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13 Sep 23. Russia’s Vladimir Putin sat at the table with G7 leaders. That he is now rolling out the red carpet for North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong Un is a sign of how far he has driven his country into isolation and, no doubt, of its need to top up arms supplies for its disastrous war in Ukraine. Kim has seized the opportunity to lessen his own isolation. The emerging relationship between the two is an ominous development for the US and western allies, for Ukraine, and for stability in Asia. Little was revealed about the talks’ substance. But there are compelling indications that they revolved around a deal for Pyongyang to supply munitions to Moscow in return for material and technological aid. Kim has much to offer. North Korea, whose 1950-53 war with South Korea never officially ended, has a huge stockpile of munitions compatible with Russia’s weapons, and a large production base. Analysts say it could supply not just artillery shells and rockets — which Russia is consuming in Ukraine faster than it can replace them — but armoured vehicles, drones and even short-range ballistic missiles. It can also potentially provide manpower to ease Russian labour shortages caused in part by its military drafts. Russia can offer much-needed grain and crude oil to Pyongyang, though of most interest to Kim is probably technical help in developing weapons, missiles, nuclear submarines and military spy satellites. The Kremlin will surely be wary of helping the capricious North Korean leader get hold of too many dangerous toys. But Kim is well-placed to drive a hard bargain. If even elements of such a deal are done, the implications are profound. It could help Russia if not to make major breakthroughs in Ukraine then at least to sustain its grinding war. South Korea — which has a big stockpile of more advanced weapons — might then be persuaded to donate arms directly to Ukraine, rather than simply “backfill” US reserves being provided to Kyiv. (It has shied away from doing so in part for fear that would prompt Moscow to aid Pyongyang.) This would create linkages between Asian and European military flashpoints thousands of miles apart. An arms deal with Russia would, meanwhile, blow a hole in UN sanctions on North Korea that Moscow voted to support as recently as 2017. Increased military capabilities thanks to Moscow’s help might start to embolden Kim, endangering stability on the Korean peninsula. Collaboration between North Korea and Russia — which has a supposedly “no-limits” partnership with China — could spur Japan and South Korea to deepen their own military co-operation with the US, entrenching a dynamic of opposing blocs in Asia. None of this is likely to please China. Yet while Pyongyang relies heavily on Chinese trade and supplies of food and fuel, limiting any of these would risk undermining Beijing’s strategic priority of preserving stability on the peninsula. Beijing may have some sharp words in private for Russia’s president, and be less willing to help Moscow withstand western sanctions, but may shrink from antagonising what it sees as an ally in countering US clout. The US and its allies will be even more perturbed, but lack tools to influence Russia or North Korea beyond stepping up already extensive sanctions. Washington needs to make doubly clear it is ready to support Ukraine’s military effort for as long as it takes. Despite recent US-China tensions, it should also step up efforts to reach understandings with Beijing on areas of common interest — which ought to include doing whatever might be possible to restrain an increasingly wayward Moscow and Pyongyang. (Source: FT.com)
12 Sep 23. Rheinmetall transfers mobile field hospital to Ukrainian armed forces. Rheinmetall has supplied Ukraine with a mobile field hospital. Just one year ago, in September 2022, the German ministry of defence awarded Group subsidiary Rheinmetall Mobile Systeme GmbH, or RMS, the contract for the hospital and related training support. The order is worth around €9 m.
This state-of-the-art field hospital encompasses 32 beds, including eight intensive care beds, an operating room with associated sterilization facilities, diagnostic imaging technology (x-ray and computer tomography), a laboratory, a pharmacy, and administrative and personnel tracts. It therefore complies with NATO Role 2 medical support standards. In two additional deliveries scheduled for late 2023 and early 2024, RMS will also be supplying Ukraine with two high-mobility medical support facilities.
Besides the field hospital itself, Rheinmetall has also furnished Ukraine with the necessary transport assets. A total of ten truck/trailer combinations carried the twenty containers to their destination.
