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[l] at 2/28/24 12:24am
Authors: Nils Peterson, Matthew Sperzel, and Daniel Shats of the Institute for the Study of WarEditors: Dan Blumenthal and Frederick W. Kagan of the American Enterprise InstituteData Cutoff: February 21 at 5pm ETThe China–Taiwan Weekly Update focuses on the Chinese Communist Party’s paths to controlling Taiwan and relevant cross–Taiwan Strait developments.Key TakeawaysThe Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) pledged to begin conducting regular maritime inspections around Taiwan-controlled Kinmen Island. Normalizing PRC maritime enforcement around the island will erode Taiwan’s control over its territorial waters and risk confrontations between the PRC and Taiwan’s maritime law enforcement.The CCP is engaging in global cyberattacks to degrade regional countries’ capacity to engage in military action against the PRC during a crisis. The cyberattacks could also facilitate actions against individuals who oppose the CCP.CCP International Department Head Liu Jianchao and PRC Foreign Minister Wang Yi gave conflicting stances on global governance and the Russia-Ukraine War at the “For Freedom of Nations” forum in Russia and the Munich Security Conference in Germany.Three of the PRC’s “Big Four” state banks stopped accepting payments from Western-sanctioned Russian financial institutions.The PRC deployed a People’s Liberation Army detachment to monitor a joint US-Philippines air force patrol over the South China Sea. Cross-Strait RelationsTaiwanThe Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) pledged to begin conducting regular maritime inspections around Taiwan-controlled Kinmen Island. Normalizing PRC maritime enforcement around the island will erode Taiwan’s control over its territorial waters and risk confrontations between the PRC and Taiwan’s maritime law enforcement. Kinmen is a Taiwan-controlled island with a large military garrison roughly 3 kilometers from the coast of the PRC. The Taiwan Coast Guard Administration (CGA) enforces maritime laws around Kinmen and its lesser islands. An incident on February 14 that resulted in the death of two PRC nationals prompted the CCG to defy Taiwan’s sovereignty in the waters around its outer islands. A four-man PRC fishing boat intruded almost a mile into Taiwan’s territorial waters around Kinmen and capsized after colliding with a CGA ship while fleeing from a CGA inspection.[1] [2] The CGA was able to rescue only two of the fishermen, who returned to the PRC on February 20. CCG Spokesperson Gan Yu stated on February 18 that the CCG will strengthen law enforcement and conduct regular inspections in the waters around Kinmen and Xiamen, the nearby PRC city.[3] PRC Taiwan Affairs Office Spokesperson Zhu Fenglian refuted the existence of Taiwan’s territorial or restricted waters and stated that the PRC has the right to take “further measures,” and that Taiwan will “bear the consequences.”[4] Zhu also condemned Taiwan for its “brutal treatment of mainland fishermen” and disregard for human life.[5]The CCG conducted its first maritime inspection in the Taiwan-controlled waters around Kinmen Island on February 19. CCG personnel boarded a Taiwanese sightseeing ship off the coast of the island. The personnel remained onboard for about 30 minutes, during which they inspected the ship’s voyage plan and registration. The CGA commented that this was the first CCG boarding of a Taiwanese vessel in Taiwan-controlled waters.[6] A CCG maritime surveillance ship entered Taiwan’s territorial waters south of Kinmen on February 20 and left an hour later.[7]The CCG’s assertive behavior also extends to Taiwan’s other outer islands near the mainland. Three CCG ships entered the territorial waters around the Taiwan-controlled Matsu Islands on February 21.[8] The Matsu Islands are 10 kilometers off the mainland coast at their closest point and roughly 240 kilometers northeast of Kinmen Island.A ROC official warned that the CCG may expand its operations into other Taiwan-controlled waters as well. KMT legislator Alex Tsai Cheng-yuan speculated on February 21 whether the Penghu Islands would be the next target for the CCG.[9] The Penghu Islands are located on the east side of the median line in the strait between the PRC and Taiwan, roughly 140 kilometers southeast of Kinmen Island. The islands hold strategic significance due to Taiwan’s robust military presence there and their ability to enable early detection and response to PRC military activities. The location of the islands in the Taiwan Strait makes them a valuable potential staging ground for the PRC to launch a future invasion of Taiwan. The Kuomintang appointed two key legislators to oversee foreign and defense policy, which signals its determination to oppose the Democratic Progressive Party’s political agenda in these areas. Kuomintang (KMT) Caucus Whip Fu Kun-chi announced the party’s designation of Legislative Yuan Speaker Han Kuo-yu and Deputy Speaker Johnny Chiang Chi-chen to serve on the Foreign and National Defense Committee on February 21.[10] The Foreign and National Defense Committee is a legislative committee with the authority to conduct budget reviews, make recommendations to the Legislative Yuan (LY) based on its review of draft legislation, and summon officials from relevant agencies to respond to inquiries. The KMT and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) hold divergent views on defense policy, with the former advocating for a comparatively modest approach that seeks to de-escalate tensions with Beijing. The KMT has consistently criticized President Tsai Ing-wen’s DPP administration for excessive defense spending.[11] The KMT’s appointment of its leading legislators to the committee suggests the party will focus considerable resources on shaping foreign and defense policy, making it one of the primary areas of competition in the LY. The KMT likely seeks to wield its influence in the committee to obstruct the DPP’s defense agenda, such as freezing budget appropriations and shaping policy proposals.Fu declared in his announcement that there is nothing more important than imposing checks and balances on the DPP and stated that “Taiwan would not be well until the DPP falls.”[12] The KMT’s adversarial approach carries negative implications for President-elect Lai Ching-te, whose policy platform emphasizes stronger international relationships and national defense. The KMT's determination to block the DPP’s political agenda is favorable to Chinese Communist Party (CCP) interests, especially if it hinders the government’s ability to implement its foreign and defense policy.The Kuomintang and Taiwan People’s Party are pursuing political reforms that threaten to undermine the Democratic Progressive Party’s governance by entangling the party in defensive struggles. KMT and Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) party leaders discussed a joint proposal for “legislative and judicial reforms” in the Legislative Yuan on February 22.[13] TPP Caucus Whip Huang Kuo-chang stated that the two opposition parties maintain a close consensus on the issue.[14] The TPP and KMT have consistently stated that establishing a legislative investigative task force to strengthen oversight of the executive branch is at the top of their agenda.[15] KMT caucus Secretary-General Lin Tzu-ming earlier referred to the proposed mechanism as a “great weapon” that the Legislative Yuan must use to supervise the government.[16] Collaboration between the KMT and the TPP to introduce the proposals suggests the reforms will pass with a majority in the LY, as the TPP’s eight seats constitute a crucial swing vote. The opposition’s plan to impose checks and balances on the DPP could significantly hamper the government’s ability to pass policy by miring it in defensive actions against accusations of overstepping authority or corruption.ChinaThe CCP is engaging in global cyberattacks to degrade regional countries’ capacity to engage in military action against the PRC during a crisis. The cyberattacks could also facilitate actions against individuals who oppose the CCP. US and foreign partner cybersecurity and intelligence agencies confirmed in a joint advisory on February 7 that a PRC state-sponsored cyber threat actor known as Volt Typhoon infiltrated critical infrastructure organizations in the continental United States and US territories.[17] The authoring agencies assessed with high confidence that Volt Typhoon’s goal was to develop the capability to disrupt key operational technology functions in the event of a conflict with the United States by leveraging its access to informational technology environments. The cyber company I-Soon, which has contracts with the PRC Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of State Security, and People’s Liberation Army, subsequently leaked documents in late February that revealed additional CCP cyber operations. The targets of the operations include NATO, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Taiwan, South Korea, Vietnam, and India.[18] I-Soon also hacks X (formerly Twitter) accounts to uncover user identities.[19]A February 13 report from the US security firm Trellix also shows a significant increase in cyberattacks against Taiwan during the 24 hours before its January 13 presidential election.[20] The report stated that the cyberattacks targeted a myriad of institutions such as governmental offices, police departments, and finance entities.[21] Trellix is reviewing the data but posited that PRC threat actors may have been responsible.[22]The CCP refuted that it is responsible for the cyberattacks. The PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokeswoman Mao Ning refuted US FBI Director Christopher Wray’s statement that Chinese offensive malware is at an unprecedented high. Mao falsely claimed on February 22 that “China firmly opposes and combats all forms of cyberattacks.”[23]United States and EuropeCCP International Department Head Liu Jianchao and PRC Foreign Minister Wang Yi gave conflicting stances on global governance and the Russia-Ukraine War at the “For Freedom of Nations” forum in Russia and the Munich Security Conference in Germany. “For Freedom of Nations” is a Russian forum of international political parties against “neo-colonialism” that Russia’s United Russia ruling party organized for the first time on February 15–16. It overlapped with the Munich Security Conference, which ran from February 16–18. Liu told the primarily Russian and Global South participants including former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev that the PRC advocated “reforming the global governance system,” among other things. [24] A joint statement claiming to represent the forum’s over 400 participants denounced “modern practices of neo-colonialism,” “selective application” of international law and a “rules-based world order,” and interference in other countries’ internal affairs.[25] These were thinly veiled attacks on the Western-led international order, which has been highly critical of both Russia and the PRC. Wang Yi presented an opposing view of PRC policies to the Western audience in Munich. He stated that the PRC is a “responsible major country” that would serve as a “stabilizing force” amid global turmoil. He said the PRC wished to “strengthen” global governance by upholding the authority of the United Nations and enhancing the voice of the Global South. Wang also portrayed the PRC as a stabilizing force in promoting cooperation between major world powers and in dealing with “hot issues” such as the “Ukraine crisis.” [26] Wang’s core message to European powers is part of a broader “charm offensive” toward Europe as the PRC seeks to boost Western trade and investment to revitalize its troubled economy.Liu’s endorsement of “reforming” global governance to a primarily non-Western audience contrasts with Wang’s claim to European leaders that the PRC supports “strengthening” global governance. The PRC aims to use existing organs of global governance and new international mechanisms to promote an alternative PRC-led world order that advances PRC interests. It is simultaneously trying to reassure Western powers that it is not a threat and is a reliable partner, however. Liu did not comment on Ukraine in publicly available statements, but his attendance at a Russia-hosted “anti-neocolonialist” forum concurrent with the Munich Security Conference undermines Wang Yi’s message that the PRC can be relied upon as an impartial interlocutor and promoter of peace in Ukraine.The CCP also issued conflicting perspectives on ending the Russian war in Ukraine. Wang claimed to European leaders and in a meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba that the PRC did not “sit back and watch” the “Ukraine crisis” but instead has stayed committed to promoting peace talks. He did not call the Russia-Ukraine war a war. He stressed that “the earlier peace talks resume, the less damage for all sides.”[27] Bloomberg reported that Wang rejected Ukraine’s proposal for high-level peace talks in March, however, claiming that conditions were not ripe for parties to go back to the negotiating table. This comment was absent from the official PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) readout of his statements and contradicts Wang’s statement that peace talks should resume as early as possible.[28]The PRC’s conflicting messaging about the Russia-Ukraine War reflects a strategy to balance support for Russia with attracting Western investment while avoiding Western sanctions. Wang Yi falsely stated about the “Ukraine crisis” that the PRC “did not sit back and watch, let alone take advantage of the opportunity to make profits.”[29] This is exactly what the PRC has done by selling military or dual-use products to Russia and buying Russian fuel at cheap prices during the war.[30] Wang warned world leaders that “de-Sinicizing” in the name of economic “de-risking” would be a “historic mistake.”[31] His economic messaging to incentivize Western investment in the PRC plays on his inaccurate security message to the West that the PRC is a necessary “responsible major country” that implicitly has leverage over the Russians it would willingly use. The PRC MFA readouts of Wang’s meetings with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, as well as subsequent visits to Spain and France after the conference all align with this message by portraying the PRC as desiring economic exchanges with each of these countries.[32] The PRC has lifted travel barriers with several European countries and urged Western countries to stop sanctions and “de-risking” measures against PRC companies.[33]Three of the PRC’s “Big Four” state banks stopped accepting payments from Western-sanctioned Russian financial institutions. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), China Construction Bank (CCB), and Bank of China have rejected payments from sanctioned Russian banks since the start of 2024. Russian newspaper Izvestia reported that the PRC banks began introducing restrictions in December 2023 after the European Union imposed its 12th sanctions package against Russia and the United States authorized secondary sanctions on financial institutions that helped Russia evade sanctions. An unnamed Russian source told Izvestia that ICBC and CCB were rejecting the payments regardless of which system they went through: Europe’s SWIFT, Russia’s SPFS, or the PRC’s CIPS. Other PRC banks have also tightened compliance checks.[34] Zhejiang Chouzhou Commercial Bank, the main PRC bank used by Russian importers, suspended all business with Russian and Belarusian clients including those not under sanctions. The Russian business newspaper Vedomosti reported that Russian businesses feared a “logistics collapse.”[35]Southeast AsiaThe PRC deployed a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) detachment to monitor a joint US-Philippines air force patrol over the South China Sea. The PRC’s Southern Theater Command accused the Philippines of “enlisting foreign countries” to create trouble in the South China Sea and stated that it sent air and naval forces to “closely monitor the situation.”[36] The Philippines Air Force stated that the patrol occurred within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), 90 nautical miles west of its largest island Luzon.[37] The PRC’s actions belong to a trend of increasingly confrontational posture in the South China Sea to undermine the Philippines’ sovereignty over the waters immediately west of its territory.The CCG twice claimed that it expelled Philippines Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) vessels from the waters around Scarborough Shoal on February 15 and 22.[38] The Philippines denied both claims, stating that the ships in question continued to patrol the area to ensure the security of Filipino fishermen.[39] The Philippines regularly deploys BFAR vessels alongside the Philippines Coast Guard to deliver food and supplies to Filipino fishermen around contested features in the South China Sea’s Spratly Islands. The PRC’s claims resemble earlier CCG statements that it “allowed” the Philippines to airdrop supplies to Filipino troops on Second Thomas Shoal on January 21. The Philippines denied that it required anyone’s permission to conduct its activities on the shoal.[40] The PRC regularly attempts to intercept and prevent the Philippines’ resupply missions to the Second Thomas Shoal.OceaniaCompacts of Free AssociationThe loss of Compacts of Free Association (COFA) funding for Palau, Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands risks United States control of key sea lines of communication (SLOC) in East Asia. These COFAs govern the United States’ relationship with Palau, Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands while granting the United States extensive military access throughout their territories. The United States renewed COFAs with Palau and Micronesia in May.[41] It then did so with the Marshall Islands in October.[42] Congress previously funded the COFAs for a twenty-year period in 2003.[43] That funding has now expired. The newly re-signed COFA agreements are now before Congress for funding consideration in the form of H.J.Res.96 and S.J.Res.48.[44] The total cost for all three of the twenty-year agreements would be roughly $7 billion spread over the period 2024 to 2043, according to the Congressional Research Service.[45] The loss of funding also threatens the continuation of the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site in Micronesia, the Department of Defense high-frequency radar system under construction in Palau, as well as the opportunity for the United States Air Force Agile Combat Employment operations to take place in Micronesia.[46]The loss of COFA funding also threatens the security of key SLOCs for the United States that provide a secure route connecting American allies and partners, such as the Philippines and Taiwan, to the US territory of Guam and the state of Hawaii. The United States Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) defines SLOCs as “the principal maritime routes between ports, as used for trade, military, or other purposes.”[47]The loss of Compact of Free Association (COFA) funding for Palau, Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands presents opportunities for the People’s Republic of China to fill the gap in funding to threaten the SLOCs. COFA funding accounts for $36.9 million of Palau’s annual $124.2 million revenue as of fiscal year 2023 and $35.2 million of the Marshall Islands’ annual $173.9 million revenue as of fiscal year 2023.[48],[49] The Presidents of Palau, Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands sent a letter to the leaders of the United States Senate on February 6 stating that they “cannot overstate the importance to all of our nations of final approval [of COFA funding] by the U.S. Congress” and that its delay “has resulted in undesirable opportunities for economic exploitation by competitive political actors active in the Pacific.”[50] “Competitive political actors” is a veiled reference to the Chinese Communist Party.   TuvaluTuvalu is considering reviewing its diplomatic ties with Taiwan after electing its new prime minister.[52] The sixteen representatives elected on January 26, 2024, who comprise the Parliament of Tuvalu, planned to choose a prime minister the week of February 5. Poor weather conditions continue to delay the vote, however, by preventing four elected members of parliament from reaching the capital Funafuti.[53] Tuvalu has not set a new date for the election of the new prime minister. [1] https://udn dot com/news/story/6656/7779686[2] https://www.cga dot gov.tw/GipOpen/wSite/ct?xItem=159716&ctNode=650&mp=999[3] https://www.ccg dot gov.cn//2024/hjyw_0218/2418.html[4] http://www.81 dot cn/yw_208727/16286983.html[5] http://www.news dot cn/tw/20240221/92cf84ff5c08448b938de244721047af/c.html[6] https://www.cga dot gov.tw/GipOpen/wSite/ct?xItem=159716&ctNode=650&mp=999[7] https://news.ltn dot com.tw/news/politics/paper/1631646[8] https://www.cna dot com.tw/news/acn/202402210305.aspx[9] https://www.chinatimes dot com/realtimenews/20240221005380-260407[10] https://www.chinatimes dot com/realtimenews/20240221005114-260407?chdtv[11] https://www.chinatimes dot com/realtimenews/20220826002968-260407[12] https://udn dot com/news/story/123475/7783564[13] https://udn dot com/news/story/123475/7786271[14] https://news.ltn dot com.tw/news/politics/breakingnews/4584943[15] https://udn dot com/news/story/123475/7718848https://www.chinatimes dot com/opinion/20240208002816-262101[16] https://www.chinatimes dot com/realtimenews/20240206002157-260407?chdtv[17] https://www.cisa.gov/news-events/cybersecurity-advisories/aa24-038a[18] https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20240222-massive-leak-shows-chinese-firm-hacked-foreign-govts-activists-analysts-1https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/leaked-hacking-files-show-chinese-spying-on-citizens-and-foreigners-alike[19] https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/leaked-hacking-files-show-chinese-spying-on-citizens-and-foreigners-alike[20] https://www.trellix.com/blogs/research/cyberattack-on-democracy-escalating-cyber-threats-immediately-ahead-of-taiwan-2024-presidential-election/[21] https://www.trellix.com/blogs/research/cyberattack-on-democracy-escalating-cyber-threats-immediately-ahead-of-taiwan-2024-presidential-election/[22] https://www.voanews.com/a/cyber-attacks-spike-suddenly-prior-to-taiwan-s-election-/7485386.html[23] https://www.mfa dot gov.cn/web/wjdt_674879/fyrbt_674889/202402/t20240222_11248543.shtml[24] https://english.news dot cn/20240217/16288606d42445ec9be0b689805a0ca3/c.htmlhttps://hqtime.huanqiu dot com/article/4GcZq6R1PyP[25] https://t.me/MID_Russia/35364[26] https://www.mfa dot gov.cn/web/wjbz_673089/xghd_673097/202402/t20240217_11246040.shtml[27] https://www.mfa dot gov.cn/wjbzhd/202402/t20240218_11246145.shtml[28] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2024-02-17/ukraine-seeks-to-meet-chinese-minister-to-discuss-peace-summit[29] https://www.mfa dot gov.cn/wjbzhd/202402/t20240218_11246145.shtml[30] https://nytimes.com/2023/06/23/business/economy/china-russia-ammunition.htmlhttps://www.reuters.com/world/europe/ukraine-says-it-is-finding-more-chinese-components-russian-weapons-2023-04-14/https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/chinas-march-imports-russian-oil-may-hit-record-shiptracking-data-2023-03-02/[31] https://www.mfa dot gov.cn/web/wjbz_673089/xghd_673097/202402/t20240217_11246040.shtml[32] https://www.mfa dot gov.cn/mfa_eng/wjdt_665385/wshd_665389/202402/t20240217_11245987.htmlhttps://www.mfa dot gov.cn/wjbzhd/202402/t20240219_11246749.shtmlhttps://www.mfa dot gov.cn/wjbzhd/202402/t20240221_11247713.shtmlhttps://www.mfa dotgov.cn/wjbzhd/202402/t20240221_11247709.shtml[33] https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Travel-Leisure/China-courts-Europe-and-Southeast-Asia-with-visa-free-travelhttps://english.news dot cn/europe/20240114/bdd1ffaa253744fa9a730d31be08b296/c.html[34] https://iz dot ru/1653256/mariia-kolobova-milana-gadzhieva/komissiia-bez-perevoda-tri-krupneishikh-banka-knr-perestali-prinimat-platezhi-iz-rf [35] https://www.vedomosti dot ru/economics/articles/2024/02/07/1018866-glavnii-dlya-rossiiskih-importerov-bank-kitaya-ostanovil-vse-rascheti-s-rf [36] https://mp.weixin.qq dot com/s/Qzw0CAxskJ6JJPBgwr9P5Q[37] https://www.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=713603817613863&id=100068927540337&mibextid=WC7FNe[38] https://www.ccg dot gov.cn//2024/hjyw_0215/2417.htmlhttp://www.news dot cn/world/20240222/1ea1e02908174d8b9b1760ba3d4ffafc/c.html[39] https://twitter.com/jaytaryela/status/1758356516242137475https://twitter.com/jaytaryela/status/1760504414086038013[40] https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/philippines-denies-special-arrangements-with-china-supply-troops-reef-2024-01-29/[41] https://www.state.gov/secretary-blinken-witnesses-the-signing-of-the-u-s-palau-2023-agreement-following-the-compact-of-free-association-section-432-review/https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/us-signs-agreement-continue-micronesia-assistance-under-strategic-pact-2023-05-23/[42] https://www.reuters.com/world/us-negotiator-expects-sign-new-deal-with-strategic-marshall-islands-monday-2023-10-16/[43] https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IF/IF12194#:~:text=In%202003%2C%20the%20United%20States,years%20(FY2004%2DFY2023).[44] https://www.congress.gov/bill/118th-congress/house-joint-resolution/96/texthttps://www.congress.gov/bill/118th-congress/senate-joint-resolution/48/text[45] https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IF/IF12194#:~:text=In%202003%2C%20the%20United%20States,years%20(FY2004%2DFY2023).[46] https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IF/IF12194/1[47] https://www.pacom.mil/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=ArRfVhzA3CE%3D&portalid=55[48] https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/CR/Issues/2023/10/16/Republic-of-the-Marshall-Islands-2023-Article-IV-Consultation-Press-Release-Staff-Report-540607, p.3[49] https://www.palaugov dot pw/wp-content/uploads/Economic-and-Fiscal-Update.pdf, p.12[50] https://twitter.com/DerekJGrossman/status/1755306209694093534[51] https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/CR/Issues/2023/10/16/Republic-of-the-Marshall-Islands-2023-Article-IV-Consultation-Press-Release-Staff-Report-540607, p.3https://www.palaugov.pw/wp-content/uploads/Economic-and-Fiscal-Update.pdf, p.12[52] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/china-taiwan-weekly-update-february-2-2023[53] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-02-05/taiwan-tuvalu-beijing-china-pacific-diplomatic-switch-ties-/103421410https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/508573/no-government-yet-tuvalu-mps-still-trapped-in-outer-islandshttps://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/delayed-tuvalu-election-result-highlights-climate-impacts-2024-02-13/ 

[Author: Institute for the Study of War]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 2/27/24 11:50pm
Andie Parry, Peter Mills, and Nicholas CarlInformation Cutoff: 2:00 pm ET The Iran Update provides insights into Iranian and Iranian-sponsored activities abroad that undermine regional stability and threaten US forces and interests. It also covers events and trends that affect the stability and decision-making of the Iranian regime. The Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) provides these updates regularly based on regional events. For more on developments in Iran and the region, see our interactive map of Iran and the Middle East.Note: CTP and ISW have refocused the update to cover the Israel-Hamas war. The new sections address developments in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Lebanon, and Syria, as well as noteworthy activity from Iran’s Axis of Resistance. We do not report in detail on war crimes because these activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We utterly condemn violations of the laws of armed conflict and the Geneva Conventions and crimes against humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.Click here to see CTP and ISW’s interactive map of Israeli ground operations. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report. Click here to subscribe to the Iran Update.Key Takeaways:Northern Gaza Strip: The Israel Defense Forces continued clearing operations in Zaytoun neighborhood, southeastern Gaza City.Southern Gaza Strip: The Israel Defense Forces has continued to conduct clearing operations in western and eastern Khan Younis.West Bank: Israeli forces clashed with Palestinian fighters at least six times in the West Bank.Southern Lebanon and Golan Heights: Iranian-backed militias, including Lebanese Hezbollah, have conducted at least seven attacks from southern Lebanon into northern Israel.Yemen: The USS Mason intercepted a Houthi anti-ship ballistic missile targeting US-flagged, owned, and operated oil tanker MV Torm Thor.Gaza StripAxis of Resistance campaign objectives:Erode the will of the Israeli political establishment and public to launch and sustain a major ground operation into the Gaza StripDegrade IDF material and morale around the Gaza Strip.The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) continued clearing operations in Zaytoun neighborhood, southeastern Gaza City, on February 25. The IDF Nahal Brigade (assigned to the 162nd Division) targeted Palestinian fighters, destroyed rocket launch sites, and located weapons during clearing operations in Zaytoun.[1] IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi held a situational assessment meeting in the northern Gaza Strip with the commanders of Southern Command and the 162nd Division.[2] Halevi stated that Israeli forces are returning to previously cleared areas in the northern Gaza Strip “based on better intelligence“ to ”deepen achievements“ against Hamas.[3]Palestinian militias continued to operate in Gaza City on February 25. Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) fired rockets at an Israeli position east of Jabalia’s eastern cemetery.[4] The IDF 143rd Division directed an airstrike on a Palestinian squad operating a drone in Shati in northwestern Gaza City.[5] The 162nd Division completed a second round of clearing operations in al Shati refugee camp on February 15.[6] PIJ directed sniper fire targeting Israeli forces operating near al Dawla roundabout in Zaytoun.[7] The al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, which is the self-proclaimed military wing of Fatah and aligned with Hamas in the war, fired rockets at Israeli forces south of Zaytoun.[8]The IDF has continued to conduct clearing operations in western and eastern Khan Younis. The IDF Givati Brigade (assigned to the 162nd Division) has operated in Abasan al Kabira and Abasan al Saghira in recent days.[9] The brigade seized a long-range rocket and launcher in a "medical laboratory" in the Abasan area, likely the Algerian Specialized Hospital in Abasan al Kabira.[10] The IDF‘s acknowledgement of its activity in the Abasan al Kabira area is consistent with local Palestinian reports of IDF activity on February 19-20.[11] The IDF 7th Armored Brigade (assigned to the 36th Division) detained Palestinian fighters hiding among and evacuating with civilians in western Khan Younis on February 25.[12] The brigade also killed several Palestinian fighters and seized weapons.[13] IDF 98th Division forces killed a Palestinian drone squad in Khan Younis.[14]The IDF announced on February 25 that its 98th Division commando forces ceased operations at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis.[15] Israeli forces detained over 200 individuals and seized weapons from the hospital.[16] The IDF said it brought multiple rounds of humanitarian aid and a generator to the hospital during its operations.[17] The IDF said it will continue to abide by international law when operating in hospitals in the Gaza Strip.[18]Israeli media reported that the Israeli War Cabinet approved a measure allowing the direct flow of humanitarian aid into northern Gaza Strip on February 24. Channel 12 stated humanitarian aid will begin directly entering the northern Gaza Strip “in the next few days.”[19] Aid currently enters the Gaza Strip via the Kerem Shalom crossing at the southern end of the Gaza Strip and must travel near active fighting in Khan Younis and Zaytoun. Several humanitarian organizations have halted transporting aid to the northern Gaza Strip in the past week, citing security concerns.[20]West BankAxis of Resistance campaign objectives:Draw IDF assets and resources toward the West Bank and fix them thereIsraeli forces have clashed with Palestinian fighters at least six times in the West Bank on February 25.[21]This map is not an exhaustive depiction of clashes and demonstrations in the West Bank.Southern Lebanon and Golan HeightsAxis of Resistance campaign objectives:Draw IDF assets and resources toward northern Israel and fix them thereSet conditions for successive campaigns into northern IsraelIranian-backed militias, including Lebanese Hezbollah, have conducted at least seven attacks from southern Lebanon into northern Israel since CTP-ISW's last data cutoff on February 24.[22]Recorded reports of attacks; CTP-ISW cannot independently verify impact.Iran and Axis of ResistanceAxis of Resistance campaign objectives:Demonstrate the capability and willingness of Iran and the Axis of Resistance to escalate against the United States and Israel on multiple frontsSet conditions to fight a regional war on multiple frontsThe USS Mason intercepted a Houthi anti-ship ballistic missile targeting US-flagged, owned, and operated oil tanker MV Torm Thor on February 24.[23] CENTCOM reported that neither the USS Mason nor the MV Torm Thor were damaged in the Houthi attack.[24]The United States and United Kingdom conducted 18 airstrikes targeting Houthi underground missile storage facilities, one-way attack drones, radars, air defense systems, and a helicopter in Houthi-controlled Yemen on February 24.[25][1] https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1761643947200237727 ; https://twitter.com/AvichayAdraee/status/1761710509437460881[2] https://twitter.com/IDFSpokesperson/status/1761461996849930578[3] https://twitter.com/AvichayAdraee/status/1761466991100002401[4] https://t.me/sarayaps/17480[5] https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1761643949226070449[6] https://www.idf dot il/180657[7] https://t.me/sarayaps/17482[8] https://t.me/nedalps/4003[9] www dot idf.il/182433[10] www dot idf.il/182433 ; https://twitter.com/AvichayAdraee/status/1761712313344651380[11] https://t.me/hamza20300/215430            ; https://t.me/hamza20300/215442 ; https://t.me/hamza20300/215784[12] https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1761643863280591242[13] https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1761643863280591242[14] https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1761643912534385062[15] https://twitter.com/AvichayAdraee/status/1761714877293314392[16] https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1761710242612564041[17] https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1761710246265757701 ; https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1761710250963419174[18] https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1761710263001096547[19] https://www.timesofisrael dot com/liveblog_entry/direct-aid-to-north-gaza-set-to-start-in-next-few-days-after-approval-by-war-cabinet-yesterday-report/[20] https://www.ochaopt.org/content/hostilities-gaza-strip-and-israel-report... ; https://www.aljazeera dot com/news/2024/2/21/wfp-halts-food-deliveries-to-north-gaza-amid-complete-chaos-violence ; https://www.theguardian.com/world/2024/feb/24/unrwa-suspends-aid-to-nort...[21] https://t.me/elaqsa_1965/5831 ; https://t.me/AymanGouda/6067 ; https://t.me/QudsN/375141 ; https://t.me/sarayajneen/1195[22] https://t.me/mmirleb/2240 ; https://t.me/mmirleb/2242 ; https://t.me/mmirleb/2246 ; https://t.me/mmirleb/2248 ; https://t.me/mmirleb/2252 ; https://t.me/C_Military1/46367 ; https://t.me/C_Military1/46369[23] https://twitter.com/army21ye/status/1761520452269146416 ; https://twitter.com/CENTCOM/status/1761456447685267826[24] https://twitter.com/CENTCOM/status/1761456447685267826[25] https://twitter.com/CENTCOM/status/1761512889230479860 ; https://www.gov.uk/government/news/joint-statement-from-australia-bahrai... ; https://www.axios.com/2024/02/24/us-uk-military-houthi-strike-yemen-iran

[Author: Institute for the Study of War]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 2/27/24 11:18pm
Nicole Wolkov, Angelica Evans, Christina Harward, Karolina Hird, and Frederick W. KaganFebruary 25, 2024, 4:30pm ET Click here to see ISW’s interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.Click here to see ISW’s 3D control of terrain topographic map of Ukraine. Use of a computer (not a mobile device) is strongly recommended for using this data-heavy tool.Click here to access ISW’s archive of interactive time-lapse maps of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These maps complement the static control-of-terrain map that ISW produces daily by showing a dynamic frontline. ISW will update this time-lapse map archive monthly.Note: The data cut-off for this product was 12pm ET on February 25. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the February 26 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.Click here to read ISW’s latest warning update on the possibility of Transnistria, a pro-Russian breakaway region of Moldova, calling for Russian annexation or taking other action to support Russian hybrid operations against Moldova.Russian officials and state media largely refrained from publicly discussing the two-year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, likely in an effort to avoid addressing Russia’s failure to achieve its stated war aims at significant human costs. Russian opposition outlet Agentstvo Novosti reported on February 25 that Russian state TV channels Rossiya 1 and Channel One (Perviy Kanal) and Gazprom Media-owned TV channel NTV did not mention the two-year anniversary of the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in broadcasts on February 24.[1] Agentstvo Novosti stated that Russian political commentator Mikhail Leontev noted in a February 24 broadcast of the “Vremya” program on Channel One that it was the two-year anniversary of the start of the war but did not offer further statements on the topic. ISW observed minimal discussion by Russian government officials on the two-year anniversary of the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion on February 24.Russian officials and state-run and state-affiliated TV channels likely refrained from commenting on the two-year anniversary of the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion to avoid drawing attention to Russia’s failures to achieve its stated strategic goals in Ukraine and its more immediate goals of seizing all of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts, while also suffering high personnel losses. A recent Russian opinion poll indicated that Russian sentiments about the war in Ukraine have largely remained unchanged in recent months and that most Russians are largely apathetic to the war, though most do not support a second wave of mobilization.[2] Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian government officials likely refrained from highlighting the second anniversary of Russia‘s full-scale invasion in an effort to maintain public apathy toward the war that, in part, allows Russian officials to continue the war without significant public backlash. ISW continues to assess that Putin is likely aware that a second mobilization wave would be widely unpopular and is concerned that such a measure would generate widespread discontent.[3] Putin may, however, become less concerned about public sentiment after his reelection in March 2024 and determine that Russian force generation requirements outweigh the risks of widespread domestic discontent.Ukrainian officials discussed Ukraine’s goals and priorities for 2024 on February 25 and highlighted the need for continued Ukrainian innovation and Western aid to accomplish Ukraine’s objectives. Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov stated that Ukraine is doing everything “possible and impossible” to make a breakthrough along the frontline and that Ukraine has an undisclosed plan for 2024 that will not only bring “hope” but also yield tangible results.[4] Umerov and Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi visited several Ukrainian command posts in the Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and other directions and noted the importance of protecting Ukrainian personnel from Russian drone and air strikes in certain areas of the front.[5] Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky noted that Ukraine hopes to further reduce Russia’s advantage in battlefield artillery systems, currently estimated to be at a 6 to 1 advantage, ahead of future Ukrainian counteroffensive operations.[6] Zelensky warned that Ukraine could continue to lose territory meter by meter if Ukraine does not receive and produce additional artillery systems.[7] Ukrainian Deputy Commander-in-Chief Colonel Vadym Sukharevskyi highlighted Ukraine’s newly-formed Unmanned Systems Force as an important next step in Ukraine’s war effort that is intended to improve Ukrainian efficiency, systematization, and analysis of drone use.[8] Sukharevskyi reiterated that Ukrainian forces are not trying to use drones to replace artillery systems, but rather as additional weapons to defeat the Russian military.[9] Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Head Lieutenant General Kyrylo Budanov stated that Ukraine needs significant volumes of long-range weapons from Ukraine‘s Western allies, and Zelensky expressed confidence in Western provisions of long-range weapons.[10] Umerov noted that there is a critical difference between the allocation and provision of Western aid to Ukraine, and Budanov added that Russia and Ukraine are currently competing to see who will get the “upper hand” on the battlefield.[11] Several Ukrainian officials, including Zelensky, highlighted plans to hold the first Ukrainian Peace Formula Summit in Switzerland this year and emphasized the importance of further developing Ukraine’s partnership with NATO in 2024.[12]Drone footage posted on February 25 shows Russian forces committing apparent war crimes near Bakhmut. The footage shows Russian forces executing nine Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) who had just surrendered near Ivanivske (on the outskirts of Bakhmut).[13] The execution of POWs is a violation of the Geneva Convention on the Treatment of POWs.[14] The February 25 footage is the fourth such instance of video evidence showing Russian forces executing Ukrainian POWs in the past two weeks alone.[15]The Russian information space continues to be highly sensitive to the recent losses of A-50 long-range radar detection aircraft, suggesting that the issue of deploying and defending these aircraft is of great concern. Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Lieutenant General Kyrylo Budanov stated that Ukrainian forces prepared the operation to shoot down the A-50 for two weeks.[16] Budanov stated that Russia has six more A-50s left and cryptically suggested that another A-50 will “fall” and force Russia to stop sortieing the planes “round-the-clock." A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces reported “to the top” (likely meaning to Russian high command) that a Ukrainian Patriot missile shot down the A-50, but the milblogger and others expressed doubt that this version of events was true and criticized the “systemic” problem of Russian personnel only thinking of themselves and their careers out of “self-preservation.”[17] Ukrainian media previously reported that sources in the Ukrainian GUR stated that Ukraine downed the A-50 with modified S-200 systems.[18] Another Russian milblogger claimed that the loss of a second Russian A-50 this winter is problematic as Russia already had a shortage of these aircraft before its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.[19] The milblogger claimed that Russia will not be able to modernize many A-50s into A-50Us for a number of unspecified technical and organizational reasons and offered possible alternatives, including creating inferior “ersatz” airborne and early warning control systems (AWACS) or purchasing similar aircraft from China.Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Head Lieutenant General Kyrylo Budanov stated that Russia has not received any long-range missiles from Iran as of February 25.[20] Reuters reported on February 21, citing alleged Iranian sources, that Iran provided Russia hundreds of short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) in early January 2024.[21] ISW has not yet observed visual evidence of Russian forces using Iranian missiles in Ukraine but has frequently observed increased Russo-Iranian military cooperation over the backdrop of the war.[22]Key Takeaways:Russian officials and state media largely refrained from publicly discussing the two-year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, likely in an effort to avoid addressing Russia’s failure to achieve its stated war aims at significant human costs.Russian officials and state-run and state-affiliated TV channels likely refrained from commenting on the two-year anniversary of the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion to avoid drawing attention to Russia’s failures to achieve its stated strategic goals in Ukraine and its more immediate goals of seizing all of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts, while also suffering high personnel losses.Ukrainian officials discussed Ukraine’s goals and priorities for 2024 on February 25 and highlighted the need for continued Ukrainian innovation and Western aid to accomplish Ukraine’s objectives.Drone footage posted on February 25 shows Russian forces committing apparent war crimes near Bakhmut.The Russian information space continues to be highly sensitive to the recent losses of A-50 long-range radar detection aircraft, suggesting that the issue of deploying and defending these aircraft is of great concern.Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Head Lieutenant General Kyrylo Budanov stated that Russia has not received any long-range missiles from Iran as of February 25.Russian forces recently made confirmed advances near Bakhmut and Krynky amid continued positional engagements along the entire line of contact on February 25.Russian authorities continue efforts to recruit Ukrainian citizens in occupied Ukraine into the Russian military.Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada Human Rights Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets stated on February 25 that Russia is holding over 28,000 Ukrainian citizens captive in Russian prisons. We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because these activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We will continue to evaluate and report on the effects of these criminal activities on the Ukrainian military and the Ukrainian population and specifically on combat in Ukrainian urban areas. We utterly condemn Russian violations of the laws of armed conflict and the Geneva Conventions and crimes against humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.Russian Main Effort – Eastern Ukraine (comprised of two subordinate main efforts)Russian Subordinate Main Effort #1 – Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and encircle northern Donetsk OblastRussian Subordinate Main Effort #2 – Capture the entirety of Donetsk OblastRussian Supporting Effort – Southern AxisRussian Air, Missile, and Drone CampaignRussian Mobilization and Force Generation EffortsRussian Technological AdaptationsActivities in Russian-occupied areasUkrainian Defense Industrial Base EffortsRussian Information Operations and NarrativesSignificant Activity in BelarusRussian Main Effort – Eastern UkraineRussian Subordinate Main Effort #1 – Luhansk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and northern Donetsk Oblast)Positional engagements continued along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line on February 25, but there were no confirmed changes to the frontline. A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces advanced west of Kreminna near Yampolivka and Terny over the past week.[23] Ukrainian and Russian sources stated that positional fighting continued northeast of Kupyansk near Synkivka; southeast of Kupyansk near Tabaivka; west of Kreminna near Terny and Torske; and south of Kreminna near Bilohorivka.[24] Ukrainian Luhansk Oblast Head Artem Lysohor reported that Russian forces have to spend two or three days regrouping after each assault in the Kupyansk and Lyman directions due to personnel and equipment losses.[25] Elements of the Russian “GORB” detachment are reportedly operating near Bilohorivka.[26]Russian Subordinate Main Effort #2 – Donetsk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)Russian forces recently advanced near Bakhmut on February 25. Geolocated footage published on February 25 indicates that Russian forces recently advanced north of Ivanivske (west of Bakhmut).[27] Positional engagements continued near Ivanivske; northwest of Bakhmut near Bohdanivka; and southwest of Bakhmut near Klishchiivka, Andriivka, Niu York, and Pivdenne.[28] Elements of the Russian 177th Naval Infantry Regiment (Caspian Flotilla) are reportedly operating south of Bakhmut.[29] Russian forces reportedly advanced west of Avdiivka on February 25, but there were no confirmed changes to the frontline. Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces advanced west of Lastochkyne (west of Avdiivka) and began clearing operations in the settlement, although ISW has not observed visual evidence of these claims.[30] Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Spokesperson Dmytro Lykhovyi stated that Ukrainian forces withdrew to the western outskirts of Lastochkyne, where they took up prepared defensive positions.[31] Russian milbloggers continued to claim that Russian forces captured all of Sieverne (west of Avdiivka) and Stepove (northwest of Avdiivka), although ISW has not observed visual evidence of recent advances in these areas.[32] Positional engagements continued northwest of Avdiivka near Novobakhmutivka, Berdychi, and Stepove; west of Avdiivka near Lastochkyne, Tonenke, and Sieverne; and southwest of Avdiivka near Pervomaiske and Nevelske.[33] Elements of the Russian 110th Motorized Rifle Brigade (1st Donetsk People’s Republic Army Corps [DNR AC]) reportedly continue operating in the Nevelske-Pervomaiske area, and elements of the Russian 114th Motorized Rifle Brigade (1st DNR AC) are reportedly operating north of Avdiivka.[34] Ukrainian forces reportedly regained some positions southwest of Donetsk City on February 25, but there were no confirmed changes to the frontline. A Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces regained some positions near Solodke (southwest of Donetsk City).[35] Positional engagements continued west of Donetsk City near Heorhiivka and Krasnohorivka; and south of Donetsk City near Pobieda and Novomykhailivka.[36] Elements of the Russian 150th Motorized Rifle Division (8th Combined Arms Army, Southern Military District) are reportedly operating near Heorhiivka.[37] Russian Supporting Effort – Southern Axis (Russian objective: Maintain frontline positions and secure rear areas against Ukrainian strikes)Limited positional engagements continued in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area on February 25, but there were no confirmed changes to the frontline in this area. Russian and Ukrainian sources reported fighting south of Zolota Nyva and Novodonetske (both southeast of Velyka Novosilka) and near Hulyaipole (45km southwest of Velyka Novosilka).[38] A prominent Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces have created a “strike force” in this direction but noted that the group has not yet entered active combat.[39] The alleged strike force may be referring to uncommitted tactical reserves in this area. Elements of the 218th Tank Regiment (127th Motorized Rifle Division, 5th Combined Arms Army [CAA], Eastern Military District [EMD]) and the 29th CAA (EMD) are reportedly active in this area.[40] Russian forces reportedly advanced within Robotyne amid continued localized offensive operations in western Zaporizhia Oblast. A prominent Kremlin-affiliated milblogger claimed that Russian forces are attacking and advancing in eastern and northern Robotyne, and other Russian milbloggers claimed that heavy fighting is ongoing in and around the settlement.[41] A milblogger additionally claimed that Russian forces captured positions southwest of Verbove (east of Robotyne), but ISW has not yet observed visual evidence of this claim.[42] Some milbloggers additionally noted that Ukrainian forces are trying to counterattack and push Russian troops back to the outskirts of Robotyne.[43] A Russian source also reported that Russian forces have become more active on the Kamyanske sector of the front (about 35km northwest of Robotyne) and that there are ongoing battles in this area.[44] Elements of the Russian 70th Motorized Rifle Regiment (42nd Motorized Rifle Division, 58th CAA, Southern Military District [SMD]) and the 7th and 76th Airborne (VDV) divisions are reportedly active in the Robotyne area.[45] Geolocated footage posted on February 25 shows that Russian forces marginally advanced along Ostap Vyshnyi Street in Krynky.[46] Ukrainian and Russian sources reported continued positional engagements in Krynky despite Russian claims that Russian forces have entirely recaptured the settlement.[47] Elements of the 45th Guards Spetsnaz Brigade and the newly formed 337th VDV Regiment (104th VDV Division) are reportedly operating in and near Krynky.[48] Russian Air, Missile, and Drone Campaign (Russian Objective: Target Ukrainian military and civilian infrastructure in the rear and on the frontline)Russian forces launched 18 Shahed-136/131 drones at Ukrainian rear areas on the night of February 24 to 25.[49] Ukrainian military sources reported that Ukrainian air defense forces destroyed 16 of the Shaheds over Poltava, Kyiv, Khmelnytskyi, Mykolaiv, Kirovohrad, Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhia, and Kherson oblasts.[50] Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command also reported that Ukrainian forces downed two Kh-31P anti-radar missiles over Odesa Oblast overnight on February 24-25.[51]Russian Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts (Russian objective: Expand combat power without conducting general mobilization)Russian authorities continue efforts to recruit Ukrainian citizens in occupied Ukraine into the Russian military. The Ukrainian Presidential Representative in Crimea stated on February 25 that they confirmed that Ukraine has captured at least 41 Russian military personnel from occupied Crimea, most of whom are likely Ukrainian citizens whom Russian occupation authorities forcibly mobilized.[52] The Ukrainian Presidential Representative in Crimea also stated that Russian authorities have set up a mobile military recruitment point in central Simferopol and are “agitating” Crimeans to sign contracts with the Russian military. Ukrainian Luhansk Oblast Military Administration Head Artem Lysohor stated on February 25 that coal mining enterprises in occupied Luhansk Oblast have canceled mobilization exemptions for miners and that Russian medical commissions will begin medical examinations to determine whom to mobilize into the Russian military at the beginning of March 2024.[53] The Ukrainian Resistance Center also stated on February 25 that Russian authorities have mobilized miners in occupied Ukraine to fight for Russia.[54] The forced mobilization of residents of occupied areas of Crimea is likely a violation of international law—the Geneva Convention prevents an occupying power from forcing residents of the area it occupies to serve in the occupying power’s army.[55]Russian Technological Adaptations (Russian objective: Introduce technological innovations to optimize systems for use in Ukraine)Nothing significant to report.Ukrainian Defense Industrial Efforts (Ukrainian objective: Develop its defense industrial base to become more self-sufficient in cooperation with US, European, and international partners)Ukraine continues efforts to bolster its defense industrial base (DIB) for 2024. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal stated on February 25 that Ukraine has tripled its DIB production capacity and has increased the production of drones 100 times.[56] Ukrainian Minister for Strategic Industries Oleksandr Kamyshin reported on February 25 that Ukraine tripled its DIB in 2023 and will increase DIB output sixfold in 2024.[57] Kamyshin also noted that Ukraine had created its own long-range weapon that can hit targets at a range of 700km but did not offer additional specifications about the long-range weapon.[58]Activities in Russian-occupied areas (Russian objective: Consolidate administrative control of annexed areas; forcibly integrate Ukrainian citizens into Russian sociocultural, economic, military, and governance systems)Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada Human Rights Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets stated on February 25 that Russia is currently holding over 28,000 Ukrainian citizens captive in Russian prisons.[59] Lubinets stated that the prisoners include three official representatives of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) whom Russian authorities detained in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. Lubinets stated that Ukraine is searching for new approaches to return the Ukrainian civilians, as international law prohibits exchanges of civilians for civilians. Lubinets stated that Qatari government officials said they were ready to try to negotiate the return of the civilian hostages during a recent meeting. The BBC’s Russian Service reported in January 2024 that Russian authorities have detained thousands of Ukrainian civilians in penal colonies and pre-trial detention centers in Russia and occupied Ukraine without charges, investigations, trials, access to lawyers, or designated release dates.[60]Russian opposition media reported on February 25 that drunk soldiers of the Russian 81st “Medvedi” Volunteer Brigade broke into a cafe in occupied Chornomorske, Crimea and brutally assaulted and fired on residents following a verbal disagreement over the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.[61] Surveillance footage shows the servicemen severely injuring several cafe patrons on the night of February 23 to 24, and Russian milbloggers claimed that the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) has opened a criminal case against the soldiers.[62] Russian opposition outlet Vazhnye Istorii reported that Russian authorities urged them to “keep the story quiet” when they reached out to identify the Russian servicemen involved.[63] The Russian 81st Volunteer Brigade is reportedly affiliated with the Russian “Redut” private military company (PMC) and Crimean occupation head Sergei Akseyonov’s ”Crimean People’s Militia.”[64]Early voting for the March 15-17, 2024 Russian presidential election began in occupied Zaporizhia Oblast on February 25.[65] Kherson Oblast occupation governor Vladimir Saldo stated that early voting will occur in occupied Kherson Oblast from February 27-29 and March 1-3.[66] The Group of Seven (G7) issued a statement on February 24 stating that the G7 will not recognize Russian elections held in occupied Ukraine or their results.[67]Russian Information Operations and NarrativesThe Ukrainian Coordination Center for Treatment of Prisoners of War (POWs) reported on February 25 that Russia is conducting an information operation aimed at spreading domestic distrust in Ukrainian authorities by circulating a list on social media of Ukrainian POWs who Ukrainian authorities allegedly refuse to exchange.[68] The Ukrainian Coordination Center for Treatment of POWs stated that the lists include the names of Ukrainian POWs, but that Russian authorities have not offered these personnel for exchange. ISW has observed several milbloggers participating in this information operation.[69]Significant activity in Belarus (Russian efforts to increase its military presence in Belarus and further integrate Belarus into Russian-favorable frameworks and Wagner Group activity in Belarus)Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko continues to resist the Kremlin’s efforts to integrate Belarus into the Union State framework. Lukashenko stated on February 25 that Russia and Belarus are more powerful as two independent states than one state and that Belarus will “never support” the idea of merging Russia and Belarus.[70]Note: ISW does not receive any classified material from any source, uses only publicly available information, and draws extensively on Russian, Ukrainian, and Western reporting and social media as well as commercially available satellite imagery and other geospatial data as the basis for these reports. References to all sources used are provided in the endnotes of each update. [1] https://t.me/agentstvonews/5162[2] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign...[3] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign...[4] https://suspilne dot media/692180-ukraina-vze-mae-plan-na-2024-rik-umerov/ ; https://meduza dot io/news/2024/02/25/ministr-oborony-ukrainy-u-nas-uzhe-est-moschnyy-plan-na-2024-god-on-dast-rezultat[5] https://t.me/osirskiy/594 ; https://t.me/osirskiy/595 ; https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/25/rustem-umyerov-ta-oleksandr-syrskyj-vidvidaly-peredovi-komandni-punkty-i-pidrozdily-na-fronti/[6] https://suspilne dot media/692382-zelenskij-nazvav-umovu-prosuvanna-ukrainskih-vijsk-na-fronti/[7] https://suspilne dot media/692382-zelenskij-nazvav-umovu-prosuvanna-ukrainskih-vijsk-na-fronti/[8] https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/25/nadijna-pidtrymka-bojovyh-brygad-vadym-suharevskyj-rozpoviv-pro-zavdannya-syl-bezpilotnyh-system/[9] https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/25/ukrayina-ne-namagayetsya-zaminyty-dronamy-artyleriyu-zastupnyk-golovnokomanduvacha-zsu/[10] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/02/25/volodymyr-zelenskyj-rozpoviv-pro-pozytyv-u-peregovorah-shhodo-dalekobijnoyi-zbroyi/ ; https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/02/25/dalekobijna-zbroya-dozvolyt-ukrayini-perelamaty-sytuacziyu-u-vijni-z-rf-kyrylo-budanov/[11] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/02/25/dalekobijna-zbroya-dozvolyt-ukrayini-perelamaty-sytuacziyu-u-vijni-z-rf-kyrylo-budanov/ ; https://suspilne dot media/692042-dvostoronni-ugodi-z-italieu-ta-kanadou-britania-vidilit-grosi-na-artilerijski-boepripasi-732-den-vijni-onlajn/?anchor=live_1708865747&utm_source=copylink&utm_medium=ps[12] https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/25/nachalnyk-gur-nazvav-try-formy-vplyvu-na-vykonannya-rosiyeyu-umov-formuly-myru/ ; https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/25/ukrayina-zaprosyt-na-pershyj-samit-myru-ponad-160-krayin-na-drugomu-mozhe-buty-rf-andrij-yermak/ ; https://www.president dot gov.ua/en/news/lishe-zaproshennya-ukrayini-do-nato-dast-yevropi-ta-svitu-re-89265 ; https://hromadske dot ua/ru/posts/zelenskij-pervyj-sammit-mira-planiruem-provesti-vesnoj-etogo-goda[13] WARNING: Graphic Content https://x.com/EjShahid/status/1761801767031853549?s=20; https://x.com/G...[14] https://ihl-databases.icrc.org/en/ihl-treaties/gciii-1949/article-3[15] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign... https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign...[16] https://suspilne.media/692042-dvostoronni-ugodi-z-italieu-ta-kanadou-bri...[17] https://t.me/belarusian_silovik/30642 ; https://t.me/dva_majors/35201 ; https://t.me/belarusian_silovik/30643 ; https://t.me/dva_majors/35203[18] https://isw.pub/UkrWar022424[19] https://t.me/rybar/57553[20] https://suspilne dot media/692042-dvostoronni-ugodi-z-italieu-ta-kanadou-britania-vidilit-grosi-na-artilerijski-boepripasi-732-den-vijni-onlajn/?anchor=live_1708866625&utm_source=copylink&utm_medium=ps[21] https://isw.pub/UkrWarO22124[22] https://isw.pub/UkrWar020624; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/iran-update-february-15-2024[23] https://t.me/wargonzo/18413[24] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02q8ipCUp4zNHQYVoQM7...[25] https://t.me/luhanskaVTSA/17255[26] https://t.me/sons_fatherland/12882[27] https://x.com/EjShahid/status/1761801767031853549?s=20; https://x.com/GloOouD/status/1761799108996616537?s=20; https://t.me/vdd98/2670; https://t.me/creamy_caprice/4544[28] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid09nZPCZ1rHQJ9xT33UJc... https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1132292224849956 ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02q8ipCUp4zNHQYVoQM7... ; https://t.me/rybar/57540 ; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7662 ; https://t.me/dva_majors/35206 ; https://t.me/wargonzo/18407 ; https://t.me/wargonzo/18413 ; https://t.me/mod_russia/36024[29] https://t.me/boris_rozhin/114303[30] https://t.me/rybar/57540 ; https://t.me/z_arhiv/26130[31] https://suspilne dot media/692276-na-okolicah-lastockinogo-poblizu-avdiivki-trivaut-zapekli-boi-osuv-tavria/[32] https://t.me/negumanitarnaya_pomosch_Z/15148 ; https://t.me/boris_rozh...[33] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02q8ipCUp4zNHQYVoQM7... https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid09nZPCZ1rHQJ9xT33UJc... https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1132292224849956 ; https://www.facebook.com/PresscentrTavria/posts/pfbid0fr6fg9Mmhek4JbDWjH... ; https://t.me/mod_russia/36024 ; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7657 ;...[34] https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62721 ; https://t.me/z_arhiv/26132[35] https://t.me/wargonzo/18407[36] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02q8ipCUp4zNHQYVoQM7... ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid09nZPCZ1rHQJ9xT33UJc... https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1132292224849956 ; https://www.facebook.com/PresscentrTavria/posts/pfbid0fr6fg9Mmhek4JbDWjH... ; https://t.me/dva_majors/35206 ; https://t.me/rybar/57540 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/114366 ; https://t.me/wargonzo/18413[37] https://t.me/prigozhin_2023_tg/8232[38] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02q8ipCUp4zNHQYVoQM7...[39] https://t.me/wargonzo/18413[40] https://t.me/voin_dv/7228; https://t.me/voin_dv/7217 (north of Pryyutne)[41] https://t.me/rybar/57534; https://t.me/dva_majors/35200; https://t.me/...[42] https://t.me/wargonzo/1841[43] https://t.me/boris_rozhin/114366; https://t.me/notes_veterans/15729[44] https://t.me/wargonzo/18407[45] https://t.me/rybar/57534; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62696; https://t.me/R...[46] https://t.me/WarArchive_ua/11481[47] https://t.me/dva_majors/35206; https://t.me/wargonzo/18413; https://ww...[48] https://t.me/rybar/57549; https://twitter.com/666_mancer/status/1761666... https://t.me/BALUhubBALU/8962[49] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid09nZPCZ1rHQJ9xT33UJc... https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/25/syly-oborony-znyshhyly-vnochi-16-shahediv/[50] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid09nZPCZ1rHQJ9xT33UJc... https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/25/syly-oborony-znyshhyly-vnochi-16-shahediv/[51] https://t.me/SJTF_Odes/6536 ; https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/25/syly-ppo-zbyly-na-odeshhyni-dvi-protyradiolokaczijni-rakety-h-31p/[52] https://www.facebook.com/ppu.gov.ua/posts/pfbid02nJUDtuL8ZYFzsxQGvakM3w8...[53] https://t.me/luhanskaVTSA/17255[54] https://sprotyv.mod dot gov.ua/okupanty-mayut-namir-intensyfikuvaty-vydobutok-korysnyh-kopalyn-na-tot/[55] https://guide-humanitarian-law.org/content/article/3/occupied-territory/[56] https://suspilne dot media/692042-dvostoronni-ugodi-z-italieu-ta-kanadou-britania-vidilit-grosi-na-artilerijski-boepripasi-732-den-vijni-onlajn/?anchor=live_1708861766&utm_source=copylink&utm_medium=ps[57] https://www.ukrinform dot ua/rubric-economy/3831915-spromoznosti-vitciznanogo-oboronnogo-sektoru-cogoric-zrostut-usestero-kamisin.html[58] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/02/25/ukrayina-maye-gibrydne-ppo-i-dalekobijnu-zbroyu-yaka-vrazyla-czil-na-700-km-oleksandr-kamyshin/[59] https://suspilne dot media/692042-dvostoronni-ugodi-z-italieu-ta-kanadou-britania-vidilit-grosi-na-artilerijski-boepripasi-732-den-vijni-onlajn/?anchor=live_1708867685&utm_source=copylink&utm_medium=ps[60] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign...[61] https://t.me/istories_media/5220 ; https://meduza dot io/news/2024/02/25/rossiyskie-voennye-izbili-posetiteley-kafe-v-anneksirovannom-krymu; https://t.me/bbcrussian/61198 ; https://www.svoboda.org/a/v-krymu-voen... ru/2024/02/24/73266566/ ; https://t.me/idelrealii/33970 ; https://t.me/astrapress/49229[62] https://www.svoboda.org/a/v-krymu-voennye-brigady-medvedi-zhestoko-izbil... ru/2024/02/24/73266566/ ; https://t.me/idelrealii/33970 ; https://t.me/astrapress/49229 ; http... ua/ru/v-krymu-chvk-medved-napali-na-posetitelej-kafe-krepost-est-postradavshie-24-kanal_n2501856 ; https://crimea-news dot com/society/2024/02/25/1308305.html ; https://t.me/southtower/10323 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/114370[63] https://t.me/istories_media/5220[64] https://www.svoboda.org/a/v-krymu-voennye-brigady-medvedi-zhestoko-izbil... ru/2024/02/24/73266566/ ; https://t.me/idelrealii/33970 ; https://t.me/astrapress/49229[65] https://t.me/berdmisk/6771 ; https://t.me/BalitskyEV/2686 ; https://... gov.ua/okupanty-zazdalegid-pochaly-imitatsiyu-vyboriv/ ; https://t.me/ivan_fedorov_zp/4848; https://t.me/zoda_gov_ua/26597[66] https://t.me/SALDO_VGA/2288[67] https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2024/02/24/...'s%20sovereignty.[68] https://t.me/Koord_shtab/4415 ; https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/25/koordshtab-poperedyv-pro-fejk-u-soczmerzhah-shhodo-polonenyh-yakyh-ukrayina-nibyto-ne-hoche-zabyraty/[69] https://t.me/JokerDPR/736 ; https://t.me/NeoficialniyBeZsonoV/33490 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/114297[70] https://t.me/tass_agency/233367 ; https://t.me/pul_1/11493 ; https:/...

[Author: Institute for the Study of War]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 2/27/24 10:47pm
Africa File, February 23, 2024Author: Liam KarrData Cutoff: February 23, 2024, at 10:00 a.m.To receive the Africa File via email, please subscribe here. Follow CTP on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.CTP is rebranding the Salafi-Jihadi Movement Weekly Update and its related special updates to be named the Africa File starting today, February 23, 2024. The name “Africa File” better reflects the updates’ Africa-centric nature in recent months. “Africa File” also better reflects CTP’s efforts in recent months to cover a wider range of national security interests on the African continent in addition to the Salafi-jihadi movement.The Africa File will provide weekly analysis and assessments of state and non-state actors’ activities in Africa that threaten US personnel and the numerous US national security interests on the continent. US national security interests in Africa include preventing adversaries from using Africa as a base to launch attacks or evade sanctions, ensuring access to strategic minerals and economic markets that are crucial to US supply chains, working with partners to manage potentially destabilizing migration flows to Europe and the US, disrupting transnational crime networks that support illicit markets worldwide, and promoting democracy to prevent the spread of anti-Western authoritarianism. Prominent actors on the African continent that threaten these interests include state powers such as China, Iran, and Russia, as well as non-state groups like the Islamic State and al Qaeda. The Africa File distills open-source information to assess these actors’ campaigns and related security and political issues in Africa that could affect their efforts. Irregular editions may be published based on current events.Key Takeaways:Nigeria. A Hamas delegation visited Nigeria in February, expanding the group’s diplomatic outreach to friendly African countries to increase its international support. The visit follows a long history of Iranian-backed engagement in Africa’s most populous country. Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah (LH) have been active in Nigeria since at least 2010 to increase Iran’s economic and diplomatic clout in line with Iran’s broader “resistance” strategy to erode Western influence on the continent. Iran has also used covert networks in Nigeria and across Africa to create attack threats to Western personnel and interests on the continent as a form of horizontal escalation. Iran’s current focus on the Middle East makes it unlikely to attack Israeli or US targets in Africa, but Iran may choose to try horizontal escalation on the continent in the future.Somalia. Somalia and Turkey signed an economic and military agreement that Somalia likely intends to use to deter the implementation of the Ethiopia-Somaliland port deal. The Somalia-Turkey agreement is a significant economic and geopolitical gain for Turkey, as it will increase Turkey’s long-term influence in vital waterways such as the Bab el Mandeb Strait and present lucrative economic opportunities in Somalia’s exclusive economic zone if Turkey pursues development projects. The Somalia-Turkey agreement will likely increase both countries’ tensions with Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), especially if the agreement includes stipulations on combatting the Ethiopia-Somaliland port.Assessments: NigeriaHamas sent a delegation to Nigeria in February, expanding the group’s diplomatic outreach to friendly African countries to increase international support. A senior Hamas delegation concluded a four-day visit with Nigerian officials and civil society members on February 15.[1] The delegation included the group’s spokesperson, foreign relations head, and former deputy foreign minister.[2] Hamas said the delegation updated stakeholders on the situation in Gaza, general political developments, and Hamas’s positions and praised Nigeria for its position on standing with Palestine and Hamas.[3] Iranian state media republished Hamas’s announcement.[4]The Nigerian government has been pushing for de-escalation and a ceasefire since the October 7 attacks and the beginning of Israeli operations in the Gaza Strip.[5] The Organization of Islamic Cooperation and Arab League also chose Nigeria as the sub-Saharan special delegate to the Arab-Islamic summit in November 2023 and the accompanying special delegation that met with United Nations Security Council (UNSC) officials to broker a ceasefire.[6] Nigeria’s stance reflects strong pro-Palestinian sentiment among Nigeria’s diverse religious population, which has led to large demonstrations.[7]The Nigerian Iranian-backed Shi’a group Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) has been an outspoken advocate of Palestine and Hamas in Nigeria. Nigerian authorities report that the IMN has about 60,000 registered members, while the group claims there are five to 10 million members—more than the estimated four million Shi’ites in Nigeria—who are mostly concentrated in the north.[8] The group’s leader voiced support for Palestine and Hamas alongside Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei when visiting Tehran in October 2023.[9] IMN supporters organized mass pro-Palestinian protests in northern Nigeria shortly following the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war.[10] The group’s leader also said that Palestinians are fighting for the liberation of “every Muslim” and symbolize the way in which the oppressed of the world need to resist during a January interview with the Iranian regime’s English language outlet Press TV.[11]Hamas officials have traveled to South Africa and Egypt to rally international support and advance ceasefire talks since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas War. A Hamas delegation traveled to South Africa for a commemoration of the birthday of former South African President Nelson Mandela, who was a vocal supporter of Palestine, in December 2023.[12] South Africa has been an outspoken critic of Israel’s military operations in the Gaza Strip, has maintained ties with Hamas officials, and brought a genocide case against Israel in the International Court of Justice in January 2024.[13] Hamas has also sent officials to Egypt multiple times since October 2023 to participate in ongoing ceasefire and hostage discussions.[14]The Hamas visit follows a long history of Iranian-backed engagement in Nigeria, where Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah have been active since at least 2010. Lebanese diaspora populations and decades of soft-power proselytizing efforts have grown Nigeria’s Shi’ite minority, and Lebanese Hezbollah (LH) exploits this population for its illicit activities.[15] LH’s Foreign Relations Department and Business Affairs Component had networks in Nigeria that the US Treasury sanctioned in 2015 for “scout[ing] recruits for Hezbollah’s military units, as well as . . . creat[ing] and support[ing] Hezbollah’s terrorist infrastructure for its operational units in Africa and globally.”[16] Nigerian officials caught suspected Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps–Quds Force (IRGC-QF) and LH operatives smuggling weapons into Nigeria in 2010 and 2013.[17] Iran also controls the Hausa-language Hausa TV radio and TV platform, which it has used to run information operations supporting its interests in Nigeria.[18]Iran and LH also have direct ties to the IMN. The IMN’s leader, Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, founded the group in the early 1980s after being inspired by the Iranian revolution and studying in Iran.[19] The group rejects the Nigerian government’s authority in favor of an Iranian-style theocracy.[20] The government banned the group in 2019 for threatening the state.[21] The IMN has also orchestrated numerous mass protests, which has helped multiply its political influence and led to several military crackdowns on its followers.[22]LH and the Iranian regime have provided financial, military, and political support to the IMN. The Middle East Institute reported in 2019 that LH was providing ideological and military training to IMN members in Lebanon.[23] This assistance has helped the IMN replicate some of LH’s media, recruitment, and social welfare models in Nigeria.[24] Zakzaky visited Lebanon in 2015 and did an interview with LH-owned and -operated al Manar TV during the trip.[25] A former US State Department official estimated in 2017 that the group received approximately $120,000 per year from Iran.[26] Zakzaky also has an office in Mashhad, Iran; has done numerous TV interviews with Iranian regime–affiliated outlets; and met with Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei in Tehran in mid-October 2023.[27]Zakzaky has also espoused anti-American rhetoric in line with the Iranian regime’s framing. He accused the United States of compelling other countries to support Israel and allow US military bases in Africa during his January interview.[28] Zakzaky also echoed the Iranian regime’s praise of the recent coups and actions by the juntas in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger as anti-colonial uprisings against the West.[29] These statements continue a long-standing trend of Zakzaky parroting the Iranian regime’s framing of the US in regime-affiliated outlets.[30]Iranian activity in Nigeria and across Africa aims to increase Iran’s economic and diplomatic clout as part of the regime’s revisionist “resistance” strategy to erode Western influence worldwide. Iran is advancing a global resistance strategy through which it seeks to secure partnerships that offset the West’s diplomatic and economic isolation of Iran. The Iranian regime sees resistance as a counterbalancing strategy against the geopolitical structure of international relations.[31] It views the United States as enforcing the geopolitical structure and posing an existential threat to the Islamic Republic.[32] Iran’s resistance politics have led most notably to its group of Middle East proxies called the Axis of Resistance, but the regime has emphasized that this approach is not limited to the Middle East and should be expanded to Africa to increase pressure on the United States and the West.[33]Iran has sought to boost economic ties with African countries since Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi took office in 2021 as part of his “neighborhood policy.”[34] This policy aims to grow economic ties with non-Western partners to undermine Western sanctions and enable Iran to de-emphasize rapprochement with the West.[35] Nigeria has Africa’s largest economy, according to the latest World Bank statistics from 2022, and is already Iran’s third-largest trading partner in Africa.[36]Iran also seeks to strengthen diplomatic ties with African countries to undermine Western efforts to politically isolate Iran and other revisionist states in institutions like the United Nations.[37] Nigeria is a leader on the continent and has long campaigned for a permanent African seat in the UNSC due to its size, economy, and participation in peacekeeping missions.[38] Numerous international leaders, including US President Joe Biden, have voiced their support for reforming the UNSC and adding permanent seats for Africa and other underrepresented regions.[39] Nigeria’s leading role among sub-Saharan countries pursuing a ceasefire since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war underscores its current diplomatic sway in international relations regardless of any future UNSC membership.Iran has attempted to use its covert apparatus to attack US and Western personnel and interests in Nigeria and across Africa as a form of horizontal escalation multiple times over the past decade. Kenyan and Nigerian officials claimed to disrupt plots backed by the IRGC-QF and LH in 2013 that aimed to attack British, Israeli, Saudi, and US targets in both African countries as the US tightened sanctions on the Iranian regime.[40] One of the Nigerian cells had conducted surveillance on the United States Agency for International Development, the Peace Corps, and hotels frequented by Americans and Israelis in Lagos.[41]Iran surged attack plots between 2019 and 2022. Anonymous Western intelligence officials told the Telegraph in June 2019 that former IRGC-QF Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani had organized attack cells in the Central African Republic, Chad, Gambia, Ghana, Niger, and Sudan to attack Western targets in response to new US sanctions.[42] US intelligence exposed a potential Iranian plot to assassinate the US ambassador to South Africa in 2020 in retaliation for the US assassination of Soleimani.[43] Security forces also thwarted IRGC-QF-backed plots against Israeli tourists and Jewish centers in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, and Tanzania in 2021 and US targets in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2022.[44] The repeated failure of Iranian-backed attacks increases the likelihood of adaptation and future success.[45]Figure 1. Iran-Backed Attack Plots in Africa Since 2013 Source: Liam Karr.Iran’s current focus on the Middle East makes it unlikely to carry out imminent attacks against Israeli or US targets in Africa, but Iran may choose to try horizontal escalation on the continent in the future. Iranian-backed proxies across the Middle East have increased operations against American, Israeli, and international targets across the region since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war.[46] These are the same kinds of targets Iran has tried to attack in its Africa attack plots. Iran’s plot targeting the US ambassador in South Africa after the US killing of Soleimani, as well as other Iranian plots, also shows it views Africa as a battleground for horizontal escalation in response to developments in the Middle East.[47] There is no evidence of active Iranian plots in Africa since October 2023, however, and Iran appears focused on capitalizing on the Israel-Hamas war to advance higher-priority objectives in the Middle East instead of horizontally escalating elsewhere.[48] Iran’s Middle East proxies also have significantly greater capabilities, internal motivations, and domestic popular support than IRGC-QF-backed attack cells in Africa have.SomaliaSomalia and Turkey signed an economic and naval deal that Somalia likely intends to deter an Ethiopian port in Somaliland as regional tensions over the Ethiopia-Somaliland port deal have continued to simmer. Somali officials and media say the agreement authorized Turkey to build, train, and equip the Somali navy and deploy ships to combat illegal activity and remove “any external violations or threats” to Somalia’s coast in exchange for Turkey receiving 30 percent of the revenue from the Somali exclusive economic zone.[49] The Somali and Turkish ministers of defense signed the deal on February 8, and the Somali government approved the agreement on February 21.[50]Regional tensions over a port deal between Ethiopia and the de facto independent Somaliland Republic have continued to simmer in recent weeks. Ethiopia and Somaliland announced at the beginning of January that they had signed a deal that would grant Ethiopia land in Somaliland for a naval base in return for recognizing Somaliland’s independence.[51] The Somali Federal Government (SFG) has repeatedly claimed the deal violates its sovereignty.[52] The Somali president more recently accused Ethiopian security forces of barring him and his security detail from leaving his hotel to attend the African Union (AU) Summit on February 17, while Ethiopia claimed the Somali president had denied a security detail assigned to him.[53] The Somali president eventually arrived at the AU headquarters with the Djiboutian president’s security team and gave a speech in which he accused Ethiopia of wanting to “annex part of Somalia.”[54] Unknown actors in Somaliland also attempted to disrupt Mogadishu’s control of Somali airspace by issuing conflicting air traffic control directions near Somaliland’s capital at least 10 times on the weekend of February 17.[55]Somalia likely wants the Somalia-Turkey agreement to deter Ethiopia and Somaliland from implementing the Ethiopia-Somaliland port deal.[56] The SFG has repeatedly threatened to retaliate if Ethiopia and Somaliland implement the deal but does not have the capacity to do so itself.[57] Turkey has been one of Somalia’s primary economic and security partners since 2011 and already has a military base in Mogadishu.[58] However, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud denied the agreement is related to the Ethiopia-Somaliland deal.[59]The Somalia-Turkey naval agreement is a major economic and geopolitical gain for Turkey but could increase tensions between Turkey and Ethiopia. The deal will increase Turkish and pro-Turkish naval presence near critical waterways off the Somali coast, such as the Bab el Mandeb Strait, allowing Turkey to increase its geopolitical influence in the region. The Turkish navy is already present in the Red Sea as part of UN anti-piracy efforts but is branding the Somali naval deal as another way it can combat piracy, illegal fishing, and other issues.[60] Turkey’s 30 percent stake in the Somali exclusive economic zone holds significant economic potential if Turkey can help develop Somalia’s “blue economy,” which refers to economic activities in the ocean and coastal areas, including fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, shipping, and offshore oil and gas extraction.[61] This includes potentially 30 billion barrels of undeveloped gas and oil deposits.[62]The Somalia-Turkey deal and its implications could threaten multiple Ethiopian aims in the region. The Turkish navy could to disrupt any implementation of the Ethiopian-Somaliland port deal under the rationale of protecting Somalia’s sovereignty as Turkey has explicitly condemned the deal as violating Somalia’s sovereignty.[63] Turkey has already explicitly condemned the Ethiopia-Somaliland deal as violating Somalia’s sovereignty.[64] Disrupting its implementation would jeopardize Ethiopia’s plans to gain Red Sea access, which the Ethiopian prime minister repeatedly described as an existential issue in July and October 2023.[65] Egypt has also vocally supported the SFG, which fits a growing trend of Egyptian-Turkish alignment since 2022 that threatens Ethiopia’s position in negotiations on its hydroelectric Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam by removing Turkey as a staunch anti-Egypt ally.[66]It is unclear whether Turkey agreed to disrupt a potential Ethiopian port in Somaliland, which would put Turkey’s significant economic investments in Ethiopia at risk. Turkish officials did not clarify any details until February 22, when a Turkish defense official said the agreement aims to combat “illegal and irregular activities in its [Somalia’s] territorial waters.”[67] This vague language applies to non-state threats such as piracy, illegal fishing, and weapon smuggling, which could exempt Turkey from an obligation to confront the Ethiopia-Somaliland port.[68] Turkey is the second-largest foreign investor in Ethiopia and invested $2.5 billion in projects in the country by the end of 2021.[69] Turkey also provided TB2 Bayraktar drones to the Ethiopian government during the Tigray civil war.[70]The Somalia-Turkey naval agreement will likely also increase both countries’ tensions with the UAE. The agreement indirectly comes at the expense of the UAE, which is a primary backer of Ethiopia and is competing with Turkey for influence in Somalia. Ethiopia has invested billions into Ethiopia since 2018 and also sent arms during the Tigray war.[71] CTP previously assessed that this strong relationship meant that an Ethiopian port would strengthen the UAE’s position vis-à-vis other middle powers competing for spheres of influence in the Horn of Africa.[72] The UAE also has significant security ties with Somalia, where it helps train and provide salaries for thousands of Somali soldiers to combat al Qaeda’s Somali affiliate, al Shabaab.[73] Al Shabaab killed at least four Emirati trainers in an attack on February 10.[74]Turkey and the UAE have been rivals for over the last decade as they competed to both consolidate internal support and expand their regional influence. Turkey pursued this by backing Islamist actors in the Middle East and North Africa after the Arab Spring, while the UAE viewed Islamist movements as a security threat to their dynastic rule and an avenue for increased Turkish encroachment in the region.[75] This rivalry led the countries to take opposing sides on issues such as the Libyan civil war and the Qatar-Gulf dispute, although they have increased diplomatic and economic cooperation since 2021.[76]Al Shabaab condemned the agreement despite its anti-Ethiopian viewpoint due to Turkey’s role in supporting counterterrorism operations against the group and its strong nationalist sentiments. Al Shabaab declared the Somalia-Turkey deal “null and void” and directly compared it to the Ethiopia-Somaliland deal—which it also condemned—saying it is “a violation similar to, if not greater than” the Ethiopia-Somaliland deal.[77] CTP previously assessed that the group would use the increase in anti-Ethiopian sentiment to boost funding and recruitment, but anti-Turkish sentiment is likely less salient among most Somalis due to Somalia and Turkey’s shared Muslim identity and the historical rivalry between Ethiopia and Somalia.[78]Turkey trains a Somali special forces unit at its base in Mogadishu and in Turkey, and it has sold TB2 drones to the SFG, which the SFG uses against al Shabaab.[79] Al Shabaab has repeatedly condemned Turkey in its media publications and targeted the Turkish base, Turkish-trained units, and Turkish nationals in retaliation.[80] The group is also staunchly nationalist and rejects foreign interference in ethnically Somali areas, including parts of Ethiopia and Kenya with ethnically Somali majorities.[81] [1] https://t.me/hamasps/19534[2] https://x.com/azelin/status/1758230208384004381?s=20[3] https://t.me/hamasps/19534[4] https://www.irna dot ir/news/85388192; 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https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-03-08/as-trump-makes-threats-iran-makes-friends; https://english.alarabiya.net/features/2019/08/07/Iranian-funded-Islamic-Movement-in-Nigeria-banned-amid-fears-of-violence; https://www.hoover.org/research/iran-all-wrong-places-islamic-republics-shadowy-presence-west-africa; https://www.mei.edu/publications/hezbollah-allegedly-training-nigerian-shiites-expand-influence-west-africa[25] https://www.islamicmovement.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1979%3Ashaikh-ibraheem-zakzaky-attends-scholars-of-resistance-summit-in-beirut-participants-vow-to-confront-israel&catid=41%3Afrontpage; https://www.islamicmovement.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1979%3Ashaikh-ibraheem-zakzaky-attends-scholars-of-resistance-summit-in-beirut-participants-vow-to-confront-israel&catid=41%3Afrontpage[26] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-03-08/as-trump-makes-threats-iran-makes-friends[27] https://www.hudson.org/node/44280[28] https://www.presstv dot ir/Detail/2024/01/08/717806/Interview-with-Sheikh-Zakzaki[29] https://www.presstv dot ir/Detail/2024/01/08/717806/Interview-with-Sheikh-Zakzaki[30] https://iranpress dot com/sheikh-zakzaky-us-plot-in-lt-gen-soleimani-s-case-fails; 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https://www.tehrantimes dot com/news/474374/Neighborhood-policy-neutralized-U-S-sanctions; https://www.mei.edu/publications/iran-and-gcc-connectivity-agenda-implication-washingtons-iran-policy[36] https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.CD?locations=ZG&most_recent_value_desc=true; https://www.iranintl.com/en/202307074269; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-july-14-2023[37] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/salafi-jihadi-movement-update-special-edition-blinken-visits-west-africa-as-former-sahelian-counterterrorism-partners-continue-to-slide-into-russia-and-irans-orbit[38] https://www.channelstv dot com/2023/10/04/its-time-for-nigeria-to-join-un-security-council-says-foreign-affairs-minister; https://carnegieendowment.org/2023/06/28/un-security-council-reform-what-world-thinks-pub-90032#nigeria; https://www.jstor.org/stable/26664091; https://punchng dot com/nigerias-permanent-seat-in-un-security-council[39] https://www.voaafrica.com/a/u-s-wants-africa-on-u-n-security-council-/6758283.html; 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[Author: Institute for the Study of War]

