07 Mar 22. Russia-Ukraine latest news: Vladimir Putin sets out price of peace.
- Ukraine rejects Russia’s offer of ‘humanitarian corridors’
- Fresh talks under way at the Belarusian border
- Over 1.7 million refugees fled the conflict so far
- ‘Our sons were sent as cannon fodder’, say Russian mothers
- Lunchtime briefing: Five key developments this morning
- Russian military domineer staff at captured nuclear power plant
- Listen to the latest episode of our daily Ukraine podcast
Russia has set out its demands to end the conflict in Ukraine for the first time.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said to Reuters that Russia had told Ukraine it was ready to halt its military action “in a moment” if Kyiv met its conditions.
The demands include:
- Ceasing all military action
- A change to the Ukrainian constitution to enshrine neutrality
- Acknowledgement of Crimea as Russian territory
- Recognition of Luhansk and Donetsk as independent
It is the most explicit statement from Moscow so far of the terms it wants to impose on Ukraine in response for halting what it calls its “special military operation”, after Russian forces invaded the country on February 24.
Earlier today, Ukraine said that Russia is “manipulating” the West by claiming it will observe ceasefires to allow civilians to evacuate.
The new “humanitarian corridors” announced by Moscow today all lead to either Russia itself or its ally Belarus – the move was immediately denounced by Kyiv as an immoral stunt. (Source: Daily Telegraph)
07 Mar 22. Latest Updates from Sibylline.
- While this would have clear implications for Western firm’s operations inside Russia, namely limiting their access to networks in country, such a move could also be accompanied with efforts to cause simultaneous disruption to international telecommunications and internet services. While it is important to note that the cutting of undersea cables would be unlikely to result in the total disconnection of internet services for impacted Western countries, such a move would cause significant disruption regardless, including slower internet speeds, higher latency and certain sites becoming inaccessible. However, this could have more notable implications in terms of its cascading consequences on networked systems, such as GPS, which could result in significant business disruption far beyond the initial slowing of internet speeds.
- The cutting of undersea cables would be a largely deniable operation, though Western naval vessels are likely tracking Russian submarines and indeed the Yantar to anticipate potential areas of operation. It’s important to stress that these latest developments are not confirmation of plans to conduct such an operation, but rather present a realistic scenario of a possible Russian response to Western sanctions – indeed the cutting of undersea cables has been one of our key triggers and indicators. While verified data on this is obviously very hard to acquire, Sibylline will continue monitoring this situation ahead of the 15 March deadline allegedly set by the Russian Digital Ministry. In the meantime, it is advisable that all clients conduct resiliency testing of their internet reliant operations and services in case of such a scenario in the coming weeks.
- Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban today, 7 March, signed a decree that bans the shipment of lethal weapons to Ukraine from its territory. The decree reiterates that Budapest allows NATO troops to be stationed in the west of the country, and will allow shipments of weapons across its territory between other NATO countries. The move comes after the EU’s dramatic policy shift soon after the invasion when it formally approved the shipment of lethal weapons to Ukraine. This has been condemned by Moscow and raised concerns about the increasingly blurred line between direct and indirect involvement in the war, particularly if and when EU shipments of over 70 MiG-29s and Su-25s reach Ukrainian forces. Nevertheless, as Orban remains a traditional ally of Moscow, the new decree marks the first major dissension within the EU towards this policy, though this alone will not prevent further supplying of weapons through other EU borders.
- The Chief of the Radiation, Chemical and Biological Defence Forces of the Russian Armed Forces has today, 7 March, alleged that laboratories in Lviv, Kharkiv and Poltava have worked with various biological pathogens, including the bubonic plague, anthrax, brucellosis and diphtheria. State news agency TASS stated that if confirmed, this would implicate Ukraine in a violation of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). This is just the latest allegation brought by the Russians that Ukraine poses a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threat to Russia and indeed the wider region. As previously assessed, this latest allegation is likely aimed at not only justifying the ongoing war in Ukraine, but potentially the utilisation of CBRN in the future, particularly if the invasion begins to go poorly for Russian forces and protracts into a statemate.
- Today, 7 March, the Russian government published a full list of foreign states and territories it deems to have committed “unfriendly actions against Russia, its companies and citizens”, namely partaken in issuing sanctions. The list includes: the US, Canada, all EU states, UK, Ukraine, Montenegro, Switzerland, Albania, Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, North Macedonia, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Micronesia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Taiwan.
- Anti-war demonstrations in Russia have reportedly resulted in more than 7,500 arrests, with media reports indicating that at least 150 journalists have fled the country in recent days. As a result of the harsh government clampdown, a number of Western media outlets have suspended their operations in Russia. As a result, obtainment of credible information about the war in Ukraine will become increasingly more difficult within Russia, with the state-owned media increasingly reinforcing their official narrative and attempts to describe the war as an operation to “de-nazify” Ukraine. However, the longer the conflict goes on and as the number of Russian military casualties grows, compounded by the ongoing exodus of western companies from Russia, the inevitable economic contraction will only exacerbate social discontent moving forward.
- Ukraine: Western NGOs and aid organisations will remain increasingly vulnerable to malicious cyber activity amid Ukraine’s growing humanitarian crisis. On 4 March, multinational technology firm Amazon disclosed that a number of charities and NGOs providing aid to Ukraine are being targeted in a malware campaign. While Amazon has refrained from providing additional details about these attacks, including what type of malware or which organisations are being targeted, the US firm claimed that such activity is aimed at either spreading confusion or disrupting “medical supplies, food, and clothing relief”. These ongoing attacks underline the growing cyber threat posed to organisations attempting to provide humanitarian support to either Ukraine or its citizens. This is the latest cyber campaign targeted against such entities since Belarusian hacking group UNC1151 began launching spear phishing attacks against European government employees assisting Ukrainian refugees earlier this month (see Sibylline Cyber Daily Analytical Update – 3 March 2022). Further such malicious cyber activity is highly likely to be launched against Western organisations providing aid or assistance to Ukraine and its refugees in the coming days, especially as Russia’s intensifying military operations in Ukraine continue to heighten the country’s mounting humanitarian crisis.
