Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, November 6

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Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, November 6

Nov 6, 2022 – Press ISW

Key Kremlin officials began collectively deescalating their rhetoric regarding the use of nuclear weapons in early November. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) released a statement on “the prevention of nuclear war” on November 2, stating that Russia “is strictly and consistently guided by the postulate of the inadmissibility of a nuclear war in which there can be no winners, and which must never be unleashed.” The Russian MFA also stated that it is committed to the reduction and limitation of nuclear weapons. Russian President Vladimir Putin stated on October 27 that Russia has no need to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine and claimed Russia has never discussed the possibility of using nuclear weapons, only “hinting at the statements made by leaders of Western countries.” The deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, has similarly increasingly downplayed the fiery nuclear rhetoric he used throughout October and is now focusing on promoting Russian unity in the war in Ukraine.

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Iran Crisis Update, November 6

Nov 6, 2022 – Press ISW

The regime continued linking the ongoing protests with terrorism on November 6 as part of an information operation to delegitimize protesters and their grievances. Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf accused the US and Israel of stoking the protests to create a new ISIS in Iran. A group of 227 parliamentarians signed a letter similarly blaming the US for the unrest and comparing protesters to ISIS militants, calling for harsh and rapid prosecutions. Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Telegram channels previously characterized protesters as ”domestic ISIS” on November 3, as CTP previously reported.

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Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, November 5

Nov 5, 2022 – Press ISW

Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin seeks to obfuscate his efforts to strengthen his independent power base with an appeal to the concept of Russia’s historic unity. Prigozhin provided a vague response to a media inquiry regarding his recent visit to Kursk Oblast on Russia’s Unity Day (November 4), during which he had indirectly implied that Wagner forces are involved in upholding Russia’s unity. Prigozhin stated that Russian people, businesses, government, and army need to come together to fight for Russia’s sovereignty and its great future while deflecting from the journalist’s question regarding Prigozhin’s reported meeting with Kursk businessmen about the organization of an unspecified people’s militia – outside of formal Russian military command structures. Prigozhin also noted that Russia has all the ingredients to achieve its goals including a strong president, cohesive army, and great nationhood, which he concluded with an out-of-place greeting from Wagner fighters. Prigozhin later claimed in a follow up media response that his “independence” does not contradict Russian President Vladimir Putin’s politics as some audiences have interpreted.

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Iran Crisis Update, November 5

Nov 5, 2022 – Press ISW

Prominent Sunni cleric Moulana Abdol Hamid may begin regularly instigating protests throughout Sistan and Baluchistan Province rather than in just Zahedan. Protests occurred in at least five cities in Sistan and Baluchistan Province on November 4, including Zahedan, where Abdol Hamid has instigated protests during his Friday sermons in recent weeks. Abdol Hamid called for a referendum on the Islamic Republic during his Friday Prayer sermon on November 4. Abdol Hamid’s criticism of the regime may be resonating with a larger portion of the Sunni Baloch community, indirectly stoking additional demonstrations against the political establishment.

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Iran Crisis Update, November 4

Nov 4, 2022 – Press ISW

Parents of Iranian youth spearheading ongoing demonstrations are increasingly describing protests as a revolutionary movement, mirroring their children’s rhetoric. The father of one killed protester told mourners that his son described Mahsa Amini’s death as an impetus for change and stated that ”there will be no revolution until blood is shed” at his 40-day commemoration ceremony on October 29. Another father of a killed protester similarly described his son as a martyr of freedom at his funeral on October 31. The mother of another killed protester described her son as someone who gave his life to the Iranian nation at his 40-day commemoration ceremony on November 4. The parent of a young Iranian protester told Reuters that she felt compelled to ”reclaim Iran” for her daughters and all Iranian girls in an article published on November 3.

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Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, November 4

Nov 4, 2022 – Press ISW

The Russian military is likely trying to use mobilized personnel to restart the Donetsk offensive but will likely still fail to achieve operationally significant gains. Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces General Valerii Zaluzhnyi reported on November 4 that Russian forces have tripled the intensity of hostilities in certain sections of the front with up to 80 daily assaults. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces are currently focusing those offensive operations in the direction of Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and western Donetsk Oblast. The Ukrainian Eastern Group of troops spokesperson Serhiy Cherevatyi stated on November 4 that Russian forces are likely trying to seize Bakhmut and Soledar in Donetsk Oblast so that Russia can declare some type of success by announcing the “liberation” of the Donbas (even though those gains would not give Russia control over the entire region). Cherevatyi also noted the presence of mobilized men in the Bakhmut direction, an area that should not in principle see many mobilized personnel given the extensive presence in this area of Wagner Group and proxy units that should not be receiving large numbers of Russian reservists. ISW previously assessed that Russian forces prematurely impaled an insufficient concentration of mobilized personnel on offensive pushes near Bakhmut and Vuhledar in Donetsk Oblast on November 3. The apparent intensification of Russian assaults in Donetsk Oblast likely indicates that Russian forces are repeating that mistake throughout this section of the front. The increased quantity of personnel at frontline positions may allow Russian forces to achieve some gains in Donetsk Oblast, but poor training, logistics, and command will continue to prevent Russian forces from making operationally significant gains that would materially affect the course or outcome of the war.

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