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Ukraine Conflict – September 5th.
Military and security developments
- The Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kherson oblast continues, but little verifiable information exists at present to confirm the scale of Ukrainian advances. Russian and Ukrainian milbloggers and other social media sources have provided various conflicting reports over the last 24-48 hours. Intense fighting nevertheless remains ongoing across a large frontage from the northwest of Kherson city to the northeast Kherson-Dnipropetrovsk oblast border region, with Ukrainian forces seemingly taking various positions as Russian sources claim they are successfully repulsing most attacks. Unconfirmed footage indicates isolated examples of Russian troops surrendering to Ukrainian forces in Pravdyne (35km northwest of Kherson).
- The Ukrainians are continuing to successfully target Russia’s ground lines of communication (GLOC) along this axis, including strikes against Russian pontoon bridges over the Inhulets River. Additionally, the Ukrainian General Staff has claimed numerous successful strikes against logistics centres, ammunition depots and command and control headquarters of various airborne units across the region, including in Hennichensky Raion, just north of Crimea. Meanwhile, Russian forces maintain they are also successfully targeting Ukrainian ammunition depots on the western bank of the Inhulets River, and have also neutralised a “terrorist” headquarters inside Kherson city, likely referring to Ukrainian partisans.
- In the Donbas, the frontline hasn’t altered much in recent days. The Ukrainian General Staff claimed on 1 September that President Putin has extended the alleged deadline for Russian forces to capture the remainder of Donetsk oblast, from 31 August until 15 September. Given the extremely slow and limited progress over the last month, this deadline is highly unlikely to be achieved. Numerous alleged Russian ‘deadlines’ have been reported by Ukrainian intelligence during the war, but we cannot confirm whether such dates are genuine. Nevertheless, there are numerous indications that Russian forces are massing additional forces in the region, likely in preparation for renewed offensives against the areas around Bakhmut and Donetsk city – where progress has largely stalled in recent weeks. Oleksiy Gromov, the Ukrainian General Staff’s Main Operations Deputy Chief, has reported that elements of the Russian Central Military District are regrouping and increasing concentrations of troops west of Donetsk city. Similarly, elements of the 3rd Army Corps continue to be brought up towards Donetsk oblast. As such, renewed offensive efforts are likely in the coming weeks, but this will be challenged by Ukrainian forces that are also increasing their operations around Bakhmut at the same time. An intensification of fighting around Bakhmut and Avdiivka is therefore likely as both sides seek to improve their tactical positioning.
- Russian sources have claimed today, 2 September, that Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) forces have taken the industrial zone on the western outskirts of Pisky, with Ukrainian forces allegedly withdrawing towards Pervomaiske, past the Donetsk ring road. While this isn’t confirmed at present, Russian forces have made no further confirmed progress around Bakhmut or Donetsk over the last 24 hours.
- The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission arrived at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) on 1 September. Russian officials maintain that the mission will remain at the site until 4-5 September, but IAEA Chief Rafael Grossi has stated that the mission is “going to stay” and is not going to move. He provided his initial assessment after arrival, stating that the physical integrity of the plant had been violated several times, but provided little further information. Notably, the plant’s fifth reactor was shut down on 1 September following the latest shelling, leaving only one final reactor fully operational at present.
- On 2 September, Russian Minister Sergei Lavrov warned the Moldovan government that any action threatening the security of its troops in the breakaway region of Transnistria would be understood as a direct attack on Russia. Tensions between the two countries are already high, particularly following a series of bomb threats across Moldova over the past month. The risk of a full-scale Russian invasion in Moldova remains low, with Moscow’s comments most likely serving to maintain pressure on Maia Sandu’s pro-western government, rather than indicate imminent military action.
- Russia cannot currently invade Moldova from Transnistria alone, particularly as it is now on the defensive in Kherson following Ukraine’s counteroffensive. However, Moscow retains various other options to destabilise the pro-West government such as exploiting political polarisation through its allies in the Socialist and Communist parties or utilising likely on-the-ground intelligence assets. As such, bomb threats and criticism of the government could yet undermine stability ahead of what is set to prove a very challenging winter for Moldova’s population.
- On 2 September, the Kremlin stated that Russia would cease supplying countries with oil if they impose price caps on Russian energy exports. G7 Ministers will meet today, 2 September, to discuss a price cap on Russian energy aimed at hitting Russian revenues – which are currently at historic highs given the global energy crisis. Germany, the Netherlands and Poland remain the biggest importers of Russian oil in Europe, with Lithuania, Finland and Slovakia the most dependent upon Russian imports. The EU will introduce a partial ban on Russian oil later this year, but price caps could yet destabilise the energy markets ahead of that cut-off if Moscow cuts off oil exports.
On 1 September, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a speech at a school in Kaliningrad, during which he emphasised that schoolchildren in Ukraine must learn Kremlin-approved histories, which refutes Ukrainian sovereignty. Putin stated that the purpose of the “special military operation” in Ukraine is to eliminate the “anti-Russian enclave” that has emerged in Ukraine, as it poses an existential threat to Russia following the 2014 “coup” that toppled pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych. He maintained that this “anti-Russian” entity must be destroyed militarily to defend Russia. Putin’s speech ultimately aligns with the Kremlin’s existing narrative and justification for the invasion of Ukraine set out on 24 February. As such, it confirms that the Kremlin’s maximalist objectives in Ukraine have remained largely unchanged since then, despite the Russian offensive in the Donbas largely stalling as the Ukrainians conduct a counteroffensive in Kherson. This is therefore the latest indication that the Kremlin has no intention of ceasing fighting any time soon. The speech is therefore likely aimed at preparing the population for a continuation of the war into 2023 and augmenting recruitment efforts ahead of the next conscription cycle beginning on 1 October.
EU: Member states suspend Russian visa agreement, further increasing regional tensions. On 31 August, the EU agreed to suspend a visa facilitation arrangement with Russia. This will make it more difficult for Russian nationals to enter the EU in the future. Ever since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February, over one m Russians have reportedly entered the EU, according to Frontex, the EU’s border association. As a result, the EU’s chief diplomat, Joseph Borrell, alleged that these border crossings have become a ‘security risk for neighbouring countries’. He stated that the threat of espionage and the spread of misinformation and disinformation are likely to increase. Furthermore, the implications of the EU-wide ban will reinforce regional tensions with Russia, with Moscow highly likely to engage in reciprocal measures.
Hungary: Increased Russian gas supplies will improve energy security, reduce unrest risks. Hungary reached an agreement with Russia on 31 August for an extra 5.8m cubic metres of gas per day as of 1 September. According to the Hungarian foreign minister, Péter Szijjártó, the additional gas supplies will improve the ‘security of the energy supply in Hungary and prevent the need to introduce restrictions in the country due to gas shortages’. Given that the development means the country will be less likely to resort to rationing schemes this winter to conserve energy, pressure on businesses to reduce energy consumption will be moderately alleviated. Furthermore, the deal will allow Hungary to fill up more of its gas reserves. This will therefore furthermore reduce the pressure on households amid heightened concerns over soaring energy, and reduce the risk of domestic instability in the coming months.
Ukraine: Shelling around nuclear plant will endanger IAEA official visit. On 1 September, Russia’s defence ministry claimed that Ukainian forces have attempted to disrupt the visit of 14 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials to the Zapoirizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP). It alleged that Ukraine’s military has been shelling the area around Vasilyevka, including the meeting point for the IAEA delegation. It also claimed that a group of around 60 Ukrainian saboteurs are attempting to seize the ZNPP. Meanwhile, Ukrainian news outlets have reported that Russian forces are shelling the IAEA’s pre-agreed route to the ZNPP. Russian false-flag operations remain highly likely during the high-profile visit. It still remains to be seen whether the IAEA team will be able to inspect the plant, or whether fighting and false-flag attacks will delay the visit and thus prevent an appraisal of the safety of Europe’s largest nuclear plant.
Kazakhstan: Proposed constitutional reforms will possibly prompt protests, unrest in coming months. On 1 September, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev suggested that Kazakhstan should hold a snap presidential election this autumn. He also proposed to change the length of the presidential term to seven years. Tokayev stated a new mandate is needed to implement comprehensive governance reforms throughout the country. All proposed institutional changes are due to be completed by the end of this year. The proposals are likely an attempt by Tokayev to consolidate his autocratic rule and establish a clear break from the Nazarbayev era following public unrest in January. Any related elections are unlikely to be independent or free from government interference, with Tokayev highly likely to consolidate his position. However, given the precedent of the January violence, there remains a low to moderate risk that an election will trigger renewed protests, particularly as the cost-of-living crisis worsens.
- Information relating to the Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kherson oblast remains very limited, with neither Kyiv nor Ukraine’s Operational Command South providing any details or confirmation on military operations at present. This tight operational security will ensure reporting remains limited in the coming weeks. Russian milbloggers at present provide some of the only notable information, albeit unconfirmed and often unreliable, on current Ukrainian operations. The Russian Ministry of Defence and other Russian sources have meanwhile claimed that the Ukrainian counteroffensive has already failed, but it is too early to assess.
- Ukrainian officials already set expectations this week, with senior presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych stating on 30 August that the Ukrainian counteroffensive will be a ‘slow operation to grind the enemy’. This aligns with claims made by numerous US and Western officials on 1 September that the US took part in wargaming with Kyiv before the counteroffensive, advising Ukraine to limit its counteroffensive to avoid overextending itself. As such, the building counteroffensive is likely to be slow and methodical over the coming weeks, rather than achieving dramatic gains around Kherson.
- In eastern Ukraine, Russian offensive operations remain concentrated around Bakhmut and Donetsk city. Russian and Ukrainian forces are seemingly still contesting Kodema, a settlement 15km southeast of Bakhmut which is seeing some of the most intense fighting on this axis at present. Meanwhile, Russian and separatist DNR forces continue to assault various towns to the west of Donetsk city, including Marinka and Pervomaiske, though no confirmed progress has been made over the last 24 hours.
