Key Takeaways from the ISW:

  • Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed that Russian forces have established “full control” over Avdiivka, Donetsk Oblast as Russian forces continued to advance in the settlement on February 17, and Ukrainian forces have likely withdrawn from Avdiivka.
  • Russian sources largely characterized the Ukrainian withdrawal as disorganized and costly and claimed that Russian forces managed to encircle large Ukrainian groups in Avdiivka, but ISW has observed no evidence supporting these Russian claims.
  • Russian forces appear to have temporarily established limited and localized air superiority and were able to provide ground troops with close air support during the final days of their offensive operation to capture Avdiivka, likely the first time that Russian forces have done so in Ukraine.
  • Delays in Western security assistance may lead to further significant constraints on Ukrainian air defenses that could allow Russian forces to replicate the close air support that facilitated Russian advances in Avdiivka at scale in Ukraine.
  • Ukrainian forces reportedly shot down three Russian fighter aircraft—two Su-34s and one Su-35—over Donetsk Oblast on February 17, likely having committed scarce air defense assets to help cover the withdrawal of Ukrainian forces from Avdiivka.
  • Russian authorities arrested several hundred demonstrators on February 17 amid slightly larger demonstrations responding to imprisoned opposition politician Alexei Navalny’s death.
  • The US Department of Justice (DoJ) announced on February 17 that the US sent $500,000 of forfeited Russian funds to Estonia to repair Ukraine’s energy infrastructure
  • Russian forces made confirmed advances near Bakhmut and Avdiivka and in western Zaporizhia Oblast
  • Russian occupation authorities continue efforts to propagandize and militarize Ukrainian youth in occupied areas.

 

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

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