Key Takeaways from the ISW:

  • The Kremlin and US officials rejected rumors about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s willingness to engage in meaningful negotiations amid continued indications from the Kremlin that Russia seeks nothing less than full Ukrainian and Western capitulation.
  • Russian demands for Ukrainian “neutrality” and a moratorium on NATO expansion have always been and continue to be one of Putin’s central justifications for his invasion of Ukraine, and any hypothetical concession on these demands would represent a major strategic and rhetorical retreat on Putin’s behalf that Putin is extremely unlikely to be considering at this time.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated boilerplate Kremlin narratives that blame Ukraine for the war while also highlighting Russian forces in the Soledar direction.
  • The circumstances of the January 24 crash of a Russian Il-76 military transport aircraft in Belgorod Oblast remain unclear.
  • The European Union (EU) will provide Ukraine with an additional five billion euros to meet “urgent military needs” in the near future.
  • The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) continues efforts to expand Russia’s influence and subsume previous Wagner Group operations in Africa.
  • Russia reportedly imported $1.7 billion worth of advanced microchips and semiconductors in 2023, primarily from the West, skirting Western sanctions intended to deprive Russia of such technology.
  • Russian forces advanced near Avdiivka amid continued positional engagements throughout the theater.
  • Elements of Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin’s alleged personal private military company (PMC) may have deployed to Ukraine.
  • Russian opposition media reported on January 26 that Viktor Filonov, a Russian soldier in the 234th Airborne Regiment (76th VDV Division) serving in Ukraine, adopted a Ukrainian child from occupied Donetsk Oblast.

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

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