Ukraine at D+335: Germany sends Leopards; Russia sends Killnet.
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Russian cyber auxiliaries respond to Germany's decision to send Ukraine tanks with DDoS attacks against German sites.

Ukraine at D+335: Germany sends Leopards; Russia sends Killnet.

Ukraine has confirmed that its forces have withdrawn from the disputed town of Soledar, near Bakhmut, conceding a local victory to Russian forces.

Tanks for Ukraine.

Germany has changed course on its earlier reluctance to provide Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine, the Telegraph reports. Chancellor Scholz said, "The goal is to quickly assemble two tank battalions with Leopard 2 tanks for Ukraine. In a first step, Germany will provide a company with 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks from stocks of the Bundeswehr." Other NATO members will receive Germany's authorization to re-export the German-manufactured tanks. The first set of vehicles will be enough to equip two battalions. (Depending on the army, a battalion will have between thirty and sixty tanks.) The US is also said to be preparing to send Ukraine a significant number of M1 Abrams tanks. (Despite a Pentagon no-comment on the matter in a press briefing Breaking Defense quoted yesterday, the New York Times reports that senior Administration officials have said, speaking on condition of anonymity, that the US would announce its intent to provide M1s today.)

In aggregate, counting British Challengers, Leopards from Germany and Eastern Europe, and M1s from the US, the Telegraph estimates the pending donation of heavy armor at about two-hundred tanks. The significance of the main battle tanks, when added to the artillery, infantry fighting vehicles, and wheeled combat vehicles already being delivered (with more on the way) is summarized in a Telegraph explainer. The unremitting brutality of Russia's war and its accompanying failure are seen as having convinced NATO to supply Ukraine with armor that may constitute a decisive contribution to Ukrainian victory this spring.

Tanks for Russia.

In this morning's situation report, the UK's Ministry of Defence looks at the deployment of Russia's newest tank. The T-14 Armata appears to be more a work-in-progress than a system that's reached full operational capability. "As previously reported, Russia has worked to prepare a small number of T-14 Armata main battle tanks for the type’s first operational deployment in Ukraine. However, in recent months, deployed Russian forces were reluctant to accept the first tranche of T-14 allocated to them because the vehicles were in such poor condition. It is unclear exactly what aspects of the vehicles prompted this reaction, but within the last three years, Russian officials have publicly described problems with the T-14’s engine and thermal imaging systems. In 2021, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu described the planned production run for 2022 as only an 'experimental-industrial' batch. Therefore, it is unlikely that any deployed T-14 tanks will have met the usual standards for new equipment to be deemed operational."

Russian hacktivist auxiliaries hit German targets.

Reuters reports this morning that Killnet responded to the German government's decision to supply Leopard tanks to Ukraine by hitting a range of German sites with distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. They were generally of brief duration and amounted to little more than a minor nuisance. Germany's BSI cybersecurity agency said, "Currently, some websites are not accessible. There are currently no indications of direct effects on the respective service and, according to the BSI's assessment, these are not to be expected if the usual protective measures are taken."

Private sector support for Ukraine's cyber defense.

Kyiv has often acknowledged the contribution private-sector corporations have made to its cyber defense and IT resiliency over the course of Russia's war. Computer World has an account of how one company in particular, Microsoft, has helped. The assistance rendered has been, the piece argues, both principled and the working of enlightened self-interest. "Microsoft isn’t just trying to help defend a country under siege from an aggressive, more-powerful neighbor," Computer World argues. "Russian cyberattacks against Ukraine can also get loose in the wild and do damage to enterprises and organizations that rely on Microsoft technology. (Russia could also deliberately target private companies with those attacks.) By helping Ukraine, Microsoft also helps its customers — and it happens to be good PR, as well." Russian cyberattacks against Ukraine had gotten loose in the wild even before last year's invasion, with NotPetya being the most prominent example.

MIcrosoft has provided both threat intelligence and the sort of hardening and resiliency that have helped Ukraine keep its networks up and running. Computer World summarizes the effects: "Ukraine has so far defeated Russia in the cyberwar. Russia’s once-feared hackers threw everything they had against Ukraine, including trying to shut down the power grid, disable government networks, and kill satellite communications. They failed every time."