Центр оборонних стратегій

CDS Daily brief (28.12.22) | CDS comments on key events

Download in PDF

Snapshot of the day:

General, humanitarian:

  • President Zelensky addressed the parliament and the nation today with the annual presidential address.
  • Kharkiv sustained two Russian attacks. An infrastructure object was targeted.
  • The power shortage in the Ukrainian system increased due to Russia’s targeting of Ukraine’s gas infrastructure.
  • 950,000 refugees from Ukraine are currently in Poland.


  • There is no significant change in the operational situation. The Russian military lost 103,770 people KIA (+550) over the past day.
  • The Russian tactics have remained unchanged. It deploys combined military units in small groups on foot without the support of armored vehicles and tanks.
  • In Zaporizhzhia direction the enemy will be focused on maintaining the line Volnovakha – Rozivka – Kamianka – Chernihivka – Tokmak – Melitopol and the port of Berdyansk.
  • There are no cruise missile carriers at sea, likely due to weather conditions.


  • Russian crude oil was transported to the Greek Laconian Gulf in violation of the EU sanctions.
  • The UK has trained Ukrainian “Sea Kings” helicopter crews; the US is equipping eighteen HIMARS with the field artillery tactical data systems; Finish MPs propose to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
  • Ukraine calls to impose sanctions on “Rosatom” and other Russian energy sector entities because of the illegal trip of a top Russian official to the ZNPP.
  • Lavrov believes Russia is at war with the “collective West,” and Moscow plans to conquer more Ukrainian territories.
  • Ukraine’s NSDC Secretary defined realities for Russia to accept as the “peace plan.”
  • Canada, Sweden, Ukraine, and the UK request Iran to submit to binding arbitration of the dispute related to Iran’s downing of Flight PS752.
  • Russia continues to integrate newly annexed Ukrainian territories into its governance system.
Humanitarian aspect:

Since the beginning of the Russian invasion, 702 critical infrastructure objects, namely gas pipelines, electric substations, bridges, and other objects, have been affected, First Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Yevgeny Yenin said.

On Wednesday, December 28, the electricity shortage in the Ukrainian power system increased due to the shutdown of some units at power plants due to the shelling of the gas infrastructure by the Russian army, the press service of NPC “Ukrenergo” reported. Due to the warm weather conditions, however, there have been no limitations on night electricity consumption for four consecutive days.

Since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion, Ukraine managed to return 1,456 people from Russian captivity, President Zelensky said.

Currently, there are 950,000 refugees from Ukraine in Poland, and there are about 2.3 million Ukrainian citizens in Poland, Bartosz Marchuk, Deputy Chairman of the Polish Development Fund (PFR), wrote on Twitter.

Russian shelling

On the morning of December 28, the Russian forces launched a missile attack on Kharkiv‘s Slobidskiy district. As a result of the strike, a 48-year-old man received a shrapnel wound. The second attack was reported around 23:00. The city Mayor Ihor Terekhov said that an infrastructure object was targeted, most likely with an Iranian Shahed UAV.

In the village of Kizomys, Kherson Oblast, three people were injured due to shelling by the Russian military. Among them is a 14-year-old child with a mine-explosive injury, Deputy Head of the Office of the President Kyrylo Tymoshenko said.

The Russian forces continue shelling Ukrainian residential areas and civilian infrastructure. Over the past day, 8 Ukrainian Oblasts came under Russian fire. Eight civilians were injured due to the armed aggression of the Russian Federation during the past day, December 27, Deputy Head of the Office of the President Kyrylo Tymoshenko said.


The Ukrainian court passed the first sentence for a war crime committed in the temporarily occupied Crimea. Two former SBU employees who switched to the Russian side at the time of the occupation and then captured and tortured Euromaidan activist Oleksandr Kostenko were found guilty and convicted, the Office of the Crimean Prosecutor reported. They were sentenced in absentia to 9 and 10 years of imprisonment.

