Content Assessment: Inevitable Victory? Russo-Ukrainian War Update (December 27, 2022 - January 2, 2023)
Information - 95%
Insight - 96%
Relevance - 94%
Objectivity - 94%
Authority - 95%
A short percentage-based assessment of the qualitative benefit of the post highlighting the recent Ukraine conflict assessments in maps from the Institute for the Study of War.
Editor’s Note: The discipline of eDiscovery, which involves the identification, preservation, and analysis of electronic data, is increasingly being used in investigations and litigation relating to war crimes. In the case of the Russo-Ukrainian War, eDiscovery tools and techniques can be used to identify and collect electronic evidence of war crimes, such as emails, social media posts, and other digital communications that may provide valuable insights into the actions of individuals and organizations involved in the conflict. This evidence can then be used in investigations and legal proceedings to hold perpetrators of war crimes accountable for their actions. Additionally, eDiscovery can help to efficiently and effectively manage the vast amount of electronic evidence that may be relevant to war crimes cases, allowing investigators and legal teams to quickly and accurately analyze the data to identify key pieces of information. This weekly update may be useful for cybersecurity, information governance, and legal discovery professionals as they consider investigations and litigation resulting from war crimes committed during the war.
Background Note: One of the most accurate and detailed sources for ongoing updates on the Ukraine crisis is the Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment from the Institute for the Study of War. The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) is a 501(c)(3) organization and produces strictly non-partisan, non-ideological, fact-based research. ISW seeks to promote an informed understanding of war and military affairs through comprehensive, independent, and accessible open-source research and analysis. ISW’s research is made available to the general public, military practitioners, policymakers, and media members. Providing a daily synthesis of key events related to the Russian aggression against Ukraine, ISW updates may benefit investigators and litigators as they follow the business, information technology, and legal trends and trajectories impacted by and stemming from the current Russo-Ukrainian conflict.
Assessment and Maps*
Russo-Ukrainian Conflict Assessments – An Overview in Maps
- Institute for the Study of War (ISW), Russia Team
- Critical Threats Project (CTP), American Enterprise Institute
General Assessment Background Info
- ISW systematically publishes Russian campaign assessments that include maps highlighting the assessed control of terrain in Ukraine and main Russian maneuver axes.
- These maps augment daily synthetic products that cover key events related to renewed Russian aggression against Ukraine.
The Russian Offensive Campaign Assessments
- January 2, 2023
- By George Barros, Kateryna Stepanenko, Angela Howard, Grace Mappes, Layne Philipson, and Frederick W. Kagan
- Ukrainian air defenses reportedly intercepted all drones from two consecutive nights of Russian drone strike attacks against Ukraine on December 31 – January 2. Ukraine’s air force reported on January 1 that Ukrainian air defense forces shot down all 45 Russian Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones that Russia fired at Ukraine on New Year’s Eve.
- Ukrainian air defenses reportedly intercepted all drones from two consecutive nights of Russian drone strike attacks against Ukraine on December 31 – January 2.
- Russia’s air and missile campaign against Ukraine is likely not generating the Kremlin’s desired information effects among Russia’s nationalists.
- A devastating Ukrainian HIMARS strike on a Russian base in Makiivka, Donetsk Oblast, on December 31 generated significant criticism of Russian military leadership in the Russian information space.
- The Russian MoD is likely attempting to deflect the blame for its poor operational security (OPSEC) onto Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) officials and mobilized personnel.
- Russian sources responded lukewarmly to Russian President Vladmir Putin’s staged New Year’s address, while Russian milbloggers lauded Wagner Group financier Yevgeniy Prigozhin’s appearances on the frontlines over the New Year’s holidays.
- Russian forces continued to carry out unsuccessful attempts to improve their tactical positions northwest of Svatove after reportedly conducting a tactical pause.
- The Ukrainian Center for Defense Strategies reported that Russian forces are continuing to deploy personnel on the Kharkiv-Siversk frontline.
- Ukrainian officials reported that Russian forces are redeploying along the eastern axis while struggling to maintain their pace of artillery strikes.
- Russian forces attempted limited offensive operations in Zaporizhia Oblast and continued efforts to reinforce defensive structures.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to extend financial promises made to Russian soldiers as Ukrainian officials continue to warn of an impending wave of Russian mobilization.