- The situation on the Kharkiv axis remains broadly on trend, with Russian forces conducting limited ground attacks to the north, but without achieving notable progress. However, indications point to Russian forces withdrawing to more defensible positions along the Siverskyi Donets River east of Kharkiv city. Unconfirmed images published on 31 August indicate that Russian forces have blown up a bridge over the Siverskyi Donets near Balakliya, 70km southeast of Kharkiv. Such limited withdrawals to more defensible positions are likely in anticipation of potential Ukrainian counterattacks in the area.
- Russian social media sources have reported that Ukrainian forces have been accumulating equipment around Balakliya in preparation for limited attacks. While elements of the 3rd Army Corps could be deployed to help plug these gaps in the coming weeks, offensive operations along this axis are not a priority for Russian forces. The priority is clearly focused instead on defending the critical ground lines of communication between Belgorod and Izyum that run east of the Siverskyi Donets. However, with Ukraine launching its Kherson counteroffensive, it is unclear if Kyiv retains the capability to launch another counteroffensive along this axis.
- On 31 August, Ukraine’s state-owned gas company Naftogaz announced that it had successfully concluded negotiations with numerous Eurobond holders to postpone certain payments for two years. 77 percent of investors reportedly voted “yes” to a postponement of debts worth over EUR 600 m due in 2024. However, bondholders of debt due in 2026 refused Naftogaz’s appeal for debt postponement, meaning the restructuring of its debt has only been partially successful.
- Last month, Naftogaz became the first Ukrainian government entity to officially default since the beginning of the invasion, with major concerns over the company’s ability to meet further bond payments and pay for gas this winter. Eurobond holders due to be paid this year already rejected restructuring plans last month, and while this newest deal will see over EUR 90 m of interest payments reportedly deferred between 2022-24, Naftogaz is still in default. With payments still due this year, short-term restructuring remains allusive and will place additional pressure on Naftogaz’s ability to finance gas supplies ahead of the winter season.
On 1 September, Russia’s Ministry of Defence claimed that Ukrainian forces attempted to disrupt a visit due to be made by 14 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP). They claim that Ukraine’s Armed Forces have been shelling the area around Vasilyevka, including a meeting point for the IAEA delegation. A 60-strong Ukrainian sabotage group allegedly attempted to seize the ZNPP this morning, 1 September. Russian forces claim to have captured three members of the alleged sabotage group, but have provided no evidence. Ukrainian outlets are meanwhile reporting Russian shelling of the pre-agreed route that the IAEA are taking from Zaporizhzhia to the ZNPP. At time of writing at 11:30 BST, the mission has been delayed at a military checkpoint 20km from the frontline due to the fighting, but the IAEA team has expressed its determination to reach the plant today. Russian false-flag operations remain highly likely during the high-profile IAEA visit, with fighting potentially providing a convenient excuse to delay the inspection of the facility. There is a realistic possibility the IAEA team will be able to inspect the plant unmolested, though fighting and false-flag attacks could delay the visit and thus prevent an appraisal of the safety of Europe’s largest nuclear plant. Ultimately, a major nuclear incident remains highly unlikely in the event of an intensification of fighting. For further analysis on the scenarios for a nuclear incident at the ZNPP, see Sibylline Situation Update Brief – 18 August.
- Pro-Russia cyber threat actors continued to launch both disruptive and cyber espionage-related activities. Pro-Russia hacktivist group Killnet’s warning that it plans on attacking the Turkish defence firm Baykar Defense over its decision to arm the Ukrainian military and halt sales to Russia underscores the notable cyber threat posed to businesses that engage in activities against Moscow’s interests. Meanwhile, Russian state-linked actors have continued to utilise their cyber capabilities to gather intelligence on strategic targets, such as Ukrainian and Western government agencies and their private sector partners in sectors such as defence or think tanks.
- Cyber campaigns disclosed by Pro-Ukraine hackers modestly increased in the previous week. These cyber campaigns remained focused on halting Moscow’s misinformation/disinformation campaigns in Russian-controlled areas or causing reputational damage to Russian businesses and business people operating outside of Russia. Further such cyber activities are highly likely to continue, especially following prominent pro-Kyiv hacking groups’ promises to continue attacking entities perceived to be supporting the Russian government to impact its ability to coordinate or fund its military activities in Ukraine. Such cyber attacks will likely take the form of DDoS, defacement, and/or data leaks.
Pro-Russia cyber campaigns continue; DDoS and cyber espionage-related activities remain high-priority threats to Western businesses
- On 27 August, the Montenegro government claimed that the country’s critical infrastructure was being subjected to an ongoing wave of malicious cyber activity. These cyber attacks are reportedly targeting industries such as electricity, water supply systems, transportation, and the government’s online portals used by citizens for state services. While the success rate of these intrusions remains unclear, the government claimed that several power plants have taken their IT systems offline to contain the spread of these cyber attacks. The country’s Defence Minister said that there is “strong evidence” that the attacks are being “directed by several Russian services”. Given this evidence and the timing of the cyber attacks, they are likely being launched to express Moscow’s political grievances with Montenegro’s ongoing attempts to join the European Union and tensions between the country’s pro-EU and pro-Russian Serbs.
- On 26 August, the pro-Russia hacktivist group Killnet alleged it is planning to target the Turkish defence firm Baykar Defense. The hacktivist group claimed that the Turkish firm was “not far” from the US defence firm Lockheed Martin. It is likely that any future cyber activity launched against the firm would be in retaliation for its public statement that it “fully supports Ukraine” and will not sell its weapons to Russia. Baykar Defense also previously provided the Ukrainian government with three armed TB2 drones “free of charge” to strengthen its military capabilities against Russia.
- On 25 August, industry reports claimed that Russian state-linked hacking group Cozy Bear has been utilising a new malware to target government and critical organisations in Europe, the US, and Asia using Microsoft’s operating system. This malware, dubbed MagicWeb, reportedly allows the hackers to “authenticate” themselves as anyone within a compromised network by, amongst other things, targeting the Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) servers and replacing the legitimate DLL with their version. This is the latest Cozy Bear cyber campaign since the group began targeting NATO member states with cyber espionage-related activities through vulnerabilities in Microsoft’s 365 accounts. Given the timing and geographic focus of these cyber campaigns, they likely at least partially aimed at exfiltrating intelligence about Western governments’ policies regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Pro-Ukraine cyber campaigns are limited; disrupting and countering Russia’s disinformation/misinformation remained the primary focus during this monitoring period
- On 27 August, a Twitter account claiming to represent the hacktivist collective Anonymous’ sub-group Squad303 alleged they published a list of Russian business people and Russian companies operating in Poland. This post is in line with similar allegations made by Anonymous that they also leaked a list of Russian entities and people operating in the UK. The collective has refrained from stating what the aim of this data leak is. However, there is a realistic probability that the leaking of this data is meant to aid pro-Kyiv hackers in their targeting of Russian businesses (both public and private) to express their political grievances with Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Squad303 has warned that similar leaks will be published online in the coming weeks for other EU countries.
- On 27 August, industry reports claimed that the IT Army of Ukraine is engaged in an ongoing cyber campaign against several Russian media outlets, including Moscow-based news outlet Moskovskij Komsomolets (MK). The IT Army of Ukraine claimed that their cyber attacks have reduced the average audience for MK’s website by 250,000-500,000 visitors. This incident is indicative of pro-Kyiv threat actors’ ongoing attempts to counter the Russian government’s misinformation/disinformation activity by launching cyber attacks against Russian state-sponsored media outlets. This is the latest campaign since the IT Army of Ukraine claimed it defaced the website of Miranda-media, a Russian internet provider operating in Russian-controlled Crimea, on 24 August.
Other Ukraine conflict-related Cyber Updates
Last week, insurance firm Lloyd’s of London disclosed that the firm will no longer be insuring against “state-backed cyber attacks” from its stand-alone cyber insurance policies. The firm’s Underwriting Director Tony Chaudhry said that they would “exclude losses where a state-backed attack has a catastrophic effect on the target nation and impairs its ability to function”. The market bulletin posted by the firm strongly implies this policy change was influenced by Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
Publicly disclosed pro-Moscow cyber campaigns continued to maintain pace during this monitoring period. Much like in previous weeks, the cyber attacks launched by these pro-Moscow hackers can be divided into two categories, cyber campaigns launched by pro-Russian hacktivists and Russia’s state-sponsored activity. For example, Killnet’s indication that they plan on targeting Baykar Defence further highlights pro-Russian hacktivist groups’ pledge to support Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine by launching disruptive cyber activities, such as Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) or defacement attacks, against foreign governments and their private sector partners that are perceived to be against the Russian government. Indeed, Killnet’s statement follows the group’s series of DDoS attacks against Western governments, such as Estonia, Norway, and Italy, which have either been providing financial and military aid to Kyiv or publicly condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. With these countries’ assistance to Ukraine unlikely to dissipate for the foreseeable future, there is a realistic probability of further pro-Russian cyber attacks being launched against targets of interest, such as websites of Western government agencies and their private sector partners, over the coming three months. Organisations are advised to consult ‘quick guide’ checklists provided by Western governments’ cyber security agencies, such as the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA), to minimise their exposure to these cyber threats. Meanwhile, Cozy Bear’s targeting of government and critical organisations in Europe, the US, and Asia is consistent with the other cyber campaigns it has launched since Moscow invaded Ukraine in February. Most notably, Microsoft’s Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) has released several reports in the previous months highlighting that Russian state-linked threat actors, including Cozy Bear, have been launching cyber espionage activity against targets of interest to the Russian government, such as defence and intelligence consulting companies, NGOs, IGOS, and think tanks, based in Western countries oppositional to Moscow, such as EU member states or the US, to gain insights into either their military, socio-economic, or regulatory policies towards Russia (see Sibylline Cyber Daily Analytical Update – 16 August 2022). Given that Russia and Ukraine’s protracted conflict in the Donbas region will highly likely persist for the coming months, information related to the aid that Ukraine is receiving – whether this is declining and/or whether this declining aid is financial or military – will remain of significant strategic value to Moscow. These state-linked threat actors’ previous activities indicate that future cyber campaigns are likely to be enabled by newly discovered vulnerabilities in highly popular software and programmes, such as Microsoft. All organisations are advised to keep their systems up to date to minimise their exposure to these Russian cyber risks. On the other side, publicly-disclosed pro-Ukraine cyber activity slightly increased during this monitoring period. Despite this uptick, these cyber attacks remained focused on either countering Moscow’s misinformation/disinformation activities in Russia and Crimea and/or causing reputational damage to Russian entities and business people operating outside of Russia. While such cyber campaigns are not inherently targeted against Western entities, those that are perceived to either have close relations with Russian businesses and/or staffing Russian executives will be at a heightened risk of being targeted by these pro-Kyiv hacktivists. Given these groups’ low technical capabilities, these cyber attacks will most likely take the form of either DDoS, defacement, and/or data leaks.
