Russian forces may be suffering losses along the entire front in Ukraine at a rate close to the rate at which Russia is currently generating new forces. The US pushed for large-scale, combined arms offensives. But Ukraine faced unexpected difficulties like dense minefields and drones. It was forced to abandon mechanized assaults for slower, dismounted infantry tactics after heavy losses.
Ukrainian Ground Forces Command Spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Volodymyr Fityo stated on December 7 that Russian forces lost almost 11,000 personnel (presumably killed or rendered hors de combat by injury) in the Kupyansk, Lyman, and Bakhmut directions in November 2023. The operational tempo in the Kupyansk, Lyman, and Bakhmut directions is currently lower than in the Avdiivka direction. These reported losses suggest that the Russian casualty rate in the Avdiivka area may be even higher given the higher operational tempo there. Ukrainian officials previously reported that Russian forces lost 5,000 personnel killed and wounded near Avdiivka and Marinka (west of Donetsk City) between October 10 and 26, when Russian forces launched two waves of heavily mechanized assaults to capture Avdiivka. Russian forces are currently conducting mass infantry-led assaults to capture Avdiivka in an apparent effort to conserve armored vehicles despite the risk of even greater manpower losses. Ukrainian officials have notably indicated that Russian defensive efforts are resulting in significant casualties as well, with Ukrainian forces reportedly killing over 1,200 Russian personnel and wounding over 2,200 on the east (left) bank of Kherson Oblast between October 17 and November 17. Ukrainian forces continue counteroffensive operations in western Zaporizhia Oblast and are likely inflicting similar losses on defending Russian forces in this sector of the front. ISW cannot confirm Ukrainian-provided Russian casualty figures, and reliable figures for Russian casualties in Ukraine are not available. If the Ukrainian-provided figures are generally accurate they suggest that Russian operations in Ukraine are highly attritional overall and that high Russian losses are not just the result of the costliest Russian offensive operations near Avdiivka.
Russian forces conducted another series of drone strikes against Ukraine on the night of December 6 to 7. Ukrainian military sources reported on December 7 that Ukrainian forces downed 15 of 18 Russian-launched Shahed-131/136 drones that primarily targeted Khmelnytskyi and Odesa oblasts. Ukrainian officials reported that Russian drones struck port infrastructure in Izmail Raion, Odesa Oblast, damaging a warehouse and a grain elevator. … Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Spokesperson Andriy Yusov stated that Russian forces do not have enough resources to strike Ukrainian energy infrastructure on a larger scale than last winter.
British foreign secretary David Cameron urged US lawmakers to approve fresh aid for Ukraine, one day after Senate Republicans blocked a funding bill for Kyiv. “I’m not worried about the strength and unity and consensus and bravery of the Ukrainian people … I’m worried that we’re not going to do what we need to do,” Cameron told the Aspen Security Forum in the US capital.
The Biden administration is considering getting behind new restrictions on who can seek asylum and an expanded deportation process to secure new aid for Ukraine and Israel in a supplemental funding bill, a source familiar with discussions told Reuters. The White House and congress are racing to strike a deal that would deliver military aid to the two allied nations while discouraging illegal immigration across the US-Mexico border with only a week until lawmakers depart for a Christmas break.
French President Emmanuel Macron met Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orbán in a bid to break the deadlock ahead of an EU summit after the Hungarian leader threatened to block Ukraine’s accession talks. Macron welcomed Orban at the Élysée Palace for a working dinner to discuss, according to the French presidency, “several subjects” on the agenda for the EU summit next week, including “various aspects of European support for Ukraine”.
Ukraine began using train platforms to bypass a border blockade by Polish truck drivers, Ukrzalynitsya, Ukraine’s rail network, said. The first train deployed in the operation moved 23 trucks across the border from Ukraine into Poland, a statement said.
The UK and US accused Russian security services of engaging in a sustained cyber-espionage campaign against top politicians, journalists and NGOs. The UK foreign ministry said Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) was behind “unsuccessful attempts to interfere in UK political processes” and said it had summoned Russia’s ambassador to London about the issue.
Japan’s prime minister Fumio Kishida pledged $4.5bn to Ukraine, including $1bn in humanitarian aid to help support the war-torn country’s recovery effort in an online summit of leading industrial nations. The $1bn humanitarian aid includes funding for generators and other power supplies, as well as measures to clear mines planted by Russia, the foreign ministry said. The remaining $3.5bn includes funding for credit guarantees for World Bank loans to Ukraine.
