Sponsored by Exensor
Military and security developments
- Over the last 24 hours, Ukrainian and Russian forces have continued to fight over largely contested territory on the eastern bank of the Oskil River. The Ukrainian General Staff claimed on 22 September that their forces repelled another Russian attack near Kupiansk, indicating that the Russians continue to launch spoiling attacks to undermine Ukrainian consolidation of the area. Russian sources have also claimed that Ukrainian forces have advanced east of Dvorichna and that fighting is ongoing in Tavil’zhanka, to the east. Dvorichna is located 17km north of Kupiansk, and like Kupiansk controls a river crossing across the Oskil.
- Further south, Ukrainian forces are also making slow but steady progress around Lyman. While unconfirmed, Russian sources have over the last 24-48 hours reported on various limited Ukrainian advances to the north and west of Lyman, including reports that they have broken through Russian defences around Korovii Yar (22km northwest of Lyman). This suggests that Ukrainian forces have taken the villages of Yatskivka, Rubtsi and Lozove to the north and that they are now pushing south towards Lyman to support the building encirclement around the town.
- Russian forces further south have meanwhile continued limited offensive action to the east of Bakhmut. While the Ukrainian General Staff reported on 22 September that their forces repelled Russian attacks around Zaitseve, 8km south of Bakhmut, Russian sources have claimed that Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) forces have made some progress and have taken Zhovanka, 20km south of Bakhmut. Other Russian sources also claimed on 22 September that Ukrainian forces have conducted an organised withdrawal from the eastern outskirts of Bakhmut. However, these claims remain unconfirmed.
- There are few major developments to report on the Kherson front, given Ukraine’s operational silence and limited reports from unofficial Ukrainian and Russian sources over the last 24 hours. The majority of confirmed activity on the southern axis remained long-range artillery and missile strikes, interdicting ground lines of communication on both sides. One notable development was the discovery of the wreckage of an Iranian-made Shahed-136 kamikaze UAV near Nikopol, confirming the deployment of recently purchased Iranian systems in Ukraine.
- Ukraine-Russia: Referenda will provide legal pretext for Russian use of tactical nuclear weapons. Voting began on 23 September in four occupied Ukrainian oblasts as part of a series of referenda on joining the Russian Federation. The referenda will be staged between 23 and 27 September in Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia oblasts by the Moscow-imposed authorities. Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has already condemned the vote. The rushed decision to hold the referenda comes after Ukraine’s Kharkiv counter-offensive, which has placed Russian forces decidedly on the defensive. The votes will almost certainly result in overwhelming ‘support’ for joining Russia. Designating these areas as Russian territory will provide a legal pretext for not only the deployment of conscripts to the frontline, but also the use of tactical nuclear weapons in order to defend ‘Russian’ territory. Although the threat of tactical nuclear weapons remains low, it will increase due to the referenda, particularly if Ukraine inflicts further defeats against Russian forces this winter.
- It is increasingly clear that the Kremlin’s pledge that mobilisation will only apply to 300,000 reservists with military experience is not accurate, with widespread reports of individuals being handed mobilisation papers under various pretexts. Over the last 24-48 hours there have been numerous accounts of individuals without military experience being given mobilisation orders, including reports of Rosgvardia officers pulling university students out of lessons in Buryatia. This stands in direct contradiction to Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu’s pledge that students would not be impacted by mobilisation.
- In addition, there have been numerous reports of anti-mobilisation protesters being handed mobilisation orders while in detention, something the Kremlin affirmed was perfectly legal. Analysis of the arrests on 21 September by Russian human rights outlet OVD-Info maintains that just over half of those detained were women, making it the biggest anti-government protest by share of women in recent Russian history. The government has now stated that refusing the draft carries a 15-year jail term. Given the growing scrutiny on military-aged men and the attendant risks of major prison terms if detained, women are likely to play an increasingly prominent role in protesting mobilisation.
- As previously assessed, ethnic minorities will continue to be most heavily impacted by the mobilisation. Current Time reported on 22 September that in the Buryatian village of Kurumkan, some 700 men were given mobilisation orders, out of a total population of 5,500. If confirmed, this would mean some 25 percent of the adult male population has been drafted in a majority Buryat village – a clear indication of the disproportionate burden being placed on ethnic minorities across the Russian Federation.
- However, latent resistance to mobilisation is also materialising in other ethnic minority areas, especially in the North Caucasus. On 23 September, anti-draft protestors in Dagestan blocked a highway, causing a substantial amount of traffic on a highway running through the republic. Anti-draft demonstrators have also protested in neighbouring Kabardino-Balkaria and Chechnya. Notably, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov stated on 22 September that mobilisation does not extend to Chechnya because the republic has already allegedly ‘exceeded its targets’ in terms of supplying troops for the war in Ukraine. Despite his statement, some Chechen activists have reportedly been detained in the last 24 hours.
- The Muslim-majority Dagestan and the Republic of Buryatia have both suffered the highest casualty rate of all Russian federal subjects during the course of the war, and as such will remain two key regions to watch to ascertain whether anti-mobilisation resistance will escalate. The majority of reports of mobilisation are coming from provincial and minority republics, rather than metropolitan centres like Moscow, St Petersburg and Yekaterinburg. However, mobilisation is also impacting these cities, as a report of the mobilisation of a Sberbank IT specialist from Moscow with no military background testified. Major cities are therefore likely to also see increased turnout if further anti-mobilisation rallies materialise. For further analysis on issues relating to Russian ethnic minorities and anti-war resistance, see Sibylline Daily Ukraine Update – 19 July.
- On 22 September, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi stated that his organisation had begun productive negotiations on establishing a nuclear safety zone around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP). Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and French President Emmanuel Macron are reportedly involved in the negotiations. This is a positive development, which following yesterday’s prisoner swap clearly illustrates that negotiations between Russia and Ukraine are continuing on a range of important issues behind the scenes. However, the likelihood of demilitarisation of the plant remains low at present, with further false flag operations likely to derail progress towards an agreement.
- For more strategic analysis and escalation outcomes to the current conflict in Ukraine, see our revised and updated Scenario Planning and Projections report and our Ukrainian Victory Scenarios and Implications report.
It is increasingly clear that the Kremlin’s partial mobilisation will not just be limited to 300,000 reservists with military experience. On 22 September, Novaya Gazeta published an article claiming that a classified paragraph of the mobilisation decree signed by President Putin allows the Ministry of Defence to call up one million people for the war effort, rather than the 300,000 publicly announced. The Kremlin stated that this is a lie, but given that the paragraph remains classified, they cannot prove otherwise. It does, however, remain likely that the law would provide the state with the legal means of mobilising significantly larger numbers of personnel, and reports coming out of Russia strongly suggest that the Kremlin is set to mobilise numbers far in excess of 300,000. It appears that mobilisation orders are being handed out en masse to not only former conscripts but also people without any military experience. In addition, non-Slavic republics in the Caucasus and Siberia appear to bear the greatest burden in terms of recruitment, reinforcing domestic trends we have been monitoring for many months that could yet drive ethno-religious tensions across the country and within the military. This will all elevate the threat of further anti-government unrest in the coming days, despite escalating repression and threats of 15-year prison sentences for draft dodgers. Low-level resistance to mobilisation continues to grow following the protests on 21 September, though security services are maintaining order at present and preventing a broader escalation. Nevertheless, the potential for escalation remains as more and more mobilisation orders are handed out. At least five conscription offices were set alight across Russia on the night of 22 September, including two in Khabarovsk – a region that has remained one of the most prominent centres for anti-Moscow sentiment in recent years. Travel bans on all reservists are increasingly likely to be enforced as a result of the widening mobilisation orders, though non-reservists will likely be allowed to travel as before for the time being. Airports and border crossings are nevertheless already seeing significant delays as thousands attempt to leave. However, if the rate of emigration continues to increase, and draft dodging spreads, the threat of the Kremlin banning international travel for military-aged men will increase.
Russia: Resistance to mobilisation risks further unrest, particularly in minority regions, major cities. On 23 September, anti-draft protesters in Dagestan blocked a highway in response to President Vladimir Putin’s partial military mobilisation of 300,000 army reservists. A demonstration in the village of Babayurt resulted in substantial traffic along a highway running through the republic. This is the latest instance of domestic unrest and protesting over the Kremlin’s mobilisation announcement, which follows Ukraine’s successful Kharkiv counter-offensive. Anti-draft demonstrators were also recorded in the other Northern Caucasus republics of Kabardino-Balkaria and Chechnya, with some Chechen activists having reportedly been detained. The mobilisation announcement has already sparked an exodus of fighting-aged men, with increased traffic likely in international border areas. Flight prices to visa-free nations are also likely to increase sharply. A heightened risk of further domestic unrest in Russia remains, especially as the Kremlin is ignoring its initial pledge only to mobilise reservists with military experience.
- Ukrainian counteroffensive operations continue in eastern Ukraine, but the tempo of ground operations appears to have been slowing in recent days, likely reflecting the steady stabilisation of the frontline. Nevertheless, Russian sources have reported that Ukrainian forces continue to assault Lyman and Yampil, on the northern banks of the Siverskyi Donets River. Russian sources also claimed that Ukrainian forces entered Drobysheve, northwest of Lyman, on 21 September, with fighting now ongoing for control of the settlement. If Ukrainian forces take Drobysheve in the coming days, Lyman will be surrounded on two sides. A further Ukrainian advance around Yampil would threaten to cut off Lyman on a further side, which would likely precipitate a Russian withdrawal eastward to take up more defensible positions along the Zherebets’ River.
