Key Takeaways from the ISW:

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin’s December 1 decree is likely a formal recognition of the Russian military’s current end strength and not an order to immediately increase the number of Russian military personnel.
  • Ukrainian air defense coverage along the front line is reportedly incentivizing Russian forces to rely more heavily on remote strikes with glide bombs.
  • Ukrainian officials appealed to international organizations to investigate video footage published on December 2 showing Russian forces killing surrendering and reportedly unarmed Ukrainian soldiers.
  • Russian forces launched a series of missile and drone strikes on the night of December 2 and 3.
  • The Russian government is likely continuing attempts to censor relatives of mobilized Russian military personnel on social media out of concern about their protests’ possible negative effect on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s still unannounced 2024 presidential campaign.
  • A prominent Russian milblogger claimed to have given a “masterclass” to press heads and communications personnel at Russian state-owned defense conglomerate Rostec, likely in support of an effort that allows the Russian government to normalize the war without directly involving the Kremlin.
  • The milblogger’s “masterclass” represents an avenue by which the Kremlin can further benefit from milbloggers and shows how possible financial incentives could temper milbloggers’ criticisms of the Russian leadership.
  • Russian forces conducted 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 and advanced near Avdiivka.
  • Russia continues to use the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) to indoctrinate Russian children into Russian nationalism and set conditions for long-term force generation efforts.
  • Russian occupation officials continue to strengthen the Kremlin-backed United Russia party in occupied Ukraine ahead of the March 2024 Russian presidential elections.

Authors: Kateryna Stepanenko, Riley Bailey, Grace Mappes, Angelica Evans, and Frederick W. Kagan.

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