December 2, 2023

Institute for the Study of War: poor weather slows combat across the frontline

Institute for the Study of War

Poor weather conditions continue to slow the pace of Ukrainian and Russian combat operations across the entire frontline but have not completely halted them. Ukrainian Ground Forces Command Spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Volodymyr Fityo stated that Russian forces actively use aviation in the Bakhmut direction when the weather permits it. Fityo added that weather does not significantly affect Russian artillery fire in the Bakhmut direction. Russian milbloggers, claimed on December 1 that strong winds near Bakhmut and in western Zaporizhia Oblast prevented Russian forces from using drones and artillery over the past two days, however. A Russian milblogger claimed that although light rain allows Russian forces to conduct aerial reconnaissance near Verbove (9km east of Robotyne) the muddy terrain makes it challenging for infantry and wheeled vehicles to advance in western Zaporizhia Oblast. The milblogger added that Russian forces can only move on tracked vehicles and that Ukrainian forces continue intense artillery fire despite the poor weather conditions in western Zaporizhia Oblast. Zaporizhia Oblast occupation official Vladimir Rogov amplified footage on December 2 that shows muddy roads on the Robotyne-Novoprokopivka-Verbove line in western Zaporizhia Oblast and claimed that these conditions have practically immobilized Ukrainian wheeled vehicles, forcing Ukrainian troops to conduct infantry-only attacks. Rogov amplified additional footage showing an infestation of rats and mice in a Ukrainian trench in Zaporizhia Oblast, which he claimed was the result of the cold weather in the region.

Key Takeaways:

  • Poor weather conditions continue to slow the pace of Ukrainian and Russian combat operations across the entire frontline but have not completely halted them.
  • Russian forces launched another series of Shahed 136/131 drone and missile strikes targeting southern Ukraine overnight on December 1-2.
  • Ukrainian and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials reported that the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) completely disconnected from all external power sources for five and a half hours on the night of December 1 to 2, marking the plant’s eighth complete black out – all under Russian occupation.
  • The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned three third party entities involved in the transport of Russian crude oil above the G7 price cap.
  • The Russia Ministry of Defense (MoD) signaled that it likely intends to continue relying on crypto-mobilization recruitment schemes for any potential increase in the size of the Russian military.
  • The Kremlin’s policy towards the role of migrants in bolstering Russia’s industrial capacity continues to be inconsistent.
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s November 30 threat against Moldova may have emboldened certain pro-Russian actors to attempt to sow political instability and division in Moldova.
  • Russian forces continued offensive operations along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line, near Bakhmut, near Avdiivka, west of Donetsk City, in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area, and in western Zaporizhia Oblast and advanced near Avdiivka.
  • Radio Svoboda’s “Schemes” and “Systems” investigative projects published a joint investigation on December 1 detailing how the Main Directorate of the Russian General Staff (GRU) created the “Redut” private military company (PMC) to recruit thousands of Russians for irregular combat service in Ukraine.
  • Ukrainian partisans reportedly conducted a partisan attack against Russian military personnel in occupied Melitopol, Zaporizhia Oblast, on December 1.

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