The war of attrition in the Donbas continues, as do Russian strikes against civilian targets. Leaks and doxing are claimed by both sides--the apparent leaks of US classified material remain under investigation.
Ukraine at D+410: Static, sanguinary lines.
Bakhmut remains a stalemate, the New York Times reports. The city is rubble, its population is dispersed, and the location has negligible military importance. Ukraine is contesting it for the attrition of Russian forces it provides:
"Col. Serhiy Ilnytsky, the soldiers’ [those in a unit defending Bakhmut] commander, who uses the nickname Sokil, or the Falcon, said the goal for Ukraine in the battle of Bakhmut was not so much to protect the city — once home to around 70,000 people, it is now mostly ruined — as bog down and weaken the Russian Army before the anticipated counteroffensive.
"'Bakhmut is just a pile of stones now,' he said. 'It’s just a place where Russian soldiers go through the meat grinder.' Of his position in the fighting for the access roads, he said he felt it was solid. 'I now have the field in front of me,' he said. 'For me, it’s a good spot.'”
Many of the casualties Russian forces have sustained have been in the Wagner Group, possibly necessitating reinforcement by Russian regulars. Russian forces continue their attempts to take other Donetsk towns. "Over the last seven days, Russia has likely increased its armoured assaults around the Donetsk Oblast town of Marinka, 20km south-west of Donetsk city," the UK's Ministry of Defence (MoD) writes in this morning's situation report. "Marinka has been fought over since 2014 and has been largely destroyed by artillery exchanges. It commands the approaches to Donetsk and the key H15 road. Russia continues to give a high priority to resourcing operations in the broader Donetsk sector, including the Marinka and Avdiivka areas, expending significant resources for minimal gains."
And Russian strikes continue to hit civilian targets, with no pause for the Orthodox Holy Week.
Ukraine's energy infrastructure seems to have survived Russian bombardment.
The UK's MoD assesses the Russian kinetic attempt to take down Ukraine's energy infrastructure as a failure. "Russia’s campaign to severely degrade Ukraine’s unified energy system (UES) within the 2022-23 winter has highly likely failed. Russia has conducted long range strikes since October 2022, but large-scale attacks have become rare since early March 2023. Smaller scale strikes (with fewer than 25 munitions) continue, but are highly likely having much less impact on the UES. Ukraine’s network operating companies continue to source replacement transformers and other critical components. Transporting and installing these components is a major logistical challenge, especially high voltage transformers which weigh at least 100 tonnes. Ukraine’s energy situation will likely improve with the arrival of warmer weather. Planning and preparations for next winter have likely already begun."
Annexation presented as a fait accompli.
Russia's attempts to normalize the occupation and annexation of Ukrainian territory continue. "On 5 April 2023, Russian President Vladimir Putin chaired a full session of Russia’s Security Council, the first such event since October 2022," the UK's MoD reported Sunday. "The main report was presented by Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev, and discussed reconstruction, law enforcement and public order in the illegally-annexed areas of Ukraine. The choice of Kolokoltsev as the main speaker is likely an attempt by the Kremlin to portray the situation in those territories as being normalised. In reality, much of the area remains an active combat zone, subject to partisan attacks, and with extremely limited access to basic services for many citizens."
US investigates apparent leaks of classified information about Russia's war against Ukraine.
The US Department of Defense and Department of Justice are both investigating an apparent leak of classified information concerning the war. Neither Department is providing much in the way of information on the investigations, which are ongoing. The material appeared to considerable éclat last week in Russian social media channels, although at least some it may have been in low-key circulation in fringe sites for some weeks: the Wall Street Journal reports that it "began among a small group of posters on a messaging channel that trafficked in memes, jokes and racist talk."
The authenticity of the documents remains in dispute. Ukraine characterized them as "Russian disinformation," the Telegraph reports. US News describes the Russian reaction, which is to publicly denounce the leaks as US disinformation designed to peddle a false story of Ukrainian unreadiness, designed to lull Russian forces into a false sense of security. And, citing analysts at Mandiant, SC reports reasons for thinking that the leaked files, whatever their source, have been altered in the Russian interest. Altered or not, the Pentagon is treating them as apparently genuine, officials tell the Washington Post.
KillNet claims it has paralyzed NATO websites.
The Russian cyber auxiliary KillNet claimed it had conducted a massive attack on NATO infrastructure this weekend. It claimed responsibility for alleged DDoS attacks on various organizations in the energy grid on its Telegram page today. Along with the DDoS attack it also published a list of usernames and passwords for two Nato commands on its website. KillNet wrote “The personnel are using super secret passwords: the incredibly complex - 123456, and the more complex 12345678.” If the passwords are legitimate it shows that at least two people didn’t take their Cyber Awareness training seriously enough. As if that wasn’t enough, a KillNet member also posted an image of an unnamed news source explaining that KillNet had signed 150 unnamed Nato personnel up for various dating websites in Ukraine and Moldova. (The image looks bogus, so interpret it simply as a claim by KillNet.) The affected "NATO infrastructure" appears to be NATO School Oberammergau, an instructional facility in southern Germany, and not any operational or high-level administrative organization. The school's website has been up and down this morning.
More apparent doxing of the GRU.
The Ukrainian hacktivist group InformNapalm has released more information on Lieutenant Colonel Sergey Alexandrovich Morgachev, the GRU officer believed to lead the Russia's APT 28, familiarly known as "Fancy Bear." consisting of officers of the 85th Main Special Service Center of the GRU, military unit #26165. "Ukrainian hacktivists from the Cyber Resistance team handed over a complete dump of Morgachev’s correspondence and personal files for publication, so that all interested parties, from the FBI to journalists, experts and members of the public, could independently investigate the facts set forth in this publication, and find other information that may be useful for further investigations (links to the email dump will be added in the near future along with translations of the article into other language versions)."