No publication based on the observance of New Year’s Holiday (January 1, 2023)
- December 31, 2022
- By Riley Bailey, Angela Howard, Madison Williams, George Barros, and Frederick W. Kagan
- Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annual New Year’s Eve address continued to illustrate that Putin is uncertain of his ability to shape the Russian information space and remains focused on justifying the war and its costs to his people. Putin stated that “Russia’s sovereign, independent, and secure future depends only on us, on our strength and determination” and that 2022 “was a year of difficult, necessary decisions, of important steps toward achieving the full sovereignty of Russia and the powerful consolidation of our society.”
- Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annual New Year’s Eve address continued to illustrate that Putin is uncertain of his ability to shape the Russian information space and remains focused on justifying the war in Ukraine and its cost to his domestic audience.
- Putin delivered his address from the headquarters of the Southern Military District (SMD) as part of his ongoing efforts to portray himself as an effective wartime leader.
- Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu demonized Ukraine and announced that Russian victory is inevitable in his New Year’s Eve speech.
- Russian forces are likely depleting their stocks of artillery ammunition and will struggle to support their current pace of operations in Ukraine as a result.
- Russian forces launched another round of missile strikes targeting Ukrainian critical infrastructure but at a reduced intensity compared to previously massive waves of strikes.
- Ukrainian and Russian sources stated that Ukraine and Russia exchanged prisoners but differed in their reporting on the number of exchanged personnel.
- Russian forces continued limited counterattacks to regain lost positions along the Svatove-Kreminna line on December 31.
- Russian forces continued offensive operations around Bakhmut and Avdiivka-Donetsk City on December 31.
- The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced that the Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) lost connection to its last functioning backup power line on the evening of December 29.
- Russian forces continue operations in eastern Zaporizhia Oblast and along the southern axis.
- Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov stated on December 31 that he knew “for a fact” that the Kremlin plans to close its borders for men, declare martial law, and begin another wave of mobilization in “one week or so.”
- Russian occupation authorities continue to intensify law enforcement crackdowns in occupied territories in response to Ukrainian partisan activities.
- Russian occupation officials continue to create unbearable living conditions for residents of occupied territories.
- December 30, 2022
- By Riley Bailey, Karolina Hird, Madison Williams, Layne Philipson, and Frederick W. Kagan
- Russian President Vladimir Putin opened the door for further institutionalized corruption through the manipulation of the Russian domestic legal sphere. Putin approved a decree on December 29 that exempts all Russian officials, including members of the military and law enforcement services, from the requirement to make income declarations public. The decree extends to military officials, employees of Russian internal affairs organs, those serving in Rosgvardia and law enforcement positions, employees of the Russian penitentiary system and Investigative System, and individuals seconded to positions in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhia oblasts.
- Russian forces targeted Kyiv using Iranian-made drones on the night of December 29 to 30.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin opened the door for further institutionalized corruption in the Russian Federation.
- Russian forces continued to conduct counterattacks along the Svatove-Kreminna line.
- Ukrainian forces struck Russian concentration areas in Luhansk Oblast.
- Russian forces continued offensive operations in the Avdiivka area as well as in Bakhmut, where the pace of Russian offensive operations may have slowed compared to previous days.
- A Russian source claimed that Russian forces conducted ground attacks in Zaporizhia Oblast.
- Russian and Ukrainian sources continued to discuss whether and when an imminent second wave of mobilization in Russia will occur.
- Russian officials continue to pursue the integration of occupied territories into the Russian Federation.
- December 29, 2022
- By Angela Howard, Riley Bailey, Karolina Hird, George Barros, and Frederick W. Kagan
- Ukraine’s Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Chief Kyrylo Budanov stated that fighting in Ukraine is in a deadlock on December 29. In an interview with BBC, Budanov stated that “the situation is just stuck” and that both Russian and Ukrainian troops lack the resources or ability to move forward. Budanov stressed that Ukraine cannot defeat Russian troops “in all directions comprehensively” and reiterated that Ukraine is awaiting the supply of new and more advanced weapons systems.
- Russian forces conducted another massive series of missile strikes against Ukrainian critical infrastructure.
- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated Russia’s unwillingness to commit to genuine negotiations with Ukraine.
- Ukraine’s Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Chief Kyrylo Budanov stated that fighting in Ukraine is in a deadlock.
- The Kremlin continues to manipulate Russian law to grant the state increasingly broad powers under ambiguous conditions in order to eliminate dissent.
