Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, February 5, 2024
Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, February 5, 2024
Grace Mappes, Nicole Wolkov, Karolina Hird, Riley Bailey, George Barros, and Fredrick W. Kagan
February 5, 2024, 8:40pm ET
Click here to see ISW’s interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.
Click here to see ISW’s 3D control of terrain topographic map of Ukraine. Use of a computer (not a mobile device) is strongly recommended for using this data-heavy tool.
Click here to access ISW’s archive of interactive time-lapse maps of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These maps complement the static control-of-terrain map that ISW produces daily by showing a dynamic frontline. ISW will update this time-lapse map archive monthly.
Note: The data cut-off for this product was 1pm ET on February 5. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the February 6 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.
US Senate negotiators unveiled their proposed supplemental appropriations bill on February 4 that — if passed — would provide roughly $60 billion of security assistance for Ukraine, the overwhelming majority of which would go to American companies and US and allied militaries. The bill provides three main packages of assistance to Ukraine totaling $48.83 billion: $19.85 billion for replenishing weapons and equipment from the US Department of Defense (DoD) inventory; $13.8 billion for the purchase of weapons and munitions for Ukraine from US manufacturers; and $14.8 billion for continued US support to Ukraine through military training, intelligence sharing, and other support activities. The appropriations bill provides that funds can go to foreign countries that have provided support to Ukraine at the request of the US, but the vast majority of the aid — if approved — would go to US companies and US or allied government entities supporting Ukraine. Roughly 16 percent of the Ukraine-related appropriations in the bill would go directly to Ukraine, including $7.85 billion of direct budget support for the Ukrainian government and $1.58 billion for efforts to build a self-reliant Ukrainian economy amid the ongoing Russian invasion. The appropriations bill also provides $1.6 billion in foreign military financing, which must be used to purchase goods and services from the US, to address Ukraine’s and other US partners’ air defense, artillery, maritime security, and maintenance requirements. The appropriations bill provides smaller packages of $300 million to help Ukraine promote the rule of law and protect its borders and $100 million to support demining, counterterrorism, and nonproliferation programs. The bill provides $8 million for the DoD Inspector General to exercise oversight over US security assistance to Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated on February 4 that Ukraine needs to replace a “series of state leaders” across the Ukrainian government who are “not just in a single sector” such as the Ukrainian military. Zelensky responded to a question from Italian outlet Rai News about reports that he may intend to replace Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief General Valerii Zaluzhnyi by stating that he is considering changing multiple “state leaders” and emphasized that this effort involves replacing multiple unspecified individuals, not just “a single person.” Zelensky emphasized the importance of Ukrainian morale, as the Ukrainian leadership “cannot be discouraged” and must maintain the “right positive energy” in order to win the war.
The Kremlin is intensifying rhetoric pushing for the hypothetical partition of Ukraine by seizing on innocuous and unrelated topics, likely in an attempt to normalize the partition narrative in Western discussions about Ukraine. Deputy Chairperson of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev claimed on February 5 that purported European plans to construct a railway line from Spain to Lviv City are evidence of the West’s acknowledgement that Lviv City would be “the new capital of Ukraine within the borders of [Lviv Oblast],” presumably following the end of Russia’s war in Ukraine. The plan, notably, has nothing to do with Ukrainian borders or an end state to the war in Ukraine and is an independent European infrastructure project. Russian President Vladimir Putin and other senior Russian officials have recently reignited the narrative framing the invasion of Ukraine as an historically justified imperial conquest and proposed to a largely Russian-speaking audience in December 2023 that Russia and European powers could partition Ukraine and leave it as “sovereign” rump state within the borders of Lviv Oblast, comments that subsequently gained some attention from a few right-wing nationalist Central European politicians. Medvedev notably posted his February 5 claims on his English-language X (formerly Twitter) account and not on his Russian-language Telegram account, suggesting that his statement was intended for an international audience as opposed to a Russian domestic audience. Medvedev’s statement furthers the Russian information operation that erroneously portrays Ukraine as an artificially constructed state, likely in an effort to reduce Western military support for Ukraine and normalize Western discussions that push Ukraine to cede much of its territory and people to Russia as a legitimate way to end the war. ISW continues to assess that Russian President Vladimir Putin maintains his maximalist objectives in Ukraine, which are tantamount to complete Ukrainian and Western capitulation.
