Ukraine Project

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, November 15, 2023

The European Union (EU) appears poised to ban the export of precision machine tools and key weapons manufacturing equipment components to Russia. The ban, if enacted and effectively enforced, could deal a significant blow to Russia’s defense industrial base (DIB) given precision machine tools’ importance in industrial manufacturing. Bloomberg reported on November 15 that the EU’s 12th sanctions package proposes a ban on the export of precision machine tools and machinery parts that Russia uses to make weapons and ammunition, such as welding machines, lithium batteries, thermostats, motors, and drone motors. Bloomberg reported that Russia has been importing precision machines and precision machine tools from Europe to sustain its ammunition production and other DIB production efforts. Bne Intellinews reported in June 2021 that Russia’s near total reliance on European- and US-produced precision machine tools makes Russia particularly vulnerable to such sanctions and noted that at the time Russia imported almost all of the precision machines it required.

If the West Cuts Aid to Ukraine, Russia Will Win. If the West Leans in, Ukraine Can Win.

The positional war in Ukraine is not a stable stalemate. It is not the result of fundamental realities in modern warfare that can only be changed with a technological or tactical revolution, as was the First World War’s stalemate. Neither does it rest on a permanent parity in military capacity between Russia and Ukraine that will continue indefinitely regardless of Western support to Kyiv. It results, on the contrary, from self-imposed limitations on the technologies the West has been willing to provide Ukraine and constraints on the Russian defense industrial base largely stemming from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unwillingness so far to commit Russia fully to this war. The current balance is thus, in fact, highly unstable, and could readily be tipped in either direction by decisions made in the West.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, November 14, 2023

Russian forces are likely trying to regain the theater-level initiative in Ukraine by conducting several simultaneous offensive operations in eastern Ukraine, although it remains unclear if Russian forces will be able to fully regain the initiative as Ukrainian forces maintain pressure on critical areas of the front. Several Ukrainian officials noted that the situation along the frontline is complex but that Ukrainian forces maintain control of the battlespace. Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief General Valerii Zaluzhnyi stated on November 13 during a conversation with US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Charles Brown that the Avdiivka, Kupyansk, and Marinka directions are the most intense but noted that Ukrainian forces are continuing offensive actions in unspecified sectors of the front.Ukrainian Ground Forces Commander Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi emphasized that Russian forces are pursuing simultaneous offensive actions in several directions and trying particularly to regain the initiative north and south of Bakhmut. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that Ukrainian forces are reporting an increase of Russian assaults in the Kupyansk, Avdiivka, and Donetsk directions.

Iran Update, November 12, 2023

Israeli forces continued operating in the vicinity of al Shifa Hospital without fully isolating it on November 12. Israeli forces fought Palestinian militia fighters near the Square of the Unknown Soldier less than half a kilometer from the al Shifa Hospital complex. A Palestinian journalist reported that the al Qassem Brigades—the military wing of Hamas—ambushed Israeli forces south of the Square of the Unknown Soldier on Shuhada Street. Other Palestinian militia fighters fought Israeli forces on Omar Mukhtar Street, which bounds the square.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, November 12, 2023

Ukraine appears to be intensifying attacks against Russian military, logistics, and other high-profile assets in rear areas in occupied Ukraine and Russia. The Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported on November 12 that Ukrainian partisans attacked a Russian military headquarters in occupied Melitopol, Zaporizhia Oblast on November 11, killing at least three Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and Rosgvardia officers. The GUR’s November 12 announcement follows a Ukrainian partisan attack against a former Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) People’s Militia head on November 8; strikes against a Russian military base in occupied Skadovsk, Kherson Oblast and Black Sea Fleet assets in Crimea on November 9; and three rear-area strikes and partisan attacks in Russia on November 11. Ukrainian forces have conducted a strike campaign specifically targeting occupied Crimea since summer 2023.

