LONDON — Russia continued to carry out airstrikes on Ukraine during the first two days of 2023, as fury grew over Ukrainian forces firing rockets at a Russian military base in the occupied city of Makiivka.
The number of casualties varies between Russian and Ukrainian statistics. Moscow claims at least 63 soldiers have died, while Ukrainian officials say it was many more. Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the West should be prepared to provide long-term support to Ukraine.
Below is the latest on the war, now in its 10th month.
Strikes continue into new year
Nearly a year after Russia launched its “special operation” in Ukraine, it began the new year by striking several cities, including residential buildings. From Saturday through Monday morning, airstrikes and drone attacks killed at least five people. Dozens more were injured, including a journalist from Japan.
The strikes came hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annual New Year’s address, during which he wished for peace but said it would “only come after our victory.” Unlike previous years when Putin would give his speech in front of the Kremlin, this year he spoke in front of a group of soldiers decorated with medals.
Russia plans to exhaust Ukraine with drone attacks, says Zelensky
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Monday night that Russia is preparing to launch a prolonged attack on Ukraine using drones in a bid to exhaust “our people, our air defense, our energy sector.” Speaking in his daily address, Zelensky said he had received intelligence that suggested the Russian military would step up its offense and use exploding Iranian drones.
"We must ensure — and we will do everything for this — that this goal of terrorists fails like all the others," Zelensky said. "Now is the time when everyone involved in the protection of the sky should be especially attentive."
Anger over dozens of Russian soldiers killed
At least 63 Russian conscripts were killed on Sunday in an occupied city in eastern Ukraine, according to Moscow. Per Russian reporting, four American-supplied warheads hit a vocational school in the city of Makiivka. Officials in Kyiv disputed the figures supplied by Russia, claiming hundreds of soldiers had been killed.
According to a report by the Institute for the Study of War, there has been “significant criticism of Russian military leadership” by pro-Russian commentators over the attack at Makiivka.
NATO tells West to prepare for ‘long haul’
Stoltenberg said on Monday that Western countries should be prepared to support Ukraine in the long term, as it appears Russia is showing no signs of ending the war. Speaking to BBC’s Radio 4, the NATO chief said the aid would ensure the survival of Ukraine as a sovereign country.
“For the artillery, we need an enormous amount of ammunition, we need spare parts, we need maintenance,” Stoltenberg said. “It is a core responsibility for NATO to ensure that we have the stocks, the supplies, the weapons in place to ensure our own deterrence and defense, but also to be able to continue to provide support to Ukraine for the long haul.”
It was Putin’s partial mobilization order in September that indicated to Stoltenberg that the Kremlin had no intention of bringing an end to the war soon. "The Ukrainian forces had the momentum for several months, but we also know that Russia has mobilized many more forces, many of them are now training," he added.