Russian ultranationalists continue to support the Kremlin’s maximalist objectives in Ukraine and reject the notion that negotiations would lead to a lasting end to the war. Deputy Head of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) Main Directorate of Rosgvardia, Commander of its special rapid response and riot police (OMON and SOBR), and prominent Russian milblogger Alexander Khodakovsky claimed that a “truce” would not result in peace and that “achieving lasting peace is only possible through war and the victory” of either Russia or Ukraine. Khodakovsky also claimed that the current period of positional warfare hinders Russian forces from exhausting Ukrainian forces along the entire frontline and argued that Russian forces need to pressure Ukrainian forces and compel Ukraine to commit more resources to battle along the entire frontline. Khodakovsky’s zero-sum framing of the war is indicative of the wider Russian ultranationalist support for the Kremlin’s maximalist objectives of a complete Ukrainian and Western defeat. This zero-sum framing is also incompatible with any serious negotiations for an armistice or lasting peace.
Delays in Western security assistance continue to exacerbate Ukraine’s shell shortage and undermine Ukraine’s ability to use high-value Western counterbattery systems. Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs Ihor Klymenko stated on February 5 that Russian forces intensified their rate of artillery strikes by nearly 25 percent over the last week and shelled Ukraine over 1,500 times, targeting over 570 settlements. The New York Times reported on February 4 that, by contrast, Ukrainian forces in critical areas of the front, such as Avdiivka, are increasingly rationing shells and can therefore only target masses of advancing Russian soldiers, noting that Russian forces have apparently adapted and are now advancing in smaller groups that are harder for Ukrainian artillery to strike. Ukrainian military analyst and retired Colonel Petro Chernyk noted that Ukrainian forces possess relatively better counterbattery capabilities writ large than Russian forces, particularly because they have American AN/TPQ-36, -48, and -50 radars and the German COBRA radar system. Counterbattery radars are effective in that they detect incoming fire and calculate its point of origin so that artillery forces can conduct return fire — for which artillery forces require sufficient artillery ammunition, however. A lack of artillery ammunition thus severely degrades counterbattery systems: AN/TPQ, COBRA, and other Western counterbattery systems are only as effective as the number of shells that Ukrainian forces have at their disposal to pursue the targets that counterbattery radars identify. ISW previously reported that Russian forces are benefitting from the combined dynamic of Ukraine’s ammunition shortage and its subsequent inability to conduct sufficient counterbattery warfare, and this dynamic is likely to become more acute as Ukraine’s period of shell shortages protracts.
The Kremlin may not allow Boris Nadezhdin, the only anti-war Russian presidential candidate, to run in the March 2024 presidential election due to Nadezhdin’s larger-than-anticipated popularity. A Russian Central Election Commission (CEC) working group claimed on February 5 that 15 percent of the signatures that Nadezhdin collected to register as an election candidate were fraudulent and that the CEC recommends not registering him as a candidate. Nadezhdin stated in response to the CEC’s announcement that his campaign plans to collect the 4,500 valid signatures he needs to run and that he will appeal to the Russian Supreme Court if the CEC refuses to register him as a presidential candidate. Nadezhdin previously claimed to have submitted 200,000 signatures to the Russian CEC on January 31. Russian presidential candidates sponsored by political parties need to submit 100,000 signatures with additional regional requirements in order to run in the presidential election, and no more than five percent of the total submitted signatures can be fraudulent. The CEC stated that it will announce its final decision on February 7, but the CEC is unlikely to allow Nadezhdin to run.