- On 4 March, multinational technology firm Amazon disclosed that a number of charities and NGOs providing aid to Ukraine are being targeted in a malware campaign. While Amazon has refrained from providing additional details about these attacks, including what type of malware or which organisations are being targeted, the US firm claimed that such activity is aimed at either spreading confusion or disrupting “medical supplies, food, and clothing relief”. These ongoing attacks underline the growing cyber threat posed to organisations attempting to provide humanitarian support to either Ukraine or its citizens. This is the latest cyber campaign targeted against such entities since Belarusian hacking group UNC1151 began launching spear phishing attacks against European government employees assisting Ukrainian refugees earlier this month (see Sibylline Cyber Daily Analytical Update – 3 March 2022). Further such malicious cyber activity is highly likely to be launched against Western organisations providing aid or assistance to Ukraine and its refugees in the coming days, especially as Russia’s intensifying military operations in Ukraine continue to heighten the country’s mounting humanitarian crisis.
- The Russian Ministry of Defence announced that beginning 1000 Moscow time (0700 GMT), Russian forces would hold their fire and open numerous humanitarian corridors in key Ukrainian cities to allow civilians to leave. Such corridors will include Kyiv, Sumy, Kharkiv and Mariupol, but notably they will lead into Belarus and Russia itself respectively, with few options for civilians to evacuate to Ukrainian-held territory. An airlift will also reportedly be organised to evacuate Kyiv residents to Russia. President Volodymyr Zelensky has decried the move as a cynical and immoral stunt. The announcement comes after two consecutive attempts to organise a humanitarian corridor from the besieged city of Mariupol failed after both sides accused one another of continuing shelling almost immediately after an agreed ceasefire was due to come into effect. Given these recurrent ceasefire violations, all future humanitarian corridors cannot be relied upon to guarantee safe passage, though the fact the corridors today are leading into Belarus and Russia may provide an incentive for Russian forces to observe a ceasefire. However, this could also be an attempt by Russia to implicate Ukrainian forces in attacking humanitarian corridors, and so once again it remains unclear whether these corridors will hold, or indeed how many Ukrainian citizens will take up the offer to leave for Russia and Belarus.
- Intense artillery bombardments continued overnight in all major cities on the frontline, with fighting remaining particularly heavy in Mariupol, Kharkiv and Mykolaiv. The growing intensification of artillery strikes is likely aimed at demoralising the inhabitants, but this raises issues about how long such intense bombardments can last as stocks of artillery shells are likely to be expended fairly rapidly over the coming weeks. Nevertheless, Russian movements to the north, west and especially the east of Kyiv continue as Russian forces regroup ahead of the expected encirclement and push on the city in the coming days, with more ground taken east of the Dnieper. Ukrainian forces have claimed they retook the town of Chuhuiv in Kharkiv oblast, indicating that the region east of Kharkiv is still very much contested. It remains to be seen whether Russia’s humanitarian corridors will result in a meaningful ease in fighting across the north and east, but fighting in the south continues as Russian forces attempt to cut of Mykolaiv and seize the strategically important river crossing. Despite this, however, the US stated on 6 March that it has seen no signs of an amphibious assault against Odesa, and it does not believe one is imminent.
- Unnamed US officials quoted in the Wall Street Journal on 6 March have claimed that Russia is actively recruiting Syrian fighters to assist Russian forces in Ukraine. One unnamed official stated that some Syrian fighters are already in Russia preparing to fight, indicating a potential effort to employ mercenaries experienced in urban warfare to help take key urban areas, including Kyiv. It remains unclear how many Syrians are being recruited, but their presence during the assault on Kyiv would likely have a psychological impact designed to undermine the morale of the defenders, in a similar vein to the very public deployment of Chechen special forces, the so-called Kadyrovtsy.
- The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stated on 6 March that is concerned that Russian forces have severely limited communications in and out of the Zaporizhzia nuclear power plant under, switching off some mobile networks and internet access. The IAEA has also stated that it is having problems reaching staff at the Chernobyl nuclear plant taken by Russian forces early during the invasion, raising safety concerns at both plants. The lack of transparency will make it harder to ascertain what is happening inside the plants and for international watchdogs such as the IAEA to independently monitor radiation levels. It should be noted that Russian forces are estimated to be as close as 20 miles to another Ukrainian nuclear plant, the South Ukraine plant in Yuzhnoukrainsk, north of Mykolaiv (see map above for locations of all active nuclear plants in Ukraine). Russian officials have since the invasion reiterated the supposed nuclear threat posed by Ukraine, with some Russian sources spreading apparent misinformation alleging that Ukraine is attempting to create a weapons programme inside these facilities. Such accusations could ultimately be used by Moscow to justify the war or, in the extreme worst-case scenario, the use of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) weapons if the war starts to go poorly.
- US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken stated on 6 March that the US and numerous European allies are actively considering banning Russian oil imports, in the latest indication that Western policymakers remain determined to continue escalating sanctions against Russia. Benchmark Brent prices soared to more than USD 139 a barrel today on the back of the announcement, 20 per cent up on its price on Friday, 4 March, and the highest rate since the 2008 financial crisis. While US or European officials have provided no details on the breadth or scope of such a ban, the prospect of even limiting Russian oil exports would have a profound impact on global energy prices, placing additional pressure on OPEC to increase production and for strategic reserves to be disbursed to keep prices lower. However, numerous Western oil companies have already unilaterally limited their operations with Russia, including BP and ExxonMobil, and UK refinery workers continue to refuse to unload Russian oil on even foreign-flagged and owned vessels. As such, the combination of unilateral corporate divestment, labour activism and formal government import sanctions are likely to further drive up oil prices, hitting a key source of revenue for the Kremlin.
- A third round of negotiations between the Ukrainian and Russian delegations could reportedly take place today, against the backdrop of an increasingly desperate humanitarian situation and failed efforts to establish humanitarian corridors to allow for civilian evacuations. As such, announcements of other humanitarian corridors today must be treated with caution, as further ceasefire violations are highly likely. Ultimately the exacerbating humanitarian crisis and the high visibility of the war will continue to add pressure on corporates to break ties with Russia, with Netflix and TikTok amongst the latest companies to suspend their services in the country over Moscow’s aggression and clampdown on reporting about its actions in Ukraine. Although the Western allies have so far abstained from sanctioning Russian oil and gas, the growing number of unilateral actions by major business leaders will likely add to the pressure on governments to follow suit – however, such sanctions are still unlikely in the coming days, unless an even more dramatic escalation by Russia occurs.
