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Ukraine Conflict – August 15th
Military and security developments
Russia: Economic downturn will continue to constrain business operating environment, according to new data
On 12 August, new data will show that Russia’s war in Ukraine set its economy back four years in terms of growth in Q1, with GDP set to decline to 2018 levels in Q2. International sanctions have significantly disrupted trade and industry in the country, with the Bank of Russia predicting that GDP will likely drop by at least 7 percent this year. Furthermore, a European ban on Russian oil and a consequent decline in Russian revenues will present new economic risks, undermining Moscow’s ability to weather sanctions. The prospect of recovery is highly unlikely until at least the second half of next year, though the impact of supply shocks may extend beyond this period.
- Russian forces continue to make very slow but steady progress in eastern Donetsk oblast, amid a general stagnation along all other frontlines. Numerous ground assaults to the northeast, east and south of Bakhmut continued over the last 24 hours. Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) forces have claimed further progress around Soledar, some 10km northeast of Bakhmut, and have also claimed that Ukrainian forces have now withdrawn from the village of Nahirne, a village on the T-1302 highway between Bakhmut and Lysychansk. However, these claims have not yet been confirmed.
- Furthermore, this morning, 12 August, the Ukrainian General Staff confirmed that Russian forces achieved “partial success” around Zaitseve, 10km north of Horlivka, 20km south of Bakhmut. Given previous precedents around admissions of such “partial success”, it is likely that Ukrainian forces have withdrawn from the town, a defensive position the Ukrainians have held since 2014-15. Russian and separatist forces also continued ground operations against other strongly fortified Ukrainian positions further south around Donetsk city, where Russian forces now claim to control over 90 percent of Pisky.
- Russian forces have also launched a number of assaults to the east of Siversk, where the Eastern Grouping of forces have made almost no progress since the fall of Lysychansk and the consolidation of the borders of Luhansk oblast. However, the Ukrainian General Staff reported that their forces successfully repelled these attacks. Notably, Luhansk Oblast Administration head Serhiy Haidai has stated that private military companies are now leading most Russian attacks on this axis. This is likely reflective of the degradation of Russia’s regular forces, but also the relative success Wagner Group PMCs have had further south in supporting Southern Grouping operations along the Bakhmut line. This is the only area that Russian forces have made any real progress in the last month, and so PMCs are likely assuming a growing role in leading ground assaults elsewhere in the Donbas in an attempt to replicate these relative successes.
- On the southern Kherson-Mykolaiv axis, offensive ground operations have remained limited on both sides, with both Russian and Ukrainian forces focusing on aerial reconnaissance, artillery duels and airstrikes. Notably, however, Oleksiy Gromov, the Ukrainian General Staff’s Main Operations Deputy Chief, claimed that Russian aircraft sorties have decreased following the attack on Saki airbase. Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces continue to step up attacks on Russian ground lines of communication and command and control centres across Kherson oblast.
- Over the last 24-48 hours, the General Staff and Operational Command South have claimed successful strikes against a significant number of unit command headquarters, including those of the 49th Combined Arms Army (CAA) in Chervonyi Mayak and the 76th Airborne Assault Division in Ischenka. While unconfirmed at this stage, Ukrainian forces have clearly been utilising HIMARS and guided artillery systems to great effect in recent weeks, with the continual reports indicating that Russian forces are not relocating command posts beyond HIMARS range.
- The need to maintain command posts much closer to the frontline is likely a reflection of Russia’s enduring command and control issues, which numerous purges of the High Command and deaths of senior officers have only worsened in recent months. This week, the commander of the DNR’s Vostok Battalion Alexander Khodakovsky highlighted how command and control issues are undermining Russia’s ability to counter the growing effectiveness of Ukrainian artillery. He stated that NATO’s approach to counterbattery fire, which the Ukrainian military has adopted, allows “any sergeant” to request fire in a matter of minutes. Meanwhile, the rigid Russian system requires fire approval from a senior officer, which Khodakovsky claims can take between thirty minutes and four hours. This ultimately reflects how Ukraine is addressing the artillery imbalance, as despite Russian forces’ overwhelming superiority in artillery numbers, inaccurate and rigid command procedures are preventing Russian counterbattery teams from responding rapidly enough to be effective.
- There have been numerous reports in recent days to support this assessment still further, very much underlining that such command and control issues remain an ongoing problem for the Russian Armed Forces. For example, Gromov has claimed that former Russian sergeants are now being promoted to platoon commanders upon completion of short officer training courses, due to the shortage of officers and the absence of a robust non-commissioned officer (NCO) corps.
- However, shortages are also apparent higher up the command structure due to purges and recriminations over continual military and naval failures. Gromov claims that between 30 and 40 percent of Russian generals and senior officers involved in planning the war have now been either suspended or are under active investigation due to “strategic failures”. This follows the repeated purges of operational commanders in Ukraine, with unconfirmed reports also now claiming that the Commander of the Black Sea Fleet Igor Osipov was replaced on 11 August by Vice Admiral Viktor Sokolov, former deputy commander of the Northern Fleet. Such dynamics will only worsen the shortage and diminishing experience of officers following the likely deaths of a large portion of Russia’s most experienced and motivated officers earlier in the war.
- Yesterday, 11 August, Ukrainian state-owned energy agency Energoatom accused Russian forces of shelling the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant again, while Moscow accused Kyiv of striking the plant with western-made guided missiles. The situation at the plant remains stable, however, with social media footage of large clouds of smoke coming from the plant caused by burning grass, rather than a more damaging fire inside the plant. Following this latest incident, the US and United Nations have called for a demilitarised zone to be established around the plant, with Washington demanding the plant be returned to Ukraine. It is almost certain that a demilitarised zone will not be established in the short term, given the advantages the firing positions at the plant provide Russian forces over the Ukrainian town of Nikopol. Further incidents are likely to continue in the weeks ahead, with the UN or International Atomic Energy Agency unlikely to facilitate a Russian withdrawal any time soon.
- Today, 12 August, two more grain carrying vessels have reportedly departed from Ukraine, with the exports so far proving to be incident free, despite the intensification of hostilities. This will continue to alleviate fears of a global food crisis and shortages in the short term, though prices will nevertheless remain heightened given the soaring inflation and export uncertainty. However, it remains our assessment that the threar of shipping disruptions and incidents in and around the Black Sea will continue to be very high, and is likely to be exacerbated by this week’s strikes on the Russia-occupied Crimea, which Kyiv has vowed to re-take. As such, should Ukrainian forces press on with their emboldened tactics and rhetoric, the likelihood of Russia retaliating and engineering incidents to disrupt grain shipments with the intention of blaming Ukraine and cutting it off from vital grain export revenues, will likely increase.
On 11 August, McDonalds announced that it has decided to “institute a phased plan to reopen some restaurants in Kyiv and western Ukraine”, following the halting of operations in May due to the invasion. The announcement marks a positive development and illustrates growing appetite among international firms to re-enter the Ukrainian market and restart business operations. As previously assessed, Kyiv remains a much more defensible city than in March, with newly constructed fortifications and improved air defences significantly diminishing the likelihood of any successful Russian effort to take the city in the next six months. The war remains highly attritional, and while Russia continues to make slow progress in the Donbas, and Ukraine potentially preparing for a counteroffensive around Kherson, major gains that would allow either side to open new fronts remain unlikely before the winter. As such, the resumption of ground operations in northern and western Ukraine remains highly unlikely at present. A protracted conflict over the winter, likely more reminiscent of the frozen conflict of 2015-2021, will therefore increase Ukrainian efforts to welcome western firms back and attract foreign direct investment in a bid to “build back better” in the absence of a peace agreement. Both Kyiv and western Ukraine are significantly safer than eastern and southern parts of Ukraine, as the discrepancy in the numbers and intensity of long-range strikes and air raids in recent months have demonstrated. However, the threat of long-range attacks will remain an enduring threat throughout the country for the foreseeable future, or at least until such a time as Ukraine obtains more advanced air defence systems from the West, which would mitigate the risk to an extent. Moscow’s enduring threat to target “decision-making centres” will mean political centres in major cities, including in central Kyiv and possible Lviv, will remain viable targets for punitive retaliation during periods of escalation. For further analysis of risks to a return of business operations to Kyiv and Western Ukraine identified earlier in the war, see Sibylline Situation Update Brief – 25 May 2022.
- The fallout from the attack on Saki airbase continues to dominate the military and political situation in Ukraine. Much uncertainty remains around the cause of the attack, with various official Russian sources and outlets briefing on conflicting theories, while Ukrainian sources are similarly claiming partisan or special forces orchestrated the raid. However, Kyiv continues to neither confirm nor deny involvement, which is highly likely an effort to conceal the capabilities that enabled such a raid so far behind enemy lines. Newly published Schemes satellite imagery from after the attack clearly shows at least seven aircraft destroyed at the airbase, likely representing over half of the Black Sea Fleet’s 43rd Naval Attack Aviation Regiment’s Su-24M/MRs and Su-30SM squadrons respectively. For further details on the attack, see Sibylline Daily Ukraine Update – 10-08-22.
- Following the Saki raid, Ukrainian forces have further demonstrated their long-range capabilities in the south, reinforcing the likelihood of an intensification of counteroffensive operations in the coming days and weeks. Ukrainian officials claimed airstrikes have destroyed a Russian ammunition depot in Novooleksiivka as well as the command post of the 217th Guards Airborne Regiment in Maksyma Horkoho. Both attacks are highly significant given that they are located just 25km northeast and northwest of the Crimean border respectively, some 100 and 170km behind the nearest frontline. This places the targets well beyond the range of HIMARS, and likely beyond the range of Tochka-U tactical ballistic missiles. This is therefore likely a demonstration of Ukraine’s growing long-range capabilities and the growing confidence of its Air Force, and if confirmed furthermore illustrates the failures of Russian air defences in the area. For further analysis of the implications of these developments on Ukrainian offensive operations moving forward, see the Forecast below.
- Elsewhere, Russian operations in the Donbas have made limited progress along the Bakhmut line. Russian and separatist Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) forces have attempted to push north around Novoluhanske and Kodema, with DNR forces claiming they are now conducting clearing operations in Hladosove, some 17km south of Bakhmut, indicating progress westwards towards the T-0513 highway. It is likely that Russian forces have furthermore made progress south of Soledar, with unconfirmed claims that DNR forces have reached the Bilokamyanskyi refractory plant, just 8km northeast of Bakhmut. Further south around Donetsk city, Russian forces continue to push along multiple axes of attack, and while no further progress has been confirmed by the Ukrainians, it is likely that incremental gains continue as Russian forces consolidate their control over Pisky and push towards Avdiivka.
- The Ukrainian General Staff have reported that Russian forces conducted a number of unsuccessful ground assaults north of Kharkiv city on 10 August. This axis has remained largely static over the last couple of months, but periodic Russian attacks do indicate that Moscow has not abandoned hope of taking Kharkiv in the future.
- At around 2300 (local time) on 10 August, explosions were reported at the Belarusian Zyabrivka airbase outside of Gomel, around 30km north of the Ukrainian border. The Russian Air Force (VKS) currently use the airbase to run sorties and launch missiles against northern Ukraine, and so there has been speculation that the explosions were a result of a Ukrainian attack, particularly following the Saki airbase attack in Crimea. However, this is unlikely. The Belarusian Ministry of Defence claimed this morning that it was a result of an accidental explosion during equipment testing, and current indicators suggest this is the most likely reason.
- As previously reported, Ukrainian intelligence in June claimed that Russian and Belarusian forces were intending to carry out false-flag attacks in Belarus in an attempt to justify Belarusian involvement in the war – and such false-flag operations remain a credible threat (please see Sibylline’s Situation Update Brief for further analysis of these risks and the unlikely involvement of Belarus in the war). However, the Belarusian statement largely precludes this as Minsk and Moscow would have placed immediate blame on Ukrainian forces if this was the case. A Ukrainian strike remains equally unlikely at this stage given that it would be the first time Ukrainian forces have openly struck Belarusian soil. This would risk increasing Belarusian involvement along the northern border at precisely the time when Kyiv is looking to increase the tempo of its offensive operations in the south.
- The UK announced on 10 August that it would double the number of multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) deliveries to Ukraine, providing a further three systems as well as accompanying M31A1 missile ammunition (capable of striking targets up to 80km away). The announcement came during a UK-hosted summit of northern NATO members, at which British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace committed the UK and its allies to begin establishing a plan to support Ukraine into 2023.
- On 10 August, Ukraine’s international creditors supported Kyiv’s request for a temporary pause on payments of nearly USD 20bn in international bonds. The freeze is set to last for two years. The development will ultimately prevent Ukraine from defaulting on its debt, especially as there is currently no indication that peace talks with Russia will resume anytime soon. Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal welcomed the development, stating that it will save Ukraine nearly USD 6 billion on payments. The development also comes amid the continuation of grain shipments out of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, which will also contribute the much-needed funds to Ukraine’s war-torn economy, with both developments ultimately assisting with Kyiv preventing a further economic downwards spiral.
- On 10 August, the Uzbek embassy in Moscow warned its citizens residing in Russia not to take part in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, threatening serious punishments upon their return to Uzbekistan. Earlier this week the Chairman of the Society of Central Asian Uzbeks of Perm Krai, Jahongir Jalolov, called on Uzbek nationals to form a new volunteer battalion, amid wider efforts by Moscow to recruit migrant workers from across Central Asia for the war effort. While Tashkent has threatened up to 10-year prison sentences for citizens engaging in ‘mercenary’ activity, the high signing bonuses and steady pay offered by the Russian military are likely to remain highly attractive for Central Asian migrants, particularly as the cost-of-living crisis deepens and pressure to send remittances back home increases. Meanwhile, in a related development, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated on 11 August that reports of North Korea offering 100,000 troops for the war in Ukraine were “fake”.
