Ukraine at D+265: A missile campaign punctuates diplomacy.
N2K logoNov 16, 2022

;A Ukrainian air defense missile falls into Poland in the midst of a widespread series of Russian missile strikes aimed at disabling Ukraine's power grid. Ukraine offers the "G19" the benefits of its experience in cyber defense.

Ukraine at D+265: A missile campaign punctuates diplomacy.

Missile kills two in Poland amid wider Russian strikes.

As Ukrainian President Zelenskyy made an appeal for assistance to the G20 meeting, Russian forces fired a large number of missiles against Ukrainian infrastructure targets, blacking out much of the country. The Telegraph quotes Mr. Zelenskyy's subsequent remarks about the strikes and their effect: "I know that the strikes turned off energy in many places ... We are working, we will restore everything, we will survive."

A missile fell on a farm in the Polish village of Przewodow near the border with Ukraine, killing two, the Washington Post reports.

A quick investigation by Polish, NATO, and US authorities concluded that the missile was probably a Ukrainian S-300 air defense weapon fired in response to yesterday's massive wave of approximately a hundred Russian missile strikes against Ukrainian infrastructure targets. The S-300 (NATO codename "Grumble") is a Soviet-era long-range air defense missile that entered service in the late 1970s. It's operated by several armies, Ukraine's among them, and a failed air defense weapon can certainly do damage should it fail to safe itself before falling to the ground, and that appears to have happened in this case. TASS reported the official Russian reaction to the incident: it was a deliberate "provocation." Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Dmitry Polyansky, said in his Telegram channel, “There is an attempt to provoke a direct military clash between NATO and Russia, with all the consequences for the world."

A provocation seems unlikely. The incident is in all likelihood a direct and foreseeable consequence of an intense missile campaign and the air defenses deployed against it. NATO Secretary General alluded to this reality of an air campaign when he said, “This is not Ukraine’s fault. Russia bears ultimate responsibility."

Shortly after reports of a missile strike against Polish territory, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke with Polish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense Mariusz Błaszczak. A Pentagon read-out of the call says "Secretary Austin assured Minister Błaszczak of the ironclad commitment of the United States to defend Poland and the Department of Defense's readiness to assist Poland in any investigation of the incident. The two leaders agreed to coordinate closely together with their NATO Allies on next steps."

Yesterday at the G20 meetings in Bali, representatives of Canada, the European Commission, the European Council, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States issued a statement on the Russian missile campaign:

"We condemn the barbaric missile attacks that Russia perpetrated on Ukrainian cities and civilian infrastructure on Tuesday. 

"We discussed the explosion that took place in the eastern part of Poland near the border with Ukraine. We offer our full support for and assistance with Poland’s ongoing investigation. We agree to remain in close touch to determine appropriate next steps as the investigation proceeds. 

"We reaffirm our steadfast support for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in the face of ongoing Russian aggression, as well as our continued readiness to hold Russia accountable for its brazen attacks on Ukrainian communities, even as the G20 meets to deal with the wider impacts of the war. We all express our condolences to the families of the victims in Poland and Ukraine."

Creating and negotiating obstacles in the Dnipro valley.

The UK's Ministry of Defence, in this morning's situation report, described one of the significant obstacles to movement around and across the lower Dnipro. "The Kakhovka Dam on the Dnipro River is the site of [a] major hydroelectric power plant as well as providing one of the two main road crossing points of the lower reaches of the Dnipro River. Ukrainian precision strikes have targeted the site since August, successfully disrupting Russian military resupply. On 11 November 2022 the site suffered further significant damage, almost certainly because of controlled demolitions by retreating Russian forces. This was likely done in an attempt to hinder future Ukrainian advances. Three spans of both the road and rail bridges on the northern end of the dam were destroyed, rendering the crossings impassable. However, the three spillway gates below this section of the dam remained largely intact. The current level of damage is unlikely to result in major flooding downstream."

President Zelenskyy offers the G20 the benefit of Ukraine's experience with cyber warfare.

In an address to the G20 delivered by video link, President Zelenskyy offered friendly nations the benefit of Ukraine's experience of resisting Russian cyberattacks during Russia's hybrid war. He addressed the gathering as the "G19," since in his view Russia's assumption of the role of "terrorist state" disqualifies it from the respect and consideration due to a G20 member. His comments to the G20's Digital Transformation Summit commended the creation of cyber auxiliary forces and migration to more resilient cloud services as centerpieces of Ukraine's cyber defense program.

"We have created an IT army that prevails in cyberspace. The best specialists and companies of the country have united to protect the state.

"We repelled more than 1,300 cyberattacks during the 8 months of the Russian war. In the first week of the invasion, Russia destroyed a key data center of our country, and the response solution is the 'clouds' into which we moved part of the information systems."

Such measures have, he said, enabled Ukraine to continue to deliver essential services even under continuous attack, and he offered Ukraine's assistance to friendly nations interested in similarly organizing their online services.

"We have built the protection of public registers. We have preserved the digital resilience of banks. Thanks to digitization, we can quickly organize social payments to those affected by hostilities.

"Millions of Ukrainians use our Diia state service every day. These are more than 100 public services without contact with officials. A digital passport, opening accounts, paying fines and taxes, receiving state aid, raising funds to support the army... All this is Ukrainian 'Diia'.

"If you or your allies and partners do not already have such a system and such digital protection, we will be happy to help you build them!"

And he closed with a plea for, and an offer of, close cooperation for cybersecurity.

"Cyber defense is about cooperation. The stability of institutions is cooperation. Reliable communication, including satellite communication, is also about cooperation.

"What we all need is to put aside disputes and develop collective efforts for global peace. The G19 can be very successful in this!

"Ukraine is willing to help. Our security experience is your security experience."