The hospital is a complete autarkic medical support unit. It not only includes medical modules in expandable containers and tents, but also an independent power generation capability and facilities for producing medical gases. The hospital also features its own water supply, including treatment and decontamination as well as billets with sanitation modules for patients and personnel. The high quality of the system is apparent in the exacting details. For example, the water supply network is heated and the sensitive computer tomograph in the container is spring loaded with an elaborate transport system. It can therefore be safely transported by land, sea or air, and is ready to operate upon arrival. Designed for maximum operational mobility, all of the systems and equipment in the hospital can be reused repeatedly.
As RMS managing director Hauke Bindzus explains, “What sets us apart from other contractors isn’t just our experience. It’s our attention to detail when it comes to combining the individual components, and especially our focus on ergonomics and system resilience. We enable our partners to provide top-quality medical care in a truly mobile system.”
The transfer of the mobile field hospital was a two-step operation: first, ten Ukrainian soldiers took part in a 14-day training course to learn how to assemble and disassemble and operate the hospital. The formal handover to Ukraine then took place at a specified location.
RMS staff members trained the Ukrainian troops in a trade fair hall in Friedrichshafen in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. Half the Ukrainian team already had a medical background, the other half, prior technical training. To take part in the two-week course, they travelled directly from their area of operations in Ukraine to Germany.
In the words of Hauke Bindzus, “We kept our word and have supplied the Ukrainian military with a major first-class field hospital at extremely short notice. The men and women of our company and those of our partners demonstrated outstanding commitment in carrying out this project. We never forgot for a single day how important a speedy delivery was. This system will hopefully save many lives in Ukraine. We are proud to be contributing our special capabilities to Rheinmetall’s support for Ukraine.”
11 Sep 23. Ukraine closes in on Donetsk airport. Ukraine has come within a couple of miles of retaking an airport it lost to Russian-backed separatists forces in 2015 after making gains in the east, it has been claimed.
Hanna Maliar, a deputy Ukrainian defence minister, said troops had captured part of the village of Opytne in Donetsk.
The village lies just two miles from the region’s international airport, which Kyiv’s troops were forced to retreat from after two battles.
Kyiv also claimed to have made other gains in Donetsk, reportedly retaking two square kilometres in the direction of Bakhmut in the last week.
Ms Maliar said forces had seen “some success” around Klishchiivka and Andriivka, two settlements to the south of the besieged city it is attempting to encircle.
Russian military bloggers reported that Moscow’s forces had been forced to “withdraw” near Andriivka following Ukrainian offensives. (Source: Daily Telegraph)
11 Sep 23. Rheinmetall to supply Ukraine with a further 40 Marder infantry fighting vehicles. The German government has commissioned Rheinmetall to supply 40 more Marder infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine. Placed in August 2023, the order is worth a high double-digit m-euro amount. Rheinmetall is pressing ahead with work to overhaul these older vehicles and ensure that the latest lot of Marder IFVs can be delivered as per contract starting in 2023.
This order brings the total number of Marder vehicles to be supplied by Rheinmetall to Ukraine to eighty. On 21 March 2023 the company already shipped the first twenty infantry fighting vehicles ordered by the German government for Ukraine. In addition, another twenty Rheinmetall IFVs were ordered in June 2023. These are currently being overhauled and delivered.
The vehicles being made available are overhauled Marder 1A3 systems formerly owned by the Bundeswehr. As early as spring 2022, Rheinmetall began restoring the infantry fighting vehicles to a state of immediate combat readiness at its own expense.
Work is already underway at Rheinmetall’s plants in Kassel and Unterlüß. The Group can deliver up to ten infantry fighting vehicles a month.
Developed for the Bundeswehr and still in service with the German Army, the Marder infantry fighting vehicle numbers among the most reliable weapons systems of its kind anywhere. Steadily modernized, the vehicle has undergone repeated combat upgrades in the course of its career.
09 Sep 23. UK donation of hydrographic equipment keeps Ukrainian waters safe. The UK Hydrographic Office has donated survey equipment and cartographic software to Ukraine to support safer navigation in the area and keep waters safe
The UK Hydrographic Office, an agency of the MoD, has donated £1.6 m worth of equipment to the State Hydrographic Service of Ukraine, helping to keep the seas around Ukraine safe and support commercial shipping amid ongoing Russian attacks.
The equipment – which includes two full Single Beam Echo Sounder systems and two Multibeam Echo Sounder systems – will be used to carry out hydrographic surveys.
