Sponsored by Exensor
Military And Security Developments
13 Oct. 23
- BAKHMUT: On 12 October, the Ukrainian General Staff reported that its forces have achieved unspecified success east of Klishchiivka and Andriivka, around four miles (6km) south of Bakhmut. Spokesperson for Ukraine’s Eastern Grouping of Forces Ilya Yevlash claimed that Ukrainian forces have advanced several hundred metres in the area, though we cannot confirm this at present. Yet despite any modest Ukrainian progress, the mounting Russian offensive to the south around Avdiivka is likely to put additional pressure on Ukrainian counter-offensive operations around Bakhmut. The advisor to the head of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR), Yan Gagin, claimed earlier on 13 October that Ukrainian forces are transferring reserves from the Bakhmut direction southwards to Avdiivka. While we cannot confirm this, the size of Russia’s Avdiivka offensive is highly likely to prompt additional Ukrainian reinforcements.
- DONETSK: For analysis on the Russian Avdiivka offensive, please see FORECAST below.
- OSKIL-KREMINNA: Geolocated footage from 12 October shows that Russian forces made marginal gains south-west of Orlyanka, located around 13.6 miles (22km) east of Kupiansk. On 12 October, the Ukrainian administration head of Luhansk oblast, Artem Lysohor, stated that Russian forces are intensifying operations in the Serebrianske forest, located around six miles (10km) south-west of Kreminna. Eastern Grouping of Forces spokesperson Ilya Yevlash stated on 11 October that Russia is concentrating forces in the Serebrianske forest area as well as near Makiivka and Nevske, located around 14 miles (22km) and 11 miles (18km) north-west of Kreminna, respectively.
- SOUTHERN: Ukrainian forces have continued counter-offensive operations along the southern axis, though they have only made marginal advances in recent days. The Ukrainian General Staff reported on 12 October that its forces have improved their tactical positions to the west of Robotyne. However, any advances here are likely to be limited. Meanwhile, Russian forces continue to launch counter-attacks along various points of the southern axis, including further east; Russian sources claim their forces successfully repelled numerous Ukrainian attacks.
- STRIKES: Earlier on 13 October, the UK’s Defence Intelligence (DI) reported that Russian Long Range Aviation (LRA) aircraft have not conducted missile strikes (including Kh-38 cruise missile strikes) since 21 September. In the spring, Russia halted strikes for 51 days, likely due to the depletion of its Kh-38 missile stocks. DI assesses that the recent break, which has lasted 21 days, likely aims to preserve and increase existing missile stocks for Russia’s upcoming winter strike campaign against Ukraine.
- STRIKES: Russia’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) reported that its air defences intercepted two Ukrainian drones over Belgorod and Bryansk oblasts (both Russia) earlier on 13 October. The Russian MoD also reported that on the evening of 12 October, two drones were shot down over both oblasts.
- MARITIME: Earlier on 13 October, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) claimed that an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) attacked a Russian Bukov-class Prokject 22160 patrol ship (the Pavel Derzhavin) in the vicinity of Sevastopol (Crimea); this marks the latest attack against Russia’s Black Sea Fleet (BSF). Various sources have indicated that an explosion underneath the ship damaged its rudder. Kyiv claims the vessel was ‘blown up’ by a ‘sea baby drone with experimental weapons’. Ukraine’s offensive capabilities continue to increase in the Black Sea; the latest attack highlights its growing anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) strategy, which will likely reduce the Black Sea Fleet’s surface capabilities and room for manoeuvre.
- DIPLOMACY: Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan) on 12 October and met with his Kyrgyz counterpart Sadyr Japarov ahead of a Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) summit. The visit marks Putin’s first international trip since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant against him in March.
- DIPLOMACY: The Moscow Times reported earlier on 13 October that an unnamed Russian government official revealed that the Russian special services discussed anti-drone protection measures and mobile communication restrictions with the Kyrgyz authorities in order to ensure Putin’s safety. An insider allegedly close to the Kremlin stated that these measures were among the preconditions for Putin’s visit. The Kyrgyz capital’s cellular network was reportedly cut out on 12 October as Putin arrived, causing widespread internet outages. Meanwhile, the Kyrgyz authorities asked the capital’s residents not to drive their vehicles in the city or near Japarov’s presidential residence during Putin’s visit. While the visit is highly likely an attempt to strengthen Russia’s waning influence in Central Asia, the extensive security measures underscore the concerns for his safety even in countries deemed to be traditionally allied with Moscow. Security is similarly likely to be heightened in Beijing (China) during the Belt and Road (B&R) forum on 17-18 October, which Putin will attend. Travel disruption and the deployment of additional law enforcement personnel are possible.
- DIPLOMACY: On 12 October, the Kremlin press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, praised plans to create a joint Russian-Kyrgyz air defence system in Kyrgyzstan. The Central Asian state’s parliament ratified an agreement on 11 October to create the system. According to the agreement, a plot of land at the Kant Russian military base in northern Kyrgyzstan, close to the border with Kazakhstan, will be used to develop the initiative. While Russia has similar agreements with other allied countries (such as Belarus, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan), the latest development underscores Moscow’s efforts to bolster its defence and security partnership with Bishkek, even at a time when Russia likely lacks spare air defence capabilities to divert from the war in Ukraine.
- SANCTIONS: On 12 October, the US Treasury Department imposed the first sanctions to target owners of tankers carrying Russian oil priced above the G7’s price cap of USD 60 per barrel (pb). The measures targeted the Turkey-based Ice Pearl Navigation SA and its Yasa Golden Bosphorus tanker, which reportedly transported Russian Eastern Siberia Pacific Oil (ESPO) priced above USD 80 pb after the cap entered into force last December. The Treasury also imposed measures against the UAE-based Lumber Marine SA, the owner of the SCF Primorye. The Treasury said the vessel carried Novy Port Russian crude priced above USD 75 pb. The SCF Primorye and the Yasa Golden Bosphorus allegedly conducted port calls in Russia and used US-based service providers while transporting the Russian-origin oil. Further actions to reduce Moscow’s ability to profit from its oil trade and to enforce compliance vis-à-vis the price cap are likely in the coming months.
- ECONOMY: On 12 October, a Ukrainian media outlet published a survey assessing the impact of Ukrainian emigration on businesses. The survey reveals that businesses fear labour shortages will be a key long-term risk. While only 24% of the surveyed companies are currently experiencing a shortage of workers, employment vacancies in September reportedly reached their highest level since the beginning of the war. According to the survey, 70% of Ukrainian migrants are employed. While 63% of Ukrainian migrants reportedly want to return to Ukraine, 29% are considering returning at the end of 2024. Therefore, Ukrainians living and working abroad are unlikely to return to Ukraine in the short-term; this will compound domestic labour issues. Furthermore, Kyiv’s growing need to recruit more personnel to continue fighting in the highly attritional war will likely deter draftable Ukrainians from returning. Ultimately, emigration and conscription will likely worsen labour shortages in the medium term, driving longer-term socio-economic health risks and business recruitment issues.
OFFENSIVES: Russia is committing a significant amount of its forces to the ongoing offensive around Avdiivka (Donetsk oblast), which began on 10 October. Earlier on 13 October, Vitaliy Barabash, the head of the Ukrainian Avdiivka military administration, stated that Russian forces have intensified shelling and are trying to advance with the support of armoured vehicles. The overall size of the offensive, which includes a significant concentration of armoured vehicles and rotary-wing aircraft, points to a genuine attempt by Russian forces to encircle the town, though it remains unclear whether they will be able to do so.
Geolocated footage from 11 and 12 October shows that Russian troops advanced south and west of Kranohorivka, located around three miles (5km) north of Avdiivka; it also shows that they advanced south of the E-50 highway, located around one mile (1.6km) south of Avdiivka’s southern outskirts. Russian sources claimed on 11 and 12 October that their forces captured a portion of the railway south of Avdiivka; they reportedly occupied a dominant position near the Avdiivka coke plant, and also entered Stepove, located three miles (5km) north-west of Avdiivka. While such claims have yet to be corroborated, the volume of reporting indicates that Russian forces are at the very least making marginal advances at various points around the flanks of Avdiivka.
Despite moderate Russian advances, it is not obvious that Russian forces are in a position to encircle the city imminently. Conservative estimates indicate that since 10 October, Russian forces have captured 1.75 square miles (4.52 sq km). Russian troops are likely located around two miles (3.3km) from Ukrainian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) along the O0562 highway in the south and around three miles (5.2km) from the north of Avdiivka. Russian sources also acknowledged that Russian advances remain slow.
An OSINT source indicated on 12 October that Ukrainian forces have highly likely destroyed 33 armoured vehicles and 15 tanks since 10 October near Avdiivka. Geolocated footage shows that Russia has lost around a battalion tactical group (BTG)’s worth of armoured vehicles since the offensive began, underscoring the high attritional rate. Such losses challenge recent Russian claims that ongoing operations in the sector demonstrate that they have ‘learned lessons’ from previous failed offensives. However, the Russian command is reportedly committing additional forces to the sector, indicating a determination to continue attacking in a bid to either encircle the city or force Ukraine to draw off reinforcements.
Russian media recently reported that three Wagner Group assault detachments have left Africa to fight in Avdiivka, though these reports cannot be verified. Citing unspecified ‘military experts’, the Russian news outlet MK.RU claimed that the detachments’ first task will be to capture Avdiivka; it reported that if the city is seized, the son of former Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, Pavel, will possibly have the opportunity to create ‘Wagner Group 2.0’. While the report remains unconfirmed, there is a realistic possibility that especially capable Wagner Group forces will be deployed to Avdiivka in to bolster the chances of the town’s encirclement; the timeline for any such deployments remains unclear.
- BAKHMUT: Ukrainian forces continued to carry out offensive operations along the Bakhmut axis over the past 24 hours, though claims of success cannot be confirmed. The Ukrainian General Staff reported earlier on 12 October that its forces achieved unspecified ‘success’ in eastern Andriivka, located around six miles (10km) south-west of Bakhmut, as well as in Klishchiivka, located around four miles (7km) south-west of the city. We cannot confirm these claims at present. Additionally, at least one Russian milblogger claimed earlier on 12 October that Russian counter-attacks are ongoing near both settlements and that Ukrainian positions are under fire (again, near both settlements).
- DONETSK: Geolocated footage from 11 October shows that Russian forces made advances to the south and west of Kransohorivka, as well as to the south-east of Siverne; these areas are located five miles (8km) to the north-west and four miles (6km) to the west of Avdiivka, respectively. On 11 October, Russian sources claimed the advances reflect a range of tactical adaptations including better use of counter-battery and electronic warfare, as well as improved co-ordination between commanders and various units committed to this sector. While such claims likely illustrate tactical-level adaptations of Russian operations, advances in this sector are unlikely to result in the encirclement and capture of Avdiivka. Although this highly fortified settlement holds significant symbolic value, particularly for Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) forces, we continue to assess that Russia’s goal in the sector is to fix Ukrainian forces and prevent their transfer to other sections of the front.
- OSKIL-KREMINNA: Ukrainian Eastern Grouping of Forces spokesperson Ilya Yevlash claimed that Russian forces launched 30 assaults on 11 October in the Kupiansk and Lyman directions. Yevlash also claimed that Russia is transferring military personnel and equipment to this sector. According to Yevlash, Russia’s goal is to capture Kupiansk and to open a land corridor to the Oskil River. He also stressed that Russian operations are concentrated near Ivanivka and Synkivka, located around 12 miles (20km) east and five miles (8km) north-east of Kupiansk, respectively. On 11 October, a Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces advanced more than half a mile (1km) in the direction of Synkivka and nearly a mile (1.5km) towards Ivanivka and Kyslivka. On 12 October, the miblogger claimed that Russian forces captured Ukrainian positions along the Synkivka-Ivanivka-Kyslivka line. While we cannot confirm these claims, they underscore an uptick in Russian operations in this sector, where we maintain that Moscow’s goal is likely to fix Ukrainian forces.
- SOUTHERN: Ukrainian counter-offensive operations and Russian defence operations remained broadly on trend over the past 24 hours, with neither side achieving confirmed advances. Both the Ukrainian General Staff and Tavriisk Group Commander Brigadier Oleksandr Tarnavskyi claimed that Ukrainian forces improved their tactical positions in the area west of Robotyne, though we cannot confirm these assertions. Ukrainian and Russian sources claimed that their forces repelled attacks in western Donetsk oblast and in border areas straddling Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia oblasts. A Ukrainian milblogger reported that Russian forces achieved partial success along the Pryyutne-Zavitne Bazhannia sector. While they pushed Ukrainian forces further back from Pryutnee, located around 11 miles (18km) south-west of Velyka Novosilka, they failed to make any other notable advances.
