February 1, 2024

Institute for the Study of War: Ukraine sinks a corvette of the Russian Black Sea fleet 

Institute for the Study of War

Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief General Valerii Zaluzhnyi presented an overarching strategy to seize the theater-wide initiative in Ukraine and retain it to facilitate Ukrainian battlefield victories despite Russia’s numerical advantages in manpower and materiel. Zaluzhnyi’s strategy aims to offset Ukraine’s existing challenges and pursue advantages over the Russian military through widespread technological innovation and adaptation. The Ukrainian Armed Forces published an essay on February 1 by Zaluzhnyi titled “On the Modern Design of Military Operations in the Russo-Ukrainian War: In the Fight for the Initiative,” wherein Zaluzhnyi argued that the requirements for any given war are unique and that these requirements dictate a unique strategy for victory. Zaluzhnyi identified “decisive conditions” for Ukraine to conduct successful operations, which include achieving absolute air superiority to enable effective Ukrainian fires, logistics, and reconnaissance; seizing the initiative by denying Russian forces the ability to conduct offensive or defensive operations; increasing Ukrainian mobility while limiting Russian mobility; securing safe access to unspecified key lines and important terrain; and denying Russian forces any opportunities to recapture lost positions and increase Russian operational efforts. The decisive conditions that Zaluzhnyi highlighted would effectively give Ukrainian forces the theater-wide initiative and set conditions for Ukraine to conduct operationally significant defensive and offensive operations. Zaluzhnyi argued that the rapid development of new technology changes the means by which Ukraine can achieve these “decisive conditions” and that Ukrainian forces cannot use conventional methods to achieve these conditions given Russia’s superior ability to mobilize men. Zaluzhnyi argued that new technological means, such as drones, unmanned systems, systems integration, and other advanced technological systems can allow Ukrainian forces to maximize their combat potential using fewer resources and inflict maximum damage on Russian forces.

Ukrainian forces successfully struck and sunk a Russian Black Sea Fleet (BSF) vessel in the Black Sea near occupied Crimea on the night of January 31 to February 1. The Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) published footage on February 1 showing Ukrainian maritime drones striking the Ivanovets Tarantul-class corvette (41st Missile Boat Brigade) near Lake Donuzlav in occupied Crimea. The Ukrainian Navy reported that sinking of the Ivanovets is a significant loss to the BSF since the BSF has only three ships of its project 1241.1 (Tarantul) class and noted that Ukrainian forces previously damaged a project 1239 Bora-class corvette in the 41st Missile Boat Brigade. The Ukrainian Navy stated that the Ivanovets is usually staffed with 40 personnel, and the GUR stated that Russian search and rescue operations were unsuccessful. ISW continues to assess that successful Russian strikes on BSF vessels and infrastructure have limited the BSF’s ability to operate in the western part of the Black Sea. A prominent Kremlin-affiliated Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces launched 12 Western-provided SCALP or Storm Shadow missile against occupied Crimea on the night of January 31 to February 1. The milblogger claimed that Russian forces downed five missiles near Belbek Air Base in occupied Sevastopol and six missiles over Yana Kapu, Hvardiske, and northwest of Sevastopol and that one missile struck the ground near Belbek Air Base but did not damage it. Neither Ukrainian nor Russian officials confirmed these claims. Ukrainian Air Force Spokesperson Colonel Yuriy Ihnat stated that the January 31 Ukrainian strikes on Belbek Air Base damaged “several objects” but noted that Ukrainian authorities need more satellite imagery to confirm what objects Ukrainian forces struck.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief General Valerii Zaluzhnyi presented an overarching strategy to seize the theater-wide initiative in Ukraine and retain it to facilitate Ukrainian battlefield victories despite Russia’s numerical advantages in manpower and materiel. Zaluzhnyi’s strategy aims to offset Ukraine’s existing challenges and pursue advantages over the Russian military through widespread technological innovation and adaptation.
  • Ukrainian forces successfully struck and sunk a Russian Black Sea Fleet (BSF) vessel in the Black Sea near occupied Crimea on the night of January 31 to February 1.
  • Russian milbloggers continued to voice frustrations about Russian forces’ continued tactical blunders during offensive operations in western Donetsk Oblast.
  • The European Union (EU) unanimously approved a financial support package for Ukraine for 2024 ­­– 2027. 
  • EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Joseph Borrell stated that the European Union (EU) will not be able to send the promised one million shells to Ukraine by March 2024, but is planning to fulfill this promise by the end of 2024.
  • Chechen Republic Head Ramzan Kadyrov appointed another one of his children to a senior position in the Chechen government as of January 31.
  • Russian forces recently made confirmed advances near Kupyansk, Avdiivka, and Donetsk City amid continued positional engagements along the entire line of contact on February 1.
  • Turkish banks have reportedly started closing Russian companies’ accounts due to the threat of US secondary sanctions.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin highlighted Russian plans to integrate occupied territories of Ukraine into Russia over the next six years.

For full report:  https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-february-1-2024 

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