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Military and security developments
07 Oct 22.
Armenia-Azerbaijan: EU mission on the border will reduce likelihood of major clashes and facilitate progress towards implementation of peace plan. On 7 October, Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to establish a civilian EU mission along their shared border. In a meeting that took place on the periphery of the first-ever European Political Community summit in Prague, the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and the Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan both reaffirmed their governments’ commitment to each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The mission will begin its work in October and last for a maximum of two months, with the aim of strengthening trust and contributing to the work of border demarcation commissions. The establishment of a civilian EU mission would mark a clear step towards de-escalation and the implementation of the 2020 peace plan between Armenia and Azerbaijan, with Aliyev today stating that a peace treaty with Armenia could potentially come to fruition by the end of 2022.
Ukraine: Former head of the National Bank faces fraud investigation, as the Anti-corruption Bureau continues to push through reforms despite ongoing war. On 7 October, the former head of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) Kyrylo Shevchenko was placed under criminal investigation following his resignation earlier this week. Ukraine’s Anti-corruption Bureau (NABU) and the Specialised Anti-corruption Prosecutors (SAP) are investigating an allegation of fraud relating to UAH 206 million (USD 5.58 million) that went missing during his time leading the state-owned Ukrgasbank. The investigation has reportedly identified parties involved in the establishment of 52 fictitious agents, who allegedly transferred state bank funds illegally. However, Shevchenko has claimed political pressure is undermining the independence of the NBU, with President Zelensky utilising his mandate to push through numerous reforms in a bid to secure international financial backing. Despite and in part because of the ongoing war, Kyiv is making progress with such anti-corruption reforms, while the NBU seeks to ensure the uninterrupted operation of Ukraine’s financial and regulatory authorities during a turbulent economic period.
- During his nightly address to the nation, President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed that Ukrainian forces have retaken 500 square kilometres in Kherson oblast since the start of October. However, the tempo of advances has slowed over the last 24-48 hours, with Russian sources reporting very few Ukrainian attacks in northern Kherson oblast on 6 October. Ukrainian forces are therefore likely regrouping in preparation for further assaults against Russia’s newly established defensive lines in central Kherson oblast, where satellite imagery from 4 October indicates trenches and radar deflector systems have been established. Russian sources have meanwhile reported several Ukrainian attacks to the northwest of Kherson city, though no confirmed progress was made on 6 October.
- On the Kharkiv-Luhansk axis in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian forces have continued to make steady progress. Geolocated footage emerging on 6 October indicates that Ukrainian forces have taken the town of Hlushkivka, 14km southeast of Kupiansk. The Russian Ministry of Defence also claimed on 6 October that their forces had successfully repelled numerous Ukrainian attacks towards Berestove, Kyslivka and Pershotravneve, all between 20-30km east of Kupiansk, indicating further consolidation of Ukraine’s bridgehead east of Kupiansk and progress towards the Luhansk oblast administrative border.
- Further south, Ukrainian forces are continuing to make slow but steady progress around Kreminna, including sabotage and reconnaissance attacks along the R-66 highway running north towards Svatove. The former Luhansk People’s Republic’s (LNR) Ambassador to Russia, Rodio Miroshnik, claimed on 6 October that Ukraine has massed 10,000 troops west of Kreminna, indicating preparations for an assault in the coming days and weeks. He also claimed that regular Russian forces have largely ‘lost contact’ with Svatove and Kreminna. It remains unclear what exactly he meant by this given previous reports that regular elements of the Russian 1st Guards Tank Army and 20th Combined Arms Army had redeployed to prepare the defences of Svatove. However, this could be in reference to Ukrainian spoiling attacks along the R-66 highway, which has likely severed the principal ground line of communication between the two cities.
- Amid the recent Russian withdrawals in both Kharkiv and Kherson oblasts, the commander of Russia’s Central Grouping of forces has continued to prioritise ground attacks along the Bakhmut line, with his forces seemingly making some incremental progress over the last 48 hours. Various Russian sources have claimed, seemingly backed up by geolocated footage, that Wagner and regular Russian forces have taken control of Vesela Dolyna (5km southeast of Bakhmut) and are reportedly advancing towards Ivanhrad, on the outskirts of Bakhmut town itself. Russian sources have claimed their forces have made steady and incremental gains on the eastern outskirts of Bakhmut in recent weeks, but the rate of advance has been extremely slow in contrast to the thousands of square kilometres of land Russian forces have lost over the same period.
- On 6 October, the Ukrainian General Staff confirmed that during Russia’s withdrawal from Lyman and northern Donetsk oblast, Russian forces blew up a dam along the Siverskyi Donets River. The dam caused mass flooding in the nearby town of Raihorodok (8km southwest of Lyman). Since the beginning of the Kharkiv counteroffensive last month, Russian forces have consistently attempted to target hydro-technical facilities across the frontline in a bid to flood downriver areas and slow Ukrainian advances.
- Four specialists from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are reportedly due to arrive at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) later today, 7 October. The visit comes less than 24 hours after President Putin ordered the seizure of the plant and the transfer of control to the Russian nuclear energy agency Rosenergoatom. While the IAEA is currently conducting negotiations to establish a ‘protective zone’ around the plant, the threat of an escalation around the plant continues to increase amid Russia’s battlefield setbacks.
- Yesterday, 6 October, Russian intelligence claimed Ukrainian special forces (together with ‘British specialists’) are planning to seize the plant, and it remains a realistic possibility that Moscow is setting conditions for some sort of false-flag operation at the plant. Such an operation would likely blame Ukrainian (and by extension Western) forces for triggering a nuclear disaster at the plant, which in turn could be used to justify a further escalation. As we previously assessed in August, Russia remains highly unlikely to trigger a genuine nuclear incident at the plant given any resultant fallout is as much likely to impact Russia as Ukraine and Europe (see Sibylline Situation Update Brief – 18 August).
- However, if Ukrainian forces manage to launch a third counteroffensive south of Vulhedar into Zaporizhzhia oblast and look poised to retake the plant, the situation could change. Triggering a nuclear incident, or at least claiming Ukrainian forces had attempted to do so, could allow Russian forces to justify providing its ground forces with CBRN tactical gear. This in turn could ultimately be used as cover for wider preparations for a transition to tactical nuclear weapons use on the battlefield. This remains unlikely at present, but claiming the need to protect its troops from Ukrainian ‘nuclear terrorism’ would fit the Russian narrative already established, and also serve as another pre-nuclear signal to deter further NATO involvement in Ukraine. We will continue to monitor for further signals that would indicate an increased threat of tactical nuclear weapon use and/or a false-flag nuclear incident at the ZNPP. See the Forecast below for further analysis.
- According to unnamed US intelligence officials cited in the Washington Post on 7 October, the US has received intelligence that an unspecified member of Vladimir Putin’s inner circle has voiced disagreements over the handling of the war in Ukraine directly to the president. The report provided no further details. However, if true, it could indicate growing discontent within the Kremlin over Putin’s personal handling of the war. Earlier US intelligence reports indicated that he has been micromanaging military operations at the level of a colonel throughout the conflict. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated categorically on 7 October that the reports are untrue, while he acknowledged that disagreements on a range of policy issues remain par the course in government.
- Criticism of Putin himself has remained off-limits to all sections of Russian society, with arguments around the deteriorating military situation in Ukraine largely manifesting as factional infighting between the Siloviki and Ministry of Defence (see Sibylline Daily Ukraine Update – 6 October for further details). While unlikely to ever be confirmed, the US intelligence could indicate growing divisions within the Kremlin itself and criticism of Putin personally, albeit behind closed doors. If the military situation continues to deteriorate for Russian forces in Ukraine, further evidence of factional infighting and recriminations directed towards Putin would remain key trigger points to indicate Putin is losing control of the narrative and his subordinates.
- However, beyond this unconfirmed report, there are very limited indications to suggest that Putin’s regime is in imminent danger of an internal coup attempt or more destructive factional infighting. The opaque nature of Kremlin power structures will nevertheless make it extremely difficult to predict if a coup were about to take place, as it would not be in the interests of the would-be plotters to signal their moves beforehand. For the time being, the blame for failures in Ukraine is being successfully channelled towards the Ministry of Defence, which will continue to insulate Putin and his inner circle from criticism in the short term, mitigating government instability risks.
On 6 October, US President Joe Biden warned that the world faces ‘Armageddon’ if Moscow uses tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine, saying that the world has never been as close to a nuclear war since the Cuban Missile Crisis. Biden’s remarks represent the clearest and most stark acknowledgement to date of the growing threat of nuclear escalation in Ukraine. However, it should be noted that despite Biden’s speech, unnamed US officials have stated that Washington has seen no change to Russia’s nuclear posture in recent days. Our assessment has also not changed, which considers nuclear weapon use to be unlikely at present. However, nuclear rhetoric and the threat of escalation have continued to increase, particularly following President Zelensky’s nightly address to the nation on 6 October. He stated that NATO’s role was to ‘make it impossible for Russia to use nuclear weapons’. He called on the alliance to conduct ‘pre-emptive strikes, so they [the Russians] know what will happen to them if they use [nuclear weapons], and not […] to wait for nuclear strikes by Russia’. Moscow immediately responded by accusing Zelensky of calling for a nuclear war. This led senior Ukrainian government officials to seek to clarify Zelensky’s statement. They claim that Zelensky was referring to ‘preventive sanctions’ before the invasion when he referred to ‘pre-emptive strikes against Russia’.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has this morning, 7 October, issued another statement condemning Zelensky’s speech, claiming it confirmed the threats Kyiv poses to Russia and justified the ‘need’ for a ‘special military operation’. Despite the presidential administration’s attempts to clarify the wording, Zelensky’s ambiguous statement will only serve to exacerbate the current tensions on the back of both Washington and Moscow’s warnings of the growing threat of nuclear war. Lavrov has already reiterated unfounded Russian accusations that the US had sponsored illegal biological weapons labs in Ukraine and highlighted that Ukrainian forces are still allegedly targeting the ZNPP. This once again plays into Russian narratives of Ukrainian ‘nuclear terrorism’ (see above) and illustrates the enduring threat of escalation to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) use. Irrespective of what Zelensky meant, his open call for ‘pre-emptive strikes’ against Russia will only reinforce mounting concerns in the Kremlin that NATO is preparing to intervene more directly in Ukraine, fuelling paranoia. Amid Russia’s growing conventional weakness, this will only reinforce current escalatory dynamics and the likelihood of further demonstrations of Russian unconventional military capabilities as part of an escalate to de-escalate strategy, which aims at deterring greater US/NATO involvement in Ukraine.
06 Oct 22.
- The Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kharkiv oblast continues to make steady progress. The most significant development over the last 24 hours was the likely Ukrainian seizure of Hrekivka and Makiivka, two villages inside Luhansk oblast some 24km southwest of Svatove. These are amongst the first settlements Ukrainian forces have retaken inside the borders of Luhansk oblast and indicate that Ukrainian forces are making steady progress towards Svatove, a major Russian logistics hub and the key defensive position protecting the rest of the oblast. Ukrainian forces are also making slower progress to the south, with Russian sources reporting on Ukrainian operations along the R66 highway that runs south towards Kreminna and Severodonetsk.
- On the southern Kherson front, the Ukrainians are consolidating recently liberated territory as the Russians regroup following their limited withdrawal. On 5 October, President Zelensky confirmed that Ukrainian forces had liberated several further settlements in Kherson oblast, including Novovoskresenske, Novohryhorivka and Petropavlivka in the north of the oblast. Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command has also now confirmed the liberation of Bilyaivka, Davydiv Brid, Khreshchenivka, Lyubimivka, Mala Oleksandrivka, Ukrainka, Velyka Oleksandrivka and Zolta Balka.
- While the majority of developments over recent days have been in northern Kherson oblast, Ukrainian forces are also likely stepping up activity along the western and southern ends of the line. Russian sources have also been reporting over the last 24 hours that Ukrainian forces are massing in anticipation of further counteroffensive operations northwest of Kherson city. In addition, fighting is also reportedly taking place near the strategic town of Snihurivka – a Russian-held settlement 45km northwest of Kherson city that is crucially on the western bank of the Inhulets River, and controls the R-81 highway and numerous railway lines running back towards Kherson and Nova Kakhovka.
- Contradictory reports on 5 October suggest that Russian officers have now left Snihurivka, while the bulk of ground forces remain there for the time being – indicating possible preparations for a withdrawal. If the Russians were to abandon Snihurivka, their positions on the western bank of the Inhulets River north of Kherson city would be increasingly vulnerable to Ukrainian counterattack – which Russian reports indicate could be imminent. This will increase the isolation of Kherson city from the bulk of Russian forces fighting across the river on the eastern side of the Inhulets.
- The Southern Operational Command also claimed on 5 October that Russian forces have been destroying their own ammunition depots during withdrawals. This is likely a key lesson learned from the chaotic retreat from Kharkiv oblast last month when significant quantities of ammunition and equipment were abandoned by Russian forces. Notably in this regard, the Wall Street Journal published a report on 5 October stating that captured Russian weapons make up the largest supply of heavy weapons for the Ukrainian military. Chaotic retreats from north of Kyiv, Kharkiv and elsewhere have meant Russia has inadvertently provided Ukraine with more equipment than the US and Kyiv’s other allies in pure numbers – though the quality of Western-provided kit is often much superior.
- Nevertheless, modern equipment has been captured en masse, particularly last month. Deputy Chief of Staff Ruslan Andriyko has claimed that one battalion of Ukrainian forces, the Carpathian Sich, seized 10 modern T-80 main battle tanks as well as five S25 Giatsint-S 152mm self-propelled howitzers after liberating Lyman. Other units also captured much more modern equipment during the Kharkiv counteroffensive, including T-90 tanks and BTR-82 infantry fighting vehicles. Such captured equipment, particularly Soviet-era artillery shells, is likely allowing Ukrainian forces to sustain the momentum of its counteroffensive in Kharkiv oblast.
- Russian long-range strikes have continued over the last 24 hours. This morning, 6 October, numerous missiles reportedly struck near ‘civilian infrastructure’ in the Shepetiv district of Khmelnytskyi oblast in western Ukraine, though no serious damage has been reported. This follows a kamikaze drone attack against Kyiv oblast yesterday, indicating that Russian forces are likely to target civilian infrastructure in northern and western Ukraine more regularly, particularly as the military situation in Kherson and Kharkiv oblasts continues to deteriorate for Russian ground forces. Similarly, Russian missiles targeted Zaporizhzhia city overnight and have continued this morning, with several high-rise residential blocks reportedly struck, resulting in an unconfirmed number of casualties.
- On 5 October, President Putin signed a decree ordering that the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) becomes the property of the Russian federal government and control be transferred to Russia’s nuclear energy agency Rosenergoatom (owned by Rosatom). According to unconfirmed but credible reports, Russian occupiers are coercing Ukrainian nuclear engineers at the plant to sign employment contracts with Rosenergoatom. Following Putin’s decree, Petro Kotin, the head of Ukraine’s state nuclear energy agency Energoatom, claimed that he was taking control of the ZNPP and that the decree had no practical significance to the running of the plant.
