As Russia continues heavy missile strikes against Ukrainian cities, the Wagner Group complains that the Russian regulars have withdrawn in Bakhmut, exposing Wagner's flanks.
Ukraine at D+448: More Russian strikes against cities.
Russian strikes against Ukrainian cities remain heavy, with some thirty missiles fired in the most recent wave of attcks. Twenty-nine of the missiles were shot down by Ukrainian air defenses, the BBC reports, but some damage was done on the ground by falling debris, and one missile killed a civilian in Odessa.
Wagner Group boss Yevgeny Prigozhin has criticized the Russian army for leaving the Wagner Group's flanks exposed in Bakhmut. “Unfortunately, units of the Russian defence ministry have withdrawn up to 570 metres to the north of Bakhmut, exposing our flanks,” the Guardian quotes Mr. Prigozhin as saying in a voice message. “I am appealing to the top leadership of the ministry of defence – publicly – because my letters are not being read,” and, addressing Defense Minister Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Gerasimov, adding, “Please do not give up the flanks."
From the UK Ministry of Defence this morning: "The Russian state is likely effectively banning senior officials from resigning from their jobs while the ‘Special Military Operation’ continues. The measures likely extend to at least regional leaders, security officials and members of the powerful Presidential Administration. In private, many officials are likely highly sceptical about the war, as well as often experiencing work stress within the dysfunctional wartime apparatus. The ban is likely enforced with strong hints that resignees will face trumped up criminal charges. As well as being concerned about capability gaps resignees would leave, the authorities are likely also attempting to prevent any impression of defeatism, and to bolster a sense of collective responsibility for the war."
The effects of hacktivism on Russia's war against Ukraine.
A study the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) published this morning addresses various aspects of the war in cyberspace. One of the report's constituent essays looks at the use of "proxies," that is, deniable hacktivist or criminal groups that serve as cyber auxiliaries under the direction of state authorities. That direction can be relatively loose or relatively stringent. The essay takes two representative and opposing groups, the IT Army of Ukraine (working in the interest of Kyiv) and KillNet (working for Moscow). It sees similarities in the effects they've achieved--nuisance-level hacking, for the most part--and it concludes that the proxies have had their most significant effect in terms of propaganda. The proxies' records, the study concludes, suggest that they're best understood as influence operations.