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Military and security developments
- This morning, 28 October, the Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russia has sent a further 1,000 recently mobilised troops to the Kherson frontline, which they maintain aim to mitigate the high losses Russian forces have sustained along the front in recent weeks. The limited flows of information in Kherson oblast continue to make it difficult to confirm whether Ukrainian forces have made any further advances, though the Ukrainian General Staff continued to report on 27 October that Russian forces are focusing on strengthening their defences across the frontline. Notably, President Volodymyr Zelensky stated in an interview with Italian newspaper, Corriere della Sera, on 27 October that reports of a Russian withdrawal from Kherson are ‘disinformation’. Zelensky maintains that Ukrainian intelligence assesses that Russia’s most experienced units remain on the western bank of the Dnieper, indicating that Russia is preparing to defend Kherson city over the short term at least.
- On 27 October, Ukrainian governor of Luhansk oblast Serhiy Haidai stated that Ukrainian forces continue to make slow advances towards Svatove-Kreminna. Beyond occasional statements by Haidai, Ukrainian information and reports remain limited along this axis, though Russian sources extensively report on Ukrainian counteroffensive operations. The Russian Ministry of Defence reported on 27 October that Ukrainian forces had attacked Chervonopopivka, 4 miles (7km) northwest of Kreminna along the R-66 highway, though various sources claim the attack was repulsed. This nevertheless suggests that Ukrainian forces have retaken some lost ground west of Kreminna to once again threaten the highway connecting Kreminna to Svatove in the north.
- Further south along the Bakhmut line, Russian sources claimed that their forces are now in control of Zaitseve, 5 miles (8km) southeast of Bakhmut town, though this cannot be confirmed given previous such claims in recent months. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian General Staff reported that their forces repelled several Russian ground assaults southwest of Avdiivka, with few other developments on the eastern front over the last 24 hours.
- On 27 October, the US State Department announced a new programme designed to prevent weapons supplied to Ukraine from falling into the hands of the Russian military or being sold on the black market to non-state actors. The US Plan to Counter Illicit Diversion of Certain Advanced Conventional Weapons in Eastern Europe will introduce new safeguards and ‘account for arms and munitions in Ukraine and neighbouring countries when they are transferred, stored and deployed’. Numerous safeguards had already been introduced to mitigate the threat of weapons proliferation across Ukraine and Eastern Europe, but this new measure will likely improve efforts to limit black market activity that could well supply advanced weaponry and equipment to extremist and organised crime groups.
- The US is furthermore preparing a new USD 275m package of military aid to Ukraine, which is likely to be formally announced in the coming days. This brings the total amount of US military aid since the 24 February invasion to USD 17.9 billion. The Biden administration remains committed to sustaining current levels of military and financial support to Kyiv, but the upcoming US midterm elections will be key to determining if these levels will continue over the winter, or whether a Republican-controlled House and Senate would seek to reduce this aid in 2023.
- The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has confirmed that it will this week carry out an ‘independent verification’ of Russian claims that Ukraine is preparing a dirty bomb attack. The IAEA’s visit comes at Kyiv’s request as a means of countering Russia’s baseless accusations (see Sibylline Daily Ukraine Update – 24 October for further details). A team of monitors will visit two unnamed sites in Ukraine to detect whether any undeclared nuclear processing is taking place that could provide radioactive material for a dirty bomb. In a related development, the United Nations Deputy High Representative for Disarmament Adedeji Ebo stated on 27 October that the UN is ‘not aware’ of any biological weapons programmes in Ukraine. The statement effectively rejected Russia’s appeal for the UN Security Council to investigate alleged US biological weapons programmes in Ukraine – for which there is no evidence.
- Following continual Russian strikes against Ukrainian energy infrastructure, in particular in Kyiv oblast, the Ukrainian energy agency Ukrenergo announced on 27 October that energy restrictions will have to increase even further. Following kamikaze drone attacks, Kyiv was reportedly left with a power shortage equivalent to ’30 percent of consumption’, according to the city administration. This led to the introduction of ‘severe’ and ‘unprecedented’ emergency power cuts in the capital overnight and today, 28 October. Power has been cut by some 40 percent in some areas, with Kyiv, Chernihiv, Cherkasy and Zhytomyr oblasts the worst impacted, as hundreds of thousands have been left without power for prolonged periods. Ukrenergo has confirmed this morning, 28 October, that rolling blackouts will continue to impact Kyiv oblast throughout the day.
- The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) claimed on 28 October that they have foiled a terrorist attack in Stavropol, allegedly orchestrated by ‘supporters of Ukrainian nationalists’. Four individuals have reportedly been arrested in the Predgorny district of Stavropol, where explosives, firearms and ‘literature on organising mass riots’ was found. This is the latest planned terror attack the FSB claim Ukrainian sympathisers or security services have attempted in recent weeks. The Predgorny district notably borders the Kabarino-Balkarian Republic, another North Caucasus region, both of which are currently under the ‘basic’ level of martial law readiness.
On 27 October, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a speech to the Valdai Club discussion forum in Moscow, during which he reiterated his long-standing argument that Ukraine is not a sovereign entity and railed against a perceived West-dominated hegemonic world order. While such claims remain par the course for a high-profile geopolitical speech by Putin, he also addressed the threat of nuclear escalation. Putin claimed that Moscow had never ‘intentionally said anything’ about using nuclear weapons, despite threatening to respond with the full extent of Russia’s arsenal to perceived Western nuclear threats (see Sibylline Daily Ukraine Update – 26 September). He also accused former UK Prime Minister Liz Truss of ‘engaging in nuclear blackmail’ against Russia, while stating the West is playing a ‘dangerous, bloody and dirty’ game in Ukraine.
US President Joe Biden responded to Putin’s claims with scepticism, questioning why he keeps talking about the issue if he has no intention of using nuclear weapons. However, as we have previously assessed, constantly raising the threat of nuclear escalation is likely to be a conscious strategy employed by the Kremlin, and it does not necessarily mean Moscow is preparing to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine at this stage. We will continue to monitor the situation and our key triggers, warnings and indicators (TWIs) for any change to the nuclear threat environment.
In Russia-related developments, on 19 October the U.S Treasury Department announced the imposition of sanctions against Yury Orekhov and his companies Nord-Deutsche Industrienalagenbau and Opus Energy Trading LLP. Orekhov has been identified as being responsible for the procurement of US-origin technologies for Russian end-users through his company Nord-Deutsche Industrienalagenbau and has consequently violated US export controls. The technologies being exported included advanced semiconductors and microprocessors that are often used in the production of fighter aircraft, smart munitions, and ballistic and hypersonic missile systems, and are regularly found in Russian weapons used in Ukraine. This latest action will continue to build on Western, particularly US, efforts to implement controls on Russia’s military-industrial complex and critical defence supply chains. Furthermore, the UK’s high court has allowed two British companies linked to the sanctioned Russian billionaire Petr Aven an opportunity to unfreeze bank accounts containing GBP 1.5 million. Aven was identified as a close link to Russian President Vladimir Putin by the EU and UK due to being director of Alfa-Bank. The National Crime Agency (NCA), which is responsible for sanctions enforcement, took action against the two bank accounts in question in May 2022, citing alleged sanctions breaches. Westminster Magistrates’ Court has now been asked to revisit a ruling that allowed access to the accounts for personal use and not the two companies that were initially targeted. The eventual ruling on this case will likely have a significant impact on the trajectory of sanctions enforcement in the UK, specifically the extent of enforcement and whether individuals should be permitted access to frozen assets for personal use. Meanwhile, on 10 October, the European Commission (EC) warned that further sanctions could be enacted against Belarus if the country proceeds with the proposed joint regional grouping of troops with Russia. More specifically, the commission has urged Minsk to immediately stop allowing Belarusian territory to be used as a launch pad for attacks against Ukraine. This follows claims by the country’s President Alexander Lukashenko that Ukraine is planning air strikes against Belarusian targets. It remains highly likely that any attempts by Minsk to proceed with the planned grouping of troops will be perceived by the EU as an escalatory action and will therefore elicit strong and more restrictive measures against the Belarusian regime. In further Russia-related sanction developments, on 26 October the US placed sanctions on nine individuals and 12 entities, aimed at countering Moscow’s ‘persistent malign influence campaigns and systemic corruption in Moldova’. The designated individuals and entities include former Moldovan government official Vladimir Plahotniuc and entrepreneur Igor Yurevich Chayka, as well as his enterprises which include OOO Aqua Solid, OOO Ekogrupp, and OOO Inovatsii Sveta. The sanctions will block property and material interests associated with the designated persons and entities while prohibiting all transactions by individuals on US territory or American citizens involving the designated individuals and entities. Despite the targeted sanctions, Moscow will maintain influence in Chisinau, including via Russian proxies, which remain likely to provoke domestic instability in the short term.
In Iran-related updates, on 10 October the UK government imposed sanctions on Iranian senior security and political figures, as well as the Gasht-e Ershad, or the so-called ‘Morality Police’, in its entirety. This comes in response to the Iranian government’s repression of widespread protests following the death of Mahsa Amini in Morality Police custody. The sanctions package includes Morality Police chief Mohammed Rostami Cheshmeh Gachi and the Head of the Tehran Division Haj Ahmed Mirzaei, as well as three other police officers, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and special forces officials. The UK government’s open condemnation of the Iranian government’s action and its imposition of sanctions likely contributed to Tehran’s decision on 19 October to sanction 16 British individuals and entities over their alleged ‘support of terrorism’ and ‘incitement of violence’ relating to the recent protests (see Sibylline Daily Analytical Update – 20 October 2022). The sanctions list includes British intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and Conservative Party politicians such as Stephen Crabb. The package stipulates a ban on issuing visas and the seizure of designated individuals’ property and assets in Iran, though are not likely to have a great impact on the activities of the individuals or entities in question, which are highly unlikely to hold significant commercial or personal interests in Iran.
Also relating to Iran, on 17 October the EU sanctioned 11 Iranian individuals and four entities over their contributions to the violent state-backed repression of Iran’s anti-government protest movement. This brings the EU’s total Iranian sanctions list to 97 individuals and eight entities. The recent designations include Iran’s Morality Police, Mohammed Rostami Cheshmeh Gachi and Haj Ahmed Mirzaei among others such as the Iranian Law Enforcement Forces and Iranian Minister of Information and Communications Technology, Issa Zarepour, over his responsibility in internet blackouts aimed at quelling protests. This will heighten tensions between Iran and the EU, with Iran having announced sanctions against eight EU-based organisations and 12 individuals on 26 October. The designated entities and individuals include the Friends of Free Iran European parliamentary group and state-owned radio broadcaster Radio France International, which the Iranian government alleges are ‘encouraging and inciting terrorism’ and ‘violence’. The sanctions stipulate visa bans and the seizure of property or assets located in Iran, however, are broadly consistent with the pre-existing high threat presented to the listed individuals and affiliates of the designated organisations by the Iranian authorities.
Separately, on 20 October, the UK government and the EU implemented new sanctions targeting Iranian individuals and businesses ‘responsible for supplying Russia with kamikaze drones used to bombard Ukraine’. The sanctions include three senior Iranian military figures, including the Chairman of the armed forces General Staff Major General Mohammed Hossein Bagheri, and Shahed Aviation Industries. The latter entity is responsible for the development of Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles, namely the Shahed 136 drone, allegedly supplied to Russia and assisting Moscow’s military operations in Ukraine (see Sibylline Daily Analytical Update – 18 October 2022). According to Western partners, the transfer of unmanned aerial vehicles also represents a violation of Resolution 2231 in the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known as the nuclear deal. The sanctions are unlikely to have significant material implications for UK or EU businesses, with Iran already under Western trade embargos relating to its nuclear programme. The move will, however, prevent sanctioned individuals from entering the territory of the sanctioning governments and freeze any financial assets held in their jurisdictions. Iran’s violation of the JCPOA and further sanctions, amid reports of planned upcoming drone and medium-range missile sales to Russia, will complicate ongoing attempts to renew the nuclear deal and consequently undermine Iran’s re-entrance into global markets in the coming months.
Furthermore, the US imposed new sanctions on 10 Iranian officials, including members of the IRGC, Iran’s intelligence agency on 26 October, over the Iranian government’s violent crackdown on protestors. The date marks the 40-day anniversary of the death of Mahsa Amini in morality police custody, the event which triggered widespread domestic unrest since September. The designated officials include Commander of the IRGC Mohammad Kazemi, Warden of Evin Prison Hedayat Farzadi and member of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security Seyed Mojtaba Mostafavi. The sanctions will block access to any property and material interests of the sanctioned individuals on US territory or in control of an individual in the US. The designations are highly unlikely to have significant material implications for US businesses. However, the move will further inflame US-Iran tensions and is likely to prompt retaliatory sanctions from Iran in the coming weeks.
In Northeast Asia, South Korea announced unilateral sanctions on 15 Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) officials and 16 organisations on 14 October. The sanctions, which represent South Korea’s first unilateral sanctions on North Korea in five years, come in response to the latter’s intensification of missile testing and military provocations in recent weeks and months (see Sibylline Situation Update Brief – 11 October 2022). The designated individuals work for two organisations previously sanctioned by the UN, the Korean Second Academy of National Sciences and Ryonbong Trading General Corp. Meanwhile, designated organisations include North Korea’s Department of Rocket Industry, Bureau of Crude Oil Industry, construction firm Korea General Corporation for External Construction and shipping company Korea Kumunsan Shipping Co. South Korean businesses wishing to trade with designated entities will require approval from South Korean authorities, including the chief of the Bank of Korea, hoped to support efforts to block illicit financial trading with the sanctioned entities.
Also relating to Pyongyang, on 18 October, Japan announced its decision to place additional sanctions on North Korea, following the country’s repeated ballistic missile testing towards the Sea of Japan since September. The sanctions include asset freezes of five organisations reportedly involved in North Korea’s nuclear and missile development programmes, including four trading firms such as Hapjanggang Trading Corporation and Sungnisan Trading Corporation, as well as North Korea’s Ministry of Rocket Industry. The move highlights solidarity between Japan and South Korea, as the UN has not sanctioned North Korea since 2018 as a result of vetoes by Moscow and Beijing. Meanwhile, the designations present a warning to businesses with regional or in-country activities that illicit trade will not be tolerated. However, the sanctions will further heighten regional tensions with Pyongyang, increasing the likelihood that North Korea will conduct a nuclear test in the coming weeks, for the first time since 2017.
- Over the last 24 hours, Russian forces have seemingly continued preparing their defences across Kherson oblast. Various Russian sources have reported that the Russians are digging in around and inside Kherson city and are building fortifications and ‘strongholds’ to defend the city in the event of a Ukrainian breakthrough. Notably, the Ukrainian Resistance Centre also reported on 26 October that Russian forces are fortifying Nova Kakhovka for urban fighting. If true, this would support earlier indications that Russia is at least preparing for the possibility of a Russian withdrawal across the Dnieper, given that Nova Kakhovka commands one of the only river crossing points and sits on the eastern bank of the river.
- Notably, the head of the Kherson occupation administration Vladimir Saldo stated on 26 October that he now thinks it would be ‘practically impossible’ to destroy the Nova Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant completely, despite his previous warnings that Ukraine was planning to do so. Saldo now claims that even if the dam locks at the plant were destroyed, this would only cause the water level to rise by less than two metres. Saldo’s statement may be an attempt to ease the panic across the region that a false-flag operation would cause catastrophic flooding across Kherson oblast, though given growing indications that Russian forces intend to defend Kherson in the short term at least, it remains to be seen whether such an attack would cover a Russian withdrawal.
- Intense fighting has also continued west of Kreminna in Luhansk oblast, though conflicting reports make it difficult to confirm the exact position of the frontline. Russian sources reported that Ukrainian forces launched numerous ground assaults towards Kuzemivka and Pishchane, 10 miles (16km) northwest and 19 miles (31km) south of Svatove respectively, though they were reportedly unsuccessful. Other sources claimed that Ukrainian forces have lost various positions along the eastern bank of the Zherebets River, west of Svatove and Kreminna – though this has not been confirmed. Geolocated footage has meanwhile indicated that Ukrainian forces have likely taken the town of Nevske, 13 miles (21km) northwest of Kreminna.