The Saki airbase raid, together with long-range Ukrainian attacks against southern Kherson oblast over the last 48 hours, have clearly set the scene for an intensification of military activity in the south. Indeed, there are growing indicators that Kyiv is framing the Saki airbase raid as the beginning of their long-anticipated counteroffensive, with two unnamed Ukrainian officials indicating as much to Politico on 10 August. Kyiv continues to avoid responsibility for the Saki attack, but on 10 August during his nightly address President Zelensky stated that the time has come when the Russians will deem it necessary to withdraw from Kherson. The emphasis on Kherson is potentially significant given that other Ukrainian officials had previously indicated that Ukrainian forces aimed to liberate the city by September. The intensification of Ukrainian strikes against Kherson and Crimea oblasts in recent days likely indicates preparations are accelerating for a Ukrainian counteroffensive along the Kherson-Mykolaiv border, though this remains to be seen. Ukrainian officials have furthermore reported that the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant bridge over the Dnieper has now been sufficiently damaged that Russian forces are unable to use it. While this has not been confirmed, Ukrainian forces have consistently targeted Russia’s ground lines of communication along this axis over the last month. This will severely undermine Russian efforts to reinforce its 49th Combined Arms Army currently defending Kherson. However, Russia has nevertheless redeployed significant quantities of troops and units to Kherson oblast in recent weeks, on both sides of the Dnieper. As such, it will remain a significant challenge for Ukrainian forces to not simply launch, but more importantly sustain, a counteroffensive along this axis if it hopes to push the Russians out of Kherson this year. Whether such a counteroffensive materialises or is successful remains to be seen, but military operations along this axis are nevertheless set to intensity throughout August and September.
Moldova: Inability to pay for gas will exacerbate energy insecurity, threatening industry supply. Officials announced on 11 August that the state-owned energy company Moldovagaz will be unable to make payments to Russia’s Gazprom for gas delivered in August. The country previously declared a state of emergency over rising gas prices in 2021. The latest development raises further questions over the nation’s energy security, particularly given its limited gas storage facilities. Gazprom previously threatened to cut off gas over payment issues. Despite efforts to source alternative gas supplies from European providers, Moldova remains almost totally reliant on Russian gas. As a result, Moldova’s inability to make payments will cause significant disruption to the country’s gas supplies in September. Any short-term disruption to gas supplies will worsen the cost-of-living crisis and impact businesses, which pro-Russian political forces will likely exploit to drive anti-government sentiment ahead of the winter.
Central Europe: Russian oil flows resume, reducing immediate energy security risks; long-term insecurity remains elevated. Russian oil flows returned to Hungary and Slovakia on 10 August after the former resolved an issue concerning the payment of transit costs. Crude oil deliveries were suspended on 4 August, worsening the energy crises in Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic in particular. Although the latest development will alleviate supply shortage fears in the short term, flows have not yet returned to the Czech Republic. This will prolong energy insecurity and drive the risk of operational disruption. Although resumed flows will partially reduce short-term energy security concerns, the reliance of Central Europe (especially Hungary) on Russian oil imports will ensure the risk of regional energy insecurity will persist as long as the war in Ukraine continues.
- The most significant development over the last 24 hours was a series of explosions at Saki airbase in occupied Crimea which seemingly inflicted serious damage to Russian Air Force (VKS) aircraft and facilities. The incident is one of the most significant against Russian-held territory in the conflict thus far, though it remains unclear what caused the explosions. Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the attack, while Russia’s defence ministry claimed an accidental detonation of aircraft munitions caused the explosions. Russian pundits have suggested it was an act of Ukrainian sabotage, rather than a long-range strike. Footage of the attack posted on social media clearly shows two large explosions in two separate areas simultaneously, making the theory of an accidental detonation extremely unlikely. The airbase, one of the principal sites from which VKS aircraft take off when running sorties over southern Ukraine, is located north of Sevastopol, some 124 miles (200km) south-east of the current frontline around Kherson. This places the airbase beyond the range of Ukrainian HIMARS, Uragan MLRS and other artillery systems, as well as Tochka-U tactical ballistic missiles. The only Ukrainian missile system likely to be capable of this range is the domestically produced Neptune anti-ship missile, which, like its Russian air-launched Kh-22 counterpart, also has a secondary ground-attack capability.
- Russian military commentators have speculated that longer-range munitions were used, such as the ATACMS missiles for the HIMARS system. However, there have been no indications that the US has supplied longer-range missiles to Ukraine, despite bipartisan support to do so in the US Congress (see Sibylline Daily Ukraine Update – 29-07-22). Nevertheless, sabotage is equally plausible given the simultaneous timing of two of the explosions, which could indicate a timed detonation. Indeed, the Washington Post reported this morning that an unnamed Ukrainian government official claimed the explosions were the work of Ukrainian special forces, without elaborating on the details of any such raid.
- Irrespective of whether the incident was caused by missile strikes or special forces, the attack is a highly embarrassing incident that exposes the failure of Russian air defences and the increasing vulnerability of military bases in Russian-claimed territory. Satellite imagery published by Scheme on the morning of the attack indicated that at least 12 Su-24s, 10 Su-30SMs and an Il-76 transport were parked without cover at the base. Unconfirmed social media footage appears to show a number of fighters destroyed at the base, while the Ukrainian General Staff claim that Russia lost nine aircraft. This indicates that the incident inflicted significant VKS losses, as well as potentially tacit acknowledgement by Kyiv of a Ukrainian attack. For further analysis on the implications and strategic forecast of the Saki attack, see our Forecast below.
- Elsewhere, Russian offensive operations in eastern Ukraine have remained largely on-trend over the last 24 hours. The focus remains on reconnaissance and ground attacks along the Bakhmut line and north-west of Donetsk city. This activity is continuing to achieve very slow but steady progress. The Ukrainian General Staff confirmed on 9 August that Russian forces had achieved ‘partial success’ during an advance towards Vershyna, located about seven miles (11km) south-east of Bakhmut. However, other attacks along the Bakhmut line have been repelled.
- Nevertheless, social media footage indicates that Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) and Russian forces are making slow but steady progress towards Soledar, a key target north-east of Bakhmut. Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) officials claimed on 9 August that the 6th Cossack Regiment gained control over the Knauf Gips Donbas gypsum factory, south-east of Bakhmut, though this has not been confirmed. DNR forces similarly claim to have made further unspecified progress west of Donetsk city, particularly around Pisky, though there is currently limited information to corroborate this.
- On the southern Kherson-Mykolaiv axis, the situation has remained broadly stable. Russian forces do not appear to have launched any ground attacks along this front over the last 24 hours, instead focusing on airstrikes and aerial reconnaissance. Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) claimed on 9 August that they had intercepted a call in which a Russian soldier disclosed that Russian forces operating in Kherson oblast do not currently have sufficient manpower to launch new offensive operations.
- The UK’s Defence Intelligence reported earlier on 10 August that Russia has likely established its 3rd Army Corps in Mulino, Nizhny Novgorod oblast (Western Military District). As previously reported, Ukrainian intelligence anticipated that the new corps would be formed by mid-August. Although Russian army corps normally consist of around 15-20,000 troops, units have been significantly undermanned throughout the ongoing conflict. This means that it is highly likely the corps will not be at full strength when (or if) it is deployed to Ukraine. Even if it is deployed, it will likely be of poor quality. Force generation efforts remain a priority for the Kremlin, with Kommersant reporting earlier this week that Russia’s federal subjects have now raised 40 volunteer battalions, including three volunteer detachments from St Petersburg. CNN published an investigation into Russian recruitment efforts among prisons. The state is allegedly offering lucrative pay and has also promised to release prisoners if they deploy to Ukraine.
Russia: Dismantling of foreign aircraft reflects impact of sanctions, but likely represents irretrievable losses for aircraft lessors. According to unnamed aviation sources, state-owned Russian airline Aeroflot has begun to dismantle its foreign made airliners for equipment that is no longer obtainable domestically due to Western sanctions. The stripping of passenger jets is driven by Russian attempts to ensure that at least two-thirds of the nation’s airliners remain operable until 2025. Aviation experts predict that the cannibalisation of aircraft could become routine as the impact of sanctions becomes more evident. Moscow is highly likely to seek alternative suppliers of aircraft equipment, but this will expose suppliers to secondary sanctions, particularly for Asian and Middle Eastern nations that have not supported sanctions. Aeroflot’s move furthermore indicates the extent to which Russia is breaching existing contracts with Western lessors, which will impact Irish firms most profoundly given they own two-thirds of leased commercial aircraft to Russia.
- In a notable statement in his nightly address, President Zelensky emphasised the need to liberate annexed Crimea, stating that the ‘Russian war against Ukraine […] must end with Crimea – its liberation’. Zelensky’s statements follow a string of explosions around a Russian airbase on the occupied peninsula, which are likely to have been Ukrainian attacks. Both developments underline the increasingly bold stance of Kyiv with regard to reclaiming all occupied territories. This will further diminish the likelihood of a negotiated settlement between Moscow and Kyiv, extending the war into the coming months. For further analysis on the escalating situation in Crimea and how these developments will impact the wider conflict, see our Forecast below.
Yesterday’s attack against Saki airbase has clearly set a new precedent. Zelensky’s statement that the war will end with the liberation of Crimea indicates that Ukraine’s resolve and capability to take the war to Russia is growing. Russian bases previously deemed beyond the reach of Ukrainian forces are now increasingly vulnerable to long-range strikes, as well as UAV and special forces operations. Indeed, Russian officials confirmed this morning that a fire broke out at an oil depot in the Russian town of Yeysk following reports of an explosion. The cause of the explosion remains unclear, though the timing and its location at the eastern end of the Sea of Azov is significant, particularly following the Ukrainian drone attack against the nearby Rostov-on-Don oil refinery in June. Ukrainian pressure around Crimea and the Sea of Azov is clearly increasing as Kyiv obtains more potent long-range capabilities and is increasingly willing to operate inside Russian territory. However, attacks against Russian territory will provide Moscow with doctrinal justification to escalate their commitment to the war, if it deems this as necessary. An intensification of attacks against Russian territory will thus risk justifying more overt mobilisation efforts or the declaration of a state of emergency along the border. As previously assessed, the strategically vital Crimea Bridge will remain the key vulnerability for Moscow in this regard, and the most likely trigger point for an escalation. The bridge, which connects occupied Crimea to mainland Russia over the Kerch Strait, is a highly strategic route that has played a central role in Russia’s ability to resupply its forces rapidly in southern Ukraine; its destruction will severely hamper Russian operations along the Kherson and the weakly-held Zaporizhzhia frontlines. Following Zelensky’s statement, Ukraine’s Major General Dmytro Marchenko stated on 10 August that the destruction of the Crimean Bridge is necessary in order to liberate Crimea. Given the bridge’s strategic (and political) importance to Moscow, any Ukrainian strike would trigger rapid punitive strikes against ‘decision-making centres’, possibly including central Kyiv. We assess that Moscow would perceive a strike against the bridge as necessitating a severe response to illustrate that a line has been crossed; disproportionate strikes against Kyiv are assessed to be the most likely response. As such, the bridge is a key flashpoint to watch in the coming days and weeks, especially as Ukraine’s confidence and capabilities continue to grow in the south.
- Over the last 24 hours, Russian forces have continued launching assaults across the frontlines, primarily concentrating on the south Bakhmut line and to the north and west of Donetsk city. However, Ukrainian forces have seemingly repulsed most of these attacks over the last 24 hours, with limited developments to report. Nevertheless, this morning Ukraine reported an intensification of artillery fire and ground attacks around Donetsk city.
- Further to the northwest, Russian forces also launched an unsuccessful attack northwest of Slovyansk on 8 August. This follows several weeks of limited offensive Russian activity as numerous units previously operating around Izyum and Slovyansk have seemingly redeployed to the southern axis. Meanwhile, the Kharkiv frontline has also remained relatively static, with operations largely limited to artillery duels and UAV reconnaissance. Nevertheless, Russian military bloggers have claimed that Ukrainian forces continue to build new brigades in Kharkiv oblast. They maintain that this indicates that Ukrainian forces are capable of conducting counterattacks along Russia’s extreme west and eastern flanks, near Kherson and Kharkiv, simultaneously. This remains to be seen, but Ukrainian forces did claim some notable progress to the west of Izyum last week.
- On the southern axis, military operations on both sides remained largely on trend over the last 24 hours. Russian forces continue to prioritise defensive operations along the Kherson-Mykolaiv border and attempts to undermine Ukrainian capability to launch renewed counterattacks. Ukrainian forces have furthermore continued HIMARS and guided artillery strikes against Russian positions and logistics hubs along and behind the frontline, with Kyiv claiming numerous successful strikes against ammunition depots.
- The Ukrainian Mayor of Melitopol Ivan Fedorov reported yesterday, 8 August, that Russian forces last week redeployed a significant portion of their air defence capability from Melitopol to Kherson. If true, this would indicate that Russia is continuing to build up its defensive capabilities still further along the Kherson-Mykolaiv front. This comes after their air defences have already been strengthened in the region in recent weeks – something which the continual HIMARS and guided artillery strikes, as well as Ukrainian aircraft sorties, indicate are currently not sufficient. A repositioning of air defences to the west will furthermore increase the vulnerability of Zaporizhzhia oblast to Ukrainian HIMARS strikes, and would indicate that the relatively thinly-held Zaporizhzhia frontline remains a lower priority for both sides at this stage.