- The row over operational control of the plant comes as Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi arrived in Kyiv today, 6 October. He is due to hold talks in Kyiv and Moscow this week to discuss the establishment of a ‘protective zone’ around the ZNPP. On 6 October, Russian state media claimed that the Russians had received intelligence that Ukrainian special forces ‘with the participation of British specialists’ are planning to capture the ZNPP. Moscow had previously claimed Ukrainian forces had crossed the Dnieper and attempted to seize the plant, though there was limited evidence to suggest a Ukrainian landing had taken place. As such, demilitarisation of the plant remains unlikely, but Moscow is highly likely to use the talks to push for IAEA recognition of Rosenergoatom jurisdiction over the plant.
- In another decree signed on 5 October, Putin deferred mobilisation for all students. It is the latest attempt to rationalise the chaotic partial mobilisation process, though Putin notably laid the blame on the Ministry of Defence.
- On 5 October, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov stated that President Putin had promoted him to the rank of Colonel-General. While the Kremlin has not confirmed the promotion, it is significant given the growing infighting between various pro-war factions in the wake of the military defeats in Kharkiv and Kherson oblasts. Together with Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin, Kadyrov has emerged as one of the strongest critics of both the Ministry of Defence and the commander of the Central Military District Alexander Lapin. As such, Putin likely promoted Kadyrov to maintain both his and his Chechen forces’ support, while tacitly accepting criticism of both Lapin and the Ministry of Defence (as the 5 October mobilisation decree indicated).
- However, the deputy secretary of the General Council of the ruling United Russia party, Alexander Khushtein, published footage on 5 October that showed Rosgvardia SOBR Spetsnaz forces arrest Alexei Slobodenyuk, an employee of Prigozhin’s Patriot media group, in Moscow. Slobodenyuk currently manages several military blogging Telegram channels, many of which have in recent days directly criticised not only Lapin but also leading Siloviki, including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov and State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin. Prigozhin has been actively engaging in a PR campaign calling for the sacking of Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, with this latest arrest the clearest example of infighting amongst Moscow factions.
- The arrest could be an attempt to encourage Prigozhin to rein in his more radical supporters. It is most likely to be a wider warning to milbloggers and commentators that the Kremlin will not accept criticism of individuals close to Putin, while tacitly signalling that criticism of Shoigu and the Ministry of Defence is acceptable. As we previously reported, Shoigu is likely being set up as a scapegoat for Russia’s recent military setbacks, though it remains unclear when or if Putin will fire him. Given the deterioration of the situation in Kharkiv, Luhansk and Kherson, it is likely in Putin’s interest to keep Shoigu in place for as long as possible, to continue directing blame at him for the current (and any future) military setbacks.
- Given Kadyrov’s promotion and the arrest of a Prigozhin employee, Putin is likely trying to control the various factions that are now openly briefing against one another – namely senior Siloviki (including Kadyrov and Prigozhin) on one side and the Ministry of Defence (including Defence Minister Shoigu and Lapin) on the other.
- Amid such infighting in Moscow, the New York Times on 5 October claimed that US intelligence believes that Ukraine was in part behind the assassination of prominent Russian ultra-nationalist Daria Dugina on 20 August (see Sibylline Daily Ukraine Update – 22 August). Citing unnamed US intelligence officials, the report claimed the US believes ‘parts of the Ukrainian government authorised the car bomb attack’ that killed Dugina, which likely also intended to target her father, Alexander Dugin. Ukraine has previously denied any involvement, claiming the attack was a product of the ‘internal political struggles in Russia’, and the US had reportedly admonished Kyiv for sanctioning the assassination. The report has already reignited accusations and narratives of not only Ukrainian ‘terrorist’ actions inside Russia but also claims of US-sanctioned hybrid operations inside Russia. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has stated that this does not ‘absolve [the US] of responsibility for possible future crimes of the Ukrainian authorities’. This is likely to only reinforce escalatory rhetoric and the belief that the US is actively trying to destabilise the Russian government.
On 5 October, Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov stated that Washington’s decision to continue arms supplies to Ukraine has ‘sealed its status as a participant in the conflict’, and ‘increases the danger of a direct military clash between Russia and Western countries’. He formally requested that the US end such weapons transfers ‘that could lead to the most serious consequences’. The statement followed the US’s 4 October announcement of the latest USD 625 m military aid package to Ukraine. Earlier this week we assessed the growing threat of Russian strikes against military logistic centres outside of Ukraine, including in Poland. We assessed then that there were no indications of an imminent strike against logistics centres across the Ukrainian border, and that key trigger points for such an escalation would include direct calls for the US to cease weapons transfers and/or strikes against western Ukraine. Antonov’s calls and yesterday’s strikes against Khmelnytskyi oblast (see military developments above) are therefore likely to represent signals from the Kremlin that such cross-border strikes remain an option. Again, these developments on 5 October do not in and of themselves indicate a strike against Western logistics centres outside of Ukraine is imminent. But the threat is growing and the Kremlin is signalling as much. We would expect to see more overt calls directly from the Kremlin and Putin himself for the US to cease weapons shipments, and for a wider intensification of strikes against other western Ukrainian targets, before such an escalation were to occur. These will remain the key trigger points to watch in the weeks ahead, particularly if the military situation in Ukraine continues to deteriorate for Russian forces and the Kremlin feels it needs to gamble further on an escalate to de-escalate strategy with the West.
Kazakhstan: Current president confirmed as a candidate in upcoming vote, moderately raising prospects of political stability. On 6 October, the ruling Amanat party officially nominated the current president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, as a presidential candidate for the early elections on 20 November. Although the vote is set to be tightly managed, with Tokayev expected to win, he has distanced himself from his predecessor Nazarbayev and Russia’s president Putin, thus boosting public support. Should Tokayev win, he is likely to solidify his rule further and boost political stability in the short-to-medium term. Nascent domestic political opposition, however, has vowed to protest against the election, with protests noted throughout September against the snap election. As such, in the lead-up to and the immediate aftermath of the vote, the likelihood of protests is set to be high, nevertheless, strict security and capable state repressive apparatus will likely prevent protests from escalating beyond the usual threshold.
05 Oct 22.
- On 4 October, Ukrainian forces continued to make rapid and substantial gains in Kherson oblast following a number of major breakthroughs that have precipitated a Russian withdrawal southward. Ukrainian forces are now in control of numerous towns and villages across northern Kherson oblast, including Davydiv Brid in the west and Dudchany in the east. Russian sources have also reported that the Ukrainians have taken Kachkarivka (10km south of Dudchany), and are approaching Mylove – a key settlement on the key T-04-03 highway that runs south along the western bank of the Dnieper towards Beryslav and the critical dam at Nova Khakovka. While rapid Ukrainian breakthroughs along this front set the conditions for this victory, a Russian decision to withdraw has ultimately facilitated such rapid Ukrainian advances over the last 24 hours. Numerous Russian sources reported a Russian withdrawal toward Beryslav, with forces regrouping around Mylove to establish new defensive lines.
- The daily update on the war provided by the Russian Ministry of Defence used maps clearly showing a significant Russian withdrawal to shorten the lines in the Kherson oblast. However, defence spokespeople made no mention of said withdrawal during the verbal briefing – Moscow very rarely acknowledges such setbacks. Russian sources have reported that Russian commanders are justifying the withdrawal due to a need to shorten the line to allow a concentration of forces. This remains highly likely as Russia is likely trading space for time in order to strengthen this faltering frontline. This is particularly likely given Russian reports emerging from the front on 4 October that indicated the north Kherson front was very thinly manned. According to one unconfirmed report, elements of the 126th Coastal Defence Brigade of the Black Sea Fleet have been at the front since March, without any rotation, and numerous villages on the front have been defended by as few as 15 soldiers.
- The taking of Davydiv Brid is particularly significant, as the taking of the settlement now means that Ukraine can establish new ground lines of communication into its bridgehead on the eastern bank of the Inhulets River. This is likely to provide Ukrainian forces on this axis opportunities to more effectively reinforce and push eastwards, which in combination of attacks from the north out of Dudchany will threaten to push Russian forces closer and closer to the Dnieper River, limiting their room for manoeuvre. Ukrainian forces have also reportedly struck the Antonivsky Bridge, and as Russian lines withdraw closer to the Dnieper, Ukraine is likely to step up its interdiction campaign to undermine not only options for Russian reinforcements to cross the river, but also escape routes in the event of a further collapse of the frontline.
- It should be noted that Russian forces are highly likely to have left significant concentrations of mines and other explosive devices right across the territory from which they are are withdrawing. The Ukrainian military has already issued warnings of mines in ‘infrastructure facilities and private houses’. As such, NGOs and businesses looking to return to newly liberated areas must take extreme care.
- Ukrainian forces have also continued to take ground in eastern Ukraine east of the Oskil River. Unconfirmed but geolocated footage indicates that Ukrainian troops are now operating in Borivksa Andriivka and Bohuslavka, settlements on the eastern bank of the Oskil northeast of Borova, indicating steady progress northwards following the fall of Lyman. Only two small sections of the eastern bank of the Oskil River remain under Russian control, and Ukrainian advances are threatening to outflank these positions from both the north and the south. With Ukrainian forces continuing to push effectively from the south, and Kyiv consolidating and expanding its bridgeheads across the Oskil River further north, Russian forces are likely facing the prospect of a further withdrawal eastward to the Luhansk oblast administrative border.
- Ukrainian forces are furthermore making progress towards Kreminna and the critical city of Svatove – likely the key target of Ukrainian forces on this axis. Russian sources have reported that Ukrainian reconnaissance forces are now operating along the R66 highway that runs between Kreminna and Svatove, with degraded elements of the Russian 1st Guards Tank Army and the 144th Guards Motor Rifle Division of the 20th Combined Arms Army reportedly redeploying to prepare the defence of Svatove. As a result, Ukrainian forces are highly likely to continue penetrating the Luhansk oblast border in multiple locations in the coming days. Ukrainian governor of Luhansk oblast Serhiy Haidai has this morning stated that the ‘de-occupation of Luhansk has begun’. However, despite and likely because of the speed of these Ukrainian advances along this axis, Ukrainian forces will remain vulnerable to potential Russian counterattacks. Unconfirmed reports circulating both Ukrainian and Russian social media on 4 October claimed that British intelligence (MI6) has allegedly warned the Ukrainian executive and the General Staff that Russian forces are massing north of the border around Belgorod. According to these unconfirmed reports, Russia is not deploying said forces as reserves to plug the growing holes in the Oskil defences, and as a result may be preparing to launch a counterattack designed to cut off Ukrainian forces operating on the eastern bank of the Oskil.
- At this stage we cannot confirm the credibility of the reports, but such a move would be a highly logical tactic for the Russians, and may in part explain the apparent lack of reinforcements across the Oskil-Luhansk front. Notably, the Ukrainian General Staff confirmed this morning, 5 October, that their forces had successfully repelled Russian attacks against Strilecha and Zelene, two settlements along the Ukrainian-Russian border north of Kharkiv. While not necessarily an indication of an imminent counterattack into northern Kharkiv oblast, Kyiv’s rapid advances in recent weeks will expose Ukrainian rear areas and could present a viable target for a counterattack.
- In the early hours of 5 October, numerous kamikaze drones (likely Iranian-built Shadad drones) struck civilian infrastructure targets in the city of Bila Tserkva, 80km south of Kyiv in Kyiv oblast. Ukrainian air defences reportedly shot down six of the drones, though six are estimated to have got through and struck the town.
- Polish president Andrzej Duda stated on 5 October that Warsaw is in discussions with the US on participating in NATO’s nuclear weapons sharing programme. Existing NATO Nuclear Sharing Arrangements grant non-nuclear alliance members a decision-making role in the alliance’s nuclear deterrence and defence posture, and allow for the hosting of nuclear weapons on its territory. The announcement is clearly a response to growing nuclear tensions with Russia and will form part of NATO’s strategic deterrence strategy aimed at deterring tactical nuclear weapons use in Ukraine.
- In a related development, the Pentagon stated on 4 October that it has no information to corroborate reports suggesting Russia might be moving tactical nuclear weapons by rail, with no change to the US’s nuclear posture. As assessed yesterday (see Sibylline Daily Ukraine Update – 4 October), the train in question was seemingly carrying BPM-97 light armoured vehicles, with no evidence of nuclear weapon transfers.
- On 5 October, President Volodymyr Zelensky formally called for the establishment of a ‘special tribunal’ to pursue Russian political and military leaders for their role in the invasion. While the prospect of a war crimes tribunal has been gaining traction in Ukraine and even in the EU, the proposal will only reinforce the Russian elite’s unwillingness to enter into negotiations to end the war – despite the deteriorating military situation for Russian forces on the ground.
On 5 October, President Putin formally signed into law the new accession treaties, formalising and completing the annexation of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions. However, even as Moscow completes its illegal annexation, Russian forces have lost hundreds of square kilometres of newly annexed territory in just the few short days since President Putin’s annexation announcement on 30 September.
This morning, 5 October, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to clarify the borders of the newly annexed regions, maintaining the confusion and ambiguity around the issue. Nevertheless, Russia is now in control of less territory in Ukraine than it was during the first week of the invasion in February. The rate of the Ukrainian counteroffensives and the military weaknesses apparent across the Russian frontline mean further advances are highly likely in the coming days and weeks, threatening Russian control of territory in all four of the newly annexed regions.
Ukrainian forces are decidedly dictating the operational tempo on almost all fronts. The Russian withdrawals in Kherson and Kharkiv are likely illustrative of a damage-limitation strategy trading space for time, as time is no longer on Moscow’s side as they attempt to stabilise the frontlines. The Ukrainian counteroffensives are building momentum at a much faster rate than Russia’s chaotic partial mobilisation is able to generate meaningful additional forces. Unless Russian commanders can stabilise the frontline, the Kremlin will be in serious danger of losing control of the narrative, as factional infighting between the Siloviki, military bloggers, veterans and uniformed officers begin to lay bare the contradictions of the Kremlin’s annexation policy amid such widespread military defeats.
While a counterattack south of Belgorod could provide an opportunity to prevent further Ukrainian advances into Luhansk oblast, the situation west of the Dnieper River is likely to only deteriorate further as Russian forces fight with the Dnieper at their backs, with ever-diminishing opportunities for reinforcement.
Italy: Gazprom will resume gas exports to Italy via Austria, though energy security risk remains elevated. On 5 October, Russia’s state-owned gas company Gazprom announced that the transmission of gas through Austria to Italy via the Trans Austria Gas Pipeline (TAG) is set to resume. Gazprom had suspended gas deliveries to Italy’s state-owned energy giant Eni on 1 October, blaming the Austrian grid operator for refusing to confirm transport nominations. Vienna insisted that Gazprom had not signed contracts needed to adapt to regulatory changes introduced in late September. Today (5 October), Gazprom confirmed it had reached a solution with its ‘Italian buyers’ on adapting to the regulatory changes. While the announcement will likely lead to a drop in energy prices and improved energy security in the short term, there remains a medium-to-high risk that Gazprom will exploit regulatory changes, ‘maintenance’ work or contractual disputes to either reduce or entirely cut off gas deliveries to Europe in the coming winter.
