Key Takeaways from the ISW:

  • A combination of artillery ammunition shortages and delays in the provision of Western security assistance is likely causing Ukrainian forces to husband materiel and may delay future Ukrainian counteroffensive operations.
  • Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief General Valerii Zaluzhnyi declined to comment on recent Western reporting about Ukrainian counteroffensive and Russian offensive plans for 2024.
  • Ukrainian Air Force Spokesperson Colonel Yuriy Ihnat stated on December 18 that Russian forces have enough drones to launch daily strikes against Ukraine from different directions.
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) is reportedly forming four new military transport aviation (VTA) regiments, although these efforts are likely aimed at reorganizing existing VTA units in support of Russia’s force posturing rather than adding new capability in the short term.
  • The Russian Government Commission on Legislative Activity supported a bill that would criminalize “Russophobia” abroad, likely as part of ongoing efforts to maintain and increase Russian influence in post-Soviet countries.
  • Russian officials simplified requirements to obtain Russian citizenship for Belarusian, Kazakh, and Moldovan citizens amid continued hostility towards migrants in Russian society.
  • The European Union (EU) adopted its 12th sanctions package in connection with Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
  • Russian forces continued offensive operations along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line, near Bakhmut, near Avdiivka, west and southwest of Donetsk City, and in western Zaporizhia Oblast and made a confirmed advance southwest of Donetsk City.
  • Former Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) People’s Militia Spokesperson Eduard Basurin claimed that more than 25,000 Russian personnel are serving with Cossack volunteer formations in Ukraine as of December 18.
  • Kremlin-appointed Children’s Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova continues to deny Russian and Belarusian involvement in the forced deportation of Ukrainian children from occupied areas.

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

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