- Yesterday, 8 August, the US announced another USD 1 bn package of additional military assistance to Ukraine, including HIMARS and 155mm artillery ammunition. Notably, the newest package will also include National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS), a US-Norwegian air defence system. This is the first time such weapons have been announced, with the first system set to arrive from Norway. While the provision of NASAMS will not remove the threat of Russian missile strikes, it will provide Ukraine with further advanced air defence capabilities, capable of interdicting Russian missiles over key population centres. In addition, the US has for the first time confirmed that it has provided Ukraine with anti-radiation missiles; air-to-surface missiles that home in on electronic transmissions given off by radar systems. While none of these developments will singlehandedly tip the military balance in Ukraine’s favour, it reflects the wider trend that as time goes by, the Ukrainian Armed Forces are steadily obtaining full spectrum conventional capabilities.
- On 8 August, the Russia-installed administration in occupied Zaporizhzhia oblast signed a decree in support of a referendum on joining Russia. The move follows President Zelensky’s warnings over the weekend that any potential future negotiations with Moscow will be off the table if Russia stages referendums in the occupied areas of Ukraine. Yesterday, the Kremlin also stated that there is currently no basis for a meeting between the Russian and Ukrainian presidents, reaffirming our original assessment that peace talks will remain stalled for the foreseeable future, with Moscow seeking to annex the captured Ukrainian territory.
- Yesterday, 8 August, a Vkontakte post allegedly citing the head of Russia’s military garrison at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant Major General Valery Vasilev began circulating. The post claimed that Vasilev had mined the plant, and that it would be “either Russian land or scorched desert”. The implied threat to destroy the nuclear plant has not been confirmed, but will regardless contribute to wider efforts to raise Western nuclear anxieties and undermine Western long-term support for Ukrainian counteroffensives. The Russian Ministry of Defence has denied the report, claiming the Vasilev was in Uzbekistan when he allegedly made the statement.
- The situation at Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant currently remains stable, with no indications of any unusual radiation levels. However, the President of Ukraine’s Energoatom state energy agency warned on 8 August that following the attacks over the weekend, the plant is currently only connected to the Ukrainian energy grid by one transmission line. In the event of further damage, this would risk the plant going into what he termed “blackout mode”, which could jeopardise efforts to keep nuclear fuel in a safe condition. There are numerous contingency and back-up systems to prevent a meltdown in such an eventuality, but the situation highlights the worsening safety conditions at the plant. A major nuclear disaster still remains highly unlikely, but Russian militarisation of the facility has clearly increased the threat.
- On 9 August, Russia announced it will be suspending US on-site inspections under the New START strategic arms reduction treaty. The Russia Foreign Ministry justified the move due to Western sanctions complicating Russian inspection of US weapons and growing coronavirus infections in the US. New START is the last remaining arms reduction treaty between the US and Russia, capping the number of nuclear warheads in their respective stockpiles to 1,550. The move comes after the US announcement this morning of a new USD 1 bn aid package for Ukraine. Considering Moscow has not yet found an effective way to counter Western military and financial assistance to Ukraine, nuclear threats and demonstrations of advanced capability, including the soon-to-be-deployed Tsirkon hypersonic missile, are increasingly likely in the coming months. However, this is unlikely to seriously alter the military or political balance in Ukraine, though weakening arms limitation treaties will only reinforce growing instability in the US-Russian relationship and the global nuclear balance.
- For more strategic analysis and escalation outcomes to the current conflict in Ukraine, see our Scenario Planning and Projections report.
Yesterday, 8 August, Ukraine’s Ambassador to Turkey, Vasyl Bodnar, reported that Baykar, the Turkish producer of the Bayraktar drone, will build a drone factory in Ukraine. A plot of land has allegedly already been purchased for the site, though it remains unclear when operations will start. In response, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov this morning stated that the plant would “immediately fall under demilitarisation”, implying that Russian forces would not attack the factory – something Moscow has not openly extended to any other foreign site in Ukraine. This is the clearest indicator yet of the strengthening relations between Russia and Turkey following President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s meeting with President Putin on 5 August. At the Sochi meeting last week, both leaders pledged to improve economic cooperation as Moscow courts Turkey to help it circumvent sanctions. While the details of the meetings remain limited, Erdogan did state that there have been “serious developments” relating to Turkish banks’ adoption of the Russian Mir payment system. Erdogan claims this is designed to help Russian tourists, but this could potentially facilitate the bypassing of financial sanctions. Following the meeting, numerous unnamed EU officials cited by the Financial Times stated that Western countries are now considering secondary sanctions on Turkey if Ankara assists Moscow in avoiding sanctions. However, this is not EU policy at present, and such sanctions would likely face significant opposition within the bloc due to their respective commercial exposure in the country. Nevertheless, the Kremlin’s apparent pledge not to target Baykar’s factory is the latest indication that myriad dynamics are likely at play behind the scenes as Turkey utilises its strategic location to tread a careful line as mediator and power broker between Ukraine, Russia and NATO.
- Pro-Russia groups’ activity during this monitoring period focused on launching disruptive attacks against industries and/or entities providing support to the Ukrainian government. With the conflict expected to persist for the foreseeable future, it is highly likely that further pro-Russia disruptive cyber attacks will be launched against Western governments providing military or economic support to Kyiv (such as Germany or the US). Russian state-linked threat actors and/or pro-Moscow hacktivist groups (such as Killnet or Heawsnet) will likely present the most notable threats to these entities.
- Publicly disclosed cyber campaigns launched by pro-Ukraine cyber threat actors (such as Anonymous) were limited during this monitoring period. However, Anonymous’ listing of Western firms with connections to Russian business people will heighten the risk of pro-Kyiv cyber campaigns targeting these companies and/or associated individuals in the coming weeks. Any such activity will reflect political grievances with these entities’ alleged support of the Russian government. These organisations face operational threats by way of cyber attacks, including DDoS and/or data leaks.
- Over the 5-7 August weekend Russian offensive operations remained focused on pushing west along the Bakhmut line and attempts to break through north and west of Donetsk city, with little confirmed success. The Southern Grouping of Russian forces, which include complements of Wagner Group PMC, launched numerous assaults against Ukrainian positions to the northeast, east and south of Bakhmut. Russian sources have claimed their forces have reached the Knauf Gips Donbas gypsum factory on the south-eastern outskirts of Soledar, around 8km northeast of Bakhmut, but this has not yet been confirmed. Similarly, OSINT footage published by Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) forces indicates the separatists have likely captured Travneve, 5km west of Novoluhanske. While unconfirmed, this aligns with the slow but steady progress the Southern Grouping has made in recent weeks, with a major breakthrough remaining unlikely as entrenched Ukrainian positions slow the Russian advance.
- Russian efforts to break through north and west of Donetsk city have also seen some limited progress over the weekend. The Ukrainian General Staff reported numerous failed assaults around Avdiivka, Krasnohorivka and Maryinka, all northwest of Donetsk. However, OSINT footage published over the weekend indicates that DNR and Russian forces are now consolidating control over central Pisky (5km northwest of Donetsk, near the international airport). Said forces are also likely advancing into the eastern outskirts of Maryinka, 18km west of Donetsk. As previously assessed, many of these positions have been held by Ukrainian forces since 2014-15, and so any progress along this axis remains notable, but is likely achieved at high cost given the strength of Ukrainian defences along the line of contact.
- Elsewhere in eastern Ukraine, Russian forces launched a number of localised assaults around Izyum and Siversk, but made no confirmed progress. Further north the Kharkiv axis remains largely static. Russian forces are still largely on the defensive north of Kharkiv, with operations likely focused on preventing Ukrainian forces from setting conditions for further counteroffensives in this direction, while consolidating their own positions to allow for fresh assaults in the coming weeks.
- Along the southern Kherson-Mykolaiv axis, Russian forces have continued efforts to improve their tactical positioning and undermine Ukraine’s capability to launch a counteroffensive in the area. Operations have remained particularly intense around Ukraine’s bridgehead on the eastern bank of the Inhulets River, with Spetsnaz and other forces launching unsuccessful attacks over the weekend.
- Russian forces are furthermore stepping up efforts to improve defences across Kherson oblast in preparation for any potential Ukrainian counteroffensive. Ukrainian regional officials have reported that the Russians are mining critical infrastructure across the region, deploying air defences in residential areas of Kherson city, and digging trenches in forests across the oblast. Notably, advisor to the Kherson Oblast Administration Serhiy Khlan claimed that the Russians are deliberately allowing civilians to use pontoon bridges and ferries, as well as the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant bridge, in order to discourage Ukrainian strikes against Russian crossing points across the Dnieper. Kyiv claimed to have struck the Antonivsky and Kakhov bridges again early this morning, but crippling strikes against the Kakhovka bridge are comparatively unlikely given that this would risk compromising the dam.
- Reflecting the growing importance of the dam crossing, Russian forces are continuing to build reserves and equipment in north-eastern Kherson oblast due to the availability of this crossing, rather than in north-western Kherson oblast, where Russian forces are currently most vulnerable. Current estimates of Russian force disposition put around 22 Battalion Tactical Groups (BTGs) west of the Dnieper, while 27 BTGs are estimated to be in eastern Kherson oblast, behind the frontlines. This may indicate that Russian forces are using the region east of the Dnieper as a reserve area. However, it may also indicate preparations for an offensive south of Kryvhi Rih or around Kherson, which could be designed to seize the initiative from Ukraine and pre-emptively thwart any Ukrainian counteroffensive. However, Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command reported that as of 5 August the composition of Russian troops had not changed along this frontline yet.
- British Defence Intelligence reported on 8 August that Russian forces are highly likely deploying anti-personnel mines along its defensive lines in the Donbas. Designed to deter freedom of movement in key areas, Russia is likely deploying PFM-1 and PFM-1S scatterable anti-personnel mines, commonly known as ‘butterfly mines’. The Soviet Armed Forces utilised these weapons extensively during the Soviet-Afghan War, where they allegedly maimed a high number of children who mistook the weapons for toys. This is the latest reminder that extensive anti-personnel mining will mean large swathes of eastern, southern and northern Ukraine will remain highly dangerous for years to come. Demining efforts have made progress in northern Kyiv oblast following the Russian withdrawal, but the dangers to civilians will remain high for the foreseeable future.
- In his nightly address on 7 August, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that any potential future negotiations with Moscow will be off the table if Russia stages “referendums” in the occupied areas of Ukraine. Moreover, Zelensky warned that anyone facilitating these votes will be “held accountable”. The warnings come ahead of the anticipated referendums, which could be held in September and could result in Russia formally annexing the occupied territories in southern and eastern Ukraine. Although it is unclear whether Russia will be able to proceed with the pseudo-referendums next month, especially in Kherson, due to the threat of a Ukrainian counteroffensive and enduring partisan resistance, Moscow will inevitably attempt to formally cement its presence in the occupied lands both politically and militarily.
- On 5 August, the director of Amnesty International’s Ukraine office resigned, in protest at the organisation’s latest report which found that Ukraine’s military tactics endanger civilian populations. The report drew sharp criticism from Kyiv, and accusations that it is facilitating Russian propaganda around Ukrainian war crimes. Meanwhile, Moscow unsurprisingly praised the report, with pro-Kremlin television channels propagating that even “western analysts” are beginning to acknowledge that “the criminal Kyiv regime has no sympathy for its own population”. Despite the widespread criticism, the organisation stood by its findings, which will inevitably only further reinforce the narrative inside Russia that the so-called “special military operation” is justified. The latest public opinion surveys inside Russia suggest that at least 77 percent of Russians currently support the war, with the Kremlin highly likely to exploit the report to further boost support against the backdrop of falling living standards and a looming socio-economic crisis.
Over the weekend both Russia and Ukraine accused one another of shelling the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, with both sides claiming that such activity threatens a nuclear catastrophe at Europe’s largest nuclear plant. Kyiv has claimed that Russian rockets hit the spent nuclear fuel rod storage site and damaged the radiation monitoring sensor, while Moscow has claimed that Ukrainian BM-227 Uragan MLRS rockets struck the site, causing the same reported damage. We have previously assessed that Russia is purposefully stationing artillery and storing equipment in the site to discourage Ukrainian attacks, which would provide it with the opportunity to accuse Kyiv of trying to trigger a nuclear disaster if they do attack these positions. However, we cannot confirm which side is responsible for the incident, which regardless of responsibility reinforces the low-probability, high-impact risk of a major nuclear accident. President Zelensky has called for Russia to be designated a terrorist state in response, as well as the sanctioning of Russia’s nuclear industry. While there is growing calls for a terrorist designation from many Ukrainian allies, the sanctioning of Russia’s nuclear industry would have serious implications on the wider European nuclear sector, meaning support for such sanctions is highly unlikely at present during the continent’s worst energy crisis in decades. Europe’s reliance on Russian oil and gas is well known, but the European nuclear industry remains arguably even more critically reliant upon Russia, with shipments of Russian nuclear fuel vital to around two-fifths of electricity generation across the former Eastern Bloc. Rosatom is the world’s largest exporter of nuclear reactors and retains a near-monopoly on the fuel said reactors use to generate power. This severely complicates diversification options for the most vulnerable states – namely the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia and Finland. The European Union has already agreed to a 15 percent reduction in gas consumption to ease the winter crisis, but electricity generation for some 100 m Europeans remains unavoidably reliant upon Russian-supplied nuclear fuel. Since the 24 February invasion, the few sanctioned Russian flights into European airspace have been shipments of critical nuclear fuel, which due to reactor designs and safety regulations cannot simply be replaced with alternatives. As such, any move to sanction Russia’s vast nuclear industry would increase Russian leverage over the most vulnerable states during a worsening energy crisis, and as a result is likely to see significant resistance across the European Union. (Source: Sibylline)
12 Aug 22. Ukrainian Forces Make Some Gains in North, South.
Ukrainian forces in the north saw some gains in territory recaptured, including areas near Kharkiv, a senior Defense Department official said today.
