Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba announced on January 3 that the NATO-Ukraine Council (NUC) will hold an emergency meeting in response to Russia’s recent mass air strikes against Ukraine.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called the upcoming meeting a “sign of Euro-Atlantic unity in the face of Russian terror” and noted that strengthening Ukraine’s air defense will be one of the meeting’s key topics. The NUC met for the first time on November 29, 2023, to discuss the roadmap to full Ukrainian interoperability with NATO and steps to increase weapons and ammunition production.
- Russia and Ukraine exchanged hundreds of prisoners of war in the biggest single release of captives since Russia began its full-scale invasion in February 2022. Ukrainian officials said that 230 of its prisoners were released while Russia said 248 of its soldiers were returned following mediation by the United Arab Emirates.
- Russia said Ukraine launched attacks on its Belgorod and Kursk regions, as well as the Crimean Peninsula that Moscow invaded and annexed from Ukraine in 2014. Belgorod regional Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said the situation remained “tense” after 12 missiles were shot down over the region. Some 25 people were killed in an air attack on Belgorod on Saturday. There were no reports of casualties from Wednesday’s attacks.
- Two people were killed and one injured after 134 Russian strikes hit the Zaporizhia region over the 24 hours to Wednesday, according to Yuriy Malashko, the head of Ukraine’s regional military administration.
- One person was killed in heavy Russian shelling of Ukraine’s southern Kherson region including its main city.
- One person was killed and one injured after Russia launched four missiles on the eastern town of Avdiivka, Donetsk regional head Vadym Filashkin said in a Telegram message. The town, not far from Donetsk, which is occupied by the Russians has been the scene of intense fighting for weeks.
- The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence said Russia’s military might have changed its strike strategy in Ukraine to target the country’s defence industry rather than energy infrastructure as it did last winter. “Russian planners almost certainly recognise the growing importance of relative defence industrial capacity as they prepare for a long war,” the ministry said in its latest intelligence update.
- Oleksandr Syrskyi, the commander of the Ukrainian army’s ground forces, said Russian forces were continuing their offensives in Bakhmut and Kupyan on the eastern front with fighting in Bakhmut particularly intense. Syrskyi said Russian forces had suffered losses in Lyman and were regrouping in preparation for a new offensive.
- Russia said four people were injured after its aircraft accidentally bombed the village of Petropavlovka in southwest Russia on Tuesday. There was also damage to houses, a school and some administrative buildings as well as to vehicles.
- The European Union imposed sanctions on Alrosa, the world’s biggest diamond miner, to further squeeze Russian sources of revenue. The company’s CEO, Pavel Alekseevich Marinychev, was also sanctioned. Alrosa accounts for more than 90 percent of all Russian diamond production, according to the EU.
- Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said the country will need more than $37bn in foreign funding this year, and that Kyiv was counting on “stable and timely assistance” from its international partners to help keep its economy going.
- Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said inspectors had been denied access to parts of Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station for two weeks and had yet to receive 2024 maintenance plans for the facility.
- Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said Western countries should tighten sanctions against Russia and provide Kyiv with long-range missiles that will enable it to target “launch sites and command centres”.
- Norway will send two F-16 fighter jets to Denmark so Ukrainian pilots can train to use the US-made aircraft. Ten Norwegian instructors have already been sent to Denmark to help train the pilots.
- Russia and Ukraine conducted a prisoner of war (POW) exchange on January 3 in what was the largest POW exchange of the war to date and the first official POW exchange since August 2023.
- Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal stated on January 3 that Ukraine plans to increase its defense industrial base (DIB) output six-fold in 2024.
- Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba announced on January 3 that the NATO-Ukraine Council (NUC) will hold an emergency meeting in response to Russia’s recent mass air strikes against Ukraine.
- NATO member states continue initiatives to support Ukrainian operations in the air domain.
- Kremlin-affiliated mouthpieces may be setting information conditions to blame the West for a potential future conflict in the Arctic.
- Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev characterized Russia as Kazakhstan’s “main partner and ally” in an interview published on January 3 despite recent efforts to distance Kazakhstan from Russia.
- Russian forces made confirmed advances near Avdiivka and Donetsk City as positional engagements continued along the entire line of contact.
- The Donetsk People’s Republic’s (DNR) “Vostok” Battalion stated on January 3 that the unit will continue to operate subordinated to Rosgvardia and will not be impacted by the Russian military’s reported dissolution of the “Kaskad” operational combat tactical formation of the DNR’s Internal Affairs Ministry (MVD).
- Russian authorities continue efforts to integrate occupied Ukraine into Russia using infrastructure projects and social outreach programs.
Russian Subordinate Main Effort #1 – Luhansk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and northern Donetsk Oblast)
Russian and Ukrainian forces continued positional engagements along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line on January 3, but there were no confirmed changes to the frontline in this area. Positional fighting continued northeast and east of Kupyansk near Synkivka, Lake Lyman, and Petropavlivka and west and southwest of Kreminna near Terny and the Serebryanske forest area. ... Ukrainian Ground Forces Commander Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi reported that Russian forces are regrouping and conducting glide bomb strikes in the Lyman direction.
Russian Subordinate Main Effort #2 – Donetsk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)
Russian forces recently made a confirmed advance northwest of Bakhmut. Geolocated footage posted on January 2 shows that Russian forces, likely elements of the 98th Airborne (VDV) Division, advanced north of the O0506 Bakhmut-Khromove road between Bohdanivka and Khromove. Several milbloggers also claimed on January 3 that Russian forces advanced northwest of Bakhmut in forest areas along the O0506. Ukrainian Ground Forces Commander Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi noted that intense fighting is ongoing near Bohdanivka and that Russian forces are trying to advance towards Chasiv Yar (west of Bakhmut). Milbloggers also claimed that Russian forces advanced southwest of Bakhmut near Klishchiivka and Kurdyumivka, although ISW has not observed visual confirmation of Russian gains in this area. Russian and Ukrainian sources reported positional engagements northwest of Bakhmut near Bohdanivka and Khromove, west of Bakhmut near Ivanivske, and southwest of Bakhmut near Kurdyumivka, Klishchiivka, and Andriivka. Elements of the Russian 98th and 106th VDV Divisions and of the Northern Fleet reportedly continue to operate in the Bakhmut direction.
Russian forces recently made a confirmed advance southwest of Avdiivka. Geolocated footage posted on January 3 shows that Russian forces made a marginal gain on the northwestern bank of the Izmaylovsky Pond on the outskirts of Pervomaiske (southwest of Avdiivka). .... Positional engagements continued northwest of Avdiivka near Novobakhmutivka, Stepove, and Berdychi; on the northwestern and southeastern outskirts of Avdiivka; and southwest of Avdiivka near Nevelske and Pervomaiske. Elements of the Donetsk People's Republic 114th Motorized Rifle Brigade (1st DNR Army Corps) and Russian Spetsnaz continue to operate in the Avdiivka area.