- The situation on the Western borders and along western evacuation routes remains largely unchanged since yesterday. Evacuation options from Kyiv remain limited and the security situation volatile. Heavy fighting continues in Irpin as Russian forces try to take strategically important towns northwest to Kyiv. Fighting continues along the E40, with Russian army tanks targeting Buzova, Makariv and Zhytomyr yesterday, rendering that route unsafe. The P04 highway to Fastiv also remains unsafe as Russian advances were recorded at Byshiv. While H01 and E95 may remain the safest evacuation routes from Kyiv, both routes saw sporadic shelling in previous days. Of note, Russian forces conducted aerial attacks against Bila Tserkva along the P32 west to H01 on Saturday (5 March), highlighting increasing risks south to Kyiv as well. (Source: Sibylline)
07 Mar 22. Joint Statement on Russian invasion of Ukraine: UK – Canada – Netherlands. The Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom, Canada and the Netherlands make a joint statement on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.We, the leaders of the United Kingdom, Canada and the Netherlands are appalled by Putin’s unprovoked and brutal invasion of Ukraine. This is a horrific attack on a democratic, sovereign European nation, as well as a clear violation of Russia’s obligations under international law, including the United Nations Charter.
We call on Russia to uphold its obligation to fully respect international humanitarian law and human rights law, and to implement an immediate ceasefire that allows civilians safe passage, food and medical supplies.
We have seen extensive and indiscriminate use of force against civilians. This is prohibited by international humanitarian law. We will not spare any effort to ensure that violations of international law in Ukraine are investigated, that evidence is gathered and that the perpetrators are held accountable.
That is why the UK, Canada and the Netherlands joined the largest referral to the International Criminal Court in history to expedite an investigation. That is also why we welcome the urgent establishment by the UN Human Rights Council of a Commission of Inquiry with a strong investigative mandate. We stand ready to provide the necessary cooperation and assistance to support the ICC Prosecutor in its work.
We also condemn in the strongest possible terms Russia’s use of force in the direct vicinity of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants and other nuclear facilities and call on Russia to immediately cease these hostilities.
We will continue to stand strong in supporting Ukraine and applaud the heroism and strength of Ukraine’s resistance led by President Zelenskyy. Together we have committed significant economic and humanitarian assistance.
The UK, Canada and the Netherlands are close defence partners, both bilaterally and within NATO. In past weeks, our three countries have played a crucial role in strengthening the global response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and have each committed to deploy additional forces to bolster NATO’s deterrence and defence posture in Eastern Europe in response to Russian aggression.
We have consistently underlined Ukraine’s right to defend itself against this unlawful aggression and have responded to requests by Ukraine for the provision of defensive military equipment. We call on the international community to stand by Ukraine’s right to self-defence and to respond to calls by Ukraine to strengthen its capabilities to defend itself. We will continue to do so and are bringing in further packages of defence support to Ukraine.
We have also worked with partners to bring in an unprecedented package of purposeful and punitive sanctions to isolate Russia’s economy and will continue to impose severe costs on Russia given this unconscionable attack. While the humanitarian situation in Ukraine continues to deteriorate, we reiterate the call for Russia urgently to de-escalate and to prioritise the protection of civilians. Ukrainian, UN and other humanitarian agencies, medical personnel, and non-governmental assistance providers must be given safe, rapid and unimpeded access. We have already committed substantially to the common humanitarian efforts of the UN, Red Cross and coordinating humanitarian aid organisations. The breakdown in the Mariupol ceasefire is a major concern. The lesson from history is that for such ceasefires to work they need to be as concrete, actionable and specific as possible.
In particular, we wish to highlight the plight of women, children, the elderly and other vulnerable groups fleeing the violence in Ukraine. We underscore the importance of addressing their specific protection needs, from family separation to psychosocial stress and trauma, to exploitation and all forms of violence. Our collective efforts to address the crisis in Ukraine must continue to address the needs of the most vulnerable.
The breadth of support across the international community for defending the principles of democracy and freedom has been unprecedented. This was demonstrated by the UN General Assembly when the international community unequivocally condemned Russian aggression, and committed to upholding the rules based international order with 141 member states voting in favour of the resolution entitled ‘Aggression against Ukraine’.
Today we invite Ukraine’s friends to unite in support of a shared commitment to sustain and coordinate the political, humanitarian, economic and defence support that is so vital for a free and independent Ukraine, and to continue to hold Russia to account for its invasion. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
07 Mar 22. Russian spy ship that can ‘cut undersea cables’ is spotted in English Channel. A Russian spy ship that can allegedly cut undersea cables was today spotted in the English Channel. Vladimir Putin’s Yantar was caught loitering between the coast of Devon and France and appears to be heading north. Trackers noticed the vessel, armed with state-of-the-art stealth subs, on website Marine Traffic. It commonly lurks above internet cables and other crucial undersea infrastructure, sparking fears they could be cut. Defence analyst H I Sutton said: “Controversial Russian ‘research vessel’ Yantar has entered the English Channel heading northbound.
“It is currently south of the Lizard.
“The ship has turned on its AIS (automated Information System) so it is currently visible on AIS aggregators.”
Yantar was last month seen off the Irish coastline in what was being viewed as a push from Putin to scare the West. It zig-zagged through seas north of Mayo and Donegal over at least one commercial sub-sea cable. It then moved to the west of Killybegs fishing harbour before scuttling off into the Atlantic. (Source: THE SUN)
07 Mar 22. RAF Poseidon aircraft joins Nato patrolling mission. The maritime patrol aircraft will conduct surveillance missions to detect and track Russian warships in the Mediterranean Sea. The British Royal Air Force (RAF) has announced that an RAF Poseidon aircraft has joined a Nato patrolling mission amid the Ukraine conflict. The maritime patrol aircraft, along with other Nato ships and aircraft, will conduct surveillance missions to detect and track Russian warships in the Mediterranean Sea. As part of a collective defence mission, Nato partners monitor and shadow Russian vessels discreetly from a distance. Such Russian warships include Slava Class cruisers, Udaloy Class destroyers and other support vessels. RAF CXX Squadron squadron leader Dave Higgins said: “We were able to use Poseidon, one of the most capable intelligence platforms in the world, to support our allies by getting in close and identifying those ships. As one of the only nations within Nato with this platform, our involvement enhances the ability of the Alliance to monitor Russian activity.
“It was a great demonstration that a British sovereign maritime patrol capability is ready to assist allies and partners in combined operations. It was also important to show that we’re standing alongside our Nato partners and other nations, contributing to the security of the Alliance.”
