Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, March 12, 2024

March 12, 2024 - ISW Press

The All-Russian pro-Ukrainian Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK), Freedom of Russia Legion (LSR), and Siberian Battalion conducted a limited cross-border incursion into Belgorod and Kursk oblasts on the morning of March 12. Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Spokesperson Andriy Yusov stated on March 12 that elements of the RDK, LRS, and the Siberian Battalion were involved in clashes in Belgorod and Kursk oblasts. Russian sources initially denied reports of the incursion but later claimed that Russian forces repelled Russian pro-Ukrainian forces with tank, armored vehicle, and drone support attacking near Odnorobivka, Kharkiv Oblast and Nekhoteevka and Spodaryushino, Belgorod Oblast. Footage published on March 12 shows Russian pro-Ukrainian forces operating near Nekhoteevka and Spodaryushino in Belgorod Oblast and in Tetkino, Kursk Oblast.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, March 11, 2024

March 11, 2024 - ISW Press

Russia’s increased defense industrial base (DIB) production is likely not sustainable in the medium- and long-term as it will likely suffer from labor shortages, decreased weapons and equipment stockpiles, and an inability to completely compensate for military and dual-use items it can no longer acquire due to sanctions. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on March 11 that a senior NATO official stated that Russia can likely sustain its current war effort for two to five more years. WSJ noted that some Russian production figures, such as those for military vehicles, do not differentiate between newly produced items and refurbished ones brought out of storage, such as older, lower quality T-62 and T-54/-55 tanks. ISW has observed that reports of Russia’s reported tank “production” numbers in recent years largely reflect restored and modernized tanks drawn from storage rather than new production.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, March 9, 2024

March 9, 2024 - ISW Press

Ukrainian forces reportedly conducted drone strikes targeting Rostov Oblast overnight on March 8-9 and may have struck a Russian aircraft plant refurbishing and modernizing Russian A-50 long range radar detection aircraft. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that Russian forces intercepted 41 Ukrainian drones overnight over Rostov Oblast, and eyewitnesses reportedly stated that the strike caused at least five explosions. Geolocated footage of a strike shows an explosion at the Beriev Aircraft Plant in Taganrog, Rostov Oblast.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, March 8, 2024

March 8, 2024 - ISW Press

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reiterated that a ceasefire in Ukraine would allow Russia to rebuild its forces and means for future offensive operations, as Russia previously did following the start of Russia’s 2014 invasion. Zelensky stated on March 8 that a pause in fighting in Ukraine would pose a serious challenge and problem both to Ukraine and all of Europe.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, March 7, 2024

March 7, 2024 - ISW Press

Lithuanian intelligence assessed that Russia has the capability to continue sustaining the current tempo of its war in Ukraine and will likely have the capability to gradually expand its military capabilities in the near term. Lithuanian intelligence published its 2024 national threat assessment on March 7 wherein it assessed that Russia has the manpower, material, and financial resources to sustain its war effort in Ukraine in the near term. Lithuanian intelligence noted that Russia reconstituted and increased its deployed manpower in Ukraine in 2023 despite suffering heavy losses but continues to prioritize quantity of manpower and materiel over quality of forces. Lithuanian intelligence also assessed that Russia’s defense industrial base (DIB) has become a driving force within the Russian economy at the expense of other economic sectors and that Russia had allocated at least 10.8 trillion rubles (about $119 billion) to military spending in 2023.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, March 6, 2024

March 6, 2024 - ISW Press

Ukrainian Ground Forces Commander Lieutenant General Oleksandr Pavlyuk stated on March 6 that Ukraine will try to seize the initiative and conduct unspecified counteroffensive actions in 2024. Pavlyuk stated that Ukrainian forces will aim to stabilize the frontline while degrading Russian forces in order to rotate frontline Ukrainian units to training grounds in the rear for replenishment and restoration. Pavlyuk stated that this will allow Ukraine to create a grouping of forces that will conduct unspecified counteroffensive actions (possibly but not necessarily counteroffensive operations) in 2024.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, March 5, 2024

March 5, 2024 - ISW Press

Ukraine destroyed the Project 22160 Sergei Kotov large patrol ship of the Black Sea Fleet (BSF) off the coast of the Kerch Strait on the night of March 4-5. Ukraine’s Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported on March 5 that GUR special unit “Group 13” conducted the attack against the Sergei Kotov using Magura V5 naval drones, inflicting severe damage on the port and starboard sides of the ship, killing seven sailors, and wounding six. GUR noted that Russian forces were likely able to evacuate 52 other crew members, but that the loss of the ship cost Russia a total of $65 million. Ukrainian sources noted that the Sergei Kotov had either a Ka-29 or Ka-27 helicopter on board, which Ukrainian forces destroyed along with the ship.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, March 4, 2024

March 4, 2024 - ISW Press

Russian Security Council Deputy Chairperson Dmitry Medvedev promoted Russia’s extensive territorial objectives that expand deep into Ukraine’s territory. Medvedev gave a lecture on March 4 called “Geographical and Strategic Borders” at the Russian World Youth Festival, a Kremlin-organized event that includes attendees from more than 100 foreign countries, during which he claimed that “Ukraine is, of course, Russia.” Russian forces currently occupy the east (left) bank of Kherson Oblast, but Medvedev defined all the territories on the left bank of the Dnipro River and many territories on the right bank of the Dnipro River as “integral” to Russia’s “strategic historical borders.” Russian forces currently do not occupy any territory in right-bank Ukraine.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, March 3, 2024

March 3, 2024 - ISW Press

China and Turkey continue to pursue their own negotiation platforms for a settlement in Ukraine, which the Kremlin is exploiting to further its own information operations aimed at discouraging continued international support for Ukraine. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Galuzin and Chinese Special Representative for Eurasian Affairs Li Hiu met in Moscow on March 2 to discuss China’s desire to facilitate peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine. Galuzin and Li noted that it is “impossible” to discuss a settlement in Ukraine without Russia’s participation and without “taking into account [Russia’s] interests in the security sphere.”

Iran Update, March 3, 2024

March 3, 2024 - ISW Press

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) concluded a two-week long operation in Zaytoun neighborhood, southeastern Gaza City on March 3. Israel launched the operation on February 20 to re-clear Hamas fighters from Zaytoun. Palestinian militias sustained a high attack rate targeting Israeli forces throughout the operation and likely infiltrated the area from uncleared areas in the central Gaza Strip. The IDF reported on March 3 that its 162nd Division killed over 100 fighters and destroyed Hamas- and Palestinian Islamic Jihad-affiliated military sites.