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    Content Assessment: Power, Perception, and Patriots? Russo-Ukrainian War Update (December 12-18, 2022)

    Information - 96%
    Insight - 95%
    Relevance - 94%
    Objectivity - 94%
    Authority - 96%

    95%

    Excellent

    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

    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

    • December 18, 2022
    • By Karolina Hird, Grace Mappes, Kateryna Stepanenko, and Frederick W. Kagan

    Key Development

    • Russian military leadership is engaged in a campaign to present itself as part of an effective wartime apparatus in an effort to address the public perception of Russian failures in Ukraine.

    Key Takeaways

    • Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) representative Andriy Yusov reported that the Russian military received a new batch of Iranian-made drones and continues to negotiate with Iran on the acquisition of ballistic missile systems.
    • Ukrainian and Russian sources reported that positional fighting continued along the Svatove-Kremmina line.
    • Ukrainian and Russian sources reported ongoing fighting in the outskirts of Bakhmut and to the northeast and south of the city. The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed that Russian forces captured Yakovlivka, Donetsk Oblast, northeast of Soledar.
    • Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces dislodged Russian forces from long-held positions near Bakhmut.
    • A Ukrainian official stated that Russian forces are redeploying units from the east (left) bank of the Dnipro River in Kherson Oblast and that it is too early to tell whether Russian forces are withdrawing. Russian and Ukrainian forces continued routine artillery and rocket strikes across the Dnipro River.
    • The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces struck two Russian force concentrations and two ammunition depots in Zaporizhia Oblast on December 16, injuring 150 personnel and destroying 10 pieces of equipment. Ukrainian Melitopol Mayor Ivan Fedorov stated that Russian forces are placing dragon’s teeth anti-tank defenses in Melitopol.
    • Russian forces and occupation authorities continue to struggle to address a severe shortage of medical personnel and supplies.

    Read the complete update.


    • December 17, 2022
    • By Riley Bailey, Karolina Hird, Grace Mappes, George Barros, Angela Howard, and Frederick W. Kagan

    Key Development

    • The Kremlin is likely attempting to depict Russian President Vladimir Putin as a competent wartime leader and to rehabilitate the image of the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) by publicizing Putin’s meeting with the joint headquarters of the Russian Armed Forces. 

    Key Takeaways

    • The Kremlin is likely attempting to increase perceptions of Putin’s competence and of that of the Russian Ministry of Defense by publicizing Putin’s meeting with the joint headquarters of the Russian Armed Forces and Putin’s appearances at non-military events.
    • New York Times investigation of Russian military documents from early in the war supports ISW’s longstanding assessments about how flawed Russian planning assumptions and campaign design decisions plagued Russia’s invasion of Ukraine from its onset.
    • Ongoing Russian offensive operations around Bakhmut are further driving a wedge between forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic and Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Wagner Group troops.
    • The US Central Intelligence Agency assesses that the Kremlin is not serious about negotiations with Ukraine, agreeing with a longstanding ISW assessment.
    • Ukrainian forces conducted counterattacks near Svatove and Kreminna and continue to strike Russian rear areas.
    • Russian forces continued offensive operations near Bakhmut and Avdiivka-Donetsk City.
    • Ukrainian officials warned that Russian forces may be attempting to draw Ukrainian forces into a trap on the east (left) bank of the Dnipro River.
    • Russia may be conducting an information operation falsely connecting ongoing negotiations on the demilitarization of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant to a prospective future Ukrainian counteroffensive in Zaporizhia Oblast.
    • Several Russian sources denounced a military commissar’s claim that Russian authorities will extend the service period for conscript soldiers. An extension of the legal mandatory service period would not be necessary to keep current conscripts in the field, however, as all former conscripts are reservists, and all reservists are already eligible for mobilization.

    Read the complete update.


    • December 16, 2022
    • By Kateryna Stepanenko, George Barros, Riley Bailey, Katherine Lawlor, Layne Phillipson, and Frederick W. Kagan

    Key Development

    • Russian forces conducted their ninth large-scale missile campaign against critical Ukrainian energy infrastructure on December 16 and carried out one of the largest missile attacks on Kyiv to date.