The Boeing Poseidon MRA1 (P-8A) is a maritime patrol aircraft. The multi-role aircraft can perform a variety of missions including surveillance and search and rescue missions. According to the RAF website, it has a maximum speed of 907km/h with a ferry range of around 7,242km. Last week, RAF announced that Typhoon jets took to the skies as part of pre-planned Enhanced Vigilance Activity. The operation aims to defend allied airspace against possible aggression. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
07 Mar 22. RAF F-35B fighter jets join Nato’s Enhanced Vigilance patrols. The aircraft reinforce Nato’s response to Russian aggression in Ukraine. The British Royal Air Force (RAF) has announced that its newest fifth-generation F-35B Lightning fighter jets have taken to the skies to join Nato’s Enhanced Vigilance patrols. The multi-role, stealth fighter jets from RAF Marham are participating in Nato’s air defence policing mission for the first time. The deployment reinforces the alliance’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as well as contributes to additional security of Europe. The F-35Bs, along with Typhoon FGR4 jets, will patrol Nato airspace over Romania and Poland. Typhoons are operating from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire and RAF Akrotiri in CyprusStation commander RAF Marham said: “The F-35 is an incredibly capable and versatile aircraft. Operating alongside the Typhoons to maintain the integrity of the European airspace and contribute to the Nato mission, the fifth-generation fighter is a world-beating fighter aircraft which can simultaneously provide information warfare, intelligence gathering and air-to-air missions.” The UK’s F-35B Lightning aircraft can be equipped with numerous air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons and execute several missions simultaneously, including air defence policing while collecting intelligence. The RAF Voyager air-to-air refuelling aircraft from RAF Brize Norton is providing additional fuel for the fighters taking part in the enhanced mission. Last week, RAF’s Poseidon aircraft joined a Nato collective defence patrolling mission to conduct surveillance missions. The maritime patrol aircraft, along with other ships and jets, is involved in tracking Russian warships in the Mediterranean Sea. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
07 Mar 22. BIS Takes Further Actions to Target Russian Strategic Industries. The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has taken two additional actions in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, both effective March 3:
- The first rule builds on existing restrictions BIS put in place on the Russian deepwater oil and gas exploration and extraction industries in 2014 by imposing a policy of denial on such items and applying similarly stringent restrictions on a wide variety of items necessary for refining oil. Russia is one of the world’s leading producers of oil products and these restrictions will limit its ability to raise revenue from the sale of refined products, including gasoline, that it can use to support its military efforts. The text of this rule is available here and is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on March 8, 2022.
- The second rule implemented today adds 91 new parties in 10 countries to the Commerce Department’s Entity List. The parties were added to the list upon a determination by the interagency End-User Review Committee (ERC), made up of the Departments of Commerce (Chair), Defense, State, Energy, and where appropriate, Treasury, based upon their involvement in, contributions to, or other support of the Russian security services, military and defense sectors, and military and/or defense research and development efforts. These entities are located in: Russia (81), United Kingdom (3), Estonia (3), Spain (2), Malta (2), Kazakhstan (1), Latvia (1), Belize (1), Singapore (1), and Slovakia (1) (NOTE: Total entries is 96 as some entities operate in multiple countries). A full list of the entities by country is available in the text of the rule here and is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on March 9, 2022. https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection/2022-04925/export-administration-regulations-further-imposition-of-sanctions-against-russia-with-the-addition (Source: glstrade.com)
07 Mar 22. No significant Russian movement after 11 days of war on Ukraine: Pentagon. The latest details about Russia’s attack on Ukraine:
Russian invasion still slowed, airspace over Ukraine still contested, Pentagon says.
6:33 p.m. EST March 6
Though Russia has now committed about 95% of the combat power it amassed along Ukraine’s borders, the Pentagon has seen “limited changes on the ground” while the airspace remains contested, a senior U.S. defense official said Sunday evening.
After 11 days of war, “Russian forces continued efforts to advance and isolate Kyiv, Kharkiv and Chernihiv across the north and east are being met with strong Ukrainian resistance,” the official said, in an email to reporters.
“There does not appear to be any significant movement along the Russian axes,” the official said. “Leading elements remain outside these city centers. We cannot give specific distances today.”
The long convoy of Russian troops and vehicles headed south to Kyiv “continues to be stalled,” the official said, offering details on the condition of anonymity.
“We assess that the Russians have now committed inside Ukraine somewhere near 95% of the combat power they had amassed along the border.
Fighting continues in the south, near the cities of Kherson and Mykolaiv, the official said.
“We cannot independently verify reporting of Russian forces firing on protesters in Kherson,” said the official, who added that the Pentagon has not observed an amphibious landing in or near Odessa either.
“Nor do we assess one is imminent,” the official said.
“We’ve observed continued ongoing fighting and efforts to encircle Mariupol,” the official said. “There continue to be reports of wide-spread utility outages (water and electricity).”
Earlier in the day, Ukraine claimed Russia violated a second ceasefire agreement. The official could not independently verify those claims.
“We continue to observe that the airspace over Ukraine is contested,” said the official. “Ukrainian air and missile defenses remain effective and in use. The Ukrainian military continues to fly aircraft and to employ air defense assets.”
The official could not independently verify Ukrainian claims of Russian aviation losses.
“We are aware of the Ukrainian military’s release of videos and numbers of Russian aircraft shot down,” the official said. “We cannot independently verify those incidents, but neither are we in a position to refute them. Both sides have taken losses to both aircraft and missile defense inventories. We are not going to speak to numbers. We assess that both sides still possess a majority of their air defense systems and capabilities.”
As of today, the Pentagon said that approximately 600 Russian missile launches have occurred since the invasion began, the official said.
“Again, these are of all different types of missiles,” the official said. “We believe the Ukrainian people in most parts of the country still have means of communication, access to internet and the media.
The official added a list of reports that could not be verified or corroborated, including:
*reports of the use of cluster munitions or thermobaric weapons.
*reports that the Russians are calling up reserves.
*reports of Russian naval infantry loading on LSTs.
*reports of Ukrainian claims that they shot down one enemy Su-25 fighter jet, two Su-34 fighter-bombers, two Su-30 SM planes, and four helicopters today.
*reports that Russia dropped 1,000 pound bombs near Chernihiv.
US gives ‘green light’ for NATO allies to send military planes to Ukraine, Blinken says
1:25 p.m. EST March 6
Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday said the United States would approve of NATO allies sending fighter jets to Ukraine.
