Key Takeaways from the ISW:

  • German outlet BILD stated on December 14 that unspecified intelligence findings and sources indicate that Russia plans to occupy Ukrainian territory beyond the four (illegally) annexed Ukrainian oblasts throughout 2024-2026.
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov threateningly urged Ukraine to negotiate with Russia sooner rather than later in framing consistent with the ISW assessment that Russia intends to achieve its maximalist objectives in Ukraine through military means.
  • Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba published an op-ed entitled “There is a Path to Victory in Ukraine” on December 15, wherein he argues that Ukrainian military objectives remain feasible despite increasingly pessimistic discussions in the West.
  • Russian forces conducted a series of missile and drone strikes against Ukraine on the night of December 14 to 15.
  • Finnish authorities closed Finland’s border checkpoints with Russia again on December 15 amid continued Russian hybrid warfare efforts to orchestrate an artificial migrant crisis.
  • Germany announced new military and humanitarian aid packages to Ukraine on December 14.
  • Russian forces continued offensive operations near Kupyansk, northeast and near Bakhmut, near Avdiivka, west and southwest of Donetsk City, in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area, and in western Zaporizhia Oblast and made confirmed advances in several areas.
  • Kremlin newswire TASS reported on December 14 that “Grom” special units (elite anti-drug special units of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs [MVD]) will fully transition to being subordinated to Rosgvardia in early 2024.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin highlighted Russia’s intention to build high-speed railways in occupied Ukraine, likely hours after Ukrainian partisans damaged a key railway line in occupied Zaporizhia Oblast.

Authors: Christina Harward, Angelica Evans, Riley Bailey, and Frederick W. Kagan.

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