Ukraine at D+572: Diplomacy at the UN, potential Russian DPRK cooperation in cyber ops.
N2K logoSep 19, 2023

President Zelenskyy makes his case at the UN (and to Washington) as Ukraine continues to advance in the south and Russia continues indiscriminate strikes against cities.

Ukraine at D+572: Diplomacy at the UN, potential Russian DPRK cooperation in cyber ops.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) sees Ukraine’s success in taking Klishchiivka and Andriivka, as operationally significant. The engagements south of Bakhmut "could have rendered combat ineffective in as many as three Russian brigades." Ukrainian forces to at least interdict, and possibly control, the Russian ground lines of communication into the Bakhmut sector. Russian defenses in that sector will now concentrate on maintaining or reestablishing control over the principal road in the area, the T0513 Bakhmut-Horlivka highway.

Direct attack and collateral defensive damage.

Russian strikes against cities continue. Most of the incoming missiles and drones are being shot down by Ukrainian air defenses, but some continue to find their targets. One such strike hit the western city of Lviv, killing one. Farther east, shelling killed one and wounded at least two in Kherson. It's worth remembering that air defenses present their own hazards to people on the ground. Even when they function properly, they drop heavy and dangerous debris, and sometimes they malfunction. The New York Times reports that it now appears the awful September 6th strike on Kostiantynivka, which killed least fifteen civilians and injured more than thirty others, was attributable to a wayward Buk air defense missile fired by Ukrainian defenders at an inbound Russian strike 

Reorganization of Ukraine's Ministry of Defense.

The shake-up of Ukraine's Defense Ministry continues, with the dismissal of all six deputy ministers. The source for the news is the Telegram channel of Taras Melnychuk, permanent representative of the Cabinet of Ministers. No explanation for the firings has been offered, but they come in the wake of the installation of a new Defense Minister earlier this month.

President Zelenskyy comes to New York.

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy is in New York, where he'll address the United Nations during this week's General Debate annual summit. He will denounce Russian aggression and genocide, and call for international support. “It’s very important that all our words, all our messages will be heard by our partners,” Al Jazeera quotes him as saying. “And if in the United Nations still … there is a place for Russian terrorists, the question not to me I think, it’s a question to all the members of the United Nations.” US President Biden will also address the session today. He is expected to make a strong case for international support that would enable Ukraine to drive back the Russian invaders. The two presidents will meet after the UN summit to discuss further US aid for Ukraine.

Small-boat diversionary action.

Both sides are conducting riverine operations against small islands in the lower Dnipro. "Through the first half of September 2023, heavy fighting has continued around the islands in the lower Dnipro in Kherson Oblast, which currently marks the front line," the UK's Ministry of Defence writes in this morning's situation report. "Both sides have launched raids with teams in small boats against the islands and against the opposite riverbanks. There is a realistic possibility that Russian operations in the area have been energised since the sector came under the responsibility of the newly created 40th Army Corps. The number of forces involved are relatively small compared to other fronts; however, both sides see the area as strategically important. It also provides the opportunity to draw their adversary’s units away from the intense combat in Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk oblasts."

Potential Russia-DPRK cooperation in cyberspace.

Russia's immediate interest in cultivating its relationship with North Korea is the prospect of Pyongyang supplying Russia's army with artillery ammunition, as expenditures have far exceeded Russian production capacity. There are, however, other potential areas of cooperation, notably in cyberspace. An essay in the EconoTimes argues, "Both North Korea and Russia are highly capable cyberwar and cyber intelligence nations: they can disrupt or break key infrastructure and steal sensitive government information. North Korea’s Lazarus group of hackers has been identified –– through careful process tracing –– to be responsible for thefts of crypto currency totalling tens of millions of dollars." Such cooperation wouldn't necessarily require much coordination. Most of North Korea's offensive cyber operations are already directed against countries whose relations with Russia are at least cool, if not downright adversarial.