November 8, 2023

Institute for the Study of War: Russia seeking to reacquire weapons sold to Brazil, Belarus, Egypt and Pakistan

Institute for the Study of War

Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations near Bakhmut and in western Zaporizhia Oblast on November 8. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces continued offensive operations in the Melitopol (western Zaporizhia Oblast) and Bakhmut directions. Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted assaults near Robotyne, Novoprokopivka (just south of Robotyne), and Verbove (9km east of Robotyne). Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated during a video address to the Reuters NEXT conference in New York on November 8 that Ukrainian forces have a battlefield plan for 2024 that he cannot disclose. Zelensky stated that Ukrainian forces have several paths for future advances in southern Ukraine, eastern Ukraine, and Kherson Oblast. There are also plans to advance to specific occupied cities. Ukrainian forces continue counteroffensive operations without interruption in several sectors of the front, and Ukrainian officials continue to indicate that these operations will continue into this winter.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will reportedly avoid centering his 2024 presidential campaign on the war in Ukraine and will rather focus on Russia’s alleged stability and criticisms of the West. Russian opposition media outlet Meduza reported on November 8 that two sources close to the Russian Presidential Administration stated that the presidential campaign aims to paint Putin as a leader who made Russia an “island of calm.” Meduza sources claimed that Putin’s ratings increase after speeches in which he criticizes the West and that Russian state propaganda will encourage this by increasingly publishing stories about “difficulties” in Western countries and the United States’ alleged inability to support Ukraine and Israel simultaneously. A Meduza source also reportedly stated that the campaign would only discuss the war in Ukraine if there were a “very serious [Russian] success” on the front instead of continued “positional warfare.” Putin is reportedly preparing to announce his campaign this month, and Russian sources have consistently indicated that the campaign will not prominently promote the war in Ukraine. Putin previously downplayed the Russian offensive effort near Avdiivka, referring to it as “active defense,” which would be consistent with these reports. The Kremlin-backed United Russia Party also reportedly realized that using the war in Ukraine in their election campaigns in the run up to the September 2023 State Duma elections was ineffective and counterproductive. Concerns within the Kremlin and United Russia over domestic support for the war are not indications that United Russia or Putin’s dominance of Russian politics faces a legitimate threat in the upcoming presidential election, however. This campaign framing, if it occurs, would double down on Putin’s refusal to mobilize Russian society to a wartime footing and may increase the informational cost necessary to support a long-term war effort in Ukraine.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations near Bakhmut and in western Zaporizhia Oblast on November 8.
  • Select Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian commanders may be making operational and tactical decisions using maps of the battlefield in Ukraine that differ from tactical reality.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin promoted 44 Russian military and internal affairs officers, including Eastern Grouping of Forces Commander Andrei Kuzmenko, to general officer rank on November 8.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin will reportedly avoid centering his 2024 presidential campaign on the war in Ukraine and will rather focus on Russia’s alleged stability and criticisms of the West.
  • Ukrainian partisans and military intelligence assassinated a prominent Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) official accused of conducting war crimes in occupied Ukraine.
  • Russian forces conducted offensive operations along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line, near Bakhmut, near Avdiivka, west and southwest of Donetsk City, in western Donetsk Oblast, in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area, and in western Zaporizhia Oblast on November 8 and advanced in some areas.
  • Russia is reportedly attempting to reacquire components for military equipment from states to which it previously sold the equipment, including Egypt, Pakistan, Brazil, and Belarus.
  • Russian occupation administrations continue to create new administrative bodies meant to further integrate occupied territories into Russian governance systems.
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