Today, Ukrainian forces launched a hunt on the Russian missile launchers that conducted the strike on Kharkiv City.
As you remember, Russian forces exploited the fact that the city is located just 25 kilometers from the border, giving the Ukrainian air defense virtually no time to react. Moreover, in the case of Kharkiv, Russians also resorted exclusively to S-300 and Iskander missiles, which reach a speed of around 8000 kilometers per hour and have a ballistic trajectory.
The Ukrainian Air Force Spokesman reported that only Patriot systems are capable of dealing with such threats. Recently released footage indicates that the combination of all these factors allowed Russians to inflict a lot of damage.
Geolocated footage confirms that Russians struck a big hotel in the center of the city and a residential building. Russian sources claimed that they were used by Ukrainian soldiers. Russian sources also claimed that they struck a former tank factory, a tram depot, and other military objects. And judging by the fact Russians used up to 10 rockets in total, there is no doubt that the other 8 caused a lot of inconveniences, to say the least.
The good news is that Russians in Belgorod are as close to the border as Kharkiv, so the retaliation was inevitable. In fact, Ukrainians launched a counterstrike the moment the Russian strike ended. As the rough location of the Russian missile launchers was revealed by Ukrainian radars that detected the missiles, Ukrainians immediately sent their drones into the region to hunt them down.
Local residents reported hearing a lot of explosions somewhere outside the city. Later, the Russian Ministry of Defense reported that they shot down 13 drones and claimed that the drones were operating in coordination with multiple-launch rocket systems. And Ukrainians indeed have multiple-launch rocket systems that have a good reach, such as Uragans.
The information revealed by the Russian Ministry of Defense suggests that Ukrainians used dozens of drones to scan the region, and once they found Russian military equipment, it was immediately targeted by the artillery.
The use of multiple-launch rocket systems also makes sense as it allows correcting the fire without reloading if rockets are launched individually and quickly drive away from the spot once the salvo is completed.
The most prominent Russian sources reported that the heaviest fire was in the western part of the Belgorod region, precisely where Russians have a big military base. Such operations continued through the night till morning.
During the day, several explosions were reported in the middle of Belgorod City. Ukrainian special force representatives reported that they did not have any targets inside the city and that the destruction was caused by the ineptitude of the Russian air defense operators.
To be fair, Russian air defense operators indeed proved that they pose a much greater threat to their own aviation rather than Ukrainian because, over the last month, the Russian air defense destroyed 2 Russian fighter jets, killing all pilots. Russians also put the S-300 misile launchers, which they use both for strikes and air defense, right behind the city, so it expected that Ukrainians would be aiming there.
Nonetheless, Russian sources reported that Ukrainians purposefully hit civilians to spoil the New Year as an act of retribution for the Russian strike.
To everyone’s surprise, the final word was said by the Russian Ministry of Defense, which admitted that the destruction was caused in the aftermath of the air defense work.
The Russian Ministry of Defense added that Ukrainians will answer for this crime. The Russian Ministry of Defense also claimed that Ukrainians launched this strike not as a direct retaliation to the Russian strike, seizing a perfect opportunity for hunting down Russian Iskanders and S-300 launchers, but for the purpose of diverting media attention from the lack of success on the fronts.
Some Ukrainian analysts noted that this is somewhat ironic, as Russians had launched 5 offensive operations, incurred tens of thousands of losses, and did not even get close to operationally significant results. It is true that Russians have generated a series of tactical gains along the front line, but the purpose of operations is to achieve operational gains, such as their goal of encircling Avdiivka.
The operation started almost 3 months ago and was planned to be another blitzkrieg where Russians needed to advance by 3 kilometers from each side in 3 days and completely cut off all supplies to the settlement. 3 months later, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is standing right on the main supply road that Russians aimed to cut, while Ukrainian soldiers successfully continue holding defense.
Ukrainian fighters in Avdiivka pulled off an extraordinary feat by repelling some of the biggest Russian ground assaults ever. It is in the absence of results proportionate to the losses incurred that Russians may have actually conducted the recent massive strike, just like last year.
In our daily frontline report, we pair up with the military blogger Reporting from Ukraine to keep you informed about what is happening on the battlefield in the Russo-Ukrainian war.