The most recent situation report from the UK's Ministry of Defence concentrates on events in the Black Sea. "Russia has admitted that the Slava-class cruiser Moskva has sunk. As flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, the Moskva served a key role as both a command vessel and air defence node. The Soviet-era vessel was one of only three Slava-class cruisers in the Russian navy. Originally commissioned in 1979, the Moskva had completed an extensive refit designed to improve its capability and only returned to operational status in 2021. This incident means Russia has now suffered damage to two key naval assets since invading Ukraine, the first being Russia’s Alligator-class landing ship Saratov on 24 March. Both events will likely lead Russia to review its maritime posture in the Black Sea." The MoD's latest situation map shows continued fighting in the Donbas and along the Black Sea coast.
Looking for (something that looks like) victory by May 9th.
May 9th, Russia's Victory Day, commemorates Nazi Germany's surrender at the end of the Second World War, and observers think it likely that President Putin will seek to accomplish something he can plausibly represent as victory over the next three-and-a-half weeks. With objectives redefined (for now) to limited conquest in the Donbas and the Black Sea coast, the Russian army is reconstituting its mauled forces for a renewed offensive in those regions. But it's unlikely in the extreme that it's been able to correct the command, training, and logistical failures that marked the first month of Russia's war against Ukraine. Such improvements are difficult to improvise even for the most agile and responsive armies, and the Russian army is not known for either initiative or a disposition to learn quickly. The top-down, detailed control Russian doctrine mandates militates against both. Bloomberg describes the continuing challenges the Russian army faces as it seeks to meet Mr. Putin's likely deadline for success, and Forbes points out that redeployment isn't going to solve that army's underlying defects.
Personae non grata.
Almost four-hundred Russian diplomats have been expelled from European capitals since Russia began its war against Ukraine, some in retaliation for Russian expulsion of European diplomats, but most on credible grounds of engaging in espionage. The Guardian, which has tallied up the expulsions, says that European governments are now wondering why they extended diplomatic credentials to so many Russians in the first place.
At least one of Russia's major strategic and diplomatic objectives, prevention of NATO expansion, seems to have been, as Harold Pinter would have put it, counterachieved. Both Finland and Sweden are moving closer to applying for NATO membership. Finland especially is interested in fast-tracking membership, and its accession to the Atlantic Alliance could come in a matter of weeks, Defense News reports.
Further developments in the Incontroller/Pipedream industrial control system threat.
It seems clearer, E&E News reports, that the ICS-focused tools now generally attributed unofficially to Russia, were designed with the energy sector and particularly liquified natural gas facilities as their targets. We have received a number of comments from industry on the discovery of the attack kit being called Incontroller (by Mandiant) or Pipedream (by Dragos). The unusually large number of industrial control system advisories the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released yesterday seems a partial response to this recently discovered threat.
The CyberWire's continuing coverage of the unfolding crisis in Ukraine may be found here.