Key Takeaways from the ISW:

  • The New York Times (NYT) published an oped by a member of its editorial board calling for Ukraine to engage in negotiations with and cede territory to Russia after reports emerged that Russian President Vladimir Putin is using backchannels and intermediaries to signal his interest in a ceasefire. The oped largely ignores near-constant Kremlin public signaling of Russia’s continued maximalist goals in Ukraine.
  • Russia has officially deployed a battalion formed of Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) to the frontline in Ukraine, further confirming a myriad of apparent Russian violations of the Geneva Convention on POWs.
  • Recent incidents of apparent Russian violations of the Geneva Convention on POWs likely implicate elements of the now notorious 76th Guards Air Assault (VDV) Division in the abuse of POWs.
  • The Russian military command will reportedly disband the "Kaskad" operational combat tactical formation of the Donetsk People’s Republic’s (DNR) Internal Affairs Ministry (MVD) by December 31, 2023, likely as part of Russia's ongoing force formalization campaign.
  • Ukrainian military officials revealed that Russian forces launched about 7,400 missiles and 3,900 Shahed drone strikes against Ukraine since launching the full-scale invasion.
  • Russian mines continue to threaten civilian vessels in the Black Sea but will likely not deter civilian vessel usage of the Black Sea Humanitarian Corridor.
  • The US Department of Defense (DoD) announced a $250 million security assistance package for Ukraine on December 27.
  • Imprisoned Russian ultranationalist and former Russian officer Igor Girkin acknowledged the end of his presidential campaign after failing to register with the Russian Central Elections Committee (CEC) on December 27.
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) rewarded prominent Russian milbloggers for their contribution to the "military-patriotic" and "military-political" sphere, mirroring previous Kremlin efforts to pander to and co-opt to the wider Russian milblogger community.
  • Ukrainian forces made a confirmed advance near Bakhmut, likely within the past week.
  • Russian forces made confirmed advances northwest of Avdiivka, near Marinka, and south of Hulyaipole.
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced on December 28 that Russia has over 640,000 contract servicemen (kontrakniki), the first Russian announcement about the number of kontrakniki in the Russian Armed Forces since the start of the full-scale invasion.
  • Russian occupation officials continue to deport Ukrainian children to Russia under the guise of medical necessity, despite an apparently growing number of cases of highly infectious diseases being transmitted among Ukrainian children en route to Russia.
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