Nadezhdin previously stated that he believes the CEC will have to allow him to run in the March 2024 presidential election due to his widespread popularity and that he wanted as many uncontestable signatures as possible so the CEC could not disqualify him. ISW assessed on January 23 that the Kremlin may intend to use the March 2024 election as an unofficial referendum on Russia’s war in Ukraine by allowing Nadezhdin to run in an election that portrays Russian President Vladimir Putin (and by extension his war in Ukraine) as overwhelmingly popular, but the CEC’s February 5 announcement suggests that the Kremlin may have backtracked from this plan out of concern that Nadezhdin might gain too many votes and reduce Putin’s margin of victory below levels the Kremlin is willing to accept. The CEC’s valid signature requirement is the logical mechanism for ending Nadezhdin’s presidential campaign whether or not the Kremlin was initially willing to tolerate the campaign.
Russian officials and sources have increasingly censored and sought to discredit Nadezhdin after Nadezhdin’s campaign gained significant notoriety while collecting signatures. Russian CEC Deputy Chairperson Nikolai Bulaev claimed on February 2 that Nadezhdin’s campaign collected dozens of signatures of deceased Russians and questioned the integrity of the Nadezhdin campaign. Russian opposition outlet Novaya Gazeta recently reported that Nadezhdin’s campaign struggled to find a printing house to print copies of Nadezhdin’s campaign newsletter, citing a source within the campaign. Nadezhdin previously claimed that Russian state television attempted to censor him and his campaign. A Russian ultranationalist milblogger cryptically suggested on January 30 that the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) would “meet” with Nadezhdin prior to the election, implying that the FSB would interrogate or imprison him.
The Kremlin is reportedly nationalizing private enterprises in Russia quietly. Russian opposition outlet Meduza published an investigation on February 5 detailing how the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office uses three main schemes to seize and nationalize assets from Russians despite Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assurances that there will not be nationalization in Russia. Meduza found that Russian courts pursue one scheme through challenging cases regarding the privatization of certain companies that were subject to the widespread privatization efforts of the 1990s. The Prosecutor General’s Office reportedly utilizes this scheme to claim that regional authorities exceeded their powers by privatizing a given company and to demand that it be returned to the state. Meduza reported that the second scheme is to deem owners of private enterprises “foreign investors,” which allows Russian authorities to seize the assets of the private enterprise owners more easily under Russian foreign investment laws. The final avenue for nationalization, according to Meduza, is when the Prosecutor General’s Office seizes assets from defendants accused of corruption or fraud, charges that courts reportedly used more frequently in 2023. ISW has previously observed Russian courts expanding the prosecution of certain cases to broadly suppress dissent, and the Russian Prosecutor General may be employing a similar prosecution strategy as it pertains to property law in order to nationalize private assets using corruption, fraud, and foreign investment laws.
- US Senate negotiators unveiled their proposed supplemental appropriations bill on February 4 that — if passed — would provide roughly $60 billion of security assistance for Ukraine, the overwhelming majority of which would go to American companies and US and allied militaries.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated on February 4 that Ukraine needs to replace a “series of state leaders” across the Ukrainian government who are “not just in a single sector” such as the Ukrainian military.
- The Kremlin is intensifying rhetoric pushing for the hypothetical partition of Ukraine by seizing on innocuous and unrelated topics, likely in an attempt to normalize the partition narrative in Western discussions about Ukraine.
- Delays in Western security assistance continue to exacerbate Ukraine’s shell shortage and undermine Ukraine’s ability to use high-value Western counterbattery systems.
- The Kremlin may not allow Boris Nadezhdin, the only anti-war Russian presidential candidate, to run in the March 2024 presidential election due to Nadezhdin’s larger-than-anticipated popularity.
- The Kremlin is reportedly nationalizing private enterprises in Russia quietly.
- Russian forces made confirmed gains near Kupyansk, Kreminna, Avdiivka, and northeast of Bakhmut amid continued positional fighting along the entire frontline.