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[l] at 2/27/24 9:57pm
Peter Mills, Ashka Jhaveri, Annika Ganzeveld, Kathryn Tyson, and Nicholas CarlInformation Cutoff: 2:00pm ET The Iran Update provides insights into Iranian and Iranian-sponsored activities abroad that undermine regional stability and threaten US forces and interests. It also covers events and trends that affect the stability and decision-making of the Iranian regime. The Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) provides these updates regularly based on regional events. For more on developments in Iran and the region, see our interactive map of Iran and the Middle East.Note: CTP and ISW have refocused the update to cover the Israel-Hamas war. The new sections address developments in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Lebanon, and Syria, as well as noteworthy activity from Iran’s Axis of Resistance. We do not report in detail on war crimes because these activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We utterly condemn violations of the laws of armed conflict and the Geneva Conventions and crimes against humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.Click here to see CTP and ISW’s interactive map of Israeli ground operations. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.Iran and the Houthis are likely using their attacks in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden to test and refine their approach to striking naval targets. Houthi leader Abdulmalik al Houthi stated on February 22 that the group will “escalate” its operations targeting shipping around the Red Sea.[1] Abdulmalik added that the group would introduce "submarine weapons,” likely referring to unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV), but gave no further details.[2] CENTCOM reported that the Houthis used a UUV for the first time to threaten shipping around the Red Sea on February 17.[3] The Houthis — enabled directly by Iran — have used combinations of cruise and ballistic missiles as well as aerial, surface, and underwater drones to attack civilian and military vessels around the Red Sea since November 2023. Iranian military advisers are providing targeting intelligence to support the Houthis’ attacks targeting US naval vessels.[4] US naval vessels have regularly intercepted Houthi munitions targeting civilian and military vessels off the coast of Yemen. These Houthi attacks provide Iran and the Houthis opportunities to evaluate the effectiveness of different strike packages to understand how they can evade and overwhelm US defenses more effectively.Key Takeaways:Yemen: Iran and the Houthis are likely using their attacks in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden to test and refine their approach to striking naval targets.Northern Gaza Strip: The Israel Defense Forces 162nd Division continued to conduct clearing operations in Zaytoun, eastern Gaza City.Southern Gaza Strip: Israeli forces continued to conduct clearing operations in western Khan Younis.Political Negotiations: Hamas said that there may be progress in negotiations with Israel over a prisoner-for-hostage deal.Iraq: Former Iraqi Parliament Speaker Mohammad al Halbousi discussed the US military presence in Iraq with US Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Chris Coons and US Ambassador to Iraq Alina Romanowski.Iran: Iranian Strategic Foreign Relations Council Chairman Kamal Kharazi met with senior Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad officials in Tehran.Gaza StripAxis of Resistance campaign objectives:Erode the will of the Israeli political establishment and public to launch and sustain a major ground operation into the Gaza StripDegrade IDF material and morale around the Gaza Strip.The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) 162nd Division continued to conduct clearing operations in Zaytoun, eastern Gaza City, on February 22.[5] Israeli forces launched new, “division-wide” clearing operation in Zaytoun on February 20.[6] Israeli forces killed approximately 20 fighters and directed airstrikes to attack over 10 unspecified targets. Palestinian militias, including Hamas, clashed with Israeli forces in Zaytoun using small arms and anti-tank rocket-propelled grenades (RPG).[7]Palestinian militias used mortars and rockets in most of their attacks targeting Israeli forces in the northern Gaza Strip on February 22.[8] CTP-ISW cannot determine the point of origin of any of the indirect fire attacks. The militias targeted Israeli positions in Zaytoun as well as in the northeastern Gaza Strip.[9] The Palestinian Mujahideen Movement mortared an IDF “dispatch site” east of Beit Hanoun.[10] The Palestinian Mujahideen Movement is a Palestinian faction aligned with Hamas that has expressed close ties with Iran.The IDF Nahal Brigade (assigned to the 162nd Division) located and destroyed rocket launchers during clearing operations in the central Gaza Strip on February 22.[11] Palestinian fighters had rigged the launchers to explode, according to the IDF.Israeli forces continued to conduct clearing operations in western Khan Younis on February 22. The IDF Givati Brigade (assigned to the 162nd Division) used sniper fire to ambush a Palestinian fighter cell in western Khan Younis.[12] The IDF 89th Commando Brigade (assigned to the 98th Division) located weapons and documents affiliated with Hamas during clearing operations in the area.[13] The Hamas-run Gazan Health Ministry reported on February 22 that Israeli forces raided Nasser Hospital in western Khan Younis shortly after withdrawing from it.[14] Nasser Hospital had been the largest functioning hospital in the Gaza Strip until Israeli forces raided it on February 15.[15] Israel received “credible intelligence” that Hamas-held hostages were in the hospital and detained ”hundreds” of Hamas fighters there.[16]Hamas said that there may be progress in negotiations with Israel over a prisoner-for-hostage deal. Hamas International Relations head Musa Abu Marzouk said on February 22, “there may be progress in the negotiations of a prisoner swap in the near future.”[17] The Wall Street Journal reported on February 22 that Egyptian officials said that Hamas is ready to lower the number of Palestinian fighters it wants released as part of a deal.[18] Israel previously refused to further engage in hostage talks because Hamas demanded that Israel release thousands of Palestinian prisoners as part of the deal.[19] The Egyptian officials also stated that Hamas will not release Israeli soldiers until there is a permanent ceasefire and a full Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Hamas wants a plan where more hostages are released only if progress is made in ending the war during a ceasefire. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly emphasized that Israeli forces will continue the ground offensive until Hamas is defeated.[20]Israel agreed to send negotiators to Paris for hostage talks on February 23 after the United States urged Israel to do so.[21] Israeli media reported on February 22 that the Israeli war cabinet approved sending negotiators to Paris.[22] US National Security Council Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk met with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant during a meeting in Israel on February 22.[23] McGurk told Gallant that there has been progress in the negotiations between Egyptians and Qatari mediators and Hamas, according to three sources with knowledge on the issue who spoke to Axios.[24] CIA director Bill Burns is expected to travel to Paris on February 23 to hold talks with Qatari and Egyptian officials.[25]Gallant told McGurk that the Israeli government “will expand the authority given to our hostage negotiators” while simultaneously “preparing [for] the continuation of intense ground operations” in the Gaza Strip.[26] Netanyahu previously ordered Israeli negotiators exclusively to listen during the most recent meeting between US, Israeli, Egyptian, and Qatari officials on February 13 in Cairo.[27] Gallant emphasized to McGurk that the IDF must “dismantle” the remaining Hamas battalions in the central and southern Gaza Strip.[28]Palestinian militias conducted two indirect fire attacks from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel on February 22.[29]West BankAxis of Resistance campaign objectives:Draw IDF assets and resources toward the West Bank and fix them thereIsraeli forces have clashed with Palestinian fighters at least four times in the West Bank since CTP-ISW's last data cutoff on February 21.[30]Three Palestinian attackers fired small arms at Israeli civilian vehicles at an Israeli checkpoint outside of Jerusalem on February 22.[31] The attackers killed one Israeli civilian and injured at least eleven others before Israeli police killed all three attackers at the checkpoint.[32] Several Palestinian militia groups, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, praised the attack.[33]This map is not an exhaustive depiction of clashes and demonstrations in the West Bank.Southern Lebanon and Golan HeightsAxis of Resistance campaign objectives:Draw IDF assets and resources toward northern Israel and fix them thereSet conditions for successive campaigns into northern IsraelLebanese Hezbollah has conducted at least 12 attacks from southern Lebanon into northern Israel since CTP-ISW's last data cutoff on February 21.[34]Recorded reports of attacks; CTP-ISW cannot independently verify impact.Iran and Axis of ResistanceAxis of Resistance campaign objectives:Demonstrate the capability and willingness of Iran and the Axis of Resistance to escalate against the United States and Israel on multiple frontsSet conditions to fight a regional war on multiple frontsFormer Iraqi Parliament Speaker Mohammad al Halbousi discussed the US military presence in Iraq with US Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Chris Coons and US Ambassador to Iraq Alina Romanowski on February 22.[35] Halbousi, Coons, and Romanowski discussed the ongoing negotiations between Washington and Baghdad about the status of the US-led coalition mission to defeat ISIS. The United States and Iraq began these negotiations in late January 2024.[36] Halbousi described the negotiations as important for creating a “sustainable bilateral partnership” between the United States and Iraq.[37] Halbousi, Coons, and Romanowski also emphasized the need to “maintain security cooperation” between the United States and Baghdad to root out the “remnants of terrorism.” Iran and its Iraqi proxy and partner militias have intensified their campaign to expel the United States from Iraq since October 2023.[38] Halbousi previously released a statement on February 14 warning “war merchants and seditionists from the Islamist parties” against “tampering with the stability of Anbar [Province],” implying that Halbousi might oppose Iranian-backed efforts to expel the United States from Iraq.[39]Unspecified individuals unsuccessfully attempted to assassinate State of Law Coalition parliamentarian Bagher Kadhim Naser al Saadi in al Jadriyah, Baghdad, on February 22.[40] Former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki heads the State of Law Coalition. This assassination attempt comes amid an uptick in likely politically motivated killings between competing Shia factions in Baghdad and southern Iraq in recent weeks.[41] The Houthis claimed attacks targeting Israel, a commercial ship, and a US warship on February 22. The group launched two anti-ship ballistic missiles that hit the UK-owned, Palau-flagged MV Islander in the Gulf of Aden.[42] The Houthis separately claimed an attack targeting an unspecified US destroyer in the Red Sea.[43] US CENTCOM stated that it intercepted six Houthi one-way attack drones in the Red Sea.[44] The Houthi military spokesperson claimed the group launched drones and missiles targeting unspecified targets in Eilat, Israel.[45] Israel intercepted a surface-to-surface missile south of Eilat on February 21.[46]Iranian Strategic Foreign Relations Council Chairman Kamal Kharazi met with senior Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad officials in Tehran on February 22.[47] Kharazi claimed that “resistance” is the only way for Palestinians to achieve their goals and confront Israel during a meeting with senior Hamas official Osama Hamdan and PIJ Political Bureau member Ali Abu Shahin.[48] Hamdan and Shahin explained the “latest state” of the war in the Gaza Strip and thanked the Iranian regime for supporting Palestinian militias. Hamdan and Shahin are both based in Lebanon. Kharazi is a senior foreign policy adviser to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.[49]Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei repeated his criticism of unspecified Muslim countries for failing to sever political and economic ties with Israel during a meeting with Quran reciters on February 22.[50] Khamenei has, even before the Israel-Hamas war began, repeatedly called on Muslim countries to isolate Israel.[51][1] https://twitter.com/i/web/status/1760684578203935132[2] https://twitter.com/i/web/status/1760684578203935132[3] https://twitter.com/CENTCOM/status/1759243031126135168[4] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/us-navy-admiral-talks-iranian-support-houthis-red-sea-60-minutes/ ; https://www.wsj.com/world/middle-east/iranian-military-technology-and-advisers-aid-houthi-attacks-in-red-sea-officials-say-6ee971f2[5] https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1760562722880528701[6] https://twitter.com/GLZRadio/status/1759939842937385257[7] https://t.me/elaqsa_1965/5793; https://t.me/qassam1brigades/1651[8] https://t.me/jeninqassamm/4639; https://t.me/elaqsa_1965/5791; https://t.me/darebmojahden/4431; https://t.me/darebmojahden/4435; https://t.me/qassam1brigades/1652; https://t.me/sarayaps/17456; https://t.me/sarayaps/17459[9] https://t.me/elaqsa_1965/5791; https://t.me/qassam1brigades/1652[10] https://t.me/darebmojahden/4431[11] https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1760562735421477329[12] https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1760562738693083412[13] https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1760562738693083412[14] https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/israel-raids-nasser-hospital-again-gaza-ministry-says-2024-02-22/[15] https://www.who.int/news/item/20-02-2024-who-transfers-critical-patients-out-of-nasser-medical-complex--fears-for-safety-of-remaining-patients; https://www.cnn.com/2024/02/21/middleeast/gaza-nasser-hospital-doctor-besieged-intl/index.html; https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/israel-raids-nasser-hospital-again-gaza-ministry-says-2024-02-22/[16] https://twitter.com/IDF/status/1758071158946038180; https://www.cnn.com/2024/02/21/middleeast/gaza-nasser-hospital-doctor-besieged-intl/index.html[17] https://www.jpost dot com/breaking-news/article-788319[18] https://www.wsj.com/world/middle-east/white-house-arab-states-ramp-up-talks-to-free-gaza-hostages-364a5d5a[19] https://www.axios.com/2024/02/14/gaza-hostage-talks-netanyahu-egypt-qatar; https://apnews.com/article/israel-hamas-war-news-02-14-2024-15eb8cbd5f15d52928711193081fe9c6[20] https://twitter.com/IsraeliPM/status/1758958021604995240; https://twitter.com/IsraeliPM/status/1758958027422519318[21] https://www.axios.com/2024/02/22/israel-hamas-hostage-talks-gaza-biden-netanyahu; https://www.axios.com/2024/02/22/israel-gaza-hostage-talks-netanyahu-biden[22] https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/israel-hits-gazas-rafah-hamas-chiefs-trip-raises-truce-hopes-2024-02-22/[23] https://www.axios.com/2024/02/22/israel-hamas-hostage-talks-gaza-biden-netanyahu[24] https://www.axios.com/2024/02/22/israel-hamas-hostage-talks-gaza-biden-netanyahu[25] https://www.axios.com/2024/02/21/gaza-hostage-israel-hamas-cia-biden[26] https://www.haaretz dot com/israel-news/2024-02-22/ty-article-live/rocket-sirens-sound-in-eilat-u-k-weighs-suspending-arms-exports-to-israel/0000018d-cef4-df79-a5cd-eefe9ca40000?liveBlogItemId=1329204611&utm_source=site&utm_medium=button&utm_campaign=live_blog_item#1329204611[27] https://www.axios.com/2024/02/14/gaza-hostage-talks-netanyahu-egypt-qatar[28] https://www.haaretz dot com/israel-news/2024-02-22/ty-article-live/rocket-sirens-sound-in-eilat-u-k-weighs-suspending-arms-exports-to-israel/0000018d-cef4-df79-a5cd-eefe9ca40000?liveBlogItemId=1329204611&utm_source=site&utm_medium=button&utm_campaign=live_blog_item#1329204611[29] https://t.me/sarayaps/17458[30] https://t.me/QudsN/373933; https://t.me/QudsN/373944; https://t.me/QudsN/373949; https://t.me/elaqsa_1965/5789; https://twitter.com/IntelliTimes/status/1760565866700140961[31] https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/22/world/middleeast/israel-west-bank-checkpoint-shooting.html?smid=url-share; https://www.cnn.com/2024/02/22/middleeast/jerusalem-shooting-attack-intl-hnk[32] https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/22/world/middleeast/israel-west-bank-checkpoint-shooting.html?smid=url-share; https://twitter.com/JoeTruzman/status/1760713009918620140?s=20; https://www.timesofisrael dot com/one-killed-11-wounded-in-terror-shooting-attack-near-jerusalem-checkpoint/[33] https://t.me/pflpgaza1/13852; https://t.me/QudsN/374059; https://t.me/QudsN/374058; https://t.me/mojahdeenpal/4244; https://t.me/AymanGouda/6061[34] https://t.me/mmirleb/2168; https://t.me/mmirleb/2172; https://t.me/mmirleb/2174; https://t.me/mmirleb/2176; https://t.me/mmirleb/2178; https://t.me/mmirleb/2182; https://t.me/QudsN/374131; https://t.me/mmirleb/2184; https://t.me/mmirleb/2186; https://t.me/mmirleb/2190; https://t.me/mmirleb/2193; https://t.me/mmirleb/2195; https://t.me/mmirleb/2197[35] https://twitter.com/AlHaLboosii/status/1760716447083385021[36] https://apnews.com/article/iraq-us-talks-to-end-coalition-mission-f782db4c6550ab31ef02ef3c1793ee7b[37] https://twitter.com/AlHaLboosii/status/1760716447083385021[38] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-february-20-2024[39] https://almadapaper dot net/view.php?cat=306715;https://twitter.com/AlHaLboosii/status/1757345739213000859?s=20;https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-february-14-2024[40] https://twitter.com/Tammuz_Intel/status/1760608496414814299?s=20;https://t.me/TuthiatAlshiyea/63768[41] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-february-20-2024[42] https://twitter.com/army21ye/status/1760726288568869116 ; https://twitter.com/CENTCOM/status/1760701137655591273[43] https://twitter.com/army21ye/status/1760726288568869116[44] https://twitter.com/CENTCOM/status/1760701137655591273[45] https://twitter.com/army21ye/status/1760726288568869116[46] https://twitter.com/GLZRadio/status/1760519621042434056 ; https://www.cbsnews.com/news/houthi-ship-attack-gulf-of-aden-red-sea-iran-yemen-rebels-israel-hamas-war/[47] https://defapress dot ir/fa/news/652857[48] https://defapress dot ir/fa/news/652857[49] https://ecfr.eu/special/mapping_palestinian_politics/ali-abu-shaheen/;https://twitter.com/MiddleEastEye/status/1753432710616637680[50] https://www.leader dot ir/fa/content/26998[51] https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/irans-khamenei-says-normalising-ties-with-israel-is-betting-losing-horse-state-2023-10-03/

[Author: ISWKF]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 2/27/24 9:19pm
 Riley Bailey, Christina Harward, Karolina Hird, Grace Mappes, and Frederick W. KaganFebruary 27, 2024, 9:15pm ETClick here to see ISW’s interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.Click here to see ISW’s 3D control of terrain topographic map of Ukraine. Use of a computer (not a mobile device) is strongly recommended for using this data-heavy tool.Click here to access ISW’s archive of interactive time-lapse maps of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These maps complement the static control-of-terrain map that ISW produces daily by showing a dynamic frontline. ISW will update this time-lapse map archive monthly.Note: The data cut-off for this product was 1:30pm ET on February 27. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the February 28 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.Russian forces are attempting to exploit tactical opportunities offered by the Russian seizure of Avdiivka and appear to be maintaining a relatively high tempo of offensive operations aimed at pushing as far as possible in the Avdiivka area before Ukrainian forces establish more cohesive and harder-to-penetrate defensive lines in the area. Russian forces temporarily decreased their tempo of operations as they cleared Avdiivka following the Russian seizure of the settlement on February 17, but have since resumed a relatively high tempo of assaults further west and northwest of Avdiivka.[1] Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Spokesperson Dmytro Lykhovyi stated on February 27 that Russian forces have recently increased the size of their assault groups in the Tavriisk direction (Avdiivka through western Zaporizhia Oblast) from small squad-sized groups to platoon-sized and even company-sized groups.[2] Russian forces are currently focusing assaults west of Avdiivka in the direction of Berdychi, Orlivka, and Tonenke, where Ukrainian forces established immediate defensive positions to cover their withdrawal from Avdiivka and to receive oncoming Russian offensive operations.[3] Lykhovyi and Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Commander Oleksandr Tarnavskyi stated that Ukrainian forces have stabilized their defensive lines along the Tonenke-Orlivka-Berdychi line as of February 27.[4] Ukrainian military observers characterized Ukrainian fortifications west of Avdiivka as “disappointing” and ”problematic,” however.[5] Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces are struggling to hold defensive positions immediately west of Avdiivka and forecasted that Ukrainian forces will concentrate on a defensive line further west that Ukrainian forces began constructing in November 2023.[6]Russian forces are likely continuing attempts to advance in order to deprive Ukrainian forces of the respite that would allow Ukraine to establish a more cohesive and harder-to-penetrate defensive line in the immediate vicinity of Avdiivka. The seizure of Avdiivka has allowed Russian forces to press on positions that Ukrainian forces have manned for a shorter period than Ukrainian positions in Avdiivka or further west, and Russian forces are likely sustaining a high operational tempo to try to exploit this tactical opportunity. Russian forces may be able to seize settlements immediately west and northwest of Avdiivka in the coming weeks, but terrain and water features further west of Avdiivka, particularly the body of water that runs between Berdychi-Semenivka-Orlivka, will likely slow the already relatively slow rate of Russian advances in the area. This difficult terrain will likely constrain further Russian tactical gains and allow Ukrainian forces to establish prepared defensive positions that will likely prompt the eventual culmination of the current Russian offensive effort in the area at least until or unless the Russians reinforce their attacking elements.[7]Russian forces are likely attempting to create an operational maneuver force for the exploitation of recent Russian advances in the Avdiivka direction. Ukrainian military observer Kostyantyn Mashovets stated on February 27 that Russian forces have formally transferred responsibility for the Donetsk City-Avdiivka axis to the Russian Central Grouping of Forces and formally transferred the Central Grouping of Forces’ previous area of responsibility (AOR) in the Lyman direction to Russia’s Western Grouping of Forces.[8] Russia’s Western Grouping of Forces (likely comprised almost entirely of elements of the Western Military District [WMD]) assumed responsibility for at least a portion of the Lyman direction in late fall and early winter 2023 after the Russian command transferred the bulk of the committed formations of the Central Grouping of Forces (primarily comprised of elements of the Central Military District [CMD]) to the offensive effort to seize Avdiivka in October 2023.[9] Russian officials have recently praised the Central Grouping of Forces for the seizure of Avdiivka and have notably highlighted CMD Commander Colonel General Andrei Mordvichev and increasingly identified the Avdiivka direction as the AOR of the Central Grouping of Forces.[10] The Russian command may have decided to codify the de facto command structure that has existed in the Avdiivka area since late Fall 2023 to explicitly establish a maneuver force intended to exploit recent Russian advances in the area. The Avdiivka-Donetsk axis is a relatively narrower AOR compared to the AORs of other Russian force groupings in Ukraine, and this focused responsibility suggests that the Russian military command likely intends for CMD elements to continue offensive efforts in the Avdiivka area in the near and medium term.The Russian command likely hopes that the reorganization of command structures will establish more cohesive Russian grouping of forces throughout the theater in Ukraine. Russian forces recently reorganized the command structure of the Russian grouping of forces in southern Ukraine, abolishing an unnamed grouping of forces that defended against the Ukrainian summer 2023 counteroffensive and distributing its elements between the Russian “Dnepr” Grouping of Forces (AOR in Kherson Oblast and western Zaporzihia Oblast) and the Russian Eastern Grouping of Forces (AOR in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area and western Donetsk Oblast).[11] The Russian Western Grouping of Forces has launched an ongoing multi-axis offensive operation along the Kharkiv-Luhansk Oblast border and has designed elements of that operation based on its control over a cohesive force grouping along a wide AOR.[12] Mashovets noted that the transfer of the Avdiivka-Donetsk City axis to the Central Grouping of Forces bisects the Russian Southern Grouping of Forces, which previously had responsibility for the frontline from the Bakhmut direction through the Marinka direction.[13] It is unclear if this bisection will generate further command and control (C2) difficulties for Russian forces near Bakhmut and west and southwest of Donetsk City beyond the pervasive C2 issues that Russian forces already face writ large in Ukraine.[14] This apparent Russian reorganization effort suggests that the Russian command may be attempting to implement lessons it has learned about organizing command structures in areas in which it intends to prioritize offensive efforts as the more cohesive Russian groupings of forces are engaged in more concerted or broader offensive efforts.Recent developments in Transnistria, the pro-Russian breakaway region of Moldova, are unlikely to pose a military threat to Ukraine and will more likely impact Moldova’s European Union (EU) integration prospects. Ukrainian officials stated that Russian drones flew into Moldovan airspace on the night of February 26-27 during a Russian strike series targeting Ukrainian rear areas.[15] The Moldovan Ministry of Defense (MoD), however, denied that any drones flew over Moldova.[16] ISW continues to assess that the Russian forces currently in Transnistria are not capable of posing a meaningful military threat to Ukraine without reinforcements, which Russia has no likely way of bringing to Transnistria rapidly or at scale, and ISW has not observed any clear indications of Russian military preparations to intervene in Transnistria or Moldova more generally.[17] The flight of a drone over Moldovan airspace has more direct implications for Moldovan sovereignty than for Ukrainian security.ISW is amending its warning forecast in light of continued Transnistrian officials’ statements that the upcoming Congress of Transnistrian Deputies will discuss Moldovan economic policies, likely related to changes to Moldova’s Customs Code that went into effect on January 1, 2024.[18] ISW issued a warning forecast on February 22 and assessed that Transnistrian officials may call for a referendum on annexation to Russia during the Congress of Transnistrian Deputies on February 28 to support Russian hybrid operations intent on politically and socially destabilizing Moldova.[19] The last Congress of Transnistrian Deputies was convened in March 2006, at which Transnistrian deputies decided to hold a referendum on Transnistria’s independence and future subsequent annexation into Russia.[20] The 2006 congress similarly occurred a few weeks after Ukraine imposed new customs regulations on Transnistria.[21] While the referendum received overwhelming popular support in 2006, neither Russia nor Transnistria advanced legal mechanisms for annexation at that time.Moldova’s path towards EU membership required Moldova to change to its Customs Code to align with EU regulations.[22] Moldova had previously exempted Transnistrian businesses from paying duties to the Moldovan government for Transnistrian imports from and exports to the EU and instead allowed Transnistrian businesses to pay duties to the Transnistrian government.[23] Transnistria responded to the January 2024 changes requiring that Transnistrian businesses pay required duties to the Moldovan government by increasing taxes on about 2,000 Moldovan businesses in Transnistria, but Transnistrian President Vadim Krasnoselsky stated on February 24 that customs payments to the Transnistrian budget still decreased by 18 percent since the start of 2024.[24]Major actors in Transnistria have varying economic and political interests. The American Enterprise Institute’s Critical Threats Project (CTP) previously assessed that Transnistria is a mafia state run by Viktor Gushan, whose company Sheriff Enterprises controls a majority of the Transnistrian economy and receives large portions of Transnistria’s government spending.[25] Gushan’s businesses have been heavily oriented towards the EU after Moldova signed a trade deal with the EU in 2014 that guaranteed tariff-free access to EU markets. Gushan’s businesses would also benefit from the reestablishment of good Ukrainian-Transnistrian relations, as Transnistria imported and exported most of its goods through Ukraine until Ukraine closed those borders in 2022 due to Russia's full-scale invasion — facts that would give Gushan good reason to oppose Transnistrian annexation into Russia for economic reasons. EU officials have indicated that Moldova could join the EU without Transnistria.[26] Gushan may prefer a Western-oriented Moldova in which Transnistria enjoys special tax exceptions over annexation into Russia or Moldovan EU membership without Transnistria. Moldova, however, is unlikely to reverse its customs code changes given its current commitment to joining the EU. Gushan’s calculus, therefore, is complex, and his preferences are unclear at this time. ISW will provide an update following the Congress of Deputies on February 28.Russia may also hope to exploit a hybrid play in Transnistria taking advantage of recent developments. Gushan likely competes with the Transnistrian Ministry of State Security (MGB), reportedly a “department” of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) that takes orders from the Kremlin.[27] Citizens of both Russian-influenced regions of Moldova — Transnistria and Gagauzia — notably recently protested Moldova’s new Customs Code.[28] Russia may attempt to exploit domestic opposition to Moldovan policies to sow instability in Moldova and delay Moldova’s accession to the EU.Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu continues to highlight recent Russian tactical successes in Ukraine as substantial battlefield victories for political purposes ahead of the upcoming Russian presidential election. Shoigu addressed the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) board on February 27 and reported that Russian forces are continuing efforts to improve their positions in the Donetsk (Avdiivka) and Kupyansk (Kharkiv-Luhansk Oblast border area) directions.[29] Shoigu reported that Russian forces have pushed Ukrainian forces out of Lastochkyne and Sieverne (both west of Avdiivka) and Pobieda (southwest of Donetsk City) and claimed that Russian forces have captured about 327 square kilometers of territory since the beginning of 2024. ISW currently assesses that Russian forces have captured closer to 205 square kilometers since January 1, 2024, and Shoigu likely deliberately overstated Russian territorial gains. Shoigu’s promotion of the Russian capture of very small settlements of limited tactical significance suggests that the Russian MoD is trying to emphasize even such small gains to present an image of a constantly advancing Russian military. All three of the settlements that Shoigu chose to prominently highlight are comprised of small semi-urban areas spanning a few blocks, so Russian forces’ capture of these settlements was a very tactical endeavor. ISW recently assessed that the Russian MoD is likely trying to play up recent tactical gains to generate positive informational effects before the March 2024 presidential election.[30]Shoigu additionally highlighted Russia’s Central and Eastern Military Districts (CMD and EMD) to posture against supposed anti-Russian activity in Central Asia and the Indo-Pacific.[31] Shoigu discussed security challenges emanating from Central Asia, specifically highlighting threats from Afghanistan, a purported increase in the number of Islamic State fighters in the region, and the spread of “radical ideology and subversive activities” targeted at the southern borders of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Shoigu claimed that the CMD will focus efforts on responding to various “crisis situations” in the Central Asian region through military exercises with CSTO member states. Shoigu also emphasized that the CMD is equipped with Iskander-M ballistic missiles and Tornado-G MLRS systems. Iskander-M and Tornado-Gs are not weapons systems particularly appropriate for responding to terrorist threats. Shoigu was more likely highlighting the capabilities of the CMD in this region to posture and project the impression of Russian military power and tacitly to threaten retaliation in the case of any perceived anti-Russian activities in this region. Shoigu also accused the US of fomenting tensions in the Indo-Pacific region and claimed that the EMD is increasing its combat capabilities in response to rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula and around Taiwan. Shoigu also likely intended to project the image of Russian military might into the Indo-Pacific and tacitly threaten the US for its own efforts in this region while also supporting efforts to portray itself as an equal Indo-Pacific security partner for China. The bulk of CMD and EMD personnel, commanders, and military district-level assets are currently heavily committed in Ukraine, and the Russian military command may feel this vulnerability in Russia’s ability to protect its southern and eastern flanks or play the role that the Kremlin desires to play in the geopolitics of both regions.Ukrainian forces have reportedly shot down two Russian Su-34s on February 27, the tenth downed Russian military aircraft within roughly as many days. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces downed two Russian Su-34 fighter jets on February 27, at least one of which was downed in eastern Ukraine.[32] Ukrainian Air Force Spokesperson Colonel Yuriy Ihnat stated on February 21 that Ukrainian forces have downed seven Russian Su-34 and Su-35 fighter jets since February 16.[33] The February 27 Su-34 shoot-downs are likely connected with Russian glide bomb strikes in Donetsk Oblast, particularly near Avdiivka as Russian forces use heavy glide bomb strikes in an attempt to exploit gains in the Avdiivka area. Ukraine’s downing of a Russian A-50 long-range radar detection aircraft on February 23 has likely constrained Russian strategic reconnaissance capabilities. Ihnat stated that Russian forces have not deployed another A-50 over the Sea of Azov since the downing and have increased their use of aerial reconnaissance drones across the theater to compensate.[34]Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) reported on February 27 that the ongoing Russian information campaign to demoralize Ukrainian society will intensify between March and May 2024.[35] The SBU reported that the information campaign, which they call “Maidan-3," intends to sow panic and discontent among the Ukrainian population and drive a wedge between civilians and military and political leadership. The Ukrainian Presidential Intelligence Committee reported that Russia has spent a total of $1.5 billion on this information campaign (including $250 million on information operations on the Telegram messaging app alone) and noted that this spending is on par with Russia’s spending on conventional military activities. The SBU noted that the information campaign will intensify from March to May 20, 2024 to exploit the Ukrainian political situation and foment distrust in and discontent with the Ukrainian government. The March to May timeline is significant—if Russia had not illegally invaded Ukraine, the Ukrainian presidential election would have been scheduled to occur on March 31, 2024 and May 20, 2024 is the fifth anniversary of Zelensky’s inauguration.[36] Russia appears to be pursuing this extremely costly information campaign to undermine trust in Ukrainian leadership and spread discontent with the aim of weakening Ukrainian society.Russia likely tested an element of its Sovereign Internet on February 27, likely in an effort to strengthen control over individual aspects of the Russian information space. Russian sources reported several widespread outages of prominent social media platforms on February 27, including Telegram, YouTube, VKontakte (VK), Viber, WhatsApp, and Zoom, and later reported that service has since been restored.[37] Russian sources also reported that Russians were able to access some blocked social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, during the outage.[38] Russian State Duma Committee on Information Policy Deputy Head Anton Tkachev stated that Russian federal censor Roskomnadzor caused the outage while testing and reconfiguring gateways to identify and close “bottlenecks” to prohibited content.[39] BBC Russian Service quoted Russian organization ”Network Freedoms” as saying that Roskomnadzor may have been adjusting settings related to “technical means of countering threats” (TSPU), a set of tools that Russian federal law obligates Russian telecom providers to possess.[40] “Network Freedoms” told BBC Russian Service that Roskomnazdor is developing procedures and training specialists to use TSPU to centrally manage the Russian internet and develop a service on state-affiliated social media network VK to better censor content on the site.[41] Russia is likely attempting to expand this centralization to other social media sites that are active in Russia given the Kremlin’s tensions with other social media platforms. Russia has declared Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp parent company Meta as a “terrorist” organization, and Telegram has refused to comply with some of the Kremlin’s more extensive censorship measures.[42]Key Takeaways:Russian forces are attempting to exploit tactical opportunities offered by the Russian seizure of Avdiivka and appear to be maintaining a relatively high tempo of offensive operations aimed at pushing as far as possible in the Avdiivka area before Ukrainian forces establish more cohesive and harder-to-penetrate defensive lines in the area.Russian forces are likely attempting to create an operational maneuver force for the exploitation of recent Russian advances in the Avdiivka direction.The Russian command likely hopes that the reorganization of command structures will establish more cohesive Russian grouping of forces throughout the theater in Ukraine. Recent developments in Transnistria, the pro-Russian breakaway region of Moldova, are unlikely to pose a military threat to Ukraine and will more likely impact Moldova’s European Union (EU) integration prospects. ISW is amending its warning forecast in light of continued Transnistrian officials’ statements that the upcoming Congress of Transnistrian Deputies will discuss Moldovan economic policies, likely related to changes to Moldova’s Customs Code that went into effect on January 1, 2024.Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu continues to highlight recent Russian tactical successes in Ukraine as substantial battlefield victories for political purposes ahead of the upcoming Russian presidential election. Shoigu additionally highlighted Russia’s Central and Eastern Military Districts (CMD and EMD) to posture against supposed anti-Russian activity in Central Asia and the Indo-Pacific.Ukrainian forces have reportedly shot down two Russian Su-34s on February 27, the tenth downed Russian military aircraft within roughly as many days.Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) reported on February 27 that the ongoing Russian information campaign to demoralize Ukrainian society will intensify between March and May 2024.Russia likely tested an element of its Sovereign Internet on February 27, likely in an effort to strengthen control over individual aspects of the Russian information space.Russian forces advanced west of Avdiivka amid continued positional engagements across the theater.A Ukrainian official warned that Russia seeks to ramp up force generation efforts in occupied Ukraine following the formal integration of occupied and claimed Ukrainian territories into the Russian Southern Military District (SMD).Russian authorities are reportedly systematizing the adoption of deported Ukrainian children in Russia. We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because these activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We will continue to evaluate and report on the effects of these criminal activities on the Ukrainian military and the Ukrainian population and specifically on combat in Ukrainian urban areas. We utterly condemn Russian violations of the laws of armed conflict and the Geneva Conventions and crimes against humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports. Russian Main Effort – Eastern Ukraine (comprised of two subordinate main efforts)Russian Subordinate Main Effort #1 – Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and encircle northern Donetsk OblastRussian Subordinate Main Effort #2 – Capture the entirety of Donetsk OblastRussian Supporting Effort – Southern AxisRussian Air, Missile, and Drone CampaignRussian Mobilization and Force Generation EffortsRussian Technological AdaptationsActivities in Russian-occupied areasUkrainian Defense Industrial Base EffortsRussian Information Operations and NarrativesSignificant Activity in BelarusRussian Main Effort – Eastern UkraineRussian Subordinate Main Effort #1 – Luhansk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and northern Donetsk Oblast)Positional fighting continued along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line on February 27, but there were no confirmed changes to the frontline in this the area. A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces advanced up to 500 meters deep north of Synkivka (northeast of Kupyansk) and 300 meters deep west of Kreminna near Terny and Torske, although ISW has not observed visual confirmation of these claims.[43] Positional fighting continued northeast of Kupyansk near Synkivka; northwest of Svatove near Ivanivka, Kyslivka, and Tabaivka; and west of Kreminna near Terny.[44] Ukrainian Khortytsia Group of Forces Spokesperson Captain Ilya Yevlash stated that Russian forces in the Kupyansk and Lyman directions are conducting glide bombs strikes on Ukrainian artillery positions and tank crews and are using Shahed-136/131 drones to strike Ukrainian frontline positions.[45] The spokesperson for a Ukrainian brigade operating in the Kupyansk direction stated that Russian forces continue to conduct offensive operations towards Kupyansk with an alternating intensity, wherein Russian forces initially attack for a period, then decrease the tempo of their offensive operations after suffering losses to regroup and replenish, and then later intensify assaults once again.[46] ISW has previously assessed that Russian forces likely intend to alternate the intensity of operations along the entire Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line in a staggered manner in order to allow Russian forces to periodically regroup and prepare for future assaults.[47] Elements of the 144th Motorized Rifle Division’s 283rd and 388th motorized rifle regiments (20th Combined Arms Army [CAA], Western Military District [WMD]) and elements of the 25th CAA’s 31st and 37th motorized rifle regiments and 19th Tank Regiment reportedly continue to operate west of Kreminna near Yampolivka and Terny.[48] Russian Subordinate Main Effort #2 – Donetsk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)Russian forces reportedly advanced west of Bakhmut amid continued positional engagements in the Bakhmut direction on February 27. Several Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces advanced on the northern and southeastern outskirts of Ivanivske (directly west of Bakhmut) and are moving towards the center of the village.[49] Ukrainian Khortytsia Group of Forces Spokesperson Captain Ilya Yevlash noted that Chechen Akhmat units are attacking southwest of Bakhmut near Klishchiivka and Kurdyumivka in an attempt to break through to Chasiv Yar (west of Bakhmut).[50] Ukrainian and Russian sources noted that heavy fighting is ongoing northwest of Bakhmut near Bohdanivka; west of Bakhmut near Ivanivske; and southwest of Bakhmut near Andriivka, Klishchiivka, and Kurdyumivka.[51] Elements of the Russian 331st Guards Airborne (VDV) Regiment (98th VDV Division) continue to operate northwest of Bakhmut between Bohdanivka and Ivanivske.[52] Ukrainian military observer Kostyantyn Mashovets reported that elements of the 102nd Motorized Rifle Regiment (150th Motorized Rifle Division, 8th Combined Arms Army [CAA], Southern Military District [SMD]) recently arrived in the Bakhmut direction and advanced northeast of Ivanivske.[53]Russian forces advanced west of Avdiivka following Ukrainian forces’ withdrawal from two settlements in the area on February 27. Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Spokesperson Dmytro Lykhoviy stated on February 27 that Ukrainian forces withdrew from Sieverne (west of Avdiivka) and Stepove (northwest of Avdiivka) after fierce battles overnight on February 26-27.[54] The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) subsequently claimed that Russian forces completely captured Sieverne.[55] Lykhoviy also reported that Ukrainian forces stabilized their defenses along the Tonenke-Orlivka-Berdychi line that runs just west of the Sieverne-Stepove area.[56] Geolocated footage posted on February 27 shows a Russian soldier of the 15th Motorized Rifle Brigade (2nd CAA, Central Military District [CMD]) in western Stepove, confirming that Russian forces have captured the settlement.[57] Additional geolocated footage posted on February 27 shows that Russian forces advanced along a windbreak northwest of Avdiivka.[58] Russian sources also claimed that Russian forces advanced into northeastern Orlivka (about 3km west of Avdiivka) and east and southeast of Berdychi (about 4km northwest of Avdiivka), although ISW has not yet observed visual confirmation of Russian advances on the outskirts of these two small settlements.[59] A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces advanced about 2.68km wide and 1.1km deep in the general Avdiivka direction on February 27.[60] Elements of the Russian 15th and 21st Motorized Rifle Brigades (both 2nd CAA, CMD), 35th and 55th Motorized Rifle Brigades (both 41st CAA, CMD), and various 1st Donetsk People’s Republic Army Corps (DNR AC) elements continue to fight in the Avdiivka direction.[61]Russian forces reportedly advanced west and southwest of Donetsk City on February 27, although ISW has not observed visual confirmation of changes to the frontline in this area. A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces advanced in southern Krasnohorivka and northwest of Marinka (both west of Donetsk City).[62] Milbloggers additionally claimed that Russian forces advanced within eastern Novomykhailivka (southwest of Donetsk City), although ISW has not observed visual confirmation of recent Russian advances in Novomykhailivka.[63] Ukrainian and Russian sources reported continued positional engagements west of Donetsk City near Krasnohorivka and Heorhiivka and southwest of Donetsk City near Novomykhailivka and Pobieda.[64]Russian Supporting Effort – Southern Axis (Russian objective: Maintain frontline positions and secure rear areas against Ukrainian strikes)Positional engagements continued in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area on February 27, but there were no confirmed changes to the frontline. Ukrainian and Russian sources stated that positional engagements continued near Vuhledar; south of Velyka Novosilka near Staromayorske and Urozhaine; southwest of Velyka Novosilka near Malynivka; and southeast of Hulyaipole near Marfopil.[65] Positional engagements continued in western Zaporizhia Oblast on February 27, but there were no confirmed changes to the frontline. Ukrainian and Russian forces stated that positional engagements continued near Robotyne and Verbove (east of Robotyne).[66] One Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces may have seized Robotyne but noted that this information is still unconfirmed.[67] Other milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces still maintain positions in Robotyne, and ISW has not observed visual evidence showing that Russian forces have completely captured the settlement.[68] Elements of the Chechen ”Vostok” Akhmat Battalion are reportedly operating near Robotyne.[69] Positional engagements continued in east (left) bank Kherson Oblast near Krynky on February 27.[70] Ukrainian officials continued to highlight the structural inferiority of the Black Sea Fleet (BSF) base in Novorossiysk, Krasnodar Krai. Ukrainian Navy Spokesperson Captain Third Rank Dmytro Pletenchuk stated on February 27 that Russian forces are still loading Kalibr missile systems on ships and submarines at the Russian naval base in occupied Sevastopol, Crimea because the base in Novorossisyk lacks the capacity to handle such missiles.[71] Pletenchuk also stated that the Novorossisyk base has less space for ships to dock and lacks the infrastructure to house Russian personnel and their families.Russian Air, Missile, and Drone Campaign (Russian Objective: Target Ukrainian military and civilian infrastructure in the rear and on the frontline)The Ukrainian Air Force stated that Russian forces launched an unspecified number of Iskander-M ballistic missiles and North Korean-provided Kn-23 missiles, four Kh-59 cruise missiles, one Kh-31P anti-radar missile, and 13 Shahed-136/131 drones on the night of February 26 to 27 and that Ukrainian forces shot down two Kh-59s and 11 Shaheds over Kharkiv, Sumy, Dnipropetrovsk, Khmelnytskyi, and Kirovohrad oblasts.[72] A Kremlin-affiliated Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces have used a “qualitatively different approach” in the strikes over the past few days and are targeting Ukrainian aviation infrastructure.[73] ISW has observed Russian forces employing various strike packages against Ukrainian infrastructure over the past several days.Russian Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts (Russian objective: Expand combat power without conducting general mobilization)A Ukrainian official warned that Russia seeks to ramp up forcible mobilization efforts in occupied Ukraine following the formal integration of occupied Ukrainian territories into the Russian Southern Military District (SMD). Ukrainian Berdyansk Military Administration Head Viktoriya Halitsyna reported on February 27 that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decree incorporating occupied Ukraine into the SMD enters into force on March 1, after which Russia will formally conduct mobilization and conscription in occupied Ukraine until April 1.[74] These efforts, if confirmed, likely aim to bolster Russia’s ongoing crypto-mobilization efforts in Russia and occupied Ukraine and do not likely reflect a broader Russian willingness to conduct another wave of mobilization. Russia’s forcible mobilization of a population it occupies is likely a violation of international law.[75]South Korean Defense Minister Shin Won-sik reportedly stated on February 27 that North Korea munitions factories are operating at full capacity to supply munitions to Russia.[76] South Korean news agency Yonhap News Agency cited Shin as estimating that North Korea has shipped 6,700 containers of munitions and equipment to Russia since September 2023, enough to hold up to three million 152mm artillery rounds or 500,000 122mm artillery rounds. Shin reportedly stated that North Korea’s weapons factories, unlike its munitions factories, are only operating at 30 percent capacity due to supply shortages. Shin reportedly stated that Russia appears to be supplying North Korea with food, raw materials and parts for weapons manufacturing, and likely satellite-related technology in exchange for the weapons deliveries.Russian Technological Adaptations (Russian objective: Introduce technological innovations to optimize systems for use in Ukraine)Nothing significant to report.Ukrainian Defense Industrial Efforts (Ukrainian objective: Develop its defense industrial base to become more self-sufficient in cooperation with US, European, and international partners)Ukraine’s European partners continue efforts to source and finance artillery shells for Ukraine. Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala stated that 15 European states are involved in the Czech Republic’s initiative to source weapons for Ukraine from outside of EU member states.[77] Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte stated that the composition of this coalition is classified information but that the Netherlands has allocated more than 100 million euros (about $108 million) to this initiative.[78] French President Emmanuel Macron stated that he also supports this initiative.[79]Activities in Russian-occupied areas (Russian objective: Consolidate administrative control of annexed areas; forcibly integrate Ukrainian citizens into Russian sociocultural, economic, military, and governance systems)Russian authorities are reportedly systematizing the adoption of deported Ukrainian children in Russia. Russian opposition outlet Verstka reported on February 27 that Russian authorities in Moscow Oblast created “training programs” for people potentially considering adopting illegally deported Ukrainian children in Russia.[80] The program reportedly falsely conflates Ukrainian and Russian culture. The program reportedly tells participants that their main objective is to create a “second homeland” for Ukrainian children in Russia and that they will need to overcome “difficulties in international differences.” Participants of the training program must undergo interviews in which Russian authorities ask if they have Ukrainian friends and relatives. ISW continues to assess that the forced deportation and adoption of Ukrainian children likely amounts to a violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.The Russian Red Cross (RRC) is reportedly functioning as a Kremlin propaganda tool in occupied Ukraine and does not have the proper mandate to operate in war zones like the International Committee of the Red Cross.[81] A group of Russian and European media outlets published an investigation into the RRC based on leaked Russian Presidential Administration documents. The RRC has reportedly worked with and awarded organizations under sanctions for raising funds for or providing weapons to the Russian military. RRC employees have also reportedly issued pro-Russian statements publicly. The investigation stated that the RRC set up organizations under its name, including the “Donetsk Red Cross” and “Luhansk Red Cross,” in order to portray Russia’s occupation of Ukraine in a more positive light. The RRC also reportedly had access to Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) and refugees, whom RCC workers insulted and abused.Ukrainian sources stated that Ukrainian partisans reportedly detonated explosive devices at the office of the United Russia party in occupied Nova Kakhovka, Kherson Oblast that will also operate as polling stations in the upcoming Russian presidential election.[82]Russian Information Operations and NarrativesRussian officials accused Ukrainian special forces of using a “chemical warfare agent” in occupied Zaporizhia Oblast on February 27, likely to deflect from Ukrainian reports about widespread Russian use of chemical weapons along the frontline.[83] Russian officials did not identify the specific “chemical warfare agent “that they accused Ukrainian forces of using. Ukrainian officials have repeatedly reported that Russian forces are increasing their use of illegal chemical weapons in Ukraine in an apparent violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), to which Russia is a signatory.[84] The Russian 810th Naval Infantry Brigade recently acknowledged in a now-deleted post that elements of the brigade deliberately used K-51 grenades with riot control agents (RCAs) prohibited by the CWC on Ukrainian positions in east (left) bank Kherson Oblast.[85]Significant activity in Belarus (Russian efforts to increase its military presence in Belarus and further integrate Belarus into Russian-favorable frameworks and Wagner Group activity in Belarus)Nothing significant to report.Note: ISW does not receive any classified material from any source, uses only publicly available information, and draws extensively on Russian, Ukrainian, and Western reporting and social media as well as commercially available satellite imagery and other geospatial data as the basis for these reports. References to all sources used are provided in the endnotes of each update. [1] https://isw.pub/UkrWar021924 ; https://isw.pub/UkrWar021724[2] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/02/27/rosiyany-zbilshyly-rozmiry-svoyih-shturmovyh-pidrozdiliv-na-tavrijskomu-napryamku/[3] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0PPAcjisjZEP2iWPPTv5JD5wtB61gqgZ4yUbhTBktn2vRnPYWyA61bn4MqakNwfsbl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid029rVRpLCsnuAdUkdmTpmJg6p4vTmF6eDxyUpqMuPGYTXWtjF2rEBhR1PhXaRQWKM9l; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0M1zswAvoXZ54Ht7sTntDbPC2BvuLv9VWHivnKGdmeFp5DkEvpRgi3PmtboySJhHyl ; https://t.me/otarnavskiy/540 ; https://suspilne dot media/693300-paket-dopomogi-vid-nimeccini-vihid-sil-oboroni-z-sela-lastockine-734-den-vijni-onlajn/?anchor=live_1709042686&utm_source=copylink&utm_medium=ps ; https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/02/27/syly-oborony-ukrayiny-vidijshly-z-dvoh-sil-na-avdiyivskomu-napryamku/ ; https://t.me/z_arhiv/26146 ; https://t.me/z_arhiv/26149 ; https://t.me/dva_majors/35305 ; https://t.me/dva_majors/35309 ; https://t.me/dva_majors/35310 ; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62829 ; https://t.me/multi_XAM/1385 ; https://t.me/multi_XAM/1378 ; https://t.me/wargonzo/18442 ; https://t.me/zvizdecmanhustu/1661[4] https://t.me/otarnavskiy/540 ; https://suspilne dot media/693300-paket-dopomogi-vid-nimeccini-vihid-sil-oboroni-z-sela-lastockine-734-den-vijni-onlajn/?anchor=live_1709042686&utm_source=copylink&utm_medium=ps ; https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/02/27/syly-oborony-ukrayiny-vidijshly-z-dvoh-sil-na-avdiyivskomu-napryamku/[5] https://t.me/zvizdecmanhustu/1661 ; https://twitter.com/Tatarigami_UA/status/1762421448985997744[6] https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62847 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/114585 ; https://t.me/wargonzo/18442 ; https://t.me/basurin_e/9313 ; https://t.me/multi_XAM/1385[7] https://isw.pub/UkrWar021824[8] https://t.me/zvizdecmanhustu/1660[9] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-winter-spring-2024-offensive-operation-kharkiv-luhansk-axis[10] https://isw.pub/UkrWar022424 ; https://isw.pub/UkrWar021724 ; https://t.me/mod_russia/36093; https://t.me/mod_russia/36089;[11] https://isw.pub/UkrWar021524[12] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-winter-spring-2024-offensive-operation-kharkiv-luhansk-axis[13] https://t.me/zvizdecmanhustu/1660[14] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-september-8-2023[15] https://t.me/SJTF_Odes/6587 ; https://suspilne dot media/693300-paket-dopomogi-vid-nimeccini-vihid-sil-oboroni-z-sela-lastockine-734-den-vijni-onlajn/?anchor=live_1709022800&utm_source=copylink&utm_medium=ps[16] https://t.me/MDNationalArmy/824[17] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/warning-transnistria-may-organize-referendum-annexation-russia-support-russian-hybrid[18] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-26-2024 ; https://www.ng dot ru/cis/2024-02-21/1_8954_transnistria.html ; https://eadaily dot com/ru/news/2024/02/22/pridnestrove-otkroet-kievu-transportnyy-koridor-za-pomoshch-v-dialoge-s-kishinevom ; https://tass dot ru/mezhdunarodnaya-panorama/2007122 [19] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/ukraine-conflict-updates[20] https://neweasterneurope dot eu/2013/10/30/the-new-old-moldovan-transnistrian-border-conflict/ ; https://novostipmr dot com/ru/news/24-02-26/sezdy-narodnyh-deputatov-vseh-urovney-v-istorii-pridnestrovya [21] https://neweasterneurope dot eu/2013/10/30/the-new-old-moldovan-transnistrian-border-conflict/ ; https://novostipmr dot com/ru/news/24-02-26/sezdy-narodnyh-deputatov-vseh-urovney-v-istorii-pridnestrovya[22] https://moldova1 dot md/p/22391/moldova-streamlines-customs-with-eu-aligned-code#:~:text=Marking%20a%20significant%20step%20towards,today%2C%20Monday%2C%20January%201st.&text=The%20code%20promises%20a%20modernised,those%20of%20the%20European%20Union. ; https://neighbourhood-enlargement.ec.europa.eu/document/download/d8ef3ca9-2191-46e7-b9b8-946363f6db91_en?filename=SWD_2023_698%20Moldova%20report.pdf ; https://www.eesc dot lt/en/publication/tensions-around-the-transnistrian-conflict-in-moldova-early-signs-of-an-escalation-scenario-and-future-prospects/[23] https://www.osw dot waw.pl/en/publikacje/analyses/2024-01-17/moldova-increasing-pressure-transnistria ; https://pism dot pl/publications/implementation-of-eu-trade-agreements-with-georgia-mol-dova-and-ukraine-results-and-challenges ; https://trade.ec.europa.eu/access-to-markets/en/content/eu-moldova-deep-and-comprehensive-free-trade-area ; https://carnegieendowment.org/politika/91460 ; https://bani dot md/furie-in-transnistria-dupa-ce-firmele-au-fost-obligate-sa-plateasca-taxe-vamale-in-republica-moldova/ ; https://newsmaker dot md/ro/tiraspolul-comenteaza-noile-reguli-pentru-companiile-din-stanga-nistrului-obligate-sa-achite-taxele-pentru-import-cum-explica-chisinaul-masura/[24] https://carnegieendowment.org/politika/91460 ; https://ria dot ru/20240224/krasnoselskiy-1928959453.html[25] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/what-russias-failed-coercion-of-transnistria-means-for-the-annexation-of-occupied-territory-in-ukraine[26] https://www.eeas.europa.eu/eeas/european-political-community-press-remarks-high-representativevice-president-josep-borrell-upon_en[27] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/what-russias-failed-coercion-of-transnistria-means-for-the-annexation-of-occupied-territory-in-ukraine[28] https://t.me/disputPmrRu/13853 ; https://newsmaker dot md/ro/gagauzia-este-puternica-vs-traiasca-moldova-si-tara-romaneasca-protest-si-contra-protest-la-curtea-constitutionala/[29] https://telegra dot ph/Vstupitelnoe-slovo-Ministra-oborony-RF-generala-armii-Sergeya-SHojgu-na-zasedanii-Kollegii-Minoborony-Rossii-02-27[30] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-20-2024[31] https://telegra dot ph/Vstupitelnoe-slovo-Ministra-oborony-RF-generala-armii-Sergeya-SHojgu-na-zasedanii-Kollegii-Minoborony-Rossii-02-27[32] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid08YosZsS82KWyNiXw4L2QcfRM4TgNZH1ZH4XPZq1SJMuQNh5eY9bZB8uxhyC7T4e5l; https://t.me/MykolaOleshchuk/210;[33] https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/21/yurij-ignat-vidreaguvav-na-znyshhennya-7-rosijskyh-litakiv-za-5-dniv-zhartom-pro-putina/[34] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/02/27/vorog-pidnyav-v-povitrya-rekordnu-kilkist-rozviduvalnyh-bpla/; https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/02/27/vzhe-try-doby-rosiyany-ne-pidnimayut-v-povitrya-litak-a-50/[35] https://ssu.gov dot ua/novyny/zaiava-komitetu-z-pytan-rozvidky-pry-prezydentovi-ukrainy[36] https://www.pravda.com dot ua/eng/news/2024/02/27/7443998/[37] https://t.me/bbcrussian/61310; https://t.me/bbcrussian/61284; https://twitter.com/bbcrussian/status/1762532069966565460; https://t.me/tass_agency/233647; https://t.me/tass_agency/233652; https://t.me/tass_agency/233656; https://t.me/tass_agency/233660 ; https://t.me/bazabazon/25470 ; https://t.me/istories_media/5237 ; https://t.me/sotaproject/75433; https://meduza dot io/news/2024/02/27/v-rossii-proizoshel-masshtabnyy-sboy-v-rabote-messendzherov-i-drugih-servisov; https://t.me/tass_agency/233658; https://t.me/tass_agency/233662 ; https://t.me/tass_agency/233663; https://t.me/tass_agency/233664[38] https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-internet-outages-social-media/32837658.html; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/114589[39] https://t.me/bbcrussian/61310; https://t.me/bbcrussian/61284; https://twitter.com/bbcrussian/status/1762532069966565460[40] https://t.me/bbcrussian/61310; https://t.me/bbcrussian/61284; https://twitter.com/bbcrussian/status/1762532069966565460[41] https://t.me/bbcrussian/61310; https://t.me/bbcrussian/61284; https://twitter.com/bbcrussian/status/1762532069966565460[42] https://www.reuters.com/technology/meta-asks-russian-court-dismiss-proceedings-extremism-case-reports-2022-03-21/; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-december-5-2023; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-january-5-2024[43] https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7730 ; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7736[44] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0PPAcjisjZEP2iWPPTv5JD5wtB61gqgZ4yUbhTBktn2vRnPYWyA61bn4MqakNwfsbl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid029rVRpLCsnuAdUkdmTpmJg6p4vTmF6eDxyUpqMuPGYTXWtjF2rEBhR1PhXaRQWKM9l; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0M1zswAvoXZ54Ht7sTntDbPC2BvuLv9VWHivnKGdmeFp5DkEvpRgi3PmtboySJhHyl ; https://t.me/mod_russia/36091; https://t.me/mod_russia/36089 ; https://t.me/wargonzo/18442 ; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7730 ; https://t.me/wargonzo/18442[45] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/02/27/na-lymanskomu-napryamku-vorog-namagayetsya-vluchyty-aviabombamy-u-tanky/[46] https://suspilne dot media/693300-paket-dopomogi-vid-nimeccini-vihid-sil-oboroni-z-sela-lastockine-734-den-vijni-onlajn/?anchor=live_1709030873&utm_source=copylink&utm_medium=ps[47] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-winter-spring-2024-offensive-operation-kharkiv-luhansk-axis[48] https://t.me/zvizdecmanhustu/1660 (Yampolivka and Terny)[49] https://t.me/rybar/57610; https://t.me/rybar/57616; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7716; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7719; https://t.me/multi_XAM/1378; https://t.me/wargonzo/18442; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/114585; https://t.me/multi_XAM/1387[50] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/02/27/na-bahmutskomu-napryamku-vorog-kynuv-v-bij-kadyrivcziv/[51] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0PPAcjisjZEP2iWPPTv5JD5wtB61gqgZ4yUbhTBktn2vRnPYWyA61bn4MqakNwfsbl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid029rVRpLCsnuAdUkdmTpmJg6p4vTmF6eDxyUpqMuPGYTXWtjF2rEBhR1PhXaRQWKM9l; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0M1zswAvoXZ54Ht7sTntDbPC2BvuLv9VWHivnKGdmeFp5DkEvpRgi3PmtboySJhHyl; https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/02/27/na-bahmutskomu-napryamku-vorog-kynuv-v-bij-kadyrivcziv/; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7725; https://t.me/wargonzo/18442[52] https://t.me/rybar/57610; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7716[53] https://t.me/zvizdecmanhustu/1661[54] . https://suspilne dot media/693300-paket-dopomogi-vid-nimeccini-vihid-sil-oboroni-z-sela-lastockine-734-den-vijni-onlajn/?anchor=live_1709042686&utm_source=copylink&utm_medium=ps ; https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/02/27/syly-oborony-ukrayiny-vidijshly-z-dvoh-sil-na-avdiyivskomu-napryamku/[55] https://t.me/mod_russia/36093; https://t.me/mod_russia/36089[56] https://suspilne dot media/693300-paket-dopomogi-vid-nimeccini-vihid-sil-oboroni-z-sela-lastockine-734-den-vijni-onlajn/?anchor=live_1709042686&utm_source=copylink&utm_medium=ps ; https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/02/27/syly-oborony-ukrayiny-vidijshly-z-dvoh-sil-na-avdiyivskomu-napryamku/; https://t.me/otarnavskiy/540[57] https://t.me/creamy_caprice/4566[58] https://twitter.com/EjShahid/status/1762498923846115533; https://twitter.com/EjShahid/status/1762499872736129327; https://t.me/shershen_ua/170; https://t.me/creamy_caprice/4568[59] https://t.me/rybar/57616; https://t.me/z_arhiv/26146; https://t.me/dva_majors/35305 ; https://t.me/dva_majors/35309; https://t.me/tass_agency/233639; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62829; https://t.me/multi_XAM/1378; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7732; https://t.me/wargonzo/18442[60] https://t.me/dva_majors/35310[61] https://t.me/creamy_caprice/4566; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62838; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7710; https://t.me/zvizdecmanhustu/1661; https://t.me/sashakots/45247[62] https://t.me/rybar/57613; https://t.me/rybar/57616[63] https://t.me/boris_rozhin/114585; https://t.me/multi_XAM/1378[64] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0PPAcjisjZEP2iWPPTv5JD5wtB61gqgZ4yUbhTBktn2vRnPYWyA61bn4MqakNwfsbl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0M1zswAvoXZ54Ht7sTntDbPC2BvuLv9VWHivnKGdmeFp5DkEvpRgi3PmtboySJhHyl; https://t.me/mod_russia/36092; https://t.me/mod_russia/36089; https://t.me/mod_russia/36075; https://t.me/rybar/57616; https://t.me/multi_XAM/1378; https://t.me/wargonzo/18442[65] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0PPAcjisjZEP2iWPPTv5JD5wtB61gqgZ4yUbhTBktn2vRnPYWyA61bn4MqakNwfsbl ; https://t.me/mod_russia/36094; https://t.me/mod_russia/36089  [66] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0PPAcjisjZEP2iWPPTv5JD5wtB61gqgZ4yUbhTBktn2vRnPYWyA61bn4MqakNwfsbl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid029rVRpLCsnuAdUkdmTpmJg6p4vTmF6eDxyUpqMuPGYTXWtjF2rEBhR1PhXaRQWKM9l; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0M1zswAvoXZ54Ht7sTntDbPC2BvuLv9VWHivnKGdmeFp5DkEvpRgi3PmtboySJhHyl ; https://t.me/mod_russia/36095; https://t.me/mod_russia/36090 ; https://t.me/rybar/57630 ; https://t.me/wargonzo/18442[67] https://t.me/rybar/57630[68] https://t.me/boris_rozhin/114585 ; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7734[69] https://t.me/RKadyrov_95/4534[70] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0PPAcjisjZEP2iWPPTv5JD5wtB61gqgZ4yUbhTBktn2vRnPYWyA61bn4MqakNwfsbl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid029rVRpLCsnuAdUkdmTpmJg6p4vTmF6eDxyUpqMuPGYTXWtjF2rEBhR1PhXaRQWKM9l; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0M1zswAvoXZ54Ht7sTntDbPC2BvuLv9VWHivnKGdmeFp5DkEvpRgi3PmtboySJhHyl[71] https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/27/u-vms-zsu-vkazaly-na-dyvnyj-fakt-iz-systemoyu-zavantazhennya-raket-kalibr-u-protyvnyka/[72] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid026ggzZEzBLrQZPPrnUinj4tDDMtgaeDGi8BSGzCUMavdSFxdZqKy8REKgmJWRVE2Ml; https://t.me/kpszsu/11180[73] https://t.me/rybar/57627[74] https://t.me/berdmisk/6817[75] https://guide-humanitarian-law.org/content/article/3/occupied-territory/[76] https://en.yna dot co.kr/view/AEN20240227002800315[77] https://www.ukrinform dot ua/rubric-ato/3832934-iniciativu-pro-zakupivlu-boepripasiv-dla-ukraini-za-mezami-evropi-pidtrimuut-15-krain-premer-cehii.html[78] https://www.ukrinform dot ua/rubric-ato/3832857-niderlandi-vidilaut-ponad-100-miljoniv-na-cesku-iniciativu-sodo-boepripasiv-dla-ukraini.html[79] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2024-02-26/france-and-netherlands-back-plan-to-buy-non-eu-ammo-for-ukraine?srnd=politics-vp[80] https://storage.googleapis.com/istories/stories/2024/02/27/trudnosti-v-mezhnatsionalnikh-razlichiyakh/index.html[81] https://meduza dot io/news/2024/02/27/ih-zadacha-opravdyvat-bezuslovnoe-nasilie-podolyak-o-rabote-rossiyskogo-krasnogo-kresta-na-okkupirovannyh-territoriyah-meduza-vypustila-ob-etom-rassledovanie ; https://meduza dot io/feature/2024/02/27/nas-nazyvali-ukrainskimi-svinyami ; https://news.yahoo.com/media-investigation-kremlin-uses-russian-085343452.html[82] https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=7312264238894921&set=a.468508653270548 ; https://sprotyv dot mod.gov.ua/u-novij-kahovtsi-ruh-oporu-pidirvav-shtab-partiyi-putina/ ; https://suspilne dot media/693412-na-tot-hersonsini-u-novij-kahovci-predstavniki-ruhu-oporu-pidirvali-ofis-partii-edina-rosia/ [83] https://t.me/tass_agency/233617; https://t.me/tass_agency/233618 ; https://t.me/vrogov/14502 ; https://t.me/miroshnik_r/14480; https://t.me/astrapress/49404 ; https://t.me/tass_agency/233688 ; https://t.me/vrogov/14502[84] https://isw.pub/UkrWar020924[85] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-december-24-2023  