Military and security developments
- The Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kherson oblast continues, though Ukrainian military and political officials have not confirmed any Ukrainian advances as of time of writing on 31 August. UK Defence Intelligence reported on 31 August that Ukrainian forces have pushed the Russians back “some distances in places”, aligning with unconfirmed social media reports. Meanwhile, the Russian Ministry of Defence has claimed that their forces have successfully repelled the counteroffensive, which contradicts Russian milblogger reports on social media, which maintain that Ukrainian forces are attacking along a wide front across the Kherson oblast.
- Geotagged footage supports earlier reports that Ukrainian forces have retaken the town of Arkhanhelske after a forcibly mobilised unit of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) allegedly fled. The settlement sits on the eastern bank of the Inhulets and 12km south of the Kherson-Dnipropetrovsk oblast border. The limited flow of information means we cannot confirm where the Ukrainian frontline is at present, though expanding the Ukrainian bridgehead across the Inhulets River and the frontline northwest of Kherson city are likely to remain the priorities for counteroffensive operations. In addition, Ukrainian forces are continuing to focus on targeting Russia’s ground lines of communication (GLOC), with Ukrainian sources confirming on 30 August that their forces had once again struck the Antonivsky Bridge and other critical points, including the destruction of Russian pontoons over the Dnieper River. This will severely undermine Russia’s ability to reinforce its forces on the western bank of the Dnieper River during the ongoing counter-offensive.
- Supporting our assessment yesterday, the Ukrainian General Staff reported on 30 August that elements of the Russian 3rd Army Corps are already deploying to eastern Ukraine, namely along the Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia oblast borders. This is likely aimed at freeing up more experienced forces to support offensive operations in eastern Donetsk oblast, particularly west of Donetsk city – though the Ukrainian General Staff has suggested that Russian forces are planning offensive operations along the Zaporizhzhia oblast border. The General Staff have furthermore reported that elements of Russia’s Central Military District forces have also begun reinforcing the Donetsk city axis. This is similarly likely an attempt to regain momentum after the limited gains around the Butivka coal mine ventilation shaft earlier this month. Nevertheless, Russian forces have achieved no confirmed progress along this axis over the last 24 hours, despite attempted advances around Avdiivka and Opytne.
- Alongside Donetsk city, the Bakhmut line remains a priority for Russian offensive operations, with Russian and separatist forces likely to have advanced further into Kodema over the last 24 hours. The settlement is seemingly heavily contested, with Deputy Head of the Donetsk People’s Militia Eduard Basurin reporting that a Ukrainian counterattack attempted to retake positions in Kodema. If and when Russian forces consolidate their control over the settlement, they will be free to push further west and cut off the T-0513 highway, which runs north towards Bakhmut.
- According to unnamed US officials on 30 August, Ukraine has deployed wooden replicas of HIMARS across the frontline, which in just a few weeks have successfully drawn at least 10 Russian Kalibr cruise missiles – Russia’s most advanced and capable long-range missile. This may account in small part for the frequent claims by the Russian Ministry of Defence that they have destroyed numerous HIMARS systems, though the habit of grossly exaggerating battle damage makes confirmation of equipment losses very difficult on both sides. The US maintains that all of their donated HIMARS remain operational. Ukrainian wooden decoys are thus a highly economical way to degrade Russia’s long-range capability and ever-diminishing stocks of cruise missiles. However, social media footage has also confirmed that Russian forces similarly employ such tactics, with inflatable S-400 systems seen in occupied Crimea, forming part of the maskirovka (or military deception) tactics long-favoured by Soviet and Russian military planners.
- Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak reported today that occupying Russian forces are allegedly becoming “more active in the occupied territories”, specifying that they are “rob[bing] businesses, farmers and dismantling factories, taking the loot to Russia”. The statements are in line with previous reports of Russian forces looting local areas as well as forcing locals to take up Russian passports and attempting to coerce them into supporting accession to the Russian Federation. Moreover, the statements also follow recent reports of Russia abducting hundreds of children from occupied Mariupol and transferring them for illegal adoptions inside Russia, alongside new efforts to put the children through various cultural re-education programmes. The statements and the most recent allegations will only reinforce the strong stance of Ukrainian public opinion at present to reclaim all of its territories, with the ongoing counteroffensive in Kherson underlining the willingness and capability.
- Further to our report yesterday, a team of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) nuclear inspectors has reportedly departed Kyiv today for the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP) to assess the situation, with President Zelensky stating that Kyiv is doing everything it can to ensure their safety. The team expects to arrive at the plant tomorrow morning, 1 September, with a local Russia-installed official stating that the mission “must see the work of the station in one day”. This seemingly contradicts earlier hopes that the IAEA would establish a permanent mission at the site, and likely indicates the visit will be heavily managed by Russian officials. Nevertheless, Russian provocations remain a realistic possibility during the visit, with the security situation near the plant continuing to remain highly volatile amid almost daily attacks in the area.
Ukraine: Proposal to build vegetable oil supply pipeline to Poland will help ease long-term food insecurity. On 31 August, the Prime Minster’s office in Poland reported plans to construct a pipeline that will transport vegetable oil from Ukraine to Gdańsk port in Poland. Both nations are identifying opportunities for the localisation of the operation and a memorandum of understanding on project preparation has been concluded between both governments. The proposals are a clear attempt by stakeholders to reduce Russia’s ability to disrupt or block the export of vital foodstuffs from Ukraine, which is the biggest exporter of vegetable oil in the world. Although grain shipments are successfully leaving Black Sea ports currently, the stability of the current export agreement is uncertain in the longer term. If created, the pipeline will help alleviate the issue of medium to long-term food insecurity for states heavily reliant upon Ukrainian oil imports.
Today, 31 August, Russia has officially cut off gas supplies via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline for three days of maintenance. The development follows Russia halting gas supplies in July for ten days, also for maintenance, but is on trend with the overall trend of Moscow using energy as a weapon and a way to fragment the EU. With winter approaching, European consumers are facing growing energy bills, with some countries such as France also warning that energy rationing is a realistic possibility. Moscow has insisted that gas flow will resume once the maintenance period is done. However, it remains a realistic possibility that further disruptions due to alleged maintenance issues will occur in the lead-up to winter. As such, pressure on companies to continue cutting their energy consumption will remain elevated. The latest figures showed that in July Germany’s industry used 21.3 percent less gas than the average for the month from 2018 – 2021. Due in part to this reduction in consumption, Germany and the wider EU have today announced that they are near their targets of 80 percent storage gas capacity by 1 October. The EU as a whole has managed to store 80.17 percent, while Germany has reached 83.65 percent capacity ahead of its own 85 percent target for 1 October. While such figures indicate that the EU is ahead of schedule in terms of gas storage ahead of the winter, reaching the next goal of 95 percent capacity by 1 November will likely be difficult and will ultimately remain hostage to Gazprom’s export volumes. Russia could yet completely cut off gas supplies ahead of the winter or extend the Nord Stream 1 maintenance period indefinitely. While this would further drive-up energy prices and hit EU storage volumes, it would also lower Russian export revenues. It may therefore remain in Russia’s interests to steadily decrease export volumes rather than completely shutting them off, allowing Moscow to retain its leverage over the EU during what is set to prove a very challenging heating season for Europe this winter.
- On 29 August, Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command confirmed that the long-awaited counteroffensive in Kherson oblast has now been launched, with Ukrainian forces reportedly attacking multiple points along the Kherson-Mykolaiv and Kherson-Dnipropetrovsk border regions. Ukrainian military officials have claimed limited success over the last 24 hours, with non-Ukrainian sources claiming five settlements have been liberated after Ukrainian forces ‘broke through’ the first line of Russian defences in unspecified locations.
- Russian state media has formally acknowledged the counteroffensive, but denied it has made any progress. Russian milbloggers and other sources have nevertheless reported numerous Ukrainian attacks, indicating the Ukrainians have likely made progress around the bridgehead across the Inhulets River. They have likely also taken ground south of the Kherson-Dnipropetrovsk oblast border and north-west of Kherson city. Ultimately, Ukrainian officials have not provided any details of the counteroffensive, and the information space around the operation is likely to remain confused in the coming days. For further analysis and implications of the counteroffensive, see the Forecast below.
- In eastern Ukraine, Russian offensive operations continued to achieve very little progress between 27-29 August. Russian forces launched limited ground assaults around Siversk as well as along the Izyum-Slovyansk axis, but have made no confirmed progress. Nevertheless, the focus of Russian offensive operations remains on areas to the northeast and south of Bakhmut, as well as west of Donetsk city. Russian and separatist forces continue to fight on the outskirts of Soledar, with Russian sources also claiming to have made progress at the eastern outskirts of Bakhmut itself. Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) forces claimed on 29 August that they had taken the town of Kodema, around 15km southeast of Bakhmut, but there is no evidence to confirm this.