“That gets the green light,” said Blinken on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
“In fact, we’re talking with our Polish friends right now about what we might be able to do to backfill their needs if in fact they choose to provide these fighter jets to the Ukrainians,” Blinken said.
Blinken said the countries are in close contact about the proposal for the U.S. to provide fighter jets to Poland if Poland sends jets to Ukraine, confirming a Wall Street Journal report released earlier Sunday.
Earlier Sunday, Poland’s prime minister’s office tweeted Poland would not send fighter jets to Ukraine.
On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked U.S. lawmakers to help provide more warplanes for his military.
-Jessica Edwards, Military Times
Russian forces tightening grip on Zaporizhzya nuclear plant, IAEA says
12:30 p.m. EST March 6
The International Atomic Energy Agency has said Russian forces are tightening their grip on the Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant, Ukraine’s largest, that they seized last week.
The director general of the agency, Rafael Mariano Grossi, said Sunday Ukrainian staff members are now required to seek approval for any operation, even maintenance, from the Russians, and that they have impeded normal communications by switching off some mobile networks and internet at the site.
Ukraine’s regulatory authority said that phone lines, as well as e-mails and fax, are no longer working. Grossi said he is “extremely concerned about these developments,” adding that for the plant to operate safely, “staff must be allowed to carry out their vital duties in stable conditions, without undue external interference or pressure.”
-The Associated Press
Evacuation effort in Mariupol halted for second day
9:55 a.m. EST March 6
Plans to evacuate civilians from a besieged port city in Ukraine collapsed Sunday for the second time along with an expected Russian cease-fire, Ukrainian officials said as they tried to persuade Russia to agree on terms for safely getting residents out of areas under fire near Ukraine’s capital.
Residents expected to leave the port city of Mariupol during a 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. local ceasefire, Ukrainian military authorities said earlier in the day. Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko said the planned evacuations were halted because of an ongoing assault by Russian troops.
“There can be no ‘green corridors’ because only the sick brain of the Russians decides when to start shooting and at whom,” Gerashchenko said on Telegram.
The news dashed hopes of progress in easing, much less ending, the war in Ukraine, which is now in its 11 day and has caused 1.5 million people to flee the country. The head of the U.N. refugee agency on Sunday called the exodus “the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.
The presidents of Turkey and France, as well as Pope Francis, appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin to negotiate to end the conflict.
Separately, Ukraine’s national security service said Russian forces fired rockets at a physics institute in the city of Kharkiv that contains nuclear material and a reactor. Russian troops already took control of the Zaporizhzhia plant in Ukraine, as well as Chernobyl, the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster.
The security service said a strike on the nuclear facility in Kharkiv could lead to “large-scale ecological disaster.” The service said on Facebook Sunday that the Russians were firing from Grad launchers. Those missiles do not have precise targeting, raising concern that one would go astray.
Ukrainian President Voldymyr Zelenskyy reiterated a request for foreign protectors to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine, which NATO so far has ruled out because of concerns such an action would draw the West into the war.
“The world is strong enough to close our skies,” Zelenskyy said in a video address on Sunday.
Putin warned Saturday that Moscow would consider a third-party declaration to close Ukrainian airspace to be a hostile act.
The disappointment for women, children and older adults who waited to leave Mariupol and the nearby city of Volnovakha while able Ukrainian men stayed behind to fight came after a similar cease-fire deal collapsed Saturday and foreign leaders sought to bring diplomacy to bear on ending the war.
Putin told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could be halted only “only if Kyiv ceases hostilities and fulfills the well-known demands of Russia,” according to the Kremlin’s readout of the phone call the two leaders held on Sunday.
Putin earlier listed “demilitarization” and “denazification” of Ukraine, recognition of Crimea as part of Russia, and recognition of the separatist regions in eastern Ukraine as independent states as the Kremlin’s main demands.
“Hope was expressed that during the planned next round of negotiations, the representatives of Ukraine would show a more constructive approach, fully taking into account the emerging realities.” The third round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators is scheduled for Monday.
In a highly unusual move, Pope Francis said Sunday that he had dispatched two cardinals to Ukraine, saying the Vatican was will to do everything it could to bring peace to end a conflict that began on Feb. 24 when Russia invaded Ukraine.
“In Ukraine, rivers of blood and tears are flowing,” the pontiff said in his traditional Sunday blessing. “This is not just a military operation, but a war that sows death, destruction and misery.’’
Oleksiy Arestovich, an adviser to Zelenskyy, said Sunday that Ukrainian officials and international humanitarian organizations were working with Russia through intermediaries to establish humanitarian corridors from Bucha and Hostomel, which are Kyiv suburbs where there has been heavy fighting.
After the cease-fire in Mariupol failed to hold Saturday, Russian forces intensified their shelling of the city and dropped massive bombs on residential areas of Chernihiv, a city north of Kyiv, Ukrainian officials said.
In Mariupol, bereft mothers mourned slain children, wounded soldiers were fitted with tourniquets and doctors worked by the light of their cellphones as bleakness and desperation pervaded.
Blinken says US considering a “backfill” of Polish combat jet stock
7:50 a.m. EST March 6
The U.S. government is considering sending fighter jets to Poland, should that country decide to provide Ukraine with Soviet-era combat jets, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.
“We are looking actively now at the question of airplanes that Poland may provide to Ukraine and looking at how we might be able to backfill should Poland choose to supply those planes,” Blinken said in Moldova, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The statement came after a desperate plea by Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for more aircraft — especially those his pilots can fly — and a no-fly zone as his nation faces an increasingly devastating Russian onslaught. Blinken made his comments during a stop through Europe to reassure allies there about U.S. support in the wake of Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Blinken, according to the Wall Street Journal, said the U.S. is working with Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian officials to get an “up-to-the-minute assessment of their needs.”
Poland’s prime minister’s office, however, on Sunday dismissed reports that an arrangement was in the works to provide Ukraine combat aircraft, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“Poland won’t send its fighter jets to #Ukraine as well as allow to use its airports,” the chancellery of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki tweeted, calling one synopsis of that report “Fake News.”
Poland flies MiG-29 combat jets that were produced by the Soviet Union in the late 1970s, along with U.S. Lockheed Martin Corp. F-16 fighter jets, as well as other aircraft types, according to published reports.