In the Ukrainian city of Kherson, Ukraine’s forces continue to press hard against the Russians, the official said. As an example, they inflicted damage on bridges used by the Russians.
On Aug. 9, Ukraine bombarded Russia’s Saki Air Base, located in an area of Crimea that was seized and annexed by Russia in 2014. The bombardment significantly impacted Russian airpower and personnel, the official said.
The bombing did not involve the Army Tactical Missile System, which the United States has not supplied to Ukraine, the official said.
That system can hurl projectiles 190 miles, which is farther than the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System rounds the U.S. is supplying to Ukraine.
The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in eastern Ukraine is currently under Russian control. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, there is no immediate threat to nuclear safety, but that could change.
Russia continues to fire indiscriminately on Ukrainian territory, resulting in massive civilian casualties, the official said.
“That’s largely due to the indiscriminate bombing that the conduct,” the official said.
Although the Russians have a significantly larger force than Ukraine, “the things going against the Russians are the continued impacts on their morale, their ability to sustain themselves — all of which have been impacted by the Ukrainians’ ability to get after command and control, ammunition, sustainment and logistics locations,” the official said.
The official said that on a scale of zero to 10, the effectiveness of Ukraine’s armed forces would be a 12 “just based on how impressive they’ve been to us in so many different ways. … They have found ways to do things that we might not have thought were possible.”
(Source: US DoD)
12 Aug 22. Russia rebuffs calls to allow access to Ukraine nuclear plant. Sporadic shelling raises concerns of damage at Europe’s largest atomic power facility. Russia has said it will not yet allow international inspectors to access Europe’s largest nuclear power plant despite fears over the state of the Ukrainian facility under Moscow’s occupation. Moscow and Kyiv have traded accusations of targeting the Zaporizhzhia plant in southern Ukraine, which has been under Russian control since March following Russia’s full-scale invasion of its neighbour. The site has suffered weeks of sporadic shelling that has caused fires and damaged buildings in the sprawling facility. Rafael Grossi, the International Atomic Energy Agency chief, has said that while there was no immediate threat to nuclear safety that could “change at any minute”. “These military actions near such a large nuclear facility could lead to very serious consequences,” he told the UN Security Council at an emergency meeting on Thursday night. However Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s envoy to international missions in Vienna, told the Izvestia newspaper in an interview published on Friday that a visit by Grossi could not take place before “the end of August or early September”. Russia has already rejected demands to demilitarise the facility.
Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy has repeatedly warned that Russia’s control of the plant creates a radiation danger for Europe. “Only the complete withdrawal of Russians from the territory of the Zaporizhzhia . . . and the restoration of Ukraine’s full control over the situation around the plant will guarantee the restoration of nuclear safety for all of Europe,” he said in his most recent nightly address, on Thursday. But Russia has refused demands to return control of the plant to Ukraine. “The only way to ensure security at the plant is to have 100 per cent control over it. Ukraine’s government are in no state to do that” while fighting the war, Konstantin Kosachev, a senior Russian lawmaker in the upper house of parliament, was quoted as saying by the Interfax news wire. Kosachev warned that allowing “any people from outside without the requisite competencies will carry the risk of further provocations.” A Kyiv official said Ukraine is considering evacuating its citizens around the power plant. International calls for access to the plant came after unconfirmed reports of felled power lines that could have been used to divert the plant’s electricity into Russian-occupied territories like the Crimean peninsula. The power plant’s two operational reactors are still connected to the Ukrainian grid. Russian forces have shelled the nearby city of Nikopol from the vicinity of the plant for months now, while Ukraine says it has held back retaliatory fire out of fear for damaging the plant. (Source: FT.com)
09 Aug 22. Cutting Russia’s Component Pipeline. Published in the May/June 2022 Issue – Russian military capability is likely to suffer as its war in Ukraine continues. Increasing economic and industrial pressure through growing international sanctions will mean that sources of key components that are needed for the manufacture of complex weapons and platforms are increasingly harder to source.
While many major international firms in the Indo-Pacific region with headquarters in Europe or the US have withdrawn from the Russian market, many Asian companies are maintaining their exports. But with the Ukrainian government in control of Kyiv and much of the country, companies will be urged to cut ties with Russia.
In a rare move on 26 April, Chinese drone manufacturer DJI announced in a three-line statement that it “will temporarily suspend all business activities in Russia and Ukraine” following complaints from Kyiv that the company’s products were being used in Russian military operations.
There were publicly announced halts to trade with Russia in March by South Korean communications giants Samsung and LG along with Japanese companies Toyota and electronics company Panasonic.
This is significant. The impact of the loss of supplies of electronic and machined items will be severely detrimental to Russia’s ability to produced weapons, particularly guided weapons. In its recent report on the Russo-Ukraine War entitled Operation Z: The Death Throes of an Imperial Delusion, the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a UK-based think tank, stated that Russia’s cruise and ballistic missile capabilities were key to its ongoing war effort in Ukraine.
But Russia will find it difficult to sustain its stockpiles of precision munitions because these weapons are “heavily dependent on critical specialist components manufactured abroad,” the report said. Because it can’t produce new weapons to replenish its stocks, Russia is reluctant to employ weapons such as ballistic missiles like Iskander-M in Ukraine on a large scale as it needs them in case of any wider war with NATO. Instead Russian is utilising an array of other less suitable weaponry for long-range strikes and other missions.
The report cited fieldwork by RUSI and the Central Scientific Research Institute for Armaments of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which found that the 9M727 cruise missile fired from the Iskander-K uses a special computer with robust components that can stand the stresses of missile flight. The computer receives data from the sensors to control the missile’s flight. However, RUSI said that six of the seven sockets used to transfer the data were US-built. In addition, the rails connecting the circuit boards to the computer housing and the circuit boards themselves are sourced from the US.
The report said there was a “similar pattern” across Russia’s equipment portfolio. “Almost all of Russia’s modern military hardware is dependent upon complex electronics imported from the US, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, Israel, China and further afield,” it added.
Other examples cited include Russia’s 9M949 300mm guided rocket, which uses a US-made fibre-optic gyroscope for its inertial navigation system and the TOR M2 air defence system that has a British-sourced oscillator for radar control. Meanwhile the Iskander-M, the Kalibr cruise missile, the Kh-101 air-launched cruise missile as well as the Aqueduct family of Russian military radios (R-168-5UN-2, R-168-5UN-1 and R-168-5UT-2) include “critical electronic components manufactured in the US, Germany, the Netherlands, South Korea and Japan.”
Anastasia Kapetas, the National Security editor of The Strategist at Australian think-tank the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) told AMR that a cut in the supply of semiconductor chips “would be disastrous” for everything that Russia might want to field militarily including Orion drones, fifth generation Sukhoi fighters and the Armata tank.
Semiconductors are used in the manufacture of most military equipment designed for communications, data storage and processing, automotive systems, industrial electronics and even satellites.
“If you can’t get chips you can’t launch satellites,” Kapetas said. Russia has the GLONASS constellation that is similar to the US GPS satellites. “At this level [the Russian Army’s] basic navigation capacity could be affected – everything from communications in the field between different units to the ability for missiles to find their targets. That could get degraded very quickly and is really bad news.”
Russia is heavily dependent on the import of semiconductors, especially from the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), which has suspended shipments to Russia. Taiwan dominates the semiconductor market taking 60 percent of the market share, with TSMC representing over 50 percent of this and Taiwan’s United Microelectronic Corporation (UMC) on about seven percent. Samsung Electronics is second with about 18 percent with US firm Global Foundries vying for third and fourth position with UMC also on about seven percent.
Kapetas said that replicating the production of chip systems is “extremely difficult” creating a “big problem” for Russia in securing supplies. Moscow’s attempts to develop microprocessor manufacturing facilities under its import substitution policy through companies Elbrus and Baikal Electronics have been negligible.
However, according to a list of companies produced by the Yale School of Management, China’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) company is still defying US sanctions rules and exporting to Russia. SMIC is attempting to copy TSMC but due to a global shortage in the supply of semiconductors China is prioritising its own needs first and is it not clear if they have exported semiconductors to Russia.
“The US is seriously looking at semiconductors and Russia. If the US found out SMIC was exporting to Russia it would definitely sanction them and the company would lose access to US technology, industrial partnerships and the resources it needs from the US and Taiwan to actually make their own products,” Kapetas said. (Source: AMR)
12 Aug 22. 26 countries commit over €1.5bn to boost Ukrainian capabilities. The commitment was made at a Copenhagen conference and will be delivered in the form of cash, equipment, and training.
A coalition of 26 countries has pledged over €1.5bn to meet the current and future needs of Ukrainians amid Russian aggression, reported Reuters, citing Denmark Defence Minister Morten Bodskov.
The commitment was made at the Copenhagen Conference for Northern European Defence Allies of Ukraine, hosted by Denmark, Ukraine, and the UK.
The support will be delivered in the form of cash, equipment, and training.
Existing missiles and ammunition will be restocked, weapon production will be increased, and de-mining activities will be taken up at the war-torn areas of Ukraine as part of the latest commitment.
Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic will enhance the production of artillery systems and other military equipment for the cause of Ukraine, reported the news agency, citing Bodskov.
The countries also agreed to expand the International Fund for Ukraine (IFU).
In this regard, the UK pledged an additional €300m, including multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS) and precision-guided M31A1 missiles that can hit targets over 80km away.
UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “This conference sends a clear message to Russia. We will not tire and we will stand by Ukraine today, tomorrow, and in the months to come. (Source: army-technology.com)
11 Aug 22. As Ukraine highlights value of killer drones, USMC wants more. Deeply built into the Marine Corps’ plan for its own future are loitering munitions: unmanned systems, also called “kamikaze” or “suicide” drones.
These drones can remain airborne until a target is identified ― at which point they set a course for that target and go out in a blaze of glory.
While substantial funding for acquisition and development of these systems is already built into 2023 budget plans, the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps said the service is already making plans to ask for even more.
“So, would I seek more munitions?” Gen. Eric Smith told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in July. “Yes … the ‘23 budget just went across, and the ‘24 budget is working through the department right now.”
Building loitering munitions into newly reorganized Marine Corps infantry battalions has been part of service strategy since 2021, when Commandant Gen. David Berger published his annual Force Design 2030 update.
In that update he referred to the success of the weapons systems in the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War, a 2020 conflict waged heavily with drones and long-range artillery in which Azerbaijan prevailed over breakaway state Artsakh and Armenia.
The Russia-Ukraine war has intensified focus on loitering munitions.
The U.S. has sent Ukraine hundreds of Aexev Phoenix Ghost and Aerovironment Switchblade tactical unmanned aircraft systems to counter Russia’s own systems, like the Lancet.
Like much in that conflict, it’s not fully clear yet what the impact of these systems has been. But those familiar with the systems say they bring to the battlespace both an inexpensive missile capability and the psychological element of fear and uncertainty: You never know when you’re being tracked by an eye in the sky that’s just waiting for the signal to strike.
Smith said the presence of loitering munitions in that fight and future ones was changing how all parties had to act.
“The ability of those drones to be nearly ubiquitous across the battlefield, because they’re so inexpensive, you have to contend with that,” he said. “And you have to drop your signature. If you’re seen, either because you radiate, or because you’re physically seen, you’re targeted almost immediately.”
Smith mentioned two specific developmental loitering munitions capabilities the Marine Corps is testing out: organic precision fires-mounted, or OPF-M, and organic precision fires-infantry, or OPF-I.
In 2021, the service awarded Bethesda, Maryland, based Mistral Inc. a contract as part of a deal valued up to $44 million to design, build and test OPF-M in partnership with UVision LTD and integrate a launcher into three land and sea platforms: the joint light tactical vehicle, the light armored vehicle-mortar and the still-in-development long-range unmanned surface vessel.
In his speech, Smith revealed the outcome of an OPF-M live-fire test that he said took place in 2021.
“We struck five for five moving targets, that means armor killers, at ranges in excess of 80 kilometers,” Smith said. “So, test done. Now it’s about, how much can we procure using the budget we have, because we have to balance the Marine Air-Ground Task Force.”
Requested in the 2023 defense budget is funding to continue building out loitering munition capabilities.
Inside the nearly $12 million allocated for the Futures Directorate are resources for experimentation with an advanced, “fully autonomous, remotely operated” loitering munition unmanned aircraft system that can seek and engage targets by day or night. Plans for 2023 include an “unmanned kill-chain” demo using small unmanned aircraft systems to further prove this concept.
For organic precision fires-mounted, 2023 will see the completion of integration and testing for a JLTV variant and groundwork laid for testing with 122 mm munitions, according to Marine Corps and Navy budget materials.
The year 2023 will also be the launch of the man-portable version of the system, to be known as OPF-Light.
The Marine Corps has yet to pick a maker for OPF-Light, described in a 2020 contract solicitation as a man-portable system with at least 90 minutes of endurance, a munition range of up to 20 kms and the ability to swarm with other systems.
The 2023 budget request includes $7.5m to conduct market analysis, plan vendor demos and begin integration of a miniaturized command-and-control system, scaled, like the system itself, to fit into a backpack for easy transport.
Beginning in fiscal 2024, budget documents note, the Marine Corps will start developing additional munitions capabilities.