- Meanwhile, assaults have continued around Donetsk city in an attempt to improve Russian tactical positioning, and likely set conditions to flank Avdiivka from the north. In particular, Russian forces appear to have reached the outskirts of Krasnohorivka, some 8km north of Avdiivka, though numerous settlements along this axis remain highly contested, with contradictory Russian and Ukrainian claims confusing the picture on the ground.
- Satellite imagery published last week indicates that Russia’s new 3rd Army Corps has been training with more modern equipment than other newly committed volunteer battalions, indicating Moscow intends to deploy the force to drive a new offensive. The 3rd Army corps has been training near Nizhny Novgorod, with unconfirmed footage showing modern BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles, T-80BVM and T-90M tanks, as well as advanced AK-12 assault rifles. This is in notable contrast to the out-of-date equipment used by other volunteer battalions, some of which have been committed to Ukraine with old T-62s and BMP-1s.
- Social media footage indicates that elements of the 3rd Army Corps are already forward deploying towards the Ukrainian border in Rostov oblast, suggesting Donetsk is the most likely target for a renewed offensive. However, the force is likely to be deployed unevenly and spread across the frontline, diluting its offensive potential. Furthermore, the capability of the new 3rd Army Corps is likely to remain limited given the short training period of recruits, the endemic lack of experienced non-commissioned officers (NCOs), and the seeming physically unfit soldiers shown training on social media. Nevertheless, with the launch of Ukraine’s long-anticipated counteroffensive in Kherson oblast, pressure will likely increase on Russian commanders to deploy the 3rd Army Corps to Donbas quickly, in an attempt to alleviate pressure on Russia’s more vulnerable southern flank.
- On 29 August, 14 international nuclear inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) obtained Russian clearance to examine the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) in Ukraine, with the inspectors now en route. Shelling close to the premises briefly disconnected the facility from Ukraine’s national power grid on 26 August, though the plant was reportedly reconnected later that day. It nevertheless remains highly likely that Russia intends to completely sever the connection in the long term and thereby deprive the power it supplies to Ukraine.
- Both sides continue to accuse each other of provocations and endangering nuclear safety around the area. It remains to be seen whether the IAEA mission will actually be able to fully appraise the safety of the plant, or whether incidents or fighting will indefinitely delay the visit. If it does take place, however, the mission is a positive step amid concerns of a nuclear incident. Officials have been distributing anti-radiation iodine tablets to nearby residents as a precautionary measure, though even in the event of a major escalation, a major nuclear incident remains unlikely. For further analysis on the risk of a nuclear incident, see Sibylline Situation Update Brief – 18 August.
- On 29 August, Iranian and US officials confirmed that Iran delivered the first of two batches of military drones to Russia this month, including seemingly hundreds of Mohajer-6 and Shahed drones. Iranian and Russian relations have strengthened significantly since the beginning of the war, with Iran’s advanced drone programme likely to help Russian forces plug equipment losses and assist offensive operations. Given Iran already remains under tough US sanctions, it remains highly likely that Tehran will continue supplying Russia’s war effort for the foreseeable future.
The beginning of the long-anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kherson oblast will remain the most significant trend to watch in the coming weeks. Ukrainian forces have made some progress along the Kherson-Mykolaiv and Kherson-Dnipropetrovsk oblast border regions, with Ukrainian officials claiming that Kherson city is the principal target of the counteroffensive. Information flows are limited at present, with conflicting reports from Ukrainian and Russian social media. Furthermore, Ukrainian officials refuse to confirm where their forces are attacking. Nevertheless, explosions and gunfire were reported across Kherson city on the morning of 30 August. Russian officials claim that Ukrainian saboteurs were neutralised in the Tavriiskyi neighbourhood of the city, and that the situation is now under control. It is unlikely that Ukrainian regular forces have reached the city already. However, given previous precedents of partisan activity across southern Ukraine, it remains highly likely that Ukrainian partisans will seek to aid the counteroffensive and further undermine Russian logistics and command and control in the coming days and weeks, including inside Kherson. President Zelensky alluded to the counteroffensive in his nightly address on 29 August, calling on Russian forces to leave and vowing to ‘chase’ Russian troops to the border. While details remain limited, senior presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych stated on 30 August that the Ukrainian counteroffensive will be a ‘slow operation to grind the enemy’. This is likely an attempt to set expectations ahead of what will likely prove a very difficult offensive along an axis that has been heavily reinforced and fortified by Russia’s 49th and 35th Combined Arms Armies. Unconfirmed first-hand accounts of Ukrainian soldiers who took part in the opening phase of the counteroffensive support the assessment that Kyiv has achieved some limited successes. However, soldiers also highlighted problems with Ukrainian co-ordination and communications during the first attacks. As previously assessed, Ukrainian forces have trained almost exclusively for defensive operations since 2014, and have little to no experience of complex combined arms offensives. As such, it remains to be seen if Ukrainian forces will be able to build and sustain offensive momentum in the south, despite the degraded state of Russian forces in the region. The timescale for the deployment of Russia’s newly raised 3rd Army Corps will also likely prove an important factor in determining Ukraine’s ability to sustain offensive operations over the coming weeks. It is likely that Russian commanders are under growing pressure to commit elements of the 3rd Army Corps quickly, though a rapid deployment will only reinforce the poor training and lack of experience of new units. Nevertheless, if elements of the 3rd Army Corps are committed to support offensives around Bakhmut and Donetsk, it remains a realistic possibility that Ukrainian units will be forced to redeploy to the east to shore-up their defences. Such a redeployment would alleviate pressure on Russian forces on the western bank of the Dnieper. It would also have a detrimental impact on Ukraine’s ability to sustain momentum around Kherson. This dynamic would only reinforce the attritional nature of the war, which has prevented either side from launching successful large-scale manoeuvres. It therefore remains to be seen whether either side will be able to sustain major offensives during this attritional phase of the war given the relative balance of forces across the frontlines.
Ukraine: IAEA mission to nuclear power plant remains uncertain, though nuclear incident is unlikely. On 29 August, 14 international nuclear inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) obtained permission from Russia to examine the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP). The inspectors are currently en route to the facility. Shelling close to the premises briefly disconnected the plant from Ukraine’s national power grid on 26 August, though it was subsequently reconnected. Both sides continue to accuse each other of increasing the likelihood of a nuclear incident. It remains to be seen whether the IAEA mission will be able to appraise the safety of the plant fully, or whether fighting will indefinitely delay the visit. If the mission does take place, it will constitute a positive step amid heightened concerns about a nuclear incident. Officials have been distributing anti-radiation iodine tablets to nearby residents as a precautionary measure. However, even in the event of an escalation in hostilities, a major nuclear incident remains unlikely.
Russia: Subsidisation plans are unlikely to compensate for lack of Western imports. On 29 August, Russia’s Ministry of Industry and Trade proposed halving insurance premiums for import substitution plans and cutting income tax. The plans aim to encourage the purchase of products, specifically sophisticated technology, through subsidisation. In addition, the department expressed a desire to use special investment contracts in order to guarantee the purchase of manufactured products in Russia. This forms part of Moscow’s latest attempt to shore up its own supply chains and stimulate domestic production amid western sanctions. If approved, the policy would likely come into effect no later than January 2023 and would cause the rate of insurance premiums to drop to 7.6%, though it will do little to address the growing shortages of critical dual-use advanced components supplied by the West.
Montenegro: The threat of Russian state-linked cyber attacks against critical infrastructure will remain high amid the growing polarisation between the pro-EU and pro-Russian Serbs . On 27 August, the Montenegro government claimed that the country’s critical infrastructure was being subjected to an ongoing wave of malicious cyber activity. These cyber attacks are reportedly targeting industries such as electricity, water supply systems, transportation, and the government’s online portals used by citizens for state services. While the success rate of these intrusions remains unclear, the government claimed that several power plants have taken their IT systems offline to contain the spread of these cyber attacks. The country’s Defence Minister said that there is “strong evidence” suggesting that the attacks are being “directed by several Russian services”. Given this evidence and the timing of the cyber attacks, they are likely being launched to express Moscow’s political grievances with Montenegro’s ongoing attempts to join the European Union and tensions between the country’s pro-EU and pro-Russian Serbs. These socio-ethnic tensions are unlikely to dissipate in the foreseeable future given Montenegro’s pro-Russian Serb’s support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As such, further Moscow-directed cyber attacks are highly likely to be launched in support of this pro-Russian group and against Montenegro’s critical infrastructure operators, such as energy. (Source: Sibylline)
03 Sep 22. Russia, West step up energy war as risk of nuclear disaster haunts Ukraine.
- Russia delays pipeline reopening in blow to Europe
- G7 finance chiefs agree on Russian oil price cap
- Ukraine, Russia trade blame over nuclear plant
As UN inspectors sought to avert a nuclear disaster on Ukraine’s frontline, the West and Russia wounded each other’s economies, with Moscow keeping its main gas pipeline to Germany shut on Saturday while threatened with price caps on oil exports.
Russia’s state-controlled energy giant Gazprom (GAZP.MM) blamed a technical fault in the Nord Stream 1 pipeline for the delay on Friday. But the high-level manoeuvres in energy politics were seen as an extension of the war, and the ramifications would be felt far beyond Ukraine.
The announcements came as Moscow and Kyiv traded blame over their actions at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, where U.N. inspectors arrived on Thursday on a mission to help avert a catastrophe.
Vladimir Rogov, a pro-Russian official in the Zaporizhzhia region, said Ukrainian forces had shelled Europe’s largest nuclear plant several times overnight and the main power line to the station had been downed, forcing it to use reserve power sources, as occurred last week.
Reuters could not immediately substantiate his account.
Gazprom’s indefinite delay to resuming gas deliveries will deepen Europe’s problems securing fuel for winter with living costs already surging, led by energy prices.
