At a glance.
- Battle damage assessment disinformation.
- Killnet claims a cyberattack no one else can see.
- Nuclear threats, and who's responsible for them.
- The ICRC can't inspect the site of a massacre, but Steven Seagal can.
Ukraine strikes Russian air bases. Russia says it was someone being careless with cigarettes.
Ukraine claims to have destroyed nine Russian aircraft in a strike against the Saki air base in Russian-occupied Crimea, Military Times reports, but the damage may have been heavier than that: the Telegraph looks at satellite imagery, compares before with after pictures of Saki, and counts twenty aircraft destroyed in their revetments. How the strike was accomplished remains unclear, but the Washington Post, in an update, cites anonymous Ukrainian official sources to the effect that special forces played a central role in the attack. Whether the strike was sabotage, missile fire, or something else remains unknown, but one of the significant effects of Tuesday's operation is to demonstrate to Russia that its rear areas are vulnerable, and that its control of Crimea, seized from Ukraine in a 2014 invasion, is now in doubt, and will be contested.
The Telegraph also reported that, early this morning, explosions were heard from the vicinity of the Belarusian Zyabrouka airfield, near the Ukrainian border. Zyabrouka has served as a major Russian base in Belarus. News about this incident, if it happened, is still developing.
For its part, Russia denies that there was any strike against Saki at all. Explosions in Saki's fuel or ammunition supplies (and they're not saying there were, you understand), those explosions (if they happened) were probably due to, as TASS put it, a "violation of fire safety requirements," which official Ukrainian wags characterize as blaming the explosion on a careless smoker. (To which one can only say, smoke 'em if you've got 'em, Ivan Illich. If it really were a case of someone flicking a lit butt where it shouldn't be, perhaps NATO would relax sanctions sufficiently to permit shipment of Lucky Strikes and Gauloises to Russian ground crews, but the smart money is on a Ukrainian strike, and not a lucky one.)
Killnet says its cyber operations will soon turn (literally) lethal.
KillMilk, the nom-de-hack used by the person or persons who claim to be the founder (or founders) of the nominally hacktivist group Killnet, has upped the ante on earlier promises to punish "the West" for its support of Ukraine, and especially for its provision of HIMARS rocket artillery. "In Russia, I will become a hero, and abroad, a criminal," Newsweek quotes KillMilk as saying in an interview posted to Gazeta.ru. He added, "Soon, I and Killnet will launch powerful attacks on European and American enterprises, which will indirectly lead to casualties. I will do my best to make these regions and countries answer for each of our soldiers."
Killnet had announced, last week, that it was undertaking a radically new form of cyberattack against targets it regarded as particularly objectionable, notably Lockheed Martin, which produces HIMARS, and against some unspecified system or subsystem of HIMARS itself. But so far nothing has materialized.
Subsequently KillMilk said that his group took down Lockheed Martin's website, but the site looked fine early this morning. KillMilk also says they've obtained personal information on Lockheed Martin employees, which they may dump at some time of their choosing, but so far, as SiliconANGLE reports, citing Flashpoint researchers, there are no signs of such data having been published. Lockheed Martin told Newsweek that it's aware of the threat but "we remain confident in the integrity of our robust, multi-layered information systems and data security." Thus it would seem that KillMilk's claims are disinformation
It's notable, perhaps, to see the repeated Russian theme, "we're not threatening nuclear war, but we're threatening nuclear war" surface in Killmilk's remarks. "We are crazy guys, but we see the boundaries and are not going to cross them," KillMilk said. "I don't think that because of several dozen human casualties, nuclear missiles will fly in the face of Lockheed Martin employees." That is, nice company you got here; shame if something happened to it. And, by the way, if we unleash a spasm war of Armageddon, well, you made us do it.
Russian authorities have been doing their share of nuclear saber-rattling since the early days its war, especially when it became clear that the decapitation of the government in Kyiv that Moscow had counted on wasn't going to happen, at least not within the hours or at most days Mr. Putin evidently expected. Back in July Reuters reported remarks by Dmitri Medvedev, the former president who kept the chair warm for Mr. Putin awhile ago, and who's currently serving as deputy chairman of Russia's Security Council. Mr. Medvedev, complaining of international calls for investigation of Russian war crimes in Ukraine, pointed out that punishing a country like Russia posed an existential threat to humanity itself. "The idea of punishing a country that has one of the largest nuclear potentials is absurd. And potentially poses a threat to the existence of humanity," he said on Telegram. Thus, investigate the systematic murder of Ukrainian civilians and watch the missiles fly. And it'll be your fault, too. His remarks weren't outliers. Just Security offered a brief history of Russian nuclear threats, and there have been a lot of them.
More recently Moscow's line has been that it's the West, particularly the US, that's been threatening nuclear war. At the beginning of this month the Washington Post reported that Igor Vishnevetsky, deputy director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s nonproliferation and arms control program, opened his remarks to the 2022 UN Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference by repeating "President Vladimir Putin’s new message that 'a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.'” He was "apparently trying to roll back on Putin’s warning after the Ukraine invasion that Russia is a 'potent' nuclear power and any attempt to interfere would lead to 'consequences you have never seen'.” Mr. Vishnevetsky's statement may be read in full on the website of the Russian mission to the UN.
Steven Seagal inspects Russian prison where P.O.W.s were killed.
The International Committee of the Red Cross isn't allowed into Olenivka, but other international experts seem to have been granted access, Military Times reports. Notably Mr. Steven Seagal, the American martial artist and action flick star. A video report on TVZvezda showed Mr. Seagal on site, sharing observations in his official capacity as a "special representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation for Humanitarian Relations between Russia and the US." He attributed the explosion at the prison to a Ukrainian HIMARS rocket. “It definitely looks like a rocket,” he apparently said. “If you look at the burning and other details, of course it’s not a bomb. Not to mention the fact that Russia really has a lot of artifacts from HIMARS. This is where HIMARS hit, 50 people were killed, another 70 were injured.” He also provided a motive, saying “The interesting thing is that one of the killed Nazis is a Nazi who just started talking a lot about Zelensky, and that Zelensky is responsible for the orders about torture and other atrocities that violate not only the Geneva War Convention, but are also crimes against humanity.” It was therefore, following the Russian line, all a cover-up plotted in Kyiv.
So there you go. Mr. Seagal, an actor whose oeuvre includes such films as Under Siege, The Glimmer Man, The Foreigner, and Black Dawn, is also 7th dan black belt in aikido (a yin-style martial art) and a tulku (specifically a reincarnation of Chungdrag Dorje) in the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism, a status confirmed by the school's supreme head, Penor Rinpoche, in 1997. Such military expertise as he may have would have been picked up during production of his films. This is not to say that a 7th dan or a tulku would necessarily be ignorant of military and political realities, but such credentials in themselves don't confer expertise in these areas. So we leave assessment of Mr. Seagal's credibility as an exercise for the reader, merely noting that people who actually know something about battle damage and the effects of indirect fire think it unlikely in the extreme that Olenivka was hit by a HIMARS rocket, and that the prisoners' inexcusable death is another in the long list of atrocities that can be attributed to Russia.