- The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) may expand the list of courses available to women at the FSB Academy.
- Russian occupation administrations continue efforts to indoctrinate Ukrainian children into Russian culture and nationalism through patronage networks with Russian federal subjects (regions).
We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because these activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We will continue to evaluate and report on the effects of these criminal activities on the Ukrainian military and the Ukrainian population and specifically on combat in Ukrainian urban areas. We utterly condemn Russian violations of the laws of armed conflict and the Geneva Conventions and crimes against humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.
- Russian Main Effort — Eastern Ukraine (comprised of two subordinate main efforts)
- Russian Subordinate Main Effort #1 — Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and encircle northern Donetsk Oblast
- Russian Subordinate Main Effort #2 — Capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast
- Russian Supporting Effort — Southern Axis
- Russian Air, Missile, and Drone Campaign
- Russian Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts
- Russian Technological Adaptations
- Ukrainian Defense Industrial Base Efforts
- Activities in Russian-Occupied Areas
- Russian Information Operations and Narratives
- Significant Activity in Belarus
Russian Main Effort — Eastern Ukraine
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 forces recently marginally advanced northeast of Kupyansk and west of Kreminna amid continued fighting on the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line on February 5. Geolocated footage published on February 4 shows that Russian forces marginally advanced in northern Synkivka (northeast of Kupyansk) and east of Yampolivka (east of Kreminna). Positional fighting continued northeast of Kupyansk near Synkivka; west of Kreminna near Terny, Torske, and Yampolivka; and south of Kreminna near Bilohorivka (12km south of Kreminna) and Hryhorivka on February 5.
Ukrainian military observer Kostyantyn Mashovets reported that elements of the Russian 1st Guards Tank Army (GTA) (Western Military District [WMD]) failed an initial attempt to encircle a tactical Ukrainian force grouping defending a section of the P07 (Svatove-Kreminna) highway northwest of Svatove but that Russian forces are likely preparing for another attack. Mashovets reported that elements of the 26th Tank Regiment (47th Tank Division, 1st GTA, WMD) and 12th Tank Regiment (4th Tank Division, 1st GTA) attempted to break through Ukrainian defenses along the Kyslivka-Kotlyarivka line (northwest of Svatove and immediately southeast of Stepova Novoselivka) from the north and south, respectively, to enable elements of the Russian 1st Tank Regiment and 15th Guards Motorized Rifle Regiment (both of the 2nd Motorized Rifle Division, 1st GTA) to tactically encircle the Ukrainian force grouping near Stepova Novoselivka (northwest of Svatove) at a later time and eventually push Ukrainian forces in the area east of the P07 highway. Mashovets reported that the 12th Tank Regiment, however, failed to break through the Kyslivka-Kotlyarivka line from the south while the 26th Tank Regiment lost momentum before it could complete the tactical encirclement from the north. Mashovets reported that the 1st GTA’s command has not given up on trying to encircle the Ukrainian force grouping near Stepova Novoselivka and has reinforced the 12th Tank Regiment with elements of the 4th Tank Division for another attempt to break through the Ukrainian lines from the south.
A recent Ukrainian HIMARS strike on occupied Lysychansk, Luhansk Oblast, killed at least one significant Russian occupation official. Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) Head Leonid Pasechnik stated on February 5 that a February 3 Ukrainian HIMARS strike killed LNR Emergency Situations Minister Colonel Alexei Poteleshchenko, and other occupation officials claimed that the strike killed 28 people. Some Russian sources claimed that many of the 28 killed were occupation officials, public prosecutors, and law enforcement officers who had gathered for a celebration. ISW is unable to verify this claim, however.
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 in the Siversk area northeast of Bakhmut. Geolocated footage published on February 3 indicates that Russian forces recently advanced north of Vesele (15km southeast of Siversk).
