Ukraine resisted drone attacks but significant tactical victory for Russia will embolden Putin

Overnight, Russia launched several waves of drone attacks on Ukraine causing widespread damage across the country.
Ukraine claims a total of 46 attacks were conducted using a blend of ballistic and cruise missiles, plus Shahed 136 drones (supplied by Iran). The Ukrainian air defence systems are becoming increasingly effective at defeating these attacks, with Ukraine claiming they shot down a total of 32 of the incoming missiles and drones.

However, even when the Russian onslaught is successfully targeted the debris of Russian missiles causes significant damage and although the intended target is often protected, the debris plus warhead often falls on to the civilian population to devastating effect.

So why has Russia launched this huge wave of attacks?
It is no coincidence that on Tuesday Ukraine claimed to have successfully attacked a Russian landing ship in the Crimean port town of Feodosia. The resulting explosion suggests the vessel was carrying significant quantities of ammunition and weapons. Russia has admitted the ship was “damaged”, but claims that they shot down two Ukrainian fighter jets involved in the attack – a claim which Ukraine denies.

The UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps claimed the Ukrainian attack demonstrated that the war was not in a stalemate and that Ukraine had destroyed over 20% of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, challenging Russian military dominance of the Black Sea.

However, despite the success of the Ukrainian attack, the key metrics of success are not ships and tanks destroyed, but territory gained. It is now over six months since the start of the much-anticipated Ukrainian spring offensive, yet despite huge Western military and financial support, there has been very limited progress in moving the frontline.
But while Ukraine has been focused on breaking through the Russian lines across a broad front, President Putin’s focus for his Special Military Operation appears to be the Donbas. Following the brutal war of attrition to secure Bakhmut, Russia turned its attention to Avdiivka and Marinka – despite the dreadful seasonal weather, Russia has suffered huge casualties this past few weeks to make progress on this front.
On Christmas Day, Russia claimed it had finally secured Marinka, which was initially denied by Ukraine. However, yesterday the head of the Ukrainian military Gen Valerii Zaluzhnyi admitted Ukrainian forces had now abandoned the ruins of the town.


Although Marinka is a relatively small town, this is a significant tactical victory for Russia. It is a clear indication of Russia’s determination to secure the wider Donbas – despite the winter weather – and will serve to further embolden Putin.
Meanwhile, both the EU and American Congress are struggling to extend vital military and financial support for Ukraine into next year. Neither Russia nor Ukraine will be able to mount a significant military offensive in the near future, and it is looking increasingly difficult to see any way for Ukraine to liberate all its occupied territories.

With Western support for Ukraine’s war effort stagnating at best, pressure will start to increase to negotiate an end to hostilities, even though it will prove incredibly difficult for President Zelenskyy to consider any form of compromise.

Source : Sky News