December 24, 2023

Institute for the Study of War: Ukraine shoots down three Russian Su-34’s in southern Ukraine

Institute for the Study of War

European Union (EU) Foreign Affairs High Representative Josep Borrell stated that Russian President Vladimir Putin is not interested in a limited territorial victory in Ukraine and will continue the war “until the final victory.” Borrell reported on December 24 that Putin would not be satisfied with capturing a “piece” of Ukraine and allowing the rest of Ukraine to join the EU. Borrell added that Putin will not “give up the war” and called on the West to prepare for a “conflict of high intensity for a long time.” Borrell’s statements are consistent with ISW’s assessment that Russia is not interested in a ceasefire or good-faith negotiations with Ukraine but retains its maximalist goals of a full Russian victory in Ukraine.

Russian forces are reportedly decreasing aviation activity and their use of glide bombs in Ukraine after Ukrainian forces shot down three Russian Su-34s in southern Ukraine between December 21 and 22. Ukrainian Air Force Spokesperson Colonel Yuriy Ihnat stated on December 24 that Russian forces decreased their use of glide bombs and air strikes in southern Ukraine. Ukrainian military observer Kostyantyn Mashovets stated on December 24 that Russian forces are limiting their use of manned aviation near occupied Crimea, particularly in the northwestern Black Sea region. ISW previously assessed that Russian forces may have recently intensified their use of glide bombs against Ukrainian forces on the west (right) bank of the Dnipro River in part because Ukrainian forces reportedly suppressed Russian long-range artillery in the area. Continued decreased Russian glide bomb strikes in Kherson Oblast may present an opportunity for Ukrainian forces to operate more freely in near rear areas in west bank Kherson Oblast and establish a safer position on the east (left) bank from which to conduct future operations if the Ukrainian high command so chose. Russian forces reportedly use glide bomb strikes so that Russian aircraft can remain 50 to 70 kilometers behind the line of combat engagement, and the decreased Russian use of glide bombs suggests that Russian forces are concerned about Ukrainian air defense capabilities following recent losses. Ukrainian Ground Forces Spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Volodymyr Fityo stated on December 23 that Russian forces also reduced their use of aviation and increased their use of strike drones in the Kupyansk and Bakhmut directions. Ihnat also stated on December 24 that Ukrainian forces can deploy air defense systems in any direction, not only in those where Russian forces suffered aircraft loses.

Key Takeaways:

  • European Union (EU) Foreign Affairs High Representative Josep Borrell stated that Russian President Vladimir Putin is not interested in a limited territorial victory in Ukraine and will continue the war “until the final victory.”
  • Russian forces are reportedly decreasing aviation activity and their use of glide bombs in Ukraine after Ukrainian forces shot down three Russian Su-34s in southern Ukraine between December 21 and 22.
  • Russian forces conducted a series of drone and missile strikes against Ukraine on the night of December 23 to 24.
  • Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov further detailed Ukraine’s efforts to establish a sustainable wartime force-generation apparatus and an effective defense industrial base (DIB) during an interview published on December 24.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to portray himself as a gracious leader who cares about the wellbeing of Russian military personnel, while also presenting himself as an effective Commander-in-Chief of the Russian armed forces.
  • Russia appears to be continuing its efforts to build out a military occupation force in Ukraine separate from its frontline units through the use of its newly formed Rosgvardia units.
  • The Russian Black Sea Fleet’s 810th Naval Infantry Brigade edited its acknowledgement that its personnel are deliberately using chemical weapons in Ukraine in a likely effort to hide what could be evidence of an apparent violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, to which Russia is party.
  • Russia’s labor shortage, which is partially a result of the war in Ukraine, reportedly amounted to about 4.8 million people in 2023 and will likely continue to exacerbate struggling Kremlin efforts aimed at increasing Russian economic capacity.
  • Russian forces made confirmed advanced near Kreminna and near Avdiivka as positional engagements continues along the entire line of contact.
  • The newly formed 337th Airborne (VDV) Regiment (104th VDV Division) operating in east (left) bank Kherson Oblast near Krynky is continuing to suffer losses.
  • Russian officials claimed that Russia’s handling of the situation at the Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) is sufficient, despite recent unsafe incidents during Russian occupation of the plant.

For full report:

https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-december-23-2023

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