Occupied territories:

The Russian Federation continues to integrate the newly occupied areas of Ukraine into its governance system. Russian President Putin signed a decree today regulating taxation in the recently annexed territories. Another decree provided the Russian Cabinet with powers to regulate procurement in these areas for the transition period between 2023-2025. After that, it’s planned that government procurement in these Oblasts will be done under Russian Federal legislation. The Head of the Russian government, Mikhail Mishustin, also said that all educational degrees and qualifications awarded to the residents of the newly annexed areas by Ukraine would be recognized in the Russian Federation.

The Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation registered a branch of the Russian ruling party, “United Russia”, in Donetsk Oblast. Putin also signed a decree that approved simplified

procedures for leaving Ukrainian citizenship and acquiring Russian citizenship for the residents of the four Ukrainian oblasts. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said that this action indicates that Russia is not ready for negotiations and wants to continue the war to occupy Ukrainian territory.

Operational situation

(Please note that this section of the Brief is mainly on the previous day’s (December 27) developments)

It is the 308th day of the strategic air-ground offensive operation of the Russian Armed Forces against Ukraine (in the official terminology of the Russian Federation – “operation to protect Donbas”). Over the past 24 hours, the Russian military launched a missile strike. It fired 33 MLRS rounds, particularly at civilian objects in the city of Kherson and the territorial communities of Sumy and Kharkiv Oblast.

The Russian military continues offensive actions in the areas of Bukhmut and Avdiyivka and tries to improve its tactical position in the Lyman area. In other directions, the Russian forces defend previously occupied frontiers and concentrate their efforts on restraining the units of the Ukrainian Defense Forces.

The situation remains stable in the Volyn, Polissya, Siversk and Slobozhanskiy directions; no signs of the formation of the offensive groupings have been detected. The threat of Russian air and missile strikes on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure still persists.

By the decision of the Government of the Russian Federation, 16 training centers for the training of tactical officers are being deployed at military educational institutions.

In the temporarily occupied Sevastopol, the Russian occupation authorities intensified their agitation for contract military service with the Russian Armed Forces.

During the day, units of the missile and artillery troops of the Ukrainian Defense Forces hit one enemy command and control post, 7 areas of Russian manpower and military equipment concentration, 2 ammunition depots and an important Russian military target.

Kharkiv direction
  • Topoli – Siversk section: approximate length of combat line – 154 km, number of BTGs of the RF Armed Forces – 23-28, the average width of the combat area of one BTG – 5.5 km;
  • Deployed enemy BTGs: 26th, 153rd, and 197th tank regiments (TR), 245th motorized rifle regiment (MRR) of the 47th tank division (TD), 6th and 239th TRs, 228th MRR of the 90th TD, 25th and 138th separate motorized rifle brigades (SMRBr) of the 6th Combined Arms (CA) Army, 27th SMRBr of the 1st Tank Army, 252nd and 752nd MRRs of the 3rd MRD, 1st, 13th, and 12th TRs, 423rd MRR of the 4th TD, 201st military base, 15th, 21st, 30th SMRBrs of the 2nd CA Army, 35th, 55th and 74th SMRBrs of the 41st CA Army, 275th and 280th MRRs, 11th TR of the 18th MRD of the 11 Army Corps (AC), 7th MRR of the 11th AC, 80th SMRBr of the 14th AC, 76th Air assault division, 106th airborne division, 2nd, 3rd, 14th, 24th and 45th separate SOF brigades of the Airborne Forces, military units of the 1st AC of so-called DPR, 2nd and 4th SMRBrs of the 2nd AC, PMCs.

The Russian military is trying to stabilize its defenses in the Kreminna area. It is building up its defense system near Svatove. The Russian forces tried to counterattack near Ploshanka and Chervonopopivka, trying to protect the Svatove – Sievierodonetsk logistics route.