NBC reported that the deal would involve Poland donating its old Russian-made MiG fighters to Ukraine, and then selling Poland U.S.-made F-16 jets to replace the Soviet-era fighters.
“We are working with the Poles on this issue and consulting with the rest of our NATO allies,” a White House spokesperson told NBC. “We are also working on the capabilities we could provide to backfill Poland if it decided to transfer planes to Ukraine.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a “desperate plea” to U.S. senators on Saturday to send more planes to help the country fight the Russian invasion.
Zelenskyy made the request on a call joined by more than 300 people, including senators, some House lawmakers and aides.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, said in a statement that Zelenskyy made a “desperate plea for Eastern European countries to provide Russian-made planes to Ukraine.”
“I will do all I can to help the administration to facilitate their transfer,” Schumer said.
Schumer told Zelenskyy the U.S. lawmakers are inspired by him and by the strength and courage of the Ukrainian people, according to another person on the call who was granted anonymity to discuss it.
Zelenskyy’s focus “was on control of Ukrainian airspace, asking either for a [no-fly zone] or sending Ukraine Russian-made airframes and drones so that they can protect themselves,” Rep. Elissa Slotkin, a Michigan Democrat and former acting assistant Defense Secretary and CIA analyst, said in a Tweet Saturday morning,
The U.S. Congress also is working on a $10 billion package of military and humanitarian aide, and Schumer told Zelenskyy that lawmakers hope to send it quickly to Ukraine, the person said.
Zelenskyy told senators he needs planes and drones more than other security tools, according to a senior Senate aide granted anonymity to discuss the private meeting.
-Howard Altman, Military Times, Associated Press reporter Lisa Mascaro in Washington
Russians shell Ukraine cities as safe passage again promised in south
7:30 a.m. EST March 6
On Day 11 of Russia’s war on Ukraine, Russian troops shelled encircled cities and a pro-Russian official said safe-passage corridors would open again for residents of the besieged port city of Mariupol.
The number of Ukrainians forced from their country increased to 1.5 million and the Kremlin’s rhetoric grew, with Russian President Vladimir Putin warning that Ukrainian statehood is in jeopardy. He likened the West’s sanctions on Russia to “declaring war.”
Here’s a look at key things to know about the conflict Sunday:
Promise of safe passage from two cities — again
A pro-Russian official said safe-passage corridors would open again for residents of Mariupol on Sunday, a day after a promised cease-fire in the besieged port city collapsed.
Ukrainian officials confirmed that evacuations from the city would take place starting from 12 p.m. local time.
Ukrainian officials said Russian artillery fire and airstrikes had prevented residents from leaving before the agreed-to evacuations got underway Saturday. Putin accused Ukraine of sabotaging the effort.
Russia has sought to cut off Ukraine’s access to the Sea of Avrov in the south. Capturing Mariupol could allow Russia to establish a land corridor to Crimea, which it annexed in 2014.
Eduard Basurin, spokesman for the military in separatist-held Donetsk territory, said safe passage corridors for residents would also be opened for residents of Volnovakha.
What else is happening on the ground?
Russian forces launched hundreds of missiles and artillery attacks across the country, including dropping powerful bombs on residential areas of Chernihiv, a city north of the capital of Kyiv, Ukrainian officials said. But a mileslong Russian armored column threatening the capital was still stalled outside Kyiv.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukrainian forces were holding key cities in the central and southeastern part of the country, while the Russians were trying to block and keep encircled Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, Chernihiv and Sumy.
Ukrainian forces were also defending Odesa, Ukraine’s biggest port city, from Russian ships, Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovich said.
Russian troops took control of the southern port city of Kherson last week. Ukrainian forces have managed to keep control of key cities in central and southeastern Ukraine, Zelenskyy said.
Zelenskyy pushes for a no-fly zone
Zelenskyy pushed his call for foreign countries to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine. Establishing a no-fly zone would risk escalating the conflict by involving foreign militaries directly. Although the United States and many Western countries have backed Ukraine with weapons shipments, they have sent no troops.
Zelenskyy said in a video address on Sunday that “the world is strong enough to close our skies.”
NATO countries have ruled out policing a no-fly zone, which would bar all unauthorized aircraft from flying over Ukraine. Putin said Saturday that Moscow would consider any third-party declaration of a no-fly zone over Ukraine as “participation in the armed conflict.”
Directly witnessed by The Associated Press
Onlookers in Chernihiv cheered as they watched a Russian military plane fall from the sky and crash, according to video released by the Ukrainian government. In Kherson, hundreds of protesters waved blue and yellow Ukrainian flags and shouted, “Go home.”
In Mariupol, Associate Press journalists witnessed doctors make unsuccessful attempts to save the lives of wounded children, pharmacies ran bare and hundreds of thousands of people faced food and water shortages in freezing weather.
In Irpin, near Kyiv, a sea of people on foot and even in wheelbarrows trudged over the remains of a destroyed bridge to cross a river and leave the city. Assisted by Ukrainian soldiers, they lugged pets, infants, purses and flimsy bags stuffed with minimal possessions. Some of the weak and elderly were carried along the path in blankets and carts.
Kyiv’s central train station remained crowded with people desperate to leave, and frequent shelling could be heard from the center of the capital city.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Moldova pledging America’s support to the small Western-leaning former Soviet republic. The country is coping with an influx of refugees from Ukraine and keeping an eye on Russia’s intensifying war with its neighbor.
A third round of talks between Russia and Ukraine will take place Monday, according to Davyd Arakhamia, a member of the Ukrainian delegation. He gave no additional details.
Previous meetings were held in Belarus and led to the failed cease-fire agreement to create humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of civilians from besieged cities.
Putin continued to blame the war on the Ukrainian leadership and slammed their resistance to the invasion. He said if they continued to resist, “They are calling into question the future of Ukrainian statehood.” His comments came as Zelenskyy made a “desperate plea” on Saturday to the U.S. Congress for more planes as Russian forces continued to batter strategic locations.
Meanwhile, Israel’s prime minister returned Sunday from a trip to Russia where he met Putin and discussed the war.
Naftali Bennett flew to Moscow on Saturday, where he met the Russian leader for three hours. Bennett spoke to Zelenskyy after his meeting with Putin.
Bennett’s trip was the latest attempt at diplomacy in the Russia-Ukraine crisis. Israel is one of the few countries that has good working relations with both Russia and Ukraine.
The humanitarian situation
The death toll of the conflict has been difficult to measure. The U.N. human rights office said at least 351 civilians have been confirmed killed since the Feb. 24 invasion, but the true number is probably much higher.