[Author: Institute for the Study of War]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 2/27/24 8:42pm
  Iran Update, February 24, 2024Ashka Jhaveri, Kathryn Tyson, Johanna Moore, Peter Mills, Annika Ganzeveld, Alexandra Braverman, Nicholas CarlInformation Cutoff: 2:00 pm ET The Iran Update provides insights into Iranian and Iranian-sponsored activities abroad that undermine regional stability and threaten US forces and interests. It also covers events and trends that affect the stability and decision-making of the Iranian regime. The Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) provides these updates regularly based on regional events. For more on developments in Iran and the region, see our interactive map of Iran and the Middle East.Note: CTP and ISW have refocused the update to cover the Israel-Hamas war. The new sections address developments in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Lebanon, and Syria, as well as noteworthy activity from Iran’s Axis of Resistance. We do not report in detail on war crimes because these activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We utterly condemn violations of the laws of armed conflict and the Geneva Conventions and crimes against humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.Click here to see CTP and ISW’s interactive map of Israeli ground operations. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.Key Takeaways:Northern Gaza Strip: The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) continued clearing operations in Zaytoun neighborhood, southeastern Gaza City.Southern Gaza Strip: The IDF continued to conduct clearing operations in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.Political Negotiations: US, Qatari, and Egyptian officials proposed a new hostage deal to Israeli negotiators during discussions in Paris.Yemen: US CENTCOM reported that it destroyed seven Houthi anti-ship cruise missiles in Houthi-controlled Yemen that were ready to fire.Gaza StripAxis of Resistance campaign objectives:Erode the will of the Israeli political establishment and public to launch and sustain a major ground operation into the Gaza StripDegrade IDF material and morale around the Gaza Strip.The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) continued clearing operations in Zaytoun neighborhood, southeastern Gaza City, on February 24. The IDF 401st Brigade (assigned to the 162nd Division) directed an airstrike on Palestinian fighters preparing to launch anti-tank munitions at Israeli forces in Zaytoun.[1]Palestinian militias continued trying to disrupt Israeli operations in Zaytoun on February 24. The militant wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired mortars and rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) targeting Israeli forces in Zaytoun.[2] The al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, which is the self-proclaimed military wing of Fatah and aligned with Hamas in the war, fired RPGs, mortars, and rockets and clashed with Israeli forces in Zaytoun and south of Zaytoun.[3] The Mujahideen Brigades fired rockets targeting Israeli forces in Zaytoun.[4] The Palestinian Mujahideen Movement is a Palestinian faction aligned with Hamas and has expressed close ties with Iran.[5] The military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine clashed with Israeli forces in Zaytoun.[6] The PFLP is a secular leftist Palestinian faction fighting with Hamas.The IDF Nahal Brigade (assigned to the 162nd Division) killed several Palestinian fighters in the central Gaza Strip between February 23 and 24.[7]The IDF continued to conduct clearing operations in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on February 24. The IDF 7th Armored Brigade (assigned to the 36th Division) “deepened” its operations in western Khan Younis.[8] The brigade located weapons in a re-purposed UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) bag in western Khan Younis.[9] The same brigade raided the house of a senior military intelligence officer in Khan Younis and destroyed a tunnel shaft near the house.[10] The brigade also identified seven Palestinian fighters in Khan Younis and directed an airstrike that killed the fighters.[11] The 35th Paratrooper Brigade (assigned to the 98th Division) located weapons and clashed with Palestinian fighters in western Khan Younis.[12] The Givati Brigade (assigned to the 162nd Division) directed sniper fire targeting several Palestinian fighters in Khan Younis.[13]Palestinian militias continued to defend against Israeli clearing operations in Khan Younis on February 24. The al Quds Brigades mortared Israeli forces in Khan Younis.[14] The al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades conducted mortar and improvised explosive device attacks and clashed with Israeli forces in Khan Younis City and western Khan Younis.[15] The Palestinian Mujahideen Movement said that its fighters sniped Israeli soldiers in western Khan Younis.[16]US, Qatari, and Egyptian officials proposed a new hostage deal to Israeli negotiators during discussions in Paris.[17] An IDF-affiliated media outlet reported that the Israeli delegation returned from Paris and that an unspecified source said, “There is progress in almost all parameters.”[18] However, Israeli war cabinet members said, “Hamas is still far from what Israel is willing to accept."[19] An unnamed foreign diplomat told Israeli media that all sides showed flexibility and that “hopefully” a deal can be reached before Ramadan, which is expected to begin around March 10, 2024.[20] Israeli officials have stated that Israeli forces will enter Rafah at the start of Ramadan if Hamas does not release the remaining Israeli hostages the group holds.[21]An unspecified Hamas source told Saudi media that Hamas showed flexibility in the duration of the ceasefire, the number of prisoners Israel will release, and the “limits” of an Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.[22] The source stated that Hamas waived its previous requirement that Israel release 1,500 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the release of Hamas-held Israeli hostages. Israeli media reported that Israel would release 200-300 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for 24-50 Israeli hostages, according to the new deal.[23]Three US and Israeli officials told Axios that the Biden administration asked Israel to stop targeting members of the Hamas-run police force who escort aid trucks in the Gaza Strip.[24] The administration warned that a “total breakdown of law and order” is exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in the strip. The Guardian similarly reported on January 30 that there is a general breakdown in law and order in the Gaza Strip.[25] Aid officials reported several incidents of unspecified personnel looting aid trucks.[26] The IDF has targeted Hamas’ police and internal security apparatus to disrupt Hamas’ attempts to rebuild its governing authority.[27] The Civil Police and the Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry's Internal Security Forces in the Gaza Strip both employ fighters from the Hamas military wing.[28]Unspecified Palestinian fighters conducted one indirect fire attack from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel on February 24.[29]Recorded reports of attacks; CTP-ISW cannot independently verify impact.West BankAxis of Resistance campaign objectives:Draw IDF assets and resources toward the West Bank and fix them thereIsraeli forces have clashed with Palestinian fighters at least three times in the West Bank since CTP-ISW's last data cutoff on February 23.[30]This map is not an exhaustive depiction of clashes and demonstrations in the West Bank.Southern Lebanon and Golan HeightsAxis of Resistance campaign objectives:Draw IDF assets and resources toward northern Israel and fix them thereSet conditions for successive campaigns into northern IsraelIranian-backed militias, including Lebanese Hezbollah, conducted at least 10 attacks from southern Lebanon into northern Israel since CTP-ISW's last data cutoff on February 23.[31]Recorded reports of attacks; CTP-ISW cannot independently verify impact.Iran and Axis of ResistanceAxis of Resistance campaign objectives:Demonstrate the capability and willingness of Iran and the Axis of Resistance to escalate against the United States and Israel on multiple frontsSet conditions to fight a regional war on multiple frontsUS CENTCOM reported that it destroyed seven Houthi anti-ship cruise missiles in Houthi-controlled Yemen that were ready to fire on February 23.[32] [1] https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1761293701899280616[2] https://t.me/sarayaps/17475; https://t.me/sarayaps/17476[3] https://t.me/elaqsa_1965/5827; https://t.me/AymanGouda/6065; https://t.me/elaqsa_1965/5820; https://t.me/elaqsa_1965/5826[4] https://t.me/darebmojahden/4451[5] https://ecfr.eu/special/mapping_palestinian_politics/mujahideen-brigades/; https://www.newsweek.com/not-only-hamas-eight-factions-war-israel-gaza-184129[6] https://t.me/abualiajel/138; https://t.me/kataebabuali/10635[7] https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1761293708698300740[8] https://www.idf dot il/182266[9] https://www.idf dot il/182266; https://www.timesofisrael dot com/liveblog_entry/idf-says-troops-find-mortars-in-unrwa-bags-tunnel-shaft-near-top-hamas-officers-home/[10] https://www.idf dot il/182266; https://twitter.com/AvichayAdraee/status/1761409791979618699[11] https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1761293719787999597[12] https://twitter.com/AvichayAdraee/status/1761426674325823620; https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1761390526505288182[13] https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1761293716763935112[14] https://t.me/sarayaps/17472[15] https://t.me/elaqsa_1965/5821; https://t.me/elaqsa_1965/5822; https://t.me/elaqsa_1965/5825; https://t.me/nedalps/4001[16] https://t.me/darebmojahden/4449[17] https://www.axios.com/2024/02/24/israel-hamas-gaza-hostage-talks-progress-ceasefire[18] https://twitter.com/GLZRadio/status/1761358423138979841[19] https://twitter.com/GLZRadio/status/1761431704508461473[20] https://www.haaretz dot com/israel-news/2024-02-24/ty-article-live/blinken-says-u-s-disappointed-with-israeli-plans-to-build-3-000-homes-in-west-bank/0000018d-d911-df79-a5cd-f93ff2860000?liveBlogItemId=151387906#151387906[21] https://www.timesofisrael dot com/liveblog_entry/gantz-no-peace-via-one-sided-moves-rafah-invasion-by-ramadan-if-hostages-not-home/[22] https://asharq dot com/politics/81109/[23] https://www.ynet dot co.il/news/article/skteh00d2p#autoplay[24] https://www.axios.com/2024/02/24/gaza-humanitarian-aid-israel-hamas-police-biden[25] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2024/jan/30/hamas-returns-northern-gaza-new-offensive?CMP=share_btn_tw[26] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2024/jan/30/hamas-returns-northern-gaza-new-offensive?CMP=share_btn_tw[27] https://twitter.com/Doron_Kadosh/status/1754024593151434865; https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/israeli-forces-pound-gaza-hamas-studies-ceasefire-proposal-2024-01-31/[28] https://ecfr.eu/special/mapping_palestinian_politics/civil_police/; https://ecfr.eu/special/mapping_palestinian_politics/internal_security_force/[29] https://twitter.com/GLZRadio/status/1761389354390339927; https://t.me/hamza20300/217424[30] https://t.me/hamza20300/217444 ; https://t.me/hamza20300/217445 ; https://t.me/hamza20300/217447 ; https://t.me/QudsN/374858 ; https://t.me/QudsN/374860[31] https://t.me/mmirleb/2221 ; https://t.me/mmirleb/2226 ; https://twitter.com/GLZRadio/status/1761361290520383497 ; https://t.me/mmirleb/2228 ; https://t.me/mmirleb/2230 ; https://t.me/mmirleb/2232 ; https://t.me/mmirleb/2234 ; https://t.me/mmirleb/2236 ; https://t.me/mmirleb/2238[32] https://twitter.com/CENTCOM/status/1761226351032533223

[Author: Institute for the Study of War]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 2/27/24 8:05pm
 Riley Bailey, Nicole Wolkov, Christina Harward, Grace Mappes, and Frederick W. KaganFebruary 24, 2024, 7:00pm ET Click here to see ISW’s interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.Click here to see ISW’s 3D control of terrain topographic map of Ukraine. Use of a computer (not a mobile device) is strongly recommended for using this data-heavy tool.Click here to access ISW’s archive of interactive time-lapse maps of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These maps complement the static control-of-terrain map that ISW produces daily by showing a dynamic frontline. ISW will update this time-lapse map archive monthly.Note: The data cut-off for this product was 1:30pm ET on February 24. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the February 25 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.Click here to read ISW’s latest warning update on the possibility of Transnistria, a pro-Russian breakaway region of Moldova, calling for Russian annexation or taking other action to support Russian hybrid operations against Moldova.Ukraine continues to defend against Russian aggression and the Kremlin’s attempt to destroy Ukrainian statehood and identity despite growing difficulties two years after the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion. Two years ago Russia launched a full-scale war of conquest to overthrow the Ukrainian government and forcibly install a pro-Russian regime firmly under Moscow’s control. Russian forces drove on Kyiv from several directions and struck at Kharkiv, Kherson, Mariupol, and other Ukrainian cities. Russian President Vladimir Putin expected Ukrainians to welcome his forces or flee. Instead, Ukrainians fought for their freedom. They stopped the Russian drives on Kyiv and Kharkiv cities, stopped the Russian advance on Mykolayiv and Odesa cities, and fought Putin’s troops to a standstill along the rest of the line. Then, armed with experience, courage, determination, and growing Western aid, Ukraine struck back. Ukrainian forces drove the Russians from Kyiv and away from Kharkiv and liberated large swathes of territory in northeastern Ukraine. They liberated Kherson City and forced Russian forces off the west (right) bank of the Dnipro River. They ended the threat to Ukraine’s existence for the time. But the Russians did not abandon their war aims or slacken their military operations. They remained in control of areas strategically and economically vital to Ukraine’s survival and of millions of Ukrainians whom they are subjecting to brutal Russification campaigns and deportation schemes.[1] The Russians launched a missile and drone campaign against Ukraine’s energy infrastructure and cities that continues to this day.[2] The Russians then ground through the eastern city of Bakhmut, taking losses so devastating that they prompted an armed rebellion against Moscow.[3] The Russians also prepared themselves for the expected Ukrainian 2023 counteroffensive. The excessive hopes for that counteroffensive were not met. The war assumed a positional character, and the expected US assistance has been held up.The situation today is grave, but it is far from hopeless. Russian forces have regained the initiative across the theater and are attacking and making gains. Those gains thus far are very limited and extremely costly. More Russian soldiers have likely died to seize Avdiivka than died in the entire Soviet-Afghan war.[4] Ukrainians are weary and worried that American military assistance will cease, but they continue to fight with determination, ingenuity, and skill. Ukraine’s air defenders are dropping Russian planes from the sky while Ukrainian drone- and missile operators sink Russian ships.[5] And Ukrainian soldiers are fighting for their positions against Russian “meat assaults” using drones in novel ways as well as the artillery, tanks, and traditional weapons of war available to them. The Ukrainian Air Force will receive its first F-16s in the coming months, and Ukraine’s European allies are racing to make good deficiencies in other war materiel.[6] American military assistance remains essential—only the United States has the resources to give Ukraine right now what Ukraine most needs.[7] If the United States, in the end, withholds that aid, then the situation can become very grave indeed.But the war is far from over. Ukraine has not lost and there is no reason for Ukraine to lose. Russians are adapting for a long war effort in Ukraine, but they are not the Red Army hordes wrapped in the triumphant banners of World War II victories that Putin and his propagandists pretend them to be.[8] The Russian military suffers from many flaws that Ukraine has learned to exploit.[9] And the combined economic power of Ukraine’s allies is many times that of Russia.  Putin remains a deadly threat to NATO as well as to Ukraine, however. The Kremlin has been setting conditions to conduct hybrid warfare operations in the Baltic States and Finland for months and is currently engaged in such operations against Moldova.[10] Putin’s aims remain the destruction of NATO as an effective alliance, the breaking of the tie between the United States and Europe, and the construction of a new global order in which Russia’s voice and power are dominant.[11] The interests of America, Europe, and America’s allies in Asia and around the world are inextricably tied with helping Ukraine defeat Russia.[12]Ukraine’s European and Canadian partners commemorated the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion by committing additional aid to Ukraine and discussing Ukraine’s integration into the European Union (EU). European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stated that the European Commission will provide the framework for negotiations of Ukraine's EU accession in mid-March 2024.[13] Von der Leyen also stated that the EU will provide the first tranche of 4.5 billion euros (about $4.8 billion) of unspecified aid to Ukraine in March as part of the EU’s recently announced support package of 50 billion euros (about $54 billion) for 2024-2027. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba stated that the EU plans to deliver almost 170,000 rounds of artillery ammunition to Ukraine by the end of March.[14] Kuleba stated that Spain is preparing a new military aid package for Ukraine that will include ammunition.[15] The United Kingdom (UK) announced that it will spend £245 million (about $310 million) throughout 2024 to procure and invigorate supply chains to produce ammunition for Ukraine.[16] The UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) and UK-based Cook Defense Systems signed contracts to provide tracks for tanks and armored vehicles to aid Ukraine in restoring damaged vehicles. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Miloni signed a security cooperation agreement in which Italy stated that it will continue to provide assistance to Ukraine over 10 years.[17] Zelensky and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also signed a 10-year security cooperation agreement in which Canada allocated three billion Canadian dollars (about $2.2 billion) in financial and defense aid to Ukraine in 2024.[18]Russian opposition media estimated that upwards of 75,000 Russian personnel have died in Ukraine since the start of the full-scale invasion in February 2022.[19] Russian opposition outlets Meduza and Mediazona published a joint report on February 24 wherein they compared Mediazona’s ongoing count of confirmed Russian deaths with the Russian Register of Inheritance Cases (RND) and mortality data from the Russian Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat) to estimate the number of Russian military deaths in Ukraine.[20] Meduza and Mediazona estimated that 66,000 to 88,000 Russian personnel have died in the war between February 2022 and December 2023.[21] Meduza and Mediazona extrapolated the current monthly rate of Russian military deaths in Ukraine to January and February 2024 and estimated that roughly 83,000 Russian personnel may have died since the start of the full-scale invasion.[22] Meduza and Mediazona noted that Russian military deaths in Ukraine began to steadily increase following the start of localized Russian offensive operations in eastern Ukraine in October 2023 and added that Russian volunteers have made up the majority of the deaths since mid-2023.[23] US intelligence assessed in December 2023 that Russian forces had suffered 315,000 casualties in Ukraine since February 2022.[24] Meduza’s and Mediazona’s estimate is consistent with this US assessment, assuming a standard three to one wounded-to-killed casualty rate for Russian forces in Ukraine.Russian forces are currently sustaining offensive operations in Ukraine despite these heavy losses by relying on crypto-mobilization efforts.[25] Russia is generating new forces roughly at a rate equivalent to current Russian losses, which allows Russian forces to consistently reinforce attacking units and regularly conduct operational-level rotations.[26] It is unclear if Russia would be able to sustain offensive operations in the same way at a higher operational tempo that would generate even greater losses, however.The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) continues to highlight Russian Central Grouping of Forces Commander Colonel General Andrei Mordvichev and Russia’s seizure of Avdiivka. The Russian MoD published footage on February 24 of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu meeting with Mordvichev to discuss the Russian capture of Avdiivka at a Russian Central Grouping of Forces command post in occupied Ukraine.[27] Mordvichev claimed that Russian forces pushed Ukrainian forces back by over 10 kilometers during the Russian operation to seize Avdiivka.[28] Russian President Vladimir Putin noted on the evening of February 17 that Russian forces captured Avdiivka under Mordvichev’s leadership, and the Russian MoD published footage on February 21 of Russian Chief of the General Staff Army General Valery Gerasimov meeting with Mordvichev to discuss plans for future Russian operations in the Avdiivka direction.[29]Mordvichev highlighted Russian technological and tactical adaptations in the Russian seizure of Avdiivka in a likely effort to address persistent criticisms of Russian forces in Ukraine. Mordvichev told Shoigu that the effectiveness of Russian forces’ reconnaissance-strike complex (RSC) and reconnaissance-fire complex (RFC) has “increased significantly.”[30] A Russian RSC system is “designed for the coordinated employment of high-precision, long-range weapons linked to real-time intelligence data and precise targeting provided to a fused intelligence and fire-direction center,“ and the Russian RFC is the RSC’s tactical equivalent using tactical fire systems such as tube artillery, tactical drones, and short-range rockets.[31] Russian forces have yet to employ an operational-level RSC system at scale in Ukraine, however, and Mordvichev is likely applying the operational concept of the RSC alongside the RFC to Russian tactical operations in Avdiivka. ISW has consistently observed reports that Russian forces combine widespread drone reconnaissance data in order to conduct artillery, aviation, and loitering munition strikes. ISW assessed that Russian forces temporarily established limited and localized air superiority during the final days of the Russian seizure of Avdiivka.[32] Mordvichev notably did not highlight Russian glide bomb strikes, although Mordvichev may consider glide bomb strikes as part of the “RSC and RFC.” Shoigu emphasized the importance of drones and stated that the Russian MoD plans to equip Russian forces with drones “controlled using artificial intelligence,” likely referring to lethal autonomous systems. Mordvichev likely sought to manage expectations about future Russian offensive efforts while highlighting these alleged Russian adaptations and claimed that Ukrainian forces near Avdiivka have not decreased their intensity of indirect fire.[33] Mordvichev’s comment diverges from the triumphalist commentary of other Russian officials, who have seized on Ukrainian ammunition shortages to highlight Russian success in Ukraine and attempt to weaken Ukrainian morale.[34]Senior Russian military officials likely are attempting to deflect responsibility for high-profile apparent Russian war crimes away from themselves and onto mid- and low-level Russian commanders. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) published footage of Russian Central Grouping of Forces Commander Colonel General Andrei Mordvichev reporting to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu that Russian forces captured about 200 Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) near Avdiivka.[35] Shoigu emphasized the need for Russian forces to treat POWs humanely “as [Russian forces] have always done” to Mordvichev and other Russian officers. Shoigu, like Russian President Vladimir Putin, is likely concerned about international repercussions for his subordinates’ actions regarding apparent Russian war crimes and may have explicitly addressed Ukrainian POWs given recent international attention on Russian atrocities in Ukraine.[36]A recent Russian opinion poll indicates that Russian sentiments about the war in Ukraine have largely remained unchanged in recent months, but notably suggests that another mobilization wave would be widely unpopular. Independent Russian opposition polling organization Chronicles stated on February 24 that data from a survey conducted between January 23 and 29 indicates that respondents who are “consistent” supporters of the war – Russians who expressed support for the war, do not support a withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine without Russia having achieved its war aims, and think that Russia should prioritize military spending – increased from 12 percent to 17 percent between October 2023 and January 2024.[37] Chronicles previously observed a significant decrease in staunch war support between its October 2023 survey and an earlier poll in February 2023 that found that 22 percent of Russians were “consistent“ war supporters.[38] Chronicles added that the proportion of ”consistent” peace supporters – Russians who expressed opposite positions on the three survey questions –  has largely remained the same at 19 percent of respondents in January 2024 compared to 20 percent in February 2023.[39] Chronicles’ observations that staunch pro-war and anti-war sentiments comprise a minority of Russian opinion are consistent with other recent independent Russian survey data that suggest that most Russians are largely apathetic to Russia’s war in Ukraine.[40]Chronicles’ most recent poll also shows that 29 percent of respondents support demobilizing personnel mobilized through Russian President Vladimir Putin’s September 2022 partial mobilization decree, 26 percent favor the current state of Russian force generation efforts, and 17 percent support a new mobilization wave.[41] Chronicles added that even the majority of “consistent” war supporters support the status quo regarding mobilization at 34 percent and that only 22 percent of these respondents support another mobilization wave.[42] Putin attempted to address concerns about a new mobilization wave during his “Direct Line” event on December 14, 2023, stressing that there is no need for a subsequent mobilization wave due to the success of ongoing Russian crypto-mobilization efforts.[43] Putin is likely aware that a second mobilization wave would be widely unpopular and likely remains concerned that such a measure would generate widespread discontent. Putin may nevertheless determine in the future that force generation requirements in Ukraine outweigh the risks of domestic discontent, and he may become less concerned about public sentiment after his assured reelection in March 2024.Ukrainian special services conducted a drone strike on one of Russia’s largest metallurgical plants on the night of February 23-24. Ukrainian outlet Suspilne reported that sources stated that the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) and the Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) organized a drone strike on the Novolipetsk Metallurgical Plant (NLMK) in Lipetsk and that damage will stop production at the plant for a long time.[44] Lipetsk Oblast Governor Igor Artamonov claimed that Russian forces intercepted two drones in Lipetsk Oblast and that the plant’s operations were not significantly affected.[45] An NLMK representative claimed that the plant does not supply products to Russian defense industrial base (DIB) enterprises, likely in an attempt to downplay the extent of NLMK’s involvement in fulfilling contracts for the Russian government and defense industrial base (DIB).[46] Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported in July 2023 that NLMK won contracts to supply steel to the Izumrud plant in Vladivostok, which the Russian Federal Agency for State Property Management controls and which produces artillery control systems, drone engines, and systems for dropping explosives from drones.[47] RFE/RL also reported that NLMK supplied steel to state-owned enterprises involved in the production of nuclear weapons from 2014 to at least 2019.[48] Vladimir Lisin owns NLMK and is one of Russia’s top three richest oligarchs.[49]Ukrainian reporting indicated that the A-50 long-range radar detection aircraft shootdown on February 23 temporarily halted Russian aviation operations elsewhere in the theater. The Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported that Russian forces ordered five Su-35 fighter aircraft to terminate ongoing combat missions following the A-50's destruction and that some of these missions included conducting airstrikes near recently captured Avdiivka, Donetsk Oblast.[50] Ukrainian media reported that sources in Ukrainian security services also stated that Ukrainian forces shot down the aircraft with a modernized S-200 air defense system and that all 10 crewmembers of the Russian A-50 died in the crash.[51]Russian information space actors continued responding to the February 23 A-50 shootdown and largely denied that Ukraine is responsible for the downing of any recent Russian aircraft. Russian milbloggers continued to claim on February 23 and 24 that Russian forces were responsible for shooting down the A-50, but offered many different theories about the shootdown. One prominent milblogger claimed that Russian authorities are investigating a Russian S-400 crew for shooting down the A-50 while trying to intercept Ukrainian missiles targeting the A-50.[52] Another milblogger claimed that a Russian air defense crew purposefully targeted the A-50.[53] Other milbloggers continued to claim that Ukrainian forces could not have shot down the A-50 because the aircraft was out of range of Western-provided Patriot air defense systems and complained that Russian air defenders are so systemically incompetent that they shot down five of their aircraft in February 2024.[54] A prominent Wagner Group-affiliated milblogger dissented, however, expressing disbelief that Russian air defenses are so incompetent as to have shot down so many Russian aircraft in such a short period and attributed the shootdown to Ukrainian forces instead.[55]Key Takeaways:Ukraine continues to defend against Russian aggression and the Kremlin’s attempt to destroy Ukrainian statehood and identity despite growing difficulties two years after the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion.Ukraine’s European and Canadian partners commemorated the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion by committing additional aid to Ukraine and discussing Ukraine’s integration into the European Union (EU).Russian opposition media estimated that upwards of 75,000 Russian personnel have died in Ukraine since the start of the full-scale invasion in February 2022.The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) continues to highlight Russian Central Grouping of Forces Commander Colonel General Andrei Mordvichev and Russia’s seizure of Avdiivka.Mordvichev highlighted Russian technological and tactical adaptations in the Russian seizure of Avdiivka in a likely effort to address persistent criticisms of Russian forces in Ukraine.Senior Russian military officials likely are attempting to deflect responsibility for high-profile apparent Russian war crimes away from themselves and onto mid- and low-level Russian commanders.A recent Russian opinion poll indicates that Russian sentiments about the war in Ukraine have largely remained unchanged in recent months, but notably suggests that another mobilization wave would be widely unpopular.Ukrainian special services conducted a drone strike on one of Russia’s largest metallurgical plants on the night of February 23-24.Ukrainian reporting indicated that the A-50 long-range radar detection aircraft shot down on February 23 temporarily halted Russian aviation operations elsewhere in the theater.Russian information space actors continued responding to the February 23 A-50 shootdown and largely denied that Ukraine is responsible for the downing of any recent Russian aircraft.Russian forces recently made confirmed advances near Bakhmut and Avdiivka and in western Zaporizhia Oblast amid continued positional engagements along the entire line of contact on February 24.Indian authorities have asked Russian authorities for the “early discharge” of Indian citizens fighting for Russia in Ukraine.The Russian government continues efforts to support infrastructure and logistics development in occupied Ukraine likely to support the Russian defense industrial base (DIB) and solidify Russian control over occupied areas.We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because these activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We will continue to evaluate and report on the effects of these criminal activities on the Ukrainian military and the Ukrainian population and specifically on combat in Ukrainian urban areas. We utterly condemn Russian violations of the laws of armed conflict and the Geneva Conventions and crimes against humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.Russian Main Effort – Eastern Ukraine (comprised of two subordinate main efforts)Russian Subordinate Main Effort #1 – Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and encircle northern Donetsk OblastRussian Subordinate Main Effort #2 – Capture the entirety of Donetsk OblastRussian Supporting Effort – Southern AxisRussian Air, Missile, and Drone CampaignRussian Mobilization and Force Generation EffortsRussian Technological AdaptationsActivities in Russian-occupied areasUkrainian Defense Industrial Base EffortsRussian Information Operations and NarrativesSignificant Activity in BelarusRussian Main Effort – Eastern UkraineRussian Subordinate Main Effort #1 – Luhansk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and northern Donetsk Oblast)Positional engagements continued northeast of Kupyansk and near Kreminna on February 24, but there were no confirmed changes to the frontline. Positional engagements continued northeast of Kupyansk near Synkivka and Lake Lyman; northwest of Kreminna near Zhytlivka; and west of Kreminna near Terny.[56] Elements of the Russian 123rd Motorized Rifle Brigade (2nd Luhansk People‘s Republic [LNR] Army Corps [AC]) are reportedly operating south of Kreminna near Berestove.[57]Russian Subordinate Main Effort #2 – Donetsk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)Russian forces recently advanced near Bakhmut amid continued positional fighting in the area on February 24. Geolocated footage published on February 24 indicates that Russian forces recently advanced south and southeast of Bohdanivka (northwest of Bakhmut).[58] A Russian milblogger claimed that elements of the Russian 98th Airborne (VDV) Division, the 11th VDV Brigade, and the 150th Motorized Rifle Division (8th Combined Arms Army [CAA], Southern Military District [SMD]) are attacking Ukrainian positions near Ivanivske (west of Bakhmut) and made further gains in the settlement's eastern outskirts.[59] Positional fighting continued southwest of Bakhmut near Klishchiivka and Andriivka.[60]Russian forces recently advanced west of Avdiivka amid continued positional fighting in the area on February 24. Geolocated footage published on February 24 indicates that elements of the Russian 35th Motorized Rifle Brigade (41st CAA, Central Military District [CMD]) recently advanced within southeastern Lastochkyne (west of Avdiivka).[61] Russian sources widely reiterated existing Russian claims that Russian forces have captured all of Lastochkyne, Sieverne (west of Avdiivka), and Stepove (northwest of Avdiivka).[62] ISW has not observed visual confirmation of recent Russian gains in Stepove or Sieverne. A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces recently advanced up to 1.5 kilometers in the direction of Orlivka (west of Avdiivka) from the Avdiivka Coke Plant in northwestern Avdiivka.[63] Positional fighting continued west of Avdiivka near Orlivka, Lastochkyne, and Sieverne and southwest of Avdiivka near Pervomaiske and Nevelske.[64]Positional fighting continued west and southwest of Donetsk City on February 24. A Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted a partially successful counterattack near Pobieda and expressed concern about the stability of Russian positions near the settlement.[65] Positional fighting continued west of Donetsk City near Heorhiivka and southwest of Donetsk City near Pobieda and Novomykhailivka.[66] Elements of the 255th Motorized Rifle Regiment (20th Motorized Rifle Division, 8th CAA, SMD) are reportedly operating near Pobieda, and elements of the 155th Naval Infantry Brigade (Pacific Fleet) are reportedly operating near Novomykhailivka.[67]Russian Supporting Effort – Southern Axis (Russian objective: Maintain frontline positions and secure rear areas against Ukrainian strikes)Positional engagements continued in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area on February 24, but there were no confirmed changes to the frontline. Ukrainian and Russian sources stated that positional engagements continued southwest of Velyka Novosilka near Shevchenko and southeast of Velyka Novosilka near Zolota Nyva.[68] A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces advanced north of Pryyutne (southwest of Velyka Novosilka), but ISW has not observed visual confirmation of this claim.[69] Elements of the Russian 11th Air Force and Air Defense Army (Russian Aerospace Forces [VKS] and Eastern Military District [EMD]) are reportedly operating near Malynivka (southwest of Velyka Novosilka).[70]Russian forces recently made a confirmed advance in western Zaporizhia Oblast. Geolocated footage published on February 24 indicates that Russian forces recently advanced in central Robotyne.[71] A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces advanced further northward into central Robotyne, but ISW has not observed visual confirmation of this claim.[72] Russian sources stated that positional engagements occurred near Verbove (east of Robotyne) and Mala Tokmachka (northeast of Robotyne and southeast of Orikhiv).[73] Elements of the Russian 71st Motorized Rifle Regiment (42nd Motorized Rifle Division, 58th Combined Arms Army [CAA], Southern Military District [SMD]) are reportedly attacking near Robotyne and Verbove, and elements of the 70th Motorized Rifle Regiment (42nd Motorized Rifle Division, 58th CAA, SMD) are reportedly operating in central Robotyne.[74]Ukrainian and Russian sources stated that positional engagements continued in east (left) bank Kherson Oblast in Krynky on February 24.[75]Russian Air, Missile, and Drone Campaign (Russian Objective: Target Ukrainian military and civilian infrastructure in the rear and on the frontline)The Ukrainian Air Force reported that Russian forces launched two Iskander-M ballistic missiles from Rostov Oblast; three Kh-59 cruise missiles from occupied Kherson Oblast; and 12 Shahed-136/131 drones from Primorsko-Akhtarsk, Krasnodar Krai and occupied Cape Chauda, Crimea on the night of February 23 to 24.[76] The Ukrainian Air Force stated that Ukrainian forces downed all 12 Shahed drones and two Kh-59 missiles over Kirovohrad, Odesa, and Mykolaiv oblasts.Russian Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts (Russian objective: Expand combat power without conducting general mobilization)Indian authorities have asked Russian authorities for the “early discharge” of Indian citizens serving with the Russian military. Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal stated on February 23 that the Indian MFA is aware of some Indian citizens who signed contracts for “auxiliary” roles in the Russian military and is discussing their early discharge with Russian officials.[77] Jaiswal additionally urged Indian citizens to stay away from Russia’s war in Ukraine. Indian outlet The Hindu reported on February 20 that Russian authorities forced Indian citizens to sign contracts to fight under false pretenses and to fight in Ukraine with minimal training and that some of these Indian citizens are now stranded.[78] The Hindu estimated on February 23 that roughly 100 Indian citizens began fighting with the Russian military in Ukraine within the past year.[79]The US Department of State (DoS) reported on February 23 that North Korea has delivered more than 10,000 containers of munitions and related materials to Russia since September 2023.[80] The US DoS reported that North Korea has delivered over 7,400 containers through the Vostochnaya Stevedoring Company’s terminal at Vostochny Port in Primorsky Krai.Russian Technological Adaptations (Russian objective: Introduce technological innovations to optimize systems for use in Ukraine)  Russian news outlet MASH reported on February 23 that Russia has developed its first unmanned naval drones that utilize artificial intelligence (AI).[81] MASH reported that Russia has developed the “Alfina” surface naval one-way attack drone with a maximum speed of 60 kilometers per hour, a range of 500 kilometers, and a maximum payload of 200 kilograms. MASH reported that each drone will cost roughly one million rubles (about $10,700) and that serial production will begin in summer 2023.Ukrainian Defense Industrial Efforts (Ukrainian objective: Develop its defense industrial base to become more self-sufficient in cooperation with US, European, and international partners)Bloomberg reported that the US Department of Defense (DoD) Inspector General opened over 50 cases investigating issues related to US aid provisions to Ukraine but has yet to substantiate any allegations.[82] US DoD Inspector General Robert Storch reported that the US DoD Inspector General is investigating issues of “procurement fraud, product substitution, theft, fraud or corruption, and diversion.” Storch stated that the US DoD Inspector General will likely open more investigations due to the “quantity and speed” of materiel provisions to Ukraine.Activities in Russian-occupied areas (Russian objective: Consolidate administrative control of annexed areas; forcibly integrate Ukrainian citizens into Russian sociocultural, economic, military, and governance systems)The Russian government continues efforts to bolster infrastructure and logistics development in occupied Ukraine likely to support the Russian defense industrial base (DIB) and solidify Russian control over occupied areas. The Russian government introduced reduced rates for rail freight transport of coal, ferrous metals, ore, and other industrial raw materials in occupied Ukraine on February 24.[83] The new measure reduces freight rail transport rates by 48 percent for coal and 74 percent for other industrial materials.Russian Information Operations and NarrativesRussian officials, occupation authorities, and milbloggers used the anniversary of the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24 to promote long-standing anti-Western and anti-Ukrainian Kremlin narratives, including claims about the West’s and Ukraine’s alleged responsibility for the war.[84]A Kremlin-affiliated Russian milblogger attempted to downplay Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s statement on February 22 that Armenia “essentially” froze its participation in the Russia-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) as Russian-Armenian relations continue to deteriorate.[85]Significant activity in Belarus (Russian efforts to increase its military presence in Belarus and further integrate Belarus into Russian-favorable frameworks and Wagner Group activity in Belarus)Nothing significant to report.Note: ISW does not receive any classified material from any source, uses only publicly available information, and draws extensively on Russian, Ukrainian, and Western reporting and social media as well as commercially available satellite imagery and other geospatial data as the basis for these reports. References to all sources used are provided in the endnotes of each update.[1] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/kremlins-occupation-playbook-coerced-russification-and-ethnic-cleansing-occupied; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/lands-ukraine-must-liberate[2] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-december-29-2023; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-december-10-2023; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-december-16; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-december-3[3] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-june-23-2023[4] https://isw.pub/UkrWar021824; https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-army-casualty-rate-64th-brigade-bucha-deaths/31982194.html; https://www.rferl.org/a/years-later-russia-aims-to-rewrite-the-soviet-war-in-afghanistan/29772557.html[5] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/special-edition-campaign-assessment-ukraine%E2%80%99s-strike-campaign-against-crimea; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/ukrainian-strikes-have-changed-russian-naval-operations-black-sea; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-23-2024; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-10-2024; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-january-15-2024[6] https://www.flightglobal.com/defence/ukraine-set-to-receive-f-16-capability-by-this-summer/157099.article; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/fact-sheet-us-assistance-ukraine; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-18-2024[7] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-13-2024[8] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-january-28-2024; https://isw.pub/UkrWar010224; https://isw.pub/UkrWar020224; https://isw.pub/UkrWar011024; https://isw.pub/UkrWar011823; https://isw.pub/UkrWar012023[9] https://isw.pub/UkrWar020124; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-november-22-2023; https://isw.pub/UkrWar101223[10] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/warning-transnistria-may-organize-referendum-annexation-russia-support-russian-hybrid  ; https://isw.pub/UkrWar020624;  https://isw.pub/UkrWar011624;  https://isw.pub/UkrWar012724;  https://isw.pub/UkrWar012024; https://isw.pub/UkrWar011924[11] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/weakness-lethal-why-putin-invaded-ukraine-and-how-war-must-end; https://isw.pub/UkrWar112023; https://isw.pub/UkrWar100523; https://isw.pub/UkrWar121723; https://isw.pub/UkrWar033023[12] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/high-price-losing-ukraine[13] https://suspilne dot media/691948-u-seredini-berezna-evrokomisia-nadast-ramkovi-umovi-dla-peregovoriv-sodo-vstupu-ukraini-prezidentka-ek/; https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1461839378062214[14] https://twitter.com/DmytroKuleba/status/1761386826088996877[15] https://twitter.com/dmytrokuleba/status/1761116581810036757?s=48&t=JHHzChDbvSf3JHpnTV6Hcg[16] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-to-boost-ukraines-artillery-reserves-with-245-million-munitions-package[17] https://t.me/V_Zelenskiy_official/9574 ; https://www.president.gov dot ua/news/volodimir-zelenskij-i-dzhordzha-meloni-u-kiyevi-pidpisali-ug-89241[18] https://t.me/V_Zelenskiy_official/9575; https://president.gov dot ua/news/volodimir-zelenskij-i-dzhastin-tryudo-u-kiyevi-pidpisali-ugo-89237; https://www.president dot gov.ua/news/ugoda-pro-spivrobitnictvo-u-sferi-bezpeki-mizh-ukrayinoyu-ta-89233[19] https://meduza dot io/feature/2024/02/24/75-tysyach-pogibshih-rossiyskih-soldat[20] https://meduza dot io/feature/2024/02/24/75-tysyach-pogibshih-rossiyskih-soldat[21] https://meduza dot io/feature/2024/02/24/75-tysyach-pogibshih-rossiyskih-soldat[22] https://meduza dot io/feature/2024/02/24/75-tysyach-pogibshih-rossiyskih-soldat[23] https://meduza dot io/feature/2024/02/24/75-tysyach-pogibshih-rossiyskih-soldat[24] https://www.reuters.com/world/us-intelligence-assesses-ukraine-war-has-cost-russia-315000-casualties-source-2023-12-12/[25] https://isw.pub/UkrWar011124[26] https://isw.pub/UkrWar011124[27] https://t.me/mod_russia/35991[28] https://t.me/mod_russia/35992[29] https://isw.pub/UkrWarO22124; https://isw.pub/UkrWar021724[30] https://t.me/mod_russia/35992[31] https://static1.squarespace.com/static/55faab67e4b0914105347194/t/5b17fd67562fa70b3ae0dd24/1528298869210/The+Russian+Reconnaissance+Fire+Complex+Comes+of+Age.pdf[32] https://isw.pub/UkrWar021724[33] https://t.me/mod_russia/35992[34] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-20-2024[35] https://t.me/mod_russia/35993[36] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-20-2024[37] https://www.chronicles.report/[38] https://isw.pub/UkrWar113023[39] https://www.chronicles.report/[40] https://isw.pub/UkrWar021624[41] https://www.chronicles.report/[42] https://www.chronicles.report/[43] https://isw.pub/UkrWar121423[44] https://suspilne dot media/691622-u-rosii-gorit-metalurgijnij-kombinat-so-vidomo/[45] https://t.me/igor_artamonov48/2263; https://t.me/igor_artamonov48/2264[46] https://t.me/bbcrussian/61144[47] https://www.radiosvoboda.org/a/news-skhemy-biznes-lisina-spivpratsyuye-z-oboronkoyu-ta-vyaznytsyamy-rosiyi/32500897.html?fbclid=IwAR2VzXRu3QxxV8eWpmn0iT_VClZV2tcu8_NLY_CWI0jFKrPTfxqT56ZUzbI[48] https://www.radiosvoboda.org/a/news-skhemy-lisin-yaderna-zbroya/32046732.html[49] https://www.forbes.com/real-time-billionaires/#45424edc3d78[50] https://gur.gov dot ua/content/snachala-vspyshka-potom-razryvy-pidtverdzhennia-zbyttia-rosiiskoho-litaka-a-50u.html; https://www.facebook.com/DefenceIntelligenceofUkraine/videos/942847450776246/; https://www.pravda dot com.ua/rus/news/2024/02/24/7443471/[51] https://meduza dot io/news/2024/02/24/ukrainskaya-pravda-pri-krushenii-samoleta-a-50-v-rayone-azovskogo-morya-pogibli-10-rossiyskih-voennyh; https://www.pravda.com dot ua/rus/news/2024/02/24/7443493/ https://t.me/istories_media/5217; https://www.pravda dot com.ua/rus/news/2024/02/24/7443493/; https://www.pravda dot com.ua/rus/news/2024/02/23/7443442/[52] https://t.me/rybar/57492; https://t.me/dva_majors/35165[53] https://t.me/vysokygovorit/14732[54] https://t.me/boris_rozhin/114184; https://t.me/milinfolive/116906[55] ” https://t.me/grey_zone/22087; https://t.me/grey_zone/22090[56] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid025oaVfTDFWUBVP95nPfMsYU15ZeoxvNRbBnizbSmALAGKkaWUHoSh3hLatF9asNyGl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid035xKApSh4MA9XFumYAMsNceQDziGxMcnWv51Qmvhzxefqp3m2ETYQFi3o6H555Swtl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0wCNvs4KRw4u5V661fESAxnXCswsiwrvjaiRMTtK31RfX5rQb7t6cd2AMggvkwC3sl ; https://t.me/mod_russia/36000; https://t.me/mod_russia/36002; https://t.me/mod_russia/35995  [57] https://t.me/sons_fatherland/12860[58] https://t.me/Dobrogo_vechora_mu_s_Ukraiinu/1634; https://twitter.com/EjShahid/status/1761370565481205794; https://t.me/creamy_caprice/4528; https://t.me/Dobrogo_vechora_mu_s_Ukraiinu/1634 ; https://t.me/creamy_caprice/4529?single; https://t.me/EnotHersonVDV/1336[59] https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62692 ; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62661[60] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0wCNvs4KRw4u5V661fESAxnXCswsiwrvjaiRMTtK31RfX5rQb7t6cd2AMggvkwC3sl[61] https://t.me/creamy_caprice/4531; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62682; https://x.com/EjShahid/status/1761395265284526157?s=20; https://twitter.com/antiputler_news/status/1761367797827785038; https://twitter.com/blinzka/status/1761428874447982624[62] https://t.me/rybar/57485; https://t.me/z_arhiv/26117; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/114259; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7631; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7640; https://t.me/wargonzo/18384; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62658; https://t.me/vrogov/14482; https://t.me/rybar/57528[63] https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62658[64] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid025oaVfTDFWUBVP95nPfMsYU15ZeoxvNRbBnizbSmALAGKkaWUHoSh3hLatF9asNyGl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid035xKApSh4MA9XFumYAMsNceQDziGxMcnWv51Qmvhzxefqp3m2ETYQFi3o6H555Swtl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0wCNvs4KRw4u5V661fESAxnXCswsiwrvjaiRMTtK31RfX5rQb7t6cd2AMggvkwC3sl; https://t.me/mod_russia/36000; https://t.me/wargonzo/18384; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62658[65] https://t.me/wargonzo/18384[66] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid025oaVfTDFWUBVP95nPfMsYU15ZeoxvNRbBnizbSmALAGKkaWUHoSh3hLatF9asNyGl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid035xKApSh4MA9XFumYAMsNceQDziGxMcnWv51Qmvhzxefqp3m2ETYQFi3o6H555Swtl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0wCNvs4KRw4u5V661fESAxnXCswsiwrvjaiRMTtK31RfX5rQb7t6cd2AMggvkwC3sl[67] https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62643; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/114197 (Pobieda); https://t.me/boris_rozhin/114260 (Novomykhailivka)[68] https://t.me/mod_russia/36000 ; https://t.me/mod_russia/36004 ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0wCNvs4KRw4u5V661fESAxnXCswsiwrvjaiRMTtK31RfX5rQb7t6cd2AMggvkwC3sl[69] https://t.me/rybar/57487[70] https://t.me/voin_dv/7197[71] https://t.me/creamy_caprice/4522?single; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62674; https://twitter.com/chris__759/status/1761380490802536822; https://twitter.com/Bielitzling/status/1761368691285909996; https://t.me/creamy_caprice/4533; https://t.me/Polk70/18881; https://twitter.com/moklasen/status/1761412831688155270[72] https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62674[73] https://t.me/wargonzo/18384 ; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62640[74] https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62640 (71st Regiment); https://t.me/creamy_caprice/4533; https://t.me/Polk70/18881; https://twitter.com/moklasen/status/1761412831688155270 ; https://t.me/batalyon15/3892 ; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62689 ; https://t.me/Polk70/18883 ;  https://t.me/z_arhiv/26119 (70th Regiment)[75] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid025oaVfTDFWUBVP95nPfMsYU15ZeoxvNRbBnizbSmALAGKkaWUHoSh3hLatF9asNyGl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid035xKApSh4MA9XFumYAMsNceQDziGxMcnWv51Qmvhzxefqp3m2ETYQFi3o6H555Swtl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0wCNvs4KRw4u5V661fESAxnXCswsiwrvjaiRMTtK31RfX5rQb7t6cd2AMggvkwC3sl ; https://t.me/wargonzo/18384[76] https://t.me/kpszsu/11021 ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0254DoFkwd7BW8yC4hMb9QNBAVYkjDyozQxuPbZ9t41jou53R25kLcaxzDcyC14vLnl[77] https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/delhi-approaches-moscow-for-early-discharge-of-indian-army-helpers/article67879442.ece; https://meduza dot io/news/2024/02/23/indiya-poprosila-rossiyu-razreshit-ee-grazhdan-zaklyuchivshim-kontrakty-s-rossiyskoy-armiey-dosrochno-uvolitsya; https://t.me/astrapress/49160 [78] https://web.archive.org/web/20240223183757/https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/indians-hired-as-russian-army-security-helpers-forced-to-fight-on-ukraine-border/article67868196.ece  ; https://www.thehindu dot com/news/national/indians-hired-as-russian-army-security-helpers-forced-to-fight-on-ukraine-border/article67868196.ece[79] https://www.thehindu dot com/news/national/delhi-approaches-moscow-for-early-discharge-of-indian-army-helpers/article67879442.ece; https://meduza dot io/news/2024/02/23/indiya-poprosila-rossiyu-razreshit-ee-grazhdan-zaklyuchivshim-kontrakty-s-rossiyskoy-armiey-dosrochno-uvolitsya; https://t.me/astrapress/49160 [80] https://www.state.gov/imposing-measures-in-response-to-navalnys-death-and-two-years-of-russias-full-scale-war-against-ukraine/[81] https://t.me/armyofdrones/947 ; https://t.me/breakingmash/51888[82] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2024-02-23/pentagon-has-opened-over-50-criminal-probes-on-us-aid-to-ukraine[83] https://rg dot ru/2024/02/24/pravitelstvo-vvelo-lgoty-na-zhd-perevozki-otdelnogo-syria-v-novyh-regionah.html; http://government dot ru/news/50959/[84] https://t.me/dva_majors/35177; https://t.me/Juncker_ZOV/916 ; https://t.me/negumanitarnaya_pomosch_Z/15115  ; https://t.me/voin_dv/7202 ; https://t.me/epoddubny/19188 ; https://t.me/MID_Russia/35600 ;  https://t.me/MID_Russia/35609 ; https://t.me/miroshnik_r/14426 ; https://t.me/SALDO_VGA/2283 ; https://t.me/VGA_Kherson/18779 ; https://t.me/xonewsru/6280  ; https://t.me/BalitskyEV/2677 ; https://t.me/Aksenov82/4141 ; https://t.me/glava_lnr_info/2141 ; https://t.me/vrogov/14479[85] https://t.me/rybar/57532

[Author: Institute for the Study of War]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 2/27/24 7:29pm
Christina Harward, Angelica Evans, Grace Mappes, Kateryna Stepanenko, George Barros, and Frederick W. KaganFebruary 22, 2024, 8:15pm ETClick here to see ISW’s interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.Click here to see ISW’s 3D control of terrain topographic map of Ukraine. Use of a computer (not a mobile device) is strongly recommended for using this data-heavy tool.Click here to access ISW’s archive of interactive time-lapse maps of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These maps complement the static control-of-terrain map that ISW produces daily by showing a dynamic frontline. ISW will update this time-lapse map archive monthly.Note: The data cut-off for this product was 2:00pm ET on February 22. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the February 23 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.Click here to read ISW’s latest warning update on the possibility of Transnistria, a pro-Russian breakaway region of Moldova, calling for Russian annexation or taking other action to support Russian hybrid operations against Moldova.Russian Security Council Deputy Chairperson Dmitry Medvedev said that Russia would likely have to seize Kyiv sooner or later while identifying Russia’s possible further territorial objectives in Ukraine. Medvedev responded in an interview published on February 22 to a question asking if there will “still be any part of Ukraine left that [Russia] will consider as a legitimate state, whose borders [Russia] will be ready to recognize.”[1] Medvedev stated that Russia must “ensure its interests” by achieving the goals of the “special military operation” as laid out by Russian President Vladimir Putin – referring to Russian demands for Ukraine’s “demilitarization,” “denazification,” and neutrality. Medvedev reiterated Russia’s intention of changing the in Ukraine, stating that the Ukrainian government “must fall, it must be destroyed, it must not remain in this world.” Medvedev claimed that Russia must create a “protective cordon” in order to protect against “encroachments on [Russia’s] lands,” including shelling and active offensive operations. Medvedev stated that he does not know where Russia should “stop” but that Russia “probably” must seize and occupy Kyiv “if not now then after some time.” Medvedev claimed that Kyiv is historically a “Russian” city from where “international” threats to Russia’s existence currently originate. Medvedev also labeled Odesa a historical “Russian” city. Putin similarly emphasized on January 31 the idea of a “demilitarized” or “sanitary” zone in Ukraine.[2] ISW previously assessed that Putin’s statements about creating a “protective” zone in which Russia’s claimed and actual territories are out of Ukrainian firing range actually mean that Russia cannot accept the existence of any independent Ukraine with the ability to defend itself.[3] Medvedev, however, also claimed that “if ... something remains of Ukraine,” then it “probably” has a low chance of survival and reiterated his previous comments about a possible Ukrainian rump state in Lviv Oblast while alluding to the fact that this area was Polish territory earlier in history.[4] Medvedev’s comments continue to indicate that the Kremlin has returned to its domestic narrative that Russia is fighting the war to “liberate its historic lands.”[5]Medvedev’s mention of Russia’s possible intentions to occupy Odesa may be worth noting in light of recent developments in the pro-Russian breakaway republic of Transnistria in Moldova, the southern tip of which is about 50 kilometers from the city. Transnistrian authorities recently announced that the Transnistrian Congress of Deputies is planning to meet on February 28.[6] ISW forecasts that deputies may initiate a new referendum seeking annexation by Russia or propose or demand action on a 2006 referendum that called for Transnistria’s annexation by Russia.[7] ISW has not observed clear indications of Russian military preparations to intervene in Transnistria or Moldova more generally, and Russian military intervention would be challenging for Moscow since Moldova and Transnistria are landlocked and accessible only through Romanian or Ukrainian territory.[8]Medvedev also described Russian plans to repress Ukrainian citizens in occupied Ukraine. Medvedev claimed that Ukrainian citizens in occupied Ukraine who “harm” (vredyat) Russia in must be “exposed and punished, sent to Siberia ... for re-education in forced labor camps.”[9] Stalin-era show trials and repressions starting in the 1920s and 1930s similarly targeted saboteurs (vrediteli), particularly in the agricultural sphere.[10] Medvedev’s usage of Stalin-era purge rhetoric is significant. Zaporizhia Oblast occupation governor Yevgeny Balitsky also openly discussed – and attempted to defend – the illegal Russian occupation policies, including the forced deportation of Ukrainian citizens who oppose Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and possibly even alluded to Russian occupation forces’ summary executions of Ukrainian citizens.[11]Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) leaders and Republic of Tatarstan Head Rustam Minnikhanov on February 21 and 22. Putin attended the “Games of the Future” in Kazan alongside Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Kyrgyzstan’s President Sadyr Japarov, Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, and Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon.[12] Putin also met with Minnikhanov and former head of Tatarstan Mintimer Shamaiev to discuss the construction of a new unspecified research and development center in Sibur, Tatarstan.[13] CTP-ISW previously reported that Minnikhanov visited Iran, likely to discuss Russo-Iranian defense industrial and military cooperation.[14] Minnikhanov’s visit was particularly noteworthy given his trip to the Esfahan Province, where several prominent Iranian defense industrial and military sites are located and considering that Iran is helping to construct a military drone manufacturing facility in the “Alabuga” Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Tatarstan. Minnikhanov also has previous ties to authorities in Gagauzia, a pro-Russia autonomous region of Moldova (although separate from Transnistria), which is notable given ISW’s February 22 warning forecast about a possible Russian hybrid operation against Moldova.[15]Ukrainian forces conducted another successful strike against a Russian training ground in occupied Kherson Oblast on February 21 and likely inflected significant casualties. Ukrainian Southern Operational Command Spokesperson Colonel Nataliya Humenyuk reported on February 22 that a Ukrainian strike killed nearly 60 Russian servicemen at a Russian training ground in occupied Podo-Kalynivka, Kherson Oblast.[16] Humenyuk stated that the targeted Russian assault groups were training to conduct operations near Krynky.[17] Footage published on February 21 shows the strike, which reportedly killed members of the Russian 328th Airborne Assault (VDV) Regiment (104th VDV Division), 810th Naval Infantry Brigade (Black Sea Fleet), and 81st Self-Propelled Artillery Regiment (likely a reconstituted Soviet-era unit).[18] Russian milbloggers criticized the Russian command for conducting training exercises within the range of Ukrainian drones and HIMARS systems and advocated for updated training policies that account for the threat of Ukrainian strike systems and better protect Russian servicemen.[19] Some Russian milbloggers noted that this strike follows the February 20 Ukrainian HIMARS strikes against a Russian training ground near Volnovakha, Donetsk Oblast, which reportedly killed “dozens” of Russian military personnel.[20]Ukraine’s European and Western allies continue to ramp up their support for Ukraine. The Danish Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced a new military aid package for Ukraine on February 22 valued at 1.7 billion Danish kroner ($228 million). This package includes 15,000 155mm shells jointly produced with the Czech Republic, air defense materiel and ammunition, mine clearance equipment, drones, radar, and communication equipment.[21] Denmark also signed a 10-year bilateral security agreement with Ukraine.[22] UK Defense Minister Grant Shapps announced that the UK is sending 200 Brimstone anti-tank missiles to Ukraine.[23] New Zealand also announced a new aid package for Ukraine valued at 25.9 million NZD ($15.4 million), including humanitarian aid and funding for other international funds that support Ukraine’s weapons acquisition, recovery, and reconstruction.[24] The German Bundestag approved additional military support to Ukraine, including unspecified long-range weapons systems and ammunition, but rejected a bill that called for Germany to provide Taurus cruise missiles to Ukraine.[25]Russian opposition outlet Proekt reported on February 22 that the Russian government has subjected at least 116,000 Russians to criminal and administrative charges since the start of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fourth term in office in 2018.[26] Proekt reported that Russian authorities pursued criminal charges against 11,442 people for politically motivated charges, including extremism, justifying terrorism, discrediting the Russian military, and spreading “fake” information about Russia’s war in Ukraine in 2018-2023.[27] Proekt noted that Russian authorities brought administrative charges against an additional 105,000 people for charges related to speech, conscience, and assembly, including at protests.[28] Proekt reported that Russian authorities initiated 5,829 cases for crimes against the state in this time period, including espionage, disclosure of state secrets, cooperation with foreign organizations, and for refusing to participate in the war in Ukraine.[29] Proekt’s partner organization Agenstvo Novosti noted that Russian authorities have tried 329 people for disclosing state secrets since 2018, more than the Soviet Union did during the entirety of the Cold War.[30] Proekt reported that Russian authorities have tried over 13,000 people under criminal statues introduced due to the war in Ukraine, including spreading fake information and discrediting the Russian military, including roughly 4,500 military personnel punished for new articles related to conduct in the military or on the battlefield.[31] Proekt reported that Russian authorities have pursued over 600,000 cases for insubordination against, insulting, and violence against Russian government officials and over 159,000 cases for violating pandemic restrictions in this timeframe.[32] While it is likely that some and even many of these cases are legitimate, the Kremlin has increasingly weaponized the Russian criminal justice system to crack down on domestic dissent against the war and Putin’s autocratic rule to consolidate control over domestic Russian society.[33] Proekt noted that the number of political repression-related cases initiated has sharply increased since 2022 and that many of the cases are dubious, either due to officials’ obfuscation of the criminal case itself or because they are prosecutions of a fake or overblown crime to cover up another misdeed.[34]Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated on February 22 that the Kremlin does not regard Russian military correspondents (voyenkory) and milbloggers as participants of the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine, shortly after the suicide of a prominent Russian milblogger on February 21. Peskov stated that it would be wrong to linearly equate voyenkory to Russian servicemen fighting in Ukraine because they do not bear arms.[35] Peskov implied that Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a similar opinion and noted that Russian military correspondents' contributions to the war effort should be acknowledged in their own distinct category, despite the fact that many Russian milbloggers do in fact bear arms and engage in combat operations, among other tasks that military personnel perform.[36] Peskov’s statement follows the Russian information space‘s widespread discussion of the suicide of Russian serviceman and independent milblogger Andrei Morozov (alias Boytsovskiy Kot Murz).[37] Morozov served in the Russian 4th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade (2nd Luhansk People’s Republic’s [LNR] Army Corps) while simultaneously maintaining a Telegram channel with over 100,000 followers — where he avidly criticized the Russian military command and senior Russian political figures — and coordinating aid provisions to Russian frontline forces. Morozov blamed the Russian military command and propagandists for triggering his decision to commit suicide after an abusive Russian military commander ordered him to delete his reports about high Russian personnel losses around Avdiivka. The timing of Peskov’s remarks is notable and may reflect a broader Kremlin campaign to consolidate a monopoly over the Russian military correspondent and milblogger community. The Kremlin has been increasingly collaborating with voyenkory who work as frontline correspondents, and ISW observed an increase in reports about persecutions against milbloggers who perform humanitarian or combat operations in addition to maintaining Telegram channels.[38] Russian officials have previously threatened to restrict certain milbloggers from reporting on the frontlines unless they possess Kremlin-issued “press” vests, and the Kremlin may be attempting to eliminate the independent class of milbloggers and replace them with Kremlin-affiliated voyenkory.[39]Key Takeaways:Russian Security Council Deputy Chairperson Dmitry Medvedev said that Russia would likely have to seize Kyiv sooner or later while identifying Russia’s possible further territorial objectives in Ukraine.Medvedev’s mention of Russia’s possible intentions to occupy Odesa may be worth noting in light of recent developments in the pro-Russian breakaway republic of Transnistria in Moldova, the southern tip of which is about 50 kilometers from the city.Medvedev also described Russian plans to repress Ukrainian citizens in occupied Ukraine.Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) leaders and Republic of Tatarstan Head Rustam Minnikhanov on February 21 and 22.Ukrainian forces conducted another successful strike against a Russian training ground in occupied Kherson Oblast on February 21 and likely inflected significant casualties.Ukraine’s European and Western allies continue to ramp up their support for Ukraine.Russian opposition outlet Proekt reported on February 22 that the Russian government has subjected at least 116,000 Russians to criminal and administrative charges since the start of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fourth term in office in 2018.Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated on February 22 that the Kremlin does not regard Russian military correspondents (voyenkory) and milbloggers as participants of the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine, shortly after the suicide of a prominent Russian milblogger on February 21.Russian forces recently made confirmed advances near Bakhmut and Avdiivka.A Russian insider source claimed that Russian officials have postponed creating Rosgvardia’s 1st Volunteer Corps from remaining Wagner Group detachments because of an ongoing rotation of former Wagner personnel in Africa.Russia continues to export its state policies on systemic religious persecution to occupied Ukraine.We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because these activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We will continue to evaluate and report on the effects of these criminal activities on the Ukrainian military and the Ukrainian population and specifically on combat in Ukrainian urban areas. We utterly condemn Russian violations of the laws of armed conflict and the Geneva Conventions and crimes against humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.    Russian Main Effort – Eastern Ukraine (comprised of two subordinate main efforts)Russian Subordinate Main Effort #1 – Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and encircle northern Donetsk OblastRussian Subordinate Main Effort #2 – Capture the entirety of Donetsk OblastRussian Supporting Effort – Southern AxisRussian Air, Missile, and Drone CampaignRussian Mobilization and Force Generation EffortsRussian Technological AdaptationsActivities in Russian-occupied areasUkrainian Defense Industrial Base EffortsRussian Information Operations and NarrativesSignificant Activity in BelarusRussian Main Effort – Eastern UkraineRussian Subordinate Main Effort #1 – Luhansk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and northern Donetsk Oblast)Positional engagements continued along the Kupaynsk-Svatove-Kreminna line on February 22, but there were no confirmed changes to the frontline in this area. Positional engagements continued northeast of Kupyansk near Synkivka; southeast of Kupyansk near Tabaivka, Berestove, and Krokhmalne; west of Kreminna near Terny and Yampolivka; and south of Kreminna in Bilohorivka.[40] Elements of the Russian 7th Motorized Rifle Brigade (2nd Luhansk People’s Republic [LNR] Army Corps) are reportedly operating near Bilohorivka.[41]Russian Subordinate Main Effort #2 – Donetsk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)Russian forces recently marginally advanced northwest of Bakhmut amid continued positional fighting in the area on February 22. Geolocated footage published on February 9 and 21 shows that Russian forces marginally advanced southeast and south of Bohdanivka (northwest of Bakhmut), respectively.[42] Russian milbloggers claimed that elements of the Russian 11th Separate Guards Air Assault (VDV) Brigade and 150th Motorized Rifle Division (8th Combined Arms Army [CAA], Southern Military District [SMD]) broke through Ukrainian defenses on the northern and northeastern outskirts of Ivanivske (west of Bakhmut) and are now fighting in the village itself and on its eastern outskirts, though ISW has not observed visual confirmation of these claims.[43] Positional fighting continued northeast of Bakhmut near Vyimka; northwest of Bakhmut near Bohdanivka; southwest of Bakhmut near Klishchiivka and Andriivka; and south of Bakhmut near Mayorske, Niu York, Toretsk, and Pivdenne.[44] Elements of the Russian 200th Motorized Rifle Brigade (14th Army Corps [AC], Northern Fleet) are reportedly operating near Bohdanivka, and elements of the Chechen “Sever-Akhmat” detachment (78th Motorized Rifle Regiment, 42nd Motorized Rifle Division, 58th CAA, SMD) are operating near Klishchiivka.[45]Russian forces advanced west of Avdiivka, and Russian sources claimed that Russian forces captured Sieverne to the southwest on February 22. Geolocated footage published on February 22 shows that Russian forces advanced in a field west of the Avdiivka Coke Plant in northern Avdiivka.[46] Russian milbloggers claimed that the Russian 1st “Slavic” Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade (1st Donetsk People’s Republic’s [DNR] AC) captured Sieverne and that other Russian forces captured roughly 40 percent of Pervomaiske (southwest of Avdiivka), though ISW has not observed visual confirmation of these claims.[47] Positional fighting continued northwest and west of Avdiivka near Stepove, Berdychi, Orlivka, Lastochkyne; and southwest of Avdiivka near Sieverne, Pervomaiske, and Nevelske.[48] Elements of the Russian 55th Motorized Rifle Brigade (41st CAA, Central Military District [CMD]) continue to operate in Avdiivka, and elements of the Russian 110th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade (1st DNR AC) are operating near Nevelske.[49]A Ukrainian military analyst stated that Russian forces lost roughly a division’s worth of tanks and roughly two divisions’ worth of armored vehicles in the Russian campaign for Avdiivka. Ukrainian military analyst Colonel Petro Chernyk reported on February 22 that Russian forces lost 364 tanks and 748 armored vehicles, which Chernyk stated amounts to just over one division’s worth of tanks and nearly two divisions’ worth of armored vehicles, respectively.[50] Chernyk stated that Russian forces have not suffered equipment losses at this scale since the Second World War and noted that Soviet forces only lost a maximum of 180 tanks in the entire nine-year war in Afghanistan.[51] Chernyk warned that Russian forces will use infantry to compensate for extreme vehicle losses, which is consistent with ISW’s observations about Russian attritional infantry-led “meat assaults” observed near Avdiivka and elsewhere in the theater.[52]Positional fighting continued west and southwest of Donetsk City on February 22, but there were no confirmed changes to the frontline. A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces marginally advanced towards Krasnohorivka (west of Donetsk City) from the south.[53] The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) officially announced the Russian capture of Pobieda (southwest of Donetsk City) on February 22 after Russian forces seized the settlement no later than February 21.[54] Positional fighting continued west of Donetsk City and Heorhiivka and southwest of Donetsk City near Pobieda and Novomykhailivka.[55]Russian Supporting Effort – Southern Axis (Russian objective: Maintain frontline positions and secure rear areas against Ukrainian strikes)Positional engagements continued in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area on February 22. A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces advanced near Novodonetske (southeast of Velyka Novosilka) and Pryyutne (southwest of Velyka Novosilka).[56] Positional fighting continues south of Zolota Nyva (southeast of Velyka Novosilka) and near Novozlatopil (southwest of Velyka Novosilka).[57] Elements of the Russian 30th Artillery Brigade (36th Combined Arms Army, Eastern Military District) are reportedly operating near Urozhaine (south of Velyka Novosilka).[58]Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces advanced in western Zaporizhia Oblast on February 22. A prominent Kremlin-affiliated milblogger claimed that Russian forces advanced one kilometer near Robotyne and that Russian forces pushed Ukrainian forces from several positions near Verbove (east of Robotyne).[59] Another prominent Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces advanced more than two kilometers near Robotyne on February 21.[60] Fighting continued east and on the southern outskirts of Robotyne and west of Verbove.[61] Elements of the Russian 136th Artillery Regiment (likely a reconstituted Soviet-era unit) are reportedly operating near Robotyne.[62]Positional fighting continued in east (left) bank Kherson Oblast, particularly near Krynky, on February 22.[63] Ukrainian Southern Operational Command Spokesperson Colonel Nataliya Humenyuk stated that Russian forces retreated from unspecified positions near Krynky following a Ukrainian assault in the area.[64]Russian Air, Missile, and Drone Campaign (Russian Objective: Target Ukrainian military and civilian infrastructure in the rear and on the frontline)Russian forces launched another drone and missile strike against Ukraine overnight on February 21 to February 22. The Ukrainian Air Force reported that Russian forces launched 10 Shahed 136/131 drones from Primorsko-Akhtarsk, Krasnodar Krai and one Kh-31P anti-radar missile from the Black Sea.[65] Ukrainian military officials reported that Ukrainian force shot down eight Shahed drones over Poltava, Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhia, and Kharkiv oblasts.[66] Ukrainian Southern Operational Command Spokesperson Colonel Nataliya Humenyuk stated that Russian forces launched a missile, possibly a Kh-31 type, against Odesa Oblast on the evening of February 21.[67] Russian sources claimed that Russian forces targeted and struck the Myrhorod military airfield in Poltava Oblast.[68]Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) reported on February 22 that Russian forces have used more than 20 North Korean ballistic missiles in strikes against Ukraine.[69] The SBU reported that it collected evidence of Russian forces using North Korean Hwasong-11 (KN-23/24) ballistic missiles and noted that Russian forces first used these missiles to strike Zaporizhzhia City on December 30, 2023. The SBU added that Russian forces launched North Korea ballistic missiles against an apartment building in Kyiv City in early January 2024 and have also struck residential and civilian infrastructure in Donetsk and Kharkiv oblasts.Russian Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts (Russian objective: Expand combat power without conducting general mobilization)A Russian insider source claimed that Russian officials have postponed creating Rosgvardia’s 1st Volunteer Corps from remaining Wagner Group detachments because of an ongoing rotation of former Wagner personnel in Africa.[70] The source claimed that assault troops — likely referring to Wagner’s former 15th, 16th, and 17th assault detachments — in Kazachi Lageri, Rostov Oblast are preparing to rotate in Africa. A Russian milblogger claimed on February 19 that Russian efforts to integrate former Wagner personnel into Rosgvardia have halted.[71]The Kremlin-affiliated Public Opinion Foundation (FOM) claimed that 68 percent of Russians believe that military professions in Russia have high prestige, based on survey data collected as of February 2024.[72] The FOM claimed that the number of Russians characterizing the Russian military as having high prestige has been consistently increasing from 53 percent in mid-February 2022 to 60 percent in February 2023. The FOM largely conducts surveys for the Russian Presidential Administration and this data may be exaggerated to incentivize military recruitment in Russia.[73]Russian Technological Adaptations (Russian objective: Introduce technological innovations to optimize systems for use in Ukraine)  Russian design bureau “Stratim” reported that Russian operators will test the “Chaika” drone in Ukraine in March 2024.[74] “Stratim” claimed that the Chaika drone is a tailsitter drone that combines the advantages of fixed wing aircraft and multi-rotor UAVs. “Stratim” claimed that this drone has a range of up to 30km, a speed of at least 100 kilometers per hour, and can carry a payload of four to five kilograms.[75]Ukrainian Defense Industrial Efforts (Ukrainian objective: Develop its defense industrial base to become more self-sufficient in cooperation with US, European, and international partners)The Danish Ministry of Defense and US Department of Defense announced on February 22 that the Air Force Capability Coalition expects to provide the first F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine in summer 2024.[76]Activities in Russian-occupied areas (Russian objective: Consolidate administrative control of annexed areas; forcibly integrate Ukrainian citizens into Russian sociocultural, economic, military, and governance systems)Russia continues to export its state policies on systemic religious persecution to occupied Ukraine. Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) head Denis Pushilin posted footage on February 22 purportedly showing the Federal Security Service (FSB) and Rosgvardia raiding an office of a Jehovah’s Witness congregation in occupied Mariupol, Donetsk Oblast.[77] Pushilin claimed that Russian authorities seized more than 5,000 books from the office. Russia banned Jehovah’s Witnesses as an “extremist” organization in 2017, and Russian authorities have persecuted Jehovah’s Witnesses and other religious minorities in Russia and Ukraine.[78]Russian authorities continue to illegally deport Ukrainian civilians, including children, to Russia under the guise of rehabilitation programs. The Russian “We Help Ours” organization stated on February 22 that Russian authorities deported a group of 20 Ukrainian children and their mothers from occupied Luhansk Oblast to a sanatorium in Moscow Oblast.[79]Russian Information Operations and NarrativesRussian President Vladimir Putin and Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov reiterated Kremlin narratives on February 22 intended to justify Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and portray the Russian economy as stable and successful despite the pressure of Western sanctions. Putin and Peskov claimed that Russian military personnel are “liberating” historical Russian lands and “minimizing” and “eradicating” danger in Donbas and “Novorossiya.”[80] Putin additionally claimed that all of Russia’s oblasts — including illegally annexed Ukrainian territories — have good potential for further economic growth.[81]Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attempted to blame perceived Western “arrogance and pre-occupation with Russophobia” on February 22 for the lack of peace negotiations to resolve the war in Ukraine, despite official Russian statements that the Kremlin is not interested in good-faith peace negotiations with Ukraine.[82]Significant activity in Belarus (Russian efforts to increase its military presence in Belarus and further integrate Belarus into Russian-favorable frameworks and Wagner Group activity in Belarus)Belarus continues strengthening its military-technical cooperation with Russia. Belarusian Defense Minister Lieutenant General Viktor Khrenin stated that Russia and Belarus have established a legislative framework for creating and operating joint combat training centers and recently proposed to develop a plan for a joint weapons program.[83] Khrenin also stated that the Russian regional grouping of forces and Belarusian forces will conduct their standard biennial exercises again in 2025.[84]Belarus continues to amplify Kremlin rhetoric that Ukraine poses an existential threat to Russia and Belarus. Khrenin claimed on February 22 that Ukraine has concentrated a “strike force” on the Ukrainian-Belarusian border and that Ukrainian sabotage groups may conduct provocations across the border.[85]Note: ISW does not receive any classified material from any source, uses only publicly available information, and draws extensively on Russian, Ukrainian, and Western reporting and social media as well as commercially available satellite imagery and other geospatial data as the basis for these reports. References to all sources used are provided in the endnotes of each update.[1] https://tass dot ru/interviews/20056443[2] https://isw.pub/UkrWar013124[3] https://isw.pub/UkrWar013124[4] https://tass dot ru/interviews/20056443[5] https://isw.pub/UkrWar121323[6] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/warning-transnistria-may-organize-referendum-annexation-russia-support-russian-hybrid[7] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/warning-transnistria-may-organize-referendum-annexation-russia-support-russian-hybrid[8] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/warning-transnistria-may-organize-referendum-annexation-russia-support-russian-hybrid[9] https://tass dot ru/interviews/20056443[10] https://old dot bigenc.ru/domestic_history/text/5780565 ; https://novayagazeta dot ru/articles/2021/08/11/sovetuiu-prigovorit-vreditelei-k-rasstrelu[11] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-21-2024[12] https://tass dot ru/obschestvo/20052933 ; https://dzen dot ru/a/ZdcRuzR07xbA8Uit[13] https://tass dot ru/obschestvo/20057317[14] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/iran-update-february-15-2024[15] https://www.gagauzia dot md/ru/administracziya-regiona/bashkan-gagauzii/vyistupleniya-i-obrashheniya/prezident-tatarstana-posetil-s-oficzialnyim-vizitom-gagauzskuyu-avtonomiyu.html ; https://m.business-gazeta dot ru/news/561692 ; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/warning-transnistria-may-organization-referendum-annexation-russia-support-russian  [16] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cW5cM-7x4S8&t=445s; https://suspilne dot media/689922-zelenskij-proponue-uradu-polsi-zustritis-na-kordoni-u-es-pogodili-13-paket-sankcij-proti-rf-729-den-vijni-onlajn/?anchor=live_1708585517&utm_source=copylink&utm_medium=ps;[17] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cW5cM-7x4S8&t=445s; https://suspilne dot media/689922-zelenskij-proponue-uradu-polsi-zustritis-na-kordoni-u-es-pogodili-13-paket-sankcij-proti-rf-729-den-vijni-onlajn/?anchor=live_1708585517&utm_source=copylink&utm_medium=ps;[18] Warning: Graphic Content https://twitter.com/bayraktar_1love/status/1760427942184620291, https://t.me/vanek_nikolaev/21638, https://twitter.com/bayraktar_1love/status/1760423395127083293 ; https://t.me/andriyshTime/18561 ; https://t.me/vanek_nikolaev/21638 ; https://twitter.com/giK1893/status/1760416989716095379 ; https://twitter.com/DefMon3/status/1760422404814159960 ; https://twitter.com/Liveuamap/status/1760417927164006741; https://twitter.com/666_mancer/status/1760417612452741370; https://t.me/osetin20/7894;  https://t.co/t9hC85fpMu; https://t.me/astrapress/49009;  https://t.me/istories_media/5176; https://t.me/mobilizationnews/17718 ; https://t.me/vanek_nikolaev/21638 ; https://t.me/sotaproject/75055[19] https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62545 ; https://t.me/rybar/57406   ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113954   ; https://t.me/dva_majors/35056 ; https://t.me/dva_majors/35060   ; https://t.me/dva_majors/35060   ; https://t.me/vysokygovorit/14716   ; https://t.me/grey_zone/22063  [20] https://isw.pub/UkrWarO22124 ; https://t.me/grey_zone/22063   ; https://t.me/milinfolive/116789   [21] https://www.fmn dot dk/da/nyheder/2024/ny-donationspakke-sikrer-15.000-artillerigranater-til--ukraine/; https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/22/15-tysyach-snaryadiv-boyeprypasy-dlya-ppo-ta-drony-daniya-nadaye-novyj-paket-dopomogy-ukrayini/[22] https://mil dot in.ua/en/news/ukraine-and-denmark-sign-ten-year-security-agreement/ ; https://www dot thelocal.dk/20240222/denmark-signs-10-year-security-agreement-with-ukraine[23] https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/defence-secretary-oral-statement-for-the-second-anniversary-of-the-full-scale-russian-invasion-of-ukraine-22-february-2024  ; https://news.sky.com/story/ukraine-war-latest-uk-sanctions-prison-bosses-at-polar-wolf-colony-where-navalny-died-as-russia-claims-second-frontline-breakthrough-12541713?postid=7269700#liveblog-body ; https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/22/brytaniya-vidpravyt-ukrayini-shhe-200-protytankovyh-raket/[24] https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/nz-announces-new-support-ukraine ; https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/22/nova-zelandiya-ogolosyla-pro-paket-dopomogy-dlya-ukrayiny/[25] https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/german-lawmakers-reject-taurus-missiles-ukraine-after-nearly-2-years-war-2024-02-22/ ; https://www.ukrinform dot ua/rubric-world/3830774-nimecki-deputati-poobicali-ukraini-dalekobijnu-zbrou-ale-ne-utocnili-aku-same.html ; https://www.dw dot com/ru/bundestag-otklonil-rezoluciu-o-postavke-ukraine-krylatyh-raket-taurus/a-68341020; https://meduza dot io/news/2024/02/22/bundestag-otklonil-rezolyutsiyu-o-nachale-postavok-raket-taurus-ukraine ; https://www.politico.eu/article/germany-political-crisis-taurus-cruise-missiles-ukraine-marie-agnes-strack-zimmermann/[26] https://meduza dot io/news/2024/02/22/proekt-putin-po-masshtabam-repressiy-prevzoshel-vseh-gensekov-sssr-krome-stalina; https://www.proekt dot media/guide/repressii-v-rossii/[27] https://meduza dot io/news/2024/02/22/proekt-putin-po-masshtabam-repressiy-prevzoshel-vseh-gensekov-sssr-krome-stalina; https://www.proekt dot media/guide/repressii-v-rossii/[28] https://meduza dot io/news/2024/02/22/proekt-putin-po-masshtabam-repressiy-prevzoshel-vseh-gensekov-sssr-krome-stalina; https://www.proekt dot media/guide/repressii-v-rossii/[29] https://meduza dot io/news/2024/02/22/proekt-putin-po-masshtabam-repressiy-prevzoshel-vseh-gensekov-sssr-krome-stalina; https://www.proekt dot media/guide/repressii-v-rossii/[30] https://t.me/agentstvonews/5146[31] https://meduza dot io/news/2024/02/22/proekt-putin-po-masshtabam-repressiy-prevzoshel-vseh-gensekov-sssr-krome-stalina; https://www.proekt dot media/guide/repressii-v-rossii/[32] https://meduza dot io/news/2024/02/22/proekt-putin-po-masshtabam-repressiy-prevzoshel-vseh-gensekov-sssr-krome-stalina; https://www.proekt dot media/guide/repressii-v-rossii/[33] https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Jan%2023%20Russian%20Offensive%20Campaign%20Assessment%20PDF.pdf; https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Russian%20Offensive%20Campaign%20Assessment%2C%20May%2030.pdf; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-january-31-2023; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-november-30; https://understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/20230203%20Russian%20Offensive%20Campaign%20Assessment%20FINAL.pdf; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-october-19[34] https://meduza dot io/news/2024/02/22/proekt-putin-po-masshtabam-repressiy-prevzoshel-vseh-gensekov-sssr-krome-stalina; https://www.proekt dot media/guide/repressii-v-rossii/[35] https://tass dot ru/politika/20054699[36] https://t.me/epoddubny/19176  [37] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-21-2024[38] https://t.me/dva_majors/28963; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-21-2024; https://t.me/dva_majors/28432; https://t.me/dva_majors/27619 ; https://t.me/dva_majors/33314[39] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-january-27-2023[40] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02g98fcqH9aaD3AUe4PDjdTFfLozy5nebeK4TrNQ5nvWCFLfn9cUW8KG37Rh6Q83qUl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0YcBd3wqvmAxabuKbDrF74oEAXf3VSPR7J2HFod7yoxCX2KmhsqcGfSExAkBUPA1wl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0RrtETndSR8bq8VjJxqxLGPUzFQMsCijYsGhmoFqouJTUvzKNwMWsgVnBVub3dwrpl ; https://t.me/mod_russia/35905  ; https://t.me/wargonzo/18334 ; https://t.me/dva_majors/35062 ; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/54211 ; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/54211[41] https://t.me/sons_fatherland/12825[42] V https://t.me/creamy_caprice/4495?single; https://t.me/vdd98/2474; https://t.me/creamy_caprice/4324; https://t.me/creamy_caprice/4501; https://t.me/ua_42nd_ombr/171[43] https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7588; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7601; https://t.me/dva_majors/35089; https://t.me/z_arhiv/26102; https://t.me/negumanitarnaya_pomosch_Z/15082  ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/114005; https://t.me/negumanitarnaya_pomosch_Z/15080; https://t.me/rybar/57431; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62577[44] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02g98fcqH9aaD3AUe4PDjdTFfLozy5nebeK4TrNQ5nvWCFLfn9cUW8KG37Rh6Q83qUl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0YcBd3wqvmAxabuKbDrF74oEAXf3VSPR7J2HFod7yoxCX2KmhsqcGfSExAkBUPA1wl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0RrtETndSR8bq8VjJxqxLGPUzFQMsCijYsGhmoFqouJTUvzKNwMWsgVnBVub3dwrpl; https://t.me/wargonzo/18334; https://t.me/wargonzo/18334; https://t.me/milinfolive/116840 ; https://t.me/voin_dv/7168; https://t.me/rybar/57431[45] https://t.me/milinfolive/116840 ; https://t.me/voin_dv/7168; https://t.me/RKadyrov_95/4516 [46] https://t.me/ab3army/3678; https://x.com/moklasen/status/1760744301364138306?s=20;[47] https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7591; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7582; https://t.me/rsotmdivision/14121; https://t.me/NeoficialniyBeZsonoV/33446; https://t.me/sashakots/45148[48] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02g98fcqH9aaD3AUe4PDjdTFfLozy5nebeK4TrNQ5nvWCFLfn9cUW8KG37Rh6Q83qUl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0YcBd3wqvmAxabuKbDrF74oEAXf3VSPR7J2HFod7yoxCX2KmhsqcGfSExAkBUPA1wl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0RrtETndSR8bq8VjJxqxLGPUzFQMsCijYsGhmoFqouJTUvzKNwMWsgVnBVub3dwrpl; https://t.me/mod_russia/35905; https://t.me/mod_russia/35892; https://t.me/otarnavskiy/526; https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/22/cherez-znachni-vtraty-pid-avdiyivkoyu-rosiyany-peregrupovuyutsya-ta-pidtyaguyut-rezervy-oleksandr-tarnavskyj/; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62513 ; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62554[49] https://t.me/mod_russia/35896; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62569;[50] https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/22/364-tanky-vtratyv-vorog-u-bytvi-za-avdiyivku-bagato-cze-chy-malo-rozmirkovuye-ekspert/[51] https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/22/364-tanky-vtratyv-vorog-u-bytvi-za-avdiyivku-bagato-cze-chy-malo-rozmirkovuye-ekspert/[52] https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/22/364-tanky-vtratyv-vorog-u-bytvi-za-avdiyivku-bagato-cze-chy-malo-rozmirkovuye-ekspert/; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-october-30-2023; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-november-1-2023-0; https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Dec%206%20Russian%20Offensive%20Campaign%20Assessment%20PDF.docx_.pdf; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-october-11-2023[53] https://t.me/warreportss/1035 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113943[54] https://t.me/mod_russia/35905 ; https://t.me/wargonzo/18346; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/54211; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-21-2024  [55] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02g98fcqH9aaD3AUe4PDjdTFfLozy5nebeK4TrNQ5nvWCFLfn9cUW8KG37Rh6Q83qUl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0YcBd3wqvmAxabuKbDrF74oEAXf3VSPR7J2HFod7yoxCX2KmhsqcGfSExAkBUPA1wl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0RrtETndSR8bq8VjJxqxLGPUzFQMsCijYsGhmoFqouJTUvzKNwMWsgVnBVub3dwrpl; https://t.me/otarnavskiy/526; https://t.me/wargonzo/18334[56] https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/54211[57] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0YcBd3wqvmAxabuKbDrF74oEAXf3VSPR7J2HFod7yoxCX2KmhsqcGfSExAkBUPA1wl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0RrtETndSR8bq8VjJxqxLGPUzFQMsCijYsGhmoFqouJTUvzKNwMWsgVnBVub3dwrpl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02g98fcqH9aaD3AUe4PDjdTFfLozy5nebeK4TrNQ5nvWCFLfn9cUW8KG37Rh6Q83qUl ; https://t.me/mod_russia/35888[58] https://t.me/voin_dv/7167   [59] https://t.me/rybar/57419[60] https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62517 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113933  [61] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02g98fcqH9aaD3AUe4PDjdTFfLozy5nebeK4TrNQ5nvWCFLfn9cUW8KG37Rh6Q83qUl   ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0YcBd3wqvmAxabuKbDrF74oEAXf3VSPR7J2HFod7yoxCX2KmhsqcGfSExAkBUPA1wl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0RrtETndSR8bq8VjJxqxLGPUzFQMsCijYsGhmoFqouJTUvzKNwMWsgVnBVub3dwrpl ; https://t.me/zoda_gov_ua/26510 ; https://t.me/mod_russia/35905 ; https://t.me/otarnavskiy/526 ; https://t.me/wargonzo/18334 ; https://t.me/notes_veterans/15706 ; https://t.me/batalyon15/3863 ; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/54211 ;   https://t.me/negumanitarnaya_pomosch_Z/15088[62] https://t.me/dva_majors/35075  ; https://t.me/ZA_FROHT/26706 ; https://t.me/voin_dv/7166  [63] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02g98fcqH9aaD3AUe4PDjdTFfLozy5nebeK4TrNQ5nvWCFLfn9cUW8KG37Rh6Q83qUl   ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0YcBd3wqvmAxabuKbDrF74oEAXf3VSPR7J2HFod7yoxCX2KmhsqcGfSExAkBUPA1wl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0RrtETndSR8bq8VjJxqxLGPUzFQMsCijYsGhmoFqouJTUvzKNwMWsgVnBVub3dwrpl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0YcBd3wqvmAxabuKbDrF74oEAXf3VSPR7J2HFod7yoxCX2KmhsqcGfSExAkBUPA1wl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0RrtETndSR8bq8VjJxqxLGPUzFQMsCijYsGhmoFqouJTUvzKNwMWsgVnBVub3dwrpl ; https://t.me/z_arhiv/26100   ; https://t.me/rybar/57395[64] https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/22/u-sylah-oborony-rozpovily-pro-vtechu-rosijskyh-okupantiv-bilya-krynok/[65] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0s14HforG1FCE4KgbZ25ExCNSRShgmpsEVQ9CeBtwNz7MLuQhFqg2THBkmZLJoNXxl; https://t.me/astrapress/48993 ; https://t.me/osirskiy/587  [66] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0YcBd3wqvmAxabuKbDrF74oEAXf3VSPR7J2HFod7yoxCX2KmhsqcGfSExAkBUPA1wl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0RrtETndSR8bq8VjJxqxLGPUzFQMsCijYsGhmoFqouJTUvzKNwMWsgVnBVub3dwrpl ; https://twitter.com/GirkinGirkin/status/1760527818616668220/photo/1; https://t.me/osirskiy/587; https://suspilne dot media/689922-zelenskij-proponue-uradu-polsi-zustritis-na-kordoni-u-es-pogodili-13-paket-sankcij-proti-rf-729-den-vijni-onlajn/?anchor=live_1708581461&utm_source=copylink&utm_medium=ps[67] https://suspilne dot media/689922-zelenskij-proponue-uradu-polsi-zustritis-na-kordoni-u-es-pogodili-13-paket-sankcij-proti-rf-729-den-vijni-onlajn/?anchor=live_1708589427&utm_source=copylink&utm_medium=ps; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cW5cM-7x4S8&t=445s&ab_channel=%D0%A1%D1%83%D1%81%D0%BF%D1%96%D0%BB%D1%8C%D0%BD%D0%B5%D0%A3%D0%B6%D0%B3%D0%BE%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%B4  [68] https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7584 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113962  [69] https://t.me/SBUkr/11246  [70] https://t.me/dva_majors/35072 ; https://t.me/belarusian_silovik/30298  [71] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-19-2024[72] https://www.interfax dot ru/russia/947332[73] https://dz dot ru/en/clients/12[74] https://t.me/tass_agency/232909[75] https://t.me/tass_agency/232909[76] https://www.defense.gov/News/Releases/Release/Article/3683684/air-force-capability-coalition-statement-on-ukraines-future-f-16-capability/ ; https://www.fmn dot dk/da/nyheder/2024/ukraine-kan-forvente-at-modtage-de-forste-danske-f-16-kampfly-til-sommer/[77] https://t.me/PushilinDenis/4308[78] https://www.uscirf.gov/news-room/uscirf-spotlight/russias-persecution-jehovahs-witnesses ; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-april-9-2023[79] https://t.me/Pomogaem_Nashim/229[80] https://t.me/tass_agency/232940  ; https://t.me/tass_agency/232976  ; https://t.me/rusich_army/13280   [81] ; https://t.me/tass_agency/233055   ; https://t.me/tass_agency/233056   [82] https://t.me/tass_agency/233031   ; https://isw.pub/UkrWar021424 ; https://isw.pub/UkrWar021024 ; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-january-17-2024[83] https://t.me/modmilby/36301[84] https://t.me/belta_telegramm/236891 ; https://www dot belta.by/society/view/hrenin-rasskazal-ob-uchenijah-rgv-i-razvitii-sotrudnichestva-s-rossiej-v-voenno-tehnicheskoj-sfere-616985-2024/[85] https://t.me/modmilby/36300 ; https://t.me/belta_telegramm/236880 ; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62555