Nord Stream 1, which runs under the Baltic Sea to supply Germany and others, had been due to resume operating after a three-day halt for maintenance on Saturday at 0100 GMT, but the pipeline operator reported zero flows hours later.
Moscow has blamed sanctions, imposed by the West after Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, for hampering routine operations and maintenance of Nord Stream 1. Brussels and Washington accuse Russia of using gas as an economic weapon.
The United States said it has been collaborating with Europe to ensure sufficient supplies are available for winter. read more
Finance ministers from the Group of Seven wealthy democracies – Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States – said on Friday a cap on the price of Russian oil was meant to “reduce … Russia’s ability to fund its war of aggression whilst limiting the impact of Russia’s war on global energy prices”. read more
The Kremlin – which calls the conflict “a special military operation” – said it would stop selling oil to any countries that implemented the cap.
During the first six months of the war, thousands of people were killed and Ukrainian cities reduced to rubble, and now there is the danger of a nuclear calamity.
A United Nations inspection team, led by its chief Rafael Grossi, braved intense shelling to reach the Zaporizhzhia plant on Thursday. r
Grossi, after returning to Ukrainian-held territory, said the physical integrity of the plant had been violated several times. On Friday he said he said he expects to produce a report early next week, and two experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections team would stay on at the plant for the longer term.
A reactor at the site was reconnected to Ukraine’s grid on Friday, a day after it shut down due to shelling near the site, Ukraine’s state nuclear company Energoatom said. read more
The site sits on the south bank of a huge reservoir on the Dnipro River, 10 km (6 miles) across the water from Ukrainian positions.
Each side has accused the other of shelling near the facility, which is still operated by Ukrainian staff and supplies more than a fifth of Ukraine’s electricity in peacetime. Kyiv also accuses Russia of using it to shield its weapons, which Moscow denies. Russia has so far resisted international calls to pull troops out of the plant and demilitarise the area.
Ukraine’s state nuclear company said Russia had barred the IAEA team from the plant’s crisis centre, where Kyiv says Russian troops are stationed, and that would make it difficult to make an impartial assessment.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged the IAEA team to go further, despite the difficulties.
“Unfortunately we haven’t heard the main thing from the IAEA, which is the call for Russia to demilitarise the station,” Zelenskiy said in a video streamed to a forum in Italy.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said Ukraine was continuing to use weapons from its Western allies to shell the plant. He rejected assertions by Kyiv and the West that Russia had deployed heavy weapons at the plant.
Several towns near the plant came under Russian shelling on Thursday, Zaporizhzhia regional council mayor Mykola Lukashuk said.
Rogov, the pro-Russian official, said Ukrainian forces had shelled Enerhodar, the Russia-held town near the power station. And he repeated accusations that Ukraine had mounted a commando-style raid on the station with speedboats on the river. Ukrainian officials have dismissed this as a fabrication.
Reuters could not verify either side’s reports.
Elsewhere on the frontlines, Ukraine started an offensive this week to recapture territory in southern Ukraine, mainly further down the Dnipro in neighbouring Kherson province.
Both sides have claimed battlefield successes in the initial days of what Ukrainians bill as a potential turning point in the war. Details have been scarce, with Ukrainian officials releasing little information.
Ukraine’s general staff on Friday said Russian forces had shelled dozens of cities and towns including Kharkiv – Ukraine’s second-largest city – in the north and in the Donetsk region in the east.
01 Sept 22. UN inspectors enter Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. IAEA team set to start safety inspection after hours-long delay caused by fighting on front line. A mission from the UN’s atomic safety watchdog arrived at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine on Thursday after fighting along the front lines delayed the delegation for several hours. The International Atomic Energy Agency wrote on Twitter that the “support and assistance mission” led by director-general Rafael Grossi “has just arrived at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant to conduct indispensable nuclear safety and security and safeguards activities”. The team’s arrival at the plant in the Russian-occupied southern town of Energodar followed several tense hours in which the inspectors were held up in a front-line area as gunfire echoed from nearby battles. The mission at the sprawling site is expected to last several days and the IAEA has said it hopes to establish a permanent team at the plant. Russian forces occupied the site, Europe’s largest nuclear power facility, soon after Moscow’s full-blown invasion of Ukraine in February, marking the first time nuclear reactors have been at the centre of a major war. The plant is operated by workers from Ukraine’s Energoatom, the country’s state nuclear power enterprise, but they are now under the control of Russian forces. Both Ukraine and Russia have repeatedly accused each other’s forces of conducting military strikes around the plant, triggering fears of a catastrophic nuclear accident. Ukraine, which has four operating nuclear power stations, is home to the decommissioned Chernobyl plant, site of the world’s worst nuclear accident while under Soviet control in 1986. Earlier, a spokesperson for Grossi told the Financial Times that the IAEA mission had “been delayed on the Ukrainian-controlled side of the front line for some three hours”. Andriy Yermak, chief of staff to Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said that “Russia shelled Energodar and the territory of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant” as the mission was trying to approach. “They want to disrupt the visit of the IAEA mission. These are the actions of a terrorist state afraid of the world learning the truth,” Yermak added. Energoatom said on Thursday that Russian shelling had led it to shut down one of the only two operating reactors at the plant for the second time in 10 days. The plant has six reactors. IAEA inspectors had set off from the Ukrainian-held city of Zaporizhzhia on Thursday morning on their way to Energodar. The mission arrived in Ukraine earlier this week after months of negotiations in which the IAEA sought to secure permission and security guarantees from both warring parties. Recommended News in-depthWar in Ukraine Ukraine tries to sow chaos behind Russian front line Ukraine and its western backers have repeatedly called on Russia to demilitarise the plant and return control to Kyiv. They have accused Russia of basing troops and equipment at the plant and using it as a shield while conducting artillery strikes. The Moscow-based Interfax news agency, citing Russia’s defence ministry, reported on Thursday that a Ukrainian “sabotage group” travelling in boats across the Dnipro river had been destroyed by a helicopter attack after disembarking near the facility. (Source: FT.com)
01 Sep 22. Western Bits in Russian Kit. Russian electronic warfare systems are relying on Western components according to a report from a London think tank. Silicon Lifeline makes for sobering reading. A detailed study by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) published in August, it lays bare the Russian military’s reliance on non-Russian electronics. Electronic Warfare (EW) systems stand out as dependent on electronics produced by third countries. These countries include in Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. Dutch-US, Franco-Italian and Swiss suppliers are also mentioned.
The Russian Army’s Torn-MDM Communications Intelligence (COMINT) system deployed with the force’s reconnaissance battalions may have at least 15 components from British and Japanese firms. These include capacitors, resistors and crystals. Western components from US companies are in the army’s R-330BMV COMINT and Communications Jamming (COMJAM) platform. Parts include analogue to digital converters. Orlan-10 uninhabited aerial vehicles, comprising the army’s RB-341V Leer-3 COMINT/COMJAM system, include Western navigation modules and pressure sensors. More details on the Orlan-10’s concept-of-operations can be found in our Master and Servant article. One can assume other Russian EW systems have a similar reliance on non-Russian electronics.
Analogue-to-digital convertors were discovered in Russian Army R-330BMV COMINT/COMJAM systems. These comprise part of the army’s RB-301B Borisoglebsk-2B EW ensemble.
Sources of supply
Exports of some of these components are covered by national controls on sensitive technologies. The report stresses that the companies may not have willingly supplied export-controlled parts. Nonetheless, RUSI’s revelations beg the question as to how they found their way into these Russian systems.
The report says that some components can be purchased through legitimate commercial channels, particularly if they are not covered by any national or international legal restrictions. Other components may now be controlled but might have been purchased before their sale to Russia was restricted. Current international sanctions against Russia were imposed after her invasion of southern Crimea in February 2014. Thirdly, and more nefariously, these components may have been fraudulently or illegally acquired by unscrupulous dealers. Likewise, components may have been legitimately purchased by a third country and then be exported to Russia.
Why have these components ended up in Russian kit, and what does this say about the health of the Russian electronics industry? Gary Somerville, RUSI research fellow for open-source intelligence and analysis and one of the report’s authors, told Armada that the systems examined also included scores of components produced by Russian manufactures. “What we realised is that the critical components are coming from non-Russian suppliers”. These “include export-controlled components from the United States”.
The RUSI report posits that “in order for Russian weapons to use foreign-sourced components, it is necessary for the manufacturer to justify to the Russian Ministry of Defence why the specific component must be used”. It continues that “(t)he manufacturer must explain why it cannot be made in Russia economically, why an alternative component from a friendly country cannot be substituted and why the introduction of the component does not compromise the security of the device”.
The document concludes that the foreign components it has flagged “are for the most part critical to the viability of these systems”. Have Russian EW manufacturers satisfied all these Russian government criteria? If so, what does this say about the Russian electronics industry’s ability to realise these components? Mr. Somerville says this indicates that “Russia may not have the capability to reproduce components to the same level of sophistication and at the same volume” as those she sources from third countries. “Either they cannot produce them domestically, or it may be easier and cheaper to procure them from abroad and ship them to Russia”.
It is difficult to escape the conclusion that the Russian defence electronics industry is dependent on these components to build sophisticated EW systems. Perhaps the Russian electronics industry is simply unwilling or unable to produce these components? If so, this represents a glaring capability gap the West and its allies can exploit as a Clausewitzian centre-of-gravity.
Nonetheless, Russia may have accrued significant stockpiles of the vital components she needs for these EW systems. There is no way of knowing the quantity of these components Russian manufacturers may have stockpiled. The conditions of their storage are also unknown: “If components are not stored in the right way, they can degrade, for example if they are stored in an environment with lots of moisture” says Mr. Somerville.
One cause of optimism is the fact that several of the components examined by Mr. Somerville and his colleagues “are dated from the late 1980s/early 1990s”. The use of these comparatively old components in some systems maybe a way of clearing legacy stocks. This would allow newer electronics can be added to EW systems when needed.