Kyrgyzstan: Cabinet reshuffle illustrates lasting impact of corruption on government stability and business environment. On 5 October, Kyrgyzstan’s president Sadyr Japarov announced a shake-up of his cabinet, including the removal of two ministers who are currently under investigation for corruption. The government has recently experienced a period of instability, characterised by political infighting and various allegations of corruption. The Prosecutor General’s Office announced on 13 September that it was investigating the country’s Energy Minister Doskul Bekmurzayev on suspicion of defrauding a private business out of KGS 15m (USD 183,000) during the refurbishment of a resort complex. Similarly, Education Minister Almazbek Beishenaliyev was remanded in custody on 28 September following claims that he extorted a USD 110,000 bribe to enrol foreign students in local universities. President Japarov’s drive towards greater nationalisation is likely to create additional opportunities for corruption in Kyrgyzstan, which is exacerbating government instability as well as corruption risks for foreign companies seeking to do business in the country.
Georgia: Proposed anti-oligarch legislation aims at improving supervision quality, but status of Ivanishvili threatens to undermine progress towards EU membership. This week Georgia’s parliament began drafting a ‘de-oligarchisation’ bill designed to reduce the influence of oligarchs on the country. The proposed bill will reportedly define an oligarch by possession of assets greater than USD 85m, alongside funding of media outlets. However, opposition politicians have criticised the move as a means by which Georgian Dream can protect the interests of its bnaire founder, Bidzina Ivanishvili. The head of the Legal Issues Committee Anri Okhanashvili has stated that the proposed law ‘cannot apply to Ivanishvili’, indicating a high likelihood that Ivanishvili’s interests will be protected. It therefore remains to be seen whether the proposed legislation will satisfy European Union requirements for reform to allow progress towards EU candidate member status. Brussels had refused to grant such status in June due to transparency issues, and indications that Ivanishvili’s interests will be protected are likely to undermine the progress.
- Pro-Russia cyber campaigns maintained pace during this monitoring period. Attacks against Ukrainian allies continued, with pro-Russian groups targeting both the UK’s domestic intelligence security agency MI5 and executing sophisticated cyber operations across ‘Meta’ platforms, Instagram and Facebook. The latter campaign involved the dissemination of Russian disinformation on over 60 websites imitating legitimate European news networks and is estimated to have cost USD 105,000 in targeted advertising. Furthermore, Ukrainian intelligence agencies have continued to warn that large-scale cyber attacks against critical infrastructure in Ukraine and its allies, particularly Poland and the Baltic states, are likely over the coming months. Although a wider precedent has now been set for the targeting of critical energy infrastructure within the territories of Ukraine’s allies, future attacks are unlikely to be particularly sophisticated and will therefore have minimal impact on the intended targets both within Ukraine and externally.
- Meanwhile, pro-Kyiv hacking groups, such as the IT Army of Ukraine, have focused their attention on targeting Russian firms across sectors including retail and technology. These groups’ attacks will likely continue to take the form of either DDoS or defacement campaigns. Meanwhile, the ransomware attack allegedly launched by the National Republican Army (NRA), a hacking group comprised of Russian citizens operating within the country, on Unisoftware represents the first report of a domestically-launched pro-Ukraine cyber attack on companies linked to the Russian government. The NRA is likely to launch further attacks on government-affiliated companies in the coming weeks.
Pro-Russian cyber campaigns continue to target Ukraine’s allies, as Ukrainian intelligence warns of large-scale attacks on its critical infrastructure facilities
- On 30 September, a Telegram account claiming to represent pro-Russian hacktivist collective Anonymous Russia claimed responsibility for a Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack on the UK’s domestic intelligence agency MI5, which temporarily took the organisation’s website offline. The hacktivist group published reported evidence of the attack on their Telegram channel, showing reported server errors at 09:00 (Moscow local time) on 30 September, although the server has since come back online. This latest development remains on-trend with Moscow’s broader strategy of targeting governments supporting Ukraine, including the British government and its business digital infrastructure.
- On 27 September, US tech giant Meta Platforms announced that it has removed an extensive network of Instagram and Facebook accounts disseminating pro-Russian disinformation on over 60 websites, which imitate legitimate European news networks. The articles featured in the network mainly attempted to criticise western sanctions and Ukrainian refugees, with the majority of posts being targeted toward users in Italy, France, the UK and Germany. According to Meta’s Global Threat Intelligence team, this campaign, believed to have been active since at least May 2022, has used around USD 105,000 worth of targeted advertising on Facebook and Instagram to execute the operation. The campaign was one of the most complex Russian-origin cyber operations witnessed since the beginning of the war in Ukraine and was well-constructed in comparison to previous similar operations.
Pro-Ukraine groups continue to launch cross-sectoral campaigns targeting Russian firms; the first purported instance of cyber attacks launched from within Russia
- On 3 October, a Twitter account purporting to represent the IT Army of Ukraine – a group of hackers loosely linked to the Ukrainian government – claimed that it had disabled access to the website of Russian consumer electronic retailer M.video. The hacktivist group did not provide further details of this cyber campaign, including what type of cyber activity was launched against the target website and how long disruptions lasted. However, given that the disruptions to these services were only temporary, with access to the website having since been restored, there is a realistic probability that M.video was targeted with Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks.
- On 2 October, self-described members of the National Republican Army (NRA), an alleged group of in-country Russian citizens seeking to overthrow President Vladimir Putin’s government, contacted Kyiv Post claiming that they had executed a ransomware attack on the Unisoftware network. Unisoftware is a Russian software development company specialising in web applications, cloud and desktop systems, among other products and systems. The hacktivists provided alleged evidence of their activities, including screenshots of the attack, claiming to have stolen copies of sensitive data including employee information, bank and personal account credentials and proprietary code. Kyiv Post reported that it was able to validate the authenticity of the stolen data as the property of Unisoftware, whose clients include Russian ministries and government agencies.
- Also on 2 October, Russian retail giant Digital Network Systems (DNS) disclosed that it had suffered a data breach of customer and employee personal information. The pro-Ukrainian hacking group known as NLB Team reportedly carried out the attack on 19 September, which resulted in the theft of data including usernames, email addresses and phone numbers of 16 m DNS employees and customers, before being leaked on a hacking forum. These reports have not yet been independently verified. The DNS announcement stated that the attacks came from services located outside Russia and targeted vulnerabilities in the company’s information infrastructure, though the stolen data did not include user passwords or payment card data.
- On 28 September, the New York Times published a collection of mobile phone calls by Russian troops from the early weeks of the invasion, intercepted and recorded by Ukrainian intelligence and law enforcement agencies. In the phone calls, Russian soldiers complain about their deployment to Ukraine, highlighting instances in which their superiors did not inform them that they were being deployed to combat. This is in addition to complaints over supply chain issues, tactical and strategic errors, as well as confessions of war crimes including looting and the capturing and killing of non-combatants. Three weeks into the invasion, by March, Russian soldiers reported heavy losses in their ranks, with the intercepted phone calls also revealing insights from Russian residents under international sanctions.
Although the threat of offensive cyber attacks in Ukraine and elsewhere is ostensibly increasing, Russia’s ability to launch complex and highly disruptive cyber attacks remains moderate to limited. However, a wider precedent has now been set for the targeting of critical energy infrastructure within the territories of Ukraine’s allies, as demonstrated already by the suspected Russian sabotage of the Nord Stream gas pipelines in the North Sea last week (see Sibylline Daily Ukraine Update – 28 September for further analysis). This apparent willingness to target critical infrastructure outside of Ukraine, admittedly in international waters, represents an escalatory and an increase in the threat of Russia targeting other critical European critical infrastructure. Cyber activity constitutes a potential way for Russia to target other maritime or shore-based infrastructure where kinetic sabotage operations would be much more escalatory. Russia’s demonstrated willingness to strike non-Ukrainian targets with offensive cyber action is likely being used as a means to demonstrate Moscow’s capabilities to the West and to signal that Russia can escalate the situation if necessary. However, Russian cyber capabilities have remained very limited since the invasion, and there is therefore a lower risk of crippling Russian cyber attacks than physical attacks against maritime assets at this time. Nevertheless, state-sponsored or pro-Russian cyber threat actors, including Anonymous Russia, are highly likely to continue to launch predominantly low-level and unsophisticated cyber campaigns, such as DDoS or intelligence-gathering operations, in the coming weeks, in part a result of limited financial resources.
Ukrainian intelligence services (GUR) continue to warn that the Kremlin is planning to carry out large-scale cyber-attacks on Ukrainian critical infrastructure facilities, alongside those of its allies. The GUR estimates that the attacks will mainly target the energy sector and will aim to augment the effects of kinetic strikes. As a result, cyber attacks may accompany or indicate imminent kinetic missile strikes on energy supply facilities, especially in the southern and eastern regions of Ukraine. The GUR claims that the Russian command believes this will significantly slow Ukrainian Defence Forces’ operations, although the GUR also predicts further low-level attacks of similar intent, specifically distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, against the Baltic States and Poland. Evidence suggests that Russia is demonstrating a growing disposition to hit Ukrainian critical energy infrastructure, although DDoS will likely remain the key mode of cyber operation in Russia’s hybrid warfare arsenal. In recent weeks, the attention of several pro-Ukrainian hacktivist groups such as the Anonymous collective has moderately shifted towards developments in Iran, amid widespread anti-government protests following the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody. It remains a realistic possibility that this has prompted a moderate decline in pro-Ukraine cyber activities by such groups and will continue to do so as protests are likely to persist in the coming weeks. Nevertheless, other groups, such as the IT Army of Ukraine, which focus specifically on targeting the Russian government and affiliated organisations, will continue to launch cyber campaigns on the aforementioned entities, spurred further by Ukrainian victories in Kherson and Kharkiv oblasts. Other trigger points expected to spur an intensification of pro-Ukrainian hacktivism are likely to include Russian attacks on Ukrainian and Western infrastructure, including energy supplies, further Ukrainian battlefield victories and if domestic stability deteriorates inside Russia as a result of further battlefield defeats.
04 Oct 22.
- Ukrainian forces have continued to make gains across eastern Ukraine over the last 24 hours. Russian sources have reported that the Ukrainians have retaken numerous settlements east and north of Lyman, and have reached a section of the P-66 highway near the villages of Chervonopopivka and Pishchane, around 6km north of Kreminna and inside Luhansk oblast. The highway is the main road running between Severodonetsk in the south, through Kreminna and north to Svatove. It is one of the key ground lines of communication for Russian forces as they establish a new defensive line around Kreminna and along the Luhansk administrative border. Elements of the Russian BARS-13 (Special Combat Army Reserve) detachment and the 20th Combined Arms Army have relocated to this line following their withdrawal from Lyman. Unconfirmed reports from Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) officials also indicated that Ukrainian forces have crossed into Luhansk oblast somewhere in the direction of Lysychansk, though further details remain limited.
- Further north, Ukrainian forces are also continuing to make progress east of the Oskil River. On 3 October, Ukrainian forces liberated Borova, a settlement on the eastern banks of the Oskil 40km north of Lyman and 36km west of Svatove. Russian sources are reporting that their forces are withdrawing along this axis without a fight in places, citing lack of reinforcements. As such, Ukrainian forces continue to threaten to unhinge the Russian line west of the Luhansk border. In addition, this morning, 4 October, Ukrainian governor of Luhansk oblast Serhiy Gaidai stated that Ukrainian forces are approaching the north-western border of Luhansk, indicating further Ukrainian advances east of Kupiansk and the Oskil River. Ukrainian forces are making steady progress towards their primary objective at Svatove, with breakthroughs from the south around Kreminna, west around Borova and north around Kupiansk providing opportunities for further advances against the town from three directions.
- Ukrainian forces have also continued to make progress on the southern Kherson axis, following their breakthrough to Dudchany on 2 October. Russian sources reported fierce fighting along the entire frontline throughout 3 October, with Ukrainian forces reportedly consolidating the area around Dudchany. President Zelensky has confirmed that Ukrainian forces have liberated numerous settlements, including Myrolyubivka (23km northwest of Kherson city) and Arkhanhelske, a town on the Inhulets River 45km south of Kryvyi Rih. Beyond this, Ukrainian officials have continued their information blackout, meaning no further advances have been confirmed, though Russian sources are claiming that the situation around the Davydiv Brid bridgehead on the Inhulets River continues to deteriorate for Russian forces.
- On 3 October, Russian sources citing official Russian military records reported that Colonel-General Alexander Zhuravlev has been replaced as commander of the Russian Western Military District (WMD) by Lieutenant-General Roman Berdnikov. Berdnikov is a former commander of the 29th Combined Arms Army and Russian forces in Syria and was reportedly still commanding operations in the country as late as May 2022. However, these reports remain unconfirmed as Ukrainian intelligence had previously claimed that Berdnikov had previously been appointed commander of the WMD in late August, before allegedly being sacked just 16 days after his appointment following the Kharkiv counteroffensive. Given that the Kremlin rarely confirms operational personnel changes, and the Ministry of Defence website still lists Zhuravlev as commander, we cannot confirm at this stage whether Berdnikov has been reappointed to the role or whether earlier Ukrainian reports were incorrect. Nevertheless, if a replacement has occurred, this is likely an attempt by the Kremlin to shift blame for the recent defeat around Lyman, and possibly redirect criticism away from Colonel-General Alexander Lapin, commander of the Central Military District (see Sibylline Daily Ukraine Update – 3 October for further analysis on criticism of the Russian high command).
On 4 October, Russia’s upper chamber of parliament, the Federation Council, formally approved the accession treaties that will see Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts annexed into the Russian Federation. The final process of the annexation will now see President Putin officially sign them into law, likely later today.
- Also on 4 October, North Korea became the first, and to date only, state to formally recognise the Russian annexations. Other Russian allies, principally Syria, may also soon recognise the annexations, given that they had previously recognised the independence of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DNR/LNR). However, the vast majority of the world will continue to condemn them as illegal and in clear violation of the UN Charter.
- President Volodymyr Zelensky today, 4 October, formally enacted the decision of the National Security and Defence Council which expressly stated ‘the impossibility of conducting negotiations with the President of the Russian Federation V. Putin’. The formal implementation of the decision into law follows Zelensky’s earlier statement after Russia’s annexations that ‘we [Kyiv] are ready for dialogue with Russia, but with another president of Russia’. In apparent direct response to this, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated today, 4 October, that Moscow will in turn wait for a ‘change in the position of the current president’, or wait for ‘the future president of Ukraine’ before entering into negotiations.
- These developments ultimately underline the extremely low likelihood of any serious negotiations in the short to medium term as assessed in yesterday’s report, see Sibylline Daily Ukraine Update – 3 October). However, Peskov’s statement could also indicate a readiness for Russia to strike political targets and possibly attempt decapitation strikes in the event of an escalation. Moscow has so far refrained from attacking political targets, but amid a campaign of targeting civilian infrastructure and the growing prospect of the US providing long-range missiles (see below), Russia’s long-held threat to target ‘decision-making centres’ remains a growing possibility.
- Unconfirmed footage emerged on 3 October that appeared to show a military train operated by the 12th Chief Directorate of the Russian Ministry of Defence travelling west in Central Russia, possibly towards Ukraine. The 12th Chief Directorate retains responsibility for Russia’s nuclear stockpile, including the maintenance and transportation of nuclear warheads. It is important to note that the footage remains unconfirmed, and it is unclear when it was recorded. However, the train appeared to carry rare BPM-97 light armoured vehicles, which are largely operated by the Strategic Rocket Forces and the 12th Chief Directorate, which in turn is responsible for escorting nuclear weapons to operational units in the field. This footage remains unconfirmed, and the transfer of the BPM-97s could well be a routine redeployment of forces or reflect the need for armoured vehicles for frontline forces in Ukraine. However, as identified in our previous reporting, we are expecting further nuclear signalling from Russia amid growing tensions with NATO, which includes warhead mating and putting strategic deterrence forces on enhanced alert (see Sibylline Daily Ukraine Update – 30 September for further triggers, warnings and indicators). While this could be an early indicator of preparations, it alone does not indicate an imminent change in the nuclear threat environment.
