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Ukraine War Update -Day 314
But who's counting anymore. Deadly conflict drags on as Putin orders ceasefire!
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It has been a while since I've done a Ukraine War update because, despite occasional interesting developments, the war has become pretty much a back-and-forth slog on the ground in a few key areas along the Russian-occupied south and east.
The more than 10-month Russian initiated war has killed tens of thousands and devastated swaths of Ukraine.
But here is an extended update that hopefully brings us all up to date.
Russian President Vladimir Putin just ordered a 36-hour cease-fire in Ukraine over Orthodox Christmas.
Putin ordered the cease-fire to begin on Jan. 6, the Kremlin said.
Many Orthodox Christians, including those living in Russia and Ukraine, celebrate Christmas on Jan. 6-7.
Putin did not appear to make his conditional on Ukrainian agreement to follow suit.
A senior Ukrainian official quickly dismissed the proposal.
"The Russian Federation must leave the occupied territories — only then will it have a 'temporary truce.' Keep hypocrisy to yourself," presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyakwrote on Twitter
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, called earlier Thursday for both sides of the war in Ukraine to observe a Christmas truce.
This is the first major truce in the war, but many see it as an attempt by Putin to regroup his forces for bigger fights ahead.
As of now, Russia retains some of its conquests, but is losing others, as it battles all of NATO in the biggest proxy war in decades, and biggest war in Europe since WWII.
January 2, 2023 - Several waves of Russian drones targeted critical infrastructure causing power outages in the capital, with up to 20 shot down over Kyiv. President Zelensky said 45 were downed over the whole country.
Russia claims New Year’s Eve cruise missile strikes, in which three lives were lost and a children’s hospital reportedly hit, targeted Ukrainian drone production. Ukraine says Russia is deliberately targeting civilians.
Ukrainian officials believe Russia will attempt a new invasion from the north, possibly in February 2023, but that their defences in Sumy Oblast are now much more capable of withstanding than they were last February.
Meanwhile, Ukraine ramps up its own rocket strikes against Russian forces.
January 3, 2023 - Russian nationalists and some lawmakers are demanding punishment for commanders they accuse of ignoring dangers over one of the Ukraine war’s deadliest strikes.
In a rare disclosure, Russia’s defence ministry said 63 soldiers were killed on New Year's Eve in a blast that destroyed a temporary barracks in a vocational college in Makiivka, twin city of the Russian-occupied regional capital of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.
It is the highest number of deaths acknowledged by Moscow in a single incident since the war began 10 months ago.
Russian critics said the soldiers were being housed alongside an ammunition dump at the site, which the Russian defence ministry said was hit by rockets fired from U.S.-made HIMARS launchers.
Can you say incredibly stupid?
December 30, 2022 - Russia launched 69 cruise missiles and multiple drones at critical Ukrainian infrastructure targets, with around 15 missiles believed to have penetrated air defences.
Belarus made a formal protest to Ukraine after an S-300 air defence missile was shot down over its territory, an incident which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs described as “extremely serious”.
Air defences at Engels strategic bomber air base deep inside Russia shot down a suspected drone, raising criticism amongst the pro-war military blogger community in Russia.
And earlier in December I wrote about Ukraine's bold strikes into Russia itself.
The fear of escalation and a possible Russian nuke response has been a constant concern in the major NATO-Russia proxy war being fought in Ukraine.
This is a primary reason NATO has refrained from giving Ukraine longer-range missile and rocket systems that can strike Russian-occupied territories, much less Russia itself.
The U.S. even secretly modified the advanced Himars rocket launchers it gave Ukraine so they can’t be used to fire long-range missiles into Russia.
But this self-imposed straight jacket, straight out of our initial Vietnam playbook, is increasingly out of touch with the reality on the ground.
And Ukraine is apparently using its own store of weapons to hit targets inside Russian-occupied areas as well as bases in Mother Russia itself.
NBC News reported:
A BLAST HIT AN AIRBASE INSIDE RUSSIA ON TUESDAY, THE LATEST IN A SERIES OF APPARENT UKRAINIAN DRONE ATTACKS THAT SHOWCASE AN ABILITY TO STRIKE AT THE HEART OF RUSSIAN TERRITORY AND SUGGEST A NEW BOLDNESS IN KYIV’S FIGHT AGAINST MOSCOW’S WAR.
ANALYSTS WERE CAUTIOUS ABOUT THE MILITARY IMPACT OF THE APPARENT ATTACKS ON STRATEGIC SITES FAR FROM THE FRONT LINES, BUT SAID THEY HAD FURTHER UNDERMINED RUSSIAN CONFIDENCE IN THE COUNTRY’S AIR DEFENSES WHILE PROVIDING A TIMELY MORALE BOOST FOR UKRAINIAN CIVILIANS PREPARING FOR A LONG WINTER UNDER BOMBARDMENT.
“THE SIGNALING IS IMPORTANT FOR THE UKRAINIANS: THEY NEED TO KNOW THAT THEY ARE HITTING BACK, GIVEN THE AMOUNT OF PAIN AND DEVASTATION AND GENERAL DISCOMFORT THAT’S BEING METED OUT IN UKRAINE,” MATTHEW FORD, AN ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR AT THE SWEDISH DEFENSE UNIVERSITY IN STOCKHOLM, TOLD NBC NEWS.
Thus far, Russia has enjoyed escalation dominance thanks to the restrictions imposed on Ukraine by its Western allies. “It’s important from a morale point of view that some Russian strategic resources are being targeted,” Ford added.
RUSSIA HAS THE FIREPOWER TO CARRY ON BOMBING UKRAINE, HE ADDED. “IT MIGHT BE A PAIN, BUT THEY CAN RELOCATE AIRCRAFT AND INFRASTRUCTURE, THEY CAN PUT UP MORE SECURITY AROUND AIR BASES.”
The Kremlin claimed the attacks came from a Tupolev Tu-141 Strizh, a Soviet-made reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flying at low altitude.
All evidence suggests Kyiv is relying on its own resources, and not state-of-the-art U.S. weapons systems, to strike back at Russia.
Perhaps it’s important for our enemies to understand clearly that attacks and aggression against us, our allies and our friends provoke a serious response.
And our counterstrikes won’t be limited to our own friends’ territory but will extend to the enemies’ home turf.
This is the best way to enhance deterrence. ALD
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