Russia's apparent failure to create a cohesive command structure among forces defending themselves on the eastern (left) coast of the Kherson Oblast continues to deteriorate Russian morale and combat capabilities. The Ukrainian General Staff announced on November 29 that units of the 810th Marine Infantry Brigade (Black Sea Fleet), operating near Krinki (30 km northeast of the city of Kherson and 2 km from the Dnieper River), refused to carry out attacks on Ukrainian positions due to lack of artillery coordination, the transmission of tactical reconnaissance and proper communication about the location of Russian minefields.
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The Ukrainian General Staff said maps of Russian minefields had been classified and that Russian commanders had not properly coordinated with assault units regarding the locations of these minefields, resulting in 50 casualties among elements of the 810th Marine Infantry Brigade in the past month.
Elements of the 810th Marine Brigade arrived in the Krinky area in early October 2023 and appear to have taken responsibility for the immediate Krinky area from elements of the newly created 18th Combined Arms Army after the start of Ukrainian ground operations on the east coast of the Dnieper in mid-October 2023.
This is stated in the daily analysis of the Institute for War Studies (ISW).
The Ukrainian General Staff announced that the 28th Motorized Rifle Regiment of the 18th CAA is currently operating in Pishtanovka (14 km east of the city of Kherson and 3 km from the Dnieper River). Additional elements of the 18th CAA and 7th Airborne Division are reportedly holding positions in nearby rear areas on the east coast, and the joint command of these units likely controls much of Russia's current response to Ukrainian ground operations in the East Bank.
The reported minefield incident suggests that the 18th CAA Command did not share relevant tactical details with the command of the 810th Marine Infantry Brigade, suggesting that the higher-level Russian commanders responsible for defending the east coast have not yet corrected this failure in coordination.
The Russian Dnieper force group is increasingly comprised of various elements of recently transferred and disintegrated units or new formations, which may contribute to this apparent lack of cohesive command structure. Elements of the 810th Marine Infantry Brigade and the 177th Marine Infantry Brigade (Caspian Flotilla) were transferred to Kherson, probably after suffering heavy defense losses against the Ukrainian counter-offensive in the western part of Zaporizhia Oblast in the summer of 2023.
Most of the 7th Division's combat units are currently still being defended in the western Zaporizhia region, although the 171st Airborne Assault Battalion of the 7th Airborne Force (97th Airborne Regiment) and the 104th Separate Panzer Battalion reportedly operate on the east coast of Kherson Oblast.
Russian General and Police Killed in Ukraine
Elements of the 49th (Southern Military District) are reported to have been operating in the direction of Kherson since the Ukrainian liberation of the city of Kherson in November 2022, but some Russian and Ukrainian sources say that since then the Russian command has redeployed elements of at least one of its brigades to the border area of the Donetsk and Zaporizhia regions.
On the east coast operate the newly created 70th Motorized Rifle Division and 22nd Army Corps (former Black Sea Fleet) of the 18th OAA.
Units of the 328th regiment of the newly created 104th Division are reportedly defending themselves in the Krynki area, while Ukrainian military observer Konstantin Mashovets said additional units of the 104th Division are currently being deployed in the direction of Kherson.
ISW had previously observed elements of the 80th Motorized Rifle Brigade (14th Army Corps, Northern Fleet) operating on the left bank in July 2023, and reports from November 28 of the death of the deputy commander of the 14th Army Corps, Major General Vladimir Zavadsky, in the direction of Kherson suggest that these elements may still be in the area.
Therefore, the Russian group of the Dnieper forces appears to consist of elements of the Black Sea Fleet, the Caspian Flotilla, the Southern Military District, the Central Military District, the Northern Fleet and the VDV. The other group of Russian forces in Ukraine largely corresponds to the Russian military districts, reinforced in some cases with VDV units, making the Dnieper force group a notable digression. The unnamed group of forces in charge of Russian defense in the western part of Zaporizhia Oblast consists mainly of elements of the 58th CAA (Southern Military District), reinforced with elements of several VDV regiments, but has not suffered any of the obvious coordination problems that the "Dnieper" Group of Forces has faced. The Russian military command should be able to form groups of forces interchangeably between formations of different military districts and all-army armies. The constant Russian problems with sharing information about the situation between units and the creation of common operational pictures and consistent command structures throughout Ukraine probably stimulated the creation of groups of forces composed of formations and units largely from the same military districts as mitigating actions.
The recent arrival of possibly degraded, undermanned and insufficiently trained Russian elements in the Kherson direction and their immediate engagement in defense operations has probably further complicated Russian efforts to create a coherent command structure for the disparate elements of the Dnieper force group.
