Ukraine continues its slow advance as President Zelenskyy implores the United Nations to stop Russian genocide.
Ukraine at D+573: Ukraine at the UN.
The UK's Ministry of Defence this morning looked at the significance of Ukraine's advance toward the T 05-13 road, one of the principal lines of communication to Bakhmut. "Since 15 September 2023, the Ukrainian Armed Forces have secured the villages of Klishchiivka and Andriivka, approximately 8km to the south of the Donetsk Oblast town of Bakhmut. This tactical success brings Ukrainian forces closer to the T 05-13 road, one of the main supply routes into Bakhmut from the south. However, Russia continues to hold the railway line which runs along an embankment between Klishchiivka and the T 05-13, creating a readily defendable obstacle. Recent redeployments of Russian airborne forces from Bakhmut to Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine have likely weakened Russia’s defences around Bakhmut."
Russia's war denounced at the UN.
On Tuesday both President Zelenskyy and President Biden addressed the United Nations' General Debate in New York. Ukraine's President argued that Russia represented a clear and present danger to the international order, and that Russia was fundamentally unsuited to participate in good-faith negotiation. “Evil cannot be trusted. Just ask Prigozhin,” he said.
“When hatred is weaponized against one nation, it never stops there,” the AP quotes Mr. Zelenskyy as telling the meeting. “The goal of the present war against Ukraine is to turn our land, our people, our lives, our resources into weapons against you — against the international rules-based order.” He made a particular appeal on behalf of the children Russia has forcibly removed from Ukraine, arguing that this was especially clear evidence of genocidal intent. “Those children in Russia are taught to hate Ukraine, and all ties with their families are broken. And this is clearly a genocide,” he said.
President Biden's remarks focused on Russian aggression, and were also strongly worded, as excerpted by Radio Free Europe | Radio Liberty. "Russia believes that the world will grow weary and allow it to brutalize Ukraine without consequence. If we allow Ukraine to be carved up, is the independence of any nation secure?" He unambiguously blamed Russia for the war. "Russia alone bears responsibility for this war," Biden said. "Russia alone has the power to end this war immediately." The AP quoted him as saying, “We have to stand up to this naked aggression today and deter other would-be aggressors tomorrow. That’s why the United States - together with our allies and partners around the world — will continue to stand with the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their sovereignty and territorial integrity and their freedom.”
Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi took a different view, blaming the war on the United States (which is seeking to "weaken Europe" and profit from arms sales). He also denied that Iran had supplied Russia with any Shahed drones since the invasion began, saying that all the drones had been purchased and delivered before the war began last year, and challenging anyone with evidence to the contrary to produce it.
The Russian representative present at the session, Deputy Ambassador Dmitry Polyansky, affected not to listen to President Zelenskyy's remarks. “Did he speak?” Mr. Polyansky said when an AP reporter asked him for his reaction to the address. “I didn’t notice he was speaking. I was on my phone.”
Russia says it will not commit peacekeepers to the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan announced a military operation into Nagorno-Karabakh, a province it's disputed with Armenia for years. Russian forces are in the region as peacekeepers in the conflict between the two former Soviet Republics, and they'll remain there, but the Russian Ministry of Defense said they would not intervene in the fighting. The Institute for the Study of War says that the Kremlin has publicly called for an end to fighting and left it at that, adding only that its peacekeepers are authorized to use deadly force only in self-defense. Moscow's propagandists offered a different framing. "Russian Security Council Deputy Chairperson Dmitry Medvedev and RT Editor-in-chief and Russian propagandist Margarita Simonyan (both notably nationalistic and extreme voices in the Russian government) claimed that Armenia is experiencing the repercussions of its recent efforts to align with the West and distance itself from Russia." Russia has been seen, more or less, as a protector of Armenian interests, and so the inactivity may indeed represent "repercussions." It's also likely that the Ministry of Defense doesn't welcome any further combat commitments, given the difficulty it's having with what it's bitten off in Ukraine.
The International Criminal Court reports a "cybersecurity incident."
Reuters reports that yesterday in the Hague the International Criminal Court (ICC) said it had sustained a "cybersecurity incident." Not only the ICC's staff, but also lawyers for both victims and accused were affected. The ICC's brief statement, communicated in its X (formerly Twitter) channel, said that the Court detected "anomalous activity affecting its information systems," at which time "immediate measures were adopted to respond to this cybersecurity incident and to mitigate its impact." The ICC is investigating with the help of Netherlands authorities, but beyond that the Court has so far offered no further information. In particular there's no attribution, but the most prominent cases before the ICC involve allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Russia in the course of its invasion of Ukraine. The AP reviewed some recent history of Russia's troubled relations with the ICC: "Last year, a Dutch intelligence agency said it had foiled a sophisticated attempt by a Russian spy using a false Brazilian identity to work as an intern at the court, which is investigating allegations of Russian war crimes in Ukraine and has issued a war crimes arrest warrant for President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of personal responsibility for the abductions of children from Ukraine." Russia responded to the warrant, SecurityWeek reminds readers, by placing CC prosecutor Karim Khan on its own “wanted” list.
(Added, 11:30 AM ET, September 20th, 2023.) Jelle Wieringa, Security Awareness Advocate for EMEA KnowBe4, explained some of the implications of an attack on the ICC. "The International Criminal Court (ICC) is a high-profile organization that investigates and tries individuals. It has issued warrants for arrests of individuals such as Vladimir Putin, and other powerful persons suspected of crimes that concern the international community. This makes the ICC a prime target for cyber attacks, as it has information on criminal cases. Access to this information for the purpose of tampering with it, or for intelligence, is a powerful way for bad actors to influence and disrupt the proceedings of the international criminal justice system." Wieringa added, "Judging from their statement, the ICC is on high alert and dealing with the ramifications of a cyber attack. While the ICC is a highly professional organization that pays a lot of attention to its cyber defense, this incident shows that really no organization is exempt from cyber attacks. In today's world, it is imperative that we all understand that no one is safe. And we all need to take measures to actively protect our organizations."
(Added, 6:15 PM ET, September 20th, 2023.) Nick Tausek, Lead Security Automation Architect at Swimlane, sees the incident as a sign that threat groups are becoming more aggressive. "Just weeks after the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced it would begin prosecuting cyberwar crimes, the ICC disclosed on Tuesday that its systems had been breached. This breach highlights that threat groups are becoming more aggressive with their targets and actively targeting those who speak out against threat actors," Tausek wrote in emailed comments. "To prevent the chances of a targeted cyberattack such as the one on the ICC, organizations must be staying on top of their cybersecurity strategy. Leveraging a low-code security automation platform that goes beyond just doing the work, but automates that work as well to minimize the chances of error by human involvement as well, is the first step in achieving a robust cybersecurity ecosystem. Adopting a solution that allows full visibility into IT environments, ensuring the highest level of protection over valuable human information and alerts in real-time can assist in thwarting any potential threats."