Notably absent from the funding list is a multiyear research effort that the Marine Corps appears to have quietly concluded: the low-cost UAV swarming technology, or LOCUST, designed to launch both intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance drones and loitering munitions “from air, surface, ground, and sub-surface platforms to conduct both singular and swarm operations across battlespace.”
While the Navy and Marine Corps released some impressive demo footage of the concept in 2016 and 2017, development of the program appears to wrap up in 2022, with $8 million in research funding.
No research dollars are allocated for 2023, and no acquisition strategy is outlined. (Source: Defense News)
12 Aug 22. Stop revealing our defence plans, Zelensky warns officials. In the wake of blasts that wrecked a Russian air base in Crimea on Tuesday, newspapers cited unidentified officials as saying Ukrainian forces were responsible, but Kyiv declined to say whether it had been behind the explosions.
“War is definitely not the time for vanity and loud statements. The fewer details you divulge about our defence plans, the better it will be for the implementation of those defence plans,” Mr Zelensky said in his evening address.
“If you want to generate loud headlines, that’s one thing – it’s frankly irresponsible. If you want victory for Ukraine, that is another thing, and you should be aware of your responsibility for every word you say about our state’s plans for defence or counter attacks.”
Mr Zelensky addressed his remarks to state, local and military officials as well as other people he said were commenting on events at the front.
Hanna Malyar, Ukraine’s Deputy Defence Minister, said security services opened a probe into a case where officials talked to newspapers: “A leak like this disrupts the plans of the Ukrainian armed forces since the enemy adjusts its actions and uses this information against us.” (Source: Daily Telegraph)
11 Aug 22. Calling on Russia to return full control of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities to their rightful sovereign owner: UK statement to UN Security Council.
Statement by Ambassador James Kariuki at the UN Security Council briefing on the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine..
Thank you President, and thank you to Director-General Grossi for briefing us once again on the situation in Ukraine.
The United Kingdom remains deeply concerned about the ongoing impacts of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and, in the context of today’s meeting, its effects on nuclear safety.
The Council discussed Russia’s reckless actions at the Ukrainian nuclear facilities, including the Chernobyl nuclear site and the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant at the start of the invasion.
On 3 March, the IAEA Board of Governors adopted a resolution calling for Russia to cease all actions against and at all nuclear facilities in Ukraine, so that the competent Ukrainian authorities could regain full control and ensure their safe and secure operation, and the IAEA could resume their important safeguards verification activities.
Now, over five months later, Russia’s control of the Zaporizhzhia Plant continues. The competent Ukrainian authorities and IAEA inspectors are still prevented from properly carrying out their essential duties.
As IAEA Director General Grossi has said, Russia’s actions have violated almost all of his seven pillars of nuclear safety and security. Russia’s actions are contrary to the principles of the Convention of Nuclear Safety and other international nuclear safety conventions, and put at jeopardy the safety of millions who would be affected by a nuclear incident in Ukraine.
In light of this, and despite Russia’s continued lies and obfuscation in this chamber about its brutal and irresponsible assault on Ukraine, we should be clear. It is Russia’s continued invasion and military presence that is putting the plant at risk and thereby endangering the local population, the wider region and the entire international community.
We welcome Director General Grossi’s efforts to strengthen nuclear safety and security in Ukraine in challenging circumstances, and the tireless, heroic efforts of the Ukrainian nuclear facilities staff, despite the immense pressure they are under.
We reiterate our call for IAEA inspectors to be permitted access to all nuclear facilities in Ukraine to address nuclear safety, security and safeguard concerns, in a manner that respects Ukraine’s sovereignty over its territory and infrastructure.
In this regard, we note with appreciation Foreign Minister Kuleba’s letter to Mr Grossi and the Secretary-General on this issue.
And we once again call on Russia immediately to withdraw its forces from Ukraine, and return full control of all Ukraine’s nuclear facilities to their rightful sovereign owner to ensure their safe and secure operation.
Published 11 August 2022 (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
11 Aug 22. Satellite images show damage to Crimea airbase after apparent Ukrainian attack. Ukrainian officials stopped short of publicly claiming responsibility for the explosions while mocking Russia’s explanation.
Satellite images appear to show at least seven fighter planes at an airbase in Crimea have been blown up after an apparent Ukrainian attack on the base.
Ukraine said on Wednesday that nine Russian warplanes were destroyed in a string of explosions that appeared to be the result of a Ukrainian attack, which would represent a significant escalation in the war.
Russia denied any aircraft were damaged in Tuesday’s blasts — or that any attack took place.
But satellite photos showed at least seven fighter planes at the base had been blown up and others probably damaged.
Ukrainian officials stopped short of publicly claiming responsibility for the explosions while mocking Russia’s explanation that a careless smoker might have caused ammunition at the Saky air base to catch fire and blow up.
Analysts also said that the explanation does not make sense and that the Ukrainians could have used anti-ship missiles to strike the base.
If Ukrainian forces were, in fact, responsible for the blasts, it would be the first known major attack on a Russian military site on the Crimean Peninsula, which was seized from Ukraine by the Kremlin in 2014. Russian warplanes have used Saky to strike areas in Ukraine’s south.
Crimea holds huge strategic and symbolic significance for both sides. The Kremlin’s demand that Ukraine recognises Crimea as part of Russia has been one of its key conditions for ending the fighting, while Ukraine has vowed to drive the Russians from the peninsula and all other occupied territories.
The explosions, which killed one person and wounded 14, sent tourists fleeing in panic as plumes of smoke rose over the coastline nearby. The video showed shattered windows and holes in the brickwork of some buildings.
One tourist, Natalia Lipovaya, said that “the earth was gone from under my feet” after the powerful blasts.
Sergey Milochinsky, a local resident, recalled hearing a roar and seeing a mushroom cloud from his window. “Everything began to fall around, collapse,” he said.
Crimea’s regional leader, Sergei Aksyonov, said some 250 residents were moved to temporary housing after dozens of apartment buildings were damaged.
Russian authorities sought to downplay the explosions, saying on Wednesday that all hotels and beaches were unaffected on the peninsula, which is a popular tourist destination for many Russians.
But a video posted on social media showed long lines of slowly moving cars on the road to Russia as tourists headed for home.
A Ukrainian presidential adviser, Oleksiy Arestovych, cryptically said that the blasts were either caused by Ukrainian-made long-range weapons or the work of Ukrainian guerrillas operating in Crimea.
A Ukrainian parliament member, Oleksandr Zavitnevich, said the airfield was rendered unusable. He reported on Facebook that it housed fighter jets, tactical reconnaissance aircraft and military transport planes.
“Unofficially the military acknowledges that it was a Ukrainian strike”
“Official Kyiv has kept mum about it, but unofficially the military acknowledges that it was a Ukrainian strike,” Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said.
The base is at least 125 miles from the closest Ukrainian position. Mr Zhdanov suggested that Ukrainian forces could have struck it with Ukrainian or Western-supplied anti-ship missiles that have the necessary range.
The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said it could not independently determine what caused the explosions but noted that simultaneous blasts in two places at the base probably rule out an accidental fire but not sabotage or a missile attack.
But it added: “The Kremlin has little incentive to accuse Ukraine of conducting strikes that caused the damage since such strikes would demonstrate the ineffectiveness of Russian air defence systems.”
During the war, the Kremlin has reported numerous fires and explosions on Russian territory near the Ukrainian border, blaming some of them on Ukrainian strikes. Ukrainian authorities have mostly kept silent about the incidents.
11 Aug 22. What military equipment has the UK sent Ukraine?
Britain has supplied a range of weapons, vehicles, technology and armour to help Ukrainians fight the Russian invasion.
The UK has provided thousands of weapons to Ukraine’s armed forces since Russia’s invasion in late February 2022.
Western countries began cautiously, supplying helmets and flak jackets, before limiting supplies to defensive weapons.
The Ministry of Defence has unveiled the UK’s latest military aid package to Ukraine, which will include more Multiple Launch Rocket Systems and precision-guided missiles.
Britain will give the country a “significant number” of precision-guided M31A1 missiles that can hit targets up to 80km (50 miles) away, helping Ukraine defend itself from Russian heavy artillery, the MOD said.
But what has the UK sent so far?
More than 6,900 anti-tank missiles, including more than 5,000 NLAW (Next-generation Light Anti-tank Weapon) missiles, which have so far proved devastatingly effective against Russian armour.
More than 200 Javelin anti-tank missiles and Brimstone missiles. The Javelin is an extremely powerful shoulder-fired anti-armour system and it weighs 24.3kg. The “fire and forget” Javelin system allows the user to lock onto a target, fire and then focus on a different target, with a range of 2.5km.
One-hundred and twenty armoured fighting vehicles and six Stormer vehicles fitted with Starstreak launchers, along with hundred of missiles.
More than 16,000 rounds of artillery ammunition, as well as anti-structure munitions and 4.5 tonnes of plastic explosive.
More than 20 M109 155mm self-propelled guns, 36 L119 105mm artillery guns and ammunition and more than 50,000 rounds of ammunition for Ukraine’s artillery. More than 200,000 pieces of non-lethal aid including more than 82,000 helmets, 8,450 sets of body armour, more than 5,000 night-vision devices, rangefinders and medical equipment. Electronic warfare equipment including GPS jammers, counter battery radar systems and night vision equipment. Dozens of heavy lift UAV systems to provide logistical support to isolated forces. (Source: forces.net)
10 Aug 22. Ukraine: G7 Foreign Ministers’ statement on Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant. Statement of the G7 Foreign Ministers in support of the IAEA’s efforts to promote Nuclear Safety and Security at Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine.
We, the G7 Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, and the High Representative of the European Union, re-reiterate our strongest condemnation of the ongoing unprovoked and unjustifiable war of aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine. The Russian Federation must immediately withdraw its troops from within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders and respect Ukraine’s territory and sovereignty.
In that context, we demand that Russia immediately hand back full control to its rightful sovereign owner, Ukraine, of the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant as well as of all nuclear facilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders to ensure their safe and secure operations. Ukrainian staff operating the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant must be able to carry out their duties without threats or pressure. It is Russia’s continued occupation control of the plant that endangers the region.
We remain profoundly concerned by the serious threat that the occupation seizure of Ukrainian nuclear facilities and other actions by Russian armed forces pose to the safety and security of these facilities, significantly raising the risk of a nuclear accident or incident and endangering the population of Ukraine, neighboring states and the international community. They It also undermines the IAEA’s ability to monitor Ukraine’s peaceful nuclear activities for safeguarding purposes.
We welcome and support IAEA Director General Grossi’s efforts to strengthen nuclear safety and security in Ukraine and we thank the Director General and the IAEA staff for their steadfast commitment in this regard. Against this background, we underline the importance of facilitating a mission of IAEA experts to the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant to address nuclear safety, security and safeguard concerns, in a manner that while respectsing full Ukrainian sovereignty over its territory and infrastructure. We strongly endorse the importance of the Seven Pillars of Nuclear Safety and Security as outlined by Director General Grossi.
We reiterate our full and continued support for the IAEA. IAEA staff must be able to access all nuclear facilities in Ukraine safely and without impediment, and engage directly, and without interference, with the Ukrainian personnel responsible for the operation of these facilities. The safety of all individuals implementing these efforts must be addressed to strengthen nuclear safety, security and safeguards in Ukraine. We encourage all countries to support the IAEA’s efforts. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
11 Aug 22. UK to give more multiple launch rocket systems and guided missiles to Ukraine. Decision comes after the successful use of UK multiple-launch rocket systems by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, gifted earlier this year. The UK will send further multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS) to Ukraine as part of an enduring commitment to help the country defend itself against Russia’s illegal invasion, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has announced.
Britain will also give a significant number of precision guided M31A1 missiles which can strike targets up to 80km away, enabling Ukraine to continue to defend itself against Russian heavy artillery.
The decision comes following the successful use of multiple-launch rocket systems by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, gifted by the UK earlier this year.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace MP said: “This latest tranche of military support will enable the Armed Forces of Ukraine to continue to defend against Russian aggression and the indiscriminate use of long-range artillery. “Our continued support sends a very clear message, Britain and the international community remain opposed to this illegal war and will stand shoulder-to-shoulder, providing defensive military aid to Ukraine to help them defend against Putin’s invasion.
Ukrainian troops have been trained in the UK on how to use the launchers so that they can maximise the effectiveness of the systems. This is in addition to the UK’s commitment to train up to 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers in infantry battlefield skills over the coming months. Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands have all announced they will be supporting the programme.
Building on this effort, the Defence Secretary will co-host the Copenhagen Conference for Northern European Defence Allies of Ukraine on Thursday 11 August, to discuss further, long-term support for Ukraine on training, equipment, and funding.
Recognising the relentless courage and determination of the Ukrainian people, the UK and its allies will begin to establish a plan of action to support Ukraine into 2023 and beyond for as long as necessary, as they continue to fight for their freedom and sovereignty. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
11 Aug 22. Russians Have Begun Training on Iranian Drones. The US believes Russian officials have begun training on drones in Iran over the last several weeks, the latest sign that Russia intends to purchase the systems as the war in Ukraine continues.
“During the last several weeks, Russian officials conducted training in Iran as part of the agreement for UAV transfers from Iran to Russia,”
a US official told CNN. The official said the intelligence about the training has recently been declassified.
CNN has reached out to the Russian embassy in Washington for comment. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said last month that Russia had “no comments on the matter” when asked by reporters about the drones.