- Once again Russian forces have attacked positions along the north Kharkiv border with Russia, this time at Ternova, 21 miles (35km) northeast of Kharkiv city. As previously assessed, such attacks along this border are likely attempts by Russian forces to fix Ukrainian units in the region and prevent their redeployment to support counteroffensive operations in Luhansk oblast. It remains unlikely that Russian forces can retake lost territory in northern Kharkiv oblast at this time.
- The Ukrainian General Staff confirmed that on 26 October 18 Russian airstrikes took place across the country, including four missile strikes against Zaporizhzhia and Dnipropetrovsk oblast. Overnight on 27 October, numerous Shahed-136 drones flew into Kyiv oblast, but local air defences reportedly shot all of them down before they reached their targets. Meanwhile, occupation authorities in Crimea confirmed that the Balaklava thermal power plant near Sevastopol had been targeted overnight by a drone attack. Reports indicate the strike only damaged a transformer with no casualties and the plant remains operational. The attack is likely one of the first Ukrainian strikes in occupied Crimea for several weeks, and notably came after President Zelensky vowed ‘retribution’ on 25 October after Russian strikes hit energy infrastructure in Dnipro.
- On 26 October, Reuters published an investigation after a series of documents were discovered in an abandoned command post in the liberated town of Balakliya – the first major town to fall during Ukraine’s September Kharkiv counteroffensive. Various military documents have underlined the poor state of Russian forces in eastern Ukraine, with reports of highly degraded units with low morale, poor equipment and ineffective logistics performing poorly on the battlefield. According to these documents, one combat battalion was at just 19.6 percent strength, while another reserve unit was at 23 percent strength. This reinforces our assessments over recent months that Russian forces across Ukraine are highly degraded and are fighting understrength. It also indicates that the Russian military has been unable to get to grips with the institutional weaknesses in logistics and command and control that have resulted in their military failures on the battlefield. While President Putin’s newly established Co-ordination Council aims to tackle these issues, it remains unlikely that Russia is capable of serious military reforms in the short term – particularly as the Kremlin has seemingly doubled down on ‘quantity over quality’ following its partial mobilisation.
- In the latest indication that the Kremlin has no intention of ending the war, President Putin addressed a meeting of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) on 26 October, where he claimed Ukraine had lost its sovereignty and is being used as a ‘battering ram’ by NATO to attack Russia. The State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin also stated that Ukraine has become a ‘colony’ of the US and has been ‘occupied by NATO’, allegedly losing its ability to act as a sovereign state as a result. The narrative that Russia is effectively fighting a war with NATO has been steadily building in recent months.
- One of the principal reasons for Russia’s February invasion was precisely to prevent Ukraine’s drift westwards and avoid the placement of NATO weaponry on Russia’s doorstep. As has often been the case with Russia’s aggressive foreign policy, its war has achieved the exact opposite and has accelerated Ukraine’s integration into the Western-led system. However, despite the failure of Russia’s foreign policy so far, Putin’s statement supports our assessment that the Kremlin has no intention of entering serious negotiations to end the war. Putin and the wider Kremlin still see the potential for Russia to achieve its strategic objectives in Ukraine and are likely prepared to continue fighting well into 2023 in an attempt to achieve them. In the meantime, any ceasefire talks – which we nevertheless assess to be highly unlikely in the short term – would be used by Moscow to ease pressure on Russian forces and allow another attempt at fresh offensives in 2023.
- Notably, President Putin is expected to give a highly significant speech later today, 27 October, at a conference of the Valdai Club. The Kremlin has indicated that Putin will give a ‘voluminous’ speech under the conference’s topic: ‘A Post-Hegemonic World: Justice and Security for Everyone’. This suggests Putin will discuss NATO, the US and its role in the world at length, and potentially put forward his ideas for a multipolar world order.
- On 26 October, President Vladimir Putin oversaw Russia’s ‘Grom’ strategic nuclear deterrence exercises. The country’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu stated that the drills simulated a major nuclear strike in response to an enemy attack, involving ballistic and cruise missiles. The drills took place at the same time as a NATO nuclear forces exercise, with reports indicating that the US has now sped up delivery of upgraded B61-12 nuclear bombs to Europe amid growing deterrence efforts. The annual Grom exercises are routine and despite growing Western fears that Moscow is fabricating a pretext for escalation in the ongoing war against Ukraine, including the threat of a dirty bomb, the Grom drills do not in and of themselves represent a nuclear escalation. Nevertheless, we will continue monitoring Russian nuclear signalling to assess triggers, warnings and indicators that would warrant a change in the nuclear threat environment. Please see Sibylline Situation Update Brief – 25 October for further analysis.
On 26 October, senior Russian Foreign Ministry official Konstantin Vorontsoz, Deputy Director for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control, stated that Western satellites could become ‘legitimate targets’ for Russian ‘retaliatory strikes’ if they are used to support Ukraine in the war. Vorontsov made the comments during a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, describing unspecified Western satellites as ‘quasi-civilian infrastructure’ given their potential military application in Ukraine. Notably, Vorontsov described the use of ‘commercial’ satellites to support operations in an ‘armed conflict’ as a ‘dangerous trend’; a potential allusion to various private sector satellite systems the Ukrainian Armed Forces have been utilising. For example, Ukraine remains highly reliant upon SpaceX’s Starlink satellite communication system for resilient internet access. Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov also highlighted in September the role satellites operated by the Finnish microsatellite producer ICEYE have played in supporting Ukrainian military operations, including target acquisition. Ukraine has utilised and accessed datasets created by numerous commercial satellites to support reconnaissance and strike operations, particularly satellites using synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) to identify hidden enemy targets – which is especially effective during the Autumn and Winter. This is the first time a senior Russian official has expressly stated satellite infrastructure could be legitimate targets – though we do not anticipate that this statement alone indicates that an attack against satellites is imminent. It should be noted that Moscow had previously designated Western weapons depots and shipments in Poland as ‘legitimate targets’ earlier in the war, and they have not attempted to strike them so far. Nevertheless, Moscow has various anti-satellite (ASAT) capabilities that mean the threat should be taken seriously. On 15 November 2021, Russia conducted a direct-ascent anti-satellite (DA-ASAT) weapon test, destroying one of its defunct low-earth satellites with an A-235 PL-19 Nudol missile. While the test showed Russian capability to target and destroy satellites in orbit, more concerningly the test created a large amount of uncontrollable debris. As opposed to non-kinetic ASAT strikes, which aim at disabling a satellite with electronic or laser interference, Russia’s use of destructive ASAT technology means that such debris is set to pose a severe hazard to low-earth orbit operations for the foreseeable future. This has raised serious concerns around destructive ASAT tests triggering Kessler syndrome – a high-impact scenario where space debris triggers a cascade of collisions that would effectively destroy Earth’s low-orbit operating environment for generations to come. Ultimately, Vorontsov’s statement is highly likely to form part of Russia’s strategic deterrence campaign that we have been assessing in recent weeks, rather than posing an imminent threat to Western satellite assets. This campaign aims at deterring growing NATO and US involvement in Ukraine by illustrating or hinting at Moscow’s capability to escalate outside the borders of Ukraine. Putin’s speech at the CIS yesterday (see above) only reinforces this assessment and illustrates that deterring further NATO involvement in Ukraine is central to Moscow’s strategy in Ukraine. As such, Vorontsov’s statement is likely an attempt to illustrate further escalation options available to the Kremlin, while highlighting the vulnerability of another area of Western critical infrastructure. However, unlike other grey zone operations, such as those likely conducted in the Baltic Sea, the origins of a destructive ASAT strike would be very difficult to hide. Therefore, such a strike is unlikely to serve Russia’s deterrence efforts at this stage – though non-kinetic ASAT capabilities could be utilised with a much greater degree of plausible deniability. Earlier in the war, Yury Borisov, Russian deputy prime minister for military development, claimed that a laser system known as Peresvet is now widely deployed by the Russian Armed Forces. He claimed that Peresvet can blind satellites in orbit. However, the capability of such Russian strategic laser weapons remains largely unknown and untested.
Russia: Routine nuclear deterrence drills do not represent escalation, though tensions remain high. On 26 October, Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, oversaw the annual ‘Grom’ strategic nuclear deterrence exercises. The Russian defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, stated that the drills simulated a major nuclear strike involving ballistic and cruise missiles in response to an enemy attack. The drills took place at the same time as NATO’s annual nuclear forces exercise, with reports indicating that the US has accelerated the delivery of upgraded B61-12 nuclear bombs to Europe amid growing deterrence initiatives. The Grom exercises are routine; despite growing fears that Moscow is fabricating a pretext for escalation in the ongoing war against Ukraine, the drills do not in and of themselves represent nuclear escalation. Nevertheless, we will continue to monitor Russian nuclear signalling to assess the triggers, warnings and indicators that may warrant a change in the threat environment. Please see Sibylline Situation Update Brief – 25 October for further analysis.
- Earlier on 26 October, Ukraine’s defence minister, Oleksiy Reznikov, stated that weather conditions (particularly heavy rain) have slowed the southern Ukrainian counter-offensive. However, he reported that operations continue at a steady pace. Notably, Reznikov also stated that he does not believe Russia will ‘risk’ urban street fighting in Kherson city given that Ukraine has fire control over all the bridges crossing the Dnieper river, which could prevent an orderly Russian withdrawal across the waterway. This supports our assessment that the Ukrainian strategy in Kherson oblast is to make Russia’s position on the western bank of the Dnieper untenable, forcing a Russian withdrawal rather than launching a direct ground assault against Kherson city. However, various signs point to Russian forces preparing the city’s defences, including the establishment of territorial defence units. Indeed, the senior adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky, Oleksiy Arestovych, stated on 26 October that the Russians are digging in for the ‘heaviest battles’ in Kherson city itself. Arestovych stated that Kyiv now sees no signs of Russian forces preparing to abandon the city wholesale. It therefore remains to be seen whether Russian forces intend to hold the city for as long as possible in order to force the Ukrainians into attacking a heavily defended urban environment, something the Ukrainians have not attempted in eight months of war.
- Nevertheless, the deputy head of the Russian Kherson occupation authority, Kirill Stremousov, confirmed on 25 October that around 22,000 residents in Kherson have been ‘evacuated’ across the river as part of a ‘resettlement programme’ of almost 60,000 people. Stremousov’s statement suggests this ‘resettlement programme’ is possibly permanent. This would indicate that Moscow is likely to cede the city at some point in the future. Additionally, the Ukrainian General Staff reported on 25 October that Russian forces are preparing defensive positions along the eastern bank of the Dnieper river, and are also mining the coast near Hornostaivka, located 23 miles (37km) north-east of Nova Kakhovka. This once again indicates contingency planning for a withdrawal across the river, at the very least.
- Regarding the war’s two other active fronts (the Oskil-Kreminna and Bakhmut lines), developments over the last 24-48 hours have remained broadly in line with activities in recent weeks. Various Russian sources claim that their forces repelled several Ukrainian ground attacks west of Svatove, as well as a direct Ukrainian assault against Kreminna itself. This cannot be confirmed at this time. Furthermore, the Ukrainian governor of Luhansk oblast, Serhiy Haidai, reported on 25 October that Russian forces have mined the banks of the Krasna river, which runs north to south just west of Svatove. This is the next likely major Russian fallback line if Ukrainian counter-offensives succeed in pressing Russian forces to withdraw towards more defensible ground in Luhansk oblast.
- On 25 October, the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) People’s Militia formally announced that the ‘battle for Avdiivka is in full swing’ and that they intend to encircle the town. Russian, DNR and Wagner forces have increased the intensity of their operations around Avdiivka in recent weeks, a heavily contested area located just five miles (7km) north of Donetsk city and the pre-24 February line of contact. Despite expending significant resources on this front since the beginning of the war, Russian forces have made very little progress. As a result, it is unlikely that Avdiivka will be taken in the short term, though Russia has in recent weeks claimed some incremental progress to the south of the town. This cannot be confirmed at this time.
- A report published by Foreign Policy indicates that Russia is actively trying to recruit members of the US- and UK-trained National Army Commando Corps of Afghanistan. According to contacts inside the corps, members have received offers to fight for the Russian military in Ukraine. Around 20-30,000 commandos remained in Afghanistan following the NATO withdrawal in 2021, with many facing little prospect of resettlement in the UK or US. These highly trained commandos, many of whom are hiding from the Taliban authorities, are a logical target for Russian and Wagner Group recruitment efforts. They likely illustrate Russia’s continued efforts to attract experienced soldiers to support its operations in Ukraine.
- On 25 October, Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, held the first meeting of Russia’s new Co-ordination Council. Putin established the council on 20 October to strengthen co-ordination between the federal and regional executive branches in order to support Russia’s war effort. During the meeting, Putin ordered decision-making and the manufacturing of military equipment to be accelerated, with Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin also stating the need to increase production of clothing and protective equipment. Extensive evidence has emerged in recent months indicating that newly mobilised units are being provided with very little equipment. Furthermore, this kit is often of extremely poor quality (not military grade) and provides little-to-no protection for soldiers on the frontline.
- Logistics have consistently been one of Russia’s biggest weaknesses throughout the war. While the newly established Co-ordination Council aims to address this issue, it remains to be seen whether major reform will be possible given the extent of institutionalised corruption, poor leadership, inefficient bureaucracy and limited domestic production capacity amid international sanctions. Nevertheless, the establishment of the Co-ordination Council clearly indicates that the Kremlin is attempting to overcome these issues eight months into the war. This strongly suggests that Moscow intends to continue fighting in the medium term and well into 2023.
- The intensity of Russian long-range strikes continues to ease, with strikes in the past 24 hours typically concentrated against settlements located near the frontline. Nevertheless, at least two people were killed during a missile attack against Dnipro overnight after a petrol station caught fire.
- Notably, prominent pro-war figures in Russia have criticised the diminishing scale of Moscow’s missile campaign. On 25 October, the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov complained that Russia’s response to Ukrainian strikes against ‘Russian territory’ has been ‘weak’, calling for a much wider campaign to destroy Ukrainian cities. Kadyrov also stated that Russia is fighting a full-scale war with Ukraine, rather than a ‘special military operation’, as fighting is now taking place on ‘Russian territory’ (i.e. the recently annexed oblasts). Kadyrov also stated that the war in Ukraine is nothing short of ‘jihad’ against Ukrainian fanatics.
- Assistant Secretary to the Russian Security Council Alexei Pavlov also stated on 25 October that the ultimate goal of the war in Ukraine should be the ‘complete de-Satanisation’ of the country, claiming that fanatics in Ukraine are abandoning traditional values upheld by the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as Judaism and Islam. While the Russian Orthodox Church has played an important role in justifying the war in Ukraine, the appeal to wider religious values and the invocation of jihad by Kadyrov are likely attempts to ease growing ethno-religious tensions within the Russian military and boost support for the war by appealing to traditional religious constituents.
- Earlier on 26 October, the UK’s Defence Intelligence (DI) reported that the Russian anti-war group Stop the Wagons (Ostanovi Vagony) claimed responsibility for an attack along a stretch of railway near the village of Novozybkovo (Belgorod oblast, Russia). An explosive device damaged a section of railway located roughly nine miles (15km) from the Russian-Belarusian border on 24 October. It was the sixth act of sabotage for which the group has claimed responsibility since June. Russia’s military remains highly reliant upon railway infrastructure to resupply its forces. While isolated incidents of sabotage are unlikely to seriously threaten Russia’s logistics, they will undermine Russian redeployments. They also illustrate that a small number of individuals in Russia remain determined to oppose the war effort through direct kinetic action.