The U.N. World Food Program says millions of people inside Ukraine, a major global wheat supplier, will need food aid “immediately.”
Ukrainian refugees continued to pour into neighboring countries, including Poland, Romania and Moldova. The number of people who have left since fighting began has now reached 1.5 million, according to U.N. refugee agency. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Military.com)
04 Mar 22. NATO brings Finland, Sweden on board for all Ukraine conflict discussions. From now on, NATO is sharing all information pertaining to the ongoing war in Ukraine with close partners Sweden and Finland, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced Friday.
“In response to Russia’s aggression, we have decided to strengthen our coordination and information-sharing with Finland and Sweden,” Stoltenberg said at a press conference in Brussels, adding, “Both countries are now taking part in all NATO consultations about the crisis.”
The briefing occurred just before foreign ministers from NATO’s 30 member-nations gathered to discuss Russia’s war on Ukraine, with leaders from Helsinki, Stockholm, and the European Union also in attendance.
Stoltenberg’s announcement comes as calls have mounted for the two Nordic countries to formally join the alliance. Finland and Sweden are two of six Enhanced Opportunity Partners with NATO, representing the closest partnership a nation can have with the alliance without being a member. The other four EOPs are Australia, Georgia, Jordan, and Ukraine – the latter being selected in 2020.
Helsinki and Stockholm have been considered to be in a tier of their own within the EOPs. That’s thanks to “the sophistication of their militaries, the stability of their democratic political systems, and their critical geography of the Baltic Sea bridging NATO’s Nordic and Baltic countries,” analysts Anna Wieslander and Christopher Skaluba wrote in a March 3 report for the Atlantic Council.
The two nations have traditionally walked a fine line between lauding their close relationship to NATO, while maintaining that their citizens want to keep out of the alliance. But the report cites recent polls showing that up to 53 percent of Finns now support joining NATO – compared to only 19 percent in support in 2017. Meanwhile, Swedes are now 41 percent in support of joining the alliance, compared to 35 percent since the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014.
“Events on the ground in Ukraine will likely dictate whether and how soon Sweden and Finland apply for NATO membership, and how readily the alliance might admit them,” Wieslander and Skaluba wrote. “But with the contours of European security irrevocably altered since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the direction of thinking in both countries – especially Finland – is getting clearer by the day.”
Stoltenberg also shared that the NATO member-nations are now contemplating a more long-term increase to their military presence along the Eastern flank.
The alliance has dedicated a considerable presence in countries including Poland, Romania, and Estonia in response to Russian aggression towards Ukraine, with over 130 fighter jets and over 200 ships positioned to protect the 1 billion citizens across its 30 member states from potential attack, he added.
“We are now seriously considering a significant increase of our presence, both in more troops, [and] with more air defense,” he said. That discussion began Friday during the foreign ministers meeting, and will continue when NATO defense ministers meet on March 16.
“We have some time – not a lot, but some time – to make that more long-term decision,” he said.
The alliance also wants to step up its support for Georgia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, after determining that these two nations are, like Ukraine, at risk of “even more intervention, subversion or even attack by the Russian Armed Forces,” Stoltenberg said. The “broad agreement” to increase support could include more joint activities and exercises, and scaling up support for national defense and security institutions.
Stoltenberg restated that NATO is not seeking a war with Russia, and said foreign ministers on Friday rejected the idea to establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
“Our core task is to keep our 30 nations safe,” he said. “We are not part of this conflict, and we have a responsibility to ensure it does not escalate and spread beyond Ukraine. Because that would be even more devastating and more dangerous.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
04 Mar 22. Israel has decided not to authorise European users of Rafael Spike to donate the advanced ATGMs to Ukraine, so as avoid disrupting its fragile relationship with Russia that allows attacks on Iran-related targets in Syria. One defence source told Shephard the sensitive triangular relationship between, Israel, Russia and Ukraine has prompted the Israeli MoD to impose strict end-user restrictions on exports to NATO members such as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which have ordered large quantities of Spike ATGMs in recent years. Ukraine has requested Spike missiles repeatedly, both before and since the Russian invasion began on 24 February. The Baltic republics, with their own reasons to fear Russian aggression, have been at the forefront of international efforts to supply Ukraine with antitank systems and other weaponry. A delicate balancing act by the authorities in Jerusalem has been in place for many years, despite interest from Kyiv in acquiring Israeli hardware such as UAVs and C4ISTAR equipment. Russian pressure in 2014 forced Aeronautics to drop plans to sell UAVs to Ukraine, and since then Israel has offered no official military-technical assistance to the former Soviet republic. Israeli manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems (via its EuroSpike JV with Diehl and Rheinmetall) has made inroads into the European ATGM markets with Spike. Estonia already operates the Spike LR2 long-range ATGM and it placed an order for more than short-range Spike SR missiles in January 2022. In July 2021, the Estonian Navy hosted a demonstration by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Oshkosh Defense, with Spike NLOS non-line of sight missiles fired at BLoS naval targets from a launcher on an Oshkosh Joint Light Tactical Vehicle. Latvia operates almost the full range of Spike systems: LR, LR2, SR and the extended-range ER variant. Denmark (another donor of military equipment to Ukraine) ordered Spike LR2 in March 2021 via the NATO Support and Procurement Agency. (Source: Shephard)
04 Mar 22. What has happened to Russia’s combat C-UAS capability? Never, in the history of human combat, had an army been so prepared for drone warfare as the Russian army which invaded Ukraine on February 24. For the last 18 months Russia has been upgrading its systems and adding new layers of platforms, sensors and network capabilities to its battlefield drone defence systems.
But defence analysts the world over have been baffled by the number of occasions during which Ukraine’s Turkish-built Bayraktar TB2 and smaller domestic UA-Dynamics “Punisher” drones have apparently been able to evade the most sophisticated counter-UAS air defence system outside Israel.
“Russia has an advanced, layered air defense system with networked radar and other sensors, and an array of weapons from portable surface-to-air missiles and mobile artillery up to the much-feared S-400, claimed to be able to shoot down stealth fighters,” according to David Hambling, writing in Forbes on February 28 ….”the Bayraktar TB2, like most drones, is reliant on a radio link between drone and operator. Russia, which prides itself on its radioelectronic warfare capabilities and has some of the best jamming systems in the world, should be able to prevent Ukrainian drones from functioning. It seemed then, that Russia was ready for Ukraine’s drone force and would deal with it easily.”
