Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, December 14

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Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, December 14

Dec 14, 2022 – Press ISW

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s alluded decision to postpone his annual address to the Russian Federation Assembly indicates he remains uncertain of his ability to shape the Russian information space amidst increasing criticism of his conduct of the invasion of Ukraine. The Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly to the Russian State Duma and Federation Council is an annual speech introduced to the Russian constitution in February 1994, roughly equivalent to the US President’s annual State of the Union address. Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated that Putin may deliver his address to the Federation Assembly in 2023 and called on Russians to stop “fortune-telling with coffee grounds” regarding the timing of the next address. An unnamed government source told the Russian state newswire TASS that the countdown for the new address starts from the date of the previous address, noting that the address is unlikely to take place in 2022. Putin held his last address in late April 2021, discussing his initiatives for the year following the first crisis he caused with the Russian military buildup on the Ukrainian border in early 2021.

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Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, December 13

Dec 13, 2022 – Press ISW

Belarusian forces remain unlikely to attack Ukraine despite a snap Belarusian military readiness check on December 13. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko ordered a snap comprehensive readiness check of the Belarusian military on December 13. The exercise does not appear to be cover for concentrating Belarusian and/or Russian forces near jumping-off positions for an invasion of Ukraine. It involves Belarusian elements deploying to training grounds across Belarus, conducting engineering tasks, and practicing crossing the Neman and Berezina rivers (which are over 170 km and 70 km away from the Belarusian-Ukrainian border, respectively). Social media footage posted on December 13 showed a column of likely Belarusian infantry fighting vehicles and trucks reportedly moving from Kolodishchi (just east of Minsk) toward Hatava (6km south of Minsk). Belarusian forces reportedly deployed 25 BTR-80s and 30 trucks with personnel toward Malaryta, Brest (about 15 km from Ukraine) on December 13. Russian T-80 tanks reportedly deployed from the Obuz-Lesnovsky Training Ground in Brest, Belarus, to the Brest Training Ground also in Brest (about 30 km from the Belarusian-Ukrainian Border) around December 12. Russia reportedly deployed three MiG-31K interceptors to the Belarusian airfield in Machulishchy on December 13. These deployments are likely part of ongoing Russian information operations suggesting that Belarusian conventional ground forces might join Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. ISW has written at length about why Belarus is extraordinarily unlikely to invade Ukraine in the foreseeable future.

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Iran Crisis Update, December 13

Dec 13, 2022 – Press ISW

The Iranian regime has replaced key clerics responsible for indoctrinating a significant portion of the security forces, possibly to improve efforts to ideologically control security officers. Senior Iranian cleric Abdollah Hajji Sadeghi appointed three new clerics to key leadership posts in the Basij Organization on December 13. Hajji Sadeghi is responsible for representing Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

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Iran Crisis Update, December 12

Dec 12, 2022 – Press ISW

The Iranian regime executed a protester for the second time since the Mahsa Amini protests began as part of the regime effort to deter protest turnout and instill terror among the public. The Judiciary publicly executed 23-year-old Majid Reza Rahnavard on December 12 for “waging war against God” after he killed two security officers. Judiciary Chief Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei defended the regime’s decision to execute arrested prisoners and instructed judges and judicial authorities to ignore critics on December 12. Ejei’s remarks reaffirm his commitment to conducting these brutal executions despite some political and religious figures condemning the executions in recent days. The Judiciary previously executed a protester on December 8.

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Category: News View 38