Key Takeaways from the ISW:

  • Russia is conducting an information operation to misrepresent NATO’s defensive Steadfast Defender 2024 exercises – a response to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and Russian threats directed towards NATO members - as provocative.
  • Russian forces will be able to determine the location, tempo, and operational requirements of fighting in Ukraine if Ukraine commits itself to defensive operations throughout 2024 as some US officials are reportedly pressing Kyiv to do.
  • US officials reportedly assess that Ukraine will have to fight a long war and continue efforts to secure as much security assistance as possible for Ukraine before 2025 while expecting that positional fighting may continue in Ukraine until 2026.
  • Russia is trying to mend its relationship with South Korea to mitigate the impacts of its growing reliance on North Korea.
  • Protests in support of an imprisoned prominent Bashkort activist continued in the Republic of Bashkortostan, but Kremlin mouthpieces denied reports that the protests are significant in scale.
  • The Russian government continues efforts to codify legal oversight of the activities of migrants living in Russia.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree allocating funds for the search, registration, and legal protection of Russian property abroad, which includes property in former territories of the Russian Empire and Soviet Union.
  • Russian forces recently made confirmed advances southeast of Kupyansk, and Ukrainian forces recently regained positions southeast of Kupyansk amid continued positional engagements along the entire line of contact.
  • The Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) “Vostok” Battalion stated on January 19 that it will resume fighting on the frontlines in Ukraine when the period of positional fighting ends and will “continue to serve” after the war, presumably subordinated to Rosgvardia.
  • Russian occupation authorities continue to leverage the provision of social benefits and healthcare to augment passportization efforts in occupied Ukraine.

Authors: Christina Harward, Riley Bailey, Angelica Evans, Karolina Hird, Grace Mappes, George Barros, and Frederick W. Kagan.

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