Positional fighting continued near Bakhmut on February 5, but there were no confirmed changes to this area of the frontline. Ukrainian and Russian sources stated that positional engagements continued near Bohdanivka (northwest of Bakhmut), Klishchiivka (southwest of Bakhmut), and in the direction of Ivanivske (west of Bakhmut). Elements of the Russian 200th Motorized Rifle Brigade (Northern Fleet) and 6th Motorized Rifle Division (3rd Army Corps [AC], Western Military District) reportedly continue to operate near Bakhmut and Klishchiivka, respectively.
Ukrainian forces recently advanced near Avdiivka amid continued positional fighting in the area on February 5. Geolocated footage published on February 5 indicates that Ukrainian forces recently advanced northeast of Nevelske (southwest of Avdiivka). Russian sources claimed that Russian forces advanced in southeastern Pervomaiske (southwest of Avdiivka) and up to one kilometer deep in northern Avdiivka, although ISW has not observed visual confirmation of either of these claims. Russian and Ukrainian sources stated that positional engagements continued northwest of Avdiivka near Novobakhmutivka and Stepove; west of Avdiivka near Tonenke and Sieverne; and southwest of Avdiivka near Pervomaiske and Nevelske. Elements of the Russian 1st Motorized Rifle Brigade and 110th Motorized Rifle Brigade (both of the 1st Donetsk People’s Republic [DNR] AC) reportedly continue operating near Avdiivka and Nevelske, respectively.
Positional engagements continued west and southwest of Donetsk City on February 5, but there were no confirmed changes to this area of the frontline. Russian and Ukrainian sources stated that positional engagements continued west of Donetsk City near Krasnohorivka and southwest of Donetsk City near Novomykhailivka and Heorhiivka. Ukrainian military observer Kostyantyn Mashovets stated that the Russian military is preparing to shift its main effort north of Novomykhailivka in the directions of Oleksandrivka-Novomykhailivka and Marinka-Pobieda (west of Donetsk City) and will use elements of the 20th Motorized Rifle Division (8th Combined Arms Army [CAA], Southern Military District [SMD]) reinforced with elements of the 40th and 155th Naval Infantry (both of the Pacific Fleet) as the main attacking force. Mashovets also stated that Russian forces have replenished the troops, weapons, and equipment of elements of the 40th Naval Infantry Brigade, 155th Naval Infantry Brigade, 33rd Motorized Rifle Regiment, and 255th Motorized Rifle Regiment (both of the 20th Motorized Rifle Division). Mashovets stated that Russian Territorial Troops (TRV) conducted a tactical rotation with assault units of the 1219th and 1465th Motorized Rifle Regiments, which are now operating alongside the elements of the 20th Motorized Rifle Division. Mashovets stated that elements of the Russian 39th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade (68th AC, Eastern Military District [EMD]) and elements of the 1442nd Motorized Infantry Regiment of TRV continue to operate on the Syhnalne-Novomykhailivka and Stepne-Novomykhailivka lines. Mashovets stated that elements of the Russian 39th Motorized Rifle Brigade (68th AC, EMD) conducted the recent unsuccessful mechanized assault near Novomykhailivka, which generated widespread criticism in the Russian information space.
Russian Supporting Effort — Southern Axis (Russian objective: Maintain frontline positions and secure rear areas against Ukrainian strikes)
Positional fighting continued in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area on February 5. Russian and Ukrainian sources stated that positional fighting occurred near Zolota Nyva (southeast of Velyka Novosilka) and Pryyutne (southwest of Velyka Novosilka). Elements of the Russian 1466th Motorized Rifle Regiment (Territorial Troops [TRV]) are reportedly operating near Staromayorske (south of Velyka Novosilka) and elements of the 26th Radiological, Chemical, and Biological Defense Regiment (36th Combined Arms Army [CAA], Eastern Military District [EMD]) are reportedly operating near Novodonetske (southeast of Velyka Novosilka). Combat footage posted on February 3 reportedly shows Ka-52 helicopters of the Russian 11th Air and Air Defense Forces Army (EMD) reportedly conducting strikes in the direction of Malynivka (southwest of Velyka Novosilka).