- STRIKES: Overnight on 11-12 October, Russia reportedly launched 33 Shahed-136/131 drones against six oblasts, including Odesa and Mykolaiv. Ukraine’s air force reported that its air defences shot down 28 drones. However, Odesa oblast’s governor, Oleh Kiper, claimed that drones damaged residential buildings and port infrastructure in the Danube River port of Izmail (Odesa). Meanwhile, on 12 October, Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of Belgorod oblast (Russia), reported that air defences intercepted a drone over the outskirts of Belgorod city. Drone debris reportedly damaged residential buildings.
- KYIV: Ukraine’s National Police reported earlier on 12 October that an armed assailant who attempted to seize a business centre in the capital Kyiv has since been detained. The unnamed individual threatened the centre’s security guards and forced them to leave the premises (located in the capital’s Solomianskyi district). He proceeded to fire ‘chaotic shots’ and threatened to set up a tripwire at the building’s entrance to prevent law enforcement officers from entering. The Rapid Operational Response Unit (KORD) arrived promptly at the scene and negotiated with the man. No casualties were reported. No motive has yet been established, though investigators are working to determine potential circumstantial and motivating factors. It is not clear if a specific enterprise located in the business centre was the intended target, though security at such centres in Kyiv will likely be bolstered in the coming days to prevent potential repeat incidents. However, this is likely an isolated incident that is not part of a wider trend that aims to threaten businesses in the coming months.
- FROZEN ASSETS: The Washington Post reported on 11 October that senior US officials have increased their efforts to push Western governments to use frozen Russian central bank reserves to aid Ukraine. Russia is estimated to possess around USD 300bn in frozen funds across various Western bank accounts, most of them in Europe. The outlet, which cited three sources familiar with the matter, reported that the intensifying push to use the assets comes as US and pro-Ukraine European governments face new domestic political hurdles to donate taxpayer money to support Kyiv’s war effort. However, even the strongest advocates among US officials for redirecting the funds reportedly believe that it would take at least several months for Kyiv to receive the payments.
- FROZEN ASSETS: Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo announced on 11 October that his country has created a EUR 1.7bn (USD 1.8bn) fund for Ukraine financed by the tax revenue from the interest on frozen Russian assets. De Croo stated that the fund will be used in 2024 to purchase military equipment, as well as to provide humanitarian support. De Croo revealed that Belgium holds about USD 180bn (USD 191bn) in frozen Russian assets. Ultimately, the government’s move to use frozen assets will possibly prompt other European nations to follow suit, though some central banks will likely remain hesitant to do so due to potential legal difficulties.
- MOLDOVA: On 11 October, Moldova labelled Russia as a threat to its national security for the first time in its proposed national security strategy. It states that Russia and its proxies in Moldova represent the ‘most dangerous’ and constant threats. Ștefan Țîbuleac, the head of Moldova’s Supreme Security Council, revealed in April that the national security strategy approved in 2011 is no longer applicable to the country’s current situation. While the document demonstrates Chișinău’s efforts to prioritise targeting Russian destabilisation, it will likely deepen polarisation in Moldova and raise tensions with Moscow if it is granted parliamentary approval. As the ruling Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS) holds a healthy parliamentary majority, its approval is likely. The Eurosceptic and pro-Russia communist and socialist parties (PCRM and PSRM) are highly likely to oppose the proposal. These factions will possibly call for protests in the coming days and weeks; small-scale, non-violent demonstrations are likely in Bălți, the capital Chișinău and Orhei.
AID: The head of Ukraine’s military intelligence (GUR) stated in an interview published on 12 October that Russia has the economic capability and resources to continue its war until 2025 or 2026. Kyrylo Budanov noted that despite Ukraine having a smaller population than Russia, its manpower should not be underestimated. Budanov’s remarks align with our assessment that Moscow is willing to fight a protracted attritional war beyond 2023, if necessary.
Budanov stated that both sides’ ammunition requirements currently surpass the levels which their respective allies can effectively replenish. Budanov noted that he does not expect significant problems to impact the provision of military aid from Kyiv’s Western partners until mid-2024. While he did not elaborate on this assessment, he was likely referring to the US ahead of its presidential election in November 2024. This vote will likely be pivotal in determining Washington DC’s long-term support for Ukraine.
On 11 October, the chief of Russia’s foreign intelligence service (SVR), Sergei Naryshkin, claimed that the issue of supporting Ukraine is becoming increasingly ‘toxic’ and a point of contention in the US ahead of its presidential election. Moscow is almost certainly hoping that ‘war fatigue’ weakens Western resolve to continue supplying Ukraine with weapons. The US has been a leading provider of military aid for Kyiv since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion. A Ukraine-sceptic Republican victory in next year’s vote would possibly result in this assistance being reduced in the long term.
On 11 October, US President Joe Biden’s administration announced additional security assistance for Ukraine worth around USD 200m. The package includes AIM-9 missiles for air defences, additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and 155mm and 105mm artillery rounds, among other capabilities. Separately, Finland’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced that it will deliver more defence equipment to Ukraine worth an estimated EUR 95m (USD 100.8m). It did not specify what this tranche of military aid includes or its likely delivery date for ‘operational reasons’ and to ensure it arrives safely.
*Moldova-Russia: National security strategy will deepen polarisation, elevate regional tensions. On 11 October, Moldova labelled Russia as a threat to its national security for the first time in its proposed national security strategy. It states that Russia and its proxies in Moldova represent the ‘most dangerous’ and constant threats. Ștefan Țîbuleac, the head of Moldova’s Supreme Security Council, said in April that the national security strategy approved in 2011 is no longer applicable to the country’s current situation. While the document demonstrates the Moldovan government’s efforts to prioritise targeting Russian destabilisation, it will likely deepen polarisation within Moldova and raise tensions with Moscow if given parliamentary approval. As the ruling Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS) holds a healthy parliamentary majority, its approval is likely. The Eurosceptic and pro-Russia communist and socialist parties (PCRM and PSRM) are highly likely to oppose it. These factions could realistically call for protests in the coming days and weeks; small-scale, non-violent demonstrations are most likely in Bălți, Orhei and the capital Chișinău.
*Estonia-Finland: Balticconnector damaged by ‘external activity’; Russian sabotage remains a realistic possibility. On 10 October, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö stated that damage caused to the Balticconnector gas pipeline – and a separate telecommunications cable linking Finland and Estonia on 8 October – was likely caused by ‘external activity’. The head of investigations at the Finnish National Bureau of Investigations (NBI) stated that it was likely a ‘deliberate act’. While the precise cause of the damage remains unclear (investigations are ongoing), seismologists at Norway’s Norsar data centre confirmed on 10 October that they registered a ‘probable explosion’ on 8 October. We have repeatedly assessed that the Balticconnector is a ‘possible target’ of Russian sabotage (see European Energy Quarterly – Q1 2023). Notably, OSINT investigations indicate that a Russian ‘research’ vessel, the ‘Sibiryakov’, likely conducted underwater activity in the vicinity of the Balticconnector in June, August and September. The same vessel was spotted in the vicinity of the Nord Stream pipelines before they were sabotaged in September 2022. While geopolitical tensions remain high, Russian sabotage against critical European infrastructure will remain a realistic possibility.
*Moldova-Romania-Ukraine: New grain corridor will provide Kyiv alternative export route, easing food insecurity. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced on 10 October that a new ‘corridor’ for the export of Ukrainian grain will soon be established via Moldova to Romania. However, no further details were provided on when it will be operational or its exact route. Zelensky noted that the expansion of transport corridors will create more economic and employment opportunities, which could realistically enhance long-term economic co-operation between the three states. Following Moscow’s withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI) in July, Ukraine has primarily relied on overland routes and its ports along the Danube River to export its agricultural output. However, these routes have been consistently hit by Russian missiles and drones. The new route’s opening will also likely aid in easing risks to global food security over the winter, though the new corridor is unlikely to compensate for the full volume of grain previously exported under the BSGI.
*Georgia: Failure to fulfil EU recommendations will delay candidate status, drive unrest risks. On 9 October, the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission (VC) assessed that Georgia’s judiciary reforms remain insufficient. The VC explained that Tbilisi has not fully implemented its five key recommendations regarding the High Council of Justice reform. The VC called on Georgia to pursue necessary reforms ‘without unjustified delay’, given that the EU Commission is expected to recommend whether to grant Georgia the EU candidate status in December. On 10 October, Anri Okhanashvili, a senior Georgian Dream (GD) parliamentary official, claimed that the VC assessment is partly incorrect due to its reliance on incorrect information provided by an NGO, though this assertion cannot be confirmed. Georgia’s likely failure to meet EU requirements ahead of the December decision will lower the country’s prospects of obtaining candidate status. It also represents a key trigger for anti-government protests in the coming months, driving social polarisation and physical security risks in the capital Tbilisi.
- BAKHMUT: Russian forces continue to counter-attack along the Bakhmut axis, despite high attrition rates and personnel shortages. A Ukrainian milblogger reported on 10 October that within the Russian operational-tactical group currently operating around Bakhmut, over half of their brigades and regiments are experiencing personnel shortages of between 30-35%, while around 10-15% of the group’s brigade and regiment units are sustaining shortages as high as 55-60%. According to the source, the grouping comprises irregular formations, including 1st and 2nd Army Corps, BARS (Russian Army Combat Reserve) and ‘Storm-Z’ penal assault units; they do not account for more professional units operating around Bakhmut, including VDV Airborne units. Nevertheless, while this cannot be confirmed, Russian units are highly likely to be operating well below their full compliment as high attrition rates continue to undermine force regeneration capabilities.
- DONETSK: On 10 October, the Ukrainian General Staff reported that up to three Russian battalions armed with tanks and armoured vehicles are taking part in offensive operations in the Avdiivka sector. The reports of a new offensive effort underscore an uptick in Russian operations in this sector in recent days. Multiple Russian sources claimed on 10 October that their forces intensified operations north-west and south-west of Avdiivka in a bid to disrupt Ukrainian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) and to encircle Avdiivka. Geolocated footage indicates various armoured vehicle columns operating in the area, though it remains unclear if they have achieved any notable success. Ultimately, we assess that Russia does not possess a sufficient quality of forces in this sector to capture the city, though there is scope for Russian forces to tighten the cauldron around Avdiivka. Considering the capture of Avdiivka is unlikely, the Russian command’s goals during this small offensive are likely to fix Ukrainian forces in the sector to prevent the transfer of forces to other sections of the front.
- OSKIL-KREMINNA: On 10 October, a Russian milblogger reiterated claims that Russian forces have nearly reached the outskirts of Makiivka and Nevske, located around 14 miles (22km) and 11 miles (18km) north-west of Kreminna, respectively. However, such claims remain unverified. The milblogger also noted that a large number of mines are hindering the Russian forces’ advance along the Makiivka-Nevske line; the Ukrainian command is also reportedly transferring reserves to the area.
- SOUTHERN: Russian sources reported that their forces made marginal advances in Zaporizhzhia oblast on 10 October, though this remains unconfirmed. They claim that Russian forces advanced near Zherebyanky, located around 17 miles (28km) south-west of Orikhiv on the extreme western flank of the Zaporizhzhia axis. This sector of the frontline has been broadly stable in recent months, as Ukrainian and Russian forces prioritise offensive and defensive operations around Robotyne. Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces are continuing with counter-offensive operations further east, though there are few confirmed indications that they have made notable progress near Robotyne or Verbove over the last 24 hours amid a slow rate of advance. Further east still, Ukrainian forces have reportedly made some small advances along the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia border; geolocated footage from 9 October points to Ukrainian progress north of Mykilske, around 22 miles (36km) south-east of Velyka Novosilka.
- STRIKES: On 11 October, the governor of Russia’s Bryansk oblast, Alexander Bogomaz, claimed that air defences shot down two drones over the region’s Surazhsky district. At the time of writing, there have also been reports of explosions in Myrhorod (Poltava oblast), though we cannot confirm at this early stage the scale of any potential Russian drone or missile attack.
- NUCLEAR: The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) disclosed that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pledged that his country’s forces will not attack the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP). In an interview with The Guardian published on 10 October, Rafael Grossi announced that Zelensky had personally assured him that Ukrainian soldiers will not bomb or shell the facility. However, he noted that Zelensky disclosed that ‘all other options’ are open for reclaiming the ZNPP, without specifying the exact nature of these options. While Grossi revealed that he had obtained such promises from Zelensky, the security of the facility will remain vulnerable as the war continues, particularly if Ukrainian forces manage to advance closer to the ZNPP or reach the plant itself in the coming months. However, a major nuclear incident at the plant remains highly unlikely in the near term. For in-depth analysis and scenarios for a nuclear incident at the ZNPP, including the health implications, please see the Sibylline Special Report – Ukraine – 19 July 2023.
