ISW KEY TAKEAWAYS: NEW WAVE OF HEATING STRIKES ANTICIPATED THIS WEEK; KREMLIN PREPARING FOR NEW MOBILIZATION PUSH
Above: Technical snags slowed work on restoring Ukraine’s power grid this week as Ukrainians brace for another terror missile barrage on civilian infrastructure this week. (The Times of Israel)
- Putin’s November 25 creation of an electronic state information resource is likely to be used as a tool for subsequent waves of mobilization. Russian human rights activist Pavel Chikov reported that the electronic information resource will be all encompassing and complete by December 30. Chikov reported that the resource will combine data from the tax service and integrate data with the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Emergency Situations, the Federal Penitentiary Service, the Federal Bailiff Service, the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Sports, the CEC, and the Pension Fund. Through the collation of this personal data, the resource will likely streamline the mobilization summons process but will not overcome the systemic issues with the training and equipment of mobilized recruits.
- Russian forces are likely preparing to launch a new wave of missile strikes across Ukraine in the coming week, but such preparations are likely intended to sustain the recent pace of strikes instead of escalating it due to continued constraints on Russia’s missile arsenal.
- Spokesperson for Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command Nataliya Humenyuk relatedly noted that an additional Russian missile carrier went on duty in the Black Sea on November 28, which Humenyuk stated is an indicator of preparations for a renewed wave of massive missile strikes over the course of the coming week.
- Recent Russian force deployments to Belarus in November 2022 are likely part of a Russian effort to augment Russian training capacity and conduct an information operation targeted at Ukraine and the West — not to prepare to attack Ukraine from the north again.
- Satellite imagery from mid-November indicates an increase in Russian equipment, particularly main battle tanks, at the 230th Combined Arms Obuz-Lesnovsky Training Ground in Brest. Independent Belarusian monitoring organization The Hajun Project reported on November 28 that Russian forces transferred 15 Tor-M2 surface-to-air missile systems and 10 pieces of unspecified engineering equipment towards Brest.
- The Ukrainian General Staff reported on November 28 that it assesses Russian forces will transfer unspecified elements from Belarus to an unspecified area after the units “acquire combat capabilities.” This statement supports several ISW assessments that combat losses among Russian trainers and the stresses of mobilization have reduced Russia’s training capacity, likely increasing Russia’s reliance on Belarusian training capacity.
- Various milbloggers noted on November 27 that the Russian MoD has instituted tighter customs controls on a variety of dual-use goods such as quadcopters, heat packs, sights, clothing, and shoes, all of which are items that Russian civilians have been crowdfunding and donating to Russian soldiers in the wake of widespread issues with adequately equipping of mobilized recruits. While the customs limits are reportedly intended to centralize and consolidate government control and oversight of the provision of dual-use goods, the decision ultimately undermines campaigns led by Russian civil society to provide direct support to Russian recruits, thus further putting the MoD at odds with prominent social actors.
- Russian families of mobilized service members continued to appeal to the Russian government to return their loved ones from the war in Ukraine and to compensate them for time served. Meduza reported that Russian officials denied the “Council of Mothers and Wives of the Mobilized” access to Putin’s meeting with mothers on Russian Mother’s Day, November 27; and that the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office blocked the group on social media on November 28.
Above: Destroyed enemy tank stuck in deep mud. (The Guardian)
Ukrainian General Staff of the Armed Forces estimated enemy losses for last 24 hours
- Liquidated personnel, 88,380 (+480)
- Tanks, 2,911 (+3)
- Armored personnel vehicles, 5,866 (+5)
- Artillery systems/MLRS, 1,901/395 (+2/0)
- Anti-aircraft warfare systems, 209 (0)
- Aircraft/helicopters, 280/261 (+2/0)
- UAV operational-tactical level, 1,555 (0)
- Cruise missiles, 531 (0)
- Warships/boats, 16 (0)
- Vehicles and fuel tanks, 4,423 (+7)
- Special equipment, 163 (0)
Above: “Ukraine is bracing for another mass missile attack this week, but in between these major salvos aimed at the power grid, the Russians are sporadically shelling cities with no apparent strategic aim other than to cause casualties.” (The Guardian)
- The enemy launched about 10 MLRS attacks on the positions of our troops and civilian objects.
- There is still a threat of the enemy launching missile strikes against critical infrastructure facilities deep within the territory of Ukraine. In particular, the enemy keeps the aviation group and cruise missile carrier ships in readiness.
- In the Slobozhanskyi direction, the russian occupiers fired mortars and rocket artillery at the areas of Kozacha Lopan, Strilecha, Ohirtseve, Budarka and Chuhunivka settlements of the Kharkiv oblast.
- In the Kupyansk direction, the enemy is defending previously occupied lines. Fired mortars, barrel and rocket artillery in the areas of the settlements of Kupyansk, Tabaivka, Krokhmalne and Berestove in Kharkiv oblast.
