1936 Montreux Convention, Turkey is able to block the passage of military vessels through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits. The treaty does not apply to ships returning to home bases.

Turkey claims it has implemented the Montreux Convention impartially to prevent escalation in the Black Sea.

More from the battlefield next, with footage said to be from near Kupyansk, in the Kharkiv region, showing an astonishingly accurate delivery of a grenade from a Ukrainian drone onto a Russian all-terrain vehicle. Viewer discretion is advised.

While the effects of a single well-placed munition are clear, Ukraine is also dropping multiple examples, when the need arises. Case in point, the next video, in which Russian positions in the Kherson region are ‘carpet-bombed’ in an attack that involves an apparent combination of 40mm grenades and other munitions.

That’s it for now. We’ll update this story when there’s more news to report about Ukraine.

Contact the author: thomas@thedrive.com

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