- Further north limited fighting has continued along the eastern bank of the Oskil River. The Ukrainian General Staff reported on 21 September that their forces successfully repulsed a Russian attack near Kupiansk, to the east of which Ukrainian forces have likely been establishing artillery and defensive positions. While unsuccessful, the Russian attack likely indicates that Russian forces are trying to conduct spoiling attacks to undermine Ukraine’s ability to consolidate their newly acquired territory and establish strong defences on the eastern bank of the Oskil.
- Russian forces have meanwhile continued launching largely unsuccessful ground assaults around Bakhmut and Donetsk city in recent days. Russian sources claim that regular Russian and DNR forces took control of Zaitseve this week, with other claims of further progress northeast of Bakhmut. However, these claims remain unconfirmed.
- Notably, Russian sources claimed on 21 September that Ukrainian forces launched an unsuccessful ground assault near Pavlivka (just southwest of Vulhedar on the eastern Zapirizhzhia frontline). While unconfirmed, Russian sources have also claimed that the Ukrainians are continuing to build up large quantities of equipment around Vulhedar, reflecting enduring anxiety amongst Russian commentators that this could be the location of the next major Ukrainian counteroffensive. While this remains to be seen, and as previously assessed, this would be a logical choice for Ukrainian forces in that it would threaten Russia’s land bridge to Crimea and Kherson oblast.
- On the southern Kherson front, the slow and steady Ukrainian counteroffensive continues. This front, in contrast to the rapid manoeuvre operation in Kharkiv earlier this month, remains a much more attritional and methodical operation, designed to steadily degrade Russian logistics and command and control capabilities to force a withdrawal. Kyiv’s operational silence makes assessing gains difficult, but there are limited indications from unofficial Ukrainian and Russian sources to indicate significant Ukrainian progress in recent days, though fighting remains ongoing around numerous contested areas, including northwest of Kherson city.
- On 21 September, Russia and Ukraine agreed to the largest and highest profile prisoner swap of the war to date. 215 Ukrainian prisoners of war, including 10 foreign fighters, have been exchanged for 55 Russian prisoners. Amongst the Ukrainian prisoners released are three commanders of the Azov Regiment, together with 108 fighters that surrendered during the siege of Mariupol. Five British volunteers, including Aiden Aslin, have been released, together with two US citizens, a Swede, a Croat and a Moroccan citizen. The most prominent prisoner to be released by the Ukrainians is the pro-Russian Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk, who had been standing trial for high treason.
- Medvedchuk was the leader of the largest pro-Russia party Opposition Platform – For Life (now banned in Ukraine). Alongside former President Viktor Yanukovych, he had been touted as a likely candidate to head a Russian-installed puppet government in Kyiv, had the initial Russian invasion succeeded. The release of Medvedchuk is therefore highly notable and likely reflects Moscow’s acknowledgement of the ever-decreasing likelihood that Russia will be able to install a puppet government in Kyiv.
- During Putin’s mobilisation speech on 21 September, and in his other recent speeches, the president stated that the primary objective of the ‘special military operation’ is the ‘liberation’ of the Donbas. This stands in contrast to the maximalist goals originally stated at the beginning of the invasion – namely the total demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine i.e., regime change. It should be emphasised that despite Putin’s speech, Russia has not totally abandoned these maximalist objectives, and is likely more an acknowledgement that they are unlikely to be secured in the short to medium term. For example, Deputy Chairman of the Security Council Dmitry Medvedev and numerous other Kremlin officials have frequently reiterated the original goals in recent weeks. However, the exchange of Medvedchuk would mean that even if Russia succeeds in tipping the military balance back in its favour in 2023 or after, Moscow would now have to fly in Medvedchuk to head a potential puppet government, rather than ‘liberate’ him. While this distinction would merely serve narrative and propaganda, Medvedchuk’s release could therefore also be a tacit acknowledgement by Moscow that this is unlikely to be achieved any time soon. Indeed, it remains our assessment this is highly unlikely in the next six months, short of a Ukrainian military collapse.
- The timing of the prisoner exchange is also notable, coming as it did less than 24 hours after Putin announced partial mobilisation and the Kremlin’s doubling down on its war in Ukraine. In particular, the release of the Azov commanders and foreign fighters is surprising given they had already been sentenced to death by a DNR court – though we noted this week that DNR authorities confirmed on 20 September that no public executions of foreign ‘mercenaries’ would take place. Prominent Russian hardliners have already strongly criticised the decision to release them, including former DNR commander and FSB officer Igor Strelkov (Girkin), whose platform in Russia has grown significantly over the last week due to his consistent call for mobilisation throughout the war. His number of Telegram followers has increased to 609,000 this week, up from 410,000 less than two months ago, reflecting the growing platform of hawkish hardliners in Russia. Ultimately, hardliner backlash to this decision is unlikely to outpace approval for the partial mobilisation.
- Today, 22 September, Dmitry Medvedev stated that any weapons in Russia’s arsenal, including ‘strategic nuclear weapons’, could be used to defend the occupied Ukrainian territories once they are incorporated into Russia. Medvedev’s statement is the latest escalation following Putin’s veiled threat of the possibility of nuclear war, but this time has made explicit mention of the use of nuclear weapons in relation to the occupied territories. Referenda to join Russia are due to begin across Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts between 23-27 September, after which they are likely to be rapidly annexed by Moscow. While we maintain that the threat of tactical nuclear weapon use remains low (and still lower the threat of strategic nuclear weapon use), the threat is clearly increasing as the Kremlin doubles down on its war in Ukraine. See Sibylline Daily Ukraine Update – 21 September for further analysis.
Following President Putin’s partial mobilisation announcement, the anti-war group Vesna called for nationwide protests across the country, which precipitated rare anti-war demonstrations across 38 cities. As of 22 September, Russian security services have detained more than 1,300 people across the Russian Federation. The majority of arrests occurred in the capital Moscow (530) and St Petersburg (470), two traditional hotspots of anti-government and anti-war sentiment. Of additional note, locals set fire to a conscription office in the town of Tolyatti in Samara oblast on the night of 21 September. It is the most recent example of such anti-war arson, and further instances of attacks on conscription centres are highly likely in the coming days and months, potentially representing a principal outlet for anti-war sentiment amid the growing crackdown on physical protests. The latest developments come as Russia nears the seven-month mark in its invasion of Ukraine, with Russian-occupied regions in Ukraine set to hold referenda on joining Russia later this week. Harsh prison sentences for protesters will likely deter a major escalation in unrest in the coming weeks, mitigating the threat posed by protests to the regime’s stability. However, the threst of an escalation and further unrest will increase if the Kremlin expands partial mobilisation, which as assessed yesterday, is likely only in its first phase. For further analysis of the business and travel implications of the partial mobilisation announcement.
Russia: Partial mobilisation has increased threat of unrest, though repression will mitigate threat to government stability. The security services have detained more than 1,300 people across the Russian Federation as of 22 September. This follows a series of rare anti-war protests triggered by President Vladimir Putin’s announcement of partial military mobilisation. Opponents of Putin’s decision to mobilise 300,000 army reservists reportedly demonstrated in 38 cities across Russia. The majority of subsequent arrests occurred in the capital Moscow (530) and St Petersburg (470), two traditional hotspots of anti-government sentiment. The latest developments come as Russia nears the seven-month mark in its invasion of Ukraine, with Russian-occupied regions in Ukraine set to hold referenda on joining Russia later this week. Harsh prison sentences for protesters will likely deter a major escalation in unrest in the coming weeks, mitigating the threat posed by protests to the regime’s stability. However, the risk of further unrest will increase if the Kremlin expands partial mobilisation, which is likely only in its first phase.
Europe: Newly drafted EU sanctions against Russia will increase regulatory risks for oil sector. On 22 September, the European Commission (EC) started drafting new sanctions against Russia following President Putin’s threats of nuclear escalation in Ukraine. The EU also pledged to deliver more military support in response to Russia’s partial mobilisation. The new sanctions could include a price cap on Russian oil, new restrictions against Russian individuals close to the Kremlin and further measures against the trade of luxury goods with Russia. The adoption of the new sanctions will likely take several weeks, especially as the EC will first have to consult member states regarding the scope of the measures. They will likely be approved during the next foreign affairs council meeting on 17 October. The new sanctions will likely elevate policy and regulatory risks further for the oil industry.
Kazakhstan: Closure of sanctions loophole illustrates Astana’s efforts to avoid secondary sanctions. On 20 September, the government closed a legislative loophole used by Belarusian and Russian truck drivers to transport EU cargo to Kazakhstan without the necessary paperwork. The development comes amid Kazakhstan’s continued attempts to comply with Western sanctions against Russia in order to avoid possible secondary sanctions being levelled against Astana. Furthermore, Kazakhstan’s largest bank, Halyk, suspended the use of the popular Russian credit card ‘MIR’ this week following a US Treasury Department warning that potential secondary sanctions would be imposed on its users. Belarusian and Russian truck drivers will now face further difficulties in securing the necessary documents required for transnational cargo transport, lowering the likelihood of secondary sanctions being placed on Astana.
- Earlier on 21 September, President Vladimir Putin formally announced a partial mobilisation of the Russian Federation. Putin warned that if the West continued with its current course of alleged ‘nuclear blackmail’, Moscow would respond with the full extent of its arsenal, stating that ‘this is not a bluff’. Putin emphasised that he has approved a partial mobilisation, with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu confirming that around 300,000 reservists with military experience would now be called up to fight (roughly 1 percent of the total mobilisation reserve available to the Russian state). Shoigu confirmed that partial mobilisation will not affect students or conscripts, though the latter remains to be seen as the new conscription cycle begins on 1 October (see Political Developments below for an assessment on the deployment of conscripts to Ukraine).
