consequences of the December 29 attack on Kyiv, photo: Ministry of Internal Affairs
Experts at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) note that Russia will not stop and will continue to launch large-scale attacks on Ukraine, as happened on December 29.
Source : ISW
Details : On the morning of December 29, Russian troops carried out the largest series of missile and drone attacks on Ukraine since the full-scale invasion began.
The report notes that the series of strikes carried out by Russian forces on December 29 appears to be the culmination of months of Russian experimentation with various combinations of drones and missiles, as well as attempts to test Ukrainian air defenses.
Analysts recall that over the past few months, Russian forces have carried out a series of missile and drone strikes of varying sizes, using various combinations of drones, cruise and ballistic missiles.
ISW assessed on October 21 that Russian forces are likely to diversify the mix of missiles, glider bombs and drones used in the strike series to find weak points in Ukrainian air defenses and optimize a strike package similar to the one Russian forces launched on December 29.
Russia likely intentionally stockpiled a variety of missiles throughout the fall and early winter of 2023 to build a more powerful strike force and apply lessons learned from recent reconnaissance and probing missions, namely the use of Shaheed drones to evade Ukrainian air defenses, and also the use of missiles to inflict maximum damage on intended targets.
Experts note that Russia will continue to launch large-scale strikes against Ukraine in an attempt to undermine Ukrainian morale and Ukraine's ability to sustain its military efforts against Russia.
Key ISW findings for December 29 :
- On the morning of December 29, Russian troops launched the largest series of missile and drone strikes in Ukraine since the full-scale invasion began.
- The series of strikes carried out by Russian forces on December 29 appears to be the culmination of months of Russian experimentation with various combinations of drones and missiles, as well as attempts to test Ukrainian air defenses.
- Russia will continue to launch large-scale attacks on Ukraine in an attempt to undermine Ukrainian morale and Ukraine's ability to support military action against the Russian Federation.
- Russia's current stockpile of missiles and drones, and the pace of their production, likely does not allow Russian forces to conduct regular large-scale missile strikes, but does likely allow for more consistent drone strikes, which may explain the recent trend toward an increase in the number of Russian strike series.
- The Kremlin's efforts to sufficiently mobilize the Russian defense industrial base to support its wartime goals, including a series of large-scale strikes, may be more successful than Western officials previously estimated, in part due to Russia's ability to purchase military equipment from its partners and the reallocation of Russian resources for military production purposes.
- Russian forces are likely to routinely attempt to divert and lock down limited Ukrainian air defense systems from the front, and the Russian strikes on December 29 follow recent evidence that Ukrainian air defenses could pose significant challenges to Russian air operations along the front line.
- Western assistance remains vital to Ukraine's ability to defend against Russian attacks, and the withdrawal of such assistance would likely create the conditions for an expansion of the Russian air campaign in Ukraine.
- Western leaders largely view the massive Russian strike as evidence that Putin's maximalist goals in Ukraine remain intact, consistent with ISW's long-standing assessment that Putin is not really interested in a ceasefire or any negotiated settlement to the conflict in Ukraine.
- Russian forces have made recent confirmed advances northeast of Bakhmut and south of Avdiivka, and trench fighting continues along the entire line of contact.
- The Russian Ministry of Defense announced on December 29 the end of the 2023 fall conscription cycle, which began on October 1.
- Russia continues to forcefully integrate occupied areas of Ukraine into the Russian system, using social services and infrastructure reconstruction projects.