On December 19, on the 299th day of the war, Russia continued to shell the territory of Ukraine, including with Iranian drones . Iranian UAVs masquerading as Russian Gerani-2s were shot down over the Cherkasy, Nikolaev, Poltava, Depropetrovsk and Kyiv regions of Ukraine. Russia also carried out strikes on Kherson and the region, according to local authorities. In addition, on the eve of Donetsk was fired from the MLRS, the hospital named after Kalinin was under fire. Russian propagandists and representatives of the Russian Foreign Ministry claim that the shelling was carried out by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, including the military used Swedish howitzers.
In the Bakhmut direction , the situation remains tense. Fighting is going on in the suburbs of Bakhmut, including for Experimental, the Armed Forces of Ukraine are not retreating, according to the propaganda channel of Boris Rozhin, an expert at the pro-Russian Center for Military-Political Journalism. Also, the Armed Forces of Ukraine are concentrating forces in the area of the city of Chasov Yar, in particular, in the area of Klescheevka and Kurdyumivka, they have transferred part of the forces from the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions. Bakhmut himself is also held by the Armed Forces of Ukraine (Russian propaganda calls him Artemovsk). At the same time, Ukrainian forces can pull infantry into the area of the city in order to prevent its capture by Wagner PMC fighters, writes the Military Observer Telegram channel close to the Russian Ministry of Defense. The Russian army at this time, according to the Rozhin channel, is advancing in the Podgorodny area and in the industrial zone.
Fighting continues in Marinka in the Donetsk direction , the Russian army is trying to capture the city. Social networks publish videos of a tank battle between the Russian army and the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
According to propaganda channels, including the state agency RIA Novosti, Russia has already occupied the center of the city. One of the most famous military observers on the Rybar Telegram channel claims that a motorized rifle brigade of the RF Armed Forces is advancing through the center of Maryinka. VGTRK reporter Alexander Sladkov also claims that Russia has occupied most of the city. Difficulties in advancing, according to him , are caused by mud that sticks to berets “five kilograms each”, as well as minefields and open space. Spotter drones of the Armed Forces of Ukraine see Russian positions and aim their artillery, Sladkov added.
Armed Forces Colonel in reserve, military expert Roman Svitan, with whom The Insider spoke, explained that positional battles have been going on in Marinka for the past eight years. Either they take it “to the middle of the city”, or the Armed Forces of Ukraine knock out the Russians from there, and go out along Aleksandrovka, so the “Maryinsky group” is constantly moving. Now the Armed Forces of Ukraine have really moved away from the eastern part of the city, Svitan confirms, since the Russians have smashed it and ground the fortifications. The Russians entered Maryinka only halfway, the Armed Forces of Ukraine are destroying them with artillery, a similar situation has developed more than once in eight years. According to Svitan, it is very convenient to hold the defense in this area of Marinka, this is called "positional warfare", in which there is a level of active defense.
Now it is difficult for the army to move because of the weather, the expert notes. According to him, Ukrainian troops can advance in the agglomerations near Svatovo and Kremennaya, where there are two roads from Kupyansk - a railway and a highway to Svatovo and a road from Chervonopopovka to Kremennaya. It is possible to pass along the road there, but in other directions, apart from artillery duels, there is nothing precisely because of the weather conditions, Svitan assured. He claims that in the near future there will be a “reverse movement” - the center or the whole of Maryinka will be Ukrainian, and then the Russian Federation will again go on the offensive.
Russia bombards Kyiv with Iranian drones
On the night of December 19, 35 Iranian Shahed drones attacked Kiev, 30 of them were shot down, the press service of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported . The city had an emergency power outage . There are hits to critical infrastructure. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said after the strikes that Russia had received 250 Shahed-136 kamikaze drones from Iran.
Judging by the published photos, Ukrainian energy facilities were also attacked by Shahed-131 (Geran-1) kamikaze drones with new MD275 engines, according to military Telegram channels. "Military informant" drew attention to the fact that the previous version of the UAV was equipped with an MDR208 engine. The Ukrainian Armed Forces also stated that Shahed-131s were also used in the strikes.
