Key Takeaways from the ISW:

  • Ukrainian officials continue to warn that Russia maintains its maximalist objectives and additional goals for territorial conquest in Ukraine, despite recent comments made by Western officials suggesting that Russia is already defeated.
  • Ukraine will very likely receive the first batch of F-16s before the end of 2023.
  • The Russia Aerospace Forces (VKS) reportedly lost three Su-34 attack aircraft in southern Ukraine between December 21-22.
  • The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) named Russian President Vladimir Putin’s close ally and Secretary of the Russian Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, as the individual responsible for the assassination of Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin.
  • The Kremlin continues to position itself as a neutral arbitrator in the Israel-Hamas war despite its recent increasing anti-Israel rhetoric.
  • US President Joe Biden signed an executive order on December 22 granting the US Treasury Department the authority to impose sanctions on banks and other financial institutions that facilitate Russian sanctions evasion.
  • Russian officials continue to downplay deteriorating Russian-Armenian relations, possibly as part of a concerted campaign to improve the bilateral relationship amid concerns about Russia’s waning influence in the South Caucasus.
  • Russian forces made confirmed advances northeast and southwest of Bakhmut and southwest of Avdiivka and continued positional engagements along the entire line of contact.
  • A Ukrainian intelligence official reported that Russian forces are intensifying force generation efforts to keep pace with the rate of Russian losses in Ukraine so that they can sustain ongoing offensive operations along the front.
  • Kremlin-appointment Commissioner on Children's Rights Maria Lvova-Belova outlined new social support measures meant to further integrate occupied Zaporizhia Oblast into Russia during a working visit to the occupied oblast on December 22.

Authors: Kateryna Stepanenko, Riley Bailey, Angelica Evans, Karolina Hird, George Barros, and Frederick W. Kagan.

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