Ukraine at D+294: OSINT and partisans.
N2K logoDec 15, 2022

The hybrid war finds partisans: information gathering in occupied Ukrainian territory, and repurposed cybercriminals acting in the Russian interest.

Ukraine at D+294: OSINT and partisans.

Kherson continues to suffer long-range Russian artillery fire, the Guardian reports, as kinetic attacks against Ukrainian infrastructure and civilians continue.

Partisan activity: intelligence collection.

The Wall Street Journal outlined yesterday ways in which Ukrainian citizens behind Russian lines increasingly collect combat information Ukrainian forces use to develop intelligence and targets. It's risky, and Russian forces are looking for people providing aid to their enemy, but it's also difficult to quash. It's another instance in which the present war has brought out the growing difficulty of maintaining any reasonable expectation of operational security. Everyone has a phone, every phone has a microphone and a camera, and everyone's connected. It's also further evidence of shaky Russian control over occupied populations.

UK's Ministry of Defence estimates the threat of Belarusian active combat against Ukraine as unlikely.

The UK's Ministry of Defence thinks recent Belarusian military exercises represent a negligible threat to Ukraine. "On 13 December 2022, Belarus carried out a snap combat readiness inspection of its forces. The exercises are reportedly taking place in the north-west of the country, away from the Ukrainian border. In addition, Russia has recently deployed extra units of mobilised reservists to Belarus. Belarus played a key enabling role in Russia’s assault towards Kyiv from 24 February 2022. However, the exercising Belarusian troops and Russian units are currently unlikely to constitute a force capable of conducting a successful new assault into northern Ukraine."

Hybrid war and fissures in the underworld.

There had at one time been close relations among Russian and Ukrainian cybercriminals, geographically close and linguistically related. Al Jazeera, however, describes the ways in which the war has broken many of those connections. Russia's war has moved its security and intelligence services to push for closer cooperation from the cyber gangs the Russian state had long tolerated. This has gone beyond privateering and advice on permissible targets. Many of the criminal organizations have been diverted from what had formerly been their money-making rackets and into making themselves a nuisance for Ukraine and its supporters. This trend has been clearest in the rise of distributed denial-of-service attacks. It's not entirely patriotic side-taking, however, although that certainly plays a part. There's also a sense in Russian criminal circles that they can now expect Kyiv's law enforcement and intelligence organizations to give them more hostile scrutiny than they receive from Moscow.