Last month it was revealed that a Russian delegation had visited an airfield in central Iran at least twice since June to examine weapons-capable drones, according to national security adviser Jake Sullivan and satellite imagery obtained exclusively by CNN.
Iran began showcasing the Shahed-191 and Shahed-129 drones, also known as UAVs or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, to Russia at Kashan Airfield south of Tehran in June, US officials told CNN. Both types of drones are capable of carrying precision-guided missiles. Sullivan said in July that the US believes Iran intends to sell Russia hundreds of the drones that Russia can use in its war in Ukraine.
The Ukrainian military has primarily been deploying Turkish-built Bayraktar UAVs to destroy Russian command posts, tanks and surface-to-air missile systems, while the Russians have been using homemade Orlan-10 drones for reconnaissance and electronic warfare. But the Russians have been struggling to replenish their supply, leading them to turn to Iran for the equipment, the US believes. (Source: UAS VISION/ CNN)
11 Aug 22. Heavy fighting near Donetsk as Russia presses offensive in eastern Ukraine.
- Separatists claim to have captured Pisky
- Ukraine accuses Russia of hiding behind nuclear plant
- China blames U.S. for conflict
Heavy fighting raged around the eastern Ukrainian town of Pisky on Thursday as Russia pressed its campaign to seize all of the industrialised Donbas region, while to the west Kyiv accused Moscow of using a nuclear plant to shield its artillery.
An official with the Russia-backed Donetsk People’s Republic said Pisky, on the frontlines just 10 km (6 miles) northwest of provincial capital Donetsk, was under control of Russian and separatist forces.
“It’s hot in Pisky. The town is ours but there remain scattered pockets of resistance in its north and west,” the official, Danil Bezsonov, said on Telegram.
Ukrainian officials denied that the heavily fortified town, a key to the defence of Donetsk, had fallen. Reuters was unable to verify the battlefield accounts.
The Donbas region comprised of Luhansk and Donetsk provinces became Moscow’s main objective after it failed to seize the capital Kyiv at the start of the war in February. Luhansk is now almost completely under Russian control but Donetsk is still holding out.
Oleksiy Arestovych, a Ukrainian presidential adviser, said in an interview posted on YouTube that Russian “movement into Pisky” had been “without success”.
Luhansk regional Governor Serhiy Gaidai, interviewed on Ukrainian TV, said Russia had sent increasing numbers of mercenaries into the region, including from the Wagner private security firm.
“We once had peaceful Ukrainian towns. Now we have been thrust into the Middle Ages … People are now leaving because they are afraid of freezing in the coming winter,” he said.
Ukraine accused Russia on Wednesday of killing at least 13 people and wounding 10 with rockets fired from around a captured nuclear power plant in the centre of the country, in the knowledge it would be risky for Ukraine to return fire.
“The cowardly Russians can’t do anything more so they strike towns ignobly hiding at the Zaporizhzhia atomic power station,” Andriy Yermak, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s chief of staff, said on social media on Wednesday.
Ukraine says around 500 Russian troops with heavy vehicles and weapons are at the plant, where Ukrainian technicians continue to work.
The town Ukraine says Russia targeted – Marhanets – is one Moscow says its foes have used in the past to shell Russian soldiers at the Zaporizhzhia plant, which they seized in March.
Ukraine’s military said Russia also bombarded several other areas in the Zaporizhzhia region. Russia has not commented on the Ukrainian allegations and Reuters could not independently verify Kyiv’s version.
Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of imperilling the plant, Europe’s largest nuclear complex, with attacks nearby.
The Group of Seven leading industrialised countries on Wednesday told Russia to hand back the plant to Ukraine, after the United Nations atomic energy watchdog sounded the alarm over a potential nuclear disaster.
CHINA BACKS RUSSIA
Russia on Wednesday received powerful endorsement from China of its rationale for the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.
Beijing’s ambassador to Moscow, Zhang Hanhui, accused Washington of pushing Russia into a corner with repeated expansions of the NATO military alliance and support for Ukraine’s alignment with the European Union.
Washington’s “ultimate goal is to exhaust and crush Russia with a protracted war and the cudgel of sanctions,” Zhang was quoted as saying.
Ukraine’s military reported Russian forces shelled some 28 towns in the northeast, southwest and south including the Kharkiv, Donetsk and Kherson regions on Wednesday. Ukraine’s general staff said counterattacks forced Russian troops to retreat in most of them.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Arestovych said dozens of civilians had been killed by Russian shelling on Wednesday.
Moscow says it does not deliberately target civilians in what it calls its “special military operation” aimed at safeguarding its security against NATO expansion.
Ukraine and the West accuse Moscow of waging an unprovoked imperial-style war of aggression.
The head of the Russian-backed separatist administration in the Donetsk region said on Wednesday that a trial of captured personnel from Ukraine’s Azov Regiment would take place by the end of the summer, likely in the city of Mariupol. r
The Azov Regiment, a unit of Ukraine’s national guard with far-right and ultranationalist origins, garnered attention for its resistance to the Russian siege of Mariupol’s vast steelworks.
Hundreds of Azov fighters surrendered in May to Russian-backed forces. Russia’s supreme court ruled the regiment was a terrorist organisation, an allegation Ukraine denies.
The war has crushed Ukraine’s economy, but there was some relief on Wednesday when overseas creditors backed Kyiv’s request for a two-year freeze on payments on almost $20bn in international bonds. That should avert a messy default.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said the deal would save his country almost $6bn. (Source: Reuters)
10 Aug 22. We want to cause maximum damage to end war quickly, says Volodymyr Zelensky. Ukraine will consider how to inflict as much damage on Russia as possible to end the war quickly, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday.
Ukraine said 13 people died and 10 were wounded when Russia fired rockets at Marhanets from the territory of a nuclear power plant it has captured in the Dnipropetrovsk region.
The attack, Mr Zelensky said, underlined the need for allies to supply more powerful weapons to the Ukrainian military.
“The more losses the occupiers suffer, the sooner we will be able to liberate our land and ensure the security of Ukraine,” he said.
“This is what everyone who defends our state and helps Ukraine should think about – how to inflict the greatest possible losses on the occupiers in order to shorten the war.”
Ben Wallace announced on Wednesday that Britain will double the number of long-range rocket launchers being sent to Ukraine, as he said that Kyiv’s forces were right to hit Russian targets in occupied Crimea.
It comes as new satellite images reveal the extensive damage to a Russian base in Crimea after it was targeted in a mysterious attack, appearing to be considerably worse than the Kremlin has publicly admitted.
Russia is unlikely to be able to fulfill some export orders for armoured fighting vehicles due to the “exceptional demand” for vehicles for Russia’s own forces in Ukraine and increasing Western sanctions, the Ministry of Defence said.
“Russia has long considered the defence industry to be one of its most important export successes,” the ministry said on Twitter on Thursday.
“However, its military industrial capacity is now under significant strain, and the credibility of many of its weapon systems has been undermined by their association with Russian forces’ poor performance in the Ukraine war.” (Source: Daily Telegraph)
10 Aug 22. Russia ‘highly unlikely’ to be capable of fulfilling some export orders. Russia is unlikely to be able to fulfill some export orders for armoured fighting vehicles due to the “exceptional demand” for vehicles for Russia’s own forces in Ukraine and increasing Western sanctions, the Ministry of Defence said.
“Russia has long considered the defence industry to be one of its most important export successes,” the ministry said on Twitter on Thursday.
“However, its military industrial capacity is now under significant strain, and the credibility of many of its weapon systems has been undermined by their association with Russian forces’ poor performance in the Ukraine war.” (Source: Daily Telegraph)
10 Aug 22. Britain to double rocket launcher shipments to Ukraine ahead of Crimea fightback. Ben Wallace announces boost in Kyiv’s firepower as it gears up for a major counteroffensive in Russian-annexed region.
The Defence Secretary confirmed that Britain would send double the number of M270 rocket launchers to Ukraine
Britain will double the number of long-range rocket launchers being sent to Ukraine, Ben Wallace announced on Wednesday as he said that Kyiv’s forces were right to hit Russian targets in occupied Crimea.
The Defence Secretary announced the extra M270 rocket launchers, the Army’s most advanced missile system, as Ukraine prepares itself for a major counteroffensive in the south of the country.
A “significant number of precision-guided missiles” with a range of 50 miles will also be supplied, Mr Wallace added.
It came as anonymous Ukrainian officials said that the country’s special forces and partisan resistance fighters were behind the unprecedented strike at the Novofedorivka airfield, 125 miles behind enemy lines, in Crimea.
At least 12 blasts rocked the Russian base, near the Black Sea resort of Saky, sending massive mushroom clouds billowing into the sky and holiday-goers fleeing.
Without confirming Ukrainian involvement, its air force boasted that nine Russian jets were completely destroyed in the strike.
Moscow rejected reports of missile strikes or sabotage at its base and blamed an accidental fire for the ammunition explosion, which analysts said was an attempt to cover up the ineffectiveness of Russian air defences.
For weeks, Ukrainian armed forces, with help from Western-provided long-range rocket launchers, have been battling to take back control of land towards the city, which was the first regional capital to fall into Russian hands.
Russian military bloggers suggested the attack on the Saky airfield had been carried out with US-provided long-range army tactical missile systems, which have a range of 190 miles.
However, Mr Wallace said it was “unlikely” Western-supplied weapons had been the cause of Tuesday’s blasts, adding that the Crimean airbase was a “legitimate target” for Ukraine.
“That air force base has been used by Russian forces to bomb Ukrainian targets. I think in anybody’s manual of war it would be a legitimate target,” the Defence Secretary said during a visit to Denmark.
“I’m not going to sit in judgment over Ukraine. Ukraine is sitting there fighting for its very survival.”
One official told The New York Times that the base, thought to be home to Russia’s 43rd Air Regiment, had been used as a key staging post for attacks in southern Ukraine.
Almost immediately after the explosions, pro-Kremlin channels on social media shared footage of a destroyed Su-24 fighter jet.
Satellite imagery taken prior to the blasts on Tuesday showed dozens of Russian aircraft lined up on the tarmac at the Saky airfield.
Oleksiy Arestovych, a military adviser to Volodymyr Zelensky, said that the attack was just the start of Ukrainian strikes on Russian targets in Crimea, which was illegally annexed by Russia in 2014.
He added that the next round of strikes were likely to happen “in the coming days”.
There were reports of traffic jams of over 60 miles as civilians attempted to escape the peninsula on Wednesday via the Kerch Strait Bridge to mainland Russia amid mounting fears of fresh attacks on the area.
Mr Arestovych said that if Ukraine’s armed forces could reach the border of Crimea, they would have the entire region covered with “all sorts of weapons” without having to enter it.
One official told the Politico news website that August and September would be “very important” months for Ukraine’s fightback.
Ahead of increasing Britain’s offering of multi-launch rocket launchers to six, Mr Wallace said that the war-torn country’s troops had been in the UK for extra training to be “much better” on the systems.
The additional military kit sent to Ukraine takes the UK’s total military support for Kyiv to £2.3 bn since the invasion began on Feb 24, more than any country other than the US.
Mr Wallace told reporters in Copenhagen: “It is very important that as Ukraine switches from Soviet-era equipment it uses the Western-gifted equipment in the way the West would use it, otherwise it would run out pretty quickly.
“It was very important when we gifted this [rocket system] that we said to the Ukrainians, ‘Look, you cannot use it in the same way. You have to be much better at discriminating about which targets you want to hit [and your] priorities’ and ensure we got a feedback loop to ensure it was worth carrying on giving those munitions.”
Western analysts said that the airbase attack on Tuesday had most likely been carried out by an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) evading Russia’s feeble air defence systems.
Justin Bronk, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, said: “My best guess is that Ukrainian forces hit the base with a fairly small loitering munition or improvised UAV.”
A similar attack was carried out earlier this month at the Sevastopol naval base in Crimea, home to Russia’s Black Sea fleet.
The Institute for the Study of War, a US-based think-tank, said: “The Kremlin has little incentive to accuse Ukraine of conducting strikes that caused the damage since such strikes would demonstrate the ineffectiveness of Russian air defence systems.” (Source: Daily Telegraph)
10 Aug 22. USAF F-22 Raptors to conduct Nato Air Shielding mission in Poland. The F-22s will temporarily be supported by UK RAF’s six F-15E Strike Eagles jets. The US Air Force (USAF) has deployed its 12 F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft to support Nato’s Air Shielding mission in Poland. The deployed aircraft are from the USAF’s 90th Fighter Squadron (FS) based at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) in Alaska.
On 5 August, the F-22 fighter jets arrived at the 32nd Tactical Air Base (AB) in Łask, Poland and were welcomed by general James Hecker, USAF in Europe-Air Forces Africa commander and Nato Allied Air Command (AAC) commander.
Vermont Air National Guard’s 158th Fighter Wing (FW) will hand over the mission to 90th FS, under Nato’s efforts to bolster its collective defence posture.
The 158th FW has been executing the coalition’s Air Policing mission since 2 May.
Hecker said: “The Raptors’ ability to perform both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions will exponentially increase the warfighting capability along the eastern flank as this rotation supports Nato’s Air Shielding.”
Apart from 12 Raptors, the UK Royal Air Force’s (RAF) six F-15E Strike Eagles from the 48th FW, RAF Lakenheath are also being deployed to Łask AB to provide temporary support to the USAF.
Hecker added: “Our airmen’s ability to adapt, support and integrate with Nato’s Air Shielding mission shows our ability to respond to an ever-changing dynamic warfighting environment and strengthen the alliance.”
Designed to boost air and missile defence posture, Nato’s Air Shielding along the eastern flank is a defensive mission to protect allied territory and populations.
