Key Takeaways from the ISW:

  • A recent Russian opinion poll indicates that the number of Russians who fully support the war in Ukraine has almost halved since February 2023 and that more Russians support a withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine than do not.
  • The Russian war in Ukraine has created new social tensions and exacerbated existing ones within Russia, which remain highly visible in the Russian information space despite ongoing Kremlin censorship efforts.
  • The Kremlin is likely concerned about how changing Russian perceptions of the Russian war in Ukraine will affect the outcome of the March 2024 Russian presidential election and is implementing measures to ensure that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actual electoral support does not rest on Russian battlefield successes.
  • Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitri Peskov confirmed on November 30 that Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold his annual live “Direct Line” forum and annual press conference in tandem on December 14.
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov notably did not promote Kremlin information operations feigning interest in negotiations during his speech at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Council of Foreign Ministers meeting in North Macedonia on November 30, and instead promoted escalatory rhetoric about Moldova.
  • Russian forces conducted multiple series of missile and drone strikes on Ukraine that struck civilian infrastructure on November 29 and 30.
  • Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian military bureaucracy is impeding Russian drone usage and acquisition among Russian forces operating on east (left) bank Kherson Oblast amid continued complaints about weak Russian capabilities on the east bank.
  • The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) was reportedly involved in an explosion that caused disruptions on a section of the East Siberian Railway connecting Russia and China on the night of November 29.
  • The Kremlin continues to advance its strategic slow-burn effort to absorb Belarus through the Union State structure.
  • Russian forces continued offensive operations along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line, near Bakhmut, near Avdiivka, west and southwest of Donetsk City, in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area, and in western Zaporizhia Oblast but did not make any confirmed advances.
  • A Ukrainian military observer stated that Russian authorities’ plan to form two tank battalions in about four months using equipment from two long-term weapons and equipment stores indicates a lack of combat-ready weapons and military equipment.
  • Occupation and Russian government officials continue efforts to militarize Ukrainian youth in occupied Ukraine.

Authors: Angelica Evans, Christina Harward, Grace Mappes, Kateryna Stepanenko, and Frederick W. Kagan.

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