Donetsk direction
  • Siversk – Maryinka section: approximate length of the combat line – 144 km, the number of BTGs of the RF Armed Forces – 13-15, the average width of the combat area of one BTG – 9.6 km;
  • Deployed BTGs: 68th and 163rd tank regiments (TR), 102nd and 103rd motorized rifle regiments of the 150 motorized rifle division, 80th TR of the 90th tank division, 35th, 55th, and 74th separate motorized rifle brigades of the 41st Combined Arms Army, 51st and 31st separate airborne assault brigades, 61st separate marines brigade of the Joint Strategic Command “Northern Fleet,” 336th separate marines brigade of Baltic Fleet, 1st, 3rd, 5th, 15th, and 100th separate motorized rifle brigades, 9th and 11th separate motorized rifle regiment of the 1st Army Corps of the so-called DPR, 6th motorized rifle regiment of the 2nd Army Corps of the so-called LPR, PMCs.

The Russian military tries to break through the defense of the Ukrainian Joint Forces north of Bakhmut by attacking through Bakhmutske, Pidgorodnie and further south – through Andriivka and Klishchiivka. However, it has once again suffered losses and retreated.

The Russian tactics have remained unchanged for a long time. It deploys combined military units in small groups the size of a detachment to a company on foot without the support of armored vehicles and tanks. The lack of artillery ammunition significantly reduced the intensity of shelling and the volume of firing tasks they perform during the day. The main strike force of the assault squads is made up of mercenaries of the “Wagner” PMC from among former prisoners in the Russian Federation.

The enemy’s attempts to surround Avidiivka and seize control of Maryinka are ongoing.

The enemy’s actions indicate the intention to reach the administrative borders of Donetsk Oblast at any cost.

Zaporizhzhia direction
  • Maryinka – Vasylivka section: approximate length of the line of combat – 200 km, the number of BTGs of the RF Armed Forces – 17, the average width of the combat area of one BTG – 11.7 km;
  • Deployed BTGs: 36th separate motorized rifle brigade (SMRBr) of the 29th Combined Arms (CA) Army, 38th and 64th SMRBrs, 69th separate cover brigade of the 35th CA Army, 5th separate tank brigade, 135th, 429th, 503rd and 693rd motorized rifle regiments (MRR) of the 19th motorized rifle division (MRD) of the 58th CA Army, 70th, 71st and 291st MRRs of the 42nd MRD of the 58th CA Army, 136th SMRB of the 58 CA Army, 46th and 49th machine gun artillery regiments of the 18th machine gun artillery division of the 68th Army Corps (AC), 39th SMRB of the 68th AC, 83th separate airborne assault brigade, 40th and 155th separate marines brigades, 22nd separate SOF brigade, 1st AC of the so-called DPR, and 2nd AC of the so-called LPR, PMCs.

The Russian forces try to take control of Vuhledar and reach the borders of Donetsk Oblast. The 136th separate motorized rifle brigade was put into operation but suffered losses and could not complete its tasks.

In other areas of the front, the Russian military continues to prepare a defensive operation to protect the land corridor from the Russian Rostov Oblast to the occupied Crimea. The defensive line, being built, consists of battalion defense areas connected by tactical and fire communications and a logistics system. The deployment of a system of engineering barriers is underway. We assume that the primary efforts of the enemy will be focused on maintaining the line Volnovakha – Rozivka – Kamianka – Chernihivka – Tokmak – Melitopol and the port of Berdyansk.

Tavriysk direction
  • Vasylivka – Stanislav section: approximate length of the battle line – 296 km, the number of BTGs of the RF Armed Forces – 39, the average width of the combat area of one BTG – 7,5 km;
  • Deployed BTGs of: the 8th and 49th Combined Arms (CA) Armies; 11th, 103rd, 109th, and 127thrifle regiments of the mobilization reserve of the 1st Army Corps (AC); 35th and 36th CA Armies; 3rd AC; 90th tank division; the 22nd AC of the Coastal Forces; the 810th separate marines brigade of the Black Sea Fleet; the 7th and the 98th airborne division, and the 11th and 83rd separate airborne assault brigades of the Airborne Forces, 10th separate SOF brigade.

