Ukraine war briefing: ‘Third of Russia’s Black Sea fleet sunk or crippled’

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  • Ukraine’s navy claims it has sunk or disabled a third of all Russian warships in the Black Sea in just over two years of war. Dmytro Pletenchuk from the navy said the latest strike on Saturday night hit the Russian amphibious landing ship Kostiantyn Olshansky, which was resting in dock in Sevastopol in Russia-occupied Crimea. The ship was Ukrainian before being captured by Russia in 2014.

  • Pletenchuk previously announced that two other landing ships of the same type, Azov and Yamal, also were damaged in Saturday’s strike along with the Ivan Khurs intelligence ship. He said the weekend attack, using Ukraine-built Neptune missiles, also hit Sevastopol port facilities and an oil depot. “Our ultimate goal is complete absence of military ships of the so-called Russian Federation in the Azov and Black Sea regions,” Pletenchuk said.

  • Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has replaced the secretary of Ukraine’s national security council, Oleksiy Danilov, with Oleksandr Lytvynenko, 51, head of the foreign intelligence service. Danilov had been secretary of the council since October 2019. Zelenskiy said Danilov was being transferred to new duties, with details to be made public later. “The strengthening of Ukraine and the renewal of our state system in all sectors will continue.”

  • Ukraine has staged further air attacks on Belgorod, just over the border inside Russia. The regional governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov, reported damage on the ground and claimed air defence engaged 18 incoming targets.

  • Nato is considering shooting down Russian missiles that stray too close to its borders, Poland’s deputy foreign minister, Andrzej Szejna, has told Polish media outlet RMF24. “[Russia] knew that if the missile moved further into Poland, it would be shot down. There would be a counterattack.” Poland’s armed forces said Russia violated Poland’s airspace on Sunday morning with a cruise missile launched at targets in western Ukraine.

  • Ukraine’s government is flooding money into its defence industry, budgeting nearly $1.4bn in 2024 to develop weapons at home – 20 times more than before Russia’s full-scale invasion, the Associated Press has reported. A huge portion of weapons are being bought from privately owned factories sprouting up across the country, such as a mortar factory in western Ukraine making roughly 20,000 shells a month. To help with labour shortages, the government has exempted defence industry workers from military service.

  • Compared with last year, Ukraine’s output of mortar shells is about 40 times higher and its production of ammunition for artillery has nearly tripled, said Oleksandr Kamyshin, Ukraine’s minister of strategic industries. There has also been a boom in drone startups, with the government committing roughly $1bn on top of its defence budget.

  • There are about 200 companies in Ukraine now focused on drones, delivering 50 times more of them in December compared with a year earlier, according to Mykhailo Fedorov, the minister of digital transformation. Ukrainian-made sea drones have proven to be an effective weapon against the Russian fleet in the Black Sea.

  • Ukraine’s surge in military spending has occurred against a backdrop of $60bn in US aid being held up by Congress and with European countries struggling to deliver enough ammunition. Ukraine couldn’t defeat Russia without massive support from the west, said Trevor Taylor, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, a London-based thinktank. “Ukraine is not capable of producing all the munitions that it needs for this fight.”

  • Ukrainian security officers arrested two people suspected of acting on behalf of Russia as they tried to blow up a railway line used to supply weapons to the front, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) said. The detainees, from the Kyiv and Kharkiv regions, planted an explosive device by the line in central Poltava region and planned to detonate it remotely but were caught red-handed, the SBU said.

  • In Kharkiv and parts of the south-eastern Zaporizhzhia region, 200,000 people remained without electricity after last Friday’s attacks on the country’s energy infrastructure. Emergency power outages have also reportedly been introduced in Ukraine’s Black Sea port city of Odesa.

  • Russia is trying to expand its forces in its own north-west, the UK’s Ministry of Defence has said in an update, adding that most of Russia’s troops remain dedicated to fighting in Ukraine.



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