Espreso. Global

Victorious news of 671st day of war: Ukraine targets Novocherkassk warship, first Ukrainian pilots complete training for F-16 flights

26 December, 2023 Tuesday

Over the past four months, 20% of the Russian Black Sea Fleet has been destroyed, including the landing ship Novocherkassk in Crimea, and 2025 could be a critical year for Russia

Ukrainian forces target Russian landing ship in Crimea

The Ukrainian Armed Forces targeted Russian landing ship Novocherkassk in Crimea. 

Residents of Feodosia in Russian-occupied Crimea reported loud explosions over the city at night. The Ukrainian Armed Forces confirmed that a large landing ship Novocherkassk was hit.

According to eyewitnesses, several explosions were heard in the port area, after which traces of smoke appeared in the sky. Earlier, traffic on the Crimean Bridge was temporarily blocked. The information was confirmed by the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

"And Russia's fleet is getting smaller and smaller! This time, following the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, the cruiser Moskva, a large landing ship Novocherkassk is following," said Mykola Oleshchuk, head of the Ukrainian Air Force.

Later, the Air Force reported that the Novocherkassk large amphibious assault ship was targeted by cruise missiles from tactical aircraft at around 02:30. The Air Force reported it as destroyed. The spokesperson for the Southern Ukrainian Defense Forces, Natalia Humeniuk, said in a telethon that the large detonation was caused not just by the fuel or ammunition of the ship itself, but probably by the cargo on board.

"There was cargo that had to be carefully unloaded. That is, you can't just take out boxes of shells, for example, by truck. It had to be taken out very carefully. "The Shahed drones also had to be unloaded carefully. Therefore, the version that there could have been 'kamikaze' drones on the destroyed Novocherkassk is quite workable," said Ivan Kyrychevskyi, a military expert at Defense Express. 

Ukrainian Armed Forces destroy 20% of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in a few months

UK Defense Secretary Grant Shapps also commented on the strike on the Russian ship in Crimea.

"They haven't noticed that over the past 4 months 20% of Russia's Black Sea Fleet has been destroyed. Russia's dominance in the Black Sea is now challenged and the new UK and Norway led Maritime Capability Coalition is helping to ensure Ukraine will win at sea," Shapps wrote.

By the way, the Novocherkassk large amphibious assault ship was most likely hit by a British Storm Shadow missile. This opinion was expressed on Espreso TV by Defense Express analyst Serhiy Zgurets.

Ukrainian pilots undergo basic training on F-16 fighters

 The first group of Ukrainian pilots has completed basic training in F-16 flying in the UK, the British government's website reports. It is stated that six Ukrainian pilots began their flying and English language training in the UK in August this year. Upon completion, they travelled to Denmark.

"Pilots undergoing the basic flight training scheme are conducting practical lessons in Grob Tutor aircraft with experienced RAF (Royal Air Force - ed.) instructors, learning general handling procedures, instrument flying, medium and low-level navigation, and formation flying," the statement said.

Another ten pilots who participated in the language training will remain in the UK to continue their practical basic flight training and study aviation medicine. In parallel with the pilots, technicians who will continue to maintain the aircraft were also trained.

According to the General Staff, over the day, Ukrainian aviation struck 17 areas where Russian personnel, weapons and military equipment were concentrated, as well as 5 Russian anti-aircraft missile systems. Air defense destroyed 2 Kh-59 guided missiles and one reconnaissance UAV. Missile troops hit the area of concentration of personnel, weapons and military equipment, a command post, an artillery system and 3 other important enemy targets. 

2025 will be critical year for Russia 

Viktor Yahun, a reserve major general of the Security Service of Ukraine, military and public figure, believes that 2025 will be a critical year for Russia.

"The enemy understands that 2024 is the last year when Russia is still able to conduct military operations at the pace we are seeing now. Russia is still able to mobilize a certain category of people, it is still able to use the remnants of the equipment it has. The Russians are still financially capable of carrying out something, but 2025 is a critical year for them. And they do not want to enter that critical year without realizing that they have a chance to stop the war, agree on something, and get a conditional respite," Yahun explained.

The Ukrainian Security Service reserve major general also added that the Russia is ready to talk to anyone but Ukraine.

"Russia sends messages that it is ready to talk, but there is a nuance. The nuance is that Russians are ready to talk to the West. They are ready to negotiate with the US, with NATO, with Brussels, with anyone, but not with Ukraine. The Russians' concept is simple: Ukraine does not solve anything, let us talk to you and decide the fate of Ukraine, divide it in half, and forget this conflict. Conscious Western politicians will not go for this, but there is a certain political circle that is pushing this. Because every war ends in negotiations," Yahun said.

South Korea extends export sanctions against Russia and Belarus over war in Ukraine 

The goods are believed to be used for military purposes, although they are not classified as strategic goods under South Korea's export control scheme.

South Korean officials have said that in response to the invasion of Ukraine, export controls against Russia and Belarus will be strengthened by significantly expanding the list of goods subject to export restrictions, including excavators, batteries and large vehicles.

South Korea's Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy has added another 682 items relating to heavy construction equipment, batteries, aircraft components, machinery and more to the list of goods banned from shipment to Russia and Belarus. The new resolution will increase the total number of items on the list from the current 798 to 1159.

The amendments are expected to come into force in early 2024, following the completion of the relevant administrative procedures and the issuance of instructions to exporters by the government. The Ministry said it would consider "exceptional cases" for exports to both countries on a case-by-case basis.

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