- NUCLEAR: The director of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), Alexander Bortnikov, claimed on 11 October that British special forces trained Ukrainian military intelligence groups to sabotage Russian nuclear power plants, though this is highly unlikely. Bortnikov claimed that the FSB detained members of a Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance group in August who were allegedly tasked with carrying out sabotage operations against Russian military targets and oil facilities, as well as transport and critical infrastructure. He claimed that these alleged groups were trained to target the Smolensk and Kursk nuclear power plants in particular, adding that the saboteurs caused the second unit of the Kursk plant to shut down in an emergency. However, Bortnikov did not provide credible evidence to support his claims about British special forces conducting such training and it is highly unlikely that Ukrainian forces attacked the Kursk plant directly. Nevertheless, both sides are highly likely to accuse each other of planning to stage nuclear provocations throughout the course of the war.
- GRAIN: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated on 10 October that a new ‘corridor’ for Ukrainian grain exports via Moldova to Romania will soon be launched. However, no further details were provided regarding when it will be operational or its exact route. Zelensky noted that the expansion of transport corridors will create more economic and employment opportunities, which would possibly enhance long-term economic co-operation between the three states. Following Moscow’s withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI) in July, Ukraine has primarily relied on overland routes and its ports along the Danube River to export its agricultural produce. However, Russia has consistently targeted Ukraine’s riverine ports in strike campaigns. The new route’s opening will also likely aid in easing risks to global food security this winter, though the route alone is unlikely to compensate for the volume of grain previously exported under the BSGI.
- GRAIN: At a joint press conference with Zelensky in Bucharest (Romania) on 10 October, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis stated that almost 60% of Ukraine’s grain exports transit through Romania. Iohannis claimed that more than 27 m tonnes of Ukrainian grain have passed through the country since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, underscoring Bucharest’s importance in ensuring that Ukrainian grain continues to be exported to global markets. While Iohannis announced that Bucharest will continue supporting Kyiv, he noted the importance of meeting the expectations of Romanian farmers, especially in light of the ongoing tensions within European domestic agri-business sectors as a result of influxes of cheap Ukrainian grain.
SABOTAGE: On 10 October, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö stated that recent damage caused to the Balticonnector gas pipeline and a separate telecommunications cable linking Finland and Estonia on 8 October was likely caused by ‘external activity’. The head of investigations at the Finnish National Bureau of Investigations (NBI), Timo Kilpeläinen, stated that it was likely a ‘deliberate act’. While the precise cause of the damage remains unclear (investigations are ongoing), seismologists at Norway’s Norsar data centre confirmed on 10 October that they registered a ‘probable explosion’ on 8 October.
Following the Nord Stream sabotage in 2022, we have repeatedly assessed that the Balticonnector remains a possible target for Russian sabotage. While there is currently no direct evidence for Russian involvement, OSINT investigations indicate that a Russian ‘research’ vessel, the Sibiryakov, likely conducted underwater activity in the vicinity of the Balticconnector in June, August and September. This is particularly noteworthy as the same vessel was identified conducting what was highly likely reconnaissance above the Nord Stream pipelines in the months leading to their sabotage. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated on 11 October that the alliance is ready to assist in its investigation. However, he also warned that if evidence is found of deliberate sabotage, this would be met by a ‘united and determined response from NATO’. Increased NATO naval patrols in the Baltic are highly likely.
While an investigation is ongoing, the timing of the apparent damage is notable as we approach winter, as it will moderately impact energy insecurity. The damage to the Balticconnector pipeline alone will likely last months; this will complicate both Finland’s and Estonia’s preparations for heating season this winter. Gas prices surged in the aftermath of Helsinki’s announcement on 10 October that the pipeline was likely deliberately damaged, compounding an already volatile market after Israel announced it will shut down its Tamar offshore gas platform due to its ongoing war with Hamas. Benchmark gas futures rose 15% on 10 October, while German and British gas prices rose 11% and 12% respectively, their highest rates in six months. The threat of further sabotage operations will sustain market volatility, which will further dampen economic growth prospects.
We have been closely tracking the situation in the Baltic Sea, and are watching for several triggers, warnings and indicators (TWIs) that would increase the likelihood of further Russian sabotage in the region. These include the accession of Sweden into NATO, the establishment of an Estonian ‘contiguous zone’ in the Gulf of Finland (see Sibylline Daily Ukraine Update – 25 January 2023) and the ongoing investigation into the sabotage of Nord Stream; if the latter concludes that Ukraine was behind the sabotage, this will likely provide Russia with cover to conduct its own sabotage operations and to blame Ukraine. For further analysis on Russian undersea sabotage capabilities and the latent threats across Europe.
- BAKHMUT: The Ukrainian General Staff reported on 10 October that its forces have achieved ‘partial success’ around Andriivka, located about four miles (6km) south of Bakhmut, though deteriorating weather is further constraining opportunities to advance.
- DONETSK: Geolocated footage from 9 October indicates that Russian forces have advanced south-east of Novomykhailivka, located around seven miles (12km) south-west of Donetsk city. Earlier on 10 October, a Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) official claimed that Russian troops made unspecified advances in the Avdiivka sector, taking control of two fortified positions. Also on 10 October, a Russian milblogger stated that Russian forces advanced about 200m in this sector, forcing Ukrainian troops to abandon unspecified positions. However, these claims remain unverified.
- OSKIL-KREMINNA: Earlier on 10 October, a Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces have launched ‘large-scale’ attacks in Ivanivka and Synkivka, located around 12 miles (20km) east and five miles (8km) north-east of Kupiansk, respectively. Meanwhile, on 9 and 10 October, Russian sources continued to claim that their forces advanced near Makiivka, located around 14 miles (22km) north-west of Kreminna; they claim they captured positions near Nevske, located around 11 miles (18km) north-west of Kreminna. Such claims remain unverified. However, on 9 October, Ukrainian Eastern Group of Forces spokesperson Ilya Yevlash reported that Russian forces are more active near Ivanivka, Makiivka and Synkivka, where they have allegedly transferred assault and tank units.
- SOUTHERN: Ukrainian forces are continuing to advance south of Robotyne (Zaporizhzhia oblast). Around 9 October, a small Ukrainian force likely entered the northern outskirts of the village of Novoprokopivka, located around 2.5 miles (4km) south of Robotyne (Zaporizhzhia). However, Russian forces reportedly repulsed the attack, with geolocated footage indicating that Russian forces attacked positions to the north of the village. The Ukrainian General Staff also reported on 10 October that its forces have achieved ‘partial success’ west of Verbove. However, the extent of any advances here remains unclear. Further east, Russian and Ukrainian sources reported on 9 October that Russian forces launched a localised attack about four miles (6km) south of Hulyaipole (Zaporizhzhia); they have likely advanced several hundred metres. These advances remain limited given that Russian forces have only committed a battalion (or less) to the operation.
- STRIKES: Overnight on 9-10 October, Russian forces launched 36 Iranian-made Shahed-136/131 drones against Kherson, Odesa and Mykolaiv oblasts. Ukraine’s air force claimed that its air defences shot down 27 drones. The strike damaged transport infrastructure in Odesa, according to its governor, Oleh Kiper.
- CORRUPTION: On 9 October, Ukraine’s High Anti-Corruption Court ruled to remove Sumy’s mayor, Oleksandr Lysenko, from his position until 9 December. Lysenko and Oleksandr Zhurba, the head of the city’s infrastructure department, were detained earlier this month for allegedly accepting a bribe worth around UAH 1.4 m (USD 38,000). This sum was reportedly the last tranche of a kickback totalling UAH 2.13 m (USD 58,000). According to Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU), the officials demanded a bribe from a local company involved in refuse removal; they allegedly threatened to impede the business’ operations if it did not pay.
- CORRUPTION: Earlier on 10 October, Ukraine’s State Bureau of Investigation (DBR) reported that it is reviewing 260 criminal proceedings related to corruption in military recruitment centres and medical commissions. The DBR stated that it has documented evidence of Ukrainian officials receiving bribes worth almost UAH 4 m (USD 143,000), while courts have seized bribe-takers’ property worth over UAH 3.2 m (USD 87,700). Graft within Ukrainian governmental structures and recruitment offices will likely remain an endemic issue in the long term. Failure to tackle corruption adequately will possibly hinder Ukraine’s prospects for accession into the EU, as well as its ability to secure long-term funding and aid packages.
- BELARUS: Ukraine’s Centre for National Resistance claimed on 10 October that it had obtained unverified information indicating that Belarusian and Russian special services are preparing a false-flag terror attack which Minsk and Moscow will then blame on Ukraine. The centre claimed that an oil depot in Brest oblast (Belarus) situated just over one mile (2km) from the Belarusian-Polish border is being considered as a potential target for the incident. It stated that Russian and Belarusian forces are planning to drop explosives using a drone onto the facility; it added that Wagner Group mercenaries conducted aerial reconnaissance of possible targets in August. However, the centre’s claims cannot be confirmed. Furthermore, it made similar allegations in the past about Russian forces planning an act of provocation at a nuclear power plant in Kursk (Russia) to then attribute to Ukraine; these claims never materialised (see Sibylline Ukraine Daily Update – 16 August 2023). While false-flag operations constitute a credible threat, Belarus and Russia are unlikely to stage such a move at present, particularly one so close to the border of a NATO member (Poland), as this would yield limited strategic advantages. Such operations would possibly also precipitate further Polish military deployments along its frontier with Belarus.
AID: The US is allegedly considering combining aid for Israel and Ukraine into one package, according to US news reports on 9-10 October citing sources familiar with the matter. A senior unnamed Biden administration official told The Washington Post that this option is viable as it ‘jams the far- right’, alluding to those more hardline Republicans who have spoken out against further aid to Ukraine, but who are strongly in favour of assistance to Israel. However, an unnamed administration official informed NBC that Congress will ultimately make the decision, meaning that attempts to combine the aid will possibly be rejected.
Separately, on 9 October, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that pro-Ukraine senators from both parties are seeking to pass a year-long aid package worth USD 50-100 bn. The WSJ claimed that many pro-Ukraine senators are in favour of quickly passing a large aid package that will assist Kyiv through 2023-24 (up until the US presidential election), as it will be easier to win support for a single package, rather than multiple smaller packages over a longer time frame. However, several Republican lawmakers are still likely to oppose prospective aid packages to Ukraine (irrespective of their size) in the coming weeks and months. While a ‘one-and-done’ package, if passed, would provide Ukraine with assistance until November 2024, the prospects of long-term aid for Kyiv will be cast into doubt if a Ukraine-sceptic Republican wins the election; similar doubts will arise in the short term if efforts are made to separate Israeli and Ukrainian aid.
- BAKHMUT: On 7 October, Ukraine’s Eastern Grouping of Forces spokesperson Ilya Yevlash reported that Ukrainian forces had advanced between 100-300m in different directions around Bakhmut over the previous 24 hours. Ukrainian forces have likely made marginal gains east of Andriivka, located around four miles (6km) south of Bakhmut, though progress remains slow amid poor weather. However, weather has also reportedly led to a decrease in Russian airstrikes on this axis; Yevlash stated on 8 October that poor weather will possibly also undermine Ukraine’s drone and aerial reconnaissance operations.
- DONETSK: On 8 October, Ukrainian Tavriisk Group of Forces spokesperson Colonel Oleksandr Shtupun explained that Russian operations in the sector aim to ‘fix’ Ukrainian forces and prevent the transfer of Ukrainian troops to Zaporizhzhia. On 8 October, Russian milbloggers claimed that Russian forces made advances north of Marinka and occupied new positions near Krasnohorivka, located around 5.5 miles (9km) north of Avdiivka. However, such claims remain unverified.
- OSKIL-KREMINNA: On 8 October, a Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces had broken through Ukrainian defences near Lyman Pershyi, located about seven miles (12km) north-east of Kupiansk; they reportedly advanced near the Synkivka rail station, located around five miles (8km) north-east of Kupiansk. The milblogger also claimed Russian troops advanced around 11-12 miles (18-20km) east and 13 miles (21-22km) south-east of Kupiansk. While such claims remain unconfirmed, the Ukrainian General Staff reported that Ukrainian forces countered multiple attacks near Synkivka and Ivanivka, located 12 miles (20km) east of Kupiansk, thus underscoring an uptick in Russian attacks in the sector. However, the claimed rate of Russian advances is highly unlikely to be accurate.
- OSKIL-KREMINNA: On 6 October, Yevlash stated that Russian forces have resumed offensive operations in the Kupiansk sector. Yevlash’s statements come after reports indicated that Russia had deployed elements of the newly formed 25th Combined Arms Army (CAA) in the sector ahead of its initial deployment date, which was planned for the end of December. Given that the 25th CAA likely remains understaffed and poorly trained, its anticipated deployment likely aims to support degraded Russian military formations in the sector rather than actively participate in large-scale offensive operations. Overall, the combat effectiveness of Russian military forces in the sector remains limited. As such, major Russian advances are unlikely, though they will likely continue to fix Ukrainian forces in the sector and alleviate pressure on other key fronts, such as Bakhmut.
- OSKIL-KREMINNA: Meanwhile, geolocated footage from 7 October indicates that Russian forces advanced east of Makiivka, located around 19 miles (30km) north-west of Kreminna. On 8 and 9 October, Russian milbloggers made various claims regarding the extent of these advances.