- Putin’s announcement came after the State Duma on 20 September rapidly passed three readings of new amendments to the Criminal Code that increase penalties for individuals refusing to participate in military operations and who ‘voluntarily surrender’ at the front. The new laws, now also approved by the Federation Council and due to be signed into law by Putin today, are clearly aimed at strengthening mobilisation laws that will limit options for citizens to refuse to fight. Such laws, by extension, will limit the risk of a military collapse at the front and widespread draft-dodging in Russia. However, will only partially limit the risk; national compliance will be severely tested if the military situation in Ukraine deteriorates further.
- The Duma has also passed a new law that will allow foreign nationals to gain Russian citizenship by signing a military contract and serving for one year – a reduction from the current three years. This is highly likely to coincide with a renewed recruitment drive overseas. This will most likely find fertile ground in Central Asia, from where the majority of Russian migrant labour originates. The region traditionally remains highly reliant upon remittances from Russia. As such, Moscow will continue to expand efforts to recruit volunteers alongside the partial mobilisation, which will also include raising new volunteer battalions and recruiting for private military companies (PMCs).
- In a likely bid to encourage further volunteers and mitigate any public backlash to the partial mobilisation, Shoigu also claimed today that during 210 days of war in Ukraine, the Russian military has lost some 5,937 service personnel. The 5,937 figure is the first update on military casualties since 25 March, when the Kremlin said 1,351 had been killed. Shoigu’s updated figure is nevertheless unlikely to include losses sustained by DNR/LNR militia forces, private military contractors, GRU and other security services, as well as Rosgvardia National Guard units. As a result, this is highly likely to be a gross underestimation and stands in stark contrast to the likely overestimated figure of 55,110 deaths provided by the Ukrainian General Staff.
- In terms of military developments on the ground over the last 24 hours, Ukrainian forces are continuing counteroffensive operations in eastern Ukraine, with the Lyman-Yampil axis remaining Kyiv’s priority. Russian sources have reported that Ukrainian forces have attacked Lyman from both the north-west and south, with supplementary attacks also targeting the nearby settlement of Drobysheve, roughly three miles (5km) north-west of Lyman.
- Russian sources have also continued reporting on Ukrainian operations on the eastern bank of the Oskil River, but we cannot confirm any movements of the frontline over the last 24 hours. Nevertheless, the Ukrainian General Staff reported on 20 September that Russian forces unsuccessfully attempted to hit a dam at the Pechenihy Reservoir along the Siverskyi Donets River, roughly 29 miles (46km) east of Kharkiv. This is highly likely to be the latest attempt to target hydrotechnical infrastructure in order to disrupt Ukrainian counteroffensive operations further downriver, where Ukrainian pontoons and river crossings are threatening Russian positions around Lyman. This appears to be a wider strategy employed by Russian forces in recent weeks; they attempted something similar when they targeted the Karachuniv reservoir in the city of Kryvyi Rih, which sought to disrupt Ukrainian operations down the Inhulets River. While unsuccessful this time, Russian forces will likely try again. If they succeed in breaching the dam, there is a realistic possibility they will flood the Siverskyi Donets. This would aim to isolate Ukrainian forces that have already crossed the river, relieving pressure on Russian positions in Lyman and along the Luhansk oblast border.
- On the southern Kherson front, the Ukrainian information blackout continues to limit our ability to confirm progress. However, the Ukrainian General Staff continue to report on the successful interdiction of Russian ground lines of communication (GLOCs), disrupting in particular the establishment of alternative river crossings across the Dnieper river. Beyond this, reduced reporting from both Ukrainian and Russian sources indicate limited developments along the front, though ground assaults continue at various points, including around the Ukrainian bridgehead over the Inhulets.
- On 20 September, the Russian-appointed civil-military administrations of the occupied regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia confirmed that they will hold referenda on joining the Russian Federation between 23 and 27 September. The votes are almost certain to result in overwhelming ‘support’ for the annexation of the territories. This would mean these areas would be considered de jure Russian territory by Moscow. The speed and co-ordination of the announcements clearly indicate that both the Kremlin and Putin’s overseer of the occupied territories, Sergey Kiriyenko, have approved the plans and will likely implement the results rapidly.
- Defence Minister Shoigu emphasised that partial mobilisation will not affect conscripted service personnel, while noting that the new conscription cycle begins on 1 October. He stated that there are currently no plans to send conscripts to the zone of the ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine. Rather, they will continue to serve on Russian territory. However, the occupied territories in Ukraine will almost certainly vote this week to join the Russian Federation; this would make these areas de jure Russian territory under the Russian Constitution As such, the Kremlin could thereafter deploy conscripts to the frontline legally, given they will then technically be defending ‘Russian territory’. This legal loophole will likely provide Moscow with options to increase further the number of troops active in Ukraine, though conscripts – and newly retrained reservists – will most likely be deployed primarily to hold ground, freeing up more professional or experienced troops to conduct offensive operations. In addition, the annexation of the occupied territories will also likely lead to forced mobilisation of local Ukrainian populations in those areas. This will likely aim at establishing new militia forces akin to the 1st and 2nd Army Corps of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DNR/LNR), again increasing the pool of largely expendable manpower (in the view of Russian military planners) for military operations in Ukraine.
- The new partial mobilisation law did specify that reservists who are not called up to fight, ‘may be assigned to work as civilian personnel of the armed forces and other troops’ – though the Ministry of Defence has not announced such plans as of yet. It also remains unclear if the Ministry of Defence will enforce a ban on reservists leaving the country. These options reflect broader economic mobilisation to support the war effort. Given the logistical challenges already facing the professional Russian military, a large influx of support personnel will likely be required to deploy an additional 300,000 troops to Ukraine. Similarly, the Kremlin announced that industrial production will be stepped up as part of the partial mobilisation. However, this has largely already been initiated; it remains to be seen to what extent shortages of microchips and other foreign dual-use goods will continue to hinder domestic military production.
The modern Russian military is not a mass conscript military, unlike that of the Soviet Union, which had various logistical and administrative structures in place to train and equip vast numbers of mobilised conscripts rapidly. The 2008 military reforms, aimed at modernising and professionalising the Russian Armed Forces, effectively removed many of the logistical and command structures needed to ready reserves to fight rapidly. Therefore, from a purely administrative and command-and-control perspective, the Russian military is not currently equipped to deploy 300,000 reservists rapidly and effectively, though it will likely manage to do so given time. However, the challenges of fielding this force go beyond command and control. Russia is already struggling to equip its professional forces in Ukraine effectively following significant equipment losses during the war – most recently in the withdrawal from Kharkiv oblast. Given that it is already struggling to equip its forces currently deployed in Ukraine, Moscow is unlikely to be able to train and equip an additional 300,000 reservists quickly and/or effectively, though extant stockpiles of old 1970s and 1980s equipment are available. As such, partial mobilisation will do little to provide Russia with forces in the immediate and short term to shore up the faltering frontlines in Ukraine. Instead, reservists and new conscripts will likely need at least three months to train/retrain and deploy, at which time the Ukrainian winter will have taken hold. As such, an influx of reservists is unlikely to have a serious impact on the battlefield until Spring 2023. Even then, reservists are likely to be poorly trained and ill-equipped, albeit with military experience. In the meantime, the planned referenda in the occupied territories between 23 and 27 September will help present further options for the Kremlin to ‘escalate to de-escalate’. Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia will be considered de jure Russian territory by Moscow after the votes. This would mean that under Russian law and doctrine, Moscow would be fighting defensively in eastern and southern Ukraine. This would provide the Kremlin with options to escalate further should it wish, including through the use of tactical nuclear weapons under the legal pretext of defending the territorial integrity of the Russian state. Nevertheless, it should be noted that the Kremlin has so far not responded with direct nuclear threats to Ukrainian strikes on de jure Russian territory, including Belgorod and Rostov oblasts, or occupied Crimea, despite the fact that Moscow considers these areas its intrinsic territory. Nevertheless, the Kharkiv counteroffensive has evidently changed the calculus, given the mounting conventional threat Ukrainian forces pose to Russian-held territory. Given Putin’s accusations of Western ‘nuclear blackmail’ and his threats to respond with the full range of Russia’s arsenal, the threat of a nuclear escalation is now increasing, albeit from an already low likelihood. The threat will increase most notably if Ukrainian forces inflict another major operational defeat on the Russian military before the 300,000 Russian reservists are able to deploy to Ukraine Partial mobilisation clearly indicates that the Kremlin intends to hold the territory it currently controls in Ukraine, and that it is preparing to fight into 2023 in an attempt to tip the balance back in its favour. However, if partial mobilisation does not succeed in tipping the military balance by Spring 2023, or if Ukraine inflicts further major operational defeats on Russian forces before they are retrained and redeployed, the risk of a broader escalation will increase.
Russia: Mobilisation Implications. On 21 September, President Vladimir Putin formally announced a partial mobilisation of the Russian Federation. For further context and analysis of the geopolitical and military implications of the announcement, see Sibylline Daily Ukraine Update – 21 September 2022.
- According to the official announcement from the Kremlin and the Ministry of Defence, some 300,000 reservists aged 18-65 will be liable for military mobilisation. Specifically, those who have served in the army that have undefined military specialisation and/or combat experience will be the first to be called up. However, the Kremlin has outlined a number of categories of Russian reservists that are exempted from and can defer mobilisation, including carers, single parents and employees of defence firms.