    Key Takeaways

    • Russian forces conducted another set of large-scale missile strikes throughout Ukraine and one of the largest missile attacks against Kyiv to date.
    • Russian strikes continue to pose a significant threat to Ukrainian civilians despite generating no improvement in the Russian ability to conduct offensive operations.
    • Dmitry Medvedev made inflammatory but irrelevant comments in support of ongoing information operations that aim to weaken Western support for Ukraine.
    • Russian President Vladimir Putin will likely pressure Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to support the Russian war in Ukraine further at a December 19 meeting in Minsk.
    • Lukashenko is already setting information conditions to deflect Russian integration demands.
    • Putin’s upcoming visit to Minsk could indicate that he is setting conditions for a new offensive from Belarusian territory.
    • Putin and Lukashenko’s meeting will likely advance a separate Russian information operation that seeks to break Ukrainian will and Western willingness to support Ukraine.
    • Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly ignored worst-case scenario assessments of potential damage to the Russian economy prior to launching his full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
    • Russia is continuing to face economic challenges as a direct result of the war in Ukraine.
    • Russian forces conducted counterattacks in the Svatove and Kreminna areas.
    • Russian forces continued offensive operations in the Bakhmut and Avdiivka-Donetsk City areas.
    • Russian forces continued to undertake defensive measures on the left (east) bank of the Dnipro River.
    • Russian officials will likely struggle to recruit additional contract servicemembers despite ongoing efforts to do so.
    • Russian occupation authorities continued seizing civilian infrastructure to treat wounded Russian servicemen and aid Russian forces operating in occupied territories.

    Read the complete update.


    • December 15, 2022
    • By Karolina Hird, George Barros, Riley Bailey, Madison Williams, and Frederick W. Kagan

    Key Development

    • Russia may be setting conditions to conduct a new offensive against Ukraine— possibly against Kyiv—in winter 2023. Such an attack is extraordinarily unlikely to succeed.  A Russian attack from Belarus is not imminent at this time.

    Key Takeaways

    • Russia may be setting conditions to conduct a new offensive against Ukraine—possibly against Kyiv—in winter 2023. Such an attack is extraordinarily unlikely to succeed.  A Russian attack from Belarus is not imminent at this time.
    • Russian President Vladimir Putin’s objectives in Ukraine have not changed.
    • Putin is using two simultaneous military efforts to pursue his objective of conquering Ukraine and securing major concessions.
    • Putin is likely setting conditions for a renewed offensive before the spring of 2023 to coerce Ukraine into offering concessions.
    • Russian forces may be setting conditions to attack from Belarusian territory, although ISW continues to assess that the Belarusian military will not join the fighting in Ukraine.
    • Ukrainian forces reportedly continued counteroffensive operations in the direction of Kreminna and Svatove.
    • Russian forces continued offensive operations in the Bakhmut and Avdiivka areas.
    • Russian forces continued defensive operations south of the Dnipro River in southern Ukraine.
    • The Russian officer corps continues to suffer heavy losses in Ukraine.
    • Ukrainian partisans conducted a sabotage attack on a power transformer substation in Berdyansk, Zaporizhia Oblast.

    Read the complete update.


    • December 14, 2022
    • By Kateryna Stepanenko, Karolina Hird, George Barros, Riley Bailey, Madison Williams, and Frederick W. Kagan

    Key Development

    • Russian President Vladimir Putin’s alluded decision to postpone his annual address to the Russian Federation Assembly indicates he remains uncertain of his ability to shape the Russian information space amidst increasing criticism of his conduct of the invasion of Ukraine.

    Key Takeaways

    • Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly postponed his annual address to the Russian Federal Assembly, indicating that the Kremlin is not confident that it can continue to shape the Russian information space.
    • Ukrainian officials are forecasting that Russian forces may attempt to launch a large-scale offensive at the beginning of 2023.
    • Ukrainian air defenses shot down all drones that Russian forces launched in attacks on December 14.
    • Ukrainian sources reported that 64 POWs returned to Ukrainian-held territory.
    • The Kremlin will likely intensify information operations aimed at presenting the Ukrainian government as oppressing religious liberties and freedom of the press.
    • Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations and Russian forces conducted counterattacks in the Svatove and Kreminna areas.
    • Russian forces continued offensive operations in the Bakhmut and Avdiivka areas.
    • Russian forces continued defensive operations south of the Dnipro River in Kherson Oblast.
    • Kremlin officials admitted to receiving complaints about mobilization despite mobilization’s “de facto end.”
    • Ukrainian partisans continue to aid Ukrainian forces in identifying valuable Russian targets.

    Read the complete update.


    • December 13, 2022
    • By Karolina Hird, George Barros, Grace Mappes, Madison Williams, and Frederick W. Kagan

    Key Development

    • Belarusian forces remain unlikely to attack Ukraine despite a snap Belarusian military readiness check on December 13.