The Russian military is building up a defensive line beyond the reach of the Ukrainian artillery to maintain the land corridor to Crimea. It inflicts systematic fire strikes on the Defense Forces objects and critical infrastructure on the right bank of the Dnipro River controlled by Ukraine.

On December 26, as a result of fire damage inflicted on the Russian positions in the Chaplynka area, the [Russian] occupiers lost about 50 servicemen KIA.

Azov-Black Sea Maritime Operational Area:

The forces of the Russian Black Sea Fleet continue to stay ready to carry out two operational tasks against Ukraine:

  • to project force on the coast and the continental part of Ukraine by launching missile strikes from surface ships, submarines, coastal missile systems, and aircraft at targets in the coastal zone and deep into the territory of Ukraine and readiness for the naval amphibious landing to assist ground forces in the coastal direction
  • to control the northwestern part of the Black Sea by blocking Ukrainian ports and preventing the restoration of sea communications by carrying out attacks on ports and ships and concealed mine-laying.

The ultimate goal is to deprive Ukraine of access to the Black Sea and extend and maintain control over the captured territory and Ukraine’s coastal regions.

The Russian fleet keeps 3 surface ships at sea. Over the past day, many ships returned to their base points, possibly due to weather conditions. There are no Kalibr cruise missile carriers at sea.

In the Sea of Azov, on the approach to the Mariupol and Berdiansk seaports, 2 patrol boats are located with the purpose of blocking the Azov coast.

The movement intensity of the enemy military equipment by road and rail transport from Crimea to Kherson Oblast remains stable. On the southern outskirts of Dzhankoy, the number of military equipment has increased. It currently numbers more than 200 units ready to be redeployed in the direction of Kherson Oblast. Railway freight trains arrive on the territory of Kherson Oblast from the Crimean side, unloading military equipment and ammunition at the “Kalanchak”, “Brylivka” and “Novooleksiiivka” stations.

Russian aviation continues to fly from the Crimean airfields of Belbek and Hvardiyske over the northwestern part of the Black Sea.

On December 27, a sea mine was washed ashore near the village of Koblevo (Mykolaiv Oblast), which detonated when it hit the pier. There are no casualties. More than 40 sea mines have been discovered on the Black Sea coast since the Russian aggression against Ukraine began.

The Institute of Black Sea Strategic Studies and BlackSeaNews monitoring group recorded the first “group” attempt to violate the EU embargo on sea imports of Russian crude oil. On December 23-24, 2022, 3 tankers with Russian crude oil arrived at the Laconian Gulf (Greece):

  1. TRIDENT HOPE tanker, IMO: 9271377, left the Russian port of Taman on December 9 and indicated Singapore as the destination port but changed the destination port to Kalamata (Greece) when leaving the Sea of Marmara. The commercial manager and the ship owner are located in Piraeus (Greece).
  2. SOVEREIGN tanker, IMO: 9390939. It left the Russian port of Tuapse; when leaving, it indicated Kalamata (Greece) as the destination port. The commercial manager and the ship owner are located in Athens (Greece).
  3. ANAFI WARRIOR tanker, IMO: 9370848. It left the Russian port of Taman RU TAM TAMAN. When leaving, it indicated Kalamata (Greece) as the destination port. The commercial manager and the ship owner are located in Athens (Greece).

Thus, about 270,000 tons of Russian crude oil arrived in the territorial waters and exclusive economic zone of Greece, a member state of the EU. Considering that the Gulf of Laconia is known as a place for raided transshipment of oil from ship to ship, it can be assumed that this sanctioned Russian oil will be transshipped onto other tankers for delivery to EU countries. It is believed that the time of this violation was not chosen by chance – the Christmas and New Year holidays. Therefore, it can be assumed that during the first attempts, the reaction of the West to violations is tested. There are 3-5 other tankers of the same type going to Laconian Gulf.