- Those subject to mobilisation will not be allowed to leave their place of residence without the express permission of the Ministry of Defence or the federal service of which they are a reservist. Under current Russian law, enlisters will have to personally hand deliver a summons to the mobilised individual, but the Duma could fairly rapidly adjust this requirement to allow for mail and email summons – which will be legally harder to ignore or circumvent.
- On paper, Russia has over two million reservists, both former conscripts and contract service personnel. At present, it appears that the partial mobilisation only applies to former contract service personnel, and not former conscripts. As such, former conscripts will likely be placed under less stringent scrutiny going forward, with fewer limitations on travel. However, there is some confusion around whether all reservists will be prevented from leaving the country. There are also reports of medical workers, including women, being provided subpoenas en masse this afternoon. Doctors, nurses, paramedical and pharmaceutical personnel therefore appear to also be subject to military registration.
- The full impact of the partial mobilisation on domestic and international travel has yet to be fully confirmed by the Kremlin. Nevertheless, despite widespread reports on Russian Telegram channels shortly after the announcement, it does not appear that blanket restrictions are being enforced at the borders to prevent Russians from leaving the country. The Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Defence, Andrei Kartapolov, confirmed that people are allowed to move around and leave the country, but he stated that ‘it is better not to do this’. As such, there is a risk of informal enforcement of border restrictions in the coming days.
- Various federal agencies and organisations, including airports in Moscow, St Petersburg and Volgograd, FSB Border Service officers and Russian Railways have all stated earlier today that they have not received orders to enforce additional restrictions at the border, or limit the sale of tickets to military-aged men. Therefore, at this time, it does not appear that Russians seeking to leave Russia will face any additional restrictions than those already in place – though as noted, informal and overzealous enforcement may occur at border points. While Russian Railways and FSB Border Service guards have so far indicated that there are no additional border restrictions on Russian citizens, Latvia has already confirmed that it will not offer shelter to Russian citizens fleeing partial mobilisation. The announcement follows Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland reaching an agreement on 19 September that imposed additional border crossing restrictions on Russian citizens with Schengen visas. As a result, Russian citizens seeking to leave Russia following the announcement are likely to face more issues on the Baltic side of the border, than on the Russian side at this stage. Meanwhile, the German Foreign Ministry has stated it will not rule out a liberalisation of visa requirements for Russians seeking to evade mobilisation and flee Russia. As such, there may be opportunities in the near future for Russian citizens to emigrate to certain European countries. However, if an individual is subject to mobilisation, attempting to leave Russia will be highly risky. FSB and Border Service officers will likely be given lists of individuals subject to mobilisation in the coming weeks to prevent them from leaving, but there are currently no reports of additional restrictions at border crossings. Nevertheless, this situation could change over the coming days, weeks and months, particularly if widespread draft-dodging occurs. Scrutiny will likely be unevenly applied across the Russian Federation, with major airports in Moscow and St Petersburg as well as land-crossing points at the Kazakhstan and Chinese borders likely to see active enforcement.
- In the weeks running up to the announcement, we have frequently assessed in our regular Daily Ukraine Updates the risks associated with mobilisation on Russia’s domestic stability, including the potential for civil disobedience and refusals to fight. The State Duma on 20 September rapidly passed three readings of new amendments to the Criminal Code that increase penalties for individuals refusing to participate in military operations. These amendments will only partially limit the risk of widespread draft-dodging in Russia. National compliance will be severely tested if the military situation in Ukraine deteriorates further. Indeed, small-scale protest activity has already begun across parts of Russia, due to the time zones primarily in Siberia and the Far East at time of writing, where up to 60 people reportedly attended the rallies. For example, OMON riot police have been filmed travelling to suppress protests in Novosibirsk, while a protest in Krasnoyarsk has seen limited turnout, followed by rapid arrests by security services. At the time of writing, the number of demonstrators reported at these rallies is small, with the deployment of local security forces very likely to prevent the demonstrations from escalating. Authorities are clearly stepping up efforts to deter turnout, with the Moscow Prosecutor’s Office this afternoon threatening jail times of up to 15 years for protestors joining anti-mobilisation rallies. Most notably, the anti-war movement Vesna has called for demonstrations in towns and cities at 1900 local time across the country’s various time zones. The turnout and state’s response to these protests will to a large extent determine whether the situation escalates. Given the new security laws, security forces are almost certain to heavily repress protests in order to nip them in the bud and prevent the proliferation of civil disobedience. Nevertheless, an escalation should not be ruled out completely.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov this afternoon refused to answer a question on the possibility of border closures to prevent Russian citizens from evading mobilisation. He stated that ‘there are provisions for this in the current laws’. As such, this could merely be the first phase of partial mobilisation, which could yet see the Kremlin announce further expansion to mobilisation in the coming months.
The laws passed over the last 24 hours all allow for this, meaning the Kremlin and State Duma are setting the legal framework for an expansion of mobilisation and restrictions if needed. For example, the new partial mobilisation law specifies that reservists that are not called up to fight ‘may be assigned to work as civilian personnel of the armed forces and other troops’. As such, former conscripts may yet be called up to fill support roles in subsequent phases of the partial mobilisation, and therefore travel restrictions may soon apply to them – though this has not been confirmed at the time of writing.
- Publicly-disclosed Pro-Russia cyber campaigns maintained pace during this monitoring period. The targeting of these cyber attacks remained consistent with those discussed during previous reports. However, Anonymous Russia’s disclosure that they intend to target the US Pentagon with malicious cyber activity underscores the highly fluid nature of the Anonymous hacktivist collective. This announcement will likely heighten the risk of further splintering within Anonymous emerging and leading to tit-for-tat cyber attacks against infrastructure being defended by these groups, such as Ukrainian and Russian government agencies and their private sector partners.
- Meanwhile, pro-Kyiv hacking groups, such as Anonymous’ other sub-groups, have continued to focus their attention on countering Russia’s misinformation/disinformation campaigns by targeting Russian media outlets. While the threat posed to non-government-linked organisations is low, Western organisations, particularly media outlets and technology firms, that are perceived to be echoing Russia’s disinformation will be at a heightened risk of being targeted by these groups. Such cyber attacks are expected to be low-level activities, such as DDoS, defacement, and/or data leaks.
Pro-Russian cyber campaigns increased during this monitoring period; Moscow-aligned ransomware actors and hacktivists will remain the most prominent threat to Western organisations
- On 19 September, industry reports claimed that “critical Ukrainian systems” are being targeted by a Russian state-linked cyber campaign. The threat actor – known as Sandworm – is utilising several tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP), including impersonating Ukrainian telecommunication firms, to compromise their targets’ systems. While the aim of this campaign is currently unclear, there is a realistic probability that Sandworms’ goal is to exfiltrate information related to the Ukraine conflict given its use of remote access trojans (RAT) such as “Warzone”. Indeed, such activity would be indicative of Russian state-linked hackers’ persistent targeting of Ukrainian/Western governments and critical infrastructure supporting the Ukrainian government over the last several months to help its conventional military activities in Eastern Ukraine.
- Late last week, numerous pro-Russian hacking groups threatened to launch cyber attacks against the US Pentagon. Based on messages posted on their personal Telegram channels, these groups – known as Phoenix and Anonymous Russia – implied that these forthcoming cyber attacks were in response to the US government’s decision to impose additional sanctions against at least 23 Russian officials, and 31 Russian government agencies and firms for their support of Moscow’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Neither group provided any details on what type of cyber attacks could be expected to be launched against the US Pentagon.
- Similarly, the pro-Russian hacktivist group Killnet published a warning to the Georgian government late last week that it would engage in “cyber warfare” against Georgian entities if it did not maintain a “friendly union” with Russia. This post went on to claim that Georgia has “a desire to open a second military front against our country [Russia], under the pretext of liberating ‘South Ossetia-Abkhazia'”, which are disputed territories that are recognised as independent by Russia but are described as under Russian military occupation by the Georgian government.
Ukraine: IMF mission to Ukraine announced amid improvement in governance reforms, but socio-economic risks remain high.
On September 20, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced that its mission to Ukraine will begin in early October 2022. A meeting took place between Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and Managing Director of the IMF Kristalina Georgieva, in which the next steps of a cooperation programme were discussed. This development comes following Ukrainian President Zelenksy’s announcement on 13 September that the IMF has allocated USD 1.4 bn in additional monetary aid to support Ukraine amid the ongoing war. Previous IMF missions to Ukraine have often resulted in criticism of the slow pace of governance reforms in the county; however, given the recent progress in this area, specifically with regards to implementing anti-oligarch laws, the potential for improved future cooperation between the IMF and Ukraine has moderately increased.
Pro-Ukraine cyber campaigns are limited; independent hacking groups join the conflict and strengthen pro-Kyiv threat actors’ capabilities
- On 15 September, industry reports claimed that the cyber threat actor “the Atlas Intelligence Group” began targeting Russian organisations’ websites. The cyber attacks launched against the Russian websites were defacement attacks. The Atlas Intelligence Group (also known as Atlantis Cyber-Army) is a notable cyber actor that, unlike other groups, does not directly engage in cyber attacks. Instead, Atlas recruits “cyber-mercenaries” to engage in separate and specific tasks – such as initial compromise, data exfiltration, etc. – as a part of their larger cyber campaign. Atlas advertise its cyber campaigns on popular Telegram marketplaces and has historically launched campaigns in countries such as the US, Pakistan, Israel, Colombia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
- On 13 September, industry reports claimed the pro-Kyiv hacking group “hdr0” hacked Russian TV channels, including Channel One Russia, Russia-24, and Russia-1. These cyber attacks reportedly defaced and replaced the channels’ programmes with anti-war messages. These cyber attacks are consistent with pro-Kyiv hacking group’s continued efforts to counter Moscow’s misinformation/disinformation operations related to the Ukraine conflict and the latest since Anonymous and the IT Army of Ukraine claimed they took more than 2,400 Russian websites offline, including Russian media outlets, over the previous two weeks.