[Author: ISWKF]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 2/27/24 6:55pm
Andie Parry, Amin Soltani, Johanna Moore, Alexandra Braverman, Kathryn Tyson, Ahmad Omid Arman, Anne McGill, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Brian CarterInformation Cutoff: 2:00 pm EST The Iran Update provides insights into Iranian and Iranian-sponsored activities abroad that undermine regional stability and threaten US forces and interests. It also covers events and trends that affect the stability and decision-making of the Iranian regime. The Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) provides these updates regularly based on regional events. For more on developments in Iran and the region, see our interactive map of Iran and the Middle East.Note: CTP and ISW have refocused the update to cover the Israel-Hamas war. The new sections address developments in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Lebanon, and Syria, as well as noteworthy activity from Iran’s Axis of Resistance. We do not report in detail on war crimes because these activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We utterly condemn violations of the laws of armed conflict and the Geneva Conventions and crimes against humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.Click here to see CTP and ISW’s interactive map of Israeli ground operations. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report. Click here to subscribe to the Iran Update.Iranian sources told Reuters on February 21 that Iran provided hundreds of short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) to Russia in early January.[1] The three unspecified Iranian sources said that Iran provided roughly 400 SRBMs to Russia, including the Fateh-110 and the Zolfaghar. The sources said that Iran has sent at least four SRBM shipments to Russia since Iran and Russia concluded a missile sale agreement in late 2023. One Iranian official said that Iran will continue to ship missiles to Russia because Iran is ”allowed to export weapons to any country” it wishes, given the October 2023 expiration of UN missile restrictions on Iran under UNSC Resolution 2231. UNSC Resolution 2231 suspended nuclear-related UN sanctions and established sunset dates for missile and other arms-related sanctions on Iran. A Kremlin-affiliated Russian milblogger said on February 21 that Iran began missile shipments to Russia in early January, following the UN missile restrictions expiration.[2]Iran’s arms sales to Russia are part of Iran’s efforts to generate revenue to support its deteriorating economy.[3] CTP-ISW previously assessed that Iran could seek to acquire cash from Russia in return for supplying Russia with missiles.[4] The Prana Network hacker group published documents on February 4 alleging that Russia is paying Iran roughly $4.5 billion per year to import the Iranian Shahed series drones.[5]Iran’s provision of these missile systems could improve Russia’s ability to penetrate Ukrainian air defenses. Kremlin-affiliated milblogger Rybar claimed on February 21 that the acquisition of Iranian missile systems enables Russian forces to hit “remote Ukrainian targets.”[6] The Ukrainian Air Force spokesperson said on February 21 that possible Russian acquisition of the ballistic missiles is a ”serious threat for Ukraine.”[7] This Russo-Iranian military exchange is part of the deepening military and security relationship between the two states that CTP has covered extensively.[8] The expansion of these ties accelerated especially after Iran began providing military support to Russia for its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.[9]CTP-ISW assessed in September 2023 that Iran and Russia would conclude a drone and missile sale agreement after UNSC Resolution 2231’s missile restrictions expired in October 2023.[10] The expiration of UNSC Resolution 2231 in October provided an opportunity for Iran to meet Russian military needs without being violating sanctions or requiring Russia to do so. Iranian Defense Ministry and IRGC officials also showcased these SRBM and close-range ballistic missile (CRBM) variants to Russian officials in August and September 2023 in Moscow and Tehran, respectively.[11] This showcasing illustrates Iran’s efforts to conclude a sales agreement in advance of the expiration of UNSC Resolution 2231 in October. [12]The United States, United Kingdom, and Ukraine have previously warned that Iran would supply ballistic missiles to Russia to support the Russian invasion of Ukraine.[13] US officials said in November that Iran ”may be” preparing to supply short-range ballistic missiles to Russia, and the US National Security Council spokesperson said in January 2024 that Russia was attempting to acquire missiles from Iran.[14]The table below shows the specifications for some of Iranian missile systems, including the Fateh-110 and Zolfaghar: *Russia would violate its Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) obligations were it to acquire these missile systems. Iran would violate UNSCR 2231 if it had exported these systems prior to the October 18, 2023 expiration. Iran is not an MTCR member-state even though UNSCR 2231 references the MTCR’s banned Category I “complete delivery systems,” systems with a 300 or more-kilometer range and a 500 or more-kilogram payload.[19]Key: CEP: Circular error probable; SRBM: Short-range ballistic missile; CRBM: Close-range ballistic missile; MaRV: Maneuverable re-entry vehicle; INS: Inertial Navigation System; GNSS: Global Navigation Satellite System; GPS: Global Positioning System.Russian and Iraqi officials discussed deepening judicial and economic ties on February 21. Russian Ambassador to Iraq Elbrus Kutrashev has discussed security cooperation with a number of senior Iraqi political and military officials in a series of meetings since late January 2024. CTP-ISW assessed on February 20 that Russia may be setting conditions to supplant the United States as a security partner in Iraq in anticipation of the United States possibly reducing its military presence there.Iraqi Federal Integrity Commission Chairman Haider Hanoun, who is affiliated with the Badr Organization, and Russian Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for anti-corruption coordination and training on February 21.[20] The Iraqi Federal Integrity Commission is the judicial body responsible for investigating corruption cases and drafting appropriate legislation. Integrity Commission staff will participate in trainings and lectures held by the Russian Public Prosecution office under the MOU.[21] Hanoun said that the two organizations will hold workshops, meetings, and trainings over the next two years to address anti-corruption efforts, recovering stolen funds, establishing national committees, and coordinating positions in international anti-corruption bodies.[22] He added that the Federal Integrity Commission and Russian General Prosecutor’s office will hold a roundtable discussion covering technologies that combat corruption.[23]Iranian-aligned Iraqi actors have previously used Iraq’s judicial system to target political opposition. Under its current chairman, the Federal Integrity Commission weaponized legislation that barred candidates with corruption charges from running for office in Iraqi provincial elections in December 2023.[24]The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office oversees subordinate prosecutor’s offices responsible for supervising adherence to the Russian constitution and implementing laws accordingly.[25] ISW previously reported on the Kremlin‘s use of the Russian Prosecutor General‘s Office to seize and nationalize assets from Russians and to widely apply administrative law to stifle any perceived source of opposition.[26] Russian Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov is currently sanctioned by the United States Treasury Department in connection with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.[27]Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al Sudani met with the Chairman of the Russian Federation of Manufacturers and Entrepreneurs Committee and founder of the Russian oil company Lukoil Vagit Alekperov to discuss Russian development of the West Qurna and Eridu Iraqi oil fields.[28] ExxonMobile transferred its operations at West Qurna oil field to PetroChina on January 1, giving PetroChina a majority share in the oil field.[29] The West Qurna oil field is one of the largest oil fields in the world.[30]Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al Sudani separately met with the US ambassador to Iraq Alina Romanowski on February 21 to discuss the status of International Coalition forces in Iraq.[31] Sudani denied on February 6 that the Iraqi government had directly discussed bilateral negotiations with the United States since the US airstrikes on February 2.[32]US Central Command (CENTCOM) reported on February 21 that Houthi fighters fired two anti-ship ballistic missiles targeting the MV Sea Champion, which was transporting humanitarian aid to Yemen, on February 19. CENTCOM reported that one missile detonated near the ship and caused minor damage. The missile struck the US-owned, Greek-flagged MV Sea Champion while it was transporting grain to the port of Aden, which is controlled by anti-Houthi forces. The MV Sea Champion has delivered aid to Yemen 11 times in the past five years, according to CENTCOM.Key Takeaways:Iran: Iranian sources told Reuters on February 21 that Iran provided hundreds of short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) to Russia in early January. Iran’s arms sales to Russia are part of Iran’s efforts to generate revenue to support its deteriorating economy.Iran’s provision of these missile systems could improve Russia’s ability to penetrate Ukrainian air defenses.Iraq-Russia: Russian and Iraqi officials discussed deepening judicial and economic ties on February 21.Iraqi Federal Integrity Commission Chairman Haider Hanoun, who is affiliated with the Badr Organization, and Russian Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for anti-corruption coordination and training on February 21.Iranian-aligned Iraqi actors have previously used Iraq’s judicial system to target political opposition.ISW previously reported on the Kremlin‘s use of the Russian Prosecutor General‘s Office to seize and nationalize assets from Russians and to widely apply administrative law to stifle any perceived source of opposition.Yemen: US Central Command (CENTCOM) reported on February 21 that Houthi fighters fired two anti-ship ballistic missiles targeting the MV Sea Champion, which was transporting humanitarian aid to Yemen, on February 19.Gaza Strip: The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said that two brigades launched a new clearing operation in Zaytoun, southern Gaza City.Gaza StripAxis of Resistance campaign objectives:Erode the will of the Israeli political establishment and public to launch and sustain a major ground operation into the Gaza StripDegrade IDF material and morale around the Gaza Strip.The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said that two brigades launched a new clearing operation in Zaytoun, southern Gaza City.[33] The 401st and the Nahal Brigades (both assigned to the 162nd Division) conducted clearing operations targeting Palestinian militia infrastructure and fighters.[34] The 401st Brigade recently completed a similar clearing operation targeting Hamas forces in western Gaza.[35] The two brigades engaged Palestinian fighters at close range and targeted ”dozens” of Palestinian fighters with airstrikes.[36] An Israeli Army Radio correspondent said that the 162nd Division’s operation in Zaytoun captured ammunition manufacturing sites and a tunnel that connects Gaza City to the central Gaza Strip.[37] Such a tunnel may have enabled Palestinian fighters to infiltrate previously cleared areas of the northern Gaza Strip. The Israeli defense minister said that the IDF has not defeated all four Hamas battalions in the central Gaza Strip and intends to dismantle the two remaining battalions in the next phase of operations.[38] The IDF will also target the Rafah Brigade in the next phase, according to the defense minister.Palestinian militias attempted to defend against Israeli clearing operations in Zaytoun. An Israeli Army Radio correspondent said that Israeli forces sustained casualties in at least three attacks in the Zaytoun area on February 21.[39] The same correspondent noted that Israeli forces encountered significant militia ”resistance” in Zaytoun but not en route to Zaytoun.[40] Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fighters detonated four explosively-formed penetrators (EFP) targeting Israeli armor in Zaytoun.[41] Other militias targeted Israeli infantry and armor with mortars, rocket propelled grenades, and small arms in Zaytoun.[42]Israeli forces expanded clearing operations to “new areas” east and west of Khan Younis on February 21. The Givati Brigade killed “many” fighters in new areas of eastern Khan Younis over the past day.[43] ISW-CTP assesses that Israeli forces have not cleared suburban and agricultural land east of Khan Younis. The 35th Paratrooper Brigade (assigned to the 98th Division) expanded operations targeting Palestinian fighters and infrastructure to new areas west of Khan Younis on February 21.[44]Palestinian fighters conducted several attacks targeting Israeli forces operating in Khan Younis. The Popular Resistance Committees and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine—both militias aligned with Hamas in the current war—targeted an Israeli military vehicle in Khan Younis with an EFP.[45] Hamas separately targeted an Israeli tank with an EFP in al Hawuz, western Khan Younis.[46] Hamas fighters also ambushed Israeli SOF and infantry in buildings in the al Hawuz and al Amal areas with rocket-propelled grenades, thermobaric rockets and small arms.[47]The IDF uncovered and destroyed a 1 km long tunnel used by Hamas leaders in central Khan Younis.[48] Yahalom combat engineers and the 98th Division raided the tunnel to located intelligence and kill the fighters inside. The IDF destroyed the tunnel after raiding it. Hamas equipped the tunnel with several blast doors, fortifications, electricity, and water infrastructure. The IDF said that the tunnel’s defenses and infrastructure likely cost ”millions of shekels.” The IDF also published a map of Hamas’ tunnel infrastructure that it has located throughout the Gaza Strip.[49]The IDF Arabic-language spokesperson warned that all members of “the Hamas apparatus,” including Hamas police officers, are legitimate targets during IDF operations in the Gaza Strip.[50] The spokesperson stated that the IDF would not allow any type of military activity in the Gaza Strip. The UNRWA communications director stated that the Civil Police in Gaza, which is run by Hamas, had stopped providing escorts for aid convoys into the Gaza Strip after Israeli strikes killed eight officers who were accompanying the trucks.[51]Israel is preparing to attend a high-level ceasefire talks in Paris on February 23, according to Israeli media.[52] Israeli officials are reportedly waiting for progress in the ongoing talks between Hamas and Egyptian officials before confirming their participation. Hamas Political Bureau Chairman Ismail Haniyeh arrived in Cairo on February 20 to discuss a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war with Egyptian officials.[53]A journalist working with IDF-operated Israeli Army Radio claimed that Lebanese Hezbollah and ceasefire mediators are pressuring Hamas to drop some of their “high” demands in ceasefire and hostage negotiations.[54] Hezbollah is reportedly pressuring Hamas to drop its demand that Israeli release all its Palestinian prisoners, especially those who have been convicted of severe crimes.[55] Hamas Deputy Chairman in Gaza Khalil al Hayya provided Hamas‘ three priorities in negotiations in a February 19 interview with al Jazeera. These priorities were the providing relief to Gazans to enable them to return to their normal lives, ending the war, and concluding a prisoner exchange that frees 10,000 prisoners in Israeli custody.[56]PIJ and Popular Resistance Committee fighters mortared Israeli armor and infantry positions east of Jabalia in a combined operation on February 21.[57] The IDF said that mortars fired from Jabalia entered Israeli territory.[58] The 143rd Division identified the mortar launch site and conducted an airstrike minutes after the launch.[59]Recorded reports of attacks; CTP-ISW cannot independently verify impact.West BankAxis of Resistance campaign objectives:Draw IDF assets and resources toward the West Bank and fix them thereIsraeli forces clashed with Palestinian fighters at least three times in the West Bank after CTP-ISW's last data cutoff on February 20.[60] Israeli forces detained 40 wanted individuals and confiscated weapons across the West Bank on February 21.[61]This map is not an exhaustive depiction of clashes and demonstrations in the West Bank.Southern Lebanon and Golan HeightsAxis of Resistance campaign objectives:Draw IDF assets and resources toward northern Israel and fix them thereSet conditions for successive campaigns into northern IsraelLebanese Hezbollah conducted at least twelve attacks from southern Lebanon into northern Israel after CTP-ISW's last data cutoff on February 20.[62]Recorded reports of attacks; CTP-ISW cannot independently verify impact.Iran and Axis of ResistanceAxis of Resistance campaign objectives:Demonstrate the capability and willingness of Iran and the Axis of Resistance to escalate against the United States and Israel on multiple frontsSet conditions to fight a regional war on multiple frontsThe Houthis likely conducted a missile attack targeting an unspecified commercial vessel in the Red Sea on February 21. The vessel’s crew reported an explosion and flash of light approximately 40 nautical miles west of Houthi-controlled Hudaydah, Yemen.[63] The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) reported that the vessel and crew were unharmed.[64]Houthi-controlled media claimed that the United States and United Kingdom conducted three strikes on unspecified targets near Houthi-controlled al Salif on February 21.[65]Israel likely conducted drone and missile strikes targeting Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Lebanese Hezbollah-affiliated targets in Syria on February 21. These targets included multiple IRGC and Lebanese Hezbollah military headquarters and weapons storage facilities in southwest Damascus and Albu Kamal.[66] The IDF Air Force said on February 3 and 19 that it has struck many Iranian, Lebanese Hezbollah, and Syrian targets in Syria since the start of the Israel-Hamas war.[67]Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian discussed the Israel-Hamas war with senior Sri Lankan officials on February 20 and 21 in Colombo, Sri Lanka.[68] Abdollahian called for an end to the Israel-Hamas war. 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com/breaking-news/article-788054; https://euphratespost dot net/غارات-إسرائيلية-وسط-دمشق-وقوات-الأسد-ت; https://x.com/SteeleSyAA/status/1760211019727516058?s=20 ; https://x.c... https://www.syriahr dot com/en/326044/; https://t.me/damascusv011/21033 ; https://eyeofeuphrates dot com/ar/news/2024/02/21/10840 ; https://x.com/thiqanewsagency/status/1760232713699684505?s=20 ; https://npasyria dot com/181049[67] https://x.com/AvichayAdraee/status/1753865730531979294?s=20 ; https://x.com/manniefabian/status/1759593684704600324?s=20[68] https://www.tasnimnews dot com/fa/news/1402/12/01/3042494/ ; https://nournews dot ir/en/news/165525/ ; https://mfa dot ir/portal/newsview/740259

[Author: Institute for the Study of War]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 2/27/24 6:25pm
Kateryna Stepanenko, Christina Harward, Grace Mappes, Angelica Evans, George Barros, Amin Soltani, Alexandra Braverman, Brian Carter, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Frederick W. KaganFebruary 21, 2024, 8:30pm ET Click here to see ISW’s interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.Click here to see ISW’s 3D control of terrain topographic map of Ukraine. Use of a computer (not a mobile device) is strongly recommended for using this data-heavy tool.Click here to access ISW’s archive of interactive time-lapse maps of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These maps complement the static control-of-terrain map that ISW produces daily by showing a dynamic frontline. ISW will update this time-lapse map archive monthly.Note: The data cut-off for this product was 1:30pm ET on February 21. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the February 22 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.Prominent independent Russian milblogger Andrei Morozov reportedly committed suicide on February 21 after refusing the Russian military command’s orders to delete his reports about high Russian casualty rates around Avdiivka.[1] Morozov (also known under the alias Boytsovskiy Kot Murz) was a sergeant in the Russian 4th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade (2nd Luhansk People’s Republic’s [LNR] Army Corps) and an avid critic of the Russian military command and the Ministry of Defense (MoD). Morozov published a lengthy suicide note in which he stated that an unnamed Russian colonel ordered him on February 20 to remove his February 19 report that claimed that 16,000 Russian personnel died in combat during Russian offensive operations in Avdiivka.[2] The colonel reportedly threatened to cut off ammunition and military equipment supplies to Morozov’s unit if he did not delete his reports about the Russian military’s heavy losses in seizing Avdiivka and told Morozov that he would not be able to change the current situation on the battlefield and that only presidential elections could trigger some changes. Morozov claimed that the colonel was likely following orders from the Russian military command, political leadership, and Russian propagandists such as Vladimir Solovyov, who had sought to eliminate Morozov even prior to full-scale invasion. Morozov proclaimed that he tried to expose the truth about Russian battlefield realities and could no longer serve under this abusive colonel who assumed command over a “decapitated” brigade operating on a critical frontline and whose poor leadership made the situation worse for Russian forces. Morozov also implied that Russian authorities may have conspired to murder or arrest him and noted that he no longer saw the point in continuing his under-resourced fight against the incompetent Russian military bureaucracy.Morozov used his suicide note to further discuss Russian military failures in Avdiivka and Donetsk Oblast. Morozov accused Russian generals of wastefully sacrificing thousands of servicemen to advance their military careers and implied that most Russian journalists lie about battlefield realities. Morozov also observed that the Russian military command had been increasingly using mobilized personnel as barrier forces (specialized units that shoot their own forces who retreat or refuse to attack) and amplified a formal complaint from a mobilized Russian serviceman of the 1487th Regiment (a mobilized unit under the command of the 1st Donetsk People’s Republic’s [DNR] Army Corps), which the Russian military prosecutor’s office rejected in early February. The mobilized serviceman complained that the 1487th Regiment was reduced to less than 30 percent of its strength due to the regiment’s lack of reinforcements and rotations since the regiment’s deployment in mid-January 2023.[3] The serviceman added that the commander of the 1st Army Corps, nicknamed “Krym” (Crimea), transferred 300 servicemen from the 1487th Regiment to the command of the Russian “Veterany” private military company (PMC) in November 2023 – most of whom died or were injured in the Avdiivka direction. The mobilized serviceman accused the “Veterany” PMC – which is reportedly staffed with convicts, drug addicts, and looters – of using mobilized personnel as barrier troops and refraining from participating in assaults. The mobilized serviceman added that his battalion completely lacked grenade launchers, mortars, and vehicles necessary for offensive operations. The mobilized serviceman also observed that Russian military medical staff refused to treat shellshocked servicemen and sent them back to the frontlines without medical examinations and that these issues systematically plague other Russian units.The Russian information space, apart from select Russian propagandists and Kremlin-controlled milbloggers, largely mourned Morozov’s death and blamed various military and political actors for his demise. Russian propagandist Yuliya Vityazeva implied that Morozov’s suicide was the fault of his friends who failed to help him and are using his death to throw shade at the Russian MoD to profit off social media attention.[4] One Kremlin-affiliated milblogger acknowledged Morozov’s humanitarian aid contributions to the Russian military but noted that Morozov’s criticism of the Russian military command was so extremely negative that it helped Ukraine.[5] The milblogger added that it is unfortunate that Russia’s enemies and “hostile” Telegram channel networks will use the news of Morozov’s death to overshadow the Russian capture of Avdiivka. Wagner Group-affiliated milbloggers accused Solovyov and other propagandists of persecuting Morozov and mocking his death.[6] Supporters of the imprisoned Russian officer and ardent critic of the Russian military command, Igor Girkin, also condemned Morozov’s harassment and highlighted his years-long commitment to supplying Russian forces with equipment and exposing Russian military failures.[7] Several milbloggers blamed Morozov’s suicide on Russia’s inability to value and internalize different opinions in pursuit of the common goal.[8]Morozov’s reported suicide will likely further the Kremlin’s and the Russian MoD’s efforts to consolidate a monopoly over the Russian information space. Morozov was one of the few remaining independent ultranationalist milbloggers who openly criticized the Russian military command and government after the Kremlin and the Russian MoD began to consolidate control over prominent Russian milbloggers in July 2023. Morozov, for example, previously warned about severely degraded Russian forces that were around Izyum, Kharkiv Oblast, in May-June 2022 – months prior to a successful Ukrainian counteroffensive in the area in September 2022.[9] Russian officials have been increasingly targeting radical milbloggers and have arrested several milbloggers who have expressed critiques similar to Morozov’s complaints.[10] ISW observed that many Russian milbloggers have drastically suppressed their critiques against Russian military command since the failed Wagner mutiny and reported pressure against Morozov may encourage more critical milbloggers to refrain from discussing Russian military failures. The Kremlin began an effort to co-opt pliant milbloggers in November 2022.[11]A Ukrainian official denied a recent New York Times (NYT) report that Russian forces may have captured “hundreds” of Ukrainian soldiers during Ukraine’s withdrawal from Avdiivka, Donetsk Oblast.[12] Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Spokesperson Dmytro Lykhovyi acknowledged on February 21 that Russian forces did capture some Ukrainian soldiers during Ukrainian forces’ withdrawal from Avdiivka, but stated that reports about “hundreds” of Ukrainian soldiers being taken prisoner or otherwise being unaccounted for are false.[13] Lykhovyi suggested that the NYT’s February 20 report is an extension of Russian information operations aimed at demoralizing the Ukrainian military and noted that Russian propagandists would have shared footage of large numbers of Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) if Russia had actually captured that many Ukrainian soldiers. Lykhovyi noted that Russian media widely shared footage of large numbers of Ukrainian POWs after Russian forces seized Azovstal in Mariupol, Donetsk Oblast in 2022.[14] ISW recently noted that “unaccounted for” personnel include those killed, wounded, and missing in action as well as captured, and ISW has still not observed any open-source evidence of Russian forces taking large numbers of Ukrainian forces prisoner.[15] ISW will continue to monitor the information space for evidence and will adjust its assessment as more evidence becomes available.Russian Chief of the General Staff Army General Valery Gerasimov claimed that Russian forces seized Avdiivka within a “fairly short time.” The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) published footage on February 21 of Gerasimov presenting state awards to Russian servicemen who distinguished themselves during the seizure of Avdiivka and meeting with Russian Central Grouping of Forces Commander Colonel General Andrei Mordvichev to discuss plans for future Russian operations in the Avdiivka direction.[16] This video is Gerasimov’s first public appearance since December 29, 2023.[17] Gerasimov stated during his briefing with Mordvichev that Russian forces seized Avdiivka “in a fairly short time” that was preceded by a “long period of preparation.”[18] Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu similarly attempted to downplay heavy Russian losses and the difficulty of seizing of Avdiivka during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 20, portraying the seizure of Avdiivka as an astounding success with minimal losses despite the fact that the four-month-long operation resulted in an estimated 16,000 to 47,000 Russian personnel losses.[19] Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Commander Brigadier General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi stated on February 21 that Russian forces lost 212 tanks in the Tavriisk direction (Avdiivka through western Zaporizhia Oblast) between January 1 and February 20, and a significant portion of Russian tank losses in the Tavriisk direction are likely the result of the Russian operation of seize Avdiivka.[20] Russian Deputy Defense Minister Viktor Goremykin also presented state awards to members of the Russian 90th Tank Division (41st Combined Arms Army, Central Military District) for their role in the seizure of Avdiivka.[21] Putin credited elements of the 90th Tank Division with seizing Avdiivka under Mordvichev’s leadership on February 17.[22]A Ukrainian HIMARS strike against an undefended Russian training ground near occupied Volnovakha, Donetsk Oblast likely inflicted significant casualties, triggering a point of neuralgia for the Russian ultranationalist milblogger community. Ukrainian forces struck the Trudivske Training Ground east of Volnovakha on February 20, where at least three companies of the Russian 36th Motorized Rifle Brigade (29th Combined Arms Army, Eastern Military District) had been training.[23] BBC Russian Service reported that the strike killed “dozens” of Russian military personnel and may have killed up to 60 personnel, which is consistent with publicly available photos reportedly documenting the aftermath of the strike.[24] Zabaykalsky Krai Head Aleksandr Osipov, where the 36th Motorized Rifle Brigade is based, claimed that reports of over 60 dead from the strike are “exaggerated.”[25] Russian ultranationalist milbloggers reiterated their standard complaints about poor Russian decision-making following the strike, criticizing the Russian military command for concentrating Russian military personnel in a near-rear area despite suffering the consequences of previous Ukrainian strikes against Russian military concentrations within Ukrainian strike range.[26]Zaporizhia Oblast occupation governor Yevgeny Balitsky openly admitted that Russian authorities are forcibly deporting Ukrainian citizens who oppose Russia’s invasion of Ukraine or “insult” Russia and possibly alluded to Russian occupation forces’ summarily executing Ukrainian citizens. Balitsky stated in an interview published on February 20 that Russian occupation authorities “expelled a large number of families...who did not support the ‘special military operation’” or who “insulted” Russia, including the Russian flag, anthem, or [Russian President Vladimir Putin].”[27] Balitsky justified these activities, which would constitute war crimes, claiming that the forcible deportation of Ukrainian families was for their own benefit, as occupation authorities would have had to “deal” with them in an even “harsher” way in the future, or other pro-Russian citizens would have killed them. Balitsky stated that occupation authorities “gave [the deported families] the opportunity to leave” but deported some by force after “giving them a water bottle” at the border. Balitsky also stated that occupation authorities had to make some “extremely harsh decisions that [he] will not be talking about” – a possible allusion to Russian occupation forces conducting summary executions of Ukrainian citizens. ISW has extensively reported on Russia’s forced deportation of Ukrainian citizens, including children, and continues to assess that Russia is attempting to eliminate the Ukrainian language, culture, history, ethnicity, and identity, including through activities that appear to violate the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.[28] Balitsky’s statements about Russian deportations of Ukrainian citizens critical of the Russian occupation indicate that Russian deportation campaigns in part intend to Russify populations in occupied Ukraine through coercion and fear. Balitsky’s willingness to openly discuss – and even defend – Russian occupation authorities’ unlawful treatment of Ukrainian citizens in a publicized interview highlights the extent to which Russian authorities are supporting and promoting such policies.Iranian sources told Reuters on February 21 that Iran provided hundreds of short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) to Russia in early January.[29] The three unspecified Iranian sources said that Iran provided roughly 400 SRBMs to Russia, including the Fateh-110 and the Zolfaghar. The sources said that Iran has sent at least four SRBM shipments to Russia since Iran and Russia concluded a missile sale agreement in late 2023. One Iranian official said that Iran will continue to ship missiles to Russia because Iran is “allowed to export weapons to any country” it wishes, given the October 2023 expiration of UN missile restrictions on Iran under UNSC Resolution 2231. UNSC Resolution 2231 suspended nuclear-related UN sanctions and established sunset dates for missile and other arms-related sanctions on Iran. A Kremlin-affiliated Russian milblogger said on February 21 that Iran began missile shipments to Russia in early January, following the UN missile restrictions expiration.[30]Iran’s arms sales to Russia are part of Iran’s efforts to generate revenue to support its deteriorating economy.[31] CTP-ISW previously assessed that Iran could seek to acquire cash from Russia in return for supplying Russia with missiles.[32] The Prana Network hacker group published documents on February 4 alleging that Russia is paying Iran roughly $4.5 billion per year to import the Iranian Shahed series drones.[33] Iran’s provision of these missile systems could improve Russia’s ability to penetrate Ukrainian air defenses. A Kremlin-affiliated milblogger claimed on February 21 that the acquisition of Iranian missile systems enables Russian forces to hit “remote Ukrainian targets.”[34] The Ukrainian Air Force Spokesperson Colonel Yuriy Ihnat said on February 21 that possible Russian acquisition of the ballistic missiles is a “serious threat for Ukraine.”[35] This Russo-Iranian military exchange is part of the deepening military and security relationship between the two states that CTP has covered extensively.[36] The expansion of these ties accelerated especially after Iran began providing military support to Russia for its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.[37]Russian authorities detained a dual US-Russian citizen in Yekaterinburg on suspicion of raising money for the Ukrainian war effort.[38] Kremlin newswire TASS released footage of the woman in Russian custody, and the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) described the woman as a 33-year-old resident of Los Angeles, California.[39] Western media reported on February 21 that the woman’s name is Ksenia Khavana and that Russian authorities may have detained Khavana for donating $51 to a Ukrainian-American 501(c)(3) charity on February 24, 2022.[40]Key Takeaways:Prominent independent Russian milblogger Andrei Morozov reportedly committed suicide on February 21 after refusing the Russian military command’s orders to delete his reports about high Russian casualty rates around Avdiivka.A Ukrainian official denied a recent New York Times (NYT) report that Russian forces may have captured “hundreds” of Ukrainian soldiers during Ukraine’s withdrawal from Avdiivka, Donetsk Oblast.Russian Chief of the General Staff Army General Valery Gerasimov claimed that Russian forces seized Avdiivka within a “fairly short time.”A Ukrainian HIMARS strike against an undefended Russian training ground near occupied Volnovakha, Donetsk Oblast likely inflicted significant casualties, triggering a point of neuralgia for the Russian ultranationalist milblogger community.Zaporizhia Oblast occupation governor Yevgeny Balitsky openly admitted that Russian authorities are forcibly deporting Ukrainian citizens who oppose Russia’s invasion of Ukraine or “insult” Russia and possibly alluded to Russian occupation forces’ summarily executing Ukrainian citizens.Iranian sources told Reuters on February 21 that Iran provided hundreds of short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) to Russia in early January.Russian authorities detained a dual US-Russian citizen in Yekaterinburg on suspicion of raising money for the Ukrainian war effort.Russian forces made confirmed advances near Avdiivka, Donetsk City, Robotyne, and Krynky.Belarusian and Kazakh companies are reportedly helping Russia circumvent international sanctions intended to deprive the Russian defense industrial base (DIB) of Western components and machines.Russian occupation administrations continue to foster patronage networks with Russian federal subjects. We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because these activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We will continue to evaluate and report on the effects of these criminal activities on the Ukrainian military and the Ukrainian population and specifically on combat in Ukrainian urban areas. We utterly condemn Russian violations of the laws of armed conflict and the Geneva Conventions and crimes against humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.Russian Main Effort – Eastern Ukraine (comprised of two subordinate main efforts)Russian Subordinate Main Effort #1 – Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and encircle northern Donetsk OblastRussian Subordinate Main Effort #2 – Capture the entirety of Donetsk OblastRussian Supporting Effort – Southern AxisRussian Air, Missile, and Drone CampaignRussian Mobilization and Force Generation EffortsRussian Technological AdaptationsActivities in Russian-occupied areasUkrainian Defense Industrial Base EffortsRussian Information Operations and NarrativesSignificant Activity in Belarus  Russian Main Effort – Eastern Ukraine Russian Subordinate Main Effort #1 – Luhansk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and northern Donetsk Oblast)Positional fighting continued on the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line on February 21, but there were no confirmed changes to the frontline. Positional fighting continued northeast of Kupyansk near Synkivka; southeast of Kupyansk near Tabaivka; west of Kreminna near Terny and Torske; and south of Kreminna near Bilohorivka.[41] Ukrainian “Steel Border” Border Detachment Spokesperson Ivan Shevtsov stated that Russian forces on the Kupyansk-Lyman line are conducting assaults with armored vehicles, including tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and armored personnel carriers due to favorable weather conditions on the axis.[42] Shevtsov stated that there are 40,000 Russian military personnel “opposite [Ukrainian forces] in a powerful grouping of troops” but that this group is failing to advance.[43] Shevtsov did not define the specific sector of the line where Russian forces are failing to advance, however. Shevtsov’s statement is relatively consistent with other Ukrainian statements that place 40,000 Russian personnel in the Kupyansk direction and 57,000 total on the Kupyansk-Lyman line as of February 2.[44] Shevtsov is likely referring to a tactical area of the front that is geographically smaller than other frontline sectors that other Ukrainian officials have discussed. Elements of the Russian 7th Motorized Rifle Brigade and the “GORB” detachment (both of the 2nd Luhansk People's Republic [LNR] Army Corps) continue to operate near Bilohorivka.[45] Russian Subordinate Main Effort #2 – Donetsk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)Positional engagements continued near Bakhmut on February 21, but there were no confirmed changes to the frontline in this area. Positional engagements continued northeast of Bakhmut near Vyimka, northwest of Bakhmut near Bohdanivka, west of Bakhmut near Ivanivske, and southwest of Bakhmut near Klishchiivka.[46] A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces advanced towards Ivano-Darivka (northeast of Bakhmut in the Siversk direction), but ISW has not observed visual confirmation of this claim.[47] A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces are struggling to seize Ivanivske as the settlement is surrounded by hills in the north and northwest and open terrain in the east and south.[48] Ukrainian military observer Kostyantyn Mashovets stated that Russian forces are focusing their efforts on the Bohdanivka-Chasiv Yar direction along the O0506 highway and through Bohdanivka, north and northeast of Ivanivske, and around Klishchiivka to bypass the heights north and northwest of the settlement.[49] Mashovets stated that elements of the 102nd Motorized Rifle Regiment (150th Motorized Rifle Division, 8th Combined Arms Army, Southern Military District) are operating near Ivanivske; elements of the 331st and 217th airborne (VDV) regiments (98th VDV Division) are operating in the direction of Bohdanivka and north of Ivanivske; elements of the 1008th and 1194th motorized rifle regiments of the territorial troops (6th Motorized Rifle Division, 3rd Army Corps (AC), Western Military District) and the 83rd and 88th Motorized Rifle Brigades (2nd Donetsk People’s Republic [DNR] AC) are operating northwest and east of Klishchiivka and south of Andriivka; and elements of the 106th VDV Division and 123rd Motorized Rifle Brigade (2nd Luhansk People‘s Republic [LNR] AC) are operating in the direction of Rozdolivka and Vyimka and north and northeast of Soledar. Mashovets stated that Russian forces gradually redeployed elements of the 217th and 299th airborne (VDV) regiments (both of the 98th VDV Division) and elements of the 83rd Motorized Rifle Brigade (3rd AC) and 88th Motorized Rifle Brigade (2nd LNR AC) to the Bakhmut direction from the Lyman direction and that the Russian command likely considers the Bakhmut direction to be the next area of focus after. Elements of the 11th VDV Brigade are reportedly operating near Ivanivske, and elements of the 200th Naval Infantry Brigade (Northern Fleet) and the Volunteer Corps are reportedly operating near Bohdanivka.[50] Russian forces recently marginally advanced northwest of Avdiivka and have likely finished clearing operations in Avdiivka. Geolocated footage published on February 19 shows that Russian forces slightly advanced on the eastern outskirts of Lastochkyne (northwest of Avdiivka).[51] Positional battles continued northwest of Avdiivka near Stepove and Lastochkyne; west of Avdiivka near Sieverne; and southwest of Avdiivka near Pervomaiske and Nevelske.[52] One Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces are trying to build and stabilize a new line of defense in the Avdiivka direction.[53] Russian sources amplified footage purportedly showing elements of the 114th Motorized Rifle Brigade (1st Donetsk People’s Republic’s [DNR] Army Corps) at the Avdiivka Coke Plant.[54] Russian forces seized Pobieda, a small settlement immediately southwest of Donetsk City, no later than February 21.[55] Geolocated footage published on February 21 shows Russian forces raising a flag on a destroyed building in westernmost Pobieda.[56] Russian and some Ukrainian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces withdrew from Pobieda on February 20.[57] Russian sources similarly claimed that the Russian 225th Guards Motorized Rifle Regiment (20th Guards Motorized Rifle Division, 8th Combined Arms Army [CAA] Southern Military District [SMD]) seized the settlement after pushing Ukrainian forces from their positions within the settlement.[58] Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces withdrew to positions on the hills west of Pobieda and that Russian forces may decide to attack towards Kostyantynivka (a village 6km southwest of Pobieda, notably not the city southwest of Bakhmut) or towards Heorhiivka (4.5km north of Pobieda) along the N-15 highway.[59] In seizing Pobieda, Russian forces cut the O0532 highway, which runs from recently seized Marinka (immediately west of Donetsk City) via Pobieda towards Kostyantynivka, and Russian forces may attempt to advance towards Kostyantynivka along the highway. Some Russian milbloggers also claimed that the seizure of Pobieda will allow Russian forces to pursue offensive operations in the Vuhledar direction or intercept Ukrainian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) leading to Vuhledar.[60] Ukrainian officials have not commented on reports of Russian forces’ seizure of Pobieda at this time. Russian milbloggers also claimed that Russian forces advanced on the southern outskirts of Krasnohorivka (immediately west of Donetsk City), but ISW has not observed evidence supporting these claims.[61] Positional battles continued west of Donetsk City near Heorhiivka and southwest of Donetsk City near Pobieda and Novomykhailivka.[62] Elements of the Russian 155th Naval Infantry Brigade (Pacific Fleet) are continuing to operate near Novomykhailivka and elements of the 238th Artillery Brigade (8th CAA, SMD) are operating near Krasnohorivka.[63] Russian Supporting Effort – Southern Axis (Russian objective: Maintain frontline positions and secure rear areas against Ukrainian strikes)Positional fighting continued in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area on February 21, but there were no confirmed changes to the frontline in this area. Positional engagements occurred southeast of Velyka Novosilka near Prechystivka and Zolota Nyva and southwest of Velyka Novosilka near Novozlatopil.[64] A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces advanced near Novodonetske (southeast of Velyka Novosilka), but ISW has not observed visual confirmation of this claim.[65] Russian forces recently made confirmed advances in western Zaporizhia Oblast. Geolocated footage published on February 21 indicates that Russian forces advanced in western Robotyne.[66] Additional geolocated footage published on February 21 indicates that Russian forces also advanced west of Verbove (east of Robotyne).[67] A Russian milblogger, claiming to cite unspecified Ukrainian analysts, claimed that Russian forces advanced up to 2.02 kilometers wide and 650 meters in depth near Novoprokopivka (just south of Robotyne), but ISW has not observed visual confirmation of this claim.[68] Positional engagements continued near Verbove, Robotyne, and Mala Tokmachka (northeast of Robotyne and southeast of Orikhiv).[69] Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Commander Brigadier General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi stated that Russian forces in the Orikhiv direction are trying to move in small infantry groups and on high-speed all-terrain vehicles, but Russian attacks in this direction are unsuccessful.[70] Elements of the Russian 70th Motorized Rifle Regiment (42nd Motorized Rifle Division, 58th Combined Arms Army, Southern Military District) are reportedly operating near Robotyne.[71] Russian forces recently made a confirmed advance in Krynky in the east (left) bank of Kherson Oblast, as Russian milbloggers continued to deny Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s recent claim of full Russian control of the settlement. Geolocated footage published on February 20 indicates that Russian forces advanced in Krynky.[72] Russian sources largely claimed that Ukrainian forces maintain positions in Krynky and that Russian forces do not yet fully control the settlement.[73] Select Russian sources criticized Shoigu for lying to Russian President Vladimir Putin.[74] Russian Air, Missile, and Drone Campaign (Russian Objective: Target Ukrainian military and civilian infrastructure in the rear and on the frontline)Ukrainian military officials reported on February 21 that Russian forces launched an S-300 missile and four Kh-22 missiles from Rostov Oblast, a Kh-59 missile from Belgorod Oblast, and 19 Shahed-136/131 drones from occupied Crimea.[75] Ukrainian forces intercepted and destroyed the Kh-59 missiles over Poltava Oblast and destroyed 13 Shahed drones over Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhia, and Donetsk oblasts. An unspecified number of additional Shaheds did not strike their intended targets.Ukrainian Air Force Commander Lieutenant General Mykola Oleshchuk reported on February 21 that Ukrainian forces shot down another Russian Su-34 fighter aircraft.[76] Ukrainian Air Force Spokesperson Colonel Yuri Ihnat highlighted that Ukrainian forces have downed seven Russian Su-34s and Su-35s over the past five days.[77]Ihnat stated, in response to recent Ukrainian reports that Russian forces deployed 48 Iskander missile launchers on the Russian-Ukrainian border, that the more important issue is how many Iskander missiles Russian forces have and can use against Ukraine.[78] Ihnat stated that Russian forces used 1,100 Iskander missiles against Ukraine during winter 2022-2023 and that Russian forces currently have a limited supply of Iskander missiles, but are looking for new ways to source missiles from other countries.Russian Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts (Russian objective: Expand combat power without conducting general mobilization)Russian opposition outlet Verstka reported on February 21 that Belarusian and Kazakh companies are helping Russia circumvent international sanctions intended to deprive the Russian defense industrial base (DIB) of Western components and machines.[79] Verstka reported that Russian, Belarusian, and Kazakh companies have transported components produced in Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic, the US, and other European countries to support Russia’s production of missiles, drones, and other weapons for use in Ukraine. ISW continues to assess that Russia’s DIB may struggle in the near term and that Russian efforts to increase sanctions evasion through partnerships with states including China and North Korea may help compensate for existing DIB shortcomings in the medium to long term.[80]Russian Technological Adaptations (Russian objective: Introduce technological innovations to optimize systems for use in Ukraine)Russian Lancet drone manufacture and Kalashnikov Concern subsidiary ZALA Aero claimed on February 20 that Zala is developing new multifunctional optical-electric systems for drones and manned rotary-winged aircraft.[81] Zala stated that the systems will include a high-definition video camera and thermal imagers to conduct aerial reconnaissance from helicopters in difficult weather conditions and a three-axis electromagnetic gyro-stabilized platform to provide a high level of image stabilization.Ukrainian Defense Industrial Efforts (Ukrainian objective: Develop its defense industrial base to become more self-sufficient in cooperation with US, European, and international partners)Ukraine continues efforts to bolster its domestic drone production and acquisition of foreign-produced drones. Ukrainian Digital Transformation Minister Mykhailo Fedorov announced on February 21 that Ukraine’s domestic drone manufacturing capacity exceeds one million drones per year and emphasized that Ukraine must also supply adequate ammunition, distribute drone radio signals across a wider range of radio frequencies, and provide drone operators with sufficient antennas and connectors to ensure that these drones are also high quality.[82]Activities in Russian-occupied areas (Russian objective: Consolidate administrative control of annexed areas; forcibly integrate Ukrainian citizens into Russian sociocultural, economic, military, and governance systems)Russian occupation administrations continue to foster patronage networks with Russian federal subjects (regions). Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) Head Denis Pushilin stated on February 20 that the DNR administration signed a cooperation agreement with Kemerovo Oblast Head Sergei Tsivilev to develop the industrial potential of occupied Donetsk Oblast as well as business connections between occupied Donetsk Oblast and Kemerovo Oblast.[83]Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada Human Rights Commissioner Dmytro Lyubinets announced on February 21 that 11 Ukrainian children whom Russian authorities forcibly deported to Russia have returned to Ukraine.[84] Lyubinets credited UNICEF, the Ukrainian Border Service, Ukrainian authorities, and Qatar with facilitating the children’s return.[85]Russian Information Operations and NarrativesRussian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated Russia’s maximalist objectives in Ukraine and continued to blame the West and Ukraine for the continuation of the war. Lavrov claimed in an interview with Brazilian newspaper O Globo published on February 21 before his trip to Brazil for the G20 summit that Ukraine and the West are not interested in resolving the war in Ukraine, so Russia has “no choice” but to continue the war until securing its objectives – which Lavrov reiterated include Ukraine’s “demilitarization,” “denazification,” and neutrality.[86] ISW continues to assess that Russia’s maximalist objectives in Ukraine are tantamount to Ukrainian and Western full capitulation.[87]Kremlin mouthpieces continue to set information conditions aimed at justifying possible future Russian aggression in Moldova. A Kremlin-affiliated milblogger claimed that Ukrainian officials are trying to open a Ukrainian consulate in Transnistria in order to organize provocations in the Russian-occupied breakaway region and that the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) has repeatedly attempted to conduct unspecified provocations.[88]Russian officials are accusing the West of using government-affiliated organizations to conduct intelligence operations like Russia does abroad. The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) claimed that organizations connected to the British government are gathering intelligence in occupied Ukraine.[89] Moldovan and Ukrainian officials have previously warned that Russian officials use Russian cultural centers (Russia house - Russkii dom) to promote Russian propaganda and conduct “subversive work” abroad.[90]Significant activity in Belarus (Russian efforts to increase its military presence in Belarus and further integrate Belarus into Russian-favorable frameworks and Wagner Group activity in Belarus)Ukraine-based open-source organization Frontelligence Insight reported on February 21 that Russian forces’ presence in Belarus is limited, with the exception of a small number of former Wagner Group personnel focused on training the Belarusian Internal Forces.[91] Frontelligence Insight stated that it does not expect the conventional Russian force grouping in Belarus to increase in size in the near future and assessed that a second attempt by Russian forces to attack Kyiv from the north is currently unlikely, which is in line with ISW's current assessment of the threat. Frontelligence reported that Russia maintains two S-400 battalions, augmented with several Pantsir-S1 units, at the Prybytki and Velikii Bokov air bases in southern Belarus.[92]Note: ISW does not receive any classified material from any source, uses only publicly available information, and draws extensively on Russian, Ukrainian, and Western reporting and social media as well as commercially available satellite imagery and other geospatial data as the basis for these reports. References to all sources used are provided in the endnotes of each update. [1] https://t.me/wehearfromyanina/3495 ; https://t.me/wehearfromyanina/349... ; https://t.me/wehearfromyanina/3498[2] https://t.me/wehearfromyanina/3471; https://t.me/wehearfromyanina/3470[3] https://t.me/wehearfromyanina/3497[4] https://t.me/ButusovPlus/8250 ; https://t.me/grey_zone/22048 ; https...[5] https://t.me/rybar/57372[6] https://t.me/Topaz_Penetrator/9335 ; https://t.me/grey_zone/22046[7] https://t.me/i_strelkov_2023/954; https://t.me/i_strelkov_2023/955 ; https://t.me/RDS_Official_channel/648 ; https://t.me/soldat_prav/3207; https://t.me/soldat_prav/3213 ; https:...[8] https://t.me/dva_majors/35015; https://t.me/aeternahistoria/1975 ; ht...[9] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign...[10] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign...[11] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign...[12] ttps://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/02/21/v-zsu-sprostuvaly-informacziyu-the-new-york-times-pro-sotni-polonenyh-v-avdiyivczi/; https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/20/us/politics/ukraine-prisoners-avdiivk... https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign...[13] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/02/21/v-zsu-sprostuvaly-informacziyu-the-new-york-times-pro-sotni-polonenyh-v-avdiyivczi/[14] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/02/21/v-zsu-sprostuvaly-informacziyu-the-new-york-times-pro-sotni-polonenyh-v-avdiyivczi/[15] https://armyinform.com dot 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; https://t.me/bbcrussian/60974; ****GRAPHIC*** https://x.com/bayraktar_1love/status/1760044262018691168?s=20; https://twitter.com/bayraktar_1love/status/1760044798780563876; https://twitter.com/bayraktar_1love/status/1760066718544625694; https://twitter.com/bayraktar_1love/status/1760066802715906428; https://twitter.com/bayraktar_1love/status/1760070711278723170; https://twitter.com/bayraktar_1love/status/1760072013274648664; https://twitter.com/bayraktar_1love/status/1760302795322798242; https:/... https://twitter.com/GloOouD/status/1760075278515044490[25] https://t.me/astrapress/48963 ; https://t.me/astrapress/48902 ; https://t.me/dosye_shpiona/492[26] https://t.me/rybar/57363; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62476; https://t.me/RSaponkov/7233 ; https://t.me/grey_zone/22043; https://t.me/milinfolive/116728; https://t.me/voin_dv/7134; https://t.... https://t.me/Z13_Separ/25506 ; https://t.me/Z13_Separ/25505[27] https://t.me/BalitskyEV/2658; https://twitter.com/NatalkaKyiv/status/17...[28] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/kremlins-occupation-playbo... https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign...[29] https://www.reuters.com/world/iran-sends-russia-hundreds-ballistic-missi...[30] https://t.me/rybar/57388[31] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-june-21-2023[32] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-june-21-2023[33] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-ass...[34] https://t.me/rybar/57388[35] https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/21/yurij-ignat-prokomentuvav-informacziyu-pro-peredachu-iranom-400-balistychnyh-raket-rosiyi/[36] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-september-27-2023 ; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/iran-update-september-5-2023 ...[37] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/iran-update-september-5-2023[38] https://www.wsj.com/world/russia/russia-detains-dual-u-s-russian-citizen...[39] https://tass dot ru/proisshestviya/20031897 ; https://www.kommersant dot ru/doc/6524602 ; https://www.wsj.com/world/russia/russia-detains-dual-u-s-russian-citizen...[40] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2024/feb/20/russia-arrests-us-dual-nat... ; https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/20/world/europe/russia-arrest-us-citizen...[41] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0jUSDDYRJPL86UtveCvV... https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02Nz1VCRDSkj1fALszMy...[42] https://suspilne dot media/689274-na-limano-kupanskomu-napramku-znisili-majze-370-okupantiv-za-dobu-ta-ponad-150-odinic-tehniki-stalevij-kordon/[43] https://suspilne dot media/689274-na-limano-kupanskomu-napramku-znisili-majze-370-okupantiv-za-dobu-ta-ponad-150-odinic-tehniki-stalevij-kordon/[44] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign...[45] https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113839; https://t.me/sons_fatherland/12810[46] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0jUSDDYRJPL86UtveCvV... https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02Nz1VCRDSkj1fALszMy... https://t.me/wargonzo/18319[47] https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62502[48] https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7556[49] https://www.facebook.com/pashtetof/posts/pfbid0o94r6uFQ5cfmkViz9y3LjLE4i...[50] https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62502[51] https://t.me/BUAR110ombr/261; https://t.me/WarArchive_ua/11294[52] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0jUSDDYRJPL86UtveCvV...[53] https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/54164[54] https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113892; https://t.me/FilatovCorr[55] https://t.me/ZParaBellumMD/5632; https://t.me/creamy_caprice/4481; htt... https://t.me/smotri_z/26180[56] https://t.me/creamy_caprice/4481 ; https://x.com/vosintt/status/176023...[57] https://t.me/negumanitarnaya_pomosch_Z/15037; https://t.me/dva_majors/34970 ; https://t.me/zvizdecmanhustu/1643[58] ttps://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7566; https://t.me/z_arhiv/26098; https://t.me/rybar/57381 ; https://t.me/d...[59] https://t.me/rybar/57384[60] https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/54164; https://t.me/smotri_z/26180[61] https://t.me/rybar/57384[62] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02Nz1VCRDSkj1fALszMy...[63] https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62465; https://t.me/voin_dv/7143; https://t.me/...(Novomykhailivka); https://t.me/nm_dnr/11785; https://twitter.com/franfran2424/status/1760...(Krasnohorivka)[64] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02Nz1VCRDSkj1fALszMy...[65] https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62502[66] https://t.me/skyhuntersuav/195; https://t.me/kiber_boroshno/6835[67] https://t.me/fakhivtsi/140; https://twitter.com/moklasen/status/1760356...[68] https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62502[69] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0jUSDDYRJPL86UtveCvV... https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02Nz1VCRDSkj1fALszMy...[70] https://t.me/otarnavskiy/524[71] https://t.me/dva_majors/34971[72] https://twitter.com/MilitarySummary/status/1760029593673851061; https:/... https://x.com/GirkinGirkin/status/1760021189781541121?s=20; https://twitter.com/doppelot/status/1760219666125885732; https://twitter.com/666_mancer/status/1760213328469639284; https://t.me/argus38/92 ; https://t.me/Dead_heads/1216 ; https://t.me/grey_zone/22039 ; https:...[73] https://t.me/belarusian_silovik/30406 ; https://t.me/rybar/57348 ; h...[74] https://t.me/grey_zone/22040 ; https://t.me/romanov_92/44369 ; https... https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/54187[75] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0Mwj6o197Zkg7P2pAkbi... ; https://t.me/kpszsu/10913 ; https://t.me/zoda_gov_ua/26482[76] https://suspilne dot media/689116-zsu-zbili-se-odin-rosijskij-su-34/; https://t.me/MykolaOleshchuk/200; https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/21/zsu-znyshhyly-shhe-odyn-rosijskyj-vynyshhuvach-su-34/ ; https://t.me/kpszsu/10914[77] https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/21/yurij-ignat-vidreaguvav-na-znyshhennya-7-rosijskyh-litakiv-za-5-dniv-zhartom-pro-putina/[78] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/02/21/yurij-ignat-pro-iskandery-bilya-kordonu-pytannya-v-kilkosti-raket-u-rf-a-ne-puskovyh-ustanovkah/[79] https://verstka dot media/kak-kazahi-s-belarusami-naladili-postavki-oborudovanija-dlya-voennoy-mashiny-kremlia-v-obhod-sankciy?tg_rhash=86cf5f61f61288[80] https://isw.pub/UkrWar021124 ; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgr...[81] https://t.me/ZalaAero/170[82] https://armyinform dot 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[Author: Institute for the Study of War]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 2/27/24 5:54pm
Andie Parry, Amin Soltani, Peter Mills, Alexandra Braverman, Kathryn Tyson, and Brian CarterInformation Cutoff: 2:00 pm ET The Iran Update provides insights into Iranian and Iranian-sponsored activities abroad that undermine regional stability and threaten US forces and interests. It also covers events and trends that affect the stability and decision-making of the Iranian regime. The Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) provides these updates regularly based on regional events. For more on developments in Iran and the region, see our interactive map of Iran and the Middle East.Note: CTP and ISW have refocused the update to cover the Israel-Hamas war. The new sections address developments in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Lebanon, and Syria, as well as noteworthy activity from Iran’s Axis of Resistance. We do not report in detail on war crimes because these activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We utterly condemn violations of the laws of armed conflict and the Geneva Conventions and crimes against humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports. Click here to see CTP and ISW’s interactive map of Israeli ground operations. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report. Click here to subscribe to the Iran Update.Two Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)-affiliated sources told the New York Times that Iranian-backed Iraqi militias “fiercely resisted” IRGC Quds Force commander Esmail Ghaani’s orders in late January to halt attacks targeting US forces in the region.[1] The two IRGC-affiliated sources claimed that Kataib Hezbollah and Harakat Hezbollah al Nujaba commanders refused to stop attacking US forces during a meeting with Ghaani in Baghdad, which Reuters reported occurred on January 29.[2] Iranian and Iraqi sources added that senior Iraqi Shia clerics in Najaf and influential Iraqi politicians, including the Iraqi prime minister, convinced Kataib Hezbollah and Harakat Hezbollah al Nujaba to halt the attacks.The timeline of events indicates that Ghaani was instrumental in convincing Kataib Hezbollah to pause attacks, not Iraqi leaders. Kataib Hezbollah responded to Iranian directives from Ghaani by announcing that it would “suspend attacks” on January 30—roughly 24 hours after the meeting with Ghaani on January 29. Reuters reported that Ghaani directed Iranian-backed Iraqi groups to “pause” attacks on US forces during the January 29 meeting. A senior Iranian-backed Iraqi militia commander told Reuters that Ghaani’s influence was essential in convincing Kataib Hezbollah to pause attacks. Reuters added that one group, presumably Harakat Hezbollah al Nujaba, did not “initially agree” to Ghaani’s directive.[3] Harakat Hezbollah al Nujaba said on February 2 that it would continue attacks targeting US forces.[4] The Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed three attacks targeting US forces after Ghaani’s visit.[5]Iraqi Shia clerics in Najaf may also lack the influence to convince Kataib Hezbollah to cease attacks. Kataib Hezbollah and Harakat Hezbollah al Nujaba are loyal to the Iranian supreme leader, not Iraqi Shia clerics in Najaf.[6] It is not clear why Kataib Hezbollah and Harakat Hezbollah al Nujaba would follow orders from Iraqi Shia clerics over Ghaani, who speaks for the Iranian supreme leader.[7]Ghaani’s visit to Baghdad illustrates both the extent of and limits to Iran’s control of its proxy network in the Middle East. Most of Iran’s proxies and partners in Iraq immediately ceased attacks following Ghaani’s directive, though it is possible additional pressure from the Iraqi government further reinforced Ghaani’s orders. Harakat Hezbollah al Nujaba initially did not agree to stop attacks, but Iranian-backed Iraqi groups have not resumed attacks targeting US forces since February 4. The Iraqi prime minister has ample reason to attempt to stop Iranian-backed attacks against US forces to avoid additional US airstrikes targeting Iranian-backed groups in Iraq. The attacks—and the ensuing US airstrikes—undermine the prime minister’s ability to retain even a small international coalition presence to support Iraqi forces against ISIS.[8] Ghaani and Iran can pressure their partners and proxies to pause or resume these attacks as needed, however. Ghaani represents the Iranian supreme leader, to whom groups like Kataib Hezbollah and Harakat Hezbollah al Nujaba proclaim loyalty, meaning that many Iranian-backed groups will respond as Ghaani directs.[9]Key Takeaways:Iraq: Two Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)-affiliated sources told the New York Times that Iranian-backed Iraqi militias “fiercely resisted” IRGC Quds Force commander Esmail Ghaani’s orders in late January to halt attacks targeting US forces in the region.The timeline of events indicates that Ghaani—not Iraqi leaders—was instrumental in convincing Kataib Hezbollah to pause attacks. Kataib Hezbollah responded to Iranian directives from Ghaani by announcing that it would “suspend attacks” on January 30—roughly 24 hours after the meeting with Ghaani on January 29.Iraqi Shia clerics in Najaf may also lack the influence to convince Kataib Hezbollah to cease attacks. Kataib Hezbollah and Harakat Hezbollah al Nujaba are loyal to the Iranian supreme leader, not Iraqi Shia clerics in Najaf.Ghaani’s visit to Baghdad illustrates both the extent of and limits to Iran’s control of its proxy network in the Middle East. Most of Iran’s proxies and partners in Iraq immediately ceased attacks following Ghaani’s directive, though it is possible additional pressure from the Iraqi government further reinforced Ghaani’s orders.Gaza City: The IDF 162nd Division continued its clearing operation in Zaytoun neighborhood, southeastern Gaza City, on February 27. Palestinian militias claimed at least 16 attacks targeting Israeli forces in Zaytoun, southeastern Gaza City on February 27.Iran and Yemen: The United States and the United Kingdom sanctioned Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force and Houthi members on February 27.Gaza StripAxis of Resistance campaign objectives:Erode the will of the Israeli political establishment and public to launch and sustain a major ground operation into the Gaza StripDegrade IDF material and morale around the Gaza Strip.The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is building a “well-controlled IDF highway” south of Zaytoun to enable “at least another year” of operations in the Gaza Strip.[10] CTP-ISW previously reported the IDF’s east-to-west road construction on February 19.[11] The IDF has not officially commented on the construction, but two journalists embedded with Israel forces operating in Gaza have published accounts of the construction project.[12] A correspondent from Israel Army Radio, a media organization run by the IDF, said Israeli forces are also building three forward operating bases near the east-west road for future raids and operations in the Gaza Strip.[13]The IDF 162nd Division continued its clearing operation in Zaytoun neighborhood, southeastern Gaza City, on February 27.[14] The 932nd Battalion (assigned to the Nahal Brigade) has operated in Zaytoun for a week to “destroy the enemy" in the area.[15] The battalion has raided Hamas buildings, weapons warehouses and observation posts to find intelligence on Hamas operations. The IDF Nahal Brigade (assigned to the 162nd Division) killed a Palestinian militia squad with tank fire and destroyed Hamas buildings as part of the division-sized clearing operation.[16] The 401st Brigade (assigned to the 162nd Division) killed Palestinian fighters at close range, directed airstrikes targeting Palestinian fighters, and uncovered a weapons factory in Zaytoun.[17]Palestinian militias claimed at least 16 attacks targeting Israeli forces in Zaytoun, southeastern Gaza City on February 27.[18] The groups used rocket propelled grenades, mortars, explosively-formed penetrators (EFPs), improvised explosive devices, and small arms in their attacks.[19] Palestinian Islamic Jihad engineers targeted Israeli infantry by detonating a missile from an F16 that they had rigged as an improvised explosive device in a house near al Dawla roundabout in Zaytoun.[20] The high number of attacks and the use of more sophisticated capabilities — such as EFPs — is inconsistent with an Israeli Army Radio journalist‘s characterization of the fighting on January 27 as “relatively [small in] scale.”[21] Palestinian militias conducted over triple the number of attacks on Israeli forces in southern Gaza City as they did in Khan Younis Governorate on February 27.The IDF has continued to conduct clearing operations in western Khan Younis. The IDF 7th Brigade and 35th Paratrooper Brigade detained Palestinian fighters who tried to hide among evacuating civilians to escape Khan Younis.[22] The 7th Brigade detained Palestinian fighters attempting a similar escape on February 25.[23] The IDF Maglan and Egoz special operations forces continued clearing operations in western Khan Younis over the last week.[24] The special operations forces raided a Hamas compound and seized a large amount of weapons in western Khan Younis on February 27.[25] The special operations forces have killed and detained dozens of fighters per day for the last week.[26] Palestinian militias conducted at least five attacks on Israeli forces operating in central and western Khan Younis on February 27.[27]The IDF Givati Brigade (assigned to the 162nd Division) conducted clearing operations in the Gaza Strip along the Israel-Gaza border in eastern Khan Younis Governorate.[28] PIJ claimed mortar attacks targeting Israeli forces operating in the border area in Abasan al Kabira.[29]PIJ fired a rocket barrage from the Gaza Strip targeting Ashkelon on February 27.[30] The rocket barrage caused damage to civilian infrastructure. [31]The IDF Gaza Division and Southern Command directed airstrikes targeting a Palestinian militia command center in the central Gaza Strip that Palestinian fighters used to direct rocket fire into Israel on February 26.[32] PIJ and the Palestinian Mujahideen Movement both conducted rocket attacks on February 26.[33]West BankAxis of Resistance campaign objectives:Draw IDF assets and resources toward the West Bank and fix them thereIsraeli forces clashed with Palestinian fighters at least three times in the West Bank on February 27.[34] Israeli forces killed a senior member in Palestinian Islamic Jihad‘s Tubas Battalion south of Tubas on February 27.[35]This map is not an exhaustive depiction of clashes and demonstrations in the West Bank.Southern Lebanon and Golan HeightsAxis of Resistance campaign objectives:Draw IDF assets and resources toward northern Israel and fix them thereSet conditions for successive campaigns into northern IsraelIranian-backed militias, including Lebanese Hezbollah, conducted at least ten attacks from southern Lebanon into northern Israel since CTP-ISW's last data cutoff on February 26.[36] Lebanese Hezbollah launched approximately 35 rockets targeting an IDF base on Mount Meron that hosts air traffic control, radar, surveillance, communications, and jamming facilities.[37] The IDF said that the attacks did not cause any casualties or damage to the area.[38]IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi said that Lebanese Hezbollah will "pay a very high price" for its continued attacks targeting northern Israel during a speech at the IDF 146th Division headquarters on February 27.[39] Lebanese Hezbollah said that it fired dozens of rockets targeting the headquarters on the same day.[40]Recorded reports of attacks; CTP-ISW cannot independently verify impact.Iran and Axis of ResistanceAxis of Resistance campaign objectives:Demonstrate the capability and willingness of Iran and the Axis of Resistance to escalate against the United States and Israel on multiple frontsSet conditions to fight a regional war on multiple frontsThe United States and the United Kingdom sanctioned Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force and Houthi members on February 27.[41] The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the United Kingdom designated the following individuals and organizations:IRGC Quds Force Deputy Commander Mohammad Reza Falahzadeh for generating revenue to fund Houthi operationsHouthi member Ibrahim al NashiriA Hong Kong-based shipping company that was responsible for facilitating the transport of Iranian commodities sold in China by the Said Jamal network. Said Jamal is a Houthi and IRGC Quds Force financial facilitator sanctioned by the United States on January 12.[42]Falahzadeh has played a key role in supporting and financing Houthi, Hamas, and Hezbollah operations.[43] OFAC stated that the IRGC Quds Force and the Houthis sell Iranian commodities to foreign buyers to generate funds to support the Houthis. The US State Department designated the Houthis as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist Group in January 2024.[44] The US State Department designated the entire IRGC–including the Quds Force–as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in April 2019.[45]US CENTCOM stated that it destroyed three surface naval attack drones and two mobile anti-ship cruise missiles in Houthi-controlled Yemeni territory on February 26 that were ready-to-launch in Houthi-controlled Yemen.[46] Houthi-affiliated media outlets reported on February 26 that the United States conducted airstrikes targeting Houthi positions north of Hudaydah.[47] [1] https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/27/world/middleeast/us-iran-militias.html[2] https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/iraqi-armed-groups-dial-down-us-attacks-request-iran-commander-2024-02-18/[3] https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/iraqi-armed-groups-dial-down-us-attacks-request-iran-commander-2024-02-18/[4] https://twitter.com/Akram_Alkabee/status/1753337265772736687[5] https://t.me/ElamAlmoqawama/954; https://t.me/ElamAlmoqawama/952; https://t.me/ElamAlmoqawama/950[6] https://cisac.fsi.stanford.edu/mappingmilitants/profiles/kataib-hezbollah; https://www.chathamhouse.org/2021/02/networks-power/03-pmf-set-networks; https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/profile-harakat-hezbollah-al-nujaba[7] https://ctc.westpoint.edu/iraqs-new-regime-change-how-tehran-backed-terrorist-organizations-and-militias-captured-the-iraqi-state/;[8] https://www.politico.com/news/2024/01/09/iraq-us-troops-removal-00134564[9] https://ctc.westpoint.edu/iraqs-new-regime-change-how-tehran-backed-terrorist-organizations-and-militias-captured-the-iraqi-state/; https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/profile-harakat-hezbollah-al-nujaba ; https://cisac.fsi.stanford.edu/mappingmilitants/profiles/kataib-hezbollah; https://www.chathamhouse.org/2021/02/networks-power/03-pmf-set-networks[10] https://twitter.com/Doron_Kadosh/status/1762434310831796618 ; https://twitter.com/Doron_Kadosh/status/1762434462996987975[11] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/iran-update-february-19-2024[12] https://twitter.com/Doron_Kadosh/status/1762434310831796618;https://special dot now14.co.il/article/כאן-כדי-להישאר-המבצע-ההנדסי-הגדול-של-צה/[13] https://twitter.com/Doron_Kadosh/status/1762434462996987975[14] https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1762383361568338328               https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1762383386658652640               https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1762383397425401948[15] www dot idf.il/182857[16] https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1762383394602631622[17] https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1762383361568338328               https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1762383386658652640               https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1762383397425401948[18] https://t.me/sarayaps/17499 ; https://t.me/sarayaps/17497 ; https://t.me/elaqsa_1965/5852 ;https://t.me/mojahdeenpal/4255 ;https://t.me/darebmojahden/4468 ;https://t.me/hamza20300/218379 ;https://t.me/qassam1brigades/1678 ;https://t.me/qassam1brigades/1679 ;https://t.me/qassam1brigades/1680 ;https://t.me/qassam1brigades/1681 ;https://t.me/qassam1brigades/1683 ;https://t.me/abualiajel/141 ;https://t.me/elaqsa_1965/5846 ;https://t.me/elaqsa_1965/5850 ;https://t.me/sarayaps/17495 ;https://t.me/sarayaps/17496 ;https://t.me/kataeb_moqawma/4148 ;[19] https://t.me/sarayaps/17497 ; https://t.me/sarayaps/17499 ; https://t.me/qassam1brigades/1679 ; https://t.me/sarayaps/17496 ; https://t.me/elaqsa_1965/5846[20] https://t.me/sarayaps/17497[21] https://twitter.com/Doron_Kadosh/status/1762434503883030670[22] https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1762383400906707120[23] https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1761643863280591242; https://twitter.com/AvichayAdraee/status/1761710509437460881[24] www dot idf.il/182892[25] www dot idf.il/182892[26] www dot idf.il/182892; https://twitter.com/AvichayAdraee/status/1762525863818494316[27] https://t.me/sarayaps/17498 ; https://t.me/qassam1brigades/1683 ; https://t.me/abualiajel/140 ; https://t.me/abualiajel/139 ; https://t.me/elaqsa_1965/5851[28] https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1762383402693534040[29] https://t.me/sarayaps/17498[30] https://t.me/sarayaps/17500; https://t.me/sarayaps/17501[31] https://twitter.com/manniefabian/status/1762560201247412385[32] https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1762383399178707361 ; https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1762383397425401948[33] https://t.me/sarayaps/17485; https://t.me/mojahdeenpal/4252[34] https://t.me/elaqsa_1965/5843; https://t.me/elaqsa_1965/5844; https://t.me/kataebaqsapalestine/3021; https://t.me/kataebaqsapalestine/3022; https://t.me/kataebaqsapalestine/3023[35] https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1762432125104517426; https://twitter.com/JoeTruzman/status/1762311859275960747[36] https://t.me/mmirleb/2290; https://t.me/mmirleb/2292; https://t.me/mmirleb/2296; https://t.me/mmirleb/2297; https://t.me/mmirleb/2299; https://t.me/mmirleb/2301; https://t.me/mmirleb/2303; https://twitter.com/manniefabian/status/1762495058425819611; https://twitter.com/manniefabian/status/1762504759603315155; https://t.me/mmirleb/2307[37] https://t.me/mmirleb/2296; https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-february-8-2024[38] https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1762413609982771598; https://twitter.com/AvichayAdraee/status/1762424690574791033; https://twitter.com/manniefabian/status/1762561205091151912[39] https://twitter.com/manniefabian/status/1762537445126520872[40] https://t.me/mmirleb/2307[41] https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy2125[42] https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy2022[43] https://www.unitedagainstnucleariran.com/mohammad-reza-fallahzadeh-deputy-commander-of-irgcs-quds-force[44] https://www.state.gov/terrorist-designation-of-the-houthis/[45] https://www.state.gov/reports/country-reports-on-terrorism-2019/iran/[46] https://www.centcom.mil/MEDIA/PRESS-RELEASES/Press-Release-View/Article/3687554/feb-26-red-sea-update/ [47] https://twitter.com/Nasr_Amer1/status/1762127261929541708?s=20 ; saba dot ye/ar/news3308181 dot htm