The Russian military command appointed Colonel General Mikhail Teplinsky as commander of the Russian Dnieper force group on October 29, 2023, and one of Teplinsky's main goals is likely to create a more unified command of the group.
However, the Russian military command is unlikely to solve the problems with the command of the Dnieper Group of Forces in the short term, and the continuation of Ukrainian ground operations on the left bank is likely to complicate these efforts only. It is not yet clear whether the command and management challenges facing Russian forces in Kherson will produce noticeable effects on the battlefield.
Russian forces carried out a series of drone and missile strikes against Ukraine on the night of November 28-29. Ukrainian military sources reported on November 29 that Russian forces fired three Kh-59 missiles, aimed mainly at the city of Khmelnytsky, and 21 Shahed-131/- 136 drones at targets in Ukraine.
Ukrainian air defenses destroyed two of the three Kh-59s and all Shahed drones over Odessa, Nikolaev, Dnipropetrovsk, Kiev, Kherson, Zaporizhia and Khmelnytsky regions. The command of the Ukrainian Air Force said that the third Kh-59 missile has not reached its target.
Russian authorities plan to extend criminal responsibility for crimes against the law on military service to participants in volunteer formations, a measure that will affect many irregular military formations and personnel on which the Russian army relies for manpower in Ukraine. Russian media reported on November 29 that the Russian State Duma has adopted at first reading a bill to extend criminal responsibility for crimes against regular military service to volunteers. Currently, Russian volunteers are exempt from existing legislation, according to which Russian conscripts, contract servicemen and reservists are responsible for crimes committed while performing combat tasks.
The new bill empowers Russian military courts to try volunteer soldiers for selected crimes, including desertion, failure to obey an order, resistance or violent acts against a superior, unauthorized leaving of a place of service, evasion of duties by simulating illness, and willful or accidental destruction, damage or loss of military property. Earlier, Russian senators called for the introduction of criminal sanctions for volunteers for "improper performance of their contractual obligations" and desertion.
This legislation could affect the Kremlin's ongoing volunteer recruitment efforts if the threat of criminal liability outweighs incentives for voluntary service such as high salaries and fringe social benefits.
Russian officials have proposed laws that would limit the actions of foreign nationals in Russia, likely to support ongoing efforts to force migrants into Russian military service. Deputies of the Russian Duma Alexei Zhuravlev, Mikhail Matveev and Dmitry Kuznetsov proposed a bill that would consider migration violations an aggravating circumstance in a criminal offense.
They cited data that the head of the Russian Investigative Committee, Alexander Bastrikin, published on September 25, according to which the number of serious crimes committed by foreign citizens in Russia increased by 32% from 2022 to 2023.
Kremlin news channel TASS reported on November 28 that the Russian Interior Ministry (MVD) has proposed a bill that requires all foreigners entering Russia to sign a "loyalty agreement" prohibiting them from discrediting Russian domestic and foreign policy, denying Russian family values or "disregarding the diversity of regional and ethno-cultural ways of life" in Russia, among other restrictions.
The proposed measures likely aim to increase the ability of Russian law enforcement agencies to investigate and arrest migrants with foreign citizenship as part of efforts to force them into Russian military service. Russian authorities are also continuing their efforts to force migrants with Russian citizenship into the Russian army, threatening to revoke their citizenship and forcibly issuing them war summonses.
The NATO-Ukraine Council met for the first time at the level of foreign minister on November 29 and discussed steps to increase the production of weapons and ammunition. NATO said it was developing a roadmap for full Ukrainian interoperability with NATO and reaffirmed its support for Ukraine's democratic and security sector reforms "on its way to future NATO membership." Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the council had discussed increasing the production of weapons and ammunition and noted on the sidelines that The European Union (EU) has provided Ukraine with 300,000 rounds of the promised 1 million.
Poland is reportedly considering sending military advisers to Finland in response to Russia's ongoing attempts to artificially create a migrant crisis on the Finnish-Russian border as part of some Russian hybrid warfare tactics aimed at destabilizing NATO and the EU. Polish Secretary of State and head of Poland's National Security Bureau, Jacek Siwiiera, said on November 28 that during Finnish President Sauli Niinistö's official visit to Poland, Niinistö had asked for "allied support" against the hybrid Russian attack on the Finnish border.
Siwiiera said Poland intended to respond to the request by sending a team of military advisers to Finland to provide "on-the-ground knowledge on border security" and other unspecified operational support.