Pro-Russian cyber activity launched during this previous monitoring period continued to remain focused on either engaging in politically motivated and disruptive cyber attacks or intelligence gathering campaigns. State-linked actors have continued to engage in cyber espionage activity aimed at helping the Russian government assess where potential Ukrainian counteroffensives may emerge, especially in regions around Kherson and the Oskil River (see Sibylline Ukraine Daily Update – 20 September 2022). Meanwhile, pro-Russian hacktivist groups, such as Killnet and Phoenix, have continued their politically motivated cyber attacks. However, a notable development is Anonymous Russia’s formal support of the Russian government in the Ukraine conflict. While Anonymous has become synonymous with the pro-Kyiv hacking activity throughout the Ukraine conflict, this new development is not out of character for the hacktivist group. Indeed, Anonymous is a decentralised hacktivist collective that has no formal hierarchy or organisation. As such, any hacker, regardless of political affiliation or technical capabilities, is allowed to rally like-minded cyber actors through its channels and utilise its moniker to engage in politically motivated cyber activity. This fluid nature has resulted in both left- and right-wing-minded individuals joining the group, a development which, even during its heyday in the 2010s, resulted in significant in-fighting and the formation of splinter groups. As such, the emergence of Anonymous Russia is likely an example of such splintering and does not indicate that the entire Anonymous collective has switched its allegiances. Nevertheless, this development could result in more public displays of in-fighting between the two Anonymous factions, with either side targeting entities supporting either pro-Kyiv or pro-Russian government agencies, such as Washington’s Pentagon or Moscow’s Kremlin, with disruptive cyber activity. Given Anonymous’ previous activity during this conflict, the victim entities are highly likely to be targeted by low-level cyber campaigns such as Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS), data leaks, and/or defacement attacks. Organisations operating in industries of typical interest for these groups, such as government agencies, energy, IT, or telecoms, are advised to consult Western government agencies’ “quick guides” to minimise their exposure to these threats.
Russia-Ukraine: Partial mobilisation will prolong war into 2023 as nuclear rhetoric increases threat of escalation. On 21 September, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a partial military mobilisation of the country during a pre-recorded televised address. Putin cited alleged “nuclear blackmail” from the West as a justification for the action, warning that if this continues, Moscow would respond with the full extent of its arsenal. As of today, only reservists with military experience will be subject to mobilisation, a more politically palatable move domestically than mass conscription. The announcement follows Russia’s operational defeat in Kharkiv, and comes ahead of planned referenda in the occupied territories to join Russia, due to take place between 23-27 September. Partial mobilisation will do little to provide Russia with forces in the immediate term to shore up the frontlines in Ukraine. As such, the war will extend into 2023, but Moscow’s nuclear threats will increase the risk of further escalation if Ukrainian forces inflict further military defeats on Russia before reservists are deployed to Ukraine.
Military and security developments
- Since our last report on 16 September, Ukrainian forces have continued consolidating and strengthening their positions in eastern Ukraine, including on the eastern banks of the Oskil and Siverskyi Donets rivers.
- Ukrainian forces have consolidated control over the strategic town of Kupiansk (95km east of Kharkiv), with geolocated footage supporting the earlier assessment that Ukrainian forces are reinforcing positions on the eastern bank of the Oskil River. The Ukrainian General Staff reported on 18 September that their forces repelled a Russian attack on Kupiansk, indicating the area to the east of the town likely remains contested. However, Ukrainian forces appear to be pushing further east elsewhere along the river. Luhansk oblast governor Serhiy Haidai published footage of Ukrainian tanks crossing a pontoon bridge at an unnamed location over the Oskil. Russian sources have also noted that Ukrainian forces are using captured Russian T-72 tanks in the area.
- Russian sources have speculated in recent days that Ukrainian forces could be preparing for another counterattack across the Oskil River from the town of Dvorichna (17km north of Kupiansk), which guards one of the four principal bridge crossings across the river. Ultimately, despite Ukraine’s consolidation along both banks of the Oskil, Russian forces are still not prioritising reinforcing this axis – exposing the eastern bank of the Oskil and ultimately the border of Luhansk oblast to further Ukrainian advances in the coming weeks. As reported over the weekend, Ukrainian Tochka-U ballistic missile attacks against Valuyki, a key Russian settlement along a critical railway line between Belgorod and Russian forces in eastern Kharkiv, will further undermine Russian reinforcement efforts along this axis.
- Further south, Ukrainian forces are also making steady progress on the Lyman-Yampil axis, with both Ukrainian and Russian sources reporting on Ukrainian positions at Shchurove, Studenok, and Yarova, all of which are located on the eastern bank of the Siverskyi Donets southwest and northwest of Lyman. Notably, Serhiy Haidai stated on 18 September that Ukrainian forces are waiting for the fall of Lyman before beginning the operation to liberate Luhansk oblast. Haidai also confirmed on 19 September that Ukrainian forces are now in “full control” of Bilohorivka, a small settlement just inside the Luhansk oblast borders. While we previously reported on a Ukrainian advance in this area, Haidai’s statement appears to confirm that Russian forces are no longer in control of the entirety of Luhansk oblast. It is a highly symbolic moment for the Ukrainians which will only reinforce mounting calls amongst Russian officials to annex the regions (see political developments below for further analysis).
- Meanwhile, Russian forces have continued to focus the majority of their efforts on largely unsuccessful ground assaults around Bakhmut and Donetsk city. Russian sources did claim on 17 September that their forces had made marginal gains south of Bakhmut, but the Ukrainian General Staff maintained throughout the weekend that their forces have successfully repulsed various Russian attacks on this axis. Russian forces, therefore, continue to make very little progress on this axis, increasingly at the expense of shoring up the vulnerable Kharkiv frontline to the north.
- Ukrainian forces also continued to launch ground assaults and long-range strikes against Russian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) amid its ongoing counteroffensive in Kherson. Fighting on the ground continues to be primarily focused to the northwest of Kherson city, south of the Kherson-Dnipropetrovsk oblast border (south of Kryvyi Rih) and around the Ukrainian bridgehead across the Inhulets River roughly in the centre of the frontline. However, continued operational silence from the Ukrainians means we cannot confirm any progress at present. Russian sources maintain that their forces had over the weekend repelled a Ukrainian naval infantry assault near Andriivka, likely aimed at expanding Ukraine’s bridgehead across the Inhulets. Russian sources are also claiming that elevated water levels as a result of Russian strikes against the Inhulets dams in Kryvyi Rih last week have blocked half of the Ukrainian crossing points across the river, limiting options for the establishment of further bridgeheads. If true, this could slow Ukrainian counteroffensive operations over the coming days and weeks. There are nevertheless growing reports from both Ukrainian and Russian sources that Kyiv’s interdiction campaign is seriously impacting Russian GLOCs and the ability of Moscow to reinforce its units on the western bank of the Dnieper. The Ukrainian General Staff on 17 September claimed that Russian forces are preparing withdrawal routes, including creating a new crossing near the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant across the Dnieper. The General Staff also reported that Russian forces are coercing locals into building fortifications around Chonhar, a settlement north of Crimea in south-eastern Kherson oblast – this could indicate Russia’s anticipation of a potential Ukrainian counteroffensive on the eastern side of the Dnieper in the future. The Ukrainian strategy during the Kherson counteroffensive is to steadily degrade Russian forces and GLOCs to make their position on the western banks of the Dnieper untenable, and force a withdrawal. The Russians may well be preparing for an orderly withdrawal across the Dnieper, but it remains to be seen when and if such a withdrawal order will be given.
- On 19 September, the self-declared parliaments of both the Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics (LNR/DNR) called for an immediate referendum on the territories officially joining the Russian Federation. Senior DNR officials have today, 20 September, stated that the Donbas is now ready to hold such votes, and all that remains is to decide on a date. Similarly, the Russian-backed Public Council of Kherson and a faction within the Zaporizhzhia occupation congress directly appealed to the head of their respective occupation military-civilian administrations to also hold an immediate referendum on joining Russia. Deputy Head of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev has also come out in support of the proposed referenda, though it remains to be seen whether the Kremlin will back the plans.
- Previous calls for such votes have either been delayed or ignored by the Kremlin, with proxy officials highly likely to have made statements outside of the direct control of the Kremlin’s narrative at various points. It remains unclear whether the Kremlin’s de facto overseer of the Donbas, Sergey Kiriyenko, has approved the plans for immediate referenda. Kiriyenko, the First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Russian Presidential Administration and close Putin aide, had previously been touted as the future head of a new Russian federal region, encompassing the DNR, LNR as well as Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts. If Russia formally annexed the regions, it would provide Moscow with further options to escalate and retaliate in defence of ‘official’ Russian territory. See the Forecast below for further analysis of the risks of escalation.
- In a separate development in the DNR, the region’s head Denis Pushilin stated today, 20 September, that there will be no public executions of foreign mercenaries inside the DNR.
