October 5, 2023

Institute for the Study of War: Putin denounces international law as ‘outdated and subject to demolition’

Institute for the Study of War

Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the 20th Valdai Discussion Club on October 5 and promoted multiple long-standing Russian information operations. Putin reiterated the false narrative that the West initiated the conflict in Ukraine in 2014 and claimed that NATO expansion threatens Russian security. Putin claimed that the war in Ukraine is not a “territorial conflict” but is about Russia establishing principles for a new multipolar world order, stating that the UN and modern international law are “outdated and subject to demolition.” ISW recently evaluated claims that Putin launched the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022 because he feared NATO and instead assessed that Putin’s aims were to expand Russia’s power, eradicate Ukrainian statehood, and break up NATO – goals he still pursues. Putin’s expressed goal of establishing a multipolar world order further supports ISW’s assessment that Putin’s goals in Ukraine have also exceeded responding to some supposed NATO threat or conquering limited additional territory.

Ukrainian forces continued offensive operations near Bakhmut and in western Zaporizhia Oblast and reportedly advanced on October 5. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces continue to conduct offensive operations in the Melitopol direction (western Zaporizhia Oblast) and offensive actions in the Bakhmut direction. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces achieved unspecified successes east of Andriivka (10km southwest of Bakhmut), and Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Oleksandr Shtupun reported that Ukrainian forces achieved partial success west of Robotyne (10km south of Orikhiv).

A prominent Russian milblogger justified Russian tactical retreats throughout the Ukrainian counteroffensive as part of an elastic defense. A Russian milblogger amplified a claim reportedly from a Russian frontline soldier that Russian commanders have been choosing to withdraw their forces throughout the counteroffensive period from “broken positions” in order to conduct a “maneuverable and active defense,” likely referring to an elastic defense approach. Other Russian milbloggers have recently indicated that Russian commanders are increasingly needing to choose between either “wasting” their troops in counterattacks to hold tactical positions or standing up to the Russian military command by retreating to previously prepared positions against orders or pressure, thereby risking their careers.

Key Takeaways:

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the 20th Valdai Discussion Club on October 5 and promoted multiple long-standing Russian information operations.
  • Putin offered a bizarre explanation for Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin’s death during a press conference at the Valdai Discussion Club on October 5 to deflect blame from the Kremlin.
  • Ukrainian forces continued offensive operations near Bakhmut and in western Zaporizhia Oblast and reportedly advanced on October 5.
  • The Russian military may have redeployed elements of the 41st Combined Arms Army (CAA) and elements of the 810th Naval Infantry Brigade to the Kherson direction.
  • Russian forces conducted a missile strike on Hroza, Kharkiv Oblast that killed 51 people on October 5 following another series of drone strikes across Ukraine overnight.
  • Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu indicated that the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) may be establishing training regiments that can also serve as in extremis operational or strategic reserves, although this is a low confidence assessment.
  • Russia will reportedly build a permanent naval base in Abkhazia, but it will likely remain small.
  • Russian forces conducted offensive operations along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line, near Bakhmut, along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line, in the western Donetsk-eastern Zaporizhia Oblast border area, and in western Zaporizhia Oblast but did not advance on October 5.
  • Russia continues to use the personal data of Russian citizens for crypto-mobilization efforts.
  • Russian occupation officials continue to advertise programs for the forcible removal and deportation of Ukrainian children.
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