Russia’s Military Restructuring and Expansion Hindered by the Ukraine War

The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) is pursuing three simultaneous and overlapping force generation efforts as it seeks to manage short- to medium-term requirements in Ukraine while also pursuing long-term restructuring to prepare for a potential future large-scale conventional war against NATO. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Army General Valery Gerasimov have explicitly framed Russia’s announced long-term force restructuring as increasing conventional capabilities against NATO. The Russian MoD is also creating new formations intended as reinforcements for Russia’s war in Ukraine separate from the peacetime Russian force structure, specifically the several new formations reportedly forming entirely in occupied areas of Ukraine and under the command and control of operationalized “groupings of forces” in Ukraine rather than under existing Russian military districts. The MoD appears to be undermining its long-term restructuring effort, however, by rushing some new formations - which were likely intended to form a strategic reserve or be the basis of long-term force restructuring – as rapid reinforcements to Russian forces in Ukraine. The Russian MoD’s use of ongoing force structure changes to rush newly created and understrength formations to Ukraine will likely impede the accomplishment of the parallel objective of restructuring Russian ground forces to orient on conventional warfare with NATO as the main adversary.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, November 11, 2023

Russian forces launched a large-scale missile and drone strike series against Ukraine on the night of November 10 to 11, targeting Kyiv Oblast for the first time in 52 days. Ukrainian military sources reported on November 11 that Russian forces launched 31 Shahed 131/136 drones, two Kh-59 missiles, one Kh-31 missile, one P-800 Onyx anti-ship missile, and an S-300 missile against various targets in Ukraine, and specifically targeted Kyiv Oblast with either an Iskander-M or an S-400 missile. Ukrainian air defenses downed 19 Shaheds (primarily targeting front line areas), one Kh-59 missile, and used a Patriot air defense system to destroy the ballistic missile targeting Kyiv Oblast. Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces were targeting an air defense system at the Boryspil Airport near Kyiv City. The Kyiv City Administration stated that it has been 52 days since Russian forces last launched a missile strike against Kyiv Oblast.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, November 10, 2023

Ukraine’s Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) stated that Ukrainian surface attack drones sank two Russian Black Sea Fleet (BSF) small landing ships in occupied Crimea on November 10. The GUR published satellite imagery and reported that the Ukrainian surface attack drone strike on Uzka Bay near Chornomorsk, occupied Crimea sunk one Project 1176 Akula-class small landing ship and one Project 11770 Serna-class small landing ship. The GUR reported that the Serna-class ship was carrying a crew and was loaded with armored vehicles, including BTR-82 armored personnel carriers, and that Russian forces previously used Serna-class ships to provide cover for Russian BSF ships during raids when Russian forces lacked naval air-defense equipment.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, November 9, 2023

The Russian military command will likely struggle to redeploy combat-effective reinforcements to respond to ongoing Ukrainian operations in eastern Kherson Oblast while conducting defensive operations in western Zaporizhia Oblast and sustaining other offensive efforts in eastern Ukraine. Russian milbloggers claimed on November 9 that Ukrainian forces established control over new positions in Krynky (30km northeast of Kherson City and 2km from the Dnipro River) and conducted assaults towards Russian positions south and southwest of the settlement. A Russian milblogger claimed that there are reports that Ukrainian forces advanced to forest areas south of Krynky. Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces also attacked near Poyma (12km east of Kherson City and 4km from the Dnipro River), Pishchanivka (13km east of Kherson City and 3km from the Dnipro River), and Pidstepne (17km east of Kherson City and 4km from the Dnipro River) and are trying to establish positions between Pidstepne and Kozachi Laheri (23km northeast of Kherson City and 2km from the Dnipro River). Ukrainian military observer Konstyantyn Mashovets stated that Ukrainian forces have established continuous control of positions from the Antonivsky railway bridge north of Poyma to the Antonivsky roadway bridge north of Oleshky (7km south of Kherson and 4km from the Dnipro River) as of November 9 and have cut the Oleshky-Nova Kakhovka (53km northeast of Kherson City) road in at least two areas.

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, November 8, 2023

Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations near Bakhmut and in western Zaporizhia Oblast on November 8. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces continued offensive operations in the Melitopol (western Zaporizhia Oblast) and Bakhmut directions. Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted assaults near Robotyne, Novoprokopivka (just south of Robotyne), and Verbove (9km east of Robotyne). Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated during a video address to the Reuters NEXT conference in New York on November 8 that Ukrainian forces have a battlefield plan for 2024 that he cannot disclose. Zelensky stated that Ukrainian forces have several paths for future advances in southern Ukraine, eastern Ukraine, and Kherson Oblast. There are also plans to advance to specific occupied cities. Ukrainian forces continue counteroffensive operations without interruption in several sectors of the front, and Ukrainian officials continue to indicate that these operations will continue into this winter.