September 11, 2023

Institute for the Study of War: Russian military plans to mobilize 400,000 troops by December

Institute for the Study of War

Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations in Donetsk and Zaporizhia oblasts on September 11 and have reportedly advanced near Bakhmut and in western Zaporizhia Oblast. Ukrainian military officials announced on September 11 that Ukrainian forces have liberated 2 square kilometers of territory in the Bakhmut direction over the past week and have made gains near Klishchiivka (6km southwest of Bakhmut) and Andriiivka (9km southwest of Bakhmut). Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar also stated that Ukrainian forces have gained a total of 4.8 square kilometers in the Tavriisk (Zaporizhia) operational direction over the past week, particularly south of Robotyne (10km south of Orikhiv) and west of Verbove (20km southeast of Orikhiv).

Russian forces conducted a series of Shahed-131/136 drone strikes targeting southern Ukraine on the night of September 10 to 11. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces shot down 12 Shaheds over Zaporizhia, Dnipropetrovsk, and Mykolaiv oblasts and another unspecified drone. Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Head Kyrylo Budanov stated on September 11 that Russian forces are changing tactics and using drones “en masse.” The Ukrainian General Staff also reported that Russian forces launched 10 missiles, including Kh-31P anti-radar missiles and Ka-59 guided cruise missiles, at Dnipropetrovsk Oblast.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet in Vladivostok in the coming days, likely to discuss bilateral relations and North Korea’s supplies of artillery munitions to Russia. The Kremlin announced on September 11 that Kim will meet with Putin in the coming days, and Kim has reportedly left Pyongyang and is traveling to Russia. ISW will continue to follow developments in the lead-up to the meeting.

US and Armenian forces began joint military exercises in Armenia on September 11. The Armenian Ministry of Defense stated that the joint US-Armenian “Eagle Partner 2023” exercises will prepare Armenian forces to take part in international peacekeeping missions and will last until September 20. 85 US personnel and 175 Armenian personnel are participating in exercises at the Zar and Armavir training grounds near Yerevan. “Eagle Partner 2023” will occur against the backdrop of increasingly tense relations between Moscow and Yerevan, as well as heightened tensions between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations in Donetsk and Zaporizhia oblasts on September 11 and have reportedly advanced near Bakhmut and in western Zaporizhia Oblast.
  • The Rosgvardia may be recruiting previously imprisoned former Wagner Group fighters, likely to further subsume Wagner remnants while bolstering Russia’s domestic security apparatus.
  • Russian border guards expressed similar grievances about limited capabilities and equipment to those voiced by Russian troops serving in Ukraine and continued to express concern over potential Ukrainian raids into Russia.
  • The Kremlin’s ruling United Russia party unsurprisingly achieved most of its desired results in highly fraudulent local elections in Russia and occupied Ukraine.
  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet in Vladivostok in the coming days, likely to discuss bilateral relations and North Korea’s supplies of artillery munitions to Russia.
  • US and Armenian forces began joint military exercises in Armenia on September 11.
  • 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 and advanced in some areas on September 11.
  • Ukrainian forces conducted offensive operations in at least one sector of the front on September 11 and advanced near Bakhmut, along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line, in the western Donetsk-eastern Zaporizhia Oblast border area, and in western Zaporizhia Oblast.
  • Russian Central Election Committee Head Alexander Sidyakin unsurprisingly claimed that United Russia received the majority of votes in occupied Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhia, and Kherson oblasts.
  • Ukrainian and United Kingdom military officials reported on September 11 that the Russian military intends to mobilize over 400,000 personnel by the end of 2023.
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