Russian forces are undertaking offensive operations on various sections of the front despite unfavorable weather conditions. They want to take the initiative before the March presidential elections in Russia, says the Institute for War Studies (ISW) in its latest analysis.
Russian troops are currently launching attacks along much of the front Ukraine, in particular on the border of Kharkov and Luhansk oblasts, near Bakhmut, and also towards Avdiivka – writes ISW. In addition, the Russians continue to conduct land attacks in the west of the Zaporizhia Oblast.
“Over the past few weeks, Russian forces continued offensive operations on the border of the Kharkiv and Luhansk regions despite snow, frost and mud, and conducted ground attacks in the western part of the Zaporizhia region despite muddy conditions and strong winds,” emphasizes the Institute for War Studies.
“Russian troops are under pressure”
On large sections of the front, especially in northeastern and eastern Ukraine, the ground is currently freezing as temperatures drop. The muddy ground will harden as a result of frost, which will speed up mechanized operations on the Russian and Ukrainian sides.
“The fact that Russian forces sought to seize the initiative and conducted offensive operations in the first half of November, in the most unfavorable weather conditions of the year, rather than waiting for frosts, suggests that Russian troops are under pressure to completely seize and maintain the initiative in the first months 2024, before the March presidential elections in Russia,” concludes the American think tank.
The reason for the Russians’ determination – according to ISW – could also have been the desire to end the Ukrainian counteroffensive or to guarantee that the Ukrainians would not be able to resume their actions at the beginning of the year. According to ISW, the chronology of events indicates that Kiev itself decided to end offensive operations before the Russians launched their attacks.
The question is about maintaining the pace of action
However, analysts wonder whether, with such great effort, the Russians will be able to maintain the pace of operations and achieve significant operational successes in the near future, because bad weather significantly slows them down. The aggressor’s troops lose about as much force on the front as they generate, which means that they are most likely not accumulating the reserves necessary for a larger operation in the future.
In turn, the Ukrainian army, according to ISW assessment, is apparently taking advantage of the period of difficult weather conditions to focus on defense and building fortifications in those sections of the front where no counter-offensive operations are being carried out.
The British ministry informs about the coordinated campaign of the Russians
The large wave of attacks on Ukraine indicates that Russia has probably launched a new, more coordinated campaign of strikes aimed at degrading Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, the British Ministry of Defense said in a report on Sunday.
The British ministry reported in its daily intelligence update that on the night of December 7-8, the Russian air force carried out a large wave of attacks on Kiev and central Ukraine using a fleet of heavy bombers. These were the first such strikes since September 21. Airplanes, most likely Tu-95 (in code FOR THIS: Bear H), fired at least 16 air-launched cruise missiles (ALCMs) from their typical operating area over the Caspian Sea. defense.
These missiles are most likely AS-23a (NATO code: Kodiak), which are Russia’s top ALCMs, and Russia is almost certainly stockpiling these missiles for use in the winter campaign.
“This was likely the beginning of a more coordinated Russian campaign to degrade Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. However, initial reports indicate that most of these missiles were successfully intercepted by Ukrainian air defenses. Although at least one civilian is reported to have been killed, damage appears to be minimal at this time.” ” – said the British Ministry of Defense.
Main photo source: mil.ru