These surveys collect accurate data of the seabed and marine environment. The data can then be processed and used to produce and maintain nautical charts and navigational information to support safer navigation in the area.
Baroness Goldie, Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence, said: “This donation shows the UK’s unwavering support for Ukraine. In addition to this equipment, the UK Government has provided Ukraine with missiles, ammunition, drones and we’ve trained over 20,000 Ukrainian personnel.
The equipment provided by the UK Hydrographic Office will contribute to the protection of ports and shipping lanes, helping Ukraine’s ships stay safe so they can move goods, including food supplies, in and out of the country. The equipment enables production of navigational information and nautical charts containing safety information. Vessels moving through Ukrainian waters can use this to plan a safe route, including through any humanitarian grain corridor.”
Along with the equipment and software, the State Hydrographic Service of Ukraine has been offered training on specialist courses delivered by the UK Hydrographic Office and the Royal Navy. The training will help develop the necessary skills to effectively use the donated equipment.
Peter Sparkes, Chief Executive, UK Hydrographic Office, said: “The UK Hydrographic Office is steadfast in our support to our Ukrainian colleagues, and to the mariners and people of Ukraine. This donation will give the State Hydrographic Service of Ukraine the necessary tools and training to maintain their international responsibilities as a coastal state through this challenging period.”
About the UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO)
The UKHO is a leading centre for hydrography, providing marine geospatial data to inform maritime decisions. We work with a wide range of data suppliers and partners to support maritime navigation, safety, security, and marine development around the UK and worldwide.
We make location-based information available through ADMIRALTY Maritime Data Solutions, our world-leading range of charts, publications, and custom data sets. Our use of marine data and technology, combined with our expertise, ensures we continue to innovate and provide a wider range of solutions.
We source, process, and provide access to location-based information, ranging from seabed to surface. This enables our partner organisations to make critical maritime decisions – informing the sustainable use and management of the marine environment and supporting the development of the blue economy. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
09 Sep 23. Germany’s defence procurement chief has said her agency is “unleashing” itself from the shackles of bureaucracy as Europe’s largest nation strives to overhaul its neglected armed forces in response to the Ukraine war. Annette Lehnigk-Emden, who was appointed in April to lead the directorate charged with spending €100bn on upgrading military equipment, said she aimed to deliver a dramatic “cultural change” to hasten the process of buying weapons and ammunition. Lehnigk-Emden, whose agency has a central role in enacting Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s promise of a “sea change” in Germany’s approach to security and defence following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, said her agency was pushing back against excessive regulation and complex requests from the military. The shift, she told the Financial Times, was about “encouraging people to become courageous, to make decisions . . . and make projects go faster” at all levels of the sprawling 11,000-strong organisation. “Suddenly projects that were planned for 2028 can suddenly be delivered in 2025 or 2026.” Lehnigk-Emden, a lawyer who has spent three decades as a defence official, was tasked with heading the armed force’s Koblenz-based procurement office by defence minister Boris Pistorius as part of a broader shake-up of the German armed forces. Two days after Vladimir Putin launched Russia’s attack on Ukraine in February 2022, Alfons Mais, head of the German armed forces, said “the army is more or less bare.” The military has long been plagued by shortages ranging from basic personal equipment for troops to a lack of functioning heavy weapons and ammunition, and its procurement process has sometimes been described by experts as farcical. A helicopter division was forced to wait nine years for the approval of a new flight helmet with ballistic protection — a commercially available product that it first requested in 2013, according to a recent parliamentary report. In another instance, the report said, the Bundeswehr had been kept waiting since 2011 for a testing kit for nerve agents. Lehnigk-Emden said her agency had suffered in the past from “a lot of time and little money”, adding that the approach neglected off-the-shelf solutions that would have been simpler and quicker to deliver. Under Pistorius, who became defence minister in January following the resignation of his gaffe-prone and unenthusiastic predecessor Christine Lambrecht, “people have started thinking