- SOUTHERN: Geolocated footage from 8 October indicates that Ukrainian forces have marginally advanced north of Novoprokopivka, around 2.5 miles (4km) south of Robotyne (Zaporizhzhia oblast). Meanwhile, some Russian sources reported on 8 October that Russian forces have successfully re-mined areas on the Robotyne-Verbove line which had previously been cleared. If accurate, this would be notable and would align with our assessment that the rate of Ukraine’s advances are slow enough to allow Russia to reconstitute their defences, including using scatter mines to slow the Ukrainian advance even further.
- SOUTHERN: Ukrainian sources reported on 6 October that Russian forces have likely conducted a rotation of various units along the southern Orikhiv sector. Elements of the 291st Motorised Rifle Regiment, 42nd Motorised Rifle Division and 7th and 76th VDV Airborne divisions have seemingly rotated, indicating that Russian force regeneration capabilities are allowing Moscow’s forces to defend this key sector of the frontline. While unit quality and combat effectiveness issues likely remain, the fact that these rotations have seemingly taken place amid Ukraine’s counter-offensive underscores a moderate level of Russian defensive resilience.
- SOUTHERN: Despite these rotations, Russian sources have reported in recent weeks that as many 70-90% of Russian battlefield deaths are caused by bleeding, rather than fatal wounds. While this report cannot be confirmed, widespread deficiencies within the Russian army’s combat medical service have been apparent since the launch of the invasion. As such, avoidable deaths will continue to undermine personnel shortages. However, given the rate of mobilisation in Russia and force rotations taking place, Moscow likely views the current attrition rates as sustainable.
- STRIKES: On 8 October, Yuri Ihnat, Ukraine’s air force spokesperson, reported that Russia will intensify drone attacks against Ukraine in the coming months. He pointed out that Russia launched over 500 Shahed-136/131 drones in September alone, compared with 1,000 during the entire 2022-2023 strike campaign, underscoring Russia’s sustained drone capabilities. However, according to Ihnat, while Moscow seeks to increase domestic drone production, it still heavily relies on Iranian-supplied Shahed drones. Ihnat stressed that Moscow’s goal is to undermine Ukraine’s socio-economic resilience by targeting critical infrastructure, including energy and food facilities. The official further noted that while Ukraine will ramp up efforts to protect critical infrastructure, insufficient air defence systems, especially Western-made air defences like the Patriot system, will sustain the country’s vulnerability to Russia’s winter strike campaign.
- STRIKES: Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command reported that Russia launched missile strikes targeting Chernomorsk (Odesa oblast) and Myrhorod (Poltava oblast) overnight on 6-7 October. The strikes included eight missiles, including Onyx cruise missiles, and targeted port and civilian infrastructure. On 8 October, Russian forces reportedly launched an Iskander ballistic missile against Kostiantynivka (Donetsk oblast), damaging residential buildings.
- NORTH KOREA: Rail traffic between Russia and North Korea has increased significantly following North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un’s visit to Russia in September. Beyond Parallel reported on 6 October that satellite imagery of North Korea’s Tumangang Rail Facility at the Russian border depicts an ‘unprecedented’ number of freight railcars. Approximately 73 railcars can be seen at the facility (a review of publicly available satellite images shows no more than 20 railcars in the area at any one time over the past five years). However, it is unclear what is being transported as the shipping containers are covered. The uptick in activity possibly indicates potential weapons shipments, though this cannot be confirmed at present. We previously assessed that there is a realistic possibility that Kim and Russian President Vladimir Putin reached a covert agreement whereby Pyongyang will supply Moscow with military aid for use in Ukraine. While the West would almost certainly impose additional sanctions against Moscow and Pyongyang if it is determined that the latter has provided military aid, further investigations are likely before punitive measures are imposed.
- MOLDOVA: Moldovan President Maia Sandu has claimed that Wagner Group mercenaries were behind a thwarted coup attempt to oust her government earlier this year. In an interview with the Financial Times published on 6 October, Sandu said Wagner Group fighters wanted to encourage anti-government protests in Moldova to turn ‘violent’. The Moldovan president also stated that Moscow is using various methods, such as cash mules and Dubai-issued bank cards, to smuggle money into Moldova with the intent of bribing voters. Sandu claimed that Chișinău has evidence that Moscow is attempting to influence Moldova’s local elections next month ahead of the presidential vote in 2024 and parliamentary elections in 2025. She stated that Moldova’s intelligence services have detected at least EUR 20m (USD 21.1m) in Russian funds entering the country for ‘political purposes,’ but acknowledged the actual figure is likely higher. While the veracity of Sandu’s claims cannot be confirmed, Moscow is highly likely to increase its efforts to destabilise Moldova ahead of the key elections over the next 12 months. This likely mirrors an attempt to install pro-Russia candidates and derail the central government’s efforts to join the EU.
AID: On 7 October, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin confirmed that his department will work to ensure that Israel has the equipment it needs to defend itself against attacks from Palestinian Hamas militants. The armed escalation is likely to raise concerns among Ukraine’s leadership and some of its allies about US military assistance being diverted from Kyiv in the coming weeks. For more information on Hamas’ attack against Israel, please see Sibylline Israel Conflict Update – 9 October 2023.
Citing Israeli and US officials, CNN reported on 8 October that Israel is requesting US precision-guided bombs and additional interceptors for its Iron Dome air defence system. The Israeli official claimed that the country’s military will possibly request more armaments depending on how Israel’s campaign against Hamas progresses. The hostilities are highly likely to further increase pressure on Washington DC’s stockpiles and budget dedicated to providing military assistance abroad.
In January, the New York Times reported that the US military was shipping hundreds of thousand of artillery shells to Ukraine from a stockpile in Israel. According to the report, which cited Israeli and US officials, the US and Israel agreed to ship around 300,000 shells to Ukraine. While it is unclear whether these shipments have continued in recent months, Israel will almost certainly seek to ensure that all ammunition within the country is available for Israeli forces to use, with further arms originally destined for Ukraine possibly redirected in the short term given the crisis unfolding in Israel.
Moscow is highly likely to exploit the current hostilities in Israel to divert attention from Ukraine in the coming days and weeks. On 8 October, Polish President Andrzej Duda stated that violence between Hamas and Israel is beneficial for Russia as it distracts global attention from Ukraine. On the same day, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken refuted that Hamas’ attack against Israel was an attempt to take advantage of the West’s focus on Ukraine. It is highly likely that the Kremlin hopes that Western support for Kyiv will be re-prioritised amid the ongoing escalation.
Despite these growing concerns, The Telegraph reported on 7 October that US President Joe Biden is considering a ‘one-and-done’ spending bill to fund the war in Ukraine until next year’s presidential election. The outlet stated that various officials believe that passing a single package (possibly worth as much as USD 100bn) will in turn provide the Biden administration the best chance of securing funding for Kyiv until after the election in November 2024. A source familiar with the matter claimed that the idea is firmly supported by many throughout the administration. While such a move would seek to avoid further debates over Ukraine funding in Congress, the evolving situation in Israel will possibly alter the Biden administration’s timelines for aid, driving further Republican opposition to support for Ukraine given Israel’s growing needs. (Source: Sibylline)
15 Oct 23. Ukraine’s counter-offensive is a ‘disaster’, says former Zelensky adviser.
Oleksiy Arestovych accuses Volodymyr Zelensky and his military commanders of making strategic mistakes and failing to break Russian lines
A former Ukrainian presidential adviser has described Kyiv’s stalled counter-offensive as a “disaster” and accused Volodymyr Zelensky of making strategic mistakes.
Oleksiy Arestovych said that Mr Zelensky and his military commanders have failed to break through Russian lines and that Ukraine now needed a new leader.
“They are not telling the truth. There will be no return to the borders of 1991, and there will be no Crimea in the near future,” he said.
Mr Arestovych resigned in January as a presidential adviser after a row over the effectiveness of Ukraine’s air defence systems.
This week, Ukrainian prosecutors opened an investigation into Mr Arestovych for comments that allegedly promote violence against women. He has denied the allegations.
In a statement released on X, formerly known as Twitter, Mr Arestovych said that Mr Zelensky had made “corrupt and inadequate decisions”, and described the counter-offensive as a wasted opportunity.
“Behind the strategic mistakes in the field loom strategic mistakes in public administration, foreign and domestic policy,” he said.
Public criticism of Mr Zelensky in Ukraine is rare, although after 20 months of war frustrations are growing. The US wants Ukraine to hold a presidential election next year, as scheduled, and has also encouraged Mr Zelensky to clamp down on corruption.
Some Western officials have also said that Ukraine’s Nato-backed counter-offensive has failed as it has only managed to recapture a sliver of territory along the extensive frontline.
Trench systems and minefields are obstacles
Ukrainian commanders have said that Russia’s trench systems and minefields have slowed them down.
Mr Arestovych said that rather than get sucked into battles around Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk region, the Ukrainian army should have concentrated on breaking through the southern frontlines and preparing its own defences.
“Now we are at an impasse. The Russians can’t defeat us, we can’t defeat them,” he said.
It’s an assessment shared by Vladimir Putin, who took time out from meetings with leaders of former Soviet states in Kyrgyzstan, to tell a pro-Kremlin interviewer that Ukraine’s counter-offensive had failed.
“Our forces are improving their positions in almost every area,” Putin said on Sunday.
(Source: Daily Telegraph)
13 Oct 23. Ukraine strikes Russian warships with ‘experimental’ drone attacks.
Ukraine struck a Russian missile carrier and a patrol ship this week involving sea-borne drones carrying experimental weapons, a Ukrainian intelligence source said on Friday.
The “Buyan” missile carrier was attacked on Friday and the “Pavel Derzhavin” missile carrier was attacked on Wednesday in joint operations carried out by the Ukrainian Security Service and naval forces.
“After the first detonation, Russian minesweepers and divers were unable to discover our know-how,” the source told Reuters, who could not immediately verify the reports. “The Buyan missile carrier… was struck today on the Sevastopol route by experimental weapons on ‘Sea Babies’ (naval drones).”
Tensions in and near the Black Sea have escalated since Russia withdrew in July from a deal allowing the safe export of grain from Ukrainian ports. Russian drones and missiles have repeatedly struck Ukrainian port facilities and grain silos on or near the Black Sea and on the Danube River since then.
Kyiv has launched several successful missile and naval drone attacks on Russia’s Black Sea fleet in and around Crimea peninsula, which was annexed by Russia in 2014. (Source: Daily Telegraph)
14 Oct 23. North Korea sends ‘1,000 containers’ of weapons to Russia.
White House has condemned the move as a threat to innocent Ukrainians as satellite images raise concerns of increased tensions in the region
The United States has accused North Korea of sending more than 1,000 containers of military equipment and munitions to Russia to boost its protracted war against Ukraine.
John Kirby, the White House National Security Council spokesperson said the equipment will be used against innocent Ukrainians.
“We condemn the DPRK for providing Russia with this military equipment, which will be used to attack Ukrainian cities and kill Ukrainian civilians and further Russia’s illegitimate war,” said Mr Kirby, referring to North Korea’s official name, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“In return for support, we assess Pyongyang is seeking military assistance from Russia including fighter aircraft, surface to air missiles, armoured vehicles, ballistic missile production equipment, or other materials and other advanced technologies.”
Satellite images released by Washington on Friday did not show the contents of the containers.
Pyongyang and Moscow have consistently denied US reports of North Korean ammunition deliveries to Russia dating back to last year.
Speculation that a deal was being brokered for Pyongyang to replenish Russian stocks was reignited in early September when Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s leader, travelled to Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin, visiting key military sites.
The details of their talks over a lavish lunch were not publicised, but US intelligence officials suggested at the time that Moscow would likely seek artillery shells and anti-tank missiles from North Korea, possibly in exchange for advanced satellite and nuclear-powered submarine technology.
The latest images released by the White House were said to show the containers loaded onto a Russian-flagged ship before being moved via train to southwestern Russia.
The US said the containers were shipped between September 7 and October 1 between Najin, North Korea, and Dunay, a seaport near Vladivostok in Russia.
It unveiled the new intelligence as North Korea threatened again to use nuclear weapons to defend itself after the arrival of the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier and its battle group in the southern South Korean port of Busan.
Last week the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), also published satellite photos that it said showed a “dramatic and unprecedented” increase in freight railcar traffic along North Korea’s border with Russia.
The CSIS report said that the contents of the covered containers at the rail station were “probable” weapons shipments.
However, an analysis by the Seoul-based NK Pro website concluded that on-the-ground photos from the border indicated the tarp-covered goods were for “disinfection,” meaning it was more likely that the goods were imports from Russia to North Korea, which is only just reopening after the pandemic. (Source: Daily Telegraph)
13 Oct 23. Czech Republic, Denmark, and Netherlands forge pact to bolster Ukraine’s defence. The agreement in Ramstein sets the stage for sustained international military support. In a move aimed at enhancing Ukraine’s defence capabilities, the Czech Republic, Denmark, and the Netherlands have united in an agreement that paves the way for the supply of weaponry, ensuring Ukraine’s security and promoting economic growth and job opportunities for the Czech Republic.
