Russian dictator Vladimir Putin met with the Supervisory Board of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives and instructed the agency “to support federal subjects in developing the production of unmanned aircraft systems,” the Institute for the Study of War said in its latest update on Feb. 9.
On the same day, Russian Deputy Chair of the Security Council Dmitry Medvedev encouraged Russian production of modern tanks to counter Western assistance in Ukraine. DC-based think tank views both as a sign of continued measures by the Kremlin to prepare the defense-industrial base for a protracted war in Ukraine while avoiding wider economic mobilization.
According to its assessment, Russia’s main offensive efforts continue along the Svatove-Kreminna line as a part of the major offensive in Luhansk oblast. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces repelled a Russian attack in the areas near Stelmakhivka and Bilohorivka, Luhansk Oblast on Feb. 9.
“The commitment of a military district-level asset such as the TOS-1 to the Kreminna area suggests that the Russian MoD (Ministry of Defense) is prioritizing this axis,” the ISW said.
Earlier on Feb. 9, Russia’s Wagner mercenary group claimed to have stopped recruiting prisoners to fight alongside Russian forces in Ukraine. ISW said that Wagner Group “will likely continue to recruit from prisons, albeit in a much more limited capacity,” which indicates the decrease of Russia’s military reliance on the group.