[Author: Institute for the Study of War]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 2/27/24 12:51am
Ashka Jhaveri, Johanna Moore, Amin Soltani, Kathryn Tyson, and Brian CarterInformation Cutoff: 2:00 pm EST The Iran Update provides insights into Iranian and Iranian-sponsored activities abroad that undermine regional stability and threaten US forces and interests. It also covers events and trends that affect the stability and decision-making of the Iranian regime. The Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) provides these updates regularly based on regional events. For more on developments in Iran and the region, see our interactive map of Iran and the Middle East. Note: CTP and ISW have refocused the update to cover the Israel-Hamas war. The new sections address developments in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Lebanon, and Syria, as well as noteworthy activity from Iran’s Axis of Resistance. We do not report in detail on war crimes because these activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We utterly condemn violations of the laws of armed conflict and the Geneva Conventions and crimes against humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.Click here to see CTP and ISW’s interactive map of Israeli ground operations. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.The Houthis claimed that Saudi Arabia and the United States conducted combined airstrikes in Houthi-controlled territory on February 23, likely to pressure Saudi Arabia to exert its influence on the United States to decrease US strikes targeting Houthi military assets.[1] A Houthi-controlled media outlet claimed that the alleged US-Saudi strikes hit unspecified targets in Amran, Marib, Saada, Hajjah, Taiz, Dhamar, Sanaa, Bayda, and Hudaydah provinces. The Houthi outlet also claimed that the strikes resulted in civilian casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure. A Saudi strike on Houthi-controlled territory would constitute a violation of the Yemeni ceasefire that went into effect in April 2022.[2] Saudi Arabia seeks to maintain its truce with the Houthis and has discouraged US attacks against the Houthis during the current escalation in the Red Sea.[3] CTP-ISW has not recorded any indications that Saudi Arabia conducted an airstrike into Houthi-controlled territory on February 23. Saudi Arabia, the Yemeni government, and the Houthis have maintained the ceasefire past its official expiration in October 2022.[4]The Houthis are "fortifying” missile launch sites according to individuals “with knowledge of the situation” cited by Bloomberg on February 22, which will enable the Houthis to continue offensive attacks on military and civilian vessels in the Red Sea.[5] The sources claimed the Houthis are “fortifying” missile launch positions in the mountains and increasing one-way surface naval attack drone and one-way subsurface naval attack drone tests. This is consistent with CTP-ISW's assessment on February 22 that Iran and the Houthis are likely using their attacks in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden to test and refine their approach to striking naval targets.[6] Houthi attacks provide Iran and the Houthis opportunities to evaluate the effectiveness of different strike packages to understand how they can evade and overwhelm US air and maritime defenses more effectively. The Houthi effort to better defend its launch sites enables to Houthis to continue offensive operations—namely, cruise and ballistic missile fire—that test US defense capabilities.US Central Command (CENTCOM) conducted six preemptive strikes targeting Houthi one-way attack drones and mobile anti-ship ballistic missiles and intercepted three one-way attack drones since CTP-ISW's last data cut-off on February 22.[7] CENTCOM stated that it intercepted two mobile anti-ship cruise missiles and conducted four preemptive strikes targeting “Iranian-backed Houthi [drones]” on February 22. CENTCOM intercepted three one-way attack drones operating near commercial vessels in the Red Sea on February 23.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed a post-war plan for the Gaza Strip.[8] The proposal is the first time Netanyahu has presented a written position on his post-war plans. A senior aid to Netanyahu said the goal of the plan was to present principles that would get the “broadest consensus possible.”[9] Israeli media reported that Israel will continue its military operations in the Gaza Strip with the aim of destroying the military capabilities and governance infrastructure of Hamas and PIJ, securing the return of hostages, and preventing further threats from the Gaza Strip.[10]The proposal covers long-term plans related to security, governance, and reconstruction. The IDF will maintain “operational freedom” in the Gaza Strip and establish a buffer zone along the Israeli border under the proposal.[11] Israel will also control the Gaza-Egypt border and monitor demilitarization efforts in the Gaza Strip. Unspecified "local elements with management experience" will be responsible for civilian management and public order in the strip.[12] Axios reported that the plan does not rule out a role for the Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip, although it does not specifically mention the PA either.[13] Lastly, the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip will only be possible after the completion of the demilitarization process and the beginning of a “de-radicalization process.”[14]Key Takeaways:Yemen: The Houthis claimed that Saudi Arabia and the United States conducted combined airstrikes in Houthi-controlled territory on February 23, likely to pressure Saudi Arabia to exert its influence on the United States to decrease US strikes targeting Houthi military assets.Northern Gaza Strip: Palestinian militias continued to disrupt Israeli operations in Zaytoun neighborhood, southeastern Gaza City.Southern Gaza Strip: Israeli forces continued to conduct clearing operations in western Khan Younis.Political Negotiations: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed a post-war plan for the Gaza Strip.Hamas Political Bureau Chairman Ismail Haniyeh completed a three-day trip to Cairo to discuss a hostage deal.Iran: US National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby said on February 23 that the United States has not yet confirmed that Iran transferred ballistic missiles to Russia.The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated two Iranian and Iran-linked entities on February 23 for facilitating the transfer of Iranian drones to RussiaGaza StripAxis of Resistance campaign objectives:Erode the will of the Israeli political establishment and public to launch and sustain a major ground operation into the Gaza StripDegrade IDF material and morale around the Gaza Strip.Palestinian militias continued to disrupt Israeli operations in Zaytoun neighborhood, southeastern Gaza City on February 23. Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) fighters ambushed Israeli armor in Zaytoun using unspecified munitions.[15] Hamas published footage on February 23 that shows its fighters firing mortars and rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) targeting Israeli forces in Zaytoun.[16] Several other Hamas-aligned militias clashed with Israeli forces in Zaytoun.[17] [18] Israeli forces located weapons and military equipment in the area.The IDF Nahal Brigade (assigned to the 162nd Division) killed several Palestinian fighters in the central Gaza Strip on February 23.[19] PIJ fighters mortared Israeli forces east of the central Gaza Strip.[20]Israeli forces continued to conduct clearing operations in western Khan Younis on February 23. The 89th Commando Brigade (assigned to the 98th Division) continued to direct airstrikes, ambush Palestinian fighters with sniper fire, and clash with Palestinian fighters in western Khan Younis.[21] Israeli forces raided military infrastructure and located improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and other weapons. The IDF Air Force destroyed a weapons depot in western Khan Younis.[22] PIJ and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine fighters detonated explosive devices in two separate attacks targeting Israeli forces in al Amal neighborhood in western Khan Younis.[23] The DFLP is a leftist Palestinian militia aligned with Hamas in the war.Palestinian militias clashed with Israeli forces in eastern Khan Younis on February 23. PIJ fighters detonated an explosively formed penetrator (EFP) targeting Israeli engineers in an ambush in eastern Khan Younis.[24] The militia also reported that its fighters fired a tandem-charge anti-tank rocket targeting Israeli forces in the same area.[25]The IDF Givati Brigade (assigned to the 162nd Division) launched an attack targeting Palestinian fighters and military infrastructure in an unspecified area of Khan Younis.[26] The IDF Air Force struck Palestinian militia sniper positions and weapons storage facilities prior to the attack.[27]Hamas Political Bureau Chairman Ismail Haniyeh completed a three-day trip to Cairo to discuss a hostage deal.[28] An unspecified Hamas official reported on February 23 that Hamas did not offer a new proposal to Egyptian mediators.[29] Hamas is waiting to see what US, Egyptian, and Qatari mediators can accomplish during talks in Paris, according to the Hamas official. The same official said that Israeli negotiators arrived in Paris on February 23.[30]Palestinian militias did not conduct indirect fire attacks from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel on February 23.West BankAxis of Resistance campaign objectives:Draw IDF assets and resources toward the West Bank and fix them thereIsraeli forces have clashed with Palestinian fighters at least six times in the West Bank since CTP-ISW's last data cutoff on February 22.[31] Israeli forces conducted a drone strike that killed a PIJ commander in Jenin.[32]This map is not an exhaustive depiction of clashes and demonstrations in the West Bank.Southern Lebanon and Golan HeightsAxis of Resistance campaign objectives:Draw IDF assets and resources toward northern Israel and fix them thereSet conditions for successive campaigns into northern IsraelIranian-backed militias, including Lebanese Hezbollah, conducted at least seven attacks from southern Lebanon into northern Israel since CTP-ISW's last data cutoff on February 22.[33]Israel conducted an airstrike that killed a senior Lebanese Hezbollah member in the group’s elite Radwan Force in southern Lebanon on February 22.[34] Israeli and Lebanese sources reported that the Hezbollah member specialized in operating anti-tank systems and that he had operated in Shebaa Farms during the Israeli-Hamas war.[35]The Israeli Navy concluded a week-long military exercise in northern Israel on February 23.[36] The Israeli Navy held drills to simulate countering drones, conducting aerial rescue operations, and refueling vessels.[37] Israeli media reported that Israel’s naval exercises are preparations for a potential war with Hezbollah.[38] Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said on February 23 that Israel will not wait ”much longer for a diplomatic solution in the north.”[39]Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said on February 22 that Iran accelerated the pace of its weapon shipments to Lebanese Hezbollah after the beginning of the Israel-Hamas War.[40] Katz said in a letter to the UN Security Council that Iran’s shipments included ”components for air defense systems, drones, and several different missiles.“[41] The IDF Air Force said on February 3 and 19 that it has struck many Iranian, Lebanese Hezbollah, and Syrian targets in Syria since the start of the Israel-Hamas war.[42]Recorded reports of attacks; CTP-ISW cannot independently verify impact.Iran and Axis of ResistanceAxis of Resistance campaign objectives:Demonstrate the capability and willingness of Iran and the Axis of Resistance to escalate against the United States and Israel on multiple frontsSet conditions to fight a regional war on multiple frontsUS National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby said on February 23 that the United States has not yet confirmed that Iran transferred ballistic missiles to Russia.[43] Kirby added that the United States plans to impose additional sanctions on Iran for its support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine and that the United States is “prepared to go further” if Iran supplies ballistic missiles to Russia. Kirby noted that Iran seeks a significant amount of Russian military equipment in return for its material support to Russia. Iranian sources told Reuters on February 21 that Iran provided hundreds of short-range ballistic missiles to Russia in early January.[44]The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated two Iranian and Iran-linked entities on February 23 for facilitating the transfer of Iranian drones to Russia.[45] OFAC designated the following Iranian and Iran-linked entities: The Iranian Defense and Armed Forces Logistics Ministry for helping to finance and produce Iranian drones at the Alabuga facility in Tatarstan, Russia.The Iranian Defense and Armed Forces Logistics Ministry-affiliated and UAE-based Generation Trading FZE for facilitating the sale of Iranian drone samples, parts, and ground stations that enable the Russian production of Iranian drones at the Alabuga facility.Iran’s arms sales to Russia are part of Iran’s efforts to generate revenue to support its deteriorating economy.[46] CTP-ISW previously assessed that Iran could seek to acquire cash from Russia in return for supplying Russia with missiles.[47] The Prana Network hacker group published documents on February 4 alleging that Russia is paying Iran roughly $4.5 billion per year to import the Iranian Shahed series drones.[48][1] https://www dot saba.ye/ar/news3307218.htm[2] https://www.brookings.edu/articles/the-houthis-after-the-yemeni-cease-fire/[3] https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/edge-over-red-sea-attacks-riyadh-seeks-contain-fall-out-2023-12-06/[4] https://press.un.org/en/2023/sc15258.doc.htm[5] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2024-02-22/iran-backed-houthis-boost-military-power-to-battle-us-in-red-sea[6] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/iran-update-february-22-2024[7] https://twitter.com/CENTCOM/status/1761041332091384273?s=20[8] https://www.israelnationalnews dot com/news/385675[9] https://www.axios.com/2024/02/23/netanyahu-gaza-war-palestinian-authority-reconstruction[10] https://www.israelnationalnews dot com/news/385675[11] https://www.israelnationalnews dot com/news/385675[12] https://www.israelnationalnews dot com/news/385675[13] https://www.axios.com/2024/02/23/netanyahu-gaza-war-palestinian-authority-reconstruction[14] https://www.israelnationalnews dot com/news/385675[15] https://t.me/sarayaps/17460[16] https://t.me/qassam1brigades/1659[17] https://t.me/mojahdeenpal/4245; https://t.me/elaqsa_1965/5802; https://t.me/kataeb_moqawma/4146[18] https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1760923695432835412[19] https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1760923695432835412[20] https://t.me/sarayaps/17461[21] https://www.idf dot il/182194[22] https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1760923675962818738[23] https://t.me/sarayaps/17471; https://t.me/kataeb_moqawma/4146[24] https://t.me/sarayaps/17469[25] https://t.me/sarayaps/17470[26] https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1760923684166885557[27] https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1760923692094095464[28] https://twitter.com/GLZRadio/status/1760954881500708921[29] https://www.jpost dot com/israel-hamas-war/article-788530[30] https://www.jpost dot com/israel-hamas-war/article-788530[31] https://t.me/elaqsa_1965/5797; https://t.me/elaqsa_1965/5798; https://t.me/elaqsa_1965/5801; https://t.me/hamza20300/216927; https://t.me/QudsN/374318; https://t.me/QudsN/374348[32] https://twitter.com/JoeTruzman/status/1760891129430704360?s=20; https://twitter.com/GLZRadio/status/1760892435389931535[33] https://t.me/mmirleb/2203; https://t.me/mmirleb/2209; https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1760739294325657625; https://twitter.com/GLZRadio/status/1761045967090901418; https://t.me/mmirleb/2213 ; https://t.me/mmirleb/2215 [34] https://twitter.com/GLZRadio/status/1760740492470571099; https://www.timesofisrael dot com/liveblog_entry/hezbollah-names-operative-killed-in-reported-israeli-strike/[35] https://twitter.com/GLZRadio/status/1760740492470571099; https://twitter.com/Israel_Alma_org/status/1761001460320399761; https://www.timesofisrael dot com/liveblog_entry/hezbollah-names-operative-killed-in-reported-israeli-strike; https://waradana dot com/article/65952-[36] https://www.idf dot il/182178; https://www.timesofisrael dot com/israeli-navy-carries-out-extensive-drills-in-preparation-for-potential-war-in-north/; https://www.i24news.tv/en/news/israel-at-war/1708699477-israeli-navy-conducts-exercises-amid-rising-tensions-in-the-north[37] https://www.timesofisrael dot com/israeli-navy-carries-out-extensive-drills-in-preparation-for-potential-war-in-north/; https://www.i24news dot tv/en/news/israel-at-war/1708699477-israeli-navy-conducts-exercises-amid-rising-tensions-in-the-north[38] https://twitter.com/GLZRadio/status/1760967743602602145[39] https://www.timesofisrael dot com/israeli-navy-carries-out-extensive-drills-in-preparation-for-potential-war-in-north/[40] https://www.jpost dot com/israel-hamas-war/article-788518[41] https://www.jpost dot com/israel-hamas-war/article-788518[42] https://x.com/AvichayAdraee/status/1753865730531979294?s=20 ; https://x.com/manniefabian/status/1759593684704600324?s=20[43] https://www.timesofisrael dot com/liveblog_entry/us-to-impose-new-sanctions-on-iran-for-backing-russian-invasion-of-ukraine/ ; https://apnews.com/article/russia-iran-missiles-biden-sanctions-7dfb927a055de1734108df8b8148ab9f[44] https://www.reuters.com/world/iran-sends-russia-hundreds-ballistic-missiles-sources-say-2024-02-21/[45] https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy2117[46] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-june-21-2023[47] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-june-21-2023[48] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-6-2024

[Author: Unknown]

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[l] at 2/27/24 12:18am
Grace Mappes, Angelica Evans, Riley Bailey, Nicole Wolkov, and Frederick W. KaganFebruary 23, 2024, 6:30pm ET Click here to see ISW’s interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report. Click here to see ISW’s 3D control of terrain topographic map of Ukraine. Use of a computer (not a mobile device) is strongly recommended for using this data-heavy tool.Click here to access ISW’s archive of interactive time-lapse maps of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These maps complement the static control-of-terrain map that ISW produces daily by showing a dynamic frontline. ISW will update this time-lapse map archive monthly.Note: The data cut-off for this product was 1:00pm ET on February 23. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the February 24 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.Click here to read ISW’s latest warning update on the possibility of Transnistria, a pro-Russian breakaway region of Moldova, calling for Russian annexation or taking other action to support Russian hybrid operations against Moldova.Ukrainian officials reported that Ukrainian forces shot down a Russian A-50 long-range radar detection aircraft on the night of February 23 – the second such aircraft shot down in 2024. Ukrainian Air Force Commander Lieutenant General Mykola Oleshchuk and the Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported that Ukrainian forces shot down a Russian A-50 near Yeysk, Krasnodar Krai over the Sea of Azov Coast.[1] Footage posted on February 23 shows a fixed-winged aircraft falling, and geolocated footage shows a significant fire with secondary detonations near the Trudovaya Farm northwest of Staroderevyankovskaya, Kanevskoy Raion in northern Krasnodar Krai (northeast of Primorsko-Akhtarsk).[2] Additional footage posted on February 23 shows mangled aircraft parts, and it is very unlikely that Russian forces will be able to repair the A-50 or that the crew survived the crash.[3] Krasnodar Krai authorities reported that an unspecified Russian aircraft crashed near the Trudovaya Farm but did not specify a cause.[4] Ukrainian officials have previously reported that Russian forces use the A-50 aircraft to coordinate Russian air and air defense activity.[5] The destruction of the Russian A-50 aircraft in mid-January led to a temporary reduction in tactical Russian aviation activity over the Sea of Azov.[6]Russian ultranationalists are increasingly attributing the shootdown of Russian aircraft to Russian rather than Ukrainian air defenses. Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces mistakenly shot down their own A-50 aircraft and accused the Russian military of systemic issues that it must fix to avoid further friendly fire incidents.[7] One milblogger noted that A-50 aircraft and its highly specialized crew are scarce resources for Russia that it cannot easily replace.[8] The milbloggers specifically denied Ukrainian and Russian reporting that Ukrainian forces shot down the A-50 on February 23 and connected this shootdown to their prior denials that Ukrainian forces were responsible for the A-50 and Il-22 shootdowns on January 15.[9] The milbloggers have also attributed recent Ukrainian downings of Russian Su-34 and Su-35 fighter jets to friendly air defense fire and criticized reports attributing them to Ukraine.[10] Russian milbloggers may be refusing to attribute any successes to Ukrainian forces as part of wider efforts in the Russian information space to demoralize Ukrainians and convince Russians that victory is assured. Recent Kremlin rhetoric has focused on portraying Russia as able to outlast Ukraine’s willingness and ability to fight, including outlasting Western military support for Ukraine, and Russian milbloggers‘ consistent claims of ineffective Ukrainian air defenses and other battlefield capabilities are congruent with this disinformation campaign.[11] Ukrainian shootdowns of Russian strategic-level aircraft, especially twice within mere weeks of each other, severely undermine this Russian narrative. The milbloggers’ enthusiasm for attributing staggering incompetence to Russia’s own air defenders—the only possible explanation for multiple instances of friendly fire taking down the aircraft helping coordinate the air defenders themselves--is odd.Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that Ukrainian forces are planning future counteroffensive operations, although delays in Western security assistance will likely continue to generate uncertainty and constraints on these operations. Zelensky stated in an interview with Fox News published on February 22 that Ukrainian forces will prepare for new counteroffensive operations in 2024 but that their primary objective is to continue defending Ukrainian territory.[12] Zelensky acknowledged that materiel shortages are complicating ongoing Ukrainian operations, particularly in eastern Ukraine.[13] ABC News reported on February 22 that US officials assess that Ukrainian forces will begin to face critical shortages of ammunition and air defense missiles in late March 2024 and that these shortages will become increasingly significant through the spring and summer of 2024.[14] Materiel shortages are likely forcing Ukrainian forces to husband materiel, and delays in Western security assistance will likely continue to create uncertainty in Ukrainian operational plans and restrictions on preparations for future counteroffensive operations.[15] ISW continues to assess that it would be problematic for Ukraine to cede the theater-wide initiative to Russia for longer than is necessary, however, as Ukraine would risk consuming resources it had hoped to conserve for counteroffensive operations on efforts to stop continued Russian attacks.[16] Continued delays in security assistance and persisting materiel shortages may force Ukrainian forces to make tough decisions about how to allocate resources between potential operationally significant counteroffensive operations and ongoing efforts to hold ground, however.Ukraine-based open-source organization Frontelligence Insight reported on February 22 that Russian forces are storing missiles and ammunition in previously abandoned facilities near the Russo-Ukrainian border and in occupied Ukraine to shorten and bolster Russian logistics lines.[17] Frontelligence Insight reported that satellite imagery shows that Russian forces began storing S-300 missiles, artillery shells, and possibly multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) ammunition at a previously abandoned farm in Voronezh Oblast in late July 2023. Frontelligence Insight stated that the facility is roughly 50 kilometers from the Russo-Ukrainian border and likely serves as a supply facility for Russian air defense units operating in the area. Frontelligence Insight reported that Russian forces have been actively repurposing facilities near the border and in occupied Ukraine since 2022 in order to create more robust and decentralized logistics lines and that improved Russian logistics will support Russian efforts to counter large Ukrainian offensive operations in 2025. Ukrainian forces have previously used Western-provided HIMARS to strike Russian ammunition depots and interdict Russian ground lines of communications (GLOCs) in occupied Ukraine to set favorable conditions for the Kharkiv counteroffensive in September 2022 and force Russian forces to withdraw from west (right) bank Kherson Oblast in November 2022.[18] These Ukrainian strikes forced Russian forces to array their logistics assets further from the frontline to the detriment of frontline forces, and Ukrainian forces would likely be able to achieve a similar effect with sufficient quantities of weapons systems capable of striking military assets deeper in occupied Ukraine and Russia.[19] Ukrainian officials have repeatedly promised to abide by Western governments’ wishes that Ukraine not use Western-provided systems against military targets in Russia’s internationally-recognized territory.[20]Ukrainian officials stated that the probability of a Russian ground attack on Ukraine from Transnistria, a pro-Russian breakaway region of Moldova, is low following reports that Transnistrian authorities may call for or organize a referendum on annexation to Russia on February 28. Ukrainian Southern Operational Command Spokesperson Colonel Nataliya Humenyuk stated on February 23 that claims that Transnistrian authorities will call for Russian annexation are intended to “shake up” the information space and create socio-political tension.[21] Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Spokesperson Andriy Yusov stated on February 22 that information that Transnistrian authorities will call for Russian annexation is “unconfirmed.”[22] Humenyuk stated that Russian forces conducted missile strikes against Odesa City on the night of February 22 to 23 to place additional pressure on the region and the ongoing “stormy situation” in Moldova and that Ukrainian forces have not observed any military activity in Transnistria that could threaten Ukraine.[23] ISW has not observed any indications suggesting that the limited Russian force grouping in Transnistria may attempt to conduct ground operations that could threaten Ukraine, and ISW does not assess that that force grouping is capable of launching a meaningful ground operation against Ukraine. ISW issued a warning forecast on February 22 and assessed that Transnistrian officials may call for a referendum on annexation to Russia to support Russian hybrid operations intent on politically and socially destabilizing Moldova.[24] ISW’s warning reflects threats to Moldova’s stability rather than Ukraine’s military situation.Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated that Armenia “essentially” froze its participation in the Russia-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) against the backdrop of deteriorating Russian-Armenian relations. Pashinyan stated in a February 22 interview with French outlet France 24 that Armenia “essentially” froze its participation in the CSTO because the CSTO “failed to fulfill its obligations in the field of security” to Armenia, particularly in 2021 and 2022.[25] ISW previously observed that Armenia appeared to be effectively abstaining from participation in the CSTO after Pashinyan and Armenian representatives did not attend several consecutive CSTO events in mid to late 2023.[26] Pashinyan reiterated the importance of the 1991 Alma-Ata Declaration that founded the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and recognized the territorial integrity of its 11 signatories, including Russia and Ukraine. Pashinyan stated that ”what is happening in Ukraine is a violation of the Alma-Ata Declaration” and that Armenia is ”seriously concerned.” Pashinyan responded to reports of Russian military police at the 102nd Military Base in Gyumri, Armenia detaining a Russian citizen for desertion in December 2023.[27] Pashinyan stated that Armenian authorities are investigating the incident and that Armenia ”cannot tolerate illegal actions on [its] territory.” Kremlin newswire TASS claimed that Pashinyan “suspended” Armenia’s membership in the CSTO, despite Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov’s statement that Armenia had not sent an official notification of its suspension of CSTO membership.[28] The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) rejected Pashinyan’s statement that the CSTO has failed to fulfill its obligations to Armenia and criticized Armenia for inviting observers from the European Union (EU) instead of the CSTO to Armenia, likely referencing the recent increase in EU observers on the Armenian side of the Armenian-Azerbaijan border.[29] Several Russian milbloggers criticized Pashinyan’s policies and blamed him for deteriorating Armenian-Russian relations.[30]The US, United Kingdom (UK), Canada, and the European Union (EU) announced new sanctions packages aimed at constraining Russia’s war effort in Ukraine. The US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced that it is sanctioning almost 300 individuals and entities and 500 targets to mark the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.[31] OFAC placed sanctions on Russian financial infrastructure supporting the Russian war effort and on Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces (MODAFL) for its role in supplying components for the Russian drone production facility in Alabuga, Republic of Tatarstan.[32] OFAC also placed sanctions on 26 third-country entities and individuals in 11 countries, including China, Serbia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).[33] The UK announced 50 new sanctions measures against elements of Russia’s defense industrial base (DIB), Russian importers and manufacturers of machine tools, and oil traders and shipping management firms that have facilitated the transfer of Russian oil below the G7’s price cap.[34] Canada announced sanctions against 10 individuals and 153 entities primarily associated with Russia’s DIB.[35]The EU adopted its 13th sanctions package that includes sanctions designations against 106 individuals and 88 entities also primarily from Russia’s DIB.[36] The 13th EU sanctions package against Russia places sanctions on 10 Russian entities and individuals involved in the shipping of armaments from North Korea to Russia, a Russian individual and entity heavily involved in sanctions evasion, and 15 individuals and two entities involved in the forced transfer, deportation, and military indoctrination of Ukrainian children.[37] The EU is also placing sanctions on third-country companies that have assisted Russia’s DIB, including four Chinese companies and one company each from Kazakhstan, India, Serbia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Turkey.[38]Key Takeaways:Ukrainian officials reported that Ukrainian forces shot down a Russian A-50 long-range radar detection aircraft on the night of February 23 – the second such aircraft shot down in 2024.Russian ultranationalists are increasingly attributing the shootdown of Russian aircraft to Russian rather than Ukrainian air defenses.Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that Ukrainian forces are planning future counteroffensive operations, although delays in Western security assistance will likely continue to generate uncertainty and constraints on these operations.Ukraine-based open-source organization Frontelligence Insight reported on February 22 that Russian forces are storing missiles and ammunition in previously abandoned facilities near the Russo-Ukrainian border and in occupied Ukraine to shorten and bolster Russian logistics lines.Ukrainian officials stated that the probability of a Russian ground attack on Ukraine from Transnistria, a pro-Russian breakaway region of Moldova, is low following reports that Transnistrian authorities may call for or organize a referendum on annexation to Russia on February 28.Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated that Armenia “essentially” froze its participation in the Russia-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) against the backdrop of deteriorating Russian-Armenian relations.The US, United Kingdom (UK), Canada, and the European Union (EU) announced new sanctions packages aimed at constraining Russia’s war effort in Ukraine.Ukrainian forces made confirmed advances near Kreminna, and Russian forces made confirmed advances near Kreminna, Bakhmut, and Donetsk City.Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Deputy Chief Major General Vadym Skibitskyi stated on February 23 that international sanctions are degrading the quality of Russian missiles amid continued Russian efforts to increase missile production.Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) provided additional details on February 22 about the forced deportation of Ukrainian children from Ukraine to Belarus.We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because these activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We will continue to evaluate and report on the effects of these criminal activities on the Ukrainian military and the Ukrainian population and specifically on combat in Ukrainian urban areas. We utterly condemn Russian violations of the laws of armed conflict and the Geneva Conventions and crimes against humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.  Russian Main Effort – Eastern Ukraine (comprised of two subordinate main efforts)Russian Subordinate Main Effort #1 – Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and encircle northern Donetsk OblastRussian Subordinate Main Effort #2 – Capture the entirety of Donetsk OblastRussian Supporting Effort – Southern AxisRussian Air, Missile, and Drone CampaignRussian Mobilization and Force Generation EffortsRussian Technological AdaptationsActivities in Russian-occupied areasUkrainian Defense Industrial Base EffortsRussian Information Operations and NarrativesSignificant Activity in BelarusRussian Main Effort – Eastern UkraineRussian Subordinate Main Effort #1 – Luhansk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and northern Donetsk Oblast)Russian and Ukrainian forces recently made gains west of Kreminna amid continued positional fighting along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line on February 23. Geolocated footage published on February 22 indicates that Ukrainian forces recently regained ground east of Yampolivka (west of Kreminna).[39] Additional geolocated footage posted on February 23 indicates that Russian forces recently made marginal gains near Terny (west of Kreminna).[40] Positional fighting continued northwest of Kupyansk near Synkivka and west of Kreminna near Terny and Yampolivka.[41] Ukrainian Khortytsia Group of Forces Spokesperson Captain Ilya Yevlash stated that Russian forces near Terny will typically replenish an attacking battalion with convict recruits from Storm-Z and Storm-V units after two or three days of assaults.[42] Yevlash added that Russian assault detachments on average lose 60 percent of their equipment in assaults near Terny.[43]Russian Subordinate Main Effort #2 – Donetsk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)Russian forces recently advanced west of Bakhmut amid continued fighting in the Bakhmut area on February 23. Geolocated footage published on February 23 indicates that Russian forces recently advanced to the eastern outskirts of Ivanviske (west of Bakhmut).[44] Russian milbloggers also claimed that elements of the Russian 98th Airborne (VDV) Division with armored vehicle support advanced in the area.[45] Some Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces advanced to Sadova Street in eastern Ivanivske, although ISW has not observed visual confirmation of this claim.[46] Ukrainian and Russian sources stated that positional fighting continued northwest of Bakhmut near Bohdanivka and southwest of Bakhmut near Klishchiivka, Andriivka, Niu York, and Toretsk.[47] Elements of the Russian 200th Motorized Rifle Brigade (Northern Fleet) are reportedly operating near Bohdanivka, and elements of the 27th Artillery Regiment (possibly a reconstituted Soviet-era unit) are operating near Bakhmut.[48]Russian forces reportedly advanced northwest of Avdiivka on February 23, but there were no confirmed changes to the frontline. Several Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces advanced in the eastern outskirts of Sieverne (northwest of Avdiivka), and other milbloggers claimed that Russian forces captured Stepove (northwest of Avdiivka).[49] Russian milbloggers also claimed that Russian forces advanced up to 200 meters deep in the direction of Orlivka and Lastochkyne (northwest of Avdiivka) and that Russian forces advanced west from the Khimik microraion in Avdiivka and northwest of Opytne (southwest of Avdiivka).[50] ISW has not observed visual evidence of these claims. Russian and Ukrainian sources stated that positional fighting also continued northwest of Avdiivka near Berdychi and southwest of Avdiivka near Vodyane, Pervomaiske, and Nevelske.[51] Elements of the Russian 55th Motorized Rifle Brigade (41st Combined Arms Army [CAA], Central Military District [CMD]) and the 21st Motorized Rifle Brigade (2nd CAA, CMD) are reportedly operating near Avdiivka.[52] Elements of the Russian 1st Slavic Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade (1st Donetsk People’s Republic [DNR] Army Corps) are reportedly operating near Sieverne, and the 110th Motorized Rifle Brigade (1st DNR Army Corps) are reportedly operating near Nevelske and Pervomaiske.[53]Russian forces recently marginally advanced southwest of Donetsk City amid continued positional fighting west and southwest of Donetsk City on February 23. Geolocated footage published on February 23 indicates that Russian forces recently marginally advanced south of Novomykhailivka (southwest of Donetsk City).[54] Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces also captured positions on the southern outskirts of Krasnohorivka (west of Donetsk City), although ISW has not observed visual confirmation of this claim.[55] Ukrainian and Russian sources stated that positional fighting continues west of Donetsk City near Heorhiivka and southwest of Donetsk City near Novomykhailivka and Pobieda.[56] Elements of the Russian 255th Motorized Rifle Regiment (20th Motorized Rifle Division, 8th CAA, Southern Military District) are reportedly operating in Pobieda, and elements of the 14th Spetsnaz Brigade (Russian General Staff’s Main Directorate [GRU]) are reportedly operating near Novomykhailivka.[57]Russian Supporting Effort – Southern Axis (Russian objective: Maintain frontline positions and secure rear areas against Ukrainian strikes)Positional fighting continued in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area on February 23. Russian and Ukrainian sources reported that positional fighting occurred southeast of Velyka Novosilka near Zolota Nyva and Novodonetske, south of Velyka Novosilka near Staromayorske, and southwest of Velyka Novosilka near Shevchenko.[58] Elements of the Russian 1466th Motorized Rifle Regiment (Territorial Troops [TRV]) are reportedly operating near Staromayorske, elements of the 30th Artillery Brigade (36th Combined Arms Army [CAA], Eastern Military District [EMD]) are reportedly operating near Urozhaine (south of Velyka Novosilka), and elements of the 218th Tank Regiment (127th Motorized Rifle Division, 5th CAA, EMD) are reportedly operating near Pryyutne (southwest of Velyka Novosilka).[59]Positional fighting continued in western Zaporizhia Oblast near Robotyne and Verbove (east of Robotyne) on February 23.[60] Russian milbloggers claimed that fighting continued in the center of Robotyne on February 22 and 23.[61] Elements of the Russian 429th Motorized Rifle Regiment (19th Motorized Rifle Division, 58th CAA, Southern Military District [SMD]) are reportedly operating near Kamyanske (west of Robotyne).[62] Russian and Ukrainian sources continue to disagree about the status of the Ukrainian bridgehead in east (left) bank Kherson Oblast as of February 23. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) reiterated on February 23 Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s February 20 claim that Russian forces completely seized Krynky in east bank Kherson Oblast.[63] A Russian milblogger posted footage on February 22 of himself visiting the outskirts of Krynky as alleged proof of the Russian seizure of the settlement but was unable to enter the settlement due to heavy Ukrainian indirect fire in the area.[64] A Ukrainian soldier operating near Krynky refuted these Russian claims in an interview published on February 23 and stated that Russian forces failed to establish a foothold at the limited Ukrainian bridgehead in Krynky during intensified Russian assaults on February 19.[65] ISW has not yet observed visual confirmation of any significant recent Russian gains in Krynky. The Ukrainian General Staff and a Russian milblogger stated that positional fighting continued in east bank Kherson Oblast, including near Krynky, on February 23.[66] The Ukrainian soldier added that Ukrainian forces continue to supply positions on the east bank of the Dnipro River despite consistent Russian efforts to disrupt Ukrainian logistics in the area.[67]Russian Air, Missile, and Drone Campaign (Russian Objective: Target Ukrainian military and civilian infrastructure in the rear and on the frontline)Russian forces launched another series of drone and missile strikes against Ukraine overnight on February 22 to 23. The Ukrainian Air Force reported that Russian forces launched 31 Shahed-136/131 drones from Primorsko-Akhtarsk, Krasnodar Krai and occupied Cape Chauda, Crimea; three S-300 missiles from occupied Donetsk Oblast; and a Kh-31P anti-radar missile and two Kh-22 cruise missiles from the Black Sea.[68] Ukrainian officials reported that Ukrainian forces intercepted 23 Shahed drones over the Odesa, Mykolaiv, Poltava, Dnipropetrovsk and Kharkiv oblasts.[69] The Ukrainian Southern Operational Command reported that one drone struck port infrastructure in Odesa City.[70] Russian sources claimed that Russian forces struck a civilian airfield in Kharkiv Oblast and defense enterprises in Odesa and Dnipropetrovsk oblasts.[71]Russian Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts (Russian objective: Expand combat power without conducting general mobilization)Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Deputy Chief Major General Vadym Skibitskyi stated on February 23 that international sanctions are degrading the quality of Russian missiles amid continued Russian efforts to increase missile production. Skibitskyi stated that Russia planned to produce 130 missiles in February 2024, including Iskander ballistic, Kinzhal ballistic, Kalibr cruise, Kh-101 cruise, and Kh-32 cruise missiles.[72] Skibitskyi reported that Russian officials created a center to develop domestic Russian analogues of foreign components for missiles, particularly electronics, but that the domestically produced components are worse in quality than imported ones. Skibitskyi stated that Russian forces have used missiles produced in the fourth quarter of 2023 in recent strikes against Ukraine. Skibitskyi stated that Russian forces have infrequently included Kalibrs in strike packages in January and February 2024 despite frequently using them in strike packages in September 2023. Skibitskyi stated that Russia plans to produce a ”large” number of Kalibrs to replenish its strategic reserves and equip frigates and submarines.Skibitskyi stated that North Korea continues to provide missiles and artillery ammunition to Russia, likely in exchange for missile and submarine technology.[73] Skibitskyi stated that Russia has imported 1.5 million rounds of ammunition to Russia, although half of the rounds are defective, and the rest require restoration and inspection before use. Skibitskyi reported that Russian forces continue to launch North Korean KN-23 (Hwasong-11 Ga) missiles against Ukraine which have ballistic characteristics similar to Iskander missiles. Skibitskyi stated that it is difficult for Ukrainian forces to shoot down ballistic missiles and that Ukraine requires Western air defense systems, such as Patriot missile defense systems, to intercept ballistic missiles.Skibitskyi stated that the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) is forming a volunteer corps of 18,000 personnel which includes former Wagner Group personnel.[74] Skibitskyi stated that the Volunteer Corps is currently operating near Avdiivka and that elements of the Volunteer Corps conduct assault operations using similar tactics to infantry-led frontal assaults that the Wagner Group used in Bakhmut in 2023. The Russian MoD credited the “Veterany” Assault Brigade of the Volunteer Corps for aiding in the Russian capture of Avdiivka after Russian milbloggers criticized the Russian MoD for failing to recognize the Volunteer Corps’ and Donetsk People’s Republic Army Corps’ contributions to the Russian seizure of Avdiivka.[75]Russian Technological Adaptations (Russian objective: Introduce technological innovations to optimize systems for use in Ukraine)Russian President Vladimir Putin stated on February 23 that Russia began serial production of new Zircon hypersonic missiles and that Russia started testing another unspecified strike system.[76] Kremlin newswire TASS reported in January 2024 that Russia will increase its production of hypersonic Zircon and Kinzhal missiles in 2024.[77] Putin also stated that the Russian military recently received four Tu-160M (NATO reporting name Blackjack) strategic bombers.Ukrainian Defense Industrial Efforts (Ukrainian objective: Develop its defense industrial base to become more self-sufficient in cooperation with US, European, and international partners)Ukraine continues to jointly produce and receive weapons and military equipment. Ukrainian state industrial firm Ukroboronprom announced on February 23 that it will manufacture the Czech NATO caliber CZ BREN 2 assault rifle in Ukraine as part of a licensing agreement with Czech firearms manufacturer Ceska Zbrojovka.[78] Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov stated on February 22 that Ukraine recently received a shipment of ”dozens” of sanitized M113 armored personnel carriers and expects to receive ”hundreds” more in the future.[79]Activities in Russian-occupied areas (Russian objective: Consolidate administrative control of annexed areas; forcibly integrate Ukrainian citizens into Russian sociocultural, economic, military, and governance systems)Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) provided additional details on February 22 about the forced deportation of Ukrainian children from Ukraine to Belarus.[80] RFE/RL reported that Russian and Belarusian authorities deported at least 2,442 Ukrainian children from mainly occupied Mariupol and Lysychansk to 13 different camps in Belarus as of November 2023.[81] Belarusian authorities at these camps reportedly indoctrinate the children into pro-Russian ideology and eradicate their Ukrainian identities.[82] RFE/RL reported that the Belarusian UNICEF has been directly involved in these forced deportations since 2022 and implicated the Belarusian Red Cross Head Dmytro Shevtsov and the Talay Foundation in the deportations.[83] RFE/RL reported that Belarusian authorities use the camps to expose Ukrainian children to pro-Soviet propaganda and arrange meetings between the children and Belarusian security, police, and military forces.[84]Russian and occupation authorities are already integrating recently captured Avdiivka, Donetsk Oblast into Russian governance of occupied areas. Chelyabinsk Oblast Head Alexei Teksler stated on February 23 that Chelyabinsk Oblast will sponsor occupied Avdiivka after occupation authorities officially integrate Avdiivka into occupation structures.[85] Head of occupied Yasynuvata Raion, Donetsk Oblast Dmitry Shevchenko claimed on February 23 that residents of occupied Avdiivka are already receiving Russian passports.[86]Russian Information Operations and NarrativesNothing significant to report.Significant activity in Belarus (Russian efforts to increase its military presence in Belarus and further integrate Belarus into Russian-favorable frameworks and Wagner Group activity in Belarus)Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Deputy Chief Major General Vadym Skibitskyi stated during an interview on February 23 that Belarus is working to restore its ammunition production after Russian forces “removed” all of Belarus’ ammunition for use in Ukraine.[87] Skibitskyi stated that Belarusian ammunition production volumes are “not as high as one would expect” and added that Russia does not currently have a large grouping of forces or reserves in Belarus that could threaten Ukraine.The Belarusian Hajun Project reported on February 23 that the Belarusian army is modernizing an unspecified number of Uragan multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) combat vehicles with improved engines, communications equipment, and topographical reference systems.[88] Belarusian forces transported the MLRS vehicles from the 111th Artillery Brigade near Brest, Belarus to an unspecified location for modernization and repairs.Note: ISW does not receive any classified material from any source, uses only publicly available information, and draws extensively on Russian, Ukrainian, and Western reporting and social media as well as commercially available satellite imagery and other geospatial data as the basis for these reports. References to all sources used are provided in the endnotes of each update.  [1] https://t.me/MykolaOleshchuk/202; https://www.rbc dot ua/ukr/news/vzhe-drugiy-zsu-zbili-azovskim-morem-shche-1708709875.html; https://t.me/liganet/34436; https://news.liga dot net/politics/news/gur-i-vozdushnye-sily-unichtozhili-rossiyskiy-a-50-v-rayone-azovskogo-morya; https://t.me/DIUkraine/3507[2] https://twitter.com/IntelCrab/status/1761089060594946513; https://twitter.com/bayraktar_1love/status/1761085051549127037; https://twitter.com/bayraktar_1love/status/1761083036098003107; https://t.me/hueviyherson/53489; https://t.me/hueviyherson/53491; https://twitter.com/IntelCrab/status/1761083590060744829; https://twitter.com/wartranslated/status/1761086281893687500; https://twitter.com/Osinttechnical/status/1761084157004784000[3] https://t.me/romanov_92/44437[4] https://t.me/opershtab23/7963; https://t.me/opershtab23/7965; https://t.me/opershtab23/7966[5] https://isw.pub/UkrWar011624 ; https://isw.pub/UkrWar011524[6] https://isw.pub/UkrWar011624 ; https://isw.pub/UkrWar021024[7] https://t.me/romanov_92/44431; https://t.me/romanov_92/44432; https://t.me/romanov_92/44437; https://t.me/dva_majors/35159; https://t.me/milinfolive/116901[8] https://t.me/dva_majors/35159[9] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-january-15-2024; https://t.me/romanov_92/44431; https://t.me/romanov_92/44432; https://t.me/romanov_92/44437; https://t.me/dva_majors/35159; https://t.me/milinfolive/116901[10] https://t.me/grey_zone/22004; https://t.me/dva_majors/34882[11] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-june-13-2023; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-january-28-2024; https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/2024-02-09-PDF-Russian%20Offensive%20Campaign%20Assessment.pdf; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-december-15-2023; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-18-2024[12] https://www.foxnews.com/world/zelenskyy-appeals-trump-congress-see-tragedy-russia-invasion-exclusive-bret-baier-interview[13] https://www.foxnews.com/world/zelenskyy-appeals-trump-congress-see-tragedy-russia-invasion-exclusive-bret-baier-interview[14] https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/us-estimates-ukraine-military-shortages-grow-catastrophic-late/story?id=107169502 ; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62588[15] https://isw.pub/UkrWar121823[16] https://isw.pub/UkrWar011924[17] https://twitter.com/Tatarigami_UA/status/1760721085077835839[18] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-october-17-2023; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/special-edition-campaign-assessment-ukraine%E2%80%99s-strike-campaign-against-crimea; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-november-10-2023; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-august-12-2023; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-november-26-2023; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-august-6-2023[19] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-october-17-2023; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/special-edition-campaign-assessment-ukraine%E2%80%99s-strike-campaign-against-crimea; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-november-10-2023; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-august-12-2023; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-november-26-2023; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-august-6-2023[20] https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2023-05-25/ukraine-shouldnt-use-us-arms-inside-russia-us-general-says; https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/ukraine-shouldnt-use-us-arms-inside-russia-us-general-says-2023-05-25/#:~:text=Ukraine%20has%20said%20in%20the,units%20on%20occupied%20Ukrainian%20territory.; https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/us-arms-ukraine-tracked-attack-russia/story?id=99744484; https://apnews.com/article/germany-ukraine-zelenskyy-berlin-scholz-aachen-weapons-e62d69f1467bb584353fd0cdda43e62e; https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/ukraine-more-sabotage-inside-russia-new-year-rcna129257; https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/05/13/zelensky-ukraine-war-leaked-documents/[21] https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/23/u-sylah-oborony-pivdnya-prokomentuvaly-informaczijnyj-splesk-navkolo-prydnistrovya/[22] https://www.pravda dot com.ua/news/2024/02/22/7443211/[23] https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/23/u-sylah-oborony-pivdnya-prokomentuvaly-informaczijnyj-splesk-navkolo-prydnistrovya/[24] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/warning-transnistria-may-organize-referendum-annexation-russia-support-russian-hybrid[25] https://www.primeminister dot am/en/interviews-and-press-conferences/item/2024/02/23/Nikol-Pashinyan-Interview-France-24/ ; https://www.france24 dot com/fr/%C3%A9missions/en-t%C3%AAte-%C3%A0-t%C3%AAte/20240222-l-azerba%C3%AFdjan-pr%C3%A9pare-une-attaque-contre-l-arm%C3%A9nie-selon-le-premier-ministre-arm%C3%A9niend ; https://www.azatutyun dot am/a/32832284.html[26] https://isw.pub/UkrWar121423 ; https://isw.pub/UkrWar120523 ; https://isw.pub/UkrWar112423[27] https://isw.pub/UkrWar121023[28] https://tass dot ru/mezhdunarodnaya-panorama/20065033 ; https://t.me/tass_agency/233119 ; https://t.me/tass_agency/233125 ; https://t.me/tass_agency/233129[29] https://t.me/tass_agency/233215 ; https://www.eeas.europa dot eu/euma/eu-mission-armenia-increase-its-presence-ground_en?s=410283[30] https://t.me/sashakots/45182 ; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/54230 ; https://t.me/milinfolive/116862 ; https://t.me/vysokygovorit/14728 ; https://t.me/russkiy_opolchenec/39747[31] https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy2117[32] https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy2117[33] https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy2117[34] https://www.gov dot uk/government/news/new-uk-sanctions-mark-two-years-since-russias-illegal-invasion-of-ukraine[35] https://www.canada dot ca/fr/affaires-mondiales/nouvelles/2024/02/la-ministre-joly-annonce-des-sanctions-additionnelles-en-reponse-a-linvasion-a-grande-echelle-de-lukraine-par-la-russie.html[36] https://ec.europa dot eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_24_963; https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/23/yes-zatverdyv-13-j-paket-sankczij-proty-rosiyi/[37] https://ec.europa dot eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_24_963; https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/23/yes-zatverdyv-13-j-paket-sankczij-proty-rosiyi/[38] https://ec.europa dot eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_24_963; https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/23/yes-zatverdyv-13-j-paket-sankczij-proty-rosiyi/[39] https://x.com/albafella1/status/1760800104594784300?s=20; https://x.com/klinger66/status/1760857317300383818?s=20[40] https://twitter.com/thisisnotdirk/status/1761064499908329482; https://t.me/ngueast/5402; https://twitter.com/thisisnotdirk/status/1761064504404623569[41] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02WmV7TBr9zZS6jj6gGYKTt2qmyG5hB7ZPiqYCAvioamrt1zcEWRZbQD6TcR2NDjfal ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0nd9L5qjMPUBozJ9nJgctt1AtJAaYcTudP3HK3PuQ6eiGWydBk2cuo3kYhU66EtLFl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid034L4k2JiTKkZ1r1tsFSShBdkpVz4TagSRc6bvRSCR9WF9CLeNLewn9EwCX1wENLZKl ; https://t.me/mod_russia/35953[42] https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/23/u-hortyczi-rozpovily-pro-znyshhennya-levovoyi-chastky-tehniky-rosiyan-na-lymano-kupyanskomu-napryamku/[43] https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/23/u-hortyczi-rozpovily-pro-znyshhennya-levovoyi-chastky-tehniky-rosiyan-na-lymano-kupyanskomu-napryamku/[44] https://x.com/front_ukrainian/status/1760939794601841080?s=20; https://x.com/blinzka/status/1760949183299645694?s=20; https://x.com/blinzka/status/1760954968381497488?s=20; https://t.me/umftteam/232; https://t.me/creamy_caprice/4510; https://t.me/ssternenko/25609; https://twitter.com/moklasen/status/1760966052052193614[45] https://t.me/rybar/57437 ; https://t.me/dva_majors/35119 ; https://t.me/negumanitarnaya_pomosch_Z/15092 ; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7610[46] https://t.me/z_arhiv/26112 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/114094[47] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0nd9L5qjMPUBozJ9nJgctt1AtJAaYcTudP3HK3PuQ6eiGWydBk2cuo3kYhU66EtLFl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid034L4k2JiTKkZ1r1tsFSShBdkpVz4TagSRc6bvRSCR9WF9CLeNLewn9EwCX1wENLZKl ; https://t.me/mod_russia/35953 ; https://t.me/wargonzo/18359 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/114081[48] https://t.me/boris_rozhin/114081 (Bohdanivka) ; https://t.me/voin_dv/7180 (Bakhmut)[49] https://t.me/rybar/57437 ; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62585 ; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62620 ; https://t.me/z_arhiv/26113 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/114094 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/114120 ; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/54265 ; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62628  [50] https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62585 ; https://t.me/dva_majors/35119 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/114094[51] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02WmV7TBr9zZS6jj6gGYKTt2qmyG5hB7ZPiqYCAvioamrt1zcEWRZbQD6TcR2NDjfal ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0nd9L5qjMPUBozJ9nJgctt1AtJAaYcTudP3HK3PuQ6eiGWydBk2cuo3kYhU66EtLFl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid034L4k2JiTKkZ1r1tsFSShBdkpVz4TagSRc6bvRSCR9WF9CLeNLewn9EwCX1wENLZKl ; https://t.me/mod_russia/35953 ; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7626[52] https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62614; https://t.me/negumanitarnaya_pomosch_Z/15105[53] https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62597 (Nevelske and Pervomaiske) ; https://t.me/prigozhin_2023_tg/8138 (Sieverne)[54] https://t.me/pidrozdilshadowoficial/339; https://t.me/kiber_boroshno/6884[55] https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7628 ; https://t.me/svarschiki/7711[56] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02WmV7TBr9zZS6jj6gGYKTt2qmyG5hB7ZPiqYCAvioamrt1zcEWRZbQD6TcR2NDjfal ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0nd9L5qjMPUBozJ9nJgctt1AtJAaYcTudP3HK3PuQ6eiGWydBk2cuo3kYhU66EtLFl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid034L4k2JiTKkZ1r1tsFSShBdkpVz4TagSRc6bvRSCR9WF9CLeNLewn9EwCX1wENLZKl ; https://t.me/dva_majors/35119 ; https://t.me/wargonzo/18359 ; https://t.me/mod_russia/35953[57] https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62636 (Pobieda) ; https://t.me/voin_dv/7175 (Novomykhailivka)[58] https://t.me/mod_russia/35954 ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02WmV7TBr9zZS6jj6gGYKTt2qmyG5hB7ZPiqYCAvioamrt1zcEWRZbQD6TcR2NDjfal ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0nd9L5qjMPUBozJ9nJgctt1AtJAaYcTudP3HK3PuQ6eiGWydBk2cuo3kYhU66EtLFl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid034L4k2JiTKkZ1r1tsFSShBdkpVz4TagSRc6bvRSCR9WF9CLeNLewn9EwCX1wENLZKl[59] https://t.me/boris_rozhin/114060 (Pryyutne) ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/114085 (Urozhaine) ; https://t.me/voin_dv/7188 ; https://t.me/swodki/352373 ; https://t.me/NeoficialniyBeZsonoV/33469 (Staromayorske)[60] https://t.me/dva_majors/35119 ; https://t.me/wargonzo/18359 ; https://t.me/batalyon15/3884 ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0nd9L5qjMPUBozJ9nJgctt1AtJAaYcTudP3HK3PuQ6eiGWydBk2cuo3kYhU66EtLFl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid034L4k2JiTKkZ1r1tsFSShBdkpVz4TagSRc6bvRSCR9WF9CLeNLewn9EwCX1wENLZKl ; https://t.me/mod_russia/35954[61] https://t.me/rybar/57437 ; https://t.me/batalyon15/3884[62] https://x.com/Ryan72101/status/1760809579762376768?s=20; https://t.me/mmyrusskiyeinamnestydno/2014; https://x.com/GeoConfirmed/status/1761058302572576957?s=20 (Kamyanske)[63] .https://t.me/mod_russia/35954 ; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-20-2024[64] https://x.com/666_mancer/status/1760727484428112378?s=20 ; https://t.me/LeXFRONT/174[65] https://suspilne dot media/691458-ukrainskij-vijskovij-z-krinok-vorogu-ne-vdalosa-zakripitisa-na-placdarmi/ ; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-19-2024[66] https://t.me/dva_majors/35119 ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0nd9L5qjMPUBozJ9nJgctt1AtJAaYcTudP3HK3PuQ6eiGWydBk2cuo3kYhU66EtLFl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid034L4k2JiTKkZ1r1tsFSShBdkpVz4TagSRc6bvRSCR9WF9CLeNLewn9EwCX1wENLZKl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02WmV7TBr9zZS6jj6gGYKTt2qmyG5hB7ZPiqYCAvioamrt1zcEWRZbQD6TcR2NDjfal[67] https://suspilne dot media/691458-ukrainskij-vijskovij-z-krinok-vorogu-ne-vdalosa-zakripitisa-na-placdarmi/[68] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0nd9L5qjMPUBozJ9nJgctt1AtJAaYcTudP3HK3PuQ6eiGWydBk2cuo3kYhU66EtLFl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid034L4k2JiTKkZ1r1tsFSShBdkpVz4TagSRc6bvRSCR9WF9CLeNLewn9EwCX1wENLZKl; https://t.me/kpszsu/10986 ; https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/23/vnochi-nad-ukrayinoyu-oboronczi-neba-znyshhyly-23-udarnyh-bpla/[69] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0nd9L5qjMPUBozJ9nJgctt1AtJAaYcTudP3HK3PuQ6eiGWydBk2cuo3kYhU66EtLFl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid034L4k2JiTKkZ1r1tsFSShBdkpVz4TagSRc6bvRSCR9WF9CLeNLewn9EwCX1wENLZKl; https://t.me/kpszsu/10986 ; https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/23/vnochi-nad-ukrayinoyu-oboronczi-neba-znyshhyly-23-udarnyh-bpla/[70] https://t.me/SJTF_Odes/6479[71] https://t.me/rybar/57475 ; https://t.me/dva_majors/35136 ; https://t.me/rybar/57479 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/114118 ; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/54262[72] https://interfax.com dot ua/news/interview/969223.html[73] https://interfax.com dot ua/news/interview/969223.html[74] https://interfax.com dot ua/news/interview/969223.html[75] https://isw.pub/UkrWar021824[76] http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/73529[77] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-january-11-2024[78] https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/23/ukrayina-vyroblyatyme-strileczku-zbroyu-za-standartamy-nato/; https://ukroboronprom dot com.ua/news/ukroboronprom-skladatime-strilecku-zbroyu-vidpovidno-do-standartiv-nato-za-licenziinoyu-ugodoyu-z-ceska-zbrojovka[79] https://mil.in dot ua/uk/news/ukrayina-otrymala-desyatky-sanitarnyh-m113-shhe-kilka-soten-ochikuyetsya-najblyzhchym-chasom-umyerov/[80] https://www.radiosvoboda dot org/a/skhemy-ukrayinski-dity-bilorus/32831012.html; https://suspilne dot media/690838-ditam-iz-okupovanih-teritorij-navazuut-proradanski-narativi-u-taborah-u-bilorusi-rozsliduvanna-radio-svoboda/[81] https://www.radiosvoboda dot org/a/skhemy-ukrayinski-dity-bilorus/32831012.html; https://suspilne dot media/690838-ditam-iz-okupovanih-teritorij-navazuut-proradanski-narativi-u-taborah-u-bilorusi-rozsliduvanna-radio-svoboda/[82] https://www.radiosvoboda dot org/a/skhemy-ukrayinski-dity-bilorus/32831012.html; https://suspilne dot media/690838-ditam-iz-okupovanih-teritorij-navazuut-proradanski-narativi-u-taborah-u-bilorusi-rozsliduvanna-radio-svoboda/[83] https://www.radiosvoboda dot org/a/skhemy-ukrayinski-dity-bilorus/32831012.html; https://suspilne dot media/690838-ditam-iz-okupovanih-teritorij-navazuut-proradanski-narativi-u-taborah-u-bilorusi-rozsliduvanna-radio-svoboda/[84] https://www.radiosvoboda dot org/a/skhemy-ukrayinski-dity-bilorus/32831012.html; https://suspilne dot media/690838-ditam-iz-okupovanih-teritorij-navazuut-proradanski-narativi-u-taborah-u-bilorusi-rozsliduvanna-radio-svoboda/[85] https://tass dot ru/obschestvo/20067089[86] https://t.me/shevchenko_yas/10073 ; https://t.me/PushilinDenis/4314[87] Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Deputy Chief Major General Vadym Skibitskyi stated on February 23 that[88] https://mil.in dot ua/uk/news/bilorus-rozpochala-modernizatsiyu-vlasnyh-reak tyvnyh-system-uragan/; https://motolko dot help/ru-news/belarusskaya-armiya-nachala-modernizacziyu-uraganov/