In a gathering at the Ramstein airbase, Deputy Minister of Defence Daniel Blažkovec of the Czech Republic joined forces with Denmark and the Netherlands to seal a pact to fortify Ukraine’s Armed Forces.
The meeting, led by US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, ventured beyond mere strategic discussions, delving into the future of Ukraine’s military and the support it requires on the battlefield.
This agreement, formally known as the “Letter of Intent,” benefits both Ukraine and the Czech Republic, as it entails providing various modern and refurbished military equipment to enhance Ukraine’s defence capabilities.
The financial backing of Denmark and the Netherlands ensures that Czech industries supply additional tanks, howitzers, small arms, infantry fighting vehicles, air defence systems, and electronic warfare equipment to Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited Denmark and the Netherlands on 20 August before holding a press conference at a Danish Air Base where he confirmed the upcoming transfer of the 19 Danish F-16s to Ukraine. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
13 Oct 23. British howitzers fall silent in Ukraine because of ‘catastrophic’ shortage of shells. Soldiers have been reduced to firing the weapon less than once a day and some are resorting to using a Second World War-era gun instead. British artillery guns supplied to Ukraine are falling silent on the battlefield because of a lack of ammunition for them, front line troops have told The Telegraph. Ukrainian soldiers trained by Nato on L119 howitzers have been reduced to firing them less than once a day because of a “catastrophic” shortage of shells.
One front line unit said they had ended up using a Second World War-era field gun instead, as it still had stocks of shells available.
The revelation comes after Nato’s most senior military official warned last week that the alliance was fast running out of artillery shells to give to Ukraine.
Rob Bauer, the Dutch admiral who chairs Nato’s Military Committee, told the Warsaw Security Forum that “the bottom of the barrel is now visible”.
The acuteness of the shortfall has now been laid bare by troops from Ukraine’s 80th Air Assault Brigade, who received part of a batch of 36 L119 Howitzers supplied to Kyiv by Britain last year.
“Miron”, an artillery commander stationed near Bakhmut, told The Telegraph: “The British L119 is a nice gun, very comfortable to work with and accurate to fire. But we don’t have enough shells for it – last week, we fired only five shells all week.
“It is catastrophically limited. When we are in battle, we are having to weigh up very carefully whether we should use a shell or not.”
Miron and his comrades were sent to Germany for training on the L119 during the summer. The weapon should make them much more effective in punching through Russian lines.
But because of the shortage of Nato-issue 105mm shells, they have had to fall back on their existing Soviet-era howitzers instead. Among them is an ancient 85mm D-44, a Soviet gun used in the final clashes of World War II.
“It’s almost like a museum [piece], but we still use it, as at least we have more shells for it,” Miron said.
“This is a critical situation as this is an artillery war – not having enough shells costs our own soldiers’ lives.”
His comments highlight a long-standing complaint from Ukraine that it is being outgunned in terms of artillery power by Russia, which uses up to 20,000 artillery shells a day on the battlefield. A single Ukrainian field gun operator can easily use 100-plus shells in a day – if the supplies are available.
Increase production of artillery shells
Last Tuesday, Admiral Bauer urged Western governments and defence manufacturers to increase production of artillery shells to “a much higher tempo”.
He warned that many countries supplying artillery shells to Ukraine had already depleted more than half of their warehouse stocks.
Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) said it had supplied more than 300,000 artillery rounds to Ukraine since the war.
The UK’s biggest arms firm, BAE Systems, also plans to open an office in Ukraine to launch a joint weapons production partnership with local manufacturers.
A MoD spokesperson said: “Tens of thousands of rounds of 105mm shells were gifted to Ukraine as part of the 300,000 shells we’ve already delivered.
“The UK will go further in the coming months in our priority support areas, including air defence and long-range strike capabilities, and training.”
However, the worry remains that with thousands of shells being fired on the battlefield every day, Kyiv is depleting stocks faster than its military backers can replenish them.
“We will be using bows and arrows next,” joked one of Miron’s comrades. (Source: Daily Telegraph)
12 Oct 23. Denmark Gets Leading Role in the International Air Force Coalition in Support of Ukraine. In cooperation with the USA and the Netherlands, Denmark is at the head of an international air force coalition in support of Ukraine, which is to lead the establishment of a Ukrainian F-16 fighter capability.
A new air force coalition is to help Ukraine establish a full F-16 fighter jet capability. The cooperation is spearheaded by the USA, Denmark and the Netherlands. In addition to training and donating aircraft, it is also about building the necessary infrastructure and maintenance facilities in Ukraine.
“I am really proud to be able to say that going forward, Denmark – together with our very close allies the USA and the Netherlands – will lead the support for Ukraine’s building of its future air force. It is a natural extension of the leading role Denmark already has in relation to the military support for Ukraine and especially in relation to the donation of F-16 fighter jets,” says Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen.
The air force coalition is being created within the framework of the US-led Ukraine Defense Contact Group (UDCG), which wants the work with military support for Ukraine strengthened with a number of capability coalitions with different nations at the head of the individual coalitions. It looks at areas such as air defence, armour, artillery, air force and the maritime area, as well as IT.
The intention is to create a higher degree of holistic thinking within the individual areas, just as it provides better opportunities for more long-term support options and joint funding.
The air force coalition’s focus will initially be on the provision of a complete Ukrainian F-16 combat aircraft capability, but the coalition will eventually look at other elements related to building a fully capable Ukrainian air force.
“That the USA reaches out to Denmark and our Dutch colleagues – as the first countries – and asks us to play an even bigger role – we can be proud of in Denmark. It underlines our leading role in the international F-1 training coalition and the significance of the decision to donate F-16 aircraft to Ukraine. At the same time, it is recognition of the task that the Norwegian Armed Forces – both nationally and internationally – have solved in order to establish a Ukrainian F-16 combat aircraft capacity as soon as possible,” says Troels Lund Poulsen. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: https://www.defense-aerospace.com/ Denmark Ministry of Defence)
12 Oct 23. Netherlands to Deploy Three MQ-9 Drones to Romania in 2024. Defense Uses MQ-9 Reaper to Protect NATO’s Eastern Flank. From next year, the Netherlands will contribute to the defense of NATO’s eastern flank with three unarmed MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft deployed to Romania. The aircraft will be used to collect intelligence along the eastern border of the treaty area.
It is the first time that the Netherlands has deployed the unmanned reconnaissance aircraft outside the kingdom. Minister Kajsa Ollongren wrote this to the House of Representatives today, also on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The MQ-9s assist in so-called air shielding operations. The aim of these operations is to monitor the situation at the border of the treaty area. The unmanned aircraft collect data and information from the air. With its sensors, the system contributes to building an accurate situational picture. In this way, NATO can prevent possible misunderstandings and associated potential escalation.
The Netherlands flies in direct support of NATO, with deployment taking place under national responsibility. NATO shares its intelligence needs with the Netherlands, but the Netherlands then determines which needs it meets and how this is done. The processing of the information also remains a national responsibility.
In addition to protecting the NATO treaty area, Defense is also gaining experience with the MQ-9 in allied operations for the first time. The commitment is for a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 12 months.
Approximately 135 employees are involved in the deployment. About 40 soldiers maintain the aircraft at Campia Turzii air base in Romania. The majority of the detachment carries out its tasks at Leeuwarden Air Base. These consist of piloting the MQ-9 and processing the intelligence products.
A 35-member army team is building the encampment for their air force colleagues at the Romanian base prior to deployment.
(Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: https://www.defense-aerospace.com/ Netherlands Ministry of Defence)
12 Oct 23. Germany to Give Ukraine One Patriot, Two IRIS-T Batteries Worth Over €1bn.
Second Winter Package for Ukraine.
“To protect critical infrastructure in the beginning of winter and to provide further military support, Germany is providing Ukraine with additional air defense with PatriotPhased Array Tracking Radar to Intercept on Target, IRIS-T and Gepard,” explains Defense Minister Boris Pistorius before another meeting of the Ukraine Contact Group.
Ahead of the 16th meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, also known as the Ramstein Format, the German Defense Minister assured Ukraine of further support. “With this new ‘winter package’ we are increasing the operational readiness of the Ukrainian armed forces even further in the coming months,” said Pistorius.
The heart of the winter package is additional air defense systems Patriot and IRIS-T. This air defense package alone is worth around one billion euros.
Last week, the Federal government promised Ukrainian President Zelenskiy a second Patriot system. This comes directly from Bundeswehr stocks. In addition to the fire control center and the radar device, it includes eight other launchers and probably more than 60 guided missiles. The training of Ukrainian soldiers on the German system is scheduled to begin in the next few weeks.
With the delivery of additional IRIS-T systems, Germany is fulfilling its commitments to Ukraine from the past few months. In October, Ukraine will receive a third IRIS-T SLM with medium-range guided missiles and a second IRIS-T SLS with short-range missiles.
Ammunition, vehicles, weapons
There is also another extensive support package for the Ukrainian special forces. This consists of vehicles, weapons and personal equipment worth more than 20m euros. This will make the Ukrainian special forces even more powerful, Pistorius emphasized.
The continuous supply of ammunition is also ensured. Additional 155 mm ammunition is currently being received. In addition, another ten Leopard 1 A5 main battle tanks, three more Gepard anti-aircraft gun tanks, 15 protected transport vehicles and almost 20 protected medical vehicles will arrive in Ukraine in the next few weeks.
In Europe, Germany is Ukraine’s most important supporter, second worldwide after the USA. This affects both the supply of equipment, ammunition and equipment as well as the training of Ukrainian troops. By the end of 2023, a total of 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers are expected to have been trained in Germany. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: https://www.defense-aerospace.com/German Ministry of Defence)
12 Oct 23. The Netherlands Supplies Drones, Demining Equipment and Ammunition to Ukraine. The Netherlands has again supplied military goods to Ukraine. The package includes drones, demining equipment and ammunition. These are desperately needed and support the operations of the Ukrainian armed forces to regain territory from the Russian occupiers. Minister Kajsa Ollongren reports this in an update to the House of Representatives. In addition, a donation was made to Ukraine from the International Fund for Ukraine (IFU). Those involved came together today at a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group (UDCG).
With the latest delivery, the total value of the equipment supplied is now €2.1bn. Nearly €1bn (€993m) of this concerns direct deliveries. This concerns the book value of the equipment. The replacement value now amounts to €1.41bn. Defense wants to replace or supplement the transferred equipment as quickly as possible where necessary.
Furthermore, €468m worth of commercially acquired military equipment has now been donated. The other costs come from various military funds to which the Netherlands contributes.
Donation from IFU
One of those funds is the IFU. A donation worth more than € 100m has now been made from this. The package includes tracks and engines for armored vehicles, emergency bridges and equipment for tanks. Furthermore, it concerns equipment for clearing mines.
“In recent weeks, Ukrainian forces have made progress against heavily defended Russian posts. This shows that the Ukrainians have the ability to defeat the Russian invasion, as long as we can provide the means to do so,” the IFU statement said. In addition to the Netherlands, Denmark, Lithuania, Norway, the United Kingdom, Iceland and Sweden are participating in this donation.
Effects on the armed forces
The deliveries of equipment have a long-term effect on the readiness of the Dutch armed forces. Under the current circumstances this is still assessed as acceptable. For example, there is a delaying effect on acquisition projects. Defense hopes to alleviate this by, among other things, accelerating the purchase of replacement equipment. However, prices are rising rapidly because the market for defense equipment is under pressure.
Air Force Coalition for Ukraine
After the UDCG meeting, it was also announced that the United States, with the support of Denmark and the Netherlands, is taking the lead in providing long-term support to the Ukrainian air force. The core of this is the initiative of the Netherlands and Denmark to organize training on and ultimately delivery of the F-16 to Ukraine. The Netherlands is working on setting up an F-16 training center in Romania. Pilots from NATO allies and Ukraine will eventually be trained here.
European Peace Facility
€3.5bn has currently been made available from the European Peace Facility (EPF). This amount serves as compensation for deliveries of military equipment from EU countries to Ukraine. The Netherlands has declared €833m as of August 21. More than €242m has already been compensated. Not all claims are fully reimbursed. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: https://www.defense-aerospace.com/ Netherlands Ministry of Defence)
12 Oct 23. Ukraine Deploys Thousands of Lithuanian C-UAS Jamming Devices to Counter Russian Drones. The Ukrainian military currently operates thousands of advanced Lithuanian counter-unmanned aircraft systems (C-UAS), bolstering their defense capabilities against Russian drones.
Since the onset of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Lithuania has provided Ukraine with numerous anti-drone weapons, in addition to howitzers, helicopters, and various other weapon systems.
Shortly after the commencement of the conflict, the Lithuania-based company NT Service initiated the supply of Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Systems (C-UASs) to the Ukrainian armed forces.
