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ISW: Winter weather impacts Russian-Ukrainian war, but fighting persists

Artillery targeting and aerial reconnaissance are complicated, but Russian and Ukrainian ground forces continue attacks.
Volunteers with the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces outside of Kyiv, February 2022. Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post

A severe cyclone that hit the Black Sea and southern Ukraine has caused infrastructure damage and challenging weather conditions along the coast, impacting military operations in the area, ISW updated in its daily report.

According to the ISW’s report, despite the poor visibility and complications from the storm, military activity continues despite the poor visibility and complications from the storm.

Russian sources stated that the cyclone heavily impacted transportation infrastructure and left civilians without electricity in coastal cities including Sochi, Anapa, and Novorossiysk. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Navy reported that storm conditions forced Russia to return all naval vessels and missile carriers to their bases. Sources on both sides noted reduced visibility impacting reconnaissance and artillery targeting.

However, ground attacks persist on both sides.

“Ukrainian forces have taken advantage of low visibility conditions to consolidate positions on the east bank of the Dnipro River,” a Russian milblogger said.

Colonel Oleksandr Shtupun of the Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces said that “while the weather has complicated air and artillery operations, Russian forces continue to heavily use aviation” in some areas.”

The Institute for the Study of War reported that challenging winter weather will likely lead to increased reliance on infantry ground attacks with limited air and artillery support. But despite the cyclone’s effects, military activity continues at a reduced tempo, the ISW concluded.

Other takeaways from the ISW report:

  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and several Russian milbloggers stated that Russia must maintain active operations in Ukraine and expressed worry over the prospect of further Western military support to Ukraine.
  • Some milbloggers additionally expressed increased discontent with the perceived lack of articulated Russian war aims and stated Russia must clarify its war aims before discussing any pause or end to the war.
  • Ukrainian National Defense and Security Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov stated that the Kremlin has activated a network of sleeper agents in Ukraine in the past few months to destabilize Ukrainian society.
  • The Kremlin appears to be shifting responsibility for potential future austerity measures onto Russian occupation heads and the heads of four select Russian republics.
  • Likely Ukrainian partisans continue to target Russian occupation elements throughout occupied Ukraine.

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