[Author: Unknown]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 2/26/24 11:45pm
Annika Ganzeveld, Andie Parry, Johanna Moore, Amin Soltani, Kathryn Tyson, and Nicholas CarlInformation Cutoff: 2:00 pm ET The Iran Update provides insights into Iranian and Iranian-sponsored activities abroad that undermine regional stability and threaten US forces and interests. It also covers events and trends that affect the stability and decision-making of the Iranian regime. The Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) provides these updates regularly based on regional events. For more on developments in Iran and the region, see our interactive map of Iran and the Middle East.Note: CTP and ISW have refocused the update to cover the Israel-Hamas war. The new sections address developments in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Lebanon, and Syria, as well as noteworthy activity from Iran’s Axis of Resistance. We do not report in detail on war crimes because these activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We utterly condemn violations of the laws of armed conflict and the Geneva Conventions and crimes against humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports. Click here to see CTP and ISW’s interactive map of Israeli ground operations. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report. Click here to subscribe to the Iran Update.Russia may be setting conditions to supplant the United States as a security partner in Iraq in anticipation of the United States possibly reducing its military presence there. Russian Ambassador to Iraq Elbrus Kutrashev has met with several senior Iraqi political and military officials to discuss security cooperation since late January 2024. Kutrashev met with:Iraqi Shia cleric and politician Ammar al Hakim on January 31;Iraqi Popular Mobilization Committee Chairman Faleh al Fayyadh on February 1;Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammad Shia al Sudani on February 5; andAsaib Ahl al Haq Secretary General Qais al Khazali on February 20.Kutrashev’s meetings notably included discussing deepening security cooperation with prominent Iranian-backed security figures. Kutrashev and Fayyadh discussed “exchanging experiences” between Russia and the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), which is an Iraqi security service that contains several Iranian-backed Shia militias.[1] Kutrashev also discussed Russian support for the Iraqi armed forces when meeting with Khazali.[2] Iraqi state media reported that Kutrashev and Khazali discussed Russia’s role in “arming and developing the capabilities of Iraqi security and military forces.”[3] Engaging Khazali on this subject is especially noteworthy, given that he heads Iranian-backed militia Asaib Ahl al Haq, which is part of the PMF. Kutrashev and Khazali also discussed counterterrorism cooperation. Kutrashev previously told Russian media in January 2024 that Russia seeks to expand its “presence” in Iraq and “invest additional resources in areas related to security.”[4]Iran and its Iraqi proxy and partner militias have intensified their campaign to expel the United States from Iraq since October 2023 and have accordingly launched regular attacks on US forces in Iraq and Syria within this timeframe.[5] These attacks aim to erode US willingness to maintain a military presence in the Middle East.[6] The United States and Iraqi federal government began negotiations over the status of the US-led international coalition in Iraq in late January 2024, which is around the same time that Kutrashev’s meetings began.[7] The United States and international coalition forces are deployed in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi federal government to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.Russia may seek to replace the United States as the main provider of military equipment and training to the Iraqi armed forces. An Iraqi Parliamentary Security and Defense Committee member claimed on February 20 that the United States has threatened to stop providing military equipment and training to Iraq to pressure the Iraqi federal government to keep US forces.[8] CTP-ISW cannot verify this claim. Russia could exploit a potential vacuum in US military support to Iraq by providing Iraqi forces with small arms and spare parts in the short-term. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would likely prevent it from being able to supply Iraqi forces with high-end systems, such as tanks, helicopters, and aircraft, however. The US Defense Department reported in February 2023 that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has hindered Iraq’s ability to access spare parts for its Russian-designed Mi-17 helicopters.[9] The United States began replacing Iraq’s Mi-17 helicopters with US-made helicopters around February 2023.[10]Key Takeaways:Iraq: Russia may be setting conditions to supplant the United States as a security partner in Iraq in anticipation of the United States possibly reducing its military presence there.Northern Gaza Strip: The Israel Defense Forces launched a new, “division-wide” clearing operation in the Zaytoun and Shujaiya neighborhoods in eastern Gaza City.Southern Gaza Strip: The Israel Defense Forces assessed that it will complete ground operations in Khan Younis in the next few days, according to an Israeli Army Radio correspondent.Political Negotiations: Hamas Political Bureau Chairman Ismail Haniyeh arrived in Cairo to discuss a ceasefire in Gaza with Egyptian officials.West Bank: Israeli forces clashed with Palestinian fighters nine times.Southern Lebanon and Golan Heights: Lebanese Hezbollah conducted at least six attacks from southern Lebanon into northern Israel.Yemen: The Houthis claimed three drone attacks targeting US and Israeli targets.Iran: International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi said that Iran is continuing to produce highly enriched uranium at an elevated rate. Gaza StripAxis of Resistance campaign objectives:Erode the will of the Israeli political establishment and public to launch and sustain a major ground operation into the Gaza StripDegrade IDF material and morale around the Gaza Strip.The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched a new, “division-wide” clearing operation in the Zaytoun and Shujaiya neighborhoods in eastern Gaza City on February 20.[11] An Israeli Army Radio correspondent said that two brigades will clear the remaining Hamas infrastructure in eastern Gaza City over the next several weeks.[12] Local Palestinian sources reported Israeli armor operated on Road 8 and near the Dawla Roundabout in southern Zaytoun on February 20. Israeli ground forces have not operated in these areas at a large scale since late December 2023.[13] Israeli forces concluded a similar division-wide clearing operation in western Gaza City on February 15.[14] The IDF disclosed through an Israeli Army Radio correspondent on February 5 that it identified a Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) cell in Zaytoun neighborhood as responsible for most of the rocket attacks into Israel in recent weeks.[15]The IDF Arabic-language spokesperson issued evacuation orders for parts of Jabalia and Turkmen neighborhood south of Gaza City on February 20.[16] The order requested residents immediately evacuate to the al Mawasi humanitarian zone in the southwest Gaza Strip. Palestinian journalists reported Israeli ground forces operated within the evacuation zone on February 20.[17]The IDF assessed that it will complete ground operations in Khan Younis in the next few days, according to an Israeli Army Radio correspondent.[18] Israeli forces operating under the 36th Division, 98th Division, and 162nd Division continued to clear Khan Younis of Palestinian militia infrastructure, weapons, and fighters.[19] Israeli forces are killing about half the Palestinian fighters per day than they did at the start of the operation in Khan Younis, according to unspecified IDF sources.[20] The IDF estimated that it has killed about 2,900 Palestinian fighters in Khan Younis since beginning operations there.[21] The 98th Division, the division leading clearing operations in Khan Younis, will deploy to Rafah or the central Gaza Strip in the coming days.[22]Palestinian militias continued to attack Israeli forces in Khan Younis on February 20. PIJ fighters targeted six Israeli infantrymen who were operating in a building with a thermobaric rocket in western Khan Younis refugee camp.[23] Hamas fighters targeted another six Israeli infantrymen with an explosive device in western Khan Younis City.[24] Both groups claimed the attacks killed and wounded Israeli forces. US and Israeli officials quoted in Axios disclosed that the IDF may not advance into Rafah until mid-April, despite Israeli officials' public announcements about an earlier timeline.[25] Israeli War Cabinet Minster Benny Gantz said on February 18 that Israeli forces will enter Rafah at the start of Ramadan around March 10 if Hamas does not release the remaining Israeli hostages the group holds.[26] The IDF is expected to present an operational plan for a Rafah ground operation and civilian evacuation to the Israeli security cabinet in the coming days.[27]The Israeli Chief of Staff Major General Herzi Halevi issued a letter to Israeli commanders stressing the standard conduct of war on February 20.[28] Halevi wrote, “we are not on a killing spree, revenge, or genocide” and issued orders to “not to use force where it is not required, to distinguish between a terrorist and [not] a terrorist, not to take anything that is not ours a souvenir or a military item and not to shoot revenge videos.”[29] He also noted that the IDF would begin to pursue absentee soldiers.Hamas Political Bureau Chairman Ismail Haniyeh arrived in Cairo to discuss a ceasefire in Gaza with Egyptian officials on February 20.[30] US National Security Council Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk will hold talks with Egyptian officials on February 21 before meeting with top Israeli officials the next day.[31] The Qatari Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson confirmed that all parties are participating in ongoing hostage exchange deal talks.[32] Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined to send an Israeli delegation to Cairo for follow-up talks on February 14.[33]Palestinian militias did not conduct indirect fire attacks from the Gaza Strip into Israel on February 20.West BankAxis of Resistance campaign objectives:Draw IDF assets and resources toward the West Bank and fix them thereIsraeli forces have clashed with Palestinian fighters nine times in the West Bank since the CTP-ISW's last data cutoff on February 19[34] This map is not an exhaustive depiction of clashes and demonstrations in the West Bank.|Southern Lebanon and Golan HeightsAxis of Resistance campaign objectives:Draw IDF assets and resources toward northern Israel and fix them thereSet conditions for successive campaigns into northern Israel|Lebanese Hezbollah has conducted at least six attacks from southern Lebanon into northern Israel since CTP-ISW's last data cutoff on February 19.[35]  Hezbollah claimed six attacks using rockets and unspecified guided munitions targeting Israeli forces and military infrastructure north of Margaliot.[36]  The IDF confirmed that Hezbollah fired an anti-tank guided missile that detonated near Margaliot.[37]Recorded reports of attacks; CTP-ISW cannot independently verify impact.Iran and Axis of ResistanceAxis of Resistance campaign objectives:Demonstrate the capability and willingness of Iran and the Axis of Resistance to escalate against the United States and Israel on multiple frontsSet conditions to fight a regional war on multiple frontsThe United States and Iranian-backed Iraqi militias reached an “undeclared truce” during a meeting at Baghdad International Airport on January 29, according to an independent Iraqi outlet.[38] The truce followed the one-way drone attack that killed three US service members in northeastern Jordan on January 28.[39] Western media has attributed the attack to Iranian-backed Iraqi militia Kataib Hezbollah.[40] The US delegation’s meetings with Iranian-backed Iraqi militia leaders and Iraqi officials coincided with IRGC Quds Force Commander Brigadier General Esmail Ghaani’s visit to Baghdad on January 29.[41] Reuters reported that Ghaani directed the militias to “pause” their attacks targeting US forces during his visit to Baghdad.[42] Kataib Hezbollah subsequently announced the suspension of its “military and security operations” targeting US forces on January 30.[43] An independent Iraqi outlet claimed that another Iranian-backed Iraqi militia, Harakat Hezbollah al Nujaba, initially vowed to continue its attacks targeting US forces before suspending its attacks “without an official announcement.”[44] The US Defense Department deputy press secretary stated on February 14 that Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria had not attacked US forces since February 4.[45] The Islamic Resistance in Iraq has not claimed an attack targeting US forces in this time.[46] An unspecified security source told Reuters on February 10 that US air defense systems intercepted one-way attack drones targeting Conoco Mission Support Site in eastern Syria, however.[47]The rate of intra-Shia assassinations in Iraq has increased in February 2024, highlighting schisms among between the Shia factions.Unspecified gunmen shot and killed a senior Asaib Ahl al Haq official in Maysan Province on February 4.[48] CTP-ISW previously assessed that followers of Iraqi nationalist Shia cleric Moqtada al Sadr may have been responsible.[49] Sadr’s followers, known as Sadrists, have significant influence in Maysan Province, and Sadrist militiamen have previously assassinated local Asaib Ahl al Haq-affiliated officials.[50]Unspecified gunmen shot and killed two of Hadi al Ameri’s relatives in northern Baghdad on February 18.[51] Ameri is the secretary general of the Iranian-backed Badr Organization. The Iraqi Interior Ministry claimed that the gunman assassinated Ameri’s relatives due to a “land dispute.”[52]Unspecified gunmen kidnapped and killed a Sadrist named Ayser al Khafaji in Babil Province on February 19.[53] Sadrist social media accounts blamed Khafaji’s death on Asaib Ahl al Haq.[54] Sadrists and members of the Khafaji clan—a major Shia clan in southern Iraq—gathered in Hillah, Babil Province, on February 20 to protest Khafaji’s death.[55]The Houthis claimed three drone attacks targeting US and Israeli targets on February 20.[56] Houthi military spokesperson Yahya Saree said that Houthi fighters launched an unspecified number of drones targeting US Navy ships in the Red Sea and Eilat on February 20.[57] He added that Houthi fighters fired anti-ship missiles at the Israeli MSC Silver in the Gulf of Aden on the same date.[58]An unspecified merchant vessel transiting through the Red Sea reported that two drones followed it for approximately 30 minutes on February 19.[59]US Central Command (CENTCOM) conducted strikes on Houthi targets on February 19 and 20 that presented “imminent threats” to merchant and US naval vessels in the region.[60] US forces destroyed a one-way attack drone prepared to launch from western Yemen.[61] US and coalition forces separately intercepted 10 one-way attack drones over the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.[62] The USS Laboon intercepted a likely Houthi anti-ship cruise missile ”headed in its direction.”[63]The French Ministry of Defense reported on February 20 that a French frigate intercepted two Houthi one-way attack drones over the southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.[64] The French Ministry of Defense said the drone originated from Yemen.[65] International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi said on February 19 that Iran is continuing to produce highly enriched uranium at an elevated rate.[66] Grossi told Reuters that Iran is currently producing 60 percent highly enriched uranium (HEU) at a rate of seven kilograms per month. This rate is higher than its three kilogram per month enrichment rate between June and November 2023. Grossi added that he will travel to Tehran on an unspecified date in the coming weeks. Grossi last visited Tehran in March 2024.[67]Iran has stockpiled at least five nuclear bombs worth of HEU, given its stockpile of 128.3 kilograms of 60 percent HEU as of October 28, 2023.[68] The IAEA defines 25 kilograms of 20 percent or more enriched HEU as a ”significant quantity” for ”which the possibility of manufacturing a nuclear explosive cannot be excluded.”[69] Iran has no plausible civilian use for 60 percent HEU but can use it in a compact nuclear explosive or further enrich it to 90 percent weapons-grade uranium.[1] https://www.ninanews dot com/Website/News/Details?Key=1104265[2] https://www.ina dot iq/203516--.html[3] https://www.ina dot iq/203516--.html[4] https://tass dot com/politics/1737141[5] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-january-28-2024;https://www.reuters.com/world/us-launches-retaliatory-strikes-iraq-syria-nearly-40-reported-killed-2024-02-03/#:~:text=U.S.%20troops%20have%20been%20attacked,even%20before%20the%20latest%20strikes.[6] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-december-7-2023[7] https://apnews.com/article/iraq-us-talks-to-end-coalition-mission-f782db4c6550ab31ef02ef3c1793ee7b[8] https://alghadeertv dot iq/archives/260128[9]https://media.defense.gov/2023/Feb/07/2003157209/-1/-1/1/LEAD%20INSPECTOR%20GENERAL%20FOR%20OIR.PDF[10] https://media.defense.gov/2023/Feb/07/2003157209/-1/-1/1/LEAD%20INSPECTOR%20GENERAL%20FOR%20OIR.PDF[11] https://t.me/hamza20300/215544 ; https://t.me/hamza20300/215517 ; https://twitter.com/GLZRadio/status/1759939842937385257[12] https://twitter.com/GLZRadio/status/1759939842937385257[13] https://twitter.com/ytirawi/status/1759944234965070030 ; https://twitter.com/ytirawi/status/1759858948176257054 ; https://twitter.com/manniefabian/status/1741509504842273078[14] https://www.idf dot il/180657[15] https://twitter.com/Doron_Kadosh/status/1754408235539288189[16] https://twitter.com/AvichayAdraee/status/1759825957697774049[17] https://twitter.com/ytirawi/status/1759944234965070030 ; https://twitter.com/ytirawi/status/1759858948176257054[18] https://twitter.com/Doron_Kadosh/status/1759817974108598284[19] https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1759827737731121486 ; https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1759827742449873041 ; https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1759827746434306541 ; www dot idf.il/181632[20] https://twitter.com/Doron_Kadosh/status/1759817976549720287[21] https://twitter.com/Doron_Kadosh/status/1759817976549720287[22] https://twitter.com/Doron_Kadosh/status/1759817979535962472[23] https://t.me/sarayaps/17448[24] https://t.me/qassam1brigades/1632[25] https://www.axios.com/2024/02/20/biden-israel-egypt-netanyahu-rafah-gaza-hostages[26] https://www.timesofisrael dot com/liveblog_entry/gantz-no-peace-via-one-sided-moves-rafah-invasion-by-ramadan-if-hostages-not-home/[27] https://www.axios.com/2024/02/20/biden-israel-egypt-netanyahu-rafah-gaza-hostages[28] https://www dot idf.il/181466[29] https://www dot idf.il/181466[30] https://t.me/hamasps/19567[31] https://www.axios.com/2024/02/20/biden-israel-egypt-netanyahu-rafah-gaza-hostages[32] https://twitter.com/GLZRadio/status/1759921495877292131[33] https://apnews.com/article/israel-hamas-war-news-02-14-2024-15eb8cbd5f15d52928711193081fe9c6[34] https://t.me/QudsN/373053; https://t.me/QudsN/373066; https://t.me/jeninqassamm/4428; https://t.me/QudsN/373123; https://t.me/elaqsa_1965/5752; https://t.me/jeninqassamm/4432; https://t.me/elaqsa_1965/5765; https://t.me/elaqsa_1965/5766; https://t.me/elaqsa_1965/5772[35] https://t.me/mmirleb/2145 https://t.me/mmirleb/2126 ; https://twitter.com/GLZRadio/status/1759919153702490372 ; https://t.me/mmirleb/2128 ; https://t.me/mmirleb/2130 ; https://t.me/mmirleb/2132 ; https://t.me/mmirleb/2134 ; https://t.me/mmirleb/2136[36] https://t.me/mmirleb/2128 ; https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1759959750282706950 ; https://t.me/mmirleb/2130 ; https://t.me/mmirleb/2136 ; https://t.me/mmirleb/2126 ; https://t.me/mmirleb/2132 ; https://t.me/mmirleb/2134[37] https://twitter.com/GLZRadio/status/1759919153702490372[38] https://almadapaper dot net/view.php?cat=307114[39] https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/tower-22-base-jordan-struck-deadly-drone-attack/story?id=106766574[40] https://twitter.com/SkyNewsArabia_B/status/1751707831579902225[41] https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/iraqi-armed-groups-dial-down-us-attacks-request-iran-commander-2024-02-18/[42] https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/iraqi-armed-groups-dial-down-us-attacks-request-iran-commander-2024-02-18/[43] https://t.me/centerkaf/4214[44] https://almadapaper dot net/view.php?cat=307114[45] https://www.defense.gov/News/Transcripts/Transcript/Article/3676173/deputy-pentagon-press-secretary-sabrina-singh-holds-a-press-briefing/[46] https://t.me/ElamAlmoqawama/954[47] https://www.reuters.com/world/us-led-coalition-blocks-attacks-conoco-oil-field-syria-source-2024-02-10/[48] https://shafaq dot com/en/Iraq-News/Assassination-of-senior-Asaib-Ahl-al-Haq-leader-in-Maysan[49] https://www.criticalthreats.org/analysis/iran-update-february-5-2024[50] https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/03/10/why-muqtada-al-sadr-failed-to-reform-iraq/[51] https://almadapaper dot net/view.php?cat=307112;[52] https://www.shafaq dot com/ar/%D8%A3%D9%85%D9%80%D9%86/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%AE%D9%84%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%AA%D8%B9%D8%AA%D9%82%D9%84-%D9%85%D8%AA%D9%87%D9%85%D9%8A%D9%86-%D8%A7%D8%AB%D9%86%D9%8A%D9%86-%D8%A8%D9%82%D8%AA%D9%84-%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A8-%D9%84%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%B1%D9%8A-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%A8%D8%BA%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%AF[53] https://almadapaper dot net/view.php?cat=307112[54] https://twitter.com/Asr23267077/status/1759353382081310784?s=20[55] https://twitter.com/Asr23267077/status/1759946807855968637?s=20;https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/iran-losing-iraqs-tribes[56] https://x.com/army21ye/status/1759982767423545626?s=20[57] https://x.com/army21ye/status/1759982767423545626?s=20[58] https://twitter.com/army21ye/status/1759982767423545626?s=20[59] https://twitter.com/UK_MTO/status/1759662180872421450?s=20[60] https://twitter.com/CENTCOM/status/1760006290368078258[61] https://twitter.com/CENTCOM/status/1760006290368078258[62] https://twitter.com/CENTCOM/status/1760006290368078258[63] https://twitter.com/CENTCOM/status/1760006290368078258[64] https://twitter.com/EtatMajorFR/status/1759940375156846833 ; https://www.barrons.com/news/french-navy-downs-two-drones-over-red-sea-a5e7ebbf[65] https://twitter.com/EtatMajorFR/status/1759940375156846833[66] https://www.reuters.com/world/iaea-chief-says-irans-nuclear-enrichment-activity-remains-high-2024-02-19/[67] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/3/4/iaea-head-in-iran-for-nuclear-talks[68] https://www.iaea.org/sites/default/files/23/11/gov2023-57.pdf[69] https://www.iaea.org/sites/default/files/iaea_safeguards_glossary.pdf

[Author: Institute for the Study of War]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 2/26/24 11:09pm
 Karolina Hird, Riley Bailey, Nicole Wolkov, Grace Mappes, George Barros, and Frederick W. KaganFebruary 20, 2024, 8:45pm ETClick here to see ISW’s interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.Click here to see ISW’s 3D control of terrain topographic map of Ukraine. Use of a computer (not a mobile device) is strongly recommended for using this data-heavy tool.Click here to access ISW’s archive of interactive time-lapse maps of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These maps complement the static control-of-terrain map that ISW produces daily by showing a dynamic frontline. ISW will update this time-lapse map archive monthly.Note: The data cut-off for this product was 2pm ET on February 20. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the February 21 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.Ukraine has been defending itself against illegal Russian military intervention and aggression for 10 years.[1] Russia violated its commitments to respect Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity and began its now decade-long military intervention in Ukraine on February 20, 2014 when Russian soldiers without identifying insignia (also known colloquially as “little green men” and, under international law, as illegal combatants), deployed to Crimea.[2] The deployment of these Russian soldiers out of uniform followed months of protests in Ukraine against pro-Russian Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych for refusing to sign an association agreement with the European Union (EU) that the Ukrainian Rada had approved.[3] The Yanukovych government killed and otherwise abused peaceful Ukrainian protestors, leading to an organized protest movement calling for Yanukovych’s resignation. This Ukrainian movement — the Euromaidan Movement — culminated in Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity during which the Rada voted to oust Yanukovych who then fled to Russia with the Kremlin’s aid. Russian President Vladimir Putin viewed these events as intolerable and launched a hybrid war against Ukraine as the Euromaidan Movement was still underway with the goal of reestablishing Russian control over all of Ukraine.  Russia’s military intervention in Crimea and the Donbas in 2014 violated numerous Russian international commitments to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, including Russia’s recognition of Ukraine as an independent state in 1991 and the 1994 Budapest Memorandum in which Russia specifically committed not to undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty or territorial integrity.[4]Russia’s grand strategic objective of regaining control of Ukraine has remained unchanged in the decade since its illegal intervention in Ukraine began. Russia’s overarching strategic objective in Ukraine, as first manifested in the 2014 invasion of Crimea and the Donbas, has been and remains the destruction of Ukraine’s sovereignty and the re-establishment of a pro-Russian Ukrainian government subservient to Moscow’s direction. Russia began immediate efforts to dismantle and eradicate Ukrainian identity in Crimea, consolidate its military presence on the peninsula, and forcibly integrate Crimea into the Russian Federation along multiple avenues, all while promoting a parallel political subversion campaign to destroy Ukraine’s ability to resist dominant Russian influence.[5] Russia worked hard to obfuscate its grand strategic objectives of regaining control of Ukraine between 2014 and the start of the full-scale invasion in 2022. The Kremlin successfully employed disinformation to obfuscate Russia’s objectives in Ukraine for many Western leaders. Putin learned valuable lessons from the way the West responded to Russia’s initial invasion of Ukraine and tailored Russia’s information operations to mask his grand strategic intent towards Ukraine in the years leading up to the 2022 full-scale invasion. Putin succeeded in convincing many Western leaders that Russia had limited objectives in Ukraine: that Moscow only sought control over Crimea, or that Russia sought only to occupy parts of eastern Ukraine, for example.[6] Russia also obfuscated its true intentions in Ukraine by promulgating the lie that Russia’s actions in Ukraine were aimed at preventing NATO expansion. The Euromaidan Movement and the Revolution of Dignity were never about NATO — they were about Ukraine’s desire to associate with the EU. In the years between 2014 and 2022, however, Russia managed to pollute the global information space with the fallacy that pro-NATO policies in Ukraine forced Russia’s hand. While the mechanisms Russia uses to cloak its intentions in Ukraine have adapted and evolved in the past decade, Russia’s grand strategic objectives of controlling Ukraine and denying Ukrainians their right to choose their own future have persisted and likely will not change until Russia is defeated.  The Kremlin continues information operations to persuade Western audiences and leaders that Russia has limited objectives in Ukraine in order to fuel calls for negotiations on terms that would destroy Ukraine’s independence and damage the West.Russian military intelligence is reportedly learning from its failures in recent years and has renewed efforts against NATO states.[7] The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) published a report on February 20 arguing that Russian special services aim to expand their capacity in several ways that pose strategic threats to NATO members, including rebuilding their recruitment, training, and support apparatus to better infiltrate European countries; adopting the Wagner Group’s former functions and pursuing aggressive partnerships with African countries to supplant Western partnerships; and using Chechen Republic Head Ramzan Kadyrov to significantly expand Russian influence among Chechen and Muslim populations in Europe and the Middle East to ultimately subvert Western interests.[8] RUSI noted that Russian intelligence services have suffered a slew of intelligence failures in the past several years, including the Russian Federal Security Service’s (FSB) botched poisoning of now-deceased opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the FSB’s overconfident assessment of Russian military capabilities ahead of the 2022 invasion of Ukraine, the mass expulsion of Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) operatives from embassies across the globe, and Bellingcat’s exposure of the Russian Main Military Intelligence Directorate’s (GRU) Unit 29155’s failed poisoning of defected Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal.[9] RUSI noted that the GRU reformed Unit 29155 and formed a “Service for Special Activities” to increase operational security and data security and is beginning to recruit individuals with no military experience to make it harder for the West to identify them.[10] RUSI reported that Russian Presidential Administration Deputy Head Sergei Kiriyenko is in charge of creating “special committees” to run information operations against the West, an assessment that is consistent with previous reporting from the Washington Post about purported Kremlin documents outlining Kiriyenko’s roll in wide-scale disinformation campaigns.[11]The Ukrainian Center for Combating Disinformation similarly reported on February 20 that Russian special services have significantly increased their operations in NATO member states and Ukraine as part of large-scale disinformation efforts aimed at demoralizing the Ukrainian military.[12] Estonian Security Police, for example, reported that Estonian security services have detained 10 people for participating in alleged Russian special services activity in Estonia between December 2023 and February 2024.[13] Such subversive control tactics likely support the Kremlin’s near- and medium-term goals of spoiling Western military assistance to Ukraine and rebuilding intelligence capacities in support of long-term objectives against NATO states.Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu preened themselves on the Russian seizure of Avdiivka. Shoigu briefed Putin about the seizure of Avdiivka and the wider Russian war effort in Ukraine in a February 20 meeting during which Putin and Shoigu both amplified an information operation that the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) began on February 19 that aims to sow resentment and distrust against the Ukrainian command for an allegedly chaotic Ukrainian withdrawal from Avdiivka.[14] Shoigu used the briefing and a subsequent interview with Kremlin newswire TASS to portray the five month long attritional Russian offensive operation to seize Avdiivka as an astounding success with minimal losses, despite the fact that Ukrainian and Russian estimates place Russian losses in the fight for Avdiivka between 16,000 and 47,000.[15] Shoigu argued that the Russian operation to seize Avdiivka was an operational success because Ukrainian forces had long fortified the settlement, but Shoigu did not claim that the seizure of the settlement would provide any specific operational benefits — as he recently claimed about the Russian seizure of other small settlements in Donetsk Oblast.[16] Shoigu also claimed that Russian forces conducted up to 450 high-precision airstrikes per day during the last days of the Russian effort to seize Avdiivka.[17] ISW assesses that Russian forces likely established temporary limited and localized air superiority during this time, and Shoigu is likely attempting to portray this temporary period as a persisting Russian capability.[18] Putin’s and Shoigu’s attempts to establish the seizure of Avdiivka as a major battlefield victory within the Russian information space likely aim to portray the Russian war effort in Ukraine as increasingly successful and portray Putin as a competent wartime president ahead of his assured reelection in March 2024.[19] The Kremlin’s efforts to highlight Russian success in Avdiivka also mutually supports increasing Russian efforts to use the seizure of the settlement to generate panic in the Ukrainian information space and weaken Ukrainian morale.[20]Shoigu also claimed that Russian forces completely seized Krynky in east (left) bank Kherson Oblast, although available open-source visual evidence and Ukrainian and Russian reporting suggests that Ukrainian forces maintain their limited bridgehead in the area. Shoigu claimed during his briefing with Putin that Russian forces cleared Krynky, although Putin claimed that Russian Airborne Forces (VDV) and “Dnepr” Grouping of Forces Commander Colonel General Mikhail Teplinsky told him that a handful of Ukrainian personnel remained in the settlement.[21] Shoigu refuted Teplinsky’s claim and portrayed Russian efforts to eliminate the bridgehead as a successfully completed effort and praised unspecified VDV elements and the 810th Naval Infantry Brigade as distinguished units for their role in the operation, a typical Kremlin accolade following the Russian seizure of a tactical objective.[22] ISW has not observed any visual evidence of recent notable Russian advances near the limited Ukrainian bridgehead in and near Krynky as of the time of this publication, and Ukrainian Southern Operational Command Spokesperson Colonel Nataliya Humenyuk reported that Ukrainian forces continue to gradually expand their bridgehead in the area.[23] Russian milbloggers claimed that regular positional fighting continued near Krynky on February 19 and 20 and did not note any Russian success in the area.[24]The Kremlin likely prematurely claimed the Russian seizure of Krynky to reinforce its desired informational effects ahead of the March 2024 presidential election, although the Kremlin is likely setting expectations that the Russian military may fail to meet. Humenyuk identified Russian efforts to eliminate the Ukrainian bridgehead as a Russian effort to achieve informational objective ahead of the Russian presidential election, and Shoigu framed the Russian effort in east bank Kherson Oblast as similar to the seizure of Avdiivka.[25] Shoigu claimed that Russian forces have destroyed up to 3,500 Ukrainian personnel in east bank Kherson Oblast since the start of larger-than-usual Ukrainian ground operations in the area in October 2023.[26] Shoigu called the alleged Russian seizure of Krynky the official end of the Summer 2023 Ukrainian counteroffensive.[27] The Kremlin notably has delayed acknowledging the Russian seizure of the theater-wide initiative in Ukraine, likely out of potential concerns about Russian capabilities to advance, and Shoigu likely formally announced the “end” of the Ukrainian counteroffensive to publicly highlight that Russia has the initiative.[28] The Kremlin’s willingness to rhetorically address the tempo and initiative of Russian offensive operations in Ukraine may be due to increasing Kremlin confidence about Russian prospects and a conscious effort to support Kremlin narratives about the war as the presidential elections approach. The Kremlin may increasingly claim battlefield victories in Ukraine without full assurances of Russian tactical and operational success to support informational efforts that simultaneously glorify Putin and demoralize Ukraine, although such increasing rhetorical confidence may create expectations in the Russian information space that the Russian military cannot meet. Chechen Akhmat Spetsnaz Commander Apty Alaudinov notably claimed that he expects that Russian forces will successfully complete Putin’s Special Military Operation by September 2024, a forecast that is extremely implausible.[29]The New York Times (NYT) reported that the Ukrainian withdrawal from Avdiivka may have left hundreds of Ukrainian personnel “unaccounted” for. The NYT reported on February 20, citing two Ukrainian soldiers, that about 850 to 1,000 Ukrainian personnel “appear to have been captured or are unaccounted for” following the Ukrainian withdrawal from Avdiivka.[30] The NYT reported that unspecified senior Western officials stated that the range of apparent Ukrainian personnel losses “seemed accurate.” The NYT reported that some unnamed Western officials stated that Ukrainian forces failed to conduct an orderly withdrawal from Avdiivka on February 16 and 17, which resulted in an apparent "significant number of soldiers captured.” Personnel who are “unaccounted for” include those killed in action, wounded in action, missing in action, and captured. ISW has not yet observed open-source visual evidence of massive Ukrainian personnel losses or the Russian captures of Ukrainian prisoners at such a scale, and the Russian information space customarily displays such evidence when it has it. The lack of open-source evidence does not demonstrate that the NYT’s report is false, however, and ISW continues to monitor the information space for evidence on which to base an assessment of the outcome of the Ukrainian withdrawal. The Kyiv Independent reported on February 20 that some Ukrainian forces conducted a disorderly withdrawal from the Zenit strongpoint south of Avdiivka and experienced high losses.[31] ISW has observed that this Ukrainian position was the only identified tactically encircled position at the time of the Ukrainian withdrawal from Avdiivka.Ukrainian officials launched an investigation into additional apparent Russian violations of the Geneva Conventions on prisoners of war (POWs) in Zaporizhia Oblast.[32] The Ukrainian Prosecutor General stated on February 20 that it launched an investigation into footage published on February 20 showing Russian forces executing three Ukrainian POWs near Robotyne on February 18.[33] The killing of POWs violates Article III of the Geneva Convention on the treatment of POWs.[34] The Ukrainian Prosecutor General previously launched investigations into footage showing a Russian execution of Ukrainian POWs and Russian soldiers using Ukrainian POWs as human shields near Robotyne in December 2023.[35] ISW has recently reported on several such apparent war crimes in Zaporizhia and Donetsk oblasts.[36]  Russian President Vladimir Putin made a point of remarking on Russia’s treatment of Ukrainian POWs on February 20, claimed that Russia holds POWs in accordance with international conventions, and declared that Russian forces must act in the same way in Avdiivka, likely in an attempt to deflect responsibility for high-profile apparent Russian war crimes away from himself. Putin is likely concerned about international repercussions for his subordinates’ actions.[37] The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Putin in March 2023, which has likely impeded his ability to travel internationally, and Putin may have explicitly addressed Ukrainian POWs given recent international attention on Russian atrocities in Ukraine in order to protect himself against another such international legal ruling against him.[38]Key Takeaways:Ukraine has been defending itself against illegal Russian military intervention and aggression for 10 years.Russia’s grand strategic objective of regaining control of Ukraine has remained unchanged in the decade since its illegal intervention in Ukraine began.Russia worked hard to obfuscate its grand strategic objectives of regaining control of Ukraine between 2014 and the start of the full-scale invasion in 2022.Russian military intelligence is reportedly learning from its failures in recent years and has renewed efforts against NATO states.Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu preened themselves on the Russian seizure of Avdiivka.Shoigu also claimed that Russian forces completely seized Krynky in east (left) bank Kherson Oblast, although available open-source visual evidence and Ukrainian and Russian reporting suggests that Ukrainian forces maintain their limited bridgehead in the area.The Kremlin likely prematurely claimed the Russian seizure of Krynky to reinforce its desired informational effects ahead of the March 2024 presidential election, although the Kremlin is likely setting expectations that the Russian military may fail to meet.The New York Times (NYT) reported that the Ukrainian withdrawal from Avdiivka may have left hundreds of Ukrainian personnel “unaccounted” for.Ukrainian officials launched an investigation into additional apparent Russian violations of the Geneva Conventions on prisoners of war (POWs) in Zaporizhia Oblast.Russian forces made a confirmed advance west of Avdiivka amid continued positional engagements along the entire frontline.The Kremlin continues to promote Russia’s efforts to expand its defense industrial base (DIB).Zaporizhia Oblast occupation authorities are expanding public services provision in occupied parts of the oblast to consolidate bureaucratic control and generate dependencies on the occupation administration. We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because these activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We will continue to evaluate and report on the effects of these criminal activities on the Ukrainian military and the Ukrainian population and specifically on combat in Ukrainian urban areas. We utterly condemn Russian violations of the laws of armed conflict and the Geneva Conventions and crimes against humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.   Russian Main Effort – Eastern Ukraine (comprised of two subordinate main efforts)Russian Subordinate Main Effort #1 – Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and encircle northern Donetsk OblastRussian Subordinate Main Effort #2 – Capture the entirety of Donetsk OblastRussian Supporting Effort – Southern AxisRussian Air, Missile, and Drone CampaignRussian Mobilization and Force Generation EffortsRussian Technological AdaptationsActivities in Russian-occupied areasUkrainian Defense Industrial Base EffortsRussian Information Operations and NarrativesSignificant Activity in BelarusRussian Main Effort – Eastern UkraineRussian Subordinate Main Effort #1 – Luhansk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and northern Donetsk Oblast)Positional engagements continued along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line on February 20 but there were no confirmed changes to the frontline in this area. Russian and Ukrainian sources reported that fighting continued northeast of Kupyansk near Synkivka; southeast of Kupyansk near Tabaivka; north of Kreminna near Zhytlivka; west of Kreminna near Terny, Torske, and Yampolivka; and south of Kreminna near Bilohorivka.[39] Ukrainian Khortytsia Group of Forces Spokesperson Captain Ilya Yevlash noted that the Russian grouping in the Kupyansk-Kreminna direction is comprised of 122,000 personnel: 42,000 in the Kupyansk direction, 57,000 in the Lyman direction (west of Kreminna), and 23,000 in the Siversk direction (south of Kreminna).[40] Ukrainian military observer Kostyantyn Mashovets reported that elements of Russia’s 1st Tank Regiment and 15th Motorized Rifle Regiment (both of the 2nd Motorized Rifle Division, 1st Guards Tank Army, Western Military District [1st GTA, WMD]) are struggling to advance towards Kupyansk from the southeast near Tabaivka and Krokhmalne, so the Russian command has redeployed at least three assault units — each up to a company in size — to the area to support efforts to break through Ukrainian lines and advance northwest of Svatove.[41] Mashovets also noted that elements of the 6th Combined Arms Army (WMD) are trying to move across the Oskil River west of Synkivka to push on Kupyansk from the west bank of the river but are unable to do so because of heavy Ukrainian artillery fire.[42] Mashovets stated that elements of the 4th Tank Division (1st GTA, WMD) and 144th Motorized Rifle Division (20th Combined Arms Army, WMD) are operating west of the Terny-Yampoliva area and struggling to eliminate Ukrainian positions on the Zherebets River west of Kreminna.[43] Russian Subordinate Main Effort #2 – Donetsk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)Positional engagements continued near Bakhmut on February 20, but there were no confirmed changes to the frontline. Positional engagements continued northwest of Bakhmut near Bohdanivka and Khromove; west of Bakhmut near Ivanivske; and southwest of Bakhmut near Klishchiivka and Andriivka.[44] Ukrainian Khortytsia Group of Forces Spokesperson Captain Ilya Yevlash stated that Russian forces continue attempts to advance to Chasiv Yar (west of Bakhmut) and are transferring reserves to the Bakhmut direction.[45] Russian milbloggers claimed that the Russian military transferred some unspecified Russian forces from the Avdiivka direction to the Bakhmut area.[46] Elements of the Russian 331st Airborne (VDV) Regiment (98th VDV Division) continue operating northwest of Bakhmut.[47] Russian forces recently advanced northwest of Avdiivka. Geolocated footage published on February 20 indicates that Russian forces recently advanced on the eastern outskirts of Lastochkyne (northwest of Avdiivka).[48] Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) “Sparta” Battalion Commander and Speaker of the DNR Parliament Artem Zhoga claimed that Russian forces have cleared Avdiivka.[49] Positional engagements continued northwest of Avdiivka near Stepove and Lastochkyne; west of Avdiivka near Sieverne; and southwest of Avdiivka near Pervomaiske and Nevelske.[50] Elements of the Russian 30th Motorized Rifle Brigade (2nd Combined Arms Army [CAA], Central Military District) and 9th Motorized Rifle Brigade (1st DNR Army Corps [AC]) are reportedly operating near Lastochkyne and Pervomaiske, respectively.[51] Russian forces reportedly advanced southwest of Donetsk City amid continued positional engagements on February 20. Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces advanced in Pobieda (southwest of Donetsk City) along the O0532 (or T0524) Pobieda-Vuhledar highway, although ISW has not observed visual confirmation of this claim.[52] Russian and some Ukrainian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces withdrew from Pobieda, although ISW has not observed visual evidence of a Ukrainian withdrawal at this time.[53] Positional engagements continue west of Donetsk City near Heorhiivka and southwest of Donetsk City near Novomykhailivka and Pobieda.[54] Elements of the Russian 155th Naval Infantry Brigade (Pacific Fleet) and 39th Motorized Rifle Brigade (68th AC, Eastern Military District) reportedly continue operating near Novomykhailivka.[55] Elements of the Russian 238th Artillery Brigade (8th CAA, Southern Military District) reportedly continue operating near Heorhiivka.[56] Russian Supporting Effort – Southern Axis (Russian objective: Maintain frontline positions and secure rear areas against Ukrainian strikes)Russian forces recently marginally advanced near the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border as positional fighting continued in the area on February 20. Geolocated footage published on February 20 shows that Russian forces marginally advanced north of Shevchenko (southeast of Velyka Novosilka and southwest of Vuhledar).[57] Positional fighting continued southwest of Velyka Novosilka near Malynivka; south of Velyka Novosilka near Staromayorske; and southeast of Velyka Novosilka near Shevchenko, Prechystivka, and Zolota Nyva.[58] Footage published on February 19 and 20 shows elements of the Russian 35th Combined Arms Army (Eastern Military District [EMD]) striking Ukrainian positions near Hulyaipole and elements of the Russian 11th Air and Air Defense Forces Army (Russian Aerospace Forces and EMD) striking Ukrainian positions near Malynivka.[59] There were no confirmed changes to the frontline in the Robotyne area on February 20.[60] Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces captured a tactically significant height between Robotyne and Verbove (northeast of Robotyne) and that Russian forces have advanced between 700 meters and two kilometers forward during offensive operations in the area since February 17.[61] The milbloggers claimed that Russian forces, including elements of the 42nd Motorized Rifle Division (58th Combined Arms Army, Southern Military District) and Russian Airborne (VDV) elements, continued attacking Robotyne from the west and south between Verbove and Robotyne.[62] Some Russian milbloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces continue counterattacks in and near Robotyne to recapture lost positions.[63] Elements of the Russian BARS-1 (Russian Combat Army Reserve) formation are reportedly operating near Verbove, and elements of the Russian 136th Artillery Regiment (likely a reconstituted Soviet-era unit) are operating in the Orikhiv direction.[64] Positional fighting continued near Krynky on east (left) bank Kherson Oblast on February 20 despite Russian military officials’ claims that Russian forces completely captured the settlement.[65] Geolocated footage published on February 19 shows Ukrainian forces conducting a HIMARS strike against a Russian mobile Zala drone launcher near Stara Mayachka.[66] Footage posted on February 20 shows the Russian 81st Volunteer Spetsnaz Brigade operating near Krynky.[67]Russian Air, Missile, and Drone Campaign (Russian Objective: Target Ukrainian military and civilian infrastructure in the rear and on the frontline) Russian forces conducted a medium-sized combined drone and missile strike against Ukrainian rear areas on the morning of February 20. Ukraine’s Air Force reported that Russian forces launched two S-300/S-400 missiles from Belgorod Oblast; one Kh-31 air-to-surface missile from occupied Zaporizhia Oblast; and 23 Shahed-136/131 drones from Primorsko-Akhtarsk, Krasnodar Krai.[68] Ukrainian forces destroyed all 23 Shaheds over Kharkiv, Poltava, Kirovohrad, Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhia, Kherson, and Mykolaiv oblasts.[69] Ukrainian Air Force Spokesperson Colonel Yuriy Ihnat reported that Russian forces are increasingly operating A-50 long-range radar detection aircraft closer to Russian borders and in the direction of Belarus due to recent successful Ukrainian shootdowns of Russian aircraft, including fighter bombers and an A-50 over the Sea of Azov in January.[70]Russian Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts (Russian objective: Expand combat power without conducting general mobilization)The Kremlin continues to promote Russia’s efforts to expand its defense industrial base (DIB). Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed on February 20 that Russia has increased the production of tanks by a factor of six and is also focused on modernizing tanks.[71] Ukrainian sources previously stated that Russia’s reported tank production numbers in recent years largely reflect restored and modernized tanks drawn from storage rather than new production.[72] Latvian Defense Ministry's State Secretary Janis Garisons stated on December 13 that Russia can ”produce and repair” about 100-150 tanks per month, and Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev suggested in March 2023 that Russian can produce roughly 125 tanks per month.[73] Russia’s ability to modernize and use tanks retrieved from storage still gives Russian forces an advantage on the battlefield in the overall number of available tanks for operations.Russian First Deputy Presidential Chief of Staff Sergei Kiriyenko and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Trutnev reportedly created the “Soyuz” volunteer detachment comprised primarily of athletes.[74] Russian opposition outlet Vazhnye Istorii reported on February 20 that Kiriyenko and Trutnev raised 634 million rubles ($6.8 million) from Russian businesses, including Russian-state owned nuclear company Rosatom and Russian-state owned bank Sberbank, and recruited personnel through the Russian Union of Martial Arts (RSBI).[75] Vazhnye Istorii reported that personnel of the ”Soyuz” volunteer detachment trained at the Russian Special Forces University in Gudermes, Chechnya, and that RSBI Co-Chairman Ramil Gabbasov is the commander of the detachment.[76] The ”Soyuz” volunteer detachment reportedly deployed to Ukraine at an unspecified time after its creation in December 2023.[77]Russian Technological Adaptations (Russian objective: Introduce technological innovations to optimize systems for use in Ukraine) Nothing significant to report.Ukrainian Defense Industrial Efforts (Ukrainian objective: Develop its defense industrial base to become more self-sufficient in cooperation with US, European, and international partners)The Ukrainian General Staff reported on February 20 that Ukrainian defense industrial base (DIB) manufacturers have started serial production of 2S22 155mm self-propelled “Bohdana” artillery systems.[78] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that the “Bohdana” artillery system can shoot 100 shells per day and only needs to fire one shell to "warm up“ the artillery barrel whereas Soviet-era Msta-B artillery systems need to fire two shells to do so.[79]Swedish Minister of Defense Pål Jonson announced a $683 million security assistance package to Ukraine on February 20, Sweden’s largest aid package for Ukraine to date.[80] Jonson stated that the package will include artillery ammunition, RBS70 portable air defense systems, anti-tank missiles, Carl Gustaf recoilless rifles, hand grenades, 10 CB-90 fast assault watercraft, and 20 boats.[81] The aid package also includes roughly 1 billion Swedish Kroner ($96.5 million) for the joint Swedish-Danish procurement of CV-90 armored vehicles for Ukraine.[82]Canadian Defense Minister Bill Blair announced on February 19 that Canada will send more than 800 SkyRanger R70 drones to Ukraine as part of an upcoming aid package.[83] Blair stated that the drones are valued roughly at $95 million and that the package is a part of the $500 million of security assistance that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in June 2023.[84]Ukraine continues to sign agreements with German manufacturers aimed to expand Ukraine’s DIB. Ukrainian defense industry company Ukroboronprom announced on February 20 that it signed a memorandum of understanding with Germany company MDBA Deutschland GmbH for the research, development, and production of air defense systems, specifically for countering drones.[85] Germany company Dynamit Nobel Defense announced on February 20 that it is considering localizing production of Panzerfaust-3 anti-tank weapons in Germany as part of cooperation agreements that it signed with Ukroboronprom on February 17.[86]Germany is reportedly planning to provide Ukraine with long-range strike capabilities. German outlet BILD reported on February 20 that the Bundestag plans to vote on an aid package for Ukraine in the coming week that will include artillery ammunition, equipment, and weapons to Ukraine.[87] BILD reported that the draft proposal includes the delivery of additional long-range weapons systems ”to enable targeted attacks on strategically relevant targets” in the Russian rear and suggested that these systems might be Taurus missiles.[88]Activities in Russian-occupied areas (Russian objective: Consolidate administrative control of annexed areas; forcibly integrate Ukrainian citizens into Russian sociocultural, economic, military, and governance systems)Zaporizhia Oblast occupation authorities are expanding public service provision in occupied parts of the oblast to consolidate bureaucratic control and generate dependencies on the occupation administration. Zaporizhia Oblast occupation head Yevgeny Balitsky stated on February 20 that Russian authorities are opening the largest “My Documents” public services center in occupied Zaporizhia Oblast, which will provide over 30 public services to over 137,000 people.[89] The available public services include registration for real estate services, individual insurance account registration (SNILS), compulsory medical insurance, tax identification numbers, and other similar services.[90] The “My Documents” service functions throughout the Russian Federation and abroad to provide various public service documents to Russian citizens and is now operating in occupied Ukraine likely to force residents of occupied areas to interact with Russian bureaucratic organs to receive documents for the most basic public services.[91] ISW has assessed that such bureaucratic control programs allow occupation authorities to collect private data on residents of occupied areas and renders occupied areas reliant on the occupation administration for bureaucratic support.[92]Russian Information Operations and NarrativesRussia continues attempts to use its BRICS chairmanship to forward its foreign policy objects and expand Russian influence abroad. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela on February 20, and Maduro stated that Venezuela intends to join BRICS in the near future.[93] Maduro amplified boilerplate Kremlin narratives attempting to portray Russia as winning its war in Ukraine and blaming the West and NATO for the onset of the war.[94]Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko reiterated Kremlin narratives on February 20 that attempt to portray the West as conflict-seeking and a threat to both Russia and Belarus.[95] Lukashenko accused the West of attempting to sow internal instability in Belarus and conduct false flag attacks ultimately aimed at undermining Belarusian sovereignty.[96]Significant activity in Belarus (Russian efforts to increase its military presence in Belarus and further integrate Belarus into Russian-favorable frameworks and Wagner Group activity in Belarus)Nothing significant to report.Note: ISW does not receive any classified material from any source, uses only publicly available information, and draws extensively on Russian, Ukrainian, and Western reporting and social media as well as commercially available satellite imagery and other geospatial data as the basis for these reports. 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https://news.err dot ee/1609258853/iss-russian-special-services-behind-attack-on-estonian-minister-s-car[14] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-19-2024 ; http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/73506[15] https://t.me/tass_agency/232668 ; https://t.me/tass_agency/232678  ; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-18-2024[16] https://ria dot ru/20231225/marinka-1918010838.html ; http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/73126 ; https://t.me/tass_agency/232668 ; https://t.me/tass_agency/232678  ; http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/73506 ; https://t.me/tass_agency/232670 [17] https://t.me/tass_agency/232669[18] https://isw.pub/UkrWar021724[19] https://isw.pub/UkrWar021524[20] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-19-2024[21] http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/73506 ; https://t.me/tass_agency/232672 ; https://t.me/tass_agency/232675 ; 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http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/73506[26] http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/73506 ; https://t.me/tass_agency/232672 ; https://t.me/tass_agency/232675 ; https://t.me/tass_agency/232682 ; https://t.me/mod_russia/35833 [27] https://t.me/tass_agency/232672 ; https://t.me/tass_agency/232675 ; https://t.me/tass_agency/232682 ; https://t.me/mod_russia/35833  ; http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/73506 ; https://t.me/tass_agency/232674 ; https://t.me/tass_agency/232673    https://t.me/tass_agency/232671 ; https://t.me/tass_agency/232683 [28] https://isw.pub/UkrWar020224 ; https://isw.pub/UkrWar120123[29] https://t.me/tass_agency/232528 [30] https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/20/us/politics/ukraine-prisoners-avdiivka-russia.html[31] https://kyivindependent dot com/avdiivka-defenders-forced-to-leave-wounded-behind-escape-encirclement-by-foot/[32] https://t.me/pgo_gov_ua/21886[33] https://t.me/pgo_gov_ua/21886 ; https://twitter.com/etoj_vot/status/1759754351822700708?s=20 ; https://twitter.com/albafella1/status/1759650870877159548[34] https://ihl-databases.icrc.org/en/ihl-treaties/gciii-1949/article-3[35] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-december-14-2023 ; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-december-28-2023[36] https://isw.pub/UkrWar021824; https://isw.pub/UkrWar021024[37] https://t.me/tass_agency/232686[38] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-august-22-2023 ; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-july-24-2023[39] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0VyQ3dwh2J1TxqhvAhBLhAHgYjnMRXKUwg3unBdUgzZhpjJUkeRGFUiStmfYmrnbal; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0hDvottERJVYGgXyFxmVtX5PS7HZwgMJAsEbHa4SepM5HF4ij27nUhodh9eP98T4yl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02R9pSkf2iQ9Xg1XmoHqCAV2FaYXchdq1uYAQNJQPakrGYZNfjNmSr4GkkzX8zqG5Tl ; https://t.me/synegubov/8504 https://t.me/mod_russia/35820; https://t.me/mod_russia/35818 ; https://t.me/wargonzo/18301; https://t.me/zvizdecmanhustu/1642; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7534; https://t.me/luhanskaVTSA/17156; https://t.me/zvizdecmanhustu/1642[40] https://suspilne dot media/688376-zsu-likviduvali-ponad-piv-tisaci-vijskovih-rf-za-dobu-na-bahmutskomu-ta-limano-kupanskomu-napramkah/[41] https://t.me/zvizdecmanhustu/1641[42] https://t.me/zvizdecmanhustu/1641; https://t.me/zvizdecmanhustu/1642[43] https://t.me/zvizdecmanhustu/1642[44] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0VyQ3dwh2J1TxqhvAhBLhAHgYjnMRXKUwg3unBdUgzZhpjJUkeRGFUiStmfYmrnbal ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0hDvottERJVYGgXyFxmVtX5PS7HZwgMJAsEbHa4SepM5HF4ij27nUhodh9eP98T4yl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02R9pSkf2iQ9Xg1XmoHqCAV2FaYXchdq1uYAQNJQPakrGYZNfjNmSr4GkkzX8zqG5Tl ; https://t.me/mod_russia/35820 ; https://t.me/rybar/57305 ; https://t.me/wargonzo/18301 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113624 ; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7544 ; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7544[45] https://suspilne dot media/688376-zsu-likviduvali-ponad-piv-tisaci-vijskovih-rf-za-dobu-na-bahmutskomu-ta-limano-kupanskomu-napramkah/[46] https://t.me/wargonzo/18301 ; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7543[47] https://t.me/mod_russia/35822[48] https://t.me/pidrozdilshadowoficial/334; https://t.me/kiber_boroshno/6799, https://twitter.com/small10space/status/1759891542725026104; https://x.com/moklasen/status/1759892826018435376?s=20; https://x.com/moklasen/status/1759914412641530332?s=20; https://x.com/moklasen/status/1759914442580500574?s=20; https://t.me/creamy_caprice/4472 [49] https://t.me/tass_agency/232646[50] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0VyQ3dwh2J1TxqhvAhBLhAHgYjnMRXKUwg3unBdUgzZhpjJUkeRGFUiStmfYmrnbal ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0hDvottERJVYGgXyFxmVtX5PS7HZwgMJAsEbHa4SepM5HF4ij27nUhodh9eP98T4yl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02R9pSkf2iQ9Xg1XmoHqCAV2FaYXchdq1uYAQNJQPakrGYZNfjNmSr4GkkzX8zqG5Tl ; https://t.me/mod_russia/35820 ; https://t.me/mod_russia/35827 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113624 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113662 ; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7543[51] https://t.me/sashakots/45098 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113662[52] https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62402; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7538[53] https://t.me/negumanitarnaya_pomosch_Z/15037; https://t.me/dva_majors/34970 ; https://t.me/zvizdecmanhustu/1643[54] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0VyQ3dwh2J1TxqhvAhBLhAHgYjnMRXKUwg3unBdUgzZhpjJUkeRGFUiStmfYmrnbal ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0hDvottERJVYGgXyFxmVtX5PS7HZwgMJAsEbHa4SepM5HF4ij27nUhodh9eP98T4yl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02R9pSkf2iQ9Xg1XmoHqCAV2FaYXchdq1uYAQNJQPakrGYZNfjNmSr4GkkzX8zqG5Tl  ; https://t.me/rybar/57309 ; https://t.me/dva_majors/34915 ; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62402 ; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62422 ; https://t.me/dva_majors/34915 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113629 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113688 ; https://t.me/dva_majors/34914[55] https://t.me/voin_dv/7118 ; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7538 ; https://t.me/voin_dv/7124 ; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/54160[56] https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62439[57] https://www.facebook.com/58brigade/videos/1157698455416106/?mibextid=rS40aB7S9Ucbxw6v; https://t.me/creamy_caprice/4469; https://twitter.com/giK1893/status/1759869961269391817; https://t.me/br58ua/279; https://twitter.com/giK1893/status/1759870059122446599;[58] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0VyQ3dwh2J1TxqhvAhBLhAHgYjnMRXKUwg3unBdUgzZhpjJUkeRGFUiStmfYmrnbal; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0hDvottERJVYGgXyFxmVtX5PS7HZwgMJAsEbHa4SepM5HF4ij27nUhodh9eP98T4yl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02R9pSkf2iQ9Xg1XmoHqCAV2FaYXchdq1uYAQNJQPakrGYZNfjNmSr4GkkzX8zqG5Tl[59] https://t.me/voin_dv/7115; https://t.me/voin_dv/7102[60] https://t.me/skyhuntersuav/192; https://t.me/WarArchive_ua/11224 [61] https://t.me/multi_XAM/1371;  https://t.me/NeoficialniyBeZsonoV/33367?single; https://t.me/rybar/57305; https://t.me/wargonzo/18301; https://t.me/dva_majors/34914; https://t.me/negumanitarnaya_pomosch_Z/15014; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113624; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113724; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7540[62] https://t.me/multi_XAM/1371;  https://t.me/NeoficialniyBeZsonoV/33367?single; https://t.me/rybar/57305; https://t.me/wargonzo/18301; https://t.me/dva_majors/34914; https://t.me/negumanitarnaya_pomosch_Z/15014; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113624; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113724; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7540; https://t.me/rusich_army/13253; https://t.me/rusich_army/13255[63] https://t.me/dva_majors/34914; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7540[64] https://t.me/mod_russia/35811; https://t.me/vrogov/14441[65] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0VyQ3dwh2J1TxqhvAhBLhAHgYjnMRXKUwg3unBdUgzZhpjJUkeRGFUiStmfYmrnbal; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0hDvottERJVYGgXyFxmVtX5PS7HZwgMJAsEbHa4SepM5HF4ij27nUhodh9eP98T4yl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02R9pSkf2iQ9Xg1XmoHqCAV2FaYXchdq1uYAQNJQPakrGYZNfjNmSr4GkkzX8zqG5Tl; https://suspilne dot media/688316-perebuvanna-nasih-pidrozdiliv-na-livomu-berezi-zafiksovane-j-ukriplene-gumenuk-pro-situaciu-na-hersonskomu-napramku/; https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/02/20/rosiyany-vlashtovuyut-myasni-shturmy-u-krynkah-zarady-peredvyborchogo-podarunka-putinu/; https://t.me/rybar/57305; https://t.me/dva_majors/34919 ; https://t.me/Juncker_ZOV/885 [66] https://t.me/ukr_sof/948; https://x.com/666_mancer/status/1759644612388389364?s=20 ; https://x.com/666_mancer/status/1759689339888398367?s=20[67] https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113645; https://vk dot com/wall-87734106_281031[68] https://t.me/kpszsu/10880[69] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0hDvottERJVYGgXyFxmVtX5PS7HZwgMJAsEbHa4SepM5HF4ij27nUhodh9eP98T4yl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02R9pSkf2iQ9Xg1XmoHqCAV2FaYXchdq1uYAQNJQPakrGYZNfjNmSr4GkkzX8zqG5Tl; https://t.me/kpszsu/10880;  https://t.me/SJTF_Odes/6401[70] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/02/20/yurij-ignat-rosijski-litaky-vzhe-ne-tak-chasto-zyavlyayutsya-na-liniyi-frontu-a-50-vzagali-blyzhche-do-rostova/; https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/02/20/yurij-ignat-rozpoviv-pro-rosijskyj-litak-rozvidnyk-na-biloruskomu-napryamku/; https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/02/20/yurij-ignat-rozpoviv-shho-potribno-dlya-borotby-z-vorozhymy-kabamy/ [71] https://t.me/tass_agency/232677  [72] https://isw.pub/UkrWar021124[73] https://isw.pub/UkrWar020424[74] https://t.me/istories_media/5153; https://storage dot googleapis dot com/istories/news/2024/02/20/kirienko-i-trutnev-sozdali-dlya-voini-otryad-iz-sportsmenov-soyuz-vazhnie-istorii-nashli-yego-sponsorov/index.html[75] https://t.me/istories_media/5153; https://storage dot googleapis dot com/istories/news/2024/02/20/kirienko-i-trutnev-sozdali-dlya-voini-otryad-iz-sportsmenov-soyuz-vazhnie-istorii-nashli-yego-sponsorov/index.html[76] https://t.me/istories_media/5153; https://storage dot googleapis dot com/istories/news/2024/02/20/kirienko-i-trutnev-sozdali-dlya-voini-otryad-iz-sportsmenov-soyuz-vazhnie-istorii-nashli-yego-sponsorov/index.html[77] https://t.me/istories_media/5153; https://storage dot googleapis dot com/istories/news/2024/02/20/kirienko-i-trutnev-sozdali-dlya-voini-otryad-iz-sportsmenov-soyuz-vazhnie-istorii-nashli-yego-sponsorov/index.html[78] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid033PtrycAjf4YoFP7A2fnzWDX3tahhW1vY9A3MFv92EAJFikixEhmuZeR2zrDB2qnnl[79] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid033PtrycAjf4YoFP7A2fnzWDX3tahhW1vY9A3MFv92EAJFikixEhmuZeR2zrDB2qnnl[80] https://twitter.com/PlJonson/status/1759851055825797140; https://twitter.com/PlJonson/status/1759851060221317306; https://twitter.com/PlJonson/status/1759851061798412667; https://twitter.com/PlJonson/status/1759851063207698589; https://twitter.com/bayraktar_1love/status/1759873354570358825 ; https://www.dn dot se/sverige/stridsbatar-och-toppmoderna-stridsfordon-till-ukraina/; https://mil.in dot ua/uk/news/bojovi-katery-ta-bmp-shvetsiya-vydilyaye-rekordnyj-paket-vijskovoyi-dopomogy-ukrayini/[81] https://twitter.com/PlJonson/status/1759851055825797140; https://twitter.com/PlJonson/status/1759851060221317306; https://twitter.com/PlJonson/status/1759851061798412667; https://twitter.com/PlJonson/status/1759851063207698589; https://twitter.com/bayraktar_1love/status/1759873354570358825 ; https://www.dn dot se/sverige/stridsbatar-och-toppmoderna-stridsfordon-till-ukraina/; https://mil.in dot ua/uk/news/bojovi-katery-ta-bmp-shvetsiya-vydilyaye-rekordnyj-paket-vijskovoyi-dopomogy-ukrayini/[82] https://twitter.com/PlJonson/status/1759851055825797140; https://twitter.com/PlJonson/status/1759851060221317306; https://twitter.com/PlJonson/status/1759851061798412667; https://twitter.com/PlJonson/status/1759851063207698589; https://twitter.com/bayraktar_1love/status/1759873354570358825 ; https://www.dn dot se/sverige/stridsbatar-och-toppmoderna-stridsfordon-till-ukraina/; https://mil.in dot ua/uk/news/bojovi-katery-ta-bmp-shvetsiya-vydilyaye-rekordnyj-paket-vijskovoyi-dopomogy-ukrayini/[83] https://www.ctvnews dot ca/canada/canada-to-donate-800-drones-to-ukraine-blair-1.6774911 ;[84] https://www.ctvnews dot ca/canada/canada-to-donate-800-drones-to-ukraine-blair-1.6774911 ;[85] https://ukroboronprom dot com.ua/news/ukroboronprom-rozpocinaje-spivpracyu-z-providnim-jevropeiskim-virobnikom-raketnix-sistem[86] https://mil.in dot ua/uk/news/v-ukrayini-vyvchayut-mozhlyvist-lokalizatsiyi-panzerfaus-3/[87] https://www.bild dot de/politik/inland/politik-inland/waffen-lieferungen-neuer-ampel-plan-fuer-die-ukraine-87227908.bild.html[88] https://www.bild dot de/politik/inland/politik-inland/waffen-lieferungen-neuer-ampel-plan-fuer-die-ukraine-87227908.bild.html[89] https://t.me/BalitskyEV/2643[90] https://t.me/BalitskyEV/2643[91] https://xn dot d1achjhdicc8bh4h.xn--p1ai/;[92] https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/24-210-01%20ISW%20Occupation%20playbook.pdf[93] https://t.me/tass_agency/232550 ; https://t.me/tass_agency/232542 ; https://t.me/tass_agency/232549[94] https://t.me/tass_agency/232550 ; https://t.me/tass_agency/232542 ; https://t.me/tass_agency/232549[95] https://t.me/modmilby/36206 ; https://www dot belta.by/president/view/lukashenko-beglye-i-ih-zarubezhnye-kuratory-ot-spetssluzhb-prorabatyvajut-tri-osnovnyh-stsenarija-616485-2024/; https://t.me/modmilby/36209 ; https://www dot belta.by/president/view/lukashenko-belarusi-vojna-ne-nuzhna-no-k-nej-nado-byt-gotovymi-i-mentalno-i-strategicheski-616490-2024/ ; https://t.me/modmilby/3620  [96] https://t.me/modmilby/36206 ; https://www dot belta.by/president/view/lukashenko-beglye-i-ih-zarubezhnye-kuratory-ot-spetssluzhb-prorabatyvajut-tri-osnovnyh-stsenarija-616485-2024/; https://t.me/modmilby/36209 ; https://www dot belta.by/president/view/lukashenko-belarusi-vojna-ne-nuzhna-no-k-nej-nado-byt-gotovymi-i-mentalno-i-strategicheski-616490-2024/ ; https://t.me/modmilby/3620; https://t.me/modmilby/36206 ; https://www dot belta.by/president/view/lukashenko-beglye-i-ih-zarubezhnye-kuratory-ot-spetssluzhb-prorabatyvajut-tri-osnovnyh-stsenarija-616485-2024/  