In June 2022, it was reported that the company dispatched 110 counter-unmanned aircraft systems (C-UAS) weapons, which were produced and transferred at a cost exceeding EUR 1.5m (equivalent to $1.56m).
However, Ivan Sybyriakov, who serves as the manager of the unmanned systems center at Ukrainian state-owned SpetsTechnoExport (STE), was quoted saying that the Ukrainian army currently has “thousands” of operational Lithuanian counter-unmanned aircraft systems (C-UAS) in its possession.
The C-UAS solutions discussed here include the Skywiper Electronic Drone Mitigation 4 – System (EDM4S) and the Skywiper Omni.
Users highly regard the Skywiper EDM4S solution as the top choice for regular soldiers due to its impressive long-range capability (covering 3 to 5 kilometers in line-of-sight) and relatively lightweight, just 6.5 kilograms.
This system can remain operational for up to one hour and effectively disrupts unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) operating on various frequencies, including 900 MHz, 2.4 GHz, 5.8 GHz, and GNSS L1 1.5 GHz bands.
Furthermore, custom frequencies can be incorporated based on specific customer requirements and local regulations, as noted by Sybyriakov.
Complementing the handheld jammer, the army deploys the Skywiper Omni, an omnidirectional jamming device weighing 11.3 kg with a domed range of 500 meters. It operates on the same frequency bands as the handheld jammer.
Sybyriakov highlighted its user-friendliness and suitability for mobile groups or medical evacuation scenarios, particularly in cases where most vehicles are not armored.
Volunteers and activists have also facilitated the delivery of this C-UAS to Ukraine through various fundraising campaigns. For instance, Lithuanian journalist and activist Andrius Tapinas initiated a fundraising campaign to aid Ukraine in July.
The objective was to acquire and transport SkyWiper Omni anti-drone systems to supply these equipment to units stationed in the vicinity of Bakhmut and on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River.
Lithuanian-manufactured counter-drone rifles have proven highly effective in the ongoing conflict by successfully countering Russian drones.
In October 2022, a video released by the Ukrainian military showcased Ukrainian soldiers’ effective use of the SkyWiper counter-drone rifle.
The video depicted soldiers aiming the rifle at a small drone in the sky, causing the drone to descend towards them. One soldier skillfully intercepted and captured the drone before it touched the ground.
The Ukrainian military has been utilizing the SkyWiper counter-drone system since 2021, initially deploying it against Russian separatist forces in Donbas and currently using it against the Russian Army.
Despite its earlier deployment, the anti-drone gun only gained significant attention in April when a photograph of Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, the Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, holding the weapon circulated widely on social media.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials have also praised the anti-drone weapons manufactured in Lithuania, hailing them as the most effective rifles.
In July 2023, Yurii Shchyhol, who leads the agency responsible for safeguarding Ukraine’s information security and battle-tested cyber defenses, highlighted the value of anti-drone rifles in radioelectric combat.
He emphasized their portability and ability to neutralize enemy UAVs when of high quality effectively. Shchyhol pointed out that the most effective anti-drone rifles are those produced in Ukraine and the Baltic states.
The term “Baltic” drone gun refers to the Lithuanian EDM4S Skywiper system, which weighs approximately 12 pounds and is equipped with four 10-watt antennas designed to disrupt both a drone’s control signals and its access to satellite navigation systems such as GPS and GLONASS.
These Skywiper systems, with a maximum range of two to three miles, have reportedly demonstrated effectiveness in countering Russia’s Eleron-3 reconnaissance drones.
Nonetheless, the presence of thousands of Lithuanian counter-unmanned aircraft systems (C-UAS) within the Ukrainian army’s arsenal significantly enhances their capabilities in countering enemy drone fleets. (Source: UAS VISION/The Eurasian Times)
12 Oct 23. North Korea’s Kim shares letters with Russia’s Putin, wishes victory over ‘imperialists.’ North Korea leader Kim Jong Un exchanged letters with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, vowing to advance their ties and wishing him victory over what he called hegemony and pressure from imperialists, Pyongyang’s state media KCNA said.
The letters mark the 75th anniversary of bilateral relations, and came about a month after Kim’s rare trip to Russia during which he and Putin discussed military cooperation, including over North Korea’s satellite programme, and the war in Ukraine.
In his letter, Kim said he was extremely satisfied with their “candid, comprehensive” discussions during the visit. He pledged to further develop relations to a “new height” and wished Putin good luck in resisting Western pressure over Ukraine.
“I hope that the Russian people, who have set out to build a strong nation, will always achieve only victory and glory in their struggle to protect the country’s sovereignty, dignity, security and peace by crushing the imperialists’ persistent hegemonic policy and anti-Russia scheme to isolate and stifle it,” Kim said.
Putin, in his message to Kim, said their recent meeting was more evidence of developing ties.
“I am convinced that to implement the agreements will contribute to further expanding the constructive bilateral cooperation for improving the well-being of the peoples of the two countries and ensuring security and stability in the Korean peninsula and Northeast Asia as a whole,” he said.
Kim’s visit has stoked U.S. concerns that a revived Moscow-Pyongyang axis could bolster Russia’s military in Ukraine and provide Kim with missile technology banned under U.N. resolutions.
Washington has accused has accused North Korea of providing weapons to Russia for its war in Ukraine, including artillery shells, shoulder-fired rockets and missiles.
Pyongyang and Moscow have denied any arms transactions, but promised to deepen defence cooperation. (Source: Reuters)
12 Oct 23. Czech Republic, Denmark to supply tanks, fighting vehicles to Ukraine. The Czech Republic and Denmark will jointly supply heavy military equipment to Ukraine in the coming months, the Czech Defence Ministry said on Thursday. It said the supplies would be from Czech defence companies and financed from the Danish budget.
The joint plan was first announced last month. The Czech ministry detailed on Thursday that the first shipment would include nearly 50 infantry fighting vehicles and main battle tanks, 2,500 hand guns, 7,000 rifles, 500 light machine guns, 500 sniper rifles and equipment for electronic warfare and intelligence. The supplies will include new and modernised equipment. The ministry said last month the first shipment would include 15 modernised T-72EA main battle tanks. Further shipments will include 500 heavy machine guns, 280 recoilless guns, 7,000 anti-tank weapons, 10,000 hand grenades, 60 mortars, and a large number of anti-drone systems.
The funding agreement is similar to a deal reached last year with the Netherlands and the United States. The ministry said last month about half of an expected 90 tanks under that agreement have already been delivered. (Source: Reuters)
11 Oct 23. Ukraine could begin to receive F-16s from Spring 2024.
The US has also moved to lead an air capability coalition, alongside Denmark and the Netherlands, who were previously tasked with Ukraine’s F-16 requirements. Ukraine could begin to receive F-16 aircraft from Spring of 2024 as part of initial operating capability being provided by Nato allies to Kyiv, as it combats Russian forces following Moscow’s February 2022 invasion of its neighbour.
The development was revealed during a press briefing on 11 October following the 16th meeting of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group (UDCG), which comprises 50 nations that are committed to supporting Ukraine in its ongoing war against Russia.
Briefing the media, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said that it “would take months” to deliver an F-16 capability to Ukraine, potentially by the Spring of 2024 “at the earliest”.
US to lead ‘air capability coalition’
The US will also move to the front of the Nato pack in helping to deliver air combat capabilities to Ukraine following the announcement it would lead an ‘airforce capability coalition’, with other such groupings focused on armour, artillery, naval, IT infrastructure, and landmine clearance.
Austin said that the US would “step up to help lead” the air force component of the capability coalitions, with Denmark and the Netherlands described as “co-leading” the group.
Previously, Denmark and the Netherlands were tasked with leading the UDCG efforts to deliver F-16 fighters to Ukraine, with both countries committed to the provision of platforms as well as training. Norway is also committed to some F-16 provision.
The US, for its part, is not currently committed to the provision of F-16s from its own inventory, although is assisting in training Ukrainian combat pilots at sites in the United States.
It is not known what factors resulted in the move for the US to ‘co-lead’ the air capability coalition.
Regarding the purpose of capability coalitions, Austin said the structures would see various countries tasked with leading the delivery of system relevant to their domain, with the US now forming a leading role in air combat provision.
Exact numbers of F-16 aircraft that will be provided to Ukraine is not clear, although it could be upwards of 42 platforms, depending on national commitments. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
10 Oct 23. Suppressed GPS in Ukraine fuels development of US Army navigation tech. The suppression of GPS signals in Ukraine amid Russia’s ongoing invasion is informing the development of next-generation U.S. Army navigation and targeting technologies.
The service is investing in alternative sources of situational awareness — where troops are and where they are headed, for example — in anticipation of future fights and digital interference at a massive scale.
The jamming and spoofing seen in Eastern Europe provides an “incredible learning environment,” according to Michael Monteleone, the director of the Army’s Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing/Space Cross-Functional Team. The U.S. considers Russia a top-tier national security hazard.
“You can see real-world, potential-adversary capabilities, and then we can put that up and measure how we’re doing on our side,” Monteleone said in an interview with Defense News. “Underpinning everything we do, whether its a signal, a sensor, whatever it may be, is continuous experimentation in a realistic threat environment.”
The cross-functional team participates in the so-called PNT Assessment Experiment, which puts both emerging and established tech through the wringer. The experiment in 2020 looked at dozens of systems including Stryker combat vehicles and the M777 howitzer.
“I talk about resiliency via diversity. That’s one of the things that we can measure up and say: ‘Hey, in these types of environments, one, are we experimenting correctly, and, if GPS isn’t there, can we still operate? How long can we operate? And how confidently can we operate?’ ” Monteleone said. “We need that human factor of what it’s going to mean to the soldier on the ground to operate in an environment or to not have a weapon system work the way, perhaps, that they expected it to.”
The Army in recent months dedicated hundreds of millions of dollars to jam-resistant navigation gear.
The service in late September inked a $318m deal with BAE Systems for embeddable M-code GPS cards.
In April, the Army tapped TRX Systems to produce second-generation Dismounted Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing Systems, which soldiers can carry in the field. That deal was worth $402 m.
“Across the board, GPS isn’t the only game in town,” Monteleone said. “You have to have other capabilities to achieve [assured positioning, navigation and timing].” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
11 Oct 23. Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged Ukraine’s backers to keep lethal assistance flowing “without any pauses” as US Congressional dysfunction threatens future assistance and allies are preoccupied by Hamas’s assault on Israel. “We are now in a special situation on the front line . . . where it is important to put pressure, and without any pauses,” the Ukrainian president said on Wednesday, adding that Russia must not be able to “rest, recover”. Zelenskyy said he would use his first visit to Nato’s headquarters to press for air defence, artillery and ammunition, which he described as critical to bringing about “a just end” to the war. His administration told the Financial Times that they expected to leave Brussels with new pledges of military support from their Nato allies. Zelenskyy compared Hamas’s assault on Israel this weekend to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and said his people stood with Israel because they knew what it meant to suffer terror attacks.
The Ukrainian president said it was important for Israel to know it was not alone. “Go to Israel on the ground and support people there,” he said in a plea to other world leaders, as he stood next to Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg. Following Hamas’s surprise attack over the weekend, US president Joe Biden and his national security team have held marathon meetings on the crisis and have rushed ammunition and air defence to Israel. The Biden administration has said that both Israel and Ukraine remain top priorities. The US on Wednesday announced a new package of $200mn in new lethal assistance, including AIM-9M missiles for air defence, ammunition for Himars, 155mm and 105mm artillery rounds and other weaponry. The UK also pledged more than £100mn in lethal aid, including systems to help Ukrainian armed forces clear minefields, maintain its vehicles and shore up defensive fortifications. Germany on Tuesday announced a $1.1bn winter package, including air defence systems such as an additional Patriot and an additional IRIS-T system and Gepard anti-aircraft gun tank. The US has about $5bn left in funds to send new weapons to Ukraine after Congress has yet to appropriate more money for Kyiv. But officials point to another figure, $1.6bn in funds to replenish its stockpiles, as limiting the US from sending more than a few months’ worth of additional weapons and material.
