Key Takeaways from the ISW:

  • Ukrainian forces continue operations on the east (left) bank of the Dnipro River in Kherson Oblast amid reported difficult conditions in the area as part of an apparent effort to set conditions for future Ukrainian operations and the resettlement of west (right) bank Kherson Oblast.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin’s supporters formally nominated him as an independent candidate for the 2024 presidential elections on December 16, further solidifying Putin’s image as a figure above the Russian political system.
  • Russia’s First Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Dmitri Polyanskiy more clearly defined recent statements from high-ranking Russian officials that align with ISW’s long-standing assessment that Russia is unwilling to negotiate with Ukraine in good faith.
  • Russian forces launched another series of Shahed-136/131 drone strikes across Ukraine overnight on December 15 to 16.
  • The Financial Times (FT) reported on December 15 that the G7 may consider using frozen Russian assets to fund Ukraine.
  • Russian actors continue information operations aimed at discrediting and dividing Ukraine’s military and political leadership, specifically Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Commander-in-Chief General Valerii Zaluzhnyi.
  • A Russian “Storm-Z” assault unit instructor implied that Russian President Vladimir Putin lied about the unregulated status of private military companies (PMCs) during his “Direct Line” forum on December 14 given the state’s significant administrative control over PMCs and other irregular formations.
  • 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 on December 16 and advanced in some areas.
  • A Russian milblogger claimed that Russia will have at least ten Project 22350 Admiral Gorshkov-class frigates in an unspecified time period.
  • Ukrainian Mariupol Mayoral Advisor Petro Andryushchenko and the Ukrainian Telegram channel Mariupol Resistance stated on December 16 that Ukrainian partisans recently blew up the car of the commander of an unspecified Russian unit from the North Caucasus in occupied Mariupol.

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

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