[Author: Institute for the Study of War]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 2/26/24 11:09pm
Angelica Evans, Nicole Wolkov, Christina Harward, Riley Bailey, George Barros, and Frederick W. KaganFebruary 19, 2024, 7:15pm ETClick here to see ISW’s interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.Click here to see ISW’s 3D control of terrain topographic map of Ukraine. Use of a computer (not a mobile device) is strongly recommended for using this data-heavy tool.Click here to access ISW’s archive of interactive time-lapse maps of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These maps complement the static control-of-terrain map that ISW produces daily by showing a dynamic frontline. ISW will update this time-lapse map archive monthly.Note: The data cut-off for this product was 1:30pm ET on February 19. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the February 20 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.Russian actors conducted a cyber operation regarding Russia’s seizure of Avdiivka, likely aimed at generating panic in the Ukrainian information space and weakening Ukrainian morale. Ukraine’s State Special Communication Service reported on February 18 that Russian actors hacked well-known Ukrainian media outlets and posted fake information on their social media channels.[1] Ukrainian outlets Ukrainska Pravda, Apostrophe, Liga.net, and Telegraf reported on February 18 that their social media accounts were hacked and that hackers posted disinformation, specifically about the alleged widespread destruction of Ukrainian forces in Avdiivka.[2] The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) issued new claims about the Ukrainian withdrawal from Avdiivka on February 19 aimed at sowing resentment and distrust against the Ukrainian command, and other Russian sources amplified this information operation.[3]The tempo of Russian offensive operations near Avdiivka has reportedly dramatically slowed following the Russian seizure of Avdiivka. Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Spokesperson Dmytro Lykhoviy reported on February 19 that the number of Russian attacks in the Avdiivka direction significantly decreased in the past day and that Russian forces are currently regrouping and conducting clearing operations in Avdiivka.[4] Lykhoviy noted that Russian shelling and aviation activity has also significantly decreased in the area.[5] Ukrainian officials reported that Ukrainian forces have withdrawn to a new line of defense, which Ukrainian forces previously prepared in advance and fortified at “several levels.”[6] Russian forces will likely have to conduct an operational pause before resuming significant offensive operations in the Avdiivka direction or will have to transfer additional reinforcements from other sectors of the front to the area to prevent operations near Avdiivka from culminating. Russian forces have reserves available for such reinforcement in other sectors, but ISW has observed no indication that the Russian command is moving those reserves toward Avdiivka at this time. Lykhoviy and Ukrainian Khortytsia Group of Forces Spokesperson Captain Ilya Yevlash, on the contrary, stated that the Russian command will likely transfer Russian forces accumulated around Avdiivka to other, unspecified areas of the frontline in the near future.[7] Yevlash stated that it will likely take Russian forces at least a week to transfer units from Avdiivka into battle in unspecified frontline areas.[8] ISW has not yet observed any indications of how Russian forces will choose to allocate their manpower currently deployed to the Avdiivka area.Ukrainian officials reported that Ukrainian forces shot down two more Russian fighter aircraft, a Su-34 and a Su-35S, in eastern Ukraine on the morning of February 19.[9] Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi reported that the Russian aircraft were striking Ukrainian positions with glide bombs when Ukrainian air defenses destroyed the planes.[10] Ukrainian forces also shot down two Su-34s and one Su-35 over Donetsk Oblast on February 17 and another Su-34 in eastern Ukraine on February 18.[11] Russian forces appear to have temporarily established limited and localized air superiority during the final days of their offensive operation to seize Avdiivka, but Ukrainian air defenders appear to be challenging Russian air operations in eastern Ukraine once again.[12]The White House is reportedly considering the provision of long-range ATACMS missiles to Ukraine in the event that Congress passes security assistance for Ukraine. NBC News reported on February 19 that two US officials stated that the White House is working to provide Ukraine with long-range ATACMS missiles in one of the first packages of military aid to Ukraine if Congress approves funding for further security assistance to Ukraine.[13] The US previously provided Ukraine with a limited number of a different type of ATACMS missile that have a shorter range.[14] Ukraine conducted successful ATACMS strikes in October 2023 but did not have enough supplies to sustain a strike campaign with ATACMS that could have presented operational challenges for Russian forces in Ukraine, particularly for Russian aviation operations and for the storage and supply of ammunition.[15] NBC News reported that the US officials also stated that the US has artillery systems and ammunition prepared for immediate transfer to Ukraine if Congress approves funding for US security assistance to Ukraine.[16] Ukrainian long-range strike capabilities allow Ukrainian forces to degrade Russian logistics at depth, and sufficient artillery systems and ammunition are crucial for effective Ukrainian counterbattery fire.The Russian government eased the requirements for “compatriots” living abroad to apply to resettle in Russia. The Russian government announced on February 17 that it will no longer require "compatriots” abroad to prove their Russian-language proficiency when applying for resettlement in Russia if the individual is a Russian citizen permanently residing abroad; an individual who previously renounced Russian citizenship; an individual who was born or permanently resided in the Soviet Union and had Soviet citizenship; or an individual who has relatives who were born or permanently resided on territory formerly part of the Soviet Union or Russian Empire.[17] The Russian government stated that the changes in the requirements for resettlement in Russia follow a January 1, 2024, Russian presidential decree to “support compatriots from unfriendly countries.” The Kremlin has repeatedly claimed that the Russkiy Mir — purposefully vaguely defined as including ethnic Russians, Russian language-speakers, and any territory and people formerly ruled by the Soviet Union and the Russian Empire — includes Ukrainians and that Russia’s invasions of Ukraine were allegedly in defense of “compatriots abroad” in Ukraine.[18] Russian President Vladimir Putin further expanded the definition of the Russian World in a speech in late November 2023 to include “those who consider themselves carriers of the Russian language, history, and culture regardless of their national or religious affiliation.”[19] Putin’s stated goals of “uniting” and maintaining control over the Russkiy Mir is part of Russia’s larger imperialist ambitions, and Russia may continue to enact measures in accordance with the purposefully broad Russian World framework to manufacture territorial claims against neighboring states, including NATO members.Emirati banks reportedly began to limit some transactions with Russian entities and close Russian citizens’ accounts in September 2023 due to the risk of Western secondary sanctions. Russian outlet Vedomosti reported on February 19 that three businesspeople working in the UAE and a representative of the Russian “Delovaya Rossiya” organization stated that banks in the UAE are not accepting deposits from or making payments to Russian entities and are closing accounts of companies whose owners are Russian citizens for unclear reasons.[20] Vedomosti reported that one of the sources stated that the “purges” began in September 2023. A source close to the Russian Cabinet of Ministers reportedly stated that the Russian government is aware of the problem but considers it “not critical and solvable.” Vedomosti sources indicated that the problems with the banks can be solved, for example by using local connections and avoiding any connections with entities under Western sanctions. Bloomberg reported in November 2023 that Emirati banks increasingly faced US pressure and began to work to prevent sanctions evasion by rejecting Russian firms.[21] At least two state-owned Chinese banks reportedly ordered reviews of their business with Russian clients in January 2024 and will sever ties with sanctioned Russian entities and entities with ties to the Russian defense industry.[22] Turkish banks have also reportedly started to close Russian companies’ accounts.[23]Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan reiterated that Armenia does not support Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine against the backdrop of deteriorating Russian–Armenian relations. Pashinyan stated on February 19 at the Munich Security Conference that “Armenia is not Russia’s ally in the matter of Ukraine.”[24] Pashinyan highlighted the 1991 Alma-Ata Declaration that founded the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and recognized the territorial integrity of its 11 signatories, including Russia and Ukraine.[25] Kremlin officials and mouthpieces have increasingly promoted narratives about Russia’s alleged continued influence in Armenia and criticized Pashinyan’s policies.[26]Key Takeaways:Russian actors conducted a cyber operation regarding Russia’s seizure of Avdiivka, likely aimed at generating panic in the Ukrainian information space and weakening Ukrainian morale.The tempo of Russian offensive operations near Avdiivka has reportedly dramatically slowed following the Russian seizure of Avdiivka.Ukrainian officials reported that Ukrainian forces shot down two more Russian fighter aircraft, a Su-34 and a Su-35S, in eastern Ukraine on the morning of February 19.The White House is reportedly considering the provision of long-range ATACMS missiles to Ukraine in the event that Congress passes security assistance for Ukraine.The Russian government eased the requirements for “compatriots” living abroad to apply to resettle in Russia.Emirati banks reportedly began to limit some transactions with Russian entities and close Russian citizens’ accounts in September 2023 due to the risk of Western secondary sanctions.Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan reiterated that Armenia does not support Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine against the backdrop of deteriorating Russian-Armenian relations.Russian forces recently made confirmed advances near Donetsk City and in western Zaporizhia Oblast.Russian Security Council Deputy Chairperson Dmitri Medvedev claimed on February 19 that the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) has recruited more than 53,000 military personnel since January 1, 2024.Russian authorities have reportedly returned Ukrainian children in occupied Ukraine and Russia to relatives in Ukraine.We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because these activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We will continue to evaluate and report on the effects of these criminal activities on the Ukrainian military and the Ukrainian population and specifically on combat in Ukrainian urban areas. We utterly condemn Russian violations of the laws of armed conflict and the Geneva Conventions and crimes against humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.Russian Main Effort – Eastern Ukraine (comprised of two subordinate main efforts)Russian Subordinate Main Effort #1 – Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and encircle northern Donetsk OblastRussian Subordinate Main Effort #2 – Capture the entirety of Donetsk OblastRussian Supporting Effort – Southern AxisRussian Air, Missile, and Drone CampaignRussian Mobilization and Force Generation EffortsRussian Technological AdaptationsActivities in Russian-occupied areasUkrainian Defense Industrial Base EffortsRussian Information Operations and NarrativesSignificant Activity in BelarusRussian Main Effort – Eastern UkraineRussian Subordinate Main Effort #1 – Luhansk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and northern Donetsk Oblast)Rosgvardia has reportedly deployed additional elements to Belgorod Oblast. Ukrainian military observer Kostyantyn Mashovets stated on February 19 that Rosgvardia deployed elements of its 116th Special Purpose Brigade, namely units of the 901st Regiment, to Belgorod Oblast.[27] Mashovets stated on February 7 that elements of the 116th Special Purpose Brigade’s 900th and 902nd regiments redeployed to Belgorod Oblast from occupied Donetsk Oblast at the beginning of February.[28] Mashovets stated that Chief of Staff of the Russian Ground Forces Colonel General Alexander Lapin and Rosgvardia Southern District Commander Igor Turchenyuk oversaw the Rosgvardia redeployment from occupied Donetsk Oblast to Belgorod Oblast.[29] Mashovets stated that elements of the 116th Special Purpose Brigade did not deploy to Belgorod Oblast’s international border with Ukraine and are operating north of Belgorod City along the E105 highway to Kursk City in the Syrtsevo-Yakovlevo-Stroitel-Dmitriyevka area.[30]Positional engagements continued along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line on February 19, but there were no confirmed changes to this area. Positional engagements continued northeast of Kupyansk near Synkivka, southwest of Kupyansk near Tabaivka, west of Kreminna near Terny, and south of Kreminna near Bilohorivka.[31] Ukrainian Khortytsia Group of Forces Spokesperson Captain Ilya Yevlash stated that Russian forces have intensified offensive operations near the Zherebets River and are transferring reinforcements to the area in an attempt to establish defensive positions near Terny and Torske (both west of Kreminna and on the east bank of the Zherebets River) and prepare for future offensive actions.[32]Russian Subordinate Main Effort #2 – Donetsk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)Russian and Ukrainian forces continued positional fighting near Bakhmut on February 19. Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces advanced one kilometer near Ivanivske (west of Bakhmut).[33] Russian and Ukrainian sources stated that positional fighting continued northwest of Bakhmut near Bohdanivka; west of Bakhmut near Ivanivske; and southwest of Bakhmut near Klishchiivka, Andriivka, and Pivdenne.[34] Ukrainian Khortytsia Group of Forces Spokesperson Captain Ilya Yevlash reported that Russian forces are conducting frontal assaults on Bohdanivka and are attacking the settlement’s flanks.[35] Elements of the Russian 98th Airborne (VDV) Division are reportedly operating in the Bakhmut direction, and elements of the 200th Motorized Rifle Brigade (Northern Fleet) are reportedly operating near Bohdanivka.[36] Elements of the Chechen Akhmat “Kamerton” detachment are reportedly operating near Klishchiivka.[37]Russian forces have likely seized all of Avdiivka as of February 19, though Russian forces may still be clearing portions of Avdiivka. Ukrainian units operating in the Avdiivka direction reported that all Ukrainian personnel withdrew from the Avdiivka Coke Plant on the far northwest side of Avdiivka, and the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that elements of the Russian Central Grouping of Forces seized the plant.[38] Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces advanced northwest of Avdiivka near Stepove and Lastochkyne and southwest of Avdiivka near Nevelske and Pervomaiske.[39] One Russian milblogger claimed on February 18 that Russian forces seized Lastochkyne, but later withdrew those claims and noted that fighting continues near the settlement.[40] Russian and Ukrainian forces stated on February 19 that positional fighting continues near Novobakhmutivka (northwest of Avdiivka) and Sieverne (west of Avdiivka).[41] Elements of the Russian 41st Combined Arms Army (Central Military District), including its 55th, 35th, and 74th motorized rifle brigades, and the 6th Tank Regiment (90th Tank Division) are operating near Avdiivka.[42] Elements of the 9th Motorized Rifle Brigade (1st Donetsk People Republic [DNR] Army Corps) are operating near Pervomaiske, and elements of the 110th Motorized Rifle Brigade (1st DNR Army Corps) are operating near Nevelske.[43]The Russian MoD published footage on February 18 suggesting that Russian forces were able to strike select small groups of withdrawing Ukrainian forces near Avdiivka, and reports from Ukrainian personnel operating near Avdiivka suggest that Russian forces were able to encircle isolated sub-tactical elements of Ukrainian units during the Ukrainian withdrawal from Avdiivka.[44] ISW has not observed indications that Russian forces were able to destroy or encircle a significant number of Ukrainian personnel during the Ukrainian withdrawal from Avdiivka. The Russian-provided footage and Ukrainian reports appear to explain the dissonance between Russian and Ukrainian characterizations of the Ukrainian withdrawal from Avdiivka in recent days.[45] Russian claims that the Ukrainian withdrawal was chaotic or that Russian forces had encircled Ukrainian troops likely exaggerated these small unit actions intentionally or unintentionally.Russian forces recently marginally advanced north of Marinka (west of Donetsk City) amid continued positional fighting west and southwest of Donetsk City on February 19. Geolocated footage published on February 17 indicates that Russian forces recently marginally advanced north of Marinka.[46] Russian and Ukrainian forces stated that positional fighting continued west of Donetsk City near Heorhiivka and southwest of Donetsk City near Pobieda and Novomykhailivka.[47] Elements of the Russian 103rd Motorized Rifle Regiment (150th Motorized Rifle Division, 8th Combined Arms Army, Southern Military District) are reportedly operating near Heorhiivka.[48]Russian Supporting Effort – Southern Axis (Russian objective: Maintain frontline positions and secure rear areas against Ukrainian strikes)Positional fighting continued in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area near Staromayorske (south of Velyka Novosilka) and Prechystivka (southeast of Velyka Novosilka).[49] Elements of the Russian 143rd Motorized Rifle Regiment (127th Motorized Rifle Division, 5th Combined Arms Army [CAA], Eastern Military District [EMD]) are reportedly operating north of Pryyutne (southwest of Velyka Novosilka).[50]Russian forces recently advanced near Robotyne and continued intensified offensive operations in western Zaporizhia Oblast on February 19. Geolocated footage published on February 19 indicates that Russian forces recently advanced to the western outskirts of Robotyne.[51] Russian milbloggers claimed on February 18 and 19 that Russian forces advanced over a kilometer deep west of Verbove and up to two kilometers deep near Robotyne.[52] Russian milbloggers widely claimed that Russian forces reached the western and southern outskirts of Robotyne, with select milbloggers claiming that Russian forces entered the settlement and that fighting is ongoing in central Robotyne.[53] ISW has not observed visual confirmation of Russian forces fighting in central Robotyne, and some Russian milbloggers disputed these Russian claims.[54] Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces are trying to tactically separate Ukrainian forces deployed along the Robotyne-Verbove line.[55] Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Commander Brigadier General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi stated that Russian forces are attacking in small groups with limited armored vehicle support near Robotyne.[56] Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces are intensifying indirect fire and air strikes near Kamianske (west of Robotyne) and made unspecified tactical gains in the area.[57] ISW has not yet observed confirmation of Russian advances in the area.[58] Positional fighting occurred near Malynivka (east of Hulyaipole).[59] Elements of the Russian 247th Airborne (VDV) Regiment (7th VDV Division) are reportedly attacking near Verbove, and elements of the 291st, 70th, and 71st motorized rifle regiments (all of the 42nd Motorized Rifle Division, 58th CAA, Southern Military District [SMD]) are reportedly attacking near Robotyne.[60] Elements of the Russian 392nd Motorized Rifle Regiment (likely a mobilized unit) are reportedly operating near Pyatykhatky (west of Robotyne), and elements of the 49th Special Airborne Brigade (a newly formed brigade reportedly subordinated to the 58th CAA) reportedly attacked near Kamianske.[61]The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled at least 16 Russian assaults in east (left) bank Kherson Oblast on February 19.[62] Ukrainian Southern Operational Command Spokesperson Colonel Nataliya Humenyuk stated that Russian forces continue to conduct infantry assaults in east bank Kherson Oblast in an effort to conserve armored vehicles.[63]Russian Air, Missile, and Drone Campaign (Russian Objective: Target Ukrainian military and civilian infrastructure in the rear and on the frontline)The Ukrainian Air Force reported that Russian forces launched four Shahed-136/131 drones from Belgorod Oblast at targets in Kharkiv Oblast and that Ukrainian forces shot down all four drones.[64] Ukrainian officials also stated that Ukrainian forces shot down a Kh-59 missile near Kryvyi Rih, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast.[65]Russian Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts (Russian objective: Expand combat power without conducting general mobilization)Russian Security Council Deputy Chairperson Dmitri Medvedev claimed on February 19 that the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) has recruited more than 53,000 military personnel since January 1, 2024.[66] Medvedev previously claimed the Russian military recruited 42,000 personnel between November 9 and December 1, 2023.[67] Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Deputy Chief Major General Vadym Skibitskyi stated on January 15 that Russia recruits about 30,000 personnel per month.[68]Efforts to integrate former Wagner Group forces into Rosgvardia have reportedly halted. A Russian milblogger claimed that the creation of Rosgvardia’s 1st Volunteer Corps from the Wagner Group’s former 15th, 16th, and 17th Assault Detachments has not begun for unknown reasons.[69] The milblogger claimed that personnel who intended to make up the three units left for other unspecified volunteer units. The milblogger previously claimed that Rosgvardia tasked the 15th, 16th, and 17th Assault Detachments with recruiting volunteers after the Kremlin adopted a law allowing Rosgvardia to form its own volunteer formations in December 2023.[70]Russia is nationalizing Western-owned factories in Russia, likely to further expand Russia’s defense industrial base (DIB). Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on February 19 transferring 100 percent of the shares of the Ulyanovsk Machine Tool Plant, which German company Gildemeister Beteiligungen GmbH (a subsidiary of the Japanese-German machine tool manufacturer DMG Mori) owns, to the temporary management of the Russian Federal Property Management Agency.[71] The Ulyanovsk Machine Tool Plant ceased operations in the spring of 2022 after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.[72]Russian Technological Adaptations (Russian objective: Introduce technological innovations to optimize systems for use in Ukraine)Nothing significant to report.Ukrainian Defense Industrial Efforts (Ukrainian objective: Develop its defense industrial base to become more self-sufficient in cooperation with US, European, and international partners)Ukrainian defense industrial base (DIB) enterprises and their European partners are producing ammunition for Ukrainian forces. Ukrainian Armor stated on February 19 that it delivered a shipment of “thousands” of 122 mm artillery shells that it produced in partnership with an unspecified Eastern European ammunition company to Ukrainian forces.[73]Russia likely used its trade relations with Ecuador to prevent Ecuador from sending Soviet-era military equipment to Ukraine via the US. Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa announced in January that Ecuador was going to send $200 million worth of Soviet-era weapons to the US in exchange for modern weapons, but Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Gabriela Sommerfeld stated on February 19 that Ecuador would not send any military equipment to countries that are involved in international armed conflicts.[74] Russia partially lifted its ban on imports of Ecuadorian bananas, which Russia recently imposed allegedly for phytosanitary issues, on February 16.[75]Activities in Russian-occupied areas (Russian objective: Consolidate administrative control of annexed areas; forcibly integrate Ukrainian citizens into Russian sociocultural, economic, military, and governance systems)Russian authorities have reportedly returned 11 Ukrainian children in occupied Ukraine and Russia to relatives in Ukraine. Kremlin-appointed Children's Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova stated on February 19 that Russian authorities returned 11 Ukrainian children to Ukraine from occupied Zaporizhia Oblast; occupied Mariupol, Donetsk Oblast; occupied Luhansk City; occupied Simferopol, Crimea; and Krasnoyarsk City.[76] Lvova-Belova stated that Qatari authorities mediated the children’s return.Kherson Oblast Administration Head Oleksandr Prokudin stated on February 19 that Ukrainian authorities returned two families and a child from occupied Kherson Oblast to Ukrainian-controlled areas.[77]Russian authorities continue to forcibly deport children and their parents from occupied Ukraine to Russia under vacation schemes. Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) Head Leonid Pasechnik stated on February 19 that LNR authorities, the Russian “humanitarian” organization “We Don’t Abandon Our Own,” and the “We Are Together” Foundation organized a two-week trip to Sochi, Krasnodar Krai for children of deceased Russian military personnel.[78] Pasechnik stated that the children’s mothers and grandmothers will also participate in the trip to Sochi.Russian occupation authorities continue efforts to falsify voting results and voter turnout in occupied Ukraine in the March 16-17 Russian presidential election. The Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported on February 19 that Russia deployed specially trained groups to occupied Ukraine to oversee falsifications and monitor the work of election commissions ahead of the Russian presidential election.[79] The GUR stated that these Russian groups will attempt to prepare civilians in occupied Ukraine to vote by March 10. The GUR reported that Russian occupation authorities are not requiring citizens to have a Russian passport in order to vote and are promoting an online voter system that allows residents in occupied Kherson and Zaporizhia oblasts to vote online “without registration.” The GUR stated that Russian occupation officials are falsely claiming that 85 percent of voters in occupied Ukraine support Russian President Vladimir Putin’s candidacy. Zaporizhia Oblast Military Administration Head Ivan Fedorov stated that Russian occupation authorities are intensifying measures to falsify voter turnout.[80]Russian Information Operations and NarrativesNothing significant to report.Significant activity in Belarus (Russian efforts to increase its military presence in Belarus and further integrate Belarus into Russian-favorable frameworks and Wagner Group activity in Belarus)Nothing significant to report.Note: ISW does not receive any classified material from any source, uses only publicly available information, and draws extensively on Russian, Ukrainian, and Western reporting and social media as well as commercially available satellite imagery and other geospatial data as the basis for these reports. References to all sources used are provided in the endnotes of each update.[1] https://t.me/dsszzi_official/6758[2] https://news.liga dot net/politics/news/sayt-liganet-byl-vzloman-neizvestnye-opublikovali-rossiyskuyu-dezinformatsiyu-ob-avdeevke ; https://t.me/bbcrussian/60841 ; https://www.pravda.com dot ua/news/2024/02/18/7442445/[3] https://t.me/mod_russia/35759 ; https://t.me/prigozhin_2023_tg/7971 ; https://t.me/NeoficialniyBeZsonoV/33327[4] https://suspilne dot media/687616-armia-rf-provodit-zacistki-v-avdiivci-ta-peregrupovuetsa-osuv-tavria/[5] https://suspilne dot media/687616-armia-rf-provodit-zacistki-v-avdiivci-ta-peregrupovuetsa-osuv-tavria/[6] https://suspilne dot media/687616-armia-rf-provodit-zacistki-v-avdiivci-ta-peregrupovuetsa-osuv-tavria/ ; https://t.me/otarnavskiy/513[7] https://suspilne dot media/687616-armia-rf-provodit-zacistki-v-avdiivci-ta-peregrupovuetsa-osuv-tavria/ ; https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/02/19/okupanty-aktyvizuvalys-na-kupyanshhyni-perekydayut-rezervy-rechnyk-osuv-hortyczya/[8] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/02/19/okupanty-aktyvizuvalys-na-kupyanshhyni-perekydayut-rezervy-rechnyk-osuv-hortyczya/[9] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0YAQeyBAiJsLWM7KyYgfz1bYTBFzQE62Aq7ooeQKLpE4XyQ7c96z157gKGSFabrPal ; https://t.me/Pavliuk_KSV/5362 ; https://t.me/osirskiy/584 ; https://t.me/MykolaOleshchuk/198 ; https://mil dot in.ua/uk/news/rosiyany-pidtverdyly-vtratu-odnogo-vynyshhuvacha-su-35/ ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02y2CXHaHBDHCcKbBsvvm4MBMivBwUuD6yxmWySwUP6yMrCmSBoKvjVgAXGRg2xTvrl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02y2CXHaHBDHCcKbBsvvm4MBMivBwUuD6yxmWySwUP6yMrCmSBoKvjVgAXGRg2xTvrl[10] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0YAQeyBAiJsLWM7KyYgfz1bYTBFzQE62Aq7ooeQKLpE4XyQ7c96z157gKGSFabrPal ; https://t.me/Pavliuk_KSV/5362 ; https://t.me/osirskiy/584 ;[11] https://isw.pub/UkrWar021724 ; https://isw.pub/UkrWar021824[12] https://isw.pub/UkrWar021724[13] https://www.nbcnews.com/investigations/biden-administration-leaning-supplying-ukraine-long-range-missiles-rcna139394[14] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-october-17-2023[15] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-october-17-2023[16] https://www.nbcnews.com/investigations/biden-administration-leaning-supplying-ukraine-long-range-missiles-rcna139394[17] https://t.me/government_rus/11368 ; https://consular.rfembassy dot ru/lm/konsulskie_voprosy/sootechestvenniki/vajnai_inf[18] https://isw.pub/UkrWar021024[19] http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/72863[20] https://www.vedomosti dot ru/economics/articles/2024/02/19/1020942-krupnie-banki-oae-ogranichili-rascheti-s-rf[21] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-11-23/uae-tightens-scrutiny-on-russian-firms-amid-pressure-from-us[22] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-january-16-2024[23] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-1-2024[24] https://armenpress dot am/eng/news/1130634.html ; https://www.pravda dot com.ua/eng/news/2024/02/19/7442526/[25] https://armenpress dot am/eng/news/1130634.html ; https://www.pravda dot com.ua/eng/news/2024/02/19/7442526/ ; https://cis.minsk dot by/page/178/alma-atinskaa-deklaracia-g-alma-ata-21-dekabra-1991-goda[26] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-january-30-2024 ; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-january-20-2024 ; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-1-2024 ; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-january-23-2024 ; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-january-24-2024 ; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-january-29-2024[27] https://t.me/zvizdecmanhustu/1639[28] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-7-2024[29] https://t.me/zvizdecmanhustu/1639[30] https://t.me/zvizdecmanhustu/1640[31] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02y2CXHaHBDHCcKbBsvvm4MBMivBwUuD6yxmWySwUP6yMrCmSBoKvjVgAXGRg2xTvrl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02AbqrSSSPxccWodc27FSnSbLunESste7Wtz1EYqoHueNYhnxYSUh5oiRM6mkTo9Mtl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02tdCCSLyRUFkC9ZWdZdzFabqLa4hNBSQRKYE5m9HtSTHPrz3hcW4ZmUqCbvAf9ePJl ; https://t.me/mod_russia/35794 ; https://t.me/dva_majors/34860 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113554[32] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/02/19/okupanty-aktyvizuvalys-na-kupyanshhyni-perekydayut-rezervy-rechnyk-osuv-hortyczya/[33] https://t.me/dva_majors/34860 ; https://t.me/wargonzo/18280 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113484 ; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7501[34] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02y2CXHaHBDHCcKbBsvvm4MBMivBwUuD6yxmWySwUP6yMrCmSBoKvjVgAXGRg2xTvrl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02AbqrSSSPxccWodc27FSnSbLunESste7Wtz1EYqoHueNYhnxYSUh5oiRM6mkTo9Mtl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02tdCCSLyRUFkC9ZWdZdzFabqLa4hNBSQRKYE5m9HtSTHPrz3hcW4ZmUqCbvAf9ePJl ; https://t.me/mod_russia/35794 ; https://t.me/wargonzo/18280 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113511[35] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/02/19/okupanty-aktyvizuvalys-na-kupyanshhyni-perekydayut-rezervy-rechnyk-osuv-hortyczya/[36] https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113536 (Bakhmut direction) ; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62396 (Bohdanivka)[37] https://t.me/RKadyrov_95/4493[38] https://t.me/MaksymZhorin/5015 ; https://t.me/brygada47/490 ; https://t.me/mod_russia/35794[39] https://t.me/rybar/57268 ; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62340 ; https://t.me/negumanitarnaya_pomosch_Z/14980 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113491 ; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/54095 ; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/54093[40] https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113466 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113485 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113511[41] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02y2CXHaHBDHCcKbBsvvm4MBMivBwUuD6yxmWySwUP6yMrCmSBoKvjVgAXGRg2xTvrl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02AbqrSSSPxccWodc27FSnSbLunESste7Wtz1EYqoHueNYhnxYSUh5oiRM6mkTo9Mtl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02tdCCSLyRUFkC9ZWdZdzFabqLa4hNBSQRKYE5m9HtSTHPrz3hcW4ZmUqCbvAf9ePJl ; https://t.me/mod_russia/35794 ; https://t.me/wargonzo/18280 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113491 ; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/54095 ; https://t.me/notes_veterans/15669[42] https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62339 ; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62344 ; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62348 ; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62365 ;https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113497 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113502 ;https://t.me/milinfolive/116629[43] https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62372 (Pervomaiske) ; https://t.me/nm_dnr/11799 (Nevelske)[44] https://t.me/mod_russia/35759 ; https://www.facebook.com/110separatebrigade/posts/pfbid02XGrtFXg2XWe8dtpyotXACF16ZG2Wkz15bpDcCz1TwhbQUJpkXjejBsc3BVaKPvUWl?locale=uk_UA ; https://suspilne dot media/688152-vodi-lisalos-na-dobu-cetvero-ne-mogli-hoditi-vijskovosluzbovec-110-brigadi-akij-buv-v-avdiivci-na-zeniti/[45] https://isw.pub/UkrWar021724[46] https://t.me/ssternenko/25443; https://twitter.com/thisisnotdirk/status/1759482076502348054; https://twitter.com/sternenko/status/1758938064099930168[47] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02y2CXHaHBDHCcKbBsvvm4MBMivBwUuD6yxmWySwUP6yMrCmSBoKvjVgAXGRg2xTvrl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02AbqrSSSPxccWodc27FSnSbLunESste7Wtz1EYqoHueNYhnxYSUh5oiRM6mkTo9Mtl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02tdCCSLyRUFkC9ZWdZdzFabqLa4hNBSQRKYE5m9HtSTHPrz3hcW4ZmUqCbvAf9ePJl ; https://t.me/wargonzo/18280[48] https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113533[49] https://t.me/wargonzo/18280 ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02y2CXHaHBDHCcKbBsvvm4MBMivBwUuD6yxmWySwUP6yMrCmSBoKvjVgAXGRg2xTvrl[50] https://t.me/dva_majors/34861[51] https://twitter.com/EjShahid/status/1759605396291915783 ; https://twitter.com/EjShahid/status/1759605474352091387; https://t.me/operationalcommandwest/155 ; https://t.me/gnilayachereha/14217 ; https://x.com/moklasen/status/1759663907705061523?s=20 ; https://t.me/operationalcommandwest/154; https://t.me/WarArchive_ua/11207[52] https://t.me/rusich_army/13237 https://t.me/dva_majors/34888 ; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62377 ; https://t.me/z_arhiv/26081 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113485 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113575 ; https://t.me/NeoficialniyBeZsonoV/33334 ; https://t.me/smotri_z/26098 ; https://t.me/rybar/57275 ; https://t.me/rybar/57293[53] https://t.me/negumanitarnaya_pomosch_Z/14999 ; https://t.me/rusich_army/13237 https://t.me/dva_majors/34888 ; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62377 ; https://t.me/z_arhiv/26081 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113485 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113575 ; https://t.me/NeoficialniyBeZsonoV/33334 ; https://t.me/smotri_z/26098 ; https://t.me/rybar/57275 ; https://t.me/rybar/57293[54] https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113559 ; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7488 ; https://t.me/dva_majors/34856 ;[55] https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7513 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113575[56] https://t.me/otarnavskiy/513[57] https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113575 ; https://t.me/tass_agency/232475 ; https://t.me/dva_majors/34860 ; https://t.me/rybar/57265 ; https://t.me/vysokygovorit/14680 ;[58] https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113575 ; https://t.me/tass_agency/232475 ; https://t.me/dva_majors/34860 ; https://t.me/rybar/57265 ; https://t.me/vysokygovorit/14680 ;[59] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02y2CXHaHBDHCcKbBsvvm4MBMivBwUuD6yxmWySwUP6yMrCmSBoKvjVgAXGRg2xTvrl[60] https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62342 (Verbove) ; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62387 ; https://t.me/rusich_army/13240 ; https://t.me/batalyon15/3848 ; https://t.me/grey_zone/22015 (Robotyne)[61] https://t.me/dva_majors/34899 ; https://t.me/ZA_FROHT/26607 (Pyatykhatky) ;https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113575 (kamianske)[62] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02AbqrSSSPxccWodc27FSnSbLunESste7Wtz1EYqoHueNYhnxYSUh5oiRM6mkTo9Mtl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02tdCCSLyRUFkC9ZWdZdzFabqLa4hNBSQRKYE5m9HtSTHPrz3hcW4ZmUqCbvAf9ePJl ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02y2CXHaHBDHCcKbBsvvm4MBMivBwUuD6yxmWySwUP6yMrCmSBoKvjVgAXGRg2xTvrl[63] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/02/19/nataliya-gumenyuk-poyasnyla-chomu-vorog-ekonomyt-bronetehniku-na-livoberezhzhi-hersonshhyny/[64] https://t.me/kpszsu/10847[65] https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/19/na-dnipropetrovshhyni-ukrayinska-ppo-znyshhyla-vorozhu-kerovanu-raketu-h-59/ ; https://www.facebook.com/pvkshid/posts/pfbid02JKGzMXwwefY9DJjxcQpSf81wbXqB6yopueq8n3Mne8Ju3mQ8EXFSqsjE1kFVpnnWl[66] https://www.rbc dot ru/politics/19/02/2024/65d35ce59a79475143ad5638 ; https://t.me/tass_agency/232481[67] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-december-3-2023[68] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-january-15-2024[69] https://t.me/rybar/57295 ; https://t.me/belarusian_silovik/30298[70] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-january-28-2024[71] https://t.me/tass_agency/232508 ; https://www.rbc dot ru/politics/19/02/2024/65d37ee29a79475bb8a449bf[72] https://www.rbc dot ru/politics/19/02/2024/65d37ee29a79475bb8a449bf[73] https://www.facebook.com/ukrainianarmor/posts/pfbid0Rnx6wYu9dwyiPPMvHADjcmJtPNio82PkTWWUc13BN5TY9PNXxX2NqzPgt282bbL9l?ref=embed_post ; https://mil dot in.ua/uk/news/syly-oborony-otrymaly-tysyachi-122-mm-artylerijskyh-postriliv/[74] https://www.themoscowtimes dot com/2024/02/16/russia-lifts-ecuador-banana-ban-after-us-arms-deal-a84103 ; https://www.barrons.com/news/ecuador-backtracks-on-plan-to-send-weapons-to-ukraine-03a4bb28[75] https://www.kommersant dot ru/doc/6522522?from=top_main_1[76] https://t.me/tass_agency/232470 ; https://t.me/malvovabelova/2819[77] https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/19/vid-pochatku-roku-z-okupacziyi-vdalosya-povernuty-16-ditej-hersonshhyny/ ; https://t.me/olexandrprokudin/2797[78] https://t.me/glava_lnr_info/2132[79] https://t.me/DIUkraine/3492[80] https://t.me/ivan_fedorov_zp/4682

[Author: ISWKF]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 2/26/24 9:58pm
Ashka Jhaveri, Andie Parry, Peter Mills, Amin Soltani, and Brian CarterInformation Cutoff: 2:00pm ET The Iran Update provides insights into Iranian and Iranian-sponsored activities abroad that undermine regional stability and threaten US forces and interests. It also covers events and trends that affect the stability and decision-making of the Iranian regime. The Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) provides these updates regularly based on regional events. For more on developments in Iran and the region, see our interactive map of Iran and the Middle East.Note: CTP and ISW have refocused the update to cover the Israel-Hamas war. The new sections address developments in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Lebanon, and Syria, as well as noteworthy activity from Iran’s Axis of Resistance. We do not report in detail on war crimes because these activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We utterly condemn violations of the laws of armed conflict and the Geneva Conventions and crimes against humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.Click here to see CTP and ISW’s interactive map of Israeli ground operations. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.The Houthi movement launched an anti-ship ballistic missile that struck and disabled the UK-owned, Belize-flagged Rubymar cargo ship in the Bab al Mandeb strait on February 18.[1] The Rubymar’s Lebanon-based management company said that the vessel took on water after the missile struck the vessel’s engine room.[2] The Houthi military spokesperson claimed that the cargo vessel had completely sunk about 22 hours after the attack occurred.[3] Neither the UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) nor CENTCOM has said that the Rubymar sunk. A warship operating under the auspices of Operation Prosperity Guardian and a commercial vessel responded to the attack.[4] The commercial vessel evacuated the Rubymar’s crew to Djibouti.[5] This incident marks the first time that a crew has had to abandon ship after a Houthi attack since Houthi attacks began during this round of escalation on November 19.[6] The Houthi military spokesperson falsely claimed that the Houthis “made sure that the ship’s crew exited safely.”[7]The Houthi movement claimed two attacks targeting a US-owned, Greece-flagged vessel and a Marshall-Islands flagged vessel in the Gulf of Aden on February 19.[8] The Houthi military spokesperson claimed that the Houthis fired anti-ship missiles at the US-owned and Greece-flagged Sea Champion and the Marshall Islands-flagged Navis Fortuna. The spokesperson said that the ships were both “American.”[9] The UKMTO reported two explosions lightly damaged one vessel 100 NM east of Aden.[10] British maritime security firm Ambrey said that the Sea Champion was “involved“ in the two explosions.[11]The Houthi movement claimed that it shot down a US MQ-9 Reaper drone over Hudaydah on February 19.[12] The group posted a video showing Houthi surface-to-air missile hitting the drone.[13] The video also showed the drone’s wreckage. The Houthi military spokesperson did not specify what type of missile system the Houthis used to shoot down the drone. Two US officials told the New York Times that the Pentagon is investigating the cause of the drone “crash.”[14] An unspecified US official told Voice of America that the Houthis previously shot down a Reaper drone over Yemen in early November 2023.[15]Local Houthi-affiliated media reported that US forces conducted a strike against an unspecified target in al Jabbana, Hudaydah Province. The Houthi movement spokesperson condemned US and UK strikes against Houthi targets near the time of the incident.[16] CENTCOM has not confirmed the airstrike.Key Takeaways:Yemen: The Houthi movement launched an anti-ship ballistic missile that struck and disabled the UK-owned, Belize-flagged Rubymar cargo ship in the Bab al Mandeb strait on February 18. This incident marks the first time that a crew has had to abandon ship after a Houthi attack since Houthi attacks began during this round of escalation on November 19.Northern Gaza Strip: Israeli forces are constructing a road in the Gaza Strip to divide the northern Gaza Strip from the southern Strip and facilitate Israeli raids. An IDF battalion commander working on the road said that Israeli forces will use the road to protect the area and control the flow of Gazans from north to south.Southern Gaza Strip: The IDF reported that Israeli forces are finishing clearing operation in western Khan Younis.Negotiations: The Qatari prime minister said that a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas should not require a hostage deal.Palestinian Politics: Russia invited Palestinian factions, including Hamas and PIJ, to meet in Moscow on February 26 for an “inter-Palestinian meeting.” The Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said that the PA will see if Hamas “is ready to reach an understanding.”Lebanon: The IAF conducted airstrikes that targeted two “Hezbollah military depots” near Sidon, Lebanon on February 19. This is the first time since October 7 Israel has conducted airstrikes in Sidon, which is roughly 30km north of the Litani River and 40km south of Beirut.Gaza StripAxis of Resistance campaign objectives:Erode the will of the Israeli political establishment and public to launch and sustain a major ground operation into the Gaza StripDegrade IDF material and morale around the Gaza Strip.Israeli forces are constructing a road in the Gaza Strip to divide the northern Gaza Strip from the southern Strip and facilitate Israeli raids.[17] An Israeli journalist embedded with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to observe the IDF’s construction of the new road. An IDF battalion commander working on the road said that Israeli forces will use the road to protect the area and control the flow of Gazans from north to south. The journalist reported that “the IDF was preparing for a very long stay” near the road.[18] Palestinian fighters have been infiltrating the northern Gaza Strip since early January and attempting to reconstitute their military capabilities and rebuild a governance system there.[19] Hamas’ return to providing services in areas that Israeli forces previously cleared undermines Israeli efforts to destroy Hamas.Palestinian militias attempted to disrupt Israeli operations in the northern Gaza Strip on February 19. Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) fighters fired rockets targeting Israeli forces in southern Gaza City, where the IDF are constructing the new dividing road.[20] Hamas and Palestinian Mujahideen Movement fighters conducted combined attacks using man-portable air defense systems to target Israeli drones and helicopters in southwestern Gaza City.[21] The Palestinian Mujahideen Movement is a Palestinian faction aligned with Hamas that has expressed close ties with Iran. Other Palestinian militias fired rockets targeting an IDF supply line and Israeli forces in the northern Gaza Strip.[22]The IDF Nahal Brigade (assigned to the 162nd Division) identified and killed a Palestinian fighter in Gaza City after the fighter fired a rocket from the central Gaza Strip into Israel.[23]The IDF reported that Israeli forces are finishing clearing operation in western Khan Younis.[24] Israeli forces “expanded” ground operations in western Khan Younis on January 22 and have engaged Palestinian militias there on a near-daily basis since.[25] Three IDF brigades are operating in western Khan Younis to target Hamas’ battalion in the area and destroy military infrastructure.[26] Israeli forces used a drone to identify a Palestinian militia cell approaching their position in western Khan Younis on February 19 and directed an airstrike to target the cell.[27]The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a leftist Palestinian militia aligned with Hamas in the current war, detonated an unspecified explosive device and fired a rocket-propelled grenade targeting Israeli armor near Nasser Hospital.[28] Hamas fighters returned from “areas of fighting” in western Khan Younis and reported that they targeted 15 Israeli soldiers inside a house.[29] These fighters’ inability to communicate with higher headquarters until returning to rear areas indicates that their commanders may be unable to transmit orders to fighters engaged with the IDF. Several other Palestinian militia groups experienced similar delays in reporting as Israeli forces advanced across the Gaza Strip.[30]Russia invited Palestinian factions, including Hamas and PIJ, to meet in Moscow on February 26 for an “inter-Palestinian meeting.”[31] Russian Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister and Special Representative for the Middle East Mikhail Bogdanov told Russian media on February 18 that Russia invited Palestinian factions that are based in different countries, including Syria and Lebanon. Bogdanov did not provide any additional details about the purpose of the meeting.[32] The Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said that the PA will see if Hamas “is ready to reach an understanding.“[33] A senior Hamas delegation last traveled to Moscow in late October 2023 to meet with Russian and Iranian officials.[34] Hamas praised Russia’s stance toward the Israel-Hamas war after the meeting.[35] Russia has framed itself as a possible mediator between Israel and Hamas.[36]The Qatari prime minister said that a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas should not require a hostage deal.[37] Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al Thani said that some unspecified countries believe that a hostage deal must be a condition of a ceasefire deal. Thani spoke at the Munich Security Conference on February 17, emphasizing the need to end the war. One of Israel’s stated war objectives is to recover the Hamas-held hostages from the Gaza Strip. Israel-Hamas negotiations have largely stalled since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined to send an Israeli delegation to Cairo for follow-up talks on February 14. Netanyahu refused to send a new delegation because Hamas demanded that Israel release thousands of Palestinian prisoners as part of the hostage deal.[38]Palestinian militias did not conduct indirect fire attacks into southern Israel from the Gaza Strip on February 19.West BankAxis of Resistance campaign objectives:Draw IDF assets and resources toward the West Bank and fix them thereIsraeli forces clashed with Palestinian fighters six times in the West Bank on February 19.[39] Unspecified Palestinian fighters threw an explosive device at a car northwest of Nablus that was operated by an Israeli civilian.[40] The attack injured one person.Israeli Army Radio reported that violence in the West Bank increased 350% in 2023 compared to 2022.[41] The IDF recorded 608 shooting, stabbing, explosive, and vehicle ramming attacks in 2023 compared to 170 attacks in 2022.[42] Three hundred shooting attacks took place in 2023, which is the highest number of shootings recorded since the Second Intifada in the early 2000s. The report did not specify how many attacks occurred after October 7. Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and other Palestinian militia groups have repeatedly called for violent attacks targeting Israeli security forces and Israeli settlers in the West Bank since October 7.[43]This map is not an exhaustive depiction of clashes and demonstrations in the West Bank.Southern Lebanon and Golan HeightsAxis of Resistance campaign objectives:Draw IDF assets and resources toward northern Israel and fix them thereSet conditions for successive campaigns into northern IsraelIranian-backed militias, including Lebanese Hezbollah, conducted six attacks from southern Lebanon into northern Israel on February 19.[44] Lebanese Hezbollah claimed three attacks targeting IDF positions along the Israel-Lebanon border.[45]The IAF conducted airstrikes that targeted two “Hezbollah military depots” near Sidon, Lebanon on February 19.[46] This is the first time since October 7 Israel has conducted airstrikes in Sidon, which is roughly 30km north of the Litani River and 40km south of Beirut.[47] A Reuters journalist reported that the IDF has conducted airstrikes further north into Lebanon at a higher frequency in recent weeks.[48]Recorded reports of attacks; CTP-ISW cannot independently verify impact.Iran and Axis of ResistanceAxis of Resistance campaign objectives:Demonstrate the capability and willingness of Iran and the Axis of Resistance to escalate against the United States and Israel on multiple frontsSet conditions to fight a regional war on multiple frontsHouthi President Mahdi al Mashat issued a decree declaring the United States and the United Kingdom “enemy states of Yemen” on February 19 for their support of Israel.[49] The decree states that Houthi forces should confront the United States and United Kingdom. Houthi attacks have consistently targeted US and UK interests prior to the declaration, however. Most Houthi attack claims now allege that the attacks’ targets are US or UK shipping. The Houthis increased claims focusing on “US or UK shipping” after combined US-UK airstrikes began targeting Houthi positions in Yemen in early January. Houthi attacks prior to early January framed most attacks as targeting Israeli-associated assets. The Houthis fire missiles and drones targeting ships without ties to the United States, United Kingdom or Israel. The Houthis attacked a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship transporting corn from Brazil to Iran on February 12, for example.[50]The European Council launched a Greek-led, defensive naval coalition to protect commercial vessels from Houthi attacks in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. The coalition, dubbed Operation Aspides, will be based out of Larissa, Greece and commanded by Greece. The EU mission will not take part in any military strikes and will only operate to provide “maritime situation awareness, accompany vessels, and protect them against attacks” at sea.[51]Western media reported on February 19 that Iranian-backed Shia Afghan militias fighters expressed “anger and frustration” at the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC)’s treatment of casualties within their ranks.[52] US airstrikes killed at least 12 fighters in the Fatemiyoun, an Iranian-backed Shia Afghan militia, in Syria on February 2. The New York Times reported that Fatemiyoun members and other unspecified Afghans were angered and frustrated because the IRGC was “silent” on the deaths of the Fatemiyoun fighters. Fatemiyoun members and other Afghans on pro-Fatemiyoun social media channels “questioned” the lack of IRGC acknowledgement of the Fatemiyoun casualties, with some suggesting that the IRGC Quds Forces discriminated against the Afghans. The IRGC ordinarily acknowledges or threatens to avenge the death of its own members. Local Iranian officials, clerics, and an unspecified IRGC representative attended some of the funeral ceremonies inside Iran for the Fatemiyoun fighters who were killed in Syria. Iran evacuated IRGC personnel from its military facilities in Syria but kept Fatemiyoun fighters stationed at those facilities ahead of the US strikes on February 2.[53]The IDF Air Force said that it has conducted a series of strikes targeting Iranian, Lebanese Hezbollah, and Syrian targets inside Syria since the start of the Israel-Hamas war.[54] The IDF previously reported on February 3 that it had conducted a series of airstrikes targeting more than 50 Hezbollah and Hezbollah-affiliated targets in Syria since the start of the war.[55][1] https://twitter.com/army21ye/status/1759473089400725978[2] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2024-02-19/houthi-hit-ship-rubymar-was-struck-in-engine-room-manager-says?srnd=premium[3] https://twitter.com/army21ye/status/1759639446176121257[4] https://twitter.com/CENTCOM/status/1759636773813068138[5] https://twitter.com/CENTCOM/status/1759636773813068138 ; https://www.reuters.com/world/ambrey-uk-registered-cargo-ship-reported-under-attack-bab-al-mandab-strait-2024-02-18/[6] https://t.me/army21ye/1399[7] https://twitter.com/army21ye/status/1759473089400725978[8] https://twitter.com/army21ye/status/1759639446176121257[9] https://twitter.com/army21ye/status/1759639446176121257[10] https://twitter.com/UK_MTO/status/1759563310314233912[11] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2024/feb/19/houthis-claim-cargo-ship-risk-sinking-red-sea-attack[12] https://twitter.com/army21ye/status/1759473089400725978[13] https://t.me/army21ye/1617[14] https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/19/us/politics/houthis-us-drone.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share&referringSource=articleShare[15] https://twitter.com/CarlaBabbVOA/status/1722361548272730244[16] https://twitter.com/TvAlmasirah/status/1759607980331291086[17] https://special.now14.co .il/article/כאן-כדי-להישאר-המבצע-ההנדסי-הגדול-של-צה/[18] https://special.now14.co .il/article/כאן-כדי-להישאר-המבצע-ההנדסי-הגדול-של-צה/[19] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/iran-update-january-16-2024; https://www.theguardian.com/world/2024/jan/30/hamas-returns-northern-gaza-new-offensive?CMP=share_btn_tw[20] https://t.me/sarayaps/17446[21] https://t.me/qassam1brigades/1625; https://t.me/qassam1brigades/1626[22] https://t.me/nedalps/3983; https://t.me/nedalps/3981; https://t.me/mojahdeenpal/4235[23] https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1759480794848837706[24] https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1759480836221776103[25] https://twitter.com/manniefabian/status/1749460612860592320[26] https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1759480836221776103; https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1759480845016932470; https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1759480852008862098; https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1756619544502694370[27] https://twitter.com/idfonline/status/1759480845016932470[28] https://t.me/mihwar_almuqawama/48231[29] https://t.me/qassam1brigades/1624[30] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/iran-update-january-6-2024[31] https://tass dot ru/politika/20002887; https://theins dot ru/news/269255; https://www.pravda dot com.ua/eng/news/2024/02/18/7442422/[32] https://tass dot ru/politika/20002887[33] https://www.pravda dot com.ua/eng/news/2024/02/18/7442422/[34] https://ria dot ru/20231026/khamas-1905438005.html[35] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/iran-update-october-26-2023[36] https://ria dot ru/20231026/khamas-1905438005.html[37] https://www.cnn.com/middleeast/live-news/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news-02-17-24/h_90dec7bec2fab386ae8333a32e99d9e5[38] https://www.axios.com/2024/02/14/gaza-hostage-talks-netanyahu-egypt-qatar; https://apnews.com/article/israel-hamas-war-news-02-14-2024-15eb8cbd5f15d52928711193081fe9c6[39] https://t.me/hamza20300/215500 ; https://t.me/hamza20300/215473 ; https://t.me/C_Military1/46041 ; https://t.me/kataebaqsapalestine/2993 ; https://t.me/AymanGouda/6055[40] https://twitter.com/hod_barel/status/1759634354303549653 ; https://t.me/C_Military1/46041 ; https://twitter.com/JoeTruzman/status/1759641374121689332[41] https://twitter.com/hod_barel/status/1759465859913773156[42] https://twitter.com/hod_barel/status/1759465859913773156[43] https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/why-west-bank-front-has-not-opened-so-far[44] https://t.me/C_Military1/46027 ; https://t.me/C_Military1/46026 ; https://t.me/C_Military1/46017 ; https://t.me/mmirleb/2116 ; https://t.me/mmirleb/2118 ; https://t.me/mmirleb/2120[45] https://t.me/mmirleb/2116 ; https://t.me/mmirleb/2118 ; https://t.me/mmirleb/2120[46] https://twitter.com/GLZRadio/status/1759612549215965218 ; https://twitter.com/manniefabian/status/1759599605069521181 ; https://twitter.com/Yossi_Mansharof/status/1759612040446976233?s=20[47] https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/mapping-clashes-along-israel-lebanon-border[48] https://twitter.com/timourazhari/status/1759619799384994200[49] https://twitter.com/Presidency_Ye/status/1759610152058044598[50] https://www.reuters.com/world/ambrey-says-bulker-was-targeted-by-missiles-bab-al-mandab-2024-02-12/[51] https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2024/02/19/security-and-freedom-of-navigation-in-the-red-sea-council-launches-new-eu-defensive-operation/.[52] https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/19/world/middleeast/us-strike-afghans-iran.html[53] https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/19/world/middleeast/us-strike-afghans-iran.html ; https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/03/us/politics/us-strikes-iran-militias-israel.html[54] https://x.com/AvichayAdraee/status/1753865730531979294?s=20 ; https://x.com/manniefabian/status/1759593684704600324?s=20[55] https://x.com/AvichayAdraee/status/1753865730531979294?s=20

[Author: ISWKF]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 2/26/24 9:58pm
Karolina Hird, Angelica Evans, Christina Harward, Nicole Wolkov, and Frederick W. KaganFebruary 18, 2024, 8pm ET Click here to see ISW’s interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report. Click here to see ISW’s 3D control of terrain topographic map of Ukraine. Use of a computer (not a mobile device) is strongly recommended for using this data-heavy tool. Click here to access ISW’s archive of interactive time-lapse maps of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These maps complement the static control-of-terrain map that ISW produces daily by showing a dynamic frontline. ISW will update this time-lapse map archive monthly. Note: The data cut-off for this product was 2:00pm ET on February 18. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the February 19 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.Ukrainian forces will likely be able to establish new defensive lines not far beyond Avdiivka, which will likely prompt the culmination of the Russian offensive in this area. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed on February 18 that elements of the Russian Central Grouping of Forces completely captured Avdiivka, advancing 8.6 kilometers in depth in the area, and that Russian forces continue offensive operations to capture additional territory in Donetsk Oblast.[1] Several Russian milbloggers claimed on February 18 that Ukrainian forces lack well prepared defensive positions west of Avdiivka and that Russian forces will be able to advance further into western Donetsk Oblast behind “panicked” and “disorganized” Ukrainian forces withdrawing from Avdiivka.[2] ISW has still not observed footage of disorderly Ukrainian withdrawals to support these Russian claims and would expect to observe such footage if the withdrawal was disorderly on a large scale given the normal patterns of Russian sources with access to such material. One Russian milblogger claimed that a large-scale collapse of the Avdiivka front is “unlikely” as Ukrainian forces withdraw to prepared defensive lines, however, indicating that the Russian understanding (or presentation) of Ukrainian defensive capabilities on this sector of the front differs from source to source.[3]Available imagery, which ISW will not present or describe in greater detail at this time to preserve Ukrainian operational security, does not support claims that Ukrainian forces lack prepared defensive positions west of Avdiivka. The Ukrainian command also recently committed fresh units to the Avdiivka front to counterattack advancing Russian forces and provide an evacuation corridor for Ukrainian units withdrawing from Avdiivka.[4] These newly committed units are likely able to establish and hold defensive positions against Russian forces, degraded by their assaults on the town, west of Avdiivka. Russian forces, which have suffered high personnel and equipment losses in seizing Avdiivka, will likely culminate when they come up against relatively fresher Ukrainian units manning prepared defensive positions. Delays in Western security assistance to Ukraine are likely helping Russia launch opportunistic offensive operations along several sectors of the frontline in order to place pressure on Ukrainian forces along multiple axes. Russian forces are currently conducting at least three offensive efforts—along the Kharkiv-Luhansk Oblast border, particularly in the directions of Kupyansk and Lyman; in and around Avdiivka; and near Robotyne in western Zaporizhia Oblast. After the withdrawal of Ukrainian forces from Avdiivka and the subsequent Russian claim of control over the entirety of Avdiivka, ISW and several Ukrainian and Western sources assessed that delays in Western security assistance, namely artillery ammunition and critical air defense systems, inhibited Ukrainian troops from defending against Russian advances in Avdiivka.[5] Critical Ukrainian shortages in Western-provided equipment and fears of the complete the cessation of US military aid have forced Ukrainian troops to husband materiel along the entire front, which has likely encouraged Russian forces to exploit the situation and launch limited offensive operations outside of the Avdiivka area, which they have done along the Kharkiv-Luhansk Oblast border area since early January 2024 and in western Zaporizhia Oblast over the past 48 hours. These Russian offensive efforts will likely hinder Ukrainian forces from preparing personnel and materiel for renewed counteroffensive operations, emphasizing the operational disadvantages that Ukraine will suffer if it simply digs in and attempts to defend for the rest of 2024 as some Western states and analysts advocate.[6]Russian forces are likely seeking to take advantage of two windows of opportunity with the recent initiation of their simultaneous offensive operations—the period before the upcoming spring thaw and the nuanced dynamics of Western aid provision. Ukraine is heading into its rasputitsa season, the Spring period in which the frozen winter ground thaws and makes mechanized movement more difficult throughout the theater, thereby slowing (but notably not entirely stopping) offensive operations along the frontline. Some Russian milbloggers are already reporting that mud in southern Ukraine is inhibiting Ukrainian forces from bringing new reserves to Zaporizhia Oblast to reinforce against Russian offensive efforts, and these conditions will also likely slow Russian offensive momentum as the weather continues to warm.[7] Russian forces are likely trying to secure tactical advances throughout the theater while the terrain and weather generally favor offensive movement in order to exhaust and attrit defending Ukrainian forces as well as to secure favorable positions for future operations before the rasputitsa begins in earnest. The Russian military command, furthermore, likely realizes that security assistance from Ukraine’s European partners, particularly promised European deliveries of artillery ammunition, will begin to have effects in the medium term, likely before Fall 2024, and is trying to take advantage of Ukraine’s current shell hunger to pressure Ukrainian troops throughout the theater while Ukraine experiences a relative (but likely temporary) artillery disadvantage.[8] The eventual provision of more European security assistance to Ukraine, however, will not fill the gap in critical equipment that the full cessation of US military assistance would create, particularly with advanced air defense systems such as Patriot surface-to-air missiles. The scaling-up of European security assistance is necessary but not sufficient for Ukrainian forces to stabilize the front, let alone to regain the initiative in areas where Russian forces are pressing.The Russian capture of Avdiivka after four months of intensified offensive operations exemplifies the way that Russian forces pursue offensive operations that do not necessarily set conditions for wider operational gains but still force Ukraine to commit manpower and materiel to defensive operations. Russian forces have been fighting near Avdiivka for most of the full-scale invasion thus far and intensified operations to capture the city in mid-October 2023.[9] In the subsequent four months since October, Russian forces managed to advance nearly nine kilometers in Avdiivka according to Russian estimates.[10] Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Commander Brigadier General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi stated on February 18 that during this four month period, Russian forces lost over 47,000 personnel, 364 tanks, 248 artillery systems, 748 armored fighting vehicles, and five aircraft.[11] Russian forces were also unable to complete a full operational encirclement of Avdiivka within that four-month window, and Ukrainian forces appear to have been able to withdraw in mainly good order. A Russian milblogger and volunteer with the 4th Motorized Rifle Brigade (2nd Luhansk People’s Republic Army Corps [LNR AC]) remarked on the rate of Russian losses compared with the territory gained on February 17, suggesting that even some Russian sources are cognizant of the extremely high price these limited Russian gains have cost.[12] The milblogger claimed that Russian forces suffered 16,000 “irretrievable losses” (likely those killed in action, whereas Tarnavskyi’s estimate may have also included wounded) in the Avdiivka direction since October 2023.[13] The milblogger also sardonically noted that the tank regiments and tank divisions that were operating near Avdiivka “distinguished” themselves by advancing a few kilometers in four months and taking massive personnel losses.[14] By contrast, according to the milblogger, Ukrainian forces suffered far fewer losses and were able to withdraw to prepared defensive positions mostly on their own terms, meaning that exhausted and attrited Russian forces will now have to once again fight Ukrainian troops on new lines. Russian forces succeeded in drawing Ukrainian forces to Avdiivka and away from other areas of the front and forcing Ukrainians to use up already limited Ukrainian stores of critical equipment but did so without securing major operational gains. This outcome is likely to recur in ongoing offensive operations on the Kharkiv-Luhansk Oblast border line and in western Zaporizhia Oblast.Russian forces have not yet demonstrated an ability to secure operationally significant gains or conduct rapid mechanized maneuver across large swaths of territory, and the capture of Avdiivka should not be taken as demonstrating this capability. ISW distinguishes between tactical gains, relevant at the tactical level of war in the near vicinity of the fighting, and operational gains which are significant at the operational level of war and affect large sectors of the entire front line. When ISW assesses that a given advance has or has not made “operationally significant” gains we are referring to this distinction. Since the intensification of Russian offensive efforts in Avdiivka in October 2023, Russian forces managed to traverse fewer than 10 kilometers through and around Avdiivka. Avdiivka is nearly 60 kilometers from the Donetsk Oblast border, however. Russian forces would need to conduct widespread and competent cross-country maneuvers to reach the borders of the oblast in a period of less than years and would have to go even further and through more fortified territory to reach the Slovyansk-Kramatorsk area in northern Donetsk Oblast. Russian forces have not displayed the capability to conduct such maneuvers, either near Avdiivka or in any other sector of the front. Russian offensive efforts to take Kupyansk could plausibly force Ukrainians to the left bank of the Oskil River, but Russian forces in this area have remained largely impaled on small tactical positions in the Kupyansk direction for months.[15] Russian offensive efforts south of Orikhiv are unlikely to advance past Orikhiv itself or even to reach Orikhiv quickly, given the climatological challenges discussed above.Ukrainian officials are investigating two instances of apparent Russian violations of the Geneva Convention on prisoners of war (POWs) in occupied Donetsk Oblast. The Ukrainian General Prosecutor’s Office reported that it is investigating footage published on February 18 showing Russian forces executing six injured Ukrainian POWs near Avdiivka and footage showing Russian forces executing two Ukrainian POWs near Vesele (northwest of Bakhmut).[16] The killing of POWs violates Article III of the Geneva Convention on the treatment of POWs.[17]Russian milbloggers criticized the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) for failing to recognize 1st Donetsk People’s Republic Army Corps (DNR AC) Commander Lieutenant General Sergei Milchakov and the “Veterany” Assault Brigade (Volunteer Corps) for aiding in the Russian capture of Avdiivka, highlighting continued tension between Russian regular and irregular forces. A prominent Russian milblogger complained that Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Russian Central Grouping of Forces commander Colonel General Andrei Mordvichev for capturing Avdiivka, but not Milchakov, who the milblogger claimed has led the 1st DNR AC since its previous commander’s death in Popasna, Luhansk Oblast.[18] Russian milbloggers also complained that Putin and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu did not credit the “Veterany” Assault Brigade with the Russian capture of Avdiivka, although noted that the Russian MoD later edited its statement to credit the “Veterany” Assault Brigade.[19] The Russian MoD may have edited its statement to credit the ”Veterany” Assault Brigade in an effort to prevent wider complaints from spreading in the Russian ultranationalist information space and appeal to Russian volunteer servicemen (dobrovoltsy). Tension between Russian regular and irregular forces – especially the 1st DNR Army Corps and DNR-affiliated formations – has continued throughout the war despite, and likely in part because of, ongoing Russian efforts to formalize irregular formations.[20]The Washington Post reported that the Kremlin has been orchestrating a large-scale effort to spread disinformation in the Ukrainian media since January 2023, corroborating recent Ukrainian official reports about Russian information operations that use fake Telegram channels to infiltrate the Ukrainian information space.[21] The Washington Post reported on February 16 that it gained access to more than 100 Kremlin documents obtained by unspecified European intelligence services that show that the Kremlin has been overseeing Russian troll farms that use social media and fake news articles on Telegram, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to penetrate Ukrainian media and promote various Kremlin narratives. These narratives include claims about exaggerated Ukrainian losses and how the West intends to replace Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, among many others. Russian First Deputy Presidential Chief of Staff Sergei Kiriyenko reportedly tasked a team of Kremlin officials and political strategists, including Kiriyenko’s deputy, Alexander Kharichev, who is reportedly known for “fixing” Russian elections to produce the Kremlin’s desired outcome, to oversee these efforts in January 2023. The Washington Post reported that Russian trolls were producing over 1,300 texts and 37,000 comments on Ukrainian social media every week by March 2023. The documents reportedly indicate that Kiriyenko identified the effort’s four key objectives at a meeting in January 2023: discrediting Ukrainian military and political leadership, splitting the Ukrainian elite, demoralizing the Ukrainian military, and disorienting the Ukrainian population. The documents reportedly showed that officials at nearly weekly meetings highlighted some of the fake posts in Ukrainian media that garnered high numbers of views, including a post alleging that the Ukrainian state is not helping the families of killed Ukrainian military personnel, which received two million views, and a post claiming that former Ukrainian commander-in-chief General Valerii Zaluzhnyi could become the next Ukrainian president, which received 4.3 million views. Kiriyenko also reportedly tasked another deputy, Tatyana Matveeva, to oversee a similar effort aimed at spreading disinformation and fake news in European information spaces, including in France and Germany, and the team overseeing the information operations in the Ukrainian media tried to reuse the disinformation spread in European media, including allegations that Zelensky is involved in military procurement corruption schemes.[22] The Ukrainian Center for Countering Disinformation reported on December 21, 2023, that Russian actors planned to promote several information operations aimed at degrading Ukrainian morale through a network of fake Telegram channels disguised as official accounts of Ukrainian regional officials and military brigades that would promote several narratives, including those about alleged divisions between Ukrainian political and military leadership and allegations of Ukrainian government corruption.[23]Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced on February 18 that Denmark is donating its “entire artillery” to Ukraine.[24] The Danish government had not issued an official statement with details of the announcement at the time of this writing, and it is unclear if Denmark will give Ukraine all of its artillery guns, all of its artillery ammunition stocks, or both.The US is reportedly turning to India and China to engage Russia about Russia’s reported intent to launch an unspecified anti-satellite nuclear weapon into space. The New York Times (NYT) reported on February 17 that US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken spoke with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar at the Munich Security Conference about the possibility of Russia deploying a nuclear weapon into space that would, if detonated, disrupt American, Chinese, and Indian satellites and affect global communications systems. Blinken reportedly urged Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin about the matter. The NYT reported that Wang reiterated the importance of the peaceful use of outer space for China. The NYT stated that US officials agree that if Russia deployed a nuclear weapon into orbit in space, Russia would likely not detonate it but would keep it in low orbit as a deterrence measure. Reuters reported on February 15, however, that analysts following Russian space programs indicated that Russia is likely trying to deploy a nuclear powered-device to carry out attacks against satellites and not a weapon with a nuclear warhead.[25] Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba met with Wang on February 17 to discuss Chinese-Ukrainian trade and the need for stable peace in Ukraine, suggesting that China is hesitant to support Russia‘s war in Ukraine at the level Russia desires, as ISW continues to assess.[26]Key Takeaways:Ukrainian forces will likely be able to establish new defensive lines not far beyond Avdiivka, which will likely prompt the culmination of the Russian offensive in this area.Delays in Western security assistance to Ukraine are likely helping Russia launch opportunistic offensive operations along several sectors of the frontline in order to place pressure on Ukrainian forces along multiple axes.Russian forces are likely seeking to take advantage of two windows of opportunity with the recent initiation of their simultaneous offensive operations—the period before the upcoming spring thaw and the nuanced dynamics of Western aid provision.The Russian capture of Avdiivka after four months of intensified offensive operations exemplifies the way that Russian forces pursue offensive operations that do not necessarily set conditions for wider operational gains but still force Ukraine to commit manpower and materiel to defensive operations.Russian forces have not yet demonstrated an ability to secure operationally significant gains or conduct rapid mechanized maneuver across large swaths of territory, and the capture of Avdiivka should taken as demonstrating this capability.Ukrainian officials are investigating two instances of apparent Russian violations of the Geneva Convention on prisoners of war (POWs) in occupied Donetsk Oblast.Russian milbloggers criticized the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) for failing to recognize 1st Donetsk People’s Republic Army Corps (DNR AC) Commander Lieutenant General Sergei Milchakov and the “Veterany” Assault Brigade (Volunteer Corps) for aiding in the Russian capture of Avdiivka, highlighting continued tension between Russian regular and irregular forces.The Washington Post reported that the Kremlin has been orchestrating a large-scale effort to spread disinformation in the Ukrainian media since January 2023, corroborating recent Ukrainian official reports about Russian information operations that use fake Telegram channels to infiltrate the Ukrainian information space.Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced on February 18 that Denmark is donating its “entire artillery” to Ukraine.The US is reportedly turning to India and China to engage Russia about Russia’s reported intent to launch an unspecified anti-satellite nuclear weapon into space.Russian forces recently made a confirmed advance in western Zaporizhia amid continued positional engagements along the entire line of contact on February 18.Russian occupation officials continue to use educational programs as means of Russifying occupied Ukraine. We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because these activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We will continue to evaluate and report on the effects of these criminal activities on the Ukrainian military and the Ukrainian population and specifically on combat in Ukrainian urban areas. We utterly condemn Russian violations of the laws of armed conflict and the Geneva Conventions and crimes against humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.Russian Main Effort – Eastern Ukraine (comprised of two subordinate main efforts)Russian Subordinate Main Effort #1 – Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and encircle northern Donetsk OblastRussian Subordinate Main Effort #2 – Capture the entirety of Donetsk OblastRussian Supporting Effort – Southern AxisRussian Air, Missile, and Drone CampaignRussian Mobilization and Force Generation EffortsRussian Technological AdaptationsActivities in Russian-occupied areasUkrainian Defense Industrial Base EffortsRussian Information Operations and NarrativesSignificant Activity in BelarusRussian Main Effort – Eastern UkraineRussian Subordinate Main Effort #1 – Luhansk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and northern Donetsk Oblast)Russian forces reportedly redeployed units to the Kupyansk-Svatove area. Ukrainian military observer Kostyantyn Mashovets stated on February 18 that the Russian command redeployed units of the 7th Motorized Rifle Regiment (11th Army Corps, Baltic Sea Fleet) to the area east of Ivanivka (east of Kupyansk) from Belgorod and Bryansk oblast border areas, where the Russian command initially redeployed them in early January 2024.[27] Mashovets also stated on February 18 that elements of the Russian 2nd Motorized Rifle Division (1st Guards Tank Army, Western Military District) unsuccessfully attempted to advance towards the Kyslivka-Kotlyarivka line (northwest of Svatove) from the Tabaivka-Krokhmalne area (south of the Kyslivka-Kotlyarivka line).[28] Mashovets stated that Russian forces in the Tabaivka-Krokhmalne area have redirected their efforts to advancing towards Pishchane (west of Krokhmalne) and that the redeployment of elements of the 7th Motorized Rifle Regiment near Ivanivka is “directly and immediately” related to failures by elements of the 2nd Motorized Rifle Division to make significant advances in the Tabaivka area.Positional engagements continued near Kreminna on February 18, but there were no confirmed changes to the frontline in this area. Ukrainian and Russian sources stated that positional engagements continued west of Kreminna near Terny, Yampolivka, and Torske and south of Kreminna near Bilohorivka.[29] Mashovets stated that Russian forces introduced almost the entire 67th Motorized Rifle Division (25th Combined Arms Army [CAA], reportedly either Central Military District [CMD] or Eastern Military District), including its 31st and 27th Motorized Rifle Regiments, 19th Tank Regiment, and an unspecified number of attached units, to the Yampolivka direction (west of Kreminna).[30] Russia formed the 25th CAA in 2023, and its constituent elements are likely not staffed to full doctrinal end strength.[31] Mashovets stated at least three reinforced Russian motorized rifle battalions are operating in the first echelon near Yampolivka but have failed to advance towards Yampolivka itself.[32] Mashovets has previously stated that the Russian command likely redeployed various Russian units to the Lyman direction to relieve elements of the 90th Tank Division (41st CAA, CMD) and allow the full 90th Tank Division to deploy to the Avdiivka direction, where some of the 90th Tank Division’s constituent elements had already been operating.[33] The redeployment of elements of the 67th Motorized Rifle Division could be intended to replace Russian forces in the area that redeployed to the Avdiivka direction rather than meant as providing operational-level reinforcements. Elements of the Russian 7th Motorized Rifle Brigade and the “GORB” detachment (both of the 2nd Luhansk People’s Republic [LNR] Army Corps) are reportedly operating near Bilohorivka.[34] Russian Subordinate Main Effort #2 – Donetsk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)The Ukrainian General Staff reported limited and unsuccessful Russian attacks near Vyimka (northeast of Bakhmut) on February 18.[35]Limited positional engagements continued near Bakhmut on February 18, but there were no confirmed changes to the frontline in this area. Ukrainian and Russian sources reported positional fighting near Bohdanivka (northwest of Bakhmut), Ivanivske (west of Bakhmut), and Klishchiivka and Andriivka (both southwest of Bakhmut).[36] A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces advanced towards Ivanivske, but ISW has not observed visual confirmation of this claim.[37] Elements of the Russian 98th Airborne (VDV) Division and 58th Spetsnaz Battalion (1st Donetsk People’s Republic Army Corps [DNR AC]) are reportedly operating in the Bakhmut direction.[38] Russian forces continued to clear recently captured positions in Avdiivka on February 18 after the Russian military command announced that Russian forces “completed the capture” of the settlement of February 17.[39] ISW has not yet observed footage showing such clearing operations but has no reason to doubt that Russian forces are currently clearing and consolidating positions as Ukrainian forces have withdrawn from the settlement over the past two days. Russian milbloggers widely claimed that Russian forces are clearing positions in Avdiivka, and a prominent Russian milblogger noted that limited Ukrainian forces likely remain at the Avdiivka Coke Plant and are still trying to withdraw.[40] The spokesperson for a Ukrainian brigade reported that Ukrainian forces still control an unspecified part of Avdiivka, likely on the outskirts of the settlement, and Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Spokesperson Dmytro Lukhoviy stated that the situation in Avdiivka has stabilized as Russian forces conduct fewer assaults.[41] The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that Russian forces advanced eight kilometers in depth on February 17 and captured a total area of nearly 32 square kilometers in Avdiivka.[42] Russian sources claimed that Russian forces are now trying to break through Ukrainian defenses near Lastochkyne (just west of Avdiivka) and are using small infantry groups for assaults on the outskirts of the settlement.[43] The Ukrainian General Staff reported the Ukrainian forces repelled Russian attacks near Lastochkyne.[44] Elements of the 1st “Slavic ” Brigade and “Sparta” Battalion (both of the 1st DNR AC); the “Veterany” Brigade (Russian Volunteer Corps); 30th and 15th Motorized Rifle Brigades (both of the 2nd Combined Arms Army [CAA], Central Military District [CMD]); and 35th, 55th and 74th Motorized Rifle Brigades (41st CAA, CMD) continue to operate in and around Avdiivka.[45]Limited positional engagements continued southwest of Avdiivka on February 18 but there were no confirmed changes to the frontline in this area. Ukrainian and Russian sources reported fighting near Pervomaiske and Nevelske.[46]Positional engagements continued west and southwest of Donetsk City on February 18, but there were no confirmed changes to this part of the frontline. Ukrainian and Russian sources reported fighting west of Donetsk City near Heorhiivka and southwest of Donetsk City near Pobieda and Novomykhailivka.[47] A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces are developing offensive operations towards Kurakhove from the Heorhiivka area.[48] Russian Supporting Effort – Southern Axis (Russian objective: Maintain frontline positions and secure rear areas against Ukrainian strikes)The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian attacks south of Prechystivka (southeast of Velyka Novosilka) and west of Staromayorske (south of Velyka Novosilka) on February 18.[49] Russian forces made a marginal confirmed gain in western Zaporizhia Oblast following reports of renewed offensive operations on this sector of the front. Geolocated footage posted on February 18 shows that Russian forces recently advanced along a windbreak north of Kopani (6km northwest of Robotyne).[50] Russian milbloggers also claimed that Russian forces advanced up to 1.7 kilometers northwest of Verbove (east of Robotyne) and up to two kilometers near Robotyne itself, although ISW has not observed visual evidence confirming such extensive Russian advances.[51] The Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces stated on February 18 that Ukrainian forces repelled a Russian attack consisting of ”a fairly large number of personnel” with about 30 vehicles in an unspecified area in the Zaporizhia direction (likely near Robotyne) on February 17, which corresponds with numerous Russian claims that Russian forces renewed offensives towards Robotyne on February 17.[52] A Russian milblogger complained that Russian forces used modernized Soviet era T-55 main battle tanks with poor anti-drone protection and weak hull and turret armor in a large assault near Robotyne on February 17.[53] Elements of the Russian 76th Airborne (VDV) Division and 70th Motorized Rifle Regiment (42nd Motorized Rifle Division, 58th Combined Arms Army [CAA], Southern Military District) reportedly continue operating near Robotyne.[54] Elements of the Russian 7th VDV Division reportedly continue operating in the Zaporizhia direction.[55] Positional engagements continued in the east (left) bank of Kherson Oblast near Krynky on February 18.[56] Ukrainian military observer Kostyantyn Mashovets stated that assault units of the Russian 26th and 28th Motorized Rifle Regiments (70th Motorized Rifle Division, 18th CAA, Southern Military District [SMD]); 144th Motorized Rifle Brigade (18th CAA, SMD); 328th and 337th VDV Regiments (104th VDV Division), 810th Naval Infantry Brigade (Black Sea Fleet), and “Storm” assault detachments continue to attack Ukrainian positions near Krynky.[57] Russian Air, Missile, and Drone Campaign (Russian Objective: Target Ukrainian military and civilian infrastructure in the rear and on the frontline)Ukrainian military officials reported on February 18 that Russian forces launched 14 Shahed-136/131 drones at Ukraine from occupied Crimea and Kursk Oblast, six S-300 anti-aircraft guided missiles from occupied Donetsk Oblast, three Kh-22 cruise missiles from Voronezh Oblast, a Kh-59 guided missile from occupied Zaporizhia Oblast, and an unspecified number of Iskander-M ballistic missiles from unspecified launch points on the night of February 17 to 18.[58] Ukrainian air defenses and electronic warfare (EW) systems intercepted and destroyed 12 Shahed drones and a Kh-59 missile over Chernihiv, Sumy, Poltava, Kirovohrad, and Dnipropetrovsk oblasts.[59] Ukrainian officials reported that three Russian Kh-22 missiles and an unspecified number of Iskander-M missiles struck Kramatorsk and Slovyansk, Donetsk Oblast, killing civilians and damaging civil infrastructure.[60] Ukrainian officials reported that two unspecified Russian missiles also struck a school in Selydove, Donetsk Oblast.[61]The Ukrainian Air Force reported that Ukrainian forces downed another Russian Su-34 aircraft in eastern Ukraine on the morning of February 18.[62] Ukrainian forces reportedly downed two Russian Su-34s and one Su-35 over Donetsk Oblast on February 17.[63]Russian Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts (Russian objective: Expand combat power without conducting general mobilization)Nothing significant to report.Russian Technological Adaptations (Russian objective: Introduce technological innovations to optimize systems for use in Ukraine)Russian news outlet Shot reported on February 18 that Ural Technoport Company recently began to mass produce a new drone variety, the “Antonov” drone, in Chelyabinsk Oblast, which is more resistant to wind and poor weather conditions than other drones.[64] The “Antonov” drone is reportedly capable of flying up to 140 kilometers per hour and carrying a payload weighing up to three kilograms. Shot claimed that the Ural Technoport Company will produce up to 500 “Antonov” drones per month for the Russian military for use in Ukraine. A Russian milblogger claimed that the “Antonov” drone is still undergoing tests.[65]Ukrainian Defense Industrial Efforts (Ukrainian objective: Develop its defense industrial base to become more self-sufficient in cooperation with US, European, and international partners)German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall announced on February 17 that it will open a new ammunition plant in Ukraine with a local Ukrainian joint venture partner. Rheinmetall noted that the plant will produce a “six-digit” number of 155mm caliber shells per year. Rheinmetall already announced that it will establish a repair center in Ukraine for Leopard tanks and other German-provided military equipment.[66]Ukrainian Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov stated on February 18 that the Ukrainian-made analog of the Russian Lancet loitering munitions has passed preliminary testing and that Ukrainian forces will soon test the model in combat.[67] Fedorov initially announced the Lancet analog on February 7.[68]Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte stated on February 17 that the Netherlands is “on schedule” to provide Ukraine with at least 24 F-16 aircraft but did not specify a date for the transfer.[69] Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anušauskas stated that the first F-16s may appear in Ukraine by June 2024.[70] The Netherlands is currently leading an international coalition alongside Denmark to provide F-16 aircraft to Ukraine and is involved in training efforts for Ukrainian pilots in Romania.[71]Activities in Russian-occupied areas (Russian objective: Consolidate administrative control of annexed areas; forcibly integrate Ukrainian citizens into Russian sociocultural, economic, military, and governance systems)Russian occupation officials continue to use educational programs as a means of Russifying occupied Ukraine. Zaporizhia Oblast occupation head Yevgeny Balitsky stated on February 18 that he attended a meeting of the supervisory board of the “Znanie” (Knowledge) Society, and that the organization will educate “a new generation of scientists and educators who are already becoming the driving force of cultural change” in occupied Ukraine.[72] “Znanie” is a Russian public non-profit that carries out education work in Russia and occupied Ukraine as part of a presidential mandate on “mass educational organization.”[73] Russian occupation officials appear to have recently intensified efforts to train Ukrainian youth to staff public service positions in the future, likely in an effort to provide a personnel pool for Russian occupation organs operating in occupied areas.[74]Russian Information Operations and NarrativesRussian Security Council Deputy Chairperson Dmitry Medvedev, a notable Russian nationalist and extreme voice in the Russian government, reiterated a Russian information operation aimed at undermining the continued provision of Western military aid to Ukraine. Medvedev claimed on February 18 that continued Western support for Ukraine could force Russia to use nuclear weapons against the West.[75] Medvedev routinely espouses alarmist nuclear rhetoric, and his February 18 statements are not an inflection in Russian rhetoric.Significant activity in Belarus (Russian efforts to increase its military presence in Belarus and further integrate Belarus into Russian-favorable frameworks and Wagner Group activity in Belarus)Nothing significant to report.Note: ISW does not receive any classified material from any source, uses only publicly available information, and draws extensively on Russian, Ukrainian, and Western reporting and social media as well as commercially available satellite imagery and other geospatial data as the basis for these reports. References to all sources used are provided in the endnotes of each update. [1] https://t.me/mod_russia/35757 ; https://t.me/mod_russia/35747 ; https://t.me/tass_agency/232252[2] https://t.me/dva_majors/34812 ; https://t.me/wargonzo/18258 ; https:...[3] https://t.me/sashakots/45058[4] https://suspilne dot media/686862-v-gur-zaavili-so-zabezpecuvali-evakuacijnij-koridor-dla-vihodu-ukrainskih-vijsk-z-avdiivki/ ; https://t.me/DIUkraine/3480 ; https://gur dot gov.ua/content/avdiivka.html[5] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-ass... https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/17/us/politics/biden-congress-avdiivka.html[6] https://isw.pub/UkrWar011924[7] https://t.me/dva_majors/34840[8] https://isw.pub/UkrWar020124 ; https://isw.pub/UkrWar013124 ; https:... https://isw.pub/UkrWar010524[9] https://isw.pub/UkrWar101223; https://isw.pub/UkrWar112423[10] https://t.me/mod_russia/35757[11] https://t.me/otarnavskiy/512[12] https://t.me/wehearfromyanina/3464[13] https://twitter.com/GirkinGirkin/status/1759092649514926262[14] https://t.me/wehearfromyanina/3464[15] https://isw.pub/UkrWar013024; https://isw.pub/UkrWar010524[16] h https://www.facebook.com/don.gp.gov.ua/posts/795976725902342 ; https://suspilne dot media/687312-za-faktami-rozstriliv-bezzbrojnih-ukrainskih-vijskovopolonenih-v-avdiivci-ta-veselomu-rozpocali-rozsliduvanna/; https://t.me/pgo_gov_ua/21837[17] https://ihl-databases.icrc.org/en/ihl-treaties/gciii-1949/article-3[18] https://t.me/wargonzo/18266 ; https://t.me/mod_russia/35747 ; https://t.me/tass_agency/232252[19] https://t.me/wargonzo/18257 ; https://t.me/batalyon15/3832 ; https://t.me/batalyon15/3833 ; https://t.me/mod_russia/35744[20] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-ass...[21] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign...[22] https://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Russian%20Offensive... https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2024/02/16/russian-disinformation-z...[23] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign...[24] https://www.newsweek.com/nato-denmark-ukraine-artillery-russia-avdiivka-...[25] https://www.reuters.com/technology/space/russia-seen-highly-unlikely-put...[26] https://twitter.com/DmytroKuleba/status/1758926484490641673 ; https://...[27] https://t.me/zvizdecmanhustu/1636; https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign...[28] https://t.me/zvizdecmanhustu/1636[29] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02BZRvrMxafAg6vURpaY...[30] https://t.me/zvizdecmanhustu/1636[31] https://isw.pub/UkrWar090123[32] https://t.me/zvizdecmanhustu/1636[33] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-ass...[34] https://t.me/sons_fatherland/12735[35] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02BZRvrMxafAg6vURpaY...[36] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02BZRvrMxafAg6vURpaY...[37] https://t.me/z_arhiv/26079; https://t.me/wargonzo/18273[38] https://t.me/dva_majors/34828 ; https://t.me/dva_majors/34829 ; http...(Chasiv Yar direction); https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62300 ; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62306 (Bakhmut)[39] https://t.me/mod_russia/35757[40] https://t.me/rybar/57246; https://t.me/negumanitarnaya_pomosch_Z/14941;...[41] https://suspilne dot media/686846-ukrainski-vijskovi-prodovzuut-kontroluvati-castinu-avdiivki-boi-trivaut-vijskovij-109-bataljonu-zsu-egor-firsov/; https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/02/18/u-sylah-oborony-povidomyly-pro-stabilizacziyu-sytuacziyi-na-avdiyivskomu-napryamku/[42] https://t.me/mod_russia/35757[43] https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62319; https://t.me/rybar/57260; https://t.me/n...[44] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02BZRvrMxafAg6vURpaY...[45] https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62295; https://t.me/batalyon15/3832 ; https://...[46] https://t.me/wargonzo/18258; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/p...[47] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02BZRvrMxafAg6vURpaY...[48] https://t.me/dva_majors/34836[49] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0Ngs1G7hguxKsSpuk8ry... https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02mQouUgwj3jYFQRQrQn... ; https://www.facebook.com/PresscentrTavria/posts/pfbid0EVgwF5DBjvRhRQioh6...[50] https://x.com/EjShahid/status/1759239455947329989?s=20; https://x.com/E... https://t.me/operationalcommandwest/152[51] https://t.me/rusich_army/13218 ; https://t.me/rybar/57255 ; https://t.me/dva_majors/34813 ; https://t.me/vysokygovorit/14674 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/113433 ; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62333 ; ht...[52] https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1755046978327751; https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-ass...[53] https://t.me/milinfolive/116594[54] https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62333 ; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62294 ; https:...[55] https://t.me/dva_majors/34810[56] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02BZRvrMxafAg6vURpaY... ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0Ngs1G7hguxKsSpuk8ry... https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid02mQouUgwj3jYFQRQrQn... ; https://t.me/wargonzo/18258[57] https://t.me/zvizdecmanhustu/1637[58] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0Ngs1G7hguxKsSpuk8ry... ua/2024/02/18/slovyansk-i-kramatorsk-rosiyany-obstrilyaly-raketamy-h-22-ta-iskander-m/ ; https://suspilne dot media/687020-u-slovansku-ta-kramatorsku-pid-zavalami-prodovzuut-sukati-ludej/ ; https://suspilne dot media/687064-u-kramatorsku-z-pid-zavaliv-distali-tretu-zagiblu/ ; https://t.me/kpszsu/10837[59] https://t.me/kpszsu/10837 ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0Ngs1G7hguxKsSpuk8ry...[60] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/02/18/slovyansk-i-kramatorsk-rosiyany-obstrilyaly-raketamy-h-22-ta-iskander-m/ ; https://suspilne dot media/687020-u-slovansku-ta-kramatorsku-pid-zavalami-prodovzuut-sukati-ludej/ ; https://suspilne dot media/687064-u-kramatorsku-z-pid-zavaliv-distali-tretu-zagiblu/ ; https://t.me/OleksiyKuleba/4064; https://t.me/VadimFilashkin_donoda/943...[61] https://t.me/selidyvskamva/14696 ; https://suspilne dot media/687008-armia-rf-vnoci-raketami-vdarila-po-selidovomu/[62] https://t.me/kpszsu/10837[63] https://isw.pub/UkrWar021724[64] https://t.me/shot_shot/62673[65] https://t.me/vysokygovorit/14675[66] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/ukraine%E2%80%99s-long-ter...[67] https://armyinform.com dot ua/2024/02/18/dva-ukrayinski-analogy-droniv-lanczet-projshly-vyprobuvannya-myhajlo-fedorov/[68] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign...[69] https://www.radiosvoboda.org/a/news-niderlandy-peredacha-ukrayini-f-16/3...[70] https://suspilne dot media/687212-persi-f-16-zavlatsa-v-ukrainskomu-nebi-orientovno-u-cervni-cogo-roku/; https://foreignpolicy.com/2024/02/17/msc-munich-security-conference-ukra...[71] https://www.defense.gov/News/News-Stories/Article/Article/3504621/us-wil... https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/denmark-netherlands-us-spearhead-cr...[72] https://t.me/BalitskyEV/2633[73] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-ass...[74] https://isw.pub/UkrWar021724[75] https://t.me/medvedev_telegram/448