Positional fighting continued in western Zaporizhia Oblast on February 5, but there were no confirmed changes to the frontline. A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces advanced southeast of Robotyne but added that it is unclear if Russian forces have consolidated those gains. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled four Russian assaults near Robotyne. Elements of the Russian 70th Motorized Rifle Regiment (42nd Motorized Rifle Division, 58th CAA, Southern Military District [SMD]) are reportedly operating near Robotyne.
Russian and Ukrainian forces continued positional engagements in east (left) bank Kherson Oblast, including in Krynky, on February 5. A prominent Kremlin milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces use mobile electronic warfare (EW) systems while trying to cross the Dnipro River but that Russian drones are still effective at striking Ukrainian crossing groups. The milblogger noted that Russian EW systems are not effective against Ukrainian first-person view (FPV) drones in the area. Another milblogger, who has routinely stressed that Ukrainian FPV drones on east bank Kherson Oblast are a major threat, claimed that Russian forces in the area have improved their ability to counter Ukrainian FPV drones.
Russian Air, Missile, and Drone Campaign (Russian Objective: Target Ukrainian military and civilian infrastructure in the rear and on the frontline)
Nothing significant to report.
Russian Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts (Russian objective: Expand combat power without conducting general mobilization)
The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) may expand the list of courses available to women at the FSB Academy. Russian President Vladimir Putin instructed FSB Director Alexander Bortnikov on February 5 to consider expanding the specialties and training areas that the FSB will allow women to study at the FSB Academy. The FSB Academy currently only permits women to study in the Foreign Language Department. Putin did not specify which specialties he recommends that the FSB open to women, but this may be part of an effort to build out FSB recruitment in the long term but opening the academy to a new pool of recruits.
Russian Technological Adaptations (Russian objective: Introduce technological innovations to optimize systems for use in Ukraine)
Russian Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov announced on February 5 that Russia will allocate 100 billion rubles (about $1.1 billion) to drone production through 2027. Manturov stated that Russia will allocate the money to the production of various types of drones, including “hundreds of thousands” of first-person view (FPV) drones and tens of thousands of “heavy” drones (unmanned combat aerial vehicles).
Ukrainian Defense Industrial Efforts (Ukrainian objective: Develop its defense industrial base to become more self-sufficient in cooperation with US, European, and international partners)
Ukraine continues efforts to disperse defense industrial base (DIB) assets to protect them from targeted Russian strikes. Ukrainian drone manufacturer TAF Drones Head Oleksandr Yakovenko stated on February 5 that TAF Drones has dispersed drone production over six unspecified cities and that all 12 of TAF Drones’ production plants move every three months. Yakovenko also noted that TFP Drones produced 18,000 first-person view (FPV) drones in January and is on track to produce 25,000 in February and 30,000 in March, with an intended output of 350,000 FPV drones in 2024. Ukrainian military officials announced that Ukraine intends to produce over 1 million drones in 2024. Dispersing drone production factories will likely aid in safeguarding this production goal from Russian strikes on DIB facilities.
The Netherlands announced on February 5 that it will provide an additional six F-16 aircraft to Ukraine. The Dutch Ministry of Defense (MoD) reported that it decided to send the six F-16s to Ukraine in addition to the 18 F-16s that it initially promised after negotiations on the sale of the aircraft to American aviation company Draken International fell through. Ukrainian pilots will likely train on the F-16 aircraft at the F-16 training center in Romania.
Poland reportedly allocated a new loan for joint Ukrainian-Polish weapons production. Ukrainian President’s Office Deputy Head Ihor Zhovkva announced the loan on February 5 but did not offer specifics about the joint projects that the loan will finance or the amount of the loan.
