Russia copes with resupply and force generation as Ukraine continues its slow advance in Donetsk and Zaporizhia.
Ukraine at D+565: Cyber force availability.
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) yesterday reported further Ukrainian advances in the Donetsk and Zaporizhia oblasts, particularly gains southwest of Bakhmut, south of Robotyne, and west of Verbove. The pace remains deliberate.
Ukraine also said that it had retaken oil and gas platforms in the Black Sea that Russia occupied during its 2014 invasion of Crimea.
Air defenses around Moscow have been reorganized and repositioned to make them more effective against drones. "In recent weeks, Russia has recalibrated the posture of its short and medium-range air defences around Moscow in an effort to more effectively defend against the uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) attacks the city now experiences most days," the UK's Ministry of Defence writes in this morning's situation report. "Since early September 2023, Russian SA-22 air defence systems around the capital have been pictured positioned on elevated towers and ramps. Previously, following strikes against Engels and Ryazan air bases in December 2022, Russia also positioned SA-22 on the roofs of official buildings in Moscow. This is almost certainly to allow the system to detect and engage UAV-type targets. However, it is probably also intended to act as a high-profile reassurance to the public that the authorities have the threat under control."
Challenges of force generation.
The Rosgvardia, the Russian military force whose mission is internal security, is said, according to the ISW, to be recruiting imprisoned former Wagner fighters to fill its ranks. Other military formations, including the FSB's border guards and army regulars, continue to complain of inadequate support, especially shortfalls in ammunition and heavy combat vehicles.
Russia is seeking to address some of the shortfalls in ammunition supply by securing artillery ammunition from North Korea. The Washington Post reports that President Putin and Chairman Kim will meet this week for talks in Vladivostok. “Russia most of all needs munitions,” the Post quotes Sergei Markov, "a Kremlin-connected political analyst," as saying. “No one expected there would be such a huge expenditure of shells. And the war in Ukraine has shown that we need high-tech weapons far less than a large amount of very cheap weaponry. Very serious negotiations are going on, and if Kim arrives, then this will mean they have already agreed.” Russia artillery ammunition expenditure is exceeding domestic production by a factor of roughly three. The meeting with Mr. Kim is widely viewed as revealing Russian weakness: industrial inadequacy and dependence on a pariah state for assistance. North Korea, the New York Times observes, finds itself in the unusual position of donor as opposed to supplicant. The US has warned North Korea that it will face even more stringent sanctions should it deliver support to Russia's war. A US State Department spokesman said, “I will remind both countries that any transfer of arms from North Korea to Russia would be in violation of multiple UN security council resolutions.”
The Telegraph reports that Chairman Kim has arrived in Vladivostok by rail. Railfans and connoisseurs of dictator chic will find the Washington Post's look at Chairman Kim's armored train interesting.
A hacktivist auxiliary looks to its own interests.
Anonymous Sudan, which, despite the name, is Russian operated, retaliated against Telegraph for its suspension of the group's main account, SecurityWeek reports. SOCRadar describes the distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, which they assess as having largely failed. Telegram hasn't said why it banned Anonymous Sudan, but it seems to have done so for hacktivist auxiliary's organization and use of bot accounts.
A lesson learned: make your contracts explicit.
Starlink's limitation of Ukrainian access to its services last Fall has prompted reflection in the US Department of Defense over its use of commercial services generally, and of commercial satellite services in particular. The AP quotes Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall to the effect that one lesson being drawn from the incident is the need to make contracts explicit with respect to the operational, perhaps combat, uses to which purchased services might be put. “If we’re going to rely upon commercial architectures or commercial systems for operational use, then we have to have some assurances that they’re going to be available,” Secretary Kendall said. “We have to have that. Otherwise they are a convenience and maybe an economy in peacetime, but they’re not something we can rely upon in wartime.”