Russian operational losses from 24.02 to 28.12.22

Personnel – almost 103,770 people (+550);

Tanks – 3,017 (+1)

Armored combat vehicles – 6,037 (+13);

Artillery systems – 1,999 (+1);

Multiple rocket launchers (MLRS) – 418 (0); Anti-aircraft warfare systems – 212 (0); Vehicles and fuel tanks – 4,660 (+8); Aircraft – 283 (0);

Helicopters – 267 (0);

UAV operational and tactical level – 1,707 (0); Intercepted cruise missiles – 653 (0);

Boats/ships – 16 (0).

Ukraine, general news

President Zelensky addressed the parliament and the nation with the annual presidential address. Some of the key points:

  • Ukraine cements the European Union and the free world with its struggle, and the Armed Forces of Ukraine are a guarantee that the time of empires will not return.
  • Zelensky promised to develop relations with the countries of Africa and the Global South for the sake of food security, as well as to make Ukraine a leader in the transformation of energy and green energy development.
  • Ukraine’s military-industrial complex will be one of the most progressive, and Russia will bear responsibility for war crimes.
  • Zelensky called the restoration of territorial integrity and the return of all captured Ukrainians the goal of Ukraine.
  • Regarding the rebuilding of Ukraine, Zelensky said that the reconstruction of Ukraine would become the largest economic project in Europe, and the restoration of “normal life”, in particular, would involve Donbas and Crimea.

In the 12 months of 2022, port operators in the seaports of Ukraine processed about 51 million tons of cargo. This is three times less than last year, Oleksiy Vostrikov, Acting Chairman of the Administration of Sea Ports of Ukraine, said in an interview with “Ports of Ukraine”. The only exception to the general picture is the Danube ports, where transshipment will increase many times compared to last year. In the port of Izmail, it more than doubled to 8.6 million tons; in Reni, it increased fivefold to 6.9 million tons; and in the port “Ust-Dunaisk” – by 12.2 times to 783,000 tons.

Ukraine continues prosecuting former government officials whose decisions enabled Russian aggression in Ukraine. The Kyiv Court of Appeal chose a preventive measure in the form of detention for the former Minister of Defense of Ukraine, Mykhailo Yezhel, who approved the “Kharkiv Agreements” that extended the stay of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation in

Crimea. The suspect is currently hiding from a pre-trial investigation outside of Ukraine and is wanted.

Banking sector profits decreased by more than three times compared to the last year, the National Bank Chairman, Andriy Pyshny, said. In January-November 2022, banks earned almost UAH 20 billion, although this figure reached UAH 66 billion last year. Banks, however, continue to lend and work even in the face of falling yields and energy terror, Pyshny stressed.

International diplomatic aspect

The US will equip eighteen HIMARS to be delivered as part of the Ukrainian Security Assistance Initiative with field artillery tactical data systems (IFATDS). Ten UAF crews have already been trained to operate “Sea Kings.” The UK was the first nation that donated three manned western- made aerial vehicles. Finish parliamentarians called to provide Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks, therefore, serving “Europe’s and the entire free world’s interest that the war ends with as quick a victory as possible for Ukraine.” “Through a joint European effort, we could contribute in a perhaps decisive way to Ukraine being able to maintain momentum in the war,” MPs wrote.

Ukraine called on the international community to sanction the Russian state corporation “Rosatom” and other key entities factors of nuclear energy Russia in connection with Serhii Kiriyenko, an official of the administration of the President of Russia, an illegal visit to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. “This step by the Kremlin also demonstrates its complete disregard for the demands of the three resolutions of the IAEA Board of Governors, that call upon the Russian Federation to immediately withdraw its military and other personnel from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant for the competent Ukrainian authorities to regain full control of the plant to ensure its safe and secure operation,” the MFA Statement reads.

