January 4, 2024

Institute for the Study of War:  Ukraine targets Russian military command post near Sevastopol, Crimea

Institute for the Study of War

Ukrainian military officials reported that Ukrainian forces struck at least one Russian military target in occupied Crimea, while Russian officials and milbloggers claimed that the Ukrainian strike was unsuccessful. Ukrainian Armed Forces Center for Strategic Communications (StratCom) stated on January 4 that Ukrainian forces struck a Russian command post near Sevastopol in the afternoon. Ukrainian Air Force Commander Lieutenant General Mykola Oleshchuk implied that Ukrainian strikes against Sevastopol and Yevpatoria may have targeted the locations of Russian military leaders. Oleshchuk also amplified footage of a smoke plume geolocated to the eastern outskirts of Uyutne and a report by a Crimean source, which stated that a projectile reportedly struck a Russian air defense unit near Uyutne (just west of Yevpatoria). The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that Russian forces shot down 10 Ukrainian missiles over Crimea. Russian sources, including the MoD and Sevastopol occupation governor Mikhail Razvozhaev, claimed that Russian air defenses repelled the Ukrainian strike.

US National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby stated on January 4 that Russia has already launched ballistic missiles acquired from North Korea at targets in Ukraine and continues efforts to acquire similar missiles from Iran. Kirby stated that North Korea provided Russia with ballistic missile launchers and an unspecified number of ballistic missiles and that Russian forces launched at least one of the North Korean missiles into Ukraine on December 30, 2023. Kirby also stated that Russian officials continue efforts to buy ballistic missiles from Iran. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported earlier on January 4 that unspecified US officials stated that Russia could receive Iranian short-range ballistic missiles as early as spring 2024 but that the officials do not believe that Russia and Iran have yet completed a deal.

US National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby dismissed recent Western reporting of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s willingness to engage in peace negotiations with Ukraine as “ballyhoo” during a press conference on January 3. Kirby stated that Putin “sure doesn’t act like a guy who’s willing to negotiate,” referring to Russia’s recent large-scale strikes against Ukraine from December 29, 2023, to January 2. Kirby added that Putin is doing everything possible to put Ukraine in a disadvantageous position and reiterated the importance of continued Western support for Ukraine. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba stated during an interview with CNN on January 3 that Ukraine is confident that Western aid to Ukraine will continue and that Ukraine does not have a “plan B.” Kuleba noted that a theoretical Russian victory in Ukraine would embolden other world leaders with predatory expansionist objectives and cited recent Russia’s missile strikes against Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities as a clear indication of Putin’s unwillingness to negotiate with Ukraine. ISW has long assessed that Putin does not intend to negotiate with Ukraine in good faith and that Russia’s goals in Ukraine — which are tantamount to full Ukrainian and Western surrender — remain the same.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ukrainian military officials reported that Ukrainian forces struck at least one Russian military target in occupied Crimea, while Russian officials and milbloggers claimed that the Ukrainian strike was unsuccessful.
  • US National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby stated on January 4 that Russia has already launched ballistic missiles acquired from North Korea at targets in Ukraine and continues efforts to acquire similar missiles from Iran.
  • Russia may be intensifying efforts to source ballistic missiles from abroad because these missiles appear to be more effective at striking targets in Ukraine in some circumstances.
  • US National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby dismissed recent Western reporting of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s willingness to engage in peace negotiations with Ukraine as “ballyhoo” during a press conference on January 3.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree strengthening procedures for granting foreign citizens Russian citizenship in exchange for Russian military service in Ukraine, likely as part of ongoing efforts to coerce migrants into the Russian military.
  • Kyrgyzstan sentenced a Kyrgyz citizen to five years in prison for participating in the war in Ukraine as a member of the Wagner Group.
  • Russia has begun negotiations with Algeria, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Saudi Arabia to open Russian cultural centers (Russkii dom) abroad, likely aimed at increasing Russian influence in the Middle East and North Africa.
  • Russian forces made confirmed advances near Kreminna and Avdiivka as positional engagement continued along the entire frontline.
  • Ukrainian sources reported that Russian authorities are planning to mobilize Ukrainian teenagers living in occupied Ukraine.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on January 4 streamlining the process for certain Ukrainians to receive Russian citizenship.

For Full Report:

Institute for the Study of Warunderstandingwar.org
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