The Biden administration has tried to reassure Ukraine and other allies that it remains committed to Kyiv after Republicans last month stripped financing for Ukraine from a bill to fund the US government, in an indication of Ukraine’s decreasing popularity among Republican voters. Still, US officials point to generally widespread support among Republican and Democratic members of Congress for Ukraine as a sign that the aid will eventually be approved. Congressional Republicans are set to begin voting on Wednesday to elect a new Speaker of the House, but the process could drag on. Zelenskyy had said earlier on Telegram that continued support “will be critical to our resilience this winter”, when Ukraine expects a surge of Russian missile and drone attacks on energy infrastructure in an attempt to plunge the war-torn nation into darkness as it did last year. Zelenskyy’s visit comes at a critical time in its counteroffensive. He acknowledged on Wednesday that the fighting is “difficult”. Since he left Ukraine on Tuesday, Russian forces have stepped up attacks in the eastern Donetsk region, marking their first offensive actions in months. Launched in May with the goal of clawing back lost territory, Ukraine’s counteroffensive has so far struggled to gain momentum. As Zelenskyy spoke in Brussels, Russian forces pushed ahead with an assault on the eastern industrial city of Avdiivka. Oleksandr Stupun, a military spokesperson for Ukraine’s southern front, said Russian forces were fighting with “all their might to show some kind of success and are trying to surround Avdiivka”. The industrial city is home to Ukraine’s largest coking plant, which videos posted on social media and verified by the Financial Times showed was targeted by artillery attacks and air strikes on Tuesday. Some videos showed plumes of smoke rising from the battered city, while those posted by Ukrainian drone operators revealed a convoy of Russian armoured vehicles and infantry troops moving towards the frontline. Of Avdiivka’s prewar population of 30,000, authorities say only a little more than 1,000 residents remain in the city, much of which has been reduced to rubble by relentless shelling. (Source: FT.com)
10 Oct 23. Kongsberg sending counter-drone network to Ukraine, pitching it to US. Kongsberg is sending its integrated counter-drone system to Ukraine to help guard against incoming Iranian-made loitering munitions, and hopes to convince the U.S. Army and Marine Corps to consider the system for future vehicle programs.
The Norwegian company builds the Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station, or CROWS, used atop U.S. Army vehicles as well as the remote weapon station on the Marine Corps’ Marine Air Defense Integrated System.
But the company sees where its Integrated Combat Solution software, which would tie together multiple vehicles, unmanned systems and sensors, “could change the way we fight, and doctrinally change and improve survivability to our end user,” John Carlsson, the company’s vice president of business development in the United States, told Defense News this week at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference.
That digital backbone of the Integrated Combat Solution was already fielded in Norway and other Scandinavian countries, Carlsson said, and it’s now set to help Ukrainians as they manage a complex airspace that includes Iranian Shahed loitering munitions.
Kongsberg announced in August it was part of a team sending the CORTEX Typhon counter-drone system to Ukraine. Kongsberg is providing the remote weapon station and the ICS software, which will be informed by sensors provided by Teledyne and will sit atop Dingo 2 vehicles donated by the Norwegian government.
Vetle Dragsten, Kongsberg’s technical director for integrated defense systems in the C4ISR business line, told Defense News that the Shahed drone, with a 2-meter wingspan, is the focus of the system heading into Ukraine.
“That’s kind of the main objective — to engage those type of aerial threats without having to employ higher-range, more expensive air-to-air missiles,” he said.
Ivar Simensen, the company’s vice president of communications, added that Norway and the United States already donated Kongsberg’s Norwegian Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System to Ukraine, but the hope is to preserve those for more sophisticated aerial threats like jets and helicopters, while using the CORTEX Typhon to neutralize drone threats.
Dragsten demonstrated the ICS technology at the company’s display booth at AUSA, showing how the weapon station operator in the back of the vehicle could see on the display screen what areas other nearby vehicles were looking at, feeds from surveillance drones, other external sensors, and more. The operator could use that information to fire their own vehicle’s weapon, fire the weapon of another manned or unmanned vehicle within the network, or delegate targets to different vehicles for them to monitor.
Carlsson said this type of networked operation is at the heart of what Marines are seeking with their Advanced Reconnaissance Vehicle. Kongsberg is working with BAE Systems on its bid for the program, and Carlsson said the company had worked with the Marine Corps during its requirements development phase to shape the direction of the vehicle program.
The Marine Corps is considering BAE’s proposal alongside two others from Textron and General Dynamics Land Systems.
On the Army side, Carlsson said the development and acquisition of the Robotic Combat Vehicle would be an opportune time for the service to make the leap to ICS technology.
Fourteen versions of CROWS exist within the Defense Department, Carlsson said, each with their own software version. A technology refresh effort is already aimed at replacing these with the current Mainline 5 software, which is compatible with ICS tech.
Carlsson said Kongsberg is working with the manufacturers competing for the Robotic Combat Vehicle program and talking to the Army about shaping its requirements. If the service chose to pursue ICS technology for the robotic program and for the CROWS refresh, the Army would have a digital backbone that would allow for more sophisticated operations, he argued.
Kongsberg ranked 61st place in Defense News’ Top 100 list this year, pulling in about $1.4bn in defense revenue in 2022. (Source: Defense News)
11 Oct 23. Biden Administration Announces Additional Security Assistance for Ukraine. Today, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced additional security assistance to meet Ukraine’s critical security and defense needs. This announcement is the Biden Administration’s forty-eighth tranche of equipment to be provided from DoD inventories for Ukraine since August 2021. This package includes additional air defense capabilities, anti-tank weapons, and other equipment to help Ukraine counter Russia’s ongoing war of aggression.
This security assistance package is an important signal of United States’ continued commitment to supporting the Ukrainian people in the face of Russian aggression. This package utilizes assistance previously authorized for Ukraine during prior fiscal years under Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA) that remained after the PDA revaluation process concluded in June.
The United States remains committed to working with Allies and partners to provide Ukraine with capabilities to meet its immediate battlefield needs in the near term, and the Biden Administration calls on Congress to meet its commitment to the people of Ukraine by passing additional funding to ensure Ukraine continues to have what it needs to defend itself against Russia’s brutal war of choice. Security assistance for Ukraine is a smart investment in our national security. It helps to prevent a larger conflict in the region and deter potential aggression elsewhere, while strengthening our defense industrial base and creating highly skilled jobs for the American people. The capabilities in this package, valued at up to $200 m, include:
- AIM-9M missiles for air defense;
- Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems (c-UAS) equipment;
- Additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS);
- 155mm and 105mm artillery rounds;
- Precision aerial munitions;
- Electronic warfare equipment;
- Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked, Wire-Guided (TOW) missiles;
- AT-4 anti-armor systems;
- Small arms and more than 16 m rounds of small arms ammunition;
- Demolitions munitions for obstacle clearing; and
- Spare parts, training munitions, maintenance, and other field equipment. (Source: US DoD)
11 Oct 23. Belgium agrees to send F-16s to Ukraine, but not before 2025. The Belgian government said it will provide an undisclosed number of F-16 fighters to Ukraine from 2025, a decision some are calling a compromise between the political factions that make up the country’s ruling coalition.
On Oct. 11, Belgium put an end to the wavering stance it had adopted in recent months on the issue of sending F-16s to Ukraine.
“Belgium from 2025 will be in a position to supply F-16s to Ukraine,” Prime Minister Alexander De Croo told reporters following his meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Brussels.
The official added, however, that such a decision needs to be confirmed by the country’s next government following elections next May.
The announcement originally was made by Defense Minister Ludivine Dedonder on Wednesday in an interview with local broadcaster Bel RTL, during which she explained that the specifics of the agreement will “depend on the build-up of Belgium’s new F-35 capabilities.”
The deal will further entail the training of Ukrainian pilots and mission planners, which will begin in 2024, and two Belgian companies, Sabena Engineering and Patria Bec, will provide essential technical support for the F-16 fleet, according to a Belgian MoD press release. In September, Belgium joined the coalition of a dozen other countries providing F-16 courses.
Rodolphe Polis, press officer at the Belgian MoD, told Defense News that the country currently has 53 F-16s in its inventories.
In 2018, Brussels signed a multi-billion dollar contract with Lockheed Martin for the supply of 34 F-35 fighter jets that are set to replace the aging F-16s it possesses. However, the timeline for these deliveries has already been delayed.
“In April 2023, Minister Dedonder confirmed that only two F-35s out of the initial four would be delivered during the first quarter of 2024,” Alain De Neve, researcher at the Belgium-based Royal Higher Institute for Defense think tank told Defense News. “This means that the F-16 to F-35 transition could face hiccups, meanwhile Belgium is obliged to maintain an operational fleet of aircraft, particularly for its joint missions in the Baltics.”
Belgium contributes to the surveillance of this airspace as part of NATO’s enhanced vigilance activities and Baltic Air Policing. It was also one of the first international customers of the F-16, receiving its first deliveries over 40 years ago.
The news that the jets will not reach Ukraine before two more years have deceived some observers, as Ukrainian officials have been heavily lobbying for these weapons to reach the war-torn country as soon as possible.
For De Neve, it is somewhat surprising that Belgium would be singled out on this issue.
“The decision to send F-16s to Ukraine represents, as is often the case in Belgium, one based on a compromise between the various political sensitivities that compose the ruling coalition government… This can be a complex process and it is true, out of sync with events,” he said. (Source: Defense News)
11 Oct 23. U.S. Aims to Bolster Ukraine’s Long-Term Air Defense Capabilities. The U.S. will lead a newly formed coalition focused on developing Ukraine’s air force in a bid to bolster that country’s long-term capability to defend itself against Russian aggression, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said today.
The announcement, unveiled by Austin following the 16th meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group in Brussels, marks the formation of several distinct coalitions focused on building Ukraine’s future force capabilities. Those coalitions are comprised of the more than 50 countries that make up the UDCG.
“By leading this capability coalition, the United States will coordinate closely with Ukraine and other partners with the focus on developing Ukraine’s F-16 fighter aircraft capabilities,” Austin said.
Austin said Denmark and the Netherlands will join the U.S. in leading the effort to ensure Ukrainian forces can defend their skies.
The two European countries previously announced that they would supply Ukraine with F-16s. Norway has also joined the effort to outfit Ukrainian pilots with the U.S.-made jets.
The U.S. has joined the countries in training Ukrainian pilots and aircrews on how to employ and maintain the advanced fighters.
Austin also announced Estonia and Luxembourg will lead a group of countries focused on supporting Ukraine’s information technology infrastructure.
Lithuania will lead a separate coalition focused on neutralizing mines in Ukrainian territory.
“I’m also proud to announce that the United States will be joining several more of these coalitions as they form in the coming months, including those focused on Ukraine’s air defense, armor and artillery,” he said. “That shows how much we can do when we come together.
“It also shows American leadership matters,” he continued. “And as Ukraine’s troops face this key moment on the battlefield, we must ensure that America’s indispensable assistance to Ukraine continues to flow without disruption.”
Austin said the United States’ support for Ukrainian forces remains unwavering as evidenced by the more than $43.9 bn in U.S. aid that has flowed to Ukraine since Russia’s unprovoked invasion.
That figure includes the latest security assistance package valued at $200 m, which was announced by U.S. officials as the UCDG gathered for today’s meeting.
The latest package includes a series of air defense systems, as well as additional artillery and rocket ammunition, precision aerial munitions, antitank weapons, and equipment to counter Russian drones.
Austin said the U.S. is “in great company” as dozens of countries step up to aid to Ukraine.
“Some 50 other members of this contact group have committed more than $33 bn in direct security assistance to Ukraine,” he said. “In fact, the three biggest European donors to Ukraine — Germany, the United Kingdom and Poland — have all committed more than the United States as a percentage of gross domestic product. So have many other European countries, including Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and all three of the Baltic states.”
Several of those countries announced additional rounds of assistance as the contact group gathered in Brussels.
The display of unwavering unity comes at a critical time for global stability as Israel battles Hamas terrorists responsible for a series of deadly attacks over the weekend.
Following the attacks, the U.S. enhanced its military force posture in the region to strengthen its deterrence against further attacks.
That enhanced posture includes the positioning of the USS Gerald R. Ford Strike Group in the Eastern Mediterranean and bolstered Air Force fighter presence in the region.
The U.S. has also begun to flow military aid to Israel and will soon provide additional rounds to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system.
Austin reaffirmed U.S. support to Israel as he kicked off his remarks in Brussels.
“Like any other country, Israel has the right to defend itself,” he said. “As says, Israel has a duty to defend itself.”
“And make no mistake, the United States will remain able to project power and to direct resources to tackle crises in multiple theaters,” Austin said. “So, we will stand firmly with Israel as we continue to support Ukraine.” (Source: US DoD)
11 Oct 23. Ukraine Delivers 2,000 AI-Powered Drones to Troops. Approximately 2,000 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) software have been dispatched to frontline troops by the Army of Drones government program, Ukraine’s Digital Transformation Minister Mykhailo Fedorov said on Oct. 6.
“The Autel EVO MAX 4T drones were purchased with funds from the state program ‘Army of Drones,” Fedorov said in a Telegram post.
“They will assist in safely carrying out reconnaissance, adjusting artillery fire, and uncovering even well-concealed Russian objectives thanks to AI.”
According to the minister, the AI software automatically identifies various types of targets, tracks them from high altitudes, and sends the data to military commanders.
“We send large batches of UAVs to the front every week, while attack squads of the ‘Army of Drones’ continue to set new records,” he added (Source: UAS VISION/NV Ukraine)
11 Oct 23. Germany to send Ukraine $1bn in air defense tech, plus more tanks. Germany will send about €1bn (U.S. $1.1bn) worth of air defense systems to Ukraine as part of a second “winter package” for the embattled country, the German Defence Ministry said in a statement Tuesday.