[Author: Institute for the Study of War]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 2/26/24 9:27pm
Andie Parry, Annika Ganzeveld, Peter Mills, Alexandra Braverman, Ahmad Omid Arman, and Nicholas CarlInformation Cutoff: 2:00pm ETThe Iran Update provides insights into Iranian and Iranian-sponsored activities abroad that undermine regional stability and threaten US forces and interests. It also covers events and trends that affect the stability and decision-making of the Iranian regime. The Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) provides these updates regularly based on regional events. For more on developments in Iran and the region, see our interactive map of Iran and the Middle East.Note: CTP and ISW have refocused the update to cover the Israel-Hamas war. The new sections address developments in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Lebanon, and Syria, as well as noteworthy activity from Iran’s Axis of Resistance. We do not report in detail on war crimes because these activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We utterly condemn violations of the laws of armed conflict and the Geneva Conventions and crimes against humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.Click here to see CTP and ISW’s interactive map of Israeli ground operations. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.Key Takeaways:Northern and Central Gaza Strip: The Israel Defense Forces announced that its 162nd Division uncovered a Hamas tunnel network connecting the Central Gaza Governorate to the northern Gaza Strip over the past several weeks.Southern Gaza Strip: The Israel Defense Forces continued to conduct clearing operations in western Khan Younis. Palestinian militias targeted Israeli forces operating in Abasan al Kabira, east of Khan Younis.Political Negotiations: Hamas Political Bureau Chairman Ismail Haniyeh met with the Qatari Emir to discuss ceasefire negotiations.West Bank: Israeli forces clashed with Palestinian fighters at least three times in the West Bank. Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh resigned.Southern Lebanon and Golan Heights: Lebanese Hezbollah conducted at least nine attacks from southern Lebanon into northern Israel.Iraq: Several Iranian-backed Iraqi militias have signaled that they will resume conducting attacks targeting US forces in the Middle East.Syria: Local Syrian sources reported that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps is trying to rebuild its military infrastructure in Deir ez Zor Province, Syria.Yemen: US CENTCOM reported that it intercepted three Houthi one-way attack drones.Iran: The International Atomic Energy Organization disclosed to UN member states that Iran has reduced its stockpile of 60 percent enriched uranium since late October 2023.Gaza StripAxis of Resistance campaign objectives:Erode the will of the Israeli political establishment and public to launch and sustain a major ground operation into the Gaza StripDegrade IDF material and morale around the Gaza Strip.The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced that its 162nd Division uncovered a Hamas tunnel network connecting the Central Gaza Governorate to the northern Gaza Strip over the past several weeks.[1] The IDF Nahal Brigade and Yahalom combat engineering unit located at least 35 entrances to the 10-kilometer-long complex equipped with plumbing, storage rooms, bedrooms, and military equipment.[2] The tunnel passed under the Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital in the central Gaza Strip and extended to al Isra University in southern Gaza City.[3] The IDF said that Hamas used the tunnel system to transfer personnel between the Central Brigade and Gaza City Brigade, particularly between the Zaytoun Battalion, the Nuseirat Battalion, and Sabra Battalion.[4] CTP-ISW previously reported on the cross-governorate tunnel system on February 21 and assessed that Hamas battalions likely used the system to infiltrate previously cleared areas of the northern Gaza Strip.[5] The 162nd Division destroyed the tunnel complex after documenting the route.The IDF 162nd Division continued clearing operations in Zaytoun neighborhood, southeastern Gaza City, on February 26. The IDF 401st Brigade (assigned to the 162nd Division) “intensified attacks” in Zaytoun and killed over 30 Palestinian fighters.[6] The IDF Nahal Brigade (assigned to the 162nd Division) targeted at least 10 Palestinian fighters as part of the division-wide clearing operations in the Gaza City and Central Gaza governorates.[7] Palestinian militias claimed at least seven attacks targeting Israeli forces in their continued defense of southern Zaytoun on February 26.[8] Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and the al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades claimed several mortar attacks targeting Israeli forces south of Zaytoun.[9] The Palestinian Mujahideen Movement targeted Israeli armor with rockets and anti-tank missiles in Zaytoun.[10] Hamas, PIJ, and the National Resistance Brigades mortared Israeli armor and dismounted infantry east of Zaytoun in a combined operation on February 25.[11]The IDF continued to conduct clearing operations in western Khan Younis on February 26. The IDF 7th Armored Brigade and Unit 414 directed airstrikes on Palestinian fighters operating in Khan Younis.[12] The IDF Givati Brigade (assigned to the 162nd Division) ambushed and clashed with fighters in western Khan Younis.[13] Israeli forces seized grenades, ammunition, and other unspecified military equipment in clearing operations in Khan Younis.[14]Palestinian militias targeted Israeli forces operating in Abasan al Kabira, east of Khan Younis, on February 26. Hamas targeted about 20 Israeli personnel in Abasan al Kabira with anti-personnel devices.[15] Hamas fighters targeted Israeli armor in the same area.[16] PIJ and the al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, which is the self-proclaimed military wing of Fatah and aligned with Hamas in the war, both claimed sniper attacks targeting Israeli infantry in eastern Khan Younis.[17]Hamas Political Bureau Chairman Ismail Haniyeh met with the Qatari Emir to discuss ceasefire negotiations on February 26.[18] US, Qatari, and Egyptian officials proposed a new hostage deal to Israeli negotiators during discussions in Paris on February 24.[19] Israel reportedly agreed to a framework that would release up to 400 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for 40 Israeli hostages and a six-week truce under the new proposal.[20] Haniyeh claimed Hamas had shown great “flexibility and seriousness” in its contacts with mediators about the deal on February 26 but accused the Israeli government of stalling.[21]  Haniyeh stated that Hamas’ most important goal is to “stop the humanitarian catastrophe” in the northern Gaza Strip and indicated that food aid for civilians in northern Gaza should not be tied to any other negotiation issues.[22] Senior Israeli officials believe Hamas will not agree to the proposed ceasefire deal based on reports from Qatari mediators that the proposal does “not correspond with Hamas demands.”[23] An Israeli intelligence and military delegation reportedly arrived in Qatar on February 26 to set up an operational center to support negotiations.[24]The Israeli prime minister’s office said that the IDF presented the war cabinet with a plan for evacuating civilians from combat zones in the Gaza Strip on February 26.[25] The office did not specify the contents of the plan. An Israeli Army Radio correspondent reported that the IDF may allow women and children under the age of 14 to return to the northern Gaza Strip as part of Rafah evacuation plans.[26] The IDF would establish transit corridors and vet those returning to the northern Gaza Strip.[27] The same correspondent stated the IDF discussed establishing tent cities in the central Gaza Strip and Khan Younis for Gazans whose homes were destroyed.[28] Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told the families of Israeli hostages on February 26 that Israel would not allow Gazans to return to their homes in the northern Gaza Strip until Hamas releases all the hostages to ”maintain pressure.”[29] Another member of the three-man war cabinet, Benny Gantz, said on February 18 that the IDF would enter Rafah on March 10 if Hamas did not release the hostages it holds.[30]The Israeli war cabinet approved a “new” unspecified plan to distribute humanitarian assistance in the Gaza Strip.[31] The war cabinet said that the plan aims to ”prevent the looting that has occurred in the northern Strip” where Israel has accused Hamas of stealing aid.[32] An unnamed Israeli official reported that the war cabinet is considering what organizations can take over the aid provision function from the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) in the Gaza Strip.[33] Humanitarian organizations have struggled to provide aid to civilians in the northern Gaza Strip over the past several weeks, citing security breakdowns.[34]Palestinian militias conducted two rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip into Israel on February 26. PIJ fired a rocket barrage at the Kissufim military site.[35] The Palestinian Mujahideen Movement launched rockets at Reim.[36]West BankAxis of Resistance campaign objectives:Draw IDF assets and resources toward the West Bank and fix them thereIsraeli forces clashed with Palestinian fighters at least three times in the West Bank on February 26.[37]Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh resigned on February 26.[38] Shtayyeh had served as prime minister since 2019 and had participated in peace negotiations with Israel since 1991.[39] US and Palestinian officials stated that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will likely appoint a close confidante and chairman of the Palestinian Investment Fund, Mahammad Mustafa, as the next prime minister.[40]This map is not an exhaustive depiction of clashes and demonstrations in the West Bank.Southern Lebanon and Golan HeightsAxis of Resistance campaign objectives:Draw IDF assets and resources toward northern Israel and fix them thereSet conditions for successive campaigns into northern IsraelLebanese Hezbollah has conducted at least nine attacks from southern Lebanon into northern Israel since CTP-ISW's last data cutoff on February 25.[41] Hezbollah claimed that it intercepted an IDF Hermes 450 drone near Nabatiyeh, southern Lebanon, on February 26.[42] The IDF stated that its David’s Sling medium-range air defense system intercepted one of two surface-to-air missiles fired by Hezbollah targeting the drone.[43] The IDF conducted airstrikes targeting a Hezbollah air defense site that killed two Hezbollah fighters near Baalbek, Lebanon, following the incident.[44] This airstrike is the furthest airstrike inside Lebanon that Israel has conducted since October 7.[45] Hezbollah launched at least 60 rockets targeting an IDF site in the Golan Heights on February 26 in retaliation for the IDF airstrike near Baalbek.[46]The IDF killed senior Hezbollah commander Hassan Hossein Salami in southern Lebanon on February 26. The IDF described Salami as “commander of the Hajir sector” under Hezbollah’s Nasser unit and stated that Salami had previously organized attacks targeting IDF bases near Kiryat Shmona.[47] Israeli journalists described Salami’s rank within Hezbollah as equivalent to a brigade commander.[48] Hezbollah’s Nasser unit is one of the primary Hezbollah military formations south of the Litani River in Lebanon.[49]Recorded reports of attacks; CTP-ISW cannot independently verify impact.Iran and Axis of ResistanceAxis of Resistance campaign objectives:Demonstrate the capability and willingness of Iran and the Axis of Resistance to escalate against the United States and Israel on multiple frontsSet conditions to fight a regional war on multiple frontsSeveral Iranian-backed Iraqi militias have signaled that they will resume conducting attacks targeting US forces in the Middle East. The Islamic Resistance in Iraq—a coalition of Iranian-backed Iraqi militias—halted its attacks targeting US forces following a one-way drone attack that killed three US servicemembers in northeastern Jordan on January 28.[50] Ashab al Kahf—an Iranian-backed Iraqi militia close to Harakat Hezbollah al Nujaba—released statements on February 23 and 25, respectively, vowing to continue conducting attacks targeting US forces in the Middle East as well as Israel.[51] Ashab al Kahf also recently hung posters in Baghdad with an image of Harakat Hezbollah al Nujaba Secretary General Akram al Kaabi with the warning “the matter is settled, what is coming is greater.”[52]Kaabi separately released a statement on February 25 emphasizing that the current pause in attacks is a “temporary tactic” and the “calm before the storm.”[53] Kaabi claimed that “traitors” provided the United States with information about Iranian-backed Iraqi militia positions and that the militias must therefore “reposition” and “change [their] methods and tactics.”[54] Kaabi stated that Harakat Hezbollah al Nujaba does not oppose the ongoing negotiations between Washington and Baghdad about the status of the US-led international coalition in Iraq but described those who believe that the United States will leave Iraq via negotiations as “delusional.”[55] He claimed that the United States only understands “force and weapons.”[56]Prominent Iraqi Shia cleric Ammar al Hakim discussed the ongoing negotiations between Washington and Baghdad about the status of US-led international coalition forces in Iraq during a meeting with US Ambassador to Iraq Alina Romanowski on February 26.[57] The United States and Iraq began these negotiations in late January 2024.[58] Hakim praised the Mohammad Shia al Sudani administration’s efforts to establish “bilateral relationships” with the United States and International Coalition countries.[59] Hakim separately praised the December 2023 provincial council elections for “strengthening” Iraqi democracy but condemned recent “attempts to destabilize [Iraq] by resorting to violence and the use of weapons.” Hakim may have been referring to the recent rise in intra-Shia assassinations across Iraq.[60]Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammad Shia al Sudani met with Iranian Ambassador to Iraq Mohammad Kazem Al-e Sadegh on February 25.[61] Iraqi and Iranian media reported that Sudani and Sadegh discussed “bilateral relations” and Iraqi development projects but did not provide further details about what the two officials discussed.[62] Sadegh is a senior officer in the IRGC Quds Force, which is consistent with the long-standing trend of Iran appointing IRGC Quds Force members to simultaneously work as the ambassador to Iraq.[63]The Iraqi federal government granted Russian state-owned oil company Gazprom a contract to develop the Nasiriyah oil field in Dhi Qar Province on February 7.[64] The Iraqi state-owned Dhi Qar Oil Company, which is headed by Ali Khudair Abbas al Aboudi, previously operated the Nasiriyah oil field.[65] Aboudi is a member of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), a Shia political party formerly headed by prominent Shia cleric Ammar al Hakim.[66] The Iraqi National Security Service reportedly arrested Aboudi in March 2021 for accepting a $250,000 bribe.[67] Ammar al Hakim currently heads the National Wisdom Movement. The Dhi Qar provincial council elected a National Wisdom Movement member named Mortada al Ebrahimi as Dhi Qar governor on February 5, two days before the Iraqi government granted Russia the development contract.[68] Hakim previously discussed “attracting foreign investments” during a meeting with Russian Ambassador to Iraq Elbrus Kutrashev on January 31.[69]Local Syrian sources reported that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) is trying to rebuild its military infrastructure in Deir ez Zor Province, Syria, following the February 2 US airstrikes on Iranian and Iranian-backed positions. Four Iranian communications specialists entered Syria from Iraq and began installing advanced communications and surveillance systems on February 22.[70] The communications systems are used by IRGC-backed militias based near Deir ez Zor City. Syrian media reported these same communications systems were previously destroyed in US airstrikes.[71] Several IRGC officials returned to Deir ez Zor Province on February 23, according to other local reports.[72] The IRGC officials left Syria ahead of the February US airstrike. CTP-ISW cannot confirm the local Syrian reporting. Lebanese Hezbollah-affiliated al Mayadeen reported that the IDF conducted a drone strike around al Qusayr, Homs Province, on the Syria-Lebanon border on February 25.[73] The strike targeted two trucks suspected of transporting Hezbollah military cargo.[74] Hezbollah-affiliated al Manar network claimed the strike killed two members of Hezbollah.[75]US CENTCOM reported that it intercepted three Houthi one-way attack drones on February 24.[76] The Houthi military spokesperson claimed that the group launched an unspecified number of drones targeting a US warship on February 24.[77]Houthi-affiliated media outlets reported that the United States and United Kingdom conducted airstrikes targeting Houthi positions north of Hudaydah on February 26.[78] The United States and United Kingdom has not claimed responsibility for any airstrikes in Yemen at the time of this writing.The International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEA) disclosed to UN member states on February 26 that Iran has reduced its stockpile of 60 percent enriched uranium since late October 2023.[79] The Iranian regime has, according to an IAEA report, diluted some of this stockpile to 20 percent enriched uranium, thereby reducing its stockpile of 60 percent enriched uranium by 6.8 kilograms to 121.5 kilograms.[80] The overall Iranian stockpile of enriched uranium has continued to expand since October 2023, however.[81] Iran has also refused the entry of several weapons inspectors into the country and the inspection of undeclared nuclear material, according to the IAEA.[82]Iranian media claimed that Iranian security forces killed a Jaish al Adl commander inside Pakistani territory on February 23.[83] Jaish al Adl is a Baloch Salafi-jihadi group that operates along the Iranian border with Pakistan. Iranian media described the commander as “the main perpetrator of recent terrorist operations in southeastern Iran.”[84] There has been an uptick in anti-regime militant activity in southeastern Iran since December 2023. Jaish al Adl conducted a two-stage attack targeting a police station in Rask, Sistan and Baluchistan Province, in December 2023.[85] The Afghan branch of the Islamic State also conducted a terrorist attack in Kerman Province in January 2024, killing over 80 individuals.[86] Pakistani media denied on February 24 that Iranian forces killed the Jaish al Adl commander.[87]The Iranian Law Enforcement Command (LEC) arrested two men accused of being part of Sipah Sahaba in Hormozgan Province on February 25.[88] LEC spokesperson Brigadier General Saeed Montazer al Mahdi stated that the two men arrested had completed ”bomb-making courses” outside of Iran and intended to travel to an unnamed southern city in Iran. Mahdi stated the two had previously been imprisoned in Pakistan from 2010-15 on charges of bombing a Pakistani city. Mahdi described Sipah Sahaba as an “anti-Shia” terrorist group.[89] Sipah Sahaba is a prominent Sunni militant organization that originated in Pakistan.[90]Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian called for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas during separate meetings at the 55th Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, on February 26. Abdollahian discussed the Israel-Hamas war with the UN secretary general, International Committee of Red Cross president, Jordanian foreign affairs minister, and Kuwaiti foreign affairs minister on the sidelines of the meeting.[91] Abdollahian separately blamed the United States and Israel for the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip in a speech at the UN Human Rights Council meeting.[92]The 17th annual Joint Commission for Economic Cooperation between Iran and Russia began in Tehran on February 26.[93] Russian and Iranian experts will examine bilateral cooperation in various sectors including oil, nuclear energy, gas, finance and information technology. Iranian media reported the Russian delegation will consist of 160-170 experts from various government ministries and members of the Russian private sector.[94] The 17th Commission is headed by Iranian Oil Minister Javad Owji and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak. 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https://www.tasnimnews dot com/fa/news/1402/12/07/3045047; https://www.tasnimnews dot com/fa/news/1402/12/07/3045234;[92] https://www.tasnimnews dot com/fa/news/1402/12/07/3045176[93] https://energypress dot ir/%d9%86%d8%b4%d8%b3%d8%aa%d9%87%d8%a7%db%8c-%da%a9%d8%a7%d8%b1%d8%b4%d9%86%d8%a7%d8%b3%db%8c-%d9%87%d9%81%d8%af%d9%87%d9%85%db%8c%d9%86-%da%a9%d9%85%db%8c%d8%b3%db%8c%d9%88%d9%86-%d9%85%d8%b4/[94] https://www.irna dot ir/news/85396133[95] https://energypress dot ir/%d9%86%d8%b4%d8%b3%d8%aa%d9%87%d8%a7%db%8c-%da%a9%d8%a7%d8%b1%d8%b4%d9%86%d8%a7%d8%b3%db%8c-%d9%87%d9%81%d8%af%d9%87%d9%85%db%8c%d9%86-%da%a9%d9%85%db%8c%d8%b3%db%8c%d9%88%d9%86-%d9%85%d8%b4/

[Author: ISWKF]

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[l] at 2/26/24 7:42pm
Karolina Hird, Kateryna Stepanenko, Grace Mappes, Nicole Wolkov, and Frederick W. KaganFebruary 26, 2024, 8pm ETClick here to see ISW’s interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.Click here to see ISW’s 3D control of terrain topographic map of Ukraine. Use of a computer (not a mobile device) is strongly recommended for using this data-heavy tool.Click here to access ISW’s archive of interactive time-lapse maps of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These maps complement the static control-of-terrain map that ISW produces daily by showing a dynamic frontline. ISW will update this time-lapse map archive monthly.Note: The data cut-off for this product was 2:30pm ET on February 26. ISW will cover subsequent reports in the February 27 Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment.Sweden will join NATO following Hungary’s formal approval of Sweden’s accession bid on February 26.[1] Hungary was the final NATO member that needed to approve Sweden’s bid, but Sweden’s accession to the alliance has been a major sticking point for the Hungarian Parliament and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.[2] Sweden will now become NATO’s 32nd member upon completing official accession procedures.Russian President Vladimir Putin signed two decrees on February 26 that officially re-establish the Moscow and Leningrad Military Districts, codifying major Russian military restructuring and reform efforts. Putin signed one decree that deprives Russia’s Northern Fleet (NF) of its status as an “interservice strategic territorial organization” (a joint headquarters in Western military parlance) and transfers the land of the Northwestern Federal Okrug previously under the NF’s command to the newly formed Leningrad Military District (LMD).[3] Putin signed a second decree that formally re-establishes the LMD and the Moscow Military District (MMD) — with the LMD taking over most of the territory previously under the NF and the MMD taking over most of the territory previously under the Western Military District (WMD).[4] The second decree also incorporates occupied Ukraine into the Southern Military District (SMD), notably including all of Kherson, Zaporizhia, Donetsk, and Luhansk oblasts (as well as Crimea, which has been part of the SMD since 2014), not just the parts currently under Russian occupation. The inclusion of both the occupied and un-occupied parts of Ukrainian territory further suggests that Russia maintains maximalist objectives in Ukraine and seeks to fully absorb all five of these Ukrainian territories into the Russian Federation.The formal transfer of regions previously under the responsibility of the Northern Fleet is likely part of a wider Russian effort to re-establish military district commands as the primary headquarters for the Russian ground forces while reassigning naval assets to the Russian Navy, as ISW previously reported.[5] Russian state media reported in November 2023 that naval assets of all five of Russia’s fleets — the Northern, Pacific, Baltic, and Black Sea fleets and the Caspian Flotilla — may return to direct subordination to the Russian Navy, while the ground, aviation, and air defense assets of the fleets will be allocated to military district commands. This information is still unconfirmed, but it appears that the Russian military is trying to reconsolidate ground forces and assets under military districts while consolidating naval forces and assets under the Russian naval chain of command.[6]The re-creation of the MMD and LMD supports the parallel objectives of consolidating control over Russian operations in Ukraine in the short-to-medium term and preparing for a potential future large-scale conventional war against NATO in the long term.[7] The February 26 decree officially disbands the WMD, which the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) formed in 2010 by merging the MMD and LMD.[8] The WMD previously covered the Russian border with northeastern Ukraine, Belarus, and the Baltic States, which stretched the WMD’s strategic focus between overseeing Russian operations in Ukraine following the 2022 full-scale invasion and posturing against NATO.[9] The re-separation of the WMD into the MMD and LMD, therefore, is a direct remedy to this issue. The LMD will now run along NATO’s northeastern border, and the MMD will border northeastern Ukraine and Poland, which will allow Russia to simultaneously posture against NATO and streamline command and control (C2) for the war in Ukraine. Putin previously claimed that it was necessary to create the LMD after Finland joined NATO in 2023, signaling the Kremlin’s clear intent to use the LMD to posture against NATO.[10]Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated on February 25 that Russia is preparing a new offensive that will start in late May or summer 2024, consistent with ISW’s assessment that Russian forces have regained the theater-wide initiative and will be able to pursue offensive operations when and where they choose as long as they hold the initiative.[11] Zelensky also stated that the Ukrainian military has a clear plan to counter Russian forces. ISW continues to assess that Russian forces regained the initiative across the theater following Ukraine’s summer 2023 counteroffensive and that Russia will likely be able to determine the time, location, and scale of future offensive operations in Ukraine if Ukraine conducts an active defense throughout the theater in 2024, thereby ceding the strategic initiative to Russia. Russian forces will have the ability to maneuver reserve concentrations and determine how and where to allocate resources while forcing Ukraine to respond defensively as long as Russia maintains the strategic initiative. Ukrainian forces could deny Russia these opportunities if Ukrainian forces have enough means to challenge the Russian initiative and pursue their own offensive operations in 2024.Chief of the Russian General Staff Army General Valery Gerasimov is continuing a recent campaign to engage with Russian military personnel following the Russian capture of Avdiivka, Donetsk Oblast and reportedly visited a command post of the 58th Combined Arms Army (CAA) in Ukraine. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) posted footage on February 26 claiming to show Gerasimov visiting a 58th CAA command post in Ukraine, hearing reports about the operational situation, and presenting medals to Russian servicemen.[12] The 58th CAA is currently pursuing offensive operations in western Zaporizhia Oblast, so the MoD video suggests that Gerasimov visited a command post somewhere in the Zaporizhia Oblast direction. The Russian MoD published footage showing Gerasimov awarding Russian soldiers after the capture of Avdiivka on February 21, which is notably the first public depiction of Gerasimov serving his command duties since December 29.[13] Gerasimov fired former 58th CAA Commander Major General Ivan Popov in July 2023 following reports that Popov bypassed Gerasimov’s command and directly appealed to the Kremlin to complain about Gerasimov’s refusal to rotate 58th CAA troops away from the frontline for rest and reconstitution while they were defending against Ukraine’s summer 2023 counteroffensive push in Zaporizhia Oblast.[14] Gerasimov likely visited the 58th CAA command post in part to rebuild his relationship with 58th CAA lower-level commanders and servicemembers following Popov’s firing and the criticism it generated of Gerasimov.[15] Gerasimov also appears to be engaged in a campaign to present himself as an effective and interested chief of the General Staff, and his recent public appearances on areas of the front where Russian forces are making tactical gains are likely part of this effort to bolster his public image.Over 20 heads of state, including 15 European Union (EU) leaders met in Paris on February 26 to discuss ramping up ammunition supplies to Ukraine.[16] French President Emmanuel Macron organized the conference and announced the creation of a new coalition to supply Ukraine with longer-range missiles and munitions.[17] Macron also stated that France “will do whatever it takes to ensure that Russia cannot win this war” and that European states should prepare for possible Russian escalations in the coming years.[18] Estonian Prime Minister Kaya Kallas stated that Estonia is providing long-term military aid to Ukraine worth 0.25 percent of Estonia’s GDP through 2028 and called on Ukraine’s other supporters to make similar commitments.[19]Germany announced a new military aid package to Ukraine on February 26. The new military aid package includes 14,000 155mm artillery shells, 10 Vector recon drones, four WISENT-1 mine-clearing machines, and other equipment.[20] German outlet Der Spiegel reported on February 26 that the Bundeswehr’s Ukraine Situation Center Head, Major General Christian Freuding, stated that Germany is looking “all over the world” for artillery ammunition to provide to Ukraine.[21] Unspecified insider sources told Der Spiegel that Germany is engaged in “discreet negotiations” to obtain Indian artillery rounds through intermediaries and that “similar negotiations” may be possible with Arab countries.Transnistrian sources reportedly told Russian independent outlet Verstka that Transnistria, a pro-Russian breakaway region of Moldova, is not planning to ask to join Russia during the Congress of Deputies in Tiraspol on February 28. Two unnamed sources close to Transnistrian authorities told Verstka that the Congress of Deputies will not discuss integration with Russia and instead focus on discussing economic pressure from Moldova, without taking any “sudden steps.”[22] A source involved in preparing for Russian presidential elections in Transnistria claimed that Transnistria did not receive any tasks from the Kremlin aside from preparations for presidential elections. Verstka observed that Transnistrian foreign policy department head Vitaly Ignatiev “cooled off” many speculations about Transnistria’s possible request to join Russia after claiming on a local TV broadcast that the purpose of the congress is to bring to attention Moldova’s latest “economic pressure” on Transnistria. The Moldovan Bureau for Reintegration stated on February 22 that “there is no reason to believe that the situation in [Transnistria] could deteriorate” in response to public discourse regarding the Congress of Deputies in Tiraspol.[23] Ukrainian officials similarly stated that the possibility of a Russian ground attack on Ukraine from Transnistria is low.[24] ISW issued a warning forecast on February 22 and assessed that Transnistrian officials may call for a referendum on annexation to Russia to support Russian hybrid operations intent on politically and socially destabilizing Moldova.[25] It remains noteworthy that Transnistrian authorities have suddenly ordered the convening of the Congress of Deputies for the first time since that body authorized referenda on joining Moldova (that failed) and on seeking Russian annexation (that passed) in 2006. ISW amends its warning in light of these reports, however, and will continue to monitor the situation in Transnistria closely.Key Takeaways:Sweden will join NATO following Hungary’s formal approval of Sweden’s accession bid on February 26.Russian President Vladimir Putin signed two decrees on February 26 that officially re-establish the Moscow and Leningrad Military Districts, codifying major Russian military restructuring and reform efforts.The formal transfer of regions previously under the responsibility of the Northern Fleet is likely part of a wider Russian effort to re-establish military district commands as the primary headquarters for the Russian ground forces while reassigning naval assets to the Russian Navy, as ISW previously reported.The re-creation of the MMD and LMD supports the parallel objectives of consolidating control over Russian operations in Ukraine in the short-to-medium term and preparing for a potential future large-scale conventional war against NATO in the long term.Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated on February 25 that Russia is preparing a new offensive that will start in late May or summer 2024, consistent with ISW’s assessment that Russian forces have regained the theater-wide initiative and will be able to pursue offensive operations when and where they choose as long as they hold the initiative.Chief of the Russian General Staff Army General Valery Gerasimov is continuing a recent campaign to engage with Russian military personnel following the Russian capture of Avdiivka, Donetsk Oblast and reportedly visited a command post of the 58th Combined Arms Army (CAA) in Ukraine.Over 20 heads of state, including 15 European Union (EU) leaders met in Paris on February 26 to discuss ramping up ammunition supplies to Ukraine.Germany announced a new military aid package to Ukraine on February 26.Transnistrian sources reportedly told Russian independent outlet Verstka that Transnistria, a pro-Russian breakaway region of Moldova, is not planning to ask to join Russia during the Congress of Deputies in Tiraspol on February 28.Russian forces recently made confirmed gains near Kreminna, Bakhmut, and Avdiivka amid continued positional engagements along the entire frontline.Russia reportedly imported almost 450 million euros (about $488 million) worth of sanctioned “sensitive” European goods, including weapons technology, between January and September 2023.We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because these activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We will continue to evaluate and report on the effects of these criminal activities on the Ukrainian military and the Ukrainian population and specifically on combat in Ukrainian urban areas. We utterly condemn Russian violations of the laws of armed conflict and the Geneva Conventions and crimes against humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.Russian Main Effort – Eastern Ukraine (comprised of two subordinate main efforts)Russian Subordinate Main Effort #1 – Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and encircle northern Donetsk OblastRussian Subordinate Main Effort #2 – Capture the entirety of Donetsk OblastRussian Supporting Effort – Southern AxisRussian Air, Missile, and Drone CampaignRussian Mobilization and Force Generation EffortsRussian Technological AdaptationsActivities in Russian-occupied areasUkrainian Defense Industrial Base EffortsRussian Information Operations and NarrativesSignificant Activity in BelarusRussian Main Effort – Eastern UkraineRussian Subordinate Main Effort #1 – Luhansk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and northern Donetsk Oblast)Russian forces recently advanced south of Kreminna amid continued positional engagements along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line on February 26. Geolocated footage published on February 26 indicates that Russian forces recently advanced east of Bilohorivka (south of Kreminna).[26] Positional engagements continued northeast of Kupyansk near Synkivka and Ivanivka; southeast of Kupyansk near Tabaivka; west of Kreminna near Terny; and south of Kreminna near Bilohorivka.[27] Ukrainian Luhansk Oblast Administration Head Artem Lysohor reported that Russian forces have had “over 10 times” more artillery ammunition than Ukrainian forces have had in the Kupyansk direction for the past month.[28] Elements of the Russian 16th Spetsnaz Brigade (Russian General Staff Main Directorate [GRU]) reportedly continue operating in the Kupyansk direction.[29]Russian Subordinate Main Effort #2 – Donetsk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)Russian forces recently marginally advanced west of Bakhmut amid continued positional fighting in the area on February 26. Geolocated footage published on February 25 shows that Russian forces marginally advanced northeast of Ivanivske (west of Bakhmut).[30] Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces are advancing towards central Ivanivske from the east and continue fighting on the settlement’s northern outskirts.[31] A Russian milblogger also claimed that elements of the Russian 98th Airborne (VDV) Division pushed Ukrainian forces from their positions in a forest area northwest of Ivanivske.[32] Positional fighting also continued southwest of Bakhmut near Klishchiivka and Andriivka and south of Bakhmut near Pivdenne.[33]Russian forces captured Lastochkyne, a settlement west of Avdiivka, as of February 26 after Ukrainian troops withdrew from the area.[34] Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Spokesperson Dmytro Lykhoviy stated on February 26 that Ukrainian forces withdrew from Lastochkyne and established defensive positions on the Orlivka-Tonenke-Berdychi line (northwest to southwest of Avdiivka).[35] Geolocated footage published on February 26 shows that Russian forces entered the southeastern part of Sieverne (west of Avdiivka).[36] Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces completely captured Sieverne and Tonenke (northwest of Sieverne) and also entered the eastern outskirts of Orlivka, but ISW has not observed visual confirmation of these claims.[37] Positional fighting continued northwest of Avdiivka near Novobakhmutivka, Stepove, and Berdychi, and southwest of Avdiivka near Pervomaiske and Nevelske.[38] The Russian “Black Hussars” aerial reconnaissance detachment of the 15th Motorized Rifle Brigade’s (2nd Combined Arms Army [CAA], Central Military District [CMD]) and elements of the 114th Motorized Rifle Brigade (1st Donetsk People’s Republic [DNR] Army Corps) are operating northwest of Avdiivka, and elements of the Russian 1st “Slavic” Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade (1st DNR Army Corps) are operating near Stepove.[39]Ukrainian military observer Kostyantyn Mashovets argued that Russian forces were able to concentrate a tactically decisive number of forces in the Avdiivka direction during offensive efforts to capture the settlement by gradually transferring elements of formations from the Lyman direction towards Avdiivka, using separate motorized rifle brigades and by reconstituting forces already operating near Avdiivka.[40] Avdiivka is within 10 kilometers of Donetsk City, a major city held by Russian forces since 2014, which likely helped Russian forces move manpower and materiel to Avdiivka via Donetsk City without offering attractive targets for Ukrainian strikes against logistics elements or force concentrations. Mashovets also noted that Russian forces ran a failed disinformation campaign aimed at hiding the Russian redeployments near Avdiivka by claiming that these forces were redeploying to southern Ukraine.[41] Mashovets stated that while Russian forces were able to eventually deploy enough forces and means to capture Avdiivka, Russian forces failed to achieve operational surprise, resulting in their initial failure to capture Avdiivka in October and November 2023.[42]Positional fighting continued west and southwest of Donetsk City on February 26, but there were no confirmed changes to the frontline in this area. Positional fighting continued west of Donetsk City near Krasnohorivka and Heorhiivka and southwest of Donetsk City near Pobieda and Novomykhailivka.[43] Elements of the Russian 255th Motorized Rifle Regiment (20th Guards Motorized Rifle Division, 8th CAA, Southern Military District [SMD]) are operating near Pobieda, and elements of the Russian 238th Artillery Brigade (8th CAA, SMD) are operating near Krasnohorivka.[44]Russian Supporting Effort – Southern Axis (Russian objective: Maintain frontline positions and secure rear areas against Ukrainian strikes)Positional engagements continued in western Donetsk and eastern Zaporizhia oblasts on February 26 but did not result in any battlefield changes. Positional battles occurred near Zolota Nyva (southeast of Velyka Novosilka), Hulyaipole, and Marfopil (immediately southeast of Hulyaipole).[45] Elements of the Russian 34th Motorized Rifle Brigade (49th Combined Arms Army [CAA], Southern Military District [SMD]) are reportedly operating in the southern Donetsk Oblast direction.[46]Positional engagements continued near Robotyne in western Zaporizhia Oblast on February 26, but there were no changes on the frontline.[47] A Russian milblogger claimed that the situation near Verbove (east of Robotyne) is calm because the main fighting shifted to the Robotyne area, where Russian forces are struggling due to their lack of artillery and electronic warfare (EW) support.[48] Elements of the Russian 71st Guards Motorized Rifle Regiment (42nd Motorized Rifle Division, 58th CAA, SMD) continue to operate near Robotyne.[49]Positional battles continued in east (left) bank Kherson Oblast, particularly near Krynky, on February 26.[50] Ukrainian Southern Operational Command Spokesperson Colonel Nataliya Humenyuk reported that Russian forces intensified their use of reconnaissance drones in southern Ukraine to compensate for their loss of reconnaissance capabilities due to Ukraine‘s downing of an A-50 long-range radar detection aircraft on February 23.[51] Humenyuk added that Russian forces are flying tactical aviation at a greater distance from the frontline over the Black Sea and used over 100 drones on February 25.Ukrainian Navy Spokesperson Captain Third Rank Dmytro Pletenchuk reported on February 26 that successful Ukrainian strikes against Russian Black Sea Fleet assets are inhibiting Russia’s use of Kalibr cruise missile carriers in the western Black Sea.[52] Pletenchuk reported that Russian on average has around 10 combat-ready cruise missile carriers, of which only one is in Sevastopol and the rest are in Novorossiysk, Krasnodar Krai. Pletenchuk added that Russian forces keep one cruise missile carrier in Sevastopol to defend Sevastopol Bay from Ukrainian air attacks. Pletenchuk observed that Russian forces have not launched missile strikes from submarines in nearly three months and only launched four Kalibrs in mid-February 2024.Russian Air, Missile, and Drone Campaign (Russian Objective: Target Ukrainian military and civilian infrastructure in the rear and on the frontline)Russian forces launched a mid-sized combined drone and missile strike against Ukraine on the night of February 25 to 26. Ukrainian military sources reported that Russian forces launched an Iskander-M ballistic missile from occupied Crimea, two S-300 surface-to-air missiles from Belgorod Oblast, three Kh-59 cruise missiles and a Kh-31P anti-radar missile from occupied Zaporizhia Oblast, and 14 Shahed-136/-131 drones from Kursk Oblast.[53] Ukrainian forces destroyed all three Kh-59s and nine Shahed drones.[54] Ukrainian sources noted that at least one S-300 missile struck and destroyed an agricultural enterprise in Pisochyn, Kharkiv Oblast.[55] Russian sources claimed that the strike targeted Ukrainian military assets deep in the Ukrainian rear for the third night in a row.[56]Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated on February 26 that Russian forces dropped 3,203 glide bombs against Ukrainian cities and frontline positions between January 1 and February 24, 2024.[57] ISW previously assessed that Russian forces have increased their use of glide bomb strikes and were able to do so particularly effectively at scale to provide close air support to ground troops in Avdiivka, Donetsk Oblast, facilitating the Russian capture of the settlement.[58]Russian Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts (Russian objective: Expand combat power without conducting general mobilization)Russia reportedly imported almost 450 million euros (about $488 million) worth of sanctioned “sensitive” European goods, including weapons technology, between January and September 2023. Bloomberg reported on February 26 that Russia imported a quarter of the sanctioned goods directly from the European Union (EU) and imported the rest through intermediary countries such as Turkey, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Serbia, China, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Armenia.[59] Ukraine-based open-source intelligence organization Frontelligence Insight reported that the Russian drone production company “Special Technology Center” acquires US- and Taiwanese-made dual-use technologies through international intermediaries and former representatives of Western companies in Russia.[60] Frontelligence Insight reported that the “Special Technology Center,” which is under US sanctions, specializes in producing Orlan-10 reconnaissance drones and Leer-3 drone-based electronic warfare (EW) systems for the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD).Russian Technological Adaptations (Russian objective: Introduce technological innovations to optimize systems for use in Ukraine)Russia has reportedly developed a comprehensive electronic warfare (EW) system intended to combat enemy drones. Russian drone manufacturer “Stupor” LLC Development Director Vladislav Kustarev stated on February 26 that the Stupor LLC has developed a drone detection and suppression system that includes a radar station, radio frequency scanner, optical drone recognition station, and jamming equipment to help protect certain objects from drone attacks.[61] Kustarev stated that its comprehensive system combines the “Storm” and “Shtil” systems, which both have a range of over five kilometers, as well as the “Pars” system which has a range of up to two kilometers, to better protect against drones operating on different frequencies.Ukrainian Defense Industrial Efforts (Ukrainian objective: Develop its defense industrial base to become more self-sufficient in cooperation with US, European, and international partners)Ukraine continues to innovate and expand domestic drone production. Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Spokesperson Andriy Yusov reported that Ukrainian forces are using the Ukrainian-made “Sych” strike-reconnaissance drone, which had already damaged and destroyed $100 million worth of Russian military equipment.[62] Yusov specified that the “Sych” drone has a range of 50 kilometers and is resistant to Russian electronic warfare (EW) systems. Ukrainian Minister of Strategic Industries Oleksandr Kamyshin also stated on February 26 that Ukraine has caught up to Russia in one-way attack drone production.[63] Kamyshin added that Ukraine is already producing drones similar to Iranian Shahed-136/131 drones.Ukraine’s Defense Procurement Agency of the Ministry of Defense (MoD) signed the first direct contract with a Swedish manufacturing enterprise on February 26, which will allow Ukraine to directly purchase materiel from the enterprise.[64] The Ukrainian MoD reported that Ukraine signed this contract within the framework of the cooperation agreement it signed with Swedish Defense Materials Administration (FMV) during the July 2023 NATO Summit in Vilnius.Activities in Russian-occupied areas (Russian objective: Consolidate administrative control of annexed areas; forcibly integrate Ukrainian citizens into Russian sociocultural, economic, military, and governance systems)Nothing significant to report.Russian Information Operations and NarrativesRussian actors are pursuing information and cyber operations targeting Ukrainian military personnel. The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense (MoD) reported on February 26 that unspecified Russian actors tried to spread false information about a supposed Russian hack of Ukraine’s “Delta” NATO-standard network-centric situational awareness system.[65] The Ukrainian MoD noted that unspecified individuals hacked Ukraine’s New Voice (NV) outlet and posted false information alleging that Russian hackers used Delta to track the movements of Ukrainians, particularly uniformed military and law enforcement personnel.[66] The Ukrainian State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection also issued a warning on February 26 that unspecified actors conducted a new cyber-attack against Ukrainian servicemembers using malware spread via the Signal messaging app.[67] The Ukrainian Government Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-UA) identified and neutralized the cyber-attack and urged the Ukrainian defense forces to install protective software on all associated devices to protect against future attacks.[68] Such informational manipulations and cyber-attacks are likely meant to destabilize Ukrainian military systems, spread dissatisfaction amongst Ukrainian servicemembers, and foment discontent towards the Ukrainian military command.Russian officials and propagandists used the Second Congress of the International Russophile Movement and the Forum on Multipolarity on February 26 to amplify several long-standing Russian information operations.[69] Russian Chairperson of the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs Grigory Karasin claimed that the event demonstrates the world’s interest in joining a coalition with Russia meant to counter the hegemony of the collective West — reiterating a commonplace Kremlin narrative that poses the collective West as a destructive imperialistic hegemon that only a Russia-led multipolar world order can counterbalance.[70]Significant activity in Belarus (Russian efforts to increase its military presence in Belarus and further integrate Belarus into Russian-favorable frameworks and Wagner Group activity in Belarus)The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) is conducting an information operation falsely alleging that the US and West attempted to interfere in the February 25 Belarusian parliamentary election.[71] Russian officials will likely intensify and extend this information operation to the Belarusian presidential election in 2025.Note: ISW does not receive any classified material from any source, uses only publicly available information, and draws extensively on Russian, Ukrainian, and Western reporting and social media as well as commercially available satellite imagery and other geospatial data as the basis for these reports. References to all sources used are provided in the endnotes of each update.[1] https://twitter.com/SwedishPM/status/1762142835963257250; https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-68405893[2] https://meduza dot io/news/2024/02/26/parlament-vengrii-odobril-vstuplenie-shvetsii-v-nato[3] https://tass dot ru/armiya-i-opk/20086009; http://publication.pravo dot gov.ru/document/0001202402260031 ; https://t.me/mod_russia/36053[4] https://tass dot ru/armiya-i-opk/20085959; http://publication.pravo dot gov.ru/document/0001202402260031; https://t.me/tass_agency/233521 ; https://t.me/NeoficialniyBeZsonoV/33528 https://t.me/severrealii/23292; https://t.me/SALDO_VGA/2299; https://t.me/VGA_Kherson/18861; https://t.me/severrealii/23292; http://publication dot pravo dot gov dot ru/document/0001202402260031; https://t.me/bbcrussian/61248; https://t.me/astrapress/49345[5] https://isw.pub/UkrWar110123[6] https://tass dot ru/armiya-i-opk/19160889[7] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russia%E2%80%99s-military-restructuring-and-expansion-hindered-ukraine-war[8] https://www.fontanka dot ru/2010/09/01/142/; https://www.rbc dot ru/spb_sz/21/09/2010/559298c79a794719538c0143; https://www.rbc dot ru/spb_sz/09/09/2010/559298bd9a794719538c004f?from=materials_on_subject[9] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russia%E2%80%99s-military-restructuring-and-expansion-hindered-ukraine-war[10] https://t.me/zarubinreporter/2145[11] https://www.reuters.com/world/ukraine-has-plan-new-offensive-against-russia-says-zelenskiy-2024-02-25/[12] https://t.me/mod_russia/36038[13] https://isw.pub/UkrWarO22124[14] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-july-11-2023; https://isw.pub/UkrWar071323[15] https://isw.pub/UkrWar071323[16] https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/26/world/europe/europe-ukraine-support-meeting.html[17] https://www.france24.com/en/europe/20240226-macron-seeks-to-rally-western-leaders-to-bolster-support-for-ukraine[18] https://www.france24.com/en/europe/20240226-macron-seeks-to-rally-western-leaders-to-bolster-support-for-ukraine; https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/paris-conference-belie-doom-gloom-ukraine-elysee-says-2024-02-25/[19] https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/26/premyer-estoniyi-obiczyana-ukrayini-zbroya-maye-shvydko-potrapyty-na-frontu/; https://valitsus dot ee/en/news/prime-minister-kallas-visit-paris[20] https://suspilne dot media/693282-artboepripasi-ta-droni-nimeccina-peredala-ukraini-novij-paket-dopomogi/; https://www.bundesregierung dot de/breg-de/schwerpunkte/krieg-in-der-ukraine/lieferungen-ukraine-2054514[21] https://www.spiegel dot de/ausland/artilleriemunition-fuer-die-ukraine-europas-verzweifelte-jagd-nach-munition-a-e80d84c5-b95a-49ca-b100-9c4c8e147b2d ; https://archive dot is/WZ8jv[22] https://verstka dot media/zhdat-li-prisoedineniya-pridnestroviya-k-rossii[23] https://t.me/govmdspox/575[24] https://understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-23-2024[25] https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/warning-transnistria-may-organize-referendum-annexation-russia-support-russian-hybrid[26] https://x.com/moklasen/status/1762188872115540248?s=20; https://x.com/moklasen/status/1762188874606882888?s=20[27] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0gKHvs5ZrYYZW84M2KCE655DymxwnPEMpqdNrtQP7ZKr6u6ggJ4VLU6DcfUpwGuj2l ; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0cqUL1KBF5cqyhXKMTZA5z7foga9rJiWhdufCYsGRwZhfnkCaYNtgfwr9oJF23DK1l; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0NrG1y8eQzLaPZDPZLVfkMePnAxazDeacioWfddNDwJS1mwpL1BD1LP3WvjJoxmngl ; https://t.me/synegubov/8544 ; https://t.me/mod_russia/36046 ; https://t.me/mod_russia/36055[28] https://t.me/luhanskaVTSA/17274[29] https://t.me/rsotmdivision/14167; https://t.me/natoptishh/2408[30] https://t.me/creamy_caprice/4555; https://www.facebook.com/92ndSAB/videos/1529588007898989/?mibextid=rS40aB7S9Ucbxw6v[31] https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7701; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/114431 ; https://t.me/boris_rozhin/114506; https://t.me/wargonzo/18417 ; https://t.me/basurin_e/9280; https://t.me/dva_majors/35241 ; https://t.me/rybar/57585 ; https://t.me/dva_majors/35233; https://t.me/rybar/57572; https://t.me/negumanitarnaya_pomosch_Z/15156; https://t.me/z_arhiv/26137[32] https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7701[33] https://t.me/wargonzo/18417 ; https://t.me/basurin_e/9280; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0cqUL1KBF5cqyhXKMTZA5z7foga9rJiWhdufCYsGRwZhfnkCaYNtgfwr9oJF23DK1l; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0NrG1y8eQzLaPZDPZLVfkMePnAxazDeacioWfddNDwJS1mwpL1BD1LP3WvjJoxmngl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0gKHvs5ZrYYZW84M2KCE655DymxwnPEMpqdNrtQP7ZKr6u6ggJ4VLU6DcfUpwGuj2l[34] https://t.me/stanislav_osman/5005; https://t.me/DeepStateUA/18937; https://t.me/officer_alex34/2091; https://t.me/dva_majors/35241 ; https://t.me/rybar/57585 https://suspilne dot media/692474-zelenskij-nazvav-ukrainski-vtrati-u-vijni-bila-bahmuta-rozstrilali-ukrainskih-vijskovih-733-den-vijni-onlajn/?anchor=live_1708942264&utm_source=copylink&utm_medium=ps; https://t.me/stanislav_osman/5005; https://t.me/DeepStateUA/18937; https://t.me/officer_alex34/2091; https://t.me/dva_majors/35241 ; https://t.me/rybar/57585 [35] https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/26/u-zsu-rozpovily-pro-vidhid-vid-sela-lastochkyne-na-avdiyivskomu-napryamku/; https://suspilne dot media/692732-ukrainski-vijskovi-vijsli-z-lastockinogo-na-avdiivskomu-napramku-osuv-tavria/[36] https://t.me/voenkorkhayrullin/2258; https://t.me/creamy_caprice/4556; https://t.me/z_arhiv/26144[37] https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7693; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7692; https://t.me/prigozhin_2023_tg/8278; https://t.me/negumanitarnaya_pomosch_Z/15170; https://t.me/NeoficialniyBeZsonoV/33516; https://t.me/voenkorKotenok/54325; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7704[38] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0gKHvs5ZrYYZW84M2KCE655DymxwnPEMpqdNrtQP7ZKr6u6ggJ4VLU6DcfUpwGuj2l; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0cqUL1KBF5cqyhXKMTZA5z7foga9rJiWhdufCYsGRwZhfnkCaYNtgfwr9oJF23DK1l; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0NrG1y8eQzLaPZDPZLVfkMePnAxazDeacioWfddNDwJS1mwpL1BD1LP3WvjJoxmngl; https://t.me/mod_russia/36046 ; https://t.me/sashakots/45219; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7693;[39] https://t.me/grey_zone/22133 ; https://t.me/grey_zone/22129; https://t.me/grey_zone/22128 ; https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62786 (northwest of Avdiivka); https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62783; (Stepove)[40] https://t.me/zvizdecmanhustu/1656; https://t.me/zvizdecmanhustu/1657; https://t.me/zvizdecmanhustu/1658[41] https://t.me/zvizdecmanhustu/1656; https://t.me/zvizdecmanhustu/1657; https://t.me/zvizdecmanhustu/1658[42] https://t.me/zvizdecmanhustu/1656; https://t.me/zvizdecmanhustu/1657; https://t.me/zvizdecmanhustu/1658[43] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0gKHvs5ZrYYZW84M2KCE655DymxwnPEMpqdNrtQP7ZKr6u6ggJ4VLU6DcfUpwGuj2l; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0cqUL1KBF5cqyhXKMTZA5z7foga9rJiWhdufCYsGRwZhfnkCaYNtgfwr9oJF23DK1l; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0NrG1y8eQzLaPZDPZLVfkMePnAxazDeacioWfddNDwJS1mwpL1BD1LP3WvjJoxmngl; https://t.me/mod_russia/36046; https://t.me/dva_majors/35241 ; https://t.me/rybar/57585[44] https://t.me/RVvoenkor/62749 (Pobieda); https://t.me/nm_dnr/11842 ; https://t.me/NeoficialniyBeZsonoV/33526 (Krasnohorivka); https://t.me/boris_rozhin/114488[45] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0cqUL1KBF5cqyhXKMTZA5z7foga9rJiWhdufCYsGRwZhfnkCaYNtgfwr9oJF23DK1l; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0NrG1y8eQzLaPZDPZLVfkMePnAxazDeacioWfddNDwJS1mwpL1BD1LP3WvjJoxmngl; https://t.me/wargonzo/18417 ; https://t.me/basurin_e/9280 ; https://t.me/mod_russia/36047[46] https://t.me/dva_majors/35250[47] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0gKHvs5ZrYYZW84M2KCE655DymxwnPEMpqdNrtQP7ZKr6u6ggJ4VLU6DcfUpwGuj2l; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0cqUL1KBF5cqyhXKMTZA5z7foga9rJiWhdufCYsGRwZhfnkCaYNtgfwr9oJF23DK1l; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0NrG1y8eQzLaPZDPZLVfkMePnAxazDeacioWfddNDwJS1mwpL1BD1LP3WvjJoxmngl; https://t.me/mod_russia/36047 ; https://t.me/wargonzo/18417 ; https://t.me/basurin_e/9280; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7705; https://t.me/dva_majors/35241 ; https://t.me/rybar/57585 [48] https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7705; https://t.me/DnevnikDesantnika/7675[49] https://t.me/dva_majors/35236[50] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0cqUL1KBF5cqyhXKMTZA5z7foga9rJiWhdufCYsGRwZhfnkCaYNtgfwr9oJF23DK1l; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0NrG1y8eQzLaPZDPZLVfkMePnAxazDeacioWfddNDwJS1mwpL1BD1LP3WvjJoxmngl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0gKHvs5ZrYYZW84M2KCE655DymxwnPEMpqdNrtQP7ZKr6u6ggJ4VLU6DcfUpwGuj2l; https://t.me/dva_majors/35241 ; https://t.me/rybar/57585; https://t.me/rusich_army/13353[51] https://suspilne dot media/692474-zelenskij-nazvav-ukrainski-vtrati-u-vijni-bila-bahmuta-rozstrilali-ukrainskih-vijskovih-733-den-vijni-onlajn/?anchor=live_1708935141&utm_source=copylink&utm_medium=ps; https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/26/u-sylah-oborony-pivdnya-prokomentuvaly-inczydent-z-vorozhym-dronom-ta-ochilnyczeyu-mzs-nimechchyny-na-mykolayivshhyni/[52] https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/26/u-vms-zsu-poyasnyly-chomu-rf-tryvalyj-chas-ne-vykorystovuye-raketonosiyi-v-chornomu-mori/[53] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0cqUL1KBF5cqyhXKMTZA5z7foga9rJiWhdufCYsGRwZhfnkCaYNtgfwr9oJF23DK1l; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0NrG1y8eQzLaPZDPZLVfkMePnAxazDeacioWfddNDwJS1mwpL1BD1LP3WvjJoxmngl; https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0zK1itjvs8mdSiWmvgJncc9sjFVs6Acgbv6kvX9Gp95SHXFGjg22sCCXwLugsrBeUl;[54] https://www.facebook.com/GeneralStaff.ua/posts/pfbid0zK1itjvs8mdSiWmvgJncc9sjFVs6Acgbv6kvX9Gp95SHXFGjg22sCCXwLugsrBeUl[55] https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=7217593781659780&id=100002276907245&ref=embed_post; https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/26/na-harkivshhyni-cherez-raketni-udary-rosiyi-poshkodzheno-angary-z-zernom/; https://t.me/synegubov/8544[56] https://t.me/rybar/57588; https://t.me/dva_majors/35241 ; https://t.me/rybar/57585[57] https://www.president.gov dot ua/news/zavdannya-roku-dovesti-sho-mozhemo-pozbaviti-rosiyu-perevagi-89349[58] https://isw.pub/UkrWar021724[59] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2024-02-26/eu-says-russia-still-gets-banned-weapons-technology-from-europe[60] https://frontelligence.substack.com/p/playing-the-international-security[61] https://www.rbc dot ru/rbcfreenews/65dc25b59a79474398612501[62] https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/26/robota-v-tylu-voroga-ta-znyshhennya-rosijskyh-rebiv-u-gur-rozpovily-pro-rezultaty-roboty-bpla-sych/[63] https://suspilne dot media/692474-zelenskij-nazvav-ukrainski-vtrati-u-vijni-bila-bahmuta-rozstrilali-ukrainskih-vijskovih-733-den-vijni-onlajn/?anchor=live_1708952669&utm_source=copylink&utm_medium=ps; https://t.me/armyofdrones/951[64] https://armyinform dot com.ua/2024/02/26/agencziya-oboronnyh-zakupivel-uklala-pershyj-pryamyj-kontrakt-zi-shvedskym-vyrobnykom/; https://suspilne dot media/693114-minoboroni-uklalo-persij-kontrakt-zi-svedskim-oboronnim-pidpriemstvom-so-vidomo/[65] https://t.me/ministry_of_defense_ua/8962[66] https://t.me/ministry_of_defense_ua/8962; https://detector dot media/infospace/article/223400/2024-02-24-nevidomi-khakery-zlamaly-sayt-nv-onovleno/[67] https://t.me/dsszzi_official/6779[68] https://t.me/dsszzi_official/6779[69] https://russkiymir dot ru/publications/322893/; https://t.me/sotaproject/75385; https://t.me/MID_Russia[70] https://t.me/Grigory_Karasin/1535[71] https://t.me/MID_Russia/35653

[Author: ISWKF]

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