    Key Takeaways

    • Belarusian forces remain unlikely to attack Ukraine despite a snap Belarusian military readiness check on December 13.
    • Ukrainian officials continue to assess that Belarus is unlikely to attack Ukraine as of December 13.
    • Senior Israeli officials stated that Iran seeks to limit the range of missiles it plans to provide to Russia in order to avoid triggering UN “snapback” sanctions.
    • Ukrainian intelligence reported that Russian forces are striking Ukraine with missiles that Ukraine transferred to Russia in the 1990s as part of an international agreement by which Russia recognized Crimea and all of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts as part of Ukraine and committed not to threaten or attack Ukraine.
    • US officials stated on December 13 that the Pentagon is finalizing plans to send Patriot missile defense systems to Ukraine.
    • Russia continues to use concepts of terrorism as a legal framework for domestic repression.
    • Russian forces conducted limited counterattacks near Svatove and Kreminna.
    • Russian forces made marginal advances within Bakhmut and continued ground assaults near Avdiivka and Vuhledar.
    • Russian forces may be withdrawing from certain areas south of the Dnipro River as they continue fortifying rear positions in occupied Kherson Oblast.
    • Likely Ukrainian actors downed a bridge in Melitopol, Zaporizhia Oblast amid increased reports of Ukrainian strikes against Russian military assets near Melitopol within the past few days.
    • The Wagner Group is continuing efforts to use recruits from Russian prisoners to generate combat power.

    Read the complete update.


    • December 12, 2022
    • By Karolina Hird, Kateryna Stepanenko, Grace Mappes, Layne Philipson, George Barros, Madison Williams, Yekaterina Klepanchuk, and Frederick W. Kagan

    Key Development

    • Russian forces are continuing to shape and consolidate their force composition in eastern Ukraine to bolster defenses against ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensives near the Kharkiv-Luhansk Oblast border and support limited offensive efforts in Donetsk Oblast. 

    Key Takeaways

    • Russian forces are continuing to shape and consolidate their force composition in eastern Ukraine to bolster defenses against ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensives near the Kharkiv-Luhansk Oblast border and support limited offensive efforts in Donetsk Oblast.
    • The cost of the Russian war in Ukraine will likely continue to undermine Russian President Vladimir Putin’s geopolitical campaigns worldwide.
    • The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) officially denied rumors that Russian Chief of the General Staff Army General Valery Gerasimov has been or soon will be replaced, although it stopped short of offering the kind of credible support for this denial that it has provided that Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu is still on the job.
    • Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov stated that Ukraine intends to continue counteroffensives in winter 2022–2023 after the hard freeze enables maneuver warfare, supporting an ISW assessment.
    • Senior US government officials may be correcting their assessments about Ukraine’s ability and intent to conduct counteroffensive operations this winter.
    • Russian forces continued limited ground attacks near Svatove and Kreminna as Ukrainian forces struck rear areas in Luhansk Oblast.
    • Russian forces continued ground attacks in the Bakhmut and Avdiivka–Donetsk City areas and conducted defensive operations southwest of Donetsk City.
    • Ukrainian forces continued to target Russian military assets and logistics hubs along critical ground lines of communication (GLOCs) in southern Ukraine.
    • Russian forces are fortifying the northern beaches of Crimea along the Black Sea coast.
    • Russian forces may lack sufficient infrastructure to support their troops in Crimea.

    Read the complete update.


    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 12-18, 2022 – Mouseover to Scroll

    Ukraine Conflict Maps - 121222 - 121822

    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).


    About the Institute for the Study of War Research Methodology

    ISW’s research methodology relies on both primary and secondary sources, enabling researchers to develop a comprehensive understanding of the situation on the ground. In order to analyze military and political developments in any given area, ISW’s research analysts must wholly understand the systems of enemy and friendly forces. They must also understand the population demographics, physical terrain, politics, and history of that area. This lays the analytical foundation for understanding the reasons for particular developments and fulfilling their assigned research objectives. ISW analysts also spend time in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in order to gain a better understanding of the security and political situation and to evaluate the implementation of current strategies and policies. Our researchers compile data and analyze trends, producing a granular analysis of developments in areas of research, producing an accurate, high-resolution, timely, and thorough picture of the situation. ISW’s research methodology guarantees its success and commitment to improving the nation’s ability to execute military operations, achieve strategic objectives, and respond to emerging problems that may require the use of American military power.

    About the Institute for the Study of War

    The Institute for the Study of War advances an informed understanding of military affairs through reliable research, trusted analysis, and innovative education. We are committed to improving the nation’s ability to execute military operations and respond to emerging threats in order to achieve U.S. strategic objectives. ISW is a non-partisan, non-profit, public policy research organization.

    Learn more, get involved, and contribute today.


    Additional Reading

    Source: ComplexDiscovery

     

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