Russian forces launched a series of missile and drone strikes against Ukraine on the night of December 3 to 4. Ukrainian military sources reported that Russian forces launched 23 Shahed-131/136 from Cape Chauda in occupied Crimea and one Kh-59 cruise missile from occupied Kherson Oblast and stated that Ukrainian forces shot down 18 Shaheds and the Kh-59 missile. Ukrainian Air Force Spokesperson Colonel Yuriy Ihnat stated that the Russian military has increased its production of Shahed drones, which are likely to be the main systems that Russian forces will use to target Ukrainian energy infrastructure throughout winter 2023-2024. Ihnat also reported that Russian forces are increasing their “strategic stockpile” of missiles.
Ukraine’s Western partners continue efforts to provide Ukraine with military and economic support. German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall announced on December 3 that it won a contract to provide Ukraine with €142 million worth of 155mm artillery rounds, which Germany will deliver to Ukraine in 2025. Rheinmetall stated that it will deliver around 40,000 rounds to Ukraine from a separate order in 2024. British outlet The Times highlighted Ukraine’s use of British-provided Martlet lightweight missiles to deter a large-scale Russian Shahed drone strike on Kyiv City in late November 2023. The Times noted that the British Army trained Ukrainian operators on Martlet systems in the UK earlier this year. Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov additionally met with his Belgian counterpart, Ludivine Dedonder, on December 4 to further develop the bilateral Ukrainian-Belgian relationship, particularly in regard to building out Ukraine’s defense industrial base with Belgian support. Head of the Ukrainian President’s Office Andriy Yermak spoke with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan about the upcoming Ukrainian-American conference on arms production that will take place on December 6 and 7 in Washington, DC.
- Russia continues to reckon with the economic ramifications of labor shortages partially resulting from the war in Ukraine.
- Ukraine’s Western partners continue efforts to provide Ukraine with military and economic support.
- Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko discussed deepening Belarusian-Chinese relations with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, China on December 4.
- Kremlin-backed United Russia State Duma deputies and Federation Council senators proposed a bill to introduce criminal punishments for leaking personal data, likely as part of ongoing efforts to control the Russian information space ahead of the March 2024 Russian presidential elections.
- The Kremlin likely continues efforts to insert itself into power vacuums in several African countries as Wagner Group elements continue to operate in the Central African Republic (CAR).
- Voronezh Oblast Governor Alexander Gusev confirmed on December 4 the death of Russian 14th Army Corps Deputy Commander Major General Vladimir Zavadsky in Ukraine.
- Russian forces conducted offensive operations along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line, near Bakhmut, near Avdiivka, west and southwest of Donetsk City, in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area, and in western Zaporizhia Oblast and advanced in some areas on December 4.
- Select Russian Duma deputies appear to be at odds over the issue of extending Russian conscript service.
- Russian Presidental Administration Head for Domestic Policy Andrei Yarin reportedly visited occupied Ukraine as part of ongoing efforts to legitimize Russian authority over occupied Ukraine ahead of the March 2024 Russian presidential election.
For full report: https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-december-3-2023