On the one hand, domestic legislation and international regimes controlling the movement of advanced electronics into Russia must be tightened. Russia may have stockpiled electronics to cope with precisely this course of action, but it is still worth choking the supply where possible. Nations which knowingly act as third parties letting these components reach Russia must suffer punishment. At the same time, as the report notes, countries around the world like India are dependent on Russian arms. They may balk to losing their supply of Russian technology. This could generate anger against the West if this course of action is perceived as affecting their security.
Nonetheless, this may present an opportunity. Where possible Western and allied suppliers could step in to offer equivalent, if not superior, materiel to fill any gaps. This may have the added benefit of deepening strategic alliances while benefitting Western and allied defence companies. (Source: Armada)
01 Sep 22. Master and Servant. New information on the Russian Army’s Orlan-10 UAVs’ vulnerability to electronic warfare has come to light.
Sources involved with Ukrainian Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle (UAV) operations told Armada that the Russian Army’s Orlan-10 UAVs tend to use frequencies of 930 megahertz/MHz. Radio transmissions on this frequency links the UAV to its operators on the ground.
The source continued that Orlan-10 UAVs typically deploy in three-ship formations. One ‘master’ aircraft uses the 930MHz radio link to connect with the pilot on the ground. The other two ‘servant’ aircraft each carry a mission payload and are linked by radio to the master. Commands from the pilot to these two UAVs are relayed by the master aircraft.
The master UAV typically flies above the two servant aircraft placing it beyond the reach of short-range air defence systems like the Raytheon FIM-92 Stinger missiles the US has supplied to Ukraine. Open sources say this weapon has a range of up to 2.6 nautical miles (4.8 kilometres). Its maximum engagement altitude is reportedly 12.467 feet/ft (3,800 metres/m). The Orlan-10 has a maximum altitude of 16,000ft (5,000m) according to open sources.
Concept of Operations
The source added that the two servant UAVs each carry distinct payloads. One is equipped with an optronics payload to visually hunt targets for Russian artillery. The other carries a Communications Intelligence (COMINT) payload.
Orlan-10 aircraft form part of the Russian Army’s RB-314V Leer-3 electronic warfare system. As previously profiled by Armada, the Leer-3 is deployed with Russian Army EW brigades. One system equips each brigade which provides operational-level electronic warfare to the army. The Leer-3 is believed capable of detecting and jamming signals across a 30 megahertz to three gigahertz waveband. The system detects and jams cellphone traffic, and can infect that traffic with fake text messages.
The source said that Orlan-10 aircraft configured for COMINT prioritise the detection of transmissions from Baofeng civilian handheld radios. These typically transmit in very/ultra-high frequencies of 30MHz to three gigahertz, squarely within the Orlan-10’s remit. Although Russia’s use of Baofeng radios was documented at the start of the conflict, they may also be used by Ukrainian troops. Given the Orlan-10’s competence, the latter would be strongly advised to reduce dependency on these radios.
The imagery intelligence and SIGINT is transmitted to the master aircraft which sends it to the operator on the ground. This information is correlated and target coordinates are sent to Russian Army artillery. The source said that “rounds are delivered within ten minutes of targets being identified by a three-ship (Orlan-10) flight”.
The good news is that these Orlan-10 formations are not invulnerable. The 930MHz link connecting the master aircraft with the pilot on the ground is vulnerable to jamming. Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) 1.1GHz to 1.6GHz signals are also vulnerable to attack. A holistic approach to engaging these aircraft hold promise. An Electronic Support Measure (ESM) can passively detect the 930MHz link and GNSS signals. These signals can be jammed and at least one of the three-ship formation attacked kinetically.
The wreckage of an Orlan-10 UAV shot down by Ukranian forces. These aircraft are thought to operate in three ship formations using imagery and COMINT to locate targets for Russian Army artillery.
“If one payload UAV is taken down, the entire fleet returns to base,” the source advised. From a force economy perspective, this is handy for the Ukrainians. Destroying one aircraft takes all three out of the fight. If the ESM can locate the UAV pilot’s position it may be possible to kill them with artillery.
If Ukraine is to defeat Russia’s invasion and occupation, she must fight imaginatively and asymmetrically. Russian Army UAV pilots, ground control systems and aircraft will be finite resources, becoming scarcer as sanctions against Russia tighten the supply of foreign components needed for her materiel. Our Western Bits in Russian Kit article explains Russia’s dependence on western electronics. This is particularly apparent in Russian communications and EW systems. As the articles show, the Orlan-10 also relies on western components. Killing as many UAV pilots as possible should help damage morale, dissuading other soldiers from taking up this career. (Source: Armada)
01 Sep 22. Sweden sends artillery ammunition worth $46.86m to Ukraine. The country also plans to provide Ukraine with Archer artillery and RBS70 air defence systems. The Swedish Government has provided additional artillery ammunition worth $46.86m (Skr500m) to strengthen the capabilities of Ukrainian troops.
According to Swedish Foreign Affairs Minister Ann Linde, the aid is the country’s seventh military package to support the war-torn country.
In a Twitter post, the minister also said the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) and armed forces will explore the possibility of providing Ukraine with the Archer artillery system, the RBS70 air defence system, and other equipment.
In response, Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov thanked the Foreign Affairs Minister and Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist for the aid package.
“Great news from Sweden: seventh military package with artillery ammo will strengthen #UAarmy. Together we will restore peace and security in Europe,” Reznikov tweeted.
The latest assistance follows Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson’s recent announcement to commit $93.59m (Skr1bn) in additional military and civilian aid for Ukraine.
The decision was in response to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba’s request to provide the country with weapons, including howitzers and shells.
US Defense Acquisition and Sustainment Undersecretary William LaPlante said National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) will enhance Ukraine’s defence capabilities to counter uncrewed aerial vehicles, helicopters, and cruise missiles.
The NASAMS is part of the third Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) package, worth $820m. The package also includes over 150,000 rounds of 155mm artillery ammunition, and four counter-artillery radars.
The US Army recently awarded a not-to-exceed letter contract to Raytheon Technologies’ Raytheon Missiles and Defense in this regard.
Valued at $182m, the contract requires the company to deliver two NASAMS batteries, and training and logistical support to Ukrainian military and security forces.
LaPlante said: “NASAMS are just the latest in the diverse set of air defence capabilities we are delivering to Ukraine.” (Source: army-technology.com)
01 Sep 22. Russians Spied on Ukrainian Soldiers Training in Germany.
German security forces have ‘indications’ that Russian secret services used small commercial drones to spy on Ukrainian soldiers who are in Germany to receive training on Western weapons, Spiegel magazine reports.
German military forces have spotted suspicious vehicles outside two sites where Ukrainian recruits were being trained. Small drones were also used to fly over the training sites before quickly disappearing, Spiegel said, without citing its sources.
The two affected locations are Idar-Oberstein in the western state of Rhineland Palatinate where Ukrainian soldiers are being trained to use the tank howitzer 2000 and Grafenwoehr in Bavaria where the US army is teaching Ukrainians to use Western artillery systems.
Security sources also believe that Russian services used scanners in a bid to access mobile phone data of Ukrainian soldiers, said the magazine.
Germany has put several suspects on trial for spying for Russia. Last year, a German court sentenced a Russian man to life in prison for shooting dead a former Chechen commander in a Berlin park in broad daylight, a murder prosecutors say Moscow ordered. A German man is currently on trial for allegedly passing information to Russian intelligence services while working as a reserve officer for the German army. (Source: UAS VISION/The Defense Post)
01 Sep 22. Kyiv launches ‘intensive long-range strikes’ against Russian command posts
Ukrainian forces have launched “intensive long-range strikes against Russian command”, according to the latest update from Britain’s Ministry of Defence.
The strikes are part of Ukraine’s counter-offensive operations in the south of the country, the MoD said in a tweet, targeting both command and logistics positions.
Ukraine has also begun deployong “high speed anti-radiation missiles (HARMs)” which are designed to locate and destroy Russian radar equipment. Kremlin commanders have previously stated they have recovered fragments of this type of weaponary. (Source: Daily Telegraph)
01 Sep 22. U.S., Denmark Like-Minded on Ukraine Aid. During a Pentagon meeting, Denmark’s Defense Minister Morten Bodskov thanked Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III for his leadership in the effort to aid Ukraine as it struggles against Russia.
For his part, Austin noted that Denmark is in step with the United States in providing arms, supplies and training to Ukraine.
The Scandinavian country — one of the founding members of NATO — is also providing troops and equipment to alliance deterrence forces in Latvia and Estonia, the secretary said.
“Today, we proudly stand with you in the face of Russian aggression that threatens Europe’s freedom and security,” Austin said. “Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine continues to be reckless and cruel. So, Mr. Minister, I want to thank you for everything that you’re doing to support the Ukrainian people.”
Denmark and the United States are also working on a bilateral defense cooperation agreement that should deepen the relationship between the two nations, Bodskov said.
The Danish defense minister made the point that U.S. military presence in Europe is vital for peace, prosperity and stability. “This is not something we should take for granted,” he said. “But what you can take for granted is that the United States can count on Denmark and our willingness to take responsibility for the challenge that we’re facing.” (Source: US DoD)
31 Aug 22. Missile Systems Contract Will Aid Ukraine. Defense officials said the purchase of National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems announced last week is expected to bolster Ukraine’s defense against advanced aerial threats, including unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopters and cruise missiles. The Army awarded a not-to-exceed letter contract for $182m on Aug. 26 to Raytheon Missiles and Defense for delivery of two NASAMS batteries, training and logistical support to Ukraine’s military and security forces. Not to exceed contracts are limited to a maximum price and compensate the contractor for actual costs incurred, plus a fixed fee.