“Two nuclear powers are competing for a country (Ukraine) with only conventional weapons at their disposal,” this line from Henry Kissinger’s article is used by Sergey Lavrov as proof of his thesis that the “collective West,” led by nuclear power – the United States, is at war with Russia. In his mind, it doesn’t contradict the casus belli for its aggressive war against Ukraine Russia is talking about. The Foreign Minister stated that Russia is going to conquer the remaining Ukrainian-controlled territories of the newly annexed Ukrainian oblasts. Lavrov has repeated that Moscow is not ruling out a “diplomatic solution,” but along with the acceptance of the illegally annexed territories, Kyiv must reduce its defensive capabilities.

the Russian minister signaled his unwillingness to stop the war and reconfirmed further aggressive plans against Ukraine. “We would like to end this war as soon as possible, which the West was preparing and, as a result, unleashed against us through Ukraine. Our priority is the lives of soldiers and civilians who remain in the combat zone. We are patient people. We will protect our compatriots, citizens, and lands that have been Russian for centuries based on these priorities,” Lavrov said.

The Kremlin’s spokesperson said no “peace plan” for Ukraine could exist if it does not consider the entry of four new regions into the Russian Federation. Ukraine’s Secretary of the National

Security and Defense Council replied by saying that “There are no realities in which “new territories within the Russian Federation” exist. It’s time for the Kremlin speakers to get out of the state of information delusion. The realities of the Russian Federation are shame, defeat, and collapse. Without considering these realities, no “peace plan” will take place.”

Canada, Sweden, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom have issued a joint statement requesting Iran to submit to binding arbitration of the dispute related to the downing of Flight PS752 by two surface-to-air missiles launched unlawfully and intentionally by members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Initially, Teheran rejected its responsibility, though it admitted it after a while, defining it as an “unforgivable mistake” and “a bitter accident.” A class action claim was filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, where lawyers of the families of Canadian victims were seeking compensation of at least CA$1.1 billion. Iran refused to compensate for the losses to Ukraine International Airlines and unilaterally set the compensation of $150,000 for each victim’s family. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice’s decision defined the incident as terrorism.

Russia, relevant news

The Russian Ministry of Education and Science recommends that universities include a course on the basics of military training in their curriculum starting September 1, 2023. “The “Fundamentals of Military Training” module was developed jointly with the Ministry of Defense and is aimed at developing primary skills and abilities to prepare students for military or other kinds of public service,” Russian media report.

Aeroflot CEO Sergei Aleksandrovsky said in an interview with RBC that at the moment, 13 out of 357 airlines’ aircraft have been arrested abroad due to international sanctions, most of them during maintenance or flights abroad.

Over the current year, the fall in Russian GDP is observed at 4.5 – 5%. This is not enough, but from the beginning of the fourth quarter [of 2022], signs of financial stress in the Russian economy are clearly visible, the Ukrainian First Deputy Prime Minister – the Minister of Economy Yuliya Svyridenko said. She noted that starting in October, Russia began making significant withdrawals from the National Welfare Fund to replenish the budget – at the level of 4-5 billion dollars per month.

Centre for Defence Strategies (CDS) is a Ukrainian security think tank. We operate since 2020 and are involved in security studies, defence policy research and advocacy. Currently all our activity is focused on stopping the ongoing war.

We publish this brief daily. If you would like to subscribe, please send us an email to cds.dailybrief@gmail.com

Please note, that we subscribe only verified persons and can decline or cancel the subscription at our own discretion

We are independent, non-government, non-partisan and non-profit organisation. More at www.defence.org.ua

Our Twitter (in English) – https://twitter.com/defence_centre

Our Facebook (in Ukrainian) – https://www.facebook.com/cds.UA

Our brief is for information only and we verify our information to the best possible extent