On day 316 of the war, Ukraine is getting new French tank killers, while the Russian military is relocating its long-range nuclear bombers to the east in an attempt to prevent more Ukrainian attacks against their bases.
War Update: French AMX-10 to Ukraine
In a call between French President Emmanuel Macron and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the French leader announced his decision to send an unspecified number of AMX-10 wheeled tank destroyers to Ukraine. A 6×6 wheeled vehicle with a potent 105mm medium pressure gun, the AMX-10 can help the Ukrainian forces destroy more Russian tanks.
Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden told reporters on Wednesday that the option to provide Ukraine with M2/M3 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles is on the table. The Bradley is a potent weapon system that could be particularly useful to the Ukrainian forces as they prepare for future counteroffensives when the weather and operational conditions allow it.
Meanwhile, Ukraine has achieved an important milestone. Artillery shells made in the country are now finding their way to the front. This is a key step in ensuring that the Ukrainian military can sustain its strategic initiative and cotinine to push the Russian forces back.
But still, Ukraine depends almost exclusively on the West for its artillery munitions. The U.S. alone has sent or committed to sending more than 1.2 million 155mm, 152mm, and 105mm artillery shells to Ukraine, part of a continuous stream of military assistance currently valued at approximately $21 billion. And as the war continues and the Ukrainian forces are steadily replacing their Soviet- and Russian-made weapon systems with NATO ones, Western logistical support will remain key.
Moving the Bombers Away
After several daring Ukrainian strikes against Russian nuclear bomber bases, the Russian military is relocating its long-range aircraft to Russia’s far east, according to the Ukrainian military intelligence.
Moscow is moving its Tu-95MS Bear heavy bombers and Tu-22M3 Backfire medium bombers out of range of further Ukrainian attacks.
“On 5 and 26 December 2022, the LRA’s Engels air base was struck and several aircraft damaged. Russia has highly likely responded to the incidents by conducting a general dispersal of LRA aircraft, especially to airfields further away from Ukraine,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.
Despite the forced relocation, the Tu-95MS Bear and Tu-22M3 Backfire fleets will continue to play an important role in the Kremlin’s strategy in Ukraine. Both aircraft can carry cruise missiles that have a range of more than 3,100 miles. The Russian military has primarily been using bombers, surface warships, and submarines to launch its missile attacks against the Ukrainian urban centers and critical infrastructure because they can operate from outside the Ukrainian air defense umbrella.
“However, operating from dispersal locations will add additional maintenance stress and will further deplete the limited flying hours available on these aging aircraft,” the British Military Intelligence added.
Russian Casualties in Ukraine
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Thursday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 109,720 Russian troops (and wounded approximately twice to thrice that number), destroyed 284 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 271 attack and transport helicopters, 3,041 tanks, 2,051 artillery pieces, 6,108 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 426 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 16 boats and cutters, 4,759 vehicles and fuel tanks, 215 anti-aircraft batteries, 1,844 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 182 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 723 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
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Expert Biography: A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate.