Key Takeaways from the ISW:

  • Ukrainian forces will likely be able to establish new defensive lines not far beyond Avdiivka, which will likely prompt the culmination of the Russian offensive in this area.
  • Delays in Western security assistance to Ukraine are likely helping Russia launch opportunistic offensive operations along several sectors of the frontline in order to place pressure on Ukrainian forces along multiple axes.
  • Russian forces are likely seeking to take advantage of two windows of opportunity with the recent initiation of their simultaneous offensive operations—the period before the upcoming spring thaw and the nuanced dynamics of Western aid provision.
  • The Russian capture of Avdiivka after four months of intensified offensive operations exemplifies the way that Russian forces pursue offensive operations that do not necessarily set conditions for wider operational gains but still force Ukraine to commit manpower and materiel to defensive operations.
  • Russian forces have not yet demonstrated an ability to secure operationally significant gains or conduct rapid mechanized maneuver across large swaths of territory, and the capture of Avdiivka should not be taken as demonstrating this capability.
  • Ukrainian officials are investigating two instances of apparent Russian violations of the Geneva Convention on prisoners of war (POWs) in occupied Donetsk Oblast.
  • Russian milbloggers criticized the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) for failing to recognize 1st Donetsk People’s Republic Army Corps (DNR AC) Commander Lieutenant General Sergei Milchakov and the “Veterany” Assault Brigade (Volunteer Corps) for aiding in the Russian capture of Avdiivka, highlighting continued tension between Russian regular and irregular forces.
  • The Washington Post reported that the Kremlin has been orchestrating a large-scale effort to spread disinformation in the Ukrainian media since January 2023, corroborating recent Ukrainian official reports about Russian information operations that use fake Telegram channels to infiltrate the Ukrainian information space.
  • Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced on February 18 that Denmark is donating its “entire artillery” to Ukraine.
  • The US is reportedly turning to India and China to engage Russia about Russia’s reported intent to launch an unspecified anti-satellite nuclear weapon into space.
  • Russian forces recently made a confirmed advance in western Zaporizhia amid continued positional engagements along the entire line of contact on February 18.
  • Russian occupation officials continue to use educational programs as means of Russifying occupied Ukraine.

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

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