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Dec 26, 2023, 4:21pm EST
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Semafor Signals

Ukraine hits key Russian warship in boost for embattled Kyiv

Insights from The Kyiv Independent, Kyiv Post, and The Financial Times

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REUTERS/Yoruk Isik
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The News

A Ukrainian missile strike hit a Russian warship in Crimea on Tuesday, in one of the most significant attacks against Moscow’s Black Sea Fleet in months. Ukrainian officials said it was unlikely that the damaged 370-foot-long landing vessel could be repaired.

The attack comes a day after Ukraine announced it had shot down five Russian fighter jets in three days. Celebrating the attacks, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, “This Christmas sets the right mood for the whole next year.”

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But the Kremlin also claimed a victory, saying that Russian troops had taken control of the town of Marinka, a key Ukrainian fortification on the eastern front.

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SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Ukraine goes on the defensive amid growing adversity

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Sources:  
PBS, The Kyiv Independent, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, Foreign Policy

After holding off Ukraine’s counteroffensive for months, the Russian military “since October has been trying to seize initiative across the front in a couple of areas,” military expert Michael Kofman told PBS. Kyiv’s depleted forces are digging in for defensive operations as they seek to consolidate their hard-won gains and prepare for the next counteroffensive, which Western officials have said Ukraine may not be able to mount until 2025. It comes as artillery rationing, political infighting, and wavering support from the U.S. and Europe all threaten Kyiv’s efforts to shore up the frontlines.

Ukraine’s strategy: make Crimea untenable

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Sources:  
Kyiv Post, The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy, The Economist

As Kyiv’s counteroffensive stumbled, a series of long-range strikes on Crimea provided rare battlefield successes this autumn. Strikes in Crimea forced the Russian navy to retreat and have reportedly destroyed 20% of Moscow’s Black Sea fleet so far. Ukraine hopes that its strikes on the occupied peninsula will limit the flow of supplies and make Russian military positions untenable. “The shortest path to Ukrainian victory runs through Crimea”, two analysts wrote in Foreign Policy earlier this month. But questions remain about the pace at which Ukraine can continue this bombing campaign: “The challenge for Ukraine will be keeping this pressure up” if stocks of long-range missiles dwindle, The Economist’s defense editor wrote.

F-16s will finally arrive, but are “less helpful” to Ukraine now

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Sources:  
Forbes, Reuters, The Bulwark

Ukraine is due to receive its first shipments of the much-vaunted F-16 fighter jets soon, which supporters have long hoped would be a game-changer for the country’s outgunned air force. But Ukraine’s Commander-in-Chief, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, said in November that F-16s will be “less helpful” now than they would have been a year ago because Russia has improved its air defenses. While F-16s will help narrow the gap between Ukraine’s Soviet-era air force and Russia’s more powerful airfleet, Russia’s latest fighters still have more powerful radars and longer range missiles than the F-16s. So far, Ukraine’s air defenses have kept Russia’s air force in check, blunting Moscow’s aerial superiority.

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