- On 19 September, senior US defence officials confirmed that it remains a strong possibility that Washington could transfer unspecified tanks to Ukraine at some point in the future. According to the unnamed official, Kyiv will have to show its ability to maintain more modern Western tank variants to receive them – but this is unlikely to be a serious roadblock given wider Western military support and the apparent effectiveness of Ukraine in integrating a wide array of mismatching military equipment and weapons systems. Older M1 Abrams tanks remain a possible export, which would provide Kyiv with a much more potent offensive capability than those currently provided by Soviet-era tanks currently in operation. Meanwhile, Slovenia confirmed on 20 September that their government had reached an agreement with Germany to exchange military vehicles that will allow Slovenia to send 28 M55 tanks to Ukraine.
On 16 September, President Putin effectively threatened to increase attacks on Ukrainian civilian infrastructure if Ukrainian attacks against Russian territory continue. Putin made the comments at the close of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Uzbekistan, and have reinforced our own assessment made last week that the Kremlin is likely to embark on a new and increasingly open campaign targeting civilian infrastructure over the autumn and winter (see Sibylline Daily Ukraine Update – 15 September). Putin reiterated the line that Russia’s actions in Ukraine up until now have remained relatively restrained, while framing recent strikes against civilian infrastructure over the last week as “warning strikes”. Indeed, following the Ukrainian Tochka-U strike against the Russian town of Valuyki, on 19 September Ukrainian officials claimed Russian forces had struck the South Ukraine (Pivdennoukrainsk) Nuclear Power Plant (PNPP), located in Mykolaiv oblast. The attack did not cause any damage to the reactors but reportedly damaged other power plant buildings some 300 metres from the reactors. This is highly likely to be the latest example of the escalating campaign targeting civilian infrastructure. The campaign is designed to at once placate Russian hardliners demanding revenge for the Kharkiv defeat, while also undermining Ukrainian morale – particularly if such strikes disrupt energy and heating over the winter. Ukrainian forces are unlikely to cease targeting vulnerable Russian positions inside de jure Russian territory. Therefore, such Russian strikes are likely to continue escalating in the weeks ahead, increasing the risk of strikes targeting civilian infrastructure, including power plants, dams, telecommunication infrastructure and possibly oil and gas pipelines in Kyiv and other urban centres. However, the response to Russia’s operational defeat in Kharkiv could yet see the situation in Ukraine escalate still further, as the Kremlin remains under mounting pressure from hardliners following the operational defeat in Kharkiv oblast. Recognising the potential for such an escalation, US President Joe Biden urged Russia on 18 September not to use tactical nuclear or chemical weapons in Ukraine in response to the Kharkiv counteroffensive. It should be noted, however, that we still assess the likelihood of Russia using tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine to be low at present. However, if the occupied territories are rapidly annexed into the Russian Federation (see above), Russian doctrine clearly outlines scenarios for tactical nuclear weapon use in defence of Russian territory.
Russia: Moscow’s growing concerns over Ukraine’s counteroperations will magnify cyber espionage threat posed to critical infrastructure supporting Kyiv’s operations. On 19 September, industry reports claimed that “critical Ukrainian systems” are being targeted by a Russian state-linked cyber campaign. The threat actor – known as Sandworm – is utilising several tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP), including impersonating Ukrainian telecommunication firms, to compromise their targets’ systems. While the aim of this campaign is currently unclear, there is a realistic probability that Sandworms’ goal is to exfiltrate information related to the Ukraine conflict given its use of remote access trojans (RAT) such as “Warzone”. Indeed, such activity would be indicative of Russian state-linked hackers’ persistent targeting of Ukrainian/Western governments and critical infrastructure supporting the Ukrainian government over the last several months to help its conventional military activities in Eastern Ukraine (see Sibylline Weekly Ukraine Cyber Update – 31 August 2022). As Ukrainian forces continue to consolidate their recent gains in Kharkiv oblast following their successful counteroperations, further Russian state-directed cyber espionage is highly likely over the coming weeks to help Moscow assess where future counteroperations could emerge. Government agencies and critical industries with close relations to Kyiv, such as telecoms or technology, will be the most at-risk for this activity.
Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan: Ceasefire violations increase the threat of localised border clashes over the coming week. On 20 September, reports indicated that 100 people have now died since the outbreak of fighting between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan last week in a disputed section of the border in Kyrgyzstan’s Batken province. Despite both sides agreeing to a ceasefire on 16 September, fighting escalated over the weekend, with each side accusing the other of violations. Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov has today reiterated his desire to resolve the ongoing border crisis through peaceful means, with Kyrgyz authorities having negotiated for the release of four border guards captured by Tajik troops last week. However, the situation marks the latest example of growing instability across the former Soviet Union since Russia’s defeat in Kharkiv oblast, with a moderate but growing threat of the dispute escalating to a conventional inter-state conflict. Tensions will likely remain high in the short term, with further localised clashes a realistic possibility over the coming week.
Armenia-Azerbaijan: US official’s visit to Yerevan raises questions over Armenia’s relationship with Moscow-led CSTO, though ceasefire continues to hold. On 19 September, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi became the highest-ranking US official to visit Armenia since independence. Pelosi’s visit comes amidst the highest tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan since the war between the two countries in 2020. She condemned Azerbaijan’s ‘illegal and deadly attacks’ on Armenia and alluded to the prospect of greater US security assistance. Azerbaijan repeatedly attacked Armenian positions over the course of last week, with most of the confrontation taking place on Armenian territory. However, a Russian-brokered ceasefire held over the weekend. Whilst Pelosi’s visit does not necessarily reflect a change in the Biden administration’s policy towards the region, an increasingly involved US will raise further questions over Armenia’s relationship with the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), and whether the alliance still serves Yerevan’s security needs. (Source: Sibylline)
22 Sep 22. Mystery military drone washes up on Crimea beach. Suspected Ukrainian navy device is believed to have been gathering vital intelligence on Russia and may have contained an explosive device. The unknown uncrewed surface vessel was found on the shores of Sevastopol, Crimea
A suspected Ukrainian navy drone has washed up on a beach in Crimea, sparking suggestions that Kyiv has been gathering intelligence on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.
It is possible the vessel contained an explosive device to be detonated by ramming Russian ships or submarines.
The unmarked vessel – carrying cameras and other electronic equipment – was found on a beach at Omega Bay, close to the Sevastopol naval base on the Crimea peninsula, illegally annexed by Russia in 2014.
The discovery of the device, around 150 nautical miles from Ukrainian-held waters, may explain why Russia took the recent decision to move its Kilo-Class attack submarines from the Sevastopol base to Novorossiysk, in Krasnodar Krai, southern Russia.
Earlier this week, Britain’s defence intelligence agency said the move was “highly likely due to the recent change in the local security threat level in the face of increased Ukrainian long-range strike capability”.
Defence experts assessed this to be a reference to Ukrainian long-range artillery and missile systems. That view may be changed in light of the previously unseen vessel.
The uncrewed surface vessel (USV) is thought to be about the size of a kayak and powered by a single inboard motor with a steerable waterjet propulsion system.
A mast-mounted camera is likely able to operate by day and night. A fixed panel behind the mast is thought to be a flat antenna, for communication and navigation.
There are two forward-facing sensors in the bow of the USV, which could be trigger mechanisms for an explosive device located in the drone. (Source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/)
22 Sep 22. Russian Mobilization May Be Reinforcing Failure in Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir V. Putin’s mobilization of 300,000 reservists may just be reinforcing failure, Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said during a news conference today.
Putin has called up 300,000 Russian reservists for his unjust and unprovoked war in Ukraine. He also indirectly rattled his nuclear quiver. His action follows a Ukrainian counteroffensive that pushed Russian forces from Kharkiv and liberated more than 3,000 square kilometers of Ukrainian territory. In August, DOD Policy Chief Colin Kahl said the Russians have lost between 50,000 and 70,000 service members in its war on Ukraine.
Putin’s mobilization “would primarily be reservists or members of the Russian military that had retired,” Ryder said.
These are not like reserve formations in the United States. The reserve components in the U.S. military are trained and ready to move in hours, days or weeks, as needed.
In the Russian model, these are people who have finished their service commitment and are being called to come back. “It’s our assessment that it would take time for Russia to train, prepare and equip these forces,” Ryder said.
Russian actions in the war on Ukraine indicate severe command and control problems and a breakdown of logistics since the invasion began February 24. These problems have not been solved and have contributed to the failure of Russian operations to take the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv in March and in the Russian inability to make much headway in the Donbas region in April.
The mobilization “may address a manpower issue for Russia,” Ryder said. “What’s not clear is whether or not it could significantly address the command and control, the logistics, the sustainment and importantly, the morale issues that we’ve seen Russian forces in Ukraine experience.”
If Russia cannot command, sustain and equip the roughly 100,000 troops they have in Ukraine, adding 300,000 more troops to the mix is not going to make the situation better. “If you are already having significant challenges and haven’t addressed some of those systemic strategic issues that make any large military force capable, there’s nothing to indicate that it’s going to get any easier by adding more variables to the equation,” Ryder said.
The United States and its partners are going to continue a very open and rigorous dialogue with Ukrainian counterparts to understand the country’s needs. “I don’t see those conversations as being impacted by the situation ,” the general said. “I think it’s important here to provide a little bit of context. If we go back in time a little bit, Russia invaded Ukraine and attempted to annex all of Ukraine.
“They failed in that strategic objective, and so they scaled down the scope of their operational objectives,” he continued. “Even those aren’t going well due to Ukraine’s counter offensive and the issues that I’ve highlighted in terms of logistics and sustainment.”