On 25 October, Russia formally notified the US that it plans to carry out its annual GROM (‘Thunder’) nuclear exercises, which are traditionally held in late October. Under the New START Treaty, Russia is obliged to give advance notice of nuclear drills. While the exercises will be closely scrutinised amid an uptick in nuclear rhetoric, they form part of the regular strategic exercises held by Russia each year. As such, they do not indicate an imminent nuclear escalation or a significant change in the current escalation risk environment. Tests of nuclear and strategic systems are nevertheless highly likely in the coming week, with the potential testing of new strategic systems such as the Poseidon nuclear-capable unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV). The US president, Joe Biden, once again warned Moscow on 25 October against using tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine amid Russia’s accusation that Kyiv is preparing to detonate a ‘dirty bomb’. Ukraine’s atomic energy agency, Energoatom, stated on 25 October that Russian forces have been carrying out ‘unauthorised construction work’ at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP), which the agency states could constitute preparations for a false-flag dirty bomb operation. Russia has consistently claimed Ukrainian forces and saboteurs have been trying to gain entry to the ZNPP in recent weeks, despite providing no supporting evidence. The ZNPP remains a possible location for a false-flag dirty bomb operation given the availability of radioactive material at the plant, as well as Russian claims that Ukrainian forces have attempted ‘terrorist action’ against the Kursk Nuclear Power Plant in Russia. A small dirty bomb attack at the plant could feasibly be tightly controlled by Russian forces. The release of a very small amount of radiation, if controlled, would pose a limited threat to Russian forces and civilians in the region. However, given the presence of six large nuclear reactors, such an attack could achieve an outsized psychological impact given fears over a nuclear meltdown or Russian ‘nuclear retaliation’. As such, an attack of this kind would play into Russia’s apparent ‘escalate to de-escalate strategy’, as well as its apparent attempts to raise fears of nuclear escalation in order to split NATO and undermine support for Kyiv in the mid to long term. For further analysis of dirty bombs, see Sibylline Daily Ukraine Update – 24 October.
Russia: Threat of arbitrary detention of Western citizens remains high amid the Kremlin’s attempts to pressure Ukrainian allies. On 25 October, a Russian court rejected an appeal by US basketball player Britney Griner, who was handed a nine-year sentence for drugs-related charges in August 2022. Griner was arrested after security officers at Moscow airport reportedly found vape cartridges with a small amount of cannabis oil in her luggage. The White House has dismissed Griner’s sentence as a ‘sham judicial procedure’, having previously offered to exchange Griner for a detained Russian arms trafficker. The rejection of Griner’s appeal comes amid heightened tensions between Washington and Moscow over the war in Ukraine, with the issue highly likely being used by Moscow as leverage. As such, the threat of arbitrary detention and conviction for any Western travellers, particularly US citizens, will remain high.
- Russian forces are seemingly preparing the defences of Kherson in anticipation of further Russian withdrawals and/or Ukrainian counteroffensives towards the city in the coming days and weeks. Russian sources have claimed occupation authorities have established territorial defence units made up of Kherson residents, with the Ukrainian General Staff also reporting that most inmates in Kherson prison have been released, and are likely to be folded into said defence units. Such developments would support earlier assessments provided by Ukrainian intelligence that a decision to abandon the western bank of the Dnieper has not necessarily been made and that Russian forces could yet attempt to hold the city for as long as possible.
- Notably, the head of Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Kyrylo Budanov stated that as of 24 October, Russian forces had not yet placed enough explosives inside the Nova Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant to destroy the dam. Ukrainian intelligence as well as President Zelensky have warned of the growing possibility of a Russian false-flag operation to blow the dam to cover their withdrawal from the west bank of the Dnieper. Russia has similarly accused Ukraine of preparing to destroy the dam.
- Various Russian sources, including official sources at the Russian Ministry of Defence and deputy head of Kherson occupation authority Kirill Stremousov, have claimed Russian forces repelled several Ukrainian ground assaults across the full breadth of the Kherson frontline. We cannot confirm this at present.
- In eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian forces have seemingly launched a series of counteroffensive operations along the Oskil-Kreminna line over the last 24-48 hours, with fighting particularly intense along the Zherebets River. The Russian Ministry of Defence claimed on 24 October that Russian forces repelled a Ukrainian assault in the direction of Chervonopopivka, 5 miles (9km) north of Kreminna along the R-66 highway. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian General Staff has claimed that their forces liberated the villages of Karmazynivka, Miasozharivka and Nevske, all settlements on the eastern bank of the Zherebets River inside Luhansk oblast and to the west of Svatove. Ukrainian forces have also reportedly liberated Novosadove, just south of the Luhansk-Donetsk border 12 miles (19km) northwest of Kreminna, representing some moderate progress after a steady slowing of operations in recent weeks. Further small-scale Russian attacks have also taken place further north, along the Russian-Ukrainian border northeast of Kharkiv city – though the Ukrainian General Staff maintains that their forces have successfully repulsed what are most likely limited probing attacks that do not aim to take any ground.
- Long-range strikes notably decreased in number and intensity over the course of 24 October, with the Ukrainian General Staff reporting only 2 missile and 28 air strikes. The General Staff also claimed Ukrainian air defences shot down 16 Shahed-136 drones. However, at time of writing on the morning of 25 October, air raids sounded in Kyiv oblast, where Russian forces have reportedly launched at least 10 Shahed-136s. Nevertheless, Budanov did claim yesterday that the impact of Russian strikes against Ukrainian infrastructure is decreasing as stocks of cruise missiles continue to diminish. He claimed on 24 October that Russian forces only have 13 percent of their pre-war Iskander ballistic missile stocks, 43 percent of Kalibr cruise missile stocks, and 45 percent of Kh-101 and Kh-555 cruise missiles. Increasing reliance upon cheap kamikaze drones will nevertheless allow Russia to sustain deep strike capabilities across Ukraine for the foreseeable future, despite high Ukrainian interdiction rates.
- In a related development, the US is reportedly considering providing Ukraine with older Vietnam-era HAWK air defence systems. According to unnamed US sources cited by Reuters, the White House will likely use the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA) to transfer HAWK stocks from US storage without the need for congressional approval. HAWK systems would be a notable upgrade from the short-range Stinger air defence systems Washington has already provided, boosting Ukraine’s capability to interdict cruise missiles and drones – though Kyiv will continue to lobby for the HAWK’s modern successor, the Patriot system, to counter Russia’s long-range and deep-strike capabilities.
- German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on 25 October called for a ‘new Marshall plan’ to help Ukraine rebuild after the war ends, whenever that might be. The chancellor’s statement comes as German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier visits Kyiv today for the first time since the 24 February invasion. Scholz also notably pledged to continue sending military aid to Ukraine, particularly air defences which Ukraine ‘urgently needs now’. Germany has notably sent numerous Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft guns to Ukraine, which have proven particularly effective against low-altitude and slow-flying kamikaze drones, such as the Iranian Shahed-136.
- Germany and the wider European Union remain key financial backers of Ukraine at present, whose government is almost entirely reliant upon external funding to ensure basic balance of payments and the continuation of the war effort. Just today, 25 October, the Ukrainian government published new economic forecasts that predict Ukraine’s national debt will reach 106 percent of GDP next year, almost double what it was a year ago. As such, the continuation of external financing will remain vital to continuing the war effort into 2023. Underscoring this growing importance and reliance, President Zelensky on 25 October called on his international backers to create a ‘financial Ramstein’ format to support Ukraine financially – a reference to the Ramstein format chaired by the US that coordinates international military aid to Ukraine.
- Xenophobic and genocidal narratives are increasingly entering the mainstream media environment inside Russia. On 23 October, a host on the state-controlled RT network Anton Krasovsky was suspended after openly calling for Ukrainian children who viewed Soviet Russian forces as occupiers to be burnt or drowned. While RT has distanced itself from Krasovsky’s statements, such narratives are steadily becoming more common in Russian media. This morning, 25 October, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov openly called for the destruction of Ukrainian cities in response to Ukrainian counteroffensives, and he had previously called for the use of low-yield nuclear weapons against Ukraine. Elsewhere, footage emerged on Russian social media on 24 October of a Russian officer beating a Muslim soldier allegedly for praying, though various Russian sources refuted the authenticity of the video. Ethno-religious tensions remain an enduring issue within the multi-ethnic and multi-religious Russian Armed Forces, which xenophobic narratives on state media are only likely to exacerbate.
- On 24 October, the independent Russian media firm Mediazone published a statistical analysis of marriage registrations across Russia to extrapolate the estimated number of men mobilised following President Putin’s ‘partial mobilisation’ decree of 21 September. Under Russian law, drafted Russian men can apply for expedited marriages within a single day, and there was a sharp increase in the number of registered marriages following the mobilisation decree. According to Mediazone’s assessment, the data suggests around 492,000 men have likely been conscripted into the army since 21 September – with eastern Russia being the most impacted, and Moscow the least in terms of numbers of conscripts.
Following Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu’s allegations that Ukraine is planning a dirty bomb attack, Russia’s chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) forces were put on higher alert on 24 October. The head of Russia’s Radiation, Chemical and Biological Protection Forces Lieutenant General Igor Kirillov gave a televised address on 24 October, where he claimed that Kyiv is entering the final stages of planning a dirty bomb false-flag attack. However, he provided no further details on when or where the alleged attack would happen. Kirillov notably conflated the terms ‘dirty bomb’ with ‘low-yield nuclear weapon’, alleging that Kyiv intends to use a dirty bomb to claim Russia detonated a low-yield nuclear device that went wrong.
Russian diplomats also formally brought their accusations to the United Nations Security Council late on 24 October in a clear attempt to reinforce the narrative that the situation in Ukraine could escalate further. It should be noted, however, that senior unnamed US military officials reiterated on 24 October that the US has seen no indications that the Russians have decided to employ nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. This aligns with our assessment that recent Russian claims of a dirty bomb are most likely aimed at instilling panic and undermining Western unity. However, it appears that this strategy could well be bearing some limited fruit as fears of a slide towards ‘uncontrolled escalation’, to use Shoigu’s phrase, grows in the West. Yesterday, 24 October, 30 liberal Democrat members of the US Congress appealed to President Joe Biden for a change in strategy and a diplomatic push to reach a negotiated settlement with Russia. This is something that Kyiv is highly likely to strongly oppose given the need for concessions if any serious negotiations were to take place; recent opinion polling data has consistently shown that an overwhelming majority of Ukrainians are opposed to negotiations with Russia at present.
The upcoming mid-term elections in the US on 8 November will be a key event to watch in this respect. House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy has previously warned that Biden will not receive a ‘blank cheque’ for military aid to Ukraine if they take control of the House, raising concerns in Kyiv around the shape of long-term US military support. While US military aid to Ukraine is highly unlikely to cease entirely if the Republicans do take control of the House, it could well decrease in the coming months amid wider debates around how the war in Ukraine will end and the US’s role in bringing it to an end. However, such debates are not just impacting the politics of the US, but also that of other frontline NATO allies. On 24 October, Romanian Defence Minister Vasile Dincu resigned after facing severe criticism for stating that Ukraine’s only chance to end the war was to negotiate with Moscow. Dincu’s comments garnered strong criticism from President Klaus Iohannis and Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca, illustrating that a growing pro-negotiation constituency within NATO is facing significant resistance. While NATO’s commitment to Ukraine remains firm in the short- to medium-term, the psychological impact of Russia’s escalate to de-escalate strategy, including its allegations of a dirty bomb, will likely aim to steadily erode NATO unity and split the alliance over the winter. It remains to be seen how successful this Russian strategy will prove over the long term, but given German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s reaffirmed commitments to Ukraine today (see above), robust NATO financial and military support for Ukraine is highly likely to continue well into 2023.
- Nuclear rhetoric and threats of escalation have increased in recent months as Russian forces continue to suffer battlefield defeats in Ukraine. These military setbacks are narrowing the options available to the Kremlin in the run-up to winter. As a result, Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, now seems to favour an ‘escalate to de-escalate’ strategy, raising the spectre of nuclear terrorism, radiological ‘dirty bombs’ and low-yield nuclear weapon use in Ukraine.
- Nuclear bombs are weapons of terror which, given their escalatory nature, the Kremlin does not want to use if it does not need to. Moscow will not use nuclear weapons in anger if it can achieve its strategic objectives by waging a sophisticated psychological warfare campaign to spread fear. It is likely that claims by Russia’s defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, that Kyiv is preparing to detonate a ‘dirty bomb’ reflect this strategy. This psychological warfare campaign is likely aimed at ratcheting up fear of nuclear and radiological war in an escalating game of nuclear brinkmanship; it does not necessarily mean Moscow will follow through with its implied nuclear threats.
- The Kremlin is nevertheless pushing the narrative that the war in Ukraine is headed towards ‘uncontrolled escalation’. We maintain that nuclear weapon use remains unlikely in the short term. Russia’s military and political situation would likely need to deteriorate much further before the Kremlin would seriously countenance nuclear escalation. However, there are various scenarios and trigger points which could lead to this situation. In this report, we assess those potential scenarios, outlining a series of triggers, warnings and indicators (TWIs), as well as assessing the impact of nuclear release in Ukraine. We also discuss various mitigation measures to consider when conducting business continuity planning.
Following Ukraine’s Kharkiv counter-offensive in September, Russia has leant more heavily towards escalatory and nuclear rhetoric amid the continued deterioration of its conventional strength in Ukraine. The prospect of low-yield (‘tactical’) nuclear weapon use in Ukraine is increasing as the Kremlin doubles down on its ‘escalate to de-escalate’ strategy. However, we continue to assess that the use of these weapons is unlikely in the short term. Nevertheless, there are various triggers which could precipitate an escalation towards nuclear or radiological use in Ukraine (see below). We also provide an assessment of potential targets for such weapons, the physical impact of various types of nuclear blast and mitigation measures to consider when working on business continuity planning.
- Pro-Russia cyber campaigns maintained pace during this monitoring period, with continued attacks taking place against the Ukrainian government’s cyber infrastructure. Evidence suggests that continued ransomware attacks originating in Russia are normally more politically driven as opposed to financially driven. Although pro-Russia hacktivists continue to prefer employing distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, as demonstrated by the Russian hacktivist group Killnet’s DDoS attack against Bulgaria last week, the rudimentary nature of these attacks limits these groups’ ability to cause long-term disruption. Nonetheless, activity during this monitoring period has underscored the pledge by pro-Russia hacktivist groups to support the Russian government in its invasion of Ukraine by carrying out low-level malicious cyber attacks against Western states engaged in activities against Moscow.
- Meanwhile, cyber operations launched by pro-Ukraine hacking groups, such as the IT Army of Ukraine and the National Republican Army (NRA), have focused their attention on targeting Russian federal bodies and government-affiliated firms, including in the technology sector. However, there has been a notable decline in pro-Ukraine operations by the Anonymous hacktivist collective, which has turned its attention towards the Iranian government amid sustained protests. Although pro-Ukraine campaigns are likely to resume in the coming weeks, hacktivists’ efforts will continue to be split between Russian and Iranian targets.
Pro-Russia politically motivated cyber campaigns continue to target Ukrainian cyber infrastructure
- On 21 October, the Computer Emergency Response Team of Ukraine (CERT-UA) issued an alert concerning a potential Cuba Ransomware affiliate targeting Ukrainian government agencies and critical networks. CERT-UA observed a new wave of phishing emails encouraging recipients to click on an embedded link by impersonating the Press Service of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. After clicking on the embedded link, users are reportedly urged to download an executable file resembling an Acrobat Reader installer. However, clicking on the link will initiate the download and instalment of Cuba Ransomware’s signature malware ‘ROMCOM RAT’. While Cuba Ransomware has not declared allegiance to either side in the Russia-Ukraine war, this phishing attempt, while unsuccessful, is aligned with Russian interests.
- Speculation is mounting over whether NATO was the intended target of DDoS attacks carried out last week against the Bulgarian government by Killnet (see Sibylline Weekly Ukraine Cyber Update-19 October 2022). The compromise of Bulgaria’s systems would likely enable Russian cyber attackers to access NATO’s networks, to which Sofia’s systems are connected. If true, this development further underscores the pledge by pro-Russia hacktivist groups to support the Russian government in its invasion of Ukraine by targeting Western states engaged in activities against Moscow.
