The air war over Ukraine and Eastern Russia grows more active, and Ukraine takes a step closer to NATO.
Ukraine at D+447: Ukraine is now a member of NATO's CCDCOE.
There's a shift in attention to the air war over Ukraine and Western Russia as newly supplied Ukrainian air defense systems begin to tell against Russian aircraft and missiles. Russia is attempting to destroy US-supplied Patriot batteries and claims to have done so; the US says the systems, whatever damage they might have sustained, remain operational.
The air domain in Russia's war against Ukraine.
The UK's Ministry of Defence in this morning's situation report focuses on the air domain, and on the increased effectiveness and range of Ukrainian air defenses. "Over the last week, the air battle over the Russia-Ukraine border has intensified. On 13 May 2023 alone, four Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) aircraft (two advanced combat jets and two helicopters) crashed, apparently shot down over Russia’s Bryansk region. On 03 May 2023, Ukraine achieved the first ever shoot-down of a KILLJOY air-launched ballistic missile. Subsequently, Russia has prioritised attempting to neutralise Ukraine’s improved air defence capabilities, but in the process has likely lost several more KILLJOY. The increased air threat over Russia’s border region will be of exceptional concern for the VKS because it uses the area to launch air power in support of the war. The apparent vulnerability of KILLJOY is likely a surprise and an embarrassment for Russia: Russian President Vladimir Putin has touted the system as undefeatable." "Killjoy" is the NATO reporting name for Russia's Х-47М2 Kinzhal ("Dagger"), Russia's newest, air-launched, hypersonic land attack missile. The Kinzhal's speed had been widely believed to render it immune to defensive weapons.
UK-supplied Storm Shadow missiles are seen as holding Russian logistical lines and headquarters at risk, Breaking Defense reports. According to the Telegraph, France will join the UK in supplying Storm Shadows to Ukraine.
The CIA's offer to Russian officials may have had some takers.
The CIA's video invitation offering disaffected Russian, especially officials, a secure way of contacting them, may be attracting some takers. The Wall Street Journal reports that an official has told them,“It is resulting in contact." The official declined to say how many Russians had made contact, or what information they were offering, but the tone of the remarks is broadly optimistic.
Ukraine is now a member of NATO's Cyber Centre.
Ukraine isn't a NATO member, but it's now a "Contributing Participant" (along with Ireland, Iceland, and Japan) in NATO's Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE). Computing reports that progress toward that status began shortly after Russia's invasion last year. It's now a formal reality.
The CCDCOE is headquartered in Tallinn, Estonia, and Ukraine's ambassador to Estonia, Mariana Betsa, said the accession was "an important event" that "serves an important step on Ukraine's path to NATO." She added, "In the light of Russia's continuous military aggression and hybrid war, Ukraine joining CCDCOE further strengthens our state's cyber capability. I want to thank the CCDCOE sponsor states for inviting Ukraine to join. I also extend my special gratitude to the Republic of Estonia as the hosting state for their support and assistance on our path to NATO CCDCOE."