For the last year or so the defence trade press and Russia’s own news outlets have been reporting in some depth about the many projects underway to refine the Russian army’s C-UAS capability.
Shortly before the invasion, in December 2021, Russia’s TASS new agency reported the Pantsyr-S1M counter UAS/air defence system had received new hypersonic surface-to-air missiles that boosted its striking range from 20 km to 30 km, its operational altitude from 15 km to 18 km and its destruction area threefold. Read the article here. According to the news agency: “The upgrade has substantially boosted the Pantsyr’s capabilities for fighting all types of drones. In particular, the system is capable of effectively detecting and destroying all types of strike drones that are in operational service,” he said.
In September 2021, TASS also reported that the Tor-M2 battlefield counter-UAS system, comprising a surveillance system now optimised for stealthy targets and 16 vertically launched surface-to-air missiles with a striking range of up to 12 km, was about to get a major upgrade.
In May 2021 Samuel Bendett, an analyst with US defence think-tank CNA, writing in Defence News reported on how Russia’s experiences of countering drone attacks in Syria and elsewhere had provided the bedrock for the country’s counter-UAS strategies.
“The Russian experience defending its Khmeimim base from UAV strikes has become the foundation of its military’s c-UAS training program(me),” wrote Bendett. “Starting in 2019, all major military exercises and drills include the defense against an adversary’s massed drone attacks. The electronic warfare (EW) systems and technologies emerged as a key concept in this training. Across the Russian military services, in numerous drills, exercises and manoeuvres, EW training is regularly conducted against adversarial drones, and practically all C-UAS drills feature EW systems as a key element.”
This strategy is based on a three-layered approach – where static long-range systems for UAV detection and mitigation are integrated with more mobile medium and short range units.
“The long-range detection station can be placed in the border zone or in the direction of probable attacks, according to a recent Izvestia report on Russia’s developing C-UAS battlefield capabilities “Additional radars for anti-aircraft gunners will be especially useful in mountainous areas, where it is difficult to detect low-flying targets …Such stations will collect intelligence information at distant approaches. They are able to determine the number of aircraft, the height and direction of flight, the formation of battle formations. If necessary, the radars can work together with anti-aircraft missile systems, air defense, aviation, border and coastal control forces and air traffic control, which is responsible for the safety of flights of both military and civil aircraft.”
The strategic defence systems are integrated with medium-range Pantsyr and Tor-M2 air defence systems and more localised specialist C-UAS units integrated with ground troops.
“Every brigade—each with up to four 900-person battalion tactical groups—travels with an air-defense battalion,” according to Forbes writer David Axe, with infantry groups equipped with Igla or Verba infrared-guided man-portable air defence systems (MANPADs). “Two-thirds of the MANPADs ride with the front-line companies, usually keeping at least a few hundred yards from the forward edge of battle,” says the Forbes article. “One third stays back with the brigade command post…To cover the ground troops while bullets are flying, a Russian brigade also travels with six Tunguska tracked vehicles. A Tunguska packs two cannons and launchers for eight infrared-guided missiles that can range six miles out and two miles up. Six Strela-10 vehicles—tracked light armored vehicles firing the same kinds of short-range missiles as the dismounted teams—complement the Tunguskas…”
“In Syria, the MoD confirms that a combination of hand-held and stationary systems are used to suppress and jam drones that continue to harass and attack Russian positions,” wrote Bendett. “In Russia, military forces started using Stilet and Stupor portable C-UAS rifles, along with the newest Krasukha-C4 EW complex designed to identify adversarial strike aircraft and to suppress their communications and navigation.”
On the battlefield itself Borisoglebsk and Zhitel EW systems are also used to conduct EW intelligence gathering, analysis and then radio interference, with other systems such as the R-934BMV automated jamming station, the Silok-01 electronic warfare system and the Pole-21 advanced radio suppression system also available for this role. Read our previous article.
The Bayraktar TB2 has proved itself to be a robust and capable opponent, especially in the hands of operators who know how to exploit their multi role capabilities. But the lessons of the Nagorno Karabakh war have been well understood for some time, especially in Russia, whose air defence systems in service with Armenia – deployed to defend against crewed aircraft – were continuously overwhelmed by small, agile TB2s, often operating in swarms.
With so much hardware on display and practice time to deploy it in an optimised fashion it is astonishing that any drone hostile to the Russians survives more than a few minutes near the battlefield. While Russian C-UAS units have had several successes they have also been manifestly unable to eliminate the Ukrainian UAV threat, which would have been one of their key objectives. While it is likely that the majority of the 20 plus Ukrainian Bayraktar TB2 drones will have been shot down in the first week of combat that has bought enough time for Ukraine to have sourced more of the type from Turkey to continue their success against Russian targets.
These are some possible reasons for the Russian’s failures.
First, there may be two key weaknesses in the Russian army’s high-level C-UAS strategy – it is based around the defence of a static position and relies, in the first instance, on a host nation willing to deploy strategic surveillance assets as a first line of defence. Neither of these are in play in Ukraine.
Second, there are two definite weaknesses in Russian tactics. Russian units have not deployed their forces in the battalion tactical groups with layered air defences and anti-drone capacity, according to Samuel Bendett writing in Defence News, with forward elements advancing without their air defence assets. Russian vehicles have also been moving along highways without being dispersed or camouflaged – making themselves relatively easy to identify and attack.
It is not only the C-UAS resources which have been misfiring – Russia’s electronic warfare units have also been operating well under par and this has undoubtedly contributed to the Russian army’s inability to detect and jam Ukrainian UAS signals.
And once again, Russia has underestimated the capability of the TB2, which can be operated from mobile bases and protected from Russian jamming with new EW capabilities. At this stage it is impossible to know what EW support, if any, is being given to Ukrainian forces. But it also seems as though Ukraine has been very adroit in using the TB2 against targets which are less well defended than the masses of front-line, well-protected armoured units.
Finally, it looks as though Ukraine has been able to field a more powerful EW capability than many forecast and its growing strength in anti-tank systems has seen large number of mobile air defence systems taken out of the battle early on, disrupting the integrated layered defence strategy.
As the fighting continues the balance of power is likely to shift again. But for the moment, and against all expectations, Ukraine is still operating effective UAS missions against the one of the world’s most sophisticated C-UAS capable armies. (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)