On 3 October, unnamed US officials cited by CNN confirmed that Kyiv has offered the US full targeting oversight of its long-range weapon systems. The proposals would effectively provide the US with a veto over target selection, particularly inside Russian territory. The US has repeatedly refused to provide Ukraine with longer-range surface-to-surface Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS), with a range of 300km, for fear of an escalation with Russia. Kyiv’s offer is an attempt to alleviate US concerns and allow the delivery of ATACMS missiles, which would quadruple the range of Ukrainian missiles currently fired from HIMARS. It remains unclear whether the US will accept the offer. The slippery slope of weapon supplies has already seen the provision of numerous advanced systems – including the HIMARS – that earlier in the conflict had been expressly ruled out as escalatory. With bipartisan US support for ATACMS deliveries, the possibility is increasing. However, given Moscow’s repeated warnings about strikes on Russian territory, this would risk triggering disproportionate Russian retaliation against Ukrainian cities given Russia’s inability to effectively counter and interdict said missiles – including potentially against ‘decision-making centres’. It would also play into the wider escalation risks assessed in recent days, with Moscow likely to see ATACMS deliveries, US targeting oversight and Ukraine’s NATO membership application as the latest indications that Washington is increasing its direct involvement in the war and could be preparing to strike Russian targets. This will only reinforce the likelihood in the coming days of further demonstrations of Russian capabilities in a bid to deter further US and NATO involvement in Ukraine.
Latvia: Election results indicate policy continuity and government stability. On 2 October, general elections were held in Latvia in which incumbent Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins’s centre-right New Unity party won 19 per cent of the votes. New Unity had previously been the smallest party in parliament after the election in 2018. Karins’s campaign was strongly pro-EU and pro-NATO, focusing heavily on Russian and critizing its invasion of Ukraine. Notably, around 25-30 per cent of Latvia’s population is ethnically Russian, however, the party Harmony which won the previous elections by winning the support of the Russian minority in Latvia has failed to gain enough votes to enter parliament this time. As such, it is likely that New Unity will be forming a coalition government with other centrist parties, increasing government stability and policy continuity in the country.
Hungary: Government strikes deal with Gazprom to delay gas payments, increasing regional tensions with the EU. On 3 October, Hungary’s state-owned energy company MVM announced that it had reached an agreement with Russia’s state-owned gas company Gazprom to defer payments on gas bills due in the coming six months over a three-year period. Budapest stated that the agreement could delay payment of up to EUR 3.5-4.5 bn. The deal will help ease pressure on the country’s widening current account deficit and the Hungarian Forint, which fell to a record low against the Euro over the past week. Hungary is deeply reliant on Russian oil and gas, and Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s populist government continues to cultivate ties with the Kremlin to the behest of its EU partners. Similar favourable arrangements between Gazprom and other EU member states are unlikely. Market concerns over Hungary’s low foreign reserves and its ongoing EU funding dispute will remain high, while the Gazprom deal is also likely to further elevate regional tensions with the EU.
Russia: Government announces package to support businesses during mobilisation, although the impact on Western private companies remains low. On 4 October, the Russian government announced that it is developing a package of measures designed to support small- and medium-sized businesses deal with the country’s partial mobilisation. Proposed initiatives include freezes on rent payments and amendments to alter business ownership laws. Russia’s Ministry of Defence has been instructed to allow business owners to be able to retain their jobs if mobilised, as current laws forbid military personnel from engaging in entrepreneurial activity. It is unlikely that the mobilisation will have a direct impact on Western business operations in the country, beyond the mobilisation of Russian staff. It also remains unlikely at this stage that the government will require Western private companies to directly assist in mobilisation efforts, with no legislation for the appropriation of private assets or forced billeting of troops in hotels, for example. However, a further expansion of mobilisation would increase these risks.
Armenia: Alleged war crimes footage jeopardises ongoing peace negotiations between Yerevan and Baku. On 4 October, unconfirmed footage of Azerbaijani soldiers allegedly executing Armenian military personnel was released on Telegram. Armenian prime minister Nikol Pashinyan has said that Yerevan has verified the authenticity of the footage and was able to timestamp it to clashes between the two countries in mid-September 2022. Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has responded to the allegations by accusing Yerevan of hypocrisy, having never commented on previous war crime allegations. Azerbaijani sources have also released video footage of alleged Armenian war crimes. The footage and associated allegations will likely complicate ongoing peace negotiations between the two countries, as Armenia’s government is already facing significant political pressure to avoid signing a peace agreement with Azerbaijan. Therefore, domestic pressure on the government will remain high inside Armenia, threatening renewed opposition-led street protests as the threat of further escalation on the borders remains high.
03 Oct 22.
Military and security developments
- Over the weekend of 30 September – 2 October, Ukrainian forces achieved their most significant and largest advances since the Kharkiv counteroffensive last month, pushing Russian forces back on both the eastern Kharkiv-Donbas and southern Kherson fronts.
- On 1 October, Ukrainian forces liberated the strategic town of Lyman. The Russian Ministry of Defence confirmed that Russian forces had withdrawn to ‘more advantageous lines’, with residents of the town reporting the withdrawal was orderly, leaving very little equipment behind. The Ukrainians have also retaken the nearby towns of Torske/Zarichne (9km east of Lyman), and have crossed the Zherebets River to push significantly further east, as far as Dibrova, a settlement inside the Luhansk oblast borders 20km east of Lyman. Russian forces have been establishing new defensive lines around Kreminna, along the P-66 highway 17km northwest of Lysychansk. This morning, 3 October, Ukrainian military spokespeople confirmed that Ukrainian forces are now striking Russian military targets in Kreminna with artillery, to push further east towards Svatove and Rubizhne in the coming weeks. Such statements indicate Ukrainian plans to push into Luhansk oblast and retake Severodonetsk from the north.
- Unconfirmed footage emerging this morning, 3 October, also indicates that Ukrainian forces have retaken Shyikivka, a settlement 38km north of Lyman and 39km southeast of Kupiansk on the eastern bank of the Oskil River. If confirmed, this likely indicates a broader Russian withdrawal north of Lyman, with Ukrainian forces likely to continue applying pressure along the eastern bank of the Oskil to push Russian forces back towards the Luhansk administrative border.
- Additionally, Ukrainian forces have also achieved a major breakthrough along the Kherson axis over the weekend. The Russian-installed head of the Kherson administration Volodymyr Saldo has today, 3 October, confirmed that Ukrainian forces have captured several settlements along the western bank of the Dnieper River, pushing as far south as Dudchany. This represents an advance of some 40km in a single day, a significant breakthrough given the slow, grinding progress of the counteroffensive over the past couple of months. Further advances remain very possible in the coming hours and days. Russian sources this morning, 3 October, nevertheless claimed that Russian forces have stabilised the frontline and stopped the Ukrainian advance, claiming that Ukrainian forces are currently regrouping before launching new attacks.
- Should Ukrainian forces maintain their current momentum on this axis, pushing further south from Dudchany and making progress along the T-22-07 highway from their bridgehead across the Inhulets (40km east of Dudchany), they will threaten to cut off Russian forces in northern Kherson oblast. This will also threaten Russian control over the key river crossing and hydroelectric plant at Nova Khakovka. Russia still retains significant concentrations of forces along this axis, and so further Ukrainian advances will likely be heavily resisted. Yesterday’s advance to Dudchany will nevertheless advance Ukraine’s ultimate strategy of making Russia’s position on the western bank of the Dnieper untenable, which is aimed at forcing a withdrawal across the river. However, President Putin’s annexation of Kherson oblast and the clear prioritisation of this front even at the expense of Kharkiv and Luhansk oblasts indicates that the Kremlin has prioritised maintaining control over Kherson. As such, newly mobilised reservists and potentially conscripts are likely to be sent to Kherson in increasing numbers to stabilise the frontline.
- Many hardliners have responded to the defeat around Lyman in particular with growing concern and anger. They are pinning the blame on Russia’s military command for not sending reinforcements to the front, which we have previously reported on as Russian forces continued to prioritise unsuccessful ground assaults east of Bakhmut over reinforcing the Lyman-Oskil River fronts. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov expressly blamed Colonel-General Alexander Lapin, commander of the Central Military District and Russian forces along the Donetsk-Luhansk axis, accusing the Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov of covering up Lapin’s mistakes.
- Pressure on the Ministry of Defence, including Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, continues to mount, and there was widespread coverage of Kadyrov’s attacks on Lapin and the wider military command on state-controlled television. Given previous precedents following earlier setbacks, this may indicate the Kremlin is preparing yet another purge of military commanders, including potentially Lapin himself. However, the widespread coverage of the Lyman defeat and open discussion of its causes on state-controlled television marks a notable shift in the information space. Criticism of the conduct of the war continues to enter the mainstream amid the chaotic roll-out of the partial mobilisation, which is systematically destroying the Kremlin’s narrative of a largely successful, limited ‘special military operation’.
- Kadyrov also stated that more drastic measures are needed to ‘liberate’ the newly annexed regions, including the declaration of martial law in border regions and even the use of low-yield nuclear weapons. However, the Kremlin today, 3 October, distanced itself from Kadyrov’s statement, stating that ’emotions should not prevail’ in assessing the situation in Ukraine. This is therefore unlikely to represent a shift in official Kremlin policy towards tactical nuclear weapon use, as Kadyrov frequently makes escalatory statements outside of the official Kremlin narrative. Our assessment remains that nuclear weapons use is unlikely (for further analysis, see Sibylline Daily Ukraine Update – 30 September).
- Italian newspapers reported today, 3 October, that NATO intelligence has warned its members that Russia could test its new Poseidon underwater unmanned vehicle (UUV), a nuclear-capable torpedo. The Belgorod (K-329) submarine, which is believed to be the first vessel to carry the new weapon, has reportedly left its White Sea port and is reportedly en route to the Kara Sea. The Poseidon is designed to target carrier task forces or provide second-strike capability against coastal infrastructure, causing tsunamis that would devastate coastlines. Following the apparent sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines, further demonstrations of Russian maritime capability remain highly likely as part of the Kremlin’s broader strategic deterrence campaign to discourage further NATO involvement in Ukraine. For further analysis, see Sibylline Daily Ukraine Update – 28 September.
- President Putin announced on 30 September that Russia’s autumn conscription cycle will begin a month late, on 1 November. This is highly likely a tacit acknowledgement of the widespread logistical and bureaucratic challenges the ‘partial’ mobilisation is already having on Russia’s military administration.
- On 30 September, President Vladimir Putin formally announced the annexation of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions. While he did not specify the exact extent of territory to be annexed at the time, the accession treaties were formally published on 3 October. The documents stated that the borders of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia will be defined as the borders that ‘existed on the day of their formation and acceptance into the Russian Federation’. Meanwhile, the borders of Donetsk and Luhansk will align with the recognised borders in 2014, i.e. the full administrative borders of the oblasts. As a result, large swathes of ‘Russian’ territory in the Donbas now remain under Ukrainian ‘occupation’ under Russian law.
- As anticipated in our earlier reporting, the State Duma has now approved the accession treaties during a reading today, 3 October. The Federation Council will now likely approve the treaties tomorrow, 4 October after which Putin is expected to sign them into law, formalising the annexations. Shortly after the annexation announcement on 30 September, Kyiv announced it had applied for fast-tracked NATO membership. Nine NATO member states have so far made statements supporting Kyiv’s accession to the alliance: Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. However, the prospects of Ukraine joining the alliance in the short to medium term remain very low given the escalatory implications of a NATO intervention in Ukraine. Ukraine’s accession question will also likely split the alliance, with some member states likely to strongly resist Kyiv’s accession – which would require unanimous approval from its 30 members.
- On 2 October, Marco Rubio, a senior Republican on the US Senate Intelligence Committee, stated that if Putin decides that he will lose the war because of Western arms shipments to Ukraine, the Kremlin could order strikes against logistics centres, ‘including inside Poland’. He did not specify whether he was working from any intelligence reports to indicate any such strikes are imminent. While Russia has refrained from targeting such logistics centres across the Ukrainian border, the apparent sabotage against the Nord Stream pipelines last week indicates Russia’s willingness to expand the war beyond Ukraine’s borders if it deems it necessary. We are entering a highly escalatory period of the war, and with Putin doubling down on its war aims despite the steady degrading of Russia’s conventional forces, the threat of an escalation beyond the borders of Ukraine is at its highest since the 24 February invasion. Nevertheless, we do not anticipate any imminent strikes against Poland or other logistics centres, as we would expect to see statements calling for an end to Western weapon shipments and other signalling from the Kremlin (potentially strikes against western Ukraine) indicating such strikes are likely before they are launched. No such statements or signals have been provided as of yet, but they will remain key trigger points and indicators going forward.
During his annexation speech on 30 September, Putin framed the war in Ukraine as nothing short of a grand civilisational struggle with the West. He did, however, state that Russia is ready to return to the negotiating table with Ukraine, but he made it clear that the status of the newly annexed regions will not be up for discussion. Together with Putin’s emphasis on taking the rest of Donetsk oblast in recent weeks, this indicates a reduction in Russia’s war aims from the original maximalist goals that called for regime change in Kyiv. This ultimately reflects a tacit acknowledgement that Russian conventional forces as they currently stand are not capable of delivering these maximalist goals – and indeed recent Ukrainian victories have brought into serious question whether they will be able to even retain the territories Russia has just annexed. As such, Putin’s speech indicates Moscow’s growing readiness to accept the status quo in terms of territorial control to freeze the conflict. However, rather than paving the way for serious negotiations, the annexations have boxed President Putin in. Short of a total collapse of the Russian military or a coup, a negotiated settlement is even less likely than previously – given that a concession of any ‘Russian’ territory or a Minsk Protocol-style compromise is now constitutionally impossible. In addition, Zelensky’s application for fast-tracked NATO membership seriously undermines the Kremlin’s demands for Ukrainian neutrality. Not applying for membership sooner remained a key concession on Kyiv’s part, which it would have likely been willing to concede during any potential negotiations. As such, the annexations have hardened Ukraine’s position and made a compromise deal around Ukraine’s neutrality less likely. The annexations have marked a clear line for Russia’s apparent minimal demands, at least until newly mobilised forces begin to tip the balance back in Moscow’s favour – something that is far from certain and currently remains unlikely given the quality of mobilised reserves. Moreover, the calls for a return to the negotiating table ultimately ring hollow given that Moscow is now proposing talks from a position of weakness, rather than strength. Ukrainian confidence and capability are growing, and with recent battlefield victories emboldening Kyiv, negotiations are highly unlikely given Ukraine’s determination to push Russia out of Ukraine. With President Zelensky stating that ‘we are ready for dialogue with Russia, but with another president of Russia’, the war is set to continue on its current course for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, with Putin doubling down despite the very real prospects of further conventional military defeats, the threat of escalation and conflict spillover will continue to grow as the Kremlin ramps up its strategic deterrence campaign to discourage greater NATO involvement in Ukraine.
