March 2, 2024

Institute for the Study of War: Russia rejects Turkish offer to host peace talks

Institute for the Study of War

Russian forces appear to be willing to risk continued aviation losses in pursuit of tactical gains in eastern Ukraine, likely along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line. The Ukrainian Air Force reported on March 2 that Ukrainian forces destroyed one Su-34 aircraft that was conducting glide bomb strikes against Ukrainian positions in eastern Ukraine on the morning of March 1. Ukrainian Air Force Commander Lieutenant General Mykola Oleshchuk later stated that Ukrainian forces attempted to down two additional Russian Su-34 aircraft and one Su-35 and downed one of the Su-34 aircraft. Ukrainian military officials reported that Ukrainian forces have shot down 15 Russian aircraft since February 17. Ukrainian Air Force Spokesperson Colonel Yuriy Ihnat stated that Russian forces have not deployed A-50 long-range radar detection aircraft over the Sea of Azov for the past six days following the destruction of an A-50 aircraft on February 23 and implied that the absence of A-50 aircraft forces Russian Su-34 and Su-35 aircraft to fly closer to their targets to conduct strikes. Previous Russian aircraft losses have prompted Russian forces to temporarily decrease aviation activity throughout Ukraine, but the increased rate of Russian aviation losses in Ukraine in the past weeks has yet to prompt Russian forces to significantly decrease tactical aviation activity. ISW assessed that Russian forces temporarily established limited and localized air superiority during the final days of the Russian seizure of Avdiivka. Russian forces are likely attempting to reestablish this limited and localized air superiority in order to support tactical Russian advances in the Avdiivka direction and have decided that continued offensive operations with air support outweigh the risk of losing more aircraft. ISW continues to assess that the reported loss of 15 aircraft and possibly some highly trained pilots in about two weeks is not negligible for the Russian military given that Russia likely has about 300 various Sukhoi fighter aircraft.

Key Takeaways:

  • Russian forces appear to be willing to risk continued aviation losses in pursuit of tactical gains in eastern Ukraine, likely along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line.
  • Transfers of North Korean weapons to Russia by sea apparently paused as of mid-February 2024.
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov publicly rejected Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent offer to host a negotiation platform for Russia and Ukraine.
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov used the Antalya Diplomatic Forum to promote Kremlin narratives about Moldova, likely to set conditions for potential Kremlin hybrid operations that aim to destabilize Moldova and prevent Moldova’s accession to the European Union (EU).
  • Senior Russian officials acknowledged Armenia’s reduced participation in the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), marking a notable shift in Russian official rhetoric that previously sought to ignore Armenian efforts to distance itself from the CSTO.
  • The Kremlin appears to have largely permitted displays of anti-war sentiment in Moscow as Russians observed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s funeral on March 1.
  • Russian forces made confirmed advances near Kreminna, Avdiivka, and Krynky on March 2.
  • Russian Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov inspected a Russian shipbuilding facility and the construction site of a new military hospital in the Republic of Dagestan during a working trip to Russia’s Southern Military District on March 2.

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