The support will include a Patriot air defense system and two IRIS-T surface-to-air systems, as well as 10 more Leopard 1 A5 main battle tanks, three Gepard anti-aircraft guns, armored trucks and ambulances, in addition to more than €20 m in kit specifically for Ukraine’s special forces.
The latest support follows a €400 m package for Ukraine announced in September that included ammunition, mine-resistant combat vehicles and drones. After initial reluctance to provide Ukraine with military aid following Russia’s invasion of the country, Germany has now overtaken the U.K. and Poland in terms of support, with only the U.S. providing more equipment.
“I’m grateful to Germany for today’s large military aid package,” Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. “As winter approaches, this is exactly the support we need.”
The new package includes a second Patriot air defense system to be supplied by Germany, including a fire control unit, radar array and eight launchers, as well as more than 60 missiles, the ministry said. The equipment will come directly from the German military’s stocks, and the country plans to start training Ukrainian personnel on the system in the coming weeks.
Germany will also supply Ukraine with a third IRIS-T system with medium-range missiles, plus a second IRIS-T for short-range defense, also with missiles, with delivery to take place this month.
The announcement comes ahead of a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, the alliance of countries backing Ukraine with military equipment.
“To protect critical infrastructure at the onset of winter and to provide further military support, Germany is supplying Ukraine with additional air defense,” German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said. “With this new `winter package’ we are further increasing the operational readiness of the Ukrainian armed forces in coming months.”
Germany had promised Zelenskyy last week it would deliver Ukraine a second Patriot system, while the delivery of further IRIS-T systems fulfils commitments made in a prior month, the ministry noted.
The additional Leopard 1 tanks and Gepard guns, 15 armored transport vehicles, and 20 armored ambulances will arrive in Ukraine in the coming weeks, the ministry said. Germany said more 155mm ammunition is currently being supplied. Germany said a total of 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers will have been trained in the country by the end of 2023. (Source: Defense News)
10 Oct 23. US Army embracing remote maintenance beyond Ukraine. The U.S. Army is applying the telemaintenance capability it developed in a parking lot in Poland to its most challenging logistical theater — the Indo-Pacific, according to the head of Army Materiel Command.
“It has been a great enabler to the warfight in Ukraine,” Gen. Charles Hamilton told Defense News in an interview just ahead of the Association of the U.S. Army conference. “It’s one of the game changers in a sense.”
After Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the United States quickly began sending weapons to Ukraine. Ukrainian troops soon needed help maintaining M777 howitzers they had received, so the Army began offering remote maintenance support from Poland.
Hamilton said he has witnessed telemaintenance in action, in one case watching maintainers talk Ukraine soldiers through fixing a piece of equipment “that was already blown up” to get it back into the fight to fire a few more rounds.
Now, AMC, working with U.S. Army Pacific and the 8th Theater Sustainment Command, is readying to use this telemaintenance capability in the challenging environment of the Indo-Pacific. It will first try it in a variety of exercises, including the Defender series and Talisman Sabre in Australia, Hamilton said.
“Not only are we going to take it to INDO-PACOM, we’re going to take it to national training centers as well out at Fort Irwin, California, and Fort Polk, [Lousiana], and that way we make it a part of our doctrine and how we train,” Hamilton said. “That’s how good of an enabler it is.”
The virtual maintenance effort that began last year has since grown dramatically. The Army built a standalone facility as well as a repair parts warehouse. Ukrainian soldiers can now communicate with staff at the Army’s U.S.-based depots, giving maintainers access to expert engineers and original equipment manufacturers.
Experts stateside and in European depots and installations are communicating with Ukrainian maintainers via text message chats, prerecorded video or live stream to work through issues or guide a repair.
Remote capability isn’t new, but the connection between international coalition forces and Ukraine is growing by the day and providing a road map for future battlefield plans, Lt. Gen. Christopher Mohan, the deputy chief of AMC, told Defense News in an interview earlier this year.
The Army is using this experience to inform its thinking about “distributed sustainment operations on a highly lethal battlefield,” said Mohan, who previously led Army theater sustainment in Europe. (Source: Defense News)
11 Oct 23. Major new package of support for Ukraine’s counter-offensive announced by Grant Shapps.
The Defence Secretary will today announce a new package of support for Ukraine and the signing of further air defence contracts, procured through the International Fund for Ukraine.
The MSI-DS Terrahawk Paladin will be provided to Ukraine as part of the air defence package
A new package of military support for Ukraine, worth more than £100m, will be announced by the Defence Secretary today. It will help its armed forces clear minefields, maintain its vehicles, and shore up defensive fortifications to protect critical national infrastructure.
The support package, which will be provided using money from the International Fund for Ukraine (IFU), will be jointly announced today by the Defence Secretary and his counterparts from the IFU partner nations at a meeting of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
It comes as the final contract from the previously announced IFU package of air defence capability was signed, which will see more than £70m of capabilities provided to Ukraine – including the MSI-DS Terrahawk Paladin, a platform which can track and destroy drones and protect critical national infrastructure.
The UK and Denmark launched the IFU in 2022 and the UK engages closely with Ukraine to procure capability that best meets the needs of its armed forces. Since then, five other nations have contributed to the IFU, demonstrating the unity and resolve of allies and partners in supporting Ukraine.
Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said: “During my recent visit to Kyiv, I assured President Zelenskyy that the UK’s support for Ukraine and their most urgent needs is unwavering. Today I am proud to announce that the UK, alongside our allies, is delivering on that promise with new contracts to provide Ukraine with critical air defence systems to protect civilians from Putin’s barbaric bombing campaign, and more than £100m of new equipment pledged to give Ukrainian soldiers what they need to breach Russia’s deadly minefields.”
Today, the Defence Secretary attends his first meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council, where ministers from member countries and Ukraine will discuss the ongoing international response to Putin’s illegal invasion.
It provides an opportunity for the Defence Secretary to raise the UK’s concerns regarding the crisis in Israel and Gaza, the developing situation regarding reported damage to undersea infrastructure between Finland and Estonia, as well as the UK’s recent deployment to Kosovo in support of NATO’s peacekeeping mission.
The announcement comes after the Prime Minister met President Zelenskyy at the European Political Community in Grenada last week. The Ukrainian President has said that air defence is Ukraine’s most critical capability need, and the Terrahawk Paladin will help deliver what Ukraine needs to protect its citizens from Putin’s indiscriminate campaign of missile strikes against civilian targets.
This latest package will also provide crucial equipment to help Ukrainian soldiers cross minefields, bridging capabilities to assist with river and trench crossings, and heavy duty plant vehicles to destroy Russian non-explosive obstacles and help build defensive positions to protect Ukraine’s critical national infrastructure.
Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, Chief of the Defence Staff, said: “This new package of support is the latest in an unprecedented and sustained effort by 50 nations to give Ukraine the tools it needs to counter Russia’s aggression and recover what it has lost. This winter, Russia will seek to undermine the morale of the Ukrainian people and divide the international community, but in both cases Putin underestimates the strength and resilience of his opposition. If we stick together, and stay the course, then Russia will continue to lose, Ukraine will prevail and the rules that matter to global security will endure.”
Ukraine is now the most mined country on earth, which has provided the biggest obstacle in the path of Ukraine’s counter-offensive this year and mine clearing capabilities will be essential to the Armed Forces of Ukraine in pushing forward.
Equipment from both the air defence package and mobility support package will arrive in the coming months, joining other IFU-funded equipment already in Ukraine, including around 100 uncrewed aerial systems.
The IFU uses financial contributions from international partners to procure priority military assistance for Ukraine. This will ensure the continued supply of military support – lethal and non-lethal – to Ukraine through 2023 and beyond.
To date, £785m has been raised through the IFU following contributions from the UK, Norway, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland and Lithuania.
The IFU has recently expanded to include Lithuania on its Executive Panel, which is now formed by the UK and six other nations which provide oversight and assurance of the Fund, including the endorsement of capability packages. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
10 Oct 23. Ukraine’s Zelenskiy hails ‘good news’ on air defence after talks in Romania. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Tuesday he had “good news” on artillery and air defence supplies after talks with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis in Bucharest, but gave no details.
“My main accent today was air defence. And I’m glad that Ukraine was heard by the Romanian side,” Zelenskiy, who has been seeking more arms to defend Ukraine against Russia’s invasion, told a joint press conference in the Romanian capital.
Zelenskiy also said everything possible should be done to prevent Russia turning part of the Black Sea or the Danube region into what he described as a maritime “dead zone”.
Russia has pulled out of a deal that guaranteed safe shipments of Ukrainian grain via the Black Sea, and has been attacking Ukrainian port infrastructure on the Danube River.
Zelenskiy also touched on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, reiterating that he believed it was in Russia’s interests to inflame war in the Middle East.
“We believe that Russia is one of those who helped and is behind these respective steps,” Zelenskiy said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier on Tuesday that a suggestion by Zelenskiy on Monday that it was in Russia’s interests to stoke war in the Middle East to weaken global unity had “absolutely no basis”. (Source: Reuters)
09 Oct 23. Ukraine races to make more war drone components at home.
- First-person-view drone use expanding fast in Ukraine war
- Kyiv pushing to make more parts domestically
- Manufacturers and suppliers fret over reliance on China
- Russia and Ukraine both use FPVs to attack each other
As Ukraine seeks the upper hand against Russia’s far larger military with tens of thousands of cheap attack drones, producers and officials are working to have more components made locally to avoid exposure to shifting geopolitics.
The FPV (first-person-view) drone sector, a rapidly expanding part of Ukraine’s defence effort, relies on complex supply lines to get commercially available electronic components, made mostly in China, to Ukrainian startups.
A month ago, Beijing introduced new export controls covering drones and their components. Five Ukrainians involved in the manufacture or supply of FPV drones said they had not yet choked off supplies, but highlighted the need to ramp up local output.
Taras Chmut, head of Ukraine’s largest military procurement charity Come Back Alive – which has recently moved into FPV drone procurement – said domestic makers were already making FPV engines, control units, frames and wiring.
But he said the new industry needed to build expertise.
“It’s an evolutionary process. You cannot simultaneously localize everything in Ukraine. Some things you may never be able to localize.”
FPV drones – fast, nimble and difficult to pilot – began to be used as a cost-effective way to strike targets after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.
Their deployment on both sides of the war has skyrocketed this year, and footage of FPVs costing less than $1,000 damaging multi-m dollar targets like tanks and air defence systems abounds online in videos Reuters has not been able to verify.
Mykhailo Fedorov, digital transformation minister and a champion of the drone sector throughout the war, told Reuters that switching to domestic manufacturing of components was a slow but necessary process.
“I think we can do this in several years, and that this needs to happen so that we can scale up more quickly in our own production,” he said.
Fedorov estimated the number of drones at the front, an ever-fluctuating figure, to be in the tens of thousands, and said most of those were FPVs.
In just three days in August, Ukrainian military aid foundation Come Back Alive, alongside state-backed fundraising platform United24, raised $6.4 m for 10,000 FPV drones.
However, Chmut said that the potential for FPV use on the frontline was not being fully maximised because of supply disruptions and lack of funding for faster production.
“Right now … there are more FPV pilots than (the) capacity to provide them with machines and weaponry.”
China, which has denied Western allegations its companies have helped Iran supply Russia with drones, cited a desire to help maintain world peace in its announcement of the new export controls from Sept. 1.
Its commerce ministry did not respond to a request for comment on fears expressed by Ukrainians that the curbs were designed to limit their access to drones for use in the war.
Four Ukrainian drone makers and suppliers told Reuters the vast majority of commercially available parts for FPV drones were sourced from China.
“It’s a lot. But there are other countries apart from China, and Ukraine is actively working to swap out components for domestic ones,” said Chmut.
Parts are often bought in small batches on e-commerce platforms, but larger orders need agreements with producers.
Two makers told Reuters they used intermediary companies in other countries when ordering from China so that no mention of Ukraine appears on purchase and shipping documents – as makers appear scared to sell to Ukraine.
An FPV pilot said when he buys parts on Chinese online platforms to make FPVs for his own use, he cannot be sure that they will still be available a month later.
This slows the process down, as every time parts are changed the drone has to be re-tested. (Source: Reuters)
Founded in 1987, Exensor Technology is a world leading supplier of Networked Unattended Ground Sensor (UGS) Systems providing tailored sensor solutions to customers all over the world. From our Headquarters in Lund Sweden, our centre of expertise in Network Communications at Communications Research Lab in Kalmar Sweden and our Production site outside of Basingstoke UK, we design, develop and produce latest state of the art rugged UGS solutions at the highest quality to meet the most stringent demands of our customers. Our systems are in operation and used in a wide number of Military as well as Homeland Security applications worldwide. The modular nature of the system ensures any external sensor can be integrated, providing the user with a fully meshed “silent” network capable of self-healing. Exensor Technology will continue to lead the field in UGS technology, provide our customers with excellent customer service and a bespoke package able to meet every need. A CNIM Group Company