Russian forces recently advanced in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast and retook positions that Ukrainian forces had captured during the summer 2023 counteroffensive, ISW said in its daily report.
Geolocated footage published on December 14 and 27 indicates that Russian forces recently advanced west of Verbove (9km east of Robotyne). According to the report, Russian forces retook positions there as Ukrainian forces likely recently withdrew to more defensible positions near Robotyne for the winter.
Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Commander Brigadier General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi said in an interview with BBC published on 27 December that Russia’s leadership wants to retake Avdiivka at a minimum.
“But it [Russia] has a more ambitious goal of capturing all of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and recapturing the territory Russian forces lost in Zaporizhzhia Oblast during the Ukrainian counteroffensive,” Tarnavskyi said.
ISW assessed in its report that the Ukrainian capture of nearby positions in August 2023 was tactically significant because it could have allowed Ukrainian forces to begin operating past the densest Russian minefields and subsequent Russian defensive layers.
“But the recapture of these positions by Russian forces is not particularly significant at this time,” ISW reported.
Recent Russian advances in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast prove ISW’s assessment that “the current positional war in Ukraine is not a stable stalemate as the current balance can be tipped in either direction by decisions made in the West or Russia.”
“Limited Russian territorial gains could prove more significant, especially if Western military aid to Ukraine were to be reduced or cut off,” the report said.
Other takeaways from the ISW report:
- Ukrainian drone footage published on 27 December showed another Russian execution of Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) near Robotyne in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
- The destruction of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant (KHPP) dam on 6 June 2023 reportedly postponed a Ukrainian crossing of the Dnipro River that was likely intended to support Ukrainian counteroffensive operations.
- Ukrainian officials highlighted the Ukrainian defense industrial base’s (DIB) increased production in 2023 and offered projections of Ukraine’s domestic drone production capabilities on 27 December.
- Russian forces launched another series of Shahed-136/131 drone strikes against Ukraine overnight on 27 December.
- Russia maintains its maximalist objectives in Ukraine and is uninterested in good faith negotiations despite reports that Western officials are becoming more amenable to eventual Ukrainian negotiations with Russia to end the war.
- Politico: Russia uses Ukrainian prisoners of war to destabilize Kyiv
- Minister: Ukraine has “over five” mass-produced analogs of Russia’s Iranian-made Shahed explosive drones
- Reuters: Russia to deploy its newest howitzers against Ukrainian forces
- Russia’s suicide drone attack kills two in Odesa as Ukraine downs 32/46 UAVs