- On 19 October, Digital Shadows published its quarterly report on the global state of ransomware activity. It reported an overall decline in the level of ransomware attacks originating in Russia. The decline is partly attributed to the reported co-opting of Russian criminal gangs into Moscow’s war effort, which has diverted these actors from their customary activities. These criminals will instead focus on targets with a greater combat payoff. In particular, the ‘Conti’ ransomware group, which previously conducted financially motivated attacks against Ukraine’s hospitality sector, has ostensibly been targeting government entities in a more politically motivated fashion since the beginning of the war.
Pro-Ukraine groups continue to target Russia-based organisations supporting Moscow’s war efforts
- On 19 October, the IT Army of Ukraine, a pro-Kyiv hacking group with alleged links to the Ukrainian government, announced the launch of cyber attacks (dubbed ‘technical work’) against the ‘online services of [Russia’s] Federal Tax Service’. On 22 October, the group posted photos reportedly showing evidence of ongoing disruption to online services linked to the Federal Tax Service. It claimed that the agency was unable to repel the attack for three consecutive days. Alleged evidence of disruption was also provided on 20 October, including references to comments by Russian taxpayers and responses by the Federal Tax Service. However, the pro-Kyiv threat actor has refrained from providing additional details of this incident.
- On 17 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 cyber attack against several major Russian technology firms providing national security services to the Kremlin. The targets include Russian IT company Technoserv, the country’s largest systems integrator, which enjoys close ties with Russia’s banking and defence sectors. The hackers allegedly provided evidence of the breach to Kyiv Post, including files, documents and photos sourced from internal company servers. This evidence allegedly includes documents proving the existence of a relationship between Technoserv and Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), as well as information about Russia’s national security infrastructure. The NRA claims to have accessed over 1.2 TB of company server data containing personal employee information (such as passport details, phone numbers and addresses), as well as details of client contracts.
The cyber threat to European and other Western nation-states supporting Ukraine against Russia (particularly NATO members) remains as per the previous monitoring period. Pro-Russia cyber actors are likely to target the cyber infrastructure of government agencies and/or energy firms. Russian hacktivist groups will continue to operate in support of the Russian government, specifically through the execution of low-level malicious cyber attacks. DDoS attacks are likely to remain the most frequently employed attack.
Cyber actors’ growing utilisation of this attack vector was highlighted by DDoS attacks launched against Bulgarian government agencies’ websites last week. These agencies are the latest in a series of Western government bodies to be targeted by pro-Russia hacktivist groups. While these unsophisticated cyber attacks will likely only cause temporary disruption (lasting from a few hours to several days), there is a realistic possibility that the attackers’ ultimate target is NATO cyber infrastructure which, if compromised, would potentially afford malign Russian cyber actors access to NATO’s networks. All Western (and particularly NATO) countries will remain exposed to pro-Russia DDoS attacks in the coming months.
Pro-Russia cyber attacks are most likely to occur after Western governments make public announcements in support of Ukraine. These announcements could pertain to military or financial support, as well as sanctions against Russia. Government agencies and critical infrastructure operators in the telecommunications, energy and technology sectors will be the most vulnerable to any such cyber attacks. During the past week, we observed a decline in cyber attacks and campaigns by pro-Ukraine groups such as the Anonymous collective. This hacktivist group has broadly focused its attention on ‘Operation Iran’ amid ongoing mass protests and reports of severe human rights violations by the Iranian government. The Anonymous collective is likely to resume pro-Ukraine campaigns in the coming weeks. However, hacktivist efforts will continue to be split between Russia and Iran. However, groups like the IT Army of Ukraine which focus specifically on targeting the Russian government, as well as affiliated organisations and private sector firms, will continue to launch cyber campaigns against the aforementioned entities, spurred on by Ukrainian victories in Kherson and Kharkiv oblasts. Other triggers which are likely to prompt an intensification of pro-Ukraine hacktivism include Russian military strikes against Ukrainian and Western infrastructure, further Ukrainian battlefield victories and deteriorating domestic stability inside Russia as a result of additional battlefield defeats.
Ukraine: New ransomware attacks will add stress on critical infrastructure amid Russian strikes, On 24 October, the Computer Emergency Response Team of Ukraine (CERT-UA) issued an alert warning of possible attacks on the country’s critical infrastructure by affiliates of the Cuba ransomware group. The Ukrainian government’s cyber security agency disclosed that it had detected a wave of phishing emails pretending to be sent by the press office of the Ukrainian military, asking recipients to click on an embedded link. The link would lead visitors to a fake alert urging them to download an update for the PDF reader; the file contains Cuba group’s signature malware, ‘ROMCOM RAT’, which allows the hackers to control the victims’ systems and steal or encrypt data. The criminal ransomware group is known for conducting double extortion attacks against European and US entities, including critical infrastructure operators (see Cyber Daily Analytical Update – 6 December 2021). The group is not known for engaging in politically motivated hacktivism. The latest attacks are therefore likely to be financially driven. Nonetheless, the targeting of Ukrainian critical infrastructure could compound the impact of the recent Russian missile and drone strikes on the country’s power and energy operators.
- Russian forces have likely begun to withdraw at least partly from the western bank of the Dnieper river in Kherson oblast. On 22 October, the Russian occupation authorities ordered that all citizens in Kherson must immediately leave the city, with Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command stating that the Russians are now ‘quite actively’ transferring equipment, ammunition and various units across the river. Also on 22 October, internet access in Kherson city was cut in a likely attempt to limit information flows out of the city amid a wider withdrawal. The Russians have also finished constructing a new barge bridge across the Dnieper near the Antonivsky Bridge. This will likely remain a key artery for any future military withdrawals across the river; as such, it constitutes a key target for Ukrainian artillery. Elsewhere, there have been no more confirmed developments around the Nova Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant, though the Ukrainians maintain that Russia is actively preparing for a false-flag operation to destroy the dam to cover their withdrawal (see Sibylline Daily Ukraine Update – 21 October).
- However, the head of Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR), Kyrylo Budanov, stated earlier on 24 October that Russian forces are actually preparing to defend Kherson city, and are only creating the illusion of a mass withdrawal. Budanov maintains that Russian forces are in fact bringing up freshly mobilised military units to prepare for the defence of the city. As such, Budanov claims that a decision to abandon Kherson has not necessarily been made, and that Russia’s commander Sergei Surovikin is likely preparing contingencies to soften the blow if Russian forces are indeed forced to retreat across the river. It therefore remains unclear how long Russian forces intend to continue fighting on the western bank of the Dnieper. It also remains to be seen whether this weekend’s developments represent the beginning of a fighting withdrawal or the consolidation of Russian lines with the aim of persevering if the military situation allows.
- Nevertheless, it is clear that Russian forces are withdrawing from certain positions along the Kherson front. On 22 October, the Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces withdrew from Charivne and Chkalove, located roughly 18 miles (29km) north of Nova Kakhovka near the T-2207 highway that runs from Davydiv Brid to Nova Kakhovka. Going forward, the severing of internet access in Kherson and the Ukrainians’ continued information blackout along the front will obscure the picture on the ground, making it difficult to confirm the situation as it evolves.
- Elsewhere in Ukraine, the military situation remains broadly stable and in line with activity in recent weeks. Russian and Ukrainian forces continue to fight west of Kreminna along the Luhansk-Donetsk oblast border. Various Russian sources claimed over the weekend that their forces had repelled a number of Ukrainian attacks both to the north and west of Kreminna, including attacks attempting to break through to the R-66 highway that connects Kreminna to Svatove, located roughly 25 miles (39km) to the north. However, this front remains heavily contested, with conflicting reports from both sides making it difficult to confirm zones of control. However, it remains likely that Ukrainian ‘spoiling’ attacks and reconnaissance units are exploiting gaps in Russian lines around Terny and Novosadove, located around 12 miles (19km) north-west of Kreminna.
- Further to the north along the Kharkiv-Luhansk oblast border east of the Oskil river, the situation remains broadly stable, with few confirmed developments. Similarly, Russian forces continued to claim incremental progress along the Bakhmut line over the weekend, including alleged gains by the Wagner Group in Bakhmut and Soledar. However, these claims remain unconfirmed and previous such claims have proven incorrect. The Ukrainian General Staff has maintained that its forces have continually repulsed Russian ground attacks around Bakhmut and Soledar in recent days.
- Russian long-range kamikaze drone strikes continued over the weekend. The most intense bombardment came on 22 October, when Russian forces launched 40 missiles and 16 Shahed-136 drones. Ukrainian air defences reportedly intercepted 20 cruise missiles and 11 drones. Nevertheless, the state energy firm Ukrenergo announced that the scale of the strikes was comparable to the strikes seen between 10-12 October, and that they hit energy infrastructure targets in Cherkasy, Kharkiv, Khmelnytskyi, Kirovohrad, Mykolaiv, Odesa, Rivne, Volyn and Zaporizhzhia oblasts.
- Kyrylo Budanov stated in an interview on 22 October that 30 percent of Iranian-supplied Shahed-136 drones have hit their targets in recent weeks. Meanwhile, the UK’s Defence Intelligence (DI) reported on 24 October that around 85 percent of Shahed-136s are being intercepted. According to Budanov, 330 Shahed-136s have so far been launched, though Moscow is understood to have ordered a further 1,700 drones from Tehran. These will reportedly be delivered in batches of 300 in the coming weeks and months. Despite the high interdiction rates of the Iranian-made drones, their cost-efficiency will enable Russia to continue employing relatively large numbers to sustain a deep-strike capability in the coming months.
- On 21 October, Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, signed a decree establishing a new ‘coordination council’ for the Russian government to strengthen coordination between the federal and regional executive branches in support of the war effort. The new council will be responsible for resolving logistical issues and deciding where federal funds will go to support the military, among other issues. The decree follows the introduction of a new martial readiness level system across the Russia (see Sibylline Daily Ukraine Update – 20 October), and is the latest indication that the Kremlin is preparing for a protracted conflict well into 2023.
- Ukraine’s prime minister, Denys Shmyhal, stated on 23 October that Ukraine has enough gas to get through the winter, with 14.2 bn cubic metres currently in storage. The statement comes as blackouts and electricity rationing continued across the country over the weekend of 22-23 October, with further rolling blackouts scheduled for 24 October in Chernihiv, Cherkasy, Kharkiv, Kyiv, Poltava, Sumy and Zhytomyr oblasts. Ukrainian energy minister Herman Halushchenko confirmed on 23 October that Ukraine’s renewable energy infrastructure has been severely impacted by Russia’s strikes and the ongoing war. Around 90 percent of Ukraine’s native wind power and 50 percent of its solar power facilities have now been destroyed, though green energy only made up between 10-11 percent of Ukraine’s energy production before the war.
- Despite the constant bombardment and the impact on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, a new poll conducted by KMIS demonstrates overwhelming support among the Ukrainian population to continue fighting, even if Russia does not stop striking Ukrainian cities. The poll conducted between 21-23 October saw 71 percent of respondents fully agree that ‘armed resistance’ should continue, with a further 15 percent partially agreeing. Only 10 percent of respondents favoured negotiations with Russia, even if that meant granting concessions to Moscow in order to stop the bombardments. Notably, the numbers supporting negotiations are higher (29 percent) in eastern Ukraine, though a clear majority of 69 percent still favour a continuation of armed resistance. As such, it is clear that Russia’s ongoing campaign to target Ukraine’s critical infrastructure is failing to have a marked impact on Ukrainian resolve to resist. While a difficult winter characterised by widespread blackouts may increase the numbers in support of negotiations by early 2023, they are still highly likely to remain a minority, with the Zelensky administration showing no sign whatsoever of intending to enter negotiations until the occupied territories are liberated.
- On 23 October, Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry stated that due to Russian ‘sabotage’, Black Sea ports exporting agricultural products have been working at only 25-30 percent capacity in recent days. This aligns with our earlier assessment that Russian efforts to undermine the deal would likely step up in the run-up to the renewal of the Black Sea grain deal, which expires between 19-22 November. Moscow reiterated its readiness to withdraw from the deal if it does not secure concessions in the form of sanctions relief on its own agricultural and fertiliser exports. The UN has called for ‘urgent measures to be taken’ in order to prevent delays at the ports, with 150 vessels reportedly waiting in the vicinity of Istanbul (Turkey) in a growing backlog caused by various delays. As negotiations continue, further sabotage, administrative delays and long-range strikes against agricultural export supply chains remain likely.
On 23 October, Russia’s defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, requested a series of rare calls with his NATO counterparts, namely Lloyd Austin (US), Ben Wallace (UK), Sebastien Lecornu (France) and Hulusi Akar (Turkey). During the phone calls, Shoigu stated that the situation in Ukraine is heading towards ‘uncontrolled escalation’ and alleged that Ukraine was actively preparing a false-flag ‘dirty bomb’ attack somewhere in Ukraine. He alleged that Kyiv would use the dirty bomb attack to accuse Russia of using weapons of mass destruction. Shoigu’s claims mark a major escalation in the recent war of words, which has seen the Kremlin ramp up nuclear rhetoric as the military situation for their conventional forces deteriorates on the ground.
On 19 October, a Russian media pundit alleged on national television that a nuclear device has been primed in Mykolaiv, which he claimed the Ukrainian authorities will detonate and blame on Russia to justify US military intervention in Ukraine (see Sibylline Daily Ukraine Update – 20 October). There were and still are no indications to support this highly unlikely claim. However, Shoigu’s most recent allegations illustrate that the Kremlin is now formally accusing Kyiv of preparing for a radiological (if not nuclear) escalation, which President Zelensky has in turn stated would be a false-flag pretext for Russia to escalate further. It is important to note that a ‘dirty bomb’ is a radiological weapon, and not a nuclear weapon. A radiological ‘dirty bomb’ uses conventional explosives to scatter radioactive material over a given area. Using conventional explosives, the blast radius of a dirty bomb would be equivalent to other conventional bombs and munitions. As a result, it remains highly unlikely that a dirty bomb would spread lethal quantities of radioactive material over a significant area, with the most lethal part of a dirty bomb attack most likely to be the conventional explosion itself. The most acute effect of a dirty bomb is its psychological impact as a terror weapon. A dirty bomb would be unlikely to spread a major amount of lethal radiation, though this is unlikely to assuage the general public in the event of such an attack. As such, dirty bombs play on public misconceptions about radiological release and information vacuums in order to spread panic. Various Western media outlets have already mislabelled Shoigu’s dirty bomb as a ‘dirty nuclear bomb’, which will only reinforce the effectiveness of the threat’s psychological impact. The Kremlin does not want to use nuclear (or radiological) weapons in Ukraine given their escalatory nature; if Moscow can achieve its strategic objectives merely through the fear of such weapons, it will not have to use them in anger. The Kremlin is therefore clearly ramping up its psychological warfare campaign. This campaign is likely aimed at instilling panic not only in Ukraine but also throughout the wider European population in order to apply pressure on Kyiv to de-escalate, and to resist growing NATO involvement and/or accept some sort of ceasefire agreement favourable to Moscow. Shoigu’s recent claim is therefore likely to be one of a series of carefully choreographed rungs on an escalation ladder aimed at deterring greater NATO involvement in Ukraine and undermining Western unity in its support of Kyiv. Washington, London and Paris have described Shoigu’s allegations as ‘transparently false’, as it remains highly unlikely that Ukraine would need to or want to stage such an attack on its own soil. Shoigu’s claim does not in and of itself indicate that a false-flag attack will occur imminently, though it does underline the growing threat of a major false-flag operation in southern Ukraine, particularly amid the apparent Russian withdrawal from Kherson.
The Kremlin is clearly doubling down on its ‘escalate to de-escalate’ strategy; a false-flag ‘dirty bomb’ attack near the frontline, potentially in Mykolaiv or elsewhere, could be used by the Kremlin to justify further escalation. This could include nuclear ‘retaliation’ in the form of a low-yield nuclear attack. However, this remains unlikely in the short term. The Kremlin is more likely to leverage the psychological impact of its threats during a longer-term psychological terror campaign aimed at steadily eroding Western support for Ukraine in the coming months. Further Russian claims of nuclear terrorism and the dissemination of credible ‘intelligence leaks’ indicating potential nuclear or radiological attacks are therefore likely in the coming weeks. This will likely steadily increase fears of a nuclear and/or radiological attack. However, such reports do not necessarily mean Moscow will follow through with its stated threats, which ultimately form part of an escalating game of nuclear brinkmanship.
