Key Takeaways from the ISW:

  • A Ukrainian intelligence official reported that Russian forces lack the necessary operational reserves to conduct simultaneous offensive efforts in more than one direction in Ukraine.
  • Russian Security Council Deputy Chairperson Dmitry Medvedev reiterated on January 17 that the elimination of Ukrainian statehood and independence remains one of Russia’s core war aims.
  • Ukraine successfully employed a Ukrainian-refurbished hybrid air defense system (FrankenSAM) for the first time.
  • Germany and France announced additional military assistance to Ukraine on January 16.
  • The Russian ultranationalist community will likely concretize xenophobia and insecurities about Russia’s ethnic composition as key shared principles within the community in 2024, as Russian ultranationalists continue to seize on incidents involving migrants and non-ethnic Russian groups to call for anti-migrant policies and express growing hostility towards non-ethnic Russians in Russia.
  • The Kremlin’s ongoing attempt to court the Russian ultranationalist community will likely generate increasing friction between the Kremlin’s desired rhetoric and policies concerning migration and interethnic relations and those of Russian ultranationalists.
  • Significant protests erupted in Baymak, Bashkortostan Republic, following a Russian court’s guilty verdict for a prominent Bashkort activist, prompting a swift Russian government response as well as backlash from the Russian ultranationalist community.
  • Widespread Russian milblogger complaints about an Uzbek community leader in Russia prompted the Russian Investigative Committee to open a criminal investigation, suggesting that the Russian government may feel increasing pressure to respond to milblogger demands as the ultranationalist information space coalesces around xenophobic and anti-migrant ideals.
  • The Russian military command continues to convict Russian officers in cases associated with Ukrainian strikes as part of a likely effort to improve discipline across the Russian military.
  • The Kremlin continues efforts to expand Russia’s influence in Africa through the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and the MoD-controlled Africa Corps.
  • The threat of US secondary sanctions is reportedly having a large-scale effect on Turkish-Russian financial ties.
  • Positional engagements continued along the entire line of contact on January 17.
  • Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence (GUR) Representative Andriy Yusov confirmed that Russian authorities are increasing the size of the Rosgvardia contingent in occupied Ukraine to strengthen occupational control.

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

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