Publicly "Shahed-131" with the new engine was shown by Iran this fall.
NASA has published a satellite image of Ukraine plunged into darkness after another missile strike on December 16.
Svitan told The Insider that despite the fact that almost all launched drones shoot down, Russia hopes to cause serious damage to Ukraine:
“Even if five drones pass and five transformers are destroyed, at least five transformers are destroyed, which means that five districts of Kyiv are de-energized. Plus, downed drones fell on the city, that is, a combat defeat is inflicted on the capital of Ukraine. There is military logic in this, and therefore the strikes will continue until we begin to destroy the production sites of these missiles and the operators of these drones.
According to him, in order to accomplish this, Ukraine must have weapons with a range of more than one thousand kilometers, so that the Armed Forces of Ukraine can calculate and destroy launchers along with drones. This is how the Armed Forces of Ukraine did it in Crimea, which is why the Russian Federation moved installations from Crimea and started launching drones from the Yeysk airfield in the Krasnodar Territory, Svitan claims.
“Now we will find the range and we will work in the Krasnodar Territory, as before in the Crimea. For each such move there is a counter-move, it just takes time. In the end, this will stop when we start destroying launchers, factories for the production of these drones and drone operators. This is the best option."
Shelling of Belgorod
Authorities in Russia's border regions continue to report strikes. On the eve of Belgorod and the Belgorod region came under fire, the head of the region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said that an air defense system had worked over the city. He claims that rocket debris damaged a poultry farm in the area. In one of the districts, windows in apartment buildings were shattered, there is damage to private cars and the private residential sector. One person died during the shelling, eight more were injured.
Complex "Borshchevik" for hunting for Starlink
The private company "Sestroretsk Arms Plant" has created a direction-finding complex "Borshchevik" for hunting Starlink terminals, tests of the mobile complex should be completed soon. It is designed to detect terminals, it is claimed that the complex can detect a location at a distance of up to 10 km with an accuracy of 60 meters.
After the outbreak of the war, Starlink satellite Internet terminals began to operate in Ukraine. In the face of shelling of the communication infrastructure, the network is essential for the country's defense capability, it allows the Armed Forces of Ukraine to fight and stay in touch even when the cellular and Internet networks are destroyed. In total, about 20,000 Starlink terminals were handed over to Ukraine. According to Elon Musk, "the operation cost SpaceX $80 million and will exceed $100 million by the end of the year." In mid-October, Musk told the Pentagon that he could no longer fund the network in Ukraine. SpaceX asked the US Department of Defense to cover these costs. But then he promised to do it for free.
Russia wants to use the tactics of the USSR
The Russian military is developing plans for large-scale infantry attacks, similar to the tactics used by the USSR during World War II, adviser to the Ukrainian president Mikhail Podolyak told The New York Times, citing intelligence data. Expert Roman Svitan told The Insider that Russia can indeed use such tactics, since it has no other option.
“Technologically, Russia is a backward country, that is, the weapons that it was able to somehow accumulate, it has already used. Therefore, only manpower and antediluvian means of destruction from the last millennium remained. It is with the help of these means - old tanks, old artillery and a large amount of manpower - that they will carry out infantry attacks. Of the forces and means that they have, infantry attacks are carried out in the Bakhmut area as part of small BTGs from 10 to 30 people - a platoon, squad or maximum company, but this is rare.
They are left with only infantry tactics, which is what Podolyak says. And, perhaps, the use of infantry offensives in large numbers of military personnel not ready for combat operations on equipment that practically does not exist. The Russians are now mobilizing citizens in waves, and these mobilized waves will be thrown onto the front line with small arms. This is all they can, but they will do it because they have a large mobilization resource - about 15 million people and a large country. They can perform this kind of task by destroying their people. They have no other options."
Read also The Insider's summary of the main results at the front by the end of last week: “A massive strike on Ukraine,“ unidentified flying objects ”near Volgograd, the Russians will throw themselves into the war. What's going on at the front .