Russia continues to push infantry against prepared Ukrainian positions. Russian state media are castigated for saying Russian troops have "redeployed:" even that euphemism for "retreat" is unacceptable, and Russian authorities say its use was the work of Ukrainian disinformation.
Ukraine at D+668: Poor narrative control.
Russia continues attacks in the vicinity of Donetsk, Kupiansk, and especially Avdiivka, according to the Telegraph. Ukraine continues to expand its bridgeheads across the Dnipro.
Russian state media are experiencing difficulty spinning the situation on the east bank of the Dnipro River in the Kherson Oblast. The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) says official outlets released and subsequently retracted stories about a "regrouping" of Russian forces to positions further east. TASS and RIA Novosti were among the outlets that reported the regrouping. RBK, another state outlet, reported that the Ministry of Defense had denounced such reports as falsehoods and "provocations." ("Several Russian sources suggested that an unspecified actor posing as the Russian MoD from a fake account could have provided the information to Russian state news outlet RIA Novosti," the ISW reports. This is unlikely in the extreme.
The dissonance seems to represent poor coordination as opposed to internecine disagreement. Regime spokesman Dmitry Peskov took the last word, saying that only the Ministry of Defense could (and should) comment on the operational situation. There's also dissonance between the Ministry of Defense and the milbloggers, who continue to work under imperfect control, and who have generally reported Ukrainian successes with some accuracy, even as they disapprove of such successes.
President Putin to run for re-election as an independent.
President Putin, whose reelection is a theatrical formality, will not run as the standard-bearer of his United Russia Party, but as an independent, beyond party and beyond criticism, a figure for the ages. The Telegraph reports that the three planks of his platform will be “pride, confidence and the future.”
Russian volunteers' contracts changed.
President Putin has announced that volunteers who signed up for a limited military tour of a few months will now be expected to serve for the duration. Radio Free Europe | Radio Liberty also reports that laws are being tightened to enable punishment of volunteers who desert, surrender, or refuse orders. Such gestures in the direction of legality should be viewed with appropriate skepticism. The Russian army hasn't been shy about using blocking troops and summary punishment to drive reluctant infantry forward.
ENISA and Ukraine formalize cybersecurity cooperation.
The European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) yesterday announced that it had formalized an agreement with its Ukrainian counterparts to build cybersecurity capacity, exchange best practices, and increase common situational awareness in cyberspace.