Ukraine: NATO membership remains unlikely in short to medium term, would risk major escalation. On 3 October, nine North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) allies released a joint statement declaring support for Ukraine’s official NATO application, filed on 30 September. This follows Russia’s formal annexation of the four occupied territories of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, with the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation legally approving the admission of these regions into the Russian Federation on 2 September. However, Ukrainian membership in NATO is unlikely in the short to medium term given the escalatory implications and requirement that candidate countries must not have any ongoing territorial disputes to obtain full membership. Russian military defeats in recent weeks have reinforced Kyiv’s growing confidence and determination to retake all occupied territories, but NATO will likely continue limiting its involvement to supplying weapons and other indirect military support.
Moldova: Threat of Russian invasion diminishes still further following further setbacks in Ukraine, though domestic stability will remain vulnerable to Russian influence. On 3 October, Germany’s Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht announced that Berlin was willing to provide military equipment, including drones, to Chisinau amid Russia’s war in Ukraine. The German military has also proposed training Moldovan troops, given the country’s land border with Ukraine and the presence of Russian ‘peacekeepers’ in Transnistria. Ukrainian operational victories in Kherson and Kharkiv oblasts in recent days will further reduce the threat of direct military conflict spilling across the border into Moldova, including the activation of troops in Russian-backed Transnistria. Russian conventional capabilities continue to diminish, and while mobilisation could potentially tip the balance in early 2023, Russia does not currently have the capabilities to expand the war to Moldova. However, Russian forces and proxies are still likely to foment domestic instability in Moldova in the short to medium term, as activists continue to gather weekly to protest Maia Sandu’s pro-western administration. (Source: Sibylline)
08 Oct 22. Key bridge linking Crimea and Russia on fire after major explosion. The Kerch bridge between Crimea and mainland Russia has been partially destroyed in an apparent Ukrainian strike.
An explosion on the rail section of the bridge was reported early on Saturday morning.
Footage from the scene later showed a train of oil tanker wagons ablaze, and one lane of the parallel road bridge collapsed into the sea.
In one video a driver parked near the blaze was heard saying on the phone: “Tolya, I’ll be late. Briefly, the bridge is on fire.”
No casualties were immediately reported.
A Russian-appointed local official said a fire had broken out on the oil train and that it was being extinguished.
Vladimir Putin ordered construction of a bridge across the strait of Kerch following the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
07 Oct 22. Ukrainian forces report Starlink outages during push against Russia. Some of Elon Musk’s SpaceX devices stopped working when Ukrainian soldiers liberated territory, Kyiv officials say. Ukrainian troops have reported outages of their Starlink communication devices on the frontline, hindering efforts to liberate territory from Russian forces, according to Ukrainian officials and soldiers. Thousands of Starlink terminals, made by Elon Musk-owned SpaceX, were purchased by the US government and crowdfunded by donors to help Ukrainian troops operate drones, receive vital intelligence updates and communicate with each other in areas where there are no other secure networks. The systems which connect a small antenna to a 35-centimetre-high terminal also provide internet for Ukrainian civilians. Some of the outages led to a “catastrophic” loss of communication in recent weeks, said one senior Ukrainian government official with direct knowledge of the issue. Many were reported as soldiers breached the frontline into Russian-controlled territory and some during pitched battles, the official said, speaking under the condition of anonymity. They were acute in the south around the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, but also occurred along the front line in eastern Kharkiv, Donetsk and Luhansk, the official said. All four regions are the focus of an intense Ukrainian counteroffensive and were claimed last month by President Vladimir Putin as part of Russia after referendums staged by Kremlin proxies. Another Kyiv official said the connection failures were widespread and prompted panicked calls from soldiers to helplines. Both Ukrainian officials said the problems occurred when soldiers liberated territory from Russia and moved past the frontline. The disruptions underline the outsized role of Musk’s communications systems plays in the battlefield as Ukraine’s counteroffensives in the east and south of the country push Russians into retreat. The US-based entrepreneur angered Kyiv last weekend, when he outlined a ceasefire plan that would result in ceding Ukrainian territory to Russia. Roman Sinicyn, a co-ordinator at the Serhiy Prytula Charity, a foundation that donates Starlink systems to the Ukrainian armed forces, said the problem may be occurring because SpaceX was trying to prevent its misuse by Russian forces. The blackouts were being experienced in areas so recently regained that their liberations had “not been made public yet,” he said. “It is absolutely clear to me that this is being done by representatives of Starlink to prevent the usage of their technology by Russian occupation forces,” Sinicyn said. The Ukrainian military and SpaceX need to co-ordinate more closely, he said. (Source: FT.com)
07 Oct 22. Captured Russian equipment makes up large proportion of Ukraine’s weapons
The MOD said more than half of Ukraine’s “currently fielded tank fleet potentially consists of captured vehicles”.
The MOD’s update comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that the country’s military had recaptured three more villages in the Kherson region (Picture: CTK/Alamy Stock Photo).
A large proportion of Ukraine’s military hardware is made up of captured and re-purposed Russian equipment, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has said
In an update posted on Twitter, the MOD said Ukraine has “likely captured at least 440 Russian Main Battle Tanks, and around 650 other armoured vehicles since the invasion”.
“Over half of Ukraine’s currently fielded tank fleet potentially consists of captured vehicles,” the MOD said.
“The failure of Russian crews to destroy intact equipment before withdrawing or surrendering highlights their poor state of training and low levels of battle discipline.
“With Russian formations under severe strain in several sectors and increasingly demoralised troops, Russia will likely continue to lose heavy weaponry.”
It comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that the country’s military had recaptured three more villages in the Kherson region “in humiliating battlefield defeats for Russian forces”.
Novovoskrysenske, Novohryhorivka, and Petropavlivka are all situated north-east of Kherson.
The deputy head of the Ukrainian regional government, Yurii Sobolevskyi, said military hospitals are full of wounded Russian soldiers and that Russian military medics lack supplies.
Once they are recovered, Russian soldiers are being sent to Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
When Russian troops pulled back from the Donetsk city of Lyman over the weekend, they retreated so rapidly that they left behind the bodies of their comrades.
Some were still lying by the side of the road leading into the city on Wednesday.
In his nightly address, a defiant President Zelensky switched to speaking Russian to tell the Moscow leadership that it has already lost the war that it launched on February 24.
“You have lost because even now, on the 224th day of full-scale war, you have to explain to your society why this is all necessary,” he said.
He said Ukrainians know what they are fighting for.
“And more and more citizens of Russia are realising that they must die simply because one person does not want to end the war.”
On Wednesday, residential buildings in Ukraine’s southern city of Zaporizhzhia were reportedly hit by seven Russian rockets. Two people were killed and at least five were trapped in the city close to Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant, the governor of the mostly Russian-occupied region said. (Source: forces.net)
06 Oct 22. Ukraine to target Russia’s bases of Iran-supplied explosive drones. Ukrainian forces are working to find and target bases from which Russia has launched Iran-supplied explosive drones at civilian infrastructure, according to Maj. Gen. Borys Kremenetsky, the defense attaché at the Ukrainian Embassy in the United States.
The officer said the Shahed-136 drones are “easy to fight” because they are audible from miles away and move slowly. But Ukraine is in the dark about how many Russia received from Iran, he said Thursday at an event organized by the International Institute for Strategic Studies think tank.
The defense attache added that the weapons used for shooting down the drones — up to six per day — exemplify the mix-and-match approach Ukrainian forces are taking in using Soviet-era equipment alongside modern kit supplied by Western nations.
Ukrainian SA-8 missile launchers and self-propelled Shilka anti-aircraft guns are “very effective” against the relatively crude Iranian-made weapons, Kremenetsky said. German-made Gepard air defense tanks also are being used to great effect to counter the suicide drones before they can do damage on the ground, he added.
Commanders now want to move toward locating where Russian forces launch and control the drones, according to Kremenetsky. The plan is to train rocket artillery, like the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, on these targets, he said.
The fact that Russia is getting Iranian drones in the first place is a sign that Moscow’s defense industry is “going down,” he argued. Still, the unmanned systems have proved a new threat for Ukraine, allowing Russia to strike populated areas far beyond the front line.
The Iranian government as recently as this week denied supplying Russia with drones, and Moscow has denied receiving any, NBC News reported Thursday. Local officials in Kyiv blamed a Russian-launched Shahed drone for causing damage near the capital on Wednesday, Business Insider reported. (Source: Defense News)
07 Oct 22. Biden says Putin’s nuclear threat biggest risk since Cuban Missile Crisis.
- Biden warns of Armageddon if nuclear weapons used
- Public criticism of Russian top brass mounts
- Ukraine says 534 civilian bodies found after Russian retreat
- Putin marks 70th birthday on Friday
U.S. President Joe Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons is the biggest such threat since the Cuban Missile Crisis, as Russia’s military leadership faced a rare domestic public backlash over the war in Ukraine.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Ukraine’s forces were swiftly recapturing more territory especially in the south of the country as Putin’s seven-month invasion unravels.
Biden said the United States was “trying to figure out” Putin’s off-ramp from the war, warning that the Russian leader was “not joking when he talks about potential use of tactical nuclear weapons or biological or chemical weapons, because his military is, you might say, is significantly underperforming”.
“For the first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis, we have a direct threat to the use of nuclear weapons, if in fact things continue down the path they’d been going,” Biden told Democratic donors in New York on Thursday.
“We have not faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban missile crisis,” he said.
In the 1962 crisis, the United States under President John Kennedy and Soviet Union under its leader, Nikita Khrushchev, came close to the use of nuclear weapons over the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba.
“I don’t think there’s any such thing as the ability to easily (use) a tactical nuclear weapon and not end up with Armageddon,” Biden said.
Putin, who marks his 70th birthday on Friday, has warned he would use all means necessary, including Russia’s nuclear arsenal, to protest Russian soil, which he now says includes four Ukrainian regions he annexed.
In remarks to Australia’s Lowy Institute, Zelenskiy said NATO should launch preventive strikes on Russia to preclude its use of nuclear weapons.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denounced the comments as “an appeal to start yet another world war with unpredictable, monstrous consequences”, according to RIA news agency.
‘WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?’
Russia annexed Ukraine’s Donestk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, representing about 15% of the country, after holding what it called referendums – votes denounced by Kyiv and Western governments as illegal and coercive.
Since Europe’s biggest attempted annexation since World War Two, a Ukrainian counter-offensive has pushed Russian forces into further retreating and regained large parts of Kherson.
Zelenskiy said in a video address on Thursday that Kyiv’s forces recaptured more than 500 square kilometres (195 square miles) and dozens of settlements in Kherson in October.
“There are successes in the east as well. The day will surely come when we will report on successes in the Zaporizhzhia region (in the south) as well, in those areas that the occupiers still control,” the president said.
Reuters could not independently verify battlefield accounts. (Source: Reuters)
06 Oct 22. The anti-drone gun giving Ukraine an advantage. Footage appears to show Ukrainian forces utilising the EDM4S anti-drone gun to down a Russia-operated DJI Mavicpro drone.
Since the war in Ukraine started, the EDM4S (Electronic Drone Mitigation System) has been a key component in targeting Russian drones.
The anti-drone gun is a point-and-shoot electromagnetic pulse weapon that handles like a standard infantry rifle.
By jamming communication signals it forces drones to either fall, return to base or make an emergency landing.
Recent footage released by the Ukrainian MOD seems to show their forces using the EDM4S anti-drone gun to down a Russia-operated DJI Mavicpro drone.
The weapon, created by Lithuanian-based NT Service, was originally designed to protect public venues, critical infrastructure and the privacy of VIPs.
According to media reports, more than 100 EDM4S rifles have been distributed among 35 units of Ukraine’s military.
The device only recently made its debut at the 2019 Security and Counter Terror Expo in London. (Source: forces.net)
06 Oct 22. Estonia Hands Confiscated Crowdfunded Russian Drones to Ukrainian Army. Drones, confiscated by Estonia’s security services from a man who crowdfunded to help the Russian Army, have been handed over to the Ukrainian Army, officials said this week.
The Internal Security Service (KAPO) wrote on social media:
“Remember the drones we confiscated from a person trying to donate them for the Russian aggression in Ukraine? Well, these drones still made it to Ukraine. But the right way around and on the right side of the battlefront.”
In July, Harju County Court in Tallinn sentenced 43-year-old resident of the Pskov region, trucker and singer Vladimir Shilov to 4 months in prison for buying drones for the Russian army fighting in Ukraine and trying to smuggle them across the border.
Shilov was arrested on May 28 while trying to smuggle quadcopters bought in Estonia across the border to the 76th division in Pskov. He collected money for them on VKontakte, and published a photo of the equipment there a few hours before crossing the border.
The court believed Vladimir knowingly supported acts of aggression committed by a foreign country.
As a punishment, Shilov was sentenced to one year in prison: four months must be served in prison immediately, the rest can be written off if he does not commit a new intentional crime within four years. (Source: UAS VISION/ERR)
06 Oct 22. Ukraine takes more territory in region Putin incorporates into Russia.
- Ukraine frees settlements in Kherson region, Zelenskiy says
- Russia wants secret U.N. vote on move to condemn ‘annexations’
- Moscow asserts control over nuclear plant but Kyiv disagrees
Ukraine said its forces have retaken more settlements in Kherson, one of four partially Russian-occupied regions that President Vladimir Putin formally incorporated into Russia in Europe’s biggest annexation since World War Two.
With Russian forces retreating from front lines in the south and east, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a late Wednesday address that Novovoskresenske, Novohryhorivka and Petropavlivka to the northeast of Kherson city had been “liberated”.
At the United Nations, Russia is lobbying for a secret ballot instead of a public vote next week when the 193-member U.N. General Assembly considers whether to condemn its annexation of Donetsk and Luhansk in the east and Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the south after staging referendums there.
Putin signed a law on Wednesday to incorporate the regions into Russia. Ukraine says it will never accept an illegal seizure of its territory by force. Kyiv and the West said the referendums were rigged votes held at gunpoint.
The new law would incorporate about 18% of Ukraine’s territory into Russia. Putin says he wants to ensure Russia’s security and protect Russian-speakers in Ukraine. Kyiv accuses Moscow of a land grab.
Russia’s move to annex the regions raises the possibility of an escalation in the war, as Putin and other officials have said they could use nuclear weapons to protect Russian territory including the annexed provinces.
Ukraine has said it will not be cowed by any nuclear threats and Zelenskiy said in his address he and his senior military officials met to discuss recovering all lands occupied by Russia.
Switching from Ukrainian to Russian, Zelenskiy addressed pro-Moscow forces, telling them they had already lost.
“Ukrainians know what they are fighting for. And more and more citizens of Russia are realizing that they must die simply because one person does not want to end the war,” he said in a reference to Putin.
Moscow’s map of Ukraine appears to show shrinking areas it controls. A map of “new regions” published by state news agency RIA included the full territory of the Ukrainian provinces, but some parts were labelled as being under Ukrainian military control.
Ukraine’s military in the south said its forces had killed at least 58 Russian fighters, destroyed nine tanks, 17 armoured vehicles and four howitzers.
Overnight, seven Russian missiles hit the city of Zaporizhzhia, damaging or destroying several buildings and causing fires and injuries, regional governor Oleksandr Starukh said. “Rescuers are already pulling people out from under the rubble,” he said.