in a new way, they are planning projects differently”, Lehnigk-Emden said. Even after Scholz’s promise of a Zeitenwende or “turning point” in German defence policy, the chancellor has faced criticism over the pace of change and lack of resources. Speaking in the Bundestag this week, Friedrich Merz, leader of the opposition Christian Democrats, said the chancellor was “not doing justice” to his pledge and warned that the defence budget would face significant shortfalls in the years ahead. Eva Högl, parliamentary commissioner for the armed forces, complained in March that, even if some orders had been placed, “not a cent” from the €100bn special fund for equipping the military had been drawn down in 2022. Lehnigk-Emden differentiated between signing contracts and money flowing out. But she said her agency will have allocated about €60bn of the €100bn fund by the end of this year, with major deals including contracts to buy US-made F-35 fighter jets and Chinook heavy transport helicopters, and the Israeli Arrow 3 missile defence system. She stressed that, despite the drive for faster decision-making, her agency still faced other constraints. They included the need to secure parliamentary approval for any defence spending over €25mn — a postwar law to prevent the military from gaining the power it had accrued under Nazi rule. Lehnigk-Emden said she and her colleagues were “gobsmacked” by the arrest last month of a military officer working for her agency on the accusation of spying for Russia. She said she had no further details on what he was accused of or what kind of information he had been able to access. (Source: FT.com)
08 Sep 23. Are Western allies shifting the content of Ukraine war support? Not since 25 July has the US Department of Defense included armour in its equipment provision announcements. More than 560 days since the large-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia, with both sides having sustained hundreds of thousands of human and materiel casualties and slow progress being made in Kyiv’s long-awaited counteroffensive in the southeast, a definitive end to hostilities in the Ukraine-Russia war remains elusive.
From the early provision of anti-tank munitions, such as the UK’s NLAW, to the subsequent arming of the Ukrainian military under a combined armed doctrine to include artillery, guided rockets, armoured personnel carrier, infantry fighting vehicles, and main battle tanks, to Kyiv, the conflict has seen ever-greater commitments from Nato in its support of Ukraine’s fight against Russia.
Significant quantities of Western-provided armoured vehicles, such as the US Bradley IFVs and European Leopard 1 and Leopard 2 tanks, have been destroyed in the early phases of Ukraine’s counteroffensive as it tried to implement a traditional combined-arms approach. The first of the UK’s Challenger 2 tanks provided to Ukraine was also recently destroyed, immobilised in a mine strike and subsequently destroyed by a Russian loitering munition.
Ukraine’s military appears to have returned to what it knows best, dismounting personnel to mitigate the impact of Russia’s huge minefields created in southeastern areas of the country.
However, despite incremental progress achieved by the Ukrainian military in its summer/autumn counteroffensive, with apparent breakthroughs near Robotyne of the first layers of Russia’s defensive lines, the focus for Western support appears to be moving forward to one of containment as recent commitments lean more towards the provision of artillery shells and ammunition, than armoured vehicle replacements.
The latest US Department of Defense (DoD) security assistance package announcement on 9 September, worth up to $600m, includes additional ammunition for the HIMARS guided rocket system, 105mm artillery rounds, equipment to sustain and integrate Ukraine’s air defence systems, electronic warfare and counter-electronic warfare equipment, demolition munitions for obstacle clearing, and mine clearing equipment.
A previous announcement on 6 September, worth up to $175m, included HIMARS ammunition, 155mm and 105mm artillery rouds, 81mm mortar systems and rounds, 120mm depleted uranium tank ammunition, Tube-Launched Optically-Tracked Wire-Guided (TOW) missiles, Javelin and AT-4 anti-armour systems, and over three m rounds of small arms ammunition.
The next most recent announcement, on 29 August, committed HIMARS ammunition, 155mm and 105mm artillery rounds, TOW missiles, Javelin and other anti-armour systems and rockets, Hydra-70 rockets, and over three m rounds of small arms ammunition. A 14 August announcement disclosed the supply of 105mm and 155m artillery shells, along with HIMARS ammunition, to Ukraine.
Not since 25 July, where the DoD committed to the provision of 32 Stryker armoured vehicles, has there been any mention of armour provision to Kyiv. An earlier $1.9bn commitment again made no mention of armour, focussing on artillery ammunition and air defence missile systems.
In context, these commitment have come in a period of some of the most intense combined arms armour operations seen in Europe since the Second World War.