During this visit, Hecker also met Polish Armed Forces General Command’s commander general Jarosław Mika to discuss the US-Poland Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).
The agreement aims to enhance security cooperation and the long-standing defence partnership between the two countries.(Source: airforce-technology.com)
09 Aug 22. Bayraktar Will Build Plant in Ukraine. The Turkish manufacturer of Bayraktar TB2 drones, Baykar Makina, will build a plant in Ukraine. This was stated by the Ambassador of Ukraine to Turkey, Vasily Bodnar in an interview with RBC-Ukraine.
“The plant will be built. Just a week ago, the government approved a bilateral agreement and sent it to parliament for ratification, an agreement on the construction of the plant itself,” Bodnar said.
According to the ambassador, Baykar created its Ukrainian company in Ukraine. This company has already purchased the land. The company has developed the plant’s project itself and intends to implement it to the end, since it was almost a personal commitment of the company’s owners to make this production in Ukraine.
The decision is political and practical since a significant part of the models that will be produced at this plant will have Ukrainian-made components.
“It can be engines, other spare parts, wheels, a lot of different things that we have high-tech and can be used for these aircraft,” Bodnar said.
The ambassador added that both before the war and now the sphere of defense technologies is one of the drivers of Ukrainian-Turkish relations.
“Despite the war, our companies continue to fulfill their obligations. Perhaps not in such volumes as planned, but they do not leave this work, and this also shows how responsible a partner we are, who does not leave the Turkish side alone with its problems first of all, in supplying those things that are needed for their defense,” Bodnar concluded.
Bayraktar drones plant to be subject to demilitarization if it opens in Ukraine — Kremlin
A manufacturing plant of Turkish combat drones Bayraktar will be a subject of immediate demilitarization if it opens in Ukraine, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday.
“The fact of opening such facility, which will be definitely an immediate subject to the course of demilitarization, will only prolong the sufferings of Ukrainians but will in no way help to avoid the main objective of the special military operation,”
Peskov said speaking at a news briefing. (Source: UAS VISION/TASS;The Odessa Journal)
10 Aug 22. NATO High Vigilance Battlegroup in Hungary takes shape. The Croatian, Italian, Montenegrin, and US soldiers deployed at the end of July and the beginning of August as part of the NATO High Vigilance Battlegroup in Hungary (HUN eVA BG), the Hungarian Defence Forces (HDF) announced on its website on 4 August. The four countries will operate with the HDF that Lieutenant General Zsolt Sándor, deputy commander of the Hungarian Armed Forces, said include a mechanised company, a tank squadron, an artillery battery, joint terminal attack controllers, special forces, and military police, providing the backbone of the battlegroup led by Hungary as the framework country. In addition to the Italian and US squadrons, Croatian special forces and military police, and a Montenegrin section deployed to Hungary, a Turkish squadron is preparing for HUN eVA BG in Turkey, according Lt Gen Sándor. (Source: Janes)
08 Aug 22. Ukraine receives three German anti-aircraft systems. Ukraine has received its first three German Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft systems and will use them to defend important infrastructure facilities, the southern military command said on Monday. The air defence systems, which are operated by three-person crews and can hit targets at up to 4kms, are one of various pieces of Western military kit being supplied to Ukraine to help it fend off the Russian invasion that began on Feb. 24. (Source: Reuters)
08 Aug 22. Russia Has Suffered Up to 80,000 Military Casualties in Ukraine, Pentagon Says. Russia is believed to have had 70,000 to 80,000 troops killed or wounded in fighting since it invaded Ukraine in February, a top Pentagon official confirmed Monday.
The figure, which has not previously been made public, may not be precise but is “in the ballpark” as Russia remains locked in a war with the western-backed Kyiv government, Colin Kahl, the undersecretary of defense for personnel, said during a public press briefing. The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces claimed Sunday on social media that 42,200 Russian troops have been killed.
The estimated losses show the Russian military may be making steep sacrifices as it executes an invasion ordered by President Vladimir Putin that has included failed logistics and supply systems, as well as the bombing of civilians. The Russian assault continues but has now mostly bogged down in a brutal artillery war in the east.
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“After all, more than 40 m Ukrainians are fighting. The stakes are existential for them. They are fighting for the survival of their country. I’ll also say the Russians are taking a tremendous number of casualties on the other side of the equation,” Kahl said. “There’s a lot of fog in war but, you know, I think it’s safe to suggest that the Russians have probably taken 70 [thousand] or 80,000 casualties in less than six months.”
That includes both killed in action and wounded, Kahl said. It is unclear how many casualties Ukraine has suffered in the fighting because it does not report totals, but an aide to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has told western media that losses could top 200 per day.
Putin had intended to topple the Ukraine independent government in Kyiv within days of the Feb. 24 invasion and install a friendly regime, but instead encountered growing resistance as the U.S. and other nations have armed Ukrainian fighters with increasingly effective weapons, from shoulder-fired missiles to drones to advanced artillery systems.
Russia has guarded its losses in Ukraine. Its defense ministry stopped reporting Ukraine military casualties in March and the country began requiring next of kin to apply for compensation benefits at military offices rather than with civilian services to obscure the troop deaths, according to Reuters. But Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s press secretary, told the UK media in April that Russia was suffering “significant losses of troops.”
The Russians have made incremental gains in the past couple of weeks amid intense fighting fueled by the flow of foreign weapons, Kahl said. That fighting has centered around the Donbas, a region where Russian-backed forces have been fighting Kyiv since Putin suddenly annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in 2014.
“That [Russian casualty] number might be a little lower, a little higher, but I think that’s kind of in the ballpark, which is pretty remarkable considering that the Russians have achieved none of Vladimir Putin’s objectives at the beginning of the war,” he said.
On Monday, the U.S. was preparing another weapons shipment to Ukraine worth $1bn — its 18th shipment since the invasion. The newest package, authorized by President Joe Biden, includes more ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS; 75,000 rounds of 155 millimeter artillery ammunition; 20 mortar systems and 20,000 rounds of mortar ammunition; and munitions for National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems, or NASAMS.
The Ukrainians will also be getting 1,000 more Javelin anti-tank missiles, armored medical vehicles, anti-personnel mines and medical supplies.
The bloody war appears likely to continue as the weapons pour in and Russia remains resolute. The Atlantic Council think tank noted last week that U.S. officials have been privately using an estimate of about 75,000 Russian casualties for weeks — a number believed to be growing.
But the losses do not seem to have weakened public support for the war inside Russia, according to Peter Dickinson, the editor of the think tank’s UkraineAlert. Recent polling inside the country found 76% of Russians support the war and is a “wake-up call” for those who hoped Putin would suffer public backlash for starting the conflict.
“On the contrary, it appears that the vast majority of Russians have acclimatized to the new wartime reality despite the worsening economic climate in their own country and mounting revelations of war crimes being committed in their name across the border in Ukraine,” Dickinson wrote. (Source: Military.com)
08 Aug 22. UK technology found in Russian weapons used in Ukraine.
Oscillators and crystals produced by Golledge Electronics have been built into Russian radars and missile systems, says UK-based think tank
British technology has been found in Russian weapons used against Ukraine, a new report has revealed.
Oscillators and crystals produced by Somerset-based Golledge Electronics have been built into Russian radars and missile systems.
The highly sophisticated components show that Moscow’s war machine is reliant on highly sophisticated Western technology, according to the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi).
Russia has lost so many cruise and ballistic missiles, electronic warfare equipment and specialist radios in Ukraine that “the degradation in Russian military capability could be made permanent if appropriate policies are implemented”, the report says.
The Kremlin has also set up a “clandestine network” of spies to try and source replacements for the components, which it can no longer access because of sanctions, it adds.
The oscillators and crystals emit a precise electrical signal that can be used in computer chips and quartz watches.
Russia built them into its Torn-MDM, a truck-based system designed to intercept communications and radio signals, and the Tor-M2 rocket, which uses radar to detect targets.
The UK, as a member of the European Union, introduced a prohibition on the export of so-called “dual-use” goods for military purposes as part of a 2014 sanctions package against Moscow after the illegal annexation of Crimea.
However, a loophole, which was not closed by Brussels until after the outbreak of the conflict, allowed European businesses to continue sending items to Russia that could have military application as long as the importing firm promised it would not be used as such.
In February, days after the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine, the UK introduced a tougher ban on shipments to Russia of all products and technology – including microchips and semiconductors – that could have “dual use” to support its military.
The measure has been constantly tweaked by both the UK and EU throughout the war in order to widen the scope of products captured under the sanctions.
Technical inspections by Rusi of 27 missiles and other equipment fired at or captured in Ukraine revealed 450 different kinds of unique foreign-made components.
Inspections showed 317 components had been sourced from the US, the most from any single country.
Japan and Taiwan were the source of 34 and 30 pieces of kit respectively. Meanwhile, Britain was found to have supplied five highly sensitive components.
Close examination of a Russian Orlan-10 drone, used for identifying Ukrainian positions for subsequent strikes by artillery and other weapons, revealed the camera, produced by Sony, was mounted on a gimbal supplied by the US-firm Hextronik.
The drone’s flight control system is based on technology from Swiss firm STMicroelectronics, with the engine supplied by Japanese company Saito Seisakusho.
The radio used to communicate data to the Russian artillery brigade headquarters included components from US-based Analog Devices and Texas Instruments.
Other weapon systems were found to be similarly reliant on Western technology.
“From the standard to the boutique, Russia’s weapons contain large numbers of microelectronic components originally manufactured in North America, Europe and East Asia,” the report’s authors stated.
“If Russia is to have this silicon lifeline severed, it is critical that governments review and strengthen existing export controls from their own countries and jurisdictions, cooperate multi-nationally to identify and close down Russian covert procurement networks [and] discourage third countries and jurisdictions from facilitating re-export or transshipment of controlled goods to Russia.”
The British components were designed and produced by Golledge Electronics, a supplier to the electronics industry based in Ilminster. The company exports its products to over 50 countries.
In early March 2022, the company reported that it had ceased business in Russia on February 24 following the invasion of Ukraine.
A spokesman for Golledge Electronics said the company follows all global export control laws and has “robust business processes in place to deal with the supply of goods into Russia”.
“We have not quoted for Russian business, or shipped to Russia since February 24 2022. We are deeply concerned about these findings and do not support any use of our components to violate human rights,” the spokesman added.
The report adds that the Kremlin’s “special services are now working to build new routes to secure access to Western microelectronics”.
A secret unit called Line X, formed as part of the KGB during the Cold War, is thought to be behind efforts to avoid sanctions and source for Russia sensitive military equipment subject to tight export controls.
As Western-supplied kit becomes harder to acquire, Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) and military intelligence agency (GRU) are “aggressively [pursuing] the procurement of parts, components and technical knowledge necessary to build and field weapons designed to crush their adversaries”, Rusi says.
Russia has engaged in scientific and technological espionage operations for decades.
For almost a century, the country’s intelligence services have prioritised the acquisition of critical technology for Russia’s weapons programmes.
Preoccupied with maintaining parity with the West, at its height around 100,000 people were involved in Soviet technical espionage operations, according to the report.
In recent months, the US Government has continued to pursue Russia’s clandestine procurement networks.
Just one month after the 2022 invasion, the US Treasury designated more than 30 individuals and companies allegedly procuring critical Western technology on behalf of Russian intelligence agencies, according to the Rusi report.
The UK has also been a target of Russia’s technical espionage operations.
Rusi says a large complement of the KGB’s Line X officers were based in London in the 1980s with one of their key targets being the defence firm Rolls-Royce. (Source: Daily Telegraph)
09 Aug 22. Ukraine says its troops advance towards Izium as fighting rages in Donbas.
- Heavy Russian shelling reported along Donbas front
- Fresh Ukrainian attacks damage key bridge in Kherson
- Both sides blame the other for shelling nuclear plant
Ukraine reported intense Russian shelling across the frontlines on Tuesday as both sides traded blame for the weekend strike on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear complex which triggered international concern about a potential atomic disaster.
Heavy fighting was reported in frontline towns near the eastern city of Donetsk, where Ukrainian officials said Russian troops were launching waves of attacks as they try to seize control of the industrialised Donbas region.
“The situation in the region is tense – shelling is constant throughout the front line … The enemy is also using air strikes a great deal,” Donetsk regional Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko told Ukrainian television.
“The enemy is having no success. Donetsk region is holding.”
Around Kharkiv in the northeast, Ukrainian troops captured the town of Dovhenke from Russian occupiers and were advancing towards Izium, Ukrainian Presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said in a video posted on YouTube.
The daily battlefield report from Ukraine’s military general staff said towns north, east and southeast of Kharkiv had come under fire from tanks, artillery and rockets.
“The situation is very interesting. Ukraine’s forces are moving very successfully. Attempts by Russia to regain lost ground were not successful. Ukraine may end up encircling them,” Arestovych said.
In the southeast, the key Antonovskyi bridge over the Dnipro river in Kherson region was targeted again by Ukrainian forces trying to disrupt Russian supply lines.
Yuri Sobolevsky, deputy head of Kherson regional council ousted by Russian occupation forces, said on Telegram the bridge had been seriously damaged after “overnight actions”.
Reuters was unable to verify the reports.
U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl on Monday said Russia had suffered between 70,000 and 80,000 casualties, either killed or wounded, since its invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24. Russia calls the war a “special military operation”.
United Nations chief Antonio Guterres on Monday called any attack on a nuclear plant “suicidal” and demanded U.N. nuclear inspectors be given access to Zaporizhzhia, the largest nuclear power complex of its kind in Europe.