Reuters could not immediately verify the reports.
BODIES IN TREES
Ukrainian forces have recaptured thousands of square miles of territory since the beginning of September, including dozens of settlements in the past few days.
Thousands of Russian troops retreated after the front line crumbled, first in the northeast, and, since the beginning of this week, also in the south.
Putin celebrated the annexations in a ceremony in the Kremlin followed by a concert on Red Square last week, only hours before Ukrainian forces captured Lyman, Russia’s main bastion in the northern part of Donetsk.
On Wednesday, the bodies of two Russian soldiers were still lying bloating in trees on opposite sides of a road near Lyman, close to the blasted hulks of cars and a van.
Occasional crumps echoed from distant fighting as Ukrainian troops advanced toward a north-south highway that serves as one of the last supply routes for Russian forces in Luhansk province.
In Lyman, Nina, 73, stood waiting for an aid delivery by a municipal building. There were 15 bodies of Russian soldiers lying in her street, she said.
“Nobody removes them. It’s the fifth day they are lying there. And we have the smell,” she said.
In one of his first moves to assert his rule over the four annexed provinces, Putin ordered the Russian state to seize control of the Zaporizhzhia power station, Europe’s biggest, still run by Ukrainian engineers despite being captured early in the war by Russian forces.
The U.N. nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, said it had learned of plans to restart one reactor at the plant, where all six reactors have been shut down for weeks.
The power station is right on the front line, on a Russian-controlled bank of a reservoir with Ukrainian forces on the opposite bank, and both sides have warned of the danger of a nuclear disaster.
In recent days, Russia detained the plant’s Ukrainian manager. He was released but will not return to work. The head of Ukraine’s state nuclear energy company Energoatom, Petro Kotin, said he was taking charge of the plant and urged workers not to sign any documents with its Russian occupiers.
Kyiv has long accused Moscow of planning to switch the plant from Ukraine’s power grid to Russia’s, which it says would increase the risk of an accident.
IAEA head Rafael Grossi, who is due to visit Kyiv and Moscow this week, said negotiations on a safe zone around the plant were more important than ever. (Source: Reuters)
04 Oct 22. US Denies Ukraine’s Request for Long-Range Missiles in Latest Arms Gift. Ukraine can reach the “vast majority” of targets with what they already have, a Pentagon official says. The newest U.S. weapons package heading for Ukraine will not include the advanced long-range missile system that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and several congressional leaders have requested. But Pentagon leaders said its latest gift will include more of the medium-range rockets and long-range artillery systems they claim have helped Ukrainian forces to reclaim territory and momentum from invading Russians during the counteroffensive in recent weeks.
The latest offering includes four additional High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, which have helped Ukraine turn the tide in its eastern lands by targeting Russian ground-force positions, command centers, and weapons caches. Laura Cooper, a top Pentagon civilian official for Ukraine war policy, said the U.S. believes the munitions those HIMARS fire, known as the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System, or GMLRS, can reach where Ukrainian forces need. Notably, the U.S. is withholding long-range missiles that some planners have feared could strike deeper inside of Russia, including the Army Tactical Missile System, or ATACMS, Zelenskyy wants.
“It’s our assessment that with the existing GMLRS capability that they have on the HIMARS, and that we’re providing more of with this package, that they can reach the vast majority of targets on the battlefield,” said the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia. “… including Crimea.”
Cooper said the Pentagon believes Ukraine has used these weapons effectively so far, “creating opportunities to maneuver and advance” and changing “battlefield dynamics,” to reclaim territory and to consolidate their gains.
“The liberation of Lyman was a significant operational accomplishment,” she said.
The weapons package announced Tuesday comes amid new polling showing Americans’ support for increased U.S. diplomacy to end the war growing, and conservative support to fund the war waning. Nearly 80 percent of respondents surveyed in mid-September said they were concerned about the war. But 58 percent said they would oppose current Ukraine aid levels if gas and consumer prices stay high. Only 30 percent believe the war will end in “total victory for one country,” with most foreseeing a negotiated settlement. While 30 percent support U.S. diplomatic and military support, only 9 percent support giving Ukraine everything it asks for.
President Joe Biden, in call with Zelenskyy on Tuesday, showed no sign of any hesitation one month ahead of the midterm elections. “President Biden pledged to continue supporting Ukraine as it defends itself from Russian aggression, for as long as it takes,” according a White House readout of the call. Secretary of State Tony Blinken in a statement said, “United with our allies and partners from 50 nations, we are delivering the arms and equipment that Ukraine’s forces are utilizing so effectively today in a successful counter-offensive to take back their lands seized illegally by Russia.”
The first weapons package of the fiscal year also follows new threats by Russian President Vladimir Putin to use tactical nuclear weapons to influence the battlefield in Ukraine. Cooper said while all nuclear threats are taken seriously, there is no indication of more.
“At this point, his rhetoric is only rhetoric. And it’s irresponsible saber rattling that we see, at this point,” she said. “But we see no signs that have caused us to alter our posture.”
Cooper said she has seen open media reports of a Russian train carrying nuclear equipment to the front, but could not corroborate them.
The package includes 75,000 155mm howitzer artillery rounds, which speaks to how quickly and aggressively the Ukrainian counter-offensive is unfolding. While Russia still controls an area of Ukraine about the size of Portugal—roughly 15 percent of the country—that area is shrinking rapidly, with active advances in both the eastern and southern fronts. The increased pace of the fighting in recent weeks has renewed concerns about Western supplies and stocks.
“We are comfortable that we are not incurring any serious readiness impacts in terms of the HIMARS or any other capability in this or any previous drawdown package,” Cooper said, as the United States and allies increase production of ammunition. “While today you see very high rates of consumption of ammunition, but you also see an incredibly high op-tempo on the battlefield as the Ukrainians press forward very successfully. We are increasing production and we see over time that we will be able to have a sustainable rate” for U.S. and Ukrainian needs.
U.S. maintenance technicians in Poland said in September that Ukraine was firing howitzer rounds with such volume and frequency that they were rapidly wearing the guns down in ways even the maintenance personnel had never seen. So far, the United States has provided Ukraine with 10 HIMARS, while other allies have given 10 and promised 10 more.
Mark Cancian, a senior adviser with the CSIS International Security Program, last month said, “The United States has given over one-and-a-half m projectiles to Ukraine, and this is probably close to the limit that the United States is willing to give without risk to its own warfighting capabilities … In FY 2023, the United States only planned to buy 29,000 of the basic high explosive projectiles (M795). Surge capacity was 288,000 projectiles per year, though with a 48-month lead time.”
European sources are also beginning to run low on rounds. “The military stocks of most [European NATO] member states have been, I wouldn’t say exhausted, but depleted in a high proportion, because we have been providing a lot of capacity to the Ukrainians,” Josep Borrell Fontelles, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security, told CNBC at the end of last month.
Cooper said that last week Defense Department Acquisition and Sustainment Undersecretary William LaPlante met with defense industry leaders. “And we’re seeing our allies and partners investing in ammunition production,” she said.
The arms package includes:
- 16 155mm howitzers and 75,000 155mm artillery rounds
- 500 precision-guided M982 Excalibur 155mm artillery rounds;
- 1,000 155mm rounds of Remote Anti-Armor Mine (RAAM) Systems;
- 16 105mm Howitzers;
- 30,000 120mm mortar rounds;
- 200 MaxxPro Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles (MRAPs)
- 200,000 rounds of small arms ammunition;
- Obstacle emplacement equipment;
- Claymore anti-personnel munitions (configured to be consistent with the Ottawa Convention);
- Field equipment.
The total value of the package is around $625m. (Source: Defense One)
05 Oct 22. Ukraine reports rapid push back of Russian troops on two front.
- Zelenskiy says Ukraine retakes territory in rapid advance
- Moscow maps show shrinking controlled areas
- Putin poised to sign annexation law
- U.N. General Assembly to meet Monday
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Ukraine’s military had made major, rapid advances against Russian forces in the past week, taking back dozens of towns in regions in the south and east that Russia has declared annexed.
“This week alone, since the Russian pseudo-referendum, dozens of population centres have been liberated. These are in Kherson, Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk regions all together,” he said in a Tuesday night address.
Russia moved to annex those regions after holding what it called referendums over several days from Sept. 23 – votes that were denounced by Kyiv and Western governments as illegal and coercive.
Russian President Vladimir Putin proclaimed their annexation last Friday.
Zelenskiy named eight small towns in Kherson in the south as recently having been recaptured. Reuters could not independently verify his statements.
A video released by the Ukraine defence ministry appeared to show the Ukrainian flag being raised over one of those communities, Davydiv Brid, in Kherson.
Ukrainian forces retook several villages in an advance along the strategic Dnipro River on Monday, Ukrainian officials and a Russian-backed leader in the area said.
In the east, Ukrainian forces have been expanding an offensive after capturing the main Russian bastion in the north of Donetsk, the town of Lyman.
Russian forces in the Donetsk and Kherson regions have been forced to retreat in recent days and appear to be struggling to halt an increasingly Western-equipped Ukrainian army.
“In some areas of the front line it was possible to extend the area we hold from between 10 to 20 km,” the southern Operational Command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) said on Wednesday.
Russian forces were destroying their reserves of ammunition and trying to destroy bridges and crossings in order to slow the Ukrainian advance, the UAF said in its daily report.
In Kherson, withdrawing Russian forces were planting mines on “infrastructure facilities” and in homes, it said.
In the past 24 hours, Russia had lost 31 servicemen, more than 40 pieces of equipment, including eight tanks, 26 armoured vehicles, and a large calibre howitzer, it said.
Putin had been expected to sign on Tuesday evening a law formally annexing the four Ukrainian regions. They represent about 18% of Ukraine’s territory, and Kyiv and its Western allies annexation say is illegal and will not be recognised.
Russia does not fully control any of the four regions it claims – Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine and Zaporizhzhia and Kherson in the south – and the Kremlin has said it had yet to determine the borders of the annexed territory.
Russia has escalated its seven-month war with the annexation drive, a military mobilisation and warnings of a possible recourse to nuclear weapons to protect its territory.
Moscow hopes a “partial mobilisation” it announced two weeks ago can help reverse a series of battlefield setbacks.
Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu was cited by the RIA news agency on Tuesday as saying that Russia had so far called up more than 200,000 reservists out of a planned 300,000 men.
Many Russian men have fled the country rather than fight in Ukraine, however, and Russian lawyers say they are working flat out to advise men who want to avoid being drafted.
Russian defence ministry maps presented on Tuesday appeared to show rapid withdrawals of Russian forces from areas in eastern and southern Ukraine where they have been under severe pressure from the Ukrainian counteroffensive.
The ministry’s daily video briefing made no mention of any pullbacks, but on maps used to show the location of purported Russian strikes, the shaded area designating Russian military control was much smaller than the day before.
On the eastern front, Denis Pushilin, the Russia-backed leader in Donetsk, said Russian forces were building a serious line of defence around the city of Kreminna after being pushed back.
U.N. GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO MEET
U.S. President Joe Biden told Zelenskiy in a call that the United States would provide Ukraine with $625 m in new security assistance, including High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers.
Biden also reiterated that the United States would “never recognise” Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory. Earlier, the European Union also rejected Moscow’s “illegal annexation” and urged it to unconditionally withdraw its troops.
Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, said in a social media post that the U.S. decision to send more military aid to Ukraine posed a threat to Russia’s interests and increased the risk of a military clash between Russia and the West.
The U.N. General Assembly is expected to vote next week on a draft resolution denouncing Russia’s action, diplomats said. Russia vetoed a similar resolution in the 15-member Security Council last week.
In a decree on Tuesday, Zelenskiy formally declared any talks with Putin “impossible”, while leaving the door open to talks with Moscow if it got a new leader.
The Kremlin said that what it calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine would not end if Kyiv ruled out talks, adding that it “takes two sides to negotiate”. (Source: Reuters)
04 Oct 22. HIMARS, Excalibur Rounds Headed for Ukraine in $625m Security Assistance Package. The Defense Department today announced an additional $625m in security assistance headed to Ukraine as part of the 22nd round of presidential drawdown authority. The equipment in the new package is specifically tailored to what Ukraine needs in the short term, and Ukraine continues to use what has been provided by the United States to great effect, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia said.
“Ukraine has demonstrated the ability to use these capabilities to degrade Russian logistics and command and control, creating opportunities for Ukraine to maneuver and to advance,” said Laura Cooper. “This has created, as said recently, a change in battlefield dynamics.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday signed “accession treaties” illegally claiming that the Ukrainian territories of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia are now part of Russia. However, Ukrainian efforts on the ground, using equipment provided by both the U.S. and allies, demonstrate a different reality, Cooper said.
“The Ukrainian armed forces continue to reclaim territory and to consolidate their gains,” Cooper said. “The liberation of Lyman was a significant operational accomplishment, and Ukrainian forces continued to make deliberate progress in the Kharkiv region, and also further south around Kherson. Ukrainian counter-offensive in Kherson has made significant advances over the last 24 hours, and Ukrainian forces continue to liberate villages as they press forward.”
Included in the latest package are four High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, also called HIMARS, and associated munitions; 16 M777 155 mm Howitzers; 75,000 artillery rounds for the Howitzers, as well as 500 M982 Excalibur precision-guided rounds; 1,000 155 mm rounds of remote anti-armor mine systems; 16 105 mm Howitzers; 30,000 120 mm mortar rounds; 200 MaxxPro mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, or MRAPs; 200,000 rounds of small arms ammunition; obstacle emplacement equipment and Claymore anti-personnel munitions.
The entire package, said Cooper, was developed in conjunction with the Ukrainians, based on what they need.
“These are capabilities that the Ukrainians have received previously, and have requested additional capabilities,” Cooper said. “And it also responds to, in terms of … the volume of ammunition that they need on the battlefield today. We’re looking very closely at their consumption rates for ammunition to make sure that they have what they need for the counter-offensive.”
Warfighting materiel provided under presidential drawdown authority, or PDA, is pulled directly from U.S. military stocks. The U.S. has also provided support to Ukraine through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. Under USAI, the U.S. purchases materiel directly from defense contractors, and that material must be manufactured first before being sent overseas.
The U.S. has committed more than $16.8bn to Ukraine since the beginning of Russia’s February 24, 2022 invasion, and Cooper said more will come.
“The United States will continue to provide Ukraine with the weapons and equipment to meet its urgent needs on the battlefield, while also building Ukraine’s enduring strength to defend its sovereignty over the long term,” Cooper said. “The United States will continue to consult closely with Ukraine to meet its evolving battlefield requirements, in coordination with our allies and partners, to provide Ukraine with the capabilities it needs.”
North Korean Missile Launch
Last night, said Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea conducted a ballistic missile launch which flew over Japan.
“The United States condemns these actions and calls on the DPRK to refrain from further unlawful and destabilizing acts,” Ryder said.
In response to that missile launch, Ryder said the United States conducted two bilateral exercises, one with Japan and one with the Republic of Korea.
With Japan, he said, U.S. Marine Corps fighter aircraft partnered with Japan Air Self-Defense Force fighter aircraft in an exercise over the Sea of Japan. U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and Republic of Korea personnel also conducted a bilateral exercise over the West Sea.
“These engagements were taken to showcase combined deterrent and dynamic strike capabilities, while demonstrating the interoperability our nations share,” Ryder said.
