Key Takeaways from the ISW:

  • Russia's likely capture of Marinka in Donetsk Oblast represents a limited Russian tactical gain and does not portend any operationally significant advance unless Russian forces have dramatically improved their ability to conduct rapid mechanized forward movement, which they show no signs of having done.
  • Localized Russian offensive operations are still placing pressure on Ukrainian forces in many places along the front in eastern Ukraine, however, and can result in gradual tactical Russian advances.
  • Ukrainian forces conducted a successful missile strike that destroyed a Russian Black Sea Fleet (BSF) vessel and potentially damaged port infrastructure in occupied Feodosia, Crimea on December 26.
  • Russian forces struck a train station in Kherson City where civilians were waiting for evacuation on December 26.
  • Russian forces have reportedly decreased the tempo of their operations on east (left) bank Kherson Oblast, likely in connection with decreasing Russian aviation activity after Ukrainian forces recently shot down several Russian aircraft.
  • The Ukrainian government continues efforts to systematize and increase the sustainability of Ukrainian mobilization over the long term.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin continued to portray himself as a gracious Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Armed Forces, while contrasting his apparent attention to the Russian irregular forces’   with the Russian Ministry of Defense’s (MoD) incompetence.
  • Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) member states met during a series of meetings in St. Petersburg on December 25 and 26.
  • Russian actors seized on ongoing protests in Serbia against Serbian President Alexander Vucic to blame Western actors for causing instability in Serbia, which Russia perceives as a long-term European ally.
  • A prominent Kremlin-affiliated Russian milblogger claimed that Finland is becoming a “second Ukraine,” creating rhetorical parallels between Russian narratives about Ukraine and Finland, further suggesting that Russia maintains future ideological and territorial objectives that far exceed the war in Ukraine.
  • Russian forces made confirmed advances near Kupyansk, Avdiivka, Marinka, and Robotyne as positional engagements continued along the entire line of contact.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a series of laws on December 25 to help further bolster Russia’s force generation capacity.
  • The Kremlin further formalized avenues to coerce residents of occupied Ukraine to receive Russian passports using maternity capital payments.
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