Russia’s invading forces seized the southern Ukrainian region containing Zaporizhzhia in March, when the site was struck without damage to its reactors. The area, including the city of Kherson, is now the target of a Ukrainian counter-offensive.
Ukraine appealed for the area around the complex to be demilitarised and for the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, to be let in. Russia said it too favoured an IAEA visit, which it accused Ukraine of blocking.
Both sides blamed the other for weekend attacks around the complex, which is still being run by Ukrainian technicians. Ukraine said three radiation sensors were damaged and two workers injured by shrapnel.
Petro Kotin, head of Ukraine’s state nuclear power company Energoatom, said 500 Russian soldiers and 50 pieces of heavy machinery, including tanks, trucks and armoured infantry vehicles were at the site.
He called for peacekeepers to run the plant, and warned of the risk of shells hitting the plant’s six containers of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel.
Russia’s defence ministry said Ukrainian attacks had damaged power lines servicing the plant and forced it to reduce output by two of its six reactors to “prevent disruption”.
Reuters could not independently verify either side’s account.
In an evening video shared online, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called for new Western sanctions on Russia’s nuclear industry “for creating the threat of a nuclear disaster.”
Dr Mark Wenman, a nuclear expert at Imperial College London, played down the risk of a major incident, saying the Zaporizhzhia reactors were relatively robust and the spent fuel well protected.
Stepping up its fiscal aid and military spending on Ukraine, Washington announced it will send $4.5 bn in budgetary support and $1 bn in weapons, including long-range rocket munitions and armoured medical transport vehicles.
Overall, the United States has contributed more than $18 bn to Ukraine this year.
While pouring arms and money into Ukraine, the United States was also enforcing financial sanctions against the Kremlin and the wealthy elites who support President Vladimir Putin.
A U.S. judge authorised prosecutors to seize a $90 m Airbus (AIR.PA) plane owned by sanctioned Russian oligarch Andrei Skoch, prosecutors said on Monday.
Skoch, a member of the Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, was initially sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2018 for alleged ties to Russian organised criminal groups. He was hit with further sanctions in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The plane is now in Kazakhstan, court papers show. Kazakhstan’s embassy in the United States did not respond to a request for comment.
Russia says it is waging a “special military operation” in Ukraine to rid it of nationalists and protect Russian-speaking communities. Ukraine and the West describe Russia’s actions as an unprovoked war of aggression.
The conflict has displaced ms, killed thousands of civilians and left cities, towns and villages in ruins. (Source: Reuters)
08 Aug 22. $1bn Support Package for Ukraine, Largest Yet. The Defense Department today detailed the contents of the latest security assistance package to Ukraine, which is worth $1bn. Provided under presidential drawdown authority — the 18th drawdown so far — the package includes additional ammunition for both the high mobility artillery rocket and howitzer systems.
“This is the largest single drawdown of U.S. arms and equipment utilizing this authority to date,” Colin Kahl, the undersecretary of defense for policy, said. “The package provides a significant amount of additional ammunition, weapons and equipment — the types of which the Ukrainian people are using so effectively to defend their country.”
Among the items included in the latest package are additional ammunition for the high mobility artillery rocket system, or HIMARS; 75,000 rounds of 155 mm artillery ammunition; twenty 120 mm mortar systems and 20,000 rounds of 120 mm mortar ammunition; munitions for the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems, or NASAMS; and 1,000 Javelin and hundreds of AT4 anti-armor systems.
“These are all critical capabilities to help the Ukrainians repel the Russian offensive in the east, and also to address evolving developments in the south and elsewhere,” Kahl said.
Since the Russian invasion on Feb. 24, 2022, the U.S. has sent about $9.1bn in security assistance to the Ukrainians through both the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative and presidential drawdown authority.
Presidential drawdown authority, or PDA, allows the president in certain circumstances to withdraw weapons, ammunitions and material from existing U.S. military stocks and provide that to other nations. As part of the USAI, the DOD contracts for the purchase of materiel to be sent.
“The United States continues to work with its allies and partners to provide Ukraine with capabilities to meet its evolving battlefield requirements and our allies and partners have stepped up to provide billionns of dollars in their own assistance,” Kahl said. “We will continue to closely consult with Ukraine and surge additional available systems and capabilities in support of its defense.”
While this security assistance package doesn’t contain additional HIMARS launch systems, it does contain additional munitions for systems the U.S. has already sent to Ukraine, Kahl said.
One type of munition the department has sent to Ukraine for use in the HIMARS is the “Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System” or GMLRS, which are precision-guided systems with a range of about 70km. Kahl said the U.S. had provided “hundreds” of those systems in the past few weeks and that the Ukrainians have been using them successfully.
“The munitions themselves, these GMLRS … are having a very profound effect,” he said. “This is a 200-pound warhead, it’s kind of the equivalent of an airstrike, frankly — a precision-guided airstrike. These are GPS-guided munitions. They’ve been very effective in hitting things that previously the Ukrainians had difficulty hitting reliably.”
Kahl said the Ukrainians have used the HIMARS along with provided GMLRS rockets to hit Russian command and control nodes, sustainment and logistics hubs and key radar systems, for instance.
“It’s made it more difficult for the Russians to move forces around the battlefield,” he said. “They’ve had to move certain aspects back away from the HIMARS. It’s slowed them down. It’s made it harder for them to resupply their forces. So I think it’s having real operational effects.”
The latest security assistance package also includes 50 armored medical treatment vehicles; Claymore anti-personnel munitions; C-4 explosives, demolition munitions and demolition equipment; and medical supplies such as first aid kits, bandages, monitors and other equipment, Kahl said. (Source: US DoD)
08 Aug 22. $1bn in Additional Security Assistance for Ukraine. Attributed to Acting Pentagon Press Secretary Todd Breasseale: Today, the Department of Defense (DoD) announces the authorization of a Presidential Drawdown of security assistance valued at up to $1bn to meet Ukraine’s critical security and defense needs. This authorization is the Biden Administration’s eighteenth drawdown of equipment from DoD inventories for Ukraine since August 2021. It is the largest single drawdown of U.S. arms and equipment utilizing this authority, and this package provides a significant amount of additional ammunition, weapons, and equipment – the types of which the Ukrainian people are using so effectively to defend their country.
Capabilities in this package include:
- Additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS);
- 75,000 rounds of 155mm artillery ammunition;
- 20 120mm mortar systems and 20,000 rounds of 120mm mortar ammunition;
- Munitions for National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS);
- 1,000 Javelin and hundreds of AT4 anti-armor systems;
- 50 armored medical treatment vehicles;
- Claymore anti-personnel munitions;
- C-4 explosives, demolition munitions, and demolition equipment;
- Medical supplies, to include first aid kits, bandages, monitors, and other equipment.
In total, the United States has now committed approximately $9.8bn in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden Administration. Since 2014, the United States has committed more than $11.8bn in security assistance to Ukraine.
To meet Ukraine’s evolving battlefield requirements, the United States will continue to work with its Allies and partners to provide Ukraine with key capabilities calibrated to make a difference. (Source: US DoD)
08 Aug 22. Ukraine calls for more ‘game-changer’ HIMARS weapons to hit Russia. Ukrainian forces are preparing for a possible counter attack in the south of the country.
Ukraine says it needs more long-range rocket systems as it prepares for a possible counter offensive in the south.
Kyiv’s forces have already used American-supplied M142 HIMARS rockets to destroy dozens of Russian targets deep behind the frontline.
The weapons are being touted as game-changers for Ukraine.
What is HIMARS?
HIMARS is a light multiple rocket launcher system developed in the 1990s for the US Army.
It is one of the most significant weapons sent by the West to Ukraine since the start of the war.
HIMARS vehicles are manned by a crew of three – a gunner, driver and launcher chief, and can reach speeds of 53mph.
Their GPS-guided rockets, able to hit targets more than 50 miles away, have devastated Russian logistic chains.
This ‘deep battle’ strategy has helped Ukrainian forces to hinder Russia’s progress by disrupting their supplies of fuel and ammunition and destroying their command posts.
Military author, Martin J Dougherty told Forces News: “It shifts their [Russia’s] ability to sustain operations, to launch operations. It may even influence strategic decisions, to give up areas that they can’t secure.”
The Pentagon says Ukraine has used HIMARS to destroy 100 Russian targets – among them, weapons caches, air defence positions and long-range artillery. Ukraine is also using M270 Multiple Rocket Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) to hit Russian positions. They use the same launcher pods as HIMARS but can fire 12 rockets rather than six. The UK and Norway have together donated around a dozen. (Source: forces.net)
08 Aug 22. Russian weapons in Ukraine powered by hundreds of Western parts, report says. More than 450 foreign-made components have been found in Russian weapons recovered in Ukraine, evidence that Moscow acquired critical technology from companies in the United States, Europe and Asia in the years before the invasion, according to a new report by Royal United Services Institute defence think tank.
Since the start of the war five months ago, the Ukrainian military has captured or recovered from the battlefield intact or partially damaged Russian weapons. When disassembled, 27 of these weapons and military systems, ranging from cruise missiles to air defence systems, were found to rely predominantly on Western components, according to the research shared with Reuters.
It is the most detailed published assessment to date of the part played by Western components in Russia’s war against Ukraine.
About two-thirds of the components were manufactured by U.S.-based companies, RUSI found, based on the weapons recovered from Ukraine. Products manufactured by the U.S.-based Analog Devices and Texas Instruments accounted for nearly a quarter of all the Western components in the weapons.
Other components came from companies in countries including Japan, South Korea, Britain, Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.
“Russian weapons that are critically dependent upon Western electronics have resulted in the deaths of thousands of Ukrainians,” Jack Watling, a land warfare specialist at RUSI, told Reuters.
While many of the foreign components are found in everyday household goods such as microwaves that are not subject to export controls, RUSI said a strengthening of export restrictions and enforcement could make it harder for Russia to replenish its arsenal of weapons such as cruise missiles.
In one case, a Russian 9M727 cruise missile, one of the country’s most advanced weapons that can manoeuvre at low altitude to evade radar and can strike targets hundreds of miles away, contained 31 foreign components. The parts were made by companies that included U.S-based Texas Instruments Inc and Advanced Micro Devices Inc(AMD.O) , as well as Cypress Semiconductor, which is now owned by Infineon AG(IFXGn.DE) , a German company, the RUSI investigation found.
In another case, a Russian Kh-101 cruise missile, which has been used to strike Ukrainian cities, including the capital Kyiv, also had 31 foreign components with parts manufactured by companies including U.S.-based Intel Corporation and AMD-owned Xilinx.
In response to questions about how their chips ended up in Russian weapons, the companies said they comply with trade sanctions and they have stopped selling components to Russia.
Analog Devices said the company closed their business in Russia and instructed distributors to halt shipments to the country.
Texas Instruments said it follows all laws in the countries where they operate and the parts found in the Russian weapons were designed for commercial products. Intel said it “does not support or tolerate our products being used to violate human rights.”
Infineon said it was “deeply concerned” if its products are being used for purposes which they were not designed for. AMD said it strictly follows all global export control laws.
Many of the foreign components only cost a few dollars and Russian companies would have been able to buy them before the start of the Ukraine invasion online through domestic or international distributors because they could be used in non-military applications.
However, more than 80 Western-manufactured microchips were subject to U.S. export controls since at least 2014 meaning they would have required a licence to be shipped to Russia, RUSI said. The companies exporting the parts had a responsibility to carry out due diligence to ensure they were not being sent to the Russian military or for a military end-use, according to RUSI.
The investigation’s findings show how Russia’s military remains reliant on foreign microchips for everything from tactical radios to drones and precision long-range munitions, and that Western governments were slow to limit Russia’s access to these technologies particularly after President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Crimea in 2014.
Russia’s war with Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24, has killed thousands of people, displaced millions more and laid waste to several cities. Russia’s superior firepower, including its use of cruise and ballistic missiles, has helped its forces grind through eastern Ukraine and occupy around a fifth of the country.
Russian troops have fired more than 3,650 missiles and guided rockets in the first five months of the war, according to the Staff of the National Security and Defense Council. These include the 9M727 and Kh-101 missiles. Russian missiles have been used to hit targets including railway lines to disrupt Western supply lines, military infrastructure and civilian targets such as shopping centres and hospitals. Russia said it has only fired at military targets. Russian authorities didn’t provide further comment for this story.
In the aftermath of the invasion of Ukraine, the United States announced sweeping sanctions to try to weaken Russia’s economy and its military. This included a ban on many sensitive microchips being sold to Russia. Countries in Europe, as well as Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea – all key chipmaking countries – have announced similar restrictions. Russia characterises the conflict as a special military operation meant to disarm Ukraine. Moscow has cast the sanctions as a hostile act and has denied targeting civilians.
Russia is currently working to find new routes to secure access to Western microchips, according to RUSI. Many components are sold through distributors operating in Asia, such as Hong Kong, which acts as a gateway for electronics making their way to the Russian military or companies acting on its behalf, RUSI found.
Russia’s government did not respond to a request for comment.
The U.S. government said in March that Russian firms were front companies that have been buying up electronics for Russia’s military. Russian customs records show that in March last year one company imported $600,000 worth of electronics manufactured by Texas Instruments through a Hong Kong distributor, RUSI said. Seven months later, the same company imported another $1.1m worth of microelectronics made by Xilinx, RUSI said.
Texas Instruments and AMD-owned Xilinx did not respond to a request for comment about the customs data. ussia’s military could be permanently weakened if Western governments strengthen export controls, manage to shut down the country’s clandestine procurement networks and prevent sensitive components being manufactured in states that support Russia, RUSI said. (Source: Google/Reuters)
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