Ukraine at D+426: Waiting for the spring offensive.
N2K logoApr 26, 2023

As Ukraine continues to prepare for its spring offensive (and Russia continues to chew on Bakhmut), digital evidence of atrocities is being collected.

Ukraine at D+426: Waiting for the spring offensive.

The news of Russia's war against Ukraine is dominated by speculation about preparations for Ukraine's spring offensive, generally thought to be entering the final stages of preparation.

The UK's Ministry of Defence describes the current situation in the now nearly year-long fight for Bakhmut. "Heavy, short-range combat continues in the western districts of the contested Donetsk Oblast town of Bakhmut. A key development over the last week has been fighting on the outskirts of the town, especially near the village of Khromove, as Ukraine seeks to maintain control of its 0506 supply route. Ukraine’s other resupply options into Bakhmut are likely complicated by muddy conditions on unsurfaced tracks. With the town having now been under attack for over 11 months, the Ukrainian defences of Bakhmut have now been integrated as one element of a much deeper defensive zone, which includes the town of Chasiv Yar to the west."

An overview of hacktivism (much of it Russian).

Radware issued a report this morning offering an overview of the current state of hacktivism. Much of the genuine politically motivated actions have pursued familiar targets--Israel, for example, comes in at number one among the countries targeted--but the emergence of hacktivist organizations serving as cyber auxiliaries to governments, especially the Russian government, is a noteworthy development. The Russian hacktivist organizations include KillNet, NoName057(16) (which wants everyone to understand that they're not working for KillNet) and the Passion Group (which began its career as a KillNet affiliate, but which has recently shown signs of morphing into a profit-driven criminal gang with an advocacy side hustle). Radware's conclusion sums up the record the Russian hacktivists have compiled: "Pro-Russian hacktivists have been actively attacking anyone who supports Ukraine or goes against Russia for over a year now. Killnet has been dedicated to its cause and has had the time to build experience and increase its circle of influence across affiliate pro-Russian hacktivist groups. We’ve seen groups like NoName057(16) successfully exploring crowd-sourced botnets with financial incentives and Passion group providing DDoS-as-a-service attacks to like-minded groups. While NoName057(16) is the major force to be reckoned with in terms of DDoS attacks, Killnet’s influence, reach and tactics are growing and changing, and they are not showing signs of slowing down or retiring soon."

Ukraine continues to collect evidence of Russian war crimes.

Ukraine is collecting evidence of alleged Russian war crimes, with a view toward both prosecuting those responsible (should they become available for prosecution) or at least toward ensuring the preservation of the historical record, and assuring that the history is told accurately. In this effort they're receiving international assistance, some of it from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. These investigations are groundbreaking in that so much of the relevant evidence is digital, CyberScoop reports. Digital forensics will be important not only for investigating cyberattacks against civilian infrastructure, but also for geolocation of perpetrators in the vicinity of their crimes. We would add two other potential spheres of investigation: collection of communications authorizing and organizing atrocities, and collection of communications that amount to incitement.