Putin making the announcement on mobilization, scheduling sham referenda in captured areas of the Donbas or threats about attacking territory, “it doesn’t change the operational facts on the ground, which are that the Ukrainians will continue to fight for their country,” Ryder said. “The Russian military is dealing with some significant challenges on the ground and the international community will stand behind Ukraine as they fight to defend their country from an invasion.” (Source: US DoD)
23 Sep 22. Four Ukraine regions prepare to hold referendums on joining Russia.
- Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia vote
- Areas represent about 15% of Ukraine territory
- Votes seen as paving the way for Russian escalation
- Referendums face widespread international criticism
Four areas of Ukraine controlled by Russia and pro-Moscow forces were preparing to hold referendums on Friday on joining Russia, votes widely condemned by the West as illegitimate and a precursor to illegal annexation.
Russian-installed leaders on Tuesday announced plans for the ballots, a challenge to the West that could sharply escalate the war. The results are seen as a foregone conclusion in favour of annexation, and Ukraine and its allies have made clear they will not recognise the outcomes.
Voting in the Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia provinces, representing about 15% of Ukrainian territory, is due to run from Friday to Tuesday.
Ukraine this month launched a counteroffensive that has recaptured large swathes of territory, seven months after Russia invaded and launched a war that has killed thousands, displaced ms and damaged the global economy.
The referendums had been discussed for months by pro-Moscow authorities but Ukraine’s recent victories prompted a scramble by officials to schedule them.
With Russian President Vladimir Putin also announcing this week a military draft to enlist 300,000 troops to fight in Ukraine, Moscow appears to be trying to regain the upper hand in the conflict.
Russia argues that it is an opportunity for people in the region to express their view.
“From the very start of the operation … we said that the peoples of the respective territories should decide their fate, and the whole current situation confirms that they want to be masters of their fate,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said this week.
Ukraine says Russia intends to frame the referendum results as a sign of popular support, and then use them as a pretext for annexation, similar to its takeover of Crimea in 2014, which the international community has not recognised.
By incorporating the four areas into Russia, Moscow could justify military escalation as necessary to defend its territory. Putin on Wednesday said Russia would “use all the means at our disposal” to protect itself, an apparent reference to nuclear weapons. “This is not a bluff,” he said.
“Encroachment onto Russian territory is a crime which allows you to use all the forces of self–defence,” Dmitry Medvedev, who was Russia’s president from 2008 to 2012, said in a post on Telegram.
Referendum results in favour of Russia are considered inevitable. The vote in Crimea in 2014, criticized internationally as rigged, had an official result of 97% in favour of formal annexation.
“If this is all declared Russia territory, they can declare that this is a direct attack on Russia so they can fight without any reservations,” Luhansk regional governor Serhiy Gaidai told Ukrainian TV.
The referendums have been denounced by world leaders including U.S. President Joe Biden, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and French President Emmanuel Macron, as well as NATO, the European Union and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
The “sham referenda” are “illegal and illegitimate,” NATO said.
The OSCE, which monitors elections, said the outcomes would have no legal force because they do not conform with Ukraine law or international standards and the areas are not secure.
There will be no independent observers, and much of the pre-war population has fled.
Russia already considers Luhansk and Donetsk, which together make up the Donbas region Moscow partially occupied in 2014, to be independent states.
Ukraine and the West consider all parts of Ukraine held by Russian forces to be illegally occupied. Russia does not fully control any of the four regions, with only around 60% of Donetsk region in Russian hands.
Ukraine has said the referendums were a sign Russia was running scared. “Any decision that the Russian leadership may take changes nothing for Ukraine,” Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Thursday.
“Of interest to us are strictly the tasks before us. This is the liberation of our country, defending our people and mobilising world support (public opinion) to carry out those tasks.”
Putin says Russia is carrying out a “special military operation” to demilitarise Ukraine, rid it of dangerous nationalists and defend Russia from NATO.
Kyiv and the West call Russia’s actions an unprovoked, imperialist bid to reconquer a country that shook off Russian domination with the 1991 break-up of the Soviet Union.
Ukraine’s General Staff said Russia had launched attacks in the Donetsk region and that Ukrainian shelling had wounded a Russian general in the Luhansk region.
“The enemy continues to suffer losses, in particular among the leadership,” it said on Friday.
Russia has reportedly lost several high-ranking commanders during the seven-month war.
The General Staff said Ukrainian units had repelled Russian attacks in the areas of Kupyansk, Spirne, Mayorsk, Zaitseve, Avdiivka, Novomykhailivka, Opytne and Kamianka settlements.
The head of Russian-backed separatists in Donetsk denounced Ukrainian attacks as “cynical barbarian shelling” intended to cause as much damage as possible to civilians.
“That is why we want to act quickly and with greater resolve with measures like the staging of the referendum,” said Denis Pushilin.
“We have been waiting a long time for it. We were dreaming of it. And at last it is going to take place.”
Reuters is unable verify battlefield reports. (Source: Reuters)
21 Sep 22. Nuclear wars ‘cannot be won’, Joe Biden tells UN.
- The West should be prepared to call Putin’s nuclear bluff
- Podcast – Ukraine: the latest
US President Joe Biden has condemned Vladimir Putin’s “reckless” nuclear threats and accused him of “shamelessly violating the core tenets” of the United Nations charter.
In an address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Mr Biden said the US and its allies would continue to stand in solidarity against Russia.
The US President said it was a “brutal needless war, a war chosen by one man, to be very blunt.”
He said Mr Putin had made “overt nuclear threats against Ukraine in reckless disregard for [his] responsibilities.”
Mr Biden’s speech had to be re-written after the Russian leader threatened a nuclear conflict with the West and announced that 300,000 reserve troops would be drafted into the army.
Mr Putin said he was “not bluffing” on nuclear weapons and warned Russia would use all the means at its disposal to protect territory it plans to annex in Ukraine through sham referendums.
Many flights out of Russia have sold out, with fears that men of fighting age will soon be barred from leaving the country.
More than 200 people have been arrested at demonstrations across Russia against President Vladimir Putin’s announcement earlier of a partial mobilisation of civilians to fight in Ukraine, a police monitoring group has said.
AFP journalists in the centre of the Russian capital said police wearing anti-riot gear were detaining protesters, while the OVD-Info monitoring group said at least 260 people were detained at rallies in 20 different cities.
French President Emmanuel Macron has urged the world to ramp up pressure on Vladimir Putin after the Russian leader called up reservists for the war on Ukraine.
The French leader, speaking on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, where condemnation of Moscow’s invasion has reverberated, said the West should use “all the means” at its disposal to get Putin to change course.
“I deeply regret the choice of President Putin to drag his country, especially the youth, into the war,” Mr Macron told reporters in New York.
Putin’s decisions will only “serve to isolate Russia further,” and the international community must “put maximum pressure on President Putin to stop this war that no longer makes any sense,” he said.
Vladimir Putin’s thinly veiled threat to use nuclear weapons after Russian setbacks in Ukraine was “dangerous and reckless rhetoric,” NATO’s secretary general has said, adding that the only way to end the war was to prove Moscow will not win on the battlefield.
Jens Stoltenberg also told Reuters in an interview that Putin’s announcement of Russia’s first military mobilisation since World War Two would escalate the conflict and cost more lives. But, the NATO chief added, it also represented evidence that Putin had made a “big mistake” with Russia’s decision to invade its neighbour on Feb. 24. (Source: Daily Telegraph)
21 Sep 22. Russia modifies Kalashnikov weapon to speed up firing – RIA. Russia has modified the Kalashnikov AK-12 weapon its forces use in Ukraine to speed up firing and give soldiers more control over firing modes, RIA state news agency reported early on Wednesday, citing the weapon maker’s president.
The AK-12 version, which entered service in 2018, will have its two-round burst cut-off disabled and will have a two-way control of firing modes, as well as an adjustable cheek rest, Kalashnikov Concern’s President Alan Lushnikov told RIA.
“In the shortest possible time, we selected technical solutions, made a prototype and demonstrated it to representatives of the Russian Ministry of Defense,” Lushnikov said.
He did not say when the modernised weapon will enter service, saying only that it is in the design documentation stage.
The AK-12 assault rifle developed by Kalashnikov, the general issue weapon of the Russian armed forces, has a caliber of 5.45 millimetres (mm) and an improved accuracy over its earlier versions, among others.
The Kalashnikov arms maker was sanctioned by the United States in 2014, the year Russia invaded and annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea. The EU and UK levelled their own sanctions against Kalashnikov Concern this year.
Russian President Vladimir Putin calls the invasion a “special operation” to demilitarise its neighbour, while Kyiv accuses Moscow of an imperial-style land grab to retake a pro-Western neighbour that shook off Russian domination when the Soviet Union broke up in 1991. (Source: Reuters)
20 Sep 22. Ukraine captures Russia’s advanced T-90M tank. Abandoned in Kharkiv region, a gift to western intelligence services.
One of Russia’s most advanced tanks has been captured in near-perfect condition during advances by Ukrainian troops in the Kharkiv region.
The T-90M was found abandoned with one of the tracks missing. Although the Ukrainians have destroyed at least one of the battle tanks since the Russian invasion began nearly seven months ago, this is the first time one has been captured — providing the Kyiv government and Nato allies with a unique opportunity to examine the Kremlin’s most capable operational tank.
At the start of the war in Ukraine, the Russian military deployed older-generation tanks such as the T-72 and T-80 which were built more than 40 years ago. They proved to be vulnerable to portable anti-tank weapons supplied by Nato and to armed drones such as the Turkish Bayraktar TB2. Hundreds of T-72s and T-80s have been destroyed.
The T-90M was first brought into Ukraine in April, although only in small numbers. Russia’s T-14 Armata is more technologically advanced but not yet officially operational.
The T-90M, also known as the Proryv-3 (Breakthrough-3), is not revolutionary in terms of design. The first T-90 model entered service with the Russian army in 1992, with the T-90M version becoming operational in April 2020.