“NASAMS are just the latest in the diverse set of air defense capabilities we are delivering to Ukraine,” Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment William A. LaPlante said. “These are proven systems that will make a real difference in the battlefield,” he added.
“Acquisition speed and agility is a top priority,” said Douglas R. Bush, the Army’s assistant secretary for acquisition, logistics and technology. “The rapid award of this contract is another example of the Army’s ability to accelerate the delivery of critical capabilities through our industry partners to our allies,” he said.
The procurement is part of the third Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative package, announced on July 1, which committed $820m in security assistance to Ukraine. This USAI package also included up to 150,000 rounds of 155mm artillery ammunition and four counter-artillery radars.
USAI is an authority under which the U.S. procures capabilities from industry rather than delivering equipment that is drawn down from Defense Department stocks.
This effort was led by the Army’s Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space, in partnership with components across the DOD. (Source: US DoD)
31 Aug 22. Germany ramps up military exports, mainly to arm Ukraine. German exports of military equipment have surged so far this year as Berlin supplies arms to Ukraine to help it defend itself against Russia’s attack, the Economy Ministry said on Wednesday. By Aug. 24, the value of authorised military exports totalled just under 5.1bn euros ($5.11bn), up from some 2.9bn euros at the same time last year, the ministry said.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz vowed on Monday that Germany will keep up its support for Ukraine “for as long as it takes”. read more
Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 for what it calls a “special military operation” to demilitarise its neighbour.
Ukraine and the West describe it as an unprovoked war of aggression that has killed thousands, displaced millions, created food shortages and pushed up energy prices amid unprecedented Western sanctions. ($1 = 0.9983 euros) (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Reuters)
31 Aug 22. Ukraine makes push along entire front, Zelenskiy says, as Russia halts gas.
- Zelenskiy says engagement on whole front
- Russia says its forces rout Ukrainians
- IAEA team sets off from Kyiv for nuclear plant
- Flow of Russian gas drops to zero in pipe to Germany
Ukrainian troops have attacked Russian positions along the entire front, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said, while Russia halted gas supplies via a major pipeline to Germany citing the need for maintenance.
Separately, a team from the U.N. nuclear watchdog set off from Kyiv towards the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine’s south to assess any damage after shelling nearby sparked fears of a radiation disaster.
Ukraine, armed with sophisticated Western-supplied weapons, launched a fresh push this week to reclaim territory in its south. Zelenskiy, who urged Russian soldiers to flee for their lives, said his forces were also on the offensive in the east.
“Active military engagement is now happening along the whole front line: in the south, in the Kharkiv region, in Donbas,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly address on Tuesday.
Russia captured large tracts of southern Ukraine near the Black Sea coast in the early weeks of the six-month-old war, including in the Kherson region, which lies north of the Russian-annexed Crimean Peninsula.
Ukraine sees recapturing the region as crucial to prevent Russian attempts to seize more territory further west that could eventually cut off its access to the Black Sea.
Kyiv has released few details of the offensive.
Britain, an ally of Ukraine, said on Tuesday Ukrainian forces had stepped up its artillery barrage across the southern front, but that it was not possible to confirm the extent of its territorial advances.
Unverified reports, images and footage on social media suggested Ukrainian forces may have taken back some villages and destroyed some Russian targets in the south.
Russia’s defence ministry, however, said its troops had routed Ukrainian forces, adding that air defence units had shot down dozens of missiles near Kherson.
Russia is methodically pressing on with its plans in Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday.
“All of our goals will be reached,” he said.
Reuters could not verify the battlefield reports.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, captured by Russian troops in March but still manned by Ukrainian staff, has been a hotspot in the conflict with both sides trading blame for shelling in the vicinity.
“The situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and in Enerhodar and surrounding areas remains extremely dangerous,” Zelenskiy said. “The risk of a radiation disaster due to Russian actions does not decrease for an hour.”
The Russian defence ministry, however, said radiation levels were normal at the plant, Europe’s largest.
The Interfax news agency quoted a Russian-appointed Zaporizhzhia government official as saying on Wednesday that two of the plant’s six reactors were running.
The mission from the U.N. nuclear watchdog, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), led by its chief, Rafael Grossi, is expected to visit the plant this week for inspections.
“We are now finally moving after six months of strenuous efforts,” Grossi said before the IAEA convoy set off from Kyiv, adding they planned to spend a few days at the site.
“We have a very important task there to perform – to assess the real situations there, to help stabilise the situation as much as we can,” he told reporters.
Yevgeny Balitsky, the head of the Russian-installed administration, earlier told Interfax that the IAEA inspectors “must see the work of the station in one day”.
Ukraine on Tuesday accused Russia of shelling a corridor that IAEA officials would need to use to reach the plant in an effort to get them to travel via Russian-annexed Crimea instead.
There was no immediate response from Moscow.
Ukraine’s military said on Wednesday Russian forces were using tanks, rockets and artillery along a contact line in the area.
FLOW TO ZERO
Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 for what it calls a “special military operation” to demilitarise its neighbour.
Ukraine and the West describe it as an unprovoked war of aggression that has killed thousands, displaced millions, created food shortages and pushed up energy prices amid unprecedented Western sanctions.
Natural gas prices have soared in Europe to all-time highs as Russia has been pumping gas via Nord Stream 1 pipeline at only 20% of capacity, citing equipment problems.
On Wednesday, flows fell to zero in the pipeline to Germany via the Baltic Sea, as Russia’s Gazprom shut it for maintenance.
The state energy giant (GAZP.MM) has said the latest 72-hour shutdown was needed for maintenance on the pipeline’s only remaining compressor. Germany has said there were no technical issues.
European governments fear Russia could extend the outage in retaliation for sanctions imposed on it and have accused President Vladimir Putin of using energy supplies as a weapon.
Russia has denied that and blames sanctions for the drop in exports.
France’s energy minister said Gazprom was using an excuse to switch off gas deliveries to its French contractor but added that France had anticipated the loss of supply.
Gazprom said earlier it was suspending gas deliveries to French utility Engie (ENGIE.PA) citing a dispute over payments. (Source: Reuters)
30 Aug 22. Latvia ships more military and humanitarian aid for Ukrainians
The package comprises donations from companies, citizens, ‘Entrepreneurs for Peace’, and the armed forces. The Latvian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced the delivery of additional military and humanitarian assistance to support Ukrainians.
Defence Ministry parliamentary secretary Baiba Bļodniece and international military-religious cooperation senior expert Elmārs Pļaviņš handed over the aid package to the relevant authorities during their visit to Ukraine.
The package comprised donations from Latvian companies, citizens, and ‘Entrepreneurs for Peace’ movements, as well as the country’s armed forces. The latest assistance includes warm tactical clothing, shoes, and equipment for soldiers, SUVs, and military equipment.
Pļaviņš said the vehicles delivered to Ukraine will support the Ukrainian Armed Forces and National Guard units.
The country also shipped cars to be used by state bodies to enable the transportation of foreign aid to necessary places.
In collaboration with the ‘Entrepreneurs for Peace’, the Latvian MoD is collecting donations worth over €7m.
The package will include military vehicles, body armours, armoured ambulances, binoculars, and night vision equipment, among others, for the Ukrainian armed forces. (Source: army-technology.com)
30 Aug 22. Zelenskiy urges Russians to ‘go home’ as Ukraine presses offensive in south.
- ‘Ukraine is taking back its own’ – Zelenskiy
- Russia says Ukraine suffered significant casualties
- Ukraine shelling knocks out power in Russian-held town- RIA
- IAEA mission hopes to defuse nuclear plant tensions
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has urged Russian troops to flee for their lives as his forces launched an offensive near the city of Kherson, saying Ukraine’s military were taking back their territory though Russia said the assault had failed.
Ukraine’s offensive in the south comes after weeks of a stalemate in a war that has killed thousands, displaced ms, destroyed cities and caused a global energy and food crisis amid unprecedented economic sanctions.
It has also fuelled worries of a radiation disaster being triggered by shelling of the south Ukraine Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, where Russian authorities on Tuesday reported artillery strikes near a spent fuel storage building.
Zelenskiy, in his nightly address late on Monday, vowed that Ukrainian troops would chase the Russian army “to the border”.
“If they want to survive – it’s time for the Russian military to run away. Go home,” he said.
“Ukraine is taking back its own,” Zelenskiy said.
Oleksiy Arestovych, a senior adviser to Zelenskiy, commenting on the offensive in the Kherson region, said Russian defences had been “broken through in a few hours”.
Ukrainian forces were shelling ferries that Russia was using to supply a pocket of territory on the west bank of the Dnipro river in the Kherson region, he added.
Britain’s defence ministry said Ukrainian forces had increased their artillery fire across the south and their long-range precision strikes were disrupting Russian resupplies.
Ukraine’s Suspilne public broadcaster reported explosions in the Kherson area on Tuesday and city residents reported in social media posts gunfire and explosions but said it was not clear who was firing.
Ukraine’s military general staff, in an early Tuesday update, reported clashes in various parts of the country but gave no information on the Kherson offensive.
Russia’s defence ministry said Ukrainian troops had attempted an offensive in the Mykolaiv and Kherson regions but sustained significant casualties, RIA news agency reported.
The “enemy’s offensive attempt failed miserably”, it said.