Activities in Russian-occupied areas (Russian objective: Consolidate administrative control of annexed areas; forcibly integrate Ukrainian citizens into Russian sociocultural, economic, military, and governance systems)
Russian occupation administrations continue efforts to indoctrinate Ukrainian children into Russian culture and nationalism through patronage networks with Russian federal subjects (regions). The Kherson Oblast occupation administration reported on February 5 that it sent 25 Ukrainian children from occupied Kalanchak, Kherson Oblast to a cultural program in the Republic of Mordovia for the New Year holiday. The Kherson Oblast occupation administration also reported that it is jointly implementing youth programs with Pskov Oblast, which will host Ukrainian children to train them as “young activists.”
Russian Information Operations and Narratives
The Kremlin appears to be expanding narratives surrounding Soviet-era monuments to former Warsaw Pact countries in Eastern Europe. Russian Ambassador to Bulgaria Elenora Mitrofanova stated on February 5 that Russian-Bulgarian relations have significantly declined since the start of the invasion of Ukraine and stressed that the dismantling of a monument to the Soviet Red Army in Sofia is a “slap in the face” to the relatives of Bulgarian resistance movement fighters. Bulgarian officials began demolishing the Soviet-era monument in Sofia in December 2023 as part of wider Bulgarian efforts to remove Soviet-era monuments. Russian officials have recently seized on the removal of Soviet-era monuments in post-Soviet countries, particularly in Estonia, to accuse these countries of pursuing escalatory anti-Russian policies. The Kremlin likely aims to use these narratives to set conditions to justify Russian escalations against Russia’s post-Soviet neighbors, and Russia has previously used this narrative to justify hybrid war tactics against these countries. The expansion of this recently intensified narrative to a former Warsaw Pact country suggests that the Kremlin may attempt to use ongoing conversations about Soviet-era monuments to intensify escalatory rhetoric against Central and Eastern European states, including NATO members.
Russian sources seized on reporting about a confiscated shipment of explosive material in Georgia to portray Ukraine as a transnational security threat. The Georgian State Security Service reported on February 5 that Ukrainian, Georgian, and Armenian citizens were involved in the shipment of several IEDs from Odesa through Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Georgia en route to Voronezh Oblast in Russia. Russian sources claimed that the shipment of explosive material was associated with planned Ukrainian terrorist attacks within Russia and asserted that Ukrainian special services routinely organize terrorist activity in countries that are a part of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Russian sources will likely continue to frame any illicit transnational activity involving Ukrainian citizens or Ukrainian-born individuals as being official Ukrainian state activities in an effort to falsely portray the Ukrainian government as a destabilizing force in the region.
Significant Activity in Belarus (Russian efforts to increase its military presence in Belarus and further integrate Belarus into Russian-favorable frameworks and Wagner Group activity in Belarus)
Nothing significant to report.
Note: ISW does not receive any classified material from any source, uses only publicly available information, and draws extensively on Russian, Ukrainian, and Western reporting and social media as well as commercially available satellite imagery and other geospatial data as the basis for these reports. References to all sources used are provided in the endnotes of each update.