Ukraine-Russia: Russian claim of Ukrainian ‘dirty bomb’ likely aimed at deterring NATO involvement, rather than indicating an imminent attack. On 23 October, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed Ukraine is preparing to conduct a false flag attack using a dirty bomb, to accuse Russia of using weapons of mass destruction. A dirty bomb is a conventional explosive with radioactive material. Shoigu made the claim during calls to his counterparts in the United Kingdom, France, Turkey and the United States. Since February 2022, the Kremlin has repeatedly claimed that Western countries will help Ukraine conduct false-flag attacks. Kyiv, London, Paris and Washington have all rejected Shoigu’s claim as transparently false and a pretext for escalation. While Shoigu’s claims do underscore the growing possibility of a false-flag operation, it remains unlikely that the Kremlin will follow through with the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine. Shoigu’s claim most likely forms part of a wider strategic deterrence campaign aimed at deterring growing US/NATO involvement in Ukraine and increasing fear of escalation in the general population. (Source: Sibylline)
28 Oct 22. Russia declares end of Ukraine mobilisation campaign, U.S. sending more arms.
- Russia says it drafted 300,000 people in a month
- U.S. says sending more weapons to Ukraine
- Ukraine’s Zelenskiy says he doubts call-up has finished
- Battle looming in south, Ukraine claims gains in east
Russia said on Friday it had finished calling up reservists to fight in Ukraine, having drafted hundreds of thousands in a month and sending more than a quarter of them already to the battlefield after a divisive mobilisation campaign that was its first since World War Two.
The United States, meanwhile, announced it would send another $275m in military assistance to Ukraine, including arms, munitions and equipment from Pentagon inventories, bringing U.S. military assistance to the country under the Biden administration to more than $18.5 billion
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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington was working to provide Ukraine with air defence capabilities it needs, with two initial sophisticated anti-aircraft NASAMS ready for delivery to the country next month.
He said the United States was also working with allies and partners to enable delivery of their own air defence systems to Ukraine.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he doubted Moscow was finished calling up soldiers.
In his nightly televised address, he said Russian forces “are so poorly prepared and equipped, so brutally used by their command, that it allows us to presume that very soon Russia may need a new wave of people to send to the war.”
The divisive mobilisation drive has seen tens of thousands of men flee the country and gave rise to the first sustained public protests against the war.
“The task set by you of (mobilising) 300,000 people has been completed. No further measures are planned,” Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told President Vladimir Putin at a televised meeting in the Kremlin. He said 82,000 had already been sent to the combat zone and the rest were training.
Putin thanked reservists “for their dedication to duty, for their patriotism, for their firm determination to defend our country, to defend Russia, which means their home, their family, our citizens, our people.”
Both men acknowledged “problems” in the early days of the call-up. Shoigu said initial issues in supplying newly mobilised troops had since been resolved. Putin said mistakes had probably been inevitable as Russia had not carried out a mobilisation for such a long time, but that lessons had been learned.
The mobilisation Putin ordered last month after his forces suffered major battlefield setbacks was the first time most Russians faced a direct personal impact from the “special military operation” he launched in February.
More than 2,000 people were arrested in anti-mobilisation protests, notably in parts of Russia populated by ethnic minorities who complained they were being disproportionately targeted to be sent to the front.
Putin ordered the call-up when he endorsed plans to annex Ukrainian lands. The West describes those moves as an escalation in response to battlefield setbacks that showed Russia was on course to lose the war.
Western military analysts have said the call-up could help ease Moscow’s shortages of manpower along the 1,000-km (600-mile) front line, but the draft’s military value will depend on whether Moscow can properly equip and train the reservists.
Meanwhile, Kyiv has continued to make gains. Serhiy Gaidai, the Ukrainian governor of Luhansk province, said on Friday Ukrainian troops had practically gained full control of an important road connecting Svatove and Kreminna, major towns seen as the next big battle front in the east. Reuters could not independently verify the claim.
In the south, Ukrainian forces have advanced this month towards Kherson, the biggest city Russia has captured intact since its February invasion. It is at the mouth of the wide Dnipro River that bisects Ukraine and the surrounding region controls land approaches to Crimea, which Moscow has held since 2014.
The Ukrainian advance appears to have slowed in recent days, however, with Kyiv blaming poor weather and tough terrain.
Troops dug into muddy trench lines north of the city exchanged rocket, mortar and artillery fire.
Ukrainian soldiers manning a 120 mm mortar hidden in bushes loosed high explosive rounds in thundering bursts of flame at Russian positions around a grain silo less than a kilometre away.
Hennadyi, 51, said the Russians were using the silo for cover and observation. It poked like a finger above a vast expanse of fields, a column of smoke floating behind it.
Hennadyi said Ukrainian gunners were targeting Russian armoured vehicles and ammunition behind the silo and avoiding hitting the structure itself because of its importance to the agricultural region. But they did not have enough shells, he said.
“For every one shell that we send, they send back five,” he said amid the shellfire duels. “They shoot at us most of the time.”
Russia has ordered civilians out of a pocket of land it occupies on the west bank of the Dnipro, which includes Kherson city. Kyiv says the evacuation is cover for a forcible deportation of civilians by Russian forces, which Moscow denies.
Sergey Aksyonov, the leader of Crimea, said work had been completed on moving residents seeking to flee Kherson to regions of Russia ahead of Ukraine’s expected counter-offensive.
Ukraine’s general staff said hospital and business equipment was being removed from the area, while extra Russian forces were being deployed in empty homes.
Putin’s escalation in recent weeks has also included a new campaign to rain down missiles and Iranian-made suicide drones on Ukrainian civil infrastructure targets, particularly electricity substations.
Kyiv says the strikes are intended to freeze Ukrainians in winter and an intentional war crime. Moscow says it is permitted retaliation for Ukrainian attacks including a blast on a bridge to Crimea.
In Mykolaiv, a major Ukrainian-held city close to the Kherson front line, a missile blasted a huge crater outside a bakery overnight. Staff said two people were hurt by flying glass.
“At first, we did not hear anything – probably got deafened by the blast. In time we found (each other), started calling out and found each other,” Oksana Illyenko, a baker, told Reuters, recalling the explosion.
28 Oct 22. DOD, Latvian MOD Enter Into Non-Binding Security of Supply Arrangement. On Oct. 25, 2022, the Department of Defense (DOD) and Ministry of Defence (MOD) of the Republic of Latvia entered into a bilateral, non-binding Security of Supply Arrangement (SOSA) to provide reciprocal priorities support for goods and services that promote national defense. The arrangement will enable both the U.S. and Latvia to acquire the industrial resources they need to quickly meet defense requirements, resolve unanticipated disruptions that challenge defense capabilities, and promote supply chain resiliency.
The SOSA was signed by U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Base Policy (PDASD(IBP)) Michael Vaccaro and Under Secretary of State for Logistics Latvian Ministry of Defense Mārtiņš Paškēvičs at a signing ceremony in Riga, Latvia prior to the U.S.-Baltics Defence Industry Day.
“DOD is honored to enter into the SOSA with the Latvian MOD,” said PDASD(IBP) Vaccaro. “The SOSA is a testament to the strength of U.S.-Latvian cooperation that our two countries began over a hundred years ago and we are proud to continue today. The arrangement is a symbol both to each other and to the world that the U.S. and Latvia will support one another’s defense industrial needs when possible, in turn bolstering our assurances of supply during peacetime, emergency, and armed conflict.”
Through the SOSA, the U.S. and Latvia commit intent to support one another’s priority delivery requests for procurement of critical defense resources. The U.S. will provide Latvia some assurances under the U.S. Defense Priorities and Allocations System. Latvia will in turn establish a government-industry Code of Conduct with its industrial base, where Latvian firms will voluntarily agree to make every reasonable effort to provide U.S. priority support.
SOSAs are an important mechanism for DOD to strengthen interoperability with defense trade partners. The arrangements establish communication mechanisms, institute working groups, streamline DOD processes, and proactively act to allay anticipated supply chain issues.
Latvia is the U.S.’s tenth SOSA partner. Other SOSA partners include Australia, Canada*, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
About the Department of Defense’s DPA Title I Program:
The DPA Title I program for the Department of Defense is dedicated to ensuring the timely availability of essential domestic industrial resources to support national defense requirements. DPAS is a self-operating system established by the Defense Production Act Title I: Priorities and Allocations and other statutes, and legally binding for all U.S. companies and U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies. The DPAS is administered by the Department of Commerce, who has delegated use for national security procurements to the Department of Defense. DPA Title I has been delegated authority down from the Secretary of Defense to oversee the prioritization and allocation of all national security contracts and orders rated under DPAS. This authority grants DOD, in conjunction with DOC, the jurisdiction to prioritize and allocate defense supply chain needs to mitigate constraints, as required by national security. DPA Title I’s efforts support needs from all elements of the U.S. defense industrial base, including from within DOD and its delegate agencies, from foreign partners and from industry partners. By executing its mission, the DPA Title I program ensures the nation is prioritizing the supplies it needs to meet the U.S. and its partners’ national security demands in today’s ever-evolving threat environment.
For additional information on SOSAs, please see the Title I website at https://www.businessdefense.gov/security-of-supply.html.
(Source: US DoD)
28 Oct 22. Official Describes DOD’s Efforts to Bolster Ukraine’s Defense. Today, the Defense Department announced the authorization of a security assistance package for Ukraine valued at up to $275m.
Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said the package included:
- Delivery of eight National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems most likely next month, with training on the system currently underway.
- Additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems.
- 500 precision-guided 155 mm artillery rounds.
- 2,000 155 mm rounds of remote anti-armor mine systems.
- Over 1,300 anti-armor systems, including AT4 anti-tank weapons and shoulder-launched multipurpose assault weapons.
- 125 Humvees.
- Small arms with more than 2.75 million rounds.
- Four satellite communications antennas to augment Ukraine’s communications capabilities, which include Starlink.
Allies and partners are also providing security assistance to Ukraine, she said. Spain will be delivering HAWK surface-to-air missiles, and Germany will be delivering IRIS-T air defense systems.
“We’re extremely pleased that our partners and allies have been donating these systems to Ukraine,” she added.
In other news, Singh announced that on Oct. 31, U.S. Army Pacific will activate its first Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center in Hawaii.
It’s the first combat training center established by the Army in over 50 years and the first combat training center for the Indo-Pacific region.
The first rotation will include several thousand troops from all U.S. military services, including the Coast Guard, as well as participants from Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, she said.
“JPMRC increases combined training opportunities for regional allies and partners and produces significant cost savings, versus moving personnel and equipment to continental U.S. training facilities,” she said. (Source: US DoD)
28 Oct 22. $275m in Additional Presidential Drawdown Security Assistance for Ukraine.
Today, the Department of Defense (DoD) announces the authorization of a Presidential Drawdown of security assistance valued at up to $275m to meet Ukraine’s critical security and defense needs. This authorization is the Biden Administration’s twenty-fourth drawdown of equipment from DoD inventories for Ukraine since August 2021.
Capabilities in this package include:
- Additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS);
- 500 precision-guided 155mm artillery rounds;
- 2,000 155mm rounds of Remote Anti-Armor Mine (RAAM) Systems;
- More than 1,300 anti-armor systems;
- 125 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs);
- Small arms and more than 2,750,000 rounds of small arms ammunition; and
- Four satellite communications antennas.
In total, the United States has committed more than $18.5bn in security assistance to Ukraine since January 2021, including approximately $17.9bn since the beginning of Russia’s unprovoked and brutal invasion on February 24, 2022. Air defense capabilities have been, and will continue to be, a U.S. priority for Ukraine. As Secretary Austin said, the two initial NASAMS that the United States has committed to providing will be ready for delivery to Ukraine early next month and the United States is working with our Allies to transfer air defense systems of their own to Ukraine.
To meet Ukraine’s evolving battlefield requirements, the United States will continue to work with its Allies and partners to provide Ukraine with key capabilities. (Source: US DoD)
27 Oct 22. Fearing Russian false flag in Ukraine, US launches plan to track arms.
The U.S. State Department released plans Thursday to better track weapons supplied to Ukraine, voicing fears Russian forces could capture and use them to fabricate an attack by Ukrainian forces.
“Pro-Russian forces’ capture of Ukrainian weapons ― including donated materiel ― has been the main vector of diversion so far and could result in onward transfers,” the plan reads. “Russia probably will also use these weapons to develop countermeasures, propaganda, or to conduct false-flag operations.”
The warning comes amid Russia’s unfounded claims Ukraine is planning to use a “dirty bomb” on its own soil, which U.S. officials see as a potential pretext for Moscow to escalate the war. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has also accused Russia of planning to blow up a huge dam near Kherson and blame it on Ukrainians.
Since Russia launched its war in Ukraine eight months ago, the U.S. has been speeding more than $17bn in military aid, from shoulder-fired rockets, howitzers and armored vehicles to advanced air defense systems. U.S. lawmakers and officials in Europe, which is also providing billions in weapons, have in recent weeks stepped up calls for stiffer oversight.
The State Department is especially concerned about two classes of weapons: man-portable air defense systems, including the thousands of Stinger anti-aircraft missiles sent by the U.S., and anti-tank/all-purpose tactical guided missiles, including thousands of Javelins the U.S. sent.
The State Department said, as part of the plan, it is working with Kyiv to clear explosive remnants of the war, an activity that would enable “on-the-ground accounting for and securing of weapons,” the plan says.
“As in any conflict, we remain vigilant to the possibility that criminal and non-state actors may attempt to illicitly acquire weapons from sources in Ukraine, including members of the Russian military, during or following the conflict,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.
The one-page plan released Thursday offered a number of actions, some for next year, others for 2024 and beyond — but few details about how they would be implemented.
Among other steps in the plan, U.S. embassy personnel in Kyiv would help Ukraine increase weapons tracking. Beyond that, the State Department plans to bolster training for Ukrainian forces on protecting their borders and destroying found weapons and ammunition to deny them to non-state actors and protect civilians.
In the future, the U.S. also wants to deploy contracted de-mining units to work alongside Kyiv’s forces and train border forces to recognize man-portable air defense systems and anti-tank weapons.
So far, Ukrainian forces have been keeping small arms and other weapons from ending up on the black market and Ukraine has committed to safeguarding weapons donated by the U.S., but the plan acknowledges “the chaotic nature of combat can make this difficult.”
This summer, the European Union launched a new platform to discuss organized crime in the region with an eye toward the illegal smuggling of diverted weapons. The law enforcement agency Europol said then it was working with Ukrainian officials to reduce the risk of illegal arms transfers.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, in a June interview with the Financial Times, pushed back against western concerns the country could become a source of smuggled weapons, but acknowledged it needed to expand its arms tracking systems.
Reznikov disclosed that some of Ukraine’s allies had sent military representatives to the country to observe the flow of their donated weapons and he invited others to follow suit. He also said Ukraine was using NATO software, acquired in 2019, to monitor the destination and use of weapons provided by the west.
“We need to survive. We have no reason to smuggle arms out of Ukraine,” he told the Financial Times.
The arms control community has been pressing the Biden administration for months to conduct stronger oversight. The number and variety of arms sent to Ukraine, and the potential they will overwhelm Ukraine’s ability to absorb and track them, have been worrisome to arms control advocates.
“The quantity of weapons that has gone to Ukraine already is larger than than any year to Afghanistan and Iraq since 9/11,” said Rachel Stohl, the director of Stimson Center’s conventional defense program. “This [State Department tracking effort] is very much focused on the most high-tech sophisticated weapons. Light weapons have a huge diversion risk.”
Stohl hailed the Biden administration’s new plan for addressing these concerns, but she said it lacks details about implementation and said its effectiveness remains to be seen.
“Some of the things they’re laying out should be done as a matter of course. You shouldn’t be transferring weapons to a recipient if you can’t be sure how those weapon are being used or by the people you intended to use them,” Stohl said.
(Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
28 Oct 22. Turkey’s Baykar to complete plant in Ukraine in two years -CEO. Turkish defence company Baykar is planning to complete the construction of its manufacturing plant in Ukraine in two years, its chief executive said on Thursday, after the company became highly renowned for their drones’ success in thwarting Russian forces.
The aerial drones supplied to Ukraine by Baykar were instrumental in Ukraine’s defense against Russian armour and anti-aircraft systems in the first few weeks of the Russian invasion.
Its Bayraktar TB2 drone gained so much prominence with the public that Ukrainians composed a song about it and some allies launched unprecedented crowdfunded campaigns to buy more.
As part of an agreement between Turkey and Ukraine, signed just before Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion, Baykar had agreed to build its second manufacturing plant in Ukraine.
CEO Haluk Bayraktar told Reuters on Thursday that plans were moving ahead despite some obstacles created by Russia’s invasion. “Our plan is moving ahead,” the chief executive said on the sidelines of the SAHA defense expo in Istanbul.
“Right now we have architectural design. The detailed design phase is finished. And we will move ahead with construction actually… within two years we would like to finish it.”
Ukraine figures prominently in Baykar’s supply chain, especially with the new heavy-lifter drone Akinci and unmanned fighter jet Kizilelma, or Golden Apple, currently under development. Both use Ukrainian engines from Motor Sich (MSICH.UAX) and from Ivchenko-Progress.
Deployment of the company’s Bayraktar TB2 drone has been a major factor influencing conflicts from Syria to Azerbaijan and Ukraine, pushing Baykar into the global spotlight and transforming it into a major manufacturer and exporter.
The battle-proven TB2 drone is being sold to 24 countries including NATO member Poland, while the company signed deals with five countries for exports of its much larger sibling Akinci.
While the TB2 can lift off with up to 150 kg (330 pounds) of missiles or equipment, Akinci, first delivered to Turkish armed forces last year, can fly much higher and take off with 10 times the weight.
The expanding order book is expected to net around $1 billion in export revenues this year, Bayraktar said, about 50% higher than last year’s $650m, with a further 50% growth expected in 2023.
Though Baykar is not the only military drone developer in Turkey, the TB2 has figured so prominently in conflicts that it now spearheads Turkey’s global defence export push. Last year the company made up a fifth of Turkey’s $3.2bn in defense exports, according to data from Turkish Exporters Assembly.
The company will invest the revenues for expansion of production lines, Bayraktar said. “Our production capacity with TB2, we do 20 units per month. For 2023 our target is to do minimum 30 (units) a month,” he said.
Research and development on the fast drone fighter jet Kizilelma, which analysts say represents significant expansion of capabilities for slow moving reconnaissance and missile carrying drones, will pick up as well, Bayraktar said.
Kizielma will be capable of taking off from and landing on short-runway aircraft carriers, with a maiden flight expected in the next few months.
The TB3, a short-runway-capable version of the TB2, is expected to finish its testing phase by the end of 2023, Bayraktar said.
The company is also expanding its focus to space technologies to complement its unmanned vehicle system. “We are now investing in space technologies… Not well established segments, but new areas where you can bring new innovative solutions,” Bayraktar said.
Baykar is also investing in some companies in its expanding supply chain. “We invest in companies which bring value added items to our systems… in the field of communications, optics, network architecture,” Bayraktar said. (Source: Google/Reuters)
27 Oct 22. Austin: Talks With Russia Important to Avoid Escalation in Ukraine. The United States has been concerned about elevating escalation from the very beginning of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, said Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, who held a Pentagon press conference today.
“That’s why we believe that it’s important to communicate with our allies and partners and also with our adversaries. As long as we have the channels of communication open and we are able to communicate what’s important to us, then I think we have an opportunity to manage escalation,” he said.
If Russia decided to use some type of nuclear weapon, “you would see a very significant response from the international community … and we’re going to continue to communicate that any type of use of a weapon of that sort, or even the talk of the use of a weapon of that sort, is dangerous and irresponsible,” Austin emphasized.
The Defense Department has not seen anything to indicate that Russian President Vladimir Putin has made a decision to use a dirty bomb, nor has the department seen any indications that the Ukrainians are planning such a thing, Austin said.
The secretary said the department will remain focused on making sure it does everything it can to help Ukraine defend its sovereign territory. “We’re going to continue to support them for as long as it takes.”
Austin noted that at the start of the invasion earlier this year, most people doubted that the Ukrainian forces could withstand the Russians, who have much more military capability.
“I think they have exceeded most people’s expectations. And they’ve done that because we in the international community have really worked hard and moved very quickly to provide with the capability that they need to defend their sovereign territory, and they have employed it very, very well,” he added.
Austin also mentioned that the most urgent need for Ukraine at this time is air defense capability. The U.S. and international partners are working on that request, which could be delivered as early as next month along with the training that goes with it. (Source: US DoD)
27 Oct 22. How much more of Russia’s nonsense do we have to endure: UK Statement at the Security Council. Statement by Ambassador Barbara Woodward at the Security Council briefing on Ukraine and Biological Weapons. Thank you President, and thank you Mr Ebo for your very clear briefing. I’d like to start by reaffirming the United Kingdom’s deep commitment to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.
On 24 February, Russia invaded Ukraine, an act of aggression in clear violation of international law, which the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to condemn.
Since then, the Russian Federation has repeatedly spread disinformation, including wild claims involving dirty bombs, chemical weapons, and offensive biological research.
How much more of this nonsense do we have to endure?
As we’ve heard, Russia’s allegations were given a full hearing last month, according to the processes set out under Article 5 of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.
89 States Parties attended that meeting, and listened as Russia delivered nothing but misrepresentations of assorted public documents and copy-and-pasted images from Wikipedia.
The response from the other States Parties was clear and overwhelming:
- that Russia must end its aggression and disinformation campaign against Ukraine; and
- that Russia must stop demonising legitimate peaceful scientific and technical cooperation, which all BTWC States Parties have a right to participate in under Article 10 of the Convention, and which is rightly valued by many States Parties.
That process has now concluded. Russia’s claims have been heard, considered, and rejected. The bar has not been met for further investigation and proposals for further action would be a waste of this Council’s time. This Council is a serious body and risks being brought into disrepute by Russia’s actions.
There are plenty of issues that demand our attention but Russia is clogging up the agenda with conspiracy theories.
Instead of attempting to smear Ukraine, Russia should focus on its own obligations, including the UN Charter, and end this war.
Thank you President. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
28 Oct 22. Putin jabs at West over Ukraine war, says operation going to plan.
- Russian leader plays down nuclear fears; Biden sceptical
- Putin repeats allegations Ukraine planning to use ‘dirty bomb’
- Washington preparing $275 m in new military aid
Russian President Vladimir Putin showed no regrets for the war against Ukraine, insisting it was going to plan and playing down any nuclear standoff with the West, while both sides prepared for what could be a key battle in Kherson in Ukraine’s south.
Putin had a familiar litany of grievances against “Western opponents” as he addressed a conference in Moscow on Thursday, accusing the West of inciting the war and of playing a “dangerous, bloody and dirty” game that was sowing chaos.
The West’s dominance over world affairs was coming to an end and “ahead is probably the most dangerous, unpredictable and, at the same time, important decade since the end of World War Two”, Putin told the conference.
The Ukraine conflict, which began on Feb. 24 when Russian forces invaded, has killed thousands, displaced ms, shaken the global economy and reopened Cold War-era divisions.
In recent weeks, Russia has unleashed a wave of missile and drone strikes, hitting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure and forcing power cuts in Kyiv and other places, officials said.
The attacks “will not break us”, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a video address on Thursday as he stood in the dark beside the wreckage of a downed drone.
“To hear the enemy’s anthem on our land is scarier than the enemy’s rockets in our sky. We are not afraid of the dark.”
Early on Friday, the Ukrainian military provided a summary of battlefield action in Kherson, where Ukrainian and Russian forces have been preparing for weeks for what could be one of the most consequential battles of the war.
Kherson, one of four partially occupied provinces that Russia proclaimed annexed last month, controls both the only land route to the Crimea peninsula that Russia seized in 2014, and the mouth of the Dnipro river that bisects Ukraine.
Ukrainian forces killed 44 Russian servicemen in the past 24 hours, the Ukrainian military said in a Facebook post, adding that its forces had destroyed an ammunition depot and a hangar with equipment.
However, Ukrainian officials have said tough terrain and bad weather had held up their main advance in Kherson. On Thursday, a close ally of Putin, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, said 23 of his soldiers had been killed and 58 wounded in a Ukrainian artillery attack this week in Kherson. After the attack, Chechen forces killed about 70 Ukrainians, he said. Reuters was not able to verify battlefield reports. (Source: Reuters)
27 Oct 22. Putin is resorting to more cruel, brutal, deadly methods in Ukraine: UK statement to the OSCE. Ambassador Bush marks eight months since Russia’s illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, which has caused immense suffering, destruction and loss.
Thank you Mr Chair. The start of this week marked eight months of Russia’s illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Eight months of suffering, destruction and loss, at the hands of Russian Forces and President Putin. Eight months of Russia’s failure to subjugate the Ukrainian people and their democracy. Eight months of Russian government lies and disinformation.
Just this weekend, the Russian government baselessly tried to claim that Ukraine was planning actions to escalate the conflict in Ukraine through the use of a dirty bomb. There is no reason to suggest that Ukraine would use such a device in its own territory, against its own people and Russia has provided no evidence to support its claims.
As Ukraine has reconfirmed in the last few days, it has no nuclear weapons, no dirty bombs and no plans to acquire any. The IAEA has unambiguously stated they have no proliferation concerns and as reiterated today, Ukraine has offered to open its sites for further inspection.
Russia has a history of making false claims to provide a pretext or cover for its own actions. Russia has demonstrated its disregard for global nuclear security through its illegal takeover of the Ukrainian nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhia, and Russia is the only State which has repeatedly raised the prospect of nuclear weapons use during the course of its illegal invasion.
The Russian government is hoping to distract and de-sensitise the world from what is really happening on the ground in Ukraine – the continued killing and injuring of Ukrainian civilians and the targeting of critical national infrastructure by the Russian military. An adviser to Ukraine’s energy minister has reported that as much as 40% of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure has been seriously damaged, with approximately 1.5 m households left without electricity following more strikes on Saturday.
This is a concerted campaign by Russia to deplete Ukraine’s energy generating capabilities ahead of winter. Families are being forced to cook their evening meals on the side of the street, using open fires; hospitals are dependent on back-up generators, jeopadizing patient safety; parents worry how they will keep their children warm at night; police have even reported that many air raid sirens don’t have the electricity to warn of other potential airstrikes. The devastating impacts are being felt across all areas of civilian life – from education; to sanitation; to communications, through to the meeting of fundamental human needs such as warmth, food and clean water.
The Russian government and the Russian military are knowingly and systematically plunging ms into cold and darkness, weaponising energy in an attempt to crush the courage and strength of the Ukrainian people. Attacks disproportionately killing civilians, and destroying objects indispensable to the survival of civilians, are prohibited under international humanitarian law and may constitute war crimes. It is barbaric.
In Kherson, the Russian government is attempting to forcibly remove and resettle Ukrainian citizens. Mr Chair – this is not an evacuation; it is deportation. Preparing for the oncoming Ukrainian counter-attack, we have heard credible reports of the looting of an entire city by Russian forces – including emergency service vehicles and medical equipment being taken to Crimea. Russian officials and senior military officers, installed to oversee the sham referenda and attempted illegal annexation are now fleeing, leaving newly mobilised and inexperienced Russian servicepersons to their fate.
President Putin is resorting to more cruel, brutal, deadly methods. But as we have seen time and time again in these past eight months, the resilience and strength of the Ukrainian people in the face of such adversity is truly admirable. They are not alone in this struggle. The UK, with our partners, will continue to support Ukraine militarily, financially, with humanitarian assistance and through sanctions, to ensure they can protect their people, defend their country and restore territorial integrity and sovereignty to the whole of Ukraine.
As we approach winter, the unity of the international community, the outrage at Russia’s continued disdain for human life and the standing up for international rules, laws and principles must not and will not fade away. Ukraine is not only defending its right to exist as a sovereign and democratic country; Ukraine is defending the right of all peoples of all States to live in freedom, without fear of aggression from authoritarian regimes. We have so much gratitude. We stand by you now and for as long as it takes. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
27 Oct 22. Australia to train Ukrainian troops, send additional Bushmasters. The Commonwealth government has committed to providing additional military support to Ukraine amid its ongoing struggle against Russia. Australia has joined the United States, the United Kingdom, and a host of other NATO nations in committing to provide training to Ukrainian troops as part of a new military support package announced by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
This is expected to involve deploying up to 70 Australian Defence Force personnel to the United Kingdom in January 2023, as part of the UK’s Operation Interflex.
The government stressed that no Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel would enter Ukraine.
Australia is also set to deliver an additional 30 Thales-built Bushmaster protected mobility vehicles (PMVs) to Ukraine.
This would bring the total number of Bushmaster PMVs gifted to the embattled nation to 90, with 28 M113 armoured personnel carriers also delivered.
The government, however, has stopped short of committing Hawkei PMVs, despite requests from senior Ukrainian representatives, who offered to test the newly-in-service vehicles in the battlespace.
This latest support package takes the total value of Australia’s assistance to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion to $655m, including $475m in military assistance.
“Australia has been unequivocal in its bipartisan support for Ukraine and its condemnation of President Putin,” Prime Minister Albanese said.
“We will continue to stand up for freedom and democracy.
“This is a not just about Ukraine’s sovereignty; the brave people of Ukraine are defending international law, rules and norms.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles added: “Our soldiers will be part of a large training program in the United Kingdom to help prepare their Ukrainian mates for their struggle against Russia’s unwarranted and unlawful aggression.
“Since their arrival, the Bushmasters have been used extensively by the Ukrainian Armed Forces with more requested by the Ukrainian President, Minister for Defence, and the Ambassador.”
“Military assistance has been the centrepiece of Australia’s support to Ukraine with $475m provided, to assist in what is clearly a protracted conflict.” (Source: Defence Connect)
26 Oct 22. Defense Officials Discuss Strategic Cooperation.
The collective support to Ukraine, driven by a network of allies and partners, marks a pivotal moment in security cooperation history, the director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said.
James A. Hursch spoke about security cooperation last week on a panel at his agency’s 2022 Security Cooperation Conference. Mara E. Karlin, the Defense Department’s assistant secretary for strategy, plans and capabilities, also spoke at the event in Washington.
Besides being a pivotal moment, the implications of U.S. support to Ukraine have been far-reaching, Hursch said.
“We now know the speed with which we can place lethal and meaningful support in the hands of allied forces engaged in a hot war weeks, if not days. We now know the scale at which we can supply allied forces with wartime resources, and we now know the number by which our unmatched network can be expanded to support those in need — 50 partner nations and counting,” he said.
Security cooperation with Ukraine provides a deterrent effect beyond the current crisis, Hursch said.
“It is not hard to imagine nations having reconsidered potential future acts of aggression based on the magnitude of international support to Ukraine led through the United States’ security cooperation efforts,” he said.
Additionally, the companies that make up the U.S., ally and partner defense industrial base are force enablers and capacity builders that make this security cooperation possible, he said.
“I have met with many of these companies from the United States and Europe over the past few weeks, and I’m impressed by the recurring question, ‘How can we provide more help?'” he said.
“A great deal of credit goes to the Ukrainian forces for their bravery and resolve, and we know that the collective efforts of our partners and our collective industrial base have enabled that nation and its forces to effectively fend off a country 28 times its size,” he added.
Hursch also mentioned security cooperation with key allies — such as Australia, South Korea, and Japan — as threats grow from China.
Karlin said security cooperation requires special skills. “Security cooperation isn’t just a tool in the toolbox, it’s an instrument of statecraft that requires a specialized set of skills and knowledge to properly wield,” she said.
The new national defense strategy lays out what security cooperation is needed worldwide, Karlin said.
“We’re witnessing a global geostrategic environment laden with threats, both from states seeking to undermine the security and sovereignty of our partners and from non-state actors who would disrupt and diminish our capacity to preserve a rules-based order. In this environment, the enduring U.S. strategic advantage is our unmatched network of allies and partners,” she said.
