Monday, February 19, 2024

Russian Operations Assessment 8FEB2024

Key Takeaways:
• Russian President Vladimir Putin attempted to use an interview with American media personality Tucker Carlson published on February 8 to present to a wider Western audience a long-standing Kremlin information operation that falsely asserts that Russia is interested in a negotiated end to its war in Ukraine. Putin illustrated throughout the interview that Russia has no interest in meaningful or legitimate negotiations, however, and that Putin still seeks to destroy Ukraine as a state. Putin also displayed his overarching hostility towards the West and falsely accused the West of forcing Russia to attack Ukraine. 
• Putin also attempted to use the interview to absurdly reframe Russia as the wronged party and not the initiator of Russia’s unprovoked war of conquest against Ukraine. 
• Putin continued attempts to justify Russia’s invasions of Ukraine in 2014 and 2022 as responses to Ukraine’s and the West’s actions in order to defend his long-standing calls for regime change in Kyiv and Ukraine’s “demilitarization” “denazification,” and “neutrality.” 
• Putin continued to propagate pseudo-history in an effort to deny Ukrainian statehood and nationhood. 
• Putin also reiterated a quasi-realist world view that defines weakening the West and dismantling NATO as pre-requisites for the Russian-led multipolar world he desires to create. 
• Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky replaced General Valerii Zaluzhnyi with Ukrainian Ground Forces Commander Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi as Ukraine’s Commander-inChief on February 8, as part of wider military leadership changes. Such changes are normal for states engaged in a protracted war. 
• Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping held a routine phone call on February 8 that underscored China’s hesitance to support Russia’s desired bilateral RussoSino relationship while Russia forges deeper partnerships with Iran and North Korea. 
• Ukrainian and Russian forces conducted a one-to-one prisoner of war (POW) exchange on February 8. 
• The Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reported that it recently conducted a cyberattack against the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) preventing Russian forces from automatically operating an unspecified number of likely first-person view (FPV) drones. 
• The Russian Central Election Committee (CEC) refused to register Boris Nadezhdin, the only anti-war Russian presidential candidate, for the March 2024 presidential election likely due to his larger-than-anticipated popularity. 
• Some Russian and Ukrainian sources claimed that Russian forces are using Starlink in occupied Ukraine. 
• Ukrainian forces recently made confirmed advances near Kreminna and Russian forces recently made confirmed advances near Kreminna, Avdiivka, and Donetsk City amid continued positional fighting along the entire line of contact on February 8. 
• The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) proposed a draft bill on February 8 to establish a single maximum age for contract service personnel (kontraktniki) during a period of partial mobilization, martial law, or wartime. 
• Russian authorities are likely setting conditions to falsify voting results in occupied Ukraine in the March 2024 presidential election.


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