Key Takeaways from the ISW:

  • Russian forces conducted the largest series of combined drone and missile strikes targeting Ukrainian energy infrastructure since the start of the full-scale invasion during the night of March 21-22.
  • Russian strikes against Ukrainian energy facilities may aim to degrade Ukrainian defense industrial capacity, and Russian forces are likely trying to exploit Ukrainian air defense missile shortages in a renewed attempt to collapse Ukraine’s energy grid.
  • Russian forces will likely continue offensive operations through Spring 2024 while preparing for an expected offensive effort in Summer 2024, although Russian forces will likely struggle to launch a concerted large-scale offensive operation in multiple operational directions in Ukraine at the same time.
  • Russian forces likely seek to exploit current Ukrainian materiel shortages while preparing for efforts that will force Ukraine to expend a sizeable portion of the Western security assistance it may receive in the coming months.
  • The Ukrainian military command appears to be prioritizing rotations for frontline units but will have to address additional manpower challenges if Ukrainian forces are to seize the initiative even on a localized basis in 2024 as Ukrainian senior military officers say they hope to do.
  • Russian authorities reportedly intend to significantly expand crypto-mobilization efforts starting in Spring 2024 amid reports about significant decreases in the number of voluntary recruits.
  • Verstka reported that select Russian officials stated that the Russian military command hopes that increased force generation will allow Russian forces to conduct a future offensive operation to encircle Kharkiv City. Such an operation would pose significant challenges both to the Russian forces responsible for the effort and to the wider Russian campaign in Ukraine, however.
  • This Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for a mass shooting and bombing at a concert venue in the suburbs of Moscow on the evening of March 22.
  • Russian forces recently made confirmed advances near Kreminna, Avdiivka, Donetsk City, and the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area amid continued positional engagements along the entire line of contact.
  • Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada Human Rights Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets reported on March 22 that Ukrainian authorities helped return another nine Ukrainian children to Ukrainian-controlled territory from occupied Ukraine and Russia.
  • The Moscow military registration and enlistment office has reportedly begun to issue electronic summonses for the Spring 2024 Russian conscription cycle.

Authors: Riley Bailey, Angelica Evans, Grace Mappes, Christina Harward, and Frederick W. Kagan.

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