DOD aims to help partners not only develop specific capabilities, but also enable institutional integrity and effectiveness and an ability to promote shared values, notably the promotion and protection of human rights and good governance of the security sector, she said.
“What ultimately sets apart the United States in an environment of strategic competition are the values we represent. Our ability to maintain and continue to set a high bar for human rights, gender equity and equality, humanitarian affairs and rule of law — including civilian oversight of the military — can help our partners meet their goals and advance those shared values,” she said. (Source: US DoD)
27 Oct 22. Peace deal by Spring 2023? Sources close to BATTLESPACE suggest that the current campaigns will slow to a virtual standstill in the coming winter months with Ukraine holding on to current gains. The source suggests that a Peace Deal will then take place to allow Russia to keep the gains made in the Donbas and the war will end. The only problem to watch from the Russian point of view and President Putin remaining in power will be whether discipline remains during the winter in the Russian Army or whether, like 1917, they will revolt, meaning a possible change of leader in Russia.
25 Oct 22. General Says Use of Dirty Bomb Would Bring Consequences.
If Russia were to deploy a dirty bomb or other type of nuclear weapon in Ukraine, there would be consequences, Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said.
Those consequences have been communicated to Russia at a variety of levels, he said during a briefing at the Pentagon.
Russian allegations that Ukraine is preparing a dirty bomb are patently false, he added.
The Defense Department maintains sophisticated technical means of detecting nuclear or radiological detonations of any kind, he mentioned.
“It’s something that we take very seriously and continue to monitor 24/7,” he said.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III participated in phone conversations yesterday with Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, as well as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, to discuss the ongoing situation in Ukraine and Russia’s false accusation that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb, Ryder said.
Also, Austin spoke by phone with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Friday and again on Sunday in an effort to keep the lines of communication open in order to manage escalation and prevent potential miscalculation, Ryder said.
Ryder also affirmed that China remains the pacing challenge for the department.
“We’re going to continue to do our part to ensure that the U.S. military is prepared to continue working with allies and partners in the region to be able to deter and preferably ensure stability and a free and open Indo-Pacific,” he said.
Separately, Ryder said Austin was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and extended his deepest condolences to the family.
In a statement, Austin said: “Today, the entire Department of Defense mourns the loss of a towering intellect, a steadfast leader, a devoted mentor to countless public servants and a great patriot who devoted his life to strengthening the security of the country that he loved.
“Secretary Carter was a scientist, a scholar and a strategist. He understood that the United States was, as he put it, ‘the most important provider of security to the world.’ And he dedicated his long and storied career to fortifying our republic and strengthening what he loved to call “the finest fighting force the world has ever known.” (Source: US DoD)
25 Oct 22. Ukraine war proves Western technology is superior, German general says. Russia’s flagging invasion of its smaller neighbor Ukraine is demonstrating just how effective Western technologies are and how those who wield them maintain an advantage, according to German Air Force Gen. Chris Badia.
“The Ukraine war shows us one thing,” Badia, the deputy supreme allied commander for transformation at NATO, said at a symposium in Washington, D.C., Oct. 25. “Western technology is key.”
The U.S. has pledged Ukraine more than $20.3bn in security assistance since 2014, including $17.6bn since the Russian war machine rolled across the border Feb. 24.
Equipment and other items the U.S. has committed to the frontlines of Eastern Europe include Stinger anti-aircraft systems, Javelin anti-armor systems, Howitzers, drones and unmanned coastal defense vessels, tactical vehicles, helicopters, electronic jamming equipment, radars, mortars, grenade launchers, small arms, ms of rounds of ammunition and thousands of sets of body armor and helmets.
Other friendly nations have delivered artillery systems, tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and short-range air defense missiles, among other kit.
“We are successful, and it is still advantageous over the rest,” Badia told the symposium sponsored by the Association of Old Crows, a nonprofit specializing in electronic warfare and information operations.
Ukrainian officials are pleased with the modern equipment — a pivot away from aging Soviet arsenals — and “how fast they get used to it and how superior it is,” he said. The U.S. is training Ukrainian troops on the systems it is furnishing.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a Howitzer, if it’s whatever gadget,” Badia told C4ISRNET after his speech at the event. “The overall experience and observation they’re making is as soon as Western technology comes into play, Russia cannot cope with it.”
The U.S. considers Russia and China top-tier threats. The former poses more immediate dangers; the latter, more long-term hazards.
Ukraine Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov this year declared that Russia has to be defeated on the battlefield and that Ukraine has proved it possible. He described his embattled country as a “testing ground” for Western weapons and tactics.
Pentagon officials are closely monitoring the fight and gleaning from it lessons, including the value of encrypted communications, how electronic warfare is employed, the importance of logistics and planning, and the deadly new roles drones play.
“It’s all about capabilities that ensure that allies and partners leave the battlefield as winners,” Badia said. “Because, as we all know, in our business there is no prize for second best.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
26 Oct 22. Russia conducts first nuclear weapons drill since Ukraine invasion. Military exercises heighten western fears that Moscow is fabricating a pretext to escalate faltering campaign. Putin monitored exercises via videoconference as Russia’s military practised what defence minister Sergei Shoigu called a ‘mass nuclear strike.’ Russia on Wednesday conducted its first major nuclear drills since the start of its war on Ukraine and President Vladimir Putin made unfounded claims that Kyiv was seeking to develop a “dirty bomb”, as Moscow continued to ramp up the rhetoric over possible nuclear use in the conflict. Putin monitored events via videoconference from the Kremlin as Russia’s military practised what his defence minister Sergei Shoigu called a “mass nuclear strike with strategic attack forces in response to a nuclear attack by our adversary”. Addressing security services chiefs from a group of former Soviet countries after the drills, Putin said “global geopolitical confrontation has sharply increased” and accused the US of using Ukraine as a “battering ram” against Russia. He repeated evidence-free claims that the US had “turned Ukraine into a test site for military biological experiments”, complained the west was “pumping it up with weapons, including heavy ones”, and turning a blind eye to “provocations” using a dirty bomb, a conventional explosive that carries radioactive material. Ukraine has vehemently denied the claims and said the Kremlin was hoping that the spectre of nuclear war would pressure Ukraine’s western backers to accept a peace deal on Russia’s terms. Wednesday’s drills tested the three parts of Russia’s nuclear capabilities: the RS-24 Yars intercontinental ballistic missile, the missile-carrying K-114 Tula submarine, and two Tu-95 long-range strategic nuclear bombers. The exercises come amid heightened Russian nuclear rhetoric that western countries fear is an ominous attempt to fabricate a pretext to escalate Putin’s faltering eight-month invasion of Ukraine. Washington has not said that it detected a change in Russia’s nuclear posture ahead of the annual exercises, which Moscow warned the US about in advance. But as Ukraine’s counter-offensive continues to inflict a series of humiliating setbacks on Russia’s military, Putin has dialled up his rhetoric around nuclear weapons. Russia held the previous exercise in February just days before Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine and warned the west of “consequences you have never encountered in your history” if it tried to stop him. Last month, he said Russia would use “all the means at our disposal” to defend itself after annexing four regions of Ukraine and warned the US had “created a precedent” when it bombed the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of the second world war. (Source: FT.com)
25 Oct 22. Netherlands promises long-term support for Ukrainian forces.
The Dutch Government will send more instructors to train Ukrainian recruits in the UK. Netherlands Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren has confirmed plans to offer continued support to bolster Ukrainian armed forces against Russia.
The minister lauded the commitment of Ukrainian recruits and the Dutch troopers involved in training them.
As part of the British-led Operation Interflex, as many as 10,000 new and experienced soldiers are being trained to be battle-ready.
The minister noted that instructors from the Netherlands’ Marine Corps will take part in Operation Interflex from January to March next year to train two more batches of Ukrainian soldiers.
The International Security Budget is funding the deployment of the 13 Light Brigade and the Marine Corps. It is projected that the current and future deployments are set to cost over €7m.
Ollongren added: “The cabinet considers it of great importance to continue to provide active support to the reinforcement of the Ukrainian armed forces as long as the war continues.
“The aim is to strengthen and modernise the Ukrainian armed forces through this large-scale training so that they can defend themselves against Russian aggression.” (Source: army-technology.com)
25 Oct 22. Raytheon delivers Ukraine-bound NASAMS air defense systems.
Raytheon Technologies said it delivered two sophisticated NASAMS air defense systems due for Ukraine to U.S. government, which will send them to Ukraine.
“We did just deliver two NASAMS systems. … We delivered two of them to the government a couple of weeks ago. They’re being installed in Ukraine [imminently],” Raytheon CEO Greg Hayes said on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” program
“It is a short-range air defense system, and it can fire [an AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile] and it could knock down everything in the sky from drones to ballistic missiles to fighter jets,” Hayes said.
The Norwegian-developed weapons will provide medium- to long-range defense against Russian attacks, which bombarded Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure over the last two weeks, including its power grid, using missiles and drones.
The U.S. has pledged to deliver two NASAMS within weeks and six more later. Pentagon officials said it could purchase the first lot quickly because the bulk of the systems had already been produced.
U.S. President Joe Biden promised Ukraine President Volodomyr Zelensky during a call this month to expedite shipments of NASAMS amid Russia’s blitz of missiles and flying drones.
A senior Pentagon official said Monday the NASAMS were expected to be delivered “within the next couple of weeks” and that Ukraine would announce when they arrive in the country and are operational.
The U.S. military would “continue to work hard to get those there as quickly as possible,” the official said.
The U.S. has provided more than $17bn worth of military aid since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 and slapped a broad range of sanctions on Moscow.
In Raytheon’s third-quarter earnings call Tuesday, Hayes said the firm expects to see more orders of NASAMS to follow “shortly” with surging demand for the firm’s products.
“We’re also seeing significant global demand for advanced air defense systems, especially in Eastern Europe, as the Russians and Ukraine conflict unfortunately continues,” he said. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
26 Oct 22. Russia digging in for ‘heaviest of battles’ in Kherson – Ukrainian official.
- Ukraine says Russians strengthening in strategic province
- Ukrainians prepare advance on entire frontline -pro-Moscow post
- Biden: ‘Serious mistake’ if Russia used tactical nuclear weapon
Russian forces are digging in for the “heaviest of battles” in the strategic southern region of Kherson, a senior Ukrainian official said, as the Kremlin prepares to defend the largest city under its control from Ukraine’s counter-offensive.
Russian forces in the region have been driven back in recent weeks and risk being trapped against the west bank of the Dnipro river, where the provincial capital of Kherson has been in Russian hands since the early days of the invasion of Ukraine eight months ago.
Russian-installed authorities are evacuating residents to the east bank, but Oleksiy Arestovych, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said there was no sign that Russian forces were preparing to abandon the city.
“With Kherson everything is clear. The Russians are replenishing, strengthening their grouping there,” Arestovych said in an online video late on Tuesday.
“It means that nobody is preparing to withdraw. On the contrary, the heaviest of battles is going to take place for Kherson.”
Of the four provinces Russian President Vladimir Putin proclaimed to have annexed in September, Kherson is arguably the most strategically important. It controls both the only land route to the Crimea peninsula Russia seized in 2014 and the mouth of the Dnipro, the vast river that bisects Ukraine.
Yuri Sobolevsky, a member of the ousted pro-Ukrainian Kherson regional council, said the Russia-installed authorities were putting increasing pressure on Kherson residents to leave.
“Search and filtration procedures are intensifying as are searches of cars and homes,” he wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
In Mykolaiv region north and west of Kherson city, artillery duels raged throughout Tuesday, according to a post from the frontline on Rybar, a pro-Russian channel on Telegram.
In Ishchenka district north of Kherson, Ukrainian forces tried to consolidate their positions, but were forced back to earlier lines, the post said. It said the Ukrainian military was preparing for an advance along the entire length of the frontline.
A Reuters reporter in a remote hamlet near part of the Kherson frontline heard no shooting or artillery fire. Residents said they hoped Russian forces would soon withdraw.
“You fall asleep at night and you don’t know if you will wake up,” said Mikola Nizinets, 39, referring to Russian shelling.
With no power or gas and little food or potable water in the area, many residents have fled, abandoning cattle to roam among expended munitions poking from the soil.
In the northeast, Russian forces continued to try to seize the town of Bakhmut, which sits on a main road leading to the cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region, Ukraine’s General Staff said on Wednesday.
‘DIRTY BOMB’ ALLEGATION
Russia told the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday that Ukraine is preparing to use a “dirty bomb”, an assertion dismissed by Western and Ukrainian officials as a false pretext for intensifying the war.
Russia’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy said the evidence had been shared with Western counterparts.
“I don’t mind people saying that Russia is crying wolf if this doesn’t happen because this is a terrible, terrible disaster that threatens potentially the whole of the Earth,” he told reporters.
President Zelenskiy said Russia’s allegation suggested Moscow was planning to use a tactical nuclear weapon and would seek to blame Kyiv.
U.S. President Joe Biden said Russia would be “making an incredibly serious mistake” if it used a tactical nuclear weapon.
Biden later spoke by phone with new British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and they agreed on the importance of supporting Ukraine, the White House said in a statement.
In an apparent response to Moscow’s allegation, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said it was preparing to send inspectors to two unidentified Ukrainian sites at Kyiv’s request, both already subject to its inspections.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told reporters the inspectors would receive full access, and he called on Moscow to demonstrate the same transparency.
Russia’s state news agency RIA has identified what it said were the two sites involved – the Eastern Mineral Enrichment Plant in the central Dnipropetrovsk region and the Institute for Nuclear Research in Kyiv.
Since Russian forces suffered major defeats in September, Putin has doubled down, calling up hundreds of thousands of reservists, announcing the annexation of occupied territory and repeatedly threatening to use nuclear weapons. (Source: Reuters)
25 Oct 22. Russia loses more than a quarter of ‘Hokum’ attack helo fleet, says UK MoD. Russia has lost more than a quarter of its fleet of Kamov Ka-52 ‘Hokum’ attack helicopters during the eight months of war in Ukraine, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has ascertained. An Intelligence Update released by the MoD on 25 October noted that there have been at least 23 verified losses of Ka-52s out of a pre-war fleet of 90 such helicopters.
“This represents over 25% of the Russian Air Force’s in-service fleet of 90 Ka-52s, and nearly half of Russia’s total helicopter losses in Ukraine,” the MoD said, adding, “Russian attack helicopters have likely suffered particular attention from Ukrainian manportable air defence systems (MANPADS), while the helicopters frequently operate with less consistent top cover from combat jets than they would expect under Russian military doctrine.” (Source: Janes)
25 Oct 22. Russia brings Ukraine ‘dirty bomb’ warning to U.N. as it evacuates Kherson.
- U.S. warns Moscow against any nuclear use
- Russia preparing forces to work in radioactive contamination
- Kyiv spy chief says Moscow planning to defend Kherson
- Ukrainians back resistance against Russia in survey
Rebuffed by Western countries, Russia doubled down on its warning that Kyiv is preparing to use a “dirty bomb” in Ukraine and said it would bring the issue to the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday.
Russia sent a letter on its assertion about Kyiv to the United Nations late on Monday, and diplomats said Moscow planned to raise the issue with the Security Council at a closed meeting the following day.
“We will regard the use of the dirty bomb by the Kyiv regime as an act of nuclear terrorism,” Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the Security Council in the letter, seen by Reuters.
With Ukrainian forces advancing into Russian-occupied Kherson province, top Russian officials had phoned their Western counterparts on Sunday and Monday to air their suspicions.
The foreign ministers of France, Britain and the United States rejected Moscow’s allegations as “transparently false” and reiterated their support for Ukraine.
“The world would see through any attempt to use this allegation as a pretext for escalation,” they said in a joint statement.
Later, the United States issued a warning to Russia.
“We’ve been very clear with the Russians … about the severe consequences that would result from nuclear use,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said. “There would be consequences for Russia whether it uses a dirty bomb or a nuclear bomb.”
Russia’s defence ministry said the aim of a “dirty bomb” attack by Ukraine would be to blame Russia for the resulting radioactive contamination. The ministry has begun preparing for such a scenario, it said, readying forces and resources “to perform tasks in conditions of radioactive contamination.”