But a Ukrainian barrage of rockets left the Russian-occupied town of Nova Kakhovka without water or power, officials at the Russian-appointed authority told RIA news agency. Reuters could not verify the battlefield reports. (Source: Reuters)
29 Aug 22. Ukraine says push against Russian forces near Kherson has begun. Kyiv says it has launched ‘massive attacks’ on military infrastructure in effort to reverse territorial gains. Ukraine said it had launched a counter-offensive against Russian forces near the southern city of Kherson in an attempt to reverse some of Moscow’s biggest territorial gains six months into its full-scale invasion. A senior Ukrainian government adviser confirmed that Kyiv had begun a major operation aimed at retaking the strategically important city captured by Russian forces early in the war. “The next phase of the counteroffensive is starting,” the adviser said. “It started with massive attacks on Russian military infrastructure and logistics.” The long-anticipated assault on Russia’s forces is aimed at recapturing territory Moscow seized in the war’s early weeks, when its troops swarmed in from the Crimean peninsula to the south. Over the past two months, Ukraine has carried out dozens of strikes on Russian supply lines and infrastructure supporting Moscow’s occupation of the region. Key to that effort is Ukraine’s deployment of western weaponry such as US-made Himars, truck-mounted guided missile launchers whose attack range of up to 80km has greatly increased the country’s ability to strike far behind enemy lines. Ukraine’s Centre for Strategic Communication and Information Security wrote on Twitter that the country’s armed forces had “breached the occupiers’ first line of defence near Kherson”, the only provincial capital Russia has captured since President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion in February. “Ukraine has a real chance to get back its occupied territories, especially considering the very successful use of western weapons by the Ukrainian army,” it added. Recommended News in-depthWar in Ukraine ‘Russification’ erodes Ukraine’s sovereignty in occupied Kherson Kherson, a mostly flat province on the delta where the Dnipro river flows into the Black Sea, has strategic importance for Russia as a “land bridge” to Crimea, which it annexed from Ukraine in 2014. Andriy Yermak, chief of staff of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, wrote on Telegram that the country’s military was “grinding down the enemy”, and that “Kherson lay ahead”. Andriy Zagorodnyuk, a former Ukrainian defence minister and chair of the Centre for Defense Strategies think-tank, said the move on Kherson was part of “a larger push of Ukraine’s military to liberate the city”. “Ukraine certainly plans to return Kherson in a very near future,” Zagorodnyuk said. “It’s a complex task including multiple forces, tactical activities, which had needed patience and time to prepare.” (Source: FT.com)
29 Aug 22. IAEA mission heads to Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant; Russia pounds Donbas.
- IAEA mission to visit Zaporizhzhia plant this week
- Agency chief Grossi heading mission
- Russian strikes kill eight civilians in Donetsk -governor
A team from the U.N. nuclear watchdog was on its way on Monday to Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, the agency’s chief said, as Russia and Ukraine traded accusations of shelling in its vicinity, fuelling fears of a radiation disaster.
Captured by Russian troops in March but run by Ukrainian staff, Zaporizhzhia has been a hotspot in a conflict that has settled into a war of attrition fought mainly in Ukraine’s east and south six months after Russia launched its invasion.
“We must protect the safety and security of Ukraine’s and Europe’s biggest nuclear facility,” Rafael Grossi, chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said in a post on Twitter.
An IAEA team he was leading was on its way to the south Ukraine plant and would arrive later this week, Grossi said.
The United Nations and Ukraine have called for a withdrawal of military equipment and personnel from the nuclear power plant to ensure it is not a target.
The two sides have for days exchanged accusations of courting disaster with their attacks.
With fears mounting of a nuclear accident in a country still haunted by the Chernobyl disaster, Zaporizhzhia authorities are handing out iodine tablets and teaching residents how to use them in case of a radiation leak.
Russian forces fired at Enerhodar, the city where the plant is located, the chief of staff of Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said late on Sunday on his Telegram channel alongside a video of fire fighters dousing burning cars.
“They provoke and try to blackmail the world,” Andriy Yermak said.
Ukraine’s military earlier reported shelling of nine more towns on the opposite side of the Dnipro river.
Russia’s defence ministry reported more Ukrainian shelling at the plant over the weekend.
Nine shells fired by the Ukrainian artillery landed in the plant’s grounds, Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.
“At present, full-time technical personnel are monitoring the technical condition of the nuclear plant and ensuring its operation. The radiation situation in the area of the nuclear power plant remains normal,” he said in a statement.
The Russian state news agency cited authorities as saying they had downed a Ukrainian drone which planned to attack the nuclear-waste storage facility at the plant.
Two of the plant’s reactors were cut off from the electrical grid last week due to shelling.
Ukrainian nuclear company Energoatom said it had no new information about attacks on the plant and Reuters could not verify the accounts.
The U.S. State Department said on Sunday that Russia did not want to acknowledge the grave radiological risk at plant and had blocked a draft agreement on nuclear non-proliferation because it mentioned such risk.
‘ANSWER FOR ATTACKS’
Ukrainian officials said Russian forces also kept up their shelling in the Donbas, Ukraine’s industrial heartland in its east.
Zelenskiy, in a video address late on Sunday, vowed “the occupiers will feel their consequences – in the further actions of our defenders”.
“No terrorist will be left without an answer for attacks on our cities. Zaporizhzhia, Orykhiv, Kharkiv, Donbas – they will receive an answer for all of them,” he added.
Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 in what it called a “special military operation” saying it had to demilitarise its southern neighbour. Ukraine and its Western allies have dismissed this as a baseless pretext for war.
The invasion of Ukraine has touched off Europe’s most devastating conflict since World War Two.
Thousands of people have been killed, ms displaced and cities blasted to ruins. The war has also threatened the global economy with an energy and food supply crisis.
Russian shelling has displaced more civilians in the east, where three quarters of the population has fled the front-line region of Donetsk, the regional governor has said.
In Donetsk, Russian forces shelled military and civilian infrastructure near Bakhmut, Shumy, Yakovlivka, Zaytsevo, and Kodema, Ukraine’s military said early on Monday.
Russian strikes killed eight civilians in the Donetsk region on Sunday, the region’s governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said.
Russia denies targeting civilians.
The United States and its allies have imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia for its invasion and sent bns of dollars in security assistance to the Ukrainian government.
Russia has said sanctions will never make it change its position and Western arms supplies only drag out the conflict.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba will travel to Sweden and Czech Republic this week and push for more sanctions on Russia, including an EU-wide visa ban for Russians.
European Union foreign ministers meeting this week are unlikely to unanimously back a visa ban on all Russians, EU foreign policy chief told Austria’s ORF TV. (Source: Reuters)
29 Aug 22. BIS Lists Milestones in Implementing Measures Against Russia and Belarus. Since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has issued a press release noting its leading role in the Biden Administration’s comprehensive response in support of Ukraine by restricting trade in commodities, software, and technologies that have military and civilian uses. Specifically, since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, BIS has:
- Issued over a dozen regulations imposing expansive export controls resulting in a decrease of 97 percent by value of U.S. exports of items—including high tech, industrial, and luxury goods—subject to new controls to Russia and Belarus (February 24-August 12, 2022 compared to same time period in 2021).
- Built a coalition of 37 allies and partners that have implemented substantially similar controls including Australia, Canada, the 27 member states of the European Union (EU), Iceland, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
- Expedited license approvals cumulatively valued at over $1 bn in items to support Ukraine’s defense including firearms, ammunition, night vision goggles, and protective equipment such as ballistic helmets, body armor, and other items subject to Commerce’s jurisdiction.
- Prevented over 100 shipments to Russia and Belarus.
- Detained or seized 244 shipments, totaling more than $93 m.
- Added 335 total parties to the Entity List for supporting Russia’s military, including 8 for seeking to supply Russia’s military after the implementation of new controls (“backfilling”).
- Taken joint actions with the U.S. Department of Justice against Russian oligarchs Roman Abramovich and Andrei Skoch.
- Issued 9 Temporary Denial Orders (TDOs) against some of Russia and Belarus’s largest commercial and cargo airlines.
- Issued the first joint alert with the Department of the Treasury’s FinCEN urging financial institutions to conduct additional due diligence and outlining potential red flags and historical transshipment points for Russian diversion of U.S. technologies and other items.
- Publicly released and maintained a list of commercial and private aircraft operating in likely violation of U.S export control laws.
28 Aug 22. Ukraine risks heavy losses if counter-attack is launched before major firepower is in place. Military leaders say they need more artillery before launching eagerly anticipated Kherson counter-offensive
Phoenix arose bleary-eyed at 10am on Friday and downed a Hell energy drink, just three hours after coming off duty from the night before.
Standing outside a destroyed school, the 25-year-old explained that his mission has remained the same since March, when Ukrainian forces had driven the Russians out of this village some 20 miles equidistant from the southern cities of Mykolaiv and Kherson.
“We will liberate Kherson, that’s not an expectation but a certainty,” said the blonde soldier, whose call sign stemmed from the tattoo on his left forearm. “But we won’t make a counter-offensive until we have more artillery.”
For Ukrainian forces fighting in the seventh month since the Russian invasion, Kherson holds symbolic and strategic importance.
While Western allies and the Kyiv government are eager for the highly anticipated counter-offensive to begin, military leaders want to build up overwhelming forces and firepower before an advance.
“We need more artillery support and only after that can we advance,” Phoenix said.
A soldier’s helmet and rifle in an observation post CREDIT: Oliver Marsden.
It’s easy to see why. This southern farmland upon which Ukrainian forces halted the Russian march westwards is open for miles: a patchwork of featureless fields and shelter belts, hardly ideal for defence but no cakewalk to capture from reinforced positions either.
As on much of the front line between Ukrainian and Russian forces, it has been months since either side made any significant gains here, despite constant heavy fighting.
Ukrainian forces initially held off the Russian advance on the outskirts of Kherson, 90 miles to the west. But outflanked and encircled by Russian troops they were forced to break out, abandoning the city to consolidate their defences further west.
A port city of a quarter of a m inhabitants on the right bank of the lower Dnipro river, Kherson was the first major city and only regional capital to have fallen to Russian forces since the February invasion. Russian forces appear more vulnerable here than on other fronts, with an estimated 20,000 troops in a pocket west of the river reliant on three bridges for resupply.
Recapturing Kherson would prove to Ukrainians in other occupied cities that they can yet be liberated. And an advance here could also reassure Western allies who, facing surging energy prices and rising inflation at home, may tire of providing costly support to a war that threatens to develop into a grinding stalemate. (Source: Daily Telegraph)
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