Key Takeaways from the ISW:

  • The Kremlin is doubling down on its support for Iran as the US conducts strikes to preempt attacks by Iranian-back proxies in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen against American and other targets.
  • The Kremlin censored a protest by wives of mobilized soldiers in Moscow on February 3 likely to suppress any possible resurgence of a broader social movement in support of Russian soldiers and against the regime.
  • Soviet leadership experienced first-hand the influence that social movements of relatives of Russian soldiers wielded in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and the Kremlin likely aims to preemptively censor and discredit similar movements before they can garner similar influence.
  • Putin may have learned from the Soviet Union’s prior failure to completely censor soldiers’ relatives and changed tactics, instead using limited censorship and discreditation to keep these movements from building momentum.
  • Russian milbloggers continued to fixate on a recent unsuccessful Russian mechanized assault near Novomykhailivka, Donetsk Oblast and highlight divisions it caused within the Russian information space, which are indicative of wider issues with the Russian military’s ability to adapt in Ukraine.
  • Ukrainian actors conducted a drone strike against the Lukoil oil refinery in Volgograd Oblast on February 3.
  • Ukrainian strikes reportedly temporarily slowed Russia’s production of Lancet loitering munitions.
  • Russian state media confirmed the appointment of two new officials to senior positions in military-adjacent civilian organizations.
  • Ukrainian forces made confirmed advances near Bakhmut amid continued positional engagements along the frontline.
  • Russian soldiers imprisoned for refusing to fight in Ukraine are reportedly dying in Russian detention.
  • Russian authorities continue efforts to militarize Ukrainian youth through the school system.

Authors: Grace Mappes, Angelica Evans, Karolina Hird, Kateryna Stepanenko, and Fredrick W. Kagan.

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