Ukraine at D+279: Infrastructure restoration, air defense, and crimes against peace.
N2K logoNov 30, 2022

Restoring a power grid and enhancing air defenses are NATO's current priorities in aiding Ukraine. Killnet continues to dabble in DDoS.

Ukraine at D+279: Infrastructure restoration, air defense, and crimes against peace.

Russia's bombardment of Ukrainian cities continues, and another reason for its use of demilitarized nuclear missiles that carry only ballast is suggested. Not only are they available, and carry the possibility of damaging targets from the impact of the airframe and residual propellant in the tanks, but, Reuters quotes an American source, firing dummies also depletes Ukrainian air defenses. NATO is taking steps to shore up Ukrainian air defenses and rebuild Ukraine's power grid, the BBC reports. The US, according to the New York Times, has pledged $53 million to power grid restoration.

New safeguards against dissent coming to Russia.

The Foreign Agents Law of 2012, as amended this summer, comes into effect in Russia tomorrow. The UK's Ministry of Defence sees the measure as indicating further precautions against domestic dissent. "In July 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin approved amendments to the 2012 ‘Foreign Agents Law’, which has been widely used to repress opponents of the regime. The new measures are scheduled to come into force on 01 December 2022. The 2012 law defined ‘foreign agents’ as individuals or organisations who have received financial support from abroad. The amendments will extend the definition to those which are merely under undefined ‘influence or pressure’ of foreign actors. The Ministry of Justice will also have the power to publish the personal details and addresses of designated ‘foreign agents’, almost certainly placing them at risk of harassment. The new laws will further extend the repressive powers available to the Russian state. This continues a trend since Putin returned to the presidency in 2012, but which has dramatically accelerated since the invasion of Ukraine. The Kremlin is likely acting pre-emptively to prevent greater domestic dissent as the conflict remains unresolved and increasingly impacts Russians’ everyday lives."

It will be worth watching what counts as "influence or pressure." How publication of those under the influence will affect people was on display in the invaluable Vladimir Rudolfovich Solovyov's t.v. show the other evening (which we watch courtesy of the Russian Media Monitor). After a disquisition on his visit, not to the front, exactly, but to a training ground, Mr. Solovyov offered the mud ("up to your knees!") as a principal contributor to Russia's stalled invasion. (Mud is no novelty to European armies, we note. It's something you work through in the winter, as anyone who's helped push a five-ton truck out of a ditch at Grafenwöhr can attest.) He also talked about the efforts of the Ministry of Defense to redress supply problems. For example, he showed pictures of soldiers tying plastic soda bottles to the legs as makeshift kneepads, the Ministry having been unable to supply these and other combat impedimenta. He lamented this, of course, and talked about the great-hearted Russian people who are giving their boys the empty soda bottles they need to win the special military operation. After thus draping himself in suffering troop authenticity, Mr. Solovyov read a letter from an unhappy viewer who said Mr. Solovyov should stop telling lies that no thinking person believes anymore. (The mud and soda bottle stories, while mawkish, aren't among the lies. Presumably the viewer means Rossiya1's lies about the causes, progress, and justification of the war.) Repeating the correspondent's name clearly and in full, Mr. Solovyov went on to say, "You know what, Victor? If you are in Russia, we are going to find you. We will find out everything about you. You won't know a moment's peace." Such is likely to be the price of coming under foreign influence or pressure, starting tomorrow.

European Commission calls for an international tribunal to investigate Russian aggression.

While continuing to support the International Criminal Court in the Hague in its investigation of Russian war crimes, the European Commission yesterday called for the establishment of a separate international tribunal to investigate and try Russian crimes against peace. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has brought death, devastation, and unspeakable suffering," EC President Ursula von der Leyen said. "We all remember the horrors of Bucha. Russia must pay for its horrific crimes, including for its crime of aggression against a sovereign state. And this is why, which continuing to support the International Criminal Court, we are proposing to set up a specialised court, backed by the United Nations, to investigate and prosecute Russia's crime of aggression. We are ready to start working with the international community to get the broadest international support possible for this specialised court." She also alluded to more stringent sanctions against Moscow, saying, "Russia must also pay financially for the devastation it caused."

The proposal to establish a special court to try crimes against peace recalls the International Military Tribunal established at Nuremberg in 1945 to try members of the Nazi government of Germany for crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. The International Criminal Court represents an effort to make prosecution of war crimes and crimes against humanity feasible on a standing basis. The EC President's remarks indicate that there's an international desire to deal also with crimes against peace, the "crime of aggression."

Killnet barks at the White House.

The cyber auxiliaries of the nominally hacktivist group Killnet have claimed, according to Trustwave's SpiderLabs researchers, to have mounted successful distributed denial-of-service attacks against Starlink, the White House, and a variety of British websites. The attacks don't appear to have risen to even the level of a noticeable nuisance. Their coup-counting against the White House is instructive in what it suggests about the group's skids-of-the-world-unite persona: "30 minutes of collective test attack on the 'WHITE HOUSE' was very successful! Of course, we wanted to take longer, but did not take into account the intensity of the request filtering system. But!!! The White House was banged up in front of everyone!" Nobody else seems to have noticed. Did they DDoS WhiteHouse dot com instead of WhiteHouse dot gov? Those top-level domains can be so confusing.

Trustwave's assessment concludes, "We should expect to see more of these low skill attacks from Killnet targeting an ever-growing list of targets that it considers to be in opposition to Russian interests. However, it remains to be seen whether the group can graduate to attacks that cause damage, exfiltrate data, or do more than take down a website for a short period of time."

A retired US Marine Corps general is not commanding a Wagner Group battalion.

Contrary to some recent woofing by Yevgenyi Prigozhin, the claim that a retired US Marine general is working for the Wagner Group is hogwash. See Task & Purpose for a discussion. As much as Mr. Prigozhin might want to sell his mercenaries as a contemporary version of the Spanish Civil War's International Brigades, few will be buying.