Fighting on the ground continues as it has, but Ukraine's ATACMS strikes are assessed as highly damaging to Russian attack aviation.
Ukraine at D+603: Interdiction and denial-of-services.
Ukraine's advance in the south continues to be measured in the hundreds of meters. Russia's firepower-intensive "active defense" farther north is making little progress against Avdiivka
Across the Dnipro.
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported yesterday that "Russian sources" indicate that Ukrainian units are conducting "larger-than-usual" operations on the east bank of the Dnipro River in the Kherson Oblast. The Ukrainian units are said to be small--diversionary and reconnaissance units. "While Russian sources continue to offer slightly diverging claims about the scale of the Ukrainian attacks on the east bank, ISW continues to assess that current Ukrainian actions appear to be larger than previously observed tactical raids, and available geolocated footage indicates that Ukrainian forces maintain a presence along the shoreline and near the Antonivsky railway bridge despite Russian counterattacks."
Further consequences of the ATACMS strikes against Russian aviation.
The UK's Ministry of Defence this morning provided further analysis of this week's ATACMS strikes against Russian targets. "On 17 October 2023, several Russian helicopters and air defence equipment were likely struck at Berdyansk and Luhansk airfields. Although the extent of damage is currently unconfirmed, it is likely nine Russian military helicopters at Berdyansk and five at Luhansk were destroyed, with Ukraine claiming to have used the US-provided long-range army tactical missiles (ATACMS) for the first time."
Helicopters have been used to compensate for the failure of fixed-wing combat aviation, and so the losses are considered a serious setback. "Given that Russian fixed wing close air support to date has been extremely poor, Russian defensive lines have become increasingly reliant on rotary wing support in the face of the Ukrainian offensive. Berdyansk was being used as a primary Forward Operating Base on the southern axis providing both logistics and offensive/defensive capabilities. If confirmed, it is highly likely these losses will have an impact on Russia’s ability both to defend and conduct further offensive activity on this axis. Given the current strain on Russian military production, the confirmed loss of any air frames will be difficult to replace in the short to medium term. This loss will also likely create additional pressure on Russia’s pilots and air frames, already almost certainly suffering combat exhaustion and maintenance issues due to the unanticipated protracted campaign. There is a realistic possibility this strike will compel Russia to once again relocate its operating bases and command and control nodes farther from the front lines, increasing the burden on logistics chains."
Al Jazeera reports that Ukraine has officially confirmed its use of ATACMS, and says that a regular supply of the missiles from the US has been arranged.
Emailed bomb threats in the Baltic.
The Baltic Times reports that waves of emailed bomb threats have been arriving in the region. They appear to be a coordinated campaign run by Russian operators. "It has been established that the senders of the e-mails are actively participating in Telegram channels created by Russian-speaking pro-Russian groups and instigating (the spreading of) e-mails threatening to blow up educational establishments," Lithuanian Police Commissioner General Renatas Pozela said. The campaign began last Friday, with 900 bomb threats against Lithuanian kindergartens and schools, and it continued over the weekend with some 1500 threats against "educational establishments, municipal buildings and other public locations." The threats were empty; no bombs were found. Lithuania's Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite called it a regional attack, since Estonia, Latvia, and Poland had all been affected. "This is an attempt to create a certain panic, to destabilize the situation in a sense, and to burden institutions, especially law enforcement, with an additional load," she said at a news conference. Thus it's a disruptive online operation, not denial-of-service, but perhaps denial-of-services: preoccupied organizations find their ability to respond to real issues degraded by the noise of false alarms.