Key Takeaways from the ISW:

  • Russian forces are attempting to exploit tactical opportunities offered by the Russian seizure of Avdiivka and appear to be maintaining a relatively high tempo of offensive operations aimed at pushing as far as possible in the Avdiivka area before Ukrainian forces establish more cohesive and harder-to-penetrate defensive lines in the area.
  • Russian forces are likely attempting to create an operational maneuver force for the exploitation of recent Russian advances in the Avdiivka direction.
  • The Russian command likely hopes that the reorganization of command structures will establish more cohesive Russian grouping of forces throughout the theater in Ukraine.
  •  Recent developments in Transnistria, the pro-Russian breakaway region of Moldova, are unlikely to pose a military threat to Ukraine and will more likely impact Moldova’s European Union (EU) integration prospects. ISW is amending its warning forecast in light of continued Transnistrian officials’ statements that the upcoming Congress of Transnistrian Deputies will discuss Moldovan economic policies, likely related to changes to Moldova’s Customs Code that went into effect on January 1, 2024.
  • Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu continues to highlight recent Russian tactical successes in Ukraine as substantial battlefield victories for political purposes ahead of the upcoming Russian presidential election. Shoigu additionally highlighted Russia’s Central and Eastern Military Districts (CMD and EMD) to posture against supposed anti-Russian activity in Central Asia and the Indo-Pacific.
  • Ukrainian forces have reportedly shot down two Russian Su-34s on February 27, the tenth downed Russian military aircraft within roughly as many days.
  • Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) reported on February 27 that the ongoing Russian information campaign to demoralize Ukrainian society will intensify between March and May 2024.
  • Russia likely tested an element of its Sovereign Internet on February 27, likely in an effort to strengthen control over individual aspects of the Russian information space.
  • Russian forces advanced west of Avdiivka amid continued positional engagements across the theater.
  • A Ukrainian official warned that Russia seeks to ramp up force generation efforts in occupied Ukraine following the formal integration of occupied and claimed Ukrainian territories into the Russian Southern Military District (SMD).
  • Russian authorities are reportedly systematizing the adoption of deported Ukrainian children in Russia.

Authors: Riley Bailey, Nicole Wolkov, Christina Harward, Grace Mappes, and Frederick W. Kagan.

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