Mon. Apr 15th, 2024

Content Assessment: Russia's Unprecedented Missile and Drone Onslaught on Ukraine

Information - 94%
Insight - 93%
Relevance - 92%
Objectivity - 93%
Authority - 95%



A short percentage-based assessment of the qualitative benefit expressed as a percentage of positive reception of the recent synthesis of reporting from the Institute for the Study of War on the Russo-Ukrainian War.

Source Note: One of the most accurate and detailed sources for ongoing updates on the Ukraine crisis is the Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment from the Institute for the Study of War. The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) is a 501(c)(3) organization and produces strictly non-partisan, non-ideological, fact-based research. ISW seeks to promote an informed understanding of war and military affairs through comprehensive, independent, and accessible open-source research and analysis. ISW’s research is made available to the general public, military practitioners, policymakers, and media members. Providing a daily synthesis of key events related to the Russian aggression against Ukraine, ISW updates may benefit investigators and litigators as they follow the business, information technology, and legal trends and trajectories impacted by and stemming from the current Russo-Ukrainian conflict.

 For those seeking to grasp the full scope of this evolving landscape, the complete updates from the Institute for the Study of War serve as an invaluable resource.

Russo-Ukrainian Conflict Update*

Russia’s Unprecedented Missile and Drone Onslaught on Ukraine

ComplexDiscovery Staff

On December 29, 2023, Russian forces executed their largest series of missile and drone strikes against Ukraine since the onset of the full-scale invasion, marking a significant escalation in the conflict. This offensive comprised a diverse array of weaponry, including 36 Shahed-136/131 drones and over 120 missiles, targeting various cities and regions such as Kyiv, Kharkiv, Lviv, Dnipro, Zaporizhzhia, Odesa, and the oblasts of Sumy, Cherkasy, and Mykolaiv. This formidable assault resulted in the launching of 160 projectiles toward Ukraine, of which Ukrainian forces were able to intercept 27 Shaheds and 88 Kh-101, Kh-555, and Kh-55 missiles.

Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief General Valerii Zaluzhnyi reported that the initial wave of attacks, primarily using Shahed drones, originated from the north, southeast, and west in the early hours. This was followed by a barrage of at least 90 Kh-101, Kh-555, and Kh-55 cruise missiles, along with eight Kh-22 and Kh-32 missiles. Additionally, Russian forces employed modified S-300 air defense missiles and launched 14 S-300, S-400, and Iskander-M ballistic missiles from occupied Crimea and Russia. A notable aspect of this offensive was the use of five Kinzhal hypersonic air-launched ballistic missiles, four Kh-31P anti-radar missiles, and one Kh-59 cruise missile, targeting undisclosed locations in Ukraine.

The targets of these strikes were not limited to military and industrial facilities. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reported significant damage to civilian infrastructure, including a maternity hospital, educational institutions, a shopping center, a commercial warehouse, and residential buildings across various Ukrainian cities.

The December 29 strikes represent the culmination of months of Russian experimentation with drone and missile combinations aimed at probing and testing Ukrainian air defenses. Russian forces have been noted to frequently use Shahed-type drones to determine the most effective strike routes, circumventing Ukrainian air defense systems. This particular assault seems to be a product of lessons learned from these reconnaissance and probing missions, with an emphasis on using drones to bypass defenses while missiles inflict maximum damage. Notably, Ukrainian forces were unable to intercept any Kh-22/Kh-32 missiles, ballistic missiles (S-300s, Iskander-Ms), Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, Kh-31P anti-radar missiles, or Kh-59 cruise missiles, indicating the effectiveness of the Russian strategy.

This ongoing offensive campaign is part of Russia’s broader strategy to degrade Ukrainian morale and disrupt the country’s ability to sustain its war effort. The targets have often included not just military installations but also residential areas and key infrastructures, with the apparent goal of causing societal discontent and amplifying existing tensions within Ukraine.

In the backdrop of these events, the Kremlin has shown a significant ability to mobilize and utilize its defense industrial base (DIB). Despite Western sanctions, Russia has managed to expand its DIB, partly by procuring military equipment from countries like North Korea and China. This has allowed Russia to assemble diverse and large-scale strike packages, highlighting the resilience and adaptability of its military-industrial complex.

On the Ukrainian side, the reliance on Western military aid, particularly air defense systems, remains critical. This support has been instrumental in Ukraine’s ability to intercept a substantial number of Russian missiles and drones, thereby mitigating the impact of these strikes. Western leaders, recognizing the significance of these events, have largely viewed the massive Russian strike as evidence that President Putin’s goals in Ukraine remain unchanged. The consensus among these leaders is that Putin is not genuinely interested in a ceasefire or a negotiated settlement but rather in achieving his maximalist war aims.

The Russian offensive campaign on December 29, 2023, stands as a stark reminder of the ongoing intensity and complexity of the conflict in Ukraine. It spotlights the evolving nature of warfare, the critical role of air defense systems, and the enduring geopolitical tensions shaping the region’s future.

Additional Information

We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because those activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We will continue to evaluate and report on the effects of these criminal activities on the Ukrainian military and population and specifically on combat in Ukrainian urban areas. We utterly condemn these Russian violations of the laws of armed conflict, Geneva Conventions, and humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.

Detailed Reporting with Maps for December 29, 2023, from the ISW – Mouseover to Scroll

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, December 29, 2023 (PDF)

Review the Detailed Reporting and Maps PDF

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* Sourced and shared with direct express permission from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

Source: ComplexDiscovery


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