Click here to see ISW's Interactive Map. This map complements the static control-of-terrain maps that ISW daily produces with high-fidelity and, where possible, street-level assessments of the war in Ukraine.

The West should pay close attention to the Chinese military's preparations for urban combat, as these efforts will have profound effects on China's policy toward Taiwan and elsewhere. 

In this 2019 report, Nataliya Bugayova breaks down the trajectory of Russian foreign policy after the fall of the USSR. She argues that the US mistakingly believed that a brief period of non-assertive foreign policy from the mid-1980s to mid-1990s was the new norm for Russia.

A Russia-prosecuted war in Ukraine, Europe's largest country by landmass and home to 44 million people, would be a generation-defining humanitarian and geopolitical disaster. ISW is closely monitoring Russia's military posturing on Ukraine's border.

The West has had some success in countering the Kremlin since Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea, but Russian President Vladimir Putin has found ways to offset external pressures on Russia without relinquishing his gains and goals.

Latest from ISW

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, December 8

German Chancellor Olaf Scholtz stated that the risk of Russian nuclear escalation is currently low, partially supporting ISW’s previous assessments. Scholtz stated that “Russia stopped threatening to use nuclear weapons” because an international "red line” contributed to "putting a stop" to Russian nuclear escalation threats on December 8. ISW has always assessed that Russian nuclear escalation in Ukraine was unlikely. Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated Russia’s official position on nuclear weapons, including Russia’s non-first-use policy, on December 7. Both Scholtz’s and Putin’s statements support ISW’s previous assessment that while Russian officials may engage in forms of nuclear saber-rattling as part of an information operation meant to undermine Western support for Ukraine, Russian officials have no intention of actually using them on the battlefield.

Iran Crisis Update, December 8

The Iranian regime executed a protester on December 8 for the first time since the Mahsa Amini protests began. The Judiciary announced the execution of 23-year-old Mohsen Shekari after convicting him of “waging war against God.” Security forces arrested Shekari for blocking a road and attacking a security officer with a machete during protests in Tehran in September 2022.

Iran Crisis Update, December 7

Anti-regime strikes and demonstrations sustained momentum on December 7 as nation-wide calls to protest entered their third and final day. Social media users documented significant strike activity in commercial centers throughout Iran on December 7, in line with the calls from protest coordinators and organizations for countrywide strikes from December 5 – 7. Protest activity similarly continued into December 7, particularly among university students. CTP documented larger crowd sizes on December 7 than on December 5 and 6, although fewer overall protests occurred on December 7 than on December 5, a pattern corresponding to some protest organizations’ calls for more concentrated demonstrations on the last day.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, December 7

Russian President Vladimir Putin is setting conditions for a protracted war of conquest in Ukraine. During a meeting with the Russian Presidential Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights (HRC), Putin remarked that the “special operation” in Ukraine can be a “lengthy process” and that the acquisition of new territory is a significant result of this process for Russia. Putin compared himself favorably with Russian Tsar Peter the Great by noting that Russia now controls the Sea of Azov, which Peter the Great also fought for. This invocation of Russian imperial history explicitly frames Putin’s current goals in Ukraine as overtly imperialistic and still maximalist. Putin is conditioning Russian domestic audiences to expect a protracted, grinding war in Ukraine that continues to seek the conquest of additional Ukrainian territory.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, December 6

The Kremlin directly responded to Russian rumors of a second wave of mobilization in an apparent effort to manage growing societal concern and recentralize information about the war with the Russian government and its authorized outlets. Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov on December 6 urged Russians to rely on communications from the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and the president and to ignore the “provocative messages” published on social media platforms such as Telegram regarding a second wave of mobilization. Peskov’s statement is likely aimed at discrediting the growing influence of both Russian opposition and pro-war Telegram channels that have been consistently reporting on indicators of the Kremlin’s intention to resume mobilization in 2023. Russian President Vladimir Putin is also increasing measures to prevent mobilized men and their families from complaining about mobilization problems. Putin, for example, signed a law banning rallies in government buildings, universities, schools, hospitals, ports, train stations, churches, and airports—likely to suppress riots and protests among mobilized men and their families.

Iran Crisis Update, December 6

Countrywide strikes continued throughout Iran on December 6. The extent of the ongoing strikes demonstrates the continued momentum of the protest movement even though strikes do not appear as dramatic as crowded demonstrations in images and videos. The regime has threatened strikers but cannot easily force them to stop. Some businesses and shops that have not been able to close completely have instead refused customers service and transactions, according to some journalists.