During the Thursday morning rush hour, Russian air and sea-based missiles once again targeted Ukraine’s urban centers – Moscow’s apparent response to the news that Kyiv could expect to receive M1 Abrams main battle tanks (MBTs) from the United States, and Leopard 2 MBTs from Germany and other NATO member nations.
Ukrainian officials reported strikes on two energy facilities in the southern region of Odesa, while it was claimed that 47 out of the 55 Russian missiles were shot down.
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The missile strikes had followed a drone attack overnight – reportedly involving two dozen Iranian-made unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). All of the attack drones were destroyed according to Ukraine.
Since October, as the Kremlin’s forces were pushed back on the battlefield, Russia has engaged in a terror campaign that has targeted Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure and cities.
Hypersonic Missile Used
There were reports that the Kremlin had employed the Kh-47 Kinzhal hypersonic missile, among other ordnance, according to a report from Reuters. At least one person – a 55-year-old man – was killed in Kyiv, as crowds of people took cover in the capital’s metro stations during the nationwide air alert. It is the city’s first attack-related death in the New Year and the first such barrage of Russian missiles across the country since January 14.
“The goal of the Russians remains unchanged: psychological pressure on Ukrainians and the destruction of critical infrastructure,” General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, Ukraine’s top military commander, announced via the Telegram social messaging platform. “But we cannot be broken!”
The Ukrainian Air Force claimed that as many as six Russian Tu-95 (NATO reporting name “Bear”) long-range aircraft had taken off from the Arctic region of Murmansk in Northern Russia and launched a number of long-range missiles. Those aircraft may have been moved to the base to keep them out of range of Ukrainian drones, which had successfully struck Russian bases near Moscow last year.
Ukraine to Receive Tanks
As noted, the attacks came a day after the United States pledged to send thirty-one MBTs, which could be significant to Ukraine’s war effort. However, some military analysts have suggested that the 100 or so Leopard 2s, along with a dozen British Challenger 2 MBTs and the American tanks fall short of the number needed to be a true “game-changer” for Ukraine.
To truly turn the tide, Ukraine would need hundreds – possibly 300 to 400 or more – MBTs to effectively push back Moscow’s forces. However, the tanks are part of other aid efforts that include M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles from the United States, French AMX-10 RC wheeled tank destroyers, German Marder and Swedish CV90 Infantry Fighting Vehicles. Combined, Ukraine could soon be equipped with a serious amount of Western hardware.
“The sooner we defeat Russia on the battlefield using Western weapons, the sooner we will be able to stop this missile terror and restore peace,” Yuriy Sak, advisor to Ukraine’s minister of defense, told BBC Radio 4’s “Today” program on Thursday.
The tanks and other vehicles could begin to arrive in Ukraine in the coming months. However, Kremlin officials were quick to suggest that the tanks will make little difference and are likely to “burn” on the battlefield.
Author Experience and Expertise: A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.