 https://www.rainews dot it/amp/maratona/2024/02/lisichansk-almeno-20-i-morti-del-bombardamento-sulla-panetteria-invasione-russa-giorno-711-d9d6d6d6-6010-47cd-b5ea-7a9f309e63d2.html ; https://www.rainews dot it/maratona/2024/02/lisichansk-almeno-20-i-morti-del-bombardamento-sulla-panetteria-invasione-russa-giorno-711-d9d6d6d6-6010-47cd-b5ea-7a9f309e63d2.html#a49d38ca-5529-4b28-8720-7f5239227928
 https://www.rainews dot it/amp/maratona/2024/02/lisichansk-almeno-20-i-morti-del-bombardamento-sulla-panetteria-invasione-russa-giorno-711-d9d6d6d6-6010-47cd-b5ea-7a9f309e63d2.html ; https://www.rainews dot it/maratona/2024/02/lisichansk-almeno-20-i-morti-del-bombardamento-sulla-panetteria-invasione-russa-giorno-711-d9d6d6d6-6010-47cd-b5ea-7a9f309e63d2.html#a49d38ca-5529-4b28-8720-7f5239227928 ; https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/05/world/europe/zelensky-ukraine-war.html ; https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/ukrainian-president-confirms-thinking... https://t.me/sotaproject/73522; https://t.me/bbcrussian/60138; https://t.me/bbcrussian/60155; https://www.bbc.com/russian/articles/c88np5337wno; https://t.me/astrapress/47389
 https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/02/05/syly-oborony-vyperedzhayut-protyvnyka-u-kontrbatarejnij-borotbi-petro-chernyk/
 https://t.me/bazabazon/24992; https://t.me/sotaproject/73528; https://t.me/istories_media/4956; https://www.bbc.com/russian/articles/c84nlv28jnpo; https://t.me/bbcrussian/60153 ; https://t.me/svobodnieslova/3944
 https://t.me/sotaproject/72802; https://meduza dot io/news/2024/01/23/boris-nadezhdin-sobral-100-tysyach-podpisey-dlya-vydvizheniya-na-vyborah-prezidenta-rossii; https://nadezhdin2024 dot ru/; https://t.me/bbcrussian/60153
 https://t.me/bazabazon/24992; https://t.me/sotaproject/73528; https://t.me/istories_media/4956; https://www.bbc.com/russian/articles/c84nlv28jnpo; https://t.me/bbcrussian/60153 ; https://t.me/svobodnieslova/3944
 https://tass dot ru/politika/19883777
 https://verstka dot media/interview-boris-nadezhdin-o-sviaziah-s-kremlem-peregovorah-s-ukrainoy-i-znakomstve-s-putinym
 https://meduza dot io/feature/2024/02/05/putin-natsionalizatsii-ne-budet-genprokuratura-a-my-uzhe-vernuli-gosudarstvu-zavody-putin-chto-to-v-etom-est
 https://www.interfax dot ru/russia/894906
 https://t.me/wargonzo/18005 (Avdiivka)
 https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0ZfSXoEYBGfGUM7pmTrW... https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0CcoMdFWGikimg7V2niZ... ; https://t.me/wargonzo/17993 ; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/61585
 https://t.me/voin_dv/6885 (Satromayorske) ;
 https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0ZfSXoEYBGfGUM7pmTrW... https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0CcoMdFWGikimg7V2niZ... ; https://t.me/dva_majors/33988 ; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7037
 http://www.academy.fsb dot ru/faq.html
 https://topwar dot ru/235709-vice-premer-rf-rossija-za-tri-goda-vydelit-100-mlrd-na-razvitie-i-proizvodstvo-bespilotnikov.html
 https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/02/05/vyrobnyk-droniv-rozpoviv-pro-kochovi-potuzhnosti-ta-pereyizdy-zarady-bezpeky/
 https://www.defensie dot nl/actueel/nieuws/2024/02/05/nederland-haalt-f-16s-uit-de-verkoop ; https://x.com/GloOouD/status/1754508583893381378?s=20; https://t.me/and...
 https://www.defensie dot nl/actueel/nieuws/2024/02/05/nederland-haalt-f-16s-uit-de-verkoop
 https://mil.in dot ua/uk/news/polshha-vydilyla-kredyt-na-spilne-z-ukrayinoyu-vyrobnytstvo-ozbroyennya-zastupnyk-kerivnyka-op/
 https://ssg.gov dot ge/en/news/909/saxelmtsifo-usafrtxoebis-samsaxurma-ramdenime-erteuli-specialuri-asafetqebeli-motsyobiloba-da-didi-raodenobit-asafetqebeli-nivtiereba-amoigho-EN
 https://t.me/epoddubny/18984; https://t.me/epoddubny/18983 ; https://t.me/rybar/56748; https://t.me/tass_agency/230276 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/111814 ; https://t.me/vrogov/14156 ; https://t.me/astrapress/47406; ; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7036