- Repeated Ukrainian strikes on legitimate military targets in rear areas in the Russian Federation demonstrate the ineffectiveness of Russian air defenses against drones and exacerbate critiques that Russia cannot defend its own territory.
- Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations near Kreminna while Russian forces conducted limited counterattacks along the Svatove-Kreminna line.
- Russian forces continued offensive operations in the Avdiivka area as well as around Bakhmut, where the potential culmination of the Russian offensive is likely being expedited.
- Russian forces continued to conduct defensive operations in Kherson Oblast.
- The Kremlin’s mobilization working group met for the first time on December 29. The forum for criticism of mobilization implementation will likely create friction with the Russian Ministry of Defense.
- Russian occupation authorities continue to intensify law enforcement crackdowns in unsuccessful attempts to stamp out partisan pressure in occupied territories.
- December 28, 2022
- By George Barros, Riley Bailey, Karolina Hird, Kateryna Stepanenko, and Frederick W. Kagan
- The Russian offensive against Bakhmut is likely culminating as ISW forecasted on December 27. US military doctrine defines culmination as the “point at which a force no longer has the capability to continue its form of operations, offense or defense,” and “when a force cannot continue the attack and must assume a defensive posture or execute an operational pause.” If Russian forces in Bakhmut have indeed culminated, they may nevertheless continue to attack aggressively. Culminated Russian forces may continue to conduct ineffective squad-sized assaults against Bakhmut, though these assaults would be very unlikely to make operationally significant gains.
- The Russian offensive against Bakhmut is likely culminating.
- Russian forces appear to be preparing for a decisive effort in Luhansk Oblast and appear less likely to conduct a new offensive in Zaporizhia Oblast in the winter of 2023.
- The Kremlin continues to demonstrate that Russia has no genuine intention of engaging in negotiations with Ukraine by insisting that Ukraine accept Russia’s illegal annexations of Ukrainian land.
- The Kremlin continues to present the US transfer of Patriot air defense systems as an escalation in US-Russia relations, but ISW forecasts with high confidence that Russia will not deliberately seek to escalate to a major conflict with NATO as a result.
- Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations toward Kreminna, where Russian forces continued counterattacks to regain lost positions.
- Russian forces continued offensive operations around Bakhmut, Donetsk City, and in western Donetsk Oblast.
- Russian forces continued defensive and rotational operations in Kherson and Zaporizhia oblasts.
- The Kremlin has approved additional funds for the development of defensive fortifications and is attempting to staff fortification efforts in Russian border areas and occupied Ukraine.
- December 27, 2022
- By Riley Bailey, Kateryna Stepanenko, George Barros, Madison Williams, and Frederick W. Kagan
- Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that the Kremlin will continue to pursue a military solution to the war until the Ukrainian government capitulates to Russia’s demands. Lavrov stated in a December 27 interview with Russian state news wire TASS that Ukraine and the West are “well aware of Russia’s proposals on the demilitarization and denazification” of Ukrainian-controlled territory and that the Russian military will settle these issues if Ukraine refuses to accept these proposals.
- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that the Kremlin will continue to pursue a military solution to the war until the US accepts its demands and forces Ukraine to do the same.
- Lavrov stated that Russia is unable to work on any agreements with the West due to its supposed provocative actions.
- The Kremlin will likely continue information operations to seek to compel the West to offer preemptive concessions and pressure Ukraine to negotiate.
- The Kremlin is increasingly integrating select milbloggers into its information campaigns, likely in an effort to regain a dominant narrative within the information space.
- Ukrainian forces have likely made more gains in northeast Ukraine than ISW has previously assessed.
- Russian forces may be nearing culmination in the Bakhmut area amid continuing Russian offensive operations there and in the Avdiivka-Donetsk City area.
- Russian forces are maintaining their fortification efforts in southern Ukraine.
- The Kremlin is continuing its efforts to publicly punish deserters and saboteurs.
- Russian officials are intensifying efforts to deport children from occupied territories to Russia.
We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because those 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 population and specifically on combat in Ukrainian urban areas. We utterly condemn these Russian violations of the laws of armed conflict, Geneva Conventions, and humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.
Chronology of Maps from December 27, 2022 – January 2, 2023 – Mouseover to ScrollUkraine Conflict Maps - 122722 - 010223
See the Institute for the Study of War Interactive Map of the Russian Invasion
Read the latest Ukraine Conflict updates from the Institute for the Study of War
* Shared with direct express permission from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
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