Ukraine told residents to save energy after a power plant near the frontline was hit by shelling, in the first such warning this winter. Officials had warned for months Moscow was planning to step up strikes on energy infrastructure, after attacks on the power grid last year led to widespread blackouts.
Kyiv has agreed with two American firms to jointly manufacture vital 155mm artillery shells in Ukraine, a Ukrainian minister said, although production will not start for at least two years. “We have agreements with two leading American companies to jointly produce, in Ukraine, 155-calibre ammunition,” Oleksandr Kamyshin, minister for strategic industries, said in televised comments.
Russian forces relied heavily on aerial attacks in their slow-moving campaign to win control of eastern Ukraine and resorted to new smaller attack groups in pressing to capture the beleaguered town of Avdiivka. “For the second day in a row, occupying forces have been actively using kamikaze drones and aviation. And the number of combat clashes has significantly increased,” Ukrainian military spokesperson Oleksandr Shtupun told national television.
- Russian forces may be suffering losses along the entire front in Ukraine at a rate close to the rate at which Russia is currently generating new forces.
- Russia does appear able to continue absorbing such losses and making them good with new recruits, however, as long as President Vladimir Putin is willing and able to absorb the domestic consequences.
- The US Department of Defense (DoD) announced a new security assistance package and joint weapons production pledge to Ukraine against the backdrop of the International Forum for Defense Industries (DFNC1) in Washington, D.C. on December 6-7.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed developing Russian-Iranian economic relations with Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi in Moscow on December 7.
- Attacks on public figures in Russia have prompted officials to propose increased security measures for Russian political and public figures and some ultranationalists to call for the resurrection of Soviet security organizations.
- The Russian Federation Council adopted a resolution confirming that the upcoming Russian presidential elections will occur on March 17, 2024, amid continued Kremlin efforts to legitimize the elections.
- Russian security organs conducted mass arrests targeting high-profile gangs in Moscow and St. Petersburg, including members and co-conspirators within the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) and other internal security organs.
- Russian forces continued offensive operations along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line, near Bakhmut, near Avdiivka, west and southwest of Donetsk City, and in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area and marginally advanced near Avdiivka.
- Russian authorities continue to rebuff appeals from the relatives of mobilized Russian military personnel.
- Ukrainian partisans and residents in occupied territories continue to provide Ukrainian officials with targeting information.
Russian Subordinate Main Effort #1 – Luhansk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the remainder of Luhansk Oblast and push westward into eastern Kharkiv Oblast and northern Donetsk Oblast)
Russian forces continued localized offensive operations along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line on December 7 but did not make any confirmed gains. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that in the Kupyansk direction Ukrainian forces repelled at least seven Russian assaults near Synkivka (9km northwest of Kupyansk) and that in the Lyman direction Ukrainian forces repelled at least six Russian assaults near Terny (17km west of Kreminna), Vesele (31km south of Kreminna), and Rozdolivka (32km southwest of Kreminna).
Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces conducted ground attacks along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line on December 7 and recently advanced. The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that unspecified elements of the Russian Western Grouping of Forces repelled five Russian assaults near Synkivka and Lake Lyman (northwest of Synkivka) and that unspecified elements of the Russian Central Grouping of Forces repelled Ukrainian assaults near Yampolivka (17km west of Kreminna).
Russian Subordinate Main Effort #2 – Donetsk Oblast (Russian objective: Capture the entirety of Donetsk Oblast, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)
Russian forces continued offensive operations near Bakhmut on December 7 and reportedly recently advanced. A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces captured unspecified positions during a surprise assault near Bakhmut on December 6. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian attacks near Bohdanivka (6km northwest of Bakhmut), Ivanivske (6km west of Bakhmut), Klishchiivka (7km southwest of Bakhmut), and Andriivka (10km southwest of Bakhmut).... Russian sources indicated that elements the 51st Airborne (VDV) Regiment and 119th VDV Regiment (both of the 106th VDV Division) continue to operate north and south of Bakhmut, respectively.
Russian forces conducted offensive operations near Avdiivka on December 7 and recently marginally advanced. Geolocated footage published on December 5 and 6 shows that Russian forces made marginal advances east of Stepove (3km northwest of Avdiivka) and southeast of Avdiivka. Russian milbloggers also claimed on December 6 and 7 that Russian forces advanced near Stepove, east of Avdiivka, and in the industrial zone southeast of Avdiivka. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled Russian attacks east of Novobakhmutivka (9km northwest of Avdiivka) and near Stepove, Avdiivka, Sieverne (5km west of Avdiivka), Tonenke (5km west of Avdiivka), and Pervomaiske (11km southwest of Avdiivka).