Finnish authorities announced on Nov. 28 that the country would close the last open border crossing at midnight on Nov. 30 until at least Dec. 13, following Russia's artificial creation of a migrant crisis at the Finnish border that began on Nov. 18. Russian sources, including Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov and a prominent blogger linked to the Kremlin, reacted sharply to Sivierra's announcement and said it was "excessive" and aimed at preparing Finland for a confrontation against Russia in the Arctic.
The Russian Foreign Ministry (MFA) officially announced that Russia will terminate the nuclear arms reduction pact with Japan on November 28. The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the bilateral agreement with Japan on cooperation in the reduction of nuclear weapons, originally signed in 1993, will be terminated on May 21, 2024, six months after the official notification by Russia of termination. The Kremlin news channel TASS reported on November 9 that Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin had signed an order approving the termination of the bilateral agreement with Japan by Russia.
The Japan Times reported that the agreement allows Japan to support the decommissioning of weapons, including Russian nuclear submarines. The Russian Foreign Ministry says Russia is withdrawing from the agreement amid "the overtly anti-Russian policies of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kushida's administration," including Japanese sanctions against Russia and supposedly growing Japanese military activity near the Japanese-Russian border. The Japan Times also noted that Russia has withdrawn from several other bilateral talks and initiatives following the imposition of Japanese sanctions against Russia following Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Adam Kadyrov, the younger son of the head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, is reportedly going to "supervise" the newly formed Sheikh Mansour volunteer battalion in a new unspecified position, possibly further indicating Ramzan Kadyrov's desire for Adam to succeed him at the helm of Chechnya. Magomed Daudov, a member of the Chechen Republic's parliament, said on Nov. 29 that Adam would "supervise" the battalion, but provided no further information regarding Adam's official title, although the role may be ceremonial rather than combat or command, given Adam's age.
Daudov said Adam also received the star of the Sheikh Mansour battalion award. Ramzan Kadyrov has looked increasingly sympathetic to Adam in recent months, including Adam's appointment to a prominent but unspecified "important position" in the Chechen secret service.
The head of the Russian Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) and Duma lawmaker Leonid Slutsky proposed on November 28 a bill that would grant war correspondents the status of a "battle veteran" and related social benefits. Slutsky argues that war correspondents do "selfless work" in high-risk environments and therefore deserve the same social guarantees, such as payments in the event of injury or death and measures to support relatives that combat veterans receive.
The Russian Ministry of Digital Development and the Russian Union of Journalists earlier expressed support in July 2023 for measures that would grant war correspondents some kind of veteran status. ISW continues to appreciate that Russian ultranationalist figures likely support these measures to woo the community of Russian bloggers, and that the Kremlin could use such measures to exert more control.
St. Petersburg municipal lawmaker Valery Veremeychik reportedly sent an appeal to the Russian State Duma asking for the establishment of service limits for the mobilized personnel on November 28.
Veremeyczyk's appeal reportedly proposes limiting the period of partial mobilization for a mobilized citizen to one year from the issuance of a military subpoena to the person, and limiting the duration of service in partial mobilization to six months. Veremeychik's address to the Russian State Duma may be a response to the recent increase in protests among relatives of mobilized servicemen who are calling for the return of their loved ones.
ISW recently noticed a report that the Kremlin had instructed Russian regional authorities to prevent relatives of the mobilized staff from protesting by paying them.
Russia's 1st Fan Volunteer Reconnaissance and Assault Brigade "Hispaniola" recruits women in assault units and other combat roles. Russian opposition newspaper Vazhnye Istorii reported on November 28 that the 1st Volunteer Intelligence and Assault Brigade Spaniola, allegedly subordinate to the Kremlin-linked private military company Redoubt, had begun advertising recruiting women for combat roles such as assault personnel, communications operators, drone operators and electronic warfare operators. ISW previously commented that Redout's Borz battalion began advertising recruiting women for combat roles in October 2023.
The Russian Navy reportedly received a new submarine for its Pacific Fleet on November 29. Kremlin news outlet RT reported that St. Petersburg-based Russian shipbuilder Admiralty Shipyards has transferred a new multipurpose diesel-electric submarine Project 636.3 "Mozhaysk" to the Russian Navy.
The Mozhaysk submarine is reportedly the fifth submarine of six submarines destined for the Pacific Fleet. The Kremlin news channel TASS reported that Russian shipbuilder Sevmash Enterprise delivered the Yasem-M-class Yasem-M-class nuclear submarine of Project 885M Arkhangelsk to the Russian Navy for testing on November 29. Arkhangelsk is reportedly one of six Project 885M submarines that Sevmash is building.
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