The scale of loss in a state-on-state combat operations
Reporting around the one-year anniversary of Russia’s large-scale invasion put combined losses at around 300,000 human military casualties, with GlobalData analysis indicating that up to December 2022, the combined Ukraine-Russia equipment loss was ten times that sustained during Moscow’s cumulative loss during both Chechen Wars in the 1990s and early 2000s, with over 11,000 systems destroyed.
Western officials recently put Russia’s personnel losses, those killed in action and wounded, at around 270,000, representing a huge portion of the country’s one-m-plus army. Tens of thousands of Russian citizens have been mobilised to plug gaps in the lines and constitute units have that been decimated through full-scale combat operations.
As of 5 September, Ukraine was claiming the that its forces had destroyed more than 20,000 pieces of Russian military equipment, ranging from main battle tanks, artillery, guided rocket launchers, infantry fighting vehicles, as well as thousands of tactical level uncrewed aerial vehicles.
Despite successfully stopping the Russian advance through to Kyiv and managing to hold Moscow’s advance in the south and east of the country and the provision of combined Nato and supporter nation equipment donations worth tens of bns of dollars, Ukrainian forces have made slow progress during their ongoing summer counteroffensive.
Ukrainian personnel losses are thought to be similar to those of Russia’s, with around 100,000 casualties sustained in the first year of operations. However, recent months will have been more attritional, with a corresponding increase in losses of personnel and materiel.
The nature of Ukraine’s advance near Robotyne, where its forces have broken through the dense network of Russian minefields, offer a positive note that its political leaders can take to capitals in Europe and North America when it comes to maintaining Western support.
External factors to Ukraine-Russia war
There is concern that war fatigue could set in among European capitals, with military stockpiles already hugely reduced, leaving little capacity left to renew previous commitments of armoured vehicles and other war materiel. Already, the EDA has committed to a continent-wide manufacturing plan of 155mm artillery shells to renew stockpiles, with tens of thousands of shells having previously been committed to Ukraine by European countries.
The UK is also thought to be undergoing an intensive programme of munition replenishment, focusing on artillery shells, and systems such as the NLAW anti-tank missile. Across Europe, industry has struggled with the reality of military demand that a state-on-state war puts on its complex, with capacity issues and Covid-related supply chain issues hampering production.
Russian President Vladmir Putin will also be eyeing the 2024 US presidential election, with the prospect of a return of former president Donald Trump, whose mistrust of multinationalism and alliances such as Nato, resulting in the negation of support to Ukraine from Washington. The US has committed by far the most in terms of finances and resources to Ukraine (valued in excess of $43bn), although it has leaned heavily on its European Nato partners to fulfill the provision of ‘escalatory’ weapon systems such as cruise missiles, tanks, and F-16 fighters.
There is likely concern in European capitals regarding the outcome of next year’s US elections, far more so than those due in the UK, where the opposition Labour Party has committed itself to Ukraine’s cause should it be returned to power in the 2024 General Election. By the end of 2023, the UK will have committed some £4.6bn ($5.74bn) in support to Ukraine, and hollowed out its own land force structure in the process.
The end game for Russia, apparently unable to inflict an immediate regime change in Kyiv and install its own puppet authority, will likely be centred onto holding onto what it has, in the hope of political tides turning its way in 2024, and the grudging acceptance among Western countries that it’s annexation of occupied areas of Ukraine creates a new de-facto border.
Pledged US Abrams M1A1 tanks have also still not arrived in theatre, despite the commitment being made at the start of the year and even then, watered down from providing the more advanced A2 variant. Barring a general collapse of Russian forces along the front, Western allies appear to have accepted that the 19-month-long war will still be running by the time dawn breaks on 2024.
For the Western allies, key questions will then dictate the likely outcome of the war, including the US elections, the will of a European population struggling with inflation and rising prices caused by the conflict, and whether Nato can again re-equip and re-arm Ukraine with the platforms it needs to embark on a 2024 offensive.