The U.N. nuclear watchdog said it was preparing to send inspectors to two unidentified Ukrainian sites at Kyiv’s request, in an apparent reaction to the Russian talk of a “dirty bomb”. It said both sites were already subject to its inspections and one was inspected a month ago.
Russia’s state news agency RIA had earlier identified what it said were the two sites involved in the operation – the Eastern Mineral Enrichment Plant in central Dnipropetrovsk region and the Institute for Nuclear Research in Kyiv.
U.S. officials said there was no indication Russia had decided to use a dirty bomb or any nuclear weapon.
“We continue to see nothing in the way of preparations by the Russian side for the use of nuclear weapons,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Russia’s accusation was a sign it was planning such an attack and would blame Ukraine.
“If Russia calls and says that Ukraine is allegedly preparing something, it means one thing: Russia has already prepared all this,” Zelenskiy said in an address.
Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said late Monday he had a discussion with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on “ways to end Russia’s nuclear blackmail”.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier arrived in Ukraine on Tuesday on his first visit since Russia invaded on Feb. 24 and would meet Zelenskiy, German broadcaster ntv reported.
Russia has ordered civilians to evacuate territory it controls on the western bank of the Dnipro River, where Ukrainian forces have been advancing this month shortly after Russia claimed to have annexed the area.
A defeat for Russia there would be one of its biggest setbacks since its invasion.
Ukraine’s military said Russian-installed authorities in Kherson were evacuating banks, administrative facilities, and emergency service and medical personnel, while funding for schools and school meals had been stopped. Equipment used by internet service providers had been stolen and robberies of residents and looting had increased, it said.
Reuters could not verify the report.
Kherson’s regional capital is the only big city Russia has captured intact since the start of the invasion, and its only foothold on the west bank of the Dnipro, which bisects Ukraine. The province controls the gateway to Crimea, the peninsula Russia seized and claimed to annex in 2014.
Pro-Russian authorities in Kherson announced on Monday that men who stay would have the option of joining a military self-defence unit. Kyiv accuses Russia of press-ganging men in occupied areas into military formations, a war crime under the Geneva Conventions.
Kyrylo Budanov, Ukraine’s military spy chief, said Russian forces were preparing to defend Kherson city, not retreat.
“They are creating the illusion that all is lost. Yet at the same time they are moving new military units in and preparing to defend the streets of Kherson,” he told the Ukrainska Pravda online media outlet.
Since Russia’s forces suffered major defeats in September, President Vladimir Putin has escalated the war, calling up hundreds of thousands of reservists, announcing the annexation of occupied territory and repeatedly threatening to use nuclear weapons to defend Russian land.
This month, Russia started a campaign using long-range cruise missiles and Iranian-made drones to attack Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. (Source: Reuters)
25 Oct 22. U.S. considers HAWK air defense equipment for Ukraine, say U.S. officials. The United States is considering sending older HAWK air defense equipment from storage to Ukraine to help it defend against Russian drone and cruise missile attacks, two U.S. officials told Reuters.
The HAWK interceptor missiles would be an upgrade to the Stinger missile systems – a smaller, shorter range air defense system – that the United States has already sent to blunt Russia’s invasion. The Biden administration would use the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA) to transfer the HAWK equipment which is based on Vietnam-era technology, but has been upgraded several times. The PDA allows the United States to transfer defense articles and services from stocks quickly without congressional approval in response to an emergency.
Reuters was unable to determine how many HAWK systems and missiles the United States has available to transfer. The White House declined to comment.
The HAWK system is the predecessor to PATRIOT missile defense system made by Raytheon Technologies (RTX.N) which remains off the table for Ukraine, U.S. officials have told Reuters.
U.S. President Joe Biden pledged to Ukraine President Volodomyr Zelenskiy that Washington would provide Ukraine with advanced air systems after a devastating missile barrage from Russia earlier this month.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said that Spain intends to send four HAWK launchers.
The United States would likely initially send interceptor missiles for the HAWK system to Ukraine because it was unclear if enough U.S. launchers were in good repair, one U.S. official told Reuters. The U.S. systems have been in storage for decades.
A PDA is being considered for later this week, U.S. officials have said. One U.S. official said it would likely be about half the size of the recent security assistance packages which have been around $700m.
It was not immediately clear if HAWK interceptor missiles would be included, but U.S. officials have previously cautioned that size and composition of military aid packages can change rapidly.
Since the Feb. 24 Russian invasion of neighboring Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”, the United States has sent around $17.6bn worth of security assistance to Kyiv. (Source: Reuters)
24 Oct 22. Iran will not remain indifferent if proven Russia using its drones in Ukraine – official. Iran will not remain indifferent if it is proven that its drones are being used by Russia in the Ukraine war, the Iranian foreign minister said on Monday, amid allegations the Islamic Republic has supplied drones to Moscow to attack Ukraine.
“If it is proven to us that Iranian drones are being used in the Ukraine war against people, we should not remain indifferent,” state media cited Hossein Amirabdollahian as saying.
However, Amirabdollahian said defence cooperation between Tehran and Moscow will continue.
Britain, France and Germany on Friday called for a United Nations probe of accusations Russia has used Iranian-origin drones to attack Ukraine, allegedly violating a U.N. Security Council resolution.
Citing diplomats and officials, Reuters reported last week that in addition to more drones, Iran had promised to provide Russia with surface-to-surface missiles. (Source: Reuters)
24 Oct 22. U.S. liberal Democrats urge Biden to seek negotiated Ukraine settlement. Thirty liberal U.S. congressional Democrats urged President Joe Biden on Monday to shift his strategy for the Russia-Ukraine war by pursuing a negotiated settlement along with his current provision of military and economic support to Kyiv.
“Given the destruction created by this war for Ukraine and the world, as well as the risk of catastrophic escalation, we also believe it is in the interests of Ukraine, the United States, and the world to avoid a prolonged conflict,” the 30 Democratic members of the House of Representatives said in a letter to Biden.
“For this reason, we urge you to pair the military and
economic support the United States has provided to Ukraine with a proactive diplomatic push, redoubling efforts to seek a realistic framework for a ceasefire,” the Democrats’ letter said.
Some Republicans have warned there could be tighter control of funding for Ukraine if their party wins control of Congress.
The letter was led by Representative Pramila Jayapal, who chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Asked for comment, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said: “Right now, we have heard from Ukrainian partners, repeatedly, that this war will only end through diplomacy and dialogue. We have not heard any reciprocal statement or refrain from Moscow that they are ready in good faith to engage in that diplomacy and dialogue.”
Washington has committed about $66bn for Ukraine since Russia invaded it in late February, providing Kyiv with weapons and other military assistance, humanitarian aid and economic support.
The letter comes with just two weeks to go before Nov. 8 U.S. mid-term elections that will determine which party controls Congress.
House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy recently said there will be no “blank check” for Ukraine if Republicans win control of the chamber from Biden’s fellow Democrats, raising concerns that Republicans might choke off Ukraine aid. However, analysts said the party was more likely to slow it down or pare it back. (Source: Reuters)
25 Oct 22. Medical equipment for Ukraine: Rheinmetall subsidiary ZMS supplying state-of-the-art field hospital with support from German government. With backing from the German government, Rheinmetall will soon be supplying the Ukrainian armed forces with a turnkey modern field hospital. The Ukrainian Ministry of Defence awarded the €9 m order to Rheinmetall subsidiary Zeppelin Mobile Systeme GmbH (ZMS) in September 2022. The package includes training on the system. Delivery is scheduled to take place in 2023.
The field hospital is a combined tent and container-based system, including high-quality medical equipment built into ZMS shelters. Rheinmetall is also supplying the tents and necessary infrastructure for autarkic operation.
Among other things, the system includes an emergency room, triage room, operating room, an intensive care unit, computer tomography, a sterilization facility and a pharmacy. It also features tents for administration, care provision, surgery prep, triage, a waiting area and staff accommodation. Moreover, there are support containers for sanitation, transport, potable and non-potable water, oxygen, power supply as well as a decontamination tent. The field hospital is Role 2 standard compliant.
Zeppelin Mobile Systeme GmbH is one of the world’s leading maker of customized individual shelter solutions – mobile functional spaces that create an environment that would otherwise only be possible in permanent structures. Its expertise in creating complete mobile medical care facilities and its ability to integrate the latest medical technology into existing infrastructure feature prominently in the company’s portfolio of innovative systems.
ZMS belongs to Rheinmetall’s new International Projects and Services component, which brings together the Group’s resources and capabilities for supporting military customers during deployed operations, as well as in depot logistics and munitions disposal. Rheinmetall aims to be a one-stop shop in the deployment support market. For example, it plans, erects and operates accommodation billets at forward operating bases. The portfolio also encompasses hardened shelters and sanitation facilities, plus base security surveillance, including state-of-the-art sensors and robotics.
24 Oct 22. DOD Official Says Ukraine Not Preparing to Use Dirty Bomb.
There are reports of Russian allegations that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb in Ukraine. “These allegations are false,” a senior Defense Department official told reporters at the Pentagon today.
“The world would see through any attempt to use this allegation as a pretext for escalation. Notably, however, … we still have seen nothing to indicate that the Russians have made a decision to employ nuclear weapons,” the official said.
The department will continue to monitor the situation closely and keep the lines of communication open between allies, partners, Ukrainians and the Russians, the official said.
“In the meantime, our focus remains on continuing to work with the international community to provide Ukraine with the security assistance and support they need to defend their country,” the official added.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke by phone with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu on Friday and again yesterday.
Friday’s call was initiated by Austin, whereas Sunday’s call was requested by Shoigu as a follow-up to Friday’s discussion, the official said.
Austin also spoke to Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov on Friday and has another call scheduled for later today, the official said.
“You can expect to see a series of phone calls with allies and partners in the days ahead, as well,” the official added.
The Russians continue military strikes across Ukraine, with many appearing to target Ukraine’s power grid, the official said. These strikes have employed various missiles and drones to include Iranian-provided unmanned aerial vehicles.
In the Kharkiv region of northeast Ukraine, Ukrainian forces continue to consolidate their lines in support of their counteroffensive with both sides trading artillery fire, the official said. “We do assess that the Ukrainians have liberated some villages in the region and continue to make advances as they pressure toward the east.”
Russian forces in this area are largely focused on reinforcing their defensive lines, the official noted.
Near the town of Bakhmut in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, fighting remains heavy and dynamic with Russian forces attempting to take the city, which is being contested by Ukrainian forces, the official said.
In the Kherson region of southeast Ukraine, Ukrainian forces continue to make deliberate and calibrated operations in support of their counteroffensive along three main axes, the official said. “We assess that Russian forces are largely digging in to strengthen their defensive lines in this sector.” (Source: US DoD)
22 Oct 22. Misunderstanding: Ukraine expects, but France will not send SAMP/T. French online portal open-news.fr claims that France has no plans to send its SAMP/T Mamba anti-aircraft surface-to-air missile system to Ukraine. The media cited its source in the French Ministry of Defense.
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“According to a MINARM source [the French Ministry of Defense – ed.], there are no plans to send the SAMP/T Mamba to Ukraine. The minister’s words were misunderstood in a recent interview,” the French media reported in a tweet.
Ukraine expected these air defense systems to strengthen its air defense against Russian drones, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles. Ukrainian President Mr. Volodymyr Zelensky expressed similar hopes during the G7 summit in early October [October 10-11]. Then Mr. Zelensky asked his French and Italian colleagues to “speed up the supply of Ukraine SAMP/T SAM.”
However, deliveries of the Crotale air defense system by France have been confirmed. “On the other hand, the Crotale NG sent and taken from our stocks will eventually be replaced by the Mamba,” concluded open-news.fr.
SAMP/T Mamba SAM
The SAMP/T, known to the French military as the Mamba, is the product of joint work between MBDA and Thales. The air defense battery is designed to respond to air threats with a range of 600 km. The SAMP/T is fully compliant with NATO standards and can operate in highly extreme combat conditions. Its transportation is carried out by air with Airbus A400M and Lockheed-Martin C-130J Super Hercules.
SAMP/T is characterized by an extremely fast response. Each battery is equipped with six vertical launchers, each with eight ready-to-fire Aster 30 rockets. It is this type of rocket that is a key component of the French system. In 2013, during a joint exercise between the French and Italian militaries, an Aster 30 intercepted a target presented as a ballistic missile after a 300km flight.
The SAMP/T can fire eight Aster 30 missiles in just 10 seconds. Highly automated and 360º defensive capabilities, the French air defense system would give the desired combat capability and countermeasures to the Ukrainian army.
Ukraine get Crotale NG
On the other hand, what Ukraine receives from France [Crotale] is necessary for defense, but not exactly what Ukrainians urgently need. The Crotale is designed to counter low-flying targets. This is good news for the Ukrainian armed forces, as Russia has stepped up its aggression in recent days, attacking civilian and energy infrastructure sites with stray munitions.
On the other hand, the Crotale takes five minutes to deploy and cannot fire missiles while moving. Years ago Crotale had problems with radar stations, so it is not clear exactly what stations the Ukrainians will receive, or already got. The R440 missile operated by Crotale can engage a target at a height of up to 5km and a radius of up to 10 km.
France is ‘cleaniang up’ obsolete SAM
Ukraine receives from France an air defense system that was developed years ago for the needs of the Republic of South Africa. In the 64th year of the last century, design and prototype work on the creation of the system began, and in the 71st year, the first system was delivered to the RSA. A year later, the French armed forces also began its acquisition.
It can be said that by supplying Crotale to Ukraine, France is “cleaning up” obsolete military equipment, which annually “swallows” finances from the military budget just for maintenance. Support is already difficult to implement due to the outdated technology in the system and the difficulty of updating it to a certain level. (Source: News Now/https://bulgarianmilitary.com/)
23 Oct 22. Weapons shortages could mean hard calls for Ukraine’s allies.
Weapons shortages across Europe could force hard choices for Ukraine’s allies as they balance their support for Ukraine against the risk that Russia could target them next.
For months, the United States and other NATO members have sent bns of dollars worth of weapons and equipment into Ukraine to help it fight back against Russia. But for many of the smaller NATO countries, and even some of the larger ones, the war has strained already-depleted weapons stockpiles. Some allies sent all their reserve Soviet-era weaponry and are now waiting for U.S. replacements.
It can be difficult for some European countries to rapidly resupply because they no longer have a strong defense sector to quickly build replacements, with many relying on a dominant American defense industry that has elbowed out some foreign competitors.
Now they face a dilemma: Do they keep sending their stocks of weapons to Ukraine and potentially increase their own vulnerability to Russian attack or do they hold back what’s left to protect their homeland, risking the possibility that makes a Russian victory in Ukraine more likely?
It’s a tough calculation.
After eight months of intense fighting, the allies expect the war will continue for months, maybe years, with both sides rapidly using up weapons supplies. Victory may come down to who can last longer.
The stockpile strain comes up “all the time,” especially among smaller NATO countries, said Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur of Estonia, a Baltic nation that shares a 183-mile (295-kilometer) border with Russia.
It weighs on them even as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has urged members of the Western alliance, at a recent NATO gathering in Brussels, “to dig deep and provide additional capability” to Ukraine.
European officials, in public comments and interviews with The Associated Press, said Russia must not be allowed to win in Ukraine and that their support will continue. But they stressed that domestic defense is weighing on them all.
“Our estimation is that Russia will restore their capabilities sooner rather than later” because Russian President Vladimir Putin can order weapons makers to go into 24-hour a day production, Pevkur said.
Russia has directed some troops to factories instead of the front line, he said. The minister said Russia has a track record of reconstituting its military so it can launch invasions against European neighbors every few years, citing moves against Georgia in 2008, Ukraine’s Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in 2014 and now all of Ukraine this year.
“So the question is, ‘How much risk are you ready to take?’” Pevkur said at a German Marshall Fund event this past week.
Other smaller nations, such as fellow Baltic state Lithuania, face the same challenges. But so do some larger NATO members, including Germany.
(Source: Defense News Early Bird/Military Times/AP)
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