Russian troops have been conducting offensives on the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna frontline without any confirmed gains, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

  • In this direction, Russians aimed to occupy the rest of Luhansk Oblast and advance into the eastern part of Kharkiv and northern Donetsk regions.

The Kremlin may be using Putin’s military-focused announcement to convince this large group of voters that the Russian military supports Putin. Putin’s announcement may alternatively aim to demonstrate that he has the support of the Russian military to make any further discussion of the war in Ukraine during his campaign unnecessary.

The Kremlin probably tasked the Russian military with capturing Avdiivka, and possibly Kupiansk, before the March 2024 elections, and this exhibition of the military’s support for Putin’s candidacy is possibly meant as a hedging strategy should the Russian military be unable to meet these given deadlines.

Ukraine’s General Staff reported that Ukrainian troops repelled Russian attacks near Synkivka and Ivanivka (20km southwest of Kupiansk) and in the Lyman direction near Spirne (25km south of Kreminna) and Terny (17km west of Kreminna).

Map of the Kupyansk direction / Map: Institute for the Study of War and AEI’s Critical Threats Project

The institute cited a pro-Kremlin military blogger who said on December 8 that Russian forces advanced east of Petropavlivka (7km east of Kupyansk) and near Synkivka (9km east of Kupyansk) and Bilohorivka (13km south of Kreminna). However, US researchers found no visual evidence to support this claim. Another Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces are also attacking from Dibrova towards Yampolivka (17km west of Kreminna) and near the Serebryanske forest area (10km southwest of Kreminna).

Ukrainian Ground Forces Command Spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Volodymyr Fityo stated that Russian forces are also attacking near Vesele (31km south of Kreminna).

Ukrainian military observer Kostyantyn Mashovets stated that Russian forces intensified offensive operations in the Lyman direction. He also stated that elements of the Russian 283rd Motorized Rifle Regiment (144th Motorized Rifle Division, 20th Combined Arms Army, Western Military District) unsuccessfully attacked east of Terny; elements of the 228th Motorized Rifle Regiment (90th Guards Tank Division, Central Military District) unsuccessfully attacked between Dibrova (6km southwest of Kreminna) and Kuzmyne (3km southwest of Kreminna). Elements of the 7th Motorized Rifle Brigade unsuccessfully attacked Bilohorivka from the southeast.

Read also: Constant missile attacks and empty streets: how Kupiansk lives on the front line.

During November 3-26, 296 children were evacuated from the dangerous territory. Two more children are on the list in the Kurylivska community: born in 2012 and 2018. However, there are no children at their addresses. 

Kupiansk, a town with a pre-war population of about 30,000 people, was occupied from late February till September 2022. The city is a railway and road hub in eastern Ukraine between Kharkiv and Luhansk regions.