With combined military losses potentially in the 400,000 area, and two militaries devastated through months of full-scale combat operations, the measure of support each can extract from allies – Ukraine leaning west to Europe and the US, Russia eastwards to China, Iran, and North Korea – will be the determining factor in 2024 should Kyiv be unable to force a strategic breakthrough and defeat of Moscow this year. (Source: army-technology.com)
08 Sep 23. BAE Systems could be helping local partners in Ukraine produce spare parts for its light artillery within “months”, its chief executive has said, as western defence contractors consider setting up manufacturing facilities in the country. Europe’s biggest defence contractor announced last week it had set up a legal entity in Ukraine and was exploring potential local partners after a meeting between chief executive Charles Woodburn and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy. BAE already makes much of the equipment and weapons donated by western governments to Ukraine’s armed forces, including the M109 self-propelled howitzers, the M777 artillery piece and the truck-mounted Archer system, which it manufactures in Sweden. Woodburn said the Ukrainians already have an industrial base but they are “keen to put themselves on to a bit more of a path to self-sufficiency”. The country had historically built Soviet-era equipment but wanted to “move that towards making Nato-standard equipment”, Woodburn said at a Royal United Services Institute event on Thursday. The manufacture of spare parts for BAE’s 105mm light gun being used in the war by Ukrainians using the country’s domestic facilities could be done “in months from here”, he said, the first time the company has mentioned a timeframe. Production of the light gun is seen as a potential precursor for other more complex weapons, but a decision on whether and when to establish a local factory would take time, according to BAE. The UK company is not the only western defence company deepening its ties in Ukraine amid signs that the war will drag on. German tank manufacturer Rheinmetall announced in May that it had formed a “strategic partnership” with Kyiv-owned defence contractor Ukroboronprom. The joint venture’s initial focus will be on repairing military vehicles — both Leopards and Panthers donated by the west as well as old Soviet models — returned from the front line. An unspecified “later phase” will include making “select Rheinmetall products”, it said at the time. The head of Rheinmetall’s land systems division, Björn Bernhard, told German public broadcaster NDR in August that it had sent its first employees to Ukraine, kick-starting the partnership. Bernhard confirmed the final goal of the collaboration was for Rheinmetall to build a plant in Ukraine, adding that this “focus” was likely to come after the war. Recommended War in Ukraine Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russia in maps — latest updates The Swedish government recently agreed with Ukraine to look at potential co-operation over time on the servicing and production of CV90 armoured vehicles which are made by BAE’s Swedish venture. Western contractors’ interest in Ukraine is not without risks. BAE’s decision to set up a base in the country triggered a robust response from Russia, with the Kremlin warning that the deployment of weapons production facilities “will certainly not contribute to defusing tensions and resolving the conflict”. “Of course, any weapons production facilities, especially if these weapons are fired at us, they become an object of special attention for our military,” said Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov last week. (Source: FT.com)
09 Sep 23. US must speed up delivery of fighter jets to Ukraine, former general insists. David Petraeus says Washington should get aircraft ‘into the arsenal’ soon and stop ‘dithering’ over sending missiles to Kyiv. America must send long-range missiles and speed up the delivery of fighter jets to Ukraine, one of the West’s most experienced commanders told The Telegraph.
Retired four-star general David Petraeus, who led coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Washington and other Western governments had to “get past” attempts to block Kyiv from vital aid.
He said the US should end its opposition to sending the Army Tactical Missile System (Atacms), which has a range of nearly 200 miles, while other leaders should increase their own long-range support.
His intervention came as Ukraine edged closer to breaking through Russia’s three-tiered defensive system, giving its forces a clearer route to the Azov coast as they bid to drive a wedge between Moscow’s occupying forces.
Severing communication and supply lines between Russian forces in the south and east is seen as a key objective of Ukraine’s long-heralded counter-offensive.
General Petraeus, who commanded the 2007 surge of US troops into Iraq, said Kyiv could “change the dynamics” of the war if it proved able to cut the land bridge they have established between the Crimean Peninsula and other occupied territory.
But he implied Washington was undermining those prospects by dithering over certain decisions, including on Atacms, which can be fired from the Himars rocket launcher system already supplied to Ukraine’s armed forces. (Source: Daily Telegraph)
08 Sep 23. Musk says he refused Kyiv request for Starlink use in attack on Russia. Elon Musk said he refused a Ukrainian request to activate his Starlink satellite network in Crimea’s port city of Sevastopol last year to aid an attack on Russia’s fleet there, saying he feared complicity in a “major” act of war.
