The United Kingdom (UK) Ministry of Defense (MoD) assessed on November 18 that neither side has achieved any substantial progress in the Kupyansk and Avdiivka directions, or in east (left) bank Kherson Oblast — where the most intense battles are ongoing.
The UK MoD added that there are fewer immediate prospects of major changes on the frontlines as colder winter weather begins to set in. Ukrainian military officials anticipate that Russia will launch a third wave of assaults on Avdiivka. Freezing weather conditions during the winter will likely prompt the resumption of more active combat operations, and ongoing rainy weather is unlikely to halt Ukrainian or Russian attacks.
Russian forces conducted another series of drone strikes primarily targeting Kyiv, Poltava, and Cherkasy oblasts on the night of November 18 to 19. The Ukrainian Air Force reported on November 19 that Ukrainian air defenses destroyed 15 of the 20 Russian Shahed-131/-136 drones. Ukrainian Air Force Spokesperson Colonel Yuriy Ihnat stated the strike series did not result in any casualties or critical damages and that this was an “excellent result.” The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that Russian forces struck Ukrainian ammunition depots in Kirovohrad City, Kirovohrad Oblast and Olshanytsya, Kyiv Oblast and a fuel storage facility at the Kanatove airfield, Kirovohrad Oblast.
The timeline for implementing these plans can be clearly established: It is defined by the time that the Russian armed forces will need for their reconstitution, meaning six to ten years after the end of high-intensity fighting in Ukraine.
NATO must complete its own repositioning at least one year before Russia reaches war capability. This would offer the Kremlin the chance to recognize in time that the Russian window of opportunity for a successful attack on NATO has not opened. Given the Russian time of reconstitution, NATO must therefore reach war capability within five to nine years to be able to deter Russia from going to war.
Any troops or systems that NATO countries deploy only a short time before Russia’s reconstitution is achieved will not impact Russia’s considerations. Russia would underestimate NATO’s combat readiness and could be tempted to start a war.
The worst-case scenario is an escalating war in at least three far-flung theaters, fought by a thinly stretched U.S. military alongside ill-equipped allies that are mostly unable to defend themselves against large industrial powers with the resolve, resources, and ruthlessness to sustain a long conflict. Waging this fight would require a scale of national unity, resource mobilization, and willingness to sacrifice that Americans and their allies have not seen in generations.
The United States has fought multifront wars before. But in past conflicts, it was always able to outproduce its opponents. That’s no longer the case: China’s navy is already bigger than the United States’ in terms of sheer number of ships, and it’s growing by the equivalent of the entire French Navy (about 130 vessels, according to the French naval chief of staff) every four years. By comparison, the U.S. Navy plans an expansion by 75 ships over the next decade.
A related disadvantage is money. In past conflicts, Washington could easily outspend adversaries. During World War II, the U.S. national debt-to-GDP ratio almost doubled, from 61 percent of GDP to 113 percent. By contrast, the United States would enter a conflict today with debt already in excess of 100 percent of GDP.
Assuming a rate of expansion similar to that of World War II, it’s not unreasonable to expect that the debt could swell to 200 percent of GDP or higher. As the Congressional Budget Office and other sources have noted, debt loads on that scale would risk catastrophic consequences for the U.S. economy and financial system.
A global conflict would bring on other perils. Two U.S. rivals—Russia and Iran—are major oil producers. One recent report found that a prolonged closure of the Hormuz Strait amid a broader Middle Eastern conflict could push oil prices beyond $100 per barrel, substantially increasing inflationary pressures. China is a major holder of U.S. debt, and a sustained sell-off by Beijing could drive up yields in U.S. bonds and place further strains on the economy. It’s reasonable to assume that Americans would face shortages in everything from electronics to home-building materials.
All of that pales alongside the human costs that the United States could suffer in a global conflict. Large numbers of U.S. service members would likely die. Some of the United States’ adversaries have conventional and nuclear capabilities that can reach the U.S. homeland; others have the ability to inspire or direct Hamas-style terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, which may be easier to carry out given the porous state of the U.S. southern border.
- Ukrainian and Russian forces are continuing combat operations in eastern and southern Ukraine, although the rainy weather will likely continue to slow the pace of combat operations until winter conditions fully set in.
- Russian forces conducted another series of drone strikes primarily targeting Kyiv, Poltava, and Cherkasy oblasts on the night of November 18 to 19.
