Ukraine at D+545: Spinning food shortages to the BRICS.
N2K logoAug 23, 2023

Ukraine is urged to concentrate forces for its advance toward the Sea of Azov as it continues to make deliberate progress toward that objective.

Ukraine at D+545: Spinning food shortages to the BRICS.

More successful attacks on Russia air bases hundreds of miles from the Ukrainian border provide further indications that Ukrainian diversionary forces are now operating well inside Russian territory. Five aircraft are now reported destroyed.

Ukrainian forces continued to advance through Robotyne, in the Zaporizhia Oblast along the axis of advance toward Mariupol on the Sea of Azov. The advance occurs as Western, especially American, senior officers urge Ukraine to concentrate its forces for a single push through Russian defenses along the lines of communication to occupied Crimea. 

Russian forces are relying on temporary pontoon bridges at two important crossings from the Kherson Oblast to Crimea. The UK's Ministry of Defence thinks the bridges are unlikely to be able to sustain heavy traffic. "As of mid-August 2023, Russian forces were continuing to employ pontoon bridges at Chonhar and Henichesk crossing points on the border between southern Ukraine and occupied Crimea. Both permanent bridges sustained damage from Ukrainian precision strikes in early August 2023. The pontoon bridges are unlikely to be able to fully sustain the flow of heavy vehicles carrying ammunition and weaponry to the front. The resulting bottlenecks mean Russian forces are partially reliant on a long diversion via Armiansk, northern Crimea. This is adding further friction to Russia’s logistics network in the south."

Poland's government says that Russian deployment of tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus has begun.

Change of command.

General Sergey Surovikin, who still has not been seen in public since his failure to take decisive action against the Wagnerite march on Moscow, is said to have been removed from the leadership of the Russian aerospace forces. Reuters quotes an announcement from the Russian state news agency RIA this morning: ""Ex-chief of the Russian Air and Space Forces Sergei Surovikin has now been relieved of his post, while Colonel-General Viktor Afzalov, head of the Main Staff of the Air Force, is temporarily acting as commander-in-chief of the Air Force."

Russia seeks international support at the BRICS conference.

President Putin, unable to attend the BRICS (the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa group) meetings in South Africa because of the complications induced by his indictment for war crimes before the International Criminal Court, addressed the summit by video conference. The New York Times reports that the war against Ukraine was his main topic. He was specifically concerned to blame grain shortages on Western sanctions, and not on Russia's withdrawal from the Black Sea agreement and its attacks on Ukrainian grain facilities. “Our country has the capacity to replace Ukrainian grain both commercially and as free aid to needy countries, especially as our harvest is expected [to] be perfect this year,” Mr. Putin explained. “Russia is being deliberately obstructed in the supply of grain and fertilizers abroad, and at the same time we are hypocritically blamed for the current crisis in the world market."

FSB continues to use both USBs and phishing emails as attack vectors.

Ophtek reports that the FSB's Shuckworm group is using both phishing emails and malicious USB drives as infection vectors in ongoing cyberespionage attempts against Ukrainian targets. The typical payload carried in either method of delivery is Pterodo malware. A backdoor, Pterado has been in use for some time, in Trend Micro's accounting at least since October 2019.