Key Takeaways from the ISW:

  • Pro-Russian Moldovan breakaway region Transnistria held the Seventh Congress of Transnistrian Deputies on February 28 and adopted a series of decisions that likely aim to provide the Kremlin with justifications for a wide range of possible escalatory actions against Moldova — actions the Kremlin can pursue both immediately and over the long-term.
  • The Kremlin has yet to signal an immediate route for escalation following the Congress of Transnistrian Deputies, although Russian President Vladimir Putin may respond to the Transnistrian requests during his speech to the Russian Federal Assembly on February 29.
  • The Kremlin can use the outcomes of the Congress of Transnistrian Deputies to justify a range of possible COAs that are not mutually exclusive.
  • Ukrainian forces reportedly conducted another strike on a Russian personnel concentration in occupied Donetsk Oblast, once again sparking ire amongst Russian milbloggers and re-surfacing concerns about Ukraine’s use of HIMARS systems.
  • Russia continues cracking down on actors it deems “foreign agents” to consolidate control over the Russian information space ahead of the March 2024 presidential election.
  • Financial Times (FT) investigation published on February 27, reportedly based on leaked classified Russian military documents from 2008-2014, outlines Russia’s purported criteria for the use of tactical nuclear weapons.
  • Turkey and China appear to be pursuing their own negotiation platforms for a settlement in Ukraine, which the Kremlin will likely exploit to further its long-standing narratives regarding negotiations and the war.
  • Russian forces made confirmed advances near Svatove, Avdiivka, and Donetsk City.
  • Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu inspected the Tula State University’s Military Training Center and several defense industrial base (DIB) enterprises in Tula Oblast on February 28.
  • Russian occupation authorities are using early voting for the Russian presidential election to cloak Russia’s illegal occupation of Ukraine in a veneer of fabricated legitimacy.

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

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