The bnaire businessman made the comment on his social media platform X after CNN cited a excerpt from a new biography of Musk that says he ordered the Starlink network turned off near the Crimean coast last year to disrupt the Ukrainian sneak attack.
In the post on X – formerly known as Twitter – late on Thursday, Musk said he had no choice but to reject an emergency request from Ukraine “to activate Starlink all the way to Sevastopol.” He did not give the date of the request and the excerpt did not specify it.
“The obvious intent being to sink most of the Russian fleet at anchor,” Musk wrote. “If I had agreed to their request, then SpaceX would be explicitly complicit in a major act of war and conflict escalation.”
Russia, which seized the strategic Crimea peninsula in 2014, bases its Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol and has used the fleet in a de factor blockade of Ukrainian ports since its full-scale invasion in 2022.
The Russian fleet fires cruise missiles at Ukrainian civilian targets, and Kyiv has launched attacks on Russian ships using maritime drones.
According to CNN, Walter Isaacson’s new biography “Elon Musk,” to be released by Simon & Schuster on Tuesday, says that when Ukrainian explosive-laden submarine drones last year approached the Russian fleet, they “lost connectivity and washed ashore harmlessly.”
It said Musk’s decision, which left Ukrainian officials begging him to turn the satellites back on, was driven by an acute fear that Russia would respond to a Ukrainian attack with nuclear weapons.
CNN said that according to the biography, this was based on Musk’s conversations with senior Russian officials and his fears of a “mini-Pearl Harbor.”
In August, a Russian warship was seriously damaged in a Ukrainian naval drone attack on Russia’s Black Sea navy base at Novorossiysk, the first time the Ukrainian navy has projected its power so far from the country’s shores.
SpaceX, through private donations and under a separate contract with a U.S. foreign aid agency, has been providing Ukrainians and the country’s military with Starlink internet service, a fast-growing network of more than 4,000 satellites in low Earth orbit, since the beginning of the war in 2022.
The Pentagon said in June that SpaceX’s Starlink had a Department of Defense contract to buy satellite services for Ukraine.
Commenting on the reports on Ukrainian national television, Vadym Skybytskyi, an officer in the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s Intelligence Directorate GUR, did not directly address whether Musk had declined Ukraine’s request. But he said it was necessary to investigate and to “appoint a specific group to examine what happened.”
A Pentagon spokesperson declined to comment on Musk’s decision but said, “The Department continues to work closely with commercial industry to ensure we have the right capabilities the Ukrainians need to defend themselves.” (Source: Reuters)
08 Sep 23. France Delivers 150 Delair Drones to Ukraine. French drone manufacturer Delair sent Ukraine over 150 drones financed by France’s government, Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu reported on Sept. 6.
Ukraine selected the drones itself, Lecornu said, without specifying the model.
Delair, one of the world’s leading drone producers headquartered in Toulouse, France, offers fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicles for border surveillance, reconnaissance, intelligence, etc.
According to the company’s website, their drones have been used by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Ukraine, local military forces in Niger and the French army.
Earlier, President Volodymyr Zelensky said that France had joined the international coalition to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets.
During a Sept. 3 phone call, Zelensky and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron discussed Ukraine’s military needs and France’s potential participation in strengthening security in Odessa Oblast. (Source: UAS VISION/ Kyiv Independent)
09 Sep 23. Russia ramps up artillery production but still falling short, Western official says. Russia may be able to increase production of artillery in the next couple years to about 2 m shells annually, about double some previous Western expectations but still far short of Moscow’s Ukraine war needs, a Western official said on Friday.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, estimated Russia fired between 10 m and 11 m rounds last year in Ukraine. Moscow launched its invasion in February 2022.
“That’s the predicament they’ve got,” the official told a small group of reporters.
“If you expended 10 m rounds last year and you’re in the middle of a fight and you can only produce 1 to 2 m rounds a year, I don’t think that’s a very strong position.”
Other Russia investments in its defense sector may also allow Moscow to produce close to 200 tanks a year, double some previous Western estimates, the official said. But that too, the official said, was a far cry from what it needs after suffering heavy losses in Ukraine. (Source: Reuters)
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