Previously Russian tank manufacturers had relied on western technology for key parts but after international sanctions were introduced they were forced to depend on domestically-produced components for the gunner sights. The tank is less vulnerable to attack from anti-tank weapons and drones than some of the older vehicles in Russian service
The tank has a new gunner’s thermal sight called PNM-T which was designed using exclusively Russian-made components.
It also has advanced protection to reduce the impact of the latest western armour-piercing tank rounds, and a new turret design. The tank’s 125mm cannon fires both standard shells and anti-tank guided missiles.
A Pentagon official disclosed this week that it was possible US tanks might be supplied to Ukraine, despite hesitation to do so in the past. Other Nato allies have sent tanks, with the Czech Republic first among them. (Source: The Times)
19 Sep 22. Germany supplies Dingo armoured vehicles and two more MRLs to Kyiv. Germany is supplying Ukraine with 50 Dingo armoured vehicles and two more Mittleres Artillerie Raketen System (MARS) multiple rocket launchers (MRLs), German Federal Minister of Defence Christine Lambrecht said at Bundeswehrtagung (armed forces meeting) 2022 in Berlin on 15 September. She said Germany would provide Ukraine with 200 rockets for training on the MRLs, which are a European upgrade of the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), according to Land Warfare Platforms: Artillery and Air Defence. This follows Lambrecht’s announcement at the 15 June meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group in Brussels that Germany would transfer three MARS II launchers and Guided MLRS (GMLRS) rockets from Bundeswehr stocks to Ukraine. The United States is supplying Ukraine with the M142 High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) and GMLRS munitions and the United Kingdom is donating MLRS launchers with GMLRS munitions. The US and UK have not specified how many MRLs they are providing in addition to the initial four HIMARS and three MLRS systems they announced in June. (Source: Janes)
20 Sep 22. UK to spend at least £2.3bn on Ukraine war effort in 2023. Liz Truss will tell world leaders this week that Britain will match or exceed the £2.3bn it committed to Ukraine’s war effort against Russia in 2022 next year on her first overseas trip as UK prime minister. Truss, who met many leaders on the margins of Queen Elizabeth’s state funeral in London on Monday, will arrive in New York on Tuesday with a hawkish commitment to stand by Ukraine for the long haul. Speaking ahead of the trip, Truss vowed to the people of Ukraine: “The UK will continue to be right behind you every step of the way.” She will repeat that message in an address to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday. Her trip to New York, where she will also hold bilateral talks with US president Joe Biden, marks the return of normal politics in Britain after 10 days of national mourning and the start of a crucial week for her government. On Wednesday Jacob Rees-Mogg, business secretary, will set out more details of an energy bailout for companies, while on Thursday Thérèse Coffey, health secretary, will present a plan to shore up a struggling NHS. Meanwhile, Truss will be back in London to see Kwasi Kwarteng, the chancellor, deliver tax cuts as part of a mini-Budget on Friday, which will focus on her plan to boost Britain’s sluggish economic growth rate. Labour, which has refrained from political attacks during the mourning period, will resume criticism of Truss, claiming that her government will favour the rich and profitable big business over ordinary people. Sir Keir Starmer, Labour leader, will target Kwarteng’s plan to scrap a cap on bankers’ bonuses, his refusal to impose an expanded windfall levy on energy companies and his plan to reverse a corporation tax rise. Ed Miliband, shadow climate change secretary, said: “From ducking a windfall tax to giving bankers bonuses whilst working people suffer, Liz Truss is confirming what we’ve known all along: that Conservatives will never stand up for the British people.” Kwarteng will argue that his huge state intervention to hold down energy bills proves he is helping ordinary people. He claims that tax cuts generate growth, even if they are funded by borrowing. Truss, foreign secretary in Boris Johnson’s government, will use her speech at the UN to urge the west to step up support for Kyiv following Ukraine’s recent successes on the battlefield against Russia. Truss has previously said Moscow must leave the “whole of Ukraine”: a reference to her belief that Russian president Vladimir Putin should also pull his forces out of Crimea, which he invaded and annexed in 2014. Recommended Chris Giles The mini-Budget is taking great risks with the public finances Downing Street said the UK was already the second-largest military donor to Ukraine, committing £2.3bn in 2022. Britain has trained 27,000 members of the Ukrainian armed forces since 2015, and Number 10 said the UK has provided hundreds of rockets, five air defence systems, 120 armoured vehicles and other equipment. Truss’s allies claim the largest commercial road move of ammunition since the second world war was carried out last week. Tens of thousands more rounds of UK-donated artillery ammunition went to the front lines in Ukraine. (Source: FT.com)
19 Sep 22. U.S. Official Says Russia Has Failed to Achieve Strategic Objectives. The bottom line of the whole Russian invasion of Ukraine is that Russian President Vladimir V. Putin has failed to achieve any of his strategic objectives in launching the brutal and unprovoked attack, a senior defense official said on background today.
Putin launched the attack on his peaceful neighbor on February 24, and aimed a lightning-fast attack on the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv with the idea of removing Ukraine’s leadership and installing a puppet regime.
It failed, and the Russians withdrew from the region near the capital and moved troops to the east. “On September 1, … President Putin called for the entirety of Donetsk province to be under Russian controlled by September 15,” the official said. “But Putin’s forces clearly have failed to deliver.”
At the same time, Ukrainian forces launched a counteroffensive against the region north and east of its second-city of Kharkiv. That offensive has been successful, with Ukrainian troops re-taking an area the size of Delaware and Rhode Island combined, the official said.
The Russian military is having a tough time requiting personnel to fight in the misguided war on Ukraine. The Ukrainian military has caused significant casualties among the Russian forces invading the country and “we’re seeing the Kremlin increasingly straining to find new recruits to fill out their thin ranks, and the Russians are performing so poorly that the news from Kharkiv province has inspired many Russian volunteers to refuse combat,” the official said.
The official cited a video that has been circulating on social media of a representative of the private Russian military contractor Wagner, tries to convince Russian prisoners to join the fight in Ukraine. “We believe this is part of Wagner’s campaign to recruit over 1,500 convicted felons, but many are refusing,” the official said. “Our information indicates that Wagner has been suffering high losses in Ukraine, especially and unsurprisingly among young and inexperienced fighters.”
In contrast, the Ukrainian military has high morale as it continues to push forward in a very deliberate fashion.
In the eastern part of the nation, Ukraine now controls all its territory, west of the Oskil River. The official said the Ukrainians have liberated more than 300 towns in Kharkiv province.
A senior military official said the Ukrainians are still making “deliberate progress” against the Russians in the south. The Russians have pushed in the Donbass region, but the advances amount to just a “few hundred meters.”
Russian forces have fought back, but they are attacking civilian infrastructure rather than military targets. U.S. officials see these attacks as retaliation rather than making any kind of military sense.
“We all know that this fight is far from over,” the senior defense official said. Ukraine has made tremendous progress against a far larger foe. But Ukraine must have support from the United States, allies and partners to continue its effort.
Nations of the world are working together to ensure Ukraine gets what it needs, when it needs it. They are also working to ensure Ukrainian service members have the training needed to operate new equipment or integrate new capabilities into their military operations. “We will continue to also work on Ukraine’s mid- and long-term needs, even as we support their fight today,” the official said. (Source: US DoD)
20 Sep 22. Slovenia to arm Ukrainian forces with 28 M-55S tanks. The move is part of a ring exchange agreement between Slovenia and Germany. Slovenian Prime Minister Robert Golob and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz have agreed on a ring exchange to equip Ukrainian troops.
As part of their extended bilateral dialogue, the two leaders discussed the ongoing war in Ukraine and highlighted the need for solidarity to help the nation against Russian aggression. As part of the joint action, Slovenia will ship as many as 28 M-55S tanks to Ukraine.
In return, Germany will transfer 40 military transport vehicles, including 35 heavy 8×8 hook loaders and five heavy 8×8 water tankers, to Slovenia. Through the exchange agreement, Slovenia also seeks to enhance its defence cooperation with Germany.
Slovenia has 30 modernised M-55S tanks, a revamped version of the 1950s Soviet-era Т-55 tanks.
The project to modernise the tanks was taken up jointly by Slovenian STO RAVNE and Israel-based Elbit in the late 1990s.
The unified German armed forces, the Bundeswehr, agreed to provide another four Panzerhaubitze 2000 artillery pieces to Ukraine.
It will also include an additional ammunition package.
German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said: “In order to further support Ukraine in its courageous fight against the brutal Russian attack, Germany will comply with this request and is now providing four more of these self-propelled howitzers.
“They come straight from the maintenance department, which has been significantly accelerated in cooperation with the industry. This increases the number of these high-performance guns supplied by Germany to 14.” (Source: army-technology.com)
Founded in 1987, Exensor Technology is a world leading supplier of Networked Unattended Ground Sensor (UGS) Systems providing tailored sensor solutions to customers all over the world. From our Headquarters in Lund Sweden, our centre of expertise in Network Communications at Communications Research Lab in Kalmar Sweden and our Production site outside of Basingstoke UK, we design, develop and produce latest state of the art rugged UGS solutions at the highest quality to meet the most stringent demands of our customers. Our systems are in operation and used in a wide number of Military as well as Homeland Security applications worldwide. The modular nature of the system ensures any external sensor can be integrated, providing the user with a fully meshed “silent” network capable of self-healing. Exensor Technology will continue to lead the field in UGS technology, provide our customers with excellent customer service and a bespoke package able to meet every need. A CNIM Group Company