Russian military forces are likely undertaking costly offensive operations in multiple areas of eastern Ukraine in an attempt to seize the strategic initiative and undermine Western support for Ukraine, ISW said in its daily report.
The assessment, which was reportedly shared with Congress this week, found that recent Russian offensives around the city of Avdiivka and elsewhere “aim to weaken Western support for Ukraine instead of achieving any immediate operational objectives,” according to reporting.
“Russian forces may be conducting costly offensive operations at a time unfavorable for ground maneuver to time the potential shift in battlefield initiative with ongoing conversations in the West about continued support to Ukraine,” the ISW reported.
According to the ISW, Russia has suffered extensive losses in these operations without making significant battlefield gains. National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson stated that Russian forces have lost over 13,000 personnel and 220 combat vehicles in fighting near Avdiivka since October.
Despite these setbacks, the assessment warned that Russia appears intent on pressing the attack to prompt debates in the West about further assistance to Ukraine.
The Institute for the Study of War said that, while depleted, Russia continues to undertake force generation measures to sustain a long war. While Russia has lost an estimated 87% of its pre-invasion ground force strength, partial mobilization and other efforts have offset some losses.
US President Joe Biden during how meeting with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that the United States would continue providing Ukraine with vital weapons and equipment “as long as we can.”
Biden also said that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “banking on the United States failing to deliver for Ukraine.”
“We must, we must, we must prove him wrong,” he added.
Other takeaways from the ISW report:
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with various US officials, including President Joe Biden, and spoke to Congress about US military assistance to Ukraine in Washington, DC on 12 December.
- Russian forces conducted a series of drone and missile strikes targeting Ukraine on 12 December.
- Ukrainian officials stated that Russian special services may have conducted the major cyberattack on Ukrainian mobile operator Kyivstar on 12 December.
- The Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported that GUR cyber units recently conducted a successful cyber operation against the Russian Federal Tax Service (FNS).