Ukraine at D+498: Attrition, but with all deliberate speed.
N2K logoJul 7, 2023

Ukraine conducts deliberate attacks along the front as it awaits more ammunition from the US and the EU.

Ukraine at D+498: Attrition, but with all deliberate speed.

Ukraine's counteroffensive continues, with attacks in at least three zones. Operations are being conducted deliberately, with a view to attrition of Russian manpower and logistic capability, the Institute for the Study of War reports.

Ukraine's military intelligence chief, Major General Kyrylo Budanov, says that, while the danger will persist as long as the region remains under Russian occupation, Ukraine sees the prospect of Russian destruction of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant receding. He wasn't forthcoming about the reasons for this revised assessment. "Sorry I can't tell you what happened recently but the fact is that the threat is decreasing," he told Reuters. "This means that at least we have all together with joint efforts somehow postponed a technogenic catastrophe."

The EU is ramping up ammunition production to increase supplies to Ukraine, and also to refill its own bunkers, according to the AP.

The US is said to have decided to supply Ukraine with "cluster munitions," specifically 155mm dual purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) artillery projectiles. A DPICM shell dispenses either seventy-two or eighty-eight submunitions--grenades--over a target. Each grenade is a small shaped-charge capable of penetrating the top armor of combat vehicles. DPICM, like other cluster munitions, is controversial because the submunitions show high dud rates, and the dud grenades are sensitive, capable of exploding years later if touched or disturbed. The US says that the newer models of DPICM have much lower dud rates than their predecessors, but this is unlikely to allay concerns about long-term civilian safety. The AP reports that the US has decided to supply the munitions to offset Russia's use of comparable systems against Ukrainian forces.

Russian Navy forms Azov Naval District.

A new Russian Naval District is formed at occupied Mariupol, on the Sea of Azov. The UK's Ministry of Defense explains the implications of the move. It's a hedge against threats to the land approaches into Crimea. "On 1 July 2023, the Russian Navy established a new Azov Naval District, headquartered in the occupied Ukrainian port city of Mariupol. Subordinate to the Black Sea Fleet (BSF), the district will reportedly command eight warships including three modern, Karakurt class corvettes which can launch SS-N-30A Kalibr cruise missiles. The Azov Sea is a vital maritime area for Russia because it links its inland waterways to international maritime routes. In the context of the war, it also offers an alternative military resupply option should Russia’s over-land routes to southern Ukraine be disrupted. The Azov Naval District will likely focus on supporting logistical and counter-partisan tasks, freeing up the main BSF to concentrate on long range strike operations and projecting maritime power further abroad."

OSCE trains Ukrainian students in cybersecurity.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is running cybersecurity training for Ukrainian university students preparing for careers in law enforcement or emergency response. The OSCE's announcement explained that the training is in defensive operations. "The training covers basics of cyber safety rules, including ways to protect personal data, main threats and risks related to use of e-mail, social networks and other tools, security tips for IT-equipment, including mobile phones, features of malware and needed physical measures to ensure protection of information resources."

Hey, Prigozhin, is that like really you? No way!

The Kremlin's response to the Wagner Group mutiny was curiously mixed: hard talk of treason, but a supine military response; threats of prosecution, but very permissive soft exile and only limited (if any) forfeiture of property. Raids on some of Yevgeny Prigozhin's property have yielded some finds that can reasonably be expected to embarrass the owner. Mr. Prigozhin has cultivated the image of a hard-boiled, hard-charging warlord, unafraid to be out front and publicly visible. So the organs who searched his digs, the Telegraph reports, came up with a variety of photos of Mr. Prigozhin in disguise. And these aren't master-of-disguise-level impostures. They're all implausible beards and absurd wigs, topped with dorky specs and goofy hats. He looks less like a soldier-of-fortune on a harum-scarum clandestine op than he does a CEO guest star on Undercover Boss. His disguises aren't at the level of Groucho glasses, wax lips, or crooked teeth, but no, they're not good. The Telegraph reads this as deliberate humiliation by the organs. You be the judge.

The video of the raids aired on Russian state television, shown as part of Rossiya 1's "60 Minutes" news program. That program represented the harder, unforgiving line taken periodically since the negotiated end of the march on Moscow. Mr. Prigozhin was called a "traitor," and there were continuing suggestions (following President Putin's musings last week in which he wondered how many of the billions Mr. Prigozhin's enterprises received from the state had been stolen) that the Wagner Group head was also a common crook. That seems to have been the point of showing disguises, stacks of cash, and other dodgy-looking swag. The program also said that investigation into the mutiny was ongoing, which suggests either that the immunity from prosecution negotiated as part of what Al Jazeera's headline calls the "uneasy ceasefire" is highly conditional, or that the Kremlin is engaged in some tough posturing to save face.