Ukraine at D+594: Opportunisic misdirection.
N2K logoOct 11, 2023

Questions arise about Russian morale as the Kremlin welcomes Hamas's war as an opportunity for distraction and division.

Ukraine at D+594: Opportunisic misdirection.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reports on Russian claims of progress in an effort to encircle Ukrainian forces in their salient near Avdiivka, but those claims are unconfirmed and seem inflated: Russia lacks the forces in the area that would be necessary for an envelopment. On the other hand, Ukrainian forces have "made confirmed advances in the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area."

Command and morale in the Russian army.

The ISW also reports that Lieutenant General Denis Lyamin may have been relieved from command of Russia's 58th Combined Arms Army, currently defending position in the western Zaporizhia Oblast. Sources say that General Lyamin, who himself replaced Major General Ivan Popov in July after General Popov criticized the Russian command, was moved to the position of Central Military District Chief of Staff in order to distance him from the 58th CAA's problems. General Lyamin is believed to be a protégé of Chief of the General Staff Army General Valery Gerasimov. The insider source suggested that Gerasimov removed Lyamin from command of the 58th CAA and re-assigned him the position of Chief of Staff of the Central Military District to shield him from criticism over Russian operations in western Zaporizhia Oblast.

The UK's Ministry of Defence describes a "mental health crisis" in the Russian army. "The Russian military is facing a mental health crisis. In December 2022, Russian psychologists identified approximately 100,000 military personnel suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This number is almost certainly now higher as the Russian military fails to provide sufficient rotation and recuperation from the battlefield. This was a problem highlighted by multiple commanders, including the former 58th Combined Arms Army’s General-Major Ivan Popov who was relieved of command in July 2023. There are additional indications that doctors in Russia are sending military personnel who are unfit to fight to the front. Appeal claims against Russian military medical commissions are higher in 2023 than they were in 2022, with many cases denied or claims abandoned. With a lack of care for its soldiers’ mental health and fitness to fight, Russia's combat fighting effectiveness continues to operate at sub-optimal levels."

Hacktivist auxiliaries shift their focus from Ukraine to Gaza and Israel.

Hamas's attacks against Israeli cvilians, with the horrific casualties they've produced and engendered, have shifted the attention of many hacktivists and hacktivist auxiliaries from their customary preoccupations (including Russia's war against Ukraine) to the new war in the Middle East. The Guardian, citing research by CyberCX, reports that early signs of this involve influence campaigns. "At least 30 groups ideologically aligned with Russia, Ukraine, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh had shifted their messaging on social media," the Guardian writes.

The Russian auxiliaries can be expected to use the war between Israel and Hamas as a pretext to hit targets they're already interested in. KillNet and Anonymous Sudan are the most prominent such groups to have announced their support for Hamas.