Ukraine at D+581: Nuisance-level DDoS.
N2K logoSep 28, 2023

Nuisance-level hacktivism hits Russian airlines. The Russian Foreign Ministry blames Anglo-Saxonia for strikes against the Black Sea Fleet.

Ukraine at D+581: Nuisance-level DDoS.

Ukrainian forces continued their slow advance around Bakhmut and in the Zaproizhia Oblast, and Russia resumed drone strikes against Ukrainian cities overnight. Those strikes are generally thought to have done little damage. The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reports, "Geolocated footage published on September 26 indicates that Ukrainian forces advanced near Orikhovo-Vasylivka (10km northwest of Bakhmut). Additional geolocated footage published on September 26 indicates that Russian forces likely no longer control a roughly one-kilometer-long trench line west of Verbove (16km southeast of Orikhiv). Ukrainian officers are optimistic but short on details.

Also short on details, the ISW says, are the Russian hard-war milbloggers, who have, paradoxically, been a major source of information about Russian battlefield performance. Most of their commentary has been adverse, critical, but many of the formerly chatty kibbitzers have now gone quiet. It's unclear why this is so: discouragement, a clamp-down, or a desire to help cloak Russian operations. Take your pick.

The New York Times looks at the line of contact between Russian and Ukrainian forces and concludes that neither side has been able to make significant gains of territory since last winter. The Ukrainian advances seem real, and NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg commented on them positively during his visit to Kyiv this week, but they also seem local, with a major breakthrough still in the offing.

Russia accuses the US and UK of enabling Ukrainian attacks against Sevastopol bases.

Still recovering from Ukrainian strikes against Black Sea Fleet facilities in Sevastopol, Russia's Foreign Ministry said the US and the UK were behind Ukraine's operation. The AP quotes Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, who said, “There is no doubt that the attack had been planned in advance using Western intelligence means, NATO satellite assets and reconnaissance planes and was implemented upon the advice of American and British security agencies and in close coordination with the." The statement is consistent with the Russian narrative established during the second year of the war. First, Russia is the victim of aggression; the war was instigated by NATO, and especially by NATO's Anglo-Saxon masters. Second, Ukraine couldn't possibly resist Russian arms, thus Russia's lack of battlefield success is attributable to NATO, which "obviously" has Russia outnumbered and outgunned.

Russia applies to rejoin the UN Human Rights Council.

Russia has made formal application for readmission to the United Nations Human Rights Council, CNN reports. It was suspended from the body after its invasion of Ukraine. Moscow's application promised that it would “firmly promote principles of cooperation and strengthening of constructive mutually respectful dialogue.” The US dismissed the application as "preposterous," noting that Russia is itself the subject of a major UN inquiry into alleged war crimes. A commission of the Human Rights Council said this Monday that it had received “continuous evidence that Russian forces are committing war crimes in Ukraine.” The allegations against Russia include “unlawful attacks with explosive weapons, attacks harming civilians, torture, sexual and gender-based violence, and attacks on energy infrastructure.”

Ukrainian hacktivists target Russian airline check-in systems.

Several Russian airlines warned customers to expect difficulties at the gates. Aeroflot, Pobeda, Azur Air, and Rossiya at least have experienced problems with their check-in systems. Aeroflot offered an explanation in its Telegram channel: “Attention to passengers flying on Aeroflot Group airlines. Due to a global failure in the Leonardo reservation system, check-in at airports in the company’s route network is difficult." "Global" should be interpreted as "general," because Leonardo is a home-grown Russian airline reservation system. It was developed by Sirena-Travel, a subsidiary of the Russian state-owned tech conglomerate, Rostec, in 2014, but the system came into use only last year, when Western tech companies pulled out of the Russian market after the invasion of Ukraine.

Cybernews describes the issue as a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, with Leonardo "flooded" by traffic. The IT Army of Ukraine, a cyber auxiliary group operated on behalf of Ukraine, claimed responsibility. “While you’re sipping your artisanal latte, our 'noble' neighbors to the north are stuck in queues, trying to book flights,” the IT Army taunted in its Telegram channel. “Well done, IT Army!” The attack was over in a matter of hours, and service is now said to be returning to normal.