- Ardent nationalist and former Russian officer Igor Girkin formally announced his intent to run in the 2024 Russian presidential elections despite his imprisonment.
- The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) may be censoring irregular Russian armed formations as part of its ongoing efforts to formalize Russia’s irregular forces and establish greater control over the Russian information space.
- Ukrainian officials announced on November 19 that Bohdan Yermokhin, a teenage Ukrainian whom Russian authorities forcibly deported from occupied Mariupol to Russia and attempted to conscript, returned to Ukraine.
- A prominent Kremlin-affiliated milblogger expressed anger on November 19 about Armenia’s decisions to distance itself from Russia against the backdrop of recent deteriorating Armenian-Russian relations.
- Russian forces conducted offensive operations along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line, near Bakhmut, near Avdiivka, west and southwest of Donetsk City, in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area, and in western Zaporizhia Oblast and reportedly advanced in some areas on November 19.
- Regional Russian officials continue to fear the emergence of localized protests in response to the Russian military’s refusal to return some mobilized personnel from the frontlines.
- Occupation authorities continue efforts to indoctrinate Ukrainian children in occupied Ukraine into Russian national and cultural identities.
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 offensive operations along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kreminna line on November 19 but did not make any confirmed advances. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces conducted unsuccessful attacks in the Kupyansk direction near Synkivka (9km northeast of Kupyansk) and Ivanivka (20km southeast of Kupyansk) and east of Petropavlivka (7km east of Kupyansk); and in the Lyman direction near Torske (15km west of Kreminna). ... Ukrainian military observer Kostyantyn Mashovets stated that elements of the Russian 164th Motorized Rifle Brigade (part of Russia’s newly formed 25th Combined Arms Army [CAA], reportedly under the Eastern Military District) unsuccessfully attacked near Dibrova (7km southwest of Kreminna) and elements of the 228th Motorized Rifle Regiment (90th Tank Division, 41st CAA, Central Military District) attacked near Torske. Mashovets stated that Russian forces are transferring elements of the Russian 7th Motorized Rifle Regiment (11th Army Corps [AC], Baltic Sea Fleet) and the 11th Tank Regiment (18th Motorized Rifle Division, 11th AC, Baltic Fleet) to positions near Pershotravneve in preparation for renewed offensive operations in the Kupyansk direction. Mashovets added that elements of the Russian 283rd Motorized Rifle Regiment (144th Motorized Rifle Division, 20th CAA, WMD) are operating near Holykove (10km north 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)
The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed that Ukrainian forces unsuccessfully attacked near Bakhmut near Klishchiivka (7km southwest of Bakhmut) on November 19.
Russian forces conducted offensive operations near Bakhmut but did not make any confirmed advances on November 19. A Russian news aggregator claimed that Russian forces made unspecified advances in Andriivka on November 18. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces unsuccessfully attacked near Klishchiivka and Andriivka (10km southwest of Bakhmut). Russian sources claimed on November 18 and 19 that Russian forces attacked in the direction of Bohdanivka (6km northwest of Bakhmut) and near Klishchiivka, where Ukrainian forces still hold position on the nearby heights.
Ukrainian forces counterattacked near Avdiivka and made a confirmed advance on November 19. Geolocated footage published on November 19 indicates that Ukrainian forces advanced near the railway southeast of Stepove (3km northwest of Avdiivka). … Russian forces conducted offensive operations near Avdiivka but did not make any confirmed gains on November 19….The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces unsuccessfully attacked south of Novokalynove (13km northeast of Avdiivka), east of Novobakhmutivka (9km northwest of Avdiivka), and near Sieverne (6km west of Avdiivka) and Avdiivka. Russian sources claimed on November 18 and 19 that Russian forces attacked near Pervomaiske (10km southwest of Avdiivka) and Sieverne; west of Krasnohorivka; south of the waste heap northwest of Avdiivka; east of the coke plant; towards Novokalynove; and from the industrial zone southeast of Avdiivka. Russian sources claimed on November 18 and 19 that fighting is ongoing near the industrial zone, the coke plant, and Stepove. Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces Spokesperson Colonel Oleksandr Shtupun stated on November 19 that the numbers of Russian deserters and personnel who refuse to conduct offensive operations are increasing, causing Russian commanders to use physical force and barrier troops to push Russian forces to fight. Shtupun stated that Russian forces have suffered heavy losses near Avdiivka and are forced to use mobilized personnel and penal recruits.