Ryder said that today, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke with his Japanese and Korean counterparts to discuss the threats posed by North Korea and reaffirm the U.S. commitment to the defense of Japan and the Republic of Korea. (Source: US DoD)
04 Oct 22. $625m in Additional Security Assistance for Ukraine.
Today, the Department of Defense (DoD) announces the authorization of a Presidential Drawdown of security assistance valued at up to $625 m to meet Ukraine’s critical security and defense needs. This authorization is the Biden Administration’s twenty-second drawdown of equipment from DoD inventories for Ukraine since August 2021.
Capabilities in this package include:
- Four High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and associated ammunition;
- 16 155mm Howitzers;
- 75,000 155mm artillery rounds;
- 500 precision-guided 155mm artillery rounds;
- 1,000 155mm rounds of Remote Anti-Armor Mine (RAAM) Systems;
- 16 105mm Howitzers;
- 30,000 120mm mortar rounds;
- 200 MaxxPro Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles;
- 200,000 rounds of small arms ammunition;
- Obstacle emplacement equipment;
- Claymore anti-personnel munitions.
In total, the United States has committed more than $17.5bn in security assistance to Ukraine since January 2021. Since 2014, the United States has committed more than $19.6bn in security assistance to Ukraine and more than $16.8bn since the beginning of Russia’s unprovoked and brutal invasion on February 24.
To meet Ukraine’s evolving battlefield requirements, the United States will continue to work with its Allies and partners to provide Ukraine with key capabilities. (Source: US DoD)
03 Oct 22. RMK Marine launches Ukraine’s first Ada-class ship Hetman Ivan Mazepa. Delivery of Hetman Ivan Mazepa to Ukraine is expected to take place by the end of 2024. Turkish state-owned shipbuilding company RMK Marine has launched the first Ada-class corvette, named Hetman Ivan Mazepa, for the Ukrainian Navy. It was confirmed via a media release by the Presidential Office of Ukraine.
As per the Ukrainian Navy ’s Facebook post, the vessel was launched during a ceremony at Istanbul Naval Shipyard in Turkey, on 2 October.
The event was attended by Ukraine First Lady Olena Zelenska and Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov.
Zelenska said: “I am glad to launch the corvette that will serve Ukraine and at the same time have a Turkish heart.”
The newly launched Hetman Ivan Mazepa corvette is primarily designed to perform coastal operations.
The Ada-class ship, built under MILGEM project, can also be deployed to carry out various missions including patrolling in the open sea and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) operations.
Reznikov tweeted: “Corvette ‘Hetman Ivan Mazepa’ of the @UA_NAVY was launched! @ZelenskaUA became the godmother of the ship. It is being built in 🇹🇷 and will serve 🇺🇦. With a ship like this, our Black and Azov seas will be safe. P.S. The future base port is Ukrainian Sevastopol.”
RMK Marine is constructing this vessel as part of a contract awarded by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense (MoD) in 2020.
The first corvette of this class was named by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in August last year.
Delivery of Hetman Ivan Mazepa was originally scheduled for this year end. However, the process has been delayed due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The vessel’s delivery is now expected to take place by the end of 2024. (Source: naval-technology.com)
03 Oct 22. Germany, Norway, and Denmark to buy 16 ZUZANA-2 howitzers for Ukraine. The delivery of the artillery systems from Slovakia to Ukraine is scheduled to start from 2023.Germany, Norway, and Denmark have decided to jointly purchase 16 ZUZANA-2 self-propelled wheeled tank howitzers from Slovakia to provide additional assistance to Ukraine.
The move was announced on 2 October.
The procurement of the artillery systems will be funded equally by the three nations. It has an estimated value of approximately $90.15m (€92m).
Production of the ZUZANA-2 howitzers will be carried out in the Slovak Republic, with delivery to Ukraine expected to start from next year.
The latest donation is the result of the Copenhagen Donors’ Conference for Ukraine, held on 11 August.
The event was conducted to sustain long-term, multilateral military assistance to Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s invasion.
In a separate development, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace visited Ukraine to meet his Ukrainian counterpart and discuss additional future support for the war-torn nation.
The high-level talks between Wallace and Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov focused on the UK’s ongoing support to Ukraine that is expected to continue through to next year.
Wallace said: “I was delighted to have visited my good friend Reznikov in Kyiv this week to discuss more military aid and help to Ukraine.
“Our support to their fight against Russian aggression goes from strength-to-strength, and will continue all through 2023 and beyond.”
The visit comes after UK Prime Minister Liz Truss revealed that the country will ‘meet or exceed’ the total amount of military aid provided in 2022.
The British Government’s 20 September statement also specified that the nature of aid in 2023 will be decided on the basis of the Ukraine Armed Forces’ requirements. It may also include the delivery of multiple-launch rocket systems to Ukraine by the UK and other nations. (Source: army-technology.com)
04 Oct 22. Ukraine forces break through Russian defences in south, advance in east.
- Ukraine making gains in two of four regions annexed by Russia
- Retaking of strategic hub of Lyman improves access to the Donbas
- Elon Musk proposal for ending war draws Ukrainian condemnation
- Ukraine says it took 31 Russian tanks out of action in south
Ukrainian forces have broken through Russian defences in the south of the country while expanding their rapid offensive in the east, seizing back more territory in areas annexed by Russia and threatening its troops’ supply lines.
Making their biggest breakthrough in the south since the war began, Ukrainian forces recaptured several villages in an advance along the strategic Dnipro River on Monday, Ukrainian officials and a Russian-installed leader in the area said.
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Ukrainian forces in the south destroyed 31 Russian tanks and one multiple rocket launcher, the military’s southern operational command said in a nightly update, without providing details of where the fighting occurred.
Reuters could not immediately verify the battlefield accounts.
The southern breakthrough mirrors recent Ukrainian advances in the east even as Russia has tried to raise the stakes by annexing land, ordering mobilisation, and threatening nuclear retaliation.
Ukraine has made significant advances in two of the four Russian-occupied regions Moscow last week annexed after what it called referendums – votes that were denounced by Kyiv and Western governments as illegal and coercive.
In a sign Ukraine is building momentum on the eastern front, Reuters saw columns of Ukrainian military vehicles heading on Monday to reinforce the rail hub of Lyman, retaken at the weekend, and a staging post to press into the Donbas region.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Ukraine’s army had seized back towns in a number of areas, without giving details.
“New population centres have been liberated in several regions. Heavy fighting is going on in several sectors of the front,” Zelenskiy said in a video address.
Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of Luhansk – one of two regions that make up the Donbas – said Russian forces had taken over a psychiatric hospital in the town of Svatovo, a target en route to recapturing the major cities of Lysychansk and Sivierodonetsk.
“There is quite a network of underground rooms in the building and they have taken up defensive positions,” he told Ukrainian television.
In the south, Ukrainian troops recaptured the town of Dudchany along the west bank of the Dnipro River, which bisects the country, Vladimir Saldo, the Russian-installed leader in occupied parts of Ukraine’s Kherson province, told Russian state television.
“There are settlements that are occupied by Ukrainian forces,” Saldo said.
Dudchany is about 30km (20 miles) south of where the front stood before Monday’s breakthrough, indicating the fastest advance of the war in the south. Russian forces there had been dug into heavily reinforced positions along a mainly static front line since the early weeks of the invasion.
While Ukraine has yet to give a full account of the developments, military and regional officials did release some details.
Soldiers from Ukraine’s 128th Mountain Assault Brigade raised the blue and yellow national flag in Myrolyubivka, a village between the former front and the Dnipro, according to a video released by the defence ministry.
Serhiy Khlan, a Kherson regional council member, listed four other villages recaptured or where Ukrainian troops had been photographed.
“It means that our armed forces are moving powerfully along the banks of the Dnipro nearer to Beryslav,” he said.
Russian missiles struck the northeastern city of Kharkiv killing a woman, its governor said on a messaging service, while Ukraine’s General Staff said Russian reinforcements were arriving from Siberia and Syria.
Reuters was unable to verify the developments.
‘ABILITY TO ATTACK’
The southern advance is targeting supply lines for as many as 25,000 Russian troops on the Dnipro’s west bank. Ukraine has already destroyed the river’s main bridges, forcing Russian forces to use makeshift crossings.
A substantial advance down river could cut them off entirely.
“The fact we have broken through the front means that … the Russian army has already lost the ability to attack, and today or tomorrow it could lose the ability to defend,” said Oleh Zhdanov, a military analyst based in Kyiv.
Ukraine appears to be on course to achieve several of its battlefield objectives, giving it “a much better defensive position to ride out what probably will be a tamping down of the hot fighting over the winter”, Celeste Wallander, a senior Pentagon official, said on Monday.
Just hours after a concert on Moscow’s Red Square on Friday where Russian President Vladimir Putin proclaimed the provinces of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia to be Russian territory forever, Ukraine recaptured Lyman, the main Russian bastion in the north of Donetsk province.
Bnaire Elon Musk on Monday asked Twitter users to weigh in on a plan to end the war which included proposing U.N.-supervised elections in the four occupied regions and recognising Crimea, which Moscow seized in 2014, as Russian.
The plan drew immediate condemnation from Ukrainians, including Zelenskiy.
Russia’s flagging fortunes have led to a shift in mood on state media, where talkshow hosts have been acknowledging setbacks and searching for scapegoats.
“For a certain period of time, things won’t be easy for us. We shouldn’t be expecting good news right now,” said Vladimir Solovyov, the most prominent presenter on state television.
The commander of Russia’s western military district, which borders Ukraine, has lost his job, Russian media reported, the latest top official to be fired after defeats. (Source: Reuters)
03 Oct 22. US may establish new command in Germany to arm Ukraine: report. A new mission is being established at U.S. European Command’s headquarters in Germany to oversee how the U.S. trains and equips Ukrainian troops, according to a report by the New York Times.
The plan for a formal structure in Wiesbaden, Germany, for the U.S. efforts to aid Ukraine following the Russian invasion in February was presented by EUCOM commander Gen. Christopher Cavoli to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in late September, according to the Times.
Citing an unnamed source within the U.S. military and Biden administration, the Times reported that the new command would include approximately 300 personnel, and would likely report to Cavoli. While the command’s headquarters would be situated in Wiesbaden, training would likely take place at other U.S. bases in Germany, such as Grafenwoehr or Hohenfels, where the Army has large ranges.
A final decision on the command is expected within the next few weeks.
“In close coordination with our Allies and partners, we continue to take steps to align our support to the Ukrainian Armed Forces in a more unified manner in order to aid the Ukrainians with their most urgent needs on the battlefield against the Russian invading force,” EUCOM spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Day told Military Times in a statement. “At this time, any additional changes or moves to improve our ability to support the Ukrainians are pre-decisional, but as previously stated, we continue to take steps to better align our support.”
Signs of a potential re-structuring have been seen in recent weeks, as a multi-national logistics cell — the International Donor Coordination Center — moved from Stuttgart to Wiesbaden earlier this summer.
“The co-location with the U.S. Army Europe and Africa headquarters, as well as XVIII Airborne Corps increases the ability of the organization to rapidly support Ukraine operations,” EUCOM said in a statement regarding the Aug. 6 move.
The U.S. military began its mission to train Ukrainian troops well before Russia launched its full-scale war earlier this year. The initial efforts began in 2015, following the separation of Crimea from Ukraine.
U.S. troops, in addition to forces from Canada, Lithuania, Denmark, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom, have been training Ukrainian forces through the Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine. Initially stationed at the Combat Training Center-Yavoriv near Lviv, in western Ukraine, the troops were removed just before the invasion began.
“United States military units support the training to strengthen relationships and affirm the United States’ commitment to European partners,” a press release from the Army stated. “Army National Guard brigade combat teams provide the main support to the Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine mission in nine-month rotations as part of the Army’s rotational model.”
The U.S. military also still has thousands of troops positioned across Europe in response to the invasion, including in Poland, Romania, Germany, Latvia and Lithuania. To date, the U.S. has committed more than $16bn to Ukraine. (Source: Army Times)
03 Oct 22. Senior Military Official Says Russia in ‘Defensive Crouch’ in Kherson. As fighting continues in Ukraine, the Ukrainian military’s counter-offensive operations in the south of their country have Russian forces in a “defensive crouch” said a senior military official during a background briefing today at the Pentagon.
“Down in the Kherson region where Ukraine is conducting their counter-offensive … the Russians essentially are in a defensive crouch. They are fighting, obviously. But they’re in a defensive crouch, as opposed to further north up near Bakhmut where it’s more offensive in nature.”
In the north of Ukraine, the official said, Ukrainian forces have entered the city of Lyman and now control the city, following Russia having ceded that territory.
“It’s our assessment that many of these Russian forces have moved back towards Kreminna, just east of Lyman, and are likely prioritizing that location to hold the line and rebuff further Ukrainian advances,” the official said. “We believe Lyman was being employed by Russian forces as a logistics hub, so its liberation by Ukraine is a significant operational accomplishment.”
The official said the loss of Lyman poses logistical challenges for the Russians.
“It impacts the ability to resupply forces along the forward line of troops,” the official said. “Anytime that you remove any type of C2 hub like that, it’s going to impact your ability to respond quickly. It’s going to impact your ability to essentially drive the pace of the operations.”
The same official said Russians continue to fire artillery into the area around Kupiansk, but that the Ukrainians continue to defend the area, and that in Bakhmut, heavy fighting continues as Russian forces have tried to push west.
“No significant shifts on the ground have occurred as Ukrainian forces continue to hold the line there,” the official said.
Near Kherson, over the weekend Ukrainian forces were also able to liberate two villages, including Arkhanhelske and Myrolyubivka, both near the Dnieper river, the official added.
The Russians have said they aim to conscript some 300,000 new soldiers to augment troops already in Ukraine, but so far, the official said, the Defense Department has seen few of those new troops in Ukraine, though eventually they will have to make an appearance.
“We know that they’re looking to mobilize upwards of 300,000 troops and that, you know, as that mobilization continues, we would fully expect that some of those troops eventually will be assigned to locations inside Ukraine,” the official said. ” broadly speaking, we’ve seen relatively small numbers at this stage. In other words, we’re not talking about brigade-sized forces coming into Ukraine. We’re seeing … some replacement forces coming in to assist as … they are attrited and as they’ve back to try to shore up some of the defensive lines. But nothing large-scale at this stage of the game.”
The official said the department does expect those new troops will appear on the battlefield at some point in the future, however. (Source: US DoD)
03 Oct 22. State, Commerce, and Treasury Respond With New Sanctions to Russia’s Illegal Annexation of Ukrainian Territory.
The U.S. Department of State, Commerce, and the Treasury have imposed the following new sanctions in response to Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory:
- State has imposed visa restrictions on 910 individuals, including members of the Russian Federation military, Belarusian military officials, and Russia’s proxies for violating Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence. The Department is also designating Russian national, Ochur-Suge Mongush, for his involvement in a gross violation of human rights perpetrated against a Ukrainian prisoner of war. Under this authority, Mongush and his immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States.
- Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has issued a rule adding 7 entities located in Russia and the Crimea region of Ukraine to the Entity List—bringing the total to 392. Click here for BIS’ new FAQ on sanctioning companies or government entities in third countries (outside of Russia or Belarus) that support the Russian and Belarusian military.
- Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has designated 109 additional State Duma members, 169 members of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, and more members of Russia’s government including Elvira Sakhipzadovna Nabiullina, the Governor of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation (CBR) and a former advisor to Putin; Olga Nikolaevna Skorobogatova, the First Deputy Governor of the CBR; and Aleksandr Valentinovich Novak, a Deputy Prime Minister. OFAC has also designated family members of Russia’s National Security Council, such as Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Vladimirovich Mishustin’s wife and two adult children, Minister of Defense Sergei Kuzhugetovich Shoigu’s wife and adult children, and National Guard Head Viktor Vasilievich Zolotov’s wife and adult children, along with the immediate family members of Deputy Chairman of the Russian Federation Security Council Dmitry Anatolievich Medvedev, Speaker of the Federation Council Valentina Ivanovna Matviyenko, and Saint Petersburg Governor Aleksandr Dmitrievich Beglov. State has joined Treasury in targeting family members of Russia’s National Security Council by designating Olga Sergeevna Sobyanina and Anna Sergeevna Ershova pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 14024 for being the adult children of Moscow mayor and Russian Security Council member Sergey Sobyanin, a person whose property and interests in property are blocked under E.O. 14024. Moreover, in furtherance of the United States’ commitment to cut off Russia’s access to technology critical to its military, OFAC has designated 14 persons, including international suppliers, who have supported Russia’s defense sector. Click here for Treasury’s press release and here for further identifying information on the designated individuals and entities. (Source: glstrade.com)
03 Oct 22. Joint statement by Ministers of the Joint Expeditionary Force.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace met virtually with ministers from Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) partner nations to discuss attacks on the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea.
Following the deliberate damage caused to the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea, today Defence Ministers of the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) met virtually to share assessments of the blatant and irresponsible attacks against critical civilian infrastructure.
The JEF condemns in the strongest terms the reckless sabotage in the Baltic Sea. It is discussing security responses, including increased maritime presence and Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance activities. It will seek to deter further such acts, reassure allies and demonstrate collective commitment to the security and stability of the region. Ministers discussed increasing shared intelligence assessments to ensure common situational awareness, as well as cooperation to secure critical infrastructure. The JEF will ensure complementarity, alignment and transparency with NATO as well as the investigation led by Danish, Swedish and German authorities.
The JEF is a group of like-minded nations – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom. The nations share the same purpose, values and a common focus on security and stability in the JEF core regions of the High North, North Atlantic and Baltic Sea region. The JEF provides a responsive, capable, and ready military force that undertakes integrated activities at sea, on land and in the air, across northern Europe. These activities are preventative and proportionate and demonstrate solidarity, capability, and resolve to stand together for security and stability in the JEF core regions.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace added: “In this period of heightened concern for all like-minded partner nations, it is right that we act with speed, agility and collective resolve to actively demonstrate our shared commitment to mutual security.” (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
03 Oct 22. DOD Policy Official Says Authoritarian Regimes Like Russia at Distinct Disadvantage. Authoritarian regimes create incentives for leaders not to tell their boss the truth, including bad news.
This is playing out in Russia, said Celeste Wallander, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, who spoke today at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“Authoritarian regimes do not have the sometimes troublesome but always constructive feedback mechanisms of democracies. You can’t make good decisions if you don’t have good information. And, you can’t have good information if you don’t have a variety of views and the ability to question yourself and reassess and course correct,” she said.
Over the last two decades, Russian President Vladimir Putin has created a “rigid, brittle structure in which only the like-minded succeed; in which he is surrounded by people who think the way he does and anyone who was willing to stick their head up and say, ‘maybe that’s not a good idea,’ has found themselves, at best, being fired,” she said.
Wallander said that she values her own role as a female civilian in the Pentagon, where she can provide her viewpoints and assessments and her contributions are given full consideration by leadership.
Of course, those assessments need to be backed up by good research and data, she added.
Sometimes in a meeting, it’s best to let others speak first, she said, addressing group dynamics. “Think about the advantage you have sometimes by letting other people talk a lot first. And then take the moment to marshal your thoughts, to listen to others, to gain from that and then be ready to make your contribution.”
One of the important traits of a good leader, is to be a good listener, she said. Another important trait is to be a good team builder and contribute to the team.
Another benefit the U.S. has vis-a-vis authoritarian regimes, is that the U.S. has been, and is an excellent global team builder and team player, she said.
As a result, dozens of allies and partners have joined in support with the U.S. in aiding Ukraine’s defense against the illegal invasion by Russia of its neighbor, she said. (Source: US DoD)
30 Sep 22. Comtech awarded Foreign Military Sales contract to support Ukraine’s war efforts. Comtech (NASDAQ: CMTL) has been awarded a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract for the Ukrainian Government.
The FMS contract is for Beyond-Line-Of-Sight (BLOS) communications terminals and upgrades to the country’s existing systems. In March, Comtech donated identical systems to those now being purchased to the international effort to support the defense of Ukraine at the request of the Ukrainian government. These systems were requested by Ukrainian Special Forces to enhance their ability to rapidly deploy secure, resilient communication channels in contested environments.
Comtech has supported multiple communications upgrades and modernization initiatives for the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense since 2017. As a result, Comtech is well placed to provide systems that were previously certified for use by the Ukrainian military and can be fielded with training provided by Comtech and current operators. Comtech’s solutions, coupled with the firm’s ability to speed deployment of these critical support capabilities, made the company the choice for a contract award.
The Company’s terminals can easily be linked with other Comtech tactical, mobile and fixed systems to provide a robust, comprehensive BLOS communications solution that can be used to enhance the Ukrainian Military’s existing communications capabilities. Comtech’s solutions are ideal for Tactical Military, Disaster Recovery, and Emergency Communications Restoration applications anywhere in the world.
“Comtech’s Troposcatter Family of Systems (FOS) provides U.S. and International customers the benefit of transporting secure, resilient high-capacity IP data communications to the tactical edge,” said Doug Houston, President of Comtech Systems, Inc.
“Global militaries have relied on our Comtech Systems division to consistently provide robust communications solutions globally for over forty years and our new state-of-the-art radio-modem technology is a game changer in the marketplace,” said Comtech’s Chairman, President, and CEO, Ken Peterman. (Source: Satnews)
02 Oct 22. Nato’s Jens Stoltenberg warns Russia of ‘severe consequences’ for nuclear weapons. Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg has warned of “severe consequences for Russia” if Vladimir Putin were to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, amid escalating rhetoric from Moscow and its allies. “The nuclear rhetoric is dangerous. It’s reckless,” Stoltenberg told NBC’s Meet The Press on Sunday. Any use of nuclear weapons would “change the nature” of the Ukraine conflict, he added. “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. And this is a message that Nato and Nato allies convey clearly to Russia,” he said. Stoltenberg’s remarks follow some of Putin’s sharpest rhetoric to date on Moscow’s willingness to use nuclear force as its military campaign suffers defeats in Ukraine. Western leaders and government officials believe this threat has grown since Friday, when Putin formally annexed swaths of eastern and southern Ukraine and declared it Russian territory. Since then, Ukrainian forces say they have retaken the key railway hub of Lyman in Donetsk province, eastern Ukraine. Jens Stoltenberg: ‘A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought’ © Nato/dpa The defeat in Lyman has been met with widespread criticism in Russia of the country’s military command. Some of Putin’s most ardent supporters have demanded a more robust response, with some nationalist hawks proposing the use of a low-yield nuclear weapon. Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Russia’s southern Chechnya region, on Saturday said a change of strategy was needed “right up to the declaration of martial law in the border areas and the use of low-yield nuclear weapons”. Tactical nuclear weapons typically have a tenth of the explosive potential of traditional nuclear weapons and are intended to overcome conventional forces on a battlefield. Russia has about 2,000 of the weapons, which can be delivered as warheads on conventional missiles such as the Iskander that it has already deployed in Ukraine, but also by ground forces, fighter jets or naval gunships. Stoltenberg also warned against attacks on Nato countries’ infrastructure, as western authorities investigate leaks from the Nord Stream pipeline last week that they believe were caused by sabotage. Recommended News in-depthWar in Ukraine Desperate Russians fleeing Putin’s war draft stream into Kazakhstan “Any deliberate attack on a critical Nato infrastructure will be met with a firm and united response from Nato,” he said. Stoltenberg said the west’s best response to Putin was to continue doing what it was doing now: providing Ukraine with the financial and military aid it needed to re-take critical territories, such as Lyman. (Source: FT.com)
30 Sep 22. Congress passes Ukraine nuclear security funding. The House on Friday passed 230-201 an additional $12.35bn Ukraine aid package, including money to help Kyiv respond to a potential nuclear security incident, as part of its stopgap funding bill to avert a government shutdown.
The package includes $35m in defense nuclear nonproliferation funding for the National Nuclear Security Administration to prepare Ukraine for a potential incident from shelling at the besieged Zaporizhzhia power plant. The Senate passed the government funding bill, complete with the Ukraine nuclear nonproliferation funding, 72-25 on Thursday and President Joe Biden is expected to sign it into law on Friday.
Craig Branson, a spokesman for the National Nuclear Security Administration, told Defense News in a statement the agency is “modeling potential consequences of damages to nuclear facilities” in Ukraine.
“Specifically, the funds will support procurement and maintenance of additional radiation sensors, data assessment and analysis, equipment and supplies for the National Guard of Ukraine for protective capabilities at nuclear facilities, counter-nuclear smuggling equipment for the Ukraine State Border Guard and potentially consolidation of radiological materials,” Branson wrote.
He noted the agency has already “provided significant assistance to Ukraine to monitor radiation levels” at sites such as Zaporizhzhia and the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone.
The Zapoprizhzhia power plant has come under frequent shelling in recent months amid Russia’s siege of the province. Russian shelling sparked a fire at part of the facility when Moscow first took control of the area in March.
International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi led a delegation to inspect the plant earlier this month. After the visit, he called for a demilitarized protection zone around the power plant to avoid a potential nuclear incident if artillery hits the site.
Grossi said this week he is willing to start talks with Ukraine and Russia on setting up such a zone, but Russia has rejected previous calls for a demilitarized zone around the power plant.
“We are playing with fire and something very catastrophic could take place,” Grossi said after his visit.
The White House asked Congress for additional funding to bolster security around Zaporizhzhia before Russian President Vladimir Putin expanded his threats to use nuclear weapons in the conflict earlier this month.
Putin last week said he would use nuclear weapons if Russian territory comes under attack. During the same speech, he announced a referendum in Zaporizhzhia and other Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine. He proceeded to annex those areas on Friday.
“The risk of nuclear weapons use at this particular moment is higher than it has been in decades,” Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association, told Defense News. “It is unprecedented in the post-Cold War era that a Russian or U.S. leader is threatening nuclear weapons use if their territory is at risk, but that’s what Vladimir Putin is doing.”
“We will have problems far beyond Ukraine, because the use of nuclear weapons could unfortunately quickly suck in NATO or U.S. military intervention, which then could lead to further escalation,” he added.
Biden declined to detail how the United States would respond should Russia use nuclear weapons in Ukraine during a 60 Minutes interview in September, but warned that doing so would “change the face of war unlike anything since World War II.” (Source: Defense News)
30 Sep 22. Standardized Materiel Could Bolster Ukraine’s Defense, Says Official. With the aim of providing long-term support to Ukraine, allies and partners recognize the importance of standardizing systems and munitions, thereby creating more interchangeable and interoperable systems, Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment William A. LaPlante said.
LaPlante chaired the first meeting of the national armaments directors from member nations of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, Sept. 28, in Brussels, Belgium, where the topic was discussed.
Today, he was joined by Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Sasha N. Baker, who also attended the Brussels meeting, to discuss the defense industrial base and long-term security assistance support for Ukraine by allies and partners at a Pentagon press briefing.
LaPlante provided an example of interchangeable parts. The 155 mm artillery rounds for the M-777 (howitzer) produced in different countries should all be interchangeable, he said.
“That’s where we need to go in lots of these systems. But it also means we’re going to have to agree on standards,” he said, meaning standards agreed upon by the Defense Department, allies and partners.
“That’s where we would like to potentially go; not for everything, but where it makes sense,” he added.
Regarding the Brussels meeting, LaPlante said it resulted in commitments to stand up smaller working groups to work through multinational strategies, to mitigate supply chain constraints, increase production, and work to increase interoperability and interchangeability of systems.
“This frank and open dialogue was exactly what we hoped to see as we went into the meeting. And I’m proud of the collective efforts to support Ukrainians in the long term,” he said. “The ability for us to work together across all the nations … to solve challenges is inspiring,” he added.
Baker said the level of dialogue and unified action among the participants “really underscores our unwavering global commitment to stand with Ukraine as it defends its sovereignty in the face of Russian aggression.”
Regarding standardization, Baker said allies will need to work with Ukraine to get their military hardware to NATO standards and “get them to a place where they can sustain their military and their defensive abilities over the long term. We have to start that now,” she said, because of the contracting and production timelines.
She added that the department is in constant conversations with Ukraine about their needs, both short and long-term.
The Russians have sent operators to Iran to learn how to use that natio’s unmanned aerial vehicles that they are providing, she mentioned.
The fact that they are seeking help from Iran illustrates desperation on their part, she said. The department believes the Russians are suffering from major supply shortages, in part, because of sanctions and export controls.
“We have seen some evidence already that the UAVs associated with the transfer from Iran have already experienced numerous failures on the battleground,” she added.
The Ukraine Defense Contact Group will meet again in Brussels Oct. 12 and 13. (Source: US DoD)
04 Oct 22. Ukrainians advance on two fronts battling Russian forces in east and south. Ukraine’s military is steadily pushing back Russian forces across two heavily fortified fronts, attempting to encircle weary Russian troops as it recaptures territory claimed by Vladimir Putin. Some heavy Ukrainian armour was en route to the eastern Donbas region, where troops were moving from Lyman, a railway hub won back three days ago, to support an uninterrupted advance towards the town of Lysychansk, held by Russia for more than three months. Some 600km to the south, Ukrainian soldiers forced well-entrenched Russian troops into what a US official referred to as “defensive crouch”. The heavy fighting has continued in towns like Dudchany, crucial stops en route to the shipbuilding city of Kherson, which fell into Russian hands days into the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February. The two simultaneous advances have given Ukraine swaths of strategic territory, and shown its ability to repurpose captured Russian weapons and newly arrived western weapons against an exhausted enemy still waiting for newly mobilised troops. Ukrainian officials have been wary of discussing operational details. But western allies briefed on the advance have described the operations which target individual Russian formations thinly stretched over vast distances with an overwhelming force that travels rapidly through the night. “In the vicinity of Kherson, we continue to see deliberate and calibrated operations by the Ukrainians as they continue their offensive,” a senior US military official said. “The [Russians] are fighting obviously, but they are in a defensive approach.” In the east, the Ukrainian military is “picking off the comparatively easier targets to seize some initiative”, another western diplomat said, avoiding sending more troops to get bogged down in cities like Bakhmut, where they have faced off against Russian artillery for months without much effect. Russia is attempting to bolster its forces at the front lines with what Putin has called a “partial” mobilisation of the army’s reserves. Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s defence minister, said on Tuesday that Russia had already called up 200,000 men. The measure, however, has proved deeply unpopular at home, prompting hundreds of thousands of people to leave the country and leaving the Kremlin to shift the blame on local officials. (Source: FT.com)
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