- In the Lyman direction, the enemy is concentrating on conducting offensive operations. Shelling from the entire range of artillery was recorded near Makiivka and Nevske in the Luhansk oblast and Yampolivka and Torske in Donetsk oblast.
- In the Bakhmut and Avdiivka directions, the enemy continues to attempt offensive actions. Fired tanks, mortars, barrel and jet artillery in the areas of the settlements of Spirne, Yakovlivka, Bakhmutske, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, Vodyane, Pervomaiske, Krasnohorivka, Maryinka and Novomykhailivka of the Donetsk oblast.
- In the direction of Novopavlivka, the enemy fired artillery at the positions of the Defense Forces and the areas of the settlements of Vuhledar and Neskuchne in Donetsk oblast.
- In the Zaporizhzhia direction, the occupiers are defending themselves. Areas of the settlements of Vremivka, Novosilka, Novopil, Chervone, Zaliznychne, Dorozhnyanka and Kamianske of Zaporizhzhia oblast were damaged by fire.
- In the Kryvyi Rih and Kherson directions, the enemy is defending positions in temporarily occupied territories. Artillery shelling of settlements on the right bank of the Dnipro River, including the city of Kherson, does not stop.
Above: City workers clear snow this week in Kharkiv. (Objectiv)
- Russian forces continued efforts to defend against Ukrainian counteroffensive operations around Svatove on November 27 and 28. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian troops prioritized defensive operations in the Kupyansk direction, about 45km northwest of Svatove, on November 27 and 28.
- The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian troops attacked Stelmakhivka (15km northwest of Svatove) on November 27 and struck the settlement using a TOS-1A thermobaric artillery system, indicating that Russian forces are either prioritizing the defense of the Svatove-Kreminna line or lack more appropriate artillery systems.
Above: After months of intense fighting by its best forces, the enemy has only recently taken gains around Bakhmut. (ISW)
- Recent claims of Russian gains around Bakhmut on November 27 and 28 do not portend an imminent Russian encirclement of Bakhmut. Geolocated imagery shows that Russian forces likely captured Ozarianivka (a village about 15km southwest of Bakhmut) around November 27 and 28.
- Russian forces made gains south of Bakhmut on November 28. Geolocated footage shows Ukrainian drones striking Russian troops in Ozarianivka, 15km southwest of Bakhmut.
- Russian sources have notably propagated spurious claims regarding gains around Bakhmut as part of a continued information operation since October, and recent unsubstantiated territorial claims may be part of this continued information operation. However, even if Russian forces have indeed succeeded in taking control of settlements south of Bakhmut, these gains do not threaten the critical T0513 (Bakhmut-Siversk) and T0504 (Bakhmut-Kostyantynivka) routes that serve as major Ukrainian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) into Bakhmut.
- Russian forces continued ground attacks in the Avdiivka–Donetsk City area and southwest of Donetsk City on November 27 and 28. The Ukrainian General Staff reported on November 28 that Ukrainian troops repelled Russian attacks near Vodiane, Pervomaiske, Nevelske, Marinka, and Novomykhailivka, all ranging from the northwestern to southwestern outskirts of Donetsk City.
- Latvia-based independent Russian-language outlet Meduza reported on November 28 that the approximately 280 Russian soldiers who refused to fight due to insufficient medical and materiel support for their military units were imprisoned, threatened, and psychologically tortured in a basement near Zaitseve, Donetsk by their senior commanders and are now appealing their imprisonment to the Russian Investigative Committee.
Above: Freedom Square in Kherson. (The Guardian)
- Russian forces continued to strengthen fortified positions and conduct security measures in eastern Kherson Oblast on November 27 and 28. Chechen Republic head stated that Chechen Rosgvardia forces conduct law enforcement functions such as document checks, raids against saboteurs, and identification of weapons caches in civilian areas in eastern Kherson and western Zaporizhia oblasts.
- The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian strikes against Russian force concentrations in Melitopol, Polohy, and Mykhailivka (just north of Melitopol), Zaporizhia Oblast on November 25 wounded over 100 military personnel and destroyed 10 pieces of military equipment and two ammunition depots.
- A Russian milblogger expressed continued concern about a Ukrainian force buildup along the Zaporizhia Oblast front line for a possible counteroffensive.
- The Ukrainian Resistance Center reported on November 28 that the behavior of Russian forces in Melitopol, Zaporizhia Oblast has worsened since the arrival of the Russian troops from the Kherson withdrawal, indicating the worsening morale and increased restlessness of these forces.The Ukrainian Resistance Center reported that Russian troops are looting, engaging in physical altercations with one another, and raping locals at higher rates than before.
- According to the available information, starting today, the occupiers have forbidden entry to the territory of the Zaporizhzhia NPP to plant workers who refused to sign contracts with rosatom.
- Russian-backed Zaporizhia Oblast occupation administration head Vladimir Rogov reposted a Russian television segment on November 28 claiming that all schools in occupied Zaporizhia Oblast have transitioned to Russian education standards and that classes will take place in the Russian language.
Map via ISW