Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, February 15, 2024

February 15, 2024 - ISW Press

Russian forces are conducting a tactical turning movement through Avdiivka likely to create conditions that would force Ukrainian troops to withdraw from their positions in the settlement. Ukrainian forces have yet to fully withdraw from the settlement and continue to prevent Russian forces from making gains that are more significant than the current incremental Russian advances. Geolocated footage published on February 15 indicates that Russian forces recently advanced to the southern outskirts of the Avdiivka Coke Plant in northwestern Avdiivka. Additional geolocated footage published on February 15 indicates that Russian forces captured a Ukrainian fortified position south of Avdiivka that has long been a Russian sub-tactical objective, and Russian milbloggers widely claimed that Russian forces effectively encircled nearby Ukrainian positions south of Avdiivka.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, February 14, 2024

February 14, 2024 - ISW Press

Ukrainian forces successfully sank another Russian Black Sea Fleet (BSF) landing ship in the Black Sea off the southern coast of occupied Crimea on the night of February 13 to 14. The Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) published footage on February 14 showing Ukrainian maritime drones striking the Caesar Kunikov Ropucha-class landing ship off the coast of occupied Alupka, Crimea. The GUR reported that maritime drone strikes caused the ship to sink and stated that Russian search and rescue operations were not successful. The GUR stated that the Caesar Kunikov was the largest amphibious landing ship of its project 775 type. Ukrainian forces have destroyed or damaged at least five BSF landing ships since the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Ukrainian Navy Spokesperson Captain Third Rank Dmytro Pletenchuk stated that only five of 13 BSF landing ships that Russia had at the start of the full-scale invasion remain “in service” and that “four ships are under repair, four are destroyed, and five are still in the ranks.”

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, February 13, 2024

February 13, 2024 - ISW Press

The US Senate passed a supplemental appropriations bill that would provide roughly $60 billion of security assistance to Ukraine, the vast majority of which would go to US companies and personnel. The Senate passed a $95.3 billion aid package for assistance to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, $60.6 billion of which is for Ukraine, by a 70-29 vote on February 13. Roughly 16 percent of the Ukraine-related appropriations in the bill would go directly to support the Ukrainian government and economy whereas the remaining 84 percent of the appropriations are specifically marked for US manufacturers and US or allied government entities supporting Ukraine.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, February 12, 2024

February 12, 2024 - ISW Press

Ukraine’s Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported that elements of Lebanese Hezbollah (LH) and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) are training Russian drone operators at the Shayrat Air Base in Syria. The GUR stated that LH and IRGC trainers are training Russian operators how to use Shahed-136/-131, Ababil-3, and Qods Raab 85 drones and that LH commander Kamal Abu Sadiq is heading the training effort. Iranian-backed militias and Russian forces are located at Shayrat Air Base, which is the second largest Iranian air base in Syria’s Homs Province after the Tiyas T-4 Air Base.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, February 11, 2024

February 11, 2024 - ISW Press

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appointed Lieutenant General Oleksandr Pavlyuk as Ukrainian Ground Forces Commander, replacing current Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi. Zelensky also made several other service head appointments on February 11. Zelensky appointed Lieutenant General Yuriy Sodol as Joint Forces Commander replacing Lieutenant General Serhiy Nayev. Zelensky appointed Brigadier General Ihor Skybyuk Air Assault Forces Commander replacing Major General Maksym Myrhorodskyi. Zelensky appointed Major General Ihor Plahuta Territorial Defense Forces Commander replacing Major General Anatoliy Barhylevych, who was appointed Chief of the Ukrainian General Staff on February 10.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, February 10, 2024

February 10, 2024 - ISW Press

Delays in Western security assistance may lead to significant Ukrainian air defense missile shortages that could allow Russian forces to bomb Ukrainian forces or even front-line cities more aggressively. The Russian military has yet to conduct consistent large-scale aviation operations supporting Russian ground offensives in Ukraine, and the intensification of Russian aviation operations at scale would represent a significant threat to Ukraine.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, February 9, 2024

February 9, 2024 - ISW Press

The Russian online community noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin did not offer any new information in his interview with American media personality Tucker Carlson and simply repeated longstanding Kremlin talking points about Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine for American audiences.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, February 8, 2024

February 8, 2024 - ISW Press

Russian President Vladimir Putin attempted to use an interview with American media personality Tucker Carlson published on February 8 to present to a wider Western audience a long-standing Kremlin information operation that falsely asserts that Russia is interested in a negotiated end to its war in Ukraine. Putin illustrated throughout the interview that Russia has no interest in meaningful or legitimate negotiations, however, and that Putin still seeks to destroy Ukraine as a state. Putin also displayed his overarching hostility towards the West and falsely accused the West of forcing Russia to attack Ukraine. Putin repeatedly stressed that Russia is open to negotiations in order to falsely frame Russia as a reasonable actor and “Western ruling elites” as the main obstruction to a negotiation. Putin also repeatedly reiterated a Russian information operation alleging that Western officials coerced Ukraine to reject an agreement favorable to Russia during negotiations between Ukraine and Russia in Istanbul in March 2022.

Fact Sheet: US Assistance to Ukraine

February 8, 2024 - ISW Press

US aid to Ukraine does not lack oversight nor has corruption in Ukraine diverted it.

America’s NATO and Asian allies and other European states have committed more money to support Ukraine than the United States.

Ukraine is not a “forever war” for the United States because Americans are not fighting this war.

Sending military aid to Ukraine increases America’s military readiness and reduces the risk that the United States will have to fight Russia itself.

The United States is not sending Ukraine a “blank check.”

The Kremlin's Occupation Playbook: Coerced Russification and Ethnic Cleansing in Occupied Ukraine

February 8, 2024 - ISW Press

The war in Ukraine is primarily a war for control of people, not land. Russian President Vladimir Putin has invaded Ukraine twice not mainly because he desires Ukraine’s land, but rather because he seeks to control its people. Putin’s project, explicitly articulated in the 2021 article he published justifying the 2022 full-scale invasion, is the destruction of Ukraine’s distinctive political, social, linguistic, and religious identity. Putin seeks to make real his false ideological conviction that Ukrainians are simply confused Russians with an invented identity, language, and history that a small, Western-backed minority is seeking to impose on the majority of inhabitants.