36,000 Western-trained Ukrainian troops prepare to enter battle.
Ukraine at D+484: Missile strikes, cyberattacks, and (allegedly) wicked counselors.
Russian missile strikes against Ukrainian cities persist at an accelerated tempo, Radio Free Europe | Radio Liberty reports. Ukrainian air defenses continue to score some successes against incoming missiles. For its part, Russia says, according to the AP, that it shot down three Ukrainian drones outside of Moscow.
Nine Ukrainian brigades, about 36,000 soldiers all told, trained and equipped by NATO, are preparing to enter battle, the New York Times reports. Expectations are high. Laura K. Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, expressed confidence in Ukraine's prospects during testimony yesterday before a US House Foreign Affairs Committee subcommittee hearing. "Ukraine is attempting to liberate its territory from Russian occupation or control, including in the latest counter-offensive. Ukraine is well prepared and equipped. Although the course of war is dynamic and unpredictable, we do have great confidence in the training capabilities and preparedness of the Ukrainian armed forces," she said.
Harbor defense, with an excursus on dolphins.
The UK's Ministry of Defence reports on enhanced Russian defenses at Sevastopol. "Since summer 2022, the Russian Navy has invested in major enhancements to the security of the Black Sea Fleet’s main base at Sevastopol. This includes at least four layers of nets and booms across the harbour entrance. In recent weeks, these defences have highly likely also been augmented by an increased number of trained marine mammals. Imagery shows a near doubling of floating mammal pens in the harbour which highly likely contain bottle-nosed dolphins. In Arctic waters, the navy also uses Beluga whales and seals. Russia has trained animals for a range of missions, but the ones housed in Sevastopol harbour are highly likely intended to counter enemy divers." This may seem bizarre to those unfamiliar with the use of marine mammals for harbor security, but the practice is fairly widespread among the world's larger navies.
Ukraine experiencing a "wave" of cyberattacks during its counteroffensive.
US Deputy National Security Advisor Anne Neuberger told the FT Cyber Resilience Summit yesterday, “We know Ukraine is currently experiencing a significant surge in cyberattacks in parallel to the kinetic aspects.” The Record reports that she specified neither the scope of the attacks nor the sectors that were receiving hostile attention.
"Anonymous Sudan" is neither.
There's a growing consensus that Anonymous Sudan, which represents itself as a hacktivist organization with Islamist sympathies operating in Sudan, is neither an Anonymous affiliate nor Sudanese. Cybernews summarizes the evidence that points to the group's status as a KillNet affiliate, which means in turn that it's working for the Russian intelligence services. Much of the evidence leading to the conclusion that Anonymous Sudan is a Russian front group comes from research by Australian security firm CyberCX, and Anonymous Sudan wasn't happy about being outed. The group yesterday said it had conducted a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack against CyberCX's website (no signs of disruption this morning), explaining, "The reason for the attack: stop spreading rumors about us, and you must tell the truth and stop the investigations that we call the investigations of a dog." The "dog" insult is a nice but too obvious gesture toward the culture of the Sahel, but, really, few will be deceived. Straight up, Anonymous Sudan is Russian.
Wicked counselors around the throne? If only the Tsar knew.
Given the insistence in Russian state media that the Russian Army is the best force going, the envy of the world (see the Russian Media Monitor's translation of Vladimir Solovyov's chat show for a recent example) the natural question to ask would be, why has its performance fallen short of that reputation? The most common answer is that the Army has been restrained, and not permitted to do what it does best. Thus victory will come through greater ruthlessness, through more violence of execution at and beyond the front.
The natural follow-on question would be, who, then, specifically, is responsible for holding the Army back? This has received fewer answers. But according to the Telegraph, Wagner group boss Yevgeny Prigozhin has now offered one: “Total trash is being put on the president’s desk. Shoigu and Gerasimov have a simple approach. The lie must be monstrous for people to believe it. That is what they are doing,” Mr Prigozhin said in a recent video message his organization posted online. Mssrs. Shoigu and Gerasimov are especially interested in concealing the nature and even more so the extent of Russian losses and setbacks. "It’s all being hidden from everyone. Russia will wake up one day and learn that Crimea has been handed over to the Ukrainians. They are misleading the Russian people and if it keeps on like this, we’ll be left without the most important thing: Russia.” If only the Tsar (or in this case, the President) knew!